79 thoughts on “2020-2021 NFL Offseason

  1. I’m not really interested in the details of the current CBA proposal, but there are some aspects that I wanted to comment on. Two things concern me: 1) the extra game and 2) the reduction of practice times. To get the players to accept the first, the owners seems to think more money and reduction of practice times (and pre-season games) seems like a reasonable compensation. On some level, this makes sense–especially if this is just about compensating players.

    But on another level, this is about something else–namely, the way all of this will impact the quality of the game. I’ve recently heard two former NFL O-linemen talk about the near impossibility of developing linemen without padded practice. They claim it’s critical. If practice with pads is reduced, I would expect the development of players and the quality of play to diminish as well. Similarly, an extra game will likely result in more injured players at the end of the season–and there are already too much injuries affecting the quality of play. I suspect I’m in the minority of this–at least in terms of the degree to which this lessens enjoyment of the games. But I’m pretty sure there is a tipping point for the vast majority of fans. I feel like the proposed changes push the league closer to that point.

    I do think there are adjustments that can be made. For example, if the league decides practice time is important, one way to compensate players is to reduce the number of overall games–for from 16 to 15 or 14. Of course, this would reduce revenue, so the league (or maybe even the players) would not do this. But this is logical solution. The league could also add more byes. A bye could be added before teams play on Thursday night, giving those teams more days of rest before and after the game.

    One other factor that I feel people are overlooking. Players are faster, heavier, and stronger. I don’t see how this can’t or won’t increase injuries, both in overall numbers and even severity. Because of this to protect players and maintain quality of play, reducing games or adding more rest seems like the sensible direction.

    I feel like the rebuttal to this is that there are a lot of injuries now, but that doesn’t seem to have hurt the popularity of the sport. While this is true, that doesn’t mean a tipping point doesn’t exist.

    A lot of what’s going on makes me think of Mark Cuban’s remark that the NFL owners are like pigs at a trough and that their greed would ruin the game. A part of me wonders if the players’ greed can also contribute to ruining the game as well. Whatever the source of the greed, Cuban’s remarks resonate with me.

    1. The owners want more games for the money, yes. But your rank-and-file players, who make up the majority of the league, might see it a different way. The extra game is leverage — something they can concede in order to get what they really want. It might be more money, or it might be the chance to play so they increase their value (and therefore their money). The extra game would come with a few more players on the roster, I think, plus the possible stipulation that nobody would be allowed to play in more than 16 games — thereby giving your edge-of-the-roster guys a chance to play. That’s got to be tempting.

      The league is also likely to stop testing for marijuana, which I think appeals to a lot of players.

      I’m not interested in the conversation about the quality of games — you’re probably right but the salary cap and concussion protocol (or rather, everyone’s increased understanding of the danger of some of these injuries) may be as much to blame as anything. And if you’re the third-string tackle, you probably care more about making your living than you care about the overall quality of the games, especially since the NFL is more popular than ever. If the quality is going down, the fans don’t seem to mind.

    2. That’s got to be tempting.

      I’m sure it is, and I’m sympathetic to this. But this is what I meant that the greed–or selfishness–of the players are also a factor. The players, especially those who will gain the most from this deal, and the owners may not care if the quality of the league goes down, but shouldn’t they? You don’t think the quality can hit a point that causes a decline of interest in the sport? To me, they should be thinking about this, and I think this is what Mark Cuban was getting at.

      Addendum

      I heard John Clayton mention that the TV contracts could potentially increase as much as 60%, and the players would reap some of the benefits of this. But that’s if they get the deal done soon. If one just looks at this in terms of benefits, mostly financial, for players and the owners, it seems like this is a solid deal for the players–at least the lower and middle class ones.

      But let’s say the quality of play drops dramatically. In the end that’s going to hurt both. And if this is a ten year contract, I don’t think they’d be able to make quick adjustments.

  2. Calais Campbell traded to the Ravens for a 5th round pick. Man, that seems really good for the Ravens.

    The Titans resign Tannehill. The one thing I’d be worried about, if I were the Titans, is another Nick Foles type of situation. The similarity is that Foles came in the middle of the season. One theory is that he (and Tannehill) might have done well because opposing teams didn’t have enough information to know how to defend them. That theory will be tested next season.

    (I’m glad Tannehill didn’t go to the Raiders–which is what I heard Mike Lombardi anticipating. In a way, I can see it. Tannehill’s athleticism makes him a somewhat similar comp to Rich Gannon. But I just don’t trust Tannehill’s play-making. Too many bad things seem to happen when he’s moving around back there.)

    By the way, Lombardi reported that the Buccaneers really like Teddy Bridgewater. That one has me scratching my head. Throwing deep strikes me as Bridgewater’s weakness–and that’s a key part of Arians’s game. I like Rivers or even Brady with the Bucs.

    I also heard a report that the Niners are not going after Brady. If this report is only coming out now, I guess there was some truth that they were interested–which is surprising to me.

    1. The Jaguars are in tear-down and rebuild mode. I’m surprised they were willing to take a fifth-rounder, though, and wonder if Campbell’s salary is the real reason: too high for a rebuilding team?

      Another speculation: the Jags had to cut his salary, and because Campbell is such a stand-up guy (he just received the Man of the Year award last month!), the Jags traded him somewhere he could make a difference and possibly win a title. The cutting of salary may have been the real benefit, with the draft pick just being gravy.

      I think everyone had quick flashes to Nick Foles when they heard about Tannehill re-signing. I hope it doesn’t work out that way. I’ve always liked him.

      The Hopkins trade is a head-scratcher. Mina Kimes and Bill Barnwell explore it a bit in today’s ESPN Daily podcast. Does Bill O’Brien know what he’s doing?

      Buckner to the Colts for that pick is a great trade for both teams.

      Diggs to the Bills is worrisome. Buffalo seems like the place where potentially great WRs become mediocre. However, as Kimes and Barnwell broke it down, the Bills now have Diggs as a #1, John Brown as a #2, and Cole Beasley as a #3. That’s a 1-3 I’d be excited about if I were a Bills fan.

      Mariota to Las Vegas. Brady says bye to New England. Bridgewater to the Panthers. Cam given the okay to seek a trade. Thank God for free agency opening up in these days of no sports.

    2. I’m surprised they were willing to take a fifth-rounder, though, …

      Same here. Also, I’m surprised no other team offered a 4th.

      The Hopkins trade is a head-scratcher. Mina Kimes and Bill Barnwell explore it a bit in today’s ESPN Daily podcast. Does Bill O’Brien know what he’s doing?

      Off the top of my head, the only way this trade makes sense for Houston is if David Johnson is really good. He’s salary is kinda high, so he better be one of the best RBs in the league, and if he can make the Texans a top five running game, I guess that would justify the deal. Also, if it’s true that there are a ton of great WRs, then the deal makes a little more sense. But Johnson’s got to be a real difference maker in my opinion.

      Diggs to the Bills is worrisome. Buffalo seems like the place where potentially great WRs become mediocre. However, as Kimes and Barnwell broke it down, the Bills now have Diggs as a #1, John Brown as a #2, and Cole Beasley as a #3. That’s a 1-3 I’d be excited about if I were a Bills fan.

      Yeah, but I wonder if they gave up too much. And will Diggs be a problem? Also, while I think Diggs is a good player, I wouldn’t say he’s in the top tier–maybe just outside of it.

      And again, if this is the year with great WRs, giving up a lot for a WR doesn’t seem like a great move.

      Thank God for free agency opening up in these days of no sports.

      Yeah, and I think this has been one of the most interesting free agencies, in terms of the type of players that are moving around.

