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It’s been four days since the NFL’s Management Council applied the tight end version of the tag to Graham. And yet there has been no grievance, immediate or otherwise.
So what’s going on? We’ve identified two possible explanations.
First, Graham and his agents may be waiting for a possible offer sheet. If, as of 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 11, another team presents Graham with a multi-year deal that he accepts, it doesn’t matter whether he’s tagged as a tight end or a receiver. The offer sheet trumps the designation, if/when Graham signs it.
Second, Graham and the Saints could be working toward a long-term deal. By not pulling the pin on the grievance grenade, the process can proceed with Graham being valued as a hybrid tight end/receiver on a long-term deal that pays Graham with the stroke of a pen much more money than he has earned in his entire four-year NFL career. And if the possibility of a grievance that Graham could win merely looming but not activated, it’s easier for both sides to proceed in an amicable way, without the Saints having to make arguments at arbitration that could get under Graham’s skin.
Graham doesn’t seem to be looking for a fight. He has never complained about his situation, even after two tight ends drafted in his class (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez) got long-term contract. Graham didn’t point out that he hasn’t gotten paid when Gronkowski suddenly couldn’t stay on the field and when Hernandez couldn’t stay among the free. Graham never complained about bearing the risk of injury for four full seasons of football.
The only thing Graham ever has said about his situation is that he’s not “keen” on the franchise tag. That’s it. He hasn’t said the Saints aren’t treating him fairly, and he hasn’t tried to ruffle feathers via media leaks. He’s happy in New Orleans, he wants to stay, and he’s not inclined to push the situation to the limit.
So it’s possible that Graham himself has decided not to finalize the battle lines by filing the grievance, in the hopes that the Saints will make him a fair offer on a long-term deal.
The only problem with that possibility is that the Saints, like most teams, operate on deadlines. The deadline, under the labor deal, arises in 50 days from the application of the tight end version of the franchise tag. Graham may not want to wait 50 days for the deal to get done, especially once other players start signing big-money contracts starting Tuesday.
Kevin Gilbride retired as the Giants’ offensive coordinator after an unsuccessful 2013 season, but Gilbride says his offensive schemes haven’t grown old.
Although Giants G.M. Jerry Reese said it was time for a change on the Giants’ offense, Gilbride disagreed with that suggestion in an interview with Conor Orr of the Star-Ledger. According to Gilbride, the problem last season was an inability to stay healthy, not an inability to call the right plays on offense.
“I’m kind of surprised to hear him say that,” Gilbride sai. “No one had figured that offense out for 24 years. To think that they figured it out this year would be pretty ludicrous. I think it was pretty obvious what the problems were. We had a confluence of injuries, we were very weak on the offensive line. We had some guys who struggled. We started six different offensive tailbacks, three different fullbacks, three different right guards, four different centers. . . . You can say it’s the offense, but it’s pretty clear what the problem was.”
Gilbride hinted that if there was a problem, it was that Reese had put together a roster with holes in it, and those holes weren’t getting filled.
“I certainly have expressed those concerns for a number of years,” Gilbride said. “It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when it was going to happen.”
Whatever the reasons, it happened in 2013. And if the Giants’ offense is going to get fixed in 2014, it’s going to be new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo who gets the credit.
The Colts are open for business, and everyone is eligible for a deal.
This morning, they’ve retained their punter, as Pat McAfee announced on the NFL Network he had agreed to a new five-year deal with the team.
Apparently, it’s a little early in the morning for Jim Irsay to be up and tweeting.
McAfee would have been an unrestricted free agent, and gets the security he was looking for a year after being franchise-tagged by the Colts.
As prosecutions launch in both California and Louisiana against former NFL safety (and as of last week former NFL Network employee) Darren Sharper for rape, Louisiana has something that California doesn’t.
In Louisiana, Erik Nunez remains in jail on charges of aggravated rape. The arrest warrants, according to Naomi Martin of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, allege that Nunez was present in Sharper’s apartment for the rape of two women last September 23, that both women woke up “disoriented” from a “stupor” to find Sharper on top of them naked, and that another acquaintance who had a key to Sharper’s apartment arrived after the alleged assaults and saw both Sharper and Nunez wearing only boxer shorts.
