I have no idea what Aaron Rodgers has been doing for the past month, but I do know that he's done a good job of avoiding the media.
The Packers quarterback basically went dark after it became known that he doesn't want to be in Green Bay anymore. Sure, Rodgers has been busy: He popped up at the Kentucky Derby -- where he refused to do an on-camera interview -- and he's been having fun in Hawaii, but before Monday night, I was starting to think that he was only taking all these trips so he could avoid talking to the media. I mean, half the reason I went on vacation last week was so I didn't have to talk to my neighbors for six days.
After nearly a month of ducking the media, Rodgers finally agreed to an interview and we'll be covering that in-depth today. Also, Julio Jones apparently wants to be traded to one of two teams. Oh, and we'll also be predicting the Cowboys' entire season today, so let's get to the rundown.
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1. Today's show: An in-depth look at the NFC West
Now that we've made it through every big event on the NFL's offseason calendar, we've decided to take a look back to see how each team did, and today, that means we're going to take an in-depth look at the NFC West.
How did each of the teams do in free agency? Did they help themselves in the draft? Did the NFL give them a friendly schedule? We'll be covering all those topics and more for each NFC West team. Not to mention, we'll also be going over the win totals and the divisional odds for each team.
For today's show, Will Brinson brought in our NFC West guru, Jeff Kerr, and although the two didn't agree on everything, they did agree that the Arizona Cardinals could be a dark horse in the division. The team's Over/Under has been set at eight wins and both guys think they'll get over that.
"I think Arizona profiles as a team that should finish above .500 with their additions," Brinson said, referring to the signings of guys like J.J. Watt, A.J. Green and James Conner. "I would like the over with eight wins. I don't think it's crazy to suggest they could win the division."
I do think it's crazy to suggest Arizona could win the division, but I wasn't on the podcast to disagree with Brinson's take.
"They should win over eight games," Kerr said. "They should've won over eight games last year. They were probably going to be a playoff team last year if their star quarterback doesn't get hurt."
The fact that Kyler Murray played hurt is a good point. The Cardinals started the season 5-2, but then fell apart after Murray injured his shoulder in Week 9 against the Dolphins. If Murray can stay healthy, the over does feel like a good bet, but I'm not ready to jump on the division-winning bandwagon with Brinson just yet.
To listen to today's show -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. Aaron Rodgers finally talks about the drama in Green Bay
I'm not sure if Aaron Rodgers has been purposely ducking the media over the past month, but it kind of feels that way. Over the past four weeks, Rodgers has been the hottest topic in the NFL, but no one actually knows first-hand how he feels about the situation in Green Bay because no one has had a chance to ask him.
Well, that changed on Monday night when Rodgers made an appearance on SportsCenter to help celebrate Kenny Mayne's final episode. Although the entire conversation wasn't about football , Mayne made sure to ask Rodgers the one question everyone was hoping he would ask: "Are you demanding a trade?"
It was a simple five-word question and Rodgers could have shut down all the trade speculation with a simple "no," but that's now how he responded. Instead, he kind of ducked the question while also offering a lengthy answer.
"With my situation, look, it's never been about the draft pick, picking Jordan [Love]," Rodgers said. "I love Jordan, he's a great kid. A lot of fun to work together. I love the coaching staff, love my teammates, love the fan base in Green Bay. It's been an incredible 16 years. It's just kind of about a philosophy and maybe forgetting it is about the people that make the thing go. It's about character. It's about culture. It's about doing the things the right way. A lot this was put in motion last year. The wrench was just kind of throw into it when I won MVP and played the way I played last year. This is just kind of the spill out of all that. But, look, it's about the people and that's the most important thing. Green Bay has always been about the people."
Rodgers spent a good part of the interview emphasizing the fact that the Packers organization is one that was built by the people.
"Culture is built brick by brick, the foundation of it by the people," Rodgers said. "Not by the organization. Not by the building. Not by the corporation. It's built by the people."
Over the past four weeks, the belief was the Rodgers was upset with the front office and he didn't do anything to change that perception during this interview. As a matter of fact, when he went through that list of people that he "loves" in Green Bay, you'll notice that he left out those in the front office.
Rodgers clearly has a problem with the Packers' front office and it seems unlikely the team is going to be able to do anything to change how he feels. Rodgers skipped the first day of offseason training activities (OTAs) on Monday and although that's not a huge deal, it is worth noting because he's never skipped OTAs before.
