Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
The NFL season doesn't kick off for another five months, but something that's almost as exciting will be kicking off today and that's NFL offseason workouts! Each team is allowed to hold a voluntary nine-week offseason workout program and any team that hired a new coach this year is allowed to start their program today.
Although there were 10 teams eligible to start working out today, only four of those teams will actually begin their workouts and those teams are the Dolphins, Bears, Saints and Giants. The other six teams that hired a new coach this year will be starting their workouts on April 11.
You probably shouldn't be expecting to see anything notable happen from the beginning of these workouts because the first two weeks are limited to mostly meetings. There will also be some strength and conditioning along with physical rehab from injured players.
Of the four teams starting workouts today, Jason La Canfora thinks two of them are going to make the playoffs this year. In today's newsletter, we'll be taking a look at six teams that could make the postseason in 2022 after missing out last year, plus we'll go inside the details of the DeVante Parker trade.
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: Monday Mailbag!
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week on the Pick Six Podcast by adding a listener mailbag every Monday.
Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I'm pretty sure there was one time when someone asked what our favorite Easter candy was, so if we'll answer that question, trust me when I say we'll answer almost anything (Also, the answer for me is definitely Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. I will steal them from my own child if it comes to that).
Anyway, if you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review that includes your question.
Here's one question that Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson and I answered in today's mailbag:
Q: Was the 49ers' decision to pick Trey Lance a bigger mistake than people think? They could easily have gotten Baker Mayfield or Deshaun Watson or Matt Ryan this year and they went to the NFC Championship with Jimmy Garoppolo. This is a win-now team and some of the vets are mad about the pick. I see this as a potentially fireable offense if this doesn't work out in like two years for John Lynch. Also, does the pick look even worse since Mac Jones has actually turned out good so far?
A: There's a lot to unpack here, so everyone grab a chair and get comfortable. The one thing I will say about this trade is that if the 49ers had the option to do this deal again -- knowing what they know now -- I don't think they would do it and that's mainly because it makes no sense to trade a bunch of picks away for an unproven commodity anymore. Not when teams are out there making trades for proven players like Stafford, Ryan or Russell Wilson.
In a span of about 15 months, the NFL went from a league where teams were never willing to trade their franchise QB to a league where teams will trade anyone for the right offer, including their franchise QB.
To move up in the 2021 draft so they could grab Lance, the 49ers gave up two first-round picks, a third-round pick, plus they switched spots in the first round with the Dolphins. If the 49ers called every team in the NFL today and offered two future first-round picks, I'm sure a few of them would be willing to give up their quarterback.
Basically, if the 49ers had made the decision to NOT draft a QB in 2021 -- and to stick with Jimmy Garoppolo -- it seems like they would be in a better spot than they are now. They would still have those two first-round picks, they wouldn't be feeling any pressure to start Trey Lance and the door would have been open to trade for a veteran QB this offseason. They could have even called the Buccaneers about trading for Tom Brady, who has made it clear that he'd like to play for the 49ers at some point.
The play of Jones also doesn't help things because it means the 49ers could have stayed put with the 12th pick and landed the Patriots QB in last year's draft.
As long as the 49ers keep getting to NFC title games -- they've gone to two in the past three years -- I don't think we'll see Lynch or Kyle Shanahan on the hot seat, but if Lance ends up being a bust, that definitely puts more pressure on them to get the QB position fixed as soon as possible.
Anyway, to listen to the rest of the mailbag, be sure to click here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. DeVante Parker traded to the Dolphins: Full trade details, plus grading the deal for both teams
It's not often you see a trade between the Patriots and Dolphins, but the two AFC East arrivals decided to make a deal over the weekend when Miami shipped DeVante Parker off to New England in exchange for a draft pick.
This trade marks just the third time in Bill Belichick's tenure that the Patriots have made a non-draft day deal with the Dolphins and somehow, all three trades have involved wide receivers.
- The Dolphins traded Wes Welker to the Patriots in 2007 (I think we can all agree that New England won that trade).
- The Dolphins traded Isaiah Ford to the Patriots in 2020 (I think we can all agree that Miami won that trade).
The Patriots will be hoping the Parker trade will be turning into more of a Welker situation than a Ford situation.
Here's a look at the trade details:
- Patriots receive: DeVante Parker, 2022 fifth-round pick
- Dolphins receive: 2023 third-round pick
- Dolphins are loading up on 2023 draft picks. This trade means that the Dolphins will now have five picks in the first three rounds next year with two first-round picks, a second, and two third-round picks.
