After anti-gay comments made by 49ers Chris Culliver, it’s becoming more apparent the NFL is not ready for an openly-gay player. Mike Florio also highlights the Harbaugh brothers who continue to dominate headlines, and he makes his pick for Super Bowl XLVII.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Which Harbaugh wins?
At his end of the season press conference on Monday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll defended offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s work in 2016 by saying that Bevell’s critics “don’t know what they’re talking about.”
The Seahawks offense dropped from fourth in the league in both points scored and yards gained to 18th in points and 12th in yards, but any assessment of the work done by the unit has to take into account how poor the offensive line was over the course of the season. Russell Wilson was sacked 42 times and hit 111 times while the team’s running game never found consistent success.
Fixing the problems up front would likely help create a better impression of the work done by Bevell, but Carroll cautioned against expecting the team throwing money at the problem this offseason.
“That’s not how we — ‘OK, let’s take money and put it here and all of a sudden you’re going to get better,'” Carroll said, via the Seattle Times. “You’ve got to get guys that can play worthy of it, and when they demonstrate that then they get paid. We’ve shown that we understand that and are committed to that mentality. I don’t think you can just buy your way to it. We’re not going to do that. We’re not going to go out and spend a ton of money in free agency on one guy to try to save the day. That’s now how we function at all.”
The Seahawks were very young on the offensive line and left tackle George Fant is a recent convert from basketball, so it’s not hard to see why the team would focus on developing what’s on hand than trying a spending spree. That effort could be complicated if offensive line coach Tom Cable lands the 49ers head coaching job, but, one way or another, the line has to be better for the Seahawks offense to fully take flight.
The Cowboys already have been attempting to lay the foundation to trade quarterback Tony Romo. Given the unique circumstances of his situation, however, the team should consider releasing him instead.
Don’t be surprised if Romo at some point asks to be released. A release would give him multiple flexibility for the selection of his next team, and his next team would not have its ability to put talent around him undermined by the sacrifice of draft picks or players in order to obtain Romo.
The move likewise would allow Romo to negotiate his best possible deal on the open market, in lieu of getting a middle-of-the-pack $14 million salary in 2017 under his current contract. And while Romo can negotiate a new deal to facilitate a trade, the team that acquires him may be more likely to pay more if it’s getting him without having to give up draft picks or players.
Releasing Romo also gives the Cowboys more flexibility for absorbing the $19.6 million cap hit. If he’s released with a post-June 1 designation, the Cowboys would absorb $10.7 million this year and $8.9 million in 2018.
That said, the Cowboys have the right to try to get value in return for the Romo contract, like the Packers did nine years ago after the First Annual Brett Favre Unretirement. But the circumstances were far different; Favre had been tormenting the team with his Umpteenth Annual Retirement Deliberations, and when he decided to come back, he wanted to make a beeline for an NFC North rival.
Romo is out of a job not because of anything he said or did, but because the Cowboys have found his replacement. Besides, Romo likely has no intention to play for the Giants, Eagles, or Washington. Given his close relationship with owner Jerry Jones, they surely could strike a wink-nod deal regarding the teams for which he won’t play.
So, yes, they should cut him. Whether they will or won’t is a question that will be resolved sooner than later, and it eventually will become one of the biggest questions of the offseason.
The Saints are beginning the process of filling some coaching vacancies.
According to Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate, the Saints are expected to interview former 49ers special teams coach Derius Swinton.
Swinton’s also interviewed with the Broncos. The Broncos also interviewed Greg McMahon, who was fired by the Saints this year to create the opening Swinton’s applying for.
The Saints’ special teams were a mess last year, and they brought veteran assistant Kevin O’Dea in last year as a consultant.
There are things the Seahawks need to work on controlling better, other than their injury reports.
Specifically, coach Pete Carroll said the team needed to do a better job of handling their emotions as they move forward.
“I think there was a couple outbursts that we had that we documented well, that really took us to a place we don’t want to be, we don’t want any part of it,’’ Carroll said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “The emotional side of it brought out some expressions, took us to a place that was a distraction and we had to get through and we did. . . .
“Sometimes the setbacks can allow you to grow and they did. We don’t need those distractions, it’s hard enough. It’s hard enough to get it done when everybody is in lock step and all of that.’’
In addition to defensive end Michael Bennett blowing up at a reporter, there were numerous incidents of the frustration boiling over on the field against the Falcons.
Carroll said he communicated the need to maintain a balance between intensity and distraction when he met with them one final time on Sunday, and acknowledged it’s on him to control.
