Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
The best thing about writing a newsletter is that you can write it from any city, and today, I'm writing it from Chicago, where I'll be spending the weekend for my brother's bachelor party. If you're in the area and you see me stumbling around this weekend, be sure to say hi.
One interesting thing about my visit so far is that I got to watch the Bears' win over the Seahawks last night with ACTUAL BEARS FANS, and let me just say, it was quite the roller coaster ride of emotions. The night started off like a depressing group therapy session with most Bears fans seemingly resigned to the fact that the team might not be that good this year. However, after Chicago's 27-11 win, the mood in the bar changed considerably and I'm pretty sure I heard at least one person guarantee that the Bears are going to win the NFC North and I think he might have even talked me into it making that pick. If you want a full recap of the Bears' win -- that may or may not be enough to convince you to pick them to win the division -- be sure to click here.
Alright, that's enough talking about the Bears, let's get to the rundown, where we'll take a closer look at the Deshaun Watson suspension.
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: Breaking down the Deshaun Watson settlement
The biggest thing to happen in the NFL over the past 24 hours was the Deshaun Watson settlement, so that's exactly what we decided to talk about for Friday's episode of the Pick Six Podcast. For today's show, Will Brinson was joined by Tyler Sullivan and the two of them spent nearly 45 minutes talking about the settlement (I also made a guest appearance for the final 15 minutes of the podcast because nothing spices up a podcast quite like a guest appearance from me).
Brinson started off the podcast by giving his opinion on the settlement and his opinion is that the NFL blew it.
"I thought the NFL would push for a much longer suspension," Brinson said. "I think it's pretty disappointing if you are someone who cares about the way that Deshaun Watson acted."
Brinson was also shocked that the NFL gave Watson a suspension that will allow him to play his first game back against the Texans IN Houston.
"The fact that he's coming back in Houston is wild," Brinson said. "If you're the NFL, you have to be like, 'We can't do 11, we have to do 12. We don't want you playing in Houston. We don't want you in Houston. You should banned from Houston.'"
Over the course of the podcast, we talked about: What kind of punishment would have made sense, why the Browns should be happy, who should play QB for Cleveland while Watson is out, how the Browns will do without Watson and much more.
If you want to hear our conversation, then you'll have to listen to today's show, which you can do by clicking here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Deshaun Watson could still get a longer suspension: More details on the QB's settlement
Deshaun Watson's settlement with the NFL might be official, but that doesn't mean things still can't change. Although Watson agreed to an 11-game suspension, he can actually still be hit with an even longer suspension.
So how is that possible?
We're going to cover that and a few other tidbits about the case.
- Watson's suspension can still be increased. When the NFL announced Watson's punishment on Thursday, one key part of the deal was noted by Roger Goodell. "This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan," the commissioner said. According to ESPN.com, the evaluation and treatment plan will be handled by "a third-party behavioral expert" and if Watson wants to get reinstated, he'll have to comply with any recommendations made by the expert. If Watson doesn't comply, "his reinstatement could be delayed," which could lead to a suspension that lasts longer than 11 games. Basically, this might not be over. For more on this situation, .
- How soon Watson can return to the Browns. Even though Watson is suspended, he's still allowed to practice with the team through the rest of the preseason. Watson won't have to start serving his suspension until Aug. 30. After that, he'll be eligible to return to the team facility on Oct. 10 to participate in limited activities. Watson will then be allowed to resume practicing on Nov. 14, a full two weeks before his suspension ends. Watson is also allowed to play in Cleveland's final two preseason games, although don't look for him on the field because Kevin Stefanski announced Thursday that he would be holding the QB out.
- Watson hit with the largest player fine in NFL history. The $5 million fine given to Watson is the largest that the league has ever handed out to a player and the second-largest overall in NFL history. The largest fine ever given went to the Commanders, who were docked $10 million in July 2021 after the NFL ruled that Washington had created a hostile workplace culture that fostered an unprofessional workplace environment, especially for women. If you want to check out the 10 biggest fines in NFL history, .
- Browns comfortable with Jacoby Brissett. With Watson out for 11 games one of the biggest questions in Cleveland is whether they're going to move forward with Brissett as their starter this year. Browns GM Andrew Berry said on Thursday that the team is comfortable with Brissett, but he also didn't rule out adding another QB. I don't think the Browns are enamored with Jimmy Garoppolo, but if they could somehow get him on the cheap, it wouldn't be shocking to see them jump at the opportunity.
