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#pounditSaturday, May 15, 2021

Football

Deshaun Watson unlikely to be suspended for entire 2021 season?

Deshaun Watson

Very little has been said in recent weeks about the situation surrounding Deshaun Watson and the sexual assault lawsuits he is facing. The assumption is that Watson will either be suspended or placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list, but is there still a possibility we could see him on the field this season?

Rich Eisen thinks so. When discussing the Watson saga on his show this week, Eisen said he heard around the time of the NFL Draft that Watson was working on settling cases with some or all of his 22-plus alleged victims. He believes that could allow Watson to play at some point in 2021.

“I think it’s quiet right now for a reason. You don’t hear a word from a lawyer (Tony Buzbee) who was on Instagram like he was a 16-year-old sophomore,” Eisen said. “Every single thing was going on Instagram. You don’t hear a word from him right now, do you? Why? Anybody who knows the legal system knows that means something’s being discussed and you don’t want to upset it.

“You could (say) settling doesn’t remove anything with Deshaun Watson. That’s correct, he could still get suspended, but not for the entirety of the 2021 season.”

Watson’s case is unprecedented in some ways. We have yet to hear of him facing any criminal charges, as all of the cases are civil in nature thus far. However, the allegations have been made by so many different women that there are a number of ways the NFL could handle them.

Antonio Brown was suspended eight weeks to start the 2020 season after he faced sexual assault allegations, so Watson could face a similar penalty. His suspension might also be longer given that more than 20 women have made similar claims against him.

We know of at least one NFC team that is still interested in trading for Watson. If there comes a point when there is more clarity with the sexual assault scandal, the trade talks could quickly pick back up.

Buccaneers to host Cowboys in NFL season opener

Tom Brady Bucs

The NFL will officially release its full 2021 regular season schedule on Wednesday night, but we already know who the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face to kick off the year.

The Bucs announced on Wednesday morning that they will host the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 9.

Some other Week 1 matchups were also unveiled, as CBS and FOX announced their full first-week slates.

CBS’s late game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns should draw great ratings with Patrick Mahomes squaring off against Baker Mayfield. FOX’s game between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints is somewhat of a mystery for now, as no one knows what will happen with Aaron Rodgers between now and then.

Another notable matchup is Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers immediately taking on the quarterback’s former team, the New York Jets.

The start of the 2021 season is four months away, but the NFL always does a great job of staying in the news throughout the offseason. Releasing its schedule in May is one of the ways the league does that.

Browns have no trade interest in Aaron Rodgers for interesting reason

Kevin Stefanski

The Green Bay Packers are not making Aaron Rodgers available for trade despite his issues with the team. But if they ever do decide to explore a trade, it does not sound like the Cleveland Browns would be one of the teams in the mix.

Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reported that the Browns are happy with what they have in Baker Mayfield and believe he can lead them to a Super Bowl. Because of their faith in Mayfield, they would not be interested in pursuing a trade for Rodgers.

That may sound crazy to some, but the age of both players has a lot to do with it. Rodgers is turning 38, while Mayfield is 26. Mayfield has a long future ahead of him in Cleveland.

Of course, this might be a moot point anyway. Maybe the Browns’ front office knows Rodgers wouldn’t name Cleveland as his desired trade destination, so they could gain favor with Mayfield by saying they want him more than Rodgers. Either way, getting that information out there is a smart move for their relations with Mayfield.

If he does seek a trade, there are some reports about for whom Rodgers would like to play.

Browns fans! It’s Baker’s team in Cleveland. This Cleveland Bakers shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Report: Packers offered to make Aaron Rodgers highest-paid QB in NFL

Aaron Rodgers

Some recent information gives us an idea about how problematic the relationship between Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers is.

We have known since the day of the NFL Draft that Rodgers wants out of Green Bay. The Packers have offered him money to try to get him to change his mind.

A recent report from The Athletic’s Bob McGinn said that the Packers offered to make Rodgers the highest-paid quarterback in the league.

