Month: June 2024

Bears Clinch Top Pick In 2024 Draft

The playoffs are not yet set, and we still have a week left to play in the 2023 regular season, but today it was determined that the Chicago Bears will own the No. 1 overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft this coming April. The Bears’ claim to the top overall selection is a result of two games that they had no part in today. It was a Panthers loss and a Cardinals win that ultimately determined the fate of the No. 1 pick.

The reason these two games affected Chicago comes from last year’s trade that enabled Carolina to draft rookie quarterback Bryce Young with the first overall pick in 2023. Chicago had possession of the draft’s top pick last year, as well. Having just selected quarterback Justin Fields with the 11th pick in 2021, the Bears didn’t feel the need to stay at No. 1, where Young was the heavy favorite to be selected, deciding instead to shop the pick for additional assets.

[RELATED: Latest On Bears’ Quarterback Situation]

They found buyers in Carolina who sent a haul of draft assets to the Bears. In addition to shipping wide receiver D.J. Moore, who has quietly been one of the NFL’s more consistent receivers, the Panthers sent Chicago the Nos. 9 and 61 picks of the 2023 draft, their first-round pick in 2024, and their second-round pick in 2025. The Bears flipped the No. 9 pick for the No. 10 pick from Philadelphia, which they used to draft their starting right tackle Darnell Wright, as well as a 2024 fourth-rounder. They paired the No. 61 pick with a 2023 fifth-round pick in order to move up to No. 56 and draft University of Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, who has started every game but one this year and recorded his third and fourth career interceptions today.

The key part of that trade now, though, appears to be the 2024 first-round pick that, thanks to the Panthers league-worst 2-14 record, will end up being the top overall pick in the draft. The Patriots, Commanders, and Cardinals held some hope of securing that draft slot coming into the week, with New England and Washington needing the Panthers to win out in order to have any chance, but today’s loss put Carolina out of reach of both teams. The Cardinals could’ve still had a chance next week if they hadn’t shockingly beaten the Eagles today, moving them out of range, as well.

What’s interesting is that the Bears will find themselves in a very similar position to last year. Once again, a quarterback, USC’s Caleb Williams, is the consensus favorite to be the first player selected in the draft. There were some questions about Fields throughout the team’s 14-game losing streak dating back to last year, but since ending the streak, the Bears have gone an impressive 7-5 with Fields going 5-2 as a starter. The Bears may once again decide that they believe in Fields as their quarterback of the future and decide they don’t want Williams at No. 1. Now, they could simply decide to pivot and not select a quarterback, opting to bring in Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. or shocking the world by selecting Georgia tight end Brock Bowers at No. 1. Much more likely, Chicago may, once again, put the pick up for grabs to the highest bidder.

There are going to be a number of quarterback-needy teams heading into the draft this year. The Patriots have effectively moved on from former first-round pick Mac Jones in favor of Bailey Zappe. The Raiders are starting fourth-round rookie Aidan O’Connell over free agent acquisition Jimmy Garoppolo. Kirk Cousins is currently on the road towards free agency in Minnesota. The Falcons and Buccaneers have options that may not inspire much confidence moving forward. And the Commanders and Giants entered the year thinking they had answers at quarterback that they may be questioning now.

Regardless, the No. 1 overall pick is the Bears to decide what to do with. They may decide to add to their offensive line or bring in a weapon for Fields, they could decide to bring in some competition for Fields, or for the second straight year, general manager Ryan Poles may flex once again and flip the pick for a massively improving haul. Time will tell, but Chicago’s fate is currently in its own hands, thanks to Carolina.

Packers Could Part Ways With CB Jaire Alexander

Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander may have just one more game with Green Bay. The two-time Pro Bowler has been suspended for the club’s Week 17 game against the Vikings, and while he is expected to return for the regular season finale, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com makes it clear that Alexander may not be in the Packers’ long-term plans.

According to Schefter, Green Bay’s decision on whether to retain Alexander will hinge on the $8MM roster bonus that he is due on March 20. If the team decides to keep Alexander in the fold, it will simply pay out the bonus and move on. However, Schefter reports that the Packers could explore a trade or even a release before the bonus comes due.

