June 24, 2024

Saquon Barkley contract details with Giants, plus predicting MVPs for all 16 AFC teams and NFC West questions

Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

Vacation is officially over in the NFL. It’s time to get down to business, and no one got down to business faster than the New York Giants, who finally ended all of their drama with Saquon Barkley by finally getting their star running back under contract. 

We’ll be covering the Barkley contract today, plus we’ll be predicting the MVP for every team in the AFC. 

As always, here’s your daily reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. To get them signed up, all you have to do is click here. Let’s get to the rundown. 

1. Today’s show: Breaking down the Buccaneers offseason and predicting how they’ll do in 2023

Bucs QB Baker Mayfield
Getty Images

It’s time for another episode of our “All 32” series, and if you were starting to think that we completely forgot about the NFC South, I assure, we have not. We still have two NFC South teams to go, and we’ll be covering one of those today with the Buccaneers.  

To talk about how things are going in Tampa Bay, we brought on Casey Phillips, who covers the Bucs for the team’s official website, which means there’s literally no one closer to the action than Phillips. 

As an added bonus, I was a part of today’s show. Here are two topics host Katie Mox and I covered with Phillips: 

  • Does anyone seem to have the edge in the QB battle heading into training camp? After the Buccaneers signed Baker Mayfield, it felt like he would have the upper-hand when it comes to winning the job, but Phillips said don’t count out Kyle Trask. “Of course, Baker has more NFL snaps, but Kyle Trask has been in this building, he got to learn under Tom Brady,” Phillips said. “He’s been around [the guys in the locker room] and he’s earned respect because he’s put in the work.” Basically, this should be a pretty wide-open competition, and it will definitely be one of the more fascinating training camp battles to watch over the next month.  
  • Can the Buccaneers make the playoffs? Even though the Buccaneers weren’t great last season, they still managed to win the NFC South and make the playoffs. The Bucs might not be the favorites to win the division this year, but as the two-time defending champs, winning the division will be the expectation. “That’s always the goal. Every year, it’s win the division first and that makes your route in the playoffs easier,” Phillips said. “I know the Bucs are going to be thinking of how they’re going to be able to win that division.” Phillips also noted that everyone seems to be excited by how wide open the division is. “It’s really fun that this division is so up in the air. There are certain times that you know how things are going to play out — or think you do — and I think it’s really fun for this division to look so different.”

Phillips spent more than 20 minutes talking about the Buccaneers, and if you want to hear everything he had to say, you can listen to today’s show here. You can also watch today’s show on YouTube by clicking here.

2. Saquon Barkley deal gets done: Details on running back’s new contract 

When the New York Giants report to training camp today, there’s going to be a surprise visitor: Saquon Barkley. The running back had hinted over the past few weeks that he wouldn’t be showing up to training camp, but that all changed Tuesday morning after he agreed to a new deal with the Giants. 

This new deal came out of nowhere, and it took advantage of a rule most NFL teams don’t usually take advantage of. Although a team can’t negotiate a long-term deal with a franchise tag player after the franchise tag deadline, the team can sweeten the pot and add more money to the one-year franchise deal — and that’s exactly what the Giants did. 

Here are the details of Barkley’s new deal: 

  • Barkley can make up to $11 million. Under the franchise tag, Barkley would have made $10,091,000, but now he can make up to $11 million. To make the extra $909,000, Barkley has to hit several incentives AND the Giants have to make the playoffs. He’ll get $303,000 for 1,300 rushing  yards, another $303,000 for 11 touchdowns and another $303,000 for 65 catches, according to ESPN. On top of that, the Giants have to make the postseason for Barkley to see any pay from the incentives, according to USA Today
  • Barkley gets some money up front. One other change to this deal is that Barkley will be getting a huge check up front. Under the re-worked deal, Barkley will get a $2 million signing bonus. Under the franchise tag, Barkley’s $10.091 million was fully guaranteed, but he would have received the entire amount in game checks, which means he wouldn’t have gotten any money until September. 
  • One advantage for the Giants. The new deal doesn’t prevent the Giants from tagging Barkley in 2024, which means we might be going through this whole song and dance again next offseason. That being said, if the Giants do tag Barkley, they have to give him a 120% increase over his 2023 pay, so Barkley’s tag number for 2024 will be $13.2 million. 

