AROUND THE NFL
It’s about time for the NFL schedule to be released. The DB hears it’s coming this week, perhaps as soon as Tuesday. John Breech of CBSSports.com tells us some things we already know:
Let’s take a look at 10 things we already know about the 2019 regular season schedule.
1. The 2019 NFL season will be kicking off in Chicago
For the first time in six years and just the second time since 2003, the defending Super Bowl champion won’t be hosting the first game of the following NFL season. Although the Patriots won the Super Bowl, the 2019 season won’t be kicking off in New England because the NFL has decided to shake things up for its 100th anniversary celebration. Instead of giving the Thursday night opener to the Patriots, the league decided to give the first game of the season to the Bears, who will also be celebrating their 100th anniversary of existence.
The Bears will be hosting a Packers team that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2018. If the league really wants to milk this 100th anniversary thing, it make it so only people over the age of 100 are allowed to attend the opener. The opening game of the NFL season will kick off on Sept. 5 from Soldier Field.
2-A. The Patriots will host the first Sunday night game of the season
Although the Patriots got booted from the Thursday night opener, you don’t have to feel bad for them, and that’s because the NFL is still giving New England a prime-time slot in Week 1. The Patriots will be opening their season on “Sunday Night Football,” which means America will get to watch them raise a Super Bowl banner for the third time in five years. The good news for everyone who’s not a Patriots fan is that Gillette Stadium only has room for seven banners, which means the Patriots are going to have to blow up their stadium and a build a new one if they win just two more titles. At least, I think that’s how that works.
As for New England’s potential Week 1 opponent, the Patriots could host the Jets, Bills, Dolphins, Cowboys, Giants, Steelers, Browns or Chiefs, but only about half of those would be interesting. The guess here is that the Patriots end up playing either the Steelers, Chiefs or Cowboys.
2-B. The Browns might be opening against the Jets
Even though the Patriots could technically host the Browns in the Sunday night opener, it’s starting to look like that won’t happen and that’s because it appears the Browns will be playing someone else in Week 1. Apparently, Odell Beckham somehow got his hands on a copy of the schedule, and according to him, the Browns will be opening the season against the Jets.
3. There will be four games played in London
Despite the fact that everyone in London is currently being distracted by Brexit, the NFL will still be sending eight teams across the pond this year. Here’s a look at the four games that will be played in England:
Panthers vs. Buccaneers
Bears vs. Raiders
Bengals vs. Rams
Texans vs. Jaguars
The fascinating thing about this year’s set of games is that two of them will be played at the brand new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London. The new stadium has a retractable field, which means that NFL games will be played on an actual football field, instead of a soccer field that has been modified to look like a football field. The other two games in this year’s International Series will be held at Wembley Stadium, which nearly became Jacksonville’s home away from home last year. Back in 2018, Jaguars owner Shad Khan tried to buy the stadium before pulling his bid in October.
4. There will be one game played in Mexico
Mexico was supposed to get an NFL game in 2018, but that didn’t happen, and that’s mainly because the person in charge of the field upkeep at Estadio Azteca forgot to do their job.
With the field in such bad shape, the NFL decided to move the Chiefs-Rams game from Mexico City to Los Angeles. Although it was an embarrassing situation for the NFL, the league will be sending two teams back to Mexico City in 2019.
This year’s schedule will feature the Chiefs and Chargers playing at Estadio Azteca with Los Angeles serving as the home team. If you’re trying to figure out when this game might be scheduled, Week 12 would seem to make the most sense. In the past three years, the three games scheduled for Mexico City have all been played the week before Thanksgiving.
5. The rumored games for Thanksgiving are …
Watching the Cowboys and Lions both play at home on Thanksgiving Day has become an annual NFL tradition and that tradition isn’t going to change in 2019, even if the Eagles want it to. Although the Thanksgiving schedule isn’t set in stone yet, there have been multiple reports about who will be playing on Turkey Day.
According to the Sports Business Journal, the Cowboys will be hosting the Dolphins this year while the Lions will be hosting the Bears. (By the way, at the rate we’re going, Bears fans aren’t even going to have to wait for the schedule to be released and that’s because there seems to be a new announcement about their schedule every week. As things currently stand, the Bears will be playing in the NFL opener, they’ll be playing in London and they’ll be playing on Thanksgiving. Basically, get ready to see a lot of the Bears).
As for the other Thanksgiving game, SBJ is reporting that there’s a chance the Vikings will end the Turkey Day triple-header with a prime-time home game against the Eagles. Of course, there have also been persistent rumors that the Browns will be playing in the nightcap on Thanksgiving, so it looks like we’ll have to wait until the schedule comes out to find out for sure.
