Latest around the NFL

PFT Live, Segment 1: Drew Brees inches further from a deal with the New Orleans organization and bounty suspension appeals are set for June 18th with Commissioner Goodell. Plus, NFL Network’s Top 100 list. 

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Report: NFL looking at video of Saints practice for possible violations

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Wednesday’s fight at Saints minicamp could lead to more sanctions in an offseason that has been overstuffed with them.

Ian Rapoport of reports that NFL officials have been at Saints headquarters to look at film of the team’s practices this offseason. They are looking for any sign of contact during sessions that prohibit hitting between players. The Seahawks were docked two OTA days this week after the NFL and NFLPA found that there was live contact during practices that were supposed to be free of it.

On Wednesday, the Saints’ practice was halted briefly after linebacker Curtis Lofton and quarterback Chase Daniel came together. According to Rapoport, that spurred the league to start looking at video to look for contact violations. Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt said Thursday that he was confident he and his staff knew the new rules in place governing offseason practices.

“I think everybody understands the CBA rules, some of the things we do are slower now,” Vitt said. “So I think we all need to understand the rules and couldn’t be more happy with where we are now.”

That happiness will likely fade if the Saints get docked practice time for anything that’s gone down on the field in Louisiana.


Latest from PFT Planet

PFT Live, Segment 3: On this edition of PFT Planet, Mike Florio answers fans on who is more valuable – Matt Forte or Ray Rice, who will eventually be the starting QB in Miami and whether Peyton Manning take the Broncos to the postseason.

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Browns don’t need to wait to name starting running back

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On Wednesday, Browns coach Pat Shurmur talked about the timeline for choosing a starting quarterback.

It seems to be just a matter of when, not if, first-round pick Brandon Weeden gets that job. There isn’t any need to play up the suspense when it comes to the guy who will be taking the handoffs from Weeden, however. The Browns didn’t trade up to the third overall pick so that Trent Richardson could watch Montario Hardesty carry the ball.

Shurmur said that it was “probably fair to say” that Richardson was the starting tailback, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal. That’s about as ironclad a guarantee as you’re going to get from a coach about a rookie in June and, barring injury, there’s no reason to believe that Richardson will do anything to change the status of the depth chart between now and the first weekend of the regular season.

On the quarterback front, Ulrich reports that McCoy had a better day than Weeden but Weeden was still running the first-team offense during practice. The Browns minicamp ended on Thursday. They have three more OTAs next week and then it is on to training camp.

Patriots failed to trade Chad Ochocinco, will release him

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Chad Ochocinco is on the way out in New England.

The Patriots attempted to trade Ochocinco and weren’t able to find any takers, and as a result they’ll release him, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Ochocinco’s departure comes after just one season in New England, a season in which he contributed almost nothing to the offense: He caught just 15 passes for 276 yards in 2011.

The 34-year-old Ochocinco, who was once a Pro Bowler with the Bengals and a consistent 1,000-yard receiver, will now become an unrestricted free agent. Given that the Patriots weren’t able to find any takers on the trade market — and given his weak production in New England last season — he’s likely going to find few teams interested in his services in free agency.

Ochocinco joins Terrell Owens, Braylon Edwards and Plaxico Burress as once-productive veteran receivers who are now on the free agent market, and who seem to be viewed as more trouble than they’re worth by most NFL teams.

Kyle Orton: Tony Romo’s the man, but I’m not just a backup


When Kyle Orton signed a three-year contract with the Cowboys, he chose not to compete for a starting job and instead to join a team that had an established starting quarterback in Tony Romo. But Orton says he’s more than just a long-term backup.

Orton, who has started 33 games for the Bears, 33 games for the Broncos and three games for the Chiefs in his NFL career, told that he still sees himself as someone who can start in the NFL.

“I feel like I’ve played good ball in this league, I feel I’ve got a lot of good ball left in me,” Orton said. “I don’t see this as committing myself to be the backup. I’m just committing myself to be a part of the team.”

Orton was also careful to say, however, that he’s not looking to unseat Romo as the starter in Dallas.

“Tony’s the man, you know? There ain’t no doubt about it,” Orton said. “He’s played great football. He’s a great quarterback. So I’m excited. It’s really the first time I’ve been around another veteran in my career. I’ve done a lot of learning with young guys in the room. I can still learn a lot about football, and hopefully I can help him out in any way I can.”

For the 29-year-old Orton, it’s not too late to become a starter in the NFL some day. But if becoming a starter is his top priority, he’s going to have to be patient. Because right now he’s locked into the No. 2 spot on the Cowboys’ depth chart.

Brian Banks gets invite to Seahawks minicamp


Pete Carroll said that if the Seahawks liked what they saw in Brian Banks’ tryout on Thursday, they’d extend him an invitation to their minicamp.

