It's officially holdout season in the NFL!
I've never held out for more money in a contract before, but I might try it sometime if things go well for all the guys who are holding out in the NFL right now. Not only is Patriots star Stephon Gilmore holding out, but the Dolphins learned on Tuesday that Xavien Howard isn't planning to show up for minicamp due to the fact that he wants a new contract. Seahawks safety Jamal Adams also might be holding out for a new deal (although there has also been at least one report suggesting that he's skipping minicamp to deal with a family situation).
On one hand, holding out can sometimes work, like it did for Aaron Donald in 2018. On the other hand, a holdout can also turn into an absolute disaster, like it did for Le'Veon Bell, who sat out the entire 2018 season and hasn't been the same player since. Bell is now the poster child for why you shouldn't hold out (and also for why you shouldn't make rap videos if you're not very good at rapping).
Alright, that's enough holdout talk, let's get to the rundown. As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. To sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share the link.
1. Today's show: Minicamp roundup
With mandatory minicamps in full swing around the NFL this week, we decided to spend Tuesday's podcast rehashing everything that's happened in the NFL over the past 24 hours and since there's always something happening, there was no shortage of news to talk about.
Here are a few of the topics we touched on during the show:
- Stephon Gilmore: The Patriots star is skipping minicamp and all three of us agreed that we would do the same thing if we were him. Gilmore is underpaid (he's scheduled to make just $7 million for 2021), he's coming off a somewhat serious injury (partially torn quad) and the Patriots spent the past six months using him as trade bait. If I was in that situation, I wouldn't show up for minicamp either. It feels like this situation will eventually end with a new contract or Gilmore getting traded. If you want to know where he might end up, you can check out our landing spots story by clicking here.
- Trevor Lawrence: The Jaguars QB is dealing with some hamstring tightness this week and because of that, I have some simple advice for the Jags: Don't let him anywhere near a football field. Wrap him in bubble wrap, then wrap him in the large bubble wrap bubbles that Amazon uses, then tell him to he shouldn't be hanging out with anyone in Jacksonville for the next month except for the team trainers. Lawrence still needs to learn the offense and it will be a lot easier to do that if he's 100% healthy at training camp.
- Le'Veon Bell: Bell has thrown his career away and apparently he's now trying to blame things on Chiefs coach Andy Reid. Bell said he would rather retire than play for Reid again, which was an interesting choice of words, considering retirement might be his best option right now. I mean, Todd Gurley has drawn more interest than Bell this offseason, which says all you need to know about how NFL teams feel about the former Steelers running back.
To listen to today's episode -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. Your daily Aaron Rodgers update
At this point, I feel like it would probably be easier to start an entire newsletter that's just about Aaron Rodgers, but until that happens, you're going have to deal with daily updates in this newsletter.
Today's update comes from former Packers receiver James Jones, who has basically been serving as Rodgers' unofficial spokesman over the past few weeks. During an appearance on NFL Network this week, Jones was asked about Mark Murphy's comments last week where the Packers CEO referred to Rodgers as a "complicated fella."
Jones' answer came with some good news and some bad news. First up, the good news. Jones says everyone should RELAX and not look too much into the comments.
"Listening to Mark Murphy talk, I am not reading into it too much. I'm pumping my brakes. I am relaxing," Jones said. "Don't read too much into it. I know Mark personally. Mark loves all his players. And, yes, this situation is complicated because you're dealing with a guy who wants certain things, you're dealing with an organization who wants some things and you're trying to come together as one to get this thing fixed."
So what's the bad news? The quote below.
"I have a great relationship with Aaron Rodgers," Jones said. "Nothing has ever been complicated about (our) relationship. So when you do have a relationship with him, no, it is not complicated."
If things aren't complicated when you DO have a relationship with Rodgers and things ARE complicated when you DON'T have a relationship with Rodgers, this would seem to imply that Murphy doesn't have a relationship with Rodgers and if the Packers CEO doesn't have a good relationship with his star quarterback, this means the drama might drag out until the start of the season.
3. Vikings make two major moves on the defensive line
I'll be honest, when it comes to the NFC North this offseason, I almost forgot the Vikings existed. Between the Bears drafting Justin Fields, the Aaron Rodgers situation in Green Bay and the fact that the Lions traded Matthew Stafford, the Vikings just haven't been making that much noise. However, they definitely made some noise over the past 24 hours and they did it by fixing some things on their defensive line.
Let's take a look at their two moves:
- Re-worked Danielle Hunter's contract. The Vikings defensive end was expected to skip mandatory minicamp, but he had a change of heart this week after the team restructured his contract. The deal didn't add any new money for 2021, but there are two major upsides for Hunter. Under the new deal, Hunter will get $5.6 million of his 2021 salary up front as a signing bonus (Under his old contract, he had a $12.15 million salary for 2021, but none of it was guaranteed so now he gets at least $5.6 million and he'll get more if he is on the roster for the entire season). The other upside to the contract for Hunter is that it now includes an $18 million roster bonus that's payable on the fifth day of the league year in 2022. This basically means that if the Vikings want to keep him after this season, he's going to get a huge raise (His old contract had a $500,00 roster bonus for 2022).
- Vikings add Sheldon Richardson. Not only did the Vikings get a deal done with Hunter, but they also signed former Jets first-round pick Sheldon Richardson to a one-year deal worth up to $4.35 million. The 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Richardson is returning to Minnesota after spending the 2018 season with the Vikings.
With the addition of Richardson, the Vikings defensive line now features some major upgrades in the form of four players who didn't play a single down for the team last year: Danielle Hunter (injured), Sheldon Richardson (2021 free agent signing), Dalvin Tomlinson (2021 free agent signing) and Michael Pierce (Opted out in 2020 due to COVID).
