Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
After three months of waiting, my favorite week of the NFL offseason is finally here: The 2023 schedule is being released this week. Well, unless it's not being released. Apparently, the release of the schedule could be postponed and if that happens, WHY EVEN RELEASE A SCHEDULE. I want it done this week or I don't want it done at all.
Anyway, we'll be going over the possible causes of the schedule delay, plus we'll be making some schedule predictions and ranking the 10 draft classes that could have the biggest impact in 2023.
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1. 2023 NFL schedule release could be delayed
Over the past two weeks, it was assumed that the 2023 NFL schedule would be released on May 11, but apparently, that might not actually happen. According to Peter King of NBC Sports, the schedule release could be delayed.
Right now, there:
- NFL hasn't finalized what teams will play in the biggest games. One of the biggest issues is that the NFL can't seem to decide who should play in the biggest games. The 2023 schedule has a lot of premiere spots on it -- from the Thursday opener to the Thanksgiving games to the Black Friday games to the Christmas tripleheader -- and as far as those games go, nothing is set in stone yet.
- New TV contract is slowing things down. The new media deal that the NFL reached with its media partners will be going into effect this year, which is slowing down the scheduling process. According to King, the biggest issue is that there are no longer any conference alignments with the games. This means that AFC games will no longer air primarily on CBS and NFC games will no longer air primarily on Fox. Instead, the NFL has to divvy up the games evenly each week, which is adding more time to the creation of the schedule.
- So what's going to happen? According to King, Roger Goodell will be meeting with the NFL schedule crew at some point today and after that meeting, there should be more clarity about if the schedule release can still be held on Thursday.
If I had to guess, I'd say that we'll know by Tuesday at the latest if the schedule will be released this week. There's a lot of moving parts here with multiple networks airing schedule release shows and those networks will need some time to get things together. If the schedule release does get delayed, it would almost certainly be moved to some point next week.
2. 2023 NFL schedule predictions
No, we don't have any idea yet when the NFL schedule will be releasd, but it's going to happen at some point and we thought we'd get a jump on things here by trying to PREDICT who will be playing in some of the biggest games of the year. The Thursday night opener is always one of the biggest games of the season, so we asked Cody Benjamin to try and predict who will be playing that night, along with who will be playing in the Thanksgiving games and international games.
Here's a look at a few of Cody's predictions
A Super Bowl rematch in the opener? Aaron Rodgers going up against a Bill Belichick defense? Two playoff rematches on Monday night? There's definitely a lot to like about these predictions. The NFL should just go ahead and send Cody a check and steal his ideas for Week 1, that way they can still release the schedule on time.
Cody also predicted how the three Thanksgiving games will look:
If you want to see the rest of his predictions,.
3. Ranking the 10 most impactful draft classes
Over the past week, we've ranked every team's draft class, we've graded every team's draft class, but now, we're going to do something different: We're going to rank each team's draft class based on how much impact their rookies can have on the field THIS YEAR.
Here's the ranking that Chris Trapasso came up with:
Impactful rookies: QB Anthony Richardson, WR Josh Downs, CB Julius Brents, CB Darius Rush, TE Will Mallory, S Daniel Scott, RB Evan Hull.
Trapasso's take: "This all starts with Richardson, my QB1 in the 2023 class. I'm giddy to watch him play in Shane Steichen's system, and, yes, I've accepted that there will be some ugly moments. There will also be dynamic, jaw-on-the-floor plays as a runner as passer."
Impactful rookies: NT Keeanu Benton, TE Darnell Washington, CB Joey Porter Jr., OT Broderick Jones, CB Cory Trice.
Trapasso's take: "Benton to the Steelers was absolutely perfect. He's the next defensive front seven star on that franchise with a storied defensive history. Porter too. Washington will acclimate quicker than many expect because he can actually make many NFL players look small and lacking in the power department."
Impactful rookies: CB Devon Witherspoon, WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, EDGE Derick Hall, RB Zach Charbonnet, OL Anthony Bradford, OC Olusegun Oluwatimi, EDGE Mike Morris.