In other holiday news, we might be getting a triple-header on the Saturday before Christmas, according to Awful Announcing.
6. There will be a lot of playoff rematches on the schedule
There’s always playoff rematches on the schedule, but this year, things should be extra exciting, and that’s because we’ll be getting rematches from some of the wildest postseason games from 2018. One of the most intriguing games will be played in Los Angeles when the Rams host the Saints in a rematch of an NFC title game that the Rams won 26-23 back in January. The officiating at the end of regulation was so ugly — the refs basically missed the easiest pass interference call of all-time — that the NFL completely overhauled its replay system in March. By the way, it’s probably for the best that this rematch is being played in L.A. because everyone in New Orleans still seems kind of bitter about that loss.
Not only will we be getting an NFC Championship Game rematch this year, but there will also be a rematch of the AFC title game when the Patriots host the Chiefs. That game also came with some controversy. In a 37-31 win by the Patriots, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense never got to touch the ball in overtime.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid has basically spent his entire offseason trying to get the NFL’s overtime rules changed so that each team gets a possession in the extra period. The Chiefs’ overtime proposal will likely be voted on at the NFL’s spring meeting in May.
As for the other playoff rematches coming up this year, besides the two title games, there will be four other ones on the 2019 schedule: Colts-Texans, Bears-Eagles, Cowboys-Rams and Colts-Chiefs.
7. The schedule will be filled with a lot of coaching revenge games
If you like seeing a new coach get revenge on his old team, then 2019 is the year for you.
Let’s start with Bruce Arians. The new Buccaneers coach will probably have the most awkward reunion with an old team this year when Tampa plays host to the Cardinals. Arians served as the Cards coach for five seasons, before retiring in 2017 to join the CBS broadcast booth. After one year away from football, Arians decided to make a return and was immediately hired by the Bucs. Things got a little contentious during the hiring process because the Cards thought they were owed compensation since Arians was still under contract with them. After investigating the situation, the league ruled that the Bucs didn’t owe Arizona anything since the Cards had declined Arians’ option, which ended his contract with the team.
Adam Gase will likely also be out for some revenge. After being fired by the Dolphins in December, the new Jets coach will get two chances at revenge against his old team. Speaking of the Dolphins, their new coach is Brian Flores, who will also be looking to beat his old team. Before being hired by Miami, Flores spent 15 years in the Patriots organization.
The AFC East won’t be having all the revenge games in 2019. Former Rams QB coach Zac Taylor will also get a crack at his old team when the Bengals face the Rams in London.
8. The Raiders have the most difficult schedule heading into 2019
Jon Gruden better make good use of those three first-round draft picks he has in this year’s draft, because the Raiders are going to need all the help they can get in 2019. Not only do the Raiders have the toughest strength of schedule based on how team’s did last year, but they also have the toughest strength of schedule using pretty much any scheduling metric out there.
ESPN’s Mike Clay put together a strength of schedule projection based on how each team’s roster looked as of April 5, and guess who came out with the toughest schedule? Yup, the Raiders.
The 49ers & Packers are forecast to improve their win totals the most compared to last year.
SF returns Jimmy G from injury
GB went 6-9-1 despite Rodgers playing all 16 games but rid themselves of McCarthy & won just 3 of 9 one-score games last yr (only 4 teams a won lower %)
In that projection, the Texans have the hardest schedule, followed by the Broncos and Raiders.
Based on the Raiders’ schedule, no one should be surprised if Antonio Brown has a full-on meltdown before the end of September.
9. We know the opponents for all 32 teams
Although we don’t know the dates or times of the games on the 2019 NFL schedule, we do know who each team will be playing. You can check out the list of all 16 regular-season opponents for each team by clicking here.
10. Possible schedule release date
This is what you’ve been waiting for!
When it comes to the schedule release date, the NFL hasn’t announced anything official yet, but we can take a stab at when the schedule might come out. For the past three years, the NFL has released the schedule on a Thursday, and for the past two years, the schedule has been released on the Thursday before the start of the NFL Draft. If the league sticks to that timeline, that means the schedule will be released on April 18.
That being said, if the NFL schedule doesn’t come out by the end of next week (April 15-19), there’s a chance we might not see it until after the draft, and we can probably go ahead and blame the Raiders for that delay. The Raiders’ lease to stay in Oakland didn’t get finalized until March 15, which means the schedule-makers likely got a late start on putting things together.
Of course, the NFL might have been thrilled about that and that’s because the Raiders’ issues would give the league the perfect excuse to move the release of the schedule to some time after the draft, which is something the NFL has apparently been thinking about, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.
