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Jonathan Jones | NFL on CBS Lead Insider

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February 16, 2023 6:05 am

Jonathan Jones | NFL on CBS Lead Insider

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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February 16, 2023 6:05 am

NFL on CBS lead insider Jonathan Jones joins the show to talk Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, more QB movement, coaching hires, and MORE!

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Right now, we're pleased to welcome Jonathan Jones. First appearance on the show, finally has an opportunity to join us after coming out of what is a very busy season, of course.

He's the lead insider for the NFL and CBS, also part of HBO's Real Sports as a correspondent. We know the confetti is cleaned up in Arizona, Jonathan, probably not yet in Kansas City. When you think back on this Chiefs team, this run to the title, which had different elements from four years ago, what stands out to you? About the way this group won the Lombardi. We need three to make it complete here for the Chiefs, but to do it without Tyreek Hill, to have Patrick Mahomes and, you know, another long season. And then everything we thought about the AFC West, right? The Chargers knocking at the door, obviously the Broncos fell off, and obviously the Raiders were disappointing. But I thought when they, with the Super Bowl matchup that they had against an Eagles team, that after the quarterback position, two through 53, they were a better roster.

I don't know that there's any question about that. Maybe even a considerably better roster. The fact that the Chiefs were still able to come from behind, like so few teams can do against a team like that and win in that fashion.

Certainly, they should be the favorite to win next year as well. You know what really stood out to me, Jonathan, is that the loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers exposed their offensive line. So what do they do? What does Brett Veatch do in that offseason? They rebuild that line, and it was a strength in the second half. As they come back from the 10 points down, the Eagles never had a sack, not even one, and they were able to amass 150 yards rushing. That really impressed me, and also I thought it was a highlight, considering that that was their weakness two years ago. Yeah, right, and the fact that, you know, Andrew Wiley held up so well on the right side of the line. You know what you have in Joe Tuni there at guard, and then Orlando Brown Jr. You know that he's a very solid left tackle. The issue moving forward is going to be how are you going to get him on a long-term deal, and are you going to have to franchise tag him?

But those are first-world problems. Those are problems that you will gladly worry about after you win another Lombardi Trophy. Listen, I'd be remiss not to give a little bit of credit or blame, if you will, to the turf there, and listen, both teams played on it. I actually spoke with the equipment director of the Chiefs after the game who told me, I said, hey, it felt like you guys were better prepared for the slippery field. He's like, yeah, we knew that we had to be in the seven-stud cleats.

He had been in constant communications with the ground crew there at State Farm Stadium. So the Chiefs were ready for it a little bit more than the Eagles were, where you saw when they got up to the top of their pass rush, they started to slip way more than I thought their opponent was. That's not an excuse, but it probably had a little bit to do with the whole zero sacks and four-quarters. Great intel there, and we know that the Eagles were changing cleats left and right in the first half where the Chiefs weren't quite doing the same thing. Jonathan Jones is the lead NFL insider for the NFL on CBS and also a correspondent for Real Sports HBO. We're thrilled to have him on the show for the first time in the wake of the 2022 NFL season that was, and now we're looking ahead here on After Hours CBS Sports Radio. Inside the AFC West, a major change, Derek Carr is a free agent of sorts, although his contract allows him to negotiate to talk to teams even before we get to the new league year. Where do you see a good fit for Derek? I mean, a good fit would be a New Orleans Saints if they can figure out the money, right?

I mean, you talk about a Saints team that has the same songs that we've played with the Saints at this time of the year, the last decade, right? Of course, the Saints are going to get under the cap, and they'll probably have enough money to sign someone like Derek Carr who will have a market and will command a fair market contract. You'll get the Jets who, let's say they're going to strike out on Aaron Rodgers for whatever reason. Maybe he goes to the Raiders. Maybe he stays with the Packers. Maybe he retires. That maybe the Jets would be a landing spot where we're not concerned about their cap space, and we know that they are average to slightly above average quarterback play away from making it to the playoffs.

So those are the top two. I've seen the Carolina Panthers thrown about. I just think that their focus is not on the veteran quarterback market as QB one, like it has been the last couple years. I think they know that that's been a mistake, and so they're not going to go after somebody like Derek Carr. I don't believe, you know, the Washington commanders, they're rolling with Sam Howell, and they're going to use their capital elsewhere. Look at Daron Payne, for example, in his upcoming contract, and so when you start looking at it, when you know that clearly is not going back to the Raiders, if the Packers get rid of Rodgers, you have to assume they're going to elevate Jordan Love to that role.

