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The Wolf Sports Newsletter: March 19, 2024

A crazy NFL offseason continues.


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Aaron Donald calls it a career


After ten spectacular seasons with the Rams, defensive lineman Aaron Donald has retired from the NFL. Since he was drafted 13th overall by the Rams in 2014, the “undersized” interior player was a terror to opposing offensive lines, racking up 111.0 career sacks while winning three Defensive Player of the Year awards (2017, 2018, 2020) and a Super Bowl. He also was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s, won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014, was an eight-time All-Pro, and made the Pro Bowl all ten seasons. Donald is one of six players in NFL history to win multiple DPOY awards and a Super Bowl.



Vikings move up the draft board


Perhaps with an eye toward moving up again for a quarterback in next month’s draft, the Vikings acquired the No. 23 pick from the Texans in exchange for a second-rounder this year (No. 42) and a 2025 second-rounder (Houston also moved up from No. 232 to No. 188 in this year’s draft in the deal). This is potentially reminiscent of what the Eagles did to leap up the draft board and select Carson Wentz second overall in 2016, but we’ll see.



(Backup) quarterback carousel


The mind-blowing quarterback movement this offseason continued over the past several days, with a bunch of talented players—some that could or should arguably be starters—moving to new teams in backup roles.


The two headliners were Justin Fields being traded from the Bears to the Steelers for a conditional sixth-round pick that can turn into a fourth depending on the percentage of snaps Fields plays, and the Steelers first dealing Kenny Pickett and a fourth-round pick to the Eagles for a third-rounder and two sevenths. Basically, Pickett was not happy with how Pittsburgh handled bringing in Russell Wilson as the presumed starter, and the Bears didn’t get the market they wanted to Fields but send him to a good spot.



The other quarterback movement this week included:


  • Jimmy Garoppolo signed with the Rams.
  • The Seahawks acquired Sam Howell from the Commanders.
  • Reigning NFL Comeback Player of the Year Joe Flacco signed with the Colts.
  • The Commanders signed veteran Marcus Mariota.
  • The Giants signed Drew Lock.
  • Jameis Winston and Tyler Huntley both signed with the Browns.
  • Mason Rudolph signed with the Titans.


Big-time running backs on the move


The musical chairs extended to the running back position in a major way, with three more stars moving to new teams last week. The Ravens made their offense even scarier by adding former 2,000-yard rusher Derrick Henry. The Texans acquired running back Joe Mixon from the Bengals and gave him a new contract. And star runner Aaron Jones quickly signed with the division rival Vikings after the Packers cut him.



Jones did not leave the team on the best of terms, which has curiously been a theme in Green Bay in recent years.



Chargers get cap compliant


⚡️ Forced to deal with the ramifications of the salary cap, the Chargers cut receiver Mike Williams and traded receiver Keenan Allen to the Bears for a fourth-round pick. They also had to restructure the contracts of pass rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, so at least they’ll have the bookend defenders in the mix for Year 1 under Jim Harbaugh. Williams might also be back with Los Angeles on a new deal, but he’s going on a free agent tour this week that includes expected visits with the Steelers, Jets, and Panthers.


Presumptive No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams will now have D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen as his top two receivers in Chicago.



Free agent signings


Free-agent deals continued last week at and after the start of the new league year, with the most stunning being the Titans coming out of nowhere to sign former Falcons and Jaguars receiver Calvin Ridley to a monstrous four-year, $92 million deal.



At the linebacker spot, Patrick Queen went from the Ravens to the Steelers; the Eagles added former Super Bowl champion Devin White from the Bucs; and Tampa re-signed Lavonte Davis.



Other signings include:


  • The Saints are signing defensive end Chase Young to a one-year, $13 million deal.
  • The Jets signed longtime Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith to continue beefing up the offensive line.
  • The Eagles brought back tone-setting defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson on a three-year deal and also signed receiver DeVante Parker.
  • Speedy receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown signed with the defending champion Chiefs.
  • The Falcons added more talent to the offense by signing receiver Darnell Mooney and acquiring receiver Rondale Moore from the Cardinals.
  • The Bills signed dynamic receiver Curtis Samuel to a three-year deal.
  • The Dolphins added cornerback Kendall Fuller.
  • The Rams signed safety Kamren Curl.
  • The Commanders signed former Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn, cornerback Michael Davis, and former fourth overall pick Clelin Ferrell at defensive end.
  • Tight end movement includes Gerald Everett going to Chicago, Irv Smith Jr. signing with the Chiefs, and Mike Gesicki heading to the Bengals where he’ll be griddying with new teammate Ja’Marr Chase.



More NFL news


↔️ The Steelers traded receiver Diontae Johnson to the Panthers for cornerback Donte Jackson.


The Bills signed All-Pro nickel Taron Johnson to a contract extension through 2027.


⭐️ Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, who has dealt with neck issues throughout his career, has retired after six seasons with the Cowboys. Owner Jerry Jones said, “We’re proud that he wore the star on the helmet.”


Derek Watt has retired from the NFL after playing seven seasons for the Chargers and Steelers.



Lions head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes received very well-deserved contract extensions through the 2027 season.


The NFL is investigating both the Falcons (Kirk Cousins, Darnell Mooney) and Eagles (Saquon Barkley) for potential tampering violations.


❌ The 49ers have been docked a 2025 fifth-round pick and had their 2024 fourth-rounder moved to the end of the round due to payroll accounting errors.


✍️ The Eagles extended kicker Jake Elliott with a four-year, $24 million deal.


Former Titans head coach Mike Vrabel is joining the Browns as a consultant.


1️⃣ 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel is switching from No. 19 to No. 1. And Kirk Cousins will wear No. 18 in Atlanta.


‍♂️ Former Jaguars employee Amit Patel was sentenced to more than six years in prison for embezzlement while using millions of dollars from the Jags to place bets.


According to The New York TimesRobert F. Kennedy Jr. has talked to Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers about potentially being his running mate on an independent ticket for United States president.


Other Sports Updates


March Madness: The NCAA Tournament field is set.


⛳️ Scottie Scheffler won the 2024 Players Championship
, becoming the first golfer even to win the tournament in back-to-back years.



⚾️ The Giants signed two-time Cy Young winner Blake Snell, and Padres acquired starting pitcher Dylan Cease from the White Sox.


MLB injury news:


  • Red Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito is likely out for the entire 2024 season after elbow surgery.
  • Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole has avoided Tommy John surgery but will not throw for three-to-four weeks.
  • Brewers closer Devin Williams will miss a few months with a back injury.


️ Legendary football coach Nick Saban talked in front of Congress about how much NIL has changed college sports.



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