There are no details about the terms of the offer. We don’t know how much money was guaranteed, nor the length of the contract offer, which is likely a chief concern for Rodgers. But McGinn uses the example as a way to point out how Rodgers’ issues with the team go beyond money.

One former teammate thinks that the relationship and issues are fixable. However, another reporter thinks that Rodgers will not be changing his mind.

Rodgers has three years left on his contract after signing a 4-year extension in 2018. He has a $37 million cap hit in 2021.

Among other issues, Rodgers probably also did not appreciate being blamed for the team’s lack of moves.

Tarik Cohen shares difficult thoughts on twin brother’s death

Tarik Cohen

Tarik Cohen is trying to grieve following the death of his twin brother Tyrell, who died on Saturday at the age of 25.

Tyrell died over the weekend in North Carolina after being electrocuted. Officials believe he was fleeing from authorities following a car accident and tried climbing a fence at an electrical substation.

Cohen sought help on social media Saturday in locating his brother, whose body was found and identified on Sunday.

On Monday and Tuesday, the Chicago Bears running back sent tweets regarding his brother’s death. Tarik said he would take care of Tyrell’s two young daughters.

The Cohen brothers are from Bunn, North Carolina. Tarik has played for the Bears since being drafted in 2017.

Urban Meyer shares how Tim Tebow signing came about

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer shared a story about how the Tim Tebow signing came about.

The Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday agreed to a 1-year deal with Tebow. The signing came despite Tebow not having played in the NFL since 2012.

Meyer, who is entering his first season as head coach of the Jaguars, was a guest on Cris Collinsworth’s podcast. He shared what led to Tebow’s signing.

“(Tebow) was in the best shape of his life, asked to work out with a couple of our coaches. I wasn’t even there,” Meyer said. “And they came back to me and said ‘wow, this guy is in incredible shape.’ Then I went another time and watched them try him out. They said go work on these things, he comes back later, they try him out again. I’m not there. They come back and said ‘wow, this guy’s ball skills … he’s a great athlete. He looks like he’s 18 years old.’ I said, ‘guys, you don’t understand how this guy is the most competitive maniac you’re ever going to talk to, and let’s give it a shot.'”

The Jags ended up deciding to give Tebow a shot. He played quarterback during his first NFL stint and resisted a move to other positions. Now 33, he will try to work as a tight end this time around.

The Jags’ signing of Tebow has been met with resistance from some around the NFL. Even some Jaguars coaches reportedly are in disagreement about the move.

Tebow signing does not mean he will be playing when the season begins. If he is incapable of helping the team, he will be cut.

Report: Jaguars coaches not in agreement over Tim Tebow signing

Tim Tebow

There has been a lot of skepticism expressed across the NFL community over the Jacksonville Jaguars’ decision to sign Tim Tebow, and apparently some of that is shared by members of the team’s coaching staff.

ESPN’s Jeff Darlington said on Tuesday’s edition of “Get Up!” that there is “serious disagreement” within the Jaguars organization about signing Tebow. Some of the members of Urban Meyer’s coaching staff reportedly do not feel bringing in the 33-year-old is a smart move.

“Beyond the emotional side of this and beyond the wonders of why, is just the reality that it’s really not practical,” Darlington said. “It’s really not likely to work. Urban Meyer would say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna add anybody to my team who has the potential to better this organization.’ To which you could look at this and say, ‘How is this going to better the organization?’ There’s really not very much upside at all.”

Most people believe there is little chance Tebow will contribute in Jacksonville — including Jaguars fans. He has not appeared in an NFL game since 2012 and has never played tight end at the pro level. It would make more sense to bring him in as a coach than a player.

One wide receiver who is still hoping to play in the NFL already expressed his feelings about the Tebow news on Twitter. That opinion is widely shared.

Photo: Sports Spectrum/Wikimedia via CC-BY-SA 4.0

Matt Nagy not deterred by two Justin Fields games that led to criticism

Justin Fields

Justin Fields had an outstanding season with Ohio State last year, but it was far from perfect. There were two games in particular that raised concern for many NFL scouts and team officials, but Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy doesn’t seem overly concerned about them.

