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The text accompanying the photo reiterates Cam’s “my way” mantra: “I am not perfect and I will make mistakes but I will continue to work on improving each day trying to perfect all my imperfection. Pursuing greatness is my commitment, and I will continue to be true to myself, to my family and to making all of you who follow me proud. I will win my way and hope to inspire you all to win your way.”
Perhaps an even more telling message appears over Newton’s right shoulder in the photo, in a framed crop of the iconic shot of Muhammad Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston.
“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even,” the quote from Ali declares.
That’s where Newton needs to focus in the next stage of his development. When things aren’t coming easily for Cam and the Panthers, he needs to fight past the feeling that it’s not his day and find a way to overcome the adversity, even if he’s tempted to think there’s no hope. As to his decision not to dive on that loose ball late in the Super Bowl, it’s possible that Newton decided, consciously or not, that there was no way the Panthers were going to score a touchdown against the Denver defense.
The next time Newton is in that situation, he needs to come up with an “extra ounce of power,” providing the throw or the run that will turn what seemed destined to be a defeat into a win.
I don’t care that he was sulking after the game; I’d rather see a player be miserable than happy following a tough loss. And I don’t blame him for walking out of the press conference after hearing Chris Harris Jr. crowing about what Denver’s defense did to Newton and the passing game. But to the extent that Newton’s emotions are distracting him during a game, Newton needs to “reach down to the bottom of his soul,” ignore the feeling that he’s destined to lose, and find a way turn it around.
Panthers special teams coach Bruce DeHaven has continued to work after being diagnosed with cancer, embodying the team’s “Keep Pounding” motto which began during Sam Mills’ own fight with the disease.
But it appears they want to at least find some help for him, if not replace him.
According to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, the Panthers are interviewing Bucs assistant Kevin O’Dea and 49ers assistant Thomas McGaughey for a special teams coaching position with the team.
It’s unclear if that’s a reflection on DeHaven’s condition, as neither he nor the team has said much about it. Last week, he buried the hatchet with Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who fired him as Buffalo’s special teams coach following the Music City Miracle in the 1999 playoffs.
The Panthers brought 67-year-old Russ Purnell in as an assistant to DeHaven this year, so this could be for a role supplementing DeHaven.
We can file this one as one of the early offseason #asexpected notes, but it’s now official: Matt Forte won’t be returning to the Bears.
The veteran running back just sent out word via social media that he wouldn’t be back, as the team won’t pursue extending the free agent.
“Despite my wishes, my days as a member of the Chicago Bears have sadly come to an end,” he wrote on Instagram. “I was informed earlier this week from the GM that they will not be attempting to re-sign me in free agency. I will remain forever grateful for my time spent in Chicago and being able to play for an organization with such a rich history.
“My only regret is not being able to win a Lombardi trophy for the best fans in all of sports. I’m excited about the next chapter of my NFL career. But, Chicago will always be home. God Bless and Bear Down!”
While Forte has hit the magic number for running backs (he turned 30 in December), he’s remained productive, and his blend of running and receiving ability ought to make him an attractive target in free agency.
Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander said this week that he wants to see the team boost the number of pass rushers on the roster, something that’s hard to do with veteran players without spending a fair amount of money in free agency.
That might leave the draft as the likeliest way that the team addresses that need. General Manager Jason Licht has plenty of salary cap space to work with this offseason, but said this week that the team is wary of devoting too much of it on veterans who have played out contracts with other teams.
“We’ll be selective and strategic,” Licht said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “We don’t want to put ourselves into a position where if you take the wrong guy and give him too much money, it can disrupt your team. I’ve said since Day 1, we are going to build through the draft. And from Day 1, the most success we’ve had is with draft picks. We still believe the best way for us to go is to draft and develop players. You can’t think you’re going to put yourself over the top by signing these high-dollar guys.”
One player that the Bucs will have to spend some money to keep is running back Doug Martin as Stroud reports that the NFL’s second-leading rusher in 2015 wants to “hit the jackpot” this offseason. Licht said the team has had “great discussions” with Martin, but Stroud expects he’ll hit the open market when free agency opens on March 9. Should he leave, that could change the plan for the Bucs, although there’s a lot of time for things to work themselves out between now and then.
