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Every NFC team’s best move from 2024 offseason, plus 22 things to watch for at mandatory minicamp

Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

I don’t know how it happened, but we’ve finally reached the final week of mandatory minicamp. After this week, there won’t be anymore NFL practices held until each team starts training camp in July.

That means you better soak up all the NFL news we have today, because we’ll be hitting the DEAD part of the NFL offseason by Friday. After that, there will be nothing on the NFL calendar until the franchise tag deadline date of July 15. (That’s the last day that a franchise-tagged player can sign a long-term deal. If it doesn’t happen by then, that means they’ll be playing the 2024 season on the tag.)ย 

Alright, now that we’ve got that depressing news out of the way, let’s get to the rundown.ย 

As always, here’s your daily reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. Actually, you don’t even have to tell all of your friends; just tell two of your friends and I’ll be happy. To get them signed up, all you have to do isย click here.ย 

1. Best move made by each NFC team this offseasonย 


From free agency to the draft to making trades, it’s been a busy offseason for every team in the NFC. One thing that’s always true about the offseason is that some moves are better than others, and since we wanted to know which ones were the best, we had Jeff Kerr go through and come up with the best move that each NFC team made this offseason.ย 

Here’s a look at the best move made by four of the teams in the NFC (one from each division):ย 

  • Bears: Made a trade for Keenan Allen.ย “The Bears only parted ways with a fourth-round pick for Allen, who has five seasons with 100 or more receptions in his career (tied for third most in NFL history). Allen is coming off a season which he averaged a career high in receiving yards per game (95.6) and has seven straight seasons with 70+ receiving yards per game. Having a receiver like Allen is exactly what Williams needs to have trust in getting rid of the football in Year 1.”
  • Eagles: Hired Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator.ย “The Eagles had one of the worst defenses in the NFL last season, leading to a change in defensive coordinator immediately after the year ended. They had Fangio fall into their lap. … The Eagles defense was 30th in points allowed per possession (2.35) and and 31st in yards allowed per possession (34.6) last season. They were 31st in pass touchdowns allowed (35) and pass yards per game allowed (252.7). This defense can’t be any worse under Fangio, nor should it be”
  • Cardinals: Drafted Marvin Harrison Jr.ย “The Cardinals didn’t have to trade up to land the best player in the draft. Thanks to the run of quarterbacks that went with the top three picks, Harrison fell right into the Cardinals’ lap at No. 4 overall.”
  • Panthers: Hired Dave Canales as head coach.ย “Known for getting Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield to career years in consecutive seasons, the Panthers are banking on Canales to do the same with Bryce Young as the QB heads into Year 2. Both Smith and Mayfield had career highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns in their seasons under Canales, earning long-term extensions and bringing stability at quarterback for their franchises.”

If you want to see the best move that was made by each team in the NFC, then be sure to click here. ย 

2. Darren Waller retires: Pro Bowl tight end done with football

After taking nearly five months to think things over, Darren Waller has decided to call it a career after eight NFL seasons. The Giants tight end officially made the announcement during a video that he shared to social media on Sunday.

Here’s what you need to know:ย 

  • Waller seems ready to move on.ย During his video, Waller said this his passion for football has “slowly been fading” and not even a huge potential pay check was enough to keep him on the field for another year. If Waller had decided to play this year, his base salary for 2024 would have been $10.53 million, but at this point, it seems like the money didn’t really matter to him. “(It’s) a whole lot of money (to leave behind),” Waller said. “But I feel like I’ve spent most of my life doing what I ‘should’ be doing … I’ve been a people pleaser my whole life. … This is an opportunity for me to kind of take back the power in my life, start to make choices for myself and take control.”
  • Waller dealt with a health scare in November.ย During his video, Waller said he went through a “very scary situation” involving his health back in November. The 31-year-old says he spent more than three days in the hospital battling a serious illness. “I come out of that experience,” Waller said,ย via “And I’m sitting in the hospital, and I go back into my daily life and I’m like, ‘Pretty clear, I almost just lost my life, and I don’t know if I really feel if I would have died that I would have felt great about how my life was going if I died at that time.'”
  • Waller struggled with addiction issues early in his career.ย After being selected by the Ravens in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Waller missed more games than he played in with Baltimore. Not only was the tight end suspended for four games in 2016, but he was alsoย suspended for the entire 2017 season due to substance abuse issues. Waller is now very open about his issues and talks about them often in an effort to help others.ย 
  • He revived his career with the Raiders.ย Although things didn’t work out in Baltimore, Waller’s NFL career took off after he signed with the Raiders. During his first full season with the Raiders, Waller caught 90 passes for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. He then followed that up with a Pro Bowl season in 2020 where he caught 107 passes for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns. His receptions total in 2020 led all tight ends in the NFL.ย 

