Week In Review

5 Key Stories: 7/16/23 – 7/23/23

The opening of some NFL training camps capped off a busy seven-day period around the league. In case you missed any of the top developments from the past week, here’s a quick recap:

  • Commanders Sale Goes Through: The long-awaited purchase of the Commanders by Josh Harris was ratified during a special league meeting, and the sale went through the following day. That marked an end to the Dan Snyder era in Washington, with the embattled ex-owner being issued a $60MM fine stemming from the results of the Mary Jo White report. Her probe into Snyder and the Commanders found evidence of sexual harassment on Snyder’s part, and of revenue being withheld from the league by the team. Harris – already the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils – will now look to take the team in a direction far away from the 24-year one it had under Snyder, marked by scandals and a lack of postseason success. The $6.05 billion price tag represents another North American record for franchise sales, comfortably topping Rob Walton’s winning bid ($4.65 billion) for the Broncos from last year.
  • No Deadline Deals For Franchise-Tagged RBs: Monday represented the final day for franchise tag recipients to sign a long-term deal. No such agreement came to fruition for Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs or Tony Pollard, however, putting them on track to earn $10.1MM on the one-year tender in 2023. The Giants came much closer to a deal with Barkley than the Raiders did with Jacobs, but the key question in both cases now is how much time they will spend away from their teams. Both backs have stated a willingness to sit out regular season games – missing out on $561K per week in the process – amidst their frustrations with the RB market. Pollard, by contrast, is obligated to attend Cowboys training camp having already signed his franchise tag.
  • Titans Win Hopkins Sweepstakes: Tennessee emerged as DeAndre Hopkins‘ destination when the parties agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $32MM. High performance thresholds are in place via incentives, but the $12MM in guaranteed compensation for this season helped convince the All-Pro wideout to join the Titans rather than teams such as the Patriots, Chiefs and Bills. Those clubs were unwilling to offer as much up front as Tennessee was, so Hopkins’ return to the AFC South will give them a signficant boost in the passing game. The 31-year-old will aim to put his injury- and suspension-related absences of the recent past behind him, while helping the Titans’ offense in the process. Doing so could lead to further individual accolades for the five-time Pro Bowler and help his new team return to the postseason.
  • Steelers Extend Highsmith: After a busy offseason seeing several additions, the top remaining priority for the Steelers was finalizing a second contract for Alex Highsmith. They did just that by signing him to a four-year, $68MM extension which includes $27.7MM in guaranteed money. Pittsburgh already has the league’s most expensive edge rusher (in terms of AAV) with T.J. Watt, but his sack partner is now on the books through 2027. Highsmith, a former third-round pick, has taken a step forward in production during each of his three seasons, putting him firmly on the radar for a new deal. Both he and the team expressed a desire to work out an extension before training camp, and with that business settled Highsmith can now turn his attention to continued progression and what would be a second consecutive double-digit sack campaign.
  • Engram Avoids Tag With New Jaguars Deal: Unlike his running back counterparts, tight end Evan Engram was able to land a multi-year contract to take the place of the franchise tag. The Jaguars signed him to a three-year, $41.25MM deal. The guarantees in the pact ($24MM) are roughly the value of what he would have earned by playing on consecutive tags, but incentives could allow him to slightly outpace that mark. The 28-year-old turned his prove-it Jacksonville contract into a career year with 766 yards last season, an impressive showing after an up-and-down Giants tenure. Engram is well-positioned to continue his success for the intermediate term and he should remain a key member of the Jaguars’ offense as they look to repeat their playoff run from 2022.

5 Key Stories: 7/2/23 – 7/9/23

The NFL offseason continues to roll along, and a few notable developments regarding the top storylines around the league have taken place. Here’s a quick recap from the past week:

