The NFL’s official start of free agency is just another week away, but it’s been a busy few days across the league as the quarterback market overheated and teams used the franchise tag designation.
With a new home for Derek Carr, new deals for Geno Smith and Daniel Jones, and a franchise designation for Lamar Jackson, the next round of dominoes begins.
athletic‘s Mike Sando and Mike Jones discuss what these moves mean and what to expect in the future
The Ravens used a non-exclusive franchise tag for Lamar Jackson, making it more likely that Jackson played his last game in Baltimore. rice field. What are the key points for you regarding this situation?
Jones: The first thing that stands out is that Baltimore used non-dedicated rather than dedicated tags. There are big differences here for several reasons. The Ravens would have had to commit to a salary of just over $45 million in the exclusive tag versus about $32 million in the non-exclusive. I’m here. Because after months of professing their love for the franchise’s quarterback, it seems to suggest they may be open to business.
However, I also found it interesting that teams in need of quarterbacks such as the Falcons, Panthers, Commanders, Raiders and Dolphins quickly informed through various channels that they had no intention of pursuing a trade for Jackson. Multiple people across the league are interested in this denial of much interest in the under-30 MVP Caliber quarterback as it appears to lend credence to the NFLPA’s collusion claims. .
At last week’s Combine, the owners, angered by the Browns signing Deshawn Watson to a $230 million fully-insured deal, mutually agreed not to give him another fully-insured deal. There was quite a bit of chatter in the NFL neighborhood. , a multi-year deal with the quarterback. Collusion is hard to prove, but suspicions were high a week ago, and Tuesday’s actions certainly look like something is up. Did you already know you didn’t have to worry about losing Jackson?
Approach: My reading is that the Ravens and Jackson have fundamentally disagreed about his values, and their relationship has broken down. Baltimore has called a bluff on Jackson’s value, but that’s not all. Had the Ravens gone the exclusive route, the status quo would have prevailed. The stalemate likely persisted. Now there may be movement. The Ravens may have options. I think they would rather stay away from Jackson than pay him for the type of deal Watson received. That’s why they’re happy to use non-proprietary tags.
As for the collusion element, there’s no question that the NFL and its owners want Watson’s deal to be a one-off, not a trend. Some executives at teams across the league believe that the agent-less Jackson is likely taking advice from the NFL Players Association, which hopes that signing Watson will become the norm for top quarterbacks. Agents have an incentive to close deals in order to collect fees, whereas the NFLPA values precedent most and in the eyes of these executives, advises accordingly. There is a possibility that It’s widely believed among leagues and agents that if Jackson had an agent, he would already have a deal.
Typically, a player in a situation like Jackson would operate the Combine on behalf of his agent, meet with the team on the low tier, clarify his position, plan the possibilities, and leak a few things to reporters. does not have an agent. He couldn’t really represent himself at the Combine. A year ago today, the Seahawks and Broncos traded Russell his Wilson after adjusting parameters in a face-to-face meeting at the Combine. It seems unlikely that such groundwork was laid when it came to Jackson’s future.
Another team could come after Jackson with an aggressive offer. I haven’t read many bulletins suggesting that various teams aren’t interested in Jackson. Under these circumstances, can we expect the team to advertise their interest in the player? We may have leaked the news. I don’t think Jackson and the Ravens know anything about the situation. That means other teams may not know as well.
From my perspective, Jackson’s recent injuries and concerns about his long-term durability make it unlikely that any team will offer a fully guaranteed three-year-plus offer. Yes, all he needs is one team, but he also needs skills to build and operate the market. I don’t think Jackson is in a position to deal with those components, but we’ll see.
The Giants’ signing of Daniel Jones to a four-year extension at an average annual salary of $40 million provoked a wide response. One league official said, “I don’t know what the Giants were thinking,” while another speculated, “They really had no choice.” What are your thoughts on this decision from Giants headquarters?
Jones: On the one hand, it seems absolutely insane to give Jones this much money after a solid (not at all dominant) season. He helped the Giants beat the postseason drought, but he only managed 15 touchdown passes (tied for 21st in the league) while passing for a very mediocre 3,205 yards (a career-high). I could not do it. Jones rushed for seven more touchdowns and 708 yards.
Couldn’t the Giants just use the franchise tag to allow another year of growth and then spend a huge amount of money over the long term? I think it should have been a movement.
