New coach Doug Marrone will try and restore the Bills back to AFC dominance, but is Ryan Fitzpatrick the right leader to take Buffalo there?
ProFootballTalk: Is Fitzpatrick the plan at QB?
The Chargers haven’t shown much interest in re-singing cornerback Quentin Jammer since he became a free agent in March, but Jammer isn’t giving up hope that the only NFL team he’s played for might still come around.
Jammer was at a charity golf tournament near San Diego this weekend and said that he would like to remain with the Chargers even though General Manager Tom Telesco has been spending the team’s money in other places this offseason. Jammer understands that the team has identified more pressing priorities, but hopes he’s somewhere on that list.
“I’d love to come back,” Jammer said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I’ve had conversations with them. I totally understood the direction they were going in. They said the door wasn’t completely closed. Hopefully, maybe down the road a little bit, the Chargers will offer me something.”
Despite his hopes, Jammer expects to wind up playing elsewhere in 2013. The Redskins hosted Jammer last month — the cornerback called it an “exciting” visit — and have been the only team strongly linked to Jammer since the start of free agency.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says his new quarterback, Carson Palmer, has played better football recently than most people think.
Arians said in an interview on ESPN that he believes Palmer had an outstanding season in Oakland in 2012, and that people who focus on the Raiders’ 4-12 record need to realize that Palmer was not the one to blame.
“What he did last year with the Raiders, in a crazy situation, I thought was very, very impressive,” Arians said.
Arians didn’t elaborate on what he thought was crazy about the Raiders over the last two years, but suffice to say he’s not the only one who viewed the Raiders that way. And Arians makes a fair point: Palmer completed 61.1 percent of his passes, threw for 4,018 yards and had 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Palmer wasn’t the reason the Raiders lost 12 games.
In Arizona, Arians thinks Palmer is going to win a lot of games.
“The biggest thing is his experience level,” Arians said. “He’s tough as nails. As good a deep ball thrower as I’ve ever seen — I mean, really accurate on the deep ball and still has it.”
And now Palmer may finally be in the right situation.
Like most young couples who are on the brink of matrimony, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and his fiancée also are engaged in a harvesting of gifts from family and friends.
And in the bizarro version of the dynamic recently experienced by Tavon Austin and Tyron Smith, Griffin has witnessed a sudden outpouring friends who don’t want him to give them something, but who want to give him something.
As revealed Sunday on Griffin’s Twitter page, fans have bought up the items from the online Bed Bath & Beyond registry of Griffin and his future wife, Rebecca Liddicoat.
Griffin’s timeline starts with an acknowledgement of the spontaneous generosity, and continues with his response to the reactions from folks who think that a multimillionaire shouldn’t be seeking or accepting gifts from fans.
In our view, people can spend their money however they choose, whether it’s buying blenders for their sports heroes or contributing to the jackpot for Powerball, which wouldn’t be nearly as successful if its name captured its essence — a tax on the poor and delusional. The poor and delusional spend lots of money on all sorts of things; if nothing else it stimulates the economy.
While neither poor nor delusional, Griffin reflects the naivete of a 23-year-old. He seemed to be genuinely excited by the unprompted generosity of strangers, and unprepared for the finger wagging from folks who believe a guy who signed a $20 million football contract and who makes millions more from off-field pursuits should be buying his own appliances.
If people want to buy stuff for Griffin or anyone else they don’t personally know, so be it. If other people want to criticize those people for making the purchases or Griffin for accepting them, they can. There’s no right or wrong, just people doing the things they’re entitled to do — whether it’s spending money on someone who essentially is a stranger or spending time worrying about what that stranger and those buying him stuff do.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s message to graduates at Suffolk University: “Be your own person. Make your own decisions. Trust your own instincts. Take risks, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail.”
It looks like former Jets G.M. Terry Bradway survived the shake-up in the front office.
It looks like the Steelers will have a competition for new punt and kick returners.
The Titans will host a 5K run ending on the 50-yard line at LP Field in August.
Running back reps are one thing to watch at Broncos OTAs.
Chris Ault’s arrival in Kansas City could mean a lot of play action on offense this season.
The Chargers website took a look back at the life of the late Chuck Muncie.
The Cowboys personnel department had to do a lot of scrambling to find veteran help because of injuries last season.
