Mike Florio talks with Tom Curran of CSN New England about Rob Gronkowski’s broken forearm and how it will affect the Patriots going forward during their playoff hunt. They discuss the judgment surrounding the decision to put Gronk on the field for an extra point when the Patriots were already winning big and how much the Patriots will miss their monstrous tight end.
PFT Live: How much will the Pats miss Gronk?
It’s not that Joe Namath thinks Geno Smith’s a bad player.
He just thinks the Jets didn’t need to draft him in the second round.
“No, I don’t think they needed a quarterback,” Namath said, via Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News. “They needed the other positions filled. Possibly offensive line. They got some defensive line. The safeties are still questionable. The outside linebackers are still questionable.”
There are many things about the Jets which could be described that way.
Namath blamed the recent poor play of quarterback Mark Sanchez to “distractions” — which I suppose, by extension, means they just added another. But Namath generally supported the incumbent starter, leaning on his early record as evidence he can play sufficiently well to start somewhere if not in New York.
“I am pulling for him,” Namath said of Sanchez. “I know that he can do better than he’s done. And we saw him lead a team to two AFC championship games, right? I also know what it’s like not to necessarily have the weapons you’d like to have, not to necessarily have the time you’d like to accomplish. . . .
“I know it’s a team game and I know Sanchez is going to play better. I promise you you’ll see a different guy [this year]. I believe you’ll see a different guy. Mark’s not a puppy anymore. He’s gone through some things, growing process. As far as Sanchez goes, even if he’s not with the Jets, he’s going to play as long as he wants to. He’s that good. As long as he wants to, he’s going to be in the NFL.”
Unless Sanchez can put the distractions behind him this year, he’s likely to get a chance to find that new address.
Plenty of skeptics believe that the league’s intent to alter its calendar, moving the draft from April to May and the Scouting Combine from February to March, arises not from a desire to expand the league’s footprint during the offseason but to lay the foundation for an expansion of the season.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell gave credence to those concerns by once again pointing out that the 18-game regular season remains a possibility.
“[The options] are all on the table,” Goodell said at a press conference that concluded the quarterly ownership meetings in Boston. “As I have said before, I think the structure of the season is something that we consistently reevaluate. I have been quite open about [indicating that] we have to address the quality of the preseason. I hear from fans consistently that they want to make every NFL event more valuable. They see the preseason as being less valuable to them because they don’t see the best players and the games do not count. We have to address that, whether we are looking at 18 [regular-season games] and two [preseason games] or 16-and-two and expanded playoffs. They are all on the table and things we are going to evaluate.”
Nudging the draft and the Scouting Combine deeper into the calendar would help accommodate a Super Bowl played two weeks later, which would in most years put it on President’s Day weekend. But the shift of the start of free agency from the middle of March to early March would arguably put too much of a pinch on the Super Bowl teams, which will have less time to negotiate with their looming free agents before they hit the market — or before the deadline for using the franchise tag.
Of course, the crowding of the Super Bowl and the start of free agency could be aimed at persuading the NFLPA eventually to say, “You know, we should move the start of free agency to April,” which the NFL reportedly wanted when talk of adjusting the calendar first emerged.
The bigger challenge for the league remains getting the NFLPA eventually to say, “You know, we should just play 18 regular-season games.” Two years ago, the thinking was that, if/when the league exercised its unilateral ability under the new CBA to shrink the preseason from four to two games, the union would calculate the impact of the lost revenue on the salary cap, compare it to the influx of revenue with the addition of two regular-season games, and not just agree to but insist on a move from 16 to 18. Since then, it has become harder to reconcile player health and safety with adding two games that count, and it’s hard to imagine the NFLPA accepting 18 games unless the league adopts the idea that every player would be limited to 16 appearances.
For those (like us) who think 18 games would be overkill, it’s encouraging that Goodell mentioned the possibility of 16-and-2 plus expanded playoffs as an alternative. Expanding the postseason would potentially replace the revenue lost by scrapping half of the preseason. Sure, it would mean one more game — but only for either four (if the field expands to 14) or eight (if the field grows to 16).
The league may be years away from resolving the issue. With each passing season, however, it’s harder to tolerate a four-game preseason — especially since Goodell has made it clear in recent years that the quality of those games is unacceptable.
You hear about players having breakout seasons all the time, but you rarely hear anyone talk about someone having a breakout offseason.
Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant had a breakout season in 2012. After two years of inconsistent performances and injuries, Bryant played in all 16 games for the Cowboys and turned in 92 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those were the kind of numbers that the team hoped to see when they took Bryant in the first round of the 2010 draft and numbers they likely worried about seeing after a chaotic offseason that culminated with an arrest for allegedly hitting his own mother.
Just as things came together for Bryant on the field last season, they seem to have come together for him off of it this year. Bryant’s name has only come up when people are talking about how focused he’s been on football and how much he’s grown up since the start of last season. Bryant took some time Tuesday to talk about his changed approach.
“I found myself,” Bryant said, via ESPNDallas.com. “I’m comfortable with my life. I’m enjoying being in the NFL. I wish it could’ve been a couple years back, but I had to go through a couple of things to figure it out. I think I got it and I’m just more focused on my job and doing what I love to do and that’s playing football.”
After Bryant’s arrest last summer, there was a lot of talk about a set of behavioral guidelines that Bryant had to follow to remain a member of the Cowboys. The Cowboys denied putting them in place, but owner Jerry Jones said Bryant had to change his lifestyle to stay in Dallas. One doesn’t count their chickens before they hatch, so we’ll say only that all those efforts have paid off to this point and produced the best Bryant we’ve seen on and off the field since he entered the NFL.
At first blush, it looks like an unequivocal commitment. Like so often when it comes to the Los Angeles leverage game, however, careful inspection of the words suggests that the door is open — even if only a little bit.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos, speaking to Albert Breer of NFL.com at the quarterly ownership meetings in Boston, explained that the Chargers want to remain in San Diego.
“I’ve said this the last 10 years,” Spanos said. “The Chargers belong in San Diego. That’s where we want to be. We’re going to continue to try to get something done in San Diego.”
At some point, however, the Chargers’ wants will give way to their needs. The combination of San Diego’s unwillingness to help build a new stadium and the looming possibility of one — and possibly two — NFL teams moving in just 90 miles up the road could at some point prompt the Chargers to become at least one of the teams to make the fairly short jaunt.
The Chargers are one of the few teams with the annual ability to abandon their lease via a payment that reduces each year. Spanos made it clear that, to get something done in San Diego, a payment from the public coffers will be needed.
“It’s very difficult to get public money in the state of California, but in our marketplace, we need a public contribution to get something done,” Spanos said. “Everybody’s aware of it. We just need to find the right formula that works for everybody, and it has to be fair for everybody. The politicians know what needs to be done. We just need to get something and make it work.”
Perhaps Spanos feels optimistic because the 49ers have found a way to ditch one of the worst stadiums in the NFL for a swanky new venue that will host Super Bowl L. Still, at the current rate of governmental action, the Chargers could eventually get that new stadium and host another NFL title game when the it’s time to play Super Bowl C.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has been involved with the sport of IndyCar Racing ever since his playing days for the Indianapolis Colts in the late 1990′s. Now he gets a chance to play a part in one of motor racing’s greatest spectacles.
According to Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star, Harbaugh will drive the pace car to lead the 33-car field to the green flag Sunday morning for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. Harbaugh will be in front of the field in a 2014 Corvette Stingray leading the way to the green flag.
“I know my heart is going to be beating out of my chest,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh played for the Indianapolis Colts from 1994-1997. During his time in Indianapolis, Harbaugh became a co-owner of Panther Racing and has been involved with the sport ever since. The team has used Harbaugh’s No. 4 from his playing days with the Colts as the number for their car. J.R. Hildebrand starts 10th Sunday for the team in the No. 4 National Guard car. Panther racing is also providing rides for Oriol Servia (13th) and Townsend Bell (22nd) in the race.
Arizona Cardinals tight end Jeff King has yet to make it onto the practice field with the team this offseason.
According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, King has been unable to participate in OTAs after having surgery on his knee this offseason.
The Cardinals are hopeful he can begin practicing again with the team in June. King dealt with a knee injury last season for the Cardinals. He appeared in 12 of 16 games for Arizona and caught 17 passes for 129 yards on the year.
As we launch into the last of the eight division’s Mt. Rushmore nomination process, we’ll start with the franchise whose best days could be coming up very soon.
As in, this year.
For now, though, you’ll have to draw on the past when coming up with the nominees who’ll eventually be carved down to four figures from the team with the helmet that looks like a funky Jack-o-Lantern.
Possibilities include Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason, James Brooks, Corey Dillon, Chad Johnson, Cris Collinsworth, Isaac Curtis, Anthony Muñoz (who else remembers Madden pronouncing it without the tilde?), Reggie Williams, and others.
So have at it, with any of the above or others.
On a day where NFL owners picked two Super Bowl sites and left one out in the cold, the Raiders and Chargers made moves to secure two of the better remaining free agents — moves that could help both clubs avoid getting caught short at positions of need.
The Raiders, who have done well to rework their secondary, brought back safety / cornerback Charles Woodson for another stint. He gives the Raiders a little more playmaking ability and experience on the back end of their defense.
The Chargers, meanwhile, finally added another veteran left tackle, signing Max Starks. Perhaps Starks ends up the starter, or maybe King Dunlap wins the job. The point is, the Chargers have more options now, and that’s not a bad thing.
The same can be said about the Raiders. At the beginning of April, their secondary was not in good shape. Since then, the Raiders have drafted cornerback D.J. Hayden in the first round and signed veteran cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter. And now, Woodson strengthens their hand at safety.
With Woodson employed, ex-Cardinal Kerry Rhodes and ex-Ram Quintin Mikell are the two most accomplished safeties left on the market. Mikell, for the record, replaces Woodson on PFT’s All-Unemployed Team, which was updated Tuesday night.
Starks’ signing further thins the left tackle market, with ex-Eagle Demetress Bell taking his place on the All-Unemployed squad.
The Chargers had a need, and they made a reasonable attempt at filling it Tuesday. The same can be said for the Raiders.
As summer nears, this is getting tougher and tougher to do around the league.
Count Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch among the group of players exercising their right to not attend voluntary offseason workouts across the league.
Lynch was the only healthy member of the Seahawks not to be in attendance for the team’s first OTA practice on Monday. Defensive end Chris Clemons and defensive tackle Greg Scruggs were also not on hand but both are recovering from ACL surgeries.
Lynch is instead electing to adhere to his own workout program. He made an appearance by the team’s facility within the past two weeks and head coach Pete Carroll said he’s in great shape.
“He’s working in a very intense program in his area and he’s benefiting from it,” Carroll said.
That being said, Carroll still wishes his Pro Bowl running back would choose to be in the building working out with the rest of the team.
“We miss him and we’d like him to be here. This is a lot of fun and there is a lot of good stuff happening here,” Carroll said. “…We’d love to see everyone here.”
Being fresh for the start of the season ultimately will be the biggest desire for Lynch and Carroll. Lynch has carried the ball 600 times over the last two seasons and takes a beating due to his physical running style. He’s dealt with back issues the last two years as well. If sticking to his own workout plan keeps him on the field in the fall, don’t expect Carroll to be complaining too much about Lynch missing some offseason work with the team.
When agent Carl Poston told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that cornerback Charles Woodson’s contract with the Raiders had a “max” value of $4.3 million, I had a feeling the base value would be far lower than that.
And it is.
Poston now tells Anderson that the deal has a base value of $1.8 million.
Incentives make up the $2.5 million balance, and it’s unclear unknown what Woodson has to do to earn any, some, or all of that amount.
Incentives are tied to individual or team performance, from playing time to wins to playoffs appearances to qualifying for the AFC title game if Woodson were to hit Tom Brady like Woodson did a dozen years ago, since the Tuck Rule finally has been scuttled.
Even before the Chargers added long-time Steelers left tackle Max Starks on Tuesday, San Diego’s NFL team had been giving us plenty to talk about after a humdrum offseason.
So we talked about some of it on PFT Live, with Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego.
Acee explains the issues arising from the team’s unusual decision to shield rookie linebacker Manti Te’o from the media, which are unrelated to the question of whether anyone truly wants to continue to ask Te’o about his fake dead girlfriend. (We don’t, Acee doesn’t, and we don’t know of anyone who does.)
Yes, Charles Woodson has returned to the Raiders. The next question becomes how many million reasons they gave him to do it.
According to Josina Anderson of ESPN, Woodson’s agent, Carl Poston, said that the 1997 Heisman winner’s one-year deal is worth a “max” of $4.3 million, which includes a $700,000 signing bonus.
The maximum value, while significant, isn’t nearly as important as the base deal. And when Poston told Anderson that the deal is worth up to $4.3 million, Poston didn’t mention the base value.
It’s somewhere between $700,000 and $4.299999 million. Unless Poston opts to disclose the amount, we’ll all have to wait until the contract officially is filed.