Has been rumored at some point they will move it back to after the draft to take advantage of knowing where top picks land. But probably not moved this year.
When will the 2019 NFL schedule be released?
2018 – April 19
2017 – April 20
2016 – April 14
2015 – April 21
2014 – April 23
2013 – April 18
2012 – April 17
2011 – April 19
2010 – April 20
2009 – April 14
2008 – April 15
2007 – April 11
2006 – April 6
2005 – April 13
This from Peter King:
Last year, the league examined 59,031 possible schedules, and it was 58,911th one that got picked as the winner … and that schedule was spat out of a computer 56 hours before the schedule was released in April. I guess I would say there are 256 regular-season games to arrange, and the league tries to use as much time as it can to find the best schedule it can for all 32 teams. Think of it compared to a 52-card deck, and how many possibilities there are for the order of cards in a deck. Look at this. I think the NFL’s attitude is, if the league can find a better schedule by studying the options for 3.5 months instead of, say, two months, why wouldn’t the schedule-makers do that? It’s inconvenient for you, perhaps, but probably best for the teams that can avoid three-game road trips and road-to-road turnarounds of Sunday-to-Thursday games.
I think my gut tells me the NFL schedule release date will be Wednesday evening this week. That goes against the NFL’s recent history—the league has released the slate on a Thursday, one week before the draft, for the last three years—but there’s a reason why I see Wednesday night this year: Good Friday and Easter come up this week. The NFL likes to maximize attention, ratings and sales (tickets, merchandise, etc.) with tentpole days like the release of the schedule. There likely will be a chunk of Football America either traveling late this week or doing things other than being glued to the TV or internet to check out when the most interesting games this year will be. (Now watch the schedule get posted Thursday. Or Tuesday.)
NEW YORK GIANTS
Thoughts from Pete King on the signing of WR STERLING SHEPARD:
I think Sterling Shepard is a nice player, a number two or three receiver on a good team, and because I have railed against the Giants for not developing their own players, it’s good to see them keep a home-grown guy. But $10.3 million a year is a little steep for a guy with six 100-yard games and 14 touchdowns and a 12.0-yard average catch in 44 career games.
The Eagles are giving TE ZACH ERTZ much of his 2019 salary upfront as a bonus to create cap room. This tweet from Field Yates:
The Eagles converted $7.195M of TE Zach Ertz’ contract into a bonus, creating $5.756M of cap space in 2019, per source. Philly is in a healthy cap spot to maneuver if need be this offseason.
Justin Grasso of InsideTheIggles.com with more:
Heading into the 2019 offseason, the Eagles were sitting in a horrible position financially. They were ranked second-to-last in cap space with hardly any room to spend. Then, Roseman worked his magic and created cap space by making some trades, cuts, and getting restructures done. Fast forward about a month later, and the Eagles have somewhere around $27.5 million in cap space, according to Glenn Erby of USA Today’s Eagles Wire.
What’s coming next for the Eagles? Considering all of the big-named free agents are signed and settled in with new teams, there is no one outside of the organization that they can spend a lot of it on. The logical prediction would be a Carson Wentz extension.
The Eagles have made it pretty clear that Wentz is the guy moving forward, and that he will get a big payday. It’s just unclear of when exactly. Seeing deals continue to get restructured though sure makes it feel like that big contract is coming a lot sooner than later.
I think Reuben Foster is fortunate he was not suspended by the league, but rather fined two 2019 game checks. The league never announces absolute specifics, but it’s likely that the story—stemming from Foster being arrested on a Niners’ road trip to Tampa Bay last year, where there was an incident with his girlfriend at the team hotel, and that incident led to the 49ers cutting him—has something to do with the fact that club management told him to stay out of trouble and to stay away from this woman on the road, and he didn’t. Foster should be pleased he’s not getting suspended, and he should know there’s not going to be any margin for similar slip-ups with his new team, Washington.
As the DB hears it, the FORMER girlfriend showed up unannounced and uninvited at the hotel and began verbally harassing Foster – who did not meekly turn his back and walkaway, but shouted back at her at which time the complaint was filed.
The DB is old enough to remember when the average NFL coaching staff had maybe 12 coaches.
This from Peter King:
Although records are not kept for such things, I do believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have set one NFL record already in 2019: They have a 29-person coaching staff. A few notes about it:
• Bruce Arians hired an officiating coach, the Bucs’ 28th assistant coach, Thursday. Former NFL side judge Larry Rose, who lives south of Tampa in Fort Myers, joins the staff as “officiating consultant,” and will advise Arians on challenges on game day, and will counsel staff and players on the ever-changing rolodex of NFL rules.
