Joe Schoen, Duke Tobin and the Combine Decoder Ring
NFL Offseason - INDIANAPOLIS - Aaron Rodgers? No comment! Russell Wilson? Yesterday’s news! Justin Fields? You’ll have to ask the boss! Kyle Trask? Why, he's practically Tom Brady 2.0!
Walkthrough has well over a decade of experience getting lied to at scouting combine press conferences. So we brought our Top Secret Scouting Combine Decoder Rings to Indianapolis to translate vague and misleading remarks by NFL coaches and executives into news you can use.
Green Bay Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst on Aaron Rodgers
What He Said: “Before we get started, I know there are going to be a lot of questions about Aaron. We haven’t really had those conversations yet. There’s not a lot to report until we have those conversations.”
What He Meant: Help. My franchise is being held hostage by an utter moonbat. See me blinking in Morse code? I can't even set a team budget right now because this dude insists on acting like some junior high edgelord. Please send help.
When asked whether he had any communication with Aaron Rodgers, Gutekunst said, “We’ve exchanged some texts. But we haven’t had a chance to speak yet.” Texting with Rodgers must be like tentatively texting a former lover who asked for “a little space” three weeks ago and then vanished. “Hey, just reaching out to see how you are doing.” [Left unread for two days.]
“We’re going through our process as normal,” Gutekunst said about trying to plan for free agency without knowing Rodgers’ status. “Obviously, free agency is coming up and that’s an important part of what we’re doing. It would be nice to have some answers before then. But until we have those conversations, we’re still in a good spot.”
Translation: Rodgers has spent so many offseasons playing hard-to-get with the Packers that Gutekunst has developed Stockholm Syndrome. He likes not knowing, two weeks before free agency, whether his team is rebuilding or contending, darn it! It's practically a kink at this point!
New York Jets GM Joe Douglas on the Aaron Rodgers chatter
What He Said: “This is the season when we talk to a lot of GMs. We talk about a lot of different scenarios, and not just quarterbacks. I’ve had a lot of productive discussions with multiple GMs around the league. So that’s probably a good question for Brian to answer.”
What He Meant: If Rodgers sees his name connected with the Jets in any on-the-record capacity he’s gonna ghost on all of us for three months out of sheer spite.
Douglas, of course, is not allowed to discuss players on other teams’ rosters. But give him credit for answering in the most mobbed-up uncle way possible.
Douglas on the Derek Carr Chatter
Douglas had more to say about Derek Carr, who is here in Indy meeting with teams this week. It helps that Carr is an actual free agent, so Douglas is allowed to talk about him.
What He Said: “Obviously, we are going to be exploring the veteran free-agent quarterback market this offseason. We are going to look at every available option and we are going to make the best decision for the Jets.”
What He Meant. Obviously, the Jets are going to be exploring the veteran free-agent quarterback market this offseason. Douglas is going to look at every available option and make the best decision for the Jets.
The most interesting thing about the Jets press conference was that Douglas publicly signaled to Carr, Rodgers and others that the team is ready to open up the coffers. “We have a lot of flexibility,” he said. “We hardly have any money prorated into the future on our salary cap. So we have great flexibility to create very large amounts of cap space.’
Minnesota Vikings QB Kwesi Adofo-Mensah on a Justin Jefferson extension
What He Said: “I don’t want to be the Vikings GM without that guy on our team. So it’s a high priority.”
What He Meant: Imma cut every veteran defender that ownership allows me to cut and give ALL the money to Jefferson if I can.
Adofo-Mensah sung the praises of new Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores at length, noting several times that Flores excels at coaching up young defenders and that his blitz-intensive style doesn’t match the Vikings current personnel. That’s bad news for the current Vikings personnel, most notably aging defenders like Erik Kendricks, Jordan Hicks and Harrison Smith who are looking more and more like cap casualties.
Denver Broncos GM George Paton on Russell Wilson
What He Said: “Russ has moved forward. We’ve all moved forward. We’ve talked about last year: it’s well documented, it didn’t go our way, and it’s not all his fault. We’re all to blame. We have to improve. We have to move on. And with Sean [Payton] here, and our new staff, I think that we will.”
What He Meant: Why are you even asking me questions? I’m a glorified Conference USA scout these days!
Walkthrough won’t be transcribing Broncos coach Sean Payton’s thoughts, because Payton sounded like a late-night talk-show host on his fourth Scotch both on Tuesday morning and at his introductory press conference. Once stern and extremely focused, Payton tends to ramble off topic these days. He sounds a lot like a retired principal called back in to run a failing school district who realizes that it will be easier to collect his salary and offer homespun wisdom than attempt to accomplish anything. Which is essentially what Payton is right now.
Anyway, Paton did say that the Broncos plan to upgrade their offensive line and add a running back. What resources he plans to use to make those upgrades is anyone’s guess, since the team has poured all of its money and draft picks into Payton and Russell Wilson.
Let's wrap the Broncos segment with Paton's thoughts on new quarterback coach Davis Webb, making the leap from playing to coaching at just 28. “When he walks in the room, he lights up the room." The only other candidate for the thankless task of keeping Wilson anchored to planet earth was Mary Tyler Moore, who could turn the world on with her smile.
Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beene on Former Protege Joe Schoen
What He Said: “They had to clear their cap space, similar to what we had to do in 2018. Now it’s about spending responsibly. They have some cap dollars. And I know they have some key free agents they are working on. The biggest thing now is understanding how you got in that spot. When he took over, what were the reasons they were having some cap issues, and making sure you don’t put yourself back there, going forward, where you have to hit a reset again.”
