Josh Allen (QB)

Poll: Which Team Best Addressed QB Spot This Offseason?

This turned out to be an important year for quarterback acquisitions. Many teams’ short- and long-term futures will depend heavily on the players they added over the past two months.

A fourth of the NFL made major investments in outside talent at the quarterback position this offseason. Which team did you think is in the best position after all the dominoes fell?

Three teams acquired their unquestioned starters via trade or free agency. The Redskins’ trade for Alex Smith ensured they were not going to pick a quarterback in the draft. As did the Vikings’ subsequent Kirk Cousins agreement. The Broncos entered the draft as a borderline QB destination, but John Elway valued Bradley Chubb more than Josh Allen or Josh Rosen, eschewing a Bills offer that would have given his team extra first- and second-round picks. So, Case Keenum is going to be Denver’s starter.

Four of the five teams that used first-round picks on quarterbacks made sure to add bridge-type solutions, with the Browns moving first to get Tyrod Taylor. The Jets and Cardinals then respectively proceeded to bring in Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. And the Bills made the final stopgap addition in A.J. McCarron. But these players, for the most part, are 2018 placeholders — at best.

Was Baker Mayfield worth the No. 1 overall pick? Or did the Browns make what could turn out to be the costliest of their spree of modern quarterback misjudgments last month? Several Cleveland executives independently rated Mayfield as the draft’s premier passer, going against the grain of the many teams that viewed Sam Darnold as this year’s top passing prospect. The Jets appear to have appreciated this bold move, and Darnold is almost certainly going to see extensive time in 2018. PFR readers believe he will.

The Bills worked the phones relentlessly in an effort to install Allen behind McCarron, and the Cardinals reportedly had the Wyoming prodigy rated as their top QB as well. But Allen could need extensive seasoning, and as of now, a returning playoff team has a fifth-year player with 133 career pass attempts set to open the season and possibly close it as the starter.

Conversely, the player the Cardinals invested in was tabbed by many draft experts as the readiest pro. And Bradford being in front of Rosen for 16 games may be asking a lot from the injury-prone veteran. The Ravens are already planning Jackson packages, and although the player whom some teams wanted to work out as a wide receiver may need a season to develop, this draft’s most dominant college QB resides in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco.

Armed with one of the league’s most talented rosters, Minnesota had the most obvious case to pursue a veteran. And the Vikings made history by authorizing a $28MM-AAV fully guaranteed deal for the soon-to-be 30-year-old Cousins, who may be the safest option among all of these players. But he’s now the league’s second-highest-paid passer and tethered to the Vikings through 2020. Smith is coming off his best NFL season, but his Chiefs teams disappointed in two home playoff opportunities. Washington could also be much further away from contention than Minnesota, and the Redskins have now brought in quarterback who for all the stability he offers is four years older.

It’s debatable the Broncos’ contention window could still be open, with many of their core Super Bowl 50 performers still on the team and having played the past two seasons without much help at quarterback. But a 5-11 team armed with only its second top-five pick since 1992 passing on two coveted QB prospects to pursue the 30-year-old Keenum, a late-blooming talent or a player who benefited from better circumstances, could also be classified as a bold choice as Rosen and Allen’s careers unfold. The Broncos only committed to Keenum for two years and are paying Football Outsiders’ No. 4 2017 DYAR passer $10MM less per year than Cousins commanded.

So, with all things considered, which of these franchises is best set up after this offseason? Did one of the teams that spent a first-round pick on a QB ensure a decade and then some of stability and promise? Or did the teams that went strictly for vets get this right? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Which Rookie QB WIll Log The Most Playing Time In 2018?

Six quarterbacks were taken in the first three rounds of the 2018 draft, including the Browns taking Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick.

Though teams spent high-value picks on quarterbacks in 2018, not every quarterback will be in a position to take over a starting role in 2018, though each seemingly has a decent possibility at finding the field in their rookie year. Along with the Browns selecting Mayfield, the Jets selected Sam Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick, the Bills took Josh Allen with the No. 7 overall pick, the Cardinals took Josh Rosen with the No. 10 overall pick and the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson with the No. 32 overall pick. The Steelers also selected Mason Rudolph in the third round of the draft.

Each quarterback has a roadblock to finding playing time in 2018. The Browns acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor via trade, the Jets re-signed Josh McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater, the Cardinals signed Sam Bradford and the Bills traded for A.J. McCarron. The Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger entrenched in the starting role, though he’s missed eight games over the last three seasons.

