Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
This is usually where the introduction goes, but there is NO TIME for an introduction today because we have way too much going on. We have to rehash everything that happened over the weekend, which was a lot. If you were off the grid for the past 48 hours, then you missed Tom Brady holding his first press conference in nearly a month, the Bills cutting their star punter, a mascot getting injured and a Commanders rookie player getting shot during an attempted robbery, but thankfully, he’s alright.
As for me, I definitely wasn’t off the grid over the weekend and that’s mainly because I can barely survive on the grid thanks in large part to the fact that I live with a toddler. We wouldn’t last more than 11 minutes if we tried to live off the grid.
Anyway, the NFL is likely going to give us total chaos over the next 24 hours and that’s because all 32 teams have to cut their roster down from 80 to 53 players by tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET. Some teams have already started making cuts and you can see who’s been released by checking out our cuts tracker here (We’ll cover the cuts a lot more tomorrow).
In other news, you can still bid on a chance to have a 10-minute Zoom call with me. The auction is for our annual CBS Sports telethon that raises money for St. Jude, so all the money from the auction will be going to charity. If you want to bid, all you have to do is click here. I like talking to myself, so I might even bid.
If you have the winning bid, we can literally talk about anything during our conversation, from your least favorite NFL team to your least favorite breed of cat. Last year, the winning bid went for more than $1,000 — it was the highest at CBS Sports — but this year, it’s much more affordable (The bidding right now is at $84).
Alright, that’s enough of that, let’s 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: Monday Mailbag
During the NFL offseason, we like to spice things up each week on the Pick Six Podcast by adding a listener mailbag every Monday, and somehow, the offseason is almost over, which means no more mailbags. Our final two Monday mailbags will be coming today and next Monday.
If you’ve ever wanted to ask a question on the mailbag, you actually might have the chance to do it live on the podcast! All you have to do is bid on it. Yup, besides bidding on a Zoom call with me, you can also bid on a chance to make a cameo appearance on the podcast. Apparently, asking a mailbag question is something a lot of people have on their bucket list because the bidding is already up over $250 (If you want to top that, you can check out the auction by clicking here).
Anyway, our mailbag episodes are pretty simple: We read listener questions during the show and then answer as many of those questions as possible. Questions can be about literally anything. I mean, I’m pretty sure someone once asked us if one-ply toilet paper is actually worse than two-ply (The answer to that is definitely yes). If we’ll answer that, trust me when I say that we’ll answer almost anything.
Anyway, if you want to submit a question, all you have to do is go to Apple Podcasts (click here) and leave a five-star review that includes your question.
Here’s one question that Ryan Wilson and I answered for today’s show (Will Brinson is usually the host of the show, but we ditched him for the mailbag).
Q: Would a “SUPER” team of the best Falcons, Bears and Texans players beat the Bills in a one-off game in a neutral stadium? As part of this hypothetical, the “SUPER” team gets an offseason together to prepare.
For the sake of clarity, Wilson and I decided to call this “SUPER” team the Turtles, and no, we don’t think there’s any way a team called the Turtles could beat the Bills. The first problem with the Turtles is that they have no quarterback. Out of the Falcons, Bears and Texans, you’d either have to go with Marcus Mariota, Justin Fields or Davis Mills. For that reason alone, I’m picking against the the Turtles.
During the podcast, Wilson and I went through every position group and even when you combine all three teams, there aren’t many things that the Turtles are better at than the Bills (Tight end and running back are two of the positions where the Bills probably aren’t better).
After deciding that the Bills would win, we then set an imaginary point spread for the game, which started at 6.5 points before being bet up to 12.5 points. Our conclusion: If the Bills played a “SUPER” team of the best players from the Falcons, Bears and Texans, we would bet on them to win by 13 or more.
If you want to listen to the rest of the mailbag, be sure to click here. You can also watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Bills cut ties with Matt Araiza after rookie hit with rape accusation in civil lawsuit
The Bills decided to cut Matt Araiza on Saturday, just two days after a civil lawsuit was filed in California that accused him of rape. The Bills kept Araiza on the bench for Friday’s preseason finale against the Panthers and then held him out of practice on Saturday before making the decision to let him go a few hours after that practice.
