NFL owners voting on several massive rule changes, plus NFL Draft rumors and underrated free agency storylines



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Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

I was going to start off today by bragging about my NCAA Tournament bracket, but I think I actually set it on fire two days ago, so let’s move on. I’m never filling out a bracket again. Actually, before we move on, I’d like to give a shout out to Joe M., who is currently in first place in our Pick Six Podcast bracket challenge. And I would also like to give a shout out to CBSSports.com NFL Draft guru Josh Edwards, who is currently in dead last. Josh did so badly that I actually feel better about my bracket. 

Anyway, this month isn’t just for March Madness; the final week of March is also a big time around the NFL, because it’s when the owners get together for their annual league meeting. The owners will be voting on some huge rule changes this week and we’ll be breaking those down today, plus we’ll take a look around the league at the latest NFL Draft rumors. 

As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the Pick Six newsletter. To get your friends to sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share this link with them. Let’s get to the rundown. 

1. NFL’s annual league meeting is going down: Here’s what you need to know about possible rule changes

For the next two days, the NFL’s 32 owners will be in Orlando for the NFL’s annual league meeting. Based on the location of the meetings, you’d think the owners were taking a group vacation, but as it turns out, that’s not the case. The annual league meeting is where most of the NFL’s offseason work gets done. Any time you see any major rule changes in the NFL, those are almost always voted on and approved at the annual league meeting. 

This year, the owners will be voting on one of the most dramatic rule changes in NFL history when they vote whether to approve the league’s new kickoff proposal. 

Here’s a quick look at several things that will be voted on or have already been voted on: 

  • Owners likely to vote on new kickoff rule. If this rule passes, the kickoff will look dramatically different in 2024. The NFL proposal is 9.5 pages long, so I won’t try to explain the full thing here, but if you want the full explanation on what would change, I broke that down here. Right now, the rule seems to have about a 50-50 chance of getting approved. If it doesn’t get passed, that doesn’t mean it won’t eventually get voted through. The owners could vote to table the discussion until May. That would give the NFL two months to tweak the proposal before the owners meet again for another possible vote in May. That being said, the chairman of the NFL Competition Committee, Rich McKay, wants to see the vote happen this week. If it doesn’t happen today, the owners could hold off on voting until tomorrow
  • Hip-drop tackle gets banned. The NFL has done some research on this tackle, and the league has found that the injury rate is somewhere between 20 to 25 times higher than that of other tackles. Although the NFLPA did NOT want to see the tackle banned, the owners officially voted this through Monday, which means the hip-drop tackle has now been outlawed going forward. 
  • NFL approves more challenges. NFL teams will now get a third challenge if they win just one of their first two challenges. Under the old rule, a coach had to win each of his first two challenges to get a third challenge, but now, they’ll just have to win one. 
  • Trade deadline could be moving. The trade deadline is currently held on the first Tuesday after Week 8, but that could change this year. There are two proposals on the table this week: One proposal would push the deadline to the Tuesday after Week 9 and the other one would push it to after Week 10. CBS Sports lead NFL insider Jonathan Jones has reported that owners are hesitant to move the deadline, but if it does happen, the Week 9 proposal is the one that will likely win out. 
  • Ownership changes. The owners will vote whether to make Houston’s Cal McNair the new principal owner of the Texans, a title that currently belongs to his mom, Janice. Cal currently runs the day-to-day operations of the organization, so it won’t be surprising if this gets approved. According to the Sports Business Journal, the same situation will be happening with San Francisco. The owners will be voting whether make Jed York the principal owner of the 49ers, a title that currently belongs to his mom, Denise DeBartolo York. Jed bought some of her equity and now owns enough of the team to become the principal owner. One ownership change that won’t be voted on involves Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner has been trying to purchase a piece of the Raiders, but the terms still haven’t been finalized, so that situation remains on hold, according to the Washington Post. 

For any rule that’s voted on this week, it has to get approved by 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners, which is why it’s hard to get a handle on whether a rule will pass. CBS Sports Lead NFL Inside Jonathan Jones will be in Orlando this week, and you can read his latest on the meetings here.

2. Mock Draft Monday: Patriots trade back

It’s time for another edition of Mock Draft Monday, which is where we hunt down one of our NFL Draft gurus and force them to give you a new mock draft since there’s no better way to start the week than with a fresh mock draft. 

This week’s mock is coming from Kyle Stackpole, who went an interesting route this week by having the PATRIOTS trade out of the third overall pick. Who did they trade with? What kind of impact did it have on the rest of the first round? Let’s find out.  