- Big odds changes for the Browns. With Watson officially out for at least 11 games, the . Cleveland's win total dropped from 9.5 wins to 8.5, their Super Bowl odds are now at 35-1 (was 25-1) and their odds to win the AFC North are now at 4-1 (was 3-1). Also, the team's chances of winning the AFC have gone from 13-1 to 18-1.
- Tony Buzbee rips Roger Goodell. One person who wasn't happy with the Watson settlement was Buzbee, who represented the 24 women who made the sexual misconduct claims against Watson. "By settling this matter the way he has," Buzbee said in a statement. "Roger Goodell has proven one of two things: either his recent rhetoric was utter baloney, or his bark is much worse than his bite. My belief is that he is nothing more than a paper tiger. The message today to all victims is clear, if you believe you have been sexually assaulted by a powerful person, keep your mouth shut and go away."
In other Watson news, the QB also held a press conference on Thursday where he maintained his innocence. "I'm going to continue to stand on my innocence," Watson told the media. "Just because settlements and things like that happen doesn't mean that a person is guilty for anything."
Based on the fact that Watson doesn't believe he did anything wrong, it will be interesting to see what the third-party behavioral expert asks him to do as part of the treatment plan that the QB is required to comply with. Remember, if Watson doesn't comply, that could lead to a longer suspension, which is why this situation will still be worth watching as we get closer to his return date in late November.
3. Tom Brady's return date is still a mystery
The fact that the Deshaun Watson drama has been dominating NFL headlines for the past two weeks has been good news for the Buccaneers because it has totally overshadowed the fact that TOM BRADY LEFT THE TEAM AND NO ONE SEEMS TO KNOW WHEN HE'S GOING TO COME BACK.
This is a bizarre situation and it.
- Todd Bowles admits he has no idea when Brady is coming back. The Buccaneers coach originally said Brady would be back after Tampa Bay's preseason game against the Titans this weekend, but apparently, that's . "We'll talk about it next week," Bowles said when asked when Brady would return. "Not concerned about it right now. We're trying to practice against Tennessee and play a game. I said 'sometime after Tennessee.' There's no definitive date for me. But we'll check on it, we'll keep in touch and we'll find out."
- Why this is so weird. When the Buccaneers announced that Brady would be taking leave, the team said that it was a planned absence. It didn't make much sense, but this is Tom Brady we're talking about and if he wants time off, you give him the time off. However, the fact that Bowles DOESN'T KNOW when Brady will be returning is at least somewhat alarming. The regular season starts three weeks from Sunday and the head coach of an NFL team has no idea when his starting QB is going to show up.
- Brady timeline. Although Brady showed up for training camp, he hasn't really been around for most of it. He wasn't with the team from Aug. 3 thru 5. After that, he returned for four practices before disappearing again on Aug. 11, which means he's now been away from the team for a total of 11 days and counting.
I have no idea what's going on with Brady, but I'd be at least slightly concerned if I were a Buccaneers fan. This is a team that could be dealing with the loss of up to four offensive linemen this offseason and that's not an ideal number when you have a QB who's halfway to 90 years old. The latest blow to the Bucs offensive line came Thursday with Tristan Wirfs . If he misses any period of time, that would be brutal for a Bucs line that has already lost Ryan Jensen (injury), Ali Marpet (retirement) and Alex Cappa (free agency).
4. NFL Preseason Week 2: One thing to watch in every game
Over the next four nights, there will be 15 preseason games and if you're trying to talk yourself into watching all 15, you don't have to do that because Jeff Kerr is going to do it for you. To preview the second week of preseason play, Kerr came up with one reason why you should watch each game.
Let's check out what he had to say for a few of the upcoming games this weekend.
- Panthers at Patriots (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, NFL Network). "The Panthers and Patriots participated in a training camp fight during the first joint practice Tuesday and kept it going Wednesday. Punches were thrown during the Tuesday practice and a brawl occurred by the stands in the final joint practice Wednesday. A fan was injured in the melee, which was kickstarted after Christian McCaffrey was knocked out of bounds on a running play." I think what Kerr is saying is that we already got two rounds of this fight, so you might as well tune in for Round 3.
- Raiders at Dolphins (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, NFL+). "Will this be the week that Mike McDaniel gives us a small taste of his new offense? The Dolphins offense received a massive makeover this offseason, starting with the acquisition of Tyreek Hill and the free agent addition of Ced Wilson to compliment Jaylen Waddle in the passing game. McDaniel didn't play the starters in the preseason opener and won't reveal whether he's playing the first team offense Saturday. There's been a ton of hype how well Tua Tagovailoa has looked this offseason and in training camp. Perhaps Dolphins fans will get to see him play for at least a series or two."
- Ravens at Cardinals (Sunday, 8 p.m. ET, Fox). "These teams had joint practice this week and the Niners defense had some highlight moments, including George Odum intercepting Kirk Cousins and Nick Bosa, well, doing Nick Bosa things. As expected, how many snaps quarterback Trey Lance gets and what he does with those snaps is something I will be watching for."
If you want Kerr's brief preview of all 15 games,. If you want to know what the full Week 2 schedule looks like for this weekend, you .
5. Aaron Rodgers doesn't sound happy with his receivers
When the Packers decided to trade away Davante Adams back in March, that left Aaron Rodgers with a bunch of mostly inexperienced receivers going into the 2022 season and it seems that inexperience is starting to show.
The Packers quarterback is clearly growing frustrated with his receiving group and he vented some of those frustrations this week.
- Rodgers not impressed with the receivers right now. Here's what Rodgers had to say this week when asked about his receiving group. "The young guys, especially young receivers, we've got to be way more consistent," Rodgers said Tuesday, via ESPN. "A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions, running the wrong route. We've got to get better in that area."
- The one thing that's really bothering Rodgers: Drops. "You keep dropping the ball, you're not going to be out there," Rodgers said. "It's going to be the most reliable guys that are out there. The preparation and the job responsibility is most important. There's going to be physical mistakes, like we've talked about, but if you're going out there and dropping the ball and somebody else behind you is in the right spot all the time and catching the ball, that guy's going to play."
- Rodgers meets with receivers less than 24 hours following his comments. Rookie Romeo Doubs, who was wowing Rodgers earlier in training camp, gave a few details on what took place in the meeting. "Aaron spoke to us about what he likes or what not just based on concepts or what he sees," Doubs said. "He just wants us to see what he sees. So then that way we can be able to react faster, play faster and just be able to dominate and continue to be who we are."
- Packers coach Matt LaFleur appreciates what Rodgers is trying to do. Some coaches don't love seeing a player call out other players publicly, but LaFleur is on board with what Rodgers is doing. "The thing is -- and I appreciate this about Aaron — it's just the urgency to get some of this stuff corrected," LaFleur said, via PFT. "You can't make the same mistake twice, not in this league. We don't have time for it. That's just enough time to get you beat. Certainly, he's the ultimate competitor. And I think it's good for these guys to feel that because we've got to make sure that they continue to show progress each and every day."
Basically, the Packers receiving group isn't where Rodgers wants them to be and he's calling them out now so that they'll be where they need to be by the time Green Bay kicks off its season on Sept. 11. No matter how things play out, the fact of the matter is that Davante Adams caught 123 passes for 1,553 yards last season and it's going to be extremely difficult for the Packers to replace that.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Geno Smith suffers bone bruise
It's been a wild 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.
- Geno Smith injured in Seahawks preseason game. Smith was supposed to play the early part of the third quarter of Seattle's 27-11 loss last night, but that didn't happen Drew Lock is also out right now. Lock is dealing with COVID and according to Pete Carroll, the QB has been "really sick." . If Smith is sidelined for any period of time -- even just a few days -- that could throw a wrench into the Seahawks' QB competition because
- Zach Wilson will be the starter if he's ready. After undergoing surgery this week, Zach Wilson is going to have to have a quick recovery if he wants to start the Jets' opener against Baltimore. Although Joe Flacco would probably love to get a shot at his old team, Robert Saleh made it clear this week that Wilson will be the starter if he's healthy enough to go, "If Zach is ready to play, he's going to be the Week 1 starter. If he's not, Joe will. That's no secret," Saleh said, via ESPN.com.
- Daniel Jones underwent surgery. The Giants QB with the twist here being that Jones claims it had nothing to do with the neck injury he suffered in 2021. "I had a non-football-related procedure done on my neck," Jones said, per ESPN. "I saw there was something about it. It was completely unrelated, but I feel good. (My) neck is great." Neck injuries can be rough, so it will definitely be interesting to see how healthy Jones looks once the season starts.
- Colts admit Shaquille Leonard likely won't be 100% when he returns. The Colts defense might not be at full strength for awhile. One of Indy's best defensive players is Shaquille Leonard (who formerly went by Darius), who hasn't been practicing as he continues to recover from back surgery that he underwent in June. Not only is it unclear when he might return, but even when he does return, he likely won't be at 100%, according to Frank Reich. "I think when he gets cleared, he's not going to be 100 percent and he's going to have to work his way back into it," Reich said, via ESPN.com. That's not great news for a Colts team that should contend for the AFC South title this year.