Jalen Hurts

Eagles Want To Extend QB Jalen Hurts

While they weren’t able to win it all this year, the Eagles were able to convincingly establish themselves as the NFC’s best team. Though a top-10 defense and strong offensive position groups certainly helped Philadelphia dominate this year, the development of third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts was perhaps one of the biggest reasons they were able to find success in 2022. The team has no intentions of allowing their second-team All-Pro quarterback to leave anytime soon, according to Bo Wulf of The Athletic.

Hurts was the team’s second-round selection in 2020, meaning that, unlike many starting quarterbacks around the league, there is no fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Hurts’s upcoming fourth season will be a contract year, barring an extension. While avoiding any guarantees, general manager Howie Roseman made it clear that extending “one of (their) best players” was a leading priority for the Eagles in the coming year, as reported in a tweet from Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

While likely still fresh on the minds of Eagles fans, Roseman ensured that the team’s recent experience with former quarterback Carson Wentz won’t “affect its thought process with Hurts.” The situation in question deteriorated so quickly following Wentz’s long-term agreement that he was traded before he even got the chance to play under it. Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports quoted Roseman saying“We have a good sense of what we need to do here. We have a little bit of time to figure it out.”

So, what does a long-term deal for Hurts look like? That is an interesting question with lots of different factors. Firstly, looking at his fellow quarterbacks throughout the league, his Super Bowl opponent, Patrick Mahomes, currently leads the league in overall contract value. The year Hurts was drafted, Mahomes signed a ridiculous 10-year, $450MM contract. Both Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Bills quarterback Josh Allen received new deals the following year with annual average values that failed to reach Mahomes’s $45MM per year or 10-year length.

Last year, though, saw four quarterbacks receive contracts that surpassed Mahomes’s deal in AAV and guaranteed money at signing. In fact, two of the deals nearly doubled what Mahomes received in guaranteed money at signing. Now, Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, who had the entirety of his five-year, $230MM contract guaranteed at signing, has since proven to be an anomaly. None of the other three contracts even came close to that number or percentage of guaranteed money, even in Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘s relatively short-term three-year, $150.82MM contract.

Also, aside from Mahomes and Rodgers, who are extremes on opposite ends of the spectrum for term of a new contract, the other three contracts with an AAV higher than $45MM are all five-year deals. That gives an idea of what length we should expect for a Hurts-extension. In terms of value, Hurts’s statistics are entirely far off from what Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray did in the season before he was extended. That’s really the only comparison we can look at. We’ve already established that Watson’s deal was an anomaly (he didn’t even play the year before his new deal was signed) and, though Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson‘s numbers were also similar in the year prior to his new deal, Wilson and Rodgers both have long careers of prior regular and postseason success on which to base their deals.

Murray’s stats are extremely similar to Hurts. Both have shown the ability to produce with their legs while not overly relying on them. In each of their full seasons as starters, both quarterbacks have surpassed 3,000 yards passing, a feat fellow rushing quarterback Lamar Jackson has only accomplished once.

Murray showed more historic consistency with higher passing numbers averaging over 3,700 passing yards per year over his first three seasons, while Hurts’s 3,701 passing yards this season were his highest by far. Hurts, though, has shown more consistency with his legs and more consistency protecting the ball. In each of the past two seasons, Hurts has rushed for over 700 yards and reached double-digit rushing touchdowns while throwing single-digit interceptions.

The last big factor that leans in Hurts’s favor is regular and postseason success. In Murray’s first three seasons as a starter, he made the postseason once and exited in the first round. Hurts has started two full seasons and made the postseason both times. After a first-round exit last year, Hurts led his team to the Super Bowl in Year 2.

Regardless of it all, to hold onto a winning quarterback in the year 2023, you’re going to have to shell out the big bucks. An extension is likely going to range from four to six years, leaning closer to six if you’d like to keep your quarterback happy, with an average from $40-50MM per year. Based on all the factors listed above, I would expect a new contract for Hurts to be six years and average around $47-48MM per year with about $100-120MM guaranteed at signing.

