The Latest Buzz Around Every NFL Team Entering Late July

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2021

The Latest Buzz Around Every NFL Team Entering Late July

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    Michael Owen Baker/Associated Press

    NFL players have begun reporting to training camps, which means the 2021 season has unofficially begun. Games aren't yet ongoing, of course, but teams are laying the foundations for the regular season.

    From position battles and scheme installations to injury rehab and just getting back into football shape, camps encompass vital parts of the process.

    For fans, training camp also brings a sense that football is back. Important things are happening, and the rumor mill is spinning. What's the word on your favorite team? Let's dig into some of the latest buzz.

Arizona Cardinals: Chase Edmonds Set to Open Camp as Starting RB

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals are set to have a powerhouse passing attack. Quarterback Kyler Murray is emerging as a star, and he has a plethora of pass-catchers—including DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk and A.J. Green—at his disposal.

    "We have a great receiver room," Murray said, per ESPN's Josh Weinfuss. "More weapons than I can ask for."

    Things are a little less settled at running back. Kenyan Drake departed in free agency, while Arizona added former Pittsburgh Steelers starter James Conner. According to Adam H. Beasley of Pro Football Network, however,  "A source tells us ... [Chase] Edmonds is the favorite to be the team's featured back after splitting time with Kenyan Drake in 2020."

    Last year, Edmonds averaged 4.6 yards per carry and racked up 402 receiving yards, but he has never carried the ball 100 or more times in a season. It could be a career turning point.

Atlanta Falcons: Josh Andrews the Favorite at Left Guard

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons are looking to revamp the way their offensive line plays under new head coach Arthur Smith and offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford.

    "For us ... it's going to be (about) speed off the ball, toughness, and it's going to be about our finish," Ledford said, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    The retooling could involve starting 30-year-old journeyman Josh Andrews at left guard, as a source told Beasley that Andrews got starter's reps during the spring. He'll likely compete with rookie third-round pick Jalen Mayfield for the job.

    If Mayfield cannot beat out Andrews—who has also played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets—the Falcons may still find a way to get the rookie some game action this season. Atlanta seems to like his style of play as much as his potential at any one spot.

    "Jaylen, when you watched his film, that's something that stuck out with me was his play style," Ledford said, per Ledbetter. "You saw that he liked to mix it up."

    According to Ledbetter, Mayfield could also be part of the right tackle competition and could serve as a backup swing tackle if he can't win a starting role.

Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson Could Get $40-Plus Million Annually

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    There will be no competition at quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. Lamar Jackson was the unanimous league MVP in 2019 and has taken Baltimore to the playoffs in all three years as a starter.

    The only uncertainty surrounding the position is when Baltimore will sign Jackson to an extension—and for how much.

    The "when" is unclear, though the Ravens have seen enough from their quarterback to put pen to paper now. As for the price tag, ESPN's Dan Graziano recently reported that a new deal is expected to fall in the $40 million to $45 million range.

    Jackson's price appears to be bookended by those of Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott.

    "It wouldn't surprise people around the league if Jackson's deal came in behind Mahomes' $45 million-a-year average and ahead of Prescott's $40 million, but as always, the key will be to watch the structure and guarantees," Graziano wrote.

    This would make Jackson one of the league's highest-paid quarterbacks, though not the highest. 

Buffalo Bills: Ken Dorsey Being Groomed for OC Job?

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Like the Ravens, the Buffalo Bills will have to decide on their quarterback's future. Josh Allen is coming off an appearance in the AFC title game and is extension-eligible. While there's no telling how soon Buffalo will lock him up, the Bills may already be trying to nail down one of his coaches.

    As Sal Capaccio of WGR 550 recently noted, quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey had "passing game coordinator" added to his job title this offseason.

    According to Nick Wojton of Bills Wire, this could be an attempt to keep Dorsey satisfied with the organization and in line to replace offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

    "The reason being is really a low-hanging fruit. He has long been the assumed replacement for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll if he were to land a head-coaching gig," Wojton wrote.

    Daboll, the reigning Assistant Coach of the Year, did receive some head coaching interest this offseason. Should the Bills have another successful season with a prolific offense at the forefront—Buffalo ranked second in both yards and points last year—Daboll could be hired away next offseason.

    Promoting Dorsey would help maintain continuity on offense if Daboll does indeed depart.

