“Legends, totally healthy, totally smitten with their profession, don’t stop loving their jobs because history says they can’t be great at 45….A man who loves his job wanted to keep doing it. That’s exactly what happened here.” – King on Tom Brady unretiring
“Absolutely, categorically yes. If I was the Denver GM and the price was higher, I’d have paid it. It’s elementary.” – King on if Denver’s trade for QB Russell Wilson was worth it
“Watson has the upside of a top-five NFL quarterback for the next decade. Some team is going to bet it can withstand the negatives of the next 12 to 18 months and look toward solving a major need with a player it thinks it will love in 2025, 2027, 2029.” – King on teams interested in trading for QB Deshaun Watson
STAMFORD, Conn. – March 14, 2022 – Peter King recaps the past week of NFL offseason moves, including Tom Brady unretiring, Aaron Rodgers returning to Green Bay, and Russell Wilson’s trade to Denver, as NFL free agency gets underway in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also discusses Deshaun Watson’s future, Calvin Ridley’s suspension, and more.
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The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
King on Tom Brady announcing his return from retirement: “Legends, totally healthy, totally smitten with their profession, don’t stop loving their jobs because history says they can’t be great at 45. Don’t complicate this. A man who loves his job wanted to keep doing it. That’s exactly what happened here…Brady unretiring after 40 days as a man of leisure wasn’t a shock to all. There was quiet chatter that Brady was having second thoughts after his Feb. 1 retirement.”
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians’ text to King on Brady’s return: “Always thought there was a chance. Slim, but had fingers crossed the last few weeks.”
King on why Brady unretired: “I think once Brady found out his family backed him doing what he truly wanted to do – play or not play – he figured he had clearance to make the decision he wanted to make. That decision, his good friend and podcast partner Jim Gray told me Sunday night, was rooted in how he feels about football, and how he feels, period.”
Gray to King: “I don’t think Tom wanted to be sitting there, out of the game and watching football in September and thinking, ‘I’m as good as those guys. I can still do this. I still love it.’ … It takes a whole lot to turn off that love of the game. He would not play if he didn’t think he could win the Super Bowl.”
King on the Buccaneers re-signing center Ryan Jensen: “Sunday afternoon, Brady reached out to Jensen. What he said exactly, I don’t know. But it was something like, I’m coming back and I need you and we gotta get your deal done. Maybe Brady said he pushed the Bucs to be sure they got a deal done with Jensen…So Brady calling Jensen, and Brady coming back, did two things: It motivated Jensen to forego the market…and it motivated the Bucs – clearly after Brady telling them he wanted Jensen back – to up the offer to the veteran center to get the deal done Sunday night”
King on Brady’s impact on the NFL schedule: “The NFL schedule just got an infusion of prime-time and doubleheader-window games…Without Brady, Tampa Bay might have been in prime time maybe three times. With Brady, Tampa will max out its prime-time appearances.”
King on the NFL in Germany: “Happiest people, outside of Tampa, might be in Munich. The Bucs, with maybe Kyle Trask playing quarterback, might have been 4-5 by the time they played the first-ever NFL game in Germany in mid-November. But now, with Brady the likely starter, that game will be a mega-event in Europe.”
NFL FREE AGENCY
King: “With the legal tampering window opening, it means that by the time you sit down to dinner, there’s a good chance you’ll know the 2022 teams of many of the best guys on the market – corners J.C. Jackson, Darious Williams and Carlton Davis, linemen Terron Armstead and Brandon Scherff, edge rushers Von Miller and Haason Reddick, safety Quandre Diggs.”
King on the Chargers: “When I met with Chargers coach Brandon Staley at the NFL Scouting Combine, he made it clear his team would be active in team improvements this offseason. That started last week with the re-signing of receiver Mike Williams and the trade for edge rusher Khalil Mack…I think the Chargers’ approach will continue today with an early run at a couple of targets in free agency. One will be Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson.”
King on the Seahawks: “Enough (cap) room, with enough draft capital, to be in play for Deshaun Watson.”
King on the Colts: “Lots of ways for the Colts to go, but I expect GM Chris Ballard will be a player in the edge-rush market. Chandler Jones would be a great fit.”
King on the Steelers: “Still think this is a great spot for Jimmy Garoppolo. May I broker a trade: Garoppolo from Niners to Steelers for a 2023 second-rounder that would become a first if Garoppolo is active for 15 games or more next fall.”
King on the Packers: “Combined Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith cap numbers in 2022: $46.4 million, which is why both are endangered before teams must be at the cap at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on Deshaun Watson: “Talking over the weekend with one team that has some interest in trading for the sidelined Houston quarterback, it was clear that the sordid part of Watson’s story is not over, despite a Texas grand jury deciding Friday not to hand down an indictment of sexual misconduct against Watson. This team was just coming to grips with the fact that, though Watson will not be charged criminally, 22 women have maintained in civil cases that Watson engaged in sexual misconduct during massage-therapy appointments while he was the Texans quarterback.”
King: “Even after the presumed NFL suspension for part of the 2022 season is served by Watson, the teams interested in dealing for him have to consider how much to factor in public reaction in their communities. Enterprising reporters wherever he signs will try to find and interview the women who have accused Watson…Internally, interested teams will ask before making a trade: Is this the franchise cornerstone we want to hold up to our fans and sponsors?”
King on Watson’s no-trade clause: “Would he say okay to a deal to the Eagles, in a very tough town, if they were interested? When Michael Vick signed there after his incarceration for dog-fighting, fans picketed and some never let it go. Or would fans be so in love with Watson’s talent that they’d let the past go? How about the Panthers, surely interested, with the thin ice coach Matt Rhule appears to be on? The no-trade part of the story is a legitimate question.”
King: “Watson has the upside of a top-five NFL quarterback for the next decade. Some team is going to bet it can withstand the negatives of the next 12 to 18 months and look toward solving a major need with a player it thinks it will love in 2025, 2027, 2029.”
King on the Broncos trading for QB Russell Wilson: “Denver GM George Paton was aiming for this trade for a long time – since the day he took the job 14 months ago, I believe. In fact, when he traded former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller to the Rams for second-round and third-round picks last October, he knew he was making a deal to accumulate picks to make the kind of trade he made last Tuesday.”
King on if the Broncos trade for Wilson was worth it: “Absolutely, categorically yes. If I was the Denver GM and the price was higher, I’d have paid it. It’s elementary. Denver has had a league-high 10 starting quarterbacks since Peyton Manning retired six years ago, and the Broncos are in the midst of their worst five-year run as a franchise in a half-century.”
King: “Wilson will be supremely motivated with his new team to prove his first losing season in 2021 is not a harbinger of things to come…As Wilson’s side considered which team it wanted to play for, it considered 14 different teams with scores of factors for each: roster depth, cap condition, trust in GM/coach, development of the quarterback, season-ticket and fan base, everything. Denver finished either at or near the top in that 14-team contest.”
King on the Seahawks: “I’ll always think the drip-drip-drip of an unhappy quarterback factored into this. Although Wilson is a non-confrontational sort, (Seahawks GM John) Schneider was probably never going to pay a quarterback and supposed team leader $50 million a year if he wasn’t all-in with the organization. This gives Schneider, a fearless deal-maker and risk-taker, the ammo (ninth and 40th overall picks this year, an extra first-rounder next year) the ability to be a player in the Deshaun Watson derby if he chooses.”
King on QB Aaron Rodgers returning to the Packers: “So Rodgers is committed to play for the Packers in 2022. Beyond that, we don’t know much. The Packers did everything possible to make Rodgers want to stay…How long is Rodgers committed? Until he or the Packers say, it’s hard to say anything other than Green Bay is the clear, unquestionable favorite in the NFC to win home-field advantage in the 2022 playoffs. Beyond that, this morning, Rodgers’ long-term future is a beautiful mystery.”
King on WR Calvin Ridley’s suspension: “The NFL can now walk into every locker room next summer and say, We’re not kidding around. We’ve got some long tentacles into the sports-gambling industry, and if you do it, you’re gone for a year…I’ve got no problem with the year ban, even though the NFL is far into bed with gambling companies. Anything that casts doubt on the legitimacy of NFL games has to be nipped in the bud.”
King on the NFL and gambling: “My big question is: Is there a way to monitor gambling habits of a player using a pseudonym, or using a relative or friend to bet for him? One NFL official said yes, there is, but we’ll see…Ridley bet using his own name. I can’t see a player making that mistake again. Will a player try to circumvent it another way, particularly with his career on the line? You’d think not.”
King on the Colts after trading QB Carson Wentz: “I don’t see Indianapolis making another stab at a big-money quarterback for the fourth time in five Frank Reich-coached seasons…My gut feeling is the Colts, with their first pick (47th overall) will aim for a Matt Corral type and throw a draftee like that into the training-camp salad with Sam Ehlinger and a veteran bridge player like Teddy Bridgewater. Just a hunch.”
King on Wentz: “A lot has been said about what went wrong. My interpretation: Wentz was bull-headed and harder to coach as a battered sixth-year QB than he was in his great 2017 pre-injury season. He too often took his first read over making a complete view of the coverage, then deciding where to throw…But this is it for Wentz. If he’s not better over the next two years, his next stop will be Backupland. And for a guy who was a month away from a possible MVP just five years ago, that’s a steep fall. I expect he’s smart enough to figure it out, and Washington will be the beneficiary of a player who should be scared straight.”
King on WR Jarvis Landry: “There is no better fit of player to team in the next week than the Cleveland wide receiver to New England. It would take Landry 15 minutes to become one of Bill Belichick’s favorites of recent years. Not sure if Landry will be cut by the Browns or if they can get a low pick for him in trade, but his gritty and no-BS style on and off the field fits the Pats perfectly.”
King on Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott: “I think the $18.2-million cap hit this year for Ezekiel Elliott is proof it’s rarely if ever good business to do a second contract with a “franchise” running back. The vast majority just don’t pan out as being anywhere near worth the money.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Mike Golic (Mondays) and Florio and Chris Simms (Tuesday-Thursday) streams on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays & is available on-demand. The Dan Patrick Show streams at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continues the NFL discussion and Bet The Edge Podcast provides daily betting insights.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.