Mike Florio chats with ESPNCleveland.com writer Tony Grossi about the Browns’ recent 20-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. They also discuss if RB Trent Richardson is feeling the love from the Cleveland faithful, an injury update on QB Brandon Weeden, and if QB Colt McCoy will still be with the team in 2013.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Browns better than their record?
ESPN has announced the seven quarterbacks from this year’s draft class who will participate in the annual Jon Gruden QB Camp series that will begin airing two weeks before the draft.
DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Nathan Peterman, Joshua Dobbs and Brad Kaaya will be this year’s participants. All seven will spend time in the film room and on the field with Gruden, a former NFL head coach turned television analyst, and he will address their strengths, weaknesses and tendencies in segments that will ultimately air across various platfotms.
This is the eighth year for the QB Camp series, and in the past it has produced some pretty interesting and revealing moments.
As he does, Gruden praised the entire class in the press release for the show, but had especially high praise for Watson.
“There are some unknowns this year, but this class starts with Deshaun Watson,” Gruden said. “His body of work is as impressive as any quarterback we’ve had come through QB Camp. I got the chance to see him live and I think he has a ton of ability. There are some underclassmen coming out who have questions that need to be answered. That’s why this process is exciting. But three or four years from now, I expect people will be saying this is a pretty good quarterback class.”
Hiding in plain sight among the NFL’s various P.R. gaffes is one the most brilliant masterstrokes in the history of shaping opinion: The idea that it’s somehow an honor to prevent a football player from selecting the pro football team for which he’ll play.
The draft process, which runs counter to the American notion of open markets and freedom of choice, prevents employees from selecting the company for which they will work. Instead, the employees are assigned to their employers based on a rotation that allows the employers to secure dibs on them.
The draft has become part of the league’s bedrock, even though it’s relevance to competitive balance in the age of free agency and the salary cap is minimal. And the employees who aspire to be drafted as high as possible are wired to take a step back and ask, “Shouldn’t I be picking the team instead of the team picking me?”
I posed that question to former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II on Thursday’s PFT Live. He provided the same response that, frankly, I would have given at the age of 21, while on the brink of hoping to be picked as early as possible.
“I guess you could say that but at the same time it’s really exciting,” Mahomes said. “You get to go into draft day, it’s gonna be a dream come true. I’m gonna get to sit there and watch the draft and hopefully get that phone call and get drafted. I mean you’re gonna be excited to go no matter where it is. They’re all great teams, all great cities and I just wanna get there now and hopefully get to the right team with the right coaching.”
At the tail end of the answer came a whisper of deviation from the standqard pre-draft talking point. He wants to get to the “right team with the right coaching.” But if that happens, it won’t be the product of Mahomes’ decision-making process; it will be a result of the right team with the right coaching deciding Mahomes is the right guy. What if the wrong team with the wrong coaching picks Mahomes? For at least four and maybe five years, there’s nothing he can do about it.
“There’s definitely no team that I’d prefer not to play for,” Mahomes added. “I really just want a team that has great coaching and that can really help me develop to be the best quarterback I can be and hopefully win a few championships.”
The truth could be at Mahomes simply isn’t able at this point to identify which teams will, and which teams won’t, help him fulfill that objective. And since neither he nor any other draft pick will have any say over where he will be, there’s no reason for Mahomes to try to figure out where he’d like to be drafted, and where he wouldn’t like to be drafted. The draft culture compels the players to compete for the false honor of being drafted as high as possible, with the hope that their NFL careers won’t be derailed by the wrong team and the wrong coaching at the wrong time.
As more and more states have adopted laws permitting the medical and/or recreational use of marijuana, momentum has been building toward softening the NFL’s clear, unambiguous, blanket policy against the substance. That momentum may be slowing down.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer drew a distinction on Thursday between medical and recreational marijuana, suggesting that the pending federal prohibition regarding marijuana use could be used to push back against states that allow it recreationally.
“There’s a big difference between [medicinal marijuana] and recreational marijuana,” Spicer said, via Forbes.com. “I think that when you see the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law we need to abide by in terms of when it comes to recreational marijuana.”
