Get ready for a wild week in the NFL.
Not that this off-season hasn’t already been pretty eventful, of course.
The quarterback carousel has already taken a spin, with Derek Carr landing in New Orleans while both the Seahawks and Giants opted to keep their QBs in the fold. Last Tuesday’s Franchise Tag deadline saw a handful of top running backs (Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard) tagged while Lamar Jackson’s situation in Baltimore just got a whole lot more complicated. And just this weekend, we saw a blockbuster deal that saw Chicago send the 2023 No. 1 overall pick to Carolina in exchange for a hefty return, saving us from another six weeks of speculation about whether Justin Fields is still their guy to build around.
We’re only just getting started, with Monday ushering in the legal tampering window as of noon ET, permitting teams to begin negotiating with prospective free agents and agreeing to deals in principle. (No contracts can be signed until 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, when the new league year opens up.)
To help navigate the rumour mill, here’s a roundup of the latest reports around some of this off-season’s most notable names.
AA-R-O-N! Jets? Jets? Jets?
At this point, Aaron Rodgers is definitely going to the New York Jets… right?
The 39-year-old Green Bay Packers quarterback hasn’t said much about his future in football, instead leaving everyone (including himself) in the dark when it comes to his next destination. Rodgers isn’t a free agent but is still firmly in control here as he can shoot down any trade proposals that come Green Bay’s way.
The future hall of famer has been linked pretty much exclusively to the Jets for months now — incidentally, the same post-Packers destination, and at the same age, as his predecessor, Brett Favre — and reportedly met with Jets brass last week. The union makes sense for both sides: Green Bay is heading into what looks like a transition period and needs to know if Jordan Love is their next star while New York appears to be one capable QB away from being a true contender.
Rodgers hinted, in his usual cryptic fashion, that the decision “won’t be long” and… well, hopefully, he was telling the truth. Should Rodgers’ decision bleed into Tuesday, and not result in his landing in New York, it would prevent the Jets from being able to target another big name during the all-important negotiating period.
The plot thickens Monday afternoon, with news of Miami signing Jets QB Mike White…
Jimmy G lands in Vegas
Any thoughts of Rodgers reuniting with Devante Adams in Las Vegas can officially be ruled out (if it wasn’t already) because the Raiders have reportedly got their guy. Jimmy Garoppolo is heading from San Francisco to the Sin City, where’s he’ll meet a familiar face in Josh McDaniels. The signing reunites him with his former offensive coordinator from their shared time in New England and also ends the years’-long guessing game that was his 49ers tenure.
What’s the latest on Lamar?
Another big name with little in the way of answers just yet is Lamar Jackson, who received the non-exclusive franchise tag from Baltimore management last week. That tag means he can sign a proposed deal with another club but not without the Ravens having a chance to match it first.
The complication here is that any team proposing a deal with the 2019 MVP right now would miss out on the important first days of free agency, as Baltimore can take five days to make their decision. So, perhaps this situation could remain on the quiet side for now.
Browns clear cap space with restructured Deshaun Watson deal
It’s still an egregious contract, but now Deshaun Watson’s deal with the Browns is a little more manageable when it comes to cap constraints this off-season.
Per Ian Rapoport, Cleveland now has some flexibility — perhaps to buy their pricey QB another receiver or two?
Where to next, OBJ?
After a false start last year, with continued questions about his knee ultimately hindering his late-season attempt to return to the field as a free agent ready for a playoff run with the highest bidder, Odell Beckham Jr. is healthy and prepared to sign on the dotted line.
The last time we saw him in a game, he was putting together a pretty strong case for Super Bowl MVP with the Rams before going down with a devastating knee injury. He was sidelined the entire 2022 season because of it.
The former Giants, Browns, and Rams wide receiver held a workout in Arizona on Friday to prove to teams he’s ready to go. The Dallas Cowboys feels like a match for the 30-year-old, but workout attendance records indicate the Bills, Patriots, and Giants are among the interested parties.
From Brady to Baker: Buccaneers interested in Mayfield?
Baker Mayfield’s rollercoaster career has brought a particularly wild ride this past year. After the Browns landed Watson last spring, Mayfield was sent to Carolina to compete for the Panthers’ starting role — and he got the job, but injuries and team struggles limited his success.
A trade to the Rams preceded a miraculous late-season comeback, but now he appears to once again be on the market. According to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo, Tampa Bay is interested. Following Brady’s retirement, the Buccaneers are barreling towards a question-filled free agency period. The biggest one being: What does life look like post-Brady?
Eagles’ strong core losing key players
When you assemble a defence as deep and talented as the one Howie Roseman put together in 2022, other GMs will inevitably come along to disassemble it in free agency, and we’re seeing some of that in Philly on Monday. It was always going to be next to impossible to keep this core intact, and it’ll be interesting to see how things unfold.
The cap-rich Chicago Bears are signing former Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards, the 49ers have agreed to terms with defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, and reports indicate more losses will come.
The good news: Star centre Jason Kelce announced Monday afternoon he’ll be returning to Philly in 2023.
Broncos bringing in reinforcements (and insurance) for Wilson
Last year’s Broncos shelled out a lot of draft capitals and dollars to bring in Russell Wilson as their starting QB. One year later, following a nightmare of a season, they appear to be bringing in reinforcements — first, in the form of a veteran head coach and now with an eye to helping their QB stay on his feet… and a little insurance in case he doesn’t.
The signing of former 49ers offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey will be a big boost to help give Wilson more time to cook.
The team is also signing backup Jarret Stidham, who’s started games in both New England and Vegas previously, as an upgrade at the QB2 spot.
Bears emerging as early spenders
Considering their wealth of cap space, long shopping list, and the clear indication they’re all-in on building around Justin Fields after trading away the first overall pick, the Bears were expected to be big spenders this spring.
And based on the many reports coming out of Chicago, they’re making good on that.
Defensively, this is looking like a brand new squad with the addition of big-name linebackers like former Eagle T.J. Edwards (via Ian Rapoport) and ex-Bill Tremaine Edmunds (via Adam Schefter). On offence, GM Ryan Poles gifted Fields a new weapon via the trade with Carolina last week that sees D.J. Moore join Chicago and now brings in a bodyguard to help him thrive — Titans guard Nate Davis (via Ian Rapoport).