Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Pick Six newsletter.
It's a big day here and that's mostly because the Aaron Rodgers drama is finally over! Well, the football drama is finally over, I can't speak for the other parts of his life. For the second straight year, the Packers quarterback hinted that he might be ready to leave Green Bay and for the second straight year, he didn't end up leaving Green Bay.
We'll be going over the Rodgers' news in today's newsletter plus taking a look at the details of Calvin Ridley's suspension. Oh, and the franchise tag deadline is also today, so we'll probably also talk about that.
Alright, let's get to the rundown.
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1. Today's show: First post-combine mock draft
Ryan Wilson is finally back at home after spending the past week at the NFL Combine and as soon as he got home, there was no down time for him, because we made him jump on the Pick Six Podcast to talk about his first post-combine mock draft.
During the show, Wilson and Will Brinson talked about the risers and fallers from the combine through the lens of Wilson's latest mock draft. One player who saw their stock skyrocket was Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis. Last week, Davis wasn't a first-rounder in Wilson's mock draft, but after an impressive combine that included a 4.78 40-yard dash, Wilson now has Davis going 13th overall to the Cleveland Browns.
One other player who saw their stock shoot up was Liberty QB Malik Willis. Wilson has the quarterback going in the top-10 this week.
One player who saw his stock slightly fall was Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton. In last week's mock draft, Wilson had him going third overall, but now, Wilson has him going sixth overall.
Here's a look at the top-10 picks in Wilson's mock draft:
1. Jaguars: OL Ikem Ekwonu (North Carolina State)
2. Lions: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan)
3. Texans: OL Evan Neal (Alabama)
4. Jets: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
5. Giants: OL Charles Cross (Mississippi State)
6. Panthers: S Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame)
7. Giants: EDGE Jermaine Johnson II (Florida State)
8. Falcons: QB Malik Willis (Liberty)
9. Broncos: CB Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati)
10. Jets: LB Devin Lloyd (Utah)
Overall, Wilson has a total of three quarterbacks going in the first-round and you can check out where he has them going by clicking here to see his entire mock draft.
2. Aaron Rodgers lands record-setting contract
The four-time NFL MVP said that he'd make a decision about his future before the franchise tag deadline hit, and he managed to do it with just hours to spare.
Rodgers has decided to return to Green Bay for an 18th season, and in return, the Packers have decided to reward him with the largest contract in NFL history based on average annual salary.
Let's take a look at the quarterback's new contract and what it means for the Packers:
- The Packers are expected to give Rodgers a four-year deal worth a total of $200 million. According to NFL.com, that total includes $153 million in guaranteed money. With an average annual salary of $50 million per year, Rodgers will now become the highest-paid player in NFL history. The previous title belonged to Patrick Mahomes, who is making $45 million per year under his current 10-year deal with the Chiefs.
- The new contract means that Rodgers will almost certainly be finishing his career in Green Bay. If the four-year deal is truly a four-year deal -- and doesn't include any voidable years -- then it will keep Rodgers with the Packers until he's 42. Basically, this means that the Packers shouldn't have to deal with any offseason drama involving Rodgers going forward since he'll now be under contract.
- The new deal will create some serious salary cap space. Before the contract was agreed to, Rodgers had a cap hit of nearly $47 million in 2022. That cap hit has now been reduced because the Packers can push some of it into future years. Although it's not clear how much lower his cap hit will be in 2022, there's enough room that the Packers are reportedly expected to tag Davante Adams.
- The one interesting thing about the contract is that it means the Packers are basically giving up on Jordan Love. His rookie deal only runs through the 2023 season and there's almost no way the Packers will be picking up his fifth-year option for the 2024 season because Rodgers will presumably still be the team's starting QB. Basically, the new deal for Rodgers means that Love is now expendable. It won't be surprising if he gets traded.
It's worth noting that Rodgers posted on social media that while he will be back with the Packers, the reported terms of his deal are inaccurate.
