By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and when the Bengals released Andy Dalton on Friday, a pair of apparent suitors emerged: the New England Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, in a surprise move, Dalton instead opted to sign a one-year bargain deal to join the Dallas Cowboys. Dalton will serve as the back-up to Dak Prescott, giving the team insurance for a potential injury at quarterback. Dalton’s decision to join the Cowboys also sets up New England to enter the 2020 season with Jarrett Stidham under center.
While that isn’t great news for the Patriots in the short-term, long-term, it will likely have New England in position to address its need at quarterback at the top of the 2021 Draft. As for Dallas, the Cowboys won’t be picking anywhere close to the top of next year’s draft. Dallas is set up to be an offensive juggernaut in 2020. The Cowboys are the clear favorites in the NFC East, and the rest of the conference has to be dreading the possibility of out-scoring Dallas on Sundays in the fall.
In Dallas, Dalton to be working with a loaded receiving corps in Dallas, headlined by Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and first-round pick CeeDee Lamb. The stable of receivers he left behind in Cincinnati isn’t nearly as inspiring. On Saturday, the Bengals declined the fifth-year option on speedster John Ross, the ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft. Across three seasons, Ross has managed only 49 grabs for 716 yards, failing to convert his staggering speed into even pedestrian production. Ross will likely struggle for playing time this season, sitting behind A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and rookie Tee Higgins on the depth chart.
Joining Ross in having their fifth-year option declined over the weekend was Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette. Jacksonville failed to give Fournette away during April’s draft, and with his option declined, 2020 will be the runner’s final season with the Jaguars. Selected fourth overall in 2017, Fournette has never lived up to his draft billing, and his selection hurts even more in hindsight as running back Christian McCaffrey was drafted four picks later. Fournette will likely handle early-down duties for the Jaguars this year, and it is evident Jacksonville is ready to move on from the mistake of making him a top-five pick.
Cleveland selected tackle Jedrick Willis with the tenth selection in this year’s draft, hinting at an intention to shift the Alabama product to left tackle. Willis spent the duration of his college career on the right side of the line, but there is little fear he will be able to make the position change. Right tackle will be manned by free-agent signee Jack Conklin, though it remains possible the two could swap roles given the lack of a tradition off-season may prove to be a hindrance to Willis’s transition. Either way, after being a massive area of concern entering the off-season, Cleveland has added a pair of game-changing tackles in recent weeks.
Now that the 2020 Draft is complete, the full details surrounding the blockbuster deal from before the 2018 season that sent Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears are known. In return for Mack, the Raiders received a pair of first-round picks, a 2020 third-round pick, and a 2019 sixth-round pick, receiving a 2020 second-round pick in addition to Mack. Now, with names attached to all of the picks, it is clear that Chicago were clear winners in the deal, especially when taking into account Mack’s impact on his team’s playoff run in 2019. Chicago also used the second-round selection to nab tight end Cole Kmet.
As for the picks leaving the Bears, the Raiders netted running back Josh Jacobs and cornerback Damon Arnette with the two first-rounders, tight end Foster Moreau with the 2019 sixth-rounder, and wide receiver Bryan Edwards with the 2020 third. That is a frustrating, sub-par package to have received for a game-changing, All Pro-caliber pass rusher like Mack, not to mention the second-rounder included in the deal. Jacobs looks to be a valuable piece, but the Raiders’ decision to over-draft Arnette was brutal, and Moreau and Edwards lack the upside needed to justify the deal.