I don't want to jinx anything, but I think the Aaron Rodgers drama is finally over. Sure, it will probably start up again after the season and we'll have to deal with nonstop trade speculation for most of the 2022 offseason, but for now, it's over.
Rodgers actually showed up in Green Bay this morning. There's a video of him walking into the Packers' practice facility and although Rodgers is certainly rich enough to hire a body double, I'm 99% sure it was actually him.
Now that Rodgers is in camp, we can start focusing on quarterbacks who are NOT in camp, like Zach Wilson and Trey Lance. The two rookie quarterbacks are the only two first-round picks who have yet to sign a contract, which is why they're not in camp yet. Rookie deals are usually easy to negotiate, but since nothing is easy for the Jets, I'm not surprised the Wilson deal isn't done.
As for what we have on tap today, since all 32 teams are finally in training camp, we'll be looking at some under-the-rader camp battles in the NFC plus we'll have more Rodgers news and more Deshaun Watson news. To be honest, it's probably going to feel like I copy-and-pasted yesterday's newsletter.
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1. Today's show: Aaron Rodgers emergency podcast
The original plan for Tuesday's episode of the Pick Six Podcast was to talk about training camp, but that all got thrown out the window after Aaron Rodgers decided he was going to show up to training camp today. Due to that fact, today's episode turned into an Aaron Rodgers emergency podcast where Will Brinson and Jonathan Jones spent the entire episode talking about Aaron Rodgers.
Basically, if you are Aaron Rodgers'd out, you might want to take a pass, but if you find that you can't get enough Aaron Rodgers news, then you should definitely listen.
The big winner in all of this Rodgers drama is the Packers and that's because their star quarterback finally returned to Green Bay. As for Rodgers, he might not be the loser here, but he's definitely not the winner.
"This does not seem like the big win that Aaron Rodgers wanted it to be," Jones said of the situation. "He wanted out of Green Bay. He may still want out of Green Bay, but he has come to grips with his reality."
Jones and Brinson spent some time talking about the concessions that the Packers reportedly made to Rodgers:
- They're going to void the final year of his contract (2023).
- They'll review the situation after the 2021 season with a trade likely.
Jones also explained how RANDALL COBB plays into all of this. Apparently, one of Rodgers' stipulations for returning was that the Packers had to make a trade for Cobb (as Trey Wingo first reported), who now plays for the Texans. Interestingly enough, it appears the ball has already started rolling on that to happen. The Texans made a trade for Bears receiver Anthony Miller over the weekend and it seems Houston made that trade so that the team would have a replacement for Cobb.
Jones also noted that even though Rodgers is at training camp, he could hold a sit-in if the Packers don't comply with his wishes, AKA if they don't acquire Cobb or don't update his contract the way he wants it updated. Basically, the drama might not be completely over in Green Bay just yet.
To listen to today's episode -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. Deshaun Watson facing 10 criminal complaints
Deshaun Watson isn't just facing multiple lawsuits this offseason, he's also facing multiple criminal complaints, according to his lawyer Rusty Hardin, who divulged that information during a recent conversation with ESPN.
Not only is Watson facing 22 separate civil lawsuits that all allege sexual misconduct and/or assault, but police in Houston are also investigating a total of 10 criminal complaints. According to Hardin, eight of the criminal complaints were filed by women involved in the lawsuits. As for the other two, those were filed by women who are not involved in the lawsuits.
So where does that leave us?
- Hardin says this news won't have any impact on a potential trade. "Teams are ready to jump now if the Texans would trade with them, even while all this is pending," Hardin said. "There's no question that teams, numerous teams, are still interested. The ball is in the Texans' court."
- Why Hardin might be wrong. The Texans are reportedly hoping to get at least three first-round picks for Watson and it's highly unlikely a team is going to give that up for the quarterback now that they know he has 10 criminal complaints filed against him. Basically, this news could make Watson harder to trade unless the Texans are willing to lower their asking price.
- Texans have had preliminary trade talks. The Texans made it clear this week that they're open to trading Watson and in the 24 hours since then, they've already had preliminary trade talks. However, they still haven't received any serious offers, according to ESPN.com. The Eagles, Dolphins and Broncos continue to be the most likely trade destinations.
- Wednesday is the day to watch. The Texans first day of practice is on Wednesday and it will be interesting to see what they do with Watson. In an ideal world, they'd probably love to have him traded by then, but since that's looking more unlikely, the question becomes whether he'll practice. If the Texans are dead set on trading Watson, it doesn't make much sense for him to practice, because that would put him at risk of getting injured.
No matter what happens, other teams will likely want to get a better grip on his legal situation before making a big offer to get him. That being said, the Texans seemed determined to get rid of Watson, which is why it seems likely we'll see a trade go down before the start of the season and possibly before the end of the week if the Texans can find a suitor.
3. Michael Thomas could miss nearly 30% of the 2021 season
If I were in the Saints QB competition, I might think about purposely losing the job and that's because the new quarterback isn't really going to have anyone to throw to this year now that Michael Thomas is likely going to miss a good portion of the season.
The Saints star receiver was placed on the preseason physically unable to perform list on Monday due to the fact that he's still recovering from ankle surgery that he had in June. According to NFL.com, the bigger problem for the Saints is that Thomas could start the REGULAR season on the PUP list and if that happens, that means he wouldn't be eligible to return until Week 7 at the earliest.
Here's what the Saints' early-season schedule looks like:
Week 1: vs. Packers
Week 2: at Panthers
Week 3: at Patriots
Week 4: vs. Giants
Week 5: at Washington
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Seahawks (Thomas would be eligible to play)
To take some of the sting off of a losing Thomas, the Saints signed former Patriots receiver Chris Hogan on Monday, but it's unlikely that Hogan is going to come remotely close to making up for the lost production from Thomas.
