BS Meter on NFL's Biggest Rumors Entering the 2023 Offseason

Maurice Moton @ @MoeMoton Contributor I February 14, 2023

BS Meter on NFL's Biggest Rumors Entering the 2023 Offseason

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    Aaron Rodgers
    Aaron Rodgers AP Photo/Mike Roemer

    Leading up to and on the morning of Super Bowl 57, NFL insiders and reporters fed us a heavy dose of quarterback buzz with Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr headed into an offseason with some uncertainty around their short-term futures.

    Buckle up, we're in for a busy offseason as teams address varying quarterback situations.

    Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport , Carr informed the Las Vegas Raiders that he won't waive his no-trade clause, and the club is expected to release him. Remember, the Raiders would owe the quarterback $40.4 million in guarantees if he's on the roster February 15. Essentially, Carr exercised control of his career destiny, and he'll get a head start on free agency.

    The Baltimore Ravens will negotiate with Jackson on an extension, but what if the two sides struggle to strike a deal?

    Rodgers will go on a " darkness retreat " to contemplate his future. He doesn't have a no-trade clause, but the Green Bay Packers may be willing to let him dictate his next career step.

    Aside from the biggest quarterback names in the rumor mill, Daniel Jones is set to hit the open market. While we assume that the Chicago Bears will move forward with quarterback Justin Fields, the club hasn't tipped its hand on a plan for the No. 1 overall pick.

    Lastly, does it makes sense for a team to cut a five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver?

    With the offseason in full swing, let's break down the biggest rumors around the league with a BS meter that ranges from one to 10—one being close to reality, and 10 signifying total BS.

Ravens Could Be Tempted By Trade Offer for Lamar Jackson

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    Lamar Jackson
    Lamar Jackson AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

    On one hand, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh seems confident that Lamar Jackson will remain the team's starting quarterback and set the probability at 200 percent in his end-of-season press conference.

    However, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo , teams may be able to entice Baltimore to deal the star quarterback for a "windfall of draft picks."

    Nonetheless, Rapoport expects the Ravens to franchise-tag Jackson if they don't work out a new deal with him, but the signal-caller may want out if the team doesn't meet his contract demands.

    Per Rapoport , Jackson wanted a fully guaranteed deal comparable to the $230 million contract that Deshaun Watson signed with the Cleveland Browns, which hindered Baltimore's attempt to extend him before the 2022 season. Moreover, Jackson rejected an extension that, in some aspects, eclipsed quarterback Russell Wilson's five-year, $245 million contract with the Denver Broncos.

    According to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec , the Ravens seem "highly unlikely" to offer Jackson a fully guaranteed contract. The Ravens beat reporter also wrote, "there have been no outward signs of positive movement on that front in recent weeks" in regard to negotiations between the club and the quarterback.

    Baltimore could be hesitant to give Jackson a fully guaranteed deal after he's missed 11 games (including the playoffs) over the previous two seasons. If that becomes an issue, teams may become aggressive in an approach to acquire him, which would open the door for a trade.

    For now, the Ravens have leverage with the franchise tag. If they use it, Jackson's reaction could complicate negotiations through the spring. He'll likely have to give up on the idea of a fully guaranteed contract to stay in Baltimore or play elsewhere.

    Jackson would probably have to demand a trade for Baltimore to deal him away. He's helped lead the Ravens to four playoff appearances in five years.

    BS Meter: 6

Bears' No. 1 Overall Pick 'Worth a Small Fortune'

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    Ryan Poles
    Ryan Poles Quinn Harris/Getty Images

    General managers of quarterback-needy teams will offer a treasure trove of draft picks if they're laser-focused on a specific prospect who has the potential to become the face of a franchise.

    This year, C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) and Bryce Young (Alabama) are the top quarterback prospects in most early mock drafts. Bleacher Report's post-Senior Bowl big board rankings listed the former and latter as the No. 6 and No. 12 overall prospects, respectively. We gave Stroud (8.4) a slightly higher grade than Young (8.2).

    Regardless of the order in which Stroud and Young go in April's draft, teams may be willing to give up multiple premium picks for either of the two signal-callers, which bodes well for the Bears' ability to accumulate more capital and fill holes across their roster.

    ESPN's Adam Schefter joined Waddle & Silvy to discuss the value of Chicago's top draft pick (h/t Bears Wire's Brendan Sugrue ).

    " I can just tell you right now, that the Bears are going to have the opportunity to listen to some unbelievable offers for the No. 1 pick. And they're gonna have the chance to parlay that one pick – that came as a benefit from the Houston Texans, playing a game that they never should have won – into a bevy of future picks that can set up that franchise for years to come. "

    On the Rich Eisen Show (h/t The 33rd Team's Ari Meirov ), Bears quarterback Justin Fields said the team hasn't shared its plan for the top selection in this year's draft, but he would like to be in the know because "everyone would love honesty in the process."

    If the Bears choose to build around Fields, they could rack up top-100 picks in the next two years and significantly improve the quarterback's supporting cast by adding wide receiver and offensive line help.

    In a quarterback-driven league, general manager Ryan Poles should receive strong offers for the top spot in the 2023 draft, but Young and Stroud will likely need to show out at the NFL Scouting Combine and/or at their pro days.

    BS meter: 2

Packers Are Willing to Do What Aaron Rodgers Wants This Offseason

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    Aaron Rodgers
    Aaron Rodgers AP Photo/Morry Gash

    Once Aaron Rodgers returns from his "darkness retreat," he may have full say in what happens next in his NFL career.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport , the Green Bay Packers will accommodate Rodgers if he requests a trade, and they're willing to move forward with him in the event that he wants to return for another year.

    Remember, the Packers have quarterback Jordan Love under contract for the 2023 term, and they could exercise his fifth-year option. Team brass could pull the plug on the Rodgers era and move on with the 24-year-old backup.

    However, with Love's inexperience (one start in 10 games), the Packers may be willing to stick it out with Rodgers, who helped them win four of their last five games and built a strong rapport with wideout Christian Watson in the second half of the 2022 season. After Week 9, the rookie receiver racked up 107-plus yards in three games and scored seven total touchdowns.

    Yet if Rodgers doesn't want to stay with the Packers, they have his replacement ready to go.

    This stance makes sense for Green Bay, though Rodgers would have the ball in his court.

    BS Meter: 1

Chargers 'Most Likely' to Cut WR Keenan Allen

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    Keenan Allen
    Keenan Allen AP Photo/David Zalubowski

    This offseason, the Los Angeles Chargers can sign Justin Herbert to an extension, which should be a massive new deal for the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowler and one of the league's ascending quarterbacks. The Athletic's Daniel Popper expects the team to come to terms on a new contract with the 24-year-old signal-caller.

    If Hebert signs a new deal, general manager Tom Telesco will probably have to make tough roster cuts that include notable names. Popper listed six primary starters: edge-rusher Khalil Mack, wide receiver Keenan Allen, cornerback Michael Davis, left guard Matt Feiler, center Corey Linsley and tight end Gerald Everett.

    Assuming the Chargers extend Herbert, they should do everything possible to retain his most reliable receiver in Allen, who's led the team in receptions for two of the quarterback's three years in the league.

    Sure, Allen battled a hamstring injury and missed seven contests this past season, but he still led Los Angeles in receiving yards per game (75.2) with a 74.2 percent catch rate .

    The Chargers have a solid No. 3 wideout in Joshua Palmer, who logged career highs in catches (72) and receiving yards (769) this past season. With that said, Mike Williams has been dinged up with minor injuries throughout his six-year career and missed the team's AFC Wild Card Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a term that he sat out four outings.

    Allen is more established than Palmer and more reliable than Williams. If the Chargers must cut key players to maintain roster flexibility for the future, Allen should be low on the list of possible cap casualties.

    BS Meter: 9

QB Daniel Jones Will Command $35-37 Million on the Free-Agent Market

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    Daniel Jones
    Daniel Jones AP Photo/Matt Rourke

    Coming off his best pro season, Daniel Jones can cash in on a new lucrative contract on the open market. SNY's Connor Hughes spoke to league executives who believe the New York Giants quarterback can land a deal that averages $35-37 million annually, which is slightly more than the $32.4 million franchise tag.

    Hughes said if the Giants don't come to an agreement with Jones on a multiyear deal, they'll use the franchise tag. Either way, Big Blue would have to figure out how to retain its quarterback and spread $47.9 million in cap space to address other roster needs at wide receiver and in the secondary. By the way, running back Saquon Barkley has an expiring contract.

    On the low end of the $35-37 million pay scale, Jones would tie with Kirk Cousins for 10th among quarterbacks in average salary, per Spotrac , which is a high number for a passer who hasn't thrown for more than 15 touchdowns in a single season since 2019. Though Jones adds an element to the offense with his legs (708 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in 2022), he probably won't sustain that level of productivity on the ground for multiple seasons.

    In the best-case scenario, the Giants sign Jones on a contract that's slightly below the $35 million mark and sell him on the idea that the couple of millions he leaves on the table will go to an investment on a wideout or a pass-catching tight end. Perhaps Big Blue swings a trade for DeAndre Hopkins, who, according to The Score's Jordan Schultz , is headed to the trade block. Tight ends Dalton Schultz, Mike Gesicki and Evan Engram will become free agents in March.

    While Jones may command $35-37 million, the Giants will likely franchise-tag him or agree on a deal slightly below that range.

    BS Meter: 9

New York Jets Will Explore QB Options Who Aren't Scheduled to Become Free Agents

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    Ryan Tannehill
    Ryan Tannehill Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Last Friday, CBS Sports' Josina Anderson shared an interesting update on the New York Jets' quarterback search. She's heard buzz that the team might look at signal-callers who aren't set to test free agency or expected to hit the open market.

    Interestingly, Jets owner Woody Johnson made it clear that his team needs an "experienced" upgrade at the quarterback position in an interview with ESPN's Dianna Russini during the NFL Honors award show last Thursday night.

    If you connect the dots between Johnson's comments and Anderson's report, the Jets will likely set a wide quarterback-catching net.

    ESPN's Jeremy Fowler thinks the Jets will "aggressively" pursue Aaron Rodgers, but who could become a late addition to the quarterback carousel?

    Ryan Tannehill makes the most sense because the Tennessee Titans may decide to move on from him if they select a quarterback with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2023 draft or move up for Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis or Anthony Richardson.

    With general manager Ran Carthon taking over for Jon Robinson, whom the team fired in December, and Tim Kelly's promotion from passing game coordinator to offensive coordinator to replace Todd Downing, the Titans may pivot at quarterback with a new outlook on that side of the ball.

    Tennessee may place Tannehill on the trade block, or the club can designate him as a post-June 1 cut and save $27 million, per Over the Cap .

    If the Titans part ways with Tannehill, the Jets could consider him as an alternative option to Jimmy Garoppolo if they miss out on Derek Carr and Aaron Rodgers remains with the Green Bay Packers.

    BS Meter: 1

Derek Carr Linked to the Jets, Saints

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    Derek Carr
    Derek Carr Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

    Derek Carr will gauge his market value about a month in advance of the official start of free agency.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport , the Las Vegas Raiders will release Carr after his refusal to waive his no-trade clause for any team. Prior to the quarterback's decision to exercise the stipulation in his contract, he took a visit with the New Orleans Saints.

    Per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler , the Saints wanted to restructure Carr's deal, which is something he didn't want to do. The 31-year-old signal-caller may want to sign with a team with less cap restrictions.

    On Monday, Rapoport appeared on the Pat McAfee Show , and he said the Jets are interested in Carr, and there's still a mutual interest between the soon-to-be free agent and the Saints.

    Following the Saints' meeting with Carr, we should expect the two sides to remain in contact.

    On Monday, the Jets hired Todd Downing to fill their passing game coordinator position. He served as Carr's quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator between 2015 and 2017 with the then-Oakland Raiders.

    One can connect the dots between Carr and the Jets, but SNY's Connor Rogers (h/t Turn On The Jets podcast) spoke to people around the league who questioned the fit because of the immediate pressure on the incoming signal-caller. Rogers pointed out that if Gang Green misses the 2023 playoffs, the organization may clean house. Knowing that, Carr may want a more stable situation.

    Carr has a better chance to win in the NFC South than he does in a high-pressure situation in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins coming off playoff appearances. The Jets may target Carr, but their winning timeline may not appeal to him after his breakup with the Raiders.

    BS Meter: 4

Brock Purdy the Favorite to Start Over Trey Lance for the 49ers in 2023?

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    Trey Lance (left) and Brock Purdy (right)
    Trey Lance (left) and Brock Purdy (right) Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

    The San Francisco 49ers will head into the offseason with a complicated quarterback situation.

    Assuming quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo signs elsewhere in free agency, the team will turn the offense over to Trey Lance or Brock Purdy. The 49ers sent three first-round picks along with a third-rounder to the Miami Dolphins in a move up to the No. 3 draft spot for the former in 2021, but the latter went 7-1 as a rookie starter for the 2022 season.

    The Athletic's Tim Kawakami believes that Purdy has the inside track to the starting job; he prefaced his response to a mailbag question by stating that injuries (obviously) can change the pecking order.

    "But if Purdy is healthy by the first few weeks of training camp, I believe he's the incumbent. Lance will have to put together a remarkable offseason and start of training camp, while Purdy recuperates, for this to become any kind of QB competition, and even then I think the job is 90 percent waiting for Purdy."

    Kawakami's comments coincide with tight end George Kittle's thought that "it's Brock's job to lose," as he mentioned on Bleacher Report 's The Voncast .

    Purdy tore his UCL in the NFC Championship Game, though NFL Network's Ian Rapoport expects the 49ers signal-caller to "make a full recovery and be ready for training camp." If that timeline holds up, Lance may take a backseat to the last overall pick from last year's draft.

    Purdy has more starting experience in head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense than Lance, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in his fourth start (Week 2 of the 2022 campaign), but we should wait a bit before we attach the front-runner label to the former.

    Remember, the 49ers gave up a lot for Lance, and he's owed $9.3 million in 2023. Shanahan may keep his options open with a full-fledged quarterback competition at training camp.

    BS Meter: 8

QB Jimmy Garoppolo Is on the Buccaneers' Free-Agent Radar

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    Jimmy Garoppolo
    Jimmy Garoppolo Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    According to ESPN's Adam Schefter (via Jenna Laine ), Tom Brady filed his retirement letter to the NFL and the league's Players Association, which means, unlike last offseason, he's not going to make a comeback before free agency.

    The Buccaneers are $55.7 million over the cap threshold with $35.1 million owed to Brady, but they plan to consider the veteran quarterback market with Jimmy Garoppolo on their target list, per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo (starts at 1:10).

    General manager Jason Licht will need to cut and (or) restructure deals to make room for Garoppolo, who may command north of $30 million in free agency. Spotrac projects a $34.9 million deal for the nine-year veteran.

    Teams have manipulated the salary cap to make room for acquisitions in the past. Most notably, the New Orleans Saints cleared $110 million in cap space in each of the previous two offseasons.

    Stuck with a good chunk of money owed to Brady, the Buccaneers will likely terminate a couple of sizable contracts. The front office can save about $19.3 million if it designates left tackle Donovan Smith ($15.3 million) and tight end Cameron Brate ($4 million) as post-June 1 cuts, per Over the Cap .

    With Pro Bowl wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin under team control for the 2023 term, Garoppolo would have the perimeter playmakers to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2022 season. Though Tampa Bay is a logical landing spot for Garoppolo, the Buccaneers must go through a few steps before they consider him a realistic target.

    BS Meter: 3

    Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton