NFL Season Predictions Part 1: Records

By Saransh Sharma, Rohan Krishnan, Pranav Thiriveedhi, and Nikhil Pradeep

The NFL season is upon us in just a few months and as of right now is set to take place as normal, with or without fans, the season will go on. With that in mind and the NFL Draft and most of free agency having taken place, we as a team make our first set of season predictions, starting with team records. Here are our predictions:

Saransh’s Division Predictions: NFC West and South

NFC West

  1. San Francisco 49ers

The defending NFC Champions stacked up their roster even more than last year. Despite losing on Emmanuel Sanders, they traded Deforest Buckner for a first-round pick, then traded up again to get Brandon Aiyuk to be the pass-catching replacement for Sanders, and they’re getting Jerick McKinnon back to add to their already deadly RB arsenal. They also added to their defense with that first-round draft pick, getting Javon Kinlaw to replace Deforest Buckner at defensive tackle. Yet again they will be an elite defense, and Jimmy Garoppolo has even more weapons to throw to. Expect a big season from San Fran. Record: 12-4

  1. Seattle Seahawks 

Seattle was about a half yard away from being the two seed in the NFC and NFC West Champions, yet instead ended up with the 5 seed in the NFC, and not getting any home games, having to play in Philly on Wild Card Weekend, have Wentz unfortunately get knocked out for Philly leaving them with Josh McCown, who had an inspired performance which nearly won them the game, and then Seattle had to play catch-up against Green Bay in the Divisional Round, but simply could not slow down Rodgers and Adams enough to win. This year, they will get unlucky again, this time with the division. I think that while they will be better than Arizona, they will struggle in their divisional games, as I have SF sweeping them, and them splitting with Arizona and LA. As good as they will play outside of their division, their division struggle will keep them away from the division title, narrowly putting them in the playoffs. Record: 10-6

  1. Arizona Cardinals

Last season, the team ended the season 5-10-1, most of their wins coming in their late-season surge when RB Kenyan Drake was traded to them and finally figured out how to run without fumbling. Drake now has been good for four career games, nice. This offseason, however, their trade for DeAndre Hopkins in which they just really gave up David Johnson, was a huge step in the right direction for a team that has not had success in the past 4 seasons. Kyler Murray to DeAndre, and a good defense? Yes, please. That being said, Hopkins could see frustrations due to his lack of targets with guys like Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald around, as Fitz was targeted 109 times last year, and Kirk had 108. That could lead to some mishaps along the way, which has me having them just a game out of the playoffs. Record: 9-7

  1. Los Angeles Rams

First off, before I go into my record prediction for the Rams, I just want to say, the Rams rebranding and new jerseys was a failure of epic proportions. I mean it is as if Best Buy and the Division II school Angelo State combined together and decided to team up to make jerseys and logos, having absolutely no idea what they are really doing. Anyways, as far as the Rams, the fall from one of the most exciting and best teams to watch in the NFL, to now a team that is fighting to make the playoffs, was a dramatic fall. In the end, Todd Gurley, who was the player that was injured which led to the downfall, has now been traded to the Atlanta Falcons. LA drafted Cam Akers to replace him, and the WR tandem of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp will be good, but the defense, like last year, will struggle with the offense not being able to produce too many points due to a struggling Jared Goff at QB. Record: 7-9


NFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints

Another season goes by and another controversial ending to a playoff exit. Yeah, the Saints really cannot catch a break. That being said, they are still the most talent-filled roster in the NFC, and they only got better by signing Emmanuel Sanders from the San Francisco 49ers, giving Drew Brees yet another passing option. The defense did not really change much, but getting LB Zach Baun as late as they did in the draft was a huge steal. Saints will have a really good regular season yet again, and hopefully for them, the postseason ends differently. Record: 13-3

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Still does not feel or sound right, but eventually we have to get used to it. Brady has the best wide receiver core he has ever had in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and do not forget that he got his best friend Rob Gronkowksi to join him. I only have them getting 10 wins, however, and just one seed ahead of Atlanta due to their defense. Apart from the linebacking core, the defense is a huge issue and will force the Bucs to lose a winnable game or two. They will be a playoff team, but not a strong one. Record: 10-6

  1. Atlanta Falcons

28-3. Since they had that lead in Super Bowl LI, Atlanta just has not had a single game in which they have played with confidence. That being said, their entire defense is healthy to start a season for the first time since Super Bowl LI, and they now have an elite running back in Todd Gurley, who should find his form. The only thing holding them back from not being ahead of New Orleans or Tampa in the South is their wide receiver core. Aside from Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, they do not have a game-changing tight end like New Orleans and Tampa do with Jared Cook and Gronk, respectively. That being said, they will be a very good team again and one to look out for this season. They will turn some heads and impress. Record: 10-6

  1. Carolina Panthers

A new coach, a new QB, and some other new offensive weapons, a lot of new in Carolina. Matt Rhule, Teddy Bridgewater, and Robby Anderson are the guys I am talking about that finally can help give Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore the help they need and take the weight off of their shoulders. That being said, this team has a bright future and is very young, but right now are too far behind the rest of the South and the NFC. They will be better, but not better enough to be a playoff team. Record: 7-9

Rohan’s Division Predictions: NFC East and North

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys disappointed last year with an 8-8 record and finally moved on from head coach Jason Garrett after 9 seasons. Their new head coach is Mike McCarthy who put together a fantastic coaching staff and I feel they will do a lot better this season. All of their key players are returning to one of the best offenses in the league and it even got a boost with the addition of receiver CeeDee Lamb. They did lose Robert Quinn but their defense is still solid on paper especially with the signings of Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy. With Dak and Zeke, I think Dallas will bounce back and become a top 5 team in the NFL this year. Record: 12-4

  1. Philadelphia Eagles

I’m not sure what to make of the Eagles’ questionable offseason. Their biggest needs were wide receiver and cornerback. They took care of the latter by acquiring top corner Darius Slay from the Lions. However, they did not help Carson Wentz much. They did draft receiver Jalen Reagor in the first round, but I feel they should have gone with Justin Jefferson, or be aggressive and trade up for Ruggs, Jeudy, or Lamb. Later in the second round, they go with quarterback Jalen Hurts which is a very puzzling and surprising move. Instead of getting more offensive firepower, they took a developmental quarterback which is a true head-scratcher. Philadelphia’s defensive line looks great, but their secondary still looks shaky. But due to the elite coaching staff and Carson Wentz, I see the Eagles nabbing a wild-card spot.  Record: 9-7

  1. New York Giants

The retooling Giants have definitely improved this offseason. They got themselves a brand new coaching staff with head coach Joe Judge leading the way. New York also has a loaded offense which is good for the development of second-year quarterback Daniel Jones. It consists of top running back Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Darius Slayton. However, this team is still very young and has a lot of holes to fill. Their offensive line should be better with the addition of Andrew Thomas, but it is still not good. They don’t have a pass rush either and need the young players on the defense to raise their game. They are heading in the right direction however and I see them building off on last year. Record: 6-10

  1. Washington Redskins

The Redskins are another team that is in the rebuilding stage and have made a lot of important moves. The big one is firing longtime team president Bruce Allen after a 10 year reign of terror.  This was a move that was long overdue and something the Redskins have hoped for a long time. It was a sign of a new era and they followed this up by hiring Ron Rivera which was an outstanding move. Washington needs a culture change and Rivera is the perfect man to take charge. Later on, they drafted Chase Young who is the best player in the draft. The defensive line looks filthy, consisting of players like Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, and Jonathan Allen. However, they lost seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams and the offensive line looks below average. The receiving core is also one of the worst in the league which does not bode well for Dwayne Haskins. Just like the Giants, the Redskins are trending upwards and will see improvement, but I can’t quite see them as a playoff team yet.  Record: 5-11