But such a move would be risky, said another member of the rival front office. The Giants could have prepared for a different situation for Kirk Cousins (frustrated by Washington’s perceived underestimation of his talent in 2016, Cousins decided to return to his former team). and played in the franchise tag in both 2017 and 2018 (going to Minnesota on a fully guaranteed deal in 2019). A third opposition executive said he didn’t blame Jones for his weak passing touchdown total because Jones doesn’t have much talent at wide receivers or a strong offensive line to support him. The Giants said they made a safe investment given how difficult it is to find high quarterbacks.
Approach: All else being equal, I’d like Jones to play in the franchise tag and re-evaluate after another season. They wanted to save Saquon Barkley’s tag. They wanted a reduction in the short-term salary cap that comes with long-term contracts. And if Jones is upset, the tradeoff could be worth it if the four-year system keeps the Giants an option.
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Would you rather be the Saints with Derek Carr, the Jets chasing Aaron Rodgers, or the Raiders drafted 7th overall?
Approach: Things are pretty good for the Saints, as Kerr put up enough floors that New Orleans could be the favorite to win the NFC South when the Saints weren’t in a position to draft a quarterback early. Kerr’s contract structure allows the Saints to get away with two years and $60 million. New Orleans could draft a quarterback in 2024 and let that quarterback sit behind Carr for a season before moving forward with a younger replacement. The Saints can choose a third season with him.
Jones: I will take the car. He may not be elite, but he is very good and, with the right support, has the ability to lead his team to many wins in the regular season and postseason. In New Orleans, I am surrounded by a capable cast led by Chris Olave, Michael Thomas (if healthy), Alvin Kamara and a very good defense. The division is wide open. Let the Saints now slot him in as the winner of the NFC South.
For now, the Jets face great uncertainty, as it’s very difficult to say which way this Rodgers courtship will go. But the Jets still have to get past Buffalo to get out of the division and take on other powerhouses like Kansas City and Cincinnati. is.
And the 7th Raiders are interesting. But their dream quarterback may be snatched from the board before they even pick one.
Almost a year after trading Russell Wilson to Denver, the Seahawks signed Geno Smith to a three-year, $75 million contract. How would you rank quarterback status in the NFC West?
Approach: This seems like an exaggeration, but Jenno Smith played longer than any other quarterback in the NFC West last season, and when you factor in the money coming to Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford in addition to the draft, there’s a lot more to the other. Cheaper than a quarterback.Capital San Francisco invested in this position. Seattle acquires Smith for $25 million a year and has the ability to draft the quarterback with the fifth pick.
Stafford has missed 16 games in the last four seasons and will be fully guaranteed $62 million if he remains on the roster on March 17. It felt like a precarious situation for the Rams, who are in rebuilding mode offensively along his line, and Sean said McVay was clearly in his commitment to coaching. Hopefully, based on how well Stafford can play under McVay, I’ll take the Rams’ QB situation next.
Now let’s take a look at the 49ers quarterback situation. Because Kyle Shanahan works well with different players. I’m curious about Brock Purdy’s elbow rehab and Trey Lance’s development timeline. If Purdy was healthy, he would appreciate the 49ers situation.
Given the huge investment in Murray, Arizona falls last for me. His short-term injury situation has been troubling, his long-term endurance has been called into question, and his own team has questioned whether he is willing to put in the work to succeed. It seems like a difficult situation and will likely involve future drama.
Jones: If healthy, Stafford leads the way, followed by Murray, Smith and the 49ers recovering from injury between Purdy and Lance. Smith could very easily push him up to No. 2, but feels that No. 3 would suit him better based on the cap of each quarterback.
In addition to Baltimore, five other teams used franchise tags for their players. Dallas has running back Tony Pollard, Jacksonville has tight end Evan Engram, Las Vegas has running back Josh Jacobs, Giants have Barkley, and Washington has defensive he tackle Darron Payne. Which teams caught your eye by choosing not to tag their star players?
Jones: It’s interesting that the Chiefs let off a left tackle Orlando Brown hit free agency. He’s a key figure in the success of his Mahomes, but the $19 million cap is a daunting figure for a team currently over $3 million. Philadelphia’s decision not to tag Hargrave as he is the top defensive lineman in the market is also an interesting decision. But an $18 million cap hit is a good deal for a team looking to upgrade some areas in hopes of a rematch with Lombardi for his trophy while retaining plenty of free agency.
Approach: Tags long ago became a mechanism for keeping good players instead of great players. I understand why the Eagles and Chiefs decided against tagging the aforementioned player. They simply use their resources better.
(Photo: Sarah Steer/Getty Images)