Take 5: Training camp storylines to watch
Days after Aaron Rodgers was joined on the disgruntled list by star wide receiver and close friend Davante Adams, there’s suddenly hope for a reconciliation for the Green Bay Packers quarterback following a simmering dispute that has dominated offseason headlines.
Rodgers now intends to play for the Packers this season, according to NFL Network. And Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst also indicated optimism for a previously unanticipated thaw in this icy, up-and-down relationship.
“We have been working tirelessly with Aaron and his representatives to resolve the issues, and we are hopeful for a positive resolution,” Gutekunst told Packers shareholders during their annual meeting Monday.
Rodgers and Adams recently both posted the same photograph on social media of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen from “The Last Dance” documentary on the Chicago Bulls. It provided a cryptic reminder into their feelings.
Rodgers, despite being offered a contract adjustment that would have made him the highest paid player in the game at a rate of over $45 million average per year, has been upset with the Packers, especially Gutekunst, this offseason Rodgers has been linked to multiple trade rumors, including the Denver Broncos, despite the fact that it would take a king’s ransom to land the reigning NFL MVP.
There’s been plenty of heavy speculation that Rodgers might retire rather than play for Green Bay, prompting several sports books to close odds and associated betting lines.
Meanwhile, Adams cut off contract talks with Green Bay heading into the final year of his contract as the team is unwilling currently to pay him in the DeAndre Hopkins stratosphere: $27.25 million per year.
–Deshaun Watson’s complicated situation
The relationship between the Texans and the embattled Pro Bowl quarterback became even more awkward when he reported to training camp Sunday to avoid accruing daily $50,000 fines.
However, Watson has no intentions of playing for the Texans as a reconciliation is regarded as extremely unlikely at best. His standing trade request remains “firm and intentional,” according to multiple sources.
The Texans will try to accommodate Watson, but won’t sacrifice fair value in the process. They want at least three first-round draft picks and a few starting caliber players in exchange for one of the most dynamic players in the game, per sources.
Complicating Watson’s trade value for potential suitors, including the Eagles and Dolphins: 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct (Watson and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, have denied wrongdoing) and an active Houston Police Department investigation. This unprecedented situation continues to unfold in unpredictable fashion.
–Michael Thomas’ health
The Saints were thrown a curveball when top wide receiver Michael Thomas waited until June to undergo surgery to repair torn ligaments in his ankle. Because his time table for recovery is four months, he’s not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.
The delay in undergoing surgery didn’t go over well with the Saints, especially with their passing game in flux after Drew Brees’ retirement with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill competing for the starting job.
The Saints will lean heavily on Alvin Kamara as a receiving option with wide receivers Tre’Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris seeing increased targets. The trio of receivers combined for 127 catches and 1,532 yards over the past three seasons. Of course, Thomas topped those numbers in 2019 by himself.
–Brady, Bucs eye repeat
Sporting perhaps the gaudiest and definitely the most intricate Super Bowl rings in NFL history, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers celebrated their victory over the Chiefs during a private ceremony following their recent White House visit.
With 319 total diamonds, representing their 31-9 Super Bowl LV win, the Buccaneers and their 43-year-old quarterback are confident in their chances of repeating as champions.
And Brady, who recently showed off his seven Super Bowl rings, six earned with the Patriots, is determined to repeat.
“My favorite ring is the next one,” Brady said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Although the majority of NFL players are vaccinated with 83 percent having at least had one shot and 10 teams at 90 percent vaccination Monday, this remains a controversial issue.
Perhaps no locker room has shown more divisiveness on this hot-button topic than the Bills. Wide receiver Cole Beasley has been an outspoken opponent against vaccination, even jousting with teammates Jerry Hughes.
The league noted in a memo that if a game can’t be played due to COVID-19 outbreaks stemming from unvaccinated players that the game will be forfeited and players from both teams won’t be paid their weekly game checks.
–By Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL), Field Level Media