Expectations are high for many NFL teams and players entering the season. Some players, though, can dream of more than just leading their team to a Super Bowl. A select few are favored to win the MVP award, recognizing a season of individual greatness.
This award usually goes to a quarterback, and it usually goes to someone on a winning team. Neither of these are prerequisites, of course, but they’re simply the most likely outcome. So which five players are the early favorites to claim the award? Here are some names to consider.
5) Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns
Mayfield’s rookie year made everyone salivate over his ceiling. It’s only a matter of question whether he can reach it. In his first NFL year, he threw 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions with 3,725 yards passing. The addition of Odell Beckham Jr. has led to greater expectations of the Browns this year, and Mayfield will be looked to as a leader. If the Browns do what many believe they are capable of, Mayfield could shoot to the forefront of the MVP debate in his second season.
4) Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
Health will be vital for Wentz, who hasn’t played 16 games since 2016. He may well have won an MVP in 2017 if not for a season-ending injury. The Eagles should be contenders again in 2019, and Wentz has shown that as long as he’s healthy, he’s capable of putting up huge numbers. Despite two injury-plagued seasons, he’s hit 3,000 yards both times. If he can play all 16 games, 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns are within the realm of possibility. Those are MVP-like numbers.
3) Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Rodgers played through a knee injury most of last season and was not his usual accurate self. Though he threw for 25 touchdowns and just two interceptions, his 62.3 completion percentage was his second-lowest career mark since taking over as the Packers’ starter. Green Bay stumbled to a 6-9-1 season that cost Mike McCarthy his job. Now it’s up to Matt LaFleur to bring out the best in Rodgers and see if the quarterback can return to the MVP form he displayed in 2011 and 2014. We’re envisioning a major improvement from last season.
2) Drew Brees, QB, Saints
Brees actually posted the worst numbers of his Saints career last year, falling short of 4,000 yards for the first time. He would’ve made it had he played in all 16 games, and he still threw 32 touchdowns, suggesting that the magic is not gone. The Saints are going to be talented as ever, and they’ll lean heavily on Brees to move the offense. There’s every chance he returns to the 4,000-yard plateau while throwing a ton of touchdown passes.
1) Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
After he delivered 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns passing last season, expectations are sky high for Mahomes in 2019. If he can do anything close to that again while leading the Chiefs to the playoffs and beyond, he has every chance of winning the award again. There’s no reason he can’t — while some regression may be inevitable, he has all the tools to be elite and the weapons around him to put up truly outrageous stat lines. For now, Mahomes is the favorite to retain his MVP award — it will take some effort and probably a step back on his part for someone to take it from him.
Could Aaron Rodgers continue playing quarterback in the NFL into his 40s? He’s not ruling it out.
Rodgers appeared on Friday’s edition of “The Rich Eisen Show” and gave his thoughts on how long he could continue playing. The Packers quarterback initially joked that he’d “win the Super Bowl when I’m 45 and ride off into the sunset,” before suggesting that he’d play as long as he was physically and mentally capable.
“I envision playing as long as my body feels good and I have the love for the game that I do right now,” Rodgers said. “Still fuels me, still the passion, and I still love the daily grind and the practice and the preparation. If I can give everything to a team in that manner and my body feels good, I’m going to keep rolling.”
The question to Rodgers was interesting given how much he empathized with Andrew Luck’s physical issues when the Colts quarterback retired. Rodgers is 35, and figures to have several years left. Statistically, at least, he has shown no sign of slowing down. He passed for 4,442 yards, 25 touchdowns and just two interceptions last season. He is under contract with the Packers through 2023.
Many NFL players have spoken out against Indianapolis Colts fans for booing quarterback Andrew Luck after word leaked of his impending retirement during the team’s preseason game. Aaron Rodgers agrees — but he also wasn’t happy that the news leaked the way it did in the first place.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback admitted he felt “a little disgust” over how the Luck retirement was handled, between word leaking out during the game and the fans’ response to it.
“A little disgust, maybe, at the way that it was handled,” Rodgers told Adam Schein of Mad Dog Sports Radio. “Him getting booed, the word leaking out the way that it did, I thought that was a little disgusting. Because here’s a guy who’s making a quality of life decision, and he’s given a lot to the game. He’s not the 15-year vet, but he’s put himself through a ton just to get back on the field.
“I think he should be championed and appreciated and given the praise he’s due for making a decision that’s in the best interests of himself and his wife and his family, for his own personal quality of life. … I think what he did was actually very unselfish. He could be on IR, and then he’s cashing a paycheck from the Colts without playing.”
Rodgers makes a great point about how word leaked out about Luck’s decision. The original plan was for an announcement to come Sunday, but he was forced to make the announcement after the game when word leaked out. Because of that leak, Colts fans had an ugly moment. That leak was unfair to Luck and should not have happened.
Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur appears to be handling his relationship with his star quarterback the right way.
Amid speculation that there may be early tension between LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers, Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports reported that the pair are doing well in the early stages. LaFleur is “amused” by the speculation about the relationship, and Rodgers is saying the right things. In addition, LaFleur was unbothered when Rodgers was critical of LaFleur’s joint practices.
In other words, there don’t seem to be any early issues despite a lot of speculation given how Rodgers ended his relationship with ex-coach Mike McCarthy. Rodgers has been very dismissive of a feud and seems tired of the whole story, even if their interactions will remain under a microscope for at least a while yet.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is adamant that there are no issues between himself and new head coach Matt LaFleur.
