Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
Welcome to the most confusing weekend of the NFL season. It's the first full weekend of preseason football, which is both good and bad. On one hand, I tell myself every year that I'm going to watch every second of every game, but then after the games start, I realize I don't actually want to watch every second of every game. Preseason football is fun to watch for about two quarters, but the second half is almost never exciting since most of the players on the field won't end up making the team.
Speaking of preseason football, we'll be previewing the opening weekend today, plus we'll take a look at the settlement offer that Deshaun Watson is willing to take. With that in mind, let's get to the rundown.
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1. Today's show: Previewing Week 1 of the NFL preseason
The NFL preseason schedule will be going into overdrive this weekend with 14 games being played between today and Sunday. With so many games going on, Will Brinson and I decided to turn Friday's episode of the Pick Six Podcast into a giant preview of what's to come this weekend.
Not only did we go through every game that's being played, but we also covered one or two reasons why you might want to think about watching each game.
Here are my three favorite games of the weekend:
- Browns at Jaguars (+1.5), 7 p.m. ET, Friday (NFL+): I don't know if Deshaun Watson will be playing in this game -- he could be suspended -- but even if he doesn't, it will definitely still be worth watching and that's because Trevor Lawrence will be making his 2022 debut. The Jaguars quarterback had an ugly season last year, but that was with Urban Meyer. For tonight's game, we'll get to see Lawrence working with Doug Pederson for the first time. If Watson is on the field, that could also add some spice to the matchup, but there's no guarantee that's going to happen.
- Packers at 49ers (-2.5), 8:30 p.m. ET, Friday (NFL Network): Although some teams will be sitting their starters during the first week of the preseason, San Francisco won't be one of them. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan has already said that the first-team offense will be playing tonight and that includes Trey Lance. The 49ers have basically already moved on from Jimmy Garoppolo, which means they're betting everything that Lance is going to be a success. There's a lot of pressure on Lance and we'll see whether he can handle it.
- Seahawks at Steelers (-3.5), 7 p.m. ET, Saturday (NFL Network): This is the only game scheduled this weekend where both teams are in the middle of a quarterback competition. With a strong showing, it's possible that we could see either Geno Smith or Drew Lock take a big step toward locking up the starting job in Seattle. As for the Steelers, Mitchell Trubisky will be getting the start, so he'll get the first crack at proving to Mike Tomlin that he deserves to be Pittsburgh's permanent starter in 2022.
Anyway, if you want to hear us discuss every preseason game on the schedule this weekend, you can do that by checking out today's episode on YouTube by clicking here. You can also listen by clicking here.
2. Deshaun Watson now appears open to a settlement: Here's the punishment that the Browns QB would accept
It's been nine daysof the Deshaun Watson decision and in that time, we've heard , but we haven't really heard a peep out of Watson's camp.
Although Watson's side has been conspicuously quiet over the past few days, his camp did leak some major news to the Associated Press on Thursday. Apparently, not only is Watson now willing to settle his case by accepting a suspension, but he's .
- Watson's settlement proposal. If the NFL is willing to settle, Watson is open to an eight-game suspension that would also include a $5 million fine. This is a huge step up from what Watson was previously willing to accept but it probably won't be enough for the NFL.
- Watson already turned down one suspension offer from the NFL. Watson could have put this entire situation behind him if he would have accepted the NFL's original settlement offer that the league put on the table just before Sue Robinson's decision was released. According to ESPN.com, the NFL put a 12-game suspension on the table (along with an $8 million to $10 million fine) as its final offer, but Watson shot that down.
- Why the NFL probably won't accept Watson's proposal. Roger Goodell has made it clear that the league wants to see Watson suspended for at least a year. We also know that the lowest suspension the league was willing to offer was 12 games, so it's unlikely the NFL would even entertain the notion of an eight-game suspension. Also, with the appeal decision being handled by someone Goodell designated, there's no reason for the NFL to settle on Watson's terms because the appeals officer is likely going to make a decision that's closer to what the league wants.
If Watson had offered an eight-game settlement last month, the NFL might have thought about accepting it, but now that the appeal is in the league's hands, it doesn't really make any sense for the NFL to accept it.
3. Biggest takeaways from Thursday night's two preseason games
There were two preseason games played last night and we have takeaways from both of them.
