Can the Cowboys roll into Cincinnati and take down the red-hot Bengals? Can Christian Ponder win five of six in Minnesota? Will the Saints pick up some momentum when they head to New York this Sunday?
ProFootballTalk: PFT’s Sunday picks
The 23-year-old Hagg appeared in 12 games for Cleveland in 2012, starting three games at free safety and one at strong safety. A Nebraska product, Hagg was a seventh-round pick of Cleveland in 2011.
The reported departure of Hagg continues the Browns’ reworking of their safety corps. Earlier in the offseason, the club released Usama Young, who started 10 games at free safety and one at strong safety in 2012.
In the NFL, if you’re going to screw up, you better have value.
Cutting a third-string quarterback should have zero tangible impact on the Seahawks’ chances this year, or any year.
That makes him a convenient example to make, to give other players the appearance of taking such things seriously — for a team which leads the league in PED suspensions since 2010, and still employs all but one of the suspended.
In New York, the player who wins the starting quarterback job in 2013 arguably will be the first guy to possibly lose it. If so, his window for losing it could open weeks before Week One.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets could declare a starter before the start of training camp.
“We don’t care what the prevailing thought is,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg told Mehta regarding the view that the fight won’t be resolved before the start of camp. “We only care about our competition here.”
Well, if they care about competition, the competition will continue into the more inherently competitive portions of the calendar. For now, practices occur without pads and limited contact. In training camp, it’s closer to real football. In preseason games, it’s considerably closer.
This approach suggests that the Jets would like to go with Geno Smith, and that they prefer to spend July and August getting him ready in lieu of making him fight for a job he’s already destined to have.
“When you [compete in training camp],” Mornhinweg said, “you give up some reps individually for the possible starter if you don’t select him quite as quickly.”
Either way, Mornhinweg hasn’t made a commitment to how and when the competition will be resolved. Essentially, they’ll know it when they see it.
“Once a man separates himself, then we’ll think about making those choices, but I want a man to separate himself,” Mornhinweg said. “If not, we’ll keep the competition grinding. That’s important. That’s important in this situation.”
What’s ultimately important is finding the best guy to win games, because it’s believed that another bad year from the Jets will get the entire coaching staff fired.
Which will serve only to put more pressure on whoever the quarterback is.
While there seems to be a general feeling of optimism regarding Victor Cruz and a long-term deal with the Giants — which has been the case for some time — there’s still nothing to put on paper between the Giants and their wide receiver.
But I suppose optimism beats the alternative.
Giants chairman Steve Tisch was the latest to express confidence a deal will be signed, but didn’t have much more than that.
“We’re talking,” Tisch said, via Mike Garafolo of USA Today. “Tom Condon [Cruz's agent] is talking to [Giants General Manager] Jerry [Reese] and I’m personally confident that Victor wants to be a Giant, will be a Giant.
Now, as tempting as it might be to take “will be a Giant,” and turn it into more than it is, it would also be inaccurate. Tisch is saying what everyone else seems to say, that eventually something will get done.
We’ve reached the “do or do not,” phase of this story, and the negotiations seem to have slowed. And until somebody starts throwing money around, or the Giants replace Cruz’s restricted free agent tender of $2.879 million with a $594,000 offer (which would be antagonistic in a transaction that seems quite civil), the words don’t matter that much.
Simon (6-2, 260) earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors as a senior at Ohio State in 2012, recording nine sacks. The Ravens selected him toward the end of the fourth round (No. 129 overall).
Simon, who was a defensive end in college, is likely to be a backup in his first NFL season at outside linebacker.
The Ravens have now agreed to deals with all seven of their rookies selected on the draft’s final day.
In addition to players and head coaches, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has a catchall “contributor” category that allows people to be enshrined in Canton for what they did away from the field. But not many contributors actually ge elected.
Of the last 40 people enshrined in the Hall, only two of them — Bills owner Ralph Wilson and NFL Films founder Ed Sabol — were from the contributor category. Joe Horrigan, the Hall’s vice president of communications and exhibits, says the Hall would like to change the way it does business to make a clearer path for contributors.
“I can’t tell you we’re real close to a solution, but as we do every year, we do discuss the possibility,” Horrigan told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “We don’t want to have second-tier Hall of Famers in the sense someone snuck in the back door. That’s kind of the issue always. We continue to address it. Eventually, I think we’ll probably come up with some sort of a modification.”
Whatever the Hall of Fame does, it would be wise to separate contributors from players. The Hall of Fame Selection Committee is currently faced with the thankless task of comparing people like Steve Sabol of NFL Films or former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue with former players. And really, how do you determine whether Sabol is more deserving than an offensive lineman? Voting on contributors separately would make a lot of sense.
The 32 NFL team owners voted today to lend the Falcons $200 million for their new stadium in Atlanta.
“Today’s approval by the NFL team owners is an important milestone in moving the new stadium project forward,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement. “We are pleased with the outcome of today’s vote, and we look forward to continued progress in designing and constructing the new multi-purpose stadium over the next four years. We, along with our City of Atlanta and State of Georgia partners, are excited to participate in a project that will benefit the city and state for many years to come.”
Taxpayers will pick up $200 million of the cost of the stadium, and Blank will foot the bill for the rest. The total cost is expected to come in at around $1 billion.
The Falcons currently play in the Georgia Dome, which opened in 1992. Plans call for the Georgia Dome to be demolished and the new stadium to be ready to go by 2017.
As the NFL continues to try to make the Pro Bowl worth watching, the league is considering some ideas inspired by TV game shows.
Albert Breer of NFL Network reported that the league is considering elements that would make the game more like a game show, such as
having incentives paid out during the game. Breer said the league would like to “make it so every single minute of the game has some sort of thing that’s going to keep fans interested and engaged.”
Breer added that the NFL doesn’t “feel the need to keep the integrity of what a normal football game is.”
Personally, I think a good football game is more fun to watch than any game show, and I don’t think adding game show gimmicks to a football game makes the game more fun to watch. The problem I see with the Pro Bowl is that the players don’t take it seriously, and adding “game show” elements seems likely to compound that problem. I don’t have a problem with the NFL’s idea of naming two team captains and letting them pick the teams, but I don’t think we need to have Monty Hall telling Peyton Manning to pick a receiver behind one of two doors, only to find out that Calvin Johnson is behind Door No. 1 and Titus Young is behind Door No. 2.
If the NFL really wants to make the players play hard, the best “game show” element to incorporate would be large cash prizes for the winners. Currently, players on the winning Pro Bowl team make $50,000 and players on the losing team make $25,000. The difference between getting paid $25,000 and $50,000 is a lot to most of us, but it’s peanuts to most Pro Bowlers. Until that changes, don’t expect the players’ effort to change.
PFT Live was supposed to make its return on Monday, but technical difficulties got in the way of what we hoped would be a smooth transition.
So we’re going to do it all over again on Tuesday. Mike Florio will check in with Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune about what’s going on with the Chargers. The big news is on the defensive side of the ball, where they didn’t waste any time signing longtime Colts pass rusher Dwight Freeney after losing linebacker Melvin Ingram to a knee injury. We’ll hear more about how the Chargers will use Freeney and see if there’s going to be a veteran left tackle like Max Starks joining him in the locker room.
Former Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli will also be on hand to talk about the other big stories around the league as most of the 32 teams gear up for a week of OTAs.
You can watch it all live at noon ET.
Later today, NFL owners will vote on the location for Super Bowl L. (For those of you complaining about the use of the letter “L” to designate the 50th Super Bowl, do you forget that we’ve already endured a “Super Bowl XXX”?) Then, the NFL owners will vote on the location for Super Bowl LI.
South Florida faces an uphill climb in both votes (one against San Franciscoclara, and then one against Houston, barring an upset win over San Franciscoclara) because the powers-that-be failed to secure public funding for upgrades at Sun Life Stadium. The NFL’s “no Super Bowls without an improved stadium” threat/promise comes off as weak if the owners give South Florida a Super Bowl anyway.
One of the most influential owners believes that public money should have been used to renovate the stadium, even though he’s one of the only owners who built his stadium exclusively with private funds.
“If we’re doing Super Bowls, the community should pitch in,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said, via Jarrett Bell of USA Today.
The point is that, when a city enters the Super Bowl rotation, the stadium becomes something more than the place where the local football team plays its games. If the Super Bowl is coming to town once every five years (or, as it happened for Miami most recently, twice in the three-year window from February 2007 through February 2010), the stadium has a different level of value for the place where it’s located, because hosting a Super Bowl brings significant money and worldwide attention to the place where it is played.
Still, with the Marlins debacle and the current mood against what has been described persuasively as “welfare for billionaires,” the citizens and politicians have a hard time seeing the investment of public dollars as a benefit to the region.
Even if, you know, it is.
According to Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle, Reed is working inside, in case the Texans need him there this year.
“I’m not 100 percent switching positions, but I’m trying to learn another position,” Reed said. “It’s coming along. I’ve been in the playbook a lot, picking up little things. Cush [inside linebacker Brian Cushing] played the position, so I’m always asking him things. But I’ll get the hang of it.”
He’s a natural outside linebacker, though his production hasn’t been astounding (8.5 sacks in two seasons).
“We know that Brooks can line up outside and play tomorrow if we opened the season,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “So we’re very concerned about getting him his reps inside from that standpoint.”
Mercilus, last year’s first-rounder had 6.0 sacks as a reserve, but that’s a lot of faith to put on a lot of young guys.
During the spring and summer of 2012, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was taking one-third of the first-team reps at Seahawks practices.
Things are very different this year. Tarvaris Jackson is in Buffalo, Matt Flynn is in Oakland and Wilson is the only man running with the starters during Seahawks workouts. That is going to mean a lot more snaps during practice and a high likelihood of improvement as Wilson spends more times at the controls of the team’s offense. According to coach Pete Carroll, that improvement is already readily apparent.
“He threw a couple of balls today, things that we talked about over the offseason that he’d like to take a shot at, and he did it today just to see what would happen with full awareness of why he was doing it,” Carroll said, via Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune. “We were talking about trying to throw the deep ball last year over guys’ outside shoulder; we’re just a million miles ahead of where we were. He’s the kind of player that will affect other guys — he affects everyone around him — and hopefully that will help everyone play better and faster.”
Wilson agrees with his coach that he’s ahead of where he was last year, although he points out that the key is to keep improving. That’s an unknown at this point, obviously, but what we’ve seen from Wilson thus far makes it hard to bet against him.
The Browns were reportedly interested in quarterback Brian Hoyer long before they signed him, which meant that his arrival in Cleveland last week became fodder for discussions about increased competition for Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden this offseason.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner did his best to play up Weeden’s qualifications for the job recently by saying that he doesn’t think many quarterbacks could have succeeded in Cleveland during the 2012 season and he did his best to downplay the import of Hoyer’s arrival at a banquet on Monday night. While Turner said he like Hoyer’s skills, his comments painted a picture of a team taking a look at a player with some intriguing raw materials than a case of signing a player the team thinks can start for them this year.
“I think there have been more stories written about Brian Hoyer being a Brown over the last four months than probably any player in history,” Turner said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He was released. He was available. He’s a guy that has been with some good teams in backup situations. He’s played very little football, but I do think we like his skill set.”
That wasn’t the only signal that Turner sent about who might be the team’s starter in 2013. Turner also said that he thought there was more value in Weeden taking the majority of reps with the first team this spring and summer than there was in keeping things even with Campbell, who Turner said “doesn’t need as many reps” as younger players. More exposure could certainly backfire for Weeden if he’s not up to the task, but it still seems likelier than he’s the starter in Week One than any one else on the roster.
For the Jets, the challenge becomes what to do with Goodson while the court process plays itself out.
On Monday, owner Woody Johnson tiptoed around the crux of the problem. If they cut Goodson now, he walks away with a $1 million signing bonus that can’t be recovered. They can get some of the money back, and in turn can obtain cap relief, only if they let the process play out.
The key date in the process comes on June 12, when Goodson will have a pre-trial hearing. As pointed out by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, that falls in the middle of the team’s mandatory minicamp. If Goodson misses practice to attend the hearing, the Jets could penalize Goodson, at a minimum with a fine.
The problem for the Jets would be the plain language of Article 4, Section 9 of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. While the revised terms expand the situations in which all or a portion of a player’s signing bonus can be recovered, the provision makes no reference to partial reimbursement arising from a missed mandatory minicamp practice. Instead, the forfeiture process begins in training camp, and applies more forcefully in the regular season.
But the Jets can’t recover money from Goodson unless he’s still on the roster. That’s why the Falcons never released Mike Vick after he was incarcerated for dogfighting in 2007; to recover bonus money paid to Vick (and to get the cap credit that goes along with it), the Falcons had to hold their nose and refrain from cutting Vick.
For the Jets, the far better approach to the Goodson conundrum would be to stop channeling Clark Kent and explain in blunt, candid terms that there’s only one way to make a player answer financially for off-field misconduct — by keeping him on the roster while the legal process unfolds.
Of course, that kind of candor could open the Jets up to criticism that they’re more concerned about money than doing the right thing. But if the plan will be to keep Goodson around in order to eventually recover money from him, why not remove the confusion regarding the reason for not cutting him loose?
When Eagles coach Chip Kelly was trying to downplay the significance of offseason snap counts, he joked: “Someone charted them, I would imagine.”
That they have, and it’s obvious that Kelly’s trying to keep his quarterback job competitive for as long as possible.
That’s more than a sprinkling, and continues to point to the competitiveness of the situation.
While any quarterback would prefer most of the work to get ready for a season, there’s no reason for Kelly to make a decision now. He hasn’t been able to work with either of them long enough.
Now that that’s been documented, we can return the reporters covering the Eagles to their crucial other duty — documenting the songs on Kelly’s practice playlist.