(AP) — Big 12 presidents and chancellors voted unanimously Wednesday night to accept Colorado as a new member, clearing the way for the school to leave the Pac-12 and rejoin the conference, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Big 12 was not making its expansion plans public with Colorado still needing to go through a formal process on its campus and officially apply for membership. ESPN first reported the vote.

The university’s board of regents has a special meeting scheduled for Thursday with athletics operations on the agenda.

Another person familiar with the Big 12’s expansion aspirations told AP the school and league have been in contact for more than a month about a potential departure from the Pac-12; the person said it was unclear if CU had come to a decision, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Big 12 was not publicly discussing details of potential expansion plans.

Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark has spoken for months about his desire to expand the conference and add schools in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. He did not return an email seeking comment.

The Pac-12 has seemed vulnerable to more poaching after losing USC and UCLA to the Big Ten the longer it takes for it to land a media rights contract to take effect next year. The conference’s current deals with ESPN and Fox expire after this school year.

The Big 12 has not formally announced a new media rights contracts, but last year it came to an agreement with ESPN and Fox on a six-year extension that runs through 2030-31.

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff spoke confidently at football media days last week that the 10 remaining conference members were committed to stay together.

“What we’ve seen is the longer we wait for the media deal, the better our options get,” Kliavkoff said.

Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano told the Denver Post last week he was “eagerly awaiting” more details on the television negotiations.

The Pac-12 held a regularly scheduled board meeting Wednesday with its school presidents and a person familiar with the meeting said DiStefano did not notify his colleagues that Colorado was on the verge of making a decision on conference. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the conference was not speaking publicly about its internal operations.

The Pac-12 officially declined comment. Text messages to Kliavkoff and Colorado athletic director Rick George were not immediately returned.

Colorado was an original member of the Big 12 in 1996, and joined the Pac-12 in 2011. The Buffaloes’ football team has had only one winning record over a full season since joining the Pac-12, and went 1-11 last year – leading to the hiring of former NFL star Deion Sanders.

The person familiar with the Big 12’s discussions said the conference would ideally like to expand to 16 schools with Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado all coming over from the Pac-12 to create a Western wing of the league.

The Big 12 has 14 members this year, but Texas and Oklahoma are leaving for the Southeastern Conference next year.

Big 12 leadership has also discussed the possibility of trying to add UConn, which won the men’s NCAA basketball tournament earlier this year, and Gonzaga, a basketball powerhouse which does not have a football team, the person said.

The Big 12 has been the strongest men’s basketball conference in the country over the last few seasons, and Yormark has said he feels the sport could be a source of untapped value in future media rights deals.


Alabama is in a similar boat to several other powerhouse programs as the Crimson Tide approach August without a definitive answer at starting quarterback.

However, the Tide’s situation is even a bit murkier with a trio of potential signal-callers in the picture for the team’s season opener against Middle Tennessee.

Ty Simpson is the current +150 favorite by to be under center for that Sept. 2 game. That’s slightly ahead of Tyler Buchner (+140) and Jalen Milroe (+300).

The trio are competing to replace Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and was named the Carolina Panthers’ starting quarterback on Wednesday.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said this week that none of his 2023 quarterback options created separation in the spring and so, as with “Grandma Saban’s best cake in the world,” the plan is to “not rush it.”

“She’d say, ‘If I take it out of the oven too soon, it’s gonna turn to mush.’ We have to make sure we let the cake bake,” Saban said.

That oven could continue to be set to bake beyond the season opener, with Alabama set for a showdown against the Texas Longhorns in Week 2.

Alabama also has new coordinators following the exit of Bill O’Brien on offense, but Kevin Steele returned to fill the void at defensive coordinator for his third stint on Saban’s staff.

Tommy Rees has the dual role of coordinator and quarterbacks coach and drew raves from Saban. Rees was offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, where he played quarterback, for current LSU coach Brian Kelly.

“Tommy Rees is one of the brightest young minds I’ve seen in a long time in this business,” Saban said.

Buchner began his career under Rees at Notre Dame, so the two have more familiarity. Meanwhile, Milroe has the edge in on-field experience, having completed 31 of 53 passes for 297 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions last season.

Simpson saw only limited snaps in 2022, completing 4 of 5 passes for 35 yards in appearance in three blowout wins. However, many analysts are expecting the redshirt freshman to emerge as the Tide’s starter.

Simpson named the Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year after throwing for 2,827 yards and 41 touchdowns and leading his Westview team to the Class 2A state title as a senior.

