Los Angeles Rams S John Johnson

Four Downs: NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Biggest Need: Cornerback

For a franchise that has won only seven playoff games since 1940, the Cardinals have had a lot of good defensive backs. That includes three Hall of Famers: safety Larry Wilson, who made four All-Pro teams in the 1960s and another in 1970; cornerback Roger Wehrli, who made three straight All-Pro teams in the 1970s; and Aeneas Williams, who made two All-Pro teams as a cornerback with Arizona in the 1990s and a third as a safety with the Rams in 2001. Patrick Peterson, however, may be the best of the bunch, with three All-Pro appearances so far (including one as a punt returner) at age 30. Peterson is a free agent, however, and is unlikely to return. The Cardinals will need to replace his team-high 1,096 defensive snaps last year, as well as the 750 of Dre Kirkpatrick, their other starting corner, who is also a free agent.

So, who's left? The top corner on the roster is now Byron Murphy, who started 16 games as a rookie in 2019 before moving down to third corner last season. His charting numbers were decent enough—per Sports Info Solutions, he gave up 7.1 yards per target last season (30th out of 79 qualifying cornerbacks) with a 47.4% success rate (54th)—but that was as a nickelback, not matched up against top wideouts. And … that's it. No other corner under contract played a single defensive snap in 2020. The other starter would be veteran Robert Alford, who missed all of 2019 with a broken leg and all of 2020 with a torn pec. He also turns 32 in October. The battle for nickelback comes down to a pair of undrafted free agents with fantastic names: Picasso Nelson Jr. (Southern Mississippi, 2019) and Jace Whittaker (Arizona, 2020). Whittaker at least made appearances on special teams in four games last year; that gives him a leg up on Nelson, who has yet to see action in the regular season.

Major Free Agents: Patrick Peterson, CB; Dre Kirkpatrick, CB; Haason Reddick, ER; Markus Golden, ER; Corey Peters, NT; Kenyan Drake, RB; Larry Fitzgerald, WR; J.R. Sweezy, G; Kelvin Beachum, T

Since we've talked about the corners already, let's go over the rest of the defense, which stands to lose three starters in the front seven: edge rushers Haason Reddick and Markus Golden and nose tackle Corey Peters. Reddick is pretty much gone after the signing of J.J. Watt. He had 12.5 sacks last year after amassing only 7.5 in his first three seasons, but he has shown pass-rush potential before; in 2018, he had 4.0 sacks and 13 hurries in only 94 pass-rush snaps, per SIS. Golden has had a mercurial career, going from 12.5 sacks with Arizona in 2016, to 2.5 total over the next two seasons, to 10.0 with the Giants in 2019, and finally to 4.5 sacks last year, when he was traded back to Arizona in the middle of the season. Peters has started 121 games in the NFL for the Falcons and Cardinals; he missed seven games last year with a knee injury.

On offense, Larry Fitzgerald—second only to Jerry Rice in career catches and receiving yardage—remains undecided about returning for an 18th NFL season. Fitzgerald's deep speed is pretty much gone—he averaged only 7.6 yards per catch in 2020, and none of his 54 receptions gained more than 18 yards—but he still fit in as a third receiver behind DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. Kenyan Drake had a career-high 955 rushing yards in 2020, but it's not a good sign that he has failed to top 1,000 yards in five NFL seasons now. Finally, two starters on the offensive line—J.R. Sweezy and Kelvin Beachum—are also about to hit the open market. Both are journeymen; since 2015, Beachum has gone from the Steelers to the Jaguars to the Jets to the Cardinals, while Sweezy has gone from Seattle to Tampa Bay and then back to Seattle and at last Arizona.

Los Angeles Rams

Biggest Need: Secondary

Really, the biggest need here should read "cap space" (the Rams are more than $34 million over the cap, per Over The Cap) or "draft picks" (after trades for Jalen Ramsey and Matthew Stafford, the Rams don't have another first-round pick until 2024), but on the field, general manager Les Snead is charged with rebuilding a secondary for new defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. Three of the four L.A. defensive backs who played at least 800 defensive snaps last year will soon be free agents.

The good news is the one that is staying is Jalen Ramsey, the two-time All-Pro cornerback. But the three who could be leaving include:

  • Safety John Johnson, who led the team in defensive snaps (1,024) and tackles (105) and got our vote for the All-Pro team;
  • Cornerback Troy Hill, a 16-game starter in 2020 who led the NFL in both yardage (119) and touchdowns (two) on interception returns and gave up only 24.3 yards per game in coverage, sixth-lowest among corners with more than 10 starts;
  • and Darious Williams, who started 10 games at corner and finished third at the position in success rate (63.9%) despite seeing an average target depth of 16.8 yards, deepest in the NFL.

Williams at least will be a restricted free agent, which makes him the most likely to stay in town, but that's just going to add to the Rams' salary cap burden.

Major Free Agents: John Johnson, S; Troy Hill, CB; Darious Williams, CB; Leonard Floyd, ER; Samson Ebukam, ER; Josh Reynolds, WR; Austin Blythe, C; Gerald Everett, TE

As if losing most of their coverage men wasn't bad enough, The Rams could also lose their top two edge rushers in Leonard Floyd and Samson Ebukam. Floyd is the real prize here, with 10.5 sacks in his first year in L.A. after 18.5 in four years with the Bears. Ebukam started 14 games, but played less than.half of the team's defensive snaps in 12 of them.

The Rams also have three major contributors on offense hitting the market, but each plays in a position of depth. They have Van Jefferson, a second-round rookie last year, ready to step in for Josh Reynolds and his 52-618-2 statline. The departure of Gerald Everett should just mean more targets for Tyler Higbee, ninth in DYAR last season and top-20 in that category for three years in a row. Austin Blythe would be the biggest loss—he has started 47 of 48 games the last three years at both left guard and center—but the Rams also have Brian Allen, who started nine games at center for them in 2019.

