ProFootballTalk: If the game is close, who has the edge?
The Texans have moved deliberately in the case of defensive tackle Brandon Ivory, announcing that they were aware of his arrest for first degree burglary for a home invasion involving an assault rifle and a knife, but not much else.
But the agent for the undrafted rookie maintains this is all a big misunderstanding.
“I spoke to Brandon he is not guilty and his name will be cleared of all charges,” Ivory’s agent Jeff Guerriero told Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com.
Of course, that’s what an agent says.
And even though this is America, with that whole pesky “innocent until proven guilty” thing, that’s not necessarily enough to keep a player employed unless he’s a star.
Ivory is not one, signed as an undrafted rookie this year, a two-year starter at Alabama. He’s also the first Texans player arrested since 2009, so they don’t have a lot of recent precedent to work with here.
Plus, the arrest report said Ivory and another man kicked in the back door of a residence, one with an assault rifle and one with a knife, and stole money and two iPads. The image of an armed invader alone would be enough for many teams to walk away from a player they don’t have much time or money invested in.
Especially a team which will be inviting around-the-clock television cameras into its training camp soon.
Jets quarterback Geno Smith needs to do everything right if he’s going to keep his precarious hold on the team’s quarterback job. One thing he’s doing right this month is leading workouts with the team’s wide receivers, tight ends and running backs.
“Yes, we will all be getting together,’’ Smith told the New York Post. “It’s about a month from us reporting for camp, so it’s very important for us to continue to build on what we ended with back in minicamp.’’
The workouts are reminiscent of the “Jets West” camp that Mark Sanchez had in California during each year of his tenure as the team’s starter. Except that these will be in Chicago, so that Jets receiver Brandon Marshall can be close to his family, making these workouts more like Jets Midwest.
“I’ll probably be the only [quarterback] there,’’ Smith said. “It’s welcome to anyone who wants to come.It’s not like I’m barring them from coming. If they want to they can be there too.’’
Smith knows that there are no promises of him keeping the starting job, but he says he’s not nervous heading into the season.
“I don’t feel any pressure,’’ he said. “The key thing is going into camp, I’m going in with the right mind-set. I feel like we’ve got a lot of room for improvement, but I love the way we’re working and competing. To have guys around me that are so, so good, it takes all the pressure off of me. I’m in competition with myself to try and be perfect. I’m in competition with Ryan. I’m in competition with Bryce. All the guys out there, the defense. I’m in competition with the guys on offense. We all want to try to perfect our game and we’re all gonna set the standard high and try to hold each other accountable.’’
Whether Smith can keep his job remains to be seen, but he’s saying, and doing, the right things in the offseason.
If you work as a tax manager, the San Diego Chargers could use your services.
Just be aware that the “San Diego” part of that proposal could very well be temporary.
The Chargers currently have posted a job listing on the NFL’s job board seeking a tax manager that will be responsible for handling the “managing of tax reporting and compliance within the organization.” Listed under the requirements of the job, the posting states that the applicant must be willing “to relocate to the Los Angeles area, if necessary.”
The Chargers have been leading the charge of NFL teams interested in moving to Los Angeles. The team has reached a stalemate with the city of San Diego on plans for a new stadium and clearly don’t feel discussions will lead to a new venue.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos, along with Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, spent Tuesday meeting with Los Angeles officially as the team’s eye a joint move into a new stadium in Carson, Calif.
The Chargers are clearly planning for a future in the L.A. area. If you want to work for the team as a tax manager, you’d better be comfortable with that reality.
In addition to the two reasons mentioned earlier on Wednesday for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to do a new deal by September, there’s a third potential benefit: Ending the potential distraction coming from his unsettled status.
It’s only July, and his situation has become a huge story, with multiple members of the media convinced that Wilson could be (not will be, could be) the first healthy franchise quarterback to change teams due to the inability to work out a new contract. Absent a contract that keeps Wilson from becoming a potential free agent in March, his status will continue to be a top story in the NFL and a constant source of reports and opinion and speculation about the Seahawks, threatening to turn upside down a locker room that already has more than a few players who resent Russell Wilson.
The guy guiding Wilson through the process is agent Mark Rodgers. A former football agent who focused on baseball and has now returned to football because one of his baseball clients is pretty damn good at the other game, Rodgers became the sole agent for Wilson after Wilson parted ways with Bus Cook last year. Some league insiders believe that, if Cook were still working for Wilson, a deal with the Seahawks already would be done. With Rodgers advising Wilson, it’s unclear when it will be resolved.
