Apparently, everyone in the NFL knew I was coming back from vacation today, because that’s the only way to explain why we have so much crazy news on a random Monday in May.
For those of you who forgot about me, I’m John Breech. I wasn’t here last week because I was on a beach in Florida where I spent 50% of my time trying to keep my 13-month-old daughter from eating sand and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. That being said, I didn’t realize that babies love to eat sand. Why didn’t someone tell me?
While I was out, Cody Benjamin became commander of the ship and I would like to commend Cody on a job well done. I thought for sure that he would burn the place down or at least attempt a coup to take over the newsletter for good, but neither of those things happened. Instead, Cody crushed it all week.
Even though my vacation is over, we’re still going to be talking about vacations today and that’s because Aaron Rodgers is in HAWAII, which is notable, because the Packers started OTAs today and their OTAs ARE NOT in Hawaii. Also, Julio Jones made a big stir on Monday morning and we’ll be covering it all in today’s rundown.
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1. Today’s show: Bonus mailbag!
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During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week by adding a listener mailbag every Friday and during the dead of the offseason — aka right now — we’ll sometimes throw in a bonus mailbag.
Our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I think we once spent 10 minutes debating the best condiment (I hate all condiments, so I sat out the question). Anyway, if you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review.
Today’s mailbag was recorded while I was still on vacation, which means you’ll only be hearing Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson answer questions (with a special guest appearance from our producer Eric DeBerardinis).
Here’s a small sample of the questions:
Who has the most under-appreciated QB season ever? Even though I wasn’t on the show today, I’m going to answer the question anyway. My vote would go to either Daunte Culpepper (2004) or Matthew Stafford (2011). In 2004, not only did Culpepper lead the NFL with 4,717 passing yards, but he also finished second on the team in rushing with 406 yards. Not to mention, he totaled 41 touchdowns (39 pass and 2 rush). Everyone forgot about Culpepper, though, because Peyton Manning won MVP that year thanks in large part to the fact that he threw 49 TD passes.
As for Stafford, he threw for more than 5,000 yards in 2011, but he picked a bad year to do it and that’s because two other quarterbacks threw for more (Drew Brees and Tom Brady). To give you an idea of how preposterous that is, just consider this: There have only been 12 instances in NFL history where a QB threw for 5,000 or more yards and THREE of them came in 2011. The crazy part is that none of the three won MVP and that’s because the award went to Rodgers, who had one of the most efficient seasons in NFL history (Due to Rodgers winning, Brees’ 2011 season could also probably be considered under-appreciated).
What current head coach do you guys relate to the most?
Brinson: “The two for me that I think fit are either Sean Payton or Bruce Arians.” I vote Bengals coach Zac Taylor for Brinson. He always seems in over his head.
Wilson: “I wish I could say I was Kliff Kingsbury, but I’m probably closer to Mike Zimmer in terms of my temperament. Breech is Pete Carroll: He’s incredibly upbeat about everything and he probably wears white sneakers with slacks.”
I actually wore white sneakers with slacks on the beach last week. I think Ryan is stalking me.
To listen to today’s show — and to follow the podcast — be sure to click here.
2. Julio Jones rumors heating up
If Julio Jones’ goal for the weekend was to create as much trade drama as possible, let me just say that I think he might have succeeded. Although I’m not sure where Jones is going to end up, I can tell you for a fact that he’s not going to be staying with the Falcons and that’s because he made it clear that he wants out of Atlanta. During an interview on FS1’s “Undisputed,” Jones said “I’m out of there” when he was asked about his future with the Falcons.
So where does that leave us? Let’s take a look at a few teams that may have entered the Jones sweepstakes over the weekend.
- Patriots: According to NBC Sports Boston, Jones wants to be traded to the Patriots so that he can team up with Cam Newton. The thing that makes that report even spicier is that fact that the Patriots have apparently had internal discussions about making a deal for Jones, according to NFL.com. If the Patriots do add Jones, it would be the biggest move they’ve made at receiver since trading for Randy Moss in 2007.
- Titans: The Titans are one of several teams that have been mentioned as a possible trade destination and one big reason for that is because Falcons new coach Arthur Smith spent 10 years with the Titans before being hired by Atlanta this offseason. Smith will definitely be answering the phone if the Titans call. Jones also sparked some speculation himself over the weekend when he was seen in an Instagram video working out with Derrick Henry. Also, Titans star A.J. Brown has said he would be willing to give up No. 11 if the team makes a deal for Jones.
