Facebook Pixel

    NFL News and Rumors: Texans, Brian Burns, Austin Ekeler Trade Request, and More

    NFL news and rumors are moving at a million miles per hour as we inch closer to Thursday. What will the Texans do, and will the Chargers draft an RB?

    We’re on the precipice of the 2023 NFL Draft, and it’s shaping up to be one of the more anxiety-producing drafts in recent history. The class is somewhat down as a whole at the top, which could create a ripple effect that nobody in the mock draft world can account for. NFL news and rumors, as one could imagine, are running rampant.

    NFL News and Rumors

    A mere week ago, the draft started at No. 3. Fast forward a few days, and nobody seems to have the foggiest idea what the Houston Texans will do with the second pick. The Austin Ekeler trade request doesn’t move the needle for Tom Telesco. And Brian Burns will be on the mend for a while.

    Panthers Know Who They’ll Pick at No. 1

    With just two days until this year’s NFL Draft gets underway, the Carolina Panthers have made a decision on who they’ll take with the No. 1 overall pick.

    General manager Scott Fitterer said last week that not only had Carolina not decided on a quarterback, but admitted he hadn’t even asked for head coach Frank Reich’s opinion, primarily because he wanted the Panthers’ decision-makers to keep an open mind.

    MORE: 100% FREE NFL Mock Draft Simulator

    Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Reich said Fitterer came into his office on Monday and asked him about his preferred quarterback.

    “It was kind of like a proposal,” Reich said, per NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe. “And I said yes. We have a consensus, and we are excited.”

    A strange set of rumors and betting odds changes briefly made Will Levis look like a contender for the No. 1 overall pick, but it still appears as though Bryce Young will be the Panthers’ choice. The NFL may ask Carolina to keep its pick to itself in order to generate added drama in advance of Thursday night.

    Patriots Have ‘Real Interest’ in Will Levis

    Even if Levis doesn’t shock the NFL world by coming off the board at No. 1, he’s expected to be drafted relatively early in Round 1. The Patriots could be a prime landing spot, as Mike Giardi indicates New England has “real interest” in Levis.

    “Not universally, but there are important folks in that building that believe in the talent,” Girardi tweeted on Tuesday. “What I’ve heard about his visit from other stops… he hasn’t blown anyone away.

    “That dovetails with something I was told by a couple scouts that were around the Kentucky program this year. It’s not that he’s an unlikable kid, but players didn’t gravitate to him either. Can that leadership quality/it factor be learned? The physical talents are undeniable.”

    While the Patriots are hoping for a bounce-back season from Mac Jones after replacing Matt Patricia with new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, there seems to be an undeniable rift between Jones and Bill Belichick, who has refused to commit to the Alabama product as his starting quarterback. If New England has a chance to start over under center, they might take it.

    Hendon Hooker Says He’ll Be Ready for the 2023 Season

    Although Hendon Hooker tore his ACL in late November, the Tennessee quarterback tells Jeff Howe of The Athletic that he’ll “get cleared 100% by Sept. 1.”

    “I’m able to throw routes on air and stuff,” Hooker said this week. “I’ll just be a non-active at first in terms of real competition. I’m just going to continue to heal, take it day by day.”

    Hooker is the fifth-rated quarterback on both PFN’s internal big board and the Industry Consensus Board. However, PFN’s Tony Pauline recently reported that the Raiders have Hooker as the draft’s QB3, and they might not be the only team that feels that way.

    Las Vegas is unlikely to use the seventh overall pick on Hooker, but they could consider him near the top of Round 2. But if Hooker’s health is progressing the way he says it is, he might be gone by the time Vegas is on the clock on Day 2. Teams will be interested in securing a fifth-year option on Hooker, and they’ll only get that benefit by selecting him in Round 1.

    Will Aaron Rodgers Play Past 2023?

    Aaron Rodgers is finally a New York Jet — but for how long? The 39-year-old admitted that he was “90%” retired earlier this offseason before deciding to continue his NFL career, and there’s nothing stopping him from retiring after the 2023 campaign.

    Jets general manager Joe Douglas refused to comment on Rodgers’ longevity on Tuesday, indicating he didn’t want to put words in his new quarterback’s mouth, per Connor Hughes of The Athletic. Of course, Rodgers would be walking away from tens of millions of dollars by hanging up his cleats, but that might not matter all that much for a player who’s already earned more than $300 million in his NFL career.

