Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
The next 24 hours could get kind of crazy in the NFL and that's because the franchise tag deadline is coming tomorrow. The window for teams to tag their franchise players has been open since Feb. 22 and I'm not going to sugarcoat things here -- it's been pretty boring so far on that front. In the 13 days since the window opened, there were exactly ZERO players tagged. However, that changed on Monday when we got our FIRST TWO TAGS OF THE YEAR, which we'll be covering in today's newsletter.
We'll also be covering Aaron Rodgers, because covering Aaron Rodgers is literally 74% of my job description at this point. Rodgers seems to be on the fence about what he wants to do and we'll take a look at his options.
As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Alright, let's get to the rundown.
1. Today's show: Monday Mailbag!
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week on the Pick Six Podcast by adding a listener mailbag every Monday.
Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I'm pretty sure there was one time when someone asked us what our favorite donut was and I'm still not sure if they meant favorite spot to get donuts or favorite flavor of doughnut. I'll let you know if I ever figure that one out.
Anyway, if you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review that includes your question.
Here's one question that we answered in today's mailbag:
Q: Where would be the best non-U.S. location for a Super Bowl and why?
A: I think the obvious choice here is London, but I don't ever pick the obvious choice so I'm going to go with a completely different European city: Paris. If I'm traveling halfway around the world to watch my favorite team play in the Super Bowl, I want to know that the game is going to be played in a city where I can spend the entire week, because there's a good chance if you're traveling to a Super Bowl in a foreign city, you're going to be spending the entire week there.
I would also vote for Amsterdam because I'm pretty sure any fan alive could find something fun to do there. They also had an NFL Europe team for 13 seasons, which is the second-longest of any European city (Only Frankfurt, Germany, had one for longer).
Of course, the one issue with putting a game in Europe is that the time difference would mess with the game's kickoff time. The Super Bowl normally kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET, which would be 12:30 a.m. in Paris. I mean, I guess a Super Bowl that kicks off at "Midnight in Paris" would actually be perfect, but I don't think the city of love would be on board with a game kicking off that late.
If you want the game to kick off at a normal hour, you'd probably need to hold it somewhere in the Western Hemisphere, which is why Toronto or Mexico City would also be interesting options.
To listen to the rest of the mailbag, be sure to click here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here and you'll definitely want to do that since it's just me and Will Brinson answering random questions.
2. Aaron Rodgers is torn on his decision, apparently eyeing three AFC teams if he leaves Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers has been saying for weeks that he'd like to make a decision about his future by the time the franchise tag deadline rolls around, which is definitely notable, because the franchise tag deadline is tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET.
The problem for Rodgers is that it doesn't sound like he's quite ready to make a decision, at least based on the reporting that came out over the weekend.
If you took the weekend off from football news, here's what you missed in the Rodgers department:
- The QB is torn over what he wants to do. The NFL's official website reported on Friday night that Rodgers is "truly torn" about his future. Rodgers has three options -- return to Green Bay, ask for a trade or retire -- and it appears he can't decide which one would be the best for him. Apparently, the four-time NFL MVP has been "going back and forth on what he wants."
- Rodgers possibly eyeing three AFC teams. One reason Rodgers might be going "back and forth" about his future is because it seems that he has a few options on the table that no one knew about. According to a bombshell report from Pro Football Talk that dropped on Friday, Rodgers is looking at three AFC teams -- the Broncos, Titans and Steelers -- and his camp already has deals in place with each team in the event that the QB should decide he wants a trade to one of those locations.
- Other reports suggest the Packers have had zero trade talks with anyone. There were multiple reports over the weekend that said the Packers haven't had any trade talks involving Rodgers and although that could be the case, that doesn't mean PFT's report isn't true. It's very possible the Packers gave Rodgers' camp permission to get a trade deal in place in the event the QB wants to move on. In this instance, this would technically mean the Packers haven't had any trade talks, but it would also make it very easy for a trade to come together if Rodgers decides he doesn't want to return to Green Bay. The terms of the deal would already be in place, so at that point, the Packers would just have to sign off on it.
- Rodgers has a huge offer on the table from the Packers. According to ESPN.com, Rodgers has received a "market-altering" contract offer from the Packers. Although the report doesn't include how much the contract is worth, you have to think it would make him the highest-paid QB in the NFL if it's truly a market-altering offer. If that's the case, that means the Packers are willing to pay Rodgers more than $45 million per year to keep him.
- Rodgers spent his weekend at a teammate's wedding. With rumors swirling about his future, Rodgers still managed to have what looked to be a fun time over the weekend. According to Mike Silver from Bally Sports, the Packers QB was in California on Saturday where he OFFICIATED the wedding for his teammate, David Bakhtiari. Silver also reported that Packers coach Matt LaFleur was in attendance.
You can basically look at this Rodgers wedding news in one of two ways. If you're a Packers fan, it would seem like a good thing that Rodgers just spent his weekend officiating a teammate's wedding with LaFleur in attendance. On the other hand, if Rodgers was going to return to Green Bay, announcing it before the wedding would have given him a chance to really celebrate. The pessimistic point of view here would be that he held off on making his decision because he's leaning toward leaving and he knew that would overshadow the wedding if he announced it beforehand.
I think what I'm trying to say here is that I have no idea what Rodgers is going to do, which makes sense, because I don't think he has any idea, either.
3. Combine roundup: 40-yard-dash record almost gets topped by two different players
If you didn't spend your entire weekend watching the NFL combine, that's OK, because I did and I'm here to tell you what you missed and what you missed was one of the best 40 performances in the history of the event.
Here's what happened over the weekend at the combine:
- Baylor defensive back almost breaks combine record in the 40. Kalon Barnes ran his 40 in a blazing fast 4.23 seconds, which is the second-fastest time in the history of the combine. Barnes came within .01 seconds of tying John Ross' record of 4.22, which was set in 2017.
- Defensive backs put on a show in the 40. Barnes wasn't the only one with a speedy 40 time, Tariq Woolen -- out of the University of Texas at San Antonio -- ran a 4.26, which is tied for the fourth-fastest time. Only Ross, Barnes and Chris Johnson have ever recorded a faster time.
- Baylor shows off its speed. Baylor had THREE guys run under 4.4 in the 40 marking the first time in the history of the combine that three teammates finished below that number at the same combine. Besides Barnes, WR Tyquan Thornton (4.28) and DB J.T. Woods (4.36) also showed off their speed. According to NFL research, there hasn't been a single school since 2003 that has produced at least three guys who ran under a 4.4 and that's over a 19-year period. Baylor produced three guys in a single year.
- Winners and losers at the combine. If you want to check out our winners and losers from the weekend, be sure to click here. Two of our winners at defensive back were Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame) and Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner (Cincinnati). Auburn's Smoke Monday also wins my personal award for having the coolest name at the combine.
That winners and losers list is just for the position groups that were at the combine over the weekend. If you want to see our winners and losers for the entire combine, be sure to click here.
4. NFC South team needs: Three of four teams in the division facing a big question at QB
Over the course of this week, we'll be covering the offseason needs for each team by going through each division and today we're going to be going over the NFC South.
With that in mind, Tyler Sullivan went through every team in the division and made a list of their biggest needs to fill this offseason.
Top-five needs (in no particular order): QB, RB, OL, CB, DL
Tyler's take: Outside of quarterback, possible free agent departures could determine the biggest needs for the Bucs. Receiver Chris Godwin, center Ryan Jensen, and cornerback Carlton Davis are the heavy hitters slated to hit unrestricted free agency. The franchise tag could be utilized on one of those players to retain them for the 2022 season, but the team is facing a potential exodus. Along the defensive line, Ndamukong Suh, William Gholston, Steve McLendon, and Pat O'Connor are all set to hit free agency as well, which could completely reshape that unit.
Top-five needs: QB, OT, WR, DL, S
Tyler's take: Figuring out the quarterback position will be priority No. 1 for new head coach Dennis Allen. Taysom Hill, Ian Book, and Blake Bortles are all under contract for the 2022 season, while Jameis Winston is slated to hit free agency. New Orleans could look to re-sign Winston and keep him as their starter.
Top-five needs: IOL, WR, DL, CB, QB
Tyler's take: Not only are Cordarrelle Patterson and Russell Gage slated to hit free agency, but star pass catcher Calvin Ridley could also request a trade leaving a massive hole at receiver. Pass protecting along the interior of the offensive line will be another priority for Atlanta. Ryan has been sacked at least 40 times over the last four seasons and the O-line ranked 20th in the league in adjusted sack rate, according to Football Outsiders.
Top-five needs: QB, OT, G, C, CB
Tyler's take: Quarterback is still a huge need for Carolina. The Sam Darnold experiment went up in flames and the Cam Newton reunion proved to be more of a sentimental boost rather than helping the on-field product. The Panthers could go in a couple of directions to try to address the position. They hold the No. 6 overall pick in the draft and could look to bring in a young signal-caller with that selection, so making a trade or signing a QB might make more sense.
If you want to see the full explanation for each team's needs, then be sure to click here.
