Dolphins investigation, Deshaun decision among 5 biggest post-draft storylines

Now that the 2022 NFL Draft is in the rearview, the next big milestone on the NFL calendar is the start of training camp. But that doesn’t mean the next three months will be quiet. Football is a 12-month — or at the very least, 11 — sports. There will be plenty of NFL news and storylines to fill airtime and news space between now and then. The ones with the most gravity will likely include situations revolving around the Miami Dolphins and the Washington Commanders, as well as what’s next for Deshaun Watson.

NFL News: Top 5 Post-Draft Storylines

Drama on the field and off is the lifeblood of the NFL. And there will be plenty over the next few months, including intrigue that reaches the highest levels of power.

Miami Dolphins, Washington Commanders scandals

Mary Jo White has a lot on her plate.

The league’s favorite independent investigator has been tasked with looking at three messy situations at least: The Washington Commanders’ multi-pronged scandal and whether the Miami Dolphins’ and Cleveland Browns’ ownership pressured their former coaches to lose.

We could write thousands of words on the situation in DC alone, but here’s a short summary:

The federal government is looking into the Commanders’ alleged toxic workplace environment and whether the club, in the words of the House Oversight Committee, “engaged in a troubling, long-running and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct that victimized thousands of team fans and the National Football League.”

Meanwhile, the fallout from the Brian Flores lawsuit continues. The league has asked White to look into whether Dolphins owner Stephen Ross tried to bribe Flores, his former coach, to lose games in 2019. She’s also investigating related allegations by former Browns coach Hue Jackson that Cleveland incentivized losing during his time there.

The Dolphins and Browns have both denied wrongdoing. There is no timetable for White’s investigations, and they all could run through the summer.

What’s next for Deshaun Watson?

Speaking of long-running NFL inquiries, there is still no clarity on whether the league will allow new Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson to appear in all 17 regular-season games in 2022. While Watson has been cleared criminally, there are still nearly two-dozen active sexual misconduct lawsuits against him, along with an NFL inquiry into his behavior.

“We’re taking it very seriously,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on ESPN during the draft. “Our investigators are working on that. … There’s no timetable on it. … The investigation is still ongoing.”

Even though he will not be charged, Watson could still be subject to suspension under the league’s personal conduct policy. The league and the players union have asked former US District Court Judge Sue Robinson to decide whether Watson violated that policy once the investigation is over.

Considering the slow-moving legal process, that decision might not come before opening day.

Will Mayfield, Garoppolo, and Samuel get traded?

Baker Mayfield, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Deebo Samuel all want out of their respective situations. None were traded during draft weekend, and there’s no reason to believe that any will be dealt any time soon.

Garoppolo’s ailing shoulder and big contract have been roadblocks for the San Francisco 49ers. But the Niners are determined not to simply cut him (even though doing so would clear more than $20 million in cap space).

“We’ve said all along it’s going to take the right deal to get us to move him,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Friday. “And he’s part of our team right now. And so we’re excited about that. We look at the totality of that position, and we feel really good about it right now. We’re extremely excited about Trey [Lance]† Excited about Jimmy and Nate Sudfeld. There’s a lot to like about him as well. So we’re excited about that group.”

Lynch is even more dug in on Deebo, who wasn’t moved over the weekend despite a very public desire to be traded. The Niners fielded trade offers for San Fran’s do-everything wide receiver, but in the words of coach Kyle Shanahan, “nothing was even remotely close.”

As for Mayfield, his best chance to get dealt to the Panthers vanished on Friday when Carolina and Cleveland couldn’t agree on money. The Panthers wanted the Browns to eat a sizable chunk of his $18.9 million salary. That didn’t happen. So instead, the Panthers drafted Matt Corral in Round 3.

The Browns should have taken the deal. Now, they’re probably going to have to cut Mayfield outright (and eat his entire salary) or keep him on the roster and ask him to stay away (which is what the Texans did with Watson last year).

Denver Broncos sale

There’s even more for the poobahs on Park Avenue to juggle. The next round of bidding for ownership of the Denver Broncos is expected in the coming days.

The sales price, which is expected to top $4 billion, hasn’t scared off the likes of Walmart heir Rob Walton, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils co-owner Josh Harris, and Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly. All three are expected to be among the five investment groups that make a bid on the 62-year-old franchise, which is currently owned by the Pat Bowlen Trust.

Walton, with an estimated fortune of some $70 billion, has the deepest pockets of any known potential buyer.

Will Gronk retire?

While the rest of the NFL was busy picking players over the weekend, Rob Gronkowski was having the time of his life just down the road.

He hosted the Gronk Beach party in Las Vegas Friday, and during the fiesta, he made a bit of news in an interview with TMZ — if the future Hall of Fame tight end does return for a 12th season, it’ll only be with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bucs are leaving the light on for him.

“I’m still giving him that time,” Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht said Friday night, prior to the Bucs selecting Washington tight end Cade Otton in Round 4. “I think it didn’t matter if we drafted two tight ends. It wouldn’t matter. I think Rob welcomes that; the more the merrier for him. So that doesn’t show our hand or foretell what’s going to happen in the future.”

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