Hello, boys and girls, and happy Thursday. John Breech is still away while watching old Bengals film, so you've got me, Cody Benjamin, to deliver all the latest from around the NFL.
This is the Pick Six Newsletter. Now let's get to it. (And please, do yourself a favor and make sure you're signed up to receive this newsletter every day! You don't want to miss our daily offerings of everything you need to know around the NFL.)
We've got news and notes from around camp, contract drama, and much more:
- Today's show: Instant takeaways from Patriots camp
Resident Patriots expert Tyler Sullivan was at Gillette Stadium for the start of New England's training camp Wednesday, and he joined Will Brinson on the latest "Pick Six NFL Podcast" to report his Day 1 takeaways. Some highlights:
- Sully confirmed that former Lions coach and longtime Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, now back as an offensive assistant, was in Mac Jones' headset as the team's primary play-caller during offensive drills
- Bill Belichick was spotted with a "heavier eye on the offensive side," as he hands the baton to both Patricia and former Giants coach Joe Judge, the two assistants tasked with replacing Josh McDaniels
- Sully's MVP of the day might've been former Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker, who had several nice end-zone catches in coverage, fired up the crowd and "just looked like the biggest guy in that receiver room"
Catch the full episode (and subscribe for all kinds of daily NFL talk) right here.
2. Agent's Take: Russell Wilson could be next for record deal
With Kyler Murray locked up and Lamar Jackson at camp despite an uncertain future, former NFL agent Joel Corry has explored which quarterback could be next in line to get a fully guaranteed deal, a la Kirk Cousins in 2018 and Deshaun Watson this offseason. If it isn't Jackson, who's represented himself in previous negotiations, his eye is on Denver's new signal-caller.
Broncos general manager George Paton indicated on Tuesday that a Wilson deal will get done at the right time. Wilson, who has two years left on his contract worth $50 million, should have considerable leverage because of his acquisition cost. ... (And) Mark Rodgers, Wilson's agent, hasn't been afraid to think outside of the box. He reportedly proposed tying Wilson's compensation in the latter years of a contract to the growth in salary cap during previous negotiations with the Seahawks. A fully guaranteed contract might be particularly appealing to Rodgers because of his experience as a baseball agent where he's accustomed to dealing with completely secure deals.
3. Top underrated camp stories: Bucs stacked, Packers' big hole
QBs and contracts get a lot of attention over the summer, and rightfully so. But what about the storylines that aren't getting as much love as they deserve? Here's a sneak peek at three of our five underrated topics to monitor:
- The Buccaneers are (still) stacked: Maybe we're just so used to the clockwork that is Tom Brady's march to a playoff run, but has anyone looked at their depth chart lately? Even with Chris Godwin recovering from injury, TB12 might have the best weapons he's had in Florida yet: Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, Julio Jones, Russell Gage, a sterling line and defense.
- Odell Beckham Jr. is still without a team: His hands and energy remain intact. If Julio Jones can get up to $8 million as a secondary piece at this stage of his career, then Beckham almost surely can, too. Someone will be glad to deploy him in December.
- The glaring hole on the Packers: Aaron Rodgers ensures Green Bay will stay competitive. But are the Packers really going into 2022, potentially A-Rod's final season, with Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb as their top veteran receivers? Brian Gutekunst has to be using some of his new extension money to explore any possible last-minute trade, no?
4. Contract drama: Steelers hold-in, Derwin James talks, more
Here are some of the biggest stories related to ongoing contract situations around the NFL:
- Why an old NFL rule could impact Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert extensions: Exploring the funding rule that could prevent the Bengals and Chargers from offering enough guaranteed money for their star QBs down the road
- Steelers' Diontae Johnson hints he may skip practice: The receiver, whose current contract expires after 2022, wants a long-term deal in Pittsburgh, and he wasn't a full participant to open camp
- Chargers holding Derwin James out until extension is finalized: The All-Pro safety is currently negotiating a new deal with team brass, and coach Brandon Staley sounds optimistic he'll be on the field soon
- Travis Kelce gets a $3M raise for 2022: The Chiefs have shifted money in their star tight end's contract
5. Falcons name Marcus Mariota their starter for 2022
Well that didn't take long. Just one day into training camp, despite spending a third-round pick on QB Desmond Ridder, the Falcons have declared Mariota, the former Titans starter-turned-No. 2, their Week 1 signal-caller. Coach Arthur Smith has a history with Mariota, who was always seen as the favorite to open the year under center. Now the question is, how much leeway will the former first-round draft pick receive? And how far off is Ridder from challenging for snaps?
6. Camp roundup: Key injuries, Panthers' QB battle, more
Want more tidbits from around camp? You came to the right place:
- Bucs center Ryan Jensen carted off during practice: The Pro Bowler suffered a knee injury
- Packers' David Bakhtiari has another knee procedure: The former Pro Bowler has been banged up for two years
- Tua Tagovailoa fires back at 'clickbait' criticism: The Dolphins QB vows to avoid outside opinions of his progress
- Mayfield, Darnold alternating days as Panthers QB: Matt Rhule says they'll compete for "a while"
- Ex-Bills receiver Cole Beasley drawing interest: And the veteran plans to sign with a new team during camp
- Longtime Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright retires: After signing a one-day contract with Seattle
- 49ers cut pass rusher Dee Ford: The former Chiefs starter has battled injuries in recent seasons