- Cowboys: Jones was apparently in Dallas over the weekend and he was clearly trying to spark as many trade rumors as possible because how else do you explain the fact that he was wearing a COWBOYS HOODIE. You can see a picture of Jones in his Cowboys out fit by clicking here. Of course, Jones also kind of said he doesn’t want to play for the Cowboys, so we can probably rule them out.
- Cardinals: Let’s also throw Arizona into the rumor mill and that’s because DeAndre Hopkins let his 650,000 Twitter followers know on Friday that he would be willing to restructure his deal to help the Cards land Jones.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora also put together a list of the trade destinations that would make the most sense for Jones. JLC’s list of six teams includes the Ravens, 49ers, Patriots, Chargers, Titans and Eagles. To check out La Canfora’s full explanation for why Jones would fit in well with each of those teams, be sure to click here.
By the way, if/when a trade does happen, don’t look for it to take place until June 1 at the earliest. The Falcons need the deal to go down after June 1 so that they can save some cap space. If Jones gets traded before June 1, the Falcons would take on a $23.25 million cap hit, but if the deal comes after June 1, then they can spread out the hit over two years with $7.75 million in 2021 and $15.5 in 2022.
If you’re wondering how much it might take for a team to land Jones in a trade, the Falcons are apparently asking for a first-round pick in exchange for their star receiver, according to ESPN. CBS Sports NFL senior writer Jonathan Jones believes the Falcons will get at least a second-round pick in the deal and he explains why here.
3. Aaron Rodgers OTA update, plus Madden simulation
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The Packers kicked off Phase III of their offseason training activities (OTA) on Monday and surprise, surprise, Rodgers wasn’t in attendance. Just kidding, it wasn’t a surprise at all. Not only is he still beefing with the team, but pictures surfaced over the weekend of Rodgers in Hawaii and, I mean, would you rather spend a week on a tropical island with your fiancée or in Green Bay?
The one notable thing about Rodgers skipping OTAs is that he’s never skipped OTAs before, which seems to prove he’s definitely still at odds with the team.
Since a trade is absolutely still possible, Will Brinson decided to do a Madden simulation of the 2021 season that incorporated Rodgers. Basically, Brinson took all the notable trade candidates and played out the 2021 season as if Rodgers was their starting quarterback.
So how did this all play out? Glad you asked. One quick note here, Brinson’s Madden game hasn’t been hit with the update for the 17th game, so the simulations were limited to a 16-game season.
- Broncos. This ended up turning into a disaster with the Rodgers leading the Broncos to a 6-10 record.
- Raiders. Things didn’t get much better for Rodgers in Las Vegas. With Derek Carr out of the picture, Rodgers led the Raiders to an 8-8 record.
- Saints. OK, this is just getting ugly. After going 8-8 with the Raiders, Rodgers did even worse with the Saints, going 7-9.
- Dolphins. What happens if you dump Tua and send Rodgers to Miami? Um, it turns into a disaster as Miami went 6-10 in Brinson’s simulation.
- Panthers. The only team that improved with Rodgers was the Panthers, who went 12-4, but ended up losing in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The gigantic twist here is that the Packers actually played BETTER without Rodgers. In three of the five simulations, Jordan Love ended up leading Green Bay to the Super Bowl. In the simulation where Rodgers played for the Raiders, Love and the Packers ended up winning it all by beating the Ravens 34-29. What I think Brinson’s simulation is trying to say is that it might be in the Packers’ best interest to trade their star quarterback.
4. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks appear to have made up
With all the NFL drama centered around Julio Jones and Aaron Rodgers right now, it’s easy to forget about everything that happened with Russell Wilson this offseason. Just three months ago, things got so ugly that Wilson’s agent actually made a list of four teams that he wanted to see the Seahawks call and try to make a trade with (and in case you forgot, those four teams were the Bears, Cowboys, Raiders and Saints).
If there was any bad blood between the two sides, it appears to have died down. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Wilson was “very happy” about several moves the Seahawks made this offseason.
