Is the high level of QB movement we saw this offseason the new norm? In this issue:
- What big name QBs could be on the move in 2023?
- Is the rookie class really that much better?
- The shocking wildcard to land Brady if he leaves in FA
Looking Ahead To The 2023 QB Carousel
A year ago at this time, it was already clear this offseason could be momentous in terms of quarterback movement with all of the different situations percolating. We ended up getting a third straight offseason of multiple starting quarterbacks changing teams, with Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz all being traded to new teams.
So the natural question is; what is 2023 going to look like when it comes to the quarterback carousel?
Obviously things can change quickly and we’ll learn things over the coming months that will bring the 2023 picture into clearer focus. The draft in particular will offer a lot of clarity. But to start, we’ve broken down all 32 starting quarterbacks and some of the other relevant players into different buckets to get the lay of the land as we head into next season.
Once these quarterbacks are grouped, some things start to become clear.
- Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
- Bills QB Josh Allen
- Chargers QB Justin Herbert
- Bengals QB Joe Burrow
- Broncos QB Russell Wilson
- Browns QB Deshaun Watson
- Rams QB Matthew Stafford
- Cowboys QB Dak Prescott
This is the cream of the crop. Elite quarterbacks fully integrated with their teams and offenses, (presumably) happy and with multiple years left in their playing career. This is where every single team in the league hopes to be.
This would have originally been the year when questions about Brady’s retirement kicked into another gear given his long-stated goal of playing when he was 45. His brief — let’s not even call it a retirement, more like a hiatus — earlier this offseason won’t lessen the spotlight. Brady is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down on the field, so at this point it’s really just about when he’s ready to stop playing football and do other things, either with his family or in the business world.
The same is true for Rodgers, who is coming off of back-to-back MVPs. He’s pretty openly discussed retirement as an option he’s considered each of the past two seasons. It’s always felt like he’s had too much to prove to just walk away but at the same time it can’t be dismissed completely. Especially if the Packers finally get over the hump and win another Super Bowl.
Murray and his agent have been a lot quieter recently and all of the Cardinals photos are back on his Instagram. Maybe that signals progress on the desired extension behind the scenes or maybe Murray is having second thoughts about their strategy.
Either way it’s worth noting how quickly they tried to put a full-court press on the Cardinals to get a deal done as opposed to waiting until later in the summer when these deals are typically worked out. It also probably didn’t calm any doubts the organization may have had about Murray’s maturity or leadership. Murray’s talent is undeniable and if not for this contract kerfuffle, he’d be in that top tier. At the same time, he’d probably be at the bottom just because the others have put things together in a way he has not, at least not yet.
Perhaps everything will work out by the start of the season, with the Cardinals inking Murray to a new contract and the former No. 1 pick integrating the feedback into his game as he and Arizona take another step forward. But it just feels like a tenuous situation for so many reasons.
Talks could hit a snag if Arizona isn’t ready to guarantee the whole deal like the Browns were with Watson. The Bidwill family that owns the team isn’t as wealthy as some of the other owners, and the NFL funding rule requires teams to put all guaranteed money in escrow. That’d be a huge check.
Even a new deal isn’t foolproof, as the Texans and Watson have proven. The Cardinals have the feeling of a team that could combust if things go poorly in 2022. In the past, Murray hasn’t exactly been quick to take the blame when things have gone wrong. He has openly questioned gameplans and HC Kliff Kingsbury’s offensive strategy. After two straight end-of-season collapses, the pressure is getting higher for the Cardinals. If they can’t avoid that for a third year, would Murray try to push his way to greener pastures?
The interesting wrinkle with Murray, too, is that he has options most other athletes don’t if he decides to hold out for an extension or a trade given he was also a first-round pick in the MLB draft. That’s on top of the massive leverage he holds as a franchise talent at quarterback. The new CBA has steep fines and penalties for players who hold out but the game is weighted so much more toward quarterbacks than other players that those become moot. After all, the goal would be to win Murray back, not alienate him further.
Jackson’s situation in Baltimore is far different. He’s not unhappy with the team or looking to force his way out, he’s said so himself. The team has steadfastly maintained their desire to sign him to a new deal. Yet Jackson is entering the final year of his contract with what seems like zero momentum toward a long-term deal.
