In Mike Florio’s closing argument, he indicates that it’s the NFL’s job to provide players the necessary resources needed to become better educated on gun ownership.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: NFL needs gun education
A couple of Jets rookies signed their first NFL contracts on their first day of Organized Team Activities.
The Jets announced that second-round safety Marcus Maye and fifth-round linebacker Dylan Donahue have agreed to four-year deals with the team. Their signings leave the Jets with two unsigned picks from their nine-player class.
One of those players is safety Jamal Adams, who went in the first round and is expected to join Maye in playing a prominent role right off the bat. Maye broke his arm late in his final season at Florida and was wearing a red jersey during Tuesday’s practice.
Donahue had 25.5 sacks and 37.5 tackles for losses while playing at West Georgia over the last two seasons. It’s a big jump from the Division II Gulf South Conference to the NFL — Donahue was the first West Georgia player to be drafted — but the Jets have enough need for pressure off the edge that the rookie should get a chance to show he can make it.
The Vikings have resisted putting any timetable on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s recovery from the severe knee injury that kept him out for the entire 2016 season, but Bridgewater appears to be making progress on his path back to playing.
The team posted a video and photos from Tuesday’s first Organized Team Activity of the year that show Bridgewater taking snaps from center and dropping back to throw passes. There’s only so much you can tell from brief moving and still images of a practice in shorts, but Bridgewater appeared to be moving smoothly with a large brace on his left knee and any signs of progress are heartening given how seriously Bridgewater was hurt last summer.
Tuesday’s session was not open to the media, so there was no chance to hear from Bridgewater or Vikings coaches. Wednesday’s session will have media in attendance, however, and Bridgewater’s status will likely be a popular topic of conversation although head coach Mike Zimmer, who is recovering from eye surgery, won’t be there.
The Vikings did not pick up Bridgewater’s contract option for the 2018 season, which opens up the possibility that he’ll be a free agent next offseason. He may also see his contract for this year roll over to next year if he’s placed on the physically unable to perform list to start the regular season, so there’s a lot to play out as the Vikings watch to see how Bridgewater fares physically while taking on a bigger workload.
On the same day that the Buccaneers launched their annual offseason Organized Team Activities, a trio of players signed their rookie contracts.
The Buccaneers recently signed first-round tight end O.J. Howard. (That doesn’t really mean anything to the story. I just hated to not have three full paragraphs. Now I do.)
And there’s four.
The Texans have a big piece of their defense back on the field for Organized Team Activities, but two other key players were on the sidelines as the team moved into the final phase of their offseason work.
Defensive end J.J. Watt missed the final 13 games of the regular season and both playoff games after having his second back surgery of 2016, but is back to doing all the drills at Texans practice. Watt said during the offseason that he’d be more cautious with his individual workouts and reiterated that Tuesday while adding that he’s taking a different approach to team work.
“I think the slow pace applies a little more to the weight room than it does to the field,” Watt said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I don’t like to play slow. The best part is just being back out here with my teammates. It’s so much fun to be in the meetings, to be on the field and be back with the guys. I feel great. I’m sure we’ll have some sort of program where I take a day off here and there, but as far as when I’m allowed to be on the field, I feel awesome.”
Los Angeles lost the 2021 Super Bowl to Tampa today, as the NFL’s owners voted to delay the L.A. Super Bowl by a year because of construction delays on the new stadium. The Rams, who are building the stadium with owner Stan Kroenke’s money, say they’re fine with that.
Rams COO Kevin Demoff said in a statement that the Rams support the NFL’s decision and will now focus on getting the stadium ready a year later than planned.
“As work continues on the transformational sports and entertainment district being built at Hollywood Park, we are looking forward to moments such as a grand opening during the Summer of 2020 and the Super Bowl’s return to Los Angeles after nearly three decades,” Demoff said. “In the past week, we have worked with the NFL on the resolution that was presented today and are supportive of the NFL Owners’ decision to play Super Bowl LV in Tampa and to have Los Angeles host Super Bowl LVI in 2022. Over the next 90 days, we will continue to work with our partners across the Los Angeles region, including the Chargers, to deliver the elements promised in the bid that was approved last year.”
The Rams didn’t have much choice, as the NFL’s rules require a stadium to be open for two full seasons before it can host a Super Bowl. The NFL’s other owners could have voted to give the Rams a waiver and let them host the Super Bowl in the stadium’s first season, but they didn’t do that at today’s owners meeting. Instead, L.A. has been leapfrogged by Tampa, and Los Angeles is still nearly five years away from hosting a Super Bowl.
Last year, the Patriots and tight end Rob Gronkowski began the process of negotiating a new contract. His latest back surgery derailed that process, and also prevented as a practical matter a new deal in 2017.
That said, the Patriots agreed to the unusual step of giving Gronkowski an incentive package with nothing in return: No reduced salaries, no restructuring, no extra terms. Instead, it’s simply more money based on performance, on top of the money Gronkowski already was due to earn.
