Thank God for Legal Tampering Day. How nice is it to get away from the insufferable drone of that dreaded plague and remember for once that sport still rules supreme. Certainly a few teams in the NFL seemed to be fed up with the same old news story anyway, as we saw some blockbuster trades and some important free agency agreements made.
Let’s take a look at the winners
1. Arizona pulls Houston’s pants down – Cardinals trade David Johnson, a 2020 2nd and 2021 4th: Receive DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 4th.
Holy smokes, who saw this one coming? Arguably the best receiver in the league moves out to the desert to join the rising star and last years’ first overall pick Kyler Murray, as well as teaming up with future first ballot hall of famer Larry Fitzgerald and his young protege’s in Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler.
This move is monstrous in more ways than one for Arizona. Not only has Kyler got a deep, super talented plethora of receiving talent to throw to, the team can now focus on building that o-line and protecting Murray in this deep offensive lineman draft, and all of a sudden, with the right pieces – Arizona are challengers for the NFC West.
As for Houston… here’s a life lesson kids – if you ever own an NFL team, employ a general manager. First Clowney got shown no respect, now their best player is also out of the door. What are they thinking? For a team close to being considered a deep playoff contender, they certainly won’t get there by trading away all of of their best players… especially for peanuts!
An honourable mention for winners of today’s antics has to go to the defensive secondaries in Indianapolis, Tennessee and Jacksonville though. No more will they have to worry about being torn apart twice a year by a Nuke.
2. Indy finally get a DT – Indy trade away their 1.13 pick to San Francisco for pro bowl defensive tackle DeForest Bucknerand then give him a $21m extension
A glaring need for Indianapolis for the last couple of season has been in the middle of the defensive line. They prioritised offensive line 2 off-seasons ago when Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith were drafted in the first two rounds to help protect the Quarterback, and 2019 saw the defensive secondary get a boost along with a pair of linebackers. Offensive skill position players is also a need this off season, but defensive line was arguably the priority.
The Colts have a tonne of cap to use up so bringing in a 25 year old 2 x pro-bowler and former 7th overall pick and giving him an extension immediately seems a masterstroke from Ballard and Reich at this point in time. Costing Indy their 13th overall pick from the upcoming draft would indicate the Colts are close to wrapping up Pip Rivers for the 2020 campaign and either looking for the long term solution at QB in day 2 of the draft, or waiting for 2021.
3. Cleveland reinvigorates it’s O-Line –Sought after Offensive Tackle Jack Conklin, formerly of the Titans, signs for the Browns on a $42m deal with $30m of it guaranteed.
They are trying, bless them. The Mayfield experiment was successful in 2018. Not so much in 2019 even though they brought in the infamous OBJ to pair with Jarvis Landry out wide. The downfall was mainly because Baker had no time in the pocket.
Since Joe Thomas retired and Greg Robinson never lived up to the hype, Conklin becomes an important cog in that line protecting Mayfield which could prove to be the difference between under performers and playoff hunters.
4. Hayden Hurst evolves from a Raven to a Falcon –Atlanta replace newly departed Austin Hooper with former first round pick in 2018.
It can’t have been easy for Hurst who was drafted to be a main target for the future of the Ravens signal caller Lamar Jackson, but instead getting outshone by a player drafted later in the same draft as you, Mark Andrews.
Hurst racked up just 512 yards and 3 TD’s in his time in Baltimore, but now he gets to spread his wings like a Falcon where he should be the only pass catching tight end in town. Matty Ice has a history of getting the best out of his tight ends too, so expect Hurst to level up in 2020.
5. Dolphins defense rebuild starts –Miami add CB Byron Jones and EDGE Shaq Lawson as the roster reconstruction officially gets underway.
The Dolphins started the day as the team with the most cap to spend and they didn’t disappoint. They dropped $10m a year on both O-Lineman Ereck Flowers and former Bills edge rusher Lawson whereas the highest rated corner in the free agency pool, Byron Jones, became the most expensive with a rumoured $18mil a year deal.
It’s a good start for a team that is in desperate need for talented stars.
It’s an historic day in the NFL amidst all the uncertainty at the moment about the new league year and beyond with the looming hindrance of the Coronavirus outbreak with Free Agency/rookie pro days scheduled in jeopardy along with the potential postponement of the draft.
However in the past few hours and after months of negotiation, it has been confirmed that the NFL players have agreed to the terms of the new Collection Bargaining Agreement.
The deal was voted on by the players over the last 10 days and the final vote turned out in favour of passing the deal by 1019 votes to 959, as only a simple majority was required. This means just 51.5% of players voted in agreement of the change (something we know a great deal about here in the UK #brexit). More of concern though, is that only around 80% of the players voted. Reasons as to why the 20% or so didn’t remains to be seen.
Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL issued a statement, saying:
“We are pleased that the players have voted to ratify the proposed new CBA, which will provide substantial benefits to all current and retired players, increase jobs, ensure continued progress on player safety, and give our fans more and better football.”
So what does this mean for the NFL and you, the fan?
Well, fans of the Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans look away now as it also means that there is no longer the facility to use both a franchise tag AND a transition tag meaning things could get quite interesting for Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. Rumour has it that the league is considering delaying the start of the new league year in order to allow these teams to usher along negotiations with their respective parties.
It has been announced the salary cap for the upcoming season is $198.2m, a rise of just $10m. This is expected to shoot up over the next couple of years once the extra revenue streams and TV deals start leaking their money into the bloodstream of the NFL.
Looking a bit further into the future and the 2020 season, you will likely see a new playoff format come in to effect, with 7 teams now advancing to the playoffs from each conference and consequently, only the #1 seed from both the AFC and NFC will get a first round bye. Whilst unlikely, if all the dominoes fell the right way, this could actually see 1 division provide 4 playoff teams.
Fast forward to 2021, this is where the league could exercise it’s right to move to 17 regular season games (with the last pre-season game making way) , and thus trigger the upper echelon of player revenues to 48.5%, a 0.5% increase from season where 16 games are played.
Some other bits of cornerstones surrounding the new CBA which will take effect in 2020:
Changes to the league’s drugs testing and disciplinary process has tweaks including the allowance of Marijuana for the players for usage under self medicating. However, where no suspensions will come in to effect, there is a possibility that the fines replacing the suspension could essentially mean that a player misses a game cheque but still being allowed to play in a game. This is important for player bonuses on contracts and qualifiers on thresholds on extra contract bonuses for players.
Minimum salaries are now increased which filters through to practice squads, meaning those players at the bottom end of rosters have more money in their pockets sooner.
Expanded game day rosters moves from 46 to 48 (one of which must be an offensive lineman).
Players at the higher end of the play scale have publicily voiced their disapproval at the deal and you have to wonder whether or not there may be some repercussions from the big names of the NFL (I’m not suggesting a holdout, but you have to wonder if there are any loopholes that will allow the Russell Wilsons or JJ Watts to miss time without punishment.
The crux of the matter is though, that the NFL and it’s players have an agreement in place which will run through to 2030, which means good news for the majority including the millions of fans across the globe.
