Mike Florio discusses Jerry Jones’ decision to take the play-calling away from Jason Garrett and hand it to Bill Callahan. Callahan, meanwhile, found himself in the news for other reasons this week, as Tim Brown made comments about him possibly sabotaging Super Bowl XXXVII.
PFT Live: Is Jones trying to get rid of Garrett?
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.
We’re getting close to the conclusion of the Mt. Rushmore nomination process, and one of the last teams on the docket will create some of the biggest headaches for folks who’ll try to decide who’s in and who’s out.
The Steelers, who won four Super Bowls in the 70s and two more in 2005 and 2008 have more than their fair share of potential nominees.
From Art Rooney to Dan Rooney to Chuck Noll to Bill Cowher to Mike Tomlin to Terry Bradshaw to Franco Harris to Lynn Swann to John Stallworth to Ben Roethlisberger to Jerome Bettis to Hines Ward to Santonio Holmes to Joe Greene to Kevin Greene to Mike Wagner to Donnie Shell to Troy Polamalu to Aaron Smith to Mike Webster to Dermontti Dawson to John Henry Johnson to Rocky Bleier to Donnie Shell to Joey Porter to Andy Russell to Jack Lambert to Jack Ham to Alan Faneca to L.C. Greenwood to Rod Woodson to Dick LeBeau to Jack Butler to Terrible Towel creator and broadcasting legend Myron Cope, it will be virtually impossible to trim the list to 12 finalists.
Completely impossible to cut it to four.
In a statement issued by the team Wednesday, Bears chairman George H. McCaskey paid public tribute to retiring middle linebacker Brian Urlacher — and painted a clear picture of what Urlacher has meant to the franchise.
Here is the text of McCaskey’s statement:
“How lucky we were that Brian Urlacher was a Chicago Bear.
“Brian announced his retirement in the same, understated way in which he carried himself at Halas Hall the last 13 years — he simply wanted to be one of the guys and play the game he loves. But his rare ability, work ethic and passion for football put him among the greats to ever play the game.
“Besides superlative play on the field, he was also the unquestioned leader in the locker room, as well as the sometimes reluctant face of the franchise. Brian is a special person who represented our team and our city with skill and humility while never seeking acclaim or recognition.
“In the pantheon of Bears, Brian has earned his place alongside Halas, Grange, Nagurski, Ditka, Payton — and yes, Bill George, Butkus and Singletary.
“We congratulate Brian on a brilliant career and he will continue to be a welcomed member of the Bears Family in retirement.”
Crabtree had his surgery today, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports.
According to multiple reports, doctors believe Crabtree will be out about six months. That would put his return in late November, around Week 12 of the regular season.
For the 49ers, losing Crabtree for that long is a major blow to the offense. Last season Crabtree was by far the 49ers’ top weapon in the passing game, with 85 catches for 1,105 yards. No one else on the 49ers had even half that many catches or receiving yards.
With Crabtree out for most of the season, the 49ers will need the newly acquired Anquan Boldin and last year’s No. 2 receiver, Mario Manningham, to step up. They’ll also need some production out of last year’s first-round draft pick, A.J. Jenkins, who did nothing as a rookie, and from this year’s fourth-round draft pick, Quinton Patton.
As a public service to any player released by the Patriots in the coming weeks, we suggest you listen to classic rock radio. Because you’re about to go from Aerosmith to Lynyrd Skynyrd quicker than you can say Two-fer Tuesday.
The Patriots cut the former seventh-rounder on April 29, after drafting a pair of receivers. He spent some time on the Eagles practice squad last year, but had re-signed with the Patriots in January.
To make room for Ebert on the roster, the Jaguars waived defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton, a seventh-round pick last year.
Tom Nalen, a center who anchored one of the best offensive lines in NFL history, has been chosen as the next member of the Broncos’ Ring of Fame.
The Broncos announced today that Nalen will be formally inducted at halftime of the September 29 game against the Eagles.
Nalen was a seventh-round draft pick of the Broncos in 1994 and went on to be a two-time first-team All-Pro and a five-time Pro Bowler. During Nalen’s 13 seasons on the Broncos’ offensive line, they had a 1,000-yard rusher 11 times.
