NFLTR Review: Free Agency Five – Potential Bargains & Landmines

The start of the 2023 NFL league year is just around the corner. In this issue:

  • Five potential bargains, including long-term LTs & perhaps the next Geno Smith
  • Five landmines to be wary of, like some big-name skill position players
  • Recapping a packed week before free agency

Five Free Agent Bargains & Five Landmines

In just a couple of days, the “legal tampering” period will open at noon on Monday and free agency will officially kick off with a wave of deals, even if they can’t become official until the start of the league year on March 15. That initial feed frenzy should last a week or so, with things slowing down to a drip after that. 

Every year there are surprises, whether it’s players who make more than expected or less. Every year there are potential bargains to be found even if it’s not immediately obvious, as the Jaguars can attest after their wave of free agent signings that were almost universally panned a year ago instead became key pieces in their AFC South title. 

Of course, the wave of cuts this past week, many of whom were big-ticket free-agent signings from a couple of years ago, is a reminder there’s more fool’s gold than gold most of the time in March. 

This class is especially interesting. It’s not the strongest free-agent class we’ve ever seen. The talent at the top isn’t nearly as strong and the depth tails off quicker than in past years. That’s not to say there won’t be good players available, but teams will have to be careful not to step on a landmine while hunting for a bargain. 

Here’s a look at five players I think have a chance to return value, as well as five players who could leave a GM regretful in a year or two: 


Patriots OT Isaiah Wynn

Both Wynn and the Patriots appear to be pretty happy to be getting a fresh start away from each other. New England spent a first-round pick on Wynn hoping to land a long-term left tackle. Instead, he leaves after five seasons in which he never played a full season. 

For his part, Wynn seemed to really not appreciate being moved from the left side to the right side, where he’d never played, in a contract year. NFL linemen will tell you changing sides is like re-learning how to do everything with your non-dominant hand. It’s no wonder Wynn’s PFF grades all fell off a cliff this year. He was PFF’s 72nd tackle in 2022. From 2019 to 2021, he was 33rd, 11th and 30th. 

A lot of teams would easily take that kind of production at left tackle. For a squad in a pinch at the position this offseason — say, the Chiefs? — there’s a strong case to be made that Wynn could be a buy-low opportunity at left tackle that pays off in a big way down the road. The risk is Wynn’s health, as he’s only been available for about half the games on his rookie contract due to various injuries, including a torn Achilles that wiped out his rookie year and injuries to his toe, knee and foot over the years. But that’s also why he’s unlikely to break the bank. My hunch is he’ll be looking for a one-year deal to try and rebuild his value, and while his agent will likely look for $10 million, it could be less, perhaps only $6 million. 

Coming into the league, a lot of people expected Wynn to shift inside to guard due to his lack of size and length. He’s listed at 6-2 and 310 pounds, which makes him among the smallest starting tackles in the NFL. However, he’s made up for it with quick feet and good technique. He’s proven he can hang at tackle, and teams value finding a starting tackle more than a starting guard, as the former is much harder. The position flexibility is worth noting, though. 

Saints QB Jameis Winston

We all love talking about who the “next” will be. Who’s the next Patrick Mahomes or who’s the next Cooper Kupp, and so on and so forth. Plenty of teams this year will be looking for the next version of Seahawks QB Geno Smith — a veteran quarterback whose NFL career was on the brink of irrelevance but who comes surging back to re-establish themselves as a starter. 

Smith’s comeback was pretty unique this past season and will be hard to replicate but there are a lot of quarterbacks who are available this offseason who fit the above description. Teams are going to roll the dice on guys like Baker Mayfield and Gardner Minshew, hoping one of them is a winning lottery ticket. If I had to play that game this offseason, I think I’d put my chips down on Winston. 

The former No. 1 pick has fallen on some hard times. Winston became one of a select few quarterbacks to join the 5,000 passing-yard club in 2019 and threw 33 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also threw 30 interceptions, becoming the charter member of the NFL’s 30/30 club. The Bucs went 7-9, replaced Winston with Tom Brady and won the Super Bowl the next year. 

