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Welcome, everyone, to my new column called Monday Morning GM. Each week leading up to the start of training camp, I’ll run down some of the latest buzz swirling around the NFL. In addition to news items, I’ll also pass along some of the juiciest rumors and speculation that is being passed through the scouting community.
Sure, there are no football games to be played until August—but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of lack of things to talk about. Quite the contrary in fact, as the offseason is some of the best drama we see unfold in the NFL all year long.
There is no offseason, only a non-playing season—so let’s get right to it.
Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller might become the league’s highest-paid defender in the near future. The Denver Broncos are ready to place the franchise tag on Miller if they can’t work out a new long-term deal with the superstar pass-rusher before the start of the new league year. With the franchise tag in place, the Broncos would have until July 15th to get a new deal done.
However, placing the franchise tag on him doesn’t automatically guarantee he’ll remain with the Broncos.
Sources tell me that the Jacksonville Jaguars are preparing to make a serious run at Miller—even if that means they have to seriously overpay to get him. The Jaguars currently have the second-most salary cap space of any team this offseason. At this time, the Jaguars have over $74 million to sign free agents.
If the Broncos place the non-exclusive franchise tag on Miller, then any team offering him to a deal larger than Denver wants to pay would have to surrender their first-round pick to Denver. The Jaguars currently have the fifth-overall pick, but even that premium pick would be well worth surrendering to add a talent like Miller.
If the Broncos place the exclusive franchise tag on Miller—which would require two first-round picks be surrendered—that should be enough to keep teams like the Jaguars away.
It’s Been Fun Chicago
Chicago Bears impending free-agent running back Matt Forte has been informed by the team that they will not attempt to re-sign him this offseason. Once this news came across the wire at Footballguys, it was quickly followed by a flood of stories with “good fit/bad fit” proclamations.
So who is the team that makes the most sense for Forte?
I’ve been told to watch out for the New England Patriots here. The Patriots backfield was so disrupted by injury this year that they actually dusted off veteran Steven Jackson—and gave him carries in the postseason!
Adding a talent like Forte would make a lot of sense. Forte is a full-time back who doesn’t need to come off the field. He’s a proven workhorse back who has played 594 more snaps than any other running back in the NFL since he entered the league in 2008.
With Dion Lewis returning from injury in 2016, the Patriots could have a helluva 1-2 punch in the backfield if they add Forte. He might be the best running back available on the free agent market, and let’s face it; doesn’t adding Forte just seem like a master stroke the Patriots would make? Stay tuned.
Doug E Fresh You’re On
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin is set to be an unrestricted free agent, and there’s a chance he might not be returning to the Bucs in 2016. Martin would cost the Bucs around $11.5 million if they give him the franchise tag, and that is a figure that Tampa can afford with plenty of salary cap space available this year.
Rick Stroud, of the Tampa Bay Times, reports the two sides are not close to an extension and Martin may test the free agent waters.
A team that could be considering Martin is the Tennessee Titans. I like second-year pro David Cobb, but he lacks the all-purpose skill set that Martin has. New Titans general manager Jon Robinson was the director of player personnel with the Buccaneers, so he and Martin have a previous working relationship.
Martin has to get a new nickname—regardless of he’s playing for a new team or not. “The Muscle Hamster” is a nickname he doesn’t like, and it just sounds plain stupid. As an old school hip-hop fan, I like calling Martin “Doug E Fresh.”
I’ll let Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick handle it from here…
It seems like everyone under the sun has an opinion on Cam Newton’s post-Super Bowl press conference. He was sullen and unhappy after the game—understandably, but most take issue with him leaving the press conference early.
What has not been discussed that often is the setup of the press conferences after the game. Newton likely left for the locker room because he could hear Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr exclaiming the team’s plan for the Super Bowl was to make Newton throw as much as possible. With only a curtain between the two, the sound traveled easily and can clearly be heard during Newton’s presser.
Harris wasn’t talking trash—he was just telling the truth—but Newton had enough and walked away in a moment that has his haters proclaiming “See, I told you so!”
