Jan 12, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson  (4) celebrates after a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half in a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Texans’ Holdem: Deshaun Watson trade ‘not happening’

Teams spend years, sometimes decades, searching for a franchise quarterback. The Houston Texans found one, and are standing by the appraisal of cost for another team to acquire him.

As the minutes and hours to the NFL trade deadline Tuesday tick by, the Texans might be making moves. Trading Deshaun Watson is not one of them.

Of course, a team could bow to Caserio’s trade price — reportedly starting at three first-round draft picks — and shift the narrative. That’s a longshot at this point.

Texans chairman and chief operating officer Cal McNair strikes a philosophical tone while expressing heavy trust in his chosen decision-maker: general manager Nick Caserio.

A former chief lieutenant to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick hired by McNair in January to overhaul the Texans’ roster following a 4-12 season, Caserio is in the middle of trying to engineer an ambitious rebuilding project.

It’s a tough job for any NFL executive, and Caserio has been trying to acquire draft capital to make over a roster whose best player no longer wants to play for them.

The Texans are already in sale mode as they approach the NFL trade deadline Tuesday, having traded former Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram to the Saints and paying him $250,000 to account for New Orleans’ tight salary-cap situation while he signed a one-year contract extension in 2022 with a maximum value of $2.8 million. More trades could be coming with wide receiver Brandin Cooks reportedly drawing interest.

The biggest potential piece Caserio has to dangle in front of NFL teams: disgruntled Pro Bowl quarterback Watson.

And trading Watson, for the appropriate value, presents Caserio with one of the most difficult and unprecedented situations in recent NFL history.

But according to sources, a deal involving Watson is “not happening right now.”

One of the top players regardless of position in the NFL, Watson long ago soured on playing for the Texans. The relationship was damaged when the Texans traded All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. It was broken irrevocably when Watson didn’t get the voice he thought McNair had assured to him in the hiring process of Caserio and coach David Culley.

Now, Watson is firmly on the trading block and the Texans may not be able to hammer out a deal with the Miami Dolphins, Watson’s chosen trading partner and the only known team he’d relent his no-trade clause to join.

McNair has placed his faith in Caserio to quarterback this challenging situation.

“We’ll just wait and see,” McNair said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. Nick is in charge of that, so we’ll see how that works out.”

McNair made no predictions on whether a deal will be worked out by Tuesday, saying: “I have no idea.”

Unlikely to happen, according to sources, is the current assessment of a Watson deal more likely to come prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. Early analysis of prospects in the draft show few top prospects at the position, which also serves to support Caserio’s sticker price.

Not to mention, the odds are low that Watson will ultimately be traded until the offseason because of his ultra-complex and unresolved legal situation, according to multiple league sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

The Texans also want two second-round draft picks in addition to three first-rounders and one other equivalent, according to sources.

That’s an excessive cost when full context is applied.

Because Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and sexual misconduct. He is also facing 10 active criminal complaints. Eight of the complaints are from litigants represented by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee. Two of the complaints are non-litigants.

Watson is represented by prominent Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, who has represented Adrian Peterson and Roger Clemens. Hardin has denied wrongdoing on behalf of Watson. There haven’t been any charges filed by the Houston Police Department.

There hasn’t been any clarity on whether Watson will be indicted by the Houston Police Department.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross would like Watson to resolve his lawsuits, which would be an expensive endeavor. Also, Watson doesn’t want to settle the lawsuits.

There’s no audio, video or DNA evidence incriminating Watson, according to sources.

Still, the prospect of acquiring a player with potentially major charges and the public relations storm expected to follow his arrival in any NFL city is difficult for any team to navigate.

One obstacle Watson isn’t facing right now is the commissioner-exempt list, which is the equivalent of paid leave.

Watson is currently being paid his full $10.54 million salary while not practicing or attending meetings. He reported to training camp to avoid accruing daily $50,000 fines.

The NFL is not expected to make a ruling on Watson until his legal issues are ruled upon.

That means that technically Watson is eligible to play. Right now. Today.

“We don’t have all the access to that information and pride ourselves on not interfering with it,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during a press conference at the league meetings in New York last week. “That process is ongoing There obviously are other, I’ll call it legal approaches that are being made either through civil cases. Obviously the police have been investigating also. We don’t have all the access to that information at this point in time, and we pride ourselves on not interfering in that, being cooperative as we can to make sure we get all the facts.