Looking to revive his career, Winston signed with the Saints hoping to get a football PhD from then-HC Sean Payton. He barely played in 2020 but was named the starter for the 2021 season. It seemed like Winston’s time on the sidelines had done him good, as he had just three interceptions and 14 touchdowns through seven games until a torn ACL derailed his season. He started the 2022 season as the starter as well, but cracked vertebrae and a relapse with turnovers (five in three games) cost him his job again. Once again, Winston is a free agent with an uncertain future. 

Winston has always had great arm talent, with strong anticipation across the middle of the field and an arm strong enough to test the defense at any level. He’s big, hard to bring down, and though he’s not the most dynamic rusher, he can hurt defenses with his legs. His fatal flaw has been decision-making, as he just simply has been unable to take care of the ball. In 2021 when he appeared to have made strides in that area, it was because of work Payton had done to drill down on his footwork, settling him down and making him less frenetic. There were clear guard rails in the scheme, too, with a reliance on the run game and play-action as opposed to Winston playing hero ball. Winston only averaged 23 attempts per game in 2021. In his three starts in 2022, that rocketed up to 38. 

Winston is still only 28 years old. He was talented enough to be the No. 1 pick at one point. Not every team would be able to replicate the environment Winston had some fleeting success in but I think there could be a reward for the one that does. 

Saints LB Kaden Elliss

Let’s stick in New Orleans for the next bargain. Elliss is a former seventh-round pick out of Idaho who worked his way from the fringes of the roster to primarily special teams duty over his first three seasons. He was a backup linebacker and special teamer for about half the season. Then in the last eight games, Elliss forced his way into a major role on defense and went nuclear. He finished with 76 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, seven sacks and two forced fumbles in basically just half a season. 

He seemingly passed the eye test as well. Pro Football Focus graded Elliss as the No. 7 overall off-ball linebacker in 2022. They particularly liked his work against the run and as a blitzer. Elliss enters free agency without a lot of pedigree or hype but those are impressive numbers that should catch someone’s attention, even in a deep group of linebackers. 

New Orleans doesn’t have a lot of cap space and already has LBs DeMario Davis and Pete Werner, so it seems like there’s a good chance Elliss will be trying to prove he’s not a flash in the pan somewhere else. 

Eagles OT Andre Dillard 

A former first-round pick who had a rough introduction to the NFL and lost the starting left tackle job to Jordan Mailata, Dillard has come up in trade rumors for a few years now. Yet the Eagles held onto him and he was able to work his way back onto the field enough for some flashes in 2021. Philadelphia’s offensive line had better health luck in 2022 and Dillard played just 37 snaps. Still, those flashes from 2021 will be enough to catch some team’s eye. 

Since being drafted as a left tackle-only prospect, Dillard has played all over the Eagles’ line, including guard and right tackle. His best position remains left tackle, however. Dillard is a far better pass blocker than run blocker, so scheme fit will be important for him. In offenses that want to drop back and throw the ball a lot, his weakness as a run blocker will be minimized. 

It’d be surprising if Dillard was handed another starting job but he’ll have a much better chance to prove himself. Players develop on different tracks. By the time Dillard was healthy and had found his NFL footing, Mailata had developed into a borderline top-100 player and there was zero chance of catching him. Now Dillard will have his opportunity to prove himself and some team could find its future left tackle for cheap. 

49ers DE Charles Omenihu

Omenihu arrived in San Francisco in 2021 as a part of a trade deadline deal with the Houston Texans, who gave up on him in his third season for just a sixth-round pick. He returned a lot of value on that pick for the 49ers in 2022, turning into their top rotational pass rusher. Omenihu recorded 4.5 sacks and 16 QB hits last season, and he was 12th in the entire league in pass rush win rate per PFF at 20.7 percent. 

At 6-5 and 280 pounds, Omenihu is long and has the size to rush inside over the guards on passing downs. As you can see from the clip, he’s also twitchy enough to threaten the edge, and he has heavy hands to knock away blockers. At this point, his game isn’t consistent or well-rounded enough to be an every-down starter but he’s also only 25. His best football could very well be in front of him. 


