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March 18, 2024 49 mins

On today's episode of the NFL Report: Steve Wyche and James Palmer break down the Steelers acquiring quarterbacks Justin Fields and Russell Wilson. Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht joins to talk about Tampa Bay re-signing several key players including QB Baker Mayfield and WR Mike Evans. Then USC co-defensive coordinator and former Rams defensive line coach Eric Henderson stops by to reminisce about the legendary career of DT Aaron Donald in light of his recent retirement. Finally, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero gives the guys updates on Kenny Pickett's trade to the Eagles and the Vikings trading up in the 2024 NFL Draft.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Max Crosby from the Las Vegas Raiders, and this is
the NFL report.

Speaker 2 (00:12):
Yeah, baby, JP, Max Crosby littered up for us last week.
But we have a massive show today, Jane Palmer As
we have Buccaneers general manager Jason light We're gonna talk
to him about trying to run it back with a
nine to eighteen resigning Baker Mayfield and the crew. We
have got USC co defensive coordinator Eric Henderson. Eric used

to coach Aaron Donald, the recently retired Aaron Donald with
the Rams the past five years.

Speaker 3 (00:38):
You know he's gonna be bringing the heat.

Speaker 2 (00:40):
And also Tom Pellis or vil insider with all the
goings on that are ongoing in the NFL.

Speaker 3 (00:47):
JP. Hey, before we get started.

Speaker 2 (00:48):
Man, have you watched like any of these conference tournaments
in college basketball leading up to the NCAA Tournament.

Speaker 3 (00:56):

Speaker 1 (00:56):
I think my buck guys are the number two seed
in the NIT though, so I'll be in the NIT tournament.

Speaker 2 (01:02):
Apparently I watched none, but I got a bunch of notices.
How Howard University he won the mediac and we get
the playing game. They just can't even give us a
sixteenth seed out of the gate.

Speaker 3 (01:13):
Well, That's all right, because the big news.

Speaker 2 (01:15):
Jap the reason why we're really not, you know, too
much involved in college basketball because we're NFL centric. The
big news was the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team known for
its stability, has brought in two veteran quarterbacks.

Speaker 3 (01:28):
Let's hear from one of them, and that is Russell Wilson.

Speaker 4 (01:33):
I'm really excited about just the opportunity to really be
the best version of myself every day. Bring that to
the table. You know, I know it looks like to win.
Coach obviously knows what it looks like to win. This
team does, and so this city does more importantly, you know,
the city at Pittsburgh. So I'm excited about it. I
was fortunate to have several teams call and all that,
but this is the place that I wanted to be,

be a Pittsburgh Steeler and to wear the black and gold.
It's a true honor, it's tradition, it's history. There's six
trophies in there. We gotta go get a seventh, and.

Speaker 2 (02:02):
That was former Broncos and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. But
also they make the trade for Justin Fields JP and
only have to give up a sixth rounder from the
twenty twenty five draft that can convert to.

Speaker 3 (02:16):
A fourth rounded But let's look at this.

Speaker 2 (02:17):
We're gonna hit this on a lot different angles, Jameson,
and my thing is this, they were a playoff team
last year, right with Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph and
Mitch Trubisky. Do either one of these quarterbacks make them
any better?

Speaker 3 (02:31):
Do they add wins?

Speaker 1 (02:33):
I think the quarterback room Steve got better as a whole,
from Mitch Tribitsky and Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph to
now Russell Wilson and Justin Fields. But let's be abundantly clear.
We heard Russ say a couple of teams were calling.
My understanding is this kind of was really his only
option to go out there and start Week one in

the NFL in twenty twenty four. So he was really
looking at the Steelers or I don't know what you
look at Justin Field's market. You mentioned the sixth round
pick that can become a fourth round pick if he
plays fifty one percent of the snaps or more for
the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. That also shows you the
market there for him was not what we entirely thought
it could have been. Now, there were several other teams

that did inquire about Fields, a lot of them about
him being their backup. He wanted to go to the Steelers.
The Bears wanted to do right by him. He goes
to the Steelers. My thought, Steve, is why did he
want to go to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's probably because
that's his best chance to start. And the fascinating part
about this is they're almost the same player. Now, the
point you're making is do one of these guys push

them over the top from what this team is with
a very good defense, an offensive line that was playing
really well towards the back end of the season, a
good run game, and some really good up and coming
skill type players. But these are the two most sacked
quarterbacks in the NFL since twenty twenty one. They're the
two slowest players in terms of getting rid of the
football in the NA this past season. There's so many

similarities between these two quarterbacks. The only difference really is
age and turning the football over. So to me, Steve,
when Week one rolls around, Wills kick this conversation off
with who is the starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And
even though we're told right now that Russell Wilson's in
the driver's seat, do you think that changes during the offseason.

Speaker 3 (04:25):
I do.

Speaker 2 (04:25):
I mean, look, if there is a coach in the
NFL it's gonna put the best players on the field,
it is Mike Tomlin. We've seen that he's got a
history of playing whoever is going to give their team
the best chance to win. And that's just not a
cliche with him. And if Justin Fields outperforms Russell Wilson
in training camp, he will be the Week one starter. Yeah,
Russell's gonna be the guy when we go into offseason
workouts and stuff, getting the first team reps. Initially, Well,

let's see how this thing plays out. And you know,
I know you said they're kind of like the same
type of guys and you cited some of the metrics.
I do think they're different because Russell does have the experience, right,
he does come in with a Super Bowl championship, He's
got in an early part of a Hall of Fame
type of career. Now the last couple of years have
gotten sideways. Now we're gonna find out is is he

shot is Justin Fields is simply better because he's younger
and a better athlete, or does he have something left?
Is Justin Field's gonna be able to push him in
a way he hasn't been pushed before. We're gonna see.
But I want to also take it from this angle.
Everything you mentioned. These are two quarterbacks. Two teams just
gave up on Russell Wilson is being paid thirty nine
million dollars by the Denver Broncos not to play with him,

and Justin Fields again got traded away from a team
that's gonna draft somebody first overall to replace him or
a pick they're not gonna get back until next season.
Let's also factor this into what's gonna happen with the Steelers.
Arthur Smith is the new offensive coordinator. People can say
whatever they want body being a head coach in Atlanta.
Had they had solid quarterback play there, they would have

been a ten or eleven win team last year.

Speaker 3 (05:51):
So he can coach.

Speaker 2 (05:52):
But Arthur Smith did not want Justin Fields. He had
the opportunity to pick him a couple of years ago
when they had the fourth overall pick, and what with
Kyle Pitts, and they passed on Justin Fields. I have
been told by people in the building that he had
no interest in Justin Field. So now he's got a
coaching how is he gonna do that. He's got no choice.

Maybe Justin Fields has grown to where he thinks he
can do something with him. I frankly do think Arthur
Smith is going to be able to do something with
him and Russell Wilson. So I just don't know if
this team is gonna get any better. Back to our
main point, but I do think Arthur Smith is the
proper coach who might be able to, as I tweeted,
get what's left out of Russell Wilson and maybe unearsome

things we haven't seen yet out of Justin Field.

Speaker 1 (06:37):
And that's what we're all looking for, Steve, because this
really looks like a one year Let's see what you
got for a lot of people involved in this situation. Yeah,
probably Mike Tomlin included Arthur Smith both of these quarterbacks,
and as they evaluate it, that's where I have the
question of if this is really considered a success, and
for this to be successful, it might have to be

that Justin Fields goes out there and wins the competition.
Steve and You're right, Arthur Smith gets more out of
him than we've seen anybody else get out of him,
and that wouldn't be a stretch in all honesty. He's
gotten more out of Marcus Marioa than anybody else has
ever had. He's probably more out of Ryan Tannehill than
anyone else has ever had as well. And I look
at twenty five years old, he's more explosive, more athletic,

has a higher ceiling. They have a longer future. And
this is a guy that could be beloved in the
locker room in Pittsburgh just as he was in Chicago.
But the problem the caveat the fourth quarter is just
abysmal for Justin Fields, like the worst quarterback grating we've
seen in the fourth quarter in some time. Secondly, if

they make the decision that Fields is the guy to
go with, you do have to cater the offense to
Justin Fields. That's always been the issue in Chicago, where
they would kind of cater to him for a while,
then they would get away from it, and then they'd
go back to it and get away from it. He
has a specific style in which how he plays that's
hard to figure out. In a sense, Steve that if

that's the way you want to go, you have to
fully commit to it, and that puts you in a
difficult spot when you're competing between two quarterbacks. I will
say this, Russ protects the football. Russ protects the football
in the red zone. He will make sure he doesn't
hurt you. But at the same time, that style of
play Steve was not sustainable this past year. In the
eyes of Sean Payton.

Speaker 2 (08:23):
It's not going to be sustainable in a division where, oh,
you have the reigning MVP and Lamar Jackson, you have
Joey Burrow coming back, and in Cleveland you've got this
Sean Watson or whomever ends up at quarterbacks and is
are signing every quarterback that's available right now. But you
have three teams that are potentially better than the Steelers
as well.

Speaker 3 (08:39):
So quarterback play is vital.

Speaker 2 (08:41):
We've heard their owner Are Rooney basically come out and say, Okay,
we're kind of tired of having this winning record.

Speaker 3 (08:46):

Speaker 2 (08:46):
We want to get back to the Super Bowl play.
One thing that we're seeing that this emphasizes more than
anything JP is is very hard to replace a franchise quarterback,
you know, trying to replace Ben Roethlisberger. Trying to replace
this all around the NFL. It is not an easy
thing to do. So look what a roll of the dice,

so to speak. It's a low risk roll of the dice.
Like you said, this could be a one year thing
for everybody involved with the Steelers. This is gonna be
one of those teams to watch early on just to
see how it figures out.

Speaker 3 (09:16):
Because, like you keep saying, Justin Fields, I think.

Speaker 2 (09:19):
Is really really gonna push Russ and could end up
as the Week one starter.

Speaker 5 (09:24):
Definitely true.

Speaker 1 (09:25):
Multiple players I've talked to have gone against Justin Fields
over the year. Seven said one of the most competitive players. Yeah,
he's gone against and this is gonna be a spot.
It's not easy to get to that training camp, but
I'm gonna find a way to get there.

Speaker 5 (09:35):
This training camp coming up.

Speaker 1 (09:37):
We have Jason like the mastermind of money, you could say.
Him and his group always find a way to make
things happen with the Tampa Bay Bucks. He wants to
bring everybody back if it happens. Steve, they're having a
boat parade. He says he has a couple more pieces
to put in place before that parade. Happens, Baker was
a big one. We'll ask him about his quarterback next.
On the NFL Report.

Speaker 6 (10:08):
It's time for the lead block, presented by T Mobile
for Business. A sport is fastest, Football deserves America's fastest
five G network. Businesses go further with T Mobile for Business.

Speaker 5 (10:20):
Welcome back to the.

Speaker 1 (10:20):
NFL Report, James Palmer, Steve whtch with you, and we
are lucky Steve to be joined by Jason light, the
general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And Jason, thank
you so much for joining us. You're trying to bring
everybody back. You're you're You're almost there. You're almost to
the boat parade. But we'll get to that in a second.
I want to start with the guy who lines up
under center, and Baker Mayfield. You liked him coming out

of the draft. Uh, your head coach had a relationship
with him. You guys felt very good about him. But
when you had him for this year, what did you
learn maybe about him? You didn't know that maybe puts
you over the edge. Jason, that goes we have to
bring back Baker Mayfield.

Speaker 7 (10:58):
Well, we always knew that he was a super competitive player,
super competitive person, you know, he's got that at moxie
to him. That's kind of what made everybody, the people
that loved him coming out, that's what made him made
us love him. I guess it was the extreme leadership
that he showed and took over the.

Speaker 5 (11:18):
Team right away.

Speaker 7 (11:18):
And that's uh, you know, he he was the he
was part of the stir, the straw, the stir of
the drink this year. And you know, just with that
with his leadership and his toughness, and you know, it
was it was our identity this.

Speaker 2 (11:31):
Year, Jason and saying that, I mean, you've been around
this league for a while. It is not easy for
basically to import a quarterback to a veteran laden team
and that player feel comfortable in assuming that leadership role.

Speaker 3 (11:44):
Like that?

Speaker 2 (11:44):
Is that something when you talk about leadership that you
factored in, Like, man, he just came in here, We've
got all these guys already in place, and he said,
let's rock and roll.

Speaker 3 (11:53):
This is our team.

Speaker 2 (11:54):
I mean, is that something that that maybe pushed it
over the top, that little added stuff that he had.

Speaker 7 (11:59):
Well, it definitely did. Steven in the fact that he
followed a legend that you know, the greatest of all
time that was here also shows that he's got a
lot of confidence, and that confidence just it bled into
the entire team. When we were going through some some
rough times this year. You know, he never blinked and

the team followed him. So we're, like I said, we're
fortunate to have him. So we wanted to have We
wanted to make sure that we locked him up.

Speaker 3 (12:25):
And Jason to that point.

Speaker 2 (12:26):
To follow it up, if you if you guys got
him done before free agency started, do you think if
you actually got the free agency you would have been
in trouble that somebody else could have scooped in.

Speaker 7 (12:35):
Well, I can't see why we wouldn't why somebody wouldn't
want to want him and have an opportunity to talk
to him. You know, like I said, all at the combine,
I think when I talked to everybody, he wanted to
be here. There's no doubt he didn't hide that, and
we wanted him. So at some point you think that
you'd be able to make a deal. But you know,
we both had to do our respective things, uh to

you know, to make sure that we both felt like
the deal was fair. And that's what we did, and
I'm glad we never got to that point, so I
guess we'll never know. Good.

Speaker 1 (13:09):
That's a good point, Jason. You mentioned Brady, and I
was there with you, guys.

Speaker 5 (13:13):
I don't know if you remember me.

Speaker 1 (13:14):
I was all masked up, one of the few people
that was there to stand there every day of training
camp while Tom was out there trying to get that
offense in place in that first year he was there.
And you mentioned with Baker the scale that you mentioned
that he's like an offensive lineman. He's a ten out
of ten, I believe on the I think it was
the prickly scale, I'll call it. Maybe I saw you
see a lot of that in Brady as well in

the way he works with guys. How much have you
learned about that trait with the quarterback position, maybe after
your time with Tom and now that you see it
in Baker. Is there a similarity between the two with
that specific trait.

Speaker 7 (13:49):
Well, it's hard to compare anybody to Brady, but I
will say that you are correct. I remember when you
did have the you had the airbnb down the road
here from.

Speaker 3 (13:58):
Marslute there we go.

Speaker 5 (14:03):
Yep, Yeah, by.

Speaker 7 (14:09):
Jason, Brady's a fierce competitor, and so is Baker, and
that's obviously a trait that we've seen here the last
two quarterbacks we have. That's a that's a positive thing.
It's something that we'll look forward to. We we we
always try to identify that in the quarterbacks that we
that we valuate in the draft and regency. We always

look for that. But you know, we've seen it firsthand
now and it certainly has shown to be something that
is what gets the best out of these guys.

Speaker 2 (14:40):
Jason, what's it like, you know, when you when you
kind of have I don't know if it's a predicable.
Let's call it a situation where you have a franchise
legend like a Mike Evans, right, and he's coming up
on the contractual situation.

Speaker 3 (14:52):
He's still productive player, but to make a decision.

Speaker 2 (14:55):
Like, Okay, maybe he's getting up there in years, do
we let him go? Do we a back because of
the affinity the fan base and the organization.

Speaker 3 (15:03):
Has from him.

Speaker 2 (15:04):
Again, I know it's a specific case, but what is
it like having to kind of make those decisions, be
it past present versus future.

Speaker 7 (15:14):
It's not fun sometimes, But in this particular case with Mike,
you he did not slow down at all. Year, he
had one of his best years. He's of course, we
look at all the GPS and all those things, and
he was one of the fastest years that he's had.
It's it's it's it's a tribute to his training. He's uh,
he's working extremely hard. As he's gotten up there in

age and as he's put years locked years in he's
worked harder and harder in the offseason. And he's a
freak worker right now. So we weren't afraid of him
losing anything. In fact, we think that he's he's still
in his prime, very much so. And I wouldn't be
surprised if we actually signed him to another contract extension
after this one's done. The way he's motivated right.

Speaker 3 (15:54):
Now, there we go breaking news. Oh.

Speaker 5 (15:57):
I love that he's always breaking news.

Speaker 1 (16:01):
But Jason, you did say in the press conference, he
almost you know, you want to avoid getting emotional talking
about Mike, Like, what does he genuinely mean to you?
I know he means a lot to your family as well,
But why is he's just so special as a.

Speaker 5 (16:15):
Human being and to you.

Speaker 7 (16:17):
It's because he's the most selfless player that I've ever
been around. He's one of the most humble superstars. We've
used that several times here, but that's the best way
to describe him. He's he's all about team. There's not
a single person in that locker room that doesn't respect him,
not a single person in this building that doesn't respect him.
He knows everybody, he treats everybody the same. He treats
everybody to respect, and all he wants to do is win.

And you know, I couldn't draw up a better teammate
than Mike Evans, which is which is why this became
very emotional in the thought of losing him would be
I felt, would be very detrimental to this organization. So
I'm glad once again he's another one. I'm glad. We
don't know what happened, what would have happened if we
didn't sign him before free agency started. I just know
that I had a few cocktails after we got that

one done.

Speaker 3 (17:03):
Well done, well done, well learned.

Speaker 5 (17:06):
I think everybody one of them.

Speaker 2 (17:07):
Right, So, Jason, when you know you guys resigned several
of your own players, and all your teams try to
say like, hey, the goal is to always draft, develop,
and re sign, but why such you know why this
commitment to this team. I mean, we know you guys
made made the playoff run last year, but why maybe
not go out and refresh certain guys. Is there a

certain thought to say, hey, we know we can take
these guys that we had and get to the next
level or kind of what was it thinking about resigning
so many of your own guys.

Speaker 7 (17:38):
Well, we've still felt like they were very They were
very good players and they're not slowing down, and they
were a big reason why we were able to get
over the hump last year when we were four and seven.
All of these players that we resigned, Levonte David Mike Evans.
I mean, these two are gonna put I think they're

Hall of Fame players and they're still playing at Levante.
We haven't talked about him. He played, he had one
of his best years too, So it must be something
in then Tampa for him and Mike to be playing
the level that they are, and we'll take it.

Speaker 1 (18:12):
What also happens in Tampa is what happens in the
Great State of Florida. Jason, is no state income tax?
You've joked about this kind of but also I'm curious
if you do use it to your advantage, you any
general manager in Texas, say the Titans. Just how does
that come into play if it does at all when
you're trying to get deals done?

Speaker 5 (18:34):
Does it?

Speaker 7 (18:34):
I think it does at times more times often than not.
But these players these days are very very smart. They're
smart with their money, They invest very well, and they know,
especially these big, big deals, when you're talking about tens
of millions of dollars, making them in a state where
there's no state income tax compared to a state that does,

it does add up over time. It's quite as pretty
significant difference. Now, it's not always the case. I'm not
saying we're always going to win that battle against another
team that doesn't have this advantage, but it's it's always
nice well.

Speaker 2 (19:08):
And also hasn't hurt that Tampa's like one of the
most beautiful places in the United.

Speaker 3 (19:11):
States for people to spend a few years.

Speaker 2 (19:14):
Jason and so so kind of on on the on
the the general of the big picture thing. One trend
that we have seen that we saw this this free
agency period is an urgency in signing the backup quarterback.
What is kind of your observation the way that the team,
the teams across the league on the first two days
of free agency, went out and made sure that they

had insurance behind their starter or secured a bridge type
of quarterback.

Speaker 7 (19:39):
Well, it's a very important position. If if the starter
goes down, normally that means the season's over for a team.
If you have a good player. You sawt share with
with the Colts that they could rally with with Gardner
and and and and almost made it and had a
pretty good year. You don't want to You don't want
to be in a situation where it's over as the

starter does go down, And we don't feel that that's
the case here at all. We like Kyle a lot.
It was a very heated battle last year in camp
that Baker ended up winning and during the preseason. So
but it's a very very important position, always has been here.
You can't put a price tag on how important that is.

Speaker 1 (20:19):
Jason, you like to break some news. We were joking
around about it before the interview. I just would love
for you to just break Tristan Wurf's has done a
long term deal for Antoine Winfield Junior is done. Where
do you stand with trying to finish things up so
you can have this boat parade with both of those
players who are just young and unbelievably talented and probably

players you want to be in Tampa for a long time.

Speaker 7 (20:43):
Oh, there's no doubt those two guys are. Both of
them just I think they're on their way to possibly
having a historic career. They've already had great careers, but
historic careers and hopefully the entire time here in Tampa work.
Our staff did a fantastic job that year in COVID draft.
In fact, I've joked a few times that maybe we
should just all go from home and do the draft

with via zoom again like we did that year. It's uh,
it was uh, that's that's our That's a very high
priority for us right now. Number one, Antwine and then
and then and then in no particular order, but then
Tristan as well, to get them locked up long term.

Speaker 2 (21:20):
Hey, Jason, this has been fantastic. We really, we really
really appreciate you spending the time and we have got
to get some of those creamsickle caps that you're done
and that is a sweet brim you're rocking right there, man,
So thank you so much for taking the time with Jason.

Speaker 5 (21:34):
All the best.

Speaker 7 (21:35):
I'll try to hook you up I know, thank you, Jason.

Speaker 3 (21:37):
There we go.

Speaker 2 (21:38):
That's a wrap for the lead block presented by T
Mobile for Business, A sport as fast as football deserves
America's fastest five G network.

Speaker 3 (21:47):
Businesses go further with T Mobile for Business. All right,
coming back after the break.

Speaker 2 (21:53):
He has been arguably the best, not just defensive player,
but the best player of a generation, if not to
Aaron Donald has retired, and we'll be talking to his
former position coach, who's gonna give us the inside deeps
to Donald's greatness.

Speaker 5 (22:21):
Four he throws it away.

Speaker 3 (22:23):
Aaron Donald got there.

Speaker 8 (22:25):
And you can build that man stats you out Soapy Stadium.
Right now, the greatest of all time on defense does
it in the biggest moment of Super Bowl fifty six.

Speaker 2 (22:40):
We are back at the NFL Report James Palmer, and
that is Aaron Donald, one of the greatest we've ever
seen to do it. A retired Friday, and now we're
joined by Eric Henderson, now the co defensive coordinator and
run game coordinator at University of Southern California. But Eric,
of course, he spent the last five seasons with the
Rams and Partners D Line. Oh it's party's run game coordinator.

Thank you so much for joining us real quick. Over
your left shoulder.

Speaker 3 (23:06):
There is a picture I can just tell by the
body type of.

Speaker 2 (23:09):
Aaron Donald chasing Kyler Murray, like, why is that hanging
on your wall?

Speaker 9 (23:16):
That was the one hundred seck? That was his one
hundred seck.

Speaker 10 (23:19):
Obviously that's important when we talk about just career stats,
one that he wanted me to have, and so I'm
very appreciative of that and it'd always be with me.

Speaker 1 (23:31):
I love I love it is that guy right there,
tweeted out, he's he's very thankful. Quarterbacks around the league,
Eric are very thankful that Aaron is hanging it up
just unlike any other player we've really ever seen. And
the first thing that jumps to my mind is the
way he rushed the quarterback from the interior. Now that
he has officially retired, has he changed the position in

the NFL in any way in your mind?

Speaker 9 (23:57):
No doubt.

Speaker 10 (23:58):
I Mean, you talk about a guy that's just I mean,
he is the best in the world at what he does.
You know, you talk about just redefining the interior defensive
line position from a skill set standpoint. From above the
next standpoint, I talk to guys all the time. You
know that they want to talk about his athleticism and

the way that he rushed the passer. But this guy's
above the neck approach to the game was just of
an elite, you know player, and that's why he was
able to do so much on the on the football field.
He understands what's happening prior to the ball being snapped.
He understands blocking schemes. He's very aware to know that

he dictates the protection and that there's gonna be so
much attention dedicated to him, and so how can we
find ways to to to get free and and so
it was a challenge for myself as a coach, which
made me better and so I'm grateful for that.

Speaker 3 (24:56):

Speaker 10 (24:56):
And it was a challenge to him weekend and week
out seeing protections that you just don't see. You know,
you can't scout for him because they don't necessarily show
that prior to playing us. So we have to anticipate
those things week in and week out.

Speaker 9 (25:11):
And that's where we both got better.

Speaker 10 (25:12):
When you talk about this guy what he dictates, and
then myself as a coach having to to figure out
ways to help them.

Speaker 2 (25:20):
Okay, Eric, right, let's since you got us in his pocket.
When you guys played the Eagles early last season, Jason
Kelsey told me postgame, because I was like you, you
were asked to do something I've never seen before out
of the center, and that was to basically track Aaron
Donald regardless if right or left side of wherever he aligned.
You can make sure you had a constant double team

on him. He said he'd never done that before in
his career. What was that game like seeing what the
Eagles designed to stop one player.

Speaker 9 (25:51):
In particular, no doubt.

Speaker 10 (25:52):
First of all, you credit the Egles in terms of
what they were able to do, and when you have
a veteran offensive line like the guys that those those
guys are, it allowed them to be able to do that.
And then when you talk about Kelsey, who's one of
the best at the position to ever play the play
the game as well, uh being able to do something
I had never seen before in my life. And I

don't think you I've ever seen it after us and
I haven't seen them they take that protection prior to
playing us. And so again, when you talk about the
greatest to ever play the game, it's smart. It was
they were able to get it done, but it also
challenged our unit up front, you know when you talk
about the young guys that we had and have, and

so we're able to go into the meetings after that
game as to you know, show these guys how disrespectful
it was when you talk about them dedicating this much
attention to Aaron Donald. We have to get better, guys,
We have to get better around him, and we cannot
allow teams to be able to do that. And uh,

and even with the type of players that they have,
and you talk about the Lame John and you know,
all those guys that were just some really good football players.

Speaker 9 (27:03):
I don't feel like they had to do that, but
they did.

Speaker 10 (27:07):
And they had some success doing that against us, and
so credit to those guys. And uh, but we were
able to get get some pressure on the quarterback as well,
but obviously that quarterback made some plays and so they
had they did a good job that week.

Speaker 5 (27:21):
Eric, I'm curious.

Speaker 1 (27:23):
Our good buddy, Albert Breyer, who writes for Sports Illustrated,
came out this morning with an article about Aaron and
talked to Jeff Fisher, and Jeff Fisher kind of said,
we saw offensive coordinators almost have two call sheets one
when Aaron was in the game, and then plays that
they would call when Aaron was taking a break. Did
you see that during your time with Aaron that actually
there were plays were kept on the shelf while he

was in the game.

Speaker 9 (27:47):
It's so funny.

Speaker 10 (27:48):
I mean, me and me and a d would be
on the sideline and I'm like, he's like, coach, I just.

Speaker 9 (27:52):
Give me two Like fuck, you know, god, dang it, bro,
Like you know you did, hurry up. And then I'm like,
they're about to take a shot right now.

Speaker 10 (27:59):
So we left and you know, we already know he's
on the sideline, and I mean that's when they taken
shots because they feels like they can get the ball
down the field at that time, because they feel like
they'll they'll they'll have more time to to uh to
design those those routes that can get down the field.
And so like we newted all of those things. So
we had different calls as well. You know, we were

we were playing accordingly as well, understanding what those situations were.
Knowing and that's why they never really hurt us because
we we understood those things. And so it's it's awesome.
It was it helped us stay ahead of on the
call sheet as well, because we can uh plan the
right way and so but it was just it was

just different. And you know, and there will never be
a guy that again that can change the game like that.

Speaker 9 (28:47):
I don't think, you know, he's special.

Speaker 10 (28:50):
He's special in his own right and uh and I
love him to death, man, And you know, I'm so
happy for him, excited for him, for his family.

Speaker 9 (28:59):
You know, I can't say enough great things about this guy.

Speaker 3 (29:04):
So Eric, and saying all of that, what's left?

Speaker 2 (29:07):
I mean, like, okay, so with the RAMS thinking, you
don't have to assar to be specific about what could
happen because you can't replace Aaron Donald. But how does
the team now compensate for losing somebody who caused other
teams to game plan for a specific player who was
absolutely disruptive even when they did, Like, how do you
compensate that?

Speaker 5 (29:26):

Speaker 7 (29:27):

Speaker 10 (29:27):
The good thing is that I think that Sean's gonna
do it, and let's need to do a tremendous job
of getting the right guys in there that will be
able to help the defense out. You know, I think
obviously you can't ever replace a guy like Aaron Donald,
but you can get a couple of players that can
help at least get some pressure on the quarterback, you know,

do some things in the run game if you strategically
get the right kind of guys in there. And you know,
Chris Shu is gonna do a great job in terms
of calling the defense. I'm very confident in that I's
got some great coaches over there with him. Now, Gifts
Med you know, all be pleasant and uh, you know,
Joe and Ac like those guys will do a really
good job on that defensive staff and uh, and they'll

put the guys in position to have success. Not to mention,
you got the younger guys that are the Kobe Turners
and the Byron you know young those guys will continue
to get better as well.

Speaker 9 (30:20):
Uh, but there's no way you can replace a d.

Speaker 10 (30:23):
You can't even go into a situation thinking that you
even have that type of success. You just have to,
you know, get the guys, continue to get the guys better,
and and and hope it you know, it helps out,
it works itself out, and I'm sure it will will
you know it's gonna be different, but you know it'll
be It'll be fine.

Speaker 1 (30:44):
Well as they're trying to rebuild what they do up
front Erica and this is draft time. And I go
back to what everybody was saying about Aaron Donald when
he was coming out during this time period. It was,
you know, the arms aren't long enough, he's not tall enough.
I'm curious if if the build that had it's kind
of similar to what you had when you were playing
in the league, Like, was that to his advantage? Do

you think that ended up benefiting him? The build that
he had.

Speaker 10 (31:10):
Of course, not only the bill, but it's the heart.
It's the heart, it's the above the neck approach, is
understanding to the game. He's a physical football player, and
he's got the athletic ability to do things that certain
guys that may have a build can't do. And so
at the end of the day, you know, when you
have all of those things, you understand the game. You're athletic,

you're strong, you're powerful, you're physical. Like that's maybe sometimes
better than a guy that's just that has measurables and
can't do nearly the you know the amount of things
that he can do on a football field, and that's
why he has success so many times. Some of these
teams and some of these people whoever right, get into
the measurables and they overlook the football player. And sometimes

that's why you see the Kobe Turners have success in
the Byron Young, in the Aaron Donalds, because these guys
are football players. They're physical, they play the game the
right way, they're smart, they play with effort. Like if
you can't coach that up, then that's a problem. And
so like those are the type of guys that you
want to have on your defensive line. If you can

build it with those guys, and then when you get
some of the guys that do have the measurables, that's
a plus. But you don't just overlook some of those
guys that have some of those intangibles just because there
are six to one, don't have the loan longest arms
and all of that. I embraced that, you know, as
a coach, and I'm so those guys took that as
chips on their shoulders as well. And like you mentioned,

you know, I was one of those guys that was
talked about like that. So having that passion and coaching
guys that were similar in a sense, you know, we're
all in it together, and it's like we're you know,
we all feel like we got our back against the wall.
And that was kind of like the motto if you
will with that group there, you know, so fun.

Speaker 3 (32:58):
Eric, real quick, we only got about thirty seconds here.

Speaker 2 (33:01):
You created You created a little something on Twitter the
other day when you kind of hinted that d maybe
join you at USC fight on what is the deal?

Speaker 3 (33:11):
Is Ad coming to join you? Is he coming to
join your baby?

Speaker 10 (33:16):
You know what I what I will say is this
is that uh you know, right now, this is about
you know, a d and joined his family. Definitely want
to give him that that respect and and and and
let him do his thing.

Speaker 9 (33:27):
He deserves it, had a wonderful football career.

Speaker 10 (33:30):
Uh, you know, would love to have him should he
decide to make that type of decision. But that's not
something that I don't think is in his uh you know,
he's he's gonna do right now. He's gonna enjoy his
time with his family, which he deserves, and and we'll
see what happens from that standpoint.

Speaker 9 (33:46):
But of course, you know, you love to have him here,
you know, if that works out.

Speaker 2 (33:50):
So I'm sure you could convince and make a guest
appearance Hey, Eric, cannot thank you enough for joining us.

Speaker 7 (33:56):

Speaker 2 (33:56):
This is awesome, insight, It's one of the greatest players
JP and I will be sitting close to you five
years from now in Canton, Ohio.

Speaker 3 (34:03):
When Ad is putting on that gold jacket. Thanks so
much for joining this coach.

Speaker 10 (34:07):
Thank you guys for having me really appreciate this is awesome.
Anything for a d I love him, you know, and
I'm looking forward to to watching what's to happen next.

Speaker 2 (34:17):
All right, fight on, all right on the ENDFL Report,
Justin Fields he is now a Pittsburgh Steeler. We're gonna
have a lot more conversation on that, and we're back
after the break all the.

Speaker 5 (34:30):
Tape, Elsie, Welcome back to the NFL Report.

Speaker 1 (34:43):
James Palmer, Steve Whitch with you, joined by NFL Network
insider Tom Pelasero and Tom. We started the show talking
about Justin Fields and the battle that he's going to
go through, because I still think it's a battle with
Russell Wilson throughout this offseason to see who's going to
be the quarterback in Pittsburgh. But he gets for a
sixth round pick next year that can become a fourth
round pick due to playing time, What was the market

and how did this fall? Because during free agency you
were on the phone constantly. Was this played correctly in
your mind by the Bears? And did they ever think
holding on to him was a realistic option for them?
They kind of waiting teams out maybe if that was
also in play.

Speaker 11 (35:22):
I think he had a couple of different things going
on here, James One. You know, in the mind of
gms around the league, the market or backup quarterbacks got
set because there were a lot of different trades where
they were pick flops, where they were a straight sixth
round pick like the mac Jones one. They all kind
of added up to the Day three type of a selection.
Then also all the starting jobs and all the chances

to really compete in other places got filled. Nobody's given
up a second round draft pick or a backup quarterback.
It's just not going to happen, And so were the Bears.
Their options were, as you mentioned, either wait it out
and hold on just fields and see what develops and
see if anybody gets hurt and potentially have help the

dynamic in training camp of the guy who's been the
starter there with a likely new starter with the number
one overall draft pick. The Bears ultimately decided that they
weren't going to go through that entire situation. We know
that Caleb Williams has his Pro Day this week. The
Bears are going to continue to zero in on exactly
what they're doing in number one. Overall. I've said many

times I believe, including on this show, and everything the
Bears have done through this entire offseason, going all the
way back to the offensive coordinator change, pointed toward them
making a change of quarterback and taking Caleb Williams number one.

Speaker 3 (36:37):

Speaker 11 (36:38):
It makes too much sense from a financial perspective. You
reset the clock on your quarterback, as opposed to Justin Fields,
who's going into year four. You're going to have to
pay him eventually, you have a decision to make on
his option and all those sorts of things. They brought
in a coach who is a good fit with the
style of play that Caleb Williams would fit into. And
in reality, as much as there's been debate about is

this polarizing Fields versus Caleb, it's really not in the
mind of evaluators here. So for Justin Fields, we know
how dynamic he can be with the football in his hands.
He doesn't always play on time, he doesn't always get
the ball out in rhythm. If you're going to play
the style of offense the Bears want to, you want
somebody who maybe plays a little bit more like that.

And so now he joins Russell Wilson in Pittsburgh where
Russell Wilson's another guy who's never really in his career
played on schedule. He's always been about creating outside the pocket.
It's you're going to build a style of offense that
fits Russ. They made abundantly clear to Russell Wilson, you
are the starter. Even after the Justin Fields trade here,
I would anticipate Arthur Smith coming up with a lot

of different things to account for the way that those
guys play the quarterback position.

Speaker 5 (37:48):

Speaker 11 (37:48):
They're going to run the football a ton. I mean,
that's the other thing with the Steelers offseason is go
through a look between trade away Deontay Johnson, they cut
Alan Robinson. They do have George Pickens, who's gonna be
a high volume but there may not be a lot
of footballs to go around here.

Speaker 3 (38:02):
Either way.

Speaker 11 (38:03):
They're going to run the heck out of the football
and having guys like Russell Wilson, even though it was
he is as elusive as quick as he once was.
Probably not justin fields is it'd be interesting to see
how they potentially use both those guys as the season
goes on. But for Fields in the end, market really
dictated what they could get for me. You either could
place that gamble hold onto the guy, see what happens

down the line and all the things that come with it,
or you make the move right now they up into
the ladder.

Speaker 2 (38:30):
Yeah, I think all those would agree that they couldn't
have him the Caleb Williams in the building.

Speaker 3 (38:33):
That's just an awkward dynamic.

Speaker 2 (38:35):
There's two potentially young star quarterbacks being in that locker
room together. Now, let's go to the other trickle down
through the Steelers zone. That's Kenny Pickett getting traded to
the Philadelphia Eagles in that match right there.

Speaker 11 (38:48):
Well, with Kenny Pickett, this was really unusual just the
way that the entire past couple of months played out
because from what my understanding and going into free agency,
going through January and February, the Steelers' mentality was, let's
give Kenny Pickett a real chance with a different OC
and see what he can do, and that's not at
all a shot at Mac Canada. It's the reality that

that offense was not as productive as anybody would have
wanted with Hendy Pickett at quarterback. He had a lot
of injuries during the course of that time. That's the
biggest story of Kenny Pickett's career at this point is
even when he's played good football, he hasn't been able
to stay on the field, whether it's because of concussions,
an ankle, or other types of ailments here. So, when
the Russell Wilson opportunity began to come and focus, I

was told that there were two primary advocates for bringing
in Russell Wilson. One of them was Cam Hayward, who
was the longtime team captain. Like Russell Wilson, he's a
Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner. Cam
Hayward was pushing let's bring in Russ. The other one
was Mike Tomlin. Mike Comlin kept forcing the issue and
pushing for hey, we can get Russell Wilson at the minimum,

it makes perfect sense for where we're at. Let's bring
him in here and have him be a part of
the roster. So with Kenny Pickett. The way that I
understand this played out was Mike Tomlin and Kenny Pickett
had obviously been communicating through the process. Tomlin had told Picket, hey,
no matter what happens here, you're going to get a
chance to compete. So on that Sunday night, Kenny Pickett,

like a lot of other people, learn on social media
since Russell Wilson insisted on breaking it himself. In a
hype video on Instagram, it learns that Russell Wilson is
going to Pittsburgh. Pickett then talks the next morning to
Mike Tomlin and rather being told hey, open competition, he's
told listen, Russ is in the pole position. He's going
to get the first reps. At that point, Pickett said,

well then I want a fresh start. The Steelers, in
pretty rapid form accommodated that they move on from him.
That then opened up the spot for Justin Fields. As
for Kenny Pickett, you know, he was the first quarterback
taken in a quarterback draft that at this point does
not look great. And I think that you knew that
based on how things played out devolved. Blink Willis's currently

third in Tennessee. Sam Howell, who was a fifth round
pick in that draft was in. There has been Rider
who just got traded to Arizona as well. With Pickett, again,
there's something there with him. He's not the biggest guy,
he doesn't have the biggest starm, but he played a
ton of football in college. His issue is being he
can't stay on the field. When you're a young quarterback
who keeps getting hurt, it's hard to kind of build

that momentum.

Speaker 3 (41:21):
And get better.

Speaker 5 (41:22):
Tom. I love that you avoided saying he had small hands.

Speaker 1 (41:24):
Nice work to avoid that aspect of Kenny Pickett that
everybody loves to scrutinize over and over again. And listen,
when you lose your job to Mason Rudolph and a
super Bowl winning quarterback comes into camp, that's a veteran
like Russell Wilson, you would just assume he's probably going
to get the first crack at first team reps in
the spring.

Speaker 5 (41:41):
It just kind of always usually falls that way around
the league.

Speaker 1 (41:44):
How about another trade, but this one involving picks the
Minnesota Vikings. As you sit in that great state right there,
Tom acquire another first round pick from the Houston Texans.
Are we all just assuming this is to get ammunition
for a quarterback, or can we just say yes, this
is ammunition for a quarterback.

Speaker 11 (42:05):
Well, as soon as Ian and I found out and
broke that story on Friday morning, the moment that I
saw what it was, all I was thinking was, this
is the Eagles going up for Carson Wentz all over again,
and so you have to make one jump up and
then potentially make another jump up to get that ammunition.
So they now own the number eleven pick and the
number twenty three pick, depending what chart you're going off of,

that could potentially be enough to get close to the
top three, but you would need somebody else to want
to move, and you might need to outbid somebody else
who's also trying to get that high up in the
draft here. So you know, really at number one with Chicago,
especially after the Justin Fields trade, the assumption within the
league all along, but especially now is the bear stampat

they probably take Caleb Williams. Number two then is where
the draft really begins with the Washington Commanders. And I
think that anybody who says they know for sure what
the commanders are going to do is probably lying to you,
because they haven't really other than obviously going through the
process and sitting down with all the quarterbacks at the combine.
Josh Harris, who is the owner, is in those meetings.
Bob Myers, the former NBA general manager, who seems to

have his finger on everything that they're doing in the
football operation right now, he's a part of those meetings
as well. They're obviously doing their due diligence on those guys,
But to say that it's Drake May another North Carolina
quarterback a couple of years after they took Sam out,
where there could be Jayden Daniels. All that's kind of
uncertain here, And because number two is uncertain, that also
generates some uncertainty around number three, where the Patriots have

an obvious quarterback need, but they have to see exactly
how those first two paints fall. So there's a lot
of different things that could play out here in the
coming weeks. With Quasia Dofo Mensa, who's always they get
ahead on these things and strategizing, and he's got a
lot of deals that involved pick flops and future picks
and current picks, and he did that here. He gave
up a second round pick next year and this year's

second round pick to get that number twenty three overall pick.
Could they stand pat at eleven and twenty three and
take two really good players, Jared, That's certainly a possibility here,
But I think it's also an acknowledgment at minimum that
we're getting even those top three quarterbacks. If you're talking
about let's say the fourth quarterback, right, it's JJ McCarthy.
That guy might not be there at number eleven either,

So we at least want to have the flexibility to
move up. You do that by making an early trade. That,
by the way, we allows Nick Casario to do with
Bill Belichick and Nick and everybody did in New England
for years, which is stock buy all those second round
picks right.