Alexander signed a four-year, $84MM extension in May 2022, a deal that made him the highest-paid corner in NFL history in terms of average annual value (though his $30MM in full guarantees only ranked 12th among his cornerback peers). The Louisville product did nothing to make the team regret its decision in the first year of his new contract, as he earned his second Pro Bowl nod, intercepted a career-best five passes, and earned a stellar 80.3 overall grade from Pro Football Focus in 2022.

Unfortunately, 2023 has not been as kind to Alexander. He has missed nine games due to injury this season, and in his return after a six-game absence last week, he unexpectedly joined the designated captains for the coin toss — despite not being chosen as a captain — and called out “tails.” Though he won the toss, he made a critical error by saying that the Packers wished to start the game on defense, which is not the same as deferring to the second half. In other words, the Panthers nearly started both halves with the ball, and would have done so if head coach Matt LaFleur had not communicated his intentions to referee Alex Kemp prior to the game, and if Kemp had not clarified Alexander’s decision.

Alexander also expressed no remorse for the gaffe, instead implying that it was “only suiting” for him to join the captains since the game was in Charlotte and since he is a Charlotte native (a fact that he believed LaFleur was unaware of). Schefter adds that the Packers, who prefer their players to participate in their offseason program in Green Bay, do not like the fact that Alexander does not do so; indeed, Alexander forfeited a $700K workout bonus in the spring so that he could train in Florida instead.

Despite that, Dianna Russini of The Athletic (subscription required) hears that Alexander is not considered a “problem child” within the organization. Although the injuries are a concern — Alexander also missed all but four games of the 2021 campaign — his abilities, age (he will turn 27 in February) and the fact that a trade or release would create a significant dead money charge would seem to indicate that he will be back in Green Bay in 2024. However, Russini, like Schefter, believes that a parting of the ways is a real possibility.

Georgia T Amarius Mims Declares For 2024 NFL Draft

The Georgia Bulldogs continue to churn out top-tier NFL talent. Following the team’s blowout 63-3 victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl, giant human and Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims has officially declared for the 2024 NFL Draft, per ESPN’s Pete Thamel, forgoing his senior year of eligibility. Widely considered a top-five tackle prospect, Mims is expected to be a Day 1 pick come April.

Mims came out of Bleckley County HS (GA) as a five-star offensive tackle, enrolling in Athens a semester early in order to get a head start on his development. Mims failed to crack the starting lineup as a freshman, sitting behind future NFL draft picks Warren McClendon and Jamaree Salyer. With future first-round draft pick Broderick Jones set to replace Salyer at tackle in 2022, Mims made the decision to explore his options in the transfer portal. He would visit FSU before ultimately deciding to withdraw his name from the portal and remain at UGA, knowing that he would once again be serving in a reserve role.

After an injury to McClendon late in the year, though, Mims was asked to step up to start in a College Football Playoff game and the team’s victorious National Championship game. McClendon would be drafted in the fifth round this past April, opening the door for Mims to finally enter the season as the Bulldogs’ starter. After three starts, Mims suffered a high ankle sprain and was forced to undergo tightrope surgery. It would take nine weeks for Mims to finally get back on the field. Following his return, Mims would exit the team’s loss in the SEC Championship Game early and was not dressed yesterday against the Seminoles.

While in limited time Mims has graded out well, with Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranking him as college football’s 52nd best offensive tackle, most of his first-round hype is based on projection. In three years at Georgia, Mims started only eight contests. Still, listed at 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds on the Bulldogs’ roster, Mims is an absolute, physical specimen, serving as a potential development prospect with incredible upside. The Athletic slotted Mims in as the 19th-best overall prospect (and the fourth-best offensive tackle) in Dane Brugler’s midseason rankings. ESPN’s Mel Kiper put Mims at 23rd overall, ranking him as the draft’s fifth-best offensive tackle.