What He Meant: Schoen’s about to play some hardball with Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones.
Beane mentioned in his press conference that he had recently spoken to Schoen, and it sure sounds like he’s spilling a few drops of tea about how Schoen plans to go about the Barkley/Jones negotiations.
But let’s allow Schoen to speak for himself.
Joe Schoen on Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley
What He Said: “We’d like to have them both back. They both know how we feel about them. And we’re still working through it … It’s gotta be right for both parties. I say it with you guys all the time: there are if-then scenarios. We’re going through those. If it gets outta hand and it’s out of our comfort zone, we have the tag. We can only tag one player. We’ll use that. And if someone’s gotta walk, that’s unfortunate. But that’s part of the business. And we’re still building a team.”
What He Meant: Imma tag Dimes and let Saquon blast off to Planet Duval before I put this team right back where it was when I got here.
Schoen said he has had productive daily in-person conversations with Jones’ agent. There’s apparently an offer on the table for Barkley, but there’s a “gap” that must be bridged.
Schoen was reluctant to talk about rookie quarterbacks but also poured icewater on the suggestion that the Giants should extend Barkley because he’s such an awesome all-around dude. “Walter Payton Man of the Year? I love that about him. But you also have to look at production, durability, games played, production, versus other comps through the league and see where they land from a financial standpoint. And we’ve gotta draw a line in the sand.”
Put it all together and it's clear that Schoen is using the tag as a cudgel to keep Jones' demands reasonable and has a like-it-or-lump-it number for Barkley. And that's how he should be doing things. It’s still refreshing to listen to a Giants general manager who doesn’t actively troll the press pool while passing off outdated or outright-dumb talk radio talking points as old-timey wisdom.
Buccaneers GM Jason Licht on “Taking a Step Back” Due to Cap Constraints
What He Said: “I don’t wanna say, ‘taking a step back.’ We’re still trying to restock and, eventually, build and another championship team. It’s just gonna look a little different and be done a little bit differently.”
What He Meant: We’re pretty much spending 2023 in a cap coma.
Licht on Kyle Trask’s Potential As the Buccaneers Starter
What He Said: “We’re very excited about Kyle. We’re excited about getting him the opportunity to be a starter. I would be very comfortable with that … We didn’t take him in the second round just to be a third-string quarterback. Now, it’s yet to be seen what he turns out to be. But we’re confident that it’s going to be very good,”
What He Meant: We’re pretty much spending 2023 in a cap coma.
Licht outlined Trask’s strengths: “He can throw the ball very well. He’s changed his body a little bit, just from being in the NFL with our strength and conditioning staff. He looks more athletic to me than he did at college. He can get out of trouble in the pocket. He’s accurate. He’s smart, he works hard, and he has all the traits that you are looking for in a quarterback.”
Wow. The Buccaneers had Josh Allen on the bench behind Tom Brady and Blaine Gabbert. Who knew? Apparently not Todd Bowles:
NFL Network: "Kyle Trask, if you had to play a game right now, is your quarterback?"
Todd Bowles: "He's the only quarterback we have." https://t.co/5knlYiZe9r
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 28, 2023
Cincinnati Bengals GM Duke Tobin on Tee Higgins Trade Speculation
What He Said: “I’m not in the business of making other teams better. I’m in the business of making the Cincinnati Bengals better. So trading Tee Higgins is not on my mind … That’s their problem. They want a receiver, go find your own. In my opinion, Tee Higgins is a good piece for the Cincinnati Bengals, so the trade stuff is a little ridiculous right now.”
What He Meant: We’re waiting to hear back from the bank about a bridge loan using Joe Burrow’s humidor as collateral.
Tobin also punted on questions about a Joe Burrow contract extension: “We are going to worry about it first, and then we’ll see when it gets done. Maybe it’s the first piece to come. maybe it’s the last.”
Oooh boy. It sounds a little like the Bengals plan to let the clock run, enter 2023 with Burrow playing under the fourth year of his rookie contract, keep Higgins, try to win a Super Bowl, and see what happens next. What could happen next for the cash-strapped Bengals is that they end up being the first team to blow up a championship-caliber roster because they could not figure out how to pay their franchise quarterback his first big contract, as opposed to some mid-career extension. The 2023 Bengals season will be like the nickel-slots version of the Rams’ all-in year.
Sorry, Bengals fans, but the Bengals are preparing to do some Bengals stuff.
Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus on Justin Fields
What He Said (in response to the direct question: Are you ready to commit to Justin Fields?): “We’re in the process of evaluation of everything right now. Justin had a really good year last year. We’re excited where his progress is. Just like everyone else, he’s looking to improve his game, as we are as a football team.”
What He Meant: That decision is above my pay grade. But as a defense-oriented coach, I prefer pocket quarterbacks who excel at setting up long punts.
Bears GM Ryan Poles, speaking at a separate press availability in a hotel down the street from the Indianapolis Convention Center, said on Tuesday of entering the season with Fields as a starter: "That's the plan, right now." He also noted that the Bears are “doing their homework” on the rookie quarterback class.
Why not just beg for offers for Fields, fellas?