With the Raiders scheduled to report to training camp today, it will be interesting to see if this deal has any impact on Josh Jacobs. The Raiders running back isn’t expected to report, but if the Raiders are willing to sweeten the pot, they might be able to get a deal done. 

Anyway, if you want to take a closer look at Barkley’s deal be sure to go here

3. Predicting the MVP for each AFC team

Browns QB Deshaun Watson

We were thinking about making NFL MVP predictions today, but instead, we decided to be a little crazier: We’re going to predict 16 different MVPs for the 2023 season, and we’re going to do that by predicting who the MVP is going to be for each team in the AFC. 

Tyler Sullivan spent 24 straight hours poring through every roster in the AFC to come up with his predictions. Before we get to his MVP picks, Tyler would like every to know that his MVP picks aren’t your normal MVP picks. Instead, he’ll be “highlighting players who will be key to their team’s success in putting a winning product out on the field.”

Let’s take a look at four of his team MVPs: 

  • Bengals: Orlando Brown Jr. “Joe Burrow has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league over the past three seasons. What has prevented Cincinnati from hoisting a Lombardi Trophy over that time, however, has been the team’s inability to protect him in the pocket. … If Brown’s arrival means more time for Burrow to deliver the football to the likes of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, that’ll put Cincinnati in the best possible position to succeed.”
  • Browns: Deshaun Watson. “The Browns are being slept on as we enter training camp, and it’s largely because of Watson’s poor play upon returning from his suspension last season. They have a strong overall roster, prolific weapons at the skill positions, and a defense headlined by DPOY candidate Myles Garrett. If Watson can look more like the quarterback he was during his days in Houston, there’s no reason to think the Browns won’t be in the playoff conversation.”
  • Broncos: Patrick Surtain II. “In just two seasons in the NFL, Patrick Surtain II has established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. While most of the attention in Denver will be paid to Sean Payton and his ability to get the most out of Russell Wilson after an abysmal 2022 season, it’ll be Surtain’s job to anchor the defense under new DC Vance Joseph.”
  • Raiders: Jimmy Garoppolo. “The Raiders swapped out Derek Carr for Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason, and the biggest thing that Las Vegas will be hoping for with their QB is for him to remain healthy. …. When he’s been on the field, he’s helped his team win football games, but durability has always been the issue.”

If you want to see the full list of AFC MVPs, then be sure to check out Tyler’s entire story here

4. Ranking the teams with the longest playoff droughts by who is most likely to end theirs in 2023

There is no professional sports league that does parity like the NFL, and if you need proof, just consider this fact: The NFL has seen 26 of its 32 teams make the playoffs over the past three years, which means that only six teams have NOT made the playoffs since the start of the 2020 season. Those six teams have mocked the idea of parity. 

For today, Jeff Kerr decided to take a look at those six teams and ranked them by who was the most likely to see their playoff drought end this year. (Each team is listed followed by its last playoff appearance.)

  • 1. Jets (2010). “The Jets added a four-time MVP in Rodgers to pair with a young core of Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall (whenever he returns from his ACL injury), along with adding free agents Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman and Randall Cobb. … The AFC East is a gauntlet, but the Jets should be one of the seven playoff teams in the AFC.”
  • 2. Lions (2016). “The NFC North is up for grabs with Aaron Rodgers getting traded to the New York Jets and the Chicago Bears still in a rebuild with Justin Fields. The Minnesota Vikings, meanwhile, could go in either direction. Doesn’t hurt that the NFC as a whole isn’t very good, either.”
  • 3. Panthers (2017). “The NFC South is up for grabs, even with the Saints having the best quarterback in Derek Carr. If Bryce Young develops quickly, Carolina is in the thick of this division race.”
  • 4. Falcons (2017). “Thanks to the uncertainty of the NFC South, they have a shot at the playoffs.”
  • 5. Broncos (2015). “The defense should keep them competitive in games, but the AFC is a gauntlet with plenty of playoff-caliber teams. Let’s not forget Denver is in a tough AFC West. Can the Broncos enter the playoff conversation? That will come down to Payton’s impact on Wilson.”
  • 6. Texans (2019). This team should be better, but there’s a lot of work to do in Houston.”