You start narrowing it down just a little bit. Maybe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the Saints and the Jets to me seem like the obvious top two options. With which one of those teams would you think an addition of Derek Carr would make the team a contender immediately?

Oh, I absolutely think that it's the Jets. I think that you have, you know, just like we didn't want to talk about the dynasty word with the Chiefs just yet, I don't want to talk about an elite defense with the Jets just yet, but a very good defense. A potentially great defense, right? And so when you have Derek Carr, who's going to, you just hope that he is 2021 Derek Carr and not 2022 Derek Carr, and I don't think there's anything to indicate that he can't go back to that 21 Carr who carried that team. Who at least that offense, right? Who with all the things that were going on with that Raiders squad, he was able to have those fourth quarter comebacks in the game winning drive. So if you can have that 65% passer that he can take care of the football that he can be great or at least above average in crunch time.

That's suggesting that why can't they win 10 games and then 10 and 7 should get them in the wild card. You bring up Aaron Rodgers. Maybe you are in his inner circle, Jonathan. It's very tight as we found out.

I'm not sure. But if you're the Packers, so let's look at this from the Packers perspective, which way are you leaning? Well, I don't know Aaron Rodgers because of his contract. You're leaning whichever way he's leaning, you know, I mean, he does.

He really does have control, right? I mean, if he wants to retire, I guess you're retiring Aaron Rodgers. If he wants to be traded, you're trading Aaron Rodgers. And if he wants to stay, well, you're not trading him because if you were to trade him against his wishes, well, he would have no incentive to rework his contract and you were really dealt with a massive dead cap situation on your hands.

So it really does. It's going to take three to tango here. It's going to take the Packers. It's going to take Rodgers. And if, of course, he wants to be traded, it's going to take that third team. And so everyone is going to have to work together in a kumbaya sort of trade. We'll see whenever he emerges from wherever he is, whether it's a darkness retreat or whatever, you know, when it kind of comes to Aaron Rodgers, I just let him do the thing where he's going to make a lot of noise around Super Bowl and around this time and then just wait for the real stuff to start happening.

And then that real stuff should start to happen around the combine here in a week and a half. People have told me this about Aaron, that he should probably realize that they're each other's best opportunity to get another Super Bowl. And I think that's a fair way to think. But we also understand that sometimes you just want something new.

Sometimes you need to start fresh. I mean, you know, look at Eric, the enemy, for example, I don't think the enemy is under any illusion that if he returns to Kansas City, that's his best opportunity at another Super Bowl championship. But he wants to go out and spread his wings under not Andy Reid and thinks that that's going to be his best opportunity as a head coach.

Well, potential head coach. Well, that's what he decided he has to do. And so Aaron Rodgers could also look over and see that the grass is greener. He says the grass is greener where you water it.

I say sometimes the grass is greener over the septic tank. But ultimately, he's going to have to realize if he wants to start fresh and start a new somewhere, does he want to come to the New York Jets? Is it going to be the Raiders and in that division where there's no guarantee that he's even going to make the playoffs coming out of the AFC West? So plenty of decisions that he has to make.

But I think that both can be true. Jonathan Jones is with us from CBS and it's going to be one heck of a dramatic offseason, as always, because the NFL never stops. It's after hours on CBS Sports Radio. I want to get back to Eric. I'm glad you brought him up because I do want to ask you about him. But before we leave the quarterback arena, what's another QB storyline that intrigues you as we head into the offseason? The other QB storyline, you know, I'll give you two. It'd be Jimmy Garoppolo and what he's ultimately going to fetch out there on the market as an unrestricted free agent, as a guy who, when he's out there, he normally wins. Of course, he's played under Bill Belichick and Kyle Shanahan, so that really helps your winning percentage.

But it's always when he's out there, right through the past five seasons, he's been really banged up. And so is he going to be able to command anything more than a two-year contract? What will a team be willing to commit? Where is that team going to be positioned in terms of potential playoff success?

So that's going to be interesting. And then I think the other one, Jim Irsay and Nicole, I think that they're really sort of the key to the draft right here at number four, because they clearly want a young quarterback. I don't know if it's Bryce Young that they want. I'll just say, keep an eye on C.J. Stroud, but do you have to trade up to one with the Chicago Bears to get C.J.

Stroud? Are you worried about two in the Houston Texans? Can you just go up one to three with the Arizona Cardinals?