The reason for that seems to be that it’s just not a priority for Jackson right now, who is representing himself in lieu of an agent. It’s not clear why. Some have speculated Jackson is willing to play out his final year and two franchise tags before hitting the open market as an unrestricted free agent and surely cashing in big. Others, like owner Steve Bisciotti, have theorized Jackson wants to wait until he’s won a Super Bowl to feel worthy of becoming one of the game’s highest-paid players.
The entire situation is just opaque, as neither side is really offering much in terms of insight into negotiations or the lack thereof. If there’s a problem, it’s being successfully kept under wraps by both the Ravens and Jackson. And it’s hard to keep secrets in the NFL. But it bears watching for QB-needy teams if for no other reason than Jackson is entering a contract year with no new deal yet.
These guys don’t quite have the ability of the others listed here. But they’re still darn good, above-average, starting-level quarterbacks, guys teams can win a lot of games with if the rest of the roster is up to snuff. You could do a lot worse at the position than this batch.
The catch, though, is there’s room to upgrade. And chances are you’ll have to pay these guys salaries that will make it harder to build an excellent team around them. When it comes to the playoffs, you’ll also inevitably run into some of the elite players on this list and just hope you can catch them on an off day or find lightning in a bottle to come out on top. It’s the highwire act the league forces teams to play.
This is why teams can choose to move on from players in this group, particularly if they become too expensive, and why other teams are always interested in acquiring them. The Raiders have had steady interest in Carr for two seasons now. At this point, though, all signs are pointing toward a deal that keeps him in Las Vegas for longer than the final year remaining on his deal. If the two can’t agree on a price, perhaps that changes.
Ryan arguably could be in the retirement watch tier given he’ll turn 37 this year. He has two years remaining on his deal, however, and both he and the Colts have given indications that they foresee this partnership lasting at least two years.
Cousins has been prolific in just about every stat other than wins in his four years with the Vikings. The team is running it back with him again in 2022, but if the results don’t change, will they sign up for a sixth season? Especially with his cap figure gobbling up a significant percentage of their available space?
Tannehill was a remarkable find for the Titans, as for the price of a fourth-round pick, they were able to resurrect his career. He runs their system to perfection most of the time and is a high-level game manager. The question is if that’s enough, particularly after his three-interception performance in the divisional round this past postseason.
The common thread uniting all of these players is they’re young enough to not be grouped easily into a tier. Some of them may end up being franchise quarterbacks. Some might be solid starters or less. For some, we have a pretty good idea of where their career trajectory is headed and are just waiting for final confirmation. Others are still mysteries.
All of them should be starters in 2022. As we look ahead to 2023, there seem to be three clusters we can break them into. There are the guys with long leashes:
All of them were first-round rookies in 2021. All of them had flashes of the talent that made them highly regarded and showed enough that they would have to be horrendous this season to even start a conversation about replacing them.
Lawrence had moments where he lived up to the generational prospect billing. The dysfunction in Jacksonville made it so those were spaced out more than most expected. The hope is that changes with HC Doug Pederson and the influx of reinforcements in free agency bringing some stability. He still has elite potential.
Lance and Fields also have that kind of talent. Lance got in a few games due to injury but wasn’t able to win the job as a rookie. There’s no shame in that, as the 49ers also preferred to let Lance develop on the bench as long as they were winning with an established vet the same way we’ve seen other elite passers recently. Fields had struggles with his supporting cast like Lawrence but it’s not clear if that will be much different in 2022. The Bears have done more subtracting than adding so far this offseason.
Jones played the best out of this quartet as a rookie but the questions with him come down to his ceiling. Does he have the potential to be an elite starter, or will he be capped out in the solid tier? If he can improve his arm strength going into his second year the same way Burrow did, that would be massive. Patriots receivers described balls from Jones as “catching pillows.” They meant it as a compliment but it’s still telling.
After the long leash crew, we have the last chance bunch:
The Dolphins took themselves out of the Watson sweepstakes to commit to Tagovailoa and have loaded up the roster around him this offseason. New HC Mike McDaniel has said one of his top priorities is doing whatever he can to make Tagovailoa successful.
What all of that means, though, is the former Alabama star will have no more excuses. As a rookie, he was coming off that brutal hip injury. Last year, he dealt with injuries again and just the general turmoil that plagued the Dolphins for much of the season. In 2022, it will be up to him to put things together and grab hold of the wheel. The Dolphins won’t ask him to single handedly win games. He’ll be asked to run the offense, distribute the ball to their bevy of speedy playmakers and avoid turnovers.