If you want a full explanation for Kerr’s ranking, then be sure to click here

5. Three questions every NFC West team must answer before the start of the season

49ers QB Brock Purdy
Getty Images

By the end of the day today, 31 of the NFL’s 32 teams will have reported for training camp, and due to that fact, we’re going to start taking a look at three questions each team needs to answer by the time its camp ends in August.  

We’re going to do this by division, and today, Shanna McCarriston is taking a look at the NFC West. Here’s one question facing each team: 

  • 49ers: When will Brock Purdy be 100%? “Purdy is on track to be ready for the season after recovering from elbow surgery. We will certainly know more once Purdy hits the field for team activities and has some reps under his belt.”
  • Seahawks: Can Geno Smith continue his success from last season? “Living up to last season will not be easy for Smith. However, the team has shown confidence in Smith since the beginning, and now that he has shown what he is capable of, we could see an even sharper Smith this season.”
  • Rams: Who will replace Jalen Ramsey? “The Rams signed cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and selected cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson in the sixth round. There will surely be some competition throughout the defense and specifically the secondary during training camp.” 
  • Cardinals: When will Kyler Murray be able to play? “After suffering an ACL injury in January, Murray may not be ready to start the season. Even when he is cleared to play, it does not mean he will be at the same capacity he was at the start of the 2022 season, before the injury.”

If you want more NFC West questions, we’ve got eight more, which you can see here.  

6. Extra points: Saints reuniting with five-time Pro Bowler

It’s been a busy 24 hours in the NFL, and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you. 

  • Jimmy Graham is back with the Saints. After sitting out the 2022 season, Jimmy Graham is back, and he’s returning to New Orleans. The Saints have signed Graham to a one-year deal. Graham’s career started in New Orleans in 2010, and he spent five seasons with the team before moving on. 
  • Marcus Peters agrees to terms with Raiders. The Raiders secondary got a huge upgrade Monday with the addition of Peters, who has agreed to a one-year deal. If the 30-year-old corner has anything left in the tank, then this deal could end up being a steal for Las Vegas. 
  • Tyreek Hills resolves legal situation. Hill’s legal drama from June has been resolved. Hill was accused of slapping an employee at a marina in South Florida, but he won’t be facing any charges over the incident thanks to a resolution in the case that was agreed upon by both sides
  • Uchenna Nwosu gets three-year extension from Seahawks. The Seahawks linebacker just got a huge raise. After recording 9.5 sacks last season, Seattle has rewarded Nwosu with a three-year, $59 million extension that includes $32 million in guaranteed money. 
  • Commanders add Money Badger to kicking competition, cut 2022 offensive starter. The Commanders are officially going to be having a kicking battle in training camp. The Commanders have signed Michael Badgley, who will now compete with Joey Slye for the kicking job. In other Commanders news, the team released offensive guard Andrew Norwell, who started 16 games for the Commanders last season. 
  • C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson agree to terms on rookie contracts. Less than 24 hours before the start of training camp, the Colts and Texans were both able to get their rookie quarterbacks under contract. Stroud landed a four-year deal worth $36.3 million as the No. 2 pick, while Richardson is getting a four-year deal worth $33.99 million as the fourth overall pick. 
  • Broncos unveil white alternate helmet. For the first time in franchise history, the Broncos will be wearing a white helmet, and you can check out what they look like by clicking here

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