Mike Florio discusses Sean Payton and Roger Goodell having talks about Payton potentially returning before the Super Bowl. Florio also talks about Josh Brent’s BAC level the night of Jerry Brown’s death and expanding the playoffs from 12 teams to 14 or 16 teams.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Payton back before Super Bowl?
After a poor season for Pete Morelli and his officiating crew last season that featured two separate disciplinary measures from the league for mistakes, the league has given Morelli an entirely new crew for 2016.
According to Ben Austro of FootballZebras.com, Morelli’s crew has been entirely reassigned after errors with timing in the Pittsburgh Steelers-San Diego Chargers game and a Baltimore Ravens-Jacksonville Jaguars contest last season resulted in league discipline against the crew.
Side judge Rob Vernatchi was suspended for Week 6 games after failing to notice a clock error in the Steelers-Chargers game. Another mistake in the Jaguars-Ravens game gave Jacksonville the opportunity to kick a game-winning field goal when time should have expired. The result was Morelli’s crew getting yanked from working a Sunday Night Football game in Week 13 between the Steelers and Indianapolis Colts.
The league is also set to add three new officials this season. Side judge Alan Eck and head linesman Jerod Phillips from the Big 12, and umpire Ramon George of Conference USA. Head linesman George Hayward is the only retirement from the on-field officiating roster.
The Chargers haven’t conducted joint practices with another team during training camp since 2012, a year before Mike McCoy arrived as head coach. They’ll do it this year.
Via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Cardinals and Chargers plan to practice together in advance of an August 19 preseason game between the two teams.
“You can count on us doing it,” McCoy said Monday, according to Gehlken. “I can’t tell you it’s going to be this day, it’s going to be that day. But we’re going to practice against Arizona.”
A couple of Chargers veterans with experience facing other teams during camp approve of the approach.
“I don’t want to say it breaks training camp up, but it’s not your teammates you’re going up against, so it’s kind of nice,” running back Danny Woodhead said, per Gehlken. “You get to compete against people who haven’t seen you every single day. It’s always fun to do that — not necessarily a measuring stick to where you’re at but just to go against a different team.”
“[Y]ou get tired of going up against your guys,” cornerback Brandon Flowers said. “At the end of the day, you start to pick up on all the tendencies. I’m not saying it’s not fun anymore, but you get used to it. Every day, you do the same thing. If a different team comes in here to practice, it amps up the intensity.”
The challenge is to ensure that the intensity doesn’t result in practices that get out of hand, with scuffles and fights and, ultimately, opportunities for guys to get injured beyond the scope of normal football activity.
Yet another Jacksonville Jaguar is dealing with an injury.
This time it’s center Luke Bowanko, who has a torn labrum in his right hip and will need surgery. The Jaguars have announced that Bowanko will be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
The 24-year-old Bowanko, a sixth-round pick in 2014, started 14 games at center as a rookie in 2014 but played in only six games, with no starts, in 2015.
The Colts continued the process of signing their 2016 draft picks to contracts on Monday by agreeing to terms with second-round safety T.J. Green.
Green was the 57th overall pick of the NFL draft and is the seventh of eight Colts selections to sign a contract with the team. It’s a four-year deal for Green, as it will be for third-round tackle Le’Raven Clark when the time comes for him to sign his name on the dotted line.
Green started his career at Clemson as a wide receiver before moving to safety for his final two seasons. He was only a starter for one full season (alongside Vikings seventh-rounder Jayron Kearse), but caught the eye of NFL teams because of the possibilities they saw in his mix of size (Green is 6’3″) and speed.
Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez had surgery on his left, non-throwing thumb a little more than a week ago, but expressed hope last week that he’d be on the field with the rest of the team for the start of organized team activities this week.
It doesn’t look like things are going to play out that way, however. According to Andrew Mason of the Broncos website, Sanchez is expected to miss the start of OTAs while recovering from the operation. That was the initial report when Sanchez’s injury went public.
It’s not clear when the team expects Sanchez will get the green light to resume football work, but his absence to kick off the final phase of offseason work will provide Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian with additional reps running the first team.
Those reps could conceivably lead to a rethinking of the pecking order at quarterback heading into training camp and the preseason, although it would stand to reason that those latter stages of the offseason will still provide the final determination of who leads the Broncos offense come September.
Football teams never get along better than they do when the record is 0-0. And the 0-0 Texans are currently getting along great.
On the first day of OTAs, receiver DeAndre Hopkins praised his new quarterback, who in turn praised his new coach.
“He operates like a pro’s pro,” Hopkins said regarding Brock Osweiler. “He comes out and he demands the best out of everybody, offensive line, fullbacks, even the guys that aren’t even in the huddle. He’s a natural leader.”
Osweiler, in turn, gushed about the man he didn’t even meet before committing to a four-year, $72 million contract.
