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Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

Yesterday was International Cat Day and I forgot to mention it, which was mainly due to the fact that I spent the entire day looking at pictures of cats on the internet. Fortunately, this actually worked out in my favor, because we're going to celebrate International Cat Day today with an all cats newsletter. 

OK, it won't be all cats, but we will be talking a lot about the NFL cat teams. 

Not only did the Bengals make some news today by changing the name of their stadium, but the Lions are going to make some news tonight when "Hard Knocks" debuts on HBO. The show, which kicks off at 10 p.m. ET, will air each Tuesday from now until Sept. 6. I'm guessing the star of the show will be Dan Campbell. Anyone who has ever made a promise to bite off kneecaps has to be good television, which is why I have high hopes for both Campbell and the Lions for this season of "Hard Knocks."

You know, I was going to go full cat for today's newsletter, but instead, I thought we should go full Wizard of Oz with some lions and tigers (Bengals) and bears news. 

As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Let's get to the rundown. 

1. Today's show: NFC West burning questions

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Minicamp
Matthew Stafford (left) and Sean McVay USATSI

For most of the past two weeks, we've spent each episode of the podcast previewing each NFL division by asking several burning questions that each team needs to answer before the start of the season. Today, we're finishing our run around the league with the NFC West. 

There are a lot of big questions in that division this year, so I sat down with Will Brinson to try and answer those questions. In Arizona, Cardinals fan are wondering if Kyler Murray can live up to the investment that the team just made in him. In Seattle, the biggest question for the Seahawks is whether they can survive without Russell Wilson. On San Francisco's end, the 49ers biggest question is obvious: Can they win with Trey Lance?

Brinson and I attempted to answer all three of those questions, plus we answered one simple question: Can the Rams make it back to the Super Bowl? 

Brinson says no, or did he say yes?

"I think they'll be good enough to be a quality team that can make it back to the Super Bowl," Brinson said.

After that answer, I had to laugh at Brinson for trying to straddle both sides of the fence. It's a simple question, Brinson, so just give us a straight answer: WILL THE RAMS MAKE IT BACK TO THE SUPER BOWL? YES OR NO. 

"I think the answer would be no," Brinson said. "But I think it's entirely possible that they are good enough to make it back to the Super Bowl."

That answer will have to do because that's as close to making him pick a side as I could get. As for me, I do think the Rams are going to be good -- and I even think they'll win the NFC West -- but I don't think they'll make it back to the Super Bowl. There's a reason we've only seen one NFC team this century in back-to-back Super Bowls (the Seahawks), and that reason is because it's difficult to repeat as NFC champion. Not only does everything have to go your way, but there's a certain amount of luck involved and it's hard to see everything working out in the Rams' favor two years in a row. 

Anyway, we actually answered three questions about EACH team in the division, and if you want to hear those answers, you'll have to check out the entire episode, which you can do on YouTube by clicking here.  

2. Bears star requests trade: Roquan Smith wants out of Chicago

The Bears already have one of the weakest rosters in the NFC, and that roster could get even weaker if Roquan Smith gets his way. The All-Pro linebacker requested a trade on Tuesday.

Smith is headed into the final year of his rookie deal, which is scheduled to pay him $9.74 million this season. Smith was hoping to get an extension done before the start of the season, but that hasn't happened yet, and now he wants out. 

Here's everything we know about the situation: 

  • Smith doesn't feel valued by the Bears' front office. Here's what Smith had to say about the Bears' front office: "Unfortunately, the new front office regime doesn't value me here," Smith wrote in his statement. "They've refused to negotiate in good faith, every step of this journey has been 'take it or leave it.' The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself, and for the entire LB market if I signed it." Smith said the two sides have been working on a new deal since April, but haven't gotten anywhere. 
  • What the Bears have offered. According to NFL Network, the Bears are trying to give Smith a backloaded offer and are not interested in making him the NFL's highest-paid linebacker. Also, the team has proposed putting de-escalators in the contract, which is almost unheard of for a highly paid position player. (NFL Media notes that of the 94 non-quarterback contracts that pay $15 million or more, not a single one of them has a de-escalator clause). 
  • Smith does admit there could be one way to salvage his relationship with the Bears. The 25-year-old is upset with the organization, but he said that might change if he gets a chance to meet with the McCaskeys, the family that owns the team. "I haven't had the chance to talk to the McCaskey family, and maybe they can salvage this, but as of right now I don't see a path back to the organization I truly love." Smith wrote.