- Bills general manager Brandon Beane explains the move. “We don’t have all the answers,” Beane told the media on Saturday. “We’re not perfect. But I can tell you, as Sean (McDermott) said earlier, we just tried to do what was right. And has everything been perfect? No. But in our heart of hearts, I can lay my head down at night knowing that I’ve tried to do what’s right, and I know he has too.” Beane also added that the team cut Araiza because they want to see him “take care of this situation and focus on that.”
- The accusations against Araiza. The punter is accused of taking part in a gang rape of a girl who was just 17 at the time of the alleged incident. According to the lawsuit, the accuser went to Araiza’s residence near the San Diego State campus for a Halloween party on Oct. 16, 2021. After arriving at the party, the girl said that Araiza gave her a drink even though she was already inebriated. According to the lawsuit, the girl believes the drink “not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances.” A short time later, Araiza allegedly had sex with the then-high school senior, which was followed by him bringing her into a room where she was raped repeatedly by other individuals. Araiza was one of three men named in the lawsuit along with former San Diego State teammates Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko. Although only three people are named, the girl believes that she may have been raped by as many as 20 men.
- Araiza says the details in the lawsuit aren’t accurate. The punter hasn’t done any interviews since the lawsuit was filed, but he did release a statement on Friday. “The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press,” Araiza said. “I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.”
- The lawsuit presents at least one damning piece of evidence. Less than two weeks after the alleged October 2021 incident, the girl called Araiza while police were listening in. During the call, “Araiza confirmed having sex with [the girl], even telling her that she should get tested for STDs,” according to the lawsuit. Since the girl was only 17 at the time, that could set Araiza up for a case of having sex with a minor, even if there’s no evidence to prove the rest of the allegations.
- The Bills didn’t know about the incident until July 31. There’s been some question about what the Bills knew and when they knew it. The accuser’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, told The Athletic that he reached out to the Bills in an email on July 31. Beane confirmed that Gilleon did reach out, which means the Bills sat on the information for nearly five weeks before deciding to make a move. “At that time, our process, we tried to be thorough and thoughtful and not rush to judgment,” Beane said. “I would say it’s not easy, you’re trying to put facts around a legal situation, sometimes with limited information, and so ultimately that’s where we’re at today with a decision.”
- Some teams did know about the accusation. Although the Bills were in the dark about the accusation when they drafted Araiza, apparently there were teams that did know, which might have been why he dropped to the sixth round in the draft. The Associated Press talked to at least two teams that knew Araiza had been involved in some sort of incident while at San Diego State.
- What’s next for Buffalo. With Araiza off the roster, the Bills now have just 10 days to find a punter before their opener against the Rams. The team started that process over the weekend by working out four punters on Sunday: Michael Palardy, Ty Long, Tyler Newson and Joseph Charlton.
One interesting thing about this case is that Araiza apparently had the opportunity to settle the lawsuit out of court (based on information from the accuser’s attorney) and he turned that down. Not only is Araiza facing a civil lawsuit, but there could also be criminal charges. The San Diego Police Department has submitted its investigation to prosecutors for a review of the rape allegation, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office told WIVB.com on Friday. Although the prosecutors are now reviewing the case, they haven’t yet announced if there will be any criminal charges filed.
3. Tom Brady speaks publicly for first time in nearly a month
For the first time in nearly four weeks, Tom Brady met with the media over the weekend and as you can imagine, everyone had a lot of questions for him. Brady’s postgame press conference following the Buccaneers‘ preseason finale on Saturday marked the first time since Aug. 1 that he’s done an interview.
Here’s what he had so say on a variety of topics:
- Brady (kind of) explains his 11-day absence. Brady left the team on Aug. 11 and didn’t return until Aug. 22. During that time, he reportedly spent some time in the Bahamas with his wife. Brady was asked about the time off and he gave a very interesting answer. “Everyone has different situations they’re dealing with and we all have unique challenges to our lives,” Brady said Saturday. “I’m 45-years old, man. There’s a lot of shit going on, so you just have to try and figure out life the best you can. You know, it’s a continuous process.”