“Today was my first experience in a practice environment with Coach O’Brien and I loved it,” Osweiler said. “I loved his energy, I loved his fire. He kept us on task and he expects a lot out of us which as a player you love. Sometimes he’s going to get on you, which he should. I had a couple turnovers today. I’m going to [chalk] those up as learning experiences. I’m going to make sure they don’t happen again, but I want him to be on me. I don’t want that to be acceptable. It’s a lot of fun being out there with Coach O’Brien. He’s a phenomenal football coach. He’s very smart and he’s a lot of fun to be around.”
Of course, not everything said on Monday was flowery. In response to a comment from a reporter regarding the value of entering the season knowing who the quarterback is, Hopkins said, “[W]e thought we knew who our quarterback was going into last year.”
That’s a reference to the fact that Brian Hoyer was the starter for Week One but got a quick hook for Ryan Mallett, sparking a revolving door fueled by injuries and ineffectiveness. This year, it’s unclear what will happen with Osweiler and the Texans. It’s safe to say, however, that Osweiler won’t be benched during the first game of the regular season.
While Mathieu said that he hasn’t spent much time talking about numbers with agent Tom Condon, he’s entering the final year of his contract and extension talks with the Cardinals have already gotten underway. One potential complication in those talks is the question of Mathieu’s position.
Mathieu is listed as a safety, but lines up as a cornerback more often and, at the top level, cornerbacks are compensated at a higher rate than safeties. General Manager Steve Keim said on PFT Live that he views Mathieu as “a football player regardless of position” and that two torn ACLs in the last three years are more of an issue on the team’s end. Mathieu acknowledged that it’s “tough” because of the injuries and outlined his own hopes for how the position question gets handled.
“I just want to get paid as a top defender,” Mathieu said, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. “I don’t want to be slotted as a corner or a safety, because I’m not Patrick Peterson and I’m not Earl Thomas. I’m kind of different than both of those guys, but I still have the same type of impact on the game as those guys do. I just want to be paid as a top defender, and however that looks on paper, that’s what I want. … I don’t see myself as a safety. I don’t see myself as a cornerback. I see myself as a chess piece, a guy that can move around and can play seven different positions. I don’t necessarily want to be slotted as either or.”
A deal for Mathieu would provide some framework about how to handle the increasing number of players who play hybrid roles in the NFL. A failure to reach an agreement, on the other hand, could set the table for franchise tag fights about how to designate the position for a player who plays more than one of them.
More than a year ago, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said on PFT Live that he had recently heard from an NFL team that was interested in interviewing him for a head coaching job. Fisher wasn’t interested in leaving Florida State then, and he isn’t now either, but he wouldn’t rule it out some day.
“You can’t ever say never in this business,” Fisher told the Palm Beach Post.
So what would make Fisher make the leap? The right offer.
“I love college and I had opportunities to go to pro football as an assistant coach and as a coordinator and I’ve had inquiries as a head coach,” Fisher said. “It’s got to be the right organization at the right time and the right situation if you’re ever interested. We have a great situation where I’m at. It’s not something that drives me.”
Fisher is one of the most successful coaches in college football, and he has a knack for working with quarterbacks. No one should be surprised if some NFL owner decides to make Fisher the right offer.
Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler had a long wait before he got to take part in his second NFL practice.
His first time on the field as a professional ended with a torn ACL in Jacksonville’s first practice of rookie minicamp last year and Fowler missed the entire 2015 season as a result. Fowler was back at practice on Monday for the first day of OTAs, an event that had him feeling antsy enough on Sunday night that it was difficult to get to sleep.
Fowler got his rest, though, and said after Monday’s practice that everything went well physically.
“I can turn it loose,” Fowler said, via the team’s website. “I felt pretty good, especially bending the corner and turning my torque and things like that. That was my biggest concern. That’s what I wanted to see, and I felt pretty good. … I’m just now soaking it all in like, ‘Man, I made it through a practice. I felt good. This didn’t hurt. That didn’t hurt.'”
Fowler knows the Jaguars need someone to provide a boost to their pass rush and said “that’s what I’m going to do” when discussing his plans for the coming season. If Fowler can pull that off, Jacksonville should be better on defense even if this year’s rookies have fallen victim to the same bad injury luck he experienced in 2015.
As expected, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has decided to continue to fight his four-game suspension arising from the #Deflategate controversy.
On Monday, Brady and the NFL Players Association filed a 15-page petition for a rehearing before the original three-judge panel or a rehearing before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
The assault against Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision begins quickly in the documents filed by the lawyers, accusing Goodell of “falsely portray[ing]” the Ted Wells investigation as independent and calling Goodell’s internal appeal ruling “biased, agenda-driven, and self-approving.” The petition also claims that the ruling from a divided three-judge panel “will fuel unpredictability in labor arbitrations everywhere and make labor arbitration increasingly capricious and undesirable for employers and employees alike.”
