In this week’s episode of our NFL Draft Insiders Podcast, Tony Pauline and Andy Herman touched on a wide variety of NFL Free Agency topics, including the backdrop to some of the agreements and signings in the first days of the legal tampering period and free agency. This includes the New York Jets’ pursuit of Jack Conklin, the Miami Dolphins signing Byron Jones, the New England Patriots applying the franchise tag to Joe Thuney, and more.
We’ve brought some of the information into a narrative form so you can easily digest it, but we recommend that you listen to the Draft Insiders podcast for more context and details. We’ve also included timestamps below so you can easily find the conversation. Search for NFL Draft Insiders on your favorite podcast player, click the link above, or use the podcast player at the end of the article for easy access and listening.
What happened with the Jets’ pursuit of OL Jack Conklin?
(7:00) After talking to numerous people around the league, Pauline is led to believe that the Jets didn’t want to go over a certain price for Conklin. Additionally, he notes that he was told that some of the coaching staff, including assistant OL coach Derek Frazier, was telling people after the NFL Combine that he was not in favor of signing the offensive lineman. That’s because he considered him to be an unathletic right tackle prospect.
After not getting into a bidding war for Conklin, the Jets moved their attention to Seahawks OL George Fant. And while Pauline notes that some Jets fans view this as a panic move, he says that it’s quite the opposite. In fact, the Jets have been interested in Fant for numerous weeks, which Pauline first reported at the NFL Combine. And on Monday, they were calling him throughout the day to check on his status.
With Conklin, Thuney, and Vaitai off the market, keep an eye on this.
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) March 16, 2020
Pauline says that the Jets find Fant most appealing because of his athleticism. This is important because as Pauline noted before, head coach Adam Gase wants to use wide splits on the line this season and Fant fits in perfectly with that. Furthermore, Pauline believes that if Fant is properly coached and developed, the Jets got a steal as he is a guy who could play left tackle and has a high upside.
In this segment, Pauline and Herman continued to talk about the Jets and their plans on the offensive line, including what they think the Jets might do in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft.
Miami Dolphins swoop in and land CB Byron Jones. What happened with the Raiders and Eagles?
(12:52) One of the more surprising moves of the day on Monday was when it was announced that CB Byron Jones had agreed to a contract with the Miami Dolphins. This was surprising because, throughout the day, we had reported that the bidding was between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles, with the New York Giants also being involved. In fact, many around the league over the weekend thought that Jones would end up in Philadelphia.
But Pauline says that the Dolphins came in with such a big offer, that it knocked the Eagles out of the running. When you looked at the amount of money involved and then added in no income tax in Florida, they couldn’t compete.
The offer from the Dolphins didn’t stop the Raiders though, as they were calling about Jones throughout the day, almost until the very end. But while the Raiders went toe-to-toe with the Dolphins, Pauline speculated that an instance all the way back in 2014 may have had something to do with the Dolphins getting the needed edge.
Pauline went into detail about this, and also discussed with Herman the Dolphins offseason moves and how they align with Brian Flores building his vision for the team.
The New England Patriots franchising OL Joe Thuney seemed to come out of nowhere.
(19:40) The New England Patriots applied the franchise tag to OL Joe Thuney, which took many around the league by surprise, including Thuney and his team. That’s because Pauline said that there was not a lot of chatter about Thuney getting the franchise tag and it was assumed he would enter free agency.
So why did the Patriots decide to make this move just before the deadline? Pauline believes this happened for two reasons – the first being to protect whoever the new quarterback will be for the Patriots in 2020. Additionally, Pauline was aware of two teams who were going to make a big push for Thuney – the Jets and the Dolphins.
By applying the franchise tag, the Patriots killed two birds with one stone. They’ll be able to help protect their new quarterback this season and also kept Thuney away from a division rival.
Pauline and Herman continued to talk more about this and also why applying the franchise tag so close to free agency is problematic for some throughout the league.