  3. Some exciting player movement today:

    On the surface, the Ravens seem to be having a great offseason–they get Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers. I would say their DL was a weakness, and they just gave it a major upgrade. (I believe they franhcised Matt Judon, keeping the pass rusher in house.) And they traded Hayden Hurst for a 2nd round and 4th or 5th and they had to give up a 4th or 5th to the Falcons. They seem loaded at TE, so this seems like a win for them.

    DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals for David Johnson and some picks (2nd rounder?). My heart sunk when I saw that. If the Cardinals upgrade their OL, they’re going to be formidable offense.

    DeForest Buckner to the Colts, for the 13th pick in the draft. I’m happy that the 49ers lost Buckner, but now they’re getting the 13th pick. Ugh. (Niners also resigned Arik Armstead.)

    Whoa–Stefon Diggs to the Bills for four picks–a first, fifth and sixth in 2020 and a fourth in 2021 — while also getting a 2020 seventh-rounder back from the Vikings. If you’re going to lose a good WR, this is the year to do it.

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. The Bills needed WR help. Diggs will do that. The Bills first isn’t going to be worth a lot, but the Vikings need younger (read: cheaper) players, so maybe this will turn out to be good for them.

    1. The Ravens did lose Yanda to retirement, which is huge. I would think they should be spending on a replacement instead. Unless they did already…

      I think the Buckner trade is the most interesting thus far. The Niners have a lot of defensive linemen, and Buckner’s rookie contract is almost done, so that part makes sense, however it could leave a hole in the heart of their defense and the reason they were slowing down the Chiefs. And what position are the Niners trying to improve at with those draft picks? I guess WR would be great with the talent at that position in the draft. It’s just my initial reaction was why would the Niners make a change like this when they are good enough to win it all.

    2. The Ravens did lose Yanda to retirement, which is huge. I would think they should be spending on a replacement instead. Unless they did already…

      This is a guess, but my sense with the Ravens–and the Steelers and Packers–are teams that really prioritize the OL. They seem to always have good OLs, for a long period of time. One way I think they’re able to do this is some combination of constant drafting of linemen and giving these players several years before they’re really needed. In any event, I’ve seen the three OLs lose good players and not really miss a beat, and I feel like they’re don’t often bring in FAs to fix problems. The Ravens must have known Yanda wasn’t going to play much longer. My guess is that they’ve got a solid replacement on the team.

      …however it could leave a hole in the heart of their defense and the reason they were slowing down the Chiefs.

      Yeah, and Buckner was arguably the best D-lineman. Armstead wasn’t really that good prior to last year–or at least that’s my sense. Maybe the 49ers are thinking of getting a more traditional DT and hopefully Ford, Armstead and Bosa will be sufficient to bring the heat. (By the way, as good as their front four was, they seemed to be a really good blitzing team last year. Their defense seemed better, overall, when they blitzed, than when they only rushed four, which is a little surprising.)

      And what position are the Niners trying to improve at with those draft picks? I guess WR would be great with the talent at that position in the draft. It’s just my initial reaction was why would the Niners make a change like this when they are good enough to win it all.

      My reaction is similar to yours. Yes, they could use a WR, but this draft is supposed to be loaded with good ones. I’m wondering if they’re going for an O-linemen or CB (Sherm’s no spring chicken).

  4. Calais Campbell anecdote: A few years ago (when Campbell was on the Cardinals), at the beginning of the Dan Le Batard radio program, Le Batard read the day’s guests, which included Calais Campbell.

    “Why are we talking to Calais Campbell today?” asked Le Batard.

    His producer Mike Ryan said, “He sounds like a friendly monster.”

    Which apparently was good enough a reason. And yeah: he sounds like a friendly monster. It was a great interview even though I don’t remember what they talked about, except at one point Le Batard asked Campbell if anyone ever told him he sounds like a friendly monster, and Campbell laughed and said, “Why thank you. Thank you. I’ll take that as a compliment.”

    1. I totally get what they mean by “friendly monster” voice, especially when he’s smiling. (He kinda has a friendly monster vibe, overall.)

  5. Who will have a better 2020 season–Belichick or Brady?

    To answer this, I will point to the circumstances each finds themselves in–specifically the quality of their teams. Let’s take Brady first. My sense is that people don’t think highly of the Buccaneers. Even without Brady, I would have had them as a dark horse. Had they replaced Winston with a solid QB or if Winston reduced his turnovers, I think they could have been the 2019 49ers of 2020. I say this based on watching them. Both defensively and offensively, they didn’t seem that far away. Add one or two good players on both sides, reduce turnovers, and I could see them as legitimate contenders. Also, I would expect improvement from the team in Arians’s and Bowles’s second year. So if they upgrade the roster–and Brady would qualify–and the players get more comfortable in the systems, it would not surprise me if they become contenders.

    One other thing–and this is something I don’t hear people mention. They have a balanced offense. In fact, I would describe them as a ground-and-pound offense, one that also takes deep shots. Opposing defenses could not just ignore the run game. If they did, Arians/Leftwich showed a willingness to keeping pounding the rock. This balance is another feature that makes them dangerous.

    (On a side note. Arians strikes me as someone who mostly runs a pro-style approach, eschewing spread, especially the dink-and-dunk style. But Brady seems to excel at operating the dink-and-dunk style–among other things. I’m curious to see to what extent the Bucs will incorporate more quick passing spread attack.)

    Bottom line: Brady is inserting himself into a good team. He’s really the main missing piece.

    Belichick, on the other hand, is almost in the opposite situation. Even if Brady stayed, I think the Patriots faced big challenges. (By the way, on one level, Brady asking for $30 million, and not less, put the Patriots in an impossible situation. Even if they paid him something between $20-$25, they would have had a challenge getting him weapons and good defensive players.) Maybe if Hakeem Butler takes a huge leap, and Sanu returns to form, (I believe he was hurt), and Edelman doesn’t decline, then they would have a solid roster offensive roster. But if these things don’t happen, even with a good QB, I kinda feel like they’re in trouble. Say they bring in Dalton or Flacco–I think this would be the biggest roster challenge Belichick faced–or something close to his roster at the start of his tenure with New England. If the roster doesn’t improve significantly from what they are now, and the Patriots win a lot and/or get into the playoffs that would be a huge accomplishment by Belichick in my opinion. It will be a greater accomplishment then if Brady gets to and wins a Super Bowl in my opinion.

    So who will have the better season? Right now, I’m saying Brady has a better chance of going the Super Bowl than the Patriots getting to the playoffs.

    1. Right now, I’m saying Brady has a better chance of going the Super Bowl than the Patriots getting to the playoffs.

      That’s a pretty extreme statement. I would put the Buc’s chance at making the Super Bowl at best around 10-15%. The Patriots should have a much better chance of getting to the playoffs than that. Yes Buffalo might be the best team in the division, but the Pat’s still have Belichick and the Jets and Miami in that division.

      Sort of confirming what you wrote though, I heard the Pats are not in a great situation cap-wise. But how is that possible? I thought they always try and save and never give in to big contracts. I just found that to be surprising.

    2. That’s a pretty extreme statement.

      Yeah, maybe. Making the playoffs might be too low of a bar and going to the Super Bowl may be too high. How about Brady has a significantly better chance of going further in the playoffs than Belichick? I’m essentially saying that Brady is in a much better position than Belichick.

  6. It’s hard to keep up with all the player movement.

    One that stands out: Jurrell Casey to the Broncos for a 7th rounder. Can that be right? Casey is a really good DT–maybe not as good as Fletcher Cox, but a notch below. I would have loved if the Raiders or Seahawks got him. Maybe he’s too expensive? He’s played nine seasons, I think, but he still seems effective. I don’t get it.

    In any event, this is a nice piece for the Broncos. The lost Chris Harris, but they picked up a CB (can’t remember whom).

    Do you guys know any good free agent trackers?

  7. The Rams released Todd Gurley and Clay Matthews. Looks like a rebuild. I have to say it kind of makes sense and it’s within character for this team over the past few years. I can see them replacing both players with people they think are better for a win-now approach.