Eagles DT Javon Hargrave

Hargrave just hit double-digit sacks as a defensive tackle in 2022, which is mad impressive. He’s likely going to make a ton of money as a result, as he’s hitting free agency at a good time. Defensive tackles are expected to have a market correction like receivers did last year and $18 million a year has been tossed out as a possibility for Hargrave. 

That’s fair value if Hargrave keeps up his production but there’s a decent amount of downside. He just turned 30, which remains a big deal for just about any other position outside of quarterback and the kicking game. Nearly half of his career sacks have come in the past two seasons. Maybe he’s in his prime, but if he regresses to his career mean, $18 million could look like an overpay. 

Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman

There’s been some buzz that Hardman could end up signing a much bigger deal than initially expected thanks to his youth, speed and the overall lack of options at receiver this offseason. He also grades out positively in some of the advanced metrics that have become available for receivers with player-tracking data. Something in the neighborhood of eight figures could be in the works. 

That might not trigger as big an uproar as the deal the Jaguars gave WR Christian Kirk last year but it definitely will be controversial. Hardman’s career-high for receiving yards is 693, and he’s been a part-time player in Kansas City’s offense since being drafted in the second round. He didn’t force his way into a bigger role and when opportunity struck this past season in the wake of the Tyreek Hill trade, he ended up battling injuries. From an eye test perspective, he has real speed which is a valuable commodity. His hands are inconsistent and he’s still developing as a route runner, though. 

That’s not exactly what a lot of fans think of when they think of a player who could be in the $10-$12 million a year range. But for perspective, that’s what some No. 2 or high-end No. 3 receivers are making these days. A contract in that range would put him in line with what Commanders WR Curtis Samuel, Chiefs WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Buccaneers WR Russell Gage are making, which isn’t that out of wack. What it comes down to is there are other bets I’d rather make with that money. 

Packers WR Allen Lazard

I’ll recycle something I wrote earlier this week about Lazard. There are two things that set Lazard apart from most other receivers in the NFL. He’s a quality blocker — early in his career teams toyed with a move to tight end — and he’s good buds with Aaron Rodgers. In this particular free agent class this particular year, those two attributes are going to end up overvalued. 

Lazard himself is perfectly fine in a hyper-specific role in an offense that takes advantage of his strengths as a blocker and his size in the red zone. That’s not something I’d pay a ton for, however. There’s a case to be made that the Packers have been hurt by needing to rely on him as a No. 2 or No. 1 receiver at various points over the past couple of seasons. He’s just not dynamic enough to be anything more than a No. 4 or No. 5 option in a high-functioning pass attack. 

Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki

Gesicki is on the high end of the spectrum for athleticism at the tight end position, and he has two solid seasons of over 700 yards receiving under his belt. He has a 41-inch vertical jump at 6-6, 250, which makes him a weapon in the red zone. There are going to be some teams very excited about adding him next week. 

The issue with Gesicki is his blocking. Some pass-catching tight ends aren’t great blockers but they’re good enough to not be total liabilities if the offense wants to run the ball. That’s not the case with Gesicki, which is why his playing time was cut so much this past season. Everyone has to block in Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel’s offense. Gesicki is basically a 6-6, 250-pound slot receiver and needs to be in an offense tailored to get the most out of his unique skillset. 

A lot of free agent signings go wrong because teams screw up when they’re projecting players from other systems into their own. The danger is higher with players as unique as Gesicki. He could land in the perfect spot and have a massive breakout over the next few seasons, and there’s a history of tight ends being better on their second contract than their first. He could also become a non-factor if his new offensive coach has to put in a ton of effort to scheme him into the best positions.  

Bills S Jordan Poyer

It hurts a little to put Poyer here, because he’s been so good the past few years. He’s legitimately been one of the best safeties in football. Age catches up faster to defensive backs, however, and Poyer will be 32 in April. After four straight seasons of at least 16 games, Poyer was limited to 12 in 2022 and played through a number of injuries. 