Or are you concerned about the Carolina Panthers at nine moving up? So if there's a fulcrum of the draft, obviously what Chicago does at one is very important, but I could see a lot teetering on what the Colts and GM Chris Ballard decide to do there at four. Other than the Chicago Bears, the teams you just highlighted all have new head coaches. We've seen the carousel finally grind to a halt with both the Eagles coordinators getting new gigs. Which coaching hire do you think has the potential to become a huge boost for that team in 23? I think Zameka Ryan with the Houston Texans. I think when you look at their nice young pieces on defense, when you consider that they're going to get, of course, a quarterback, be it Bryce Young or C.J.

Stroud. When you consider the other, what is it, nearly a dozen draft picks that they have, so they're going to have a lot of cost-controlled rookies and young players who are starting to build and grow in their system. Obviously they're going to re-up Laramie Tumsil at left tackle, so your guy, your quarterback is going to be taken care of.

He just brought over Bobby Slowick as his offensive coordinator there, so he's going to try to run a whole lot of what Shanahan runs in San Francisco, and we know how quarterback friendly that system can be when it's run to a T. And then you consider also that division. How much do you believe in the Titans right now? Okay, the Jags look great. They look like they could be a team that could be in the playoffs for a while, but it was only one year. And then, of course, it's always just the AFC South at the end of the day. So the Texans are a team that I'm very intrigued by, that I think D'Amico Ryans in one year can turn them around. And as we always know, frankly, there's more than one team that goes from that worst to first in the NFL, and why can't it be the Texans this upcoming year? Roughly half the playoff field turns over every single year.

In fact, seven teams turned over for this postseason. So Jonathan, the Eric Bienemey question continues to plague me. The Andy Reid coaching tree is the most successful this era of football. Andy speaks so highly of him. His players speak so highly of him. I know he's not calling plays, but again, other guys out of that system have been successful and been hired and they weren't calling plays.

What is it? What do you hear about Bienemey and why he hasn't landed a head coaching job? It's maddening, Amy, and you're right. Not only are guys who come out of that Andy Reid tree, are they successful, but the other fact is they can go out and be unsuccessful. The point is that they're given the opportunity, right? They've given the opportunity to fail, and I don't know that anyone would confuse Matt Nagy's tenure in Chicago with being as successful as Doug Peterson's in Philadelphia, but the fact is they both got that opportunity while not calling plays. And so Eric Bienemey over the past couple of years now, and I'll get the numbers wrong, but it's half the league that he's interviewed with at this point over four or five years. And we're talking about the most successful five years any offensive coordinator in Kansas City history has ever enjoyed. I am not certain that if you were given a head coaching job that he would succeed, just like I'm not certain that any of these five men who just got the job are going to succeed in those roles. But I would take his resume, I would take what he has done, how he has worked with Patrick Mahomes, what Andy Reid, a first ballot Hall of Fame coach, what Patrick Mahomes, who if he retired today is a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback. I would take what they had to say about the man and say, you know what, I'm going to try it out with this guy, I'm going to give him a four year contract. If I'm an owner somewhere, and just say, you know what, if it doesn't work out, I'll deal with that.

But the past performance, I would hope would project some really good future results. Yeah, it doesn't make any sense. You said maddening, I think infuriating.

At some point, it feels like it's a no brainer. And yet it maybe it's because the NFL is such a copycat league. And because he didn't get hired initially, now he's branded as someone who's not hireable.

That could be part of it. I think that, you know, we talk all the time about race in the NFL. He has been the unwilling face of this sort of race in football, at least in the coaching ranks crisis. It's a shame.

I think that a lot of people put a lot less on their resume, who may or may not interview as well or worse than Eric the enemy, like whatever you want to throw out there. I think the facts sort of speak for themselves. And it's a shame that he has decided that he's going to have to go elsewhere outside of Andy Reid's shadow in hopes of sort of proving himself more than many, many coaches have to prove themselves in order to be first time head coaches. But alas, this is the NFL world that we're in.

And it's the world that we're in. Jonathan Jones is with us for a couple more minutes, the lead NFL and CBS insider. And Jonathan, we're going to talk about Calvin Ridley. But in light of what we were saying about Eric the enemy and how it's frustrating and it doesn't make sense, here's Brian Flores, who chooses a new job where diversity is important, where he can see it. So hearing his comments and looking at the Minnesota Vikings organization, how do you like the fit with Brian in Minneapolis?

