Usually, week four or five is the time where the NFL starts getting weird. Rumors fly, trades are made, and frustrated players are either given new deals or are shipped out.
It seems like the NFL did not see its shadow for the first time in years. It’s about to get Woodstock weird in the league now.
Not even into the third week of the season, the NFL has gone topsy-turvy with news surrounding top-notched players. Two legendary quarterbacks will miss extended time, two of the league’s best defensive backs are frustrated with their own teams, and Miami might as well have dropped a nuclear bomb in their locker room.
Rumors are going to start hitting fans left and right, but what can you believe? With the league every changing, it’s hard to keep up with everything happening in the blink of an eye. Here are our thoughts on if you should buy or sell the latest rumors.
Pittsburgh Steelers believe Mason Rudolph is the “heir” to Ben Roethlisberger
With Ben Roethlisberger set to miss the rest of the season after undergoing elbow surgery, the Steelers will turn to second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph to lead the way. Much like Gardner Minshew in the opening weekend, the Oklahoma State product performed admirably, throwing for 112 yards and two touchdowns after he took over from Big Ben.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 15, 2019
With the addition of former Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers no longer will have a first-round pick the 2020 NFL Draft. Kevin Colbert deserves credit for trying to rebuild the defense with Devin Bush and the versatile Alabama defender, but the move is a gamble for the future. With Roethlisberger sitting at age 37, he could call it a career following surgery.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin stated he is certain that Rudolph can succeed at the next level.
“Mason is capable,” Tomlin said. “He’s been a part of this thing. He’s the backup quarterback. We’re capable of functioning in a very normal manner when he’s in there.”
Without a first-round selection, the Steelers are likely rolling with Rudolph for the 2019 season and beyond. Should he struggle, Roethlisberger has stated he wants to return to finish the final year of his contract in 2020. If Rudolph succeeds, Pittsburgh will have an excellent defender and franchise signal-caller.
New York Jets safety Jamal Adams wanting out of the “Big Apple.”
The Jets have to be one of the football’s most devastating franchises. Even when it seems like the team is trending in the right direction, they somehow trip on their own success and start back at square one.
With Sam Darnold, C.J. Mosley, and Quinnen Williams all out, New York was demolished by the Cleveland Browns on Monday night. Immediately Tuesday morning, reports claimed that Jamal Adams had unfollowed the team’s social media accounts and changed his Twitter bio.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 17, 2019
One of the premier defensive backs in the league, Adams has made an immediate impact for the “Gang Green” secondary. With a Pro Bowl under his belt, the former LSU standout is a face of the team, meaning he’d probably cost a hefty amount on the trade market.
Adams denied the rumors, stating it was “outside noise” with the organization despite their two straight losses, according to CBS’s Jason La Canfora. While JLC has been wrong in the past, this is one that fans should believe. A vocal presence on and off the field, Adams doesn’t seem to be the guy to lash out over social media.at
Jalen Ramsey will be moved in the coming week from Jacksonville
Anyone who covers the sport knows cornerback Jalen Ramsey is vocal about his role. Considered by many as the league’s top cornerback, the former top-five selection made it clear to the media he would agree with their thoughts.
“All I care about is winning man,” said Ramsey. “S**t, everybody know that. I wanna f*****g win. Straight up. Excuse my language but s***t, everybody knows that. That’s who I am. That passion, that fire, that heart, that’s what you all love, right? And I’m going to continue giving that as long as I’m here.”
Since a heated exchange from with head coach Doug Marrone, speculation has been that the team will likely part ways with their top corner. Considering that the Houston Texans sent Miami a pair of first-round picks for Laremy Tunsil, the asking price for Ramsey should be similar. Since joining the league, the two have become top players at their position.
Several teams have inquired about Ramsey’s price, with two squads offering a deal that each included a first-round pick. Tunsil is considered more of a second-tier player at his position, while Ramsey is firmly a top tier cornerback, making this move more plausible.
Since the arrival of Tom Coughlin, it seems like the team has transformed into his roster rather than that of Dave Caldwell. With a potential power struggle between the two parties, Jacksonville might need to decide between either Ramsey or the former two-time Super Bowl head coach.
The Miami Dolphins are shopping RB Kenyan Drake
Dolphins fans are probably wondering who some of the starting players on their roster are. That’s probably because anyone who was above average is gone. Sure, Jerome Baker, Xaiven Howard, Raekwon McMillian, and several others still remain, but a majority of the roster has been gutted already this season.