    Rodgers is expected to rework his contract as part of Monday’s trade, and those details could provide clues about his future intent. He’ll address the media once the trade is officially completed and will presumably offer some indications regarding his long-term plans.

    The Curious Case of the Houston Texans

    As the odds shifted from C.J. Stroud as a slight favorite to Young being a heavy favorite to be the first pick in the NFL Draft, things got weird in Houston.

    First, it was the whispers that they may not be in love with any of the non-Young QBs. The odds also tell us the Texans probably prefer Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson over Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. While that may seem curious on the surface, we must understand that teams look for different things in a player, and they may prefer Wilson’s length and perceived athletic upside over the “safer” Anderson.

    Travon Walker was the first pick a season ago. Nobody should be surprised by this anymore.

    MORE: Will Texans or Colts Draft Levis No. 2 Overall?

    But even Ian Rapoport is flummoxed by the eery silence surrounding the Texans.

    “No one has any idea what the Houston Texans are going to do,” Rapoport said three days before the draft kicks off in Kansas City, Missouri. “Literally, no one except for Nick Caserio and DeMeco Ryans, which has led to rumors all over the place from could the Texans not take a quarterback? Could they just take the top position player, whether Will Anderson or Tyree Wilson? If it’s not  C.J. Stroud, is it another quarterback? Nobody knows, and this really, to me, is the biggest pivot point we’ve seen in years for the draft.”

    Would Houston consider trading back? If they were, where exactly would they go? Would they trade with an intra-divisional rival such as Indianapolis or Tennessee if they were to pick up the phone and ask Caserio?

    The NFL Draft Broadcast Has Changed Its Stripes… For the Better

    Over the years, ESPN has often used tragedy to highlight the triumph of NFL Draft prospects making it to the sport’s pinnacle. It was tragedy porn, and the viewers and players had enough of it by the time the 2020 NFL Draft rolled around.

    After spotlighting personal heartbreak for many of the league’s top draftees, they realized they needed to change their approach while still finding a way to highlight some of the hardships players have overcome.

    “We still think that’s a big deal, to acknowledge the obstacles they’ve had to overcome in their journey to the NFL,” said Seth Markman, who has led ESPN’s draft coverage for 11 years, and who apologized to Tee Higgins in 2020.

    “But what we realized that year is that we can probably do a little better job balancing and making sure that not every story is about those obstacles and those backgrounds. Not everybody has to be a kind of a clichéd bit of storytelling, if you will, and I think that year it was.”

    Austin Ekeler Doesn’t Change the Chargers’ Plans

    Over a month ago, Ekeler requested permission to seek a trade from the Los Angeles Chargers due to a contract dispute. The running back position has been incredibly devalued over the years. Still, Ekeler’s contract is incredibly lopsided compared to his veteran peers, particularly because of how he’s used within the Chargers’ offense as a pass catcher.

    The Chargers’ RB room isn’t necessarily strong behind Ekeler, although GM Tom Telesco feels a bit differently about it.

    “We had Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree here, then we drafted Isaiah Spiller last year. Isaiah kind of fits in the category of players from previous drafts having to step up and fill needs.

    “Typically, like in this year’s draft, not a lot of these guys are going to come in and fill a need. When you look at the draft, when you draft players in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth round, people think that they are going to come in and immediately fill a need. You hope that they come in and earn a role.”

    MORE: Chargers Grab WR in Miller’s Latest Mock Draft

    But while Ekeler’s contract situation may not change anything, that could simply be because the team already plans on addressing the position at some point in the draft. The Chargers have three top-100 picks, and the 2023 RB class is talented and deep.

    Brian Burns Undergoes Ankle Surgery

    After tests revealed a small fracture in Brian Burns’ ankle last week, the Panthers’ pass rusher visited Dr. Robert Anderson to have a minor procedure done on the ailing ankle. Burns is expected to be back by the time camp rolls around in August.

    Burns is on the final year of his rookie deal and should be looking for a hefty payday if he can replicate or improve upon the season he had in 2022, where he posted a career-high 12.5 sacks while ranking ninth in total pressures with 68.

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

    Related Articles