No. 1: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kansas City Chiefs
A reliable pickup for the Chiefs last season, the fact JuJu is the No. 1 receiver in the class this year shows how barren things are. To be fair, Smith-Schuster did work with Patrick Mahomes in KC, but it’s important to understand the player he is.
Smith-Schuster is a high-level No. 2 receiver, or a very low-tier top receiver on a team lacking talent at the position. He can’t be the focal point of an offense, as we saw last year when he was often the second option after Travis Kelce.
At 26-years-old he’s still young enough to warrant a contract, just likely not one that assumes he’ll magically become the 1,400 threat he was back in Kansas City in 2018.
Winner: Orlando Brown
Brown wants to sign a long-term deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he’ll get the opportunity to test the free agent market this year as Kansas City decided not to place the franchise tag on him. Arguably the best offensive lineman on the market, teams can go into a bidding war for Brown as he finally gets the opportunity to showcase how much he’s worth as a left tackle.
Only three left tackles make over $20 million per season and only one left tackle (Trent Williams) has a contract that totals over $100 million. Brown appears primed to receive over $100 million and $20 million annually in free agency.
12. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, S, Eagles
Gardner-Johnson is a versatile defensive back with a nose for the ball. He recorded six interceptions during his first season in Philly and will be looking to get paid this free agency after not coming to terms with the Saints on an extension last year. The Eagles likely want to keep him, but they have many key in-house free agents.
Best team fits: Packers, Falcons, Chiefs, Raiders
Jahmyr Gibbs RB
ALABAMA • JR • 5’11” / 200 LBS
Even with the Chiefs releasing Frank Clark and not franchise tagging Orlando Brown Jr., they decide to give Patrick Mahomes another playmaker to close out the first round. Jahmyr Gibbs’ stock continued to rise after an impressive combine workout.
Auburn · Edge · Senior
In the wake of Frank Clark’s release, Hall could become a coveted target here, allowing the Chiefs to pair the Auburn product with George Karlaftis as a young tandem able to crater the edges while Chris Jones wrecks shop inside.
Around the NFL
Green Bay granted the four-time NFL MVP permission to speak with the New York Jets, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source informed of the situation.
Trey Wingo first reported the news.
A Jets continent also is flying to visit with Rodgers on Tuesday, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported.
The due diligence signals sides could be preparing to part ways, but it doesn’t preclude Rodgers from ultimately deciding he wants to remain in Green Bay or retire altogether.
The New York Giants on Tuesday placed their franchise tag on running back Saquon Barkley ahead of the 2023 season, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. The tag is worth $10.1 million.
The decision stops Barkley from hitting the open market, as he was set to become a free agent after playing the 2022 season on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract, which earned him $7.2 million.
New York on Tuesday also reached an agreement with quarterback Daniel Jones on a four-year, $160 million contract, according to Garafolo and Ian Rapoport.
The Ravens made the long-expected move official by using the tag just before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline. Baltimore and Jackson, who doesn’t have an agent and is representing himself, have been unable to reach a long-term deal since he became eligible for a contract extension over two years ago. Sources told ESPN last year that Jackson wants a fully guaranteed deal like the one given to Deshaun Watson last year by the Cleveland Browns. Baltimore is against doing so because the team considers the Watson deal an outlier.
The Ravens used the nonexclusive tag on Jackson, sources told ESPN. With the Ravens using the nonexclusive tag, Jackson can engage in contract talks with other teams. If Jackson signs an offer sheet with another team, Baltimore has the right to match the offer to keep him or take two first-round picks as compensation. The nonexclusive tag — which will pay Jackson $32 million this season — is less expensive than the exclusive one (projected at $45 million), which would have allowed the Ravens to control his rights this year.
“I want to thank Donovan for all that he has done for the Buccaneers on and off the field over the past eight seasons,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “He stepped in as our starter at left tackle in 2015 and his durability and dependability at one of the most important positions in football played a significant role in our offensive success during his time here.”
The Bucs entered this offseason $55 million over the salary cap — $35 million of it going toward recently retired quarterback Tom Brady — and have to become cap compliant by 4 p.m. ET on March 15 when the new league year begins, so the move was expected. The Bucs must not only get out of the red but must address the quarterback situation, as Kyle Trask is the only quarterback on their roster.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
1. Draft Anton Harrison
I lead off with a possible draft selection at pick 30: Oklahoma offensive tackle Anton Harrison, who just turned 21 years old and logged 1,807 snaps over three seasons playing left tackle in a modern spread offense; the scheme had him doing plenty of straight pass sets, pulling around or leading into open space on screens.
Harrison excelled, earning first-team All-Big 12 in 2022 with incredible technical play. He handles pass rushers with clean hands, tucked elbows and sound feet that help him catch speed rushers up the arc but also slow down a bull rush just enough. The solid fundamentals help mask a lack of play strength he needs to develop.
He won’t be the flashiest prospect of the 2023 class, which is why he may fall into Kansas City’s range at the end of Day 1. Even if the Chiefs have to move up, I believe Harrison is worth it — giving them an immediate starter and a long-term answer.
A tweet to make you think
From all of us here at the Chiefs organization, we wish you nothing but the best Coach Bieniemy pic.twitter.com/eqjUxDVdqp— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) March 8, 2023