PFR Polls

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:

Poll: Who Will Become Next Colts HC?

Five years after their Josh McDaniels-to-Frank Reich pivot, the Colts are again conducting a rather interesting head coaching search. This process may well produce an unusual stage.

Indianapolis potentially planning a third round on HC interviews, after holding 12-hour meetings — in some cases — with candidates during the second round, adds a memorable wrinkle to its search to replace Reich. A third round of a coaching search has not happened in at least 40 years, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star notes. GM Chris Ballard has run the search, but Jim Irsay will make the call. Where will this search end up?

Almost everyone involved in this Indy journey has been mentioned as a finalist or scheduled a second interview. Dan Quinn hopped off the ride midway through, doing so hours after he scheduled a second meeting about the position. Ben Johnson backed out after his virtual interview, staying with the Lions. Giants OC Mike Kafka also has not been mentioned as being summoned for a second meeting. DeMeco Ryans cancelled his virtual interview and chose the Texans over the Broncos. Jim Harbaugh was mentioned as a candidate in December, but the ex-Colts QB did not interview. Otherwise, this search remains one of the most wide open in memory.

Rich Bisaccia, Brian Callahan, Ejiro Evero, Aaron Glenn, Don Martindale, Raheem Morris, Jeff Saturday and Shane Steichen have either gone through a second interview or will do so soon. Eric Bieniemy and Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone have also been mentioned as potential finalists, though neither is believed to have scheduled a second meeting.

This search has produced the rare mix of all three phases, with Bisaccia and Ventrone representing the special teams wing. Ventrone, 40, was Reich’s ST coordinator throughout the latter’s HC tenure, while Bisaccia, 62, is the rare interim HC to have guided his team to the playoffs. The Raiders passed on Bisaccia, leading him to Green Bay. Could he join John Harbaugh as a former ST coordinator to become a head coach?

Irsay went offense twice in 2018, hiring McDaniels and then Reich. This year’s lot of OCs in contention includes Andy Reid‘s right-hand man. Ballard and Bieniemy worked together in Kansas City for four years, and since Ballard left for Indiana, Bieniemy has become Reid’s top lieutenant. Of course, that has famously not led to a head coaching opportunity. Both Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy earned HC chances as Reid’s HC, but teams have paused on Bieniemy, 53. After this latest Chiefs attack led the NFL in offensive DVOA despite trading Tyreek Hill, will the Colts be the team that goes with the oft-bypassed candidate?

Callahan and Steichen are the only other offense-based candidates linked to having paths to the job. Steichen is just 37 and worked with Reich during the future Colts leader’s time as Chargers OC. Ex-Reich lieutenant Nick Sirianni gave Steichen the play-calling reins midway through last season, and it made a major difference in the Eagles’ trajectory. Philadelphia led the NFL in rushing in 2021 and has produced a top-three attack this year, as Jalen Hurts has made considerable strides as a passer. Callahan, 38, does not call plays in Cincinnati but is a candidate for both the Colts and Cardinals’ HC gigs. Joe Burrow is primed to book one of Zac Taylor‘s assistants a promotion, and Callahan is this year’s candidate.

Evero, 42, leads the league in connections to jobs during this year’s cycle, being summoned by all five HC-seeking teams for interviews and being pursued for DC gigs. It appears the Broncos’ DC will land on his feet, despite Nathaniel Hackett‘s one-and-done, and Denver remains interested in keeping him. The Rams also have Evero in mind as a Morris contingency plan. Morris, 46, would be a second-chance HC, but the ex-Buccaneers leader’s first chance came more than 10 years ago. He has rebuilt his stock in Los Angeles, helping the Rams to a Super Bowl LVI win, and Sean McVay staffers are quite popular on coaching carousels. Morris also has a near-three-month run as an interim leader under his belt, having replaced Quinn with the 2020 Falcons.

Martindale, 59 is believed to have interviewed well in his second meeting (the Irsay stage), and he played a key role in the Giants making a surprising surge to the divisional round. He coached the Ravens to three top-five defensive finishes in four DC seasons. Glenn, 50, started late in coaching due to his playing career spanning 16 seasons. The ex-cornerback joins Evero and Callahan as Cards candidates.

Saturday, of course, is the main variable here. Irsay stunned the NFL by hiring the former Pro Bowl center as his interim coach, pulling him off various ESPN sets and onto the sideline. Saturday, 47, won his first game but oversaw a brutal stretch in the weeks that followed. The Colts lost their final seven games and blew an NFL-record 33-point lead during that stretch. While Irsay’s unorthodox choice appeared to backfire, the owner bypassed advice against hiring Saturday in November and is believed to be receiving similar counsel now. Will the Irsay-Saturday partnership somehow continue? The 1-7 record aside, he has consistently been mentioned as a live candidate. With the Panthers passing on Steve Wilks, no interim HC has been promoted in six years.

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

Poll: What Will Bears Do With No. 1 Pick?

The Bears enter the offseason with a plethora of needs to fill out their roster, but an intriguing array of means with respect to augmenting it in the months ahead. One of those, of course, is the first overall pick in this spring’s draft.

For much of the campaign, it appeared the top slot would ultimately go to the Texans. However, a last-minute, come-from-behind victory during Lovie Smith’s final game with Houston helped his former team secure the No. 1 selection. Chicago only remained in the running to ‘win’ the race to the bottom of the standings, though, due to a franchise-worst 10-game losing streak to close out the season.

