I'm not sure how it happened, but this is the final newsletter of July!
If you're scoring at home, we spent 98% of the month talking about Aaron Rodgers and 2% of the month talking about everyone else in the NFL. However, I'm thinking those percentages will be changing in August and that's because there will be actual football to talk about!
As a matter of fact, you have less than a week to prepare for the two most important days on the NFL offseason calendar: Tom Brady's birthday (Aug. 3) and the Hall of Fame game (Aug. 5). Sure, the Steelers and Cowboys will probably only play a total of three starters in the HOF game and yes, you probably won't be able to name a single player on the field by the time the fourth quarter comes around, but IT'S FOOTBALL AND IT'S ON TV SO DON'T COMPLAIN.
Speaking of not complaining, please don't complain about the fact that we will once again be talking about Aaron Rodgers today. After all, it's still July and like I said, the newsletter has basically been devoted to him all month. We'll also be covering a bunch of other topics, so 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: Training camp roundup
With all 32 teams now in training camp, Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson and I decided to spend Friday's episode of the Pick Six podcast talking about the biggest news that has come out this week and just to be clear, I actually mean the biggest non-Aaron Rodgers news, because we already spent 41 hours talking about Rodgers this week.
With some key players not practicing right now due to injury, we decided to play a game where we revealed how worried we are -- on a scale of 1-10 -- about a player's injury/illness.
- Dak Prescott has shoulder injury: Five. Prescott is dealing with a shoulder strain and although Brinson and Wilson aren't worried at all -- they both gave Dak a three on the worry scale -- I gave him a five because it's not always easy to deal with a strain. If the injury doesn't heal properly or completely, it's something that could flare up on Prescott all season. The Cowboys have already announced that Dak won't be throwing the ball for two to three days and our Patrik Walker has reported that Dallas could keep him in bubble wrap for the next two weeks (He might participate in drills during that period, but he wouldn't be practicing full-go).
- Lamar Jackson out with COVID: Six. The Ravens were hoping to use training camp to improve their passing game, but that's kind of difficult to do when your starting quarterback isn't practicing. Jackson could be out for the next week due to COVID, which is why I'm at a six on the worry scale. With the Ravens trying to build chemistry between Jackson and his receivers, that's a week he can't afford to miss.
- Michael Thomas on PUP: Eight. I don't think Sean Payton and Thomas like each other very much anymore. When the head coach is calling out the star receiver for not getting surgery on time, that seems like a problem.
To listen to today's episode -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. Aaron Rodgers contract details
The Aaron Rodgers drama is finally over in Green Bay -- at least until next offseason when there's a 67% chance it will start right up again-- and the reason the drama is over for now is because Rodgers has finally signed his newly revised contract.
Here's a look at the key aspects of the new deal:
- Final year of his old deal gets voided. Under his old deal, Rodgers was signed through the 2023 season, but that final year has now been voided, which means he's now signed through 2022. This was the only big concession that the Packers made in the revised contract. Although there was speculation that Rodgers would be able to pick which team he was traded to in 2022 or that he wouldn't have to forfeit any signing bonus money in the event of a 2022 holdout, neither of those things are written into the deal, according to both Pro Football Talk and the NFL's official website.
- Packers save roughly $10 million on this year's salary cap. The Packers were able to pick up some cap space by turning Rodgers' $14.7 million base salary into a signing bonus. Under the revised deal, Rodgers will get a $1.1 million base salary and the remaining money will become a signing bonus, which can be prorated over the life of the contract so that the Packers aren't paying it all in one year.
- Showdown could be looming next year. The contract fixes a lot of problems for the Packers in 2021, but it could create a giant headache in 2022. Next season, Rodgers is going to have an astronomical cap hit of $46.14 million. If he decides to retire or demands a trade, the Packers would take a dead cap hit of $26.85 million, according to over the cap. If they trade him after June 1, 2022, it would cut the cap hit down to $19.17 million. No matter what happens, things could get ugly if Rodgers still wants out.
- One reason why Rodgers probably liked the deal. Although he didn't get all the concessions he wanted, this deal gives Rodgers a lot of control in 2022 and control of his future is one thing he wanted. Due to his large cap hit, the Packers are going to have a lot of incentive to convince Rodgers to stay in 2022 or to give him an extension. If they want him to stay, they might be more open to listening to his personnel ideas, which is what he wants. On the other hand, if he were to repeat this year's drama next offseason, it would be much more affordable for him to do that. If things come down to another game of chicken next offseason, Rodgers will be in a better spot to win it.
Here's a look at how his contract numbers will break down over the next two seasons (via NFL.com):
Base salary: $1.1 million
Roster bonus: $6.8 million
Signing bonus: $14.46 million
Total: $22.36 million
Cap hit: $27.07 million (via Over the Cap)
Base salary: $26,470,588 salary
Workout bonus: $500,000
Cap hit: $46.14 million
The biggest downside to the Rodgers contract for the Packers is that they're basically losing the luxury of having Jordan Love on a rookie contract. If Rodgers plays through 2022, that means the Packers will have to decide whether to pick up Love's fifth-year option even though they won't know if he's actually any good since they won't have seen him play in a game yet.
3. Carson Wentz sits out Friday's practice with injury
With training camp going on around the NFL for the next several weeks, I promise you we won't be mentioning it every time a player sits out of practice with an injury, but if that player is a starting quarterback with a long injury history then we're definitely going to mention it and that's the case with Carson Wentz.
