Skip to content

Cedric Benson still a possibility for Raiders

Cedric+Benson+Cincinnati+Bengals+v+St+Louis+KnDTMJ8_Idrl Getty Images

In a post about Visanthe Shiancoe, I mentioned there weren’t a lot of notable free agents still looking for work.

Cedric Benson might be the most notable name on that list. He’s run for more than 1,000 yards in each of the last three seasons, but hasn’t found work in a league that has moved away from employing workhorse backs like Benson in recent years. He’s been linked here and there, but nowhere with more frequency than Oakland where the Raiders could use someone to do what Michael Bush did for them in recent seasons.

Nothing has happened yet, but Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on NFL Live Friday afternoon that it still might. Schefter reported that Benson is still on the Raiders’ radar and that he could be signed just before or just after training camp gets underway in a month. Bill Williamson of reported earlier this week that the Raiders were interested but that “salary cap and money issues” were getting in the way of a deal.

If they can iron them out, Benson could make a good complement to Darren McFadden. His powerful style would mesh well in spots where McFadden’s flash is less useful and the former Bengal can also fill a bigger role if the Raiders want to limit McFadden at times in hopes of keeping him healthy. Their current backups — Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones — don’t have Benson’s track record and haven’t inspired much confidence that they can provide the proper balance with McFadden.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Home, Oakland Raiders, Rumor Mill

Jaguars doing more homework, working Bridgewater out

Bridgewater AP

The Jaguars have already had Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in for a visit.

Now, they want to see a little more.

According to Josina Anderson of ESPN, Bridgewater will have a second meeting and workout tomorrow with the Jaguars.

This comes right as reports are building that Bridgewater’s stock might not be as high as previously thought.

The Jaguars desperately need a long-term answer at quarterback. They also own the third overall pick in the draft. And the 39th.

Whether they think Bridgewater is more worthy of one than the other may dictate their interest. But after he had a lackluster pro day, he has a chance to convince them on a one-on-one basis tomorrow.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

PFT Live: Falcons talk with D. Orlando Ledbetter, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Mike Smith AP

The Falcons own the sixth pick in next month’s draft and they have sent some pretty clear signals about what direction they’d like to go with their top selection.

They’ve been meeting with the top offensive tackles and defensive front seven players as they try to formulate their plan for May 8. D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution will join Mike Florio on Friday’s edition of PFT Live to discuss those options and we’ll find out what Ledbetter thinks is the team’s smartest course of action.

We’re also interested in hearing what’s on your mind as another week draws to a close. We’ll be taking questions from PFT Planet again, so send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or by giving a call to 888-237-5269 during the show. 

It all gets underway at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Lots of teams looking at Demarcus Lawrence

M.J. McPeek, Demarcus Lawrence AP

The ability to get after the quarterback is prized by every team in the league, so it probably shouldn’t come as much surprise that Boise State defensive end/linebacker Demarcus Lawrence is taking a lot of visits ahead of next month’s draft.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that Lawrence is expected to meet with the Redskins, Cowboys, Saints, Vikings, Steelers, 49ers and Jets before the draft. In addition, he’s also met with the Falcons and done private workouts with the Saints and Seahawks as teams try to determine where Lawrence will come off the board.

The variety of teams showing interest in Lawrence and the variety of the schemes they run suggest a feeling that Lawrence can fit as an edge rusher in either a 4-3 or 3-4 base defense. Lawrence’s college production backs up that feeling, although teams are likely also interested in finding out whether the off-field issues that led to three one-game suspensions for Lawrence at Boise are under control as he moves into the professional ranks.

Lawrence has been projected as a second-round pick, but could move into the first day if a team decides he’s the answer for their pass rushing needs.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Manning, Gase “visit” to Saban may have violated offseason rules

Manning AP

The meeting between former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning and current Alabama coach Nick Saban will raise plenty of eyebrows among Volunteers fans who voluntarily wear on Saturdays in the fall an objectively unattractive shade of orange.

The session also should raise some eyebrows at 345 Park Avenue, for entirely different reasons.

