When the month of February started, this was a daily newsletter about everything in the NFL, but I'm pretty sure it has now turned into a J.J. Watt update forum, because I'm starting to feel like giving Watt updates is all I do here anymore, so I'm guessing it won't surprise you to learn that we have ANOTHER Watt update today.
Although I could easily spend the entire newsletter dissecting Watt rumors and his mysterious tweets from this week, I'm not going to do that, because there are plenty of other important things to talk about. For instance, will Drew Brees ever announce his retirement? Was Tom Brady's injury more serious than the Buccaneers let on? Is Russell Wilson actually going to GET TRADED?
All of that is 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. Tell everyone you know to sign up and then ask them to tell everyone they know.
1. Today's show: NFC North deep dive
With free agency just around the corner, we'll be spending the next few weeks doing a deep dive on each NFL division and for Thursday's podcast, that meant jumping head first into the NFC North. This episode featured Will Brinson returning to the host's chair after a three-day hiatus. I have no idea what Brinson was doing for the past three days -- for all I know, he could have been in jail -- but the important thing is that he's back and for this episode, he was joined by CBSSports.com NFL writer Jordan Dajani.
Over the course of the 40-minute episode, the two talked about offseason needs for the Lions, Vikings, Bears and Packers. Detroit has a new coach (Dan Campbell) and a new quarterback (Jared Goff) and pretty much needs help across the board and since biting off kneecaps isn't a proven method of winning games in the NFL, Campbell is going to need to win the offseason by making some smart moves.
In Minnesota, the Vikings have some pieces in place but could use a boost at all three levels of their defense. As for the Bears, they have a looming decision to make on the future of Mitchell Trubisky and the two debated whether Chicago should keep him. The NFC North conversation winded down with Green Bay. Both guys agreed that the Packers are in a good spot, but they're going to need to make some key moves if they want to get over the hump after two consecutive NFC Championship Game losses.
To listen to today's episode -- and if you're a fan of any team in the NFC North, you will definitely want to -- be sure to click here.
2. Friction between Russell Wilson and Seahawks continues to grow
On Super Bowl Sunday, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora released a shocking story about Russell Wilson that suggested the quarterback might end up getting traded this offseason. In the two weeks since that report, things have only gotten uglier between Wilson and the Seahawks with the quarterback going on an all-out media tour where he made it clear that he's not happy with the way things are going in Seattle.
Although the Seahawks have been quiet about everything so far, there was an interesting story in The Athletic on Thursday that doesn't look good for either side. According to the story, Wilson "stormed out" of a meeting with his coaches because he was unhappy that they wouldn't listen to him.
From The Athletic:
"Before the Thursday night game against Arizona, Wilson met with his coaches. For some time, Wilson has sought -- even pushed -- for influence within the organization regarding scheme and personnel. In the meeting, he outlined his own ideas for how to fix the offense. His suggestions were dismissed, multiple sources told The Athletic -- another reminder to Wilson that the Seahawks did not see him the same way he saw himself, as a player who had earned greater control over his situation, his future, his legacy. He stormed out of the room."
Wilson wants to have more say in the offense and the power to make personnel decisions and it's pretty clear the Seahawks don't want to give him either of those things, which seems to be a big reason why there's such a large rift between the two sides. As the dirty laundry continues to come out, it seems more and more likely that we could end up seeing Wilson get traded, which is something that once seemed unimaginable.
Things have gotten so ugly that Wilson's camp has "broached potential trade destinations" with the Seahawks and the teams they've talked about are the ones La Canfora gave us on Super Bowl Sunday: the Raiders, Dolphins, Jets and Saints. Sean Payton might make Brees retire if he thinks he can land Wilson in a trade.
3. Tom Brady to be sidelined for months after knee surgery
One thing that got lost in the frenzy of the Buccaneers Super Bowl parade is that less than 24 hours after the parade was over, Bruce Arians announced that Tom Brady would be undergoing "minor" surgery on his knee to clean things up. Although Arians didn't make things sound too serious, it seems the surgery might have been slightly more than a clean up and that's because Brady is expected to be sidelined for at least four months, if not more.
That timeline comes from Arians, who said on Wednesday that he doesn't think Brady will be back on the field until June.
"I think he's probably looking [at] somewhere around June, right now, from what I hear," Arians said.
On one hand, the fact that Brady is going to miss the entire offseason isn't that big of a deal. During his final few years in New England, the quarterback regularly skipped OTAs and voluntary minicamp so that he could spend more time with this family. Also, Brady might not end up missing anything at all and that's because there's no guarantee that OTAs and voluntary minicamp are going to happen this year. After all, both were canceled last year due to the pandemic.
That being said, if I'm the Buccaneers, I'm at least mildly concerned that my soon-to-be 44-year-old quarterback just had a surgery that's going to sideline him for four or five months. Of course, Brady is probably just going to view this as another challenge to overcome and respond by winning four more Super Bowls.
