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If you hate preseason football, then I have some fantastic news for you today: The final week of preseason games is here. On the other hand, if you love preseason football, then I have some bad news for you: The final week of preseason games is here.    

Things went by so fast that I'm not sure which was shorter: This year's preseason or Tim Tebow's time with the Jaguars.  

To celebrate the final week of the preseason, we'll be taking you into the weekend by covering every possible angle of all 16 games being played. However, since it might be overkill to devote the entire newsletter to just preseason games, we'll also be unveiling our All-AFC West team and covering the Saints' quarterback decision. 

We have a jam-packed newsletter today, so let's get to the rundown. 

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1. Today's show: Previewing the final week of the preseason


With the final week of the preseason officially upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to use Friday's episode of the podcast to run through EVERY preseason game being played this weekend. I can't say this for a fact, but I'm pretty sure this is the most extensive preview of preseason games that's ever been done on a podcast. 

Besides going through every preseason game being played this weekend, we also dove into a few other topics. 

One big question we asked on today's show had to do with Trevor Lawrence: Has he been the worst rookie QB in the preseason? 

Ryan Wilson says yes, but with a catch: He doesn't think it's Lawrence's fault. He thinks the Jaguars offense looks lost thanks in large part to Darrell Bevell, Urban Meyer and a bad offensive line. 

"A lot of these [rookies] on different levels are having success, but Trevor is not," Wilson said. "It's not his fault. If you put Mac Jones on this Jaguars team, he's being taken off the field on a stretcher, Trey Lance is running for his life. The good news for Trevor Lawrence is that he's big and strong so he can absorb these hits, but again, we're two weeks into this thing, it's only preseason, he's not going to make it to Week 7or 8 if this keeps up." 

I also think that Lawrence has been the worst, but I don't think it's necessarily fair to give him that label because he hasn't been playing on a very even playing field compared to the other rookies. Of the five first-round quarterbacks, Lawrence and Zach Wilson are the only ones who have been consistently been playing against their opponents' first-team defense. Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones have been seeing a lot of second and third quarter action, which has allowed them to play against "easier" competition. 

Besides talking Lawrence and previewing the preseason games, we also debated whether the Broncos made the right call by going with Teddy Bridgewater

To listen to today's episode -- and to subscribe to the best daily NFL podcast out there -- be sure to click here

2. Jameis Winston wins Saints' starting QB job

For the first time since 2005, Drew Brees won't be the Week 1 starter in New Orleans. After a training camp battle that went on for nearly a month, the Saints have finally found Brees' replacement in the form of Jameis Winston (Trivia: Can you name the Saints Week 1 starting QB from 2005? Answer at the bottom of this section). 

According to multiple reports, Saints coach Sean Payton has informed his team that Winston will be the starting QB in Week 1 when the Saints host the Packers

Anyway, this was the right decision for the Saints. If you watched either of their preseason games this year, Winston simply outplayed Taysom Hill

Here are a few nuggets on Winston:

  • Winston likely won the job against Jacksonville. Winston was named the starter for the Saints' second preseason and I'm guessing he won over Sean Payton with his performance against the Jaguars. In the 23-21 win, Jameis went 9 of 10 for 123 yards and two touchdowns and he did all of that in less than one quarter of action. 
  • Winston could now earn a lot of extra money. Although Winston is only scheduled to make $5.5 million in salary this year, he can make another $7.5 million incentives and since he's the starter, those will now be much easier to hit. The easiest ones to hit? Winston will get $1 million if he throws for more than 3,500 yards and he'll get another $1 million if he throws 25 or more touchdown passes. He'll also get a $58,823 roster bonus for every game where he takes at least 50% of the snaps, which means he could pocket another $1 million if he reaches that number in all 17 regular season games. 
  • Looking back at Winston's 2019. The last time Winston was a starter came two years ago and the only thing most people remember is that he threw 30 interceptions, which obviously isn't ideal. However, Winston did put up other big numbers that year: Not only did he lead the NFL in passing yards (5,109), but he also ranked second in touchdown passes (33). Basically, if Payton can get Winston to cut down on the interceptions, he might have a star in the making. 

I'm not saying LASIK should be the official sponsor of the Saints this year, but I'm pretty sure the only thing that's changed about Winston since his 30-interception season in 2019 is the fact that he underwent LASIK eye surgery. Their new motto should definitely be, "If we can get Jameis Winston to stop throwing interceptions, imagine what we can do for you."

(Trivia answer: Aaron Brooks)

Excited for the biggest NFL schedule in history? Follow along on the CBS Sports app and get the latest insights from our team of NFL insiders, plus news from our team of experts, as well as data insights on every player. If you already have the CBS Sports app, make sure to favorite the your favorite team so you don't miss a thing!

