Mike Florio answers questions from PFT Planet. Who would Florio take in their prime: Ray Lewis or Lawrence Taylor? Can the Ravens offense compete with the Patriots? How would Florio handle the Te’o situation?
PFT Live: Were laws broken in Te’o hoax?
With defensive back Charles Woodson returning to the Raiders, there’s a minor problem. Cornerback Tracy Porter had been assigned No. 24, the jersey number Woodson wore during his first stint with the Raiders.
The problem is expected to be solved.
In a Wednesday appearance on PFT Live, Paul Gutierrez of CSNBayArea.com expressed confidence that Woodson will get No. 24 back from Porter. And in an unverified Twitter account that appears to be legitimate, Woodson declares that he once again will be wearing No. 24.
It’s unclear what if anything Woodson has offered in order to make that happen.
For Gutierrez’s take on Woodson’s return (including video of the fans who turned out in droves to welcome him to the team’s facility), he’s the relevant slice of PFT Live.
Last week, the Vikings unveiled the design for their new stadium. Since PFT Live was on a temporary hiatus last week, we weren’t able to talk about it.
This week, we’re back, and Vikings president Mark Wilf (pictured with Vikings chairman Zygi Wilf) joined the program to talk about the new venue, which opens in 2016.
The revolutionary design creates a place that fans will want to visit, encouraging other teams building new stadiums to look for ways to create structures that have desirable and unique features, like a transparent roof that Wilf believes will become a common replacement for the more costly retractable roof.
He also touched on the expectations for the team in 2013, a year removed from an unlikely playoff appearance, and whether the Vikings will be attempting to extend coach Leslie Frazier’s contract before the 2013 season.
When NFL spokesman Greg Aiello takes issue with something we write on PFT, he calls us out via Twitter. When he doesn’t like something written by the Associated Press, Aiello breaks out the typewriter.
Aiello has written a lengthy response to a column from Jim Litke of the AP. The Litke column is, basically, a sawed-off shotgun blast of various and in spots inaccurate contentions regarding the NFL’s ongoing quest for dominance of the American sports landscape.
Litke’s cynicism is sort of cute, in that it implies he’s only realizing now that the NFL has pitched a tent at the top of the mountain and is building a moat around the perimeter. That’s what successful businesses do. They keep looking for ways to improve and to grow. The improvements are limited only by the ingenuity and drive of the business; the growth is limited only by consumer demand.
Apart from the factual errors in Litke’s column (e.g., he claims Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wants taxpayers to “foot the bill” for renovations to Sun Life Stadium, which as Aiello points out implies incorrectly that the project includes no private money), it arises from the premise that, in a capitalistic economy, it’s somehow wrong for the NFL to capitalize on its success.
At a time when strangers happily are buying up the items on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s wedding registry at Bed, Bath & Beyond, there’s nothing wrong with the NFL doing whatever the NFL can do to take advantage of the enormous power and popularity it has amassed. As long as the NFL uses that power and popularity in legal and ethical ways, the more power and popularity to it.
Still, Litke whines about the NFL rewarding cities that have contributed public funds to stadium projects with Super Bowls. Should the cities that have contributed public fund to stadium projects be excluded from hosting Super Bowls?
Litke whines about a potential three-week delay in the draft, and the “scheduling conflicts” conflicts it will potentially create with Mother’s Day and NHL and NBA playoff games. As to the former, the draft isn’t held on a Sunday. As to the latter, if consumers choose to watch and follow the NFL draft instead of hockey or basketball playoffs, why should Litke or anyone else (other than hockey and basketball owners) care?
Litke whines about the extra work that the expanded calendar will create for NFL employees. First, free agency, the Scouting Combine, and the draft will still happen, only at different times. Second, if more work truly is created, teams can hire more help or pay the current employees more money or risk having employees who don’t want to work a little harder leaving for other jobs.
Litke also whines that “many clubs are likely to cut out minicamps” if the draft is delayed, revealing that he has no understanding of how the NFL works. The coaches will ensure that every practice permitted by the labor deal is conducted. Besides, if Litke is worried about people working too hard, shouldn’t he applaud a change that results in less work for players and coaches?
With all due respect (i.e., here comes the insult), Litke just wants to whine about the NFL, and to do so he has slapped together some flimsy gripes and complaints without regard to whether they hold water.
The far better point is that, by constantly expanding and growing, the league risks saturating the marketplace, and in turn seeing its power and popularity diminish. Moreover, it’s human nature to resent (or at least to be leery of) anything that gets too big, too strong, and/or too rich.
Perhaps that mindset spawned Litke’s column. Perhaps the league is inching toward the point of diminishing returns. Even if that’s the case (and we think this could indeed happen if the NFL forces an 18-game season onto the American public), the NFL has every right to keep looking for ways to expand its influence and to enhance its balance sheet.
The NFL has plenty of flaws and problems, and it seems at times to thrive despite them. But the goal of any worthwhile business is to get bigger, and no company ever should say, “OK, that’s enough. We’re good right here.”Those that do risk not being “right here,” or anywhere else, for very long.
Last year, then-49ers quarterback Alex Smith caused a stir by pointing out that stats don’t supersede wins. While that concept isn’t controversial standing alone, Smith’s decision to point to the Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton gave it a little extra edge.
This year, Smith at least can say he’s consistent.
On Wednesday, the new Chiefs quarterback was asked about receiver Dwayne Bowe’s recent boast that he’ll lead the NFL in receiving.
“I’m not worried about that,” Smith said, via quotes distributed by the team. “I’m really trying to lead the team in wins. It would be great, but that’s such a long way off. I’m not thinking about that to be honest. Not at all. Jacksonville is the date we’re all looking at. It’s all we care about. We have a lot of practices to get ready, and we need a lot of practices to get ready for that game. We have to play a lot of catch up. We don’t have the luxury of having been together for years and been in the same system. We’re playing catch up right now. We have to make up a lot of ground.”
It’s the right attitude, and the proper urgency. Every NFL season is a separate entity, and the Chiefs are trying with a new coach, new G.M. and new quarterback to turn the page on a 2-14 season. Many assume they’ll improve; what we know for now is that, if the choice comes down to improving statistically or via victories, Smith will take the latter.
The 25-year-old Lewis started the 2012 season finale for Cleveland, completing 22-of-32 passes for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
A Duke product, Lewis entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2010 with St. Louis. After the Rams let him go in 2011, he landed with the Browns, who were then coached by Pat Shurmur, the Rams’ former offensive coordinator. Shurmur is now the Eagles’ offensive coordinator.
One-fourth of the NFL’s head coaches have salaries of more than $6 million, and coaches in professional football earn incomes that far exceed their counterparts in other pro sports.
That’s the word from Forbes, which is out with its latest ranking of the highest-paid coaches in North American professional sports. As we noted when he signed his new contract in December, Saints coach Sean Payton now makes $8 million a year, making him the highest-paid coach anywhere.
Of the nine pro coaches who make more than $6 million, eight of them are in the NFL: Payton, Patriots coach Bill Belichick ($7.5 million), Chiefs coach Andy Reid ($7.5 million), Seahawks coach Pete Carroll ($7 million), Rams coach Jeff Fisher ($7 million), Redskins coach Mike Shanahan ($7 million), Giants coach Tom Coughlin ($6.67 million) and Eagles coach Chip Kelly ($6.5 million).
Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers is the highest-paid coach outside the NFL, at $7 million a year.
Unlike players’ contracts, coaches’ contracts are usually kept private, so it’s possible that some of the reported numbers are off. But suffice to say, the coaches at the top of the NFL pay scale are doing pretty well for themselves. With Payton doing better than any of them.
Jets coach Rex Ryan says quarterback Mark Sanchez made too many mistakes at today’s Organized Team Activities, and he simply must improve.
Sanchez threw three interceptions in his 11 passes during today’s OTAs, and Ryan told reporters afterward that he considers that “unacceptable.” Ryan said Sanchez also made some good throws, but that Ryan feels the need to be candid enough to tell Sanchez when his mistakes are glaring.
“This is OTAs and things, but yeah, that’s going to be the pressure that we’re putting on him,” Ryan said. “He did a lot of great things. It’s not that you try to cover up the fact you had some bad plays — no, no, no you flat tell him. We can’t have these and all that type of stuff. He knows.”
Ryan liked the way his defense played, but he’d prefer not to see his quarterback throwing that many passes to the guys in the different colored jerseys.
“It’s a good thing defense makes the plays, but no, I’d rather him not turn the ball over once,” Ryan said. “He did a lot of great things, and then those negative things, at the end of the day, that’s what gets you beat. And so we’ve got to to do a better job of eliminating those turnovers.”
If Sanchez doesn’t do a better job of eliminating those turnovers, Geno Smith will be starting in Week One.
Rams guard Rokevious Watkins was limited to just one game in his rookie season because of an ankle injury and he won’t be playing all 16 games in his second season either.
The NFL announced that Watkins has been suspended for the first game of the 2013 season. The suspension is for a violation of the substance-abuse policy, although it is not immediately clear why Watkins was suspended for just one game when others like Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon and Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington received four-game suspensions.
Watkins played tackle at South Carolina but the Rams moved him inside to guard after selecting him in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. He started the opener at left guard, but got hurt in that game and wound up missing the rest of the year. He was the likely bet to win this summer’s competition for the same job this year, although the suspension could change things.
We’ve been reminded yet again that they don’t give out the Lombardi Trophy in May.
Even when things look great on paper, the paper yields to practicality once players start getting injured. In the case of the 49ers, the favorite target of quarterback Colin Kaepernick could now be gone for a while.
