Former Pro Bowler and now Draftnasty.com expert Corey Chavous joins PFT to discuss if his off-season trouble will affect Alec Ogletree’s draft stock, and how E.J. Manuel will make the Texans playoff favorites.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Manuel the first QB off the board?
Reports out of Cleveland this offseason that the Browns have given up on Johnny Manziel were unfounded, according to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
“Despite what everybody reads and says, we’ve not at all given up on Johnny,” Haslam said, via Cleveland.com. “We think he has the potential to be a good football player. Now, having the potential and doing it are two different things, but I think we’ve said numerous times that you’re not going to win consistently in this league without a good quarterback and we’re trying to make that happen.”
Haslam said the Browns are willing to be patient with Manziel and wait for him to be their starter. Josh McCown is expected to start this year, although Browns coach Mike Pettine has said McCown isn’t just being handed the job.
“I think it’s important — everybody forgets he’s barely 22 years old,” said Haslam. “He’s still young, so I think over the next couple of years we’ve got to see if Johnny can be a legitimate quarterback or not. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him or our coaches to say it has to happen this year.”
Still, if Manziel doesn’t show anything this year, that would be two seasons in which he gave the Browns nothing. That’s not what they thought they were getting when they chose him in the first round of the 2014 draft. At some point, Manziel has to show he can play, or the Browns really will give up on him.
With the inevitable launch of training camps comes the inevitable parade of injuries. For the Jets, it turns out that the broken ribs suffered by rookie receiver Devin Smith also include damage to an internal organ.
Via Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, Smith suffered a “slightly” punctured lung as part of the injury that occurred after making a leaping catch at training camp.
His status for the regular-season opener against the Browns remains unknown. He’s expected to at least miss the rest of camp.
Eli Manning isn’t interested in that approach.
“No, I’m not into the comparison about how much money you’re making,’’ Manning said Friday, via Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “That’s not my concern.’’
So what is his concern?
“Right now my concern is getting on this practice field for our first practice,” Manning said before the team’s initial session of training camp. “I’m excited about that and just let the business side of it just work itself out.”
Instead, he’s worried about a different set of numbers.
“Our goal is to try to get 27 to 30 points per game,” Manning said.
Another key number is 70. That’s the percentage of passes he hopes to complete. (Last year he connects on 63.1 percent.)
Before any of that happens, Manning and the Giants could indeed work out a new contract. Wherever the process ends, it begins with Aaron Rodgers at $22 million per year in new money, and with Wilson right behind Rodgers at $21.9 million per year in new money.
With $17 million already due in 2015, Manning would need a five-year, $105 million deal to match Rodgers. Anything more than that would make Eli Manning the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL — and highest-paid player in league history.
Broncos receiver Kyle Williams suffered a season-ending injury at today’s training camp practice.
Williams has confirmed that he tore his Achilles and won’t play in 2015.
“Unfortunately, today I suffered an injury to my Achilles and will consequently be missing this season,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “It’s hard for me at this point to make sense of all of this but at the end of the day I understand and trust God’s plan for me. My determination to get back and my work ethic will not diminish and I will eventually get back to full strength. I appreciate all those who have reached out and all of those who are praying. You all mean more to me than u know. Thank you.”
Williams’s long injury history makes it questionable whether he’ll be able to make it back to the NFL. His 2013 season ended with a torn ACL, and in 2014 he didn’t play beyond the preseason after suffering a shoulder injury.
Bills coach Rex Ryan says he’d do his job for “a heck of a lot less [money]; way, way, way less.”
For the Dolphins, when the pads come on the focus turns to the battle at left guard.
The Jets may have “personal agendas” interfering with success, based on comments on Friday from former head coach Rex Ryan.
Steve Smith could be the 2015 punt returner for the Ravens.
The Steelers are focusing on their kickoff return unit in training camp.
Here are five priorities for the Colts during training camp.
