FMIA: Roger Goodell’s Successor And 8 Issues Facing NFL In Near Future

2021 NFL Draft
Getty Images

Late May. Calm after the storm. In the last 15 months, the NFL has navigated a bargaining agreement with the players union through the 2030 season, signed TV/media deals with the networks through the 2033 season, and became the only American sports league to play a full schedule through the minefield of COVID-19. Now what? [more]

FMIA: NFL Power Rankings Feature Rising Browns, 49ers, Bolts; Middling Pats, Steelers; Falling Vikes, Broncos

NBC Sports Graphic

I really tried this year. I tried to find an NFL phoenix rising from nowhere, a King Picks Detroit to Shock the NFC, because there’s one every year, and we all want to be trendspotters. I just couldn’t do it. I think Kansas City and Tampa Bay are the best teams in football heading into [more]

Dak Prescott is the Comeback Player of the Year favorite

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys
Getty Images

Among the many things on which you can now wager (in the places where you can legally wager) is the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award.

DraftKings has one player as the clear favorite for 2021: Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott, who suffered a season-ending ankle fracture in Week Five of the 2020 season, has +175 odds to win the award.

The next three candidates all have +600 odds: Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, and Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. Each missed significant time last year due to injury.

Ditto for 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa. He’s at +700 after suffering a torn ACL in Week Two of the 2020 season.

Others on the list due to injury include Chargers safety Derwin James (+1600), Broncos linebacker Von Miller (+1600), Bengals running back Joe Mixon (+2000), Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (+2500), Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (+3300), Falcons receiver Julio Jones (+3300), and 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (+5000).

Saints receiver Michael Thomas isn’t listed, but should be.

On the list for what Charean Williams would call “coming back from sucking” are Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (+900), Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (+1600), and Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (+3300).

The odds include players who are coming back from opting out: Bears running back Damien Williams (+8000), Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (+10000), and Jets linebacker CJ Mosley (+10000).

Also on the list are two players coming back from retirement and/or exile: Potential Jaguars tight end Tim Tebow (+3300) and Chiefs tackle Kyle Long (+15000).

The fact that Tebow has the same odds as Hunter, Jones, and Winston is amazing; Tebow isn’t even on a team. And even if the Jaguars sign him (the silence is becoming deafening), he has to make the game-day roster before having a chance to do anything that would justify voting for him.

Personally, I like Wentz at +900. I’d also like another guy who, like Thomas, didn’t make the list. New Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, despite starting 16 games and throwing for more than 4,000 yards last year, will get votes if he has a huge first year in L.A.

FMIA: Schedule No. 102,844 And The Nuttiness Around NFL’s Annual Slate

Kansas City Chiefs v Green Bay Packers
Getty Images

The 13th iteration of the 2021 NFL schedule was perfectly playable. It had been put through all the checks of the 70-game Key Games Chart and rest-disparity metric and the strategic placement of the asterisked Green Bay games and the early Brady-Belichick mega-game. But when the league’s six-person schedule team met by Zoom on Friday, [more]

Return of the PFT Mailbag

Getty Images

Unlike the turning of the seasons or the emergence of the cicadas, the PFT Mailbag knows no temporal cycle. It happens when it happens. And it happens to be that it’s happening now.

With inquiries curated from Twitter, the list of questions and answers appears below.

Follow @ProFootballTalk on Twitter for whenever the next open call for questions emerges, and for quick and easy links to all our stories.

From @Organism_46B: If the Texans had traded Watson before all the allegations against him came out, what would have happened? Would the team that got him be able to rescind the trade somehow? Is there language put into terms of the deal automatically to cover this kind of thing?

If the Texans and another team had finalized and formalized a trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson, the new team would have had no recourse against the Texans. The deal would have been done.

Could the teams have included conditions based on number of games played, number of games suspended, placement on paid leave, etc? Yes. But there would have been no reason to consider such conditions before news of the allegations emerged. The trade would have happened, and the new team would have been stuck.

In this specific case, the first word of the initial lawsuit emerged the night before the commencement of the new league year. If the Texans had a tentative deal in place to trade Watson, the new team could have declined to conclude the deal based on the news of the filing of a civil complaint.

The NFL uses a very simple and mechanical trade process. The two teams agree to terms, the two teams independently communicate those terms to the league office, the league office approves the trade (as it almost always does), and the trade becomes official, whether it’s player(s) for player(s), player(s) for pick(s), or pick(s) for pick(s). If a Watson trade had concluded before news of the off-field issue had emerged, the new team would have been standing in the shoes of the Texans.

From @EdwardGillett: Why aren’t people predicting the chargers to be a 10/11 win team this year? Not going crazy over here, but it’s hard to repeat and Chargers were right there vs the chiefs last year and they’re getting Derwin James back. I just might be missing something, but don’t think so.

Oddsmakers have the over-under win total for the Chargers in the range of nine, so there’s an expectation the Chargers will be good this year. The fact that they compete with the Chiefs in the AFC West prevents the Chargers from getting more buzz. The fact that the Rams like to make big splashes overshadows L.A.’s other team, too.

When the Rams traded for Matthew Stafford — and at the same time unloaded Jared Goff‘s ill-advised contract — it seemed that perhaps the Rams were doing whatever they had to do to stay ahead of the AFC team with which the Rams share a stadium. Quarterback Justin Herbert became an instant star in 2020, looking and moving and throwing like a supersized version of Philip Rivers. Then, after the season ended, the Chargers plucked defensive coordinator Brandon Staley from the Rams. Staley could be on his way to becoming one of the best coaches in the league.

It would help if the Chargers can stay healthy. Yes, safety Derwin James is coming back. But for how long will he be back? After starting all 16 games as a rookie, James has played a total of five games in two years. Injuries are inevitable for every team. In recent years, they seem more inevitable for the Chargers.

Their schedule gives them a chance to get off to a good start, beginning with games at Washington then at home against the Cowboys. The first wave of tests comes in Week Three (at Chiefs), Week Five (Browns), and Week Six (at Ravens).

Can the Chargers be a 10- or 11-win team? Yes. Most fans will choose to remain skeptical. Especially if Aaron Rodgers somehow ends up with the Broncos.

From @Pushpal37863123: There are few reports yesterday about a civil lawsuit against Antonio Brown for alleged non payment to a truck there any potential impact of that on this upcoming season. Please share any insight or knowledge you’ve on this.

The lawsuit alleges assault and battery of the moving truck driver. The incident apparently was sparked by Brown balking at the bill tendered by the driver.

Brown already pleaded no contest to criminal charges arising from the situation. The league already has issued discipline. Thus, the lawsuit should not impact Brown for the upcoming season. He already has been punished.

