Analysis

Lamar Jackson, 5 Other NFL Players In Need of Scenery Change in 2023

“Home sweet home” doesn’t necessarily apply to professional sports. For many athletes, another time-honored slogan sometimes fits: “Get me out of here.”

There are plenty of NFL players who are in need of a scenery change after this season. Mike Tannenbaum, a former front-office executive for the Jets and Dolphins and current analyst for The 33rd Team, offers six:

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

Jackson simply can’t stay on the field, and Baltimore is no contender without him. He has been absent for 13 games since late in his MVP 2019 season, and his injuries over the past two seasons wrecked the team’s fortunes. Baltimore has gone 4-9 in those contests, scoring just 82 points (13.6 average) in the six games he missed this season, including a 24-17 loss to the Bengals in the Wild Card Round.

And he’s now in contract limbo.

“With the Lamar Jackson situation, it seems like what has happened with the contract has led to a lot of frayed feelings,” Tannenbaum said. “Sometimes a fresh start is good for everyone. I’m not saying it is beyond repair, but I think it would serve everyone well to move on. It could be a team like Atlanta or the Jets; a lot of teams would be interested in Lamar.”

The Falcons stand out as a possible suitor because coach Arthur Smith maxed out the talents of Ryan Tannehill when he was the offensive coordinator in Tennessee. Atlanta has a strong running game, instability at quarterback, and the salary cap room (more than $50 million) to pay what Jackson would command.

Jameis Winston, QB, New Orleans Saints

Sticking with quarterbacks, where might Winston land? Probably not back in New Orleans, where he made only 14 appearances in three seasons. If released, the Saints would have a dead-cap hit of $15.2 million.

“I’m a big fan of Jameis, and I think a fresh start would help him,” Tannenbaum said. “He’s a more traditional quarterback than Lamar. I think he is somebody who should sign a one-year deal and prove himself quickly, then get back in 2024 with a more notable deal. He should bet on himself for another year. Jameis has an unbelievable amount of ability.”

Derek Carr almost certainly will be traded or released by Las Vegas and would benefit from a new start, and New Orleans seems like a logical landing spot, given the need and how the city embraces community-active quarterbacks (think: Drew Brees). But the market should be hot for Carr, who will likely have several suitors, including the Jets, Colts, Texans, Commanders and Panthers.

Zach Wilson, QB, New York Jets

The second-year quarterback has been a major disappointment for the Jets. He has flashed talent with his arm but the situation in New York seems toxic at best at this point. This feels like a situation where both sides should want a split; the Jets invest in a new quarterback for the future and Wilson gets a fresh start in a new city.

“I would trade him and see if I could get a third-round pick and take your losses,” Tannenbaum said. “Then the Jets could sign a veteran guy or trade for one.”

Maybe Carr. Maybe Jimmy Garoppolo. Or Aaron Rodgers? It wouldn’t be the first time a future Hall of Fame Packers quarterback landed in the Big Apple.

Trey Lance vs. Seattle

Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers

Brock Purdy has changed the thinking here dramatically in what he has done over the past two months. The consensus had been that Garoppolo would be the quarterback leaving the Bay Area as a free agent, not Lance, but maybe the Niners find a way to keep him instead, as insurance behind Purdy.

“I don’t think a trade will happen, but he can’t really get on the field, and Tennessee has a new general manager, Ran Carthon, who comes from San Francisco,” Tannenbaum said. “And it doesn’t look like it has worked out there for Lance.”

Lance is young enough and is still on a team-friendly rookie deal that there would certainly be a trade market for him. He was all set to be the 49ers’ starter in 2022 before an ankle injury ended his season in Week 2. The ankle required a second surgery in December, but by all accounts he appears set to return to action by the start of OTAs in May.

The question remains: Will it be in San Francisco or someplace else?

Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins

A year ago, Miami placed the franchise tag on their tight end, guaranteeing him a salary of $10 million in 2022. It doesn’t appear the Dolphins will make an attempt to re-sign Gesicki to a long-term deal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent, and Gesicki himself seemed to acknowledge as much Wednesday that his final days in Miami are behind him.

