NFL Training Camp Notes: Teddy Bridgewater Could Be on the Trade Block, and More

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystJuly 27, 2018

NFL Training Camp Notes: Teddy Bridgewater Could Be on the Trade Block, and More

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    After a long, dark, cold offseason, training camps are finally getting underway across the NFL.

    OK, so it's hot outside. And the sun's out most of the day. But was long.

    As camps get rolling, so do the subplots surrounding the NFL's 32 teams. One of the most heralded quarterback classes of the past quarter-century is getting its first taste of full-speed practices. A number of prominent players rehabbing injuries are trying to avoid the PUP list.

    That's physically unable to perform, for the acronym-averse.

    And a number of NFL stars are still looking for big paydays...including the last two NFL Defensive Player of the Year recipients.

    Given all the news and speculation swirling about, it can be hard to keep track of everything. Unless, of course, you have a one-stop shop for camp news.

    Coincidentally (what...a...segue), that's what this is—beginning with a potential trade target at the game's most important position.

Teddy Bridgewater on the Trade Block?

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The New York Jets have been searching for a quarterback for approximately 59 years.

    Now it looks like the team may actually have too many.

    Per's Rich Cimini, the starting job is rookie Sam Darnold's to lose. Even if you disagree with that assessment, the Jets likely view the former USC star as the future under center after trading up to select him third overall. 

    Assuming, of course, that the Jets actually sign Darnold soon.

    With veteran Josh McCown back with the team this year to serve as a potential short-term "bridge" starter, that begs a question—what will they do with Teddy Bridgewater?

    After an impressive showing in minicamp and OTAs, Bridgewater has gone from afterthought to factor in the battle to start. And to be fair, Cimini thinks it's possible Bridgewater could win the job if his surgically repaired knee holds up.

    However, it's also possible Bridgewater's tenure with the Jets is really short—provided that the right offer comes along.

    "Is there a market for him? Right now," Cimini wrote, "the answer is no, but that could change with one injury in the preseason. In 2016, the Eagles were prepared to go into the season with Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and [Carson] Wentz, but they traded Bradford to the Vikings, who needed an injury replacement for—wait for it—Bridgewater."

    It's the best-case scenario for Gang Green—a long-term solution to their quarterback problem in Darnold and a "found money" draft pick for Bridgewater.

No Play-Field for Mayfield

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Sam Darnold may start Week 1 for the Jets, but the player drafted two slots before him will apparently have to wait his turn under center in northern Ohio.

    That's the latest from Cleveland, where (somehow still) Browns head coach Hue "1-31" Jackson told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal that barring a catastrophe, first overall pick Baker Mayfield won't be getting many first-team reps in camp.

    "Tyrod Taylor is the starter," Jackson said. "I don't envision any situation where all of a sudden [Mayfield will be] getting a bunch of first-team reps unless, God forbid, something happens. But at the same time, there might be a day—please, nobody hold me to it—where Tyrod all of a sudden maybe doesn't go and Baker's out there and people go, 'Oh, my gosh.' It wouldn't be that. You know what I'm saying? Let's not turn that into, 'Now [Mayfield is] going to be the starter.' That's not what it is."

    To be fair, this jibes with what Jackson has said from the moment the Browns drafted Mayfield. He has consistently maintained that Taylor is the starter and Mayfield is the backup.

    Apparently, he hasn't seen Taylor play. In seven seasons Taylor is two games over .500 and has never passed for 3,100 yards or won a playoff game.

    Other than that, he's great.

    It's asinine. Unless Mayfield is given some reps with the ones, he can't reasonably be expected to play well with starters against starters in the preseason. And unless he plays ones vs. ones in the preseason, it's going to be nigh impossible to gauge how well he's adjusting to the NFL.

    This is why Browns fans can't have nice things.

Bills in No Hurry with QB Josh Allen

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Much like the Browns and Jets, the Buffalo Bills don't look to be in a hurry to rush their rookie signal-caller into action.

    Head coach Sean McDermott told reporters that Allen, who was selected seventh overall, will open training camp in the same slot he started OTAs in—last.