This game, which actually had some excitement, wasn't decided until Graham Gano hit a 24-yard field goal as time expired. Here are three quick takeaways:
- Still no clarity on who's calling offensive plays for the Patriots. One of the biggest mysteries in New England right now revolves around who will be calling plays this season and we got no clarity from last night's game. As a matter of fact, I think things actually got murkier and I think Bill Belichick likes it that way. During the game, the Patriots had BOTH Matt Patricia and Joe Judge calling plays at different points. Following the game, Belichick was asked who would be calling plays once the regular season started and he , "Don't worry about that. We'll work it out."
- Bailey Zappe was zapping the ball around. With Mac Jones on the bench, Zappe got most of the playing time at quarterback on Thursday and he didn't let it go to waste. The Patriots rookie completed 19 of 32 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots also saw multiple receivers come up big in the game, including Tre Nixon, who caught four passes for 81 yards. Zappe connected with Nixon on a perfect 36-yard, back-shoulder play in the third quarter that you can see by clicking here.
- Daniel Jones wasn't bad. The Giants quarterback had to go up against the Patriots' first-team defense and he actually played pretty well. Jones was on the field for two possessions and during those possessions he went 6 of 10 for 69 yards. That included an opening drive where he threw for 42 yards while leading the Giants to a Gano field goal. I'm not going to go out and bet the Giants to win the NFC East, but if you're a Giants fan, you had to be thrilled to see Jones show some promise in his first game with new coach Brian Daboll.
If we learned one thing from this game, it's that Justin Tucker is already in midseason form. The Ravens kicker hit three field goals, including two that came from exactly 47 yards out. Here are three quick observations from the game:
- Malik Willis shows promise in debut. The Titans rookie quarterback got the start on Thursday night and he definitely showed some flashes of what kind of player he could eventually become. Although Tennessee's offense got off to a slow start, Willis eventually got the unit into a groove with two straight scoring possessions in the second quarter. The Titans' only TD of the game came on a 7-yard scramble by Willis. He set up the score by going 2 of 2 for 30 yards on the drive. He also made a crazy sidearm throw at one point that he completed despite the fact that he was rolling left and being rushed (You can see the play here). For more on Willis' debut, .
- Tyler Huntley is unstoppable. If we learned one thing from this game, it's that the Ravens might have the best backup quarterback in the NFL. We got a small taste of Huntley last season when Jackson went down with an injury. In this game, Huntley got the start and he went wild, completing 16 of 18 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. One of the early stars for the Ravens was rookie tight end Isaiah Likely, who caught four passes for 44 yards. For more on Likely's big debut, .
- Ravens extend record-setting preseason winning streak to 21 games. The Ravens already had the record for longest preseason winning streak in NFL history, and now, they've added to that record. Baltimore's win over the Titans marked the 21st straight preseason win for the Ravens. If you want to stump your friends this weekend, just ask them if they can name the last team to beat the Ravens in the preseason and what year it happened (Answer: The Falcons beat the Ravens 20-19 in a game that was played in September 2015. Also, the Ravens only lost that game because they missed a two-point conversion with 40 seconds left)
There are 14 more preseason games being played this weekend and if you see the full schedule of games, you.
4. Browns will consider trade for Jimmy Garoppolo if Deshaun Watson's suspension gets increased
You want more Browns news? OK, let's do more Browns news.
With a longer suspension looking more and more likely for Deshaun Watson, it appears the Browns are now reconsidering their options at quarterback. Although there had been a report from last month stating that the Browns aren't interested in adding Jimmy Garoppolo, it appears the team has now changed its mind on that subject.
- Browns will consider Garoppolo if Watson's suspension gets increased. According to Cleveland.com, the Browns will consider making a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo if Watson's suspension gets increased from his current punishment of six games. CBS Sports lead NFL Insider Jonathan Jones has reported that the Browns are basically in "wait-and-see" mode right now. Basically, they're not going to make a move until they know for sure what's going to happen with Watson.
- Kevin Stefanski seemed to hint at a possible QB move this week. The Browns coach was asked about his team's QB situation this week and although he said he was confident in what he had, he also added that things could change if the situation changes. "We will adjust based on information," Stefanski said of the quarterback situation. "I am comfortable in what Jacoby has done to date with his reps. He has gotten a lot of them. He has gotten some with the ones and some with the twos, and we will stick to our plan absent any new information." If Watson's suspension gets increased, that would definitely qualify as new information, and it would be the kind of information that might make the Browns inclined to make a huge move, like trading for Garoppolo.