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers

Green Bay was absolutely dominant in the North last season. They went 6-0 against all division opponents and finished with a 13-3 record. The Packers lost the NFC Championship game due to their horrendous run defense which has been a problem all year. Despite not improving their defense over the offseason, I still see the Packers winning the division for the second straight year. Matt LaFleur was very impressive in his first year with the squad and Aaron Rodgers is still one of the best in the game. Aaron Jones and Davante Adams are also elite weapons for the Packers offense. However, the Packers surprisingly did not take a wide receiver in the draft which is one of their biggest needs. The team seems confident that their young receivers like Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling would take a leap. Packers fans were mad at the result of the draft, but I think they would be satisfied with another NFC North title. Record: 11-5

  1. Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota is another team that made the postseason and pulled off an upset in New Orleans. I expect them to compete heavily with the Packers for the NFC North crown this season, but I have them 2nd due to the many notable departures. They traded Stefon Diggs to the Bills who is arguably a top 10 wide receiver in the league, but they got a good return on it. Minnesota also lost key defensive pieces as Linval Joseph, Trae Waynes, and Xavier Rhodes all found new homes. However, Minnesota still has plenty of key pieces who were huge in their success last year. Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback despite his price tag and Adam Theilen is one of the most underrated receivers in the league. They also drafted Justin Jefferson in the first round to replace Diggs and he could turn out to be better than Diggs down the road. I think the Vikings will be neck and neck with the Packers, but I don’t think it will be enough. Record: 9-7

  1. Detroit Lions

The Lions are coming off a disappointing 3-12-1 season and have made the playoffs only three times since the turn of the century. They haven’t found much success under Matt Patricia but they are getting a healthy Matthew Stafford back and that is why I see them improving this year. The Detroit Lions were 3-3-1 when Matt Stafford got hurt and proceeded to lose every game from that point on. And this offseason, Patricia once again went out of his way to add defensive players that he likes and kick out the ones who he did not. The Lions did lose top corner Darius Slay but drafted Jeffrey Okudah with the 3rd overall pick who has a high upside, and signed a talented veteran in Desmond Trufant. I think the Lions will be a better team this year and in contention for a wild card spot. Record: 8-8

  1. Chicago Bears

After going 12-4 in 2018, the Bears slumped last season to an 8-8 record. Trubisky is showing signs of being a bust and Chicago went on to acquire quarterback Nick Foles from the Jaguars. In fact, I think Foles is the favorite to win the starting job. You could say it is an upgrade, but it is minimal at best. That being said, I do like what the Bears did this offseason. They improved at several positions including safety, pass rusher, and tight end. I really love the Cole Kmet pick and he could be one of the steals of the draft. On top of that, the defense is still one of the best in the league and to me, it is even better than their 2018 defense where they went 12-4. I see this team in contention for a playoff spot, but the quarterback position has me skeptical so I have them finishing last. Record: 7-9

Pranav’s Division Predictions: AFC East and North

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have been the most dominant team of the 2000s and 2010s under the leadership of future HOF quarterback Tom Brady and legendary coach Bill Belichick. The team has made it to the AFC Championships practically every year and made a run for the Super Bowl 8 times! But after a crazy start to the offseason (departure of Tom Brady), and a wicked hard schedule in front of them, Bill and the Pats have a long run ahead. The Patriots offense has been known for producing great QB talent outside of Tom Brady, such as Jimmy Garrapolo and Jacoby Brissett. Now, the Patriots will be led onto the field with Jarett Stidham under center and a young and talented team to join him. I think the Patriots will surprise the whole NFL community and make a run for the playoffs. Everyone is doubting them to even get close to a winning record, but not me. Record: 11-5

  1. Buffalo Bills

After a long 20 years, the Buffalo Bills are given the opportunity to win the division after the break-up of the New England Patriots. A new defense and a strong and track-team like offense is surely enough to throw some pain on opposing teams next year. Last year, the Bills ended the regular season with a 10-6 record with not much talent. The Bills have been sprouting up here and there over the past few years with playoff appearances, but with the entry of Stefon Diggs and the defensive talent of DB Tre’davious White booming last year, the Bills are sure to go on a run. A hyped up team can only go so far though, so let’s not hope that the hype turns into worry. If all goes well for the Bills Mafia from now to the start of the season, expect some fear in the AFC East. Record: 10-6

  1. New York Jets

The New York Jets have been the laughing stock of the AFC East for the last 10 years, with nothing good coming to the franchise, other than the signing of Le’veon Bell which really didn’t output to anything last year. After a miserable 0-4 start to the season last year and a late surge to a 7-9 record, the Jets need to change some parts or even all parts of their team. Their star player, Jamal Adams, who is the definite leader on the team is now on the trading block, so expect some worrisome to arise for the New York Jets. Unless the Jets go through some blockbuster change, I will have to put them down at a losing record. Record: 4-12

  1. Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins were also not the greatest team last year as well, suffering humiliating losses in the beginning of the season. Don’t even let me get started on that pathetic start of the season. 0-7? Are you kidding me? Aside from that, the Dolphins made a huge plus move with the drafting of Alabama hero Tua Tagovailoa, and expect him to start the season in week 1. Expect some trouble to arise in the first few weeks but a later pull down the road. An injury-prone star doesn’t mean much in the NFL, so if Tua can stay healthy and the Miami offense can catch up, I can see the Miami team hit a .500 record or a little bit above. Record: 8-8

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens are one of the NFL’s hottest teams, especially with the presence of MVP Lamar Jackson and his amazing performance last year. Baltimore was the ticket team to win the Super Bowl last year, but after an upset loss to the Tennessee Titans, Lamar Jackson is yet to win a playoff game. The Ravens will perform well this year too, but with the entry of the Steelers, Browns, and Bengals entering this highly-competitive division, expect a lot of confusion and turmoil to happen. The Ravens offense and defense are both incredible and in healthy shape, but if the other NFL teams have learned something from playing Lamar Jackson, we probably will see some slow down in the production of the Raven’s Offense. The Ravens will make the playoffs, but not show the same strength as last year. Record: 11-5

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh has been among the greatest teams in NFL history, but has taken the role as the number 2 or number 3 team in the AFC during the reign and era of the New England Patriots. After the departure of Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell, and the injury season for Big Ben, all hope seemed lost for the Steelers. But the Steelers were able to hold their ground and make a run to end with a 8-8 season. Now the Steelers have nothing to lose this season, so expect some role reversal in the team, especially with Big Ben coming back. I think the Steelers will definitely be a team to watch next year. Record: 10-6

  1. Cleveland Browns

After years of holding the spot as the worst team in the NFL, the Browns caught a break after drafting highly praised QB Baker Mayfield and signing on star wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. And with Nick Chubb in the backfield, many thought the Browns had turned everything around and were on the road to stardom. But last year, Cleveland underperformed everyone’s prediction for the new team, performing poorly throughout the season, ending with a 6-10 record. It’s hard to see if they can get out of this disastrous drought, but hopefully they can. If all goes well, and Baker proves his worth, I can see the Browns have a turnaround season. Record: 9-7