Although Rodgers is free to skip OTAs, things will likely get much more interesting next month. The Packers' mandatory minicamp runs from June 15-17 and if he's a no-show for that, then the team will have a real problem on its hands, because at that point, the Packers will have no way to know if he'll even show up for training camp. Basically, the Packers could soon reach a breaking point, which could lead them to finally trade Rodgers, even though that's not what they want to do right now.
3. NFL players trying to recruit Julio Jones
In what might have been the greatest live television phone call of all time, Julio Jones revealed on Monday that he officially wants out of Atlanta. Apparently, news travels fast in the NFL, because after Jones made it known that he wants out, multiple players took to Twitter to start their recruitment pitch.
Here's a short list of players who have been recruiting Jones to their team over the past 24 hours:
- Eagles CB Darius Slay. Slay tagged Jones on Twitter and then added the word "Eagles" along with a pair of googly eyes. If that doesn't entice you, I don't know what will.
- Rams CB Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey went a slightly different route and tried to sell Jones on Los Angeles.
- Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens corner said Baltimore makes sense because it would allow the Falcons receiver to be a "bird forever." This recruitment pitch could also work for the Eagles, Cardinals or Seahawks.
- Patriots OL Trent Brown. Brown had four simple words for Jones, "Come be a Patriot!"
- Titans RB Derrick Henry. These two were working out together last week and it's pretty clear that Henry would love to see Jones head to Nashville.
Of course, the irony here is that recruiting Jones isn't going to help at all because Jones doesn't get to pick where he's going to play next. What these players need to do is call out their own team on Twitter and tell their front office to make an offer for the Falcons receiver. For instance, Humphrey could have written, "Hey @Ravens, have you seen how bad are receiving corps is? You know who would help? @JulioJones_11."
CBS Sports NFL senior writer Jonathan Jones put together a list of the trade destinations that would make the most sense for Julio. The list of list of four teams includes the 49ers, Broncos, Packers and Patriots. To check out Jones' full explanation for why Julio would fit in well with each of those teams, be sure to click here.
Finally, Pro Football Talk's Chris Simms gives us one last nugget about Jones: According to Simms, Jones would prefer to be traded to the Titans or Patriots, so those are two teams we should probably keep an eye on going forward.
4. Deshaun Watson to skip OTAs, still wants to be traded
It's been awhile since we've heard anything on the Deshaun Watson front, but as of today, we do have one small update: In news that won't come as a surprise to anyone, Watson won't be attending any of Houston's offseason training activities (OTAs). In more news that probably won't come as a surprise to anyone, Watson still wants to be traded.
Both of those nuggets come from from NFL.com.
With Watson still wanting out while facing 22 lawsuits alleging sexual impropriety, it's highly unlikely that he ever suits up for the Texans again and the team seems to know that. Over the course of the offseason, the Texans added multiple quarterbacks with the expectation that Watson likely wouldn't be on the field (The current quarterbacks are Tyrod Taylor, Jeff Driskel and Davis Mills, who was drafted with Houston's first pick this year).
If you're wondering what's next for Watson, it's very likely he's going to be sitting out until his legal situation gets resolved. The problem for the Texans is that it's going to be difficult to trade him until that happens.
Basically, here are the scenarios that could happen between now and the start of the season:
- Watson gets suspended. The NFL is currently investigating Watson and if the league completes its investigation before the beginning of the season, there's a chance that the quarterback could be hit with a suspension, even if he's never charged with a crime.
- Watson gets put on the commissioner's exempt list. Roger Goodell can place a player on the commissioner's exempt list if the player is being investigated for violating the personal conduct policy. Although Watson wouldn't be allowed to play while on the list, he would still get paid.
- Watson gets traded. This most likely wouldn't happen until the other 31 teams know what his status is going to be for the season. For instance, if Watson gets suspended, that might encourage a team to trade for him because they'd know how long he'll be out and they also might be able to get him at a cheaper price since he wouldn't be on the field the entire season.
- Nothing. This is the most interesting scenario on this list. If the NFL investigation isn't over and Watson still hasn't settled his 22 lawsuits, he would almost be forced to show up to training camp. If he doesn't go, he would potentially face millions of dollars in fines.
Although it's not clear how this is going to play out, it does seem like a situation that the NFL would want to have resolved before the start of training camp in late July.
