NFLTR Review: Eight Things We Learned From The First Week Of Free Agency

Free agency happens fast and furious, and less than a week in most of the action has already gone down:

  • Money talks. Here’s what it says about the FA QBs
  • Why one Falcons deal gave a big hint about what the NFL will look like in the future
  • Who really has the edge in the Packers/Jets standoff — & why it might drag on til June or longer

What We Learned

This is one of the busiest points on the NFL calendar, with tons of activity and updates flying in by the minute at times. But it can be tough to suss out what it really means for the upcoming seasons. Perceived success in March doesn’t always translate to wins in the fall. Ask the Broncos and Colts about that from last year. 

At the same time, the team that has spent the most money in free agency over the past several seasons has seen an average improvement of more than five wins. So it’s not all bad. 

Last year in this same column, I put the Chargers, Buccaneers and Raiders in the winners’ column and the Cowboys, Jaguars and Seahawks in the losers’ column. The Chargers were the only one in the winners’ column to make the playoffs, where they choked in one of the largest postseason comebacks ever. Jacksonville was on the other side of that game, and Dallas and Seattle also far outperformed my expectations. 

The goal this year is to write something that doesn’t age as poorly. So instead of winners and losers, we’re going to go with eight things we learned from the first week of free agency. 

Don’t hand Ryan Poles executive of the year just yet

We can’t talk about free agency without talking about the Bears, who entered this past week with the most cap space of any team entering free agency ever, more than $90 million. Add in the blockbuster deal they got for auctioning off the No. 1 pick, and the Bears have the kind of roster retooling firepower that would make Oppenheimer blush. 

The thing is, getting here was the easy part, relatively speaking. It was easy for Chicago to strip its team for parts and they had the fortune to earn the No. 1 pick in a hot year for quarterbacks. They have tons of cap space because they barely have any good players. It’s up to GM Ryan Poles to turn all of those picks and cash into good players who will help the Bears get back to relevance. 

We’ll find out soon enough if he’s up for it. The Bears spent big this week, and what I will say about their haul so far this offseason is most of the key players are 26 or younger. Most of the players on the list, which includes WR D.J. Moore, LB Tremaine Edmunds, G Nate Davis and LB T.J. Edwards, are still young enough to be potential building blocks for the next three to five years. Edmunds doesn’t actually turn 25 for a couple more months and already has five seasons under his belt. 

But outside of Moore, none of Chicago’s additions play a high-value position. The Bears spent all this money on a pair of linebackers, a guard and a big defensive end in 28-year-old DeMarcus Walker. Not to slight these players, but arguably two of the easiest positions to fill right now in the NFL are guard and linebacker. The Bears still have needs at tackle, pass rusher, both on the edge and interior, and cornerback. There’s time to address those of course, but it’s fair to question how much bang the Bears have created for their buck so far. It doesn’t help that guys like Edmunds, Davis and Walker have battled inconsistent play at times in their careers. 

It’s an interesting start for Poles. Moore is a home-run addition, and helps make up for the Chase Claypool trade that’s turning into a budding disaster. That deal is also a reminder that none of the assets Poles has accumulated matter if he can’t turn them into productive players. For now, the jury remains out. 

The Falcons’ pre-free agency mega-extension offers a clue about where the NFL is headed

Before free agency even started, the Falcons were already tossing around tons of cash. They inked starting right guard Chris Lindstrom to a five-year, $105 million extension that makes him the NFL’s new highest-paid guard at $21 million a year, surpassing Colts G Quenton Nelson who this past summer became the first $20 million a year guard in NFL history. 

Lindstrom is really good but he’s a tier lower than Nelson, who is about as big of a star as an offensive lineman can be. When Nelson signed his deal, it was around $4 million beyond the top of the guard market. Earlier this offseason, the Packers locked up OL Elgton Jenkins — who had a legitimate case to ask for tackle money based on his track record — to a deal for only $17 million a year, falling in between Nelson and the rest of the market. That looks like a steal after Lindstrom’s deal, which is the new bar the top guards will be trying to clear. 

So did the Falcons just massively overpay Lindstrom? What’s the deal here? To understand this, it’s instructive to look ahead to the cap space projections for 2024 from Over The Cap. Most of the free agency money has been spent this year, and there are still 10 teams who are sitting at over $100 million in 2024 space. Even if we adjust it to effective cap space, there are still seven teams who could blow by what the Bears had for their epic free agency war chest this offseason. 

