With all the general managers, coaches and scouts in attendance for the Senior Bowl, there is a lot of chatter going around. Here are some of the highlights from around the league on Day 5 of the 2024 Senior Bowl week.
Yesterday in the Hot Press, we discussed how Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell has helped himself in Mobile. In speaking with sources at a few teams, there were some other players that were mentioned as having made money this week by improving their draft standing with teams. Missouri defensive lineman Darius Robinson was one of the names who came up repeatedly. He dominated the Wednesday practice and showed pass-rush ability on the inside or edge. Another player who was mentioned as having helped himself was Texas A&M guard Layden Robinson. He is a strong run blocker and has shown improvement in his pass protection this week. One prospect who some team sources helped himself but others did not like was Arkansas center Beaux Limmer. Some weren’t fans of Limmer’s tape from last season, and others said they felt Limmer was improved in Mobile.
The 2024 NFL Draft is strong at the wide receiver position, and Texas’ Adonai Mitchell is one of the prospects who is on the bubble between the first and second rounds. However in speaking to team sources, they feel medical and character issues could be a problem for Mitchell. They said he is a smart kid, but on tape, he freelances a lot and there are some bad moments that offset his big plays. Mitchell started out his collegiate career at Georgia, and that program has had a lot of players with character issues in recent draft classes. Mitchell needs a strong leadup to the 2024 NFL Draft with excellent workouts to go off the board in Round 1.
The New York Jets coaching staff and front office enter the 2024 season on the hot seat, and one of their big failures was drafting quarterback Zach Wilson with the second-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. In speaking to team sources, assistant general manager Rex Hogan was the one who pushed for the organization to take Wilson, and just this week, Hogan was fired. There were some voices in the front office who wanted the team to stick with Sam Darnold for one more season and select Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase or Penei Sewell. Obviously, all three of them have turned into good to great pros, while Wilson has been a massive bust. Darnold didn’t pan out with the Panthers after being traded to them, but clearly, the Jets would be much better off right now if they had selected Pitts, Chase or Sewell instead of taking Wilson.
Hogan is said to have swayed general manager Joe Douglas to draft Wilson. Hogan was fortunate that he stayed on as long as he had, but that was said to be in large part because Douglas’ wife is very close with Hogan’s wife, and the personal relationship held sway with Douglas before running out this week.
With new coaching staffs being assembled around the NFL, one of the hidden factors that lead to coaches selecting teams to work is participation in the league’s pension program. One of the most despicable things done by the NFL owners and commissioner Roger Goodell is allowing teams to opt out of the pension program. In 2009, the owners voted to make the pension, the 401(k) and current supplemental retirement plan non-mandatory for NFL franchises. As a result, the majority of teams in the league have excited the pension program. Some teams offer a 401(k) plan, but in speaking to sources who were with a pension team previously, and now are with a 401(k) team, they said the pension plan is much better. According to league contacts, these are the only teams that are currently in the pension program:
Green Bay Packers
Las Vegas Raiders
New York Giants
Tennessee Titans – frozen to new employees on June 2, 2022
“It’s disgusting when you have guys as rich as Jerry Jones and David Tepper opt out of the pension for coaches and scouts,” said a director of player personnel for one of the teams in the program. This director had been with three teams that weren’t in the pension before leaving for one of the teams above.
“Due to a major stock market crash, the NFL pension was majorly underfunded in 2008,” said a team president. “It scared some teams. Some talked about a different system, but they never followed through.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has failed tremendously on this issue, as the pension issues happened on his watch.
“He didn’t care,” texted the same team president. “His pension and all the league office personnel continued.”
My response to that text was to say, “I’m not surprised. Goodell doesn’t care about the coaches and scouts, except to avoid media criticism for not enough minority hires.”
The team president responded, “Bingo.”
There have been a lot of horrible things done by Goodell during his time as commissioner, and allowing teams to opt out of the pension is one of the worst. While head coaches are obviously paid well, there are a lot of area scouts who are not paid huge money. Yet Goodell’s career earnings are around $700 million and his pension is funded. The billionaire owners of 21 franchises and Goodell should be ashamed at their treatment of team employees.