Skip to content

Andy Reid offers tepid support for Vick, Castillo

Getty Images

After a second straight blown lead in the fourth quarter led to a second straight loss, you knew Eagles coach Andy Reid’s Monday press conference would be a spirited affair.

Reid said that the team would be evaluating everything during the bye week, but the two people that everyone wanted to know about were quarterback Michael Vick and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. Vick turned the ball over twice on Sunday, upping his total to 13 on the season, and that led to a question to Reid about whether he remains committed to starting Vick at quarterback.

“Today, I am,” Reid said, via Tim McManus of PhillyMag.com.

We just went down this road of less than emphatic support for Vick a couple of weeks ago and there hasn’t been any change in the lineup or in Vick’s play. Making a move to rookie Nick Foles would be a drastic change of course for Reid and the Eagles, one that might not mean much positive given the way the offensive line is playing right now. That line and Vick were part of an offense that Reid referred to as “pathetic” in the fourth quarter, however, so changes could well be coming.

Castillo came under some fire from cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha after the game for changes to the team’s scheme late in the game, a charge that Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Reid disputed. He said that “as I’m standing here right now” Castillo would remain the team’s defensive play caller after they return from the bye, but also reiterated that they will be evaluating everything.

There’s much to evaluate for Reid because he knows these next 10 games will determine whether or not he still has his job come the new year.

Permalink 62 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Philadelphia Eagles, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
yo

Jonathan Stewart: “Open arms” to Panthers drafting a running back

Getty Images

The Panthers and running back Jonathan Stewart agreed to a one-year contract extension this week, but that didn’t do much to quiet the notion that the Panthers will be adding a running back in the draft this year.

Stewart is 30 and entering his 10th season with the team, so the team needs to think about a future without Stewart on top of the need to have a complementary back to help the team put together the kind of running game that coach Ron Rivera felt was lacking last season. Given those realities, it wouldn’t matter much if Stewart was opposed to the team moving in that direction but the veteran is on board with a youthful infusion to the backfield.

“I mean, it’s a good thing,” Stewart said, via the team’s website. “You always want fresh legs. Fresh legs mean a lot, especially in the fourth quarter. Having somebody potentially come in here … there are a lot of good running backs in this draft class, a lot of talent. Definitely open arms to get somebody in here that wants to win and understands that. We’re better as a fist than we are as an open hand.”

Running back isn’t the only area that Carolina is expected to address at some point in the draft. Stewart pointed out that “the main thing we have to do better is protect” quarterback Cam Newton. A better running game would help accomplish that and boosting the performance on the offensive line should remain a priority for the team heading into the 2017 season.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Maccagnan won’t rule out drafting another quarterback

Getty Images

The Jets won’t rule in Josh McCown as the team’s next starting quarterback, and they won’t rule out adding another rookie.

A year after spending a second-round pick on a quarterback who wore the team’s uniform during a regular-season game last year as many times as I did, G.M. Mike Maccagnan said Friday that the team could “potentially”draft another one. Maccagnan added that doing so wouldn’t mean they erred in drafting Christian Hackenberg a year ago.

“I don’t think taking a player at one position is a referendum on another player,” Maccagnan said, via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.com. “I think the goal is to put together [the] best roster you can. Of course quarterback is a very, very important position in this process. But I wouldn’t necessarily view it as a referendum.”

It’s smart for Maccagnan to keep his options open. All teams are listening to everything every coach or G.M. is saying. If Maccagnan narrows his draft focus before the draft begins, it’s harder to get the guys he wants.

“Our plan is to basically find the best group of quarterbacks we can,” Maccagnan said. “We’ve obviously made a move in pro free agency. There’s still the college draft. All options are on the table at the quarterback position with us going forward.”

That’s the way it should be. For a team that hasn’t had a true franchise quarterback since the only time the franchise won a Super Bowl, the search for the next one should continue until the next one finally is found. Whenever that may be.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Dave Gettleman: Moving up eight spots in Kony Ealy trade is “gold”

Getty Images

The Panthers traded defensive end Kony Ealy to the Patriots this offseason in a deal that wound up bumping them up eight spots in the draft order as they added a third-round pick to get a second-round pick back from New England.

For some, moving up eight spots in the draft may not seem like a big return for a player drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft. As you’d probably guess from the fact that the Panthers made the trade, their General Manager Dave Gettleman is not in that camp.