Alabama will actually have five scholarship quarterbacks on its roster this season, including Eli Holstein and Dylan Lonergan.

While there are also quarterback competitions at SEC rivals Georgia and Auburn, oddsmakers believer there are clear frontrunners at both.

Carson Beck is the heavy -700 favorite by the book to start Week 1 for Georgia over Brock Vandagriff (+400); while Payton Thorne is the -200 favorite to start the season for Auburn ahead of Robby Ashford (+150).


Gambling falls outside the interests of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, a topic he is getting up to speed on as the Hawkeyes begin the 2023 season.

At least 26 University of Iowa athletes across five sports are suspected of wagering on sports in violation of NCAA rules, the school confirmed in May. How many of them are part of the football program isn’t known.

Defensive tackle Noah Shannon was not alongside Ferentz as originally planned on Wednesday at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis because of an ongoing NCAA investigation into Iowa players in multiple sports allegedly betting on game. Ferentz said “it’s not a large number of players, period,” when asked how his roster might be impacted by any ruling on the matter from the NCAA and called on the governing body of college athletics to take a closer look at the intersection of sports and gambling.

“Long story short, we don’t know what the outcome is going to be,” Ferentz said. “I don’t think anyone condones gambling, especially on the college game. I do think that being said, I have learned a lot the past two months just about gambling. I never really paid attention to it, other than we signed a form, probably the same form we signed when I was playing.”

Athletes, coaches and staff are prohibited from betting on any amateur, collegiate and professional sport in which the NCAA conducts a championship.

That means even NBA, NFL, MLB and PGA-related betting would be among pro sports wagering options that, while legal in many states, would be off-limits for college athletes, coaches and administrators.

It is also illegal in Iowa for a person under 21 to bet on sports.

“I think our world has changed dramatically,” Ferentz said. “Anybody who does pay attention to gambling knows that better than I — certainly the last couple of years. We live in a real different world right now. I think what the NFL’s done with their rules makes a lot of sense. I’m hopeful this is an opportunity with the NCAA to maybe reconsider two things: what the, quote-unquote, punishments or penalties might be that are … I would say, fair and relevant to the world we’re living in right now. And then probably the bigger thing is there’s an opportunity right now, I think, for better education process, if you will.”

Ferentz said he is not among viewers of ESPN’s popular pregame show “College GameDay,” but one of his sons informed him the college football kickoff show discusses betting lines and point spreads before games. Ferentz pointed this out Wednesday as an “illustration of the world we’re living in right now. It’s not going away. It’s going to continue to grow.”

In his 25th season as Iowa head coach, Ferentz equated his role in educating athletes about gambling to the same approach he might have with marijuana-use policies.

“Gambling is going to exist. It always has,” Ferentz said. “I hope eventually the policies will reflect what’s best for college athletics. Certainly not betting on college athletics would be a good starting point.”

Shannon, a fifth-year senior, started 27 games over the past two seasons and is on the radar of NFL scouts after being named honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2021 and 2022.


David Braun is still coming to terms with the events and circumstances that made him Northwestern’s interim head coach.

“I never could have imagined, nor did I desire, to become a head coach under these types of circumstances. That said, I’m honored to lead this group moving forward,” Braun said at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

Braun was hired as offensive coordinator in January and elevated when Northwestern fired Pat Fitzgerald in response to hazing and assault allegations made by former players. The pattern of alleged incidents prompted lawsuits and the university launched a new follow-up investigation due to the seriousness and sensitivity of multiple claims.

Braun said he met with every player one-on-one and plans to remain attentive and available for direct conversations with each player. He shared with the team the circumstances that made him a coach isn’t a “dream-like scenario” but encouraged what he considers a galvanized group to dig in and fight for each other.

He said the team is still facing “adversity” but sidestepped questions related to hazing within the program.

“When Coach Fitz offered our family the opportunity to come to Northwestern back in January, and I started work on January 16 of this year, my wife and I had to pinch ourselves,” Braun said. “An opportunity to coordinate in the Big Ten, to work for a man like Coach Fitz, to be close to my family in Wisconsin, to be a part of the Big Ten, and the opportunity to mentor young men that value what Northwestern stands for — a world-class education competing on the biggest stage in college football. This, obviously, has been a very difficult time for our team, our staff, our current and former players impacted, our alumni, the university and the broader Northwestern community.”

Players were dismissed from any media responsibilities on Wednesday. Typically, three players accompany each coach for Big Ten media interviews but linebacker Bryce Gallagher, defensive back Rod Heard II and wide receiver Bryce Kirtz, released a joint statement to announce they made the decision not to attend Big Ten Media Day after talking to Braun and their families.