  1. Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals! The Bengals are one of the most talked about teams pre-draft and post-draft and were in total shambles. Over the years, Cincinnati has been known for it’s mind-blowing playoff drought. Sometimes they make the playoffs and sometimes they don’t even come close, but now we all question the team’s ability to even win a single game. Last season, the Bengals finished with a horrendous 2-14 record, with some criticizers wondering how they were even able to win those two games. Whatever it may be, the Bengals needed a change, and they got what they wanted when they used to first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to pick up Joe Burrow, star quarterback from LSU. Joe Burrow is certainly a well-polished and talented QB prospect who was able to bring the NCAA championship to LSU over the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and many more talented programs across the nation. But is Joe Burrow the next Tom Brady, will he be the saviour for the miserable Cincinnati team? My answer is maybe. Joe Burrow has the talent to pull a whole team around but I don’t think he can do it by himself, certainly not this season. Cincinnati has shown no effort into picking up instrumental pieces to support Joe Burrow next season, so until the Bengals do that, they will finish last in the AFC North. Record: 6-10

Nikhil’s Division Predictions: AFC West and South

AFC West

  1. Kansas City Chiefs

It’s hard to bet against the Chiefs in any sort of scenario, and that isn’t going to change for the 2020-2021 season. Having made no real moves, for good or for bad, the team shapes up to be more or less the same in terms of poignancy and ability to make big-time plays on offense. They’re defense could be a small question mark since there’s always room for improvement, however when you have Mahomes, Kelce, Hill, and such on the other side of the ball, it becomes more of a nitpick more than anything. Expect them to make a deep playoff run, and potentially contend for another championship. Record: 13-3

  1. Las Vegas Raiders

After coming off a 7-9 season, the Raiders have sort of leveled off in terms of boom or bust potential. They are consistently average, which to be fair, is better than being horrible. However, with a new location, new stadium, and many new offseason additions, the Raiders can definitely become a moderate force within the AFC. People like Jason Witten, Nelson Agholor can breathe new life into a rather stagnant offense in prior years. And the additions of Cory Littleton, Eli Apple and Jeff Heath among others can bolster a defense that is already pretty decent. The biggest motivating factor for this team however is the addition of Marcus Mariota. Both him and Derek Carr are in my mind top tier quarterbacks at their best, and the competition that will inevitably arise between the two during training camp will easily push both of them to perform at their best during the season, regardless of who starts. We can expect to see an improved Raiders team next season, but the question remains, by how much? Record: 9-7 

  1. Denver Broncos

The Broncos have been under .500 for the last 3 seasons, and the team attempted to remedy that situation with a few notable additions to their roster. The biggest, and most polarizing, was the addition of Melvin Gordon from the Los Angeles Chargers, which when paired with Phillip Lindsay can be a devastating backfield for opponents to handle. This coupled with their draft pick Jerry Jeudy gives QB Drew Lock a slew of options, something absolutely needed for his development and potential. The Broncos defense has been a staple of their team, flaunting big names such as Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, and that doesn’t change at all for next season either. However, I don’t think it’s enough to contend for a playoff spot, and it might not be at the level that the Raiders could be at in terms of quality. Expect another average record for the Broncos next season. Record: 7-9

  1. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are a very hard read at this stage of the NFL offseason. On one hand, they’ve lost Phillip Rivers, the face of the franchise for the majority of the past years, as well as Melvin Gordon, who was one of the most reliable backs for the team since the days of LaDainian Thomlinson. On the other hand, they’ve kept integral pieces such as Keenan Allen and Joey Bosa, and improved an already great defense by adding Chris Harris. The big deciding factor here is the QB position, which looks to be in the hands of journeyman Tyrod Taylor, however the Chargers also have high hopes for their first-round draft pick, Justin Herbert. We can fully expect for Taylor to be pulled the instant he seems unserviceable, however there simply are too many question marks around this team’s offense to be definitive about it’s production. Defense is great, but I don’t think it’s great enough to save the offense in the event that it slips up. Expect a lot of growing pains from the team next season: Record: 6-10

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans

Ok I know, Deandre Hopkins being dealt was one of the dumbest trades I’ve seen in a long time. I myself wondered what Bill O’Brien was thinking, even with the two’s rocky relationship being exposed. However, there is still a lot to like with this Texans team, and frankly given the state of the rest of the division, they still seem like the front-runners of the group, albeit a bit less far in front as last year. They’ve added names like Randall Cobb, Brandin Cooks, Darren Fells, David Johnson, Eric Murray, and Bradley Roby, among others. This, combined with the unreal playmaking ability of Deshawn Watson, as well as the never-ending reign of JJ Watt results in what can still be a devastating team for opponents. What seems to be the real deciding factor in this case is the locker room talk. Egos of coaches and players need to be put to the side in order to propel this team forward, and frankly, out of Hopkins’ shadow. I can see this team doing really well if they put everything back together properly. Record: 11-5

  1. Indianapolis Colts

Ever since the retirement of Andrew Luck at the beginning of last season, the Indianapolis Colts have been scrambling for answers. Finishing with a 7-9 record after such a sudden shock is fairly commendable, and they have gotten MILES better since then. Having found their solution at the QB position in Phillip Rivers, the Colts offense suddenly feels in stable hands. This combined with signings like DeForest Buckner, Trey Burton, Anthony Castonzo, and Xavier Rhodes creates a team with a very high upside, one that seems overdue as well. However, even with the departure of Deandre Hopkins, the Texans still seem like the owners of this division, and the Colts in my eyes are not at that level yet, especially given how new the side is with Phillip Rivers at the helm. But it’s close. Record: 10-6

  1. Tennessee Titans

The magic that the Titans tapped into last year, in my eyes, has run out. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely showed the country what they were all about, but oppositions have gotten much better, while they have sort of stagnated in many ways. Having resigned Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, they do still possess the wrecking ball capability that the offense had last year, and with additions like Vic Beasley and Johnathan Joseph, they get much needed defensive help. However, I don’t think it’s enough to contend with the conference, let alone the two teams I mentioned above. They are definitely a quality team, but just not up to the standards necessary. Record: 9-7

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars had an interesting season last year, to say the least. Minshew Mania took over for a brief period before the rest of the team started showing their true potential, or lack thereof. The team let go of Nick Foles, who at one point was thought to be the future for the club, and has gone all in on Gardner Minshew, who does have the talent and skill necessary to win, but lacks a sturdy set of surrounding environment to work with. The team has done minimal offseason moves, like adding Tyler Eifert and Chris Thompson among others, however it simply isn’t enough to be considered “good”. Expect more of the same from the Jags this year, with less drama. Record: 5-11

Links you can use to help educate yourself, donate, sign petitions, and much more for Black Lives Matter and Ending Racism and Social Injustice:

https://www.adhoc.fm/post/black-lives-matter-resources-and-funds/

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

https://www.thezoereport.com/p/10-black-lives-matter-organizations-you-can-donate-money-to-right-now-22948855

The Dak Prescott Contract Conundrum

By Saransh Sharma, Pranav Thiriveedhi, and Rohan Krishnan

The Dak Prescott contract conundrum is something that I feel has been talked about for ages, and with the Coronavirus pandemic also going on, it feels like this story is only getting dragged out more and more. There are so many different contract offers being thrown around and so many different perspectives on the deal, but we are here to get you guys situated and all caught up on the latest on the Dak Prescott situation and our predictions, from everyone’s point of view.

