Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
Someone must have just told the NFL that it’s the last day of February, because it feels like the league tried to cram as much news as possible in today before the calendar flips to March. For one, the league revealed the five teams that will be hosting international games this year.
For 2022, not only will we have three London games and one game in Mexico City, but there will also be a game in Germany for the first time ever and the Buccaneers will be the home team. If the game is scheduled to be played during Oktoberfest, there is a 100% chance I will be volunteering to cover it, and if I get sent, there’s also a 100% chance I will be volunteering to taste every beer at Oktoberfest.
Besides the international news, Kyler Murray also made some headlines on Monday by demanding a contract from the Cardinals even though he has two years left on his current contract. I feel like that situation is going to get a little awkward.
We’ll be covering Murray and the international stuff today, so let’s get to the rundown.
As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Alright, let’s get to the rundown.
1. Today’s show: Monday Mailbag!
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week on the Pick Six Podcast by adding a listener mailbag every Monday.
Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I’m pretty sure there was one time where we spent 10 minutes debating the best national restaurant chain and all I’m going to say about that is that I live roughly two miles away from a Chilis and I eat there way more than I probably should.
Anyway, if you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review that includes your question.
Here’s one question that we answered in today’s mailbag:
Q: Does defense still win championships? The past two Super Bowls seem to support that, but Kansas City’s Super Bowl win was fueled by an offensive resurgence in the fourth quarter. Should teams thus invest more in defenses?
A: If I were an NFL general manager — which will probably be my next career move after I retire from newsletter writing — I’d try to build a team that isn’t overly dependent on either side of the ball. If you build a team that relies completely on its offense and that offense disappears for one game in the playoffs, then you’re likely going to lose (The Chiefs’ offense in the second half of the AFC title game is exhibit A of that). If you build a team that’s completely reliant on its defense and that defense implodes in a game, you’re likely going to lose. The best example of this from 2021 is the Buffalo Bills. They had the best defense in the league by nearly every metric, but then that defense got torched by the Chiefs in the divisional round and Buffalo got sent home packing from the playoffs.
One stat that has been a good indicator of playoff performance is point differential. In eight of the past nine years, the team that has won the Super Bowl has ranked in the top six in point differential in the regular season. To have a high point differential, you usually need an offense that can score and a defense that’s not getting lit up every week. I think what I’m trying to say is that defense can help you win championships, but it’s unlikely you’re going to win one with a team built completely around the defense (like the 1985 Bears), so going that route would be risky in this day and age where nearly every rule favors the offense.
When I inevitably get that general managing job, I’ll probably invest 58% of my salary cap on offense and 42% on defense. Obviously, that leaves zero percent for special teams, so that’s something I’ll clearly have to figure out between now and when I get hired.
To listen to the rest of the mailbag, be sure to click here. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here and you’ll definitely want to do that since it’s just me and Will Brinson answering random questions.
2. NFL reveals home teams for 2022 international games
The NFL will be playing a total of five international games in 2022 and we already know the home teams in each of those games because the league revealed them on Monday. The five international games will be tied for the most that the NFL has ever played in a single season.
Here’s a look at the five teams that will be headed abroad:
- Buccaneers headed to Munich. The NFL’s first regular-season game ever in Germany will feature the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This will be Tampa Bay’s fourth trip to Europe with the three prior games all being played in London.
- Cardinals headed to Mexico City. Back in 2005, the Cardinals became the first NFL team to play a regular-season game outside the United States when they hosted a game in Mexico City, and now, they’ll be making their return 17 years later. The Cardinals have been the NFL’s unofficial international guinea pigs over the course of their existence. Not only did they play in the first regular-season game outside of the U.S., but they also played in the first preseason game outside North America in 1976 (Japan) and the first preseason game ever in Europe in 1983 (London).
- Packers headed to London (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium). The NFL has been sending teams to London for 14 years and over that time, 31 of the league’s 32 teams had made the trip abroad. The only team that still hasn’t played in London is the Packers, but that drought will finally be coming to an end.
- Saints headed to London (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium). For the third time in franchise history, the Saints are headed to England. The Saints have a 2-0 all-time record in London with a win over the Chargers in 2008 and a victory over the Dolphins in 2017. If they moved all their games to London, they’d probably never lose again. I think that’s how that works.