Waller will finish his career with 350 catches for 4,124 yards and 20 touchdowns over nine seasons that came with the Ravens (2015-18), Raiders (2018-22) and Giants (2023). You canย read our full story on Waller’s retirement here.ย 

3. Mandatory Minicamp: One thing to watch for the 22 teams conducting camp this week

It’s going to be a busy week in the NFL and that’s because we have 22 teams holding their mandatory minicamp, including three teams that will be kicking things off today (Falcons, Jaguars, Rams).ย 

Keeping tabs on 22 teams isn’t easy, but Cody Benjamin managed to do that for us today. With the 22 minicamps kicking off this week, Cody went through and looked at one big storyline for each of the 22 teams that will be on the field.ย 

Let’s take a look at a few of the storylines that Benjmain is monitoring:ย 

  • Panthers: Bryce Young’s development.ย “It’s hard to fully separate the quarterback’s growth (or lack thereof) from the remade receiving corps, now featuring Diontae Johnson and rookie Xavier Legette. But nothing’s more important than Young taking strides under new coach Dave Canales.”
  • Bengals: Joe Burrow’s availability.ย “The star quarterback was a surprise absentee during OTAs, resting while returning from the wrist injury that sidelined him for much of 2023. Coach Zac Taylor downplayed the issue, but Burrow’s rehab is paramount to this team’s success.”ย 
  • Steelers: The Russell Wilson-Justin Fields competition.ย “Fields has been adamant he’s in the mix for the QB1 job, but Wilson is the savvier, more experienced option for a team seemingly wanting to contend now. How will the first-team reps be divvied up in Steel City now?”
  • Packers:ย The development of the ‘non-No. 1’ wide receivers.ย “Jordan Loveย made headlinesย by declaring Green Bay’s lack of a “true No. 1″ actually benefits the offense. Let’s see how the crop of Christian Watson, Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs and Dontayvion Wicks actually shakes out on the depth chart.”

If you want to see the storylines from the 18 other teams that will be kicking off minicamp this week, be sure to click here.ย 

4. One burning question for every team in the NFC North

After getting through half of the NFL last week, we are back with more burning questions this week. If you weren’t with us last week, we’ve been going around the NFL to take a look at the biggest question that each team needs to answer before the start of the 2024 season. We’ve been going through each team by division, and today, we’ll be looking at the NFC North.ย 

Here’s one burning question that Cody Benjamin has come up with for each team:

  • Bears: Can Caleb Williams have an immediate impact?ย “What can we expect from Williams with weapons like D.J. Moore, Rome Odunze, Keenan Allen and D’Andre Swift at his disposal? It depends how quickly the USC product adapts to NFL speed. Will his freestyling mirror the roller-coaster ride of, say, Josh Allen? Will he restrain himself for the benefit of Matt Eberflus’ defense? The spectrum of debut possibilities is broad.”
  • Lions: Did they do enough to maintain momentum?ย “There’s also little doubt that Dan Campbell and Ben Johnson will keep their pedal on the gas as aggressive decision-makers. Under the surface, though, the Lions are still banking on young breakouts at key spots like wide receiver and edge rusher, where St. Brown and Aidan Hutchinson do a lot of heavy lifting. And they’ll need the O-line to stay healthy to keep Goff comfortable for another deep playoff push.”
  • Packers: Can Jordan Love build off his promising debut?ย “A beefed-up ground game featuring Josh Jacobs and MarShawn Lloyd should help, as should a defense aided by a new patroller in Xavier McKinney. But their ceiling as a team will depend primarily on Love’s next step: With contract questions swirling in the background, can he rein in his inner Brett Favre to make smart reads with such a gifted arm? If so, this club is primed to be a weekly pest in and outside of the NFC North.”
  • Vikings: What will happen at quarterback?ย “When Kevin O’Connell and Co. weigh Sam Darnold versus first-round pick J.J. McCarthy at QB, will they prefer patient long-term development or instant results? Maybe they can have both. McCarthy is the future, but with a skill group featuring Aaron Jones, Justin Jefferson and other elite talent, the time to make another playoff push could be now.”

