After bringing in a great football mind like Ron Wolf to consult the front office, Peter King and Erik Kuselias break down the new direction San Diego is headed in.
ProFootballTalk: What’s next for San Diego?
Giants receiver Victor Cruz continues to look for a load of chips to go with his salsa.
A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the Giants and Cruz continue to talk, but that the process is “moving slowly.” Talks are expected to resume this week.
Cruz, who has not yet signed a one-year, $2.879 million restricted free agency tender, has been staying away from the team’s offseason workouts as he pursues a long-term deal. He reportedly wants more than $10 million per year; the Giants at last word were in the $7 million annual range.
The next pressure point comes on June 17, when the Giants can rescind his tender offer and replace it with a 10-percent raise over his 2012 salary of $540,000, which equates to $594,000. Doing so would likely inflame the situation, causing Cruz possibly to hold out through Week 10 of the regular season, sign the tender, finish the year, and become an unrestricted free agent in 2014.
While the Giants could then keep him in place with the franchise tag, the franchise tag would pay Cruz $10 million or more for one year. And it could force the Giants to choose between Cruz and receiver Hakeem Nicks, whose rookie contract expires after the coming season.
The Cruz-Nicks conundrum surely has cast a shadow over the ongoing talks. Nicks, who plays the more valuable position of outside receiver, will want to get significantly more than Cruz, a slot receiver. Thus, paying Cruz a lot now could mean paying Nicks a lot more later.
At some point, the Giants may decide to keep only one of them, and to trust that they can develop another player who’ll catch passes from Eli Manning into a significant performer.
With the Broncos ultimately dismissing Manning’s effort to get his former Colts teammate to Denver, Freeney will now spend one-eighth of the 2013 season chasing Peyton around.
Freeney officially is a Charger, where he’ll remain a 3-4 linebacker for the second straight year.
“It’s great to add a solid veteran who brings valuable experience to our defense,” said coach Mike McCoy said in a team-issued release. “His proven pass-rush ability is a perfect fit for our defense.”
The term “perfect fit” seems a bit strong, given that Freeney has 10 years in the 4-3 and told PFT Live in February that he wants to return to that alignment. “I’m not sure [Freeney] is well-suited for a 3-4 team,” former Colts coach Tony Dungy told Chris Mortensen of ESPN. “I think Dwight needs play at right end and as a third-down pass rusher.”
Chances are Freeney will essentially do just that, putting his hand in the dirt and taking on the left tackle in passing situations.
He’ll get to do it twice against Ryan Clady, the unsigned lineman who protects Peyton Manning’s blind side. And Freeney will do it against his former team in Indy, along with the other teams he faced every year in the AFC South, starting with the opening Monday night of the season, against the Texans.
In other words, a relatively mundane offseason for the Chargers suddenly has become far more interesting.
Weeden admits that the move to add Brian Hoyer, cut last week by the Cardinals, was unexpected.
“I was surprised, but that’s the nature of the beast,” Weeden said Friday, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “It’s part of this business and if you start worrying about it, that’s too much to worry about. That’s my mentality going forward.”
Weeden said he hasn’t been told what the Browns plan for Hoyer. “I have no idea,” Weeden said. “I’m worried about me.”
Per Cabot, Hoyer arrives as No. 3 on the depth chart, behind Weeden and Jason Campbell. Hoyer then will have the opportunity to climb the ladder.
Weeden thinks he’ll hold off all comers. “You can’t play this position timid or [not] confident,” Weeden said. “You’ve got to be confident all the time. Once I got my head in this playbook and realized how good this system is and how good it fits the guys we have in place, it kind of made me excited and lit a fire under everybody to really want to take that next step including myself.”
Campbell, the first quarterback acquired by the new regime in Cleveland, wasn’t surprised by the new arrival. “You usually go into training camp with four quarterbacks,” Campbell said. “You knew somewhere along that it would probably happen.”
The fact that it happened with Hoyer should give both Weeden and Campbell concern. During his tenure with NFL Network, Browns G.M. Mike Lombardi heaped praise on Hoyer. “I’ve said this many times: If I would have taken the GM job of the 49ers, I would have gone after Brian Hoyer, because I think he has all the traits and characteristics,” Lombardi said in December 2011, via Cabot. “If I were the Cleveland Browns, I’d rather have Brian Hoyer behind center than Colt McCoy.”
Hoyer now has a dramatically better chance of being under center for the Browns than McCoy. Whether Hoyer gets there ahead of Weeden and Campbell is to be determined.
