Brandin Cooks

Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson interested in Antonio Brown as teammate

Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson interested in Antonio Brown as teammate

Around and around we go.

Almost any other wide receiver who burned as many bridges as Antonio Brown has over the last two years never would draw interest from another NFL team ever again. But due to his tantalizing talent and prolific production, he continues to get the benefit of the doubt.

He doesn't deserve it, but it's understandable. Forget receivers, when Brown is on the field, there are few offensive players more frightening for defensive coordinators. Of course, he also has proven himself to be a nightmare for his own coaches. Thus is the risk/reward factor he presents.

Despite his risk far outweighing the reward as of late, interest in Brown doesn't appear to be waning. 

Back in May, it was reported that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson "would love" to add Brown to his receiving corps. A little more than a month later, the two were connecting on routes on a practice field.

Yes, that is a Raiders helmet that Brown is wearing. How'd his time in Oakland go, again? But I digress...

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Wilson doesn't appear to be the only star quarterback interested in adding Brown to his roster. After former NFL receiver Chad Johnson took to Twitter to express his preference for Brown to join the Texans, Houston QB Deshaun Watson didn't exactly pour cold water on the idea.

The Texans were on the wrong end of one of the more one-sided trades in recent memory this offseason when they questionably sent standout receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. Houston did acquire Brandin Cooks from the Los Angeles Rams, but perhaps Watson believes his receiving corps is missing an ingredient.

[RELATED: 49ers don't need Brown to be favorites, but Seahawks might]

If Brown is signed -- which is a big if -- it's unlikely he would be able to play much at all this coming season, regardless of which team signed him. A trio of Personal Conduct Policy investigations must be concluded before he can sign with a team, and even if all that is settled, it is widely expected that he would be facing a lengthy suspension upon rejoining the league.

Do you trust Brown to behave through that entire process? At this point, it's difficult to understand why anyone would. But clearly, some players still feel the risk is worth the reward.

49ers should benefit from Rams' poor choices, Jalen Ramsey extension

49ers should benefit from Rams' poor choices, Jalen Ramsey extension

The Los Angeles Rams are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and it's unlikely to get any more comfortable any time soon.

Forget the fact that they've been passed up by the 49ers and the rest of the NFC West. Ignore the fact that they're spending nearly $30 million in dead money this coming season to have running back Todd Gurley and receiver Brandin Cooks play for other teams. Gloss over the fact that quarterback Jared Goff might have the most burdensome contract in the NFL. Overlook the fact that they rank dead last in available cap space, and pay no mind to the fact that the Rams don't have a first-round pick in next year's draft.

Instead, let's focus on the move that arguably put them in such a terrible position, and likely will keep them there for several seasons to come.

Make no mistake, Jalen Ramsey is an amazing player. He might be the best cornerback in all of football, which is why it cost Los Angeles such a pretty penny to acquire him last season. To get him, the Rams sent their 2020 and 2021 first-round draft picks and a 2021 fourth-round selection to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags never intended to sign Ramsey to the lucrative contract extension he surely would command, which was the main impetus in trading him. The Rams appeared ready to do what Jacksonville would not, particularly considering all the value they gave up in trading for Ramsey.

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Well, the time to pay the piper is fast approaching, and it doesn't sound like the Rams should be expecting any sort of a discount.

"The Rams know where I stand," Ramsey said Tuesday on a video conference call with reporters (H/T ESPN's Lindsey Thiry). "I think that's all that matters at the end of the day. It will be handled. They know where I stand. They've been in contact with my agent. They're on the same page as my agent."

"I feel like everybody knew what type of situation it was gonna be once they traded for me," Ramsey added, "so I think it doesn't really need to be talked about that much. It'll get handled."

Ramsey's next contract is expected to reset the cornerback market, and deservedly so. He has all of the leverage, as Los Angeles cannot afford to let him go. They don't want to, but the hefty annual salary they'll be forced to pay Ramsey inevitably will make it much tougher to fill out the rest of their roster.

"The anticipation was to acquire him with the hope that he's a Ram for a long time," Los Angeles coach Sean McVay told reporters. "You want to figure out, 'How do we get him taken care of the way that he deserves and still make sure we're mindful of the entire team?"

McVay is considered one of the brightest minds in all of football, but even he is going to be extremely challenged to solve that quandary. The Rams can't afford to let Ramsey go, but they can't really afford to pay him, either. The most likely outcome is that they ultimately sign Ramsey to a record-breaking extension, but upon doing so, they'll be squeezed even tighter than they already are.

Los Angeles had its window. The Rams took their shot, and they missed. Trading what they did for a player of Ramsey's quality is far more defensible than giving an unproven Goff $110 million guaranteed, but combined -- along with some other moves that backfired -- they appear likely to put the Rams in the NFC West cellar, and to keep them there for the foreseeable future. 

[RELATED: 49ers stand to benefit from Seahawks' questionable moves]

The 49ers' division currently is considered perhaps the toughest in the NFL. But thanks to the Rams shooting themselves in the foot, that could change relatively soon.

49ers' top players cost less combined than Rams' dead-money payments

49ers' top players cost less combined than Rams' dead-money payments

The Los Angeles Rams are paying $42 million in dead money to have running back Todd Gurley and receiver Brandin Cooks play for other teams moving forward.

Just let that sit there for a second.

Now, consider what good a team could do with $42 million. Like, for instance, the 49ers.

Reddit user u/N7_anonymous_guy recently delved into this topic, and boy did it paint an ugly picture for Los Angeles. For less than the $42 million the Rams are paying in dead money, the 49ers can afford the base salaries of: quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive linemen Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa, linebackers Kwon Alexander, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw; safety Jimmie Ward, tight end George Kittle and receiver Deebo Samuel.

Oh, and "better logo+uniforms."

Yikes.

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Clearly, the Rams are paying the price for some regrettable decisions, whereas San Francisco has comparatively done a better job managing the cap. To be fair, though, some of the aforementioned 49ers players are due for imminent raises, and the difference isn't as stark when incorporating cap holds.

For instance, Garoppolo has a cap hold of $26.6 million and Sherman's is just under $14 million. So, really, for the same amount the Rams are paying in dead money for Gurley and Cooks, the 49ers can afford the cap holds of Jimmy G, Sherman and Kittle ($2.2 million).

Even so, that's pretty good.

Of course, Kittle's cap hold will balloon soon enough, but part of the reason the Niners will be able to afford his record-breaking extension is due to the forward-thinking with which they've approached the salary cap. They built through the draft, hit on their high-salaried players and haven't depleted their assets.

[RELATED: 49ers could draft, develop Kinlaw into dominant D-lineman]

Meanwhile, the Rams are in salary cap hell, have a barren draft pick arsenal and several of their marquee players have been cut or traded as a result.

The Rams are well aware that it's incredibly tough to win in the NFL. But they're about to learn that it's that much tougher when you're paying players to play somewhere else.