To read Cody’s full answer for each question,ย be sure to click here.ย 

5. Ranking the top five things we have to look forward to in the preseason


The NFL released the entire preseason schedule on Friday, and although I thought it might be fun to break down all 49 games, you would probably unsubscribe to this newsletter before you got even halfway through, so we’re going a different route today: Tyler Sullivan decided to rank the top five reasons why we should be excited for the preseason this year.ย 

Let’s check out his top three:ย 

1. First look at the new kickoff rule. “The new kickoff rule is going to be a drastic change for both teams and fans, so seeing it play out during the preseason will be fascinating to watch unfold, from how teams will deploy their returners to whether or not it makes for a more exciting play.”

2. Watching rookie quarterbacks trying to win a starting job. “We already know that Caleb Williams is set to start out of the gate for the Chicago Bears, but it’ll be interesting to see whether or not Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy will be able to claw their way atop the depth chart during the summer. Of course, it’s only a matter of time until they all take the reins as the starter, but a strong preseason could have each of them land that job sooner rather than later.”

3. Michael Penix Jr. vs. Kirk Cousins. “This sort of falls in line with what we were talking about above, but the situation in Atlanta deserves its own category. … While Cousins is looked at as the clear-cut starter at the moment, he is 35 years old and coming off a season-ending Achilles tear. What if he struggles to get back into the swing of things? What if Penix looks awesome in training camp and that transfers in the preseason? That would certainly create one heck of a quarterback controversy.”

You can check out Tyler’s full ranking here. ย 

6. Extra points: UFL Championship game set

It’s been a busy weekend in the NFL, and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.

  • Birmingham will play San Antonio in UFL title game. When the XFL merged with the USFL, that formed the UFL and the new league is about to complete its first season. The San Antonio Brahmas punched their ticket to the championship game by beating the St. Louis Battlehawks, 25-15, on Sunday. As for Birmingham, the Stallions fought back from an 18-3 deficit to beat the Michigan Panthers 31-18 on Saturday. The Brahmas are led by head coach Wade Phillips, who is a former NFL head coach. As for the Stallions, they’re going for their third straight championship after winning the USFL title in each of the past two seasons.ย The UFL’s first-ever championship game will be taking place on June 16 at 5 p.m. ET on Fox.ย 
  • Rashee Rice breaks his silence.ย The troubled Chiefs receiver, who has been dealing with some serious legal issues this offseason, spoke publicly for the first time since being criminally charged. “I’ve learned so much from [the car crash],”ย Rice said Saturdayย at a Kansas City youth camp. “All I can do is mature and continue to grow from that. This is a step in a better direction for me.” You can read Rice’s full comments here.ย 
  • Lions punished for violating OTA rules.ย The Lions were supposed to be holding an OTA session today, but that won’t be happening. During one of their OTA practices this year, the Lions had too much physical contact between players, which violated NFL rules. Due to the violation, the Lions were docked a practice, which is why they aren’t allowed to practice today even though they were originally scheduled to have an OTA.
  • Bears expected to re-sign Marcedes Lewis. The 40-year-old tight end is expected to return to Chicago for another season. Lewis has been in the NFL since 2006 when the Jaguars made him a first-round pick. He’s now going into his 19th season, and when he takes the field, he’ll be the second-oldest player in the NFL, behind only Aaron Rodgers. During his 2023 season with the Bears, Lewis became the second-oldest player in NFL history to catch a TD pass. You can read more about his potential signing here.ย 
  • Veteran corner is retiring.ย After nine NFL seasons, Steven Nelson has decided to call it a career. The cornerback was originally drafted by the Chiefs in the third round back in 2015. After four seasons in Kansas City, he later played for the Steelers (2019-20), Eagles (2021) and Texans (2022-23). Nelson made 16 starts last season for Houston and he likely could have very easily found a landing spot for 2024, but instead, the 31-year-old wants to focus on his family. “I think it’s time for me to take a step back and spend more time with my family,” Nelson told “We’re expecting a newborn this coming month and I wanted to devote all of my time and energy to that.” Nelson’s career will certainly be ending on a high note: He had an 82-yard pick six during Houston’s 45-14 wild-card playoff win over the Browns in January.ย 

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Author: John Breech
June 10, 2024 | 1:25 pm

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