“But I think that process is still ongoing. Until that process is ongoing and we have enough data and enough information to be able to make a determination of whether he should go on commissioner exempt, we don’t feel that we have that necessary information at this point.”

The Carolina Panthers remain a wildcard.

The Panthers jumped back into the Watson sweepstakes for a few days before backing out of the talks. Watson, who attended Clemson, never indicated he would waive his no-trade clause for the Panthers.

The Philadelphia Eagles had strong interest in Watson, but he doesn’t want to waive his no-trade clause for the NFC East franchise, per sources.

As for next year, Watson is due a guaranteed $35 million base salary.

If Watson is charged with a crime, he would be placed on the commissioner-exempt list. Any potential trial wouldn’t happen until late next year, per legal sources.
That means Watson could miss the entire 2021 and 2022 seasons.

McNair expressed sympathy with Caserio and Culley. They didn’t ask for this mess. They’re dealing with it as best as they can.

“I think they’ve been put in a very tough spot, a spot that is not of their choosing and they’ve made the very best of it and sort of worked through it day to day,” McNair said. “So, we’ll see where it goes.”

–By Aaron Wilson, Field Level Media

Oct 24, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones (27) runs with the ball in the first half against the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Wilson: Chiefs buyers, Dolphins sellers ahead of Nov. 2 deadline

Ladies and gentlemen, start your rampant trade rumors.

As the NFL trade deadline approaches on Nov. 2, several players could be involved in trade discussions that may or may not result in actual deals.

Although only 11 teams have more than $7 million in salary cap space as Week 7 concludes, that shouldn’t be a major obstacle to some deals being hammered out.

Here’s a look at the potential buyers and sellers head into the league deadline:

–Buyers
–Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs were already heavily involved in trying to land former Houston Texans pass rusher Whitney Mercilus before he chose the Green Bay Packers, according to league sources.

The Chiefs could pursue Miami Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah next.

Frank Clark has been a disappointment this year.

They could also use a safety next to standout Tyrann Mathieu with Juan Thornhill taking over as a starter last week. New York Jets safety Marcus Maye makes sense for the Chiefs.

–Green Bay Packers
The Packers need help at cornerback and made inquiries about Stephon Gilmore when he left the New England Patriots to join the Carolina Panthers.

With Jaire Alexander and Kevin King dealing with injuries, the Packers should consider calling the Miami Dolphins and asking about Xavien Howard and Byron Jones.

–Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The defending Super Bowl champions need assistance in the secondary. They lost Richard Sherman to another injury, and having a versatile safety like Marcus Maye (Jets) would give Tampa Bay a definite boost.

–Baltimore Ravens
Although quarterback Lamar Jackson is an MVP candidate, the running back position has been decimated by injuries.

It would make sense to try to trade for the Indianapolis Colts’ Marlon Mack, the Buccaneers’ Ronald Jones or even Phillip Lindsay or Mark Ingram from the Houston Texans.

–Sellers
–New York Jets
The Jets won’t be signing safety Marcus Maye, their franchise player, to a long-term deal. Maye wants out, so it would make sense for the Jets to simply move on and get something in exchange for him. Ideally, something better than a third-round compensatory selection should he leave New York as a free agent next offseason.

–Houston Texans
Disgruntled Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson’s trade outlook is complicated by his unresolved legal situation (22 civil lawsuits and 10 active criminal complaints alleging sexual assault and/or sexual harassment with no charges filed).

However, there’s still a ton of potential value from the NFL’s passing yardage leader from a year ago. The Dolphins are the primary remaining suitor, but a deal is not assured of happening at all despite reports to the contrary.

Other potential Texans trade chips include wide receiver Brandin Cooks, safety Lonnie Johnson Jr. and running back Phillip Lindsay.

–Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles could be looking for more draft capital even after unloading tight end Zach Ertz. Derek Barnett, Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay all come to mind as attractive trade candidates.

–Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins’ season has unraveled quickly, and the 1-6 start has spurred speculation that Miami could be unloading talent.

Among the prime potential players on the block are Emmanuel Ogbah, Xavien Howard and Byron Jones.

–By Aaron Wilson, Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looks to pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks’ Russell Wilson leaves with finger injury

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson injured the middle finger of his throwing hand midway through the third quarter of the Seahawks’ Thursday night game against the visiting Los Angeles Rams.