“I do, because it’s important for me to tap into these guys, their emotional side, and it becomes part of their play when it fits the person and that’s how they operate,’’ he said. “But sometimes, like I said, we make mistakes. I needed to do a better job of helping them head that off. This is a game that calls for guys to play at the edge and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But I think there’s a mistake when they go too far.”
Of course, it’s also a part of who they are. You can’t collect big personalities and expect them to become docile when they get there. And they don’t want that, because aggression is part of the organizational ethos. But too often this season, those personalities became the story instead of the play on the field.
Brady’s Patriots and Rodgers’ Packers are one win away from meeting in the Super Bowl, and Brady said that for him, a Rodgers game is appointment television.
“I think he does things that no one in the league has ever done, or can do, just because of his physical ability,” Brady said on WEEI. “Some of the plays he makes are just — they’re just phenomenal. Not just the throws but the scrambles.”
Brady said he makes a point of watching the Packers, even if they’re on late and he has an early practice the next day.
“Everything really looks effortless with him, which is probably the amazing part. He’s definitely working hard, but he’s making hard look easy. It’s a very effortless style he plays with. The velocity of the ball, the placement of the ball, he’s just an incredible player. He works very hard at it, he’s a very talented player, and he’s just having an incredible season. It’s fun to watch him play I always love watching him play. Whenever he’s on, I usually stay up and watch.”
Brady may get to see Rodgers from the sideline in three weeks. A Brady vs. Rodgers Super Bowl would surely be a great game to stay up and watch.
The Ravens may be in the quarterback market this offseason.
Said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, “It doesn’t matter how close we are. Next year is different than this year. The only way we can take care of it is take care of it on the field. We can’t talk about it. Too many people around here talk too much. Everybody talks.”
The Browns have two father-son tandems on their coaching staff.
The Texans signed eight players to future contracts.
S Mike Adams could leave the Colts as a free agent.
What would hiring Chip Kelly say about where the Jaguars are going under Tom Coughlin’s leadership?
Titans coach Mike Mularkey proved some people wrong in 2016.
What changes will the Broncos make on their offensive line?
Reminiscing about Tom Cable’s days as the Raiders head coach.
The Chargers may remain on the airwaves in San Diego.
Cowboys G Ron Leary could be on his way to another team.
Looking ahead to first round possibilities for the Redskins in the draft.
What are the chances the Bears take a quarterback in the first round?
The right side of the Lions offensive line may need to be rebuilt.
The Packers have some injuries to manage heading into Sunday’s game.
A look at the Panthers’ defensive ends heading into the offseason.
Charles L. Brown Jr., the Saints’ first team doctor, died at the age of 87.
Some of the top defensive plays of the Buccaneers’ season.
Four former Cardinals players remain alive in the playoffs.
Sean McVay got the Hollywood treatment during his interview with the Rams.
The 49ers coaching search now appears to be focused on Kyle Shanahan.
Three spots where the Seahawks would like to see improvement.
They can start planning the offseason in Houston and Kansas City and Seattle and Dallas today, and those teams know where they’ll be picking in the upcoming draft.
Four more slots in the order of the annual selection meeting were filled in with this week’s losers.
The Texans will pick 25th, followed by the Seahawks, Chiefs and Cowboys.
The 29th and 30th slots will be filled in by the losers of the conference championship games.
The 2017 NFL Draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia, with the order for the first round as follows:
1. Cleveland 1-15
2. San Francisco 2-14
3 .Chicago 3-13
4. Jacksonville 3-13
5. Tennessee (from Los Angeles) 4-12
6. New York Jets 5-11
7. San Diego 5-11
8. Carolina 6-10
9. Cincinnati 6-9-1
10. Buffalo 7-9
11. New Orleans 7-9
12. Cleveland (from Philadelphia) 7-9
13. Arizona 7-8-1
t14. Indianapolis 8-8
t14. Philadelphia (from Minnesota) 8-8
16. Baltimore 8-8
17. Washington 8-7-1
18. Tennessee 9-7
19. Tampa Bay 9-7
20. Denver 9-7
21. Detroit 9-7
22. Dolphins 10-6
23. Giants 11-5
24. Raiders 12-4
25. Texans 9-7
26. Seahawks 10-5-1
27. Chiefs 12-4
28. Cowboys 13-3
Given the gloomy outlooks shared when Tony Romo got injured in the preseason and the Cowboys had to turn to a fourth-round pick as their starting quarterback, it’s hard to imagine that anyone in Dallas would have been upset about a 13-win year and an NFC East title.
