I didn't live through the Dark Ages -- and that's mostly because I wasn't alive during medieval times -- however, I did live through the NFL's version of the Dark Ages and I am happy to say that those officially came to an end on Thursday!
The NFL scrapped its one-helmet rule, which means each team can now get creative and add a second helmet and what this means is that I'm now expecting a true renaissance of NFL uniform design over the next few years. The one-helmet rule, which was implemented in 2013, kept us from seeing classic throwbacks like Tampa Bay's Creamsicle uniforms and New England's Pat Patriots red uniforms.
Now that the one-helmet rule has been rescinded, I'm hoping that every NFL team acts like the University of Oregon and starts wearing 19 uniform combinations per year. Anyway, we'll have more on the rule change in today's newsletter plus we'll be talking about the Steelers' surprising decision to cut David DeCastro, as well as predicting the Chargers' final record for the 2021 season -- so let's do this and get to the rundown.
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1. Today's show: Ranking the top 10 tight ends in the NFL
If you read this newsletter every day, you've probably noticed that we've been ranking every position group in the NFL over the past few weeks. The man in charge of ranking the top 10 tight ends in the NFL was Jordan Dajani and he joined the Pick Six Podcast on Friday to discuss his list with Will Brinson.
According to Dajani, the top three tight ends in the NFL heading into the 2021 season are:
Of course, Brinson isn't the type of host who wants to focus on the top three. Instead, Brinson decided to grill Dajani about the fact that a ROOKIE made it into the top 10 (Kyle Pitts was ranked at No. 4) while several solid veterans like Jonnu Smith didn't end up making the list.
So how did a rookie crack the top five?
"I based this list not on 2020 stats, but on their outlook for 2021," Dajani explained.
If you want to hear all about the snubs plus Dajani's full explanation for why he ranked a rookie so high, then you're definitely going to want listen to the entire show. If I had hosted the show, I would have spent the entire time asking why Tim Tebow didn't make the top 10, so it's probably a good thing that Brinson was in charge today.
To listen to today's episode -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here. You can also check out Jordan's entire top 10 list by clicking here.
2. NFL scraps one-helmet rule paving way for return of some classic throwback uniforms
Most NFL teams have been keeping their classic throwback uniforms in the closet for the past eight years and that's because of the NFL's one-helmet rule. Under that rule, NFL teams had to pick one helmet for the year and stick with it. Due to that policy, there were many teams -- like the Patriots, Buccaneers and Eagles -- that stopped wearing their throwbacks because their modern helmet didn't match their throwback uniform.
However, that's all going to change in 2022 and that's because the NFL has decided to SCRAP the one-helmet rule. Under the new policy, teams can add a second helmet option starting in 2022, which means any team that wants to take advantage of the new rule can add an alternate color.
Here are a few things to know about the new rule:
- Don't expect any new uniforms until 2023. Any team that wants to add a second helmet will have to make that decision by July 31 of this year even though they wouldn't be wearing it until 2022. That barely gives teams a month to decide, which means most teams probably won't add a second helmet until 2023. Also, all uniform changes have already been locked in for 2022, which means if a team wasn't already planning to wear a throwback, they can't add one at this point. The Buccaneers knew this change might be coming, so they could end up being one of the few teams that ends up wearing a classic throwback, which is good news for everyone, because the Creamsicle uniforms are awesome.
- NFC teams that should take advantage of this rule. Besides the Buccaneers, I'd also like to see the Falcons (black helmet to red), Seahawks (blue helmet to silver), Cowboys (silver to white) and Eagles (midnight green to kelly green) add a second helmet. On the Bucs' end, they currently wear pewter helmets, but they'd switch to white helmets if they wear their Creamsicle uniforms.
- AFC teams that should take advantage of this rule. On the AFC side, the Patriots (silver helmet to white), Broncos (dark blue to baby blue), Titans (dark blue to Oilers blue) and Bills (white to red) better be signing up for a second helmet.
- Teams that can add a twist. Since not every team has a throwback helmet, the new rule could also pave the way for other teams to come up with an alternative look. For instance, the Bengals could embrace the white tiger by wearing white helmets with their white uniforms.
If you want to see a few pictures of the all the changes I want to see, you can check out our full story on the NFL's helmet policy change by clicking here.
3. Steelers cut six-time Pro Bowler and already have his replacement
It's not often you see a team release a long-time starter just five weeks before the start of training camp, but that's exactly what happened on Thursday when the Steelers decided to cut ties with David DeCastro, who made the Pro Bowl six times during his nine NFL seasons. This was an absolutely surprising move and that's mostly because of the timing.
DeCastro showed up at every Steelers offseason workout this year although he wasn't able to participate due to a lingering ankle injury.
So what does this all mean? Let's take a look.
- Major salary cap ramifications. By cutting DeCastro, the Steelers will pick up $8.75 million in cap space. According to the NFL's official transaction, DeCastro was cut with a non-football injury (NFI) designation, which suggests the guard may have aggravated his long-time ankle injury while away from the team's practice facility.
- The Steelers will have a completely revamped offensive line. The Steelers are going to have at least four new starters on the offensive line this year. Besides DeCastro, the team has also had to replace Alejandro Villanueva (left in free agency), Maurkice Pouncey (retirement) and Matt Feiler (left in free agency).
