“I stress: We are innocent till proven guilty in this country. But in what other business, in what other line of work, would a person with such serious accusations against him be handed a guaranteed $230 million to lead the jewel of the community, a prized and beloved public trust like the Cleveland Browns?” – King on the Browns’ trade for QB Deshaun Watson
“He wanted to play in the west, and his first choice was to be able to play with his college quarterback from Fresno State, Derek Carr. Adams gets the money, and he gets the happiness.” – King on Davante Adams’ trade to the Raiders
“I think Rodgers is year-to-year at this point. I saw the money he signed for. If he’s not enjoying the game or his place in it in 11 months, I could see him walking away.” – King on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
STAMFORD, Conn. – March 21, 2022 – Peter King discusses the Browns trading for Deshaun Watson and how the Raiders’ trade for Davante Adams unfolded in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also recaps the first week of NFL free agency, including five signings he likes, and more.
For more NFL coverage, Peacock offers daily programming on the NBC Sports channel for free, including Pro Football Talk at 7 a.m. ET every weekday, Chris Simms Unbuttoned, The Peter King Podcast, The Rich Eisen Show, Brother from Another, and The Dan Patrick Show. To learn more about the NBC Sports on Peacock channel and how to sign up, click here.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
King on the Browns’ trade for QB Deshaun Watson: “I am not going to write about the difference Deshaun Watson makes in the Cleveland Browns as a football team. There will be time for that – five years. Five obscenely expensive years, in which the Browns will pay a question mark $2.7 million per game to play football…I am going to write about the Browns selling their souls for a football player who has 22 open accusations of sexual assault or sexual harassment against him.”
King on Watson: “I don’t think any team should go into business with a player – though cleared of criminal charges – who has 22 women accusing him of indecent acts. Thirty-one teams should have risen up and said, ‘We might be interested in this great football player, but only after we know the full scope of what we’re dealing (with).’ The fact is, they don’t know.”
King: “I stress: We are innocent till proven guilty in this country. But in what other business, in what other line of work, would a person with such serious accusations against him be handed a guaranteed $230 million to lead the jewel of the community, a prized and beloved public trust like the Cleveland Browns?”
King on Watson’s contract: “What is also reprehensible is the fact that Watson’s signing bonus is a reported $45 million, while his first-year salary is a relatively puny $1.035 million, which becomes significant if he gets suspended, as is widely expected. The suspension and resulting fine would come out of his salary only. Say the NFL bans him for six games. The fine would be $345,000, which is seven-tenths of 1 percent of his 2022 compensation.”
King on the Browns: “Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam signed off on it all, obviously, and will have to live with the consequences. Those consequences might be a Super Bowl, or two, in the next five years. That’s why they’re going out on such a risky limb, of course.”
King on the Browns statements following the trade: “Usually after you make a trade for the quarterback you believe will make you a contender for the next 10 years, you have a press conference trumpeting the event. The Browns waited till Sunday to issue three statements – one each from the Haslams, from GM Andrew Berry and from coach Kevin Stefanski…But words and statements don’t matter now. The action of signing a player with so much hanging over him, that’s what matters.”
King on the NFL: “The NFL will be in-person for its annual league meetings starting next Sunday, the first time every significant league figure will be together since the last non-virtual meetings in 2019. Roger Goodell needs to show he’s more than a business leader who makes 32 owners richer by the day. Goodell needs to show he’s a moral leader as well. I don’t know how he can look at the last few days in the NFL, with four teams vying for Watson’s services and the winner looking so craven and embarrassing in the process, and not feel shame about the direction of the league.”
King on NFL free agency: “Free agency and the start of trading in a new league year is always a fun and rejuvenating time. This year, I feel like I just drank a quart of sour milk. The bad taste will take a while to go away.”
King: “Late in the free-agency prep process, about 12 days ago, Raiders coach Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler looked at Davante Adams’ tape independently. When McDaniels and Ziegler met to discuss what they’d seen, they agreed he was an incredible prize…A premier talent.”
King on the Raiders’ initial interest in Adams: “Ziegler didn’t know what to expect but called Packers GM Brian Gutekunst last Sunday, eight days ago. Over the next three days, they talked six or seven times. Late in the process, it became clear it would take a first-round pick and a second-rounder to pry Adams away. While Ziegler was willing to give Vegas’ first in 2022 and second in ’23, he didn’t want to denude his draft this year by giving both picks in 2022.”
King: “It became clear by Wednesday afternoon that Gutekunst was firm. The deal for Adams wasn’t getting done unless the Raiders traded both the first- and second-rounder in this year’s draft. That would give the Packers enough ammo to replenish the receiver group minus Adams in this year’s draft – four picks in the top 60 of a draft chock-full of wideouts. But it would rob the Raiders of any picks in the 2022 draft till 86th overall. Ziegler didn’t want to be shut out of his first draft as a GM through 85 picks.”