Former Giants DT Dwayne Hendricks hopes to get another shot from an NFL team.
The landscape at cornerback is wide open for the Eagles.
Bears P Adam Podelsh organized a fundraiser for a young man with cancer.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank hosted a fundraiser in Atlanta attended by President Obama.
The Buccaneers are playing in a highly pressurized NFC South.
Eric Crouch looks back at his brief time as a member of the Rams.
What will the Seahawks be missing at defensive end early in the season?
With 25 down and seven to go, the team-by-team Mt. Rushmore nomination process is rocketing toward conclusion.
For any of those you’ve missed, here’s the full list of links to the nomination pages for the teams already posted. Feel free to chime in on any, some, or all of them, if you haven’t. Or if you already have.
Over the next few days, the nominations process will conclude and the voting will start and, in two weeks, the process of unveiling each team’s Mt. Rushmore will begin, on NBC Sports Network’s Pro Football Talk.
The Ravens overhauled their defense this offseason, without being awash in salary cap room.
They did it by knowing when to let go, trading expensive-but-old Anquan Boldin, cutting Bernard Pollard and holding the door open for free agents Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed and Cary Williams.
And with more big moves on the horizon for next offseason, the Ravens are already looking ahead at another sticky cap situation.
According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens have nearly $71 million of next year’s cap committed to six players (that would be 58 percent of this year’s $123 million limit, and the cap isn’t expected to rise dramatically).
So even though they’re looking at another crop of key free agents (Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Michael Oher, Arthur Jones, Corey Graham), they’re confident about being able to keep the right parts together.
“I think the thing we want to do is just live in the moment right now,” assistant G.M. Eric DeCosta said. “Those guys are under contract. They’re all outstanding players. They’re some of the very best players at their position in the league. We just want to play this year. We’ll let those decisions wait until the future.
“We have a lot of flexibility with the cap. [Negotiator] Pat Moriarty and Ozzie do a phenomenal job of making tough decisions. We’ve made a lot of tough decisions over the last couple of years. They’re hard decisions to make. Any time you have to cut a player or let a player go in free agency because of the salary cap, it’s tough to do that.”
Having so many key players hit free agency at the same time is the bane of drafting well. But as the Ravens have shown this offseason, they’re not above letting guys walk and drafting a replacement, or plugging one in whom they drafted a year ago.
That kind of year-ahead thinking and successful drafting is the reason they won a Super Bowl, but have remained competitive for more than one season at a time.
At a time when the NFL wants to get more people from other countries interested in pro football, the best strategy could be getting more people from other countries playing pro football.
As recently explained by Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com, the NFL has seen a gradual increase in the addition of foreign players, with 10 players born outside the U.S. drafted last month. Five of them, including fifth overall pick Ziggy Ansah, were picked in the first two rounds.
Since all played college football in the U.S., it means the NFL found these players in the traditional way. At some point, the NFL could be at the front lines of searching for players beyond our borders.
“We may be at the tip of the iceberg with this,” Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff told Marvez. “Some very talented athletes from other countries as they learn our game and nuances will begin to excel more than others have in the past.
“I think we’ve become a lot more open-minded to the fact we will invite players outside of our country where there was once a stigma attached about not having a true understanding of football. We now say that while they may not have a true understanding yet, the potential athleticism and phenotype suggest there’s some serious upside.”
The goal becomes finding large men who can do what NFL players need to do, and then teaching them how to do it. “There are big, fast, strong athletes with upside to grow into NFL players,” Dimitroff said. “These guys may someday be coming in waves.”
Of course, getting more people in other countries interested in football will result in more NFL body types finding the game, instead of the game having to find them. As more foreign players make their way to America, more will become aware of the path. Also, as more NFL football is played in places other than America, more will become aware of the game.
One major step in that direction would be the recognition of football by the International Olympic Committee. Per Marvez, a ruling on the International Federation of American Football’s pending application is expected by June. Eventually, a seven-on-seven version of football could become the global version of the game.
Whether it’s seven or 11 or any other number, the more exposure the game with the uniquely shaped ball gets in other countries, the more potential NFL players can be found from other places.