If it happens, it would be an amazing development, given that Hoyer was out of the league for most of the 2012 season.
It’s been a while since the Dolphins have had many dominant players. But they had more than their fair share in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.
So many that it won’t be easy to trim the list of all-time great Dolphins to four.
You get your chance below to help us identify the 12 or so that will eventually be trimmed to four.
Good luck now. Better luck later.
If you want to chime in on any of the other teams whose nomination process has begun, the full list of links is right here.
It’s one thing to be versatile.
But when a new coaching staff which hasn’t worked with you walks in the door and asks you to change positions, it’s probably not a good sign for your future.
The 30-year-old Avant has caught 259 passes in seven seasons, more than 50 in each of the last three seasons. So it’s not as if he lacks the ability to play the position at the NFL level.
“It’s one of those things that I work hard, I’m going to continue to work hard and whatever that may be, whatever the team wants to do with me, I’m going to do it as best as I can for the team, whatever that may be,” Avant said. “I don’t necessarily think it’ll cloud my future. I really think it’s an honor anyway for a coach to think you can do other things.”
Likewise, Harbor downplayed the notion he’s not a tight end any longer, or that he’s in jeopardy.
“I’m a tight end, and for emergency situations and versatility purposes, for me, I’m learning something new,” Harbor said. “If something happens in a game, you have 52 guys on the roster, 45 guys that can dress. If something happens where you do need an outside linebacker, it’s good to know something. I’m still a tight end. I’m not switching positions.”
Still, Harbor and Avant should also consider the possibility that their new boss thinks they’re topped out at their current positions or surplus to requirements, and that they might be plying their trade elsewhere.
If they did (or if they didn’t), the Titans aren’t saying.
In response to that question, a team spokesman deferred to the statement issued on Friday, after news of the incident broke. “We are aware of the report and we will let the legal process conclude before commenting further,” the Titans said at the time.
Though he became a free agent in March, Fokou was property of the Colts at the time of the incident. NFL rules require players to promptly notify their teams and/or the league office after such incidents.
It’s possible that the league office knew about the situation, but that the Titans didn’t. Often, information regarding off-field incidents or pending suspensions is available only on request, which means that every team should before signing any free agent call the league office and ask whether the player is currently in any form or degree of hot water.
Unless Fokou didn’t alert the Colts or the league to the situation, the possible answers to the current question can create potential P.R. issues for the Titans. Thus, not answering the question could be the only way to avoid having the topic become an even bigger problem.
Freeney ended up doing a little better. If $250,000 counts as “a little.”
Per a source with knowledge of the deal, Freeney’s two-year contract with the Chargers carries a base value of $8.75 million.
The deal pays $5.25 million in 2013, via a $3.25 million signing bonus, $1.5 million in guaranteed base salary, and a $500,000 roster bonus tied to Freeney’s presence on the weekly 46-man roster. (It works out to $31,250 per game.)
Freeney is due to earn $3.5 million in 2014, $500,000 of which is linked to weekly roster bonuses.
The contract carries a maximum value of $13.35 million, with $4.6 million tied exclusively to sacks. Though the targets aren’t currently known, we’re told that the numbers are realistic, based on his past production.
Well, that was fast.
An agreement is in place between veteran defensive end/linebacker Dwight Freeney and the San Diego Chargers.
Freeney, who spent 11 seasons with the Colts after arriving from Syracuse as a first-round pick in 2002, presumably steps into the starting lineup in San Diego, due to the recent knee injury suffered by 2012 first-rounder Melvin Ingram.
While Freeney had said that he preferred returning to a 4-3 defense, which he thrived in for 10 years before the Colts switched to a 3-4. But rushing the passer is rushing the passer regardless of the scheme.
As we understand it, Freeney was attracted to the possibility of playing with a quarterback who can give the team a lead — and in turn allow Freeney to chase down the other team’s quarterback.
Interest in Freeney spiked in recent days, after the Ingram injury gave the Chargers a clear incentive to pursue him. The Patriots, Broncos, and other teams had shown interest during Freeney’s first career foray into free agency.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft will speak at the Suffolk University commencement exercises on Sunday.
The Dolphins have added FB Rupert Bryan, who played right tackle at Florida International.
The Jets will open minicamp practice on June 11 to season-ticket holders, and on June 12 to the general public.