Titans NT Sammie Hill says he’ll likely sit out the first week or two of camp due to a sprained knee suffered during offseason workouts.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly wants a bigger indoor practice facility. (And there’s one of the reasons he’ll potentially cite if/when he tries to finagle a jump to Tennessee after the season.)
A mere 3,341 fans showed up for the first day of training camp practice for Washington.
Bears DE-turned-LB Willie Young “doesn’t know anything” about his new position, but he’s “ready for whatever”; “I go fishing and the forecast says it isn’t going to rain, but it might rain,” Young said.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell has no concerns about the right tackle situation.
Vikings DE Everson Griffen has big goals; “I want to be the world. But it’s up to me to put in the consistency and the hard work, starting right now, to get where I want to go. I want to be great, so Hall of Fame, I’ve got to work.”
Seahawks DE Michael Bennett is focused on becoming a team leader.
Jacqueline Davidson, who has spent nine years working in the NFL, has been promoted by the Jets to the position of director of football administration.
Davidson will replace Rod Graves, who recently left the Jets’ front office to take a position in the league office.
During her tenure with the Jets, Davidson has been the team’s top negotiator on player contracts, and she received credit this offseason when the Jets landed one of the biggest prizes in free agency, Darrelle Reivs. Davidson’s responsibilities also include managing the salary cap and ensuring that the team complies with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and league personnel rules.
“Jackie has served as an integral part of our football administration efforts under Rod Graves this offseason,” Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan said. “She’s bright and talented and she has earned this opportunity.”
The appointment makes Davidson one of the highest-ranking women to work in an NFL front office. Along with the hiring of Jen Welter as a Cardinals assistant, Beth Mowins as the Raiders’ play-by-play voice and Sarah Thomas as an official, this news points to positive progress in the NFL.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton played in the celebrity softball game held in conjunction with the All-Star Week festivities in Cincinnati. He heard boos. He prefers to focus on the cheers.
“They didn’t boo when I hit my two home runs,” Dalton said Friday, via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I think I heard lots of cheers. I think that whole thing, it wasn’t everybody. I think if you look at a video or two it makes it seem like it’s more than it was.
“There’s a lot of loyal fans, a lot of people that have backed me and have supported me. That’s all I’ve heard. So it’s unfortunate that was the reaction, initially, but after hitting a couple home runs it was a lot of cheers.”
In Dalton’s fifth NFL season with no playoff wins, the real question is whether there will be cheers in January — or justifiable boos before then.
Broncos receiver Kyle Williams’s bad luck with injuries has continued.
Williams was carted off the practice field at training camp in Denver today after suffering an apparent right knee injury while returning a punt.
In 2013, Williams suffered a torn ACL in his first game with the Chiefs. In 2014, Williams suffered a shoulder injury in the Chiefs’ final preseason game and didn’t make the regular-season roster.
Williams was once viewed as a promising young receiver and special teams player for the 49ers, but his inability to stay healthy may cut his career short.
Bernard Pollard and Tom Brady aren’t exactly simpatico. It was Pollard who ended Brady’s 2008 season with a Week One shot to the knee, and Pollard and Brady have clashed in other games as well.
But when it comes down to Brady vs. Roger Goodell, Pollard takes Brady’s side.
“I do not like Tom Brady as a competitor, somebody that’s playing against him because he is a competitive player. I respect the piss out of him because the guy knows how to win. The guy, you can say whatever you want about him, but he is a true champion,” Pollard said on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Pollard says he suspects that other quarterbacks have thrown deflated footballs and just haven’t been caught, and Pollard doesn’t believe a four-game suspension is appropriate.
“Do I feel that he should be suspended four games? I’m going to tell you, no,” he said. “This dude is a competitor, man. I don’t think he should’ve been suspended for four games. But I’m not the commissioner, I’m not on that committee that suspended him, and I know he’s going to fight tooth and nail like he does on the field to get back on the field with his team.”
