My calendar says it's March, which is kind of confusing to me, because I didn't even know that last March ever ended. That's what happens when you're quarantined in a house with a baby. Time loses all meaning. I never know what month it is, I barely know what year it is, and to be honest, this newsletter is the only reason I even know what day it is.
My favorite thing about March -- besides St. Patrick's Day -- is that it means the start of NFL free agency is coming and in a twist, they'll be coming on the same day this year (Free agency starts on March 17).
Of course, before free agency actually starts, there will be some free agent signings from players who are already free agents and the first big one came on Monday when J.J. Watt shockingly decided to sign with the Cardinals!
We'll be talking about that and more in today's newsletter, so let's 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: Mock Draft Monday
From now until the draft starts on April 29, every Monday will be Mock Draft Monday on the podcast. What this means is that we'll be bringing in our draft gurus each week to talk about how they think the draft will play out. This week, that means Will Brinson was joined by draft experts Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso.
During the podcast, they covered all 32 first-round picks from Ryan's latest mock draft. The only selection that didn't start any debate was Trevor Lawrence to Jacksonville and that's because everyone seemed to agree that not even the Jaguars are dumb enough to blow that pick. Lawrence is one of five quarterbacks that Wilson has going in the top 10, along with Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Mac Jones.
There are multiple teams who are going to be fascinating to watch during the first round of the draft this year and the three guys went in-depth on what five of those teams -- the Jets, Eagles, Cowboys, Patriots, Dolphins -- might do during the opening round.
As for Wilson's latest mock, you can see the top-10 picks below.
- 1. Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)
- 2. Jets: QB Zach Wilson (BYU)
- 3. Dolphins: WR Ja'Marr Chase (LSU)
- 4. Falcons: QB Justin Fields (Ohio State)
- 5. Bengals: OL Penei Sewell (Oregon)
- 6. Eagles: QB Mac Jones (Alabama)
- 7. Lions: WR Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)
- 8. Panthers: QB Trey Lance (North Dakota State)
- 9. Broncos: CB Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech)
- 10. Cowboys: OL Rashawn Slater (Northwestern)
To listen to today's episode -- and to subscribe to the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. J.J. Watt headed to Arizona
It's a good thing I wasn't drinking coffee this morning, because there's a 100% chance I would have spit it out in shock when I found out that J.J. Watt was signing with the Cardinals. The veteran pass-rusher announced on Twitter that he's headed to Arizona. According to multiple reports, Watt has agreed to a two-year, $31 million deal that includes $23 million in guaranteed money.
The Cardinals basically came out of nowhere to land Watt. Over the past several weeks, the Packers, Bills, Titans, Browns and Steelers were considered to be the favorites to land his services. As a matter of fact, the only time Arizona was even mentioned in the same breath as Watt came last week when DeAndre Hopkins used his Instagram account to try and recruit his former teammate to Arizona. Apparently, Hopkins is almost as good at recruiting as he is at playing receiver.
For the Cardinals, this is a huge signing and that's because it will soften the blow if they end up losing Hasson Reddick, who's scheduled to be a free agent. It also means that the Cards will have a pretty lethal pass-rushing combination with Watt and Chandler Jones under contract for the 2021 season.
Although Watt has dealt with injuries over the past few years, the Cardinals will get a player who was completely healthy in 2020. Watt totaled five sacks seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles and 14 tackles for loss during a 2020 season where he played in all 16 games.
3. NFL Insider notes: More big trades likely coming
When it comes to big trades, things have gotten pretty crazy in the NFL over the past 30 days with Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz all getting dealt to a new team. Apparently, that was just a taste of things to come, because it seems that the trade market might get even crazier over the next few weeks. At least that's the word from CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, who is expecting more trades to go down this offseason.
Here's a list of reasons why we could see a few more deals over the next few weeks:
- Plenty of teams are still in the trade market for a quarterback as the Jets, Patriots, 49ers, Bears and Washington -- and a few other teams -- will likely be looking to pull off a deal before free agency starts.
- The drama involving Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson will come to an end at some point and it won't be surprising if it ends with one or both players being traded.
- Valuable defenders such as Von Miller (Broncos) and Stephon Gilmore (Patriots) could be dealt because it would help their current teams reduce their salary cap while also allowing them to acquire some serious compensation in return for their star defensive player.
- Don't be surprised if at least one receiver -- like Kenny Golladay or Allen Robinson -- gets tagged and traded. La Canfora also mentioned Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup as possible trading chips.
To check all of La Canfora's insider notes, be sure to click here.
4. Alex Smith out in Washington
It's not often you see a quarterback go 5-1 and win the Comeback Player of the Year award, only to get kicked out the door, but that's exactly what's happening with Alex Smith in Washington. The Football Team plans to part ways with Smith at some point this week.
