INDIANAPOLIS -- The whirlwind of coaches and general managers available to the media is always one of the highlights of the NFL combine. Of course, what people say and what they actually mean can often be two different things. Especially in these settings.
You can't expect team officials to be totally forthright and forthcoming when it comes to tricky personnel decisions, and for many good reasons. There are still conversations that need to be had before players are released, traded or asked to take a pay cut, and potential verbal minefields galore at a precarious time like this. So everyone involved in this sometimes awkward dance -- GMs, coaches, reporters, media relations folks -- understands that, in oh so many cases, what is said is not going to mesh with the reality of these situations.
That's where I come in. Consider me your combine translator.
Plenty of news was made today, in a very real sense, including the Giants recommitting to Eli Manning and poo-pooing any trade of Odell Beckham, and the Eagles making official their decision not to franchise Nick Foles, but there were also plenty of statements and comments made by various decision-makers that will prove to be something perhaps a little closer to fake news once these various situations actually play out. So allow me to peel back the onion a little bit, and interpret the comments of the day as a bevvy of coaches and general managers took turns fielding questions from the media.
Giants GM Dave Gettleman on Odell Beckham: "We didn't sign him to trade him."
Translation: Hey, interested teams, it would take a ransom to get him, but keep calling. League sources indicated to me on Wednesday that the Giants are not averse to a Beckham trade -- even despite the massive hit they would incur -- and that coach Pat Shurmur has been at wits end on how to manage him. A trade is certainly not out of the question. In fact, sources have pointed to the 49ers and Raiders as the most likely strong suitors should this situation escalate. Stay tuned. Long offseason ahead.
(A brief aside on other players available ahead of the league year. League sources said the Vikings are shopping corner Trae Waynes, the Bears are shopping running back Jordan Howard, the Chiefs are talking trade on Justin Houston and the Eagles are open to moving Nelson Agholor).
Eagles GM Howie Roseman on Nick Foles: "We've decided to let Nick become a free agent."
Translation: Besides Jacksonville, we didn't have much of a trade market, if any, and no teams really bidding. And if we placed that $25 million franchise tag on Foles, he'd sign it ASAP and we might be stuck with a backup making piles more than our starter. Too risky. Once Denver traded for Joe Flacco, we were stuck. Besides, we'll get a decent comp pick for him, and we can put the money we've been paying Foles into someone like Antonio Brown. Heck, he wouldn't even have to leave Pennsylvania.
Gettleman on Manning: "We looked at Eli and we feel good about him ... The narrative has been negative, and I don't think that's fair."
Translation: The franchise still isn't ready to embrace a full-on rebuild and cut this cord. Ownership hired Gettleman a year around to try to win now, so they're sticking with the declining QB. So that's where the money is going, but keep a close eye on Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins with that sixth-overall pick. "You can't be afraid to draft over a player," Gettleman said, adding at one point: "No guts, no glory." Look for it to be Eli and a rookie getting groomed to take over.
Translation: Please, someone come up and take this first-overall pick off our hands. We are going to create as much smoke about Kyler Murray as possible and want him to be seen as in play for the first-overall pick, because we really want to trade down and get as many picks as possible to address all the holes on this roster. Comments like these get people talking and leave plenty of wiggle room, too. Well done.
Raiders GM Mike Mayock on Derek Carr: "I think Derek Carr is a franchise QB. I think it would be difficult to improve over the QB we have in the building (in this draft)."
Translation: Our defense is horribly broken and our draft capital is going to be used in large part to try to rectify that. I'm not 100 percent sure my boss, Jon Gruden, is going to buy into Carr for the long haul, because he tends to wear out his quarterbacks and pick them apart, but we have bigger fish to fry right now and very few teams in the NFL are looking for a veteran starter. So while we may be open to wheeling and dealing on our roster like we were a year ago, it's very doubtful that includes the QB this time around. But check back next February.
Translation: These dudes are not going to be making what their owed this year, at least not in Tampa. League sources said the Bucs are prepared to move on from Jackson unless he restructures his deal to stay -- which doesn't seem all that likely -- and their days of paying McCoy $13 million a year are probably drawing to a close, too, now that he's over the age of 30 and with that defense being such a big problem for so long. Licht himself hinted at the tenuous nature of the situation -- when asked if he would want everyone back who he has under contract, he smiled and said: "Correct." But that's not how it works.
Dolphins GM Chris Grier on the 2019 season: "We're not trying to tank or lose every game. But we're going to build it right and see how it plays out."
Translation: After years of my owner doing things in a helter-skelter, semi-backwards way, we're not going to go crazy throwing money at our problems anymore, either. We have a brutal cap situation, I'm inheriting a bit of a roster mess, and the owner is sick of spending big bucks to go 7-9. So we're taking the long view, and we're going to lose a bunch of games in 2019 to try to get significantly better on the back end. If we get the first-overall pick in 2020 along the way, well, that's not the end of the world, either.
Translation: It's been great, but it's over. Players with that much cache who have meant that much to the organization would know by now if they were truly coming back. There are other needs to fill, after paying Cobb $10 million a year the past four years.