As it always does in late February, the NFL world has descended on Indianapolis. The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine is upon us, with seven days packed with weigh-ins, measurements, medical exams, media availabilities, team interviews, and on-field workouts. Of course, the action on the field or inside interview rooms is only a small part of what is annually the largest gathering of team executives, coaches, scouting personnel, and player representatives on the NFL calendar.
The real action is what takes place in and around the various restaurants, bars, and hotels as team personnel, agents, and even media members meet, mingle, and discuss free agency and the NFL Draft – with each conversation based on varying degrees of truth.
As the week goes on, Pro Football Network will have you covered with all of the news and rumors making their way around Indianapolis. And with what promises to be one of the most interesting NFL offseasons in recent memory, it’s a good thing that both PFN NFL Draft Analyst and Insider Tony Pauline and PFN NFL Insider Benjamin Allbright will be in Indianapolis all week for the 2020 Scouting Combine, sharing all of the latest buzz.
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The latest news and rumors from the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine
5:15 PM ET (via Ben Allbright): AFC West News and Notes
The Denver Broncos have opened long-term negotiations again with S Justin Simmons. If they can’t agree to a deal, the Broncos will likely franchise him.
Staying in the AFC West, I’m told that the Los Angeles Chargers are eyeing a possible trade-up in the first round of the NFL Draft. We’re working to uncover more details and hope to have more information later today.
4:45 PM ET (via Tony Pauline): New Orleans Saints to draft WRs?
Yesterday, I mentioned that numerous general managers expect 15 receivers to be selected during the initial two rounds of the draft. Some are saying as many as 25 receivers could be drafted by the time the third round closes out.
Word at the NFL Combine is that the New Orleans Saints could select at least two of those 25 receivers. With Drew Brees announcing he will be returning to the Saints in 2020 and the need to add depth at the receiver position around Michael Thomas, sources in Indianapolis tell me it’s very likely the Saints use both the 24th and 88th selections of the draft on a receiver. This is not inconceivable considering the need for the Saints and the depth at the position.
11:45 AM ET (via Tony Pauline): Latest on free agent wide receivers
While most of the conversation centers around the crop of receivers available in this year’s draft, there’s an equally talented group expected to be available in free agency. The free agent receivers offer quality at the top as well as several third and fourth wideouts who will not be too pricey. So how do they stack up? Here’s a look at how teams rate the top four receivers slated for free agency and what their next course of action may be:
1) AJ Green/Cincinnati Bengals: Green is far and away the top receiver that could hit the open market, which is his desire. As has been reported, the Bengals will either sign him to a long-term deal or place the franchise tag on Green.
2) Amari Cooper/Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys would like to keep Cooper after giving the Raiders a first-round pick for him two years ago – but do they have the money? I’m told Dallas could put the franchise tag on Cooper if they can fit him under the salary cap.
3) Emmanuel Sanders/San Francisco 49ers: Sanders wants to stay with the Niners and San Francisco wants him back. If the contract is not too exorbitant, it’s very likely Sanders ends up back with the Niners.
4) Robby Anderson/NY Jets: League sources tell me the word is the Jets will try and re-sign Anderson. And why not? He’s been the team’s most consistent receiver and lethal downfield threat. He’s also built a great rapport on the field with quarterback Sam Darnold the past two years and that’s something the Jets probably don’t want to disturb.
If Cooper is tagged by the Cowboys, and both Green and Sanders re-sign with their existing teams, the conversation changes. Anderson will then be the top receiver on the free agent market and may price himself out of New York. The natural fit would be the Philadelphia Eagles, as the team needs speed at receiver, expects to lose Nelson Agholor to free agency, and Anderson is a Temple product. Then again, would the Eagles spend $10 million a year on a receiver when it seems that money is likely to be used on a cornerback?
9:30 PM ET (via Tony Pauline): CBA negotiations slowing down free agency?
As general managers await details of the new CBA, assuming there is indeed a new CBA, team operations across the league have slowed.
This evening I’ve learned the slow down of operations has extended to contract offerings of restricted free agents and players expected to be tendered. Sources tell me they also expect free agent talk at the Combine to be lighter than usual until such time that teams have a better idea of what the future holds.
7:00 PM ET (via Tony Pauline): Six receivers in the first round?
There’s been plenty of talk about the strength of the wide receiver class in the 2020 NFL Draft but what do general managers around the league think will happen as the Combine opens up?
I’m told the expectations right now are six receivers will end up in the first round and a total of 15 will be off the board by the end of round two. Obviously, that is subject to change over the next month and a half but that’s the present feeling as the position is set to work out on Thursday.
6:05 PM ET (via Tony Pauline): Latest on Tua Tagovailoa and Jerry Jeudy
I’m told Tua Tagovailoa’s father will be in Indianapolis for the Combine to be with his son. It’s rare for families to travel to the Combine to be with their kids as they have no access to the workouts, as compared to the Senior Bowl or Shrine Game where families routinely fill the stands during practice. Then again Tua has a very close relationship with his dad, so this makes sense.
Interestingly enough, Tua has an official 45 meeting with the Washington Redskins at the Combine. While there are some in the Washington organization not sold on Dwayne Haskins, I would not read to much into this. Though an interesting talking point, in the end, it’s Washington doing their due diligence.
Meanwhile, Tagovailoa’s favorite target, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, has every intention of running the forty and working out later this week. As someone told me, “Jerry is here to compete.”
12:28 PM ET (via Ben Allbright): Increasing chatter on the Panthers moving up
There is increasing chatter at the NFL Combine regarding the Carolina Panthers and them making a move up the draft board for the first overall pick. The feeling within some NFL circles is that there is some legitimacy to this rumor. Allbright and PFN are working to uncover more details on this situation.