That said, the litigation itself possibly could prompt misbehavior from Brown that gets him in trouble with the league. Brown lost the lawsuit filed after he trashed an apartment in Miami because he behaved poorly within the confines of the case. If, for example, the process of getting grilled by the driver’s lawyer causes Brown to blow a fuse on camera, he could end up with a fresh problem in the eyes of 345 Park Avenue.

From @XXLfromtheShioc: Do you think the Broncos cut [Ja’Wuan] James at the behest of the NFL to send a message going forward to the players to get the camp?

As one team executive (not with Broncos) observed on Saturday, “You can be assured that the league is advising Denver all the way in this.”

Yes, the Broncos have found themselves squarely in the middle of the cold war between the league and the union regarding the attempt to boycott voluntary offseason workouts. Indeed, the league seized on the news of the James injury to send a memo to all teams reminding them of something they already have known for decades; in actuality, that memo was a message to the players. The NFL Players Association responded by calling the memo “gutless” and a “scare tactic.”

Although the Broncos made a smart and prudent business decision by parting ways with a player from whom they received three games for $17 million — and in turn avoiding $15 million in guaranteed pay — the Broncos could have simply kept James on the non-football injury list and declined to pay his salary, one week at a time. They decided instead to make the move now, on the brink of the commencement of Organized Team Activities.

Surely, this approach benefits the other teams when it comes to providing a clear and obvious example of the risks assumed when players choose both to skip voluntary workouts and in turn to work out on their own, despite knowing (or at least they should know) that injuries away from work aren’t covered. The reaction from James hammers that point home, and it has prompted some to wonder whether James will explore pursuing compensation for his lost $10 million from the NFL Players Association, if he can’t get it from the Broncos.

From @MyDropTop: Will Mac Jones start in any games this season?

As Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently said, that will be up to coach Bill Belichick. But even if Belichick never decides to make his first-round draft pick QB1 at any point this season, there’s a chance Jones will eventually play due to an injury suffered by current starter Cam Newton.

The first overall pick in the 2011 draft has played 10 NFL seasons. In five of them, he played in every game. In the other five, he missed at least one. This year, for the first time, there will be 17 regular-season games. Thus, if the over-under for Mac Jones starts in 2021 were 0.5, I’d be inclined to take the over.

From @rational_yankee: Who should be favored to win the NFC East?

DraftKings currently has the Cowboys as +125 favorites to win the division. The defending champions, Washington, have +260 odds.

But while Dallas is favored to win the division, should they be?

Washington quietly has improved this offseason, both via free agency and the draft. Could they have done more at the quarterback position? Sure. But they still should be better than they were last year.

Whether their record reflects that is a different question. Finishing first in the NFC East last season means that they’ll play the Bills, Packers, and Seahawks while the Cowboys, who finished third, will face the Patriots, Vikings, and Cardinals. All teams in the division will play all teams of the AFC West and NFC South, which could result in the eventual champion once again having a sub.-500 record, especially since 8-8 is now off the table.

Washington closes with five straight division games, including two against the Cowboys and two against the Eagles. That’s quite likely the stretch in which the NFC East will be decided.

From @CASTJ1EVP: If the Aaron situation drags out which side would it damage more? I would think the more it drags on the worse it became a public nightmare for the organization.

The Packers hold the cards on this one. With no inclination to trade Aaron Rodgers, the reigning MVP has two choices — play for the Packers or play for no one. If he chooses to play for no one in 2021, the Packers will be entitled to recover $18.3 million in previously-paid bonus money. Also, the Packers won’t have to worry about Rodgers making them look foolish for letting him play for another team.

Meanwhile, Rodgers seems to be laying the foundation to return to the team for mandatory minicamp or for training camp. If he skips minicamp, the pot will boil. If he doesn’t show up for training camp, the kettle will implode. And the screams from Packers fans will be blood and/or cheese curdling, with most of the venom likely directed at the player who is under contract for three more years and is choosing to breach it.

Never mind the fact that the labor deal gives Rodgers the right to stay away from training camp, along with the right to sit out all of 2021, if he so chooses (and if he’s willing to pay the financial price for doing so). Fans always tend to fall in line behind the laundry, not the players who are always wearing it only temporarily.

From @danrymas: Over/Under for week Fields starts?

In 2017, after the Bears traded up from No. 3 to No. 2 to select Mitchell Trubisky, veteran Mike Glennon started the first four games of the year, before the team turned to the rookie. Now, after the Bears have tried to rectify their decision to leave Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson on the board by trading up from No. 20 to No. 11 to select Justin Fields, the question becomes when, not if, he’ll supplant veteran Andy Dalton.

There’s a different coach this time around, with Matt Nagy replacing John Fox. Perhaps more importantly, there’s an urgency to show that the player in whom the organization entrusted two first-round picks, a fourth-round pick, and a fifth-round pick justifies the selection. Indeed, if Fields can’t beat out Dalton, they shouldn’t have given up so much to get Fields.

The release of the schedule introduces another wrinkle into the equation. The Bears open the season not tucked in the cluster of nine 1:00 p.m. ET kickoffs but on Sunday Night Football, against the Rams. Everyone will be watching. Everyone will be wondering why Fields isn’t playing, if he isn’t playing.

The best-case scenario for the Bears would be to give Fields a crash course in the Matt Nagy offense and get Fields in the game, hopeful that he’ll quickly begin the process of proving the front office right. With so much invested in Fields, why would the Bears do it if they didn’t believe he could be groomed to start from Week One?

If he fails to do so, some will regard that as the first indication that the Bears possibly have made another ill-advised first-round quarterback decision.

So it should be Week One, and the Bears should do all they can to make it Week One.

From @GriffJanssens: Which 1st year coach is going to have the most success?

The 2021 cycle resulted in seven new coaches getting jobs. Whether and to what extent any of them will be a success depends on plenty of factors. Also, for some new coaches, fewer wins will constitute greater success.

For example, if the Chargers go 10-7 (it still feels weird to type that) and the Jets go 8-9, New York coach Robert Saleh will be regarded as being more successful than L.A. coach Brandon Staley. If Texans coach David Culley goes 6-11, he may get coach of the year votes.

If we define success by best record, I’ll go with Staley. If we define it based on coach whose team most exceeds expectations, I’ll go with Saleh.

From @DrJ144: Is Mike McCarthy on the hot seat this season? Most people give Rodgers more credit than him for GB’s success, and McCarthy was able to blame Mike Nolan last year. Does he have any excuses this season?

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Bengals owner Mike Brown don’t have much in common. Here’s one area where they’re similar — they don’t like to pay coaches to not work.

For Jones, he also doesn’t like to admit mistakes. He hired McCarthy less than 18 months ago. It’s unlikely that Jones will bail on McCarthy so quickly.

That won’t keep Jones from constantly being asked about it. Consequently, he may continuously dig his heels in deeper and deeper. Which means that, indeed, he’ll fully and completely support McCarthy, until the precise moment at which Jones no longer does.

From @danrymas: If you were Gutekunst, would you trade Rodgers or keep him? If trade, what’s your minimum asking price? If keep, what salary seems reasonable?

If I’m Packers G.M. Brian Gutekunst, I’d want to trade Aaron Rodgers, for various reasons. Here’s why I’d do it.

First, would I ever get more for him than I’ll get now? Chances are that Rodgers won’t be the league MVP for a second straight season. And he’ll be a year older if I trade him in 2022. The current offseason arguably provides the best chance to maximize the return on the player. By delaying the trade until after June 1, I also would minimize the salary-cap consequences.

Second, I’ve already decided to trade up to get quarterback Jordan Love. I presumably believe in him. Given the widespread criticism of my failure to use the 2020 first- and fourth-round picks on players who could have helped the team get to the Super Bowl and win it last season (and my inability to realize that I should have called Rodgers before doing it), I want to see what Jordan Love can do. If he does whatever I expected him to do when I traded up to draft him, I’ll be vindicated.

Third, I’m pissed off that Rodgers wants me fired. Sure, I’ll say all the right things publicly. Privately, I don’t want the leader of the team to continue to undermine me with whatever he’s saying or texting to teammates or others. Rodgers has the ability to influence plenty of people. He’s apparently trying to influence them to regard me as inept. The sooner he’s no longer on the team I run, the better off I’ll be.

But here’s the problem. Gutekunst isn’t making the final decision on something this big. CEO Mark Murphy will authorize, or not, a trade. From Murphy’s perspective, it’s better to keep Rodgers. It’s better not to let him go to a new team and make Murphy look bad for trading Rodgers. It’s better to not have to worry about Rodgers eventually making his way back to the NFC North, with the Vikings, Lions, or Bears.

Plus, if Rodgers chooses to retire, the Packers pick up nearly $30 million in cash and cap space. There’s value in that, value that necessarily offsets whatever draft picks or players they’d get for letting Rodgers potentially torment the Packers for the next four years or longer.

So Gutekunst should want to trade Rodgers. Murphy should want to keep Rodgers in a spot where he plays either for the Packers or retires.

And if the Packers are inclined to give Rodgers more money, it’s fair to make him the highest-paid player in football. However, the issue isn’t the money he’d make under a new deal but the extent to which a new contract would take away Green Bay’s current power to decide on a year-by-year basis whether to move on from Rodgers, potentially rendering the drafting of Jordan Love moot.

From @hickoryhound: How long before the NFL goes to 2 byes for a season? That would get you to the President’s day 3 day weekend Super Bowl.

The NFL had two byes in 1993. The networks didn’t like it. For that reason, the NFL has resisted trying it again.

The presence of four extra teams since then (Panthers, Jaguars, Browns, Texans) offsets the impact of doubling of the number of weeks that each team would have off, given that the baseline in any given week is now 16 games, not 14.

Don’t be surprised if the two-bye possibility creeps back onto the table, especially as more and more states legalize gambling. Eventually, it will make more sense to have fewer games being played at any one time, and to have as many total windows in a given year for wagering. Adding a second bye instantly provides five more windows.

Then, adding an 18th game and a second bye creates a total of 10 more windows. That could be the eventual outcome. A 20-game regular season, with 18 games and two byes. It’s possible that the NFL will hold the second bye as part of the quid pro quo for the inevitable expansion of the season to 18 games.

After that happens (or possibly before), look for the NFL to start adding more teams. More teams will mean more games will mean more opportunities for legalized betting will mean more money will mean more, more, and more.

For Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson deals, who will go first?

Baltimore Ravens v Buffalo Bills
Getty Images

Three first-round quarterbacks from the class of 2018 approach their fourth NFL seasons, with long-term deals expected for each. So when it comes to the second contracts for Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, Bills quarterback Josh Allen, and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who’s going first?

For the teams and the players, it’s an important consideration. The first deal done becomes the first deal to be leapfrogged by one of the others. That could cause the players to be patient. It should cause the teams to be urgent — unless, of course, the team that goes first ends up paying more than the others.

Last week, I asked Ravens G.M. Eric DeCosta whether this dynamic will create a problem for his team’s effort to get Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, signed.

“I don’t know,” DeCosta said. “We’ve been in situations like this. We were in a situation like this with [offensive tackes] Ronnie Stanley and [Laremy] Tunsil and [David] Bakhtiari and guys like that. Then we were in a similar situation with [cornerbacks] Marlon Humphrey and Tre’Davious White and Jalen Ramsey. What I always think to myself is we’re going to the best deal we can for the Ravens. Certainly, we’ll consider other deals and other ways of doing deals and different things. But we’re going to negotiate and do the best deal we can for the club that also makes sense for the player.”

There’s another potentially significant factor affecting Baltimore’s situation. Allen and Mayfield have agents. Jackson does not. How much does that complicate the process for DeCosta?

“I don’t know that it complicates things,” DeCosta said. “If it makes things easier, I’m not really sure. I think that the biggest thing is communication. For me and Lamar to communicate. We’ve already done a deal with Lamar. We did a rookie deal with Lamar. Obviously, it wasn’t the same, but we did. We understand some of the complications because we did that prior deal.

“This is a much different deal with a much different structure and things like that. I think that sometimes having the General Manager and the salary cap people talking to the player really does improve communication. What we see sometimes is that we will have conversations with an agent and in some cases a player’s not even aware of that. That won’t be the case here. I think the transparency will be pretty significant. That would be pretty good. I hope that if Lamar asks questions, he can get the answers. I know he has people that he trusts and respects that can help him and advise him because this is a big deal. We want to do it right. We want to do something he feels really good about and we want to do something that we feel really good about as well.”

DeCosta downplayed the reality that negotiating directly with the player can create awkward moments, because difficult things sometimes need to be said about the player’s potential weaknesses or other factors pointing to less favorable terms than the player is seeking. As DeCosta explained it, teams and players constantly have difficult conversations on a variety of topics.

Any conversations between Mayfield and the Browns, Allen and the Bills, and Jackson and the Ravens have yet to result in new contracts. It’s entirely possible if not likely that the agents for Mayfield and Allen want to see what the unrepresented player gets before proceeding; they likely won’t want to provide the baseline for Jackson.

Conversely, they won’t want Jackson to establish an unfavorable baseline that they would be used to hold down their clients’ deals. It’s nevertheless better to be in a position to try to surpass the deal that Jackson does without a traditional agent than to risk the embarrassment of Jackson getting a better deal than the players who are represented in the traditional way.

FMIA: Day Of The Dolphin—How Miami Fearlessly Trades Draft Picks To Set Up Success, Now And Later

2021 NFL Draft
Getty Images

DAVIE, Fla. — This was March 25, a Thursday night around 10, exactly five weeks before round one of the NFL draft. Miami GM Chris Grier sat in his rental Chrysler outside the Residence Inn in Ann Arbor, Mich. Grier would attend the Michigan Pro Day in the morning, but now, here he was, finishing [more]

Fifth-year option tracker for 2018 NFL first-round picks

Wild Card Round - Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
Getty Images

NFL teams will be adding first-round picks to their roster this week and some of them will then turn their attention to first-round picks from 2018.

Fifth-year contract options for players selected in the first round that year need to be exercised by May 3 and some teams have already gotten the ball rolling on those decisions.

In a significant change from past years, the Collective Bargaining Agreement put in place last year calls for the options to be fully guaranteed when exercised. They had been guaranteed against injury only before the change was made in the new CBA.

The salaries for the options are also handled differently as players who have made the Pro Bowl twice will stand to make the same as the franchise tag at their position. Making one Pro Bowl leads to a salary equal to the transition tag and reaching certain playing time criteria — 75 percent of snaps or greater in two of their first three seasons, an average of 75 percent or greater over all three seasons, or 50 percent or greater in each of his first three seasons — sets players up to make the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position. Any other player would get the average of the 3rd-25th player.

The full list of 2018 first-round picks and the decisions

1. Quarterback Baker Mayfield, Browns — The Browns exercised his $18.858 million option on April 23.

2. Running back Saquon Barkley, Giants — The Giants exercised his $7.217 million on April 28.

3. Quarterback Sam Darnold, Panthers (Drafted and traded by Jets) — The Panthers exercised his $18.858 million on April 30.

4. Cornerback Denzel Ward, Browns — The Browns exercised his $13.294 million option on April 23.

5. Linebacker Bradley Chubb, Broncos — The Broncos reportedly exercised the $12.716 million option on April 30.

6. Guard Quenton Nelson, Colts — The Colts announced April 28 they have exercised his $13.754 million option.

7. Quarterback Josh Allen, Bills — The Bills exercised his $23.106 million on May 3.

8. Linebacker Roquan Smith, Bears — The Bears exercised his $9.735 million option on April 27.

9. Tackle Mike McGlinchey, 49ers — The 49ers announced they are exercising his $10.88 million option on April 26.

10. Quarterback Josh Rosen, Cardinals — No option after being traded to and released by the Dolphins.

11. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (Drafted and traded by Dolphins) — Pittsburgh exercised his $10.612 million on April 27.

12. Defensive tackle Vita Vea, Buccaneers — The Buccaneers exercised his $7.638 million option on April 26.

13. Defensive tackle Daron Payne, Washington — Washington exercised his $8.529 million option on April 26.

14. Defensive end Marcus Davenport, Saints — The Saints exercised his $9.553 million option on April 29.

15. Tackle Kolton Miller, Raiders — No option as he signed a three-year extension with the team on March 30.

16. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, Bills — The Bills exercised his $12.716 million on May 3.

17. Safety Derwin James, Chargers — The Chargers exercised his $9.052 million on April 29.

18. Cornerback Jaire Alexander, Packers — The Packers announced they expect to exercise his $13.294 million option on April 26.

19. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys — The Cowboys are not expected to exercise his $9.145 million option.

20. Center Frank Ragnow, Lions — The Lions exercised his $12.657 million option on April 28.

21. Center Billy Price, Bengals — The Bengals will not exercise his $10.413 million option.

22. Linebacker Rashaan Evans, Titans — The Titans did not exercise his $9.735 million option.

23. Tackle Isaiah Wynn, Patriots — The Patriots exercised his $10.413 million.

24. Wide receiver D.J. Moore, Panthers — The Panthers will exercise his $11.116 million option.

25. Tight end Hayden Hurst, Falcons (Drafted and traded by Ravens) — The Falcons will not exercise his $5.428 million option.

26. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley, Falcons — The Falcons exercised his $11.116 million on May 3.

27. Running back Rashaad Penny, Seahawks — The Seahawks are not expected to exercise his $4.523 million option.

28. Safety Terrell Edmunds, Steelers — The Steelers are not exercising his $6.753 million option.

29. Defensive tackle Taven Bryan, Jaguars — The Jaguars are not exercising his $7.638 million option.

30. Cornerback Mike Hughes, Vikings — The Vikings are not exercising his $12.643 million option.

31. Running back Sony Michel, Patriots — The Patriots are unlikely to exercise his $4.523 million option.

32. Quarterback Lamar Jackson, Ravens — The Ravens exercised his $23.106 million on April 30.

FMIA: On Drama In Green Bay, The 49er Fakeout And The ’21 NFL Draft

Getty Images/4

Two stories obliterated everything this weekend. (Well, except if you live in Illinois, or you’re a snowbird from Schaumburg.) The two: Trey Lance over Mac Jones to the Niners with the third pick, and the pre-draft news bomb from Adam Schefter that reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers wants out of Green Bay. You’ve got to hear [more]

2021 NFL Draft order: Complete list of every pick from Round 1 through Round 7

NFL Draft Experience Media Preview
Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Draft begins with Round 1 on Thursday, April 29 and runs until Saturday, May 1. The Draft will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, at multiple locations across downtown including FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Jaguars will select first overall and are all but guaranteed to take Clemson quarterback Trevor LawrenceLawrence is one of several prominent quarterbacks in this draft class, including BYU’s Zach Wilson, whom the Jets could take with the second pick. The 49ers pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Dolphins in March and will now draft third overall. The overall landscape of round 1 selections continues to evolve: after a big trade with the Chiefs for Orlando Brown Jr., the Ravens will now have two first-round selections.

Below are all 259 picks and traded selections in all seven rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, including compensatory picks. Check out additional 2021 NFL Draft coverage including news, rumors, trades, video analysis and more here.

2021 NFL Draft Order

Round 1

1) Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
2) New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
3) San Francisco 49ers (from HOU through MIA) – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
4) Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
5) Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
6) Miami Dolphins (from PHI) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
7) Detroit Lions – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
8) Carolina Panthers – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
9) Denver Broncos – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
10) Philadelphia Eagles (from DAL) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
11) Chicago Bears (from NYG) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
12) Dallas Cowboys (from PHI through SF, MIA) – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
13) Los Angeles Chargers – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
14) New York Jets (from MIN) – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
15) New England Patriots – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
16) Arizona Cardinals – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
17) Las Vegas Raiders – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
18) Miami Dolphins – Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
19) Washington Football Team – Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
20) New York Giants (from CHI) – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
21) Indianapolis Colts – Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
22) Tennessee Titans – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
23) Minnesota Vikings (from NYJ through SEA) – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
24) Pittsburgh Steelers – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
25) Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR) – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
26) Cleveland Browns – Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
27) Baltimore Ravens – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
28) New Orleans Saints – Payton Turner, DE, Houston
29) Green Bay Packers – Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
30) Buffalo Bills – Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
31) Baltimore Ravens (from KC) – Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State
32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joe Tryon, LB, Washington

Round 2

33) Jacksonville Jaguars – Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
34) New York Jets – Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
35) Broncos (from ATL) – Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
36) Miami Dolphins (from HOU) – Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
37) Philadelphia Eagles – Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
38) New England Patriots (from CIN) – Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
39) Chicago Bears (from CAR) – Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
40) Atlanta Falcons (from DEN) – Richie Grant, S, UCF
41) Detroit Lions – Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington
42) Miami Dolphins (from NYG) – Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
43) Las Vegas Raiders (from SF) – Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
44) Dallas Cowboys – Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
45) Jacksonville Jaguars (from MIN) – Walker Little, OT, Stanford
46) Cincinnati Bengals (from NE) – Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
47) Los Angeles Chargers – Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
48) San Francisco 49ers (from LV) – Aaron Banks, G, Notre Dame
49) Arizona Cardinals – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
50) New York Giants (from MIA) – Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia
51) Washington Football Team – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
52) Cleveland Browns (from CHI through CAR) – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
53) Tennessee Titans – Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
54) Indianapolis Colts – Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Vanderbilt
55) Pittsburgh Steelers – Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
56) Seattle Seahawks – D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
57) Los Angeles Rams Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville
58) Kansas City Chiefs (from BAL) – Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
59) Carolina Panthers (from CLE) – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
60) New Orleans Saints – Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State
61) Buffalo Bills – Carlos Basham Jr., DE, Wake Forest
62) Green Bay Packers – Josh Myers, C, Ohio State
63) Kansas City Chiefs – Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
64) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

Round 3

65) Jacksonville Jaguars – Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
66) Minnesota Vikings (from NYJ) – Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
67) Houston Texans – Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
68) Atlanta Falcons – Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
69) Cincinnati Bengals – Joseph Ossai, DE, Texas
70) Carolina Panthers (PHI) – Brady Christensen, OT, BYU
71) New York Giants (from DEN) – Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF
72) Detroit Lions – Alim McNeill, DT, NC State
73) Philadelphia Eagles (from CAR) – Milton Williams, DT, Lousiana Tech
74) Washington Football Team (from SF) – Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota
75) Dallas Cowboys – Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA
76) Saints (from NYG) – Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
77) Los Angeles Chargers – Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee
78) Minnesota Vikings – Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
79) Las Vegas Raiders (from AZ) – Malcolm Koonce, LB, Buffalo
80) Las Vegas Raiders – Divine Deablo, S, Virginia Tech
81) Miami Dolphins – Hunter Long, TE, Boston College
82) Washington Football Team – Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
83) Carolina Panthers (from CHI) – Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame
84) Dallas Cowboys (from PHI through IND) – Chauncey Golston, DE, Iowa
85) Green Bay Packers (from TEN) – Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
86) Minnesota Vikings (from NYJ through SEA) – Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
87) Pittsburgh Steelers – Kendrick Green, G, Illinois
88) San Francisco 49ers (from LAR) – Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
89) Houston Texans (from CLE through CAR)  – Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
90) Minnesota Vikings (from BAL) – Patrick Jones II, DE, Pittsburgh
91) Cleveland Browns (from NO) – Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
92) Tennessee Titans (from GB) – Monty Rice, LB, Georgia
93) Buffalo Bills – Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
94) Baltimore Ravens (from KC) – Ben Cleveland, G, Georgia
95) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Robert Hainsey, G, Notre Dame
96) New England Patriots (compensatory selection) – Ronnie Perkins, DE, Oklahoma
97) Los Angeles Chargers (compensatory selection) – Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia
98) Denver Broncos (from NO) – Quinn Meinerz, G, Wisconsin-Whitewater
99) Dallas Cowboys (compensatory selection) – Nahshon Wright, CB, Oregon State
100) Tennessee Titans (compensatory selection) – Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
101) Detroit Lions (from LAR; compensatory selection) – Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
102) San Francisco 49ers (special compensatory selection) – Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan
103) Los Angeles Rams (special compensatory selection) – Ernest Jones, LB, South Carolina
104) Baltimore Ravens (special compensatory selection) – Brandon Stephens, CB, SMU
105) Denver Broncos (from NO) – Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State

Round 4

106) Jacksonville Jaguars – Jay Tufele, DT, USC
107) New York Jets – Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina
108) Atlanta Falcons – Darren Hall, CB, San Diego State
109) Tennessee Titans (from HOU through CAR) – Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville
110) Cleveland Browns (from PHI) – James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati
111) Cincinnati Bengals – Cameron Sample, DE, Tulane
112) Detroit Lions – Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
113) Detroit Lions (from CAR through CLE) – Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue
114) Atlanta Falcons (from DEN) – Drew Dalman, C, Stanford
115) Dallas Cowboys – Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
116) New York Giants – Elerson Smith, LB, Northern Iowa
117) LA Rams (from SF) – Bobby Brown III, DT, Texas A&M
118) Los Angeles Chargers – Chris Rumph II, LB, Duke
119) Minnesota Vikings – Kene Nwangwu, RB, Iowa State
120) New England Patriots – Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma
121) Jacksonville Jaguars (from LV through SF and LAR) – Jordan Smith, DE, UAB
122) Cincinnati Bengals (From ARI through HOU and NE)  –Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU
123) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA) – Zech McPhearson, CB, Texas Tech
124) Washington Football Team – John Bates, TE, Boise State
125) Minnesota Vikings (from CHI) – Camryn Bynum, CB, California
126) Carolina Panthers (from TEN) – Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
127) Indianapolis Colts – Kylen Granson, TE, SMU
128) Pittsburgh Steelers – Dan Moore Jr., OT, Texas A&M
129) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from SEA) – Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas
130) LA Rams (From LAR through JAX) – Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas
131) Baltimore Ravens – Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
132) Cleveland Browns – Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State
133) New Orleans Saints – Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
134) Minnesota Vikings (from BUF; conditional) – Janarius Robinson, DE, Florida State
135) Tennessee Titans (From GB) – Rashad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh
136) Arizona Cardinals (from KC through BAL) – Marco Wilson, CB, Florida
137) Seattle Seahawks (from TB) – Tre Brown, CB, Oklahoma
138) Dallas Cowboys (compensatory selection) – Josh Ball, OT, Marshall
139) Cincinnati Bengals (from NE) – D’Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina
140) Pittsburgh Steelers (compensatory selection) – Buddy Johnson, ILB, Texas A&M
141) Los Angeles Rams (compensatory selection) – Jacob Harris, WR, UCF
142) Green Bay Packers (compensatory selection) – Royce Newman, OG, Ole Miss
143) Las Vegas Raiders (from MIN through NYJ) – Tyree Gillespie, S, Missouri
144) Kansas City Chiefs (compensatory selection) – Joshua Kaindoh, DE, Florida State

Round 5

145) Jacksonville Jaguars – Luke Farrell, TE, Ohio State
146) New York Jets – Jamien Sherwood, S, Auburn
147) Houston Texans – Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
148) Atlanta Falcons – Ta’Quon Graham, DT, Texas
149) Cincinnati Bengals – Evan McPherson, K, Florida
150) Philadelphia Eagles – Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
151) Chicago Bears (From CAR) -Larry Borom, OT, Missouri
152) Denver Broncos – Caden Sterns, S, Texas
153) Cleveland Browns (from DET) – Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia
154) New York Jets (from NYG) – Michael Carter II, S, Duke
155) San Francisco 49ers – Jaylon Moore, OG, Western Michigan
156) Pittsburgh Steelers (From DAL through PHI and MIA) – Isaiahh Loudermilk, DT, Wisconsin
157) Minnesota Vikings – Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa
158) Carolina Panthers (from From NE through HOU) – Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa
159) Los Angeles Chargers – Brendan James, OT, Nebraska
160) Baltimore Ravens (from ARI) – Shaune Wade, CB, Ohio State
161) Buffalo Bills (from LV) – Tommy Doyle, OT, Miami (OH)
162) Kansas City Chiefs (from MIA through LV and NYJ) – Noah Gray, TE, Duke
163) Washington Football Team – Darrick Forrest, S, Cincinnati
164) Denver Broncos (from CHI via NYG) – Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana
165) Indianapolis Colts – Shawn Davis, S, Florida
166) Carolina Panthers (from TEN) – Keith Taylor, CB, Washington
167) Las Vegas Raiders (from SEA) – Nate Hobbs, CB, Illinois
168) Minnesota Vikings (from PIT through BAL) – Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri
169) Cleveland Browns (from LAR) – Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia
170) Houston Texans (from CLE through JAX and LAR) – Garret Wallow, LB, TCU
171) Baltimore Ravens – Daelin Hayes, DE, Notre Dame
172) San Francisco 49ers (from NO) – Deommodore Lenoir, CB, Oregon
173) Green Bay Packers – Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida
174) LA Rams (from BUF through HOU) – Earnest Brown IV, DE, Northwestern
175) NY Jets (from KC) – Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh
176) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – K.J. Britt, LB, Auburn
177) New England Patriots (compensatory selection) – Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan
178) Green Bay Packers (compensatory selection) – Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State
179) Dallas Cowboys (compensatory selection) – Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford
180) San Francisco 49ers (compensatory selection) – Talanoa Huganga, S, USC
181) Kansas City Chiefs (compensatory selection) – Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson
182) Atlanta Falcons (compensatory selection) – Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DE, Notre Dame
183) Atlanta Falcons (compensatory selection) – Avery Williams, CB, Boise State
184) Baltimore Ravens (compensatory selection) – Ben Mason, FB, Michigan

Round 6

185) Los Angeles Chargers (from JAX through TEN) – Nick Niemann, LB, Iowa
186) New York Jets – Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
187) Atlanta Falcons – Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State
188) New England Patriots (from HOU) – Joshua Bledsoe, S, Missouri
189) Philadelphia Eagles – Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC
190) Cincinnati Bengals – Trey Hill, C, Georgia
191) Philadelphia Eagles (from DEN through CAR) – Tarron Jackson, DE, Coastal Carolina
192) Dallas Cowboys (from DET) – Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky
193) Carolina Panthers – Deonte Brown, OG, Alabama
194) San Francisco 49ers – Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana
195) Houston Texans (from DAL through NE) – Roy Lopez, DT, Arizona
196) New York Giants – Gary Brightwell, RB, Arizona
197) New England Patriots – William Sherman, OT, Colorado
198) Los Angeles Chargers – Larry Rountree III, RB, Missouri
199) Minnesota Vikings – Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh
200) New York Jets (from LV) – Brandin Echols, CB, Kentucky
201) New York Giants (from AZ) – Rodarius Williams, CB, Oklahoma State
202) Cincinnati Bengals (from MIA through HOU) – Chris Evans, RB, Michigan
203) Buffalo Bills (from WAS through LV, MIA, and HOU) – Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston
204) Carolina Panthers (from CHI) – Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
205) Tennessee Titans – Racey McMath, WR, LSU
206) New Orleans Saints (from IND) – Landon Young, OT, Kentucky
207) New York Jets (from PIT through MIA and KC) – Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas
208) Seattle Seahawks (From SEA through MIA and CHI) – Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida
209) Jacksonville Jaguars (From LAR) – Jalen Camp, WR, Georgia Tech
210) Arizona Cardinals (from BAL) – Victor Dimukeje, DE, Duke
211) Cleveland Browns – Demetric Felton, WR, UCLA
212) Buffalo Bills (from NO through HOU) – Damar Hamlin, S, Pittsburgh
213) Buffalo Bills – Rachad Wildgoose, CB, Wisconsin
214) Green Bay Packers – Cole Van Lanen, OT, Wisconsin
215) Tennessee Titans (from KC) – Brady Breeze, S, Oregon
216) Pittsburgh Steelers (from TB) – Quincy Roche, LB, Miami
217) Chicago Bears (from TB through SEA) – Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech
218) Indianapolis Colts (from NO) – Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
219) Denver Broncos (from ATL) – Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
220) Green Bay Packers (compensatory selection) – Isaiah McDuffie, LB, Boston College
221) Chicago Bears (compensatory selection) – Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
222) Carolina Panthers (compensatory selection) – Thomas Fletcher, LS, Alabama
223) Arizona Cardinals (from MIN; compensatory selection) – Tay Gowan, CB, UCF
224) Philadelphia Eagles (compensatory selection) – JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU
225) Washington Football Team (from PHI) – Camaron Cheeseman, LS, Michigan
226) Kansas City Chiefs (from CAR through NYJ) – Trey Smith, G, Tennessee
227) Dallas Cowboys (compensatory selection) – Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
228) Chicago Bears (compensatory selection) – Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon

Round 7

229) Indianapolis Colts  (from JAX through NO) – Mike Strachan, WR, Charleston (WV)
230) Las Vegas Raiders (from NYJ through SF) – Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pittsburgh
231) Miami Dolphins (from HOU) – Larnel Coleman, OT, UMass
232) Carolina Panthers (From ATL through MIA and TEN) – Phil Hoskins, DT, Kentucky
233) LA Rams ( From CIN through HOU) – Jake Funk, RB, Maryland
234) Philadelphia Eagles – Patrick Johnson, OLB, Tulane
235) Cincinnati Bengals (from DET through SEA) – Wyatt Hubert, DE, Kansas State
236) Buffalo Bills (from CAR) – Jack Anderson, OG, Texas Tech
237) Denver Broncos – Kary Vincent Jr., CB, LSU
238) Dallas Cowboys – Matt Farniok, G, Nebraska
239) Denver Broncos (from NYG) – Jonathan Cooper, DE, Ohio State
240) Washington Football Team (From SF through PHI) – William Bradley-King, DE, Baylor
241) Los Angeles Chargers – Mark Webb, S, Georgia
242) New England Patriots – Tre Nixon, WR, UCF
243) Arizona Cardinals – James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati
244) Miami Dolphins (from WFT through LV) – Gerrid Doaks, RB, Cincinnati
245) Pittsburgh Steelers (from MIA) – Tre Norwood, CB, Oklahoma
246) Washington Football Team – Shaka Toney, DE, Penn State
247) Arizona Cardinals (from CHI through LV) – Michal Menet, C, Penn State
248) Indianapolis Colts – Will Fries, OT, Penn State
249) LA Rams (From TEN through JAX)  – Ben Skowronek, WR, Notre Dame
250) Chicago Bears (from SEA) – Khyiris Tonga, DT, BYU
251) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from PIT) – Chris Wilcox, CB, BYU
252) Los Angeles Rams – Chris Garrett, LB, Concordia University St Paul-
253) Denver Broncos (from CLE) – Marquiss Spencer, DE, Mississippi State
254) Pittsburgh Steelers (from BAL) – Pressley Harvin III, P, Georgia Tech
255) New Orleans Saints – Kawaan Baker, WR, South Alabama
256) Green Bay Packers – Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
257) Detroit Lions (from BUF through CLE) – Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State
258) Washington Football Team (from KC through MIA) – Dax Milne, WR, BYU
259) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Grant Stuard, LB, Houston

NFL Draft 2021 Picks by Team

PFT’s one, and only, mock draft of the year

Trevor Lawrence Workout
Getty Images

Mock drafts are like opinions and bungholes. Everybody has one and they all stink, except maybe your own.

We used to do umpteen versions of mock drafts. That was before I developed a thorough and complete hatred of them. In recent years, we’ve shifted to a one-shot mock draft, with no concern for accuracy and no pride in authorship. Especially since I have now exported the assignment to a seasoned scout who currently is not employed by any team but whose credentials would not be questioned if his name were to be mentioned.

I thought about tinkering with his selections. But then I realized that I just don’t care. If any of these picks are right (and the first two are virtually guaranteed to be), the anonymous, unattached scout with no skin in the game gets the credit. For all that are wrong, I’m sure to still get the blame.

Again, I don’t care.

So here’s our one and only mock draft, with responsibility totally abdicated to someone who knows how to put together a draft board far better than I ever will.

1. Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, quarterback, Clemson.

The odds for Lawrence to go No. 1 are currently -10000. They should be even lower. The Jaguars have done nothing to suggest that the pick will be anyone but Lawrence.

2. Jets: Zach Wilson, quarterback, BYU.

Ditto in this spot. It’s been Wilson for weeks, and the Jets have done nothing to suggest it will be anyone else. Wilson becomes their latest effort to develop a true franchise quarterback.

3. 49ers (from Houston via Miami): Justin Fields, quarterback, Ohio State.

Yeah, the 49ers reportedly have narrowed their pick to Mac Jones and Trey Lance. Until they make the pick, however, anything can happen. Maybe something surprising will occur, as the 49ers strike the balance between the need for someone who can play now against the reality that the fans will lose their minds if it’s Mac Jones.

4. Falcons: Penei Sewell, tackle, Oregon.

Momentum has built in recent days for tight end Kyle Pitts. But here’s a crazy thought — Sewell as a Quenton Nelson-type for the Falcons, moving to guard at the next level and mauling people in the running game, while keeping the middle of the line sealed up in the passing game.

5. Bengals: Kyle Pitts, tight end, Florida.

LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase makes plenty of sense if Pitts is gone. For a team looking for weapons for quarterback Joe Burrow, Pitts instantly becomes the guy they’d once hoped Tyler Eifert consistently would be, and then some.

6. Dolphins (from Eagles): Ja'Marr Chase, receiver, LSU.

I’ve heard for weeks that the Dolphins would take Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle over Chase, if both are available at No. 6. But since I didn’t put this list together, I’ll defer to the guy who did.

7. Lions: Micah Parsons, linebacker, Penn State.

Coach Dan Campbell wants kneecap biters. Owner’s special assistant (who has plenty of influence) Chris Spielman surely values the linebacker position. This pick fits with exactly what the Lions seem to be looking to do.

8. Panthers: Patrick Surtain II, cornerback, Alabama.

They’ll be tempted to take Mac Jones here, but they’ve made the investment in Sam Darnold. If anything, their hesitation to exercise the fifth-year option on Darnold may be aimed at trying to get a team to jump in front of them to take a quarterback — and to push a player they really want farther down the board.

9. Broncos: Alijah Vera-Tucker, guard-tackle, USC.

The Broncos need to address the quarterback position. They can do that by trading for Teddy Bridgewater. They can help whoever their quarterback will be by adding a flexible piece to the offensive line.

10. Cowboys: Rashawn Slater, tackle, Northwestern.

The once-stout offensive line has gradually been falling apart. Despite having plenty of needs on defense, they need to address beefing up the blockers before it’s too late.

11. Giants: Devonta Smith, receiver, Alabama.

Bedeviled for years by DeSean Jackson, the Giants get a DeSean of their own. The offense goes next level, and the return game becomes dangerous.

12. Eagles (from 49ers via Dolphins): Jaylen Waddle, receiver, Alabama.

Many think they’ll go for cornerback Jaycee Horn. To get the most out of quarterback Jalen Hurts, they need to give him weapons. And, yes, given the presence of 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor, the Eagles would have a three-Ja(y)len attack.

13. Chargers: Jaycee Horn, cornerback, South Carolina.

The Chargers have a solid front seven but need help on the back end, although it would be tempting to take an offensive lineman here, in order to better protect the franchise quarterback.

14. Vikings: Christian Darrisaw, tackle, Virginia Tech.

Edge rusher is a pressing need, but too much is invested in the offense to not address the needs on the offensive line, especially with Riley Reiff gone.

15. Patriots: Mac Jones, quarterback, Alabama.

Bill Belichick is trying to win now. Jones could help New England win more later.

16. Cardinals: Kwity Paye, edge, Michigan.

I’ve heard they’ll take Zaven Collins in this spot if Waddle, Horn, and Surtain are gone. But I’ve decided not to deviate from the formulation created by someone other than me.

17. Raiders: Jaelen Phillips, edge, Miami.

The defense needs help. Jon Gruden could be tempted to take a look at rookie quarterback Trey Lance, but Gruden strongly prefers veterans.

18. Dolphins: Azeez Ojulari, edge, Georgia.

Gregory Rousseau also is a possibility here. Regardless, the Dolphins address an area of defensive need.

19. Washington: Greg Newsome II, cornerback, Northwestern.

Even with William Jackson III added in free agency, more corners would be useful for an improving defense that is on the verge of becoming one of the best in the league.

20. Bears: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker, Notre Dame.

The Bears pride themselves on great linebacker play. Owusu-Koramoah would eventually succeed Danny Trevathan in the starting lineup.

21. Colts: Trevon Moehrig, safety, TCU.

A solid defense gets another piece in an area of moderate need.

22. Titans: Kadarius Toney, receiver, Florida.

With Corey Davis gone after only four years, the Titans replace him with another target to complement A.J. Brown.

23. Jets (from Seahawks): Asante Samuel, Jr., cornerback, Florida State.

The Jets address an area of pressing need with the son of a former Patriot.

24. Steelers: Trey Lance, quarterback, North Dakota State.

The Steelers are all in on trying to win in 2021, but will they be able to say no to a guy who could take the baton from Ben Roethlisberger? I’ve heard they’ll take Alabama running back Najee Harris or Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins in this spot. But if Lance slides, Art Rooney will have to decide whether to give his third coach since 1969 the team’s fourth first-round quarterback since 1970.

25. Jaguars (from Rams): Tyson Campbell, cornerback, Georgia.

Urban Meyer addresses an area that had been an area of extreme strength a couple of years ago.

26. Browns: Terrace Marshall, Jr., receiver, LSU.

Another LSU receiver joins a team that has two of them, in Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. Beckham could be entering his last year with the team; if healthy and effective, don’t be shocked if he’s traded before the deadline.

27. Ravens: Alex Leatherwood, tackle, Alabama.

With Orlando Brown gone, Leatherwood fills the need created by the trade.

28. Saints: Carlos Basham, Jr., edge, Wake Forest.

The Saints address a need created by the free-agent departure of Trey Hendrickson.

29. Packers: Jamin Davis, linebacker, Kentucky.

A center is also possible here. (Hopefully, they’ll draft at least one receiver this year.)

30. Bills: Najee Harris, running back, Alabama.

If the Steelers take Harris, Clemson running back Travis Etienne could be the pick.

31. Ravens (from Chiefs): Gregory Rousseau, edge, Miami.

Calais Campbell loves Rousseau. They’ll potentially be teammates.

32. Buccaneers: Zaven Collins, linebacker, Tulsa.

I personally think he’ll be gone by this spot. If Bucs get him, they could try to make him an edge rusher and/or let him become the heir to Lavonte David. His size and skills and versatility would potentially make the Bucs defense dominant.

FMIA Mock Draft: Mysteries, Trades and Guesswork As First Round Nears

Getty Images (5)

The best thing I can say about my mock draft: I am cautiously optimistic about hitting my first two picks. Before you see my mock draft and commence tomato-throwing at your screens—Penei Sewell, dropping to seven?! You are nuts!!!—a few headlines about what’s coming this week, prepping for the 8 p.m. Thursday kickoff to the [more]

Troy Vincent on Deshaun Watson situation: “This is not good for anybody”

NFL: DEC 13 Texans at Bears
Getty Images

Since the issue first emerged more than a month ago, the league office had remained publicly silent on the controversy surrounding Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. On Saturday, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent broke that silence during an appearance on FOX Sports Radio.

“I’m just praying for the young man, personally, today,” Vincent told LaVar Arrington, Plaxico Burress, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. “I’m praying for him and his family. I’m praying for the young ladies that have come out. This is not good for anybody, forget the sport.

“But I think we’ve learned that every situation’s different. They’re delicate. You make sure that folks, whether it’s the accuser, the victim, whoever it may be, that there’s a due process in place. And I think we’ve learned that over time, not that we’ve rushed in the past, but I think we’ve learned from the different cases that we’ve seen with this particular subject matter, let the due process take care of itself, then that’s up to Lisa [Friel] and her team to now make the proper recommendations to what direction the Commissioner and the Commissioner’s office should take.”

Friel quickly launched an investigation, by sending a supposedly confidential letter to attorney Tony Buzbee, who then posted it on social media. At least two of Buzbee’s clients reportedly are willing to speak to Friel as part of her investigation.

There are different kinds of due process in situations like this, from the civil case to the criminal case (if one is pursued) to the league’s internal investigation. The league decided in the aftermath of the Ray Rice debacle to no longer defer to the handling of the situation by the criminal process. With Watson facing 22 civil claims of sexual misconduct, it’s unclear whether the league will wait for those cases to be resolved before taking action against him.

One thing Vincent didn’t address is the looming possibility that Watson will be placed on the Commissioner Exempt list while these 22 civil cases work their way through the justice system. The sheer number of claims makes it very difficult for the league to do nothing, if these cases are still pending when training camp comes around.

So even though Vincent became the first person from the league to speak publicly about the Watson situation, there’s still plenty more that needs to be said and done before anyone will know when and if Watson’s football career will continue before the 22 civil lawsuits pending against him are resolved, either by settlement or verdict.

FMIA: Whispers, Rumors And Gut Feelings As Most Unusual NFL Draft Ever (According To Gil Brandt) Nears

Getty Images

This is the 67th draft for Pro Football Hall of Fame personnel evaluator Gil Brandt, which means he’s worked all but 19 NFL drafts. When you get to be 89, you’ve seen a lot of things. “This one ranks first, in terms of how unusual it is,” Brandt said Saturday. “The opt-outs kind of remind [more]

FMIA: 20 QB Decisions Shaping This NFL Offseason, Draft Like No Other

Getty Images (6)

There has never been an offseason like this one, which sets up a draft the likes of which we’ve never seen. Never has there been such a league-wide gold rush for quarterbacks. Never has the draft gone 1-2-3-4 with quarterbacks at the top. But with the assurance now that the top three picks will be, [more]