There's a lot that goes into an NFL offseason for a general manager — free agency, the draft, trades... hell, this season, managing your staff amidst a deadly virus! Along those lines, there are a lot of ways to measure the offseason that a general manager just had. Subjective report cards abound, that's one way. Fan reaction in the form of ticket sales is one very pertinent way. (Worth noting, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tickets were flying off the figurative shelves the day after Tom Brady signed there. Conversely, after years and years, I got an email this morning saying I made it to the top of the Texans' season ticket wait list! True story!)
One way I like to see which way the wind is blowing on these GMs is to look at the odds board for various things. Season wins and playoff odds are the most direct measure of the trajectory of a team, but you can read some things in the MVP tea leaves, as well. So, with that said, here are the 2020 NFL MVP odds from Caesar's sports book in Vegas....
NFL MVP Odds from Caesars ????— PropSwap (@PropSwap) May 11, 2020
Reminder: Lamar Jackson was 200/1 before last season ???? pic.twitter.com/c8zwof4Yc5
OK, some thoughts here...
These odds are a referendum on Bill O'Brien's offseason
If someone had told you at the end of the 2019 postseason that Kyler Murray would be 16/1 to win the MVP in 2020, that would have certainly raised some eyebrows. (Tied with Tom Brady of TAMPA BAY, no less!) Add onto that Deshaun Watson's being 28/1 to win the MVP, a few notches down from Murray, and you'd have asked "What the hell year is it that we are talking about here?" But the dynamic in place for both of those quarterbacks is completely tied to Bill O'Brien's shipping DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for a ham sandwich. The Cardinals' stock, and thus Murray's, is up. The Texans' stock, and thus Watson's is down.
Still, GOD BLESS THE AFC SOUTH!
The good news for Texans fans, as forecasts from Vegas of 7.5 wins for the Texans continue to roll in (YUCK!), is that they are not in a division where one of their divisional foes is going to win away and hide this season. The Chiefs should cake walk through the AFC West. The Ravens were 14-2 last season, and have actually improved their roster. The Texans? They have the Colts, Titans, and Jaguars, two of whom are in the same neighborhood as the Texans, and one (the Jags) who are possibly tanking the season. While 28/1 for Watson feels like odds that don't match his talent level, the other three QB's in the AFC South are Philip Rivers (50/1), Ryan Tannehill (75/1), and Gardner Minshew (300/1).
There are two other non-Watson Texans on this list
In case you don't have time to go through the whole list, Watson is joined on here by teammates David Johnson (225/1) and J.J. Watt (150/1), both of whom have flirted with MVP honors before, Watt as the runner-up to Aaron Rodgers in 2014, and Johnson in 2016 when he piled up over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. In case you're wondering, DeAndre Hopkins? He's 100/1 to win the MVP.
Who is 2020's Mahomes/Jackson long shot special?
This is a great question. Most folks son't realize that the last two MVPs — Patrick Mahomes in 2018, Lamar Jackson in 2019 — were 80/1 and 200/1, respectively, to win the MVP. Hell, if Carson Wentz hadn't gotten injured in 2017, he would have been another long shot to take home the trophy. So who are the players on this year's board that fit the profile of Mahomes or Jackson? To me, the closest one is Josh Allen. Mahomes and Jackson were long shots on teams that already had some good things going for them on the roster. Allen is in his third season for a 2019 playoff team, and they now have Tom Brady OUT of the division. If the Bills can go 11-5 or 12-4, and Allen takes the next step as a quarterback, 60/1 feels like good value there. For what it's worth, the best value on the board, to me, is Ben Roethlisberger at 60/1. If he is healthy and in shape (HUGE IF), the Steelers will compete with the Ravens in the AFC North, and he will throw for 5,000 yards.
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