As Saban explained it, Manning was accompanied by offensive coordinator Adam Gase.  Saban also said that Manning and Gase were “making some visits.”

“To be honest with you, [Manning] was just trying to learn so he could be a better player,” Saban said.  “I think a lot of people would say, ‘Wow, the guy is one of the best, if not the best, and certainly from a career standpoint probably about as good as anybody’s been in the history of the league.  After all the experience and knowledge that he has, he’s going out and trying to seek more knowledge and understanding of the game of football so he can play better.”

That’s admirable.  It’s also a potential CBA violation.

The new labor deal, struck in 2011, places clear limits on offseason activities.  Under Article 21, Section 2(a)(ii), players “are not permitted to participate in . . . group or individual meetings with coaches” prior to the start of the team’s official offseason workout program.

The Broncos have yet to start their official offseason program.  Gase and Manning aren’t allowed to meet.  Under Saban is lying (because “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach“), it looks like they met.

Per a league source, Saban’s characterization of Manning and Gase making arm-in-arm visits to college coaches could be incorrect.  The Manning-Gase-Saban meeting at Alabama may have happened by chance, with Manning coming in to meet Saban and Gase, who once worked for Saban, happening to be in the area at the same time.

Regardless, it appears there was a meeting between player and coach before the start of Denver’s offseason program.

The Broncos declined comment on the issue.  The NFL has not yet responded to an email message seeking confirmation that the rules prohibit meetings between players and coaches prior to the start of the team’s offseason program.

Then again, confirmation likely isn’t necessary.  The rule is clear.  In the three years since the rule was created, it’s the first time evidence has arisen of a potential violation.

UPDATE 11:27 a.m. ET:  NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy tells PFT that the league is looking into the situation.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NCAA’s leaders are sealing its fate

Emmert AP

When things go badly, human nature searches for someone else to blame.  Even when responsible party does the right thing and admits fault for an undesirable outcome, the internal wiring at a minimum sparks with the temptation to pin it all on another person.

When the NCAA suffers the fate that inevitably is coming, on a timetable much faster than anyone envisioned, president Mark Emmert should have no temptation to blame lawyers or unions or judges or senators or agents or parents or the media or anyone else.  Emmert’s ongoing remarks about the state of college athletics, where more and more people are realizing that the “student-athlete” label has been for decades a scam to get free (or at least very cheap) labor, are serving only to broaden and strengthen the notion that something must be done to protect current and future student-athletes from being exploited by a system that pays everyone except the student-athletes.

Most recently, Emmert made an ill-advised appearance on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning.  Our friends at CFT have chronicled some of the highlights (lowlights), capped by the notion that student-athletes are “taking seats from a paying student.”

Yes, Emmert actually said that.  By saying that, Emmert clumsily painted student-athletes, whose collective efforts bring in far more dollars per person than those paying full freight, as freeloaders.

Emmert and the conference commissioners and the university presidents and the athletic directors would be far better off saying nothing.  That would at least delay the day of reckoning, giving the NCAA and the schools ample time to plan for change — and more opportunities to profit obscenely from the structure that currently is in place.

Instead, Emmert’s effort to stop the slow bleed could nick an artery, resulting in a public outcry for change so big and so loud that someone in a position of power will see a tangible political benefit to accelerating the process of bringing sweeping change to the world of college athletics.

Which in turn will bring change of some sort to the NFL, which continues to benefit from the free farm system known as college football.  If/when (when) college football players must be paid fair market value, the farm system may not be free.  And it may not be nearly as vast as it currently is.

Permalink 13 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ron Rivera learns NASCAR lessons can apply to football

RonRivera AP

When it’s the offseason, NFL coaches are limited in the work they can do with players, so they have to learn from each other.

But instead of turning to other football coaches, Panthers coach Ron Rivera spent time with NASCAR crew chief Chad Knaus, who has led Jimmie Johnson to six titles.

The geographic proximity makes it easy, but Knaus also had some experience in a similar situation to the one Rivera’s in now.