Of course, those who balk at the NFL taking “our” game to other countries will surely complain about players from other countries taking NFL jobs. But the obsession with winning will take coaches and General Managers anywhere for potential players, proving once again that a system based exclusively on merit is the best way to ensure diversity and inclusion.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is reaching an age when many quarterbacks decline, but Brady believes that he’s a better passer right now than he ever has been before.
Brady told Peter King of Sports Illustrated that he’s been working on the mechanics of throwing with former Major League Baseball pitcher Tom House, and Brady believes that work has made him better at the most fundamental part of his job than he was at any other point in his career.
“Going into my 14th year, I have never had more confidence in how I am throwing the football,” Brady said. “I’ve never felt better throwing the football.”
Brady sought out House, who has worked with other quarterbacks, after Brady’s close friend and mentor Tom Martinez died last year. Brady credits Martinez and House with making him the passer he is.
“I owe so much to Tom Martinez,” Brady said. “He taught me so much about how to play the game and throw the football. He was so committed to me for so many years. I miss him every time I step on the field. I found Tom House, and really developed a rapport with him quickly. I’ve learned, and to me, the learning process is fun. The same way Tom Martinez was always there to watch and give me corrections, Tom House has told me why certain corrections need to be made.”
Brady believes he’s a better quarterback now than he was four months ago.
“When you’ve got to fit it into the tightest windows, mechanics are crucial,” Brady said. “And to me, the offseason is crucial. If you make a throw within four feet, that’s not going to be good enough. You have to make the throw within four inches of your target. That’s good enough. And that’s why the mechanics you adjust and learn in the offseason are important. You’re going to keep them during the season. Tom House, pretty soon after the season, said basically, ‘All right, Tommy. Get to work.’ That’s the one thing that helps me move forward. There’s nothing we can do about losing the championship game to the Ravens. It sucks. You move on. But, with Tom, I think I’ve learned some things this offseason that are really going to help me.”
Brady will turn 36 in August, but he’s under contract with the Patriots through 2017, and he sounds like he’s expecting to play good football for at least five more years.
If Bills quarterback EJ Manuel isn’t ready to start as of Week One, it won’t be because he doesn’t understand the offense.
Manuel told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Saturday that he has figured out the system used by coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
“The funny thing is it’s easier to learn than the offense I had at Florida State,” the 16th overall pick in the draft said, via ESPN.com. “It’s a true West Coast-type progression offense. That’s really what I wanted when I was coming through the pre-draft process. I wanted something that I could just go in and say 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, check it down and run it. That’s it, it’s that simple. I love it. . . .
“The learning curve for me is a lot shorter simply because of what I had at Florida State. [The Seminoles' offense is] more complex and a little bit harder to catch on and learn. This offense is very simple. I’ve done a great job with it.”
There’s a certain irony in Nathaniel Hackett running a simple offense, because his father, Paul, was notorious for using complex and convoluted playbooks and systems.
While the Bills don’t seem ready to thrust Manuel into the starting role, it’s hard to justify using a first-round pick on a quarterback and not using him right out of the gates. It will be even harder with Manuel making clear that he has mastered the playbook.
While it’s unclear whether it’s happening at the behest of the team or the player, Chargers rookie linebacker Manti Te’o has escaped, to date, the reach of the media assembled at the team’s offseason workouts.
Yes, the guy who sat with Jeremy Schaap and Katie Couric in the immediate aftermath of the fake-dead-girlfriend-who-turned-out-to-be-a-dude scandal in January has been ducking the media, now that he’s in the NFL and the Lennay Kukua debacle has faded considerably from view.
Matt Calkins of U-T San Diego addresses the situation, arguing that Te’o should deal with the media sooner rather than later. And Calkins is right. The interactions can be delayed, but they can’t be prevented.
Te’o has been made available to the press once, after the team’s initial rookie minicamp workout earlier this month. Since then, reporters have had no access to Te’o.
Talking to the media goes with the territory. The league wants teams and players to cooperate with the media because media coverage creates the best kind of marketing — organic and free. And the money Manti will make under his rookie deal comes in large part from the machine into which the media helps shovel coal.
If Te’o has gotten to the point where he can show up at the party commemorating a list of the world’s 100 hottest women that includes Kukua, Te’o can handle the media.
Even if he can’t, he’ll have to. Like it or not, it’s part of the price of playing pro football.
The first rookie drafted this year by the Jets was also the first rookie drafted by the Jets to hire a new agent.
