Vikings GM Rick Spielman joins Mike Florio to talk about the decision to trade wide receiver Percy Harvin and sign wide receiver Greg Jennings. Spielman said that we’ll have to “wait and see” if cornerback Antoine Winfield will return next season.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Spielman confident in Vikings offseason moves
Bears linebacker Lance Briggs went to see the doctor on Tuesday for an examination of his fractured shoulder, but the visit did not result in clearance to return to the field.
That makes it unlikely that Briggs will return to the lineup for the Week 15 game against the Browns, although the linebacker said he’ll be evaluated again in a couple of days so he’s not ruling himself out for Sunday. In order to play, though, Briggs says he needs to feel like he can defend himself on the field and that’s not where he is at this point in his recovery.
“The thing about it is, I understand why I haven’t been cleared,” Briggs said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “Being a linebacker on the field, it’s violent. You have to tackle. You have to take on a lot of people. If at any point you deal with the shoulder, which you use all the time, you risk setting yourself back.”
In six games without Briggs, the Bears have allowed 1,220 rushing yards. That pace would make them the worst run defense in history over the course of a 16-game season, which makes the benefit of Briggs’ return obvious even if it wouldn’t solve all the defensive problems in Chicago.
Your move, Mr. Snyder.
In a turn that’s been expected he broached the topic on Monday, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has decided to start Kirk Cousins at quarterback against the Falcons this week, according to multiple reports which we’ve independently confirmed.
That will trigger the next wave of tension between quarterback Robert Griffin III and owner Daniel Snyder and Shanahan, which already appeared to be considerable.
But it could also create pressure on the Redskins this offseason if Cousins plays well.
If Cousins can do something Griffin has been unable to lately (play well, win), it could create a quarterback controversy that would extend well beyond Shanahan’s employment there.
That might be his parting gift to Dan Snyder, one he seems happy to provide as he walks away.
After quarterback Josh Freeman secured his freedom from the Buccaneers (along with the right to collect the balance of his $8.43 million base salary), he selected the Vikings as his next destination.
The Vikings then rushed him to the field for a Monday night start against the Giants only two weeks after joining the team. He threw 53 passes, emerged with a concussion, quickly healed, and then disappeared.
A first-round pick in 2009 who had twice led the Bucs to victories over the Vikings in the Metrodome, Freeman has fallen out of a two-man quarterback rotation that spins from Christian Ponder to Matt Cassel back to Ponder.
So why are the Vikings continuing to pay Freeman $166,667 per week to not contribute? They could cut him at any time and owe him nothing, banking the cash and carrying the ensuing cap savings forward to 2014.
Apart from saving face for signing him in the first place, keeping Freeman makes him available for emergency duty, and it gives Minnesota exclusive negotiating rights on a new deal until March. But if the Vikings aren’t ready to play Freeman after having him in the building for two months, why would they want to make a long-term commitment to him?
The bigger question that never will be answered is whether the Vikings would still sign Freeman, if they knew in October what they know now. It’s likely safe to assume Freeman would have made a different decision.
It wasn’t a shocking nugget of information. Johnson is set to make $8 million next season and his production — 820 rushing yards and 3.8 yards per carry — isn’t at the same level as that salary. As Mike Florio pointed out on Tuesday, however, there are a lot of decisions to make in Tennessee and the decision on Johnson will almost certainly wait until the team’s decided on their coach and General Manager for 2014 and beyond.
Titans president and CEO Tommy Smith will be the man pulling the trigger on those decisions and he’s agonizing over what to do with coach Mike Munchak, which may help explain why he says that any talk of Johnson leaving the team is “premature” and that the team needs to make better use of the running back.
“Chris has done nothing but what he’s been asked to do there. He suits up and he plays every game. I think they need to figure out how to use him and his skill set better, but he has been a good teammate and a good player,” Smith said, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. “Chris, like every player, we are looking at all of them. … We are evaluating each and every position on this team, and we are only going to keep players we think will contribute and earn their keep.”
