- Plus, notes on Incognito to the Raiders, 2020 franchise tag numbers for Eli and Rivers, Brady’s derby photos and much more.
1. The one caveat you’d hear to the fast-moving Devin White-to-Tampa train before the draft was this: If Quinnen Williams were to drop into the Bucs’ laps, that would enable them to move on from Gerald McCoy. Other teams have been waiting for an outcome in the McCoy saga. He’s due a non-guaranteed $13 million this year (with $12.5 million due next year, and $12.9 million the year after), which has made him, basically, untradeable. And that’s not to say he can’t play anymore. He can, just not at the level that would justify that kind of pay. On top of that, the Bucs need cap relief; they have less than $2 million in cap room, and a rookie class that includes the fifth overall pick to sign. Bottom line: Chances are, McCoy isn’t a Buc this year.
2. Starting tomorrow, teams can sign players without it hurting their standing in the compensatory pick formula, and one name many have been eyeing is Ndamukong Suh. By the sounds of it, though, Suh’s asking price is high, which has contributed to his availability. If his price isn’t met, it will be interesting to see if he plays. Remember, Suh has never played on a deal with an APY of less than $10 million—he was on a five-year, $68 million deal as part of the last class to benefit from the pre-rookie wage scale days; signed a six-year, $114 million deal in Miami after that; then signed for one year at $14.5 million with the Rams last spring, after being cut midway through his Dolphins deal. He’s taken home at least $12 million in cash in each of the last six years, more than $20 million in cash in three of those years, and more than $25 million in two of those years. To be fair, he’s earned it. The guy hasn’t missed a start his entire career, outside of a two-game suspension in 2011.
3. Cam Newton is very close to being ready to throw again, but there’s no reason for the Panthers to rush him in the spring. They got good progress from Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen last year, and those two will get reps in Newton’s absence. Will Grier will join the fray next week. The important thing for Carolina is getting Newton in a position where he can hit the ground running in September, in his second year in Norv Turner’s offense.
4. Since we got Tom Brady’s franchise-tag number for 2020 in MMQB ($32.4 million), I figured we could help with the figures for two other old quarterbacks going into contract years. Based on their 2019 cap numbers, it will cost the Giants at least $27.6 million to tag Eli Manning next year, and the Chargers at least $27.84 million to tag Philip Rivers in ’20.
5. Richie Incognito could well wind up a Raider—his workout was Monday morning, and he had a physical in the afternoon. After touching base with a couple people around him, it sounds like the ex-Bills Pro Bowler is in a much better frame of mind than he was a few months ago. He could be the final piece to a really good Raiders offensive line.
6. Good for the XFL getting its broadcast deals lined up. That’s a nice step. But remind me not to overreact to opening week ratings next year, O.K.? Thanks.
7. Underrated part of the barrage of Tom Brady Derby picture analysis? The reconciliation between Kliff Kingsbury and his old Texas Tech quarterback, Baker Mayfield. Both rolled in Brady’s crew in Louisville. (Kliff, for his part, has always maintained love for Mayfield, but Mayfield held a grudge for a while.)
8. High picks should stand out athletically in rookie minicamp, and consider that box checked with Cleveland’s second-round pick, Greedy Williams. His movement skills flashed, as they should have—most people I’ve talked to considered him the most physically gifted of the corners in this year’s draft.
9. I wouldn’t underrate the impact of Brad Childress re-joining Matt Nagy’s staff in Chicago, after his cameo in the AAF. Last summer, our MMQB lead for the open of training camp was on Nagy’s think tank in Chicago—a group that would constantly bounce offensive concepts and ideas off one another. There were only three guys who were part of that: Nagy, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and Childress.
10. Listen to Cowboys COO Stephen Jones when he positions Ezekiel Elliott as the engine to the Dallas machine, as he did with Pro Football Talk. And then look at how much better everyone’s been—from Dak Prescott on down—when Elliott is really rolling. Part of Elliott’s value, of course, is that he’s playing with a young quarterback and a skill-position group that’s undergone a lot of upheaval the last three years. But the reality of the Cowboys’ situation is the reality of the Cowboys’ situation, and that team is built to rely on Elliott in a big way. If you ask me, they may be better off just biting the bullet now. That way, when he gets into his sixth and seventh years, they’d largely be out of the guaranteed money and have flexibility if he hits the wall, as some backs at that point do.
• Question or comment? Email us at email@example.com.