PFR Polls

Poll: Who Will Win NFL MVP Award?

Through 11 weeks, this NFL season has not produced an MVP favorite. Oddsmakers have slotted a number of usual suspects as frontrunners, but the stretch run will be important to generating a lead candidate.

No non-quarterback has won this award since Adrian Peterson‘s 2,097-yard rushing season edged Peyton Manning‘s Broncos debut in 2012, though J.J. Watt did finish second in voting in 2014. A quarterback will be expected to claim the honors this season, but that player has not declared himself just yet.

Two of the favorites faced off Monday night, with Jalen Hurts‘ Eagles besting the Chiefs in a Super Bowl LVII rematch. The Chiefs stifled Hurts for much of Philadelphia’s 21-17 win, but the dual-threat passer came through late. He is also the quarterback on the NFL’s only one-loss team. Hurts would have represented a strong MVP challenger to Patrick Mahomes last year, but a late-season shoulder injury led to the Chiefs superstar pulling away. QBR ranks the Super Bowl LVII QBs fifth and sixth, respectively, with Mahomes slipping to No. 5 after Kansas City’s loss.

After Hurts’ breakthrough 2022, the Eagles gave the fourth-year QB a then-record five-year, $255MM extension — one that set the market for Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow. Hurts has accounted for 24 touchdowns — nine on the ground, as he makes a case as the most unstoppable short-yardage QB rusher in NFL history — and has upped his completion percentage (68.5) from 2022.

Mahomes responded to the Tyreek Hill trade by notching the first MVP-Super Bowl MVP since Kurt Warner in 1999, and the Chiefs updated his contract to fall in line with the market Hurts helped set. Kansas City, however, has seen its oft-questioned wide receiver setup play a big role in both its home losses this year. Mahomes ranks 20th in yards per attempt, at 6.9; he cleared eight in each of his two MVP campaigns. With Travis Kelce in his age-34 season, will the seventh-year QB be able to overcome a suspect receiver setup?

Brock Purdy is leading the NFL (by a wide margin, at 9.7) in yards per attempt. After a midseason slump, Purdy has put together two strong games. He accomplished the 49ers’ first perfect passer rating in a game since 1989. Last year’s Mr. Irrelevant has been a revelation for the 49ers, who have his seventh-round contract on the books through 2025. Purdy also leads the league in QBR, providing an efficient season while blessed with an elite skill-position corps. Although this skill group could end up working against Purdy, he would become the most unlikely MVP since Warner.

No. 2 in QBR, Dak Prescott has put together a strong stretch since the Cowboys endured a blowout loss in San Francisco. After four straight one-touchdown showings, the eighth-year Cowboys starter has 13 TD tosses over his past four games. At this pace, the 30-year-old passer will be in position for another monster contract. With the franchise tag off the table and a $59MM cap hit awaiting in his 2024 contract year, Prescott is in one of the most player-friendly extension positions in league history.

Jackson sits ninth in QBR but has the Ravens perched as the AFC’s top seed for the time being. Given a $52MM-per-year deal that differed from his peers’ 2023 re-ups — in that it contains no extra years of control due to it coming after a Ravens franchise tag — Jackson is still operating a run-oriented offense. His 12 touchdown passes rank 16th, though his yards per attempt (8.1) and completion rate (69.5) figures are in the top six. Among this year’s contenders, Jackson joins Mahomes as the only former MVPs.

No rookie has claimed this award since Jim Brown in 1957, but this particular season does keep the door slightly ajar for C.J. Stroud. Almost no one expected the Texans to be in the playoff race, and the team sweeping the Jaguars would move an AFC South title closer to reality. Stroud has run away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year race, doing so despite numerous O-line injuries. The No. 2 overall pick’s 2,962 passing yards sit second, but QBR places the Ohio State product 12th. Stroud’s three-INT game against the Cardinals hurt his cause, but the Houston rookie still has some time to make a historic push.

While Jared Goff (seventh in QBR) was once the throw-in in a trade that keyed a Matthew Stafford-led Rams Super Bowl charge, the Lions are 8-2 for the first time in 61 years. Detroit is 1-2 against teams with winning records, but a favorable schedule down the stretch stands to allow Goff — in Year 2 with OC Ben Johnson running the show — to make a case. The Lions ending up with home-field advantage in the NFC would obviously strengthen the former No. 1 overall pick’s cause. Regardless, the 29-year-old QB has moved into position for a lucrative Lions extension.

How the AFC East plays out stands to produce a contender. Although Josh Allen‘s turnover issues helped lead the Bills to fire OC Ken Dorsey, the sixth-year superstar leads the NFL with 22 TD passes (while pacing the league with 12 picks) while adding seven more scores on the ground. Tua Tagovailoa ranks just 10th in QBR — six spots behind Allen — and the Dolphins have fallen short in matchups against the Bills, Chiefs and Eagles. That said, the Bills have five losses to the Dolphins’ three. Miami first-place scoring ranking will obviously benefit its ascending passer, though Tua could conceivably split votes with Hill.

No wide receiver has ever won MVP acclaim, and Hill’s off-field history will not help his case. But his impact on the Dolphins has been undeniable. The former Chiefs speed merchant has changed Tagovailoa’s career trajectory, and the eighth-year wideout leads the NFL with 1,222 receiving yards — in front by 209 — despite the Dolphins already resting during a bye week. While Jerry Rice and Calvin Johnson could not parlay their receiving yardage records into MVP honors — respectively losing out to Emmitt Smith (1995) and Peterson (2012) — this QB pace persisting would stand to keep Hill going. Christian McCaffrey also makes sense as a candidate. His midseason 2022 arrival catalyzed the 49ers, and despite missing a game, the ex-Panthers extension recipient leads the NFL with 825 rushing yards. No other RB has posted more than 700, and this would obviously be an interesting year to see a running back emerge as a true MVP candidate.