The fallout however, is only just beginning.
Who will Dallas and Tennessee franchise tag? How will Free Agency and the players entering it be affected? And will the leagues stars have a trick up their sleeve to show their dissatisfaction? How will the coronavirus affect the next few weeks and months and possibly the season? Make sure you keep those eyes peeled to find out and keep it here at Full10Yards.
Now that the NFL combine has concluded and we have a better idea of what this class’ draft stock is, I thought i’d join the masses in predicting who will go where come April in the first round when the draft party descends on Las Vegas.
Pick 1: Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB – LSU
I wanted to go against the flow, i really did. For me, Chase Young is the best talent in this draft, but I think the Bengals need to rebuild from top to bottom, and that starts with a franchise QB. Burrow was the stand out player in College football in 2019, he’s done enough to prove himself a quality option for the NFL. Cinci need him, the re-build of the Bengals dynasty starts here.
Pick 2 MOCK TRADE: Las Vegas Raiders via Washington – Chase Young, EDGE – Ohio State
What a way to kick start their new identity as the Las Vegas Raiders than blowing Day 1 out of the water with a monster trade in front of their new home fans, right! With two first rounders and three third rounders in this years’ draft, I think the Raiders will put any stock necessary in order to pair Young up with last years’ first pick, Clelin Ferrell. Corner, Wide Receiver and QB needs can be addressed either in the free agency or later in the draft.
As previously mentioned, I believe Young is the best player in this player pool. With Washington not having a need at EDGE, the offer from another team, in this case Las Vegas, will be too big to turn down. The Skins will have opportunities to strengthen later down this list.
Pick 3 MOCK TRADE: Miami Dolphins via Detroit – Tua Tagovailoa, QB – Alabama
It’s bold predicting trades early on, i know! But i can see it happening. Detroit need secondary help above anything else with Darius Slay on the downturn and no obvious replacements currently on their roster. They will be able to grab the player they need back at pick 5 though, as well as gaining a sweetener extra pick later in the draft.
After seeing Burrow picked at 1, the Dolphins will be keen to get it over and done with before anyone else jumps in to this slot before them (sorry Charger fans). Tua has been destined for Miami ever since the ‘Tank for Tua’ slogan appeared early on at the beginning of last season when it looked inevitable that Miami would probably be picking first. Well, that wasn’t to be, however, with Tua’s unfortunate injury at the end of the 2019 campaign, his draft stock took a small dent too. Stars have aligned, Tua will still be a Dolphin.
Pick 4: New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, OL – Iowa
After seemingly finding Eli’s replacement this time last year in Daniel Jones, the next logical step for the G-men is to get him protected. Wirfs was one of the stand-outs in this years’ combine which has probably justified his ‘Top 5’ value.
Pick 5 MOCK TRADE: Detroit Lions via Miami – Jeff Okudah, CB – Ohio State
Still available here for the Lions will be the best corner in the draft. Plug in and play alongside Slay in order to gain experience from him and replace him when his contract expires in 2021. It’s a no brainer, probably the best lock down corner through the draft since Jalen Ramsey and a big need for Detroit
Pick 6: Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB – Oregon
The Chargers will be fighting an internal battle over this pick. They are still desperate for offensive line help and there are some gems in this draft class, yet their team is not a million miles away from being playoff worthy. However, to be that, they will need a replacement for Pip Rivers. Herbert ticks a lot of boxes. He was slated to go 1.01 last season before heading back to Oregon for another term and he impressed at the combine as expected. Herbert could be the answer Charger fans.
Luke Kuechly is gone. He was one of the centrepieces of the organisation and Simmons will fit into Matt Rhules’ desire to build a formidable defense as Kuechly’s replacement. Can also play at Safety if the Panthers prioritise building their defensive secondary first
Pick 8: Arizona Cardinals – Mekhi Becton, OL – Louisville
Offensive Line has been a glaring need for a few years now in Arizona. At 6’7 and 364lbs, Becton is still one of the most athletic freaks in this class. He’ll be a game changer for Kyler Murray as he searches for the next level.
Last year Josh Allen fell in their laps at pick 7 last year, and Brown is going to do the same this year for them. Defensive line is a need for Jacksonville and in a lesser talent-filled class, Brown would be considered a top 5 pick.
Pick 10: Cleveland Browns – Jedrick Wills, OL – Alabama
The Browns need a tackle. Their O-line has never lived up to the hype that it was supposed to be, and with the news of Greg Robinson’s arrest. they’ll need to sure the line up. Two stud O-lineman remain on the board, but I think Wills nudges it over Andrew Thomas down to a better showing in their Junior year.
Pick 11: New York Jets – Andrew Thomas, OL – Georgia
The need for O-lineman in the NFL is plentiful. The Jets’ are in that conversation and will take the last remaining stud tackle in this first round. Andrew Thomas is an NFL ready tackle who will provide better protection for Sam Darnold. Good pick.
Pick 12 MOCK TRADE: Washington Redskins via Las Vegas – C.J Henderson, CB – Florida
Henderson had a great combine and boosted his draft stock back into the top half of day one. Although Josh Norman hasn’t performed well over the last couple of years, he’ll still need replacing and it would be good if the skins could pair another stud corner with last years’ stand out Quinton Dunbar.
I have the Skins’ down for acquiring both Raider first rounders for the 2nd over all pick, other needs can be addressed later.
Pick 13: Indianapolis Colts – Jerry Jeudy, WR – Alabama
If Indy don’t acquire a QB in free agency, then Jordan Love/Jake Fromm could be in play here. However, Indy need better receiving options for whoever is slinging the rock in 2020. TY Hilton is the speed threat, Jeudy will be an all round threat. Remember Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne? Time for a repeat. A few slated Jeudy’s combine, however, his combine was still statistically better than those from DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas and Davante Adams…and they turned out to be elite receivers… just sayin’
Pick 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jordan Love, QB – Utah State
Similarly to Indy, this pick is dependant on whether the Bucs address the QB position in the free agency. However, even if Jameis was to return, Jordan Love would be the type of QB the Bucs would like – a stronger, faster and dare I say less mistake prone version of famous Jameis. The Bucs already have a stellar offensive cast of characters, Love would be a great fit.
Courtland Sutton is the up and coming receiver in Denver and it would be nice to pair him up with another stud on the opposite flank. Denver has a few other needs including o-line and cornerback, but personally I think Lamb is the best player available in those needed positions.
Pick 16: Atlanta Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE – LSU
Offensive line, defensive secondary, tight end, (providing Hooper isn’t re-signed), running back are all big needs for Atlanta. None more so than on the Edge now Vic Beasley is out of town. Chaisson is the pick here to help provide some much needed quarterback pressure.
If Kinlaw falls this far, it’ll certainly be a case of taking the best player available for the Cowboys. Defensive line is a need for them if Maliek Collins heads to free agency, so this pick should go down well with the Cowboys’ faithful, even if that means not replacing Byron Jones or Amari Cooper if they haven’t been re-signed either.
Pick 18: Miami Dolphins – Patrick Queen, LB – LSU
Pick a position (except QB as they now have Tua of course) and it’s a need for Miami. Queen had a good combine and as a result his draft stock has risen. He’s an explosive linebacker with a strong presence, just what Miami need on defense.
Pick 19 MOCK TRADE: Washington Redskins via Las Vegas – Josh Jones, OL – Houston
With Brandon Scherff likely off in free agency and an ageing tackle Donald Penn, the Skins need to bolster their offensive line. Some might think Jones is a reach at 19, but with all the ‘studs’ gone already, the next best will start to come into play around now. Washington will be happy if they walk out of day 1 with a stud cornerback and a potential elite offensive lineman. Tight end and receiving depth can be easily found on day 2
Corner seems to be a big need these days for Jacksonville, we’ve not had to say that for a while, have we. Terrell could be Jalen Ramsey’s true replacement and has all the traits and measurables to make it in the NFL too. No brainer Duval, let’s rebuild that defense this year and start from square one… again.
Pick 21: Philadelphia Eagles – Grant Delpit, S – LSU
LSU’s star DB is still on the board due to teams ahead prioritising other needs. Yes Philly need a field stretching receiver, yes there are still quality wide-outs on the board, but they also need defensive secondary help. Delpit is a talent far superior to anybody left on the board. Should be a top 20 pick.
Pick 22: Buffalo Bills – A.J Epenesa, EDGE – Iowa
Lorenzo Alexander has retired and Shaq Lawson looks set for free agency making an edge rusher one of the main needs for the Bills this off-season. Epenesa’s stock has fallen after a poor combine, but he has plenty of tape which will back any argument up for him to be a potential star at the next level. A bit of a gamble but plenty of upside.
Pick 23: New England Patriots – Henry Ruggs III, WR – Alabama
The combine superstar will wind up a Pat. They have a veteran route runner in Edelman and they have an all rounder in N’Keal Harry when he finally comes to fruition. What they need is a speed freak on the outside to give -insert here the QB that’s replacing Brady- a plethora of different style of receiver. Tight end comes in day 2 or 3
Pick 24 MOCK TRADE: Chicago Bears via New Orleans- Austin Jackson, OL – USC
This is all assuming Brees is back. The Saints have no second round picks and no real pressing needs other than receiver depth and defensive secondary cover which they can get in the second round if needs be.
Chicago trades both of their second rounders to move up and grab the last of the ‘next best’ tackles in the draft. The Bears know the Vikes might go OL and the Dolphins are up again in a couple of picks and are likely wanting a piece of this o-line friendly first round too. Chicago needs o-line strengthening after a poor 25th PPF ranked finish when the 2019 season was over.
Pick 25: Minnesota Vikings – Tee Higgins, WR – Clemson
With the best of the offensive lineman off the board it becomes a ‘best player’ available in a position of need for the Vikings. They could look to strengthen their already stout defense and take Gross-Matos, Kristian Fulton or Trevon Diggs… but I think they lean on bolstering their offensive weapons and replace the underwhelming Laquon Treadwell. Tee Higgins is the receiver they wanted Treadwell to be.
As with Minnesota, it’s best player available. Again, they could go different routes, but why not break into a position that’s remained untapped thus far. Swift offers more than just rushing upside, he’ a Swiss army knife and will be a great compliment for Tua. Sorry fantasy fans.
The continuing theme throughout the back end of this draft is the same – these teams need offensive lineman! However, with the good ones, well, the first round worthy ones all gone, there’s too much talent left in other positions to turn down and reach for the next wave of o-lineman. Diggs is just this. A superb corner and will tick off one less need for Pete Carroll this off-season
Pick 28: Baltimore Ravens – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE – Penn State
The Ravens don’t have many needs as things stand with how they move the ball. They invested in wide receivers last year and have a stout defense. However, they would benefit from having a stronger pass-rush. Tie this in with Gross-Matos being one of the best players left on the board and ‘voila’. Gross-Matos put up solid numbers in his junior season for a formidable Penn State defense, falling to 28 is a gift for Baltimore.
Pick 29: Tennessee Titans – Tyler Biadasz, C – Wisconsin
If Derrick Henry doesn’t return then this pick is Jonathan Taylor, however I believe Henry has proved his worth and will be back in Nashville in 2020. This opens the door up to improve at Centre by taking the best on the board in Tyler Biadasz. There always seems to be a Centre go day 1…so this is it!
Pick 30: Green Bay Packers – Justin Jefferson, WR – LSU
Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, E.Q St Brown, Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard. All average receivers that have had their spoils but ultimately aren’t trustworthy enough for Aaron Rodgers to use reliably. The Packers could thin that group down and take a versatile all round talent who turned heads at the combine, solidifying his worth as a first round prospect. Unload the deadwood McCarthy brought in and restock with talent you chose Matt LaFleur.
Pick 31: San Francisco 49ers – Xavier McKinney, S – Alabama
A close battle between McKinney and Delpit for the best Safety out of college this year. I’ve edged with Delpit, others with McKinney. Both are first round talents, both will be excellent in the pros. San Fran have very few holes either side of the ball, however with Jimmie Ward heading to free agency, Safety becomes a need.
Pick 32: Kansas City Chiefs – Jonathan Taylor, RB – Wisconsin
Fantasy fans rejoice. A superstar running back is heading to a team where the coach knows how to run the ball extremely well. It’s KC’s glaring hole in their elite offense, and I think Coach Reid will be licking his chops to get a talent like Taylor on his roster.
Chris Ballard and Frank Reich have already become icons for Colts fans, despite only being with the franchise a combined five years. A large reason for this, is how this dynamic duo go about their business during the off-season. It’s usually calculated, well thought out with a big emphasis on getting the right character for the dressing room over stats or ability.
Indy haven’t hit the headlines for their flashy moves by over-spending on the free agency over the last couple of off-seasons, neither have they drafted the ‘big names’ when the opportunity was there to do so (Quenton Nelson being the exception). Yet, the scheme and thought process works, and that is why there is a healthy level of respect from the fans towards Ballard and Reich’s transaction decision making.
For these reasons, predicting who Indianapolis are likely targeting this off-season is a difficult challenge, but it’s always fun having to dig deeper than you might have to for other teams when you have to take into consideration players personal characteristics off the field as much as what they can do on it. So, to get in to the complex thought processes of the Colts backstaff, we need to breakdown their current roster and see what their more pressing needs are as we head into the free agent frenzy.
Current Roster Grades
QB – C+
RB – B
TE – B-
WR – C
T* – B-
G – B
C – A-
DT – B-
DE – C+
LB – B+
S* – B+
CB – B
*Assuming LT Anthony Castonzo and S Clayton Geathers will re-sign as rumoured, otherwise grade decreases significantly.