There aren’t many examples of offensive tackles with so little starting experience being drafted so highly, but that likely won’t stop a team with desperate offensive line needs from taking a chance on the big-bodied 21-year-old. Interested teams will likely be paying close attention in interviews, the Scouting Combine, and Georgia’s pro day. While his lack of experience and recent injury history will pose a hurdle on his road to the NFL, his freakish size and immense potential should overshadow any doubts.

NFL Coaching Rumors: Harbaugh, Eberflus, Rivera

The rumors have not slowed down linking University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh to the NFL. Harbaugh has been continuously mentioned as a candidate for any open head coaching position in the last few years, and his latest move is only adding fuel to the fire. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Harbaugh has hired a new agent in Don Yee, a longtime agent with such notable clients as Tom Brady and Sean Payton.

Harbaugh is currently in a complicated position. As NFL teams have begun parting ways with coaches or making their intentions for the future clear, Harbaugh still has to deal with his current position. The top-ranked Wolverines are one of four college football teams in the country with something still to play for. Tomorrow afternoon, Michigan will face off against the 4-seed Crimson Tide for a chance to play in the National Championship the following Monday. In addition to being in contention to win it all at the college level, Harbaugh has also been in major discussions for an extension to remain at Michigan.

The possibility of an extension is one likely reason for Yee’s hiring. Entering complicated contract negotiations that have been rumored to include a clause restricting Harbaugh’s ability to leave for an NFL job is reason enough to bring in representation. That being said, Yee’s NFL ties are not easy to ignore. The obvious tie with Yee comes from his relationship with Brady. Brady has been rumored as a potential candidate for partial ownership in the Raiders, who recently parted ways with head coach Josh McDaniels. Interim head coach Antonio Pierce has been making a strong case to hold on to the permanent position with a 4-3 record since taking over, but we saw a similar interim situation not pan out for the incumbent coach in Carolina last year, so anything is still possible.

Here are a few other coaching rumors from around the NFL:

  • In a report last night, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport delivered an update on Bears head coach Matt Eberflus. Entering the 2023 season on a 10-game losing streak after having gone 3-14 in his first season as head coach, patience for Eberflus in Chicago seemed to be wearing thin. After the team finally ended the skid at 14 games, Eberflus has led the Bears to a 6-5 record since, keeping the team improbably in the playoff race. The Bears are playing winning football recently, with even their most recent two losses coming in one-score games against playoff teams from Detroit and Cleveland. At this point, Rapoport claims that he would be surprised to not see Eberflus back for the 2024 season. Additionally, Eberflus has been handling defensive coordinator duties since the untimely resignation of Alan Williams at the start of the season, a role he also may retain going into next year.
  • On the other hand, Rapoport wasn’t nearly as optimistic about the prospects for current Commanders head coach Ron Rivera. With new owner Josh Harris in the building, it was expected that Rivera would at least be granted the opportunity to make a case to retain his position. After a six-game losing streak that has eliminated Washington from playoff contention, Rivera’s audition is not going well. Spelling further possible doom for Rivera, after putting all of his eggs in the Sam Howell-basket, hoping to develop the young gunslinger into a franchise passer, Rivera has been forced to bench Howell in each of the team’s last two losses in favor of Jacoby Brissett. Nothing seems to have been decided quite yet, but things aren’t looking promising for Rivera and company in Washington.

Bengals Unlikely To Re-Sign CB Chidobe Awuzie?

Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is in the final year of the three-year, $21.75MM contract he signed in March 2021. According to Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic (subscription required), Awuzie is unlikely to be back in Cincinnati in 2024.

Dehner’s expanisve piece, which details Awuzie’s journey from his early success with the Bengals through his recovery from his 2022 ACL tear and to last week’s struggles in a loss to the Steelers, notes that Awuzie still views himself as a starting corner. Cincinnati, however, will want to move forward with recent draftees Cam Taylor-Britt and DJ Turner as its starting CBs on the boundaries, and the clear implication is that, unless Awuzie is unable to find a starter’s contract on the open market, he will be moving on.

