Hiya, everyone. Had enough time to recover from Fourth of July festivities yet? We know at least one person is still acting like it's the holiday weekend, and that's Aaron Rodgers, who doesn't seem any closer to reporting to work for the Packers. We've got more on that in today's roundup of NFL news, which I -- Cody Benjamin -- am proud to provide as John Breech takes a weekly breather.
This is the Pick Six Newsletter. Now let's get to it. (And please, do yourself a favor and make sure you're signed up to receive this newsletter every day! You don't want to miss our daily offerings of everything you need to know around the NFL.)
We've got an update on Rodgers, free agent predictions, a Bears record projection and much more:
- Today's show: Ideal landing spots for top remaining free agents
Most teams are done making major shakeups to their rosters ahead of the 2021 season, but that doesn't mean there aren't a handful of big names still up for grabs in free agency. Tyler Sullivan joined Will Brinson on Wednesday's Pick Six Podcast to identify possible landing spots for the top veterans still available. Some highlights:
- Both guys think Le'Veon Bell could be out of work entirely, but Sully likes the Saints as a potential suitor with New Orleans likely to lean on the ground as it introduces a new quarterback. Brinson thinks the Cardinals could be a fit as well.
- Speaking of former star running backs, Sully sees Todd Gurley as an ideal No. 2 for the Chargers, behind Austin Ekeler.
- As for defensive veterans, Sully thinks Melvin Ingram makes sense as a pass-rushing addition for the Rams, who are all in on winning this year; and has the Cowboys as an ideal destination for Richard Sherman.
Catch the entire episode -- and follow the podcast for all kinds of daily NFL talk -- right here.
2. Aaron Rodgers drama: QB refuses to commit to a Packers return
We all knew Rodgers' Tuesday appearance on the latest edition of "The Match," the celebrity golf series, wouldn't pass without someone asking him about his Packers future -- which, if you haven't noticed by now, is very much in question. Sure enough, the reigning MVP got a couple of playful inquiries while mic'd up on the course, and he refused to commit to returning to Green Bay.
Asked if anyone will be quarterbacking in the No. 12 jersey for the Packers against the Bears in 2021, here's what Rodgers said: "Yeah, I don't know, we'll see. We'll see, won't we?" Asked a follow-up about who'd be under center on Sept. 12, the date of the Packers' opener: "What's that one? ... I don't know, we'll see."
Either Rodgers is content to keep toying with the Packers, who've publicly and privately refused to entertain trade inquiries for the star QB, or he's actually serious about moving on -- or both. In any event, this feud doesn't seem to be nearing its conclusion.
3. Three teams that helped and hurt their QBs the most in 2021
As Aaron Rodgers is making painfully clear, it matters how teams accommodate (or fail to accommodate) their QBs. So Bryan DeArdo combed through every team's offseason to identify which ones did the best and worst jobs at helping their signal-callers. Here's an overview of the results:
Three teams that helped their QBs the most:
- Bengals: Added OL and WR help for Joe Burrow
- Giants: Surrounded Daniel Jones with play-makers
- Titans: Got Ryan Tannehill another star WR
Three teams that hurt their QBs the most:
- Packers: May have offended Aaron Rodgers to the point of losing him (!)
- Seahawks: Settled for mid-tier WR and OL additions
- Saints: Didn't address lack of WR depth
4. Predicting Bears' final record, every game on 2021 schedule
All offseason, we've been projecting each team's entire 2021 schedule. We're now down to our final team of the 32-part series, which you can check out in its entirety right here. Last but not least: the Chicago Bears, who've got a hot new QB in Justin Fields. Here's how Jordan Dajani sees Chicago's entire 2021 slate playing out -- some key game picks, plus a final-record prediction:
- Week 8 vs. 49ers: Here comes a major turning point in the season. The 49ers are a solid team when healthy -- no matter if that's with Jimmy Garoppolo under center or rookie Trey Lance. ... The 49ers have a stout defense that can disrupt teams, and here's where (Andy) Dalton begins to falter. The Bears lose in poor fashion at home, as the fans begin to chant for Fields, who will get his first official start next week. Bears lose 24-6.
- Week 11 vs. Ravens: The Bears and their fans are chomping at the bit for another win, and they create a raucous atmosphere for Lamar Jackson and the visiting Ravens. Everyone is there to get their first look at Fields at home, and he doesn't disappoint. Chicago pulls an upset win here, but it's really the defense that gets the credit for shutting down Jackson and J.K. Dobbins. Bears win 26-24.
- Week 18 at Vikings: The Bears got to the playoffs last year with eight wins, but will that be good enough in 2021 with the extra game added? It could be close, but I say no. I do think Chicago gets that eighth win with Fields, though. Bears win 25-17.
Final record prediction: 8-9
5. Divisional power rankings: NFC West up top, NFC East on bottom
Which of the eight divisions is packing the most firepower going into 2021? And which one is bound to disappoint? John Breech ranked every quartet from worst to first, with explanations and projections for each. Here's how he sees it:
8. NFC East
7. AFC South
6. NFC North
5. NFC South
4. AFC East
3. AFC West
2. AFC North
1. NFC West
"If there's one division in the NFL where it feels like any of the four teams could end up in a conference championship game," Breech writes, "it definitely feels like (the NFC West)."
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Pats WR requests trade, ex-Falcons GM starts show
Hungry for more NFL news? Good. Here are a couple other nuggets to fill your tummies:
- N'Keal Harry requests trade: The former first-rounder has been a near-non-factor in New England.
- Navy grad going to Bucs camp: Cameron Kinley gets permission to compete, after all.
- Derek Carr wants to recruit Davante Adams: After beating the Packers in the Super Bowl first (yes, you can laugh).
- Thomas Dimitroff starting TV show about GMs: The ex-Falcons GM is making an "unfiltered" series.