Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
If you thought you were going to get some down time this week from NFL news, I have some news for you: THERE'S NO DOWN TIME ON THE NFL CALENDAR. Now that the Super Bowl is over, we'll be going straight into the combine and then into free agency and then into the draft and then into OTAs and then the schedule release and then maybe we'll get a two and a half day break from news in June, but I doubt it.
With NFL free agency now less than a month away, we'll be focusing on that a lot more over the next few days and we'll be starting that today with a look at the top-25 free agents on the offensive side of the ball. We'll also take a look at the trend that Joe Burrow needs to buck if he wants to get the Bengals back to the Super Bowl (On a personal note: PLEASE BUCK THE TREND JOE, I CAN'T WAIT 33 MORE YEARS FOR ANOTHER BENGALS SUPER BOWL APPEARANCE).
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. Alright, let's get to the rundown.
1. Today's show: Prisco's final power rankings of the season and early favorites for 2022
Pete Prisco unveiled his final power rankings of the season on Tuesday and after four days of trying to hunt him down, Will Brinson was finally able to get Prisco on the podcast to talk about his power rankings for today's episode. As a quick reminder, here were the top five teams in his final power ranking of the 2021 season.
Not only did Brinson and Prisco talk power rankings, but they also took a sneak peek toward next season. The two guys went over the Super Bowl odds for 2022 and Pete revealed one team he's not so high on, one team he is high on and one team that could be a dark horse.
- Prisco is not impressed with: The 49ers. The 49ers have the second-best Super Bowl odds of any team in the NFC and Prisco doesn't understand why. He doesn't see them getting to the Super Bowl or even back to the NFC title game with Trey Lance as their starting QB.
- Prisco's Dark Horse: Washington. If the Commanders find the right quarterback, this is a team that could surprise some people next season. On Brinson's end, he thinks the Seahawks will be good again, but only if they can convince Russell Wilson to stick around.
- Team Prisco is impressed with: The Ravens. Baltimore's roster at the end of the season was nearly unrecognizable due to all the injuries the Ravens were hit with. The Ravens were 6-3 at one point, but they ended the season with six straight losses and the worst part is that five of those losses were by three points or less. If everyone is healthy in 2022, the Ravens should be a contender for the AFC title.
To listen to today's episode -- and to hear what the guys had to say about every team's chances for 2022. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Top-25 offensive free agents: Davante Adams headlines a list that's dominated by wide receivers
In less than a month, things should be getting crazy around the NFL and that's because the league's free agency period will be kicking off on March 16. The first 24 hours of free agency are usually pretty wild and that's because that timeframe is usually when we see the biggest names go off the board.
So who are the biggest names this year? Glad you asked.
Our Patrik Walker ranked the top-25 offensive free agents. His list includes every player that is set to be a free agent, even players like Davante Adams, who could end up getting hit with the franchise tag.
With that in mind, let's take a look at Walker's top-10 (We'll list the player plus the team they played for last season). One thing you'll notice about the top-10 is that there are a lot of wide receivers, with six of the top seven guys all playing that position.
1. WR Davante Adams (Packer)
2. OT Terron Armstead (Saints)
3. WR Chris Godwin (Buccaneers)
4. WR Allen Robinson (Bears)
5. WR Mike Williams (Chargers)
6. WR Michael Gallup (Cowboys)
7. WR Odell Beckham (Rams)
8. OT (Orlando Brown (Chiefs)
9. OG Brandon Scherff (Commanders)
10. QB Jameis Winston (Saints)
If you want to see Walker entire top-25 ranking, then be sure to click here. We'll have a ranking of the top-25 defensive free agents coming on Monday.
3. Joe Burrow will have to buck this trend if Bengals want to get back to Super Bowl
The research team here at CBS Sports clearly doesn't like me and I know that because of a stat they sent out about the Bengals this week. As a noted Bengals homer, this stat is somewhat alarming and here it is: Of the last 16 quarterbacks to lose in their Super Bowl debut, NONE of them made it back to the big game in their career.
This list dates all the way back to the 1994 season when Stan Humphries and the Chargers lost to the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX.
Here's the list of the past 16 quarterbacks who lost their Super Bowl debut and never made it back to the big game:
Super Bowl XXIX: Stan Humphries (Chargers)
Super Bowl XXX: Neil O'Donnell (Steelers)
Super Bowl XXXI: Drew Bledsoe (Patriots) -- Bledsoe did return as a backup, but that doesn't count
Super Bowl XXXIII: Chris Chandler (Falcons)
Super Bowl XXIV: Steve McNair (Titans)
Super Bowl XXXV: Kerry Collins (Giants)
Super Bowl XXXVII: Rich Gannon (Raiders)
Super Bowl XXXVIII: Jake Delhomme (Panthers)
Super Bowl XXXIX: Donovan McNabb (Eagles)
Super Bowl XL: Matt Hasselbeck (Seahawks)
Super Bowl XLI: Rex Grossman (Bears)
Super Bowl XLVII: Colin Kaepernick (49ers)
Super Bowl 50: Cam Newton (Panthers)
Super Bowl LI: Matt Ryan (Falcons)
Super Bowl LIII: Jared Goff (Rams)
Super Bowl LIV: Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers)
On one hand, you could argue that Burrow is much more talented than almost every other quarterback on this list, so that makes you feel slightly better about the Bengals chances of getting back. On the other hand, 16 straight is 16 straight and it really puts into perspective how hard it is to get back to the Super Bowl. That being said, there have been quarterbacks who HAVE made it back to the big game after losing their Super Bowl debut. The last one to do it was Jim Kelly, who took the Bills to THREE STRAIGHT Super Bowls after losing his debut.
