Football is back! On Thursday, we were able to wet our palates a little as the first preseason game, the Hall-of-Fame Game, saw the Las Vegas Raiders take down the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-11.
While we are still about a month away from Week 1’s start on September 8th, it is a great sign that football is just around the corner. With so much excitement for the upcoming season, let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories around the league.
Watson Suspension Handed Down, NFL Appealing
In what has seemed like a never-ending story, the suspension for Deshaun Watson has finally been delivered. Decided by judge Sue L. Robinson, an independent arbitrator, Watson has been suspended for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy without any forfeiture of salary.
Unhappy with the decision, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com first reported that the NFL is appealing the ruling. While commissioner Roger Goodell technically could have been the one overseeing the appeal, the league announced that it will instead be former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey.
Reports indicate that the NFL would like to see the suspension be longer, likely for at least a year, or for there to be substantive fines associated with the suspension.
Of course, when the Browns gave him an extension after trading for the quarterback, it was designed in a way where the first year was only worth approximately $1 million, with the contract heavily backloaded.
By doing so, it reduced the possibility of Watson losing a substantial part of his salary as there was anticipation he would face a suspension.
The 26-year-old Watson has not been in an NFL game since 2020 when he threw for 4,823 yards and 33 touchdowns over 16 games for the Houston Texans.
As it stands now, Jacoby Brissett will likely start under center for Cleveland until Watson is able to return from suspension. The Browns are +300 to win the AFC North and +2400 to win the Super Bowl.
Deebo Finally Gets His Deal
One of the biggest wide receivers in the game has finally received his contract extension as the San Francisco 49ers and Deebo Samuel have agreed on a new contract. Deebo will earn just under $72 million over three years as part of this extension.
While he is not the top-paid wide receiver in the game, this contract puts him in the top 10 in terms of his annual average salary at just under $24 million per year.
Last season, the 26-year-old Samuel had 77 receptions for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns. He also rushed 59 times for 365 yards and another eight scores.
Samuel has proven himself as a threat anytime he has the ball in his hands and a major weapon for the 49ers’ offense.
San Francisco currently has the second-best odds of winning the NFC West at +200, and they are tied for the sixth-best odds of winning the Super Bowl at +1600.
Johnson’s Stay In Pittsburgh Gets Extended
Deebo wasn’t the only wide receiver to recently get extended. The Pittsburgh Steelers and wide receiver Diontae Johnson recently agreed to a two-year extension that will pay him just under $37 million.
First reported by Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the 26-year-old Johnson will now be in black and yellow through 2024. Of the almost $37 million contract, $27 million of it is guaranteed for the fourth-year pro.
Last season, in 16 games, Johnson had 107 receptions for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns (both career highs). He also rushed five times for 53 yards.
At +950, the Steelers currently have the worst odds of winning a loaded AFC North. They are +7000 to win Super Bowl LVII.