After former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress put a bullet through his own leg in a Manhattan club, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg publicly declared a desire to put Plaxico in the “slammer.” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney now wants to do the same thing to former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, absent such colorful language.
In an interview with CBS Philly, Kenney criticized McCoy, who now plays for the Bills, for the alleged beating of a pair of off-duty police officer.
“In addition to punches being thrown, there were some kicks that looked as if they were being leveled and that’s unconscionable and it’s cowardly,” Kenney said. “If [McCoy] wants to stomp our officers and pound our officers, then he needs to pay the price and answer for his actions.”
With all due respect to Mayor Kenney, he should butt out of this one. The case could be headed for a jury that is supposed to be fair and impartial. His comments will make it harder to ensure that a juror will not disregard McCoy’s presumption of innocence.
Also, Kenney’s comments assume (perhaps incorrectly) that McCoy knew he was fighting police officers. While it makes no difference if the victim is or isn’t a member of the police force, Kenney’s comments create the impression that McCoy decided to bully a guy who was whistling while he walked a beat on Broad St.
For many Pro Bowlers, the promise of a week-long vacation in Hawaii is the only incentive to playing in a meaningless game.
And next year, they might not even have that.
According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Houston is bidding to add the 2017 Pro Bowl in addition to next year’s Super Bowl hosting duties.
“The Pro Bowl has historically been held in Hawaii, but I know the NFL is trying to consolidate their Super Bowl experience with the Pro Bowl,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “They’d like them to be held in the same city. It just makes it much easier for everybody who’s traveling who’s affiliated with the city and the Super Bowl. It’s a possibility. It would be ideal if it could happen.
“There are some conversations. We’re making a major push to bring all of the major events to the city of Houston, just like the Final Four.”
The Pro Bowl has been on the mainland twice in recent years, serving as a lead-in to Super Bowls in Phoenix and Miami.
And it’s interesting that the mayor cited the NFL’s desire to consolidate the game, as much as the usual promises of economic impact. While it’s not as tropical as Hawaii, linking the game with the Super Bowl does create an extra boost of attention for the game, which could counteract the lack of boat drinks at poolside for players who might otherwise not attend.
A league spokesman said a decision on the site of next year’s Pro Bowl was expected this spring. Hawaii will bid for the game again, and Brazil is under consideration as well.
Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman waited a long time to find a team to run.
But now that he’s got one, he’s not going to get in a hurry making changes to it.
Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, Gettleman insisted his penchant for patience wasn’t likely to change this offseason, even though the Panthers fell a game short of a title and are in better salary cap shape than they’ve been in years.
“With my 30-year meteoric rise, I’ve learned to be patient,” Gettleman said. “If you have a philosophy that you believe in, and I know people are impatient, but, . . . you have to be patient.”
Other than cornerback Josh Norman — who can probably expect to be franchise-tagged — the Panthers don’t have many priority free agents. And though they have some flexibility, it’s more likely Gettleman will try to turn that into deals to keep players such as defensive tackle Kawann Short and eventually Star Lotulelei than to spend on outside free agents.
“We’re going to do everything we can to keep our core together, I mean, you’d have to be an idiot not to,” Gettleman said. “Tough decisions have to be made. We’re going to do the best we can to keep this team together.
“We’ve got a lot of really good, young players and we don’t want to develop players for other teams.”
The Panthers are also five weeks behind most of the rest of the league in terms of preparing for the offseason. But considering they’re more likely to work the second wave of free agency than the first, that’s not as much of a problem for them as it might be in other places.
The Packers’ priority in free agency is always signing their own free agents before looking at players from other teams, and they’ve taken that approach again.
Green Bay and defensive tackle Letroy Guion have agreed in principle to a three-year, $11.25 million deal, Adam Caplan of ESPN reports.
Guion is actually rare on the Packers’ roster in that he wasn’t drafted by the team: He was drafted by the Vikings in 2008 and signed with the Packers only in 2014. But he has played well enough in his two years in Green Bay that the team wants to keep him around.
The Packers’ devotion to Guion comes despite his off-field problems. Guion copped a plea after facing drug and weapons charges, and he also reportedly had a domestic violence charge. He missed the first three games of last season while serving an NFL suspension.
But Guion is back now, and both sides hope he’ll be with the Packers for at least three more years.
The Bills signed wide receiver Percy Harvin to a three-year contract last offseason, although there never was much chance that he’d see the final two years of the deal.
With base salaries of $9 million for 2016 and 2017, those years were tacked on to make his 2015 cap hit easier to swallow as the Bills had the ability to void the deal after paying $3 million in salary and a $3 million signing bonus in the first year. As Sal Capaccio of WGR 550 points out, those years void on Friday at 4 p.m. and Harvin will become a free agent again on March 9.
Harvin only played five games for the Bills in 2015 because of knee and hip injuries that cast some doubt about whether he’d be back on the field for anyone in 2016 or any other year. Bills director of player personnel Jim Monos said last month that the team is “still not sure” what’s going on with the wideout, although General Manager Doug Whaley later expressed hope of bringing the veteran back for another season.
“We’ll talk to him, see where he is and hopefully he comes back,” Whaley said, via the Buffalo News. “We want him back.”
It’s hard to imagine Harvin generating too hot a market given his injury history which could help the Bills hold onto him at a low price. Banking on anything substantial from a player who has played 28 games for three different teams over the last four years doesn’t sound like all that sound an idea, however.
But for his part, the once-and-maybe-future starter said he feels a part of something unique there, and wants to return.
“Every single guy on this team embraced me, and that is something I think they all know how thankful I am for that, but this is the best team in the world and we have a very special group in our locker room,” he said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.
Osweiler filled in more than acceptably during Manning’s injury/ineffective streak midseason. He was 5-2 as their starter, reasonably in line with expectations on a team that doesn’t ask the quarterback to do too much on his own.
But they think he’s capable of more in the future based on this experience.
“I wish every quarterback in the league could have a chance to learn before being put to the fire test,” Broncos quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp said. “It is not just the game itself to learn about, but how you manage the team as a quarterback. How do you handle the tough questions after a tough loss, how do you look in the locker room after a Monday or a Tuesday after a tough loss to your teammates. That’s such a valuable tool because a young quarterback, say he’s a rookie high draft pick, has to play and they have a tough loss, he’s got no experience to pull from. He has no knowledge on how to manage that situation.”
But Osweiler has that experience now, and the inside track to the starting job there in the future. But first, they have to figure out his contract status. If they can’t get a long-term deal done with Von Miller before the deadline, they’re expected to use the franchise tag on their pass-rush star.
That leaves Osweiler as a free agent, and much like Kirk Cousins in Washington, it’s hard to gauge the market value of someone with a promising but limited resume.
The Patriots need some new faces in the backfield.
The Ravens have started putting their draft board together.
The Browns continue to reorganize their scouting department.
Breaking down the Steelers’ cap position at the start of the offseason.
Texans players paid a visit to patients at Texas Children’s Heart Center.
Said Jaguars WR Allen Robinson, “We’ve had some success, but we still see the direction we’re going. We’re not even close to being at the peak of things. We still have a lot to accomplish, and I think for us that’s what keeps us so excited.”
Sifting through some possible Titans cuts.
A preview of offseason moves the Chiefs may make at cornerback.
All the biggest points the Raiders would like to emphasize from their lease signing press conference.
Five of the biggest draft steals in Cowboys history.
The Giants are looking for a defensive assistant to round out their coaching staff.
Projecting the changes on the Redskins defensive line.
Bears LB Brian Urlacher is up to more than just growing hair during his retirement.
The Lions signed journeyman LB Jerry Franklin as a street free agent.
Offensive line additions may be in store for the Packers this offseason.
What’s coming up at wide receiver and tight end for the Vikings?
The Buccaneers did well in the 2015 draft.
A look at what’s coming at cornerback for the Cardinals in free agency.
Any look at the Rams quarterbacks ends with the team needing an upgrade at the position.
While the Raiders’ extending of their lease in Oakland for another year might have been a short-term relief, Mark Davis still has a long-term problem with his co-tenant in O.co Coliseum.
The Raiders owner took aim at the Oakland A’s as an impediment in his quest for a new stadium in Oakland.
The baseball team signed a 10-year lease on the old place in 2014, and Davis said until they declare their intentions for the future, it’s hard to move forward.
“There’s an elephant in the room, and that’s the Oakland A’s. “They have to make a commitment to what they want to do,” Davis said, via Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com. “That’s the problem. They signed a 10-year lease while we were negotiating with Oakland officials, and it kind of put somebody right in the middle of things. There isn’t much you can do. They’ve tied our hands behind our back.
