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We scour the news around the NFL to bring you what matters most to you and your dynasty team: the most current news on players, both superstars and the relative unknowns, and analysis to decipher the respective situations. These are many of the major stories and are not meant to be an exhaustive look at all the recent happenings around the league.
Ian Rapoport tweeted Sunday morning about the future of Tom Brady, “’Up in the air.’ #Bucs QB Tom Brady is considering all options as a would-be free agent in 2023.” Rapoport and Tom Pelissero wrote an accompanying article that suggests Brady will have options after the season. He basically will have four choices: 1) re-sign with Tampa Bay (which seems unlikely given how this season has gone), 2) explore free agency (there are several contenders that could use Brady), 3) accept the nine-figure broadcasting offer from Fox, or 4) take a year or two off. At 45 years of age, Brady knows he does not have much time left in his playing career. At this time, we expect him to flirt with free agency before making a decision.
What a week for Baker Mayfield. He asked for – and was granted – his release from the Carolina Panthers after being told he would be the team’s third-string quarterback. Mayfield was then claimed by the Los Angeles Rams. In fact, the Rams were the only team to put in a waiver claim for the former first-round pick. To acquire Mayfield, the Panthers had traded a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick (likely to be a fifth-rounder) to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were so eager to get rid of Mayfield that they ate $5 million of his salary. So, now Mayfield is a Ram for five games. His salary is $1.3 million. While that may sound expensive (it is), it is mitigated by the potential comp pick if Mayfield signs with another team in free agency this coming offseason. He suited up on Thursday night and entered the game on the second series after John Wolford went three-and-out in the first Rams’ series. Mayfield played fairly well, considering he only had a day to learn the playbook. He completed 22-of-35 passes for 230 yards and one touchdown, the game-winning touchdown with ten seconds left. Coach Sean McVay is an excellent coach. He called the game to Mayfield’s strengths. Beat reporter, Sarah Barshop, tweeted Friday, “Sean McVay said to his knowledge, QB Matthew Stafford won't require any offseason surgery. Stafford is on IR with a spinal cord contusion, but McVay said he anticipates a healthy offseason for the quarterback.” If Matthew Stafford retires, Mayfield has a chance to stick around and be the starter. The team has no draft picks to use on the position and little salary cap space to make a splash in free agency, so Mayfield may be the best option available for Los Angeles. If he is the Rams’ starter, we would expect middle-of-the-road QB2 numbers from Mayfield. Cooper Kupp, and possibly Allen Robinson, will be back, and McVay will have the offseason to find a way to take advantage of Mayfield’s strengths.
Last Thursday, Ian Rapoport tweeted, “Sources: The #Falcons are looking to the future, making a QB switch to rookie Desmond Ridder as the starter--- Atlanta is on its bye week, but when they return, they'll have a new starter. A third-rounder from Cincinnati, Desmond Ridder flashed in the preseason. Now, he'll have the opportunity to do it in the regular season.” This is an unsurprising move given the poor play of Mariota combined with the bye week. Atlanta used the bye week to ready Ridder for the move. He has four games to convince the Falcons not to draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. As for Marcus Mariota, Tom Pelissero tweeted the financial implications of the move, “Marcus Mariota is due $12 million in 2023 -- including a $3 million roster bonus due on the 5th day of the league in March. So, a decision looms on his future as the #Falcons move on to Desmond Ridder.” If Mariota is released before the bonus is due, the team only has a $2.5 million cap hit. This move likely signals the end of Mariota’s tenure in Atlanta. With a 5-8 record, the team will miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year; Atlanta looks to the future to see what they have with the rookie.
Adam Schefter gave a sliver of hope for a Jimmy Garoppolo playoff appearance last week, tweeting that Garoppolo could return from the foot injury in 7 or 8 weeks. Is it possible? Yes. Is it probable? No. The good news is that Garoppolo avoided the dreaded Lisfranc injury. There are two things working against a Garoppolo playoff return: 1) his return from the foot injury and 2) Brock Purdy getting the 49ers deep enough in the playoffs to still be alive (likely NFC Championship Game). Make no mistake, the seventh-rookie has played well. But how will he fare in the big-stage playoff games? They will be a far cry from Iowa State.
Sunday morning, Ian Rapoport reported that much of the world expects the Detroit Lions to use quarterback Jared Goff as a bridge, but "the plan is for Jared Goff to be in Detroit for the future." The quarterback was acquired in the Matthew Stafford trade. With the full set of weapons, Goff and company lit up the Vikings Sunday and now sit at 5-7 with an outside chance at a playoff berth. Detroit will have an interesting decision with the first-round pick acquired from Los Angeles (in the Stafford trade) could land Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. Decisions are easy to discuss in theory but it is difficult to pass up a chance at a young, top-end starter.
The Ravens activated star tailback J.K. Dobbins Saturday ahead of the game against the Broncos. Baltimore will rely on the running game until Lamar Jackson returns from his knee injury. The team has a full cache of running backs and will employ a committee, per usual, but Dobbins played the starter’s role in the victory over Pittsburgh.
The New York Jets have oodles of talent at seemingly every position, sans quarterback. Head coach Robert Saleh told reporters that rookie tailback Zonovan Knight is "not going anywhere" as Michael Carter returned to the field from his ankle injury. New York has fellow rookie, Breece Hall, on injured reserve. The talent and depth at the position are as good as any in the league. Knight is an undrafted gem from North Carolina State and seems to have a long-term future with the Jets. He started over Carter and received the most touches against the Bills Sunday.
Running backs in the NFL have a limited career length, and the end comes very fast for most. After being the de facto starter for the Rams early in the season, we were surprised to see Darrell Henderson released. He was claimed by the Jaguars, who were searching for depth behind Travis Etienne after trading James Robinson. Well, Jacksonville waived Henderson Friday. Sure, he will be claimed again, but the end is coming quickly.
Saturday, Ian Rapoport tweeted, “The #Cowboys are activating WR James Washington (foot) from Injured Reserve, and he’ll play on Sunday, source said. Earlier this week, coach Mike McCarthy said Washington was ‘ready to go.’” After the brief and unsuccessful courtship of Odell Beckham, Washington will give the Cowboys a needed down-the-field playmaker. Washington hurt his foot in August and is just now getting healthy. We expect him to slowly be worked into the lineup. Dallas has not used three-receiver sets as much of late, which may limit Washington’s fantasy upside. The entire Cowboys offense looked out of sync so it may take a few weeks to determine Washington’s role.
Last week, Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett told reporters that rookie tight end Greg Dulcich is being used in a wide receiver role. With the offense in a mess, Dulcich has been a bright spot. He has missed much of his rookie season with an injury, but still flashing immense potential. Dulcich makes an attractive “buy” candidate this offseason and will be a popular name on “undervalued” lists come August.
While Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz was accepting his “Man of the Year” award for the team, he told reporters that he had surgery to repair both his ACL and MCL. Ertz added that he “hopes” to be ready for Week 1 next year. Ertz is a quality fantasy starter when healthy, so this injury is a big one. There is a strong possibility that the Cardinals will go through major changes in the offseason, including the coaching staff. The Cardinals seem to disappoint every year, and 2022 is no different.
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