Could this be the year a defender sneaks through? Only Alan Page and Lawrence Taylor have done so, but with no QB residing as a clear frontrunner, is a door ajar for Myles Garrett or T.J. Watt powering offensively limited teams? Is there an off-grid player who shapes up as a late-season threat? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on the race in the comments section.

Poll: Who Will Win AFC North?

Divisions have produced four playoff teams previously. The 1994 NFC Central sent every team but the Buccaneers to the postseason, while the 1998 AFC East moved every team but the Colts — in Peyton Manning‘s rookie season — into that year’s playoff field. (The NFC Central also accomplished this in 1982, but eight teams made each conference’s field due to the strike-induced format change.) The NFL realigning its divisions, killing the five-team divisional setup, in 2002 made it impossible for four teams in one quartet to venture to the playoffs. The 2020 expansion to a 14-team postseason field, however, reopened that door.

Entering Week 10, the AFC’s seven-team “if the season ended today” field would consist of the division-leading Chiefs, Jaguars and Dolphins, along with the fourth North-division clubs. No other division features more than two teams with winning records; the AFC North carries four. This is shaping up to be one of the most interesting divisional stretch runs in modern NFL history.

The Ravens lead the way at 7-2 and hold a runaway DVOA lead on the rest of the NFL. Baltimore’s defense leads the league in points allowed and paces the NFL in sacks — by four — with 35. The Ravens’ summer additions of Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy have paid dividends. Clowney’s 11 QB hits trail only Justin Madubuike‘s 14, while Van Noy now has at least five sacks in six of the past seven seasons. The veteran linebacker has managed to get there despite being signed in late September. Van Noy, 32, is on a one-year, $1.6MM deal; Clowney, 30, signed for one year and $2.5MM. The team’s $20MM-per-year Roquan Smith extension is paying off early; Pro Football Focus ranks the ex-Bears top-10 pick fourth among off-ball linebackers.

QBR slots Lamar Jackson 11th, and the Ravens remain a run-oriented team. Though, Jackson is operating efficiently in Todd Monken‘s offense. The team’s remaining schedule resides as the NFL’s second-toughest — in part because of the AFC North games remaining — though the squad with the hardest slate remaining may be the Ravens’ top competitor for this hotly contested crown.

Joe Burrow‘s return to full strength has reinvigorated the Bengals, who made the fourth-year passer the NFL’s highest-paid player. After the Ravens and Chargers incrementally moved the AAV bar following the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts extension, the Bengals slid it to $55MM for Burrow. The superstar passer is back in form, leading Cincinnati to four straight wins. The Bengals (5-3) have now downed the 49ers and Bills on the road, but Tankathon slots their remaining schedule as by far the most difficult. Trips to Kansas City and Jacksonville remain, but the two-time reigning AFC North champs are surging at midseason, aiming to turn another 0-2 start into a playoff home game.

Moving forward without Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell, the Bengals have not seen their safety setup match Bates’ Falcons work. Then again, the team was not exactly expecting that, given Bates’ talent and $16MM-per-year price tag. Cincinnati keeping its linebacker tandem (Logan WilsonGermaine Pratt) together has provided considerable help, though the team continues to run into injury trouble on offense. The Bengals faced the Ravens during Burrow’s early-season health issue, losing at home and raising the stakes for the sides’ Thursday-night tilt in Week 11.

The most notable improvement by an AFC North unit comes in Cleveland, where the Jim Schwartz DC hire is looking like one of the best assistant additions in recent memory. The Browns have gone from a miscommunication-plagued defense to one that is producing dominant efforts. The Browns held the Cardinals to 57 total yards, the team’s fewest since 1955, and has seen Myles Garrett (9.5 sacks) become a Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner (and surefire candidate for a market-setting second extension). Offseason adds Za’Darius Smith and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo have boosted the Browns as well, and Cleveland’s elite pass defense led to the 5-3 mark amid the Deshaun Watson shoulder saga.

The highly paid quarterback returned in Week 9 but has still not closely resembled his Houston version, with the off-field issues that produced a historic hiatus still impacting the former Pro Bowler’s trajectory. As the Browns’ defense leads the NFL in DVOA, its offense ranks 28th. Watson’s rotator cuff issue will be a key divisional subplot, and the team seeing both tackles join Nick Chubb on IR will make matters tougher. But Cleveland’s defense is providing a strong safety net thus far.

Also 5-3, the Steelers rank 14th in DVOA. Punching-bag OC Matt Canada continues to draw heat, with Pittsburgh’s defense also carrying an inconsistent offense. The Steelers have notched home wins over the Browns and Ravens — even as their streak without 400 total yards has reached 56 games. Kenny Pickett sits 27th in QBR, but the team has been without Pat Freiermuth and Diontae Johnson for chunks of the season. That has not stopped calls for Canada’s ouster, as the 2022 first-round QB’s work down the stretch will help determine how the Steelers see the Pitt product in the long term.

T.J. Watt has stayed healthy this season, and the Watt-Alex Highsmith duo remains one of the NFL’s best. The now-well-paid pair, with Highsmith signed to a $17MM-AAV extension, has combined for 14 sacks and 31 QB hits. PFF does rate 33-year-old Patrick Peterson and holdover Levi Wallace outside the top 90 among cornerbacks, with Joey Porter Jr. sitting 25th despite not starting for the season’s first six games. Cole Holcomb‘s season-ending injury, and Minkah Fitzpatrick‘s hamstring trouble stand to be issues to monitor for this defense, however.

