The Coach has spoken, and Colin Kaepernick will be starting for the San Francisco 49ers. Mike Florio explains what Jim Harbaugh will need to do to instill some confidence in the young QB. Florio also discusses a Ndamukong Suh conspiracy theory involving NFL officials, and the odds a Super Bowl could be played in the Mile-High City.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Crisis averted. ColinKaep starts
The ongoing debate regarding the issue of player celebrations in the NFL overlooks a key threshold question: If a player goes too far, why should his team be penalized?
In theory, taking away 15 yards of field position creates a strong incentive for coaches to tell players what is and isn’t allowed, and to enforce it. But why should the team be punished for a player crossing in the heat of the moment a line that has nothing to do with the play of the game, and that creates no harm to the opponent?
The NFL consistently has explained that the rule arises from a desire to not invite retaliation from players who feel disrespected by a celebration. If someone crosses the line in that regard, however, the league has tools for dealing with it. Also, when since T.O. stood on the Dallas star did a player ever take matters into his own hands because of a celebration?
Players should be expected to not react to anything that happens on the football field, and chances are that the temptation to retaliate comes more strongly from direct contact that happens between the snap and the whistle. So vague fear of player retaliation shouldn’t be a reason for restricting celebrations — and it definitely doesn’t justify imposing a 15-yard penalty on the player’s team.
Removing the penalty element also makes the celebration violation less of a talking point on the day of the game. By the time the fine is imposed, the fans will be paying attention to something else.
So instead of obsessing over every little nuance about what is and isn’t allowed regarding conduct that may or may not cause 15 percent of the field to shift, why not simply make it a topic no different than the player wearing non-conforming shoes or otherwise doing things that may get them in trouble personally, but that won’t impact the team?
The Chargers know that Philip Rivers will be their starting quarterback in 2017 and he’s under contract for a couple more seasons, but they have started thinking about what comes next at the position.
General Manager Tom Telesco didn’t rule out drafting a quarterback early in the draft when asked about the future at quarterback earlier this month and the team got an up-close look at one that’s expected to be off the board fairly in April’s proceedings. Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports that the Chargers held a private workout with Patrick Mahomes in Lubbock, Texas recently.
Head coach Anthony Lynn, who also went to Texas Tech, attended the workout along with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen.
Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that the Chargers also had a private workout with Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who is projected to be a third day pick next month. Getting picked at that point wouldn’t make him the heir apparent for Rivers, but would give the Chargers a prospect to develop as they begin life in Los Angeles.
The Saints have a bit more cap space to play with this year.
Field Yates of ESPN.com reports that left tackle Terron Armstead has agreed to restructure his deal with the team. Armstead’s $5 million roster bonus has been converted into a signing bonus to spread the cap hit out over a deal that runs through the 2021 season.
The immediate impact of the move is that the Saints will have $4 million in cap space available this offseason that wasn’t previously at their disposal.
Any new money added to the Saints’ coffers leads to thoughts that they could apply that to their pursuit of Patriots cornerback and restricted free agent Malcolm Butler. The offer sheet for Butler is only part of the equation, of course, as the Patriots have the right to match and the Saints would have to be OK with giving up the 11th overall pick in the draft if New England doesn’t match.
There’s also a chance the two sides could work out a deal for different compensation, although that can’t happen unless Butler signs his restricted free agent tender or another deal with the Patriots.
President Trump took some credit for Colin Kaepernick’s continued unemployment this week, saying that NFL owners may not want to sign Kaepernick because they don’t want the president to tweet criticism of a team for signing a player who declined to stand for the national anthem. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says Trump is entitled to that point of view.
Asked about Trump’s comment on Mike & Mike, Goodell said, “That’s a comment that he’s going to make and that’s fine.”
Goodell indicated, however, that he thinks teams are evaluating Kaepernick’s on-field abilities.
“Our teams are out there working hard to figure out how they can improve each of their clubs. They’re making the best decisions they can. And they’re going to do what they can to improve their teams and win. That’s what they want to do for the fans. So that’s what they’re focused on and that’s what we’re focused on. Everyone’s going to make other comments, and obviously we’re respectful of those comments, particularly from the president.”
Ultimately, Goodell said, teams build around players they think will help them win.
“I can’t speculate on that,” Goodell said. “The 32 owners, I think their major focus is on winning and whatever it takes to win and they think reflects well on their team, that’s what they’re gonna do. And so I think from their standpoint, they want to win, and they’re putting teams together and trying to find the players and coaches and everyone else who can help create that kind of chemistry that’s going to lead to a winning team.”
It remains to be seen how long Kaepernick will have to wait to find a team that thinks he can help it win.
As NFL ratings declined last year and fans complained that the quality of the game had slipped, Thursday night games drew particular wrath. The league is hoping to fix that.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL is working on improving the quality of Thursday games by reducing the number of commercial breaks.
“I felt the increased commercialization, particularly on Thursday night, where we’re going to have more aggressive changes — we’re going to reduce that,” Goodell said.
Goodell said he didn’t realize how many commercial breaks there were during Thursday games last season and admits there were too many. Goodell seemed to be referring both to commercials from sponsors and to the networks taking time during games to promote their other shows.
“To my surprise last year, we put some more commercialization in there — there were some more spots in that I was not aware of and we saw that and we’re going to get that back out of the game,” Goodell said.
“So many mentions that are not related to the game on the field, we’re going to reduce that, we’re going to take that out.”
Fans will appreciate that. Especially fans who have to get up early for work on Friday morning, and aren’t keen on staying up late on Thursday nights to watch a lot of commercials.
For the first time ever, the NFL is moving to a rule that will give the league’s head of officiating — not the referee — final say on replay reviews.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Mike & Mike that under the 2017 rules, the replay review will go to head of officiating Dean Blandino, and although Blandino will consult with the referee on the field, it will be Blandino who makes the final decision. Although the NFL has already implemented the procedures that allow the referee to communicate with the league’s officiating office, in past years it was still the ref who had final say.
“We are going to centralize the replay back here in New York,” Goodell said. “Dean Blandino will have the final decision. We think that will move it much quicker.”
Goodell also said referees will be told to announce the replay decision immediately in the stadium, rather than waiting for the end of a commercial break, so that the ball can be spotted and the teams can be lined up and ready for the next play as soon as the commercial break ends.
“We want to get going. We want to be ready to play,” Goodell said.
The NFL has said that a major priority this season is speeding up games and cutting down on unnecessary delays. Streamlining replay is one way to do that.
We still don’t know what Peyton Manning wants to do with the rest of his life.
But the retired quarterback seemed to cross one potential job off his list, saying during a speech in Las Vegas that he had no interest in politics.
Specifically, his name was linked with the seat of Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, who is mulling retirement rather than running for a fourth term in 2020.
“I don’t know where that came from. Last week I was going to run a team, this week I going to apparently run for Senate, and next week I’ll be an astronaut,” Manning said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “I have no interest in the political world, but would like to continue serving communities.”
Honestly, Manning’s doing pretty well doing the speaking circuit at the moment, but there will always be speculation about him returning to football in some capacity. His name was linked with the Colts this offseason as a potential executive, and television seems to be there for him whenever he wants it.
But at the moment, he seems to be enjoying talking and playing a lot of golf, as he did at the recent AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Of course, that combination makes him uniquely qualified for certain jobs. All he really needs is a Twitter account.
At a time when there aren’t nearly enough quarterbacks to fill all the starting roles in the NFL, Brett Favre is throwing again.
Alford posted a short video on social media of Favre throwing, and there still seems to be plenty of pop in his right arm.
Of course, if Favre was thinking about doing anything more than tossing it around while wearing a pair of khakis, we’d have heard about it by now. Right?
I mean, he’s only 47, and would likely be an immediate upgrade for a few teams in the league, who either don’t have one, or have the money to burn on draft picks who might never become one.
Most people see the Ravens leaning toward a WR with the 16th pick.
A number of Bengals players are still facing uncertain futures.
Return man Josh Cribbs retired as a member of the Browns.
The Texans are still looking for offensive line help.
The Titans had a clear focus on improving their special teams this offseason.
Southern Cal’s JuJu Smith-Schuster would love to stay home and play for the Chargers.
The Cowboys will be taking a long look at LBs in the draft.
The Bears hope getting some guys healthy will make a difference in this offseason.
A look at how the Packers could fill their remaining roster holes.
The Saints have kept a revolving door of LBs going recently.
Free agency helped bring the Cardinals draft board into focus.
The Seahawks still need help on the offensive line.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Misi’s agent said his recovery from neck surgery has been good, and that he expects to be ready for training camp.
“He’s in the Dolphins’ plans,” agent Kenny Zuckerman said. “If he’s healthy, he’ll be there. He will be [medically] cleared during the offseason.”
The Dolphins must share some degree of confidence that he will be cleared sometime in May as well. Though they carved about $2 million off his cap number, they still guaranteed $1.15 million of his salary, something they probably wouldn’t have done if they were worried about his condition.
After a neck injury which limited him to three games last year, he underwent surgery and is still working his way back.
The Dolphins have explored signing free agent Zach Brown, to go along with new acquisition Lawrence Timmons and the extended Kiko Alonso. But either way, Misi seems to be hanging around in some capacity.
Muhammad Wilkerson has fired back, but so far, none of the people paid to write about him have followed suit.
After reports that he was out of shape while watching Temple’s pro day recently, Wilkerson posted on social media in response.
According to Brian Costello of the New York Post, Wilkerson posted a video from a gym, dripping in sweat and sending a clear message.
“They say I’m fat and out of shape?” Wilkerson said in the video. “Haha. Keep sleeping on me. I’m telling you. I love it.”
Of course, the criticism of Wilkerson began when he signed a huge contract last summer, and failed to follow up on the work that earned it, with just 4.5 sacks last year (after 12.0 in the salary drive).
Of course, the criticism also came from one source, and led to an amusing media slap-fight.
So far, neither of the parties involved have chosen to make it personal this time. But it’s early yet. We have the popcorn ready just in case.
Dwight Clark, the legendary 49ers receiver who later served as general manager of the Browns, announced recently that he was diagnosed with ALS. Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar apparently thinks that’s something to joke about.
Kosar, who has a track record of making rambling and inappropriate statements on the radio, did so again on Wednesday, when he said on ESPN Radio in Cleveland that he suspected Clark may have already had ALS when he was the G.M. in Cleveland and that was why he didn’t succeed in that role.
“We had a bad weekend with Gale Sayers being diagnosed [with dementia] . . . Dwight Clark with ALS,” Kosar said. “I could make a joke about his struggles in picking players when he was here. It almost makes me wonder if maybe it started earlier.”
To joke about someone suffering ALS — as cruel a diagnosis as anyone can ever receive — is shockingly callous. It’s also extremely ignorant to suggest that ALS would affect a general manager’s decision making. ALS does horrific things to the body, but it doesn’t touch a sufferer’s mind. (Stephen Hawking has been making brilliant scientific discoveries for decades while suffering from ALS.)
After people on Twitter told Kosar he should apologize to Clark, Kosar answered by tweeting, “I absolutely Ment [sic] no Disrespect to Dwight!”
Kosar may not have meant disrespect, but his comment was certainly disrespectful. Perhaps it’s time that radio stations stop giving him a platform.
In a matter of days, the NFL will gather all teams, coaches, General Managers, owners, etc. in Arizona for the annual meeting. The sessions include an inevitable tweaking of the rules.
So which rule tweak do you most want to see?
It’s Thursday’s PFT Live question of the day. Cast a ballot below, drop a comment (or something else if your stomach is bubbling), and then tune in for the show.
We get rolling on the radio side at 6:00 a.m. ET, with NBCSN joining the party at 7:00 a.m. ET. Guests include Hall of Fame defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene and PFT’s Darin Gantt.
The NFL is preparing a training video that will show players which types of celebrations are allowed, and which ones will draw 15-yard penalties. Packers tight end Martellus Bennett does not plan to watch.
In a series of messages on Twitter, Bennett took aim at the NFL and executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent, who announced that the league is preparing the video.
“An educational training video on celebrations? Spend that money on something else like a video on investments or something that will help the players,” Bennett wrote. “Who gives a s–t what guys do when they celebrate. Do something impactful. Y’all wasting guys time with this s-t. Let the players express their individuality and creativity. Y’all gonna make an educational video on how we should talk next?”
Bennett said the NFL wants players to be robots, not individuals.
“An educational video on appropriate celebrations. Not signing up for that class,” Bennett wrote. “See the NFL promotes the logos not the players. The NBA promotes its players. Big difference. NFL knows players wont be around long so they invest all resources into the building team logos for longevity. That’s the constant variable. Except for the QB position. That’s why they’re the Face of the franchise. NBA on the other hand they can invest in the players being the face of the entire league. Look at the advertising of both.”
When that video is shown at Packers training camp, Bennett says, he’ll excuse himself to use the restroom.
“I’m going to be taking a 15 minute dump whenever we’re supposed to watch this ‘educational’ video,” Bennett wrote. “I can feel my stomach bubbling now.”
The Seahawks had expressed their intentions to add a kicker to their roster to compete with Blair Walsh.
The team announced Wednesday evening that they signed John Lunsford to do just that.
Lunsford was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this week after signing a futures contract with the team in January. Lunsford spent time with the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason last year, appearing in three games. He converted both extra point attempts tried and had five kickoffs with two going for touchbacks.
Lunsford will provide offseason competition with Walsh. Steven Hauschka – Seattle’s kicker for the last six seasons – signed with Buffalo and was not expected to return following the Seahawks’ signing of Walsh last month.