Welcome to the Thursday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

Normally, this is the part where I babble through an introduction, but we don't have time for that today because there's so much to cover. 

From James White's retirement to Tom Brady's mysterious absence from Buccaneers training camp, there's a lot going on around the NFL. Oh, and let's not forget that the Browns just named Deshaun Watson the starter for a game that he might not even be allowed to play in. 

We'll be covering that and more today, 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. Let's get to the rundown. 

1. Today's show: Predicting the winner in each QB battle

May 23, 2022; Renton, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Jacob Eason (17), quarterback Geno Smith (7) and quarterback Drew Lock (2) talk while walking to the locker room following an OTA workout at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. USATSI

With less than a month to go until the start of the NFL season, there are still three teams out there who aren't quite sure who their starting quarterback is going to be. Those three teams are the Panthers, Steelers and Seahawks, and since all three teams are still undecided about who to start at QB, Will Brinson and Tyler Sullivan decided to make those decisions for them on Thursday's episode of the Pick Six Podcast. 

The two guys went through each of the QB battles and then made a prediction on who's going to win each one. Right now, the battle that's probably the most difficult to predict is the one going on in Seattle between Geno Smith and Drew Lock

So who's going to win? Glad you asked, because we have a lot to unpack here. 

For one, Sullivan thinks that Seattle's starting quarterback might not even end up being one of those two guys. 

"I'm waiting [on making a prediction] in this quarterback competition until we find out what happens with Jimmy Garoppolo," Sullivan said. "I'm waiting to just kind of solidify my opinion on this battle, because if all of a sudden Jimmy Garoppolo gets cut, then everyone is pointing to the Seahawks and saying, 'He's an immediate upgrade over Smith and Lock. It makes no sense not to go get him now that he's free from the San Francisco 49ers.' For me, it's just kind of a holding pattern."

Brinson definitely liked the idea of Garoppolo as the possible starter in Seattle. 

"He has a higher ceiling than Geno and a higher floor than Drew Lock," Brinson said. 

That being said, both guys agreed that the only way Garoppolo will end up in Seattle is if the 49ers cut him because there's no way San Francisco would trade the QB to a division rival. 

Of course, Brinson also pointed out that it might not matter who the Seahawks' starter is because Pete Carroll is likely planning to win this year by playing classic Pete Carroll football. 

"Pete Carroll wants to shrink football games, play good defense, run the football and try and steal victories in close one-score games," Brinson said. "He is recreating the 2011 Seahawks formula. Now, they went 7-9 that year, so maybe it's not a great plan."

The Seahawks did lose five games in 2011 by six or fewer points, and if they had won just three of those games, they would have gone 10-6, so maybe Carroll is planning to go full 2011. 

Anyway, if you want to hear the two guys predict who will win each QB battle, you can do that by checking out today's episode, which you can do on YouTube by clicking here. You can also listen by clicking here.

2. Deshaun Watson update: Why the Browns QB might not be able to play Friday even though he was named the starter

The Cleveland Browns made a big announcement Wednesday when they revealed that Deshaun Watson would the starting quarterback for the team's opening preseason game on Friday against Jacksonville. 

Although Watson has been named the starter, it's very possible he won't end up playing in the game. Here's a the latest on Watson's situation: 

  • Browns name him the starting QB for Week 1 of the preseason. Even though he's currently suspended for the first six games of the season, Watson is still eligible to play in preseason games. The Browns are trying to take advantage of that by getting him on the field as soon as possible. 
  • Why Watson might not play despite being named the starter. If the NFL's appeal leads to a longer suspension for Watson, there's a chance he won't be allowed to play. When a player is suspended for at least a year, that usually means they're not allowed to participate in preseason activities, including games. However, if Watson is suspended for less than a year -- let's say he gets hit with a 12-game suspension -- then he would still be allowed to play Friday. 
  • The NFL wants him out immediately. According to Pro Football Talk, if Watson gets suspended for at least one year, the league wants to see the suspension implemented immediately. This is notable, because there's some confusion about whether Watson would be allowed to play Friday if he gets a suspension of one year or more. As we noted above, players generally AREN'T allowed to play in the preseason if they're suspended for an entire year, but as noted by ESPN, that only applies to suspensions for PEDs or gambling. It's not clear if this would apply to a suspension for violating the personal conduct policy, which is why things could get interesting if Watson's suspension gets extended at any point before the Browns kick off on Friday. 

