For some reason, Friday is usually the slowest news day on the NFL calendar and I say “usually” because today definitely doesn’t qualify and that’s because the 49ers decided to make a monstrous trade with the Dolphins that will move them up nine spots in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The 49ers were holding the 12th overall pick, but they’ll now be picking third overall after making a blockbuster trade with the Dolphins. To convince Miami to make the deal, the 49ers are sending three first-rounds picks to the Dolphins (the 2021 No. 12 pick plus first-round picks in 2022 and 2023) along with a 2021 third-round pick.
If this move tells us anything it’s that Jimmy Garoppolo should probably call his real estate agent. You don’t make a trade like this unless you plan on taking a quarterback, and clearly, the 49ers like their options at three. Even if Trevor Lawrence is off the board, they’ll still potentially have a shot at Zach Wilson, Justin Fields or Trey Lance (The Jets have the second pick and could end up drafting one of those guys). For more on the trade, you can check out our story by clicking here.
Alright, I’m going to calm down so we can get to the rundown. As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link.
1. Today’s show: Rules that the NFL should add
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up every week by adding a listener mailbag. Every Friday, Ryan Wilson, Will Brinson and I sift through the mail and then we pick five or six questions to answer on the podcast. If you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review.
For today’s mailbag, the questions were all over the place. Here’s a small sample:
- If you were NFL commissioner for a day, what rules would you change on or off the field? First, I would like to say that if I was NFL commissioner for a day, I would 100% pull some sort of coup so that I could be NFL commissioner forever. After that happened, the first thing I would do is implement a fantasy-like scoring system for kickers. All field goals under 55 yards would still be worth three points, but any kick between 55 and 59 would be worth four and any kick 60 or over would be worth five. This would be an easy way to spice up the game and it would also add another layer of decision-making for coaches. For instance, if you have fourth-and- 3 from the 37-yard line, do you go for it or do you try the four-point field goal? This would also make long snappers more important and I’m all for any rule that would make long snappers more important. (If you’re wondering how this rule would help long snappers, let’s say your drive ends at your opponents’ 30-yard line. That would normally set up a 48-yard field goal, but if you have a long snapper who can snap it 15 yards on a field goal — instead of 8 — you could set yourself up for a 55-yard field goal to get yourself four points. Also, I have clearly thought way too much about this).
- If you could transport a player from today’s game back into early days of the NFL (60s or 70s) with the idea that they would completely dominate the league, who would you to send back? I actually spent way more time contemplating this question than I thought I would and after hours of thinking, I decided that I would send back Lamar Jackson. Players back then just weren’t as fast or athletic as they are today and although Jackson might not be the overall quarterback, I think he would absolutely dominate in the 60s or 70s more than any other QB today and that’s mainly due to his speed. He would run circles around everyone.
To listen to today’s episode — and to follow the podcast — be sure to click here.
2. The 17-game schedule sounds like a go
In less than a week, the NFL’s 32 owners are going to vote on whether or not to expand the regular-season schedule to 17 games and all I have to say is that if you can find some place to bet this, put all of your money on yes. It’s been widely expected that the vote will pass, but just in case you need further confirmation, Steelers president Art Rooney II offered that during a chat with fans on Thursday.
When Rooney was asked about the 17-game schedule, here’s what he had to say:
“The 17-game schedule I think will work out well,” Rooney said, via the team’s website. “Obviously, this year will be the first year for it, so we’ll get a chance to see how it goes.”
That sounds like a guy who is fully expecting to see the 17-game schedule get approved when the NFL’s owners meet for their annual meeting next week (March 30-31). Rooney also offered a hint on how the schedule will work. Basically, the NFL is likely going to trim off one preseason game so that there are still 20 overall games being played.
“I think we will reduce the preseason by one game,” Rooney said. “It will be a similar kind of schedule in terms of the calendar, but we will just turn one of the preseason games into a regular-season a game, which I think all of us would appreciate. I feel good about it, I hope it works, and I look forward to seeing how it does in 2021.”
If it is a similar schedule in terms of the calendar, that means the Super Bowl won’t be happening until the second Sunday in February, which would set the stage for a Feb. 13 game next season — which would be the latest in NFL history.
One other note about that 17th game: Some of of those games are definitely going to be played internationally. According to the Sports Business Journal, the NFL is going to use the 17th game to “formalize a league-wide rotation for international games.” Basically, four of the 16 AFC-NFC games being added to the schedule will be sent abroad. One thing that’s not clear is if that will start when the 17-game format is implemented in 2021 or if it will start somewhere later down the road.
