Welcome to a new series called the rumor roundup, where we look at the five biggest stories of the week, every week.
Some are going to be factual, as in they happened, and others will consist of the juiciest and most intriguing rumors. There's plenty to cover and plenty to learn, all of which we'll cover below.
Let's dive into it.
It's been a while since we've last seen Watson play NFL football. As we know, he missed the entire 2021 NFL season and is currently dealing with a legal battle that may impact his playing eligibility.
It may seem psychotic, but rumblings around the league suggest the Panthers are enamoured with the star-studded talent and are ready to go to big heights to acquire him. There are obvious on-field reasons why the Panthers are intrigued — Watson is a superstar talent at the most important position in the sport and would immediately transform the Panthers' offense. But, there are major risks involved, too. In addition to the public backlash that comes with taking on a player with major red flags.
One thing is for certain: Watson would do wonders for receivers D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson. Moore has become frighteningly consistent, securing between 1,100 - 1,200 receiving yards and exactly four receiving touchdowns in each of the past three seasons. Anderson, on the other hand, just had his worst season as a professional, with just 519 receiving yards and five touchdowns. It's fair to expect both players' average draft positions (37.3 for Moore, 158.4 for Anderson) to increase if Watson is added. The Panthers are said to be listening to offers for running back Christian McCaffrey; talk about transforming an offense over one offseason.
It appears the Panthers aren't on their own in the pursuit of Watson, either. The Seattle Seahawks continue to come up in the Watson sweepstakes.
The Watson news won't be easy to follow up, but Shepard took a pay cut to remain with the Giants and that may have a ripple effect on their offense. He's one of the more talented slot receivers in the league but has had issues staying healthy. Shep is coming off just a seven-game season that ended with a torn Achilles.
There's no guarantee he'll be back for the start of the 2022 season, but Shepard is still one of the best receivers on the roster. Kenny Golladay is probably the headliner at the position, but he just played a full season without scoring, and the Giants may lose Evan Engram in free agency, too.
Shep should be able to slot right back into the middle of the field. Quarterback Daniel Jones needs all the help he can get, and this is just one small step to providing him with an optimal work environment. There should be enough work for Shepard to inherit, too, when he eventually returns to the field.
The Chargers are the second team in Los Angeles to go all-in. They did so with a trade for superstar EDGE Khalil Mack, sending second and sixth-round picks in exchange for the vaunted pass rusher.
Mack is one of the most feared defenders in the league, though his numbers have trended in the wrong direction in recent seasons. He was able to play in just seven games this past season but still managed to scoop six sacks; he has 76.5 career sacks, an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, and is a 4x All-Pro and 6x pro bowler.
Pairing Mack with Joey Bosa is exactly what the Chargers and Head Coach Brandon Staley needed in a division that features quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Rusell Wilson, and Derek Carr.
How were the Chargers able to do this?
When your stud franchise quarterback accounts for just 3.4% of the cap ($7.25m), you have a lot of flexibility. Kudos to the Chargers for adding a premium talent to pair with another, playing chess with the Broncos just days after adding Russell Wilson.
According to league sources, the Eagles nearly secured Ridley in a trade prior to his year-long suspension for betting on NFL games. Now, this isn't really news because it didn't happen and good on the Falcons for being truthful and not screwing the Eagles over, but it may foreshadow the Eagles' intentions as we head into free agency and the NFL Draft.
As we know, the Eagles drafted wide receiver DeVonta Smith in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but are still apparently looking to bolster the position. They can't necessarily be blamed, either, because Smith led the team with just 916 receiving yards, and the next-closest receiver had just 647 receiving yards.
The Eagles hold the No. 15, 16, and 19 picks in the draft. They should have ample opportunities to draft their preferred talent, if they don't already address the position in free agency with names like Allen Robinson slated for the free market.
According to rumors, the Commanders were in the market for Wilson prior to his trade to Denver. They ended up settling for Wentz instead, who came at a cheaper price yet still an extravagant one.
It may have been worth asking: "Why did the Indianapolis Colts give up on this guy after just one season?".
Well, the Commanders saw enough from his film to feel comfortable in acquiring him to be their franchise quarterback. It's a questionable move at best as Wentz continued to be the same player we've seen since he entered the NFL in 2016. Even his former offensive coordinator and now former head coach in Frank Reich couldn't bring him back to 2017 form, what makes Washington think they'll be able to accomplish that feat?
Maybe the aren't expecting Wentz to reach that same peak, to be fair. He's still an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke but not by a margin as significant as you'd like for the required compensation. Either way, Wentz's addition will have an impact on the offense and most notably, receivers Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel.
This move is an interesting one to monitor heading into this season. Does Wentz have a positive impact for Washington's offense? Will he unlock something in McLaurin and Samuel that we have yet to see? Can he develop a vertical rapport with Dyami Brown? What does Wentz's addition do to Antonio Gibson and even J.D. McKissic if he's brought back?
There are many unsolved questions that we're all intrigued to have answered.
There has been plenty of speculation surrounding Cooper and the Cowboys this week, with most of the rumors suggesting the veteran receiver would either be cut or traded in the coming weeks.
Cooper had his worst performance since 2017 by securing just 68 passes for 865 yards and eight touchdowns this past season, but is still one of the more productive and dominant players at the position. Dallas' interest in moving on doesn't necessarily stem from his performance, but from his massive $22m cap hit with just $6m leftover in dead money.
The Cowboys are currently sitting at -$1m in cap space and could use the savings from moving on from Cooper, but that would put them in a tough situation with Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson already headed for free agency.
Well, that's where the fun comes. Apparently, the Cowboys are looking to move on from Cooper, then turning back and re-signing both Gallup and Wilson, on top of already franchise tagging tight end Dalton Schultz.
It's interesting to imagine where Cooper may end up, but one thing seems for certain: the Cowboys and Coop are headed for a divorce. The only question is, does he end up getting cut, or does another NFL team step up with a tempting trade?