My first post-Julio mailbag! And you definitely had questions …
From Myles Powicki (@MylesPowicki): Would you rather have Mahomes with Allen’s supporting cast or Allen with Mahomes’s?
Myles, this is a really fun question. So let’s dive in. I’m assuming you mean just offense here, so on that premise, here’s what we’re looking at:
New Chiefs: QB Josh Allen; RBs Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams; WRs Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Cornell Powell; TE Travis Kelce; OLs Orlando Brown, Joe Thuney, Austin Blythe, Kyle Long, Mike Remmers, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Creed Humphrey.
New Bills: QB Patrick Mahomes, RBs Devin Singletary, Zack Moss; WRs Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders, Gabriel Davis; TEs Dawson Knox, Jacob Hollister; OLs Dion Dawkins, Jon Feliciano, Mitch Morse, Cody Ford, Daryl Williams.
Two things to add here. One, this scenario isn’t too far-fetched to imagine—it actually could’ve happened. The Bills kicked the tires hard on Mahomes, then dealt away the pick used to take him to Kansas City in 2017. If Buffalo had just taken Mahomes instead? Maybe the Chiefs would’ve made a move up the board to get Allen the year after, a plausible thought since that’s actually exactly what the Bills did to get him. And two, I think you’re asking this question on the premise that the Chiefs are way ahead of the Bills from a roster standpoint.
I don’t know if that second part is true. Looking at the two offensive groups there, I’d probably give the Chiefs the edge, but I actually think it’s relatively close, especially when you consider the number of players on the Buffalo roster that are still ascending. So while I love the progress Allen’s made, give me Mahomes on the Bills.
From Headlinez (@TreBrownSZN): With Julio Jones off of the board, who’s the next big potential trade name floating around?
Headlinez, I don’t think we have any more surprises coming this offseason. At least up until now, the Packers have been firm that they won’t deal away Aaron Rodgers, but until he shows up, it’s going to be a talking point for everyone; and I do think the Texans will probably look at moving Deshaun Watson after there’s more clarity, both legally and from the league, as to his status. Russell Wilson’s locked in with Seattle for 2021. And that’s where we are.
I’m sure next year, we’ll have more. But these are difficult to forecast ahead of time, for a few reasons, which I’ll list here.
• They’re often driven by coaching changes. The centerpieces of the three big trades this offseason—Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz and Julio Jones—were all moved by teams with first-year coaches. So unless I know who’s getting fired in January, I’m missing a pretty significant pieces of the puzzle.
• Usually the guys traded have monster contracts and are approaching or are in the nonguaranteed segments of those deals. Right now, there are 17 nonquarterbacks making more than $20 million per year. Some of those guys, like Khalil Mack and Frank Clark (for example), are getting toward the back end of those contracts. But it’s not like we can say now that this guy or that guy will get restless because of it six months from now.
• The league can be reactionary. The Bears’ success with Mack and the Rams’ success with Jalen Ramsey has, indeed, led to teams’ looking at being aggressive in these sorts of situations—which explains, in part, the recent boom in blockbuster trades. Those becoming more commonplace really means any big-name player could try and push that button if he’s not happy with his lot in the league.
So when we get to 2022, my belief is the Wilson situation could bubble up again, and we could be there again with Rodgers too, if he eventually acquiesces and plays for Green Bay in ’21. It’s also worth noting that at that point, Arizona will be at a decision point with Kyler Murray; same goes for the Giants with Daniel Jones; and Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo will be going into contract years. And we’ll see if Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen gets deals before then.
Long story short, a lot of things could happen.
From Bronco danny (@DSacharoff): Gut feeling, Rodgers ends up in Denver?
From Jordo (@Jordo42): Rodgers to Denver % chance??
I’d say the chances are low for 2021—maybe 5%—because I don’t think the Packers are going to buckle and trade him. That is not to say that the Broncos wouldn’t be willing to make a move for him, because I think (and this is just my opinion) he’ll remain on their radar for as long as this goes on. I also have a little bit of a hunch that part of passing on Justin Fields, and taking Patrick Surtain, was leaving their options open for that kind of opportunity to present itself.
