The Denver Broncos are in desperate need of a pass rusher, as they have yet to sign Dwight Freeney. Mike Florio believes the Broncos could either take a pass rusher, a running back, or possibly a replacement for safety Rahim Moore.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Who should the Broncos draft?
Sean McVay and Les Snead wouldn’t speculate on whether Aaron Donald will report to training camp with his teammates Friday. But it’s a safe bet the Rams don’t expect their All-Pro defensive tackle to show up.
“These are delicate situations,” Snead, the team’s General Manager, said, via Myles Simmons of the team website. “I think you have to respect Aaron and his side in that business move. And it’s really, at that point, all about respect. And yes, we would love for him to be here, hope he’s here; [he] would help if he’s here. But if he decides not to, it’s a thing you have to respect from their group.”
Donald skipped the voluntary OTAs because of his contract situation. He has outplayed a contract scheduled to pay him $1.8 million in salary and $1.4 million in bonuses this season. The Rams exercised their fifth-year option, putting Donald in line for $6.9 million in 2018. But he wants a long-term deal that will pay him as the best player at his position.
Forty defensive tackles have higher averages than Donald, including the highest-paid, Ndamukong Suh, at $19.1 million per season.
Snead characterized the dialogue with Donald and his representatives as open.
“I think we’re working to find the resolution,” Snead said. “I don’t want to get into optimistic or pessimistic, because it’s a complicated situation, and [we] respect Aaron and his group. We’re working to try to find a win-win.”
New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has changed the defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4, but it won’t affect Donald much. As long as Donald is in the lineup for the start of the season, the Rams feel good. In the meantime, training camp will go on without him.
“I think, certainly, Aaron’s a great player,” McVay said. “He’s one of the best players in this league, especially at his position. But it’s one of those deals with the NFL — whether it’s guys not reporting or injuries for whatever matter — guys have to be able to step up. And we feel very confident in our defensive depth.”
The folks at PewterReport.com are characterizing former Buccaneers and Raiders coach Jon Gruden as saying he wants to return to coaching. The quote they’re supplying, however, doesn’t quite have that degree of clarity.
“I’ve met with several people — I won’t deny that,” Gruden said in a 40-minute interview with PewterReport.com. “Just about every year I talk about coming back to coach. I’m not in here every day at 4:30 or 4:00 in the morning watching pinball, you know? I’m preparing myself to come back. I am. Every day. I’m preparing to come back.”
Preparing to come back and wanting to come back are two different things. It could be that Gruden has the mindset of preparing to come back in order to help him be as good as he can be in the job he has.
“It helps me in my broadcasting and I think if you lose that edge . . . you can’t come back unless you are totally wired with college football, personnel, schemes, the CBA, how people are practicing, trends, you know?” Gruden said. “You’ve got stay on top of this stuff.”
Gruden has never shown a serious desire to coach in the eight years and counting since he became the founding member of the Fired Football Coaches Association. And, frankly, teams haven’t been banging down Gruden’s door in recent years. While all it takes is one to change that, in recent years the number has been zero.
Of course, this interview could be Gruden’s first step in getting the word out that 2018 will be the year of his return. If it is, he’ll be giving up a spot on Monday Night Football that likely won’t be kept warm for him by ESPN.
Then again, by the time Gruden is out of coaching again, there’s a good chance ESPN will no longer have Monday Night Football. So maybe he’s thinking about getting out before he potentially becomes the founding member of the Fired Football Broadcasters Association.
Three fights happened at Cowboys practice on Thursday. But no one will be held (hard gulp) accountable for it.
“What I saw was competitiveness,” Jones said regarding the trio of brouhahas, via Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It didn’t undermine our team concepts. I liked it.”
“It was a little spirited, particularly over there in the pass-rush drill, and you like that,” Garrett added. “You’d rather have to dial it back than constantly having to light a fire under these guys. Your guys are very passionate about football. They love to play and they love to work at it. Sometimes you get across the line, though. You’ve got to make sure they dial it back and focus on what they need to focus on, which is the next play.”
