NEWS AND NEAR NEWS

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Wentz to have surgery; could impact 2022 pick … Indianapolis announced earlier today that newly-acquired QB Carson Wentz will have surgery on his injured foot and could be out anywhere from 5 to 12 weeks. If its 5 weeks or so, Wentz could actually be back for the start of the regular season. However, if Wentz, whom the Colts got in a trade with Philadelphia earlier this year, does end up missing closer to 10-12 weeks it could impact one of the draft picks the Colts gave to the Eagles in the deal. Indianapolis sent a conditional 2022 2nd round pick along with a 3rd-rounder in this year’s draft to the Eagles for Wentz. The conditional pick is based on playing time: if Wentz were to play at least 75% of the Colts’ snaps, or 70% and the team makes the playoffs, the 2022 second-rounder would become a first-round pick. Meanwhile, the greater concern for the Colts should Wentz indeed miss a goodly chunk of the season is that they currently have no experienced back-up. Jacob Eason, a second-year pro who didn’t play a down last fall, is currently taking first-team snaps, but that likely won’t get the Colts to the playoffs so they could be looking to deal for another veteran.

And then there were none as Jets QB Wilson signs … He missed a couple of days of practice but former BYU QB Zach Wilson, the last unsigned pick from the 2021 draft, has finally agreed to terms with the NY Jets. Wilson, the 2nd player selected overall at this year’s draft, reportedly signed a fully guaranteed 4-year deal worth $35.1M with a standard 5th year club option. Wilson reportedly took a red-eye flight from Los Angeles overnight and expects to be at practice today.

Pack re-acquire vet WR Cobb for 6th … Its not clear if it was a condition for Aaron Rodgers return, or just a favor to the QB, but Green Bay has re-acquired veteran slot receiver Randall Cobb from Houston. In return, the Packers will send the Texans a 6th round pick at the 2022 draft. For some reason, the Texans will also cover roughly 1/3 of Cobb’s salary this season. It has been reported that Rodgers asked, or demanded, that the Packers go out and re-acquire Cobb, who left the team in 2018, if he were to return and play in Green Bay this fall.

Niners sign QB Lance; one #1 left unsigned … San Francisco avoided a somewhat embarrassing holdout when they signed former North Dakota State QB Trey Lance, the 3rd player selected at the 2021 draft, prior to their first official practice session later today. Lance agreed to a fully guaranteed 4-year deal worth $34.1 million with the usual club option for a 5th year. The signing of Lance leaves only QB Zack Wilson, whom the NY Jets selected with the second pick overall this past April, as the only remaining unsigned first-round pick from this year’s draft.

Pack QB Rodgers shows for camp; Watson cleared for practice … Updating yesterday’s reports on-going sagas in Houston and Green Bay involving star QBs DeShaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers, the league’s top two rated passers this past season. Rodgers, for example, did in fact show up in Green Bay and will be on the field when the Packers hold their first formal practice tomorrow. Meanwhile, the NFL indicated that despite the fact that he is being sued by as many as a couple of dozen women claiming he sexually assaulted them, the league has cleared Watson to practice fully at least for the time being. The league did indicate, though, that they are continuing to gather information regarding the allegations such that Watson’s status could change at any time. The news might also make Watson slightly more tradeable at this time. Houston revealed earlier this week that they are now willing to listen to trade offers for the embattled Watson after saying all spring and summer that Watson would play for the Texans or no one this season. All this started earlier this off-season when Watson claimed he’d never play for the Texans again because of issues with the front office. The Texans, though, are reportedly holding out for something of a king’s ransom in return for Watson which could make any deal problematic as nobody knows whether Watson will be able to play this fall because of his legal issues and/or any supplementary discipline by the league. The two teams reportedly with the most interest in Watson if the price comes down are Denver and Philadelphia.

 

Bolts sign top pick; two left unsigned … With literally just hours until NFL teams hit the field tomorrow for their first practice sessions of training camp, the LA Chargers avoided a holdout when OT Rashawn Slater, the 13th player selected at this year’s draft, signed a 4-year deal earlier today. That leaves just two unsigned first-round picks from the 2021 draft in QBs Zack Wilson and Trey Lance who were selected 2nd and 3rd respectively by the NY Jets and San Francisco, although neither will be officially classified as a holdout until their team’s first practice tomorrow.

Tide trio hilites pre-season LB watch list … If its August – and it almost is – a young man’s fancy turns to college football the start of which is just over a month away. And with the season closing in we are starting to see some of the various watch lists of prominent players in college football this season. The Butkus Award, given annually to the top LB in college football, for example, released its watch list earlier today. And no surprise that the Butkus lists includes three LBs from defending national champion Alabama including Christian Harris, Chris Allen and Will Anderson. Harris, in particular, is one of a half dozen players who were Butkus semi-finalists last fall including Grant Morgan of Arkansas, Colorado’s Nate Landman, Nakobe Dean of Georgia and Olakunie Fatukasi of Rutgers. The one returning finalist from last year’s award, which was won by Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, is Devin Lloyd of Utah. He’s not exactly a household name, but he’s an explosive athlete who was a receiver and safety in high school who had 48 tackles in just 5 games last fall including 10 stops for loss.

More seismic changes in store for college football as OU, ‘Horns abandon Big XII … College football is bracing for another round of potentially seismic changes after it was revealed today that both Oklahoma and Texas would not be renewing their grants of media rights following the expiration of the Big XII’s current contract in 2025 and would be leaving the conference. It was also revealed that both schools have been in discussions with the SEC for at least six months. Oklahoma and Texas could actually leave the conference before 2025, but they would have to pay a pretty steep penalty that could be as much as $76M per. However, with the added revenue expected in the SEC, its a penalty that both schools likely would be willing to pay sooner rather than later. There are also several other hurdles that the two programs would have to clear to make it to the SEC. Texas, in particular, will face some political opposition in the state from the other Big XII schools that are going to be left in a very vulnerable position in the remnants of the Big XII. And Texas A&M, which joined the SEC several years ago has already voiced its opposition to have a second Texas team in the SEC. However, the Aggies would have to convince three other SEC schools to vote ‘no’ which would seem unlikely given the depth of the conversation between the schools and conference this year.

If the SEC does go to 16 teams, it will put pressure on the other Power-5 conferences including the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 to follow suit. Of course, the first domino out there is Notre Dame which did actually play an ACC schedule last fall because of Covid and has flirted with the more geographically sensible Big Ten in the past, but remains a powerful independent. There is also the question what happens to the remnants of the Big XII. They could certainly be picked off by the other conferences if those were to try and get to 16 teams. At the same time, though, it appears that there enough other quality programs out there including Houston, Cincinnati, BYU, Boise State and Memphis that could be added to bolster the conference’s Power-5 credibility. Again, stay tuned!

Browns sign first-round pick … Cleveland has signed CB Greg Newsome, their first round pick at this year’s draft. Newsome, who was selected 26th overall, signed a standard 4-year deal with a club option for a 5th worth a reported $12.7M. With Newsome in the fold, there are only 3 remaining unsigned first round picks from this year’s draft: New York Jets QB Zack Wilson, the 2nd pick overall, QB Trey Lance, whom San Francisco took with the third pick, and LA Chargers G/T Rashawn Slater, the 13th pick.

Bears ship WR Miller to Texans for late round pick … Chicago has reportedly traded WR Anthony Miller to Houston in exchage for what is being described as a ‘late-round’ pick.

Jets, Jags sign second first-round picks … The NY Jets and Jacksonville have both signed the second of their two opening round picks at the 2021 draft. The Jets, for example, signed former USC G/T Alijah Vera-Tucker, whom they acquired with the 14th pick this past April after trading up with Minnesota. Vera-Tucker signed a standard 4-year deal with a club option for a 5th worth a reported $15.9M. The Jets. though, still have to come to terms with QB Zach Wilson, the second player selected at this year’s draft. They also still have to sign WR Elijah Moore, their second round selection. Meanwhile, Jacksonville came to terms with former Clemson RB Travis Etienne, the 25th player selected this year, earlier this week. Etienne signed a standard deal worth a reported $12.9M. The Jaguars had already signed QB Trevor Lawrence, this year’s top pick, earlier this summer. With these two signings, there are only 4 remaining unsigned first round picks from this year’s draft: Wilson, QB Trey Lance, whom San Francisco took with the third pick, LA Chargers G/T Rashawn Slater, the 13th pick, and Cleveland CB Greg Newsome, the 26th pick.

