Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
I just realized five minutes ago that Easter is this weekend and I'll be honest, I only realized it because my wife just came home with 700 plastic eggs that we're apparently going to hide for our 2-year-old daughter. She found nine eggs last year, which means it might take her until Easter 2041 to find all 700.
Since Easter is this weekend, here's a fun Easter fact: This Sunday will mark the first time in more than 60 years that Easter has been held on April 17. The last time it happened came in 1960, and I have some good news for Eagles fans: Philadelphia won the NFL title that season.
Before that, the only other time Easter took place on April 17 at any point over the past 80 years came in 1949, which also happens to be ANOTHER season where the Eagles won the NFL title. Basically, I think what I'm trying to say here is that we should probably all bet on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl this year.
One team you might not want to bet on is the Cardinals and that's because they're currently involved in seemingly never-ending drama with Kyler Murray. We'll have the latest on that, plus we'll touch on the fact that the top remaining free agent (Stephon Gilmore) finally signed with someone.
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: NFL Draft needs for teams in the AFC West and NFC West
The NFL Draft will be kicking off in less than two weeks, which means you're going to be hearing a lot from our draft analysts from now until the start of the draft on April 28. Two of those draft analysts -- Josh Edwards and Chris Trapasso -- joined Will Brinson for Friday's episode of the Pick Six Podcast, and the three of them spent nearly an hour talking about draft needs for each team in the AFC and NFC West.
Of the eight teams in those two divisions, one of the most intriguing is the Kansas City Chiefs, and that's because they're the only one of the eight that has TWO first-round picks this year (29th and 30th overall). Although logic says the Chiefs will likely select a receiver with one of those two picks, it's also possible that they won't because they have needs all over the place, according to Trapasso.
"I think they have needs at EDGE, definitely wide receiver, their cornerback room isn't very good, the safety position needs a lot of work," Trapasso said. "I could even say that the interior of the defensive line -- beyond Chris Jones -- they don't have a lot of quality talent there."
So who should the Chiefs look to draft? Trapasso mentioned Minnesota defensive lineman Boye Mafe, Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker and Georgia safety Lewis Cine as possibilities.
"This is a team that has to address receiver eventually, but really needs to piece together its defense," Trapasso said.
If you want to hear the draft needs for the other three teams in the AFC South along with the four teams in the NFC South, you'll have to listen to today's show, which you can do by clicking here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Cardinals dealing with more Kyler Murray drama
Over the course of the offseason, it seems like Kyler Murray and the Cardinals have been taking one step closer to a breakup with every passing month, and the quarterback definitely took his biggest step Thursday.
Murray and his agent, Erik Burkhardt, have made some new demands in Arizona, and those demands are likely going to make a complicated situation even more complicated.
Here's a look at those demands and what led us to where we are today:
- Murray won't play for the Cardinals this season unless he gets a new deal. According to NFL.com, the QB has decided that he's going to play hardball with Arizona. If the Cardinals don't give Murray a new contract, then he's simply not going to play for them this year. The problem for Murray is that the Cardinals have some serious leverage here due to the fact that he has two years remaining on his rookie contract.
- Cardinals still haven't made an offer, Murray's camp pulls its proposal off the table. It appears that one reason Murray's camp is so frustrated is because the Cardinals haven't even made a contract offer to the quarterback yet. Obviously, it's hard for Burkhardt to negotiate a new contract if he can't even get the Cardinals to the negotiating table.
- Murray's camp has been waiting nearly two months for an offer. Back on Feb. 28, Burkhardt sent out a lengthy statement that called on the Cardinals to give the quarterback a contract extension. That was nearly seven weeks ago, and if the Cardinals still have yet to make an offer to Murray's camp over that nearly two-month timeframe, it's easy to see how that could create some bad blood between the two sides. At this point, it's pretty clear that Murray's camp is frustrated with the Cardinals.
