With the post-NFL Draft dust having been settled, now figures to be a good time to catch up with what’s going on around the league.
- One of the NFL Draft’s most surprising storylines didn’t even involve a draft pick. Rumors of Cowboys tight end Jason Witten’s retirement that surfaced during the draft came to fruition on Thursday when Witten announced his retirement to join ESPN as the Monday Night Football color analyst. Witten turns 36 on Sunday and retires as Dallas’ franchise leader in catches (1,152) and receiving yards (12,448). He is the second Cowboys star to retire and join the booth in as many seasons, following in the footsteps of Tony Romo who joined CBS after his retirement.
- Witten joins MNF with absolutely no broadcast experience, which should make for an interesting dynamic once the games get underway. Tony Romo didn’t have any either, but he made a (mostly) smooth transition as Jim Nantz’s partner for CBS’ A-team broadcast. So it’s understandable if candidates who were qualified with broadcast experience were miffed when they learned they didn’t get the job, but Kurt Warner wants you to know that this tweet is definitely not about being passed for the MNF gig:
I remember the days growing up believing the BEST person for the job – not race, not gender, not age, not pedigree -led to gaining position… trying to figure out if it ever TRULY applied (thinking I was just a naive kid) but, if so, how did we get so backwards!?
— Kurt Warner (@kurt13warner) May 2, 2018
- Warner told Bernie Miklasz that the tweet had nothing to do with the Monday Night Football gig. “I didn’t even know that was an issue,” Warner said. “And that had absolutely nothing to do with Monday Night Football. Had nothing to do with anything that I was dealing with personally at that point in time. It had to do with some different things that I saw were out there, you know, different things that were going on.”
- I’m not sure when Warner’s time will come, but it shouldn’t be long. Not only is Warner an informed analyst with quality insight who is often seen on NFL Network, he is enjoyable to listen to, too. Unfortunately for Warner, these primetime gigs on major networks don’t open up often. He might have to wait a while, which is a bummer for a broadcaster whose analysis I enjoy and respect.
- Elsewhere in the broadcast booth, former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is jumping in with the CBS team as the third man with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green. Arians retired after the 2017 season, which concluded his five-year career as Arizona’s head coach, in which he went 49-30-1 with two postseason appearances and three winning seasons.
- NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweeted that former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was expected to retire (again), after his one-year stint with the Miami Dolphins. FOX was going to have Cutler join the broadcast booth as an analyst last year (Cutler was supposed to do the Bears-Titans preseason game, if you’ll recall) before his short-lived retirement came to an end. Back in January, there was a belief that FOX was likely to welcome Cutler back in the booth, so we’ll see if he returns to a place he technically never truly arrived at.
- Let me preface this by saying the Bills got their guy in Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, but needed to trade up with the Buccaneers to make it happen. It was disappointing to some that the Bears couldn’t wiggle their way to a deal with Buffalo, but it’s growing more clear that the Bills were shooting for a higher spot. Buffalo GM Brandon Beane told the Buffalo News he talked to Browns GM John Dorsey “more than anybody” but was unable to come to a deal. Beane also expanded on his attempt to work on a deal with the Broncos for pick No. 5, which would have sent the 12th, 22nd, and a second-round pick to Denver. Obviously, the Broncos wanted Bradley Chubb, but that’s a tough deal to turn down and one that John Elway could regret down the line depending on how things pan out with his team.
- Free agent safety Eric Reid has filed a collusion grievance against the NFL, following former teammate Colin Kaepernick in doing so. Like Kaepernick, Reid will have to prove that there was an agreement made to keep him out of the league, and not just that his protests of injustice have impacted his ability to sign a new contract. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio points out the NFL has given players the right to protest, so it’s not like teams can refuse players who have protested in the past or could continue to do so in the future. Additionally, Reid has said he wasn’t planning to continue his kneeling protests, and instead would consider and explore other ways to bring awareness to his cause. Still, his only official free agent visit has been with the Cincinnati Bengals.
- There is no smooth transition from that topic to the next, which is fitting because we’re about to talk about a not-so-smooth transition that could take place in Pittsburgh. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn’t all that excited about rookie Mason Rudolph joining the squad. Not only was Roethlisberger “surprised” the team drafted Rudolph, he didn’t seem all that keen on mentoring the Oklahoma State product. If you think that’s awkward, let’s see what happens if Roethlisberger reads this glowing piece about his potential heir apparent on the team’s official website.
- To be fair to the Steelers, Roethlisberger hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2014 and just turned 36 in March. Pittsburgh’s front office is right to start loading up on options who could conceivably carry the team through some games Roethlisberger might miss, while also having eyes on the future. Then again, Roethlisberger has poured everything he has into the team and you could understand why he is miffed by the idea of training his future replacement. Still, it feels quite Favre-ish from one of the league’s elder statesmen at the position.
- Perhaps Pittsburgh will take a page from Kansas City’s playbook when it comes to developing a young quarterback behind an established starter. The Chiefs played it perfectly with Patrick Mahomes learning under Alex Smith, then dealing Smith this offseason to allow Mahomes an opportunity to establish himself as the team’s QB1. For what it’s worth, Mahomes has big plans now that he’s running the show in KC, saying the team’s next step is the Super Bowl. That’s a big leap after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, but I’ll never dismiss a player who shoots for the moon. Good luck, kid. And if all goes well, you’ll be seeing your former offensive coordinator in the big game.