Senior Bowl announces scout staff … The Senior Bowl announced today its scouting staff for the 2022 game which is currently scheduled for February 5th in Mobile. This year’s Senior Bowl scouting staff for this year’s game cycle, which has a collective 120 years of NFL front office, coaching, and playing experience includes Andy Dengler, Mark Ellenz, Ryan Jones, Steve Kazor, Terrence Metcalf, Chris Watts, and Brian Zeches. Ellenz and Dengler are both from Jacksonville where Ellenz was director of college scouting, while Dengler was assistant director of player development. The Senior Bowl staff also includes a couple of former NY Giants in Jones and Watts, both of whom spent 16 years with the Giants. Meanwhile, Kazor had a 30-year career in NFL personnel departments including the last 14 with the LA Rams, while Zeches was a long-time scout with Washington. And if the name Terrence Metcalf sounds a tad familiar, he is in fact the former Chicago Bears 3rd round pick in 2002 who had a solid 7-year NFL career.

Pats sign top pick; half dozen to go … New England has reportedly come to terms with former Alabama QB Mac Jones the Patriots first round pick at the 2021 draft. Jones was selected with the 15th pick overall at this year’s draft. Jones reportedly signed a 4-year deal worth $15.6M with a club option for a 5th year. With the signing of Jones, just 6 first round picks from this year’s draft are left to be signed with NFL training camps set to open in just over three weeks. The unsigned include QBs Zach Wilson and Trey Lance who were selected 2nd and 3rd overall respectively by the NY Jets and San Francisco.

#1 signs … Former Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, whom Jacksonville selected with the 1st pick overall at the 2021 draft, has reportedly come to terms with the Jaguars. Lawrence reportedly signed a 4-year deal worth $36.8M, $24.1M of which is guaranteed. That leaves just 7 first round picks from this year’s draft left to be signed with NFL training camps set to open to open in just over three weeks. The unsigned include QBs Zach Wilson and Trey Lance who were selected 2nd and third overall respectively by the NY Jets and San Francisco.

No supp draft this summer … The NFL has confirmed that for the second year in a row there will not be a supplemental draft this summer.

Falcons sign top pick … Atlanta has reportedly come to terms with former Florida TE Kyle Pitts, the 4th player selected overall at the 2021 draft. Pitts signed a standard 4-year deal worth an estimated $32.9M with a club option for a 5th year. Pitts is the earliest pick selected this past April to have come to terms to date.

Pigskin reviews AFC West draft … GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette wraps up his review of the 2021 draft with a report on the AFC West. His previous reports include those for the NFC East, AFC East, NFC South, AFC South, NFC North, AFC North, and the NFC West

Bucs ink top pick … The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay has signed former Washington DE Joe Tryon, the Buccaneers first round pick at the 2021 draft. Tryon, who was the final player selected in this year’s opening round, signed a 4-year deal worth a reported $11.1M with a club option for a 5th year. Tryon is the 23rd player chosen in this year’s opening round to have come to terms with their respective club, leaving 9 still to be signed.

Vikes pick wounded in DC shooting … Minnesota rookie DT Jaylen Twyman, a 6th round pick at the 2021 draft, was one of several victims wounded during a shooting in Washington. Twyman, the 199th player selected at this year’s draft, was in a vehicle when he was shot four times, although he actually only sustained superficial wounds and is expected to make a full recovery.

Cards top pick booked for speeding … Arizona rookie LB Zaven Collins, the 16th player in the opening round of the 2021 draft was arrested over the weekend in Phoenix for excessive speed and reckless driving. Zaven, from Tulsa, was reportedly clocked doing 76 MPH in a 35-MPH zone, according to a release from the police. He was arrested, booked and later released, but its not likely that he’ll face any additional penalties from the league.

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