Zooming out further, there are 24 teams projected to have at least $30 million in effective cap space in 2024 as things stand right now. That number is of course going to change but it’s still almost the opposite of how the league entered this offseason, with a lot of teams strapped for space while still dealing with the ramifications of the money they pushed forward during the pandemic. We’re further out from those lean years and that’s a factor here. The other is that due to the new CBA and new TV deals signed by the NFL, the cap is set to explode. It jumped $16 million this offseason and OTC projects it will jump another $20+ million to $256 million in 2024. 

That’s all money teams have to spend. And the way most prefer to do it is via extensions for players they’ve drafted and developed rather than rolling the dice in free agency. That means Lindstrom’s deal is not an outlier and instead a harbinger of what’s coming: 

  1. With the cap set to skyrocket, so will salaries as they grow in proportion to the cap. For instance, Nelson’s deal was 9.6 percent of the cap and Lindstrom’s was 9.3 percent. If players like Lions G Jonah Jackson or Patriots G Michael Onwenu are looking for just nine percent flat coming off their rookie contracts in 2024, that would be $23 million a year. Right now, that’s the top of the left tackle market, but that’s also likely going to jump. 
  2. This was a notably weak free agent class because of how picked clean it had been by extensions. That might become the new normal. 
  3. If free agency is going to be even harder to extract value from than normal, that puts more pressure on teams to address their roster via the draft or via trade. Combined with younger general managers being more willing to be aggressive with deals, that could mean more years like this past season where there were 10+ deals at the trade deadline. 

Pay attention to other extensions coming this offseason. There are a number of defensive tackles who are set to cash in, with the $22.5 million a year deal signed by Commanders DT Daron Payne serving as a floor. Quarterbacks like Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts are due for deals that should all be well over $50 million. Another batch of wide receivers, led by Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson, are eligible for new contracts, and Jefferson will get $30 million a year at least. Texans LT Laremy Tunsil and Buccaneers OT Tristan Wirfs should push the tackle market forward too, and we haven’t even talked about pass rushers. 

Money talks. Pay attention to what it’s saying about the quarterbacks

NFL teams are masters of spin. But it’s hard to spin cold, hard cash. Teams can’t lie with their roster moves, and contracts often say the most about how they view players. 

With that in mind:

Giants QB Daniel Jones: Four years, $160 million, $40 million per year

When it’s all said and done this offseason, this deal will probably be around 12th at the position in APY. That’s still a significant commitment on the part of the Giants and shows they believe Jones is capable of taking a step forward. 

Saints QB Derek Carr: Four years, $150 million, $37.5 million per year

Realistically this is a three-year, $100 million deal, as there’s a $50 million base salary in the final year of the deal that balloons the overall value. That lowers the average salary to $33.3 million, which is still in the solid starting quarterback range. It’s comparable to Vikings QB Kirk Cousins and Lions QB Jared Goff, two other veteran quarterbacks who need a certain level of support around them to thrive. 

Seahawks QB Geno Smith: Three years, $75 million, $25 million per year

For years, pundits have bemoaned the lack of a quarterback middle class that distinguishes between the high-end franchise quarterbacks and everyone else who falls short of that lofty bar. “Middle tier” for quarterbacks has usually meant just a rung below the top of the pay scale, like the deal the Giants just gave Jones. 

Smith’s deal might be the start of a change, however. He had a breakout season and played like a top-ten passer. But the lack of success in the first eight years of his career would have given some teams pause about making a major investment in him as a free agent, and the Seahawks took advantage of that plus Smith’s loyalty to lock him into what will be a massive bargain of a contract if he plays anywhere close to as well as he did in 2022. He’s currently 15th in average annual salary and that number is only going to go down. 

If Smith turns back into a pumpkin, though, the Seahawks have a relatively easy out. And the deal won’t prevent them from potentially using a pick on a rookie quarterback to groom behind Smith. 

Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo: Three years, $72.3 million, $24.25 million per year

One contract can be an outlier, two is a trend. Garoppolo’s deal fits right underneath Smith’s as an example of the new quarterback middle class. Garoppolo’s not a top quarterback but he’s been good enough to win a lot of games in San Francisco. Questions about how he’d look outside of that environment and his lengthy injury history drove his value down. Garoppolo provides the Raiders a quarterback who knows and fits HC Josh McDaniels’ system, unlike Carr. It helps that he’s cheaper, too. There’s an out in this deal after one year, though if Garoppolo plays well it also doesn’t cost much to keep him. 