As for what Eberflus wants Fields to improve upon if he returns: “Take what the defense gives you. I know that’s coach-talk. But that’s what he needs to do. He’s obviously a tremendous athlete and can do a lot of different things. When we call a designed run, sure, you can run it there. Third down, or critical situations in the red zone? Certainly do it there. But on first and second down, early in the game, let’s just take what the defense gives you and then move on.”
Ah, so when the play actually matters or we want to gain some yardage, it’s fine for Fields to create with his feet. Otherwise, chuck it to double-covered Chase Freakin’ Claypool like coach drew it up. Operate in structure, young man, even if that structure was glued together out of broken popsicle sticks.
Sorry, Bears fans, but the Bears are preparing to do some Bears stuff.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah on Moving Forward with Kirk Cousins
And finally, the analytics-oriented KAM, who got into hot water when he was first hired for making some less-than-fawning statements about Kirk Cousins, decided to say almost the same darned things on Tuesday and see if anyone noticed.
What He Said: Let’s go ‘full numbers.’ You talk about necessary and sufficient conditions in math. A necessary condition is having a starter-level quarterback, a quarterback above a certain threshold. That doesn’t mean for-sure you’re going to win. That’s not the only thing you need. But that’s one of the things you need. Having a good-level quarterback is a necessary condition.
Kirk meets that threshold. So we know that. Now, how to you build the rest of the team around him so that you can win? Different quarterbacks require different things around them. But we know that, for sure, he meets that threshold. How long does he meet that threshold? Those are things we have to answer. Is there a chance to maybe add somebody with different skillsets. Those are all questions that we have to answer.
There is no one right way. But I do know one thing: he is good enough, he meets that threshold. And that’s a question that a lot of people can’t answer with a “yes.” And we treat that with the proper importance.
What He Meant: Kirk Cousins is insufficient. Unfortunately, he remains necessary.
79 comments, Last at 05 Mar 2023, 7:59pm
#1 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 28, 2023 - 6:20pm
Operate in structure, young man, even if that structure was glued together out of broken popsicle sticks.
They were using broken popsicle sticks delicately propped together like some kind of card trick.
#17 by Chuckc // Mar 01, 2023 - 9:18am
"Take what the defense gives you" is a far cry from "throw it into double coverage." That's a very creative interpretation of that quote. What he was actually saying was "don't risk your health or a turnover on early downs when you can give it another try on the next play."
#46 by coltsandrew // Mar 01, 2023 - 1:41pm
Let's say say you put them on this year's Keep Chopping Wood team. Would that hypothetical team be 9 wins or better by virtue of having Allen or Mahomes with 20 of the worst starters in the league? I'd say no, and would bet that given an opposing schedule of average strength, a team of the worst starters plus Mahomes would max out at three wins, and would be more likely to get zero wins than four wins. That wouldn't make Mahomes a bad QB, it just shows the importance of rostering at least adequate talent at the other positions. While QB is arguably the most crucial position in the modern NFL, a QB isn't a magical talisman that guarantees a certain number of wins simply by virtue of existing.
#63 by rh1no // Mar 01, 2023 - 4:08pm
Instead of putting these guys on a Keep Choppin' Wood team, let's put them on last year's league-worst Chicago Bears squad.
Do you think Patrick Mahomes is better than Justin Fields? I do. And I think it wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that Patrick Mahomes might help the Bears score one additional touchdown per game. Obviously, he's still going to be scrambling for his life behind the Bears' offensive line, ranked 32nd in Pass Blocking by FO. He's going to have a tough time finding Mooney and Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown in open space. But when you're going from a QB with a -34.5% DVOA to a QB with a 26.5% DVOA, you're going to see a measurable improvement in performance and, subsequently, points scored. Why? He's going to escape pressure and scramble for first downs. He's going to throw guys open. He's going to make plays happen.
Tacking on an additional 7 points to the Bears in each game takes them from 3-14 to 8-8-1, topping the Lions for second place in the NFC North.
Think going from league-worst QB to league-best QB isn't worth a full TD? We can argue about that, but let's assume he's worth only an additional 5 points per game. Now the Bears go from 3-14 to 6-8-1. That's quite a turnaround.
What If you put him on a poorly-coached team with talent on the line and at receiver? Looking at you, Raiders...
All of a sudden, Las Vegas starts to look like world-beaters, going 14-2-1 with an additional seven points per game.
You really think Mahomes can't find Devonte Adams in the end zone once more per game than Derek Carr? Okay, fine. At a 5 points per game improvement, Las Vegas is 12-3-2 and looking forward to a Wild Card win in Jacksonville.
There's a lot of parity in the NFL. Even bad teams have the talent to beat great teams on any given Sunday if they get the right breaks. Quarterback is the most impactful position related to the outcome of the game, so if you put an all-time great -- or even a top 5 guy of his generation -- on a bad team, it's going to affect the outcome of close games.
Obviously, if you take all the worst players on the league and ask the Mahomes or Allen -- or even Brady or Montana -- to lead that team, the results are going to be bad. But that isn't a realistic scenario. A realistic scenario sees some level of talent on each team in the league ... even the Browns and the Texans! Great signal-callers will elevate the play of their skill position players and help their offensive line by pointing out assignments, calling audibles when necessary, stepping up in the pocket, and getting rid of the ball instead of risking sacks. Those things extend drives and put points on the board. Points on the board put wins in the record books.
That's not a magic talisman, it's just common sense.