    McDermott also told Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that the slow route with Allen isn't an indictment of his progress to this point.

    "There's been moments along the way through Josh's career as a Bill to this point where you're saying, 'I knew he was here [at this level], but in fact, we think he's a little bit further along than that in some areas,'" McDermott said. "That said, [there is] still a lot of work to do. We're not going to put him out there unless we feel like he's ready and that's the important part of this, that we develop a nice foundation of strong fundamentals and football knowledge so that he can go out there and execute."

    None of this is to say Allen's locked in as the third quarterback. Veteran free-agent add AJ McCarron was brought in on a relatively modest deal, and while second-year pro Nathan Peterman has impressed in shorts, he's still...Nathan Peterman.

    But unless the injury bug strikes or Allen's development accelerates substantially, all those folks buying Allen's jersey are going to have to wait a bit to see it get dirty in a game that matters.

Aaron Donald Contract Standoff with Rams Getting Testy

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Rams have had what most consider a great offseason after shocking everyone and winning the NFC West last year. The team added a fistful of veteran stars and extended key pieces on offense.

    However, the Rams may have hit a massive snag in their march toward a second straight division title—because arguably the team's best player is prepared to sit out until he gets his massive payday too.

    According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, there's a growing belief that defensive lineman (and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year) Aaron Donald isn't reporting to the team until he gets a new contract—period.

    This is admittedly speculation. If Donald doesn't report to the Rams by August 7, he won't accrue a season toward free agency. But Donald's also no dummy—he knows that even were he to be a free agent in 2019 the Rams can just slap the franchise tag on him and move on.

    It isn't time to panic yet. Donald missed all of camp and Week 1 last year after a similar contract kerfuffle. But after watching Brandin Cooks get a huge deal without ever playing a snap for the Rams and seeing Todd Gurley get $45 million in guarantees, Donald looks to be digging in.

    There's an easy enough solution to this issue. Pay him.

Earl Thomas Prepared to Hold Out into Regular Season

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Donald isn't the only Pro Bowl defender Schefter is reporting is willing to take a contract impasse into games that count.

    With Earl Thomas headed into the final year of his four-year, $40 million pact with the Seattle Seahawks and no new deal in sight, Thomas won't be on the field with his teammates at training camp.

    Per Schefter, the 29-year-old has no intention of showing up until Seattle pays up.

    Because the Seahawks need more problems on defense...

    This is hardly unexpected. The Seahawks usually address extensions for prominent players at right about this point in their contracts—with one year left. That there's been no movement on a deal for Thomas begs the question as to whether a Seahawks team in transition views paying an aging safety well over $10 million a season as a luxury it can't afford.

    There's been quite a bit of conjecture regarding a potential Thomas trade—mostly involving the Dallas Cowboys. But Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tossed cold water on that notion a week ago, tweeting that a team official in Dallas called the rumors "media hype."

    "Seattle [is] not giving him away," the official said, "and we're not overpaying.”

Giants Ready to Talk Turkey with Odell Beckham

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Not all extension negotiations involving NFL superstars are getting fractious, however.

    It raised a few eyebrows this summer when New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. showed up for mandatory minicamp. Just like Donald and Khalil Mack, Beckham is looking to become one of the NFL's highest-paid players at his position.

    Just as with minicamp, Beckham was in attendance when training camp got underway for the G-Men on Thursday. And Beckham's willingness to show up has apparently made a positive impression on the man who signs his paycheck.

    According to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, Giants co-owner John Mara said that the Giants have been pleased with how Beckham has handled himself of late—so much so that the team is ready to talk about a new deal.

    "I anticipate we will be speaking with his agents sooner rather than later," Mara said. "I'm not going to give you the exact timetable on that. I think those will start pretty soon, and hopefully we'll be able to come to an agreement."

    Mara also mentioned Beckham's recovery from a broken ankle as a factor.

    "We certainly wanted to see what he could do on the field and wanted him to pass his physical," Mara said. "We feel very good about where he is. We obviously want him to be a Giant for a long time. We hope to be able to come to some agreement."