Of course, there is a good chance that Awuzie’s market will not develop as he would like. He built on a stellar 2021 with a strong start to the 2022 campaign, but the ACL tear he suffered in Week 8 of that season derailed his career. The Bengals deployed something of a rotation with Awuzie and the rookie Turner to start the current season, and between that rotation and an early-season back injury, he was unable to get into much of a rhythm. He also conceded that he had not yet recaptured the speed that is such a key element of his game.

He did appear to be rounding into form from Weeks 11 to 15. Due to an injury to Taylor-Britt, Awuzie returned to a full-time role and yielded a modest 73.6 passer rating during that time. Then, in the Week 16 loss to Pittsburgh, he struggled mightily against wideout George Pickens, which negated that string of strong performances to some degree.

As such, the final two games of the regular season and, if the Bengals should qualify for the playoffs, any postseason contests will go a long way towards determining Awuzie’s next home, as well as the nature of his next contract. Should he play well, it would easy enough for interested clubs to point to his strong start to his Cincinnati tenure and the fact that he showed flashes in his first year following an ACL tear to justify a lucrative, multiyear deal. If he should struggle, then he may need to settle for a one-year, prove-it contract, which could theoretically increase the chances of a Bengals re-up.

Saints Likely To Retain HC Dennis Allen

About three weeks after we heard that Saints head coach Dennis Allen could be on the hot seat, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com offer a contrasting view. The duo report that Allen is likely to get a third season as New Orleans’ HC in 2024.

Of course, the same caveat that these types of reports typically contain is also applicable to this situation: if there is a “late-season debacle,” the organization could elect to move on from Allen. However, barring such a catastrophe, Rapoport and Pelissero are hearing that Allen is safe for at least one more year.

At present, the Saints are 7-8 and in third place in the NFC South. However, they have the same record as the second-place Falcons and are just one game behind the first-place Buccaneers and will take on both clubs over the final two games of the season. They therefore have a real chance to win the admittedly weak division and secure a home playoff game, a scenario that would obviously boost Allen’s job security in a big way.

Regardless of whether New Orleans qualifies for the postseason, owner Gayle Benson and GM Mickey Loomis recognize the difficulties that Allen has faced — the early-season suspension of Alvin Kamara and the injuries to quarterback Derek Carr, the O-line, and the defensive front seven, for instance — and have nonetheless been unwavering in their support of him. During Allen’s run as the Saints’ DC from 2015-21, he helped transform a defense that had generally struggled prior to his arrival into a formidable unit, and it appears he still has a great deal of goodwill with the franchise’s top decision-makers.

Even if Allen is retained, some coaching changes may be on the horizon. In the earlier report indicating that Allen’s job could be in jeopardy, it was suggested that Benson and Loomis would seek a replacement with an offensive background, and Rapoport and Pelissero concede that the offensive operation will get a “thorough examination” after the season. Although they do not say so explictily, OC Pete Carmichael could be on the outs irrespective of New Orleans’ decision on Allen.

Back in October, we learned that Carmichael is on the hot seat, although the offense’s performance has improved since then. The team currently ranks in the top half of the league in terms of both total offense and points per game.

Jaylen Waddle Sustains High Ankle Sprain

DECEMBER 31: Waddle may miss the Dolphins’ regular season finale as well, but he is expected back for Miami’s first postseason contest, whenever that might be, as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports (video link).

DECEMBER 29: As expected, Waddle will not play against the Ravens in Week 17. McDaniel ruled out the third-year speedster for Sunday’s pivotal matchup against the Ravens. While the second-year HC did not call this a severe injury and pointed to Waddle’s ability to recover quickly, Week 18 looms as his earliest possible return date.

DECEMBER 25: Coming out of a crucial win against the Cowboys, the Dolphins have one of their starting wide receivers facing a cloudy outlook as 2024 nears. Tests are ongoing, but Mike McDaniel said Monday (via ESPN.com’s Marcel Louis-Jacques) the injury that forced Jaylen Waddle out of Sunday’s matchup looks like a high ankle sprain.

The Dolphins, who were iffy to have Tyreek Hill available for Week 16 due to an ankle injury, lost Waddle with what was initially believed to be a shin malady. McDaniel’s update makes this a bit more concerning, especially given the Dolphins’ upcoming schedule and push for their first AFC East title since 2008.