The question becomes whether the 49ers will stay in house to replace Michael Crabtree, who is expected to miss six months, or whether they will add other options to fill the void. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the 49ers had not yet contacted Randy Moss about a possible return to the team to which he publicly said farewell, after it became clear that the Niners had planned to say “ta-ta” to him.
The 49ers may now need Moss, who kept quiet about his discontent with a minimal role in 2012 until Super Bowl week. In 2013, Moss could have a more significant role, given Crabtree’s absence.
There aren’t many other options on the free-agency market. Brandon Lloyd, a fourth-round pick of the 49ers a decade ago who had 74 catches for 911 yards in 2012 with New England, is available.
It’s also possible, in theory, that the Niners will look at the trade market or, as the offseason yields to training camp and the preseason, the waiver wire. Either way, the Niners unexpectedly have lost a key piece of their puzzle, which will make it a little harder to put together a successful Super Bowl run in 2013.
Maybe the Jaguars should just draft exclusively from Rutgers, and we can cut out the middleman.
The Patriots claimed journeyman tackle Kevin Haslam off waivers.
According to Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com, that makes Haslam the eighth Rutgers player on the Patriots roster.
Rutgers barely has that many players on its own roster, but it indicates the still-growing bond between Bill Belichick and Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, who recruited or coached these Scarlet Knights.
Haslam has already played for the Jaguars, along with the Raiders and Chargers, who waived him most recently.
The Giants have signed seventh-round pick Eric Herman, an offensive guard from Ohio. The move was disclosed in the NFL’s Wednesday transaction report.
“He likes contact,” Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross said of Herman after the draft, according to the club. “He plays hard. Not the most gifted athlete, but he’s just a tough guy and he’s big. A big, smart, tough guy and we think he’ll bring a physical presence to the line.”
Herman (pictured at right with fellow rookie Justin Pugh) started 51 consecutive games for the Bobcats, according to school data. Ohio credited him with 128 pancake blocks in 2012, and he earned second-team All-Mid-American Conference honors for his play at right guard.
Charles Woodson’s return to Oakland has excited plenty of Raiders fans and it sounds like coach Dennis Allen is pretty excited about the chance to coach the team’s 1998 first-round pick.
Allen told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group that he enjoyed seeing fans lined up outside the facility waiting for confirmation that Woodson would be returning to Oakland and that he likes what Woodson brings to the table as a leader for the defense. He also sees Woodson as a player whose experience in the league can bring something of value to the offensive side of the ball as well.
It’s not a return to playing wide receiver, something did on the way to a Heisman Trophy while playing for the University of Michigan.
“You want to play this game with a swagger, with a little bit of an air of confidence,” Allen said. “Charles . . . he’s got that swagger and I think he can bring some of that to our team – not just defensively, but to the whole team in general.”
Confidence can’t take the place of a roster stuffed with talent, but it isn’t a bad thing to bring into a team trying to break a long string of years without a winning season. That streak may not end in 2013, but the Raiders obviously hope Woodson can help grow the Raiders team that finally finds itself back on happier ground come the final standings.
His ability to play the run will be key for the Panthers defense this year, and should help a group of mobile linebackers to flow more freely to the ball.
While many teams sign picks from the later rounds and work their way up, the Panthers now have deals with the first two of their five.
Welker’s new Broncos teammate Demaryius Thomas will stop by Pro Football Talk on NBCSN on Wednesday to talk about how the offense is looking now that Welker has joined the receiving corps. With Thomas, Welker and Eric Decker at the position, the Broncos are poised to be one of the league’s top offenses again this year and Erik Kuselias will ask Thomas his thoughts about the year to come.
John Mullin of CSN Chicago will also drop in to discuss former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher’s decision to retire. Mike Florio and Pete Najarian are on hand as well to hit the biggest topics of the day, including the Achilles injury suffered by 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and run down burning questions for the four teams in the AFC North.
It all gets started at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Lions running back Mikel Leshoure hasn’t had much luck staying healthy during his first two NFL seasons and number three isn’t getting off to all that promising a start.
Leshoure missed all of his rookie season because of a torn Achilles and then battled calf and ankle injuries last year. Now he’s being held out of the team drills at OTAs with an injury that the team hasn’t disclosed but obviously concerns them enough to limit Leshoure at this point.
“He’s battling some stuff,” coach Jim Schwartz said, via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. “He can do some individual stuff but he’s not ready to do any team work.”
There’s no word on when Leshoure will be ready for a full workload nor is there much indication when safety Louis Delmas will be back with the team. Delmas is rehabbing the knee injuries that have vexed him in the last two seasons away from the team, an absence that doesn’t bother Schwartz because Delmas “can’t physically do the stuff we’re doing.” The Lions obviously knew there was a chance Delmas’ knees would continue to be an issue or they wouldn’t have signed him to a deal this offseason that carries almost $2 million in per-game roster bonuses.