As the NFL turns its attention to the draft and free agency, Dallas Cowboys reporter Todd Archer, Washington Redskins reporter John Keim, Philadelphia Eagles reporter Tim McManus and New York Giants reporter Jordan Raanan look to the 2018 season with a series of questions this week.
Tuesday’s question: How will Alex Smith‘s addition to the Redskins impact the division?
Keim: The Redskins internally say they’ve upgraded at quarterback. Of course, that could be justification for going in a different direction — toward Smith and away from Kirk Cousins — as not everyone in the NFL agrees with them. But for part of the season Smith was in the MVP discussion, and if nothing else, he and Cousins are at a comparable level. Smith offers the ability to make more off-schedule plays — it’s how he helped the Chiefs beat Washington last season, and that’s always a plus. But here’s the biggest plus for Washington: Smith is a lot cheaper. And that’s how he’ll impact the division. The only way Washington could have retained Cousins was via one of the tags. Let’s say it opted for the transition tag, the cheaper of the two. Washington would have paid Cousins $28.8 million. Smith will count $17 million on the cap this season. So the Redskins will have around $34 million to spend on other players rather than just $23 million, giving them the ability to retain some of their own free agents, extend young players or sign others. Smith’s presence alone isn’t enough, but his ability plus the extra cap room will allow the Redskins to build — if they spend wisely.
McManus: I don’t think it moves the needle drastically in either direction. They aren’t identical in their playing style, but Smith and Cousins are similar. They are both quality quarterbacks capable of winning (and even winning big) in the right system with a strong supporting cast, but in a tier below the magic-making QBs who can throw a franchise on their shoulders. Smith has completed 67 percent of his passes with an average of 20 touchdowns to seven interceptions over his last three seasons; Cousins also has a 67 percent completion rate over that span while averaging 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Cousins is more aggressive as a passer, and Smith is a bit more active with his legs. It’s close to a wash in my view. If anything, Washington may have weakened itself at quarterback considering Cousins has more upside at this stage and is 29 years old. Smith is 33. The Redskins have a chance to find success under Smith — and who knows, maybe he’ll be a better fit for coach Jay Gruden — but the move from Cousins to Smith heightens the urgency to find the quarterback of the future.
Raanan: Not much. He’s a competent quarterback no doubt but a downgrade in my estimation from Kirk Cousins. Smith is going to be 34 years old by the start of the season. This will be the homestretch of his career and he’s never thrown 30 touchdown passes in a season. He doesn’t strike fear into opposing defenses, especially with his limitations throwing the ball deep downfield. The Redskins can win with Smith if they have the right pieces around him. But do they? They need a running back. They need a No. 1 wide receiver. They need to keep tight end Jordan Reed healthy. They need to upgrade their defense. If they can do most or all of those things in the next year or two then the Alex Smith move can make waves in the NFC East. Otherwise it seems like a shortsighted move for an above-average quarterback in his final few productive seasons. The rest of the division should barely pay it any attention right now.
Archer: From a Cowboys’ perspective, seeing Cousins out of the division isn’t a good thing. He had some big passing days against the Cowboys but a 1-6 record. To me, Smith can be more dynamic than Cousins because of his ability when things break down. Yes, he is older, but he has not shown a signs of unwillingness to leave the pocket to make plays. He is also risk averse. In his five-year run with the Kansas City Chiefs, he did not have more than eight interceptions in a season. His best season was 2017, with more than 4,000 yards passing, 26 touchdown passes and five interceptions. But he won’t have Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill or Kareem Hunt around him. Coach Jay Gruden wanted Cousins to pull the trigger more, especially down the field. It will be interesting to see if Gruden will get frustrated by Smith in the same manner. First, the Redskins will have to give Smith more skill players, especially at receiver, where they were still waiting for Josh Doctson to break out. If tight end Jordan Reed can stay healthy, that would help. And an improved running game would also help. Smith isn’t a carry-the-load type of quarterback like, say, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but he can win games.
Green Bay Packers complete deal with Houston Texans for Randall Cobb
Green Bay said they sent Houston an undisclosed draft pick in return. A source told ESPN that the Packers only had to give up a sixth-round pick and got the Texans to eat $3 million of Cobb’s salary; the cap hit on the Packers will be slightly under $3 million.
Cobb, who will turn 31 on Aug. 22, played his first eight seasons in Green Bay, where he was one of Aaron Rodgers‘ go-to receivers — especially in the slot.
Earlier Wednesday, Cobb tweeted: “I’M COMING HOME!”
I’M COMING HOME! 💚💛 pic.twitter.com/qxSwkQo89f
— Randall Cobb (@rcobb18) July 28, 2021
He left in free agency following the 2018 season and spent one year with the Dallas Cowboys. He then signed a three-year, $27 million deal with Houston, where he played 10 games last season — one more than he did during his final season in Green Bay, where he battled lingering hamstring problems. He suffered a toe injury in Week 11 last year and missed six games. He finished with 38 catches, 441 yards and three touchdowns.
Rodgers hasn’t had a true slot receiver since Cobb’s departure. To fill that void in their offense, the Packers drafted Amari Rodgers in the third round of this year’s draft.
Apparently, Rodgers-to-Cobb had a better ring to it than Rodgers-to-Rodgers, but it’s unclear if bringing back Cobb was a condition of Rodgers’ return or merely a suggestion that the Packers decided to honor. When Cobb left the Packers, he did so ranked sixth in franchise history with 470 catches and 11th in both receiving yards (5,524) and touchdown catches (41). His best season came in 2014, when he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. That was one of two times in his career in which he did not miss a game.
While Cobb’s role is yet to be determined and could hinge largely on his ability to stay healthy, he also could help mentor Amari Rodgers. There’s already a connection between the two; Rodgers’ father, Tee Martin, coached Cobb in college at Kentucky.
The trade no doubt will include a contract restructure for Cobb, who was scheduled to make $8.25 million this season.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll hopeful Jamal Adams’ extension gets done ‘very soon’
“The conversations have been ongoing for some time and been very amicable,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. “He’s in a good place. They’ve worked really hard to this point. I’m very hopeful that it’s going to get taken care of here soon, very soon.”
Adams reported for training camp Tuesday along with the rest of the team, as expected. He didn’t take part Wednesday in the team’s first practice but appeared engaged while watching from the sideline, high-fiving some teammates and instructing others while wearing his jersey and a Seahawks baseball cap.
Asked if Adams not practicing was contract-related, Carroll gave an indirect answer noting that he’s recovering from offseason surgeries on his shoulder and fingers.
“He wouldn’t be working yet,” Carroll said. “So it’s OK at this time right now. He’s out there for the walk-throughs and he’s in the meetings and all that kind of stuff.”
Another Seahawk who’s seeking a new deal, left tackle Duane Brown, was also a spectator during Wednesday’s practice. Carroll said it’s not an injury issue and described Brown not practicing as a maintenance matter, as he did when Brown attended minicamp but didn’t practice.
Carroll declined to discuss whether the Seahawks and Brown are in negotiations on an extension.
“He did the whole walk-through today,” Carroll said of Brown, who turns 36 next month. “Starting up camp. Got a long haul. He looked great. He’s in great shape. Hopefully we’ll get a ton of work over the course of time but right now we’ve got extra guys at left tackle, that helps us a little bit with rotations, so he didn’t work today.”
Jamarco Jones filled in for Brown with the No. 1 offense Wednesday. Kyle Fuller was at center as Ethan Pocic didn’t practice because of what Carroll described as a nagging hamstring injury, though he was not placed on the physically unable to perform list.
The Seahawks put rookie wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge and running back Travis Homer (calf) on PUP to begin camp. Eskridge, chosen in the second round with Seattle’s first of three draft picks, was sidelined earlier in the offseason with an injured big toe.
“We’re going to hold a really good thought that we can get him back out here in a week or two,” Carroll said Wednesday.
Defensive end Aldon Smith practiced Wednesday for the first time since signing a one-year deal with Seattle in April. The Seahawks excused him from minicamp because Smith didn’t feel like he was ready physically.