  • Dolphins, Others Eyeing Cook: The Dolphins still appear to be in pole position to sign free agent running back Dalvin Cook, and mutual interest exists for a deal to be finalized. However, the four-time Pro Bowler is not prepared to sign the Miami offer which is currently on the table. That could open the door to other suitors making a push for the former Viking, something the Jets and Patriots have explored. Cook is in no hurry to make a decision on his next destination, one which he has said will ideally involve a continuation of his role as a full-time starter. Training camp will likely be the point during which his intentions become clearer, but Miami has work to do to help a homecoming take shape for Cook while fighting off their division rivals in the process.
  • Barkley Extension Still Possible For Giants? Three franchise-tagged running backs are approaching the deadline to sign a long-term deal. One of those – Saquon Barkley – could find himself inking a multi-year contract with the Giants soon, though. There is optimism that this situation will avoid seeing the 26-year-old play on the $10.1MM tag in 2023. Barkley was a top priority for New York at one point, but their lucrative extension for quarterback Daniel Jones has left him short on leverage throughout the offseason. The former No. 2 pick earned another Pro Bowl nod while helping lead the team to the second round of the postseason last year, but his injury concerns and the positional value of RBs as a whole have led to frustrating moments during negotiations from Barkley’s perspective. He and the Giants have until July 17 to work out an extension.
  • Commanders Sale Vote Remains On Track: A number of concerns have been raised regarding the Josh Harris bid to purchase the Commanders, but they appear to have been resolved. Harris’ agreement with outgoing owner Dan Snyder is scheduled to be voted on by the league on July 20, and that process is expected to produce unanimous ratification of the sale. Issues related to financing and the number of investors in Harris’ bid have been worked on since the $6.05 billion exclusive agreement was finalized, but the scheduling of a July vote illustrates the degree to which the NFL is satisfied with the deal as it stands. For the second straight offseason, then, the summer should see a special league meeting take place to approve a record-breaking franchise purchase.
  • Willis On Titans’ Roster Bubble? The Titans drafted a quarterback for the second consecutive year in 2023, adding Will Levis as their signal-caller of the future. That decision, in part, has left Malik Willis in danger of failing to make Tennessee’s roster out of training camp. The 2022 third-rounder was seen as a long-term project coming out of college, but his athletic upside was seen as a factor which could at least earn him a long look as a backup. The presence of Levis gives the team a succession plan to veteran Ryan Tannehill, however, and they could elect to only carry those two passers on the 53-man roster during the season. Needless to say, training camp and the preseason will go a long way in determining Willis’ future with the Titans.
  • Ingram Headlines Veteran Retirements: A number of accomplished NFLers announced that they are handing up their cleats in recent days, including running back Mark Ingram. The 33-year-old will try his hand at broadcasting with Fox Sports, putting an end to a 12-year playing career spent with the Saints, Ravens and Texans. Ingram leaves as New Orleans’ all-time rushing leader and a three-time Pro Bowler, and he will begin the next chapter of his football career rather than searching for a depth role as a player this summer. In addition, punter Kevin Huber (the all-time games played leader for the Bengals) as well as ex-Commanders center Chase Roullier have announced their respective retirements.

5 Key Stories: 6/25/23 – 7/2/23

The calendar has flipped to July, meaning training camps and a few other offseason checkpoints aren’t far away. In the meantime, some signficant developments have taken place around the league in recent days. Here’s a quick recap from the past week:

  • Colts’ Rodgers, Berry Waived Amidst Year-Long Suspensions: Isaiah Rodgers and Rashod Berry were given indefinite suspensions for violations of the league’s gambling policy. The pair were found to have wagered on NFL games, and Rodgers reportedly bet on Colts contests. In the wake of the bans being handed down, Indianapolis waived both players, falling in line with actions taken by the Lions earlier this offseason under similar circumstances. The news of Rodgers and Berry (along with free agent D-lineman Demetrius Taylor) being sidelined for at least the 2023 campaign marks the latest major gambling-related punishments to be handed down this year. Bans for NFL players and staff members have been a major storyline in recent months, as teams look to better educate members of both groups about the rules regarding gambling and the consequences of violating them.
  • Petit-Frere Suspended Six Games For Gambling: Continuing the theme of suspensions being handed down, Titans tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere was banned for six games. The 23-year-old placed wagers on non-NFL events while at the team’s facility, triggering the latest short-term punishment (relative to the indefinite ones) issues for gambling violations. Petit-Frere was a full-time right tackle starter as a rookie last year, and his absence to begin the campaign will be acutely felt by Tennessee. The Titans have a number of new faces along the offensive line after the unit was affected by the team’s cost-cutting measures this offseason. A temporary replacement will need to be found for the Ohio State alum, one of many players set to miss considerable time in 2023 as violations of the gambling policy continue to be identified.
  • Howell Chosen As NFLPA Executive Director: The NFLPA has its new leader in place, with Lloyd Howell having been unveiled as executive director. The 57-year-old has no background in football, like his predecessor DeMaurice Smith, but he has a long track record working with the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm, one which has an existing relationship with the NFL. The union’s search for a new leader was shrouded in secrecy throughout the process, and the identities of the other finalists voted on remains unknown. Howell is in line to take over later this month, which will mark an end to Smith’s tenure; the latter had been in place since 2009. Talks on the next CBA, which is several years away, will be a key chapter in Howell’s new role.
  • Patriots Extend Parker: The Patriots took care of some business with their in-house veterans, including a new deal for wideout DeVante Parker. The 30-year-old inked a three-year extension with a maximum value of $33MM. Guarantees and bonuses account for $14MM on the new pact, one which will secure his future with the Patriots for years to come after his acquisition from the Dolphins via trade last offseason. The Parker deal is not expected to take New England out of the running for free agent DeAndre Hopkins, however. Parker will look to take a step forward in terms of production in 2023 after his middling debut campaign with the Patriots, something which holds true of the team’s passing attack as a whole.
  • Dolphins Submit Offer To Cook: Dalvin Cook has been linked to the Dolphins on a number of occasions this offseason, and he has an offer in place from Miami. The four-time Pro Bowler would add to the Dolphins’ running game considerably, though the team already has a number of options in place at the RB position. A homecoming would nevertheless allow Cook to fulfil his goal of operating as a starter, which could in turn boost his value for future contracts provided his next one will be short in length. Other suitors are in the mix, though, so his free agent process could very well extend beyond the beginning of training camp later this month.

