Florham Park, NJ May 31, 2023 -- Quarterback, Aaron Rodgers on the last day of Jets OTA's.

Report: Aaron Rodgers’ agent tried to get Packers GM fired

The agent for Aaron Rodgers requested that the Green Bay Packers either fire their general manager or trade the quarterback in 2021, according to a report from The Athletic published Wednesday.

Packers president Mark Murphy didn’t fire GM Brian Gutekunst and held on to Rodgers — for two more seasons anyway.

Rodgers referred the publication to his agent, Dave Dunn, who didn’t return messages to confirm or deny that alleged 2021 request.

The meltdown between Rodgers and the organization began, as has been widely reported, with the Packers selecting Jordan Love with the No. 26 overall pick of the 2020 draft.

The soap opera should have ended with the Packers trading Rodgers to the New York Jets last month for multiple draft picks.

However, Rodgers continues to litigate the events of the past two years. He was quoted extensively in The Athletic piece, including whether he ghosted the Packers in the past few months, an assertion made by the Packers toward the end.

“Did Brian text me more than I texted him? Yeah, but did I ghost him? No,” Rodgers said. “I texted him back. There was back-and-forths that we had and so this is the story you wanna go with? You’re gonna stand on this hill of austerity and say that arguably in the conversation of the best player in your franchise history, you’re gonna say I couldn’t get a hold of him and that’s why we had to move on?

“Like, c’mon man. Just tell the truth, you wanted to move on. You didn’t like the fact that we didn’t communicate all the time. Like, listen, I talk to the people that I like.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Louisiana State Tigers wide receiver Malik Nabers (8) goes airborne as he is tackled by Florida State Seminoles defensive back Omarion Cooper (13) during the second half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

LSU vs. Florida St. rematch highlights Week 1 of CFB season

Florida programs are back on the college football map in Week 1 of the 2023 season.

Florida will visit Utah in a primetime game on Thursday, Aug. 31. The contest between the Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 powers begins five straight days of games, highlighted by a rematch of LSU vs. Florida State on Sept. 3.

Week 1 gets underway in earnest on Saturday, Aug. 26, with seven games, including Navy at Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland.

Five games will be played on Sept. 1, highlighted by Louisville vs. Georgia Tech in Atlantic Coast Conference action at Atlanta.

The first full slate of football is on tap for Sept. 2, featuring a battle of the Carolinas in primetime. North Carolina will play South Carolina at a neutral site in Charlotte, N.C. West Virginia also visits Penn State in primetime on Sept. 2.

Also that day, Virginia will play its first game since the shooting deaths of three players — D’Sean Perry, Devin Chandler and Lavel Davis — which resulted in the cancellation of the Cavaliers’ final two games of the 2022 season. Virginia will play Tennessee in Nashville.

Deion Sanders debuts as head coach of Colorado as the Buffaloes visit TCU in a noon ET game on Sept. 2.

The contest between the Seminoles and LSU on Sept. 3 is a rematch of the thrilling 24-23 game won by FSU on Labor Day weekend last year. The Seminoles blocked an extra-point attempt with no time remaining to preserve the win in Brian Kelly’s debut as LSU head coach. This year’s tilt will be played in Orlando, Fla.

Week 1 culminates with Clemson at Duke on Labor Day, a primetime game.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2023; Orlando, FL, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Malik Nabers (8) is presented with most valuable player trophy by Cheez-it mascot after the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Snack bowl: Pop-Tarts replaces Cheez-It as game sponsor

The Cheez-It Bowl is no more.

After three seasons, the bowl game is being renamed the Pop-Tarts Bowl, with the first edition being played Dec. 28, 2023, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

The game got its start in 1990 as the Blockbuster Bowl and has had eight names in all before becoming the Pop-Tarts Bowl, including the Carquest Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl and Camping World Bowl.

The game features top teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12 that aren’t participants in the College Football Playoff or New Year’s Six bowl games.

Last season, Florida State defeated Oklahoma 35-32.

Terms of the multi-year deal were not announced, but it includes naming rights, social media content and product sampling.

–Field Level Media

Aug 12, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars place kicker Elliott Fry (12) kicks an extra point against the Cleveland Browns in the second quarter during preseason at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Broncos to sign K Elliott Fry

The Denver Broncos are signing well-traveled Elliott Fry after releasing fellow kicker Brandon McManus last week, NFL Network and 9News reported on Wednesday.

Fry joined former Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher and Parker White during a tryout for the position. Fry would be the lone kicker on the Broncos’ depth chart.

Fry, 28, has spent time with the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Cardinals during his NFL career. He is 5-for-6 on field-goal attempts and 5-for-7 on extra-point tries for his career. McManus, by comparison, has 274 FG attempts.

McManus, 31, spent all nine of his NFL seasons with the Broncos before being released on May 23. The former team captain was the final player remaining from Denver’s Super Bowl 50 win over Carolina.

–Field Level Media

Florham Park, NJ May 31, 2023 -- Jets head coach Robert Saleh addresses the media on the last day of Jets OTA's.

Jets: Aaron Rodgers ‘fine’; Breece Hall eyes Week 1 return

New York Jets coach Robert Saleh on Wednesday provided promising updates on the health of star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and electric running back Breece Hall.

Rodgers is dealing with a nagging right calf injury, although Saleh said he didn’t expect the 39-year-old to be limited for long.

“Yeah, he’s fine,” Saleh said of the four-time NFL MVP. “Just doing a bunch of rehab. He’ll be limited today and then just hoping to ease him back in. Hopefully, full (participation) on Friday. For sure next week.”

Hall sustained a torn ACL during the Jets’ 16-9 victory over the Denver Broncos on Oct. 23. That put an abrupt halt on the rookie campaign for Hall, who was selected by New York in the second round out of Iowa State.

Now, Saleh appears to be gaining confidence that Hall is in line to return to game action as soon as the team’s season opener against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 11 in East Rutherford, N.J.

“I’m very optimistic on that one. I don’t want to jinx it,” said Saleh, who knocked on the podium for effect. “I mean, the kid’s already hitting over 22 (mph) on the GPS, so he looks frickin’ good.”

The Jets likely will be careful with Hall as they bring him up to speed.

“He looks good,” Saleh said. “Again, he’s one of those kids that we’ve had to kind of hold back from him because — it’s weird to say it, you don’t want to heal too fast on an ACL. You’ve got to be able to balance it out with strength. He looks strong. He looks powerful. He’s learning. I’m excited for him to get back on the field. I feel like he won’t need to be limited during training camp, even though we still will just to be conscientious and cautious with him, but he looks awesome.”

Hall, 21, had 80 carries for 463 yards and four touchdowns in seven games last season. He also had 19 catches for 218 yards and a score.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the field for warm ups before the start of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick takes responsibility for Patriots’ OTA violation

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on Wednesday took responsibility for the team being stripped of two organized team activity sessions following a scheduling violation involving special teams.

“It’s good to get back on the field today. We had a situation with some scheduling in Phase 2, but we got that worked out,” Belichick said. “… It’s in the past. Moved on. Looking forward to getting out on the field today.”

In addition to the Patriots losing two OTA sessions, Belichick was fined $50,000 for the violation of offseason rules.

Per reports, Joe Judge held special teams meetings that kept players at team facilities for longer than the maximum four hours.

Belichick, who ultimately took responsibility for the team, did not elaborate on Judge’s job title.

“He’ll do whatever I ask him to do,” Belichick said. “It might change from time to time, he’ll be involved in a lot of things.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 25, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Bowles: Bucs’ QB competition ‘constant analyzation’

After legendary quarterback Tom Brady hung up his cleats and called it a career, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been left with a huge void to fill under center.

Tampa Bay drafted Kyle Trask in the second round of the 2021 draft to help prepare for Brady’s eventual departure, but the Buccaneers also brought in a veteran presence this past offseason when they signed Baker Mayfield to a one-year deal.

With the starting position up for grabs, Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles has been keeping a close eye on both Trask and Mayfield during organized team activities.

“You don’t hit the quarterbacks in OTAs, nor do you hit them in mini-camps or even training camp until they play games. So you really don’t know who is what under pressure,” Bowles said Tuesday. “From an analyzing standpoint, again it’s the grasp of the offense, it’s the reading of the defense — it’s not necessarily making the big play but the right play.

“Then it comes down to moxie, it comes down to intelligence — in-game intelligence and adjustments and fits and film work. You can see who the team galvanizes around and who’s ready to play the first game and you make a decision from there. It’s constant analyzation, whether it’s small or whether it’s big.”

Former Los Angeles Rams quarterback John Wolford is also on the depth chart but has not taken any reps as a starter at OTAs.

“We switch them up all the time,” Bowles said about who gets to take snaps as a starter. “It doesn’t mean anything — Kyle has taken them and Baker has taken them.”

Mayfield, 28, will be entering his sixth season and has already given the league a taste of what he brings to the field. However, there are a lot of unknowns surrounding the 25-year-old Trask, who appeared in just one game last season and only had nine pass attempts.

“He’s getting the reps,” Bowles said of Trask. “When you get more reps, you get more confidence. Obviously, and rightfully so, with Tom there last year and Blaine (Gabbert) there, he didn’t get the reps he should get. He’s getting a lot of reps right now.

“It’s really an indoctrination of his rookie year — getting all the reps he’s getting. As he gets those reps, he gets more confidence so he’s happy to be playing.”

Trask has also been adjusting to offensive coordinator Dave Canales, who is entering his first season with the Buccaneers after holding various roles with the Seattle Seahawks on Pete Carroll’s staff from 2010-22.

