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The Around the NFL podcast is a Technical Lighthouse. From the Chris Wesling podcast studio, it's Around the NFL. I am Dan Hansis. Got a hero here, Greg Rosenthal. The Technical Lighthouse, as Mark referred to, Greg Olson, Fox Play by Playman. That will be a conversation point.


I am begging you to shut up.


Later in today's show, Mark, cumber down, because we will have the great Andrew Marshawn, late of the New York Post, now of the Athletic, breaking down the NFL media landscape. So that's going to be cool. Greggy, how are you?


I'm doing great. This is an exciting show. A lot of guests, JB Long to talk Aaron Donald. It was a sneaky, frisky weekend by the NFL. The NFL said, Oh, you thought free agency was done? We're going to give you a little frisky news items to find out while you're at your son's Nerf gun party on Saturday afternoon.


Ouh! Kaleen, relax. Yeah, it was in general, this feels like 2024 was the year that the week, the free agency kickoff week, it just changed. Annoyingly, and I'm sure this happens, it's a thing that happens based on the calendar, the way the calendar shifts. But I always used to love, especially when I lived in New York, the March 16th, St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, living on the Upper West Side and just parking in a bar and watching the first two days in March Madness. I used to love that. That was two of the best days of the year. And now there were no games. It was just Selection Sunday on Sunday. And that was different. And I don't like change. This year for free agency, I feel like it used to be Sunday, quiet, Monday, crazy, Tuesday, crazy, Wednesday, big stuff going on, Thursday, a little quieter, Friday, pretty dead. But this year, it just felt like wall to wall news. Maybe except for Wednesday, ironically, which was the start of the new league here. But there was a lot to digest, and we're going to get into all of it.


Everything's moved faster. As of Sunday night, I think there was only 27 players left off the 101, and that was the one-on-one for Monday. The original one was down to 14, 15 players. So team's just moving faster. And to the bear's credit, I guess, not letting some of the stories in the chargers with Keenan Allen will get to linger. That could be lingering for a long time.


If you're wondering why you haven't heard much from Mark Sesler yet, he is not with us today. In retrospect, when his Instagram was on fire with 1992 photos, Whenever Camp Happiness is at the forefront of Mark's socials, in some ways, he's in 1992, and it's hard to get back to 2024.


You know what I mean? Right. It's a jet lag for a 32-year journey back to 2024, but he'll be back on Wednesday and Thursday for a big around the AFC and NFC week.


But for our knowledge, in the future, when Camp Happiness is going off on the feed, we should plan ahead. Okay. I think that's just a good way to get ahead of things. Fair?


I want to go to Camp Happiness. Sounds nice. It's hard to leave, though, once you go there. I did go to Camp Wilder as a kid, which has probably a similar vibe, but that wasn't like a stay over with me.


Yeah, in the cold town, there's no going to camps. You go to grandma's house and kill eight hours. See you when I get home from work. It's tough. I was playing those wiffle ball and taking a walk up to 711 up there on North Middletown Road.


Can you carry this brick up the stairs and then bring it back? You're like, Why? I'm just going to return the brick back to where it was. Just do it, Danny.


They gave a dollar fifty in your hand. You went up to that 711 and you grabbed a slurpy. Then if you were lucky, a couple of pieces of that five cent bazooka Joe with bubble gum.


I do have guilt.


That was summer. And Wiffleball?


It was the same. Except ours, there was a forest behind our house, and you could cut through the forest. It was about a mile plus. Sounds murdery. To get to the variety store, it was called. In hindsight, I feel regrettable that we would steal a decent amount from that variety store because we didn't have any money. You pay for it. You maybe buy a little bit and put some more in your pocket.


Well, that's rogue delinquent behavior. We would never think to do that at the local 711, but that's the difference between Western Massachusetts and New York, Rockland County. Hardworking people that would never steal from a man trying to make ends meet.


I have regrets.


It's not too late to make a phone call.Okay.Probably dead.


Probably not in business anymore.


Probably I'm going to put him underground from the stress of his financial failings as a result of your malfeasance. Let's get to it. Let's focus on. Come on, Mark. Let's get to it. Let's do some news. A shout out to all the other sports podcasts out there making a banger, man. Around the NFL, part of my take is always good. And then the Dan Levitard show. I mean, Dan's always killing it. So he's been doing it for a long, long time. A couple of notes there. It's the New Heights podcast, of course, the Kelsey Brothers' winner of Best Overall podcast at the iHeart Podcast Awards. Shout out to David Singer, our gifted talent booker here at NFL Media, who put that on my radar. And a little Mia Kolpa from all Zusser, who was a little snarly, a little bitter. Maybe took a shot at the Kelsey Brothers' acceptance speech, the video, pre-recorded acceptance speech At the awards show we attended in person, lost in person, while they won and delivered the prerecorded speech. Now I feel bad because that was a class move by Travis.Was.


That from that or from their podcast?


That was from what? The acceptance Which I think that was recorded separately as a part of the iHeart Awards.


That's exciting. But what we just listened to was from their most recent episode, as I understand. He was looking down, so I don't know how familiar he is with the program, but I do appreciate the thought, the the shout out. We were mentioned first, ahead of Pardon My Take and Levitard.


I think there's something to take out of that. I think there's absolutely something to take out of that.


We are getting to the age where there's a chance some of these guys, if they were into podcasts, were listening to the podcast when they were coming.


You said getting to the age?


Well, I just mean we're going to talk Aaron Donnell later in his retirement, right? We were there talking about his draft day. Yes. So that means people coming into the league now, they were 10 years old. Maybe they were listening to our podcast or something.


Are you dating me? Let's get to it. Justin Fields on the move. By the way, I called this one. We had Rotopad on. We did our We all threw out Justin Fields, Trade Options. I said the Stealers. Good job. Bully for me. Justin Fields is going to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick. Now, that can elevate to a fourth-round pick if Fields plays a bunch for Pittsburgh this year. But that is very much up in the air because, of course, Greggy, a week previous, the Steelers traded for Russell Wilson. We're going to get to Kenny picking in a second, too. He exits the picture. But what we're hearing, what's being reported is that Mike Tomlin has told Russell Wilson that he is indeed going to be the guy they see as their week one starter. That's what he's saying right now anyway. But Fields now joins that totally remade quarterback room in Pittsburgh, and the bears are left wondering how we handled this and whether we botched an opportunity to get much more bang for their buck with fields who, as recently as the end of the regular season, a lot of people, including myself, thought they could fetch a high pick, maybe a second round, or it ends up being as low as potentially a day three pick.


Yeah, it's a day three pick regardless, right? Sixth round or fourth round, and it's not even this year. I don't think they could have gotten more unless they potentially waited until draft day or potentially waited until the fall. So when Ryan Pols, their general manager, is putting out there, the bears have put out there through sources. There's so many angles to this. I want to get to the on field stuff. But while we're talking trade terms, that they could have maybe gotten a little better of a deal, but they wanted to do right by him.


I don't need to hear all that. That's so phony.


It might be vaguely true, but the terms would only be slightly better. Maybe it was a hard fifth or a hard fourth, something like that. It doesn't matter. They weren't getting what they wanted, and the The wording is they started with a framework of the Sam Darnal Trade. Again, good job by you, Dan. You mentioned that trade, I believe, in this very context, and that was what they were looking for, which was maybe a couple of late round picks or pick swaps this year and a second pick in the future. They found out this offseason, that offer wasn't coming. As the free agency took off and guys like Sam Bradford got jobs, and we're seeing these other backup spots get jobs, It became clear no one was giving Justin Fields an opportunity to start right now, at least. It seems we were just looking at him for a backup. I think his contract played a bigger role than everyone is making it out to be in this. No one was He's going to pick up his fifth-year option. Now, I'm a little... I think there could have been a case to be made that, Hey, let's pick up Justin Fields.


Let's pick up the fifth-year option. Let's commit to him. That's two years for 25 million. That's pretty reasonable. And he's our guy the next... No one was looking at him that way. And then once they got to that point and realized no one was looking at him that way, no one's going to give up a good pick for one year of a guy who's a backup or competing. And the one little thing I do believe the bear is on is they probably had a bunch of lackluster their options. Whether he said the Steelers were the choice that he wanted, that's what I would suspect him and his agent, or that they just said, Look, this is probably the best chance with a good organization and a potential chance to play sooner than later, of all the choices, including it's been reported the Eagles were one of them, at least you have a pathway here. We'll send you to the best pathway.


