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#pounditFriday, February 23, 2024

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1 QB’s stock rising rapidly ahead of NFL Draft

The NFL logo

Feb 6, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; The NFL shield logo is seen at midfield before the Pro Bowl football game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the discussion leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft has centered around the three big quarterback prospects, but a fourth player at the position is starting to generate a lot more buzz.

Former Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy has seen his stock rapidly rise with roughly two months to go until the draft. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Media released his latest mock draft this week, and he has McCarthy going to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8.

McCarthy climbing up the board has been a common theme among analysts in recent days. A report last week claimed an NFC team has McCarthy ranked as their second quarterback overall. Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton is also said to be high on the former Wolverines star, and that has been reflected in some recent mocks.

McCarthy is coming off a national championship-winning season with Michigan. He is a legitimate dual-threat prospect, but most people don’t view him as anything close to a game-breaker. He passed for over 300 yards in a game just once last season. Over Michigan’s final six games, McCarthy passed for more than 200 yards just once.

The consensus is still that Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels will be taken ahead of McCarthy. However, McCarthy is starting to separate himself from Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix and suddenly looks like a first-round lock.

While Jim Harbaugh’s wild prediction about his former quarterback may not come true, McCarthy has a legitimate chance to be a top-10 pick if his arrow continues to point up.

Marlins sign 2-time All-Star shortstop

A Miami Marlins hat

Apr 11, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of a New Era Miami Marlins hat in the dugout during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins have a new starting shortstop.

Tim Anderson has agreed to a 1-year, $5 million deal with the Marlins, according to multiple reports.

Anderson was one of the bigger names still available on the free-agent market. The 30-year-old spent the first eight years of his career with the Chicago White Sox and was named an All-Star in 2021 and 2022. Anderson won a Silver Slugger Award in 2020 and an AL batting title in 2019.

The White Sox decided to move on from Anderson this offseason after he had become a bit of a malcontent. There was some talk that Anderson might have to move to second base, but the Marlins intend to have him play shortstop.

Anderson batted just .245 in 123 games last season, so the Marlins will be hoping for better production out of the career .282 hitter.

Bijan Robinson has 1 huge goal for his second NFL season

Bijan Robinson warming up with the Falcons

Aug 18, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) runs off the field after the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Bijan Robinson showed off his incredible playmaking ability during his rookie season with the Atlanta Falcons, but the former Texas star is aiming much, much higher heading into his second year in the NFL.

Robinson finished with 1,463 total yards from scrimmage this past season. He had 976 yards and 4 touchdowns rushing and 487 yards and another 4 scores through the air. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated at the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, Robinson said he wants 2,000 yards next season — all on the ground.

“I want 2,000 yards rushing,” Robinson said. “I know those are big expectations, what we can do as an offense, with all the weapons, our O-line, with (new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson) being at the helm, it can be something special.”

Robinson said he thinks 2024 has the potential to be “one of those special seasons” for Atlanta. He added that he believes former Falcons head coach Arthur Smith took on too many responsibilities by trying to coach the team and call plays. Robinson feels the offense should be in better shape with offensive coordinator Zac Robinson in charge of playcalling under new head coach Raheem Morris.

Though Robinson’s production last season was impressive, Smith faced a lot of criticism over the way he utilized the dynamic running back.

If Robinson can stay healthy and gets more touches next season, he should have no problem eclipsing 2,000 total scrimmage yards. Whether he can accomplish that strictly on the ground is another story.

Longtime Bill Belichick assistant follows Bill O’Brien to Boston College

Bill O'Brien points at practice

Jul 26, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien directs the office on a drill during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Bill O’Brien was recently hired as the new head coach at Boston College, and a longtime New England Patriots assistant is going with him.

Boston College is expected to hire Berj Najarian as their football program’s chief of staff, according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel. Najarian has spent the last 24 seasons with the Patriots, mostly as the director of football/head coach administration.

Najarian was better known as Belichick’s right-hand man. While there was an element of mystery behind what Najarian’s actual job was, he worked constantly with Belichick and is extremely close with the head coach. Najarian even caddied for Belichick at the PGA’s Pebble Beach pro-am event years ago.

Christopher Price of the Boston Globe on Thursday described Najarian as “the most organized and efficient guy on the planet.”

