Mike Florio and NBCSN NFL analyst Shaun King break down some of the top stories in the NFL including the MVP debate and the upcoming SNF matchup between the Seahawks and 49ers.
Mike Florio and NBCSN NFL analyst Shaun King break down some of the top stories in the NFL including the MVP debate and the upcoming SNF matchup between the Seahawks and 49ers.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon is expected to play his first game for the Browns since 2014 on Friday night and his return to the field comes during a week that’s seen his name mentioned in reports of trade inquiries from other clubs.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said it was a “mischaracterization” to say that the team has heard “multiple” offers from other clubs about acquiring Gordon. He also said it was “speculation I’m not going to entertain” that the Browns floated word of those offers because they would like to deal Gordon rather than run the risk of losing him to another speculation.
“We’re not looking to trade Josh,” Brown said, via Cleveland.com.
Not looking to trade isn’t quite the same as not being willing to listen should the right offer come down the pike and Brown said Gordon fits into “the same category every other player does” in terms of having a price that could sway Cleveland.
“I’m just not going to enter into any of the speculation,” Brown said. “I understand what the interest is in Josh. There are literally hundreds of conversations going around the league about players all the time, and if we got into speculating about all the reports, about what could be going on and what conversations could be going on, we’d be here for a much longer time than we have.”
Gordon will be a restricted free agent after this season, which makes him a more appealing trade target than he would be with unrestricted free agency looming, but, for now, Brown is viewing him as “a great weapon for our offense” rather than one for someone else.
Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins signed the one-year, $19.9 million franchise tag this year, putting himself in what he views as a no-lose situation in 2017: He’ll either get the franchise tag again with a minimum salary of $23.9 million, or he’ll get to test his worth in free agency.
“Here I am again,” Cousins told Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. “The team says they want to see another year. That’s fine. I’ve been in this same spot twice with a lot on the line—my college decision and my career decision. I’m getting paid a good amount this year, and it’s not like I’m stressing and losing sleep over it each night, over what’s going to happen. I played last year making a lot less in the same situation. I had to prove it.”
If Cousins struggles this season or gets hurt and isn’t able to command a big contract in free agency in seven months, that would be a worst-case scenario. Still, making nearly $20 million this year would be a pretty big consolation prize. And Cousins isn’t expecting the worst-case scenario.
“Both sides understand it’s a business. I’m not going to take things personally, and I know that if I play football well, the ball’s in my court,” Cousins said. “And really, in this league, that’s all you can ask for. If you don’t play well, you have to live with it. Then you went out and you didn’t earn it. It takes patience. That’s fine. I’ve taken the long road a few other times in my career. The long road is fine.”
Cousins sounds confident that he’ll play well this year, and the contract will take care of itself next year.
An earlier blurb pointed out concerns that the Steelers are a little too loose-lipped with medical information about players not currently employed by the team. After reading it, an executive with another team pointed out a third example featuring a lack of discretion from the Steelers.
Although the Steelers publicly have adhered to the notion that 2016 free-agent acquisition Ladarius Green remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list due to an ankle problem, multiple reports have suggested that the former Chargers tight end has headaches from a pair of concussions suffered in September 2015. The first report came from NFL Media (partially owned by the Steelers), and it cited an unnamed “member of the organization.”
“I don’t know what reports those are,” Green recently said regarding the report of headaches. “I am still on PUP because of my ankle. I have still [been] rehabbing on my ankle, so I haven’t been dealing with anything else but that.”
True or not, the Steelers have leaked that Green is dealing with headaches. Which flags Green as a guy who may have a concussion issue, and which in turn puts him in line for some hard hits aimed at determining whether he’ll get another one.
The Steelers may be frustrated by the belief, as reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that Green didn’t share the information about his headaches when he was signed by the Steelers. Given the leaks about Brandon Boykin and Keenan Lewis and Ladarius Green, it’s sort of hard to blame him.
Those two pesky facts aside, the commissioner of the Canadian Football League said he’d welcome Manziel north of the border, with conditions.
“We try not to speculate on situations like that,” Jeffrey Orridge told ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert. “And I really can’t speculate too much on hypotheticals. But I can tell you that what’s paramount to us is ensuring the success of an athlete, while at the same time preserving and promoting the integrity of the league and the game.”
While it’s unclear if that bowl of word salad goes well with back bacon, the speculation about Manziel’s returning to play is largely moot until he shows he’s interested in it. And until he takes some of those steps, it’s hard to imagine any team in the CFL or NFL being interested.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats hold his negotiation rights, giving them first crack at him if he decides to go to Canada. Orridge said the CFL will generally leave such decisions to teams, but would step into certain situations if necessary (as they may or may not have done with Greg Hardy).