Trapasso's take: "From the looks of it -- the Seahawks have done it again. Another high-impact rookie class, just like the Charles Cross, Abraham Lucas, Kenneth Walker, Tariq Woolen, Coby Bryant masterpiece from 2022. Witherspoon will bring the energy on every snap. If healthy, Smith-Njigba will work the middle of the field like a 10-year vet, and Charbonnet will wear down defenses as the chiseled, athletic back who spells Walker."
If you want to check out Trapasso's entire top-10 list,.
4. Best free agents still available at each position
As we get ready to finish up the second full month of free agency, you'd think that all the biggest names would be locked up by now, but surprisingly, there are quite a few talented players left on the market. To give you an idea of who's still out there, CBSSports.com's Jeff Kerr went through and made a list of the best player who's still available at each position.
Here's a look at the offensive players on his list:
If you want to see the defensive players, be sure to.
As we head into mid-May, we definitely could see an uptick of action in free agency, but there's also a chance we could hit a lull. Over the past few years, older players have been waiting until training camp to sign so that they don't have to show up for OTAs or minicamp and it wouldn't be surprising to see any of the players above go that route.
5. Jim Irsay fires warning shot to NFL teams over possible Andrew Luck tampering
It's been nearly five years since Andrew Luck last played in the NFL and although he's been out of the league since retiring in August 2019, Colts owner Jim Irsay would like everyone to know that the quarterback's rights are still owned by his team.
Irsay fired off a tweet late Sunday night that let teams know that they're not allowed to talk to Luck since he's still under contract with the Colts (Luck had three years remaining on his contract when he retired, so if he ever does make a return to the NFL, he'll still be under contract to the Colts for three more years).
Here are the details of the situation:
- Irsay fires off warning shot. Here's what his tweet said, "If any NFL Team attempted to contact Andrew Luck (or any associate of him)… to play for their Franchise - it would be a clear Violation of the League's Tampering Policy."
- Why Irsay felt the need to send out the tweet. Although Irsay didn't mention any specific team in his tweet, he seemed to be putting the Washington Commanders on notice. Over the weekend, ESPN.com reported that the Commanders were so desperate for a quarterback during the 2022 offseason that they "even phoned about retired Andrew Luck." The story didn't make it clear who the Commanders called when they "phoned" about Luck, but based on Irsay's response, it seems that the Commanders didn't reach out to anyone in the Colts organization.
- Irsay doesn't have a great relationship with the Commanders. If any other team had been involved here, Irsay might not have felt the need to send out his tweet, but he seems to feel total disdain for Commanders owner Dan Snyder, which might have played a part in all of this. Irsay has never been on great terms with Snyder and Irsay was even one of the very few owners who went on the record late last year about how the NFL needs think about getting rid of Snyder.
- What would happen if a team did tamper with Luck. If any team got caught trying to contact Luck, they could potentially get hit with a big punishment. In August 2022, the Dolphins got docked two draft picks, including a 2023 first-rounder, for tampering with Tom Brady.
It's unclear if the Commanders actually tampered, but if they did, you can bet Irsay will do everything in his power to make sure they get punished.
6. Extra points: Bryce Young might start the season on the bench
It was a busy weekend 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.
- Andy Dalton could be starting for the Panthers in Week 1. The Panthers admitted over the weekend that Dalton is currently the top QB on the depth chart and that they're not going to set a timeline for when Young will take over. That news came from Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer and .
- Sean McVay gets a statue at Miami of Ohio. As a graduate of Miami, I would probably have my diploma taken away if I didn't mention this today. McVay got a statue at the school
- Colts cut Nick Foles. There's a Super Bowl MVP available in free agency and that's because the Colts cut Nick Foles over the weekend. We put together some possible landing spots for the newly released QB and you .
- Zach Ertz says he was nearly traded to the Bills. Back in 2021, Ertz was traded to the Cardinals just before the trade deadline, but apparently, that deal only happened because a deal with the Bills fell apart. According to Ertz, the Eagles and Bills worked out a trade and it was nearly a "done deal," but they couldn't get over the finish line. If you want the details on that story, .
- Jets are having drama at left tackle. The Jets offensive line was one of their biggest weaknesses last season and things don't appear to be getting much better. Over the weekend, Mekhi Becton tweeted out that he was the left tackle, but then coach Robert Saleh . "Go earn the left tackle," Saleh said when asked about Becton's tweet. The Jets have a talented roster this year, but if their offensive line struggles, it could kill their season.