#69 by coltsandrew // Mar 01, 2023 - 7:27pm
I completely agree with you, but you appear to have missed my point, and the point that kicked off the thread. Having a HOF QB isn't a guarantee of success. FFS, Trent Dilfer has more super bowl rings than Dan Marino. It takes more than a good QB to consistently field a competitive playoff team, the rest of the roster matters
More to the point, the notion that teams should build a roster around a top-5 QB is generally dumb because that means 27 teams, each season, will fail to do so. Yes, a top-5 QB is very valuable, but that QB's value is derived from it's scarcity. If you can't get elite QB play, the only other strategy you can pursue is to build a roster around adequate QB play, and to that end it's worth pointing that one of the teams in the NFC championship was starting a third-string QB. They made it that far BECAUSE they built a roster that a non-elite QB could win with.
#3 by ArcLight // Feb 28, 2023 - 6:57pm
The Jets can cut a bunch of players, to pay for a new QB and Quinnen Williams.
But that means not being as good as last year in those positions.
The Jets with Carr are a 9-8 team.
Maybe 10-7 if Joe D has a good draft.
Not a strong playoff team by any means.
#5 by mehllageman56 // Feb 28, 2023 - 7:24pm
Um, no. They could cut Corey Davis and Carl Lawson and save 25 million in cap room. Losing Corey Davis doesn't hurt them much because Corey Davis is usually hurt, and they have three young receivers, one of which we know is good. The other two are maybe good because LaFleur hated them and played them out of position (Mims and Moore). Losing Lawson would hurt, but Williams is the main cog in that D-Line, and they would still have John Franklin-Meyers, as well as the potential of Jermaine Johnson and Michael Clemons. They might also cut Jordan Whitehead (7 million) or Braxton Berrios (5million), or extend people like Lawson and Mosley.
Their main problem is health (especially on the offensive line) and Zach Wilson. Considering Wilson costs 20 million against the cap and won't start, there's the Jets problems. If they sign Carr they could do better than 10-7, especially since they have 10 home games (one extra this year, and the Giants play the Jets at home this year). They may have a rough year after that, until they get out of Wilson's contract. They could also tank next year, which would be very Jets, but I think Rodgers is the worse play for them; his contract will destroy their cap flexibility for years, and I doubt he would lead them anywhere.
#18 by rh1no // Mar 01, 2023 - 9:29am
The Jets have a hell of a defense, and they might have squeaked into the playoffs last year if they had started Joe Freaking Flacco the whole season.
I agree that Carr is probably the best play for the Jets. He's almost certainly past his peak, but he may still have a few years left as a top 10 quarterback. I'm willing to gamble that his sudden decline in performance last year was more due to Josh McDaniels than to anything else. While I don't have a lot of faith in the Jets' staff to maximize his performance, I think 10-7 would be a very reasonable baseline for a Carr-led Jets team.
With Rodgers, we know his decline in performance is due to losing his battle with Father Time. Maybe pairing up with a young stud like Garrett Wilson will rejuvenate him. Maybe he can noodle-arm his way to a late-career Super Bowl behind a dominant defense. But paying a king's ransom for one year of his drama seems like too big a risk.
#33 by Travis // Mar 01, 2023 - 11:38am
Considering Wilson costs 20 million against the cap
Wilson costs $20 million against the cap for 2023 only if the Jets cut him; it's half that if they keep him on the roster. (He still hamstrings their 2024 cap for $11 million in this scenario.)
#4 by theslothook // Feb 28, 2023 - 7:03pm
Unless the Bears get blown away with a crazy offer; they would be best served drafting a QB with the first overall pick. Look, I fully acknowledge that Fields hasn't been given a fair shot. He's played two years with perhaps the worst collection of offensive talent in the league.
AND YET, after a disaster of a rookie season, he posted an even worse pass dvoa this year. Everyone here has already burried Zach Wilson and for good reason. Now, even if you think that's partially because to his lack of professionalism; his on the field play was bad enough to have that grave already dug. Frankly, to roll with Fields again means giving him a huge supporting grade curve + tons and tons of points for being an awesome rusher. Those are fair points to consider and Fields certainly could improve. But after two years of this, his career trajectory looks grim to me.
#6 by mehllageman56 // Feb 28, 2023 - 7:29pm
It wouldn't surprise me if Zach Wilson ends up having a comeback somewhere else, a la Geno Smith. The OC was badmouthing the kid left and right (check the Athletic article), and the Jets keep throwing new guys out there and the New York pit just eats them up. In other news, Sam Darnold had positive DVOA last year, after everyone buried him. The Jets have had QBs that worked out, but it's been a while and the team doesn't handle them the way the team handled Ken O'Brien and Chad Pennington.
#71 by mehllageman56 // Mar 01, 2023 - 8:46pm
I would say he was definitely 4th, better than Eason who ended up backing him up in New York one season. Eason did go to a Super Bowl and beat O'Brien and Marino to get there, but O'Brien has the two Pro Bowls, and unlike Eason, threw more touchdowns than interceptions. There is a big chasm between the big three and O'Brien, and a small bit of space between O'Brien and Eason. Then there is Todd Blackledge.
#70 by mehllageman56 // Mar 01, 2023 - 8:42pm
They didn't throw them immediately to the wolves. O'Brien sat for his rookie year, and didn't start until the 12th game of his second season in 1984. In 1985 he led the league in passer rating, and the Jets made the playoffs. He wasn't Dan Marino, but he is basically Phil Simms; tall immobile QB with a cannon for an arm, doesn't turn the ball over much (Simms actually threw more picks than O'Brien) but takes too many sacks.