If Munchak does stay as coach, it’s hard to imagine that he’s suddenly going to “figure out how to use him and his skill set better” since he hasn’t been able to figure it out after 45 games with Johnson on the roster. How that factors into Smith’s ultimate decision is one of many questions that the Titans will answer once the offseason rolls around.
In Buffalo, there are a whole lot of questions facing the Bills.
It’s been nine years since the Patriots won the Super Bowl, but their run of success since then has still been impressive.
The Jets have allowed 836 yards in the last two games, their most in any two consecutive games since Rex Ryan became the coach.
The Ravens, who are 1-5 on the road, now have two key road games as they attempt to secure a playoff berth.
A 4-9 record 13 games into the season is par for the course for the Browns.
The Steelers say they’re focused on winning now, not looking ahead to 2014.
Said Texans interim head coach Wade Phillips, “I’m going to try to influence some things offensively that I feel can help us. I’m not going to take over the offense. I’ll probably delegate more duties defensively. Also, I have to help with special teams. I’m going to try to be a well-rounded head coach. I think that’s what the head coach does is try to be involved in all aspects of the game. And I’ve done that.”
The Colts are going for their eighth season sweep of the Texans.
The Jaguars are hosting a punt, pass and kick competition before Sunday’s game. (Maybe the winner can be their new starting quarterback.)
Said Titans coach Mike Munchak about his job security, “We have three games to go. We have a lot of football to play, so that is not a concern right now.”
The Chiefs and coach Andy Reid are 4-0 against the NFC East this season.
Players on the Raiders spent their day off participating in a Toys for Tots event.
Does Washington have the worst special teams ever?
Win or lose, the Cowboys remain a huge TV ratings draw.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly says he never doubted that his team would rally after falling behind in Sunday’s blizzard game against the Lions.
The Lions’ coaching staff doesn’t seem to make the right adjustments.
Ahman Green and Ken Ruettgers will be inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter says interviewing for the head-coaching job at Boise State isn’t detracting from his preparation for Sunday’s game.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera likes how the NFC playoff race is shaping up: “It is bunching up in the NFC. And a lot of those teams will play each other in the last two or three weeks. The schedulers did a great job.”
The Saints are one win away from the playoffs.
A postgame concert is getting some of the credit for the Buccaneers selling out their home finale.
The Rams’ running game has shown promise at times, but has been ineffective in recent losses.
It started as an homage to George Costanza’s effort to get fired by the Yankees. It quickly became an homage to Costanza’s effort to get fired by Play Now.
It’s now become an homage to Costanza’s refusal to stop driving his former future in-laws to a non-existent house in the Hamptons.
With Redskins coach Mike Shanahan suggesting on Monday that he may shut down quarterback Robert Griffin III for the season and owner Daniel Snyder leaking word that benching his alleged BFF won’t cause Snyder to fire Shanahan or violate Shanahan’s contract by overriding the decision, Shanahan reportedly plans to sit Griffin and go with Cousins — unless Griffin can convince Shanahan otherwise.
The situation has been explained in a series of tweets from Jay Glazer of FOX, who reports that it appears Cousins will get the start this week, but that it won’t be a done deal until practice starts on Wednesday. Glazer adds that Shanahan could change his mind, if Griffin convinces Shanahan otherwise.
If, as Shanahan explained it on Monday, the goal of shutting down Griffin would be to protect him for the 2014 offseason program, what could Griffin say to change Shanahan’s mind? I strenuously object?
This is now about making Griffin more than a passive pawn in the head coach’s power play. Shanahan apparently hopes that Griffin will go to Snyder and complain about the manner in which Shanahan is disrespecting the quarterback who, after Shanahan recklessly left him in a January playoff game with an injured knee that eventually imploded, has busted his ass to get healthy and make a positive contribution.
While the blame for the current fiasco lands in the laps of Shanahan, Snyder, and Griffin, it’s now becoming obvious that Shanahan is simply pushing buttons in the hopes of getting fired — and getting paid. And that could push Snyder to fire Shanahan for cause, hopeful that Commissioner Roger Goodell eventually would agree that Shanahan has placed the interests of the team behind his own desire to leave Washington with an extra $7 million.
