Aaron Rodgers, Ezekiel Elliott Involved in 10 Brewing Controversies

It’s not like the spicy headlines around the end of the NFL when the regular season begins.

The NFL is the most watched and most scrutinized league in American sports. Everything is a big deal. This is how we know there will be conflicting stories in the next few months. There are always.

Here’s how we can predict which 10 controversies we’ll be talking about the most during the regular season:

Will the Cowboys be patient with Ezekiel Elliott?

Jerry Jones has unwavering support for Elliott, and maybe you would too if you were investing $90 million over six years in a player. But Elliott declined every season he was in the NFL. Maybe Elliott was playing through a partially torn PCL, but backup Tony Pollard looked better last season. If the Cowboys get off to a slow start and Elliott still doesn’t seem to have regained his explosiveness, would Mike McCarthy consider returning the $90 million? Would Jones let him?

Aaron Rodgers vs. his receivers

Aaron Rodgers had already called out his listeners, and it was right in the middle of training camp. He won’t let it slip if the mistakes continue throughout the season. If mostly unproven receivers don’t step up to replace Davante Adams, Rodgers won’t be patient. We already know that. It seems a safe bet that we haven’t heard the last of Rodgers on this matter.

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers will be working with some new receivers this season. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Gardner Minshew II for Jalen Hurts?

The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league. This is good, but it also opens up potential controversies. The Eagles should have high hopes for this season. Jalen Hurts has been up and down as a passer, and Philadelphia is hoping the addition of receiver AJ Brown will help him. If not, will the Eagles consider a QB change? Fortunately, the market is calm and wouldn’t overreact to a slow start by Hurts and the Eagles.

Jimmy Garoppolo is still here

The San Francisco 49ers won many games with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. They didn’t trade him in the offseason and then restructured his deal, meaning Trey Lance will be looking over his shoulder all season (unless the 49ers find a trade partner and Garoppolo waives his no-trade clause). Lance is talented and the team is publicly committed to him. However, he is not sure. If he struggles, Kyle Shanahan could get the itch.

Jesse Bates III did not receive an extension

Bates is one of the best defensive backs in the NFL and was a big part of the Cincinnati Bengals’ Super Bowl run last season. He was given the franchise tag in the offseason and looked set to receive an extension. It never happened. Bates didn’t sign his offer until late August, and it’s safe to say he wasn’t entirely satisfied.

“I’m not sure why they haven’t paid me yet,” Bates said after returning.

Bates can use the lack of extension as motivation and have a great season. But it can work both ways. We may hear more about his displeasure as the season progresses.

Daniel Jones on the bench for Tyrod Taylor?

The New York Giants have a new regime. Daniel Jones is in the final year of his rookie contract after the team declined his fifth-year option. The Giants haven’t invested anything in Jones other than him starting the season as the starter. When they signed Taylor, a solid veteran, they played down that it had anything to do with Jones. We’ll see what happens if Jones doesn’t immediately fit into new coach Brian Daboll’s offense.

Pete Carroll without Russell Wilson

Carroll had a great game with the Seattle Seahawks. Virtually all of the success came with Russell Wilson at quarterback. How will fans react if the Seahawks bottom in the first season since the Wilson trade? It’s not like Geno Smith is carrying the franchise. Carroll and the Seahawks do things in unconventional ways, and that’s a good thing when you have a future Hall of Fame quarterback. Weird philosophies might not look as good without Wilson around to save the team.

Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the few teams to start the season with a quarterback controversy. Mitchell Trubisky has worked as a starter and performed well in the preseason. The problem is that first-round pick Kenny Pickett may have been a bit better in the preseason, albeit against mostly reserves. Even the slightest miss for Trubisky will lead to calls for Pickett to start.

Ryan Tannehill looks over his shoulder

Perhaps Tannehill is in no danger of losing his starting spot this season. He was pretty good for the Tennessee Titans. However, if the Titans take a step back and Tannehill contends with top receiver AJ Brown in Philadelphia, the franchise can look to the future. Malik Willis is an exciting rookie who has been inconsistent in the preseason but has made some big plays. Tannehill is 34 years old. This is a situation worth watching.

Can the Patriots players figure it out?

The New England Patriots are really stretching the theory that Bill Belichick can come up with anything. The Patriots didn’t go the conventional route, trading offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, instead relying on a combination of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, neither of whom was an offensive coordinator. There has been a lot of negative coverage of the offense in training camp. The pre-season didn’t look good. It’s hard to even know what’s next if the offense is a failure in the first quarter of the season.

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