5 Key Stories: 5/19/24 – 5/26/24

This week marked the beginning of organized team activities in many cases around the NFL. The spring event represents an early marker with respect to contract talks for a number of players, which includes deliberate absences from the voluntary practices in several instances; a few notable developments on that front have been seen recently. In case you missed the past week’s top stories, here is a quick recap:

  • Tagovailoa Participating In Dolphins’ OTAs: Unlike past years, Tua Tagovailoa was absent for much of the Dolphins’ early offseason program in 2024. To no surprise, that move was reportedly driven by the fact he does not have an extension in place. As talks continue, the team’s franchise quarterback is however taking part in OTAs. Tagovailoa is also believed to have turned down at least one extension offer to date, and developments in that respect will of course be more significant than his spring attendance and performances. The former No. 5 pick is set to play on his fifth-year option ($23.17MM) this season, but he will be aiming to join the quintet of passers currently attached to a deal averaging more than $50MM per season.
  • Jefferson Aiming For Market-Resetting Vikings Deal? Among the many receivers eligible for an extension this offseason who are skipping OTAs is Justin Jefferson, whose Vikings career has seen him enjoy an historic start in terms of production. He is looking to parlay that into the league’s most lucrative deal for non-quarterbacks. Reaching that goal would require an extension worth more than Nick Bosa’s $34MM-per-year pact, a record-breaking one for defenders signed last year. Jefferson, 24, did not follow up his Offensive Player of the Year campaign as planned in 2023, with a hamstring injury sidelining him for seven games. Still, he is on track to earn much more than the $19.74MM he is due for 2024 on a multi-year agreement. The top of the receiver market reached $32MM in AAV earlier this offseason, and Jefferson has a strong case to surpass that mark.
  • Wirfs Not Close To Buccaneers Extension: The Buccaneers have been busy this offseason with respect to retaining members of their core. The last major piece of business remaining is a monster extension for left tackle Tristan Wirfs. The three-time Pro Bowler excelled on the right side to start his career before shifting to the blindside in 2023. Wirfs, 25, has upped his market value well beyond the $18.24MM he is due this season, and a new deal will no doubt be much more valuable. Team and player are not close on contract terms at the moment, however, and the Iowa product has elected to skip OTAs. Tampa Bay’s offense will depend on Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans (both of whom received extensions this offseason) moving forward, and that will also be true of Wirfs. The latter’s contract status will be a key topic in the summer if no agreement is reached.
  • 49ers’ Aiyuk Eyeing Top Of WR Market On New Deal? Another receiver attempting to use his leverage to secure a new deal is Brandon Aiyuk. Often connected to 49ers trade talk this offseason, he is reportedly aiming for a deal at or near the top of the receiver market. That would essentially peg his asking price at $30MM per season on a multi-year deal, one San Francisco will be hard-pressed to authorize given the team’s other contracts at the skill positions. Quarterback Brock Purdy will be eligible for an extension next offseason, and the team must budget for that during Aiyuk negotiations. The latter (coming off a career year) is not close to working out a deal at this point, so his status will remain worth watching closely. That could especially be true given the 49ers’ decision to use a first-round pick on a receiver this year (Ricky Pearsall).
  • Goodell, Many Owners Support 18-Game Schedule: One of the topics discussed at the May owners meetings was an expansion of the regular season to 18 games. Commissioner Roger Goodell voiced support for the move, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is among those who are in agreement. Giants owner John Mara cited health and safety concerns as a reason for opposing an 18th regular season game, but many of the league’s decision-makers were already known to be on board with replacing a preseason contest with an additional one during the season. The league did so as part of the current CBA to create the 17-game schedule, and further movement could be pursued before the through-2030 deal expires. Concessions such as a second bye week would be required for the NFLPA to get on board, but more would no doubt be necessary for such a change to be finalized.    
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