“I rely primarily on the assessment of the team,” Orridge said. “It is their charge to evaluate the talent and to bring that talent forward. To be candid, if there is a situation that we believe warrants additional input, we certainly want to provide that to the team. We’re obviously charged with making sure that the integrity of the league and the integrity of our brand is perpetuated.”
How Manziel would help them toward that goal is unclear, but until he helps himself, it’s hard to know why they’d bother.
The Falcons will be getting linebacker Vic Beasley back in the lineup on Thursday night against the Dolphins after Beasley missed the team’s last game because of a shoulder injury.
Another player they hope will be part of an improved pass rush this season won’t be in the lineup for the third exhibition game of the summer, however. The Falcons announced that Dwight Freeney will not play because he is dealing with a “slight back strain.”
Per the announcement from the team, coach Dan Quinn expects Freeney to be back for the final week of the preseason. Freeney played against the Browns last week in his first game action since signing with the Falcons.
Kicker Matt Bryant won’t play on Thursday because of a hamstring issue and the Falcons will also hold out safety Kemal Ishamael, who has a shoulder injury, and running back Terron Ward, who has an ailing ankle.
49ers coach Chip Kelly didn’t fully commit to playing quarterback Colin Kaepernick against the Packers on Friday, saying Wednesday that Kaepernick was “on track” to play but that the medical staff still had to sign off on the quarterback making his first appearance of the preseason.
Kaepernick seems pretty sure that he’s going to be in the lineup, though, and he “most definitely” thinks there’s enough time left for him to show he’s the right choice to start at quarterback for the season opener against the Rams on September 12. The 49ers have said the same and he’s been splitting first-team reps with Blaine Gabbert this week.
“I’m going to go out and show everything I can these next two games [and] make sure I put my best foot forward to show this organization, this team, this coaching staff, what I’m capable of,” Kaepernick said, via the San Jose Mercury News.
Gabbert had all spring to run the starting offense by himself and he’s been in the same role for the first two preseason games without the 49ers deciding to name him the starter. That leaves a clear opportunity for Kaepernick on Friday and, should Kelly refrain from an announcement in the interim, in the fourth exhibition game.
The Bengals’ Super Bowl hopes were dealt a huge blow last year when quarterback Andy Dalton broke his hand trying to make a tackle. That won’t happen again.
That’s the word from Bengals cornerback Adam Jones, who said this morning on PFT Live that it has been stressed to Dalton that if there’s an interception, a fumble or anything else that might result in Dalton taking an unnecessary hit, he should get as far away from it as possible.
“We’ve made that clear here. We’ve made that clear. Whatever happens, he needs to run his ass back to the sideline,” Jones said.
Dalton has played well in limited action in the preseason, completing 11 of his 14 passes for 110 yards. More importantly, he has avoided contact. Continuing to avoid contact when the real games start may be the key to the Bengals finally winning a playoff game, for the first time since 1990.
As the lava from Wednesday’s unexpected eruption between the Chargers and unsigned defensive end Joey Bosa continues to flow (sorry, Pompeii), the question becomes whether the two sides will find a way to work together before the player’s rookie season is buried in ash.
The two most obvious possibilities go like this: The team caves or the player caves. After Wednesday, that’s far less likely, because a solution that allows each side to save face is now critical, especially from Bosa’s perspective.
With the Chargers firing the first shot via a public statement that vows to reduce dollars and following it up with ownership calling Bosa’s position “absolutely asinine” on the record, the team will need to find a way to undo the slap in the face as part of a compromise.
Compromise continues to be the key word. This gets done when both sides are willing to compromise and resolve their differences.
Some have suggested that the player at some point may decide to take the team’s best offer, and that he will instruct his agents to do so. That’s not expected to happen; the players and his family are upset regarding the way that Bosa has been treated, and Wednesday’s tactics will do nothing to cure that.
So will he really skip the season? Maybe he will.
The Vikings have until next week to drop their roster to 75 players and they got the ball rolling on that process Thursday.
The team announced that they have waived cornerback Melvin White, who signed a contract with the team in January but didn’t play in either of the team’s preseason games. The move leaves the roster with 89 players.
White played 30 games and made 17 starts for the Panthers in 2013 and 2014 before being released last September. He was signed to the Rams practice squad in September, but didn’t play in any regular season games for the team. White had 83 tackles, three interceptions, a touchdown and a forced fumble during his time in Carolina.
The Raiders will be playing their home games in Oakland this year, but they’ve spent a lot of time talking about making Las Vegas their home in the future.