Brady isn’t done fighting to get back on the field. And even some of the opponents who don’t like him are rooting for him to win his fight against Goodell.
In the aftermath of the news that the Seahawks had signed quarterback Russell Wilson to a new deal, many said, “I knew it. The Seahawks won’t never let Wilson get away.” This implies that the Seahawks blinked, making Wilson the highest-paid player in the NFL and/or paying him as if he were already a free agent and/or fully guaranteeing an enormous percentage of the contract.
The Seahawks didn’t blink.
Apart from the fact that the Seahawks will pay Wilson considerably less now than they would have paid Wilson if he had gotten to February healthy and effective (and possibly with another Super Bowl appearance or win), the Seahawks won convincingly on the much-discussed topic of guaranteed money.
Like many big-dollar contracts without big amounts of fully-guaranteed money, initial reports mentioned Wilson’s guaranteed payout of $60 million without specifying how much of it is fully guaranteed at signing, beyond the signing bonus and the first-year base salary. In this case, that’s because none of the amount is fully-guaranteed beyond the signing bonus and the first-year base salary.
Per a source with knowledge of the terms, the $31 million signing bonus and the $700,000 base salary for 2014 are fully guaranteed. The rest of the guaranteed money is guaranteed for injury only.
Which makes it not really “guaranteed.”
On the fifth day of the 2016 waiver period, Wilson’s $12.342 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed. On the fifth day of the 2017 waiver period, Wilson’s $12.6 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed. On the fifth day of the 2018 waiver period, $4.9 million of Wilson’s base salary of $15.5 million becomes fully-guaranteed.
It means that $31.7 million is fully guaranteed at signing, and that another $29.842 million is guaranteed only for injury at signing. It also means that Seahawks owner Paul Allen won’t have to place any portion of the future injury-guaranteed money into escrow.
For Wilson, he swapped a $1.542 million base salary for 2015 and the possibility of getting a lot more later for a fairly large bird in the hand now. Whether it’s viewed as $21.9 million per year in new money or $17.8 million per year in total value, it’s a lot more than Wilson has made in three NFL seasons. And it was the smart and prudent choice to make.
Besides, if he’d decided to finish the rookie contract and push for more in 2016, at some point he would have risked alienating fans who may have perceived him as selfish. Even though players should grab every last dollar they can while they can, it remains a team sport. And if a player is going to work hard (i.e., “Go ‘Hawks!”) to create the impression that he puts the team above himself, it becomes awkward if it appears that he’s putting himself above the team.
As to the guaranteed money, the reality is that franchise quarterbacks typically cash every check of their contracts, regardless of whether the money is fully guaranteed. Barring developments unforeseen and unlikely, Wilson will be with the Seahawks through 2019 — and probably beyond.
It’s unclear whether tight end Orson Charles will make the opening-day roster with the Saints. If he does, he won’t be playing in Week One.
Via the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the NFL has suspended Charles one game for violating the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.
The suspension arises from a March 2014 incident, in which Charles pointed a gun (three times, allegedly) at another driver who had made an obscene gesture. Charles was under contract with the Bengals at the time; they cut him in August, and Charles then joined the New Orleans practice squad.
He received probation after pleading guilty in February to wanton endangerment.
Because the incident happened before the NFL revised the Personal Conduct Policy, the punishment possibly was less than it would have been if the incident had occurred after the policy changed.
Some judges don’t get directly involved in trying to settle a case. Some do.
And some of the judges who get directly involved in the efforts to settle a case make it very clear to the parties that the judge is determined to settle the case. When that happens, the case usually settles.
In 18 years of practicing law, I never saw an order like the one Judge Richard M. Berman issued to the NFL and the NFLPA on Friday. Below, I’ll explain how I would interpret it, if I was representing either the NFL or the NFLPA in this case.
