Rodgers, Watson drama tops NFL training camp storylines

Play right here. Play someplace else. Or don’t play in any respect.

The three doable outcomes are the identical for each Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson, although the circumstances below which the 2 quarterbacks arrived at these crossroads are very totally different. As all NFL training camps get underway this week, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over two nice quarterbacks who need recent begins and two entrance places of work set in opposition to granting these needs.

How landscape-altering are these resolutions going to be? If Rodgers returns to the Packers, they could win the Super Bowl. If Watson returns to the Texans, they need to win sufficient video games to keep away from the No. 1 choose within the 2022 draft.

Watson’s distrust of the Texans — spurred after they reneged on a promise to offer him enter into the overall supervisor and coach hirings — prompted a commerce demand in January. Rodgers’ mistrust of the Packers — rising ever since Green Bay’s shock choice of quarterback Jordan Love within the 2020 draft — prompted him to skip obligatory minicamp for the primary time in his profession. He has not but demanded a commerce.

It’s not an apples-to-apples comparability as a result of Watson additionally faces a civil lawsuit brought by 22 females who allege sexual misconduct. The swimsuit makes Watson’s $156 million contract nearly untradeable till there’s extra readability round his legal responsibility and potential sanctions.

NFL
Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson
AP, Getty Images

The NFL usually doesn’t self-discipline gamers till the authorized system runs its course. One often-used, time-buying state of affairs can be Roger Goodell placing Watson on the Commissioner’s Exempt List to maintain him out of Texans training camp.

Rodgers reportedly turned down a two-year extension that might’ve stored him below the Packers’ management by means of 2025 and made him the highest-paid participant within the NFL, which illustrates the connection is broken past something cash can restore. Many NFL decision-makers consider he needs to succeed in free company as quickly as doable, to match the ability cultivated by Tom Brady and NBA superstars.

Hoping time heals all wounds, the Packers had no purpose to commerce Rodgers over the previous three months. But now? Deadlines spur motion. And the Packers are shedding footing within the court docket of public opinion due to stories of broken-down contract negotiations with star receiver Davante Adams.

Rodgers should present his hand first. Will he report to training camp or hold out? Fines kick in on the sixth day of a holdout, by which period the Packers had higher know if they will name Rodgers’ bluff and see if he’ll sit out a season in his late prime, or commerce the longer term Hall of Famer for belongings to boost Love’s possibilities of succeeding. If draft picks, quite than assist in 2021, are the specified return, Rodgers’ commerce worth shall be simply as excessive — or larger — in October as in July.

In a league by which Brady left the Patriots and instantly lifted the Buccaneers from a 13-year-playoff drought to a championship, the Broncos lead the pack of dreamers at getting their palms on a newly motivated Rodgers, who has had 4 seasons finish one step from the Super Bowl.

Watson’s market would’ve been strong, given his age (25) and contract controllability. There as soon as was discuss of 4 first-round draft picks because the can’t-refuse value.

The image has modified, as a result of even when the swimsuit is settled or dismissed in time for Watson to be on the sphere this yr, he should reply for his alleged habits. Any workforce trying to make a commerce (the Eagles, Broncos and Dolphins come to thoughts) must weigh the dangers for being seen as ignorant to claims he used his energy and affect as an NFL quarterback to victimize therapeutic massage therapists.

Here are 9 different NFL storylines for training camp:

Vaccination standing

The NFL isn’t forcing gamers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, however it’s mandated for coaches — and Vikings assistant Rick Dennison’s job is in danger for refusing to be vaccinated. The hoops that non-vaccinated gamers have to leap by means of to be round teammates on and off the sphere are vital. If a recreation is canceled due to an outbreak and may’t be rescheduled (which is unlikely as a result of it didn’t occur final yr through the peak of the pandemic) gamers on each groups won’t be paid for the week and a forfeit may very well be utilized to the workforce that has the outbreak.

Vaccination standing may very well be the forbidden-but-unprovable tiebreaker in roster cuts. It may divide a locker room. Bills receiver Cole Beasley refused the vaccine and threatened to retire if pressured to stick to protocols. Cardinals All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins admitted ideas of retirement because of the vaccine. Eighty p.c of gamers have acquired at the least one dose — 9 groups are over 90 p.c vaccinated, 5 groups are below 70 p.c and all are above 50 p.c — based on chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills.