Wilson hurt his right hand on a deep throw to Tyler Lockett, with his follow-through hitting Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald. After the incompletion, Wilson held up his bent middle finger.

Wilson tried to come back for the next drive after getting his finger taped but threw just one pass on a three-and-out series.

Journeyman Geno Smith then took over and led the Seahawks on a 10-play, 98-yard touchdown drive, going 5-for-5 for 72 yards and a 23-yard scoring strike to DK Metcalf. That was Smith’s first touchdown pass since 2017, when he played for the New York Giants.

Wilson finished 11 of 16 for 152 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a game the Seahawks lost 26-17.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2021; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;   Tennessee Titans wide receiver Josh Reynolds (18) pulls in a catch against New York Jets cornerback Brandin Echols (26) that was ruled out of bounds during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021 in East Rutherford, N.J. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Wilson leads Jets to OT win over Titans

Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson passed for 297 yards and two touchdowns as the New York Jets went overtime to pull off their first victory of the season by rallying to defeat the Tennessee Titans 27-24 on Sunday at East Rutherford, N.J.

The Jets (1-3) nearly won the game on their opening possession of OT by getting to the Tennessee 1-yard line before Matt Ammendola kicked a 22-yard field goal. The Titans (2-2) could have tied the game with 19 seconds remaining in OT but Randy Bullock missed a 49-yard field goal.

Wilson, the No. 2 overall selection in the most recent NFL Draft, entered with seven interceptions and had been sacked 15 times in three games before going 21 of 34 in the air and connecting on two fourth-quarter TD passes.

The Titans (2-2) managed to force overtime with no timeouts remaining on an 11-play, 74-yard drive that started with 2:09 left on the clock. Ryan Tannehill connected on a 2-yard TD pass to Cameron Baston with 16 seconds remaining to tie it at 24-24.

Jamison Crowder had seven receptions for 61 yards for the Jets, while Corey Davis had four receptions for 111 yards. Jets running back Michael Carter had 13 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown.

Tannehill was 30 of 49 for 298 yards with one touchdown, while Derrick Henry had 157 yards rushing on 33 carries for the Titans. It was Henry’s third consecutive game of at least 113 yards rushing.

The Jets took their first lead of the season when Ammendola made a 27-yard field goal with 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter to take a 10-9 advantage.

The Titans came right back with a six-play 75-yard drive capped by a Henry 1-yard touchdown and a 2-point conversion for a 17-10 lead.

Wilson got the Jets’ offense rolling from there, putting together a four-play, 77-yard drive to tie the game at 17 on a 3-yard TD pass to Jamison Crowder with 11:30 remaining.

The Jets’ defense followed with a three-and-out and Wilson needed just one play to deliver. He scrambled to his right before hitting Davis on a 53-yard pass while on the run for a 24-17 lead with 9:16 remaining.

The Titans took a 9-0 lead on three Bullock field goals in the first half. The Jets broke through for their first touchdown in their last three games in the second quarter on a 2-yard score from Carter.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

For rookie QBs, struggle is real

No wobbly pass, stare-down interception, busted assignment or coughed-up fumble underscores the sad state of the NFL’s underwhelming rookie quarterback class more than these ugly statistics.

Between towering Jacksonville Jaguars starter Trevor Lawrence, New York Jets signal caller Zach Wilson and New England Patriots quarterback and Cam Newton replacement Mac Jones, they’ve combined for a 1-8 record, 17 interceptions and only nine touchdown passes.

The highest rated rookie quarterback is Texans third-round draft pick Davis Mills, who’s off to a respectable start in one start and two games played with an 80.9 rating ahead of Jones’ 79.1, Wilson’s 51.6 and the Chicago Bears’ Justin Fields’ 39.9 mark.

Lawrence bumped his rating to 66.4 with a better showing Thursday night at Cincinnati.

As heralded as this group was during the preseason, their performance has been ugly nearing the quarter-pole of the regular season.

Fields’ first NFL start last Sunday was a disaster: 6 for 20 for 68 yards, and sacked nine times for 67 lost yards. The Bears had one net yard of passing offense in the 26-6 defeat to the Cleveland Browns.

Traditionally, rookie quarterbacks struggle. Justin Herbert’s rookie debut last season with the Los Angeles Chargers was the exception, not the rule.
Peyton Manning was intercepted 11 times in his first four NFL starts.

Troy Aikman went 0-11 as a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys.