Woodson’s decision to sign on the same day he visited the Raiders suggests that they made an offer that met his demands. Over the weekend, Woodson said he’d be interested in the Lions “[i]f I make it out of my visit with Oakland, like I just made it out of the visit with Denver.”
In other words, he had a number, and the Raiders met it. The Broncos, 49ers, and anyone else clearly didn’t.
Charles Woodson is heading back to the team that drafted him.
Woodson and the Raiders have agreed to terms on a one-year contract, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports first reported and the Raiders later confirmed.
The move comes as no surprise, as Woodson had visited Oakland and the Raiders were one of the few teams known to be interested. The 36-year-old Woodson has acknowledged that he didn’t have a lot of options after the Packers released him, although there was talk in recent days that interest was picking up from the Broncos.
The Raiders selected Woodson with the fourth overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft, and he was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons in Oakland. Woodson left for the Packers in free agency in 2006. Now he’s returning to his original team for another season, nearing the end of his NFL career in the place where it began.
Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL needs to move the draft from late April to May because of potential scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall, where the draft has been held every year since 2006.
According to Don Banks of SI.com, multiple team execs are opposed to the move.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find any football-side person in the league in favor of it,” an unnamed AFC G.M. told Banks. “Unless you consider having more time for draft preparation a benefit, more time for paralysis by analysis, there’s nothing to like. I’ve tried to think of one [positive], but I haven’t yet.”
One unnamed NFC executive doesn’t buy the excuse for the move.
“The league coming out and saying this is because of the Easter Bunny and the [Radio City Spring Spectacular] is almost embarrassing,” the unnamed executive told Banks. “This is the NFL. You think we couldn’t get those dates or make something work if we really wanted to? This is about moving the draft into May for [TV network] sweeps month. I’d rather somebody be honest and come out and just admit that it’s about ratings and TV issues. But I get it. I suppose we all should be thankful in that everybody in the league benefits financially when the league has success from a TV perspective.”
The root of the consternation comes from the stubborn resistance to change demonstrated by coaches and football executives.
“We’re all creatures of habit in this league, and we like things the way they are,” the unnamed NFC club executive told Banks. “Anything new is not going to be popular. We already have too much time to do draft analysis as is, and now maybe we’re going to have another three weeks of it? Next week we actually start working on next year’s draft, but if the draft isn’t held until mid-May, that work doesn’t even begin until June. And then it’s only late June or early July when things finally slow down.”
An unnamed NFL executive knows the fight is coming.
“The football ops people will raise hell,” the unnamed NFL exec said. “There are bunch of issues in play here, so don’t think that it’s done. Coaches and front office executives aren’t going to like not having their hands on their new players for another two or three weeks.
“They’ll say, ‘Hey, we need to get our hands on them and we need to coach them.’ So this could wind up having an effect on some integrity of the game issues, and we need to listen to that. There’s a lot of ground to cover on this and there’s a long way to go. This isn’t over at all.”
Still, it’s clear the NFL wants to nudge the draft into May. Next year, it will happen; the only question is whether the draft starts on May 8 or May 15. After the draft moves to May and the pro football world continues to spin, it’ll be easier for the league office to sell the teams on change moving forward.
Or, if need be, to force change upon them.
The man who would have loved to host Super Bowl L or LI in Cowboys Stadium has shown grace and class in response to the news that one of the two games will be played down the road in Houston.
“The presentation was one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Jones tells FOX 26 of the Houston presentation. “So professionally done. They talked about what football meant in Texas.”
Jones also had great things to say about Texans owner Bob McNair.
“Bob McNair came into the league as maybe one of the top four or five owners and has probably elevated himself up to the best one,” Jones said.
It’s a far cry from a dismissive crack Jones made in 2008 about Houston and the Texans.
“The Cowboys have never been about checkered tablecloths and boots and hats,” Jones said at the time. “They’ve been about glitz and glitter. Leave the other stuff to the Houston Texans.”
McNair had no problem with the things Jerry said nearly five years ago.
“I’m not offended by what Jerry said,” McNair said at the time. “I’m glad he knows we’re the Texans. I’m proud to be a Texan and a Houstonian. . . . Houston’s a hardworking city, and the Texans are a hardworking team. I don’t see anything wrong with checkered tablecloths, hats and boots.”
He also doesn’t see anything wrong with Super Bowls. After all, Houston will be hosting its third in 2017. Dallas is stuck at one.