Commanders QB Jacoby Brissett: One year, $8 million

We’re in high-end backup or bridge starter territory here. Brissett’s deal is fully guaranteed and he had several options to choose from. He settled on Washington, where he should have a chance to start if last year’s fifth-round pick, Sam Howell, isn’t ready to take the reins. At the same time, this deal doesn’t guarantee Brissett anything in terms of playing time. 

Falcons QB Taylor Heinicke: Two years, $14 million, $7 million per year

Despite the length, this is a tick below Brissett as Atlanta can cut Heinicke after one year with just $7 million invested. It’s still high-end backup money, though, which you don’t do if you’re completely sold on your starter. The Falcons have talked up the idea of going with 2022 third-rounder Desmond Ridder in 2023 despite him being a fairly large question mark. He started four games and while Atlanta put up a 2-2 record and Ridder didn’t throw an interception, he also only had two touchdowns. 

Heinicke met with the media Thursday and said he was brought on to be the backup only. He’s also not the type of guy who’s going to blow the coaching staff’s socks off in camp, he’s a gamer instead. Ridder should remain the favorite to start the season but he has a leash. If he falters, Heinicke has a proven track record of stepping in and providing a spark.  

Broncos QB Jarrett Stidham: Two years, $10 million, $5 million per year

Why would a team already spending $49 million a year on its starter also feel the need to splurge on a high-end backup salary? That’s what happens when you have as bad a season as Russell Wilson did. There’s more pressure on Wilson to rebound in 2023 than there is on new HC Sean Payton to fix him. And if Wilson falters again, Denver can get out of his deal in 2024, with Stidham as an alternative already on the roster. 

Panthers QB Andy Dalton: Two years $10 million, $5 million per year

Dalton’s reputation as a quality veteran mentor got him this job in Carolina, as he doesn’t have any connections to the coaching staff. He could start to begin the season but given the Panthers are expected to use the No. 1 pick on a quarterback, it’s only a matter of time until he heads back to the bench. 

49ers QB Sam Darnold: One year, $4.5 million

This is actually an enormous sum for someone who technically is a third-string quarterback. But the unique set of circumstances the 49ers find themselves in this offseason necessitated this investment. Brock Purdy’s elbow injury requires a six-month recovery, which puts him back at the start of the regular season if everything goes smoothly but without the benefit of offseason work or likely most of training camp. That gives former No. 3 overall QB Trey Lance an opportunity to retake the starting job but he’s also coming off a severe ankle injury of his own and has struggled to stay healthy in his first two seasons. The talent and potential are still there but he’s a complete unknown. 

The 49ers needed another layer to their quarterback room, which is where Darnold comes in. They needed a player willing to be as low as No. 3 on the depth chart but also ready for the realistic chance of being pressed into the lineup at some point. They also had to fit into a certain budget.

Darnold checks all those boxes. The former No. 3 pick has flamed out with two teams, but back when he was a highly-touted prospect, 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan was a huge fan, and he’s mentioned so publicly a couple of times. We’ve seen Shanahan get a ton of production out of far less talented quarterbacks, which makes the fit for Darnold intriguing if he ends up seeing the field. 

Dolphins QB Mike White: Two years, $8 million, $4 million per year

White has significant incentives in this deal, up to $8 million, which are worth noting. Miami needed to invest in a reliable backup quarterback due to the injury issues starting QB Tua Tagovailoa battled in 2022. At the same time, this contract indicates White is in no shape or form a threat to Tagovailoa as the starter. 

Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield: One year, $4 million

The 49ers had some level of interest in Mayfield for the role they signed Darnold to, and the Rams had kept the door open to bringing him back as a backup. The Buccaneers gave Mayfield the best chance to start and at $4 million, he fit easily into their budget. He’ll compete with former second-rounder Kyle Trask, who’s been the No. 3 quarterback his first two seasons. Mayfield should be able to beat him out but his salary doesn’t make the Buccaneers over-invested in that outcome. It’ll be a true competition, unlike last summer when Mayfield was the heavy favorite over Darnold due to what the Panthers traded to get him. 