“It’s a heavy draft and it was an opportunity for us to move up,” Gettleman said, via the Charlotte Observer. “To you guys, eight spots doesn’t seem like much. But to me it’s gold. … We just wanted to move up and get another second-round pick. I think it gives us more flexibility.”

Ealy seemed like a breakout candidate coming off three sacks, an interception and forced fumble in Super Bowl 50, but the 2016 season didn’t play out that way as Ealy’s production remained inconsistent. He became expendable when the Panthers re-signed several other defensive ends and brought Julius Peppers back, which led to Gettleman taking a chance to improve another position by dispatching Ealy.

Whether that’s likelier with the 64th overall pick than the 72nd is debatable, but Gettleman will quiet any quibbling by hitting big in April.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Joe Thomas asks the key question on Kaepernick

Plenty of people have plenty of opinions about the ongoing unemployment of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. One specific person’s opinion (more accurately, a question) caught my attention.

Browns tackle Joe Thomas had this to say in response to the item posted earlier today by MDS: “Most people can agree [Kaepernick’s] current unemployment is a combination of his anthem protest and his declining play, which is playing more into it?”

It’s a question raised earlier this week on PFT Live (the poll question appears below), and it gets to the heart of what’s happening with Kaepernick. If he were regarded as being as good as Tom Brady, Kaepernick already would be under contract; indeed, his 2014 contract with the 49ers never would have been restructured and he’d still be the starting quarterback there. (And Trent Baalke would still be the G.M. And Jim Tomsula or Chip Kelly would still be the head coach.) If Kaepernick were viewed as having no football abilities at all, the political aspects wouldn’t matter.

The problem seems to be that Kaepernick’s perceived skills currently fall into the gray area that prompts teams (owners, General Managers, coaches, whoever) to conclude that the baggage outweighs the bang. Otherwise, Kaepernick would have a job somewhere right now, either as the starting quarterback or at least in position to compete to be the starter.

The proof that he falls into the more-trouble-than-he’s-worth category comes from the manner in which Kaepernick was treated a year ago. Multiple teams were willing to trade for him, if he’d simply reduce the $12 million in fully-guaranteed base salary he was due to make in 2016. The Broncos, who steadfastly refuse to give up anything for Tony Romo now, were willing to trade for Kaepernick. The Brown reportedly were willing to cough up a third-round pick and to pay Kaepernick $7 million or $8 million for one year.

That interest came at a time when Kaepernick was recovering from not one nor two but three offseason surgeries. Surgeries that resulted in weight loss that kept him behind Blaine Gabbert for the first five games of the season.

So what has happened in the past year, other than Kaepernick embarking on a highly polarizing political position that landed his image on the cover of Time and his name on the lips of every NFL fan and millions of drive-by Super Bowl commercial watchers? Kaepernick started 11 games for a horrible team in a new offensive system, generating numbers that were far from horrible.

As a passer, Kaepernick completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, averaging 6.8 yards per attempt and throwing 16 touchdown passes against four interceptions. His passer rating was 90.7 — his highest such number since signing his long-term deal after the 2013 season.

As a runner, Kaepernick averaged 42.5 yards per game and 6.8 yards per attempt. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the leading rusher among quarterbacks in 2016, averaged 38.6 yards per game, in 15 starts.

Speaking of Taylor, his numbers for the year were comparable to Kaepernick’s. Completion percentage: 61.7. Average per attempt: 6.9 yards. Passer rating: 89.7. Touchdowns to interceptions: 17 to 6. Average per rush: 6.1 yards.

Taylor emerged from the season with a two-year, $30.5 million contract to remain with the Bills despite an overhaul to the coaching staff. The Bills, with former Broncos offensive coordinator Rick Dennison now on board, presumably could have had Kaepernick for considerably less than that. And Dennison comes from one of the teams that was ready to trade for Kaepernick a year ago.

Which brings me back to the Browns. A year ago, they wanted him. Now, after a season with a two-win team in an offense new to him while recovering from three surgeries with numbers that compare to those generated by Tyrod Taylor (a guy in whom the Browns reportedly were interested), the Browns want nothing to do with Kaepernick.

There are two possible explanations for this. One, the Browns are being the Browns, again. Two, Browns ownership wants nothing to do with Kaepernick.

Given that the Browns wanted Kaepernick a year ago, and in light of how he performed a year ago, Door No. 2 is a fair response.

