NFL

NFL schedule release, Patriots easy road, Kyler Murray and more

This week in the mailbag, Matt Verderame talks about the NFL schedule, whether the New England Patriots have it easy and where will Kyler Murray go?

We’ve got the schedule release! We’ve got the NFL Draft! We’ve got … takes? Eh, we’ve got thoughts on all the above, let’s put it that way.

Let’s get to the questions.

The Seahawks have four consecutive primetime games from Week 10-14, including a BYE in Week 11. I don’t remember a team ever being slated to play under the lights for a month straight without a flex game, but here we are.

The slate isn’t all that bad for the most part, but the middle is a gauntlet. Four out of five contests are away from CenturyLink Field, and three of those come in primetime. However, the ‘Hawks get a nice break with the Cardinals and 49ers at home to end the season.

As for Russell Wilson, that contract will look like a bargain in two years. Just wait until Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz and others get their extensions. Everybody seems to forget that the cap rises significantly each season. With more ways to bring in revenue than ever — think streaming — that trend will continue for some time.

In my opinion, Wilson is a Hall of Fame quarterback. Tough to put a price on that.

Who could argue that the AFC East hasn’t been a complete and total dumpster fire over the past 20 years? New England has no reason to apologize for the easy division titles and clear sailing to home-field advantage, but saying the lack of competition within the East didn’t help is delusional.

Here are a few stats for you…

  • Since realignment in 2002, the Bills, Dolphins and Jets have combined for eight playoff appearances and seven seasons of double-digit wins.
  • In total, the AFC East has accounted for only six wild card spots of a possible 34.

In short, Buffalo, New York and Miami have stunk up the joint something fierce.

All that said, the Patriots aren’t playing tomato cans in the playoffs, and they’ve won six Super Bowls since 2001. The AFC East has been awful, but the Patriots are the greatest dynasty we’ve ever seen.

The Chiefs underwent a ton of turnover this offseason on the defensive side, and for good reason. When you rank 31st and rarely get stops against upper-echelon quarterbacks, you better employ wholesale changes.

Kansas City released Eric Berry and Justin Houston. It traded Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick. The Chiefs signed defensive end Alex Okafor, corner Bashaud Breeland and safety Tyrann Mathieu. They also traded away safety Eric Murray for edge rusher Emmanuel Ogbah.

However, they did something else that is the biggest difference-maker. They fired Bob Sutton.

Sutton was a mess in his latter years with the team. Early in his tenure, Kansas City had tremendous defensive talent, covering up for a simplistic scheme that is often Cover 2 Man Under. When that talent got old, Sutton was exposed in a major way.

None of this is to suggest that new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is going to field an elite unit in 2019. He won’t. The pass rush won’t be as good, the scheme change to a 4-3 from a 3-4 will take time to process, and a heavy influx of new players means needing months to gel.

Still, this unit almost has to be improved by simple probability. The Chiefs have a better secondary, a full cache of draft capital and a much more aggressive, decorated coordinator. Put me down for 20th in overall defense.

I’ll say 90 percent, but not in the way you’re thinking.

Look, there’s always an insane amount of smoke this time of year, and nobody truly knows anything. Last year, we all believed that Sam Darnold was going to the Browns 48 hours prior to them going on the clock. Then, suddenly, it was Baker Mayfield.

Ultimately, the Cardinals are in control. They can take Kyler Murray and deal Josh Rosen. They can keep Rosen and select Nick Bosa. They can trade out of the pick and acquire a bounty of selections to rebuild their broken roster.

What makes the most sense? The third option. All day, every day.

It’s no secret that the Oakland Raiders love Murray. One of the worst-kept secrets in Indianapolis during the Scouting Combine was Head Coach Jon Gruden’s affinity for the youngster. Oakland also has three first-round picks. If the Raiders were willing to swap No.4 and include Nos. 24 and 35 for the No. 1 overall choice, Arizona would have to do that. On the value chart, Arizona is giving up 3,000 points and getting 2,990. That’s as close as you’re ever getting to an even swap.

If Oakland feels that strongly that Murray is the guy, that’s an acceptable price to pay. If Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock value their draft picks more than Murray, the Cardinals likely stay put and take him.

Either way, it’s very probable he’s going first.

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