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Julio Jones trade rumors heating up, plus Vikings tried to make blockbuster NFL Draft trade

It’s Memorial Day and although most people are out of the office today, I’m in the office, because this newsletter isn’t going to write itself and to be honest, I don’t think I would want it to, because then I wouldn’t have a job. We don’t need a newsletter writing itself. I mean, that’s basically the plot of Terminator 2. That’s how Skynet starts.

Anyway, since it’s Memorial Day, one of our writers decided to sit down and do an interview with Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona, who also happens to be a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve. During the interview, Cardona talked about why Memorial Day is important and he also explained how militaristic things can get when playing for Bill Belichick. You’re definitely going to want to read that interview and you can do that by clicking here. 

We’ll also be talking about a petition started by a Marine that’s calling for the NFL to retire Pat Tillman’s jersey. Today’s newsletter will also feature all the Julio Jones rumors you can handle, 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. To sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share the link. 

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 breakfast food, which didn’t turn out to be a debate at all, because the answer is French toast. 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.

Here’s a sample of questions that we answered in today’s mailbag: 

Q: I don’t understand the hate with Jameis Winston. I’d much rather have Jameis than Kirk Cousins. For me, I’d really prefer a QB with the onions to throw into tight windows than always be safe. But that’s just me. Would love to know what you guys think. Thanks again!

A: First, I’d like to point out that this question came from a Vikings fan, which tells you all you need to know about Kirk Cousins’ popularity in Minnesota. You know you’re inching closer to rock bottom when the fans of your team would rather have Jameis Winston over you. If I’m the Vikings, I’d probably prefer Cousins, but there are a few teams where I’d take Winston over Cousins due to the offensive system in place and fittingly, the Saints are one of those teams where I’d take Jameis over Kirk. I actually like Jameis, but if my choice is 30 interceptions per year or a quarterback who never takes risks, I’m probably going with Option B. 

Q: As a Carolina Panthers fan, I’ve been waiting for more representation in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and with some of our recent high-profile players who have retired or are near the end of their careers that’s likely to be a reality soon. I’m curious how you’d estimate these players chances to get into the hall and who — if any — would be first ballot: Julius Peppers, Steve Smith, Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, Thomas Davis, Greg Olsen.

A: As someone who grew up cheering for the Bengals, I know how this guy feels. The Bengals have existed SINCE 1968 and they only have one Hall of Famer (Anthony Munoz). As for the Panthers, they’ve only existed since 1995, so it’s not too surprising that they don’t have much representation in the Hall (Kevin Greene is the only player in the HOF who played multiple seasons with the Panthers). As for who could get in soon, I think Peppers is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and after that, I think Steve Smith also gets in. Kuechly is borderline, but I think he’ll eventually also get in, so that would mean that the Panthers could have as many as three players in by the end of the decade. That being said, I do not think that Newton, Davis or Olsen will end up getting in.   

To listen to the rest of the mailbag — and to follow the podcast — be sure to click here. 

2. Four new teams involved in Julio Jones trade rumors  

We haven’t quite reached the point where EVERY SINGLE TEAM in the NFL has called the Falcons about a potential Julio Jones trade, but it feels like we’re getting close. Last week, it was reported that the Patriots and Titans were both interested in the Falcons receiver, and this week, we have four new teams to add to the list. 

  • Seahawks: According to ESPN, Russell Wilson has already spoken to Jones on the phone about possibly playing in Seattle. The Seahawks are currently considered a serious contender for Jones’ services and if they’re able to land him in a trade, Russell Wilson will probably never complain about anything ever again. 
  • Eagles: Not only are the Eagles apparently interested in Jones, but they might be able to make the best offer. The Falcons are reportedly hoping to get a first-round pick in return for Jones, which won’t be a problem for the Eagles, because they have two first-round picks in 2022 and could also have one more thanks to the conditional pick the Colts will be sending them in the Carson Wentz deal. Of course, trading Jones to Philly would probably be a last resort for the Falcons since Atlanta opens the season against the Eagles and they probably don’t want to see Jones that early. 
  • Ravens: The Ravens could definitely use some receiving help and it appears they’re keeping an eye on the situation in Atlanta. According to ESPN, Baltimore is interested in Jones and would be “willing to get involved at the right price.”
  • 49ers: Trading for Jones would involve taking on his $15.3 million cap hit, which is notable, because the 49ers are one of the very few teams in the NFL that could absorb that hit without shuffling around any cap room. The 49ers are definitely interested in Jones, but it’s not clear what they’ll be willing to give up to land him. The team might not want trade away a first-round pick after sending two of them to Miami in the Trey Lance deal. 

This list would have included five new teams, but it appears the Rams pulled themselves out of trade talks over the weekend after initially showing interest in Jones. This is probably for the best since the Rams don’t really have any draft picks to offer the Falcons (The Rams have already traded away all their first-round picks until 2024). 

If you’re wondering who the leader in the clubhouse is for Jones, it appears to be the Titans. According to Pro Football Talk, the widespread belief in “league circles” is that Jones will end up in Tennessee for a second-round pick. Let’s hope that happens, because then it will make me look like a genius. I said back in April that the Titans seemed like the most logical landing spot and I still think that. 

As for when a trade might happen, it could go down as soon as this week. Due to the salary cap, the Falcons need to wait until post-June 1 to make a deal and June 1 is tomorrow. If Jones had been traded before June 1, the Falcons would have had to take on a $23.25 million cap hit. However, with the trade now coming after June 1, they can spread out the hit over two years with $7.75 million in 2021 and $15.5 million in 2022.

3. Vikings apparently tried to make blockbuster trade during the NFL Draft
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If Kirk Cousins was upset about the fact that the Vikings drafted a quarterback in the third-round this year, just wait until he finds out what the team tried to do during the first round. Apparently, the Vikings tried to trade UP from the 14th spot to the eight spot in a deal that would have gone down with the Panthers. 

As part of their Panthers Confidential series, Carolina released a video on May 27 that gave viewers an inside look at the team’s draft room. The most notable part of the video came when the Vikings called the Panthers while Carolina was on the clock in the first. 

  • The offer: The Vikings offered their first (No. 14), a third-round pick (No. 90) and a fourth-round pick (No. 143) to move up six spots to No. 8. 
  • Carolina’s response: The Panthers wanted the Vikings to throw in a 2022 first-round pick, but Minnesota wasn’t willing to do that so the Panthers basically hung up the phone on them. 
  • Vikings target: According to multiple reports, the Vikings wanted to move up to eight so that they could draft Justin Fields. 

After getting shot down by the Panthers, the Vikings ended up trading down from 14th overall to 23rd and drafting Christian Darrisaw. Two rounds later, they ended up selecting Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond with the 66th overall pick. Between going after Fields and drafting Mond, it seems pretty clear that the Vikings would like to move on from Cousins after his contract expires following the 2022 season, if not sooner. 

I’m starting to think that guy who asked us the mailbag question about getting rid of Cousins might have actually just been a Mike Zimmer burner account. 

4. Patrick Mahomes wants to go 20-0

If you sat down to make a list of all the teams that have ever finished a regular season undefeated in the NFL, that list would take you about five seconds, because there’s only been two teams ever: The 1972 Miami Dolphins and the 2007 New England Patriots. 

Of those two, the Dolphins are the only ones that went on to win the Super Bowl, which makes them the only team in NFL history to finish with a perfect record (17-0). The living members of that Dolphins team have an annual tradition of cracking open a bottle of champagne every year after the final undefeated team loses its first game. 

Patrick Mahomes wants to end that tradition and that’s because he wants to go undefeated. After making it to the Super Bowl two years in a row, Mahomes wants to do more in 2021: He wants to go undefeated and WIN the Super Bowl. 

“The only record I have my eyes set on breaking, which would be new this year, would be going 20-0,” Mahomes told Bleacher Report over the weekend. “Being able to go 20-0 and being the first one to do that, that would be awesome.” 

If any other quarterback said this, I would probably laugh and say it’s impossible, but I think the Chiefs at least have a shot with Mahomes. Just last year, they went 14-1 in games where their starters played (The Chiefs benched everyone in their season finale and lost, which is how they finished 14-2). On paper, this team is much better than it was last season, so the idea of 17-0 isn’t completely crazy. 

