Skip to content

Ravens’ Corey Graham says Bears limited him

AP

Corey Graham signed as a free agent with the Ravens during the offseason and has played well, starting eight games at cornerback in the regular season and two more in the playoffs, and intercepting Peyton Manning twice in Baltimore’s upset at Denver. Graham says he could have played that well earlier in his career with the Bears — he just never got the chance.

According to Graham, Bears coach Lovie Smith always viewed him as a special teams player only, and wouldn’t give him a chance to play defense.

“From my rookie year, I was put in the special teams and I felt like I did well at it,” Graham told USA Today. “When they label you as a special teamer, it’s tough to get that label off of you, no matter what you do. . . . Lovie Smith, he loved what I did as a special teamer and that’s what he wanted from me, no matter what. So I could go out and practice, get six interceptions at corner, but no matter what I was going to be Corey Graham, special teamer. That’s just how it was. That’s what he wanted from me, so I went out there and tried to be the best special-teamer I could possibly be.”

Graham says teammate Brendon Ayanbadejo, who also left Chicago to sign in Baltimore, had the same experience.

“In Chicago there was no way [Ayanbadejo] was going to touch the field on defense. There’s no way,” Graham said. “Then I come here and I’m watching games and I’m seeing him out there playing and I’m like, ‘Wow, he’s getting a chance.’ And that’s all you want as a player, is a chance to play.”

Graham is getting that chance now. And making the most of it.

Permalink 18 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Home, Rumor Mill
yo

Derek Carr gets $40 million guaranteed at signing

Getty Images

The Raiders and quarterback Derek Carr have agreed to a five-year extension that is worth up to $125 million over the life of the deal.

As any longtime follower of NFL contracts is well aware, however, the details of how the deal is structured in terms of guaranteed money provides a fuller view of how much money a player will see over the life of the contract. According to multiple reports, Carr’s deal gives him $40 million in fully guaranteed money at the time of signing. There are reportedly $70 million in total guarantees, but it’s not clear how those are structured.

The $40 million at signing is less than Colts quarterback Andrew Luck received as part of the extension he signed a year ago. Luck had another $16 million guaranteed on the fifth day of this league year and the contract, which has a slightly lower annual average value, included $87 million guaranteed for injury in total.

Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Carr’s deal also includes a delayed cash flow that will enable the quarterback to take advantage of the lack of income tax in Nevada once the Raiders move to Las Vegas and should help the team find money to use on extensions for defensive end Khalil Mack and guard Gabe Jackson.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cam Newton is a great leader, unless he isn’t

Getty Images

Cam Newton makes people stupid.

And sometimes, he makes them say things which are the opposite of things they said previously.

In a classic case of late-June hot-takery, former NFL defensive lineman Booger McFarland has declared Panthers quarterback Cam Newton a phony.

“People I talk to in Carolina tell me Cam’s not a leader and not well liked by a lot of his teammates,” McFarland said, via Ross Tucker.

The cool thing about this is, a year ago, McFarland said on ESPN Radio that Newton was the “Best young leader in all of sports right now.”

So, not to pick on Booger (see what I did there?), but which is it?

Certainly circumstances and opinions can change, and McFarland can easily claim he’s learned things in the last year he didn’t know previously. And if that’s the case, then at least one of his opinions was ill-informed and irresponsible.

Now we’ll just wait to see which one he claims, which will probably depend on whether Newton plays like an MVP again.

We now return you to your regular summer programming.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Andy Dalton: Players aren’t thinking about Marvin Lewis’ contract situation

Getty Images

The Bengals have employed Marvin Lewis as their head coach since 2003 and they’ve kept him in the organization with a series of one-year extensions in recent years, but that’s not the case this time around.

Lewis is not signed beyond the 2017 season, leading some to wonder if this will be his final year on Cincinnati’s sideline if the team doesn’t make progress after going 6-9-1 last year. Quarterback Andy Dalton says the coach’s status isn’t weighing on the players as they head toward September.

