Julio Jones, Aaron Rodgers, Tim Tebow, Deshaun Watson, and more! Come check out as TRO breaks down the biggest headlines floating around the League as we wait for training camps to heat up.
WILL JULIO JONES GET TRADED? WHERE SHOULD HE END UP?
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So, obviously the news has been out that the Atlanta Falcons are entertaining the idea of moving on from the greatest receiver in franchise history in Julio Jones. At 32 years old, and bearing an expensive contract through 2023, the move could make sense. Not to mention the fact that the Falcons have a plethora of guys who can catch the football who are still on rookie deals (Calvin Ridley, Olamide Zaccheaus, and obviously Kyle Pitts). They also have added Cordarrelle Patterson to the mix. However, by not drafting a quarterback, it is clear the falcons are looking to continue to rally around Matt Ryan. Why not stack the table and go all in with Matt Ryan, give him all these weapons, and keep his favorite target around?
Well, Jones has had injury concerns, but he still is one of the most dominant receivers in the league when on the field. He is also an underrated locker room leader, and a tremendous mentor to the entire receiver room. There's tons of footage of him coaching up receivers in pregame warmups, at practice, teaching the route tree, press releases, and whatever else you could possibly think of.
If you're the Atlanta front office, the idea of gaining some draft capital, and freeing up some future space on the books seems promising, especially being if the Sam Darnold experiment does not pan out in Carolina, the NFC South is a Tom Brady retirement away from being anybody's division. For that reason, TRO thinks there's no doubt that Atlanta will at least pick up the phone regarding Julio. However, if you consider the fact that their interests are best suited to go all in with Ryan and focus on the short term, TRO projects that there's about a 45% chance the Falcons move on from Jones before the trade deadline. If he is on the move, the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, and Green Bay Packers should be the favorites to get a deal done.
The Ravens need the veteran leadership with a predominantly young receiver group. The Colts simply need the help at the position, and the Packers could find themselves in the Super Bowl if they take some pressure off of Davantae Adams. Honorable mentions for teams that might put in reasonable offers: the New England Patriots, the Tennessee Titans, and the Los Angeles Chargers.
HOW DOES THE AARON RODGERS SAGA PLAY OUT?
via Getty Images
We've all heard the headlines that started when Adam Schefter conveniently released reports that Aaron Rodgers was unhappy in Green Bay the same day of the Draft. The headlines have sort of brewed and evolved into reports of Rodgers speaking out against the GM in group chats, and distancing himself from the organization until he is traded. Since Rodgers has declined to speak to any media, or address the issue at all, it sure seems like his discontent is true. He even liked a tweet by Davantae Adams which said something along the lines of "you don't know what you have until it's gone." The Packers - Rodgers relationship certainly is damaged, but is it repairable?
TRO believes there's still a 70% chance that Rodgers suits up in the green and yellow next year and beyond. Think about it. The Packers have stood on the notion that they do not want to trade their franchise quarterback. Rodgers wants to win another Super Bowl more probably more than anything. The Packers have been 13-3 the past two years in a row. Where would Rodgers get traded to that would be more of a contender?
We get that Rodgers wants to feel "loved" for lack of a better word. He wants the organization that he's given everything to extend at least a portion of that same courtesy back to to him. Some might label Rodgers a diva, but if you look at his story, it makes perfect sense that he would get defensive when Green Bay has never used a first round pick on an offensive weapon for him, and that they went and used their first round pick in the 2020 Draft to select his potential successor.
Rodgers was undersized in high school and it led to a lack of recruiting. This led to him having to play football at Butte Community College where earning a shot to play in the NFL seems almost impossible. After impressing at Butte, Rodgers was able to transfer to Cal where he didn't start until the fifth game of the season. Fast forward to the 2005 NFL Draft, he was not selected until the 24th overall pick, where he would have to wait to play until the Packers moved on from Brett Favre three years later. His whole journey has been a battle. He's been looked over, and has had to beat the odds each step of the way. Constantly, working under that mindset, especially beginning at such a young age, before you even start your professional career, can lead you to develop self-defensive traits. People seem to forget Rodgers's backstory because he's been so good for so long.
That being said, if Rodgers were to get traded, any team would have to give up so much draft capital to acquire him that he still would not be able to have a team utilize first round picks to compliment him. When push comes to shove, and if Green Bay refuses to trade him, do we think Rodgers would risk sitting out a whole year at this point in his career, with no indication as to when his prime will take that dreaded drop off to father time? Or will he bite the bullet, go back out there with his 13-3 team and try to win it all in spite of the organization?
TRO is inclined to believe that Rodgers stays put, and plays this season. Maybe Green Bay will try to sweeten the pot by throwing some more money at him or acquiring someone big, say.... a Julio Jones?
If Rodgers does end up being traded (30% chance), the Denver Broncos have to be the frontrunners.
WHAT TO MAKE OF THE TIM TEBOW FIASCO:
via Twitter / @WJXT4
This one certainly has drawn the most recent attention as of late. Tim Tebow, the 33 year old, former football player, former minor league baseball player, has returned to the game of football by switching positions from quarterback to tight end. Tebow last played organized football NINE years ago.
The big stir it caused stemmed from the debate over whether Tebow should have gotten this opportunity over someone else who's far younger and actually plays the position. Urban Meyer clearly wanted to reunite with his old college quarterback, and there's no way Tebow would be able to return at that position. This would've been a good idea 10 years ago or so.
This could just be a marketing ploy, a reason to draw some Florida fans to pay attention to Jaguars football and to sell jerseys (they are the hot thing in the NFL Shop right now). It also could be Urban trying to establish a culture in the locker room, create a standard, and have Tebow serve as more of a coach than a player.
