I'm not sure if Aaron Rodgers injected himself with truth serum before his press conference on Wednesday, but that's definitely what it felt like, because that guy went off on anyone and everyone while meeting with the media.
The only way that press conference could've been any crazier is if Rodgers had answered everything in the form of a question and then announced that he was quitting football to be the host of "Jeopardy!" However, that didn't happen, which means he'll be returning to Green Bay.
Speaking of the Packers, I hope you like reading about them because we'll be talking about them a lot in today's newsletter. With that in mind, let's get to the rundown.
As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the Pick Six newsletter. To get your friends to sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share this link with them.
1. Today's show: Dissecting Aaron Rodgers' press conference, plus possible Xavien Howard landing spots
After all the Aaron Rodgers drama on Wednesday, I bet you can guess what we talked about on Thursday's episode of the Pick Six Podcast (If you guessed Aaron Rodgers, then please give yourself a pat on the back, because that's the correct answer). I can't say for sure because I lost track last week, but I think this was the 19th day in a row that Rodgers was the main subject of the podcast. However, he wasn't the only subject of Thursday's show. Will Brinson brought on Cody Benjamin and that two also talked about potential landing spots for Xavien Howard.
The disgruntled Dolphins corner has requested a trade because he wants a bigger contract (Howard isn't even the highest-paid corner on his own team), but Cody doesn't think a trade is going to happen.
"At the end of the day, I don't think he gets moved," Benjamin said. "I looked at the teams with the salary cap space -- I know you can push it down the road -- but I don't know who you're looking at there. The 49ers? The Colts? I'm not sure who's going to give up premium assets AND a huge contract for him."
On the other hand, Brinson thinks Howard could eventually get traded.
"I think there will be a team out there that might be willing to give up a first-round pick for a cornerback who will put them over the top," Brinson said.
If you want to listen to today's episode -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here. If you want to read about five more possible landing spots for Howard be sure to click here (The Seahawks and Cardinals are two of the five teams on that list).
2. Packers roundup: Aaron Rodgers unfiltered, plus trade for Randall Cobb is finalized
There has been so much news involving the Packers over the past 24 hours that they're now getting their OWN roundup. It was either give them their own roundup or make this a Packers only newsletter today and since no one outside of Green Bay wants to read a Packers only newsletter, I went with Option A.
Here's a look at everything that's happened in Green Bay over the past 24 hours:
- Aaron Rodgers finally holds a press conference. The Packers quarterback went completely unfiltered during his press conference. He talked about everything that's been bothering him and he didn't hold back: He said he contemplated retirement, he wants more say in team-building decisions, he's not completely closing the door on a return to Green Bay after 2021 and he's still bothered by the fact that the Packers cut Jake Kumerow. For a full look at his press conference, be sure to click here.
- Lots of questions remain about Rodgers' revised contract that still hasn't been finalized. earlier this week, there were multiple reports suggesting the Packers would be giving Rodgers a new deal that would basically allow him to pick where he's going to play in 2022, but right now, that's not the case. According to Rodgers, the Packers haven't promised him that just yet. Packers GM Brian Gutekunst also made it sound like there's no guarantee Green Bay will be cutting any years of the QB's deal, which still has three years left, "We may alter that, but even at that stage, it won't be a one-year contract." If the Packers don't alter the deal, Rodgers is probably going to loathe the front office more than he already does.
- Randall Cobb trade is a done deal. To get Rodgers to report to camp, the Packers agreed to make a trade for Cobb and that deal was finalized late Wednesday. Under terms of the deal, the Packers will send a sixth-round pick to Houston while the Texans agreed to pay $3 million of Cobb's 2021 salary.
- Davante Adams won't be giving the Packers a hometown discount. With Rodgers now in camp, the Packers are going to be turning their attention toward getting a deal done with Adams, but that's not going to be easy. "I've earned the right to be paid the highest [of any receiver] in the league," Adams said. The problem for Adams is that the Packers don't seem to agree on how to calculate who the highest-paid receiver in the league is, which could throw a small wrench into negotiations.