The Seahawks seem to be leery of Rodgers because there’s no broader working relationship with him, and because his approach to the negotiations has to date been unconventional, including that 16-page position statement sent to the Seahawks. That’s fitting because Wilson is an non-traditional franchise quarterback — a guy who wins without huge passing numbers.
“With Russell, he’s unique, so let the debate begin,” Rodgers told TCPalm.com. “He’s unconventional in size. People argue that he’s a game manager or say it’s the defense or Marshawn Lynch — or all of the above. I listen and take all that into account. At the end of the day, it’s about winning and what he’s asked to do and he does it very, very well.”
And that seems to be the focal point of the argument in favor of paying Wilson. Despite the absence of huge passing numbers, he wins football games.
“I don’t have to argue statistics with the Seattle Seahawks on the value of Russell Wilson,” Rodgers said. “In football, the most important stat to me has always been ‘Does he win?’ It’s hard to argue that Russell Wilson doesn’t win.”
He absolutely does win. But the question is whether he’ll still win if he accounts for a much larger piece of the total salary cap, which necessarily will leave less money behind for compensation other key players who also can answer the operative “does he win?” question in the affirmative.
At some point, Wilson will be making so much that it will be hard for him to win. The ability of the Seahawks and Rodgers to strike the right balance will directly influence their ability to keep Wilson in Seattle. If Wilson decides he simply wants to maximize his earning potential, the only way he’ll do that is by jumping to a team desperate for a franchise quarterback.
Despite the apparent willingness of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to play in 2015 for $1.5 million and to change teams if need be in 2016, signing a contract before the regular season begins carries a pair of significant benefits for Wilson.
First, and as previously mentioned, signing a contract before the 2015 season shifts the injury risk away from Wilson. Absent a new deal, Wilson will be in jeopardy of not only a career-ending injury (for which he obviously has insurance) but also a career-altering injury, which would allow him to keep playing but make him far less desirable financially.
At some point between now and the first week of the regular season, the Seahawks undoubtedly will offer something to Wilson that will be lower than what he’d like to have, but that also would be dramatically more than anything he’s ever made playing football. And then he’ll have to decide whether to continue to assume the injury risk for only $1.5 million — or to accept the offer and the immense financial security that goes with it.
There’s a chance Wilson’s extreme confidence will cause him to bet on himself, refusing a great-but-not-top-of-the-market offer, believing that he won’t suffer a serious injury, and pushing the negotiations toward a potential February clusterfudge for the Seahawks, with Wilson’s price tag shooting through the roof and applying the exclusive version of the franchise tag and trading Wilson becoming a viable option for the Seahawks.
Second, and as mentioned on Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio by Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com, doing a deal now gives Wilson a large amount of money that otherwise will forever disappear.
A long-term deal averaging a legitimate $20 million per year gives Wilson $18.5 million more this year than he otherwise will make. On a five-year deal, for example, that approach simulates Wilson playing for $1.5 million in 2015 and $24.625 million per year in each of the next four.
That’s what a five-year, $100 million deal can do. And agent Mark Rodgers can sell it as a four-year, $98.5 million extension. The new-money average of $24.625 million would surpass Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his $22 million annually, making Russell Wilson the highest-paid player in the league by $2.4625 million per year.
It would be a win for both sides, and it would hinge entirely on Wilson ripping up the last year of his rookie deal instead of swapping it for the kind of leverage that would get him a lot more than $98.5 million from 2016 through 2019.
Bottom line? If Wilson doesn’t accept whatever the Seahawks put on the table before Week One, the stage will be set for Wilson getting much more than $25 million per year by next season, from the Seahawks or someone else.
When word emerged that Texans defensive lineman Brandon Ivory faces a charge of first-degree burglary, it seemed likely that the Texans would quickly dump the undrafted rookie. So far, the Texans haven’t.
“The Houston Texans are aware of the police report regarding DT Brandon Ivory in Tuscaloosa, Ala.,” the Texans said in a statement. “At this time, we will have no further comment until we gather all of the relevant facts.”
They’ll likely be gathering the relevant facts quickly. Training camp opens soon, and HBO camera and microphones will be present. Unless the Texans concluded during the offseason program that Ivory is poised to become a star player, it will be a surprise if Ivory is.
Apart from the P.R. consequences of having on the roster a player accused of an armed home invasion, keeping Ivory around could mean paying him while he’s on mandatory leave pending the resolution of the charges.
In March, the Buccaneers released linebacker Brandon Magee. The next day, he reported for Red Sox training camp.
