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 3 of the 2024 Senior Bowl week.
In recent weeks prior to the NFC Championship Game, there were a number of media reports that the Detroit Lions would work to sign quarterback Jared Goff to a long-term contract extension in 2024. Goff will be in the final year of his contract, and under head coach Dan Campbell, Goff has blossomed into a top-10 NFL quarterback who almost led Detroit to its first Super Bowl appearance. In speaking with sources, Goff won’t be the only Lion in line for a new massive contract.
Sources say Detroit star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown will also be an extension priority this year. The franchise will probably make the All-Pro St. Brown one of the highest paid receivers in the NFL. Lions general manager Brad Holmes has been one of the best drafters in the NFL, starting with a tremendous 2021 draft class that saw him land St. Brown in the fourth round. That draft also netted an All-Pro right tackle in Penei Sewell, an excellent defensive tackle in Alim McNeil, and a playmaking starting safety who emerged this season in Ifeatu Melifonwu.
Along with signing Goff and St. Brown, the Lions have to account for a contract extension for Sewell. That extension could come in 2025, when Detroit will pick up the fifth-year option on Sewell. Likewise, St. Brown, Melifonwu and McNeil will be in the last year of their contracts. McNeil could be a extension target this year, while Melifonwu might get extension consideration as well.
At the trade deadline a few months ago, some Detroit fans were unhappy the team did not pull off a trade for a star defender like Brian Burns, Maxx Crosby or Chase Young. The Lions, however, were wise not to do it because they would have had a hard time retaining Goff, St. Brown and Sewell if they had acquired one of those veteran defenders and had to pay them a huge contract. Additionally, Detroit would have lost draft capital, and Holmes has proven to be capable of finding draft-day steals with cheap, good starters on all three days of NFL drafts. The Lions are planning to be active in free agency, but extending the core players on their team is the top priority for the franchise.
The 2024 NFL Draft is an excellent year for wide receiver and offensive tackle talent in the early rounds, plus features some quality depth at cornerback. Those things bode well for the Jacksonville Jaguars, because according to sources, those positions are the team’s top priorities. The Jaguars were disappointed and frustrated with the play of Calvin Ridley last year. Ridley was under-weight, did not supply the yards after the catch, and had a plethora of missed assignments. Those sources said the Jaguars want a big outside receiver for Trevor Lawrence and that the position is a round priority on Day 1 or Day 2.
Jacksonville drafted an offensive tackle in the first round last year with Anton Harrison, but the offensive line is still in consideration for Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. The Jaguars want to have a strong blocking unit in front of Lawrence. Per sources, the team also feels it needs more talent at cornerback. Thus, Jacksonville is likely to be targeting premium position talent in the early rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft.
There is talk that Jacksonville will franchise edge rusher Josh Allen, which will help the market for other free agent defensive ends like the San Francisco’s Chase Young. In speaking with team sources, Washington was happy to get rid of Young even in the short-term when Ron Rivera and his staff were fighting to keep their jobs. Sources said Young is a bad guy in the locker room and was a pain to deal with on a daily basis. They also shared they felt Young was very overrated and did not play up to his reputation. In the playoff games against the Lions and Packers, there were multiple times when Young was handled in one-on-one blocks by wide receivers. On the field and in the locker room, Young is buyer-beware player to sign in free agency.
In the Monday and Tuesday Hot Press editions, WalterFootball.com disclosed how Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Hall Jr. and Oklahoma right tackle Tyler Guyton needed to have good performances in the team interviews because of makeup concerns. Hall has significant character issues, while Guyton isn’t someone who is a bad kid but needs to address his immaturity. Another player who team sources have said needs to interview well is BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia. Similar to Guyton, sources shared that Suamataia is not a bad kid but they have concerns about maturity and work ethic. He has a reputation for being a freak athlete who could be a star at the combine, and sometimes players who are that gifted have not had to develop a serious work ethic. As a pro, Suamataia will have to work hard, so teams will want to see that his maturity has developed along with a willingness to push himself.
Many around the NFL were expecting Dallas to fire head coach Mike McCarthy after an embarrassing opening-round loss to Green Bay. McCarthy survived, but team sources said he is on the hottest of seats entering next season. Sources shared Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was about to fire McCarthy before being talked out of it, and Jones had a surprising candidate in mind to interview. According to sources, that candidate was former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who Jones is known to be extremely fond of. Jones helped Witten land a stint on ESPN Monday Night Football before Witten un-retired to play for Dallas in 2019 and then the Raiders in 2020. Witten is currently coaching high school football in Texas, and he has turned down NFL and college coaching offers. If McCarthy gets fired after the 2024 season, don’t be surprised if Witten’s name comes up as a candidate, along with former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, assuming Belichick is still available. Sources said Belichick is a top candidate for Dallas as well.