Who will end up winning this captivating race? The Bengals and Steelers still have four divisional games left, the Browns and Ravens three. How many playoff teams will this division produce? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Poll: Who Fared Best At Trade Deadline

A week removed from this year’s trade deadline, every team will soon have its acquired talent in uniform. The 49ers, Lions and Jaguars made trades while in bye weeks; Chase Young, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Ezra Cleveland will suit up for their new teams soon.

On this note, it is time to gauge the position every notable buyer and seller landed in following the deals. This year’s deadline featured two second-round picks being moved, though the teams that made those moves (Chicago, Seattle) have different timelines in place.

We have to start with the Commanders, who scrapped their yearslong Young-Montez Sweat partnership by making the surprise decision to move both defensive ends hours before the deadline. Although the team was listening to offers on both, it was widely assumed they would only part with one, thus saving a contract offer or a 2024 franchise tag for the other alongside well-paid D-tackles Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. New owner Josh Harris looks to have made his bigger-picture plan clear, however, pressing upon the Commanders’ football-ops department to explore moving both.

Washington collected a second-rounder that likely will land in the 30s in exchange for Sweat, who was in a contract year at the time. It only obtained a compensatory third for Young, who drew interest from other teams (including the Ravens). For the first time in the common draft era, Washington holds five picks in the first three rounds. It cannot be assumed Ron Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew will be making those picks, but Harris has effectively forced his hot-seat staffers to make do this season without Young and Sweat, who have combined for 11.5 sacks this year.

The initial team to pounce on the Commanders’ sale made a buyer’s move despite being in a seller’s position for the second straight year. After trading what became the No. 32 overall pick for Chase Claypool, GM Ryan Poles signed off on the Sweat pickup. The Bears have struggled to rush the passer under Matt Eberflus, having traded Khalil Mack in March 2022 and Robert Quinn last October. While acquiring a veteran in a contract year injects risk into the equation, Poles had the franchise tag at his disposal. But the Bears made good use of their newfound negotiating rights with Sweat, extending him on a four-year, $98MM pact. Despite no Pro Bowls or double-digit sack seasons, Sweat is now the NFL’s fifth-highest-paid edge rusher. Though, the Bears’ long-term edge outlook appears rosier compared to its pre-Halloween view.

Mayhew, Robert Saleh and Mike McDaniel have provided third-round compensatory picks for the 49ers, who have been the NFL’s chief beneficiary of the Rooney Rule tweak that awards third-round picks to teams who see minority coaches or execs become HCs or GMs. The team has more picks coming after the Ran Carthon and DeMeco Ryans hires. Using one to acquire Young seems like a low-risk move, given the former Defensive Rookie of the Year’s talent. Young has made strides toward recapturing the form he showed before his severe 2021 knee injury, and he is on pace for a career high in sacks.

The 49ers, who won last year’s trade deadline by landing Christian McCaffrey, will deploy Young alongside ex-college teammate Nick Bosa and the rest of their high-priced D-line contingent. The team will have a decision to make on Young soon; the free agent-to-be is not eyeing in-season extension talks, either. San Francisco could at least be in position to nab a midround compensatory pick, should Young leave in 2024.

The Young move came a day after the Seahawks obtained Leonard Williams from the Giants. That move cost Seattle second- and fifth-round picks. Williams is also in a contract year, but with the Giants picking up most of the tab, Seattle has the veteran D-tackle on its cap sheet at $647K. The former Jets top-10 pick has shown consistent ability to provide inside pressure, and the USC alum’s best work came in his previous contract year (2020). Gunning for another big payday, Williams joins Dre’Mont Jones in what is probably the best interior D-line duo of the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll era.

Seattle still surrendered a second-round pick for a player who could be a rental. Williams cannot realistically be franchise-tagged in 2024, with the Giants tagging him in 2020 and ’21, and he is not yet on Seattle’s extension radar. The Giants have already paid Dexter Lawrence and were planning on letting Williams walk. They passed on a comp pick for the trade haul, effectively buying a second-round pick in the way the Broncos did in the 2021 Von Miller trade. The Giants, who suddenly could be in the market for a 2024 QB addition, now have an additional second-rounder at their disposal.

While they made their move a week before the deadline, the Eagles landed the most accomplished player of this year’s in-season trade crop. Kevin Byard is a two-time first-team All-Pro safety, and although he is in his age-30 season, the former third-round pick is signed through 2024. The Eagles sent the Titans fifth- and sixth-round picks (and Terrell Edmunds) for Byard, a Philadelphia native, marking the team’s second splash trade for a safety in two years. Philly’s C.J. Gardner-Johnson swap turned out well, and Byard not being a pure rental could make this a better move.

Rather than turning to a fifth-round rookie, the Vikings acquired Josh Dobbs in a pick swap involving sixth- and/or seventh-rounders and saw the move translate to a surprising Week 9 win. Dobbs following in Baker Mayfield‘s footsteps as a trade acquisition-turned-immediate starter also made him the rare QB to see extensive action for two teams in two weeks; Mayfield was inactive in his final game as a Panther. The well-traveled Dobbs could give the Vikings a better chance to stay afloat in the NFC playoff race.

The Lions (Peoples-Jones), Jaguars (Cleveland) and Bills (Rasul Douglas) also made buyer’s moves at the deadline. The Bills gave the Packers a third-round pick, collecting a fifth in the pick-swap deal, for Douglas. They will hope the Green Bay starter can help stabilize their cornerback corps after Tre’Davious White‘s second major injury.

Who ended up faring the best at this year’s deadline? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this year’s moves in the comments section.

Poll: Which Jets QB Will End Season With Most Starts?

Aaron Rodgers‘ Achilles tear four plays into his Jets tenure doubles as one of the most crushing injuries a team has sustained in many years. The Jets have gone from a team with Super Bowl aspirations to one trapped in the kind of situation that caused the all-out Rodgers push.

The team has turned back to Zach Wilson, the former No. 2 overall pick who was twice benched last season. Robert Saleh has encountered some scrutiny for his unwavering support of the 2021 draftee, but after the Jets did not make a strong effort to acquire a veteran backup behind Rodgers, they are sticking with the struggling BYU alum.

Wilson, 24, has made 24 career starts. He sports a career 54.9% completion rate and ranked in the bottom five in Total QBR in each of his first two seasons. Through three games this year, Wilson is ahead of only Justin Fields — the same placement the 2021 season brought. Wilson’s status created issues in the Jets’ locker room last year, leading to Mike White‘s promotion. While buzz about White staying briefly circulated this offseason, the Jets instead parked Wilson — rumored to be on the outs late last season — behind Rodgers. That has thus far proven to be a mistake, one that certainly could threaten the jobs of Saleh and GM Joe Douglas.

The Jets have been connected to a few outside options, attempting to add Colt McCoy and ex-Nathaniel Hackett charge Chad Henne. They also looked into poaching fellow ex-Hackett pupil Brett Rypien off the Rams’ practice squad, but Los Angeles promoted the ex-Broncos backup instead. Two years after the Jets took heat for not backstopping Wilson — a plan former OC Mike LaFleur called a mistake — the team has not attempted to chase a veteran who would unseat him.

Citing the Jets’ $276MM in cash spent — a number that trails only the Ravens and Browns — a Thursday report indicated a top-down Jets directive has led the team to prefer to have a QB rise through the practice squad route. This, and the team’s desire to avoid a Wilson QB controversy, has led to the current depth chart forming. As such, Trevor Siemian represents the top option to take over if Wilson continues to struggle. Although the recently added arm has not been a regular starter since 2017, the ex-Peyton Manning Denver successor has made 30 career starts.

Siemian, 31, is 0-6 over his past six starts. Prior to losing four games leading a depleted Saints roster, Siemian did pilot the Saints past the then-defending champion Buccaneers in his first appearance with the team. Siemian also started a Jets Week 2 game in 2019, a contest that featured the then-Sam Darnold backup going down with a season-ending ankle injury. But the seven-team journeyman is back in town. Although he is not coming off the practice squad this week, an elevation figures to take place soon after.

Current backup Tim Boyle has thrown 106 career passes, residing as a Rodgers and Jared Goff backup during his career. Boyle’s most notable work came when he started three games for an injured Goff in 2021. A rebuilding Lions team lost all three of those games. Boyle, who played at UConn and Eastern Kentucky, served as Rodgers’ top backup at points in Green Bay. The Jordan Love pick changed his standing with the organization.

The Jets cannot trade their first- or second-round picks, with those selections in escrow since they are part of the Rodgers trade package. But will the Jets attempt to use a mid-round choice to trade for a better option? The team still boasts an upper-echelon defense that is again tied to a bottom-tier QB situation. Teams will not be eager to unload a proven backup, but decent draft compensation could change that equation. The Texans’ backups have generated trade interest, and either Case Keenum or Davis Mills could potentially be pried away. Would they move the needle much for the Jets?

Douglas was in place when the Eagles traded up for Wentz in 2016, and the fifth-year Jets GM was present when the former No. 2 overall pick soared to the MVP favorite before an ACL tear ended his 2017 season. Wentz’s stock has tanked since that outlier year, but he is just 30 and would be an upgrade on Wilson. Matt Ryan is 38 is coming off a dreadful Colts season. While Ryan indicated he is happy at CBS, both free agents are believed to have reached out to the Jets. Although Colin Kaepernick wrote Douglas a letter campaigning for a P-squad opportunity, the Jets are not interested in a player out of the league for the past seven seasons.

Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill loom as longshots that have not come up in legitimate trade rumors, but both are on expiring contracts — albeit pricey expiring deals — and playing for teams with sub-.500 records. The Titans, who drafted Will Levis in Round 2, would likely need to eat some of Tannehill’s money. The 12th-year veteran is on a $27MM base salary; the Jets hold barely $8MM in cap space. Cousins carries a no-trade clause. Both 35-year-old passers have void years at the end of their contracts, with the Vikings starter’s void number checking in at a whopping $28.5MM for 2024.

Will the Jets aim higher via Wentz or a trade? Or will Siemian represent Wilson’s top competition for the rest of the season? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this situation in the comments section.

Poll: Who Will Win AFC East?

Offseason additions will make the AFC East perhaps the league’s most captivating divisional race. The Bills have won this division three years running, recovering from a 17-year playoff drought by advancing to five postseasons in six years of the Sean McDermottBrandon Beane era. But the Jets and Dolphins took big swings to narrow the gap. And the Patriots present an annually high floor, having the most accomplished HC (by a rather wide margin) in the division.

Buffalo did not exactly stand pat this offseason, prioritizing a first-round trade-up for Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid. This year’s top tight end draftee is expected to play a regular role as a slot performer for the Bills, who will have Stefon Diggs (assuming he is on the same page with the organization), Gabe Davis and Dawson Knox back. Buffalo also beefed up its offensive line, signing Connor McGovern — to give the division both Connor McGoverns — to go with second-round guard O’Cyrus Torrence. Signed to a low-cost deal, ex-Rams starter David Edwards also has extensive starting experience. The Bills also added former Patriots starter Damien Harris, he of 15 rushing touchdowns in 2021, to just a one-year deal worth $1.77MM.

Defensively, the Bills’ top addition came via the June Leonard Floyd signing. Buffalo guaranteed the ex-Von Miller Los Angeles teammate $7MM to both help the team while Miller recovers from his second ACL tear — if the future Hall of Famer needs regular-season recovery time like Tre’Davious White did last year — and provide a high-end complementary edge presence to help Miller and a young edge-rushing crew. Floyd has racked up 29 sacks over the past three seasons.