Roseman and the Eagles have made it known, they’d like to hold on to Hurts long-term. They have the option of following the Ravens lead and allowing him to play out his contract and find the best deal for both parties, but if they want to avoid the media circus that’s plagued Jackson and the Ravens, they’re going to have to put their money where their mouth is.

Eagles, Jalen Hurts To Discuss Extension

Five years after building a Super Bowl-winning roster around Carson Wentz‘s rookie contract, the Eagles are back on the NFL’s biggest stage thanks to a similar formula. Jalen Hurts, who replaced Wentz late in the 2020 season, has piloted the team back to the Super Bowl and is now in a contract year.

The Eagles will not have as much flexibility with Hurts compared to their Wentz negotiation window, with their current starter’s contract not including the fifth-year option. After a 2022 offseason that included links to high-profile passers, the Eagles are prepared to move forward with Hurts. They are planning to meet with Hurts’ agent about an extension this offseason, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link).

After struggling down the stretch last season and undergoing ankle surgery last winter, Hurts entered the 2022 offseason with a somewhat uncertain future. The Eagles looked into Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson; the team’s Watson research dates back to the 2021 season. Watson ended up not waiving his no-trade clause for the Eagles. Ownership advised the Eagles against bringing in Hurts competition that year, and the former Alabama and Oklahoma dual threat showed promise. After the Eagles built a roster comparable to 2017’s this past offseason, they are 16-1 in Hurts starts and one win away from their second Super Bowl title. The dramatic leap Hurts has taken puts him in commanding position for an extension.

Seeming like they surfaced years ago, the franchise’s connections to other QBs and doubts about Hurts are in the past. There is no longer any doubt about Hurts’ future in Philadelphia, Rapoport adds, and the team’s increased faith in the former second-round pick will lead to big numbers being thrown around soon.

Philly moved early on Wentz, locking the former No. 2 overall pick down with an extension in June 2019. That $32MM-per-year contract was not a top-market pact at the time, but it was not far off Wilson’s then-NFL-high $35MM-AAV accord. The Wentz deal did not work out for the team, though Philadelphia managed to collect first- and third-round picks for him in 2021. The Eagles are now free of Wentz dead money, but the Hurts deal will again change the franchise’s payroll.

Hurts, 24, becomes extension-eligible in the same offseason in which Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert do, and Lamar Jackson remains without a long-term deal. These passers will be linked for the foreseeable future, and contracts that start with a “5” will be tossed around. Aaron Rodgers remains the only NFLer tied to a $50MM-per-year contract — a short-term, uniquely structured one at that — but that will almost certainly change soon. The salary cap’s spike to $224.8MM represents good news for this quartet, among others in position to cash in, and the Eagles having a recent history of being proactive on extensions — as the deals for Wentz, A.J. Brown and a few offensive linemen have shown in recent years — should point to the Hurts talks becoming serious this offseason.

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts Expected To Start In Week 18

The Eagles’ opponents will not be at full strength when they take the field tomorrow, but Philadelphia is in line to have their starting quarterback available. Jalen Hurts is expected to start in the regular season finale, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.

[RELATED: Giants To Rest Daniel Jones, Other Starters In Week 18]

Hurts has been out since Week 15 with a shoulder sprain, leaving the Eagles with Gardner Minshew as their top option at the position. The veteran has put up noticeable yardage totals during his two starts filling in for Hurts, but he took six sacks during last week’s loss to the Saints and has thrown as many interceptions (three) as touchdowns this year. Philadelphia has lost two straight, thus failing to clinch the top seed in the NFC along the way.

The Eagles will be heavily favored to guarantee themselves a first-round bye with a win on Sunday, however, with Hurts back in the fold and the Giants being locked into the No. 6 spot, leaving them with no need to play their first-stringers. Philadelphia will also have safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and defensive end Robert Quinn available after they were activated from IR earlier today, providing a boost to their defense.