When he discussed his status yesterday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn’t sound overly optimistic about his chances of returning this week.
Others are feeling the same vibe.
Ed Werder of ESPN describes the Packers as “pessimistic” about his chances of playing against the Cowboys Sunday, even though he’s going to try to practice today.
Rodgers was pointing in that direction himself yesterday, telling Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin that he was “trying to push it” last week and that he was still in too much pain from his broken collarbone to consider playing then.
The Packers are going to wait to do more scans until after today’s attempt, to see if he can get through without the kind of pain he had last week. If he can’t there’s not much point.
Besides, if the Packers can’t win and get some help this week, there might not be any point at all in continuing to wait.
What happens at the bottom of the pile usually stays at the bottom of the pile, typically because what happens at the bottom of the pile can’t be seen by the many cameras blanketing an NFL field.
But when Steelers center Cody Wallace opted to insert his hand in a certain sensitive area of Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks and, you know, move it around, the cameras had a clear shot of the move.
At it turns out, everyone except Starks knew what had happened.
“If I’d known exactly who it was at the time, I probably would have gotten thrown out,” Starks said Tuesday, via Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post. “So I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t.”
For Starks, the experience had no precedent.
“I heard of stuff like that happening,” Starks said. “It’s the first time that happened to me.”
The violation has become a gift that keeps on giving. Starks says his teammates are giving him a hard time about the situation.
“Oh, they’re getting on me,” he said. “‘Check for prostate.’ I’m hearing it today.”
When it comes to prostates, it’s always better to simply hear about it.
In narrowing down the sources of the Cowboys’ problems this year, owner Jerry Jones has already absolved his General Manager, who is doing some of his best work. He’s also taken the blame away from his quarterback, and said his defensive coordinator is not the reason the team has gone awry.
That has allowed him to start zooming in on players themselves, and he said in his weekly radio show that the team should be getting more from defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
The 31-year-old Ware has battled through injuries this year (missing three games and playing one-legged in several others), and has just 6.0 sacks.
Asked if his diminished production was a function of age or injury, Jones said Ware should be able to do as much as ever.
“I don’t know, as far as evaluating where he is at his talent level as it regards to age,” Jones said on KRLD-FM, via the Dallas Morning News. “He’s a remarkable athlete. That shouldn’t be the case at all. He should actually be in the prime of his career, candidly, strength-wise, explosion-wise. That’s one of the things we got to, I think, count on is him having more impact in the game as he moves away from his injury.
“He’s feeling better and we should be able to count on better production from him.”
While Jones has been known to ramble, it’s hard to not read that as a challenge to his best defensive player.
The player who was drafted and signed to a lucractive extension by the G.M. who is at the top of his game.
It has been a dreadful season for the Houston Texans, but 11 straight losses have not gotten in the way of wide receiver Andre Johnson’s yearly effort to bring some smiles to the faces of kids who could use them.
Johnson has made an annual tradition out of giving 12 kids chosen by Child Protective Services in Houston on a shopping spree at Toys R Us. The kids have 80 seconds, in honor Johnson’s No. 80, to fill up carts with everything they can grab off the shelves. Every kid teamed up with a Texans cheerleader to race through the store and was guaranteed an entertainment system of their choice and two games in addition to anything else they grabbed.
“I remember times where I wasn’t able to get things that I wanted,” Johnson said, via the Texans website. “It just gives them a chance to go through the store and get whatever they want. They don’t have to ask anybody for it. Whatever they have on their Christmas list they can pick up.”
The Texans website has some great video from the event, which Johnson has hosted for seven years. The final tab for this year’s event was $17,352, which is a pretty impressive total given the short period of time the kids had to work even if it is a bit less than last year’s total.
NFL investigator Ted Wells apparently has all the information he needs from Dolphins players to prepare his report regarding the Jonathan Martin situation.
According to Jeff Darlington of NFL Network, Wells has canceled a round of follow-up meetings scheduled to occur this week in Miami with Dolphins offensive linemen. Though Wells, per Darlington, gave the players no explanation for the cancellation, the decision resulted from the follow-up session between Wells and offensive tackle Jonathan Martin.