“I was told Russell Wilson was very happy with the moves Seattle made to get guard Gabe Jackson, tight end Gerald Everett, they got a receiver in the draft,” Fowler said. “And so, I’m told Pete Carroll behind the scenes heard Russell Wilson and understood his frustrations. So, he tried to keep an open line of communication with him over the last few months.”
According to Sports Illustrated, although things are better, they’re still not perfect with Wilson viewing the 2021 season as “I’m here now, and I’m going to make it the best it can be.”
The SI report doesn’t exactly paint a rosy picture. It basically sounds like Wilson is resigning himself to the fact that he HAS to play in Seattle this year and that we could see more drama next offseason. If Wilson still isn’t completely happy, things could also get interesting if the Seahawks struggle to start the season. Wilson has shown that he’s not afraid to speak out, so it wouldn’t be surprising to hear him call out the coaching staff if the Seahawks fall flat on their face coming out of the gate to start the year.
5. Rams have youngest roster in the NFL; Buccaneers and Patriots have two of the oldest
Someone once said that “football is a young’s man game” and although I’m not sure who said it, I’m guessing it was someone old. In 2020, that mantra proved to be true as four of the NFL’s five youngest teams all ended up winning 10 or more games. Of the NFL’s five oldest teams last year, only two of them ended up winning 10 or more games (Saints, Titans).
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the NFL’s five oldest and five youngest teams. According to this list, which was compiled by Andrew Walker of Colts.com, the Rams have the youngest roster in the NFL.
Five youngest rosters
1. Rams (24.62 average age)
T-2. Panthers (24.74 average age)
T-2. Vikings (24.74 average age)
4. Jaguars (24.80 average age)
5. Jets (24.82 average age)
Five oldest rosters
1. Texans (26.37 average age)
2. 49ers (26.33 average age)
3. Cardinals (26.08 average age)
T-4. Patriots (26.07 average age)
T-4. Buccaneers (26.07 average age)
The Buccaneers being one of the league’s oldest teams shouldn’t come as a huge shock since I’m pretty sure their number is single-handedly propped up by the fact that they have Tom Brady, who is somehow still playing football at age 43.
The crazy thing about this year’s list is that I won’t be surprised if four of the five oldest teams end up making the postseason. Also, I won’t be surprised if just one of the five youngest teams makes the playoffs.
6. Rapid-fire roundup
Credit: Icon Sportswire / Contributor
It was a somewhat busy weekend in the NFL and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a small roundup for you.
- Bradley Chubb out of OTAs. The Broncos pass-rusher is done for the spring after recently undergoing a minor ankle procedure. Chubb is expected to be back on the field when the Broncos start training camp in late July.
- Dak says he’s healthy enough to play. The Cowboys don’t have a game coming up anytime soon, but if they did, Dak Prescott thinks he would be able to play. “If we had to play a game now, I could go out there and be very successful,” Prescott said in a recent interview with ESPN. Prescott suffered a devastating ankle injury back in October and the fact that he’s already healthy enough to play is definitely an encouraging sign for the Cowboys.
- Raiders cut David Irving. After getting hit with several suspensions over the past few years as a member of the Cowboys, Irving was hoping to revive his career in Las Vegas, but that won’t be happening. The Raiders decided to cut ties with the 27-year-old over the weekend.
7. The Kicker: Jaguars’ draft board was apparently leaked
Since the Jaguars were holding the top pick in the draft this year, they decided to get creative with it. Over the course of the draft, they filmed everything and then turned it into a web show that was released last week. So far, the most notable thing about the Jaguars’ new web series is that they accidentally leaked their draft board.
The craziest thing about their board is how much they loved Jaylen Waddle. The Alabama receiver had an 8.0 grade next to his name, which is interesting, because the only other player with an 8.0 was Trevor Lawrence. Now, I’m not a scout for the Jaguars, so I don’t know exactly how their grading system works, but the fact that a receiver has the same grade as the top pick in the draft is definitely noteworthy.
It’s very possible that the Jaguars’ scouting system is broken — I mean, they’re the Jaguars — but it will be fascinating to look back on this in a few years, especially if Waddle ends up being the best receiver from the draft. Waddle, who was the second receiver selected behind Ja’Marr Chase, ended up getting picked by the Dolphins.
If you like reading about leaked draft boards — and who doesn’t — then be sure to click here to check out our story.