Now that the NFL Draft has come and gone, and most of the big names on the free agent market have found homes, the most intense parts of the NFL offseason are probably over. But there’s still two months until training camps open in late July, and a handful of star players who are in murky situations with their current teams. Here are four players who could still be playing somewhere else next season and throw the NFL odds world into complete disarray.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Early in the offseason, Watson’s trade demand in Houston was the biggest news in the NFL. Young franchise quarterbacks as productive as Watson has been early in his career are the most precious commodity in football, and any number of teams would consider giving up a huge amount of assets to get him.
But Watson’s offseason took an ugly turn when he was accused by numerous women of sexual harassment and misconduct. The pending legal ramifications of those accusations are a long way from being sorted out and have understandably become the primary focus when it comes to Watson.
That doesn’t mean that teams may not still try to pry him away from Houston, though. Two teams – the Washington Football Team and the Miami Dolphins – are nearly ready-made Super Bowl contenders with their defenses. Washington is relying on veteran stopgap Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback while the Dolphins have second-year player Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa was very recently an elite prospect, but his struggles last season as a rookie have tarnished that projected ceiling a bit.
The best bet for Houston, still, is holding onto Watson since he’s under contract. But if a team is still willing to make a big offer and the Texans would rather not deal with his legal issues, a trade could still happen.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers reportedly asked for a trade just before the draft. There were also reports that he wouldn’t mend things with the Packers unless general manager Brian Gutekunst was fired. Rodgers also reportedly referred to Gutekunst as “Jerry Krause,” the former Chicago Bulls general manager who was a constant target of Michael Jordan.
Rodgers was rumored to nearly be on his way to the Denver Broncos during the draft, but the trade didn’t come together as expected. There are still rumors that Denver is in hot pursuit of Rodgers, even with a steep asking price. Rodgers and Broncos president of football operations John Elway reportedly golfing on the same course together recently has added even more intensity to those rumors.
Washington is also reportedly still in the mix if the Packers trade Rodgers. It looks doubtful a reconciliation with the Packers is possible, especially considering Rodgers reportedly told free agents that he probably wouldn’t be in Green Bay in 2021. Denver seems to be his preferred destination, but Washington and potentially a dark horse candidate might emerge with even better offers.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Jones is a sure future Hall of Famer and one of the best wide receivers of his generation, which has featured some all-time great ones. But the Falcons have a new coaching staff and front office and seem to be trying to rebuild rather than contend.
Atlanta’s front office has admitted they’re taking calls on Jones because of their salary cap situation. The New England Patriots are rumored to be interested (and Jones is also interested in that scenario), as are the Packers as a way to appease Rodgers and perhaps convince him to stay.
Jones only played in nine games last season, but still caught 51 passes for 771 yards and three touchdowns. The season prior, he caught 99 passes in 15 games and he’s caught 83 or more passes in six of the last seven seasons.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles appear to be giving second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts every opportunity to win the starting quarterback job and prove he’s the team’s future at the position next season. They got him one big weapon in the draft with Alabama’s DeVonta Smith, but they are at an impasse right now with another important one.
Tight end Zach Ertz has long been a reliable part of the team’s passing attack, but they seem ready to move on and hand over the starting job to Dallas Goedert. Ertz is in the last year of his contract and is expecting to be traded, although that is yet to happen. Ertz is not participating in the team’s offseason workouts as of yet.
Ertz was injured much of last season and only caught 36 passes, tying his career-low from his rookie season. Ertz is 30 and his salary and injury history might make him hard to trade, but if he is healthy, he could help any number of contending teams. The Buffalo Bills were once rumored to be a candidate to get him.
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