San Francisco 49ers

Biggest Need: Secondary

The 49ers, as you may have noticed, were a complete mess last season. Fifty-three different players started at least one game for the injury-ravaged squad; 34 started four or more, while only 14 started 10 or more. With so many broken pieces falling in and out of the lineup, it can be a little difficult to determine who exactly was supposed to be starting at any given time. Consider these facts, however, about San Francisco's defensive backfield:

  • Fourteen different defensive backs saw playing time in 2020—and that's just on defense, not even counting special teams.
  • Those 14 players combined for 4,871 defensive snaps.
  • 1,427 of those snaps (29.3%) went to five players under contract for 2021, mostly by safeties Jimmie Ward (849) and Tarvarius Moore (540). Only 11 of those snaps went to cornerbacks, all by a man called Ken Webster in Weeks 3 and 4.
  • 846 of those snaps (17.4%) went to a pair of soon-to-be restricted free agents: Emmanuel Moseley (a one-time starter at corner who was largely relegated to special teams detail by the end of the season) and Marcell Harris (a backup safety who played in all 16 games but only started four times).
  • The remaining 2,598 snaps (53.3%) went to seven players who are about to be unrestricted free agents. That list includes starting corners Richard Sherman and Jason Verrett, former starters K'Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon, and top strong safety Jaquiski Tartt.

Even if we assume Moseley and Harris return, that still leaves the 49ers with just three safeties and one corner under contract with any real experience. General manager John Lynch has some money to spend, ranking right in the middle of the pack in effective cap space per Over The Cap, but he's got a lot of rebuilding to do here, plus plugging holes in his offensive line and front seven.

Major Free Agents: All of Those Players We Just Talked About, CB/S; Kendrick Bourne, WR; Kyle Jusczcyk, FB; Trent Williams, LT; Daniel Brunskill, G; Solomon Thomas, DT; D.J. Jones, DT

Trent Williams came to San Francisco on a one-year prove-it deal, and boy howdy did he prove it, with only 15 blown blocks and six sacks allowed in 14 starts. He may be the top offensive lineman available in free agency, and there will be a big bidding war for his services. Daniel Brunskill does not have the same pedigree—he was an undrafted free agent in 2017, while Williams was the fourth overall draft pick in 2010—but he has developed into a first-string player, with seven starts in 2019 and 16 last year. Kendrick Bourne was second on the team in both catches (49) and yardage (667) last year in only five starts. And it's hard to quantify the impact of multi-purpose fullback Kyle Juszczyk, but since he signed with San Francisco in 2017, only George Kittle and Bourne have caught more passes for the Scarlet & Gold.

The defense, meanwhile, has to rebuild on the front end as well as the back. Both starters at defensive tackle— Solomon Thomas and D.J. Jones—are free agents. Both were drafted in 2017, Thomas in the first round, Jones in the sixth, and they have had similar production: Thomas has 95 tackles and 6.0 sacks in 48 games (30 starts), while Jones has 70 tackles and 5.0 sacks in 44 (with 29 starts). Thomas missed 14 games in 2020 after tearing his ACL but should be ready to go for Week 1 this fall, for whichever team he is playing.

Seattle Seahawks

Biggest Need: Cornerback

For a team that won 12 games and finished fifth in DVOA last season, the Seahawks sure have a lot of holes on their roster. As their own quarterback will tell you, they need help on the offensive line … and in the very unlikely but not entirely impossible event that quarterback is traded, his position becomes their biggest need by far. The pass rush also has room to improve, even after the trade for Carlos Dunlap. As it stands, however, if there's one position where a lack of talent is likely to cost them football games (and provide a convenient unifying theme for this article), it's cornerback. The Seahawks were among the 10 worst defenses last year in yards allowed to No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers, and they also gave up 77.3 yards per game to "other" wide receivers, 10 yards more than any other defense. And now their two projected starters from last season are about to be free agents.

Both Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar will soon hit the open market. Griffin, who has been Seattle's top corner since the Legion of Boom dissolved, failed to make the top 40 corners in either success rate or yards allowed per target. Dunbar, acquired from Washington to start across from Griffin, missed 11 games (including the playoff loss to the Rams) due to knee injuries; he turns 29 in July and has never started more than 11 games in a season. Tre Flowers took Dunbar's spot in the starting lineup but failed to make the top 60 corners in either success rate or yards allowed per target; he missed four games in December with a hamstring injury, and when he returned he was almost exclusively a special teamer. D.J. Reed and Ugo Amadi, a pair of converted safeties, had the best per-target numbers at the position, but they remain untested with only 16 NFL starts between them, including the postseason. The top three corners right now would be a pair of question marks in Reed and Amadi with Flowers desperately trying to save his career.

Major Free Agents: Chris Carson, RB; Ethan Pocic, C; Poona Ford, DT; Bruce Irvin, ER; Benson Mayowa, ER; K.J. Wright, LB; Shaquill Griffin, CB; Quinton Dunbar, CB

Seattle actually has a ton of unrestricted free agents, 24 in all, but most were role players or depth pieces. The biggest name among starters is K.J. Wright. He was drafted in 2011, making him the longest-tenured player on the team and one of three (along with Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner) remaining from the 2013 championship roster. But the Seahawks drafted Jordyn Brooks last year and Wright has bluntly said he will not take a hometown discount (nor should he), so his time in college navy has probably come to an end. Wright, Griffin, and Poona Ford (a Tasmanian Devil of a defensive tackle, weighing 310 pounds at less than 6 feet tall) are the defensive starters here; Benson Mayowa was coming off the bench by season's end, while Irvin's season ended after.a torn ACL in Week 2.