    1. It makes sense because they didn’t manage their cap all that well, I think. To make matters worse, I don’t think they have a lot of draft picks. They might not have a first round pick for this year and next–or am I mixing them up with another team?

      Also gone from the team–Fowler, Littleton, Brockers, Robey-Coleman. They did add Ashawn Robinson and Leonard Floyd–and of course they still have Aaron Donald.

  8. Melvin Gordon to the Broncos. Todd Gurley to the Falcons. Eli Apple to the Raiders. Emmanuel Sanders to the Saints (Michael Thomas must be happy).

    https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/10KSEGcX_WuQjy1mwB942b6-XU3aUNINc

    This CBS Sports tracker looks at their top 100 free agents.

    I think Jameis Winston’s agent should be calling the Browns if he isn’t already. That feels to me like a good Mariota-Tannehill spot, and with those receivers (Oh yeah, Austin Hooper is a Brown now too — forgot about that one) he could do well there. Or at least okay.

  9. Putting aside price tag, which I’m not sure about, I like Melvin Gordon pick up by the Broncos. (I think they added at least one solid O-lineman as well–Glasgow from the Lions? On another note, someone took Andy Janovich, their FB. I wished the Seahawks was the team that did that!)

    I don’t really care for the Falcons getting Gurley. I was never a big fan of Gurley’s. He’s can be really good with good blocking, but can do very little with mediocre or poor blocking. His value also seemed to be based a lot on being a home run hitter, versus a ground-and-pound guy. I prefer the latter. Putting my preferences aside, I’d like this pick if Gurley didn’t have question marks about his health.

    I don’t really care for the Eli Apple pick up by the Raiders.

    A part of me feels like Emmanuel Sanders with the Saints would be a great move. But the Broncos and 49ers released him, which strongly suggests that he’s really declined. If that’s not the case, this would be a great move. (It would have been great for the Cowboys or Packers to get him, too–if he could still play at a pretty high level.) If he can be a solid 3 WR this will be a good pickup.

    Re: Winston and the Browns

    I believe the Browns signed Case Keenum (which is a solid move in my opinion). In addition to getting Austin Hooper, the Browns also signed Jack Conklin and picked up Andy Janovich. It feels like Stefanski is going to implement the ZBS offense a la Shanahans-Kubiak. They’ve got all the pieces. I really love watching the offense, when it’s well-executed, so if the Browns do that, I’ll be happy to watch them. The roster seems loaded, maybe an improvement over last year’s. They have no excuses.

    As for Winston, what other team would be a good landing spot? Is there a place he could compete for the starting position? Miami might be a decent team, at this point. I’m not sure they’d want him. Ditto the Patriots. What about the Rams? If I felt that his ball security could be fixed, I’d prefer him over Bortles as a backup.

  10. Did you guys see the new Rams logo? (See it at the 4:50 mark.)

    The LA part of it looks kinda cool; the actual ram, not so much, to me, although it may be better than the previous version. I saw someone combining the LA part with the ram part, and it looked kinda cool (but I can’t find an image.)

    Ultimately, I want to see how the helmets and uniforms will look. The current ones look pretty good to me.

  11. I read that the Raiders are not signing Eli Apple now, which suits me.

    Cowboys sign Aldon Smith.

    Seahawks sign Benson Mayowa. A decent rotational guy.

    1. Mayowa has now played for all our teams: Raiders, Cowboys, and now Seahawks. He is a decent rotational guy, but I hope they never pay him too much. He didn’t stand out on a Cowboy team without great linemen.

  12. NFL.com/game pass had the 1991 NFC Divisional playoff game between the Cowboys and Lions, which I watched. I thought the game was going to be a good one, as in a close game, but it wasn’t. I have no idea why they chose that game, unless the guy who chose it was either a Lions’ fan, Erik Kramer fan, or a Cowboy hater. Kramer was really good in this game–he got into a groove and stayed there. Summerall and Madden mentioned that the Cowboys weren’t going to let Barry beat them–they were going to force Kramer to do that and that’s what the Lions did.

    Some other things that kinda stood out:

    I forgot the Lions ran the run-and-shoot. Maybe if Scott Mitchell was the QB I wouldn’t be surprised, but I forgot they used this offense before him. I also sort of forgot how the run-and-shoot operated with the QB largely under center. One other thing: I didn’t get why, with the QB under center, and with Sanders, the Lions didn’t utilize more play action and draws or play action draws. I can’t remember them using it once and if they did, they didn’t do it much more than that.

  13. Did you guys see the new unis for the Falcons? It doesn’t look good to me. The Bucs seemed to have gone back to the early 2000s uniform, which I think is a lot better than the one they’ve been using recently.

  14. The draft will happen next week, which is a great move. America needs this draft. The beginning of this draft could have Super Bowl ratings in America, I’m guessing.

    1. Are you even more enthusiastic about watching this draft, because of the lack of sports? I’m going to follow it, but my enthusiasm is a diminished. I think I’ll feel this way about all the offseason moves, unless I have some solid reason to believe the season will proceed.

      1. I think I’ve watched a little bit more than usual of the draft on like NFL Network and stuff. The draft can be pretty boring especially in the first round where it takes forever for the next pick, but I will watch a bit of it for sure.

    2. If we’re talking about watching the draft, I think that can definitely be boring. I doubt I’ll do that. But listening to the draft, while doing other things, I think that’s the way to go.

      By the way, do you guys generally pay attention to the pre-draft evaluation of players? I have almost zero interest, largely because the Seahawks almost always pick players that surprises most people. Besides, we end up finding a lot about the players during and after the draft.

      1. I listen to pre draft stuff so at least I know the guys they talking about or the guys I want to see Dallas draft. Maybe not so much the first round, but in the second or third round and let’s say I want them to get a running back, I just saw guys say that the LSU running back and the Florida running back are good guys that would probably not go in the first round. At least I can watch to see hoping one of the two guys drop to Dallas. Now when Dallas picks they might go kicker at that point even if the two running backs are free, but it still better than me not knowing any of the players.

  15. There are a few “fake” stories or stories to drum up clicks, that Dallas and Houston should exchange QBs. Although I’ve said it before, that Watson has more talent than Dak, I’m not confident he’s the leader that Dak is. And both guys have the same issue of holding the ball too long sometimes, but Watson seem worse and that leads to big hits and bad decisions on his part. If this trade was real, you think I should be in favor of it?

    1. If this trade was real, you think I should be in favor of it?

      I would be–and without a lot of hesitation. Watson is a better QB overall, and I would say better playmaker.

      With regard to whether he holds the ball too long, the reason he’s doing this is the key question for me. To wit, is he holding the ball too long because he’s taking too long to see the field and/or process information? Or is it because of other reasons–like a poor pass pro; lack of threat in the run game; pass catchers struggling to get open. With the Texans, the latter seemed like legitimate issues. Add to this Watson’s scrambling ability, and his holding the ball a long time doesn’t seem like so bad. Now, that doesn’t mean processing information is not an issue. I really don’t know enough to judge this part.

      I will say this: put Watson and Prescott in a situation where the lack pass pro, run game, or quality WR/TEs, and I’m pretty confident Watson will do better in this situation. I also think that if you put Watson on the 2016 Cowboys team, they would have had a better chance of winning it all.

      Based on what I’ve seen so far, Prescott seems more like a QB that depends quite a bit on a strong supporting cast. He’s tough and seems like a good leader, but I see no indication that he’s a significantly better leader than Watson.

      I think it would be a mistake for the Texans to make this trade–unless they got good draft picks with this deal.

      1. I would say Watson’s receivers are better than Dak’s even with Amari and when Dallas got Amari, Dak seem to perform much better. And I don’t think Watson had as good of a year as Dak did last year.

        I get why a QB holds the ball too long matters. However in whatever scenario or situation, if the holding the ball too long causes too much turnovers, bad plays, and chances of injury, a QB need to learn to stop doing it. Part of that is coaching and play calling, as you saw Dak go from one of the worse in terms of sacks to one of the better QB when Moore took over as OC. But Dak still holds the ball too long a lot of the times.

        I’ll also add that I know you have a whole lot of other issues with Garappolo, but the fact that mistakes happen when he holds the ball too long may be his biggest flaw. I give him credit for his courage to stand in there. But talent wise he is Tom Brady and even better when you consider his ability to get outside the pocket. But Brady almost never takes a sack or a turnover because he was holding the ball too long. I would same the same for Brees.

        I take it from your response that you think Watson is much better than Dak. So is Watson a top five QB and Dak a QB 6-10. Or is Dak even lower than 10?

    2. I would say Watson’s receivers are better than Dak’s even with Amari and when Dallas got Amari, Dak seem to perform much better.

      With Fuller, I’d agree. Without, it’s pretty close.

      And I don’t think Watson had as good of a year as Dak did last year.

      To the point where you would say Dak is better than Watson?

      However in whatever scenario or situation, if the holding the ball too long causes too much turnovers, bad plays, and chances of injury, a QB need to learn to stop doing it.

      You think that’s applies to Watson? Do you think the Texans would be better off if he decreased his scrambling–i.e., giving up on plays earlier? I don’t really get the sense. Like most of Russell Wilson’s career, I think if Watson significantly reduced his scramble plays, his team would be worse off, overall.

      I’ll also add that I know you have a whole lot of other issues with Garappolo, but the fact that mistakes happen when he holds the ball too long may be his biggest flaw.

      My sense is that the pressure gets to him, leading to a mistake–not that he holds the ball too long. If he’s going to lose poise by holding the ball too long, then yeah, I guess he should get rid of it sooner, but then that speaks badly of him. Ryan, Rivers, and Luck can hold the ball a long time, too, but the can keep their composure and make good decisions.

      But talent wise he is Tom Brady and even better when you consider his ability to get outside the pocket.

      Maybe, but that matters little if you pressure out in big moments. Carr has talent, too, but that’s negated by untimely bonehead miscues.

      But Brady almost never takes a sack or a turnover because he was holding the ball too long. I would same the same for Brees.

      But look at their offense, play calling, and the quality of the OLs they had over the years.

      I take it from your response that you think Watson is much better than Dak. So is Watson a top five QB and Dak a QB 6-10. Or is Dak even lower than 10?

      I guess you could say I think Watson is in or very close to the top 5 whereas Prescott is not. I’ll put it this way: I’m much more confident in Watson, whereas I have question marks about Prescott. Is he more like Kirk Cousins or in the category above him? I don’t know. But for this reason, I’d take Watson over Prescott. I also think in terms of what Bill Walsh called “spontaneous genius” I think Watson has more of this than Prescott. In my view, the great QBs, in the biggest games, will need to do 2-3 plays where they have to improvise, use their mobility, often during a broken play, and make something happen. Prescott has the ability to do this, but I feel Watson is better.

      1. To the point where you would say Dak is better than Watson?

        I think it’s close enough that it would depend on the surrounding pieces. I think Dallas is better off with Dak, if they can surround him with talent. I agree that Watson has more upside and has a much better chance of making a bad offense good. But I cannot remember a playoff game in which Watson played well. Dak hasn’t been played badly in his playoff games, even the ones he lost.

        Do you think the Texans would be better off if he decreased his scrambling–i.e., giving up on plays earlier?

        Maybe I don’t watch him play enough, but I didn’t think he is great in the pocket. If he commits to get outside the pocket or if run the ball, then he can be show greatness. But if he tries to stay in the pocket and run around like Wilson, I don’t think that he does that well. In some of the bad sacks he takes, he doesn’t even leave the pocket, but just takes a bad sack. I just don’t see the great QBs do that, even when their teams are not particularly good.

        But look at their offense, play calling, and the quality of the OLs they had over the years.

        Yes but look at Brady last year. I never seen so many balls get thrown to the ground or at the feet from one QB that I can remember. Those were all to avoid sacks. Or a few years ago when Aaron Rodgers was having a bad year. He took sacks trying to make plays, I get that will happen. But he rarely takes a sack just holding the ball in the pocket or makes a big mistake when he has to get rid of it. You see that more than you need to from Watson, Dak, and Garoppolo. Those sacks are drive killers.

    3. I think it’s close enough that it would depend on the surrounding pieces. I think Dallas is better off with Dak, if they can surround him with talent.

      Why do you think Dallas would be worse off with Watson–let’s say he was on the 2016-2019 teams?

      But I cannot remember a playoff game in which Watson played well. Dak hasn’t been played badly in his playoff games, even the ones he lost.

      But are you accounting for the different supporting casts? Switch the teams of both players–do you think Dak would play better with the Texans, and Watson would play the same or worse with the Cowboys–in similar circumstances?

      Maybe I don’t watch him play enough, but I didn’t think he is great in the pocket.

      He’s may not great, but he can play in the pocket–unlike Kaepernick or RGIII (maybe Mariota). He’s not just an athlete. I guess you’re saying Dak is significantly better in the pocket? I don’t really see that.

      Yes but look at Brady last year.

      But their offense wasn’t good. And scrambling isn’t a real option for Brady. But suppose it was–suppose the Patriots had Watson. Would they be better off if Watson scrambled more, took more sacks, but also made more big plays during these scrambles. I think the Patriots offense might have been better. (Then again, I think they were so talent-poor that it might not have mattered.)

  16. I agree Dallas may have had more talent but Dak played well. He didn’t not play well in all three playoff games. That’s a good sign. Yes Watson had less talent, but it’s not like he was making up for that. In fact there are times that he was the reason for his team to be playing badly if I remember correctly. If your stance it’s super hard to evaluate QBs because of the talent around them, then that I can agree with. But if you are saying that during the playoff games, Dak played well because of his talent and Watson played bad because of his talent, and that’s a reason to think Watson is a better overall QB, that’s a little hard to swallow. I think Dak may have a little more in terms of immeasurables, and until I see a little more from Watson in bigger moments, I probably won’t change my mind.

    No I don’t think Dak is great in the pocket. In fact I would say he is probably below average at. My point is more, it’s okay for Watson to get sacked or make a mistake trying to make a play outside the pocket. But he takes bad sacks inside the pocket, and being that he’s not great inside the pocket, he shouldn’t make those mistakes. So I agree if Watson is making a play outside the pocket and gets sacked or makes a boneheaded play, I wouldn’t count that as harshly against him. His team needs that from him most of the time. But the little I watched him play, I also see him take bad sacks inside the pocket just because he was holding the ball. He also takes hits inside the pocket that he shouldn’t. I see greatness from him at times, but his bad plays negate some of that for me. And I also don’t see that fire in him, but I’m don’t know enough about his leadership to make a strong judgment.

  17. I agree Dallas may have had more talent but Dak played well. He didn’t not play well in all three playoff games. That’s a good sign.

    He didn’t not play well? Do you mean, he didn’t play badly–i.e., he didn’t do anything to lose the games? If so, as far as I can remember, that’s true. But did he play well enough, especially given the talent around him? For me, I didn’t see enough, especially when it comes to making the handful of plays in the most crucial moments. That’s still a question mark for me.

    Yes Watson had less talent, but it’s not like he was making up for that. In fact there are times that he was the reason for his team to be playing badly if I remember correctly.

