Hunting for a Quarterback
QB carousel spinning out of control--
With this week’s blockbuster deals in our rearview mirror, pressure points now have come to light and the NFL’s focus is now on the 2022 draft. Perhaps the circus just keeps rolling along, but I do still have some questions that will not only impact odds makers “projections for the future” but also will continue to clutter my mind.
Let’s start in Green Bay where Aaron Rodgers chose to stay in his same old neighborhood. I am not surprised by his decision or the reported new contract numbers. I have thought all along he would be the first $50M a year player in NFL history.
Please keep in mind that his cap number will actually be lower this year so the team can keep the band together. What that actually means is that in the last year (Year 4 if the length being reported is true) of the deal, his cap number will probably approach $65 or 70M.
So, is this agreement really a three-year deal? The cap counts eventually will have to reflect that average salary per year of the contract. Those numbers are clearly new ground for team builders and will really make it hard to build a complete team around. As usual the devil will be in the details. More on this later.
The other narrative that I found interesting is the one that now says “the Jordan Love pick was a wasted pick”. I disagree wholeheartedly. I have said all along, and believe it more than ever, that the Packers drafting a QB (no matter who it was) refocused and freshened up Aaron Rodgers as a player and as a competitor. Love has pushed Rodgers out of his comfort level mentally.
I think before the Love selection, Rodgers was playing out the string in Green Bay. Results are obviously easy to measure after a pair of MVP seasons since. I think Rodgers’ pride and his ego took big hits when the Packer brass celebrated moving up in the first round and then sending in that card with Jordan Love’s name on it.
I think Love still has value. I don’t think Packer brass have given up on him at all. Sure, the Packers could trade him (probably for a 3rdround pick). However, I think it makes more sense for the Packers to continue to develop him along a learning curve where he is eventually seen as a viable NFL starter. Love’s contract would be for two more years plus a fifth-year option, if the team chooses. I think the pressure that Love can still apply to the “beautiful mind” of Mr. Rodgers is invaluable.
Meanwhile in Seattle, the Seahawks finally acted on the feeling, some football insiders have had for quite some time. The team made the decision to move beyond the drama and leadership style of Russell Wilson.
The posturing and statements we have been flooded with recently really were just that- posturing. The reality is that the shelf life had expired between the popular Wilson and the Seahawks. It was time for the divorce to happen. The Seahawks need to get started on a re-build and Wilson was their biggest asset to jump start that fact.
Here are my random thoughts, I’ll let you come up with your own takes and answers regarding each:
The Seahawks clearly wanted to move Wilson and were willing to take on $26M in dead salary cap money (2nd most ever in league history for one player) to do so. I also feel that the Seahawks were not willing to reinvest in Wilson, contract-wise, at current QB prices and this potential problem was staring them right in the face at some point over the next few months. Frankly, I could not do that either if I were in their shoes.
Russell Wilson wanted out of Seattle, no matter what he said. His “no trade clause” could only be waived by him and that didn't happen. Wilson’s faith in the Seahawks brass had deteriorated over the last few seasons.
Tough questions were asked to Head Coach Pete Carroll by ownership in their season-ending meetings and it’s now clear that he was ok with making significant roster changes and retooling the roster to save his own hide. When no changes were immediately obvious, some thought the Seahawks were just set for a “re-rack”. I think these changes by the Seahawks were initiated and motivated by those tough questions. I have increased respect for owner Jody Allen, advisor Burt Kolde, and Chuck Arnold, the team president, and that extends to both Carroll and GM John Schneider being willing to share the vision that “we need to make changes and do better.”
Without a doubt, this rebuild now falls directly on the lap of Schneider. His contract extends well beyond that of his head coach. The key to the Wilson deal is obviously the draft picks the Seahawks get in return. The players — Drew Lock and Shelby Harris are throw-ins, but Noah Fant, on the other hand, has to become a value in their offense. A former first round pick, he has to develop and be consistent. This team’s report card when drafting recently has been seen by most as “cloudy” at best. These picks they now have must produce impact players in a crystal-clear way. In order for them to do that, they have to also be willing to alter their criteria for evaluating as well as their process by which they make decisions for such.
I’m interested in following the DK Metcalf narrative as well. I just don’t see him as a No. 1 guy as a WR. Most Seahawk fans will disagree. His skill set is one that might be coveted by some other teams, but what he lacks is route-running acumen and consistency in catching with his hands, he does make up for this with his ability to track long balls and stretch the field vertically. Is there a reason for the Seahawks to not invest big money in Metcalf? He is already asking for a big contract behind the scenes. Should Seattle instead use him as a pawn to recoup other assets in the rebuild? I have watched a ton of film on Metcalf recently. I would sell to the highest bidder.
If I had one criticism of the Wilson deal it might be with the lack of a QB option going forward. The compensation from Denver at that position was pretty weak. I thought the Philadelphia Eagles and Jalen Hurts actually made the most sense for both sides in a deal for Wilson. I’ve watched the film on Drew Lock and he lacks the ability to process and make good decisions, despite having an above average arm. I don’t think Lock is a viable option as a starting QB at the NFL level. I believe the Seahawks have to have another move in mind to upgrade over Lock. Mitchell Trubisky? Marcus Mariota? Drafting Kenny Pickett? We will all be waiting until the other shoe drops.
The Seahawks offensive design and philosophy is part of what frustrated Wilson. That has to change going forward. Beyond their issues from a personnel standpoint, I feel like their system is a “paint by numbers” offense that is both easy to defend and poorly executed by the unit. This falls on their OC who was just hired last year. I don’t think Wilson had any faith in what his offensive coaches were doing and it showed up in his performance. “Hope” is not a plan, but this team must retool in Year 2 of this offensive system.
The third QB move this week came with the Washington Commanders pulling the trigger on a trade to bring former Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz back to the NFC East. Here are three immediate takeaways:
1. Leadership style, personal accountability and how one is viewed in the locker room are real and matter very much. Wentz failed in these areas by all accounts. I think this trade had more to do with the aforementioned criteria that made his shelf life expire so quickly in Indy than his actual play on the field.
2. Colts Head Coach Frank Reich can’t be consulted in the future on QB fits or evaluations. He burned up all his capital/chips in recommending and backing the acquisition of Wentz when he was acquired from Philly. Nobody was leaned on more than Reich in persuading the Colts to take on Wentz and Reich’s credibility now has taken a big hit. He is the loser internally in this deal and don’t think for a minute that the locker room doesn’t keep track of this kind of stuff.
3. The Colts are probably not moving forward without a safety net at QB. I’d look for them to sign Trubisky/Mariota (if they don’t already have a deal in their pocket) or send a pick or two to San Francisco for Jimmy Garappolo. If I were the Colts GM, Chris Ballard, I could not make this deal with Washington as an independent stand-alone deal. They would not be the first team to jump the shark and have another deal already in place before the legal tampering window even opens.