Here are the top-11 picks from his mock: 

1. Bears: QB Caleb Wiliams (USC)
2. Commanders: QB Jayden Daniels (LSU) 
3. Vikings (via mock trade with Patriots): QB Drake Maye (UNC) 
4. Cardinals: WR Marvin Harrison, Jr. (Ohio State)
5. Chargers: WR Malik Nabers (LSU)
6. Giants: J.J. McCarthy (Michigan) 
7. Titans: OT Joe Alt (Notre Dame)
8. Falcons:  EDGE Dallas Turner (Alabama)
9. Bears: EDGE Jared Verse (Florida State)
10. Jets: OT Taliese Fuaga (Oregon State)
11. Patriots (via mock trade with Vikings): WR Rome Odunze (Washington)

If you want to see how the rest of Stackpole’s first round pans out, then be sure to check out his entire mock draft by clicking here

For more draft coverage, you can hear in-depth analysis twice a week on “With the First Pick” — our year-round NFL Draft podcast with Ryan Wilson and Rick Spielman. You can find “With the First Pick” wherever you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts, Spotify and YouTube.

3. NFL Draft rumors: Marvin Harrison Jr. is allegedly eyeing one certain team

The only thing more exciting than the NFL Draft are all the draft rumors that come with it. Between now and the start of the draft on April 25, you’re going to be hearing a lot of speculation about what each team is going to do with their first pick, and only about 37% of that speculation is going to be true. 

During draft season, everything is a smokescreen and you can’t believe anything that anyone says. With that in mind, we’re going to cover some of the latest draft news from over the weekend. 

  • Marvin Harrison Jr. apparently wants to play for Arizona. Cardinals offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. was once teammates with Harrison at Ohio State, so the two still talk. During a recent conversation, Johnson told Harrison he would almost certainly end up with the Cardinals. Harrison’s response? “He said he wanted to be a Cardinal,” Johnson said. You can read more about Johnson’s story here
  • Commanders seem set on taking a QB. At this point, it’s probably safe to say the Commanders will be taking a QB with the second overall pick. “I would say it’d be fair to envision we’d be taking a quarterback,” head coach Dan Quinn told NFL.com on Saturday. “To say where it’ll be happening, I think that’s a better question for (general manager) Adam (Peters).” You see that? That’s a classic smokescreen. Quinn confirmed that the Commanders will almost certainly be taking a QB, but he wouldn’t confirm if they’d be doing it with the second overall pick. Although I think they will take a QB at No. 2, if they want to trade the pick, there will likely be plenty of takers. You can check out who those takers may be here.  
  • Patriots don’t seem set on taking a QB. The team to watch at the top of the draft is the Patriots. With the Bears and Commanders both likely taking a quarterback, it will be interesting to see what the Patriots do. New head coach Jerod Mayo knows his team needs a QB, but he’s not locked into taking one. “It’s the priority right now,” Mayo said of getting a QB. “But with that being said, you have to really be in love with the guy to take him at No. 3. So really all the options are still open for us.” If the Patriots’ two favorite quarterbacks go off the board with the first two picks, it wouldn’t be a total shocker to see them pass on taking a QB or trade out of the third spot altogether.
  • Keep an eye on the Broncos to trade up. Sean Payton admitted Monday that there’s definitely a “realistic” chance that the Broncos may trade up in the draft this year. The Broncos currently hold the 12th overall pick and still need a QB, so if they do trade up in the first round, it will likely be to grab a quarterback. You can read more about Payton’s comments here

The first round of the draft kicks off exactly one month from today, which means draft rumor season is also kicking off, so take everything you read with a grain of salt unless, of course, you read it in this newsletter. 

4. NFL free agency: Most underrated storylines we aren’t talking about enough

We are now two weeks into free agency, and although we’ve been talking non-stop about certain things — like Russell Wilson signing with the Steelers — there are some things that have flown under the radar over the past two weeks. Jordan Dajani decided to bring those to light today by ranking some of those most underrated storylines of free agency. 

Let’s take a look at three of the storylines on his list: 

  • The Texans are doing things right. “The Texans were the surprise story of the 2023 season and they clearly have a good foundation to build upon, which is why Nick Caserio and Co. made the decision to be aggressive this offseason. Houston locked up pass rusher Danielle Hunter, who is coming off a career year where he recorded 16.5 sacks with the Vikings. The Texans also upgraded the ground game by trading for former Bengals running back Joe Mixon. The Texans did lose a couple of pieces on the defensive front, such as Sheldon Rankins and Jonathan Greenard, but Houston also added plenty, with the underrated Denico Autry, defensive tackle Tim Settle, plus Mario Edwards and Foley Fatukasi.”
  • The Jets might be good. “This offseason, Joe Douglas put an emphasis on the offensive line (as he should), signing a new left tackle in Tyron Smith, a new guard in John Simpson and traded for right tackle Morgan Moses. The Jets also landed wide receiver Mike Williams. The AFC is loaded, but should we be talking about the Jets more heading into 2024? They will have to prove they can win games, of course, but Rodgers has this superpower where he steps up to make his doubters look silly. Can he do it again?”
  • The Browns have a lot of quarterbacks. “Cleveland now has Deshaun Watson, Jameis Winston, Tyler Huntley and Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Why is that? Are the Browns moving forward with the understanding that their $230 million man is going to be perennially injured? Or is one of these guys trade bait?”