Yeah, it's fantastic. And, you know, I was under the impression of Kevin O'Connell that Quasi Adofo mentions a GM there that they were really targeting somebody who could be versatile. And one of the things that I loved from Brian Flores in his press conference on Wednesday was he was actually going to run a 3-4 or 4-3.

He said something to the effect of what team are we playing? And just the fact that you can be malleable, that you understand, of course you understand what defenses in today's NFL need to be to face these offenses, that he's going to play to his personnel and their strengths. I really, really like what I heard there. And obviously those Vikings need to take that step on the defensive side, no question about it. But I like what they've done.

Really over two regimes, right? Because Rick Spielman did a fantastic job getting in a lot of talent over there. And Quasi has really sort of turned the bottom of that roster to make sure that they're getting some quality contributions from the bottom half of the roster.

And so I think that it's worked really well. And I think that Flo getting in there and really getting that opportunity is going to make the Vikings an NFC North favorite, at least they should be. Well, they definitely need the boost on defense. They need his expertise and his toughness, his experience of looking forward to seeing how that plays out. Calvin Ridley, all the rage because he's eligible for reinstatement. Going back to his one-year suspension, and now Jonathan, in light of what we know about all of these sports leagues who are embracing the gambling. Is this a cautionary tale to the rest of the league, to other athletes? Does it work that way?

I hope it works that way. I kind of struggled with how folks didn't... I'll just say this. He touched the stove and the stove was hot, right?

Now, should the stove have been hot? Should there have been rules that if you place a bet on a seven-game parlay on your phone while you're bored one day, that you should lose your livelihood for a year? Of course not. But are all of these guys told, hey, don't bet.

I have to go through these seminars myself. I don't place bets. I don't do it. I don't pay attention to any of that stuff. And so I don't want to necessarily say shame on Calvin Ridley, but there is a much larger conversation to be had about where the NFL, where a number of institutions are going with sports gambling.

And how quickly it's moving, how ubiquitous it all is, and the potential perils of that in the future. I think those are fascinating conversations. I hate, ultimately, personally, that Calvin Ridley had to sit out a year.

I don't think that it's necessarily fair. I look forward to him shining for the Jacksonville Jaguars and I'll say this. The Jags made the move, a very unconventional move, to trade for him because Trent Balkey, the general manager, realized how poor this free agency class was going to be at wide receiver.

And he said, listen, I'll go ahead and send what I need to send for a guy who can be and can return to that number one form. Because when you look at this upcoming free agent class, there is no receiver that is close to Calvin Ridley and the Jags have him and they only had to let him sit for half the season. And they already set the tone for the end of last season with their meteoric rise to win the AFC South. So watch out for them coming up in 2023. All right, Jonathan, I always end this away with analysts on the show, insiders, another storyline, one that we haven't hit that really intrigues you as we go into the offseason.

Cool. I am fascinated by the sort of numbers we're going to see on these contracts. When you go back to a couple of years ago when we were in COVID, I think there was only one contract that was for more than $100 million in total. And that was Ryan Tannefeld's contract with the Titans. We saw that change over the last couple of years. Well, we just experienced the largest salary cap spike in the salary cap era. I think it was almost $17 million from year to year. And we are anticipating an even larger spike next year because of the media deals and how that money is going to kick in. How big are these contracts going to be?

How sort of eye-popping? I bet you, Amy, we're going to see numbers. We're going to see headlines come mid-March. This is the most money that's ever been spent in an NFL free agency. And then three years later, we're going to realize, or we're going to have more stories like we did with the NBA a couple years ago during their big spike about, hey, maybe we shouldn't spend like that.

So be on the lookout for who spends and who doesn't. Well, and last year it was the wide receiver position that got the astronomical raises and all the huge contracts. We know quarterbacks are in line for it, of course, but is there another position that you think might benefit? Offensive line. Much like real estate and how they're not making any more dirt, they also aren't making these dudes at 340 pounds who can hold up against some of these pass rushers who are coming in running four threes at 260 pounds. So if you can get you an offensive lineman, you know, at the top of the draft or in free agency, if one falls from the heavens like manna, you are absolutely going to give that man whatever he wants because you got to have him.

Oh, the O-line, the key, the anchor to everything in the NFL to be sure. All right, great stuff. So you can find Jonathan Jones on Twitter at jjones9, the lead NFL insider for the NFL and CBS and also a correspondent with Real Sports HBO. We're excited to have him on the show for the first time. Hope it's not the last. Jonathan, thank you so much for a couple of minutes. Amy, I appreciate you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-18 15:42:41 / 2023-02-18 15:52:15 / 10

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