The Bears’ 3-14 record came as little surprise, given the team’s clear intentions of pursuing a multi-year rebuild under new general manager Ryan Poles. That included several veteran defenders heading elsewhere via trades or releases before and/or during the season as a means of clearing up cap space. That strategy has left the team with by far the most spending power in the league ahead of free agency.

After a number of high-end additions are presumably made in March, Poles and his staff will be tasked with determining their course of action with the No. 1 pick. Retaining the selection would enable them to bolster their defense with, for instance, Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. Long considered a candidate for the top spot in this class’ rankings, he could provide a considerable boost to a pass rush which finished last in the NFL in sacks with only 20.

Alternatively, the Bears could turn to Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter at the top of the board. Chicago surrendered an average of 157 rushing yards per game in 2022, the second-worst mark in the league. Carter would help improve the team’s front seven both in that department, and as an interior pass-rusher as they look to rebuild their front seven. Opinion is split on which out of Anderson or Carter grades out as the best prospect, but either one would be considered a foundational piece for the Bears for years to come.

The situation is complicated, however, by the presence of Bryce Young. The 2021 Heisman winner had another productive season with the Crimson Tide this year, putting him squarely in contention to hear his name called first on draft night – particularly if the QB-needy Texans had finished the year with the No. 1 pick. Chicago having that luxury adds to their possible moves to build for the future.

Drafting Young could give the franchise a long-term answer at the position, though Justin Fields showed signs of being able to do just that in his second NFL season. The 2021 first-rounder – whom Chicago’s previous regime traded up to draft – produced the second-most single-season rushing yards by a signal-caller in league history. At age 23 and with at least two more years of team control on his rookie contract (with the potential of another, via the fifth-year option), the Ohio State product would represent a logical candidate to be retained for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, Fields took a league-leading 55 sacks despite not playing a full campaign. He also led the NFL’s lowest-ranked passing attack, though the Bears’ weaknesses along the offensive line and distinct lack of proven pass-catchers certainly contributed to that as well. Questions regarding Fields’ upside as a passer could be made irrelevant from Chicago’s perspective if they become convinced Young (or another QB prospect) is worth taking first overall, an outcome which Poles recently downplayed the likelihood of.

“We’re going to do the same as we’ve always done – we’re going to evaluate the draft class,” he said last week“and I would say this: I would have to be absolutely blown away to make that type of decision.”

The other option the Bears have, of course, is trading out of the top slot to add more draft capital now and (potentially) next year as well. Such a move has not been seen since 2016, but if it were to happen, it would once again take place to pave the way for a team to guarantee they landed their desired quarterback. The Texans, armed with a second first-round pick, could be a candidate to move up one spot, but the Colts could be another after they made clear their willingness to be aggressive in adding at the position.

A move down the board would extend the Bears’ streak to 77 years without making the draft’s first selection, but it would allow them to increase their draft capital considerably. Chicago currently only owns three picks in the top 100 – a smaller figure than one may expect given their rebuilding status, but also one owing in part to the team’s trade deadline acquisition of wideout Chase Claypool. A trade keeping them in the top 10 of the first round order would take them out of contention for Anderson or Carter, but place them in good position to add another high-end talent, particularly one of the class’ top offensive tackles.

Which path do you see the Bears taking with the No. 1 pick? Have your say by voting in the poll below and weighing in via the comments section:

Poll: Which Team Will Add Derek Carr In 2023?

Wednesday’s unusual development — Derek Carr leaving the Raiders following the news of his benching — makes it fairly clear the sides are expecting to part ways soon. This opens the door for the first full-fledged search for a new Raiders starter since they selected Carr in Round 2 in 2014, and it moves a proven quarterback to the trade block.

The Raiders backed away from trading Carr in the past, and the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo saga this year shows how presuming a separation can be premature. But it certainly looks like the Raiders plan to move Carr. There will be interested teams, but the acquiring franchise would need to pick up a $40.4MM guarantee and prove appealing enough Carr would waive his no-trade clause. Where will the 31-year-old passer end up?

A few teams will be searching for a quarterback after acquiring one last year, but some parties will be those that sat out the 2022 carousel. The Jets figure to be a Carr suitor. They have seen their 2021 investment — No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson — bomb during his two-season run as a primary starter. The defense the Jets rebuilt this offseason no longer gives Wilson a lengthy NFL onramp, and the BYU product may not be ready even with the benefit of a long runway. With Wilson perhaps on the way out midway through his rookie deal, the Jets adding Carr’s through-2025 contract would make sense.

We broached this subject upon Wilson’s initial benching last month, and it would put the Jets — who employ ex-49ers OC Mike LaFleur as their play-caller — to an interesting decision. Going after Carr in February would cut off a LaFleur-Garoppolo reunion in March. While Garoppolo’s checkered health history may now place him behind Carr in teams’ hierarchies, the former has extensive familiarity with LaFleur.

Carr, 31, becoming available also complicates the Giants’ path. They have seen a solid season from Daniel Jones, with the Dave Gettleman-era investment working with a bottom-tier receiving corps to lead the team to the playoff precipice. With a more proven option available, would the Joe SchoenBrian Daboll duo preemptively nix Jones negotiations by trading for Carr? If Jones leads the Giants to the playoffs, the prospect of seeing him with better receivers in 2023 — though, at a much higher price — would seemingly be interesting, and he is six years younger than Carr.