James Walker of ESPN.com, who at the Columbus Dispatch covered WR Chad Johnson during his time with the Bengals, fears that Johnson could be at the beginning of a “bad downward spiral” now that his playing career is likely over.
Yet another lawsuit has been filed against Pilot Flying J, the company run by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
The Ravens could have the heaviest front seven in 2013.
Coach Chuck Pagano, whose teams benefits from the wage-scale contract signed by QB Andrew Luck in 2012, says the Colts will “worry about [a long-term deal] down the road“; Luck is eligible for a new contract after the 2014 season.
Titans DE Derrick Morgan is working hard on his fitness; “I’m trying to get in the best shape I can for the season,” Morgan said. “That’s one of my major goals, is to be in the best shape of my life coming into the season and just taking care of my body.”
Texans strength and conditioning coach Cedric Smith has plenty of good things to say about his team after five weeks of the offseason program.
Chargers fans can buy (or, as the case may be, not buy) single-game tickets as of Monday.
On Monday, the Broncos will practice for the first time as a team since their double-overtime playoff loss to Baltimore. (It will all likely go very well until the last minute or so.)
A tryout at rookie minicamp persuaded the Chiefs to sign former Kansas DE Toben Opurum as a fullback.
The best part about the Eagles getting rid of “Taco Tuesdays“? It also means there will be no further “Wicked Sh-t Wednesdays.”
An alleged high-stakes Manhattan gambling operation saw a bettor win $600,000 when the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI, which reportedly “set off a long series of seemingly fumbling exchanges about how to move such a large sum of money without tipping off the authorities.”
Here’s a thought-provoking and balanced look at the Redskins name controversy from The Atlantic.
Former NFL QB Jim Miller is leaving SiriusXM NFL Radio to take a “communications position” with the Bears.
The Packers tailgate tour made an unexpected stop for the Challenge Academy Cadets, a group of at-risk youths who are trying to earn their high school diplomas.
The plan to tax cigarettes in order to help pay for the Vikings’ news stadium supposedly was a secret, but it already was in multiple budget plans.
The NFL and college jerseys of DT/LB John Small, a first-round pick of the Falcons in 1970 who died in 2012, have been stolen from a residence in Augusta, Georgia.
Former Panthers LB Mark Fields, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2003, says he can still run the 40 in 4.5 seconds, even after having a bone marrow transplant in 2012.
The Saints added DT Isaako Aaitui, a third-year player who has spent time with the Dolphins and Jets.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke, whose football team plays its home games indoors, has purchased the Outdoor Channel for $265 million, pending shareholder approval.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is getting his rookies ready to play. (They can’t be much worse than most of the veterans.)
As of January, folks in Washington can purchase Seahawks license plates.
Patience will end up paying off for Dwight Freeney.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a deal between Freeney and the Chargers is “almost done,” and it “should be done today.”
Though the veteran preferred to join a team with a 4-3 defense, he’ll be landing with a 3-4 team after more than two months on the market. And the Chargers became interested for one very important reason — they recently lost linebacker Melvin Ingram for the season with a torn ACL.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported earlier today that the two sides are “closing in” on a deal. Freeney visited the Chargers earlier this week.
New Chargers G.M. Tom Telesco knows a thing or two about Freeney. Telesco worked for the Colts, who drafted Freeney in 2002, from 1998 through 2012.
For weeks, it was believed that Freeney would reunite with Peyton Manning in Denver, especially since Manning started lobbying Freeney to become a Bronco even before the fax snafu that resulted in the release of Elvis Dumervil.
But the Broncos and other teams apparently were waiting for Freeney’s price to drop; presumably, the Chargers opted to cough up the cash once Ingram was injured.
When news broke that Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin will be suspended four games for violation of the league’s policy regarding performance-enhancing drugs, it was assumed that Irvin tested positive for Adderall.
According to Dave “Softy” Mahler of KJR radio in Seattle, Irvin’s suspension comes from Adderall use. Per Mahler, Irvin opted not to appeal.
The NFL allows players to use Adderall, a potent ADHD medication, only if the players have a prescription and if the players have obtained a therapeutic use exemption.
Last year, the league suspended Seahawks cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman after they reportedly tested positive for Adderall. Browner eventually withdrew his appeal; Sherman fought the suspension and won, based on irregularities with the sample-collection process.
Vince Young has attracted plenty of attention over the years for the wrong reasons. It’s only fair, then, to shed light on something positive he’s accomplished.
On Friday, Young graduated from the University of Texas.
