NFL News and Rumors Mailbag: Is Jerry Jones playing a dangerous game with Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy?

This week's news and rumors mailbag features questions about the Cowboys, Panthers, and Lions as NFL teams take part in training camps.

NFL training camps are underway, and naturally, NFL fans have questions about their favorite teams. That’s why Pro Football Network opens up the NFL news and rumors Mailbag every Friday to answer your questions from social media and our new Discord channels.

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NFL News and Rumors Mailbag: Cowboys, Lions, and more

How could Jerry Jones’ flirting with other head coach options affect the Cowboys’ locker room?

This week, during a pre-training camp press conference, Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones tried to give head coach Mike McCarthy a public vote of confidence with an interesting quote that largely backfired. Jones tried to instill confidence in McCarthy by saying he had “other choices” for the job but stuck with the former Green Bay Packers head coach.

Jones essentially acted like your buddy at the bar when he tells you that he was open to buying top-shelf scotch but stuck with his domestic beer because he’s comfortable with it. McCarthy is 18-15 during his two years in Dallas (actually Arlington), and he has largely been an underwhelming hire — all things considered.

Jones has been tied to former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton for years. There’s also been plenty of talk of McCarthy’s defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the former Atlanta Falcons head coach, eventually replacing him. That’s why Jones has had to constantly address this situation, as McCarthy basically just shrugs and quietly mutters, “fake news.”

The Cowboys gig is coveted, even with Jones running the shop, so it’s understandable why it’d be a constant talking point, but the owner is playing a dangerous game here.

Publicly, while Jones has tried to illustrate his confidence in McCarthy through oddly worded decrees, the sense from everyone outside of the organization has been similar to Ron Burgundy saying, “I don’t believe you.”

Jones is biding his time, and it might bite him. He’s sort of doomed if he does and doomed if he doesn’t let go of McCarthy because the outside skepticism will eventually reach the locker room. Honestly, it wouldn’t be surprising if it hasn’t already.

How is anyone supposed to buy into McCarthy with rumors of better options swirling around the NFL world? So, basically, McCarthy has to overcome his shortcomings and rumors to even have a shot at a fourth year in Big D. That’s a pretty unenviable situation for a head coach, despite having several talented players in their prime. Those top-tier players might be harder to control as the rumors get louder during a potential losing streak.

How will the Detroit Lions’ WR depth chart shake out?

The Lions are low-key interesting at wideout. The team predictably put first-round pick Jameson Williams on the non-football injury list this week due to his college ACL tear. If Williams stays on the list entering Week 1, he will miss roughly a month of the season, at minimum.

So, for this exercise, let’s eliminate Williams from the conversation. With Williams no longer a factor in the Week 1 depth chart, DJ Chark, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Josh Reynolds are the top three wideouts. Chark and Reynolds would probably handle the outside duties, while St. Brown owns the slot. From there, the Lions are likely to keep two or three more receivers.

Trinity Benson, Quintez Cephus, Kalil Pimpleton, Tom Kennedy, Josh Johnson, Corey Sutton, and Kalif Raymond will battle for the deep-depth jobs.

Raymond feels like the safest bet to stick after he started 14 games for the team last year. Sure, the Lions are better at the position, but Raymond has the experience, knows the offense, and made the occasional play last year.

Cephus is the other name to watch. He’s had a relatively solid two years with the Lions as a 2020 fifth-round pick. While the current regime inherited him, they utilized him well as a depth option last season. If the Lions go with five wide receivers, Chark, St. Brown, Reynolds, Raymond, and Cephus would be the best collection on paper.

Who will be the Carolina Panthers’ starting QB in Week 1?

If Baker Mayfield isn’t the starting QB for the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, the organization has a legitimate problem.

The Panthers traded virtually nothing for Mayfield. But he’s still easily the best option of the bunch, which includes Sam Darnold, PJ Walker, and third-round rookie Matt Corral.

While the organization has said it won’t move on from Darnold, it’s hard to be convinced that he is a viable option with how everything has played out in his NFL career. Mayfield had a rough end in Cleveland, but he’s still a top-25 QB, at worst, and the same can’t be said about Darnold, who is an inarguable bust.

The organization seemingly likes Corral, but he’s entering the league as a project. In a QB class where everyone will probably need time to adjust to the NFL, Corral might not see the field for a season or two. So, Mayfield needs to be the guy.

Obviously, Matt Rhule loves his former Temple QB in Walker, but Carolina fans have seen enough to accept that he isn’t a viable option. Again, Mayfield NEEDS to be the guy.

Mike Kaye is the Lead NFL Reporter for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter: @mike_e_kaye.

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