He deserves plenty of credit for his toughness but it could also be a sign that his body is starting to break down. Poyer’s agent is Drew Rosenhaus, one of the heavy hitters in the industry. He’s going to be looking for what could be the final payday of his career, and he has the track record over the past few seasons to back that up. There will be some teams, however, who adopt the mantra “it’s better to be out a year early than a year late” when it comes to Poyer, and I would probably be in that group. 

This Week In Football

  • A busy week started off with a bang with the franchise tag deadline, which spurred three quarterback contracts and potentially a fourth — Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. He received the non-exclusive tag from Baltimore in a calculated risk to try and generate momentum in contract talks that have stalled after two years. Other teams can negotiate with Jackson and if he signs an offer sheet, the Ravens either have the option to match or decline and receive two first-round picks. Basically the Ravens are saying, “we don’t think anyone else wants to give you 100 percent guarantees, but we’ll let you look around and see for yourself.” They still reserve the right to match if another team can make progress with Jackson, and if someone is indeed willing to meet Jackson’s asking price or negotiates a deal they can’t match, they can get two first-round picks. It’s not as much as they should be able to get based on other quarterback trades, but this is a unique situation.
  • It’s complicated, too. Immediately after the Ravens placed the tag, there were a flurry of reports from teams disavowing interest in Jackson, even from teams like the Falcons and Panthers who have major question marks at the position and were willing to throw the kitchen sink at Browns QB Deshaun Watson last year. It’s eyebrow-raising, to say the least, and it’s worth noting the owners were incensed at the Browns for breaking that precedent. The lack of interest feels like a response to that as the league tries to put the players back in their place. I’m not sure what exactly happens from here but it does not seem like a resolution is in the works anytime soon. 
  • Three other veteran quarterbacks did manage to ink long-term deals this week. We’ll start with the Saints and QB Derek Carr who led off the bunch on Monday with a four-year, $150 million deal. Carr has been available and weighing his options since mid-February, with the Jets the other significant contender and the Panthers lurking in case his price dropped. But with New York held up waiting for their top option in Green Bay, Carr made the move to go ahead and secure a chair before the music stopped. The Saints have been an average team the past two years but in theory, they can give Carr the best defense he’s ever played with, a weak division and 10 games a year in a dome. There’s some talent on offense to work with, too, and financially he did okay. He’s getting less per year than his contract with the Raiders but more in total guarantees and a two-year commitment. For the Saints, it’s fair to wonder if Carr’s a substantial upgrade over veteran QB Andy Dalton (not if he plays the same as last year). They didn’t have many other options to upgrade, however. 
  • Later on Monday, the Seahawks got a deal done with QB Geno Smith that staved off what could have been some drama at the tag deadline. Smith’s deal was billed as a three-year, $105 million deal, but it’s actually only three years and $75 million, with only the first year guaranteed and the difference in those two numbers available via incentives if Smith can replicate his 2022 season. Frankly, Seattle got a steal with the 2022 Comeback Player of the Year, who played a lot better than either of the other two quarterbacks who signed deals this week. It was important for Smith to stay in Seattle and not maximize his leverage, and there would have been questions from other teams about him being a one-year wonder even though there was nothing overtly fluky about how well he played. Smith’s deal actually establishes a middle class for quarterback salaries, which have been pretty all or nothing for the last decade, so it’ll be interesting to see what shakes out from this. 
  • Finally, the Giants and QB Daniel Jones continued a furious week of negotiations that went literally until seven minutes before the tag deadline. In the end, Jones had a deal that would have been almost unthinkable a year ago — four years, $40 million a year and the potential for another $35 million in incentives. He had the leverage on his side with New York not wanting to resort to the tag and he used it well. However, the Giants wouldn’t have forked over $40 million if they didn’t believe he was capable of being a long-term answer at the position. They’ll use the extra cap space saved by not using the tag to build up the team around Jones in 2023 in the hopes his lack of production last season was more about an iffy supporting cast. Time will tell. 
  • Six players ultimately ended up getting the tag. Here’s the list, with the tag price noted and where things stand. All have until July 17 to negotiate an extension or play out the 2023 season on the tag: 
