“My gut feeling – and that’s all it is – is he’d prefer to not play football this year than to play for the Packers.” – King on Aaron Rodgers
“No matter what I tried to do to say, It’s too risky!, all that stuff kind of went away the more I got to know the person.” – 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan to King on selecting QB Trey Lance
“Trevor has the gravitas. I think he could become a true international superstar.” – Jaguars owner Shad Khan to King on Trevor Lawrence
STAMFORD, Conn. – May 3, 2021 – Peter King discusses the news that dominated the 2021 NFL Draft weekend, including rumors about the future of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and the 49ers selecting North Dakota St. quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan and No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, and Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst.
Peacock’s free, exclusive NBC Sports channel has weekday sports talk programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET, which includes extensive NFL coverage from PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms live at 7 a.m. ET, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Peacock Original Brother From Another, with Michael Holley and Michael Smith, at 3 p.m. ET, and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show discusses offseason storylines, and the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast recaps the 2021 NFL Draft.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
King on reports of Rodgers wanting to leave Green Bay: “Rodgers’ discontent, as has been well-documented, is real…I have heard that Rodgers has not demanded the ouster of (general manager Brian) Gutekunst…Regardless, this is more, I believe, about the traditional structure of the Packers, a structure that hasn’t bent much to give influence to players, that hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years.”
Gutekunst to King on if the team’s relationship with Rodgers is irreparable: “No, I don’t think so at all. That’s my opinion and that’s the organization’s opinion. We want Aaron to be our quarterback. We’re pretty resolute with that…We want to leave every avenue open for that to happen.”
Gutekunst to King on reports of Rodgers’ feelings towards him: “You never want to see those things or read those things. He’s never said that to me and he never said that publicly…At the same time, I’m a lifelong scout, and we work all year for these three days. We couldn’t let this distract us from the task at hand.”
King on Rodgers: “It seems impossible to think Rodgers’ enmity for the Packers has come so far, so fast. But remember this about Rodgers: He’s principled. He’s different. If he feels like he’s been wronged, he could stay away regardless of any external pressure, and losing his scheduled $22-million compensation this year wouldn’t bother him nearly enough to change his mind.”
King: “I would expect Rodgers to not participate in any offseason work with the Packers, and to hope the Packers would change their minds about trading him. Denver would still be an option, I think, and maybe Las Vegas…My gut feeling – and that’s all it is – is he’d prefer to not play football this year than to play for the Packers.”
King on the 49ers selecting QB Trey Lance: “The Niners gain nothing by saying who they’d pick – and Shanahan said he and (general manager John) Lynch didn’t know for sure Lance was the guy till April 19, the day of Lance’s second Pro Day practice in North Dakota.”
Shanahan to King on the pre-draft rumors of who they were targeting: “We weren’t going to work to correct that. But to see how much this matters to so many people was just unbelievable. It really taught me a lot about people. And I guess it’s awesome for our league, all the attention.”
Shanahan on why they picked Lance: “It’s so hard for me to give a quick answer…His natural ability to play the quarterback position, just in terms of how he plays in the pocket, how he can go through the progressions, how, when no one’s open, that he gives it a chance, that he recognizes it…I haven’t gotten to the upside of how much better he can get, the more he plays. That’s what made me like him so much right away.”
Shanahan on the process of picking Lance: “That’s what was so cool about the kid, that going through this process after we moved up to where I talked to him so many times, to have him go through the number of tests and stuff that we have them all go through…I can’t tell you how special of a person he is. It has nothing to do with football…That’s what was cool about him through the process at the end. No matter what I tried to do to say, It’s too risky!, all that stuff kind of went away the more I got to know the person.”
King on how Shanahan studied Lance: “After he finished his pass-through of tape study on Lance, he emailed Lynch between 20 and 40 plays of Lance so he could see what Shanahan was seeing, and he told the GM words to this effect: I’m obsessed with the type of stuff we can do with this guy. Shanahan said Lynch couldn’t sleep that night, he was so excited about Lance’s prospects for the offense.”
King: “Once they were sufficiently smitten with Lance, the Niners also knew it was doubtful he’d be available at 12. Lynch spent much of March fact-finding on trades…Could they have made a better deal than the gargantuan price of first-round picks in ’22 and ’23, plus a three next year, to move just nine spots? Could they have waited and done better? Possibly. But there was so much buzz about teams moving up for quarterbacks. They had to be comfortable enough to move knowing they’d now have a month to pick between Lance, (Mac) Jones and Justin Fields.”
King on the Jaguars selecting Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall: “Jacksonville seems a good fit for Lawrence, with veteran pro coaches Darrell Bevell (offensive coordinator) and Brian Schottenheimer (passing game coordinator) the most hands-on coaches with him. They are vets who’ve worked with different style quarterbacks and because they’ve known for some time that Lawrence would be their pick, they’ve been able to feed him lots of information and plays.”
