Happy Friday to all. It’s Cody Benjamin here, filling in for John Breech as he takes one more day to
clean out Fanatics’ supply of Joe Burrow jerseys enjoy vacation. We’ve got plenty more news and notes to tackle from around the NFL.
This is the Pick Six newsletter. Now let’s get to it. (And please, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re signed up to receive this newsletter every day! You don’t want to miss our daily offerings of everything you need to know around the NFL.)
We’ve got DK Metcalf contract news, more Kyler Murray drama, a major injury update, and more:
- Today’s show: Burning questions in the AFC West
Ryan Wilson joined Will Brinson on Friday’s “Pick Six NFL Podcast” to assess arguably the toughest division in the league: the AFC West. Specifically, they explored burning questions for each team. Some highlights:
- Wilson likes Mecole Hardman to emerge as Patrick Mahomes’ top wideout on the Chiefs. Travis Kelce will remain the favorite, he argued, but Hardman is the “safe choice” to clear 1,000 yards even with other veterans coming in.
- Brinson thinks the Chargers will be the popular pick to win the division closer to the season, in part because they just don’t have many glaring holes. Right tackle, he noted, is one of the few spots that could use an upgrade.
- The guys are slightly at odds in terms of expectations for Russell Wilson in Denver, with Brinson hesitating to project instant stardom now that Russ is working with an all-new setup — new coaches, new receivers, etc. — post-Seattle.
Catch the full episode (and subscribe for all kinds of daily NFL talk) right here.
2. Kyler Murray rips media; Cardinals rip up contract clause
Murray and the Cardinals are tied together after agreeing to a $230.5 million extension ahead of camp. But somehow they can’t shake the drama from their relationship. Days after a report revealed the quarterback’s big deal included an unprecedented clause mandating four hours of independent game study per week (implying Murray wouldn’t have studied enough otherwise), Murray held an impromptu press conference Thursday, telling reporters it’s “disrespectful” and “almost a joke” to speculate about his work ethic. Now, the Cardinals have removed the clause from his contract entirely, citing “the distraction it created.” This has all the makings of a great long-term pairing, doesn’t it?
3. Seahawks extend DK Metcalf with $72M deal
Speaking of big deals in the NFC West, Seattle has locked up arguably its top player by signing Metcalf through 2025, making the Pro Bowler the sixth-highest-paid NFL receiver in terms of new money ($24M per year). The 24-year-old big man had been sitting out of practice at camp while negotiating an extension, which includes a $30M signing bonus — the largest ever issued to a player at his position. Metcalf, who topped 1,300 receiving yards in 2020, underwent foot surgery early this offseason but should be on the field soon; he’s not missed a single game since entering the NFL.
4. Bucs lose center Ryan Jensen to serious injury
Tampa Bay may be stacked for another title run, but Tom Brady lost a key starter on Thursday when Jensen, the team’s Pro Bowl center, was carted off due to a knee injury. Just re-signed to a big extension this offseason, the veteran lineman was initially believed to have suffered a season-ending injury, but coach Todd Bowles told reporters Friday that Jensen could return “in a couple of months,” perhaps by November or December, for the latter portion of the season. Regardless, one of Brady’s steadiest blockers is guaranteed to miss some “significant time.”
5. Why A.J. Dillon will take over as Packers’ RB1
Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have Davante Adams this year, so it stands to reason he’ll lean more on Aaron Jones, the Packers’ top running back. Not so fast, says Chris Trapasso, who believes 2022 will prove A.J. Dillon is Green Bay’s new lead ball-carrier:
(Dillon) outpaced Jones 187 to 171 (carries) in 2021. Jones was more efficient, averaging 4.7 yards per to Dillon’s 4.3. But Jones, who turns 28 in December, is now over 1,000 career touches (including the playoffs) into his NFL career. Dillon has 286 professional touches to his name to date. Those thick legs are fresh.
And doesn’t it feel like the next offensive trend ready to take the NFL by storm is the elongation of former feature backs’ careers by way of morphing them into receiving hybrids? Jones and Austin Ekeler would be at the forefront of that movement. … All of this means Dillon is in line to shoulder the traditional, between-the-tackles role in Matt LaFleur’s offense, one with Shanahan principles that will pound the rock often, even with the omnipotent presence of Rodgers at quarterback.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Lamar talks contract, Chiefs add Pro Bowler
Hungry for more headlines? You came to the right place:
- Lamar Jackson addresses contract talks: The QB says he has a ‘cutoff’ for striking an extension this year
- Commanders camp report: Kyle Stackpole has observations from the start of Washington’s practices
- Ron Rivera expects Chase Young to miss games: The pass rusher is still recovering from injury
- Chiefs sign Carlos Dunlap: The former Pro Bowl pass rusher could be an occasional starter in 2022
- Tyreek Hill challenges teams to stop Dolphins receivers: Somebody’s still hyped to be in Miami
- Patriots getting ‘big energy’ from DeVante Parker: The ex-Dolphins wideout could be Mac Jones’ new No. 1