After the lockout, DeAngelo Williams cashed in on $20 million guaranteed from the Panthers, but after streaky production, is it time Carolina moves on from him and Jonathan Stewart? Mike Florio analyzes their RB situation and the rest of Carolina’s off-season needs.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Will Carolina start from scratch at RB?
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton walked into an interview room Friday, and after hobbling through training camp last year, that was an achievement in itself.
Because even though his year began with ankle surgery and nearly ended with a car accident which left him with two broken bones in his back, Newton led his team to a second straight division title and playoff appearance, and then a new $100 million contract.
So why not smile?
“I had a person ask me if this was the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. I don’t want to say that, but this is probably the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Newton said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “That’s saying a lot. Waking up and being able to run and not limp, and an obvious limp, too.”
In addition to the contract, Newton’s offseason has been a busy one, from a trip to Australia (where he played some of the local football) to running around in a flag football tournament. And while there was some criticism of him taking what could be perceived as chances, Newton shrugged it off.
“Walking down the street you could get hit by a car, you know what I’m saying?” he said. “‘Cam playing flag football. Oh my God, he can do something!’ ‘Oh my, look at him pulverize people! Cam’s driving fast, slow down! He’s driving again!’ You know it’s always something, but that’s just the life we live. . . .
“I’m the type of person, especially with the things I went through the past few years, that I make the most and appreciate the many blessings that I have on any day. Because, like my father always told me, ‘One day you can be on top of the world, and the next, the world can be on top of you.’”
So far, nothing has fallen on top of Newton, which already puts him ahead of last year’s pace.
Adrian Peterson is as good as ever after a year away.
That’s the word from Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, who said on today’s PFT Live that his star running back stayed in great shape while he missed 15 games last year for abusing his son. Zimmer says Peterson seems excited for the season and looks like the All-Pro running back he’s been in the past.
“He’s in fantastic shape. His body is rock hard. He’s really into all the football stuff, he’s got a smile on his face, he seems to be extremely happy and excited to be here. Every day you see a couple cuts that look like a Hall of Fame running back, so those are good sights to see,” Zimmer said.
The Vikings have become a trendy pick to be a playoff team, with Peterson returning, Teddy Bridgewater improving in his second season and Zimmer getting another year to build his defense. Zimmer knows that expectations are high, and he’s fine with that.
“I would personally like to be below the radar but that’s obviously not the case,” Zimmer said. “Like I tell our football team, I want us to have high expectations. I want us to have higher expectations than the fans and everyone else.”
The expectations for Peterson are sky high.
As his NFC East counterpart Jerry Jones did, Giants co-owner John Mara voiced his support for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
But make no mistake, Mara is as tired of #DeflateGate as a lot of people are, saying: “I’m saddened it’s come to this.”
“We went the two weeks going into the Super Bowl that’s all we talked about, Deflategate and now coming into training camp that’s all we’re talking about,’’ Mara said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “Listen, the commissioner had a very difficult job to do here. But at the end of the day I think he made a decision based on the evidence and the facts that were before him and without regard to the profile of the player or his personal relationship with the owner.
“You know what? That’s what he’s paid to do and he did his job here. You can argue with whether it was fair or unfair but he had to make a very tough decision in very difficult circumstances and that’s what he’s paid to do.’’
Mara and Jones and Patriots owner Robert Kraft and their 29 partners combine to pay Goodell very handsomely to be their piñata in cases like this, to the tune of $81 million the last two years.
And despite his displeasure with the longevity of the story, Mara said Goodell was doing the best he could — and you can read into that what you choose.
“I support the commissioner in this,’’ Mara said. “I’ve been around him enough to know his intention is always to try to do the right thing. I don’t always agree with the decisions he makes, but I know he tries to do the right thing and I know this was a very unpleasant situation for him here. We’re dealing with the best player in the league and you’re dealing with an owner who’s been as good as any owner in the league and somebody he has a close personal relationship with. So he had to make a tough decision.’’
Of course, intentions and results aren’t always the same thing, as an entire offseason has been swallowed by a story that won’t go away.
Percy Harvin said last month that he wants to be more than just a gadget player on offense for the Bills and followed it up by talking about his work with wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal on honing his skills as an outside receiver.
That might not be the only change to his portfolio, however. During Friday’s opening practice of Bills camp, reporters in attendance shared that Harvin took some snaps at cornerback during team drills.