On Tuesday, Rodgers hit back at speculation that he and LaFleur weren’t getting along, blasting them as “clickbait news stories” while adding that the two were enjoying their time in camp together.
Talk of a potential rift between LaFleur and Rodgers popped up when it was suggested that the quarterback had some concerns about the freedom he’d be given to make changes at the offensive line. For now, the two seem to be on the same page, and Rodgers has repeatedly and vehemently denied any issues.
Aaron Rodgers has been known to sport a very prominent mustache at various points throughout his career, and he has brought the look back with less than a month remaining until the start of the NFL regular season.
Rodgers had been letting his beard grow during training camp, and he made a big change over the weekend. The lip-warmer is back.
Rodgers really took his facial hair game to the next level when he was out with an injury several years ago, and the look is clearly one he’s comfortable with. If you can grow a mustache that thick, you might as well take advantage.
Training camps across the NFL are well underway and the battles are beginning to play out. There are many reasons to pay attention to what happens on the practice field. There can be significant injuries, players who are surprising, others who don’t look sharp, and those who are putting their stamp on a job. There are also comeback stories and players to watch for a whole host of reasons.
Here are ten players whose training camp performance bears watching closely.
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
After missing all of the 2017 season with a shoulder injury, Andrew Luck returned in 2018 and put on a show. He bounced back with 39 touchdown passes and a career-best 430 completions and 67.3 completion percentage while leading the Colts to a 10-6 record and playoff appearance. Everything looked good for 2019, but now Luck is dealing with a calf injury that has kept him out of minicamp and the start of training camp. The Colts better hope Luck is healthy in time for Week 1. If not, it would be Jacoby Brissett time.
Aaron Rodgers may not be given the same amount of freedom in head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense that some other top quarterbacks across the NFL get, and Brett Favre thinks that would be the wrong approach for the new coaching staff to take.
While speaking with reporters at the American Family Insurance Championship pro-am on Saturday, Favre said he is confident Rodgers is going to be “fine” but expressed some concerns over LaFleur and company potentially micromanaging him.
“The question is, how will they handle it with him. And obviously, that’s very important,” Favre said of Green Bay’s new staff, per James Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I mean, there’s more to the team than Aaron but we all have to admit that when he’s playing and playing well, which generally when he’s playing he is playing well, you don’t want to change what’s working. There’s other factors that you have to work on.
“I think you let him play his game and not disturb that very much. And it’s going to be interesting to see if that happens.”
LaFleur made a name for himself while working with Kyle and Mike Shanahan, and the system the Shanahans run does not grant a quarterback much freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage. Rodgers recently hinted that he is not on-board with that approach, though LaFleur insists the two have already had “good talks” about the offense.
Rodgers disagreed with McCarthy’s playcalling quite regularly toward the end of McCarthy’s career in Green Bay, and he reportedly took the liberty of changing some of those plays against the coach’s wishes. LaFleur probably doesn’t want him doing that, but Rodgers has earned more leeway than someone like Jared Goff or Marcus Mariota. It will be up to LaFleur to find the balance.
Aaron Rodgers raised some eyebrows earlier in the week when a seemingly critical quote about his freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage.
New coach Matt LaFleur’s offensive system, by default, grants a quarterback less freedom to make adjustments at the line. That did not seem to go over well with Rodgers, who has made a living of doing such things over the course of his career.
LaFleur told Michael Silver of NFL.com that he and Rodgers have had “good talks” about balancing Rodgers’ skills with his preferred offensive system, but they need to keep working on it.
“Aaron and I have had some good talks, and we’re going to have to talk a lot more — and one thing we have to work through is the audible thing,” LaFleur said. “We’re running a system I first picked up while working with Kyle (Shanahan) in Houston a decade ago, and we’ve never really had a quarterback who’s had complete freedom to change plays at the line, because that’s not really the way the offense is set up. But, I mean, this is Aaron Rodgers. He’s had a lot of freedom to make those calls, and deservedly so. Now, how do we reconcile that, and get to a place where we put him in the best position to succeed?”
There have been reports — denied by Rodgers — that he actively undermined his previous coach. True or not, it gives an added layer of intrigue to stories like this and whether Rodgers can work well with another coach who has his own offensive philosophy.
Aaron Rodgers signed a massive contract extension with the Green Bay Packers last offseason that guarantees him around $100 million, and he is using some of that money to improve the football program that helped make him an NFL MVP.
On Tuesday, the University of California, Berkeley announced that Rodgers has made a seven-figure donation to the football program. The money will be used to improve the football team’s facilities and create the Aaron Rodgers Scholarship Fund.
“I’m pleased and proud to make this gift to support Cal football,” Rodgers said in a statement. “My years at Cal were among the best years of my life. My time in Berkeley created lasting, unforgettable memories. Coach Wilcox was on the coaching staff when I was a Bear, and I am excited about the team’s direction with Justin pointing the way. He is a tremendous football coach and an even better role model for his players. I hope that my contribution can help him move this program forward.”
Rodgers has been very generous since signing his new deal, as he also pledged $1 million to the relief efforts for the devastating California wildfires last year. That inspired others — including some major corporations — to make similar donations on his behalf.
Cal is looking to get back on track after going 12-13 in its first two seasons under head coach Justin Wilcox. Rodgers led the team to an 18-8 record in his two years at the Golden Bears’ starter in 2003 and 2004.