Carrol has proven to be a man of his word. Even though the Seahawks were barred from practicing because of the penalties for contact during OTAs, Banks was able to try out for the team and, apparently, they liked what they saw. Carroll made the announcement on Twitter Thursday afternoon that Banks was invited to continue trying out at next week’s minicamp.

“Brian Banks is an extraordinary guy & we invited him back to participate in our minicamp next week… We hope to see him then!”

Carroll was the coach of USC when Banks committed to go there as a high school player. Then came an allegation of rape and kidnapping and the 10-year odyssey through the legal and penal systems that finally ended last month when he was exonerated after his accuser recanted her story. Banks lined up reportedly lined up tryouts with several NFL teams with the Seahawks first in line.

Tim Booth of the Associated Press reports that Banks said that he will speak to his agent before deciding whether or not to attend.Banks hasn’t signed or even been offered a contract at this point, so he remains a massive long shot. He also remains very easy to root for.

The Raiders start signing draft picks

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The Raiders were known for beating to their own drum when Al Davis was alive and some things haven’t changed even after his death.

While the rest of the league has been busy signing up their draft picks, the Raiders spent their time elsewhere. Their attention has finally turned to the draftees. The Raiders announced Thursday that they have signed defensive end Jack Crawford, defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi and linebacker Nathan Stupar, leaving them three more picks to sign.

Crawford, a fifth-round pick who was born in London, started for three years at Penn State. He’ll be looking for snaps at a fairly deep position for the Raiders and may need to spend the year doing more watching than playing. Bikudi, a sixth-round pick, also adds some international flair to the roster. He was born in Angola and lived in France and Brazil. He came late to football as a result and is a raw prospect at this point. Stupar, a seventh-round pick, was Crawford’s teammate in State College. The Raiders don’t have much linebacking depth, so Stupar can win a job this summer.

As we mentioned, the Raiders took a while to start signing picks, but “a while” is relative. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, that means June 7th and that’s earlier than most picks signed in previous years.

Ty Warren gives in, but could get some back

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On a scale of one to 10, the arm twisting that the Broncos applied to defensive lineman Ty Warren registers at 9.95.  But Warren can un-twist the arm if he performs at a high level in 2012.

On Wednesday, the Broncos and Warren finally resolved a standoff that had the Broncos pushing Warren to drop his $4 million base salary for 2012 into the range of $1 million to $1.5 million.  Per a league source, that’s exactly what Warren did.

Under his new deal, Warren received a $250,000 signing bonus.  He’ll earn a base salary of $1.25 million, if he’s not cut before Week One.

But there’s a silver lining.  He can earn up to $2 million back.

It’s unknown at this point what Warren has to do to move back toward the base salary he was due to earn.

The 13th overall pick in the 2003 draft, Warren earned $3.16 million from the Patriots in 2010 and $4 million from the Broncos in 2011 despite never playing in a single regular-season game, due to injury.

Polamalu: Tebow ran an offense you don’t think can work in the NFL


Steelers safety Troy Polamalu isn’t taking anything away from Tim Tebow or the Denver team that beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs, but five months later he’s still baffled that the offense the Broncos were running with Tebow at the helm was able to beat the Steelers.

Polamalu told Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports that he’s accustomed to playing against complex offenses in the NFL, and he never believed an offense as simplistic as the one Tebow ran in Denver could be as successful as that offense was in that game.

“It was an incredibly simple offense that you just don’t think can work in this league, but it worked for them with the kind of talent they had,” Polamalu said.

Polamalu said the Broncos’ offense became so predictable that it was actually unpredictable: The Steelers would be sure the Broncos weren’t going to run the same play over and over again because NFL offenses just don’t do that, and yet the Broncos did it.

“There’s no way they’re going to run that same route again,” Polamalu says he was thinking during the game. “As a safety, part of your job is to eliminate certain routes that you don’t think they’re going to run. I would line up and say, ‘They ran that the last time, there’s no way they’re going to run it again.’ Then they did. The next time, ‘There’s no way they’re going to run that again,’ then they did.”

Whether Tebow can eventually become a quarterback capable of playing well enough to win consistently in an NFL offense remains to be seen — and the Broncos’ decision to trade him suggests that they have their doubts. But at times last season Tebow was very effective, doing things that you wouldn’t think could work in the NFL.

Ochocinco hasn’t been cut, yet


The only thing keeping Chad Ochocinco from joining Terrell Owens on the NFL’s literal Mr. Irrelevant list is the fact that Ochocinco still has a job with an NFL team.  Despite rampant rumors to the contrary, that has not changed.


Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Ochocinco remains a member of the Patriots as of this posting, despite eye-opening speculation from employees of the team’s official website that he was cut.

The team’s official website reports he wasn’t present for Thursday’s practice.  And the Twitter feed for openly asks whether Chad will still be a member of the team at the end of the day.

We don’t know the answer to that question.  But we do know that, as of right now, he hasn’t been cut.

