I have to say, I hope everyone loves quarterback drama, because I'm starting to feel like that's going to be one of the main themes of the offseason. As someone who writes a daily newsletter, I will unashamedly admit that I'm a fan of any drama involving quarterbacks, especially when it's never-ending drama, like whatever's going on with Carson Wentz.
With Wentz now in Indianapolis, you'd think all the drama involving him would be over, but apparently, that's not the case. Wentz called up one of his new teammates over the weekend in hopes of talking him into giving up No. 11 and I'm not going to tell you how that conversation went right now, but let me just say that Wentz probably isn't going to be No. 11 in Indianapolis. Cam Newton also had a drama-filled weekend and let's not forget about Ben Roethlisberger, who has given us his own drama all offseason in Pittsburgh.
We'll be talking about those three quarterbacks and more in today's newsletter, so 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: Mock Draft Monday
From now until the draft starts on April 29, every Monday will be Mock Draft Monday on the podcast. What this means is that we'll be bringing in our draft gurus each week to talk about how they think the draft will play out. This week, that means that we had draft experts Ryan Wilson and Josh Edwards take over the podcast.
One interesting thing about the draft this year is that the evaluation process could get a little complicated due to the fact that several top prospects opted out and didn't play college football in 2020. How will that change things? Wilson and Edwards covered that in the podcast.
Wilson also released his weekly mock draft and you can check out the top-10 picks below. Wilson got a little crazy and included THREE trades in the top 10 (The Bengals traded with the Dolphins, the Falcons traded with the Panthers and the 49ers traded with the Cowboys).
- 1. Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)
- 2. Jets: QB Zach Wilson (BYU)
- 3. Bengals (MOCK TRADE WITH MIAMI): OL Penei Sewell (Oregon)
- 4. Panthers (MOCK TRADE WITH ATLANTA): QB Justin Fields (Ohio State)
- 5. Dolphins (MOCK TRADE WITH CINCINNATI): WR Ja'Marr Chase (LSU)
- 6. Eagles: OL Rashawn Slater (Northwestern)
- 7. Lions: WR Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)
- 8. Falcons (MOCK TRADE WITH CAROLINA): TE Kyle Pitts (Florida)
- 9. Broncos: LB Micah Parsons (Penn State)
- 10. 49ers (MOCK TRADE WITH DALLAS): QB Trey Lance (North Dakota State)
To listen to today's episode -- and to subscribe to the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. NFL Insider notes: Big Ben only has one option if he wants to play in 2021
If Ben Roethlisberger wants to play football this season, he better figure something out with the Steelers, because that's likely his only option this year. In his weekly insider notes, Jason La Canfora took a walk around the league to see who else might be in the market for a soon-to-be 39-year-old quarterback and the answer is no one.
From La Canfora (Click here for the full story):
"Bruce Arians loves Big Ben, but doesn't need another 40-something QB. The Panthers are desperate for a QB upgrade and owner David Tepper saw Ben at his best from his time as a minority owner of the Steelers – but if the Rooneys are blanching at this price tag, no way Tepper sees Roethlisberger as a solution for his QB problem. The 49ers are sniffing around to upgrade from Jimmy Garoppolo, but Ben isn't a fit there.
The Saints are waiting for Drew Brees to retire, but transitioning to another QB nearing the end is not where Sean Payton's mind is. The Bears don't have a starter … but are stuck with Nick Foles. The Dolphins had a 38-year-old around there last year in Ryan Fitzpatrick, and if you want to make the case for them and Big Ben, then I suppose you could, but it's challenging coming up with a natural fit where he could improve a team with some meaningful hopes of competing."
What this means is that the Steelers hold all the leverage here. If Ben wants to play in 2021, he's likely going to accept any offer the Steelers give him and right now, it kind of seems like they either want him to take a pay cut or retire. The Steelers have made it clear his $41.25 million cap number needs to go down, but $22.25 million can't be touched because it's already been paid out. The only number that can shrink is Ben's $19 million salary, which means he might have to accept a lower number if he wants to play next season. If Big Ben retires, it will free up $19 million in salary cap space and based on listening to the Steelers, it sounds like they'd prefer the cap space over bringing Ben back.
The Steelers did pick up some extra cap room on Monday when they converted Cam Heyward's salary into a signing bonus, which means the cap hit can now be spread out over the length of his contract. Thanks to the restructured deal, the Steelers have now picked up $7 million in cap space for 2021.
3. Cam Newton won't be retiring
Roethlisberger isn't the only quarterback who has been contemplating retirement this offseason. After a rough year with the Patriots, there was some speculation that Cam Newton might call it quits, but you can go ahead and forget about that option, because it's definitely not going to happen.
Here are a few nuggets from Cam's busy weekend.
- Cam won't be retiring. During an interview on Brandon Marshall's podcast, Newton was asked if he was going to retire and he was pretty clear with his answer, "Hell no! I can't go out like that. I hear all of that talk. My pride won't allow me to do it," Newton said, via the Boston Herald. "There aren't 32 guys better than me." I think that means Cam is coming back.
- QB says COVID slowed him down. Although Newton struggled last season, he doesn't think 2020 was indicative of what he can still do on the field. As a matter of fact, Newton attributed his struggles to two issues that shouldn't affect him in 2021: He didn't get an offseason with the Patriots and he came down with COVID, "I was one of the first football players to catch it, and it happened so fast," Newton said, via the Boston Globe. "When I came back, that's where the lack of an offseason and the lack of time in the system really showed itself. I was behind and I was thinking too much. The offense kept going and I was stagnant for two weeks. It was all new terminology. I wasn't just trying to learn a system for what it was, I was learning a 20-year system in two months." It will be interesting to see whether teams still feel he has anything left in the tank.
