Posted by Josh Alper on April 23, 2014, 11:28 AM EDT
The Jets and Giants both opened up their offseason workouts this week after a couple of months spent trying to build themselves into teams capable of making it back to the playoffs.
The Jets added wide receiver Eric Decker, running back Chris Johnson and quarterback Michael Vick to a roster short on offensive playmakers while the Giants made major changes on offense and in the secondary after missing the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five seasons. Bob Glauber of Newsday will join Mike Florio on Wednesday’s edition of PFT Live to discuss those changes and what the teams might do during the draft.
If you’ve got questions about either MetLife Stadium resident, we’d love to hear them as we again throw the door open to questions from PFT Planet. Send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 during the show to ask about those teams or any of the 30 others.
The Bills pick ninth, which won’t be high enough to take the playmaking receiver. Like his recent trip to see the Lions, the visit will create some intrigue about the possibility of deals with teams in the top four or five spots.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
At different points this offseason, Steelers owner Art Rooney II and General Manager Kevin Colbert have both said that the team wants quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to spend his entire career in Pittsburgh.
That suggested he’d be a candidate for a contract extension as he has two years left on his deal and cap numbers north of $18 million in each of the next two years that could come down for a team than annually has to make adjustments to fit under the cap. Roethlisberger, meanwhile, would secure his football future beyond 2015 while likely bumping his base salary over the $12.1 million he’s set to make during the 2014 season.
The Steelers moved in other directions to do their cap maintenance, however, and Roethlisberger’s $18.895 million cap figure looks like it will be remaining in place for this season. Roethlisberger’s agent Ryan Tollner said that discussions are ongoing with the team about a new contract, but said he wouldn’t offer any predictions about when it might be completed. The expectation is that it will be completed, though, because his client doesn’t want to play anywhere else.
“It’s always been critical to him,” Tollner said, via Scott Brown of ESPN.com. “From Day 1 he’s always admired players that could play with one organization and retire with that organization. That’s an underlying goal that always drives him, that he would always be a Steeler.”
Tollner said there was “mutual respect” on both sides regarding the talks about an extension and there’s every reason to think one will eventually get done as long as that remains in place.
Posted by Mike Florio on April 23, 2014, 10:42 AM EDT
Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington wasn’t available to start the 2013 regular season, due to a suspension imposed under the substance-abuse policy. He could be unavailable for the start of the 2014 regular season, for different reasons.
Police contend that Washington choked the mother of Washington’s daughter, and that Washington caused the woman to fall and break a collarbone.
He faces probation to up to 18 months behind bars. The lawyers have agreed to recommend probation.
The recommendation won’t be binding on the presiding judge, and it definitely won’t be binding on Commissioner Roger Goodell. Once the matter has concluded, Washington will be subject to discipline under the Personal Conduct Policy.
Four years ago, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended after two allegations of sexual assault; he was never arrested or charged with any crime. So what happens to a guy who was arrested for aggravated assault of a female, who pleaded guilty to an assault charge, and received some type of criminal penalty for it?
It probably won’t be a fine. And it shouldn’t be a fine. Tonight, the Cardinal will know how their schedule unfolds. Eventually, they’ll know how many of those games they’ll have to play without Washington.
Posted by Mike Wilkening on April 23, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
In studying the Raiders’ personnel entering the 2014 draft, something became quite clear: the club’s off-season additions have done well to bolster some areas of the roster.
On paper, the Raiders have a decent starting lineup, one that could very well allow Oakland to improve upon its 4-12 record from a season ago. After all, the Raiders did suffer three four-point losses in 2013; with a stronger roster, perhaps they close out a couple more games in 2014.
The performance of the Raiders’ veteran additions will likely define Oakland’s 2014 season. For instance, if quarterback Matt Schaub returns to top form, the club will be materially better than a season ago. Defensive ends Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley have each been standouts on their best; so has running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Wide receiver James Jones and left tackle Donald Penn have been good starters for other clubs. They can help Oakland.
Still, there’s no doubting the importance of the 2014 draft to the Raiders’ future. A strong class of rookies will help the Raiders skillfully retool their starting lineup on the fly — and those sort of changes will be coming soon. The Raiders’ free agent haul surely helps them in 2014, but which of the veterans will be left to contribute a few years down the road?
In short, the Raiders’ draft needs are a consideration of both their present and future roster, which explains why quarterback, even with Schaub likely to hold down the position for 2014, is atop the list.
Which brings us to the poll question: should the Raiders take a quarterback at No. 5? Cast your votes and share your comments below.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 23, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT
It has been a year since the Bills drafted quarterback E.J. Manuel in the first round of the 2013 draft and they approach his second season without a clear idea of what the future holds for him.
Injuries to both knees affected Manuel from training camp through the end of the regular season, leading to six missed games and lost time that would have helped him develop as a quarterback. Manuel said Tuesday that he’s participating in workouts without any limitations this spring, which means he can devote all of his attention to improving into the quarterback the Bills want him to be.
“I definitely agree there’s a lot out there for myself as a quarterback to get better. I had some success. And I had some bad games as well. It’s obvious,” Manuel said, via the Associated Press. “I’m eager about it. I’m excited. I know there is a lot of area for me to grow. That’s why I took these last four months to allow that growth.”
The Bills have built a solid defense over the last few years, but it won’t be enough to carry them if the offense isn’t able to be more productive in 2014. Manuel will have a big hand in determining that outcome and the future trajectory of his career along with it.
Posted by Mike Florio on April 23, 2014, 9:32 AM EDT
With plenty of unknowns surrounding 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, one fact has become clear: He will participate in the team’s offseason program until he’s told not to.
Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reported that Smith was present for the launch of offseason workouts.
Unless Smith is suspended by the team or the league or incarcerated, Smith has every right to report for voluntary workouts, which pay $175 per day. The structure and support could be useful to him at a time when his career, and his life, could go in one of two different directions.
Having Smith in the building also gives coaches (initially, strength and conditioning coaches only) and teammates an opportunity to get a close look at him, to see how he’s doing. And to assess whether he’s possibly having ongoing struggles with alcohol, which placed him in rehab for more than a month last season.
His recent arrest at LAX resulted in an observation from police that it appeared Smith had been drinking earlier in the day. If the 49ers decide Smith needs further intervention, he could be placed on the non-football illness list at some point.
Smith’s presence at offseason workouts comes at a time when the team is still deciding whether to pick up the fifth-year option on Smith’s rookie contract. The deadline for exercising the option arrives on May 3.
Posted by Michael David Smith on April 23, 2014, 9:17 AM EDT
Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw 27 interceptions last season, the most in his career and the most any NFL player had thrown in any season in the last eight years. But Manning thinks things will change this year.
At the first day of the Giants’ offseason workouts, Manning said this season will provide himself and his teammates with an opportunity to show that last year’s 7-9 record doesn’t define who they are.
“This is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and to come back and change what occurred last year, some of the difficulties, and bounce back and have a clean slate, prove yourself again and play at a high level,” Manning said.
Manning is recovering from ankle surgery and not able to work out with his teammates, so he’ll get a late start on reinventing himself. The Giants need him to get healthy, and to play a whole lot better than he did last year.
Posted by Darin Gantt on April 23, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT
While expanding the playoff field from 12 teams to 14 seems inevitable, it won’t be happening this year.
Though such a sudden change hasn’t been ruled out by commissioner Roger Goodell, Giants president John Mara, a member of the competition committee, said a change this year would be unlikely.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen this year,” Mara told Bob Glauber of Newsday. “I think it’s kind of late. We have a May [20th owners] meeting [in Atlanta], but I sense that we’ll wait a year before we do that. It hasn’t been voted on yet. . . .
“[The league] would notify us in advance, but I’m thinking it’s probably not going to happen for another year or so. My guess is that it’s going to pass at some point.”
Since the topic didn’t come up in recent meetings between the NFL and the NFLPA, it seems everyone’s content to let this one slide for a year, though a larger playoff field is coming.
Posted by Mike Florio on April 23, 2014, 8:56 AM EDT
The 2014 schedule consists of 256 regular-season games. The first one will be played on the Thursday after Labor Day in Seattle.
Later today, we’ll know which of the eight teams to visit CenturyLink Field this season will be there on the night they raise the championship banner. The options are the 49ers, Rams, Cardinals, Cowboys, Giants, Broncos, Raiders, and Packers.
If it’s the 49ers, then the 49ers won’t be opening that swanky new stadium in Santa Clara until Week Two. And the NFL would be giving up one of the truly marquee games of the season right out of the gates.
Typically, the defending champion doesn’t open the season against a division rival. A Super Bowl rematch makes sense, but given the outcome of the Super Bowl maybe it doesn’t. The Cowboys always draw a crowd on TV, but the Cowboys have taken a step backward this offseason.