Chad Pennington was drafted the same year as Tom Brady, but sat until the 4th game of his third season. Pennington led the Jets to the playoffs, winning the AFC East. He also led the league in passer rating.
Since the Jets jettisoned Pennington, they've traded for one season of Farve, but mostly drafted QBs high and immediately threw them into the fire to watch them burn: Sanchez, then Geno Smith, then a couple years of Fitzpatrick/McCown, and then Darnold and now Zach Wilson. Hasn't worked, has it? Perhaps starting the rookie immediately doesn't lead to lasting success. Geno Smith said as much this past season.
#8 by JoelBarlow // Feb 28, 2023 - 7:40pm
Bears should trade both Fields and the pick. If their roster is as bad as talked about they don't have a window over the rest of Fields's rookie deal anyway
(let's pretend there's a market for Fields)
trade the #1, trade Fields, accumulate picks
draft a QB next year
#10 by theslothook // Feb 28, 2023 - 8:15pm
The problem is how do you know they'll be in position to draft one? It's not always reasonable to expect to land the number one pick two years in a row. And this brain trust can survive one absolutely horrible season, but I doubt if ownership has the stomach for two in a row.
Maybe this is wrong because I don't follow college football, But you can't always count on there being a sufficient number of prospects that you'll be able to land one where you're drafting. The Colts are drafting at 4 and people are talking about having them trade up.
#21 by KnotMe // Mar 01, 2023 - 10:08am
This is why I think they should use the #1 pick unless you don't think highly of this draft class. (They have been hyped plenty, but I'm not a big draft person). If you think there is a guy who has sure thing potential like T-Law/Burrow etc...I would take them. I'm sure you can get something for a highly drafted QB on rookie contract. Maybe after someone gets hurt.
#26 by theslothook // Mar 01, 2023 - 10:26am
T-Law was getting the Andrew Luck, no brainer label.
Burrow was more in the category of solid first overall pick choice in the Stafford/Sam Bradford/Eli Manning vein.
After that, there's a more uncertainty around the top choice; usually someone the pre draft guys are uncertain on.
I don't follow college football, but there seems to be a consensus around Bryce Young this year, suggesting he's a solid first overall pick level quality player.
#42 by rh1no // Mar 01, 2023 - 12:52pm
Burrow was coming off the greatest season any college quarterback ever had and was seen by nearly everyone as a can't-miss prospect who had the potential to turn the Bengals around.
PFF said "[h]e demolished college football in a way we've never seen before. Burrow is easily the most accurate quarterback we've ever scouted and looks NFL ready in every regard." NFL.com graded him as a "Pro Bowl Talent" with near-perfect production. Some critics pointed to his late-bloomer status and his relative lack of arm strength/athleticism as possible drawbacks, but he was the consensus #1 pick and drew comparisons to Andrew Luck.
In fact, many people thought that Joe Burrow should pull an Eli Manning and demand a trade in order to avoid having his talent wasted by Cincinnati's ineptness.
I was one of the very few people who thought drafting him was a mistake. I was certain he would get injured behind our shitty offensive line, and thought that he probably wouldn't progress much since he was already 24. Well, I was right on the first point but horrifically off-target when it came to everything else about him.
#67 by Steve in WI // Mar 01, 2023 - 5:32pm
Oh, I think it's absolutely unreasonable to expect to get the #1 pick two years in a row. Especially when it took so much luck to land it this year; reverse the Bears win/loss record in one score games and they'd have been 7-10. Heck, just remove the highly improbable ending to Texans-Colts in week 18 and they're picking 2nd. The 2022 Bears were not a historically bad team, just a run-of-the-mill bad team that probably should have gone 5-12 or 6-11 but happened to do everything "right" to get the #1 pick.
That being said, I think deciding to draft a QB based on holding the #1 pick is exactly the wrong approach. Take a 1st round QB when you see one that you are convinced is worth it ("worth it" would minimally mean better than the current starter you have who is potentially under your control for years to come). I am biased toward sticking with Fields, but if the Bears believed without a doubt that Bryce Young or one of the other QBs was clearly a better prospect than Fields I would be okay with that. (From what I have heard on Chicago sports radio, most of the experts who've been directly asked either believe that Fields is better than Young or that Young is better but his size and therefore injury risk tilt the scales back to Fields...but it's not like the experts haven't been wrong before). If they took Young and moved on from Fields because, well, you only get the #1 pick so rarely that you just HAVE to take a QB there, I'd be very disappointed.
#68 by theslothook // Mar 01, 2023 - 5:41pm
The commentary suggests that Bryce would not be a reach. The fact that other teams are slated to trade up for him or some other QB suggests the value is there.
I agree, the goal shouldn't be to take the QB because that's what people do. If the player is worth it, then so be it.
#20 by KnotMe // Mar 01, 2023 - 10:04am
Totally agree. The #1 pick has far and away the best hit rate for QB, esp for elite ones. This isn't a situation like the Jags getting the #1 pick after taking T-Law (and that was a bad QB class anyway).
QB are so tough to get, having the #1 pick with a good class is just such a good situation it seems tough to give up unless you get a real haul. It's quite possible a team who gets an injury will trade for fields anyway. There is always a trade market for QB, esp ones with high draft slot on cheap contracts.