Needs – Major – QB, WR, DE, TE Minor – RG, DT, CB
Philip Rivers – I like this narrative and Indy needs a rebound. Let me explain. Jacoby Brissett is the ‘meh’ girlfriend. I mean she looks ok, she’s a nice person, you have a good time but she’s no wife material. The Brissett experiment is dead in the water now, thanks for the good times Jacoby, but we gotta move on. Pip Rivers is the rebound. The next girlfriend, the friend with benefits, the ‘let’s have some fun before I look to settle down’ kind of deal, you catch my drift i’m sure.
He’ll bring his experience, he’ll get to reunite with Frank Reich and OC Nick Sirianni and he’ll have a decent chance of providing a solid playoff run to the Colts faithful at Lucas Oil in 2020.
Rivers will be the perfect stop gap before Indy commit to either drafting a future franchise QB with this upcoming draft or in 2021, and if they make a move this draft season, sitting behind Philip Rivers and learning the trade would be very appealing for a newcomer, I’m sure.
Tom Brady – Two words. No, thanks. Ok, i get it, he’s the GOAT, he’s TB12… yeah, yeah. He’s also turning 43 before the season starts and will be leaving all former camaraderie and rapports from his career in Foxborough.
Don’t forget us Colts fans don’t particularly look at New England with any kind of awe about it. If Brady signs for Indy, let’s just say the fans would be left ‘deflated’ by the news. Hard pass, and I wish the rumour mill would stop turning.
Jameis Winston – Ah, you thought you’d get through an article by Rob Grimwood without me mentioning Jameis Winston. Think again, sucker. If Jameis ends up in Indy, I will probably explode. Yes, the 42 total turnovers last season wasn’t ideal… actually, that was pretty abysmal. However, have you not heard that Winston has had eye-surgery this winter?
It can’t possibly get any worse, and what we know about Jameis is that, despite the mistakes, he can throw as good as any other QB in the league and has the ability to move the sticks and make big plays. He can sustain a whole plethora of receivers and is fresh off a 5,109 yard and 33 TD season. He’s a franchise Quarterback who’s still only in his mid 20’s. Is he the answer for Indianapolis? Probably not, but holy hell it would be fun to watch.
Emmanuel Sanders – The Colts have T.Y Hilton and a couple of young talents further down the depth chart in Parris Campbell and Daurice Fountain. They don’t have a veteran who can efficiently run all routes who is a safe option. That is Sanders. He’ll be fairly cheap and will be the chain moving receiver Indy crave in this current squad. Whether it’s Brissett, Rivers or A.N Other throwing the rock this year, Sanders has very little downside for a team desperate for consistent depth pieces at wide receiver.
Breshad Perriman – He’s never quite hit the dizzy heights that people thought he may have when Baltimore drafted him in the 1st round of the 2015 draft. However, last season he attempted to resurrect his career with a stint in Tampa Bay and he was a minor success there, particularly down the stretch. The dropping issues that haunted him in Baltimore seems to be a thing of the past as he only dropped just one of 65 passes thrown his way as a Bucc.
Like with Sanders, it’s depth that Colts require, and in a skinny free agency at wide receiver, Indy may want to focus more intensive scouting for WR depth within the upcoming draft class.
Arik Armstead – It’s very rare to find an elite edge rusher on the free agency as it’s one of those positions that teams just simply do not give up. Jadeveon Clowney is the exception to that rule, and might see free agency but will most likely re-sign for Seattle, meaning you have to look for the potential superstars in the free agency pool more than the already proven. Armstead is certainly in that category. He has the tools to become an elite edge rusher and certainly would tick alot of personality boxes in Reich’s locker room too along with fitting in with an already familiar 3-4 system.
Rumours have it though that Armstead wants to stay in California with the Niners and the Niners want him to stay so may be using the franchise tag in order to see him back for 2020. Should he fall onto the agency though, he should be high priority for Indy.
Bud Dupree – Dupree isn’t the long term answer for Indy at DE, but after a career year in 2019 for the Steelers where he recorded 11.5 sacks and a career high PFF pass-rush grade (76.3), he may be worth a small, short term investment if that kind of deal can be reached. He certainly would find himself high up on the current depth chart at the position, with Justin Houston being the only household name there currently. As with the wide receiver position, it’s depth that’s the key right now in Indy.
Eric Ebron – I’d quite like to see Ebron return if I’m honest. He didn’t have the rapport in 2019 with Brissett that he did with Andrew Luck in 2018, however it’s hard to ignore the 16 TDs he’s provided in his short 2 year stint with Indy. His presence in the red zone has been key for the Colts over the past couple of years and whoever is under centre in 2020 would love a threat like him to target alongside Jack Doyle, i’m sure.
Austin Hooper – Stepped up in a big way in 2019 after a career best 787 yards and 6 TDs. Hooper will be a hot commodity for any tight end needy teams come March 18th, so Indy will have to fight the likes of New England, Green Bay and Chicago if Hooper is the chosen target to replace Ebron. With much forecasted interest, Hooper’s price tag may be out of reach if Ballard wants to stick to his current frugal system, despite the Colts having the second most cap space ($86m) behind Miami ($88m).
Brandon Scherff – If Washington can’t re-sign Scherff and they chose not to tag him, he will be a highly sought after player when the 2020 free agency opens. With Joe Thuney playing as a Left Guard and Graham Glasgow as a Centre, Scherff is by far and away the best Right Guard option on the free agent market. Has had an injury plagued career to date missing 15 games over his rookie contract, but, when he’s on the field he can play at an elite level. Indy’s o-line is good in general, but Scherff could make it the best in the league. However, with a good looking offensive line class coming through this years draft, it would probably be in Indianapolis’ best interests to throw money at other needs rather than needlessly paying over the odds for a good-not-great player in a skinny market.
D.J Reader – Probably the top option on the market now Chris Jones has been tagged by the Chiefs. Reader is a talented nose tackle who would fit admirably into the Colts scheme under DC Matt Eberflus. On the field Reader has developed into a reliable defensive tackle that saw a career best last season for Houston where he accumulated 52 combined tackles (28 solo), along with 2.5 sacks, six tackles-for-loss and 13 quarterback hits. Off the field he was nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award which speaks volumes about his personality, a big tick for the Colts backstaff.
Javon Hargrave – After recently hiring super agent Drew Rosenhaus, it appears Hargrave wants to get paid this off-season. Hard to argue that he doesn’t deserve it either after a decent stint in Pittsburgh since being drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft. Pittsburgh play in a similar scheme on defense to Indy so would be a decent fit for both sides, however, will Indy be prepared to overpay for a player not yet at elite level but the potential to reach it?
Shelby Harris – Could be a cheap fix to add depth to that uninspiring defensive line in Indy. Harris is a solid run stopper that has also improved in the pass rush too. Last season saw Harris gain 6 sacks, had 49 tackles (28 solo), and 8 tackles for loss – all career highs. Harris finds himself a little way down the list due to a decent number of defensive tackles available, but could prove to be a hidden gem for the team that picks him up. Indy should invest.
