Since the NFL season ended in February, it seems like there's been a new rumor every week about the fact that the NFL is going to expand the schedule to 17 games for 2021. Well, I have some good news for you and that news it that those rumors are finally going to end and they're likely going to end today because the NFL's 32 owners are finally going to vote on it.
The NFL's annual league meeting will be virtually going down today and tomorrow with the vote on the 17th game expected to come Tuesday afternoon. By the time you read this newsletter, there's a good chance that the NFL will officially have expanded the schedule to 17 games. When that happens, not only will it add 16 new games to the schedule every year, but one of those games might be played in Germany!
We'll have more details on that Germany game in today's newsletter plus some free agency grades and all the mock drafts you can handle. Alright, let's get to the rundown. 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.
1. Today's show: AFC East free agency grades
With the brunt of free agency now in the rearview mirror, that means it's now time to do our favorite thing here at the Pick Six Podcast: Grade how everyone did. For the rest of the week, we'll be going through each division and handing out grades for each team.
On today's show, we started with the AFC East and that's mainly because the Patriots spent the most money in free agency, so we thought it made sense to grade them first. For this episode, Will Brinson was joined by noted Patriots homer Tyler Sullivan and the two of them teamed up to hand out their AFC East free agency report cards.
Here's a sneak peek at the grades:
If you want a more in-depth explanation on each grade, you're definitely going to want to listen to today's episode and you can do that by clicking here.
2. 49ers insist they're going to keep Jimmy Garoppolo
After the 49ers traded up to the third spot in the NFL Draft on Friday, most people likely assumed that the move meant the end of Jimmy Garoppolo's career in San Francisco, but apparently, that's not the case. During an interview on Monday, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said that Garoppolo is still in the team's plans for 2021.
"We still plan on him leading us and getting us as far as we can with him," Shanahan said.
The crazy part is that he said that with a straight face. You don't trade up to three unless you're drafting a quarterback and if you draft a quarterback at three, that means your current quarterback isn't going to be around much longer.
Anyway, Shanahan tried to insist that making the trade would actually make Garoppolo a better player, because the deal would make him mad and he plays better when he's mad or something like that.
"I'm sure Jimmy was a little pissed off from it, just like I would be, too, but me knowing Jimmy, he'll be fired up and come in and he'll work his butt off," Shanahan said. "Knowing Jimmy, the more mad Jimmy gets, usually the better he gets."
The 49ers coach said he did eventually talk to Garoppolo about the deal and that the two had a honest conversation.
"We were very straight up with each other and I told him how we felt," Shanahan said. "This doesn't change any of his circumstances right now. He's still coming in here and trying to lead this team. I told him how excited I was that free agency went a lot better than anticipated with signing a lot more of our own players than we had thought going into it and that we have a real good team coming back here."
Remember everyone, it's draft season, which means it's smokescreen season, which means you can't believe anything any coach says between now and the draft. I think what I'm trying to say here is that I'd say there's only about 20% chance that Garoppolo is on San Francisco's roster come Week 1.
3. Hue Jackson claims Browns gave him an extension during 0-16 season
The Cleveland Browns have made some terrible decisions over the past 20 years -- remember, this is the team that drafted Johnny Manziel, Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson -- but the worst decision of all might have been one that no one even knew about.
Apparently, the Browns gave Hue Jackson a CONTRACT EXTENSION during the middle of their 0-16 season in 2017. That news comes from Jackson, who did a radio interview with ESPN 850 in Cleveland on Monday.
"I got a contract extension at 1-23, midway through the season," Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. "I wanted to go public with it, but the Browns didn't."
According to Cabot, Jackson did actually get a one-year extension. If the Browns didn't want to go public with the deal, that seems like a red flag. That's like dating someone, but they don't want to tell anyone that you're actually dating. When that happens, there's a 4000% chance that relationship is not going to work. As for Jackson, if he got the extension at 1-23, that means it came at a point in the 2017 season when the Browns were 0-8. If you're looking for one decision that has perfectly summed up the Browns' ineptitude over the past 20 years, that's probably it.
Jackson claims it didn't work out in Cleveland because he became the "fall guy" when the coaching staff and the front office became divided against each other over analytics.
"There's no doubt I was lied to by ownership and leadership of the team. They were going to be football plus analytics, but it was football vs. analytics," Jackson said. "I think I became the fall guy because that was the narrative. The truth needs to come out, for other minority coaches. They need to know the pitfalls out there. My story has affected some of their futures."
Jackson also noted that he is in the midst of writing a book and all I can say about that is let's hope he's better at writing than he is at coaching.
4. NFL set to approve expanded schedule, which could mean one game in Germany
By the time you read this newsletter, there's a good chance that the NFL will officially have expanded the schedule to 17 games.