Of course it is the Bears, who seem want to succeeded despite the QB anyway, so I can see them just rolling with Fields.
(Edit: Need to figure out how to reply to the correct post)
#66 by Steve in WI // Mar 01, 2023 - 5:15pm
It's quite possible a team who gets an injury will trade for fields anyway. There is always a trade market for QB, esp ones with high draft slot on cheap contracts.
If they decide to take a QB at 1, they need to trade Fields before the draft. Waiting until after the draft removes all their leverage. (I have seen a couple of galaxy-brained kooks on Twitter suggest that since neither rookie #1 nor Fields are proven NFL QBs yet, they should keep both and have them compete, but that's too dumb an idea even for the Bears).
#7 by JoelBarlow // Feb 28, 2023 - 7:38pm
Cousins is a weirdo and I could not disagree with his off the field views more
it's also amazing that he's become an NFL internet hate figure and Fields is headed into another year of being everyone's class pet
Cousins is considerably better at helping your team win football games
#13 by dmb // Feb 28, 2023 - 10:03pm
Minnesota Vikings QB Kwesi Adofo-Mensah on a Justin Jefferson extension
What He Said: “I don’t want to be the Vikings GM without that guy on our team..."
Apparently Adofo-Mensah isn't the Vikings' GM with Jefferson on the team, either...
Also, I'd interpret his comments on Cousins as a long-winded way of saying "he's in the tier of 'win-with' QBs, but maybe not by much, and maybe not for long."
#16 by rh1no // Mar 01, 2023 - 8:59am
Sorry, Bengals fans, but the Bengals are preparing to do some Bengals stuff.
You mean like making Carson Palmer the highest-paid quarterback in the league during his third year? Or paying Boomer Esiason a near-Marino-level salary of $1.2MM before he even led the Bengals to the Super Bowl? Or doubling Boomer's salary with a six-year extension two years later?
History says the Bengals pay their key playmakers. Common sense says the Bengals pay their key playmakers. The front office has explicitly said that the Bengals are literally working on paying their key playmakers right now. And you know what else? THE BENGALS PLAYERS THEMSELVES HAVE PUBLICLY STATED THAT THEY ARE SETTING UP THEIR CONTRACTS SO THEY ALL GET PAID.
So what's going to happen? The Bengals are going to pay Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins.
Anybody saying otherwise is full of it.
#30 by Pat // Mar 01, 2023 - 10:42am
Yeah, I agree, the Bengals section didn't ring true to me either. Cincy's never been cheap about paying players in the modern era. It's just everything else they (historically) have been cheap with.
The funniest part was this, though:
What could happen next for the cash-strapped Bengals is that they end up being the first team to blow up a championship-caliber roster because they could not figure out how to pay their franchise quarterback his first big contract
Baltimore's still on the express train there, and Philly's far more likely to be in this group than Cincy is. (Not that I think Philly will, mind you.)
#36 by rh1no // Mar 01, 2023 - 12:21pm
There's really only one guy the Bengals have cheaped out on in the modern era ... Andrew Whitworth. Katie Blackburn tried to draft his replacement TWICE in the same draft and told him to his face that he was washed. Believe it or not, notorious cheapskate Mike Brown personally extended Whitworth before the future Hall of Famer eventually left for the Rams. And honestly, it's hard to completely trash the Bengals for assuming that an offensive lineman 10 years into his career would not be worth a mega contract. Big Whit kinda broke the mold.
In the same way, I have a difficult time trashing Baltimore for their position on Lamar Jackson. They offered him $133MM in guaranteed money ... just $8MM less than what 2x Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes got in his most recent extension.
I like Lamar and want him to play with the Ravens and beat the Stealers twice a year for the next decade. But if I'm Baltimore's GM, there's no way I'm forking over $250MM in guaranteed money for this guy to play 11 games each year. Maybe he goes to New York and brings a trophy home to the Jets. More likely, he drags the Panthers or Texans to a couple of Wild Card games before blowing out his knee by the time he turns 30.
I'm sure someone is willing to roll the dice on Jackson's next contract. Not me.
#47 by coltsandrew // Mar 01, 2023 - 1:50pm
Baltimore is being extremely sensible with Jackson. I like watching him play, but he's delusional if he thinks that he's in the same ballpark of value as Mahomes. He's missed more games, for starters, and still hasn't won a playoff game, let alone a conference or league championship. Even if you prorate his stats, he's not as productive. That's not to say he's a terrible QB, but he's definitely the next tier down.
#50 by Eddo // Mar 01, 2023 - 2:13pm
I agree with your conclusions, but Jackson has won a playoff game.
#73 by coltsandrew // Mar 02, 2023 - 2:35pm
My bad. I should have listened to my gut and checked that before I wrote. Anyhow, I hope at this point someone can talk sense into him so that he keeps taking the field. I can't understand how he's blind to the reality that he simply doesn't have as good a track record as the guys he wants to be paid like.
#58 by RickD // Mar 01, 2023 - 2:56pm
Essentially, the Ravens are saying "We don't really have to make the same mistake the Browns have made." Lamar wants DeShaun's contract. (A better comparison than the Mahomes contract, since it's explicitly what Lamar is saying.)
#80 by occams_pointed… // Mar 03, 2023 - 9:30pm
In fact I think you can pretty clearly argue that in the past they overpaid some non-star players (that they had drafted).