5 Key Stories: 6/18/23 – 6/25/23

A number of developments have taken place over the past week concerning on- and off-the-field matters in the NFL. In case you missed anything, here’s a quick recap:

  • Bills Extend McDermott, Beane: The Bills will have stability on the sidelines and in the front office for years to come with head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane signing joint extensions. The pair are now under contract through the 2027 season, as their shared success has yielded another set of new deals. The Bills have been among the NFL’s elite since McDermott and Beane were hired in 2017, qualifying for the postseason five times during that span and reaching one AFC title game. With one of the NFL’s deepest and most balanced rosters, expectations will once again be high for them in 2023, though the AFC East in particular and the conference as a whole will provide signficant challenges. McDermott and Beane will enter the campaign assured of their long-term futures.
  • Owners To Vote On Commnaders Sale: A date has been arranged for the final step in the Commanders sale process. NFL owners will convene on July 20 to vote on the ratification of Josh Harris’ purchase of the franchise. The league’s finance committee is expected to provide a unanimous recommendation of green-lighting the sale, which should in turn result in full approval being given to the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner to take over from Dan Snyder. Issues related to finances have come up with the Harris bid since it was agreed to in May, but the decision to schedule the ratification vote for July points to optimism from all involved that they will be smoothed over soon. Provided the vote goes as expected, the sales process will reach its conclusion next month.
  • Giants, Raiders Contemplating Deals With Franchise-Tagged RBs: The deadline for signing franchise tag recipients to long-term deals is approaching, and the Giants and Raiders have decisions to make with running backs Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs, respectively. Both teams are still open to new contracts with their leading rushers, though Vegas has been much quieter to date in terms of negotiations relative to New York. Little is known with respect to the gap between Jacobs and the Raiders regarding extension talks, something which has been a source of frustration for the former. The Giants, meanwhile, have made (and pulled) offers to Barkley, limiting his leverage during negotiations which have dated back to the bye week of the 2022 campaign. All parties involved have until July 17 to reach agreement on new deals; otherwise, Barkley and Jacobs will earn $10.1MM on the one-year tender this year.
  • Cook Remains On Dolphins’ Radar: The Dolphins have previously been connected to Dalvin Cook on the trade front before his release from the Vikings, and they still are now that the veteran running back is a free agent. Miami has discussed a deal with the four-time Pro Bowler, something which would represent a homecoming and give the team a notable boost for their ground game. Cook was let go by Minnesota after no trade partner could be found, immediately leading to speculation that a Dolphins deal could soon follow. No other serious suitor has emerged to date, which could clear the way to a contract being worked out between the two sides. Miami sits mid-pack in terms of cap space at the moment, so they could absorb what should be a short-term pact for the 27-year-old.
  • Hopkins Free Agent Watch Continues: The free agent visits taken by DeAndre Hopkins have come and gone, but no deal has emerged as a result. The All-Pro wideout has met with the Titans and Patriots, and he is contemplating the standing offers made by each team. Hopkins, 31, is employing a patient approach which could allow him to draw further interest from other teams looking to bolster their passing attacks, though it remains to be seen how much value his next contract will have given how deep into the offseason his free agent process has lasted since his May release. Many contending AFC teams are in worse cap space than Tennessee and New England as things stand, which could hinder Hopkins’ market at least until training camp brings about injuries or surprise roster cuts.