The Bears losing Smith would be catastrophic for their defense. That being said, this is a team that's about six players away from being a player away, so if the Bears can score a huge draft haul in a deal for Smith, then a trade might make sense. For more on Smith's trade demands, be sure to click here.  

3. Bengals stadium gets a new name 

Newly named Paycor Stadium USATSI

The Bengals have been playing at their current home stadium for the past 22 years, and in that time, the building has only had one name. However, that will now be changing. 

As of today, the stadium formerly known as Paul Brown Stadium will now be called Paycor Stadium after the team struck a 16-year naming rights deal with Paycor that we wrote about before anyone here at

Here's everything you need to know: 

  • First name change in stadium history. When the stadium opened in August of 2000, it was named after Bengals founder and NFL legend Paul Brown. For most of the past 22 years, Bengals owner Mike Brown had insisted that he would never take his dad's name off the stadium, but he changed his mind this year. 
  • Why Brown decided to sell the naming rights. During the 2021 season, the Bengals were one of just three teams that didn't sell the naming rights to their stadium (the Bears and Packers were the two others), but with the cost of business going up, Brown became more amicable to the idea of selling the naming rights to the stadium. "I think my father would have agreed with this move," Brown said when recently asked about the potential stadium naming rights deal. "It's a time now where we need a revenue stream that will help us do such things as build the indoor facility. It'll help us perhaps handle the cap a little bit easier."
  • Why Bengals are looking for new forms of cash flow. The Bengals have a lot of big expenses coming up. The biggest one will likely be the extension given to quarterback Joe Burrow, who will become eligible for a new contract following the 2022 season. Brown is very aware of the fact that Burrow is going to be able to command top dollar. "We see that train coming," Brown said. Under NFL rules, teams have to put any guaranteed money in a player's contract into escrow, which means the Bengals are likely going to have to write a huge check once Burrow's deal is finished. Also, as Brown mentioned, the team is in the process of building an indoor practice facility, which is another project the Bengals need money for. 
  • Good sign that the Bengals plan on staying in Cincinnati. The Bengals lease at their stadium only runs through 2026, which means they could conceivably relocate somewhere after that. However, the fact that they signed a 16-year deal with Paycor makes it feel like they have their feet firmly planted in the Queen City. 

The Bengals are now the second AFC North team this offseason to announce a new stadium name. Heinz Field in Pittsburgh is now known as Acrisure Stadium after the Steelers agreed to a 15-year deal with Acrisure. The Bengals better hope that fans in Cincinnati embrace the new name more than fans in Pittsburgh embraced the new stadium name there. (In case you missed it, they hated it.)

4. Ranking the top free agents for 2023: Tom Brady leads what could be a loaded class 

It might seem like it's too early to talk about anything that's going to happen in 2023, but with the NFL, it's never too early to talk about anything, which is why we decided to rank the top free agents who will be available next offseason.  

Free agency could get pretty crazy next March, and that's because there are plenty of stars who are scheduled to become free agents in 2023.'s Jordan Dajani took a look at the top 25 players scheduled to hit free agency, and we're going to check out his top 10. 