I guess I'm still a little bit surprised how it all ended up playing out because I just thought he-Oh, I am, too, to be clear. I thought while he certainly hasn't, he'd still be a member of the bears if he had truly fulfilled potential there or what they believed he could be. But I thought he's shown enough that there would be a team that would really, yeah, like that, Darnold trade. The Panthers traded for Darnold thinking he was a depreciated asset that could be a big-time player, potentially. Nobody saw him that way, apparently, based on this. That ESPN reporting from Courtney Cronin was an additional... The bears had an additional offer with stronger draft capital from a team with an established starter, but the team decided they wanted to put fields in a position to continue his development. And what rubs me the wrong way about that type of... Not the reporting. The reporting is fine. But the way the spin is... If you really cared about Justin Field's development, you could have had a much more cohesive plan when he was in your building and you saw him as the future. And now you're going on the way out the door be like, Oh, we're going to make sure we take care of him.


You screwed up his development with the way you handled the first three years of his career or four years of his career. So that whole thing, that me the wrong way. But in general, I think Fields, in terms of his future, I think it is a pretty decent spot. And I'll give the Stealers credit. I have to say, do I love Russell Wilson or Justin Fields? No. But if they're going this route in terms of trying to figure out the position, they could have done a lot worse. When you look at what they gave up to get both Wilson or what they paid for Wilson, which is nothing, what they gave up for Fields, which is close to nothing. And now they're two lottery tickets, and you to see what happens.


I think they did a great job. I think O'Mahr, in terms of where they were and what they could do, they did the best that they could do. Now, they probably don't have a long-term quarterback, but I think Fields has a better chance than probably anyone else was going to be. I think it's important to remember with Chicago, Ryan Polls, their GM, did not draft Justin Fields, and it's been mentioned a lot. That's just how it goes. They messed up his development, but it was like, Matt Nagui to star and a different GM to star and ownership, all that stuff. The Steelers basically gave up nothing to get an upgrade from Kenny Picket and Mason Rudolf. It's amazing how little that they had to give up. Now, if Justin Fields balls out and ends up improving that draft pick from the sixth to the fourth round because he does play more than 51% of his steps, by the way, I would guess he would. It was like a coin flip to me. I think Justin Fields right now is a better player than Russell Wilson. And I understand why you told Russell Wilson he's the starter, and Russell Wilson's already sending out tweets like, Welcome aboard, Justin Fields, and hopefully that's all a good relationship.


You're going to let those two guys compete. They're so similar, though. Justin Fields holds the ball a long time, isn't known for reading the middle of the field that great, is incredible making plays on his own, is one of the better quarterbacks in the league in terms of his deep accuracy and can spin the ball great. Who does that sound like? A young Russell Wilson, and Russell Wilson is an old Russell Wilson. I'm not saying Justin Fields is going to reach the level that Russell Wilson at was early in his career. He's obviously behind compared to where Russell Wilson was in his third year. But the athleticism is there. I don't know. I can't imagine in a fair competition, actually, that Justin Fields doesn't get a chance eventually.


Plus, they're going to want to get a look at him, right? Because he's under contract for one more year. So, yeah, I would think Wilson has to play extremely well to keep Fields off the field, and we'll see if he can do it. I do have my doubts, but in general, I give them high grades. Now, we mentioned pickets, so why don't we just talk about them here? So the Eagles go and they do business with the Steelers. They acquire the former first-round pick in exchange for... Let's see. The Eagles send the number 98 pick in this year's draft and a seventh-round pick next year. And it's picket and the 120th overall pick of this draft. The 120th overall pick. What is that?


Fifth, fourth?Fourth.It's only a move up of 22 spots, and they had to give up a seventh. They didn't even pick up an extra pick, the Steelers, to get rid of Picket.


There are reports out there, and I think it spoke on it today in his introductory press conference, which is interesting. He spoke on behalf of his new team or with his new team that he did not take the Russell Wilson move well and shut down some workouts that were planned and basically said, Get me out of here. And maybe Pittsburgh was like, Yeah, you got it, buddy. But in the end, I feel like he is a cautionary tale about when we talk about the draft coming up. That draft, famously, was not loaded with quarterback talent, as I recall.


Yeah, it was Desmond Ritter and Malik Willis. There really wasn't a winner. These three quarterbacks. Except for Rock Purdy in the south.


All those guys. But teams cannot help themselves, it seems. There's always going to be, even in a bad quarterback year, the teams are like, Well, we'll be the first one to take a guy. It's later in the first round, but you still end up turning over two years of your franchise to the guy, and the Steelers ultimately set themselves back with a really middling prospect in the big picture, and that's how he played.


Right. I was never excited about Kenny Pick. A lot of people weren't. People had third, fourth-run greens out of him.


But he knew the facility. Remember that?


He knew where the bathroom was. Which is why this reporting, and people got upset with the reporting that now it's been convenient that it comes out from local reporters that he didn't want to dress as an emergency quarterback last year in week 18 that he felt like it was insulting. There's a question of whether he was truly healthy or not. The Steelers did him wrong no matter what because Matt Canada was his offensive coordinator. It's a really crazy tenure in Pittsburgh, if you think about it, because Matt Canada was his coordinator. Then they fire him. Then if you remember, Kenny Pickett had the very best game of his career in the game after they fired Matt Canada. Everyone was like, Wow, they got rid of Canada. Pickett's great. Then Pickett got hurt the very next game. Never played for the Pittsburgh Steelers ever again. Mason Rudolf comes in, looks pretty good. They decide not to give Pickett the job back in week 18 and for the playoffs, and yet they get rid of Mason Rudolf, too. Anyways, at that point, it was clear Mike Tomlin and them were probably just out on Kenny Picket. They did a bad job, but I can't kill them because I'm the guy, and I've talked about this with Dave Damoschek on his Minus 3 podcast.


He's been killing this. My thing is flood the with quarterbacks until you get one. Just keep taking them. Keep taking them. Now, the better process would have been take Picket in the second or third round. He was not worth a first-round pick. But if you don't have one, keep taking them.I think they're doing a goodThat's what I meant.


Just because it's a back end of the first round and nobody's been picked yet at that position, I feel like that sometimes clouds the thoughts.


Yes, they can make themselves into it. It reminds me of J. P. Lossman. It reminds me of E. J. Manuel. These late first-round picks at quarterback, other than, I guess, Aaron Rodgers. That was pretty good. And Lamar Jackson. I'm really proving myself wrong. Those were really late picks.


But there were other quarterbacks in those draft classes.


No, I know. What I'm trying to say on the Steelers, though, is they're doing that flood the zone thing right now in a great way. The Eagles get a backup quarterback. They used to say they wanted to be a quarterback factory. They basically gave up nothing to get a decent backup quarterback in Kenny Pickett. It's a good process for them. But I would not, if I was the Steelers, rule out taking a second or third round quarterback this year, too. I don't think it's that crazy. This is a good quarterback class. Next year is supposed to be bad. There's seven, eight guys. You're probably not going to use your first round pick in it, but there's some guys that people are pretty intrigued about that could end up going in the third round. It reminds me a little bit of when Russell Wilson was drafted. That was a three-tier battle. I believe it was Whitehurst, who was a trade acquisition. Matt Flynn, who was a previous free agent pickup that wasn't really working out.


No, that was Flynn's first season.


That was his first season. And Russell Wilson. It ended up being the third-round pick that worked out. They didn't think Russell Wilson was going to be who he turned out to be, or else they would have taken him earlier. So just keep trying them. You never know, you might hit one.


I've talked about it on the show before, but I remember having a conversation on the roof on top of a downtown LA, like elementary school and being taken aback by how much Carroll was talking up Russell Wilson, even though we had done all this writing and reporting about Matt Flynn signing with the team earlier in the offseason. It was like, Oh, okay. Also, the Eagles, by the way, did some business on the defensive side of the ball. They signed former Bucaneers' linebacker, Devon White, to a one-year contract. That is a former first-round pick, White, as I recall.


Former second-team All-Pro.worth.


A flyer there.


I think people were talking about him. It was like, Could he be Super Bowl MVP? He had a monster playoff. It was worth a flyer, but really shows he's the type of guy that color announcers were always used to be like, Oh, he's one of the best linebackers linking against the free agency, and nobody wanted They also signed your boy, Jake Elliott, to a nice big contract. It's kickers making some great money these days.


Finally. Well, what is it relative to the cap percentage?


Well, you're right. It's not much.


It's time for kickers to really take a bite into the salary cap. That's what I want. Not just more money because there's more money being spent.


I see what you're doing. Four-year, $24 million contract. It's pretty good, though. That's the highest. Now, we would actually have to stay on the team that whole time to get the end. I'm sure it's backloaded. But the way he's kicked, he's been as consistent as anyone in the since he started. Other than Justin Tucker, he could actually get all that money. He's a badass.


He certainly is. Also, Keenan Allen, badass. Did you know Allen last year? He was the one consistent threat on that offense after Austin Echler went into a quick decline and Mike Williams blew out his ACL. Keenan Allen with Justin Herbert last season just kept chugging along. He had 108 catches, then gets injured. He missed the last almost quarter of the season, and he finished with 108 catches for 1,200 yards, seven or eight touch downs. So obviously a premier producer, and now he's on the move because the charger is still dealing with cap hell, send Allen to the bears. So he is entering the final year of a four-year extension. He signed with the chargers before the start of the 2020 season. Now, the 32-year-old joins a bears-wide receiver group that Greggy is starting to look pretty frisky, especially with Caleb Williams, obviously on his way in, it seems.