O’Brien had two separate stints as an offensive assistant under Belichick in New England, so he has plenty of experience working with Najarian.

After Belichick and the Patriots parted ways last month, O’Brien accepted a job to become the offensive coordinator at Ohio State. The 54-year-old was with the Buckeyes for a very brief period before being hired as the head coach at Boston College. O’Brien says he turned down an opportunity to remain in New England.

Adrian Peterson responds after his MVP trophy, memorabilia goes up for sale

Adrian Peterson smiles

Nov 15, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson (28) before the game against the Washington Football Team at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Peterson issued an angry response via social media on Wednesday after he received negative attention over an estate sale being conducted on his behalf.

Peterson contracted Texmax Auctions LLC to hold an online estate sale on his behalf. However, the famed running back received negative attention after some noticed that his MVP and Rookie of the Year trophies were included in the auction.

Peterson responded with a video posted on Wednesday saying that those items should not have been included.

https://twitter.com/AdrianPeterson/status/1760464678616993952

“I want to clarify recent rumors and media reports. An estate sale company without my authorization included some of my trophies in a sale, despite clear instructions to leave personal items untouched. I did not authorize the sale of any of my trophies, and I will be taking legal action,” Peterson said.

Peterson said he instructed the company to go through his storage units to look for items to sell but told them to omit personal items. He also says that he is “financially stable.”

“I want to emphasize that I am financially stable and would never sell off my hard-earned trophies,” Peterson said.

Peterson earned nearly $103 million during his playing career, but he has had numerous financial issues over the years. The 38-year-old played in the NFL from 2007-2021. He won NFL MVP, NFL Rookie of the Year, NFL Offensive Player of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times during his career.

You can check out the entire auction here.

Alabama’s Mo Wague commits dirty play against Florida

Alex Condon on the ground

Alabama junior forward Mo Wague committed a dirty play during the Crimson Tide’s 98-93 win over the Florida Gators at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Wednesday night.

Wague had gone up for a rebound attempt in the second half and then was scrambling for a loose ball. Before sliding to the floor in an attempt to get the loose ball, Wague bashed Florida’s Alex Condon in the back of the head with a right forearm/elbow.

Maybe Condon’s head was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, not only was Wague not called for a foul, but Florida was!

This is nothing new for Wague. Last month, he committed a dirty stomp on a West Virginia player.

We might be awaiting some discipline from Alabama toward Wague, but that’s unrealistic. Maybe the SEC will have to step in.

Lionel Messi goes viral for his savage move in MLS game

Lionel Messi on the pitch

Lionel Messi went viral for the savage move he pulled off during Inter Miami’s MLS game against Real Salt Lake at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday night.

Inter Miami was leading 1-0 in the first half when a Real Salt Lake player was down on the field just beyond the penalty box. Messi was dribbling the ball and passed it over the downed player to himself, where he attempted a shot on goal.

People couldn’t believe the audacity Messi had to attempt that move.

In addition to that move, Messi assisted on Robert Taylor’s goal in the first half to put Inter Miami on the board.

Wednesday marked the first game of the MLS regular season for Inter Miami. Messi wasted no time captivating fans with his moves and strong play — even if it meant dribbling over a downed player.

Bucs rival favored to sign Baker Mayfield in free agency

Baker Mayfield in pads and a hat

Aug 26, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks on against the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Baker Mayfield had a resurgence last season and is set to be a free agent in March. He has expressed interest in returning to Tampa Bay, but things between him and the Buccaneers would need to be worked out. The 28-year-old could test the market, and there are plenty of teams that could be interested in him.

Sportsbetting.ag has listed the odds for Mayfield’s next team if it’s not the Bucs. They have Tampa Bay’s NFC South rival the Atlanta Falcons favored to add Mayfield at 4/1 odds. The Seattle Seahawks at 5/1 are next on the list, followed by the Chicago Bears at 6/1.

You can see the favored teams here, though we only included teams with odds lower than 10/1.

Atlanta Falcons 4/1
Seattle Seahawks 5/1
Chicago Bears 6/1
Denver Broncos 7/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 7/1
New Orleans Saints 8/1
Tennessee Titans 8/1
Washington Commanders 8/1
Indianapolis Colts 9/1
New England Patriots 9/1

The Falcons would make the most sense if Mayfield were to leave Tampa Bay. They need a quarterback upgrade, and it’s unclear if they plan to add one through the draft. They also have plenty of talent on offense for a QB to utilize.