More Dolphins trade news, team has had trade talks with teams this week about RB Kenyan Drake
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) September 15, 2019
With Monday’s move of Fitzpatrick, the attention now turns to Kenyan Drake. The former third-round selection has seen limited action, with just 10 carries for 31 yards this season. Naturally, Dolphins coach Brian Flores denied the report of the move.
“I can’t really speak to the accuracy of that one,” Flores told reporters. “We haven’t received any information like that. I think for us, we just need to focus on what’s going on inside of our building, and not worry about anything that’s going on outside.”
Although not a feature back, the former Alabama runner has value in multiple ways. A strong runner with the ability to pick up first downs, Drake works best in short-yardage situations. Through his first three seasons, the secondary runner has also collected 762 receiving yards and 6 total touchdowns as a pass-catcher.
The Dolphins are embracing full-on tank mode. Players like McMillan and Drake have value on other rosters. But the team still needs some players to contribute and put fans in the seats. Drake is still one of those players who is a fan-favorite. He’s also not worth the same amount as Tunsil and Fitzpatrick.
Cam Newton’s injury could be the beginning of the end
All preseason, eyes were on the former MVP and his progression following shoulder surgery. While the shoulder seems to be fine, reports are now talking about his foot becoming the problem.
Marty Hurney says Cam Newton re-aggravated his same left foot on which he had a mid-foot sprain in the preseason. Team knee after the game he re-aggravated. No timeline. “We will see how it goes.”
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) September 17, 2019
Newton did not practice Tuesday after apparently aggravating his foot last Thursday against Tampa Bay. According to Ron Rivera, Kyle Allen could become the team’s starter while the 2015 MVP is given time to heal.
“The short term, yes, if that’s the direction we have to head,” Rivera said Tuesday. ” … Kyle is more than ready. Kyle did some really good things last year, showed us what he’s capable of. Had a good preseason. He knows the offense. He knows it very well. So we feel confident about him.”
Newton missing the end of last season raised eyebrows on his long-term status moving forward. With the recent retirement of Andrew Luck still fresh in mind, you cannot totally discount the chance that the 30-year-old calls it an early career. If the team were to shut him down for the year as they did last year, anything is possible.
But Rivera has still not completely ruled Newton out for Week 3. The fact that Newton threw 51 passes against the Bucs is a positive indication of the shoulder. The concerns are now more about the foot, which has not been a problem before this season. We are sellers on the severity of these rumors.
The Daniel Jones era officially has begun
For better or worse, Dave Gettleman is about to see what his quarterback of the future can do.
Following the 0-2 start, New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur announced that first-round quarterback Daniel Jones would take over as the team’s starter this Sunday. With a potential must-win game against the Buccaneers awaiting, the team feels as if the former Duke prospect gives them their best chance.
Daniel Jones gets the call. pic.twitter.com/52n2e12AlB
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 17, 2019
Jones shined in the preseason, outplaying all rookie quarterbacks. But that was against a majority of second and third-string players. Now against NFL starters, it will be interesting to see if Jones is ready for the league, or if scouts were right to criticize the team’s decision to draft him 6th overall.
Jones will start and likely finish the game, but that’s it for now. Shurmur or Gettleman could end up making the executive decision on who will start each week. Should Jones succeed, he will likely take over the rest of the season, but it’s all dependent upon his performance in Week 3.
Verdict: Sell until Week 4
Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed by NFL teams
With teams like New Orleans and Pittsburgh losing their starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick resurfaced in the NFL world, with players and writers protesting that he should be given a shot. Kaepernick has not played since the 2016 season after kneeling for the national anthem to protest social injustice.
— First Take (@FirstTake) September 17, 2019
Fellow supporter Eric Reid spoke out about the situation.
“It’s purely blackball,” Reid said. “How can there be any misconception about his willingness and readiness to play the game? … To me it’s clear as day. He’s blackballed. I don’t know how you justify it any other way.”
The simple answer is for a team to sign the former San Francisco quarterback. According to ESPN’s Stephan A. Smith, he is willing to contribute as a backup just to make a roster.
A team like the Jets would end this debate quickly. Should the team sign Kaepernick and he underperforms, it will show that he could no longer be a starting-caliber player in the NFL. Should he exceed expectations, it’s proof that he’s been kept away for his social awareness and outspokenness.
For now, it is hard to imagine any reason on the field why Kaepernick should not get a tryout. At the same time, the NFL is a business, and teams have the right to say they do not want his services.
Teams with healthy quarterbacks should not give him a shot. Teams with quarterback troubles such as Pittsburgh, New York, New Orleans, and potentially Carolina should at least listen.
What’s really the harm in a tryout?
Cole Thompson is the Lead NFL writer for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter at @MrColeThompson.