5. Franchise tag deadline is one day away
It took 13 days, but someone finally used the franchise tag and that someone was the Chiefs.
Let's take a look at that tag and the other tags that could go down before the tag deadline closes at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday (Contrary to what that sentence might make you think, I don't get paid a small bonus any time I use the word "tag.")
- Chiefs tag Orlando Brown. According to ESPN.com, the Chiefs have decided to tag their offensive tackle. The two sides now have until July to hammer out a long-term deal and if that can't be done, then Brown will play the season on a one-year tag deal worth roughly $16.66 million. This move isn't a surprise because there's no way the Chiefs were going to let Brown walk. The Chiefs traded a 2021 first-round pick (31st overall), a 2021 third-round pick (94th overall) and a 2021 fourth-round pick (136th overall) to acquire Brown last July and it would have been crazy to let him walk after one year considering the compensation they had to give up to get him. The tagging of Brown means the Chiefs won't be tagging Tyrann Mathieu, who will now get to test the open market.
- Browns tag David Njoku. Less than two years ago, Njoku requested a trade out of Cleveland, but it seems his opinion of the team has changed over the past 19 months. Not only has Njoku been tagged, but his camp is now working on a long-term deal with the Browns, according to NFL.com. If the two sides can't get something worked out by July, Njoku will play out the season at the tag number for tight ends, which is expected to be $10.91 million.
- Packers almost certain to tag Davante Adams. The Aaron Rodgers situation is throwing a small wrench in things here, but no matter what happens with the Packers' star QB, it's almost impossible to imagine Green Bay letting Adams walk in free agency. If the two sides can't get a deal done by Tuesday, it seems almost certain that he'll be tagged.
- Chargers likely to tag Mike Williams. The Chargers have decided they don't want to lose their star receiver, which is why they've decided to use the tag on him if they can't get a long-term contract done, according to USA Today. As a receiver, the tag would pay Williams roughly $18.42 million for 2022.
- Bengals expected to tag Jessie Bates. The Bengals have been trying to work out a deal with Bates since last offseason and with the two sides still at an impasse, the Bengals will use the tag on Tuesday if no deal is reached, according to USA Today. As a safety, the tag would pay Bates roughly $12.9 million for 2022.
- Other tag candidates: Other players to keep an eye on over the next 24 hours are Chris Godwin (Buccaneers), Dalton Schultz (Cowboys) and Mike Gesicki (Dolphins). Using a tag on a tight end isn't that expensive ($10.91 million), which is why it won't be surprising at all to see Schultz or Gesicki get tagged. As for Godwin, it's pretty much a done deal that he'll be tagged, according to USA Today. Once Godwin is tagged, the two sides will have nearly four months to work on a long-term deal.
- One player not likely to get tagged. One surprising player who likely won't get tagged is Patriots corner J.C. Jackson. According to NFL.com, Jackson is demanding big money and the Patriots have decided they're not going to pay it. Tagging Jackson would cost the Patriots $17.29 million for the 2022 season.
With the tag deadline coming tomorrow, it's definitely going to be an interesting 24 hours in the NFL.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Seahawks turned down blockbuster deal for Russell Wilson
It's been a busy 24 hours in the NFL, and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Seahawks turned down blockbuster trade offer for Russell Wilson. At some point this offseason, the Washington Commanders offered multiple first-round picks to Seattle in an effort to acquire Wilson, but the deal didn't happen because the Seahawks shot them down. For more details on that situation, be sure to click here.
- 49ers hire Brian Griese as QB coach. The former ESPN Monday night analyst is now returning to the NFL. According to ESPN.com, the 49ers have hired Griese to replace Rich Scangarello, who left the team for the offensive coordinator job at the University of Kentucky.
- Cowboys could move on from Demarcus Lawrence. The Cowboys recently asked Lawrence to take a pay cut and he declined, which could set the stage for his exit from Dallas. With the Cowboys over the cap and looking to make some salary cap space, the team might end up releasing Lawrence in a cost-cutting move.
- Amazon set to hire Kirk Herbstreit. With Amazon getting "Thursday Night Football" for the 2022 season, the internet giant has been busy looking for a color analyst. After getting turned down by Troy Aikman and Sean McVay, it appears Amazon has settled on Herbstreit. According to Peter King of NBC, the two sides have worked out a deal that will make Herbstreit Amazon's first official on-screen hire for "TNF."
- Bills give Cole Beasley permission to seek trade. After three seasons in Buffalo, Beasley's time with the Bills could be coming to an end. The receiver requested permission to seek a trade last week and the Bills granted it, which means there's a good chance he could be on the move this offseason.