The offseason program came and went without any team offering Magee an NFL job. In the interim, Magee has kept playing baseball — continuing with Boston’s Class A affiliate, the Lowell Spinners.
Bating .250 through seven games, Magee took a few minutes before his team’s latest game to visit with PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. And Magee made it clear that, if/when an NFL team would offer Magee a roster spot, he’d give up baseball in an instant.
On one hand, the fact that Magee (who has played for the Browns and Bucs) doesn’t have one of 90 roster spots is a red flag. On the other hand, once training camps open and players start going full speed in pads, injuries will happen. It could just be a matter of time before Magee gets another chance to return to pro football.
The low-water mark of the NFL offseason news cycle was filled in part by a cannonball from former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, via an awkward interview with Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio. The interview also provided plenty of free P.R. for both participants in the clumsy back-and-forth for which most people are blaming Harbaugh.
Harbaugh has now accepted the blame. But only so much of it.
“In my experience of participating in interviews, I’ve found it takes 2 to produce a clunker!” Harbaugh said on Twitter. “I’ll take 50% responsibility 4 this clunker.”
That leaves 50 percent of the responsibility for Cowherd. Some may say that’s too much for Cowherd. Others would say it’s not enough.
Ultimately, the onus is on the interviewer to draw out the person being interviewed. Cowherd erred by leading with his chin, asking Harbaugh when he’s at his “least intense” and that if he ever says to himself, “‘Oh, man, I’m cupcake. I’m soft. I’m easygoing.’ When’s the part of the day when you’re a pushover?'”
But Harbaugh isn’t new at this. He has been interviewed by many different people over the years, in many different settings. He had a chance to present himself in a certain way, and he ended up presenting himself in a certain other way, thanks to an overriding desire to compete in each and every situation.
On one hand, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. On the other hand, any elite high-school football players or their parents who heard Harbaugh may be less inclined to choose Michigan after hearing the interview. Chances are they won’t be more inclined.
A bid by former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez to have his conviction on a first-degree murder charge in the death of Odin Lloyd has been denied in Massachusetts.
Hernandez’s attorneys filed motions asking Bristol County Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh to set aside the jury’s verdict and find Hernandez not guilty of murder and one of the gun charges he was also convicted of in April because the state “utterly failed” to prove its case. Garsh didn’t agree with their argument.
“Considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the court finds that a rational jury could find that the Commonwealth proved every essential element of the crimes charged in counts 1 and 2 beyond a reasonable doubt,” Garsh wrote, via the Hartford Courant.
The defense attorneys also asked Garsh to reduce the first-degree murder charge because the crime did not “deviate in any drastic sense” from those resulting in second-degree murder charges. That request was also denied, but Hernandez can still pursue an appeal while also preparing for a December trial on charges that he murdered two other men in July 2012.
Emmitt Smith is the latest person to distance himself from Donald Trump.
Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, was scheduled to be a judge in this year’s Miss USA pageant. But that pageant is owned by Donald Trump, who has stirred controversy since making negative comments about Mexicans while announcing that he is running for president.
As a result, NBC has announced it will not televise the pageant, and Smith (whose wife was first runner-up at the 1994 Miss USA pageant) has decided not to participate.
“In light of Mr. Trump’s statements and the subsequent decisions made by NBC, I have decided not to participate as a judge in the 2015 Miss USA pageant,” Smith wrote on Twitter. “Knowing firsthand through my wife, Pat Smith, how much the women prepare for this event, I continue to send my support and best wishes to everyone competing this year.”
This year’s Miss USA, which is scheduled to take place on July 12, is without a TV home.
This is how to not make a good impression in the month off before training camp.
Ivory, who went to Alabama, was arrested in Tuscaloosa this morning. According to the police report, he and another man broke into a residence by kicking in the back door, one carrying an assault rife. After assaulting one person, they took cash and two iPads before fleeing in a 2003 Toyota Corolla.
He was signed as an undrafted rookie this year.
And because he occupies one of the lowest rungs on the organizational ladder, it’s easy to imagine his stint with the team might not be a long one.
With free-agent defensive back C.J. Spillman now officially charged with sexual assault, he’ll likely remain a free agent indefinitely. The lawyer for Spillman’s alleged victim believes he should have been taken off the field months ago.
“Despite this sexual assault allegation for which Mr. Spillman is now indicted and another allegation of sexual assault made to the police in California by another alleged victim prior to the Texas sexual assault allegation made to the police, the NFL continued to allow Mr. Spillman to play with the Dallas Cowboys,” attorney Gloria Allred said in a statement, via Michael O’Keeffe of the New York Daily News.