John Elway was awful as a rookie with the Denver Broncos.

There are far more Dwayne Haskins, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Jared Goff and Sam Darnold type of beginnings.

No one has approached Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck’s level as rookies.

This has been a house of horrors start for the rookies this year, and it isn’t even close to Halloween.

The rebuilding Jets have been decimated by injuries on offense.

Jaguars coach Urban Meyer is a former college football coaching legend who’s still learning on the job in the NFL. He staged a forced quarterback competition with Gardner Minshew before finally trading Minshew to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jones split time with Newton during the preseason before the team jettisoned the former NFL MVP.

Jones has been solid at times while playing in a somewhat conservative offense.

Fields hasn’t been named the starter even though veteran Andy Dalton has a knee injury.

Lawrence, Wilson, Fields and Jones combined on Sunday to pass for 717 yards, two touchdowns and seven interceptions for a 53.2 passer rating.

Lawrence and Wilson are tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions.

Jones was intercepted three times on Sunday. He’s led the offense to two touchdowns in 20 possessions when not playing the Jets.

Meanwhile, Mills, while basically uncelebrated, had a solid performance against the Carolina Panthers as he completed 18 of 28 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 95.5 passer rating.

Whether the early struggles derail promising careers remains undetermined.

Past failure doesn’t always prevent future success, but a competent offensive line and a sound game plan sure does help.

The notion that all rookie quarterbacks need to sit has been disproven over the years, but talent isn’t enough.

Asking Lawrence to carry the Jaguars or Wilson to get by without any pass protection isn’t a realistic or sustainable plan and it can stunt their development and damage their health.

As for San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance, his team has been smart about his adjustment to the NFL.

He’s played only seven snaps as the backup to Jimmy Garoppolo.

Kyle Shanahan is bringing along Lance slowly, which appears to be a very wise move.

–By Aaron Wilson, Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) attempts a pass during the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

WILSON: Did Texans steal a starter in Davis Mills?

What does a respectable starting debut by Houston Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills mean for his immediate future and the outlook of a franchise in need of a bright spot?

Mills had some encouraging moments during his first NFL start against the Carolina Panthers’ top-ranked defense during a 24-9 loss Thursday night at NRG Stadium.

Mills delivered in some clutch moments and looked poised in a loss.

The replacement for injured starter Tyrod Taylor, who’s on injured reserve and expected to be sidelined for roughly a month with a Grade 2 strained hamstring, according to league sources, Mills didn’t throw an interception and didn’t fumble despite being sacked four times and hit nine times by the most effective pass-rushing defense in the league.

Because the Texans’ running game is practically nonexistent, Mills could provide some solid production while throwing primarily to veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks, his favorite and most accomplished downfield target.

When he ran the no-huddle offense, the strong-armed third-round draft pick from Stanford was sharp. He connected with wide receiver Anthony Miller over the middle for a one-yard touchdown pass, capping a crisp seven-play, 64-yard scoring drive in just 1 minute and 12 seconds at the end of the first half as he completed 5 of 6 passes for 60 yards.

Ultimately, that was the top moment for Mills and the Texans as an ineffective running game, mistake-prone special teams and a defense incapable of containing Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold and wide receiver D.J. Moore spelled doom as far as being competitive in the game.

Mills completed 19 of 28 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown pass with zero interceptions for a 95.6 passer rating. Mills avoided crucial mistakes in a mostly encouraging performance in his first NFL start.

“I thought he did very well,” Texans coach David Culley said. “He did not turn the ball over at all, which was a big thing going into the game. I thought he threw the ball very well. I thought when we went into our two-minute offense, he did an excellent job of taking us down the field and making some nice throws and nice plays. I thought he did a nice job for us.”

Mills produced the second-highest first-half passer rating with a 126.9 by a Texans quarterback making his first NFL start behind Case Keenum’s 137.5 against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 20, 2013.

A former blue-chip recruit from Atlanta who chose Stanford over Alabama and Michigan, Mills was an honorable-mention All-Pac-12 selection who passed for 1,508 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions in five games last season. He set a single-game school record with a 504-yard performance against Washington State. As a sophomore, he passed for 1,960 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Although Mills only started 11 games at Stanford due to a knee injury, he showed enough to impress the Texans and be drafted 67th overall.

