Should Houston be worried by Matt Schaub’s recent dismal play and lack of playoff experience? Mike Florio answers that question and more as he previews this AFC wild card matchup.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Previewing Bengals-Texans
Browns defensive tackle Danny Shelton was spotted with a cast on his left arm recently, which spurred questions on Twitter about what was bothering him.
Shelton revealed he had his wrist “cleaned up” since the end of the regular season and that he’ll be fine in time for next season. A Browns spokesman told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal the same thing and Shelton’s agent said his client will be working out next week.
Shelton has started 31-of-32 games since the Browns drafted him in the first round in 2015. His second season was an improvement on his rookie campaign as he recorded 59 tackles and 1.5 sacks in Hue Jackson’s first year in Cleveland.
Jackson’s second year will see a new defensive scheme introduced by new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The move will include a shift to a 4-3, which will require a shift in Shelton’s role, but it doesn’t sound like his wrist should cost him much time on the field while it is being installed.
The Dolphins signed a pretty good class of free agents yesterday.
QB Patrick Mahomes would love to play for the Browns.
The Steelers hope to provide a home-ice advantage for the Penguins this weekend.
The Titans could use some S depth and versatility.
Fixing the Broncos OL could be a complicated job.
A look at the Chiefs top needs in free agency.
New Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is fired up about his new gig.
Giants G.M. Jerry Reese needs to build on last year’s splash signings in free agency.
The Eagles could justify a less splashy approach at WR.
Taking a look at Washington’s free agency needs on offense.
Will the Jay Cutler Era push the Bears in a different direction in their next QB search?
Free agency could provide a significant lift to the Lions OL problems.
The Falcons will get a boost to a need area when some guys get healthy.
The Panthers cleared over $4 million in cap space this week.
The Saints could use free agency to shore up their CB position.
Looking at the Cardinals’ draft options.
The Rams are offering a ridiculous prize to a practically unwinnable contest.
49ers executive Paraag Marathe said his job was to stay in his lane and assist the new coach and General Manager.
Our own Curtis Crabtree was the star of the Seahawks media combine, showing good hands.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network explained on (shocker) NFL Network that Cutler is “still considering” whether he wants to play, not play, walk away, etc.
For Cutler, the retirement option is a useful tool to scare away a team that may be inclined to trade for him, but that he may not be inclined to play for. It’s also a way to save face, in the event no one trades for him, the Bears cut him, and no one offers him the starting job without having to compete with a rookie and/or slappy.
That’s the difference between Cutler and guys like Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger. For them, the play/no play option has a viable location if the decision is to play. For Cutler, retirement may be the only way to avoid washing out of the bottom of the league by spending a year getting banged around on a bad team — or to escape the indignity of a quarterback-needy league collectively deciding it no longer wants him.
The Titans had a banquet downtown for their season-ticket holders and gave out some awards, but one will be remembered far beyond the usual collection of honors for football players.
Former Titans linebacker Tim Shaw, who has remained around the team following his diagnosis with ALS, walked to the stage with center Ben Jones when it was time to open the envelope and present Most Inspirational Titan.
“There must be some problem with this,” Shaw said, via Paul Kuharsky of ESPN. com. “It says Tim Shaw. . . .
“To be called inspirational is actually the most humbling thing that’s ever happened to me,” Shaw continued. “To me, it’s inspirational when you face something that is not cool, something that scares you, something that can potentially bring you down, and you go right at it. To me that’s inspirational.
“So if that’s what I am doing, you can call me inspirational.”
Shaw, who played for the Titans from 2010-12, was diagnosed with the degenerative disease in 2014. He has been a fixture around the team since, offering motivational speeches and a presence for a team that made great improvements last year.
“You had a large part in what happened in 2016 for this Titans football team,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey told Shaw. “He came in training camp and had such an impactful message to this football team that he changed a lot of lives.”
Shaw’s approach to his fight has been something any team would want to embrace, and part of the reason they made him a “Titan for life” last summer, putting him on the roster for a day during training camp so he could retire with the team.
Former Jaguars and Lions cornerback Fernando Bryant has been fired from his job as a high school coach over a seemingly innocuous photograph his wife posted on social media.
Strong Rock Christian School initially hired Bryant as a teacher and its head football coach, but then sent him a letter three weeks later telling him that he would not get the job.
“This letter will confirm that Strong Rock Christian School has made a decision not to move forward with your employment in the position of head coach of the football team and physical education teacher. As we discussed, after we made the offer to you, some within our parent community raised concerns regarding your family’s public presence on social media and the internet and questioned whether the postings and information were consistent with our Christian values. We’re sorry that our relationship had to end before it started. We wish you the best,” the letter stated, via Atlanta TV station 11 Alive.
Bryant says he’s baffled by the decision. The school did not tell him specifically what was posted on social media to get him fired, but he was led to believe it was a picture of himself and his wife holding a bottle of alcohol. Bryant said the school never told him employees weren’t allowed to drink alcohol.
“I’m a Christian, but that’s the one thing that gives Christianity a bad name, when we start passing judgment on one another,” Bryant said.
Bryant was the Jaguars’ first-round pick in the 1999 NFL draft. He played five seasons in Jacksonville and four in Detroit.
A study commissioned by the NFL on last year’s game between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders played in Mexico City has determined the event generated $45 million.
In a story by the Associated Press on the study – produced by Ernst and Young – the activity around the game generated $43 million in tourist spending, of which $32 million was incremental to the Mexico City economy.
The 27-20 victory by the Raiders was attended by 76,473 at Estadio Azteca. It was the first NFL game to be played in Mexico since the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals played in the same stadium in 2005.
The Raiders will return to Mexico City next season and host the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Just like the NFL’s increasing schedule in London, if their games abroad continue to generate significant returns in profit the league will undoubtedly continue to expand its reach into new locales.
Patriot owner Robert Kraft testified in the first Aaron Hernandez trial. Patriots coach Bill Belichick could testify in the second Aaron Hernandez trial.
Via the Associated Press, Hernandez’s lawyers have added Belichick to the list of possible witnesses. The head coach joins offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as persons who may take the oath and answer questions.
The potential purpose of Belichick’s testimony isn’t known. Typically, lawyers pump up the list with an overly broad list of names in order to conceal the actual case strategy that would arise if the lawyers listed only the witnesses who actually will testify.
Putting it another way, it’s like listing 20 players as “questionable” so that the other team won’t know who’s actually injured.
Already convicted and serving life without parole for the June 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd, Hernandez now stands trial for the July 2012 murders of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. Jury selection has begun, and opening statements are scheduled for March 1.
Former North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky will participate in everything except the bench press at next week’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Trubusky’s father told the News-Herald in Willoughby, Ohio.
Though that’s subject to change, it’s noteworthy because some top prospects skip their group’s workout session and instead choose only to throw or fully work out on their own campuses.
Earlier this week, former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson said he plans to fully participate in the NFL Scouting Combine. Trubisky, Watson and DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame — all early entries in the 2017 NFL Draft — are generally considered the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, while some would put Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech among the top group.
There doesn’t seem to be a consensus No. 1 quarterback at this point of the process, so the hand-shaking, medical-checking and interview portions of next week’s event figure to be just as important as what goes on in the formal throwing session, which ends the three days the quarterbacks will spend in Indianapolis.
Workout groups in Indianapolis are generally divided alphabetically and by position, so Trubisky and Watson will likely be throwing together in the second group during the on-field quarterback workout.
The 49ers announced Wednesday that longtime personnel executive Tom Gamble is leaving the team.
Gamble has spent 10 of his 29 NFL seasons with the 49ers. He returned to the team for the past two years after serving as vice president of player personnel with the Eagles in 2013-14.
“The 49ers organization has tremendous respect and appreciation for Tom Gamble and his many years of service,” new 49ers General Manager John Lynch said in the team’s release on Gamble’s departure. “He is a class act who has helped a great deal in this transition, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him.
“After working together over the last month, Tom and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests for him to pursue other opportunities. Tom is a true professional and we wish him and his family great success in the future.”
Gamble was director of pro personnel with the 49ers from 2005-10 and director of player personnel in 2011-12 before going to Philadelphia. He was the team’s assistant G.M. last season, putting him in position to help Lynch transition into his first front office job.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick can bail on the balance of his contract between March 2 and March 7. The 49ers can do so at any time. For now, both sides are still weighing their options. The process included a recent meeting between the player and his new coach and G.M., Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, respectively.
“We had a great discussion and Colin left excited, we left excited and I think as Kyle and I really believe, the evaluation is still very much fluid,” Lynch told KNBR, via Chris Biderman of USA Today.