Once the vote happens, one of the biggest changes you'll see will come with international games. According to Sports Illustrated the NFL could be moving a game to Germany as soon as next year, which means if you've ever wanted to celebrate Oktoberfest in Germany, 2022 might be a good year to do it.
When the expanded schedule gets approved, that will create 16 new games on the schedule each season and all 16 of those will be AFC-NFC games. Of those 16 games, four of them will be played internationally starting in 2022 and a big reason that's happening is because the NFL is going to require every team to play at least one international game every eight years (My guess is that one division each year will have to host the international games).
With the league planning to play at least four international games each year, the plan is to put two in London, one in Mexico City and one in Germany. The German game would be played in either Berlin or Munich. As the international games move forward, the NFL will also be eyeing other countries like Canada and South America.
5. Bengals mock draft: Joe Burrow is the big winner
With less than one month to go until the NFL Draft, it's time to get serious around here and when we get serious, we start producing seven-round mock drafts. Over the next few weeks, we'll be putting together a seven-round mock for each NFL team and we started that series out today by doing the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals are one of the most intriguing teams in the draft this year and that's mostly because they're likely going to get the top non-quarterback in the draft. If the top four teams in the draft all take a quarterback, which is looking more and more like it's going to happen, the Bengals are going to be sitting pretty with the fifth overall pick.
If the Bengals want to bring in some protection for Joe Burrow, they could take Penei Sewell out of Oregon, who just happens to be the consensus top tackle in the draft. If the Bengals want to add another weapon to their offense, they could go with LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase or Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, who would both instantly give the Bengals a more high-powered attack.
So what are they going to do? Here's my prediction.
1. OL Penei Sewell, Oregon
2. WR Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU
3. EDGE Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma
4. OG Ben Cleveland, Georgia
5. DL Chauncey Golston, Iowa
6. K Jose Borregales, Miami
6. TE Tony Poljan, Virginia
7. LB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern
You can check out my full explanation for each pick by clicking here. If you need even more mock drafts in your life -- and who doesn't -- you can click here to check out Pete Prisco's first-round mock that includes four quarterbacks going with the first four picks.
Finally, if you want to know who the top five picks of all time are to be selected at No. 31 overall, you're going to want to click here to find out.
6. Two NFL stadiums getting new names
I hate when stadiums get new names because I can never remember them, which means the upcoming NFL season is definitely going to be a headache because it appears that two different stadiums are going to be renamed for the 2021 season.
- Bills new stadium name. After playing in a building that was simply called "Bills Stadium" last year, Buffalo will now play at Highmark Stadium after Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York bought the naming rights. This is the stadium's fifth name following Rich Stadium (1973-1997), Ralph Wilson Stadium (1998-2015), New Era Field (2016-2019) and Bills Stadium (2020).
- SuperDome getting a new name in New Orleans. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome will be getting a new name in July and according to the Athletic, Caesars Entertainment is taking over. Yes, that's the gambling company. It's not clear what the name will be, but I hope it's Caesar's Palace and not the Caesar's SuperDome. I'm cheering for the first one because every time I walk in the stadium from now on, I want to be able to ask someone if this is the real Caesar's Palace.
Since I'm mentioning name changes, I should probably also add that the Chiefs stadium underwent a small name change earlier this month. The Chiefs signed a deal with the Government Employees Health Association so the stadium will now be known as GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. I'm glad it's GEHA, because Government Employees Health Association Field at Arrowhead Stadium doesn't really roll off the tongue.
7. The Kicker: Guy playing video games breaks free agency news
If you're worried that your kid is playing too many video games, I say let them play and that's mostly because there's a chance they could turn into the NFL's next big news breaker, which is kind of what happened over the weekend.
I'm going to try to make this as concise as possible:
- Someone on Reddit was playing Call of Duty on Saturday.
- That person was playing the game on the internet with a female partner that he had never met.
- The female had her mic on, which means the guy on Reddit could hear the conversation going on at her home.
- One of the conversations involved the woman's husband talking about a possible "deal" with Pittsburgh.
- The Reddit guy noticed the woman had a Chicago geotag and after listening to more of the conversation, he thought this might be a situation where a Bears player was looking to sign with the Steelers.
- On Monday, Bears offensive lineman Rashaad Coward signed a free agent deal with the Steelers and the best part is that Coward's agent confirmed that Coward's wife did in fact leak the news during a Call of Duty game over the weekend.
I think the moral of the story here is don't ever stop playing video games. If you need me, I'm going to go on a 24-hour Mario Kart bender and because of that, I'll be letting Cody Benjamin take the reins of the newsletter tomorrow.