3. Preseason Week 3: Things to watch for this weekend


The NFL is only playing three preseason games this year, which means after just three short weeks, we've already reached the final week of the preseason. With that in mind, let's take a quick look at what's on tap for the weekend. Here's a schedule of games plus my recommendation for which games you should focus on since you probably won't have enough time to watch them all. 

One thing I will say is that trying to recommend games this week isn't easy and that's because some coaches are treating it like a preseason finale (where you bench all your starters) and some are treating it like Week 3 of the preseason (where you give your starters extensive playing time). Under the old four-week format, coaches sent their starters out in Week 3 and then benched everyone for the Week 4 finale. With only three weeks this year, not every coach is treating the final week of the preseason like they did in the past.  

Colts at Lions (7 p.m. ET, Check local listings)
Eagles at Jets (7:30 p.m. ET, Check local listings)
Steelers at Panthers (7:30 p.m. ET, Check local listings)
Vikings at Chiefs (8 p.m. ET, NFL Network)

If you can only watch one of these four games tonight, I'd definitely go with Eagles-Jets. If you haven't yet gotten a chance to watch Zach Wilson, you're definitely going to want to see him in action. Jets coach Robert Saleh said earlier this week that he's planning to play Wilson, although he could certainly change his mind. Of course, that game might not be available to you locally and if that's the case, then you'll be stuck with Vikings-Chiefs, which isn't actually the worst thing in the world. If you watch that game, there should be a little bit of excitement and that's because Andy Reid has already said that his starters will play at least the first half. 

Packers at Bills (1 p.m. ET, NFL Network)
Cardinals at Saints (1 p.m. ET, Check local listings -- game time changed from 8 p.m. due to Hurricane Ida)
Ravens at Washington (6 p.m. ET, Check local listings)
Bears at Titans (7 p.m. ET, NFL Network) 
Buccaneers at Texans (8 p.m. ET, Check local listings)
Rams at Broncos (9:05 p.m. ET, Check local listings)
Chargers at Seahawks (10 p.m. ET, NFL Network)

If you want to ignore your family and watch football all day then this is the perfect slate of preseason games for you. The early game between the Packers and Bills is worth checking out and that's because Josh Allen is scheduled to see his first action of the preseason. In the Ravens-Washington game, you might not see many starters, but you could see history get made. If the Ravens beat Washington, they'll set an NFL record with their 20th straight preseason win. In the Bears-Titans game, Justin Fields will finally be playing with the first team, which makes that game must-see TV, if only for the first half. The only game after that worth watching is probably Chargers-Seahawks and that's only because Seattle's starters, including Russell Wilson, are expected to see some action

Jaguars at Cowboys (1 p.m. ET, NFL Network)
Dolphins at Bengals (4 p.m. ET, CBS)
Raiders at 49ers (4 p.m. ET, NFL Network)
Patriots at Giants (6 p.m. ET, NFL Network)
Browns at Falcons (8 p.m. ET, NBC)

If you're only going to watch one game on Sunday, make sure it's the one on CBS (and I'm not just saying that because I work for CBS although that is an added bonus). The game between the Bengals and Dolphins will feature the preseason debut of Joe Burrow, who hasn't taken a single snap since tearing his ACL back in November. In the Patriots-Giants game, we'll have an old-fashioned "Keeping up with Jones" situation as Mac and Daniel are both expected to play. For Daniel Jones, this week's game will mark his 2021 preseason debut. On Mac's end, it's possible he could earn the starting QB job with a stellar performance. 

Note: That is not a typo on the Sunday schedule. The Raiders-49ers game and Patriots-Giants game will be overlapping on NFL Network, according to their official schedule. I'm not sure how they're going to handle that, so you'll have to tune-in to find out. 

If you want to know everything that's going down this weekend, Bryan DeArdo came up with one reason why you should watch each game. You can click here to read that, but I have to warn you, Bryan's arguments are so convincing that if you do click over, there's a good chance you'll be watching every game being played this weekend. 

4. 2021 All-AFC West team

After seven days of unveiling our all-division teams, we're finally down to our last one: The AFC West. Our Jared Dubin went through all four rosters in the division to create one Super Team that consisted of 27 players (12 on offense, 12 on defense plus three special teams) and in news that probably won't surprise you, the Kansas City Chiefs ended up producing the most all-division players with 10. 