- Kid gets into spat with Newton football event. You're going to have to watch this on video to fully understand what happened, but to make a long story short, Newton showed up at a seven-on-seven football event in South Carolina over the weekend and one of the kids decided to trash-talk him. If you want to see the trash-talking, click here. If you want to see how Cam handled the situation, be sure to click here. If you want to read the kid's apology to Newton, be sure to click here.
Newton has done a good job of staying in the news over the past week. Not only did he have an eventful weekend, but let's not forget about the fact that he did an interview last week where he admitted that he has spent "millions of dollars" on clothes that he's only worn once. My clothes budget is like $75 per year. To check out the story on Newton's wardrobe, be sure to click here.
4. First hint of Carson Wentz drama in Indy?
I'm not saying there's already some drama in Indianapolis with Carson Wentz, but there might already be some drama in Indianapolis with Carson Wentz. Now that Wentz is with the Colts, he has to pick a uniform number and it appears that his favorite number -- 11 -- won't be available to him.
"I am No. 11," Pittman told TMZ over the weekend. "I don't think there's any deal that is gonna be done."
Pittman did say that he's already talked to Wentz about the situation.
"I spoke to [Carson] and he was just seeing how locked in I was to No. 11, and I told him I was locked in -- and he was like, 'That's cool, bro, because I'm probably gonna switch anyway.'" Pittman said.
I'm not sure I buy Wentz's story that he planned to switch, because if that's the case, then why did he even call Pittman? There would be no reason to talk to him about No. 11 unless he was trying to get it.
"He asked me very respectfully and I just appreciated him for that," Pittman said."I think he's a great dude, because lots of guys with his status, they would come in and demand and stuff like that."
This same situation played out last year with Chris Godwin and Tom Brady. Godwin absolutely didn't want to give up No. 12, but eventually he surrendered it to Brady because the quarterback promised he'd win him a Super Bowl. I'm guessing Pittman will not be getting that type of promise from Wentz.
5. Ranking free agent tackles
With free agency starting next month, now seems like a good time to take a look at players who will be available. Since I don't want to overwhelm you by listing every player who will be a free agent, we're going to do this in an organized manner. I'm going to list off the top-10 players by position and today, we're going to go with offensive tackles.
Tackle might not be the sexiest position on the field, but it's definitely one of the most important. Almost every team in the NFL could use an upgrade at tackle and the good news there is that there are going to be a bunch of quality offensive tackles available in free agency. For instance, if the Bengals don't want to get Joe Burrow killed again next season, they could look to sign someone from the list below.
Of the 10 players listed below, only one of them -- Carolina's Taylor Moton -- will likely be hit with a franchise tag, which means the other nine guys will almost certainly be playing for a new team in 2021.
Here's a look at the top 10 offensive tackles heading into free agency along with who they played for last year:
1. Trent Williams (49ers)
2. Taylor Moton (Panthers)
3. Daryl Williams (Bills)
4. Alejandro Villanueva (Steelers)
5. Russell Okung (Panthers)
6. Demar Dotson (Broncos)
7. Mike Remmers (Chiefs)
8. Jason Peters (Eagles)
9. Kelvin Beachum (Cardinals)
10. Ty Sambrailo (Titans)
To check out Jared Dubin's full story on offensive tackles about to hit free agency, be sure to click here.
6. J.J. Watt not in any hurry to sign
It's now been 10 days since J.J. Watt was cut by the Texans and apparently, he seems to be enjoying free agency, because it doesn't sound like he plans to sign with a new team any time soon. If you're wondering how I know that, it's because I follow him on Twitter and I noticed that he answered a very important question about his free agency on Sunday night.
"You wanna sign somewhere or nah?" a fan asked.
"I scroll through DoorDash for like an hour before I pick a restaurant man.... You're gonna have to give me a second to choose a new team and city."
I have never been an NFL free agent, but I have spent more time on DoorDash than any normal human being over the past 10 months, so based on that response, I'd say we have a a minimum of 10 more days before he signs. As we've mentioned multiple times in this newsletter, the Packers, Steelers, Browns, Bills and Titans seem to be the favorites in the clubhouse, but based on Watt's response, he's not going to make a decision any time soon.
One thing that could be holding things up is the salary cap. It's very likely that teams are going to wait until the cap is finalized so they know how much money they can commit to Watt. Also, once the cap is closer to finalized, Watt will have a better idea of how much he should ask for. If you're looking for a date, I think he'll sign in the next two weeks. Watt will definitely want to sign before free agency starts on March 17, because if he waits until after that, teams will start using their money on free agents, which means there might not be as much money left for him.
7. The Kicker: Baby Mahomes has arrived
It's been quite the month for Patrick Mahomes. Not only did he play in a Super Bowl two weeks ago, but he's also a father for the first time after his fiancée, Brittany Matthews, gave birth to a baby girl on Saturday.
The baby's name is Sterling Skye Mahomes and if you want to see the first picture of her -- well, it's a picture of her hand -- you can click here. Mahomes was actually asked about the baby's due date during the week leading up to the Super Bowl and apparently he kindly asked the baby to hold off on being born until after the game.
"We have all the things planned out and every single gadget and tool you can have to be great parents. But at the time I'm trying to tell her to hold off until after the game," Mahomes said in early February.
Although babies never listen to anyone, little Sterling listened to her dad and didn't make her first appearance in the world until 13 days after the game. That will definitely take some sting off that Super Bowl loss.
That being said, if you see Mahomes in any pictures this offseason and it looks like he hasn't gotten any sleep in weeks, that's because he hasn't. My wife and I had a baby in April and I'm pretty sure I've only slept seven hours total over the past 10 months. Speaking of sleep, I'm going to go ahead and end this newsletter now so I can go take a nap. Rule No. 1 of parenting: Always nap when the baby naps.