Best of Wednesday at NFL training camps: A big day for QBs, plus other contract news


Welcome to 2023 NFL training camp. All 32 teams will be in action this week as they begin to prepare for the NFL regular season — which is just six short weeks away. We will have daily updates every day of camp to keep you informed on the latest news and coolest videos.

Wednesday featured major contract news across the league, again from New York Giants camp, where left tackle Andrew Thomas signed a record extension, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Houston Texans offensive tackle Tytus Howard inked a three-year, $56 million extension, while Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet inked a four-year, $50 million deal.

Thomas’ teammate, running back Saquon Barkley, reported to the team’s first day of camp after a contract dispute was resolved yesterday. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs also seems to be in a good place after missing one of the team’s two mandatory minicamp practices in June.

More on all of that, plus a new starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, below. Here’s what you need to know from camps across the league:

Top NFL news of the day

Aaron Rodgers agrees to reworked contract with Jets

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has agreed to a reworked contract with the New York Jets, taking a significant pay cut to help out his new team. Rodgers agreed to a two-year, fully guaranteed $75 million contract with the Jets, a source told ESPN, confirming a report by NFL Network. It represents a pay cut of $33.715 million from the $108.715 million he was still owed on the contract he signed with the Packers in 2022.

Colts owner Irsay: Top RBs’ call for reopening deal talks ‘inappropriate’

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay does not seem interested in rethinking the NFL’s approach to handling running backs amid protests by elite players at the position over their contract negotiations. Irsay, in an apparent reply to suggestions that the NFL should reshape its approach to franchise tags — which has slot running backs at the low end of the pay scale — said owners should consider no such thing.

Joe Burrow not rushing Bengals deal

A day after fellow quarterback Justin Herbert agreed to terms on a record-breaking contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, Joe Burrow said the development won’t influence his own negotiations. Every quarterback who was in major contract discussions with their respective teams have agreed to terms on a new deal, leaving Burrow as the last one looking for a long-term extension.

Ezekiel Elliott wishes Tony Pollard, Cowboys RBs ‘good luck’ via text

Before Wednesday’s first practice of training camp, Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard received a text from his former teammate, Ezekiel Elliott, the man he is replacing as the Cowboys’ lead running back in 2023. Elliott remains a free agent as training camps begin, although he has been working out the entire offseason, either with former teammates at Dak Prescott‘s backyard field or his personal running backs coach, Josh Hicks.

Stefon Diggs clears the air: ‘Only focus is winning’

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs sat down for his first news conference since the 2022 regular season and cleared the air on Wednesday, calling the issues and conversations that led to his absence from one mandatory minicamp practice last month a “family matter” and said it was all “water under the bridge.”

GM Joe Schoen on Saquon Barkley talks: No hard feelings

The hard negotiations with Saquon Barkley have not left hard feelings — at least on the New York Giants‘ end. Barkley was on the field Wednesday for the first practice of training camp — and he didn’t miss a beat. He was instantly thrust into the first-team offense and looked explosive and nimble.

Frank Reich says top pick Bryce Young is starting QB

Rookie quarterback Bryce Young was moved to first team late during the Carolina Panthers‘ offseason workouts to show what he could do, but on Wednesday coach Frank Reich took it a step further and called the top pick of the 2023 draft his starter.

Jimmy Garoppolo excited after first day of practice

Jimmy Garoppolo said his first practice with the Las Vegas Raiders had a certain first-day-of-school feel to it, especially since it was the quarterback’s first time on a practice field with his new teammates since suffering a season-ending foot injury Dec. 4.

Jordan Love heeding Aaron Rodgers’ advice

Jordan Love was happy to see Aaron Rodgers‘ name pop up on his phone on Tuesday night. Rodgers had a message for Love on the eve of his first training camp practice as the Green Bay Packers new starting quarterback. The message, according to Love, was this: “Just be yourself. Have fun. Enjoy it.”

Owner: Sean Payton vows to ‘raise the bar’

The Denver Broncos had their first full team workout of training camp Wednesday and team owner/CEO Greg Penner made his feelings clear about what coach Sean Payton has brought to the team since he was named head coach Feb. 3. “I think it’s great that he’s got strong convictions and views from years of experience,” Penner said. “… His intentions are right. He started with we’re going to raise the bar and that is what we needed with this team and this organization.”