On offense, the Seahawks must replace four starters—the two listed here, plus guard Mike Iupati and tight end Greg Olsen, who both retired. Ethan Pocic made 14 starts in 2020 after starting only five of 14 games over the prior two seasons, but made little positive impact in those 14 starts. He looked a lot better—as did all Seahawks linemen—because of the remarkable consistency of Chris Carson, who gained more yards than expected based on his blocking 48.9% of the time according to Next Gen Stats, second-best in the league. That's a big reason Carson led all running backs with a success rate of 65%, which is among the top 10 on record for runners with at least 100 carries. Carson is nearly unstoppable when running between the tackles (182 DYAR, most in the NFL), but lacks any kind of speed to get to the outside (-42 DYAR on runs to left/right end, worst in the NFL).

Seattle is in the middle of the pack in cap space, and they'll need to spend their money wisely there—with no first- or third-round picks in the draft due to the Jamal Adams trade, they are unlikely to get many rookie starters this year.

Comments

42 comments, Last at 08 Mar 2021, 6:22pm

1 Sheer morbid curiosity.

For the Seahawks writeup, is "Cornerback" a code word for "We're sick of saying 'Offensive Line' every year" ?  Wouldn't blame you even though I agree CB is a real problem.

6 We actually listed OL as…

We actually listed OL as Seattle's biggest need every year from 2014 (coming off their Super Bowl win) until 2019. We wrote about how monumental that was at the time:

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/four-downs/2019/four-downs-nfc-west

Since then we have usually listed their biggest need as defensive line.

8 Its still very hard to…

Its still very hard to accurately measure Seattle's offensive line. Russel Wilson's style of play is just naturally going to make the line look worse at least in pass protection.

 

I think if say Brady suddenly experienced a surge in pressures, it's much easier to believe that's an O line fault than a Brady fault. 

2 DVOA Ratings

Can someone give an in-depth breakdown of why certain teams have the DVOA ratings they have?

 

I feel that SEA is ranked really high based on how they played this season, especially being ranked higher than LAR.

7 People keep asking this and…

In reply to by Yeizzo

People keep asking this and I'm not sure why it's surprising. I guess they forget how good Seattle's offense was in the first half of the year? But Seattle outscored their opponents by 88 points in 2020; the Rams outscored their opponents by 76. So it's close, but that edge goes to Seattle. The Seahawks were seventh in net points per drive, the Rams were ninth. The Seahawks were +4 in turnovers, the Rams were -3. Both teams were good, but for most of the year (not in the playoffs, obviously), the Seahawks were better. 

3 Forgive the crappy analogy…

Forgive the crappy analogy but this was the first thing that came to mind.

The Rams remind me of a friend of mine who landed his first big tech job. He spent every dime he could on a swanky apartment, cocaine, booze, and cigarettes - all the while maintaining several relationships including a long distance love affair with a woman who allegedly broke his heart.

He's my friend and is a very well-meaning person, but I could see this kind of lifestyle has a very predictable ending. I think the same could be said for the Rams

5 Interesting analogy.  My…

Interesting analogy.  My guess is that Ramsey is the swanky apartment, Gurley/Cooks/Goff are the cocaine/booze/cigarettes, and Stafford is the long distance love affair.

I don't know if you're familiar with movie Looper, but the main character's life after his retirement reminds me of the Rams....it looks like fun for a while, but inevitably the bill will come due, and eventually you'll be facing the business end of a shotgun.

11 That's a great analogy, SlotHooker.

They are basically living on credit like many Americans and falling behind year by year.  Eventually that interest becomes too onerous and people declare bankruptcy.  I don't see the Rams winning a SB with their current iteration and it will likely cost Les Snead his job.  So much money tied up in sunk cost and poor decisions has sabotaged them.  I like their strategy, but they should have traded for a much better QB than Matt Stafford.  If you get a game-changer like DaShaun Watson, then it's worth mortgaging your future.  

The Rams defense will likely see a regression due to all those FA's.  

14 With respect to football -…

With respect to football - individually they are all justifiable to some extent, but taken together its just wholly untenable. 

Any injury to Donald or Ramsay and that defense is going to take a huge step back. Any injury to Kupp is huge. I guess Stafford is far better than Goff at mitigating pressure so you are afforded more slack on the offensive line quality, but the whole foundation is ricketty. 

 

16 It was the same case last year.

They're literally holding on by a thread.  The Cards lost Chandler Jones to a biceps tear and the defense was subpar as a result.  You can only scheme and stunt so much to account for the lack of an impact player.

Yes, if the Rams lose Donald, their defense will take two steps back.  Same for Ramsey.

Kupp is their main possession guy, or at least was with Goff.  Not sure what chemistry he'll have with Stafford.

All I know is that I'd rather be in the Cards' situation than the Rams right now and going forward.

 

4 Trading Russell Wilson?

I got back and while out I was listening to sports talk radio and once again heard the rumors of a Russell Wilson trade.  I see the article above by Vince, he feels that this is unlikely but not impossible.  I know that their are some Seattle fans that comment on various FO articles, I would love to hear their opinion.

If I am reading over the cap correctly, and matching up Super Bowl winners no QB in the past decade (I did not go back further) has won a Super Bowl with a QB cap hit in the top 5.

I have made this argument many times before, others have commented too, especially regarding Mahomes.  What are the Chiefs with a massive Mahomes cap hit and no Kelce or Hill, or for that matter, with all of the above, and little money for offensive line and defense?  Time will tell.

I also have commented a number of times that winning the Super Bowl has a certain luck factor.  My comment that Brady is the GOAT and also the luckiest QB ever, brought about what can arguably be the most spirited discussion by fans on FO.   At the very least, it was one of the most spirited in my opinion.

However, the luck factor largely goes away if I take 5 teams to win the Super Bowl, and if I take the five highest paid QB's, I still do not have a Super Bowl win (someone please correct me if I am wrong).

So my final points:

1.  Trading Russell Wilson may not be so crazy, his cap hit is outrageous

2.  If you want DeShaun Watson at his upcoming years of cap hit combined with what you must trade away, he is all yours, I want no part.  

3.  Others have argued that this point was overrated, but I will make it again, a large part of the New England Patriot success was the Brady discount.  

