How can the Chargers build on their solid foundation? Mike Florio says they need to upgrade around Phillip Rivers with skill position players, and Florio also picks through the crop of free agents worthy of another deal with San Diego.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Chargers must build around Rivers?
Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo did not reach agreement on a multiyear contract with the team before July 15, which means that he’ll be playing out the 2014 season under the terms of the franchise tag.
That will pay Orakpo $11.45 million and make him a free agent again at the end of the season, leaving him well-paid for now but without much security over the long term. Orakpo said that the uncertainty about the future won’t be an issue this season.
“You can talk about contracts and this and that. Throw all that out the window, man,” Orakpo said, via the Washington Times. “I’m signed for the 2014 season. I need to go out there and make plays. I need to go out there and be a force. That’s what I’ve been working extremely hard at because this defense relies on myself to go out there and make big plays so we can get off the field. I’m not really a pressure guy.”
Orakpo doesn’t have much choice other than getting out there and being a force for the Redskins on defense this season. If he turns in a strong season coming off the edge, someone will be willing to pay him well to do it again in 2015. It may or may not be the Redskins, but that’s not worth worrying about now since nothing that can happen in terms of a contract until after the year comes to an end anyway.
He appeared in court on Monday and then was unable (due to the weather) to get back to the team on Tuesday. Now, Bills defensive lineman Marcell Dareus returned. And he celebrated not by drag racing a teammate but issuing a statement.
“After dealing with a personal matter in Alabama, I am excited to return to training camp to rejoin my teammates in our preparations for the 2014 season,” Dareus said in a quote issued by the team. “Right now, my focus is on earning the trust of my teammates, coaches and the fans while continuing to improve as a football player. I have a passion for this game and I want to be here to help this organization achieve its goals. There are things I need to work on professionally and personally to make sure I can be accountable to myself, my family, this team and this community. My focus will remain on achieving that goal one day at a time. I want to thank the Bills organization, Coach Marrone and the coaching staff, my teammates and our fans for their continued support.”
One of those one-days-at-a-time presumably will include Dareus passing the pre-camp conditioning test, which he failed when he initially arrived at camp, drawing deserved criticism for failing to keep himself in a basic level of fitness at a time when football players find a way to stay in excellent shape throughout the year.
Bengals owner Mike Brown, the son of team founder Paul Brown, has been so heavily involved in running the team that Mike Brown paid himself a $1 million General Manager bonus from 1991 through at least 2009. In the future, any such bonus could be going to someone else.
Brown tells Joe Danneman of FOX 19 that Brown no longer runs the show.
“They’re doing it now,” Brown said of his daughter, Katie Blackburn, and coach Marvin Lewis. “The ball’s been essentially handed off.”
Lewis told Danneman that Brown remains heavily involved, with Brown at the team facility “seven days a week.”
Even if Brown has handed off the ball, he deserves some of the praise for the team’s three consecutive playoff appearances. On that point, Brown opted for humility and self-deprecation.
“Do I take credit for that?” Brown said of the team’s success. “I wasn’t out there taking credit when it wasn’t going well, so maybe I ought to shut up and not take credit when it’s gone a little better.”
Even though things have improved, the Bengals still haven’t won a playoff game since the week before the January 1991 loss to the Raiders in a game far better known for a career-ending hip injury to one of the best running backs the game briefly saw. This year, the Bengals hope to finally shed what very well could be the curse of Bo Jackson.
Linebacker Justin Houston didn’t join the Chiefs for offseason work as he tried to leverage himself into a contract extension and the question of whether or not he’d report to training camp on time has been a big one in Kansas City.
It now has to make room for the question of whether or not running back Jamaal Charles will be there. Reports on Tuesday indicated that Charles will not report to camp on time in a holdout for a new deal that will pay him more money. Not everyone is convinced that Charles will be a no-show, however.
Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star reports that the Chiefs have had discussions about a new contract for Charles, who is set to make $3.9 million this year and $6 million next year under the terms of his current deal. Paylor also reports that the Chiefs “believe” Charles will report to camp with the other veterans on Wednesday whether or not they have agreed on a revised deal.
Charles’ desire for a new deal is a fairly strong one, given his importance to the Chiefs and the fact that his compensation ranks him below less effective backs as well as other members of the Chiefs offense. He’ll also be 29 when his current deal expires and that’s not a great age for a running back to sell himself on the open market.
It’s a headache the Chiefs don’t need with contract decisions to make on Houston and quarterback Alex Smith before they become free agents after the 2014 season, but one they appear to be willing to deal with if it means ensuring Charles is leading the offense again this season.
Former Buccaneers and Colts coach Tony Dungy has said that he wouldn’t draft defensive end Michael Sam. On Tuesday, Sam addressed the situation in a very pragmatic way.
“Thank God he wasn’t a St. Louis Rams coach,” Sam told reporters on Tuesday. “But I have great respect for Tony Dungy. Like everyone in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions,” Sam said.
Dungy will join The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday to discuss his remarks in further detail, supplementing Tuesday’s statement explaining his remarks to Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune. Also on the show will be the St. Louis Rams coach who welcomed the distractions that go with having an openly-gay player on the roster bubble and who may eventually conclude Sam hasn’t earned a roster spot, Jeff Fisher.
Sam already has shown he’s serious about getting one of the 53 jobs, dropping 13 pounds since the end of the offseason program in an effort to increase his speed so that he’ll be able to contribute on special teams.
“My job is to make this team, that’s my number one priority,” Sam said. ”Everything is faster and you want to make sure you are at a good weight and at good speed to compete at this level. It’s not college anymore, that’s child’s play compared to this.”
And “this” includes a high level of intensity both on the field and off the field. Especially as he continues his journey as the first openly-gay NFL player.
Chargers running back Danny Woodhead plans to stay in San Diego for at least three more years.
Woodhead and the Chargers have agreed on a two-year contract extension, which keeps him under contract through the 2016 season.
“Danny is an integral part of our offense,” said General Manager Tom Telesco. “His work ethic and on-field production were key elements last year. We look forward to having him be a part of the Chargers organization into the future.”
Woodhead initially entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Chadron State, where he was twice named the best player in Division II football. He played for the Jets from 2008 to 2010 before he was released and signed with the Patriots. In 2013 he left the Patriots to sign a two-year, $3.5 million deal with the Chargers.
In his first year in San Diego last year, Woodhead caught 76 passes for 605 yards and six touchdowns and carried 106 times for 429 yards and two touchdowns.
The Dolphins face long odds of getting to the Super Bowl.
Here’s the Patriots’ website on what to watch for at training camp.
The Jets plan to reward good fan behavior.
Ravens rookie C.J. Mosley says he’s grown a lot during his first couple months of work as a pro.
The Bengals have honored a local high school football coach.
Said Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler of rookie LB Ryan Shazier, “I don’t like to play rookies because defensive football there’s two things that can get you beat. One of them is missed tackles. The other one is mental mistakes. Normally when you try to learn this defense it’s going to take you a little while to do it. He understands concepts and picks things up a little bit easier than most rookies. I think Lawrence Timmons will help him and some of the other guys will help him learn to run this defense. We don’t have a choice whether we can play him or not. We’ve got to play him and we’ve got to be faster and we’ve got to win.”
Here’s a look at some of the Colts’ top newcomers.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan is showing off what life is like for a billionaire.
The Titans signed several free agents, but coach Ken Whisenhunt is this offseason’s most important addition.
Said Cowboys C Travis Frederick of players voluntarily taking a conditioning test, “When the coaches said we weren’t going to have a conditioning test this year, a couple of the older guys wanted to make sure we had everybody in the right shape. Sometimes if you don’t do it, you’re not in the right shape and you’re not ready to practice.”
One broadcaster describes Eagles coach Chip Kelly as “brilliant.”
Washington coach Jay Gruden still wonders if he could have made it as an NFL quarterback.
Said Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner of QB Teddy Bridgewater, “I think he probably should’ve gone in the first 10 picks. He probably should’ve gone at least in the first half of the first round, and then we’re sitting there with an opportunity to get him when we did, it was a bonus to me.”
Falcons coach Mike Smith wants his team to be bigger and stronger this year.
The Saints have signed NT Tyrone Ezell and LB Marcus Thompson.
Said Rams OL Demetrius Rhaney, who was taken the pick after Michael Sam, of whether his high-profile teammate is a distraction, “He’s a football player, he’s not a bother. He’s laid-back, funny, jokes a lot. Pretty good.”
The Seahawks are at the top of PFT’s preseason power rankings, as well as some less important power rankings.
Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is stepping away from the organization to deal with Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, the 70-year-old Bowlen is relinquishing control of the Broncos to team president Joe Ellis so he can focus on his health.
“It’s a really, really sad day,” Ellis told the Denver Post. “It’s sad for his family, his wife and his seven children. It’s sad for everyone in the organization. And it’s sad for all the Bronco fans who know what Pat Bowlen meant to them as an owner. It’s a day nobody wanted to see happen.”
Bowlen took a step back from the daily aspects of running the franchise in 2011 with Ellis taking over much of the workload. Per Klis, Bowlen said he was having issues with short-term memory loss as early as May 2009. The issues progressed with Bowlen revealing it had developed into Alzheimer’s on Tuesday.
Bowlen has owned the Broncos for the past 30 years and guided the franchise to six Super Bowl appearances and two titles during his tenure. The team will not be for sale and control of the franchise now belongs to the Pat Bowlen Trust. Bowlen’s intention is to keep ownership in the family.
Safety Antrel Rolle won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2011 and appeared in another Super Bowl with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008.
However, Rolle believes the current iteration of the Giants may be the most talented team he’s been a part of in his 10 seasons in the NFL.
According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, Rolle is bullish on the team’s chances this season.
“Absolutely. I think this is one of the most talented teams I have ever been on, if not the most talented,’’ Rolle said.
“It’s almost to a point where you have to hold yourself back — it’s just the first day of training camp. All of the guys are excited, and we’re trying to get out there and see what we can put together. It’s going to be a very special group we have here.’’
The Giants missed the playoffs for the second straight year in 2013. But after an 0-6 start to the season, the Giants did rally to win seven of their final 10 games with their defense ranking eighth in the league at season’s end.
Rolle was excited by the additions the Giants made to the roster this offseason. Head coach Tom Coughlin hopes the changes on offense can help rejuvenate Eli Manning and spark a unit that flailed frequently last year.
Only time will tell if Rolle’s optimism about the Giants potential is well-founded.
Robert Newhouse, a running back and fullback for the Cowboys from 1972 through 1983, died Tuesday after a bout with heart disease, multiple media outlets reported Tuesday.
A second-round pick out of Houston, Newhouse rushed for 4,784 yards and 29 touchdowns in his 12 seasons with Dallas. He started in three Super Bowls for the Cowboys, and he capped the club’s 27-10 victory vs. Denver in Super Bowl XII with a 29-yard fourth-quarter TD pass to Golden Richards.
“House was a great football player,” Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach said of Newhouse, according to Fox 4 in Dallas-Fort Worth. “Off the field, he was a great man, kind and caring, solid as a rock.”
According to published reports, Newhouse is survived by his wife and four children.
Relegated to spectator duty throughout offseason workouts, Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones is getting closer to full strength.
According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, head coach Mike Smith said Jones has been cleared to practice ahead of the start of training camp on Friday.
However, Jones will be eased back into full duty.
“He will be limited in terms of his snaps,” Smith said. “Our number one goal is to make sure that we’ve got everybody as healthy as we possibly can be, but we know that we have to get these guys some work together and reps. Julio will be out there participating in practice right from the start.”
Jones appeared in just five games for Atlanta last year before a broken bone in his right foot ended his season. Jones had put together an explosive start to the seasons with 41 catches for 580 yards and two touchdowns before the injury. The 41 grabs were already more than halfway to his career-high of 79 catches in 2012.
The Texans have re-signed rookie tight end Chris Coyle, the club announced Tuesday.
Coyle (6-4, 243) signed with Houston as an undrafted free agent on May 16, but the club waived the Arizona State product a little more than a month later. He garnered first-team All-Pac-12 honors as a senior in 2013, catching 29 passes for 423 yards and five touchdowns.
In other roster moves Tuesday, the Texans waived fullback Brad Smelley and defensive end Tim Jackson. According to the NFL’s transactions, Jackson was waived with the “failure to disclose physical condition” designation.
The Texans have 30 rookies on their roster. The club has two open roster spots.
In a surprise move, one of the NFL’s best players has reportedly decided not to report to training camp.
Charles still has two more years left on his contract and is due $3.9 million this year. He’s correct if he thinks he’s a lot better than a lot of players who are making more money than him, but the Chiefs may feel that they have no reason to give more money to a player who is under contract through 2015.
