NFL Rumors: Aaron Rodgers’ market shrinking, Watson “baits” a friend, and the Chargers comeback kid

Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns, NFL rumors
Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

NFL rumors continue to fly high as Aaron Rodgers’ market appears to be shrinking, Deshaun Watson lures over a friend, and a former Chargers quarterback mounts a comeback.

Welcome to the world of NFL rumors, where everything is speculation and almost nothing can be believed. Case in point: prior to Derek Carr signing with the New Orleans Saints, several NFL media outlets suggested the New York Jets to be Carr’s most favored destination.

As the league awaited a bombshell graphic from Ian Rapoport or a four-line breaking news snippet from Adam Schefter regarding a Carr-Jets deal, the former Raiders quarterback turned around and went to NOLA.

Carr landing with the Saints was likely surprising to everyone but Carr and the Saints, the only ones with actual inside information on the situation. Now, this is not meant to be an Aaron Rodgers-esque rant on the NFL media. They deserve the credit — just take their words with mouthfuls of salt.

So, what fanciful new rumors does the NFL have for us today? Let’s take a look at three of the most intriguing soon-to-be stories.

NFL rumors: Deshaun Watson makes a new friend in Bengals’ Jessie Bates

Usually when a formerly alleged sexual predator “makes a friend,” it’s not a good sign. In this case, the situation is entirely football-dependent. Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has apparently impressed Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates so much that Bates “would love” to play with Watson in the future.

The two hail from AFC North rival teams, making their unlikely friendship all that more unlikely, yet something Watson did or said (again, on the football field) clearly left an impact on Bates.

Bates, the Bengals’ second-round pick in 2018, is not expected to receive the franchise tag this year and will be on the prowl for a new team. When Cincinnati franchise-tagged him last season, Bates did not respond well, refusing to participate in offseason activities and waiting to sign his tender until late August.

With the Bengals seemingly ready to part ways with Bates in 2023, the star safety could make a neighboring move to Cleveland, albeit there are some financial obstacles in place.

Bates’ market value is $14 million a year according to Spotrac, and Bates himself has reiterated that he wants to get paid as a top-of-the-line premier safety. The Browns could go after Bates as a replacement for John Johnson III, who is set to be released in free agency, and Bates’ talent and playmaking abilities would no doubt elevate Cleveland’s pass defense.

Yet as one of the biggest impending free agents this offseason, Bates may start a bidding war for his services, making his inflated price difficult to swallow even for a franchise that sold its soul for Watson.

The other concern here is more in principle: Why would Bates want to play with Watson when he has one of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Joe Burrow? Thinking Watson is better than Burrow is just delusional. Come on, Bates. Don’t be that meme.