I pulled an all-nighter in order to catch a 6 a.m. flight to San Diego. It’s my first plane trip in 511 days, not that I’ve been counting. If anyone has any suggestions for things to do out there, tag me on Twitter.
• After spending a weekend in Wisconsin, part of me is itching to get back to football. And that’s weird, considering I want to milk every ounce of summer that I can. Nevertheless, having a new quarterback has me feeling refreshed from a fan’s standpoint. Moreover, the high expectations that come with a highly touted quarterback prospect have me buzzing. For instance, the NFLPA already views Justin Fields as one of its rising stars. Fields makes the cut on the NFLPA’s Rising Stars list for 2021. The rookie portion of the list features five quarterbacks, with only Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence ranking ahead of Chicago’s (future) QB1. Essentially, this list projects which players will be most popular and productive, gauge their social media engagement and marketing potential, and more. That Fields ranks where he does says a lot about how others perceive his future. Clearly, the arrow is pointing up.
• Part of me wonders what would’ve happened had the Vikings successfully made a trade for Fields. I’m glad that isn’t a reality we live in, but it still lingers in my mind. Not necessarily because of what it could’ve meant, bu instead, what it currently means. Minnesota failing to trade up for Fields, then taking Kellen Mond in Round 3 hints the team has its eyes on the future. More than that, it seems as if the Vikings are already angling to move on from Kirk Cousins.
• Maybe Minnesota was just protecting itself in case Cousins gets banged up over the next few years. But your team isn’t targeting a premier QB prospect in Round 1 as a break glass in case of emergency option. Your team drafts a first-round quarterback with the intent to start him at some point during his rookie contract. Did the Vikings just create in-house drama by way of their failure to get Fields? If so, LOL.
• In case you’re curious, the Vikings are pretty much stuck with Cousins. Cutting him before the start of the season would cause Minnesota to lose $35 million in cap space with the cost of a $66 million dead money hit. Part ways with Cousins in his age 34 season? It wouldn’t save any money against the cap and would come with a $45 million dead money hit. In other words, Mond better be ready or the Vikings should start preparing for the QB class of 2023.
• Hey! We’re well past June 1 and Aaron Rodgers remains on the Packers. What gives!? Well, Green Bay’s management insists on not trading the disgruntled star. And I can’t say I blame them for taking that stance. Who willingly wants to trade a great quarterback? But for President Mark Murphy to write the Rodgers situation “has divided our fan base” is BOLD. In a way, it’s an admission essentially confirming reports of Rodgers unhappiness with the team, as well as buzz about how Murphy, GM Brian Gutekunst, and Head Coach Matt LaFleur have reached out to Rodgers to take his temperature. And yet, there’s nothing cooking. The irony isn’t lost on me that Murphy’s assessment about this dividing the fan base comes nearly 13 years after a divided fan base wanted the team to choose Brett Favre over Rodgers.
• To put a bow on the Rodgers stuff, Peter King weighs the pros and cons of buckling to the QB’s demands by giving him one last big contract. If I was trying to make someone happy when they were mad at me, I’d throw them all the money and assurances that they’d be my QB until he wanted to hang them up. I’m unsure if the Packers are willing to do that. But I would be.
• One post-June 1 trade is in the books. Julio Jones is taking his talents to Nashville. I sure am glad Jones is no longer in the NFC. On top of that, I’m happy the Falcons waited until after the NFL Draft to move on from Jones. I imagine a scenario in which Atlanta decides earlier to pull the plug and start a rebuild, then snagging Justin Fields as Matt Ryan’s heir apparent. No thanks. Don’t want to live in that alternate universe.
• Instead, I’m digging living in the present. To be fair, I’d feel better if more than two Bears were on Pete Prisco’s list of top-100 NFL players. However, I’m not too up in arms about it. Khalil Mack checks in as the highest-ranking Bears, coming in at No. 20. Mack was PFF’s top edge defender last year and earned second-team All-Pro honors. What’s left to say about Mack that we haven’t said over the last three years? We could stand to create more superlatives to properly describe his value.
• Also on the list is receiver Allen Robinson II, who lands in the top-50. Honestly, I’m surprised Robinson ranks that high. Don’t get me wrong. I *believe* Robinson deserves a top-50 spot. .But when you spent the last year catching passes from Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Robinson could climb further up the charts if he connects with Justin Fields early and often in 2021.
• Kyle Long weighs in on the offensive lineman portion of the list:
This is like one of those lists of a 10 year old kid comprised of his favorite players
— Kyle (@Ky1eLong) June 7, 2021
• Wait! Are the Lions the only NFC North team that doesn’t have QB drama right now? How’d we get to this point!?