Posted on Twitter by Raffi Melkonian, a Texas lawyer who has been posting various court filings to date in the case, the full order reads as follows:
“Thank you for your letter, dated July 31, 2015. I found it helpful. It is ‘OK’ to file a public version of the answer and counterclaim as you request. I always have considerable difficulty approving any sealed documents, given the keen public interest in these matters and the public’s right to know. It’s up to you whether to file any sealed motions or sealed document applications at this time.
“I have two further suggestions. First, because I already have a good understanding of your positions from your submissions to date, you need only each file a 15 page double spaced memo (further supporting your positions) by August 7, 2015. In the nature of a reply brief, perhaps.
“Second, I am scheduling a status/settlement conference for Wednesday, August 12, 2015 at 11:00 a.m., with your principals (including, without limitation, Mr. Goodell and Mr. Brady). Let’s see what we can accomplish at that conference and if there is a need for more written submissions, the August 14, 2015 submission date you propose is fine.
“I am also scheduling a status/settlement/oral argument conference for Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 10:00 a.m., again with your principals (including, without limitation, Mr. Goodell and Mr. Brady). Please jointly confirm all dates by 3:00 p.m. on Monday, August 3, 2015. . . .
“Lastly, I request that you all engage in comprehensive, good-faith settlement discussions prior to the conference on August 12, 2015. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis, IV is available to assist you if you wish.”
First, it’s clear that the judge has been studying the case and knows the issues. He probably already has an idea regarding how he would rule on the case; there’s really not much either side can do to change his mind in only 15, double-spaced pages.
Second, he’s determined to get the case settled. By directing the two sides to engage in “comprehensive, good-faith settlement discussions” before the first of not one but two settlement conferences with Judge Berman presiding, he expects the parties to arrive at the first conference with their latest settlement positions clearly established (e.g., NFL at a two-game suspension and an acknowledgement of guilt and Brady at a two-game fine and no acknowledgement of guilt). At that point, Judge Berman will then have two opportunities to pressure the side that needs to be pressured the most (and it possibly will be both sides that need pressure) to resolve the case before he issues a ruling.
Third, the invitation to utilize the services of Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV to assist in any settlement talks before August 12 isn’t an invitation. If they don’t take Judge Berman up on the offer, he won’t be happy — unless they can settle the case without using Judge Francis as the facilitator/mediator of settlement discussions over the next 11 days.
Fourth, and as surmised on Friday, Judge Berman expects Goodell and Brady to appear in court for both conferences on August 12 and 19. Whoever resists showing up on either of those days does so at his own peril.
For Brady, it will mean missing two days of work. Although the team’s training-camp schedule hasn’t been announced beyond August 3, August 12 comes one day before the preseason opener against the Packers, at Gillette Stadium. On August 19, the Patriots will be in the middle of a three-day visit to West Virginia, for joint practices with the Saints.
For Goodell, it will mean shuffling whatever schedule he already has in place for those days. The NFL’s lawyers will likely tell him that nothing is more important than showing up for the conferences with Judge Berman.
Fifth, it’s clear that Judge Berman won’t be inclined to keep any documents under seal, based on this sentence: “I always have considerable difficulty approving any sealed documents, given the keen public interest in these matters and the public’s right to know.” In other words, the full transcript of the Tom Brady appeal hearing eventually will be released, if the case isn’t settled.
That’s a win for the NFLPA and Brady. Although the NFL would say that the parties agreed to seal the transcript, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the NFLPA agreed to seal the transcript at the insistence of the NFL.
The best way to keep the transcript from ever being released to the public (barring a leak) would be to settle the case before the judge has to decide whether to approve the filing of the transcript under seal. And Judge Berman knows that. And now the NFL and NFLPA know that he knows that.
I’m tempted to think the case could settle this week, without Goodell and Brady having to appear before Judge Berman. But if the two sides are at an impasse over whether a settlement would include a suspension of any duration, it won’t be easy to break that log jam without getting an idea of how Judge Berman feels about what amounts to an all-or-nothing proposition in court.