To check out Jordan’s full list of underrated storylines, be sure to click here

5. Winners and losers from Week 2 of free agency

It doesn’t seem possible, but we already have two full weeks of free agency under our belt. The second wave of free agency wasn’t as exciting as the first wave, but we still saw some big moves last week like Chase Young signing with the Saints. 

With the in mind, Jordan Dajani pored through all the moves that went down over the past week so he could come up with a list of winners and losers from the second wave of free agency. 

WINNERS

  • Jerry Jeudy. “Jeudy, a former No. 15 overall pick, did not exactly live up to expectations during his four seasons in Denver. He averaged 53.6 receiving yards per game, and scored 11 touchdowns in 57 career games. And now, the Browns decided to extend him before he even took a snap for his new team. Jeudy agreed to a three-year extension that’s worth up to $58 million while including $41 million guaranteed.”
  • Joshua Dobbs. “If you had to pick the most premier place to be a backup quarterback, it may be with the San Francisco 49ers. That’s the gig Dobbs landed this week. … Dobbs went 2-2 as the starter for Minnesota last season before the Vikings wanted to get a look at Nick Mullens, but the 29-year-old dual-threat quarterback has potential, and San Francisco is a nice landing spot for him.”

LOSERS

  • Veteran defensive backs. “When it came to cap casualties this offseason, the top three entering free agency in my opinion were cornerback Xavien Howard, safety Justin Simmons and cornerback Tre’Davious White. However, two weeks into free agency, zero of the three veteran defensive backs have found new homes. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time in selecting a new team, but it also could mean their markets aren’t as hot as expected.”
  • People who hate the ‘Tush Push.’ “The ‘Tush Push’ will be back in 2024. NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent confirmed this week that the controversial play will remain legal. However, the NFL will continue to monitor the play, according to CBS Sports lead NFL insider Jonathan Jones. Maybe we can name the Eagles winners here as well. They had a 93.5% success rate with the ‘Tush Push’ in 2022, and a 90% success rate in 2023.”

You can check out Jordan’s full story here

6. Extra points: Chiefs trade away their top corner 

It’s been a busy weekend in the NFL, and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you. 

  • Titans acquire L’Jarius Sneed from Chiefs. Less than three weeks after hitting Sneed with the franchise tag, the Chiefs decided to trade away their star corner to Tennessee. The Titans are expected to send a 2025 third-round pick to Kansas City for Sneed and the two teams will also do a swap of seventh-round picks in the 2024 draft. You can read our full breakdown of the trade here. We also broke down why the Chiefs didn’t get much in return for their star corner, which you can read here.  
  • Aaron Donald reveals why he decided to retire. It sounds like Donald was just burnt out on football after 10 NFL seasons. “I’m complete. I’m full,” Donald said in his first interview since retiring. “I think the passion to play the game is no longer there for me.” You can read Donald’s full comments here.  
  • Russell Wilson in the pole position at QB. The Steelers QB will be in the “pole position” for the starting job, but that doesn’t just mean it will be handed to him. Over the weekend, Mike Tomlin made it sound like Justin Fields may have a chance to win the job. “Justin will (be) given an opportunity to compete and we’ll allow those guys to sort themselves out,” Tomlin said. If you want to read more from Tomlin, be sure to head here. In other Steelers news, the team signed Quez Watkins on Monday, according to ESPN.  
  • Geno Smith expected to be Seahawks starter. Although the Seahawks added Sam Howell, it doesn’t look like he’ll be a threat to take Geno’s job. “Geno’s going to be our starter. Sam knows he’s going to be our backup, but Sam is a great young player, and he’s got a really bright future that we believe in,” new Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald said over the weekend
  • Aidan O’Connell will have a shot to win the Raiders’ QB job. The Raiders added Gardner Minshew and they’ll likely add another QB in the draft, but that doesn’t mean O’Connell will be the odd man out. Antonio Pierce made it clear over the weekend that O’Connell will be given the chance to win the starting QB job. “You’re talking about a kid that has the mental toughness to play in the National Football League,” Pierce told NFL.com. “Whatever happens and whatever we do, it has to go through Aidan O’Connell. Being honest with you because he’s earned that right.” 
  • Broncos set to unveil new uniforms. The Broncos have announced that they’ll soon be unveiling new uniforms. However, they didn’t reveal when those uniforms would be released. For the most part, teams try to release their new look before the NFL Draft, so they’ll likely be unveiled before April 25. If teams miss that window, then they usually wait until July. 





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