More:


What our NFL Nation reporters saw today

Dallas Cowboys: Tony Pollard is cleared medically off a high ankle sprain suffered in the January playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, but the Cowboys will be cautious with him early in camp. Pollard, who was not part of the running back Zoom call over the weekend, will play this year on the franchise tag. “At this point it is what it is. I signed the tag. I’m here in camp,” he said. “I’m just ready to focus on the main thing, just stick to winning.” He made $3.6 million in his first four years and will make $10.091 million this year. “Yeah, that’s fine with me,” Pollard said. — Todd Archer

Tennessee Titans: Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins took the field for the first time and immediately got to work with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The two worked on a side field with Treylon Burks during special teams period. Tannehill’s first pass in 7-on-7 was to Hopkins. Outside linebacker Harold Landry was on the field for the first time since tearing his right ACL last September. He didn’t wear a brace and took part in all periods of practice. — Turron Davenport

Houston Texans: Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud continues battling in the quarterback competition with Davis Mills. Between four total sessions of 7-on-7 and team drills, Stroud and Mills split the first team reps. Neither stood out as both struggled through the air. Stroud did have a 30-yard throw down the field to Nico Collins. — DJ Bien-Aime

San Francisco 49ers: With Brock Purdy not practicing until Thursday, the 49ers split first-team quarterback reps between Trey Lance and Sam Darnold. Lance got the first crack at the job, taking four snaps in team drills with Darnold then getting four more and Brandon Allen getting two. When Purdy practices — which will be two of every three practices for now — he will get those starting reps. Lance was the more decisive quarterback in this session and it showed in his production. During team drills, Lance went 4-of-5 while Darnold was 2-of-4. Things will speed up soon, but the battle for the job behind Purdy is up for grabs: Give a slight way-too-early edge to Lance. — Nick Wagoner

Buffalo Bills: The Bills have big training camp battles on defense and the team’s first practice offered a look at where things stand. The work is on to replace Tremaine Edmunds in the middle of the defense. Fourth-year linebacker Tyrel Dodson, who started three games last year, played the role in the first-team defense throughout practice. Second-year linebacker Terrel Bernard remains a serious candidate for the job, along with the rest of the room still competing. “We’ve got to let [middle linebacker] play out a little bit here at camp and get into the pads and see who leads the defense the right way,” coach Sean McDermott said, “because that’s also a big piece of that position.” — Alaina Getzenberg

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask alternated first-team reps and coach Todd Bowles said he was pleased with their overall command of Dave Canales’ offense. Bowles will make a decision on a starter during the preseason. — Jenna Laine

New Orleans Saints: Wide receiver Michael Thomas declared last month that he would fully be back by Day 1 of training camp after recovering from a toe injury. He backed that up on Wednesday when he played with the first team in 11-on-11 drills. He was targeted twice. The first pass was broken up, but he easily caught the second. “I think it was good for everybody,” said Saints quarterback Derek Carr. “We took a deep breath and now we can work, we can build off that. It was good to throw him the ball.” — Katherine Terrell

Washington Commanders: Defensive end Chase Young can help take this defense from good to very good if he plays as he did most of his rookie season in 2020. That’s why it was a good sign that he ditched the brace on his surgically-repaired right knee and looked spry off the snap during full-team drills. Though Washington doesn’t yet have pads on, Young applied pressure at times while working vs. the starters. The coaches felt Young had developed bad rush habits — notably too much stutter-stepping. But during minicamp and again Wednesday, Young did not stutter step and his rushes were more effective. It was a good first day for him. — John Keim

Denver Broncos: Coach Sean Payton said he’s glad to have running back Javonte Williams, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 4 last season, back on the field for the start of training camp. The Broncos went through their first full team workout on Wednesday, and Williams worked in individual drills as well as some work in team drills. But given he tore an ACL, LCL and suffered other damage in his right knee on Oct. 2, Payton said Williams will be among a group of players that will have a “planned schedule” as he continues to come back from the injury. Williams continues to say he’s hopeful he will play in the team’s season opener Sept. 10 against the Las Vegas Raiders. — Jeff Legwold


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