PALM BEACH, Fla. — Plenty to get to from here at the lovely Breakers resort (I’m staying at a SpringHill Suites down the street) …
• In the morning column, we raised a less-discussed overtime idea called “continuation,” and I now think there’s a chance it’ll get traction in Tuesday’s discussions on the two existing overtime proposals, one made by the Eagles and Colts, the other by the Titans. My understanding is it’s now being called “extended period” overtime, and it was discussed at the highest levels of the league on Monday.
For those who missed it, the idea, which is being introduced to a lot of the coaches for the first time this week (but has been floating around for a while), would be to play overtime in a sudden-death format and transition into overtime from regulation the same way you’d go from the first to second quarter or third to fourth quarter.
In other words, if the game’s tied and a team has the ball at, say, its own 48 as time expires on regulation, the “fifth” quarter starts with the ball there, and the same down-and-distance. The concept is that the possession, then, is earned, the coin toss is taken out of it and the extra period is being played within the context of the four-quarter game that just ended. So if a team is facing fourth-and-2 from the other team’s 48 with five seconds left in regulation, there’s a real decision to be made—the wind could even affect that one.
Anyway, I like the idea and can see why it’s gathered some late momentum. We’ll see if it’s too late. I think it might not be.
• The Bills’ new stadium project—a $1.4 billion venture with a record $850 million in public funding coming—is, first and foremost, reason for Buffalo to celebrate, after so much uncertainty on the future of the team over the last 20 years. It’s good for the NFL as a whole, too, to be staying in one of its most distinctive markets (and with one of its most rabid and different fan bases).
As for the stadium itself, two things stand out about the plan.
First, there’s the fact that it’ll be a very football-specific facility. Most new stadiums these days, because of their expense, are built to be multiuse monoliths. This one won’t be—it’ll be built for football first and everything else last. And that’ll likely mean retaining some elements of the old place, such as the feel that fans are right on top of the players.
Second, I’d expect there to be two pieces of football impact to the design. One, after decades on the fake stuff, the expectation is the new stadium will feature a natural-grass playing surface, which players overwhelmingly prefer. Two, the architecture of the stadium will likely make wind less of a factor than it’s been at Highmark Stadium, which is built into the ground and has open end zones. So you may see fewer games like the Monday night Wind Bowl the Bills had with the Patriots this year.
Which means there’s a lot to look forward to—with shovels expected in the ground within a year’s time and a 30-year lease to start with the projected completion date of 2026.
• And while we’re there, kudos to Detroit for landing the 2024 NFL draft. My dad’s hometown has always gotten a bad rap, but things have improved downtown over the years, particularly with three of the four major league teams in the city returning downtown over the last 20 years, and the fourth remaining there with a new arena (and the casinos don’t hurt either).
The plan is for the event to be centered at Campus Martius Park, and incorporate Hart Plaza and the Fox Theater. There’ll be fireworks over the Detroit River, concerts at Little Caesars Arena and Ford Field, and the hope is the $909 million Hudson’s Site project that’ll give the skyline a new look will be done and ready to be showcased. And the involvement of local behemoths Rocket Mortgage and Ford helped in the effort to land the draft, too.
Detroit beat out Green Bay and Washington for the 2024 draft. The next two are set for Las Vegas and Kansas City.
• Dolphins GM Chris Grier’s acknowledgment that DeVante Parker could be had in a trade—he added that he doesn’t think you can ever have enough receivers—is confirmation that the wonky timing of Tyreek Hill’s availability gave Miami a surplus at the position.
The Dolphins already have last year’s sixth pick, Jaylen Waddle, on hand, and they signed free-agent Cedrick Wilson to a three-year, $22.05 million deal at the outset of free agency, while having Parker on the roster at $8.35 million ($500K of that is in per-game roster bonuses and another $100K is in a workout bonus) for 2021. That’s a pretty full house at the position, ahead of the draft.
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So, clearly, Grier saw Hill’s hitting the trade block as a special opportunity, worth shuffling some pieces for, after Hill got permission to seek out trade partners for the Chiefs—permission that only came after Davante Adams’s trade to the Raiders went down, leading to Hill’s insisting on beating that Adams’s new deal by every metric. And credit Grier for having the flexibility to change plans in the face of a chance to get someone like Hill.
Parker should have some value as a quality No. 2 receiver, who’s under contract for the next three years at just $20.9 million.
• Bill Belichick sure made it sound like he won’t have coordinators this year at the AFC coaches’ breakfast on Monday morning. And it’s wild to think that he last had a defensive coordinator in 2018, and now will be using that defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, as part of his offensive-coordinator equation.
Belichick emphasized that he doesn’t put much stock in titles and expects roles to be defined as the offseason wears on, but the impression those I’ve talked to have gotten remains that Joe Judge will likely work with the quarterbacks and the passing game, Patricia with the offensive line and the running game, and tight ends coach Nick Caley will have an enhanced role on that side of the ball. Belichick name-checked all three guys on Monday.
As for the defensive side, the status quo is likely there with Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo having divvied up duties over the last three years.
• What Kevin Stefanski and John Lynch told reporters about the Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo situations reflects where the Browns and 49ers have been over the last week. Mayfield’s option number ($18.858 million) is complicating his market, especially without a clear starting job out there for him, while Garoppolo’s shoulder injury is making trading for him for a single year (he’s in a contract year) difficult for teams to reckon with.
So what would solve each situation? The Browns will probably have to eat money on Mayfield, while the Niners may need to wait for Garoppolo to get healthier, and hope that there’s a team or two with injury or a quarterback need that lasts past the draft.
• Saquon Barkley’s soft trade market is another example of how when you trade a guy, you’re trading his contract just as much as you’re trading the player. Barkley’s under contract at a fully guaranteed $7.27 million for this season, and with cheaper options available, it wasn’t ever going to be easy to find someone willing to turn over draft assets to land him.
Giants GM Joe Schoen conceded as much here at the meetings, and the team’s best play now may well be to keep him to try to get the most out of Daniel Jones in 2022, which should help them get a better read on who he is before making their quarterback decision in 2023.
• The NFL announced enhancements to the Rooney Rule and a statement declaring teams want more diversity in ownership on Monday, while forming a six-person Diversity Advisory Committee to look at the state of the league’s hiring practices.
One thing I think was important: The committee acknowledged that the league needs to do a better job networking promising young assistants and scouts with teams’ owners and execs, and suggested using this meeting and the combine for that. That’s something I’ve thought they should do for a long time, and it would address an overarching issue a lot of Black coaches have, which is how they hear a team felt more comfortable with another candidate.
• On the effort to find more diverse owners, it sure feels like the NFL is trying to draw Denver native Robert Smith into the bidding for the Broncos. Worth a reported $6.7 billion, it’s still unclear how interested Smith is in buying his hometown team.
• The Bills’ decision to match the offer sheet the Bears signed Ryan Bates to is a pretty good sign of how important offensive-line depth is in the NFL, and how when you get it, you’ll do all you can to keep it. Bates has four career starts.
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