- Murray has been frustrated all offseason. Remember, all this drama started back in early February when Murray deleted all mentions of the Cardinals from his social media accounts. Although he ended up restoring them nearly a month later, his ultimate point seemed to be made and that point is that he's frustrated with his team.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported March 21 that the two sides were headed for drama and that the only way to fix it would be for Arizona to give Murray a new contract. The bottom line is this, though: If Arizona doesn't want to give him a new deal, things could go south quickly in the desert.
With all the crazy trades that have gone down this offseason it wouldn't be totally surprising to see him get dealt. The problem with giving Murray a monstrous contract is that it's still not clear how good he is. Although he's definitely looked like a franchise QB at times, he's also prone to injuries and has shown a knack for not showing up in big games. If I'm the Cardinals, I fax him over a copy of Derek Carr's contract and tell him to take it or leave it. That deal pays out $40.5 million per year, but there would be plenty of outs for the Cards so that they're not locked into Murray if he struggles down the road.
If you're wondering where Murray could end up next, we made a list of 10 possible trade partners for the Cardinals and you can check out that list by clicking here. (Spoiler alert: Three of the teams on the list are the three teams that lost out on Deshaun Watson: Panthers, Saints and Falcons.)
3. Free agency picks up some steam: Stephon Gilmore, A.J. Green and Sammy Watkins all sign deals
If you were following NFL free agency over the past week, there wasn't really much to follow, but that all changed over the past 24 hours with teams apparently deciding they needed to go on a shopping spree before the holiday weekend.
Here's a look at some of the biggest deals that were signed over the past 24 hours:
- Colts land Stephon Gilmore. The top-rated free agent left on the market finally has a new home after agreeing to a deal in Indianapolis, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson. ESPN is reporting that Gilmore has agreed to a two-year, $23 million deal that includes $14 million in guaranteed money. The five-time Pro Bowler is only two years removed from a 2019 season where he was voted the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. Although he's not necessarily in his prime anymore, the 32-year-old is still one of the best corners in the league, and the Colts defense just got better for adding him. According to Anderson, the Eagles, Raiders, Rams and Bills all made a play for Gilmore before he decided on the Colts.
- Packers add Sammy Watkins. The Packers have started the process of trying to replace Davante Adams by signing Sammy Watkins. The veteran receiver has agreed to a one-year, $4 million in Green Bay. Watkins hasn't put up huge numbers over the past few years, but he has averaged at least 11 yards per catch in all eight of his NFL seasons.
- A.J. Green re-signs with Cardinals. After testing the waters of free agency, Green has decided to head back to Arizona. The signing means that Green will statistically be Arizona's top returning receiver from last season. Green finished the year with 848 yards, which was second only to Christian Kirk, who is now in Jacksonville. Green signed a one-year deal.
The Seahawks also got in on Thursday's free agent action when they re-signed Geno Smith. The quarterback is getting a one-year deal that could pay him up to $7 million, according to NFL.com. Smith will now join Drew Lock and Jacob Eason in Seattle's QB room.
4. Ranking position groups from best-to-worst in the NFL Draft
If you've been reading as many mock drafts as I have, you may have noticed that almost every single one of them has multiple pass-rushers going in the top five and that's because the pass-rushing class is exceptionally strong this year. On the other hand, the quarterback class is one of the weakest ones the NFL has seen in a few years, which means, if you need a quarterback this year, you're basically out of luck.
With that in mind, Chris Trapasso went through and ranked each position group in the draft based on how strong the class is.
Here's a look at the top three:
First-round grades: 5 (Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Arnold Ebiketie, George Karlaftis, Boye Mafe)
Trapasso's take: This edger rusher class is stellar, from top to bottom, outstanding, and that's without a Myles Garrett or Chase Young freakazoid type at the top. Ebiketie is bound for stardom in the NFL. He has it all. Burst, bend, dip, pass-rush moves, power. Karlaftis is ready to be a 700-snap defensive end in Year 1, and Mafe is only going to get better and better in the pros.