Saints QB Jameis Winston: One year, $4 million

This might have been Winston’s best option, as he took a sizable pay cut to stay with the Saints despite clearly being a backup behind Carr. It’s hard to see how he’d have gotten this much money elsewhere. And if Carr does go down, Winston has the benefit of being in the system for four years at this point to make the most of his shot. 

Seahawks QB Drew Lock: One year, $4 million

Lock couldn’t beat out Smith last summer, which in hindsight doesn’t look like as bad as it did at the time. Seattle maintains they’re optimistic about his future and $4 million is a decent investment into a clear No. 2 at this point. 

Colts QB Gardner Minshew: One year, $3.5 million

Reuniting with HC Shane Steichen who was his play-caller in Philadelphia, Minshew brings a veteran presence, knowledge of the new system and the ability to keep the seat warm until whichever rookie the Colts draft at No. 4 overall is ready to start. History says that will be sooner rather than later. 

The NFL is ageist when it comes to cornerbacks, and the Dolphins and Cowboys reaped the benefits 

The NFL generally views playing cornerback as a young man’s game, and usually it’s right. No other position is as dependent on pure athleticism and once age sets in just a little it can rob most guys of their edge. 

There are always exceptions though, and that’s where teams can gain an edge if they gamble and are right. The Dolphins and Cowboys did that this past week with major trades for veteran cornerback help. Miami sent a third-round pick and TE Hunter Long, who’s been a non-factor his first few seasons, to the Rams for CB Jalen Ramsey, while the Cowboys got Colts CB Stephon Gilmore for only a fifth-round pick. 

Both players remained among the best at their position last season. Ramsey is still only 28 but taking on his contract required guaranteeing another $30 million from the Dolphins. He is an outstanding fit in the scheme Dolphins DC Vic Fangio will run, as Ramsey has excelled the past three seasons in a version of it with the Rams. Cornerback was a big weakness for the Dolphins in 2022 but with Ramsey in the fold next to veteran CB Xavien Howard and the switch to Fangio’s scheme, it now becomes, at least on paper, a major strength. 

Gilmore is older, turning 33 in September, but on the few occasions opponents tried to test him last season, he proved it’s still not wise. He was their best defensive player for most of the season and played a huge role in closing out wins against the Chiefs and Broncos — half the team’s total for the season. 

The fit in Dallas is especially enticing. Teams picked on the No. 2 guy across from Trevon Diggs the entire season. That won’t be nearly as easy with Gilmore manning that spot, and while teams will still go at Diggs because his aggressive playing style means he gives up some plays, it means he’ll also have more takeaway opportunities. Gilmore’s also pretty good at getting his hands on the ball, too. 

And even if age comes for these players, the investment the Dolphins and Cowboys made minimizes the risk. Dallas ended up cutting a fifth-round pick last year and losing him on waivers, while Miami avoided having to give up a first-round pick or a major package like some thought the Rams were seeking in order to move Ramsey. The possible reward far outweighs the downside. 

No one knows how to talk about “leverage”

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers finally broke his silence — on the Pat McAfee Show of course — about what he wants out of this offseason, and he revealed it’s his intention and expectation to be playing for the Jets this season. That unmasked the true cause of the holdup in a deal getting done, which has been the Jets and Packers haggling over the price. And it sparked a big conversation about who has the “leverage” in this situation; Green Bay or New York. 

Opinions are all over the map, which is probably a good indicator that if someone says the answer is clear-cut, it’s really not. A lot of people are saying Green Bay has all the leverage, as they already have their starting quarterback on the roster and all of the Jets’ backup plans have signed elsewhere. The Jets were desperate for a quarterback before the offseason started and now they’re seemingly down to Rodgers or bust. 

It’s not quite that simple. While it’s probably fair to say the Packers have a little more leverage than the Jets do right now, they’re in real danger of overplaying their hand. The Jets are framed as the team with no other options, but the Packers are also holding a ticking time bomb — the $58 million option bonus Rodgers is due sometime between now and September. They can’t end up on the hook for $58 million to a quarterback they’ve moved on from. 

If Rodgers retires, Green Bay doesn’t have to pay the bonus. But he’s already made it clear he plans to play in 2023, and he’s not the kind of person who’s going to just meekly retire because the Packers own his rights. There are no other takers for Rodgers at this point, so it’s the Jets or bust if the Packers are going to trade him. Technically they could cut him, but it’s hard to see a team that’s been so sensitive to the PR perception of this relationship cutting a player and getting nothing for someone they could have traded at any point in the past two offseasons for multiple first-round picks.