Eventually, Judge Berman may have to privately inform the side against which he’s inclined to rule that it will either accept the best deal it can get, or it will get nothing and like it.
The Cowboys ran the ball more than 30 times a game last season, and DeMarco Murray got most of the work, with an NFL-high 392 carries for 1,845 yards. With Murray now in Philadelphia, will the Cowboys’ commitment to the run change?
Not according to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who says one player — even a player as good as Murray — wasn’t the reason the Cowboys ran the ball so often last year.
“Yeah, that’s not going to change,” Linehan said on KRLD, via the Dallas Morning News. “And that was by design – we talked about it extensively, Jason [Garrett] and I did . . . wanted to get back to a little bit of the ‘old’ Cowboys. . . . DeMarco had a lot to do with that. Obviously, we have a tremendous offensive line, tight end group, and the support group around him, but it will be a really fun challenge for us to duplicate that.”
If Linehan is really as committed to the run as he was a year ago, then Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden are going to get a lot of carries this year. Behind the Cowboys’ offensive line, they may be as effective as Murray.
The Seattle Seahawks are currently without both of their All-Pro safeties for the start of training camp.
While Kam Chancellor is holding out in hopes of leveraging a new contract, free safety Earl Thomas was among six players placed on the physically unable to perform and non-football injury/illness lists by the Seahawks on Friday.
Thomas is still recovering from offseason surgery to repair the torn labrum suffered in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers.
“We’re going to be really patient at this time of year,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “Not jump to a decision. He’s working hard, making great progress. We’ll wait and see how long it takes to be safe and secure before he goes out. He plays with such reckless abandon that he’s got to be ready to go 100 percent.”
In addition, the team placed receiver Paul Richardson, and cornerbacks Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon were also placed on the physically unable to perform list. Safety Dion Bailey was placed on the non-football injury list with a hamstring issue and defensive tackle was placed on the non-football illness list as he recovers from kidney cancer.
Richardson tore his ACL against the Carolina Panthers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Lane tore his ACL three weeks later in the Super Bowl and also suffered a broken arm that is still problematic as well.
Richardson is ahead of schedule with his recovery. However, Lane isn’t nearly as far along.
Simon has a shoulder injury but is expected to be able to take part in the preseason.
Players can be activated from the PUP and NFI lists at any time during the preseason.
While Wilson’s contract eats up a sizable portion of Seattle’s remaining salary cap for this season, head coach Pete Carroll was adamant that it doesn’t preclude the Seahawks from signing Wagner to an extension as well.
“We’re still working, got big stuff to do today. We’re still working. We’re not finished, in case you were wondering,” Carroll said.
“We’re on it. Whoever thought that we were done with that thing that was not right. We’re on it and we’re going to keep competing to get that done. We have planned for this for a long time and nothing has changed in all that. Our guys are working at it by the hour here.”
Wagner expressed support for Wilson in his new contract, saying he was “proud and happy” for Wilson. However, Wagner appeared sufficiently upset that he was still without a new deal himself.
“It could be done, it could not be done. When I have something to sign than it will be done,” Wagner said.
Wilson and agent Mark Rodgers set a Friday deadline for negotiations for his new deal. Does Wagner have a deadline of his own in mind?
“Now. That’s my deadline,” he said.
Per the NFLPA, the Seahawks had $9.2 million in cap space before Wilson’s contract was done. Wilson’s new deal lowers Seattle’s cap room to just under $4 million. That alone could be enough to get a deal done with Wagner.
However, the salary cap is only calculated off the Top 51 contracts in the offseason. In-season, it counts all 53 active roster players, practice squad, injured reserve, PUP/NFI, etc. So effectively, the Seahawks don’t have that much usable cap space.
If Seattle were to get Wagner done, it could necessitate the need to part with other veteran players to get under the salary cap before Week 1.