Will next contract be last contract for Roger Goodell?

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The Steelers have had three coaches since 1969. The NFL has had three Commissioners since nearly a decade before Chuck Noll’s arrival in Pittsburgh.

So with Roger Goodell, who succeeded Paul Tagliabue, the successor to Pete Rozelle, reportedly getting a new deal a little over a month after turning 64, will this one be his last one?

The last time Goodell got a new deal, former league spokesman Joe Lockhart said it would be Goodell’s final contract. Goodell quickly said, “Not so fast” — and shortly after that Lockhart was long gone.

The question becomes how long Goodell wants to do it. Other than Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, there’s been no vocal opponent to Goodell’s ongoing tenure. And Jones isn’t anti-Roger; Jerry is simply pro-spending-a-lot-less-for-a-Commissioner.

Last year, Daniel Kaplan of TheAthletic.com wrote that some owners want succession planning to be part of Goodell’s next deal. It remains to be seen whether that will be the case.

It should be. There’s no clear-cut, no-brainer, Commissioner in waiting. Different internal names get floated at times, but none have the kind of gusto that signals to the world that the next starting quarterback is already on the roster.

While there’s never been any specific reporting on the issue, anyone who has been following the ins and outs of the NFL since Goodell rose to power in 2006 knows or should know that it doesn’t seem as if Goodell welcomes the presence of potential rivals. As we observed in June, it’s almost as if Goodell wants no credible internal threats to his position or power. In the past, whenever a name has begun to gain traction as a possible future Commissioner (Tod Leiweke, Dean Blandino, Maryann Turcke, Chris Halpin, for example), that person has never seemed to last.

If this is Goodell’s last contract, it makes sense for the owners to cultivate a successor who can learn from Goodell, the way Goodell learned from Tagliabue.

Of course, there’s no reason for the owners to push Goodell out. He’s younger than most of them, so his age shouldn’t be an issue. Also, he handles the job well — the revenue keeps going up and up, the profile of the league keeps increasing, and he continues to deftly provide cover for owners who otherwise would be the target of tough questions and sharp criticism.

As Tom Curran once said years ago, Goodell is the world’s highest-paid pin cushion. Before the owners pivot to a new Commissioner, they’ll need to be sure that the successor will succeed when it comes to nonchalantly absorbing needles.

Report: NFL owners nearing extension for Commissioner Roger Goodell

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NFL owners are nearing completion of a multi-year contract extension with Commissioner Roger Goodell, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. The deal is expected to be completed in time for owners to approve the deal at next week’s owners meetings in Phoenix.

Goodell’s current deal was set to expire in March 2024.

The owners voted 31-1 in October to authorize the league’s compensation committee to negotiate a new deal with Goodell. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was the lone dissenter.

In 2017, Jones also tried to block Goodell from getting a new deal, threatening litigation. Jones ultimately paid for legal fees incurred by the league in dealing with his threats.

This will be the fourth extension for the commissioner.

Goodell, 64, got the job in 2006, replacing Paul Tagliabue, who retired after nearly 17 years at the helm of the NFL.

Report: Magic Johnson joins Josh Harris’ Commanders bid

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There have been signs that a sale of the Commanders is drawing closer in recent days and a leading bidder has reportedly added a well-known name to his potential ownership group.

Sportico reports that NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson has joined Josh Harris‘ bid to buy the team from current owner Daniel Snyder. Johnson was also involved in Harris’ unsuccessful bid to buy the Broncos last year and he was also linked to a potential bid to buy a portion of the Raiders.

There’s no word on how much capital Johnson would contribute to the bid. He contributed $50 million as part of a successful bid by Guggenheim Partners to buy the Dodgers in 2011 and still owns a stake in the team.

Billionaire Mitchell Rales also joined the Harris group recently and it seems likely there will be some word on what direction a sale will take in the near future.

Scott Fitterer: Lamar Jackson is a great, expensive option, but we’re focused on the draft

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The Panthers traded up from No. 9 overall to acquire the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft to select a quarterback.

Carolina General Manager Scott Fitterer admitted as much during his Monday press conference, saying the Panthers “have conviction” about multiple QBs in the incoming rookie class.

But before executing the trade with Chicago, did Carolina consider pursuing quarterback Lamar Jackson?

