Winning and losing are the ultimate bottom lines in the NFL, but it’s not just on the field where teams and players can rack up victories or defeats. The league’s minutiae also provides space for wins and losses of various sizes and imports, and that’s what we’ll be focusing on every week. Here are the NFL’s biggest winners and losers, post-Super Bowl edition.
It goes without saying that the biggest winners of the week are the Philadelphia Eagles, who not only defeated the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Sunday’s Super Bowl—thus preventing the storied dynasty from securing its sixth Lombardi Trophy—but also brought home the first championship in franchise history. It was a thoroughly thrilling game, rife with compelling moments, “is-it-a-catch?” intrigue and a backup quarterback, Nick Foles, being named the game’s Most Valuable Player. And there’s simply no bigger winner in the league than the team that literally wins it all.
However, the Eagles’ center, Jason Kelce, was certainly the star of the team’s Super Bowl victory parade, held in downtown Philadelphia on Thursday. Dressed as a mummer (with a hefty side of the Macho Man Randy Savage), Kelce cut a WWE-worthy promo on the doubters and haters along the Eagles’ championship journey and managed to put forth enough Philly-worthy profanity to get him muted on the NFL Network for a full minute of airtime.
Kelce had a stellar year as a starter in the Eagles’ talented offensive line, with the Washington Post crediting him with only two sacks allowed through all 19 games. But all signs seem to point to Kelce being remembered for something else this year:
Oh my god they had to bleep out Jason Kelce’s Super Bowl parade speech for A FULL MINUTE. pic.twitter.com/IenPif6cyx— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) February 8, 2018
After five starts in 2017 (and seven in his career), the San Francisco 49ers believed they have seen enough out of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, giving him a five-year, $137.5 million contract on Thursday. The deal averages out to a league-leading $27.5 million per year, with a total of $74 million in guarantees. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has the full breakdown here, which makes clear that the Niners believe that James Grapes is their franchise quarterback for at least the next two seasons (based on the terms of the contract). They certainly coveted him, having traded a 2018 second-round draft pick to the New England Patriots for his services late last October.
Garoppolo went 5-0 as a starter for the 49ers last season, completing 67.4 percent of his passes, averaging 260 passing yards per game an throwing seven touchdowns to five interceptions. And with San Francisco possessing a great deal of salary cap space, a need to find stability under center and the market for the position ever on the rise, they have now created a new benchmark for other quarterbacks in pursuit of their next contracts. Kirk Cousins, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are just three who could benefit from the re-setting of the market.
Of course, the market dictates itself—the quarterback position is overvalued as an asset and thus highly paid as a result—and the significant rise of the salary cap every year also makes these large deals seem even more inflated. But Garoppolo certainly got himself well-paid this week; the question, though, is whether this proves to be another Matt Flynn situation (and whether the Niners will thus use a draft asset on a quarterback at some point come April).
At the end of the 2017 regular season, the Indianapolis Colts finally found fit to part ways with head coach Chuck Pagano after six years. And from the beginning it was clear they had one top target in mind to replace him: Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. They interviewed him twice, believed he was committed to taking the job and then patiently waited for the Super Bowl to come and go, per NFL rules, to make the hiring official. Ultimately, however, pen never met paper and McDaniels backed out at the 11th-and-a-half-hour, choosing to stick with New England and leaving the Colts high and dry.
McDaniels had already begun assembling a coaching staff, some of whom the Colts have hired—defensive coordinator Matt Elerbus and defensive line coach Mike Phair—and will keep, and others that McDaniels had to wave off on Tuesday. And while it may prove that the Colts have dodged a bullet (McDaniels had once been the head coach of the Denver Broncos, in 2009-2010, steering them to an 11-17 record), they are clearly behind their intended schedule to assemble a staff and also continue to look like a suspect organization.
The relatively uncertain future of quarterback Andrew Luck compounds matters, as does the fact that the already-hired defensive coaches will keep their jobs under whoever becomes the Colts’ new head coach, already hamstringing that person’s autonomy. While none of this reflects well on McDaniels—who now must either take over for Bill Belichick as the future Patriots’ head coach or likely never get an HC opportunity again—it’s also quite a bad look for the Colts and their search for an identity in an increasingly desperate situation.
The 49ers coming to terms this week with Garoppolo sets even further into relief just how disconcerting the quarterback situation remains for the Cleveland Browns. Not only did the Patriots spurn the Browns’ attempts to acquire Garoppolo in the past—reportedly giving up greater compensation than San Francisco offered in order to spare the quarterback from potentially ruining his career—another potential veteran target for the team is on the verge of being off the market.
Despite trades not being valid until the start of the new NFL league year in mid-March, the Kansas City Chiefs are expected to send Alex Smith to Washington in return for a third-round draft pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. That means that Kirk Cousins’ time with Washington has more than likely come to an end, but that also doesn’t necessarily imply that the Browns will be his next landing spot. Cousins made it clear in January that money (which Cleveland is flush with) isn’t his only consideration; winning, and contributing to a playoff contender, is his first priority. With the Browns boasting a 1-31 record over the last two years (and 0-16 in 2017), other suitors such as the Denver Broncos, New York Jets or Minnesota Vikings could certainly strike Cousins’ interest over the prospect of playing in Cleveland.
Charlie Weis just chatted with Kirk Cousins on radio row. I asked him what he told Kirk: “Don’t go to a team just because they offer you the most money”— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) February 2, 2018
The Browns have DeShone Kizer, as well as the first- and fourth-overall picks in the 2018 Draft, with one of those two likely being spent on another quarterback. But one thing they also need is a veteran in the quarterback room who can serve as competition, a bridge or even a bona fide answer at the position for 2018. And though they are cash-rich, they are cache-poor, and the directions they can choose from are quickly becoming limited well before free agency even begins.