“And we’ve only been on the job a couple weeks. I can tell you, we both really very much being around Colin and he seems like he’s in a real good place.”
Kaepernick is due to earn $14.5 million in 2017, and the 49ers surely won’t be paying him that kind of money for one more year. Given that Shanahan and Lynch are newcomers, Kaepernick is no different to them than any other free agent quarterback would be. Because he’s still under contract with the 49ers, however, the team has the ability to talk to him and to negotiate with him before he voids the contract and becomes a free agent.
There’s a chance that, in the end, both sides will decide that its in their mutual best interests to give it another try. The final decision will depend on the other options for the team and the other options for the player. Given that multiple other teams will not be inclined to alienate a large swath of the fan base by signing the player at the heart of the 2016 anthem protests, staying in San Francisco could be his best option.
In weighing his options, Kaepernick would benefit from some third-part advice. For now, though, he still doesn’t have an agent.
When the Patriots traded for tight end Martellus Bennett, they knew that: (1) he had one more year left on his contract; and (2) if he and/or the team had a big year, Bennett would try to parlay the experience into a contract potentially worth more than what the Patriots would be willing to pay. Indeed, the Patriots have a habit of trading for players in the final years of their contracts because if/when the players leave via free agency, the departure counts toward the team’s eventual haul of compensatory draft picks.
Of course, that reality isn’t keeping some fans from lobbying Bennett to take less to stay in New England. To that, Bennett had this to say: “Stop @’ing me about taking less money. You take less money [at] your job? All of you take a pay cut hahaha.”
Later, he said this: “All I’m saying is cut your own grass don’t be all in my garden f–king with my fruit while weeds are growing all over yours.”
Bennett is right. Football players have a limited number of years to play, and they have every right to try to get as much as they can while they can. Owners chase every dollar they can without criticism; players should do the same.
Actually, players have even more reason to pursue as much money as possible because they don’t own anything other than their own bodies. At a time when management and labor are roughly splitting the revenues, the players get half the revenue and the owners get all the revenue and all the equity.
So go for it, Marty and every other free agent. Get paid. Use your leverage. And don’t apologize to any of the people who aren’t putting their short-term and long-term health interests on the line to engage in a profession that too many trivialize by calling it a “game.”
It’s not a game. It’s a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that keeps growing and growing and the men who have careers that last for a blink of an eye in relation to the overall life of the business should do anything and everything to get what they can while they can.
“You better believe we want DeSean here,” Winston told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday. “I think he would be a great asset to our team. Me growing up an Eagles fan, seeing what he did for the Eagles and back in his Cal days and even with the Redskins, I would love to have DeSean.”
The new league year begins March 9, and Jackson will be a free agent unless he signs a new deal with Washington before then.
Winston was asked about Jackson during an appearance at a school because of an ESPN report from earlier in the week that listed Tampa Bay as a possible destination for Jackson, who’s talked openly about free agency. The ESPN report said Jackson and Winston have an existing relationship and listed the Bucs as a possible suitor.
Winston said now that he has two seasons under his belt, he “can be one of our best recruiters. My main focus is to win.”
Jackson, 30, has long been one of the NFL’s best deep threats. A potential pairing of Mike Evans and Jackson would allow Winston the opportunity to throw the ball vertically on both sides of the field and dare safeties to devote extra attention to one side or another.
Linebacker James Harrison didn’t spend much time after the end of the Steelers’ season weighing whether he wanted to return for another NFL season.
Harrison, who turns 39 in May, said after the team’s playoff loss that he wasn’t done playing. It appears he’s already thinking about his plans for after his 40th birthday as well.
Harrison’s agent Bill Parise told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that his client would like to sign a two-year contract this offseason. This week also brought word of “mutual interest” between Harrison and the Steelers in yet another year in Pittsburgh and Parise confirmed their side of it.
“Of course James wants to be in Pittsburgh,” Parise said.
It remains to be seen if the Steelers share that interest, but there are a lot of ways to structure a contract so that parting won’t be too onerous if the Steelers decide that Harrison has reached the end of the line by the end of the 2017 season.
If you watched or listened to Wednesday’s PFT Live, you saw or heard (or both) a discussion about the teams that could be or should be interested in Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. And while Cutler has the power to essentially scare away any potential suitor, it doesn’t get to that point unless and until potential suitors emerge.
So which teams could be or should be interested in adding Cutler via trade or, if he’s released, as a free agent? Here’s the list that Stats and I discussed on Wednesday’s show.