3. NFL insider notes: Seven draft prospects worth trading up for
Half the fun of watching the NFL Draft every year is to see if there are any big trades that get made. Teams are always looking to make a move during the draft and this year will be no different. With that in mind, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora spent his week talking to some general managers around the league to get an idea of which players they feel are worth trading up for.
Here’s the top three on the list, and not surprisingly, they are all quarterbacks.
Trevor Lawrence. “The Clemson QB is seen as a plug-and-play immediate starter. As close to a sure thing as you will find. And everyone in the NFL expects the Jaguars to simply select him. And they almost certainly will. But, like a year ago with Joe Burrow, other teams will explore what it might take to get to first overall, and crazier things have happened.”
Justin Fields. “I’m operating under the assumption that BYU’s Zach Wilson will be the second pick of the draft to the Jets, because the teams I am talking to are assuming just as much. Which leaves Miami with the third overall pick in the catbird seat. They could move down, potentially considerably, and still land a top line tackle or pass-rusher. Some GMs believe QBs could go 1-4, as Atlanta is very much exploring options in that market, and teams in the top 10 like the Panthers and Eagles are paying very close attention.”
Trey Lance. “Yes, the North Dakota State QB only played one game this season, but his athleticism and upside are too inviting for him not to go in the top 10 and quite likely in the top five. Would he get past the Falcons? Could a team target him over Fields in a trade to the third overall pick? Wouldn’t be a shocker either way.”
La Canfora’s list also includes four players who AREN’T quarterbacks and if you want to see his entire list, be sure to click here.
4. What it might take to get Jaguars to trade the top pick
As you just read from La Canfora, there are multiple general managers around the league who feel it would definitely be worth it to trade up for Lawrence, but the problem with that is that there’s no guarantee that the Jaguars would ever be willing to trade the top pick away. Of course, it’s not impossible. We just saw the 49ers trade up to the third spot, so it wouldn’t be a total shock if someone tries to trade up to the top spot.
So what would it take to get the Jaguars to give up the No. 1 overall pick? Cody Benjamin tried to answer that question by putting together multiple trade packages that other teams could offer.
Jets (move up from No. 2 to No. 1)
Potential offer: 2021 first (No. 2), 2022 first (via Seahawks), 2021 second (No. 34), 2022 second, 2021 fourth (No. 107).
Takeaway: If the Jets could get a deal done with this offer, it would be a no-brainer, but I don’t think the Jaguars would bite.
Patriots (move up from No. 15 to No. 1)
Potential offer: QB Jarrett Stidham, CB Stephon Gilmore, 2021 first (No. 15), 2022 first, 2023 first, 2021 second (No. 46), 2022 second, 2023 second, 2022 third
Takeaway: If a team wants to move up 14 spots in the draft, this offer gives you an idea of what they would have to give up. With three first-round picks involved plus a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year in GIlmore, I have to think the Jaguars would at least consider this offer if the Patriots made it, but they’d probably turn it down.
Bears (move up from No. 20 to No. 1)
Potential offer: OLB Khalil Mack, LB Roquan Smith, 2021 first (No. 20), 2022 first, 2023 first, 2021 second (No. 52), 2022 second, 2022 third, 2023 fourth.
Takeaway: We know the Bears are desperate to add a franchise quarterback and this offer definitely screams that. The Bears could even throw Andy Dalton in the deal just so Jacksonville has a quarterback for next season. Of course, if the Jags made this deal, they might not even need a quarterback because their defense would be so stacked.
Cody put together a trade package for nine different teams and if you want to check out each of those packages, be sure to click here.
5. Ranking all the 2021 quarterback moves
If you read this newsletter regularly, then you know that we love to rank things here at CBSSports.com. I mean, last night alone, I spent 45 minutes ranking the ice cream flavors in the “Scoop There It Is” commercial (Peanut Butter, Cookie Dough, French vanilla, Rocky Road, Chocolate). Of course, you’re not here for ice cream rankings, so instead, I’m giving you a ranking of all the quarterback moves that have been made so far this year.
Here are the top 10 quarterback moves that have been made in 2021 (via Cody Benjamin).