“This will rank No. 1 because it is what I came to school for,” Young told Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com on Thursday night. “I came here to get an education, and to win a national championship. And now, I get to put that smile on my mom’s face.”
Young left Texas after a performance for the ages against USC in the Rose Bowl, becoming the third overall pick in the 2006 draft. A rocky relationship with coach Jeff Fisher (much of which was Young’s fault) culminated in Young being cut in 2010. He signed with the Eagles in 2011, made his unfortunate “Dream Team” remark at his introductory press conference, signed with the Bills in 2012, and was cut before the season began.
Now, Young will have a college degree, but he’s not done with football (even if football is done with him).
“I’m about to be the first in my family to graduate,” Young said. “Just finishing what I started. That’s why I’m trying to get back in the NFL. To finish what I started. That is the type of guy I am. I do work hard — even when the times are good or bad. That’s just how I was raised.”
Time’s running out for getting back to the NFL. Today, Young turns 30. If the comeback doesn’t happen now, it probably never will.
Prior to a string of arrests, former Lions wide receiver Titus Young admitted to one of his old teammates he needed help.
Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch said he was on the same flight from Miami to Detroit as Young recently, and Young opened up about a mental issue he was dealing with, even showing him documents about the condition.
“He’s aware of the situation that he’s dealing with and he showed me a paper and we went over it and I looked over it, and I understand it,” Tulloch told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “A lot of people laugh about it and ke-ke-ke about it, but it’s real. He has head issues, and the Titus Young when he came in as a rookie and the Titus Young now is two different people.
“It’s kind of like when you look at him, he’s looking through you. It’s different. You can tell there’s something going on in his mind, in his head, and I hope that he can get help.”
That something is amiss is obvious. Young remains in jail in California, after he was arraigned on eight counts of burglary and assaulting police officers. He pleaded not guilty to all of them. If convicted, he could face more than seven years in prison.
Tulloch said he sought assistance from the league on Young’s behalf, though a league spokesman declined comment citing player privacy issues.
“He has a problem,” Tulloch said of Young. “Ain’t no question about it. . . .
“We had some long discussions and he showed me some things and I was like, ‘All right.’ The fact that before he didn’t realize it, now he realizes it. He just needs help. Basically he’s reaching out for help. He’s asking questions and he wants to be cured. And it’s tough when people laugh at him and think it’s a joke. ‘Oh, Titus did this.’
“Obviously, he’s dealing with a mental issue that he needs help and people need to reach out and help him.”
That his teammates are reaching out is a good sign, and the hope remains that Young gets the help he so clearly needs.
If Manti Te’o wanted to make sure he heard fake dead girlfriend jokes forever, he’d duck his head and mutter “no comment,” or “that’s in the past.”
Embracing the joke takes the sting out of the needle, and will be what makes it go away.
Te’o appeared to be a good sport about the whole thing when Maxim named Lennay Kekua No. 69 (seriously, are they 13?) on their annual list of the world’s hottest women (never mind, they make an annual list of the world’s hottest women).
The Chargers linebacker even showed up at the magazine’s promotional party, according to the blog Busted Coverage.
There he was photographed with the kind of pretty people I suppose you get photographed with at a Hollywood party. One of them, pro volleyball player Jess Gysin, is apparently the girlfriend of Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
Of course, Clausen hasn’t thrown an NFL pass since 2010, or even been active for a game since the Panthers drafted Cam Newton.
So maybe the question should be, do we believe Gysin when she says she’s dating an NFL quarterback?
Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository reports that Campbell displayed “Roethlisberger-like size” during offseason workouts this week.
And while Weeden officially is the starting quarterback, Campbell got the first crack in 11-on-11 drills during the first segment of full-squad practices. Doerschuk praised Campbell’s performance; if the powers-that-be made the same observations, it’s hard not to wonder whether the presumed pecking order will soon become an open competition.
Campbell would have no complaints about that. His $1.5 million salary for 2013 expands by $150,000 if he take 50 percent of the snaps in 2013, $350,000 if the number goes to 65 percent, and $600,000 if he takes 80 percent of the snaps.
He also will see his 2014 salary increase based on 2013 playing time; if he takes 65 percent of more of the snaps his $2 million salary for next season becomes $4 million.
The former first-round pick of the Redskins has a long way to go before he takes any of the snaps in 2013, but with the new regime in Cleveland inheriting Weeden and adding Campbell early in free agency, Campbell may have more of a shot than anyone realizes.