King on the Raiders’ decision: “The next morning, McDaniels and Ziegler met in the room they were using as the sort of free-agency command center at the Raiders’ facility in Henderson, Nev. The meeting lasted four hours…Around Noon PT, Ziegler and McDaniels agreed Adams was worth the one and the two this year. That’s how much they wanted Adams to be reunited with his good friend and former Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr.”
King on Adams’ contract with the Raiders: “Now they had to be concerned with getting a new contract done; Adams wasn’t playing on a one-year deal. Gutekunst gave them permission to talk with the agent for Adams, Frank Bauer. In the next couple of hours, the Raiders got a deal done that satisfied Adams – five years, average yearly compensation of $28 million, best for any wideout in the league – and one that satisfied the Raiders.”
King on Adams: “(The deal) gives Adams the happiness he wanted: He wanted to play in the west, and his first choice was to be able to play with his college quarterback from Fresno State, Derek Carr. Adams gets the money, and he gets the happiness.”
King on the Packers: “The Packers, well, realized it was probably unwise to get in a possible holdout war with Adams, and now have the ammo to replace him with a veteran in trade or a couple of draft picks from a loaded wideout pool in the April draft.”
King on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: “I don’t think Aaron Rodgers is particularly surprised about Adams leaving, nor do I think he’s really angry about it. He’s known for some time that Adams’ heart was out west…I think Rodgers is year-to-year at this point. I saw the money he signed for. If he’s not enjoying the game or his place in it in 11 months, I could see him walking away.”
NFL FREE AGENCY
King on the AFC West: “AFC West: Best division in the last 20 years. Every team in the division got better, three of them markedly…Hard to predict every team in the division will be over .500 because of the six division games, but I’m predicting it.”
King on WR JuJu Smith-Schuster signing with the Chiefs: “Smith-Schuster is 25, he’ll have two huge weapons (Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce) to draw attention from him, he’ll benefit from the play never being over with Patrick Mahomes and he’ll benefit from a coach who knows how to get his best players the ball.”
King on five free agency contracts he liked: “1) Russell Gage, WR, Tampa Bay. He’s 26, signed for three years and $30 million, and gives the Bucs a strong third receiver.
2) Ted Karras, C, Cincinnati. For three years and $18 million, the Bengals upgrade a crucial spot – and Joe Burrow will love the smart and feisty Karras.
3) Allen Robinson, WR, Rams. A tad pricy (three years, $46.5 million) but I love this stat from PFF: Robinson’s a top-10 NFL receiver since 2018 in catching inaccurate throws (72). Imagine what he’ll do with the accurate Matthew Stafford.
4) Rasul Douglas, CB, Green Bay. More than they wanted to pay, but a top-five defensive player on the Packers (as of 2021 season’s end) is well worth three years and $21 million.
5) Myles Jack, LB, Pittsburgh. This is the kind of player, with coach from Brian Flores and the faith of Mike Tomlin, who EASILY could be a Pro Bowl player in 2022. This is a great defense for a playmaking linebacker like Jack.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on late NFL reporter John Clayton: “Clayton died Friday afternoon at 67 in Bellevue, Wash., after a brief illness. Just a week earlier, he’d been reporting in print and on the radio in Seattle about the impact of Russell Wilson’s departure. Very few people knew he was ill…Lots of us in the football media business really like our jobs. It’s not work, doing what you love. But John Clayton lived to do his job. He had no hours on, no hours off. He woke up thinking about football and went to sleep thinking about football.”
King on the Texans’ draft picks: “Houston now has multiple first-rounders in the next three drafts. The Texans get first- and third-round picks from Cleveland in 2023, and first- and fourth-round picks in 2024. Don’t complain, Texans fans: Houston has five of the top 80 picks this year, and it’s better to spread these picks out, particularly if a quarterback is a target next year.”
King on the Packers’ wide receiver options in the 2022 NFL Draft: “I asked Daniel Jeremiah to pick two receivers to give Green Bay – one in the 22-28 area, and one in the 53-59 area. ‘Chris Olave for the first one,’ he said. ‘Incredibly smart, disciplined route-runner, 4.3 speed, the kind of receiver Aaron Rodgers would love.’ For the second, Jeremiah chose North Dakota State’s 6-4 burner, Christian Watson. Smart and physical, with 4.36 speed. Practiced in Fargo for five years, so the weather wouldn’t be an issue.”
King on QB Matthew Stafford’s extension with the Rams: “I think it’s only right that Matthew Stafford signs a four-year extension with the Rams (which happened Saturday) and finishes his career with the Rams. The end of this deal, most likely, would give Stafford 18 NFL seasons. If he wraps up with 12 seasons in Detroit and six in L.A. (should he stay healthy), that feels like it’d go down as a highly successful trade by the Rams.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Mike Golic (Mondays) and Florio and Chris Simms (Tuesday-Thursday) streams on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays & is available on-demand. The Dan Patrick Show streams at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continues the NFL discussion and Bet The Edge Podcast provides daily betting insights.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.