4.  The never ending saga here in Baltimore, when will the Ravens sign Lamar Jackson and at what price?  For me, I see no urgency, he plays next year on his rookie deal and then the Ravens can option year 5.  Why decide now?  

5.  Same point as item (3) above for Josh Allen.  One thing that I can say about Jackson and Allen is that they have by no means shown the consistency of Brady, Manning, Brees, Rodgers, Wilson, Roethlisberger, Rivers and others.  

 

 

 

 

10 This is brought up yearly if not more

The Seahawks are good because of Russ. Trading him, especially if he doesn't want out, is asinine taking $39m in dead money just because he's inside the arbitrary "top 5" cutoff. Brady was literally 4th this season. Mahomes isn't top 5 until 2023.These guys dont grow on trees 

12 RW.

It depends on where you sit as a Seattle fan.

As an outsider who watches all teams in the NFL, I think Russell is tired of feeling undervalued by the franchise and specifically Pete.  Seeing Brady win another SB and his first year in the NFC probably pushed him further down this road.

Fiscally, it would be smarter to trade Wilson and rebuild with picks and perhaps construct a new LOB.

As a Cardinals fan, I would love Seattle to ship Russ out of town and help my team's odds.

 

15 Other than ego jousting,…

In reply to by DIVISION

Other than ego jousting, there is no reason for the Seahawks to trade Wilson.

 

It would incur an absurd cap hit. They are unlikely to get an equivalent QB for decades and their trade for Jamal Adams telegraphed that this team is in win now mode. 

17 From the outside looking in...

...we don't know what's really going on.  Obviously, RW is unsatisfied and he made it public.

Pete does not want to hand the offense over to Wilson.  We understand that.  How long will Russell tolerate this before he actually makes a trade demand?

I don't see Seattle winning a SB with Russell Wilson based on the team's lack of ability in placing enough impact players around him.  The O-line still sucks.  Their defense is leaky all over; feast or famine.  They needed JJ Watt as much as the Cards do.

 

18 Comments on responses to all Russell Wilson comments

1.  Brady was tied for 5th in QB salary (according to over the cap), he was listed as 6th, I should have looked in greater detail.

2.  Correcting my own numbers, Eli Manning was the 5th highest cap hit when the NYG won the Super Bowl after the 2011 season, and Peyton Manning was the number 2 cap hit when Denver won the Super Bowl after the 2015 season.

3.  Five is an arbitrary number, so I went back; if you go back to the top 4 then you lose half of 2020 Brady (tied for fifth) and Eli Manning and all you are left with is Peyton Manning.  If you go to 6 you add no one, so at 5 you have maximized your championships per high cap hit QB.

4.  If I told you before each season to pick 5 teams to win the Super Bowl, I would think that you should be able to get this correct a decent percentage of the time.  If you chose the top 5 salary cap QB hits in each year, you would have been right 2 1/2 time in 50 tries in the last 10 years (given Brady tied for fifth and two others in the top 5 won).  That is 5%  Again, the number is worse if you pick the top 4 (1 in 50 QB years or 2% and if you pick the top 6 you have 2 1/2 championships out of 60 (4.1%). By sheer random chance you should win the Super Bowl 1/32 times which is 3.1%.  At the very least if I told you to pick 5 teams to win the Super Bowl, you would get it right more than 5% of the time I would certainly think, which is better than taking the top 5 QB cap hits.  

On the flip side:

1.  Yes so true, it is absurd to trade Russell Wilson due to dead cap money.  In other words, there are challenges involved when you have these massive QB contracts, and challenges if you try to unwind them.  

2.  These guys do not grow on trees, you are so right and that is the whole problem.  When you pass on paying out these mega contracts (no one has correct?), you miss out on possibly being good for a decade beyond the rookie contract (GB, NO, Pitt and now Seattle is well on their way).   

 

The QB contract is crucial in determining both short and long term success.  I am waiting for some GM to have the guts to walk after a rookie contract of a successful QB (I think that I will be waiting a very long time) so we do not have situations such as these:

2017 top cap hit QB's

1.  Joe Flacco

2.  Carson Palmer

3.  Kirk Cousins

4.  Matt Ryan

5.  Ryan Tannehill (Not the current version of Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins version of Ryan Tannehill)

2018 top cap hit QB's

1.  Jimmy Garoppolo

2.  Matthew Stafford

3.  Derek Carr

4.  Joe Flacco

5.  Andrew Luck

Moving forward:

1.  The Ravens and Bills fate wait in the balance as they decide upon the fates of Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen.  All GM's seem to like dishing out the big bucks to QB's with success during their rookie contracts.  I say too early on both. 

2.  Dak Prescott and DeShaun Watson will be playing somewhere for multiple years, I say let the buyer beware.

19 Regarding the Ravens and Bills...

I think Lamar Jackson has peaked or is somewhere around his max talent level.  He doesn't have a great arm and is a run-first QB.  He's going in to his fourth year now.  People compare him to Kyler Murray.  Murray has a great long-ball and can actually throw in some tight windows when needed.  Jackson fits the Ravens' run-heavy scheme, but they won't win a SB with him playing at this level.

Josh Allen has improved significantly from year two to year three.  I see him improving again this year.  I don't know what his ceiling is.

Dak and DaShaun are both overrated based on their stats playing on bad teams.  I think Watson is slightly better than Dak but I think he's about tapped his ceiling. 

22 Think you're overthinking

Russ, specifically, is the reason they're successful. He's a 7x pro bowler that's led his team to at least 9-7 every year of his career and the playoffs 8/9 years. Despite their defense fluctuating. Despite the OL never being that great. Etc. He is truly the reason they have even sniffed the playoffs. 

Subjecting yourself to being QBless and trying to find something similar isn't how to run a franchise. Outside of Brady, it isn't uncommon to "only" win ~1 SB. But in a single elimination sport like this, that isn't how you should judge a QB. But he IS the reason they're competitive every year and that alone puts them in position for a a ring every year. Ditching him, and those like him, to chase cheaper options, isn't the way while the game is QB dependent. You're subjecting yourself to a mystery box when the other option is a boat. Russ is a boat, so spend a few more bucks on it. 

