Head coach John Harbaugh said the team “will find certain wide receivers that fit us” and added “we know who they are”. The Ravens as usual are set up to go best player available in the first round, and that could be a wide receiver after their free agency forays at the position only yielded Sammy Watkins... Free agent tackle Alejandro Villanueva visited the Ravens this week. If the Ravens sign Villanueva, most recently the starting left tackle for the Steelers, then that could open the door for Orlando Brown to get traded to a team that will play him at left tackle.
Quarterback Joe Burrow said he is expecting to be ready for Week 1. We won’t take that as a given, but he said he is ahead of schedule and there hasn’t been any bad news about his recovery. Whether it’s a reunion with his college teammate wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, better protection via Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell, or the addition of unicorn Florida receiving tight end Kyle Pitts, Burrow is set up to get help at #5 in next week’s draft.
The Browns released defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, but head coach Kevin Stefanski said he hopes that the team can bring Richardson back. The move made sense because it cleared 11 million in cap space while only costing 1.6 million in dead cap. Richardson might come back at a much more reasonable price after he probes a tepid market.
Ian Rapoport reported that the Dolphins may trade down from #6 if a top quarterback falls to the pick. General Manager Chris Grier has already showed a willingness to “play the draft” and the changing complexion of the early first round might have opened the door to yet another trade down if the 49ers take Alabama’s Mac Jones, or if the fourth quarterback is still on the board at #6. The Dolphins are likely targeting Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, or Alabama wideout Jaylen Waddle, but Waddle should be there a few picks later if the Panthers at 8 or Broncos at 9 want to move up for a quarterback.
Venerable Steelers beat writer Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette stated that the Steelers will most likely take James Conner’s replacement in the first round and no later than the second. Taking a running back early hasn’t been rewarded lately, as most don’t get a second contract, and those that do generally make their teams regret the decision. The best case scenario in the first round at #24 would be getting Najee Harris from Alabama, but Travis Etienne from Clemson is also in play. By the time the team’s second round pick comes up at #55, the second tier of backs, led by North Carolina’s Javonte Williams, could be dried up...Mike Tomlin signed a three-year extension which will keep him with the team through 2024. This ensures that Tomlin will oversee the beginning of the post-Roethlisberger era, which is almost certain to start next year.
Adam Schefter reported that the Panthers “have had conversations” with other teams about moving down from #8. With the #3 and #4 picks both impossible to pin down and both possibly involving quarterbacks, the first round is very difficult to project, so teams should be conversations about what is possible if the draft breaks different ways. Teams are going to be having to make very important decisions with not much time to absorb the developments once the first round is rolling. The Panthers traded a second round pick plus two others for Sam Darnold, so they might be content enough at quarterback to trade down if one falls. They could also be a trade down target for a team that wants to get ahead of the Broncos and Cowboys for their choice of the cornerback class.
The Bears signed wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. He’ll add deep speed to the wide receiver group if he can make the roster, but isn’t a sure thing to do that. He’s also a possible replacement for Cordarrelle Patterson on kick returns. If Anthony Miller is traded as expected, Goodwin’s chances of making the team will go up. Javon Wims and Riley Ridley are his main competition for a spot in the wide receiver rotation.
Los Angeles Rams
Assault allegations against Aaron Donald have been dropped. Donald appeared to be helping break up the altercation on video and his accuser apologized. The league should not be seeking any discipline against Donald after this outcome.
New York Giants
Ian Rapoport reported that the Giants are “firmly considering” trading down from #11, although general manager Dave Gettleman has never traded down. Gettleman said in an interview that he has tried to trade back before and that his unwillingness to trade down is an “urban myth”. The Giants could be in a good spot to trade down if offensive lineman Rashawn Slater from Northwestern or Jaylen Waddle falls to #11, but Gettleman will have to love the deal to trade down.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers created the workout for Trey Lance’s second pro day and had “a hand in administering it” according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano. Jeremy Fowler from ESPN reports that they haven’t decided who they are taking at #3 yet. Alabama’s Mac Jones has returned to being the betting favorite at some bookmakers after Ohio State’s Justin Fields briefly took over last week. This pick should remain a cliffhanger and if it’s Jones, it could change the picks for most of the rest of the first round... San Francisco signed running back Wayne Gallman and defensive end Arden Key. Gallman should have the inside track to beat out Ja’Mycal Hasty for the #3 running back job, and should be on waiver wire watch lists because of Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert’s injury histories and the quality of this running game. Key is a reclamation project signing, similar to Dion Jordan last offseason, who notched three sacks for San Francisco last year.
Aldon Smith surrendered to authorities on second-degree battery charges in Chalmette, Louisiana. The team just signed him last week, but might have to make alternate plans at edge rusher after Smith’s troubles appeared to have returned following a strong comeback campaign with Dallas last year... Seattle signed cornerback Pierre Desir and quarterback Geno Smith. Both will provide depth at their positions, but if either ends up on the field for significant snaps, it’s a bad sign for the team.
Washington Football Team
Alex Smith announced his retirement. Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said “medical people were very concerned” about Smith’s health after the team sought to bring him in as #1 pick Trevor Lawrence’s backup. Smith’s story will be remembered as a triumphant one... General manager Martin Mayhew said the team is “very confident and comfortable” with their quarterbacks and expressed hesitation about Trey Lance because of a limited track record. We’ll see if his tune changes in the event that Lance falls farther than expected next week. Running back Bryce Love was released. The team spent a fourth-round pick on him in 2019 after he suffered a catastrophic knee injury. He would have been a much higher pick in 2018 if he had come out after a very strong junior season... Jordan Reed, best known for his play during his years with Washington, retired this week. At one point he was a premiere receiving tight end and draft prospects will still be compared to him even though he was not able to sustain his peak performance because of concussion and other various injuries.