Last year’s second-place finishers took aim at the Bills by adding two major defensive pieces. Miami made Vic Fangio the league’s highest-paid defensive coordinator, hiring the ex-Denver HC for more than $4.5MM per year to work with Mike McDaniel. DVOA rated the Dolphins’ defense 15th last season; the team now has Jalen Ramsey in place opposite Xavien Howard. The Dolphins pried Ramsey from the suddenly cost-conscious Rams for only a third-round pick and tight end Hunter Long, though it took a contract adjustment as well. Ramsey earned first-team All-Pro honors in two of his three full seasons with the Rams.

The Dolphins let Mike Gesicki walk and have not made a notable tight end addition, and they re-signed their top three running backs from last season. In addition to re-upping Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, the Dolphins drafted Devon Achane in Round 3. They are also believed to be the clubhouse leaders to add Dalvin Cook as a hired gun of sorts. Cook is a Miami native who has mentioned the Dolphins as a “perfect fit.”

Most discussions of this division’s outlook will begin with the Jets’ top addition. It took far more than the Brett Favre trade required, but Gang Green landed Aaron Rodgers. It cost the team a first-round pick swap and a second-round choice this year, and the Packers will likely — barring injury — obtain the Jets’ 2024 first-rounder. But the upgrade the Jets will make in going from Zach Wilson to Rodgers is difficult to overstate. The four-time MVP attended the Jets’ OTA sessions, after skipping the Packers’ voluntary workouts in 2021 and ’22, and brought ex-Packers Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and tackle Billy Turner with him. The Jets are gambling that Nathaniel Hackett can shake off a woeful stay as the Broncos’ play-caller, and the team does have big questions at tackle, with both Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton coming off injuries.

Another ex-Packer, Adrian Amos, arrived in town to help the Jets cover for one of their other additions, Chuck Clark, tearing an ACL. First-round defensive end Will McDonald — believed to be, by most, an emergency option after the Steelers took Broderick Jones — also led off the Jets’ draft. Not many holes existed for Robert Saleh‘s vastly improved defense.

An assistant hire profiles as the Patriots’ top move. After a strange effort to give defensive coach Matt Patricia offensive play-calling duties predictably backfired, the Pats rehired Bill O’Brien as OC. The former Texans HC already has the offense headed in a better direction, and he is believed to be on the same page with free agent target DeAndre Hopkins despite pulling the trigger on the 2020 Houston-Arizona trade. The Pats also gave Mac Jones a weapon in J.J. Smith-Schuster, the Chiefs’ top 2022 wideout who will be tasked with replacing Jakobi Meyers.

The Patriots have failed to form a top-11 scoring defense exactly once in the past 15 years, and Bill Belichick‘s unit now has first- and second-round picks Christian Gonzalez and Keion White. The team re-signed Jonathan Jones and is prepared to move the secondary staple back inside, but a big question mark now looms with emerging boundary defender Jack Jones, who faces potential prison time for gun charges.

Have the Jets and Dolphins done enough to topple the Bills? Are the Patriots — a 2021 playoff team that took a big step back on offense under Patricia and Joe Judge — being slept on? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this division in the comments section.

Poll: Who Will Sign Dalvin Cook?

Indicating on multiple occasions he plans to take his time during his first go-round in free agency, Dalvin Cook is surveying the field. The six-year Vikings running back is believed to have attracted interest from a few teams, but the market has not produced many known suitors yet.

When determining a Cook destination, it is probably logical to start with the Dolphins. Cook is a Miami native who dropped a bit of a hint about his hopes after the Vikings released him. Mutual interest is believed to exist between these parties, and while the Dolphins are not planning to give Cook a contract on par with the $12.6MM-per-year deal he signed with the Vikes back in 2020, they are expected to make an offer.

Miami adding Cook would crowd its backfield, given the re-signings of ex-Mike McDaniel 49ers charges Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, along with Myles Gaskin (though, Gaskin’s deal contains no guarantees). The team also drafted Texas A&M’s Devon Achane in Round 3. Cook would fit in on a Dolphins team loading up around Tua Tagovailoa‘s rookie contract. Tyreek Hill‘s deal represents the only notable skill-position contract on Miami’s payroll, and Tagovailoa is due to count only $9.63MM against the team’s cap this season. Next year becomes trickier, with Tua’s fifth-year option bumping his cap number to $23.17MM.

Elsewhere in the AFC East, the Jets have not exactly made their desperation a secret. They have brought in three veteran skill cogs already, in Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman and Randall Cobb, to team with Aaron Rodgers. New York features a question at running back, with Breece Hall coming off ACL surgery. But the 2022 second-round pick is on track to be ready for Week 1. The Jets have Michael Carter, Zonovan Knight and fifth-round rookie Israel Abanikanda. The Bills appear less needy, having signed Damien Harris and Latavius Murray. But the team does roster Dalvin’s younger brother, James Cook, and is aiming to capitalize on a Super Bowl window that has been open for years.

Beyond the competitive AFC East, the Bengals loom as an interesting option. They are still planning to seek a Joe Mixon pay cut. A refusal by the six-year starter would deal a blow to a locked-and-loaded offense, but in the event the $12MM-per-year back balks, the Bengals would check Cook boxes of a contender with a clear need. That said, Mixon would not have many options were he to refuse a cut. It will be interesting to see how much of a reduction Cincy requests.

The Ravens have seen their J.K. DobbinsGus Edwards backfield plan thrown off course by injuries, and considering the aggressive moves to bolster a long-shaky receiver situation, would Baltimore consider a veteran back without major injury questions? Cook has said he is recovered from the February shoulder surgery he underwent. The Browns are likely to explore the addition of a Nick Chubb backup, though the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot notes the team is unlikely to chase a Cook- or Ezekiel Elliott-level back for this role.

