The Buccaneers have made it known they are in no hurry to extend the contract of Josh Freeman, and 2013 will be a decisive year for the fifth-year QB. Mike Florio runs down what Freeman can do to cement himself as the future in Tampa Bay and get the Bucs back to NFC dominance.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Is Freeman the future?
When the Browns cut quarterback Johnny Manziel after two years of his four-year contract and no team claimed the contract on waivers, the Browns landed on the hook for the remaining guaranteed money in his contract.
His salary of $1.169 million is fully guaranteed for 2016, along with $1.004 million of his 2017 salary. But the contract, as PFT previously has explained, contemplates the voiding of the guarantees for a variety of reasons.
One of the triggers is an NFL-imposed suspension. Which means that the Browns, if the report of a Manziel suspension is accurate, could avoid the $2.173 million in guaranteed money he’s still owed.
The biggest question in this regard relates to the impact of the team waiving him before he was suspended. For example, there’s no way that the Browns would be able to recover signing bonus money due to the suspension, given that he’s no longer on the team. Ultimately, lawyers could be tussling over whether a team can void guarantees due to a suspension occurring after the player’s contract was terminated.
Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson will have to sit out the team’s Week One game against the Bengals.
The NFL announced today that Richardson is suspended for one game for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Richardson will have to miss all practices during the first week of the season but is eligible for training camp and the preseason as normal.
Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in January in connection with an arrest last summer for driving 143 miles an hour while evading police with a 12-year-old in the car. He was not charged with child endangerment, nor was he charged with any drug offenses even though police said they smelled marijuana.
Last month, Richardson said he wasn’t sure if he would be suspended and was trying to move on. He’ll be able to move on, but only after missing Week One.
With the likelihood of the Chargers obtaining taxpayer funding for a new stadium in San Diego taking a major hit via a recent ruling of the California Supreme Court, the team’s geographic future has become even more uncertain.
With a 66.6 percent supermajority now needed to justify public money, a new stadium in San Diego becomes a virtual impossibility. So what are the other options?
First, the Chargers could exercise their right to join the Rams in Los Angeles. The Chargers, however, have questions about the economics of being the second team in the facility. Efforts currently are being made to determine the dollars and cents of sharing space with the Rams. The Chargers have until January 2017 to make a decision.
Second, they could stay at Qualcomm Stadium, where the lease runs through 2020. At that point, San Diego may ask the team to make needed repairs as part of a new lease, which could trigger an impasse.
Third, the Chargers could consider moving to Las Vegas, which has been linked to the Raiders. This would result in two franchises that not long ago were partners in an effort to move to L.A. becoming adversaries in a chase for Sin City.
Fourth, a move to the San Gabriel Valley isn’t out of the question, to Ed Roski’s long-forgotten-but-still-shovel-ready City of Industry site.
Fifth, San Antonio or Austin is an option, but the existing Texas teams would oppose a third team on their turf.
Sixth, the Chargers could move to London or Toronto or some other international market. However, that option is regarded as the least likely of the six.
However it plays out, the Chargers most likely won’t be playing in a new stadium in San Diego.
NFL suspensions routinely come down on Fridays, which I’m sure is coincidental. The Friday before a holiday weekend would be a perfect time to drop one, especially if it was a big one.
And one might be on the way, a little earlier than expected.
According to TMZ, former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel will be suspended the first four games of the coming season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The report specifies that the suspension is for substance abuse, though the league was also looking into Manziel under the personal conduct policy after his incident with his ex-girlfriend.
At the moment, it’s kind of a moot point, since Manziel is not on a roster and hasn’t shown any indication of being ready to join one.
He did vow to get “completely sober” tomorrow, though at this stage taking him at his word for anything seems ill-advised. But if he’s suspended by the league, he’d be subject to further testing and mandatory compliance with a treatment plan.
So perhaps with the NFL saying it wanted to help Manziel, getting him into the program might be the best way to guarantee he gets the help he needs, if he’s serious about making a comeback.
NFL players are off until training camp, but Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler is working. And putting his wife to work as well.
Osweiler is trying to learn the playbook so that he’ll have it down pat by the time his first training camp in Houston begins, and so he has his wife quizzing him by reading plays and then making him describe exactly what his responsibilities are.
“My wife will act as the offensive coordinator at times during the evening,” Osweiler told ESPN. “I’ll have her read the full play to me. I’ll sit there and try to picture it, spit it back out to her, make sure I’m verbalizing it the right way so that when I step into the huddle the next day in practice, things are coming out clear.”
In his new environment, Osweiler feels like the new kid in school.
“That’s the playbook, that’s getting to know your teammates. Understanding the ins and the outs and the operation and style of this building and how our strength staff operates,” he said. “It’s like the first day of school and going to a new school. Who’s going to be my new best friend? What’s our teacher like? I can’t wait to see the playground, maybe our weight room and cafeteria.”
When training camps open next month, the Texans need the new kid in school to quickly become the leader of the franchise.
Cardinals running back David Johnson showed flashes of his potential as a rookie. In 2016, his team expects a lot more. And Johnson is fine with that.
Appearing on Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Johnson made it clear that he embraces the high expectations that people like coach Bruce Arians have established for him.
“I can’t say after one year’s work that he is one of the best, but he’s got a chance to be one of the all-time best,” Arians has said.
Those high expectations were fueled in large part by Johnson’s 187-yard, three-touchdown performance in prime time against the Eagles. Entering the 2016 season as the starter, the Cardinals will be hoping for more games like that.
Regardless of how his second season goes, Johnson already achieved more than many scouts thought he would. Johnson said that, at the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine, plenty of personnel people didn’t know who the Northern Iowa product was, with some thinking based on his size that he was a linebacker.
Plenty of linebackers likely will be wishing Johnson played linebacker, and the Cardinals are undoubtedly grateful that no one else figured out who he is and what he can do before they made him a third-round pick last year.
The Saints’ wide receiver depth chart is so full of young players that the experienced veteran of the group, Brandin Cooks, is 22 years old. But Saints quarterback Drew Brees is not concerned about that.
Brees told the New Orleans Advocate that young receivers Willie Snead, Brandon Coleman and Michael Thomas are, along with Cooks, perfectly capable of picking up the Saints’ offense and playing the way the Saints need them to play.
“I am not worried about the inexperience, if you are just talking about years and games played,” Brees said. “I feel like the time on task between all of us is pretty significant when you are talking about the practice reps and the time that we spend away from this facility together. I think they’re quick studies; they’re all hard-working guys that are very smart, intelligent and hungry.”
The Saints’ passing game was good last season with Cooks and Snead as the top two wide receivers, and the addition of Thomas in the second round of the draft should help. There are questions about whether the Saints’ defense will be good enough, but Brees thinks the offense will be as good as ever.
When the Vikings were at the Scouting Combine earlier this year, General Manager Rick Spielman said that the team was using analytics to derive data beyond 40 times and bench press totals.
Spielman called it “another tool” the team could use to evaluate players and it is something that the team appears set to do more of in the future. The Vikings announced Thursday that they have promoted pro scout Scott Kuhn to the role of director of analytics.
“Scott’s aptitude to analyze the tremendous amount of data that is available to us today will be a huge benefit for all of our football operations,” Spielman said in a statement. “Scott’s work ethic and knowledge that he has demonstrated made this an easy decision to promote him to this new position.”
The Vikings also named Anne Doepner their director of football administration in the shuffling of roles in their front office ahead of the 2016 season.
Former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly was one of the most prolific scorers in his sport, even though he never won a title.
So perhaps as well as anyone, he understands how soccer star Lionel Messi feels, and wants him to know things could be much worse.
Messi couldn’t lead Argentina to a Copa America title last week, with his missed penalty kick serving as his personal Scott Norwood moment. It was his fourth loss in a championship game for his country, along with Copa America finals in 2007 and 2015 and the 2014 World Cup.
Kelly lost four Super Bowls with the Bills, so the agony of coming so close is something he knows.
“The bottom line is, you go out there, you play your heart out,” Kelly said he’d tell Messi, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. “You know you’re one person on the team of a lot. Yeah, when you’re the star, there’s the old cliche, ‘You get too much of the praise when you win, too much of the blame when you lose.’ The thing is, for me, I knew that I had teammates. We all played together. We won as a team; we lost as a team.
“For me, I don’t cry about it. Yeah, of course, I would love to have won one, two [Super Bowls]. I would have loved to win them all. It just wasn’t in the good Lord’s plans. I tried, I busted my butt. It just didn’t happen. Go out and enjoy yourself.”
Messi hinted at retiring from international competition after Sunday’s loss, something Kelly didn’t do while he was playing.
And perhaps his own battle with cancer has given Kelly a different perspective, but he’s also far enough removed from his Hall of Fame career to understand that no matter how brilliant the player, one can’t win a championship alone.
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul does more than talk about fireworks safety in his new public service announcement — he shows what can happen.
The safety PSA he made with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which debuted this morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America” can be viewed in full here.
Pierre-Paul lost a large portion of his right hand including his entire index finger last July 4th when an explosive went off in his hand before he could get rid of it.
“In a split second it blew off my whole hand,” Pierre-Paul said. “All I could do was think about my son and was I going to make it. Now I’m truly blessed to be alive. Now when I look at fireworks I think about safety.”
The image of what’s left of his hand ought to serve as a visceral reminder, especially as the nation’s amateur pyrotechnicians emerge for their biggest annual celebration.
When negotiating quarterback Andrew Luck’s deal, the Colts surely said plenty of things. Here’s one thing they didn’t say: He stunk in 2015.
“We never even suggested it as leverage,” owner Jim Irsay said Wednesday, via Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “It wasn’t, ‘Well, what about the slow start? Or what happened against Buffalo [in Week One]?’ The injuries — we didn’t go there. We went along the lines of, and I think both us realizing that we’re very blessed to have us and he’s very excited to be a Colt.”
Of course, the Colts didn’t need to tell Luck that he didn’t play well last year, even when he was healthy. Luck has freely admitted it.