It only takes one playoff loss to make those things feel insignificant, however, and a playoff loss as painful as the 34-31 one that the Cowboys suffered against the Packers last Sunday only makes it harder to think about what came before. Dak Prescott, who has come a long way since the fourth round last April, knows that it “sucks” that the Cowboys couldn’t build on their regular season success but believes that the year can still serve as a foundation for better things.
“It was a missed opportunity,” Prescott said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s obviously one because this team won’t be back together, not the same team, not the same exact men and players won’t be back together. But for the people that will for this organization, the youth in this team, it’s a building block. We’re going to get better from it. It’s going to make us better. We’ll make plenty more runs.”
Prescott’s performance in the NFC title game — 24-of-38 for 308 yards, three touchdowns and an interception along with a two-point run — is the kind of thing that fuels confidence about big runs to come, especially when he’s sharing the field with Ezekiel Elliott and a great offensive line. The team will change and they hope it will be for the better on defense, but the foundation remains strong in Dallas.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he had never heard the Georgia Dome louder than it was Saturday night.
He wants it even louder this week when the Packers roll into town for the NFC Championship Game.
Via Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Quinn said he was impressed by his fanbase after challenging them prior to the Seahawks game to be “early and loud” against the Seahawks.
“When you have a crowd like ours, for sure it’s an edge,” Quinn said. “I think anyone who was in that environment last Saturday night [knows]. I asked people, and they said ‘That’s the loudest I’ve ever heard the Dome.’ That fired me up to know we are going to bring the same energy as they are.
“That pumped me up beyond belief to hear that was as loud as they’ve ever heard it. I said, ‘All right, if that is as loud as it can get there is only one challenge out there, then.’ We hope that same comment is happening next week. Can we turn it up again?”
Of course, the Falcons have been willing to turn up the sound before, with or without fans.
They were once fined $350,000 and lost a fifth-round pick for piping fake noise into the Georgia Dome, but that was at a time when fans didn’t have all that much to cheer for.
Now that they’re playing the last game in the (I started to type venerable here as I ordinarily would for a closing building but it’s not really all that venerable) Georgia Dome, there’s not as much need.
And even if they did, they’re going to destroy the evidence and move next door soon anyway, so the world may never know.
But in the words of coach Jason Garrett yesterday, there were the beginnings of a goodbye.
Via Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, Garrett gave the clearest answer possible when asked about Romo’s future, which is not in Dallas after rookie Dak Prescott took over and led the team to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs this year.
“We certainly want the best for him,” Garrett said, “whether he is here or whether he is somewhere else.”
Garrett also talked at length about his own decision to stick with Prescott once Romo recovered from fractures in his back.
“Well, it was a challenging situation for everybody,” Garrett said. “Tony and I talked about this. He said very eloquently in his press conference [Nov. 15] that it’s a meritocracy and Dak has earned this opportunity. In my visits with Tony after that, I said, ‘I agree with you, but I actually think you’ve misused the word meritocracy,’ because if you look at what he [Romo] has done in his last  starts as a Cowboy, won  games and lost five of them. So when he had his opportunities based on the merits, there’s a compelling argument to be made that that guy should be your quarterback.
“And the thing that was challenging for him and for everybody was these decisions were independent of each other. What happened when Tony got hurt, Dak stepped in and this team got going. It went on a run, and what we needed to do was somehow, someway stay on that run. Those decisions were kind of independent of each other, because based on the merits there is a compelling argument for Tony Romo. But the team was just at a certain place and they were handling that situation so well that it was just in the best interest for us to continue down that road.”
The fact Prescott only briefly blinked made it easier for them, and Garrett never considered turning to Romo at any point after making the decision.
So now the road will turn for the 36-year-old Romo, and the Cowboys will be left in the position of hoping that their newest savior never gets hurt or struggles.
At a time when many wonder whether the NFL had been delaying the ongoing investigation regarding domestic violence claims against Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to help the team, the man at the center of the probe is agitating for a final answer.
“I do want closure,” Elliott said following Sunday’s playoff loss to the Packers, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I do. I would rather them not drag it on as long. I think if there was something to find, which there’s not, they would’ve found it by now. The police did a very thorough investigation.
“I will tell you this — it just seems like they’re dragging their feet right now. Who knows, man? I just want it to end.”
Elliott’s lawyer made similar comments in late October; nearly three months later, the matter is still pending.
While his desire for exoneration is understandable, the absence of a decision is better than an adverse decision. And an adverse decision remains entirely possible, especially in light of the news that follow-up questions have been sent by the league to Elliott.