If he can do that and tap back into some of the gritty, clutch playmaking he flashed in college, he’ll be just fine. If he can’t, the Dolphins have the ammunition to go after an upgrade.
For Jones, the odds are he will be entering the final year of his contract if the Giants decline his fifth-year option as is expected. There are still high hopes for him by some with the team but this is his last chance to show he can shed the proclivity for injuries and turnovers. Otherwise he’s verging on bust territory and having to enter the backup QB market with the hopes of rehabbing his value like Winston or Trubisky.
There’s a trio of passers who fit somewhere in between these two groups. They’re basically wildcards, though for different reasons:
Hurts was handed the reins as the starter for the Eagles in 2021 and overall there were a lot of positives to take away. He improved quite a bit as a passer, making a nine-point jump in completion percentage. The best parts of his game — his rushing ability and leadership — continued to be strengths, and he led the team to a wildcard berth in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.
The Eagles had three first round picks this year, which ought to have been enough to go get any of the big-name quarterbacks who were available (although picks might not have been the issue, Wilson and Watson may have just not wanted to go to Philadelphia for their own reasons). Instead, they committed another year to Hurts as the starter.
Nothing beyond 2022 is guaranteed for the former second-round pick, though. Hurts will need to continue to show development as a passer, especially if the Eagles want to become a consistent threat in the playoffs. They still have the picks to go after a replacement in 2023 if they think a franchise quarterback is available. What this past season has done for Hurts, however, is probably ensure that even if the Eagles move on, he should be in the mix as a starter somewhere.
The Jets were enchanted by Wilson, so much that he was pegged early in the process as the favorite for the No. 2 overall pick and there never was much debate about it. He was handed the starting job from Day 1 and didn’t have to compete like some of the other rookies in his class. Perhaps that was a mistake, as Wilson was clearly the worst out of all the rookies in 2021.
Obviously that’s not an indictment on his entire career. But another bad season for a franchise that has been as bad at the quarterback position in recent years as the Jets would not be good. Ordinarily, a No. 2 pick with just one year under his belt would have a relatively long leash. Wilson burned up a lot of his margin for error as a rookie and needs to improve in 2022 — fast.
Even though he played better than Wilson as a rookie, Mills’ situation is more tenuous just because the Texans didn’t invest nearly the same amount of draft capital. He showed enough to be handed the keys for another season as they continue their rebuild.
If he can do what Hurts did and make strides, he could earn another season or more as the starter. If he falters, no harm no foul. He goes back to being a backup and developing on the bench while Houston looks at using what will probably be a high first-round pick in 2023 on a quarterback.
Game managers and question marks
- Commanders QB Carson Wentz
- Saints QB Jameis Winston
- Lions QB Jared Goff
- 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo
- Browns QB Baker Mayfield
This is basically the dividing line at quarterback. Teams with anyone in the prior tiers probably feel solid for at least a season. Once you start getting into this tier it becomes dicey.
It’s an interesting bunch at least. There are former No. 1 picks, guys who have played in Super Bowls and other guys who have led the league in certain categories at times. Teams are hoping they can get someone who can competently run an NFL offense, limit mistakes and make enough plays in a game to win more often than not.
However, this is also the tier teams talk themselves into when it’s evident they won’t be able to do better. There are 32 teams but nowhere near that many franchise quarterbacks at a time.
Wentz is now on his third team in as many years, as the enticing physical skill set pulls teams in despite the brain-dead mistakes and iffy locker room impact. The Colts were done with him after just a year even though HC Frank Reich was and is a huge advocate for Wentz after coaching him in 2017. If he can’t make it work in that situation, it feels like an ominous sign for how things are going to go in controversy-riddled Washington.
Winston has been on a long journey since leading the NFL in both passing yards and interceptions in 2019. He spent the 2020 season learning behind Drew Brees, then took over as the starter in 2021. A torn ACL curtailed that, however, and while Winston had flashes of better decision making and a solid TD/INT ratio, he wasn’t asked to air the ball out that much.
Goff is the quintessential game manager at this point, as he has a number of limiting factors to his game. He’ll have a better supporting cast in 2022 as the Lions continue their rebuild but they will probably reach a point, just like the Rams, where they’ll have to make a move at quarterback to be able to get to where they want to go.
Garoppolo and Mayfield remain in limbo still with their original teams. At some point before Week 1, each will probably be traded to a new team. Garoppolo is similar to Goff in that as long as everything around him is perfect, he can pilot a playoff team to a deep run. He probably won’t land in a perfect situation, however, and we’ve seen the floor for that this past season with Goff and the Lions.