The biggest question here is why did Thomas wait until June to get surgery? That answer isn't completely clear, but whatever the answer is, it's probably not one that's going to sit well with Sean Payton. The Saints coach knows how talented Thomas is, but that doesn't mean he's going to put up with this drama forever. Thomas and the Saints haven't been on the same page for a while now. Thomas' contract runs through the 2024 season and I'll be shocked if he comes anywhere close to lasting that long in New Orleans.
4. Under-the-radar training camp battles in the NFC
By the end of the day today, all 32 teams in the NFL will have reported for training camp, which makes right now the best time to go over all the best under-the-radar camp battles that will be going on around the NFL over the next few weeks.
Our Jonathan Jones looked at one battle from each team in the NFL, and today, we're going to focus on the NFC.
Here are four of the top under-the-radar battles, according to Jones:
- Washington: Cam Sims vs. Dyami Brown at the third WR spot. "Terry McLaurin finally got some help this offseason when WFT brought in Curtis Samuel as a free agent. The top two receiver spots are set in Washington for the first time in a while, which makes the battle for No. 3 even more interesting."
- San Francisco: Daniel Brunskill vs Aaron Banks at right guard. "The Niners offensive line is set at four of five positions, but not at right guard. Brunskill filled in admirably at center last season after a rash of injuries at the position, but the former AAF lineman figures to start camp as RG1. San Francisco drafted Banks in the second round out of Notre Dame, where he didn't give up a single sack for the Irish in 2020."
- New Orleans: Blake Gillikin vs. Nolan Cooney in a punter battle. "Bust out your stopwatches and get ready for a punter competition. The Saints have an opening at the position because they released Thomas Morstead after a dozen years of service. Gillikin is a 2020 UDFA out of Penn State where he averaged 42.2 yards per punt in his final year with the Nittany Lions. Cooney is a 2021 UDFA from Syracuse where he averaged 44.8 yards per punt in his final year."
- Atlanta: Matt Hennessy vs. Drew Dalman at starting center. "Alex Mack manned the center position in Atlanta at an elite level for five years, and his presence will be missed by no one more than Matt Ryan. As the Falcons continue to figure out what they're going to be in 2021, they've got to settle who takes over Mack's spot."
Jones went over all 16 teams in the NFC and if you want to check out who the entire list of under-the-radar battles, be sure to click here.
5. What if football was a sport at the Olympics?
If you watch the Olympics this year, you may notice that skateboarding, surfing and 3x3 basketball are all being played. However, one sport that didn't make the cut is football and I'm guessing that's because the International Olympic Committee is afraid that the United States would win every game 112-7.
Even though the IOC won't make football a sport, we decided to put together an Olympic football team anyway, but with one catch: In this version, it's U.S.A vs. the World.
Cody Benjamin decided to create a roster for each team and let me just say, it was not easy for him to put together the international roster.
With that in mind, let's check out who Cody has on his World team:
QB: Robert Griffin III, retired (born in Japan)
RB: Chuba Hubbard, Panthers (Canada)
WR: Chase Claypool, Steelers (Canada)
WR: Nelson Agholor, Patriots (Nigeria)
WR: DaeSean Hamilton, Broncos (Japan)
TE: Tim Tebow, Jaguars (Born in the Philippines)
LT: Jordan Mailata, Eagles (Australia)
LG: Mike Iupati, retired (American Samoa)
C: Brett Jones, free agent (Canada)
RG: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Chiefs (Canada)
RT: Penei Sewell, Lions (American Samoa)
Obviously, if you want to people to buy tickets to watch this team play, you have to have Tebow on the roster, so Tebow is on the roster.
If you want to see what the defensive roster looks like for the World team or who made the cut on Team USA, be sure to check out Cody's entire roster by clicking here. I just looked at both rosters and I think Team U.S.A. would be favored by 51 points.
6. Rapid-fire roundup
It has been a BUSY 24 hours in the NFL and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Dolphins star shows up to training camp. There had been some speculation over the past few weeks that Xavien Howard might not show up to to training camp if he didn't get a new contract, but he showed up anyway even though he didn't land a new deal. This is good news for the Dolphins and that's mostly because Howard is such a key part of their secondary. Howard had skipped the team's mandatory minicamp in June.
- Washington's Jonathan Allen gets massive $72 million extension. The defensive tackle scored a huge extension on Monday when he inked a four-year, $72 million deal that includes $30 million in guarantees. Washington has one of the best defensive lines in football and Allen is a big reason for that. In other Washington news, the team also signed quarterback-turned-tight end Logan Thomas to an extension.
- Longtime NFL center retires. After 10 NFL seasons, Daniel Kilgore has decided to hang up his cleats for good. Kilgore's career started in 2011 when the 49ers selected him in the fifth round of the draft. Over his 10-year career, Kilgore played for three different teams: 49ers (2011-2017), Dolphins (2018-19), Chiefs (2020). He was on a 49ers team that made it to three straight NFC title games (2011-13) and he also played for last year's Chiefs team that made it all the way to the Super Bowl.
- Washington has the lowest vaccination rate in the league. When it comes to vaccination rates, each team is trying to get to the 85% threshold and so far, there are only two teams that aren't really anywhere close. According to the Washington Post, the Football Team (60%) and the Colts (63%) have the lowest vaccination rates in the NFL. To put that in perspective, there are 14 teams that have a rate of 90% or higher.
- Cardinals sign veteran corner Daryl Worley. The Cards added some depth to their secondary on Monday with the addition of Worley, who signed a one-year deal. Worley played for THREE different teams last season -- the Bills, Cowboys and Raiders. He's started a total of 20 games at corner over the past two seasons combined.