5 Key Stories: 6/11/23 – 6/18/23

With minicamps having concluded, the NFL calendar is set to slow down before training camps open in July. There are still a number of storylines to keep track of around the league, though. In case you missed anything from the past week, here’s a quick recap:

  • Jets Fear ACL Tear For Clark: The Jets’ secondary took a blow when safety Chuck Clark suffered a knee injury which is feared to be an ACL tear. New York paid a modest price to trade for the 28-year-old this offseason since his starting days with the Ravens appeared to be numbered. A first-team spot awaited him with the Jets, however, and Clark was thus expected to be a key figure on the team’s defense, a unit facing signficant expectations this season. Given what should be a lengthy absence, the Jets reacted by signing Adrian Amos, another veteran who will provide them with an experienced contributor on the backend. For Clark, attention will turn to his return timeline and the beginning of the rehab process from the first major injury of his career.
  • Supplemental Draft To Return: For the first time since 2019, the NFL will conduct a supplemental draft. The event will take place July 11, and provide players deemed ineligible for the regular entry draft with an avenue to joining the league. In recent years in particular, few notable names have been selected in the summer draft, but several high-end players have taken this route over the course of its history. Only one player has been deemed eligible for the 2023 supplemental draft so far, but it will be interesting to watch how many others become available and how much interest they generate amongst NFL teams still eyeing additions to their rosters.
  • Chiefs, Jones In Extension Talks: One of the most signficant developments of the 2023 offseason has been the eruption in value for high-end defensive tackles. Several big-ticket extensions have been signed already, and another could be coming soon for Chris Jones. The four-time Pro Bowler is aiming for a new deal which will move him into second in the pecking order at the position (behind only Aaron Donald), something he can make a legitimate claim for given his continued production. The 28-year-old earned an All-Pro nod in 2022 and was a central part in Kansas City’s latest Super Bowl win. General manager Brett Veach indicated no timeline is in place for an extension, but he expressed optimism that a deal will get done allowing Jones to remain in Kansas City as one of the league’s highest-paid defenders.
  • Mutual Interest Between Hopkins, Patriots? DeAndre Hopkins concluded his two-day visit with the Patriots without signing a contract, but one appears to remain very much in play. New England hosted the 31-year-old wideout not long after Tennessee did the same, and mutual interest reportedly exists between player and team in the Patriots’ case. Hopkins would reunite with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien in the event he inked a deal with the AFC East outfit, something which would lead to questions about their relationship after the latter dealt him away from the Texans in 2020. Doubts have been quelled on that front, though, and Hopkins would represent a signficant addition to New England’s WR room. He is in no hurry to sign, so it may take several days or weeks to learn if the recruiting pitch on the part of current Patriots pays off.
  • Texans Extend Collins: Houston has once again made a multi-year commitment to Maliek Collins, having inked the veteran defensive tackle to another two-year extension. This latest pact contains an impressive $20MM in guranteed money, along with a notable raise in terms of annual compensation compared to his previous pact. The 28-year-old has been a full-time starter during his two seasons in Houston, racking up six sacks and 18 tackles for loss during that span. He will once again be depended upon as a central figure in a Texans defensive front which is expected to take a step forward in 2023 under new head coach DeMeco Ryans. Continued strong play against the pass in particular could also put Collins in line for another sizeable contract down the road.

5 Key Stories: 6/4/23 – 6/11/23

With June practices nearing an end, a few signficant developments have taken place around the league recently. In case you missed any of the top stories from the past week, here’s a quick recap:

  • Vikings Release Cook: After plenty of speculation about his future, the Vikings have officially parted ways with running back Dalvin Cook. The move came after no trade partner could be found, and resulted in $9MM in cap savings. Minnesota has moved on from a number of high-priced veterans this offseason, and the team previously hinted at their intensions of turning to Alexander Mattison as their new starter moving forward. Cook earned a fourth straight Pro Bowl nod in 2022, demonstrating his continued ability to serve as a productive lead back. He is now free to sign with a new team, and the Dolphins have frequently been named as a potential suitor. The free agent market at the RB spot has been modest, and a number of experienced options are still available, but the 27-year-old should be the subject of signficant interest in the coming days and weeks.
  • Broncos Sign Clark: Frank Clark’s tenure with the Chiefs came to an end as he took a one-year deal with the Broncos worth up to $7.5MM. The decorated edge rusher failed to earn a Pro Bowl nod in 2022, but he once again produced in the playoffs en route to winning another Super Bowl in Kansas City. He was a cap casualty at the start of the offseason, and Clark, 29, acknowledged that no new Chiefs offer representing a pay cut was made during his lengthy free agent period (one which included the team adding a first-round pass rusher for the second straight year). Now, he will turn his attention to a new AFC West team, one which has plenty of question marks along the edge entering the 2023 season. A strong showing in Denver could boost Clark’s value significantly ahead of another year on the open market.
  • Bills Add Floyd: Clark’s Broncos deal came not long after the Bills made their own notable addition on the edge. Leonard Floyd inked a one-year contract with a maximum value of $9MM. That will give Buffalo another veteran presence in the pass rush department alongside Von Miller, whose ACL recovery is in a good place at the moment. Floyd was a lone bright spot in the Rams’ edge contingent last season, but he was one of many expensive veterans the team moved on from this offseason. The 30-year-old has experience logging a heavy workload, but more of a rotational role may await him in Buffalo. A follow-up to his productive stint in Los Angeles would yield considerable benefits for the Bills, and likely boost Floyd’s market value ahead of next March.
  • Titans, Patriots To Host Hopkins: The first two teams prepared to host DeAndre Hopkins on a free agent visit have been revealed. The All-Pro wideout will meet with the Titans and Patriots in the coming days, as he searches for a new home. New England has been mentioned as a team to watch on the Hopkins front, but the same has not been the case to date for Tennessee. Either squad would be well-suited to add the 31-year-old given their struggles in the passing game last season, and they are each in better shape than the Chiefs and Bills with respect to cap space. The latter two teams would need Hopkins’ price to come down significantly to make a serious push to sign him, but the five-time Pro Bowler already has multiple suitors lined up. More could soon follow.
  • Harris Continues Making Progress On Commanders Purchase: The sales process of the Commanders has a number of hurdles left to clear, but positive steps have been taken in recent days. Josh Harris had a succesful meeting with the NFL’s finance committee, during which the outstanding issues related to the structure of his purchase agreement were discussed. The 76ers and Devils owner, who is slated to take over from Dan Snyder after the pair agreed to a $6.05 billion purchase price, pledged to make the requisite adjustments to satisfy the league. Once that has taken place, a special owners’ meeting aimed at ratifying the deal should be expected. With a deadline on the exclusivity of the Harris deal approaching, though, all parties have incentive to continue moving with urgency.

5 Key Stories: 5/28/23 – 6/4/23

As the calendar flips to June, a number of notable storylines remain around the NFL. In case you missed anything from the past week, here’s a quick recap:

  • Bills Extend Oliver: The latest major extension at the defensive tackle position has been agreed to, with Ed Oliver set to ink a four-year, $68MM deal. The former top-10 pick was already on the books for 2023 via the fifth-year option, but his long-term future is now secure. The pact includes $45MM in guarantees, a surprising figure given how Oliver’s career to date has been less impactful on the statsheet than the other young DTs who have inked big-money deals this offseason. The Bills are banking on Oliver continuing his career progression at the heart of what should be a strong defensive front while also hoping to enjoy relatively cost-effective play at the position given the changes in the market. Expectations will become even higher for the Houston product in the years to come now that his financial future is no longer in doubt.
  • Vikings Likely To Move On From Cook: The Vikings have parted ways with a number of high-profile veterans already this offseason, but they may not be done yet in that regard. Running back Dalvin Cook is expected to play elsewhere in 2023, even though he is still under contract in Minnesota at this point. A trade or release would yield cap savings for the Vikings, while also allowing them to hand the RB1 reigns over to Alexander Mattison, who inked a new deal in March. Cook, 27, had another productive campaign in 2022 by topping 1,100 rushing yards for the fourth straight season. The Dolphins are still a team to watch in terms of landing spots for the four-time Pro Bowler, but other suitors could emerge especially if he finds himself a free agent in the near future.
  • Hopkins Sweepstakes Continue: The most high-profile free agent at the moment is DeAndre Hopkins, making him the center of plenty of attention and speculation. The All-Pro wideout is, to no surprise, thought to be seeking a contract similar to the one-year deal Odell Beckham Jr. signed with the Ravens (worth a base value of $15MM guranteed). Such a pact would cost less than what Hopkins was owed before his Cardinals release, but it would be a challenge for any contending team to afford it. Despite that, the Bills and Chiefs continue to be named as frontrunners for the 30-year-old, who would represent a signficant boost to either team’s passing attacks in the talent-rich AFC. On the other hand, the Giants and Cowboys can likely be crossed off the list of expected destinations for Hopkins, who has also been linked to the Browns and Texans during his ongoing free agent process.
  • Giants, Barkley No Closer To Deal: The deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign multi-year deals is getting closer, but the Giants and Saquon Barkley are not on the cusp of getting an extension worked out. The Pro Bowl running back is set to earn $10.1MM on the tag this year, but he has turned down offers with significantly higher AAVs during extension talks. Now that quarterback Daniel Jones is under contract, the Giants have leverage in negotiating with Barkley, who had a career-year in 2022 as the team’s offensive focal point. No standing offer is on the table, and guarantees are likely the primary obstacle to both parties reaching agreement on a long-term deal. The sides have until mid-July to avoid Barkley playing on the tag in 2023.
  • Purdy Remains On Track To Retain Starting Role: One of the top storylines for the 49ers has been the recovery process for quarterback Brock Purdy. His progress on that front has reached the point where he has resumed throwing, putting him slightly ahead of schedule compared to post-surgery estimations. The 2022 ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ underwent UCL surgery in March, putting his Week 1 availability in serious doubt – something of particular concern considering the job he did after taking over QB1 duties midway through his rookie season last year. General manager John Lynch confirmed that, if healthy, Purdy will retain his spot atop the depth chart, despite the presence of former No. 3 picks Trey Lance and Sam Darnold on the roster. For now, things are lining up for Purdy to attempt a follow-up to his impressive debut campaign.

5 Key Stories: 5/21/23 – 5/28/23

Some notable developments concerning both on- and off-the-field matters took place over the past week. In case you missed anything, here’s a quick breakdown of the top headlines:

  • Cardinals Release Hopkins: DeAndre Hopkins was the subject of plenty of speculation this offseason, with many expecting a trade sending him out of Arizona. Instead, the Cardinals have cut the All-Pro wideout, leaving him free to join a new team on the open market. No trade could be worked out for the 30-year-old, whose contract was a sticking point in negotiations. By deciding not to designate Hopkins a post-June 1 release, the Cardinals will absorb just over $21MM in dead money next season, one in which the rebuilding team’s expectations will be very low. By doing so, however, Hopkins’ contract will come off the books entirely in 2024. The five-time Pro Bowler has been open about disclosing which teams he would prefer to join, but a number of suitors should be involved in his pursuit as contenders look to boost their passing attack late in free agency.
  • Chargers, Ekeler Agree To Reworked Deal: For much of the offseason, the future of Chargers running back Austin Ekeler in 2023 and beyond was in doubt. He will remain in Los Angeles for at least one more year, though, after adjusting his contract to include new performance incentives. The 28-year-old has been seeking a new deal placing him higher in the league’s RB pecking order; the inability of he and the Chargers to agree to an extension resulted in a trade request at the start of free agency. No market emerged, though, making it little surprise that he will play out the final year of his pact with the Chargers. Another highly productive two-way campaign could earn Ekeler over $1MM in new money, and help boost his stock ahead of free agency.
  • Goodell Nearing Another Extension: Much of the attention with respect to contracts is paid to players, coaches and front office personnel during this time of year, of course, but the NFL itself will have stability at the top for years to come. Commissioner Roger Goodell is in line to sign another extension, which will continue his tenure at the helm of the league through 2027. Goodell will have been in his position for more than 20 years by the end of that deal, making him the league’s second-longest tenured commissioner. Controversies of many kinds have littered his time in charge, but the league’s financial growth on his watch has been substantial and appears poised to continue during the current CBA. The extension will likely not be officially approved until later this offseason, but it considered a done deal at this point by the owners, who are content to maintain the status quo once again.
  • Brady To Become Minority Raiders Owner: The post-playing future for Tom Brady is set to begin in the broadcast booth in 2024, but he could have a new title by that point. The now twice-retired quarterback has an agreement in place buy a stake in the Raiders. The 45-year-old has been linked to joining Vegas as a player at various times, but now he is set to occupy a front office role alongside owner Mark Davis. The pair already have a working relationship given their shared ownership of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, and now Brady will join an organization filled with connections to his Patriots past. Questions will be raised about a return to the playing field, along with concerns over a potential conflict of interest once his FOX broadcasting endeavor begins, but league approval of Brady’s latest move appears set to take place in the near future.
  • Steelers Begin Highsmith Extension Talks: The Steelers already have one star pass rusher in T.J. Watt, but his running mate, Alex Highsmith, is due for a lucrative deal of his own. The latter is now in talks for a Pittsburgh extension ahead of the final year of his rookie contract, one which has provided the team with tremendous value given his production. The 25-year-old has set a new personal mark in sacks with each passing season, recording 14.5 last season (many of which came with Watt sidelined). Highsmith should be in line for a considerable raise, though it could become challenging for the Steelers to afford him given the league-leading $28MM AAV of Watt’s contract. Pittsburgh has remained adamant that Highsmith is part of their long-term plans, and the team has a history of working out big-money deals with impact players ahead of their walk years. A continuation of that trend would give them one of the league’s top edge rushing duos for years to come.