And the number nine overall draft pick, which is their own draft pick. I don't think they're necessarily done. This is such a good class at receiver. Some people have mentioned them because they still got extra pics. They just picked up another one. I guess it's in the future for fields. But could they move up for one of these three wide receivers at nine and really complete that group? Because Allen He raises the floor, but he's 32 years old on the last year of his contract. Whether he's there long term or not, we'll see. He said in the opening press conference, Look, I'm very open to signing long term here. I wouldn't have come here otherwise. I loved what he said about not taking a pay cut. I do want to circle back to what the Chargers are doing after we talk Alan, because they got Bosa and Mac to take a pay cut. He was just like, That was the best year of my career. I was the best player on the team. I'm not taking a pay cut. He is due 23 million dollars this year, and the bears are going to pay it to him.


It's almost like he's getting a franchise tag plus from the bears, and he deserves it right now. But I get why the chargers in such cap straits were asking him to take a pay cut, and I get why the bears are doing this. It's a fun group. To me, him and DJ Moore are a great tandem because they have similar traits where it's just going to be very tough for defense. It's guys that get open. I do think you want bigger, physical, maybe vertical guy to fill out the group, but it's a great tandem.


That could happen with that draft pick. Let's see.


The chargers, by the way. Yes, go ahead. More details came out on what they did with Mac and Bosa. I just found it interesting. Those guys took significant pay cuts, but they really set up the new contracts that they were like our one-year contract. It was really a win-win. I give them a lot of credit, the player and the team, where they really reduced their cap hits. They're going to have some cap paying next year getting rid of them, but they're almost certainly gone after this year, but not nearly as much as it would have been this year. So they get one more year out of them. They convinced them to take pretty good pay cuts. And so it wasn't, Hey, we're going to blow everything up right now. Let's try to keep playing at a high level. Alan didn't want to do it, but they convinced those two guys to do it. And those two guys are almost certainly going to move on after this year, but they get one more year of them.


Yeah, I like the way they handled it, so we'll see what happens. But if Mike Williams doesn't come back, and he's visiting with the Panthers, the Jets, I believe the Eagles, so that move could be-Stealers.stealers..


Which is that would be a frisky one if he went to the Jets or the Steelers. It makes a lot of sense.


But there's also been talk that he might, the chargers, now if they've moved, Alan might be open to bringing him back on a more A CAB friendly deal. They do have, if that doesn't happen, they got a lot of work to do in terms of building an acceptable stable around Justin Herbert. But yeah, it does feel like a two-year plan here for a Harbaugh. All right, let's Let's talk about the Jets, who make a big signing this weekend. They sign Left tackle, Tyron Smith, formerly of the Cowboys, to a one-year contract. It's a deal that's worth with incentives up to 20 million, which is obviously big-time money for a left tackle, but he's got to hit a bunch of incentives. He's got to stay healthy, which has been part of his story at 33 years old. However, Greggy, for a guy that has consistently graded out pro football focus elsewhere as one of the top blindside protectors in the league. I feel like this was a home run for the Jets to get him on a one-year deal, and he just hoped, and this has not been something they've been connected to with health on their offensive line.


But if he stays healthy, this is a big signing for the Jets who have now remade their offensive line ahead of the draft, which means that opens up their options in that avenue.


Yeah, it's huge for them. I think the base salary is only six and a half million, which I was like, Wow, Tyrine Smith is only getting...


He must have been super annoyed about his market to sign this deal.


The reporting is that the Jets were a little surprised that he took the deal in the end because they just thought, Well, we're going to be out on him. Whether he was annoyed at the Cowboys and just wanted to move on from them or the Jets were just a better opportunity. The Patriots were reportedly maybe in on this, and the Patriots don't really have a great path to being great this year. Maybe the Jets structured in a way where they were the only team that was like, Well, you can make 20 million if you actually play and you ball out. I think it's a game-changing move for them. It's a boomer boss move, but this is the ultimate boomer boss season for them. I think it's great. Nextgen stats had him as the number one tackle in the league last year when he was just in one-on-one matchup. So it's just single. I'm blocking you. He had the third most snaps of any tackle in the league, so he's not getting help. It's like, I'm just blocking you. No one's helping me. And according to them, he gave up the fewest amount of pressures per snap of any freaking tackle in the league.


So he was playing at an elite level. I think he is a Hall of Famer. He's not that old, but he has had pretty serious back injuries. Look, their process hasn't been great because Joe Douglas said he's the O-line guy, and they went into this offseason needing to fill three offensive line starters. And history tells you between Dyrann Smith, John Simpson, and Morgan Moses, one or two of those probably won't work out. That's what history would tell. But on paper, they did about as well as they possibly could have going into this offseason. Yeah.


Here's the thing. I was texting with my Jet fan buddies, and I've been saying I'm pessimistic about this year. It just seems there's too many red flags flapping around this team with Aaron Rodgers, even though, according to a report now, will not be chosen as the VP candidate of RFK.


Which is funny because supposedly it was RFK's donors believing that he wasn't a good choice. It's also like-They chose a billionaire woman instead who can pay.


Yeah, not to get sidetracked, but also all We need to start to realize with this Roger stuff, he loves it. The fact that it was never a real thing, it was never going to happen. But as long as we're all our mouth's agape and we're talking about it, that's what he likes. He likes people being either offended or annoyed with him or just talking about him. That is part of the Roger's deal, and it's frustrating, but he got what he wanted out of that.


I don't know, man.


What he said about Aaron Rodgers on TV is a lie.


He just might want to be the vice president of the United States. I wouldn't doubt that.


But I mean, in this moment in time, I honestly think it was more about, look at me, how I'm connected to this powerful figure, ostensibly powerful figure. I think one thing that Rodgers did not, and maybe this is something with Andrew Marshawn in a bit, one thing that Aaron Rodgers did not take into account is when you are saying weird stuff, allegedly, or crazy conspiracy theory stuff, as a football player, it might not get picked up. But once you are all of a sudden connected to a presidential candidate, people might care about alleged comments about Sandy Hook, and maybe he learned something. But I don't know if he learns anything, honestly. But the Jets offensive line, back to that. I think it'll be good. I was texting with my Jet fan buddies. It only has to once, just one year. These guys got to stay healthy and everything has to work. Every other team, it happens once. Once. Look at their team with the Rodgers and the left tackle there and Brees Hall and Wilson and that defense. We just need one year where things go right.I.


Can't rememberJust once.a team on a now or else year more than the 2024 Jets, and those usually don't go well.Let that be said.In general.


I'm not in. I don't believe, but I'm I'm just thinking to myself, Oh, just once. Just once, it has to work.


You're the most optimistic fan I know, and I love you for that.


All right, let's take a break, and then we'll continue the news. All right. Welcome back. Welcome back. We have more news to hit, so let's spin through it before we welcome Andrew Marshawn to talk.


When I hosted the show, when you We missed one and we came back with the Bayeside. I didn't do it, and some of our listeners got on me that they were saying they showed a lack of confidence to not even give it a shot. I thought it was your IP, but now that I've heard that note, I was like, Okay, I'll give it a shot next time.I'll give it a shot.No.


I think your first instinct was right that it'd be cool to check with me, but I'm totally on board with it being more of the podcast as a whole. No IP. I also would like to hear you try it. Actually, try it. Here, hit it, and let's hear Greggy's version of the All right.


All right. Welcome back.


All right. We're working on it. It's good. All right, last one, and I'll do it just so you can get it in your head for the next shot. We'll do it one more at the end of the show. All right. Welcome back. There's like a descending. It's like a staircase of anticipation. Let's get back to the news. Marquise Hollywood Brown got a job, and I think it's the best possible job in sports, or at least in the NFL right now. Wide receiver of the Kansas City Chiefs. A one-year contract worth up to 11 million This was overdue, I thought, for... Again, we talk about all the time. Teams make a lot of mistakes, and free agency handing out too much money to try to upgrade maybe just a little bit. But still, with the Chiefs, after watching them for four months, even during their Super Bowl run and you're like, God, stop wasting Patrick Mahomes' brilliant with all these Hammoneggers. Do I come out of the first week of free agency feeling incredibly bullish because Hollywood Brown is that guy? No, not personally. But again, maybe he clicks with Mahomes and becomes a true star, which he has...


There have been moments where he has displayed that, but the Ravens thought enough to get rid of him, right? And so did the second team. He was with the Cardinals. So But it's a bit of a meh for me.


Too many drops out of Markees Brown does have a unique skill set in that he gets open deep down the field, and there's only so many of those guys that do it. I mean, he's an absolute upgrade from Marques Valdes-Scoutling for less money. I think they did smart business based on the cap space that they have. The base salary is only seven million. I haven't seen what the incentives were, but I saw them referred to as relatively easy to reach a $4 million incentive. If he goes and has a nice season, but even then, $1,000,000. One year, 11 million is nothing for receivers in this market. Comparing him to Calvin Ridley, yes, I'd rather have Calvin Ridley, of course. But for the money that they were at, I don't think there's that big of a gap between those two guys. I think they're nice players, and Kansas City still has to get someone in the draft, and I think they will.


I'll throw this out there, just in. It also buttons up the last topic because we didn't touch on it. But everyone was pegging the Jets at 10 to take a tackle. Now that they went and got Tyron Smith, they can potentially go another direction. They could also trade down what you're hearing reports that Joe Douglas is looking to trade down. I would love, again, as a football fan, Chiefs come up and get a monster wide receiver prospect. Let's see if you could build another Tyree kill type connection with Patrick Mahomes. I'm hoping, I guess what I'm saying is that they have a big move ahead of them still that hasn't occurred yet. Because then you got Rashi Rice, Hollywood Brown, Kelsi in the latter stage of his career. To me, there's still that one piece missing. To get that offense back where it needs or should be, and we'll see if they get it done.


Brown is a good 2/3. Rice is going to be, I I think a good two in the long run. But yeah, they need one to push those two guys down. This class, and you never know, but man, these classes have been so good at receiver lately, is so deep that the draft next, the Jeremiahs would say they might not even need to move up, really, to take a pretty exciting prospect there late in the first week.


You know my feeling on Jeremiah and his takes.


Who cares about Jeremiah? All right.


The bill is agreed to terms with wide receiver, Curtis Samuel. Your guy, you like yourself some Curtis Samuel, formerly of the Commanders on a three-year, $24 million contract. Again, a lot of funny money here. It's worth up to $30 million. But anyway, I I like this one, Greg. I'm with you. I think Curtis Samuel in the right setup can really be a dangerous player. Man, the right setup was with Josh Allen in Buffalo. I like this one.


No doubt. He's only 27 years old. Somehow it feels like he's been in the league forever. I don't know how that really computes. I guess he turns 28. He must have been in the league when he was 19. That's insane. They will know how to use him. Joe braided, though, actually gets a little too cute sometimes, but I can imagine a lot of getting too cute with Dalton Kincaid and James Cook. We'll see, there hasn't been any buzz whatsoever about getting rid of Stefan Diggs. I think that would be more on draft weekend if that ever would happen. But the fact that it's been so quiet, and now you have Diggs, Shaquille, Samuel. That's a versatile group. It's not incredible, but it's good enough to go win.


All right. In other news, the Los Angeles Rams doing more business. They add a backup quarterback to their room, Jimmy Garoppolo. You may have heard of Jimmy G. You may know that guy. He now lands as a first time. Well, I'm trying to think, actually. I shouldn't say that because obviously, he was famously entrenched as a backup early on. But is this the first contract he has signed now where he is the backup?


I mean, for a minute, he was the highest paid quarterback in the league with San Francisco. No, ridiculous. Yeah, they bet on him big, and he had that early stretch, and then the Raiders. Yeah, what a decline in terms of the types of contracts he was getting from this year to last year.


He lands now behind Matthew Stafford in Los Angeles. It feels like Jimmy G just hanging out in LA, like in Malibu. It feels like it makes sense. It makes sense. But it's a deal, a one-year contract, which is very different on the three-year, $73 million deal he signed last offseason and then played only seven games, and then the Raiders got the hell out of that deal. So he lands there as their backup. They also make a signing, and we're going to get to the Ram's defense, which is now going to be very different because of one missing defensive lineman. But they assigned safety Cameron Curl, formerly of Washington, to a two-year contract, former seventh-round pick who did some good things with Washington.


Right. Quite highly ranked in my top 101 and other top 100s in terms of free agents, top 50 type player, one of the better safeties that was available, calms down a trouble spot, I believe, for them. It's interesting that they've now become the Rams, like the home for wayward quarterbacks. You get Baker in 2022. Carson Wents quietly started a game, or did he just come in? But he played most of that week 18 game that no one watched. He was actually okay in that game. He hasn't gotten a job yet. Now you get Jimmy G. There's something about Stafford and Jimmy G.


It's, again, pretty pick privilege, right? That these Wunderkinds, they believe they could fix what was wrong with these guys.


In this case, it's almost like pretty McVay privilege that everyone wants to go play for him at a discount when their career is at a talented player is at a crossroads because McVay can make you look good. So it's a smart move by Jimmy G. For some reason, Jimmy G feels like a guy. I'm not taking a shot here, but you hear sometimes like, Well, he maybe wouldn't mind being a backup for a little while. He's had a lot going on. A lot of injuries.


Yeah, but you wouldn't say that if he wasn't smoking hot. Right, but If he was a busted up dude, that's probably not your take here.


He was at the center of a power struggle. Colleen, relax. That helped divide the greatest dynasty in the history of the sport. After that, he was the highest paid player.


Did you say his role, and that was?


He was at the center of a power. He had nothing to do with it.


He just got drafted by that team.


But he was there, and Robert Kraft had one opinion. Bill Belichick, I think, would have moved forward with Jimmy G sooner, and then it became this whole thing.


I wonder how you're going to tie this to your take. Go ahead.


I just mean that he's been through a lot. Then he goes to San Francisco. It's massive injuries, huge ups, huge downs, let downs in the playouts, gets benched for a seventh rounder in the end, it makes a huge... The Raiders things are fair. It's like, Hey, let's just go, as you said, hang out in Malibu. Maybe let's chill a little bit for a nice organization. Let's take a little reset.


I guess maybe we're landing in the silver place, but I don't get the vibe that he doesn't really want it. I feel like you're insinuating that.


He's just said it's a good time. He also had surgery on his foot. He's a lot of injuries. He's just been through a lot. Has famously gone on some big-time dates in LA.Oh, yeah. Mr. Chou.


That's a crazy one. That's one of the craziest stories in the last 10 years.


No longer with us, Mr. Chou, the restaurant. I thought you were State. I was like, no.


I think she's-They die young sometimes.


Like wrest.


Very similar. The Vikings make a big move in the draft. They agree with the Texans on a trade that nets Minnesota an additional first-round pick in the 2024 draft. Rapsheet and Pelicero had this on Friday. In the deal, the Vikings acquired the number 23 overall pick in the first round and number 232 in the seventh. The Texans get the number 42 pick in the second round, a number 88, 188 pick in the sixth round, and an additional second round pick in 2025. So the Texans and everybody loves. Team builders love second round picks. Never forget that. They love it. They love the financial flexibility they bring. They trust their internal process to find a guy that's really a first rounder in their mind in the second round. So the Texans is like, We'll move a little bit back. We'll get some extra assets after day one. And now the Minnesota Vikings, and I don't love this, Greg. You know I love my storyline here about Darnold getting a chance, a true chance to be a starter this year. But now that they are armed They have two first-round picks, they have the ammunition to move up to the top of the first round.


Let's see if Minnesota does it.


Yeah, I think it was Quesi, or maybe it was Kevin O'Kanaugh who even admitted, Look, we made this deal with an idea of what our ideal path here is. We'll see if we can execute it or whether it'll happen or not. But either way, we're happy to have this pick. It's very clear the entire NFL knows they're making this pick to have a chance to go take a quarterback, to to go package that 11th and maybe 23rd pick or just be in a position where they can take that quarterback, you're going to have to move up. There's going to be a lot of speculation whether the Patriots move out of three or not. A lot of people believe they're going to stay put and take a quarterback there, and then it would be on Minnesota to trade up and draft the fourth quarterback who everyone presumes is JJ McCarthy. Intrigued. But it's a lot of presumption I don't know. A lot of times, this logic, I went back and listened to one of our... A lot of times, no one knew they were trading up for Trubisky. No one knew they were taking Blake Bordeaux.


It was literally Really no one said any of that stuff. Who knows? Maybe Minnesota has a different idea, maybe New England has a different idea, but it's spicy because according to the little pick chart, the Texans won this trade pretty significantly. I mean, it is a good deal of business for them in what's believed to be the It's the deepest draft in a long time to just move down 18 spots and you get a whole second-round pick for next year. That's a nice job by the Texans.


I'm pushing hard, and I know there's millions of listeners that want this as well. For the Vikings to run it back as a team around the NFL. But man, the Texans' future is seemingly suddenly so bright, both in the near and far.


You would point out maybe last year was our chance for the Texans, where they were really like a fresh new, by all, young option.


New, by all, young option. Yeah, well, that ship sailed.


It would be fun, though. I'm in on it.


It would still be fun. 8:00 to light. Curse of ATN, Leighton Vanderash retires after getting cut by the Cowboys. Michael Gallup. Both Gallup, Greggy and Vanderash, guests on Around the NFL Live from Cowboys Camp last summer.