- Jaguars headed to London (Wembley Stadium). No surprise here. The Jaguars are the closest thing the NFL has to a team being based in London. The Jags have gone to London in every season since 2013 and that streak will continue this year.
We won’t know who each of these teams will be playing until the schedule comes out in the spring. One other notable aspect of the international games this year is that 2022 marks the beginning of a rotation that will see every NFL team play at least one international game every eight years.
3. Kyler Murray wants a new contract
If someone you’re in a relationship with deletes you from one of their social media accounts, that’s usually a sign that maybe things aren’t going so well and that appears to be the case with Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. Less than three weeks ago, Murray deleted every Cardinals-related picture from his Instagram account and it appears we now know why: He wants a new contract.
Murray’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, released a lengthy statement on Monday and I read the entire thing so that you don’t have to.
- Murray wants to stay in Arizona with a catch. “He absolutely wants to be your long-term quarterback. He desperately wants to win the Super Bowl,” the statement notes. However, the statement also notes that for the Cards to win a Super Bowl, it will take “incredible commitment” from the organization implying that maybe the team hasn’t shown that incredible commitment just yet.
- Burkhardt has already sent a contract proposal to the Cardinals. Murray’s agent noted in the statement that the QB wants a contract that, “Provides financial protection, is in-line with the current QB market that compares his results alongside relevant comps, lowers his 2022-23 salary camp number to allow the Cardinals to re-sign other deserving teammates and add additional free agents.”
- Burkhardt basically called out the Cardinals to get a deal done. “Actions speak much louder than words in this volatile business. It is now simply up to the Cardinals to decide if they prioritize their rapidly improving, 24-year-old, already 2x Pro Bowl QB, who led the organization from 3 wins before his arrival to 11 wins and their first playoff appearance in 5 years, or rather, if they choose to financially prioritize committing to other areas and continuing to merely talk about addressing Kyler’s long-term future as their QB.”
- The Cardinals apparently haven’t responded to the proposal. According to Kyle Odegard, who used to write for the team’s official website, Murray’s camp sent in the contract proposal more than a week-and-a-half ago, but the Cards still haven’t responded.
- Murray is eligible for a new contract for the first time in his career. Under rules of the collective bargaining agreement, a first-round pick isn’t eligible for a contract extension until after playing three seasons, so this year marks the first time that Murray is eligible for an extension. That being said, teams don’t generally rush to make a deal with a QB who’s only been in the league for three years. No QB has ever gotten a deal before May 15 following his third season in the league. Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff all got extended after their third year, but those extensions didn’t happen until June or later.
- The Lamar Jackson factor. The Ravens QB has been much more successful in his NFL career, but he still hasn’t gotten an extension done with the Ravens. Murray might be rushing to get a deal done BEFORE Jackson because he knows that asking for more money than the Ravens QB would look borderline ridiculous considering that Jackson has an MVP and a playoff win under his belt, two things that Murray doesn’t have.
Murray has put the Cardinals in an impossible spot and it will be interesting to see if they respond by giving him an extension right away or if they milk this thing out until later in the offseason.
4. AFC North team needs: Bengals need to fix their two biggest weaknesses
Over the course of this week, we’ll be covering the offseason needs for each team by going through each division and today we’re going to be going over the AFC North.
With that in mind, Bryan DeArdo went through every team in the division and made a list of their biggest needs to fill this offseason.
Top-five needs (in no particular order): CB, C, OG, OT, LB
DeArdo’s take: Anyone who watched the Super Bowl saw the Bengals’ two biggest weaknesses. Expect the Bengals to address their offensive line in both free agency as well as during the NFL Draft. Speaking of the draft, our four CBS Sports NFL Draft experts have Cincinnati selecting either a lineman or a cornerback with the 31st overall pick.
Top-five needs: WR, DT, LB, C, EDGE
DeArdo’s take: With Jarvis Landry’s future uncertain, the Browns need to be proactive as it relates to adding to their receiving corps. Receivers who are slated to hit the market include Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Will Fuller, Jamison Crowder, T.Y. Hilton, JuJu Smith-Schuster, DJ Chark, Michael Gallup, Demarcus Robinson, and Richie James. Don’t be surprised if the Browns spent the 13th overall pick on a receiver.