- DeCastro's replacement has already been signed. Although the Steelers are losing their Pro Bowl right guard, they've already got his replacement under contract and that replacement is former Chargers guard Trai Turner. The seven-year veteran is a five-time Pro Bowler who should be a suitable replacement for DeCastro, but that's only if he can stay healthy. Turner missed seven games last year due to a lingering groin injury.
- Retirement might be next for DeCastro. If DeCastro wants to play this year, he's going to have to undergo surgery on his ankle for the third time in his career. His last surgery came prior to the 2020 season and it barely held up. If surgery doesn't make his ankle better, the 2012 first-round pick says he'll probably just go ahead and retire, "I'd have no problem calling it a day and moving on with my life," he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The 31-year-old DeCastro has been one of the best right guards in football over the course of his nine-year career. After being selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2012 draft, DeCastro was used sparingly as a rookie before becoming the team's full-time starter at right guard in 2013.
4. Predicting every game on the Chargers' 2021 schedule
Now that the month of June is here, that means the dead part of the NFL offseason is 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 West by predicting the Chargers' final record.
Our Jordan Dajani went through the Chargers entire schedule and picked out all the games they're going to win and all the games they're going to lose. If you watched the Chargers last season, you may have noticed that they perfected the art of losing close games (seven of their nine losses were by one score).
Was that bad coaching by Anthony Lynn? Will new coach Brandon Staley be able to win close games? Great questions. Let's get to the prediction to find out.
Here's a look at how Dajani sees the Chargers doing in three key games, along with the final record he sees them ending up with:
- Week 1: Chargers at Washington. "Washington's elite defense will provide a tough test for Justin Herbert and Ryan Fitzpatrick has been known to start seasons hot before cooling off. Back in 2018, he became the first quarterback to throw for over 400 yards in three consecutive games -- with those three games being the first three contests of the season." Prediction: Washington 30-24 over Chargers.
- Week 2: Cowboys at Chargers. "Dak Prescott leads an offense that can put up points which means the Chargers defense is either going to have to contain that offensive attack or Herbert is going to have to out-duel one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. This should be a close, fun game, but I'll take the Cowboys." Prediction: Cowboys 35-31 over Chargers.
- Week 3: Chargers at Chiefs. "Justin Herbert almost scored a victory against the Chiefs in his very first start back in Week 2 of 2020. He was incredibly poised for his first game, as he completed 22 of 33 passes for 311 yards, one touchdown, one interception and also rushed for a score in the 23-20 overtime loss. I'm not picking them to win on the road in Kansas City in this game, but stay tuned for the rematch in Week 15." Prediction: Chiefs 30-21 over Chargers.
Yikes. We just went through the first three games of the season and Dajani has them starting 0-3! The good news for Chargers fans is that he does have them getting slightly better over their final 14 games. Overall, Dajani is predicting the Chargers will go 9-5 down the stretch to finish the year at 9-8. Although that's not ideal, not only would that record put them in the hunt for a wild-card spot, but it would also give the Chargers their first winning season since 2018.
If you want to see Dajani's prediction for each game, click here to check out his entire story. Coming on Monday, we're going to start making a run through the NFC South by predicting the final record of the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
5. Ranking the NFL's top 10 kickers for 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, 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.
Today, we're going to be ranking the most important position in football and that position is kicker. Since I spend roughly 60% of my life talking about kickers, I was put in charge of ranking them. If you'd like to tell me how perfect my ranking is, or if you'd like to tell me my ranking is horrible because I didn't rank your favorite kicker, you can let me know on Twitter by clicking here.
Top 10 kickers
1. Justin Tucker, Ravens
2. Harrison Butker, Chiefs
3. Chris Boswell, Steelers
4. Josh Lambo, Jaguars
5. Mason Crosby, Packers
6. Jason Myers, Seahawks
7. Jason Sanders, Dolphins
8. Wil Lutz, Saints
9. Younghoe Koo, Falcons
10. Daniel Carlson, Raiders
If you want a detailed explanation of this ranking, be sure to click here so you can check out my story, which has everything you've ever wanted to know about kickers.
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 has happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Bears receiver trying to make Olympic team. After qualifying for the London Olympics in 2012, Marquise Goodwin is trying to get back to the games. The Bears receiver will be competing in the long jump qualifiers on Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET. If he makes it through that round, he'll be headed to the finals of the U.S. qualifier, which takes place on Sunday. Goodwin finished 10th in the long jump at the 2012 Olympics, so he certainly has the talent to qualify.
- Ex-Phillies player trying to make it to the NFL. Former Phillies outfielder Dylan Cozens has decided to quit baseball to take a crack at football. Cozens actually had a football scholarship to Arizona coming out of high school, but he decided to pursue baseball after he was selected by the Phillies in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft. For more on this wild story, you can click here.
- Golden Tate's wish list. The free agent receiver apparently really wants to play for one of three teams this year and those teams are the Rams, Titans and Colts. Going to L.A. would put him on the team with Jalen Ramsey, which I'm only pointing out, because those two guys actually seem to hate each other.
- Tom Brady finally gets asked about the Aaron Rodgers situation. When it comes to all the drama in Green Bay, Tom Brady didn't offer any advice to Aaron Rodgers about what to do, but the Buccaneer quarterback did say that you need an organization that "buys in" if you want to win a title. Rodgers clearly feels he has a limited Super Bowl window due to his age and he doesn't see the Packers buying in and trying to win, because if you were buying in, you wouldn't trade up to draft a quarterback in the first round. You'd take a player who can help the team win now. Brady didn't say anything wild, but his comments were interesting and you can read them by clicking here.