“He doesn’t talk about contracts. He doesn’t talk about his situation,” Dalton said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It’s all about having a good year. So, the guys aren’t thinking about that.”

The players may not be putting particular focus on Lewis’ situation, but it’s not because they don’t like the coach. Cornerback Adam Jones and punter Kevin Huber both said they love Lewis, but pointed out that nothing about this offseason is too different from a player’s perspective.

If players don’t perform well, there’s a good chance they’ll be off the roster when the next year gets underway and that’s true whether Lewis is signed for four more years or four more months. Or, as Jones put it, “if you’re winning everything is good” and players have a lot more control over that than any decision owner Mike Brown will make if they post another losing record.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

What would Tom Brady get, if he pushed for top dollar?

Getty Images

The Derek Carr contract raises plenty of questions regarding the deals to come for plenty of quarterbacks. But not for Tom Brady.

While the Patriots could find a way to funnel some extra cash to the most underpaid player in the league as a supplement to a current agreement that runs through 2019, Brady never has (and never will) try to break the bank.

But what if he did? What if Brady opted to drive a hard bargain, grabbing every dollar he could get, whether by holding out or playing out his deal and doing the year-to-year franchise-tag game? What could he get from the Patriots, or on the open market?

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe suggested an upper limit of $40 million per during a visit to Thursday’s PFT Live. While that may be a little high, Brady would be making at least $30 million per year.

Brady’s conscious decision not to take the (justifiable) Peyton Manning approach to contract negotiations, which likely arises both from the fact that Mrs. Brady is bringing home plenty of bacon and from Brady’s reluctance to ever be the subject of a dispassionate “are we paying him more than he’s worth?” analysis from Bill Belichick, impacts other quarterbacks. If Brady consistently pressed for the most he could make, chances are that other quarterbacks would be doing better, chasing Brady’s wake to annual averages greater than the brand new high-water mark of $25 million in new money.

Regardless, Brady — and only Brady — has decided not to take full advantage of his own circumstances as a franchise quarterback. Which likely has had something to do with one or more of the five Super Bowl rings he has won, and counting.

Permalink 25 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Derek Carr pushes bar $271,000 higher

Getty Images

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is now the highest paid quarterback in league history. Sort of.

Under the so-called “new money” analysis, Carr’s five-year, $125 million extension has a value of $25 million, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. That trumps the $24.769 million new-money average received a year ago by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck by a mere $271,000.

Based on total value at signing, Luck’s deal is technically better. He inked a six-year, $140 million deal. Carr will make $126.127 million over six years. That happened because Luck did his deal after playing four years, trading in the fifth-year option of $16.155 million for his new contract. Carr, a second-round pick, received his new deal a year earlier, with only $1.127 million still due in what would have been the fourth and final year of his deal.

The basic numbers of the deal represent the starting point, not the ending point, of the analysis. Three years ago, the agents leaked (and the info robots lapped up) a load of crap regarding the Colin Kaepernick contract. Be wary of any further information about the value of the deal until the real numbers are filed with the league and the union.

The most important questions as to this specific contract will be the signing bonus, the fully guaranteed money at signing, and (since true franchise quarterbacks tend to not get cut or squeezed to take less) the cash flow on the back end of the deal. Since the contract was reported as a lump sum, it appears Carr did not come the first player to receive protection against ongoing cap spikes in the form of a set percentage of the salary cap in future years.

Also relevant to Carr will be the payments pushed to 2019, when he likely will be moving from a state with obscenely high personal income tax to Nevada, which has none.

There’s no question that Carr has received an extremely significant financial reward. The full significance as to Carr, and as to other quarterbacks who will be trying to push the $25-million-per-year-in-new-money bar even higher, remains to be seen.

Permalink 27 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Tom Brady tries some sumo training in Japan

AP

Tom Brady is known for constantly seeking new offseason training methods and this week he looked in an unusual place: A sumo stable.

