I'm starting to think I'm never going to be able to take a day off ever again. I leave for one day and Cody Benjamin uses the newsletter to publish 2,000 words of Andy Dalton SLANDER.
In case you missed it, Cody published a list of the worst free agent signings of 2021 and the Bears' decision to add Dalton was at the top. As the president of the Andy Dalton fan club, I must point out that Dalton to Chicago wasn't the worst signing. The Raiders spent $14.5 million on a RUNNING BACK (Kenyan Drake) even though they already have Josh Jacobs. The Patriots gave $16 million to NELSON AGHOLOR. They might have well just set that money on fire.
As for Dalton, the Bears are only paying him $10 million, which is a steal for a starting quarterback and we know he's the starting quarterback because the Bears told us on Wednesday night, which we'll be covering in today's newsletter.
Alright, my Dalton rant is over, let's get to the rundown. As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link.
1. Today's show: NFL free agency takeaways
There's nothing we love talking about more on the podcast than free agency, so I'm guessing you can figure out what we talked about on Thursday's show. The answer to that question is of course free agency, but we added a slightly different twist this time around. Instead of listing our winners and losers or handing out grades, Will Brinson and Jonathan Jones decided to give their overall takeaways on free agency.
Most of the conversation centered around Tom Brady's old team (New England) and Brady's new team (Tampa Bay). Who had the better free agency out of those two teams? Jones and Brinson spent some serious time breaking down that question. On one hand, you had the Buccaneers, who spent free agency trying to keep their 2020 roster intact. On the other hand, you had the Patriots, who gave a contract to any free agent who wanted one.
Brinson and Jones also discussed the Giants' spending spree and the lack of quarterback movement that we were all told was going to happen before free agency started. The two also touched on the latest allegations against Deshaun Watson and what that could mean for any potential trade.
To listen to today's episode -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. Bears name their starting QB
If you're a Bears fan and you were hoping that Chicago would hold a quarterback competition this year, I have some bad news for you: There's not going to be a competition and that's because it appears that Andy Dalton has already won the job.
The Bears official Twitter account created a firestorm on Wednesday night when it sent out a tweet that basically announced Dalton as the starter. The tweet, which you can see by clicking here, only consisted of three characters: It said "QB1" and included a picture of Dalton.
Of course, just because Dalton was named QB1 doesn't necessarily mean he'll be QB1 when the season starts. A lot could happen between now and then, and let's not forget, the Bears are still trying to make a Russell Wilson trade happen. Also, the Bills famously sent out a tweet naming Nathan Peterman as their QB1 in 2018 and let's just say that one didn't work out so well
If you'd like to spend the rest of the day in a state of laughter, I highly suggest checking out the tweet and reading all the replies. If you do that, you'll notice one big them: Bears fans are not a happy that Andy Dalton is their quarterback.
As the world's No. 1 Dalton apologist, I actually think he can work in Chicago. Dalton has already proven he can win with a strong defense and offensive weapons around him and Chicago has both.
Also here are two fun facts:
- Dalton has more 4,000-yard passing seasons than any quarterback in Bears history. Dalton has thrown for more than 4,000 yards a total of two times in his career. As for the Bears, they've never had a 4,000-yard passer and they've existed since 1920. Dalton has not existed since 1920.
- Dalton has more wins than every Bears quarterback combined over the past 10 years. Since being drafted by the Bengals in 2011, Dalton has won 74 games. As for the Bears, all of their quarterbacks combined have only won 73 games since 2011.
Basically, Dalton hasn't even taken a snap and he already might be one of the five best quarterbacks to ever play for the Bears.
3. Top 10 free agents left on the market
Although it feels like we've reached a slow point in free agency, don't be surprised if things pick up over the next few days and that's because there are still plenty of good players on the market. Over the past 48 hours alone, we've seen two of the top 55 free agents -- Kevin King, T.Y. Hilton -- land new deals. King re-signed with the Packers while Hilton re-signed with the Colts.
Both of those players were on our list of "Top 10 best available players," which means we had to update that list for today. With that in mind, let's check out the 10 highest-ranked players from Pete Prisco's top 100 list who are still available (they're listed with the team they played for last season):
1. Melvin Ingram (Chargers)
2. Alejandro Villanueva (Steelers)
3. Jadeveon Clowney (Titans)
4. Eric Wilson (Vikings)
5. Sammy Watkins (Chiefs)
6. Austin Reiter (Chiefs)
7. Russell Okung (Panthers)
8. Richard Sherman (49ers)
9. Aldon Smith (Cowboys)
10. Brian Poole (Jets)
Remember, by the time you read this newsletter, there's a very real chance that someone on this list could have already signed and if that happens, you can find out where they signed by clicking here and checking out our free agent tracker.
4. Agent's take: 10 observations from free agency
If there's one person at CBSSports.com who can offer a unique perspective on free agency, it's definitely Joel Corry, who just happens to be a former NFL agent. As someone who negotiated hundreds of contracts during his time as an agent, Corry sees things through a slightly different lens, and because of that, I thought now would be a good time to share his contract-related thoughts and observations from free agency.
Here are his top five:
1. Belichick means business. "Typically, the Patriots rarely make a splash in the first wave of free agency. Armed with an abundance of salary cap space, the Patriots were uncharacteristically aggressive. New England signed 12 players who weren't with the team in 2020 to contracts totaling $242.245 million with $139.8 million of overall guarantees. Performance bonuses make these deals worth as much as $262.445 million."