    • Giants RB Saquon Barkley ($10.1 million): The extension for Jones freed up the tag for Barkley, and that moves the leverage massively in favor of the Giants. Barkley can either play out the season, taking the risk he won’t get hurt or his production won’t drop, or take the offer the Giants have on the table now which is reportedly in the range of $12-$13 million a season. Even if he gambled on himself, the Giants could tag him again for just under $14 million, which is a two-year average of $12 million. There just aren’t good options for running backs in the current environment. 
    • Raiders RB Josh Jacobs ($10.1 million): There’s optimism from both the Raiders and Jacobs that they can get an extension down. It would likely be in the same $12 million range, as that’s become the sweet spot for top running back contracts. 
    • Cowboys RB Tony Pollard ($10.1 million): It’ll be interesting to see how Dallas operates here. Pollard is coming off a severe ankle injury and they still have RB Ezekiel Elliott under contract, though he could take a pay cut. Are the Cowboys willing to put Pollard in the $12 million a year club too? 
    • Jaguars TE Evan Engram ($11.3 million): Jacksonville elected to use the tag to keep Engram after a breakout season. The two sides reportedly aren’t close on a long-term deal. Engram probably wants more than the $13.7 million per year deal the Browns gave TE David Njoku
    • Commanders DT Daron Payne ($18.9 million): Payne’s market will be fascinating, as a bunch of defensive tackles are due for new deals. Washington could end up saving money if they’re able to get his deal done before others. 
    • Ravens QB Lamar Jackson ($32.4 million): See the section on Jackson above for more details. 
  • Almost as notable as the list of players who were franchised are some of the ones who weren’t. The headliner is Chiefs LT Orlando Brown Jr., who will test unrestricted free agency after Kansas City elected not to put the tag on him for the second straight year. Brown is a solid left tackle but he’s been pushing to be paid like an elite one. What the Chiefs are doing is not too different from the Ravens, as they’re letting the market set the value with the hope of keeping the player. It means running the risk of losing them, though, and the Chiefs will need backup plans in place in case that happens. Other notable non-tags include Buccaneers CB Jamel Dean, who should be one of the top free agents available and could be too pricy for Tampa Bay to bring back, and Falcons RT Kaleb McGary. The tag for McGary, who’s a solid but not elite right tackle, would have been $18.2 million, so Atlanta is banking they can keep him for less and no one else will bid more. 
  • It looks like it might really be coming together between the Jets and the Packers regarding a potential trade for QB Aaron Rodgers. All the Jets’ top decision-makers, including owner Woody Johnson, flew out to meet Rodgers in person this week. They could only have done that with permission from the Packers, and the Packers likely would have only granted permission if there was an understanding about the trade cost. Rodgers still has a significant say in the matter — and we’re still waiting on him to provide clarity — but it feels more and more likely he won’t be back in Green Bay. Consider how the Packers have responded to trade rumors over the past two years compared to them now granting the Jets permission to speak with him. There’s a reason New York is optimistic
  • Once again the Rams are set up to be key players in the NFL landscape as we enter a new league year, but in a different way than we’re accustomed to seeing. Los Angeles is willing to shake things up in a big way, and you can debate the semantics of rebuild, remodel or reload with GM Les Snead or whoever. The facts are this; they cut LB Bobby Wagner. They’re willing to trade CB Jalen Ramsey. If they can’t trade OLB Leonard Floyd, they’ll cut him and if a team is willing to give them a pick, they’ll eat some money to facilitate trading WR Allen Robinson. None of those moves save significant cap space this year and only the Ramsey deal would bring back a lot of draft capital, but it gives Los Angeles significantly more flexibility in 2024 and onward. There are limits, though. Rams QB Matthew Stafford (despite some rumors), DT Aaron Donald and WR Cooper Kupp are not available, though they seem to be among the nine players Snead says he’s gotten trade calls on. It’s not clear what the 2023 Rams will look like but it appears like those three at least will be a part of it. 
  • One of the new names to pop up in trade rumors coming out of the Combine was Titans RB Derrick Henry, who was reportedly being shopped by Tennessee in Indianapolis. Later reports contradicted this but it’s still noteworthy. There have been rumblings of major changes for the Titans with new GM Ran Carthon coming in but nothing concrete. Trading Henry would be a major departure from the team’s identity over the past few years, and his market would be tricky, as despite his greatness he’s a 29-year-old running back with a significant career workload and limited scheme versatility. 