- Brady responds to the rumors that he wanted to play for another team. Believe it or not, this was Brady’s first interview since the tampering investigation into the Dolphins was released. This was also his first interview since Dana White said Brady almost played for the Raiders. Despite evidence showing that the Buccaneers may not have been his first choice during free agency in 2020, Brady says they were his first choice. “I read all these different stories about all these different places I was supposed to go or could have gone,” Brady said, via JoeBucsFan.com. “I was only going to go to one place, which was here. I think this whole organization knows that.”
- Brady says Tampa Bay was the right place for him. “All the conversations we’ve had over a period of time — I chose the right place for me. And I’m very proud of the effort that everyone’s put in to make the relationship work,” Brady said, via ESPN.com. “[Owner/co-chairman] Joel [Glazer] has been amazing. [General manager] Jason [Licht’s] a great friend of mine. Bruce [Arians],Todd [Bowles], all the coaches. It’s been an amazing relationship and I’m very grateful to everybody for allowing me to come down here and experience this part of my football life which, [if] I looked back, it would probably be incomplete had I not had it. I’m happy I’ve had it.”
- Brady might be in trouble to start the season. In actual football news, the Buccaneers are dealing with two more injuries on the offensive line, which isn’t good news for a team that was already short-handed. Center Robert Hainsey suffered an ankle injury while left guard Nick Leverett injured his shoulder. Hainsey was supposed to be taking over for Ryan Jensen, who is out due to a serious knee injury. If Hainsey can’t play, that would mean that the Bucs would be down to their third-string center. As for Leverett, he was taking over for Aaron Stinnie, who was taking over for Ali Marpet. The Bucs lost Marpet to retirement and then lost Stinnie last week to a torn ACL. Basically, the Buccaneers are running out of offensive linemen.
In one final piece of Brady news, the 45-year-old was voted the top player on the NFL’s annual top-100 list. Brady finished ahead of Aaron Donald, Aaron Rodgers and Cooper Kupp, who came in second, third and fourth on the list. If you want to see the entire top-100 list, be sure to click here.
4. Winners and losers from Week 3 of the NFL preseason
Because I asked him nicely, Cody Benjamin sat in front of a television for 72 straight hour watching every game over the weekend so that he could give us a list of winners and losers from the final week of the preseason and I’m going to share part of that list with you now.
With that in mind, let’s check out the losers from Cody’s list.
- Drew Lock. “The ex-Broncos gunslinger basically threw himself out of a job during Seattle’s tight loss to the Cowboys. His arm was active, to be sure, but at least two of his three picks were head-scratchers, and Geno Smith once again proved more reliable, if unexciting, hence Pete Carroll crowning the former Jets starter his guy for Week 1.”
- Patriots offense. “They’ve been losing all offseason, to be frank, so their flop against the Raiders in a 23-6 loss wasn’t necessarily a surprise. Then again, Las Vegas was mostly deploying backups, so there is real cause for concern here. Mac Jones threw a bad pick, and the unit just could not get into a rhythm. Maybe don’t have old defensive and special teams coaches develop your QB!”
- Saints offensive line. “Not because they’re porous like the Steelers‘ transitioning unit, but because rookie left tackle Trevor Penning, specifically drafted to replace veteran Terron Armstead, went down with a bad injury that’ll require surgery and keep him out indefinitely. Now there’s even more pressure on Jameis Winston to stay upright as he recovers from his own injury.”
If you want to see the winners on Cody’s list, be sure to click here. If you want to read more about the preseason, we also ranked how every rookie QB played over the weekend and you can check that out here.
5. Commanders rookie shot during robbery attempt
Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr. was shot multiple times during an apparent armed robbery attempt or carjacking attempt that took place on Sunday night in Washington DC.
Here’s what we know about the situation:
- Robinson was shot twice. According to NFL.com, Robinson suffered two gunshot wounds to his lower extremities with one shot hitting his glute and one hitting his lower leg. The wounds were inflicted by two suspects who fled the scene. The crime took place just before 6 p.m. ET, according to ESPN.com.
- The rookie is in stable condition. The good news in all of this is that Robinson is in stable condition. The team offered an update on Robinson on Sunday night, “He sustained non-life-threatening injuries and is currently being treated at the hospital, where team officials are on-site with him. We ask that you please respect Brian’s privacy at this time.”