Earlier in the offseason, Ochocinco agreed to drop his base salary from $3 million to $1 million in 2012.  Agent Drew Rosenhaus later said that Chad has unfinished business in New England, which prompted us to point out that some would say Chad’s business was still unstarted.

Though it may never get started, it hasn’t ended.


UPDATE 3:10 p.m. ET:  A prior version of this article incorrectly stated that there were “multiple accounts” that Ochocinco has been cut.  That was a poor choice of words, and I apologize for it.  Our report regarding Chad’s status was sparked by one thing:  A surprising degree of speculation from employees of the Patriots’ official website — and thus employees of the Patriots’ organization — regarding whether Ochocinco’s absence from practice on Thursday means he is also absent from the roster.  Other reporters not employed by the Patriots engaged in similar speculation, which was apparently fueled by the fact that Ochocinco removed from his Twitter page the designation that he plays for the Patriots.  He has since restored it.

Leslie Frazier: “Very good chance” Toby Gerhart has to carry the load early

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The news about Adrian Peterson’s recovery from last season’s knee injury has been uniformly positive, but that doesn’t mean the Vikings are counting any chickens before they hatch.

It is only June, after all, and they know that there are still plenty of potential setbacks to Peterson’s recovery between here and the start of the season. That could mean Toby Gerhart will be the starter when the season gets underway and he’s made some changes to his body to prepare for the possibility. Dan Wierderer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Gerhart weighs the same as he did last season, but looks bigger because he’s made an effort to add mass this offseason.

The Vikings are using OTAs to see what, if anything, has changed about Gerhart’s game as a result of the change in his body. While explaining why, Frazier sounded the rare cautionary note about Peterson’s recovery.

“He’s still a developing guy,” Frazier said. “And there are some things we’re going to find out in these OTAs. Before we send him home and come back to training camp, we’ll give him a prescribed weight. But we wanted to take a look at him at where he is right now and just see how it would affect his quickness. Because there’s a very good chance he’s going to have to really carry the load early on.”

Frazier’s being more realistic than pessimistic when it comes to Peterson’s status. Even if Peterson is able to play Week One, the Vikings aren’t going to be able to use him as a workhorse right off the bat. That means a lot of work for Gerhart. It also means that Christian Ponder needs to move the ball through the air while the Vikings figure out how to deploy their backfield.

Whatever happens with the rushing game, Ponder’s growth will be vital to the Vikings’ ultimate success this season.

Players will get evidence three days before bounty hearing

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With Commissioner Roger Goodell setting the bounty appeal hearings for Monday, June 18, questions linger regarding the procedures to be used and, most importantly, whether the NFL will share raw evidence of the bounty system with the players who are challenging their suspensions:  Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove.

Per a source with knowledge of the proceedings, the league is required by the CBA to disclose the evidence it plans to rely upon during the appeal hearings three days in advance of the sessions.

That’s not a blanket requirement that the league open its files.  Instead, the league must produce only what it plans to use.

Thus, if there is evidence that points to innocence, the league isn’t required to give it to the players and the NFLPA.

Though, in theory, the league could keep its intended evidence simple in light of the fact that Goodell has full authority over the appeals, the final outcome most likely will be subject to attack in court.  The more slanted and biased the process seems, the more effective the players arguments for relief will become.  Thus, if the league holds back evidence, the suspensions could be more vulnerable to being overturned by a federal judge.

Given that the league plans to conduct all four appeal hearings on the same day, it’s unlikely that the NFL will use a lengthy, complex presentation of evidence.  Few if any trials can be completed in one day; the idea that four hearings involving hotly disputed allegations can be conducted on June 18 suggests that the procedures are more perfunctory than meaningful.

The players will have a much better sense of how detailed the process will be next Friday, when the NFL hands over the evidence that will be used.

Ravens missing 19 players during final OTA session

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Voluntary offseason workouts typically result in greater outcomes when the players volunteer to show up.  In Baltimore, a large chunk of the roster isn’t.

As Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun points out, 19 players were missing from Thursday’s final Organized Team Activity of the 2012 offseason.

It’s been a common theme for the Ravens during the offseason.  With limited opportunities to prepare for the season — especially in light of the termination of two-a-days during training camp — it’s important for as many guys to participate as possible.  Even though coach John Harbaugh will have no choice but to say the right things (since the labor deal prevents coaches from ever suggesting that the practices aren’t voluntary), it has to be driving him nuts when he looks down the road to the Redskins or across the family tree to his brother Jim’s 49ers and see that they have full attendance.  (In San Fran, only franchise-tagged safety Dashon Goldson is absent.)

For a team that was tantalizingly close to the Super Bowl in 2011, it won’t be easy to dig out of the valley of 0-0 and get back to the top of the mountain.  Especially if more than 20 percent of the roster isn’t on the field when the playbook for the upcoming season is being installed.