So, which quarterback do you think will receive the most playing time in 2018? Will injuries to Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco force Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph into action? Or can Mayfield, Darnold, Rosen or Allen win battles in crowded quarterback rooms?

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Draft QB Fallout: Darnold, Allen, Mayfield

A draft that produced one of the longest rumor cycles surrounding quarterbacks in recent memory continues to generate fallout. And some of it centers on the quarterback that fell to No. 3.

Among the emotions expressed in the Jets’ war room after the Giants chose Saquon Barkley over Sam Darnold were disbelief and joy, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. But the Giants weren’t the only team many NFL executives and scouts believe helped out the Jets.

The Browns’ Baker Mayfield pick went against the grain, with Matt Miller of Bleacher Report writing that he only confirmed two teams — the Browns and Patriots — that rated the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner as the top quarterback in this draft. Conversely, 15 different teams rated Darnold as their top QB, Miller reports.

Mike Maccagnan decided to keep an airtight lid on his quarterback hierarchy, only informing Christopher Johnson and Todd Bowles of which signal-caller he had as his top-rated passer. The fourth-year Jets GM didn’t bother to assign final grades to the top five QBs in fear of that information seeping out, but grades were given to every other player on the Jets’ board, per Mehta. While the precise order here is not known, Mehta reports Darnold was the Jets’ top-rated passing prospect — one the team did not think would get past the Browns at No. 1 until very late in the process.

The Jets weren’t certain the Giants would pass on Darnold, either, but were aware of Dave Gettleman‘s interest in Barkley. One source informed Miller that Gettleman, indeed, did not pick up the phone regarding trade interest in the No. 2 overall pick. While Gettleman himself confirmed one team made a strong offer for No. 2, it’s unclear when on draft night that proposal emerged. Wowed by none of these QBs, the Giants did not have a consensus on which of these players was the best prospect.

While the Cardinals wound up with Josh Rosen, Miller reports Josh Allen was their top-rated quarterback. The team that actually drafted Allen, the Bills, had the Wyoming talent rated as this class’ No. 2 passer, Miller reports. Buffalo was one of the teams that viewed Darnold as this draft’s top QB.

No reports of Allen visiting the Cardinals emerged until he confirmed just before the draft he took a trip to Arizona. Miller notes the Cards may have tried to trade up for Allen prior to landing Rosen. Additionally, the Twitter controversy did not appear to affect Allen’s stock. Miller adds no sources indicated that played a role in their teams’ respective assessments of Allen.

Extra Points: Browns, Ryan, 49ers, Texans

As we heard Sunday, Browns VP of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith indicated Sam Darnold was his preferred quarterback until late in the draft process. Baker Mayfield then became the consensus choice. However, the first-year Browns exec had one interesting reason for being less interested in Josh Rosen, whom the Browns worked out at UCLA and hosted on a visit.

I was at an airport. UCLA’s volleyball team was in front of me. You heard so much about Rosen. He’s this or that,” Highsmith said, via cleveland.com. “We all know how people talk. So I asked one of the volleyball coaches, ‘What’s Rosen like?’ He said, ‘Aaaaa, you should probably ask his girlfriend. She’s one of the players. She’s over there. I’m like, ‘All right, coach. That’s good enough.’

I don’t know what all this means, but there was something about him that bothered me.”

The Browns were not connected closely to Rosen, the least mobile of this year’s top QB contingent but also the player who could well be the readiest to start in Week 1, and they preferred a more mobile passer. But this candor is rather interesting and may not age well if Rosen has a strong rookie year for the Cardinals. It’s not the first time a key Browns exec’s made a comment on a quarterback they bypassed.

As for Allen, Highsmith wasn’t interested in hearing excuses for why the Wyoming player couldn’t complete 57 percent of his passes in either of his two years as a starter.

Josh Allen … big arm … he could throw the ball from here to the moon,” Highsmith said. “When they have to make excuses … why are they not completing passes? That’s a problem. Baker Mayfield lost two receivers (from the 2016 team) and he was the same quarterback.”