Javien Elliot – As with the offensive line, the 2020 draft is littered with good looking prospects at cornerback. So if Indy were to add depth to the likes of Pierre Desir, slot corner Kenny Moore and last years’ rookie Rock Ya-Sin, it should come in the way of a up and coming star like Javien Elliot before committing to the draft to add depth. He did well after joining the Panthers from the Buccs in June 2019 and surprisingly isn’t getting an extension from the Panthers it would seem, a tad baffling considering James Bradberry is likely off too.
Bradley Roby – Roby has had a flighty career. Played well in 2015, not so good in 2016.. bounced back in 2017, declined in 2018 but had a solid season last year. Maybe 2020 means it’s a down year for the former Bronco and first round pick, but maybe a change of scenery is what is required to keep playing to a high level. Can play both outside and in the Nickel, Roby would be a good all-round talent with experience to join the Colts’ DB’s and will help to nurture Rock Ya-Sin in his development.
Time for everyone’s preseason favourite tankers, the Miami Dolphins. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but did the Dolphins do themselves any harm? Depends if your a tank half full or a tank half empty kind of person…
Entering The Season
After two losing seasons under Adam Gase, the Dolphins made a move for Brian Flores from the Patriots to further extend the Belichick coaching tree.
However this was not to be with a view to a galvanisation of the team to lead to a wildcard spot. Quite the opposite. The Dolphins front office put Flores and the team well and truly in the tank.
Laremy Tunsil was sent off to the Texans for a haul of picks including two first rounders and Ryan Tannehill was sent to the Titans for a 2020 4th rounder.
The writing was on the wall. If they could get valuable picks for you and you were playing well, Miami were packing your bags and driving you to the nearest airport.
Were we about to see another 0-16 season in the NFL? Could the Dolphins be historically bad?
During The Season
Week 1: Baltimore Ravens 59. Miami Dolphins 10. This could be a long season.
Time for a get right game, right? Wrong. The Dolphins got royally spanked 43-0 with two pick sixes and more punting yards than total offense. The season couldn’t have started much worse for the team whilst the front office were rubbing their hands at the prospect of that first round pick.
Things really didn’t improve for Miami until Week 6 when they started to put touchdowns on the board in a 17-16 loss to the Redskins. Both teams were winless and in what some might have termed a cynical move to lose the game, the Dolphins opted to go for an end-of-game 2 point conversion instead of kicking the XP to tie the game. The defeat took the Redskins to 1-5 and sank Miami to 0-5.
0-5 became 0-6, which became 0-7, which became 0-Hold The Phone It’s An Adam Gase Revenge Game!
That’s right! The 1-6 Jets against the 0-7 Dolphins. A divisional matchup for the ages. Step forward the only man for the job.
The bearded genius threw 3 touchdowns as the Dolphins secured their first win of the season against an equally hapless Gang Green. This result was reward for Flores and his team after becoming increasingly competitive with a poor roster over the prior month.
Flores and his charges would get further reward a week later with back-to-back wins, beating the understaffed-at-under-centre Indianapolis Colts 16-12.
Two straight defeats to Buffalo and Cleveland preceded a stunning third win against a Philadelphia Eagles team who were looking to win their division. Miami overturned a 21-14 deficit at the half to win 37-31 to go 3-9. The best part of this game? The trick play with the punter Matt Haack throwing a one-yard shovel to kicker Jason Sanders with an utterly bizarre lineup from the Dolphins. If you haven’t seen it, get yourselves to YouTube ASAP.
Much like the Colts game, however, after a surprising win against a team chasing the playoffs, two defeats followed. This time on back-to-back weeks in East Rutherford against Gang Green and the G-Men to leave Miami at 3-11 and eyeing a top 3 pick or maybe even #1 if, IF, they conspired to lose to the hopless Bengals in Week 16.
What we got in the BurrowBowl/TankForTuaBowl was one of the most entertaining games of the season.
Heading into the 4th quarter the Dolphins lead 35-12 in what was turning into a blowout with FitzMagicPatrick throwing 4 touchdown passes including one to rookie DE Christian Wilkins (more on him shortly).
With 30 seconds left on the clock the Dolphins led 35-19.
The Bengals scored two touchdowns AND two 2 point conversions in thirty seconds! Sixteen points! Merry Christmas!
As you’d expect with these two, overtime went the distance. We had dropped passes, terrible route running, third down sacks and even some great defensive play in there but finally, finally as time expired Jason Sanders hit a 37 yarder to end the game and reward the handful of fans left in Hard Rock Stadium.
If you’re going to give up the #1 pick you may as well do it in the most entertaining way possible and the ‘Fins did not disappoint. Bravo.
As an addendum, Christian Wilkins not only made a name for himself with that touchdown pass but also for the funniest mic’d up moment of the season. Enjoy.
Now for the encore. A trip to New England to close the season out. The Patriots needed to win to secure a first round bye and with the Miami Miracle only twelve months prior surely they weren’t going to let their divisional rivals land another scalp…Surely?
The much vaunted Patriots defense of September gave up 320 passing yards to Wonderlic’s FitzMagicPatrick and even ran in a pick six. Ryan FMP also ran a touchdown in. What is this fresh madness? Miami cost New England a first round bye with their first win in Gillette Stadium since 2008!
I’d even stretch as far as saying that this result contributed greatly to Kansas’ Super Bowl appearance.
A 5-11 finish for a team that wanted the #1 pick will disappoint some but in the second half of the season, Miami were one of the most enjoyable teams to watch. There was a freedom to their play and under Brian Flores I think there are foundations – assuming their draft choices are sound – for a bright future in Florida.
It’s all about the draft. With Tua seemingly recovered from a severe hip injury the thinking is that Miami expect him to fall to #5 if the first four picks go according to plan but with Detroit and New York above them and quarterback hungry teams below, there is a danger a team could usurp them.
Miami have the most selections (12) which include three first rounders and two second rounders. Add on the estimated $93 million in cap space and the room that Miami have this offseason is terrific.
There won’t need to be any trickery with the salary cap, just start rebuilding and maybe even make a big play or two in free agency for a true WR1. Just do one thing for us, Miami. Keep Ryan Fitzpatrick around. The league is better for it.
Next season brings matchups against the NFC West and the AFC West as well as a rematch that will be as hotly anticipated as Wilder v Fury III. That’s right. It’s Bengals v Dolphins back at Hard Rock! Make it primetime, schedulers, Burrow vs Tua? Yes please.
Time to jump on the bandwagon and start to put a few feelers out there in terms of the 1st round of the NFL draft. Don’t forget to check out the Full 10 Yards College Football podcast that will cover a whole host of topics and no doubt mock drafts from now until April rolls around. Without any further a delay, here is my first mock draft for 2020 (going straight in with trades!).
#1 – Joe Burrow – QB
Let’s not get too crazy right out of the gate, Joe Burrow is a 1/100 shot currently with bookmakers to go 1st overall. I don’t buy all the current smokescreen that Burrow will “pull an Eli”. Not saying I won’t do a mock draft where this happens, but let’s keep things simple, stupid.
