Welcome to the St. Patrick's Day edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
For me, the fact that it's St. Patrick's Day means that it's the four-year anniversary of the time Rob Gronkowski showed up at my Bachelor Party dressed as a leprechaun (This actually happened. You can see a picture here and read the story here). While celebrating St. Patrick's Day back in 2018, Gronk let it slip that he would be returning to the Patriots, which I'm only mentioning now, because making big announcements in unusual places around March 17 seems to be Gronk's thing.
This year, he showed up at a barber shop in Tampa and while he was there, he let everyone know that he would probably be re-signing with the Buccaneers. Unfortunately, he was not dressed as a leprechaun this year.
One person who didn't show up at a barber shop yesterday to make an announcement about his future was Deshaun Watson. The quarterback is almost certainly going to be traded today in a deal that might go down before you even get a chance to read this newsletter. For today, we'll be looking at the latest trade speculation involving Watson, plus, we'll be covering our winners and losers from Day 1 of free agency.
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. Alright, let's get to the rundown.
1. Today's show: Discussing different QB possibilities
NFL free agency officially kicked off at 4 p.m. ET, and although we don't usually break out champagne for our podcast, we broke out some drinks for Thursday's show to celebrate the new league year, which is way more exciting than celebrating the actual new year. For today's show, our original plan was to talk about every free agent signing possible, but instead, Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson and I spent half the podcast trying to figure out how the NFL's game of quarterback musical chairs is going to end.
Not only is Deshaun Watson going to be on a new team next year, but there's a good chance Baker Mayfield, Jimmy Garoppolo and possibly even Matt Ryan could be on the move.
Baker Mayfield in Seattle? One of us liked the idea of that.
Matt Ryan in Indy? One of us feels like that would give the Colts their best shot at winning a Super Bowl, but the only way Ryan is going to end up in Indy is if the Falcons trade for Deshaun Waston.
We also all took a guess at where Deshaun Watson would end up and there's a chance we might all whiff because no one guessed the Saints.
To listen to today's episode -- and to subscribe to the podcast -- be sure to click here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Deshaun Watson sweepstakes down to three teams
If you're wondering what's going on with Deshaun Watson right now, it's pretty simple from an NFL perspective: He's definitely going to get traded and that deal is almost certainly going to go down today.
Here's the latest on the Watson situation:
- Watson will not be headed to Cleveland. The Browns have been informed that they're out of the running for Watson, according to NFL.com. This is now going to create an extremely awkward situation between the Browns and Baker Mayfield, who aren't on the best of terms.
- There appear to be two frontrunners for Watson's services. The two finalists in the Watson sweepstakes appear to be the Falcons and Saints, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones. This doesn't mean the Panthers are out of it; it just means those two spots are Watson's preferred locations right now.
- Saints met with Watson for a second time. The Saints have put the full-court press on Watson. Not only did they meet with him earlier this week, but they became the first (and only) team to meet with him for a second time. The two sides met again Wednesday night, according to Saints beat writer Nick Underhill. The Saints are clearly willing to do whatever it takes to land Watson.
- Saints clearing cap space for Watson's potential arrival. If the Saints want to trade for Watson, they're going to have to be able to absorb his $35 million salary for 2022, which means they need a lot of cap room. To make that happen, the Saints restructured the contracts of QB Taysom Hill, CB Bradley Roby, LB DeMario Davis and S Malcolm Jenkins, according to ESPN.com. With the restructured deals in place, the Saints now have $29.9 million. (They could also pick up more space if they end up trading a player in the Watson deal, as that player's contract would come off the Saints' books.)
- Matt Ryan trade could be complicating things for Falcons. Like the Saints, the Falcons also need to clear cap space if they want to acquire Watson, and the biggest hinderance to that right now is Matt Ryan, who's currently on the books for a $48.67 million cap hit. If the Falcons pull off a trade for Watson, don't be surprised if we see a Ryan deal go down on the same day. If the Texans want him, he could end up in Houston, but if they're not interested, then the Falcons will quickly look to send him somewhere else. Ryan has a $7.5 million roster bonus that becomes guaranteed tomorrow (March 18), and you'd have to think the Falcons don't want to pay that if they have Watson on their roster. Basically, if Watson gets traded to Atlanta and the Falcons QB isn't involved in the deal, look for a trade involving Ryan to go down shortly afterward.