There was no rational reason to give a second contract to Rey Maualuga. Or Dre Kirkpatrick. It makes bad draft picks a lot worse when you start throwing these non-rookie deals at them.
Jessie Bates wants a top five safety contract and isn't a top five safety a lot of (most of?) the time. He's a good player. And he was awesome in the 2021 postseason and not very good in the 2022 postseason.
Is Jonah Williams worth franchise LT money? Not if 2023 goes downhill from 2022, that's for damn sure.
Tyler Boyd is gonna be almost 30 years old soon and is already on his second deal. The next contract he signs will include the years he's more likely to turn into a pumpkin.
That being said, a list of guys I would argue they should have kept around, but let walk in FA, should also include Justin Smith (they franchise tagged him, and then he went off to SF and did amazing things)
#29 by Pat // Mar 01, 2023 - 10:31am
I'm amazed that the Packers GM comments on whether or not he wants Rodgers back weren't included. When Rodgers is actually in the room, he was all like "we made a big commitment, we want Rodgers here," and now we get "all options are on the table."
Which of course is hilarious, because the Packers actually have no options at all - if Rodgers wants to be on the team, he'll be on the team. No team's going to take a guy for $60M guaranteed in '23 who doesn't want to be there.
#39 by Pat // Mar 01, 2023 - 12:33pm
Allow me to introduce you to the New York Jets...
I mean, I'd appreciate the historical irony, but when the Jets traded for Favre he wasn't crippling financially. I really have to think that if the team doesn't get a buy-in from Rodgers when discussing the trade there's no way they'd do it.
#38 by big10freak // Mar 01, 2023 - 12:26pm
The salary is one of several reasons why I have to believe GB has restrained trade return expectations. I was ridiculed by a national writer for suggesting this notion as he was adamant that GB should expect to get 2 first round picks and then some. Which I think is ridiculous.
#40 by Pat // Mar 01, 2023 - 12:35pm
Yeah, that's just hilarious. I'd have to think the best case would be what the Packers got for Favre - conditional third that could be a first. Rodgers might be better at this point in his career (who knows!) but the salary more than compensates for that. Cap-wise Rodgers is over twice as expensive as what Favre was at that point.
#49 by Pat // Mar 01, 2023 - 2:06pm
Any opinions as to why they only got a 3rd when they traded Favre in much, much more favorable conditions?
The Favre trade is an excellent prior. If I'm calling the Packers that's the first thing I'm saying. Packers are giving all indications that they're done with him, just like they were with Favre.
If the Packers aren't done with Rodgers then there's no reason to try to trade for him.
#61 by Pat // Mar 01, 2023 - 3:50pm
Wentz was cheap and young. He cost the Colts $21M that year. That's less than they paid Rivers before.
If you think about the Jets, for instance, they'd have to restructure multiple contracts just to fit a fully-leveraged Rodgers contract onto the team (or cut guys, obviously), and a single year of Rodgers in '23 would eat up almost half of their $112M cap space in '24 if he retired, and he has far less reason to come back for '24 than '23.
I could buy the Philly/Colts trade terms for Wentz (second that could bump to a first, plus a second) maybe, if there are multiple bidders for Rodgers.
#62 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 01, 2023 - 4:07pm
Alright man, they dont care about how much it costs. Teams like the Jets would kill to have a Rodgers at almost any cost.
Let's make a bet if you truly think "the best case is a third" make the terms, otherwise I need no other further explanation on why Stafford, Russ and Watson went for 1st+, from you in a reply.
#74 by Pat // Mar 02, 2023 - 9:51pm
It's a pointless bet. I don't actually think he'll be traded.
Stafford and Wilson are younger and cheaper and neither mentioned retirement before being traded. Watson isn't in the same galaxy of comparisons. He's sub-30.
#77 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 03, 2023 - 9:52am
Then make it if you don't think anything will happen. But of course you're literally the only person that thinks it'd be that low. And of course you ignore me and try to explain the others (that actually had to be paid but ehatever fits your outdated narrative). Typical.
#78 by Pat // Mar 03, 2023 - 10:24am
And of course you ignore me
For future reference, you actually don't have the authority to tell someone what to say. You're welcome not to read, but yes, I will ignore you when you tell me not to bother responding to something, because I'm not actually talking to you.
and try to explain the others (that actually had to be paid
No, they didn't. Stafford especially, and Wilson is still underpaid relative to market for the Broncos because his cost is spread over two teams. Rodgers is different because none of the $60M would be borne by the Packers.
Rodgers is much closer to the Favre example than Stafford or Wilson. He's literally been hedging about retiring for two years now and his contract is flat-out structured so that the monetary incentive for him not to retire is huge. I mean, there are "dummy but not in any way indicated as dummy" years which are there to reduce the overall cost so it wouldn't look so horribly expensive for future negotiations.
For instance, Russ was paid $57M in '22 by the Broncos, but is only due $28M in 23. That's a normal, standard contract - the first year's big, the next year drops down a lot because the first year's got a signing bonus. The first year is a prepayment guaranteeing Wilson stays around - if Wilson just retired, he'd have to pay back a portion of the bonus. So if he did retire, the Broncos would only be paying like $20M-ish. There's zero retirement risk from Wilson.
And the Broncos are free to move on from Wilson after '23, at which point they'll only have spent $85M for 2 years.
