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#pounditTuesday, August 9, 2022

Football

Report reveals early leader in Panthers’ QB competition

Matt Rhule during a game

Aug 27, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers are holding an open competition for their starting quarterback job between Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. However, there is some reason to believe one of the two players has a leg up in the competition.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo said Monday that the starting job is clearly Mayfield’s to lose. According to Garafolo, Mayfield has been making more big plays even as he is still getting familiar with the offense, and appears to have a higher ceiling than what Darnold has offered.

If the Panthers were comfortable with Darnold, they never would have traded for Mayfield in the first place. That alone suggests Mayfield has a good shot at winning the job. It helps that the former Cleveland Browns quarterback has some extra incentive to win the starting job for Week 1.

The Panthers still appear poised to keep Darnold around as insurance. That, however, is likely driven by the difficulty of finding a trade partner more than anything else.

NFL owners upset with Browns over 1 contract issue

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson will not have to forfeit much money during his six-game suspension, and that apparently does not sit well with teams around the NFL.

Watson signed a massive contract extension with the Cleveland Browns after they acquired him from the Houston Texans this offseason. The deal will pay him $230 million guaranteed. His base salary for the 2022 season is just $1.035 million, however. There is a wide-ranging belief that the Browns intentionally structured the contract that way to protect Watson in the event of a suspension, as the star quarterback was facing numerous sexual assault allegations at the time he was traded to Cleveland.

According to Peter King of NBC Sports, executives around the NFL are not happy with the Browns for essentially bailing Watson out.

“One influential NFL person told me on this trip that it doesn’t sit well with the league or 31 other owners that the Browns rigged the Watson contract so that his suspension would cause him to lose only a fraction of his 2022 compensation,” King wrote.

Watson stands to lose just under $350,000 in game checks during his six-game ban. His new contract includes a $45 million signing bonus, which will not be impacted by the suspension. Teams often structure deals that way to give themselves more salary cap flexibility, but the Browns have nearly $50 million in cap space. That is by far the most in the NFL.

The length of Watson’s suspension was determined by Judge Sue L. Robinson, an independent party mutually approved by both the league and NFLPA. The NFL is unhappy with the punishment for two reasons. It sounds like those frustrations are shared by teams around the league.

H/T Bleacher Report

Buccaneers’ QBs coach makes big Tom Brady statement

Tom Brady after a game

Sep 9, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts after defeating the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp is a time of optimism around the NFL, but one statement from Tampa Bay Buccaneers camp may serve as a warning for the rest of the league more than anything else.

Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen had very high praise for Tom Brady when speaking to NBC Sports’ Peter King last week. King relayed that Christensen had recently told GM Jason Licht that Brady is in the best form of his career.

“Clyde Christensen, the longtime quarterback coach, has coached some of the great ones including Peyton Manning, told Jason Licht recently: ‘You’re not going to believe this. Brady’s arm’s better than I’ve ever seen it,'” King relayed.

There can only be so much room for improvement for Brady at this stage of his career, but if it is there, he will probably find a way. One would figure that is not a statement Christensen would make lightly.

Considering Brady has been the subject of major tampering allegations lately, he may find that to be a motivating factor in some way. If he actually is throwing the ball better, for whatever reason, that is bad news for the rest of the NFL.

Photo: Marshawn Lynch mug shot was a serious concern

Marshawn Lynch in his mug shot

Marshawn Lynch was arrested on Tuesday for suspicion of driving under the influence, and his mug shot was a serious concern.

The former Seattle Seahawks running back was arrested in Las Vegas after police saw Lynch driving into curbs on the side of the road. Lynch refused a breathalyzer but had his blood drawn. He was booked into jail for DUI.

Lynch’s mug shot was later released.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Lynch’s seems to be worth one word: wasted.

Lynch can barely keep his eyes open in the mug shot. Maybe he’s just acting in that photo, but anyone who looks as sleepy and wasted as him should never be driving.

Lynch’s DUI comes a day after it was announced he has a new role with the Seahawks.

Dan Campbell responds to Lions’ unusual retirements

Dan Campbell on the field

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell on the field before action against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2021, at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirthmon F. Dozier/USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions have been hit by a series of premature retirements during preseason, leading some to question what is going on within the organization.

Cornerback Jermaine Waller, nose tackle John Penisini, and receiver Corey Sutton are among the Lions players who announced their retirements in recent weeks. None of the three players are over the age of 24, which further raised eyebrows. A fourth player, Tyrell Crosby, accused the Lions of mishandling an injury and not caring about players. Crosby spent three seasons with Detroit before being released in August 2021.

On Monday, coach Dan Campbell was asked if there was a pattern to these early retirements. The coach said the decisions were not “just about football” and that the NFL is “not for everybody.”

Campbell’s comments probably won’t make the questions go away. That’s especially true after what Crosby said, particularly when the organization has been accused of mishandling injuries before.

Campbell has won a lot of plaudits for his style of coaching in Detroit, and has come across as people-oriented even when making tough decisions. This issue certainly raises doubts for some, even if there is ultimately nothing to it.

Kareem Hunt sends message to Browns about contract status

Kareem Hunt in his Browns uniform

May 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) walks off the field during organized team activities at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt is sending a message to the organization for the start of training camp.