The Dallas Cowboys’ Perspective by Rohan Krishnan:

Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys have been in talks for a long term contract for a while now, so what is taking so long? The problem is that the front office and Dak both have different contract numbers they are looking at. Dallas is definitely willing to make Prescott the highest paid quarterback in the league, but they want more years. Also, a recent interview with COO Stephen Jones told us that Dallas wants to make sure their salary cap is divided up in a way that helps Dallas win. “There’s all sorts of analytics out there that show if your quarterback takes up too big a percentage of your salary cap, that it decreases your chances to win. We’re just trying to figure out the right fit”, Jones said recently. The Cowboys want $35 million per year for 5 years, and Dak will do $37 million per year for 5 years according to a recent report from Mike Fisher, as he wants $45M in the fifth year because he believes that with the inflated market then, that is what he will be worth. That being said, he is only going to be 31 when the contract is over, so he will get another big contract yet again, and that seems solvable for both sides. Prediction: I believe that Prescott will stay a Cowboy and sign a long-term deal before the start of the 2020 NFL season.

Dak’s Perspective by Pranav Thiriveedhi

As previously mentioned, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys have been negotiating for a while about the contract that Dak receives and how much he will get paid. Initially, Dak Prescott, who thinks he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and a leading part of one the best NFL offenses, asked Dallas to pay him a lot of money for him to stay a Cowboy. From Dak’s perspective, he in some way deserves this money, based on the production he has stirred up for the Cowboys in the last few years. In the last season, Dak Prescott has thrown for a whopping 4,902 yards, along with 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Even though the Cowboys missed the playoffs in a grudge match that is the NFC East, it can be very believable to see that the Dallas Cowboys will perform exceptionally with Prescott as the leading horse in the years to come. After a lot of time, the Cowboys matched his ask and offered him a 5 year, $175 Million contract, that comes to around $35 Million a year. This contract would make Dak Prescott the most paid QB in the entire league. Mike Fisher reported that Dak Prescott only wanted to be under this contract for 4 years, and this makes sense for Dak. The league is changing and players are playing under bigger contracts that last shorter amounts of time and Dak believes this should pertain to him as well. Dak Prescott and his team took this offer into thought and came back saying that if he came back for his 5th year he would need to be paid $45 Million! Obviously from Dak Prescott’s perspective, this is something he really wants and is adamant about, but in the end this money is coming from the Cowboys. Prediction: So after Dak plays all his cards and runs out, I predict that before the start of the 2020 NFL season, the Cowboys and Dak Prescott will sign a 5-year deal, but the money will be on the Cowboys terms.

The NFL’s Perspective by Saransh Sharma

The Coronavirus pandemic is going to take a hit on the NFL in terms of money, as no fans will mean they are losing all of that revenue they would have made from those people, especially season-ticket and VIP/box seat holders. Teams will need to be compensated and therefore that could lead to a salary cap reduction. But what does this have to do with Dak Prescott? Well, if there is a sense that the NFL will indeed lower the salary cap, after this season, then even paying Prescott the 4-year, $140M deal ($35M/year) would be too much, because Prescott would take up such a huge chunk of the cap space, and they just signed Amari Cooper for $22M/year, and Ezekiel Elliott is on a $15M/year deal. Over the next few years, guys like Leighton Vander Esch, Demarcus Lawrence, and Michael Gallup will all be up for extensions, and if Dak is on a long 4-5 year contract eating up lots of cap space, the Cowboys might not even be able to bring back one of those players mentioned. Now, I understand that the cap will eventually increase to even higher than what it is right now, because at some point things will go back to normal and even get better after this pandemic, but because of how the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) contract would work, this would probably last at least 3 seasons, which would not go through the entirety of Prescott’s contract. This is more of a hypothetical, but definitely something that Dallas is considering every time Prescott wants a higher number in terms of salary. Prediction: Prescott will take the 4-year deal at $140M ($35M/year), but 2-3 years in, there will be restructuring of the deal which will allow for the Cowboys to assess the market then, and allow for Dak to get paid his current market value (so he could get the $45M per year on his contract later). Either way, unless he gets traded, Dak is a Cowboy for Life.

NFL Best Free Agents Remaining: But Why Are They Here?

By Saransh Sharma, Pranav Thiriveedhi, and Rohan Krishnan

This year’s NFL Free Agency has been the best in NFL history, but the craziest part of all of this is that there are still elite players left as free agents right now. Players like Cam Newton, Jadeveon Clowney, and Everson Griffen still see their names on the market and not on a team. Here are the top 12 free agents, and our predictions for where they will go:

  1. Jadeveon Clowney, OLB/DE

This one to me is actually mind-boggling considering his production. Now, to be fair, the Coronavirus pandemic has hurt the value of guys like Clowney, because the outside linebacker position was one that had an abundance of talent in this year’s NFL Draft, so teams could bank on a younger, cheaper player to develop and become a good linebacker. He was hurt last season and only played 13 games and only had 3 sacks, but he forced 4 fumbles, had his first interception and pick-6, deflected 3 passes, and had 13 QB hits, which is an average of 1 per game, which is pretty solid. The problem is that the idea of waiting a season and going for a small contract for this upcoming season, and then cashing out after next season is not as viable an option as it used to be due to the impacts of Coronavirus. That being said, Clowney is open to waiting for the summer to roll around and sign a big deal if it comes then.

Prediction: Jets Sign Clowney on 3-year, $52.5M deal, $39M Guaranteed

  1. Cam Newton, QB

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Just a few years ago, Cam Newton was coming off of a 15-1 MVP season, and a near Super Bowl victory. Now, Newton, having dealt with a few injuries, has been released by the Panthers and is now struggling to get a contract as even a backup for this upcoming season. Honestly, I think that Cam Newton is definitely starter material, but he just has to do his due diligence and wait it out this year and be a backup. Newton surely can still play at a starter level and play at a high level as well, I just do not see it being this season.

Prediction: Steelers Sign Newton on 1-Year ‘Prove-It’ Deal

  1. Everson Griffen, DE

Now this is a player who I understand why he is unsigned. 2 years ago, when the Vikings went to the NFC Championship Game, Griffin had 13 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles. In the next 2 seasons combined, he has 13.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, and no forced fumbles. The only number that has been near the same in 2017 is the QB hits, which he had 24 just this past season after 25 in 2017. Granted, in the 2018 season, Griffen did only play 11 games, so the stats look unusually low, but these past 2 seasons, Griffen’s low number of sacks really is costing him now come free agency time. 8.0+ sacks is something Griffen is used to doing, so seeing him now barely being able to get that is strange, and the health issues have not helped either. That being said, Griffen’s talent still warrants him getting a 1-year ‘prove-it’ deal, and then signing onto another deal of a bigger salary with the same or different team. 

Prediction: Seahawks Sign Griffen on 1-Year ‘Prove-It’ Deal to Replace Clowney

  1. Larry Warford, OG

Larry Warford was a surprise release a week ago by New Orleans, but a lot of it apparently had to do with the fact that he put on some weight and New Orleans did not like that it was happening during this offseason, so they let him go, and they also have a young, worthy replacement for him at Left Guard in Andrus Peat, who got a 5-year, $57.5M extension a few weeks back. Warford, despite the weight concerns, is still capable of being an elite left guard in the NFL.

Prediction: Warford Goes Back to Detroit, Signs with Lions on 3-Year Deal

  1. Jason Peters, OT

Jason Peters has been a monumental piece of the Philadelphia Eagles offense since 2009, protecting various NFL quarterbacks who achieved stardom through their years in Philly such as Michael Vick, Nick Foles, and Carson Wentz. Jason Peters is a Super Bowl champion who is decorated with achievements such as being a 9x Pro Bowler, 2x First Team All-Pro, 4x Second Team All-Pro, and a member of the NFL 2010’s decade team is now at an older age of 38, but still has the fire to play into his 40s. He is currently a free agent coming off an average year at a price of $3.5 million, but is still holding strong communication with the Eagles and is being eyed on by the Broncos, Jets, and Browns as well, who all would perform much better with his veteran status.

