Monday, August 15, 2022

Full details on the NFL’s franchise tag deadline, plus ranking the NFL’s top-10 QB-coaching duos

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here: It’s franchise tag deadline day. If you’re wondering what exactly that means, it means that teams have until 4 p.m. ET today to work out a long-term deal with any player who got hit with the franchise tag. In theory, this should be a somewhat exciting day, but I have some bad news: None of the tagged players are expected to reach a deal, which means today is likely going to be the opposite of exciting.

Since the deadline won’t be offering any excitement, we’re bringing our own excitement to the newsletter today. Not only are we going to rank the top QB-coach duos, but we’re also going to take a look at 10 records that could go down in 2022. 

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. Let’s get to the rundown. 

1. Today’s show: The franchise tag deadline is here

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Jessie Bates III USATSI

With the franchise tag deadline happening today, I’m guessing you can figure out what Will Brinson and I talked about on today’s podcast. Yup, we talked about the franchise tag deadline. There were a total of eight players hit with the tag this year, and out of that group, four of them are still looking to get an extension before today’s deadline hits at 4 p.m. ET. 

Here’s a brief look at each situation along with our prediction about whether an extension gets done. (We’ve also listed how much each player will make on their one-year franchise tag deal.)

Players who have signed their franchise tag

The tight end market had a huge wrench thrown into it earlier this year when the Browns decided to give David Njoku a four-year deal worth a total of $56.75 million. Gesicki and Schultz have both been much more productive than Njoku and they probably want to be paid accordingly. The problem there is that Njoku is now the fifth-highest paid tight end in the league, and it feels like the Cowboys and Dolphins are both hesitant to hand out a contract that would pay their tight ends more than $14 million per year. 

Brinson and I both agreed that a deal probably won’t get done for either guy. 

The upside for Dallas and Miami is that both players have already signed their tags. Since Shultz and Gesicki are both now under contract, that means there won’t be any drama after today. They’ll both likely report to training camp whether or not a long-term deal gets done (If they don’t show up for camp, they could get fined and I’m guessing they’ll be looking to avoid that). 

Players who haven’t signed their franchise tag

  • Bengals S Jessie Bates III: $12.9 million. Bates is hoping to land a long-term deal that will make him one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL, but the Bengals don’t seem to thrilled about the idea of giving him that much money. One thing that makes this situation even more complicated is the contract the Steelers just gave Minkah Fitzpatrick. His new deal will pay him $18.4 million per year for the next four years, and Bates will likely be hoping to get something in that neighborhood. 
  • Chiefs OL Orlando Brown Jr.: $16.7 million. The Chiefs gave up so much to land Brown in a trade back in April 2021 that you’d think they want to do everything possible to get a deal done. However, the problem for the Chiefs is that Brown apparently wants to be the highest-paid left tackle in the NFL, and Kansas City hasn’t been willing to offer him that kind of money, which has created a stalemate. 

One important thing to note about these two guys is that Brown and Bates have NOT signed their franchise tag yet, which is kind of a big deal. If a player has NOT signed the tag, that means they’re not under contract with the team, which means they can skip training camp without any penalty. 

On Bates’ end, this is a big deal because there was a report earlier this year that suggested he would rather sit out the season than play on the franchise tag. Sitting out a year destroyed Le’Veon Bell’s career, and I’m not sure Bates would be actually willing to do that, but it will be interesting to see if the Bengals are willing to call his bluff. 

The Chiefs are in a similar situation with Brown. According to NFL.com, if he doesn’t get a long-term deal, he could end up skipping training camp, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to see a deal get done. Brown’s agent, Michael Porter, told NFL.com on Friday that a deal simply isn’t going to happen.  

If the players don’t sign their tag, the team also has a nuclear option. For instance, if Bates refuses to report to training camp, the Bengals could rescind his tag, which would immediately free up $12.9 million in cap space. However, if the Bengals pulled that move, then Bates would become a free agent and at that point, he might be able to find a team to give him $18 million per year. (The same thing would apply to Brown if the Chiefs rescinded his tag.) Seeing a tag get rescinded would be a total surprise if it happened, but it has happened before. The most notable recent instance came in 2016 when the Panthers rescinded Josh Norman’s franchise tag.

I think I just covered our entire conversation on the podcast, but if you want to listen anyway, you can do that by clicking here. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here.

2. Tom Brady may have hinted at when he’s going to retire

Tom Brady has already retired once, and although that retirement only lasted 40 days, it’s safe to say that at some point, he’s going to retire again, and when that happens, it will be likely be for good. 

So when is this next retirement going to happen? 

Brady recently did an interview with Variety, where he touched on several topics, including when he might retire. 

Here’s a look at what we learned from the story: 

  • Brady might retire if the Buccaneers win a Super Bowl this year. “I think that would obviously be the greatest way to end,” Brady said of going out with one more Lombardi Trophy. On the other hand, Brady also seems like someone who would want to run it back to try for a repeat, so who knows if he would actually retire. 
  • Brady has no idea if he’s going to keep playing after the 2022 season. “I would say it’s year to year,” Brady said. “Could this be my last year? Absolutely. Could I change my mind? Absolutely. I’ve realized I don’t have five years left.” Brady will be a free agent in 2023, and the idea of getting to pick his next team might be enough to keep him on the field for at least one more season after this year. 
  • Brady doesn’t plan on working the Super Bowl for Fox this year. Now that Brady has a huge contract with Fox, there was some speculation that he might end up announcing the Super Bowl if the Buccaneers didn’t make the playoffs (or got eliminated in the playoffs). Brady was directly asked about that possibility and shot the idea down. “No. I want to focus on football,” Brady said when asked if he would think about jumping in the broadcast booth if the Buccaneers didn’t make the playoffs this year. 
  • Brady doesn’t talk to Donald Trump anymore. The Buccaneers QB once had a Trump hat in his locker, but as he’s gotten older, he’s kept his political feelings to himself. “No. I haven’t talked to him in a lot of years,” Brady said when asked if he’s still in touch with the former president. 
  • He doesn’t have a lot of time for TV. Brady said he’s so busy that he rarely ever gets to watch anything. He said he’s been watching “Ted Lasso” and “Yellowstone.” He also mentioned that back in the day — before he had kids — he once binged “24” and “The West Wing.” The man also doesn’t get to go to the movie theater often, but he did say he saw “Top Gun” and that it was “badass.” As an employee of Paramount, this is the part where I tell you that you should also go see “Top Gun” if you haven’t seen it yet. 

As you can clearly see, the interview touched on a WIDE variety of topics, and if you want to read the entire thing, you can click here

3. Ranking NFL’s top-10 QB/coaching duos

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Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes USATSI

Over the past few weeks in the newsletter, we’ve ranked the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL and the top 10 coaches, but one thing we haven’t done is rank them together, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do today. Ranking a coach and a quarterback together changes the dynamic of how you rank them, and if you need proof, just look at the Patriots. Although Bill Belichick was ranked No. 3 on our coaches list, he’s nowhere near the top 10 of our QB-coach rankings. 

Jeff Kerr was in charge of ranking the top 10 QB-coach duos in the NFL. Here’s what he came up with: 

1. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid (Chiefs)

2. Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay (Rams)

3. Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur (Packers)

4. Josh Allen and Sean McDermott (Bills)

5. Joe Burrow and Zac Taylor (Bengals)

6. Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh (Ravens)

7. Ryan Tannehill and Mike Vrabel (Titans)

8. Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy (Cowboys)

9. Justin Herbert and Brandon Staley (Chargers)

10. Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals)

If you look at this list long enough, one thing you’ll probably notice is that Tom Brady’s not on it. At first, I thought Brady was left off because Kerr had lost his mind, but as it turns out, Brady was left off because he didn’t qualify. Any QB with a new head coach didn’t crack the list since they have no track record together. (This is also why Russell Wilson isn’t on the list.)

If you want to see the full breakdown of these rankings, be sure to click here so you can check out Kerr’s entire story

4. One underappreciated player on each AFC team 

Every NFL team definitely has some unsung heroes on the roster, and since they rarely get recognized, we decided to make a list of the most underappreciated players in the league. Yesterday, we took at the list of the most underappreciated players in the NFC, so today, I thought it only made sense to do the same thing with the AFC. 

