NFL insider notes: Matt Rhule firing opens door to potential trades with Panthers & more from Week 5

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Now that the dam has broken in the trade market before the Nov. 1 deadline, and now that the Carolina Panthers have fired their head coach after just one win in five games, teams should dial the area code 704 to see what players the Panthers might want to offload.

Teams have been sniffing around the Panthers in recent weeks, checking their pulse on the good young players on the roster. I expect teams to make calls to Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Brian Burns and Derrick Brown.

That doesn’t mean Carolina general manager Scott Fitterer even has to listen, especially right now with three more weeks until the trade deadline. But a star watching another team rebuild? A talented receiver at the start of his second contract? A Pro Bowl defensive end ready for his second contract? Pro Bowl-caliber defensive tackle finally hitting his stride in third year? Each of these players – to one degree or another – is enticing to the majority of the NFL.

The trades Carolina makes or doesn’t make will inform how she views her immediate future.

Daniel Jones didn’t like the New York Giants letting him know they wouldn’t pick his fifth-year option in 2023, but the quarterback pledged to make quicker decisions and make 2022 the best season of his career.

After five games into the season with freshman head coach Brian Daboll, everything is going according to plan for Jones. And if that continues, the Giants may have to pay extra to keep him, which was an issue they hoped they would have to deal with.

Daniel Jones isn’t the main reason the Giants are 4-1 right now, but his ability to protect football along with the kind of grit needed to position a team lacking in overwhelming talent has gone a long way. have them among the NFCs. best teams.

Jones became just the fourth quarterback in history to complete a 14-point comeback against powerhouse Aaron Rodgers, helping Big Blue beat the Pack 24-5 to end the game Sunday in London.

Jones has just two interceptions and a lost fumble in five games. He’s at C-level right tackle Evan Neal in Week 3 after going 5-0. He boasts the highest completion percentage (66.7) of his career, and his 230 rushing yards trail only Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts among quarterbacks.

When the Giants turned down Jones’ fifth-year option over the summer, it meant they wouldn’t commit to paying him more than $22 million in 2023. They had seen the Browns and Panthers regret their decisions on options with Baker Mayfield. and Sam Darnold, respectively, and getting out of cape hell in 2022 didn’t make much sense if you couldn’t get out of it in 2023.

The flip side was that the Giants would have to spend more to keep Jones in-house if his game called for it this season. The franchise tag is expected to be around $31 million next year if the Giants want to keep Jones but can’t agree on a contract.

You can predict that about half of the NFC could reasonably have a different Week 1 starter from this year into next year, with four or five other AFC teams doing the same. Some of those teams would be waiting for the draft for players like Bryce Young and CJ Stroud, but many would be looking for a veteran option. That would drive up the price on the open market for a player like Jones, who would fetch far more than the two-year, $14.285 million contract Mitch Trubisky received from Pittsburgh last offseason.

The Giants will also have a decision to make with running back Saquon Barkley, who is now playing his fifth-year option and leads the league in rushing. They have the 2023 cap space, and they’ll have more once they can offload Kenny Golladay’s contract via trade this month or outright release next offseason.

If having to pay a little extra means the Giants’ quarterback play lifted them to a playoff run in what was expected to be a down year, I think they’ll take that.

Cleveland tackles defensive weak spot

In Sunday’s loss to the Chargers, the Cleveland Browns missed 11 tackles, had no outs and allowed five plays for at least 20 yards.

A few hours later, they had agreed to the terms of a trade with Atlanta which brings Deion Jones to Cleveland.

The trade had been in the works for some time, and the teams traded late-round picks in 2024 to do so. Jones restructured his contract in the offseason to make it more tradeable because things didn’t work out according to Arthur Smith’s team vision. The Falcons placed him on injured reserve with a shoulder injury to start the season, which helped him heal and ensured he wouldn’t get hurt again chasing a trade partner.

The Browns as a whole have had their ups and downs this season. The defense struggled to tackle — the 11 missed tackles are the second in five games with the 13 missed against Pittsburgh leading — and their 5.3 yards allowed per carry are third-worst in the league. Even though the offense is posting the top 6 numbers in points and yards, back-to-back interceptions late in the game from Jacoby Brissett helped them lose the last two ball games.

Cleveland has lost three games by a combined six points, but the Browns have just a plus-8 margin in points against their opponents.

The Browns are hoping Jones fits better into their defensive scheme which contains elements of the Dan Quinn scheme that Jones once thrived on.

Watson back in the building

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is back at the Cleveland facility after being kicked out the first month of the season. Watson’s suspension began at 4 p.m. on August 30 and he was not allowed to return to the facilities or interact with his teammates and coaches until today, after the conclusion of the fourth game of the year .

Watson remained in the Cleveland area working with personal trainer Quincy Avery. He can’t train with the team until November 14. He is not eligible to play in a game until December 4.

In August, Watson reached an agreement with the NFL after several massage therapists accused him of sexual misconduct. Watson was never charged and maintained his innocence. The NFL suspended him for 11 games, fined him $5 million and required behavioral treatment with professional clinicians before he could return from suspension.

The locker hurts

Is there anyone in the NFL with a more enviable mindset than Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts? There are guys who understand, and then there are guys who really understand. It hurts.

After a teammate reveled in the Eagles’ clean record in the locker room on Sunday, Hurts took to the podium with a message.

“I hate to hear 5-0. I don’t like to hear it because nobody wanted to mention the record when we were 2-5. Nobody wanted to talk about it so I don’t want to hear it now,” Hurts said. said. “I want to hear that we can come here and control the things that we can take each day and grow and climb. What matters is the process, not anything else.”

This came just days after Hurts spoke for nearly 9 minutes during his weekly press conference without asking a single question about the Cardinals defense.

“I’ll say it too. I haven’t received any questions about the Cardinals. For real, this game, I don’t want you all thinking about it…” Hurts said, rising from the microphone. “They are a very good team that we are going to face. They have a very good defense – disruptive up front. They have speed at the back. So let’s not set a precedent for that. It’s a good football team.”

He couldn’t have been more professional and respectful, yet forceful, in his admonitions to teammates and the media. Philadelphia is incredibly lucky to have this guy.

Flag on game

Nothing can change that at this point, but the Falcons are still awaiting league news on the controversial passer-roughing penalty given to Grady Jarrett in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers.

The Atlanta 47’s third-and-5 with 3 minutes left, Jarrett fired Tom Brady for what should have given the Falcons an opportunity to win the game. Instead, referee Jérôme Boger threw a flag on the play.

“What I had was the defender grabbing the quarterback while he was still in the pocket and throwing him to the ground unnecessarily,” Boger said, according to the pool report. “That’s what I made my decision on.”

Of course, that’s what a bag is. Jarrett fired Brady. The game should have taken the Buccaneers, up 21-15, from their own 43 before the 2-minute warning. Instead, the Bucs got another round of downs and finally emptied time after another early conversion.

He defies credulity to believe that Jarrett’s play should have been reported. Falcons coach Arthur Smith said he didn’t get an explanation from an official during the game, and that Boger’s after the game was surely not satisfactory.

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