That shouldn’t be a surprise, given the appointment of long-time marijuana opponent Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Sessions has said in the past, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and that legalization of marijuana “is, in fact, a very real danger.” However, at his confirmation hearing, Sessions suggested that a showdown with the states that have legalized marijuana could result in an undue strain on the federal government’s overall resources.
President Trump has said that the marijuana issue should be handled “state-by-state,” and that “medical should happen.” However, it could be that the states now allowing recreational marijuana use (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts) and that those considering joining the jointing trend will be forced to reverse course, sooner than later.
That could throw a wrench into efforts by the NFL Players Association to make the current rules against marijuana “less punitive” regarding recreational marijuana use. At a minimum, it could make the NFL want an even bigger concession to change a policy that both sides agreed to, years ago.
Regardless of whether the federal government rolls back laws allowing the recreational rolling up of cigarettes that don’t contain tobacco, NFL players will continue to smoke marijuana. Under the current policy, players who are smart about when they smoke — and when they temporarily don’t — can smoke marijuana for most of the year without professional consequence. Players who want to smoke apparently will need to continue to be smart and discreet about it, or they eventually will face large fines and lengthy suspensions, culminating in banishment from the league.
Jim Harbaugh never has lasted longer than four years at any of his various coaching stops. For making it last that long in San Francisco, he believes he deserves special recognition.
“I take pride in that,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe there should be an endurance medal, a courage medal, for that.”
The issue came up because new coach Kyle Shanahan mentioned Harbaugh, Bill Walsh, George Seifert, and Steve Mariucci in Shanahan’s introductory press conference. Harbaugh said he doesn’t believe he spent enough time with the team to be compared to those other coaches. Harbaugh perhaps would have made it more than four years if he had been working with new G.M. John Lynch.
“I would’ve loved to have worked for John Lynch,” Harbaugh said. “He reminds me a lot of the athletic director we have here [at Michigan], Warde Manuel, who’s also a former player and a teammate of mine. Common-sense guys who are team guys, just the way they go about their business always speaks volumes.”
Harbaugh and former 49ers G.M. Trent Baalke didn’t see eye to eye, and that fractured relationship contributed in large part to the “mutual parting” with Harbaugh that came after the 2014 season. The 49ers have hired three coaches in only two full seasons since then.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said Thursday that the Vikings haven’t decided what they’ll do with running back Adrian Peterson and the same is true when it comes to quarterback Sam Bradford beyond the 2017 season.
Bradford is entering the final year of his contract and the uncertainty about Teddy Bridgewater’s health means that the Vikings will be picking up the $18 million cap hit. The Vikings traded first- and fourth-round picks for him following Bridgewater’s severe knee injury last summer, something Spielman said that he’d do “over in a second” given the position the Vikings were in.
He was less committal about what the team was thinking about for 2018. Spielman included Bradford among players whose contracts needed to be addressed, but gave no indication about the team’s plans.
“Everything’s in flux right now,” Spielman said, via Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “So, I’ll just leave it at that.”
Spielman said “everybody’s hoping” Bridgewater can play again, but that the quarterback hasn’t done any football drills at this point in his recovery. His progress in the coming months will likely play a role in any decision about Bradford’s future, although it will be hard to give up the bird in the hand should the Vikings find their way back to a winning record in 2017.
Folk made 27-of-31 field goal attempts last season and ranks as the second all-time leading scorer in franchise history with 729 points. He made 81 percent of his field goal tries for the Jets from 2010-16.
Folk, 32, was due to make $3 million in the one season remaining on his contract.
“It’s a sad day, but that’s the business side of things,” Folk told the Jets’ official website. “I had a great seven years here. I think the only thing that would’ve topped it off would’ve been a couple of Super Bowl wins.”
Giacomini started 37 games in three seasons with the Jets. He was a full-time starter in his first two years but was limited to five games last season by a back injury. He also had one year left on his contract and was due to make $4.5 million in 2017.
If you’re going to have a breakout season, you might as well have it when you’re about to be a free agent.
That’s a lesson that cornerback A.J. Bouye is learning this offseason. Bouye had his best NFL season for the Texans in 2016 and heads into free agency poised to cash in on that success via the franchise tag or the open market. Recent word out of Houston is that the Texans aren’t planning to tag Bouye — the salary is expected to be over $14 million with a tag this year — and Bouye says that’s fine with him.
“I talked to my agent, and I’m not mad that they probably won’t franchise me, just because of how much the franchise tag is for a corner,” Bouye said to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. “It’s a lot. At the same time, the situation in Houston, money-wise, there’s no telling what’s going to happen. At the end of the day, I know they want to bring me back, but they have other things they have to address, which I totally understand.”
Breer spoke to an AFC personnel exec who said he believes Bouye will be the “clear king of the class” in free agency once tags are given out and referenced the five-year, $62 million deal that Janoris Jenkins signed with the Giants last year. That’s heady territory for an undrafted player who got his first extended playing time last season, but it doesn’t sound unrealistic given the rising cap and the constant need for cornerbacks around the league.
Once again, a guy who was once an early free agent big-ticket signing has found his way to the unemployment line.
It was 2014 when the Bucs made Verner a splash signing, but since then, they found a new flavor of the month. Last year’s first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves III made him expendable, though Verner’s own play had contributed to that.
He was benched in his second year in Tampa, and was due $6.5 million this year, so it made sense from a football perspective. But it also serves as a reminder to keep some of the prizes of early March in perspective.
Those moves and ones to shore up the offensive line paid off with a third-place finish in rushing yards as the team went 9-7 for their first winning season since 2011. Murray was the lead back with 293 carries while Henry ran the ball 110 times, something that coach Mike Mularkey suggested will continue to be the arrangement in 2017 when asked about the team’s plans at an event on Wednesday night.
“Derrick is an important part of our offense,’’ Mularkey said, via the team’s website. “Obviously DeMarco Murray is the guy. He has shown he is the guy and he will continue to be that guy. But I will say this: Each week we put a different game plan together. We spend a lot of hours preparing to play the opponent. And Derrick, and as you saw, some games he was more involved than others. And a lot is based on how we are going to attack the opponent. We know (Derrick) is very special. He is going to have a long, great career here and he is going to be a big part of our offense next year, as he was this year. I like we have a one-two punch to smash it down peoples’ throats to be honest with you.”
The pecking order could change in the coming months, but the Titans are set at running back regardless of which guy is playing the lead role. A reprise of last year’s rushing attack matched with a healthy Marcus Mariota and further improvements to the rest of the roster over the offseason should lead to plenty of optimism in Nashville heading into next season.
Will Adrian Peterson still be a Minnesota Viking when the team gets to work on the 2017 season? They don’t know yet.
That’s the word from Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman, who told reporters today that the team still needs to make its decision.
Unless Peterson is willing to take a big pay cut, it’s hard to imagine that decision will be anything other than cutting Peterson. Peterson is 31 years old, coming off a knee injury and due $18 million in 2017. It would be crazy for the Vikings to pay a declining running back that kind of money.
Whether Peterson is willing to take a big pay cut remains to be seen, but Spielman did say he views Peterson as someone who will always be a Viking. That may be true, in the same sense that Emmitt Smith will always be a Cowboy. But Smith finished his career in Arizona, and Peterson may have to finish his career elsewhere as well.
Russell Okung didn’t want to pay an agent three percent of a long-term, big-money deal. Instead, he got to keep 100 percent of a one-year, $5 million contract in Denver.
Praised for opting to negotiate his own contract, Okung’s much-hyped five-year, $53 million deal ended up being a one-season prove-it deal. He didn’t do nearly enough to prove to the Broncos that they should guarantee another $19.5 million.
None of the $5 million was guaranteed. Okung, who previously played for the Seahawks, had to participate in 90 percent of the offseason program and be on the roster at the end of it to earn the first $1 million. Then, he had to be on the Week One roster to earn a $2 million roster bonus and a $2 million salary.
So, basically, before he even had a chance to “prove it” as to the $19.5 million, he had to prove that he should be given a chance to earn the first $5 million.