Four lawsuits have been filed by former players, and Northwestern officials admitted some of the allegations are new or weren’t known at the time of the previous investigation that led to Fitzgerald being suspended, then fired.

“The hazing included forced participation, nudity and sexualized acts of a degrading nature, in clear violation of Northwestern policies and values,” Northwestern president Michael Schill said in a July 10 statement.

Northwestern begins the season Sept. 3 at Rutgers. Braun said the Wildcats will be ready.

“I have found a team that has come together, that truly loves one another and has an incredible resolve to attack the 2023 season and write their own story about overcoming adversity. Let me be clear, this football team will be ready to go,” he said.


Ohio State continues to craft the mission plan for the 2023 season at a deliberate pace, largely due to a massive question mark at the quarterback position.

CJ Stroud, the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, left the gaping vacancy for the Buckeyes when he opted to leave Columbus after two seasons as the starter. The decision came on the heels of a heartbreaking end to the season with a one-point loss to Georgia in the CFP semifinals.

“We’ve been in this situation quite a few times at Ohio State and just not knowing who the quarterback is going to be going into the season,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said Wednesday at Big Ten Media Days. “You had a new one with Dwayne (Haskins), had a new one with Justin (Fields), had a new one with CJ (Stroud), and now here we are again.”

Day didn’t rule out playing multiple quarterbacks in the first game of the season, which is a rare conference opener at Indiana.

“When you go into these situations, you’d like for someone to emerge during camp, but who knows if that’s going to happen or not?” Day said. “You’d like to see somebody emerge, and then you name them, just like we’ve done with CJ and Justin and Dwayne. If that doesn’t happen, then maybe that is the case. We’ll have to evaluate it from there.”

Ohio State was 11-2 last season and returns a conference-best 16 players who received All-Big Ten notice.

Five-star recruit Kyle McCord lost the previous QB battle for the Buckeyes in 2021, when Stroud was named the starter. He’s competing primarily with sophomore Devin Brown, although Day pointed out the team’s depth at the position has never been better.

“They both had very good summers. They both have shown leadership,” Day said. “Now it’s going to be time to go put it on the field. We obviously would like for someone to emerge here quickly. We’ll kind of have to see once we get on the field.”

Help on the field exists in the form of Heisman Trophy candidate Marvin Harrison Jr. The junior All-American wide receiver, son of Colts Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, lived in the weight room in the offseason with a goal of fending off injuries like the ankle issue that nagged him for 10 weeks in 2022.

Harrison has looked the part of a future NFL receiver in every possible way at 6-foot-4, and that included a nod to his father by wearing royal blue tie and Colts-colors Louis Vuitton shoes to complete his suit for a media day appearance on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

His goals for 2023 aren’t centered around turning pro just yet.

“It starts with beating that team up north,” Harrison Jr. said, referring to Michigan. “We haven’t beat them the past two years. When you come to Ohio State, that’s the first goal we have as a program. It starts there, beating that team up north. And then it’s going to the Big Ten championship, winning that, and going on to win the national championship. When you come to Ohio State, it’s natty or bust. You can’t really have a down year or lose any games. An undefeated season, that’s a successful season.”


2022 Record: 9-4 overall, 5-3 in ACC
Head Coach: Mike Elko, 1st year: 9-4 

It seemed like a curious hire at the time for a school known for head coaches with great offensive minds, but it’s Duke football. It’s not like Mike Elko taking over last year made the talk show circuit. But the star defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, Notre Dame, and Wake Forest pulled off one of the best turnarounds in the country.

No, it wasn’t quite as shocking as what Kansas or UConn did, but another basketball school that struggled suddenly discovered its football side – and did it with much better results. Duke won ten games over the previous three seasons and went 9-4 last year under Elko. It was just the third nine-win season for Duke since the 1941 Rose Bowl-bound – even if that turned out to be played at home – team did it.

This year’s version might need some more options at the skill spots, and it didn’t exactly rock the transfer portal to build up the depth, but the defense should be fantastic, especially in the secondary. The offense has a solid bunch across the board, and the style that was so sharp, so good in turnover margin, so strong in pass protection, and so smart when it came to limiting penalties should be every bit as dangerous this year. too.

Duke Blue Devils Preview: Offense

The improvements and attention were all paid to the defensive side of the ball last year, but the O was more than just functional. There’s always going to be an offensive shift in some ways when going from a head coach like David Cutcliffe to anyone else, but the attack managed to do a brilliant job of holding on the ball, controlling the clock, and being efficient enough to keep things moving.