  • The other major asset sparking trade rumors is the Bears’ No. 1 pick. Bears GM Ryan Poles was happy to talk about how much interest he’s already gotten in the pick, with three teams inquiring and at least two future firsts already on the table. Now it obviously is in Poles’ interest to talk up the value of the pick, so keep that in mind. Still, there is a high chance someone makes the leap up the board for the pick with how intriguing this quarterback class is, and history says the cost will be steep. The Bears are in a superb position to add to an already overflowing offseason war chest as Poles tries to turn the team around. 
  • We did get an actual trade this week, and it involved the Jets bringing on a veteran player. Just not the one you’re thinking of. New York dealt a 2024 seventh to the Ravens for S Chuck Clark, who should immediately fill a starting spot on the back end of the defense. Clark is durable, reliable and versatile, but got passed up as the Ravens made major investments at safety last season. It’s a decent move to acquire a starter for the Jets while the Ravens net a pick for someone they were probably going to cut anyway. 
  • There are a lot of cuts that have been made to clear space before free agency and there will be plenty more in the next few days. Here are some notable ones: 
    • The Vikings released veteran LB Eric Kendricks who has been a mainstay with the franchise for years. It’s also looking increasingly likely WR Adam Thielen will be looking for a new team, as Minnesota needs the space. Both Kendricks and Thielen are at the point in their careers where it makes some sense to move on. Vikings OLB Za’Darius Smith is another release candidate, but despite him tweeting an apparent goodbye to the fanbase, the Vikings are not cutting him. That becomes an interesting situation to watch. 
    • The Titans continued their roster makeover by releasing OLB Bud Dupree, which has been expected for some time. The Jaguars also released CB Shaquill Griffin, another expected move that cleared eight figures in cap space. Both Dupree and Griffin were highly touted free agent signings in 2021 but both didn’t work out due in part to injuries. They’ll look for better luck, if not better pay, in 2023. 
    • Tampa Bay cut veteran LT Donovan Smith, who becomes an interesting option for teams looking for a blindside protector. He struggled this past season due to injuries and has only ever been above-average, not elite. Teams will stretch to secure even average play at left tackle, however. 
  • And here are some nuggets on the lay of the land entering free agency
    • It had been treated as a foregone conclusion Saints WR Michael Thomas would be playing for a new team in 2023 after New Orleans redid his contract in a way that looked like it was setting him up to be a June 1 cut. The Saints left the door open a crack for Thomas, however, and he’s apparently considering walking through it. If he renegotiates his deal and takes a team-friendly deal, he could stay. Assuming he can finally shed the injuries, he could be a big addition for the Saints. 
    • After last offseason, what happens with the wide receivers will be a big point of interest this year. The top free agent is Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers and early reports have his market in the $12-$14 million a year range, which is a little less than I expected. I still think it could hit $16 million but we’ll see. Meyers isn’t as fast as Jaguars WR Christian Kirk and doesn’t have the draft pedigree. Free agent WR Odell Beckham Jr. is also about to start up the rat race again, holding a workout on Friday to show interested teams he’s healthy. The Giants and Patriots will be there, and the Cowboys reportedly remain interested
    • There are still quarterback dominoes to fall beyond Rodgers, Jackson and the draft. 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is the top available free agent and would be a solid option for a lot of teams. There’s been a lot of buzz connecting him to the Texans, with the Raiders also coming up along with the Jets if the Rodgers deal should somehow fall through. But with either Houston or Las Vegas, Garoppolo would be fending off a rookie again, almost assuredly with the Texans. That could impact his decision but he also might not have many options. His deal is expected to be closer to Smith’s than Carr’s or Jones’. 
    • There are a number of quarterbacks after Garoppolo who are looking for bridge, competition or high-end backup jobs, including former Commanders QB Carson Wentz and Rams QB Baker Mayfield. The latter’s market is hotter, with the 49ers and Buccaneers both reportedly interested in adding him to their rooms. He’d have a better shot of starting in Tampa, as Kyle Trask is the only other quarterback on the roster. As for Wentz, it’s hard to see another team bringing him in as a starter, but he’s apparently open to continuing his career as a backup
    • The kicker carousel doesn’t get nearly as much attention as the quarterback carousel. But a big shakeup could be coming, as 49ers K Robbie Gould indicates he plans to test free agency this offseason and sign elsewhere. The money will talk in the end but Gould should get offers. He remains reliable even at the age of 40. As far as why he wants out, he’s hinted in the past he doesn’t love kicking on the West Coast. Though he’s been with the 49ers for six years, he and his family put down deep roots in Chicago while he was there. 