“We’ve been going at each other since OTAs, so when you go against the same guy for months at a time, stuff builds up,” Martin said. “We’ve got some great competition between the offensive and defensive line and we’re making each other better.”
The stuff blew up on Thursday, and it sounds like there will be more of it to come. In Oxnard and elsewhere.
Only three draft picks aren’t signed, and one of them is the third overall pick in the draft.
With the 49ers starting training-camp practice on Friday, the new brain trust in Santa Clara hopes that the deadline drives a decision.
“Yeah, we’re still working on that,” G.M. John Lynch told reporters on Thursday. “There’s been a lot of productive conversations here in the last couple of days. Just left some of those, and we’re hopeful that we can get this done in the necessary time. I think, I’m aware from experience as a player, and we all are in the business of football, that deadlines typically get these things done and we’re drawing close to that. And, like I said, hopeful that we can continue to make progress and tie this thing up so Solomon can be here with his teammates.”
There’s clearly a sense of urgency to get it done, as demonstrated by coach Kyle Shanahan.
“You want him there right away,” Shanahan said. “I’m pretty confident that we will get it done, but it’s part of the business. It’s something that you’ve got to deal with a little bit every year. That doesn’t always happen, but I think everyone who’s been in the business has been through it. You totally understand it and I think Solomon wants to be here as bad as anyone. I know we want him here as bad as anyone and I’m confident we will get it done, but can’t worry about it too much. I think it will end up being alright.”
It’s unclear why a deal hasn’t been done for Thomas, who’s in the same draft spot — and represented by the same firm — as Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa a year ago. For Bosa, the issues were guarantee offsets and signing-bonus cash flow. Which are basically the only two issues that can be negotiated under the rookie wage scale.
So it’s safe to assume that the 49ers and Thomas are squabbling about guarantee offsets, signing-bonus cash flow, or both.
Rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis practiced for the first time Thursday, relieved to be back at work instead of in a Michigan court room. An Ann Arbor jury found the Cowboys cornerback not guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence and assault and battery counts charges stemming from a March incident.
“I’m just elated to be out here and glad it’s over with,” Lewis said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Just excited that long, grueling process, that long period of time, is over. Get it behind me and come out here and play football.”
Lewis, 21, saw his draft stock fall with the trial looming. The Cowboys selected him in the third round and expect him to compete for a starting job.
“It definitely hurt on a national scale, a lot of people not knowing who I am and not knowing who I am as a person,” Lewis said. “It definitely hurt my feelings a little bit. I just forgive all parties for whatever happened. It’s just behind me, and I’m excited to get out here and play football.”
Lewis always maintained his innocence, declining to plead to a lesser charge.
“The alleged defendant is always the underdog,” Lewis said. “But just believing in myself and believing in the truth and believing in God is definitely some of the things that helped me go through this process.”
The Bucs waived rookie Evan Panfil with an injury designation to make room.
Trattou played in 37 games, with no starts, in six seasons. He spent 21/2 seasons with the Giants before moving on to the Vikings. Trattou played in all 16 games with the Vikings last season.
The 28-year-old has 13 career tackles and two interceptions.
Trattou started on Florida’s 2008 national championship team, making 27 tackles and four tackles for loss.
He gives the Bucs more short-term depth as several defensive ends recover from injury.
Panfil signed with the Bucs as an undrafted rookie out of Purdue. He worked with the team in OTAs and minicamp.
The Cardinals announced they have signed linebacker Philip Wheeler to a one-year deal.
Wheeler has played in 133 games, with 66 starts in nine seasons. He has played for the Colts (2008-11), Raiders (2012), Dolphins (2013-14), and Falcons (2015-16) during his career. In his career, he has 513 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 25 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 15 passes defensed.
Wheeler played the past two season with the Falcons, appearing in 28 games, including the postseason. He made one tackle in Super Bowl LI against the Patriots.