If the NFL wants any chance of keeping Watson off the field, they're going to need appeals officer Peter C. Harvey to render a decision at some point in the next 24 hours. 

3. Week 1 preseason preview: Two games going down on Thursday night  

Bill Belichick USATSI

After getting a small taste of the NFL preseason with the Hall of Fame game last week, we're getting an even bigger taste tonight with two games on the docket. Since there are only two games, we're going to go ahead and preview them both by pointing out one thing you should be watching out for tonight. 

Giants at Patriots (7 p.m. ET, NFL Network)

  • Who will call offensive plays for the Patriots? According to ESPN, most of the Patriots starters won't be playing tonight, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be paying attention to what they're doing on offense. One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Patriots this offseason is who's going to end up calling offensive plays. With Josh McDaniels now in Las Vegas, the job is wide open and Bill Belichick has refused to reveal who the play-caller will be. Belichick can't keep the identity of the play-caller a secret forever and it's possible we'll get a hint tonight at who the play-caller will be (The odds on favorite right now is Matt Patricia). 
  • What does Daniel Jones look like? The Giants quarterback is going into the biggest season of his career. The Giants didn't pick up his fifth-year option, which means he has one season and one season only to prove to new coach Brian Daboll that he can be New York's franchise QB. Jones is expected to play at least a quarter against the Patriots, which means the first quarter could definitely be worth watching in this game. 

Titans at Ravens (7:30 p.m. ET, NFL+)

  • Can Treylon Burks replace AJ Brown? The Titans have a completely revamped receiving group this year, and if it's going to be successful, they're going to need a big season from Burks, their first-round pick from April. Burks doesn't have to be as good as Brown, but the Titans need him to show some sort of spark, if only so the receivers can take at least a little bit of pressure off of Derrick Henry this year. 
  • Can the Ravens keep their NFL-record 20-game preseason winning streak alive? The Ravens haven't lost a preseason game since 2015 and they'll be gunning to keep that record alive tonight. Basically, the Ravens are the only team worth betting on in preseason football. Even though Lamar Jackson likely won't be playing, the Ravens still have Tyler Huntley, who is a very capable backup. One reason the Ravens do so well in the preseason is because John Harbaugh actually wants to win, which can't be said about every other coach in the NFL when it comes to preseason games. 

We'll go over the full preseason schedule for the weekend in tomorrow's newsletter, but if you want to check it out right now, you can do that by clicking here

4. Patriots running back James White surprisingly announces retirement

After eight seasons in the NFL, White has decided to hang up his cleats for good. The running back announced his retirement on Thursday in a shocking move that came less than seven hours before the Patriots were set to kick off their first game of the preseason. 

  • White made the announcement on social media. The running back released a lengthy statement on Twitter. "It has been an honor to represent my family, my teammates and the people of New England as a Patriot!" White said in a statement. "Thank you to Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick, and the entire Patriots organization for giving me the opportunity to live out my childhood dream. To be able to play my entire career for one franchise, in front of the best fans in the NFL, has been a tremendous blessing and honor." You can read the entire statement by clicking here
  • White was arguably the MVP of Super Bowl LI. The running back was the Patriots hero in Super Bowl LI, playing a huge part in their comeback win over the Falcons. Not only did he total 139 yards (110 receiving and 29 rushing), but he also scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime. Besides that TD, White also scored on a one-yard run with less than a minute to play that tied the game at 28. The running back also caught a five-yard touchdown in the third quarter that cut the Falcons' lead down to 28-9. 
  • His retirement ends a very successful career. White ended up in New England after the Patriots made him a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. During his eight seasons with the team, he ended up winning three Super Bowl rings. He also played a pretty big role in New England's postseason success with at least four receptions in five different playoff games. 

