Welcome to the War Room, where Yahoo Sports’ football minds kick around the key topics of the day. Today, we’re talking players who could use new teams, and mediocre teams that could use a little kick. Read on to submit a question of your own. Onward!
1. With Adrian Peterson finding (some) new life in Arizona, what other player would you say could benefit from a change of scenery?
I’m not saying this will happen, but Eli Manning could use a new start … and there are more than a few teams that could use him. Manning is 36 years old on a 1-6 team with no offensive line and no receivers. Trading him would give him a new start and allow the Giants to start a rebuild. Imagine how much better off the Jaguars (run by his old coach Tom Coughlin) would be with Manning instead of Blake Bortles, or perhaps the Packers could stay in the playoff race with Manning until Aaron Rodgers gets back. Again, none of this will happen, and Manning will sadly play out the rest of the season on a team going nowhere. But it would shake things up if a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback got on a contender.
Shalise Manza Young
Well, a change of scenery didn’t seem to work for Roberto Aguayo, but maybe it could for Martavis Bryant. Maybe. Bryant has made it clear that he is not happy with his lack of opportunities in the Steelers’ offense, whether through reports of a trade request or Instagram comments denigrating teammates (then deleting them), and skipped out on team meetings Monday. But how much can you trust Bryant? He missed all of the 2016 season after multiple violations of the substance abuse policy, and now is seemingly trying to shoot his way out of town in Pittsburgh. There are teams who could use a talented receiver, but you also need a strong locker room to deal with someone who seems like he’s difficult to deal with.
The answer here has to be Martavis Bryant. He’s simply too good to be used as infrequently as the Steelers are using him. Bryant is losing snaps to JuJu Smith-Schuster, skipping mandatory meetings and expressing a desire to leave the Steel City. Mike Tomlin has reiterated that the team will keep Bryant around, but there will be a point where this relationship derails Pittsburgh’s season. Bryant is one of the most gifted receivers in the game. Plenty of teams need a guy like him and would be willing to help him restart his once-promising career at the still-ripe age of 25.
There are a couple obvious ones; Andrew Luck (who would be a fool to come back anytime soon in a Colts uni) and Kirk Cousins come to mind. But let’s get weird. What if Cam Newton decides that Carolina’s hodgepodge of an offense, built with the intention of protecting him but with the effect of the exact opposite, isn’t working? Newton is signed through 2020, but there’s an out after the 2019 season, and the way quarterback salaries are trending, Newton’s deal will look like a bargain by then. Yes, the Panthers are 4-3 and right in the middle of the NFC South race. But what if matters turn ugly in Charlotte? Wouldn’t you love to see the Cam of 2015 again, even if he wasn’t in silver-and-teal?
Martavis Bryant is in dire need of a new home. In a span of 10 days, he has reportedly requested a trade and told the press–not his coaches!–how unhappy he is with a lack of touches, after a win mind you. Then, Bryant took to Instagram to try and humiliate JuJu Schuster-Smith, a rookie receiver who has outplayed him all year. Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, Bryant “stayed home” Monday because of an apparent doctor visit. The shame of this whole situation is how incredibly talented Bryant is. The Steelers should be able to extract some tangible value for the 25-year-old and a trade would seemingly benefit both parties at this point.
Joe Flacco, not so much for himself but so the Ravens can move on from him and attempt to keep pace with the Steelers in the AFC North. The Browns are always looking for new QBs to ruin, so there’s a system fit there.
It’s time Terrelle Pryor gets out of Washington. The wide receiver was barely seen during Monday night’s loss to Philadelphia and doesn’t seem to fit in at all with that offense. He’s tallied just 18 receptions for 223 yards and one touchdown on the year. Which is pretty shocking because his talent shouldn’t be in doubt at this point. Anyone who can look good playing in Cleveland is certainly worth taking a chance on. Washington doesn’t utilize him well. Surely other teams can.
I’ll stick in the desert and go with Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz has once again balled out this season despite being 34 years old and in his 14th year in the league. Carson Palmer’s injury combined with an improved Rams team gives Arizona little shot at the playoffs and I think I speak for everyone in football when I say we want to see Fitz get a ring. Send him to Pittsburgh for Martavis Bryant, everyone wins.
2. Mediocrity Survivor! Several teams (Texans, Broncos, Lions, Cowboys, and Falcons) are 3-3. If you were going to pick one of these to ride the distance, who’s got the best chance of going the farthest, and why?
I’m going with the Cowboys. I know a lot is up in the air with Ezekiel Elliott, and I know his possible suspension remains a big, dark cloud hanging over Dallas. But the offensive line is rounding into form and Dak Prescott has quietly put together a very solid season. Are there still concerns about the defense? Sure. But I have enough confidence in Prescott and his weapons surrounding one of the NFL’s best lines, and when Zeke returns (or if he even has to return), this should be one of the most balanced attacks in the league. –Pereles
I should know better than to pick the Lions, right? But the fact that they’ve remained one of the healthier teams in their division, and they have the last bonafide quarterback standing in the NFC North, makes me believe the playoffs aren’t out of reach. Plus their remaining non-division schedule features the Browns, Bengals, Ravens and Buccaneers. And somehow I already regret this decision. –Schuster
Give me the Texans. I’m fully on board the Deshaun Watson hype train and with the return of Duane Brown, Houston’s offense should get even better. They’re in the most winnable division out of any of these teams and appear to have a stable, starting caliber QB for the first time in the Bill O’Brien era. –Sulla
I’d still say the Falcons. The talent is just too much to deny. They haven’t played well yet, but maybe things click with a new offensive coordinator in a winnable division. I might have said the Cowboys, but there’s just too much uncertainty with Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension. Though, on Sunday they finally looked like last season’s team. –Schwab
Hmmm…so much mediocrity. I know there’s a long history of Super Bowl losing teams gagging the next season (hello, 2016 Panthers), and they looked turrible (not terrible, Charles Barkley turrible) against New England on Sunday night. But of those six, I believe most in the Falcons. Steve Sarkisian’s stale offense needs an injection of creativity, but there’s a lot of talent there, too much to go 8-8. You’d think. –Young
Sure, it seems bleak for the Atlanta Falcons, but they still beat Green Bay (with Rodgers) and their division is very winnable. They have too much talent not to right the ship and win a playoff game or two. Just don’t let them relocate to the AFC East. –Velaski
I can’t get enough of Deshaun Watson, so I will roll with the Houston Texans. His 15 passing touchdowns are tied for second in the league with Tom Brady and Alex Smith, and he’s becoming more and more of a threat with his legs. Watson has single-handedly revitalized DeAndre Hopkins career too, and now with Duane Brown returning, he will have more time to throw the ball. Assuming the defense plays well, the Texans have a shot to not only make the playoffs, but scare some people along the way. –Schultz
That’ll do it for this week. Got a question for our crew to kick around? Hit us up at email@example.com with your inquiry, and we’ll see you next week.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Got a comment, tip, or question for a future NFL mailbag? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.