It’s Monday, so we’re back at it. Here’s a quick rundown of today’s news as we kick off the week.
1) It’s looking more and more like the Carolina Panthers are preparing to make a full-court press for disgruntled Texans QB, Deshaun Watson.
According to ESPN’s David Newton, the Panthers made some moves recently that cleared out $19.9 million in salary-cap space last week, three of which happened on Friday.
The club apparently notified Stephen Weatherly, Tre Boston and punter Michael Palardy of their respective releases, which won’t be official until the start of the league year next month on March 17th. However, those decisions cleared out nearly $28.5 million in cap space, giving Carolina a sizeable amount of additional cap room heading into free agency.
That move is expected to help as the Panthers reportedly plan on making “a strong run” at Watson, and given what’s already been reported, it will likely take quite a convincing offer to pry him free. While Watson has made it clear he’s done in Houston, GM Nick Caserio has written a line in the sand, saying he has no plans of trading him.
But if Carolina puts together a package that’s too good for the Texans to refuse, it could open the door for him to end up with the Panthers. ESPN’s Field Yates already predicted the move in a recent column, reporting that despite many believing Miami might be where Watson ends up, Yates has heard there has been more support for current QB Tua Tagovailoa within the Dolphins and he believes that if Caserio does eventually move Watson, the preference would probably be to move him out of the conference. Carolina is also likely the more attractive option given that the Panthers also have the #8 pick in the upcoming draft.
Meanwhile, Carolina owner David Tepper has been vocal recently about the fact he’s focused on getting his team back among the NFL’s elite. He’s reportedly grown frustrated with his QB situation and wants a significant upgrade. The Panthers were already in the mix in the Matt Stafford deal and after they came up short there, they’re clearly not done trying to acquire a franchise-type quarterback.
Needless to say, it will remain an interesting story to follow as if Watson gets dealt to the NFC, it will obviously have a ripple effect here in New England. Seeing Watson shipped out of the AFC shouldn’t disappoint anyone. The Texans have won the previous two meetings against the Patriots, including a 27-20 defeat just this past November.
2) Speaking of Yates, he pointed out an interesting fact late last week following the trade of Carson Wentz to the Eagles.
Yates Tweeted out that the trade of Wentz now makes it where none of the quarterbacks drafted in the first round from 2009-2016 are still with their original teams. That’s essentially 0-of-22.
One follower checked up on that stat and listed out all the players who fell into that category. The list was certainly – interesting.
Here’s a look:
And with the trade of Carson Wentz, there will now not be a single QB drafted in the first round from 2009-2016 that is still with his original team.
0 out of 22 total.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 18, 2021
Gabbert (backup for Bucs)
RG3 (backup for Ravens)
— Jake Matherson (@jake_matherson) February 18, 2021
Bortles (backup for Broncos)
Winston (backup for Saints)
Mariota (backup for Raiders)
Math checks out.
— Jake Matherson (@jake_matherson) February 18, 2021
One of the quarterbacks in that list, Marcus Mariota, remains one that fans in New England will likely be following depending on how things shake out. Mariota is said to be a player who could end up here, as the Raiders could look to move him this offseason. The only challenge is that there is expected to potentially be some competition, as other teams are reportedly expected to be in the mix for the Las Vegas back-up as well.
Mac Jones remains a player who some believe could be a fit in New England.
3) Mike Reiss brought up the recent interview with Charlie Weis in his Sunday column, with Weis having appeared recently on Sirius XM NFL Radio while discussing Alabama QB Mac Jones’ potential NFL future.
Weis spoke with co-host, Bill Lekas and one of the things he pointed out was the fact that despite the perception from people who downplay his junior season due to Jones’ supporting cast, Weis said it doesn’t change the fact the Alabama QB still had to go out and execute.
“You talk about being around good players. Yeah, he was around good players. But playing on a team with a bunch of stars, who is the leader of the offense?” Weis said via ESPN. “He also had to make all those throws. I think the kid is an excellent quarterback. He has less holes than just about anybody.”
Weis also said that Jones’ success speaks for itself. To do it consistently across an entire season and all the way until the end speaks volumes.
“He’s the one making all the plays,” said Weis. “All he does is win and throw completions.”
Jones remains an interesting prospect. Some mock drafts have him being taken before the Patriots have a shot at getting him at #15, while others have him falling late into Round 1. So it appears there might be a shot at getting him and clearly Weis, who played a big role early in Tom Brady’s development, believes Jones has something special heading into the NFL.
One interesting thing that stood out about Jones in an article I found from back in December about Jones was the fact he appears to have a little bit of the same cockiness Brady had in him when Brady was a back-up in his first season.
Jones, who had previously played behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, showed his competitiveness from his early days as a scout team quarterback.
“I don’t care if you’re my teammates or not,” receiver DeVonta Smith recalled of Jones, “I’m going to come out here and try to embarrass you every day.”
That’s the kind of guy you want coming in. Whether or not he gets an opportunity here will obviously be the thing everyone will be following in the coming months, but he’s certainly becoming a little more intriguing with each passing day.
A return to New England still appears unlikely.
4) When it comes to Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s amazing how many conflicting reports keep coming out on nearly a daily basis.
There are so many who believe the 49ers want to move on from him, but while they may be considering an upgrade, it’s clear that they’re not going to move Garoppolo without someone else who can step in and help get them to a Championship.
In a piece on FoxSports.com, Colin Cowherd looked at a variety of situations, including the possibility of Garoppolo coming back to New England. He obviously believes that destination clearly makes the most sense, since Garoppolo knows the system and the Patriots don’t currently have a viable quarterback.
But as Cowherd also points out, San Francisco is 24-8 with him as a starter and he feels that they have a roster that’s capable of making another Super Bowl run. So he feels, if San Francisco is going to make a change, it may not be until after this season.
It’s definitely an odd situation. Save for a few freak injuries, giving up on a player who has gotten you that close definitely seems a little strange. Locally in the Bay area, those who cover the 49ers believe Garoppolo isn’t going anywhere. That could lead you to believe that any movement by Garoppolo wouldn’t be until after next year, with Jimmy G essentially heading into a “make or break” year this season with a chance to quiet his critics. If that does ultimately happen, it should at least be interesting to see how he handles it.
5) Looking back on a little Patriots history, it’s hard to believe this offseason marks 15-years ago when the Patriots parted ways with kicker, Adam Vinatieri.
The 2006 offseason ended up being when the club wasn’t able to resign the then-free agent kicker, with Vinatieri alluding to the eventual break-up during an interview with the Orlando Sentinal prior to his eventual departure from the team.
“I really enjoyed my 10 years with the Patriots. It’s been a great time and I have a lot of good memories in there,” he said at the time. “The New England Patriots are bigger than I am. There have been other people who have been released, and others who have been brought in, and that team’s been good no matter what.”
Vinatieri was a hot topic that offseason, garnering a lot of interest during the scouting combine where teams like the Green Bay Packers were among teams whispering about him heading into free agency. Given his impressive resume, which included some of the most historic kicks in both NFL and team history, he had about as much leverage as could have been expected. There was some frustration at the time as Vinatieri was hoping to get a raise from his former team but things didn’t seem promising that he would be back the next season.
“If we don’t do a deal with him, then he’ll be a free agent,” Belichick told the Boston Herald at the time. “We’ve had players in free agency before, and we’ll have them again. It takes two parties to make a deal.”
Ultimately, it didn’t get done, with Vinatieri signing with Indianapolis on March 22, 2006.
Vinatieri ended up playing longer with the Colts than he did with the Patriots, likely extending his career by kicking in a dome instead of out in the elements at Gillette Stadium.
Meanwhile, New England lucked out, selecting Stephen Gostkowski in the 4th round of the draft a couple of months later and the rest, as they say, is history.
After having two of the most consistent players on their team for so long, kicker quietly remains a position of need this offseason if New England isn’t able to resign 2020 kicker, Nick Folk. While the discussion this offseason obviously will swirl around the quarterback position, Folk did a good job of making kicker a non-issue last season, and unfortunately, that success might suddenly put quite a few teams in the mix to compete for Folk’s services, possibly leaving New England in need of finding another replacement this offseason.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Adam Vinatieri Bill Belichick Carolina Panthers Carson Wentz Charlie Weis Colin Cowherd David Tepper Deshaun Watson DeVonta Smith Indianapolis Colts Jalen Hurts Jimmy Garoppolo Las Vegas Raiders Mac Jones Marcus Mariota Michael Palardy New England Patriots Nick Caserio Nick Folk Patriots Rumors San Francisco 49ers Stephen Gostkowski Stephen Weatherly Tom Brady Tre Boston Tua Tagovailoa