Yeah, Vanderash neck injuries. We always remember what a player he was early in his career. One of Chris Westlene's favorites. All the best to him because he would have had a much different career if not for these neck injuries, unfortunately.


And how about Gallup's knee injury? He was really on a great path, and now he has to start over somewhere else. Patri We'd sign Ryder's Super KJ Osborne, the Browns hire Mike Vrabel as a consultant and sign another quarterback, Tyler Hunt. Devon Drey Campbell signs with the Niners. Jordan Fuller, DJ Wannam, and Dane Jackson end up with Carolina.


What a weird quarterback room for the Browns. They got a lot of quarterbacks. Just makes you wonder.


They do. The Four Horses. And AJ Dylan returns to the packers. Interesting. Joe Mixon gets a big new contract with the Texans. Titans Cup free agent bust, Andre Dillard. Steelers sign Van Jefferson.


I love that they are moving on quickly when the Titans make a mistake in Andre Dillard. And I love that combo. Aj Dylan and Josh Jake was a frisky big old combo in the backfield.


Cardinal signed Jona Williams, the 30 million, two-year deal. Jake Elliott, we mentioned, gets a new deal. Seahawks signed linebacker Jerome Baker, and Nathan Petermann lands with the Saints.


What are the Saints doing?


Let's take a break and then welcome in our first guest.


Realistically need at least 25 yards.


Love pressure up the middle, runs away, throws across his body, and that is picked. 49ers have it. Greenlaw Still up. He needs to get down. Greenlaw is still on his feet. He's got to go down. Just go down in the game.


San Francisco takes over.


Well, it's fitting. Jordan Love told us this week. He goes, Listen, there's some throws I've made that I know break the cardinal rules of quarterback. The one at the top of the list is you never throw the ball late back across the field. There's the call from Kevin Burkart and Greg Olson, who really quick rise in the industry in terms of being seen as maybe the best, or if not, in the conversation in terms of broadcast teams. And yet, their time as the top of the food chain with Fox could be over with the arrival of Tom braided, and that's why it's time to talk to. This is our dude. This is the guy that you want to go to on all matters sports media, perhaps beyond. We haven't had personal conversations about life and things of that nature yet, but maybe down the road, that occurs as well. Andrew Marshawn, formerly of the New York Post, now with the Athletic senior writer covering sports media. Welcome back to Around the NFL, Andrew.


Yeah, thanks, guys. Thanks for having me.


Yeah, so we just played that clip. I think this is where we got to start, Greggy, because I think everyone wants to know what's going to happen, Andrew, with Tom braided, signs this massive deal with Fox. It's been a We've talked about it on this show. There's been some doubts. Is he ever actually going to do it?


I'm going to lose a sandwich on this.


Yeah, we have a sandwich prop on this. I said, he's going to do it. Look at the money. And he's taking the year off to prepare and all that. And now here we are heading into that season. What happens with Greg Olson, who's obviously emerged as a superstar in this field, who's under contract, if I'm not mistaken?


Yeah, Greg Olson will move to the number 2 booth with Joe Davis. The way his contract was structured when he's number 1, he's making around 10 million. At number 2, he'll make around 3 million. Braided comes in. His salary also reported 37.5 million dollars for the season.


It's crazy.


Yeah, it's livable. He's been working hard, talking to a lot of people. Everyone I speak to, every time I speak to a Joe Bach or a Mike Tariko, whoever, it's like, Oh, yeah, braided. He's talking to everybody. He called Payton up. He He's trying to figure out how to do this. We all know Tom braided, so the expectation he is working hard, which I've already heard, and he's going to work hard and try to be really good at this.


I guess I don't know why I'm surprised by this. I shouldn't be. He's got the time. He must love that there's some doubt about whether he's going to be good. But I just figured it a year away from the game. Is it normal for a guy to be preparing this? I guess no one's ever had an opportunity like this, but no one's ever been paid like this either. I mean, he has a bigger cap hit than almost any player in the NFL. I mean, he is making more money to broadcast than every player in the NFL minus nine quarterbacks. And that's about it. It is crazy to me. Was there any doubt through this process from the Fox side of things that he would follow through with this? And what does it entail that he's working on it? Is this just a to make people quiet down?


If Fox has had no doubt that he's going to do it, it's other voices that have thought that, You know what? This is a hedge. And let me just say one thing, and I think he's going to do it. I want to be clear on the podcast I used to do with John Oran, we had the braided meter where I give percentages of him doing it. It was always above 50% except for one episode where I went to 49, I think when the rater ownership came about. That caused a lot of waves and braided I even ended up responding. I had a write a column, whatever. Anyways.


We responded to you directly?


Well, what happened is I don't like to go on these podcasts and blame aggregators, but the aggregators got it. It was just an opinion. It was fun. It wasn't really a serious thing. Then the aggregators got it and it was like I was reporting it, which I wasn't. Then, braided responded to an SI tweet. Long story short, then I had to write a column. It was just a the whole thing. I wish I'd never said it.


I love that.


The answer to your question, though, the thing I would say is that if he doesn't do it, he'll say no at the end. He's going to go through the process. Let's just say behind the scenes when he's practicing, he doesn't think he's good, he's going to embarrass himself. I don't think that's going to happen. I think he's going to do it. Let's just say that's the case or something else comes up. I wouldn't start saving up for that sandwich you owe, whoever you owe, just yet. I would wait because I think if he does bow out, it's going to show his intentions that he wants to do it until he doesn't. I'm more like the braided meter now is in the high '90s, but still not at 100. Has He'll hit 100. He'll hit 100 that day that he does it. Interesting. But I think it'll be pretty good.


Not to conflate two sectors and two things you've recently reported on, but you also did that deep dive. And again, now he's at the athletic. Andrew, he gets to really spread out and write little deeper pieces, I feel like, we're reading the nepotism piece. And it made me think I was reading about Jack Collinsworth and how they installed him on the Notre Dame games. And after a couple of years, they were like, whoa, I I don't know about this. So they had to pivot, of course, son of Chris Collinsworth, with this situation, in terms of risk for Fox, because let's say Tom does it. Let's say Tom stinks because it happens. We We know it happens. There's a long history of superstar, legendary players. It's like we're talking about pretty pick privilege. It's like pretty legend privilege here. You go right to this number one spot. What if he stinks? Do they end up in a spot potentially where braided is not doing well, either removes himself from the equation or they have to make a move, and then Olson's out the door because the way they handle it? How big a risk are we talking here for Vox?


Could they lose everything?


Well, number one, TV contracts are not like NFL contracts. It would have to be Brady's decision. Fox is not going to go eat 37.5 million dollars a year for 10 years. Ten years? Go work with him.


It's 10 years. Oh, my God.


So, braided would have to feel like, You know what? I don't want to do this. I think for him not to be it. It's all in. And that's why when he signed the contract, that's why there's so many people saying it's a hedge because he did it because they kept offering more and more money. And then it got to a point where he said, You know what? Let me try this. I'm not saying he's not into it now, but this isn't some love of being a game analyst that he has. I mean, that's hard to believe. He did a story a couple of years ago with the Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay, where he was asked about the broadcast booth and basically said he had no interest. The money got so high. It's not going to be Fox pulling the plug. It would have to be braided saying, I don't want to do it. Look, I think he'll be good. But if your doomsday scenario, I mean, I always read for the best stories, that would be interesting. Let's just put that. That'd be fascinating. If you were not good but still wanted to do it, that would be an interesting story to see how that played out.


Yeah, I look at it through the podcast lens, too. He's done a podcast with Jim gray, the Let's Go podcast, but it's like he's just doing it. He's on vacation. He's not putting his all into it. It's like Jim gray just asking him questions like they were on the radio or so. It's like he's not trying to make the best podcast possible. He's just like, tipping his toe into it. Every once in a while, he says something interesting and that gets picked up or whatever. But it's not like an overly successful podcast, largely because he doesn't put that much into it. People will catch on if that happens at the NFL, at the Fox level. But the thing that's crazy to me is the Greg Olson part of it is that Tom braided is now Drew Bledso. Our friend Tom Curran used to call Drew Bledso in his contract The hood Ornament because they signed him to this huge $100 million contract and said, Look, we're a good organization. We have the highest paid quarterback in the league. And Drew Bledso immediately started declining. They called him The hood Ornament. And Belichick knew he couldn't play with it.


And Tom braided is now The hood Ornament. And if he doesn't deliver on a level that's even somewhat close to Greg Olson, at least, I don't know if he cares about people like us, but it's going to be in the athletic and other places like that, that he is inferior to the guy who's number two and is making what? One-twelfth of his money, and that's going to get back to him. He's got to be a little concerned that this guy who's already proven he's great at it is in his same building. What do you think the dynamics going to be when they show up to the Fox, let's take pictures and I'll pretend like we're laughing and throw a football between each other's sessions?


