Some snap reactions on a busy NFL Free Agency Eve …
· The Cowboys have been trying to trade quarterback Tony Romo, but they keep running into the same problems. Nobody wants to give up a lot in terms of picks or players and take on Romo’s contract, which includes a $14 million salary next year. Romo would have to facilitate a restructure, limiting suitors to teams he’d want to play for. That appears to be the Broncos, who had put out signals a trade was a no-go, or the Texans, who have a defense, young skill group and location they can sell. In the end, releasing Romo, as they’re expected to Thursday, instead of holding out for compensation is owner Jerry Jones’ call. The unique, tight relationship between those two had some in the league speculating months ago that this is how it would end.
· Should Romo end up in Denver, don’t be surprised if the Jets call about Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian. He had some bright moments in 14 starts a year ago and is on the books for minimum base salaries the next two seasons. The Broncos traded up in the first round for Paxton Lynch last year, so if anyone goes, it’s Siemian. Another possible Jets trade target: Eagles veteran Chase Daniel. But does a 30-year-old career backup really make sense as even a placeholder starter on a rebuilding team?
· The Dwayne Allen trade makes sense for everyone involved, even if the natural reaction is to assume Bill Belichick is going to come out on top. The Colts just invested in fellow tight end Jack Doyle, who agreed to a three-year, $18.9 million contract that includes $9.5 million in guarantees. They have other places to resources. And the Patriots – seemingly certain to pass on a bidding war for Martellus Bennett – get a bargain if Allen can stay healthy (which has a problem), since he’s due just $5 million each of the next two years. Look for the Patriots to switch up the way Allen is used and let him do some of everything.
· It won’t get much attention, but the 49ers agreeing to terms with fullback Kyle Juszczyk on a reported four-year, $21 million deal was critical for getting new coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense off the ground. Scouts marveled at how the Falcons (with Shanahan as their offensive coordinator) made the run and pass look alike on their way to Super Bowl LI. The 49ers don’t have that type of weaponry, even after a spending spree that’s also expected to include receiver Pierre Garcon. But in Juszczyk, they get a guy who can play as an inline tight end, a lead blocker in the outside zone running game and even a third-down halfback. That’s the type of versatility that lets Shanahan run the same stuff out of myriad packages and makes his offense harder to defend.
· When the Bills benched Tyrod Taylor the same week Rex Ryan was fired, the plan was to let the next coach, not just management, have a voice in Taylor’s fate. So, consider the decision to restructure Taylor’s contract instead of declining his option the first stamp of the Sean McDermott era. Bringing in two veteran fullbacks (Patrick DiMarco and Mike Tolbert) is the second. Players complained the offense lacked an identity before coordinator Greg Roman was fired early last season. Pretty obvious what it is now.
· Lost in the daydreams (and they’re good ones) about Brandon Marshall lining up in the same Giants receiver group as Odell Beckham Jr. is this: How will those two fit together in the locker room and on the sideline? Remember, Marshall – who agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal – has gone from a troubled young player to a mental health advocate and media star over 11 seasons with four (now five) teams. He still doesn’t rub everyone the right way, though. Beckham is as talented as anyone in the league, but he can be volatile. The dynamic between those two bears watching.
· If there’s one market (besides fullback!) that has blown NFL people’s minds, it’s along the offensive line. Look for guard Kevin Zeitler to lead the charge of players cashing in at upwards of $10 million a year.