The Chicago Bears are one of a handful of teams starting mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Let’s use this opportunity to go around the league and see what’s going on elsewhere.
- Right now, one of the pleasant things about covering Bears minicamp is that there aren’t any big-name hold-outs or contract disputes. And while the contract talks that surround Aaron Rodgers aren’t a distraction, they are of much interest to fans throughout the NFC North (and the NFL, for that matter). NFL Network insider Mike Garofolo reports Rodgers wants an out clause of sorts that would allow him to renegotiate a deal that would keep him as the highest paid quarterback if another signal caller surpasses his deal. NFLN teammate Ian Rapoport described it as a “series of player options” that would allow Rodgers to have some sort of contract control. Rodgers seems to refute those reports, saying he doesn’t talk to the media about it and doesn’t believe his agent is chiming in either. In a video shared by Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rodgers says of the talk “a lot of it is just conjecture.”
- Rodgers isn’t setting a deadline for a contract to get done, but it’s difficult to imagine nothing getting done this offseason. Rodgers is arguably football’s best player at the game’s best position, but has been lapped in salary by lesser players. Something has to give … right?
- Elsewhere in the NFC North, ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reports that Vikings running back Dalvin Cook has participated in 11-on-11 drills. This marks the first time he has been on the field and in on-field team activities since tearing his ACL early in his rookie season. Cook tore his ACL four games into his pro career. He had a breakout game in his debut, gaining 127 rushing yards on 22 carries in a 29-19 win against the Saints. Cook scored in back-to-back games before the season-ending injury. Prior to the ACL tear, Cook was on pace for a 1,400-yard rushing season. If he’s at full strength, the Vikings are going to be a tough out in the NFC.
- Even though the Bears and Texans won’t square off next year, we’ll be keeping our eyes on quarterback Deshaun Watson as he recovers from his ACL for all the obvious reasons. So it’s nice to hear his 2018 is off to a good start:
Good news for the #Texans: Stars Deshaun Watson (ACL) and JJ Watt (tibial plateau fracture) are progressing so well that, at this point, neither are expected to start training camp on the PUP list, I’m told. After a rough 2017 injury-wise, Houston will begin 2018 healthy.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 5, 2018
- After not showing up for voluntary OTAs, Patriots stars Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were in the house for the first day of mandatory minicamp. Gronkowski said he had to see where his body and mind were before committing to football this season, according to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington. Meanwhile, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio details how Bill Belichick side-stepped questions about his two most valuable players skipping OTAs. Impressive. Most impressive.
- It looks like a rumored Bears trade target will have to undergo surgery on a troublesome wrist. Mike Klis reports that Broncos outside linebacker/edge rusher Shane Ray is getting a second opinion on a potential wrist surgery. And while surgery wouldn’t end Ray’s season, it would be a rough start to his comeback campaign. Ray’s wrist caused him to miss eight games last season, and his next procedure would be his fourth. The Bears and Broncos could hypothetically match up on a trade, but I would imagine the piling up of injuries would put a stop to any talks.
- I’ve been waiting for Calvin Johnson to chime in on the NFL’s new catch rule. Even though he is retired from the game, Johnson’s non-catch against the Bears some years ago is what really got the ball rolling regarding the never-ending question of what is (or is not) a catch. “It just took them seven years to figure out what we knew on Day 1,” Johnson said, via the Detroit Free Press.
- Sad news to report as San Francisco 49ers legend Dwight Clark died on Monday at age 61 after battling ALS. Clark’s wife shared the news via his Twitter account:
I’m heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband. He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most. I am thankful for all of Dwight’s friends, teammates and 49ers fans who have sent their love during his battle with ALS. Kelly Clark.
— Dwight Clark (@DwightC87) June 4, 2018
- Clark is best known for The Catch, which should need no introduction. So instead, here’s the highlight with legendary broadcaster Vin Scully on the call:
- I’m not sure whether football at Wrigley Field is in our jurisdiction or that of our sister site Bleacher Nation. But to be safe, we’ll mention it here:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 5, 2018
In 2020, they’ll be able to play both directions because of the Wrigley Field renovations that allow them to cover the #Cubs dugout and remove the first four rows in part of the west side of the stadium #B1GCats pic.twitter.com/R4gXLmvVfz
— Madeline Kenney (@madkenney) June 5, 2018
- Speaking of college football, Joe Lucia of AwfulAnnouncing.com breaks down which networks have the best (and worst) games this coming season. Here’s hoping teh good games don’t turn bad, and the bad games are surprisingly entertaining. One thing I love about college football is that there are so many games going on at once, odds are you can find a competitive game at any given time, on any given channel, between any two teams. You can’t always say that about the NFL slate.
- Here’s something you probably didn’t see coming: Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports confirms a report that NCAA executive Oliver Luck is leaving to join the XFL as the league’s commissioner. The XFL has dipped out of the headlines since Vince McMahon’s initial announcement bringing the once-dead league back to life, but hiring an actual commissioner seems like a step in the right direction. The XFL isn’t scheduled to return until 2020, one year after pro football start-up the American Alliance of Football is slated to get underway.
- Even after administering a new anthem policy, the battle between NFL vs. President Trump simply (and I would go as far to add predictably) won’t go away:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 4, 2018
- And now, FOX News is in the mix because of how it has irresponsibly handled the news cycle:
This can’t be serious…. Praying before games with my teammates, well before the anthem, is being used for your propaganda?! Just sad, I feel like you guys should have to be better than this… https://t.co/kYeyH2zXdK
— Zach Ertz (@ZERTZ_86) June 5, 2018
Fox News used the faith of Christian men dishonestly to push an agenda. That wasn’t an “error,” but intentional and strategic. They’ve deleted the segment + apologized on twitter, but many viewers don’t have twitter. An on air apology to all Christians would be the classy move. pic.twitter.com/qb8z8PwM1N
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) June 5, 2018
- The Eagles and their players have gone out of their way to take the high road and deliver thoughtful posts regarding the manner. Take this, from safety Malcolm Jenkins, for example:
— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) June 5, 2018
- Even Philadelphia’s mayor chimed in after the cancellation:
— FOX 29 (@FOX29philly) June 5, 2018