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#pounditThursday, March 4, 2021

Football

Josh McCown likely to join Texans coaching staff after release?

Josh McCown

The Houston Texans released quarterback Josh McCown on Monday. That will likely spell the end of his NFL career, but could mark the start of his coaching journey.

Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk suggests that McCown could take on an assistant coaching role with Houston in 2021. The quarterback has long been viewed as a future NFL coach, having been praised for his mentoring skills and experience.

Smith adds that McCown is “likely to have some role with the team,” even if it is not as a full-time coach. He notes that the team facility is only about 90 minutes from the McCown family home, making it plausible that McCown could stay around the team even without a full-time role.

The Texans liked McCown enough to let him interview for their head coaching job. In fact, there was some chatter that the eventual hire is just keeping the seat warm for the former quarterback. If he joins the staff, especially in a full-time role, those rumors will intensify.

Tom Herman lands job on NFL coaching staff

Tom Herman

Former Texas coach Tom Herman has a new job, and it is one that certainly came out of nowhere.

The Chicago Bears announced Monday that Herman has been hired as an offensive analyst and special projects coach, joining Matt Nagy’s staff for the 2021 season. The Bears offered few details as to what Herman’s job will entail or what departments he may be focusing on.

Herman lands on his feet after four seasons as Texas head coach. He went 32-18 at the school, but was unable to turn the Longhorns into the national title contender they hoped and expected to be. Still, he has a strong track record, having previously gone 22-4 in two years as Houston’s head coach following a stint as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Ohio State.

Herman has never worked at the NFL level, so this should be an interesting transition. He’ll be tasked with helping to improve an offense that had some really baffling issues in 2020.

Here is why Drew Brees has not yet announced his retirement

Drew Brees

Drew Brees has yet to officially announce that he is retiring from the NFL, and fans are starting to wonder if he has intentionally left the door open to play next season. As of now, there is no reason to think that is the case.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confidently stated on Monday that Brees will not be playing football in 2021. He said the 42-year-old may be stalling with his formal announcement because walking away from the game is so difficult for him.

“My understanding of the situation is he wants to do it when he is ready to deal with it and admit to it,” Rapoport said. “He’s played football his entire life. He’s always been a football player. It’s hard for someone to come to grips with the fact that they are retiring. He just wants to make sure that when he announces it he is fully at peace with it. That’s what’s going on. He is not going to play quarterback for the Saints next year.”

Rapoport also noted that Brees reduced his salary to $1 million recently to give the Saints more salary cap space this offseason. He didn’t restructure his contract in a way that would leave the door open for him to play next season.

A recent workout video featuring Brees (see it here) led to speculation that the quarterback might be having second thoughts, but it seems like a good time for him to walk away given how he played down the stretch last season.

Chandler Jones had hilarious recruiting pitch for JJ Watt

Chandler Jones

Perhaps it was Chandler Jones’ recruiting pitch that was the difference in wooing J.J. Watt to the Arizona Cardinals.

On Monday, after Watt revealed he was signing with the Cardinals, Jones posted a screenshot of a direct message he sent roughly two weeks ago. In it, he offers to be Watt’s personal chef, with two free days a week.

Hopefully Jones is a good chef. It sounds like he’s going to be a busy guy.

In reality, Jones was probably a key factor in Watt’s decision, but not because of his cooking. With 61 sacks in 69 games since joining Arizona, Jones is one of the league’s most dangerous pass rushers in his own right. Pairing him with Watt is just going to cause major problems for opposing offensive lines. Plus, a strong supporting cast is one of the things Watt reportedly prioritized in making his decision.

This team was reportedly the runner-up to sign JJ Watt

JJ Watt

J.J. Watt shocked the NFL world on Monday when he announced he has agreed to a deal with the Arizona Cardinals, and his decision undoubtedly left more than a handful of other teams disappointed. The Buffalo Bills may have been at the top of that list.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM reports that the Cardinals beat out nine other teams to sign Watt. He says Buffalo was the runner-up.

Very few people viewed the Cardinals as a legitimate contender to sign Watt. Betting odds that were released over the weekend predicted that Watt would wind up with the Green Bay Packers, and Arizona wasn’t even on the list. A previous report claimed the 31-year-old was choosing between three or four teams, and the Cardinals were not one of them, either.

Watt supposedly forced his way out of Houston to sign with a legitimate Super Bowl contender, which is why his decision to join the Cardinals is puzzling. You could easily make the argument that they are one of the least Super Bowl-ready teams of any of the teams that were linked to Watt.

In any event, the Watt sweepstakes officially ended on a day that began with a rumor from an incredibly random place.

JJ Watt agrees to two-year deal with Cardinals

JJ Watt

J.J. Watt has decided where he is going to play next, and the news came as a shock to most.

