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The Buccaneers raised ticket prices for the first time in eight years in 2016 and followed that up with their first winning season in six years, so they’re going to try the same thing again.
The team is advertising season ticket packages to their fans and they show a rise in prices for most seats again this year. Rick Stroud and Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times report that all tickets in the lower level will be more expensive this season along with more than half the sections in the upper level and much of the team’s club seats.
“Feeding off the tremendous energy and excitement of the recently completed 2016 season, we know that Bucs fans are already looking forward to what should be one of the most anticipated seasons in recent memory,” Buccaneers chief operating officer Brian Ford said. “Our focus is always on providing our fans with a world-class atmosphere when they are visiting Raymond James Stadium, and we are proud that we have been able to continue enhancing the game-day experience while still maintaining one of the most affordable ticket prices in the NFL.”
The Bucs, who ranked 31st in the league in ticket prices before the two rounds of increases, are in the second year of a renovation project designed to spruce up Raymond James Stadium. They will welcome both of this year’s Super Bowl participants along with the Giants, Jets, Bears, Lions, Saints and Panthers during the 2017 season.
It’s been known for years that any Broncos player or coach who needs legal help hires Harvey Steinberg. For the Steelers, the knee-jerk barrister has become Robert Del Greco Jr.
The son of a former Yankee whose possessions include a photo of himself as a baby being held by Mickey Mantle (maybe they should have named him Seven) now serves, via George Willis of the New York Post, the counsel of record for Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis following an incident last weekend in Pittsburgh.
“I know that whenever any of the Steelers get in trouble, he’s the guy they call,” an unnamed source at the Pittsburgh Municipal Court told Willis regarding Del Greco, who has represented players like Jerome Bettis, Le’Veon Bell, and Joey Porter.
It’s a smart move by Revis, who will benefit from the relationships and expertise that Del Greco has cultivated through years of maneuvering clients through the system. It’s also a smart move for Del Greco, since Revis is what those who run law firms like to call a “cost-insensitive client.”
So far, the evidence feels flimsy and the gravity of the charges doesn’t seem to match the fairy innocuous (relative to other crimes) facts of the case. It may be difficult if not impossible, based on the proof currently known, to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Revis committed aggravated assault by knocking out two youths on the South Side — especially since the two youths don’t know what happened and there’s apparently no video.
Recently, Del Greco somehow managed to persuade the local D.A. to drop an aggravated assault charge against Porter, who now serves as the team’s linebackers coach, despite video evidence that appeared to be indisputable. With nothing like that apparently available in this case, it seems like only a matter of time before the charges are reduced and the case is quietly resolved with minimal criminal consequence for Revis.
Having Del Greco on the case serves only to make that outcome more likely.
The Saints are coming off their third straight 7-9 season and a third straight season with a defense that ranked at the bottom of the league, which doesn’t make for much suspense when it comes to discussing areas of focus for the offseason.
New Orleans needs to get better on defense and coach Sean Payton knows where he wants to start that process. Payton wants more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
“It’s a must. We’ve got to find a pass rusher,” Payton said, via the team’s website. “Now, whether that comes from free agency or that comes from the draft, we have to be better at affecting the quarterback. Last year if you took hurries, sacks, pressures — a study of all three things that can happen with a rush — we were in the bottom third of the league and that has to get better.”
With Chandler Jones and Melvin Ingram looking like strong candidates for the franchise tag, defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Mario Addison could be the top free agent options coming off the edge. The draft will likely offer several possibilities for New Orleans to consider with the 11th overall pick and using both routes might be the best approach for a team in serious need of a defensive upgrade.
Washington receiver DeSean Jackson has been sending mixed messages about whether he wants to return to Philadelphia or stay where he has been for the last three years. However, Jackson may have more than two options when the market opens in 18 days.
Current chatter in league circles is that Jackson will be generating strong interest as free agency approaches. Despite being 30, he’s still one of the fastest players in the league — capable of breaking a game open and otherwise stretching a defense in a way that allows others to operate in the underneath area.
In December, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said that Jackson consistently claims that “I’ll be back,” and with coach Chip Kelly long gone it wouldn’t be a shock if Philly pursues a reunion. In immediate response, Jackson opted to be vague.
