NFL Insider Adam Schefter Talks Patriots, Browns and Who to Take First In Fantasy
ESPN's top NFL reporter also shares why he always has two phones on him
When the NFL announced earlier this month that Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill would not be suspended for violating the league’s personal conduct policy related his three-year-old son’s broken arm, many fans, football pundits and even reporters were surprised.
ESPN’s top NFL insider, Adam Schefter, was not one of them. While most outlets were relying on second-hand information, Schefter had been hearing for weeks from his sources that the league was leaning towards declining to hand down any discipline in the Hill case.
“Behind closed doors, I think there was a real sense this was the direction it was going to go,” Schefter tells InsideHook. “I know the public has heard certain versions of the story. I think there’s a lot more to the story. The league couldn’t find any evidence that Tyreek Hill did what he was accused of doing and the league has been in the business of disciplining a lot of different players for incidents that are much less severe and serious than this one. But in this particular case, the league ultimately felt like this was the right course of action.”
Thanks to that ruling, the Chiefs will have Hill on the field again, but Schefter is less sure if Kansas City’s top rivals, the New England Patriots, will have two of their top weapons, Rob Gronkowski (retirement) and Josh Gordon (suspension), back this season.
“I don’t think they can count on that,” Schefter says of rumors that Gronkowski will return to the Pats. “I think there’s always a chance, but you have to proceed right now as if he’s not going to be there. And if he does come back, all the better. But my guess would be right now that doesn’t seem to be the direction it’s moving. I know a lot of people are waiting for that, maybe later in the season he’ll feel differently. I still think it’s very early to ask that question. Once training camp opens, we’ll see how much he misses it and how much he does or doesn’t desire to come back to it.”
And the prospects of Gordon being reinstated? “I honestly don’t know,” Schefter says.
As for other Patriots-related matters like Tom Brady’s contract, which is up after this season, Schefter does have a little more insight.
“I think that at some point New England would want to revisit that,” Schefter says of a Brady contract extension. “He’s a great bargain and he’s as valuable as any player in football. He’s arguably the greatest player of all time so you’d think New England would want to lock him up as long as he wants to continue playing beyond this year. So, if he wants that deal, I’m sure they’ll get that deal done.”
Whether they do or not, odds are the Patriots are going to pretty good and that won’t be much of a surprise. There are a few teams that might be though.
“I think San Francisco is going to be more competitive than people realize,” Schefter says. “I think the Jets are going to be more competitive than people realize. I think Baltimore will be more competitive than people realize.”
Despite all the hype they’ve recieved, Schefter is less sure how Baltimore’s rivals in the AFC North, the Cleveland Browns, will fare this season.
“There’s so much hope and so much anticipation for Cleveland at this point in time that it may be tough for the Browns to meet expectations. And I don’t know that I’ve ever uttered a sentence like that before,” Schefter says. “But that’s kind of where we’re at. They’ve made so many high-profile moves and brought in so many high-profile players. Now it’s a question of whether the coaches can bring these guys all together and make it work. If they can, it should be a great football season. There’s a lot of hope and excitement, with good reason. You just hope that the team can live up to it.”
One thing Schefter, who will be on the road with ESPN’s Monday Night Football this season and be part of Monday Night Countdown, is a little more sure of is what he’ll be doing with his Tuesdays after working on MNF.
“I’m really looking forward to doing Monday Night Countdown,” Schefter says. “It’s an honor to be included in a great group. I’ve spent 10 years at ESPN and really haven’t gone on the road at all other than the Super Bowl and the Combine. So, to get the chance to be face to face with people like I’ll have this season, I’m fired up about that. And then when I get home on Tuesday, I’ll go get myself some Buffalo Wild Wings.”
But they aren’t going to be spicy ones.
“I’m a medium guy,” Schefter says. “My wife makes fun me all the time that I’m a very plain guy. For me, I’m not looking for a lot of sauce, I’m a traditional, medium-sauce kind of guy and I’m sure there are a lot of plain people out there like myself.”
Whether it’s on the set of MNF or the next day eating his medium wings, Schefter will have his signature cell phones with him. That’s phones – plural.
“You never know if one battery is going to go dead,” he explains of the need for both cells. “They’re two different carriers, so you never know if you’re going to get reception in one area … you never know if you’re going to lose one. I have one primary line, one secondary line, I don’t really know the secondary-line number that well. But sometimes I’ll have the phone up against my ear as I’m typing a story on the other phone. So there’s a lot of different reasons to have two phones. It’s not something I ever anticipated or thought would happen, but that’s sort of the way my professional world has evolved. I’m a two-phone guy just like I’m a medium-sauce guy.”
Not everyone is aware of it, but the 52-year-old is also a diehard fantasy player. That being the case, we asked him who he’d be taking at No. 1.
“There are four players worthy of going one: Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara,” Schefter says. “I think with the way that Barkley played last year, I probably would give him but edge, but I’ve seen drafts where Zeke has gone No. 1 or Kamara’s gone No. 1. and I don’t have a problem with that. You can make an argument for any of these guys. My plan would be to take Saquon, but I’m happy with any of those four backs right now.”
So, Mr. NFL insider, are there any sleepers that have come across your radar?
“With the unsettled situation in Los Angeles with the Chargers, I think Justin Jackson could be a guy that would be valuable this year depending on the Melvin Gordon situation,” Schefter says. There’s going to be injuries this summer and somebody’s going to emerge. When you ask for sleepers, I just think about who the good players are. And there are a lot of good players. Devin Singletary in Buffalo is a good running back if he gets a chance behind LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore. We’ll see how the year goes. That will be a guy that I would look at. A lot of people seem to like DJ Moore [Carolina Panthers] this year. I don’t think he’s much of a sleeper, but he’s a mid-round pick probably, around the fourth or fifth round or so. Dante Pettis [San Francisco 49ers] is another guy … people like him.”
Just not as much as Schefter likes medium-sauce wings.
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