Also, Garoppolo and Kaepernick both almost ended the streak, but both guys ended up falling one game short of a possible Super Bowl return (Kaepernick's 49ers lost the NFC title game in 2013 while Garoppolo's 49ers lost the NFC Championship this past season).
Basically, if Burrow can get the Bengals back to the Super Bowl, he'd be making history and if he proved one thing in 2021, it's that he's good at making history, so I'm not going to count him out.
4. Matthew Stafford and Rams will cover medical expenses for injured photographer
A photographer who was injured at the Rams' Super Bowl parade won't have to pay any of her medical bills and that's because the Rams and the Staffords have announced that they'll be paying everything.
- Near the end of the parade on Wednesday, photographer Kelly Smiley was asked to take a picture of Matthew Stafford and his wife Kelly. Smiley was on the main stage and was attempting to take a cell phone picture of the couple and as that was happening, she took a few steps back, but didn't realize she was at the edge of the stage.
- After Smiley fell off the stage, Matthew Stafford got grilled on social media because he appeared to notice her fall, but he still walked away as if nothing happened. On other hand, Kelly Stafford quickly ran over to check on the injured photographer.
- Less than 24 hours after the incident, Smiley announced that not only did she fracture her spine, but that she also broke her camera equipment during the fall.
- The Rams released a statement late Thursday afternoon announcing that the team would be taking care of all her bills plus paying for her broken camera equipment, "We have been in communication with Kelly Smiley since yesterday's incident and we are sorry for what happened," the Rams said in a joint statement with the Staffords. "As we told Kelly, we will be covering all her hospital bills and replacing her cameras. We wish her a speedy recovery."
Someone also started a GoFundMe for Smiley and as of Friday morning, the fundraiser had pulled in more than $48,000 with Pat McAfee, the Seahawks and several other big names all making substantial donations.
5. Titans and Commanders could be getting new stadiums in the near future
Over the past five years, the NFL has seen a total of four new stadiums open and that number could be going up in the near future with the Tennessee Titans and Washington Commanders both possibly looking to build a new stadium.
Both teams will need a new stadium in the near future and both teams took a small step toward getting one this week:
- Titans decide renovating Nissan Stadium doesn't make financial sense. The Titans original plan was to renovate Nissan Stadium, but after doing a cost estimate, the belief is that a renovation could cost as much as $1.2 billion. Thanks to the sky-high estimate, the Titans and the city are leaning toward building a new stadium, "Revised cost estimates require us to closely review whether a new stadium would be a better long-term financial decision for Nashville," Mayor John Cooper said in a statement. "We won't settle for anything but the best-case scenario for Nashville." As someone who lives in Nashville, I vote for a new stadium.
- Commanders stadium could be built in Virginia. The Commanders currently play at one of the most decrepit stadiums in the NFL and they've made it clear that they want a new stadium. Although their current stadium is located in Maryland, the state of Virginia is making a strong play to land the team. The two houses of the Virginia General Assembly both passed a bill on Thursday that could pave the way for a $3 billion football complex to be built for the Commanders. The two bills are the first step toward creating a stadium authority that would oversee the construction and financing of the stadium. The Commanders could end up staying in Maryland or even end up in Washington D.C., but right now, Virginia is looking like the most attractive option. The team's lease at FedEx Field runs through 2027, so the Commanders wouldn't be playing in a new stadium until 2028 at the earliest.
If both of these stadiums get done, there's a good chance they'll eventually host at least one Super Bowl. Nine new stadiums have opened around the NFL since 2006 and each of them has hosted a Super Bowl with the exception of Allegiant Stadium, which will host the game following the 2023 season.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Aaron Donald willing to return under two conditions
It's 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.
- Aaron Donald sounds open to a return under two conditions. There's been some speculation that Donald might retire, but during an interview with TMZ this week, he said he would return if the Rams re-signed both Von Miller and Odell Beckham. You better get on that Rams.
- Roger Goodell might be negotiating a new contract. The Commissioner's contract with the NFL was set to expire in 2024, but that date might soon be changing. According to the Sports Business Journal, the league is working on an extension with Goodell, who will turn 63 on Saturday. The NFL has denied the report, so don't jump the gun on hosting a "Roger Goodell just got an extension" celebration party tonight.
- Chiefs corner charged with battery in relation to Alvin Kamara case. Chiefs corner Chris Lammons turned himself into police on Thursday after he was charged with battery resulting in substantial bodily harm and conspiracy to commit battery. Lammons was allegedly involved in the Las Vegas incident that also saw Alvin Kamara get charged.
- One-time Super Bowl hero could be making NFL return. After taking some time away from football, former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler might be making a return. Butler, who was signed to play with the Cardinals in 2021, tentatively retired before the start of the season. However, if he's going to return, he'll be able to sign with anyone and that's because the Cards have released him from the reserve/retired list.
- New Vikings coach planning to keep Kirk Cousins. It sounds like new Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell isn't planning to make any major changes at QB. During his introductory press conference, O'Connell implied that he'll likely move forward with Kirk Cousins, "We've already started thinking about how we're going to build those systems for him and our other quarterbacks and really the tremendous skill group that we have, our guys up front," O'Connell said, via ESPN. Cousins is going into the final year of his deal, so if things don't work out, O'Connell can simply move on with no cost to the Vikings after the 2022 season.
- USFL unveils its uniforms. All eight teams in the USFL unveiled their uniforms on Thursday and if you want to know what those look like, be sure to click here. The league also announced that its inaugural draft will take place on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23.