And the great thing about that is that I think it’d be an affirmation of where new GM George Paton thinks the roster is going into his first year. Really, it’s not that different from where Denver was in 2012 before luring Peyton Manning to Colorado. That March, they had promising young receivers on the roster, a great young pass rusher, a promising offensive line group and a veteran head coach and staff. Ditto now (even if the degrees of strength from position to position vary a little).
Bottom line, if Rodgers ever becomes available, I think the Broncos will be a strong suitor.
From Tim (@Dagiantsgoodyet): Who’s the next QB to set the market?
Tim, because Mahomes’s number, under an unorthodox contract, is $45 million per year, $5 million clear of the next highest paid guys (Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson), I do think Rodgers is probably the only one capable of scaling that mountain this offseason. My guess is the guys who do get paid in the coming months (Allen, Jackson, Mayfield) will be work off of the more conventional deals that Prescott and Watson did.
Why? Well, it’d be hard for any team to make the sort of commitment that the Chiefs did from a years standpoint—while it’s absolutely good for the team to have financial certainty on a player for 12 seasons, there also aren’t any escape hatches for a while—and no player is going to sign up for that amount of time unless it’s going to be a market-moving deal. So my guess would be the next deals you see for QBs are shorter, which could land in the coming months, and don’t touch the record APY that Mahomes got to.
From Brandon (@DonthaBrand): How do you see the 49ers’ QB situation playing out? Is it truly up for grabs or is it Jimmy’s to lose?
Brandon, I don’t think it’s up for grabs the way, say, Chicago’s QB job was up for grabs last summer. That one was a true competition, with Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles splitting up reps, and alternating days with the first-teamers. Kyle Shanahan, even with the team having some reservations on Jimmy Garoppolo’s game, knows he has a locker room that believes in Garoppolo. And that locker room is in position to compete for a championship now.
That’s not the hyperbole it might be in other places, either. The Niners were in the Super Bowl just 16 months ago, and stayed in the playoff hunt into December last year despite having arguably the worst injury situation in football. They held on to just about everyone, and so for Trey Lance to even sniff playing time at this point, he first has to show the locker room that he’s a better option than Garoppolo—which won’t be easy.
So I think Lance has to be noticeably better than Garoppolo in camp for that reason, and one other one: He’d have to prove that playing him will have a payoff valuable enough to pay the price of rolling with a rookie and the bumps teams doing so have to ride out.
And again, if we’re talking about a team that’s probably going 9–8 or 8–9, then this is a different discussion. That’s not who the Niners should be, or who the coaches there believe they are. Which is why, despite the noise on Garoppolo’s going home to New England, the Niners were never going to hand him over without a clear overpay from the Patriots. A pick in, say, the 50s, wasn’t going to be worth tying a title contender’s hopes to the development of a rookie.
For all those reasons, health permitting, I think Garoppolo will start Week 1. And if the Niners win like I believe they will, and they believe they will, and Garoppolo can stay on the field for the duration, a true redshirt year for Lance is a pretty likely outcome. Which is something I’m saying as someone who always warns people, with a trusty chart I have to prove it, that redshirt years rarely actually happen for first-round quarterbacks.
From eddie rainer (@yougotime31): Does the WFT have a top-three defense?
Eddie, I think Chase Young’s going to be one of the five best defensive players in the league by the end of the year, and the centerpiece of a top-three defensive front, and that’s one hell of a place to start. From Young to fellow young, ascending former first-rounder Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Montez Sweat, to solid depth pieces Tim Settle and Matt Ioannidis, it’s hard to know where to start in dealing with what Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio will be able to throw at offenses.
Baseline, with an average back seven, that makes Washington a top-10 defense, in my opinion. From there, then, I think the assimilation of two players in particular into the defense is going to be the swing factor—one being big-ticket free-agent corner William Jackson, the other being first-round linebacker Jamin Davis. If those two can be what Josh Norman and Thomas Davis were for Rivera in Carolina, look out.
At that point, sure, Washington can be a top-three defense.
From the thick krassenstein brother (@Glasshomes12): How likely is it that Julio Jones being traded to the Titans produces similar results as Andre Johnson landing on the Colts in 2015? Similar age and production profiles.