He’s scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 24 on a battery charge in Louisiana.
“He’s worked really hard here throughout the summer,” Carroll said. “I didn’t think it was time for him back in the springtime just because we didn’t know the body of work coming in, but he’s in really good shape now, he’s worked really hard to get here and excited to see what he looks like.”
Carroll said 90 of the 91 players on Seattle’s roster have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccination. The lone holdout, whom Carroll did not identify, has “real personal reasons” for not getting the vaccine.
“Our guys made an extraordinary effort to take care of one another,” Carroll said. “The statement they made, particularly the guys who were uncertain about what to do, they made a decision based on their team as well as themselves and they wanted to do what was best for everybody and what would be safest for everyone. It’s a marvelous statement that our guys made.”
New York Jets’ contract dispute with Zach Wilson a bad look, makes no sense – New York Jets Blog
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — After a promising offseason that reenergized their fan base, the New York Jets reminded everyone Wednesday not everything has changed for the better.
Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the new face of the franchise as the Jets’ No. 2 overall draft pick this year, was nowhere to be found on the first day of training camp. The first-team offense was commanded by Mike White, a former practice squad player who has yet to take a snap in an NFL game.
If it had been an open practice, the fans would have booed the Jets, justifiably so.
Thirty-one of the 32 first-round draft picks are under contract. The only one that isn’t … well, you know the answer. It was an embarrassing day for the Jets, who committed an open-field fumble.
The amount of Wilson’s rookie deal is slotted based on his draft position, No. 2. All New York has to do is fill in a few blanks on the contract and cross some Ts.
The Jets and Wilson’s agents are squabbling over contract language — not money, mind you. Language. The primary sticking point is the offset clause, which provides the team with financial protection in the unlikely event it cuts Wilson before his four-year, $35.2 million contract (fully guaranteed) is complete.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) July 28, 2021
Let’s make one thing clear: A negotiation over an offset isn’t unique to the Jets. Every team deals with it. In fact, 30 of 32 teams (the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars ) typically include offsets in contracts that have guaranteed money, the Jets among them.
So why are the Jets the only team that hasn’t struck a deal with its first-round draft pick?
Another issue is the payment schedule of the $22 million signing bonus on Wilson’s deal. That, too, came up in the 2018 negotiation with quarterback Sam Darnold, and the Jets wound up paying the entire bonus within 15 days of Darnold signing. It’s unclear why the Jets are trying to defer some of the money with Wilson. This isn’t rocket science; it’s a basic contract negotiation.
Exacerbating the problem, the Jets declined to add a veteran quarterback in the offseason, putting all their eggs in the Wilson basket. That was a bad decision on multiple levels. No disrespect to White and James Morgan, a 2020 fourth-round pick who has no pro experience, but the Jets left themselves with no fallback options.
They dealt with a similar situation when Darnold missed three practices because of a contract dispute. In that case, they had veterans Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater on the roster, reducing the sense of urgency.
Not this time.
They need Wilson in camp ASAP. Every rep matters. The Jets have 20 practices and three preseason games to get him ready for Sept. 12 against the Carolina Panthers. Every missed day hurts him. Every missed day hurts the receiving corps. On Wednesday, it was a dink-and-dunk fest, with White and Morgan throwing almost everything under 10 yards.
This is no way to build chemistry in a new offensive scheme.
The Jets haven’t reached a crisis point, yet. Wilson could show up Thursday or Friday and this mess will be forgotten by next week. But for now, it’s a bad optic. Coach Robert Saleh was asked when he “needs” Wilson in camp. He smiled and said, “Ask me again tomorrow.”
Saleh did his best to put on a brave face, saying kind things about White and Morgan, but you can bet he is anxious to get his QB1 into camp. Publicly, he has to tow the company line, but no one is believing his happy talk.
That exciting offseason? It loses some luster each day of the contract dispute.
On Saturday, the fans show up to watch training camp for the first time since 2019. If Wilson isn’t on the field, the fans will bring a Bronx cheer to New Jersey.
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