Prediction: Peters re-signs with the Eagles to a 1-Year or 2-Year Deal

  1. Logan Ryan, CB

Logan Ryan is one of the NFL’s most elusive and underrated cornerbacks coming off an amazing season with the Tennessee Titans. The 29 year old is a sharp veteran, who has the ability to force turnovers and provide pass breakups during crucial plays. In 2019, finishing his contract with $9.5 million left for the year, Logan Ryan combined for 113 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 4 force fumbles. Teams that would benefit from Logan Ryan include the Dolphins, Eagles and Jets. Logan Ryan has commented about the Jet’s interest in him and how signing with the team he shared practiced fields with in college would make sense for him, but he is adament that he wants to sign with a “contender.”

Prediction: The South Jersey native signs with the Eagles to a 1-year Deal

  1. Carlos Hyde, RB

Carlos Hyde is one of the best players from the 2014 NFL Draft and also one of the best running backs to play the game in his time so far. After another 1000 yard season, this time with the Houston Texans (Carlos Hyde has jumped over a lot!), the free agent running back is looking for another team to call home for the 2020 season. After rejecting the Texan’s offer, Hyde sees interest coming from the Philadelphia Eagles, who need a veteran running back to mentor Miles Sanders. I don’t really see other teams very interested in him and there is major competition between three running backs to sign with the Eagles.

Prediction: Hyde stays a FA into the start of the season or signs a small deal with a rebuilding team

  1. Markus Golden, LB

Markus Golden is one of the NFL’s most underrated 3-4 edge rushers coming off a good season with the New York Giants. Last year, playing all 16 games, Golden acquired 72 tackles, 10 sacks, a force fumble and 1 defensive touchdown. When Markus Golden is healthy, he poses as a legitimate threat to any offense and will finish every season with double-digit sacks to his name. As of now, the Giants and Lions see interest in signing the electric edge rusher. 

Prediction: Markus Golden signs a 3-year deal with the Lions, fixing up that faulty pass rush

  1. Taylor Gabriel, WR

Gabriel is seen as a speedy playmaker but did not live up to the hype in Chicago. In two seasons with the Bears, Gabriel managed just 96 catches for 1,041 yards and six touchdowns. He also dealt with concussions and as a result Chicago released him to clear cap space. However, he is currently the top option on the WR market because he is still a talented player and has the speed to hurt defenses deep. He could be very serviceable to a team that needs a deep threat to complement their best receiver. 

Prediction: Gabriel signs a 1-year deal with the Packers to help stretch the field

  1. Cordy Glenn, OT

Cordy Glenn has been a solid player for the majority of his career. He is 30 years old and could be a great veteran presence for a team looking for a tackle. However, his 2019 season was suspect as he only played 6 games and had a tumultuous relationship with the Bengals which led to his release. He was suspended by the team at one point for “internal disciplinary reasons” and dealt with concussions which probably explains why he has not been signed yet. I can definitely see a team taking a gamble on him though because he was great when he played and is a serviceable starter. 

Prediction: Glenn signs a 1-year deal with the Vikings

  1. Mike Daniels, DT

Mike Daniels is coming off an injury-plagued season with Detroit. He played nine games due to foot and arm injuries and finished with nine tackles and just 1 sack. It is clear that he is not the player he once was, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful player. Before signing with the Lions, Daniels was one of the Packers best defensive players and an emotional leader. He can help mentor younger players, provide some solid IDL depth, and help stuff the run. 

Prediction: Daniels signs a 1-year vet min deal with the Cowboys and reunites with Mike McCarthy

  1. Delanie Walker, TE

Delanie Walker is another player who has been dealing with different injuries the past few seasons and was cut by the Titans due to the rise of young tight end Jonnu Smith. Walker has had a lot of success with Tennessee however and was the greatest tight end to ever play for them. He is 36 and is entering his 15th season in the NFL but I think he still has some left in the tank. He has always been productive for Tennessee when healthy and can provide endless options as a receiver and a blocker to change an offense. He could bring some good value to a team with a young tight end group.

Prediction: Walker signs a 1-year deal with the Patriots to help mentor Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi

NFL Draft 2020: What to Watch For This Weekend

By Saransh Sharma, Rohan Krishnan, and Pranav Thiriveedhi

The NFL Draft will commence Thursday, but instead of in the Fountains of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, it is online. Never thought I would be saying those words in my lifetime. Anyways, this year’s draft presents a lot of compelling storylines, such as finding quarterbacks that could be Drew Brees and Tom Brady’s successor, the Justin Herbert and Tua debate, Chase Young to the Redskins, and the plethora of veterans that could be traded for draft picks. Here are the storylines to watch out for in this year’s NFL Draft:

Saransh’s Storyline: Herbert or Tua? Who’s the First QB After Joe Burrow?

Joe Burrow being the Number 1 overall pick is something that has been established for quite a while now, but the quarterback contention after him is what really gets interesting. Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama was the obvious Number 1 overall choice until Joe Burrow and LSU beat them back in November, and then Tua’s chances were completely thrown out the window when he hurt his hip and his season was over for good. Since then, Tua has been fully recovered since February, and had been doing workouts and drills with teams, and was at the Combine. Despite that, scouts and analysts, including myself, still wonder how he will be able to prevent another major injury that could derail his career, as this one nearly did.

The other big-name quarterback heading into this year’s draft is Justin Herbert out of Oregon, whom many thought would have entered the draft last year and could have been a first-round pick. He has now upped his stock and could potentially be a top-5 pick in the draft. While he could not lead the Ducks to the College Football Playoff, he led them to a Pac-12 Championship victory, as well as a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. Having had his best season yet as a college quarterback and winning so many big games after a very rough season for the team the year prior, that along with his Combine and Pro Day showings are having people put Herbert ahead of Tua in their draft boards.

In the top 6 picks of this draft, 3 teams, those being the Detroit Lions at Number 3, the Miami Dolphins at Number 5, and the LA Chargers at Number 6, they all need a quarterback, and Herbert and Tua will be the first guys looked at. While I believe the reports that the Lions are trading down and believe they will trade down, I see Herbert going first over Tua, and going to South Beach and quarterbacking the Dolphins and their young yet exciting offense for the next few years, and Tua going to LA. If the Lions do not trade, however, I expect Herbert in Detroit, Tua in Miami, and then Jordan Love in LA, although speaking of Love, the soft-spoken quarterback of Utah State is someone worth mentioning in this conversation. Love could potentially go higher than both Herbert and Tua, but he could also end up as a late first-rounder, or even early second-rounder, depending on how teams judge him, much like Josh Allen did in 2018, going to the Bills, yet many even thought he could surpass Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold and go first in the draft. Keep an eye out for Love, but Tua and Herbert will be the ones getting all the attention.

Rohan’s Storyline: Where Will Trent Williams Finally Be Traded to and What For?

Trent Williams has still yet to be traded by the Redskins despite publicly demanding a trade in late March, but it could happen in this year’s draft. NBC’s Peter King recently reported that Trent Williams is the most likely player to get traded during the draft. Even though the Trent Williams holdout saga has been going on since June of last year, the Redskins still hold all of the leverage in a potential trade. Under the new CBA, if Trent sits out another year, he will not be able to enter free agency and remain a Redskin. He can either play this upcoming season and show his worth, or sit out and incur a ton of fines. Furthermore, Trent is an All-Pro Left Tackle and is still one of the best offensive lineman in the league, so Washington can still get a decent return. Now, which teams in the league make the most sense to acquire Williams? I am going to go with the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, and the Minnesota Vikings, with Cleveland being the most likely destination. 

ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweeted this morning that Trent Williams is “still on the table” for Cleveland. If the Browns miss out on or elect to not draft one of the top tackles who include Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, Jedrick Wills and Andrew Thomas, then I think this significantly boosts the chances of a deal that sends Trent to Cleveland. Baker Mayfield took 40 sacks in 2019, and adding a top tier tackle would shore up the left side of the line for the Browns. The Browns also have offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who worked with Trent his whole career in Washington. I predict the Browns will trade for Trent since they have been the team showing interest for a while now, but as mentioned Los Angeles and Minnesota could trade for him too. I expect the Redskins to start fielding calls after the top 4 tackles in this draft are taken. JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington reported that the Redskins will only trade him for a package of comparable value, but what would that package consist of? I think they are asking for at least a 2nd-rounder, but at this point it seems at least a 3rd-round pick is more reasonable. If a trade with Cleveland were to happen, my prediction is that Washington will receive Pick #74 (3rd-rounder) and Pick #187 (6th-rounder) in this year’s draft. 

Pranav’s Storyline: Should New England Stick with Stidham, or Find a New QB?

Tom Brady leaving New England to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the biggest storyline of the offseason, leaving the Patriots with a huge problem: filling Brady’s shoes. After a 20 year run, Bill Belichick has to look for a new quarterback in a league with not many options. During the Brady era in New England, the coaching staff had great quarterbacks on the roster to help out when Brady was unavailable, from the 2009 season with Matt Cassel who went 10-6 (somehow missing the playoffs), to the 2016 season where Brady’s suspension from the year before came into effect, giving both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett the opportunity to perform for New England. Both quarterbacks played well under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’s coaching scheme, but due to the threat that they would likely take Brady’s spot as a starter later, owner Robert Kraft shipped them out to other teams. 

The 2020 Patriots are now left with Jarrett Stidham, a young quarterback from LSU, who showed promising features through various training camp meetings, practices, and mostly during the pre season games. The Patriots also hold 12 draft picks for the 2020 NFL Draft (4 compensatory picks), including the 23rd pick. Since this draft has only a few stellar quarterbacks (Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert), who will be taken very early, the New England Patriots would be left with quarterback picks like Jordan Love, who is an above average quarterback from Utah State. If I was Bill Belichick, I would put my money on Jarrett Stidham, giving him a year under center, and letting the first round pick in the draft go to another position in need, such as safety or defensive end. The Patriots have had a lot of success in trusting a no name quarterback to lead the team in the most difficult situations, so maybe Stidham can outperform initial expectations and prove that he was the right choice. You never know, Jarrett Stidham could be the next Tom Brady…  

 

How the NFC South Became the League’s Most Stacked Division in 4 Days

By Saransh Sharma & Pranav Thiriveedhi

The NFC South for many years was the most QB-driven division in the NFL, with the record-breaking quarterback and Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees leading the Saints, and NFL MVP’s Matt Ryan and Cam Newton leading the Falcons and Panthers, respectively (somehow Brees has never won an NFL MVP award). For years, it was a division which saw Newton and Ryan’s teams going on playoff runs, and Brees being left out to dry with no help, or having to pull a Houdini act just to get to the playoffs, and then there’s the Buccaneers, who had famed 2015 No. 1 pick and National Champion Jameis Winston at QB, and despite some up-and-down seasons from him, the team hadn’t gone to the playoffs since 2007. However, since Newton and Ryan’s Super Bowl chokes, Brees and the Saints have built themselves through the NFL Draft, Ryan and the Falcons cannot get over their 28-3 blown lead in Super Bowl LI, Newton is being scapegoated for getting injured in one of the most dangerous sports in the world, and Winston throws nearly as many interceptions as he does touchdowns. Newton and Winston are currently free agents, and have been replaced by Teddy Bridgewater, and Tom Brady, the Greatest of All-Time. So now, the ship is re-written, with the NFC South back to being elite and QB-driven, but these weren’t the only big moves in the division:

Tom Brady Chooses the Florida Beaches

Let’s start with the obvious: Tom Brady. If it wasn’t for the Coronavirus pandemic, the Buccaneer’s signing of the six-time superbowl winning quarterback would be the top headline across the United States. Tom Brady joined the NFL in the year 2000, where he won six Super Bowls, nine AFC Championships, and 17 Division Titles with the New England Patriots. But now, in the year 2020, in one of the craziest offseasons in as long as I can remember, Tom Brady is leaving the team he played on for almost half of his life. Even though it is still months before the regular season’s start, no one can tell if this move was worth it for Tom Terrific. On March 16th, when free agency opened its door, several teams were in the bidding race for Brady, including the Patriots (of course!), Titans, Chargers, Broncos, Raiders, and Buccaneers. But on March 20th, Tom Brady officially signed a 2 year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His new contract in Tampa guaranteed a $50 Million deal, also included with $9 Million in incentives. But the most interesting part of Brady’s new contract with the Bucs is the prohibited clause. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not allowed to use their franchise tag or trade Tom Brady while he is under that same contract. 

So, why did Tom Brady join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? It obviously wasn’t for the money because other teams were offering Brady $30 Million per year or more. I think, and I’m going to go on a limb here and state that Tom Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his fit on the team, and the elite group of receivers the Buccaneers possess. The Buccaneers are home to two of the most explosive, elusive wide receivers in the game today: Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Last season, the previous starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, threw for an astounding 5,109 yards with those two firing on all cannons on the offense. Now imagine what would happen if you were to take a league average Jameis Winston out of the center and replace him with arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. What are the odds Tom Brady and the Buccaneers don’t do something special next season? Tom Brady finally got his A grade receivers for the first time since he had prime Wes Welker, his top 10 offensive line, and a team more younger and healthier, something he never got on the Patriots. If the Buccaneers and Brady don’t make a run for the playoffs next season, I wouldn’t even know what to tell you.

Todd Gurley Goes Back to Georgia

Just two years ago, Todd Gurley was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year after having over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 19 total touchdowns. That season was the best season of his career and the Sean McVay Rams offense looked like it was going to be dominant for years to come, despite an early Wild Card loss to the Atlanta Falcons. In 2018, Gurley had over 1,800 scrimmage yards and 21 total touchdowns, and this time, led his team to the Super Bowl, where he and the offense could get nothing going, getting embarrassed and putting up just 3 points total. Going into that game, however, the big storyline was that Gurley had some knee issues which slowed him down a bit in the playoffs, but mainly in the Super Bowl, where Super Bowl 50 hero CJ Anderson took the majority of the carries at Running Back. Just a month after the Super Bowl loss, Gurley was told by doctors that he had arthritis in his right knee. Gurley got surgery, yet the ‘arthritic component’ to the knee injury still remained, meaning that the arthritis could cause him to be injured yet again. Gurley went into the 2019 season with the possibility of being benched for guys like Malcolm Brown or Darrell Henderson, and there was even trade talk during the season. Gurley finished with career lows in carries and yardage, but was still 5th in the league in touchdowns. The lack of carries and yardage played a big role in the Rams lack of success this past season, going 9-7 and missing the playoffs. 

However, despite the rough year and the arthritis issue still looming, Gurley still is amongst the top in the league in terms of carries, yards, and touchdowns for running backs since he was drafted in 2015. The part that is hard to put together about him getting released is the fact that he produced great stats even with the injury scares and such, and even in his down year, it was his team that lost faith in his ability, as he just simply did not get the ball enough. 24 hours after being released, Gurley signed with the Atlanta Falcons for a 1-year prove-it deal, but I expect this to become long-term and a lethal combination for years to come, with Gurley being the clear favorite in the backfield, and QB Matt Ryan and WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Gurley now has the best offensive line he has had since 2018, has an offense that is Super Bowl-caliber when healthy, and is very balanced. Expect Head Coach Dan Quinn to have the offense run through him early on in the season, and Gurley to just cruise to another great season from there.