QB Riley Leonard did everything for the attack. He led the team in rushing with 699 yards, threw for almost 3,000 with 20 touchdowns and just six picks, and he did exactly what the coaching staff needed – don’t screw up, and still be explosive. He gets back almost all of the main targets to work with – super-senior Jalon Calhoun being the best of the bunch – and … 

The running backs can and should take on more of the heavy lifting. 
You don’t necessarily want your quarterback leading the team in carries, and Leonard doesn’t have to with Jordan Waters and all the top backs returning in the rotation. They’re all working behind an effective line that led the ACC in sacks allowed, was good enough for the ground game, and gets back three starters around All-ACC tackle Graham Barton.

Duke Blue Devils Preview: Defense

The defense went totally miserable to good enough in one year under the defensive-minded Mike Elko. He lost defensive coordinator Robb Smith, but gets Tyler Santucci in to keep it all going. More than anything else, the Blue Devils improved at getting to the ball and making big things happen. They locked down against the run after a few early hiccups, were good enough against the decent passers, and forced lots and lots of turnovers.

The secondary might be the team’s biggest strength. It was already going to be good with a slew of potential All-ACC performers at safety and a good young corner in Chandler Rivers, and the transfer portal brings an even bigger boost with Al Blades coming in from Miami and huge veteran corner Myles Jones in from Texas A&M.

The pass rush came from everywhere – the secondary helped here, too. Everyone is back on the line around DeWayne Carter – one of the ACC’s most active tackles – with help coming from the two linebackers in the 4-2-5 alignment. Veteran LB Shaka Heyward is done, but the combination of Cam Dillon and Dorian Mausi is terrific.

Duke Blue Devils Key To The Season

Third down conversions. It all ties together. Duke might have a whole lot of experience and plenty of good parts, but talent-wise it needs the entire package to work. The D needs to be on the sidelines, the O has to control the clock, and it all comes together by moving the chains.

After struggling on third downs in the blowout opener over Temple, Duke was 1-3 when failing to convert 40% of its chances and 8-1 when it did. Over the last three seasons the team is 2-14 when not getting to the 40% mark.

Duke Blue Devils Top Transfer, Biggest Loss

CB Myles Jones in from Texas A&M, C Addison Penn is gone, but undecided. Along with Al Blades, the already terrific Duke secondary is getting a 6-4, 188-pound veteran going into his seventh year in school. He made 122 tackles with four interceptions and 29 broken up passes in his first four years but got banged up and only played two games over the last two seasons. Penn was a backup, but he’s a good-sized center who could’ve worked as a swing backup anywhere in the interior.

Duke Blue Devils Key Player

Ja’Mion Franklin, DT, Sr. DeWayne Carter is a terrific-quick inside presence who made ten sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss over his last two years. The more he and the ends are able to move, the better. That’s where the 6-2, 307-pound Franklin comes in. He came up with three sacks last year, but his real worth is to hold up as much as possible against the run. While he’s not quite a true anchor, the more he can gum up the works, the more everyone else can make big things happen.

Duke Blue Devils Key Game

Clemson, Sept. 4. How good are you, Duke? Yeah, this might be the strongest Blue Devil team in a long, long time, and this is the chance to show it right out of the gate against the ACC’s superpower. Duke last beat the Tigers in 2004 and got rolled in the five games since – and lost ten of the last 11 – but pull this off and it’ll go 4-0 leading up to a hyped up showdown against Notre Dame.



SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) The Carolina Panthers have their QB1.

Coach Frank Reich wasted no time naming rookie Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, the team’s starting quarterback for the Sept. 10 opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

“When we decided to pick Bryce we imagined and saw the vision that we would be standing here today saying he is the QB1,” Reich said Wednesday.

The announcement came after the completion of the Young’s first training camp practice at Wofford College, although the decision seemed imminent after he took over first-team reps from veteran Andy Dalton during organized team activities in June.

Young, a two-year starter at Alabama and the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, will become the first rookie to start a season opener for the Panthers since Cam Newton in 2011. Newton was also a No. 1 pick and went on to earn league MVP honors for the 2015 season.

Reich vowed to be patient as Young develops as a rookie.

“We want to keep our expectations on the process and not try to make too much of any one play or any one game,” Reich said. “I think that is wisdom, that is good coaching and that is good playing. When we have a bad play, nobody is going to panic. And Bryce knows he is going to feel that from our staff. That has already been said: ‘Hey, you’re the guy, let’s go.'”

The Panthers made a commitment to Young when they traded away four draft picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Chicago Bears to move up eight spots in the draft.

And owner David Tepper set the bar high in April when he said he expects the Panthers to win multiple Super Bowls under Young.

Reich knows there will be some ups and downs along the way this season.

“Nobody here is going to try to predict how it is going to play out the first year,” he said. “You just don’t know. As coaches and players we are going to try to make every attempt to avoid doing that.”

Young called it “a huge blessing ” to be named the starter so early in camp.

“That means a lot, but for me it doesn’t change my approach,” Young said. “I want to make sure I take things day by day. There are a lot of things that I want to keep growing in, keep improving in. We are all as a team in this together.”

The undersized but highly successful Young looked sharp in his first nonpadded practice at Wofford, working mostly during 6-on-8 drills.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound signal caller completed his first two pass attempts to veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen, who signed with the Panthers after spending the past 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

Young said he had some nervous energy before practice but settled down pretty quickly.

“The more reps, the more I’m able to start to feel comfortable,” Young said.

Reich said Young displayed good “mental carryover” from OTAs and he thought the 22-year-old made good quality throws, most notably a downfield strike to D.J. Chark when he was forced to get rid of the ball early after coming under pressure in the pocket.

Ultimately, Reich felt there was no need wait any longer to name Young the starter, a move that will allow him to get more reps during the preseason.

Young’s parents, Craig and Julie, attended their son’s first training camp practice and watched from the sideline.

“It was kind of like I was practicing. I couldn’t sleep last night,” Craig Young with a laugh. “I was like I can’t wait to get here, see him in the uniform and see him in the element.”

Julie Young said she is “beyond” proud of her son.

“Bryce will fool you now because he’s got this quiet demeanor, but this is a grown man,” Reich said. “He’s in control and knows what he wants and how he wants it done. And that’s a good place to start from.”

Panthers outside linebacker Brian Burns decided to show up at training camp rather than holding out like San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa. Like Bosa, Burns is in the final year of his contract and is seeking a large extension.

“I feel like what he have going is bigger than (my contract situation),” Burns said. “… I feel like I’m a key piece to what we need to get done, so I feel like I need to be here whether or not I’m going through negotiations.”

NOTES: Starting cornerbacks Donte Jackson (Achilles) and Jaycee Horn (foot) both returned to practice after sitting out most of offseason workouts while recovering from injuries.


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Aaron Rodgers has a new deal with the New York Jets – and he’s taking a pay cut to try to help deliver a Super Bowl to the winning-starved franchise.

Rodgers agreed to a reworked two-year, $75 million guaranteed contract with the Jets on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The four-time NFL MVP had nearly $110 million in guaranteed money remaining on his previous deal signed with Green Bay. But Rodgers is taking less money with New York in a move that appears to also reiterate his stay with the Jets is likely to last beyond just this season.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the team didn’t announce the contract, which will save the Jets nearly $35 million on Rodgers’ salary over the next two seasons. NFL Network, which first reported the sides had agreed to a new deal that includes no-franchise tag and no-trade clauses, also said the contract includes two option years to help prorate a $35 million roster bonus Rodgers will receive Sunday, in addition to his $1.8 million salary for this season.

The news of the reworked contract came after Rodgers confirmed a ProFootballTalk report Tuesday night he had agreed to a reworked contract.

“Yeah, there’s going to be something hitting probably later on today,” Rodgers said.

Turns out, it was a totally new contract for a player who has repeatedly hinted he was more than just a one-year rental for New York, which hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since its only win with Joe Namath leading the way in 1969.

“The team gave up significant pieces for it to just be a one-year deal,” Rodgers said a few hours before the news of the contract circulated. “I’m aware of that. I think there was an awareness of that. Now, again, anything could happen with my body or the success that we have this year, but I’m having a blast, so I don’t really see this as a one-year-and-done thing.”

The Jets sent a first-, second- and sixth-round pick in this year’s draft to the Packers in April, along with a conditional second-rounder next year that could become a first-rounder if Rodgers plays at least 65% of the snaps. Green Bay gave up first and fifth-round picks this year, along with the quarterback.

Rodgers previously agreed to a reworked contract that helped push the trade forward. He was due a fully guaranteed $58.3 million option bonus, but it was shifted to next year. That left New York needing to pay Rodgers the minimum during his first three months with the team, which cost only $1.2 million against the salary cap – helping the Jets make additional roster moves and signings.