Carolina Panthers: Team Looking to Build Big-Play Offense Around Darnold

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    The Carolina Panthers made two significant moves at quarterback this offseason. They traded for former Jets signal-caller Sam Darnold and then dealt 2020 starter Teddy Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos.

    While Darnold may not be immediately better than Bridgewater, the 24-year-old has room to grow, and the Panthers are hoping Darnold's arm strength can provide a new big-play element to the passing attack.

    "They want to take advantage of his stronger arm to move the ball downfield," Darin Gantt of the team's website wrote. "DJ Moore, who was third in the league with 18.1 yards per catch last year, will help in that area. And when they were together in New York, Darnold and Robby Anderson made some big plays at times."

    Darnold did show flashes of his arm talent while with the Jets, but he finished his New York career with a pedestrian 6.6 yards-per-completion average. He was 32nd in the league with a 6.1 yards-per-attempt average last season.

    We should find out soon enough if an upgrade in receiving talent will help unlock Darnold's true passing potential.

Chicago Bears: Allen Robinson II Looking to 'Smash' Free Agency

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears and wideout Allen Robinson II did not reach an agreement on a contract extension before the July 15 deadline.

    That wasn't surprising, as NFL Network's Tom Pelissero said on Total Access ahead of the deadline, "At this point, it seems unlikely a long-term deal will get done." 

    ESPN's Jeremy Fowler went into a little more detail, explaining on SportsCenter that Robinson could play on the franchise tag in 2021 and look to "smash" free agency next offseason.

    Robinson's presumed plans could change, of course, if he likes the direction Chicago is taking with rookie quarterback Justin Fields. However, there's no doubting that the 27-year-old wideout will be heavily courted on the open market.

    Even with a lackluster quarterback tandem in Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles last season, Robinson finished with 1,250 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bengals: Logan Wilson Poised for Big Defensive Role?

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    Susan Walsh/Associated Press

    Heading into Cincinnati Bengals camp, the biggest storyline is the recovery of quarterback Joe Burrow. The No. 1 pick in 2020 played well as a rookie but was lost to a torn ACL 10 games into his inaugural campaign.

    Understandably, any 2021 turnaround is expected to revolve around Burrow, rookie wideout Ja'Marr Chase and the offense. However, Cincinnati could have a rising star on defense too, as second-year linebacker Logan Wilson may be emerging as the proverbial quarterback of the unit.

    "Bengals DC Lou Anarumo praised LB Logan Wilson's communication. Seems entrenched as the starting middle LB heading into training camp," ESPN's Ben Baby tweeted last month.

    Wilson, a third-round pick out of Wyoming, played just 32 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie. However, he flashed a lot of promise and finished with 33 tackles, a sack, three passes defended and two interceptions.

    If the Bengals hope to regain relevance in 2021, they'll have to improve their 26th-ranked defense. Wilson could be poised to play a huge role in that.

Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield Will Have 'More on His Plate'

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Inconsistency has been a constant during Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield's pro career. He had three head coaches in his first two NFL seasons, with reigning Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski becoming his fourth in 2020.

    Mayfield has repeatedly been forced to learn new schemes, but that shouldn't be the case this offseason. Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt are both back, which should allow the 26-year-old to grow.

    According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the newfound continuity will allow the Browns to ask more of Mayfield in 2021.

    "Now that Mayfield knows the system and his retooled mechanics, the coaches can give him more responsibility and let him run the show a little more," Cabot wrote. "... The coaches won't hesitate to put more on his plate because they know he can handle it."

    Mayfield flourished under Stefanski and Van Pelt over the second half of the 2020 season, throwing 11 touchdowns and one interception in the final six games. If he can be even more effective by carrying more responsibilities, Cleveland will be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Dallas Cowboys: Team 'Not Worried About' Prescott's Recovery

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    Michael Owen Baker/Associated Press

    The Browns are hoping to see Mayfield make a jump in 2021. The Dallas Cowboys saw their quarterback do so early last season. Dak Prescott, a two-time Pro Bowler, was borderline elite in the first five games of 2020 and led the NFL with 1,856 passing yards.

    Unfortunately, he was lost for the year in Game 5, suffering a broken and dislocated ankle.

    The good news is that the 27-year-old appears to be fully healthy, and the Cowboys won't hold him back in camp.

    Fowler reported on SportsCenter earlier this month that Prescott had "passed all hurdles" in his recovery and that Dallas is "not worried about" his ability to return to preinjury form.

