The most underrated part of the NFL Combine is all the rumors that come out about impending free agents. This is also when players meet with teams for the first time. This year’s combine gave everyone insight on how some of the biggest dominos of the offseason can fall.
Two of the biggest pieces that could shape the entire offseason for multiple teams are Tom Brady and Tua Tagovailoa. Brady’s free agency and where Tua gets drafted can have a ripple effect on the entire league. There have been multiple reports on where the two can end up. If both Brady and Tagovailoa end up playing for these teams, the league could be completely different from how we look at it right now.
Tom Brady signs with the Tennessee Titans
“If you can’t beat them, join them!” How insane would it be for Brady to join the team that gave him his earliest playoff elimination since 2008? Not that crazy when it is broken down.
It is no secret that there is dysfunction in the New England Patriots organization at the quarterback position. Head Coach Bill Belichick was ready to ship out Tom Brady and was ready to appoint (now 49ers starting quarterback) Jimmy Garrapolo their starting quarterback moving forward when the two hit free agency in the 2018 offseason. Instead, the Patriots traded away Garrapolo to the San Fransisco 49ers for a second-round pick. They later went on to the next two Super Bowls under Brady losing to the Philadelphia Eagles and beating the Los Angeles Rams.
The reason why Brady is still with the Patriots is because owner Robert Kraft who adores him, does not want him to leave and play elsewhere. Why would he? Brady had give Kraft six Super Bowl rings and helped Kraft’s team get recognized as one of the most dominant in the history of the league. But it comes to a point where Kraft must realize Brady is going to be 43 at the beginning of next season and cannot play at the level he once did. It also is not a smart idea to invest $30 million a year to a quarterback of his age with so many holes on the roster.
The Tennessee Titans were the cinderella story of the NFL Playoffs. Sneaking in at 9-7, the Titans upset Brady’s Patriots and league MVP Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens. Ryan Tannehill who came in and gave the Titans the boost they needed to get them that far is a free agent. If the Titans could get Brady for the same price tag as Ryan Tannehill, what is stopping them from offering Brady that contract on March 18? The Titans’ situation is extremely similar to the 2017 Vikings. They had the opportunity to upgrade Case Keenum to Kirk Cousins. What is holding back the Titans from upgrading Ryan Tannehill to Tom Brady?
This Titans’ regime has been no stranger to bringing in former Patriots to play for them (Dion Lewis, Malcom Butler, Logan Ryan). Why not continue the trend by bringing in the greatest Patriot of all time Tom Brady? Brady would also be in a familiar system with coaches he has worked with in the past. His good friend and former teammate Mike Vrabel will be his new head coach. Tom Brady’s best chance to win his seventh Super Bowl could possibly be in Nashville.
Tua Tagovailoa gets drafted 2nd overall by the Washington Redskins
It wasn’t until the NFL Combine that speculation of Tua Tagovailoa getting drafted second overall was a possibility. Everyone seemingly had Joe Burrow getting drafted first by the Bengals and Chase Young getting drafted second by the Redskins. Now that reports are out that the Redskins are reevaluating the quarterback position under their new coaching staff and regime, Tagovailoa could possibly be suiting up in burgundy and gold next season.
This news came as a shock, considering new head coach Ron Rivera’s passion for defense. With a can’t miss prospect like Chase Young on the board it is hard to think he is going to pass on a talent like that. When healthy, Tagovailoa is also considered a can’t miss talent, being compared to greats like Drew Brees and Steve Young. If he becomes half the player both of them where, he would be worthy of the second overall pick.
The only knock on Tagovailoa as a prospect is his health. He has had a very hard time staying healthy, as he sustained multiple injuries in this past season alone. But the reason why this pick would be questioned is that the Redskins drafted quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the first round of last year’s draft. Haskins was taken to be their future franchise quarterback. Haskins had a rough first season. He went 2-5 as a starter and threw seven touchdowns in and seven interceptions. In his two wins, he had zero touchdowns and one interception.
If the Redskins take Tagovailoa, he can battle Haskins to see who will be the future quarterback or they can just trade Haskins on the day of the draft. This would be unfortunate for Haskins, but not unheard of. This same situation happened to Josh Rosen in Arizona last offseason. Rosen was traded from the Cardinals to the Dolphins after they selected Kyler Murray first overall, a year after they took him with their first round pick. This seemed to work for the Cardinals and could work the Redskins.
Haskins might not be Ron Rivera’s guy at quarterback and Rivera might not feel like he has to make it work with Haskins, because the past regime selected him to be the guy. After evaluating rookie quarterbacks and veteran free agents it is likely the Redskins go in a different direction at starting quarterback.
Consequences of these moves:
Ryan Tannehill signs a 2 year $45 million deal with the Carolina Panthers
Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman reports that teams believe the Panthers are looking to move off of Cam Newton and could look at Ryan Tannehill at a replacement. Even after having the year he did, Tannehill could find himself as a bridge quarterback if he doesn’t land back in Tennessee. Even though he might feel he deserves a long term deal, he might earn a short term deal with a lot of guaranteed money up front.
Cam Newton traded to the Los Angeles Chargers for a 2nd round pick (#38)
If Cam Newton is to hit the trade market, his value would be very high considering he is a few years removed from an MVP and is still a top-20 quarterback. Realistically speaking, Newton would only get moved if they fully embrace the rebuild and rely on a bridge quarterback next season. The three teams that come to mind are the Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders and Indianapolis Colts. Both the Raiders and Colts have an option going forward to next year if they do not acquire a new signal caller. After announcing that they will relinquish Philip Rivers, the Chargers are in desperate need of a quarterback for next year. The Chargers also want a quarterback that will put fans at their games and could potentially bring their team to a wild card spot next season. Cam Newton fits that mold perfectly.
Teddy Bridgewater signs a 4 year $122 Million Deal with the New England Patriots
It seems like the Patriots would struggle to find Brady’s successor if he was to sign elsewhere. However, it would be foolish to think they would not have a contingency plan if that were to occur. For any young quarterback, the New England Patriots would likely be one of the most attractive destinations. The Patriots have a Hall of Fame head coach, an elite defense, an efficient running game and likely will have young weapons to surround their quarterback with. Potential veteran options to replace Brady out of house include Andy Dalton, Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston. Bridgewater will likely be the most coveted of the veteran options and would fit in well with the Patriots culture and offense if he were to sign there.
Chase Young is drafted 3rd overall by the Detroit Lions
This would be a dream come true for the Detroit Lions! The Lions are in desperate need of a pass rusher, even after adding Trey Flowers last offseason, they need another lineman off the edge to create pressure. Young is a freak athlete who would be the first overall pick in most drafts. But with quarterbacks going off the board with the first two picks, Young would fall into the Lions’ lap at the third pick. Many teams could offer the world to Lions to be able to select Young, but the smarter play is to take Young to become the franchise centerpiece on the defensive side of the ball. This could be one of the biggest draft steals of all time if Young makes it to the Lions selection third overall.
Justin Herbert is drafted 5th overall by the Miami Dolphins
This might seem like a loss for the Dolphins, considering the mission for the year was to get in position to draft Tua Tagovailoa. Not tanking well enough and having to settle for the third best quarterback on the board might be a bust. However, this might be what the Dolphins want all along. In recent weeks there has been speculation that the Dolphins might prefer Herbert over Tagovailoa. It has been reported by Safid Deen of the Sun-Sentinel that the meeting was “weird” and “no one seemed excited” from the Dolphins representatives. This seems similar to when the Giants selected Daniel Jones over Dwayne Haskins last year. Tagovailoa is a superior prospect to all of them, but if the Dolphins feel Herbert is their guy they should take him. Since Tagovailoa would be selected earlier, they don’t have the choice between the two, but now they do not have to trade up to get their guy. It would be smart for the Dolphins to start Fitzpatrick next season and let Herbert redshirt his rookie season, until they can surround him with better pieces.
Mekhi Becton is drafted 6th overall by the Los Angeles Chargers
Since the Chargers figured out their quarterback situation, they can now address their next biggest need with their first-round pick. The Chargers have one of the worst offensive lines in football, especially at the tackle positions. No matter who plays quarterback going forward, they should immediately address the offensive line to make sure they are protected and have time to get the ball out to their many weapons. Since the Chargers traded for Cam Newton, they could address offensive line with their first selection. It will be a toss up to see who is the first tackle off the board Jedrick Wills or Mekhi Becton. Becton had an outstanding freakish combine, which will solidify that he will be selected in the top-10 picks at least. The Chargers would love to have him possibly sit behind Russell Okung for a year or start opposite him. Becton could be the Chargers left tackle for the next 10-12 years.
Jordan Love is drafted 7th overall by the Carolina Panthers
It is crazy that three of the top quarterback prospects are off the board by fifth overall. This will rise Jordan Love’s stock and will make him a top-10 pick. The next quarterback-needy team is the Carolina Panthers who have traded away former franchise quarterback Cam Newton and signed Ryan Tannehill as a bridge quarterback. Tannehill is efficient enough to start 16 games in Carolina and keep them away from embarrassment. This would be a perfect fit for Love. Love has been deemed a ‘poor mans Patrick Mahomes’ and like Mahomes he will likely need a year off to get used to the speed of the NFL game. Matt Rhule is instilling a long-term rebuild in Carolina and selecting a developmental quarterback seventh overall seems like the right thing to do. They also now have two second round picks to fill other needs across their roster like at tight end or defensive line.
Jeffery Okudah is drafted 8th overall by the Dallas Cowboys (via Arizona Cardinals)
If Tagovailoa is selected second overall, the biggest name effected by this, besides Dwayne Haskins, is Jeffery Okudah. Okudah fell victim to teams needing quarterbacks and tackles and fell all the way to eighth overall where the Cowboys had to pounce and get him. Okudah is one of the three best players in the entire draft and that was before his amazing combine. He compares very well to Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots. If Okudah plays anything like Gilmore did this past year he would be such a huge upgrade over Byron Jones for the Cowboys. Trading up to eighth overall won’t be cheap for America’s team. The Cowboys would realistically trade the 17th overall pick and their first-round pick in 2021 to Arizona to select Okudah. People inside the Cowboys organization feel they are on the cusp of a Super Bowl and need to make aggressive moves fast in order to win now. Arizona will retain the assets of the Cowboys and continue to load their team out with young talent so that way they can try to contend in the near future.
Trent Williams traded to the Minnesota Vikings for a 1st round pick (#25) & Riley Reiff
Drafting Tagovailoa second overall doesn’t exactly result in this trade, however, this is a realistic one that could happen none the less. Trent Williams sat out the entire 2019-20 NFL season due to injury and has refused to play for the Washington Redskins. Williams is an impending free agent next season and has had his name on the trade block since the beginning of the season. The Vikings biggest needs are their offensive line and to revamp the older positions on their defense. With the 25th overall pick the Vikings aren’t likely going to get a player that will make the difference in winning a Super Bowl next year, so why not trade for one. Trent Williams has been Kirk Cousins left tackle back when they played in Washington and is a huge upgrade over Riley Reiff. Williams wants no part of the Redskins and this trade gives them a second pick between no. 2 and 66 overall. Plus Riley Reiff is a serviceable left tackle.
Dwayne Haskins traded to the Green Bay Packers for a 2nd round pick (#62) & Josh Jackson
Dwayne Haskins might have a similar offseason to what Josh Rosen had last year. If that is the case it is going to be rough for Haskins. conveniently enough Rosen was traded away for the 62nd overall pick last year. Rosen went to a team trending down, that was looking for a franchise quarterback and it didn’t work. Haskins goes to a different kind of team this offseason. The Packers gave Aaron Rodgers a running game and a defense and he still couldn’t get it done. The blame shouldn’t all be on Rodgers, but he deserves more blame than he’s been receiving. Rodgers is 36 and hasn’t been healthy in a few years. By no means is Haskins the quarterback that Rodgers is right now. But it might be time to start developing a young quarterback behind Rodgers. Rodgers has an opt out in 2022 and it might be better for the Packers and Rodgers to split at that time. Josh Jackson is the cherry on top. Being a former second-round pick who never really got his chance to start for the Packers, the Redskins have a glaring need at corner even before they cut Josh Norman. If Haskins has a cannon, he can work on his mechanics and limit his interceptions he can look more like Rodgers.
Josh Rosen traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a 3rd (#75) and 6th round pick (#185)
Unless the Indianapolis Colts sign a veteran that they like, draft a developmental quarterback or retain confidence in Jacoby Brissett they are going to need to explore the trade market. When the Dolphins select a quarterback in the first round they are no longer going to need Josh Rosen anymore. Even though Rosen has not had seemingly any success in his career, he was a former first-round pick and was supposed to be a good quarterback in this league. The problem with Arizona and Miami was the fact that both teams were bottom in the league in surrounding talent. The Colts are arguably the opposite, as they have all the talent, but they are lacking a quarterback. For the Colts who have so much draft capital, trading away a third and sixth round pick to take a flyer on a once highly touted quarterback is worth it.