HomeSportShorting the Receiver Market, the Packers and Cowboys Bet Wrong

Shorting the Receiver Market, the Packers and Cowboys Bet Wrong

For need of a dependable large receiver, the Dallas Cowboys season was misplaced.

The workforce’s quarterback, Dak Prescott, fractured his thumb whereas making an attempt to guide a hopeless fourth-quarter comeback in a 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday evening. Prescott confronted a relentless go rush all night as a result of the Buccaneers had little to worry from a depleted Cowboys receiving corps consisting of CeeDee Lamb, undrafted rookies and profession backups.

One thing horrible was sure to occur, and it did.

The Cowboys had been flush with receiver expertise in previous seasons, however they traded Amari Cooper, Prescott’s high goal from 2018 by way of 2021, to the Cleveland Browns for a fifth-round draft choose in early March. Although Cooper’s $20 million wage was slated to change into assured this season, the cost-saving transfer appeared ill-advised on the time and appears downright cataclysmic now that the Cowboys can be with out a functioning offense till Prescott’s return, if not past.

But the Cowboys have been simply one in every of a number of would-be contenders who traded away high receivers within the low season and sorely missed them of their season openers.

It began through the N.F.L. free company interval in March, when the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Christian Kirk, a productive receiver however no famous person, to a four-year, $72-million contract. That unexpectedly beneficiant contract threw a wrench into the negotiations between the extension-seeking All-Professional receivers Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill and their respective groups, which in flip sparked one thing of a bear marketplace for the place.

Instantly, perennial playoff contenders have been desperate to unload the providers of their quarterback’s favourite playmakers to upstarts with obtainable money and cap area.

The Inexperienced Bay Packers traded Adams, a two-time All-Professional who caught 29 landing passes from Aaron Rodgers over the 2020 and 2021 seasons, to the Las Vegas Raiders for first- and second-round draft picks. Kansas Metropolis traded Hill, Patrick Mahomes’s most prolific highlight-reel collaborator, for the same haul.

On draft day, the Tennessee Titans traded A.J. Brown, their chief in receptions and yards from 2019 by way of 2021, to the Philadelphia Eagles, whereas the Baltimore Ravens traded the highest receiver Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals, every for first-round picks.

The Cowboys, at all times two steps forward of the competitors, had already overpaid Cooper in 2020 and dealt him simply earlier than suitors started lining up with first-round compensation. By no means take inventory market recommendation from Jerry Jones.

Many of the traded receivers signed $100 million-plus extensions with their new groups, whereas their former employers drafted rookie comfort prizes, most notably the Titans’ first-round choose, Treylon Burks, and the Packers’ second-round choose, Christian Watson. Sadly, asking a rookie to fill in for Adams or A.J. Brown is like changing the corporate gross sales chief with a plucky intern.

Rodgers’s first go of the 2022 season was a pinpoint 45-yard bomb which plummeted softly into Watson’s fingers … after which straight by way of them to the bottom. Rodgers responded to the drop by making an attempt to vaporize the rookie together with his optic blasts, however Rodgers hasn’t but acquired that superpower, and heaven assist society if he does.

As a substitute, Rodgers settled for a day of lengthy scowls at his receivers and brief dump-offs to his working backs and tight ends in a 23-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Whereas Rodgers welcomed his new receivers the best way a toddler welcomes a bowl of broccoli, Adams caught 10 passes for 141 yards and one landing in a slender Raiders loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. For comparability’s sake, 5 Packers large receivers mixed for simply 120 yards on Sunday.

The Titans, in the meantime, are attempting to resolve their large receiver downside the best way the Titans clear up all of their issues: by working working again Derrick Henry like a rented stump grinder. In a single third-quarter sequence towards the Giants final week, Henry took a first-down handoff, then a second-down handoff, then lined up at quarterback for a direct snap on third down. Henry bobbled the snap, the Titans punted, and the Giants scored the landing which jump-started their 21-20 upset victory.

Relocated to Philadelphia, A.J. Brown caught 10 passes for 155 yards in a 38-35 Eagles victory over the Detroit Lions. With Brown upgrading their passing recreation and a Cowboys tailspin imminent, the Eagles have change into heavy favorites to win the N.F.C. East.

The Titans, a 12-win workforce in 2021, should now attempt to preserve tempo within the A.F.C. whereas executing recreation plans that might bore your grandfather’s highschool coach.

Kansas Metropolis didn’t seem like affected by Hill’s absence in Week 1. Mahomes, who nonetheless has dependable targets within the All-Professional tight finish Travis Kelce and the veteran addition JuJu Smith-Schuster, threw 5 landing passes in a 44-21 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals.

As for Hill, he’s now the focus of the Dolphins’ DoorDash offense, gathering Tua Tagovailoa’s hot-potato tosses and delivering them downfield on foot. Hill’s eight catches for 94 yards fueled a 20-7 victory over the New England Patriots, a workforce that deserted the usage of large receivers altogether after the 2019 season.

The Ravens additionally didn’t miss Marquise Brown, whose 4 catches and meaningless late-game landing allowed him to suit proper in with the stylishly underachieving Cardinals. Lamar Jackson didn’t want a lot assist to trounce the Jets and by no means will. The Ravens face a more durable check, nevertheless, once they host the Dolphins on Sunday whereas Kansas Metropolis will face the up-and-coming Chargers on Thursday evening. Hill and Brown’s departures might quickly begin to sting.

Receiver salaries stabilized by summer season, and stars reminiscent of Deebo Samuel, Terry McLaurin and DK Metcalf signed hefty-but-affordable extensions. The Cowboys, Packers, Titans, Kansas Metropolis or Ravens might need discovered a technique to fulfill their high receivers had they waited out the bear market. As a substitute, the Cowboys’ 2022 season is actually over, and the others face a a lot steeper climb to the Tremendous Bowl.

As for the workforce that began all of this: They misplaced to the Washington Commanders on Sunday, regardless of six catches for 117 yards from Kirk, whose contract butterfly-effected this complete factor. Go away it to the Jaguars to destroy issues for everybody else with out actually serving to themselves.

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