    If Prescott is indeed back to being 100 percent, the Cowboys offense could be one of the NFL's most unstoppable units. It is loaded with weapons such as CeeDee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Gallup, and should have a healthier offensive line than the injury-plagued unit we saw last season.

    Dallas, which will face Pittsburgh in the Hall of Fame Game, opened camp July 21.

Denver Broncos: Quarterback Battle Could Take All Preseason

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Denver Broncos are set to stage a quarterback competition between holdover Drew Lock and trade acquisition Teddy Bridgewater.

    According to NFL Network's James Palmer, the competition could take all preseason to settle.

    "This could go, to my understanding, through all three preseason games before they make a decision," Palmer said. "That's where they stand right now.

    The competition could be the key to Denver's success in 2021—or its lack thereof. Lock was arguably the worst starting quarterback in the league last season. He tied for the NFL lead with 15 interceptions and had a paltry passer rating of 75.4. Denver desperately needs to get more out of its quarterbacks, either by turning to Bridgewater or having the competition push Lock to be better.

    Denver has offensive weapons—including Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler—but it has lacked a reliable starting quarterback since Peyton Manning's retirement following the 2015 season.

    The battle between Bridgewater and Lock, it seems, is only getting started.

Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah Had Core Muscle Surgery on Both Sides

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions used 2020's third overall pick on former Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah.

    But the 22-year-old appeared in only nine games as a rookie and allowed an opposing quarterback rating of 118.0 in coverage. In December, he underwent core-muscle surgery, which ended his season.

    New details about the procedure have recently emerged, and it appears Okudah had both sides of his abdomen surgically repaired.

    "Interesting detail on Lions CB Jeff Okudah, who is healthy for camp," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted. "While he tore a core muscle on one side in '20, he actually had surgery to repair both by Dr. William Meyers. Meyers repaired the non-injured side for precaution because if you tear one, you often tear the other."

    Of course, the big takeaway from Rapoport's report is that Okudah is healthy heading into camp. Perhaps Detroit will finally see the shutdown cornerback it thought it was drafting.

Green Bay Packers: Davante Adams 'In a Bad Place' with Team

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    The biggest question surrounding the Green Bay Packers is whether quarterback Aaron Rodgers will report to training camp. He is unhappy with the organization and has stayed away from team activities throughout the offseason.

    However, Rodgers isn't the only Packers star whose future is in doubt. Wide receiver Davante Adams is entering the final year of his contract and has reportedly broken off extension talks.

    "The two sides have been negotiating a deal for months, but have reached a bad place, Rapoport added," Nick Shook of NFL.com relayed.

    Having an unhappy Adams at camp is unlikely to entice Rodgers to return. The 28-year-old has been arguably Rodgers' only consistent target for the past several seasons and is one of the league's best perimeter receivers.

    Adams' situation is also potentially problematic for quarterback Jordan Love—who is expected to succeed Rodgers, either this season or down the road. If the receiver is truly "in a bad place" with the Packers, it may be nearly impossible to re-sign him in free agency next offseason.

Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson Investigation Ongoing

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    The Houston Texans are unlikely to have quarterback Deshaun Watson on the field in 2021. He requested a trade in late January, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. 

    In March and April, there were 22 lawsuits filed against him by women alleging sexual assault or misconduct. Watson is not scheduled to be deposed until February 2022 at the earliest. He also faces the possibility of league discipline, all of which will make it very difficult for the Texans to initiate a trade, should they choose to go that route.

    According to Beasley: "A Houston PD spokesman told Pro Football Network Monday that their investigation into Watson is ongoing. The NFL is conducting its own inquiry."

    Even if the quarterback is legally cleared, he could still be suspended under the league's personal conduct policy. As things stand, it's far more likely that Houston will see some combination of Tyrod Taylor and rookie Davis Mills at quarterback this season.

Indianapolis Colts: Darius Leonard Expected to Earn More Than $19M Per Year

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Indianapolis Colts have made no secret of their desire to lock up linebacker Darius Leonard before the start of the regular season.

    "We don't have anything to report right now, but we'd like to see both of those players get extensions before the season starts," team CEO Jim Irsay said of Leonard and right tackle Braden Smith, per Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star.

    Leonard, a two-time Pro Bowler, appears to be in line for a hefty payday. According to Schefter, the 25-year-old is expected to make more than $19 million annually.

