Preview: March Newsletter

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SEAHAWKS DILEMMA The Seattle Seahawks gave up two future number one picks for safety Jamal Adams before the 2020 NFL season and, at the time, decided not to rework or extend his contract. A contract dispute was part of the issue that motivated Adams to play the “I want out” card with the New York Jets. The question now is, do the Seahawks pay a premium price for a safety that is seen by some as one-dimensional? No evaluators question his value and impact in the box or against teams’ running games. He also has 9.5 sacks, a record for defensive backs. The main concern, from a football standpoint, is how you hide a coverage deficient player in coverage, in a day and age where spreading the field and looking for matchup advantages is what offense is all about. This negotiation is going to be a sticky one and it’s easy to see why the Jets were very happy to punt. For clarity, Adams was due to make $3.59M this past season and $9.86M on a fifth-year option for 2021. This makes him a potential free agent in 2022. Currently the highest paid safety in the NFL is Budda Baker of the Arizona Cardinals at $14.5M annually. Adams has made it known that he doesn’t consider himself as a true safety, rather a “playmaker” who lines up in the box enough to demand Bobby Wagner money at around $18M a year. The good news for Seahawks fans is that Adams might just be Seattle’s best player on defense. The difficult part is trying to define what position he really plays. It’s a position that most defenses do not have. In Pete Carroll’s defensive scheme, Adams’ flexibility in the box is a plus. There is no franchise tag for this “playmaker” labeled position. The word on the street is that he is going to demand $20M per year, which will really make for some tough choices on the Seahawks’ salary cap situation. One of the reasons the Jets traded Adams is because at $17M, their highest paid defender is LB CJ Mosley. However, Adams had made it clear he wanted to be the highest paid player on defense. That’s a choice the Jets made clear they wanted no part of. I think $14M is a crazy number, but to seriously ask for more than Bobby Wagner is paid, that’s just blasphemy to Seahawks fans. The pressure points will collide soon because the Seahawks HAVE to resign him after committing that kind of draft capital to acquire him and the fact that in Coach Carroll’s defense, he can produce at a high level. Adams is worth more to them than any other team, league wide. I don’t think other teams value him nearly as much. Most teams also think its reckless to pay a safety $14M a year, much less one that struggles in coverage. I’d rather have Budda Baker because of both his instant quickness and burst along with his explosive coverage and range (two things Adams does not bring). Sure, the sacks have value but making him part of a consistent “rush package” is easier said than done from a scheme standpoint. I honestly think the Seahawks have a first-class mess on their hands here, because of all the variables. I was in favor of the trade when it happened, but would not be in favor of paying him crazy money in an extension. Quite frankly, a conversation should have taken place with parameters before this trade was made. Instead, what we got from the Seahawks was the equivalent of READY- FIRE-AIM. I think the only resolution, short of the Seahawks just overpaying and putting their future cap in jeopardy is this. Adams plays this year at the option number. The Seahawks then use the “non-exclusive franchise tag” on him for 2022. By using this, the team has an opportunity to net two first-round draft choices in return, should Adams work out a deal elsewhere. There is no way Seattle can get this kind of return on their investment, but maybe they work out a slightly lesser exchange with a new team? Cut your losses and move on. Would you take one first-round choice in return? The other option is, and this comes with having the guts of a burglar, is to let him enter free agency after the 2022 season. Let him test the waters. My guess is, with what we know now, nobody is going to pay him the exorbitant salary he will be demanding. Let the market determine his worth. Kind of like, an unwritten right-of-first-refusal. The Adams situation will be interesting to watch play out either way. I’m all for “winning now” but this comes with repercussions down the road. This is a problem and where a franchises internal struggles are real


DO PACKERS TAKE TAKE THE AARON RODGERS BAIT? We all heard the Packers QB and his “state of the union” address after their exit from the playoffs vs Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship game. He was begging for more help, less mistakes, and in general, a PUSH to do whatever it takes to win a Super Bowl as his career window is slowly closing. In my opinion, here is the first chance to do what Rogers and frankly many others, have called for. JJ WATT is available and up for auction. It’s just the kind of move that the Packers under Ted Thompson (RIP), their former GM, would not make and current GM Brian Gutekunst, only on the job two years, has yet to make. The Packers have a chance to quickly react to the NOW and put the FUTURE on hold. Watt has 101 career sacks, has been to five Pro Bowls, has been named to five All Pro teams, and has a reputation for no-nonsense leadership. Acquiring Watt might be the first step forward to upgrading an inconsistent defense and making that Super Bowl push. Sure, it will cost some money, maybe even a chunk of future cap dollars (dead money), but Watt still has skills to make a difference. In a recent film study by yours truly, I found him to be a very good run defender vs plays at him. He also still has the strength to push the pocket as both an interior rusher and as an option to run short loops on tricks and stunts. No, he is not the dominant player he once was, the force that demanded a double team on every play, but there is still good value here. Watt’s camp leaked out negotiating information in the form of “multiple teams have made offers” and even got specific as to those being between 16-17 million per year. Obviously, the Packers have to sift thru this and find out what’s real. Keep in mind, a high percentage of stories in the media (including the story creators on big networks) all come from the agent’s point of view. Therefor an agenda is obvious to those who do this for a living. I think a deal with Watt sends the right message to Packers fans and better yet, their QB, that the team is going all in to win right now. They might also sign another wide receiver as well. This year’s batch of free agents-to-be WR’s is rare and talented. They have to resign their own WR, DeVonte Adams first, but acquiring another playmaker to go with him makes him even more of a threat and gives them depth/options as well. I think it makes sense on all fronts after all, what’s wrong with putting a few more chips in the middle and creating some urgency.