The good news is that he’ll once again be a free agent. The bad news is that many more tackles will be available this year. The worst news is that, if Okung decides to not hire an agent, teams will be allowed to negotiate with the agents representing all of the looming free-agent tackles who have agents during the two-day legal tampering period. During that same window, teams won’t be allowed to negotiate with Okung.
UPDATE 2:25 p.m. ET: By participating in 99 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, Okung secured another $3 million in playing-time incentives. So the best tackle on the open market a year ago eventually earned $8 million without a penny of it guaranteed, and he’ll now be back on the market with a lot more competition than a year ago.
As Mike Mayock recently explained it, no team will draft former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon unless the owner approves it. Given the post-Ray Rice realities of the NFL, that’s hardly a surprise; more than 20 years ago, the Patriots renounced the rights to third-rounder Christian Peter after ownership became aware of his history of alleged and actual violence against women.
So with the caveat that Mixon will be an owner’s pick, is there an owner who will pick Mixon?
For some, it may be an issue of the round in which he’s available. As Mixon drops, the relative value increases. At some point, the benefit of having Mixon could outweigh the cost of picking him.
But the cost will be much more than the draft pick invested. P.R. fallout is inevitable, and any team that embraces Mixon will need to have a clear plan in place for explaining why Mixon has gotten a second chance, given the graphic video of a vicious punch to the face of a woman who was accosting him.
On the issue of whether players deserve second chances, keep in mind that, in a 32-team industry with only 53 players per team, giving a player a second chance necessarily means taking away the first chance of someone who most likely hasn’t committed any acts of violence beyond the confines of a football field.
Though not invited to the Scouting Combine (he should be), Mixon will have plenty of chances to make the case for picking him. He’ll get a chance to do that publicly on Monday, when he calls in to PFT Live.
With former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017, the NFL has given fans of those teams another reason to got Canton for enshrinement weekend.
The Cardinals will face the Cowboys in this year’s Hall of Fame Game, the league has announced.
The game will take place on Thursday, August 3, two days before the enshrinement ceremony. That’s a departure from past years, when the Hall of Fame Game took place on Sunday. Last year the NFL was left with a big black eye when the Hall of Fame Game had to be canceled because of wet paint on the field in Canton, and the league thinks spreading out the weekend will allow things to run more smoothly from a logistical standpoint — not to mention help Canton do more business with fans staying in town for another day.
The Cowboys are always a strong television draw, and the league will surely be glad to open the 2017 preseason with Dallas on national television. As long as there’s no wet paint on the field.
The free agent left tackle market keeps getting deeper.
The $1 million option would have activated the next four years at $48 million, with $20.5 million in guarantees, and that was too high a price for the Broncos to pay.
Okung can now go represent himself in a market that also includes players such as Ryan Clady, Matt Kalil, Andrew Whitworth and Kelvin Beachum, and that kind of crowd might make a guy want to hire an agent.
It also sets the stage for an extensive rebuild for the Broncos, whose offensive line was a major issue last year.
Good news, Dolphins fans. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s knee is healed.
Bad news (maybe), Dolphins fans. Tannehill’s knee is as healed as it will ever be, absent reconstructive surgery.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald explains that Tannehill, who suffered a second-degree MCL sprain and a slightly-torn ACL after taking a low hit from Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell in December, has “passed a battery of tests” regarding the stability and functionality of the knee and “is now ready to go.” Still, the ACL is partially torn, and ACL’s don’t heal on their own.
Here’s the key point, which Salguero made earlier this week during a visit to PFT Live: “Tannehill will not be any more susceptible to a future ACL tear in his left knee following his completed rehabilitation than if he’d had a reconstructive surgery.” Putting it another way, Tannehill is as susceptible to a full ACL tear as he would be if he had a full reconstruction.
So the chance remains that a full tear will happen, and that he’ll need a full reconstruction. Given the risks associated with full reconstruction, the Dolphins have decided that there’s no reason to do it unless and until the ACL completely goes.
Salguero also reports that Tannehill will wear a brace on his left knee in 2017, as a preventive measure. The end result is that Tannehill will be ready to go for the entire offseason program; if he had surgery on the knee, he surely would have been out of commission until training camp at the earliest.