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NFL Offseason Weekly Report: Franchise Tag Week

A rather busy week on the NFL schedule did not disappoint with the amount of news and rumors. We have plenty to get to so let’s get into it with some quick snippets in the new weekly report articles!

Carolina Moves Up #1

We have our first movement for April’s Draft and it’s a big one. Carolina made a trade with Chicago for the rights to the #1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft. They gave up #9, #61, #1 2024, #2 2025 and WR DJ Moore. That’s a HUGE haul for Chicago and allows them to continue the re-build at a brisk pace. On the other hand, Carolina is now on the clock and has first choice of the QB class. Obviously, they could trade it again but that seems unlikely. This assures we will have a QB go 1-2 and maybe even 1-2-3 if another team trades up to 3. Indianapolis seems like the candidate to trade up to 3 now with Arizona to secure either Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, or Anthony Richardson. Expect even more movement as we get closer to April.

Aaron Rodgers and The Jets

Rodgers has emerged from his darkness retreat and up to this point has told us nothing of what he wanted to do with his future. However, we did get word that he met the Jets this week with a contingency that included the owner Woody Johnson. The Packers have granted the Jets permission to talk to Rodgers. Talks are very early but the Jets are "optimistic" about him joining the team in New York. Regardless, it seems that Rodgers time in Green Bay is over and the Jordan Love era has begun.

Lamar Jackson Non-Exclusive

We got some resolution in one of the largest off season stories. Baltimore was unable to get a long-term deal done with Jackson and they will be using the Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag on him this season. That means he will make $32 Million and he can now negotiate with other teams on a long term deal if he desires. However, Baltimore can match any offer and if they choose not to, then Baltimore will be rewarded with 2 first round draft picks as compensation. Jackson reportedly wants a fully guaranteed 6 year contract, which many teams will not give, so the game continues with Jackson as he can begin to discuss new contracts on Wednesday.

Daniel Jones Extension/Saquon Barkley Tag

The New York Giants have locked up their two offensive pillars, at least in the short term. Barkley was given the exclusive franchise tag for this coming season and will be locked in as the starting running back. Jones signs a 4-year $160 Million dollar extension. If you delve into the numbers a little more, Jones will receive $82 Million guaranteed in the first two years of the contract and will have no more guaranteed money after that. This was a great deal for both sides and will allow the Giants to get out of the deal (or restructuring) it down the line. The jury is still out on Daniel Jones, so his new contract keeps the pressure on him to deliver bigger numbers.

Derek Carr

The Derek Carr sweepstakes ended where it started. Carr signs a 4-year $160 Million contract with $100 Million in guaranteed money with the New Orleans Saints. Carr amassed a 63-79 record in Oakland/Las Vegas. Saints overpaid a bit for a starting quarterback with a losing record, but he does bring some credibility and leadership to the position since the retirement of Drew Brees. Saints will instantly be contender with the weakness in the NFC South division.

Geno Smith

The 2023 NFL Comeback Player Of The Year Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith gets a vote of confidence from the franchise for the short term. Contract numbers add up to $105 Million over 3 years. Like Daniel Jones, the contract is front loaded and cap friendly. Geno will only carry a cap hit of about $10 Million for 2023 and if they decide to keep him into 2024 that increases to $31 Million (2024) and $33 Million (2025). They also have an out next season if this past season was a fluke. Don’t count out Seattle when it comes to draft a QB in this April’s draft either. Smith is 32 and this is a short term deal.

Calvin Ridley Reinstated/Evan Engram Tag

The Jacksonville Jaguars got some good news from the NFL last week, as their recently acquired wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been reinstated to the NFL after missing the past season after an investigation concluded he was gambling on NFL games. With Evan Engram receiving a well-deserved franchise tag this allows Jacksonville to bring back the majority (if not all) of their offensive nucleus for next season. Lawrence gains another target with Ridley and will have all of training camp to get acclimated.

Derrick Henry

The roster revamp in Tennessee and new GM Ran Carthon might bring another large casualty. After releasing a hand full of veterans last week to free up much needed cap space. Derrick Henry might be the next one to go, however not by releasing. If reports are true, Henry is being shopped around the NFL. He will have plenty of interest but will be difficult to pull off with his massive contract and the less dependency on running backs in today’s modern NFL. Look for Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Miami to be names to watch in possible trade scenarios.

Tony Pollard/Zeke Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard gets the exclusive franchise last week. If the Cowboys stick with both Zeke and Pollard that means they will have approximately $27 Million on the books for two running backs. That’s quite a bit of money commitment in this modern pass happy NFL. You can ask for Zeke to take a pay cut or release him. Owner Jerry Jones isn’t shy about expectations every year and having that much money tied up into two RBs doesn’t mesh with his vision of Super Bowl aspirations.

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