Canales’ offensive scheme focuses more on working outside of the pocket, which is something that Trask has been enjoying.

“This new scheme allows you to get outside the pocket and use your legs more. That’s really exciting for me,” Trask said. “As a quarterback, anytime you can get out on the edge it’s really exciting to throw one on the run or get outside the pocket and make a play (or) run for a first down or something like that.”

Should he land the starting job, Mayfield will be looking to redeem himself after a disappointing 2022 season. He played seven games (six starts) for the Carolina Panthers and five games (four starts) for the Rams, completing 60 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,163 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans first-round draft pick offensive tackle Peter Skoronski, center, poses with general manager Ran Carthon, left, and head coach Mike Vrabel, right, during a press conference at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, April 28, 2023.

Skoronski 042823 An 008

Titans sign 1st-rd pick OL Peter Skoronski, add DT Jaleel Johnson

The Tennessee Titans announced a pair of transactions Tuesday — the official signing of the team’s latest first-round draft pick Peter Skoronski as well as the addition of veteran free agent defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson.

Skoronski, 21, was selected 11th overall in last month’s draft after a three-year starting career at Northwestern. The unanimous 2022 All-American anchored the left tackle spot in college, but most scouting profiles project him as a guard in the NFL.

He is expected to compete for a starting spot on a Tennessee offensive line that is in flux this offseason. The Titans will be replacing three starters up front, including three-time Pro Bowl selection Taylor Lewan, who was cut in February after nine seasons. Center Ben Jones, who made his first Pro Bowl in his 11-year career last season, was also released in March while guard Nate Davis joined the Chicago Bears via free agency.

Johnson, 28, enters his seventh season after splitting 2022 with the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons. In nine games (one start) last season, the 6-foot-3, 316-pound defensive tackle produced 15 tackles and one sack.

Originally a fourth-round pick in 2017 by the Minnesota Vikings, Johnson has mostly been a reserve throughout his career — other than starting all 16 games for the Vikings in 2020 (44 tackles, 1.5 sacks). He owns 125 career tackles with 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss in his 74 NFL games (21 starts) with the Vikings (2017-20), Texans (2021-22) and Falcons (2022).

–Field Level Media

Dec 15, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) and Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) walk off the field after warmups before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson would welcome reunion with DeAndre Hopkins

Quarterback Deshaun Watson made it crystal clear Tuesday that he’d love for the Cleveland Browns to sign his former teammate DeAndre Hopkins.

Hopkins, a five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, was released by the Arizona Cardinals on Friday after three seasons with the club. He spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Houston Texans, earning three All-Pro honors.

“Me and D-Hop, we just naturally talk. We’ve been talking since the Houston days, and whenever he was in Arizona, we were always talking,” Watson said at the Browns Foundation Golf outing at Westwood Country Club. “He’s always been a brother of mine since I was coming out of high school. Our connection, our relationship has always been great. And I know there’s a lot of things swirling around in the media about him possibly coming to Cleveland.
“For me, my answer to that is, of course we’d love to have him.”

Hopkins noted that he’s looking for three things in a team when speaking on a podcast with Brandon Marshall last week. Per Hopkins, he wants stable management, a quarterback who “loves the game like I do” and “a great defense.”

“I’ll just say this, D-Hop, DeAndre Hopkins would love to be in a place where the opportunity is there for us to win,” Watson said Tuesday. “We check all those boxes and I think for us to know and make sure we check all those boxes on the national stage, we’ve got to go out there and prove it and I think D-Hop would love to be a part of that.”

The Browns, however, have a crowded wide receiver room, led by Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. They also added Elijah Moore and Marquise Goodwin in the offseason, and selected Cedric Tillman in the third round of the draft.

“I really, really like our wide receiver room,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said at the same event. “I love the guys that are in there. Andrew and his crew are always looking at every avenue, so I won’t comment specifically on the player other than to say that I really like our roster.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) warms up before the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers’ George Pickens on Pro Bowl: ‘Feel like I got snubbed’

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens is setting the bar high for the upcoming season following a successful rookie campaign.

“Year 2 goals are Pro Bowl, and I feel like last year I feel like I got snubbed,” Pickens told College2Pro.com. “Cause there wasn’t a lot of guys in there at the Pro Bowl that excited me. Then the Super Bowl. The two bowls. A lot of RAC, run after catch. Two bowls for sure.”

Pickens, 22, recorded 52 catches for 801 yards and four touchdowns after being selected by the Steelers in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Georgia.

He ranked fourth in the NFL among rookie wideouts in both receptions and receiving yards, well behind NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson (83 catches, 1,103 yards) of the New York Jets. Like Pickens, Wilson also didn’t get selected to the Pro Bowl.

The AFC’s wideouts in the Pro Bowl were Tyreek Hill (Miami Dolphins), Stefon Diggs (Buffalo Bills), Davante Adams (Las Vegas Raiders) and Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals).

–Field Level Media