Tom BradyRaiders rumors may be relentless over the next several weeks, provided the legendary passer does not actually retire this time around. The current expectation, barring retirement, is for Brady to leave the Buccaneers to finish his career. This would open a spot for a veteran quarterback to pair with a Super Bowl nucleus, albeit one that has, particularly on offense, underwhelmed to an alarming degree this season. The Bucs were in the quarterback market during Brady’s first retirement, but timing also may rule them out of the Carr sweepstakes. A Carr move in February — a month before Brady’s free agency — would lead arguably the greatest quarterback ever out of town. That would be quite the strange ending to this memorable Bucs chapter.

If Carson Wentz‘s comeback does not produce a Commanders playoff berth, he could well be on the move for a third straight offseason. Washington can cut bait free of charge. This franchise has searched for QB continuity ever since the Kirk Cousins franchise tag years, having entered six straight seasons with a new starter. Carr, who has missed two regular-season games due to injury in his career, would provide that.

He would also cost more than Wentz, who remains attached to a $32MM-per-year Eagles extension he inked in 2019. Wentz is tied to just $20MM and $21MM base salaries over the next two years. Carr’s deal includes future bases of $32.9MM (guaranteed in a trade), $41.9MM ($7.5MM of which would be guaranteed) and $41.2MM. The Commanders employ Jack Del Rio, who coached Carr for three seasons, as defensive coordinator.

The Saints traded their 2023 first-round pick to the Eagles and ditched their original 2022 QB plan early this season. Benching Jameis Winston for Andy Dalton has not moved the needle in terms of wins, though Pro Football Focus surprisingly rates Dalton as a top-five QB this season. Dalton’s deal expires at season’s end. New Orleans, per usual, resides 32nd in terms of projected 2023 cap space. The Saints sit $53.9MM over the projected 2023 salary ceiling, per OverTheCap. While Mickey Loomis has gotten out of worse predicaments, adding Carr’s contract would be a new challenge for the seasoned GM. The Saints employ Carr’s first NFL HC (Dennis Allen), though he was only with Oakland for a few Carr games before being fired.

Carolina has attempted bigger swings at QB over the past two offseasons, offering a first-round pick and change for Matthew Stafford and offering three and change for Deshaun Watson. The Panthers are preparing to chase a QB again. Is re-signing Sam Darnold a viable option, or will David Tepper try and make a notable upgrade. Carr might not qualify as a huge splash, but he would likely provide an upgrade for a team that has intriguing pieces at several positions.

Neither of the teams that made the Matt Ryan trade have surefire answers for 2023, though Carr might not be a true fit for either the Colts or Falcons. Indianapolis is barreling toward securing its first top-five pick since the Peyton Manning injury year produced Andrew Luck. After trying veterans repeatedly, Indianapolis could have a chance to land an impact prospect. Desmond Ridder being an unchallenged starter would be a risk for the Falcons next year, but they still are on the rebuilding track. That said, Arthur Smith is going into Year 3. Carr pairing with Kyle Pitts and Drake London would be interesting.

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

Poll: Where Will Tom Brady Play In 2023?

One of this season’s most disappointing teams, the Buccaneers still have a chance to host a playoff game. But their Tom Brady partnership may be nearing an end. The all-time great is viewed as more likely than not to be elsewhere in 2023.

This would open the door to either an unusual free agency or a second retirement. Winding down his age-45 season, Brady will likely not be sought after on the level he was in 2020. His career-low QBR (since the stat’s 2006 introduction, at least), lowest yards per attempt figure since 2002 (6.3) and age will undoubtedly give teams pause. But if the 15-time Pro Bowler wants to keep pushing the quarterback age boundary — a recently discussed scenario — there stands to be a market.

It still makes sense to include the 49ers here. They passed on a true pursuit in 2020, when Jimmy Garoppolo was coming off a season in which he piloted the team to Super Bowl LIV, but Brady was loosely linked to seeking a move to his native Bay Area during his mini-retirement this offseason. The Bucs shut down the prospect of trading Brady’s rights anywhere. San Francisco has an again-injured Garoppolo tied to a restructured deal that prevents a franchise tag — a similar arrangement to Brady, who also cannot be tagged thanks to his 2022 restructure — and Trey Lance will enter 2023 having only played one full season in his five post-high school years. The 49ers boast a rare skill-position trio that includes three All-Pros, and their situation could open the door to Lance spending a year learning behind arguably the greatest to ever do it.

Josh McDaniels looks like he will make it to a second Raiders season, even though his first has not gone as hoped. McDaniels taking over as Patriots OC led to Brady morphing from a promising young quarterback to a superstar, and he was Brady’s OC for 11 years. The Raiders have a narrow window to trade Derek Carr, who will see $40.5MM guaranteed on Day 3 of the 2023 league year. A Carr-Davante Adams breakup might not go over well among the longtime friends, but McDaniels and fellow ex-Patriots staffer Dave Ziegler are calling the shots. The Raiders pursued Brady in 2020, and he famously had a spirited reaction to the then-Jon Gruden-led team backing off.

Tua Tagovailoa has a rather vocal cast of supporters, and the Dolphins did just pay a stiff penalty for attempting to bring Brady and Sean Payton to town. Payton seems out of the question now, with Mike McDaniel faring well in his first year, and Tagovailoa still sits second in QBR. The Dolphins have one of the great speed-receiver duos in NFL history, and vice chairman Bruce Beal is on the TB12 board. Though, Beal’s central role in the tampering scandal is believed to have affected his standing with the team. Would Stephen Ross try to land one of the assets that ultimately cost a first-round pick?

While it would look quite strange to see Brady with the Jets, they have both young weaponry and a vastly improved defense. That combination wooed Brady to Tampa. Timeline-wise, the Jets mirror the 49ers at the QB position. They roster the passer taken one spot ahead of Lance (Zach Wilson), though the Jets have more intel on their top-three QB pick than the Niners do theirs. Mike White is a free agent at season’s end, and the team is already being connected to veteran options — Garoppolo and Carr among them. Brady probably should be at least mentioned here.

Brady and Mike Vrabel played together for nine seasons, and the Titans were part of the free agency derby two years ago. They bowed out before it ultimately came down to a Bucs-or-Chargers call, and Ryan Tannehill has one season remaining on the extension the Titans gave him shortly after their Brady pursuit ended. The Titans cannot match the above-referenced teams for weaponry, however.

Bill Belichick did not exactly equip Mac Jones for a second-year leap, naming a career defensive coach (Matt Patricia) as de facto OC. Jones has regressed in Year 2, and there was a brief QB controversy with fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe. Uncertainty about the 2021 first-rounder’s long-term standing has entered the equation. If LeBron James could return to Cleveland, Brady rejoining Belichick and Robert Kraft for a farewell season should at least be floated. Brady and Kraft remain close, as evidenced by the Bucs QB traveling to the Patriots owner’s wedding during a Bucs road trip earlier this season. But the Patriots would need to get to work on receiving help. They almost certainly would not be the favorites if Brady decided to play a 24th season.

Reports of friction between Brady and Bruce Arians and Brady and OC Byron Leftwich have emerged over the past two seasons. Arians’ exit has undoubtedly affected this Bucs iteration, which has dealt with issues along its offensive line throughout the year as well. But the Bucs have fallen from the second-ranked scoring offense in 2021 — a season in which Brady led the league with 5,316 passing yards and 43 TDs — to 28th. The Bucs’ chances at winning a terrible NFC South aside, they may soon face the prospect of the Brady bill coming due. The Bucs not re-signing Brady before his contract expires in March would mean a $35.1MM dead-money hit due to the void years on his deal.

Brady is the only 45-year-old starting QB in NFL history, and retirement was believed to be the direction he would go at this season’s outset. As he plays out a down season, there will be more calls for a true retirement this time. A 10-year deal to be FOX’s lead analyst awaits.

As this offseason showed, teams are more willing to follow through with big QB swings. Complex QB offseasons have been the 2020s norm. More teams could potentially enter the mix, if they are convinced Brady’s struggles this year can be attributed more to his circumstances and less on a decline. Unless Brady calls it quits immediately after this season, the topic of his 2023 employer will gain steam. How will it end? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this oft-discussed player in the comments section.

Poll: Who Will Be Jets’ Starting QB In 2023?

Last week’s Jets quarterback change may not be a long-term move, per Robert Saleh, but Jeremy Fowler of notes the expectation is Mike White will keep his new gig against the Vikings and Bills over the next two weeks. White faring reasonably well against those upper-echelon teams could keep Zach Wilson out of the picture for a while.

The Jets have assembled a quality defense quicker than most expected. After ranking last in both total defense and scoring last season, the Jets are a top-five team in both categories in Saleh’s second season. Their defense sits fourth in DVOA, creating legitimate playoff aspirations for the first time since 2015. The Jets have a chance to snap the NFL’s longest playoff drought (11 seasons), leading Saleh to yank Wilson. That move is atypical for a player with Wilson’s draft pedigree and injects uncertainty into the Jets’ quarterback plans beyond 2022.

No quarterback selected in the top five has been benched for performance reasons before the end of his second season since the Bengals sat down 1999 No. 3 overall pick Akili Smith midway through the 2000 campaign. Wilson being shut down represents an obvious red flag about his future. Will the Jets be able to pivot back to last year’s No. 2 overall pick?

QBR places Wilson in 25th, actually two spots ahead of Aaron Rodgers, after the BYU product finished 30th in this metric as a rookie. Passer rating is far less kind; no starter checks in behind Wilson’s 72.6 mark there. Joe Flacco remains the Jets’ touchdown pass leader, with five, despite having exited after three starts to clear another path for Wilson. The Jets used a top-three pick on a quarterback twice in a four-year span, but while Sam Darnold was not holding a well-built defense back, Wilson was. Rumblings of teammates’ waning confidence in the fast-rising prospect surfacing this past offseason certainly open the door to the Jets needing to consider other options for 2023.

White torched a battered Bears secondary, doing so more than a year after he posted the first Jets’ 400-yard passing performance since Vinny Testaverde in 2000. The former Cowboys fifth-round pick has been with the Jets since 2019, initially landing a practice squad gig, and has enjoyed spurts of popularity over the past two seasons. The Jets demoted Flacco for the ex-Day 3 draftee earlier this season. White’s next two performances will help illustrate if the Jets can legitimately consider him for their 2023 starting gig. White, 27, will need to be re-signed next year. His putting together more quality starts will complicate that process for the Jets.

Saleh and OC Mike LaFleur‘s San Francisco ties create a natural path for Jimmy Garoppolo, whom the 49ers cannot retain via the franchise tag due to the sides’ August restructure. Then committed to Wilson, the Jets were not closely linked to Garoppolo during this year’s long-running (and ultimately fruitless) trade sweepstakes, but this could easily become a much-rumored landing spot for the ex-Patriots second-rounder. Will the 49ers, however, be so quick to move on and give the keys back to the largely untested Trey Lance?