The NFC East profiles as another division to watch here. Elliott remains in play to return to Dallas on a significant pay reduction; Cook would be an upgrade on the popular Cowboy. But how much money would the team be comfortable shelling out during an offseason in which it tagged Tony Pollard at $10.9MM? Washington has Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson rostered, but the team is looking into former Eric Bieniemy Chiefs charge Kareem Hunt. Cook may need to compromise on his interest in landing with a contender, given the uncertainty surrounding likely Commanders QB1 Sam Howell. But the team’s running back interest should be factored into this equation.

Last month, the Buccaneers were connected to the pursuit of a veteran to complement Rachaad White. Cook would be overqualified for such a role, and Tampa Bay’s post-Tom Brady contender status is in question. But the Bucs, their Chase Edmonds acquisition notwithstanding, profile as a team that could stand to add a backfield piece. The Broncos initially came out as a team monitoring the four-time 1,100-yard rusher, joining the Dolphins in this regard, but they have since been mentioned as a team expected to steer clear of this market.

Kirk Cousins mentioned a potential Vikings reunion — which would need to come at a significantly reduced rate — and Cook has spoken highly of Minnesota. Though, this does not seem likely. Is there another team that should be mentioned as a Cook destination? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this summer free agency storyline in the comments section.

Poll: Which Team Has Improved Most This Offseason?

Although several starter-caliber veterans remain unsigned, NFL teams have largely taken their big swings this offseason. Be it through free agency, the trade market or the draft, franchises have updated their rosters in hopes of improving in 2023.

Any conversation of 2023 improvement efforts probably needs to start with the Jets. Thanks to the Sacramento Kings’ playoff advancement, the Jets hold major North American sports’ longest postseason drought — at 12 years. After missing on a few rookie-contract QBs in the time since their last playoff run, the Jets now have Aaron Rodgers. The six nationally televised games on Gang Green’s docket illustrate Rodgers’ impact on the team’s perception, and although the four-time MVP will turn 40 before year’s end, he has made the Jets a free agency destination of sorts. The team added ex-Rodgers Packer wideouts Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, with those moves coming after the addition of safety Chuck Clark via trade.

As the Jets stands to be a factor in the one of the deepest conferences in recent memory, the Dolphins added Jalen Ramsey via trade and will pay Vic Fangio upwards of $4.5MM to run their defense. Miami will bank on Tua Tagovailoa health and showed faith in the oft-scrutinized passer by picking up his fifth-year option two months early.

The Ravens took their biggest steps yet — in the Lamar Jackson era, at least — to strengthen their receiving corps, keeping Odell Beckham Jr. from a Big Apple return (via a $15MM guarantee) and drafting Zay Flowers in the first round. The Browns bolstered their receiving corps as well, trading for Elijah Moore and drafting Cedric Tillman in Round 3. Cleveland also has now added two edge rushers — with Jadeveon Clowney not expected back — in Za’Darius Smith and Obo Okoronkwo to complement Myles Garrett. Cincinnati may have made the biggest outside addition in the AFC North, signing Orlando Brown Jr., though the team did lose both starting safeties (Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell) in free agency. The Steelers added two likely O-line starters, in Broderick Jones and Isaac Seumalo, and made changes at cornerback by signing Patrick Peterson and drafting Joey Porter Jr.

The returns from this year’s top AFC South headlines likely will not emerge until the mid-2020s, but the Texans, Colts and Titans drafted hopeful long-term QBs (C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis). Houston also gave up a bounty to move back into the top three for Will Anderson Jr.

Making Nathaniel Hackett just the third HC since the 1970 merger to be fired before his first season ended, the Broncos paid up — both in terms of draft capital and salary — to add Sean Payton. They also spent heavily to better protect Russell Wilson, signing Ben Powers and Mike McGlinchey. The latter will be Denver’s 11th Week 1 right tackle in 11 years. The Raiders added Tyree Wilson in Round 1, but the team’s Derek Carr-to-Jimmy Garoppolo transition injects considerably more injury risk into their equation.

Darren Waller going from Las Vegas to New York provided the centerpiece of the Giants’ hopeful pass-game upgrade, which includes a few midlevel wide receiver investments. The team added likely starters in cornerback Deonte Banks and center John Michael Schmitz. Dallas brought in Pro Bowlers Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore via trade, and Mike McCarthy will dust off his play-calling chops after Moore’s Chargers exit. The Eagles drafted two more Georgia defenders (Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith) in Round 1 but lost Javon Hargrave and both coordinators.

Few position groups received more attention than the Lions’ secondary. The rising team added Cameron Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Emmanuel Moseley and second-rounder Brian Branch. This came after Jameson Williams‘ six-game gambling ban and after two first-round picks (Jahmyr Gibbs, Jack Campbell) receiving positional value-based criticism. While the Bears collected future assets from the Panthers in the Bryce Young swap, they pried D.J. Moore from Carolina and added two likely O-line starters in Nate Davis and Darnell Wright.

Carolina stopped its QB carousel with the Young move, and Frank Reich will be tasked with developing the atypical prospect. The Panthers also lured Ejiro Evero from the Broncos, despite Denver’s interest in retaining its DC. Though, the team’s receiving situation — now featuring Adam Thielen and DJ Chark — may take multiple years to fix post-Moore. The rest of the NFC South will also include new Week 1 starting QBs. The Saints made the second-most notable veteran quarterback addition this year — in giving Carr what amounts to a three-year, $100MM deal — and will hope this brings the QB stability Drew Brees‘ retirement stripped away two years ago.