“Now it’s up to the A’s to make a declaration of what they want to do. If they don’t do that, I don’t see how we can make a deal.”
Davis said his long-term plan is for each team to have a new building on the current site. But he also doesn’t want to compromise parking and tailgating possibilities during construction, hoping to tear down the decrepit hulk of a stadium and come back to a new one rather than work piecemeal.
“What I do not want to do,” Davis said, “is build a football stadium in a corner of a parking lot while the Oakland Coliseum is still standing and, once we have a brand new venue, we begin to tear down the old stadium and build a new ballpark, disrupting the ingress, egress, parking and tailgating experience for Raiders fans on game day.”
Of course, all that takes money, and that’s the problem. Local officials have insisted they won’t spend public funds on the project, and it’ll take more than the $100 million the league is offering them to stay put to make a new stadium magically appear.
When safety Tyrann Mathieu tore his ACL in Week 15 of the regular season, General Manager Steve Keim said it made for a “deflated” locker room while the team was simultaneously celebrating their NFC West title.
Given how much Mathieu did for the defense in the weeks before his injury, it’s not hard to understand why the team felt that way. Mathieu’s production covered the entire stat sheet the way he covers the entire field when he’s healthy and Keim said the team is in no hurry to deal with the deflation that would come with his departure from the roster.
During an appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7, Keim said that one of the team’s goals for the offseason is to sign Mathieu to an extension before he plays out the final year of his rookie deal.
“It’s hard to say that that we’ll be able to get something done for sure, but we certainly have that goal in mind and there’s no doubt that this organization wants Tyrann Mathieu to be a fixture here for years,” Keim said.
Mathieu has expressed a desire to remain in Arizona, so the chances of getting a deal done look pretty good. It wouldn’t be too surprising if serious talks were to wait until a bit later in the offseason, though, as the Cardinals would probably like to see how Mathieu’s rehab has progressed before putting the finishing touches on a new deal.
All of the NFL’s most lengthy suspensions have been for misconduct away from the field, like failing a drug test or gambling on games. The longest suspension ever for an on-field incident came when Albert Haynesworth was suspended Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was suspended five games for stomping on the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode in 2006. That suspension came only a month after Roger Goodell was named commissioner, and it announced that Goodell would have a different approach to league discipline.
Since then, only two players have received a suspension longer than one game for an on-field infraction: Ndamukong Suh for stomping on Evan Dietrich-Smith, and Brandon Meriweather for multiple helmet-to-helmet hits.
The length of Burfict’s suspension comes as a result of his status as a repeat offender, as well as (though the league wouldn’t admit this) the fact that his violations came during a high-profile playoff game. Burfict is now the second player in NFL history to be suspended more than two games for an on-field action.
And he has a pretty good idea that when he lines up this season, he’s going to be blocking for yet another first-round quarterback.
“Well, I think we’re in really good shape right now,” Thomas said (of the Browns, presumably with a straight face) to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Obviously going into my 10th year I wish this was the position we were in my second or third year. We’re probably going to draft a first-round quarterback, the best quarterback in the draft or the second best at worst. And we’ve got a guy in Josh McCown who’s proven he can be a good player when he’s starting and healthy.
“[He’s] a tremendous mentor. You’re not going to find a better mentor as a quarterback in the NFL, and he’s better than you could do as a quarterback coach because he’s actually on the field showing the kid how to do it. So you’ve got hopefully the future of the franchise getting drafted in the first round and then you’ve got Josh mentoring him and coaching him along the way. I can’t see a better situation that the Browns could possibly be in than that.”
Any quarterback they bring in during the draft will end up being the 25th different quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999, which makes it clear the problem there’s not just about Manziel. But Thomas said he was encouraged once he had a chance to sit down with new coach Hue Jackson. But he also knows that Jackson can only do so much.
“As long as you pick the right quarterback, if there is one out there, the future is really bright for the Cleveland Browns ’cause it doesn’t really matter what you do with the rest of the team if don’t have a quarterback,” Thomas said. “I mean it’s great to hire a new coach and bring in free agents and stuff, but unless you solve the quarterback piece of the puzzle, you’ll be finding a new coach every two years.”
And that’s what the Browns have been doing, for longer than Thomas’s tenure there.