Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
It's Memorial Day, and although most people are out of the office today, I'm in the office, because this newsletter isn't going to write itself, and to be honest, that's probably for the best, because if it did write itself, I'd be out of a job.
Teams from the around the NFL are using today to salute our fallen soldiers, and you can see what each team shared on social media by clicking here.
We've got a loaded newsletter today that includes Antonio Brown hinting at a possible retirement, plus we'll be talking about BASEBALL. Since this is an NFL newsletter, we don't talk about a lot of baseball around here, but we're going to talk about it today because things got kind of crazy in MLB over the weekend and it was all due to fantasy football.
As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Let's get to the rundown.
1. Today's show: Monday mailbag
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week on the Pick Six Podcast by adding a listener mailbag every Monday.
Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, today's mailbag even includes a question about the Queen of England, so if we'll answer that, trust me when I say we'll answer almost anything.
Anyway, if you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review that includes your question.
Here's one question that Ryan Wilson, Will Brinson and I answered in today's mailbag.
Q: Can the Rams repeat?
A: Sometimes when we do this mailbag, we get long-winded questions. Other times, like today, we get simple, four-word questions that want to know one thing: Can the Rams repeat?
My quick answer to this question is no, and then after thinking about it for awhile, my answer is still no. I think the Rams are going to be good in 2022, I think the Rams are going to win the NFC West in 2022, but I don't see them repeating as Super Bowl champs. There's a reason we haven't seen a repeat champ in nearly 20 years. Not only do you have to be good enough to get to the Super Bowl, but when it comes to the best teams in the NFL, the competition is so evenly matched that it also takes a degree of luck to win it all. For instance, if Jaquiski Tartt doesn't drop the easiest would-be interception of all-time in the fourth quarter of the NFC title game, then the 49ers would likely have been in Super Bowl LVI and not the Rams.
At some point, we'll probably see another team repeat as champs, but I don't think it will be the 2022 Rams, although I definitely think they're one of the best three teams in the NFC.
Anyway, to listen to the rest of the mailbag (and to the quirks), be sure to click here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Antonio Brown hints that his NFL career might be over
The last time we saw Antonio Brown in an NFL game, he was storming off the field without a shirt. As it turns out, that might be our lasting impression of Brown because it might have been his final time on the field.
The former NFL receiver hinted over the weekend that it might be time for him to step away from football during an interview on a broadcast for the Fan-Controlled Football League.
- Antonio Brown doesn't sound like he's going to play in 2022. At one point during the interview, Brown was asked if he plans on playing in 2022 and he had this to say. "Nah. don't play yourself looking (for) me to play." I don't want to play myself, so I'm not going to be looking for him to play.
- Brown also hinted that his career might be over. Not only did Brown talk about whether he would play in 2022, but he also talked about whether he would ever play again at all. Although he didn't explicitly say that he was going to retire, he definitely hinted at it. "Obviously we live the game, but you can't play forever," Brown said when asked if football remains a priority for him. "I think I'm a great player that's done everything in the game." That definitely sounds like someone who isn't so sure he wants to play football anymore.
- Brown wants to retire with the Steelers. One other intriguing note is that this isn't the first time Brown has mentioned retirement. Earlier in May, the receiver said he wanted to sign a contract with Pittsburgh so that he could retire as a member of the Steelers.
It's worth pointing out here that one reason Brown might be thinking about retirement is because he doesn't have a choice. Due to his antics and his recent injury history, I'm guessing his phone hasn't exactly been ringing off the hook this offseason with teams looking to sign him. If Brown does retire, his antics will likely overshadow what was once a brilliant career. For one, he's the only player in NFL history to tally 129 or more receptions in two different seasons. He's also the only receiver to go over 1,690 yards in two separate seasons.
3. Wild fantasy football spat leads to MLB suspension for Reds player
If you've ever wanted to slap someone in your fantasy football league, then you have something in common with Reds outfielder Tommy Pham, who did exactly that Friday while the Giants were in town. Before the game, Pham got into it with San Francisco's Joc Pederson, and the altercation ended with Pederson getting slapped in the face by Pham.
If you're wondering how or why this happened, here's what we know:
- Pham was upset over a fantasy football rule. This all started because Pham wasn't happy that Pederson put 49ers running back Jeff Wilson on IR during the 2020 season. Although Wilson was injured and couldn't play that week, he wasn't on IR in the NFL. However, under the ESPN fantasy rules that their league was using, Pederson was allowed to stash Wilson on IR so he could sign another player for the week. For some reason, this didn't sit well with Pham.
- Pederson's side of the story. The Giants outfielder made a move that was legal in his fantasy league, so he had no idea why Pham was upset. "I sent a screenshot of the rules, how it says that if a player's ruled out, you're allowed to put him on the IR and that's all I was doing," Pederson said, via ESPN. "He literally did the same thing. That was basically all of it."
- The slap was a surprise to Pederson. The Giants outfielder also added that the slap came as a total surprise. "There was no real argument. He kind of came up and said, 'Like, I don't know if you remember from last year.' And I was like, 'Fantasy football.' He was like, 'Yeah.'" You can see a clip of the slap by clicking here.
- Pham's side of the story. Apparently, Pederson had also been trash-talking Pham's former team and Pham didn't like that. "I slapped Joc," Pham told reporters Saturday. "He said some s--- I don't condone. I had to address it. ... It was regarding my former team [Padres]. I didn't like that and I didn't like the sketchy s--- going on in fantasy. We had too much money on the line, so I look at it like there's a code. You're f---ing with my money, then you're going to say some disrespectful s---; there's a code to this."