A veteran deal would mean cutting into the advantage Wilson’s rookie contract creates, but if Wilson cannot do enough to stay on the field, the Jets need to regroup to capitalize on the defense they have built. The Broncos took this route in 2018, which would have been No. 26 overall pick Paxton Lynch‘s third season. Denver waived the first-round bust months after signing Case Keenum.

The Raiders have not lived up to expectations in Josh McDaniels‘ first season, and the second-chance HC — who is likely to return for another season — has a slim window to unload Derek Carr‘s three-year, $121.4MM contract. Three days after Super Bowl LVII, Carr is owed $40.5MM — his 2023 salary and $7.5MM of his 2024 base — creating an avenue for a trade. The Jets would need to act swiftly, and it would wall off a Garoppolo path a month before it could open. But Carr could be available ahead of his age-32 season, should McDaniels want a fresh start.

On the other end of the timing spectrum, Rodgers could conceivably be available next summer. While Rodgers trade speculation has ultimately provided endless content and no action, the Packers structured his record-setting $50.3MM-per-year contract to include a 2023 option bonus ($58.3MM) that can be paid out at any point from the start of the 2023 league year to the day before next season. It would cost the Packers only $15.8MM in dead money, per OverTheCap, to trade the contract after June 1. The Jets would be making a familiar move, trading for a future Hall of Fame Packers QB in his late 30s, but this scenario will undoubtedly be mentioned. Rodgers, who backtracked on his trade demand in 2021 and passed on leaving Green Bay this year, does not have a no-trade clause.

For the first time since 2016, they are not poised to have a top-12 pick. What other options would be available for Gang Green? The Seahawks are aiming to re-sign ex-Jet Geno Smith, while Daniel Jones hopping New York teams seems unlikely as well. Gardner Minshew and brief Jet Teddy Bridgewater are also slated to hit the market. Tom Brady, as it should be at least noted, is also due for free agency. If the Lions land their QB prospect in the draft, Jared Goff stands to be available. As this year’s quarterback carousel showed, more options could be on the table.

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

Poll: Who Will Sign Odell Beckham Jr.?

In what will be a key point not only on Odell Beckham Jr.‘s rehab timeline but perhaps in this year’s Super Bowl chase as well, the standout wide receiver is expected to be fully cleared for football work soon. Around nine months after suffering his second ACL tear, Beckham will be ready to practice for his new team. Who will that team be?

A free agent of this caliber is rarely available at this point in the season. Whichever team signs Beckham will see its skill-position corps receive a stretch-run jolt. However, injury concerns and Beckham’s desire for a multiyear contract complicate this unique chase. Beckham’s Browns stay also showed how adding him can backfire in a poor fit, injecting some risk into his 2022 equation. That said, teams pursuing him will be doing so based off his quick-impact Rams stay. The Rams needed OBJ to reach Super Bowl LVI. Despite the steady run of injuries that date back to his Giants days, that will be what drives a signing.

Rams connections overshadowed every other team’s Beckham ties for most of the offseason. Everyone from Les Snead to Sean McVay to Kevin Demoff expressed optimism Beckham would return to Los Angeles. With the Rams 3-5 and ranking 31st offensively, they do not appear the favorites any longer. The Rams ($4.2MM in cap space) have received little from their skill positions beyond Cooper Kupp; Beckham would boost the sinking contender’s cause. This franchise has also made a habit of landing big fish.

If he is eyeing a multiyear commitment, going back to an offense he knows well would make sense. Then again, Beckham expressed disappointment in the Rams’ previous offer. Although Sean McVay said last month the team had not made its best proposal yet, will such an offer come given the defending Super Bowl champions’ current state?

The Cowboys ($6.9MM in cap space) may have taken over as the OBJ favorites. Dallas cornerstones like Micah Parsons and Ezekiel Elliott are recruiting him. More importantly, Jerry Jones appears to be as well. In discussing OBJ’s market with NFL personnel, Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed came away with the Cowboys as the frontrunners here.

Beckham, 30, would slot in alongside CeeDee Lamb as the Cowboys’ top weapons. Dallas’ auxiliary troops have not shown too much this season. Of course, Dak Prescott‘s injury contributed to the limited production from Dalton Schultz and Michael Gallup. And the Cowboys just signed a player coming off a December ACL tear (Gallup). While they appear ready to gamble on Beckham, that partnership will mean Lamb’s complementary pieces will each be fresh off ACL rehab. But the Cowboys may have their best Super Bowl opportunity since 2016, when they claimed the NFC’s No. 1 seed. The team may be on its way to the No. 5 seed this year, but a dominant pass rush has changed its equation compared to recent years.

The team viewed as the second-likeliest to add Beckham, per Kyed, the Bills are not as well-versed in attracting free agents. But Josh Allen‘s ascent has changed the franchise’s trajectory. Von Miller making the atypical decision to choose Buffalo over L.A. could bring Beckham to follow suit. Miller has been banging this drum for months. Earlier this season, the Bills were not viewed as a key player in this market. With Jamison Crowder (fractured ankle) out of the picture and the Bills encountering more defensive injuries, has that changed?

Beckham is believed to prefer a warm-weather city, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telgram, who adds the eight-year veteran would change his mind for “the right offer” (Twitter link). The Bills rarely have a market advantage over their competition, so needing to navigate that battle is not exactly new.

