We’re less than two weeks removed from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning Super Bowl LV and there has been no shortage of headlines and off-season intrigue.
Thursday saw the Indianapolis Colts acquire Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles as the NFL’s QB carousel continues to unfold. With one month until NFL free agency opens, there’s bound to other big names on the move as well.
With that in mind, here are a handful of the latest rumours from around the league.
Mutual interest between Watt and Bills?
It’s little surprise J.J. Watt and his representation have been receiving plenty of calls after the future Hall of Famer cut ties with the Houston Texans last week. At least one of those teams is from the AFC East as ESPN’s Kimberley A. Martin reported, “the Bills have inquired about Watt -- and the interest is definitely mutual.”
According to Buffalo News, Watt’s main criteria for what he’s looking for is that his new team be a Super Bowl contender with a top QB. The Bills would fit under those circumstances since Josh Allen finished second in MVP voting and led his team to an AFC championship appearance.
Buffalo was one of eight teams we mentioned could be fits for Watt in 2021. Cleveland was another and earlier this week it was reported Watt was “seriously considering” the Browns as one of his options.
Are Panthers a dark horse contender to land Watson?
It’ll be interesting to monitor the Deshaun Watson situation in Houston. We’ve seen a number of starting QBs traded already this off-season but Watson would be the biggest name to move should the Texans find a suitable partner.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports wrote this of the Panthers possibly pursuing the three-time Pro Bowler: “Carolina is beyond smitten with Watson and owner David Tepper is fairly consumed by the prospect of landing him and no matter what happens with this transcendent young quarterback (and I still believe he is dealt at some point), the Panthers are going to play some role in the process. They might not be able to secure him, ultimately, and others clearly possess higher draft capital, but when it comes to Watson, Tepper's aim is true and their desire is real.”
Tepper is reportedly no longer interested in having a game manager type QB under centre and that’s what the team has fielded the past two seasons with Kyle Allen in 2019 and Teddy Bridgewater in 2020. Bridgewater had a 92.1 passer rating this past season but went 4-11 and only threw 15 TD passes in 15 games.
Watson, who went 4-12 last year yet led the NFL in passing yards and had a career-high 112.4 passer rating, would be familiar with the Carolinas and the local fan base after starring three hours down the road at Clemson from 2014-2016.
Broncos also making a push for Watson
The Broncos are in the market for a new starting QB but if they’re going to upgrade from Drew Lock they want to make sure it’s for a top-end pivot. Denver was reportedly not interested in Wentz so names like Watson, or even Russell Wilson, is more what the Broncos seek. Last week it was reported the Broncos were among four or five team Watson’s was interested in listening to.
Arians thinks Godwin, Bucs free agents prefer to stay in Tampa
The defending Super Bowl champions have a handful of star players they risk losing this off-season, including wide receiver Chris Godwin. There’s no doubt Godwin could land a monster offer on the open market but why willingly leave one of the best situations in the NFL?
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians told a Tampa radio station Thursday morning he feels confident his top players like Godwin will want to re-sign, so he can continue playing opposite Mike Evans and catching passes from Tom Brady.
Is Big Ben on his way out of Pittsburgh?
“Ben Roethlisberger did a lot of really good things last year. We anticipate that he could still do some good things going forward.”
That’s what Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday regarding his team’s quarterback. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. The oft-injured 38-year-old expressed his desire to continue playing but Colbert said “we told him quite frankly we have to look at this current situation,” adding, “with Ben's current cap number, some adjustment will have to be made.”
The NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala described Roethlisberger’s contract situation as being “much messier” than people may think.
“Hopefully there's a way that we can try to figure out and do what's best for the organization and do what's best for Ben,” Colbert added. “Hopefully he'll be able to see that and feel the same way we do.”