PHOENIX — NFL owners use their annual meeting to discuss big-picture issues like franchise relocation and rules changes.
The media uses it to schmooze with head coaches and team officials.
After four days in Phoenix, here are some opinions I’ve formed with quotes via my SiriusXM NFL Radio shows.
Will Roberto Aguayomake Buccaneers' roster?
Despite being a 2016 second-round draft pick, Tampa Bay’s Roberto Aguayo is a bigger underdog to make the final roster than recent free-agent signing Nick Folk.
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht was initially criticized for using such a high pick on a kicker —and understandably so. Licht was panned even more during Aguayo’s erratic rookie campaign in which he connected on only 71 percent of his field-goal attempts along with two missed extra points.
A general manager who is too stubborn to admit a mistake —and the NFL has plenty —would force his coaches to stick with Aguayo. The signing of a far more proven commodity like Folk shows there are no guarantees the 59th player chosen overall last year will be back.
"Last year, he didn’t have competition,"Licht said. "We drafted him very high. He came in and he was the guy. Now, he does have competition. We’ll see how he reacts to that."
So what went wrong?
"He was 21 years old playing in a big man’s game now with a lot of mature adults on a team relying on every other player to feed their families and get their paychecks,"Licht said. "It’s natural for anyone to mature over a course of a year and realize this, 'This is the NFL. I’m not doing this just for fun anymore and to get my tuition paid. This is a career.' "
One that won’t last for long without significant improvement.
Falcons,Dontari Poe both gamble
Atlanta and Dontari Poe are both taking a gamble with his arrival in free agency.
Falconscoach Dan Quinn is convinced Poe can become more than a run-stuffing force like he was in Kansas City the past five seasons. Poe is so confident it will happen that he agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract with the belief he can make more heading toward free agency again after the 2017 season.
“"He was at a crossroads in his career about wanting to have a one-year deal to show teams where he really was skill-wise,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “He’s a very good player with a lot of athleticism for a big, wide-bodied dude. He can push the pocket. He’s got range."
To best take advantage of those tools, Poe must drop weight. The Falcons have included clauses in his contract as incentive to drop from the 355-pound range to around 330.
"He’s not just a cock-sort of nose tackle and shade (the center) guy,"said Dimitroff, referring to Poe’s role in Kansas City. "We feel we can play him in the gap and get up-field … I know Dan has a really good idea how he wants to coach him into being what we’re looking for."
If that happens, Poe should get the lucrative long-term contract that didn’t materialize in 2017. If it doesn’t, the Falcons wasted money, and Poe will probably start getting paid like a part-time role player in a predominantly passing league.
Vikings'Linval Joseph could be dominant
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer already has a goal in mind for defensive tackle Linval Joseph —making him a better pass-rusher.
Joseph earned his first career Pro Bowl berth anchoring Minnesota’s run defense last season. However, Zimmer believes Joseph has the potential to add more dimensions to his game.
"The one thing that’s holding him back from being a truly dominating player —he loves to play the run and the pass-rush is just kind of an afterthought,"Zimmer said. “If he ever gets that in his mind, I think he could be as good as there is."
That light bulb may be starting to flicker. Joseph, who only has 16.5 sacks in his seven NFL seasons, tied a career-high with four in 2016.
Cardinals' plan at QB
Carson Palmer’s successor might not come through the draft, after all.
Arizona hasn’t selected a passer the past two years as Palmer crept into his late 30s. While the Cardinals mightfinally pull the trigger this year —"We’re zeroing in on the time to really look hard at quarterbacks in this year’s draft,"Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said —there is another option that would bring a potential replacement for Palmer to Arizona.
That’s going the veteran route via either trade or free agency like the Cardinals did with Palmer and predecessor Kurt Warner, respectively. Both were declining veterans who enjoyed a career rejuvenation in the desert.
"I think this team especially has proven you don’t necessarily need to draft a quarterback,"Bidwill said. “If you look at how we acquired Carson and Kurt Warner, there are still some quarterbacks out there. If you have a great coaching staff you can find a great quarterback out there, maybe somebody that everybody has looked over and looked past."
The Cardinals can't be blamed for feeling gun shy about drafting a quarterback, especially in what is widely perceived as a weak 2017 class. The last four passers they’ve picked:Logan Thomas (2014), Ryan Lindley (2012), John Skelton (2010) and Matt Leinart (2006).
MORE: SN's latest Mock Draft
Bills committed toTyrod Taylor ... for now
When it came to Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor, first impressions meant a lot for newcoach Sean McDermott.
It initially looked like Taylor was on the outs this offseason because of his contract and abrupt benching by management as last year’s 7-9 season came to a crashing conclusion. Taylor, though, didn’t approach it that way while he recoveredfrom groin surgery.
Offering support for McDermott from the onset helped pave the way for a restructured contract that has Taylor in the fold for at least one more season.
"He impressed me from Day 1,"McDermott said. "After I got the job, he called me on the phone and met me at the facility on my first day. And then I had a front-row seat to watch Tyrod in the rehab process and observe his work ethic.
"You get around him, turn the tape on and the product on the field was outstanding."
Taylor’s passing attempts and yardage the past two seasons were well below average for an NFL starter. Taylor will never be Drew Brees in that regard, but McDermott believes he can grow with the West Coast-style offense being installed by new coordinator Rick Dennison that places emphasis on quarterback mobility.
"It really fits Tyrod getting him on the perimeter with the run game and ball-faking and bootlegs and so forth,"McDermott said. "I believe in that system. I’ve gone against it and know how hard to defend in run and pass game. It's a great asset for us to have a guy of Tyrod’s skill-set under center for us."
MORE: Inside Bills' War Room
Leonte Carroostill has a chance with Dolphins
Don’t label Leonte Carroo a draft bust just yet.
Dolphinscoach Adam Gase will take the blame for the former Rutgers standout catching just three passes during his 2016 rookie season. Such tepid production is especially disappointing since Miami sent compensation that included third- and fourth-round picks to Minnesota to make Carroo the 86th overall selection.
Barring injury, Carroo won’t be anything more than Miami’s fourth wide receiver behind Jarvis Landry, Devante Parker and Kenny Stills in 2017. Gase, though, said his vision of a more defined role for Carroo should lead to increased opportunities for snaps.
"Hopefully we can get Carroo put in a better position than I did last year,"said Gase, who is Miami’s offensive play-caller. "I thought I did a poor job as far as using him to his strengths.
"He was trying to figure everything out. With a rookie, I probably should have eliminated a little more of what he did and specialized him."
Alex Marvez can be heard from 7 p.m. ET to 10 p.m. ET Wednesday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio.