Skip to content

Mutiny of the bounty, Monday edition

nfl_g_brees_payton_300 Getty Images

It’s Monday.  Welcome back to work.  Before the boss starts looking over your shoulder, here’s a chance to get caught up on one of the biggest scandals in NFL history, which the league wisely slipped through the late Friday afternoon five hole.

Right after you turned off your computer and headed home for a weekend of not surfing the Internet on your own time.

You’re likely feeling a little inadequate right now, because you don’t know the details as well as you’d like.  That’s why we’re going to take you on a quick tour of the 29 bounty-related stories that have been posted here since Friday.

Yep, while you weren’t working, we were.

Then again, this really ain’t work.

It all started with a bolt-from-the-blue press release.  The league has concluded that the Saints ran from 2009 through 2011 a system of payments to defensive players for, among other things, inflicting injury on opponents.

Coach Sean Payton knew about the program, and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams administered it.

Bounties fueled the Saints’ 2009 playoff run. The Vikings, who lost to the Saints in the 2009 NFC championship after linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to whoever knocks Brett Favre out of the game, aren’t talking, but plenty of you believe the news taints the Saints’ Super Bowl win.

Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner’s final game included being blown up by former Saints defensive end Bobby McCray a week before the Vikings-Saints playoff.  Warner nevertheless thinks bounties have been part of the NFL for a long time.

The NFL insists Saints owner Tom Benson didn’t know about the bounties.  In what likely will be regarded in time as one of the great sports-related understatements, Benson issued a statement calling the findings “troubling.”

Williams has confessed, even though former Saints safety Darren Sharper apparently didn’t get the memo.  In a statement issued through his new employer, the Rams, Williams called it a “terrible mistake,” and he said “we knew it was wrong while we were doing it.”

Which, by definition, means it wasn’t a mistake.

It’s also harder to accept the notion that it was a mistake, given allegations that Williams apparently ran a bounty program when he worked for the Redskins and the Bills.  The league will investigate the situation in Washington.

Former Colts coach Tony Dungy told PFT on Friday night that the Titans had a bounty on Peyton Manning, whose ongoing neck problems possibly trace to a hit he took from the Redskins in 2006, under Williams.

The league says it’s not aware of bounties in any other cities, and former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs says he didn’t know about any of it in D.C.  This means either that the investigators didn’t ask Williams if he used bounties before his time with the Saints, or that they asked him and he denied it.  Regardless, they’ll be asking Williams about it on Monday.

Speaking of denials, the investigation regarding the Saints nearly died on the vine because everyone involved said it didn’t happen.  Now that the league has found evidence that the bounty program did indeed exist, those who were dishonest to the investigators should face enhanced penalties.

Saints G.M. Mickey Loomis also apparently lied to owner Tom Benson, and Loomis definitely failed to put the practice to an end once Loomis was told to do so by Benson.  The fact that Loomis reportedly won’t be fired for such a flagrant example of insubordination invites speculation that Loomis is simply covering for Benson.

Benson’s own punishment likely will consist of a hefty fine imposed on his team and a forfeiture of draft picks, even though the team traded in 2011 its first-round pick in 2012.  (If the NFL really wants to punish the Saints, the league should take away its franchise tag.)

Lengthy suspensions are expected for Williams, Loomis, and coach Sean Payton, along with multiple players.  The expected absence of key members of the organization as of Week One helps explain the team’s decision to volunteer for the Hall of Fame game, which will give them two extra weeks and one extra preseason game to get ready for the inevitable absence of people like Payton.

A decision on punishment will be made by the March 25 league meetings.  The NFLPA has vowed to review the NFL’s report, but the union has taken no position on the situation, yet.

Some wonder whether a few extra dollars makes a difference to a highly-compensated pro football player.  Apparently, it does.  Which makes cash money the NFL’s equivalent of a helmet sticker.

Of course, helmet stickers don’t constitute taxable income.  Cash money does, and the IRS could start poking around.

Other law-enforcement agencies could get involved as the situation unfolds.  This story is far closer to the beginning than the end, and we’ll be following it every step of the way.

Now, get back to work.

Permalink 80 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Buffalo Bills, Features, Home, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Rumor Mill, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins
yo

Colin Kaepernick calls debate “embarrassing to watch”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) AP

In the week of the first presidential debate, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton but Colin Kaepernick occupied the cover of Time. On Tuesday, Kaepernick was asked if he saw the 98-minute back-and-forth.

I watched a little bit of it,” Kaepernick told reporters, via Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “To me it was embarrassing to watch that these are our two candidates. Both are proven liars and it almost seems they’re trying to debate who’s less racist. At this point . . . you have to pick the lesser of two evils but in the end it’s still evil.”

Plenty of people feel the same way as Kaepernick. Regardless, in a nation of 319 million people, these are our two primary options.

At a time when the country seems to be more divided than ever, we seem to be destined to become even more divided, regardless of the outcome of the election.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

J.J. Watt could miss rest of season with back injury

HOUSTON, TX- OCTOBER 09: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans celebrates an Indianapolis Colts fumble after he returned it for a touchdown in the fourth quarter in a NFL game on October 9, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Football’s top defensive player could be done for the year.

Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt has re-injured his back and is expected to miss significant time, possibly the rest of the season, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

According to the report, the Texans are still gathering information about the injury, which he apparently suffered Thursday night in New England.

Watt was dealing with a back injury throughout the offseason, and after he underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc, there were some reports over the summer that he might not be able to return in time for the beginning of the regular season. He has played all three games this year, but he hasn’t looked like himself.

Now the Texans may be looking at playing the rest of 2016 without the three-time NFL defensive player of the year. That would be a massive loss to the playoff hopes of the team that is currently leading the AFC South.

Permalink 18 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Seahawks look at eight players, but no quarterbacks

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks warms up prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

If Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson can’t play on Sunday with a knee injury, the team apparently will be content to roll the dice with undrafted rookie Trevone Boykin.

On Tuesday, the Seahawks tried out eight players. None were quarterbacks.

Getting look-sees were running backs Bernard Pierce, Kenny Hilliard, Tommy Bohanan, and Darrel Young, defensive back Chimdi Chekwa, receiver Jamel Johnson, linebacker Randell Johnson, and defensive end Rufus Johnson.

Wilson has a sprained MCL. If it’s a low-grade tear, he should be able to play. Coach Pete Carroll has said that Wilson will practice on Wednesday.

The team’s interest in running backs comes from the leg injury suffered nine days ago by Thomas Rawls.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Colts alter routine as they prep for London trip

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 03:  Head coach Chuck Pagano of the Indianapolis Colts talks to his players during the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts held what was basically a walkthrough Tuesday, normally a day off for players.

It’s not a normal week, though, as the Colts play the Jaguars in London Sunday. This marks the fourth straight year the Jaguars will play a home game in London, but the experience is new to the Colts.

“The theme is to keep the main thing the main thing, and that’s preparation, prepare, do everything, try to keep things as normal as possible from a preparation and practice standpoint,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said, per the team’s official transcript. “You have to make a few adjustments here and there, but at the end of the day it’s focus and mindset on one thing and one thing only, and that is getting win No. 2.”

The Colts, who rallied to beat the Chargers last Sunday, will fly to London Thursday evening and practice after arriving Friday morning. Pagano said the team kept things light Tuesday but felt that using the day to begin prepping for the Jaguars was necessary given the circumstances.

“We are just coming off a really physical and mental-draining game, as you know,” he said. “We had really good, long meetings, [an] introduction to Jacksonville. We will amp it up tomorrow. We will amp it up Thursday.”

Sunday’s game kicks off at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cardinals try out several punters and long snappers

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Punter Drew Butler #2 of the Arizona Cardinals walks off the field following the NFL game against the New England Patriots at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots defeated the Cardinals 23-21.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals will be adding a long snapper this week. They also plan to add a punter, too.

Per a league source, the Cardinals worked out Tim Masthay, Michael Palardy, and Ryan Quigley on Tuesday. Whoever gets the job will serve as the short-term solution while Drew Butler (pictured) recovers from an Achilles injury.

With Kameron Canady released, the Cardinals also tried out long snappers Tyler Ott and Aaron Brewer.

The next punter could have a chance to give Butler the boot; he is averaging a career-low 40.3 yards per punt in 2016, along with a career-low 33.7-yard net.

Butler will still serve as the holder. Botch field-goal attempts fueled by bad snaps have marred both of Arizona’s losses in 2016.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Lions bring back Aaron Dobson

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01:  Aaron Dobson #17 of the New England Patriots looks on during warm ups prior to Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s not quite the full-blown 54-man roster trick, because receiver Aaron Dobson still isn’t a vested veteran and must pass through waivers. Still, Dobson is emerging as the early bottom-of-roster option in Detroit for player who is cut in order to create a roster spot for a position of need and then re-signed the following week.

That’s precisely what the Lions have done with Dobson, waiving him last week and bringing him back this week.

A second-round pick of the Patriots in 2013, Dobson was cut by the Patriots as the 2016 rosters reduced to 53.

Some teams will cut a vested veteran last in a given week, allowing a practice-squad player to be promoted for game day. Then, the vested veteran will be resigned the following week, getting full pay for both weeks.

Per a league source, the Lions also kicked tires on Tuesday on four other players: defensive end Quinton Coples, linebacker Bjoern Werner, and tight ends Justice Cunningham and Adrien Robinson. None were signed.

Copies and Werner are former first-round picks who currently are looking for their next NFL opportunities. The Lions have a need at pass rusher, given the ankle injury suffered in Week Two by Ziggy Ansah.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bears signing defensive lineman C.J. Wilson

CJWilson Getty Images

The Bears are signing defensive tackle C.J. Wilson, his agents announced on Twitter.

Wilson, 29, spent time with the Raiders and Lions last season. He was released by the Saints in August.

He’s a veteran of 78 career games and 19 starts, and he’ll have a chance to contribute immediately on a Bears defense that’s dealing with multiple injury issues.

Wilson was part of a Bears tryout Tuesday that included running back Joique Bell, tackles Clay DeBord, Colin Kelly, and Arturo Uzdavinis, guard Austin Shepherd and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga. The Bears signed Bell to the active roster and signed Kelly to the practice squad.

The Packers selected Wilson in the seventh round of the 2010 draft and he played his first four seasons in Green Bay. He has 6.5 career sacks.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Collins says he’ll rest for now, surgery decision will come later

La'el Collins AP

Cowboys guard La’El Collins told reporters Tuesday that he plans to rest his injured toe for two weeks before a decision is made on whether he needs surgery.

Collins has torn ligaments in his right big toe. He was placed on injured reserve Monday, but he’ll eligible to return in eight weeks if he’s healed and up to speed. Collins is wearing a protective boot and undergoing treatment in hopes the injury will heal without surgery.

There had been conflicting reports on whether or not surgery would be necessary, and also whether an eventual decision would be dictated by how much pain Collins could tolerate or if the injury would heal in time for a return this season.

Ronald Leary will move into the starting lineup at left guard.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Panthers sign Michael Griffin

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 28:  Free safety Michael Griffin #33 of the Tennessee Titans in action during the preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on August 28, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers have made a veteran addition to their secondary.

The team announced Tuesday that they have signed former Titans safety Michael Griffin. Griffin was released by the Titans in February and signed with the Vikings in March, but didn’t make Minnesota’s roster coming out of the preseason.

Griffin, a 2007 first-round pick, played 141 games for the Titans over nine years with the organization. He was a two-time Pro Bowler during his run in Tennessee, but his play had slipped by the end of his time with the team.

He’ll join Kurt Coleman, Tre Boston and Colin Jones in Carolina with Dean Marlowe on injured reserve and Marcus Ball getting waived to make room for Griffin.

The Panthers also confirmed the signing of defensive tackle Kyle Love, who will help fill in for the injured Vernon Butler, and announced that defensive end Ryan Delaire is headed to injured reserve with a knee injury.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Get to know Zachary Orr

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 11: Linebacker Zach Orr #54 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates in the first half of the Buffalo Bills vs. the Baltimore Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens have one new first-year starter in 2016: Linebacker Zachary Orr. The undrafted free agent from North Texas in 2014 has made the most of the assignment, leading the team in tackles and notching the game-clinching interception to seal Sunday’s win at Jacksonville.

Orr joined PFT Live on Tuesday to discuss his team’s performance to date, the moment when he realized he belongs on the field with the rest of the Baltimore defense, and the strong temptation to keep running with the ball after he picked it off, in an effort to score a touchdown in a game the Ravens led by only two points.

Get to know him now, because based on the way he’s playing you’ll be hearing his name a lot more frequently throughout the rest of the season, and beyond.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cardinals dump Kameron Canaday two days after botched snap

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25:  Head Coach Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals watches his team warm up before the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on September 25, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made no attempt to hide his anger about long snapper Kameron Canaday launching a snap too high for holder Drew Butler to corral on a field goal attempt during last Sunday’s 33-18 loss to the previously winless Bills.

“Grow the hell up,” Arians said, via the Associated Press. “It has nothing to do with anything but what’s between his ears.”

The Bills returned the botched snap for a touchdown and the Cardinals will have a new player doing the snapping when they host the Rams in Week Four. The team announced Tuesday that they have waived Canaday.

The 1-2 Cardinals made a few other roster moves. They waived 2016 fifth-round pick Marqui Christian after the safety was inactive for the first three games of the season and placed tight end Troy Niklas on injured reserve due to a wrist injury.

Arizona promoted tight end Ifeanyi Momah from the practice squad, leaving them with two open roster spots. One will likely go to a punter as Butler has ankle and Achilles issues that will keep him from punting this week, although he is able to serve as a holder.

Assuming, of course, the new Cardinals snapper is able to get the ball to him.

Permalink 22 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

MNF ratings hit all-time low

gettyimages-90902414-1024x576 Getty Images

More than 80 million watched the presidential debate on Monday night. For every 10 debate viewers, one watched Monday Night Football.

Via Richard Deitsch of SI.com, only 8.047 million watched the Falcons-Saints game. Based on numbers published Monday by SportsBusiness Daily, that’s the smallest total TV viewership in the 46-year history of the franchise.

Given the intense interest in the presidential campaign and shrinking prime-time viewership in eight of nine evening games played this year (relative to the same slots in 2015), it’s mildly surprising the total audience wasn’t even lower than that.

The NFL will try to rebound in Week Four, with the NFL Network-only broadcast of Dolphins-Bengals on Thursday night, Chiefs-Steelers on Sunday night, and Giants-Vikings on Monday night.

Permalink 45 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Bears putting Kyle Fuller on IR

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 01:   Kyle Fuller #23 of the Chicago Bears carries the football ahead of  Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings after making an interception in the second quarter at Soldier Field on November 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The injury hits keep on coming for the Bears.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that cornerback Kyle Fuller is headed to injured reserve. Fuller has not played in the first three weeks of the season after having his knee scoped in August and will now miss at least the next eight games while on I.R.

The Bears already have cornerback Brandon Boykin and linebacker Lamarr Houston on injured reserve while defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, linebacker Danny Trevathan and cornerback Bryce Callahan missed Monday night’s game with injuries. Linebacker Pernell McPhee is on the PUP list and not eligible to join the team at practice or in games until after Week Six.

On the offensive side, quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Jeremy Langford are both injured while projected center Hroniss Grasu went on injured reserve before the season started.

Once Callahan is cleared to return, he’ll join Tracy Porter, Cre’von LeBlanc, Deiondre Harris, Sherrick McManis and Jacoby Glenn as active members of an underwhelming cornerback corps in Chicago.

The Bears are reportedly signing former Lions running back Joique Bell. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that the team is also waiving linebacker Jonathan Anderson and tight end Greg Scruggs with linebacker John Timu getting bumped up from the practice squad.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Redskins sign John Sullivan, place Kory Lichtensteiger on IR

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 13:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins celebrates with  Kory Lichtensteiger #78 of the Washington Redskins after Lichtensteiger recovered a fumble against the Dallas Cowboys on October 13, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

The word early on Tuesday was that Redskins center Kory Lichtensteiger might be headed to injured reserve due to a calf injury that coach Jay Gruden initially called “moderate” and that’s exactly what’s come to pass later in the day.

Lichtensteiger has been placed on injured reserve and the Redskins have announced the signing of former Vikings center John Sullivan. Sullivan worked out for the team earlier in the day.

Sullivan was a six-year starter for the Vikings before missing all of last season with a back injury. He will join Spencer Long as options for the Redskins with Lichtensteiger out of the lineup. The team will also be waiting to see if left guard Shawn Lauvao will be able to play after he hurt his ankle in the victory over the Giants.

The Redskins also officially placed safety DeAngelo Hall on injured reserve Tuesday because of a torn ACL. Defensive lineman Vinston Painter was signed off the practice squad to fill the open roster spot.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bills release kickoff specialist

ORCHARD PARK, NY - AUGUST 28:  Jordan Gay #4 of the Buffalo Bills warms up before the preseason game againt the Detroit Lions at Ralph Wilson Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills released kickoff specialist Jordan Gay on Tuesday.

No corresponding roster move was announced. The move was probably made to create a roster spot for later in the week when the Bills know more about the status of some of their injured players.

Gay had been with the Bills since 2014. He handled the kickoffs in two games this season.

The Bills also made two practice squad moves, adding wide receiver Ed Eagan and center Terran Vaughn to their practice squad and cutting linebacker Carlos Fields and safety Damian Parms.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top