Mayfield’s career is on the brink just a couple years after being viewed as the potential answer to the Browns’ years of quarterback woes. Now he has to find another team that will believe in him. Like Winston and Wentz, there are huge gaps in his game that need to be addressed and doubts about whether he will.
Bridge QBs & reclamation projects
- Steelers QB Mitchell Trubisky
- Falcons QB Marcus Mariota
- Seahawks QB Drew Lock
- Panthers QB Sam Darnold
There’s a good chance all of these teams add a rookie to the equation, potentially in the first round. The current group is just to keep the seat warm until someone with a better prognosis can step in, and in exchange they have a lottery ticket’s chance of becoming the guy themselves.
Trubisky and Mariota were both talented enough to be No. 2 picks in their respective classes. Things didn’t work out with their original teams and the investment from their current ones isn’t anything to brag about. But they will at least have a chance to prove that all they needed was a fresh start.
Lock and Darnold feel like they’re here by default, perhaps to be bumped out by Mayfield and Garoppolo or some of the rookies. Don’t let these teams talk you into them as starters the way the Patriots had the entire league going on Jarrett Stidham as Brady’s heir for a few months.
The 2023 QB landscape
So what does it look like if we try to look in the crystal ball for 2023 at the quarterback position? Who could be available? Which teams will be best-positioned to land them?
Free agency is not usually where answers at quarterback are found but it is possible that 2023 could become an exception. Here are the players currently in contract years:
- Tom Brady
- Lamar Jackson
- Derek Carr
- Jimmy Garoppolo
- Baker Mayfield
- Daniel Jones
- Nick Foles
- Sam Darnold
- Teddy Bridgewater
- Taylor Heinicke
- Gardner Minshew
- Drew Lock
Anyone from Foles on down is probably a backup. Jackson won’t hit the open market either, he’ll be franchise-tagged no matter what. As things stand currently, the expectation is for the Raiders and Carr to work out a long-term deal. If this season goes well, Jones will be tagged. If it goes poorly, he’ll be looking for a backup or bridge starter job.
Garoppolo and Mayfield could have interesting markets for teams looking for starters but the real potential jewel is Brady. He has a no-tag clause, meaning he has a clear path to free agency if he wants it. And at this point, there’s too much smoke around the idea of him wanting to play for a different team besides the Buccaneers to dismiss it as just a conspiracy theory.
Figuring out behind the scenes what Brady wants will be crucial for some teams. Maybe he’s already envisioning himself with the Dolphins as part-owner/player. Maybe he wants to finish his football journey in San Francisco where it began for him as a kid. But two years ago, the Buccaneers came out of relatively nowhere to land Brady when he left the Patriots. Perhaps history repeats itself.
Outside of Brady, the other white whales that could foreseeably enter the picture are Murray and Jackson. Maybe Murray reaches his boiling point with Arizona and requests a trade. Perhaps Jackson really does have goals outside of Baltimore, or perhaps the team doesn’t want to guarantee hundreds of millions to a quarterback who also functions as a running back.
Those would be the A-tier options for teams. If they become available, it will be the same story as the past three offseasons in terms of high-impact QB movement. Those three would not only leave a massive void to the teams they leave behind but also could displace a starting level option from their new team like we’ve seen with Winston, Goff and Mayfield. Tagovailoa is someone in that danger zone.
After that, maybe the Raiders balk at the price for Carr and decide to hit the reset button. Or perhaps the Vikings are ready to end the Kirk Cousins experience. Cousins will be cheaper to acquire in 2023 which should help his trade value, as would the fact he very well could be the best quarterback available if things break a certain way.
From there, teams are looking at rolling the dice again on someone like Garoppolo or Mayfield. There’s also the class of rookies in 2023, which is widely viewed as better than this past class. I’m not sure about that a year out, but at the very least it is more well-known than this group was at the same point in the process. The two names to know are Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young.
Stroud is a big-armed passer with some sizzle throws in his highlight reel. He needs to become more consistent though. Young has a good arm and solid mobility, but he might be smaller than Murray and he’s nowhere near as fast. He’ll be another challenge to the NFL’s views of short quarterbacks. Those are the big names now, and there probably will be another name or two that emerge over the course of the 2022 college football season. It’s also entirely possible Stroud and Young regress, as we were talking about Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell as possible top five picks a year ago.