Tracking the dissenting opinion in the underlying ruling from Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann, the petition points to the fact that Goodell’s conclusion on appeal was based on “new grounds that were not part of the disciplinary decision” and that Goodell “completely ignored the collectively bargained schedule of penalties for equipment-related violations.” The petition specifically emphasizes Judge Katzmann’s comparison of football deflation to the use of Stickum, which triggers only a four-figure fine for a first offense, not a suspension.
The problem, as argued by the petition, isn’t that Goodell considered the Stickum comparison and rejected it but that Goodell never even mentioned it, relying instead only on the purported comparison between deflation of football and the use of PEDs, which triggers a four-game suspension for a first offense.
“Under the panel majority’s misguided approach,” the petition argues, “an arbitrator is now free to ignore critical provisions a CBA reflecting collectively bargained penalties.”
It remains to be seen whether that’s enough to trigger a rehearing. For a rehearing before the full Second Circuit, at least seven of the 13 active judges must agree to do it. Presumably, the Chief Judge counts as Vote No. 1.
Punter Ryan Quigley joined the Eagles in April, but he didn’t stick on the roster through the end of May.
The team announced on Monday that they have released Quigley. Quigley spent the last three seasons punting for the Jets and posted a net average of 38.9 yards during his time in Jersey.
Donnie Jones remains on the roster and currently has no challengers on the roster who would keep him from a fourth season handling punting duties for the Eagles. Jones has also played for the Dolphins, Seahawks, Rams and Texans and ranks third among all active players in both punts and gross punting yards.
The Eagles also announced that they have signed defensive Derrick Lott. Lott has previously spent time with the Titans and Buccaneers without playing in a regular season game.
The Giants dealt with a slew of injuries at safety last year, leaving them without a consistent pair in the back end of their defense on their way to a third straight losing season.
They head into this season with Landon Collins set as the starter at one spot and a group of players vying for the other starting position. According to multiple reports, that group will be missing Cooper Taylor until training camp.
Taylor is not practicing as the Giants start OTAs this week because of recent surgery to repair a sports hernia. The recovery time after such an operation is typically around 4-6 weeks and the Giants open up training camp in late July.
The NFL has issued a full response to the Congressional report suggesting that the league tried to exert undue influence over a National Institutes of Health study regarding the detection of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in living patients. The league, as expected, rejects the finding that the league withdrew $16 million in funding after failing to have Robert Stern removed as the person in charge of the work.
The league admits in a statement issued by NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy that “there were concerns raised about both the nature of the study in question and possible conflicts of interest.” However, the league contends that the concerns were raised “through the appropriate channels.”
The statement, which also summarizes the money spent by the league for research regarding head injuries, can be seen here. In all, it’s not nearly as detailed or aggressive as the league’s response to a recent New York Times report that the league strongly opposed.
It’s unclear whether the league will be doing anything more in response to the report, or whether the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will be taking any further action on the issue.
The last time we saw Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney on the field was in Week 16 of the regular season when he had a tackle in the team’s 34-6 victory over the Titans.
Clowney missed Week 17 and the team’s playoff loss to the Chiefs while dealing with a foot injury. He said after the Chiefs game that he was “frustrated” that he didn’t get on the field for those contests and said he planned to “come back and dominate the league” in 2016.
On Monday, per multiple reporters, Clowney said he didn’t need to have surgery to repair what he said was a Lisfranc injury and declared himself 100 percent healthy for the 2016 season.
History says that Clowney may have issues remaining that way. The first overall pick of the 2014 draft has missed 15 regular season games and that playoff loss to the Chiefs since joining the Texans, which has kept him from fulfilling the expectations that came with his lofty draft position.
That makes this season a big one for Clowney as the Texans will have decisions to make about his fifth-year option and a possible contract extension once the 2016 season comes to a close. Neither will feel like a particularly likely outcome if this year plays out like the last two.
With the Raiders closer and closer to moving to Las Vegas, the effort to keep the team in Oakland isn’t dead. Yet.
According to Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle, former NFL players Ronnie Lott and Rodney Peete are leading a group of investors who hope to develop the 120 acres where the Coliseum is currently situated. (The development would include a new stadium, obviously.)
Lott and Peete reportedly have met in recent weeks with team executives and city officials regarding the proposal.
The group of predominantly African-American investors also includes Egbert Perry, the chairman of the board at Fannie Mae and the CEO of Integral, a real estate and investment firm that ranks among the largest African-American owned businesses in the United States. Per the report, the group presumably would want to purchase a piece of the team, if a stadium deal can be hammered out.
Still, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf didn’t sound optimistic about the situation.
“I will not meet with any developer for this project unless they are brought to me by the Raiders, and I have asked the City Council to do the same,” Schaaf told the Chronicle.
Regardless of how the talks initiate, the clock is ticking on a possible deal to keep the team in Oakland. Although it’s believed that owner Mark Davis would prefer to stay, it can’t happen without an acceptable stadium arrangement. And there simply aren’t an overabundance of options at this point.