We have hit an interesting portion of the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Despite the quarterbacks throwing this afternoon/evening and more workouts happening on Sunday, a vast majority of the media, some agents and some team personnel have left Indianapolis.
It isn’t that the workouts are not important but they are not as important as everything else that has happened this week.
As I shared in my first “What I’m hearing piece,” the value of the combine for the NFL and the NFL draft comes behind the scenes. Since that piece was posted and aggregated by a few sites and posted on Twitter by a few podcasts and more, I have had a few interesting interactions about what was posted. None of those interactions brought contradictory information but some brought more clarification that I’ll share here.
Also since that post, we got a report that backs up mine related to DE Brandon Graham’s interest from the Cleveland Browns but his desire to stay with the Philadelphia Eagles if possible:
Eagles free agent DE Brandon Graham is generating interest from other teams, including the Browns, sources say.— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) March 3, 2023
His preference is to finish his career in Philly but sense here is he’s open to signing elsewhere, depending on where the Eagles come in with their offer.
Full disclosure, the free media lunch on Thursday caused significant gastro problems for me so I missed some important social team that evening. Today’s report will be a little lighter than I had hoped.
- Cleveland is well aware of and planning to address their needs on the DL, MIKE linebacker and slot corner positions
- The Browns believe Grant Delpit can play free safety and do so well, as he did at LSU, depending on how things spin in free agency
- Jessie Bates is still a target but, as I noted previously, many think he’ll get a huge contract but not from Cleveland
- The Baltimore Ravens are feeling the pressure following the NFLPA report and players coming out. The Lamar Jackson contract will likely be much closer to what the QB wanted than the team, IF the two sides can come to an agreement
- Deshaun Watson’s contract is making things really difficult for the Ravens but has other teams struggling as the NFLPA wants the top QBs to use it as a reference point not as an outlier
- Browns GM Andrew Berry has been named by multiple teams and agents as “the most aggressive”, especially in trade discussions and I’ve heard “Does he sleep?” quite often this week
- The best guess here is that the NFL combine will move to Dallas in 2025 at least for a one-year tester of moving it permanently, having it become a traveling show or deciding to bring it back to Indy
- Cleveland sees RB Jerome Ford as already adept in the passing game and think he could be a weapon right away there which challenges my assumption that they need a pass-catching third down back
- I would not be shocked if the NFLPA either files or mentions collusion during this offseason. Fewer and fewer deals are “done” this year and agents believe teams are talking with each other more and more about what they are offering free agents. The delay between the end of the combine and the start of the league year plays a role
- Just as it was a couple of years ago with Najee Harris, there is a belief in Indy that the Pittsburgh Steelers are locked into drafting Joey Porter Jr. this year
- The sheer number of veteran backup quarterbacks with some starting experience available this offseason could lead the Browns to sign one at a relatively low price. A lot of uncertainty here about how confident the team is in Kellen Mond but that feeling comes from external sources as no one with the team will really let on to anything about the backup position besides the certainty that Jacoby Brissett will be too expensive to bring back
- “We know (Jim) Schwartz will make a hell of a difference for the defensive line but we aren’t blind to the need for talent there.”
- It has been really hard to gauge Cleveland’s interest in adding another receiver early in the draft, in a trade or free agency. While it is possible, agents for receivers aren’t sure why they would spend their top resources there when they have such huge needs elsewhere
- Ethan Pocic is likely to get a decent sized deal and is considered the top center on the market just one year after being an afterthought signing by the Browns
- Prior to the injury, Cleveland was confident in Nick Harris, perhaps the new shotgun based offense will help that as well
Two more days of combine time but this is likely my final rumor report given the lack of socialization generally available Saturday evening.