There's no doubt that Tebow is a hell of an athlete, but at his age, can he block? He's going to have to because there's no way he can run the entire route tree and beat NFL linebackers and safeties consistently as a true pass-catching TE. Jason Witten had a tough go during his stint with the Raiders after just 1 year off, and Witten is one of the most notable TEs in NFL history. It could be that Urban wanted Tebow to come on the coaching staff and serve the team in that capacity, but Tebow was like "coach I can play." Which led to this non-guaranteed, minimal contract.
There's two ways this thing can play out: 1) Tebow does better than expected, makes some plays in the preseason, and makes the team where he will serve as a gadget player in short yardage situations and the redzone as a hybrid TE/FB/wildcat QB. If this is the case, look for him to score about 0-4 touchdowns and ESPN to have a field day; 2) Tebow doesn't make the cut, and Urban puts him on the sideline where he can still mentor and coach guys.
No matter how you feel about the signing, it will be interesting to see, especially during the Preseason, as that's where he'll get the most reps.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR DESHAUN WATSON AND THE HOUSTON TEXANS?
via TexansWire / USA Today
The Deshaun Watson saga has gone quiet. From the opinion of a lawyer, that's completely normal. This is the point of the litigation where both sides are working behind the scenes, and deciding whether these cases will make it to court or not. TRO strongly believes that Watson's camp will settle all of these cases, and we'll be left with all the curiosity as to whether or not he actually committed any wrongdoing. Which will mean Watson will certainly play in the NFL again, but the question is where and when. Multiple teams are reportedly still interested in trading for the star QB.
It's all but certain that Watson will be suspended by the NFL no matter the outcome of this litigation. The NFL has the authority to initiate it's own discipline per the CBA, and Roger Goodell has historically punished guys for drawing negative cloud around the League. Take Ezekiel Elliott for example, he served a 6 game suspension for drawing the attention of an alleged assault, despite the fact that text messages from his accuser were released where she told her friend to make up a story about Zeke hitting her so she could "ruin his career" because she saw him exiting a vehicle with another girl.
Given the nature and volume of the claims against Watson, and the fact that the indisputable facts are not favorable to his character, he will certainly face a very lengthy suspension. If I'm Houston, I'm approaching this season like the beginning of a full rebuild with no expectation that Watson will ever suit up as a Texan ever again. They need to prepare for training camp and get Tyrod Taylor and their rookie quarterback as many reps as possible while looking to the future.
Watson finally broke his silence and posted a video of him working out on May 19th. It's likely everyone will wait for these cases to be resolved, then the trade partners will come out. From a value perspective, Houston's obviously taken a major hit. They'll have to part with Watson for next to nothing given the nature of their relationship and the impending legal consequences.
Look for the Eagles, Broncos, and Washington Football Team to be potential suitors for the quarterback.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM MAKES MORGAN MOSES AVAILABLE
via Mitchell Leff / Getty Images
The Washington Football Team has reportedly made RT Morgan Moses available. This decision likely came after selecting Samuel Cosmi in this year's draft. Moses is an above average starting Tackle, which is honestly hard to come by. Moses could immediately improve any team's offensive line unit. He has a big contract, but he's a straight up force and is a great locker room leader.
Given the fact that the Bengals took a wide receiver in the draft instead of a lineman, look for them to push hard for Moses. He could secure the right side while veteran Reiff holds down the left, giving Joe Burrow some much needed protection and stability.
Also look for the Seahawks to be interested in getting Russell Wilson some additional protection. Moses would be a great fit in Seattle as Russell Wilson has ran around for his life most of his career.
Lastly, the Steelers still have holes on their offensive line. They took some guys in the late rounds of the draft, but they might be projects rather than immediate starters. Moses would be a great fit to help the Steelers contend in the playoffs while Big Ben is still playing quarterback. Pair that with his locker room qualities, Moses could help the Steelers' rookie linemen take that next step.
No matter where Moses goes, don't sleep on the fact that he is one of the hottest commodities available.
WHEN DO THE ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS START?
via Kamil Krzacynski / USA Today Sports
This year's Draft was full of quarterbacks, especially in the first round. When can we expect to see all of the first round QBs leading their teams?
Obviously Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will be week one starters, but when can we expect to see Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones?
Trey Lance: Honestly, we won't see the number 3 overall pick leading the San Francisco offense unless Jimmy Garoppolo picks up an injury. Jimmy G is 22-8 as the 49ers starter. As long as he is healthy, that team will run at a level high enough that they won't want to bench him. Couple that with Lance's lack of experience against elite competition, the Niners will look to take the Kansas City model and let Lance learn behind the seasoned veteran.
Justin Fields: Andy Dalton will be the Week 1 starter for the Bears. He'll likely hold that job for 4-6 weeks until his mediocre performance has Chicago fans begging for Fields. Fields certainly is the future in Chicago, and he might even impress the Bears' front office so much that he starts by Week 1. Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are both riding hot seats, so they will be toting a fine line between coaching for their jobs and looking to not ruin Fields's long term career. This is why we think the Bears will wait to trot out Fields until they absolutely have to.
Mac Jones: A lot of people think we'll see Mac Jones this year, before the halfway point of the season. TRO thinks Cam Newton will flourish with the Patriots' new look roster, and will hold down the starting job for the entire season, leading New England to the playoffs. Jones is certainly the future, and Newton is a short term place holder, but Cam has a lot to prove, and this offense is built to have him succeed enough to keep the job for another year. Not to mention the fact that Newton is honestly a tremendous leader, and Jones will learn a lot about film study and reading NFL defenses after sitting behind Cam for a year.