Mills made strides following a rocky preseason and completing just 8 of 18 passes Sunday against the Cleveland Browns for 102 yards, one touchdown and one interception Sunday after Taylor strained his hamstring, an injury that could sideline him for four weeks and prompted the Texans to place him on injured reserve.

“I always think back on that quote, ‘It’s never as bad as you think it was and it’s never as good as you think it was,’” Mills said. “There’s obviously a couple plays I would like back, but I’m going to come in and watch the film and see what we can improve on, but also see what we did well to move forward.”

“I felt comfortable out there. Obviously, you want to kind of go in there and get that first hit in and really settle in, but I felt throughout the game confidence was there the whole time. I just wanted to go out there and make plays with the guys around me.”

Mills did that, connecting with Cooks for nine catches and 112 yards on 11 targets. The timing and chemistry between the rookie and the veteran is building.

“He handled himself well,” Cooks said. “We just have to continue to just get on the same page and get that chemistry going between us all. Very proud of how he came out.

“There’s no moral victories, so unfortunately, we didn’t get the win. We didn’t have our best day on the ground, but we’ve got to find a way to make up for that in other areas.”

Mills threw a lot of interceptions during the start of training camp in practice and three interceptions in a preseason game against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but was careful with the football against the Panthers.

“No surprise at all,” Cooks said. “Nothing surprised me. I just knew what type of guy he was. He’s calm and collective the way that he goes about his business in practice, the success that he had, the big-time throws that he had was not surprised at all.”

“I have seen a lot of growth, just even throughout the practice week with a short week the way that he took command and got us receivers after practice on a short week to still go over stuff. His leadership really stood out in that aspect. So definitely have a lot of respect for him in that aspect and that’s where I saw him grow.”

Mills got no support from the running game as the Texans were limited to 42 rushing yards on 17 carries with starter Mark Ingram held to 21 yards on six carries, David Johnson to two runs for 11 yards and Phillip Lindsay to five yards on seven carries.

“We’ve just got to be better,” Culley said. “We’ve got to play better. Offensively, our biggest ills of the night was the fact that we could not establish any consistency in our run game, and we have got to be able to do that to be successful, to be able to become better in the pass game and to be consistent and stay on the field, and we weren’t able to do that.”

The Panthers, led by pass rushers Haason Reddick and Brian Burns, rank first in the NFL in fewest points allowed per game, fewest yards, rushing yards, passing yards, sacks and quarterback hits.

The sacks and several third-and-long situations led to six punts as the Texans went 1 for 9 on third downs and 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Reddick had 1.5 sacks and three hits on Mills and came away impressed with the rookie passer.

“He’s a tough guy,” Reddick said. “He escaped my grip a couple times and it was shocking to see. Even with the one hit, just the way he got back up, the guy, he’s just tough. He’s mentally and physically tough.”

–By Aaron Wilson, Field Level Media

Nov 30, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Seattle Seahawks offensive guard Mike Iupati (70) and offensive tackle Duane Brown (76) wait for the snap against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks pine for LT Duane Brown’s return

Russell Wilson’s left tackle has left the building, and Wilson is openly pining for Duane Brown to return to the Seattle Seahawks.

Brown is entering the final year of his existing contract and set to earn $11.35 million, including bonuses, in his 14th NFL season.

But Brown, 35, wants the Seahawks to address his deal, head coach Pete Carroll admitted. Brown is sitting out of practices.

Wilson openly ribbed the Seahawks for not addressing the offensive line in February. Without Brown, he voiced even more frustration.

“Not having Duane Brown out there is a pretty significant deal because I think he’s one of the best left tackles in the game, there’s no arguing it,” Wilson said. “I think he’s as good as it gets. There’s nobody more athletic, more talented than he is. Age is just a number. He looks like he’s 28-30 out there. He’s really exceptional. So smart and physical, understands the game, and I think people fear him, to be honest with you, when they’re rushing him and playing against him. So we definitely want to be able to get him back out there. We’ve got to figure that out because we need Duane Brown.”

Based on Spotrac’s salary database, 11 left tackles will make more than Brown and three right tackles earn more. Brown turns 36 later this month but started every game in 2020 with Seattle.

Carroll said the Seahawks are attempting to find a middle ground.

“We’re working at it…” Carroll told NFL Network. “Duane is really an important player for us on the offensive side of the ball. And we know how to work with him and make sure he’s ready to play. He’s making a statement right now. We’re working with him. He’s going through walkthroughs and all, so we know he’ll be ready to play. He would not be practicing a lot at this time (anyway), so we’ll try to work our way through it and make sure we can put this thing together.”