“I’m not sure what the next step has in store for me and I’m not positive where it will be, but if my time in Miami has come to an end I will forever cherish every moment and be grateful for the highs and lows,” Gesicki wrote in a message to fans on Twitter. “No matter what and no matter where, the show goes on.”

Gesicki is coming off a down year (32 receptions, 362 yards and five touchdowns) in Mike McDaniel’s explosive offense. He seemed to be the forgotten man with the Dolphins, who have heavily invested in the wide receiver position with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

“If he gets into an offense that moves him around the way they did in Jacksonville with Evan Engram, he can be a real asset to a team,” said Tannenbaum, who believes Cincinnati would be an excellent fit.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Elliott is coming off the worst year of his career (231 carries, 876 yards, 3.8 yards per catch) while being outshined by backfield mate Tony Pollard. It could be time for a mutual split as the Cowboys invest in their emerging running back (Pollard), and Elliott can take on a role with another team.

The 27-year-old Elliott signed a six-year extension in 2019 worth an average of $15 million per year. Only Christian McCaffrey ($16M) has a larger per-year average. He received $12.4 million in this season, but the remaining four years have no guaranteed money. With Pollard’s emergence as a legitimate RB1, it seems like Elliott’s days are numbered in Dallas.

“He could stay on a pay cut, but sometimes it’s easier for a guy like Zeke to take a pay cut someplace else,” Tannenbaum said.

Mike Tannenbaum, the co-founder of The 33rd Team, is a former front-office executive for the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Follow him on Twitter at @RealTannenbaum.

Analysis

AFC Divisional Playoff Preview: Jaguars Letdown Potential, Intriguing Bills-Bengals Matchup

Trey Wingo discusses each AFC divisional round matchup. The Jaguars look to carry their momentum into Arrowhead to upend the Chiefs while the Bengals and Bills are coming off unimpressive wins this past weekend. Who will prevail and advance to the AFC Championship?

News

Bills’ Hamlin Has Breathing Tube Removed, Speaks to Teammates

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin had his breathing tube removed and has been speaking to family, friends, and teammates.

“Per the physicians at UCMC, Damar’s breathing tube was removed overnight,” the Bills said via Twitter. “He continues to progress remarkably in his recovery. His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team.”

Hamlin FaceTimed with his teammates in a team meeting on Friday. He relayed the message “love you boys” and has since been making other calls to friends and family.

Earlier in the week, doctors at the Cincinnati hospital where he is being treated in an intensive care unit said he was making “substantial progress” and that he that his neurological function was intact.

Removing the breathing tube is a big step forward for Hamlin, who suffered cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game with the Bengals and required CPR on the field for several minutes. Doctors on Thursday said their goal was to get the Bills safety back home as soon as possible.

Hamlin’s first attempt at conversing with doctors came in the form of a written question after waking up for the first time since Monday’s incident. He asked, “Did we win?”

“The answer is yes, Damar, you won. You won the game of life,” Dr. Timothy Pritts told reporters Thursday.

“Did we win? As teammates you love hearing that response,” Bills quarterback Josh Allen said. “It wasn’t ‘poor me’; it was how are my teammates doing? That’s powerful in itself.”

Neurological signs of improvement began Wednesday night, Pritts said, as Hamlin was beginning to awaken.

“When we talk about neurologically intact, it’s a very gross term of big motor movements and following commands,” Dr. William Knight IV said. “When we talk about the finer things that make us human — cognition, emotion, speech, language, etc. — we’re looking forward to learning more about that soon.”

WATCH: Expect Focused Bills Team on Sunday

Wildest NFL Stats From Week 17

Wildest NFL Stats From Week 17
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Analysis

2021 NFL Draft Do-Over: Re-Drafting Wide Receiver Class

The 2021 NFL Draft featured some of the best receivers in the NFL. There were a few who had big rookie years and some who broke out in Year 2. With nearly two full seasons under their belt, we have a good idea of where these players’ careers are headed.