If you look at Kansas City’s schedule, the toughest games are probably against the Bills, Ravens and Browns (We won’t count Green Bay since we don’t  know if Aaron Rodgers will be there). Mahomes is 2-0 all time against the Bills and has never lost to an AFC North team (7-0) and you know what, I might have just talked myself into this potentially happening.  

5. Predicting the Giants’ final record for 2021 

With the month of June right around the corner, that means the dead part of the NFL offseason is almost 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 taking a closer look at the Giants. 

Our Cody Benjamin went through the Giants’ entire schedule and picked out all the games they’re going to win and all the games they’re going to lose. Although Benjamin isn’t predicting a playoff season for the Giants, he is expecting them to win more games than they did last year when they finished 6-10. 

Here’s a look at how he sees the Giants doing in three key games: 

  • Week 1: Broncos at Giants. “Denver opens the year without Aaron Rodgers, instead letting Teddy Bridgewater take over under center, but it’s the Broncos’ restocked secondary that clamps down on the Giants in the opener.” Prediction: Broncos 24-20 over Giants. 
  • Week 9: Raiders at Giants. “Saquon Barkley continues a hot stretch by approaching 200 yards on the ground against the Vegas defense, and all Jones has to do is manage the rest of the game. Pressure mounts on Jon Gruden and Derek Carr after another loss.” Prediction: Giants 24-16 over Raiders. 
  • Week 15: Cowboys at Giants. “In the thick of the wild card race, Joe Judge has the Giants fired up at home, where they trail the Cowboys in talent but overpower them with energy. Daniel Jones and Dak Prescott go head to head again, but this time, Jones gets the best of Dak as a late Kenny Golladay score lifts New York.” Prediction: Giants 27-24 over Cowboys.

Overall, Benjamin is predicting that the Giants will end the season with an 8-9 record, which doesn’t sound too crazy. If they can flip just one of Cody’s predictions, that would put them at 9-8, which would likely put the in the middle of the NFC playoff hunt.  

If you want to see Benjamin’s prediction for each game, click here to check out his entire story. For tomorrow’s newsletter, we’ll be starting off June by going through Washington’s schedule and making a prediction for each game. 

6. Petition calls for NFL to retire Pat Tillman’s jersey number
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Since today is Memorial Day, it’s obviously the perfect time to remember one of the NFL’s most notable fallen military heroes and that’s Pat Tillman. 

A few months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Tillman decided he was going to put his four-year NFL career on hold so that he could join the Army and that’s exactly what he did in May 2002. Tillman’s military service, which included becoming an Army Ranger, included tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.   

After spending nearly two years in the military, Tillman was tragically killed by friendly fire in an incident that took place on April 22, 2004. 

With the 20-year anniversary of 9/11 right around the corner, one former marine believes now would be the perfect time for the NFL to retire Tillman’s No. 40 jersey across the league. That Marine, Sean Wilson, has started a petition and he already has nearly 40,000 signatures after less than a week. 

From the petition: 

“It is my goal to have the NFL retire Pat Tillman’s jersey No. 40 league wide in honor of the 20th anniversary of 09-11-2001 and Pat Tillman’s ultimate sacrifice he made as a result of this day,” the petition states. “They say ‘a man is not dead while his name is still spoken.’ It is my hope that for the rest of time, anytime an unknown person enters an NFL stadium, they will see TILLMAN 40 hanging from the rafters and his story will have to be told and his name will continue to be spoken.”

Tillman’s number has been retired by the Cardinals and Wilson wants to see it retired across the NFL. Unlike baseball, which retired Jackie Robinson’s number, there is no number that’s retired across the NFL. One reason it doesn’t happen is because there are 65 players (53 active roster and 12 practice squad) and only 99 numbers available, which would create a number crunch. 

That being said, retiring Tillman’s number wouldn’t be that difficult. For one, five different teams have already retired No. 40 for other players (Cardinals, Bears, Patriots, Giants, Eagles), so this would only involve 27 more teams getting on board. 

Tillman’s NFL career started in 1998 after the Cardinals made him a seventh-round pick. Most players don’t even crack the roster when they’re picked that low, but not only did Tillman make the team, he became a starter. In his four seasons with the Cardinals, Tillman played in 60 games and started in 39 of those.