Oh, and most importantly here, the timeline from Arians could explain a random tweet that Brady sent out earlier this week.
"Soooo what am I supposed to do for the next 5 months?"
Although it might not be related to what Arians said, it would certainly make sense if that's the case. Brady knows he's going to he stuck rehabbing his knee for the next few months, which means there isn't going to be much for him to do, so he's crowd-sourcing ideas for how he should spend his time. I suggest watching "Umbrella Academy."
4. J.J. Watt has received multiple offers: Three teams in the lead for his services
WATT WATCH DAY 15: I probably shouldn't have sworn off showering until J.J. Watt signs a new contract, because this is starting to get out of hand. It has now been just over two weeks since J.J. Watt was cut by the Texans and instead of looking for a new team to play for, he's tweeting about mitochondria. Watt also tweeted about napping today, so maybe that means he's sleeping on his decision today and will make it soon. I have no idea, Twitter has turned me into one of those crazy people who tries to look for hidden messages in tweets even though there are probably no hidden messages in the tweets.
Although Watt's free agency tour is moving at a snail's pace, it is moving and we have two updates for you today.
- Three front-runners for Watt's services: As of today, the three teams leading the pack to land Watt's services are the Packers, Titans and Bills. That news comes from NFL Insider John Clayton. That doesn't mean other teams are out of it, it just means those are the front-runners. Clayton also mentioned that the Raiders -- THE RAIDERS -- could be a dark horse candidate to land Watt.
- Watt has received multiple offers: According to ESPN.com, Watt has received contract offers from multiple teams with those offers ranging from $15 million to $16 million per year in value.
It wouldn't be surprising if Watt's camp leaked those numbers as a way to let other teams know what kind of offers he's working with right now. This could be a situation where a team Watt doesn't necessarily want to play for has offered $16 million and Watt's camp is putting that out there so that his front-runner teams know what kind of price it's going to take to land him.
5. Ranking free agent linebackers
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 players by position and today, we're going to go with linebackers.
This year's free agent class of linebackers isn't exactly loaded, but there are definitely some huge names that would help any defense in the NFL and the biggest one of all is Lavonte David. Losing David would be crushing for the Buccaneers, so you can bet Tampa Bay will do its best to keep him.
With that in mind, let's check out Jared Dubin's list of top free agent linebackers.
1. Lavonte David (Buccaneers)
2. Jayon Brown (Titans)
3. Matt Milano (Bills)
4. K.J. Wright (Seahawks)
5. Robert Spillane (Steelers)
6. Denzel Perryman (Chargers)
7. Patrick Onwuasor (Jets)
8. Todd Davis (Vikings)
9. Jarrad Davis (Lions)
To check out Dubin's full story, be sure to click here.
6. Drew Brees retirement questions continue
DREW BREES RETIREMENT WATCH DAY 147 (That's not actually the day, I've just lost count).
Three weeks ago, Saints coach Sean Payton jumped on the Pick Six Podcast and said that Brees' retirement decision would be coming in the next "week or two."
We are now one week past that deadline and so far, there has been no indication on what Brees might do. Apparently, Brees hasn't even let his teammates know about his future plans and we know that because Alvin Kamara seemed like he was just as in the dark as the rest of us when he was asked about the situation this week.
"As far as his career goes and retiring or playing still, a lot of people ask me that and I just say, 'Drew's going to take his time and make the best decision for him,'" Kamara told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, via SI.com. "He's a legend. He's definitely going to go down as one of the greatest."
My theory is that Brees was planning to retire, but then he saw a 43-year-old man win the Super Bowl and now, he's having second thoughts. Brees just turned 42 and if a guy older than him -- WHO PLAYS IN THE SAME DIVISION -- can win it all, then Brees probably figures returning for one more year wouldn't be that crazy, especially since his Saints swept the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers during the regular season. My guess is that if Brees retires, it happens by the end of next week, but if we don't hear anything by then, I'd say that means he's inching closer to a return. Either way, this won't drag on much longer because the Saints will need to know his decision before free agency starts on March 17.
7. The Kicker: John Harbaugh buys dinner for everyone
If you were at Jimmy's Seafood Restaurant in Baltimore on Tuesday night, you didn't have to pay for your meal and that's because John Harbaugh decided to pay for every single tab.
The Ravens coach was at the seafood joint for a fundraiser that Jimmy's owner John Minadakis was holding so he could raise money for Baltimore area bars and restaurants that are struggling due to the pandemic. At the end of the meal, Harbaugh's wife, Ingrid, threw out an idea and suggested that the Ravens coach pay for everyone and Harbaugh was all in.
Although it's not clear what the total cost was, Baltimore's WJZ-TV reported that the Harbaughs ended up spending at the least $2,000. The moral of the story here is that you should always go out to eat on Tuesday nights because an NFL coach might be eating at the same restaurant as you and they might pick up your tab.