Watt announced on Monday that he will sign with the Arizona Cardinals.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Watt has agreed to a two-year, $31 million deal that includes $23 million guaranteed.

The Cardinals flew almost completely under the radar in the Watt sweepstakes. They weren’t anywhere near the top of the list when odds were released over the weekend for which team was the favorite to sign Watt.

Watt will play alongside star pass-rusher Chandler Jones in Arizona. He will also reunite with former Houston Texans teammate DeAndre Hopkins, who was one of the first to recruit Watt on social media.

JJ Watt weighs in on talk of him using Peloton to create buzz

JJ Watt

The free agent frenzy surrounding JJ Watt reached another dimension on Monday morning, but the three-time Defensive Player of the Year says he had nothing to do with it.

At some point, a Peloton account that is supposedly associated with Watt dropped a big hint about Watt’s impending free agency decision. The bio was updated with a line that read, “SB56…GB…CLE…BUF.” Naturally, fans thought that was Watt’s way of sneakily revealing he has narrowed his decision down to the Packers, Browns and Bills.

The problem is Watt claims he has nothing to do with the profile and doesn’t own any Peloton workout equipment.

“i don’t own a bike. stop,” Watt tweeted.

Watt’s brothers TJ and Derek, who play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, immediately got in on the fun.

It’s hard to tell if that is Watt’s actual Peloton account, but you can understand why people jumped to conclusions. Watt has sent a few cryptic tweets since the Houston Texans released him last month, and TJ even mocked him for it.

If you want to know which team has the best chance to sign Watt, some of the latest gambling odds might give you an idea. Fans are probably setting themselves up for disappointment if they’re relying on Peloton for Watt news.

JJ Watt drops big hint about free agent decision in Peloton bio?

JJ Watt

Football fans have been monitoring J.J. Watt’s Twitter activity closely in recent weeks to see if there are any hints about where he might sign, and the madness has now spilled over to Peloton. That’s right, Peloton.

Zack Frydenlund of Complex Sports noticed on Monday that the account profile Watt has with Peloton may have given us our biggest hint yet about the star defensive lineman’s future. Watt’s bio has been updated to read “SB56…GB…CLE…BUF.”

It appears that is Watt’s actual Peloton account, though it’s always possible it could have been hacked. If Watt were to have narrowed his decision down to three teams, those three would make sense.

At least a dozen teams have expressed interest in Watt, but the Packers, Browns and Bills are some of the favorites to sign him. One of those teams actually emerged as the betting favorite to land Watt over the weekend.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Peloton, the company makes at-home gym equipment that allows you to live-stream workout classes through its products.

We would not be surprised if Watt resorted to dropping free agency hints via his Peloton account. Heck, even his own brother recently trolled him over how much J.J. seems to be enjoying the hype. You can see that tweet here.

Alex Smith to be released by Washington

Alex Smith

Alex Smith is planning to play in 2021 after battling all the way back from his devastating leg injury, but it will be for a team other than Washington.

Smith is expected to be released by Washington in the coming days, according to Ian Rapoport and Kim Jones of NFL Network. Rapoport reiterated that Smith wants to play next season.

Smith is scheduled to count $24.4 million against the salary cap in 2021 and $26.4 million in 2022, so Washington obviously can’t keep him under his current contract. He made some honest remarks recently about the team not wanting him, so this was the expected outcome.

It’s unclear what type of market will emerge for Smith. He’s 36 and obviously a huge injury risk, but he’s a proven veteran who could come at an affordable price.

Smith finished the 2020 season with 1,582 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions. A major adjustment period was expected given that he missed the entire 2019 season.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via CC BY-SA 2.0

NFL could have a playoff game on Monday night next season

Roger Goodell

The NFL is always exploring ways to boost ratings, and one idea that is being discussed by the league is bringing “Monday Night Football” to the postseason.

Peter King of NBC Sports said in his weekly column that there is better than a 50-50 chance that a playoff game will be held on Monday night next season.

There are six wild-card games on the playoff schedule. As King explained, the NFL did not consider having a wild-card game on Monday night this year because it would have interfered with the College Football National Championship Game, which was on Monday, Jan. 11. Next year, the college title game is the week before Wild Card Weekend. That leaves open the possibility of having three wild-card games on Saturday, two on Sunday and one on Monday.

One argument teams could — and will — make is that the Monday night winner would have to play on short rest. That is not a new concept in the playoffs, however, and it is something teams might have to deal with if the NFL determines it would boost ratings and, in turn, revenue.

It’s worth noting that the NFL is on the verge of a lucrative new agreement with ESPN, so perhaps that will factor into the planning of next year’s playoff schedule.