5. Predicting the Cowboys' final record for 2021
I'm not sure how we did it, but we've officially reached the halfway point of the NFL offseason. The last time there was football came 107 days ago when the Buccaneers beat the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. The next time we'll get real football will come in exactly 107 days when the Buccaneers host the Cowboys to kick off the 2021 NFL season.
To celebrate the halfway point of the offseason, we're going to start making predictions about how each team is going to do this year and since the Cowboys are playing in the NFL opener, we're going to start with them.
Our Patrik Walker went through the Cowboys' entire schedule and picked out all the games they're going to win and all the games they're going to lose. Walker is never wrong -- well he's mostly never wrong -- so his predictions are likely going to be 100% right.
Here's a look at his predictions from three key games:
- Week 1: Cowboys at Buccaneers. "The return of Dak Prescott is a massive leverage gain for the Cowboys, and it does give their offense back their identity that was completely absent when he wasn't on the field. Defensively, however, it's a much different story." Prediction: Buccaneers 27-21 over Cowboys.
- Week 6: Cowboys at Patriots. "Let's assume Julio Jones doesn't link with Bill Belichick in a trade scenario, and without him in the equation, the Cowboys walk into this game with a definitive edge." Prediction: Cowboys 40-17 over Patriots.
- Week 8: Cowboys at Vikings. "No matter how you spin this contest, it should get the juices flowing, and it's one that could also help determine seeding if one or both of the clubs earn their way into the playoffs." Prediction: Cowboys 37-30 over Vikings.
Overall, Walker is predicting that the Cowboys will end the season with a 12-5 record, which might be the most optimistic prediction that anyone makes about the Cowboys this year.
If you want to see Walker's prediction for each game, be sure to click here to check out his entire story.
6. Rapid-fire roundup
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 small roundup for you.
- Antonio Brown finally signs his contract. If you thought Brown already signed his contract, don't worry, you're not going crazy. It was first reported that Brown re-signed with the Buccaneers back on April 28, but that signing never happened because Brown couldn't pass his physical due to a knee injury. Nearly one month later, Brown is now apparently healthy because he signed his one-year deal on Tuesday.
- Joe Burrow is practicing. Six months after tearing his ACL, the Bengals quarterback is already back on the practice field. Burrow was spotted throwing the ball and taking snaps at the Bengals OTAs on Tuesday, which is a good sign for everyone in Cincinnati.
- Texans release Ryan Finley. It's not often you see a team trade for a player and then release him less than two months later, but that's exactly what happened here. Back in March, the Texans sent a late-round pick to the Bengals in exchange for Finley. After drafting Davis Mills in April, that gave the Texans five quarterbacks on their roster, which made Finely the odd man out. The team now has Deshaun Watson, Tyrod Taylor, Mills and Jeff Driskel.
- Melvin Ingram visits Dolphins. One of the biggest free agents left on the market is former Chargers pass-rusher Melvin Ingram. Although he doesn't appear to be in any rush to sign with a team, Ingram did visit with the Dolphins on Monday. Ingram's only other known visit came with the Chiefs and it won't be surprising if he waits until late June or July to eventually sign with a team (That allows him to give his body some rest by skipping OTAs).
- John Elway is upset with the NFL. Remember that time every QB on the Broncos roster had to miss a game because they all had close contact with someone who had COVID? Well, John Elway definitely remembers and he's still upset about the entire situation. Elway thinks the Broncos got hosed over and if you want to read more about his thoughts, be sure to click here.
7. Browns will win one gambler a lot of money if they finish with the worst record in the NFL
After finishing 2020 with their first playoff win since 1994, the Browns are going to have high expectations this year, which is a weird thing to type, because I don't think I've ever written "Browns" and "high expectations" In the same sentence.
Of course, since this is the Browns we're talking about, there's always a chance that they're going to go full Browns in 2021 and fall flat on their face and one gambler is actually making a bet that Cleveland is going to do just that.
A bettor at the Fan Duel SportsBook in New Jersey has bet $700 that the Browns will finish the 2021 season with the WORST record in the NFL. Our Browns-hating friend got 250-to-1 odds on his bet, which means if this happens, he'll will win a cool $175,700.
If there's any team in the NFL that has mastered the art of letting their fans down, it's the Browns, and nothing would be a bigger letdown then Cleveland finishing with the worst record in the NFL. Although I don't think this is going to happen, this is the Browns we're talking about, so there's definitely a chance.