Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
The month of June is usually a slow time in the NFL, but Tom Brady has single-handedly changed that this year. We’re only 10 days into the month and he’s already: Won a golf tournament with Aaron Rodgers, modeled underwear, dyed his hair orange and given his first press conference of the offseason.
I have no idea what Brady has in store for the rest of the month, but I won’t be surprised if he buys a castle, adopts a kangaroo or goes to space. I mean, at this point, literally anything is on the table.
Speaking of Brady, we’ll be taking a close look at what he had to say during his first press conference of the offseason on Thursday. We’ll also be going over what Davante Adams had to say during his first meeting of the offseason with the media.
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. Let’s get to the rundown.
1. Today’s show: What’s the Rams‘ Super Bowl window and is their roster-building plan sustainable?
Even though we’re inching toward the slow part of the NFL offseason, things definitely haven’t been slow this week. From Cooper Kupp’s extension to Brady’s first press conference in nearly five months, there’s been a lot of news. To break it all down, I joined Will Brinson and Tyler Sullivan for Friday’s episode of the Pick Six podcast.
During the episode, we spent a lot of time talking about the Rams and their team-building philosophy of “trade away all your draft picks for star players.” It’s definitely an interesting strategy, but it’s also risky, which is probably why we haven’t seen other NFL teams attempt to emulate them.
Basically, Les Snead has decided that he’s going to run the Rams like an NBA franchise with a thought process of “we’re going to get some superstars in here and then we’re going to fill in the gaps with players who cost $2 million per year and then we’re going to be competitive.”
Four of those superstars — Aaron Donald, Matthew Stafford, Jalen Ramsey and Cooper Kupp — are going to eat up nearly 40% of the Rams’ cap space in 2022. Most teams try to avoid letting just four players eat up that much space, but the Rams don’t care because their philosophy just won them a Super Bowl.
If you’re wondering how they can afford to keep handing out these big contracts, it’s because Snead has no problem kicking the can down the road. The Saints once mastered this strategy with Drew Brees’ contract, but it blew up in their face when the salary cap went down in 2020.
The good news for Snead is that he doesn’t have to worry about this because the salary cap is expected to go up by $15 million to $20 million per year over the life of the new TV deal. Since the Rams have their core players under contract now, it will be easy for them to figure out how much salary cap space they’ll have going forward, which is why it feels like they have a strong Super Bowl window for at least the next two to three years. On the other hand, a team like the Ravens has no idea what their cap situation will look like over the next few years because they don’t know what kind of cap hit they’re going to take each season from a potential new contract for Lamar Jackson.
If you want to listen to today’s episode, where he also cover Brady’s first press conference in five months, then be sure to click here. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Tom Brady holds first press conference since announcing his return: Here’s what he had to say
It’s been nearly three months since Brady announced that he was returning to football, and somehow, he managed to go that entire three-month period without holding a press conference. Fortunately for us, that drought ended on Thursday when Brady finally met with the media. During the presser, he spent a good chunk of time answering questions about everything that came up this offseason from his relationship with Bruce Arians to whether he flirted with the Dolphins.
- Brady doesn’t deny flirting with the Dolphins. Brady was asked if he talked with the Dolphins this off-season about possibly joining the team in any capacity and he definitely didn’t deny it. The 44-year-old could have simply said ‘no, I didn’t talk to them,’ but instead, he said this, “I’ve had a lot of conversations with a lot of people, as I’ve had for the past three or four years in my career, about different opportunities when I’m done playing football. I kind of made a decision of what I’d like to do. I’ll get to be in the game of football. … The most important thing is where I’m at now and what I hope to do for this team. That’s been my commitment, to this team and this organization.” That sounds like a guy who definitely talked to the Dolphins.
- What’s the state of Brady’s relationship with Bruce Arians? After Arians surprisingly retired on March 30, there was some speculation that he only stepped down because he wasn’t getting along with Brady. However, the Buccaneers QB denies that claim. “He and I have a great relationship,” Brady said of Arians, via ESPN.com. “Part of the reason I chose here was because of Bruce. I mean, he and I have been — incredible communication — I have great respect for him. He knows how I feel about him — that’s the most important thing. And I know how he feels about me.”