Waddle left the Miami-Dallas matchup twice due to injury, not returning after the second instance. While the Dolphins prevailed without their younger speed merchant, this would be an obvious setback — especially considering the number of injuries they have sustained on offense. Miami played Sunday without four starting offensive linemen, with only Terron Armstead — who has again missed time due to injury previously this season — available. The AFC East leaders have been able to withstand these nagging issues, moving to 11-4 and qualifying for the playoffs for a second straight year. But Waddle’s status will obviously be worth monitoring.

McDaniel expressed optimism about his No. 2 wideout, but high ankle maladies often sideline players for multiple weeks. The Dolphins close the season with games against the Ravens and Bills. A loss in Baltimore and Buffalo defeating New England would make the rivals’ Week 18 tilt for the AFC East championship.

Waddle has only missed two games over the course of his pro career, but an ankle fracture caused the 2021 first-round pick to miss seven games during his final Alabama season. The overqualified Hill sidekick snared a 50-yard reception against the Cowboys before leaving Sunday, putting him over 1,000 receiving yards for a third straight year. Considering Waddle’s importance to the team, it would be a surprise if the Dolphins considered an IR move here.

Russell Wilson Confirms Broncos Asked Him To Adjust Contract; QB Wants To Stay With Team In 2024

On the verge of becoming a first-time free agent, Russell Wilson resides in limbo to close out his second season with the Broncos. Demoted after the Broncos fell out of reasonable playoff contention, Wilson has expected to be released for several weeks.

First, however, the 12th-year veteran will be Denver’s QB2 behind Jarrett Stidham against the Chargers. Unlike Derek Carr, who left the Raiders following his benching for Stidham last season, Wilson will dress for the Broncos’ Week 17 game. Beyond that, his situation is murky.

Wilson shed light on the Broncos’ reported attempt to change his guarantee vesting date. GM George Paton is believed to have contacted Wilson’s agent about adjusting the contract to move back the 2024 vesting date, according to the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson. Wilson also confirmed (via Denver7’s Troy Renck) this occurred during Denver’s Week 10 bye, just after the team had beaten the Chiefs. The 35-year-old QB also said the team notified him he would be benched earlier had he not agreed to do so. After the NFLPA contacted the Broncos about this request, with Wilson adding the NFL indeed was also involved, the team did not follow through with benching its starter at that juncture. His five-year, $245MM contract remains untouched — for now.

They came up to me during the bye week, beginning of the bye week — Monday or Tuesday — and told me if I didn’t change my contract, my injury guarantee, I’d be benched for the rest of the year,” Wilson said. “I was definitely disappointed about it. It was a process through the whole bye week. We had just came off beating the Chiefs. I was excited obviously for us fighting for the playoffs. The NFLPA and NFL got involved at some point, I think.

“… I wasn’t going to take away injury guarantees. This game is such a physical game. I’ve played for 12 years and that matters to me.”

The former Seahawks superstar suffered multiple injuries, including a concussion last season; he missed two games. Were he unable to pass a physical by the start of the 2024 league year, the Broncos would be locked into paying that guarantee. Sitting him to close out this season doubles as a bubble-wrap scenario Las Vegas utilized with Carr and Washington executed by sitting Robert Griffin III — to protect against his fifth-year option salary from locking in, back when the options were guaranteed for injury only — in 2015.

A 2024 release will hit the Broncos with a record-shattering dead-money figure, $84.6MM over two years in a post-June 1 cut scenario. (For perspective, the Falcons’ $40.5MM Matt Ryan dead-money hit is the current single-player record.) But Denver’s two-year starter said Friday (via Tomasson) he wants to stay with the Broncos beyond this season. That would almost definitely require a contract adjustment, and the nine-time Pro Bowler did not confirm he was open to that.

Indicating disappointment with the Broncos’ midseason request and calling it a “low blow,” Wilson still appears headed toward free agency. When asked about the October attempt to adjust Wilson’s contract, Payton said (via Tomasson) he was not privy to the matter pertaining to the injury guarantee. The timing of the request occurred between the Broncos’ wins over the Chiefs and Bills. While they won four more games after the request, the team’s losses to the Lions and Patriots have all but buried its playoff hopes.