Last week, we reported that Wells would be meeting with Martin, agent Kenny Zuckerman, and one or more of Martin’s family members.
It’s unknown whether any other meetings have been canceled, or whether any other meetings will be occurring.
For now, the development means that Wells believes he doesn’t need any further information or clarification from the Dolphins linemen. Which could mean that Martin answered any lingering questions in a way that persuaded Wells that Martin’s version of the events is accurate. Or it could mean that Martin failed to persuade Wells that Martin’s version is correct. Or perhaps it could mean that the information from Martin, his agent, and Martin’s family members prompted Wells to conclude he fully understands the situation, regardless of what his conclusion will be.
Meanwhile, Courtney Fallon of NBC 6 in Miami reports that Martin “isn’t turning over text messages to Ted Wells,” and that Martin won’t meet with the NFLPA investigator who is reviewing the situation.
Wells’ report, when finalized, will be made public. While it may be impossible for him to fit various conflicting puzzle pieces together, it now appears that, as it relates to the players who interacted for more than a year, Wells has all the pieces he needs in order to craft an account of what he believes did and/or didn’t transpire.
Visanthe Shiancoe is one-and-done as a member of the Titans.
With Walker expected to return and Craig Stevens expected to do more, the Titans didn’t need him any longer. But by coming in quickly, he’s also showing other teams with short-term needs that he’s available, and able to play immediately.
The Cardinals officially ended rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu’s season on Tuesday, placing the Honey Badger on injured reserve after he tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in last weekend’s victory over the Rams.
Injuring both ligaments at once can make for a more involved and more difficult rehab process, one that Mathieu said he is sure will “take its toll” on him over the next few months. Mathieu does not believe that part of that toll will be a recurrence of the off-field issues with marijuana that led to Mathieu’s departure from LSU and tumble into the third round of the draft.
“I take the things I have been through and you learn from those,” Mathieu said, via the team’s website. “As far as the off-field issues, I feel like I have those kind of things in the bag. I’m still continuing that process. This injury, in addition to what I have been through off the field, hopefully those things can come together and make me stronger and more of a leader. I’m not really interested in the negatives or if people have anything negative to say. That’s not really my mindset. Everything is going to be positive.”
Mathieu ends his first NFL season with 68 tackles, two interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble, numbers that should have him in the mix for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors even if the missed games cost him a chance to win it. It’s a blow to the Cardinals as they try to rally back into playoff position. Rashad Johnson will move into Mathieu’s starting spot and the team promoted safety Curtis Taylor from the practice squad to fill the open roster spot.
One of Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson’s first moves upon taking the job before the 2012 season was signing linebacker Jerrell Freeman away from the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.
Freeman has been a tackling machine in his 29 starts over the last two seasons for the Colts, which may be part of the reason why the team is reportedly set to take a look at another Saskatechewan product. Arash Madani of Sportsnet.ca reports that running back Kory Sheets, the MVP of this year’s Grey Cup, will work out for the team.
Sheets spent time with the 49ers in 2009 before moving onto the Dolphins later that season. He had one carry for five yards for Miami and then missed the 2010 season after injuring his Achilles in preseason. He went to Canada after getting released the next year. Sheets ran 287 times for 1,598 yards this season and added 197 yards and two touchdowns to help Saskatchewan to the title.
Sheets is out of contract with the Roughriders on February 15, so there won’t be any immediate signing in Indianapolis. There’s also plenty of time for other teams to take a look at a player who would earn a huge raise by landing a job on this side of the border.
The Washington Redskins placed running back Evan Royster on injured reserve Tuesday.
Royster suffered an ankle injury during the Redskins 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Royster appeared in 10 games for the Redskins this season playing primarily on special teams. Royster had just two carries for zero yards and one catch for three yards this season.
To replace Royster on the roster, the Redskins promoted running back Jawan Jamison from the practice squad.
Jamison carried 16 times for 54 yards for Washington during the preseason. He’s spent the season on the team’s practice squad.