After practice, coach Rex Ryan said, via Chris Brown of the team’s website, that Harvin had come to him with the request to moonlight on the defensive side of the ball “here and there” during camp. Ryan said that the team will let that happen from “time to time” to see what Harvin can do as a defensive back.
Turning Harvin into a version of Troy Brown would be an unexpected development, although being able to help a team in all three phases of the game isn’t a bad way to remain an integral member of the club. We’d still expect Harvin to see most of his time in his more familiar roles on offense and special teams once the season gets going, however.
In case it wasn’t obvious before, it’s crystal clear now: Jameis Winston is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting quarterback.
Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said at his first press conference of training camp that the Buccaneers expected Winston to be the starter when they drafted him and have seen nothing in the three months since to make them question that view.
“He’ll be taking first-team reps,” Smith said. “It’s what we already knew, what we saw in camp, what he has done on and off the field here.”
Smith stressed that Winston doesn’t need a veteran mentor, which is good because the Bucs don’t have one. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are Mike Glennon and Seth Lobato. Smith also said the Bucs won’t rein Winston in as a rookie and will expect him to sling it around like a veteran quarterback.
So if the Bucs are going to turn their team around, they’re going to do it with Winston under center. He’s the franchise quarterback, period.
Washington just added another pass-rusher, and a cheap one.
“This deal isn’t about the money,” Keels wrote. “Junior feels that he has a lot to prove both on and off of the field.”
On the field, he has proven himself reasonably well, with 22.0 sacks the last two seasons.
Off the field has been the issue, as the Saints couldn’t wait to get rid of him despite paying him $17 million as part of a six-year deal last September. Galette’s arrest on domestic violence charges could still see him punished under the league’s personal conduct policy, and that helped make his price so low.
When he’s eligible, he’ll pair with the recently extended Ryan Kerrigan to give Washington an exceptional duo of pass-rushers.
Well, perhaps not everyone is thrilled with Russell Wilson’s new deal with the Seahawks.
After the quarterback reached his new monster extension this morning, one of his teammates took up his mantle as the team’s top subtweeter.
Can't keep everyone—
Bobby Wagner (@Bwagz54) July 31, 2015
While signing the quarterback means they could always use the franchise tag on Wagner this offseason, it also means they’ve made a choice.
Even though they began discussions on an extension for Wagner this summer, it’s unlikely they could wedge another big deal in now, since he’s making $977,427 in base salary this year, the last of his rookie deal.
Whether their success the last few years has been because of Wilson, or because having a cheap quarterback allowed them to surround him with many fine parts, the Seahawks have declared their intentions now.
And they are going to have to keep finding more undervalued talents in the draft, because the economic reality is that they won’t be able to retain all the talent of their current core.
The Bengals gave coach Marvin Lewis an extension through the 2016 season in April and that led some of Lewis’s detractors to ask how long Lewis will stay in his job without winning a playoff game.
Bengals owner Mike Brown hasn’t answered that question as Lewis tries to improve on his 0-6 postseason record, but he revealed one potential end to his tenure earlier this week. Lewis said that he’ll happily leave the job for someone else if the Bengals take home the Lombardi Trophy.
“I want to hand Mike the trophy, then just walk away,” Lewis said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Lewis has been the Bengals coach for 12 years and isn’t the first coach of a team in the current AFC North to remain in the same job that long without winning a trophy. The first was Chuck Noll, who had the benefit of winning four Super Bowls before embarking on the long stretch that ended with his departure from the Steelers and the NFL. That leaves Lewis in uncharted waters with a team he thinks has the talent to end the drought.
“We’re good enough, but we have to play good enough,” Lewis said.
If they do play good enough, Lewis will ride off into the sunset with a ring that would make a nice capper for the overhaul of the trajectory of the Bengals organization that he’s overseen over the last dozen years. If they don’t, the Bengals could decide that a 14th season would be too many after an unlucky 13 in a row.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the new contract is a four-year extension. Which means that the total deal covers five years, with a value of $89.142 million.
So the “new money” average, under the $87.6 million extension, is $21.9 million. The total value average is $17.82 million.
Most importantly, the five-year deal binds Wilson to the team through 2019, not 2018. Which means that the Seahawks won’t be back in the position they’ve occupied over the past six months for five more years.
The last show of the first non-slow week edition of PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio since the draft ends with a bang.
In addition to all the interesting stuff we have to discuss, from the Tom Brady suit to the fresh attention on a six-month old erroneous #DeflateGate report to Stephen A. Smith vowing to fire back at PFT on the air today to the new Russell Wilson contract, we’ll cover as much as we can in 180 minutes.