#2 – Chase Young – DE
Again, not getting too creative here at 2 and the Redskins get a monster who’ll make his presence felt as soon as he walks through the door as the edge rusher from Ohio State lands in the Nation’s capital. Whilst I think the Redskins will be open to trading back with teams such as Miami, we’ll save the trades until pick number 3,
#3 – Tua Tagoviola – QB
*MIA TRADE #5, #26 and #70 to DET for #3*
Miami trade up to take Tua, who’ll sit behind Ryan Fitzpatrick for at the most part of the 2020 season. The price they pay is their 5th overall, number 26th (from the Texans) and a 3rd round pick. The price could easily be a lot steeper should the Panthers and Chargers sniff around and if Tua’s medical issues are not too much of an issue.
#4 – Jeffrey Okudah – CB
Another year, another top 5 pick for the blue side of New York. This time it’s Okudah that gets the call. The Cornerback out of Ohio State helps plug one of many needs for the Giants. I would suggest that the Giants are candidates to move back, but Gettleman isn’t know for his creativity or intricacy in April (or any month of the year for that matter). As they have a new HC, they’ll keep things simple and go with a best player available approach.
#5 – Isiah Simmons – OLB
*MIA TRADE #5, #26 and #70 to DET for #3*
I wouldn’t put it past Detroit to fall further back and accumulate even more picks from here. Matt Patricia of course would have learned from the best in Bill Belichick in terms of acquiring more dart throws. For now, we have the Lions selecting Simmons, Linebacker out of Clemson. A team that have plenty of gaps to fill on the defensive side of the ball start here.
#6 – Justin Herbert – QB
The Chargers take their shot at QB in Oregon QB Justin Herbert. He’s raw, and a project and the Chargers certainly wont want to be starting him until the latter parts of the 2020 season at the earliest! There are scenarios where I see them trade out of this spot as they acquire their QB in free agency (maybe Cam Newton? Maybe Tom Brady) but we’ll leave that until we have a bit more clarity. For now, Herbert is their guy.
#7 – Derrick Brown – DT
Brown somehow falls to the Panthers here at #7. Whilst they’ll be strong candidates to go QB in the 1st round too as all signs point to Carolina wanting to strip this whole thing back with a whole new coaching staff (which is why I can see Cam going to LA), in this scenario, they take Brown as the QBs left on the board are not worth the #7 overall.
#8 – Jedrick Wills – OT
Arizona have just re-signed DJ Humphries to a long term extension and they double down here and select the first offensive lineman on the board in 2020. The Alabama tackle will come in straight away and help fix the patches on the line and give Kyler Murray the protection they’ve been wanting to provide for years. If Wills isn’t here or they aren’t enamoured with the OT in the class until later on, Arizona are another trade back candidate.
#9 – Javon Kinlaw – DT
The Jaguars were one of the worst against the run in 2019. How to fix that? Stick in a 6 foot 6, 301 anchor from South Carolina. There’s a lot of questions and holes to fill in east Florida, and Kinlaw can be the first guy to plug up the leak in the trench from day 1 and he’ll only improve with the more experience he gets.
#10 – Mekhi Becton – OT
I will be stunned if the Browns look this gift horse in the mouth. Plenty of tackle options for the Browns in this prime spot, Becton is an absolute monster of a man. He’s a freak of nature who moves unbelievably well for a man that is 6 foot 7 and 350+ lbs. Whilst he wont be as effective as some of the other tackles from day 1, a few years down the line, he could be one of the best around. A key piece for Baker’s resurgence as he enters his 3rd year.
#11 – Tristan Wirfs – OL
The most sensible option here for the Jets would be to take a offensive lineman to help protect Sam Darnold. Tristan Wirfs is the guy here who can play either side of the line. Sam Darnold was pressured a lot last season and he needs to be able to feel comfortable with his line to eradicate poor decisions and ultimately interceptions. They could go WR here too, filling the void that Robby Anderson will likely leave.
#12 – Jerry Jeudy – WR
The Alabama WR heads to Sin City to be their star attraction. Jeudy is great at separation and garnering yards after the catch, something Derek Carr will love and it will give a helping hand to Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller after the Antonio Brown experiment failed catastrophically last year. Feel free to interchange this name with CeeDee Lamb as i undoubtedly will do as I get through more iterations of mock drafts.
#13 – Andrew Thomas – OT
Whilst the Colts could have made it three WR in a row, the Colts’ offensive line could see Anthony Castanzo vacate his spot on the line so the Colts could plug that hole back up with the All-American Tackle from Georgia. Who knows who he’ll be protecting at Lucas Oil Stadium.
#14 – Grant Delpit – S
Whilst it’s not the sexiest of picks, the Buccaneers struggled against the pass mightily and have done so for a while. A Shaq Barrett replacement could also be used with this pick but let’s assume he returns to Raymond James here. The LSU Safety has the ability to be one of the best on the field, despite his knock of missing tackles and is most people’s top Safety on the board in this class. McKinney truthers will have to wait a few more picks.
#15 – CeeDee Lamb – WR
Difficult to pinpoint exactly what Denver want to do here. It must be refreshing that the QB talk (for now) has dissipated and in this mock, they give current QB Drew lock and his main guy Courtland Sutton a huge helping hand. CeeDee will help take safety coverage away from Sutton and both could prosper. There are a few holes for Denver to fill including O-Line and CB/LB but hey, WR are more sexy to mock aren’t they!?
#16 – K’Lavon Chaisson – EDGE
The Falcons have made it clear they will not entertain Vic Beasley in one of their new uniforms next season. Enter the man with a name perfect for an edge rusher almost so perfect, it’s a shame Chase Young is in this draft class. The LSU pass rusher is an explosive guy off the edge and should slip in quite nicely here in Atlanta.
#17 – Xavier McKinney – S
Safety is a position Jason Garrett avoided like the plague. Under a new era sparks a new way of thinking. McKinney is very versatile and can play both up top on the line and back deep too. With Byron Jones questions lingering, he could also help fill in at CB. He’ll primarily be their Safety and the odd Nickel/Dime slot Corner, but McKinney ticks a lot of boxes for a team that isn’t known for its brilliance on defence in terms of takeaways.
#18 – A.J Epenesa – EDGE
The Miami Dolphins take another player here to fill a big need. The Iowa pass rusher will come and fill in for a depleted pass rush room where Taco Charlton, a Cowboys castaway is currently “the guy”…yikes. Teams do like to pick a like for like replacement on pick trades; with this being the Minkah Fitzpatrick pick from the Steelers, don’t be surprised to see the Dolphins pick a safety if Delpit/McKinney fell here.
#19 – Jordan Love – QB
If the Raiders, more specifically Jon Gruden, want to transition from Derek Carr, they will be taking a Quarterback in this draft. Love is a more mobile Quarterback than Jacob Eason and seems more like a “Gruden guy”. If they aren’t interested in a QB in this draft, either because they “like” Carr or they bring in a vet from FA, they will likely go defensive side of the ball here with a guy like LB Kenneth Murray. That’s for later.