The 32-year-old entered the league with the Colts as a third-round selection in 2008. He has played in all 16 games in six different seasons in his career, including 2013 with the Dolphins when he started every game and had a career-high 118 tackles.
Texans running back D’Onta Foreman has a new court date in Austin, Texas. The date was moved from Monday to Aug. 30, attorney Chip Lewis told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
Foreman, a third-round pick from the University of Texas, told reporters Wednesday that Lewis is working to get marijuana and weapons charges dropped. Anything other than abandonment of the marijuana charges will result in a one-game suspension. If the weapons charges aren’t dropped, he could face other discipline.
Lewis has said the handgun found in Foreman’s car was legal, recently purchased by Foreman, registered in his name and properly secured inside the vehicle. The attorney said the marijuana belonged to the passenger in Foreman’s car.
“I definitely feel good about it,” Foreman said Wednesday. “My lawyer is great. He’s doing everything possible to get everything dropped, and like I said, I’m innocent and I feel like — it’s the truth, I am innocent — so we’re looking forward to getting everything dropped and everything will take care of itself.”
T.J. Ward enters the final year of his contract not knowing whether this marks his final season in Denver. But the safety isn’t thinking about the future as training camp begins.
“”When it comes to my contract, I am trying to do everything I did before getting my last deal,” Ward said, via Troy Renck of Denver’s ABC affiliate. “I am just trying to play my best football. Last year was a disappointment for me and for the team. I am just trying to have a much better season, regardless of the contract. You can throw all that to the side. I am here playing football and trying to be the best football player, and the best player in the league.”
Ward signed a four-year, $22.5 million deal with the Broncos in 2014 after four years in Cleveland. The sides have had no recent talks on an extension, according to Renck.
Ward, 30, made the Pro Bowl for three consecutive seasons from 2013-15. Last season, he made 87 tackles, one sack and one interception, missing the final two games with injury. Ward hopes to return to his Pro Bowl form, which obviously will help him in contract negotiations either with the Broncos or once he hits free agency.
“We went 9-7; it wasn’t my best season; I got hurt,” Ward said. “It’s a bunch of stuff. That’s what I am looking at.”
Owner John Mara said recently that the Giants “certainly don’t want to see” Odell Beckham playing for anyone but them and it appears Beckham wants the team to pay handsomely for the right to keep him in Jersey.
Beckham spoke to Uninterrupted this week about a variety of topics, including his contractual future in the NFL. Beckham said that a forthcoming second NFL deal wasn’t on his mind when he reported to minicamp after skipping the voluntary portion of the team’s offseason program, but now admits that he’s set a lofty goal on that front.
“It’s like the elephant in the room, and you don’t want to talk about it but I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I’m like, ‘No, I’m going to … there’s no need to not talk about it,'” Beckham said. “I believe that I will be hopefully not just the highest-paid receiver in the league, but the highest paid, period.”
Unless Mara has a strong desire to make good on Beckham’s dream, it seems unlikely that Beckham will realize that goal. Quarterbacks dominate the list of top-paid players in the league and the exceptions are usually tasked with sacking those well-paid signal callers. The top-paid wideouts in the league right now — Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas — have deals averaging between $14-17 million per season. That pales in comparison to the best-paid players overall and there’s not much cause for Beckham to leave them well behind even if he does go to the top of the receiver list.
The Giants exercised their option on Beckham’s contract for 2018 and they will then have the franchise tag at their disposal, so there’s not much immediate fear that they’ll lose him if he pushes to make his hope become reality. That said, it should be interesting to see how things play out from here given the parameters Beckham would like to set for his future compensation.
The Cardinals signed tight end Gerald Christian to a one-year contract, releasing tight end Steven Wroblewski to make room.
Arizona also announced it had reached injury settlements with linebacker Tevin Floyd (hamstring) and cornerback Jumal Rolle (hamstring).