If Charles is serious about making his holdout a long one, that would be very bad news for the Chiefs: Charles led the team last year not just in rushing with 259 carries for 1,287 yards, but also in receiving with 70 catches for 693 yards. There may not be any non-quarterback in the league who is more important to his team’s offense than Charles.
Jaguars second-year wide receiver Ace Sanders disclosed Tuesday that he’s in line for a four-game NFL suspension.
Sanders, whom the Jaguars placed on the non-football illness list Tuesday, said he will not participate in training camp and will seek counseling, according to a team-issued transcript of his remarks to reporters.
“I’ve made some mistakes that I do regret, that I do honestly regret,” Sanders said, according to the club. “I could have handled situations a little differently. I’m still just dealing with it. I’m trying to be a better person and a better teammate for everybody and everybody around me.
“I decided to go seek that help, get that attention that I need, hopefully somebody can help me out and I should be okay. I should be fine. I just want to get better and come back and be ready to play.”
Sanders was second on the Jaguars in receptions (51) as a rookie. The Jaguars drafted wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in May, and the club also returns leading receiver Cecil Shorts III (68 catches, 777 yards, three TDs in 2013). However, this is another setback for a receiving corps already without 2012 first-round pick Justin Blackmon, who’s serving a substance-abuse suspension handed down last fall.
Sanders said he would not appeal a suspension. He also declined to disclose the nature of the NFL violation.
“I have some personal issues that I am dealing with,” Sanders said. “I’m trying to get everything straightened out. It’s been really tough. It’s been a tough road for me the past couple of months.”
In opening his remarks, Sanders publicly apologized to the organization and fans. He also said he was heartened by the support of the team during this tough time, including that of his fellow receivers.
“That room is just like a brotherhood. They rallied behind me and told me that they were sending prayers and to just do what I have to do to get back and that when I get back that we’ll just play ball like we’ve been playing,” Sanders said. “It just made me feel loved and feel good inside to know that they still have my best interest whether I’m out there with them or trying to get myself together.”
PFT wrapped up our 2014 preseason power rankings Tuesday by unveiling our top-ranked team, the defending-champion Seattle Seahawks.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the top two teams are out of the same division, with the San Francisco 49ers — NFC West and NFC runners-up a season ago — taking the No. 2 spot.
With the ultratough West in mind — what a challenging draw for the Cardinals and Rams — here’s a division-by-division look at the power rankings. Teams are ordered within their divisions by their overall ranking:
4. New England Patriots. (AFC rank: 2.)
19. New York Jets. (AFC rank: 9.)
28. Buffalo Bills. (AFC rank: 12.)
31. Miami Dolphins. (AFC rank: 15.)
7. Baltimore Ravens. (AFC rank: 3.)
9. Cincinnati Bengals. (AFC rank: 5.)
15. Pittsburgh Steelers. (AFC rank: 6.)
22. Cleveland Browns. (AFC rank: 10.)
8. Indianapolis Colts. (AFC rank: 4.)
25. Houston Texans. (AFC rank: 11.)
29. Jacksonville Jaguars. (AFC rank: 13.)
30. Tennessee Titans. (AFC rank: 14.)
3. Denver Broncos. (AFC rank: 1.)
16. San Diego Chargers. (AFC rank: 7.)
17. Kansas City Chiefs. (AFC rank: 8.)
32. Oakland Raiders. (AFC rank: 16.)
13. Philadelphia Eagles. (NFC rank: 8.)
18. New York Giants. (NFC rank: 10.)
23. Washington Redskins. (NFC rank: 13.)
24. Dallas Cowboys. (NFC rank: 14.)
5. Green Bay Packers. (NFC rank: 3.)
12. Chicago Bears. (NFC rank: 7.)
21. Detroit Lions. (NFC rank: 12.)
27. Minnesota Vikings. (NFC rank: 16.)
6. New Orleans Saints. (NFC rank: 4.)
10. Carolina Panthers. (NFC rank: 5.)
14. Atlanta Falcons. (NFC rank: 9.)
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (NFC rank: 15.)
1. Seattle Seahawks (NFC rank: 1.)
2. San Francisco 49ers. (NFC rank: 2.)
11. Arizona Cardinals. (NFC rank: 6.)
20. St. Louis Rams. (NFC rank: 11.)