Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
At some point this offseason, we're going to get a day where there's not a crazy trade in the NFL, but yesterday was NOT that day. In a move that would have surprised me if I wasn't so numb to being surprised due to all the shocking trades being made in the NFL this year, the Colts landed Matt Ryan in a trade with the Falcons.
We'll be going into details on the trade in today's newsletter, plus we'll be taking a look at several other QB moves that went down around the NFL on Monday.
Oh, and I haven't forgotten about free agency. That definitely isn't over yet and we're still keeping track of everything that happens. If you also want to keep track, be sure to click here to check out our free agent tracker that will be updated any time one of the top 100 free agents signs a deal. There are 31 players on the list who are still available, including Odell Beckham Jr., Stephon Gilmore and Bobby Wagner.
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: Post free agency mock draft
For today's podcast, Ryan Wilson joined the show to unveil his first post free agency mock draft.
The one big thing about free agency is that it changes the needs for most teams heading into the NFL Draft. For instance, at the start of the offseason, one of the Jaguars' biggest needs going into the draft was on the offensive line. However, after signing Brandon Scherff and giving Cam Robinson the franchise tag, the Jaguars will now have the luxury to pass on an offensive lineman with the first overall pick if they feel like they have a bigger need somewhere else.
Last week, Wilson had the Jags taking an offensive lineman with the top pick, but this week, he went a different route. Wilson also had to come up with a pick for the Seahawks, who now have the No. 9 overall selection after acquiring it from the Broncos in the Russell Wilson trade.
With that in mind, here's a look at the top-10 picks in Wilson's latest mock:
1. Jaguars: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan)
2. Lions: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
3. Texans: OL Ikem Ekwonu (North Carolina State)
4. Jets: CB Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati)
5. Giants: OL Evan Neal (Alabama)
6. Panthers: OL Charles Cross (Mississippi State)
7. Giants: DL Travon Walker (Georgia)
8. Falcons: S Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame)
9. Seahawks: QB Malik Willis (Liberty)
10. Jets: LB Devin Lloyd (Utah)
Wilson's latest mock is actually his first TWO-ROUND mock draft of the year, and if you want to check out how he has everything playing out through the first two rounds, then be sure to click here.
2. Matt Ryan surprisingly traded to Colts: Full trade details, plus grading deal for both teams
Just when you thought the AFC couldn't get any more loaded, it got more loaded and that happened Monday when the Colts pulled off a trade for Matt Ryan. The former NFL MVP will be joining a Colts team that missed the playoffs by just one game last season.
Here's a look at the trade details along with some ramifications of the deal:
- Colts receive: Matt Ryan
- Falcons receive: 2022 third-round pick
- Ryan gets modified contract from Colts. The former NFL MVP didn't get a new contract from the Colts, but he's probably not going to complain about the modification that the Colts made. After acquiring Ryan, the Colts decided to guarantee ALL the remaining money in his deal, according to NFL.com. Ryan has two years and $53.9 million left on his contract and thanks to the Colts, he'll be getting every cent of that.
- Colts star already recruiting Julio Jones to Indy. Darius Leonard wants to reunite Jones with his former quarterback and he made that clear on Twitter when he let the receiver know that he would be welcome with open arms in Indianapolis.
- Ryan will be fifth different starting QB in five years for Frank Reich. For the fifth-straight year, Reich is going to have a new starting QB. The streak started in 2018 when he had Andrew Luck during his first season as coach. Since then, his Week 1 starters have been Jacoby Brissett (2019), Philip Rivers (2020), Carson Wentz (2021), and now Ryan in 2022. Reich has had some solid success in Indianapolis despite having no continuity at quarterback.
- Falcons taking on biggest dead cap hit in NFL history. The only reason this trade happened is because the Falcons were willing to take on a $40.525 million dead cap hit with Ryan's contract, which is notable because it's the largest dead cap hit in NFL history. Coincidentally, the previous record also involved a team that traded a quarterback to the Colts. The Eagles took a $33.8 million bath last offseason when they traded Carson Wentz to Indy.
I'm not going to beat around the bush here, I'm just going to come out and say it: I love this trade for Indianapolis. Sure, I sound like I've been brainwashed by Colts owner Jim Irsay, but I honestly think this trade makes the Colts a Super Bowl contender. Going from Wentz to Ryan is like going from a station wagon to a Ferrari.
Ryan is perfect for Reich's offense, and the best part is that Ryan won't have to carry the team like he had to do in Atlanta over the past few years. The Colts have one of the best rushing attacks in football, which is something Ryan has never really had in his career. During his 14 seasons in Atlanta, the Falcons only had a top-five rushing attack twice (2008, 2016) and in both those seasons, Ryan led the Falcons to the playoffs. Not to mention, he also won NFL MVP and led Atlanta to the Super Bowl in 2016. With Jonathan Taylor on his side, it won't be surprising if Ryan has one of the best seasons of his career.