White finishes his career with 1,278 yards and 11 touchdowns to go along with 3,278 yards and 25 touchdowns through the air. 

5. NFL expected to add a Black Friday game as soon as 2023


When it comes to the sports calendar, the NFL already owns Thanksgiving. Now the league is going to try to own the day after Thanksgiving. According to the Sports Business Journal, the NFL will soon be adding a Black Friday game to the schedule, and the game could be added as soon as the 2023 season. 

Here's what we know

  • Amazon would get the game. The tech company is paying A LOT of money to exclusively air "Thursday Night Football," but they don't get any of the Thanksgiving games, which will air on CBS, Fox and NBC. With Amazon being the odd man out on Thanksgiving, that left them without a game that week, which opened the door for a Black Friday game. Black Friday is one of Amazon's biggest days of the year, and if just a small percentage of the people shopping on their website that day end up watching the game, that could lead to huge numbers for the NFL.  
  • Why the NFL is doing this now. According to Peter King of NBC Sports, owners passed a resolution back in March that "gave the NFL permission to schedule two more teams for a second short-week game." Basically, this means that the league has cleared the biggest hurdle for scheduling a game. With the resolution, the NFL is now allowed to add a short-week Friday game to the schedule. 
  • Special rules for Friday games. Under the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, the NFL isn't allowed to televise any games on Friday or Saturday from the second weekend in September thru the second weekend in December. (Those two days have been earmarked for high school and college football.) However, there is a small exception here: Under the current antitrust exemption rules, the NFL is ALLOWED to schedule a Friday game as long as it's over before 6 p.m. local time. This means the NFL will have a lot of leeway when scheduling a game. They could put it at 1 p.m. ET, or if they want more of a primetime audience, they could schedule it for 2:30 p.m. on the West Coast so that it kicks off at 5:30 p.m. ET, which would still allow it to be over before 6 p.m. local time. 

Although we don't yet know if Amazon will be getting a Black Friday game in 2023, the game will definitely be coming soon. It's just a matter of whether it will happen in 2023 or 2024.

6. Rapid-fire roundup: Tom Brady's mysterious absence continues

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. 

  • Tom Brady to miss at least 10 days. For the third time in eight days, Tom Brady is not at practice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he's not expected to be back anytime soon. Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles announced that Brady will be out until after the team's second preseason game on Aug. 20. That means Brady won't be around for at least the next 10 days. According to the team, this is an excused absence that's related to personal reasons. Over the past eight days, Brady has missed practice three times, with one coming on Aug. 3 (veteran's day off), one on Aug. 5 (excused) and one on Aug. 11. For more on Brady's mysterious absence, be sure to click here
  • N'Keal Harry having surgery. The Bears receiver, who sprained his ankle last week, has decided to undergo surgery. The operation means that Harry will be out for at about eight weeks, and it could end up being more depending on how his recovering goes. 
  • Lions give out Matthew Stafford's number. The Lions went one year without giving out Stafford's old number, but that will be changing this season because rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams will be wearing No. 9. According to ESPN, Williams actually reached out to Stafford to make sure he was on board with the rookie's choice.  
  • Frank Gore charged with simple assault. The former NFL running back has been charged with simple assault after an alleged domestic violence incident that occurred last month in Atlantic City. According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Gore "grabbed a naked woman by her hair and dragged her across a hotel room's hallway." For more details on the case, be sure to click here
  • Bears kicker not thrilled with field conditions at Soldier Field. The NFL season hasn't even started and the turf at Soldier Field is already falling apart, at least according to Bears kicker Cairo Santos. "I've seen better," Santos told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's just what we have to deal with. The less of a problem you make it in your mind, it helps you overcome it and just go."