NFL Draft Talk Volume IX
As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level. What big name veteran player deals will get negotiated and or done at the Combine? While most of the media attention at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine will be on the men in tights running 40 yard dashes, flexing their muscles on the bench press and trying to dazzle their potential employers with their on-field workouts, there will be conversations being had and deals being made behind closed doors and in the rafters of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this weekend. Many NFL teams have hidden agendas and intentions that they can’t officially disclose until the start of the new league year in two weeks as they use this event to negotiate deals with agents and other ball clubs to resign, extend or trade for the proven high valued veterans that are about to hit the open market, or in the case of Antonio Brown aka “Mr. Big Chest”, are simply looking for a fresh start with a new team that is willing to pay the price. Here is a short list of pending free agent deals and player trades that could get done over the weekend or at least agreed upon in principle:
DE Demarcus Lawrence: The man nicknamed “Tank” is primed to finally cash in after racking up 25 sacks in two seasons. He followed up his breakout season in 2017 when he had 14.5 sack with another double-digit year last season with 10.5 and is widely viewed as the top pass rusher in this year’s unrestricted free agent class. He’s already had the franchise placed on him for the second straight year and the Cowboys seem determined to get a long-term deal done so that they won’t get slapped with that hefty salary cap hit.
LB CJ Mosley: The Baltimore Ravens usually wait until the midnight hour to strike deals with there pending star free agents, but they do not let cornerstone players like Mosley hit the open market. The fifth-year inside linebacker who has made the Pro Bowl in all but one of the years he’s been in the league will likely become the highest paid middle backer in the league or get compensated on par with Panthers’ Luke Kuechly.
LB/DE Jadeveon Clowney: The Texans hybrid pass rusher has rebounded well from a disappointing first couple of seasons in the league to make three straight Pro Bowls, posting 24.5 sacks and shook off any premature notions that he was a “bust” after being taken No.1 overall in the 2014 draft. Houston hasn’t decided to tag him yet but if he reaches the open market then they could get outbid for his services by teams with more cap space.
S Landin Collins: Collins has gone to three straight Pro Bowls since 2016, has posted nearly or over 100 tackles every year he’s been in the league and has been the best player on the Giants defense for since they drafted him. He hasn’t been tagged either and the lack of active negotiations between him and the organization has been talked about ad nauseam in the media. Maybe the two parties can begin aggressive talks at the combine.
S Tyrann Mathieu: While the safety market has been the ugly red-headed stepchild in terms of attention and salary garnered in recent years, the man nicknamed “the Honey Badger” is a versatile defensive back that can play safety, nickel corner and can even line up outside in a pinch. He’ll fetch a fair price this offseason and the Texans might have to choose between resigning either him or Clowney to long term deals, but I doubt that they’ll be able to retain both.
OLB Dee Ford: While the most recent memory ingrained in people’s minds of Ford is of him lining up offsides in the AFC championship, he had his best season to date in the final year of his contract. He made his first Pro Bowl after posting a career-high 13 sacks and seven forced fumbles. The Chiefs may not have the kind of cap flexibility to retain him as they have many other contracts of coming up in the near future.
DT Grady Jarrett: The fourth-year defensive tackle has provided consistent interior pressure for Atlanta Falcons defense. He stat totals have increased each year as the ascending talent is well on his way to getting a lucrative deal done with the organization that drafted him as general manager Thomas Demitroff expressed that he is diligently working and is confident that a deal will get done before the league new year.
DE Frank Clark: The Seattle Seahawks took a chance on the Michigan product four years ago and he has made their investment of a second-round pick look like a wise one as he has amassed 35 sacks during his time as a member of the stout Seahawks defense that included a career high in sacks (13), forced fumbles (3), solo tackles (33) and quarterback hits (27). Seattle’s front office is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they retain their star pass rusher for years to come, even if that includes placing a $17 million franchise tag that will buy them more time to negotiate and keep him off the market.
DE Tre Flowers: The New England Patriots hardly ever shell out big contracts to pass rushers, even if they are homegrown talent. This makes the two-time Superbowl champion defensive end a prime candidate to hit the market and cash in with some pass rush-needy team that is willing to fork over the kind of money he wants.
QB Nick Foles: Now that the former Superbowl MVP is slated to become an unrestricted free agent, teams that are not impressed with this year’s crop of rookie quarterbacks and feel as if they are a competent QB away from contending for a title. With a less than impressive class of veteran quarterbacks set to become available, Foles will control the game of musical chairs for free agent quarterbacks. The Jags are the earlier favorite to acquire his services, but Miami could be another option as neither team is committed to and are looking to upgrade from their current starters.
OLB Justin Huston: Despite putting up solid numbers over the past two years, the Kansas City Chiefs are actively shopping, and fielding offers to trade their four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher as they look to the future and aim to get younger and CHEAPER going forward.