Good friend Frank Schwab, of Yahoo! Sports, has covered multiple Super Bowls and takes no issue with the setup.
“I’ve criticized the NFL on a lot of things, but I won’t pile on for their Super Bowl media setup. It’s very convenient, especially if you want to talk to players from both teams.” Schwab said. “I’ve never had an issue with how they have done the postgame interviews.”
Schwab continued, “Chris Harris was loud (understandable, since he just won a Super Bowl), and I guess it was unfortunate Cam heard him, but blasting the setup as cheap is just wrong.”
Snubbed From the Combine
Every NFL fan should already have NFLDraftScout.com bookmarked. Rob Rang and Dane Brugler cover the NFL draft better than most, and they publish must-read columns on a weekly basis.
This week, Brugler lists his top snubs and surprises for the 2016 Scouting Combine. Some of these players are guys who showed well during the All-Star road trip (East-West Shrine Game, Reese’s Senior Bowl) this January.
While some may wonder how National Champion quarterback Jake Coker (Alabama) could be snubbed, I’m going to point out UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel. Earlier this year in Tampa during the week of practice for the Shrine Game, I felt that Frohnapfel backed up what he showed on film. He’s got the size and arm strength to be an intriguing developmental prospect. Having him at the Scouting Combine would’ve given him another venue to show off his talent for NFL scouts. I’ll be watching to see where he lands in the pros.
Running backs Aaron Green (TCU) and Keenan Reynolds (Navy) should have been invited to Indy. Green showed good shiftiness and quickness at the Senior Bowl. Reynolds showed off as a runner in the open field at the Shrine Game. Both have the skill set to be playmakers at the pro level.
I’m also surprised that Baylor wide receiver Jay Lee is not going to be at the Combine. At 6’3” 215 pounds, Lee is a big-bodied possession receiver. He showed well during the week of practice for the Senior Bowl, displaying the ability to use his frame to box out smaller defenders consistently. It’s a mistake not to have him perform in front of scouts in Indy.
The NFL is not a quarterback-driven league…it’s a quarterback-desperate league! It’s no surprise that a few stories came across the wire at Footballguys that had to do with teams showing interest in quarterbacks—either through the draft or free agency.
Mary Kay Cabot, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, reports the Browns could be drafting a quarterback in the 2016 NFL draft. With the second-overall pick in the draft, look for either Carson Wentz (North Dakota State) or Jared Goff (California) to be high on the Browns’ draft board.
Aaron Wilson, from the Houston Chronicle, reports the Houston Texans are interested in a couple of rookie quarterbacks. They should be interested as Brian Hoyer is set to be their starter for 2016. We could see them add a quarterback through the draft, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a rookie like Wentz or Paxton Lynch (Memphis) win the starting job in training camp.
Not all the stories this week were about rookie quarterbacks.
Brandon George, from the Dallas Morning News, reports that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones loves Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III III. It’s not official yet, but everyone under the sun expects Washington to cut Griffin loose—and a second chance should do him a world of good. Going back to Texas (he played college ball for Baylor) could work out for Griffin. He’d be the backup behind oft-injured Tony Romo and give the Cowboys a potential quarterback of the future.
Read This, Not That
Former NFL scout, Daniel Jeremiah, is one of the best in the business when it comes to covering the NFL and the NFL draft. You have to read everything he writes in addition to subscribing to his podcast Move The Sticks on Itunes. Long-time listeners of The Audible will remember that Jeremiah started in the media with a full season of shows with Sigmund and I way back in 2009.
This week, Jeremiah writes about the key questions that need to be answered at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. Check it out, and share it via social networking!
If you need a good laugh (or just want to roll your eyes), then check out Hub Arkush trying to defend Nolan Nawrocki’s scouting report on Cam Newton. The most accurate line from this piece is: Nawrocki’s scouting report wasn’t perfect by a longshot. And in perfect Forrest Gump form, that’s all I have to say about that.