  • In addition to Matt Ryan‘s five-year, $150MM Falcons extension being a per-year record, it contains the most Year 1 money in NFL history. The 11th-year quarterback will take home $52.5MM in 2018, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports. However, Matthew Stafford still holds the signing bonus record. Ryan will see a $46.5MM bonus, per Graziano. That’s just shy of Stafford’s record $50MM signing bonus agreed to last year.
  • Elvis Dumervil is currently without a team after the 49ers did not pick up his option. The 49ers did not draft an edge defender this year, and John Lynch indicated Dumervil — his teammate for two seasons with the Broncos — could be brought back and may not need a full offseason in what would be his 13th year. “Yeah, I think it could be,” Lynch said (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle) of a possible reunion with the 34-year-old pass rusher. “I’m sure a lot of (teams) are looking at it as such. Elvis isn’t a guy who at this stage of his career really needs to be around in an offseason. He’s a professional. He takes tremendous pride in how he trains, how he eats and all those things. So he’ll be ready.” Lynch mentioned the 49ers plan to evaluate some younger players for pass-rushing roles, though, so it could be a while before a possible reunion commences. Dumervil made $4.5MM with San Francisco last season and registered a team-high 6.5 sacks.
  • The Texans are moving second-year cornerback Treston Decoud to safety, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets. A 2017 fifth-round pick, Decoud played in 10 games for the Texans as a rookie. Decoud played cornerback in both of his seasons at Oregon State. He’s the younger brother of former longtime Falcons safety Thomas Decoud. Houston signed Tyrann Mathieu in free agency and drafted Justin Reid with its first 2018 pick, a third-rounder, so Treston Decoud could stay a depth piece at his new position.
  • Houston’s revamp of its scouting department will see the franchise hire nine-year Patriots staffer James Liipfert as the new director of college scouting, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Liipfert will succeed Jon Carr in this role. Having been with the Patriots during each year Bill O’Brien was, Liipfert served the past three seasons with the Patriots as a national scout after previously being an area scout.

Giants Did Not Have Consensus On Draft’s Top QB

The Giants were enamored with Saquon Barkley to the point they didn’t waste much time turning in their card. And the team is now prepared to enter the season without a surefire heir apparent behind Eli Manning.

It turns out, Big Blue’s brass didn’t appear to have a consensus among which of the quarterbacks they would take, with Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reporting different sects of the Giants’ decision-makers preferred three separate signal-callers. And they didn’t feel strongly enough about one of them to pull the trigger at No. 2.

Mostly, the Giants were down to Sam Darnold or Josh Allen, with some Josh Rosen support in the building as well. Schwartz reports there wasn’t much love for Baker Mayfield among the new-look Giants power structure.

If it were up to Pat Shurmur, Allen would have been the quarterback pick — had the franchise been leaning in that direction. Upside drew Shurmur to Allen. However, the Giants would have selected Bradley Chubb if Barkley wasn’t available, per Schwartz.

The Giants placed the same grade on Barkley and Chubb, but the Penn State running back was listed atop Chubb’s name on Big Blue’s board. They proceeded accordingly, and are “ecstatic,” Schwartz writes.

Additionally, Schwartz lists second-round pick Will Hernandez as a near-surefire starter at guard. Hernandez caught the Giants’ eye at the Senior Bowl, and one staffer told Schwartz the the team’s consensus was the UTEP lineman’s Combine performance would not have him available by the time New York’s second-round window opened. The Giants signed Patrick Omameh in free agency and still have returning starter John Jerry on the roster. And Schwartz adds that Lorenzo Carter could well get a strong push to start ahead of free agency addition Kareem Martin, the latter’s knowledge of James Bettcher’s system notwithstanding.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: J. Allen, Dez, Jets, Pats

Former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, whom the Bills selected with the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s draft, is believed by many to have the highest upside of any rookie QB in the 2018 class. However, he is also considered quite raw, and given that Buffalo acquired A.J. McCarron — who does not have much NFL game experience, but who has at least been in the league for a few years — this offseason, the general belief is that Allen will be McCarron’s backup before he gets a chance to establish himself.

But Buffalo GM Brandon Beane is not willing to relegate Allen to the No. 2 job just yet. Beane said (via Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, citing NewYorkUpstate.com), “We’re not going to rush him, but you know if he somehow wins the job, he wins it…There will be 52 other players out there and if they see that he’s clearly the best, I don’t think we could [not start him]. We wouldn’t do that at any other position, so we’ll let it go. But he’s got a lot of catching up to do, that’s the thing.”

