Mike Florio takes a look at some of the current issues in the NFL. Florio wonders if the Redskins have multiple primetime games because the NFL has been reassured that Griffin will be healthy. Should Jimmy Haslam take part in the draft process for the Browns? Did DeAndre Hopkins and Mark Harrison hurt their draft stock with hotel room incident?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Is Haslam hurting the Browns?
The headliner at Candlestick’s Park final concert is a legendary musical performer who has some experience playing at the soon-to-be closed stadium.
The show, according to PaulMcCartney.com, has been tabbed “Farewell to Candlestick: The Final Concert.”
PaulMcCartney.com bills itself as the “Official Website” of the 72-year-old performer.
Earlier this month, the San Francisco Chronicle had reported that the 49ers had wanted McCartney to perform the first show at Levi’s Stadium.
According to McCartney’s website, The Beatles’ final concert was at Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says the Houston Texans have only one option with the first overall pick in the NFL draft: Select former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
“Yeah, I think you have to,” Spurrier said when asked by Dan Patrick if the Texans should take Clowney.
Spurrier said if there was a franchise quarterback like Andrew Luck in this draft, it might be a different story. But Spurrier doesn’t believe any of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft is that kind of elite talent, and as a result he says CLowney is the clear choice.
“He’s a really good football player, and obviously pass rushing is what he does best,” Spurrier said. “He’s a pass rusher like nobody I think I’ve ever seen in college football.”
Spurrier has been candid about Clowney not always having the best work ethic, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s no question about who the most talented player in this draft is. That’s Clowney.
Linebacker Josh Hull was released by the Redskins earlier this month, but it looks like he’s landed a new job.
Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that the Patriots have signed Hull to a one-year deal.
No financial terms were disclosed, but it is unlikely that Hull got more than the minimum salary for a player with four years in the league. Hull had 14 tackles in 11 games for the Redskins last year in a special teams role. The 2010 seventh-round pick also played 28 games for the Rams before they cut him at the end of the summer.
His work in St. Louis was mostly on special teams as well, so you’d expect that New England will be asking him to compete for a role on those units in 2014.
It seems like the Scouting Combine was forever ago, but some prospects are heading back to Indianapolis for one of the final steps in the pre-draft process.
According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton is among a group of players going back to Indy for a medical re-check.
Players are given vigorous and thorough examinations at the Combine, and teams view those checks as the main benefit of the event. Any players with red flags then are brought back in for a re-check later.
Crichton had a stinger, which was the reason he has to head back, but said he had no serious neck issues.
Assuming the physical confirms that, Crichton could be a second-round selection.
The NFL Draft kicks off two weeks from tonight and we’ll be looking ahead to it on Thursday’s PFT Live.
Former NFL defensive back Corey Chavous of DraftNasty.com will join Mike Florio to break down the latest about what he’s hearing about how things will play out over three days next month. They’ll take a look at players who could go earlier and later than expected, profile some lesser known prospects and more when Chavous drops by the show.
The NFL schedule was released on Wednesday night and we’d like to hear what PFT Planet thinks about it, the draft and everything else in the NFL. Florio will be responding to those thoughts during the show, so send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 to share what’s on your mind.
Whether you have a question or not, it all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.
Now, Sherman is singing a different tune.
In January, in an item that he wrote for TheMMQB.com, Sherman suggested that he’d be turning a new leaf when it comes to verbally tearing opponents a new orifice.
“No one has ever made himself great by showing how small someone else is,” Sherman wrote at the time. “That’s not mine. It belongs to Irvin Himmel. Somebody tweeted it at me after the NFC Championship Game. If I could pass a lesson on to the kids it would be this: Don’t attack anybody. I shouldn’t have attacked Michael Crabtree the way I did. You don’t have to put anybody else down to make yourself bigger.”
On Wednesday, Sherman expressed no remorse for his verbal assault on Crabtree.
“I don’t regret anything,” Sherman said during a panel discussion at Harvard Business School, via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. “People said I had no class. What is class in sports? What exactly is it? Do I say great game and go cookie cutter? No. I don’t think he played a great game. . . . If it was Larry [Fitzgerald], and the same situation happened, I wouldn’t have said a thing. Because I respect Larry.”
So which is it, Richard? Have you learned not to put someone else down? Or would you — and will you — do it again, to Crabtree and others whom you deem to be unworthy of your respect?
Often inappropriately, Sherman has been called many things in recent months. One thing he can’t currently be called is consistent.
Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar says concussions suffered during his NFL career have caused him to develop a speech problem, which in turn led to his dismissal as the color commentator for Browns preseason games.
“I was informed yesterday by the Cleveland Browns and WKYC that I have been replaced as a 2014 preseason game day color commentator,” Kosar said in a statement, via Tom Reed of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I believe that this decision stems from my slurred speech impairment, which is a direct result of the many concussions I received while playing in the NFL.”
Kosar’s slurred speech was noticeable when he was hired for the job, however, which raises the question of why he would get fired for it now if the Browns and WKYC didn’t have any problem with his speech at the time they hired him. It seems much more likely that Kosar’s unprofessional comments during a preseason game last year, and the DUI Kosar got a month later, caused the Browns and WKYC to conclude that he’s not someone they want representing them.
But Kosar believes he’s the right person for the job.
“I would hope that WKYC would reconsider utilizing my in-game talents and overlook my concussion-induced impairment,” Kosar said.
