Washington Interested In Trading Up For Quarterback?

Although Washington signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and extended Taylor Heinicke this offseason, the team remains in need at the sport’s most important position. The franchise may be prepared to trade up for a quarterback.

Ron Rivera is interested in moving up for a passer, according to ProFootballNetwork.com’s Tony Pauline. Washington is believed to be high on Trey Lance, but there may be a catch. The WFT is not overly interested in giving up a mountain of draft capital to climb from No. 19 to No. 4, but Pauline notes a quarterback sliding to around the No. 8 spot would be appealing to the franchise. However, a climb to the Falcons’ No. 4 slot should not be entirely ruled out.

Three QBs will be gone by No. 3, and the Falcons are in play to select the fourth. No draft has begun with four straight quarterbacks going off the board, and the Falcons are also interested in dealing down the board. Many believe, however, Atlanta will select Kyle Pitts. The Bengals will not take a quarterback and do not sound too interested in trading out of their No. 5 slot. Trading in front of the Broncos (No. 9) could behoove Washington, and it will be interesting to see if the Panthers (No. 8) pull the trigger on the fourth- or fifth-QB prospect. That scenario is not off the table, even after Carolina acquired Sam Darnold, though the Panthers now loom as a team that could trade down.

Washington also may have to compete with the Bears, though Pauline adds that, in addition to trade-up rumors, they will be in the mix for a second-round quarterback. It cost the 49ers two future first-round picks and a 2021 third-rounder to move up nine slots this year. Should one of the top five QBs slide toward the bottom of the top 10, that would still require a considerable haul — given the value these passers are carrying. Lance not being the 49ers’ pick at 3 could prompt Washington to make its move. Justin Fields is expected to be available beyond No. 3 as well.

Rivera said Friday the team’s offseason moves — such as signing Fitzpatrick, Curtis Samuel and William Jackson — created more flexibility going into the draft.

I think [execs] Martin [Mayhew] and Marty [Hurney] and their guys really helped put us in a position where we’ve got to really look at drafting best player available, but always keeping in mind what we feel the true need is,” Rivera said, via NBC Sports Washington. “I think what our front office did and what we were able to do in free agency really helped us. I think we freed ourselves up because of what they did.”

Washington has Fitzpatrick signed for 2021; he will turn 39 later this year. Heinicke is signed through 2022, and Kyle Allen could be under team control through the ’22 season as well. He is attached to an ERFA tender. However, none of these players profiles as a long-term option. Washington, after missing on its past two efforts to acquire a true QB solution (Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins), may be keen on addressing the issue in Rivera’s second draft.

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This Date In Transactions History: Dolphins Acquire Junior Seau From Chargers

For a three-year stretch in the mid-2000s, the Dolphins rostered three All-Decade defenders. Eighteen years ago Friday, Miami brought in Junior Seau to start on its Jason Taylor– and Zach Thomas-led defense.

On April 16, 2003, the Dolphins finalized a trade that brought Seau over from San Diego. It took only a conditional draft choice for the Dolphins to acquire the 13-year Chargers starter, who was 34 at the time of the trade. (That pick ended up becoming a fifth-rounder in 2004, which turned into future LaDainian Tomlinson backup and Falcons Pro Bowler Michael Turner.)

The 2003 offseason brought considerable change for the Chargers, who said goodbye to Seau and Rodney Harrison. While these two would end up teammates again in New England, Seau took a three-season detour. The Dolphins brought Seau over to join a defense that had ranked fourth in 2002; it ranked third in ’03, which turned out to be Seau’s best Miami season.

A Chargers first-round pick in 1990, the San Diego native became the greatest defender in franchise history. Seau ventured to 12 straight Pro Bowls from 1991-2002 and was a first-team All-Decade performer in the 1990s. The USC alum was the best player on the Bolts’ Super Bowl XXIX team, pairing elite tackling skills with pass-rushing ability that allowed him to put together three seven-sack seasons despite not working as a pure rusher. The Chargers, however, moved in a different direction in 2003, allowing Seau to seek a trade. The Bolts paid Seau around $2MM of a $2.7MM roster bonus, which was due the day before the trade was finalized.

