Why, yes, I did see the pic floating around online featuring Drake and Taylor Swift. No, I will not be getting ahead of myself thinking about what kind of collaboration those two could cook up on a Taylor’s Version album that will certainly be required listening whenever it drops. Nope. Certainly not gonna get my hopes up. I’ve already fallen for one too many album drop theories that haven’t come to fruition yet.
• Look who’s back at minicamp:
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) April 19, 2022
• Way to take advantage of that CBA language, Bears!
• Jaylon Johnson turns 23 today, which reminds me of the time he came away with his first interception — and against Joe Burrow, of all quarterbacks:
• Remember when the Bears beat the Bengals? That was a good time. Still can’t believe the Rams needed a fourth-quarter comeback to beat a team the Bears did a darn good job handling in Week 2. The Bears would never…
• Anyway, back to Johnson, who happens to be the type of player this new Bears regime should be trying to find with their Day 2 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. No, Johnson hasn’t become an instant star, but two years into his pro career have been solid. And when it comes to draft picks, Johnson can be considered a good one. Think about the boxes he checks. Week 1 starter as a rookie? Check. A primary starter in his first two seasons? Double check. Has he been (mostly) healthy despite concerns regarding health risks that date back to when he was a prospect? I’d say Johnson also falls under this umbrella, so that’s another check. Plays his position with the type of fearlessness that is commonly associated with the best players at his position? Yeah, I’d check that box, too.
• If the Bears had more second-round picks like Jaylon Johnson, maybe they wouldn’t have had to clean house this offseason. Perhaps if the previous GM wasn’t shipping off picks like they were going out of style, the Bears would have more players like Johnson currently on their roster. The sheer lack of volume hurt the Bears’ depth then, and it continues to be a nuisance now as a new-look front office attempts to clean up messes from the past.
• The 2022 season is shaping up to be an important one for Johnson. He has put together strong starts in each of his first two campaigns, but he hasn’t kept that consistency throughout the entirety of a full season. However, if he can take another sizable step forward after this season, we could be discussing the possibility of the Bears needing to extend his contract at this time next year. I don’t want to get too far in the weeds on that one, as there is much Johnson needs to prove on the field and to a front office/coaching staff that has no prior investment in him. Indeed, there is no shortage of Bears with something to prove in 2022, with Johnson being near the top of that list.
• Speaking of cornerback extensions, Denzel Ward got his in a big way:
Browns are signing Pro-Bowl CB Denzel Ward to a 5-year, $100.5 million contract extension that includes $71.25 million guaranteed, per source. At age 24, Ward is the highest-paid CB in NFL history.
Tory Dandy of CAA Sports, who negotiated the contract, confirmed the deal to ESPN
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 18, 2022
• You know who else could use a contract extension? How about Denzel Ward’s draft classmate:
• Surely, Roquan Smith is noting the $20.1 million AAV on Ward’s deal. And I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten contracts signed by Darius Leonard or Fred Warner last offseason either. The data points are stacking up, however, what will GM Ryan Poles do with a linebacker who could star in this new defensive scheme but wasn’t a pick from this particular regime? It merits further discussion beyond bullets.
• Between the $71 million in guarantees Ward is set to receive and the $230 million Deshaun Watson was given upon his arrival in Cleveland, the Browns have spent more than $300 million in guarantees — ON TWO PLAYERS. Sheesh!
• This would garner one heckuva taunting penalty today, but it would be worth it:
• It’s back, baby!
We tried to make this a tag team cage match but the lawyers said our contracts wouldn’t allow it…#CapitalOnesTheMatch is back, June 1st. Let’s kick their ass @AaronRodgers12 | @JoshAllenQB @PatrickMahomes pic.twitter.com/3ByQqBkIJR
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) April 18, 2022
• Your favorite team’s right fielder could never have a debut week like Seiya Suzuki:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 18, 2022
• Biggest Bulls win in what feels like a hot minute:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 18, 2022