Sunday, June 16, 2024

NFL mandatory minicamp overreactions: Should Aaron Rodgers have been with Jets? Will Bengals sign both WRs?

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NFL mandatory minicamp season is in full swing, with 22 of the 32 teams having the conclusion of Phase Three of their offseason programs this week. The other teams ended their spring season last week, getting an early start on summer.

With mandatory minicamps across the league in full force, plenty of storylines headline the NFL in mid-June. Which storylines this week have been overreactions and which ones are worth paying attention to with summer approaching? 

Aaron Rodgers should have been at Jets mandatory minicamp 

Overreaction or Reality: Overreaction

Rodgers had an unexcused absence from the first practice of Jets mandatory minicamp because of an event that’s important to him. That’s fine by the Jets, but not one they can hand out to just one player. Rodgers will get fined for the day and he and the Jets will move on.

This is only the first practice Rodgers has missed, as the quarterback has been present at every voluntary workout. Missing a practice in June doesn’t relate toward missing a training camp practice in August for a similar event. 

The Jets may not be happy Rodgers was absent, but they can’t allow every player on their team to miss practice for “events” that come up. If anything, the Jets are at fault for making this a headline when it didn’t have to be.

This story is a nothing-burger. 

Jets should have given Haason Reddick a contract extension when they traded for him

Overreaction or Reality: Reality

Why did the Jets trade for Reddick and think a change of scenery was what he wanted? Reddick never wanted to leave the Philadelphia Eagles, but he did want a long-term extension and wished to be paid as one of the best pass rushers in football. Getting traded to another team wasn’t going to change that.

The Jets traded for Reddick and didn’t agree to a long-term extension immediately. That was a major miss by the front office, especially with Reddick only making $15 million in the final year of his deal. Reddick is the 19th-highest paid edge rusher in football, clearly underpaid for a player who has four straight double-digit sack seasons (only Myles Garrett has done that over the last four years). He’s also fourth in the league in sacks since the start of the 2020 season (50.5). 

Reddick deserves to be paid amongst the best edge rushers in the game, even for a player who will be 30 years old this year. The Jets should have given him the extension once they traded for Reddick, as most of these deals typically happen after a trade is made. 

Overreaction or Reality: Overreaction

The Bengals received excellent news when Chase was present for mandatory minicamp, despite his previous absence and wanting a new contract. Of the 2020 and 2021 wide receivers, Justin Jefferson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith each earned $25-plus million per year in their contract extensions. Chase will certainly top $30 million. 

Cincinnati will make sure Chase is signed, but what about Higgins? The franchise tag of $21.8 million has been slapped on Higgins, but he hasn’t signed it yet in hopes of a long-term extension. Will the Bengals give him one or settle for an altered one-year deal before allowing him to test free agency? 

With the inflating wide receiver market, it will be significantly harder to pay Higgins given the Bengals will have to sign Chase. Higgins also will likely seek to be paid amongst the top-10 wide receivers in the game. 

The Bengals will have the cap space to pay both for 2025 and beyond, but Chase is the priority. Signing both is the challenge this offseason. 

Daniel Jones is hurting his chances to win the Giants starting QB job

Overreaction or Reality: Overreaction

Jones is still recovering from last year’s ACL injury and will be held out of team drills during mandatory minicamp. That gives Drew Lock an opportunity to work with the first team in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11s, giving him more reps with Malik Nabers, Jalin Hyatt and Wan’Dale Robinson — ones Jones could be getting as the team’s QB1. 

While Jones is expected to be ready for training camp, Lock is getting those valuable reps this offseason while Jones is rehabbing. Jones is the starting quarterback of this team and will be once training camp starts.

Could Lock have an advantage over Jones because of the minicamp reps? Sure, but Jones is going to start for the Giants in Week 1. Rehabbing from a torn ACL isn’t going to cost Jones his job. His play on the field this fall is a different story. 

Browns won’t sign Amari Cooper to a contract extension after the season 

Overreaction or Reality: Reality

The Browns have an interesting decision to make regarding Cooper, who didn’t show up to mandatory minicamp despite being in a contract year. Cooper is clearly Cleveland’s No. 1 wide receiver, who is coming off a season which he had 72 catches for 1,250 yards and five touchdowns (17.4 yards per catch).

Over the last two seasons, Cooper is eighth in receiving yards (2,410) and 10th in yards per catch (16.1). That’s great value for a player who is only making $20 million a year (tied for 20th in NFL). 

The wide receiver market has inflated this offseason and will only get higher. How much will Cooper make if he has another season with 70-plus catches and 1,110-plus receiving yards (and he’s only 30)? Will the Browns pay Cooper north of $28 million per year? 

Keep in mind Cleveland is also projected to be $42.9 million over the salary cap next year. There just may not be room to sign Cooper next offseason, no matter how well he produces. 

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