As for the Panthers, they're not out of the running, but owner David Tepper is going to have to do something major to get Watson to change his mind. Also, let's not rule out the possibility of a mystery team. Although that's not likely in this situation, we've seen crazier things happen before in the NFL, so I thought I should mention it just in case.
3. Winners and losers after Day 1 of free agency
As everyone knows, the entire point of free agency for each NFL team is to try and impress Jordan Danjani, who is one of the writers in charge of deciding winners and losers each day.
Here are three of Jordan's winners and three of his losers after Day 1 of free agency:
- Raiders: "The Raiders were probably the big winner from Wednesday after they agreed to terms with one of the best available pass-rushers, giving former Arizona Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $51 million. They also made a trade with the Colts, sending Yannick Ngakoue to Indy in exchange for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin."
- Von Miller: "Von Miller was considered by many to be the top defensive free agent to hit the market this offseason, and he got paid like one. On Wednesday, the former Super Bowl MVP agreed to terms with the Buffalo Bills on a monster six-year deal worth $120 million that includes $51.345 million guaranteed."
- Commanders: "This is not a story that grabbed major headlines, but the Commanders had one of the weirder things happen with them in free agency. The Bills had agreed to terms with Washington running back J.D. McKissic on a two-year, $7 million deal, but McKissic ended up spurning the Bills so he could return to Washington." I'm guessing he's going to regret that.
- Baker Mayfield: "The Cleveland Browns are one of the four teams who are openly trying to make a trade for Deshaun Watson, which means Baker Mayfield could be on the way out. Even if the Browns don't land Watson, it's still very possible that they move on from Mayfield."
- Patriots: "It's certainly not time to panic in New England, but it appears not much is going on for the Patriots while they are leaking oil. Look at who they have lost or traded away thus far: cornerback J.C. Jackson, center Ted Karras, offensive guard Shaq Mason, running back Brandon Bolden and fullback Jakob Johnson. All the Pats have added are Mack Wilson in the Chase Winovich trade and cornerback Terrance Mitchell."
- Carson Wentz's first picture with the Commanders (You can see the picture by clicking here): The lesson here is to never take an NFL team photo in a letterman jacket. Wentz looks like he's posing for a senior photo at a high school that he never wanted to attend.
For a more in-depth explanation on each of those choices, be sure to check out Jordan's full story by clicking here.
4. Trades, cuts and signings: Biggest moves over the past 24 hours
During free agency, it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happens, but the good news for you is that you don't have to because CBS pays me to do it for you. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the biggest moves that have gone down around the league over the past 24 hours.
- Bills land Von Miller. Watching Patrick Mahomes lead a scoring drive in just 13 seconds must have really irked Sean McDermott, because it seems like his plan going into 2022 is to destroy Mahomes, which is likely a big reason why the Bills have added Miller. Miller has signed a six-year deal worth $120 million that includes $51.345 million guaranteed. The Bills also made a major move at tight end when they signed O.J. Howard.
- Chandler Jones signs with Raiders. With so many good quarterbacks in the AFC West, you need a good pass-rush to compete and the Raiders now have one of the best ones in the division after signing Jones to a three-year, $51 million deal. The signing of Jones means the Raiders will now be able to pair him with Maxx Crosby.
- Colts make a trade for Yannick Ngakoue. The Raiders also made another big move Wednesday when they traded Ngakoue to Indianapolis. This is a big move for the Colts, who will be landing some much needed talent at defensive end. In this player-for-player trade, the Raiders will be getting cornerback Rock Ya-Sin from Indy.
- Chris Godwin lands huge deal from Buccaneers. The Buccaneers needed some salary cap space and they picked some up Wednesday when they signed Godwin to a three-year deal worth a total of $60 million. As a franchise tag player, Godwin's one-year cap hit was set to be $19.2 million in 2022, but under the new deal, his hit will now be just $5 million. (This means the Bucs will face bigger cap hits down the road, but for 2022, they just cleared up more than $14 million in cap space with this deal.)
- Jaguars keep spending big. The Jags had spent nearly $250 million going into the opening of free agency and they added to that total Wednesday by striking a deal with Darious Williams. The former Rams corner is getting a three-year, $30 million deal from Jacksonville that includes $18 million in guaranteed.