{ Breaking: J.J. Watt announced that he's signing with the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are giving Watt a two-year, $31 million deal that includes $23 million guaranteed, a source told @AdamSchefter. Arizona Cardinals full release }



JETS IN POWER POSITION

With the 2021 NFL Draft on the horizon, I can’t help but look ahead to what may be available at the top of the first round. The way things are shaking out, I feel the New York Jets are, for once, operating from a position of strength.

It was after a recent film study of QB Sam Darnold and a look back at my college evaluation of him at USC, that led me to believe this. What I saw in Darnold is the same potential I saw when he came out of school. In 2020, the Jets had a subpar offensive system and a roster void of talent at skilled positions (until a couple receivers improved late in the year). These deficiencies have stunted Darnold’s growth more than the inconsistency he has shown on his own and his propensity of making untimely turnovers/mistakes. Darnold has spent too much time memorizing offensive plays and not enough time working on the intricacies of growing at the position and improving his trade. It is a process and the Jets have failed Darnold in my opinion. I see Darnold as a better option than the recently traded Carson Wentz or any of the following: Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, Jimmy Garapolo, Derek Carr or soon to be free agent Jameis Winston. I saw Darnold throws, that many QB’s in the league today cannot make. He’s accurate enough, he can drop balls in over underneath coverage, and he can throw both from the pocket and while on the move. Darnold can drive the ball on a skinny post or deep dig and he’s among the top third in the league in arm talent.

What Darnold is missing is a system that gives him options and confidence. It’s the exact same things he was missing while at USC. I still think there’s big upside from a guy who can excel from the pocket and process information. He just needs more information and reps to perfect it, if that makes any sense?

In his post-Adam Gase career, I think it’s fair that Jets fans can look to Darnold for a Ryan Tannehill bump in proficiency, if the team decides to keep him. I love BYU’s Zach Wilson but I might be apt to stay the course and keep Darnold.

With all of that being said, the number two pick in the draft carries QB value. I believe Zack Wilson will end up being the second most desirable QB option come draft time. To get him, going to #2 makes sense or several teams. If I’m the Jets and am “ok” with Sam Darnold, then I slide back and acquire more chips to build my team. The Jets have multiple needs so it makes sense to value quantity over quality in this spot. I would look close at Atlanta at #4. They need a young QB and they have a new GM and coach who can attach themselves to one. The Jets would only slide back two spots.

If they make a deal with Atlanta, they then can draft the best, most valued, player on their board, regardless of position. This just makes too much sense to me.




EAGLES DOUBLE DOWN ON THEIR GM I have written and pointed out that there was plenty of blame to go around in the “dumpster fire” that was the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles. From roster composition, to coaching, to injuries, to bad QB play, there were many who had a hand in the eventual results. As we stand now, in March 2021, the blame has been assessed and assigned by owner Jeffrey Lurie. With the firing of a coaching staff and a trade of their starting quarterback, only one man is now left standing— GM Howie Roseman. By making the drastic changes they have made recently, all of the pressure for the rebuild/retool of the Eagles roster, whatever you want to call it, now falls directly on Roseman. He is now in the cross-hairs, without question and will be judged like never before. By doing what they have done, it’s clear that blaming anyone else, going forward is a mischaracterization of the facts and events. Likewise, credit should come his way should he solve the riddle and get the Eagles back to the top but there is no hiding now. All eyes are on one guy now and his process of rebuilding a team. And, as we will continue to be reminded of, he has to construct a roster with 34M in dead money staring him in the face. Put in layman terms- that’s easily 5 or 6 starting quality players, when an unprecedented talent pool will be hitting the market, that the Eagles will not be able to acquire because their cap will be much less than competing teams looking for the same talent.

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