4. Predicting every game on the Bengals' 2021 schedule
Now that the month of June is here, that means the dead part of the NFL offseason is almost upon us and although things can get kind of boring during that period, we're going to keep things spicy around here by going through and predicting every game on each team's 2021 schedule.
There are 32 teams and we'll be doing one team per day until we make it through every team. Today, we're going to finish our run through the AFC North by taking a closer look at the Cincinnati Bengals.
As the resident Bengals homer here at CBSSports.com, I was put in charge of picking every game on their schedule and I still haven't figured out if that was a good idea or a bad idea to have me pick their games.
Did I go full homer and put them in the playoffs? Did I have them go 17-0? Let's get to the schedule prediction and find out.
First, here's a look at how I see the Bengals doing in three key games:
- Week 1: Vikings at Bengals. "This is a perfect opener for the Bengals. With Burrow likely making his return to the field, the Bengals get to face a very beatable team at home. Burrow's mouth should be watering at the thought of going up against a Vikings team that had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL last year." Prediction: Cincinnati 27-24 over Minnesota.
- Week 11: Bengals at Raiders. "The Raiders had a bad defense last year and it doesn't feel like they did much to improve things this offseason. The Raiders surrendered the third-most points in the NFL in 2020 and I won't be surprised if this is a game where Tyler Boyd, Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins all explode for huge numbers, especially with the Bengals getting an extra week to prepare thanks to their Week 10 bye." Prediction: Cincinnati 34-31 over Las Vegas.
- Week 17: Chiefs at Bengals. "It really feels like the only way the Bengals will be able to win this game is if the Chiefs are resting their starters because they've already clinched the top seed in the AFC, but I don't think that's going to happen, which means the Bengals defense is going to have its hands full with Kansas City's starters." Prediction: Kansas City 34-24 over Cincinnati.
Overall, I have the Bengals finishing at 9-8, which might not put them in the playoffs, but it will put them solidly in the hunt to earn their first postseason berth since 2015. Last year, I predicted the Bengals would go 7-9 and although I was slightly off, I still feel good about the prediction. If Joe Burrow doesn't get hurt, I think they would have finished with six to eight wins and I'm not sure if I just pointed that out because I'm trying to convince you or myself that they can actually go 9-8 this year.
If you want to see my prediction for each individual game, be sure to click here.
5. Ranking the top 10 quarterbacks heading into 2021
As you may or may not have noticed, we love to rank things here at CBSSports.com and because of that, we thought we would spend the next few weeks ranking every position group heading into the 2021 season.
From running backs to receivers to quarterbacks to kickers, we're going to be ranking everyone and since there's a zero percent chance that you're going to agree with each ranking, I'm going to be sharing the Twitter handle of each author so you can argue with them about their ranking on social media.
For our first ranking of the offseason, we're going to start with the top 10 quarterbacks heading into to 2021. This list was put together by Cody Benjamin and if you'd like to tell him how perfect it is, or if you'd like to argue with him you can do that by clicking here.
Top 10 quarterbacks
Not surprisingly, Patrick Mahomes is at the top. On the other hand, if anyone got snubbed, it was probably Ryan Tannehill or Matthew Stafford. If you want a detailed explanation of the ranking, be sure to click here so you can check out Cody's entire story. By the way, if you need more Cody in your life, you'll be getting it tomorrow because he'll be writing Wednesday's newsletter!
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 roundup for you.
- Xavien Howard likely to hold out. The Dolphins star corner didn't show up for minicamp this week and it sounds like the team knows exactly why he isn't there. Coach Brian Flores said the holdout is over a "contract situation," which means Howard might not show up for anything, including training camp, until he gets a new deal.
- Jamal Adams expected to skip minicamp. The Seahawks are also dealing with a contract-related holdout. According to multiple reports, Jamal Adams plans to skip minicamp and stay away from the team until he gets a new deal. However, as I mentioned at the top, there has also been at least one report suggesting that he's skipping minicamp to deal with a family situation.
- Jalen Ramsey recruiting Stephon Gilmore. Stephon Gilmore isn't a free agent, but he's already being recruited. After news broke this week that Gilmore would be skipping New England's minicamp, Ramsey jumped on Twitter and did his best to try and recruit Gilmore to Los Angeles.
- Chiefs star might be switching positions. Chris Jones has spent his entire career as a defensive tackle, but it sounds like the Chiefs are thinking about making him an EDGE rusher this year. Here's what Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had to say about the situation, "He is an imposing player inside," said Spagnuolo, via ESPN. "We all know that. ... Hopefully, we will gain something on the edge. When somebody changes a position, obviously the first part of it is the mental part of it. Chris is working through that. That's important when you change a position." Jones switching spots is not good news for opposing offensive tackles.
- Raiders taking a beating from Vegas heat. If you've ever been to Vegas in June, you know how hot it can get. Apparently, someone forgot to tell the Raiders, who didn't plan for the heat when they put their minicamp schedule together. Due to the excessive heat, which is expected to get up to 115 this week, the Raiders have rescheduled things and will now be starting all their minicamp practices at 7:30 a.m.
- Kyle Shanahan says Jimmy Garoppolo is the starer right now. Trey Lance might end up being the starting QB in San Francisco, but right now, it sounds like the job belongs to Jimmy Garoppolo. In a conversation with The Athletic's Tim Kawakami, Shanahan said that it's Jimmy's job to lose, "I definitely see it as Jimmy's the starter," Shanahan said. "But if Trey's ready to compete, I have no problem with it. I don't sit there and say, 'Hey, we're not playing a rookie quarterback.'"