Regardless of whether police did a “very thorough investigation,” the NFL is operating under a much lower standard of proof. Unless/until Elliott’s alleged victim recants her claims, a he said/she said remains regarding whether he assaulted her. By seeking more information from Elliott, the league hopes either to check all boxes in order to prop up the conclusion that he did not violate the personal conduct policy or to get him to lock in to a version of the events that conflicts with something she said that allows the league to resolve the dispute in her favor and, in turn, come to the conclusion that she’s telling the truth.
That’s the core of the analysis here: Do the people at 345 Park Avenue responsible for the investigation believe Elliott, or do they believe the woman accusing him of violence? Complicating the situation is a variety of business factors, including the lingering P.R. concerns arising from the perception that the league is too soft on domestic violence (as exacerbated by the bungling of the Josh Brown case) and the very real possibility that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will react much more strongly to a suspension of Elliott than Patriots owner Robert Kraft did when the league suspended quarterback Tom Brady.
It’s no easy spot for the league, which probably is one of the big reasons for the delay. The good news for Elliott is that, now that the team’s season has ended, the case can move toward a conclusion. The bad news is that he may not like how it concludes.
At least one NFL owner is willing to reduce the number of commercials on league TV broadcasts.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti says he thinks fans can get inundated with commercials, and that may be hurting the league’s TV ratings.
“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that nobody wants to see two minutes of commercials, come back, kick the ball and then go to a minute-and-a-half of commercials,” Bisciotti said last week. “I’ve thought that was absurd since I was 20 years old.”
The question is whether fewer commercials would mean less money. Bisciotti believes it would be the players, not the owners, who would have the biggest problem with that, as a reduction in revenue would result in a lowered salary cap.
“We’ve got to figure that out,” Bisciotti said. “Again, if you change that, it could mean a reduction in income, but that’s going to hit the players more significantly than it’s going to hit the owners.”
Realistically, neither the players nor the owners are going to agree to reducing commercials if it would cost them money. But perhaps reducing commercials wouldn’t actually reduce revenues because it would lead to more people watching the game, and therefore the commercials that remain would become more valuable. Or perhaps there are other ways to increase revenues during game broadcasts through sponsorships that don’t bring the game to a halt like commercial breaks do. Bisciotti’s idea deserves more thought.
The San Francisco 49ers completed a pair of interviews with members of the Seattle Seahawks front office for their general manager job on Monday.
After speaking with Trent Kirchner in the morning, the 49ers announced they interview Scott Fitterer for the opening Monday afternoon.
Kirchner and Fitterer share the title of co-director of player personnel with the Seahawks under general manager John Schneider. The pair oversees both the college and pro scouting departments of the Seahawks.
The 49ers have interviewed or scheduled interviews with 10 different executives in their search for a replacement for Trent Baalke.
The 49ers also interview Seattle assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable for their head coaching job.
With four teams left, there are four possible Super Bowl matchups. So which one would be the best?
That’s, coincidentally, the PFT Live question of the day for Tuesday.
Answer below, drop a comment, etc., etc., etc.
Guests include Tom Curran of CSN New England and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
Join us at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the simulcast starting at 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN. See you then.
After a breakout season, Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye is headed for free agency.
The former undrafted free agent had two interceptions in the playoffs and stands to make significant money from some team for 2017 and beyond, but as the Texans officially closed the book on their 2016 season he said he hopes to return.
“[Returning to the Texans would] mean a lot because it [would] show that they wanted me and saw what I did this year and there are better things that are going to happen in the future from an individual and team standpoint,” Bouye said, per the Houston Chronicle. “I’ve been through a lot here with the organization, a lot of ups and downs, and they never gave up on me. I’m appreciative of that. I’d like to be back, but we’ll see what happens.”
Bouye played in 15 games in 2016, starting 11. He posted an interception and a career-high six pass breakups.
Plenty of teams need cornerbacks, and when those teams watched Bouye in 2016 they saw an ascending player who, at a listed height of 6-foot, matches up better with big wide receivers than plenty of smaller cornerbacks do.
Before 2016 Bouye had been a part-time player who had five career starts. Now he is a player who knows he is going to be in demand — unless the Texans sign him before free agency opens in March.
“[I think I proved] that I can play, that’s the main thing,” Bouye said. “That I’m also a team player and a hard worker. I just wanted to prove to everybody that I can play. My past here, I always looked at everything from an individual standpoint. I was always playing the victim. One of the things I had to do was take a step back and realize it’s more than just me. I was doing more for the team: special teams, playing safety, dime [linebacker]. At the end of the day, the more you focus on the team, it makes you play that much harder.”