5 Key Stories: 5/28/23 – 6/4/23

As the calendar flips to June, a number of notable storylines remain around the NFL. In case you missed anything from the past week, here’s a quick recap:

  • Bills Extend Oliver: The latest major extension at the defensive tackle position has been agreed to, with Ed Oliver set to ink a four-year, $68MM deal. The former top-10 pick was already on the books for 2023 via the fifth-year option, but his long-term future is now secure. The pact includes $45MM in guarantees, a surprising figure given how Oliver’s career to date has been less impactful on the statsheet than the other young DTs who have inked big-money deals this offseason. The Bills are banking on Oliver continuing his career progression at the heart of what should be a strong defensive front while also hoping to enjoy relatively cost-effective play at the position given the changes in the market. Expectations will become even higher for the Houston product in the years to come now that his financial future is no longer in doubt.
  • Vikings Likely To Move On From Cook: The Vikings have parted ways with a number of high-profile veterans already this offseason, but they may not be done yet in that regard. Running back Dalvin Cook is expected to play elsewhere in 2023, even though he is still under contract in Minnesota at this point. A trade or release would yield cap savings for the Vikings, while also allowing them to hand the RB1 reigns over to Alexander Mattison, who inked a new deal in March. Cook, 27, had another productive campaign in 2022 by topping 1,100 rushing yards for the fourth straight season. The Dolphins are still a team to watch in terms of landing spots for the four-time Pro Bowler, but other suitors could emerge especially if he finds himself a free agent in the near future.
  • Hopkins Sweepstakes Continue: The most high-profile free agent at the moment is DeAndre Hopkins, making him the center of plenty of attention and speculation. The All-Pro wideout is, to no surprise, thought to be seeking a contract similar to the one-year deal Odell Beckham Jr. signed with the Ravens (worth a base value of $15MM guranteed). Such a pact would cost less than what Hopkins was owed before his Cardinals release, but it would be a challenge for any contending team to afford it. Despite that, the Bills and Chiefs continue to be named as frontrunners for the 30-year-old, who would represent a signficant boost to either team’s passing attacks in the talent-rich AFC. On the other hand, the Giants and Cowboys can likely be crossed off the list of expected destinations for Hopkins, who has also been linked to the Browns and Texans during his ongoing free agent process.
  • Giants, Barkley No Closer To Deal: The deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign multi-year deals is getting closer, but the Giants and Saquon Barkley are not on the cusp of getting an extension worked out. The Pro Bowl running back is set to earn $10.1MM on the tag this year, but he has turned down offers with significantly higher AAVs during extension talks. Now that quarterback Daniel Jones is under contract, the Giants have leverage in negotiating with Barkley, who had a career-year in 2022 as the team’s offensive focal point. No standing offer is on the table, and guarantees are likely the primary obstacle to both parties reaching agreement on a long-term deal. The sides have until mid-July to avoid Barkley playing on the tag in 2023.
  • Purdy Remains On Track To Retain Starting Role: One of the top storylines for the 49ers has been the recovery process for quarterback Brock Purdy. His progress on that front has reached the point where he has resumed throwing, putting him slightly ahead of schedule compared to post-surgery estimations. The 2022 ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ underwent UCL surgery in March, putting his Week 1 availability in serious doubt – something of particular concern considering the job he did after taking over QB1 duties midway through his rookie season last year. General manager John Lynch confirmed that, if healthy, Purdy will retain his spot atop the depth chart, despite the presence of former No. 3 picks Trey Lance and Sam Darnold on the roster. For now, things are lining up for Purdy to attempt a follow-up to his impressive debut campaign.
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