Jaguars owner Shad Khan on Lawrence’s potential stardom overseas: “Trevor has the gravitas. I think he could become a true international superstar.”
Khan on Lawrence: “The player obviously is great, but the person behind the player is what really gives me hope. I can’t believe how normal he is. He’s been the number one quarterback on all levels since he was 14 years old, being catered to at every level. His humility almost surprises me.”
Lawrence to King: “I thought about how cool it’ll be to play in London, but…I try not to think about that too much. My job now especially is to come in and to win games and to get ready to be the best I can be and to make the team as good as we can be. I try not to think about all the other byproducts of it.”
Lawrence: “I need to come in, go to work, and earn the trust and respect of my teammates. There’s obviously so many things that I want to improve on and get better at. But really, I think, there’s not one specific way you need to play quarterback to be successful. It’s just doing what I know that I’m good at and bringing that here and improving on all the things I need to improve on. But as far as my style of play, I’m just going to be me and play the way I’ve always played.”
King on the Falcons staying at No. 4 and choosing TE Kyle Pitts: “Coach Arthur Smith and GM Terry Fontenot (owner Arthur Blank too) had become convinced Matt Ryan could play at least three more years at a productive level. In the days before the draft, Fontenot listened to multiple offers for the fourth pick, but none came close to the mega-package he’d need to move out the slot to take the Florida tight end.”
Smith to King: “They hired the wrong guys if they thought we were going to lower expectations, take our time, and rebuild. That’s just not who we are. The expectation is to win now, build for the future, have plans…With Matt (Ryan), I see a really high-quality starting quarterback who’s thrown for 55,000 yards in this league and had unbelievable experience and is still throwing guys open.”
Pitts to King on being the highest-drafted TE: “It’s a new journey. I don’t pay attention to what’s said. I stay even-keel. It’s not college anymore. I gotta prove myself all over again. Time to grind.”
King on the idea that the Falcons could still trade WR Julio Jones: “Now that the draft is over and Jones is still a Falcon, I don’t believe the prospect of a trade is kaput. Because Atlanta wouldn’t have made a trade official till June 2 so Jones’ dead-cap money could be spread over two years, Fontenot could still trade Jones sometime this summer for a 2022 draft choice.”
King: “I drove away from the Falcons in the wee hours thinking they needed a GM and coach who understand the business of football can be cold sometimes, and it’s not a business to keep heroes a year too long, and who aren’t married to anyone here. That’s what they’ve found in Fontenot and Smith.”
King on the Bears trading up for QB Justin Fields: “I never have understood the criticism of Justin Fields…This was a costly trade by the Bears, giving up next year’s one and four to move up nine spots in the first round. But I loved the trade, and I love this pick…Expect (Andy) Dalton to start early, but not for long. Nagy won’t rush to insert Fields into the starting lineup.”
King on the Texans: “To me, no pick spoke louder than the Texans’ third-rounder. With the first pick in Nick Caserio’s career as a GM, he took Stanford QB Davis Mills…A team this draft-poor, with the needs of an expansion team and no picks in the first two rounds, taking a quarterback with its first pick? Very meaningful.”
King on the Raiders selecting T Alex Leatherwood: “Asked 11 coaches/GMs their biggest surprises in the draft Friday and Saturday. I didn’t limit it to one. But ‘Alex Leatherwood going 17th’ was the winner, far and away. Leatherwood will have his chance to prove everyone wrong.”
King on the Vikings: “I know the Vikings had their usual allotment of 84 picks in this draft, and so maybe you don’t look at picking a quarterback at 66 and think it speaks volumes about the future of the incumbent. But what the selection of Kellen Mond says to me is the Vikings might not be paying premier-QB money much longer to Kirk Cousins.”
King on the Giants: “Bullish on the G-men and the suddenly futuristic GM, Dave Gettleman. Wideout Kadarius Toney at 20 was an okay pick, but pass-rusher Azeez Ojulari, even with health questions, was a value home run at 50. Picking up extra 2022 picks in the first (Chicago), third (Miami) and fourth (Chicago) was really smart, because 2022 is likely to be a better, and certainly deeper, draft.”
King on the Patriots selecting QB Mac Jones: “Think of Tom Brady, and think of what the Patriots value in a quarterback: intelligence, a quick info-processor on the field, accuracy, performs well under pressure. Mac Jones doesn’t have a long history at Alabama (17 starts), but he checks every one of those boxes.”
RB Najee Harris to King after being selected in the first round by the Steelers: “People say you can get running backs after the first round, but you could say that about any position. Tom Brady wasn’t a first-rounder. I think I can be a pound-the-rock back, a back who blocks, a back who catches, a back who can be a scatback. I really think I came to the right team.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays, followed by The Dan Patrick Show 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.
- The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continue the NFL discussion.
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.