“Once free agency comes, we’ll see how it plays out,” he said in the aftermath of Graham’s comments. “This is the first time in my career I’ll hit the free-agent market, so I’m definitely intrigued about seeing what’s going to happen and test the market and see what’s going on. Who knows what will happen?”
More recently, Jackson said he’d like to stay in Washington, but added that he’ll “take the best offer.” He also seemed to be a little resentful about the way things ended in Philadelphia.
“The image they put out on me, I had three years to prove to everyone ‘No, he’s not that type of guy,'” Jackson said earlier this month, via ESPN.com. “‘He’s a team guy. He loves to get the ball.’ What receiver do you want on the team who doesn’t want to get the ball? And then as far as how I am around the locker room, with teammates and all the guys, the coaches, I proved and showed everybody. I haven’t gotten in trouble off the field. I’ve done everything. I’m a family man. I’m a man about business who wants to go out there and keep producing.”
Before he produces on the field, he may be producing a large signing bonus and a hefty guarantee with Washington, Philadelphia, or someone else.
At a time when Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott remains under investigation by the NFL for a claim of domestic violence, Elliott apparently won’t be under investigation for a new incident.
In response to a report by TMZ that Elliott was “detained” by police at a nightclub on Friday night in Columbus, Ohio, Elliott posted a message on social media sharply opposing the claim.
“I was never ‘detained’ by the police,” Elliott said, via Vince Langford of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Nor was I ever questioned or in any type of trouble.”
Elliott apparently is right, given that TMZ changed its tune to remove any reference to detention. The updated story claims that Elliott’s representatives say he “spoke with cops” about an incident in the nightclub, and that the matter did not involve Elliott.
The current version of the post still notes that an eyewitness told TMZ that Elliott “had been detained,” but TMZ admits that others have said “that was not the case.”
The bigger issue for Elliott continues to be the absence of a decision from the NFL exonerating him for the allegation that he assaulted a female acquaintance last July. Both Elliott and his lawyer have agitated for closure, but the league still has said and done nothing to resolve the situation. Last month, owner Jerry Jones reiterated his own belief that the issue is over — even if it isn’t.
What will the Patriots do at tight end this offseason?
The case for the Ravens drafting a cornerback in the first round.
When should the Browns address the quarterback position?
Some praise for a pair of Colts rookies.
Alabama DL Jonathan Allen could fit with the Jaguars.
Will the Titans draft players with local ties this year?
Four free agent options for the Broncos at wide receiver.
A look at which positions are popular picks for the Chiefs in mock drafts.
A breakdown of the Raiders defensive line.
Will the Giants trade for a left tackle?
An optimistic take on the Eagles defense for 2017.
How much roster turnover will the Redskins have this year?
The film will help the Bears make a quarterback decision.
Remembering when former Packers DE Willie Davis stood with Muhammad Ali.
A breakdown of the Falcons defensive backs.
The Panthers have started working on their offensive line.
The Saints have decisions to make at safety.
Fixing the Rams offensive line isn’t a quick job.
The 49ers have a youthful coaching staff at the top.
There are several tackle options available for the Seahawks.
Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell was released by the Dolphins last Thursday in a move that saves Miami some money under the cap and gives Mitchell a jump on free agents when it comes to landing a new job.
It looks like he should be in good position to do that. Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that Mitchell has lined up visits with the Seahawks, Falcons, 49ers and Broncos since being released.
The Seahawks and Falcons run similar 4-3 schemes on defense and would be looking to plug Mitchell into their rotations on the interior of the line. The 49ers hired Robert Saleh as their defensive coordinator this week and head coach Kyle Shanahan cited the Seahawks and Falcons as models for the defense they plan to run.
Denver, meanwhile, is now coached by Vance Joseph. Joseph was the defensive coordinator in Miami last season and is therefore very familiar with what Mitchell can bring to a defense.
The Cardinals took a big step backward from 13-3 in 2015 to 7-8-1 in 2016, and they’re eager to change things in a hurry.
Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim said the Cardinals’ priority in free agency will be players who can make an immediate impact.