Well, I think a couple of things. Number one, The way these guys are judged is subjective. When you're a quarterback, either your team wins or loses, you throw for 300 yards, you don't throw for 300 yards. And so it's a little bit more cut and dry. I think what you're pointing out is if Brady's really bad. There's going to be people who don't like Tom braided just because they don't like Tom braided. No matter what he does, they won't like him. But I do think you can win over the audience. The one thing about it, calling a football game, maybe it's one of the hardest things to do in sportscasting. Doing a podcast is not the same thing. It's a controlled environment. You're just talking to another person, like you said, in the setup that Tom has. Jim gray is really the one orchestrating everything and doing the hard work to pilot everything. Kevin Burkhardt will do that in the Fox booth. But just knowing how to get in and out, how to translate, obviously, he has high-level thoughts about football, but can you say that so I can understand, so the average fan can understand and simplify it?


That's a question that until you do it, you don't know, and it has to be natural. Romo's success at the beginning was because he did come off as very natural, very relaxed, and like he was just talking to you in your living room as opposed to being trying to be a broadcaster, trying to be somebody else.


I agree with you. And yet I remember when Olson did it as an active player, and he was good the first game. And a lot of times, When we hear a Jason Whitten or someone that's not good the first game, you can tell right away sometimes and it never changed. Like Olson was good. I know he's gotten better, but he was good the first game. I want to know what your Olson meter is, though. What's the chances he's not at Fox to start the year? And I guess what would be the other options? Because I can't imagine he's too excited to be taking that big of a pick. I know he's made a lot of money in his life and everything, but he's competitive as hell.


But imagine the place where he must be because you're having this great success. Everyone loves you. Now it's like $7 million haircut, and now you're no longer the A guy. It has to be really tricky, more morale-wise for him right now.


It is. I think he'll be at Fox. He'll do the number two games, and then I think he'll reevaluate everything and see what's up there. I would say, though, I don't really feel that bad for Greg Olson. I look at him as he's in a great spot. He's 36, 37 years old, and these jobs are now paying 37.5 million or $18 million right here making him. It's true.


He's making. He's making crazy rote. He rose the ceiling here for guys.


Exactly. There's only a small group of people who are going to be offered these jobs, and they're mostly Hall of Fame quarterbacks or legendary quarterbacks. They tried to get Payton for... The salary structure, the biggest reason was ESPN couldn't get Monday Night Football correct, but that was in part because Payton kept saying no. He said no, no, no, no. Then Romo had the free agency where he had ESPN and CBS both wanting him and the NFL contracts with the networks were up. That's why they got to that level. But there's just a small group that's in there for these jobs, and they don't open that often because they're great jobs and they pay so well. But Greg Olson will get the opportunity to be a number, I think. I don't know where exactly. I have some ideas, but I'm not going to say it on your podcast. No offense. I'm going to save the host But I think eventually- Well, there's only so many.


What do you think about... You think Amazon is bringing back the same group this year? They are. What's that meter? They are.


Okay. He's saving his march bombs for his platform.


No, I get it, but that's a separate issue. So I was just curious if they were- Greg, respect the march bombs. If they would think about shaking it up, whether it was Herb Street or Al, I don't know.


Let's finish here because you mentioned Romo, always a subject of fascination. I loved Andrew going out the door at the post after a huge there with Tony Romo. I know you didn't write the headline, but Tony Romo and Jim Nance are a mess with Super Bowl 2024 barreling toward them. What a headline. What did you think about the Super Bowl performance by the pair? And what is their future in your mind? Where do you see there? Is that a pair that's going to stay together? Will they be broken up? Do you think your feelings, which are strong on their struggles in recent years, you think that's shared inside the building a year after some of the criticism really started to build in the reported Come to Jesus conversation that was held after the previous year?


So, yeah, my post Super Bowl column for The Athletic, I think their headline was a little softer, but it was a pretty strong column. They messed up that final call, especially. Nance calls the countdown, and then for whatever reason, was able to finish the call because Tony was going in about the Andy Reid play. He always loves to say, This is the play of the game. That's the play of the game. This is your chance to actually say that that won the Super Bowl. That's what it should be. And better, he probably should have let silence happen, let the crowd take it over, and then give your analysis a little bit after. So they struggled in that Super Bowl. I think there is an issue in terms of that chemistry between the two of them. I think that showed up in terms of The fundamentals that you have in a broadcast, especially they've been together, I think, six years now, five or six years. They should know, they should know. They should have it down. When you're a team, you guys know, you guys You guys have done a podcast together. You know when you're going in and out.


The Super Bowl is not when you want to mess up, especially that final call. I do think they have an issue. Do they know it? I think at some level that they know that there's problems Will they do anything about it? Maybe at some point, but not at the moment.


All right. Andrew Marshawn. Check him out on The Athletic now. His latest, by the way, is a banger about LeBron James and JJ Redick teaming up for a podcast.




All about ball, all about ball. It has one of the best quotes. This is what we need, Greg. We need someone that vouches for us the way Maverick Carter. Listen to this quote that Andrew-We need inside sources with our next negotiation. This is what he says about Redick and LeBron. This is like two wine masters, Somalias, talking about wine, not necessarily you or me arguing if I like Burgundy or Bordeaux better. Whoa, that is amazing to be called a sommelier. You got that quote, and that's what we need. We need support like that. That's what we need here.


I got to do a call about it. What would be the analogy that somebody might use for you guys?


Oh, man, I don't know.


That we're setting each other up like Shaq and Kobe or something like that. There you go. Great humor.


Shaq and Kobe feels strong. It's like Bryant Big Country, Reeves, and whoever else was on the Vancouver Grizzly's in 1995. All right. Thank you very much, Andrew. You're the best. Say hi to your brother for us. Yeah, my brother. A listener of the show.


I actually didn't even tell him that I'm going to be on.


This was a surprise. Great. Excellent. All right. Andrew Marshawn, thank you for everything.


Thanksthank you, Andrew.Thank you.


There he goes. Yeah, I mean, jeez. We need a Maverick card. That's the big takeaway. But in terms of what we just heard from Andrew, I hadn't heard that. I don't know if that was out there. I'm sure it was. But that Olson, in addition to taking that step down to the number two team is losing seven million a year. But good job also by Andrew adding the necessary take a step back that he is also in a set up so well in the long term that even if this is a little bit of a slice of humble pie, first of all, everyone knows it's not his fault. It's just the circumstance substances of the situation. Whether it's Fox or someone else, he has now put enough on tape where he is going to be taken care of down the line.


There's only so many someone else's. It's CVS or Amazon. Andrew isn't going to want to do a marsh bomb on our show. Maybe we can get to that point. He says, Yeah, there's no chance. Or he just said, Amazon's bringing back the same, too, which I have no reason to doubt. I believe, though, it was reported that that was initially a three-year contract for those two guys, so this might be their final year. It feels like they would want to bake that. Man, he could do... Even just keep Alan.


I have an idea as we go to break.


Better than Herb Street.


Eric Roberts. For the... You know how every episode you guys write a little recap underneath the headline or the title of the podcast. Just do this. It's Dan and Greg on today's show. Then write, This is like two wine masters, Somalias, talking about wine. Not necessarily you or me arguing if I like burgundy or Bordeaux better. That's all it is.


That's it.


That's it. Okay. And just see where the metrics go on it.


I think it'll have a massive impact.


All right, let's take a break and then welcome in another guest. Nice guest-heavy show today.


Less than a yard to gain on fourth down with 43 seconds remaining. Ram's creepy. They rush forward. Burrow to throw forth. He's hit. He's sacked. He throws it away. He flings it away on fourth down.


Aaron Donald got there. Donald takes his helmet off in celebration.


He flips Burrow to the turf and forces the incompletion on fourth and one. He signals to his ring finger on his left hand. You can build that man's statue out, Sofi Stadium right now, the greatest of all time on defense, does it in the biggest moment of Super Bowl 56.


A brilliant call from J. B. Long, the voice of the Los Angeles Rams, the Super Bowl winning, takedown of Burro that led to Los Angeles' close, narrow win over the bangles a couple of years back. And now Aaron Donald is done with football. He announced his retirement Friday after 10 absolutely dominant seasons. So why don't we welcome in the great voice of the Rams, J. B. Long, friend of the show who called every game of Rams, of Donald's LA Ram's career. And now Los Angeles moves into an uncertain place without their stud. J. B, welcome back to her on the NFL.


Darren and Greg, it's great to see you both. Thank you for the invitation. You know how much I love to talk about Aaron Donald, and he's done so much for me, including getting a couple appearances on around the NFL. So I'm thankful for the ring, and I'm thankful for that honor.