For the most part, knowing what we know now, which receivers were drafted in the correct spot, and which ones were overlooked and should have been drafted far earlier than they were?

For this exercise, we re-draft for the five teams that took a receiver in the first round, as well as the 10 that followed in Rounds 2-3.

Round 1

5. Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase

Career Stats: 160 receptions, 2,415 receiving yards, 21 touchdowns

Bengals’ Original Pick: Chase

The Bengals hit a home run with Chase. What he’s been able to do since entering the NFL has been nothing short of amazing. In NFL history, he is the only player to put up 1,450 receiving yards in a season before his 22nd birthday. He’s stellar, a star from the moment he put on that uniform. Chase has repeatedly made big plays for the Bengals, and it is why he’s one of the best in the business.

6. Dolphins: Jaylen Waddle

Career Stats: 171 receptions, 2,275 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns

Dolphins’ Original Pick: Waddle

Waddle has been even more spectacular in his second season than he was as a rookie, when he set the NFL record for most receptions by a first-year player with 102. He has gone from a high-volume, short-game pass-catcher to one of the most dangerous playmakers in the league, averaging a league-best 18.8 yards per catch (for players this season with more than 50 targets). The pairing of Waddle with Tyreek Hill has opened up a whole new element for he and the Dolphins’ offense.

10. Eagles: DeVonta Smith

Career Stats: 143 receptions, 1,930 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns

Eagles’ Original Pick: Smith

Smith is on a tear right now for the Eagles. After he was drafted, he was put into a situation where he was going to be Philadelphia’s No. 1 option, but after the acquisition of A.J. Brown, it allowed Smith to operate more as a 1a, which is a much better fit for the type of player he is in this league. He’s been spectacular for the Eagles this season, with 79 catches for more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns.

 

20. Giants: Amon-Ra St. Brown

Career Stats: 186 receptions, 1,962 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns

Giants’ Original Pick: Kadarius Toney

Although I love Toney, I had to move him out of the first round. There is another wide receiver who has been balling out all year, and that is Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was a steal of Detroit’s in the fourth round. If you talk to anybody who understands what the Lions have been able to do on offense this year — leading the NFL in total yards — he is the main reason they are so good offensively. He can run any route underneath, and he can take the top off a defense. He is a special player. I’m excited to see what he blossoms into next.

Rashod Bateman

27. Ravens: Rashod Bateman

Career Stats: 61 receptions, 800 yards, 3 touchdowns

Ravens Original Pick: Bateman

Yes, he’s been hurt, but Bateman is a terrific young player when he is healthy. I’m a big fan of Elijah Moore, who was drafted by the Jets seven picks after Bateman, but with what I’ve seen from a healthy Bateman, knowing what he can do and how he fits in Baltimore, he’s just a better fit for what the Ravens need. Moore is — I hate to say it — more of a gadget guy, where you get the ball in his hands and let him do what he needs to do to make a play. Bateman is more of a route-runner and stretch-the-field type of player. I like the way he fits in Baltimore, and when he’s healthy, he’s a difference-maker for the Ravens.

Round 2

34. Jets: Elijah Moore

Original: Elijah Moore

49. Cardinals: Nico Collins

Original: Rondale Moore

56. Seahawks: Josh Palmer

Original: D’Wayne Eskridge

57. Rams: Kadarius Toney

Original: Tutu Atwell

59. Panthers: Rondale Moore

Original: Terrace Marshall Jr.

Round 3

77. Chargers: Dyami Brown

Original: Josh Palmer

82. Commanders: Amari Rodgers

Original: Dyami Brown

85. Packers: Ben Skowronek

Original: Amari Rodgers

89. Texans: Terrace Marshall Jr.

Original: Nico Collins

91. Browns: Tutu Atwell

Original: Anthony Schwartz

Greg Jennings is a former NFL wide receiver who played for the Packers, Vikings and Dolphins. A two-time Pro Bowl player, Jennings was a member of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV championship team and is inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter @GregJennings.

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