In 2010, with three races to go in the season, Knaus once replaced his entire seven-man pit crew, which — without knowing much about car racing — seems vaguely analogous to Rivera blowing up his wide receiver corps this offseason.

This guy may jack the car up a 10th of a second faster, but he doesn’t work as well together with others,” Rivera said via David Newton of, “while this guy may be a 10th of a second slower, yet he works well with everybody. We’re the same way. It’s about, ‘How does this guy fit in the locker room?’”

That sound you hear is a bus being driven over Steve Smith, an obvious shot at the best player in franchise history, who was cut earlier this offseason for reasons that had nothing to do with football.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Chuck Pagano: It’s an important offseason for Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson AP

The Colts kick off their offseason program on Monday and it promises to be a big one for running back Trent Richardson.

Richardson’s in-season arrival in a trade with the Browns cost the Colts a first-round pick and got them a back who wound up being benched in favor of Donald Brown near the end of the season. The Colts have maintained faith in Richardson and the back said after the season that he thought his struggles were due in part to insufficient time to pick up the offense, something coach Chuck Pagano says Richardson has to do this offseason.

“It’s going to be very, very important for [Richardson] to be here for the offseason program and to dive into this thing full steam ahead, which he will,” Pagano said, via the team’s website. “He wants to be great. He’s got all the talent. He’s got all the ability. We would have never done what we did if we didn’t believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign.”

Brown is in San Diego now, but Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw are back in Indy and we’ve already seen the Colts move on from Richardson when they felt there were better options. There’s no reason to expect anything different next season if Richardson hasn’t shown that his slow start with the team was just a matter of being in unfamiliar surroundings.

Permalink 16 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jimmy Clausen looking for a second chance to compete

Jimmy Clausen AP

When the Panthers drafted Jimmy Clausen in the second round of the 2010 draft, the hope was that he’d develop into their starting quarterback.

That never happened. Clausen played poorly in 13 games as a rookie and the Panthers drafted Cam Newton after going 2-14, leaving Clausen with a seat on the bench that he never relinquished the next two seasons. Clausen then hurt his shoulder in preseason last year, forcing him to injured reserve before his contract with the Panthers came to an end.

Clausen is working out with trainers and says his shoulder is almost 100 percent, but that hasn’t helped him get a job yet this offseason. Clausen hopes that changes so that he can resume his quest for a starting job in the league.

“That’s what I want. The only thing I can ask for is an opportunity — a legit opportunity to compete to be a No. 2 and hopefully work my way up,” Clausen said, via USA Today It’s tough. Obviously, I’m a competitor and want to get somewhere and compete.”

There hasn’t been much tape of Clausen for teams to evaluate since that dismal rookie year and there hasn’t been so much as a murmur of interest in his services around the league this offseason, which doesn’t bode well for a resurrection of his stalled career. Perhaps that changes if a team feels the need for an extra arm in camp this summer, but things look dim for Clausen on the second chance front.

Permalink 23 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Popp says Johnson isn’t trying to get back to the NFL

Chad AP

Former NFL receiver Chad Johnson/Ochocinco/Johnson has become new CFL receiver Chad Johnson.  (Or, perhaps eventually, Chad Quatre-Vingt-Cinq.)

Regardless, Johnson supposedly has no aspiration to parlay his arrival in the CFL into a return to the NFL.  That’s what long-time Alouettes G.M. Jim Popp told Ross Tucker and Brad Hopkins of SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday.

Popp also insisted that adding Johnson, who last spent time in the NFL nearly two years ago with the Dolphins after a lackluster 2011 season with the Patriots, isn’t a publicity stunt.

It may not be a stunt, but it’s definitely generating publicity.  The question is whether it will result in productivity.  While plenty of young players have used the CFL as a way to attract the attention of the NFL, precious few aging NFL players have gone to Canada and made an impact.  If Johnson plays at a high level, it will be noteworthy in large part because it will be unprecedented.