As for the Jets, some people have brought up Ravens QB Lamar Jackson as a potential alternative. That’s a whole separate can of worms, but if the Jets were to pivot fully away from Rodgers, it would be their next best option. Rodgers is still Plan A, and it would be a tricky needle to thread to both court Jackson enough to spook the Packers and not offend Rodgers. 

In the end, the best option for both sides is a trade. The only question is — if not now, when? There aren’t a lot of hard deadlines to spur action now that both sides were willing to continue their staredown past the start of the league year. New York would ideally like to have Rodgers for OTAs to start the transition process but it’s not even a given he’d attend those. He skipped them for Green Bay last year and the presence of Jets OC Nathaniel Hackett gives him a decent amount of familiarity with the playbook, if not his new teammates. If the Packers are angling for a first-round pick, the draft is another soft deadline. They get some extra cap benefits if they trade Rodgers after June 1, so there’s arguably some incentive for them to wait until then. 

Beyond that point, the leverage starts to shift back in New York’s favor, as the looming bonus is the final hard deadline for Green Bay to unload Rodgers. The Jets would have a lot more urgency to get Rodgers in for training camp than OTAs, so the Packers could still hold that chip as leverage. At that point, though, they’d have held the best player in franchise history hostage for months, running the risk of seriously damaging the relationship which despite some rocky moments actually seems to be relatively healthy now.

That would be the nuclear option for both sides. Common sense says it shouldn’t get that far. 

The Chiefs’ deal for OT Jawaan Taylor feels like a heat check

Last year I absolutely despised the Chiefs’ move to trade Tyreek Hill and replace him with a platoon of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore and Justin Watson. They won a Super Bowl, proving me and a bunch of people wrong. 

I have to give this disclaimer because once again I am perplexed by the biggest decision of the Chiefs’ offseason so far, which is allowing LT Orlando Brown Jr. to leave in free agency and replacing him with former Jaguars RT Jawaan Taylor. Not only that, but Kansas City gave Taylor a four-year, $80 million contract that has $60 million in practical guarantees. That’s a massive investment. 

Balking at paying Brown’s asking price, which at the top of the left tackle market, was understandable. I don’t even blame the Chiefs for not giving him the four-year, $64 million deal he ultimately received from the Bengals, even though Taylor got $60 million in just guarantees. The history between Brown and Kansas City probably meant that kind of deal wasn’t an option. The rationale for not using the tag a second time on Brown at the cost of $20 million in favor of pursuing a long-term solution also makes sense.

However, it will be interesting to look back and see if the Chiefs would have been better off in the long run by giving the Taylor contract to Brown. Kansas City passed up a known quantity in their system to drop a big bag of cash on a projection. Taylor has gotten high marks for his pass protection in his four years so far and Kansas City believes he’s athletic enough to thrive on the blindside. Switching sides is not some non-trivial thing for offensive linemen, though. Players often compare it to trying to do everything with your non-dominant hand. Even that probably sells the difficulty short, as the average Joe doesn’t have to figure out how to invert their technique while blocking the Maxx Crosby’s and Myles Garrett’s of the world. Taylor doesn’t even have the benefit of having played on the left side in the past. All but 18 of his NFL snaps and a couple of games in college have come at right tackle. 

If anyone is going to make this work, it’s the Chiefs. Their offensive infrastructure is the best in the league between QB Patrick Mahomes and HC Andy Reid, and OL coach Andy Heck is one of the top position coaches in the league. Still, there’s a real risk with this move. The big difference this year compared to the Hill trade is the Chiefs aren’t spreading out the savings from moving on from Brown. They had to make an even bigger investment to fill the hole letting him leave created, which makes it more of a risk.

Chiefs GM Brett Veach is on a hot streak, but those don’t last forever. 

The Bucs aren’t abandoning ship

With Tom Brady settling into his Florida retirement, this was supposed to be the year of reckoning for the Buccaneers after stretching themselves to keep open their championship window. They had a huge cap hole to dig out of and a number of prominent pending free agents who surely would be interested in going someplace with more money and a better chance to win. 