Nickels & Dimes

Quick-hit thoughts and observations from around the NFL…

The more I think about the Geno deal, the more I feel like he got ripped off. He played like a top-10 QB this year but will be 18th or so in salary by September…

I still think the Giants should have let Jones test the market, as I don’t think there would have been many teams lining up to pay him $40 million. Plenty of teams have taken that tack this year, including the Ravens with Jackson and the Chiefs with Brown, and it’s interesting that the Giants and Jones were the lone holdout…

One of the issues I think some people have with advanced QB stats like EPA that stops them from buying in is the funky results that come up sometimes that show guys like Garoppolo as high-level players. This attempts to account for that, though it’s still a work in progress…

Expanding on the question higher up about who the next Geno could be in 2022, I think in addition to Winston you can make a case for either Mayfield or Darnold, too. Mayfield played at a decent level in 2020 when he had a strong team around him and was healthy. For various reasons, he hasn’t been afforded that luxury since, and it’s affected his confidence. That’s not a permanent thing, though, and it’s not inconceivable that the right situation could revive him…

As for Darnold, I think he’d look particularly good in San Francisco, though obviously you could say that about a ton of quarterbacks. He’s got plenty of physical talent, it’s just his brain shutting down when he gets pressured that’s been a fatal flaw. Being in San Francisco could minimize that. He’s an interesting backup option to keep in mind there…

More on this later, but this is one of the reasons I might end up higher on the Broncos and Rams for 2023 than others…

Also it’s not a coincidence that the two Super Bowl teams were also two of the healthiest…

The Combine is bordering on ancient history, but it was nice to see a bunch of other people around the NFL catch up to where we’ve been on Anthony Richardson for a while…

Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba‘s agility times were so good (sub-7 seconds in the three-cone and sub-4 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle) that I don’t care what his 40 time is. And it won’t be fast…

It’s lowkey hard to figure out potential trade landing spots for Henry. He’s not as good a fit for shotgun-based running schemes because he really needs that runway to build up his speed and power. Most teams won’t want to rebuild their scheme around a 29-year-old running back, so it has to be an existing run-heavy offense. The Falcons are obvious with Arthur Smith, but after that you have the Bears and…? 

I haven’t bought the argument that Jackson absolutely needs an agent in his negotiations with the Ravens and it’s malpractice for him not to have one, but this article from Yahoo’s Charles Robinson makes a compelling case

This is one of my favorite things every year. It’s a hyper-niche topic and Nick is the foremost public expert on NFL comp picks. Dive in and prepare to get smarter…

Stark comparison between which teams play this game, and which do not…

This should change going forward. The 49ers got seven comp picks this year, including three in the third round for minority hires. San Francisco has seen Robert Saleh, Mike McDaniel and DeMeco Ryans take head coaching jobs as well as Martin Mayhew and Ran Carthon land GM jobs. In total, that’s eight third-round comp picks, significant value. And you can bet Panthers owner Dave Tepper was paying attention. Carolina made several hires with an eye toward stockpiling its own potential comp pick pipeline, including DC Ejiro Evero, OC Thomas Brown and VP of player personnel Adrian Wilson. As long as they stay with the team for two seasons, they qualify for a pick. Current VP of football administration Samir Suleiman is also a potential future GM candidate, and assistant HC Duce Staley has garnered head coaching interest in the past…

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