In her statement, Allred says that the victim reported the alleged sexual assault the day after Commissioner Roger Goodell’s September 2014 press conference regarding the issue of domestic violence. Allred also says she notified the NFL of the allegation on September 26, 2014 and that she spent “countless hours” with NFL investigators who were exploring the allegations regarding Spillman.
“[T]he NFL appeared to do nothing and never informed me that they would take any action or impose any discipline at all against Mr. Spillman,” Allred said. “I am very happy that the criminal justice system will now try to move forward to prosecute Mr. Spillman but it is shameful that the NFL has taken no meaningful action in the interim.
“Their face-saving P.R. campaign which, in my opinion, was designed to make them appear to be sympathetic to victims of sexual assault or domestic violence is now revealed for what it really was, a sham and a slick P.R. trick, because their words did not match their deeds in this case.”
The Cowboys handled the Spillman case by pointing to the fact that he hadn’t been charged. Of course, that didn’t stop the NFL from conducting its own investigation and coming to its own conclusion. While the Spillman situation arose before the NFL finalized a new Personal Conduct Policy that contemplates an investigative process that will unfold regardless of the justice system, it also happened in the immediate aftermath of the Ray Rice debacle.
With separate situations involving Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy in full boil at the time, the NFL likely glossed over Spillman’s case because of the player’s low profile. If Spillman had been a star, the league would have been forced to deal with the situation.
Which underscores the notion that the league’s entire strategy regarding off-field misconduct arises not necessarily from doing the right thing but from doing the thing that keeps the NFL from absorbing widespread criticism and alienating customers. Otherwise, the NFL and the Cowboys would have moved much more swiftly to deal with Spillman regarding an incident that allegedly occurred at the team’s hotel.
It didn’t take long for ESPN to deny the report that it wants Keith Olbermann to tone down his criticism of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Responding to a report from the Hollywood Reporter that ESPN wants to put a clause in Olbermann’s next contract prohibiting him from commentaries critical of the league or its commissioner, ESPN released a statement saying that simply isn’t the case.
“Keith Olbermann has never been told any topic is off limits for his commentary nor has continuation of it been part of any conversation about his future at the company,” ESPN’s statement said.
Olbermann, who returned to ESPN two years ago with a daily show on ESPN2, has been highly critical of Goodell, saying that he should have lost his job in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence case.
Clemson tackle Isaiah Battle is the only player from an FBS program in next week’s supplemental draft and he’s thought to have the best chance of any player in the pool to become the first player to enter the league this way since the Browns took wide receiver Josh Gordon in 2012.
Teams interested in taking Battle off the board will get a chance to watch him work out a couple of days before the July 9 draft. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports Battle will hold a pro day workout on Tuesday, July 7. Any team that takes Battle will surrender their pick from the same round in the 2016 draft.
Battle said that he’s leaving Clemson now because he has “some family matters to address,” including the birth of a child this summer, but he also had a string of disciplinary issues while at the school that helped hasten his move to the professional ranks.
Battle started 11 games at left tackle during the 2014 season and, at 6-7, has the kind of size that teams like although he probably needs to bulk up from 275 pounds before he’ll be a contender to play the position in the NFL.
There’s long been a perception in sports media circles that when the NFL tells ESPN to jump, ESPN asks, How high? Whether it’s the cancellation of Playmakers, the shunning of League of Denial or the suspension of Bill Simmons, ESPN seems eager to please the NFL, which provides ESPN with its most popular programming.
So today’s story from the Hollywood Reporter about ESPN’s negotiations with Keith Olbermann will be closely scrutinized within the sports media. According to the report, ESPN has told Olbermann that if his contract is going to be extended, the network wants Olbermann to stop engaging in commentary.
And that request is the result of the fact that Olbermann’s commentaries regularly rip the NFL in general and Commissioner Roger Goodell in particular. Olbermann called for Goodell to lose his job over his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, and Olbermann has regularly been a thorn in Goodell’s side.
The report says that ESPN remains sensitive about its relationship with the NFL, and that multiple sources within ESPN believe that the NFL gave ESPN a weak slate of Monday Night Football games this year as “payback for Simmons and Olbermann.” It seems unlikely that the NFL would cut off its nose to spite its face like that, but some folks at ESPN apparently believe that’s exactly what happened.
Olbermann’s contract with ESPN expires next month. With his longtime interest in politics, he may be looking to leave for a news channel where he can comment freely on next year’s presidential election. Especially if ESPN is telling him that he needs to muzzle his critiques of Goodell.