CBSSports.com’s Jeff Kerr — who was very busy this week — went through every roster in the AFC to find each team’s most underappreciated player. Here’s what he came up with for five of the teams: 

I think Kerr is definitely trying to send a message to the Chiefs by including Brown on the list. 

If you want to check out the full list, which includes all 16 AFC teams, then be sure to click here

5. 10 NFL records that could fall in 2022

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Getty Images

There are a lot of NFL records that get broken every year, and now that the NFL is playing a 17-game regular season schedule, there could be even more records broken in 2022. Our Bryan DeArdo went through the NFL record book this week to hunt down 10 records that could end up being broken during the 2022 season. 

Here’s a look at four of those records: 

  • Most receiving yards in a single-season: 1,964 (Current record-holder: Calvin Johnson). “Cooper Kupp finished the 2021 season with 1,947 yards while also leading the NFL with 145 receptions. If he and quarterback Matthew Stafford are able to stay healthy, Kupp may very well become the NFL’s first 2,000-yard receiver this fall.”
  • Most sacks in a single-season: 22.5 (Current record-holders: T.J. Watt and Michael Strahan). “After tying the record last season, Watt should once again be in position to break the record this season given the added depth the Steelers have at linebacker as well as on the defensive line.”
  • Most rushing yards in a single-season: 2,105 (Current record-holder: Eric Dickerson). “Dickerson’s record may have been broken last year had Derrick Henry not sustained an injury after rumbling for 937 yards in the season’s first eight games. Henry is the frontrunner to break this record in 2021, but don’t sleep on Jonathan Taylor, the Colts’ third-year back who won the league’s rushing title last fall.”
  • Most passing yards in a single-season: 5,477 (Current record-holder: Peyton Manning). “Tom Brady was relatively close to breaking his former rival’s record last season, when he threw for a career-high 5,316 yards. Brady finished the year with more than 300 more passing yards than the league’s second-leading passer, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.”

If you want to check out all 10 records that could be broken, be sure to click here

6. Rapid-fire roundup: Super Bowl winner retires

It’s been a wild 24 hours in the NFL, and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you. 

  • Super Bowl winning offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz retires. After nine seasons in the NFL, Schwartz has decided to call it quits. A big reason he’s retiring is because his body still isn’t fully recovered from a back injury he suffered in 2020. The one-time first-team All-Pro spent the four seasons with the Browns (2012-15) before moving on to Kansas City, where he would eventually win a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. 
  • Multiple teams showing interest in Kyle Rudolph. The 32-year-old tight end is still on the free agent market, but he might not be for long. According to ESPN, Rudolph is drawing interest from multiple teams, including the Buccaneers and Vikings. Rudolph spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Vikings before latching on with the Giants in 2021. 
  • Steelers fans aren’t happy with new stadium name. Steelers fans have decided to let the team know that they’re not happy about the fact that Heinz Field is now called Acrisure Stadium. One fan has started a petition to get the team to change the name back and that petition now has more than 1,700 signatures. 
  • Patrick Mahomes outsmarts the NFL. Due to an NFL rule, active players are not allowed to endorse beer, but the Chiefs quarterback found a way around that rule this week when he showed up in a Coors Light commercial that wasn’t actually about Coors Light. You can check out the entire story — and the pretty hilarious ad — by clicking here

  • Le’Veon Bell seems to regret how things played out with the Steelers in 2018. With today being the deadline for franchise tag deals, it seems fitting that Bell is in the news right now. Back in 2018, the running back sat out the entire season after refusing to play the year on the franchise tag. The decision ended up killing his NFL career. In a post on Instagram, Bell seemed to show regret for his decision, “The NFL has done great things for me, & I truly appreciated every single year of my NFL journey,” Bell wrote. “Obviously, I (we, whoever) wish things would’ve played out differently in 2018, like if I legit had a time machine to go back to 2018, that would be soo litttt for soo many reasons but I don’t.” 

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