Hey everyone, just wanted to clear some things up; YES I will be playing with the @packers next year, however, reports about me signing a contract are inaccurate, as are the supposed terms of the contract I “signed”. I’m very excited to be back 💪🏼 #year18❤️— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) March 8, 2022
The crazy thing about all of this is that if the Packers had never drafted Love, they likely would have never been in this situation with Rodgers. The four-time MVP was clearly unhappy after the team drafted his replacement and he definitely held that against the front office last offseason. In the end, the Packers had to pay Rodgers a boatload of money to appease him for that pick and that pick is now likely going to waste.
If the Packers end up getting at least one Super Bowl win out of all this, then it will have been worth it. But if they don't, they basically mortgaged their future and made Rodgers mad about the Love pick for nothing.
3. Franchise tag deadline is today
The franchise tag window has now been open for two weeks, but it will be closing at 4 p.m. ET today, which means any team hoping to tag a player only has a few hours left to make that decision.
If a team uses a tag on a player, the two sides will have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract. If a long-term deal can't be hammered out, then the player will go into the 2022 season on a one-year deal that pays them at the franchise tag number for their position.
Here's a look at the players who have been tagged so far, along with their one-year franchise tag salary for 2022:
- Chiefs: OT Orlando Brown ($16.66 million)
- Bengals: S Jessie Bates III ($12.91 million)
- Browns: TE David Njoku ($10.93 million)
- Dolphins: TE Mike Gesicki ($10.93 million)
- Cowboys: TE Dalton Schultz ($10.93 million)
There have been a lot of tight ends tagged so far and that's likely because of the low price of tagging a tight end. You could argue that someone like Gesicki is a bargain at $10.93 million and Gesicki might also argue that, because there's a chance we could see him file a grievance. Of the 784 snaps Gesicki played for the Dolphins last season, only 140 of them came when he lined up as a true tight end. Gesicki could argue that he deserves to be tagged as a receiver, which would entitle him to a 2022 salary of $18.42 million.
As we get closer to 4 p.m. ET, there should be a few more tags handed out. Here's a look at players who are likely going to get tagged before the deadline:
- Packers: Davante Adams ($18.42 million) - Expected to happen, according to NFL.com.
- Chargers: Mike Williams ($18.42 million)
- Buccaneers: Chris Godwin ($18.42 million)
If you want to know who will end up getting tagged, then make sure to click here and bookmark our franchise tag tracker, which will list every player that gets tagged when the deadline hits at 4 p.m. ET.
4. Details on Calvin Ridley's gambling suspension
It's not often that we see an NFL player get suspended for gambling, but that's exactly what happened Monday when the league hit Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley with an indefinite suspension that will last at least one year.
- Ridley made three bets in Florida for a total of $1,500. According to CBSSports.com's Jonathan Jones, Ridley made three mobile bets on his cell phone through the Hard Rock sportsbook app in Florida. Ridley made the three bets between Nov. 23 and 28, which is a time period where he was away from the team. The receiver left the Falcons on Halloween to focus on his mental health. Ridley admitted on Twitter that his three bets were for a total of $1,500.
- At least one of his bets involved the Falcons. Of the three bets that Ridley made, all of them were parlays and at least one of those parlays involved the Falcons. Ridley bet on the Falcons to win and then Atlanta went on to beat Jacksonville that week. However, we don't know if he won any of his parlays. One bet was a three-team parlay, one bet was a five-team parlay and his final bet was an 8-team parlay.
- How he got caught. Ridley's bets got flagged because he made them from his own mobile device. The bets were flagged by the Genius Sports Group, which was hired by the league to monitor any NFL bets possibly being made by players.
- Falcons knew the suspension was coming. The Falcons were made aware of the investigation on Feb. 9 and after that happened, they shut down all trade talks involving Ridley, according to ESPN.com. Ridley was being eyed by multiple teams, but since the Falcons knew a suspension was likely coming, they decided not to engage in any trade chatter.
- Ridley's contract will toll for one year. Ridley was scheduled to make $11.1 million in 2022 and although he's suspended for the season, he won't necessarily lose out on that money. His contract will toll, which means the final year of his deal will now be 2023 instead of 2022. He'll get paid zero dollars from the Falcons for the upcoming season, but could get paid his $11.1 million salary for the final year of his deal if the Falcons keep him around.