Rodgers's contract is currently $60M in '23 and $49M in '24. Neither of those is a signing bonus. If Rodgers retires after '23, you get none of that $57M back. And if you want Rodgers for a second year, it'll cost you $49M, for a total of close to $110M.
It's just a totally different situation that Rodgers is in. You're welcome to disagree, but there are people out there who've written entire articles describing the Rodgers cap situation because it's just so different.
#52 by KnotMe // Mar 01, 2023 - 2:32pm
I feels like this Rodgers trade thing is more speculative. I think the Packers know they signed him to a dumb contract and want out, but they also realize he probably has a decent year or 2 left in him.
I'm not sure, but it doesn't feel like a "we want out at all costs" situation.
#54 by Pat // Mar 01, 2023 - 2:43pm
That's why I'm saying if they're not ready to pitch him, it's not worth even having the discussion. The only way trading for Rodgers is worth it is if it's forced due to the value and Rodgers still definitely wants to play. Otherwise not only will you have to overpay, you have to worry about Rodgers's enthusiasm for actually playing fall apart.
#81 by PackerPete // Mar 05, 2023 - 7:54pm
I'd wager Lafleur would like to be out from under Rodgers. The Packers are running the Rodgers offense, not the Lafleur offense of three seasons ago. Rodgers wants to operate in shotgun, doesn't want motion, runs every play clock down to 1 second, doesn't throw timing routes, won't throw to half the receivers because he "doesn't trust" them. I've never heard this doesn't trust them nonsense about any other QB. Rodgers is paid $50 million, knows he has young receivers, blows off the voluntary camps, doesn't play in preseason. I don't see the leadership. He certainly doesn't have Brady's in-game toughness when swimming against the tide.
I've seen literally every Rodgers play of his career. I strongly supported him when he took over the team. His play, his impact on Lafleur's offense, his lack of leadership, his performance last year, all this isn't worth $110 million over the next two years. Better to get rid of a guy a year too early than a year too late.
In three-plus decades of HOF quarterbacks, the Packers only got to 3 Super Bowls and only won two. That's remarkable. After being a huge Rodgers fan from his first starts, it's time to move on. If Rodgers was committed to the Packers, he would have said so by now. Time to move on.
#59 by RickD // Mar 01, 2023 - 3:06pm
Favre was considered to be on the decline when he was traded (fair or not). Rodgers has won two of the the last three MVPs. And Brady has expanded the consensus feeling about the hard upper bound of QB age.
Consider that it's less than one year since the DeShaun Watson trade. Yes, Watson is much younger, but he's also never been at Rodgers's level. The Browns traded three 1st rounders and two other picks to get him. If Rodgers were to get traded (which would obviously require his assent), he should get far more than a mere 3rd rounder.
#60 by Pat // Mar 01, 2023 - 3:42pm
Favre was considered to be on the decline when he was traded
The year before he got traded - 2007 - he put up MVP-level numbers, the Packers won 13 games and went to OT in the conference championship. This is in comparison to Rodgers, who just put up the fewest yards/game of his entire starting career and didn't make the playoffs.
The main reason people thought he was on the decline was because, as you said, "old man Brady" didn't exist yet and he was 38.
Do you really think teams think Rodgers is aging like Brady is? I don't. Peyton Manning won the MVP in '13 dominantly and was done 2 years later. Couple that with the $60M cap cost and I think the number of teams willing to trade for Rodgers is small.
#65 by theslothook // Mar 01, 2023 - 4:34pm
Peyton Manning won the MVP in '13 dominantly and was done 2 years later.
Well at the time, no one knew that he would be done within 2 years. I bet there was a real feeling that he could go on another 4 years potentially. That might be crazy in retrospect, but seemed maybe plausible at the time? After all, his MVP wasn't powered by physical skills or so the thinking went.
Do you really think teams think Rodgers is aging like Brady is?
This statement needs further qualifiers. Brady remained mostly effective until he turned 45. And depending on if you believe the DYAR figures, even at 45 he is/was still effective. To age like Brady would imply an effective Rodgers for an additional 6 years. As you can see, there is a giant middle ground between done in 2 years like Manning and still going strong for another 4-5 years.
I think there's still a big question mark about Aaron Rodgers. Was this year a decline year due to age or decline year due to a lack of weapons? its pretty hard to say. And of course, this isn't the first time Rodgers has fooled us with a decline that looked like a new normal.
#64 by theslothook // Mar 01, 2023 - 4:26pm
Any opinions as to why they only got a 3rd when they traded Favre in much, much more favorable conditions?
The big difference may be one of optics. The Packers were clear that they were done with Favre and wanted Rodgers in the wings. As such, the trade was partly about shipping Favre out of there to clear the way for Rodgers. In this case, its perceived given the gigantic contract that Rodgers is meant to be in the Packers future.
The other part of this. Favre had just retired and then changed his mind. Right or wrong, that put the number of expected years remaining at 1. That's not quite true for Rodgers.
#82 by PackerPete // Mar 05, 2023 - 7:59pm
No way Rodgers retires this year. He's not gonna be Brady's bitch in 5 years at the HOF ceremony. Think Rodgers is going to spend 2028 listening to every sports pundit talk about how much more physically talented Rodgers was compared to Brady but Brady had 7 rings to Rodgers single ring? No way Rodgers subjects himself to that. He'll take the $60 million from GB or the Jets and deliver a $35 million performance, then retire. In 2029 HOF ceremony, Rodgers will be top dog in Canton.