The 2023 QB Landing Spots
Honestly the only teams that are truly settled are the eight in the elite tier. The other 24 have semi-realistic scenarios where they are on the hunt for a quarterback next year.
There are obviously teams like the Panthers, Seahawks, Falcons, Lions, Texans, Saints, Steelers and Giants who based on their situation today are far enough behind the pack that it’s easy to see them needing a quarterback next year. Some of them will probably find “answers” in the draft — at the very least players they’ll explore for a couple of seasons in the youngster tier.
The Eagles already have acquired an extra first in next year’s draft and the Dolphins also have two firsts to work with in 2023. If a blockbuster name becomes available and neither Hurts nor Tagovailoa takes a big step forward, those two franchises have the ammo to secure an upgrade.
Another team in this group that flies under the radar? The Detroit Lions. They have two first-round picks in 2023, including their own and another from the Rams leftover from the Stafford trade. They also could sneakily become a strong landing spot for a big-name quarterback. The offensive line has the potential to be one of the best in the league. The skill positions have a solid nucleus of talent with TE T.J. Hockenson, RB D’Andre Swift and WR Amon-Ra St. Brown. Head coach Dan Campbell and GM Brad Holmes appear to be building a program that people are buying into and they were scrappier than expected last season.
The out-of-the-blue team that could put itself in the mix for Brady if he hit free agency? What if the GOAT wants to go back to the state of Michigan where he played his college ball and win the Lions their first-ever Super Bowl? Sounds crazy at first, but the more you think about it…
Anyhow, on to more lucid dot-connecting. If Rodgers were to step away after next season, the Packers would have an in-house heir in Jordan Love. If Brady retires or leaves, the Buccaneers are in a much less secure position, unless 2021 second-rounder Kyle Trask balls this preseason. The organization likely would try to stay aggressive. My guess is new HC Todd Bowles wants to avoid going back to the days when his quarterbacks were Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown and Sam Darnold.
It’s possible we see some starters teams feel solid about crumble unexpectedly. Wentz in Washington is easy low-hanging fruit. Tannehill has been underrated for the most part since arriving in Tennessee but the playoff collapse opened questions. There are some parallels to the fall of former Panthers QB Jake Delhomme years ago, starting with his collapse in the divisional round of the playoffs when he was also 33. Tannehill’s performance wasn’t as disastrous but it’s notable how the Titans have been doing some homework on this quarterback class.
If Wilson has a repeat of his rookie year, the Jets are in a really tough spot. It’s hard to justify giving up on the No. 2 pick after just two years, especially if they gave Darnold three. But at that point they surely have to at least bring in competition.
The Giants have the look of a team that is probably going to end up with a top-ten draft pick, which probably is bad news for Jones. They have Tyrod Taylor under contract for two years but this makes them a prime landing spot for one of the 2023 rookie quarterbacks like Stroud or Young.
Overall, there’s some potential for things to stay wild when it comes to quarterback movement in 2023. There’s also a doomsday scenario in which the prospective rookie class falls off harder than this past year, Rodgers and Brady retire, and the only options are Garoppolo, Mayfield and Danny Dimes.
My bet though is that the QB movement trend continues. Maybe not as wild as this offseason, but something like 2020 or 2021 with a big name or two between the free agent and trade market. Gonna be fascinating to watch play out.
This Week In Football
- This is quickly becoming the year of the wide receiver. The Bills signed Stefon Diggs to a massive extension, there were rampant trade rumors about the Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf and Texans WR Brandin Cooks (six teams were interested before he was extended), and the Patriots gave up a third-round pick to the division-rival Dolphins to get DeVante Parker. Last week’s column on the exploding WR market still has a lot of relevance and I’d encourage you to read it if you haven’t.
- Unpacking each of those moves a little more, Buffalo added four years and a max of $104 million to the remaining two years of Diggs’ deal. That makes the total contract worth somewhere over $120 million over six years, but $70 million of that figure is guaranteed. Standard caveat as always, wait to see the fine print; i.e, contract details. As things stand now, that total guaranteed number would slot in just under what the Dolphins gave Tyreek Hill. It’s fascinating to see how differently the Bills and Chiefs, both AFC contenders with quarterbacks on second contracts, treated their star receivers. Kansas City decided to allocate its resources differently, the Bills paid up to keep the tandem together. We’ll see in the next couple of seasons who was right.