According to Pederson, Pham ended up quitting the league that year in "Week 4 or 5."
As someone who stashes players all the time in fantasy, I'm glad I'm not in a league with Pham. Of course, the big loser here was Pham's pocket book. Not only did he end up dropping out of the big money fantasy league with Pederson, but he also got suspended three games for his slap, and that suspension will cost him more than $100,000.
4. One burning question for every team in the NFC South
With all the roster changes that have happened around the league this offseason, there are plenty of questions that each team will need to answer before we know if they'll actually be good in 2022.
With that in mind, we've been going through each division to look at the biggest question for each team heading into the upcoming season, and today, we're going to cover the NFC South.
Here's one burning question that Patrik Walker has come up with for each team.
- Buccaneers: Can Tom Brady do it again? "The Buccaneers have achieved yet another offseason feat of keeping most of their band together from 2022, but they nearly didn't, seeing as Brady retired and then swiftly unretired; and they still don't know if Rob Gronkowski will return. There is also a shift at head coach, with Bruce Arians moving into a front office role while former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles ascends to Arians' former role... Despite all this, the NFC South is again Brady's to lose ... but can he land that eighth ring?"
- Falcons: Can they be competitive in 2022? "Matt Ryan's departure creates a massive void at the most important position in football and thrusts the Falcons into what many view as rebuild mode. The acquisition of Marcus Mariota seems admirable as far as potentially making them competitive, but it's also true that Mariota devolved into being a backup for a reason. "
- Panthers: Is Baker Mayfield still a thing? "Matt Rhule's time thus far in Carolina has been an unmitigated disaster at QB, and even includes a reunion with former league MVP Cam Newton that produced little to nothing of merit (after failing to rejuvenate Teddy Bridgewater on a multi-year contract that was cut short). And even with Matt Corral in tow and Sam Darnold still on the roster, there are reports that the Panthers are still open to acquiring Mayfield, but that they'd have to also fend off the Seattle Seahawks to acquire him. The bottom line is this: if you can guess (right now) who'll be the starting QB for the Panthers in 2022, and correctly, you should buy a Powerball ticket before your luck runs out like the Panthers' continues to do"
- Saints: Can Jameis Winston deliver? "The QB is Winston's to lose after signing a two-year deal this offseason, and head coach Dennis Allen is trying to get off to a roaring start in Year 1 of the post-Sean Payton era, so he'll need Winston playing the best football of his NFL career going forward."
To read Walker's full answer for each question, be sure to click here.
5. Predicting the Jets' final record for 2022
From now until the end of June, we're going to keep things spicy around here by going through and predicting teams' records for the 2022 season. We've already hit seven of the 32 teams, and today, we're going to add the Jets to that list.
CBSSports.com's Shanna McCarriston went through New York's entire schedule and made a pick for each game. Here's a look at her predictions for three key games:
- Week 1: Ravens at Jets. "Last year, the Ravens did not have the best season, with injuries plaguing the team, but I expect them to snap back this season. Week 1 they should be the healthiest they've been in a long time, and quarterback Lamar Jackson will start the season strong, with something to prove" Prediction: Ravens over Jets
- Week 5: Dolphins at Jets. "The Dolphins have added some key players such as Tyreek Hill, but I see Miami as a team that starts slow and ends strong. If I were to pick a surprise Jets victory of the year, it would be one over the Dolphins." Prediction: Jets over Dolphins
- Week 15: Lions at Jets. "I think this will be an improved Detroit team, but I also am careful not to get too carried away with the team. With a game against the Jaguars in Week 16, I think this is a spot the Jets could put together back-to-back wins, something they were unable to do last season." Prediction: Jets over Lions
Final record prediction: 5-12.
For most teams, 5-12 would be viewed as a total failure, but for the Jets, it would actually be an improvement on their 2021 record of 4-13. If you want to see Shanna's prediction for each game, be sure to click here so you can check out her entire story.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: David Njoku lands monstrous extension
It was a wild weekend 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.
- Browns give monstrous extension to Njoku. The tight end won't be leaving Cleveland anytime soon after landing a huge four-year extension. The new deal will pay out $56.75 million over the next four seasons and includes $28 million in guaranteed money. The Browns had previously hit Njoku with the franchise tag, so the two sides had until July 15 to hammer out a long-term deal.
- Clowney thinks Browns can win a Super Bowl. Speaking of the Browns, Jadeveon Clowney revealed one reason why he re-signed in Cleveland last week, and his big reason is that he thinks the Browns can win a Super Bowl. You can check out his full comments by clicking here.
- Jerry Jones says Cowboys upgraded at No. 1 receiver despite losing Amari Cooper. The loss of Amari Cooper doesn't seem to be bothering Jerry Jones. With CeeDee Lamb now the top receiver in Dallas, the Cowboys owner thinks the team has actually made an upgrade over what they had in Cooper at the No. 1 spot.
- Hall of Fame honoring four black players who re-integrated football. The Pro Football Hall of Fame will be honoring the "Forgotten Four" at this year's enshrinement ceremony. The group, which consists of Marion Motley, Woody Strode, Kenny Washington and Bill Willis, broke down pro football's racial barrier in 1946, a full year before Jackie Robinson integrated MLB. You can read more about their story by clicking here.