1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers
2. Lamar Jackson, Ravens (will likely get tagged if no new contract is worked out)
3. Quenton Nelson, Colts
4. Orlando Brown Jr., Chiefs
5. Derwin James, Chargers
6. Roquan Smith, Bears
7. Jessie Bates III, Bengals
8. Erik McCoy, Saints
9. Jack Conklin, Browns
10. Dalton Schultz, Cowboys

Two other notable players on our top 25 list are Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley. If you want to check out the entire list, be sure to click here

5. Why Aaron Rodgers won't face any NFL punishment for admittedly taking a psychedelic drug

Aaron Rodgers USATSI

With Aaron Rodgers openly admitting that he used ayahuasca, there was some question about whether he would face any punishment for his actions. The problem with ayahuasca is that the main ingredient in the brew is DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine), which is an illegal schedule I drug in the United States

Despite that, here's why Rodgers won't be punished for using it: 

  • The NFL and NFLPA have no rules against it. An NFL spokesman told ESPN that even if Rodgers had been tested after using it, it wouldn't have triggered a positive result because it's not a prohibited compound under the league's substance abuse policy. It's not crazy to think that DMT probably wasn't on the NFL's radar because players flying to South America to use ayahuasca has never really been an issue. Rodgers is a smart person and likely did his homework on whether he could get suspended using ayahuasca. 
  • Rodgers also legally in the clear. Although anything with DMT in it is illegal to use in the United States, it's not illegal in South America, which is where Rodgers used the ayahuasca. The Packers quarterback said he's done it twice, with one experience coming in 2019 and another one occurring this year. 
  • Rodgers says that using ayahuasca has changed his life. "It's hard to answer that question with a short answer," Rodgers said when asked by Peter King how much ayahuasca has changed his life. "But a lot of different ways. The most important way was really that self-love part. I think it's unlocked a lot of my heart. Being able to fully give my heart to my teammates, my loved ones, relationships because I can fully embrace unconditionally myself. Just didn't do that for a long time. I was very self-critical. When you have so much judgment on yourself it's easy to transfer that judgment to other people."

Based on Rodgers' experience, there is now a 50% chance I will be going to South America to try out ayahuasca. 

6. Rapid-fire roundup: Jets starting right tackle could be out for the season

It's been a wild 24 hours in the NFL, and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you. 

  • Mekhi Becton most likely out for the season after suffering injury in practice. The 2020 first-round pick will most likely miss the entire 2022 season, Jets coach Robert Saleh announced Tuesday. Becton suffered an "avulsion fracture of the kneecap," per NFL Network, and is set to see a surgeon Wednesday. The injury occurred on the surgically repaired knee that kept Becton out nearly all of last season.
  • Commanders fire defensive line coach. Washington is barely two weeks into training camp and Ron Rivera is already making changes. The Commanders coach announced Tuesday that he has fired defensive line coach Sam Mills III. Mills, who was replaced by Jeff Zgonina, had been with the team since 2020. Mills is the son of Sam Mills II, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend. 
  • Jameis Winston rolls his ankle. The Saints got a scare Monday after Winston had to leave practice due to an apparent ankle injury. However, it appears the Saints might have caught a break. According to ESPN, Winston now "feels fine" and the injury is nothing to worry about. That being said, the injury will keep Winston out of practice for a few days, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune
  • Odell Beckham Jr. apparently eyeing the Bills. The free agent receiver seems to be interested in playing for the Bills and now that he's shown interest, he's being heavily recruited by both Von Miller and former Bills star Andre Reed. For more on this story, be sure to click here.  
  • Owners to approve sale of the Broncos. Although Rob Walton's $4.65 billion bid for the team was accepted back in June, he doesn't officially own the team yet. The NFL's 32 owners still have to approve the move, and that approval is expected to come today when the owners vote on Walton's purchase during a meeting in Minnesota. 
  • Josh McDaniels attempts to shut down Josh Jacobs trade rumors. After Josh Jacobs surprisingly played multiple snaps in the Hall of Fame game, that started immediate speculation that the Raiders might be looking to trade him. However, Josh McDaniels says that's not the case. "We have no desire to do that at all," the Raiders coach said Monday. That's not exactly a no. I don't think Jacobs will be traded, but I won't be surprised if it happens. 
  • Big fight at Giants training camp. There was a major fight at Giants training camp that not only involved multiple players, but it also involved an ASSISTANT COACH. If you want more details on the fight, be sure to click here