Hurts was quickly reported to be in danger of missing multiple games as a result of the injury, but he made a push to return in time for last week’s contest against New Orleans. The fact that tomorrow’s game still carries seeding implications partially explains his presumed availability, of course, but the 24-year-old would have faced a month-long absence in the (likely) event the Eagles still wound up with the No. 1 seed and its associated bye week after another game with Minshew at the helm.

Notably, Garafolo adds that the Eagles plan to start Hurts with the hope of building a significant lead early on. That will allow him to get some game action in the lead-in to the postseason, while also allowing Philadelphia to replace him with Minshew after the result is no longer in doubt. Should that scenario not play out, though, they are confident in Hurts’ status with respect to his recovery and low risk of re-injury.

The former second-rounder put himself squarely in the MVP conversation prior to getting hurt, totaling 3,472 passing yards and a 22:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His improvement in the passing game has been coupled with an additional 747 yards and 13 scores on the ground, making him one of the league’s top dual-threat QBs and the focal point of the team’s offense. Should he return to full health in time for the postseason, the Eagles will be well-positioned for a deep playoff run.

Eagles’ Jalen Hurts Unlikely For Week 17

DECEMBER 30: Although the Eagles have kept their cards close to the vest regarding Hurts’ New Year’s Day availability, they effectively declared their intentions Friday. Philadelphia lists Hurts as doubtful to face New Orleans this week. Minshew looks set to make his fourth start as an Eagle, with the team one win away from locking up home-field advantage with a backup quarterback for the second time in six years. Unlike 2017, however, Philly’s starter is expected to lead the Super Bowl push.

DECEMBER 25: The Eagles failed to lock up the top spot in the NFC with their loss to the Cowboys yesterday, bringing the status of their quarterback into question for the remaining contests of the regular season. With something still to play for, Jalen Hurts could be back on the field on New Year’s Day.

Had Philadelphia clinched the No. 1 seed by beating Dallas, the team would have had the option of sitting Hurts for the remainder of the regular season as he continues to heal from a shoulder sprain suffered in Week 15. Instead, the door remains open (albeit slightly) for the Cowboys to win the division; meanwhile, the Vikings’ win on Sunday leaves them just one game behind the Eagles for the top spot in the conference and associated bye week to begin the postseason.

Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported yesterday that Hurts would “push to play” against the Saints in Week 17 in the event that game still had playoff implications (video link). Likewise, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network adds that there is a “real chance” the MVP candidate could suit up on Sunday (video link). That would represent a quick turnaround relative to the initial prognosis Hurts was given, which pointed to a two-week absence being likely.

At 13-2, the Eagles are still in pole position to win the NFC. Their offense also put up 27 points and 442 yards yesterday with Gardner Minshew at the helm, demonstrating the unit’s potential without Hurts in their matchup with the Saints. A return from the latter would nevertheless be a welcomed sight, given his substantial step forward taken this season in terms of production. The 24-year-old has totaled 3,472 passing yards and 22 touchdowns this season, adding 747 yards and 13 scores on the ground. Those figures have made him a Pro Bowler for the first time in his career, and put the Eagles squarely in Super Bowl contention.

Hurts’ participation in practice over the coming days will be worth monitoring closely. His ability to play through the pain caused by the injury will likely determine whether or not the Eagles dress him against the Saints, whose playoff fate has yet to be determined despite their 6-9 record. Even if Minshew starts once again, therefore, there will be plenty to play for next Sunday.

Eagles To Start Gardner Minshew In Week 16

Jalen Hurts‘ shoulder injury will lead to the MVP candidate missing at least one game. Nick Sirianni said Thursday the plan is for the Eagles to start backup Gardner Minshew against the Cowboys.

The former Jaguars starter whom the Eagles acquired via trade last year, Minshew has made two starts with Philadelphia. Sirianni’s decision will wrap a regular season that will have featured two Cowboys-Eagles games involving backup quarterbacks. Cooper Rush faced Hurts in October, as Dak Prescott rehabbed his thumb injury.