Apart from that, it would have been idiotic for the Colts to quibble over past performance. Luck’s six-year, $139.125 million contract arose from the fact that Luck could have made more than $110 million over the next four years by opting to play one year at a time under the franchise tag — and from the reality that if any other team ever had a chance to pilfer Luck for a pair of first-round picks under the non-exclusive tag, at least one other team surely would have tried to do it.
Telling Luck’s agent-uncle/uncle-agent that the team that once sucked for Luck has since decided that Luck sucks would have done nothing to help get a deal done. If anything, it could have inflamed the situation, prompting Luck to opt for a one-year-at-a-time approach until he forced his way to the open market.
Which would have required the Colts to find a new quarterback. To get the next Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, the Colts would have had to once again bottom out in a year when a great quarterback was poised to emerge at the top of the draft.
The Packers declined to exercise their option for the 2017 season on 2013 first-round pick Datone Jones‘ contract, leaving Jones on track to become a free agent next offseason.
Jones’ bid for a new job will involve a new position. Jones went from playing exclusively defensive line to taking snaps standing up on the edge as a linebacker in the second half of last season and had two sacks against the Vikings in his first game in his new role. The team spent the offseason getting him more acclimated to the position, something teammate Mike Daniels calls a “natural” for Jones’ skills.
“I’m loving it,” Jones said, via the team’s website. “A situation happens like this, you can jump in there and boom — you could fill a role and play it. Now, I’m excited because I actually do get a full season to learn coverages, learn how to cover tight ends and running backs. Just rush from different angles.”
With Clay Matthews moving back outside to join Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, Jayrone Elliott and third-round pick Kyler Fackrell, Jones will have some work to do to earn a steady diet of snaps this season. If he can get those snaps and do something with them, he’ll be able to sell his versatility in his bid for a new contract next year.
Bills coach Rex Ryan and his brother-assistant Rob already had made it clear that they plan to honor the family name with the team’s performance in 2016. Following the passing of their father, Buddy, the sense of urgency has increased.
“This season means a hell of a lot to us,” Rex told Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com while driving to Kentucky for Buddy’s funeral. “Our name, our legacy, means a hell of a lot. Our dad is recognized as being one of the great defensive coaches, probably arguably the best, in the history of the game. You can’t say he’s not in the top five, certainly. And we’ve been pretty successful through the years ourselves, but nothing like we want to be. We have won five Super Bowls as a family, but we want to win our sixth at some point. And I want to win it as a head coach, because that has never been done in our family. Obviously, it’s not like these teams are going to roll down for us. We have to earn everything we get, and we’re a long-ass way away from it. It’s going to take a ton of work. But I really like my team.”
In 1985, Buddy Ryan designed and implemented a defense unlike anyone else ever has. Along the way, he did something no coach ever has done: He became a household name (at least for football fans) despite not being a head coach.
Back in the 1980s, little attention was paid on a national basis to assistant coaches. Ryan was the first one to gain widespread attention, possibly setting the stage for the media and fans to pay much closer attention to talented assistant coaches before they become head coaches.
There were reports earlier this week that presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump had lined up a trip of sports legends to speak for him at the Republican National Convention.
Perhaps he should have checked with legendary Bears coach Mike Ditka first, before reports that had the Hall of Famer alongside Mike Tyson and Bobby Knight.
“No one’s ever talked to me about it. I have no idea where it’s coming from,” Ditka told Kim Janssen of the Chicago Tribune. Later in the day, he said Trump called him, but he declined the offer to give a speech in Cleveland.
While he still supports Trump in the election, Ditka’s assessment of the party was rather, well, Ditka.
“The Republican Party has its head up its a–,” Ditka said. “If he’s the candidate, you’ve got to get behind him. It does the party no good. They’re a bunch of a–holes.”
And lest you think Ditka is just talking out of his, he said his endorsement of Trump stands.
If you want good things to happen you can vote for him, and if you don’t, you don’t,” Ditka said. “But don’t b—- about it after the fact. . . .
“America’s pretty resilient. We’ve survived the last seven years, haven’t we?”
With lines like that, it’s no wonder Trump wanted to bring Ditka on stage.
Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips lost a couple of starters from last year’s defense in free agency when defensive lineman Malik Jackson and linebacker Danny Trevathan signed with other teams.
Phillips called both of those players “key guys for us,” but didn’t sound like he’s going to spend much time lamenting their absence. During an appearance on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn, Phillips said that both players missed time here and there after getting dinged and “we did pretty well when they weren’t in there.”
Stepping in for a handful of plays or even a couple of games is different than doing it over the long haul, although Phillips could be forgiven if he’s more concerned about another potential absence. Linebacker Von Miller still has to sort out his contractual situation, a topic that the often chatty Phillips wasn’t saying much about on Wednesday.
“I coach whoever’s there, obviously,” Phillips said. “I don’t have any control over all of the other things and I really don’t know much about it. And they told me not to say anything about it anyway, so that’s my spiel.”
The Broncos have good depth at outside linebacker in Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett and Phillips has built enough effective defenses to be confident he can do it with those players. All things being equal, though, it’s hard to imagine that’s a route anyone in Denver wants to travel.