NFL Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Lamar Jackson, Zach Ertz and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2021

NFL Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Lamar Jackson, Zach Ertz and More

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The impending arrival of NFL training camps means an escalation in buzz in the rumors market. 

    Both go hand-in-hand because as players report to camps around the league, details like holdouts and contracts start to move to the forefront of the line. Add in actual positional battles and a strong remaining free-agent class, and an uptick on the rumor mill is inevitable. 

    Granted, it's hard to see anything trumping the heavyweight item that was the Atlanta Falcons shipping Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans earlier this offseason. But the most notable buzz includes some major names, notably a former MVP quarterback. 

    Here's a look at the latest rumors from the market. 

Justin Houston Getting Looks

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    It always seemed like a matter of time before veteran pass-rusher Justin Houston saw his name in the headlines. 

    Houston, after all, is one of the best outright remaining free agents available. He's 32 years old, but he's had eight or more sacks in four consecutive seasons with 97.5 total over 134 career games. Even last year, he posted 25 pressures, the low mark for his past three seasons of work. 

    According to NFL reporter Jason La Canfora, the Georgia product's name came up with the Pittsburgh Steelers before the would-be contender opted to sign veteran pass-rusher Melvin Ingram III. 

    Houston was a near-miss here for a team trying to replace production lost by the departure of Bud Dupree, but he doesn't figure to be on the market much longer. Like his last two years in Indianapolis, he projects to have a massive rotational impact for whichever team ultimately signs him. 

Zach Ertz to Attend Eagles Training Camp?

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    A Zach Ertz trade has felt like an inevitability for the Philadelphia Eagles. 

    But as the onset of camp looms, a different sort of tune has started to emerge from the city. According to Howard Eskin of Fox 29 TV, Ertz is "over the issues," has been working out with teammates and will be present at the start of training camp. 

    That's a 180 compared to the past storylines surrounding the tight end, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reporting in early June that talks on a trade had been going on for a long time and a release wouldn't happen.

    It made sense—Ertz's contract has a dead-cap number of $7.8 million, which would save the team roughly $5 million if released. Other teams know this and aren't likely to cough up much in the way of assets for a 30-year-old who made it in 11 games last year and caught just 36 of his 72 targets. 

    With things at a standstill, only another team getting very desperate over the summer would seemingly be enough to get Ertz off the Eagles. 

Lamar Jackson Extension Buzz

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is one of three major dominoes set to fall in the quarterback-extension market soon, the others being Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills and Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns. 

    As the 2019 MVP, though, Jackson should be at a distinct advantage in the race. And according to Dan Graziano of ESPN, the extension with the Ravens could check in around the $40-45 million-per-year average mark. 

    Such a number would make perfect sense, too. Most former MVPs with a resume like the 24-year-old's would attempt to reset the market, but no team is going to reasonably come too close to Patrick Mahomes' $450 million deal in Kansas City that carries an AAV (average annual value) of $45 million.

    Landing in second place would require Jackson to merely net above the $40 million AAV Dak Prescott got in Dallas. 

    With Mayfield and Allen unlikely to flirt with the Mahomes mark, either, Jackson could feel comfortable being the first of the current big three to sign without too much worry one of the others will leapfrog him.

    The Louisville product could easily become the bar for quarterback extensions, with Mahomes the exception.

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