Welcome to the Thursday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
Today is a big day for NFL players and that’s because at the end of the day, summer vacation will be starting almost all of them. Most NFL teams held their mandatory minicamp this week, and every single one of those minicamps will be coming to an end today, which means every NFL player will officially be on summer vacation until the start of training camp.
Actually, I take that back. Not every player will be on summer vacation. There is exactly one team that will be practicing after today and that team is the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick is clearly serious about that “no days off” thing. Although 31 of the NFL’s 32 teams will be done practicing for the offseason as of today, the Patriots won’t be finishing until tomorrow because they have an OTA on Friday.
Although the NFL players will be going on vacation, this newsletter won’t be going anywhere. We’ll still be hitting your inbox every day from now until the end of time. Speaking of time, I think it’s about time we get to the rundown.
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.
1. Today’s show: Breaking down this week’s NFL news, including the latest rumors on Baker Mayfield to the Panthers
Even though we’re inching toward the slow part of the NFL offseason, things definitely haven’t been slow this week. From Minkah Fitzpatrick’s record-setting contract extension to Terry McLaurin skipping mandatory minicamp, there’s been a lot of news, so Ryan Wilson decided to get together with Will Brinson to break down that news for Thursday’s episode of the Pick Six podcast.
One piece of news that has come out this week is the never-ending trade speculation about Baker Mayfield. CBS Sports Lead NFL Insider Jonathan Jones has reported that the Panthers and Browns are still having trade talks about the beleaguered quarterback.
Personally, I’m not sure why the Panthers are so enamored with adding Mayfield. He might be slightly better than Sam Darnold, but Darnold already has a full year in the Panthers’ offense and Mayfield would be starting from scratch. In that sense, it feels like a lateral move. However, Brinson doesn’t feel the same way. He thinks that if the Panthers add Mayfield, they could become a potential PLAYOFF contender in 2022.
“I think he’s an obvious upgrade over Darnold,” Brinson said. “They upgraded the offensive line enough where if D.J. Moore can live up to his contract, if Christian McCaffrey can stay healthy and the defense can improve, the Panthers could be a fringe playoff contender if they can get above average quarterback play.”
Even if they don’t make the playoffs, Brinson does think they’ll almost certainly be better with Mayfield under center. The Panthers finished last season at 5-12 with Darnold as the starter and Brinson sees them improving with Mayfield.
“I think they can win at least seven games if Baker plays like he did in 2020,” Brinson said.
If you want to listen to the two guys break down more NFL news on today’s episode, then be sure to click here. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Ranking the top 10 quarterbacks heading into the 2022 season
As you may or may not have noticed, we love to rank things here at CBSSports.com and because of that, we thought we would spend the next few weeks ranking every position group heading into the 2022 season.
From running backs to receivers to quarterbacks to kickers, we’re going to put together a top-10 ranking for each position group. And since there’s a zero percent chance that you’re going to agree with each ranking, I’m going to be sharing the Twitter handle of each author so you can argue with them about their ranking on social media.
For our first ranking of the offseason, we’re going to start with the top 10 quarterbacks heading into the 2022 season. This list was put together by Cody Benjamin, and if you’d like to tell him how perfect it is or argue with him, you can do that by clicking here.
Top 10 quarterbacks
When the two-time reigning NFL MVP can’t even crack the top-two on your list, you know it’s a competitive list. As Cody notes in his story, the ranking was put together by looking at a combination of past production, present value and the quarterback’s future outlook. Brady’s at the top of the list because no one comes close to matching his past production, and his present value is just as high as any other QB in the league. I mean, the man led the NFL in passing yards last season at the age of 44.
As far as snubs go, I don’t think there are any ugly ones here. You could probably make an argument for someone like Kyler Murray, but I’m not sure who he’d replace in the top 10. You could also probably make an argument for Deshaun Watson, but I’m certainly not going to argue with anyone for keeping him far away from their top 10 list. Anyway, if you want a detailed explanation of this ranking, be sure to click here so you can check out Cody’s entire story.
3. One questionable move made by each AFC team this 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. Last week, we took a look at the best offseason move made by each team in the AFC, so this week, we decided to do the opposite, which is why we asked Jared Dubin to come up with a list that features the most questionable move made by each AFC team this offseason.
Here’s the most questionable move made by five of those teams:
- Patriots: Trade OL Shaq Mason. “New England traded a quality starting guard who has missed 10 games in seven seasons and got only a fifth-round pick in return.”
- Jaguars: Giving Christian Kirk a huge contract (Kirk signed a four-year, $72 million deal). “His deal is effectively a two-year, $37 million contract. But you know what? That’s a lot of money for a player who has never had a 1,000-yard season. And that two-year deal assumes he gets released after 2023, in which case he’d still count for $10 million in dead money on Jacksonville’s books in 2024.”
- Titans: Trading A.J. Brown. “Unless there’s something the Titans know that we don’t about Brown’s health, I’m not sure how you can justify trading away a player of his caliber at just 24 years old.”
- Browns: Deshaun Watson trade and contract. “The cynicism and moral vacuousness it takes to trade for a man who has been accused by (at least) 26 women of sexual misconduct is revolting. The Browns have said they are confident in their research, yet did not even attempt to talk to any of the women who have sued Watson, the lawyer representing them, or any other women he hired who did not sue him or pursue criminal charges against him.”