While the Eagles are going week to week with Hurts, it is possible he either misses multiple games or does not return until the playoffs. During a Week 15 game in which Hurts matched his season-high with 17 carries, he suffered a shoulder sprain in the third quarter. Hurts finished the game, and it is believed he could play through this were Philly’s Christmas Eve Dallas rematch a must-win game. But the Eagles hold a three-game lead on the Cowboys in the NFC East and are essentially three up in the home-field advantage race, thanks to an early-season win over the 11-3 Vikings, so Hurts-related caution can take place.

This will become a pivotal game for Minshew, who is on track for free agency in March. The former Jags sixth-round pick has been a quality backup with the Eagles, after flashing frequently on struggling Jacksonville teams during his first two seasons. Although Urban Meyer continued to give Minshew first-team reps for much of the 2021 offseason, Trevor Lawrence‘s expected ascent coming to pass led to a Minshew trade. The Eagles acquired the Washington State product for a conditional draft choice last year. It became a sixth-rounder after Minshew did not play at least 50% of Philly’s offensive snaps in three games last season.

Minshew, 26, did clear the 50% barrier in two games last season — both starts. He filled in for Hurts, who was battling an ankle injury, against the Jets and started with a cast of Eagles backups against the Cowboys in Week 18. When playing with Philly starters in New Jersey, Minshew completed 20 of 25 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. That win helped an Eagles team that was not viewed especially highly entering last season into the playoffs.

After replacing an injured Nick Foles as a rookie in 2019, Minshew took over the Jags job for good later that season. In 14 games (12 starts) in 2019, the former Mike Leach pupil surprised most by throwing 21 touchdown passes compared to six interceptions. QBR rated Minshew in the bottom five that year, however, and the Jags went 1-7 in his 2020 starts en route to securing the following year’s No. 1 overall pick.

A multigame audition this season, backed by a well-built Eagles roster, could put Minshew on the radar to be a potential bridge option or at least up his value as a backup on the market. The Eagles host the Saints and Giants to close the season.

Eagles’ Jalen Hurts Suffers Shoulder Injury, Could Miss Multiple Games

The Eagles are the 15th team since the 1970 merger to start 13-1. Their September win over the Vikings currently gives them a three-game lead in the NFC’s home-field advantage race. This would allow for caution regarding injured players, and Jalen Hurts‘ status has now come up on this front.

This season’s MVP frontrunner suffered a shoulder sprain during the Eagles’ win over the Bears on Sunday, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo (via Twitter). This is not considered to be an injury that threatens Hurts’ playoff status, but the Eagles are preparing for the possibility Gardner Minshew starts against the Cowboys in Week 16 (Twitter link).

A Hurts return might take a bit longer, given the circumstances. The injury is to Hurts’ throwing shoulder, and with the team wanting him at full strength when he comes back, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane adds the third-year quarterback faces the prospect of missing Philadelphia’s next two games or being shut down until the playoffs. Were the Eagles to sit the MVP until the postseason, it would likely give him more than a month of recovery time. The divisional round begins Jan. 21.

Hurts suffered the injury on a third-quarter hit from Bears defensive end Trevis Gipson, who tackled the third-year passer on one of his 17 carries — which matched a season-high mark — in Week 15. While Hurts has made considerable strides as a passer this season, his rushing ability is a major part of Philly’s offense. The former second-round pick has amassed 747 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, three of those coming against the Bears on Sunday. Hurts, however, has either been hit or tackled 184 times this season, per ESPN, with that total ranking behind only Justin Fields and Daniel Jones.

Minshew started one game in relief of Hurts last season, filling in after Hurts suffered an ankle injury. The former Jaguars draftee should be viewed as likely to make another start Saturday, McLane adds. Hurts, who was not quite as effective after returning from that injury last year, underwent ankle surgery this offseason. He has removed previous doubt about an ability to be a high-end starting quarterback, and the Eagles have a recent history of securing a No. 1 seed without their starting quarterback. Nick Foles replaced Carson Wentz to land the NFC’s top seed five years ago. Wentz was on the cusp of MVP acclaim when he went down with an ACL tear, but Foles ended up lifting the team to a Super Bowl title. It does not appear the Eagles will need to consider Minshew for the playoffs, however, representing obvious good news for the league’s only team with fewer than three losses.