Fields threw just six interceptions in eight games last season, including the College Football Playoff. Five of those six picks came in home games against Northwestern and Indiana. Fields completed 18-of-30 passes for 300 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions when Ohio State barely snuck by Indiana with a 42-35 win on Nov. 21. Roughly a month later, he completed just 12-of-27 passes for 114 yards, no touchdowns and two picks in a 22-10 win over Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game.

During an appearance on “The Ross Tucker Football Podcast” this week, Nagy said he was more concerned with how Fields handled the tough games than the stat lines themselves.

“That’s gonna happen,” Nagy said. “I talked to (Ohio State coach) Ryan Day about this — how does he handle those situations when that goes on? What is he like on the bench in between series? What is he like talking to you coming off the field after a bad play or a sack. How was he after the game when you won but it didn’t go real well offensively. Those are, to me, what’s important.”

It’s worth noting that Northwestern finished the season ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll and Indiana finished No. 12. Both teams had outstanding years, so it’s not as if Fields disappeared in two cupcake games.

Fields is still viewed as a raw prospect by most. That is why he slipped down the draft board, though we know of at least one team other than the Bears that was hoping to land him. The Bears like Fields for his potential, and two lousy games last season doesn’t change that.

Dez Bryant salty about Tim Tebow getting signed by Jags

Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant is salty about Tim Tebow getting signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Bryant tweeted on Monday night to express his surprise about Tebow’s deal. He couldn’t believe that Tebow could get signed nine years after last playing in the NFL and said “you got to be kidding me.”

Bryant spent some time out of the NFL after being cut by the Dallas Cowboys. He missed the entire 2018 season due to an Achilles’ tendon injury and declined to play in 2019. Then he signed with the Baltimore Ravens late last season and played in six games for them.

Bryant is currently a free agent and had aspirations in March of signing, but that hasn’t happened. It likely bothers him that Tebow is getting a shot, while he is not.

Bryant then sent a followup tweet where he turned the situation into a matter of race, which has become common for him. He used the Tebow signing as an example for why black people need to stick together.

Look, there is only one coach, only one scenario, under which Tebow possibly could have ended up back in the NFL. His longtime coach and close buddy Urban Meyer would have had to take over a team in order for Tebow to get another shot. That’s what happened.

But None of this means that Tebow will make the team. There are a limited amount of spots on a roster. If Meyer’s top priority is winning, he will not waste a spot on someone who can’t help his team win. So, either Tebow will be good enough to help the team win, or he will be cut. Keep in mind that Tebow is not being signed as a quarterback, but as a tight end, which is a position many thought he should have switched to a long time ago.

Could Matt Patricia succeed Bill Belichick as Patriots coach?

Matt Patricia

It’s long been assumed that Bill Belichick’s eventual successor as New England Patriots head coach is being groomed as part of the staff already. The latest speculation, however, centers on a name we haven’t heard before.

Boston Globe NFL writer Ben Volin suggested in an appearance on WEEI’s “The Ken and Curtis Show” that the Patriots may be grooming Patricia as Belichick’s heir apparent. Volin noted that Patricia’s signature has been on every contract the Patriots have agreed to this offseason, suggesting he has taken on many of the responsibilities of former director of player personnel Nick Caserio. Volin thinks this was notable because it suggests Belichick trusts Patricia to handle these contractual responsibilities despite Patricia not really operating in that area before.

“They had to choose one person, and they chose him,” Volin said. “It does seem like they are broadening his skill set, and it makes me wonder if they are setting him up to be the heir apparent to Belichick.”

It wasn’t a huge shock that Patricia rejoined the Patriots’ staff following his ill-fated tenure as head coach of the Lions. However, it’s been clear that Belichick is giving him significant responsibilities quite quickly. The Patriots might also believe that Patricia would have better luck coaching a team that’s already more accustomed to New England’s unique organizational culture.

Of course, there have been other names tossed around as potential successors to Belichick. Patricia’s name seems to be one to watch, though.