- Chiefs: Trading Tyreek Hill. “What does Patrick Mahomes look like without Tyreek Hill? We don’t really know, and neither do the Chiefs. Kansas City will evolve, and Mahomes and Andy Reid should be able to figure out a new way to succeed, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t risky to deal away a player with whom Mahomes has shown such great chemistry and who has been the team’s lone consistent source of explosive plays.”
If you want to see the full list, which features all 16 AFC teams, then be sure to click here.
4. George Kittle wants to see the NFL add an extra bye week
49ers star George Kittle would like to see the NFL make a major change to the regular-season schedule and that change is that the tight end wants to see the league add an extra bye week.
Although the NFL expanded the regular season to 17 games in 2021, the league did not add any extra bye weeks to the schedule. During an interview with Kevin Hart — yes, that Kevin Hart — Kittle revealed his thoughts on the situation.
- Kittle says playing 17 games hurts. “There’s a huge physical toll,” Kittle said, via NBC Sports. “And like, 17 games is a lot. It’s a lot of games, with one bye, whether it’s Week 4 or the bye is Week 11. I’m advocating for two byes.”
- The NFL has done two bye weeks before. Surprisingly, the NFL actually experimented with two bye weeks back in 1993, which was the first and only time to date that the league has had two bye weeks during the season.
- Why the NFL scrapped the idea. According to a Sports Illustrated story from 1993, the double bye week was a spectacular failure. From the story: “The double byes are a double disaster. The second bye week was added this season in order to stretch the network TV schedule to 18 weeks. The bonehead result was that there were as few as 10 games per weekend through the first two months of the season, not 14.” The league also eliminated the off-week between the conference title games and the Super Bowl in 1993 and it clearly didn’t like that because it was back the very next season.
- Why it might work this time around. For one, there are more teams. Back in 1993, there were only 28 teams, but now, there are 32 teams, which adds two more games each week. This means the inventory of available games won’t be as diluted as much as it was back then. Also, the NFL was a top-heavy league in the early 1990s. Basically, there were only eight to 10 good teams, which means the networks were getting stuck with a lot of bad games. That’s double-whammy for networks: Not only were they getting fewer games, but they were getting worse games. The double-bye also came before the salary cap era. The salary cap was instituted in 1994 and when that happened, it gradually created a lot more parity, and parity generally means more entertaining games each week.
If the NFL ever expands to 18 games, I could see the league embracing Kittle’s idea. One upside for fans is that if the NFL were to add a bye week to a 17-game season, it would mean that the Super Bowl would be played on President’s Day weekend every year, which means a lot of people wouldn’t have to work on the Monday after the game. On the other hand, adding a second bye week to an 18-game schedule means 20 total weeks for the regular season, which means the Super Bowl would be pushed all the way back to the fourth Sunday in February.
5. 49ers looking to host Super Bowl LX or LXI
It’s been six years since the 49ers hosted a Super Bowl, and the team is already looking to bring the NFL’s biggest game back to the Bay Area. After the 49ers opened a new stadium in 2014, the NFL rewarded the team by giving them Super Bowl 50, which was played in February 2016. (The Broncos beat the Panthers, 24-10, in Peyton Manning’s final game.)
Team president Al Guido revealed this week that the 49ers are now hoping to host another Super Bowl in the next five years.
“We are talking to the NFL and all of our partners around the ability to bring Super Bowl 60 and/or 61 back to the Bay Area and Levi’s Stadium,” Guido said, via 49ersWebzone.com.
The location of the Super Bowl is set for the next three games, but it will be up in the air after that. Here’s a look at where the next three Super Bowls will be played:
Super Bowl LVII (Feb. 12, 2023): Phoenix (Fox)
Super Bowl LVIII (Feb. 11, 2024): Las Vegas (CBS)
Super Bowl LIX (Feb. 9, 2025): New Orleans (Fox)
It’s not clear when the NFL owners will vote on the host cities for Super Bowl LX and LXI, but the league likes to stay three years ahead of things, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a vote take place in the next 12 months.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Colts hit with unexpected retirement
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.
- Colts defensive starter abruptly retires to pursue a new calling. The Colts lost one of their starting safeties on Wednesday when Khari Willis shockingly announced his retirement at the age of 26. For more on this surprising situation, be sure to click here.
- Julian Edelman hints at possible comeback. The former Patriots receiver was asked this week if he was thinking about making a comeback and he didn’t rule it out, “I don’t know, we’ll see,” Edelman said. If he were to come back, Edelman said it would only be with the Patriots, so you can stop dreaming if you were hoping to see him reunite with Tom Brady.
- Roger Goodell to testify in front of Congress, but Dan Snyder won’t. Congress is currently investigating the Washington Commanders for workplace misconduct issues, and although Congress wants to interview Snyder about these issues, that won’t be happening. The Commanders owner said he has a conflict with the hearing date of June 22. Although Congress couldn’t get Snyder to testify, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will be answering questions next week in a hearing that will be conducted virtually. If you want more details on this situation, be sure to click here.
- Saints starter has top of pinky finger amputated. In what might go down as the most painful operation of the season, Marcus Davenport had to have the top of his pinky amputated recently. From our story: “He decided to have the amputation after suffering an infection that was the result of a broken plate from a prior surgery.” Yikes.
- Ron Rivera says Commanders won’t be trading Terry McLaurin. With McLaurin and the Commanders currently at odds over his contract situation, there’s been some speculation that Washington might trade its star receiver, but Rivera shut down that talk on Wednesday. “We’re not trading Terry,” Rivera said via NBC Washington. “We’re trying to get this done. … We believe in who Terry is for us and what he can bring to the table.”