Former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker joins Mike Florio to discuss why the Steelers released Hines Ward and where he could end up. They also talk about the future of Peyton Hillis and how much the Saints may be willing to pay Drew Brees.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: What will happen to Hines Ward?
Thirteen years ago, quarterback Eli Manning successfully avoided playing in San Diego, thanks to a campaign launched and sustained by his father, Archie. Three months from now, could quarterback Deshaun Watson do the same when it comes to Cleveland?
Maybe, at a time when the Media Draft Machine is shaming Watson for choosing to rest on his performance against Alabama over spending a week in Alabama potentially making this worse instead of better, Watson simply doesn’t want to play for the Browns. If that’s how he feels, who could blame him?
It’s not a knock on the Browns. It’s a knock on a system that prevents players from deciding where they will live, who they will work with, and which organization they will provide services to. Incoming college football players get to pick their schools. Incoming pro football players should get to pick their teams.
They don’t, but some have a lot more leverage than others. If a quarterback isn’t all in, an NFL team shouldn’t want him. Maybe Watson hopes that the Browns will get the message — without him having to deliberately send it.
Peter King of TheMMQB.com addressed the issue on Monday based on the assumption that Watson wants (and should want) to play for the Browns. With the difference in the money not nearly as significant as it used to be at the various spots at the top of the draft, maybe he’d prefer to play for Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers or some other team in the top 10 that needs a quarterback.
Rarely does an incoming quarterback make his desire to avoid a given team obviously known. Five years ago, Robert Griffin III had no desire to be drafted by the Colts. While the Colts may never have changed their minds about Andrew Luck, the lack of any effort by Griffin to get the Colts to think twice made it a no-brainer.
Maybe Watson would rather not play for the Browns. And maybe the best play for both sides is to be subtle and discreet about it. The last thing the Browns need is Watson launching an Eli-style anti-Browns campaign, and the last thing Watson needs is the Browns and others publicly or privately wagging a finger at him and possibly causing him to go a lot lower than No. 2.
That’s a long way to get to the point of this post. Do you think Watson should try to avoid the Browns? Cast a vote below in Tuesday’s PFT Live question of the day.
Fitzgerald is not taking part due to an injury.
Baldwin is the first Seattle wide receiver to play in the Pro Bowl since Brian Blades in 1989. He tied Bobby Engram’s franchise record with 94 receptions and set a career-high with 1,128 yards this season. He’s just the fifth receiver in Seahawks’ history to record consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown won’t be doing any Facebook Live broadcasts from the locker room or practice sessions or elsewhere at the Pro Bowl.
Brown is out and Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas is in. For Thomas, it’s his fifth straight Pro Bowl appearance. He joins tight end Shannon Sharpe and safety Steve Atwater as the only players in team history to make it to the Pro Bowl at least five times in a row. (Sharpe and Atwater made it seven times each.)
The Broncos now have six Pro Bowlers. The game will be played Sunday in Orlando.
And, yes, people will watch it. Because it’s on TV.
A draft analyst looking to pass along some of the scuttlebutt from the Senior Bowl got more than he bargained for on Monday, when Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips decided to fire back on Twitter at a report suggesting that Phillips was responsible for the rift between the Denver offense and defense in 2016.
“Your sources about me and dividing the team are an out and out lie,” Phillips said in response to the report. “I resent [you] saying that — ask any off coach or player.”
The forceful nature of Phillips’ reaction invited further digging. A source with knowledge of the situation said that there’s no truth to the notion that Phillips caused division within the team. He was, and still is, loved by the players.
While the source also said the split between the two sides was amicable, with Phillips wanting to move to L.A., where his daughter lives, there were other factors at play. Defensive backs coach Joe Woods was starting to become a hot name for potential defensive coordinator jobs; the Broncos didn’t want to lose him to another team. (Because Woods was still under contract, the Broncos could have blocked him. They believed the better course was to ensure he got his promotion without leaving.)
Also, money was an issue. Not this year, but a year ago. Phillips, per multiple sources, wanted to be the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the NFL after the Broncos won Super Bowl 50. The Broncos resisted, and Phillips entered his contract year with the intent of becoming a coaching free agent.
He did, and now he’s a member of the Rams. The Broncos in turn kept Woods, and both sides are pleased with the outcome.
Attorneys for Bengals cornerback Adam Jones released a statement Monday night after video was released of Jones threatening and using profane language toward police officers who arrested him earlier this month.
Video showed Jones telling an officer he hoped he died and that he would lose his job as Jones was arrested on charges of obstructing official business, disorderly conduct, and assault three weeks ago.