The three-time Pro Bowler also mentioned the Packers and a Giants reunion as possibilities. Neither of these would check the warm-weather box, but the Packers were in on Beckham in 2021 and have been mentioned as a suitor intermittently for the past several months. But Green Bay has dropped to 3-6. The NFL’s smallest-market franchise is also now going year to year with Aaron Rodgers. That status affected Davante Adams‘ interest in staying with the Packers. Green Bay needs Beckham more than Dallas, Buffalo or L.A., with Adams’ departure crushing the team’s receiving corps. Considering the Packers’ modern history with big-ticket free agents, Rodgers’ post-2022 plans, and the team’s 2022 performance, this might be a tough sell.

Giants GM Joe Schoen said Beckham would be considered, but he did not meet with the Jerry Reese-era draftee when he visited following Sterling Shepard‘s injury. Like just about every team Beckham is considering, the Giants looked into Brandin Cooks and Jerry Jeudy before the trade deadline. The Giants may need an impact receiver more than the Packers, who at least roster Allen Lazard. No Giants wideout has totaled more than 250 yards. Their leading receiver, Darius Slayton, spent the offseason in Brian Daboll‘s doghouse.

Big Blue came into this season on a rebuilding track. The team was not viewed as likely to consider trading even a Day 2 pick for a wideout, and it traded a talented but injury-prone receiver (Kadarius Toney). This is not the regime that traded Beckham to Cleveland, but would Schoen be willing to sign the injury-prone vet beyond 2022?

The Vikings and Chiefs were also mentioned as Beckham suitors, but each made moves ahead of the deadline. Each team gave up Day 2 capital — for T.J. Hockenson and Toney, respectively — for weaponry already. Kansas City looked into Cooks as well and was in the OBJ mix last year. Given the Chiefs’ arms race with the Bills, they probably cannot be fully ruled out.

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this rare in-season market in the comments section.

Poll: Who Will Win NFC West?

Housing the defending Super Bowl champions and the conference’s runner-up, this year’s NFC West was set to feature another chapter in the reinvigorated Rams-49ers rivalry. But both would-be contenders have offered inconsistency that has further muddled the NFC.

As the Sean McVayKyle Shanahan series has seen injuries and roster deficiencies cloud its sixth season, the Seahawks have gone from a team projected to be close to a top-five 2023 draft choice to one with legitimate aspirations at a home playoff game. With the Cardinals also within two games of first place — ahead of a key Hawks-Cards Week 9 tilt — this division still features many questions at the midseason point.

Winners of this division three times during McVay’s first five seasons, the Rams have been unable to generate much offense involving anyone beyond Cooper Kupp. After Andrew Whitworth retired, Los Angeles re-signed his backup — Joe Noteboom — to a three-year, $40MM deal and brought back center Brian Allen. Both Noteboom (out for the season) and Allen (five missed games) have seen injuries define their 2022 slates. The team let three-year guard starter Austin Corbett walk in free agency (Panthers), and the Rams’ guard spots have endured a litany of setbacks. Both Rams starting guards (David Edwards, Coleman Shelton) remain on IR. These issues have limited the Rams considerably. No McVay-led Rams offense has ranked outside the top 11; Los Angeles enters Week 9 with the league’s 30th-ranked offense.

While no problems have surfaced after Kupp’s extension agreement, Stafford, 34, has not started well since signing a four-year, $160MM deal. The 14th-year veteran battled an elbow issue throughout the offseason and is averaging just 6.8 yards per attempt — down from 8.1 in 2021 — and enters Week 9 with seven touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Allen Robinson posting 22 catches for 254 yards in seven games has also been an issue, with the Rams having signed him to a three-year, $46.5MM deal that included $30MM guaranteed. Football Outsiders gives the Rams just a 21.6% playoff shot. No defending champion has missed out since the 2016 Broncos.

San Francisco making the call to bring back Jimmy Garoppolo became vital after Trey Lance‘s Week 2 injury. Garoppolo inconsistency remains, but that should not surprise. The 49ers traded two future first-rounders for Lance because of their incumbent starter’s low ceiling. Of course, the 49ers are 2-for-2 in NFC title game berths with Garoppolo at the controls. But this team has battled major injury problems as well, seeing key contributors on each of their three defensive levels miss time or land on IR. That said, the 49ers still rank first defensively. Following an October swoon, the unit should be expected to stabilize once some of its pieces return.

The 49ers outflanking the Rams in the Christian McCaffrey sweepstakes made a major difference in the teams’ Week 8 rematch, and although McCaffrey’s injury history figures to inject nervousness into the equation for 49er fans the rest of the way, the prospect of CMC, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle teaming up probably gives San Francisco (67.3% playoff odds, per Football Outsiders) the highest ceiling in this division. But Seattle (71.9%) remains an obvious threat.

Moving on from two of the best players in team history — Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner — the Seahawks entered the season with long odds to win the division. They hold a one-game lead on the 49ers, thanks largely to the stunning re-emergence of Geno Smith. Off the starter radar since the I.K. Enemkpali punching incident back in 2015, Smith made one start between the 2015 and 2020 seasons. The Seahawks were able to re-sign him to a one-year, $3.5MM deal on April 14, indicating the tepid interest leaguewide. After beating out Drew Lock, Smith (13 TD passes, three INTs, NFL-best 72.7% completion rate — on 7.7 yards a pop) ranks fourth in QBR. While Smith’s offseason market and NFL past would provide signs this may not last, the Seahawks are reaping the benefits of their extended Smith partnership — one the team is interested in exploring beyond 2022.