• Arians has 11 African-American assistants, including all three coordinators (Byron Leftwich, Todd Bowles, Keith Armstrong) and his assistant head coach (Harold Goodwin). He has two female assistants—assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar and assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust. Thirteen non-white-male assistants on one staff is historic.
• The Bucs will go the route of several teams in training camp: They’ll run simultaneous practices with the full 90-man roster, dividing the position groups in half so each player can get more practice reps every day. To do this, it’s helpful to have extra coaches.
• Special teams are a particular emphasis. Arians hired a specialist coach (Chris Boniol) as well as a coordinator (Armstrong) and two assistant—Amos Jones and Cody Grimm.
Will it work? It’s interesting that, at week’s end, I checked on the Patriots’ website and looked at their coach lineup. Only 10 are listed, though that number will rise by at least six (including linebackers coach Jerod Mayo) by the time the staff is finalized. (New England had a 15-man staff last year and won the Super Bowl.) It’s interesting to note that Bill Belichick, and one of his mentors, Bill Parcells, have always been opposed to huge staffs. They believe, in part, that the more coaches you have, the more your message can get misinterpreted. And they believe, also, that it’s good to have players play without constantly being coached and instructed—to see if they’re getting the message without being told too much, too often.
Actually – even fewer than 12 now that we think of it. This is the coaching staff of the 1979 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, of Worst To First Fame.
Head Coach – John McKay
Quarterbacks & Receivers – Bill Nelsen
Running Backs – George Chaump
Offensive Line – Bill Johnson
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers – Tom Bass
Defensive Line/Chief Assistant – Abe Gibron
Secondary – Wayne Fontes
Special Teams Coordinator – Phil Krueger
That is 8 coaches. McKay and Nelsen did the offensive coordinating. Krueger actually did most of what a general manager did at the time.
There was a strength assistant, though not formally a coach, but let’s call him a 9th coach.
There was a director of player personnel, a director of pro personnel, three college scouts. Three secretaries. Two trainers (a third part-timer when he was done teaching for the day). Two equipment guys. Four total people in public relations/marketing/gameday operations.
Let’s check the 1979 Steelers who won the Super Bowl.
Head Coach – Chuck Noll
Assistant Head Coach – George Perles
Offensive Line – Rollie Dotsch
Offensive Backfield – Dick Hoak
Receivers – Tom Moore
Defensive Coordinator – Woody Widenhofer
Defensive Backfield – Dick Walker
That’s only seven coaches listed at Wikipedia. Plus two conditioning coaches (one for strength, one for flexibility) listed elsewhere.
Peter King is hearing whispers that the Cardinals are not yet committed to giving rookie coach Kliff Kingsbury his 5-10 quarterback. What to make of his first sentence? He also appears to have some insight about the Raiders:
I don’t believe there is unanimity inside the Cardinals building today either to take Murray, trade down for a passel of picks to a Murray-loving team, or to sit at one and take an impact player for the defense like edge-rusher Nick Bosa. Then again, if GM Steve Keim and Kingsbury both want Murray, that’s going to be the pick.
• The Cards’ personnel brains—led by Keim and VP of player personnel Terry McDonough—are extremely confident people. If you run a team’s player-acquisition department, of course you should be confident. But Keim and McDonough are at the upper end among NFL personnel people in belief in their ability to pick players. I think Keim wouldn’t blink about trading the first pick. Keim won’t be scared to buck conventional wisdom.
• Suppose the Raiders, picking fourth, and coach Jon Gruden, who was openly covetous of Murray at the combine, decide that three of their five first-round picks in the next two drafts are worth using to get the first pick. Theoretically, suppose the Raiders trade the fourth and 27th picks in round one this year, plus one of their two first-rounders next year, to deal up to Arizona’s pick, and the Raiders take Murray. Then suppose they could recoup one of those first-round picks by trading quarterback Derek Carr to Miami or Washington or the Giants for a 2020 first-rounder. Over the next four years, the Raiders would save about $13 million a year by paying a first-pick quarterback an average of $8.5 million a year, as opposed to the $21.5 million average on the remaining four seasons of Carr’s contract.
• If you’re the Cards, and you could have four first-round picks in the next two years, including the fourth overall pick this year, and you have a coach you believe could make Josh Rosen 20 percent better, it might make sense to try to ransom the pick. To take the Murray pick and deal it, and be in position to choose a defensive centerpiece like Josh Allen or Quinnen Williams and two more first-rounders … tempting.
