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2023 Senior Bowl Buzz: Offseason Rumors, NFL Developments, Prospects to Watch

Atlanta Falcons Lamar Jackson

MOBILE, Ala. — The Senior Bowl is an annual event where more than 100 college players from across the country descend upon this Alabama city for a college all-star game and NFL draft showcase.

It's also an unofficial NFL convention with coaches, general managers, scouts and agents all in the same vicinity for a few days, chatting it up about the latest rumblings from around the NFL. After spending a few days here and talking to different people, here are 10 takeaways:

Lamar Jackson's Future 

No one in Mobile seemed to know what the Ravens will end up doing with Lamar Jackson or how Lamar is going to react if talks continue to go the wrong way. I asked a few people where they want to see Jackson next season, and the overwhelming answer: the Atlanta Falcons.

It's not that crazy when you remind yourself that this very team made a strong push to get Deshaun Watson last offseason. Jackson could be very effective in an offense with Kyle Pitts and Drake London, and with the run scheme Arthur Smith has incorporated.

>> READ: Ravens, Jackson Talks Going in Wrong Direction

Wilson-Payton Marriage

The Sean Payton-to-Denver news was the talk of Mobile for a day when the story broke around 3:15 local time Wednesday. Speaking to a few people who know Payton, the one common word was "demanding." Payton is going to be tough, and sometimes it's going to be annoying. And as a result, multiple people said Russell Wilson is going to have to be willing to change in order for this to work.

Payton is different than Pete Carroll, and he's way different than Nathaniel Hackett. But it's worth noting that in 2021, Wilson had Payton's New Orleans Saints on his list of four teams — along with Chicago, Dallas and Las Vegas —he'd accept a trade to. How these two mesh will be something to watch next season.

Tight End Market Resetting?

The tight end market has not moved as other markets have in recent years. A big part of it was Rob Gronkowski signing a 6-year, $54 million deal in 2012 that locked him up through the 2019 season. Teams were not willing to give their own tight ends more than Gronkowski, which slowed the market for years while other positions continued to reset. George Kittle and Travis Kelce finally got the market moving again a few of years ago, but tight ends are still far behind, with receivers making nearly double what tight ends are earning. 

Agents in Mobile wondered if T.J. Hockenson could be the next guy to reset the market. Minnesota acquired Hockenson from Detroit before the trade deadline, sending a package that included a second-round pick to its divisional rival. Hockenson immediately made an impact, catching 70 passes for 648 yards in 11 games (10 in the regular season, one in the postseason).

Considering what Minnesota gave up to get him and the impact he made in Kevin O'Connell's offense, Hockenson has an argument to push for a record-breaking new deal – something that would make other tight ends and agents very happy.

Market is Forming for Carr

The Raiders have been taking calls on quarterback Derek Carr, who has $40.4 million in injury-guaranteed salary that becomes fully guaranteed on Feb. 15. GM Dave Ziegler was at the Senior Bowl, and there was plenty of buzz that conversations have started with a number of teams.

Carr having a no-trade clause could complicate matters, but ESPN reported on Friday that the Raiders have granted Carr permission to speak to teams that have agreed on compensation should a trade be consummated.

Keep an eye on the NFC South, where all four teams could be looking to upgrade their current QB rooms.

>> READ: Derek Carr Granted Permission to Seek Trade

Brady Retirement Is Real Deal

For the second straight year, Tom Brady announced his retirement during Senior Bowl week. Unlike last time, everyone agreed this one is for real.

Injury Kept Levis Home

Kentucky's Will Levis did not participate in this year's Senior Bowl, but he had a real reason: He's been dealing with a toe injury and would not have been able to do anything. In its latest mock draft, The 33rd Team Scouting Department has Levis going to the Indianapolis Colts after a trade-up to No. 3.

Bennett Stock Dropping

As for Georgia's Stetson Bennett, plenty of people were not happy with him when I asked about the quarterback.

"We talked to Stetson's people," executive director Jim Nagy said. "They were not interested."

To make matters worse, Bennett was arrested for public intoxication on Jan. 29. People I spoke to pegged the two-time national champion as a late Day 3 pick.

Rising Stock

Players garnering the most buzz from scouts I spoke to:

>> READ: Senior Bowl's Biggest Money-Makers

Belief Rodgers Trade Will Happen

Most people I spoke to believe Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will mutually agree it's time to look for a trade partner this offseason.

Rodgers' mind does work in mysterious ways, but does anyone really think he'll retire and walk away from $60 million guaranteed? And as Rodgers said on the Pat McAfee Show a couple of weeks ago: "The Packers have had this interesting view on personnel that it's better to move on from a guy a year before he's done than a year after."

Rodgers' contract was structured in a way that trading him this offseason would be the time to do it. Most people think it's going to happen.

>> READ: 2 Trade Destinations for Aaron Rodgers

Officiating Problems

Officiating has become a major problem in the NFL. Front offices are upset. Fans are livid. The competition committee is sick and tired of this being such a big topic year every year. "NFL Rigged" trending on social media is a terrible look, and the NFL knows it. The one common answer I got when talking to people is that the league needs to go all-in on having a full-time "Sky Judge."

Stationed in the press box, a booth umpire would have access to all video angles and would help overturn any clear and obvious errors, and he or she would have an open line to on-field officials in all aspects of officiating. Everyone recognizes that being an official is not an easy job. Making split-second decisions with the naked eye while trying to avoid being trampled by players is a tough task. But there's a solution, and coaches from around the league have supported the idea over the last few off-seasons. The integrity of the game depends on it.