Skip to main content

What we learned from Wednesday's minicamps, OTAs

The creeping end of organized team activities season means that contract season is near. By August, it wouldn't be surprising to have two new players crowned with the ultimate NFL honor: Being the highest paid on offense or defense.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts are working on a massive extension that could top $25 million per season. Let's just say that Luck's fall in the "Top 100 Players of 2016" did not make a big impact on Colts owner Jim Irsay.

Although Luck's shaky 2015 season could be used as reasonable grounds for the Colts lowering their offer a few million, his outrageous talent and production from 2012-2014 matters far more. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger have to age, eventually. Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Luck remain the best young bets to carry the quarterback torch into the 2020s. The number on the deal is almost irrelevant. All top starting quarterbacks are underpaid relative to their value to a team, and each "No. 1 contract" gets passed before long.

Von Miller's expected upcoming deal with the Denver Broncos is a little more complicated. The pass rusher has turned down an offer of $114.5 million. The two sides have until July 15 to come to terms on a deal or Miller would have no choice but to sign his one-year tender as the team's franchise player in order to suit up in 2016. We don't expect that to happen. After helping deliver a Super Bowl title for John Elway last winter, the Broncos general manager should deliver Miller a contract that makes him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL. Minicamp can go on without him.

Here's what else we learned during Wednesday's minicamp and OTA festivities:

  1. Giovanni Bernard's three-year, $15.5 million contract looks like a steal for the Cincinnati Bengals. We nearly put him on our list of players that should make their first Pro Bowl in 2015 because he's the rare big name who is somehow underrated.

Bernard's passing down skills and ability to make defenders miss in space is unquestioned. He's an underrated runner between the tackles and even his numbers (1,200 yards from scrimmage in two of his three seasons) get overlooked. We'd bet on him out-gaining Jeremy Hill again this season because Bernard is simply too good to keep off the field most downs. This contract is a great example of Cincinnati's amazing run of drafting and developing in recent seasons. That includes the Bengals' penchant for re-signing their best players.

  1. Last year, the New England Patriots gave Tom Brady the majority of practice reps with the first team as they hoped his suspension would be overturned. Jimmy Garoppolo is splitting reps at mandatory minicamp, a sign the Patriots are looking to get Garoppolo truly prepared to start the first four games. Perhaps this is coach Bill Belichick's way of making Brady play with even more fury.
  1. "Best WR on the field so far" isn't a description we expected to read about Chris Hogan back in February. Then again, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola aren't on the field and Hogan made his "7-11" reputation by dominating pad-less practice. This is his time of year, but the Patriots have to be encouraged because they can really use the receiver depth.
  1. There is no three-way quarterback battle to monitor in Buffalo, and that's benefited Tyrod Taylor. Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News notes that Taylor has been "a lot more comfortable snapping through his reads" in practice. Buffalo ran some read option Wednesday, which can be devastating with Taylor at the helm. He's the fanciest runner among quarterbacks in the entire league.

Third-stringer Cardale Jones, on the other hand, has inspired a few practice reports noting his slow adaptation to NFL practice. It's obviously not a concern this early in his rookie season, but it is a reminder that EJ Manuel remains the favorite to be Taylor's backup.

While we're dropping bite-sized Buffalo nuggets, second-year wideout Dezmin Lewis is a name to watch in a wide open battle for the third receiver job.

  1. Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians' quote of the day came when asked to name the closest competitors behind Justin Bethel for the starting cornerback job.

"Well, everybody that's out there cause he ain't out there. And they're gaining on him because he's not out there. I don't get into experience. There's a lot of experienced guys that stink. We go after 'em every Sunday. Give me a guy that's talented."

Bethel is fresh off a new contract and foot surgery, but Arians doesn't have a lot of sympathy. Perhaps he realizes how thin the Cardinals look at cornerback.

  1. Chicago Bears guard Manny Ramirez retired Wednesday at age 33. While he will always be remembered as the guy that started Super Bowl XLVIII with a bad snap, Ramirez was also a 16-game starter for Denver's record-setting offense in 2013.
  1. Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett admitted he has no idea whether missing middle linebacker Rolando McClain will show up for mandatory minicamp next week. In the meantime, Sean Lee remains sidelined and Dez Bryantisn't yet participating in team drills.
This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content