NFL Notebook: Broncos are zeroing in on Aaron Rodgers

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

Dan Halverson

February 9th, 2022

Super Bowl LVI is fast approaching, but the impending matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals isn't the only topic of conversation around the league. Let’s examine some of the other top stories in the latest edition of our NFL Notebook.

Is Kyler Murray readying for a new contract?

Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback Kyler Murray was the league MVP through the first half of the 2021 regular season thanks to his spectacular play and impressive wins. The former first overall pick in 2019 out of Oklahoma, Murray routinely demonstrated the elite athleticism that made him a two-sport star, and he had the Cardinals positioned for a postseason run before the wheels off late in the season.

Since falling to the Rams during Super Wild Card Weekend, Murray has taken to the Internet to create his next bit of excitement. Murray has removed all but two pictures from his Instagram account; one from 2018 when he was at Oklahoma, and another from this past weekend at the Pro Bowl. He also unfollowed the Arizona Cardinals team account.

Murray’s activity indicates that he is either preparing to leave the Cardinals or has intentions of re-negotiating his existing rookie contract in order to earn significantly more than he is currently paid. That's something Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen also did to secure a new six-year deal for $258 million.

Murray is set to make approximately $5.5 million on his existing contract, but given his success as Rookie of the Year and a two-time Pro Bowler, it makes perfect sense he would like a significant raise. Whether Murray seeks that money from the Cardinals or another franchise is still to be determined.

Saints name Dennis Allen new head coach

The New Orleans Saints clearly value continuity as they have promoted former Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen to the head coach position vacated by Sean Payton.

Allen led a Saints defense that has been stingy for several years, coming in third in yards allowed per play in 2020 and fifth in 2021. The Saints were first in the league in 2021 in yards allowed per rush, and were the only team in the last 15 years to shut out Tom Brady, when Allen took over as interim coach for Payton due to COVID-19 protocols.

The team presumably has great trust in Allen as a proven leader for the franchise, and the big question mark entering this offseason will be who Allen goes with at offensive coordinator and quarterback.

NFL hands out Player of the Year Awards on Thursday

The NFL is set to announce its seasonal awards this week in a ceremony this Thursday evening from Los Angeles. There are seven awards to be given out, decided-upon by a group of analysts such as Brian Baldinger, Gil Brandt, and Kurt Warner.

The most notable award is MVP, which is expected to go to Aaron Rodgers. Ja’Marr Chase is the presumed Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Micah Parsons the presumed Defensive Rookie of the Year. TJ Watt is likely to win Defensive Player of the Year after his outrageous number of sacks.

Aaron Rodgers Watch

Now that former Packers offensive coordinator Nathanial Hackett is settled in Denver, be prepared for the Aaron Rodgers offseason watch to begin. In fleeting but occasionally posted prop markets, the Broncos have been as low as +250 to be Rodgers’ team to kickoff the 2022 season.

Rodgers’ frustration with the Packers have been well-publicized, and despite many wondering if he would even play in 2021 he ended up putting together an MVP-caliber season, proving he was still more than capable of being an elite difference-maker in today’s NFL.

The Packers will surely seek to retain Rodgers and see him through the end of his contract, but if things break oddly in the April draft or the Broncos make offers with young offensive talents that give the Packers a chance to build toward the next generation, it isn’t hard to imagine a scenario similar to when Peyton Manning and Tom Brady both made late-career moves that resulted in championships.

The Broncos have lots of young offensive talent and a coordinator that Rodgers trusts. Stay tuned.

The buzz is building on Malik Willis

The NFL Combine will surely separate many of this year’s collegiate draft prospects in a year with seemingly murkier waters than years past thanks to the irregularities created by transfer portals and COVID-19.

All that said, former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis might be climbing up draft boards already. At this past week’s Senior Bowl, Willis clocked a throw with an air speed of 75.7 mph, the highest number ever recorded at that event which includes Josh Allen tossing a ball at 66.1 mph.

Allen’s arm strength has been plainly visible since his time at Wyoming, so for Willis to blow that out of the water is a testament to his potential. If Willis performs well at the Combine he may very well be the first quarterback to come off the board.