- The hottest name on the receiver trade market right now is Metcalf, for a variety of factors we also laid out last week. The Seahawks already traded their star quarterback, they are a run-first offense and the GM has both expressed surprise over the rising contract values for receivers and used similar phrasing to discuss Metcalf as they did Russell Wilson. That said, the Seahawks are telling everyone who calls that Metcalf is not available, not even for the No. 10 pick which the Jets were rumored to be willing to move. Still, other league executives don’t seem to believe Seattle and think that for the right price, Metcalf could be traded. Maybe two first-round picks?
- The stars, particularly those from the 2019 class who are entering their contract years (the Titans say A.J. Brown isn’t available, either) are sucking up a lot of the air in the current wide receiver discussion. But some of the middle-tier guys are seeing action, too. Teams almost never trade with division rivals and third-round picks are prized commodities in trades. Yet the Patriots were willing to give up a third in 2023, getting a fifth back this year, to the Dolphins in exchange for Parker, who has missed nine games and has a total of 1,308 receiving yards and six touchdowns over the past two seasons combined. That’s a steal for Miami for someone who was third or fourth on the depth chart. Parker’s a decent fit for New England, as they needed a big-bodied X receiver, but they undoubtedly paid a premium. This organization also doesn’t have the strongest history with receiver trades, as they gave up a second-round pick for Mohamed Sanu back in 2019.
- Another middle-tier receiver who was drawing a lot of interest was Cooks. That is, before the team extended him on a deal worth supposedly $20 million a year for two more years. Houston reportedly would have considered trading Cooks for a second-round pick, wich at first glance seems reasonable compared to the Parker deal. Cooks is a year younger and has had back-to-back seasons of over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. However, trades are as much about salaries as they are about the actual players. The Patriots took on $6 million for Parker, Cooks would have been due twice that amount. But that’s a moot point following the extension, indicating the Texans view Cooks as a locker room leader and culture setter.
- This is the second straight season we’ve seen a big shakeup to the draft order with weeks to go until the draft. On Monday, the Saints basically gave up a third-round pick this year and a second-round pick in 2024 to move their 2023 first to this year and move up a couple of spots. There are a lot of moving pieces to the trade but when you let the dust settle, the Eagles are down to two first-round picks (No. 15 and No. 18) this year after having three to start and the Saints now have No. 16 and No. 19. For the Eagles, the benefit is clear in spreading out their draft capital and giving them more flexibility in the future, whether it’s going after a QB or not having to pay three fifth-year options in one season down the road. For the Saints, this sets the table for them to add another impact player right away. Maybe it’s a quarterback, maybe it’s a precursor to another move up the board, which we’ve seen in other years. That’d mean giving up more draft capital, but New Orleans is obviously willing to be aggressive. My hunch is they like the prospects projected to be in the teens and think they can get two players to fill positions of need. Maybe that’s left tackle, wide receiver, pass rusher, safety, or yes, even quarterback.
- Lamar Jackson hasn’t really said a lot about his contract negotiations, which is part of the reason there’s been so much speculation about where things are headed between the Ravens and their star quarterback. Last week, he dismissed the speculation that he was angling to leave. This week, a report came out that he wanted to focus on having his best possible 2022 season before coming to the table for a deal. That would be unconventional, but Jackson has already shown he’s unconventional in more ways than one.
- Teams break promises to players all the time. So it can be notable when an organization follows through on a commitment like the Dolphins did with CB Xavien Howard. The veteran had outperformed his deal the past few seasons and had let the team know he wanted to be fairly compensated. They responded with a brand-new, five-year, $90 million deal, essentially replacing the three years he had remaining on his old contract and adding two years and $50 million onto the end. The guarantees will be an interesting sticking point, but the deal puts Howard firmly in the top tier at his position, which based on his play he deserves.
- This past season was the first year without Frank Gore rumbling for an NFL team since he was drafted all the way back in 2005. Gore plans to make his retirement official this offseason, capping a spectacular career. He played a staggering 16 years at the game’s harshest position and was still effective late, late into his 30s. He’s third all-time in rushing yards in NFL history, and yes, some of that is because he compiled yards for much longer than other players. That sort of longevity is special, though, and deserves to be recognized.
- We’re coming up on crunch time for draft season and teams are in the thick of their final wave of top 30 visits for draft prospects. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer has a great explainer of what those mean, sometimes a lot, sometimes very little. I’d add that teams also use them as a way to pre-recruit potential UDFAs. One way or another, though, we have you covered with one of the most extensive prospect visit trackers on the Internet. Hope you check it out and have fun with it.