While the 49ers lost another coordinator (DeMeco Ryans) to a head coaching job, they gave new DC Steve Wilks superior D-line talent via Hargrave’s $20MM-AAV deal. With the Colts taking Richardson at No. 4, the Seahawks doubled down on the recently re-signed Geno Smith by beginning this year’s receiver run with Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 20. Seattle also zagged from its Pete CarrollJohn Schneider M.O. by taking cornerback Devon Witherspoon at 5. This and the Dre’Mont Jones contract headlined a big year for Seahawks defensive investments.

What other teams deserve mention here? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Poll: How Will Texans Proceed With No. 2 Overall Pick?

Enough smoke has emerged here that it would be a slight surprise if the Texans selected a quarterback with their latest top-three pick, but the team does have that option — and a glaring need — at No. 2 overall. Houston faces perhaps the most intriguing decision in this year’s draft.

The Texans were long believed to have made the right call by trading up for Deshaun Watson six years ago, but that assessment changed rapidly in 2021. Since a tornado of sexual misconduct accusations led Watson out of town, Houston did not make a true effort to replace him. Taking Davis Mills 67th overall represents the most notable investment, and after 26 starts, the Stanford product no longer appears in the organization’s long-term plans. This draft represents a chance to upgrade, but the Texans may not view the non-Bryce Young QB contingent as worth this pick.

It would still invite considerable risk for the Texans to pass on a quarterback at 2, with only Mills and Case Keenum rostered. GM Nick Caserio and HC DeMeco Ryans may be on different timelines, however. Caserio has hired three head coaches in three offseasons, and while he denied rumors he would be leaving after the draft, the third-year GM’s stock has dropped a bit. Texans ownership is believed to be more involved in this year’s draft, despite Caserio extracting historic value for Watson and selecting a host of starters in 2022. Ryans, conversely, signed a six-year contract and will be given a much longer leash compared to one-and-dones David Culley and Lovie Smith. And the former 49ers staffer built his HC resume on a defensive acumen.

C.J. Stroud was believed to be in the mix to go No. 1 overall, but the two-year Ohio State starter has been the player most affected by the Texans’ perceived QB hesitancy. Stroud having hired Watson agent David Mulugheta is viewed as an issue for the Texans, though it is worth wondering how much of a concern it would be if the team was more sold on the ex-Buckeye. Will Levis brings superior arm strength into the equation, and while he did not possess anything close to Stroud’s weaponry, the Kentucky prospect took a step back last season.

The Texans, who were believed to be targeting Young when they entered trade talks with the Bears about the No. 1 pick, have met with both Stroud and Levis. The team could still use its No. 12 overall pick to move up for a passer, though that would require giving up more draft capital compared to simply taking a QB at 2 and keeping its future picks. Hendon Hooker also visited the Texans and could be on the radar here, age (25) and health status aside.

Houston, which has either held a top-three draft choice or secured such draft real estate in each of the past three seasons, also could attempt a long-game strategy of targeting Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. Both are viewed as top-flight 2024 prospects. The Dolphins utilized this strategy in 2019, saving their QB move for Tua Tagovailoa in 2020, while the Jets took Jamal Adams over Watson and Patrick Mahomes in 2017 and maneuvered for Sam Darnold in 2018. While many teams do not expect to be picking high again, the Texans’ prolonged rebuild does point to another chance next year. And the team has a third Browns-obtained first-round pick to use in 2024 as well.

If the Texans are intent on charting this complex course at quarterback, they look to have a choice between edge rushers. While Will Anderson Jr. emerged as the early favorite, Tyree Wilson‘s upside has allowed him to enter the equation. Anderson compiled 27.5 sacks over the past two years at Alabama, but questions about his ceiling have allowed Wilson to catch up.

The Texans passed Wilson on his pre-draft physical, per Albert Breer of, who adds not every team did. Some teams view Wilson’s foot trouble as an issue that could be a long-term problem, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano. the Texans do not appear one of them. Wilson finished with seven sacks in each of the past two seasons, but a fractured foot ended his junior year after 10 games. Wilson also brings a different body type to the table, weighing 271 pounds at the Combine. Anderson weighed 253.

The Jaguars made a potential-over-production pick last year, taking Travon Walker over Aidan Hutchinson, which sent the Michigan product to the Lions. The Texans let Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Rasheem Green walk in free agency, leaving their edge landscape fairly open. It is interesting that Houston not only could gamble by passing on a QB at 2 but could pass on the more proven edge defender for the potential of another.

If the Texans find a trade partner for the pick, teams like the Titans, Raiders and Falcons have been linked to potentially moving up. Houston moving out of No. 2 could certainly hurt Arizona’s chances of trading out of No. 3. A move down would allow the Texans to recoup assets and potentially grab a quarterback that aligns with their draft board.

After the Panthers’ expected Young pick, how will the draft’s second selection play out? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Poll: Who Will Acquire DeAndre Hopkins?

A second DeAndre Hopkins trade could transpire soon — perhaps by next week’s draft — and while the Cardinals wide receiver is a bit past his peak, he could impact the Super Bowl LVIII chase if sent to a contender. Will a team come through with a trade?

Hopkins, 31 in June, has loomed as a departure candidate for nearly a year; he is believed to want to land with a contender. The Cardinals have not ruled out retaining the accomplished wideout, but that does not appear the likely conclusion. This does not appear to be an acrimonious split.

I’ve had a lot of interaction with Hop. He’s been great. Good discussions back and forth,” Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort said (h/t “Hop’s proven to be a good player in this league, and he’s obviously a very talented player. Productive conversations with Hop, but going to keep those between us.”

Hopkins’ second Texans contract ran (five years, $81MM) ran through the 2022 season. While the Cardinals scrapped that deal upon acquiring the former All-Pro in 2020, the extension the sides agreed to tacked on two extra years to Hopkins’ contract. The Cards gave Hopkins $42.75MM fully guaranteed, and the two-year, $54.5MM bump ended up impacting the receiver market in 2022. Now, that contract calls for a $19.5MM base salary. Hopkins’ cap number sits at $29.9MM on Arizona’s payroll.