5 Key Stories: 5/14/23 – 5/21/23

As the offseason roles along, teams continue to make important decisions shaping their rosters, while other storylines take shape as well. Here’s a quick recap of the top headlines from the past week:

  • Brown Dies At 87: The NFL said goodbye to one of its greatest players when it was learned that Jim Brown passed away peacefully at the age of 87. The former Browns running back was one of the league’s first superstars, and his immense success remains well-known to this day. A three-time MVP, Brown led the league in rushing yards during eight of his nine seasons, and is still the only back to average over 100 rushing yards per game over the course of his career. Aside from his on-field brilliance at both the pro and college levels, his legacy includes acting and social activism during his post-playing days. It also, on the other hand, involves multiple arrests for violence against women. Overall, Brown will be remembered as an iconic figure regarding his impact on the NFL as it moved toward the Super Bowl era, along with a number of other positive and negative developments following his sudden retirement at the age of 30.
  • Ryan To Step Into Broadcast Booth: While he is leaving the door open to a new deal as a player, quarterback Matt Ryan appears set to begin the next phase of his football career. The 37-year-old will work as an analyst for CBS in 2023, absent an offer from a team to suit up for one more campaign. Ryan’s 14-year tenure with the Falcons ended last offseason, and expectations were relatively high for him upon his arrival in Indianapolis. His time with the Colts was forgettable to say the least, however, and his new team made the expected decision to release him in March. Ryan, the NFL’s MVP in 2016, will earn $12MM from the Colts this season while transitioning to the broadcast booth.
  • Saints Negotiating Final Jordan Deal? Cam Jordan has one year remaining on his current contract, but another extension keeping him in New Orleans could be hammered out in the near future. The 33-year-old has established himself as one of the top players in franchise history, but he indicated his next contract will likely be his last with the team. Jordan is the all-time Saints sack leader, and remains in line for a pivotal role on their defense for at least the short-term future. The eight-time Pro Bowler’s ability to add further to his individual accolades will be dictated by the outcome of contract talks, and attention could increasingly turn to his pursuit of a Super Bowl ring if his upcoming extension does indeed mark the beginning of the end of his career.
  • Steelers Maintain QB Depth Chart: Kenny Pickett is in place as the Steelers’ starting quarterback for the foreseeable future, but many expected at least one change to be made to the team’s depth chart at the position this offseason. Instead, Pittsburgh will once again have Mitch Trubisky as its backup, after agreeing to a new extension which will keep him under contract through 2025. Trubisky will earn $8MM in guranteed money this season, but incentives could push the contract’s total value to $33MM. Meanwhile, third-stringer Mason Rudolph declined the opportunity to seek out a new environment (and with it, a better chance at playing time) by inking to a new deal of his own. For at least one more season, the Steelers’ QBs room will look identical to its 2022 iteration.
  • Harris Continues To Wait For Ratification Of Commanders Bid: Given the timing of Josh Harris‘ signed deal with Dan Snyder to purchase the Commanders, few expected the agreement to be formally ratified during the upcoming league meetings. Indeed, no timeline currently exists for a vote to take place regarding the sale, which carries a record-shattering price of $6.05 billion. Issues have arisen regarding the structure of Harris’ proposed agreement, but the widespread belief remains that it will be approved by the summer largely due to the desire on the part of other owners to put an end to Snyder’s tenure at the helm of the franchise. The vetting process of investors supporting Harris will go a long way in bringing the sale across the finish line.

