Heavy’s football mailbag series returns for Week 10 — hosted by Heavy Sports NFL insider Matt Lombardo — to answer questions about your favorite team(s).
The NFL trade deadline is in the rear-view mirror, the playoff race is heating up, and as some teams set sights on the postseason, others are already at least keeping one eye trained on formulating offseason plans to rebuild.
In Week 9, the Philadelphia Eagles improved to 8-0 as the NFL’s last unbeaten, the New York Jets knocked off the division rival and previously high-flying Buffalo Bills, and Justin Fields staked his claim to the future of the Chicago Bears’ quarterback position.
Those developments all have the chance to become key storylines over the final eight weeks of the regular season.
Any thoughts about QB plan in Detroit? Is Jared Goff the guy and even if he is, will the team look at the spot close in 2023 NFL draft?
Through the first eight weeks of the 2022 season, Jared Goff is having a pretty standard season, by Goff standards.
Goff has completed 62.9% of his passes for 2,041 yards with 14 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. However, the Detroit Lions are just 2-6 at the juncture of the season formerly known as the midpoint, and Goff has surpassed 300 passing yards just twice, so far.
Has Goff, to date, done enough to sway the Lions out of taking them out in the 28-year-old’s contract that would create $20.65 million in cap space after triggering a $10 million dead-money charge by releasing him post-June 1, 2023?
Might the Lions actually view Goff as the long-term solution?
“Absolutely not,” an agent familiar with the quarterback market, and the Lions’ thinking, told Heavy. “He hasn’t done nearly enough, and they are going to be within range to get one of the top quarterbacks coming out [in the 2023 draft].”
If the season ended today, Detroit would own the No. 4 overall pick, all but assured to come away from Kansas City and next spring’s draft with one of Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud or Will Levis as the quarterback of the future.
Barring some miraculous turnaround from Goff — and even then, the cap space is far more valuable from a team-building standpoint than a middling veteran quarterback — it would seem the former No. 1 overall draft pick is entering his final nine games in a Lions uniform.
Do the Bears plan to bring back veteran Cody Whitehair back beyond this season?
The Chicago Bears‘ top organizational priority, especially after trading for wide receiver Chase Claypool at the deadline, is continuing to collect elite offensive line talent in front of quarterback Justin Fields. Retaining guard Cody Whitehair is a significant part of that equation.
Whitehair, 30, has two years remaining on a five-year, $51.25 million contract signed back in 2019, and is arguably the Bears’ most consistently dominant offensive lineman. In 263 total snaps this season, Whitehair has not allowed a sack and has surrendered just 5 total quarterback pressures.
“Why wouldn’t the Bears bring a guy like [Whitehair] back?” a league source told Heavy. “He’s their best offensive lineman, a leader, and even though he makes a lot of money and the Bears are shaking things up a bit, it’s hard to just replace guys like him who bring so much to the table.”
Chicago is also uniquely positioned in that the Bears are projected to have approximately $114.5 million in cap space, which leads the NFL in 2023. For comparison’s sake, the Atlanta Falcons are slated to have the second-most spending flexibility in 2023 at $68.3 million, according to Spotrac.
The Bears could create $9.89 million in additional cap space, by releasing Whitehair post-June 1, but would trigger dead-money charges of $4.202 million in 2023, and $4.104 million in 2024, by doing so. Chicago would also significantly weaken the offensive line by moving on from Whitehair.
“With Justin Fields really starting to look better, that team really needs to have some legit guys in front of him to protect him,” the source said. “So, I would think they see value in what someone like Cody brings in a variety of ways.”