That’s why I continue to think it’ll be a rematch of 2012′s Fail Mary game, with the Packers coming to town for a playoff game that has seemed inevitable the last two years, but that hasn’t happened. It’ll happen this season — and it could happen on the first Thursday of the season.
Here’s where you say what you think, as we re-post the poll that first appeared while the confetti was still in the air at MetLife Stadium.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 23, 2014, 8:56 AM EDT
When Maurice Jones-Drew was making the free agent rounds this offseason, he found teams that wanted him to serve as a mentor for younger backs on their roster.
Jones-Drew told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle that he was almost sold on that role by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin before changing his mind and signing with the Raiders in hopes of playing a larger on-field role. How big his role will be in Oakland will be somewhat dependent on Darren McFadden as the two players will likely be splitting carries. However that split works out, Jones-Drew thinks it has the potential to be a fruitful partnership.
“But first, we’re going to compete,” Jones-Drew said. “Let’s see if someone can win the job. I expect us both to be better coming out of training camp because of that competition. It’s going to be fun. There’s no reason we can’t be one of the best 1-2 punches in the league.”
He said that his foot feels “phenomenal” one year after surgery and that his goal for 2014 is to show that he’s still the explosive runner he was earlier in his career. If he realizes that goal and McFadden is healthy, it would be quite a 1-2 punch. Two big ifs, to be sure, but vital ones for the Raiders offense.
“There’s a calm feeling around the building,” 14-year-veteran center Dominic Raiola said, via the Detroit Free Press. “You just get a sense that this guy’s been there, done that. And he has. I mean, look at his track record; but more so being around him, not just hearing about it. It’s fun to be around him and be back in here.”
Caldwell was brought in, in part because of his steadying influence. After the frenetic years of not-much-happening of the Jim Schwartz era, that’s probably welcome to many.
But several players noted the pace of actual work, even without the high-profile stars.
“The energy today was good, man,” linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. “I’ve never been a part of fast-tempo day like this on a first day. Guys are receptive of it and did a good job.”
Caldwell getting the extra minicamp to implement systems and instilling his calmness will help, but keeping those stars happy and healthy will be more important to his success in Detroit.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 23, 2014, 8:10 AM EDT
Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace joined his Dolphins teammates for offseason workouts on Tuesday for his first official day of work in the offense put together by offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
While coach Joe Philbin downplayed any major changes to the offense, Wallace sang a slightly different tune. After a 2013 season that saw him frustrated at times about the lack of big plays relative to what he pulled off in Pittsburgh, Wallace said he thought this offense fit his abilities well and sounded optimistic about what he and quarterback Ryan Tannehill could do in the system.
“My style: Big-play offense,” Wallace said, via the Miami Herald. “I see Ryan’s excited about it. He’s called me about eight, nine times. I just want to make some plays for my team. Go out and make some plays for my team and have a much better year than last year. We can’t have the kind of year we had last year. We need to be on the same page.”
Tannehill has talked about the offense’s focus on being more consistent on deep balls during the 2014 season, something that would work out well for Wallace and the offense overall. It might also help if Lazor moves Wallace around the field more than Mike Sherman did in 2013, when Wallace lined up outside on the right almost all the time.
If Lazor’s tweaks lead to bigger things for Wallace, it might bring an end to the talk of Wallace’s departure from Miami after two seasons.
Posted by Josh Alper on April 23, 2014, 6:57 AM EDT
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin was tendered at the second round level by the Seahawks this offseason, giving him the right to negotiate and sign an offer sheet with any other team in the league as long as he doesn’t sign the tender.
Baldwin hasn’t signed it, but there doesn’t seem to be much interest in leaving Seattle. Baldwin has signed a waiver allowing him to participate in voluntary offseason workouts with the team even though he isn’t yet under contract for the 2014 season. During an appearance on 710 ESPN in Seattle, Baldwin confirmed that staying in Seattle was the end result he wanted.
“I want to be a Seattle Seahawk and I want to be a Seattle Seahawk for a long time,” Baldwin said. “I love it here, I love the organization and I’m focused on doing what I can to improve and get ready for this upcoming season, whether that’s with a tender or whether that’s with something else that we work out. Hopefully is with a long-term deal, that’s what I’m hoping for, whether that’s this year or next year.”
Baldwin indicated that there haven’t been talks about a long-term deal and the possibility of signing with another team disappears on May 2, so playing out the year on the $2.187 million tender seems like a likely option.