What was it like? This is a guy, and just to put it into context, There's been maybe no other player in the history of the sport that was as consistently dominating as Donald. Maybe Barry Sanders, and it's fitting because they both retired after 10 years at the top of their league from the time they entered to the time they exit. Three-time defensive player of the year, eight-time First Team All-Pro, 10-time Pro Bowl selection every year of his career, former defensive rookie of the year when he started in St. Louis. What was it like watching this guy and essentially covering him on a day-by-day weekly basis? How quickly did you realize you were watching an all-timer?


Immediately. I mean, it was a privilege. It was an honor. I remember my first training camp. Many of others have shared this anecdote, but it's tough to practice when Aaron is on the field. Oftentimes when Sean McVay was calling plays even against his own defense, he would wait to take a shot until Aaron subbed out for just that one rep because otherwise the play wouldn't get off, whether they were in pads or not. But yeah, I was watching a living legend. The play that you just talked about to me was like the culmination was his mountaintop, the fact that he got hands on Jimmy Garoppolo in the NFC Championship game as well to essentially have walk-off hits in back-to-back games at Sofye Stadium, the biggest in Ram's history. I know you guys at the NFL are very careful and draw strict boundaries when comparing sports. But what is the equivalent? What is the equivalent of that?


That's Jordan game 6.


Sure. But to me, it's almost more like, especially for a defensive player, can you imagine robbing a home run in game seven of the NLCS and then coming back and doing it again in the World Series for a center class out. So much of that '21 year orbited around Aaron. So much of what the Rams have done during my tenure have been a driven by maximizing the prime of the greatest defensive player that I've ever seen walk the planet, whether it's trading those pics. What has flipped those pics, to use a euphemism, really mean in the context of the Rams? It's about using every resource that you have to get the most out of Aaron Donald's prime, because whether they were a four or five-win team, which they have been during my tenure, or a championship-winning team, every game that Aaron played, you felt like you had a chance to win. He was that influential of defensive force.


He's the greatest defensive player, I believe, I've ever seen. I think the only other person that would be in the mix would be JJ Watt, who at his very peak, which was also during the show, and he's the guy along with Aaron Donald and Lawrence Taylor, who are the only ones that have won three defensive player of the years. At his very peak, JJ Watt was at such a high level. I have a hard time putting anyone in front of him, but you can make your argument for Donald that they're certainly right there in the same area at their very peak. It's just different positions.


Did you say Darnold?


I agree. I did. Darnold. My bad. But JJ, that's why Darnold, when you're trying to compare him to other people, the only other person that comes up to me is actually Jim Brown, because he played nine seasons, and that's the only other person I can think of that. From the minute he entered the league to the minute he left, essentially, he was at the very top of what he did, which is that's what Aaron Donald did, too. As you mentioned, eight first-team All-Pros. He It could have been first-team, but he ended that 2022 season a little early. He could have maybe gotten it his rookie year, too. It's just people didn't know Aaron Donnell. He did come back that second year next level. But unlike those guys, you're right. Who combines All of that with having that moment. It's so rare in sports to have the greatest player in the sport at what he does, have what is a walkout. It's literally unprecedented in football history. There is no one that's actually checked off all those boxes exactly in the same way that Aaron Donnell did. And he's such a humble guy and quiet guy that I think he probably got less attention because of that.


And the position that he plays, he got a little less attention because of that, because it takes ball knowers like you, JB, to recognize it. You wrote about him on the Ram's website this week. I thought it was interesting. You really talked about how glad you were he came back for these last two years. So I did I want to ask you about that, what these last two years were like after he openly considered retiring, and he's passing up, what, $30 million this year to retire. And then also, you didn't seem as surprised, I don't think, about this decision as most people on the outside. So I guess just I'm curious about how this retirement came into view this offseason, too.


Well, I'm sure you both remember the conversation that was being had in and around the Super Bowl, and certainly after the Rams 1, leading up to the parade about whether or not he he would be back, whether he would just go out on top of the world, quite literally, in professional football. I had the distinct honor of hosting that Championship parade outside the LA Memorial Coliseum.


I was there with the kids. We got the pictures. We were there.


Great Ram's fans that you are. Maybe you can echo back to me your sensation when you heard that he was willing to run it back. Just to go behind the curtain a little bit, as a team employee, I was instructed not to go down the pathway of Aaron's future when he took his turn at the mic. Understandably so, because that was an unresolved issue. But as I'm standing between him and Sean McVay, Sean's jabbing me in the ribs, daring me to go ahead and ask if he's willing to run it back. And so talk about being between a rock and a hard place. I had to make a split-second decision, and I really appreciate the grace with which Aaron handled that. But it started a two-year clock. I didn't know that I was going to run for two years, but it started the preparation process of this is not going to last forever. And run it back did not go well. As you know, the ramps fell to the depths of 5 and 12:00, and Aaron missed games in that 2022 season because of injury for the first time in his career. And that prepared me mentally, emotionally for what life was going to be like after Aaron Donald.


And we always knew it was going to be a challenge because he spoiled us. But whether it was like Baker Mayfield beating the Raiders on Thursday night football at Sofi Stadium or some of the other uplifting moments, it was a good preview knew that the future is possible. Then I'm especially glad for this past season when he welcomed a group of 14 drafted rookies, including Kobe Turner, and passed the baton in a way. I think this past season goes down as one of the most enjoyable for Rams fans outside of their Championship seasons because they overachieved and because you can see now the path into the future. And that includes for their head coach, Sean McVay, who's spoken openly about how the greatest defensive player of all time has helped him course-correct and start this second book of his, I assume, Hall of Fame career eventually, just like Aaron.


Do you think internally, like you said, a really fun season for the Rams. They nearly knock off the lines in the playoffs in that great wild card game. Do you think Do you think the Rams have been preparing for this really since that game ended, or was there any internal hope or belief that he would be back? How much of a surprise was it in the building?


I don't think it was a surprise. Even going back to three and six at the buy, I think some of the moves they made, even as subtle as signing Carson Wentz to make sure that there was a backup to Matthew Stafford down the stretch run, even hinted at the fact that we don't know if we're going to get another crack at this with Aaron Donald in his prime or ever. And so while the NFC is wide open, while we do think there is a path to a playoff spot, slim though the odds may be, let's make sure we're doing everything we can to get him in the dance one more time. Because at the end of the last regular season, I think on the show, you guys said as much, they were the team that no one wanted to play. Now, Detroit got to play them, and Jared had his moment, and they handled that, and good on them for knocking the Rams out of the postseason. But who among us would have been surprised if led by Aaron and Matthew and Hukun N'Nakua, they had made another run to an NFC Championship or maybe beyond?


I think all of those thoughts have been in the back of Ram's executive minds for many, many years because the window is always closing in the National Football League, especially when you have someone beyond 30 years old.


Yeah, I've been reading a little bit, and it's fascinating. They've had to prepare for this. Humblebreg. Reading? I just mean on the Donald contract, and we don't need to get too deep into that, but it is interesting that they structure this restructure in a way that showed maybe they knew this retirement could have been coming, but also leaves the door open just a little bit if he changes his mind at some point in the future, because look, he already changed his mind once. You just never know, and they would want to leave room for that to happen. They've got a lot to do to replace him. They certainly got off to a great start with that last year with Kobe Turner and what they were going to do. What do you think they're going to do next? Do you think they're going to take some big swings maybe this offseason with this having happened? They've been a little quieter, but I think making smart moves and certainly spending money at the guard position and everything than I expected this offseason.


Well, Greg, let me start by stating the obvious, which you both know as well as anyone, there is no such thing as replacing Aaron Donald offseason or ever. So that's your starting point. But bracing for that impact, can you do certain things to try and absorb the loss? Just this gaping cavity that you have in the middle of your defensive line? Yeah, sure. I think Kobe Turner having a borderline defensive rookie of the year season helps. But for so many years, we've seen so many defensive players benefit from the Aaron Donald bump, right? Whether it's Von Miller at the end of that season, Leonard Floyd, Dante Fowler, even players in the secondary have really benefited from- He's helped get people paid. He gets people paid. That's right. He pushed the market for defensive tackles into the $20 million per dollar range and then the $30 million per range. I said that he's both a driving force behind the way that current NFL offensive football is played, and then the perfect antidote to that. When you talk about quick game and efficiency and getting the ball out of your hands, interior pressure that he created the way that he punctured pockets faster than anyone else, it's irreplaceable.


But that doesn't mean that you can't win games. And if you've seen the Rams subtly invest in their offensive line for a couple of years now to try and build that wall, especially guard to guard, in front of Matthew Stafford, so that he can step up in the pocket, take that extra hitch and go through his full field reads, or making sure that DeMarcus Robinson is back. Now, all these things that whether or not you have to improve on offense and/or special teams to compensate for what you're losing inevitably on defense. I think those things all go hand in hand, but I don't think anyone was caught flat-footed within the Rams organization that this offseason, Aaron could do something like this.