- Ridley's suspension could last more than a year. The NFL announced that Ridley's suspension will last AT LEAST one season, which means it could last longer. The receiver is eligible to apply for reinstatement on Feb. 15, 2023, and at that point, it will be up to the commissioner whether to allow him to return. Ridley also has until March 10 to appeal the suspension.
Ridley's suspension makes him just the fifth player in NFL history who has ever been suspended for gambling. He joins Alex Karras (1963), Paul Hornung (1963), Art Schlichter (1983) and Josh Shaw (2019).
5. NFC North team needs: Three of four teams could use some receiver help
For the past two weeks, we've been covering the offseason needs for each team by going through each division. Today we're going to finish up that series by going over the NFC North. I saved the NFC North for last because I thought Aaron Rodgers would have made a decision by now, and it turned out I was right.
Anyway, Jordan Dajani went through every team in the division and made a list of their biggest needs to fill this offseason.
Top needs (in no particular order): WR, LB, DL
Dajani's take: Even if the Packers keep Davante Adams, they still should add another receiver. The Packers likely won't chase the most notable receivers in this free agency class, but they will want to acquire a starter. Keep an eye on Will Fuller, who is a deep threat the Packers were reportedly interested in in the past.
Top needs: CB, EDGE, OG
Dajani's take: The real areas of need for the Vikings reside on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive line is a question mark, as Everson Griffen is not only 34-years-old and a free agent, but also dealing with some personal issues. ...Adding a pass-rusher would be a welcomed move, but the cornerback position needs a makeover. The veteran Patrick Peterson is now a free agent and so is Mackensie Alexander, who had a poor campaign in 2021.
Top needs: WR, CB, OG
Dajani's take: After a couple years of uncertainty, it seems like star wide receiver Allen Robinson will be taking his talents elsewhere. That would leave a big hole that needs to be filled, and it becomes even more important when you're trying to expedite the development of a young signal-caller. Even if Robinson re-signs, Chicago still must add another legitimate weapon, as virtually the entire receiving corps is looking for new deals. Marquise Goodwin, Jakeem Grant and Damiere Byrd are all free agents.
Top needs: S, WR, LB
Dajani's take: The Lions could really stand to upgrade almost everywhere this offseason.
If you want to see the full explanation for each team's needs, then be sure to click here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Patriots release Kyle Van Noy
It's been a busy 24 hours in the NFL, and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Patriots release Kyle Van Noy. The Patriots needed to free up some salary cap space so the team surprisingly decided to release Kyle Van Noy. The move will create $4.1 in cap space for the cash-strapped Patriots, who will now have about $13 million in cap space. The 31-year-old has spent four and a half of his eight career seasons in New England.
- Richard Sherman accepts plea deal. The Buccaneers corner, who was arrested in July, has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges stemming from the incident. Sherman pleaded guilty to negligent driving in the first degree and criminal trespass in the second degree and as part of the plea, he won't have to do any jail time. For more details on the plea, be sure to click here.
- Colts tight end retires. Jack Doyle surprisingly announced his retirement on Monday. The Colts tight end spent his entire nine-year career in Indianapolis after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Doyle, who was voted to two Pro Bowls, will finish his career with 295 catches for 2,729 yards and 24 touchdowns.
- Jets owner interested in buying Chelsea. The Premiere League team is being put up for sale by Russian owner Roman Abramovich and it appears Woody Johnson is interested in purchasing the team, according to ESPN.com. Johnson lived in London for several years as a U.S. Ambassador, so he's familiar with the team and area. Abramovich is believed to be seeking $3.93 billion for the team, so it won't come cheap for Johnson.
- Von Miller teases return to Denver. After spending his entire career in Denver, Miller finally left in 2021 after the Broncos traded him to the Rams. However, Miller is now a free agent and on Monday, he tweeted out "I kinda want that old thing back.. 5280." That number just happens to be the elevation for Denver, and it could signal that he's thinking about a return.