As for the Falcons, I'm not going to judge them too harshly here. This is a team that has basically decided to wave the white flag on the 2022 season so they can build for the future, and getting rid of Ryan's contract is going to help them do that.
Whenever there's a trade, there's a 100% chance we're going to hand out grades for that deal and that's exactly what we did in this situation.
The Ryan deal was graded by CBSSports.com's Cody Benjamin and here's what he came up with:
- Colts grade: B+. "The soon-to-be 37-year-old Ryan doesn't come close to solving their longstanding need for a long-term signal-caller. But with the Falcons absorbing his monster cap hits, he'll cost the Colts just $54 million over the next two years, which is almost exactly what Wentz was due through 2023 and Ryan is definitely an upgrade from Wentz."
- Falcons grade: C-. "All the Falcons could get for Ryan, even coming off a middling year, was a third-rounder? You can't convince us that they wouldn't have gotten somebody to offer a second, or maybe even a late first, had they actually shopped him at the start of the offseason rather than pretending to build a contender around him. Worst of all, his departure was no doubt fueled by the organization's failed pursuit of embattled Texans-turned-Browns QB Deshaun Watson, who got a red-carpet recruitment from the Falcons while facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault or misconduct, all while Ryan and his clean, sturdy resume of Falcons loyalty watched."
You can check out Cody's full explanation for each grade by clicking here.
3. NFL's QB carousel continues: Marcus Mariota lands with Falcons, Jameis Winston ends up with Saints
The Colts weren't the only ones making quarterback moves Monday. The Falcons and Saints also added quarterbacks and I'm lumping them together because they both had to settle for their Plan B after whiffing on Deshaun Watson.
Here's a look at the how the QB situation is shaping up around the league:
- Falcons add Marcus Mariota to replace Matt Ryan. Less than two hours after Ryan was traded, the Falcons had his replacement in the form of Mariota, who signed a two-year deal with the team. According to NFL.com, Mariota has technically landed a one-year, $6.75 million contract that has a team option for 2023. This basically means that that upcoming season will serve as a test run for Mariota. If the Falcons like what they see, then they can bring him back in 2023. The upside for Mariota is that he'll be working with someone he's familiar with. Falcons coach Arthur Smith was in Tennessee for each of Mariota's five seasons with the Titans (2015-2019).
- Saints sign Jameis Winston to two-year deal. After Watson snubbed New Orleans, Winston became the obvious fallback plan for the Saints. Winston has signed a two-year, $28 million deal that includes $21 million in guarantees. Although he tore his ACL in October, the expectation is that he'll be ready for training camp, according to ESPN.com. Winston went 5-2 as a starter last season with wins over both Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
- Every NFC South QB was taken with top-three pick except one. The four starting quarterbacks in the division are now Jameis Winston (first overall pick in 2015), Marcus Mariota (second overall pick in 2015), Sam Darnold (third overall pick in 2018) and Tom Brady (199th overall pick in 2000). Sometimes being a top-three pick isn't all it's cracked up to be.
- Baker Mayfield market shrinking by the second. The Browns QB was hoping to get traded to the Colts, but that's definitely not going to happen now, which leaves the Browns in a quandary. If they want to trade Mayfield, the most obvious options would be the Seahawks and the Panthers, but both those teams know that Cleveland wants to dump him, so there's no reason to offer any major compensation. There could also be a wild card team involved like the Lions, but at this point, Seattle seems to make the most sense.
- Jimmy Garoppolo trade market seems non-existent. The 49ers are in the same position as the Browns: They have a QB they want to get rid of, but no one to trade with. The biggest difference between the Browns and 49ers is that the Seahawks aren't really an option for San Francisco as a trade partner because there's almost no way the 49ers would make an inner-division trade involving a quarterback. One option for the 49ers could be keeping Garoppolo for the 2022 season, and that's a possibility that GM John Lynch mentioned at the combine. Basically, it doesn't sound like the 49ers plan on giving Garoppolo away for nothing.
After a wild month of quarterback trades, the roller coaster ride isn't quite over yet because both Garoppolo and Mayfield will almost certainly be dealt at some point this offseason.
4. Ranking all 32 teams by moves made in free agency
With the first wave of free agency mostly in the books, we decided to go through and rank how every team did.
The ranking was compiled by Cody Benjamin, and basically it works like this: If Cody thought a team did well in free agency, then he ranked them up high. If Cody thought a team somehow got worse in free agency, then they ended up at the bottom of his rankings.
With that in mind, here's the top five and bottom five teams in Cody's rankings:
- 1. Chargers. "Are they breaking the bank for Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson, who may or may not be long-term All-Pros? Maybe. But how can you blame them as they look to capitalize on Justin Herbert's star ascension."
