Welcome back to Sports Krunch with DKrom ladies and gentlemen, I’m your host David Kromelow. And welcome to the first ever episode of “The Weekly Krunch”, a once-a-week segment in which I break down the top NFL stories of the week and my take on them. The week of February 19, 2018 in the NFL can be summed up in three simple words: tags, trades, and quarterbacks.
Tags. While the deadline for teams to administer franchise or transition tags is March 6 at 4 PM ET, the window for doing so opened this past Tuesday February 20. And in stark contrast to traditional tagging practices, the Miami Dolphins placed the franchise tag on WR Jarvis Landry on Tuesday. Most teams wait until closer to the deadline to apply tags, so why did the Dolphins do so right off the hop? According to Dolphins beat writer Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, while the Fins remain “open” to signing Landry to a long-term deal, the “likeliest outcome” is that they trade him. Potential suitors for Landry could be the Baltimore Ravens, who tried trading for him last year, the Cleveland Browns, who own seven of the top 65 selections in the 2018 NFL Draft, or the San Francisco 49ers, who are eager to get their newly-minted franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo more weaponry.
Speaking of trades, Landry is far from the only candidate to be traded. Earlier this week, NFL Media’s Gregg Rosenthal said the following on an episode of the “Around The NFL” podcast: “There’s an expectation from a lot of people in the NFL & insiders that there’s going to be a ton of trades.” And behold on Friday, the second biggest trade of the NFL “offseason” went down. A few weeks after reaching an agreement to trade QB Alex Smith to the Redskins days before the Super Bowl, the Chiefs agreed to trade talented, yet behaviorally troubled All Pro CB Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams for a package of draft picks. The exact specifics on the Chiefs haul in exchange for Peters remains unknown at this time, and will possibly remain unknown until the trade becomes official on March 14 at 4 PM ET.
In terms of the big picture here, trades involving players have typically not been as common a practice in the NFL as they have been in the other three major North American sports leagues. However, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport noted that due to the abundance of more aggressive, younger GM’s plus the fact that the salary cap continues to rise to new record heights every year, a new trend might be emerging. And as the scene shifts to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine this week, teams will lay the groundwork for more trades to come in the days and weeks ahead. Some notable players reported or rumored to be on the trading block include Broncos QB Trevor Siemian, Broncos CB Aqib Talib, Eagles DE Vinny Curry, Steelers WR Martavis Bryant and Bills QB Tyrod Taylor.
Speaking of quarterbacks, another shoe dropped in the quarterback carousel on Saturday as the Jacksonville Jaguars gave Blake Bortles a three-year, $54 million dollar contract with $26.5 million in guarantees and incentives that could push the deal’s overall value up to $66.5 million. Here are the potential effects of the Bortles’ new contract on the QB market and overall free agent market:
- The Jaguars, who were rumored by some to heavily pursue Kirk Cousins, are now officially out of the running in the Cousins derby. Also this morning, long-time Arizona Cardinals beat reporter Mike Jurecki tweeted that the Cardinals are unlikely to be a heavy bidder for the impending free agent QB. This means that there are likely only three potential landing spots for Kirk Cousins (barring a possible but unlikely game of franchise tag tomfoolery by the Redskins): the Vikings, Broncos, or Jets.
- While the overall value of Bortles’ contract will likely have little to no effect on the ultimate price for Kirk Cousins, it will likely impact the markets for Case Keenum and AJ McCarron. Last year, Mike Glennon received an $18 million per yer contract from the Bears despite being a relatively unproven commodity. Given the rising cap and depending on the number of suitors, expect the agents for Keenum and McCarron to try to push that bar even higher.
- As was pointed out by Adam Schefter this morning, Blake Bortles new contract drastically lowered his 2018 cap hit from the $19 million it would have been had he played under his fifth year option to only $10 million. This gives the Jaguars much needed flexibility this free agency period that will allow them to re-sign underrated nickel corner Aaron Colvin and either extend or franchise tag WR Allen Robinson.
And now for some Parting Nuggets…
-Coming back to tags, here are some other players likely to receive the franchise or transition tag:
- Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell is likely to get franchised for the second straight year (although both sides are hopeful that a long-term deal will be reached this time).
- The Carolina Panthers are mulling over whether to tag K Graham Gano or G Andrew Norwell, but Gano is the more likely candidate to receive the tag as Ian Rapoport reported.
- The Los Angeles Rams are in a similar predicament as the Panthers as they determine whether to franchise WR Sammy Watkins or S Lamarcus Joyner. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that Joyner is more likely to get tagged. However, it is fair to wonder if the Rams acquisition of Marcus Peters could change their plans here.
- In a weak free agent market and draft class for pass rushers, it would be surprising if the Cowboys and Lions let their star rushers (Demarcus Lawrence and Ziggy Ansah, respectfully) hit the open market. Reports suggest both will be franchised if no long-term deal is in place by the March 6 deadline.
-This week, ageless and legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri decided that he’ll play at least one more season at age 45 as he re-signed with the Colts on a one-year, $3.625 million deal. Vinatieri needs to score only 58 points to break the all-time NFL record for points that was previously broken by hall of famer Morten Andersen. In recent years, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has set a promising trend by admitting more specialists into Canton, with legendary Raiders punter Ray Guy in 2014 and Andersen in 2017. Hopefully this trend continues so that Vinatieri won’t have to wait as long for his gold jacket as Guy and Andersen did.
And that’s your Weekly Krunch for the week of February 19, 2018. Until next time, so long and of course, stay awesome!