Now for more AFC East items, starting with another note out of Buffalo:

  • The Bills could use another quality wideout behind starters Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones. They added two receivers with their last two picks of the draft (Ray-Ray McCloud with the No. 187 pick and Austin Proehl with the No. 255 pick), but neither player figures to make an immediate impact. However, the team is not interested in free agent Dez Bryant. Beane said, per Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com, “We have looked at Dez on tape, but I wouldn’t take it any further and I don’t know where that would go. We’re looking to get better at all positions and receiver is one, so if we thought that was the right fit for us we would potentially pursue it.”
  • The Jets currently have five QBs on the roster, and teams have been in contact with Gang Green about the possibility of trading for one of those five signal-callers, Bryce Petty. Per Calvin Watkins of Newsday.com (via Twitter), GM Mike Maccagnan essentially confirmed as much, and while he did not mention any names, he sounded hopeful that he could find trading partners for all of his QB surplus (which also includes Christian Hackenberg). When asked if he will need to cut a quarterback, Maccagnan said, “We’ll see how that unfolds going forward. There’s always conversations you have with teams and we’ll see how that unfolds in [a] little bit of time.”
  • There are plenty of mixed feelings on the Patriots‘ 2018 draft class, but as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes, the team has a bevy of early picks in the 2019 draft (six selections in the first three rounds). While some have wondered why New England did not draft a signal-caller who could be the heir apparent to Tom Brady, Reiss says the Pats were very aggressive in scouting this year’s crop of QBs but ultimately felt the starting-caliber options did not fall far enough to pursue and did not want to overdraft a backup-type. Reiss, though, believes New England could use their 2019 draft haul to land its QB of the future.

Latest On Josh Allen

While it’s not quite blowing up like the Laremy Tunsil bong incident two years ago, the draft status of Josh Allen has become a key storyline in light of the unearthing of controversial tweets from the quarterback’s high school days.

Some league insiders believe this discovery will be a factor regarding Allen’s introduction to NFL life, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. As for where the Wyoming-honed passer lands, a source informed Florio that if Allen tumbles past the Nos. 5-6 territory, then the passer and CAA (his representation) should start getting nervous.

Allen’s attempted to get in front of this story Thursday, indicating he thought he’d gone through his Twitter account last year. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported this account was vetted in January.

I had even typed in keywords to see if anything I had tweeted popped up that I needed to clean up, but nothing like these came up or I just missed them,” Allen said, via Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com. “My agency went over any past social media, and these didn’t come up after I did the search.”

While this is not exactly the same situation that Riley Cooper found himself in years ago, with Allen being in high school when these tweets containing racially insensitive language were sent, it’s become a key component on a big day in the 6-foot-5 quarterback’s life.

If I could go back in time, I would never have done this in a heartbeat,” Allen said. “At the time, I obviously didn’t know how harmful it was and now has become. I hope you know and others know I’m not the type of person I was at 14 and 15 that I tweeted so recklessly. … I don’t want that to be the impression of who I am because that is not me. I apologize for what I did.”

Allen said some of these tweets could have been sent by friends, with the Firebaugh, Calif., native telling Mortensen he and his friends occasionally took each other’s phones and sent tweets. One NFL team said with a top-five pick told Schefter its brass didn’t know about the tweets and had heard “nothing but positives” on Allen, who said no teams have reached out to him about them. However, a report earlier today indicated Allen and his camp had contacted teams with high draft picks about this controversy.

That’s my plan — to show the type of person I am now,” Allen said, via Mortensen. “Whatever team picks me, they are going to get that from me. I will set the record straight for any team, any teammate, the media, and I think once they meet me and they’re around me, see how I act and how I think, that it’s not going to be a problem at all.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Coaches Making Push For Josh Allen

Jets coaches are making a late push for the team to draft quarterback Josh Allen, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) hears. Thus far, there hasn’t been a lot of talk connecting the Jets to the Wyoming product, so this would represent a change of thinking in Jets headquarters.

Sitting at No. 3, the Jets have been preparing themselves for a decision between Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen. However, growing buzz about the Browns selecting Mayfield at No. 1 has thrown a wrench in those plans. If Mayfield is off the board, the Jets will have the once unexpected opportunity to select Sam Darnold at No. 3, but it sounds like Jets coaches may prefer the arm strength of Allen.

The Jets were believed to be the team that did the most work on Allen last season, being the only team to trek to Laramie, Wyo., to work out the 6-foot-5 quarterback. But as of late, they’ve been linked most to Mayfield and Rosen. Reported concerns about Allen’s accuracy issues have attached themselves to the Wyoming-honed passer, but with Mayfield possibly set to finish off a major pre-draft rise, Allen going to the Jets at No. 3 wouldn’t qualify as an earth-shattering surprise.

This comes after some tweets from Allen’s high school days paint the passer in a bad light, but it doesn’t sound like some of the teams with QB needs are going to hold that against him.

Darnold has long been a Jets target, but the organization apparently did not believe the USC passer would fall to No. 3. The signals that such a drop could occur caused the Jets to schedule more face-to-face time with Darnold, so him being there and the team still going with Allen would be a notable event.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Who Will Browns Take At No. 1 Overall?