Beyond Cleveland, it’s fair to ask why other teams see nothing in a guy in whom multiple teams saw something a year ago. The Broncos don’t want him. The Jets don’t want him. The Texans apparently don’t want him. The Bills, who could have had him for less than Taylor, didn’t want him. The Bears, who are paying Mike Glennon $15 million per year (it’s still not clear whom they were bidding against), didn’t want him.

While Kaepernick may not currently be better than 20 starting quarterbacks in the NFL, he’s a better option for multiple teams than what they currently have. Which means that his ongoing unemployment absolutely, positively is more about politics than football.

So, Joe, there’s your answer. And if you hope to have a shot at finally getting to the postseason, maybe it’s time to start publicly pushing for Kaepernick as the alternative to Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan, anyone else available via free agency, or any of the rookies in the 2017 draft.

Permalink 44 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Davis Webb says “double-digit” teams told him he’s a first-rounder

Getty Images

When discussing the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, attention has largely been focused on North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes’ former backup in Lubbock says that he’s hearing there’s room for one more in that group. Davis Webb transferred to California for the 2016 season and put together a performance he says has impressed NFL scouts.

Webb held his pro day workout on Friday and said after it was over that he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback during his conversations with teams.

“I’ve talked to a lot of NFL people,” Webb said, via ESPN.com. “And double-digit teams have told me I’m a first-round guy. Every meeting I’ve had, they’ve said I’m one of the best quarterbacks on the board.”

That’s not where most members of the draft industry have pegged Webb coming off the board, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a projected second day pick wound up landing in the first round. Webb said he has 12-15 meetings and/or workouts scheduled with teams heading into the draft and the results of those will likely be a big factor in where he winds up coming off the board.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Isaac Rochell drawing interest from Cowboys, Panthers

Getty Images

A day after the Notre Dame Pro Day workout, former Irish defensive lineman Isaac Rochell paid a visit to PFT Live to discuss his pre-draft experiences.

As to the issue that always slides to the top of the stack in the weeks before the selection process, Rochell said he has attracted the most interest so far from the Cowboys and Panthers.

Dallas definitely needs defensive players, after a mass defection in free agency. A team captain as a senior, Rochell said he’s working on his pass rush as he gets ready for the next level. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com suggests that the best fit for Rochell could be defensive end in a 3-4 system — and that he could become a starter in the NFL if he can develop the right pass-rushing skills.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

All quiet on the Marshawn front

Getty Images

Eight days ago, it seemed inevitable that running back Marshawn Lynch would emerge from retirement and land with the Raiders. At one point, there was a belief that things could come to a head before the conclusion of the weekend.

Since then, nothing has happened — but for a radio interview from his agent that left the door wide open for either possibility.

It’s unclear whether Marshawn decided to press pause on the situation, or whether complications have arisen regarding the manner in which Lynch and the Seahawks will disengage. Since he remains on the team’s reserve/retired list, the Seahawks can say to Lynch “play for us or play for no one.” They also can seek trade compensation from the Raiders, or the Seahawks can just release him.

While Seahawks management may be resisting the idea of Lynch waltzing to Oakland, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, apparently speaking on behalf of the locker room, has no objection to it.

“Well, [Marshawn’s] been talking about Oakland. He’s from the town, so that’s like going home for him,” Sherman said on ESPN. “It’d be like a basketball player growing up in L.A. and saying, ‘I’m going to play for the Lakers one day.’ It’s probably something he’s always wanted to do since he was a kid, so we’ve got no problem with that.”

The Raiders surely have no problem with that, for multiple reasons. Beyond needing a running back who can move the chains and/or the needle on the seismograph, they’ll need someone who can resonate locally through what could be one or two years of lame-duck status in Lynch’s hometown.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

With trial against NFL looming, Romo schedules fantasy football convention (again)

Getty Images

Tony Romo may not be doing business in Dallas come September, but he plans to be making a little money there in July. And maybe in November.

Rumor’s National Fantasy Football Convention, scrapped in 2015 and 2016, will happen in Dallas from July 14 to 16. If, you know, it actually happens this time.

“Our main goal has always been to give the fans a chance to interact with the players during a truly unforgettable experience, and after 3 years of hard-work were unbelievably excited to see it all come together this summer in Dallas,” NFFC CEO Andy Alberth said in a statement. “We’re also excited about the impact the convention is going to have on local businesses and the overall economic benefit it will have on the city of Dallas.”