    Here’s a big difference between their situations in my opinion: Dak has played on a balanced offense, while Watson played on a one-dimensional one. And I think that comes down to the coaching and the supporting cast, more than the players themselves (although it’s possible that Watson is the type of QB that resist handing the ball off a lot, like a Rodgers or Manning; if that’s the case, I would give him a negative mark for that). Put Dak on a one-dimensional offense, with the Texan roster and coaching, and I tend to think the Texans would not be as good. On the other hand, I think the Cowboys would be better if Watson played on Cowboys. The difference may not be huge, but it would be big enough that I’d want Watson over Prescott if I were a Cowboys fan. (If the Raiders could get either Prescott or Watson, I’d definitely choose Watson.)

    But if you are saying that during the playoff games, Dak played well because of his talent and Watson played bad because of his talent, and that’s a reason to think Watson is a better overall QB, that’s a little hard to swallow.

    I’m not saying Dak played badly and Watson played well. I’m asking if you’re taking account of the supporting cast, coaching, and type of offense when you’re evaluating their performance. Brady didn’t play well this year. Without qualifying the statement, the statement sounds like Brady’s mostly responsible for this. I would totally disagree with this–or I would at least point to many other factors that could be a bigger reason for the lackluster performance, especially by Brady’s standards.

    I don’t think I would say Dak played badly, but his performance leaves me with a questions and uncertainty about how good he really is. With Watson, I didn’t think he has played great, but I think there are other reasons to point to, besides himself. If he played on an offense that was more balanced and with better pass pro, with better pass-catchers–and he didn’t play so well, then I’d be more confident to put it on him. By the way, how often did Will Fuller play in the playoff games? He makes a big difference in my opinion. If I’m not mistaken, he missed the ending of 2018, too. I believe this is one reason the Texans made a trade for Demaryius Thomas late in the season.

    No I don’t think Dak is great in the pocket. In fact I would say he is probably below average at.

    Where do you rate Watson’s pocket play?

    But he takes bad sacks inside the pocket, and being that he’s not great inside the pocket, he shouldn’t make those mistakes.

    I guess I don’t know what you mean; or I just don’t remember seeing a lot of this to see this as a problem. I’m kinda curious to watch and look out for this. I definitely think QBs can hold onto the ball too long in the pocket. When Watson holds the ball a long time, that usually involves a lot of movement–even within the pocket I think. He’s not really a guy who will slide or climb in a pocket–like a Brady, Brees, Rivers, or Ryan. You remember him taking a lot of sacks just playing in a more traditional, pocket style?

    By the way, given what you’ve said, I’m curious to hear your take on Wilson’s sacks this year and last year. My sense is that he’s taking more sacks inside the pocket, and he’s cutting down on the crazy, Tarkentonian scrambles. I feel like his scrambling has become more similar to Rodgers’s.

    And I also don’t see that fire in him, but I’m don’t know enough about his leadership to make a strong judgment.

    Are you talking about expressing emotions in situations other than celebrating a TD or a really good play? Maybe I should re-think my position, but I don’t really care if a QB doesn’t display a lot of emotion or fire outside of these situations. A part of me kinda prefers that, especially if this means they’ll be this way in the biggest moments. A QB like this gives off the vibe that nothing will shake them–even a tough situation or a a really big moment. I prefer this approach to a QB is fiery, but also displays anger or frustration in pressure situations.

    1. But did he play well enough, especially given the talent around him?

      I think if you talking regular season, I would question Dak more. There are times he can do more. But in the playoffs, he played very well against the Packers. He made the great pass and decision to pass to Dez that was ruled incomplete. I think Dak would have been close to 350 if the pass was called a completion. Dak was great in the Seattle game, but he did make that huge third down run to seal the game. He was good enough. Against the Rams, Dallas’ defense couldn’t stop the run. Dak pretty much held them close in the first half. I didn’t see things that would make me worry about him in the biggest moments so far. My worry is what I’ve seen in the regular season games. He can take bad sacks at bad moments. He can be too cautious with the ball at times. I think Moore’s offense help Dak open up a little bit which is why we seen him look a little better in both getting rid of the ball and taking more chances.

      Are you talking about expressing emotions in situations other than celebrating a TD or a really good play?

      No I’m not really talking about that, although that’s is a little part of it I guess. The Elway’s, Marino’s, and Brady’s all showed emotion when playing. Peyton showed his leadership by directing. When you see these guys on the field, you don’t have doubts they are the leaders on their team. The other side you have Montana and Staubach. But even when I think of those guys, there is something different between them and a Watson or Eli (although I don’t put Watson in the Eli category). There is a ho-hum attitude to guys like Watson and Eli. It’s hard to think of them as leading. It’s hard to really know for sure so it’s hard to make any definite statements, though. We used to talk about Derrick Mckey as that guy with talent and no drive, that’s sort of what I’ve seen of Watson so far. Are there past QBs that you think are very similar to Watson or worse yet Eli and were great? You see Montana very similar to these guys?

    2. But in the playoffs, he played very well against the Packers. He made the great pass and decision to pass to Dez that was ruled incomplete.

      In the 2017 playoffs? I don’t remember this play.

      As for his playoff performance, right now, the details of his performance are really fuzzy. But I don’t remember coming away from those games feeling confident that he’s the guy. significantly compensate for a roster that is less then this.

      My worry is what I’ve seen in the regular season games. He can take bad sacks at bad moments. He can be too cautious with the ball at times. I think Moore’s offense help Dak open up a little bit which is why we seen him look a little better in both getting rid of the ball and taking more chances.

      I agree the offense helped him, particularly in terms of productivity. (The downside, in my view, is that they shifted away from the centrality of the run game.)

      As for the regular season, I would worry less about that if his post-season play gave me confidence that he’s the guy. Again, I’m not saying he’s definitely not the guy–I’m uncertain at this point.

      The other side you have Montana and Staubach. But even when I think of those guys, there is something different between them and a Watson or Eli (although I don’t put Watson in the Eli category). There is a ho-hum attitude to guys like Watson and Eli.

      Yeah, but as you implied, Montana (can’t remember if Staubach was not so emotional or not) was more on the ho-hum side, too. By the way, was he always the captain? A part of me wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t, just because of his demeanor. By the way, for some reason, sometimes I get the impression that he’s not that bright–this is partly from interviews, too. It’s not that I think he’s dumb, but he looks and talks in a way that makes me wonder if he’s really sharp. Maybe it’s a sleepy quality? Eli has this, too.

      I’d argue that with Montana, and Staubach, their calmness and ability to perform well in tight situations makes them seem like there’s something more. The same is true for Russell Wilson, too. By the way, I think in the last couple of years, he’s shown more emotion, but early in his career he had a pretty stoic style while playing. (He still kinda does, but not as much in my view.) But when a QB keeps making plays in big moments and they seem calm, even ho-hum, I actually really like that. (I think Flacco is that way.) If I were a coach or teammate, I’d be like this guy is totally fine–the pressure is not getting to him at all. That’s a good thing.

      With Eli, and Flacco, it’s not their demeanor–it’s their inconsistency and lackluster performances. Also, people have criticized Jay Cutler for his demeanor–and I can see that. (Cutler kinda looks like a punk, too.) But ultimately, I wouldn’t care if he played better, not throwing so many bad passes. His vibe of indifference might even be an asset.

      1. But the Brady’s and Elway’s can be super calm in the big moments as well, I think. Can you think of a great basketball player that was like Montana? Kareem maybe?

        And I’m guessing that at least in terms of what you can see, Montana and Watson looks like the same guy not only in terms of emotion but leadership as well? Maybe I added more leadership characteristics to Montana because of his success? I’ve also seen Joe pretty fiery on the Dan Patrick Show when Mcloven called him a system QB (only good because of the system) jokingly. Joe seem pretty upset.

    3. But the Brady’s and Elway’s can be super calm in the big moments as well, I think. Can you think of a great basketball player that was like Montana? Kareem maybe?