Christian returns to the Cardinals, who made him a seventh-round choice in the 2015 draft out of Louisville. As the final pick of the draft that year, Christian earned the title of Mr. Irrelevant.
Christian was in training camp with the Cardinals last year before the team released him Aug. 29.
He played in three games with Buffalo last season and had one reception for 14 yards after splitting the season between the Bills’ active roster and practice squad. Christian was released by the Bills on March 6.
Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins avoided the physically unable to perform list to start camp, but he’s not ready for a full workload yet.
Watkins had foot surgery this offseason and coach Sean McDermott said on Thursday that the team has put together a plan to monitor Watkins’ workload in hopes of avoiding more problems in the future.
“We’ve put together a rep count that will build up and at times come down a little bit just based off of the plan from the outset,” McDermott said, via the team’s website. “But we’ve got to be flexible with that and see how he feels and that starts tonight.”
Watkins’ ability to stay healthy is important to the Buffalo offense and to Watkins, who is entering the final year of his contract after the team opted not to exercise their option on his contract for 2018.
Left tackle Cordy Glenn doesn’t have the same contract issue, but he’s in the same boat as Watkins when it comes to his workload early in camp. Ankle issues cost him five games last year and McDermott said his reps will also be managed closely as the Bills get to work this summer.
The Cowboys drafted Street in the fifth round in 2014. He spent two seasons in Dallas, playing in 30 games, mostly on special teams. He made nine catches for 132 yards and a touchdown with the Cowboys.
Dallas waived Street last year coming out of the preseason, and the Patriots signed him to their practice squad. He didn’t last long in New England, and the Colts added him to their active roster. Indianapolis released him before this year’s draft.
The Patriots claimed Street and then released him, and he signed with the Jets early last month.
Street, 26, played in five games with the Colts last season, making one catch for 20 yards.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning will have his workload reduced in training camp, General Manager Jerry Reese said Thursday.
“Eli has to take care of himself and get himself ready to play mentally and physically,” Reese said, via Michael Eisen of the team website. “When guys get up in age, you have to take care of them. There are a few guys on the squad that coach [Ben] McAdoo and our staff, we’ve talked about, ‘Okay, let’s make sure these guys get to the game, get to the season.’ You’ve got to protect them in some ways. Each one of those guys you want to protect, along with a few more guys, older guys, you want to protect.”
Manning, 36, enters his 14th season having started 211 consecutive games, including the posteseason. He has thrown 7,225 career passes in regular-season and postseason games. So putting him on a training camp “pitch count” makes sense.
“You can call it a pitch count,” Reese said. “You can frame it like that; you can frame it however you like. That’s a good way to frame it if you like.”
The Giants can expect push back from Manning, who prefers to make most of the snaps in practice. But he threw 598 passes in the 2016 regular season, the third-highest total of his career, and another 44 in the playoffs.
Reese pointed to Tony Romo’s practice schedule in 2014 when the Cowboys quarterback was returning from back surgery. Romo didn’t practice on Wednesdays during the regular season and had the best season of his career, leading the league in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating.
“I think it is just commonsense,” Reese said. “You see it all around the National Football League. I think Romo, one year there was one day where he never practiced. I think it was on a Wednesday or something like that. You see it all over the league with older players; coaches give them some time off or some reps off. We have some older players at different positions that we want to have fresh going into the games and the latter part of this season and again hopefully the playoffs.”
According to multiple reports, the Broncos will sign Stevan Ridley to help make up for the absence of Booker.
Ridley played one game for the Falcons last season and ran the ball three times for seven yards. He spent 2015 with the Jets, playing in eight games after recovering from a torn ACL suffered while playing for the Patriots in 2014. Ridley spent four seasons in New England and set personal bests with 290 carries for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns.
If Booker’s recovery progresses as expected and Jamaal Charles shows he has something left in the tank, there probably won’t be space for Ridley on the Broncos roster come September. Should things go the other way on either of those fronts, however, Ridley may be able to find a role in Denver this year.