That’s not how things have played out so far. Tampa Bay kept CB Jamel Dean on a deal for just $13 million a year, which is a huge steal considering how well Dean played last year and his age. Veteran LB Lavonte David is back, too, and some other key role players. I don’t want to get too carried away about a team that’s still starting either Mayfield or Trask and had major coaching questions last year but it’s worth noting at least  

The Cardinals are going to be bad

Not a big surprise here. But the team’s biggest moves so far have been signing an average linebacker, re-signing their kicker and a starting guard, and bringing back a veteran tackle to a backup deal after he called out QB Kyler Murray and said he needed to “grow up.” We still don’t know how many games Murray is going to play and Arizona seems to be in the first year of a major roster overhaul. 

This Week In Football

  • When the dust settles next week, we’ll have a more thorough recap of everything that’s gone on with team-by-team free agency grades. For now, here are a few notable news tidbits that don’t fit in with the tsunami of signings and trades we’ve seen. It seems like ages ago but the Panthers’ blockbuster deal with the Bears for the No. 1 pick was only a week ago. At this point the trade has been dissected plenty, the real drama is about who the Panthers are going to take (I’d put the chances of trading down, even to No. 2, at less than five percent). Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud became the betting favorite shortly after the pick was traded but there have been rumblings Florida QB Anthony Richardson is in the running too. Adam Schefter said Thursday night he thought Alabama QB Bryce Young entered the process as the No. 1 option for Carolina. So buckle up. It’s going to be a wild six weeks. 
  • Running back trades aren’t super rare but there are an unusual number of big names floating around in the rumorverse this offseason. Chargers RB Austin Ekeler asked for and was granted permission to seek a trade after contract talks with Los Angeles hit a wall. While we’re still a few steps away from Ekeler being elsewhere, the fact the Chargers were willing to grant him permission to look around means there’s a real possibility something comes together. Ekeler is entering the final year of his deal and has been massively underpaid. But not a lot of teams are lining up to pay top dollar to a 28-year-old running back. It’s a tough business for the position. Titans RB Derrick Henry‘s name came up in trade rumors around the Combine and Vikings RB Dalvin Cook cropped up as a trade candidate early this week. Miami was one team specifically connected to him but after they re-signed their entire 2022 backfield this week, they might be out. It’s not out of the question Cook joins former Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott in looking for work elsewhere. Bengals RB Joe Mixon is another big name at the position with an uncertain future. 
  • Teams are still trying to get creative to address their wide receiver position like the Bears did by getting back D.J. Moore from the Panthers in their blockbuster. And the Broncos have come up as a team willing to at least listen to offers. Between Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, KJ Hamler and Tim Patrick, the Broncos are in a position of strength to at least consider dealing away someone. However, the asking price so far has been high, including a first-round pick for Jeudy. That’s justifiable to ask on Denver’s part for someone they view as an ascending player — and a good sign they’re likely picking up his fifth-year option in May — but it’s also understandably steep for a player who has yet to crack 1,000 receiving yards. For now, it seems like Jeudy and Sutton are staying with the Broncos
  • Speaking of fifth-year options, those usually aren’t due until May and teams don’t pick them up until then just to protect themselves from something drastic happening in that time. But Miami broke precedent a little bit by going ahead and announcing they are going to pick up the option for QB Tua Tagovailoa. This ties Tagovailoa to the team through the 2024 season at a sum of more than $23 million guaranteed, and it should confirm Miami’s stance that he’s the unquestioned starter for them in 2023. Despite a breakout 2022 season, Tagovailoa’s issues with repeated concussions had opened the door back up to speculation that the Dolphins could look at other options. That’s not going to happen in 2023 but Tagovailoa does still need to stay healthy and maintain his production in order to earn an extension. That’s the next level of commitment we’re waiting to see from Miami. 
  • Like the Dolphins, the Vikings don’t have any questions about who their starter is going to be in 2023. It’ll be veteran QB Kirk Cousins once again. After that though? It’s fair to start thinking ahead. Minnesota and Cousins had some discussions on a long-term deal but instead the Vikings restructured his contract for cap relief and Cousins will play out the final year of his deal before potentially becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2024. At that point he’ll be going into his age-36 season. Regardless of how the Vikings feel about Cousins as a player, time is going to force their hand into looking into a successor. As the team remodels to a degree this offseason by jettisoning a number of longtime veterans, it’ll be interesting to see if they get aggressive to go after a young prospect in the first round this year. 

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  1. “they’d have held the best player in franchise history hostage for months…”

    Third best QB in franchise history.

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