They took a step toward setting up such a move recently. Darren Heitner of Forbes.com reports that the team filed applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the name “Las Vegas Raiders” on August 20.
The trademark application covers various classifications, including “arranging and conducting athletic competitions, namely, professional football games and exhibitions;” “production of radio and television programs” and “providing sports and entertainment information” via a variety of mediums.
Applying for those marks doesn’t mean the Raiders will be moving — the Chargers did the same this year for “Los Angeles Chargers” — but it’s part of the work that they need to do to be ready to make such a move.
The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee is currently reviewing a stadium plan that calls for an increase in Clark County hotel room taxes to provide the public portion of the financing. A recommendation is expected before the end of September.
The Patriots were able to pawn off a center they no longer wanted, and perhaps the Texans should have picked up the phone.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Texans center Nick Martin recently underwent ankle surgery and is expected to miss the entire season. He had been dealing with a high ankle sprain, and apparently it wasn’t getting better in a reasonable time frame.
That’s a tough blow for a Texans offense that was already rebuilding around new quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller. The second-rounder from Notre Dame was expected to step in immediately.
Now, they’re reconfiguring their line from the inside out.
It’s unclear if the Texans would have had any interest in former Patriots center Bryan Stork (or how interested he is in playing), but yesterday’s trade to Washington made that a moot point.
For the second time in less than a year, the Steelers have been linked to leaking negative information about the health of a player. Some who work for other teams are wondering whether this will make players think twice for trusting the Steelers with their medical data.
In June, a report emerged that cornerback Brandon Boykin has a career-threatening hip injury. Now, after free-agent cornerback Keenan Lewis visited the team about a potential return, a report has emerged that the Steelers are concerned about his hip.
Whatever the objective in leaking such information (perhaps the team wants the fans to understand why players are being signed), such information can hurt a player. Literally.
“The people that play this game want to know if someone is injured,” one league source said. “If they are true competitors they are going to try and exploit that injury.”
It’s a good point, and if this dynamic suggests a trend, players may want to think twice about letting the Steelers have access to information about their overall health.
Veteran running back Stevan Ridley is back on the street.
The Lions released Ridley today, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.
That’s a surprise considering that new Lions G.M. Bob Quinn — who was involved in the decision to draft Ridley in New England in 2011 — gave Ridley $250,000 guaranteed four months ago. But it’s not a surprise if you’ve watched the Lions’ two preseason games: Ridley has been playing with the third stringers, and he has averaged just 3.0 yards a carry. The Lions have two running backs who are clearly ahead of Ridley on the depth chart in Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, and two more young running backs who probably have more promise than Ridley going forward in Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner.
Ridley, who played for the Jets last season after four years with the Patriots, now becomes an unrestricted free agent.
On the surface, a Keenan Lewis reunion in Pittsburgh makes sense.
The former Steelers cornerback visited with the team this week after being cut by the Saints, but a deal doesn’t seem imminent.
According to Gery Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers “did not like what they saw” in regards to Lewis’ hip injury, which could delay or derail his signing.
Lewis missed 10 games last season and didn’t practice much this offseason with the Saints, and if the hip problem is troubling the team which should know his medical file well, it might not be a good sign for his immediate future.
Other teams are reportedly interested, and it will be worth watching to see if they have the same medical concerns, or whether a positional need could override that.
The Browns traded for cornerback Jamar Taylor this offseason in hopes that the 2013 second-round pick would find more success in Cleveland than he did in Miami.
They’re giving him a chance to find that success by putting him opposite Joe Haden with the first team for this week’s game against the Buccaneers. That spot was filled last year and in the first two preseason games by veteran Tramon Williams, who said Wednesday that he’s “not going to say [his starting position is] gone.”
Williams said he’s not frustrated about the Browns’ desire to see Taylor play with the first team and that he was told the reason “was not from my play,” which he believes is still strong enough for him to be more than the team’s nickel corner. That’s part of the reason why Williams says he won’t stop fighting to be in the starting lineup come the regular season.
“Over my whole career I’ve been kind of the underdog type of guy, so nothing changes now,” Williams said, via Cleveland.com. “I had to fight. I didn’t have a scholarship coming out of high school and went undrafted in the league, so nothing changes for me. The chip is always there. Sometimes, somebody just has to remind you that it’s still there. But other than that, I’ll do what I have to do, man.”
Teams need to play at least three corners much of the time to match up with opposing passing attacks, so Williams would see plenty of playing time however the team decides to define their role in the defense. Taylor’s play this week could also make the starting question moot, although the Browns would surely prefer having to deal with the playing time headaches that might come with the alternative.