Tebow-mania

Was it unusual when the Jaguars signed a quarterback who has been out of the NFL since 2012 and requested him to play tight finish? Yes. But the uproar created by Tim Tebow’s addition was excessive. What first-time NFL head coach doesn’t have favorites he trusts to construct tradition within the locker room?

Urban Meyer and teammates shall be requested about Tebow’s improvement (perhaps taking some scrutiny off rookie Trevor Lawrence) at each apply. Cameras will deal with him stretching. Fans in Gator Country will purchase his jersey. And then, if he makes the reduce from 90 to 53 gamers, perhaps it will likely be value discussing if he actually can block and catch.

Jaguars
Tim Tebow
Getty Images

Contracts and holdouts

Contract disputes aren’t restricted to quarterbacks. Safeties Marcus Maye (Jets), Jamal Adams (Seahawks) and Minkah Fitzpatrick (Steelers), cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (Patriots) and Xavien Howard (Dolphins), and edge rusher Chandler Jones (Cardinals) are holdout candidates. The franchise-tagged Maye is the one one ineligible for a long-term deal. Maye’s former teammate, Adams, holds essentially the most leverage over his workforce.

Welcome again

After the one-year ban because of COVID-19 protocols, there shall be 13 joint apply periods from Aug. 7-26. Fans additionally return, although extra continuously in some locations than others: The Colts have 19 open practices in comparison with zero for the Titans. Fans should stay greater than 20 ft away from coaches and gamers always.

New-look Patriots

Life after Brady resulted within the Patriots’ first shedding season since 2000 and a subsequent $300 million free-agent spending spree. Those new faces, plus stars getting back from COVID-19 opt-outs, shall be handled to a real quarterback battle. Will former NFL MVP Cam Newton get a second probability to guide the Patriots, after he was ineffective final yr coming off of assorted accidents? Or will 69-year-old coach Bill Belichick be desperate to get to the longer term with first-round choose Mac Jones, who is understood to shortly digest playbooks?

Patriots
Mac Jones
AP

Other QB spotlights

Brady is coming off knee surgical procedure, however since he received Super Bowl MVP whereas reportedly taking part in by means of a torn MCL, it appears unlikely to be his kryptonite. How will 4 traded beginning quarterbacks — Sam Darnold (Panthers), Matthew Stafford (Rams), Jared Goff (Lions) and Carson Wentz (Colts) — adapt? Will any of rookies Jones, Justin Fields (Bears) and Trey Lance (49ers) be a part of the highest two picks — Lawrence (Jaguars) and Zach Wilson (Jets) — as Week 1 starters? Who will change retired nice Drew Brees with the Saints: Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston?

Trailblazer

Carl Nassib turns into just the second openly gay player in an NFL training camp. The first, Michael Sam, by no means performed in a regular-season recreation. Nassib, with 20.5 profession sacks, is a distinct case as a near-lock to make the Raiders. So far, teammates and gamers throughout the NFL have been supportive of Nassib’s sexual orientation. But so far as sports activities have are available variety, Asian-American gamers nonetheless skilled racism within the NBA in 2021. Will Nassib be topic to homophobia in somebody’s phrases or actions as soon as the “locker-room” and “trash-talk” cultures return?

Still obtainable

Once anticipated to signal someplace between now and the common season, future Hall of Fame cornerback Richard Sherman faces 4 misdemeanor prices after an arrest in Seattle. He vowed to “get the help I need” after his spouse reported his suicidal ideas to 911. Will Sherman return to the NFL? Offensive tackles Mitchell Schwartz and Russell Okung — coming off accidents — are the opposite prime veteran free brokers obtainable after pass-rusher Melvin Ingram not too long ago landed with the Steelers.

Cowboys on “Hard Knocks”

For the third time since 2002, “America’s Team” is the main target of HBO’s inside training camp collection that has contributed to gamers getting traded and coaches getting fired. Drama meets extra drama! Owner Jerry Jones will get to indicate off his yacht and his social gathering bus. Running again Ezekiel Elliott and linebacker Micah Parsons aren’t any strangers to controversies. And newly minted $160 million quarterback Dak Prescott’s restoration from a compound ankle fracture will obtain exhaustive protection.

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