Although Hopkins previously said he would be open to adjusting his contract to facilitate a trade, the Cardinals have not received big offers. Some teams believe they Arizona be forced to release the 11th-year veteran, and a few have been connected as a destination for the Clemson alum.

A potential AFC duel probably should be mentioned first. The Chiefs have been connected to the big-bodied wideout for several weeks now, being tied to both he and Odell Beckham Jr. Now that OBJ is a Raven, the Chiefs — who lost JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman — are running short on options. Kansas City has Marquez Valdes-Scantling in place as its most reliable receiver, though Kadarius Toney provides more upside (and considerably more risk). Andy Reid‘s team bowing out of a Smith-Schuster sweepstakes that ended in an $8.5MM-per-year Patriots deal points to the Chiefs waiting out a Hopkins release. If Hopkins were available in free agency, the Chiefs’ Reid-Patrick Mahomes setup presents receivers a compelling pitch.

The other team Hopkins sounded receptive to playing for, the Bills already roster a high-variance boundary wideout (Gabe Davis) and can use Stefon Diggs across the formation. But they were mentioned as an early suitor. The Bills’ Von Miller move showed the urgency Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott are operating with, and while Diggs’ $24MM-AAV contract would be a complication regarding a Hopkins acquisition, the Bills certainly make sense as a free agency suitor — as acquiring a five-time Pro Bowler would stand to bolster their receiving corps and impede a Chiefs upgrade.

While the Cardinals look to be working with Hopkins’ camp here, his PED suspension voided the no-trade clause in his contract. That would open the door to more options, depending on the compensation offered. The Ravens just outbid the Jets and Giants for Beckham, and a report from ex-GM Michael Lombardi (Twitter link) indicated Lamar Jackson wanted the team to add OBJ and Hopkins. The Ravens have chased receivers for years. Their run-heavy offense has steered some — including Smith-Schuster — away, but they convinced Beckham to sign up to reunite with OC Todd Monken. The team does not have another notable receiver contract on its payroll, though Jackson’s $32.4MM franchise tag poses a problem.

The Giants lurked in the Beckham pursuit, offering an incentive-laden deal, and have either re-signed or added a host of slot receivers this offseason. New York has also done extensive homework on this draft’s receivers, being closely connected to adding one of the first-round-caliber targets. The team did pursue Jerry Jeudy and Brandin Cooks previously. Jets interest probably does not need to be explained much. Expected Jets QB Aaron Rodgers placed Beckham on his wish list, and the team has already added Hardman and Allen Lazard. If the Jets were willing to add Beckham, they are probably open to Hopkins.

Hopkins’ most recent podcast appearance pointed to less interest in being dealt to the Jets or Patriots compared to a Bills or Chiefs landing, and Bill O’Brien — who traded Hopkins when working as the Texans’ GM — coming to New England certainly would create an awkward fit. But if Matt Patricia and Darius Slay can work together again, just about any NFL relationship is salvageable. The Pats discussed Hopkins with the Cards earlier this offseason.

While the Cardinals having shopped Hopkins and discussed him in trades for months, it sounds like the rebuilding team will move on. If the team — which would eat $21.1MM in a pre-June 1 trade, without any contract adjustments — does not receive the offer it wants, is an unexpected reunion completely off the table? Aside from the aforementioned suitors, is there another team who could make a play here?

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

Poll: Who Will Win Super Bowl LVII?

Just one week remains until a new champion is crowned in the NFL. Super Bowl LVII will see each conference’s top seed square off against one another for the first time since 2017, and the 13th overall since seeding began in 1975.

That most recent occasion saw the Eagles win their only Super Bowl to date. A far different coaching staff and roster has led the team back to the title game, culminating a regular season which saw them establish themselves as arguably the most balanced team in the league on both sides of the ball. Numerous moves made in the offseason – including the acquisition of wideout A.J. Brown – helped the Eagles take a considerable step forward on offense, with third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts putting himself in the MVP conversation.

With the former second-rounder back at full strength, Philadelphia has had little issue in the postseason to date, securing comfortable victories over the Giants and 49ers. The latter was hamstrung by not having a healthy quarterback for much of the conference championship game, but that contest still highlighted the Eagles’ depth and their penchant for blowout wins. They enter the Super Bowl as slight favorites.

The Chiefs, however, have plenty of recent experience on the big stage. Kansas City has hosted each of the past five AFC championship games, including their win this past Sunday against the Bengals. That contest was won by the narrowest of margins, a stark contrast to the Eagles’ path through the NFC. Nevertheless, the Chiefs are now set to compete in their third Super Bowl in the past four years, as the legacy of their current era with head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes continues to grow.

Kansas City comfortably won what was expected to be a hyper-competitive AFC West during the regular season, continuing their dominance of that division. The Chiefs were able to secure the No. 1 seed in large part due to their elite offensive production, something which many raised questions about following the departure of Tyreek Hill. Despite not having the All-Pro receiver available, Kansas City led the league in passing yards in 2022, making Mahomes the favorite to win a second MVP award. The team’s offense has plenty of potential even with the latter dealing with an ankle sprain.

A number of storylines have been discussed in the build-up to the big game, including Reid facing his former team and a pair of brothers (Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Eagles center Jason Kelce) squaring off against one another. These two teams had the highest-scoring offenses in the league this season – and have even put up identical point totals to date, mirroring their shared 16-3 records – so their matchup has plenty of potential with respect to points being scored.

As the countdown to Super Bowl LVII continues, who do you see winning it all? Vote in the poll below and have your say in the comments section: