To QB or not to QB … With apologies to Will Shakespeare,we are in the midst of the silly season in the NFL between the Super Bowl and scouting combine which gets underway next week in Indianapolis. In fact, there are rumors of at least a couple of pretty big deals regarding QBs old and young around the league. On the one hand, there is growing buzz that if Washington can’t work out a long-term deal with free-agent-to-be starting QB Kirk Cpusins before the start of the new NFL season, then the Redskins will hit him with a franchise tag with the idea of trading him away. And San Francisco is the team most often associated with such an arrangement with Washington, although it likely will cost the 49ers the #2 pick overall in this coming April’s draft. Kaepernick had reached out to Lynch shortly after he was hired last month.
Of course, if San Francisco can’t land a viable veteran signal caller in free agency, they will have other options at the position, one of which could very well be incumbent starter Colin Kaepernick. Indeed, new 49ers’ GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan met with Kaepernick earlier today and said said that they had a “very positive discussion.” Kaepernick, though, is still expected to opt out of the final year of his contract next week before free agency begins March 9th. Even if Kaepernick doesn’t opt out, the 49ers will almost certainly release him to avoid paying him a $14.5 million base salary in 2017, but they could negotiate another deal. Lynch also made it clear today that if they can’t find a viable veteran QB, they will not reach for a QB with the 2nd pick overall.
Meanwhile, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report wrote today that he has heard from at least three NFL executives who are hearing that “several” teams around the league are in the process of preparing to make a blockbuster offer for New England back-up QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Of course, reports of interest in Garoppolo have been circulating for several weeks now, but this is the first to suggest that teams could seriously be considering trading a lottery pick for his services. It may also suggest, if true – and remember this is smoke and mirrors season – that there are teams thinking that Garoppolo may be be a better option for their long-term QB issues than any of the top prospects available in the 2017 draft. Unfortunately, Freeman’s report didn’t specify which teams are plotting to acquire Garoppolo, but the usual suspects are Cleveland, San Francisco and Chicago, which have the first three picks, respectively, in this year’s draft.
Speaking of Chicago, the Bears have reportedly been shopping QB Jay Cutler for over a month. And it is probably no surprise that it doesn’t sound like the Bears have gotten any nibbles especially given that Cutler has as a minimum salary cap figure of $12.5M. As a result, the Bears are expected to release Cutler before the start of the new season.
Getting back to Garoppolo for a moment; of course, only one team can trade for him meaning that the others may be forced to look back to the draft. And while he is hardly an unbiased source, Clemson QB DeShaun Watson claims that teams are telling him that they think he is a top 5 prospect. Time will tell. Meanwhile, the hottest QB in this year’s iffy year at QB appears to be Texas Tech’s Pat Mahomes. Mahomes reportedly got a second round grade from the NFL’s special draft advisory committee, but is starting to get some legit first-round interest. Indeed, there is reportedly more than one team out there that rates Mahomes as the #1 QB prospect on their board; as well, as reported by Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns’ beat reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, there are at least a couple of teams currently thinking of moving up to draft Mahomes. Cabot also reported that if nothing else, Mahomes will be a busy guy after the combine as he already has 5 private workouts scheduled. It is also interesting to note that both Mahomes and Watson have announced that will do full workouts at next month’s scouting combine, including participating in the passing drills on March 4th.