The guarantee in question — a $37MM sum — covers Wilson’s 2025 base salary; it shifts from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee on Day 5 of the 2024 league year. The Broncos attempted this ultimatum measure to explore a post-2023 future with Wilson, Renck notes. The Broncos aimed to move the vesting date from March 2024 to March 2025 to provide them more flexibility, per Tomasson.

Faring better this season than he did in 2022, Wilson has still not justified the trade cost or the $49MM-per-year extension. The former Super Bowl champion would have had a better chance to stay in Denver for the 2024 season had he accepted the team’s terms, but it is not surprising he would decline this request. It would have represented a risk had he gotten injured during the season’s second half. Were that $37MM guarantee not in the equation, the Broncos could have cut Wilson in 2025 for $49MM rather than the $84.6MM total they will soon face.

Wilson is not expected to receive that extra $37MM, but his contract will have paid out the $124MM fully guaranteed; that represents a monster sum for two years of work. Barring an 11th-hour reconciliation, the parties will separate at some point between Super Bowl LVIII and that March vesting date. Wilson will presumably look for another chance at a starting job elsewhere, while his contract will hamstring the Broncos as they seek to replace him.

I hope that it’s here. I hope that it’s here for a long time,” Wilson said of his playing future. “… But if it’s not here, I’ll be prepared to do that somewhere else.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com does say that the Broncos will only part ways with Wilson if a better option becomes available to them. After all, as we discussed when the news of Wilson’s benching was first reported, Wilson will account for roughly the same charge on Denver’s cap over the next two seasons regardless of whether the club cuts him or retains him through Day 5 of the 2024 league year (although the actual cash outlay would be $37MM less if Wilson is released prior to the vesting date). Rapoport floats the possibility of a trade, noting that Wilson’s no-trade clause would allow player and team to work together to engineer some sort of mutually-beneficial exit.

Likewise, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com acknowledges that keeping Wilson or trading him are options that remain on the table, but both pundits ultimately believe that a release is far and away the more realistic outcome. Assuming Wilson is indeed cut, the Broncos are likely to designate him as a post-June 1 release to at least spread his staggering dead money hit over two seasons, as Schefter confirms.

Rapoport notes, as we also detailed previously, that Payton is unhappy with the way his offense looks with Wilson at the helm. Payton, who was privately unsure how Wilson would perform in the system that Drew Brees thrived in for so many years, has had to pare down and simplify his scheme, and even that did not allow the offense to operate at the speed that would allow it to maximize its potential. Furthermore, players have seen on film how Wilson, despite some big fourth-quarter performances, has failed to find open receivers on a consistent basis, and some players wondered even before Wilson’s benching if Stidham would be the better option. Starting today, we will start to see if there is some merit to those musings.

Rory Parks contributed to this post.

Franchise Tag Candidate: Tee Higgins

The Bengals have enjoyed one of the league’s best receiver trios over the past three years with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. The latter two are pending free agents, though, leaving the team with interesting decisions to make.

Higgins in particular is due for a raise this offseason, either on a long-term Bengals agreement, a deal sending him to a new team or a franchise tag. ESPN’s Dan Graziano notes the former second-rounder is indeed a “strong candidate” for the one-year tender. Franchise tags in 2024 are projected to check in at $21.66MM for wideouts, but that figure could be a placeholder for a multi-year pact in Cincinnati or elsewhere.

Graziano’s colleague Jeremy Fowler adds Higgins could become a tag-and-trade option if talks on a deal fail to gain traction. The team shot down trade speculation this past offseason, leaving pressure on all parties to reach an agreement. The 24-year-old has dealt with injuries this campaign, but he has multiple 1,000-yard seasons on his resume and could operate as an acquiring team’s top WR over a long-term stretch. The Bengals were unable to hammer out a new Higgins contract in the summer, and talks will not resume until the end of the campaign.