But that restructuring also meant Rodgers’ 2024 salary would have counted $107.6 million against next year’s cap – an enormous hit.

Instead, the Jets and Rodgers were able to work out a new deal to satisfy both sides. It also gives Jets fans hope they can see a winner soon after the team has failed to make the playoffs for 12 straight years, the NFL’s longest active postseason drought.

“Change can be difficult, for sure, especially when it’s that drastic – 18 years in one spot,” Rodgers said, referring to his time in Green Bay. “But if you can lean into it and embrace it, there’s some really beautiful things on the other side. And I’ve been experiencing it so far and the people have been great, both in Jersey and in the city. And I’m just having a hell of a time.”


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants locked in left tackle Andrew Thomas on Wednesday with a five-year contract extension worth $117.5 million.

The Giants announced the signing hours before the team stepped on the field for its first practice of the 2023 season.

The signing comes a day after star running back Saquon Barkley received a one-year, $11 million contract. In the offseason general manager Joe Schoen also worked out a four-year, $160 million deal with quarterback Daniel Jones and gave star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence a four-year, $90 million extension.

The fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Thomas has played in 45 regular-season games with 44 starts in addition to two postseason contests. He had a breakout season in 2022 helping the Giants (9-7-1) make the playoffs for the first time since 2016, while helping Barkley rush for a career-best 1,312 yard and 10 touchdowns.

New York finished fourth in the league in rushing.

Jones joined Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts as one of four quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 3,200 passing yards, a 65% completion percentage, and 700 rushing yards in a season. Jones also set the franchise single-season record for completion percentage and led the NFL by throwing an interception on just 1.1% of his passes.


The Kansas City Chiefs placed wide receiver John Ross on the reserve/retired list on Wednesday.

Ross, 27, reportedly told the team he was retiring earlier in the day. He did not participate in practice.

Ross was picked ninth overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2017 NFL Draft, one selection before the Chiefs picked quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Ross’ high selection was partly due to running the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.22 seconds) in NFL combine history.

Production didn’t follow as Ross caught just 51 passes for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns in 27 games (20 starts) over four seasons with the Bengals.

He requested a trade during the 2020 season that didn’t come to fruition and later sustained a season-ending foot injury. Ross played in just three games that season.

In 2021, he played 10 games (one start) for the New York Giants and caught 11 passes for 224 yards and one score. He was out of football last season.

The Chiefs signed Ross to a futures/reserve contract during the offseason.

Ross played college football at Washington and was a standout in his final season when he caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns.


Deshaun Watson made his return to the football field during the 2022 season in Week 13, facing his former team, the Houston Texans. It was evident that after being away since 2020, Watson was rusty, affecting his performance during the season. In his six games, he completed 90 of 170 passing attempts for 1,102 yards, throwing seven touchdowns and five interceptions. He also contributed 175 yards and one touchdown on 36 rushing attempts.

During Weeks 13 to 18, Watson ranked as the QB16 overall and 20th in points per game, averaging 14.2 points. While these numbers raised some concerns, there were glimpses of his pre-2021 self that led the Browns to make him the highest-paid quarterback in the league. It’s crucial to remember that before 2021, Watson had consistently been a top performer in fantasy football, never finishing lower than QB5. His average of over 22 fantasy points per game demonstrates his elite status as a fantasy asset.

Full Offseason with the Team

During the 2022 offseason, Deshaun Watson faced significant controversy and legal issues off the field, which understandably affected his ability to focus on football. These distractions led to a decline in his performance that year. We won’t delve into the allegations or criticisms; the focus here is on the impact it had on his preparation for the football season.

However, in the aftermath of the suspension, Watson has been actively participating in the league-mandated treatment and has fully engaged in the Browns’ offseason programs this summer. Notably, head coach Kevin Stefanski made crucial coaching moves to support Watson’s development. One such move was appointing offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt as the Browns’ quarterback coach. Van Pelt, a former NFL quarterback with nine years of experience, has an impressive 18-year coaching career, including four years as the quarterback coach for the Green Bay Packers, where he worked with Aaron Rodgers.

Additionally, Stefanski brought in Bill Musgrave, an experienced offensive coach with a track record of developing quarterbacks, as a senior assistant for the offense. Musgrave has worked with several NFL teams and was notably instrumental in turning Derek Carr into an MVP candidate in 2016.

With these coaching changes and another year under Stefanski’s guidance, Watson is expected to show improvement in his performance. The support from the coaching staff, combined with his experience and talent, could lead to a significant jump in Watson’s play during the 2023 season.

Offensive Weapons

The Browns have made significant improvements to their roster during the offseason, providing Deshaun Watson with a more consistent system and a talented group of playmakers. One of their notable acquisitions was wide receiver Elijah Moore, whom they obtained in a trade with the New York Jets by giving up their 2023 second-round pick (No. 42). Despite having just 80 catches for 984 yards and six touchdowns in his first two seasons, Moore has demonstrated flashes of his potential as a dynamic playmaker, especially evident in his exceptional hands and ability to make defenders miss after the catch. All reports out of Browns camp are that Watson and Moore have established chemistry, and we could finally see a breakout season from Moore.

Additionally, the Browns added Marquise Goodwin and veteran tight end Jordan Akins to their receiving corps. Goodwin, though recently diagnosed with blood clots, can be a valuable veteran presence in the wide receiver room if he makes a successful return. With 102 games under his belt, Goodwin has recorded 187 receptions for 3,023 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging an impressive 16.2 yards per reception. Meanwhile, Akins’ familiarity with Watson from their time together will benefit the offense. Throughout his career with Watson, Akins has made 90 catches for 1,046 yards. His addition provides depth behind fellow tight ends David Njoku and Harrison Bryant.

The addition of talented playmakers and the return of established receivers will further strengthen the Browns’ depth chart. Leading the receiving corps is All-Pro receiver Amari Cooper, who showcased his skills after being traded to Cleveland last season. Despite facing subpar quarterback play, Cooper managed to catch 78 passes for 1,160 yards and nine touchdowns. Though he and Watson initially struggled with chemistry, their impressive Week 17 performance, during which Cooper hauled in three passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns, hints at the potential they could unlock with a full offseason together.

In addition to Cooper, the Browns have the underrated Donovan Peoples-Jones, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2022. With a career-high 19% target share, Peoples-Jones set personal bests in receptions (61), targets (96), receiving yards (839), and touchdowns (3). His chemistry with Watson and the continuity they share will be a valuable asset for the Browns’ passing game. Moreover, returning second-year receiver David Bell and rookie Cedric Tillman provide reliable depth options, capable of filling any gaps in the offense in case of injuries.

The combination of established veterans and emerging talents in the Browns’ receiving corps gives Watson a strong array of options to target. With increased continuity and better chemistry with his receivers, Watson’s overall performance is expected to improve significantly in the 2023 season.

The Browns’ offensive arsenal is loaded with potential breakout candidates, and one of them is tight end David Njoku. Despite being a sixth-year veteran, Njoku possesses incredible athleticism and could be in line for a breakout season in 2023. Watson has a history of elevating his tight ends, especially in the red zone, and Njoku could become his go-to target in critical situations. Coming off one of the best seasons of his career, Njoku is entering the prime of his career, and if he can maximize his potential, he could become a pivotal factor in taking the Browns’ offense to the next level.

Adding to the mix is the All-Pro running back Nick Chubb, who is poised for a career year in this high-powered offense. Chubb is widely recognized as one of the best pure rushers in the NFL, as evidenced by his impressive 1,500+ rushing yards in the previous season. Additionally, with Watson at quarterback, Chubb saw an increase in targets, including a season-high six in their last game in 2022. If Kareem Hunt remains a free agent, Chubb might see even more involvement in the passing game, which will undoubtedly boost Watson’s fantasy outlook.

With an array of talented playmakers like Cooper, Peoples-Jones, Moore, Njoku, and Chubb, coupled with the positive changes in the coaching staff, Watson is well-positioned to flourish in the Browns’ offense.


To put it bluntly, Year 1 of the Russell Wilson experience in Denver was a disaster.

But the Broncos had 85 million reasons as to why they needed to continue it—that’s how much the team would have been penalized against the salary cap had they chosen to move on from Wilson this offseason.

Now it’s on new coach Sean Payton to make it work with Wilson for a turnaround season in 2023, or at least help him play better to raise his trade value next offseason.

Denver invested in its offensive line in free agency, and in the backfield with the arrival of Samaje Perine to pair with Javonte Williams. The Broncos also added a new weapon for Wilson with the second-round draft selection of wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr., which created a logjam at the position with Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler and Marquez Callaway also on the roster.

The Broncos also splurged on the defensive side with the addition of interior defensive lineman Zach Allen, who had a breakout season with Arizona in 2022. But the defense wasn’t the problem last year in Denver.

All eyes will be on the partnership between Payton and Wilson this season.

Biggest gamble this offseason: Trading for Payton to fix Wilson

For starters, the bigger gamble might be Payton taking a chance on the Broncos. The coach could have easily sat for another year after the jobs he likely desired (the Cowboys and Chargers) didn’t become available. Payton doesn’t have a Justin Herbert–like quarterback in Denver, and he took on a messy situation after the organization handed Wilson a lucrative contract extension (five years, $245 million) ahead of a dreadful season. Now it’s on Payton to fix the mess, but the Broncos are also gambling on the idea that the coach is refreshed from his year off—especially after trading a first-round pick to New Orleans for the right to hire him. This might be a forced partnership with a feel-out season before Payton completely rebuilds the roster the way he sees fit. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if he quickly pulls Wilson for backup Jarrett Stidham if the former starts 2023 as poorly as last season.

Toughest stretch of the season: Weeks 5 to 10

The Broncos face the mighty Kansas City Chiefs twice in a three-week span: on the road in Week 6 and at home in Week 8. Before facing the Chiefs, the Broncos are at home vs. Aaron Rodgers and the Jets. They also have a home game versus the Packers, which is sandwiched between the two Chiefs games. Green Bay, Rodgers’s old home, could be a surprise team with starting quarterback Jordan Love and a veteran-filled defense led by cornerback Jaire Alexander. The Broncos also have a tough road battle with the Bills in Week 10, but that’s after a bye week.

Breakout player to watch: TE Greg Dulcich

Wilson had a rough first season in Denver, but he found some comfort with throwing in Dulcich’s direction. After being inactive the first five games of his rookie season, Dulcich quickly gained the quarterback’s trust as a polished route runner. Dulcich fell to the third round of the 2022 draft partly because he needed to improve as a blocker, but being a productive seam stretcher provided a role for him with the Broncos. Perhaps Payton can utilize Dulcich’s strengths in the passing game, similarly to what he did with Jimmy Graham in New Orleans for many years. That’s setting the bar high, but the UCLA product showed plenty of promise last year, with 33 receptions for 411 yards and two touchdowns.

Position of strength: Secondary

Cornerback Patrick Surtain II and safety Justin Simmons are two of the best players in the league at their respective positions, making the secondary the obvious choice for position of strength. Surtain entered the realm of elite cornerbacks in his second NFL season, and he might have played better than even the Jets’ Sauce Gardner. Simmons made his third second-team All-Pro after recording a career-high six interceptions in 2022. Safeties Kareem Jackson and P.J. Locke also provide depth to a talented secondary.

Position of weakness: Edge rusher

The Broncos have plenty of unproven players behind Randy Gregory, who had a rocky first season in Denver after playing in only six games due to injury. And with the team trading Bradley Chubb to Miami last year, they’ll need second-year player Nik Bonitto to make drastic improvements this season. Bonitto, a 2022 second-round pick, struggled against the run and contributed only 1.5 sacks during his rookie season. But the Broncos will need more than just Bonitto to step up with Gregory’s lengthy injury history. Wilson gets the bulk of the spotlight for bad deals in Denver, but Gregory’s five-year, $70 million might be just as bad. The team also recently added veteran Frank Clark, the former pass rusher for the Chiefs, to help in case Bonitto doesn’t improve and/or Gregory can’t stay healthy.

X-factor: RT Mike McGlinchey

With the Broncos unable to move Wilson’s massive contract, the team went all in with giving him better protection via free agency, hoping that could lead to a bounce-back season from the nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Right tackle McGlinchey was the prize signing from the 49ers, the team with which he developed into a standout run blocker. McGlinchey, however, has struggled as a pass protector and will be counted on to improve in that area after the Broncos signed him to a lucrative five-year, $87.5 million contract. The team also signed guard Ben Powers on a four-year, $52 million deal.

Sleeper fantasy pick: RB Samaje Perine

Perine was a strong waiver wire addition during a three-week stretch last season as the Bengals’ lead back. Now in Denver, he could open the season in the same role if Williams isn’t at 100% coming off a knee injury. Perine and Williams could even split the workload once the latter is back. —Michael Fabiano, SI Fantasy

Best bet: Over/under: Russell Wilson over 3750.5 passing yards (+120)

Wilson threw for more than 4,000 yards as recently as 2020. At plus money, I am willing to bet Sean Payton can help Russ get back on track. There’s no shortage of weapons in Denver, and Wilson has been one of the best deep passers in the league. —Jennifer Piacenti, SI Betting

Final record: 7–10, third in AFC West