Teddy Bridgewater is Officially a Starting QB Again

580 miles north of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the Panthers in Charlotte have also grabbed a new franchise quarterback, at least for the next three years. Teddy Bridgewater, star on the Minnesota Vikings (before his devastating injury), and savior on the New Orleans Saints, just signed a three year, $63 Million deal with the Carolina Panthers. The deal included a signing bonus of $15 Million and a number of incentives sprinkled in. Teddy Bridgewater just got his bag in Charlotte, but that means the exit for one the best quarterbacks in the NFC South, Cam Newton, who has been on the decline the last few years with the Panthers. I love Teddy Bridgewater’s new signing with the Carolina Panthers, but something feels wrong for me. The Carolina Panthers are not exactly the New Orleans Saints or Minnesota Vikings, both teams with one of the biggest and loudest fan bases in the country. And the way Teddy has moved throughout his NFL career, he has thrived on loving fanbases, something I feel Carolina won’t give him immediately. 

Teddy Bridgewater is also the man under center for one of the few teams in the NFL, where the fanbase believes a running back, in this case Christian McCaffrey for the Panthers, can lead their team to success. Bridgewater needs to “bridge” a great relationship with CMC off and on the field, because a great tandem of players in the backfield would really help the Panthers move ahead in an already stacked NFC South. Bridgewater also has great depth and deep threats through receivers DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, and newly signed Robby Anderson (wideout who played for the Jets last season). With an offense possessing the ability to do really great next year, only time will tell for Bridgewater. A strong start to the season and no injuries will propel Teddy Bridgewater into the limelight with his new Carolina Panthers. 

Emmanuel Sanders Tries to Go for 4 Super Bowls with 4 Teams

As seen by the headline, Emmanuel Sanders has the chance to go to his 4th Super Bowl and for his 4th NFL team, something that no NFL player has ever done. Sanders’ career resume is one of the most consistent you will ever see in terms of stats, but he has not had his chance to shine ever since Peyton Manning retired from the NFL in 2016, leaving the Broncos with limited talent at the quarterback spot, hindering Sanders the most. Despite all of that, Sanders gave it his all in Denver for the next 3 seasons, before getting traded midseason this year to the San Francisco 49ers, who were 7-0 at the time, and eventually became the NFC Champions, and if Jimmy Garoppolo did not overthrow him in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, he probably would have won a Super Bowl with them, and stayed with the 49ers.

The move to go to New Orleans was a rather shocking one by Sanders. Many believed he would go to Dallas or Washington, the teams that showed lots of interest in him and needed a veteran presence at the wide receiver position, and were pass-happy offenses. But Sanders instead went to the most pass-happy offense in the NFL in New Orleans, and he has the chance to play with Drew Brees, the 3rd quarterback that will be a future-Hall of Famer throwing the ball to him. Much like in Pittsburgh and Denver, Sanders will play second fiddle behind Michael Thomas, as he was behind Mike Wallace and Demariyus Thomas in Pittsburgh and Denver. That being said, Brees now has Thomas, Sanders, Jared Cook, Tre’Quan Smith, and Alvin Kamara as his targets, which presents the scariest core of receivers in that department. With Sanders now in the mix, the Saints receivers have the edge over teams like the Buccaneers, but the big question will be, can Brees outplay Brady, and can he keep the Saints as not only NFC South favorites, but Super Bowl favorites? Sanders will play a huge role in deciding that, and consider his luck in the NFL, he will probably go to a Super Bowl as a Saint as well.

TB12 to TB: How Brady’s Move Down South Affects His Legacy

Tom Brady might not have shocked the world by saying he was leaving the New England Patriots just two days back, but if you said that to me after he signed a 2-year, $41 million extension in 2016 after a season where Brady was one drive away from yet another Super Bowl appearance, I would have said you were crazy. If you said that his destination would be Tampa Bay, I would think you were even crazier. Either way, Brady in 2020, did just that, but he earned that right. Since that extension, Brady went to 3 Super Bowls in 4 years, and won 2 of them. Though he just left New England, here’s when the dominos started to fall, which led to the door opening for Brady to leave:

The First Fallen Domino: Jimmy G

Through all that, he endured the Deflategate suspension, nagging injuries to guys like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, a new face in town in Jimmy Garoppolo, whom coach Bill Belichick loved, and much more. Keep that name in mind, however. A guy who was drafted in the second round in 2014 by New England after having won another Super Bowl, their first in 10 years. When Brady accepted his 4-game suspension in 2016, however, Belichick put in Jimmy G, who won his first 2 games, and then led the Pats to a third straight win before getting hurt and handing the ball over to rookie QB in Jacoby Brissett. But Belichick seemed to have fallen in love with Jimmy G and found his successor to Brady. Brady felt disrespected, and it fueled him to win another Super Bowl, in the infamous 28-3 blown lead by the Atlanta Falcons.

The Second Fallen Domino: The Unsung Hero, Danny Amendola

I wrote back after Super Bowl LII that New England’s demise had begun, as Brady had lost to backup QB Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles in what is, in my opinion, the best Super Bowl I have ever seen. That offseason, he ended up losing receivers Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks in free agency. The big name here is Amendola. Amendola for years had been the ‘third guy’ behind Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, but he may have been the unsung hero for Tom Brady and the Patriots. Through the Super Bowl runs where New England beat Seattle and Atlanta, and lost to Philadelphia in an epic, Amendola was the one whom Brady used to always find in the clutch, his ‘Ol’ Reliable’, per se.

To me, I thought New England made the mistake of letting Amendola go instead of Julian Edelman or Chris Hogan because Amendola was a guy Brady counted on and was close with on and off the field. Amendola seemed to be the guy that would make the big catches and touchdowns in 4thquarters of close ballgames, most notably his game-winning touchdown catch against Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game in 2017 to save Brady from being beaten by… Blake Bortles. Funny, right? Amendola wound up going to Miami, then Detroit with former Pats Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia, and he’s still there now. Looking back on the past two years, however, and seeing how the offense played, Brady could have used Amendola in many clutch moments.

The Third Fallen Domino: Antonio Brown

I understand what Bill Belichick was thinking back in October 2018 when Antonio Brown got released. Great player, but we need to know if this guy is well-minded. The last thing Belichick wanted was to get a guy on his team that would be a distraction to the team, like Aaron Hernandez. At the time, AB had been lashing out many times on social media, such as with his former teammates in Pittsburgh, and at that time, when he hired marketing agents to get himself off the Oakland Raiders. Safe to say that Belichick doesn’t normally think players like AB would fit in ‘The Patriot Way’, but somehow, he signed him. AB lasted 11 days on the team before getting released again after sexual assault allegations (which had been going on when Belichick signed him).

But Brady grew a chemistry with AB in the short time. While the stats did not show it, their love on Twitter certainly has, when Brady showed respect for AB even after his departure from New England, and even now, with Brady now in Tampa, Antonio Brown still shows up on Brady’s radar. But this was where it all fell down for Brady in New England. Brady was not happy that a guy with the talent of AB was released, but by ‘The Patriot Way’, he was not the right guy. But with Gronkowski retired and AB gone (along with Chris Hogan gone in free agency and Demariyus Thomas traded midseason), Brady just had Edelman and James White to rely on. Those guys did not stay relatively healthy, the offensive line Brady relied on got hurt as well, and Brady wilted under the pressure a bit after the 8-0 start. He had a great last season in New England, but the team had no pieces around him to keep him from leaving.