      I was thinking of Dr. J. What about Ice, Ray Allen, Alex English, Jamaal Wilkes or Mark Price? Centers in general seem to have more of a stoic, calm style, don’t you think. You mentioned Kareem, but also Robert Parrish, even Hakeem.

      By the way, you mentioned Derrick McKey. I think the issue was his performance overall, relative to his level of talent. The calm exterior seem to be linked to a lack of effort and intensity. But, I think the examples above suggest that it’s possible to be intense, but also play in a more stoic style.

      And, yeah, Brady, Elway, or more emotional QBs can be poised in pressure situations–I don’t mean to say they can’t.

      And I’m guessing that at least in terms of what you can see, Montana and Watson looks like the same guy not only in terms of emotion but leadership as well?

      I can’t say the “it” factor is the same–not to the same degree. I don’t have questions about his leadership, though. The much bigger problem in my view has to do with factors other than Watson–like Bill O’Brien, the supporting cast, one-dimensional offense.

      Maybe I added more leadership characteristics to Montana because of his success?

      I know this is true for me–and it’s success the success in big moments, when plays break down. It could be just a little shovel pass at the last moment. In these moments, his facial expression and the overall vibe he exudes is calm, matter-of-fact almost. Even if you watch “the Catch,” when he’s rolling out and scanning the field, there’s no urgency or stress in his face–he gives two pump fakes, too, right? It’s the combination of an incredible play, especially when the play breaks down, and the calm way he goes about doing this–and that this happens repeatedly. Wilson is the same exact way.

      I’ve also seen Joe pretty fiery on the Dan Patrick Show when Mcloven called him a system QB (only good because of the system) jokingly. Joe seem pretty upset.

      But even his fieriness doesn’t seem all that fiery, don’t you think. To me, he has a goofy, almost dopey, aw-shucks, boyish, simple quality to him. He doesn’t come across at all as a thinker or someone who is deep person. For example, he doesn’t seem like he’s a guy who has the problem of over-thinking things–he just goes out and does things, without much thinking. That’s the impression I get. And by the way, if I’m right, these qualities are positive, if they allow him to play calmly in pressure situations.

  18. I saw that the Jaguars are shopping Leonard Fournette. He’s my type of back, and I would love if the Seahawks or, even the Raiders, got him. But the Seahawks really have other needs, and no longer have a lot of cap space. The Raiders have Josh Jacobs, and they also need other big needs.

    I kinda like him with Detroit in Daryl Bevell’s offense. The Bills or the Colts might be another good landing spot, although I kinda feel like he might be a waste with the Colts. Oh, if the Broncos are going with a run-first offense, he would have been great there, but they already got Gordon. (I prefer Fournette over Gordon, myself.) Rams might have been a good place for him, too.

    In other news, the Chiefs sign DeAndre Washington from the Raiders. I like this pick-up. Washington is scatback type of RB, who is decent at running inside. I’m not sure how good he is as a receiver, but a more spread offense seems like a good fit for him.

  19. Gronk to the Buccaneers for a 4th round pick (I think). Seems like a good trade for the Patriots, and possibly for the Bucs, if Gronk is even 80% of his normal self. Intriguing.

    1. I heard OJ Howard was already being shopped even before Gronk, but I’ll be surprised if Gronk is a huge improvement over Howard and Cameron Brate. Basically I think in terms of pass catching weapons, the Bucs are pretty set. They should be looking to improve in other areas. I may eat those words if Gronk is any good.

    2. …I’ll be surprised if Gronk is a huge improvement over Howard and Cameron Brate.

      I think this is a good point. I’ve heard several people note that Arians’s offense doesn’t really heavily utilize a TE. Based on what I’ve seen, that seems to be the case, although I don’t think he’s had great TEs. Then again, if Brate and Howard are really good, then that would suggest the TE isn’t that big of a factor in his offense (or Leftwich’s). But all this all depends on how you define “big factor.” The TE may not put up big numbers, but based on what I’ve seen the TE is a factor in his offense–he’s basically a pro-style guy.

      The x factor for me is the blocking of all three–I have no idea about the quality of their blocking. If Gronk is significantly better than the other two, that could be a huge difference, not just in the run game, but making him more dangerous in pass game, especially play action.

      If I would be surprised about anything, it would be big numbers from Gronk, given what I’ve mentioned above, and Gronk’s age. Also, I think if he plays a whole season that will be an accomplishment, unless the season is shortened. But even putting up big numbers won’t be too surprising, as we all know how good he was in the past.

    3. Getting the best tight end of all time, who happens to be a great friend of your newly acquired greatest QB of all time, in exchange for a fourth-round pick? Huge.

      Gronk wasn’t even going to play this season. I suspect he doesn’t expect to carry the receiving corps, which would be a huge relief for him. Do you guys remember the Gronk Cruise a couple of years ago? In an unexpected moment of candor during a Q&A, when a reporter asked him what he wishes for, he said, “I wish I could wake up every morning not in pain” or words to this effect. I think he’ll be happy if he gets to play even on a limited basis — in fact he might prefer it.

      I’ve heard (I can’t verify) that Gronkowski hasn’t touched the money he earned from his NFL salary, that he’s lived on his endorsement money all (or most of) this time. So he’s likely not coming back for money.

      I think he’s coming back to hang with his buddy, to catch a few balls, and maybe to go to another post-season. If the Buccaneers only put him in on third and medium or in the red zone, they’re going to get value even if Gronk is only a memory of his former self. And I suspect he could catch that end zone back-shoulder fade into his forties if Brady’s the one throwing it to him.

      What if the real value to the Buccaneers is the effect Gronk’s presence has on Brady? It could be HUUUUUUGE.

      Unless Tua goes somewhere suuuuuper interesting tomorrow (New England?!?!), the Bucs are going to be the story of the season, if we in fact have a season. Man, I kind of wish Perriman were still on the team.

    4. What if the real value to the Buccaneers is the effect Gronk’s presence has on Brady? It could be HUUUUUUGE.

      You think so? Do you mean it would make the game more enjoyable for Brady? That since they have an onfield (maybe offfield, too) rapport, this will help Brady be more effective?

      The Bucs will definitely be a big story. I’m also really curious to see what happens in New England.

      But as you alluded to–that’s if we have a season. And even if we do, I’m not feeling good about the quality of play. I just read the the Saints are cancelling their offseason workout, which I think is the preparation prior to real offseason practices. I’m not sure. In any event, if teams are going to reduce their preparation, relying more on the players to work out in isolation, I feel like that’s going to negatively impact the quality of play, and maybe even increase injuries. I hope not, though.

  20. Off the top of my head:

    Aaron Rodgers ($4)
    Ezekiel Elliot ($3)
    Mike Evans ($2)
    OBJ ($3)
    Davante Adams ($3)

    1. I would go Rodgers ($4), Evans ($2), Amari ($2), Michael Thomas ($4), and Zeke ($3).

      There is no way Derrick Henry is a better all around RB than Zeke. I don’t even think Henry is better than Chubb. I also do not think Adams is better than Cooper.

    2. I didn’t realize Rodgers was 36. That means he would be 39 in three years. Because of that, I think I’d switch to Deshaun Watson.

      I don’t think Henry is a better all-around back than Elliot, but he could be a better back. To me, that’s the question. One could argue that he is, but I wouldn’t pay spend extra for him. I also would be happy with Chubb, especially at his price.

      As for Davante Adams, I have a hard time gauging how good he is. Sometimes he seems like a good playmaker and other times he doesn’t. Between him and Cooper, though, I think I’d take Adams. To me Cooper will drop balls that he shouldn’t and I find that frustrating.

      Evans at $2 is too low.

  21. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I thought I saw the Jameis Winston going to the Saints on a one year deal. That’s a good place for Winston, I think.

    1. The Saints just signed Taysom Hill, Winston, and drafted a QB. Will they keep four during the season, including Brees? It’s possible with Hill playing multiple positions, I guess, but that’s tough. Most teams only keep two on their roster.

    2. The Saints drafted a QB? Someone really good? Otherwise, I’d guess they’d just drop him to the practice squad. i suspect they’re going to keep three, like they did last year.

  22. I agree with Cowherd that grading a team’s draft immediately isn’t worth a lot. I do like how he goes about evaluating teams right now–namely, look at who the teams lost and gained in free agency and the top three picks in their draft. Essentially, he’s evaluating a team’s offseason at this point.

    I agreed with the teams he gave high marks for. The Broncos free agency pick ups were really impressive, and I also agree with Cowherd that if Drew Lock is good, Denver could be a dangerous team.

    I also tend to agree about Belichick and his ability to draft players–namely, it’s not that great.

    On a side note, while I haven’t been following the Patriots moves closely, the overall impression I get is that they’re going back to an older formula, winning with defense, and ball control. I say that because they don’t seem to have added a lot of offensive weapons, although they did draft two TEs. I guess if those two really pan out, and Stidham is really good, their offense may be more than just a good ball control unit.

  23. I can’t remember everything that was said on this, but they discuss a remark made by a long-time Packer reporter:

    “Public niceties aside, my sense is LaFleur, fresh from a terrific 13-3 baptismal season, simply had enough of Rodgers’ act and wanted to change the narrative. With a first-round talent on the roster, the Packers would gain leverage with their imperial quarterback and his passive-aggressive style,” the report read. “If the Packers do indeed want to become a running team next season, they surely wouldn’t want Rodgers rocking the boat and becoming even more difficult to coach.”

    I don’t know the exact situation in Green Bay (obviously), but here are a few comments:

    1. Last year, early in the season, the offense looked different–more plays with Rodgers under center, more play action, and greater threat to run the ball. At some point, though, the offense got away from this, and it started looking more like the offense under McCarthy.

    To me, this seemed like another indication of tension between LaFleur and Rodgers. I’ll say more on this in the next point.

    2. Most talk about this report seem to center on play calling–namely, Rodgers wanted to change plays and LaFleur assented. The talk suggests this is was a key source of the friction. But my sense is that this discussion is really about being a more pass-centric team or a more balance, run-based offense, Rodgers wanting the former, and LaFleur the latter. If this is true, this is a noteworthy detail. If LaFleur wants a more balanced, run-based attack, and Rodgers doesn’t, this is a really big problem. If Rodgers refuses to give in, it might be better for LaFleur to acquiesce (as he largely did last year). The other alternative is to try and trade Rodgers. I don’t think trying to have it both ways is going to work. It could potentially tear the team a part.

    3. For a long time, I have believed that a great passing QB is a double-edged sword. They’re so good at passing, they’ll prevent an offense from having a balanced attack. A deterioration of skill seems like the only thing that will get such a QB to concede (and with Marino even that didn’t seem to do the trick). Rodgers’s skill hasn’t deteriorated enough in my view. If LaFleur really wants a more run-based offense, this is bad news, strangely enough.

    4. If the Packers were thinking of trading Rodgers, where would a good landing spot be? The first team that came to mind was the Chargers. Man, I’d like to see Rodgers in that offense. With the moves Denver made, Rodgers would be interesting in Denver, too. Both teams would become contenders I think. (If GB could get 2nd and 3rd round pick, would this be enough? Also, GB could maybe then sign Cam Newton, if he’s healthy.)

    5. One last note. That the Packers didn’t draft a WR, in a draft with a lot of good WRs, seems kinda crazy to me, and I wouldn’t blame Rodgers for being really annoyed and frustrated. The Packers need at least one more good pass catcher. Maybe they have one on the roster. We’ll see. Also, I believe Peter King said that the Packers have never drafted a WR in the first three rounds for the past six years, nor have they signed any big free agent receivers. I complain about Russell Wilson’s OL. I think Rodgers could make a case about the quality of pass catchers (although he’s consistently have a very good OL). Russ hasn’t had great pass catchers, but in the last three years, I would say they were better than what Rodgers had.

  24. Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, and Joe Flacco free agents. (Winston and Mariota were also available.) Has there ever been this many solid QBs free agents at this time of year? Maybe Newton is really damaged goods (or COVID-19 preventing teams’ doctors from examining him); maybe Flacco is worse than I think. Ditto Dalton. But they seem like good QBs to me. Shoot, I think I’d rather have any of them over Foles, and add Tyrod Taylor to the mix

    If Cam is at least 80% of his prime, it’s kinda crazy if the Chargers don’t take him. If I were a Bears fan I’d want him. Maybe teams don’t want to deal with his attitude? I have a feeling the Belichick wouldn’t want to.

    The Bills or Steelers should consider getting Flacco as a backup (assuming Dalton and Newton want to start). That would be a really good pick-up, I think. The Titans should consider this, too. Shoot, if the Seahawks had a great defense and run game, I’d want one of them as a backup. (They would probably be too expensive, though.)

    1. I’m hearing Dalton to the Cowboys. Don, how do you like that move? If I were a Cowboys fan, I think I’d like it, unless the prices was too steep. The thing is, if for some reason, Prescott goes down, Dalton should be able to keep your playoff hopes alive on this type. (I think I would have preferred Flacco if they could get him for a lot cheaper.)

      1. Price is about right for Dalton. My guess is the Cowboys probably have real concerns Dak will not sign the franchise tag. Will Dak sit the entire year? I doubt it, but I don’t think they would pay Dalton if they signed Dak to a long term contract during the off-season, especially since Dak hasn’t missed a start in three years.

      2. Dalton to the Cowboys for one year and $7M makes a lot of sense for both parties. Dak not signing the franchise deal makes almost no sense to me either, especially with the toys the Cowboys picked up for Dak to play with. I also think if the season ever gets rolling, most players across the league are just going to be happy to play; they’d have to be really, really unhappy with their deals not to play.

        A lot depends on what a season will look like (will it be abbreviated?), and how owners, players, and the league will agree to handle service time.

        Unless Flacco and Cam are hurting for money (which would be a small surprise), it makes the most sense for them to wait. Somebody’s QB always goes down during the season, and now Flacco and Cam can sort of bide their time and swoop in to be storybook heroes. There are a lot of QBs in this league with a ton invested in them but no real clarity. Three fourths of the AFC East, as an example. If the Jets (for example) start out 2 and 6 before Sam Darnold goes down, Cam can just keep waiting for a better opportunity. But if the Jets open at 6 and 2 and Darnold goes down, it could be Superman to the rescue.

        Belichick was willing to put up with Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, and Antonio Brown. I don’t see why he wouldn’t be willing to work with Cam Newton if he thought Cam could win. I heard someone credible (I can’t remember who) posit that the Patriots are actually tanking for Trevor Lawrence, but this seems borderline absurd to me.

    2. Everything you say makes sense, but I wasn’t really thinking of the possibility of the Cowboys failing to get a deal done when they signed Dalton. If Dak sits out, that would be crazy. Something really has to go wrong for that to happen. I just don’t see this. If the Cowboys allow this to happen, they should just move on.

    3. Your points about Flacco and Cam are really good ones. I like the Jets example you pose. Also, I think if Josh Allen goes down for the Bills, Stafford for the Lions–there are a lot of examples actually. (Who is the backup for the Chiefs now?)

      The key is Cam’s level of ability is at this point. If his ability hasn’t significantly declined, he’s better than Tyrod or Foles.

      Belichick was willing to put up with Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, and Antonio Brown. I don’t see why he wouldn’t be willing to work with Cam Newton if he thought Cam could win.

      I’m pretty sure all three had to have the right attitude. I’d guess for some, they’d have to modify when they got over there. And with Moss, it didn’t last. It may not with AB, too. (My understanding is that Kraft wanted him out, not Belichick, but I’m not sure.)