Seau started 15 games for the ’03 Dolphins. He posted 96 tackles (12 for loss) and three sacks that season, a 10-6 Dolphins campaign that ended with the team just missing the playoffs. However, the Dave Wannstedt-run team could not generate momentum coming out of the season. The Dolphins started 1-9 in 2004 and fired Wannstedt. Seau battled through injuries — a pectoral tear in 2004 and an Achilles malady in ’05 — and was only able to log 15 games in that span. Prior to joining the Dolphins, Seau had not missed more than three games in a season.

The Dolphins released Seau in 2006, and he retired soon after. However, the Patriots pulled him out of retirement and used him as a starter in 2006. Seau played four more seasons, becoming one of the only NFL defenders to enjoy a 20-year career, before retiring for good in 2010. Tragically, Seau died by suicide in 2012. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2015.

Giants Leaning Toward Edge Rusher In Round 1?

Having needed an edge rusher for a few years now, the Giants may be set to address this need with their top offseason resource.

They have done a lot of work on the top edge defenders in this year’s draft, and sources informed SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano the current sense is this will be the direction the team takes with its No. 11 overall pick. The Giants have spent big to fill needs at wide receiver and cornerback, in adding Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson, but have lacked a long-term, starter-caliber edge rusher since trading Olivier Vernon in 2019.

The Giants could be faced with a major decision — not exactly uncommon for them in recent drafts — if Alabama wide receiver prospects DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle remain on the board. Five quarterbacks may well go in the top 10, pushing down this offense-heavy draft’s top non-QB talents. The Giants have Golladay, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton penciled in as their top three receivers, but it should not be considered a lock the team would pass on potential value here in one of the ex-Crimson Tide stars.

New York is believed to be high on Michigan’s Kwity Paye and Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari, Vacchiano adds. The former ranks as Scouts Inc.’s top draft’s top pass-rushing prospect. With Ojulari ranked outside the top 20 overall, it may be difficult to envision the Giants going in that direction over a higher-value player at 11. Mel Kiper Jr.’s most recent mock has the Giants taking Waddle. A trade-down maneuver seems unlikely, given that GM Dave Gettleman‘s streak of never trading down has now lasted eight drafts — five in Carolina, three with New York.

Should the Giants stay at 11, they are also high on Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater, per Vacchiano. The Giants went tackle at No. 4 overall last year and used a third-round pick on tackle Matt Peart. Nate Solder is also in line to return.

The Giants pursued Leonard Floyd, but he re-signed with the Rams. They passed on the rest of the 2020 pass rusher lot, which was rather crowded for the big-ticket position, and only kept Markus Golden via the rarely used UFA tender last year. The Giants waited until Round 7 to draft a pass rusher in 2020 and have since traded Golden and let 2020 signing Kyler Fackrell sign with the Chargers.

Gettleman passed on edge talent Josh Allen in 2019, drafting Daniel Jones instead and lost out on Chase Young thanks to a late-season win over Washington in 2019. The Giants’ need at outside linebacker has persisted, though the emergence of Leonard Williams as a sack artist may lessen the desperation at this spot to some degree.

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Dolphins, Rams Join Teams Skipping Offseason Workouts

Half the NFL teams have now pledged not to attend voluntary offseason workouts. Well, the bulk of the players on those teams have. The Dolphins and Rams became the latest to do so.

Both teams issued statements Friday, via the NFLPA (on Twitter), indicating their players will not attend the start of the NFL’s offseason workouts. This year’s program is scheduled to start Monday. The Dolphins and Rams are the 15th and 16th teams to have released statements indicating most or all of their players will not be in attendance.

Neither the Dolphins nor the Rams offered the “many players will not attend” caveat, as some teams have, and they will move forward with virtual programs. No on-field work can take place until May 17, the second phase of the offseason itineraries, but teams can begin work at their respective facilities from April 19 through May 14.

Last year, the NFL and NFLPA came to an agreement — in the initial months of the pandemic — the offseason would be entirely virtual. The NFLPA is pushing for that arrangement to continue, even as COVID-19 vaccines are now available. A rookie minicamp will be part of the on-field workouts that begin in Phase 2, so it will be interesting to see how teams’ rookie draftees and UDFAs proceed.

Here are the teams that have issued statements regarding their players’ intention not to attend offseason programs:

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Bears Sign WR Marquise Goodwin

Marquise Goodwin will be affiliated with a third team this offseason. After seeing his rights sent from the Eagles back to the 49ers, the veteran wide receiver became a free agent. The Bears will end that stay.

The former Olympian agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Bears on Friday. Goodwin has not played since the 2019 season, having opted out in 2020.