Gronkowski had been due to make $5.25 million in 2017, roughly $8.5 million in 2018, and $9 million in 2019. As it now stands, he has a three-tiered incentive package for 2017.
According to agent Drew Rosenhaus, Gronkowski can earn another $5.5 million, another $3 million, or another $1 million under the following formula: (1) if he participates in 90 percent of the offensive snaps OR catches 80 passes OR gains 1,200 receiving yards OR scores 14 touchdowns OR is named a first-team All-Pro, Gronkowski will earn the extra $5.5 million; (2) if he participates in 80 percent of the snaps OR catches 70 passes OR has 1,000 receiving yards OR scores 12 touchdowns, he gets the extra $3 million; or (3) if he participates in 70 percent of the snaps OR catches 60 passes OR has 800 receiving yards OR scores 10 touchdowns, he gets the extra $1 million.
The extra payments would be due in February, with the cap charge applying in 2018.
Gronkowski is a three-time first-team All-Pro, he has two seasons with 90 or more catches, one with more than 14 touchdowns, two with 12 or more, and three with 1,000 or more. Every time he has appeared in at least 15 games (with the exception of his rookie year), Gronkowski has had more than 1,000 receiving yards, and he has been named a first-team All-Pro.
It’s a true win-win, giving Gronkowski something more than what he was entitled to and ensuring that the Patriots will have a happy and motivated player. Talks on a potential extension for the 28-year-old will now be tabled until 2018, and his performance in 2017 will be a major factor in those discussions.
Based on his history, a healthy Gronkowski enhances the chances of the kind of season that will help him become a first-team All-Pro, delivering the $5.5 million regardless of playing time, catches, yards, or touchdowns. The only question is whether, given the various offensive additions the Patriots have made, the ball will come his way often enough to allow him to achieve the kind of performance that gets him enough All-Pro votes.
Given the size and reliability of the target he gives to quarterback Tom Brady, that presence of other options shouldn’t be a major issue.
On a day when the NFL would have been wise to borrow college football’s overtime procedures, pro football is instead adopting something else from the amateur game.
Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters at the conclusion of the ownership meeting in Chicago that the league will use a medical tent on the sidelines in 2017. The University of Alabama first employed the device in 2015, aimed at preventing fans or media from seeing physical examinations that otherwise would in plain view of opponents, media, and fans. Other programs began to adopt the device in 2016.
While useful for the evaluation of various physical ailments without taking him to the locker room, it may not be an appropriate substitute for a locker-room concussion evaluation, which benefits from the player being removed from the noise and the elements of the playing area, possibly with a chance to remove his shoulder pads and relax a bit, allowing for a meaningful assessment of his cognitive abilities.
The tent will inject a high degree of secrecy to the medical evaluation process, putting the media and fans at the mercy of the accuracy of the in-game updates by hiding what sideline reporters or binocular-equipped journalists in the press box otherwise would be able to observe in plain view. While some teams may still do basic evaluations and manipulations in the open, it makes plenty of sense to use and device available to keep prying eyes from nothing anything more than the bare minimum about a given player’s health.
At the league meeting two months ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he doesn’t think Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed. Two months later, nothing has changed: Kaepernick is still unemployed, and Goodell still doesn’t think he’s being blackballed.
“It’s the same thing I said before, which is each team makes individual decisions about how they can improve their team. And if they see an opportunity to improve their team I think they do it. They evaluate players, they evaluate systems and coaches, and they all make those individuals decisions to try to improve their team,” Goodell said.
Goodell said he hasn’t given any thought to having a conversation with Kaepernick.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to speaking to him but I haven’t,” Goodell said. “It’s certainly something that I could do but it’s not something I’ve thought about.”
The NFL has taken a lot of criticism over Kaepernick’s continued unemployment, but Goodell sees no reason that he needs to get involved.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis isn’t happy that the NFL has loosened up its rules on celebrations, but Commissioner Roger Goodell thinks Lewis will change his mind when he actually sees the new rule in place.
Goodell said today that while he understands that Lewis is concerned about allowing poor sportsmanship, Goodell believes players can celebrate without making themselves, their teams or the league look bad.
“I’ve heard it from Marvin before. We’ve had these discussions over the last couple years. I think the players will prove him wrong on that. I think the players will be responsible, show good sportsmanship and do it in a way that is entertaining but also respectful,” Goodell said.
Lewis is surely not the only coach who wants to crack down on celebrations: Football coaches by their very nature dislike anything that draws attention to an individual instead of the entire team. But on this one, Goodell seems to have the support of both players and fans, who think the game should be fun. Even if coaches think it’s deadly serious.
Marvin Lewis coaches the team that used a second-round pick on a guy who punched a woman in the face.
Marvin Lewis thinks the NFL’s relaxation of celebration penalties sets a bad example for the youth of America.
Via Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com, the Bengals coach said he was not a fan of the league’s decision to allow expanded touchdown celebrations.
“I’m not for that at all,” Lewis said. “We had a good standard and the whole standard has always been you want to teach people how to play the game the correct way and go about it the correct way, and that’s not a very good example for young people.”
Lewis has seen first-hand when individualism is taken to its extreme, having coached Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens, two of the greats of the last generation of players allowed to have fun after achieving a difficult thing.
“The rules were changed for a reason and I thought we had a good outcome,” Lewis said. “Again, this is a team game, and . . . I don’t understand why we want to give in to individual celebrations.”
Of course, it would be easy to suggest that Lewis is focusing on the wrong things, considering the Bengals just drafted Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who fell into their laps because there happened to be video of him — stop us if we said this already — punching a woman in the face.
And because it’s easy to suggest that Lewis is focusing on the wrong things, we’ll continue to do it. Particularly when Mixon scores a touchdown this year, the ability to do so which caused the Bengals to ignore the fact he punched a woman in the face.
He better not dance, or else Lewis might have to say enough is enough.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger contemplated retirement in the offseason. Few believed it. Former teammate Willie Colon did.
“I got to sit down and talk to him and one thing he told me is he did take it seriously,” Colon said last week on PFT Live. “He’s dealt with a lot of injuries.”
Asked Tuesday by reporters about the comments from Colon, Roethlisbeger laughed and said (via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com), “What, did you think I was lying?”
Regardless of whether he did or didn’t take it seriously (if he’d retired, Roethlisberger would have owed the Steelers $18.6 million), he has decided to recommit, at least for 2017.
“I’m here,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m here on Day One. You see me out there taking every rep I’m supposed to take and then some. I actually took some of the rookies today. I’m 110 percent committed like I said I was.”
So how close did he come to retiring?
“Doesn’t matter,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m here now.”
He’ll be there until he isn’t, and it will be a one-year-at-a-time proposition until he decides in an upcoming offseason that he’s done. Next year, the price for leaving drops to $12.4 million. The next, $6.2 million. Come 2020, he can retire with no financial obligation to the team.
The last time we saw Marcus Mariota on a football field, he was being carted off with a broken leg, and with him the Titans chance at a playoff berth.
But Tuesday, even though it was in a limited capacity, he was back on the fields as the Titans began their Organized Team Activities, which was a welcome surprise.
“It felt great,” Mariota said, via Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. “Four months ago I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to participate in OTAs and being able to do some of the drills through practice, it [says] a lot about my progress and my recovery. I was very happy and very grateful to be out there.”
The Titans had pledged to take things slowly with Mariota, and he mostly watched during the “team” portion of work. But he did some walk-through and positional drills and a bit of seven-on-seven.
“I know he’d like to do more, he looks like he can do more, but it’s May,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “We’ve got lots of time.”
Mariota had a plate installed to repair the damage suffered on Christmas Eve, at a time when the Titans had a shot at the AFC South. And if he can stay healthy, the strides they made as a team may help remind people that Nashville is something other than a hockey town now.
When the Raiders announced that they’re planning to move to Las Vegas in 2020, they also announced that Oakland fans who want out now can get refunds for season tickets they already purchased. About 1,000 fans took them up on that.
Raiders owner Mark Davis told reporters at the league meeting today that his team issued about 1,000 refunds to fans who were unhappy about the team’s decision to leave Oakland.
Davis added, however, that those refunds aren’t hurting the team’s bottom line: He said all the season tickets that have been refunded have since been purchased by other fans.
The Raiders have a talented young team coming off a playoff season, so they’ll probably continue to have support in Oakland, even if the local fans aren’t happy about the decision to leave. If the Raiders have a disappointing season on the field, however, fan support may evaporate, and a team that has often played in front of thousands of empty seats may find itself getting less local support than ever.
The Titans have signed one of their two first-round picks from this year’s draft.
The team announced on Tuesday that cornerback Adoree’ Jackson has agreed to a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth season. Jackson went at No. 18, 13 picks after the Titans took wide receiver Corey Davis. Davis is one of three draft picks yet to sign a contract with the team.
Jackson won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top collegiate cornerback last season and finished his career at USC with six interceptions. He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown and also scored six times as a receiver, four times as a kickoff returner and four times as a punt returner during his college days.
Titans G.M. Jon Robinson said that the team may sprinkle Jackson in on offense at some point down the line, but, for now, he’ll be playing defense and in the return game.
The delay in the opening of the new stadium for the Chargers and Rams in Los Angeles will lead to a delay in the Super Bowl’s return to Los Angeles.
NFL owners voted unanimously on Tuesday to move Super Bowl LV in February 2021 from Los Angeles to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Los Angeles will now host the Super Bowl a year later.
The two teams in Los Angeles announced last week that construction delays related to heavy rains in the Los Angeles area would require the opening of the stadium to be pushed back to 2020. The NFL has a rule stating that stadiums must be open for at least two seasons before they can host a Super Bowl, which required Los Angeles to seek a waiver that the league’s owners opted not to grant.
Tampa was the runner-up in bidding for Super Bowl LV. Raymond James Stadium has been undergoing major renovations over the last couple of years so the stadium will look much different from the last time it hosted the big game in 2008.