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) at the start of practice at Grand Park in Westfield on Thursday, July 29, 2021, on the second full day of workouts of this summer's Colts training camp.

Colts Camp Revs Up

Around the NFL: Colts’ Carson Wentz worry on the rise

An old high school football injury is haunting quarterback Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts coach Frank Reich said a broken bone, the fifth metatarsal, is loose in Wentz’s foot, requiring a surgery that will sideline the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback between five and 12 weeks.

The unfortunate turn of events came to light when Wentz was rolling out to throw last week. Wentz has an extensive history of injuries, including tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in 2017.

“I think it was a gut punch for him for about two hours,” Reich said. “Knowing Carson, I’m optimistic. Knowing this is the type of injury you don’t have to be pain-free to play in. You have to get to an acceptable level of tolerating pain and then you can start playing. That could happen early.”

Could.

The Colts are going forward with former University of Washington quarterback Jacob Eason as their starter until Wentz returns or something better comes along.

A former fourth-round draft pick, Eason is known for his arm strength. However, he’s never played in an NFL regular season game. The Colts also have quarterbacks Sam Ehlinger, Jalen Morton and Brett Hundley on the roster.

“The job is Jacob’s right now,” Reich said. “He has to prove it. He knows that. Jacob’s in the driver’s seat.”

The Colts traded a third-round draft pick and a conditional second-round draft pick that rises to a 2022 first-round selection should Wentz play 75 percent of the Colts’ offensive snaps, or if he plays 70 percent of the snaps and the Colts qualify for the postseason.

What if the Colts decide to pursue Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles? Of course, Foles won the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles when Reich was his offensive coordinator.

Foles sounded fairly intrigued by the possibility Monday during an interview with Chicago reporters.

“Listen, Frank Reich is one of my favorite, if not favorite, coaches of all time,” Foles said. “He understands me as a player, he understands me as a person. I haven’t had any talks with him. I’m a Chicago Bear right now.

“They have Carson and Carson and I have a lot of history. I have a lot of respect for Carson, he’s a tremendous player. He’s going through a lot of adversity right now but he’ll bounce back. You know what, he might miss a few games but I know he’ll be back out there. But we haven’t had any talks and right now I’m a Chicago Bear so I’m going to keep slinging it with these third-stringers and we’re going to dice ’em up.”

–Vikings use tele-QB to solve COVID issues
The Minnesota Vikings are embroiled in an early COVID-19 crisis.

After rookie quarterback Kellen Mond, a third-round draft pick from Texas A&M, tested positive for COVID-19, he was placed on the reserve-COVID-19 list along with starting quarterback Kirk Cousins and Nate Stanley as high-risk close contacts.

Although the Vikings have claimed quarterback Danny Etling off waivers and signed quarterback Case Cookus, the situation irked coach Mike Zimmer because of how it disrupted practice as Jake Browning was the only quarterback available for a Saturday night practice session.

“You know, quite honestly, after everything we went through last year, I’m not surprised one bit,” Zimmer said. “I am disappointed that this happened. I’m frustrated, not just with my football players who didn’t get vaccinated, but I’m frustrated with everybody [who didn’t]. We’ll just do the best we can. It’s just disappointing.”

–Awkward situation in Houston
This is a strange and awkward time between disgruntled Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans.

The NFL’s passing yardage leader from last season has a standing trade request and a no-trade clause in his $156 million contract, but reported to training camp to avoid $50,000 daily fines. Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct, a Houston Police Department active investigation of 10 complaints and a parallel NFL personal conduct investigation.

Watson remains a popular figure with his teammates.

The Texans’ players appear to be effectively and calmly compartmentalizing the situation, expressing support for Watson as a person while staying out of his unresolved business with management. They’re also embracing journeyman Tyrod Taylor, 31, as their new leader and quarterback.

“Absolutely, me and Deshaun are friends,” said Taylor, who has the same private quarterbacks coach, Quincy Avery, as Watson. “We’ve known each other for a number of years now. We’ve had conversations on the field, off the field, about football, about life. Everything has been a positive conversation, and it will continue to be that way.”

When asked if Watson’s ongoing presence at training camp is perhaps a distraction, Taylor replied: “No, it hasn’t. He’s part of the team. When we come out here, we’re all focused on working and getting better at every aspect. That’s different for every person.”