“Like anything, you always have a conversation,” Fitterer said Monday. “But we were looking… He’s a great option — a really expensive option. But we’re focused on more of the draft picks at this point.”

Because Baltimore placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, the quarterback is free to negotiate a contract with other teams as an offer sheet. The Ravens would be owed two first-round picks in return for Jackson if the team decided not to match the offer.

But there is a general belief that the Ravens are willing to match most contract proposals.

So, the Panthers traded up to make sure they’ll get a quarterback they like. And they will continue working toward figuring out who their next QB1 will be over the next month.

Scott Fitterer: Panthers “have conviction” on top QBs, still going through process

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The Panthers now have the top pick in the NFL Draft and the guy who swung the deal to get them to that spot says the team has not settled on a choice.

General Manager Scott Fitterer had his first press conference on Monday since trading wide receiver DJ Moore and four draft picks to Chicago to move up to the No. 1 overall. He said the team tried to avoid including Moore in the deal, but the team did what it had to do because they “wanted to get ourselves in a position to get a quarterback.”

When a team makes a move like that, there’s generally a player they have targeted but Fitterer insists that the Panthers have not made up their mind on which prospect they will be selecting next month. Fitterer said that the Panthers “have conviction” about multiple quarterbacks in this year’s class and are “still going through the process” of making their choice.

During the press conference, Fitterer was asked about head coach Frank Reich‘s history with taller quarterbacks and whether that means Bryce Young is out of the mix to be the pick in April. Fitterer said that Reich has not ruled out any player because of his height and it seems likely that the team will try to continue shielding their intentions for the pick as long as possible.

Dolphins officially exercise Tua Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option

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Word earlier this month was that the Dolphins would be exercising their option on Tua Tagovailoa‘s contract for the 2024 season and it’s now official.

The Dolphins announced that they are exercising the fifth-year option on Tagovailoa’s rookie deal on Monday. The option comes with a $23.17 million salary that is fully guaranteed for next season upon execution.

The move strengthens Miami’s commitment to Tagovailoa for the next two seasons despite the concussion issues that caused him to miss significant time during the 2022 season. Tagovailoa threw for 3,548 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 64.8 percent of his passes when he was healthy and the Dolphins are banking on that kind of productivity with fewer injury issues in the future.

Mike White is on hand to step in at quarterback in the event Tagovailoa does get hurt, but the hope is that the Dolphins future features more of Tagovailoa than they got the last time around.

Will Odell Beckham, Jr. do a one-year deal?


As evidenced by the contract accepted by safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, we’re firmly into the one-year deal phase of free agency. For one high-profile free agent who actually has been available to any team for more than a year now, the question becomes whether he will eventually accept a one-year deal.

And, if so, what the value of it will be.

Receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. has yet to get an offer he can’t or won’t refuse. He suggested on Saturday that he has received one or more offers in the range of $4 million. He made it clear he’s not interested in that.

So what will attract his interest? Will it take $10 million? How about $15 million? Even though OBJ has bristled at the notion he’s looking for $20 million, that’s the number that continues to make the rounds. (Indeed, we’ve heard that he has specifically cited that number when recently speaking to a player who could potentially be his next quarterback.)

Why wouldn’t Beckham want $20 million per year? Why wouldn’t he think he deserves it?

Look at this way. Does OBJ believe he’s a top 15 receiver in the NFL? If he does, then he also presumably wants $20 million per year — since the 15th highest-paid receiver (Brandin Cooks) has a deal with an average payout of $19.882 million.

In a three-way tie at No. 12 are Amari Cooper, Mike Williams, and Chris Godwin, who are getting $20 million each.

At his best, Beckham arguably is as good or better than those players. He simply needs to re-establish himself. He shouldn’t have to, but unfortunately he has to.

After two torn ACLs, the 30-year-old receiver who seemed to be on the brink of winning the Super Bowl LVI MVP award can’t just show up and say, “Pay me for what I’ve done.” Teams pay for what they expect a guy to do. At this point, no one knows what to expect from Beckham.

His best play would be to do a one-year deal that gives him a fair salary plus extra money for playing time and production. While tying too much money to catches could create consternation if the ball isn’t coming his way, he should expect to be paid much more than $4 million if he plays and plays well.

The other alternative would be to sign a one-year deal in multi-year deal clothing. That way, OBJ’s agents can send out the group text to reporters who will race to Twitter to regurgitate the trumped-up numbers without scrutiny, creating the impression that the contract is worth much more than it is.

Regardless, his best play would be to do a one-year deal (actual or de facto) for 2023, and to hope his performance unlocks something more significant for 2024 and beyond.

Timing also becomes critical. He could do something now, or he could wait for teams that don’t address their needs at receiver in the draft. Or maybe he could wait to see if someone gets injured during the offseason program.

At some point, the waiting needs to end. Beckham needs to do a deal, join a team, and re-establish himself. While he may not like the best offer he’ll be getting now, it will never be better later if he doesn’t come back and play now.

FMIA: The First-Week Free-Agency Files

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Thirty-two teams, 32 thoughts on the opening week of the league year.1. Chicago. The Bears traded ownership of the draft to Carolina, then owned the first week of free agency.After a conversation with Bears GM Ryan Poles the other night, it sounds like the trade was almost THE TRADE. Poles told me he had significant [more]

C.J. Gardner-Johnson joins the Lions on a one-year deal

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The Eagles have lost another free agent.

Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, whose extended stay on the open market pointed to an inevitable one-year deal, has indeed done a one-year deal, with the Lions.

The news comes from multiple reports; ESPN and NFL Media conflict on the value of the deal. ESPN has the deal as being worth “up to $8 million,” which NFL Media calls it an $8 million contract.

Either way, it’s millions short of whatever Gardner-Johnson targeted on a multi-year deal, or he would have had one. As noted on Saturday, players who remain available this far into the process usually have overshot their market.

For Gardner-Johnson, he’ll get a chance to build on a season that saw him intercept six passes in 12 games, and try again next year.

Will the Patriots pursue Lamar Jackson?

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More than four days into free agency, no potential suitor has conclusively been linked to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Could the Patriots eventually make a run at him?

Former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich recently lobbied for his former team to make the move.

“If you’re the Patriots, and you go and you make an attempt to get Lamar, that changes everything,” Ninkovich said Friday on Get Up!, via NBC Sports Boston. “Absolutely everything. And listen, I am a huge fan of Lamar’s style of game and what it puts on a defense, the stresses.

“And there’s needs and wants, OK? A need is necessary for life. A want, it helps your quality of life. I don’t need Lamar here, but I sure as heck want to see Lamar running around with a New England Patriot on his helmet. Because if you see it out there, the Patriots instantly become division favorites and, to me, get right back into that Super Bowl hunt.”

More recently, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com described the Patriots as a “wild card” for the 2019 NFL MVP, via NESN.com.

The Patriots can be regarded as a wild card for pretty much any free agent, because they’re always unpredictable when it comes to pursuing players. The hover silently, and then they move suddenly. Like they did in 2020 with quarterback Cam Newton.

The question is whether the Patriots would pursue Jackson before or after the 2023 draft. They currently have the 14th overall pick. If Jackson would make them significantly better, they could make a move after the draft, giving up a much lower 2024 first-round pick and a first-rounder in 2025 — in lieu of sacrificing their first-round picks in 2023 and 2024.

The bottom line is that the Patriots always want to win, and that coach Bill Belichick hardly gave a stellar and unconditional endorsement to current starter Mac Jones after the 2022 season ended. Asked whether Jones will be the the guy again in 2023, Belichick said, “Mac has the ability to play quarterback in this league.”

Indeed he does. And Lamar Jackson has even more ability. Sometimes, it’s that simple.

If only negotiating a deal with Lamar could be that simple. Then again, if anyone can lay out the terms of an offer to the self-represented Jackson in a blunt, matter-of-fact, nonsensical way, it’s Bill Belichick.

Panthers announce agreement with Adam Thielen

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Free agent receiver Adam Thielen has found a new home.

Nine days after the Vikings released him, Thielen has agreed to terms with the Panthers. He announced the deal on Instagram just before the team did. Thielen visited Carolina last week.

The Panthers needed to rebuild their receiving corps after trading DJ Moore to the Bears as part of the deal for the No. 1 overall pick, which will deliver a franchise quarterback. Carolina now has seven receivers on their roster, including Terrace Marshall, Jr., Laviska Shenault, and Shi Smith.

The team also has interest in signing free agent receiver D.J. Chark.

In 2022, Thielen caught 70 passes for 716 yards and six touchdowns.

The two-time Pro Bowler has 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns in his career.

Report: Brandin Cooks trade likely takes Cowboys out of Odell Beckham market

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The Cowboys traded for Brandin Cooks on Sunday and that may signal the end of their extended interest in adding another veteran wide receiver to their roster.

Ed Werder of ESPN reports that the Cooks acquisition likely takes the Cowboys out of the mix for signing Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason. The Texans are picking up $6 million of Cooks’ $18 million salary for 2023, but a source told Werder it would be hard to fit both Cooks and Beckham into the roster.

The Cowboys met with Beckham late last season as they considered signing him off of a torn ACL, but no deal was struck and Beckham did not play for anyone. There was word earlier this month that they were still interested in Beckham, but did not send anyone to watch the wideout’s recent workout.

Beckham indicated that he hasn’t been happy with the offers he’s received from teams so far this offseason and it doesn’t sound like the Cowboys are going to be the ones to change his view of the situation.

Laremy Tunsil gets new deal from Texans

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On the same day the Texans sent receiver Brandin Cooks to Dallas, the Texans sent tackle Laremy Tunsil to the top of the tackle market.

Saint Omni — a non-certified agent who made headlines last year for trying to negotiate with teams on behalf of linebacker Roquan Smith — told Ian Rapoport of NFL Media that the Texans have signed Tunsil to a three-year, $75 million deal, with $50 million fully-guaranteed at signing.

Like all initial reports of deals, which are blindly passed along without scrutiny of the actual, true details, we’ll wait for the real numbers before believing it’s as good as advertised.

“Mr. Omni is prohibited from negotiating Player Contracts or discussing potential trades on behalf of any NFL player or prospective player or assisting in or advising with respect to such negotiations,” the NFL said in a memo to all teams in August 2022, after it became clear that Omni was contacting teams in an effort to cajole them into trying to trade for Smith.

Although Tunsil technically represented himself, non-agents have in the past assisted self-represented players through phony email accounts. The agent pretends to be the player, in the digital negotiations with the team.

It will be interesting to know — if we ever find out — whether Tunsil negotiated the deal in face-to-face meetings with G.M. Nick Caserio, or whether Tunsil sent and received proposals via email.

Texans trade Brandin Cooks to Cowboys

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Brandin Cooks is on the move again.

The 2014 first-round receiver has been traded for the fourth time in his career. Via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Cooks has been shipped to the Cowboys for a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth-round pick.

Cooks wanted to be traded before the 2022 deadline, but his guaranteed pay of $18 million in 2023 became an impediment. It’s currently unclear whether the Texans will be paying any of the guaranteed money, or whether Cooks has reduced his salary to accommodate the deal.

The move comes a year after the Cowboys traded receiver Amari Cooper in lieu of paying him $20 million. That looked like a mistake in hindsight, especially as the receiver market thereafter exploded.

Cooks has six 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Last year, he caught 57 passes for 699 yards and three touchdowns.

Cooks has now been traded by the Saints to the Patriots, but the Patriots to the Rams, by the Rams to the Texans, and by the Texans to the Cowboys.

Commanders’ free-agent deals suggest sale is indeed coming

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As reported on Thursday night, there’s a belief that a sale of the Commanders is imminent. A new fact supports this timetable.

Specifically, signing bonuses for newly-signed contracts aren’t due imminently.

Ben Standig of TheAthletic.com reports that deals finalized in the past week delay the initial payment schedule. Instead of the first installment being due within 15 to 30 days after executing, the money is due roughly two months post-execution.

For example, the contract signed by defensive tackle Daron Payne provides, per Standing, for the first payment to be made by May 12, 2023. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett‘s contract also specifies that initial payment will be made by May 12.

This is a departure from the team’s past precedent. Given the circumstances, it suggests that someone else will be paying the signing bonuses.

PFT reported on Thursday night that owner Daniel and Tanya Snyder cleared out of the facility in late December, and that within the building there’s a belief a sale is imminent. Some believe it could be buttoned up quietly over the next week, and then announced at the league meetings in Arizona, which start next weekend.

In the three days since that report, there has been no effort by the team or anyone else to push back against it.