The Los Angeles Rams acquire Matthew Stafford from Detroit.
Detroit acquires Jared Goff plus a ransom from the Rams for Stafford: a third-round pick this year, and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023.
Decision 1: Rams. Jared Goff out, Matthew Stafford in.
Decision 2: Lions. Stafford out, Goff in.
Dallas signs Dak Prescott to a four-year, $160-million contract extension.
Decision 3: Cowboys. Andy Dalton out, Dak Prescott in (through 2024).
New England re-signs Cam Newton for one year . . . but still could be in the draft market for a quarterback.
Decision 4: Patriots. Cam Newton in, but New England scouts rookie QBs hard.
Decision 5: Saints. Drew Brees out, Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston the heir.
Decision 6: WFT: Alex Smith out, Ryan Fitzpatrick in.
Houston signs Tyrod Taylor to a one-year contract. Four weeks later, it looks more and more likely that he’ll be the Texans’ quarterback in 2021.
Decision 7: Texans. Deshaun Watson status TBD, Tyrod Taylor in as a likely September starter.
Chicago signs Andy Dalton to a one-year deal, days after the team tried to acquire Russell Wilson but didn’t have the ammo to do so.
Decision 8: Bears. Mitchell Trubisky out, Andy Dalton in.
Indianapolis, eight weeks after the retirement of Philip Rivers, acquires Carson Wentz from Philadelphia for a third-round pick this year and a second-rounder that could become a first-rounder in 2022.
Decision 9: Colts. Philip Rivers out, Carson Wentz in.
Philadelphia, barring an upset that would land Deshaun Watson in Philadelphia, commits to Jalen Hurts as its 2021 quarterback. The Eagles will have at least two first-round picks in a more certain draft (2022) and could have a third if Wentz plays 75 percent of the Colts’ offensive snaps in 2021, which seems likely.
Decision 10: Eagles. Carson Wentz out, Jalen Hurts in.
San Francisco trades from 12th overall in the first round to third overall with Miami, with the intent of taking a quarterback of the future there. The Niners, for at least a year, would like to keep Jimmy Garoppolo as starter insurance.
Decision 11: 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo more likely than not staying, TBD rookie quarterback in.
Miami acquires the Niners’ 2022 and 2023 first-round picks by moving to 12. Just 26 minutes after making the trade with San Francisco, Miami trades the 12th pick plus the Dolphins’ first-rounder in 2022 to Philadelphia for the sixth overall pick, moving in position to get one of the four top receiving weapons.
Decision 12a: Dolphins. Tua Tagovailoa staying, likely getting solid shot in 2021 and ’22 to be Miami’s long-term QB.
Decision 12b: Dolphins. Jacoby Brissett in as a prime backup, and Brian Flores won’t be shy about playing him if Tua struggles.
Jacksonville semi-confirms the inevitable, with coach Urban Meyer saying drafting Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick “is certainly the direction we’re headed.”
Decision 13: Jaguars. Gardner Minshew out, Trevor Lawrence in.
Carolina trades for Sam Darnold and is likely to exercise his fifth-year option, meaning that he’s probably on a two-year trial with the Panthers. Panthers gave up picks in the second, fourth and sixth rounds over ’21 and ’22.
Decision 14: Panthers. Teddy Bridgewater out, Sam Darnold in.
The New York Jets, by moving Darnold, all but ensure the picking of BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the second overall pick in the draft.
Decision 15: Jets. Darnold out, Zach Wilson (likely) in.
As for the teams with decisions to make between now and training camp:
Atlanta has the fourth pick in the draft, with Matt Ryan slated to play his 14th season this year at 36. Three years left on his contract—or two years plus a $15.6-million cap hit if the team cuts him after 2022. Ryan told me two years ago he wanted to play into his forties. Question for new Falcons hierarchy (GM Terry Fontenot, coach Arthur Smith): Do you believe Ryan can take you to a Super Bowl? If so, you trade down from the fourth pick in the first round or sit at four and take the best player in the draft who’s not a quarterback. If you don’t believe it, you take the best quarterback available this year—because it may be years before you have a top-five pick in a quarterback-heavy draft again.
Decision 16: Falcons. Do they commit to Ryan or do they draft his successor?
Pittsburgh has not fortified the position of heir to 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger, unless you trust Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins to be the heir—and I doubt sincerely the Steelers do. Could be Teddy Bridgewater buyers, but his $22.9-million and $26-million cap numbers are nightmarish for an acquiring team, and the Panthers would likely have to eat some of the money to enable a deal to happen.
Decision 17: Steelers. No one trustworthy is behind Roethlisberger. Best guess: Steelers will delay big decision till 2022.
Denver, with the ninth pick in the draft, has had a presence at every pre-draft quarterback workout, new GM George Paton’s staff has been fact-finding up a storm with the top passers, and could be in play to pick a passer in the top 10. Could be in play, too, to trade the pick, with Paton schooled in the Vikings’ never-met-a-draft-trade-they-didn’t-like ethos. Whatever the Broncos do, Drew Lock’s hold on the starting job is tenuous.
Decision 18: Broncos. Denver needs a QB of the future, but the Broncos might be able to trade back for draft capital they can’t refuse.
Seattle: This is either crazy or logical, I don’t know which. But the Seahawks had more than one team inquire about trading for Russell Wilson, and nothing ever got close, and I don’t see the scenario of Wilson being dealt re-emerging till February 2022.
Decision 19: Seahawks. Seattle, barring a mega-offer before August, enters 2021 with Wilson the starting quarterback.
Houston sits on Deshaun Watson, whose pressing legal problems make a trade very unlikely. One club exec with significant interest in Watson asked me the other day: “What’s your gut feeling on the market for Watson right now? Would anyone do a deal now?” I said I just can’t see it. How? How possibly do you trade for a guy, particularly sometime in the 17 days before the draft when so many quarterback decisions are being made, with 22 women accusing him of sexual impropriety? And how do you make such a deal knowing the league could/probably will suspend Watson for at least part of the 2021 season? Three bad things for Houston GM Nick Caserio, who basically is running an expansion team:
- Caserio doesn’t get the benefit of any added 2021 draft capital to use this year.
- The Texans, the only NFL team with zero picks in the top 60 this year, have precious little ammo to rebuild in 2021.
- The ability to trade Watson for anything close to 70 cents on the dollar has vanished.
Decision 20 / Backstopping decision 7: Texans. Tyrod Taylor likely to start the season as Houston’s starter. That’s all we can project right now.