As complex and sensitive as the Watson legal situation continues to be with no resolution in sight with settlement talks inactive between the quarterback, who has denied wrongdoing through his attorney, Rusty Hardin, and the plaintiffs’ attorney, Tony Buzbee, Watson and teammates seem to be getting along great.

Watson frequently talks with offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Brandin Cooks and Taylor at practice, where he’s essentially an modestly invested observer.

“Deshaun, that’s my guy, love him to death,” Texans defensive end Whitney Mercilus said. “Hate what’s happened to him. Just bring it for him every day honestly. Man, everything will sort itself out. God got it. I know that for a fact. He’s my guy at the end of the day.”

–Deadline in Buffalo
The clock is ticking in Buffalo in ongoing contract talks between star quarterback Josh Allen and Bills management.

It’s not two-minute drill time, but it’s approaching that kind of sense of urgency in Buffalo.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane underscored that business reality on Monday when he affirmed that he has set a preseason deadline to hammer out a blockbuster contract extension with the strong-armed former first-round draft pick from Wyoming.

If a deal isn’t completed before the first week of September, Beane indicated that talks would be tabled until next year. The Bills previously exercised a $23 million fifth-year option for Allen.

“Josh and I are in lockstep on that,” Beane said. “There will be no negotiating in-season. At some point we will press the pause button.”

–Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun and is on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.

Jul 30, 2021; Jacksonville, FL, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback C.J. Beathard (3) participates in training camp at Dream Finders Homes practice field Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Jags place QB C.J. Beathard, S Jarrod Wilson on COVID list

The Jacksonville Jaguars placed quarterback C.J. Beathard and safety Jarrod Wilson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday.

Beathard, 27, signed a two-year, $5 million deal with the Jaguars in March after four years with the San Francisco 49ers. He is competing with Gardner Minshew to be the backup to No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence.

Beathard appeared in 19 games (12 starts) with the 49ers from 2017-20, compiling a 2-10 record and completing 58.6 percent of his passes for 3,469 yards, 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Wilson, 27, is entering his sixth season with the Jaguars after going undrafted in 2016. He had 69 tackles and one interception in 12 games (all starts) in 2020, raising his career totals to 188 tackles and three INTs in 75 games (30 starts).

–Field Level Media

Quarterback, Zach Wilson practices his footwork as the New York Jets participate in OTA   s at their practice facility in Florham Park, NJ on June 10, 2021.

The New York Jets Participate In Ota S At Their Practice Facility In Florham Park Nj On June 10 2021

Jets ‘hopeful’ No. 2 pick Zach Wilson signs before Wednesday practice

No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson is not with the New York Jets as training camp begins, but first-year head coach Robert Saleh said he hopes the rookie quarterback will arrive soon.

Wilson, unsigned as likely offset language in his initial contract causes a rift in negotiations, was in California on Monday working with a private quarterback coach based on his Instagram posts.

Wilson’s contract value is set — four years, $35.2 million guaranteed, with a fifth-year team option.

But general manager Joe Douglas and Wilson’s reps are still working through granular details of the agreement.

“With regards to Zach, obviously Joe’s working on it here this morning and hopefully that gets done,” Saleh said Tuesday. “But as it is with every player on this roster, when one person misses, another person has to take over those reps, so it’s a challenge just in terms of trying to maintain the wear and tear on all these individual players.

“But for the individual, that’s where the challenge becomes in terms of making up those reps. Everybody knows how important it is to me and our team with regards to reps and practice and process, and every moment you miss from that process, it becomes a challenge from an individual standpoint. But as a team, we’re in good shape, the installs are in good shape and we’re ready to roll.”

The Jets’ first full squad workout on the practice field in Wednesday.

Wilson entered Tuesday as one of three unsigned first-round picks, but the Los Angeles Chargers agreed to a deal with Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater. That leaves Wilson and No. 3 pick Trey Lance as the lone “holdouts.”

Since rookie deals became part of the salary cap signing pool, holdouts have become rare for first-year players.

But offset language has often been a sticking point. Offset payments refer to what the original team would receive in supplemental pay if a draft pick is cut and signs with another team. Timing of bonus payments can also be a sticking point.

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed both of their first-rounders, No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence and No. 25 Travis Etienne, to four-year contracts with no offset language.

–Field Level Media