It's unclear how serious it is, but it's serious enough that Indianapolis felt the need to reveal the information. The Colts are under no obligation to reveal injuries during training camp and they could have simply said that Wentz was taking a veteran rest day, but they didn't (T.Y. Hilton, Quenton Nelson and tight end Jack Doyle all sat out practice on Friday as part of a veteran rest day).
This isn't overly concerning just yet, but I would be mildly concerned if I'm a Colts fan and that's just because Wentz has a long injury history. Since entering the NFL in 2016, Wentz has missed a total of 12 regular-season games and five postseason games due to injury.
Here's a quick look at his injury history:
- Hairline fracture (2016): Wentz got hurt in a preseason game during his rookie year, but didn't miss any regular-season games.
- Torn ACL (2017): Wentz tore his ACL in December 2017, which caused him to miss the Eagles' Super Bowl run that year.
- Stress fracture in back (2018): At some point during the 2018 season, Wentz suffered a back injury that took months for him to rehab.
- Concussion (2019): In a playoff game against the Seahawks, Wentz left in the first quarter after suffering a concussion.
If the Colts are going to be a contender this year, they need Wentz to be healthy and right now, he's not healthy. The Colts should probably keep Philip Rivers' phone number handy just in case.
4. Five running backs who could break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record
With the NFL adding a 17th game this year there's a good chance that we're going to see multiple longtime records fall and one of those records could be Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. When he set the record in 1984, Dickerson averaged 131.7 yards per game over 16 games, but to break the record, a running back will only have to average 123.8 yards per game this season now that there are 17 games.
With the in mind, our Bryan DeArdo took a look at five guys who will have a chance to break Dickerson's record this year
Henry actually averaged 126.7 yards per game last year, which would have given him a record-setting 2,153 yards over a 17-game season, so it definitely feels like he's the top contender for breaking Dickerson's record. If you want a full explanation for why the other four guys have a chance to break the record, be sure to click here so you can read DeArdo's entire story.
Also, don't feel sorry for Dickerson that he might lose the record to a player who's getting one extra game to break it because Dickerson was in the same situation back in 1984. Before Dickerson, the single-season rushing record was held by O.J. Simpson, who rushed for 2,003 yards when the NFL season was just 14 games long in 1973. Dickerson then broke the record thanks to the fact that the NFL expanded the schedule to 16 games.
5. Tom Brady is still extremely popular
I think we finally found out the real reason that Tom Brady left New England: So he could sell more jerseys. After 20 years with the Patriots, I'm guessing that anyone who ever wanted a Brady jersey probably had one, but now that he's with the Buccaneers, his jerseys are once again selling faster than toilet paper during a pandemic. Sorry if that joke is too soon for anyone who couldn't find toilet paper last year.
The NFLPA released its quarterly list of player merchandise sales and guess who was at the top? Yup, Tom Brady.
This ranking takes into account all licensed products that get sold from jerseys to T-shirts to hoodies to backpacks to bobbleheads.
Here's a look at the top 10 players on the list:
1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers
2. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
3. Dak Prescott, Cowboys
4. Joe Burrow, Bengals
5. CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys
6. Justin Fields, Bears
7. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
8. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars
9. Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers
10. Josh Allen, Bills
The fact that a Bengals player made the top five isn't that shocking when you consider that I bought roughly 700 Joe Burrow jerseys alone. Also, as you'll notice, America's Team is still America's Team. The Cowboys were the only team that had three players ranked in the top 10.
As for Brady, he celebrated his popularity by holding his first interview of training camp on Friday and you can check that out by clicking here.
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.
- T.J. Watt has yet to practice. It's probably not quite time yet to sound the alarm bells in Pittsburgh, but Watt hasn't practiced yet due to an undisclosed injury. Coach Mike Tomlin has been vague about any details of Watt's situation, but he did say that the Steelers star is "day to day."
- Bears tight end Jake Butt retires. After just four years in the NFL, Butt has decided to hang up his cleats for good. The tight end decided to retire after dealing with multiple serious injuries over the course of his career, "Football gave me some of the best times of my life," Butt wrote in a social media post. "Ironically, it also gave me some of my toughest times, which turned out to be the most important. The adversity that I faced in my career gave me some of the biggest opportunities to grow as a man."
- International players can wear international flags. Any player who's a part of the NFL's international development program will now be allowed to wear the flag of their home country on their helmet. If a player goes this route, they'll wear the American flag along with the their home flag. Eagles starting tackle Jordan Mailata (Australia) is one of the most notable members of the program.
- Randall Cobb hilarious Packers-Texans comparison. After being traded from Houston to Green Bay, Cobb made an absolutely perfect comparison when he was asked to about the differences between the two teams, "Green Bay's like a Fortune 500 company and the Texans.... they're a startup that's figuring out their way." That sounds about right.
- Giants expected to sign Alfred Morris. With Saquon Barkley still rehabbing from his torn ACL, the Giants are expected to add Morris to their roster in an effort to add some depth at the running back position. If Morris' career goal is play for every team in the NFC East, he's now one step closer. The running back has already played for Washington (2012-15) and Dallas (2016-17), which leaves just the Eagles. The good news for the Giants: Washington and Dallas won the division during Morris' first year with each team.