So, Tampa is Home. Now What?

Well the legacy of Brady does not require him to win a Super Bowl necessarily. Like LeBron James when he went to the LA Lakers, Brady is putting himself in the toughest position possible, going into an NFC South division with Super Bowl contenders like the New Orleans Saints, who by the way, are led by Drew Brees, a top 5 QB of all-time, an Atlanta Falcons team that just signed Todd Gurley, and a young Carolina Panthers team. Brady easily just put himself in the most stacked division in the NFL, and with the new 14-team playoff (so 7 per conference), all 4 of these teams can be playoff and Super Bowl contenders in Brady’s way. Not to mention that the NFC also has Aaron Rodgers, another top 5 QB of all-time, a near-MVP in Carson Wentz, and the defending NFC Champs in San Francisco. (Side Note: My top 5 All-Time QBs are: Brady, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, Steve Young, Drew Brees). Brady is definitely not expected to win a Super Bowl, but as a 43-year old who has shown he can still win 10+ games every year and win Super Bowls, the expectations are high. Brady will probably have to at least get Tampa Bay to the playoffs, something they haven’t done since ’07, and then a playoff win (or more). This is a team that before Brady never had hope, but he brings it. Fans are already flocking to get season tickets, players want to play for Tampa, life is good in Tampa right now. I mean, warm weather, a stadium with a pirate ship, and Tom Brady, what more do you need?

To me, Tampa can contend for a Super Bowl with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as Brady’s weapons, his best since he had Randy Moss and Wes Welker, but the task is rather daunting. It’s hard to keep expectations low with Tom Brady, so I believe that he probably will take Tampa to at least one NFC Championship Game throughout his current contract (he signed a 2-year deal for $50M, fully guaranteed, with $9M available in incentives) to keep his legacy cemented as it is right now, which is as the Greatest of All-Time.

How Will Coronavirus Affect the Sporting World and its Fans?

The current pandemic of coronavirus that has occurred has truly changed the future of sports as we see it for 2020 and beyond. The NBA decided to have a hiatus after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert contracted the virus, which then led to many NCAA Conference tournaments being cancelled, which led to March Madness being cancelled. Then, the MLB had their season start postponed for at least 2 weeks, and the MLS has been shut down for at least 30 days. Around the world, the Premier League has been shut down until April after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea Winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for Coronavirus. The Bundesliga, Ligue 1, LaLiga, Champions League, Europa League, and all country-run tournaments have been shut down until April. Not only has the sports world been affected, but the real world as well. Currently, many of the States in the US have gone into States of Emergencies, colleges are online for the rest of the semester, and in places like Italy, you cannot leave your house unless for an emergency. Here is what the effects of what has transpired will be, and what more we can expect to happen, not just in our country, but throughout the world:

Did NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Save Sports As We Currently See It?

I do not believe many people would have thought that sports being shut down in the United States was even imaginable if it were not for Adam Silver having suspended the NBA. The important thing to realize is that Adam Silver did the best thing possible by suspending the NBA season. The importance of keeping the players, coaches, front office, team staff, media, and fans safe is far more important than the remaining 20+ regular season games plus playoffs. Not only did Silver suspend the season, but he already came up with a plan for how players and teams must react over the ‘minimum of 30 days’ hiatus.

The reason why it is important to note how important this gesture was by Adam Silver is the fact that every major league in our country followed suit. The NCAA Conferences cancelled their basketball tournaments and all other sporting tournaments, as did the NCAA with March Madness and their championships, the MLB postponed their start by at least 2 weeks, the MLS and NHL shut down for a month, and the NFL, while their season is over, is discussing ways to change the NFL Draft. Also, multiple tennis tournaments supposed to happen in the US have been cancelled, and now even the French Open, and The Masters’ have been postponed.

Did Rudy Gobert Also Contribute to Saving Sports Now?

I know a lot of people have been giving Gobert a lot of hate for how he handled the situation and for originally taking the whole notion of Coronavirus and social distancing as a joke, but he has since owned up to it, made public statements, and donated money in order to let people know that this is very serious indeed. But if GObert did not get Coronavirus, Silver wouldn’t have suspended the NBA season and no leagues would have followed (at least in the United States). So, indirectly, Rudy Gobert did help out with that. But this should be a lesson to everyone to practice social distancing, keep your hands to your own belongings, and if you do touch someone else’s belongings, to wash your hands and clean the things that you use frequently.

Will and When Will the 2020 Olympics Happen?

Honestly, while I do think the Olympics will happen, the question is of when. There is currently talk of many Olympic qualifiers being cancelled (not even postponed), such as the 2020 Euros and Copa America for soccer now happening in 2021. As of this past week, the Olympics are scheduled to go on as scheduled, but the talk of postponing them is very serious. Honestly, I think the best option is to hold the Olympics in 2021 after all the qualifiers which are now getting postponed to 2021 are happening.

How Would the NFL Draft Take Place?

So, before the outbreak of coronavirus, the NFL Draft was set to take place in Las Vegas at the Fountains of Bellagio, but now no one seems to know what is going to be the alternative option. Players and families will definitely be asked to stay home, and the NFL has already said there will be no fans present. I am not really sure what the NFL is going to do about it, but I have seen that they are discussing what to do, as they have already indefinitely cancelled OTAs and free agency visits.

How Do College Athletes Get Affected?

The NCAA had announced a few days back that all spring sports players are getting what is called a ‘Redshirt Corona Year’ (not the official name, but it is the name that spring sports athletes used in order to plead for this to be taken into effect), meaning that now all spring sports athletes will have an additional year of eligibility, and that this lost year will not affect them. So, while academically they can move on, athletically their eligibility will not be affected.

When Will the NBA Come Back, and Will the NFL Be Affected?

The current talks are that the NBA could come back around July and end in August, but whether this means that the regular season will continue or not remains to be seen. NBA player Spencer Dinwiddie suggested that we have a 28-team tournament in replacement of the NBA Playoffs, almost as if we are making the NBA Playoffs like March Madness, and the NBA is taking that into consideration. On a more serious note, the NBA is discussing permanently starting the season on Christmas Day, as they did during the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. That season ended like regular in June and the regular season was cut down to 66 games. Whether or not that is the new format of the regular season remains to be seen, but how this season plays out is so vital to the future of the NBA.

As for the NFL, with OTAs now cancelled, the talk of training camp being cancelled as well and going straight into preseason is a very real possibility. Assuming that the statement made from the White House that the Coronavirus lasts until July or August, training camp would be cancelled, and the NFL would have either have the choice of going straight to preseason or skip preseason and go into training camp in order to avoid player injury. With the new 14-team playoff being put into effect this upcoming season, avoiding player injury is more vital than ever, and with a 17-game regular season starting as soon as 2021, this coming season could be a way to see how shortened or no preseason would work out.

A General PSA

As I am writing this, I am currently at home with my family doing my best to practice social distancing and preventing the spread of Coronavirus. This virus is very scary, so I highly encourage everyone to please stay home and practice social distancing as much as possible. With many grade school and college students now finishing the rest of their semesters at home, and with many people working their jobs from home, it is imperative that we realize the seriousness of this. Sure, there are times when we will need to go out places and see people and go study or work, but health always comes first. So please, I encourage everyone reading this to please wash your hands constantly, practice best health and hygiene, practice social distancing, try to avoid big gatherings and going traveling or eating out, and most importantly, realize that this isn’t a joke and that we can go on with life, even though these tough times are upon us.