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The Athletic's Daniel Popper suggests that Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (knee) could be the odd man out among fellow receiver Keenan Allen and pass-rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack this offseason. Williams and the other three players have huge salary cap hits this year after they were all restructured last offseason. Together, they are projected to account for close to 60% of the team's cap in 2024, according to Over the Cap. It's highly unlikely all four players will be on the roster this fall. Williams is coming off a torn ACL and has the second-highest receiver cap hit in the league at $32.46 million (Allen has the highest). If Williams is cut, the Chargers would save $20 million. And if Williams is gone, former first-rounder Quentin Johnston should have a much bigger role in his sophomore season after he was a big disappointment his rookie year.
The Cleveland Browns restructured Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward's deal on Thursday to clear $11.359 million in salary cap space for the 2024 season. The move puts the Browns under the new $255.4 million salary cap by around $3 million. They are still among the teams with the least cap space in the NFL heading into the start of free agency on March 13, and there will other players in the near future that Cleveland restructures. Among them could be quarterback Deshaun Watson for the third straight year, and receiver Amari Cooper. Ward's cap charge was $23.462 million and his base salary was $15.324 million, but now he'll get a big chunk of that cash up front. The 26-year-old Ward still has four years left on the five-year, $100.5 million extension he signed in 2022. He appeared in just 13 games in 2023 due to injuries but should bounce back in 2024 with better health.
The Cincinnati Bengals announced on Thursday that quarterback Jake Browning has been issued a tender, which assures the team that they will retain his exclusive rights for the 2024 season. Browning now has the option of signing the team's tender offer or negotiating a long-term deal with the club. The 27-year-old made his NFL debut in 2023 for the Bengals and was forced into a starting role due to injuries to Joe Burrow. Browning ended up appearing in nine games (seven starts) and acquitted himself well with a league-high 70.4% completion percentage with 1,936 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He's fully expected to be Burrow's top backup for the 2024 season, but he won't be on the fantasy radar again unless Burrow misses more time due to injury.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Sammis Reyes (concussion) is healthy again and is free to sign with any NFL team this offseason, according to a league source. The Jaguars waived Reyes on Monday after he retired from football last August following his concussion in training camp last summer. The 28-year-old will attempt to continue his playing career in the NFL now that he's past his concussion, though. Reyes was active for 11 games (one start) in 2021 with the Washington Commanders but wasn't targeted at all in the passing game. Wherever he lands this offseason, he'll merely be providing tight end depth and won't be a lock for the 53-man regular-season roster.
The New England Patriots have a plan in place to reshape their quarterback position in new head coach Jerod Mayo's first year running the team, according to multiple sources. The Patriots' plan is to sign a veteran in free agency, draft a quarterback at No. 3 overall in the upcoming NFL draft and potentially sit the rookie if need be. Mac Jones is on his way out. One NFL executive relayed that it's widely expected in league circles that QBs will be taken with the first three picks in April's draft. USC's Caleb Williams is expected to go first overall, with New England's decision likely to come down to either LSU's Jayden Daniels or North Carolina's Drake Maye. The Pats interviewed both prospects at this week's scouting combine and have been heavily focused on QBs at the combine. No matter what, whichever QB they select in the draft isn't going to be rushed into a starting role in 2024 if they aren't ready.
The New Orleans Saints moved even more than $1.5 million of defensive end Cameron Jordan's salary cap costs into future years as their latest restructure. The Saints had room to move up to $9.4 million in cap costs with Jordan's deal, which owes him a fully guaranteed $13 million in 2024. New Orleans is in the yearly spot of restructuring multiple deals to free up much-needed salary cap space with the start of the new league year coming next month. The 34-year-old eight-time Pro Bowler has 117.5 career sacks in his 13 seasons in the NFL, but he mustered only 43 tackles (20 solo), two sacks, three tackles for loss and six QB hits in 17 starts for the Saints in 2023. Jordan is a veteran presence on the team's defensive line, but he's clearly past his prime.