    This would put him close to the five-year, $95.3 million deal recently signed by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner. Unsurprisingly, Leonard was a fan of the move.

    "Congratulations my guy!!!" he tweeted.

    Warner's deal will likely serve as a starting point in Leonard's negotiations, given the next-man-up nature of NFL contracts.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Offset Language a Sticking Point in Lawrence's Contract

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars are widely expected to start rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence in Week 1. However, the Jags will first have to get the former Clemson star under contract.

    While the rookie wage scale has virtually eliminated holdouts among first-year players—salaries are slotted—offset language can become a sticking point. That's where Jacksonville and Lawrence appear to be, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

    Fowler said the following on SportsCenter:

    "Lawrence's contract is not done, it's probably a bit of a standoff because with these rookie deals it's about offset language in those third and fourth years. If somebody gets injured, then the offset language can play a part. I'm told Jacksonville hasn't found a sweet spot yet. They haven't relented on wanting the offset language in the deal."

    Including offset language in a contract protects a team against a significant injury. First-round contracts are mostly guaranteed, but with offset language, a team can avoid paying out the full amount if injuries prevent a player from reaching the end of it.

    It's not uncommon for players to push back against the inclusion of offset language, but it would be a shock to see Lawrence remain unsigned into the preseason.

Kansas City Chiefs: Mecole Hardman Set for No. 2 Receiver Role

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Though former Kansas City Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins often seemed like a third fiddle behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, he did contribute to the team's recent success. The former Clemson standout had 1,613 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 34 regular-season games with Kansas City.

    During the 2019 postseason, which ended with a Lombardi Trophy, Watkins had 14 catches for 288 yards and a touchdown.

    Now that he is in Baltimore, the Chiefs will need someone to grab the No. 2 receiver role opposite Hill. According to The Athletic's Nate Taylor, Mecole Hardman is first in line for the job.

    "Hardman will enter camp as the second receiver on the depth chart. It's possible that either Byron Pringle or Demarcus Robinson could push Hardman during camp, but I have more confidence in Hardman after he was a consistent performer in May and June," Taylor wrote.

    Hardman, a second-round pick out of Georgia in 2019, had 560 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2020 while playing just 45 percent of the offensive snaps.

Las Vegas Raiders: Clelin Ferrell May Have to Make Mark as Interior Rusher

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders took former Clemson pass-rusher Clelin Ferrell with the fourth pick in the 2019 draft, but he hasn't lived up to that lofty billing.

    In two seasons, the 24-year-old has produced a mere 6.5 sacks to go with 65 tackles.

    Heading into 2021, the Raiders may look to utilize him more as an interior pass-rusher than as an edge-defender. The team added Yannick Ngakoue in free agency, which, according to The Athletic's Vic Tafur, could push Ferrell inside.

    "Ferrell put on that 13 pounds of muscle last offseason and definitely played better in his second season," Tafur wrote. "That said, he won't be playing on the edge on passing downs with Ngakoue and [Maxx] Crosby around, so he will have to carve out a role inside."

    While Ferrell only logged two sacks in 2020, he did provide 21 quarterback pressures. Las Vegas clearly isn't ready to give up on him just yet, and it will be interesting to see if a role change will help him revitalize his career.

Los Angeles Chargers: Kenneth Murray to Play 'Downhill' in New Defensive Scheme

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Chargers 2020 first-round pick Kenneth Murray had a fine rookie campaign. The former Oklahoma linebacker finished with 107 total tackles, a sack and five tackles for loss.

    However, he allowed 428 yards and two touchdowns in pass coverage, with an opposing passer rating of 112.9.

    Under new head coach Brandon Staley and new defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill, the 22-year-old might spend a lot more time attacking the line of scrimmage.

    "Murray will be playing more downhill in this scheme," The Athletic's Daniel Popper wrote. "That much was made clear by the coaching staff and Murray himself in the spring. But downhill is a relatively general term. I will be watching closely how Murray's role changes. Is he blitzing more? How much is he dropping into coverage?"

    Expect the new coaching staff to focus on Murray's strengths. This could mean keeping him in the box and avoiding too much exposure in coverage—at least until it becomes a more proficient part of his game.

