NFL Draft delivers rough time for Daniel Jones, Kirk Cousins, Josh Allen, Niners receivers

DETROIT – It’s hard being an NFL player this time of year. No, really, at a time when the game is about last year’s memories and next year’s hopes, it’s hard to be an NFL veteran watching a front office working the NFL draft as if it was a game of roulette.

Perhaps even Russian roulette.

JC Latham hugs Roger Goodell

(L-R) JC Latham hugs NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected seventh overall by the Tennessee Titans during the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza on April 25, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

After Thursday’s first round in which a record-tying six quarterbacks were selected in the first dozen picks, and the first defensive player wasn’t selected until the Colts took Laiatu Latu with the 15th pick, it was a rough night for veterans throughout the league.


It affected guys on offense and defense.

And for some it will continue Friday night.

Giants: Maye > Jones

Drake Maye poses

Drake Maye poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected third overall by the New England Patriots during the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza on April 25, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

So, who?

Think Daniel Jones for starters. The New York Giants tried really, really hard to replace Jones in this draft.

The Giants will soon author a narrative that they like Jones and have faith in Jones, especially with the addition of LSU wide receiver Malik Nabors in the fold. But the people saying that tried to replace Jones for much of the last few weeks.

The Giants, you should know, did a lot of homework on all the quarterbacks in this draft and came away wanting to add Drake Maye. Maye simply reminded the Giants of a lesser-but-still-impressive Josh Allen.

So the Giants tried to trade up to the No. 3 overall pick to select Maye. 

Giants Worked On A QB Trade

“We had a lot of conversations with a lot of teams,” general manager Joe Schoen said. “I’m not going to get into specifics.”

The specifics are the Patriots, picking third, were all but locked in on Maye once they understood the treasure they would have considered to trade the pick wasn’t going to manifest.

So the Giants couldn’t trade up, picked the dynamic Nabors instead, and now allow no excuses for Jones not playing well because he has a new weapon despite wanting someone else. 

And what do you think the first thing the New York media will say if Jones plays like, well, Jones at some point in 2024? 

The Giants were right to try to replace him with Drake Maye. 

And that would definitely affect the status and standing Jones has in the locker room. It will tell everyone who doesn’t already know that the Giants like their quarterback but haven’t loved him going all the way back to the April draft when they tried to replace him.

The only way this doesn’t happen is if Jones actually starts earning the $160 million contract he signed only last year by playing well.


Kirk Cousins Not Happy

Michael Penix Jr warms up

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. watches during warm ups before national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game between Washington and Michigan Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vasquez)

Jones isn’t the only veteran QB that was looking around during the draft Thursday night and wondering if he’s being replaced.

Kirk Cousins probably felt a bit like that when the Atlanta Falcons were on the clock and called to inform him they were selecting Michael Penix Jr.

The Falcons are saying they made the pick to add insurance to the QB position. A way to secure the future, they say.

Except, from the Cousins perspective, he’s asking how this secures his future?

Cousins is a great person, mostly an understanding person. He understood when the Vikings didn’t give him a contract before last season.

Yeah, he understood so well he left in free agency.

But it says right here he’s going to have trouble understanding this Falcons move. And he’s going to dislike the manner in which the Falcons handled it – with that last minute heads up instead of a complete briefing days or weeks beforehand.

It would not surprise if the Falcons’ relationship with Cousins – still new because he just agreed to his contract on March 11 – is already in a bad place.

I’m not saying the guy is going to request a trade. 

But if the uncomfortable conversation this move merits between the Cousins camp and general manager Terry Fontenot doesn’t go just right, it will mark a breach in trust between player and franchise leadership that won’t be easily repaired.

Josh Allen Watches WR Go To KC

Josh Allen upset

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen answers questions during a news conference after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in an NFL AFC division playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, in Orchard Park, N.Y.  (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Now consider Josh Allen. His standing in Buffalo is not in question. General manager Brandon Beane includes Allen in his talent deliberations (to a degree) and welcomes feedback.

Wonder what Allen’s feedback is now that the Bills, needing a replacement for Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis – last year’s starting receivers and stalwarts on offense – traded away a chance to pick up a replacement.

The Bills, holding the No. 28 pick, dealt the selection to the Chiefs, who used it to select Texas receiver Xavier Worthy.

So Allen, needing a new playmaker on the outside, saw his front office help the Chiefs deliver to Patrick Mahomes a new playmaker on the outside. And it was one who ran a 4.21 in the 40-yard dash at the combine.

The trade dropped the Bills to the No. 32 pick in the first round. Fine, except then they traded that, too.

They dropped back one spot with Carolina, who used the pick to do what? Select a wide receiver.


Beane Trade Down Comes At Price

The Panthers picked South Carolina’s Xavier Legette to help quarterback Bryce Young produce more big plays in his second season. And Allen, needing to produce more big plays next season, is still waiting.

And here’s the kicker: The Bills can say they’ll pluck the top receiver on their board with the No. 33 pick on Friday if they wish. It would be wise to add Ladd McConkey or maybe Adonai Mitchell.

But whomever the Bills add will sign a four-year contract. And because he’s not a first-round pick, the fifth-year option will not be available to the Bills if the player is really good. 

So the Bills basically cost themselves a year of contract control over a receiver Allen may get on Friday. But, meanwhile, Mahomes gets five years with his new guy. 

Finally, we need to look at the San Francisco 49ers receiver corps. Everyone there has to be wondering if they’re going to be on the team by the end of this draft.

Will Deebo Remain A Niner?

Deebo Samuel in the end zone before Super Bowl LVIII

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts in the end zone prior to the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium on February 11, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Michael Owens/Getty Images)

The 49ers selected Florida receiver Ricky Pearsall with their first-round selection. Why would a team that has Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and Jauan Jennings under contract pick a wide receiver in the first round?

Because Aiyuk and Jennings are in the final year of their contracts and either one might be traded. And because Samuel, who signed a three-year deal before the 2022 season, has failed to play to the level he showed in 2021 when he earned that big contract. So Samuel could be traded.

Anybody of note in the Niners’ receiver room might be traded, it seems. It’s because they’re either making a lot of money or are about to make a lot of money.

None of these guys knows which, if any of them, will be packing and moving soon. It’s like a game of roulette the 49ers are playing with their veterans. 

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