Good evening, morning, afternoon and/or the brunching hour! Just when you think you can take a day off from NFL news, you’ll quickly learn that the National Football League never sleeps. But, you should grab a few zzzz’s while I compile all the news that is fit to digitize into your gray matter.
This offseason has seen Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff switch places, Carson Wentz force himself out of Philadelphia to Indianapolis and DeShaun Watson demand a trade which the Texans are fighting tooth and nail. Now the Russell Wilson drama continues to heat up after a recent article from The Athletic, which details the rocky relationship Wilson and the coaching staff had last season. It’s gone as far as Wilson’s camp asking about a potential trade.
San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch says, ”I really believe” Jimmy Garoppolo will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2021. And he’s probably right. Garoppolo isn’t the quarterback you’d wish for, but he can play well when healthy and he did help his team get to a Super Bowl two seasons ago. Of course, if Watson were to somehow become an option, Lynch would kick Jimmy G. to the curb toot sweet.
Cam Newton says he’s open to signing a one-year deal with the Patriots. New England would like to find their long-term answer at quarterback, but at the moment, they don’t have much access to that player. The list for Cam’s replacement looks like Marcus Mariota, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jacoby Brissett, Mitch Trubisky, Andy Dalton, and, well you get the point. The Week 1 starter in New England is very much up in the air.
The Cowboys want to extend Dak Prescott as soon as possible, showing that his ankle surgery went well and that they are willing to make him their franchise quarterback coming off the injury. Of course, Prescott, even with the injury, has a better bargaining position than before his injury. We’ll see what happens, but the odds are still good that he’ll get a huge contract before the team has to franchise tag him.
Franchise tagging season
Teams are now able to tag players up until March 9th. There are plenty of great players who might be tagged this offseason, including Dak Prescott, Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson, but teams much rather get players they want to keep around on longer contracts. It’s better for the salary cap usually and the player is going to be happier. Only 14 teams used the tag last season, and if they could have avoided it, most of those teams would have went another direction.
So far the only player who we know will be tagged if they can’t get a deal done is Carolina Panthers right tackle Taylor Moton. Moton is one of those foundational linemen who doesn’t miss snaps and is nearly perfect at his craft. The Panthers will try hard to het him under a long-term contract.
The Broncos star safety Justin Simmons looks like he will be tagged again, but that’s more of an expectation than sourced report from NFL Network’s James Palmer. This would be the second season the team tagged Simmons.
Kenny Golladay wasn’t able to stay on the field last season, but it looks like the Lions are thinking about giving him the franchise tag, per Ian Rapoport. With Marvin Jones likely gone in free agency, the Lions would be without a starting-caliber outside receiver if they let Golladay go as well.
Big Ben will play his 18th season in Pittsburgh
It was starting to look a little dicey as to if Ben Roethlisberger would return for another season in Pittsburgh, but he wants to and has made it clear that he is ready to do whatever it takes with his contract to help the team add cap space and the Steelers appear to be on board.
There is no doubt that Roethlisberger’s arm was limited last season coming off offseason surgery, but the team was able to put 12 wins together and they don’t have a young quarterback coming to save them this season. The hope for the Steelers is that Roethlisberger’s arm has a bit of a bounce back after a couple years removed from surgery.
Free agency tidbits
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster says he wants to re-sign with Pittsburgh, but that would likely mean he’d have to take a deal below market value. The Steelers cap situation is going to be extremely limiting this offseason and they probably have bigger fish to fry than Smith-Schuster.
Aaron Jones could get up to $15 million a year in free agency according to The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia. Jones’ ability is easily the best on the market and he’s probably the only back available who could truly make an impact on a team’s offense. We won’t see many running backs getting paid this offseason, but Jones could be the exception.
Offseason is surgery season
Many players end up playing through injuries and then have them taken care of through surgery in the off-season. I cannot relate.
Jason Pierre-Paul recently had a knee scope done to clean up some ouchies (that’s a technical term), but he should be good to go by training camp. He ended the season with 9.5 sacks and a Super Bowl ring.
Chiefs right tackle Mitchell Schwartz had back surgery after holding off for a chance to play in the playoffs or Super Bowl. He didn’t get that chance, but he should be ready for Week 1. The delay might keep him out of the start of training camp, but unless he has a setback, he should be good to go.
Shedding salary cap
This offseason is going to be tough for veterans, as the salary cap has taken a hit due to COVID-19 and if you are a declining player on an escalating contract, you’re chance of being let go is high. We haven’t seen any really big names let go yet, as the moves aren’t official until March 17, but it’s slowing starting.
Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been released by the team. When healthy, he has still shown ability, but health has been extremely hard to come by for the speedster as he gets older.
The Raiders cut ties with wide receiver Tyrell Williams. He tore his labrum before the season and didn’t suit up. The move will save the Raiders $10.6 million in cap space, so it was a no-brainer.