The statement from Fessler, Scheinder and Grimme, LLP, said Jones is “deeply embarrassed and remorseful” and has the utmost respect for police officers. Jones also apologized to the team and its fans.
The Bengals also put out a statement in which the team said it’s extremely disappointed and offered an apology of its own. The team had previously not made any comment on the matter.
The 49ers have received some flak for conducting a coach and G.M. search without the involvement of senior football executives and/or high-level football consultants. The Colts may be getting more of the same.
Per a league source, owner Jim Irsay will be making the G.M. hire on his own.
As a result, the current thinking is that Irsay will lean toward promoting Jimmy Raye III in lieu of finding someone from outside the building, for several reasons. First, Irsay already knows Raye and is comfortable with him. Second, Raye likely would be more inclined to try to make it work with coach Chuck Pagano than an outsider would be.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, it will be easier for Irsay to put Raye and Pagano on equal footing from an accountability standpoint. If they fail, Irsay presses the reset button and starts over. If, in contrast, Irsay made a big splash by hiring someone from the outside, then that G.M. would surely survive the firing of Pagano — making it harder right from the get go to get the two men on the same page.
So why is Irsay engaging in a seemingly traditional search if Raye is the guy? Think back to the 49ers in 2011, who interviewed multiple outsiders before giving the job to Trent Baalke. The process of screening external candidates legitimizes the internal candidate who gets the job, creating the impression that we won some sort of a contest.
The Raiders have announced the hiring of John Pagano as assistant head coach-defense.
Pagano has 21 years of NFL coaching experience and spent the last 15 seasons with the Chargers. He was defensive coordinator the last five seasons, and in two of those seasons the Chargers ranked in the top 10 in total defense.
Raiders Coach Jack Del Rio retained defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., but the addition of Pagano is still considered a significant move for a defense that ranked in the bottom third of the league in total yards, rush defense and pass defense.
Pagano is the brother of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. John Pagano previously worked with Del Rio in New Orleans in 1997.
The early days of the Chargers’ return to L.A. haven’t gone well. There’s now a question as to whether they’ve gone so poorly as to spark a full-fledged case of mover’s regret.
Adam Schefter of ESPN.com recently wrote that the move “angered NFL owners and executives just as much” as it angered folks in San Diego, if not more.
Per the report, the NFL has been “beside itself” regarding the move.
“There are a ton of owners very upset that [the Chargers] moved,” an unnamed source told Schefter, adding that the NFL actually wants the Chargers to move back to San Diego.
While there may be some who believe that the Chargers shouldn’t have moved and who may be pushing that agenda now, the prevailing view in league circles is that it’s a done deal. Indeed, it was a done deal a year ago, when the owners specifically gave the Chargers a 12-month window to move to L.A.
There was no equivocation or hesitation. The die was cast in January 2016, there was never a peep about it being a mistake for the ensuing 12 months, and then the Chargers opted to utilize the right to relocate.
As one source who is very well connected regarding franchise dynamics told PFT in response to the ESPN.com report, “I have heard nothing about it.”
There simply aren’t “a ton of owners” upset about the move. The more likely reality here is that some in the league office are sensing that the Chargers’ move to L.A. is going to be a debacle, and that they want to be able to say “I told you so” if/when the Chargers fail in L.A.
Regardless, the owners had a clear opportunity a year ago to tell Chargers owner Dean Spanos “no” to a move. The owners overwhelmingly allowed the Rams to move right away, and to give the Chargers the ability to do the same more than a year ago.
In the ensuing 12 months, there was never a public or private sense of remorse or regret. Yes, there was a periodic impression that owner Roger Goodell wanted to keep the team in San Diego, but there was never any report with the kind of specificity that has now emerged, far too late for it to matter.
Even if the Chargers would turn tail and return to San Diego, what would they do about a stadium? That’s the problem; the money isn’t available to build a stadium — unless Rams owner Stan Kroenke would be willing to write a very, very large check for exclusive rights to the L.A. market.
Brown led the Bills and set a career high with 149 tackles in 2016. He also had four sacks, two forced fumbles, eight quarterback hits, one interception and 11 tackles for a loss.
He is making his first trip to the Pro Bowl. The Bills now have six players headed to the Jan. 29 Pro Bowl, the most the Bills have had in a single season since 1998.
Gordon missed the final three games of the 2016 season due to hip and knee injuries. His addition to the Pro Bowl indicates he’s been fully cleared and was held out in late December because the Chargers had been eliminated from playoff contention.