- Steelers sign Myles Jack. With the Jaguars spending so much money, they needed to clear some cap space this week and they did that my cutting ties with Myles Jack. The Jaguars' loss was Pittsburgh's gain, though, because the Steelers scooped up the linebacker just hours after he was released. Jack is reportedly getting a two-year, $16 million deal in Pittsburgh.
- Titans cut Julio Jones. In the most surprising cut of the day, the Titans have decided to part ways with Julio Jones. The Titans gave up two draft picks -- including a second-rounder -- to land Jones in June, but the experiment just didn't work out. The injury-prone Jones was scheduled to make a lot of money in 2022 and he wasn't producing, which is pretty much a recipe for losing your job in the NFL.
If you're looking for more signings, we're keeping tabs of every deal that's going down in free agency and you can check that out by clicking here.
5. Top 10 free agents left on the market
We're less than 24 hours into the official start of free agency, and we've already seen 12 of the top 15 available players get signed. But if your team forgot that free agency is happening and hasn't signed anyone yet, I have some good news for you: There are plenty of good players who are still available.
The biggest prize left on the market is definitely Terron Armstead, who will be an instant upgrade at left tackle for pretty much any team in the NFL. With that in mind, let's check out the 10 highest-ranked players from Prisco's top 100 list who are still available (they're listed with the team they played for last season):
1. OT Terron Armstead (Saints)
2. WR Allen Robinson (Bears)
3. CB Stephon Gilmore (Panthers)
4. LB Bobby Wagner (Seahawks)
5. FS Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs)
6. OT Trent Brown (Patriots)
7. DL Akiem Hicks (Bears)
8. EDGE Jadeveon Clowney (Browns)
9. OL Duane Brown (Seahawks)
10. TE Rob Gronkowski (Buccaneers)
Of course, as I mentioned above, we might soon have to scratch Gronk off that list because he told a barber in Tampa that he's probably going to sign with the Buccaneers and that he hadn't done it yet because he wanted to make Tom Brady sweat it out.
Day 2 of free agency will be rolling along today and since it won't be easy to keep track of every signing, here's another reminder that we've put together a free agent tracker so that you can stay up to date on what has happened so far. If you'd like to check out the tracker, just click here. We also have a live blog that will cover signings AND trades as they happen and you can check that out by clicking here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are officially leaving Fox
It's been a wild 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.
- Joe Buck and Troy Aikman both land at ESPN. Fox is going to be looking for a new No. 1 announcing team after Buck and Aikman were both hired by ESPN to call "Monday Night Football." The all-sports network made the official announcement of the hiring Wednesday. You can read more about their hiring by clicking here.
- Titans have proposed a new overtime rule that would come with a small twist. When the NFL league meetings kick off at the end of March, there will be two overtime proposals on the table. The first proposal, which was submitted by the Eagles and Colts, would call for both teams to get one possession no matter what happens on the first possession. However, the Titans want to add a twist to the current OT format: If a team that gets the ball first scores a TD on its opening possession, it would only win the game if it also converts a two-pointer. If a team scores a TD and kicks an extra point (or misses the two-point conversion), then the other team gets a chance to score. I actually kind of like the idea, but I don't think the NFL is going to approve it.
- Eagles GM lands three-year extension. Howie Roseman won't be leaving Philadelphia any time soon and that's because he's landed a three-year extension that will keep him with the team thru the 2025 season, according to PhillyVoice.com.
- Vikings shopping Danielle Hunter. Minnesota's star pass-rusher could soon be on the move. The Vikings need to cut some salary cap space and one way to do that would be to deal away Hunter, who has a $25.83 million cap number for 2022. If he's still on the roster this Sunday, Hunter will be owed an $18 million roster bonus, so if he's going to be dealt, it would almost certainly happen before then.
- Compensatory picks handed out. The NFL handed out its bonus draft picks for 2022 and there were five big winners: the Chargers, Rams, Cardinals, Lions and 49ers. The two Los Angeles teams were both awarded four picks while the other three teams were awarded three picks. If you want to check out every team that was awarded a pick, then be sure to click here.
- Colin Kaepernick called the Seahawks. Pete Carroll revealed Wednesday that Kaepernick recently reached out to his team about possibly getting a workout. The Seahawks coach said that Kaepernick deserves a "second shot," but he didn't make any promises to sign the civil rights activist. The comments came just two days after Kaepernick got a rave review from Tyler Lockett following a throwing session between the QB and the Seahawks receiver.