Brady, who is on a promotional tour in Asia, worked out with the 355-pound sumo wrestler Goeido and asked the trainers questions about their sport, which requires a great deal of balance and power.

For them to welcome me means very much to me. It’s hard to describe in words how special that was,” Brady told the Kyodo News.

When it comes to offseason workouts, a lineman could probably benefit more from sumo training than a quarterback could, but Brady will leave no stone unturned in his quest to keep playing at a high level into his mid-40s.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Raiders and Derek Carr deal is done, per Carr himself

Getty Images

Derek Carr said we’d hear it from him first.

And now we have.

The Raiders quarterback played reporter Thursday morning, confirming via Twitter that his contract is finished.

He promised us as much yesterday, upon the reports from the insiders which declared the deal was “close.”

The deal has been pegged at $25 million per year, which would make him the highest-paid player in the league.

And when the details are known, it will surely be of interest to players such as Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins, as well as the underpaid such as Aaron Rodgers.

Permalink 23 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dirk Koetter won’t necessarily be saving a seat for Doug Martin

AP

At a time when Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has received plenty of praise for his work during the offseason, his coach has opted for pragmatism regarding the things that will, or won’t, happen when Martin returns from the final three games of his PED suspension.

Asked during an appearance on the Ira Kaufman Podcast, via JoeBucsFan.com, how Martin’s return will be handled if the Buccaneers are moving the ball well at that time.

“Well, you answered your own question,” Koetter said. “That is all hypothetical, all right? Everything — how do I know if everything is going to go that way? Hopefully, at the end of the three games Doug is still in good health. But we have no idea what is going to happen to our other tailbacks by then. So, I don’t spend too much time worrying about that kind of stuff. . . .

“How can you have too many good players? I sort of look at it as we will cross that bridge when we get to it, because, why worry about it until you have to? We have a lot of other stuff that we need to be concerned with. You know, if everything was 100 percent perfect — I don’t have experience with a guy taking three weeks off and then coming back. So, you will have practices in there and we would have to see how we are doing as an offense, how we are doing with our running game. We will just have to see.”

That’s hardly an unequivocal endorsement, and it’s hard not to wonder whether the Buccaneers, who owe Martin no guaranteed money due both to the suspension and the fact that (despite being a vested veteran) he won’t be on the Week One active roster, will consider dumping Martin if the other tailbacks on the roster are getting it done. It’s likewise impossible to rule out a trade, given that other teams may have needs at the position by the end of September, due to the inevitability of the injury bug.

Regardless, there’s a good chance that the running game will be thriving without Martin, given the extra attention defenses will be devoting to stopping one of the best collections of pass catchers in the game. Rarely if ever will the Bucs be facing eight men in the box, while will make it easier to establish the run with players who are younger and cheaper than Martin.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Alterraun Verner thinks he’ll find a team this summer

Getty Images

When last we heard about free agent cornerback Alterraun Verner, he was working out for the Jaguars in hopes of finding a home for the 2017 season.

That workout did not result in a contract and a report from Jacksonville said that Verner, who was released by the Buccaneers early in the offseason, was not in good shape when he got on the field for the Jags. That may explain why Verner is one of the few members of PFT’s Hot 100 free agents still without a team, but he said on Sirius XM NFL Radio this week that he expects that to change soon.

“I’ve worked out for a few teams including the Jaguars. I feel very confident something will happen come late summer,” Verner said.

Verner didn’t play very well in Tampa, but would give a team some experienced depth in camp this summer. That wouldn’t come with a guarantee beyond the chance to compete for a roster spot, although that’s not insignificant for a player who remains unsigned with June drawing to a close.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Roger Goodell shows his face in New England

AP

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may be the most hated man in New England, but he was able to make it through the Boston airport unscathed.

Goodell was able to walk through Logan International Airport without anyone bothering him after returning home from a trip to Israel organized by Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

The commish hasn’t attended a Patriots home game since cracking down on the team over Deflategate, and Rob Gronkowski has said that Patriots fans wouldn’t let Goodell get from the airport to Gillette Stadium.

But Goodell is expected to attend the season opener at Gillette Stadium in September, and he now knows that he can get into and out of the airport without any fanfare.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Do the Falcons have a Devonta Freeman problem?

Getty Images

When we had the opportunity last month to have a 70-minute conversation with Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff (the video is embedded in this item), one of the areas of inquiry focused on the presence of players on the roster who may have a hard time getting over the devastating manner in which Super Bowl LI ended. Dimitroff expressed confidence that they’ll have no issues in this regard.

He may want to now revisit that.

The recent appearance by running back Devonta Freeman on SiriusXM NFL Radio, some of which was chronicled a day ago in this spot, contains clear traces of Marshawn Lynch, post-Super Bowl XLIX.

Said Lynch on (where else?) Turkish TV in the aftermath of the Seattle loss to New England fueled by a fateful decision to throw a pass at the goal line: “To be honest with you, I would be a liar if I didn’t tell you that I was expecting the ball. I think it was more of a — how do I say this?  When you look at me, and you let me run that ball in, I’m the face of the nation.  You know, the MVP of the Super Bowl, that’s pretty much the face of the nation at that point in time.  I don’t know what went into that call.  Maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t get the ball.  I mean, you know, it cost us the Super Bowl.”

Said Freeman on SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier this week regarding not only the decisions to pass and not run while in field goal range and leading by eight points late but also his curious second-half disappearance from the running game, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “I hate to go there but I was supposed to be the MVP this year of the Super Bowl, but it’s all good, we got another shot. . . . I don’t want to make this no competition thing with me and my quarterback. I’m just talking about from based off that game. Let’s [say] it like this: if I would have kept getting the ball, if I would have stayed in the game, I don’t know why I got out of the game actually. But if I would have stayed in the game, I would have got MVP. I’m looking at my stats and I see my numbers didn’t lie. Look at my numbers.”

Freeman had six carries for 71 yards in the first half of Super Bowl LI. In the second half, he had five carries for four yards.

Making Freeman’s remarks even more stunning was that they came in the wake of quarterback Matt Ryan declaring that the team has put Super Bowl LI behind it.

“When we started as a team in April, we got together before that as players down in Miami,” Ryan said. “It was time to move on. It was time to look forward. Anytime that we kind of dwell on that is wasted time. We have to focus on trying to become the best football team that this group can be.”

Freeman clearly hasn’t moved on. At a time when Freeman is clamoring for a new contract, it’s hard not to wonder whether the Falcons will move on from him.

If nothing else, Freeman’s comments are a sign that, despite the proclamations of Ryan and others in the organization about everything being OK, someone needs to have a candid conversation with Freeman regarding his current attitudes and beliefs, and whether those attitudes and beliefs will impact the team in a negative way in 2017 or beyond.

Permalink 36 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Falcons expect experience to pay off in tougher defense

Getty Images

The Falcons defense didn’t wind up with impressive rankings compared to the rest of the league last season, although any hand-wringing about that was rendered fairly moot by the fact that the Falcons won the NFC.

Their chances of doing so again would be helped by a thornier unit this time around and safety Ricardo Allen points to the passage of time as a reason to expect that growth. Six of the defense’s Super Bowl starters were in their first or second season in the NFL, which Allen said left them “learning on the run” over the course of the season.

He expects that learning experience to pay off this season.

“This year, it’s more of we know what we are going to see,” Allen said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We know that we’ve seen it all. We were blessed enough to play later than a lot of people, so we’ve got a couple more games than a lot of people. It’s going to be amazing. It’s going to be really good.”