Gordon ran for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns in his second season after being kept out of the end zone as a rookie. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry and also had two receiving touchdowns.
Cornerback Casey Hayward is the only other Chargers player headed to the Pro Bowl, which will be played Sunday Jan. 29.
The Browns announced on Monday that they have signed linebacker Jamie Collins to a new four-year contract.
A CBS Sports report last week said the sides were close on a four-year deal. NFL Network reported Monday that the deal is worth $50 million, $26 million guaranteed.
The Browns acquired Collins in a trade before the trade deadline last season. The Patriots traded him figuring they wouldn’t be able to meet his salary demands, and Collins started all eight games he played with the Browns. He had two sacks and a forced fumble in those eight games.
The Browns knew they were going to have pay a steep price to retain Collins, and they hope this new deal that makes him one of the highest-paid linebackers in football will be an important step in their rebuilding process.
“We are going to be aggressive about acquiring talent, and when we had the opportunity to trade for Jamie back in October, it was done with the intent of him becoming a long-term part of our defense,” Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said in a team statement. “Jamie has shown throughout his NFL career that he is a very talented player with a rare skill set that allows him to impact games in a number of ways.”
Had Collins hit the open market in March, he likely would have been one of the most coveted free agents at any position. A second-round pick in 2013, Collins had been a starter since his second year with the Patriots before the trade. He has 12.5 sacks and five interceptions over his four-year career.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees should have made it to the Pro Bowl as part of the original roster. He didn’t. He now has.
The team has announced that Brees will replace Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in the Pro Bowl. Ryan has a date with a slightly bigger game in Houston one week later.
It will be the 10th trip to the Pro Bowl for Brees and his ninth with the Saints. He generated more than 5,200 passing yards in 2017, the fifth time in his career he has broken that barrier. (There have been only four other 5,000-yard seasons in league history.) Brees also set an NFL record with 471 completions.
Brees has been performing at a high level for so long that his talents often get taken for granted. In a league that doesn’t have nearly enough great quarterbacks, the quarterback who recently turned 38 definitely will be missed when he’s gone.
Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones unleashed profane tirade on the Cincinnati police officer who arrested him on charges of obstructing official business, disorderly conduct, and assault three weeks ago.
Video from the officer’s car, obtained by TMZ, show Jones repeatedly calling the officer “a b–tch a– ni—-” and seeming to try to intimidate the officer.
“I hope you die tomorrow,” Jones said. “You’re gonna be out of a job tomorrow.”
The officer is not out of a job, but Jones might be soon. The arrest in and of itself was a strike against Jones, who has a significant history of off-field trouble. But when a player’s bad act is caught on video, it makes it much harder for a team to ignore.
There’s also the reality that Jones will turn 34 this year and has a $6.3 million base salary that the Bengals can clear off their books by cutting him. Although Jones started all 16 games in 2016, the Bengals may want to cut him purely for reasons related to age and the salary cap.
So regardless of how the legal case against Jones plays out, it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played his last game in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Police Department probably wouldn’t mind that.
The Bills would like to get all 53 players to a postseason game. They’ll have to settle for roughly 10 percent of that amount playing in the Pro Bowl.
Cornerback Stephon Gillmore has made it to the Pro Bowl, giving the Bills five Pro Bowlers. It’s the most they’ve had since 1998, when the Bills had six.
It’s unclear who Gilmore is replacing; the announcement from the team doesn’t say so. It’s also possible that he’s the second choice behind Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, who won’t be available to attend due to the team qualifying for the Super Bowl.
Gilmore would be wise to find a way out of the game. He’s due to become a free agent in March, and it makes no sense to risk injury as a major payday awaits.
After Brady led the Patriots to yet another Super Bowl, his seventh as their starting quarterback, Blount told reporters in the Patriots’ locker room that he can’t think of any reason anyone would call any other quarterback better.
“He’s the greatest quarterback of all time. People can argue, but I don’t see an argument. He piles on stats and wins and everything on his resume. Obviously he’s going to be a first-ballot hall of famer. As long as you have that guy on your team . . . we’re going to always have a chance,” Blount said.
There are, of course, arguments. There are always arguments when sports fans debate who’s the greatest. Some might choose Otto Graham or Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana or Peyton Manning over Brady.
But Brady is making a stronger and stronger case, at an age when most players are washed up. And against the Falcons, Brady can make his case stronger still. He can become the first quarterback with five Super Bowl rings and the first player to win four Super Bowl MVPs, and he can add to his all-time Super Bowl records for passing yards and passing touchdowns. With each game he’s bolstering his already strong argument.