Nalen started every game of the Broncos’ back-to-back championship seasons in 1997 and 1998, and his 188 career starts are second only to John Elway in franchise history.
Last month, the NFLPA gave Jay-Z a pass regarding his involvement in CAA’s recruitment of Giants receiver Victor Cruz, attributing any influence Jay-Z may have exercised to his longstanding friendship with Cruz (which likely didn’t date back to his days as an unknown wideout at UMass).
This month, Jay-Z has put the PA in a slightly more complex pickle.
The entertainment mogul’s 100th problem arises from a change made by the union in 2012 to the rules regarding “runners.” Essentially, the NFLPA has banned them, allowing only certified NFLPA agents to be recruit potential clients. Since Jay-Z isn’t a certified NFLPA agent, he can’t be involved in recruiting a player to sign with an agent for the purposes of handling the player’s NFL contract.
Despite the existence of a business relationship between Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and CAA, CAA wasn’t one of the agencies in the running to represent Jets quarterback Geno Smith. Instead, Roc Nation hired Kim Miale, a largely (if not completely) unknown NFLPA-certified agent, whom Smith has now hired to represent him.
She represents no active NFL players. Except for Geno Smith.
So which person did Smith really choose? Miale, or Jay-Z? Smith said that Jay-Z played “not that big of a role” in the decision, but Smith based the decision on “being in New York from a standpoint of what they can do in the city, the connections that they have, I think it’s a good move.”
So who’s the “they”? Miale, or the guy with whom Smith was hanging out last week?
In past posts, we’ve chalked up much of the complaining about Jay-Z from other agents to run-of-the-mill professional jealously. But that was before Jay-Z embarked on a strategy that seems to brazenly violate the applicable rules. Under this precedent, any actor, musician, or other celebrity can, in lieu of demonstrating the credentials to become an NFLPA-certified agent, launch a firm, hire an unknown agent, and represent players without technically “representing” them.
As one agent said in response to today’s developments, “Maybe I need to hire P. Diddy in order to get clients.”
The wiser move for Jay-Z would have been to steer Smith to another firm (like Priority Sports) for his contract, and to sign Smith for off-field endorsements. While some agents may have scoffed at the idea of letting Jay-Z essentially run the show, eventually some agent who actually has had, you know, active NFL clients would have accepted the assignment.
It’s unknown whether the NFLPA will challenge the situation. While it will be easier for Jay-Z to tiptoe around the potential recruitment issue if the players are hiring Roc Nation for off-field opportunities and CAA for their contracts, it becomes much harder to pass the smell test when the actual agent is a warm body with a license to negotiate clients, and the clients believe that they’re actually hiring Jay-Z.
When everyone else believes it, too, it becomes even more of a dilemma for the union.
The Bengals are deep enough on the defensive line they could draft a player who might need time to develop. They found that guy in Estonian discus thrower Margus Hunt, who took up football in 2009.
He’s now officially a professional football player, as according to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals signed their second-round pick today.
Hunt’s an interesting prospect, with long arms and a unique ability to block kicks (17 in college, which is a record). And because he’s surrounded by talent up front, he has time to learn more football.
The Ravens lost one player who was set to be in the mix to help them replace Dannell Ellerbe and Ray Lewis at inside linebacker when Rolando McClain retired and now they’ll have to go without another prospective replacement for the next few weeks.
Coach John Harbaugh announced Wednesday that linebacker Arthur Brown, a second-round pick out of Kansas State last month, had sports hernia surgery a couple of weeks ago. There’s generally a four-to-six week recovery period following operations of that type, which likely means that we’ve seen the last of Brown on the field until the Super Bowl champs open up training camp.
Brown, the 2012 Big 12 defensive player of the year, is still a likely bet to be in the starting lineup once the season gets underway. Jameel McClain, who is still recovering from a spinal cord contusion suffered last season, is pencilled into one starting spot while Brown’s competition — Albert McClellan, Josh Bynes and Bryan Hall — offers less upside for the defense than Brown.
McClain and Brown aren’t the only Ravens defenders limited or sidelined by injuries at this point in the offseason. Linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Lardarius Webb highlight the list of players with varying levels of concern over injuries carried over from 2012 which should mean plenty of reps in OTAs and minicamp for players further down the depth chart.