With that in mind, let's take a look at the offense for the AFC West's all-division team:

QB: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
RB: Austin Ekeler, Chargers
WR: Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
WR: Keenan Allen, Chargers
WR: Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
TE: Travis Kelce, Chiefs
FLEX: Darren Waller, Raiders
OT: Bryan Bulaga, Chargers
OT: Orlando Brown, Chiefs 
OG: Joe Thuney, Chiefs
OG: Graham Glasgow, Broncos
C: Corey Linsley, Chargers

One interesting thing about the offensive side of the AFC West's all-division team is that three of the five offensive linemen didn't even play in the division last year (Corey Linsley, Joe Thuney and Orlando Brown). Also, none of the five played in the division two years ago as Bryan Bulaga and Graham Glasgow both joined their teams in 2020. 

One thing that might surprise you about the 27-member all-division team is that the Broncos produced the second most players with eight. As for the other two teams, the Chargers had seven players while the Raiders had just two (Darren Waller and linebacker Nicholas Morrow). 

If you want to see the defensive side on the AFC West's All-Division team or if you want to see the specialists, then be sure to click here

5. Who will be the first non-QB to make $30 million per year? 


Earlier this week, it was reported that Steelers star T.J. Watt will likely be getting a new contract before the start of the regular season, which means if that deal is going to happen, it's likely going to go down at some point next week. 

If Watt lands a monster extension, there's a chance that he could become the first non-QB to hit the $30 million per year mark. Right now, the closest player is Joey Bosa, who signed a contract in July 2020 worth $27.1 million per season. 

Former NFL agent Joel Corry thinks the first $30 million guy will either be Watt or 49ers pass-rusher Nick Bosa (Between Nick and Joey, the Bosa family is going to be set financially for the next 700 years after Nick signs). 

  • Why Watt could hit $30 million: "Watt can make a legitimate case for $30 million per year. He led the NFL with 15 sacks and 23 tackles for loss last season. Watt's 42.5 sacks over the last three seasons are second only to Donald's 46.5." With his new deal, Joey Bosa got an 8% increase over the next highest-paid defensive player and if the Steelers do the same thing with Watt, that would get him to $29.5 million. 
  • Why he might fall short: "The Steelers could certainly use a franchise tag next year on Watt should he play out his rookie contract. The NFL and NFLPA recently agreed to a salary cap ceiling of $208.2 million for 2022. Next year's linebacker franchise tag should be 9.024% of the 2022 salary cap. At the $208.2 million ceiling, the 2022 linebacker number projects to $18.788 million." Watt would be a bargain at $18.788 million. 
  • Why Nick Bosa could hit $30 million: The upside of Bosa is that his new deal is going to come after Watt's so he's going to be able to use Watt's number as his floor. When Nick Bosa's new contract gets done, the 49ers will almost certainly make him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, so if Watt doesn't get to $30 million, Bosa will be able to piggyback off Watt's number to get there. 

For a full look at Corry's story, be sure to click here

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. 

  • NFL proposes weekly tests for vaccinated players. Right now, vaccinated players are only tested once every two weeks, which is an issue, because if a player comes down with COVID one day after their test, they'd be walking around their practice facility for 13 days potentially spreading COVID and no one would know. The NFLPA has to approve all testing changes, so there's no guarantee this new policy will be implemented.  
  • Panthers land kicker in trade with Giants. Panthers kicker Joey Slye has been struggling so far this preseason, so Carolina has decided to bring in some competition for him. The Panthers added Ryan Santoso in a trade with the Giants. The Giants will be getting a conditional seventh-round pick in the deal that they'll only receive if Santoso actually plays for the Panthers this year.  
  • Quenton Nelson and Eric Fisher placed on COVID list. Both of these players were projected to be starting offensive linemen for Indy, and now, not only are they both dealing with injuries, but they're also both on the COVID list. 
  • Veteran offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski retires. The 32-year-old announced his retirement on Thursday after 10 NFL seasons. Wisniewski's career started in 2011 when the Raiders selected him in the second round of the NFL Draft. The interior lineman spent time with five teams over the course of his career (Raiders, Eagles, Jaguars, Chiefs, Steelers). 
  • Patriots trade for Ravens corner. The Ravens have decided to ship off rookie Shaun Wade to the Patriots. In exchange for the corner, the Ravens will receive a 2022 seventh-round pick and a 2023 fifth-round pick from New England. Wade was a fifth-round pick this year (160th overall). 
  • Cowboys restructure Ezekiel Elliot's contract. The Cowboys created nearly $7 million in salary cap space on Friday by re-doing Elliot's deal. Dallas converted $8.6 million of Elliott's $9.6 million base salary into a signing bonus, which created $6.88 million in cap space. The Cowboys now have roughly $12.6 million in cap room heading into the regular season. 
  • Philip Rivers is now 1-0 as a high school head coach. The former NFL coach won his first game at the high school level on Friday night in Alabama. Rivers and his St. Michael Catholic team beat McIntosh 49-0. He now has almost as many career coaching wins as Zac Taylor.