The Eagles host the Saints in Week 17, and the Giants will visit Philly to close out the regular season. Minshew went 20 of 25 for 242 yards and two touchdowns in his start against the Jets last season. He also started in Week 18 against the Cowboys, as the Eagles rested starters. After Dallas was forced to start Cooper Rush in its early-season matchup in Philadelphia, it is looking like this high-profile rivalry will not involve a Hurts-Dak Prescott duel this time around either.

NFC East Notes: Toney, Eagles, Commanders

Kadarius Toney did not make the trip to London with his Giants teammates, and Brian Daboll offered another discouraging update regarding the 2021 first-round pick’s status. Toney is battling a new injury, with Daboll indicating the reason he did not make the trip is due to a Wednesday tweak of his previously non-injured hamstring (via SNY’s Connor Hughes, on Twitter). Toney is now dealing with injuries to both his hamstrings, and ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan adds (via Twitter) the shifty wideout said the hamstring issue he entered the week with was different from the one that plagued him this offseason. That would add up to three hamstring problems since camp.

Toney has yet to sustain a serious injury as a pro, but he has fast become one of the league’s most unavailable players. Quadriceps and oblique injuries sidelined him for seven combined games last season, and an ankle malady forced him out of another game. Toney missed much of last year’s training camp with a hamstring injury and underwent a knee scope this offseason. The Giants’ current regime is souring on the Dave Gettleman-era investment, who is signed through 2024.

The Giants will be without ToneyKenny Golladay and Wan’Dale Robinson against the Packers in London. The second-round rookie, who has not played since Week 1, will likely be out again. While Golladay will almost certainly not be part of next year’s Giants team, it is worth wondering if Toney will be. Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • The Giants wanted DeVonta Smith last year, but the Eagles traded in front of them. Philadelphia was able to begin wheeling and dealing to land the Heisman winner after its apparent Week 17 tanking effort the year prior. That gave Philly the No. 6 overall pick, though Doug Pederson was no longer with the team by that draft. Pederson never informed Jalen Hurts of the plan to, after not dressing Carson Wentz that night, take him out and play third-stringer Nate Sudfeld, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. Pederson benching Hurts late in a close, nationally televised game bothered some in the organization, including then-DC Jim Schwartz. Some staffers also wondered if that decision would affect the Pederson-Hurts relationship going forward, McLane adds. That said, Pederson later expressed regret he did not go with Hurts sooner. As Wentz struggled during the 2020 season, the Eagles did not turn to Hurts until Week 14 that year.
  • Eagles management wanted to use the 2021 season to retool with younger talent, Zach Berman of The Athletic notes, while Pederson was behind a reload with a similar coaching staff. Pederson, who had resisted management’s wishes to oust Mike Groh during the 2020 offseason, wanted to promote Press Taylor to OC. That did not sit well with Jeffrey Lurie. Pederson has since hired Taylor as his Jaguars OC.
  • The Andrew NorwellTrai Turner guard reunion may end up being short-lived. The Commanders benched Turner in Week 4, and Ron Rivera said the move will carry over. Saahdiq Charles will start over Turner in Week 5, Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post tweets, with Rivera noting Turner is not fully over the quad injury he battled in camp. Turner nevertheless started from Weeks 2-4 and played 100% of the Commanders’ offensive snaps in Weeks 2 and 3. The former Rivera Panthers charge signed a one-year, $3MM deal this offseason, coming to Washington after one-year stays with the Chargers and Steelers. A third-year Washington O-lineman, Charles has started five career games

Latest On Eagles QB Jalen Hurts

With the QB carousel mostly complete, it seems pretty clear that Jalen Hurts will be under center for the Eagles next season. However, when asked about the quarterback position, owner Jeffrey Lurie didn’t necessarily give a ringing endorsement. While Lurie told Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the organization believes in Hurts because of his intangibles, he never mentioned Hurts’ on-field skills. The owner also asked “who knows what the future holds, right?”…which is something an owner with a franchise QB probably wouldn’t say.