- Packers sign Dennis Kelly. If there's one move that fell under-the-radar in Green Bay this week, it's this one. With star left tackle David Bakhtiari still recovering from a torn ACL, the Packers signed Kelly, who should be able to fillin until Bakhtiari is ready to play. Kelly spent last season in Tennessee, where he started all 16 games for the Titans.
The Packers have been busy.
3. Dak Prescott dealing with shoulder injury
The Cowboys season was basically over before it really even got started last year after they lost Dak Prescott to injury, which is why everyone in Dallas was holding their breath on Wednesday after Prescott was forced to leave practice.
The Cowboys quarterback underwent an MRI on Wednesday night, which revealed that he has a latissimus strain in his right shoulder. According to Prescott, the injury isn't really a big deal.
"I felt some soreness when making certain throws today, and I really just decided not to push things too far," Prescott said in a statement. "Better to be cautious and smart about it. I don't see this as any kind of serious setback. We'll treat it on a daily basis, and I'll be fine."
The only worrying thing here for the Cowboys is that the team doesn't seem to know how long this injury will keep Prescott on the sideline. It could be a couple of days or it could be a couple of weeks. When you're dealing with a strain of any kind, the smart thing to do is to let it completely heal, otherwise it will keep nagging you and the last thing Prescott needs is for this injury to nag him all season. If Prescott returns too early, he could aggravate the injury, which might keep him out longer, so it will be interesting to see what the return timetable is here.
The good news for the Cowboys is that Prescott's right ankle, which he injured last season, seems to be just fine.
4. Under-the-radar training camp battles in the AFC
With all 32 teams now in training camp, now seems like a good time to go over all the best under-the-radar camp battles that will be going on around the NFL over the next few weeks and since we covered the NFC battles earlier this week, we're going to tackle the AFC battles today.
Here are four of the top under-the-radar battles, according to our Jonathan Jones, who looked at one camp battle from each team in the AFC:
- Las Vegas: Johnathan Abram vs. Karl Joseph at strong safety. "The Raiders drafted Johnathan Abram in the first round of 2019 to transform their secondary and give it the hard-hitting grit of Raiders teams of yesteryear. They're still waiting. Abram missed his rookie season and gave up five touchdowns in 13 games last season while tying for second in the league in unnecessary-roughness penalties with three."
- Denver: Bobby Massie vs. Cameron Fleming at right tackle. "After Ja'Wuan James went down with an Achilles injury that will take him out for the season, the Broncos held a competition for free agents and ultimately signed Massie and Fleming. It felt like Massie had the leg-up for the starting job by virtue of the higher contract ($2.5 million for one year compared to Fleming's $1.67M), but I'm told not so fast."
- Cleveland: Cody Parkey vs. Chase McLaughlin in a kicker battle. "Who's up for a kicking competition? Parkey performed well for the Browns last season outside of a December stretch where he missed an extra point in three consecutive games. He made all 11 of his kicks in the postseason, though. McLaughlin, 25, enters his third season having played for five different teams before the Browns claimed him off waivers this spring."
- Kansas City: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif vs. Trey Smith at right guard. "Although many have Duvernay-Tardif as the Week 1 guy. Not so fast, I'm told. I'm hearing rookie sixth-round pick Smith is the real deal, and he's shown that in very limited time already. LDT is the leader to earn his spot back by the time the Chiefs play the Browns, but I'd expect a strong push from Smith this summer."
Jones went over all 16 teams in the AFC and if you want to check out the entire list of under-the-radar battles, be sure to click here.
5. The most bizarre training camp incident of 2021
According to multiple reports, Benjamin got into an argument with Giants coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman just before the start of the team's FIRST practice. (You can see a picture of the argument by clicking here). Note to future NFL players: Arguing with your head coach before your first practice ever with the team probably isn't going to work out so well for you.