In one of the wilder lead-ups to a draft in many years, the Browns have been connected to several players with their No. 1 overall pick. The quarterback-desperate franchise is almost certain to announce its expected Tyrod Taylor successor tonight, but the buildup to that moment has been a process featuring many twists and turns.

Having bypassed Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson the past two years, the Browns have now been linked to three quarterbacks at No. 1. The latest could be one of the most unique first-overall picks in memory.

The Browns are now strongly connected to Baker Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy winner and a player who did not appear in the top half of the first round of Todd McShay’s first offseason mock draft. But John Dorsey brought on former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan as a consultant before the draft, and the longtime scouting guru has been an outspoken proponent of the polarizing Oklahoma-developed quarterback. The news the Browns will take Mayfield at No. 1 emerged this week, and that rumor is rapidly gaining steam.

However, the Browns’ previous debate was believed to be a two-horse race between Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. Dorsey has a history of selecting big-armed passers or being affiliated with organizations which have done so, most recently pulling the trigger on Patrick Mahomes in his final draft as Chiefs GM. Viewed as a high-ceiling, low-floor prospect, Allen would represent that kind of bold choice. A report earlier this week indicated Cleveland was down to the Wyoming prodigy or the fast-rising Mayfield.

Darnold has gone from a player viewed as arguably the best combination of production and upside to one that may fall out of the top two and be there for the Jets at No. 3. The Jets scheduled a Darnold visit once they began to sense the USC product falling to them was a legitimate possibility.

The Browns have also been linked to Saquon Barkley at No. 1. While Barkley is viewed as the top running back and possibly the No. 1 overall player in this prospect pool, it’s hard to believe the Browns would again bypass their chance at landing a possible franchise quarterback.

They have not been closely tied to Josh Rosen during this pre-draft stretch, and the latest on a trade-down occurrence is that line of thinking could transpire with the Browns’ No. 4 pick rather than their No. 1 choice.

So, which passer will be bound for northeast Ohio? Is the Mayfield surge legitimate or a massive smokescreen operation? Does Allen’s upside, the unearthing of several tweets from his high school days notwithstanding, warrant this kind of an investment? Or should the Browns take the player they’ve been most connected to in Darnold with the top pick? How about a trade-down scenario? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Allen, Cardinals, Broncos

Josh Allen‘s camp has been doing damage control on Thursday morning, and it seems to be working thus far. Allen and his representatives have been on the phone with possible destination teams today, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link) these old tweets being unearthed is not believed to be an occurrence that will cause his stock to tumble. Allen has told teams these tweets were either references to a Rick Ross song or to movies and TV shows, with Rapoport adding some were tweets to friends. Teams are hesitant to judge the Wyoming- and central California-developed quarterback based on tweets from high school, per Rapoport (on Twitter).

Here’s the latest from the draft:

  • Maybe a team representing Allen’s floor, the Cardinals are considering moving up for the right price, Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com tweets. This is the latest out of Arizona, which has been linked to trade-up rumors this week. The Cardinals are in need of a long-term quarterback answer, and it’s possible none of the top four will be there when their No. 15 window opens.
  • The Browns taking Baker Mayfield at No. 1 would be a surprise and could change the Broncos‘ draft outlook. Of the big four, Mayfield and Sam Darnold are the only ones the Broncos take if they’re still on the board at No. 5, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. If Mayfield does go to the Browns, Darnold would be a consideration for the Giants — if they stick at No. 2 — and the Jets’ interest in the USC passer hasn’t been much of a secret. And it’s possible the Bills could move up to the No. 4 spot as well, so the Broncos could be set to go with a non-QB at No. 5 or trade back with a quarterback-seeking team.
  • While this offseason produced little to indicate the Browns would go with Mayfield, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein tweets we are hours away from that scenario unfolding. Zierlein tweets Mayfield-to-Cleveland “is happening.” He adds the Giants don’t love any of these quarterbacks, perhaps explaining the massive Saquon Barkley-to-New York buzz. Big Blue has now been connected to a trade-down scenario when it did not look like that would be the case for weeks now.
  • Derrius Guice indicated a team asked inappropriate questions to him at the Combine, but on Thursday, an investigation concluded that no proof of this emerged, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The questions ranged from if the running back prospect liked men or whether or not his mother was a prostitute. “The investigation did not confirm that any club made the reported inquiries,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. The LSU product is considered a late-first-round prospect.