We heard that the Eagles had done extensive research on Deshaun Watson, and McLane writes that the organization kicked the tires on Russell Wilson. However, the two QBs refused to waive their no-trade clauses to land in Philly, taking the Eagles out of the conversation. Still, these pursuits illustrate that the front office would certainly consider an upgrade at QB.

Some pundits have even suggested that Philly could look toward the draft for a signal-caller. McLane previously expressed doubt in this scenario, with the writer believing the Eagles could move one of their three first-round picks with eyes on QBs in the 2023 draft.

Hurts finished this past season with 3,144 yards and 16 touchdowns through the air, but also 784 yards and 10 majors on the ground – both of which ranked first in the league among quarterbacks. The 23-year-old injured his left ankle late in the season, casuing him to miss the following game. While that was his only injury-related absence, it affected his mobility throughout the latter stages of the campaign. We learned in February that Hurts was going to undergo surgery.

Eagles Made “Competitive Offer” For Marcus Williams; Latest On WR, QB Pursuits

The Eagles have signed edge defender Haason Reddick and wide receiver Zach Pascal this offseason and otherwise have been mostly quiet in terms of adding outside talent. But that hasn’t been for lack of trying.

As Tim McManus of ESPN.com (subscription required) writes, Philadelphia made an effort to sign former Saints safety Marcus Williams. Per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required), the Eagles made a competitive offer to Williams, who ultimately signed a five-year, $70MM contract with the Ravens.

GM Howie Roseman also took some big swings at other positions. We already knew that the club nearly completed a trade for Falcons wideout Calvin Ridley before news of his gambling suspension surfaced, and according to McLane, the Eagles also had interest in WR Robert Woods. Woods was under contract with the Rams and was recently traded to the Titans, but Los Angeles gave him a say in his next destination, and he chose Tennessee over Philadelphia.

Precipitating the Rams’ trade of Woods was the club’s acquisition of Allen Robinson, whom Roseman also pursued. But Robinson, like Woods and most other notable players changing teams this offseason, elected to go elsewhere.

As McLane writes, the Eagles’ status as an also-ran when it comes to this year’s open market talent pool is perhaps a function of how players outside the organization view Philadelphia’s chances to compete in 2022. And, of course, a team’s chances to compete are inextricably linked to that team’s QB.

While it is unfair to exclusively blame incumbent signal-caller Jalen Hurts for the Eagles’ inability to make more FA or trade acquisitions thus far in 2022, McLane confirms that the Eagles were interested in Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson, and he believes that Roseman will continue to do everything he can to find an upgrade over Hurts.

That could mean using one of his three first-round picks in next month’s draft on a passer, though McLane thinks that Roseman will not do so and will instead trade one of those picks to enhance his draft capital in 2023, when the QB prospects are expected to be better than this year’s crop. And assuming that the Eagles do not draft a quarterback this year, and do not view a trade candidate like Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield as a worthy investment, then Hurts will get another chance to prove his long-term value.

More Details On Deshaun Watson Sweepstakes; Latest On Baker Mayfield

Though there were four finalists for QB Deshaun Watson before the Browns and Texans completed the blockbuster trade that sent Watson to Cleveland, as many as 10 teams were reportedly interested in Watson’s services. In remarks he made following the trade, Houston GM Nick Caserio would not say exactly how many teams made inquiries, but he did note that the interest went beyond the Browns, Saints, Panthers, and Falcons.

“I would say there was a fair amount of teams, but what we tried to do was bring the teams that had a legitimate interest, and that was based off the compensation that was presented,” Caserio said (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “I don’t want to get into the exact number, but there was a few more, however many teams than what everybody was reporting towards the end.”