The decision isn't all that surprising when you look at what has recently transpired between the two sides. For one, the normally mild-mannered Smith definitely didn't sound happy with the franchise when he was asked about them during an interview with GQ in February.
After missing the entire 2019 season due to a devastating leg injury, Smith said the team wasn't expecting him to return in 2020 and when he did, they weren't happy about it.
"When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team's plan," Smith said. "They didn't see it, didn't want me there, didn't want me to be a part of it, didn't want me to be on the team, the roster, didn't want to give me a chance. Mind you, it was a whole new regime; they came in, I'm like the leftovers and I'm hurt and I'm this liability."
Although Ron Rivera continually insisted that Smith was part of the team's quarterback plan, that's not what was happening behind the scenes, according to Smith
"Heck no, they didn't want me there," Smith said. "At that point, as you can imagine, everything I'd been through, I couldn't have cared less about all that. Whether you like it or not, I'm giving this a go at this point."
Apparently, the two things that bothered Smith the most about Rivera is that the Washington coach said the team could have made the playoffs with Kyle Allen (The Football Team went 1-5 with Allen). Smith was also upset with the fact that he wasn't given the chance to start in Washington's playoff game against the Buccaneers, despite being their best quarterback all season (Washington ended up going with Taylor Heinicke, who had one career start before the playoff game).
Of course, the move here makes financial sense for Washington and that's because getting rid of Smith will free up roughly $14.5 million in cap space. It will also allow Smith to get a head start in free agency, which will be a new experience for the quarterback, because he's never been a free agent in his life.
5. Ranking free agent kickers and punters
With free agency starting in just over two weeks, now seems like a good time to take a look at players who will be available. Over the past two weeks, we've gone through every position group in this newsletter except for one and that one is the most important one of all: Kickers (and punters).
As the only person at CBSSports.com who obsessively writes about special teams play, I was asked to rank the top kickers and punters heading into free agency. The list of kickers getting ready to hit free agency is actually an interesting one because there could end up being some serious talent available.
With that in mind, here are my top-five kickers heading into the start of free agency.
And here are the top-five punters.
I actually ranked the top-10 players at each position, and if you want to check out the entire rankings for kickers and punters, be sure to click here.
6. Surprise Drew Brees video leaves a lot of unanswered questions
DREW BREES RETIREMENT WATCH DAY 173 (That's not actually the day, I've just lost count).
Three weeks ago, Saints coach Sean Payton jumped on the Pick Six Podcast and said that Brees' retirement decision would be coming in the next "week or two." At the time, everyone assumed that Brees would be retiring, but it appears that everyone might be wrong, because it's starting to feel like Brees is leaning toward a COMEBACK.
For one, if he was going to retire, it would have made sense to do it at some point in February so the Saints could start planning their future without him.
Also, if you want to see a video of someone who DOES NOT look like they're going to retire, just click here. What that video shows is Brees doing an intense workout on his driveway. In the background of the video, you can hear his trainer say "Something must be brewing" and if you connect the dots, it's not crazy to think that what's brewing might be a comeback.
Brees' trainer leaked the video and there's no way that leak happens unless Brees was on board with it. Also, there's no reason for anyone to be working out that hard unless they're planning to return for another season. If Brees was planning to retire, that would be a video of him eating beignets (In somewhat related news, I love beignets).
My personal theory for the past month -- and I've said it multiple times on the Pick Six podcast -- is that Brees started reconsidering this whole retirement thing after he saw Tom Brady win the Super Bowl. Brees is younger than Brady and he's coming off a season where he beat Brady twice, so it's easy to see how he could talk himself into playing another year.
Brees has already restructured his contract so that he only has a $12.23 million cap hit in 2021, so the idea of a return isn't that far-fetched. The longer Brees waits to announce his retirement, the more likely it is that he won't be announcing his retirement. No matter what happens, this won't drag on much longer because the Saints will need to know his decision before free agency starts on March 17.
7. The Kicker: J.J. Watt apparently does NOT own a Peloton
I didn't think we'd reach it this fast, but it appears we've reached the point of the offseason where fake Peloton profiles are making headlines during NFL free agency. Before Watt announced his deal with the Cardinals on Monday, a picture of his Peloton "profile" made the rounds on Twitter and it happened because the "profile" appeared to show his three finalists for free agency.
The only problem is that the Peloton profile was a FAKE. That's right, people are creating fake Peloton profiles in order to fool us all and it worked, because 99% of Twitter fell for the fake profile. The news surrounding the Peloton profile got so out of hand that Watt had to go on Twitter and clarify that he does not own a Peloton bike and that the profile wasn't his.
I think the lesson to be learned here is that if you see someone announcing free agency news on their Peloton profile, it's probably fake.