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February 20, 2024 50 mins

On today's episode of The NFL Report: Steve Wyche and James Palmer discuss potential trade destinations for Bears QB Justin Fields. Saints head Coach Dennis Allen joins the guys to talk about new offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak, scheming for Derek Carr and managing an aging roster. NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero stops by to chat about free agency, including potential scenarios for Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield. NFL analyst Bucky Brooks joins Steve from the HBCU combine to discuss standouts from the 2024 draft class, including a stacked wide receiver group.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:05):
I'm Terry Fao, general manager of the Atlanta Falcons, and
this is the NFL Report.

Speaker 2 (00:11):
Welcome into the NFL Report, James Palmer, Steve Whitch with you.
Terry's working his tail off right now, getting ready for
the combine and the draft.

Speaker 3 (00:19):
And Steve, what is Wait a minute, you look like
you're in a press box right now?

Speaker 4 (00:23):
Where Steve?

Speaker 3 (00:25):

Speaker 1 (00:25):
Yeah, I'm in a press box of at Yeoman Stadium
on the campus of Tulayne University watching practices for the
HBCU Legacy Bowl, which will air Saturday, four pm Eastern
on NFL Network. Met Bucky Brooks, Sherry Burris, and Charles
Davis on the call, top one hundred draft LGI players
from HBCUs. It's always a great week, JP, But I

got good WiFi in here too. These pictures have been
real clear.

Speaker 3 (00:51):
Yeah, you look great. You look great. You know who's
also in that press box you mentioned him? Bucky Brooks.

Speaker 2 (00:56):
He's gonna join us talking about some deepest part of
the draft, maybe some specific positions that some teams might
be intrigued by. We're also going to have Saints head
coach Dennis Allen join the show.

Speaker 3 (01:07):
Let's go.

Speaker 2 (01:07):
Also NFL Network insider Tom Pelisara joins his talk franchise
tags and a couple of quarterbacks and Kirk Cousins and
Baker Mayfield. But let's start off with Justin Fields, Steve.
And we're not saying that solely. You know, we didn't
connect Terry Fontnou to introduce this show to Justin Fields,
because we do know that's a potential landing spot that
some teams are trying to connect. Let's talk about the

best fit for Justin Fields. And I say this Steve
specifically because to my understanding, the Bears are kind of
finalizing in this week. They're kind of their their mindset
on what they want to do at the quarterback position,
and then when they get to Indianapolis, probably a lot
of discussions will be had about what teams would be
interested in Justin Fields that started amobile, and we'll continue

in possible landing spots that he could wind up in.
So with that said, and on the you know, a
couple of days before the combine, what's the best fit
for Justin Field, Steve?

Speaker 1 (02:02):
It's first off, Jap isn't interesting how the conversation is
really no longer the Bears retaining Justin Fields.

Speaker 4 (02:09):
I mean that seems like the ship is sales.

Speaker 1 (02:11):
We don't know, We really don't know, but it seems
that the conversation has swung so much to them using
that number one pick on Caleb Williams' quarterback that Justin
Fields has gone. So to answer your question, it's not Atlanta,
it's not Pittsburgh.

Speaker 4 (02:28):
It is the Las Vegas Raiders for his.

Speaker 5 (02:31):
Former law.

Speaker 4 (02:34):
Gets he takes over. But here's why I think he's
a great fit.

Speaker 1 (02:38):
I look at what their offense is, right, you know,
he comes into their quarterback. They've got I think they're
gonna bring back Josh Jacobs so they can have a
dual threat run game. They've got a pretty good offensive
line there. They've got DeVante Adams, They've got some players.
They've got a tight end, right, They've got Meyer, They've
got some players he can get the ball to.

Speaker 4 (02:58):
They're a physical club. Plus all of.

Speaker 1 (03:01):
Those great offensive head coaches in that division, Jim harbaughch
On Peyton, Andy Reid, they haven't had to defend a
quarterback like Justin Fields. I think he could go there,
and in a division where Antonio Pierce the only defensive
coach facing some of the greatest coaches that we have
seen in modern football having somebody like him to confuse

them to hold the ball and have explosive play potential.
To me, I think he's a raider all day. Fits
the culture. I could see him smoking a cigar with
Max Crosby and AP. I think that's the perfect fit.

Speaker 2 (03:38):
Well, that's a various It also like rich Gangarillo joining
that staff, who maybe an underrated developer of quarterbacks in
this league, is very, very talented in terms of working
with quarterbacks.

Speaker 3 (03:49):
I just look at.

Speaker 2 (03:50):
Pittsburgh and I look at Atlanta, and I look at
the skill position players that would be around, justin fields.
In terms of guys like you know, George Pickens goes
up and gets ball, Steve right he goes up and
gets balls that are fifty to fifty type of balls.
I also think that those guys exist in Atlanta as well.
What I'm curious about this process and I wanted to
add this more than just a typical landing spot. This

was a crazy stat sent to us by our research department.
The Bears had a ten or more point lead in
the fourth quarter in eight games this season. They lost
three of those. Nobody else really lost more than one
game that had that type of lead. I want to
know what the league considers if this is on Justin Fields,
the quarterback, or if this is on the situation in Chicago.

He had the worst passer rating in football in the
fourth quarter amongst qualified passers. So I want to know
how this evaluation evolves. Because the guy hasn't been dealt
the greatest of hands in Chicago. He is actually extremely
well liked by the front office and the people within
that locker room. I want to know if they want
to do him a solid Steve, do they want to
send him to a decent location.

Speaker 3 (04:53):
That's what I'm curious about.

Speaker 1 (04:55):
And I do think that's a great point, because when
you trade away somebody who is a good player or
who has those types of feelings, you want to trade
him to a situation where he could possibly succeed. But
I want to go back to what he said, is
this conversation about the Steelers continues to intrigue me because
Arthur Smith, he was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons,

wanted no parts of Justin Fields.

Speaker 4 (05:18):
He had the possibility to draft him, they.

Speaker 1 (05:21):
Took Kyle Pitts. We asked Terry Fondo. This last week
they took Kyle Pitts, a tight end. They bypassed Justin Fields.
Why all of a sudden with the head coach who
designs the offense take a liking to Justin Field. That's
why this conversation when I hear the Steelers and Arthur Smith,
Ougho'd be a perfect fit. Why Arthur Smith didn't want

him once? Why would he want him right now? It's
just that that linking, I may be completely off base.
I don't see I don't see that link. Real quick, JP,
since we're talking about Chicago Bears with the number one pick,
possibly you're likely using it on quarterback Caleb Williams.

Speaker 4 (05:59):
A number two sets to Washington Commanders.

Speaker 1 (06:03):
I think they are going to be more draft day ballers.

Speaker 4 (06:08):
Than the Bears.

Speaker 1 (06:09):
I think they've got the potential to move from two
to four, still, get the quarterback that they want, pink
up some extra picks, They've got cap space to add
people in free agency.

Speaker 4 (06:19):
To me, that is the team to watch with the draft.

Speaker 1 (06:21):
That's where the draft really starts, because I think they've
got some pieces and they've got.

Speaker 4 (06:25):
Some time there.

Speaker 1 (06:26):
They've got a grace period to put things in place.
Where that's going to be the big mover all around
the early part of the draft.

Speaker 2 (06:34):
Listen, Steve, if they're the ones grabbing all the attention,
I'm nervous for Ryan Poles. I'm nervous if he gets
overshadowed with what he has set up leading into this draft.
I do think the Fields trade actually happened sooner rather
than later. They'd like that to happen. There's more teams
that need a quarterback now than when it gets closer
to the draft. I think that's plays with this as well.
And I think you're right. I think number two is

where the draft starts. Because everybody's assuming it's Kayleb Williams
at number one that's locked in. It's gonna take a
historic Hall, as Ian Rappaport reports. So number two seems
to be the start of the draft, but at number
nine is also the Bears.

Speaker 3 (07:09):
So I'm fascinated by this.

Speaker 2 (07:10):
Thought process that you have to where it could be
the Washington Commanders hurting all the heads as opposed to
the Chicago Bears.

Speaker 3 (07:17):
I'm fascinated to see what happens. But that's why you
went and got Adam Peters, right, Steve.

Speaker 1 (07:22):
Yeah, absolutely, and was he Adam Peters. He's wheeling and
dealing before before the draft when it comes to those
types of picks when he was with the forty nine ers.
We'll see if he does it again, you know what, Jap.
When we come back after the break, we've got Saints
coach Dennis Allen. They are revamping their with a new coordinator,
a new scheme. We're gonna talk to him about that

and how that affects Derek Carr when we're back on
the NFL Report, roll.

Speaker 4 (07:50):
That state bell.

Speaker 1 (07:51):
See it's time for the lead block, presented by T
Mobile for Business. A sport as fast as football deserves
America's fastest five G network, businesses go further with T
Mobile for Business. All Right, welcome back to the NFL

Report and JP, I am so looking forward to this
because we are now joined by New Orleans Saints head
coach Dennis Allen.

Speaker 4 (08:20):
I've known DA way back. Gosh, it's been about fifteen years.

Speaker 1 (08:23):
We go back DA back to Atlanta, and first off,
thanks for joining us, but we want to have you
on because this has been such an eventful off season
in terms of changing of your coaching staff. On the
offensive side, you hire Clint Kubiak as your offensive coordinator.
Just kind of what went into that and what are
you expecting now for your offense?

Speaker 4 (08:44):
Is it going to be a radical.

Speaker 1 (08:46):
Change or do something you think fits philosophically what you
want to do with this team.

Speaker 6 (08:52):
Yeah, well, look, obviously, we went through an extensive search
in terms of interview and a lot of people for
this position. I think we I think we interviewed eleven
or twelve offensive coordinator candidates, a lot of really qualified guys.
I felt like, you know, we really needed to do

a deep dive into a lot of different schemes and
a lot of different personalities.

Speaker 7 (09:21):
I wanted to really look at.

Speaker 6 (09:22):
You know, what was going to be the best fit
for the New Orleans Saints, for our players that we
have here, and the things that we need to try
to get accomplished.

Speaker 7 (09:30):
And I felt like Clint Kubiak was.

Speaker 6 (09:35):
Obviously the the person of choice. And I've known Clint
for a long time. I feel like I've known the
family for you know, probably over twenty thirty years. I
remember watching Clint's dad, Gary play quarterback back at Texas
A and m you know, growing up. So I feel

like I fe I've known this family. I feel like
I've known this scheme for a long time and and
and I feel like this is the best scheme that
gives your players the best chance to have success that's
going in the National Football League right now. And and UH,

I think Clint is highly intelligent. UH, he's extremely hard worker.
I think we've put together an outstanding UH staff with
a little bit of a mixture of some older veteran
coaches that have been there, done that, UH, with some

younger progressive mindset type of guys. And and I think
it's gonna be a great mixture for our for our organization.

Speaker 2 (10:49):
Yeah, before we move forward to what we want to
talk about philosophically and scheme wise, And you touched on
it there a little bit.

Speaker 3 (10:54):
I know I've been told back in the day.

Speaker 2 (10:56):
You know the way Gary when he ran it at
its highest level, it's almost Doenguardle sometimes if it's done
the right way, the way this offense can be run.
But specifically Clint coming from San Francisco and the way
you've seen coaches depart out of San Francisco and have success.
What is it that you learned maybe in that interview
process with Clint about what that building is doing right

to have guys prepared to make a jump like you're
having Clint do.

Speaker 5 (11:21):

Speaker 6 (11:21):
Well, I just think it's really about, you know, having
having a system that you believe in UH, and then
being able to clearly identify the players that fit that system,
and then being able to acquire the talent that fits.

Speaker 7 (11:37):
That And and I think.

Speaker 6 (11:40):
I think they've done as good a job as any
in San Francisco being able to do that. I think
they have a belief system of things that they really
firmly believe in, and they don't vary from that. Obviously,
the scheme has has evolved as it's going gone along.
You know, this goes back to you know, Mike Shanahan
coaching back at Denver h through you know kub going

to Houston UH and then and then carrying that scheme along,
you know, when he went back to UH Baltimore and
then he went to Minnesota, and you just see this
scheme having a lot of success.

Speaker 7 (12:17):
There's probably a little bit more window.

Speaker 6 (12:20):
Dressing within the scheme now than maybe what there was
you know, ten or fifteen years ago. But I just
think it's it's a system that's quarterback friendly UH and
and I think it relies on being able to run
the football and uh and get your play action passing
game going.

Speaker 1 (12:37):
Yeah, I love I love hearing you talk about this
because you're a defensive guy, right, You've had the scheme
begainst this, so you know how what the challenge it
is schematically. You just said it, this is a quarterback
friendly system. How do you think this is going to
benefit Derek Carr?

Speaker 6 (12:54):
Well, look, I think Derek's going to do exceptionally well.
You know, I thought there was a point in time
this past season where you know, we started incorporating a
little bit more of the play action passing game and
I really felt like that's where our offense started to
take off. I thought that's where Derek really kind of
started to take off. And you know, it's interesting because

you know, I've had communication with Derek throughout this process, uh,
you know, and talk to him about some of the
different candidates that you know, we were bringing in. And
his brother, David had played for Gary and and UH
in Houston, and that was David's last year in Houston.
I was kind of a little bit concerned that, you know,

maybe that wouldn't go over that great and and uh,
and David had some really good things to say, you know,
about the offensive scheme, uh, and about how he uh,
you know, really appreciated the scheme and the things that
they were doing, and and and really enjoyed playing for
for Gary and felt like, look, if, if, if there's

some similarities, which I think there's a ton between Gary
and Clint, that uh, it was going to be a
great fit. And so I'm really kind of excited about that.

Speaker 3 (14:04):
It's interesting you bring up Houston.

Speaker 2 (14:05):
I was a beat guy there when Gary was the
head coach, and I remember those drafts da of him
kind of finding the guys that fit this game we're
talking about throughout the draft. So I'm kind of curious
now that you make this switch on offense, what have
the meetings been like, and does your draft philosophy maybe
change a little bit in the style of player maybe
you're looking at on the offensive line or some other
spots with the way that Clint wants to run this.

Speaker 7 (14:28):
Yeah, no, I think that's a great question.

Speaker 6 (14:30):
You know, you know, a few years back defensively here,
I remember back in twenty fifteen, kind of twenty sixteen,
we weren't sure exactly what we wanted to be defensively
three four four to three, Seattle three defense, New England
single high man. We kind of went through a little process,

and it was really kind of in sixteen where I
kind of took over, and I think we clearly identified
exactly what we wanted to do defensively and exactly what
we were looking for in each position, and so therefore
we were able to go out and find those guys
twenty seventeen draft and on, and I think we became

a lot better defense because of that, because we clearly
identified what we were looking for. And I think that's
the process that we're going through right now. We're in
the process of having our February draft meetings with the scouts,
with Jeff Ireland, Mickey Loomis, myself, we're in there talking
through these guys, and we had a chance to get

the offensive coaching staff in here over the weekend and
really sit down with the you know, with the scouts
and with the people in the draft room and kind
of go through, Look, this is what we're looking for
at the quarterback position. This is what we're looking for
in an offensive tackle, this is what we're looking for
at the receiver position. So I think that's been I

think that's been great for our group, and I think
we'll have to continue to have those discussions as we
go throughout you know, this draft process and really not
just the draft process, but free agency also.

Speaker 3 (16:09):
M hm.

Speaker 4 (16:10):
I mean, I know that's invigorating.

Speaker 1 (16:11):
I mean it's got to be like so cool now
to have these types of discussions with the new staff
and kind of hear new ideas and and to really
do this. So let's let's kind of flip it to
the other side of the ball, DA, you know, that's
where you've just had one of the best defenses in
the NFL for just the longest time. And I want
to look at Cam Jordan because last year see him
like just such an aberration. You know, you only had

the two sacks he wasn't putting up, you know, the
typical Hall of Fame type of numbers we've seen him
put up.

Speaker 4 (16:36):
Do you consider that just kind of.

Speaker 1 (16:38):
A blip on the radar, you know, And what does
he maybe need to do to get back to the
Cam that we have seen for more than a decade.

Speaker 6 (16:46):
Yeah, Well, look, I think I think the thing that
I would say about Cam, you know, probably where the
dip occurred a little bit. Is just his ability to
finish on the quarterback. I think he was still effective
and kind of being able to get around the quarterback,
he just didn't finish as well on the quarterback. And so, uh,
I think that's one of the things that we've got

to continue to look at and work at. I think
he's still one of the better run players in our
league at the defensive end position.

Speaker 7 (17:14):
But look, let's be honest.

Speaker 6 (17:16):
I mean, as we as we all get older, we
we we start to slow down a little bit. I
don't think he's at that point where I think he's
still got some good football left. And I think it's
up to us to try to find the positions and
the places to put him in, uh, to allow him
to still be successful, you know.

Speaker 7 (17:33):
And so.

Speaker 6 (17:35):
Look, the other thing is he injured his ankle at
some point in the season. I think it might have
been the Minnesota week. And look, he's such a tough
competitor that he just battled through and fought through it.
But I think it was probably, you know, six weeks
before he started feeling more like himself.

Speaker 2 (17:54):
Yeah, you mentioned you mentioned Cam's age, and I'm not
pushing him out the door by any stretch.

Speaker 3 (17:58):
He's one of my favorite players to watch.

Speaker 2 (17:59):
But as a head coach, now that you're in this
position and you're going through this, when a roster starts
to get a little bit older, how do you figure
out gauging you know, a guy still, as you mentioned, Cam,
still has this much left in your mind, gauging between
we have to try to maybe flip this and get
younger in some aspects, but we still want to value
what this guy brings. Because you have a lot of

those type of players that still bring a lot to
the table.

Speaker 3 (18:24):
How do you gauge that?

Speaker 6 (18:26):
Yeah, Look, I think it's a delicate balance, you know,
because not only do these players I'm talking about guys
like Cam Jordan, I'm talking about guys like Tyron Matthew,
I'm talking about guys like to Mario Davis. We're speaking
specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Look, they
can still play, and they can still play at a

winnable level, and it's all those other intangibles that they
can bring to your football team that don't necessarily always
show up on the stat sheet, but they they they
show up in terms of the culture and and uh
and the way you go about doing things. And so look,
it's a delicate balance and it's hard because you know,

these guys have been such great players for such a
long time. Uh that's that's the challenging part of this business.
But uh, as long as they can play and play
at a level that allows us to be able to win, uh,
then then uh, I think they're valuable pieces to our team.

Speaker 1 (19:28):
Da Hey, one last question before we let you go here,
and and this is important. I'm in New Orleans for
the the HBCU Legacy Bowl. The HBCU Combine was running
your facility, and the Saints have such a rich history
with players, coaches and supporting black college athletics. Even last
year you guys adding Mark Evans, the offensive lineman at

Arkansas Pine Bluff. Just what about your organizational commitment to
continue to find talent on and off the field to
make you guys better year in and year out.

Speaker 6 (20:01):
Yeah, well, look, I mean I think I think it's
really just a commitment to trying to find the best
people and the best players that we can find, regardless
of where they come from.

Speaker 1 (20:11):

Speaker 6 (20:11):
And I think this uh, you know, this Legacy Bowl,
and we had the combine over here at the facility
yesterday where I think there was probably about you know,
fifty kids that got an opportunity to get in front
of the NFL scouts, uh and and go through some
you know, positional uh drills or skilled drills to get

get there, get their name, and get their face in
front of uh some NFL evaluators and give them an
opportunity to maybe have a chance to uh, you know,
either be drafted signed as a free agent. You know,
we look football players coming and and all shape sizes
and areas and backgrounds and all those kinds of things,

and and uh, you know, we're willing to look anywhere
we can to find somebody that fits our culture, that
fits our program, uh, that can help us, you know,
be a successful organization wins the football games.

Speaker 1 (21:11):
Hey da, man, we appreciate the support. We appreciate you
taking the time with this.

Speaker 3 (21:16):

Speaker 4 (21:16):
You're the best.

Speaker 1 (21:16):
Thank you, you know, and you're taking out time when
the middle draft prep and putting the staff together means
the world.

Speaker 4 (21:22):
So can't thank you enough. Joining James and I here
at the NFL report.

Speaker 6 (21:26):
Yeah, absolutely, guys. I always got I always got fifteen
minutes for you.

Speaker 1 (21:30):
Guys there we go, We're gonna follow you back.

Speaker 3 (21:33):
We're going to hold you to that day. Yeah, we
are all right.

Speaker 1 (21:37):
NFL Report our top Pella zero is going to talk
about some key NFL free agents. That guy Kirk Cousins
he be available. That's next on the NFL Report. All
the tape, l Fie.

Speaker 3 (21:52):
That's a wrap for the.

Speaker 1 (21:53):
Lead block presented by Team Mobile for Business. A sport
as fast as football deserves America's fastest five G network,
businesses go further with t Mobile for Business.

Speaker 2 (22:11):
Welcome back to the NFL Report. James Palmer, Steve Whitch
with you now. NFL insider Tom Pellisero joins us and
tom My first question to you is this, we broke
bread multiple times in Vegas during the week long stay
we had in there, which is far longer than the
forty eight hours everybody recommends. Your favorite meal in Las
Vegas that you had with me was what.

Speaker 8 (22:35):
Let's see.

Speaker 9 (22:36):
I believe I bailed on one of them about halfway
through because I had an engagement that I needed to
get to. I believe that one lotuses I am had
the potential to be really good. Everybody raided about it after,
but the potent in the Cosmo. It was a fantastic
meal that we had together.

Speaker 3 (22:54):
Oh, that was fantastic. That one was really really good,
really really good.

Speaker 2 (22:58):
And all right, speaking of fantastic, let's get to the
wide receiver position. Potential franchise tag candidates.

Speaker 3 (23:05):
There's two. I'm looking at the first one. T Higgins.

Speaker 2 (23:10):
To me, this is a fascinating situation with Cincinnati and
he if you give him a contract, then you're just
resetting a floor for Jamar Chase, which you have to
do down the road. Do you want to pay two
wide receivers? Do you move on now or do you
try to maybe just run it back on the tag
and try to get a Lombardi in twenty twenty four?
Where do things stand in your opinion with T Higgins
and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Speaker 9 (23:32):
You're right, James, because somebody, if T. Higgins were to
get to the open market, would pay him like a
number one wide receiver on his own team. It's pretty
clear Jamar Chase is that number one guy when he's
out there and fully healthy. The Bengals are not strangers
to using the franchise tag. They have done it in
the past with a wide receiver not that long ago.
In aj Green and had him play his final season

there on the tag, So certainly a possibility that they
could keep t Higgins on the franchise tag for a year.
Nobody's preference, generally speaking, is to end up with somebody
on the tag, but they've got enough flexibility right now
in terms of their salary cap that that would be
an option if they're not able to consummate a deal
prior to the negotiating window opening up on March eleven.

Speaker 3 (24:16):

Speaker 1 (24:17):
I'm gonna let you follow up since you said you
had a second wide receiver you want.

Speaker 2 (24:21):
Yeah, I kind of blocked out because I was thinking
of STK real quick. How about Mike Evans down there
in Tampa Bay, Because I know there's plenty of teams
around the league that are going this is still an
unbelievably productive receiver and if he finds his way out,
this is somebody just like the Higgans, and teams are
going to jump at.

Speaker 9 (24:43):
Well, it's a big number for Mike Evans if you
were to franchise tag him based off last year's salary
cap number. Also, you have to think what a player
has had the type of career that Mike Evans has
had at the Buccaneers one thousand yards every single season
being a franchise legend. Do you go that harout if
you're not able to work out a deal, or do
you say thanks for the memories, thanks for a Super

Bowl win, We're gonna let you move on with your
career right now. Those are organizational decisions that the Bucks
are going to have to make. I know that certain
people were making a lot of fact they didn't get
a contract done a couple of days ago before a
void date. Voids are not magic, They're not hey, he
immediately becomes a free agent. They just mean it's a
matter of accounting differently for future cap numbers onto the cap.

Nothing precluding them from being able to move forward here
with a deal on Mike Evans. But let's also be
very clear, Mike Evans has earned it. He's one of
the most consistent players that the NFL has seen over
the past decade. Here he's got one more big bite
at the apple. I would not think that he would
want to be on the franchise tag. I would think,
and again a lot of different ways that this could go.

Teams have the right he used the tag, But I
would think if they can't get a deal done with
Mike Evans. He quite possibly we're in a new uniform
in twenty twenty four.

Speaker 1 (25:57):
I would agree Tom because look, he'll always be viewed year. Yeah,
even if he has to play another team, he always
be viewed as a buccaneer. His his legacy is solidified.

Speaker 4 (26:05):
There. Let's come off the tag.

Speaker 1 (26:07):
You know, maybe later we can talk about, you know,
Tony Pollard to say, Kwon Barkley and this and that,
but let's.

Speaker 4 (26:12):
Get some guys with some inspiring contracts.

Speaker 1 (26:14):
Kirk Cousins is the more, if the more, one of
the most I should say, intriguing guys out there. Because
Minnesota we know they probably would like to keep him.
But he's coming off that achilles, there's the age. What's
his situation.

Speaker 9 (26:31):
Well, I would anticipate Steve that kirk Cousins is going
to have a strong market, even going on to his
age thirty six season and coming off.

Speaker 8 (26:37):
Of that torn achilles.

Speaker 9 (26:38):
The Vikings want to keep kirk Cousins, but to this point,
there's really been no substantive communication. That's normal for the Vikings.
They do a lot of their contract talks with their
own free agents. At the combine that begins next week
in Indianapolis. At that point, I would think that everybody
involved have a pretty good idea of what that market
for Kirk Cousins is going to be. At the same time,

Vikings are exploring all options in the event that the
price tag just becomes too high on Cousins if he
goes elsewhere. Wouldn't think that they'd be in the Baker
Mayfield mix. There's not a lot of other starting caliber,
clear starters available in free agency. I think it may
be more of an economical type of veteran Let's say
a Sam Darnold coming in, which would buy them some

time to bridge the gap to bringing a young quarterback
as well. Maybe even somebody that they could draft or
sitting there at number eleven could go up to go down.
That would be a possibility. Minnesota in general, guys in
a really unique situation right here, because there's not a
lot of times you've got three players on your roster
who all could be thirty million plus per year players

with Kirk Cousins who can't be tagged, the Neil Hunter,
who is also a penny free agent, can't be tagged,
and then justin Jefferson who has a pretty big vested
interest in what happens with Kirk Cousins in that quarterback situation.
So a lot of moving parts for Quasia doofo Mensa
and Kevin O'Connell to soar through here. Again, the Vikings
usually do a lot of what they take care of

is at the combine, coming off of that and leading
up to March eleventh March thirteenth, that's where you'll get
a better idea of exactly what direction these are gonna go.

Speaker 2 (28:10):
Can I just say with all the time he missed
justin Jefferson season still was absolutely remarkable and what he
was able to do with even the games that he missed,
he was He's incredible. You mentioned Baker there real quick, Tom,
you look down there in Tampa. We mentioned Mike Evans,
We talked about him, and then you could look at
the franchise tag and maybe that's going to Antoine Winfield
Junior their safety. Maybe that's where that tag goes. What's

what's the status with where things stand with Baker maybe
re signing in Tampa because he becomes available. There's not
a lot of veterans, as you mentioned, signal callers that
teams are maybe desiring and he might be one a
on a decent price.

Speaker 8 (28:47):
Well, here's what we know, James.

Speaker 9 (28:48):
The price is gonna be higher for Baker Mayfield than
it was a year ago when he went there on
a one year deal worth five million dollars plus incentives.
The question is going to be how high does that
price go and does another team it's serious, involved and
make a push for Baker Mayfield. Now we know the
Bucks have expressed an interest they want Baker Mayfield back.
Mayfield said during Super Bowl interviews that getting that offensive

coordinator in place, the fact that the guy he knows
in Liam Cohen, that was one of the big pieces
that had to be in place before he evaluates his situation. Now,
I've talked to a lot of people within the league,
other general managers who are trying to project this thing out.
They all believe Baker Mayfield ends up going back to Tampa.
If for no other reason then he's been on so
many teams from Cleveland, Carolina to LA to Tampa over

the past couple of years that up ending once again
and going to another new team probably isn't what he
really wants to do. I mean said that Dave Canalis
isn't there anymore? The guy had success with in Tampa
last year, he's now the Panthers head coach.

Speaker 8 (29:46):
How much does that impact things?

Speaker 9 (29:47):
And also remember this, okay, Liam Cohen worked with Baker
during that time that he's spent with LA a couple
of years ago. So did Zach Robinson, who's now the
Falcons offensive coordinator.

Speaker 8 (29:56):
They have an acute quarterback feat.

Speaker 9 (29:58):
I'm not saying that the Falcons are going to make
a run at this, but in the same division, if
they got involved, that's the type of thing that can
really make that price go up.

Speaker 1 (30:07):
And Raheem Morris was the DC for the Rams when
Baker came in and played well at the end of
the season a couple of years ago too, so there's
that tie as well. Let's get back to the running
backs and potential franchise tag with Tony Pollard and Saquon
bark That would seem almost a steep for what both
teams got from those running backs last year. Even on
the tag, that would seem like a steep number for

both of those players.

Speaker 4 (30:30):
Am I am? I kind of off base?

Speaker 1 (30:32):
You're thinking that an eleven million dollars twelve thirteen million
dollar tag for both those guys is serviceable enough.

Speaker 9 (30:38):
Again, the steepest tag actual would be for Josh Jacobs
in Las Vegas. That one could go to fourteen million
plus based upon the foundation upgrade contract a couple extra million.
Saquon and Tony Pollard played it essentially the base tag.

Speaker 8 (30:53):
Barkley did a new deal.

Speaker 9 (30:54):
They added like nine hundred and nine thousand dollars in incentives,
but they were all tied to team performance. When you're
the Giants and you lose your quarterback and you play
with Tommy DeVito and.

Speaker 8 (31:02):
You win like six games, you're not hitting any of
those incentives.

Speaker 9 (31:05):
So for Saquon, he's said many times he wants to
be a Giant for life. The Giants organization has a
great affinity for Saquon Barkley. John Marris certainly is in
that bucket as well. It would make a lot of
sense for them to try to get a deal done.
But remember last year, New York made multiple runs at this.
They did it before the startup Fur agency, before the
tag window. Last year, Saquon turned down a fairly substantial contract,

albeit within the context of running back contracts, so they
had to pivot tag Saquon and resign Daniel Jones to
an extension.

Speaker 8 (31:34):

Speaker 9 (31:34):
They made another push to resign Saquon d'uring the bye
week last year, again didn't end up doing it. So
all of that leads you to a situation now and
again before July as well. So several times they've tried
to make a run of getting something done with Saquon.
It hasn't worked out to this point. You would think though,
again they would like to get something done. The question
is going to be the number. And then when it

comes to Tony Pollard, obviously his numbers weren't great in
his first year as the back three point nine yards
per carry. I talked to Emmett Smith in an interview
during Super Bowl Week. I asked him, what would you
do with Tony Pollard? Emmittt said, I think you have
to resign him. His argument was, it is different being
the number one back versus the number two back. Cowboys also,

based on how they played offense, didn't necessarily always commit
to being a running football team, in Emmett's point of view,
and I respect that more than anything I'm going to
say on this show.

Speaker 8 (32:25):
Let's be honest here.

Speaker 9 (32:26):
He felt like there's more that they could unlock with
Tony Pollard moving forward, but tagging him again at twelve
million dollars plus to your point, Steve, that does seem right.

Speaker 1 (32:35):
Yeah, that's a deep number, Tom p good stuff. Have
fun during franchise tax season, combine season. You two go
get a meal. I'm not saying it to what. We'll
break bread there too.

Speaker 4 (32:47):
Yeah, yeah, you have me. Tom's gonna dip.

Speaker 1 (32:52):
Out again too halfway because he got a more important
engagement again, JP, do take that.

Speaker 3 (32:55):
That's probably what happened.

Speaker 1 (32:57):
Can we come back on the NFL report. Caleb William's
the number one quarterback. We're about to talk about him
and others might not be, or maybe they are.

Speaker 4 (33:09):
We're back on the NFL Report.

Speaker 1 (33:19):
The top draft eligible players from historically black colleges and
universities put on the pads one last time to show
they're worthy of getting drafted.

Speaker 4 (33:27):
The third annual.

Speaker 1 (33:28):
All State HBCU Legacy Bowl Saturday at four pm Eastern,
exclusively on NFL Network and streaming on NFL Plus. Speaking
of the HBCU Legacy Bowl, Bucky Brooks, who now joins US,
will be on the call with me and Bucky and
I right now are at Tulane Stadium, about a third

fourteen away from one another in the press box here
Stadium at T Lane JB.

Speaker 3 (33:56):
Bucky, B.

Speaker 4 (33:57):
Appreciate you joining us. We're gonna get to some of.

Speaker 1 (33:59):
The these HBCU players who are participating in practice this week.
In just a minute, there's the horn, kind of signaling
practice is over.

Speaker 4 (34:07):
Well, Bucky, let's get to the overall draft class coming in.

Speaker 1 (34:11):
Since we're in that window the NFL Draft combine starts soon,
we can just tell us overall about this draft class.

Speaker 10 (34:19):
You know, Steve is a really solid draft class up
at the top of the board. Now, this would be
the first year where we see some of the I
would say, the negative effects of nil, some of the
COVID stuff where the draft is not as deep when
we get to Day three. But the first three rounds
should be loaded with players that can come in and
make contributions in those things. As it relates to positions

that are really loaded with talent, I would say the
quarterback position, you got solid prospects. You have a ton
of big time playmakers at wide receiver. Probably the deepest
position of the draft. Offensive line, particularly offensive tackle, is
loaded with playmakers and talent.

Speaker 5 (34:58):
Where you can see a bunch of first round come
off the board.

Speaker 10 (35:01):
On defense, you have a solid pass rushing class, like
you have guys that are intriguing, but it's not as
deep as past some past years. And then I would
say cornerback, you have a bunch of big cornerbacks, guys
that are over five ten, five or eleven that can
play the game, usize in a variety of techniques.

Speaker 5 (35:19):
So you're in need of kind of what we call
the core positions.

Speaker 10 (35:24):
You can find those guys passers, playmakers, pass protectors, hand
full of pass rushers, and then some defensive playmakers.

Speaker 5 (35:31):
At corner you can get those guys. You just won't
find a.

Speaker 10 (35:34):
Lot at running back, in linebacker. That's where you kind
of have to go shopping elsewhere.

Speaker 2 (35:39):
Okay, I like it, I like it. We'll start with
the most important one. It's the quarterback spot bucket. And
this is not my Ohio State blood right here throwing
shade at JJ McCarthy and what he's done to my
team in the game. What I'm curious about is what
do you see in your evaluations in talking people in
terms of size and in terms of it just seems
like he hasn't had to be the guy in big moments.

Speaker 3 (36:03):
The team's been brilliant around him.

Speaker 2 (36:05):
Is that kind of I don't want to say a
knock on him, but when you haven't seen him have
to do that as much? What happens in your evaluation
process when you don't have a whole lot of examples
of that.

Speaker 3 (36:15):
And you're going to need him to do it at
the next level.

Speaker 10 (36:18):
Yeah, No, I mean, I think that's a very valid
concern to think about JJ McCarthy. The things that will
go well for him will be winning pet agree. He's
done it on a big stage on a ton of
games at Michigan. He'll go down maybe as the greatest
quarterback to ever play there, just based on how the
team succeeded.

Speaker 5 (36:35):
He's been a guy that has just kind of managed the.

Speaker 10 (36:37):
Team, driven the bus and found a way to get
the team into the winner circle.

Speaker 5 (36:41):
But when you watch him play athletically, he's intriguing.

Speaker 10 (36:45):
He can run the ball, he's a legitimate duel threat quarterback,
super athletic, has a strong arm and delivered deadly strikes
and those things. You just don't have a lot of
visual evidence on tape to say that he could be
the guy that is the drive for us of the offense.

Speaker 3 (37:01):
That's it.

Speaker 10 (37:02):
When I look at him, it reminds me a lot
of the same evaluation that I had with Justin Herbert.
Justin Herbert when he played at Oregon was not asked
to do a lot of stuff, played in the more
of a conservative offense, but then he gets to the
National Football League and flourishes. I think JJ McCarthy is
intriguing because people see the traits and the tools, They
see the athleticism, they see the strong arm, they recognize

and appreciate the intangibles. That's why he's going to be
a gutess of interest in the first round.

Speaker 1 (37:29):
Wow, Bucky, sound like people evaluating some Dean Smith tar
heels back in the day because they had so many
good players. None of them were have to drive. But
you talked about how great this receiving classes. We know
how the very top there's Marvin Harrison Junior, who might
be the best player.

Speaker 4 (37:45):
Overall in this draft.

Speaker 1 (37:46):
What about the top end depth and what type of
players are these teams getting Because we've seen wide receivers
buck the norm over the past five or six years
and come in and have an immediate impact.

Speaker 10 (37:59):
Yeah, I think what we're seeing is the byproduct of
what we call seven on seven culture. The wide receivers
that are entering the league now are more experienced, more
polished than they've ever been. Part of the reason is
because they're catching more balls, running more routes than they
ever have. From the time there and Pop Warner to
the time they graduate college, these guys have really played
football year round, and it manifests itself in guys like

Marvin Harrison Junior. Being a very polished player that comes
out reminds me a lot of Larry Fitzgerald in terms
of just guessing when you see him. He's a plug
and play pro. You can run rouse, he can catch
it over the middlefield. He has speed to burn. But
to me, he's a legitimate number one receiver because he
not only commands double coverage, but he can defeat cover coverage.

It's easy to envision him being the anchor of a
passing game, but it extends beyond him. Rome a Doonsday
from Washington is another guy that people are buzzing about,
and one of the reasons they're buzzing about the Washington
standout is because he's big, he's physical, does a great
job of catching the ball in his hands. He wins

the fifty to fifty balls and really, when you watch him,
he reminds me a lot of Jamar Chase, physical imposing
presence even though he doesn't have I would say superior size.
He plays with a rugged game that means he's gonna win,
and he's gonna win a ton on the perimeter. And
the last guy we got to talk about is Lsu
Standout Molik Neighbors just a total package. Can catch it,

run and catch specialists and separate, does a great job
of making things happen. And even though like he shared
the marquee with another talented player, he is another guy
that is ready to roll. These three players will vie
for the number one spot. Even though we've talked about
Marvin Harrison Junior being the number one, these other guys
would get him a run for their money because I

think it comes down to ice cream shops. What kind
of flavors do you like to go in your favorite
waffle cone. These guys bring a lot to the table.
That's why so much how many people are buzzing about.

Speaker 3 (40:02):
I love the analogy buckets.

Speaker 2 (40:03):
I want to use it for what Terry Fontineau told
us on this show last week. He was on with
us and said, they're really excited about the round two,
round three picks that they have because he believes that
group right there, you have the ability to find a
lot of talent in different spots. I'm curious if maybe
you could read into what he's saying. We don't know
how the draft is going to fall by then, right,

it always can kind of fall and there's runs at
different spots. But maybe in that could you kind of
maybe with what you've looked at round two, round three,
what's he talking about of what maybe value you can
find there?

Speaker 10 (40:37):
Well, I mean, like I don't necessarily think that the
Atlanta Falcons and the wide receivers, but we have seen
in recent years wide receivers come from every round of
the draft and have an immediate impact. Everybody would talk
about Fuku Nakua, but let's just talk about the impact
that Tank Dale was having the Houston Texas when he
jumped out and made a ton of plays. There are
more of those kinds of players were supplying to me. Look,

the supply is overwhelming when it comes to the wide
receiver position, but it also would be an opportunity for
teams to look at offensive tackles and if you need
to fortify the offensive line, there are a bunch of
intriguing players that can come off the board. We always
talk about the first rounders, but look, man, there's an
offensive tackle class of Joe aut Tullis Fuaga, Amarius Men,

JC Latham, troy Na that are going to be available
at the bottom of the first round, top of the
second round, so you can get some of those these
feel and also on the interior, because as I'm thinking
about the Atlanta Facons, I think really the main thing
is them fixing quarterback and continue to upgrade.

Speaker 5 (41:42):
The offensive line.

Speaker 10 (41:44):
Ram Barton, Jackson, Powers, Johnson Hooper, BB, Chris Haynes. There
are a lot of players on the offensive side of
the ball that are available in the second and third
rounds that'll be able to come in and get you starters.
And then if we talk about, like literally I talk
about the draft nine being plentiful in terms of running
backs and linebackers, but that's where those guys are gonna

come off the board.

Speaker 5 (42:05):
We have a namesake in Jeremiah Trodde Junior.

Speaker 10 (42:08):
There will be a nice fit second, third round instinctive
active in those things. I think the reason why general
managers get excited is because they know if I don't
want to expand the first round pick, there are some
positions that I can talken in the second and third
rounds and really upgrade my roster.

Speaker 1 (42:24):
All right, but we're talking about some day two, day
three guys. We are here at the HPCU Legacy Ball.
The first day of the full practice is just wrapped
up here at Tulane University. Team Robinson, players made up
from the Swack and the Ssayak just finish their drills.
But later on it be Team Gaither and their quarterback
Davius Richard from North Carolina Central.

Speaker 4 (42:46):
Is that, dude? Do you tie me a heck Player
of the year, A great runner, a great thrower. He
blew up the combine.

Speaker 1 (42:53):
What about a player like him who is so accomplished
at this level, who has all the physical specs about
him getting into a camp and getting a shot, especially
with the duality he poses.

Speaker 5 (43:05):
Yeah, I think this year.

Speaker 10 (43:08):
I mean look even previous years, like last year we
saw as a Shawn Clifford go in the fifth round
and dtr during Thompson Robinson going the fifth round and
have an opportunity to play. I think teams are kind
of getting hip to the fact that you need to
continue to take quarterbacks just due to the nature of
the position, the value of the position, and the injury
situations that we see in the position.

Speaker 5 (43:29):
You need to have a bunch of guys in the stable.

Speaker 10 (43:31):
When you talk about Davis Richard, one of the things
that will intrigue teams about him is the spectacular playmaking
ability that he possesses, not only as a thrower but
as a dynamic runner. When you watched him at n
C Central, he made plays. He had the ability to
put this offense on his back. People will need to
look no further than the Celebration Bowl a year ago

when he knocked off Coach Primes undefeated Jackson State team
and did it in splendid fashion. This is a big
time playmaker. And the thing that I like about him, Steve,
is when we had an opportunity to talk to him
after the combine, the ability to articulate and to really
explain the wise behind.

Speaker 5 (44:11):
What he does on the field.

Speaker 10 (44:13):
To me, that is valuable because when you talk to teams,
they want guys that can take board the information from
the board to the field.

Speaker 5 (44:21):
Richard is one of those except one of those guys
that can do that.

Speaker 2 (44:26):
But when you've seen quarterbacks over the last couple of
years come out and Brock perty's one that jumps out
obviously with everything he's done, but experience, right, you've played
those snaps in the game, and now it seems like
teams are seeing that.

Speaker 3 (44:36):
You know, it's important to almost go up.

Speaker 2 (44:39):
I have to finish with this because this is what
Steve and I show is about. It's about offensive linemen
and it's about the nickel corner position. For some reason,
we talk about those two more than anything else on
this show. Have you seen in team's evaluations, Buck, over
the last couple of years the way that nickel spot
has become more and more important to finding that on
your defensive side of the ball? Trent Duffee, obviously, what

he did with the Super Bowl champs just jumps out
of us. You know, repeatedly, What have you seen in
terms of the evaluations and the importance of finding that
spot over the last couple of drafts?

Speaker 5 (45:11):
Yeah, so I think it's been changing for a while.

Speaker 10 (45:14):
It's become now where teams consider defenses to have twelve starters,
and that nickel corner is considered a starter. And it's
not only considered a starter, but now you're scouting for
play a specific set of skills to play at the
nickel position, because when you're playing nickel corner, I want
people to understand back in the day, the nickel used

to be your best corner, because what you're asking them
to do is to be.

Speaker 5 (45:39):
A hybrid player.

Speaker 10 (45:40):
He's a hybrid linebacker slash defensive back who is tasked
with being assigned to sometimes the slipperiest wide receiver, but
also being factored into the running game. So guys need
to tackle well, they need to have quickness to be
able to shadow in space, they need to be high
IQ guys because you ask them to do a lot
of things at that position, and if they have pass

for a skills where they can blitz off the edge,
it really makes them a very valuable commodity. So when
you talk about guys like Trent McDuffie and the work
that he was able to do last year for the
Kansas City Chiefs, people are going to look at that
and they want players who can kind of impact the
game in a variety of ways. I just think it's
the nature of the way the NFL is going. You're
seeing teams blitz more, You're seeing teams play more man

to man, and you continue to see the evolution of
the defense where you having positionless players manning multiple spots.
The nickel position is that spot that has really become
a huge position for championship caliber defense.

Speaker 3 (46:42):

Speaker 2 (46:42):
I don't know, Buck, I don't know how many guys
that play that spot.

Speaker 3 (46:45):
Steve and I have had on the show this year.

Speaker 2 (46:47):
I might be half a dozen of those guys, Kenny
Moore and a couple of those guys that have been
on the show, and we've absolutely loved chatting with them
about the position. You know it so well and you
broke it down brilliantly. Listen, we stole Bucking from moved
the sticks for our but make sure you keep an
eye listening to him and Daniel Jeremiah throughout this entire
draft off season or for in season, for you, off

season for me.

Speaker 3 (47:08):
But I appreciate it, man, Please can join us.

Speaker 2 (47:11):
Again before this draft rolls around on the NFL report, Buck,
awesome stuff, Thank you.

Speaker 5 (47:16):
Hey man, thanks for having me.

Speaker 3 (47:18):
All right. Coming up, Matthew Slater announces his retirement.

Speaker 2 (47:21):
Can a man with one NFL reception as a wide
receiver make it to the Hall of Fame.

Speaker 3 (47:28):
We're going to debate that next on the NFL Report.

Speaker 1 (47:36):
You're listening to the NFL Report podcast, but you can
watch me, Steve Weich and my co host James Palmer
on The NFL Report at seven fifteen Eastern Time on
Mondays and Thursdays on the NFL App and free streaming
platforms on the NFL channel on Roku two b Peacock,
Pluto TV and other free streaming apps.

Speaker 2 (47:59):
Welcome back to the NFL Reporters. We close things out.
James Palmer, Steve Whtch with you alongside Tom Brady and
a recently retired Matthew Slater. The Special Team's Extraordinary for
the New England Patriots. Brady's saying the best teammate and
even better man, Congratulations on the perfect career. A ten

time Pro bowler, Steve, two time All Pro who had
eight career targets. He's listed on your roster as a
wide receiver, but eight targets in his whole career one catch.
You know so much about the Hall of Fame? Does
Matthew Slater get into Canton.

Speaker 1 (48:36):
This is gonna be real interesting because, look, Devin Hester's
going in as a member of the Class of twenty
twenty four.

Speaker 4 (48:41):
He's the greatest returner ever.

Speaker 1 (48:43):
We have two of the greatest kickers John Stenenrud and
Morgan Anderson in the game in the Hall, the greatest
punter ever, and Ray guy in the Hall. Got what
about one of the best coverage guys, blocker setup men
ever in Matthew Slater. Interesting because Steve Tasker, the legend
of the Buffalo Bills. People have been clamoring for him

to get in for more than a decade. Do you
put Matthew Slater, who you see right here. You know
how hard this is to pick somebody up on the
run as you see him on that type of play.
Does he get in before Steve Pasker? This is going
to be a very interesting debate becaus Matthew Slater is
far more decorated as a special teamer than any non

returner or punter or kicker to get into the Hall JP.

Speaker 2 (49:30):
And Steve, I'll throw this on his resume as well
real quick, and I've talked to people in New England
about this. His role in the Second Dynasty Essentially, the
Patriots have is massive, a special teams player that took
the attention to detail in operating, in coverage and kick
return to all those aspects added to the attention to
detail in the culture that Bill Belichick created there. If

you talk to people in that building, they will tell
you he played a far bigger role than people outside
the Boston area understand in how that dynasty was developed.
It was Teddy Bruski that handed the baton essentially to
Matthew Slater. How crazy is that? A special team or
an unbelievable career. Remember our time has changed, Steve by

fifteen minutes, so don't miss the first team fifteen minutes
of the show. We are remember Mondays and Thursdays, seven
o'clock on the NFL channel that's on Roku and twob
and Peacock and everywhere, and then all later it'll be
on YouTube.

Speaker 3 (50:26):
Steve, the picture still looks great. The time's just a
little bit different.

Speaker 1 (50:29):
Times are a bit different, and we're still a podcast
that you can listen to whenever, when you're out walking
your dog, when you're up on the slopes, when you're
watching the NFL combine, next week, your Thursday JP
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