• Few teams in the NFL need a transfusion of talent at multiple positions like Arizona. The respected player-rating site Pro Football Focus ranks players top to bottom at each position. In 2018, Arizona had only two players from its starting 22 rated in the top 15 in the league at their positions: middle linebacker Josh Bynes (fifth) and cornerback Patrick Peterson (ninth). Arizona did not have a top-30 guard, center, tackle, tight end, running back, quarterback, defensive tackle or safety. Alarming. Trading the top pick could be medicine for a lot of personnel issues in Arizona.
But it Keim thinks Murray’s going to have Mahomes-like impact, or even close, he should resist temptation, pick Murray, and deal Josh Rosen 10 nights from now. Peter Schrager made a good point the other day on “Good Morning Football:” In 1984, the Portland Trail Blazers had a young shooting guard they liked, Clyde Drexler, who went on to be a Hall of Fame player. Owning the second pick of the ’84 draft, with Michael Jordan on the board, Portland picked center Sam Bowie. Some 35 years later, it’s still the worst NBA draft decision ever. If the Cards see star power in Murray, their decision should be made.
Who knows how good the 5-10 Murray will be? But living with passing on him would be something Keim, and steward-of-the-franchise president Michael Bidwill, must consider with one of the biggest decisions this team has had to make since moving to Arizona in 1988.
Interesting that King reports on Keim’s extreme confidence even as he cites the extreme lack of successful picks as determined by ProFootballFocus. Interesting as well that RB DAVID JOHNSON (see below) is not in that top 15.
– – –
RB DAVID JOHNSON thinks he can be a 1,000-1,000 man with Kingsbury calling the plays. Grant Gordon of NFL.com:
A dreadful 2018 campaign — in terms of individual and team success — certainly has not dimmed David Johnson’s aspirations or excitement for the season ahead.
While new Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is most often associated with a pass-heavy offensive approach, Johnson finds promise in what may come to be for him in the backfield (and coming out of the backfield).
“I’ve talked to guys [who are familiar with Kingsbury’s offense] like [receiver] Christian Kirk and he said a lot of people have heard he doesn’t run the ball, but he told me personally that their running backs have gotten the ball a lot as far as running the ball,” Johnson said via the Arizona Republic’s Bob McManaman. “I’ve heard that Kliff is really good at putting his guys in open space, especially as running backs, and giving them open space to try to get the yards catching the ball, and doing things like that.”
And so Johnson’s largest individual expectation is one he’s had for some time and that’s to join some rarefied company.
“My biggest motivation is still 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving,” he said. “That’s what I’m always going to try to strive to just because I was so close in 2016. … I think I still have the same mentality of trying to get that.”
Despite the change over the autumns into a far more open and offensive-heavy game, San Francisco 49ers great Roger Craig (1985) and Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (1999, St. Louis Rams) remain as the only players to have ever rushed and received their way into the 1,000-1,000 club.
In the aforementioned 2016 season, Johnson turned in an All-Pro performance to the tune of 1,239 yards rushing on 293 rushes (4.2 yards per carry) and 879 yards receiving on 80 catches with 20 total touchdowns.
Johnson played only one game in 2017 due to a wrist injury and 2018 was a disaster in the desert as the Cardinals earned the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft with a 3-13 record. Johnson was smothered all season, racking up but 940 yards on 258 carries — just 3.6 per tote — and had 50 catches for 446 yards.
The most difficult aspect of Johnson getting to the elusive 1,000-1,000 mark could simply be getting the ball. After all, he led the NFL with 373 touches in 2016 and still came up short.
There are whispers that QB RUSSELL WILSON’s wife and other advisors don’t like rainy, dirty Seattle. Dan Benton of USA Today:
Could Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson truly end up playing for the New York Giants? It’s an idea that’s been batted around quite a bit this offseason, fueled by the belief that his wife, Ciara, has her sights set on moving to the Big Apple.
However, Wilson seemed to pump the brakes on that speculation in mid-March when he said he couldn’t envision himself playing New York.
“The reality is a lot of guys move, but for me, I love Seattle,” Wilson said via the New York Post. “I won a Super Bowl there, been to two, won a lot of playoff games. I love being there. As far as trades or being moved, you can never be surprised. I have a clear mindset of how much I love Seattle.
“We love New York, but Seattle is home for us.”
Meanwhile, Seahawks general manager John Schneider completely shot down the notion, dismissing it as little more than blogger fodder.
“I don’t have any other reason to believe that other than, like, website rumors and stuff like that,” Schneider told reporters. “We’ve been in communication with his agent, Mark (Rodgers). I’m sure we’ll continue to talk. There are some guys that are unrestricted free agents right now, so we try to work through that process.”
Despite the comments by both Schneider and Wilson, the speculation has persisted. And it regained some steam earlier this month when reports surfaced that Wilson wanted a new deal by April 15 or negotiations would stop until after the season.
With less than 24 hours remaining until that deadline, Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu has suddenly weighed in, claiming Wilson does in fact want to play in New York.
Russ wants New York. But you ain’t heard that from T..
While Mathieu does seem like an odd source of information on this story, he has repeatedly praised Wilson and the two appear to be quite friendly, so perhaps he’s more in the know than we realize?
The Jets, of course, are set at quarterback with Sam Darnold, while the Giants continue their search for Eli Manning’s eventual replacement. And while acquiring Wilson comes with its own set of high hurdles, there’s become too much smoke surrounding this situation to ignore.
Maybe, just maybe, there’s actually something to all of this.
More thoughts from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:
When asked last month by Jimmy Fallon about a rumor that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson could end up with the Giants, Wilson said, “I’m not sure if the Seahawks are gonna let me get away.”
That response glosses over the more fundamental question of whether Wilson would like for the Seahawks to let him get away.
Per a league source, the Seahawks think that Wilson would like to play elsewhere, even if he hasn’t and wouldn’t ever say it. They also believe that this unspoken dynamic will cause Wilson to drive a harder bargain with them than he would with another team.
Yes, Wilson and his agent, Mark Rodgers, continue to talk to the Seahawks about a long-term deal. And, yes, under the right financial circumstances, Wilson will sign what would be a third contract in Seattle. But if the Seahawks won’t pay whatever it is that Wilson wants from the Seahawks, the question becomes whether he’d want that same amount from a different team.
The answer to that question won’t be known unless and until the Seahawks and Wilson fail to work out a contract before Wilson’s stated deadline of April 15, and whether the Seahawks would at some point explore the possibility of trading Wilson elsewhere. That may not happen in 2019, when the Seahawks can keep Wilson for a base salary of $17 million. It becomes more likely if/when Wilson initiates the year-to-year Kirk Cousins-style approach under the franchise tag, with $30.34 million becoming the price tag for keeping him in 2020 — and when Wilson’s leverage on a long-term deal would skyrocket, given that the franchise tag would move to $36.4 million for 2021 and, given the 44-percent rule for a third tag, to $52.43 million for 2022.
If Wilson would take less than what he could get from the Seahawks on a long-term deal, it becomes easier to trade him, since his next team wouldn’t be looking at the same astronomical investment. And that becomes a very real dynamic in the question of whether the Seahawks will devote the cash and cap space necessary to keep him, or whether they’d get what they can and start over with a young quarterback who would be making dramatically less under the rookie wage scale.
It’s a consideration that remains premature while the window remains open on a long-term deal for Wilson. But if/when April 15 without a long-term deal between the Seahawks and Wilson, the question of whether would take less from a different team becomes highly relevant to whether the Seahawks could find a trade partner, if that’s the route the team chooses to take instead of paying him unprecedented franchise-tag money on a year-to-year basis.
And a long look at the situation from Peter King:
Russell Wilson is 30. He is the face of the Seattle Seahawks. His contract expires at the end of this year, and you’d think he’d be happy to leapfrog Aaron Rodgers as the highest-paid NFL player of all-time sometime this year.
I don’t think signing a boilerplate contract averaging $34 million a year—something Wilson never could have dreamed possible when he was the 75th player picked in the 2012 draft—will be enough for him, and for his representative, Mark Rodgers, a baseball agent with one football client, Wilson. I think Wilson actually would be content playing out his current contract and then working under the franchise tag for the next two seasons rather than taking a typical mega-millions contract. Playing year-to-year, Wilson would average $27.8 million a year over the next three years, rather than a solid $34 million a year over five or six.
That seems ridiculous. There’s a few reasons why it’s not.
But first, this deadline agent Rodgers has given Seattle. Today’s a big day in the Pacific Northwest if you take Wilson and Rodgers at their word, that—according to a source close to the talks—they say they won’t do a long-term deal with the Seahawks if it’s not done by tonight. Read that last sentence again. I didn’t mean they’d put off further talks on a new contract till 2020 if it’s not done by tonight. I meant Wilson and Rodgers don’t plan to negotiate further with the Seahawks, period. My source says they’ve told GM John Schneider it has to be done now, or not at all.
That’s why, with this being what Wilson likely believes is his last chance to get a truly market deal in Seattle, I would be shocked if he leaves this all to Rodgers, regardless how much he trusts his agent. Wilson’s an activist. I would bet he wants Schneider and/or Carroll to hear from him directly about why he wants to get this deal done now, and he wants to get it done differently than other quarterback deals have been done. I’ve known Wilson since training camp of his rookie year, and he’s one of the ultimate hands-on players I’ve met. He has never struck me as the type to hand a job this big to his agent and say, Good luck. Call me when it’s done.
