Doug Kyed's Wild-Card Weekend Mailbag: Hirings and firings, Russell Wilson's future and Patriots' draft needs

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) drops back to pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

One-quarter of NFL franchises need new head coaches now that the regular season is complete, and teams have gone through the process of making changes this week. 

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In this week’s mailbag, we’ll tackle hirings, firings, quarterback destinations and some draft talk.

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@JohnnyC1993: What are your predictions for where Russ, Rodgers, and Deshaun land?

I do think the Houston Texans firing David Culley makes the Watson situation interesting, though. If the Texans hire Brian Flores, who was tied to Watson in the Miami Dolphins’ interest, then is it still a point of no return for Watson and Houston? Probably, but if there’s any possible way to salvage it, then it might involve hiring Flores. Texans general manager Nick Caserio worked with Flores from 2004 to 2018 with the New England Patriots.

This is just something to potentially keep an eye on since everyone assumes the Texans will trade Watson. If they do — still the most likely conclusion — there will be many suitors.

Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo is another name to watch for the Texans' opening.

I know Wilson said late in the 2021 season that he planned on returning to Seattle. With the way the last offseason went with his agent presenting four teams he’d waive his no-trade clause for, I’m just not convinced.

@Pavel99_B: Will Saint's asst. GM Jeff Ireland land a GM job? #SKOL

I know New Orleans Saints assistant general manager/college scouting director Jeff Ireland is held in high regard around the NFL. He’s interviewing for the Chicago Bears general manager vacancy, and I know some people involved in that hiring process believe he’s one of the top candidates.

There are many strong contenders for that job, however, and they’re casting a wide net to hire their head coach and general manager.

Ireland was hired by the Saints in 2015, and since that time they’ve drafted Andrus Peat, P.J. Williams, Michael Thomas, Vonn Bell, David Onyemata, Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams, Alvin Kamara, Trey Hendrickson, Marcus Davenport, Erik McCoy and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson among other talented players starting around the NFL.

Ireland is viewed as one of the best college scouts in the league, and the Saints would miss him, but he does face some heavy competition.

@Smi77i: What area should the Pats address first in the draft?

This is going to make me sound like a casual, but New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones would benefit from a top-end pass catcher, whether that’s in free agency or the draft.

Patriots pass-catchers have been solid so far this season and probably better than you might think. Collectively, their running backs, wide receivers and tight ends’ PFF grades rank fifth in the NFL behind the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers. That’s despite not having a wide receiver or tight end post an overall PFF grade higher than 75.6.

Patriots skill-players with over 100 offensive snaps
Position Snaps Overall grade Receiving grade
Jakobi Meyers WR 928 74.9 74.9
Hunter Henry TE 748 73.9 75.9
Nelson Agholor WR 705 65.9 64.6
Kendrick Bourne WR 572 75.6 75.2
Jonnu Smith TE 525 59.3 68.2
Damien Harris RB 407 87.5 70.2
Brandon Bolden RB 341 77.5 84.2
N’Keal Harry WR 323 69.1 64.5
Jakob Johnson FB 308 67.7 55.6
Rhamondre Stevenson RB 263 79.2 51.2

There was nothing wrong with the Patriots’ running backs, wide receivers and tight ends in the passing game this season. Bolden certainly performed above expectations, and Bourne was a great find in free agency, but they do lack a top-end talent. Now, before you come at me saying the Patriots always spread the ball around and never have a No. 1 target, then what would you call Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski or even Julian Edelman? Meyers, Bourne, Agholor, Henry and Smith are solid contributors, but they aren't as productive or trusted as Edelman was when he was playing with Tom Brady.

Jones needs that type of player to keep growing. Just look at what Joe Burrow accomplished this season with Ja’Marr Chase. It will be impossible to find a player of Chase’s caliber where the Patriots are picking, but they need to keep adding talent at wide receiver. The top wide receivers who could be in New England’s range are Alabama’s Jameson Williams, who tore his ACL on Monday, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks, Penn State’s Jahan Dotson and Ohio State’s Chris Olave. Maybe USC’s Drake London could fall to the Patriots, but that seems more unlikely.

New England showed a willingness to draft Harry in the first round three years ago, so they could take another swing.

@TheJDMman: Should the Saints be comfortable going into next season with Jameis Winston under center? If not, what other options would they consider?

I think Jameis Winston is a good option to have in the back pocket. I don’t know if the Saints can go back to Taysom Hill after what he showed at the end of this season, as he’s better off playing that hybrid role as a wildcat/pass-catcher.

If the Saints can’t get an option like Wilson, then they could certainly do worse than bringing back Winston until they draft a replacement. The Saints almost definitely make the playoffs this season if Winston is under center all year.

@syank_nyr: Are there any positives for a coach or GM to want to come to the Giants?And what is the hardest part about joining the Giants? QB? Mara? Barkley? The cap?

It’s interesting because only a few years ago, the New York Giants were considered one of the most appealing franchises to work for because of their ownership stability. Since then, perhaps the family got a little bit too involved in football decisions, but now, it seems like they’re willing to take a step back and let their new general manager run the show.

One major positive for New York's next general manager is that he’ll be allowed to pick his own head coach. The Giants also have the Nos. 5 and 7 overall picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, which is massive to build for the future. The biggest negative is probably the salary cap situation.

The Giants currently have negative $367,578 in cap space heading into the 2022 offseason, according to Over The Cap. That’s rough for a bad team that has a quarterback on a rookie contract, but they’ll be in a much better position in 2023 and beyond, and there are some obvious cuts they can make before next season to get under the cap.

This sounds simple, but the Giants’ priority should be figuring out a way to get Wilson to New York. Daniel Jones’ injury was unfortunate, but he just hasn’t shown the ability to take the next step at this point in his career. If the Giants can't hit a home run at quarterback this offseason, then they should look into drafting a signal-caller on Day 2. They have one second-round pick and two third-round picks.

Related content for you:

Joe Burrow vs. Justin Herbert: Who do NFL sources, PFF analysts prefer long-term? via Doug Kyed

@bean_green0: Favorite part about Gillette?

I think I kind of took Gillette Stadium for granted as a newer and more generic venue when it was first built. When I was covering the Patriots, I heard opposing players talk about how it’s a stadium they grew up watching, and how a game at Gillette Stadium – especially in primetime – is a big deal.

I think that kind of changed my perspective of it, as it is cool that so many big moments in NFL history have taken place in that stadium.


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