The Clemson alum is on track to finish with career lows in receptions and yards, although he has delivered a strong showing recently in the absence of Chase. The latter will be eligible for a monster extension this offseason, and he profiles as a higher priority than Higgins on a long-term commitment. Should talks on an agreement stall once again, the Bengals would no doubt have a signficant market in a tag-and-trade scenario.

The 2024 offseason figures to have more high-profile receiver options available than last year. The likes of Mike Evans, Michael Pittman Jr., Calvin Ridley and Marquise Brown are set to see their respective contracts expire. Higgins will be one of the most sought-after WRs if he is available, as foreshowed by midseason attempts made to acquire him from around the league.

Both the Jets and Panthers included Higgins in their efforts to add at the trade deadline. No deals emerged, but agreeing to one would have been contingent on hammering out a multi-year contract from New York and Carolina’s perspective. If a similar appetite exists in the spring, the Bengals could receive numerous trade offers upon using the tag. A Cincinnati agreement could still ensue, of course, but that would complicate the team’s financial outlook.

Keeping Chase, Higgins and Boyd on the books in 2024 and beyond would prove challenging for the Bengals. The eldest member of the group is well aware his future with the franchise is in question, given the presence of younger WR options in need of long-term commitments. Boyd has expressed a desire to remain in Cincinnati, where he has spent all seven seasons of his career. A Higgins deal would greatly increase the chances of Boyd departing, a move which would create a notable vacancy in the team’s offense.

The Bengals are currently projected to be near the top of the league in terms of 204 cap space. Among the many key organizational decisions yet to be made, though, the one concerning Higgins’ future will be one of the most important. His situation will be worth watching closely once Cincinnati’s season comes to an end.

Seahawks Waive Frank Clark, Place S Jamal Adams, WR Dee Eskridge On IR

After a short reunion in Seattle, the Seahawks have opted to part ways with veteran pass rusher Frank Clark, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The former three-time Pro Bowler will hit the waiver wire and potentially be available to sign for a playoff run. Additionally, the team will spend the remainder of the season without safety Jamal Adams and wide receiver Dee Eskridge, announcing that both players have been placed on injured reserve.

The Seahawks drafted Clark back in the 2015 second round and franchise-tagged him four years later, but the team executed a tag-and-trade transaction to send the former Michael BennettCliff Avril sidekick to the Chiefs. While the Chiefs were viewed as perhaps the lead candidate to sign Clark, the recent Bronco found his way back to the Pacific Northwest. Injuries and poor fit led to his departure from Denver, so established fits like Seattle and Kansas City were really the best options for Clark.

Adams has missed the team’s last two games with a knee injury, and he will now miss their final two games of the season, as well. Despite Adams’ return to practice this week, head coach Pete Carroll made the call, determining that Adams was not doing well enough to play. This continues a troubling trend as Adams has not played a full, healthy season since joining the Seahawks three years ago. After missing almost all of the 2022 season, Adams will now have missed eight more games in 2023.

With continuing large cap hits over the next two seasons, there’s been plenty of speculation that Adams’ injury issues could lead to him becoming a salary cap casualty. Even if Seattle opts not to take that route, Adams himself considered calling it quits after last year’s season-ending quadriceps injury. More injury trouble this year may push Adams even closer to retirement. Regardless, this may have been the last season that we see Adams in navy and green.

Eskridge will now see a stint on IR for the third straight year to start his career. It’s safe to say that the Seahawks have not quite seen the return on investment out of their former second-round pick. Including a six-game suspension to start his 2023 campaign, Eskridge will have missed 27 of a possible 51 games since being drafted in 2021. He failed to catch his lone target of this year and only has 17 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown in his career.

In order to fill the three newly vacated roster spots, the Seahawks have signed linebacker Patrick O’Connell, safety Ty Okada, and offensive tackle Jake Curhan to the active roster from the practice squad. With linebacker Jordyn Brooks ruled out for this week’s matchup, O’Connell should provide some added depth at the position. Additionally, Seattle announced that nose tackle Austin Faoliu and cornerback Kelvin Joseph will join the above three as standard gameday elevations from the practice squad this weekend.