With the NFL preseason kicking off for all 32 teams around the league this weekend, Heavy’s NFL mailbag series continues on August 12 — hosted by Heavy NFL insider Matt Lombardo — to answer questions about your favorite team(s).
With the Roquan Smith trade request, what team(s) do you think make the most sense from a salary cap and fit standpoint?
Roquan Smith’s current situation is as complex and complicated as we have seen in recent memory, for multiple factors.
The timing for Smith couldn’t be worse, as teams have essentially set the top of their rosters, and few have the cap space to absorb a new contract, which could pay the former No. 9 overall pick would command from his new team.
“I’m not sure they’re going to get close to the pick they’re asking for,” an NFL general manager told Heavy, on the condition of anonymity to speak freely about another team. “And on top of that, they’d have to find a team willing to pay big-time money for a linebacker.”
Multiple league sources believe the Bears will most likely need to settle for a second and/or third-round pick in return for Smith, if they are even able to find a trade partner with the draft capital and cap space to fit a new long-term extension.
“He doesn’t help a team get any closer to winning a Super Bowl,” a high-profile agent familiar with the linebacker market told Heavy.
Smith, who finished last season with 155 total tackles, 3.0 sacks, and held opposing quarterbacks to an 86.7 passer rating when targeting him, would be an immediate and significant upgrade over Anthony Walker in the middle of a Browns defense capable of contending for a Super Bowl immediately.
Likewise, if the Cowboys — who currently have $21.4 million in cap space — trade for Smith, they could leave Micah Parsons at his natural position as an edge rusher, and drop Smith into the middle of one of the more dominant linebacking corps in the league.
But, some are hesitant to believe that a deal will actually get done.
“The other problem is, he doesn’t have an agent,” the agent said. “So, no one can backchannel on his behalf, teams can’t talk to him directly, and everything that other teams hear or get told, gets filtered through the Bears in some fashion, which likely is motivated by them making it harder to trade for him.”
Smith’s situation bears monitoring, but at least for now, it would seem most likely that he is back in Chicago when the regular season kicks off next month.
New York Giants
With the question marks at tight end, is there a free agent out there that makes sense for the Giants?
With the exception of Jared Cook and Jimmy Graham, both 35, the free agent cupboard is pretty bare at tight end, but this is definitely a position that the Giants will look to add either via a trade or off the waiver wire as teams trim their rosters this month.
Seahawks tight end Colby Parkinson is an ideal scheme fit for how Brian Daboll deployed the Bills’ tight ends during his time in Buffalo. Even though league sources say Seattle is high on Parkinson’s upside, this offseason’s trade for Noah Fant and Will Dissly could make the Stanford product the odd man out.
At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, Parkinson is a prototypical red-zone target, where Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense could use a significant boost.
In 2021, Parkinson caught 5 of 7 targets for 33 yards, but his frame, speed, and athleticism give him the chance to be far more productive in a more prominent role.
Which rookie do you think will have the most impact for their respective team in 2022?
The trend of top rookie wide receivers making an immediate impact should continue this season.
London has the frame, 6-foot-4 and 209 pounds, combined with elite speed — he claims a 4.4 second 40-yard dash — to challenge Kyle Pitts as the favorite target for whoever winds up behind center for the Falcons.
Atlanta will field one of the least-talented rosters in the NFL, but London and Pitts should inherit the vast majority of targets in the passing game. In 2021, Pitts was only the second rookie tight end in league history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards, and London could eclipse even that level of production.
What will the split of carries (and catches?!?) in the Dallas backfield this year?
It is going to be fascinating to watch how the Dallas Cowboys‘ backfield takes shape this season.
Here’s the breakdown of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard’s touches in 2021:
Ezekiel Elliott: 284 total touches, 1,289 yards from scrimmage, 12 total touchdowns
Tony Pollard: 169 total touches, 758 yards from scrimmage, 2 touchdowns
While Elliott was clearly the more productive running back, there’s an argument that Pollard offers more upside.
According to Pro Football Focus, 17 of Pollard’s runs were for 15 yards or more, compared to 24 of Elliott’s. That means Pollard rattled off an explosive run on 13% of his carries to Elliott’s 10%.
Pollard’s emergence has made the Cowboys’ six-year $90 million extension look like an albatross. And that may be even more exaggerated after this season, because there is certainly a world, based on last year’s production, where Pollard logs closer to 180 carries compared to Elliott’s 200, or so this upcoming season.
What’s your favorite type of potato and why?
Because this mailbag drops around lunchtime each Friday, how can we not answer a food question every now and then?!
It would be easy to go chalk here, and say waffle fries — seasoned or unseasoned, and they’re so versatile. But, I’m going to go in a different direction.
It’s twice-baked potatoes.
You get the best of three worlds here; cheesy mashed potatoes on top, with a bit of baked potato flavor, and of course the skin. Come to think of it, I think I’ll scrounge up some twice-baked potatoes to make with smashburgers this weekend.