Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
As someone who writes a newsletter for CBS Sports, I am contractually obligated to tell you that I will be spending my entire weekend watching CBS. Although that's what I do every weekend -- because I love CBS -- there's some added excitement this weekend because THE MASTERS is on. If you want to follow our ongoing Masters coverage this weekend, then be sure to click here.
Of course, this isn't a a golf newsletter, it's an NFL newsletter, so let's get to the NFL stuff. In the biggest news over the past 24 hours, the Brian Flores lawsuit took another turn when two more minority coaches made the decision to join Flores in the suit. We'll be taking a look at all the new details from the lawsuit, plus we'll be taking a look at some of the best draft picks of all time.
As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Alright, let's get to the rundown.
1. Today's show: NFL Draft needs for teams in the AFC South and NFC South
The NFL Draft will be kicking off in less than three weeks, which means you're going to be hearing a lot from our draft analysts from now until the start of the draft on April 28. Two of those draft analysts -- Josh Edwards and Chris Trapasso -- joined Will Brinson for Friday's episode of the Pick Six Podcast and the three of them spent nearly an hour talking about draft needs for each team in the AFC and NFC South.
One of those teams in the NFC South that the three guys talked about are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are one of the more intriguing teams in the draft. According to Trapasso, the Bucs' two biggest needs are up front.
"Offensive and defensive lines," Trapasso said when talking about Tampa Bay's biggest needs. "Even after trading for Shaq Mason I still think they need to fill this need on the offensive line. ... They lost their guards with Ali Marpet retiring and Alex Cappa signing with the Bengals, so if Zion Johnson is there, I think that would be a home run."
It's not a given that the Boston College offensive lineman will fall all the way down to the 27th spot in the draft, but it's certainly possible. It's also possible that the Buccaneers could trade up if he falls into a spot not too far from 27. In 2020, the Buccaneers had the 14th overall pick and they were eyeing Tristan Wirfs. After the offensive tackle slid down the draft board to the 13th spot, the Buccaneers made a trade to move up one spot so they could grab him.
If the Buccaneers decide to pick someone on the defensive side of the ball in the first round, Trapasso mentioned defensive tackles Devonte Wyatt (Georgia) and Matthew Butler (Tennessee) as possible options.
If you want to hear the draft needs for the other three teams in the NFC South along with the four teams in the AFC South, you'll have to listen to today's show, which you can do by clicking here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Two more coaches join the Brian Flores lawsuit
It's been just over two months since Brian Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL over alleged racial discrimination in the league's hiring practices. Although Flores was the only minority head coach involved in the suit when it was initially filed, two more names have now been added: Steve Wilks and Ray Horton.
The amended lawsuit also now names the Titans, Cardinals and Texans as teams that are now being sued. When Flores originally filed the lawsuit on Feb. 1, the NFL, along with the Broncos, Giants and Dolphins were the entities being sued.
Here's the latest on the lawsuit:
- Why Wilks put his name on the lawsuit. Wilks was fired after just one season with the Cardinals and he feels the firing was unjustified. In the lawsuit, Wilks mentions that he wanted to trade up in the 2018 NFL Draft so the Cardinals could select Josh Allen, but general manager Steve Keim shot that down. Arizona ended up sticking in the 10th spot and selecting Josh Rosen. Not only did Wilks get stuck with Rosen, but Keim was suspended in July 2018 over a DUI arrest, so Wilks had to run the team without a general manager. Basically, Keim got a DUI and made a horrible pick, but was able to keep his job in a year where the Cardinals ended up firing Wilks.
- Why Horton put his name on the lawsuit. The longtime defensive coach, who has never held a head-coaching job, believes he was part of a sham interview process with the Titans in 2016. The Titans ended up hiring Mike Mularkey after interviewing multiple people for the job, including Horton and Teryl Austin.
- Titans and NFL could get burned by one big piece of evidence. Horton's part of the lawsuit includes information from Mularkey, who eventually got the Titans job in 2016. In 2020, Mularkey said in an interview that he felt guilty about the way he got the job. "I allowed myself at one point when I was in Tennessee to get caught up in something I regret it and I still regret it," Mularkey said two years ago, via ESPN.com. "But the ownership there, Amy Adams Strunk and her family, came in and told me I was going be the head coach in 2016 before they went through the Rooney Rule. And so, I sat there knowing I was the head coach in '16 as they went through this fake hiring process." The Titans have denied the accusation that their hiring process was a sham, but when the guy who got hired thinks it was, that seems like a problem.
- Texans now named in lawsuit. Flores is now also suing the Texans. He believes the only reason they passed him over for their coaching job this year is due to the fact that he had just filed a lawsuit against the NFL. Flores was believed to be a finalist for the Texans' coaching job before the team shocked everyone by going with Lovie Smith, who had not previously been mentioned as a coaching candidate for the team.
The additions of Horton and Wilks to the original lawsuit could definitely put the NFL in some hot water going forward.
3. Rob Gronkowski takes a shot at the Patriots, thinks that Tom Brady could play five more years
With Rob Gronkowski mulling over NFL retirement right now, I can tell you that one thing he definitely hasn't retired from is doing interviews. Gronk joined "Jimmy Kimmel Live" this week and he had some very interesting things to day.
Here are a few interesting nuggets from the interview:
- Gronk takes shot at Patriots. Kimmel and Gronk were talking about the fact that the tight end stayed on the field longer than he probably should have during a blowout 41-17 win over the Panthers in Week 18. Gronk wanted to keep playing so he could reach two contract incentives worth a total of $1 million, which he did end up hitting. Kimmel then asked Gronk if it was normal for a player to be able to stay in so they could hit their bonus. "Yes, I've seen it before actually. Not with the Patriots, though. I mean, they'll probably pull you before you hit that bonus there." Gronk then nervously laughed and followed up his comment by saying, "I shouldn't have said that." Basically, if you're near a contract bonus at the end of the season and you play for the Patriots, don't expect them to let you get it.
- Gronk thought Brady was going to take a year off. One other subject Kimmel touched on with Gronk was Brady's decision to come out of retirement. "I was not surprised at all," Gronkowski said of Brady's decision to return, via PFT. "I was actually surprised how quick it was, because I thought he was possibly going to take a year off or something like that and maybe come back after that. I believe he'll have it until he's at least 50 years old. I see his work ethic day in and day out, and it's second to none."
If you're wondering why Gronk is making the media rounds this week, it's because he's set to host the Nickelodeon Kids Choice awards on Saturday night. Gronk is also likely trying to sell tickets to Gronk Beach, which will be held at Encore Beach Club in Las Vegas during the NFL Draft. If you're interested in buying tickets for Gronk Beach, you can reserve a water couch with 10 friends for the low, low price of $7,000. I'm hoping CBS will let me expense that.
4. Ranking the top NFL Draft picks of all time taken 24th overall
With the 2022 NFL Draft just weeks away, we decided to kick off a series that features the top draft picks of all time. The way this works is pretty simple: Since there are 32 picks in the first round, we went through and listed the top five picks for each one of those 32 spots.
Our countdown started with the 32nd spot, and now, we're up to the 24th spot.
Although we haven't been covering every spot in the newsletter, I'm including the 24th spot today because it's been one of the most loaded spots in draft history. This year, the Cowboys have the 24th overall pick and if history is any indication, they should be able to find a star, especially since two of the five players on today's list are former Cowboys draft picks.
With that in mind, here's our list of the top five No. 24 overall picks of all time:
1. Aaron Rodgers (2005, Packers)
2. Ed Reed (2002, Ravens)
3. Dez Bryant (2010, Cowboys)
4. Calvin Hill (1969, Cowboys)
5. Cam Jordan (2011, Saints)
If you want to read a deeper explanation on the list, be sure to click here so you can check out Patrik Walker's full story. On the other hand, if you'd like to yell at Walker on Twitter because you disagree with his list, feel free to click here.
5. Top 10 free agents left on the market
Every Friday, we'll be closing out the week by taking a look at the biggest names still available in free agency.
Before free agency started, Pete Prisco made a list of his top 100 free agents for 2022 and as we get ready to enter the FIFTH week of wheeling and dealing, eight of his top-35 players are still available.
The biggest prize left on the market continues to be cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who has clearly decided that he's going to take all the time he needs before signing. Over the past week, we only saw one of our top-10 remaining free agents get signed (Kareem Jackson re-signed with the Broncos). With Jackson now back in Denver, we've updated our list of top remaining players accordingly.
With that in mind, let's check out the 10 highest-ranked players from Prisco's top 100 list who are still available (they're listed with the team they played for last season):
1. CB Stephon Gilmore (Panthers)
2. FS Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs)
3. DL Akiem Hicks (Bears)
4. EDGE Jadeveon Clowney (Browns)
5. OL Duane Brown (Seahawks)
6. TE Rob Gronkowski (Buccaneers)
7. WR Odell Beckham (Rams)
8. EDGE Melvin Ingram (Steelers)
9. OT Eric Fisher (Colts)
10. S Jaquiski Tartt (49ers)
Although free agency has definitely slowed down, don't be surprised if it picks up again before the start of the draft. If a team can fill a need in free agency, that's one less need it has to worry about when the draft rolls around.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Brandin Cooks gets big extension
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.
- Texans sign Brandin Cooks to two-year extension. Although there was some speculation that Cooks might be traded this offseason, it doesn't look like that's going to happen. The Texans have signed Cooks to a two-year extension. According to NFL.com, the deal is worth up to $39.6 million and includes $36 million in guarantees.
- Deebo Samuel sends message to 49ers on social media. The 49ers star raised some eyebrows this week when he decided to scrub the 49ers off of all his social media pages. Samuel got rid of his 49ers profile picture, unfollowed the team on social media and deleted nearly 100 pictures off his Instagram. Samuel is going into the final year of his rookie deal and there's a good chance he's doing this because he wants a new contract from the 49ers.
- Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright dies at 76. The Cowboys legend died on Thursday, just days after being hospitalized due to a severe seizure. The six-time Pro Bowler was a standout offensive lineman for a Cowboys team that won two Super Bowls in the 1970s. After being selected by the Cowboys in the seventh round of the 1967 draft, Wright ended up spending his entire 13-year career in Dallas. For more on Wright, be sure to click here.
- Broncos re-sign starting safety. After spending nearly a month as a free agent, Kareem Jackson has decided to return to Denver on a one-year deal. The 12-year veteran, who has spent his past three seasons in Denver, started a total of 15 games last year for the Broncos.
- Ravens eyeing Melvin Gordon. The top free agent running back on the market might soon be signing with a new team. According to NFL.com, Gordon is in discussions with Baltimore about a possible deal. Of course, based on how things went with Za'Darius Smith, we probably shouldn't assume that any deal is done between the Ravens and a player until the contract is actually signed.