The Seahawks and Bears make less sense. Chicago has the option of using the No. 1 overall pick on a QB or retaining Justin Fields. Seattle has Geno Smith, and it’s unclear whether Mayfield would be a definitive upgrade over him. The Broncos or Steelers would make more sense for Mayfield than either of those teams. The Broncos could be parting ways with Russell Wilson and would either need to rebuild with a new QB or have a capable quarterback step in.

Mayfield passed for over 4,000 yards last season and had a career-high 28 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions. He led Tampa Bay to the NFC South title and a playoff win.

The Bucs are not planning to use their franchise tag on Mayfield. One team that’s lower on the list of favorites has also been linked to Mayfield.

Johnny Manziel reveals bombshell offer his dad made to Kevin Sumlin

Johnny Manziel on a set

Dec 3, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; SEC Network announcer Johnny Manziel looks on prior to the SEC Championship game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the LSU Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Manziel made headlines on Wednesday thanks to the interview he conducted with Shannon Sharpe.

Manziel was a guest on Sharpe’s “Club Shay Shay” show, and the interview was published Wednesday. In the interview, Manziel covered numerous subjects, including how much money he would have made via NIL, and how he apologizes to numerous figures, such as LeBron James and Skip Bayless. But the former Heisman Trophy winner also made a bombshell reveal.

For the first time, Manziel publicly discussed the offer his father made to then-Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin.

Manziel was a star quarterback for the Aggies as a redshirt freshman in 2012 and redshirt sophomore in 2013. He was considering returning to school or entering the NFL draft for 2014 and decided to go pro. But before that happened, he says he only later learned that his father approached Sumlin with a deal for Johnny to remain at A&M.

“It’s December/January, and I’m getting ready to make this decision on if I’m going to the NFL draft, or if I’m going to stay. And I found this out five years later from my dad. But my dad went and had a meeting with Kevin Sumlin. And pretty much went to him man-to-man and was like, ‘we’ll take $3 million, and we’ll stay for the next two years.’ And my dad said this is true today as when he told me — [Sumlin] laughed,” Manziel said.

Manziel says that Sumlin similarly laughed off the request when then-Aggies offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury approached him asking to become the highest-paid OC in the country. Kingsbury later left to become the head coach at Texas A&M.

Manziel ended up entering the NFL draft and became the No. 22 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2014. Had Sumlin worked with Manziel’s family to make the under-the-table deal happen, Manziel would have stayed at A&M for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

There are multiple reasons why Sumlin was justified in laughing at the request from the Manziels.

For one, they would have been breaking the NCAA rules by agreeing to such a deal. Two, Manziel was barely a student by then and not a dedicated player. His play had even slipped and they had gone 9-4 in 2013. Three, Manziel had outgrown A&M, was uncontrollable, and Sumlin was probably done with Manziel and ready to move on with Kenny Hill and then other recruits the Aggies had.

Though the potential $3 million deal sounds awesome now, it was never realistic.

You can hear the interview in this clip:

Report: AFC team has interest in Justin Fields trade

Justin Fields in a practice uniform

May 15, 2021; Lake Forest, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) warms up during the NFL football team’s rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

A new team has been linked to a potential trade for Justin Fields, and this one has some pre-existing ties to the Chicago Bears quarterback.

The Las Vegas Raiders have “genuine interest” in trading for Fields, according to Tony Pauline of SportsKeeda. New Raiders GM Tom Telesco wants a “big name” at the position, and new Raiders offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was Fields’ offensive coordinator in Chicago for the last two seasons.

The Raiders also have the compensation that might be needed for a Fields trade, as they hold nine picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Bears are increasingly likely to draft Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick, making Fields expendable. He has been linked to a number of teams, but the Raiders have not been viewed as among the favorites to land him. Part of that is because the organization has shown some faith in Aidan O’Connell, who went 5-5 as a rookie starter for the team in 2023.

Fields would certainly have some weapons with the Raiders, as Davante Adams is likely to be back. If the team really wants to try to contend quickly, Fields might be a better option than O’Connell at this point.