- N'Keal Harry's days likely numbers in New England. Harry was a first-round pick by the Patriots in 2019, but don't look for him to last much longer. The addition of Parker likely means we'll see the Patriots move on from Harry, according to ESPN.com.
This trade does come with a small amount of risk for the Patriots and that's because Parker has had trouble staying healthy over the course of his career. Since his rookie year in 2015, Parker has only made it through the entire regular season one time in seven years. That one healthy year came in 2019, and not surprisingly, that was also the season where Parker had the biggest year of his career (72 catches, 1,202 yards, nine touchdowns).
If Parker can stay healthy, this could be a huge addition for Mac Jones.
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 Parker deal was graded by CBSSports.com's Cody Benjamin and here's what he came up with:
- Dolphins grade: B+. "In a normal year, you'd probably prefer to retain Parker, 29, rather than deal him for the equivalent of a late fifth-rounder. He's been a solid, if decreasingly explosive, outside starter for years. But this isn't a normal year for the Dolphins, who just surrendered all kinds of picks for -- and committed $30 million per year to -- new No. 1 Tyreek Hill; paid Cedrick Wilson Jr. for a top-three role; and have Jaylen Waddle locked into a starting gig. Parker's days were understandably numbered."
- Patriots grade: B+. "At a reasonable $5.6 million base salary in 2022, Parker brings both size and playmaking ability to a receiving corps also featuring Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Worst-case scenario, he battles more injury issues, which plagued him in 2021, and the Pats roll with their WR lineup from a year ago. Best case, he gives young Mac Jones a legitimate No. 2-level target on the outside."
You can check out Benjamin's full explanation for each grade by clicking here.
3. NFL insider notes: The six new teams that will make the playoffs this year after missing out in 2021
The best thing about being an NFL fan is that even if your team was horrible in 2021, it could still make the playoffs in 2022. Thanks to parity, it's pretty easy to get things quickly turned around in the NFL and if you need proof of that, just ask the Bengals, who went from a 4-11-1 record in 2020 to a Super Bowl appearance in 2021.
Due to parity, one thing we see every year in the NFL is new playoff teams. Since 1990, there have been at least FOUR new playoff teams every year. That means we've now gone 32 straight seasons where at least four teams missed the playoffs one year only to bounce back and make it the following season.
So who are the best candidates to get to the playoffs in 2022 after missing in 2021? CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora has that answer for us.
Here's his prediction for teams that will make the postseason in 2022 after missing out last year.
- Colts. "The defense has enough pieces. The offensive line is among the best in football at a time when line play is largely poor. And the Titans may have gone as far as they are going to go with Ryan Tannehill. I think Indy takes the AFC South crown this year."
- Broncos. "Of all the power moves any team made this offseason, none is bigger than the Broncos landing Russell Wilson. Yes, the AFC is loaded, but so was the NFC West back in the day and Russ was good for cookin' up a playoff berth pretty much every season regardless of the supporting cast around him."
- Chargers. "When you have a QB as talented as Justin Herbert, you should be thinking playoffs."
- Dolphins. "This may be the second-best team in the AFC East, which is why they get the nod in this spot."
- Vikings. "I am buying what Kevin O'Connell is selling. Big time. This may be the fourth-best team in the NFC right now. Very balanced on offense. Ascending offensive linemen. No shortage of capable skill players."
- Saints. "These guys had no business getting as close to the playoffs as they did a year ago. ... Legit home-field advantage. Quality roster. Dennis Allen is in position to succeed right away."
If you want to read JLC's entire prediction piece, then be sure to click here.
4. Frank Gore set to retire after 16-year NFL career
Like Tom Brady, I was starting to think that Frank Gore might play in the NFL forever, but as it turns out, that sadly won't be the case. The longtime running announced over the weekend that he's finally going to retire.
Gore's plan is to sign a one-day contract in San Francisco so he can officially retire as a 49er. Gore spent 10 years with the 49ers after they made him the 65th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
"We're still trying to figure out when I'm going through my one-day contract, to sign, do my retirement," Gore said. "I told (owner) Jed York I always want to be a Niner. So we're working on that right now."
Here's a quick look at Gore's career, which included five Pro Bowl appearances and one season as an All-Pro:
- Gore ranks top-five all time in three key categories. Not only will Gore retire with the third-highest rushing total in NFL history (16,000 yards), but he also has the fourth-most yards from scrimmage (19,985) and the fifth-most all-purpose yards (19,992). The only two players ahead of Gore on the all-time rushing list -- Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton -- are both in the Hall of Fame.