Brady was 4th with incentives. He's also the 2nd highest paid player of all time behind Brees. He'll likely have passed him in a years time (Brady started as a lowly 6th rounder and Brees a 2nd rounder, why Brady started off slowly). But to suggest if your QB doesn't give a (slight) discount, to dump him and get some mystery boxes would be ill advised in this QB driven game. Unless you're ok wandering the desert, you're playing with fire.

Buyers should beware of how they spend money elsewhere, not on Dak or Deshaun (you dont have to capitalize the s btw). Teams don't win because their QB has a high cap hit, it's usually because they don't know how to surround him. Telling themselves RBs are worth it. The trenches still being overvalued/pass catchers and defenders being undervalued. Etc. Well that, and I will stress it again, it's a single elimination tournament. Bradys dominance accounts for so much but he's an anomaly. You think the Patriots regret let him go last year? They better. Bucs meanwhile dont care a single effffffff what they paid him/are going to. And his buddies like Gronk and AB too (hmmm Brady realized pass catchers are important and asked for them and not an upgrade to his blind side OT).

And the Cowboys specifically wouldn't be in this situation of paying Dak "too much" had they already signed him...2 years ago! But they didn't and that's the risk they took. Instead they paid LBs and a RB. Asinine. 

That doesn't meaning paying a QB is riskless. It's not. But the alternative is so much scarier. Hoping you stumble upon another rookie as good. Because we know the other parts of the game aren't as stable. Dont worry about cap hits of the most important position. They'll be quickly passed up. Start worrying how you're gonna support the most important position (aka get them some pass catchers unlike NE got Brady, wait a min...hmmm).

In conclusion, yeah it would be crazy if Seattle traded an elite QB for anything less than another elite QB. Who cares about his cap hit being 3rd this coming season. Then 5th. Then 3rd again. He'll likely get bumped down out of whatever arbitrary threshold yall use because that's how markets work. It was briefly discussed here, last year. 

23 Thanks for a great article

First I will state that I do see both sides of this discussion, that is why in my earlier post I stated: On the flip side...

QB's were systematically underpaid according to the article you referenced through 2017.  In 3 years a lot has changed. The article mentions 2018 as a turning point.  I could probably think of 100 questions for the author.  Discussions such as these is part of what makes FO great.  

As far as this particular article about the NFC West, if Murray gets paid hugely in a few years, we may have 4 QB's in one division that get paid like hall of famers. 

Lets add DeShawn Watson to the "paid like hall of famers list."  Soon we can add Dak Prescott.

Wilson is different in that when he was given the big bucks he was on a hall of fame track, a track which I still believe that he is on, maybe without ever playing another game.  Yes, I agree, you have your boat.  The same for Mahomes, but still there was no need to pre-empt with Mahomes, KC could have waited until now to do a deal, maybe even longer.  If Wilson is your boat, Mahomes may be your airplane.

QB's are illiquid assets, it is difficult and painful to unwind a bad contract.  I believe that the way QB contacts are going, many teams in a few years will feel as if they own commercial real estate in a major city during a pandemic.

For example, if Jackson, Allen and Murray do not improve in the next two years (three for Murray) I am hopping off of the horse and finding a new cheaper one.  I am not riding these horses at $40-$45M per year or more.  This is why I believe that Baltimore and Buffalo have a two year window of opportunity, and Arizona has a three year window.  Everyone is not going to make the hall of fame.

Yes, I am a Ravens fan, and if Jackson does not improve, thank you for 5 wonderful years and best of luck.

I've already mentioned 9 QB's who are/are likely to be paid like hall of famers, I have not even mentioned our elder statesman, Brady, Brees (retired?), Rodgers, Roethlisberger.  That is 13.  Brissett/Rivers at over $40M.  What odds did the Colts have for a championship?

At some point I believe that the QB market becomes rational, and I believe that in a rational QB market there is no room for a mediocre QB getting what is now $20-$30M or more. (Jimmy G, Cousins, Stafford, Bridgewater, Goff, Wentz).  Not sure what Billy Joel would say about these guys but I say:

Who needs a QB in this range, is that what you get with your money?

They seems such a waste of time

If that's what its all about

If that's moving up

Then I'm moving out.

 

My conclusion is that yes, I can see emptying the bank account for a hall of fame QB, but not for anything less. 

24 As long as the league is QB dependent

there doesn't seem to be a ceiling for the elite QB pay. The rules are as such, abuse them and keep that QB passing. Invest in pass catching options and those that defend it like DBs and flourish. It might not be the elite QB that's overpaid and hampering your roster. Things like CEH in the 1st, Frank Clarks contract, paying Chris Jones maaaay be the issue more so. And keep Russ away from Chicago. Or teams can pay chicken like Dallas is doing with Dak and watch the price increase by $10m AAV instead of the Goff/Wentz contract he could have been on already. But there's no such thing as HOF money when the market is always increasing.

25 Markets that always increase

Based on the article that you referenced, in 2018, the QB market started to correct for underpaying QB's.  Now the market may be overshooting.  Markets correct.  The stock market increases, until it corrects and goes down, the real estate market increases, until it corrects and goes down.  In the long run these markets go up.  I imagine that if the rules stay this way the QB market will continue to go up in the long run, but there is a point at which an asset is overvalued, and I think we are already at that point with the mediocre QB's.

Smart teams have a propensity to buy undervalued assets and sell overvalued ones at any position.  Its part of the success story of the Ravens who have had one year in their 25 year history of excellent QB play (2019).  It is part of the success story of New England, GB, NO and Pittsburgh, who have all had great QB play.  It is part of the success story of Seattle in the Russell Wilson era. For these 5 teams it is not just the QB.  Just getting the QB was part of the brilliance, Roethlistberger was the highest QB pick of these 5 teams at pick number 11 in his draft, and Rodgers was the second highest pick at number 24 of his draft class.  The other 3 went in the 2nd, 4th and 6th rounds.