I want to pat myself on the back right now. I mean, that's what I love to do.


Is it that portion of the show already?


It is. I only know this because one of our listeners sent me this tweet earlier this offseason, not related to Aaron Donald's retirement. They had been going the old archives of all the shows we did. We did the Aaron Donald draft. Of course, we were already doing our show then. Dan and Mark were in New York for the Johnny Manzell draft. Chris and I were back here with Kevin Patrick coming at you in the studio with us. Here was my reaction when we did a little segment on Favorite Picks. I'm going to give my favorite pick of the round to the St. Louis Rams, even though I wanted them to take a quarterback because I just think they're sticking with Sam Bradford too long. Ultimately, you have to like the team they're putting together with Aaron Donald on that defensive line. Donald, Michael Brocker, Robert Quinn, and Chris Long is the most insane pass rush defensive line in the league right now. There we go.


Sorry you had to be here for that, JP, but that's just part of the show and some of the mechanics of how the sausage-I enjoyed listening to this so much because then there was a huge debate.


We were really fired up back and forth, killing the ram. A lot of us were killing the ram for not taking Jonny Manzell. But I did like Mark had a fun statement, too, about the drafting of Aristotle. There have been 22 men in NFL draft history that have been drafted with a combination of two first names in their name, Aaron Donald being one of them. None of them have lasted more than three years. She's making things up. He's just making things up.


Noah and Ryan had a pretty good career in Major League Base. Well, that's the sport that does not move the needle on this podcast. Mark has officially put me to sleep. I just put a hex on the Rams.


They are doomed to go seven and nine every single year for the rest of eternity.


Oh, man. Well, Wes often was right, and not in that case.


I could tell you-They had some more seven and nines, I think, though, though, at that point. J.


B, I remember being in that hotel room with Mark in New York City with, I think it was a twelver of Amstel light just doing that podcast. Greg, the boss across the country, unaware that we were imbibing at the time.


Well, I know, Dan, that you and Mark have really cornered the market when it comes to free agency, that you've become the foremost authorities. Greg has tried to dip his toe into those waters, but he's really for his niche. It's a good callback that he's always been the draft nick on the show, and that's where he should continue to hang.


We give him his Ws. We give him his W is where he can get him.


What a player, though. Just insane. Just insane to see him change games the way that he did from really a second year. He was great his first year, but I even found some tweets back from his first game of second year where I tweeted, but a lot of people were like, Holy cow, Aaron Donald is suddenly the best player in the league right now. Then just to stay that way from there through all these playoff runs. A legend. A legend we got to see here in Los Angeles.


Do you ever hear anyone say a bad thing about him? I didn't.


No, I am curious, but it seems like there's never any stories about what he's like behind the scenes other than he's just a nice guy.


I feel like all I ever heard was he has that dog in him. He's an intense guy. What was it like dealing with him in a one-on-one capacity?


Professional, respect. You could feel the presence of greatness when you walked past him in the hallway. And if you saw him smile, I mean, the guy lights up a room. And there's so much for him beyond football that I can understand why he kept it to a decade. But also, given what you said, would I be shocked if we see him again in horns? Maybe it's just naivete on my part or hopeful ignorance, but I would love to see that happen. But yeah, he was one of a kind. 80, 99, forever. He's one of one. I'm just so thankful for how easy he made my job because it always gave you the opportunity to ask his peers, what's it like to work with this guy? As someone who asks questions and interviews players and coaches for a living, how many Coach McVay shows did I do following a loss where there was a shrinking number of things where we could actually talk about to get through our 20 minutes. But there was always, well, Aaron played well, right? And then he could wax poignant about what a unique talent Aaron was. The only criticism I ever heard from him is that he would occasionally freelance and violate an assignment or a gap, right?


And even those who would to say such a thing, had to acknowledge that while that may be a risk on film, it really wasn't when you had put in the study and you had the competitive greatness that Aaron did because he wasn't playing the same game that the other 10 players were on defense or that anyone who's ever played the defensive tackle position ever has. He perfected it in a very unique way. And even going back to the draft for someone who had question marks about length, size, the fact that he turned those question marks into the exclamation points that made him a first ballot Hall of Famer someday is what I always appreciate covering his career.


Well, he's a connection from St. Louis. He's the connection between St. Louis and these LA Rams teams. I mean, he was 14th pick overall in a draft that they had, the second overall pick. So like, less need is the one that took him. It's funny because you had a whole bit on that show about Les needs high cheekbones and beautiful flowing hair, and they were like, You better have a good draft here. If they're going to pass on Manzel, it better be a good draft. Still there. One for two is plenty good enough when the one is the the greatest of all time or LTs in that mix. But we use that term to really say the top.


At least in the analytics era, and there's nobody that grades out like this man. And so football in the last 15 years, and we've mentioned Watt, but Watt, part of Donald's greatness and his magnificence is that he kept his prime throughout his entire career, just like J. B. Long, who will continue to thrive as the play-by-play man whenever the next great Ram arrives, he'll be there as well.


I sure hope so. For all of your friendship and integrity on the Around the NFL podcast, I commend you both.




Wow. Let him talk.


My next invitation.


You're the man, Jimmy.


Producer Eric whispered something to me along the way in preparation for this interview. I wish you all well.Thank.


You, J. B.thanks, J. B. The great J. B. Long with the insight that we needed.


And it delivered. Part of the family. I mean, Keisha. The Rambly. Well, I meant more around the NFL family. I mean, Kisha, when she comes to town, she's got a lot of people she wants to see, needs to see. She goes and sees her old neighbor.


And lest we forget, Ricky Hollywood, who I meant to tell J. B. Lung to keep an eye on Hollywood, just to keep her in line in general. Erica needs that. I think J. B. Is a guiding force for many. Let's take a break, and we'll close things out.


Right, everybody.


What do you guys think behind the glass? Is that better or worse?


It's almost like a cough.


Christie Stampton, it's a thumbs down. I got a little staccato in yours? I don't know.


It's not for me. There you go. By the way, and I know what you're saying because you're talking about Donald had the walk-off, back-to-back walk-off in the Super Bowl. But it really is crazy to look at Barry Sanders's career and look at Aaron Donald. Both played 10 years. Both were constantly in the mix. Barry was a first or second team all pro all 10 years. Ten-time Pro bowler. One, the big accolades, two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He won the MVP once, which Donald, I don't think, ever got, but they don't give it to defensive players. But that's the level of player. I think Barry, if you were old enough to see Sanders, you wish He got what Donald got, which was that chance on the biggest stage, and Sanders never did. The lines never could get out of the second round. I think they made to one NFC title game that didn't go their way, but otherwise were held out of the Super Bowl as they've been for the entirety of their history. But Donald getting that opportunity and us being there for it. We've now been sneaky at a lot of huge moments in NFL history.


This is not lost on me. I'm sure it's not lost on you, Greggy. We're very lucky to have seen Aaron Donald in person make that play Joe Burrow midfield, and that's a special Joe Burrow year. That was a special Cincinnati year. They had the Pixie dust all over them, and they're down a field goal at midfield with fourth down in the final minute of the Super Bowl. It's Donald who blows up the play because don't you get the feeling if Burrow gets protected, he's probably finding somebody, and they're continuing to march with a field goal kicker.


His name is Jamal Chase. He was open on that play if he had some time, but he didn't have time.


They had Evan McPherson, who's having an all-time season as a young kicker. The Playoffs, he was really the star of the Playoffs for them. And yet Aaron Donald said no, and he pointed to the ring finger. A reminder, we'll be back Wednesday with our always check in with all the teams post free agency first wave around the AFC on Wednesday with a guest to be named later around the NFC on Thursday. I think we're getting Claybon on Thursday.


Patrick will be there.


Excellent. So that is great. And a note for behind the Eric, I was thinking about this some more. For the episode recap, let's take this down verbatim. The latest ERP, ERP, the latest ERP is a Hanses-Rosenthal joint, period. This is like two wine masters, Somalias, talking about wine, not necessarily you or me arguing if I like Burgundy or Bordeaux better. Nothing else.


Got it. Makes my job easier. As an editor, any thoughts on just ending it right at talking about wine or no? You like the rest of it. Bordeaux.


I like that. I like that because there's a way what Maverick did there in his conversation with Marshawn, he was like, Everyone else are piss-ons. They are just... But these two people are smaliers. Don't even try to be like that. I think you need that a little more depth.


Anything else? Shots fired, really, at the rest of the industry. Just like Travis Gelsy did for us. Give us a pop.


Again, I apologize for being a little flippant about Travis's acceptance speech now that he gave us that job. If you want to talk your shit, talk your shit, pal. Hey, You got it all. Travis has got it all. And you know what else? He's got some class.


Let's see if they're still doing that podcast 10 years from now. Or if we are.


Should we have quit after 10 years? These are all questions.


We don't have that money got.


All right. Until Wednesday. Keep the call.