- Gore hit 1,000 total yards a total of 12 times. The running back wasn't just a threat to run the ball, Gore could also catch passes out of the backfield. Over the course of his career, he hit 1,000 total yards a total of 12 times, which is the third-most in NFL history, behind only Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice.
- Incredibly durable. There were some major questions about Gore's durability coming out of college considering he twice tore his ACL, but those old injuries never proved to be an issue. In 16 NFL seasons, Gore only missed a total of 15 games.
- Gore came up big in Super Bowl loss. During his lone Super Bowl appearance, Gore rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown for the 49ers in their Super Bowl XLVII loss to the Ravens. During the 2012 postseason, Gore averaged 106.3 yards per game.
Gore played for five different teams over his 16-year career, including the 49ers (2005-14), Colts (2015-17), Dolphins (2018), Bills (2019) and Jets (2020). The 38-year-old didn't play during the 2021 season.
5. Colin Kaepernick holds throwing session in front of NFL scouts
Colin Kaepernick isn't back in the NFL, but he did get to throw in front of thousands of fans over the weekend after Jim Harbaugh invited him to hold a throwing session at halftime of the Michigan spring game.
After being out of the NFL for five seasons, Kaepernick seems more determined than ever to get back in the league.
- Kaepernick thinks he can help a team win now. "I can help make you a better team, I can help you win games," Kaepernick told WXYZ Detroit on Saturday when asked why teams should sign him, via NFL.com. "I know right now the situation likely won't allow me to come in, step into a starting role. I know I'll be able to work my way to that though and show that very quickly."
- Kaepernick just wants one team to give him a chance. "A shot," Kaepernick said when asked what he wants out of all this. "Just a chance, an opportunity. You know, a lot of what we've heard is, 'Oh you haven't played in five years, can you still play?' Well, I had to come out, it's part of the reason we've been doing all of the workouts publicly, releasing them publicly."
- The 34-year-old is willing to be a backup. CBS Sport NFL insider Josina Anderson has reported that Kaepernick is willing to be a backup. That's a huge piece of information, because before this week, it wasn't clear if he'd be willing to sign with a team in a backup role.
- NFL scouts actually got to watch him throw. Kaepernick hasn't really gotten a chance to throw in front of NFL scouts over the past five years, but that changed on Saturday. There were scouts in attendance at Michigan's spring game, which means many of them got to see Kaepernick in action for the first time in years.
For a full breakdown of how Kaepernick's throwing session went at Michigan, be sure to click here.
I get that Kaepernick would likely divide a fan base, but if I'm an NFL owner, I'd almost certainly give him a chance. In terms of on the field play, there's really no downside to signing him. If he's good and wins games, then most fans will be ecstatic that they have a QB who can win. If he's bad, then you cut him after training camp and you look like the good guy for giving him a chance.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Xavien Howard lands huge extension
It was a wild weekend 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.
- Dolphins hand Xavien Howard a new five-year deal. The Dolphins corner had three years left on his old deal, but he got a new contract anyway. Under terms of the new deal, Howard will be getting two added years and $50.691 million in added money. That means his overall contract is now worth $90 million over the next five years.
- Browns owners admit they had no idea what they were doing when they bought the team. If you felt like the Browns had no idea what they were doing for most of the past decade, you're not the only one, the Browns owners also felt that way. "We did a lousy job at first," owner Jimmy Haslam said in a recent interview, via the Canton Repository. "I mean, let's just face it. It's probably fair to say we didn't know what we were doing." Yes, it's definitely fair to say that.
- Jalen Ramsey says the Cowboys broke a promise they made to him during the 2016 NFL Draft. Apparently, the Cowboys lied to the Rams star just before the 2016 NFL Draft, "They told me straight up to my face, 'If you're there at four, we're taking you. But, we don't think you're gonna be there at four.'" The short version of this story is that Ramsey WAS available, but the Cowboys didn't take him because they decided to take Ezekiel Elliott instead.
- Texans sign Marlon Mack. The former Colts running back is headed to Houston after signing a deal with the Texans over the weekend. Mack spent the first five years of his career in Indianapolis, but the Colts let him walk in free agency. Mack has struggled with injuries over the past two years, missing a total of 26 out of 33 regular-season games.