49ers: This one makes a lot of sense, for various reasons. First, the cupboard is largely bare. Second, new G.M. John Lynch called Cutler a “once-in-every-15-year-type talent” after the Broncos traded Cutler to the Bears eight years ago. Third, the father of new coach Kyle Shanahan drafted Cutler 11 years ago in Denver. And while Shanahan has said he’s not interested in a short-term fix at quarterback, Cutler at the age of 33 could, in theory, have five or more years left.
Jets: Last year, the Jets reluctantly paid Ryan Fitzpatrick $12 million to be the starter. This year, they could trade for Cutler at $12.5 million (plus up to $2.5 million in per-game roster bonuses). That comparison, along with the presence of Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg on the roster, makes Cutler a potential arrival in New York — even though ESPN.com reported in the aftermath of the hiring of Jeremy Bates, a twice-former Cutler tutor, as quarterbacks coach that the Jets won’t be pursuing Cutler.
Bills: If they decide not to guarantee $27.5 million to Tyrod Taylor, the Bills need a quarterback. Enter Cutler, who arguably would walk through the door as the best signal-caller since the days of the Doug Flutie/Rob Johnson rigmarole. But a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since Johnson and Flutie were on the roster should think twice about embracing a quarterback who hasn’t been there since 2010 — especially since Cutler may have no interest in spending his final years playing second fiddle in the AFC East to Tom Brady.
Chiefs: Adding Tony Romo makes sense because it can be argued that Alex Smith has taken the Chiefs as far as he can. That’s still farther than Cutler would possibly take them. Given Cutler’s personal playoff drought and his own durability questions, Cutler wouldn’t be the potential upgrade that Romo could be.
Texans: It makes no sense to add Jay Cutler at his current salary or anything close to it, especially with Brock Osweiler getting $16 million fully guaranteed in 2017. It makes plenty of sense to consider Cutler as a backup, at backup-quarterback pay, if it gets to the point where no one wants Cutler as a starter and the Texans want a viable break-glass-in-emergency option if/when Osweiler fails during his second season with the team.
Broncos: I love good stories (because clickety-click-click), and a Cutler homecoming to Colorado would be a great story. It also is plausible, given that the football regime has completely changed since he was run out of town by Josh McDaniels and in light of the current in-house options. Last year, an effort to trade for Colin Kaepernick cratered because Denver didn’t want to pay $12 million for one year. How much would John Elway and company be willing to pay Cutler? Ultimately, that could be the key to a potential reunion.
Washington: The case against tagging Kirk Cousins is a simple one. At $23.94 million for 2017 under the franchise tag, Washington could get someone nearly as good as Cousins for a lot less money, with the rest going to other players at other positions. Cutler, at roughly half the amount Cousins would cost, therefore makes sense to consider, if Washington is seriously considering not keeping Cousins.
Dolphins: I’m throwing this one in here primarily to troll Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Cutler had a strong season in 2015, when Dolphins coach Adam Gase ran the offense in Chicago. But as became clear during the 2016 season and the trade deadline approached, the Dolphins are all in with Ryan Tannehill, and they won’t be adding Cutler.
Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson said at the Davey O’Brien Award reception in Forth Worth, Texas, that he wants to be a Cowboy. Watson said that when he won the Davey O’Brien Award last year, he told Cowboys coach Jason Garrett that if he won the award again, the Cowboys would have to draft him. Watson did win the award again, so Watson wants the Cowboys to follow through.
“I like being in Fort Worth, Texas, and I promise you I’ll be back here,” Watson said. “And I told coach Garrett, ‘If I’m back here, you have to draft me.’ I know a lot of Cowboys fans, Tony Romo is healthy, Dak, I’m a huge fan, love that man, he’s been successful, but hey, I did my part, you have to do your part. I’ll see you at the Combine so we’ll talk more about that.”
There is, of course, exactly zero chance of the Cowboys trading Dak Prescott to draft Watson, and Watson surely knows that — he was laughing as he said it. But in Watson’s perfect world, the Cowboys would acquire the first overall pick from Cleveland, and Watson would go to Dallas.
“The Browns do need a quarterback. You can trade both of them. They need two.”
Watson was joking, as was Myles Garrett when he called for the Cowboys to draft him. But Browns fans may not find it so funny that top prospects keep talking about how they’d prefer to go elsewhere.