It’s not too early to start talking about football because it’s never too early to talk about football. The NFL preseason, or the shell of it, is here and the regular season is just a little over four weeks away. It’s time to start warming up for the tailgate parties, the daily Sunday afternoons screaming at far-sided referees and the overall sense of euphoria that generally accompanies this time of year. After being forced to withdraw into our cocoons last season because of COVID-19, it’s time to make up for lost ground.
The Saints Get a New Home
The New Orleans Saints are no longer playing their home games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. That came to an end when the auto manufacturer decided ten years was long enough and ended its naming rights contract last season. There had been rumors about who might be stepping in to fill the void and the rumors have now been confirmed. Pending final approval by lawmakers as they consider the Louisiana budget, the Saints will now play in the Caesars Superdome. Caesars Entertainment will reportedly keep its name on the facility for the next 20 years in exchange for $120 million, and it’s highly likely that a branded sportsbook is in the stadium’s future.
It would be nice if the Saints could welcome the new stadium sponsor with a successful year, but that might now be more difficult. Michael Thomas is down for about four months after having gone under the knife in June. The star wide receiver would have been a huge help to the offense, especially as the battle between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston wages on. Head coach Sean Payton is reportedly leaning more toward Hill, but he has also been known to throw curve balls when making player announcements.
Deshaun Watson Still Looking for New Home
Deshaun Watson has made it clear that he no longer wants to be a part of the Houston Texans squad. The quarterback is so adamant about leaving that he threatened to not show up for practice in protest of not being traded, but that turned out to be a bluff. He showed by for training camp this past weekend, presumably to keep the money rolling in from his contract, but still wants out. Houston didn’t want to let him go before, but are now reportedly considering it, as long as a team is willing to pay. Some reports indicate that Watson is worth at least three draft picks “and more” to the Texans, while other sources indicate at least five “high-round” draft picks and “starting-caliber” players. Of course, the fact that he’s facing 22 sexual assault lawsuits might make Watson an unsavory target for any team.
Chandler Jones is also wanting to be traded, but will likely have an easier time finding a deal. The Arizona Cardinals edge rusher and three-time Pro Bowler is on the last year of a five-year contract worth $82.5 million and is upset that his contract is not likely to be extended. If he can prove he’s healthy, Jones would be a great addition to several teams, including the Indianapolis Colts and the Buffalo Bills. Both could use some help on the defensive side of the ball and, when he was hot, Jones was a powerful force. An injury last season stopped him in his tracks, but he’s probably ready for a return.
Carolina Moves on From Bridgewater
The Carolina Panthers parted ways with Teddy Bridgewater after last season, unhappy with a close-but-no-cigar performance. The quarterback was sent off to the Denver Broncos after having locked up former New York Jets play-caller Sam Darnold, and the Panthers are anxious to see what he can do. Coming from the Jets, the only way is up and Carolina knows that Darnold might need a little time to adjust, but the team is hoping that his strong arm will help him adapt quickly.
If football fans and sportsbooks thought they would be able to quit calling it “The Washington Football Team” before the upcoming season, we were wrong. The former Washington Redskins are said to be closing in on a new name but, in typical Washington fashion, couldn’t expedite the process. Instead of having everything lined up to get the new season started with a bang, the Washington Football Team will reportedly not reveal its new self until next January. However, Warriors has already been discounted. If there’s a bright spot for the team, it’s that Ron Rivera is back at the helm once again and, this time, he’ll be connecting with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.