Thanks to Hurrican Ida, the New Orleans Saints will not be able to host their home opener. However, according to the latest NFL rumors, there is a reason the Saints chose Jacksonville to be their Week 1 home. In other news, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid gave an update on linebacker Willie Gay, while Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank discussed the factors behind the Julio Jones trade.
NFL Rumors: Saints New Stadium, Willie Gay, Arthur Blank
After Hurricane Ida ravaged Louisiana, the New Orleans Saints had to find a new place to practice ahead of their Week 1 matchup with the Green Bay Packers. New Orleans is currently practicing at TCU and reportedly wanted to play their opener in AT&T Stadium. However, there is a concert coming in around the same time, so the Saints had to look somewhere else for a new home.
The Saints eventually settled on making Jacksonville their temporary home, but Sean Payton and the organization put quite a bit of thought into that decision, as chronicled by Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayne.
New Orleans set their eyes on Florida, as they believed the heat and humidity could play to their advantage. The Saints are obviously used to warmer climates, while Green Bay isn’t exactly known for their tropical weather. Additionally, Aaron Rodgers is 3-4 with a 78.1 passer rating when playing in Florida.
With all three Florida stadiums available, the Saints decided that Jacksonville was the way to go, as it was the closest thing they had to home-field advantage. A staffer reportedly researched flight prices from Green Bay to each one of the three stadiums and came to the conclusion that Jacksonville was the most expensive ticket. With this in mind, Payton and the organization believed that Jacksonville would attract the fewest amount of opposing fans.
Andy Reid Gives Update on Willie Gay
Like so many other teams, the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t make it out of the preseason without a bite from the injury bug. Second-year linebacker Willie Gay suffered a toe injury in the preseason finale, and head coach Andy Reid recently addressed the media to give an update on his status.
After initial testing, it’s unclear whether Gay will be ready for the season opener. Saying that the team would need “a week or so” to know for sure, Reid said the current plan is to “play it by ear and see how he does”.
— Mike Woellert (@Mike_Woellert) August 28, 2021
The good news is that, reading between the lines, it sounds like Gay won’t be sidelined for too long. The second-year pro put up some nice tape as a rookie and is set to start in Kansas City’s 4-3 defense. With Anthony Hitchens in the middle and rookie Nick Bolton on the outside, this linebacker core should be pretty solid if the team can stay healthy.
Arthur Blank Discusses Julio Jones Relationship
In a normal offseason, the Julio Jones trade would have been the highlight of the summer. Just over one year after signing a massive contract extension, the Falcons traded their superstar receiver in exchange for a second-round pick. According to multiple reports, Jones was upset with the organization and wanted a fresh start with a new team.
Sitting down with Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, Blank discussed what happened behind the scenes that led to this unceremonious departure. In 2019, Jones signed a massive contract extension, making him the richest wide receiver in football. However, the negotiations did not go well, and Jones apparently felt disrespected by the organization.
“We, being Thomas [Dimitroff], coach Quinn, the player, and his agent, were all kind of at odds with each other…It made him the top paid receiver in NFL history. But for whatever reason, he felt it wasn’t sufficient respect.”
When asked if the relationship was ever the same, Blank said “Not really. It changed…his ability or willingness to practice the way he did early in his career was different. He wanted out, and the last thing coach [Arthur] Smith wants is a player who doesn’t want to be here.”
For what it’s worth, even if Jones did change his practice habits, it had no effect on the on-field product. While injury limited him to just nine games, Jones finished 2020 ranked third in yards per route, sixth in true catch rate, and eighth in PFF grade.
— NFL (@NFL) December 17, 2019
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