 

27 I mean inflation

Numbers are always going to go up so I'm not sure "HOF" contracts look like when they'll be passed up quickly, especially if you do it early. It'll become a bargain before your eyes unless you play this cat and mouse game like Dallas is doing. They paid a RUNNING BACK before their QB that BEAT that RB in OROTY...who wasn't even expiring before Dak (should've selected Jalen Ramsey anyway at #4, and that's not hindsight as much as I loved seeing Zeke tear the CFP up). THAT was the wrong move that forces them to feel like they can't pay Dak that much, when they should've already...and they would have a steal right now if they did. 

I've already said Brady as a 6th rounder is anomaly counting for an astounding 7 out of the last 20 SBs and 10/20 SB appearances. That's not being matched for a long time. Russ was a 3rd rounder though and closer to a 2nd than 4th. Brees was indeed a 2nd rounder but at #32, which is a 1st nowadays.

Either way, you're still giving up a boat for a mystery box. If you're giving up a tickets to a comedy club, sure go for a mystery box, but why pass on the boat just because it'll take a little more time/effort/money to store it? For as many hits there are at QB (and any position really) there are 10x as many misses. 

If the Ravens were smart, they get out in front of the Lamar deal (instead of watching his price increase or leave for a measly 3rd round comp pick...maybe). They'd pay him before he demands more than Baker, Allen, Murray, etc. The dude won a freakin MVP with his leading WR being Hollywood Brown...a freakin rookie. Why not pay him something like 4 yrs, $158,629,808, get him an actual WR1, and watch him be passed over in salary and become a bargain with his new weapon(s)? Oh but that requires them to stop picking LBs and RBs as their first 2 picks. Mark Ingram was sufficient enough even though Dobbins was technically better. Positional...value. Love this short article that gives a glimpse on the NFL and how things are run and by what position and how to attack things. 

28 Another great article

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I have been looking for something such as this article that analyzes positional value. I have saved it for future reference.  A safety more valuable than a CB.  Interesting, we think of the shutdown cover corner as gold.  The article is analyzing top 10 players at a position so that would include all of the shutdown corners.  There is a less valuable position than running back?  Who knew?  Despite this, I will still not give up on my hobby of bashing RB's.

You can not imagine how angry I was when the Ravens drafted Dobbins, I could care less who the Ravens have at RB. Gus Edwards is just as effective and he was an undrafted free agent.  To trade away Hayden Hurst for the pick, UGH.

Patrick Queen I believe rated out by Pro Football Focus as the 2nd worst linebacker in the NFL. Whatever it was, it was bad. He is lost in coverage.  This is not Ray Lewis at MLB, nor Terrell Suggs at any linebacker position.

The Zeke Elliot situation I have commented on a number of times during the year.  This contract is a disaster regardless of what the QB situation is.  So now Dallas has a RB who played like garbage this year, and if he played well, so what.  

Derrick Henry, so overrated.  That was a random comment that has nothing to do with our conversation, just keeping my hobby of bashing running backs, the SECOND least valuable position on the field (the article you shared taught me some things for sure).

OK, Russ was a 3rd rounder I made a mistake, even upgrading him a round, he was still supposed to be worse than Gino Smith.

I like your idea of 4 years $158 million for Jackson, the problem is that I think that the market will give him more, way more actually.  I would not give him more as you know.  I think that his market value is already more than Baker, Allen, Murray, etc.   I like the 4 years, as that is not a lifelong commitment and some is under rookie cap hit money, I am not sure how it would work.  I have said many times that I expect Jackson to have a shelf life somewhere between a QB and RB, this does not mean injury, it means being washed up at age 32-34, no Brady, Brees, Manning, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, etc. longevity here.  

His arm will not be washed up at that age, but he is making a living with his legs.

Where will the Ravens get a WR1.  In the draft?  Look at the AFC North article.  Marquise Brown is the best WR the Ravens have ever drafted.  This can not even be argued, there is no one else worth talking about.  Free agent? Like QB's, WR1's do not grow on trees.  No free agent receiver #1 diva will come to this run first attack.  Unless you over over over pay.  WR1 of years past, sure, this year it was Dez Bryant, is next year A J Green?  Marvin Jones age 31, is more Raven's like.  The Ravens have not figured out the WR position, a pair of 3's does not beat an ace.

I understand with regards to the missing on QB picks, if I remember correctly there was a FO article this year that stated that the average 1st round QB is Mark Sanchez, and the average 2nd round QB is Gino Smith.

Yes you can not trade the boat for the mystery box (I have never watched Family Guy, my friends tell me that I would love it, and from your clip, I do love it!!), the box has lots of ugly surprises, Jamarcus Russell, the variety pack of Cleveland Browns QB's, the next coming of Ryan Leaf, etc.  Hmm, these are all tickets to the comedy club.

29 It's a baseline

and there are 3 main caveats with it: 

  1. it being only the top 10 instead of all players
  2. it being for just 2019 instead of other years
  3. it being the average and not the median

It could be CB is more valuable than S as the averages here aren't too far off each other. But the trenches? Those seem like too big of a gap to flip with DBs. DIs might be able to flip with RBs. Probably not with receivers though. 

Queen was indeed 82nd/83, but I think he'll be fine in the long run as they describe here, but the main point is you don't need a (future HOFr) Luke K to win. The Chiefs had just won with Damien Wilson and Anthony Hitchens (who also didn't stop them from picking Willie Gay Jr a couple months later). That and you can't follow it up with another questionably low value position, especially when your run game was already elite...thanks TO Lamar. 

Geno Smith is a good point as evaluating can be messy and why you should never over estimate your own scouting and be willing to trade back to get more stabs at it. 