Georgia tight end Brock Bowers said at the NFL scouting combine on Thursday in Indianapolis that he hasn't decided if he will do any on-field workouts this week and said he won't decide until he's at the stadium on Friday. "Just a personal decision," Bowers said. Bowers is the consensus top tight end in the upcoming 2024 draft, but like most of the top quarterback prospects, he may hold off and work out at his school's pro day next month instead. The 21-year-old was extremely productive in his college career as a Bulldog, racking up 175 catches for 2,538 yards and 26 touchdowns while averaging 14.5 yards per catch. It remains to be seen if he can be as productive as the Lions' Sam LaPorta in his rookie year in the NFL in 2024, but there's no question Bowers has high-end TE1 potential.
Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider has taken only two quarterbacks in his first 14 drafts with the team -- Russell Wilson in the third round in 2012 and Alex McGough in the seventh round in 2018. However, Schneider characterized this year's QB class as "a good group" and noted that he'd like to break the trend of not selecting QBs in the draft. "I've told you guys in the past and having grown up in the Packer organization for Ron Wolfe, 14 drafts and only drafting two quarterbacks is not something that we're necessarily proud of. It's just happened that way. Every year it's a goal to acquire a quarterback, whether that's draft free agency, whatever it looks like. But, yeah, this year's draft class is a cool group. A lot of variances in there," Schneider said. Seattle doesn't seem all that committed to Geno Smith, and Drew Lock is a free agent this offseason.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O'Connell stayed afloat in his rookie season while being forced into action in 2023 over 10 starts, but he mostly looked like someone best suited for a role as a backup. At the very least, the Raiders need to bring in a starting-caliber QB in free agency to compete for the job with O'Connell, in the opinion of The Athletic's Tashan Reed. In an ideal circumstance, the Raiders will land their QB of the future in the 2024 NFL draft. However, there's no guaranteed they can get in range for one of the top prospects at the position, as they currently have the No. 13 overall pick in the first round. Reed suggests that the Raiders should make every effort to find a QB in a loaded class that is headlined by USC's Caleb Williams, North Carolina's Drake Maye and LSU's Jayden Daniels.
The Athletic's Tashan Reed suggests that Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow is a cut candidate this offseason. Renfrow was excellent in 2021, was named a Pro Bowler and was rewarded with a two-year, $32.3 million contract extension the following offseason that felt like a no-brainer at the time. But the extension has aged poorly. Renfrow couldn't stay healthy in 2022, played a career-low 35 percent of the offensive snaps last year, and has made just 61 catches since signing his extension. The Raiders would save around $8.1 million while taking a dead-money hit of $5.5 million if they cut or trade Renfrow before June 1. If they cut or trade him after June 1, they'll free up $11.8 million in salary cap space for 2024 while taking a dead-money hit of $1.8 million this year and a dead-money hit of $3.6 million in 2025.
In an interview with ESPN, top 2024 NFL Draft quarterback prospect Caleb Williams said he'd be "excited" if the Chicago Bears drafted him in April. For months, there have been rumors that Williams would like to avoid being taken by Chicago, but he has never suggested it himself. "If I get drafted by the Bears, I'll be excited," Williams said. "If they trade the pick, and I get drafted by someone else, I'm just as excited. Speaking about Chicago, they have a talented team, a talented offense and defense. For anyone to be in that situation, I think they'd be excited." Williams is set to meet with the Bears, Washington Commanders, New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapaport. He will take part in meetings, but he has opted out of participating in on-field work this week. The Bears must decide if they want to continue rolling with Justin Fields at quarterback, or potentially trade him and make the former USC star the future of the franchise ahead of the 2024 season.
Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead said the organization has had discussions with offensive lineman Kevin Dotson about a potential contract extension, but he anticipates him to hit the free-agent market. After three seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dotson, along with a 2024 fifth- and 2025 sixth-round pick, was traded to the Rams for a 2024 fourth- and 2025 fifth-round pick. He was graded as one of the best guards in the NFL last season, according to PFF, so he should have no shortage of interested suitors. Snead said the Rams will remain in contact with him with hopes of bringing him back to block for running back Kyren Williams and quarterback Matthew Stafford in 2024.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee (knee) suffered a torn ACL in the team's Wild Card loss to the Detroit Lions on January 14, and he has undergone surgery to repair it. However, Rams general manager Les Snead said the veteran's timeline to return is "still unclear." The 31-year-old caught 47 passes for 495 yards and two touchdowns in his eighth NFL season (2023), marking his quietest statistical year since 2018. Given his major injury late in the year, he's likely to begin the 2024 campaign on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list, which would mean he'd have to miss at least the first four games of the season. Regardless of his health, he has limited fantasy upside while sharing a field with Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp for the foreseeable future. His peak fantasy value has likely come and gone.
Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith agreed to a restructured contract with the organization on Wednesday that will create $2.4 million in cap space in 2024. ESPN's Field Yates reports that Smith's compensation this year will be now $10 million. His new deal allows him the chance to earn an additional $4 million in incentives, so he could make more than the $12.3 million he was scheduled to earn in his ninth NFL season before restructuring. The 31-year-old is one of the more underrated edge rushers in the NFL, totaling at least eight sacks in three of his last four seasons.
The New England Patriots have met with North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, LSU QB Jayden Daniels, Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy and Oregon QB Bo Nix at the NFL scouting combine this week in Indianapolis, according to sources. They are also scheduled to meet with USC's Caleb Williams on Wednesday night. With the No. 3 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, the Patriots have a great chance to land a franchise signal-caller as they look to improve over the disappointing Mac Jones. Not only will the Patriots be led by someone other than Bill Belichick for the first time in the last 24 years in 2024, but New England is also going to have a new face under center for the start of the new season this fall, whether it be a rookie or a veteran.
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard said that impending free-agent wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. will be on the roster come Week 1 of the 2024 season this fall, either by an extension or the franchise tag, if necessary. The Colts aren't planning to let Pittman get away in free agency this offseason. The 26-year-old would make $21.8 million this year if he plays under the franchise tag, but both sides would prefer an extension. The former second-round pick in 2020 out of USC has blossomed into a WR1 in fantasy after four seasons in the league, two of which (including 2023) resulted in 1,000-yard seasons. Pittman had career-highs in catches (109), targets (156) and receiving yards (1,152) while scoring four times in 16 games last year. He could get even better with young quarterback Anthony Richardson returning from injury in 2024.
When asked about speculation as to whether the Miami Dolphins would consider trading wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, general manager Chris Grier laughed and said: "No thoughts of trading Jaylen Waddle. He'll be around here for a long time." The Dolphins have one of the best receiving duos in the league in Waddle and All-Pro Tyreek Hill, so it doesn't make any sense to split them up. Waddle took a slight step backward in his third season as a pro in 2023, but he still managed his third straight 1,000-yard season to begin his career on 1,014 yards, 72 catches and four touchdowns in 14 regular-season starts. The four missed games due to injuries were responsible for his career-lows across the board. With better health in 2024, the 25-year-old wideout should be a lock for another 1,000-yard season.
Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said he "absolutely" hopes to get a long-term contract extension done with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa this offseason. Tagovailoa is currently set to play the 2024 season under his fifth-year option unless the two sides can agree on an extension this offseason. The 25-year-old led the NFL in passing yards with 4,624, although his lack of rushing prowess has held him back from being among the elite QBs in both real life and fantasy. But Miami's offense was among the most explosive in the league last year, and Tagovailoa should continue to have a stable floor as at least a low-end QB1 as long as receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are around. It would be a surprise if the Dolphins and Tua didn't agree on an extension this offseason.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith said earlier this month that he's not worried about a long-term contract extension this offseason. "It's all in God's hands," Smith said. "At the end of the day, extension or not, I'm going to have to come in and do what I have to do." The 25-year-old pass-catcher is now eligible for an extension after completing three seasons in the NFL. At the very least, the Eagles will pick up Smith's fifth-year option, which will take him through the 2025 season. The former 10th overall pick in 2021 out of Alabama has topped 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last two years and has gone for 3,178 yards and 19 touchdowns in his three years in the league. Smith has been durable, too, and his fantasy arrow continues to point up heading into 2024.
The New York Jets have given quarterback Zach Wilson's agent permission to seek a trade, according to general manager Joe Douglas. The Jets are fully expected to trade Wilson this offseason after he struggled yet again in 2023 while being forced into starting duties when Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles early in the first quarter in Week 1. The 24-year-old Wilson was benched eventually and ended the year on Injured Reserve due to a concussion. The former second overall pick has been a massive bust in the NFL and is unlikely to be competing for a starting job with whichever team he lands with via trade. Rodgers will return in 2024 as New York's starting signal-caller, but the Jets are searching for a veteran backup that will be an improvement over Wilson.
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