“We’ll certainly be aggressive and keep our foot on the gas pedal, try to keep pushing this thing in the right direction,” Keim said. “There’s no doubt we took a step back last year. We’ve got to pick up the pieces and make some good decisions this offseason.”
Keim acknowledged wanting to win while the 37-year-old Carson Palmer and the soon-to-be 34-year-old Larry Fitzgerald are still around, although he said he considers himself an aggressive G.M. all the time.
“There are guys like Carson and Larry where you know the end is sooner rather than later. So you have to try and build around them and, so to speak, go for it now,” he said. “But that’s our mindset every year. We’re never in a rebuilding phase. To me, you owe it to your fanbase to go for it every year, to be aggressive either in free agency or the draft. But you also have to keep in mind that you are going to do the right thing for the organization for the long-term. That’s the biggest challenge.”
If the Cardinals don’t improve this year, it may be rebuilding time, even if Keim never wants to think of the team in those terms.
New England receiver Danny Amendola has agreed to restructure his contract in each of the last two offseasons, and now the Patriots hope to make it three in a row.
Amendola will not be back on his current contract, Mike Reiss of ESPN reports.
Under the restructured deal Amendola agreed to last offseason, Amendola gets a base salary of $6 million and a roster bonus of $375,000. That’s way more than the Patriots are going to pay a receiver who had 23 catches for 243 yards last year.
Still, the Patriots like what Amendola can contribute, both on offense and on special teams. So they’d like him to come back, if they can convince him to take a pay cut. Given how agreeable Amendola has been the last two years, it seems reasonable that they can come to terms again, as long as Amendola can accept that he’s going to get a lot less than $6.375 million for 2017.
Yes, the Cardinals would like to re-sign safety Tony Jefferson. They may have a hard time doing it, however.
The Cardinals have plenty of cap space already devoted to the secondary, with big contracts previously given to cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu. They need to smooth out the cap burden among all positions, and they can’t afford to get top heavy on the last line of defense.
The franchise tag hasn’t been mentioned as to Jefferson; with the team intending to apply it to pass rusher Chandler Jones (and Jones should decline to do a long-term deal until the tag is applied), they won’t be able to tag Jefferson.
And so Jefferson, who quietly became one of the best safeties in the NFL last season, could be headed for a major payday in a place other than Arizona. Last month, Jefferson admitted that he has put himself in different uniforms in the Madden game to see how it all looks.
It looks like Jefferson will be moving on, unless the Cardinals are willing to over-invest in their secondary at the expense of the rest of the team.
The Dolphins are strengthening their commitment to defensive end Cameron Wake.
Wake has signed a new contract that keeps him with the team through 2018, the Dolphins announced today.
This is the second time in the last 10 months that Wake has signed a two-year extension; he also signed one in May. This time Wake is getting $19 million over two years, including $11 million guaranteed.
The 35-year-old Wake got some comeback player of the year consideration for the way he bounced back from a ruptured Achilles tendon to record 11.5 sacks in 2016. The Dolphins obviously believe he has a couple more good years left in him.
At a time when the football-following world is considering whether Washington will apply the franchise tag a second time to quarterback Kirk Cousins and whether the Chiefs will apply the franchise tag a second time to safety Eric Berry, the Rams have a player who was tagged a year ago, who could be tagged again.
Cornerback Trumaine Johnson received the tag a year ago. To do it again, Johnson would be entitled to a 20-percent raise over hi $13.952 million salary from a year ago. That’s $16.74 million for one more year with Johnson.
The Rams have to decide whether to make that investment or to let Johnson hit the open market. If he goes, it will be the second straight year for the Rams to lose a top-shelf cornerback to free agency.
Assessing Johnson for a potential return will be a new coaching staff, with a defensive coordinator who comes from a Broncos team that was loaded with quality corners. So what will Sean McVay want? What will Wade Phillips want? And what are the options for replacing him, both on the roster and elsewhere?
There will be plenty of much cheaper choices for the Rams, but can they do as well or better than Johnson? It’s a decision the Rams will have to make by March 1, one way or the other.