But I don't think the market will give Lamar much more than that. Not even Watson could get near Mahomes. If Lamar want's more than Mahomes, then yeah, that might be the breaking point but he's probably only realistically looking at getting around Watson $. Same situations for DIs and Aaron Donalds pay. He's on another level they know they can't touch...yet at least. And if they wait, Lamar might reach it. Just like Dak is reaching heights Dallas...did...want him to reach?

You can extend players careers by the way you run things. Play action as we know is helpful regardless of almost any situation/QB, slowing down rushes. But is there a reason he won't last as long as those guys? Because in todays game you can't touch the QB so I think we'll continue to see QBs play into their old(er) age. Not that you need to think that far ahead.

Hollywood Brown is the best they've ever drafted? He's not the highest they have ever picked but you certainly can try throwing more darts (plural) at it in the draft. And once they get him/them they can pass more. They run more partly because the receivers aren't the greatest. Probably aren't running as much if you get Jamarr Chase. Or rather shouldn't at least (not that Jamarr will likely be there but thankfully, historically you can get Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, DK Metcalf and Chase Claypools in the 2nd).

30 You buy the boat, but you must buy the leaks that come with it

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Despite limited data, we do need to start somewhere and the article that you shared is a good starting point.   To your point, the value of a QB is leaps and bounds ahead of all other positions, so it weakens my argument dramatically in that the data suggest that you just have to suck it up and pay the QB. With downgrades at 5 or more other positions, you are still better off.

Wilson, Brady, Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger,(WBRBR) you can win a lot of games paying your boat with the pay downgrades at 5-10 positions. But with Lamar?  Mayfield?  Murray?  Allen?  Prescott?  Stafford?  Jimmy G?  etc etc etc.  I in the minority, I do not buy Watson at his price tag.  

Lamar will not win at anywhere near the current or the (WBRBR) rate without Orlando Brown and the defensive losses necessary to pay him in my opinion.   I guess this goes to my argument, you can win 2 Super Bowls with Russell Wilson at QB on a rookie deal, it gets challenging after that time.   Your boat is springing leaks, and it is impossible to patch all of the holes.  The ship stays afloat however.

I have heard your argument so many times about the cost of waiting like Dallas did with Prescott.  The price keeps going up.  Does my efficient market theory ever kick in?

As far as the more darts, NE, Baltimore and I believe GB are constantly trading down in the draft, they were 3 of the 6 teams that I mentioned for excellence, not as sure regarding Pitt, NO, and Seattle.

I like getting other views on Lamar, here in Baltimore the fans are going overboard.  I am glad to hear that you are sticking to his value, no this is not Mahomes, but find someone in Baltimore that thinks that Mayfield, Murray and Josh Allen are in the same ballpark.  The fact is that Lamar by DVOA/DYAR was in the Bridgewater, Roethlisberger, Fitzpatrick range for 2020, was great in 2019, and for a half season in 2018 was awful.  I do not expect awful anytime soon, the fumbling machine that he was in 2018 had to be a large part of his awful FO numbers.

Analytics are difficult in a team game, in 2018 the Ravens could not run for anything with Flacco at QB, then Lamar takes over and the offensive dynamic changed from then until now.  If you are going to use the inefficient run heavy offense, at least be among the best in the league at it as opposed to this years Texans and Chargers

Part of the problem here is Lamar's competition.  Joe Flacco and Vinny Testaverde were the best Ravens QB's of all time.  Again to your point, the Ravens won a Super Bowl in 2000 with the Tony Banks Trent Dilfer combo, they dumped Dilfer (look at his numbers, he was worth dumping) and for 7 years had so many scrub QB's headed by Kyle Boller that I can not name them all, they are all worth forgetting.  The comedy of errors club.

Marquise the best WR drafted ever in Baltimore.  Robert Weintraub wrote the article, he did his homework there is no argument on earth.  Here are the first rounders in history:   Breshad Perriman 2015, Mark Clayton 2005, (not to be confused with Miami Dolphins Mark Clayton), Travis Taylor 2000.  I can not even name a 2nd - 7th rounder other than the current roster of Miles Boykin, Chris Moore, Devin Duvernay, James Proche.  All are forgotten. The forgotten ones will not be found in "Who's Who among NFL wide receivers" instead try "Who sucked among NFL wide receivers."

Brady was always a bargain.  We will see what happens going forward when he is not winning over 35% of the Super Bowls and appearing in over 50% of them.

I'll sum up with the main feature of our discussion.  No one has yet to abandon ship on a QB that has had success on a rookie contract.  You buy the boat, the challenge is fixing the leaks that spring up.  This challenge has been difficult/impossible to overcome but yet still may be better than the alternative.  There are a lot of comedy clubs out there.

 

32 There's a divide

in talent.

Specifically Lamar has dealt, again, with no WRs of appropriate quality. Doesn't matter the franchises history of drafting them, Hollywood Brown isn't likely a WR1. That's fine for him. Not so much for the team and Lamar. Orlando Brown wants to be paid. If you're choosing him and a mystery box over Lamar, you're playing with fire rejecting the premise you set out for yourself in the first paragraph. Just like Dallas did. And it's biting them. Instead of getting him on a contract like Goff/Wentz and reaping the benefits, they're paying him by year and it keeps going up. 

You just bought the boat and are ditching it for perhaps comedy club tickets. In this world, the boat is the most valuable thing. Watson is appropriate value. They Hopkins and Tunsil trades were not. 

 

34 4 years 158.6 million-I am a buyer at that price

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

If that is your offer, I accept it in a heartbeat.  The boat that I am buying is a one of a kind speedboat.  I am willing to pay that price.  The difference between this boat and the Russell Wilson boat purchased after his rookie contract, is that my speedboat already has many more cracks and leaks in his game than Wilson ever had.

I will not buy a speedboat for the price of a cruise ship.  If I do, I will be spending many years at the comedy club that is on the cruise ship and I will not be laughing.  Instead, I will be the butt of all jokes.