    This deal could both take time and eventually reset the market at wide receiver.

    But there's progress and a lack of acrimony—both of which are good signs for all involved.

Randy Gregory Gets New Roommate at Cowboys Camp

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    Back in 2015, the Dallas Cowboys made edge-rusher Randy Gregory a second-round pick despite a checkered past.

    Since then, Gregory's career has been a hot mess. The former Nebraska standout has more failed drug tests than career sacks, and Gregory missed the entire 2017 season while serving an indefinite suspension.

    Gregory was finally reinstated earlier this week. And the Cowboys are taking steps in training camp to ensure Gregory's last misstep is his last misstep.

    It's not unusual for a young player to have a roommate in training camp. But the roommate is usually another young player and not a "professional accountability partner."

    According to Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the latter is who Gregory will be bunking with in Oxnard. Gregory will then live with that person through the season once the team returns to Dallas.

    Jokes about babysitters and/or Matt Foley aside, there's a precedent for this with the Cowboys. Back in 2012, the Cowboys implemented a set of rules for young wide receiver Dez Bryant—rules that included a midnight curfew and having a member of team security with him at all times.

    Plenty of jokes were made about the "Dez Rules" at the time. But the thing is—they worked. Bryant stopped getting into trouble off the field and started making trouble on it, posting his first 1,000-yard season in 2012.

    That doesn't mean the added supervision will work this time around—the situations are hardly identical.

    But the fact that the Cowboys are willing to go through it again demonstrates how hopeful they are that Gregory will get his NFL career on track.

Dalvin Cook a Full-Go for Vikings Camp

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Vikings enter the 2018 season with as many expectations as any team in the NFL. The Vikings came just one game from advancing to Super Bowl LII last year and made one of the biggest "splash" moves of free agency in signing quarterback Kirk Cousins to a fully guaranteed $84 million contract.

    From all indications, Cousins will have a talented second-year tailback behind him when the Vikings host the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1.

    After tearing his ACL one month into his rookie season, Dalvin Cook's recovery has been a big storyline for the Purple and Gold this offseason. Per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Cook's rehab has progressed to the point he entered camp with no limitations on his ability to practice with the team.

    Head coach Mike Zimmer told Andrew Krammer of the Star-Tribune that it's important to get Cook back into the fray before games begin to count.

    "It's about getting him around bodies flying around him a little bit," Zimmer said. "It's not so much trying to figure out what he can do right now; we're trying to get him comfortable with 22 players around him."

    Barring a setback, Cousins will have a full arsenal of offensive weapons at his disposal when the season begins.

    And for the first time in a long time, the Green Bay Packers aren't the favorites in the NFC North.

Seahawks DE Dion Jordan Hurt...Again

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Like Randy Gregory, Dion Jordan's NFL career has been a disaster.

    The third overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, Jordan was suspended six games in 2014 and the entire 2015 season. Despite being reinstated the following July, Jordan didn't play a down in 2016 before failing a physical and being released by the Miami Dolphins.

    Jordan was picked up by the Seattle Seahawks a year ago, and after missing the first 11 games of the season with a knee injury, he finally showed a flash of the talent that got him drafted so highly. In fact, Jordan's four sacks in five games were enough that the Seahawks were counting on the 28-year-old to play a prominent role rushing the passer for the team with both Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril gone.

    Yeah, about that.

    A few eyebrows went up when Jordan had his knee scoped in the offseason, but fans breathed a sigh of relief when it was reported Jordan avoided the PUP list to open camp.

    Yeah, about that.

    According to Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic, Jordan suffered an unspecified injury that head coach Pete Carroll said will sideline him "a few weeks." He'll spend that time on—wait for it—the physically unable to perform list, per Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News-Tribune.

    Were this another player, this report could be dismissed as a team being cautious with a player it is counting on in the upcoming season. But Jordan has played in exactly five games over the past three seasons and has missed fewer than six games just once—as a rookie.

    It's been that kind of offseason in the Emerald City.