Cornerback Dee Milliner, who fired Tony Fleming and Mitch Frankel last week, has hired Pat Dye and Bill Johnson, per multiple reports. The move comes at a time when quarterback Geno Smith has gone nearly three weeks without hiring a new agent.
It was believed that Milliner would hire Dye from the moment the ninth overall pick in the draft moved on from Fleming and Frankel.
Per at least one report, Milliner made the move because he wasn’t taken in the top five. A source with knowledge of the situation has told PFT that Milliner’s draft position was not the reason for the change.
It shouldn’t have been. Unlike Smith, whom at least one reporter declared to be a top-five lock in the days prior to the draft, Milliner didn’t plunge to No. 39. Instead, Milliner went in the top 10.
Given the rookie wage scale, the financial difference between No. 5 and No. 9 isn’t as sharp as it used to be. Moreover, if Milliner ends up being a great player, he’ll have more off-field earning opportunities in New York.
With a fourth arm surgery looming on Monday, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski made the decision that millions have made when choosing their pre-surgical activities.
Gronk decided not to go to Las Vegas.
Originally, he was going, on what a jet-sharing service that will get no more free publicity here called via mass emails sent Friday afternoon a “once in a lifetime opportunity to spend time with a living Patriots legend,” with four seats in the cabin of a private jet.
The jet-sharing service that will get no more free publicity here tweeted that Gronkowski canceled the trip. It’s the second smartest thing Gronkowski has done during his three years in the NFL, behind his sell-high-in-hindsight decision to sign a long-term deal after only two NFL seasons.
Gronkowski will undergo forearm surgery on Monday, and it’s regarded as probable that back surgery will occur three or four weeks from now. So there’s still time for a another pre-op jaunt to Sin City.
Regarded as this year’s possible small-school sleeper, running back Miguel Maysonet won’t end up being a steal for the Eagles.
We’ve confirmed that the Eagles will waive Maysonet, a standout at Stony Brook who signed with Philly as an undrafted free agent.
The move has sparked speculation of a possible disconnect between coach Chip Kelly and G.M. Howie Roseman, given that it’s believed Maysonet received a five-figure signing bonus to pick the Eagles. While arguably premature, there’s even more reason to keep an eye on how the Kelly-Roseman relationship unfolds.
The move also underscores the importance of offseason workouts. Despite reduced physicality and intensity under the 2011 CBA, the things a player does or doesn’t do in the early days of OTAs can prompt a coach to pull the plug on a player who presumed he’d at least get a chance to prove himself during training camp and the preseason.
For Maysonet, if it happens, it’ll happen somewhere else.
The Vikings’ attempt to re-sign cornerback Antoine Winfield to a more cap-friendly contract failed when Winfield went to Seattle, but one of the cornerbacks who remains in Minnesota doesn’t think the team will miss him too much.
“I definitely don’t see that being the case this year. We’ve got a lot of young, hungry guys. We put in a lot of extra time and we communicate very well and we spend a lot of time together bonding,” cornerback Chris Cook said, via Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com. ”I don’t think we’ll be what people think we’ll be. I think we’ll be probably, most definitely a top secondary this year.”
It’s shaping up to be a big season for Cook. The former second-round pick has shown talent over the years, but he’s only played in 22 games over his first three seasons because of injuries and a suspension in 2011 after a domestic violence arrest. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Cook has plenty of motivation to both play well and stay on the field. The Vikings’ chances of having a top secondary will be much better if the man making the prediction can do those two things.
With Xavier Rhodes coming to the team in the first round last month, the Vikings now have a pair of big corners to throw out against the likes of Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall in the NFC North. That’s brought with it talk of increased press coverage, which would give Cook plenty of chances to show he can lead the kind of secondary he thinks the Vikings have in 2013.
The Mt. Rushmore nomination process migrates to the AFC West, and starts with the two-time defending division champs in Denver.
Nominate your favorite all-time Broncos for the list of 10-12 finalists, from which four will eventually be culled.
John Elway, check.
After that, it’s not so easy. Rod Smith, Floyd Little. Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe. Randy Gradishar. Steve Atwater. Champ Bailey. Pat Bowlen.
For now, just make your nominations. The hard part for the Broncos (and plenty of other multiple Super Bowl-winning teams) comes later.