Seattle’s rookie class — featuring left tackle Charles Cross (obtained with Denver’s No. 9 overall pick), second-rounder Ken Walker and fifth-round project Tariq Woolen — is also delivering immediate returns, doing so after recent draft-weekend struggles set back some of the late Wilson-era teams. The 49ers routed the Seahawks in Week 2, and Seattle has yet to face Los Angeles. But Pete Carroll‘s team is also showing more on defense compared to another woeful start; Clint Hurtt‘s unit has minimized the Cardinals, Chargers and Giants during a three-game win streak.

Extending their Steve KeimKliff KingsburyKyler Murray troika this offseason — with Murray’s deal coming after a bizarre film study-based controversy — the Cardinals rank 30th in scoring. They have seen DeAndre Hopkins make a difference upon returning from his six-game PED ban, and Vance Joseph‘s defense — despite a breakup with Chandler Jones after five years — has fared better since Patrick Mahomes torched that group in Week 1. But injuries and continued offensive inconsistency have hindered Arizona season.

Should the Cards (6.9% postseason odds) not be able to upend the Seahawks on Sunday, their road back to the playoffs will be difficult. A last-place finish would certainly invite big-picture questions about the team’s path, with its power trio all under contract through 2027.

Will the Seahawks hang on? Or will one of the 2021 playoff teams surpass them with a better second half? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in on the state of this division in the comments section.

Poll: Who Fared Best At Trade Deadline?

The NFL trade deadline has trended upward in recent years, and Tuesday resembled — to some degree, at least — the frenzy the NBA or MLB deadlines bring. In the days leading up to Tuesday’s record-setting deadline sequence — a 10-trade day — other teams improved their situations as well.

Although the Broncos received the only first-round pick exchanged during this year’s in-season trade cycle, the 49ers came away with the splashiest addition. San Francisco showed off its Christian McCaffrey move against their rivals and second-place CMC finishers Sunday, with the versatile back joining Walter Payton and LaDainian Tomlinson as the only backs to complete the rush-catch-throw touchdown triple.

On the other end of that deal, the Panthers collected four draft picks for McCaffrey and two from the Cardinals for Robbie Anderson. Carolina now has two additional Day 2 choices from the McCaffrey swap, though the retooling team is believed to have passed on a Rams offer of two first-round picks for edge rusher Brian Burns. Was that the right call? Because the Rams could not acquire McCaffrey or Burns, they ended up as odd bystanders during an action-packed deadline.

The Dolphins sent the 49ers a fifth-rounder for Jeff Wilson, reuniting him with ex-San Francisco OC Mike McDaniel, but Bradley Chubb was Miami’s deadline prize. Seven months after they sent a first-rounder and change to the Chiefs for Tyreek Hill, the Dolphins became the first team since the 2019 Chiefs (Frank Clark) to send over a Round 1 pick for an edge defender. Chubb (5.5 sacks) will step in to take over as Miami’s pass-rushing anchor, while the Broncos obtained more than they did for Von Miller‘s one-time sidekick than they did for the future Hall of Famer. Denver, which collected first- and fourth-rounders and Chase Edmonds in this blockbuster, now has a 2023 first-round choice after previously being without first- or second-rounders next year due to the Russell Wilson trade.

The Bears vacillated between buyers and sellers over the past several days, unloading Ryan Pace-era defensive investments Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith but adding Chase Claypool. Chicago picked up second- and fifth-round picks from Baltimore for Smith but sent its own second to Pittsburgh for Claypool, beating out Green Bay’s offer of a Round 2 choice for the 238-pound wideout. The Bears, who still have a 2023 sixth-rounder left over from the Khalil Mack trade, will have three additional draft choices because of their activity this week.

Pittsburgh did well to obtain a second for Claypool, who turned out to carry considerable value on the market. Known aficionados of Day 2 wideouts, the Steelers can replenish their receiver cadre — or add in other areas — with two second-rounders next year.

Although the Browns nabbed Deion Jones in October for a low cost, the Ravens’ Smith addition headlined the AFC North’s moves. The Ravens had attempted to keep C.J. Mosley in 2019 and made Bobby Wagner a big offer this year. GM Eric DeCosta has his acclaimed linebacker now. Though, the Ravens could be faced with an interesting offseason predicament. They have now acquired a contract-year standout ahead of a franchise tag window in which Lamar Jackson will be expected to receive the tag.

Chicago’s Claypool addition was not the most interesting NFC North move. Due to the scarcity of intra-division trades, the Lions’ decision to send T.J. Hockenson‘s through-2023 contract to the Vikings may linger for a while. While most teams prefer to send key players out of the conference, or at least out of their division, Detroit — which partnered with Minnesota on April’s Jameson Williams trade-up — collected second- and third-round picks for Hockenson and multiple Day 3 choices. The Vikings will return to Detroit with Hockenson Dec. 11 and should be expected to discuss an extension with the Pro Bowl pass catcher, who will team with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen on the 6-1 squad.

The Bills made two pre-deadline moves, acquiring Nyheim Hines and reuniting with safety Dean Marlowe, while the Falcons added a player (cornerback Rashad Fenton) and dealt away two (Marlowe, Calvin Ridley). Jacksonville’s move qualifies as one of the most unique in recent NFL history, with Ridley suspended for gambling but also now part of a trade that could send a second-rounder to Atlanta if the once-promising receiver re-signs with the Jaguars. Ridley, who totaled 1,374 receiving yards in 2020, could be an interesting piece in the Jags’ Christian Kirk-led receiving corps. But he will apply for reinstatement next year having not played since midway through the 2021 season.