1. Rams trade for Matthew Stafford.
2. Colts trade for Carson Wentz
3. Saints re-sign Jameis Winston
4. Cowboys re-sign Dak Prescott
5. Washington signs Ryan Fitzpatrick
6. Bills sign Mitchell Trubisky
7. Patriots re-sign Cam Newton
8. Dolphins sign Jacoby Brissett
9. Bears sign Andy Dalton
10. Washington re-signs Taylor Heinicke
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Vikings-Cardinals trade, plus other moves from the past 24 hours
This has been a busy week in the NFL and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of it all, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Vikings acquire starter from Cardinals. The Vikings are in desperate need of some help on the offensive line help and they got some on Thursday when they acquired Mason Cole from Arizona. To land Cole, all the Vikings had to do was send a sixth-round pick (223rd overall) to the Cardinals. Although Cole played center in Arizona, he’ll likely slide to guard with Minnesota.
- Marshon Lattimore arrested. According to Cleveland.com, the 24-year-old Saints corner has been charged with suspicion of receiving stolen property. Details of the case haven’t been released, but this will definitely be something to keep an eye on going forward.
- Cowboys sign another Falcons player. It seems like Dan Quinn is trying to get the band back together in Dallas. The former Falcons coach has now added two of his former players to the Cowboys secondary. First, the Cowboys signed Keanu Neal, and now, the team has added safety Damontae Kazee.
- Adam Humphries headed to Washington. The Football Team has quietly been beefing up their offense this offseason and they continued to do that on Thursday with the addition of Adam Humphries. The move means that Ryan Fitzpatrick will now have Curtis Samuel, Terry McLaurin and Humphries to throw to in Washington.
- Cardinals add Super Bowl hero. Former Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler has signed in Arizona. The move means that Butler will now be playing his home games at University of Phoenix Stadium, which is probably a good thing for him, because he has positive memories of that place. The stadium is where Butler picked off Russell Wilson at the 1-yard line in New England’s Super Bowl XLIX win over Seattle.
- Carlos Dunlap returning to Seattle. The Seahawks traded for Dunlap in October and instead of letting him walk after just eight games with the team, Seattle has decided to re-sign him. Dunlap landed a two-year deal worth up to $16.6 million.
- Leonard Fournette staying in Tampa. The Buccaneers have re-signed nearly every key free agent they had this offseason and that includes Fournette, who agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $4 million on Friday.
For most NFL teams, the only downside to winning the Super Bowl is that it means you’re likely going to lose a lot of players during free agency UNLESS you’re the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers made it clear they wanted to re-sign all their key free agents this year and that’s exactly what they did. The re-signing of Fournette is especially notable because it means Tampa Bay will be returning all 22 players who started in the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl win over the Chiefs. Just so you know, this is basically unheard of. The Buccaneers are the first Super Bowl champ in the salary cap era to return every starter (The cap was implemented in 1994).
If you throw out the cap, the last team to return all 22 players who started in the Super Bowl was the 1977 Raiders, so the Buccaneers are doing something that hasn’t been done in 44 years. Also, Tom Brady was born in 1977 and that can’t be a coincidence.
I’m not saying I’m going to pick the Buccaneers to win it all in 2021, but I’m starting to feel like I might pick the Buccaneers. SOMEONE PLEASE TALK ME OUT OF IT.
7. The Kicker: Black Friday football could be coming
When it comes to Black Friday, I usually spend 90% of my time on Amazon, but that number might be moving up to 100% and that’s because it appears that the NFL might soon be giving the internet company an annual game on Black Friday.
According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, once the new media contract kicks in starting in 2023, the NFL will have the option to give Amazon a Black Friday game. The option was built into the contract as a favor to Amazon, which won’t get to televise a Thursday game during Thanksgiving week. Although the tech company will get to exclusively stream Thursday night games starting in 2023, that won’t include any of the three games on Turkey Day, which will air on CBS, Fox and NBC.
The NFL doesn’t usually schedule games for Fridays and that’s mostly due to the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, which makes it illegal for the NFL to televise any games on Friday or Saturday from the second weekend in September thru the second weekend in December (Those two days have been earmarked for high school and college football). However, the NFL is ALLOWED to schedule a Friday game as long as it’s over before 6 p.m. local time, so a Black Friday game that kicks off somewhere between noon and 2 p.m. ET would likely work.
Basically, we are now all just two years away from being able to buy a two-for-one Black Friday special on Amazon while we’re watching a football game at the same time. I’m going to go ahead and renew my Prime now.