Originally scheduled for 2015 in Las Vegas, the NFL allegedly pressured players not to attend, based on the fact that it was due to happen at a facility owned by a casino (but not at a casino). The event moved to Los Angeles for 2016, but it ultimately was canceled, with Romo citing “blatant and continued interference” of the NFL.

Meanwhile, although litigation arising from the 2015 cancellation failed, the 2016 plug-pulling seems to be on track for a day in court. Public records show that a trial has been set for November 6 regarding claims filed by the NFFC against the NFL and Electronic Arts.

Electronic Arts, maker of the popular Madden video game series, allegedly withdrew as a sponsor of the event at the behest of the league.

Registration for the 2017 event opens on April 15 at GoNFFC.com.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Adrian Peterson: I will play this year, it’s about the right fit

Getty Images

Free agent running back Adrian Peterson says he remains unemployed not because he’s asking for too much money, and not because teams aren’t interested, but because he wants to find the right team for him, and that can take time.

Apparently annoyed by an ESPN report that he had turned teams off with an $8 million salary request, Peterson took to Twitter and said it’s not a financial issue.

“You can’t believe everything you read or hear people,” Peterson wrote. “The last thing I’m worried about is playing ball this coming season. That will happen! It’s not all about the money as everyone is speculating here lately. You’d think these analysts spoke to me directly. When you don’t know what’s going on people will say anything to create or make a story!”

Peterson said he’s eager to go to a Super Bowl contender.

“Finding the best fit and helping a team in a major way win a championship is my main objective! I’m in no rush,” Peterson wrote.

When that will happen remains to be seen, but Peterson’s comments suggest that he’d be fine with waiting until training camps open before he finds the right team. He’s committed to playing, but he’s not committed to finding his team right away.

Permalink 37 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

After losing two in one game, Eagles seek protection for long snappers

Getty Images

Long snapping is a unique skill, and few NFL teams have more than one player who can do it well. So after the Eagles lost both their starting long snapper and their emergency backup long snapper in the same game last year, they’re seeking to expand protections for long snappers in 2017.

The Eagles have proposed a rule that would prevent the defensive team from hitting the long snapper until a full second after the snap. That would allow the long snapper to snap the ball and then put his head and hands up to protect himself before anyone can touch him.

The precise wording of the Eagles’ rule proposal is, “When a team is in scrimmage kick formation, a defensive player may not initiate contact with the snapper until one second has elapsed after the snap.” Breaking that rule would be considered unnecessary roughness, a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down.

During a December game, Philadelphia starting long snapper Jon Dorenbos suffered a season-ending wrist injury. That left Brent Celek as the emergency long snapper, but Celek got hurt during the game, too. Trey Burton then entered the game as the third-string long snapper and successfully snapped a ball to the holder on a field goal.

It was impressive that Burton could do that, but the Eagles would prefer not to have to rely on him again.

Permalink 21 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Richard Sherman: Kaepernick’s unemployment not about football

Getty Images

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman thinks Colin Kaepernick’s inability to find a team is entirely about his national anthem protest.

“There was a year Matt Schaub had a pretty rough year and got signed the next year. So it has nothing to do with football,” Sherman said on ESPN. “You can see that. They signed guys who have had off years before.”

The idea that football has “nothing” to do with Kaepernick’s inability to find a job just doesn’t carry any water. If Sherman thinks Kaepernick’s unemployment is solely about the anthem protest, then how does Sherman explain the tepid interest in Kaepernick when the 49ers made him available for trade last year, before the anthem protest? Kaepernick has undeniably declined significantly as a player since he burst onto the scene as the 49ers’ starter in 2012. Over the last two seasons, Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert have shared time in San Francisco and played approximately equally well, and Gabbert hasn’t been able to find a job, either.

But it’s also undeniable that a lot of NFL owners, general managers and coaches are conservative people who disagree with Kaepernick’s protest. It’s certainly possible that some of those people would be willing to look past Kaepernick’s on-field struggles but aren’t willing to look past his anthem protest, or his off-field political advocacy.

Sherman thinks Kaepernick is still better than most starting quarterbacks in the league.

“You don’t have 32 starting-level quarterbacks in this league,” Sherman said. “You have about eight elites, and then you have the rest of the league. You have about eight, nine elite quarterbacks. You have two or three who have the potential to be elite. And then you have the rest of the teams. So he could play and start on a ton of teams in this league. He would be a starter on probably 20 of the teams in this league. But you’re telling me that you’re going to let other guys, you’re going to pick up some of these other guys and tell me that they’re starters?”