Top-five needs: OT, LB, EDGE, DT
DeArdo’s take: Baltimore’s inability to protect their quarterback and apply pressure on others were two of their biggest issues in 2021. The Ravens’ O-line, which played all but one game without Ronnie Stanley, finished 21st in Pro Football Focus’ end-of-season ranking. The Ravens also may be preparing for an overhaul on their defensive line, as Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell are entering free agency. Baltimore will surely be in the market for a pass-rush specialist when free agency begins.
Top-five needs: QB, OT, OG, CB, DT
DeArdo’s take: Regardless of whom the Steelers’ quarterback is, they need to apply him with a strong offensive line and a formidable receiving corps. DJ Chark would be a nice complement to Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Pittsburgh will likely draft a receiver as well as multiple offensive linemen. The Steelers will likely also use free agency to add to their offensive line.
If you want to see the full explanation for each team’s needs, then be sure to click here.
5. Dolphins wanted Sean Payton (as coach) and Tom Brady (as a minority owner) in 2022
The Miami Dolphins had a grand plan for 2022 that involved bringing both Sean Payton and Tom Brady to South Beach, but like most things involving the Dolphins, none of it ended up working out.
Here’s what we know about the dream team that owner Stephen Ross was trying to build:
- Dolphins wanted to hire Payton. According to Pro Football Talk, after firing Flores in late January, Miami decided to call up the Saints to try to work out a deal for Sean Payton. The Dolphins made the call after Payton resigned, but before the Brian Flores lawsuit. The Dolphins never got to talk to Payton, though, because the Saints turned down Miami’s request to work out a trade. Although he’s out of football right now, Payton is currently under contract with the Saints, so if he does eventually want to return to the NFL with a different team, that new team will have to make a trade with New Orleans.
- Dolphins also wanted to bring in Tom Brady. The Dolphins were hoping to land Brady not as their QB of the future, but as a key minority owner. However, the team has put the idea of adding Brady on hold because there’s a chance he could return to the NFL. Once it becomes clear that he’s going to stay retired, the Dolphins will likely once again put on the full-court press and try to get him to sign on as a minority owner.
Brady is still under contract with the Buccaneers, so any team that wants him to play quarterback would have to work out a deal with Tampa Bay. However, if a team wants him to join their ownership group, they wouldn’t have to work anything out with the Bucs.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Buccaneers hit with surprise retirement
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.
- Buccaneers hit with surprise retirement. The Buccaneers were hit with a shocking retirement on Sunday when starting guard Ali Marpet decided to call it quits at the age of 28. Marpet was a key part of Tampa Bay’s offensive line and had been with the Buccaneers since 2015 when they took a huge risk by making him a second-round pick out of a D-III school (Hobart). The Buccaneers could be in for a total offensive rebuild this year. Not only are they losing Marpet and Brady, but they could also lose center Ryan Jensen and right guard Alex Cappa, who will both be free agents.
- Changes could be coming to NFL overtime. The Colts have submitted a proposal that would call for a change to the NFL’s overtime rules. Under Indy’s proposal, each team would get a possession in OT. This proposal will likely be voted on at the league meetings, which run March 27-30 in Florida. To become a rule, a proposal needs at least 24 of the league’s 32 owners to vote for it.
- Sean McVay passes up $100 million TV offer to keep Rams job. Sean McVay turned down some serious money to return to the Rams. According to the New York Post, Amazon was set to offer McVay a contract worth up to $100 million over five years. McVay confirmed on Friday that he would definitely be returning to the Rams for the 2022 season. He’s also in line to get a huge raise with the Rams expected to give him an extension “soon,” according to ESPN.com.
- Amazon now eyeing Kirk Herbstreit. With Amazon getting “Thursday Night Football” for the 2022 season, the internet giant has been busy looking for a color analyst. After getting turned down by Troy Aikman and Sean McVay, it appears Amazon is now going after ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. According to the New York Post, there’s a chance Herbstreit could end up doing NFL games for Amazon while still fulfilling his normal college obligations for ESPN.
- Bengals starter played in Super Bowl with torn labrum. Cincinnati linebacker Logan Wilson had surgery on a torn labrum last week. The shoulder injury actually caused him to miss three games this season, but he then returned in Week 17 for the Bengals’ huge win over the Chiefs. Wilson played a total of five games with the injury, including all four postseason games.
- Matt Corral won’t throw at the combine. One of the top quarterbacks in this year’s class has decided that he won’t be throwing at the combine this week. According to NFL.com, Corral made that decision because he’s still recovering from a sprained ankle that he suffered in the Sugar Bowl.