Why It Matters: The Ravens didn’t see much of a future for Jernigan after signing fellow DT Brandon Williams to a big deal this offseason. He should be a good fit in Jim Schwartz 4-3 defense, especially on run downs. The Eagles have a strong front seven, but need help at corner, which should come in the draft. The compensation for Jernigan was very small despite Ozzie Newsome’s odd proclamation that the top 10 picks in the third round are prime real estate. This could affect the market for Jets DT Sheldon Richardson, who is a much more talented player, but also a lot more expensive.
Why It Matters: There are some assurances that this is not contract-related, and the team didn’t seem to be worried about it. McCoy had his best year in a while in 2016, good enough to get into consideration as the #4 running back off of the board in early drafts. We’ll monitor this, but for now it appears to be a non-story.
Denver - Head coach Vance Joseph said RB CJ Anderson might not be ready for OTAs after undergoing knee surgery in October.
Why It Matters: If Anderson is sidelined this long after surgery, it’s not a good sign for this 2017 outlook. He said he hasn’t been able to run for four months and in photos his weight appears it might be an issue. Devontae Booker was disappointing last year in relief of Anderson, so the Broncos are likely to look to the draft for a long-term replacement. Christian McCaffrey is a local product and could be the choice for Denver at 20 if he’s still there. Anderson is looking risky at his early fourth-round ADP. The Broncos actions in the draft could tip their hand as their expectations for Anderson this year and in the future.
Why It Matters: There was some worry about Gronkowski after he underwent his third back surgery following a season-ending back injury, but his statement is reassuring, as is the way he moved when he was part of an opening day prank involving Tom Brady’s jersey at the Red Sox game. He should still be the TE1 in drafts, although he’ll likely only cost a second, or even third-round pick after often going in the first last year.
Why It Matters: Well, maybe it doesn’t. There is speculation that the move was a favor done for recently reinstated agent Ben Dogra, and the lack of interest in Peterson around the league combined with other recent news of mutual interest between the Patriots and LeGarrette Blount seems to back up the idea that it certainly wasn’t indicative of actual interest in Peterson. It becomes more likely by the day that Peterson will be waiting a while to find his next gig and he won’t get paid nearly as much as he thought or maybe even get as much as he thought a few months ago.
Why It Matters: The Rex Burkhead bandwagon is slowing down just as it was getting started. If Blount is added, he will a good value again, as he should hoover up double-digit touchdowns and salt away the game carries. The Patriots could have the most productive backfield in the league for fantasy football, but if Blount is added, he’ll be the only reliable weekly start.
Why It Matters: The smoke turned to a raging fire very quickly this week. The fantasy world still might be a bit slow to react, so Lynch’s value in dynasty leagues and early drafts still hasn’t caught up to what seems like a foregone conclusion. He might not regain his old form and will have to share with DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. The negotiations between Seattle and Oakland to get Lynch back to his hometown could hit a hitch, but all that risk is more than worth taking on to get the potential reward of a role that Latavius Murray turned into RB2 value last year at current price. Look for Lynch to go in the 4th-5th round of drafts, if not higher, when he is officially a member of the Raiders.
Dallas - QB Tony Romo was released and retired from the NFL to take a job as an analyst for CBS.
Why It Matters: No matter what the Texans and Broncos say, they have to be disappointed by this development. We shouldn’t rule out a return to the field for Romo, as he refused to completely foreclose the possibility, but it is highly unlikely to happen this year. Phil Simms will not be on the “A” team for CBS this year, with Romo taking his place next to Jim Nantz. The Texans are now almost a lock to take a quarterback in the draft this year, with the #25 pick a good spot to get one of the top four options. That rookie could replace Tom Savage by the end of the season, and maybe even get a playoff start with the weakness of the AFC South. The Broncos will have Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch battle out. The talented Broncos and Texans wide receivers miss out on the chance to get a big boost in value with Romo’s retirement.
Why It Matters: Hightower’s value takes a hit, even though Carlos Hyde’s running style and injury history indicates that Hightower could see a few starts and should see a good amount of work as a backup. The Saints have a big opening at backup running back now, with 2016 seventh-rounder Daniel Lasco a possibility if the team doesn’t go with a running back in the draft. Mark Ingram II has been known to miss time with injuries and the Saints are a plug and play offense, so we’ll be watching this closely.
Why It Matters: The Seahawks are sending a clear message to Sherman with a rare confirmation of rumor in the media. Even when rumor is accurate, team officials rarely confirm so decisively. The Seahawks will certainly seek top-end compensation for Sherman, and that alone could keep a deal from happening, not to mention Sherman’s age (29) and his potential volatility in terms of team-building, but one would think the Cowboys would jump at the possibility of having Sherman instead of a first-round pick with their losses at corner, and the Patriots have already floated their potential interest in Sherman if they have to move on from RFA CB Malcolm Butler, who could go to the Saints in a trade after he signs his RFA tender.