Los Angeles Rams: John Daka Could Be in Pass-Rushing Mix

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    While finding a replacement for running back Cam Akers—who will miss the season with a torn Achilles—may be priority No. 1 for the Los Angeles Rams, they also need to solidify their group of edge-rushers.

    L.A. retained Leonard Floyd in free agency but watched Samson Ebukam sign with the rival San Francisco 49ers.

    It appears that second-year defender John Daka could help replace Ebukam. According to Stu Jackson of the team's website, the 23-year-old is already making the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker.

    "Daka is listed as a defensive end, but photos from organized team activities showed him working out at outside linebacker, so it's worth including him among the candidates," Jackson wrote.

    Daka was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Ravens last year and has yet to play in a regular-season game. However, he did finish his James Madison career with an impressive 27.5 sacks, and 16.5 of those came in 2019.

    While Daka may be viewed as a long shot to make the final 53-man roster, his chances of sticking will improve if he can show value as an edge-defender during the preseason.

Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa Is the Starter...for Now

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    It appears that Tua Tagovailoa is the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback heading into camp. While the team did add veteran Jacoby Brissett in the offseason, the 2020 first-round pick doesn't appear to be in danger of losing his job early.

    According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, Tagovailoa is QB1 in Miami but may not hold it:

    "There is no competition in training camp—the job is Tua Tagovailoa's. But we already saw last year that Brian Flores doesn't have a ton of confidence in Tagovailoa and was willing to send him back to the bench. If Tua struggles early in the first two months, it wouldn't surprise me to see Flores turn to Jacoby Brissett to save the Dolphins' playoff hopes."

    Flores did bench Tagovailoa twice as a rookie, and the Alabama product never seemed capable of pushing the ball downfield. He averaged a mere 6.3 yards per attempt in 2020.

    That could change with deep threats like Will Fuller V and rookie Jaylen Waddle in town. If it doesn't, however, Miami may look to see if Brissett can provide a spark.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Vikings selected Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond in the third round of this year's draft. Starter Kirk Cousins is under contract through the 2022 season. The rookie may eventually be Cousins' heir, but the Vikings won't rush into transition mode.

    According to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune, Minnesota used backups Jake Browning and Nate Stanley to keep some distance between Cousins and Mond during organized team activities. However, Goessling noted that Mond could climb the depth chart in camp:

    "The Vikings kept Mond behind Browning and Stanley during OTAs, effectively creating a buffer between Cousins and the rookie, but if Mond can push past the two low-profile backups, it could help him raise his profile in two ways. He'd get incrementally more work during regular-season practices, and he'd put himself in line for whatever playing time falls to a backup behind the durable Cousins."

    The big obstacle for Mond is that Cousins' contract is fully guaranteed. Even if the rookie can claim the backup job in training camp, he's unlikely to overtake a healthy Cousins during the season. It's not an impossibility, of course, but parting with Cousins isn't a financially viable option.

    If Mond were to take over as the starting quarterback before Cousins' deal expires, it would leave the Vikings with perhaps the league's most expensive backup.

New England Patriots: Stephon Gilmore Reports to Camp

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    With his contract set to expire after the 2021 season, New England Patriots star cornerback Stephon Gilmore has been angling for a new deal. However, he hasn't been looking for a ticket out of New England.

    ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said the following on SportsCenter:

    "And I'm told that Gilmore has largely not expected to be traded throughout this process because he knows the Patriots have made moves with Gilmore in mind. They haven't gotten a cornerback to replace him. And as one source told me, 'Do the Patriots really want to go into Week 4 against Tom Brady without their top cornerback?'"

    It appears New England won't have to worry about not having Gilmore in 2021, though his on-field return may not be imminent. According to NFL Network's Rapoport, Mike Garafolo and Mike Giardi, Gilmore has already reported for camp and has been placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

    Gilmore appears to be dealing with the same quadriceps injury that landed him on injured reserve at the end of the 2020 campaign. Two seasons ago, the 30-year-old was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

    Presumably, Gilmore would still like to receive a new contract from the Patriots. However, the possibility of a holdout is now relatively nonexistent.

New Orleans Saints: Michael Thomas to Miss Start of Regular Season

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    With Drew Brees retiring this offseason, the New Orleans Saints will have a new starting quarterback in 2021—likely either utility man Taysom Hill or 2020 backup Jameis Winston. Unfortunately, New Orleans' next signal-caller will be missing a premium target to start the campaign.

    According to Rapoport, wideout Michael Thomas is expected to miss regular-season time following his June ankle surgery.