Part of that time will be devoted to 1/16th of the NFL’s entire group of head coaches, with Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians joining the show. (You’ll notice that I put Arians first in the headline and Zimmer first in the text, for balance. For further balance, Zimmer joins the program before Arians.)
Arians, Zimmer. Zimmer, Arians. With a picture of neither in this post.
Also on the program will be Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times and Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Mehta, Condotta.
Setting an NFL record is usually a positive thing for a player, but Bears running back Matt Forte would be happy not to top the mark he established last season.
Forte set a record for running backs by catching 102 passes last season, but his comments on Thursday suggest he thinks that was a product of an offense that wasn’t functioning properly rather than some special talent that Forte possesses as a receiver out of the backfield.
“Catching 100 balls is not my goal as a running back,” Forte said, via the Chicago Tribune. “If you’re running the ball and you can run it effectively you get to control the clock and keep other offenses off the field. Which is what we want to do. If we can control the game, control the pace of the game, and grind out tough yards and score, then that’s what we’re going to do.”
Forte’s heading into the final year of his contract, a situation that led to a brief absence from the team during voluntary work this offseason and an acknowledgement from Forte that he wanted to see the Bears reward him for his efforts the last few seasons. If he generates another 1,800-plus yards of offense in any fashion this season, he’ll be in good shape to land another deal whether those yards come through the air or on the ground.
It’s hard to argue with his take that a more effective running game will be better for the Bears, however. Controlling the pace of the game and limiting the chances for Jay Cutler to turn the ball over would be steps in the right direction offensively and Forte’s presence makes it a realistic approach for the team to take.
The NFL has been handing down suspensions the last few Fridays and this one is no exception.
Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland has been suspended one game by the league. Per Breer, the suspension is related to Breeland’s citation last summer for marijuana possession.
Breeland, who was a fourth-round pick last year, started 15 games during his rookie season and had 67 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He was set to compete for another starting gig across from Chris Culliver this season and was in line to be part of the team’s main cornerback trio with Culliver and DeAngelo Hall whether he was considered part of the starting lineup or not.
There’s not much reason to think that will change because Breeland will miss the first week of the season. He’ll be able to practice and play in the preseason, so the suspension shouldn’t really interfere with his preparations for the fall.
Left tackle Branden Albert avoided a stay on the physically unable to perform list at the start of Dolphins camp, which is a good development for the team’s offensive line since Albert tore his ACL last season and spent the offseason unsure about when he’d be able to resume football activities.
Albert said he also felt unsure about whether he’d be able to play football again immediately after the injury and remains unwilling to guarantee that he’ll be on the field for the first week of the regular season, but there is one thing he’s sure about as he makes his way toward the 2015 season.
“I’m fully, fully confident I’ll be the player I was,” Albert said, via the Miami Herald.
Albert said he’ll be concentrating on rebuilding strength in his leg in the early part of camp as he progresses from taking part in walkthroughs to full participation in the team’s practices. Assuming that progression happens in time for Week One, Ryan Tannehill should be able to breathe a bit easier with Albert protecting his blind side.
Despite a widespread belief that Wilson intended to become the highest-paid player in the game, with a contract worth more than the $22 million the Packers gave to Aaron Rodgers, the four-year, $87.6 million “extension” (as reported by Peter King of TheMMQB.com) gives Wilson a new-money average of $21.9 million.
It’s still unclear whether Wilson is under contract for four more years beyond 2015, or whether it’s a new four-year deal that replaces the one-year remaining on his rookie contract. Wilson’s tweet mentions “four more years“; if it’s an extension, he’s under contract for five more years.
That’s a potentially critical distinction. If it’s a fresh four-year, $87.6 million deal, Wilson is under contract through 2018. If it’s an extension, Wilson will be under contract through 2019.
Obviously, the sooner he’s eligible for another new deal, the better.
As it stands, he’ll either be in line for a new deal at age 30, or at age 31.
Sometimes all it takes to get a deal done is setting a deadline. The Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson have reached a deal at the last minute.
Wilson confirmed on Twitter that he will be with Seattle for four more years.
Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) July 31, 2015
According to Peter King of TheMMQB.com, Wilson’s total take over the four years of the deal will be more than $87 million.
We’ll have much more about the structure of the contract. For now, Seahawks fans can celebrate that their man won’t be going anywhere.