      I heard someone credible (I can’t remember who) posit that the Patriots are actually tanking for Trevor Lawrence, but this seems borderline absurd to me.

      I agree with you–I’d be utterly shocked if Belichick did this. Did Cowherd suggest this?

    4. I forgot to mention this (although I might have mentioned this up there), but I also like Cam or even Flacco with the Steelers. Who knows if Roethlisberger can play a full season, and if he’s lost for the entire season, with the Steelers defense (which seems better than it has been in a while), the Steelers could be in the hunt.

      Somebody mentioned Cleveland for Cam. That sounds interesting, but I’d probably shy away from this if I were Cleveland. I’d be interested in Flacco, though.

      Flacco to any of the McVay or ZBS teams as a backup would be good for him, especially if the team has a good TE.

      I’ve also heard Cam to the Seahawks. I’m not sure how I’d feel about that, but I don’t think this would be great for Newton. (If the Seahawks had a really good defense and run game I think I’d like this.)

      1. If they can get Cam for a deal, I’d leap at him if I were Seattle. Wilson is the Seahawks’ entire offense. If he goes down, they don’t win. If he goes down and Cam comes in, they have another guy who (assuming all the usual assumptions about health) can win a game by himself.

    5. Even if Cam is healthy, I still think he won’t be at his prime (like 2015 for example). If Wilson goes down, the ‘Hawks would need Cam in his prime to have a chance of going deep into the playoffs. I say that because the defense and even the OL might not be that good. If both were really good, then a less-than-prime Cam could lead the team deep into the playoffs, and I’d be much more interested in him.

      1. So you feel better about Anthony Gordon as Wilson’s backup?

        How quickly does a QB fall out of his prime? Maybe for a guy like Newton, who has been unfairly beaten up through the years, it happens quickly, but in 2018, when I think we all know Newton was playing hurt, he had a 67.9 completion percentage for 3395 yards, 24 TDs, 13 INTs, and 7.2 yards per attempt for a QB rating of 94.2 in 14 games.

        He also carried the ball 101 times for 488 yards, 4.8 yards per carry, 4 TDs, and 34.9 yards per game.

        For comparison, in 2015 (the MVP season), he had a 59.8 completion percentage, 3837 yards, 35 TDs, 10 INTs, and 7.8 yards per attempt for a QB rating of 99.4 in 16 games.

        He carried the ball that year 132 times for 636 yards, 4.8 yards per carry, 10 TDs, and 39.8 yards per game.

        There’s a dropoff between 2015 and 2018 for sure, but if he’s close to what he was the last time he played 14 games (when we all knew he was hurt), he’s better than just about any backup QB in the league. And as I said, if the Seahawks can get him for a deal, why not?

          1. Fortunately for the rest of the NFC West, Geno Smith was released by the Seahawks after the 2019 season. He’s still a free agent.

    6. I heard the Hawks signed Geno Smith for one year. But Smith or Gordon are not better than Newton. So why not sign Newton? Here are some reasons:

      1. He likely will cost more.
      2. He has more of a potential to be disruptive than the other two.
      3. The team surrounding Wilson, especially the defense and OL, might be average at best and quite possibly much worse.
      4. There’s a decent chance that Newton is not fully healthy. I think this is one of the reasons interest in him has been low.

      If all this is true, and Wilson goes down, does it make sense to sign Newton?

      Now, if those conditions above change or are not true, that can change things. But as long as they remain true, they seem like compelling reasons not to sign Newton.

  25. Some news: Cam Newton to the Patriots on a 1-year deal.

    An interesting thought below:

    1. Cam could resurrect his career. I think with a mildly effective career in New England, say 3-4 playoff years, he could be a hall-of-famer.

    2. Cam could resurrect his career. I think with a mildly effective career in New England, say 3-4 playoff years, he could be a hall-of-famer.

      It’s hard to see him being a HoF-er unless he wins a Super Bowl or at least goes to one more–unless he performs really well in the regular and post-seasons and has a relatively long career. Say he has 3-4 playoff years, but his teams exist early, and his performance isn’t really good. I think he’d have a hard time getting in.

      His career was never dead. It doesn’t need resurrecting. It needs a makeover.

      Maybe not dead but his career is “beaten down” so to speak. His play has declined. Is it just due to injuries (his pass-catchers have been lackluster), and if so can he overcome them at this point in his career?

      1. Yeah I wasn’t trying to say Cam just goes to the playoffs 3-4 more times and gets into the HOF. But if he plays well for 3-4 more years and is a top five QB in those years, I think he will have the resume. The problem will be that bad Super Bowl performance in his MVP year. That could be tough to overcome. I think Cam’s career overall would be better than Kurt Warner’s with 3-4 more productive years (possible with 1-2 more productive years), it’s just Kurt has three Super Bowls appearances, winning one.

    3. Up to this point, do you guys consider Newton a great QB? I don’t think I would say that, although it’s hard to describe my feelings about him. I think his running really enhanced the offense, maybe more than any other QB, including Wilson. I think it’s the power running, running inside, leading to a package of various option plays that separates him from QBs like Wilson. Earlier, it’s also as if Carolina didn’t care if Newton got pounded on those runs. Also, he could and would frequently make a handful of incredible throws that very few other QBs could make–not just current QBs, but QBs from the past. In 2015, I thought he deserved the MVP.

      But early in his career, his ball security sucked. And he has not been a really accurate thrower, and he would throw too hard, especially on shorter throws. And the Super Bowl performance is a stain, as Don mentioned.

      Does this make Newton a great QB? I’m more inclined to say he’s very good, although his threat of running makes him a formidable and unique challenge.

      As for Warner, I’m ambivalent about how great he is. I don’t put much weight on the fact that he went to three Super Bowls. My sense is that his case is built on numbers he put up with the Greatest Show on Turf. You could argue that was the most talented team, in terms of weapons, and an OL that wasn’t shabby either. I certainly wouldn’t say Warner is better than Newton because of he had better statistical volume.

      1. I’m too lazy to look, but I bet in my book he was a top five QB for numerous years. I’m pretty sure he is regarded as having the best rookie QB year of all time. I’m not sure if Mayfield’s year surpassed Cam, but I would guess not. Cam also has one MVP, which many don’t.

        I think Cam is great. I think Lamar Jackson is a better player, though. I think I would rather have Kurt Warner as my QB, but I definitely would rather have Cam over Eli, who is also a future HOF’er.

    4. I’m too lazy to look, but I bet in my book he was a top five QB for numerous years.

      Statistically, or in terms of how experts would rank him? I think I’d take Warner over Newton, but it may not be a slam dunk. I think I’d go with Newton over Eli (and I don’t think Eli deserves to be in the HoF).

      I think Cam is great. I think Lamar Jackson is a better player, though. I think I would rather have Kurt Warner as my QB, but I definitely would rather have Cam over Eli, who is also a future HOF’er.

      I think it’s way too early to pass judgment on Lamar. It would not surprise me if he flames out.

      How would you compare Newton to the following QBs:

      Phillip Rivers
      Tony Romo
      Matt Ryan
      Matt Stafford?

      1. If I was choosing I would probably have him right in the mix with these guys in terms of talent/skill. That being said though, Cam’s HOF resume with a few more good years, would be above all of these guys with the exception of Ryan. Ryan has a Super Bowl appearance, MVP, and loss as well. I do not think the others have any of those things. HOF has as much or maybe more to do with resume, especially for QBs, than playing ability.

      2. The gap may not be far, but, I think I’d prefer all those over Newton.

        In terms of talent–especially in terms of arm strength–he’s not only better than them, but he’s might be in an all-time great level–with Favre, Elway, maybe Moon.

        HOF has as much or maybe more to do with resume, especially for QBs, than playing ability.

        I agree, but I go more by playing ability and actual performance, especially in critical moments.

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