If it does get done, my source says the contract would likely include devices to adjust future years of the deal based on how high the cap goes up year to year, or based on new revenue streams (gambling revenue, for example, or a TV contract that explodes). If it is not done, it means the Seahawks have determined Wilson isn’t worth setting such a precedent. (No NFL player’s contract fluctuates based on cap increases or increases in the league’s bottom line unknown at the time of signing.) That would be understandable, but would it be the right call for the Seahawks? It could be a potentially career-altering risk for Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
Of course, there’s no real reason why a deal couldn’t be done July 15 or Dec. 15 either. But waiting would be calling Wilson’s bluff. Maybe you win, maybe you lose. It’s a risk. Normally, talking about hard negotiations, I’d say big deal. Quarterbacks—all except Kirk Cousins—might play a year on the franchise tag, but they eventually sign long-term and stay with their teams. I think there’s a good chance Wilson could be different.
Like Cousins was, Wilson is not afraid to play year-to-year: this year at $17 million, and then as many as two years on the franchise tag, at $30.3 million in 2020 and $36.4 million in 2021. If the Seahawks chose to franchise Wilson a third time, the cost would rise to $52.4 million for 2022. Which would be a very difficult one-year salary for any team to digest, unless the cap skyrockets in 2021, when a new CBA is due to take effect.
Most players want the assurance of guaranteed money and long-term security. They’ll take significant guaranteed money in exchange for fighting for what Cousins got (a fully guaranteed three-year, $84-million contract) or what Wilson presumably wants (a fluctuating contract, based on the league’s future success). But from what I hear, Wilson and Rodgers feel the league could be on the precipice of major new revenue streams. Recently, Bills co-owner Kim Pegula said she wanted to have the opportunity to provide sports betting inside their stadium. What might the NFL’s take on in-stadium gambling be, and how would that be divided with the players? Could Facebook or some digital brand bid an unheard-of sum for the rights to part of the TV deal in 2022?
Because the game is so injurious, you don’t see many players going year-to-year. But Wilson’s durability is a big part of his football appeal. Since the day Wilson was drafted in 2012, the Seahawks have played 125 regular-season and postseason games. Wilson has started them all. Last year, he was the only NFL quarterback to take every offensive snap for his team. In the last two years, he has played 2,186 of Seattle’s 2,191 offensive snaps. That could change in an instant, of course. But Wilson is fine gambling on himself, and on his durability.
For those who would not put Wilson in the same stratum as Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady or Drew Brees, it’s understandable. But Wilson is the second-highest-rated quarterback in history (100.3). He has 83 career wins, regular-season and postseason, in seven years, an average of 11.8 a year.
Schneider, of course, has to worry about 53 players, not just one. Linebacker Bobby Wagner is due to hit free agency after this season, and he’s had the kind of career that one day will merit Hall of Fame consideration. If Wilson, the offensive leader, gets a precedent-setting contract, then what of the unquestioned leader of the defense, Wagner? He certainly wouldn’t get quarterback money, but Wagner might want to push for the kind of financial incentives Wilson gets.
A few other things, counter to the current rumor mill. I do not believe Wilson is pushing for a trade right now, to the Giants, or anywhere. I believe he wants to work out a deal with Seattle. I believe Wilson wants to know where he stands with the Seahawks long-term, which is one of the reasons why he is pushing hard for a deal to be done now. I believe if the Seahawks do not do a deal by midnight tonight, it doesn’t meant they don’t want Wilson to be their quarterback for the next decade—it just means they’re not willing to set a contractual precedent like tying his contract to how fast, and how high, the cap rises over the life of the deal.
Pragmatically, if I’m Wilson, everyone around the league views me as an Eagle Scout type, and as long as I step on the field, I’ve got to be all-in, and a team guy all the way. That is the only way he can maximize his value long-term, and perhaps post-Seahawks. And if I’m the Seahawks, I know the kind of person I have in Wilson, so maybe I feel: Let’s go year-to-year over the next three years, for reasonable money for a franchise quarterback, and hope at some point in those three years there’s a thaw and we can re-visit this contract.
Whatever happens, this is a dramatic day in Seattle. I don’t know which way it’ll go, but I don’t think it’s time to shred the “3” jerseys yet. Gut feeling: At the very least Wilson plays in Seattle three more years. And a lot can happen in those three years.