How much will the Chiefs pickup of injury-prone but electric wideout Kadarius Toney move the needle? Will the Jets’ James Robinson get do enough to fill the Breece Hall void? What team improved its situation the most during this year’s leadup to the deadline? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Poll: Which Sub-.500 Team Has Best Chance To Make Playoffs?

Particularly in the NFC, the early part of this season has brought considerable parity. Many would-be contenders have stumbled out of the blocks. Two 2-4 NFC squads — the Cardinals and Saints — will match up tonight in a game that will put the loser in an early-season bind.

A 2-4 start does not bring the historic uphill battle 0-3 does. Since the playoffs expanded to six teams per conference in 1990, four squads — including the 49ers last season and the 2019 Titans — have rebounded from that record to reach the conference championship round. The 1993 Oilers crafted a more remarkable pivot, rallying to earn a bye. No 2-4 team has ever reached a Super Bowl, however.

The Broncos are probably the most disappointing of the 2-4 lot. Their Russell WilsonNathaniel Hackett marriage has produced a spree of listless outings, leading to social media backlash and big-picture questions. Denver’s offense ranks 32nd in scoring and has particularly struggled coming out of halftime. The Broncos’ offense has accounted for three third-quarter points all season, turning up the heat on Hackett, who joined Kevin O’Connell and Dan Quinn as Broncos HC finalists.

This staggering unproductivity has marginalized a dominant defense, one that has seen 2021 draftees Patrick Surtain II and Baron Browning — after an offseason position change — take second-year leaps. Denver has the 18th-toughest schedule remaining, per Tankathon, though the team has both Chiefs contests still to come. As injuries mount for the once-promising team, its road to the playoffs appears difficult.

Cleveland and Pittsburgh join Denver at 2-4 but are just one game back of the AFC North lead. The Browns’ controversial Deshaun Watson acquisition led most to temper expectations for this season, with Watson banned 11 games. Cleveland also enjoyed a favorable early-season schedule, but the Jacoby Brissett-led team is 1-3 in games in which it has been favored. The Browns (10th-easiest remaining schedule, record-wise) brought back Jadeveon Clowney this offseason and have Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward on top-market contracts. Both Garrett and Ward have missed time, and Joe Woods‘ defense ranks 30th. Although the Browns have hoarded cap space — likely because of Watson’s contract — their quarterback-in-waiting’s cap number spikes from $9.4MM to $54.9MM from 2022 to ’23, placing a bit more emphasis on this season’s result.

The Steelers (11th-easiest remaining schedule) upset the Buccaneers despite most of their secondary joining T.J. Watt in missing Week 6, but the team is making a transition at quarterback. The Steelers’ Mitch Trubisky acquisition, his Week 6 rally notwithstanding, did plenty to create the early-season hole. Kenny Pickett figures to make the bulk of the starts the rest of the way for a team that has not finished under .500 since 2003.

Initial Jaguars optimism has faded somewhat, after a three-game skid. Trevor Lawrence has climbed to 13th in QBR, from 28th as a rookie, and Travis Etienne‘s health is starting to pay dividends. The front-seven investments the Jags made this year have led to improved talent defensively; Mike Caldwell‘s unit ranks ninth in points allowed. Jacksonville (13th-toughest remaining schedule) also plays in a division featuring winning teams with major questions, though its perennial struggles against presumptive non-threat Houston indicates Doug Pederson‘s team may be at least a year away from contending.

Aside from the Broncos, the Raiders (minus-5 in point differential) are probably the most interesting team here. Las Vegas’ new regime paid up for Davante Adams and extended prior-regime investments Derek Carr, Darren Waller and Maxx Crosby. Those moves have thus far led to close losses. The Raiders (ninth-easiest remaining schedule) are 1-4, with their Patrick Graham-coordinated defense ranking 28th. The AFC West does not appear as menacing as initially projected, and 1-4 is not the death sentence 0-3 is historically. But this Raiders retooling effort will need multiple offseasons, the next one including (presumably) a first-round pick.

Rallies against the Falcons and Raiders, respectively, lifted the Saints and Cardinals to 2-4. Both teams are also just one game out in their parity-fueled divisions.

Arizona’s three-extension offseason (Kyler Murray, Kliff Kingsbury, Steve Keim) has not instilled much confidence this will be the year the Murray-led operation becomes a serious threat. Arizona (15th-toughest remaining schedule) ranks 22nd both offensively and defensively, and its DeAndre Hopkins-less receiving corps led to numerous pass-catching combinations. The team has traded for both Marquise Brown and Robbie Anderson, but the Hopkins sidekicks will not share the field together for a while due to Brown’s injury. Kingsbury is already considering ceding play-calling duties.

The Saints (seventh-easiest remaining schedule) have again run into receiver staffing issues. Jarvis Landry has missed most of the season, and Michael Thomas‘ foot injury will lead to Thursday being the former All-Pro’s 29th missed game since 2020. Jameis Winston‘s back fractures have turned Andy Dalton into New Orleans’ regular starter. While the Dalton investment (one year, $3MM) has proven important, Dennis Allen‘s defense — a top-five unit in each of the past two seasons — ranks 29th.

Do any of the other sub-.500 teams — most of which residing in the rebuilding sect — have a chance to rebound this season? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this year’s collection of struggling teams in the comments section.