Speaker 2 (44:30):
Back, Hey, Tom, And this is just me, I mean,
just a radar kind of going off a little bit.
The Cleveland Browns, they've got dtr and the roster they
add Jamis and now they just signed Snoop Huntley. Right,
They've got three quarterbacks from four quarterbacks who've actually started
games now on that roster. Are we sure that Deshaun
Watson is on schedule to return medically? I mean, just

seeing all these quarterbacks being added, all of a sudden.
Is this one of those things that to all of
us journalists that kind of set off a little bit
of a maybe a bit of an alarm, if you
want to call it an alarm.

Speaker 3 (45:01):
I don't think it's that. But why are they all
of a sudden signing all these guys?

Speaker 11 (45:06):
Well, it needed four starting quarterbacks to get through last season,
Steep Andrew Barrys having an acknowledgement today, you can't have
enough guys on the roster, enough guys to know the
former Pro Bowl quarterback Snoop Untley, by the way he
was sitting out there, haven't seen his deal yet to
imagine it's a minimum type of a deal to bring

him in with DTR. He saw the good and the
bad oft DTR. I mean, there's reasons that they went
and got Joe Flacco and they didn't stick to DTR.

Speaker 3 (45:34):
I was at his first win in Cleveland.

Speaker 11 (45:36):
You know, he made a couple of plays, but he
missed a lot of throws in that game as well,
So you know he's a developmental type of a guy. There. Again,
it took a lot of quarterbacks to get through last season.
Sean Watson, everything I've heard is that everything is on
schedule in terms of his recovery, He's battle a lot
of injuries. You know, he's been beat up. He was
beat up last season. That wasn't the only injury that

he had here, So being able to have a dish
guys in you're gonna bring four quarterbacks to camp anyway,
and based on the Browns recent history here, why not
have it be four guys who all have starting experience.
In the event that something happens and you end up
meeting more than one.

Speaker 1 (46:13):
There you go, all right, Hey, Tom speaking home of
the Marrier, Tom, when amboad to hear from the insiders again,
boy be.

Speaker 11 (46:20):
Sources say we'll be back Monday and Tuesday one pm
Eastern time. I believe that's right. That's what says on
the screen live from the NFL meetings in Orlando, Florida.
So we'll have we'll talk to head coaches, GMS. I'm
sure some owners will stop by the set as well.
Me Ian Round, Poor Mike Grifolo, Judy Bautista live and

on the scene. There's always a lot of news that
happens at the time of year. There's gonna be rule
Chamber us, some pretty big ones like Kickoff that are
gonna get discussed there as well, So we'll be breaking
it all down. We'll be wearing sunblock, We'll be having
a good time out there, slowly melting in our suits. Orlando, Florida,
can't wait the insiders back then.

Speaker 3 (46:59):
Hey, Tom, I'll also be there.

Speaker 2 (47:00):
You know, if I can get a ride on the
set to to maybe make an appearance, you know that
that'd be awesome. So I will see you down at
Orlando on There we go, Hey, there we go.

Speaker 3 (47:11):
Let's do it.

Speaker 2 (47:11):
And when we come back from the break, what are
some teams we haven't really been talking about that maybe
have made some subtle moves that could help New York
Jets be part of that with with without Aaron Rodgers, JP,
we come back on the NFL report, We're gonna wrap
things up with some things that will make you go, hmmm,

are we here.

Speaker 3 (47:41):
To close out the NFL orports Eve Whites and James
Palmer and JP.

Speaker 2 (47:45):
You know, during all this free agency and all this
offseason action, one that it's quietly gone under the radar
is that Jets have brought in Hyron Smith and tackle
Morgan Moses to help out Aaron Rodgers. I think they
quietly have positioned themselves to be better. But what about
another team of the AFC that might be leaving their
quarterback hanging Based on some of the free agent activity.

Speaker 1 (48:06):
And watching the Charger Steve with these four players that
were all massive cap hits. Joey Bosa ends up restructuring,
Khalil mackrestructures, they stay. Both receivers are gone in Mike
Williams and Keenan Allen. Now it's Quentin Jefferson. I think
Johnston and Joshua Palmer no relation. But I do love
where they sit in the draft, Steve sitting there at five.

If something happens and Tom was breaking this down to
us with picks three and four ahead of them, possibly
and there's some quarterback shuffling or needs, they can either
get the best receiver in the draft. They can have
a needy position at five and trade back and still
get a receiver and maybe get more assets. But I
think it's been interesting to see how the Chargers have
found their way, and I don't think they're done. I

think they're a main reason why we continue to evaluate
this process as the offseason goes on, because there's a
shock right now. But let's just see how it plays out.

Speaker 3 (48:56):
Very good point. Don't forget to check out the NFL Thursday.
We've got a big show coming right here. We've got people.

Speaker 2 (49:04):
We're gonna be talking a lot more draft with those
two handsome.

Speaker 3 (49:07):
Guys, Nave Falmer t Whites to be with you.

Speaker 2 (49:09):
We are also a podcast, JP great show. Want to
think Jason Light, Eric Kennerson, Tom Pella Sero and you
the viewers.

Speaker 3 (49:17):
And the listeners for checking us out.

Speaker 5 (49:20):
Steve's going USC's Pro Day. He'll be there.
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