If Kaepernick were really better than 20 teams’ starting quarterbacks, it’s hard to believe not a single one of those teams would be willing to sign him. But Kaepernick is surely at least one of the 64 best quarterbacks in the NFL, which means he should at least be able to get a job as a backup. Yet he remains unemployed.

Permalink 90 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Eagles owner speaks out against polarized political system

Getty Images

At a time when most NFL figures steer clear of anything remotely political, one owner has spoken out against the current political system in general.

In a column posted at Time.com, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie urges an end to the intense polarization that currently infects all things political, with people clinging to positions and refusing to consider the possibility that their views should be softened, revised, or flat-out abandoned.

“What I have learned from football can be applied to society at large,” Lurie writes. “Just as we intensely game-plan against an opponent in sports, we need to game plan for the reality and consequences of polarization. Extreme polarization is the opponent — not each other. A football team is made up of players from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and political viewpoints. What unites them is grit, determination, and the desire to win. They join in a common goal and do what is necessary to transcend their differences for the greater good of their team.”

The American political system currently features those qualities, but only within the confines of the red state/blue state battle that constantly plays out on each and every issue. Lurie advocates unity for one specific cause: Solving the problem of autism.

“Imagine how we would benefit from understanding aspects of the autistic brain that can include rare mathematical, creative and other cognitive abilities that may well enhance our own brain power and human potential,” Lurie writes.

Whatever challenges we face as a society, it would be useful if people with different viewpoints would find a way to compromise and cooperate. The fact that an observation as innocuous and common sensical as that would be met with cries of “stick to sports!” demonstrates just how deeply divided we have become.

Permalink 43 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Connor Barwin: Eagles were ‘smart’ to cut me

Getty Images

Connor Barwin gets it. He understands.

The veteran defensive end carried a lofty salary. On the other side of the ball, a young quarterback in Carson Wentz needed more surrounding pieces to facilitate his development.

What followed was logical.

The former Eagle said Friday that there are no hard feelings for his release. Quite the contrary, in fact. Barwin told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane the Eagles were “smart” for choosing to part ways with him as they did, a March 9 move that sliced $7.75 million off the salary cap.

“Obviously, there was a ton of money invested in the defensive line room with Fletcher (Cox), Vinny (Curry), (Brandon Graham) and myself,” Barwin said to McLane. “Now they have a quarterback that appears to have a chance to be a really, really good player.

“I wish it wasn’t the money I was getting paid, but I think it was smart to use that money and help Carson.”

Barwin, 30, spent four seasons in Philadelphia.

That’s not long enough for a city statue to be built — Paul Walker may have a better chance in San Clemente, Calif. (seriously, just watch) — but it was long enough for Barwin to leave an impression for the class he showed while on the roster and grace exhibited once off it.

And to his point, the Eagles were active this month on offense.

They signed wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith along with offensive linemen Chance Warmack and Stefen Wisniewski. Veteran Nick Foles also joined the quarterbacks room on a two-year deal.

More help for Wentz.

Barwin understands.

Permalink 16 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jaguars sign DE Malliciah Goodman

Getty Images

Defensive end Malliciah Goodman was a spectator for most of last season.

After the Falcons waived him in early September, he remained a free agent for the season’s first seven weeks. The Seahawks then signed him for a week, waived him, and he went unsigned for another five through November. Goodman had a brief December stint with the Falcons before watching their run to the Super Bowl

This year, he hopes to stick.

Goodman signed Friday with the Jaguars. He will compete for a roster spot, although nothing will be guaranteed to him. The 2013 Falcons fourth-round pick has started 11 of 37 career games.

The bulk of that playing time came at the start of his career.

He’s played 40 defensive snaps combined in the past two years.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Arians had surgery due to Christmas Eve hug from Fitzgerald

Getty Images

Near the end of an otherwise lost season for Arizona, the Cardinals pulled off a memorable road win in Seattle on Christmas Eve. The victory triggered an overly enthusiastic reaction from receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

As explained by Kent Somers of azcentral.com, Fitzgerald hugged coach Bruce Arians hard enough to tear a rotator cuff in his shoulder.

“It’s all Fitz’s fault, he caused the whole thing,” Arians said, via Somers. “It’s going to cost him.”

The question came up of Fitzgerald getting Arians a get-well card.

“It’s going to be a get-well convertible,” Arians said. “I’m still deciding what kind.”

Arians remains in a sling. Which probably means that the convertible should be an automatic, not a standard.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top