Caserio’s comments confirm what had been reported all along: only clubs that were willing to meet the Texans’ steep asking price (three first-rounders and more) were granted permission to have an in-person meeting with Watson. While that seems like the only logical move in hindsight, it was quite a masterstroke by Caserio. Had he allowed Watson to meet with all interested clubs, regardless of proposed compensation, Watson may have decided to waive his no-trade clause for only one team, thereby undermining Caserio’s leverage. But as Florio observes, by having a “pre-qualifying” process, Caserio guaranteed that he would get what he wanted before Watson truly got a say in his next destination.

Per Florio, the Colts put feelers out to the Texans, but Caserio was not willing to deal Watson within his division. Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports that the Eagles remained interested throughout the process, but Watson was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause for Philadelphia, largely because he is friends with Eagles QB Jalen Hurts and did not want to take away Hurts’ starting job. Wilson adds that the 49ers also placed a call to the Texans last year.

Caserio suggested that reports on the Texans’ being interested in players as well as picks in a Watson swap were at least somewhat overstated, saying, “I would say other than three first-round picks, I would say probably the rest of it was a little bit of speculation.” Still, Wilson reports that if Houston swung a deal with the Falcons, Atlanta CB AJ Terrell would have been intriguing to Caserio, and if the Saints had been able to acquire Watson, New Orleans OLs Erik McCoy and/or Cesar Ruiz might have been a part of the package heading back to the Texans.

In the end, the Browns, who were initially believed to be out of the running for Watson, were able to acquire the three-time Pro Bowler because they were willing to give him a contract — five years for a fully-guaranteed $230MM, which Wilson reports includes a $45MM signing bonus — that other teams were not comfortable matching. We heard at the time the Cleveland-Houston deal was consummated that the financial side of the equation became untenable for the Falcons and Panthers, and Wilson confirmed in a separate piece that Carolina was resistant to a fully-guaranteed pact.

Cleveland may have felt compelled to make such a bold strike because of an unsalvageable situation with Baker Mayfield. Mayfield requested a trade while the Browns’ courtship of Watson was ongoing, and when it appeared that Watson would not waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a move to northeast Ohio, the Browns indicated they would not accommodate the request. However, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes, Mayfield had no intentions of playing for the Browns in 2022 even if the club had not acquired Watson, and that reality could have forced Cleveland’s hand.

According to Cabot, the Browns had made it clear to Mayfield’s camp that they would pursue a top-flight QB this offseason, but that they were content to run it back with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 draft if such a pursuit were unsuccessful. Because it had been upfront with him about its intentions, the organization believed it could eventually smooth things over with Mayfield. As we heard last week, though, Mayfield declined owner Jimmy Haslam‘s offer to fly out to Mayfield’s home to discuss the situation, which was a clear indication that there was trouble in paradise.

Cabot further reports that the Watson situation and the team’s comments that it was looking for an “adult” at the quarterback position — thus implying that Mayfield is not, in fact, an adult — merely represented the final straw. Mayfield was said to have issues with HC Kevin Stefanski‘s play-calling and scheme, and as Stefanski will retain play-calling duties in 2022, Mayfield was prepared to skip the Browns’ offseason program and minicamp in an effort to force a trade to a team that has an offense more conducive to his skill-set. As Mayfield is eligible for free agency in 2023, the upcoming season is obviously critical for him, both from a financial and on-field perspective.

We recently learned that Mayfield would prefer to be traded to the Colts. Cabot suggests that, if Indianapolis GM Chris Ballard is interested, he may require the Browns to pay at least some of Mayfield’s $18.9MM salary, and since Cleveland has no choice but to deal Mayfield at this point, the team’s leverage in that regard and in terms of trade compensation is fairly limited.

Both Cabot and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times confirm that the Seahawks may be interested in Mayfield but are genuinely excited by Drew Lock, who recently came to Seattle in the trade that sent Russell Wilson to the Broncos. As for the Texans, Caserio was non-committal when asked if Davis Mills, who started 11 games as a rookie in 2021 and who showed marked improvement down the stretch, would remain Houston’s QB1. Nonetheless, Mills is expected to open the 2022 campaign as the starting signal-caller, despite Caserio’s comments that the team is “starting from scratch” at the most important position in sports.