Yet another Sunday PFT mailbag
It’s a new tradition in these parts, one that keeps me a little less bored than I’d otherwise be on the slowest news day of the week. Hopefully, it keeps you a little less bored, too.
Plenty of questions were submitted via Twitter. The best 10 are answered below.
And we’ll do it again next Sunday, unless I get bored with this effort to avoid boredom.
From @chriscarra35: “Why would [Andy] Dalton choose the Cowboys over the chance to compete for the starting gig somewhere a la Pats, Jags or to mentor a first-round pick? Is this a power play by Jerry?”
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, five teams pursued Dalton. None provided a direct path to a starting job in 2020. (This implies that the Patriots weren’t one of the five.) Dalton decided to go to the best team with the best chance to compete for a championship in 2020.
The presence of coach Mike McCarthy also was an attraction, since Dalton will have a chance to continue to develop as a quarterback.
Thus, Dalton’s goal is to be the best teammate he can be, to lead by example and experience, to support Dak Prescott, and then to hit the market in 2021, possibly as one of the top available veteran options.
From the Cowboys’ perspective, Dalton provides a veteran presence to further assist his development, and a major upgrade over Cooper Rush. Whether Jerry Jones also hopes to use Dalton’s presence as protection against a holdout by Prescott that could extend into the regular season remains to be seen. That question could become very relevant if Prescott and the Cowboys don’t work out a new deal before the July 15 deadline for signing franchise-tagged players to multi-year contracts.
The ultimate Dallas power play would entail stripping the franchise tender from Dak. That’s highly unlikely, but it wouldn’t be crazy for the Cowboys to at least ponder whether, dollar for dollar, Dalton at up to $7 million represents a better value than Prescott at $31.4 million. Washington did precisely that in 2017, considering whether Kirk Cousins was eight times more valuable than Colt McCoy before eventually tagging Cousins a second time.
From @vamos4ramos: “Do you think the Saints secretly wish they would’ve waited a few extra days and signed Andy Dalton Instead of Jameis Winston?”
No. Sean Payton is smart enough to know Dalton would have been available. It actually was shrewd to get Winston under contract for only $1.1 million before Dalton signed his new contract, since Winston could have potentially driven a harder bargain by pointing to Dalton’s deal.
If Payton wanted Dalton, Payton would have gotten Dalton. But Payton wanted Winston, and many now want to see what Winston can do while working with Payton.
From @DeShawnLynch0: “If the Saints love Taysom Hill as much as reported, why do they keep bringing in premier backups?”
At $1.1 million, Jameis Winston isn’t really a “premier” backup. The deeper issue isn’t name recognition or contract value but whether and to what extent the base offense fits Hill. It doesn’t, so the Saints need a backup (like Teddy Bridgewater in 2018 and 2019) who can run the base offense if Brees gets injured.
Next year, if/when Hill is the starter, Sean Payton will design an offense for Hill (or, more accurately, implement an offense Payton already has devised), and Payton will find a backup who can run it.
From @ChrisSteel20: “What do the Bengals do for the backup QB spot as Dalton’s away and Ryan Finley never exactly done great when he had his chance last year do they look for a experienced QB backup or stick with what’s there already?”
While it would have made sense to have Dalton around for a year or so to help with Joe Burrow‘s development, Dalton’s $17.5 million salary made that impossible. So it’s Finley for now with the possibility that the Bengals will add someone else, preferably someone who knows the offense.
Blake Bortles, who spent 2019 with the Rams (from which coach Zac Taylor was hired) and who remains available, could be the obvious answer.
From @PFTPMPosse: “Could you see a lot of players sitting out if they do the Feb-May NCAA season? A hastily thrown together season may have a lot more injuries making top players just skip it & prepare for the NFL?”
A delay in the college football season would create a wide range of issues for college football and for the NFL. The draft would have to be delayed, and it would become very difficult to balance properly scouting the incoming players with preparing them for their rookie seasons.
Then there’s the very real question of whether it would be appropriate to expect young men who played from February through May to turn around and play another season that starts in September.
The smart move for the best players (like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence) would be to sit out a February-May season, keep themselves healthy, keep themselves fresh, and get themselves ready to go for their rookie seasons in the NFL.
From @thomasmckoskey: “Will the NFL change the rules of the supplemental draft this year because of COVID-19?”
This question has come up several times recently. Without delving into the niceties of player eligibility for the supplemental draft, it’s hard to imagine the NFL doing anything that would undermine the potential availability of college football players to play college football, either during college football season or from February through May.
The supplemental draft was devised for narrow and specific purposes. Broadening those categories to give players a way to escape an uncertain college football season will hamper the ability of college football to make as much money as possible from a workforce it doesn’t pay. And that alone is enough reason for the NFL to tread very lightly.
From @CJ_DA__TRUTH: “With the possibility of an international franchise drawing the league closer to London and Mexico, could we see a possible expansion franchise or two from new possible owners?”
Not long ago, expansion of the NFL seemed to be something that wouldn’t happen for decades. With 32 teams configured neatly into two conferences and four divisions per conference and four teams per division, the NFL has balance and order and equity.
But money still drives the bus. More teams would result in more games would result in more tickets would result in more TV money would result in more money that can be earned from all the wagering that happens on the extra games. Given the financial impact of the pandemic, owners could be clamoring to realize the huge expansion fees and the increased cash that will come from putting a couple of new teams in new (or old) places.
Think of it this way: Added one week to the season adds 16 total games. Adding two teams would also add (wait for it) 16 total games. Which could end up being a better alternative to pushing for the season to expand from 17 to 18 games.
One impediment to expansion has been the absence of enough quality quarterbacks. With a recent explosion of young quarterbacks who quickly develop, every team has access to a starting quarterback who won’t set back offensive football by 60 years. Currently, there are more passable passers than franchises, which would help justify expanding the number of teams.
From @leepers500: “What is the threshold you think the NFL would tolerate in infections or deaths from COVID if they open on time and see the disease arise in their midst?”
If the NFL decides to proceed with football season, it will accept the possibility that players and coaches will become infected, will get ill, and potentially will die. The threshold question is whether players and coaches will accept those risks. (Most players will; for coaches who are older and/or who have other health conditions like diabetes, it becomes a much tougher call.)
Testing continues to be the most important factor as it relates to the playing of football in 2020. As explained on Saturday, it’s expected that quick and efficient testing both for the virus and for antibodies will be readily available by August. That will make it easier to ensure that, on any given day, only those who test negative will enter a team’s facility.
And if/when (when) someone develops COVID-19, the NFL surely will take all steps necessary to ensure that the person gets the best possible treatment, as quickly as possible.
As life tries to move back toward normal, there will be issues and challenges for the NFL, along with the rest of society. The league will accept those issues and challenges in the name of ensuring that football season happens in 2020, for the NFL’s own good and for the good of a country craving for sports.
From @CLSportsNation: “How much did Dak’s agent cost him by holding out for every nickel?”
So far, Dak has lost nothing. He continues to have a franchise tender of $31.4 million and the leverage that goes along with it — including the ability to make 20 percent more in 2021 if he opt to play on a year-to-year basis, in the event the Cowboys fail to offer Dak an acceptable long-term deal.
The financial risk, albeit slim, comes from the possibility that the Cowboys will become exasperated with the situation and rescind the franchise tender. That would make Dak a free agent at a time when budgets have been exhausted, cap space is scarce, and financial uncertainty lingers due to the pandemic. He’d likely have a very hard time getting $31.4 million for 2020 or the kind of long-term deal that he has rejected from Dallas, to date.
Still, the stripping of the franchise tender would be a stunner, even with Andy Dalton now in position to take over the team in Dak’s absence. Which means that the agent’s negotiating posture hasn’t, and most likely won’t, affect Prescott’s earning potential.
From @ThomNFLfan_76: “Where will Cam Newton end up?”
For various reasons, the 2015 MVP remains unsigned. And he’ll likely remain unsigned at least until an interested team can give him a proper physical.
Even then, no starting jobs are available and the teams that perhaps would pursue him (Patriots and Jaguars) would have a hard time creating the necessary cap space.
Cam’s best play continues to be patience. At some point, a quarterback will get injured. And that’s when an opportunity likely will come his way. Although plenty of teams opt for the “next man up” approach when a starter goes down, no team has a “next man up” who can hold a candle to Cam. If he’s healthy by September and a starter somewhere suddenly isn’t, Newton could be in business.