Sharper is suspected of nine rapes in five states during a period of less than four months. He also is suspected of drugging 11 people.
The presence of Nunez and his subsequent prosecution give the authorities an potentially significant edge in their effort to secure a conviction of Sharper. Cut a deal with Nunez, who testifies against Sharper, and Sharper goes away for a long, long time — regardless of the outcome of the other cases in the other jurisdictions, where without a witness who was in the room and wasn’t drugged an “if it doesn’t fit you must acquit” outcome becomes more likely.
In those other jurisdictions, Nunez also could be a key witness. At a minimum, he can testify about “other bad acts” of Sharper in Louisiana (that’s Rule 404(b) for the aspiring lawyers in the crowd). Nunez also can provide testimony about things Sharper may have said to Nunez about drugging and raping other women in other states (that’s not hearsay, under Rule 801(d)(1)(A)).
It all comes down to what Nunez knows, whether he’d be able to tell a credible story in court, and whether a mutually-acceptable plea agreement can be negotiated.
The Steelers can’t possibly keep all their old defensive standard-bearers around.
So while defensive end Brett Keisel is hoping for a return, he’s not banking on it.
Keisel’s agent told Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he’s heard nothing from the Steelers, so Keisel is preparing to play elsewhere next year.
“He’s productive, healthy and has every intention to continue to play football,” agent Eric Metz said.
Keisel’s 35, but he’s still playing at an effective level when he’s well. He missed four games late in the year with foot problems, but came back to finish the season and should be ready to go for his next employer, if it’s not the Steelers.
“Hopefully, he can finish his career a Steeler as he’s always desired,” Metz said.
This could also be a case of the Steelers slow-playing veterans to see if they can get a better offer elsewhere, so the lack of contact might not necessarily mean there’s no chance.
Ka’Deem Carey was the Pac-12 offensive player of the year as a running back at Arizona last season, but NFL teams may be wondering whether he’s fast enough to play running back at the next level.
At the Scouting Combine, Carey was one of the slowest running backs to run, clocking at 4.70 seconds in the 40-yard dash. At Arizona’s Pro Day Carey wasn’t much better: According to NFL.com, Carey ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 and 4.69 seconds.
During the on-field drills, Carey worked out at wide receiver, not at running back. Carey did line up in the slot at times in Arizona’s offense, and perhaps he thinks he has a better chance of making it in the NFL as a slot receiver than as a running back.
At either position, Carey’s lack of speed could be a concern. You can’t argue with his production in college, but in the NFL speed is at a premium, and Carey doesn’t have it.
Lance Moore’s days in New Orleans are apparently done.
Moore, who was the longest-tenured player on the team, took to Twitter on Friday morning and indicated that it’s time to say goodbye.
“Thank you New Orleans for an amazing nine years. Who Dat Nation, the best on earth,” Moore wrote.
The Saints were shopping Moore in a trade, but it’s hard to imagine any other team giving anything up for a receiver who will turn 31 before the season and had only 37 catches for 457 yards last year. So Moore’s message seems to suggest that he’s going to be released.
Cutting Moore will give the Saints $3.8 million in cap space, and for a team that’s in a very tough cap situation right now, it’s a move that makes a lot of sense. Even if it will be tough for Moore and for Saints fans, to say goodbye after nine good years.
When the salary cap jumped from $123 million to $133 million last week, some suggested it could move to $140 million in 2015 and $150 million in 2016.
One source with knowledge of the process (but not the same source who was on the money — pun lame but intended — when providing info about the 2014 cap) tells PFT that the cap could spike to $145 million in 2015 and a whopping $160 million in 2016.
A large jump wouldn’t be a major surprise. While the new TV deals kick in this year (including the recent Thursday night CBS simulcast), the revenue increase won’t hit the cap until next year.
That raises an intriguing question: Why did the cap go up by $320 million based on 2013 revenues? With a 50-50 split in revenue between the owners and players, the increase reflects $640 million in new money.
The full truth as to the bump, annually negotiated by the NFL and NFLPA, never will be known. The teams, however, didn’t anticipate it. Last October, owners were told that the cap would increase by only $3.3 million, to $126.3 million. More recently, the number was pegged increasing by $128.3 million.
As one source explained it to PFT, that’s the number most if not all owners used when establishing their budgets for the upcoming free-agency period. It means that most if not all General Managers will have to persuade their owners to increase the budget in light of the increased cap room.
In Dallas, that would be an interesting conversation.
Moving forward, teams may want to make multiple budgets, because the information the teams are getting from the NFL has been suggesting much lower growth. For now, it’ll be interesting to see whether many/any teams alter their budgets in light of the unexpected spike in the cap.
Bills CEO Russ Brandon said that the team will be active in free agency according to their “master plan.”
What are realistic cornerback options for the Patriots?
The Jets took a close look at Clemson WR Sammy Watkins at the school’s pro day.
The Jaguars are well-stocked at tackle, but the rest of the offensive line needs work.
A call for the Cowboys to go after defensive linemen early in the draft.
What will the Eagles do at safety in free agency?
Breaking down the Redskins’ needs at inside linebacker.
Will the Packers be more active in free agency than in past years?
Said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer of calling defensive plays, “I think on Sundays I do a pretty good job as far that kind of stuff. So I feel if it can help us best win games by me starting to do it then I will, but I haven’t made that decision totally yet.”
The Falcons will hold a Moms Football Safety Clinic for mothers of kids playing youth football.
The offensive line is the most glaring need for the Panthers.
An argument that cutting ties with vets on offense is what the Saints need to move forward.
A call for patience for the new regime running the Buccaneers.
A list of reasons for optimism about the Cardinals.
Last year, the Bears parted ways with longtime linebacker Brian Urlacher. This year, they’re parting ways with longtime kick returner Devin Hester. Urlacher wonders what that says about the Bears.
“Look at what the Steelers have done the last couple days signing Troy Polamalu, Heath Miller, some older guys to a couple more years just so they can retire as Steelers,” Urlacher told FOXSports.com. “The Bears could do that with Devin. He should retire a Bear. He set all those records in a Bears uniform and his number 23 should be retired one day in Chicago. It’s just the loyalty factor. It’s just not there. He should be a guy that retires as a Bear.”
Hester is the NFL’s all-time record holder for combined kick return touchdowns and punt return touchdowns, and he’s tied with Deion Sanders for the most return touchdowns of all types (Hester has 13 punt return touchdowns, five kickoff return touchdowns and one missed field goal return touchdown, while Sanders had six punt return touchdowns, three kickoff return touchdowns, nine interception return touchdowns and one fumble return touchdown). Urlacher would like to see Hester get his record-breaking 20th career return touchdown in a Bears uniform.
“He’s going to break the record on another team, probably. It’s crazy to think he won’t be in a Bears uniform doing that. It’s frustrating as an ex-Bear and a player to see that happen,” Urlacher said.
The 31-year-old Hester led the league in kickoff return yards last year and will be a good addition for some other team. Urlacher said Hester should go to Tampa Bay to play for former Bears coach Lovie Smith, who feels the loyalty toward Hester that Urlacher thinks the Bears lack.
The Cowboys have told defensive end DeMarcus Ware that they want him to stay in Dallas for the 2014 season, but that he will have to cut his $12.25 million salary coming off a year plagued by injury.
If Ware were agree to the haircut or be cut, the Cowboys would be able to drop below the cap and start putting together plans for free agency. So their rationale for wanting the change is obvious. For Ware, taking a pay cut would make sense if he felt there would be a limited market for his services.
According to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ware doesn’t feel that way. Per Hill, Ware expects to get a lot of interest from the rest of the league if he’s released by the Cowboys. That interest may not add up to a $12.25 million salary, but he may be confident it is close enough to tell the Cowboys that he’s not interested in playing for anything other than the salary that the team agreed to pay him.
Ware also reportedly believes his elbow surgery will allow him to get back to his old ways on the field, although he’s not going to have a chance to prove that before his contract situation plays out.
Jets defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson is finding out he’s going to have to wait a year for his long-term contract, something most of the 2011 first round is going to learn.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets spoke with Wilkerson’s agents recently about his contract future, but they aren’t close to a new deal. Instead, the team will exercise the fifth-round option to lock him up through the 2015 season, and resume talks later.
For Wilkerson, that will mean another year at around $5 million to $6 million tacked onto his affordable rookie deal, which is great for the Jets. For players picked in the top 10, the option number is the transition tag amount this year. For players drafted 11th through 32nd, it’s the average of the 25 highest-paid players at the position, with the top three excluded.
But the Jets have until May 3 to exercise that option, so the current business will be in free agency and the draft. And with the cheap option year in their pockets (and a franchise tag available after that), there’s far less urgency for the Jets to do a long-term deal this offseason unless it’s good for them.
There are some teams that are thinking about adding a two-Carr garage this offseason.
Draft prospect Derek Carr told FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez and Phil Savage on SiriusXM NFL Radio that teams had mentioned the possibility of drafting him and signing his brother David as a package deal.
Derek said that he’s realized again how good his brother was during their workouts with Mike Sullivan (who coached David with the Giants), and thinks having the pair of them can only help.
“I wouldn’t want to step on anybody’s toes or anything like that,” Derek said. “But I think to have David and I on the same team, you get two things. First, you get a great quarterback, as coach Sullivan can testify. he worked us out and said it himself. Secondly, you’re getting a veteran guy who this will be his 13th year in the NFL who genuinely cares to help the rookie out. We’ll be doing it as our job, so there’s nothing more we’d care about than trying to make that team win.
“There’s so much positive things about having us both on the same team, that i don’t know why somebody wouldn’t think about it. And the truth is there are teams thinking about it, because they’ve been letting us know about it.”
While they might not match the Mannings (or the McCowns), Derek could aspire to his brother’s career.
David might not have lived up to his original draft status, as the top pick in the 2002 Draft, he has carved out a long run as a backup in the league, and that has as much to do with his ability off the field as on it.
While a team might want a non-Carr to park ahead of or at least between them on the depth chart, it’s doesn’t take a long look around to realize it isn’t the worst plan.
The Bengals took care of one item on their shopping list Thursday, hanging onto versativle offensive lineman Mike Pollak.
Pollak joined the Bengals last year on a one-year deal, and played well for them when guard Kevin Zeitler was out for a month because of a foot problem. The Bengals also have some question marks about other interior blockers because of injuries, so keeping Pollak around was good insurance.
Of course, that demands that Pollak stay healthy himself.
The former second-round pick of the Colts only played one game during his one season with the Panthers thanks to a shoulder injury, and missed the first seven games of his Bengals career with a knee problem.
The Buffalo Bills elected not to place the franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd this season in hopes it could smooth discussions surrounding a long-term contract for Byrd to remain in Western New York.
It shouldn’t hurt that Byrd apparently wants to stick around with the Bills either.
Williams joined Alex Marvez and Phil Savage on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Thursday to discuss his own extension with the Bills and Byrd’s impending free agency. Williams said that Byrd wants to remain in Buffalo.
“I know that they’re still negotiating. I don’t want to speak on their situation because I have no say, nor do I know the full story on it, but I know Jairus does want to come back and wants to be a part of something special. Jairus and I have a great friendship. We communicate non-stop,” Williams said.
“Actually, I had the chance to talk to him last night and I wish him the best regardless of if he stays or doesn’t. We’re always going to have a great relationship with each other and always going to keep in touch. We have a great chemistry together on the field. They know that we’re probably one of the best duos of safeties in the league and I’m pretty sure they want to keep him.”
Byrd has been named an All-Pro three times in five seasons with the Bills including each of the last two seasons. If both sides get their wish, Byrd will have the chance to add more All-Pro selections to his resume in Buffalo.