Until then, NFL fans and NFL media will pay more attention to the CFL.  Which means more publicity.  Even if the goal wasn’t to get more publicity.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Charles Tillman now has a street that crosses RG3′s

Robert Griffin III, Charles Tillman AP

If you’re looking for the intersection of NFL greatness on both sides of the ball, you can always go to Copperas Cove, Texas.

There, you can roll down the newly named Charles Tillman Way, which intersects with Robert Griffin III Boulevard.

According to KWTX, Tillman had his street named after him last week. The NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year said he was flattered by the recognition of his hometown.

I really am humbled and thankful that you guys allowed me to be an ambassador for Copperas Cove,” the Bears cornerback said. “I will continue to do my part and try and change as many lives as we can.”

Now we just need an investigation to see if any strings were pulled.

During an interview with his fellow Copperas Cove graduate, Tillman joked that Griffin was a much bigger deal in his hometown.

“It’s him!” Tillman said in February, via the Washington Post. “Ask me do I have a street named after me.”

Griffin then replied: ““We’re gonna start the campaign today to get Charles Tillman a street in Copperas Cove.”

Whether Griffin had anything to do with it or not, it’s still a neat way for the town to honor two of its most prominent natives.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Colts haven’t retired No. 88, but they won’t let Nicks wear it

Marvin Harrison AP

Technically, the Colts have not retired the 88 jersey which the team’s all-time leading receiver, Marvin Harrison, wore during his 13 seasons in Indianapolis, and which Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey wore for nine seasons in Baltimore. But the Colts aren’t giving No. 88 out anymore.

That became clear when the Colts’ website announced that Hakeem Nicks, the newly arrived free agent who wore No. 88 with the Giants, will instead wear No. 14 with the Colts.

Nicks had previously said he wanted to keep wearing No. 88 but that he didn’t know if he could in Indianapolis.

“Everybody knows I love those eights on my chest, but we’ll have to see how that pans out,” Nicks said when he signed with the Colts.

The Colts are running out of numbers in the 80s, with Raymond Berry’s 82 and Gino Marchetti’s 89 both retired, and Reggie Wayne’s 87 likely to be retired some day as well. But they should also retire 88, and when they do they should honor both Harrison and Mackey.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Arizona judge denies bail for Darren Sharper

Sharper AP

Former NFL player Darren Sharper currently has so many legal problems that even former NFL player Aaron Hernandez would say, “That guy’s got a lot of legal problems.”

Sharper’s problems became more complicated on Thursday.

Via Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today, a judge in Arizona determined on Thursday that Sharper should not be released on bail for the rape charges he’s facing in that state.  Sharper also has been accused of rape in California and Louisiana, with potential charges also in Nevada and Florida.

In Arizona, Sharper’s conduct resulted in three alleged victims, labeled as A, B, and C.

“The court finds proof evident and the presumption great that Victim B was the victim of a sexual assault committed by Mr. Sharper,” Granville said. “The court will therefore affirm the no-bond finding with respect to [sexual assault].”

The evidence consists of DNA material matching Sharper.

He currently remains in jail in California while the wheels of justice churn in three different jurisdictions.  He is expected to be tried initially in California.

Sharper played for the Packers, Vikings, and Saints.  He was a key member of the 2009 New Orleans team that won Super Bowl XLIV.  Most recently, Sharper worked as an analyst for NFL Media.  Initially suspended after the California case came to light, the league fired Sharper after an arrest warrant was issued in Louisiana.

Permalink 28 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Meeting of the minds: Peyton visits Saban at Alabama

Nick Saban AP

It’s not uncommon for coaches to pick the brains of one another in the offseason.

But Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning joined the loop, putting at risk his God-like status in the state of Tennessee.

According to Alex Scarborough of, Manning and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase spent two days with Alabama coach Nick Saban last week, a visit Saban called mutually beneficial (of course).

“A lot of people would say, ‘Wow, the guy is one of the best, if not the best, from a career standpoint and about as good as anyone has been in the history of the league,’ ” Saban said. “After all the experience and knowledge that he has, he’s going out to try and seek more knowledge and understudying of the game of football so he can play better.”

