Neil Reynolds Preseason Mailbag

The first full Sunday of the 2021 NFL season is drawing ever closer and I've opened up the mailbag for the first of what will be a weekly feature every Friday during the new campaign. So let's see what's on your minds as we race towards opening weekend.

How was the Matthew Stafford/Jared Goff trade a positive for the Lions? They got the guy who froze in the Super Bowl! – Barny (@BashyUK)

I'm not sure it was a positive with regards to the 2021 season. I just don't think Jared Goff is the kind of quarterback who is going to get head coach Dan Campbell's juices flowing. I have often wondered about the 'it' factor when it comes to Goff and now he is in a situation where the supporting cast in Detroit is dubious, to say the least

The value for the Lions likely comes in the form of the picks that will accelerate a needed rebuild in the coming years. The Rams were desperate to get Goff off their books, giving the Lions a third-rounder in 2021 and first-rounders in the 2022 and 2023 NFL Drafts.

With that in mind, it is not that disastrous if Goff doesn't pan out. They gained three draft picks to kick his tyres. If he fails, they can and will move on. If I were a gambling man, which I'm not, I would expect the Lions to have a new quarterback in place by 2023.

Is Tua ready? - @vicki_layton

He has certainly looked more assured and more adventurous during the preseason. And the Dolphins have invested in more talent around their first-round pick from a year ago. But the jury is definitely out and the likeable sophomore has much to prove in 2021.

It cannot have helped Tua's confidence or cause to know that the Dolphins were dipping their toe into the Deshaun Watson waters and that owner Stephen Ross was reportedly keen on the superstar quarterback from Houston.

We'll find out early if Tua is up to the task because Miami open at New England, home to Buffalo, at Las Vegas, home to Indianapolis and at Tampa Bay before their trip to London to face the Jags. By the time Tua lands in the UK, he will be well on his way or beginning to feel the heat. The fact I don't know which it will be suggests Tua has much work to do.

Is Cam Newton finished as a starter now? Will he accept a backup role anywhere? – Pats88 (@roonboyz08)

I can see Cam being out of the NFL for a few weeks now, given that Dallas and Washington – two expected landing spots – expressed no interest for the time being. Cam is only 32 and has time on his side, but he may have to wait for an injury to get back in.

There are two major problems facing Cam, in my mind. One, he is such a massive character that he could potentially become a distraction or a threat to an existing starter. So that kind of makes teams think twice about bringing him on board as a reserve. Number two, he is not actually that good when you look at his recent form and I wonder if he can ever get close to replicating his MVP form of 2015.

Will the Browns and OBJ finally click? – Gav (@88gav)

I've never been one of these who has bought into the theory that the Cleveland Browns are better off when Odell Beckham Jr. is not on the field because it allows Baker Mayfield to spread the ball around more. Suggest such a notion to Mayfield and other Brownies and you would get laughed out of the room.

OBJ is a special talent. On his day, he can be the best and most explosive receiver in football. But he is coming off a serious knee injury, forcing him to be sidelined for the final nine regular season games and the playoffs.

But OBJ did record a 1,000-yard season in his first year in Cleveland in 2019. I think he – and the rest of us – have to accept he will just be a part of this offense in 2021, alongside Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and Jarvis Landry. OBJ doesn't need to be the star on every down, but just imagine how good this attack will be if he does come back humming?

Which rookie quarterback's team goes the furthest this year? – Kevin Robinson

I think it will actually be the team of a rookie quarterback who starts the year on the sidelines and that is the San Francisco 49ers. While Jimmy Garoppolo gets the nod on opening weekend, I would not be surprised to see Trey Lance running the offense by the end of October. The Niners are talented enough to go deep into the NFC playoffs.

We may see Lance get mixed in here and there over the first half of the season, but the Niners have too much invested him to leave the rookie occupying the bench. It's going to be the same with Justin Fields in Chicago as I see him supplanting Andy Dalton around the same time.

Of those we know are starting in Week 1 (Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville, Zach Wilson in New York and Mac Jones in New England), I believe Jones is going to be in the best situation. Lawrence and Wilson are going to impress on a personal level and prove to be the real deals, but their teams still have a long way to go.

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