5 Key Stories: 5/7/23 – 5/14/23

A number of intriguing developments have taken place around the league in recent days. In case you missed any of the top headlines from the past week, here’s a quick recap:

  • Snyder, Harris Sign Commanders Sale Agreement: The sale of the Washington Commanders took another step forward with Dan Snyder and incoming owner Josh Harris announcing that they have signed an exclusive sale agreement. Harris has long been expected to take over the embattled franchise this offseason, but this latest development leaves only ratification by the league’s other owners as the final hurdle yet to be cleared. That process may not take place at the next owners’ meetings later this month, but it is nevertheless expected to occur rather smoothly. The $6.05 billion price for the team is another North American sports record, and Harris will join the league after finishing as a runner-up for the Broncos last offseason. Attention will increasingly turn, meanwhile, to the outcome of the latest investigations into Snyder and the Commanders, and the degree to which his alleged misconduct becomes public as he transitions away from his 24-year ownership tenure.
  • Vikings Deal Smith To Browns: Cleveland has made it a priority to add to their front seven this offseason, and that endeavor has now resulted in the trade acquisition of veteran edge rusher Za’Darius Smith from the Vikings. A swap of Day 3 picks helped send the three-time Pro Bowler back to the AFC North, after his stint in Minnesota lasted only one season. Smith, 30, requested earlier this year to be released by the Vikings despite the presence of two more years on his contract and having recorded double-digit sacks for the third time in the past four seasons. The former Raven and Packer will give Cleveland a proven pass-rushing presence opposite Myles Garrett, and compliment the free agent signing of Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Minnesota will now lean increasingly on their own March addition, Marcus Davenportas both teams look to take a step forward on defense in 2023.
  • Texans To Extend Mason: The Texans continue to invest in their offensive line, and their right guard spot will be secure for years to come. Shaq Mason agreed to a three-year, $36MM extension, which will keep him on the books through the 2026 campaign. That accord is another notable one for the longtime Patriot, who had a one-year stint in Tampa Bay last season. One of the few healthy members of the Buccaneers’ offensive front in 2022, the 29-year-old confirmed his status as one of the better guards in the league. He was traded to Houston earlier this offseason in a cost-shedding move, though, allowing him to join a young interior o-line with the Texans. Mason, along with 2022 first-rounder Kenyon Green and second-round rookie Juice Scruggs, figure to be in the team’s plans at guard and center, respectively, for the foreseeable future.
  • Saints Sign Moreau: Not long after his decision to step away from football following a cancer diagnosis, tight end Foster Moreau signed with the Saints. The 26-year-old got a three-year, $12MM deal, which demonstrates how confident he and the team are that a full recovery from Hodgkin’s lymphoma will take place. Moreau will be reunited with quarterback Derek Carr after the pair played together with the Raiders, and the former has a path to signficant playing time on his new team. It was during a Saints free agent visit that Moreau was originally diagnosed, but talks between the parties on a potential contract picked up again after New Orleans traded away Adam Trautman. Moreau could be on the field as early as OTAs later this month, but even if not, his presence will be welcomed on a number of fronts.
  • Chargers Remain Intent On Retaining Ekeler: One of the ongoing storylines around the league has been the standing trade request from Chargers running back Austin Ekeler. The 27-year-old is seeking a new contract, one which will likely come from another organization on the free agent (rather than trade) market. Ekeler is thus expected to remain in Los Angeles for the 2023 campaign, as confirmed by general manager Tom Telesco. The latter made clear that the team has no intention of seeking out a trade partner, despite having granted the two-time touchdown leader permission to do so. Ekeler – who has amassed over 1,500 scrimmage yards in three of the past four seasons – is due $6.25MM this season, but could play his way into a larger figure (relative to the depressed RB market) with another strong campaign with the Bolts.