#20 – Henry Ruggs – WR
*BUF trades #22, #86 #150 for JAX #20, #187*
Buffalo need to give Josh Allen a few more weapons. They have a decent defensive roster and their RB from 2019 Devin Singletary acquitted himself well. With John Brown reaching the age where father time gives him a visit, the WR core needs improvement and rather than getting sloppy seconds after Philadelphia, they trade 2 picks up to get their guy.
#21 – Tee Higgins – WR
Whilst Buffalo traded up to get their guy, Philadelphia’s guy wasn’t the one they selected and Tee Higgins makes it 2 WR in a row. Alshon Jeffrey’s status is unclear but considered Greg Ward and Mack Hollins were rolled out last year, their need at WR is a lot bigger than that at CB.
#22 – Kristian Fulton – CB
Offensive line is another possibility here, but it’s strange how poetic the franchises makes these picks. This being the Rams’ pick for Ramsey, they draft his replacement with one of the picks they receive and use it on the Cornerback from LSU.
#23 – Josh Jones -OT
Isiah Wynn’s injury history seems to be a bit of concern. We know the Patriots like to draft trench players early. If Tom Brady returns, he’ll want the same treatment as he has gotten over the past 2 decades. Kenneth Murray dropping here was the other plausible option here. If either McKinney or Delpit fell, they would be snapped up by Belichick and co. too.
#24 – CJ Henderson – CB
Who knows what the Saints will go with here. Cornerback, Wide Receiver help or dare I say QB (Yes Brees is back, but for how long. Teddy Bridgewater is not a guarantee to stick around and no, Taysom Hill is not the answer)? Considering the WR that are off the board, the Saints would probbaly go with CB here and CJ Henderson is the pick. A CB from Florida joins up with fellow Gator Gardner-Johnson from 2019 draft.
#25 – Kenneth Murray – LB
Murray drops to #25 in this mock and that’s only because the Vikings will rue the Cornerback run from Jacksonville and New Orleans. The athletic LB from Oklahoma is a sideline to sideline guy and would add a lot of speed to this defence. If Minnesota still go CB hunting Trevon Diggs could fit the bill.
#26 – Terrell Lewis – EDGE
The Lions make their second pick in the first round after the trade back with Miami. They fill another hole, this time at pass rush. This Alabama edge rusher is explosive and should help improve this defence along with their other 1st rd pick.
#27 – Yetur Gross-Matos – EDGE
The Seahawks may trade back here to someone who wants to come up and get their guy or a QB. That being said, Ziggy Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney are headed to Free Agency this offseason, will either be back? Who knows. Let’s say they aren’t or 1 is, taking this Penn State Edge rusher helps ease the pain of losing the other (or both).
#28 – Patrick Queen – LB
The offence is pretty much there for the immediate future with no glaring holes. So they decide to bolster the defensive side to stop instances like the Derrick Henry train running through them like they did in the postseason. A replacement for Josh Bynes, who could head for Free Agency. A quick-footed, speedy linebacker who can play all 3 downs is the call here.
#29 – Ross Blacklock – DL
I am not going to explore the idea that Derrick Henry isn’t a Titan next season, purely because i think the coaching staff think he is too ingrained into their offensive identity. They have 1 or 2 holes to fill in the trenches, especially if trying to retain Conklin goes south. However, Blacklock is a good pickup for a Titans team as he’ll require a lot of effort to nullify from opposing O-lines due to his explosiveness and how disruptive he could be.
#30 – Laviska Shenault Jr. – WR
Aaron Rodgers’ window is not going to open for much longer. The Packers focused their efforts on the defence last offseason so this time, they give Aaron Rodgers a bit more help to try and win a 2nd ring. Do it all WR Shenault Jr will be a fun toy to play with and can stick around with Adams years after Rodgers retires.
#31 – Jeff Gladney – CB
Richard Sherman getting toasted by Sammy Watkins will send alarm bells ringing and he is now 31 years old. They also need help opposite him with Witherspoon not pulling up trees, Verrett still always on the treatment table. Moseley filled in capably but the back end of the defence needs a bit of youth injected in to it. Gladney, the corner out of TCU is quite a versatile guy to have on the team, the type of guy that Saleh will do a lot with and will be able to get a lot out of.
#32 – Jacob Eason – QB
*TB Sends #45, #107, 2021 2nd rnd for #32, #128*
Sorry Kansas fans, you wait all night for your pick and they trade out with someone who wants to go up and get Eason. The Buccaneers offence is a decent fit if they wish to move on from Winston or even just keep him for another season or 2, like is currently being reported. Even if Winston leaves, the fun might not stop in Tampa Bay.
Today we take a look at the New York Jets. Not quite saving the best ’til last but alas, another season to break down for you. Is Adam Gase the answer in New York? Is Sam Darnold still their guy? Will LeVeon Bell still be a Jet next season? Let’s find out.
Entering the season
Adam Gase punched the 2nd hole in his AFC East loyalty card when moving from Miami up the east coast to East Rutherford, New Jersey. Whilst I very much doubt he’ll get a full house with New England/Buffalo, there were many amongst the Jets’ fanbase that were hoping that he’d get his chance sooner rather than later. It just seems like yesterday that he had that extraordinary eye bulging press conference when being introduced to the media, to be later dubbed “Taco man”.
LeVeon Bell’s exodus from Pittsburgh saw him end up in the green of New York, looking to finally sort out the muddling backfield which it has been for years. He signed a 4 year $52.5 million deal with $35m of it fully guaranteed. Whilst many in the fanbase were “happy”, Adam Gase seemingly wasn’t, causing tension between him and Mike Maccagnan. Elsewhere, Sam Darnold was expected to step up in his 2nd year, especially with Gase being the “Quarterback Whisperer”.
Draft wise, Quinnen Williams was the pick at #2 whilst their next pick, Jachai Polite didn’t even make it to the Regular Season, ultimately ending up on the Seahawks/Rams practice squads. The rest of the draft class was not much to write home about with Tackle Chuma Edoga and Tight End Trevon Wesco both playing cameo roles in their first season.
DURING THE SEASON
It turned out to be a peculiar season for the Jets, finishing 7-9, but you have to say the assist goes to the strength of schedule and you could argue that the team should have had a better record.
The early part of the schedule saw Sam Darnold sit out due to a case of Mono (the price of fame, eh?) but he returned in week 6 to demolish the Cowboys at home to register their first win of the season.
They finished off the back half of the season 6-2 with losses coming against the Ravens and the Bengals. Their wins against a half Rudolph/half Duck led Steelers and a “nothing to play for” Bills team in week 17 meant they were able to finish with a 7-9 record.
This was a team that were 2nd worst in terms of points scored, 3rd down conversion %, total 1st downs and total rush yards on the season. Not great, Bob.
The running back position was as bad as it’s ever been with off-season free agent signing LeVeon Bell averaging a career-low 3.2 yards per carry and did not have a 100-yard rushing game (no running back on the roster mustered over 4 yards per carry). How much of that was on him or the poor offensive line play or playcalling, is up to you to decide.
