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As the Vikings prepare to host the Chargers for the first NFL game played at U.S. Bank Stadium, the visiting team won’t have its first-round draft pick. And surely there will be plenty said during the FOX broadcast about holdout defensive end Joey Bosa.
Plenty of things said about Bosa have been aimed at pressuring him to cave. “What’s the big deal?” they say. “They’re not arguing over significant dollars. He should just take the money. Does he not want to play for the Chargers?”
Veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney, who played at one point for the Chargers and now is a member of the Falcons, recently turned that argument around in a visit to XTRA Sports 1360.
“Guys, if you sign a player he should get his bonus, get his money, and let’s go play,” Freeney told The Mark and Rich Show (via the San Diego Union-Tribune). “But if you’re trying to defer the signing bonus to 2017 so the kid doesn’t have the money so the team holds onto the money just so he can get more interest on it, or whatever. . . . Guys, you’re a two billion dollar franchise, OK? Give him his money and let’s just go.”
Indeed. What’s the big deal? They’re not arguing over significant dollars. The team should just pay Bosa the money. Do the Chargers not want him to play for them?
Actually, the two sides should find a way to compromise. There’s surely a middle ground that allows everyone to both proclaim victory and save face. For whatever reason, neither side is willing at this point to try to take the high road. Which means that Bosa eventually could be back on the path to the draft.
Tuesday is the first cutdown day heading into the 2016 season as teams will be dropping their rosters to 75 players.
The Colts got a head start on the process Sunday by announcing 10 departures from the roster. None of the players who were relieved of their roster spots have any regular season experience with the team, although defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin played in seven games for the Cardinals and Raiders before signing with Indianapolis in January.
Eight of the other players placed on waivers — wide receiver Justin Berger, safety Alden Darby, guard Eric Herman, tight end Mike Miller, running back Chase Price, cornerback Winston Rose, defensive end Delvon Simmons, wide receiver Josh Stangby — also signed with the team as free agents this offseason. Linebacker Junior Sylvestre spent last season on injured reserve after joining the team as an undrafted free agent in May 2015.
The Colts have five more moves to make to get to 75 players before Tuesday’s deadline.
The Browns have run through a lot of coaches since returning to the league in 1999 and all of them have had moments where they’ve had to react to poor performances by their teams.
Hue Jackson got his first chance to do so after Friday night’s 30-13 loss to the Buccaneers that saw Cleveland struggle with just about everything outside of deep passes to Josh Gordon. Jackson said that the outing, which saw Robert Griffin III sacked five times while the defense was allowing 259 passing yards in the first half, is part of the growing pains that the team has to go through.
“All of a sudden the sky is falling?” Jackson said, via ESPN.com. “I don’t see that. I don’t think the sky is falling at all. I think what you see is a young football team that you’re going to see some of that [struggle], especially early until they get well grounded. I think, like I said, there were some good things, and obviously there were some things that were concerning. We got to continue to work at it. I never said we’d be a juggernaut today, or yesterday.”
Expecting the Browns to go from zero to 60 overnight would be foolish and their emphasis on collecting draft picks while clearing out unwanted holdovers from the roster makes it clear they aren’t planning on a quick fix. Signs of progress will be needed at some point, however, and there weren’t many on Friday night.
Linebacker Jonathan Freeny joined the Patriots last season and posted 50 tackles and a sack in 13 games that appear to have impressed the team enough to want Freeny around a while longer.
According to multiple reports, Freeny has agreed to a two-year extension with the Patriots that will keep him under contract in New England through the 2018 season. No financial terms have been reported.
Coach Bill Belichick didn’t confirm the extension when he met with the media on Saturday, but he did explain why the Patriots would like to keep Freeny in the fold.
“Jonathan is a very dependable player; he is able to do a lot of different roles for us,” Belichick said in comments distributed by the team. “He can play inside and outside on the line of scrimmage and off the ball defensively. He’s been very valuable for us in the kicking game, obviously with some size. A four-phase special teams player and one of our overall top workers in terms of the offseason program, preparation, training; he always does things right. He works hard, doesn’t say a lot, but is very dependable and consistent. I think all of the other players — everybody in the organization looks up to him.”
Freeny started seven games filling in for injured players last year and should remain in a backup role while playing a lot of special teams with the Patriots in 2016.
The Ravens lost tight end Benjamin Watson to a torn Achilles and they are waiting for word on an MRI of rookie running back Kenneth Dixon’s injured knee, which makes it unsurprising that coach John Harbaugh used some of his time with the media on Saturday to lament preseason games.
Harbaugh said that he wasn’t a fan of preseason games before those injuries — he said his ideal number of games would be zero — and that he hopes that there will be changes to the way the preseason works to eliminate some of the risk involved in the four-week exhibition schedule.
“I know the league and the Players Association is working very hard and trying to figure out ideas to work out the preseason,” Harbaugh said. “These are big, fast, strong men running around out there. It’s not 25 years ago. … It went to four [games] in the 70s. It’s not the 70s anymore. These guys playing in these games, it’s tough, and they’re not meaningful games. They are important to get better, and they improve us. But we football coaches can find ways to get our guys ready and get our players evaluated without the kind of risk that a game necessarily entails. I’m really hopeful that the union and the league can get together and do something that’s good for everybody, especially what’s good for the players. And for the fans.”
Harbaugh has expressed other displeasure with the offseason schedule, particularly the limitations on how much players can work with members of the coaching staff. The league has also expressed its displeasure with the Ravens putting rookies in pads during a period in the schedule when that isn’t allowed by fining Harbaugh and the team.
There is a risk of injury any time players are on a football field, be it in a practice, scrimmage or game, but this year has seen a rising number of teams opting to severely limit playing time for established players if they put them on the field at all. That would suggest that other coaches share some of Harbaugh’s feelings about preseason football, although it remains to be seen if there will be any changes to the status quo.
Said Bills WR Sammy Watkins of his preseason debut, “Things were moving a little bit faster than I see in practice. It was live and that’s the type of reps that you need when coming off an injury and not playing as much.”
The Patriots are sorting out their quarterback plans for Thursday’s game.
Bengals WR Adam Erickson is trying to go from a small town to the big show.
The Browns offense has to be about more than trying to hit long balls.
Going high tempo agreed with the Steelers offense against the Saints.
It’s a new year, but there are familiar issues on the Colts offensive line.
Five Jaguars to keep an eye on against the Bengals.
The Chiefs’ run defense looked good against the Bears.
The Cowboys may be in the market for a quarterback to give them more depth.
The Eagles will work out a couple of players from Philadelphia’s Arena Football League team.
Which Lions helped and hurt themselves on Saturday?
A look at the Falcons’ depth chart after cutting down to 75 players.
How worrisome has the Panthers’ offensive performance in the preseason been?
The Cardinals aren’t sweating their offensive struggles.
The Rams offense had trouble converting third downs on Saturday.
How many Seahawks 2016 draft picks will make the 53-man roster?
With the fourth preseason game four days away and the regular-season opener only 11 days into the future, the Denver Broncos have two big quarterback decisions to make.
No. 1: Who is the starter?
No. 2: If Mark Sanchez is No. 3 on the depth chart, should we cut him?
Coach Gary Kubiak addressed both topics after Saturday night’s game. And while he has provided no answers yet, answers necessarily are coming soon.
“We don’t have much practice left,” Kubiak told reporters regarding the timeline for making a decision as to a starting quarterback. “We have three days and then we play in Arizona. Obviously this is a tough turnaround week in the NFL, so I’ve got a lot invested and a lot of work that I can make some decisions off of now. I’ll do that. Does that mean I’m going to do that [Sunday] or Monday? I don’t know. I’ve got enough going on that I can make a decision.”
Kubiak also needs to figure out whether to keep three quarterbacks on the roster — which is another way of framing the keep-or-cut-Sanchez conundrum.
“I have to continue this evaluation process and decide what I think is best for the team,” Kubiak said. “You all asked me that question about experience [and] it’s really hard for me to answer. I have two of them that have no experience. That’s just the way it is. We have young guys at that position. They’ve been battling and I think they’re getting better. Like I said, I have to sit down and decide what I think is best for our group and we’ll go to work.”
If the Broncos cut Sanchez, they’ll avoid at least $3.5 million of his $4.5 million salary ($1 million of it is guaranteed.) They also won’t owe the Eagles a seventh-round pick in 2017.
And if they’re going to cut him, the question becomes whether to make the move before or after the final preseason game. If Sanchez plays on Thursday and gets injured, he’ll potentially get the full $4.5 million.
Bears quarterback Connor Shaw suffered a broken leg in Saturday’s preseason game, and he wasn’t happy about the hit that injured him.
Shaw took to Twitter and scolded Chiefs defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches, writing, “Injuries are a part of the game & I understand that. This should’ve been avoided. No need for that type of cheap BS!”
Shortly after tweeting that, Shaw deleted it. He did not explain why.
The hit from Nunez-Roches did come after Shaw had already thrown his pass, and Nunez-Roches seemed to unnecessarily jump into Shaw. Nunez-Roches certainly wasn’t trying to break Shaw’s leg (the hit was high and the injury happened as the two of them fell to the ground), but it was unnecessary.
Last year, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo played in only four games. This year, he could miss half the season, or more, with a back injury suffered on Thursday night in Seattle.
At some point, the Cowboys need to ask themselves whether Romo continues to be worth the money he makes, in light of his age, his injury history, and the likelihood of future injuries.
They may decide that Romo is worth it, and he may get the benefit of the doubt that comes from being the best quarterback in franchise history not named Roger Staubach or Troy Aikman. Then again, the Cowboys also may rip the “ROMO” off the back of the jersey make a business decision about a player who, in the last two years, isn’t providing much of a return on his investment.
Via Spotrac.com, Romo is due to make $8.5 million this year, $14 million in 2017, $19.5 million in 2018, and $20.5 million in 2019. Apart from the cash commitments, the cap number becomes a very important consideration.
For now, the total cap hit for cutting Romo still exceeds the current-year cap charge for keeping him. As of next year, however, it flips. In 2017, keeping Romo results in a $24.6 million cap charge, dumping him triggers a total cap charge of $19.6 million, which the Cowboys could spread over two years. In 2018, the gap becomes even more significant, with a $25.2 million hit to keep Romo and only $8.9 million in dead money from cutting him.
Regardless, then, of the number of years Romo intends to continue to play, at some point the Cowboys will need to ask whether they want him to continue to play, and the dollars and cap hits will be a factor in that assessment — especially in 2018. Perhaps the biggest factor will be the team’s alternatives at the position. That makes Dak Prescott’s performance during Romo’s 6-10 week absence even more important.
Last year, Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap had a career-high 13.5 sacks. This year, he’s hoping to match that number — and to add another 9.5 to it.
“I want the NFL sack title,” Dunlap tells Michele Tafoya of NBC’s Sunday Night Football in advance of Sunday night’s nationally-televised preseason game between the Bengals and Jaguars, “and that record from Michael Strahan.”
That record from Michael Strahan is 22.5 sacks in a single season, a mark set in 2001. To get there, Dunlap may need to persuade Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to take a Brett Favre-style dive or two (or more) in Week 17, which Favre did for Strahan to let him set the mark 15 years ago.
Personal goals are fine, but the Bengals collectively are hoping to run their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to six — and to end their streak of consecutive wild-card losses at five. So maybe Dunlap should save a few of those sacks for the postseason.
Their timeline remained brisk after that meeting as, per multiple reports on Sunday morning, Goldson is signing with the Falcons.
Goldson made 15 starts for the Redskins last season, finishing the year with 110 tackles, an interception he returned for a touchdown and a forced fumble. He was released in March and had a couple of visits over the offseason that didn’t result in a new job.
Highlights were hard to find for the Giants offense against the Jets on Saturday night, but one came on a four-yard gain in the third quarter.
That was Victor Cruz’s first catch since tearing his patellar tendon early in the 2014 season and even a modest gain represents a big step forward for a player who went on to miss all of last season with a calf injury. Cruz then missed the first two games of this summer with a groin injury before finally connecting with Eli Manning for the first time in a long time.
“It felt like old times,” Cruz said, via the New York Post. “I caught the ball in the flat and tried to make something happen, but I got to feel a little bit of contact, which was a great feeling. Just to come out here healthy and be in the position to make some plays and catch the football and just come out and feel healthy and feel good about myself.”
Cruz was targeted one other time on a pass that was nearly intercepted by Jets safety Marcus Gilchrist. Manning was intercepted by Darrelle Revis on a play that saw Odell Beckham pull up to avoid a hit from safety Calvin Pryor. Manning called it the right move to avoid possible injury in a preseason game and blamed himself for leading Beckham into it.
The pick was part of a dismal outing overall for the Giants starters. The Giants failed to move into enemy territory until backups were in the game in the third quarter, leaving several members of the team talking about having work to do heading into the regular season. That Cruz will be part of that work is one positive to take away from Saturday night.
Seven quarterbacks came off the board before him in April, but that doesn’t keep Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott from putting himself at the top of the stack.
“Knowledge-wise, I think I’m the smartest quarterback that came in this class,” Prescott recently told USA Today. “I would love to go on the board and go head to head with anybody else. That’s how I feel. That’s how confident I am.”
Quarterbacks need to have confidence in themselves. But they also need to be able to back it up, or no one else will have confidence in them.
But Prescott’s confidence may not be misplaced, even though in college his place usually was in shotgun formation.
“The offense we ran at Mississippi State was nothing short of an NFL offense,” Prescott said. “The only thing that was different is that we didn’t go under center. I swear to you, in [pre-draft] visits, every play they showed me, I could name it. We just called it something different. At another team I visited, they ran the exact same stuff we ran.”
Prescott will still have to take some snaps under center in order to run the Dallas offense. He nevertheless has looked great in either spot through three preseason games. Which will only give him more confidence now that he is stepping into the starting job for the foreseeable future.
Broncos coach Gary Kubiak came into Saturday’s game with the intention of making his decision on a starting quarterback after his team faced the Rams and nothing’s changed after watching Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch against Los Angeles.
Kubiak said after the game that he’s “got enough going on that I can make a decision,” although he didn’t say how quickly he’d be sharing that decision publicly. Siemian has started the last two games, though, and Kubiak had a lot of nice things to say about the way he played on Saturday, including the way he followed an interception with a touchdown on the next possession.
“I’m impressed. I think he’s very calm,” Kubiak said, via ESPN.com. “I can tell by the way he handles the team in the huddle, he’s got control of what’s going on. Gets a bad break on the ‘go’ ball and comes right back and goes down the field. I think what I see is a guy getting better.”
Mark Sanchez didn’t play at all on Saturday, something that Kubiak said he spoke to the veteran about on Saturday morning and explained as having “a lot to go on on Mark” while wanting to see the younger quarterbacks. That may have turned out to be the problem for Sanchez as the preseason unfolded as there’s not the same sense that he’ll be getting better at this point in his career that one can get from Siemian and Lynch.
Lions receiver Anquan Boldin is one of the NFL’s most respected veteran players and was chosen as the Walter Payton Man of the Year this year. Boldin also played with Colin Kaepernick for three years in San Francisco. So Boldin’s views on Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem may resonate with a lot of his fellow NFL players.
“I think a lot of people get bent out of shape about it,” Boldin said. “Even if you don’t agree with what someone does, you still have to respect their opinion and how they feel about something. You can agree or disagree with it but you still have to respect it. That’s the right that we have as Americans, and that’s the great part about being an American.”
Boldin does stand for the national anthem but thinks Kaepernick has the right to choose not to.
“I respect everybody’s opinion,” Boldin said. “Everybody has one. I’m sure he’s going to get flack for it, what he did, but that’s the great thing about being in America, you have that option.”
Although Kaepernick’s refusal to stand has been a controversial topic, other NFL players seem to be lining up behind Boldin, respecting Kaepernick’s right even if they disagree with his opinion.