2. The void is in vogue. "Putting a void or dummy year in an NFL contract isn't a new concept. However, teams are now liberally using void and dummy years in order to prorate a signing bonus over more years to help combat the $15.7 million drop in the salary cap. Defensive end J.J. Watt's two-year, $28 million contract with the Cardinals -- that is worth a maximum of $31 million through salary escalators and incentives -- is a prime example. Since three contract years for 2023 through 2025 that automatically void on the last day of the 2022 league year were added, Watt's $12 million signing bonus is prorated for five years at $2.4 million annually, rather than $6 million in both 2021 and 2022."
3. The future is now in Tampa. "The Buccaneers have yet to lose any key free agents. So how did they keep everyone? The Buccaneers abandoned their preferred "pay as you go" contract structure where a player's cash and salary cap numbers are the same in each contract year because there isn't a signing bonus that would be prorated over the life of the contract (for a maximum of five years). Not only did David's deal include a fully guaranteed roster bonus that's prorated just like a signing bonus, three dummy/voiding years were added to lower his 2021 cap number."
4. It starts in the trenches. Corry points out that it was a big year for offensive linemen as Joe Thuney (guard), Corey Linsley (center) and Trent Williams (tackle) now hold the honor for largest contract ever signed at their position.
5. Soft wide receiver market. "Pass catchers were in for a rude awakening on the open market. A deep wide receiver draft class has been a contributing factor. Initially, only Corey Davis quickly signed a lucrative multiyear contract. The Jets gave Davis a three-year, $37.5 million deal with $27 million fully guaranteed." I think what Corry is trying to say here is that the Jets overpaid, which for some reason, isn't shocking at all.
To check out the rest of Corry's contractual observations from free agency -- he has a total of 10 -- be sure to click here.
5. Dan Snyder just spent $875 million to buy full control of the Washington Football Team
Although Dan Snyder has owned the Washington Football Team since 1999, he doesn't actually own the entire team. As of this week, he only owned 40.59% of the team, but that's going to soon be changing.
Snyder has been in a legal battle with his minority owners -- Fred Smith, Robert Rothman and Dwight Schar --over multiple issues for nearly a year and it appears he's going to try to make those problems go away by purchasing their shares of the team (Smith is the father of Falcons coach Arthur Smith).
According to the New York Times, Snyder is going to spend $875 million to purchase the 40.5% in shares that the other three men own (To show you how much these guys don't get along, a company in California tried to buy the shares for $900 million in November, but Snyder blocked the move, costing the other three a total of $25 million). To make the purchase happen, Snyder has to get approved by the NFL for a $450 million debt waiver and that approval could come as soon as next week when the league's 32 owners vote on the issue at their annual meeting (The vote is expected to pass).
Once the debt-waiver is approved, Snyder's family will own 100% of the team with Snyder owning 81.09%, his mom owning 12.4% and his sister owning 6.5%. When that happens, I'm guessing he won't have to worry about being sued by his minority owners.
In other Washington news, it's starting to look like Football Team might stick as the team's permanent name. During an interview with ESPN this week, team president Jason Wright said that fans seem to like the name.
"There are a set of folks that have warmed to the Washington Football Team," Wright said. "Some of the things that are emerging from that are the Washington Football Team has something that ties deeply to our history."
No matter what happens, the team is hoping to announce the new name before the end of the 2021 season. So far, the team "has received 15,000 submissions" for a new name from 60 different countries. I still vote for Red Pandas.
6. Rapid-fire roundup
This has been a busy week in the NFL and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of it all, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Saints land Nick Vannett. I didn't think the Saints had any salary cap space left, but apparently they do, because they were able to sign Vannett aka Baby Gronk to a three-year deal.
- Bears sign Super Bowl hero. Damien Williams came up huge for the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, and now, he'll be taking his talents to Chicago, where he'll be hoping to win another Lombardi Trophy. Williams, who opted out of the 2020 season, is signing a one-year deal.
- Jets make two big moves. The New York teams have been doing their best to make a splash in free agency. The Jets continued that trend on Wednesday by adding former 49ers running back Tevin Coleman and former Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry.
- Minshew might be on his way out of Jacksonville. The Jaguars added another quarterback on Wednesday (C.J. Beathard), which means time is likely running out for Gardner Minshew. If the Jags draft Trevor Lawrence, it's highly unlikely they'd keep Beathard and Minshew.
- James White staying in New England. After spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Patriots, White is going to be sticking around for at least one more year after signing a new deal on Wednesday that will pay him $2.5 million in 2021.
7. The Kicker: Patriots player hailed as hero
Patriots offensive lineman Justin Herron was honored by a police department in Arizona on Wednesday for the role he played in stopping a potential sexual assault. Herron was at a park in Tempe on March 20 when a man was seen trying to take advantage of a 71-year-old woman.
Herron knew he had to do something after he heard some screaming in the park where he was working out.
"You see it in movies and TV all the time, but you never think it's going to happen in real life until it does," Herron said, via 12news.com. "At that moment, I was in shock. It was 11 a.m., middle of the day, in a very open field and the fact that it happened there at that time was just very shocking. I wish I could tell you what I was thinking, but I could just tell someone needed help. All I could do was rush myself over there to make sure I could help the victim and I could comfort her and be the best person I can be."
Herron was one of two men who intervened. The 6-foot-5 and 305-pound offensive lineman ended up holding the suspect down until police arrived.
"I'm a football player, so I'm kind of big. I try not to be too aggressive with people knowing I could potentially hurt somebody," Herron said. "I do have a loud voice. I yelled, told him to get off of her and then yanked him off and I told him to sit down and I told him to wait until the cops come."
I think the moral of the story here is that we need more Justin Herrons in the world.