Of course, Saban wasn’t just generously sharing his own wisdom, as his teams have been picked apart by the kinds of no-huddle attacks Manning is so good at running.

“Since they’re a no-huddle team, we had a lot of questions for them, in terms of what gives them problems and what defensive teams do that give them problems,” Saban said. “That was a mutual benefit. I know it was a benefit to us. I hope it was a benefit to them as well.”

While Manning helping an SEC rival won’t sit well with his orange-clad brethren, the fact Manning’s out looking for fresh perspectives on the game also illustrates his commitment to the game. Coming off a record-breaking season, he could have easily claimed some down time to rest, but continues to work.

Permalink 15 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Kaepernick, Niners contract talks on hold

Colin Kaepernick, Thomas Davis AP

The 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick have been talking about a contract extension this offseason, but those discussions have reportedly been tabled for the time being.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the reason why things have come to a halt is the incident in Miami involving Kaepernick, two other NFL players and a woman who filed a report with police saying she woke up in the hospital with no memory of how she got there. Neither Kaepernick nor anyone else has been accused of any wrongdoing and has strongly denied doing anything wrong, but things will apparently remain on hold until the police wrap up their investigation.

Rapoport also reports that the two sides were far apart in talks on a contract that Kaepernick surely wants to be among the top in the league after his first two seasons as a starting quarterback. As of now, it doesn’t look like the Miami “incident report” is going to do anything to lower his asking price so the resumption of talks may not lead to a quick resolution of Kaepernick’s contract.

Quick or not, talks should pick up once police finish their work in Miami and a Kaepernick extension is likely to remain a top order of business as long as that investigation clears him.

Permalink 40 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Friday morning one-liners

Logan Mankins AP

Bills WR Brandon Kaufman hinted at a move to tight end.

Everything you ever needed to know about Dolphins G.M. Dennis Hickey.

Patriots G Logan Mankins hopes he has a few years left in his career.

Is taking a safety a possibility for the Jets in the first round?

Wisconsin DT Beau Allen and Bowling Green TE Alex Bayer visited with the Ravens.

Marvin Lewis Sr., father of Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, died Thursday at the age of 78.

The Browns have completed their medical staff for the 2014 season.

Steelers T Mike Adams is working to rebound from a disappointing 2013 season.

Breaking down the makeup of the Texans defense.

G Joe Reitz shared some thoughts on the Colts’ offseason after signing his restricted free agent tender from the team.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley was the subject of praise from Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.

Running through the 20 highest-paid members of the Titans.

Former Broncos RB Otis Armstrong was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

A lot of people think the Chiefs are drafting a wide receiver in the first round.

LB Kaelin Burnett signed his exclusive rights free agent tender from the Raiders.

The Chargers announced the dates and times of all their preseason games.

Stanford DL Josh Mauro would love to play for the Cowboys.

The Giants were one of the teams watching Florida DT Dominique Easley work out on Thursday.

What is the Eagles’ biggest strength right now?

Redskins WR DeSean Jackson and an oversized bottle of champagne.

Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch will work out for the Bears at the team’s pro day for local prospects.

The Lions look forward to seeing what KR Jeremy Ross can do after an offseason with the team.

The Packers are looking for more consistency on their special teams.

A call for the Vikings to be cautious in their pursuit of a quarterback.

Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix doesn’t seem like a possibility for the Falcons in the first round unless they trade back.

A judge ruled the Charlotte city council did not break the law when they voted privately to offer the Panthers tax incentives.

Saints CB Champ Bailey, RB Mark Ingram and T Zach Strief will be playing in a celebrity golf tournament.

Buccaneers QB Josh McCown showed off his hoops skills for a charity game.

Former Cardinals T and longtime NFL broadcaster Dan Dierdorf will now announce University of Michigan games.

The Rams are watching Clemson WR Sammy Watkins work out on Friday.

The 49ers had a pre-draft visit with Miami T Seantrel Henderson.

WR Sidney Rice was happy to see his Seahawks locker was left untouched during his brief time off the roster.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top