- Brady also got asked about Gronk. One big unknown this offseason is whether Rob Gronkowski is going to return. Brady was asked if he had any inside information on the subject, and unfortunately, he does not. “I think it’s just, obviously, totally up to him. We’d all love to play with him, but he’s got to make the best decision for himself, and he knows that,” Brady said. “Anybody that cares about him knows that he is doing what’s right for him, which is trying to figure it out. We don’t have training camp for about six weeks, so whatever he has to do to figure it out. I think we will be hopeful if he does. And if he doesn’t, we’ve still got to go out there and figure out what to do.”
Of all the subjects he touched on, I find the Dolphins thing especially interesting because it’s pretty clear that he had talks with them. That’s important to remember because Brady is going to be a free agent after the 2022 season, which means he’ll be free to sign with anyone. If he was talking to Miami this year, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him having a conversation with them in 2023.
3. Davante Adams explains why he ditched Aaron Rodgers for Derek Carr
Brady wasn’t the only star NFL player to hold his first press conference of the offseason on Thursday, so did Adams, and like Brady, the Raiders receiver had a lot of interesting things to say.
Let’s take a look at what was on Adams’ mind:
- Uncertainty about Aaron Rodgers’ future played a part in the decision to ask for a trade. Adams said he talked a lot with Rodgers this offseason, “We talked throughout the whole process and he was aware of where I stood, and I was aware of where he stood,” Adams said. “We had talks just like what he said the other day. He mentioned we had talks about his future and what he thinks his duration in Green Bay or just football in general would look like, and that played into my decision, as well.
- Adams seems to think that Rodgers only has one or two years left. Adams wanted out of Green Bay because he simply doesn’t think Rodgers is going to be around much longer, “Where I am in my career — and this isn’t a shot at anybody, any other quarterbacks, in Green Bay, I love Jordan Love especially, he’s a great guy — I got aspirations of doing really, really big things and being remembered, and it just wasn’t really a point in my career that I was willing to sacrifice Aaron not being there after a year or two.”
- Adams thinks Derek Carr is as good as Aaron Rodgers. In the biggest surprise of the day, Adams said that Carr is just as good as Rodgers. “As far as talent and ability, it’s really similar, if I’m keeping it real,” Adams said, via NFL.com. “The release is a lot different, but being able to get the ball to you late, if they see you coming out of a break, not many quarterbacks can get it to you before you get to the sideline if you’re outside the numbers already. Having two guys like that with really strong arms, and understand the game, the mental part of it, is another similarity that they have. They both obsess over it and they know everything that’s going on out there.”
- The Packers did offer Adams more money than the Raiders. After Adams was traded to Las Vegas, it was reported that the Packers offered him more money than the Raiders, but that he turned it down because he wanted to play for the Raiders. As it turns out, that’s actually true. “You guys have heard Green Bay offered this which is higher than what I was [going to make with the Raiders] and all of that. And, yeah, I’ll say it, it was true. OK, it was true,” Adams said, via PFT. “But there’s much more that goes into it. And family is a big part of it for me.”
Adams signed a five-year, $141.25 million contract with the Raiders after the trade. As far as his family goes, Adams is from the West Coast and it’s pretty clear that he wanted to get back closer to them after spending eight seasons in Green Bay.
4. The best move made by each AFC team during the 2022 offseason
From free agency to the draft to making trades, it’s been a busy offseason for every team in the AFC. One thing that’s always true about the offseason is that some moves are better than others and since we wanted to know which ones were the best, we had Cody Benjamin come up with a list of the best move made by each AFC team this offseason.
Here’s the best move made by five of those teams:
- Bills: Signing Von Miller. “If Miller brings anything close to what he brought during his peak moments in Denver and Los Angeles, Sean McDermott should feel good about his “D” helping Josh Allen make a real run.”
- Colts: Trading for Matt Ryan. “Yes, the Colts still have long-term QB issues, and Ryan is more steady than special these days, but with another big run game and defense, they’ve got the recipe for a playoff bid.”
- Dolphins: Hiring Mike McDaniel as head coach. “In an offseason where Miami landed Tyreek Hill, Terron Armstead and literally three starting running backs, their new coach is the biggest reason Dolphins fans should look forward to what Tua Tagovailoa and the offense can do in 2022.”
- Patriots: Drafting CB Marcus Jones. “Jones has been compared to former Chiefs playmaker Dante Hall as a return man, and he figures to see an immediate role in Bill Belichick’s defense.”
- Bengals: Signing OL Alex Cappa. “The top of Cincinnati’s draft haul (S Daxton Hill, CB Cam Taylor-Britt) brings juice to the defense, and ex-Cowboys tackle La’el Collins is the bigger name. But Cappa brings such stability to the interior of a line charged with protecting the team’s top asset, QB Joe Burrow. He hasn’t missed a regular-season start as one of Tom Brady’s most underrated blockers the last two years.”
If you want to see the full list, which features all 16 AFC teams, then be sure to click here.
5. Under-the-radar AFC players who can be stars in 2022
Apparently, this newsletter is only covering AFC teams today. After going over the best move made by each AFC team this offseason, we’re now going to look at one under-the-radar player for each AFC team who could turn into a star in 2022.
Here’s the list, which was put together by Jeff Kerr.
- Ravens: RB J.K. Dobbins. “Dobbins missed the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL, making many forget how productive he was in his rookie season two years ago. Dobbins was the first rookie in NFL history with 800 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, and 6.0-yards-per-carry average in a season — one of six players all time to accomplish the feat.”
- Browns: WR Donovan Peoples-Jones. “Already a big-play threat in Cleveland’s offense, Donovan Peoples-Jones should thrive as the No. 2 wide receiver to Amari Cooper — especially if Deshaun Watson is the quarterback to start the season.”
- Texans: QB Davis Mills. “Did you know Mills led the NFL in red zone passer rating last season (116.8)? A surprise of the Texans’ offense, there could be an argument made Mills was the best of the rookie quarterbacks in 2021. Mills ranks third in NFL history among all rookie quarterbacks in completion percentage (66.8%) and had three games with a passer rating of 125 or higher — tied for the second-most among rookie quarterbacks since the 1970 merger. Even though the Texans’ offense leaves much to be desired, a better offensive line and a year under his belt could set up the QB for an even better second season.”
- Jaguars: RB Travis Etienne. “Missing all of his rookie year with a Lisfranc injury, the Jaguars’ offense will be set up for Travis Etienne to shine. Doug Pederson’s West Coast-based scheme will give Etienne plenty of targets in the backfield, especially while James Robinson is taking time to rehab from his injury.”
- Chargers: CB Asante Samuel Jr. “He had an impressive rookie season, allowing just a 69.2 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks when he was the primary defender with three touchdowns. His two interceptions also showcased a playmaking ability, similar to when his father was controlling the secondary. … Year 2 in Brandon Staley’s complex defense could help Samuel become one of the breakout cornerbacks in the league.”
If you want to see the full list of under-the-radar players in the AFC, then be sure to click here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Hunter Renfrow lands extension from Raiders
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.
- Hunter Renfrow gets two-year contract extension. Renfrow’s rookie contract was set to expire at the end of the 2022 season, but that’s no longer the case after he signed an extension on Friday. According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones, the two-year deal is worth a total of $32 million and includes $21 million in guaranteed money.
- Browns unlikely to pursue Odell Beckham. Last week, we saw Myles Garrett trying to recruit Odell to the Browns, but maybe he should have spent his time trying to convince the Browns that they need Odell. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, it’s viewed as unlikely that the Browns bring Beckham back to Cleveland this offseason.
- Broncos‘ new ownership discussing possible role for Peyton Manning. The former Broncos QB could soon be getting a job with the team now that it’s about to be under new ownership. According to ESPN.com, the Broncos are interested in giving Manning an advisory role. Manning hasn’t shown any interest in taking a job with an NFL team since his retirement, but it appears the Broncos might try to change his mind by offering him a role that could lead to an eventual equity stake in the franchise, according to ESPN.
- Jason Garrett likely headed to NBC. The former Cowboys coach could be headed for NBC’s Sunday night pregame show. According to the New York Post, the network is looking at the possibility of bringing in Garrett to replace Drew Brees, who is done at NBC after just one season.
- Michael Thomas doubtful to practice at minicamp. The Saints receiver has been dealing with his ankle injury for almost two years now and he’s still not quite fully healed. Saints coach Dennis Allen admitted on Thursday that Thomas still isn’t 100% and that it’s doubtful that he’ll be able to participate in mandatory minicamp.
- Ex-Cowboys star dies at age 84. Don Perkins, who spent his entire eight-year career with the Cowboys, died on Thursday. The running back was selected to the Pro Bowl in six of his eight seasons. During his Cowboys career, he rushed for 6,217 career yards with 42 touchdowns, which both still rank fourth in franchise history. Perkins finished with a top 10 rushing total in each of his eight NFL seasons. Perkins was inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1976.