One glimmer of hope for the Jets offence was the chemistry between Sam Darnold and Jamison Crowder, who’ll look to build on their rapport which enabled the slot receiver to find the endzone 6 times (team high) on 78 receptions. Fellow wide receiver Robby Anderson didn’t quite have the breakout he was perhaps expecting and the tight end production from Ryan Griffin, filling in for Chris Herndon, varied on a week to week basis but he managed to find the endzone 5 times.
The defence as a whole unit played averagely, with their run defence being one of the better units in the league.
You could argue Quinnen Williams had a quiet start to his career, totaling just 2.5 sacks on the season and 15 solo tackles. Leaders on the defence started and ended with Jamal Adams, especially when CJ Mosley went down after week 2. Linebacker Jordan Jenkins was their sack leader with 8, giving him 20 on his career and building nicely upon his 7 from 2018. Certainly a name that flies under the radar in the NFL.
The Jets probably hindered themselves more with that back half win collection they achieved, picking from the #11 spot. There are a variety of needs so would be candidates to trade back if the opportunity presents itself.
In free agency, WR Robby Anderson looks likely to head for the exit door and the LeVeon Bell/Adam Gase rift rumours continue and has led to speculation about the Jets trying to trade Bell this offseason, something that seems unlikely because of the $13 million guaranteed he has coming his way this season.
Many will continue to question Adam Gase and his suitability in the organisation and with good reason, this team seem to be behind the 8-ball in terms of being the team that overhauls the Patriots (if that ever becomes a thing) with both divisional rivals putting themselves in a much better position to do just that. The Jets may be landed for a while in New York.
Time to look at the London Jacksonville Jaguars, just a few seasons removed from being 5 minutes or so away from beating the Patriots in the AFC title game and appearing in a Super Bowl. Fair to say that since then, they’ve taken a nose dive quicker than the most theatrical of Soccer players. Are the good times ever going to come back to Jacksonville? Or are they destined for misery until a move overseas occurs?
ENTERING THE SEASON
2019, the post Blake Bortles era (or error). It was looked upon as a fresh new start with a fresh new Quarterback, breathing new life in to the team and the franchise. Opinions were split when Nick Foles signed a 4 year $88m deal to become the new face of the Jaguars, effectively choosing him over paying the defence or trying to get a QB in the 2019 draft. Mr Khan, Tom Coughlin and co. were seemingly under the impression their Super Bowl window was still open. High expectations for a team that have finished with a points differential of worse than -50 every year since 2008 except for that AFC conference visiting year of 2017.
Leonard Fournette, their 1st round running back from 2017 had yet to complete a full season (either through disciplinary consequences or injury) was under pressure to perform even before they selected Ryquell Armstead in the 2019 draft. The defence were branded as the type who quit on the fans and the team towards the end of last season and were labelled as a group who thought they were better than they were based on previous years’ performances whilst Doug Marrone, seemingly enters every year under pressure, somehow always manages to come out on the other side.
DURING THE SEASON
Jacksonville were handed one of the tougher draws right out of the gate, with a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs. However, Nick Foles left off where he finished from the Super Bowl and led the Jaguars to a fine 2nd drive. Problem was, he would no longer participate in the game after going down on the touchdown throw to DJ Chark, breaking his clavicle.
Enter, Gardner Minshew (or Mr Moustache as he would later be known). The 6th round rookie draft pick out of Washington State would go on to lead the Jaguars for the next 8 games. He started off well, leading the team to wins over the Titans and away in Denver. “Minshew Mania” had struck. Close defeats to Carolina and New Orleans followed up by wins over the Bengals and the Jets meant that London were treated to Minshew Mania in week 9. Oh how it capitulated so horribly.
Mr Moustache’s exerts in London of 2 awful Interceptions, 2 gut wrenching fumbles lost and 3 sacks taken culminated with the hapless Jaguars mustering just the 3 Josh Lambo points at Wembley Stadium. Minshew Mania officially died.
The Jags entered their week 10 bye at 4-5, Doug Marrone had seen enough of the Minshew Mania and recalled Nick Foles, back from injury. Fortunes were not to be with the Jaguars though and Foles lost the next 3 games. The latter of those losses to Floridian neighbours, Tampa Bay where Foles “did a Minshew” of sorts, throwing an interception and losing 2 fumbles, achieving only 3 1st downs in his 27 snaps from the start of the game. Minshew came in for the other 41 snaps for the Jaguars’ offence but to no avail.
The Jaguars fell to 4-8 and rode with Minshew until the end of the season, going 2-2 in that stretch with wins against division rivals in week 17 in a dead rubber but they did manage to upset the Raiders in the final game in Oakland where Minshew led the team to a great final drive to win it. In the midst of all that, Mr Iron Fist and VP of football operations for the Jags, Tom Coughlin got the boot after allegations of excessive fines and player grievances.
One bright spot on the season was DJ Chark, who broke out for 73 receptions and over 1000 yards on the season, finding the endzone 8 times. Dede Westbrook, the guy we all thought would have that type of season, fell well short on 66 receptions with 660 yards and found pay dirt just 3 times. Leonard Fournette managed to compete in 15 out of the 16 games this season, but avoided the endzone like the plague, finding it just 3 times also.
Whilst the teams passing offence held up somewhat even after the Jaguars traded motor mouth Jalen Ramsey to the Rams after week 6 for 2 future 1st round picks, it was the rushing aspect of their defensive duties the jaguars defence failed particularly well on, giving up the 2nd most yards per attempt (5.1) and rushing touchdowns (23). Rookie first rounder from the 2019 draft Josh Allen made it to the Pro Bowl in his first season after his efforts saw him achieve a team high 10.5 sacks.
After the dust settled, it was yet another season finishing in the AFC South basement. A few more years and they’ll legally be able to claim squattage. Doug Marrone has been given yet another vote of confidence which could mean 1 of 2 things: 1) they think Marrone is the right man for the job or 2) he’s just keeping the seat warm until they move to London. With the Jaguars playing 25% of their “home” games at Wembley next year in back to back games, the overseas Franchise rumours linked with the Jaguars will never die and seemingly is only trending in one direction. Jaguars fans in Florida are angered by this latest move, mainly because of the lack of transparency given by owner Shahid Khan.
Jacksonville are trying to accommodate Khan’s requests for upgrades in the town, with Khan putting a small % of his money in too, with upgrades in and aorund the stadium, but a lot more investement is earmarked for overseas, flowing across the Atlantic in the hopes of far bigger returns. The potential new market size bringing with it an untapped brand growing and monetising opportunities seems to be staring us all in the face that it is now a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’.
On the field, the offseason will be fuelled yet again by Quarterback talk and don’t even be surprised if they draft one in 2020 considering they have 2 1st round picks to have a dart throw at one of them.
They are not flush with cap space entering next season so will have to get creative in order to make any major moves but expect to see at least 1 big name head for the exit door which could include any of Marcell Dareus ($20m saving), AJ Bouye ($11.5m) or recent NFL Man of the Year award winner Calais Campbell ($15m). Expect WR Marqise Lee, LB Jake Ryan & TE Geoff Swaim be cap casualties, who collectively would save the Jaguars around $15m in cap room.