As a football player, I’ve been a fan of Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs from the moment he made his first impact on the NFL as a rookie in 2015. As a potential social-media troll, he may have even better chops. Unless he’s really not deliberately riling up his followers when he suggests that he agrees with NBA player Kyrie Irving’s view that the Earth is flat.
Yes, whether the Earth is flat has recently become a thing in the sports world. Irving may be trolling, too, and the ultimately genius of the approach (if it’s all an act) is that it points out the nature of the age in which we currently reside. Given the ridiculous factual claims that people are willing to blindly embrace as true, maybe it’s not ludicrous to think someone genuinely rejects the long-settled notion that the Earth is round.
Irving would hardly be alone regarding the lingering notion that the planet is pancake-shaped; a few minutes with Google unlocked plenty of evidence of others who reject the evidence that the world is round. The argument hinges on the notion that the spherical theory emerged as a way to supplant religion with science, since the Bible suggests that the world is flat.
The claim is less stunning given that the flat-or-round world generally has morphed into a place where the line between fact and opinion has been obliterated, and all that matters is what you believe.
I believe I now need a nap.
The son of Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim plays for a flag football team coached by Frank Caliendo.
Former NFL head coach Gary Kubiak talked up 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan as a coach, but not as a babysitter.
Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur confirms that the new staff will adapt its system to the players on the roster.
Former Seahawks running backs coach Sherman Smith was considering returning until he learned that the team wanted to make a change.
Former Eagles S Quintin Mikell is leaving the team’s front office. (Maybe he’ll eventually be very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very still with me? good very very very very very very close to becoming the San Francisco G.M., like another former Eagles front-office employee.)
Here’s a look at the difficulty of the Giants’ 2017 schedule, which includes six games against playoff teams.
The Bears have four likely paths for finding a new quarterback.
Would stadium enhancements help the Lions attract free agents?
Should the Saints avoid receivers in free agency?
The Panthers made an organized effort to acknowledge Random Acts of Kindness Week.
For $20, you can tour the stadium where the Raiders play. (For $50, you don’t have to go on the tour.)
At least one Denver columnist believes the Broncos should take a serious look at Tony Romo.
Appreciating former Chargers assistant coach Dave Adolph, who recently died at 79.
Patriots CB Cyrus Jones “didn’t feel a part of” the Super Bowl win. (Patriots fans are surely happy he wasn’t given a chance to feel a live ball graze his leg as he inexplicably ran toward it during a punt return.)
Here’s a look at the Jets’ cap situation, and more.
The Bengals have 12 pending unrestricted free agents.
Should the Jaguars roll the dice on LT Branden Albert?
The Titans hold the fifth overall pick due to last year’s trade with L.A.; will they trade down again?
Catching up with 90-year-old George Taliaferro, a former Colts player who also was the first African-American player ever drafted by an NFL team.
With the franchise tag window open and an apple pie still slowly cooling on the ledge, the question becomes whether any of the players who ultimately receive the one-year payday that goes along with being blocked from the open market will view it as a turd sandwich.
Guys like Kirk Cousins won’t; at $23.94 million for 2017, he’ll gladly pounce on the tender, signing it and adding the dollars to his $19.95 million from 2016. For others, it’s still not clear what they will do.
Last month, Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short suggested he’d quickly accept a one-year franchise tender from the Panthers. While that comment quickly was clarified to suggest Short won’t sign it quickly, there’s still a chance that Short will decide to take the one-year payday, attempt to negotiate a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline, and if necessary do it again in 2018.
In 2016, the Panthers shocked the NFL by rescinding the tender from cornerback Josh Norman in April, making him a free agent after the big money had flowed. Norman still got a great deal, and there’s a chance that, if the Panthers become exasperated with Short and yank the tag, he’ll reel in a big deal, too.
Signing the tender would lock the team in to more than $13 million in cash and cap dollars. If the Panthers need cap space to do other business, one way to get it would be to sign Short to a long-term deal. After the tender is signed, they can’t grab cap space by revoking the tender.
All of this assumes that the tag will indeed be applied to Short. During Super Bowl week, coach Ron Rivera suggested that the tag probably will be applied to Short.
For now, it’s too early to know whether he probably would or probably wouldn’t sign it. We’ll all definitely know at some point after the tag is applied.