The NFL preseason officially kicked off with a football-like experience at the 2019 Hall of Fame Game. But even if the Falcons-Broncos preseason opener wasn’t especially eventful, training camps across the country have left no shortage of drama across the league.
Watch 2019 NFL Preseason
Stars like Ezekiel Elliott and Jadeveon Clowney have avoided practice while posturing for new contracts. Others like Michael Thomas and Robbie Gould walked away from the bargaining table with lucrative deals. Position battles pit veterans against newcomers for the honor of announcing their names and alma maters on Sunday Night Football.
So what have we learned so far this summer? What are the biggest questions that still weigh heavily across the league? We gathered SB Nation’s NFL team to gauge the early run-up to the 2019 regular season.
How would you describe the 2019 preseason, using five words or fewer?
Christian D’Andrea: Catch man got paid.
Michael Thomas has emerged as one of the league’s brightest stars and the perfect complement to see Drew Brees through to retirement. And after making 229 catches the past two seasons, he was set to earn … $1.148 million this fall. That led to a holdout of which the Saints wanted no part, and Thomas returned to practice in July having secured the richest contract an NFL wide receiver has ever seen: a five-year, $100 million extension with $61 million in guarantees.
Adam Stites: Run men don’t get paid.
Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon each have two Pro Bowl nods and a strong argument as a top-five running back in the NFL. They’re both sitting out of training camp in an attempt to get a new contract. Neither appears to be making much headway. The Chargers reportedly don’t want to give Gordon any more than $10 million per year, while the Cowboys don’t appear to want to give Elliott Todd Gurley-type money.
Which training camp storyline are you following most closely?
Stites: The Giants should stick to their plan of bringing Daniel Jones along slowly and patiently. Will they, though?
Not much about Jones’ college career at Duke suggested he’s ready to take the reins of an NFL team as a rookie. But the thing about big, talented quarterbacks with cannon arms is that they can wow in practice — even if they’re not quite ready to handle all the things that come with a live game.
Jones is getting rave reviews so far in camp for his deep ball. That means you can count on people to start calling for Jones to replace Eli Manning once the Giants’ 2019 season inevitably looks like the last two Giants seasons. How loud those chants for Jones will be, and the likeliness that the Giants listen to them, depend on how good Jones is the rest of August.