Hunt is staging a “hold-in” at Browns camp, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports. The running back had told the organization he would not take part in team drills without a new contract, and has followed through on that statement.

Anderson adds that Hunt is subject to fines from the team due to his absence being unrelated to health.

Hunt had made clear earlier in the offseason that he wanted to remain with Cleveland, though the money obviously has to be right. The issue certainly could become a headache for the Browns as long as it lingers.

The veteran running back is coming off an injury-prone 2021 that limited him to just 78 carries in eight games.

NFL addresses whether Aaron Rodgers violated drug policy

Aaron Rodgers with his helmet on

Oct 28, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers recently credited an experience with a psychedelic drug for fueling two of the best seasons of his career. After he made that revelation, many wondered whether he was admitting to violating NFL rules. He was not.

Rodgers recently told the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that he had a “magical experience” with ayahuasca, which is a plant that contains the hallucinogenic drug DMT. He said he took the psychedelic during the offseason before both of his most recent MVP campaigns in 2020 and 2021. Rodgers believes the experiences helped him in all facets of life, including on the field.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Monday that ayahuasca is not on the NFL’s banned substance list. For that reason, it would not have triggered a positive result on either the substance abuse or performance-enhancing substance policies that were agreed upon by the NFL and NFL Players’ Association.

It is possible that ayahuasca could be added to the banned substance list in the future, but Rodgers is safe for now. He probably did his research before he took the drug or, at the very least, before he admitted to using it.

Rodgers has become a lot more open about his personal life during the latter part of his career. He even spoke about some of the issues he has had with his family in the same podcast appearance. As long as his honesty does not land him in trouble with the NFL, the Packers are probably fine with it.

Does Odell Beckham Jr have specific free agent strategy?

Odell Beckham Jr. in a blue jersey

Jan 17, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) reacts before a NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Odell Beckham Jr. remains a free agent with training camp underway, and it does not appear he is anywhere close to signing with a team. The star receiver is, however, receiving interest.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media said Sunday that Beckham has “continued to receive interest from several contending teams.” The reporter mentioned the Green Bay Packers as a team that is still in the mix in addition to the Los Angeles Rams. The big question is when Odell will finally sign.

“He’s still recovering from an ACL tear and not expected to be ready for at least the first half of the season,” Rapoport said. “Does it actually make sense for Odell Beckham Jr. to sign now? … Or is it better for him to wait until, I don’t know, October or even early November and maybe another contending team suddenly has a need.”

That is probably the exact approach Beckham is taking. Since he cannot take part in any team activities for quite some time, there is no real urgency for him to sign with a team. The market for his services can only improve if one or more top receivers suffer injuries. It makes sense for him to be patient given the situation.

Beckham took a while to get going with the Rams, but he had 21 receptions and two touchdown catches during the playoffs. The Rams signed Allen Robinson this offseason and still have Cooper Kupp, but Beckham could be a dangerous No. 3 option for them if they bring him back. He seems to be open to remaining in L.A.

Dan Campbell steals the show during first ‘Hard Knocks’ episode

Dan Campbell on the field

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell on the field before action against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2021, at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirthmon F. Dozier/USA TODAY NETWORK

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell delivered some incredibly funny moments during the latest installment of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”

Campbell has become known for his sometimes hilarious and motivational quotes, and that continued to be the case during Tuesday’s season premiere.

While addressing his team during a meeting, Campbell provided a somewhat graphic example of the lengths he is willing to go to in order to win.

“It doesn’t matter if you have one a– cheek and three toes, I will beat your a–,” Campbell said (edited for profanity by LBS).

Warning: The below tweet contains profanity.

One of the funniest moments of the episode came while the final credits were rolling. Campbell was out on the practice field, and dropped a “deez nuts” joke that he referred to as “old school.”

While the funny comments tend to stand out for Campbell, he has no shortage of fiery and passionate messages as well. On Saturday, he delivered a staunch warning to the NFL in front of the Detroit fanbase during the Lions’ annual Fan Fest at Ford Field.

It will be interesting to see what else Campbell has in store for the remaining four episodes.

Josh McDaniels responds to trade rumors surrounding key player

Josh McDaniels at the NFL Combine

Mar 2, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels talks to the media during the 2022 NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Whether he meant to or not, Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels sparked trade rumors around one of his key players in the team’s first preseason game. On Monday, he tried to quiet that speculation.

McDaniels was scrutinized for playing running back Josh Jacobs in Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game, especially since no other Raiders starters took part. The decision led some to wonder if the Raiders were trying to showcase Jacobs as a trade chip. McDaniels denied that was the case.

“”JJ’s a guy we know what he’s done. We have a lot of confidence in JJ. He did well with his opportunities. We have no desire to do that (trade) at all,” McDaniels said.

McDaniels had previously said he likes to make sure running backs get to see some game action in the preseason. That reasoning did not necessarily put an end to speculation that Jacobs, who is headed into the final year of his contract, might be on the market.

Jacobs is just 24 and has two 1,000-yard seasons to his name. Plus, McDaniels apparently made him a centerpiece of his recruiting pitch when seeking the Raiders job. Perhaps we can take McDaniels at his word.