The NFL season begins Thursday, but with how the league proliferates stories that invade your daily life, even in the offseason, you may not have known it was gone. Trades, suspensions, arrests, mysteries, and rumors filled the headlines as the players took time away from the field.
Mike will be back next week with Power Rankings, but in case you didn’t keep up with everything, here are my top 10 favorite offseason storylines, some of which are very important, and most of which will not matter an iota in a few more days.
First he retired. Then, about a month later, he unretired. Then he was linked to the Dolphins a few years ago, breaking the space time continuum, just like his face and hairline. Then, then, THEN! he left the Buccaneers camp for an excused two-week absence, which was shrouded in silence and mystery. Was he on The Masked Singer? Did he get a facelift? Divorce?
DOES IT MATTER? No. Because starting Sunday here is what you can expect from Tom Brady: He’ll win most games by being pretty damn good. He’ll have a few games where everyone goes nuts about how we forget that he’s the best. He’ll have a couple ugly clunkers when he’ll pout that 21-year-old face and stomp around. And then he’ll have more good games like nothing ever went wrong. The first game we really won’t know what to expect will be the NFC championship. Stay tuned!
In brief: Russell Wilson to the Broncos. Davante Adams to the Raiders. Some good defensive players you may or may not have heard of to the Chargers. Tyreek Hill away from the Chiefs.
DOES IT MATTER? Yes! Major moves for each of these teams makes this frequent runaway division the most interesting and hard to predict for the coming season. If I were to bet (and maybe I have), I’d order it Chargers, Chiefs, Broncos, Raiders.
So look, it’s not too surprising to see the people closest to Aaron Rodgers, leave him. The revolving door of girlfriends and fiancées is humdrum at this point. His family hasn’t been around for years. But to lose one’s favorite target in Davante Adams along with other receivers, is not ideal.
DOES IT MATTER? Aaron Rodgers would tell you that the media will twist it into some cancel culture narrative and that when you learn to think for yourself, you get to decide what actually matters. And a game doesn’t matter nearly as much as love and understanding and some big words that neither you nor he understand.
Ridley is a Falcons receiver of minor acclaim who missed much of last year when he took a mental health sabbatical. After the season, he was suspended a full season for gambling $1,500 on NFL games, including on his own team (to win). He was away from the team at the time, and the league found he didn’t use inside information to bet on it.
DOES IT MATTER? Did you know that U.S. Congresspeople can invest in the stock market? Did you know they can take their money out of the stock market whenever they want, even if they are privy to governmental information that may move the markets? What Ridley did matters wayyyyyyyyy less.
Twenty-four massage therapists have accused Deshaun Watson of sexual assault. The filings consistently allege that he exploited his power to do or force some pretty heinous things. And yet, the Cleveland Browns gave Watson a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract that purposely structured the payouts to accommodate a front-loaded suspension. He’ll sit 11 games this season after missing last season, and the point of everything, completely.
DOES IT MATTER? If you are a Browns fan, no. If you are a regular human being, yes.
I actually had to title it that, in case something else terrible happens since I wrote this yesterday.
Did you see that Washington owner Daniel Snyder has his superyacht docked in a marina in Bolivia because of their lax extradition laws? Okay, so that’s not true. But he was hiding out all summer on his boat, unable to come back to Washington to testify in front of Congress. Do you have to be terrible to be a billionaire or do you become terrible after you become one?
DOES IT MATTER? Nothing matters for this guy. He has nine thousand lives. It seemingly does not matter that he refused to change his team’s name away from a racist term for decades. Or that he has repeatedly been accused of fostering a hostile workplace, particularly to women. Or that he may have been hiding money from the NFL. Nothing sticks to this guy.
The Arizona Cardinals gave their star quarterback the massive contract extension he rightly deserved. He’s been mostly awesome and always fun to watch, as he’s turned the franchise around from pathetic to competitive. But they couldn’t just give him the money without throwing in some fine print, forcing Murray to independently study the playbook and game tape for four hours a week. Yikes! After a media shitstorm, they ripped up the clause.
DOES IT MATTER? Probably some. In all 3 seasons he’s played in the NFL, he went 2-5 in his last 7 games. You rip up the homework clause for PR’s sake, but the Cardinals are hoping Murray realizes it’s not a coincidence that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning did so much work off the field.
This was telegraphed like a Jimmy Garoppolo out route pass, but it doesn’t make it any more sensible. The guy was a quarter away from winning the Super Bowl 3 years ago, and a teammate’s dropped interception away from returning to the Super Bowl last year. They drafted Trey Lance and eventually you gotta use him, but this was a botched breakup, and eventually, like Costanza, the breakup didn’t take.
DOES IT MATTER? Yes. The 49ers will keep Garoppolo as backup and like all insurance policies, it’s too expensive until you need it.
Look at this!
keep ya head on a swivel 👀 pic.twitter.com/Oywc3Dt52k
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 25, 2022
That’s the best defensive player in the NFL (maybe ever, to those with recency bias) swinging two removed opponents’ helmets at those opponents. This happened last week in a joint practice between the Rams and Bengals. And the craziest part (DID I MENTION SWINGING HELMETS ON HELMETLESS HEADS?) is that he got away with it. Like Visor Soze.
DOES IT MATTER? Nope. No suspension, no big deal. It’s almost like NFL discipline makes no sense.
Just gonna skip right to…
DOES IT MATTER? Of course not. Is it fun? You betcha.