    "Rapoport added that the roughly four-month recovery timetable could keep Thomas on the sideline weeks into the season. The Saints' bye comes in Week 6 after games versus Green Bay, Carolina, New England, New York Giants, and Washington," Kevin Patra of NFL.com wrote.

    Thomas was spectacular in his first four seasons as a pro, topping 1,100 yards in each campaign and leading the league with 1,725 yards in 2019. However, Thomas missed nine games in 2020, both because of the ankle trouble and because he reportedly punched a teammate in practice. He finished with just 40 catches and 438 receiving yards.

    The Saints will have to wait to see which version of Thomas they'll get this season.

New York Giants: Battle for the No. 2 Receiver Spot Likely Looming

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The New York Giants got a new No. 1 receiver for quarterback Daniel Jones by signing free agent Kenny Golladay. He should immediately become Jones' top perimeter target, but The Athletic's Dan Duggan believes there will be a competition for the No. 2 role—with rookie Kadarius Toney possibly in the mix.

    "[Darius] Slayton and Sterling Shepard will compete for the No. 2 job," Duggan wrote. "I expect Shepard to get more snaps, but there's a possibility they'll rotate based on matchups, situations, etc., since their skill sets are so different. Then Toney is the wild card, but as I said, I don't expect him to play a significant amount of snaps initially."

    Toney, an explosive but raw prospect, may indeed be more of a gadget player or special teamer from day one. However, he could earn a more substantial role as the regular season progresses. He has the home run ability that other players on the roster lack.

    Toney began camp on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

New York Jets: Team Has Discussed Nick Foles Trade

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The New York Jets are widely expected to start No. 2 pick Zach Wilson at quarterback in Week 1. However, the Jets don't have a veteran backup or mentor behind Wilson.

    Like Wilson, James Morgan and Mike White have never taken a regular-season snap.

    According to Brian Costello of the New York Post, the Jets have had discussions with the Chicago Bears about dealing for Nick Foles, though a swap may not be on the horizon.

    "The problem is Foles' contract," Costello wrote. "He is due to make $4 million this season and next. The Bears surely would have to eat some of that contract to facilitate a trade."

    So, New York may have to pass. It's worth noting, however, that the Jets have recognized the need for experience at the quarterback position. Trading for another quarterback or grabbing a veteran off the cut pile before Week 1 could be a possibility.

Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Ertz Expected to Be in Camp

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has seemed like a player likely to be moved all offseason. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported June 1 that a trade was more likely than a release.

    Cutting Ertz would save the Eagles $8.5 million in cap space, but it would also force them to eat $4.2 million in dead money.

    On the eve of training camp, Ertz is still on the roster. According to Howard Eskin of SportsRadio 94WIP, Ertz is expected to report to camp Tuesday and presumably be on the field for Week 1.

    "Zach has been working out in team facility for close to last two weeks with teammates. He's over the issues," Eskin tweeted.

    According to John McMullen of Eagle Maven, the Eagles and Ertz were ready to move on from one another just a few short weeks ago. However, it's looking more likely that Ertz will continue with Philadelphia for at least one more season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Big Ben Looking to Be Not so Big?

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are giving it at least one more go with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. While Roethlisberger is likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer, there is some risk in his status as the starter.

    Roethlisberger missed the majority of 2019 after undergoing elbow surgery and appeared to wear down during the 2020 campaign. In 2019 and 2020, Roethlisberger averaged just 5.7 and 6.3 yards per attempt, the two lowest figures of his career.

    In an effort to stay in shape, Roethlisberger has reportedly turned to nutrition.

    "Ben camp says biggest concern is weight loss. He has been so driven since season ended. Source says his diet is stricter than Brady," broadcaster Ryan Burr tweeted.

    Burr later tweeted that Roethlisberger appeared to be "down between 25 and 35 pounds."

    While a smaller Big Ben may not help him regain his deep ball, it could help Roethlisberger be more elusive behind the line of scrimmage. At 39 years old, mobility is a concern.

San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance Will Have Shot at Starting QB Job

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers used the No. 3 pick in the draft on former North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. While Jimmy Garoppolo is still the starter, the rookie could earn the gig.

    "The moment [head coach Kyle] Shanahan believes that Lance gives the 49ers a better chance to win than Garoppolo, Lance will be the starting quarterback. It's as simple as that," The Athletic's David Lombardi wrote.