- 2. Broncos. "When you add a top-10 franchise QB, you get a passing grade. No price is too steep if your roster is ready to compete and you complete the puzzle with a potential future Hall of Famer."
- 3. Buccaneers. "This ranking doesn't even include Tom Brady's return from 'retirement,' even though the QB's abrupt comeback is the fuel for their entire offseason. Not only did they manage to retain most of their own big-name free agents -- Chris Godwin, Ryan Jensen and Carlton Davis could still be building blocks for years to come -- but they also added a legitimate new No. 3 WR in Russell Gage."
- 4. Browns. "Strictly from a football perspective, they are worlds better, going from a middle-of-the-pack QB in Baker Mayfield to a likely top-10 one in Watson; and adding a bona fide No. 1 wideout in Cooper. Let's see if their polarizing gamble works out on and off the field."
- 5. Rams. "If/when Odell Beckham Jr. returns, they'll have one of the best and deepest receiving corps in the NFL -- great news for newly extended QB Matthew Stafford, who also keeps most of his championship line thanks to Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen returning."
And now for the bottom-five:
- 28. 49ers. "Charvarius Ward gives them a much-needed longer-term gamble in the secondary, but they've merely added a few role players while losing a proven starter along the offensive line."
- 29. Packers. "Getting Aaron Rodgers to recommit to Green Bay is a supremely underrated victory, but they're one of the few contenders that significantly lost talent rather than gained it, namely via the trade of star receiver Davante Adams."
- 30. Falcons. "Casey Hayward gives them a quality starting corner, and Cordarrelle Patterson belongs in Arthur Smith's offense. But they've gotten worse in the second year of their rebuild."
- 31. Bears. "Is this what building around Justin Fields looks like? Byron Pringle adds explosiveness, but they needed more proven starters -- or at least better high-upside bets -- for their transition."
- 32. Texans. "Another year, another spending spree for replaceable veteran starters. It's one thing to take care of your own; it's another to double down on that philosophy after going 4-13 and resetting the staff once again."
If you want to know where every other team ended up, then be sure to click here.
5. Ranking top-10 wildest NFL offseason transactions
I'm not going to say this has been the craziest offseason in NFL history, but it kind of feels like it's been the craziest offseason in NFL history. To help put it all into perspective, CBSSports.com's Jordan Dajani decided to rank the top-10 transactions from the offseason.
Let's check out his rankings.
1. Tom Brady retires only to come out of retirement.
2. Deshaun Watson traded to Browns.
3. Aaron Rodgers returns to Packers and gets record-setting contract
4. Davante Adams traded to Raiders
5. Russell Wilson traded to Broncos
6. Allen Robinson signs with Rams
7. Matt Ryan traded to Colts
8. Khalil Mack traded to Chargers
9. Amari Cooper traded to Browns
10. Von Miller signs with Bills
You know the offseason has been bonkers when Amari Cooper being traded to the Browns is barely able to crack the top 10.
If you want to know how Jordan put these rankings together along with an explanation for each ranking, then you're definitely going to want to click here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Al Michaels headed to Amazon
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.
- Amazon lands Al Michaels. With Amazon set to take over "Thursday Night Football" in 2022, they wanted to make a splash when they hired their play-by-play announcer and it appears they've done that. According to the New York Post, the 77-year-old Michaels is set to sign a three-year deal with the internet giant. Michaels will be teamed with Kirk Herbstreit for each Thursday game.
- Leonard Fournette decides to stay in Tampa Bay. After testing the waters of free agency, "Playoff Lenny" has decided to stay with the Buccaneers. The running back has agreed to a three-year deal worth $21 million.
- Texans get extra pick from Browns in Deshaun Watson trade. The Watson trade was finalized Monday and the Texans ended up getting an extra pick. Their haul now includes three first-round picks, a third-round pick (2023) and two fourth-round picks (2022, 2024). The bonus pick is the 2022 fourth-round selection that wasn't originally part of the deal. The Texans got another bonus in that they'll only be sending a sixth-round pick to the Browns instead of a fifth-round pick.
- Bills add two offensive weapons. The Bills got busy Monday with two signings when they added Duke Johnson and Jamison Crowder. Both players will be signing a one-year deal, according to ESPN.com. Crowder has finished with at least 600 receiving yards in five of his seven NFL seasons. As for Johnson, the Bills decided to add him after getting spurned by J.D. McKissic.
- Dalton Schultz signs franchise tag. The Cowboys don't have to worry about any drama with Schultz and that's because the tight end signed his franchise tag. The move means that Schultz will make $10.9 million in 2022 on a one-year deal. Schultz also has until July 15 to work out a long-term deal with the Cowboys.