I am hoping you are right about the 4 years 158.6M.  After much back and forth I think we agree in principal except for the price of the boat.  I believe that the price is much greater.  I can not even estimate a price, I am doing an appraisal, but their are no comparable boats. Lamar is a one of a kind player.  By that I do not mean he is the best player, simply there is no track record of a QB that has run so much in so few games and is a QB that does not make all of the throws required of a good/very good/great NFL QB.

Yes a WR1 would sure help, that does not appear to be part of the equation for next year, Hollywood Brown is not nor will he be a WR1. I believe it was FO that gave a stat during the season, at which point he had 6 drops and 4 broken tackles. BLAHHHHHH!!

You have proven that the boat is worth more than a RT and 4 defensive players and that is why I say that we agree in principal.  I think that my boat will not withstand additional cracks and leaks caused by losing my RT and 4 defensive players once the rookie cap hit ends.  This is an as is sale and I will take it as you proposed and hope for the best.  You reminded me of the Kyle Boller and cast of many comedian QB's of yesteryear, so I have to buy the boat and hope it can withstand the rough seas ahead.

Edit:  I think its only fair that I add in a price tag:  7 years $280M.  You buying the speedboat at cruise ship price?   

36 I'm confused now

You think Russell Wilsons 2nd contract was bad? Because I'd say it was good. So is this 3rd one. Same with Rodgers. Same with a lot of elite QBs. The talent around them changes but that's the importance of spending draft capital on important positions. And other free agent dollars. They adapt and their cap hits aren't the biggest worry. It's others players. Non blindside tackles and 4 defensive players are easier to replace (through the draft) than an elite QB. There's downsides to every contract. 

7y280m for who now?

37 7 year 280M

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Jackson   I think that he holds all the cards.  Maybe an overshoot but I think that you are too low.  I would accept your deal if I am the Ravens in 2 seconds.  As I say we now agree in principle on the rest except the price of the boat.

38 That's unusual

In reply to by jheidelberg

Only the Mahomes of the world get long term contracts like that. It'll be a standard 4/5 year extension. 

39 This article agrees with you but goes higher than you

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

5 years 212.5M.  I am still jumping at your offer, I can deal with 5 years, I fear longer.  Mahomes was certainly not typical but of course he is far from a typical QB.  I fear Lamar's MVP season may get him over 5. 

https://www.profootballnetwork.com/calculating-lamar-jackson-next-contract-baltimore-ravens/

40 The only way it'll be 7 years

Is if they count the 2 years remaining on his deal, so 2+5=7. 

If they want to be smart, they'll get out in front of it as many believe (incorrectly) that Allen is better and they won't want to have to top him when it comes to negotiations. Get the deal done first then watch Allen get more (and perhaaaaps even Baker), then who ever else is up after that will pass him shortly. That and start drafting better. Oh and just ask Ronnie Stanley to play RT so OBJ can stay at LT. Win-win.

42 That's usually the language they use

Like Mahomes got a 10 dealyear plus the last 2 years of his rookie contract = 12 year total but that's not how they break it. It's just a 10 year extension. Dak wanted a standard 4 year deal, (dumb) Dallas wanted 5.  So yeah an extension of 4. Annoying when people combine them when breaking the news. 

33 I like this analysis of…

I like this analysis of positional value. It ends up with 2 ways of ranking the positions,

one based on PFF stats:

QB >>>>>>
WR >>
TE >
G, CB ≥
DI, ED, C, S ≥
T, LB >
RB

and one based on SIS stats:

QB >>>>
WR, DE >>
TE, DT, LB ≥
S, T, G, ≥
CB, RB >
C

31 Agree.

I wonder if we're going to see a pattern of GM's letting young QB's walk after their first contract unless they are upper echelon by then?

Lamar Jackson can be the test case.  I'm not convinced he's better than what we've already seen and I realize people are saying he doesn't have the benefit of having a Hopkins or Diggs.  I think Baltimore missed their window two years ago similar to how the Niners missed theirs with Jimmy G.  At least Mahomes was able to go 1-1 in SB's during the Chief's current window.  I don't forsee them getting back this year.

Brady could be the last of his kind.  He may play until he's 50.

9 so

no one in the NFC west has a secondary?

13 Zenster.

In reply to by zenbitz

Cards are set at safety but need CB depth because they're letting Peterson go.  

Most of these guys are FA's, but I suspect many will be resigned.

I also want the Cards to actually use some of the guys they already have on the roster and give them a chance.  Worst comes to worst you just upgrade the position during the year.  

 

20 Solution

In reply to by zenbitz

Each team should sign the CBs not being re-signed by the other teams.  Call it the Secondary Shuffle.

26 Great idea -- with historical precedent

DB Gary Fencik was a featured performer in the original Super Bowl Shuffle.  I remember reading a funny parody of the video (in SI maybe? not going to look it up) which lightly poked fun at Mr. Fencik's background, something like this to my memory:

My name is Fencik, I went to Yale

Tadd and Doug flew in from Vail

Missy and Muffy blew me big kisses

Beating Harvard was never like this is

We won the game by over 30

I didn't even get my uniform dirty

I'm not here to throw some blocks

I'm just here for some Super Bowl stocks

35 Cap Constraints.

https://overthecap.com/salary-cap-space/

According to the site, the Niners are in a good place with $25.5M in cap space, but they don't have a QB.  I think that's the elephant in the room.  Shanahan is great, but poor QB play and injuries have set them back.

The Cards have $12.5M in space, however have several FA's they need to resign or replace, but still not a bad situation.

The Hawks are severely limited with $4.5M in space, but similar to the Cards still have several FA they'll need to resign/replace.

The Rams are in cap hell, eternally.  I was shocked to see that they're $35M over the cap and will still need to resign several key pieces of their D-line and secondary.  How will they make that work?  

As an overview when we look at parity year to year, finances, injuries and player movement all dictate how a division shakes out.

I see a bit of regression for the Hawks and major regression for the Rams.  The Niners could rebound to lead the division.  The Cardinals are primed to make a move as well this year.