    Lance got off to a strong if inconsistent start, according to ESPN's Nick Wagoner.

    "Lance didn't look like he was in over his head during OTAs and took most of his reps with the second team," Wagoner wrote. "Although there were no pads or contact, Lance was able to digest all that Shanahan and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel threw at him, though he had his share of ups and downs."

    The bottom line is that if Lance can show that he's NFL-ready and possesses a higher upside than Garoppolo, he could claim the starting role. Of course, Garoppolo's health could also play a factor, as he has missed 23 games over the last three seasons.

    Expect a quarterback competition in camp.

Seattle Seahawks: Seahawks Have Made Big Offer to Jamal Adams

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks surrendered a hefty trade package—including two first-round picks—to acquire safety Jamal Adams from the New York Jets. However, Seattle did not move quickly to extend the 2017 No. 6 pick.

    With Adams entering the final year of his rookie deal, it was fair to think an extension would be reached this offseason. However, negotiations have gone slowly. John Clayton of 710 ESPN Seattle reported earlier this month that the two sides were "not close" to reaching a deal.

    Things appear to have shifted since then, however. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, Seattle has made a contract offer for Adams to become the highest-paid safety in the NFL.

    That title belongs to Denver's Justin Simmons, who signed a four-year, $61 million deal in March.

    While Adams isn't a typical back-end safety, he has proved his worth as a box defender. He amassed 83 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 2020 alone.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brady's 2020 Knee Injury Was Worse Than Reported

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently received their Super Bowl rings and will soon begin preparations for another run. What's noteworthy is that Brady is likely to be healthier than he was during last year's push to the big game.

    This offseason, Brady underwent knee surgery to fix an issue he said had bothered him throughout 2020. Details have emerged about just how serious the issue was. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Brady suffered a torn MCL during his final season with the New England Patriots.

    "The injury gradually worsened during his first year with the Bucs, and he finally had surgery to repair it in late February after winning his seventh Super Bowl," Stroud wrote.

    Brady's recovery will be a storyline worth following throughout camp. While the seven-time champion has been remarkably durable during his pro career—aside from 2008's torn ACL, he's never missed time because of injury—Tampa won't want to rush him into action.

    It will be a significant storyline to follow in the regular season too. If Brady can somehow be better than he was in 2020, the Bucs may become borderline unbeatable.

Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley Likely to Miss Time in Camp

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans used the 22nd pick in the draft on former Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley. The hope was that Farley could make an instant impact on a defense that ranked 29th against the pass in 2020.

    But "instant" may be a relative term. While Farley may still be able to start in Week 1, he hasn't recovered from offseason back surgery.

    "When will he be out there? Right now, it's unclear," Jim Wyatt of the team's official website wrote. "I don't expect him to be out there for day one of training camp. I do expect him to be out there at some point in camp, however. It just depends on how his rehab continues to go."

    Farley entered the draft as a prospect high on both upside and proven production—he had 12 passes defended and four interceptions when he last played in 2019. However, he opted out of the 2020 season, and two back surgeries likely hurt Farley's draft stock.

    The good news for the Titans, according to Wyatt, is that Farley is making "good progress" in his recovery.

Washington Football Team: Taylor Heinicke Outperformed Fitzpatrick in Minicamp

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Defensive is still expected to be the strength of the Washington Football Team. Washington won the NFC East last year largely because of a unit that ranked second in yards allowed and fourth in point allowed.

    However, Washington may be a more balanced squad this season with a roster capable of going deep into the postseason. The Football Team added receivers Curtis Samuel, Adam Humphries and rookie Dyami Brown along with journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    Fitzpatrick is widely expected to be the Week 1 starter, but it would be foolish to count out Taylor Heinicke, who started for Washington in the playoffs last year. In fact, Heinicke was the more impressive quarterback during minicamp, according to Peter Hailey of NBC Sports Washington.

    "Heinicke had himself a damn good minicamp for the Washington Football Team," Hailey wrote. "In fact, he looked better than Ryan Fitzpatrick."

    Now, Hailey acknowledged Heinicke has more experience in Scott Turner's offense and was performing mostly against backups—so it would be wise to not read too much into the early offseason. However, Heinicke's strong performance suggests Washington could have a quarterback competition on its hands during camp.

       

    Contract information via Spotrac. Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference.

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