First-round grades: 6 (Ahmad Gardner, Derek Stingley, Andrew Booth Jr., Daxton Hill, Roger McCreary, Jalen Pitre)
Trapasso's take: This cornerback group is stacked. And it's a lot more than just Gardner and Stingley. Booth is a bit of a mystery because he's been injured during the pre-draft process. When healthy, he's a first-round lock all day. Twitchy and equipped with stellar ball skills. Hill and Pitre are hyper-agile nickel corners at the next level, and if McCreary's arms were about two inches longer, he'd be a first-round lock as well.
3. WIDE RECEIVERS
First-round grades: 7 (Drake London, Jameson Williams, Garrett Wilson, Skyy Moore, Treylon Burks, Chris Olave, George Pickens)
Trapasso's take: This receiver class is rock solid at the top. I adore Moore and I truly believe Pickens would be widely considered a first-round pick had he not torn his ACL in March 2021.
If you want to know where every other position group ranks, then be sure to click here so you can read Trapasso's entire piece. Since I'm in a spoiling mood, I will offer one spoiler: The QB class is ranked as the eighth best position group.
5. Top 10 free agents left on the market
Every Friday, we'll be closing out the week by taking a look at the biggest names still available in free agency.
Before free agency started, Pete Prisco made a list of his top 100 free agents for 2022. As we get ready to enter the FIFTH week of wheeling and dealing, seven of his top-35 players are still available.
After Gilmore's signing today, the biggest prize left on the market is Tyrann Mathieu, who has clearly decided that he's going to take all the time he needs before signing. Over the past week, we only saw one of our top-10 remaining free agents get signed (Gilmore). With the corner headed to Indy, we've updated our list of top remaining players accordingly.
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. FS Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs)
2. DL Akiem Hicks (Bears)
3. EDGE Jadeveon Clowney (Browns)
4. OL Duane Brown (Seahawks)
5. TE Rob Gronkowski (Buccaneers)
6. WR Odell Beckham (Rams)
7. EDGE Melvin Ingram (Steelers)
8. OT Eric Fisher (Colts)
9. S Jaquiski Tartt (49ers)
10. DE Jerry Hughes (Bills)
Although free agency slowed down some over the past two weeks, it's definitely picked up over the past few days and don't be surprised if it continues to pick up a little bit of steam before the start of the draft. If a team can fill a need in free agency, that's one less need it has to worry about when the draft rolls around.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Auction for Tom Brady's 'last TD ball' gets voided
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.
- Auction for Tom Brady's "last TD ball" gets voided. The guy who paid $518,000 in an auction for the football from Brady's final TD pass won't have to pay the money after all parties involved agreed to void the auction. The ball, which was from Tampa Bay's playoff loss to the Rams, shot up in value after Brady decided to retire, but after he announced his return, the value plummeted. There's a $518,000 lesson to be learned here, but I'm not sure what it is.
- Former Raiders GM Mike Mayock wanted to keep Rich Bisaccia as head coach. Mayock revealed in an interview this week that he thought Bisaccia deserved to keep the head coaching job after leading the Raiders to the playoffs. Unfortunately for Mayock, Raiders owner Mark Davis seemed intent on hiring someone else, and in the end, that rift might have cost Mayock his job.
- Cowboys player named person of interest in murder investigation. Kelvin Joseph is expected to be interviewed by Dallas police in the coming days regarding an ongoing murder investigation where he's been named a person of interest. Joseph was at a Dallas night club on March 18 when a man named Cameron Ray was murdered there. Surveillance video has indicated that Joseph's camp may have had an altercation with Ray at some point during the night. For more details on the case, be sure to click here.
- NFL releases list of prospects who have been invited to the draft. A total of 21 players will be attending the NFL Draft in Las Vegas this year. One notable thing about the attendee list is that it includes just two quarterback (Matt Corral, Malik Willis). To see the entire list, be sure to click here. On a very important note: I was not invited. Maybe next year.