With all the talk of JOSH ROSEN being traded one year after being drafted, is it silly of the DB to wonder if the Seahawks might trade Wilson to the Jets for SAM DARNOLD?
The Jets, who might only be somewhat happy with Darnold, would get a franchise QB in his prime for their shiny new uniforms – while the Seahawks braintrust did their best work when they had Wilson on a below-market rookie deal and might not want to have their cap space filled with QB cash.
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And this from ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio on rumblings around DE FRANK CLARK.
It’s a fairly slow Sunday night in NFL circles, but a rumor making the rounds has gotten our attention.
There’s chatter on the NFL grapevine of a potential trade that would send Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark to a new team.
Jay Glazer recently wrote in a Q&A column for TheAthletic.com that trade talk regarding Clark has died down. Still, as of Sunday night, there are indications that something could be happening.
That something could be tied directly to the effort to sign quarterback Russell Wilson to a long-term deal. With $17.128 million in cap space devoted to Clark, the Seahawks could free up plenty of money for signing Wilson, whose cap number for 2019 currently sits at $25.286 million — and who has $8.286 million paid out in prior years counting against this year’s cap.
Per a league source, several teams called the Seahawks about trading for Clark last year, and they called again before 2019 free agency. The Seahawks now have to decide whether to get what they can for Clark, or to keep him for 16 more games at more than $1 million per week.
Before a trade could happen, Clark would have to sign the franchise tender. Which means that, as a practical matter, he’d have to be on board with the trade — because he could easily block it by refusing to put his name on the dotted line.
More pleadings from the lawyers of Robert Kraft. Alexi Cohan of the Boston Herald:
Releasing alleged video evidence of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft inside a Florida spa is “basically pornography” and would give him a “life sentence on the internet,” his lawyers and legal experts say.
Kraft’s attorneys were in a West Palm Beach court today saying any video release would jeopardize the billionaire’s right to a fair trial.
William Burck told a Palm Beach County judge that releasing the video would only satisfy a “prurient interest,” during a hearing held in part to determine whether media outlets could offer arguments in the case.
Defense attorney Peter Elikann, who is not involved in the case, told the Herald Kraft could end up with a lot of public shame due to Florida’s open record laws that are “essentially almost a free-for-all.”
“There’s no point to it other than to humiliate and give Mr. Kraft here a life sentence on the internet,” Elikann said. “It wouldn’t serve the public any good.”
Jupiter police obtained a search warrant to secretly record at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla. Police say those cameras captured Kraft twice paying to have sex with spa employees in January. Kraft was charged with two counts of solicitation as part of a multicounty investigation that also resulted in about 300 male customers being charged, 10 massage parlors being closed and their owners charged with felony prostitution.
Investigators initially said they were targeting human traffickers. But Assistant State Attorney Greg Kridos told the judge Friday that there was no evidence of human trafficking at the Jupiter spa.
Burck said the previously highly publicized allegations of human trafficking by both police and State Attorney Dave Aronberg had amounted to “politicking” and that they added to potential harm to Kraft’s privacy in releasing video evidence.
Attorneys for media outlets say redacted versions of the video evidence should be released on public interest grounds, and Judge Leonard Hanser said Friday that he would grant their motion to intervene in the case.
He gave parties a deadline of Tuesday to submit additional documents.
Kraft’s attorneys say the videos are an illegal invasion of privacy and are not necessary to be released publicly because the affidavits describe the acts that took place. They are seeking a motion to suppress the videos, arguing they also would mar chances for a fair trial.
If the search warrant was wrongly obtained or improperly worded, and there is evidence it was – then the DB would think the videos have no standing to be released.
We’re referring to this from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The over-the-top allegations of human trafficking were the fraud –
Kraft’s lawyers this week released a copy of the Jan. 15 warrant, enabling the public to see for the first time how the cops got permission for the cameras and what Kraft’s defense calls “eye-popping invasions.”
The lawyers claim police were able to convince a Palm Beach County judge the warrant was justified by alluding to human-trafficking crimes — while the real purpose was going after prostitution. The defense now wants another Palm Beach County judge to declare the warrant unconstitutional and block prosecutors from using the videos in Kraft’s trial.
Billionaire Robert Kraft wants speedy trial, possibly by May, in prostitution case
Police “had no authority whatsoever for something as drastic as ‘sneak and peek’ video surveillance, much less continuous, unbounded video surveillance of naked patrons in private licensed massage parlors,” wrote attorneys Jack Goldberger, Alex Spiro and William Burck.
They contend using a “spying” warrant for prostitution activity was so illegal under federal and state law that the judge could simply rule in Kraft’s favor without a hearing.