- Garoppolo's contract could cause some issues in a trade. According to Jones, one thing that could throw a wrench into a possible trade is Garoppolo's contract. The 49ers quarterback is headed into the final year of his current deal and any team that trades for him would have to be able to absorb his salary, which is scheduled to be $24.2 million in 2022. The Browns could ask Garoppolo to take a pay cut or try to get the 49ers to pay some of it, but both of those options are unlikely. The 49ers have no incentive to pay any of Garoppolo's salary because they can simply cut him before the start of the season and owe him nothing. Garoppolo might be inclined to accept a pay cut to facilitate a deal, but that's no guarantee, either, especially if he thinks he'd be able to cash in as a free agent. He could sign with any team if he got cut, and it's not crazy to think that someone like the Seahawks might be willing to make him a generous offer.
When it comes to money, there is one huge upside for the Browns: They're literally the only team in the NFL right now that has enough salary cap room to absorb Garoppolo's salary. According to Over the Cap, the Browns lead the NFL with roughly $49 million in cap space, which is a wild number when you consider that no other team even has $25 million in cap room.
5. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is mad at the NFL
It's not often you hear an NFL coach openly complain about an NFL rule, but that's exactly what 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan did during a recent radio interview in San Francisco.
Apparently, Shanahan is NOT happy with the fact that the league won't let him wear the hat he wants to wear on the sideline. That's right, not only is the 49ers coach beefing with the NFL, but it's over a hat.
- Shanahan teamed with New Era to create a hat in 2019. Not only did Shanahan help create a hat, but it became an instant hit in San Francisco thanks in large part to the fact that the 49ers went to the Super Bowl during the first season where he wore it.
- Shanahan gets asked if his old hat will be making a return. During an interview with KNBR, the 49ers coach was asked which hat he was going to wear this season and that's when we learned that the hat thing is kind of a sensitive subject right now for Shanahan. "I have such beef with [the league] right now," Shanahan said. "It's a tough issue going on. They won't let me pick out my own one. They won't let me wear any one that's from a different year, so I can't wear an older one."
- Shanahan might not wear a hat this season. Under league rules, Shanahan isn't allowed to wear a hat from a previous year, which means he can't wear his old hat. Instead, he has to wear one that was designed this year, and from the sound of it, he's definitely not thrilled with that. "I've got to wear the new ones that they give this year and unfortunately, there's none I like wearing," Shanahan said. "Hopefully, we can figure it out or wait until Salute to Service."
- This will probably be the final time we hear Shanahan complain about the hat rule. At the end of the radio interview, Shanahan said he's going to keep his future thoughts on the matter to himself because he doesn't want to get fined. "I don't want to go too hard and get fined or anything, but trust me, I'm upset about it," Shanahan said.
I'm going to be honest here, I'm now hoping the NFL fines him, but then I'm also hoping that he pays the entire fine in hats.
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.
- Dolphins trade with Texans gets nixed. The Dolphins and Texans Adam Shaheen, failed his physical. The Dolphins would have gotten a sixth-round pick in return, but that won't be happening now. , but the deal won't be happening because the only player involved in the trade,
- Duane Brown signs with Jets. With Mekhi Becton likely out for the season, the Jets needed to add a quality offensive lineman and they did that by signing Brown. The five-time Pro Bowler inked a two-year deal worth up to $22 million. The only question now is whether he'll play right tackle or left tackle. For a look at what Brown will be doing in New York, .
- Marshawn Lynch arrest video released. The entire situation surrounding Lynch's arrest is pretty wild. When police found Lynch, he was asleep in a parked car that was missing a tire. If you want to see the arrest video, you can check it out over at TMZ.
- NFL to crackdown on roughing the passer calls. There's a chance we might see NFL officials call FEWER roughing the passer calls this year and that's because the league is planning to crack down on bad calls. There have been several calls over the last few years where a QB just gets tapped and the defender gets flagged. The NFL wants to make sure a flag doesn't get thrown on plays like that. For more on the NFL's plan,
- You can see an NFL game for just $3. If you have a few bucks in your pocket, you have enough money to see an NFL game. Tickets to the the Commanders' opening preseason game against the Panthers are going for just $3 on the secondary market. I think this is the part where I'm supposed to joke that even $3 is too much to pay to watch the Commanders.