The offense, which provides a tough practice test for the defense, was really good last season and has the pieces in place for more of the same in 2017. If the defense takes the jump Allen is expecting, the Falcons’ chances will look really good as well.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Thursday morning one-liners

Getty Images

Bills CB Kevon Seymour is making a good first impression.

Dolphins G Jermon Bushrod has the support of his coaches.

The Patriots now have plenty of options at LB after signing David Harris.

Perhaps Jets fans shouldn’t worry about losing Harris to their hated rivals.

The Ravens finalized their training camp schedule.

The Bengals aren’t going to be burdened by high expectations.

Looking back at the Browns 1999 expansion draft (and wondering how different it was than last year).

Steelers T Jerald Hawkins is making up for lost time.

Taking a look at the Texans’ WR situation.

The Colts are encouraged by their WR depth.

The Jaguars are hoping to create more turnovers this year.

The Titans have become a trendy pick.

The Broncos want WR Demaryius Thomas to be more of a leader.

The Chiefs left Jeremy Maclin a voice mail telling him he was cut.

The Chargers are going to be honored at Del Mar.

Raiders OLB Khalil Mack was floored by meeting Dick Butkus.

The Cowboys’ locker room chemistry was crucial to their success last year.

Taking a look at some underdogs heading into Giants camp.

The Eagles think LB Jordan Hicks can get even better.

There will be big expectations for Washington rookie Jonathan Allen.

The Bears are putting more emphasis on creating turnovers this year.

The Lions made varying investments in their replacement OTs.

Packers LG Lane Taylor isn’t changing his preparation now.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer’s more involved with his rebuilt offensive line.

Former Falcons QB Michael Vick’s father was indicted on federal drug distribution charges.

The Panthers have a generation gap in line drills.

Voice of the Saints Jim Henderson is going into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston’s accuracy may not be as big a deal as some think.

Are Cardinals fans getting worse?

Rams G.M. Les Snead is building a quick rapport with new coach Sean McVay.

49ers SS Eric Reid is excited about his new role in coordinator Robert Saleh’s defense.

The Seahawks will have some division of labor issues at RB.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Which teams have faced ridiculously high expectations?

Getty Images

In the same way that the abrupt decision of the Jets to cut linebacker David Harris created the impression that the Jets are taking a nosedive in 2017, the abrupt decision of Harris to join the Patriots becomes a layer of icing on top of the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake in New England.

The Patriots have firmly entered “crown their ass” territory, with the coming season seemingly an exercise in watching and waiting for whether enough injuries will derail the inevitable.

So with the Patriots facing ridiculously high expectations, here’s your PFT Live question of the day: Which teams from the past have had ridiculously high expectations?

I’ve got a few ideas, but I’ll be happy to take a few of yours off your hands. Chime in below.

We’ll ponder the issue during Thursday’s show, which launches at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio and continues on NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET.

Permalink 13 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

At 83, Sonny Jurgensen will slow down but not stop

Sonny Jurgensen was a Hall of Fame quarterback whose NFL career spanned 18 seasons, and now his career calling football on the radio in Washington has doubled that length. But at age 83, Jurgensen is not ready to call it quits.

Jurgensen told the Washington Post he’ll still be calling games in Washington this season, after initially thinking he was going to retire from broadcasting.

“I had thought about hanging it up because I’d been doing it 35 years,” Jurgensen said. “I came to Florida, and I thought about it. I said, ‘I’ve got to have something to do. I was somewhat bored. So I went back to ‘em and said, ‘You know, I’m a little bored.’”

So Jurgensen, who turns 83 in August, agreed with the team that he’ll work the eight home games in Washington but not travel to any road games. Team President Bruce Allen told Jurgensen the team would let him work whatever schedule he liked.

“It’s very nice of them,” Jurgensen said. “I’m looking forward to it, I really am.”

Jurgensen was drafted by the Eagles in 1957 and was a first-team All-Pro for them in 1961. He was traded to Washington in 1964 and played there until 1974. He is in both teams’ halls of fame as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top