5 Key Stories: 4/14/24 – 4/21/24

The 2024 NFL draft has nearly arrived, and rumors continue to swirl regarding teams’ intentions near the top of the board. Plenty of updates on that front continue to emerge, although a pair of major extensions were also worked out in recent days. In case you missed any of the top developments from around the league this past week, here is a quick recap:

  • Eagles Retain Smith Through 2028: In the era of fifth-year options for first-round picks, no receiver had received an extension after three seasons in the league. The Eagles made an exception to that rule by handing DeVonta Smith a three-year, $75MM deal which will kick in following his rookie contract. To no surprise, Philadelphia also picked up Smith’s fifth-year option (valued at $15.59MM) and as a result the former Heisman winner will be on the books through 2028. Smith, 25, will collect $51MM guaranteed and the average annual value of his extension puts him in a tie (with teammate A.J. Brown) for fourth at the WR position. That marks a lucrative long-term commitment on the Eagles’ part, one which will no doubt continue to push the top of the receiver market forward when other ascending producers negotiate their own extensions.
  • Colts Extend Buckner: Indianapolis became the latest team to hand a sizable new contract to a defensive tackle by inking DeForest Buckner to a two-year, $46MM pact. The 30-year-old was set to enter 2024 as a contract year, but he has secured $43.55MM guaranteed at signing, a sign that he will remain in place for at least three more years. Buckner has received two of his three Pro Bowl invitations along with his lone first-team All-Pro nod during his four-year tenure with the Colts, and he will be counted on to remain a foundational figure on the team’s defense for years to come. Having kept a number of key players in the fold this offseason, Indianapolis will have Buckner at a reduced cap charge ($8.35MM) in 2024 before seeing that figure spike in later years.
  • Commanders Still Positioned To Select Daniels? Caleb Williams is universally seen as the Bears’ selection with the first overall pick in the upcoming draft. The Commanders’ choice at No. 2 is murkier, but indications continue to suggest Jayden Daniels will be headed to the nation’s capital. The 2023 Heisman winner was the subject of a recent report stating Washington is expected to draft him, but links to Antonio Pierce and the Raiders persist. Daniels’ preference is believed to be Las Vegas, an arrangement which would reunite him with Pierce. The Commanders are much better positioned to draft one of the class’ top quarterbacks (unlike the Raiders) as things stand, though, and Daniels is considered a fit within OC Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme. With Washington’s unorthodox QB visit process in the books, all eyes will remain on the team’s draft plans.
  • Top-Six Teams Discussing Pick Trades: Teams in need of a quarterback outnumber the selections available near the top of the order, which could lead to trade-up maneuvers on Day 1. While the Bears, Commanders and Patriots are in position to retain the first three selections, the next three picks could be in flux. The Cardinals are known to be open to moving on from No. 4, although their conditions for trading down may not be met in the coming days. Meanwhile, the Chargers (set to select fifth) and Giants (sixth) have each received calls from teams looking to move up. New York’s extensive homework on QB prospects could lead to a small trade-up, but the team remains a wild card with a move down the board believed to be in play. Overall, the potential exists for a substantial shake-up of the top-six order once the first round begins.
  • Prescott Open To 2025 Free Agency? No agreement is expected between the Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott this offseason. As a result, the three-time Pro Bowler is on track for free agency in 2025, something his comments on the matter suggest he is open to exploring. Prescott has no-trade and no-tag clauses in his current deal, a $40MM-per-year accord which will be dwarfed in value by his next one. Coming off a season in which he finished second in MVP voting, Prescott holds considerable leverage in talks with the Cowboys (although his and the team’s latest underwhelming postseason exit could lead to trepidation in pursuing a second multi-year commitment). Still, Dallas has another deal for the 30-year-old – as well as CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons – on the radar, something which could lead to a complicated financial outlook.
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