While Goodwin was part of San Francisco’s Super Bowl LIV-qualifying squad, he did not hold a regular role. The 49ers reduced his offensive responsibilities before placing him on IR then traded him to the Eagles during the 2020 draft.

The 49ers gave Goodwin a three-year, $20.3MM deal in March 2018 but ended up regretting the pact. The Eagles sent the 49ers to the Eagles in a pick-swap trade involving 2020 sixth-rounders. When Goodwin reverted back to the 49ers in March, San Francisco sent a 2021 seventh-rounder back to Philly. After spending a month in free agency, the 30-year-old wideout will join the Bears’ Allen Robinson-led receiving corps.

Months after qualifying for the London Games in the long jump, the 5-foot-9 wideout blazed to a 4.27-second 40-yard dash time at the 2013 Combine. He went to the Bills in the third round. The ex-Texas Longhorn has shown flashes as a receiver, most notably during a 962-yard 2017 slate that did not involve Jimmy Garoppolo until late in the season, and has some experience as a kick returner. Despite Goodwin’s speed, however, he has not returned a kick since the 2015 season.

This move comes nearly a year after the Bears signed Ted Ginn, a fellow speedster with 49ers experience. Ginn, however, did not play a big role on Chicago’s offense and did not last the season in the Windy City. The Bears have Robinson, Darnell Mooney and Anthony Miller positioned as their top three wideouts. However, Miller may still be on the trade block.

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Poll: Who Will Falcons Draft At No. 4?

This year’s draft is almost certain to begin with Trevor Lawrence going to the Jaguars and Zach Wilson to the Jets, making the 49ers’ No. 3 overall pick the beginning of what promises to be a drama-filled top 10. Just behind San Francisco, however, a team faces a more complicated decision.

Picking in the top five for the first time in 13 years, the Falcons hold the No. 4 overall selection. They have a few intriguing options; each would represent drastically different paths for the franchise. After previously not being on the same page about the pick, new GM Terry Fontenot and new HC Arthur Smith are believed to be in agreement now. Which way should the franchise go?

Fontenot was believed to be leaning toward acquiring Matt Ryan‘s heir apparent. There are reasons to support this route. Ryan will turn 36 this year, has not made a Pro Bowl — in the easiest era for such an honor — since his MVP 2016 season, and the Falcons have a rare opportunity to draft one of this year’s prized QB prospects. While late-blooming prospects will likely emerge, the 2022 quarterback class is not currently rated highly. Drafting Trey Lance, Mac Jones or Georgia native Justin Fields — two will be available — would give the Falcons a player around whom the new regime could build. The Falcons proceeding in this direction would make this the first time a draft has started with four quarterbacks being chosen.

[RELATED: Who Will 49ers Draft At No. 3?]

When the duo was believed to be split, Smith was viewed as being in favor of selecting a player who could help a still-Ryan-centric team. With Ryan still an above-average quarterback, and the Falcons possessing needs elsewhere, a case certainly exists for the team to stay the course with its veteran passer. The Falcons having restructured Ryan’s contract earlier this year also would limit their benefit from a rookie-QB salary in 2022. The Jaguars and Jets have no veteran quarterback contract of note on their books, and the 49ers can part ways with Jimmy Garoppolo without much of a dead-cap hit. The Falcons have more than $40MM in Ryan signing bonus money prorated beyond 2021.

With the 49ers having traded up for a quarterback, the Falcons have the chance to take this year’s top non-QB prospect. Many experts believe that is Kyle Pitts, and many around the league expect the Falcons to draft the Florida tight end. Pitts said the Falcons are interested, and the 6-foot-6 pass catcher would team with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley to form an imposing aerial trio. The Falcons could also take Oregon tackle Penei Sewell. However, the team has 29-year-old left tackle Jake Matthews and used a first-round pick on right tackle Kaleb McGary in 2019.

Option 3 would be moving the pick. The Falcons are interested in moving down, likely eyeing the type of trade package the Dolphins received (three first-rounders and a third) to do so. Multiple teams have contacted the Falcons about moving up. Washington is believed to be high on Lance, while Broncos GM George Paton has been busy trekking to QBs’ pro days. The Bears are eager to acquire a long-term QB as well, though Washington and Chicago’s draft slots — Nos. 19 and 20 overall — would up Atlanta’s asking price.

So, how will the Falcons proceed? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

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Marshawn Lynch, Bucs Discussed Deal

Tom Brady‘s Tampa Bay arrival led to the Buccaneers adding two All-Decade-teamers last year, with Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown joining the future Hall of Fame quarterback with his new team. But Brady had another high-profile veteran in mind as well.

During a December interview with Conan O’Brien, Marshawn Lynch said he spoke with multiple teams about another NFL comeback last year. The Bucs were one of them. Lynch said, during a Sports Nation appearance on ESPN+ (via JoeBucsFan.com), he spoke with the Bucs about continuing his career. Lynch indicated he and Brady discussed a possible Bucs agreement.

Lynch did not play last season, and it does not sound like the All-Decade running back will continue his career. Although the Seahawks signed him late in the 2019 season, Lynch said he is not currently in condition to come back to the NFL.

The five-time Pro Bowler returned to play in three Seahawks games at age 33. While the power back did not gain many yards, he managed to score four touchdowns — one in Week 17 of that season and three in two Seattle playoff games — in his second NFL comeback. The Bucs have a backfield full of veterans at present, having re-signed Leonard Fournette and added Giovani Bernard. One season remains on Ronald Jones‘ rookie contract.

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Chargers, Falcons, Steelers, Texans, Jets To Skip OTAs

3:57pm: Add the Jets and Texans to this list. They are the 13th and 14th teams to reveal players will not show up Monday. Veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweeted the Texans voted not to attend. Though, the Jets (Twitter link) join the Chargers and Falcons by pointing out that “many players” have agreed to do so. Some are likely to attend workouts.

3:47pm: Three more teams joined the lot of those who have pledged to pass on the NFL’s in-person OTAs this spring. The Chargers, Falcons and Steelers indicated all or most of their players will not attend workouts at team facilities.

The Bolts and Falcons’ statements said “many” of their respective players will not attend workouts (Twitter links), while the Steelers’ statement (on Twitter) provided no such qualifier.

Thus far, these three join the Broncos, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Bears, Browns, Giants, Patriots, Lions and Raiders in vowing to stay away from team facilities this offseason. The Steelers’ statement indicated the protocols that were in place last season are not entirely present for the NFL’s offseason program, creating confusion. Teams can begin holding onsite offseason workouts Monday, and more than half the league’s franchises are set to do so.

The NFL and NFLPA have been discussing offseason protocols for several weeks. No resolution has come, leading union president J.C. Tretter to call for these boycotts. The Chargers, Steelers and Falcons will proceed virtually, though some players — presumably the ones with workout bonuses — will likely show up. It will be interesting how teams navigate this matter after the draft. Draft picks and UDFAs can gain more from onsite offseason work, with the latter group not exactly in position to shun developmental opportunities. How rookies proceed may influence how certain veterans do as well.

For now, however, there are 12 teams who have come forward to say they will stay away from OTAs due to COVID-19 concerns. That list may continue expanding ahead of Monday.

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Giants Meet With CB Jason McCourty

Having already handed out a big cornerback contract this offseason, the Giants are still looking for additional help at the position. They are hosting Jason McCourty on a visit Friday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

This comes a few weeks after a report indicated mutual interest existed between McCourty and the Giants. He will huddle up with former Patriots assistant Joe Judge and other Giants brass to discuss a deal.

A Giants agreement would represent a homecoming of sorts for McCourty, who is a Rutgers alum who also played his high school ball in New Jersey. Jason McCourty, who entered the NFL a year ahead of twin brother Devin, spent the past three seasons with the Patriots. The 33-year-old corner intends to play a 13th season, and the Giants may ensure he does so in his home state. McCourty has a home in New Jersey and has a history with Judge.

The second-year Giants coach was on the Patriots’ staff for Jason McCourty’s first two seasons in New England, though he served as the Pats’ special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach during that span. Despite the Patriots having one of the NFL’s best cornerback contingents last season, McCourty played 65% of the team’s defensive snaps and started 11 games. Pro Football Focus observed a decline in play from the 12th-year veteran, however, dropping him outside the top 75 at cornerback after previously slotting him sixth (in 2018) and 18th (in ’19) at the position.

The Giants have made big-ticket additions at corner in each of the past two offseasons, having added James Bradberry last year and Adoree’ Jackson last month. They also have Logan Ryan locked down as well, after signing the former Patriots and Titans defender late last summer. McCourty, who has 18 career interceptions and three defensive touchdowns, would add to this overhaul under Judge.

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