- Ron Rivera spent some time with Robinson on Sunday night. The Commanders head coach dropped what he was doing on Sunday night to visit with Robinson. “I just got done visiting w/Brian,” Rivera said in a tweet late Sunday. “He is in good spirits and wanted me to thank everyone for their kind words, prayers & support. He wants his teammates to know he appreciates them all for reaching out and he loves them all & will be back soon doing what he does best.” Besides Rivera, team owners Dan and Tanya Snyder, president Jason Wright and general manager Martin Mayhew also visited with Robinson on Sunday night.
The rookie running back, who was selected in the third-round, had a strong training camp and was believed to be a front-runner to be one of Washington’s top work horses in the backfield this year. During the preseason, he carried the ball 14 times for 57 yards and a touchdown in just two games (He didn’t play during Washington’s preseason finale against the Ravens on Saturday, which Baltimore won 17-15).
Due to the nature of the injuries, Rivera has rightfully refused to put a timeline on when Robinson might be able to return to the field. That being said, Rivera didn’t rule out the possibility of Robinson maybe getting back on the field at some point this season.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: QB battle is over in Seattle, but Steelers’ job is still up in the air
It was a wild weekend 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.
- Geno Smith named Week 1 starter for Seahawks. Smith was widely viewed as the front-runner to win the QB job when training camp started and he ended up getting it. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll named Smith the team’s opening day starter following Seattle’s 27-26 preseason loss to the Cowboys on Friday. If Drew Lock had any chance to win the job, he blew it with an ugly three-interception game that included throwing a pick on his second pass of the night.
- Mike Tomlin keeping everyone in the dark with Steelers’ QB decision. If Tomlin has made a decision about the Steelers’ starting QB job, he’s not telling anyone just yet. Here’s what Tomlin had to say following Pittsburgh’s 19-9 win over the Lions on Sunday, “Like I told you guys the other week, we’re not going to make knee-jerk reactions and statements following a performance,” Tomlin said. “We’ll go through our proper, professional procedure. We’ll evaluate the game. We’ll meet with our front office people. We’ll have discussions. We’ll talk internally. We’ll talk external possibilities. We’ll go through our normal procedure this time of year, and we’ll disclose it to you at our leisure, to be quite honest with you.” In the win, Mitchell Trubisky looked sharp, going 15 of 19 for 160 yards and a touchdown. If I had to guess now, I’d say the job goes to Trubisky, but that he’ll have a short leash going into the regular season.
- Former Patriots star Trey Flowers to sign with Dolphins. The Dolphins added some pass-rushing help over the weekend with the addition of Flowers. According to NFL.com, the 29-year-old has agreed to a one-year deal that’s worth up to $3 million. Flowers spent the first four seasons of his career with the Patriots before jumping to ship to Detroit, where he spent the past three years.
- Dolphins senior VP of communications passes away at 47. Jason Jenkins, the Dolphins’ senior vice president of communications, died unexpectedly on Saturday at the age of 47. Jenkins had been with the team for nearly 15 years and his loss sent shockwaves of sadness throughout the organization. “This was a healthy, healthy guy that just brought it every day. … Just full of life,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said over the weekend while battling tears. “That’s the hardest part. There’s just no words to describe.”
- Sam Darnold expected to miss four to six weeks. For the second time this offseason, the Panthers have a lost a backup QB to injury. Darnold is expected to miss four to six weeks after suffering a major ankle sprain in Carolina’s 21-0 win over the Bills on Friday. Darnold’s injury comes less than a week after rookie QB Matt Corral suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury.
- Panthers likely need a new kicker to start the season. Panthers kicker Zane Gonzalez is likely going to miss a few weeks after suffering a groin injury on Friday while doing warm up kicks on the sideline. According to The Athletic, the Panthers are bringing in both Eddy Pineiro and Brian Johnson for a tryout today. The Panthers will likely have an even longer list of kickers to choose from after cuts are made.
- Ravens mascot carted off field. Even mascots can suffer injuries. Poe the Raven had to be carted off the field after suffering an apparent knee injury while participating in a halftime football game that pitted youth players against team mascots. You can see a video of the injury by clicking here.
- Titans to cut ties with Brett Kern. The three-time Pro Bowler has been in Tennessee since 2009, but it looks like his time there will be coming to an end. According to ESPN.com, Kern will be released today. The veteran was in a punting competition with Ryan Stonehouse and it appears the Titans have decided to go with the rookie.