After the spat, Benjamin ripped off his helmet and left the field. NFL coaches don't like to be yelled at and all of this ended with Judge making the decision to release Benjamin, who had just signed with the team in May.
In an interview with NJ.com, Benjamin says Judge never wanted him there and that's why he got cut (The former Panthers receiver was signed by Gettleman, who was the GM in Carolina when the Panthers drafted Benjamin in 2014).
"I just felt like from Day 1, once I stepped on the field, once I put on the colors, [Judge] never liked me," Benjamin said. "He didn't even want me there."
According to Benjamin, the argument started over his weight. The receiver-turned-tight end weighed 268 at training camp and the Giants had wanted him at 251.
When Benjamin showed up overweight, here's what went down, "Judge said, 'We're gonna fine you for being 17 pounds overweight.' I was like: 'How are you going to do that?'" Benjamin explained. "I said: 'So you want me to be a smaller tight end than when I played wide receiver.' He had nothing to say. He quieted down."
Benjamin, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2018, was hoping to convert to tight end this year. Benjamin was in Carolina when the Panthers went to the Super Bowl in 2015 and based on what he's seen from Judge, he says the Giants have no chance of getting to one.
"He's not a coach that can ever win a Super Bowl because he sits there and cusses all day," Benjamin said. "You can tell he's one-sided about everything. He's a know-it-all. That's not how it's supposed to work. We all can learn from each other. We're all humans at the end of the day. The true colors will come out."
Benjamin is a former first-round pick who has fizzled out of the NFL and based on how bizarre this entire incident played out, this might have been his last chance to make it in the league. As for the Giants, they might have another issue to deal with after starting left guard Shane Lemieux was carted off the field during practice on Thursday.
6. Rapid-fire roundup
It has been a BUSY 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.
- Sean Payton not happy with Michael Thomas. The Saints coach sounded pretty upset about the fact that Thomas waited until June to get surgery on his ankle, "The surgery took place, and obviously we would've liked that to happen earlier than later," Payton said. "And quite honestly, it should've." Thomas could end up missing nearly 30% of the season due to the injury.
- Saints receiver charged with DUI. Payton probably also isn't going to be happy with receiver Deonte Harris, who was charged with DUI stemming from an arrest that took place on July 16, according to NewOrleans.football. If Harris gets suspended, that means the Saints could be forced to start the season without two of their top three receivers, which isn't ideal for a team that will be breaking in a new quarterback.
- Lamar Jackson out with COVID. The Ravens QB is going to have to miss at least a week of practice due to COVID and CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote about why his absence could be extra costly this year. To check out La Canfora's story, be sure to click here.
- Trey Lance and Zach Wilson both sign. Wilson and Lance were the only remaining unsigned rookies, but that's not the case anymore, because both of them signed over the past 24 hours. On Wednesday, the 49ers signed Lance to four-year, $34.1 million deal. The Jets followed that deal up on Thursday by signing Wilson to a four-year deal worth $35.1 million (Wilson's contract is bigger because he was selected before Lance). Wilson had been holding out due to offset language in his contract.
- Ryan Tannehill isn't happy that he was 'forced' to get the vaccine. The Titans QB wasn't planning to get vaccinated, but he ended up getting a shot because the NFL basically forced his hand. "I wouldn't have gotten the vaccine without the protocols that they are enforcing on us," Tannehill said. "I think it's a personal decision for each of us. They are trying to force our hands and ultimately have forced a lot of hands by the protocols. It is what it is."
- Cole Beasley rips NFL's vaccine policy. Beasley has been the face of the anti-vaccine movement in the NFL and during an interview on Wednesday, he explained why. According to Beasley, the NFL is withholding information about the vaccine from its players, "When dealing with a player's health and safety, there should be complete transparency regarding information that is vital in the decision-making process," Beasley said, via ESPN.com. "Without having all the proper information, a player can feel misguided and unsure about a very personal choice. It makes a player feel unprotected and gives concerns about future topics regarding health and our ability to make educated decisions."