That’s probably not going to happen. But Kosar’s comments will, if nothing else, cause the lawyers for the Browns and the NFL to take notice: At a time when concussion litigation is a major concern in pro football, this is a prominent former player claiming that concussions are costing him the opportunity to make a living now that his playing days are over.
Several players picked in the first round of the 2011 draft have already found out whether or not their teams will be exercising options for the fifth year of their contracts by May 3, but others are still waiting to see what will happen.
Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor is in the latter group and he knows what he wants the Browns to do. Taylor would like to have his option, which would set him up to make about $5.5 million, exercised so that he can remain in Cleveland.
“I would love to be here, but that’s not up to me,” Taylor said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “So we’re going to wait and see what [the front office] is going to do about it.”
Taylor started 15 games last season, but only played 555 snaps as a two-down player used to thwart opposing running games. The switch to Mike Pettine as head coach will bring a different defensive look and could bring Taylor more playing time, but, obviously, Cleveland has to make a call on Taylor before they see how he fits into the new scheme. That option is guaranteed against injury only, which gives the Browns some flexibility but they may prefer the freedom to hold off on any call until the season has played out.
The CFL has popped up on our radar a few times in recent weeks.
Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco is trying to keep his professional football career going in Montreal and he may be catching passes from former Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, who is trying to get his own pro career going after being ignored by the NFL last year. The Alouettes aren’t the only team adding familiar names to their roster, though.
The Edmonton Eskimos signed former West Virginia and Dolphins quarterback Pat White last month and now one of his former college teammates has also decided to try his luck in the land of poutine and Labatt’s.
The Toronto Argonauts have announced the signing of former Texans and Dolphins running back Steve Slaton. Slaton’s career started with a bang — 1,282 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns as a rookie for the Texans in 2008, but lost his starting job the next year and it has been a while since we’ve seen Slaton on the field. He was let go by the Dolphins before the start of the 2012 season and wasn’t part of a team in 2013 either, leaving the 28-year-old with few options that didn’t include using his passport.
Slaton joins former Falcon Jerious Norwood in the backfield for the Argonauts.
One of the many areas for potential pissing and moaning about the perceived unfairness of the schedule comes from the bye weeks. Specifically, from the teams that have to play multiple other teams who had two weeks to prepare for the game.
This year, the bye week short straw goes to the Colts, who face three different teams after those teams had bye weeks.
Specifically, the Colts face the Giants after their Week Eight bye, the Patriots after their Week 10 bye, and the Jaguars after their Week 11 bye. The good news/bad news for the Colts is that they also have a Week 10 bye, which means that the Pats won’t have an advantage when it comes to preparation. Of course, this means that the Colts won’t get two weeks to prepare for a team that has only one week to get ready to face the Colts.
The Colts have a fourth situation in which an opponent has extra time to get ready. Ten days before their Week 17 game at Tennessee, the Titans play on a Thursday night.
Other teams with multiple post-bye opponents include the Patriots (Bengals and Colts), the Chargers (Chiefs and Raiders in consecutive weeks), the Packers (Dolphins and Bears), the Bears (Packers and Vikings in consecutive weeks), the Vikings (Panthers and Buccaneers), the Buccaneers (Redskins and Falcons), the Saints (Ravens and Steelers), and the Cardinals (Broncos and Eagles).
With eight teams facing two teams each after byes and the Colts facing three, that leaves 10 teams who’ll play the full season without facing a team that had two weeks to get ready. They are the Jets, Bengals, Steelers, Jaguars, Texans, Cowboys, Falcons, Panthers, Seahawks, and 49ers.
Yes, the Seahawks and the 49ers, regarded by many as the best two teams in the NFL, won’t have to face a team that had a week to prepare until, at the earliest, the divisional round of the playoffs. If/when (when) they both make it that far.
After 21 seasons as the Lions’ kicker, Jason Hanson retired in 2013. Now he’s back. Sort of.
The 43-year-old Hanson would probably be a better option than either of the two kickers currently under contract to the Lions, John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio. But when the Lions brought Hanson to their minicamp this week, it wasn’t to lure him out of retirement. It was because special teams coordinator John Bonamego wanted to get Hanson’s perspective on how the Lions’ two young kickers looked.
“He just wanted another set of eyes for the guys they want to kick,” Hanson told the Lions’ website. “He wanted my opinion – somebody else to give feedback to him. They have a short time to look at the guys, to see if they feel they have the guys they want or if they want to look at other people. . . . I appreciate that he wants another set of eyes. While I’m out there, they’re asking me stuff. I’m glad to help them any way I can.”
Hanson added, however, that there’s only so much you can tell from watching a kicker at a minicamp. After all, there are lots of guys who can boot 50-plus-yard field goals in practice. The key is finding a kicker who can do it consistently, when a game is on the line.
“Here’s the problem: everybody’s good,” Hanson said. “If you brought them in, they’re good.”
Unfortunately for the Lions, it’s unlikely they’ll find any kicker as good as Hanson, one of the best in NFL history.
The Falcons’ dismal 2013 season was marked by injuries to several of their key players, including linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
Weatherspoon missed seven games with a foot injury that put him on injured reserve for half the season and then he missed the final two weeks of the season after hurting his right knee. Weatherspoon didn’t need surgery, but he had platelet rich plasma therapy and said that the team is easing him back into the mix because he hasn’t fully recovered from the knee injury at this point.
“I’m feeling good. It’s been a process,” Weatherspoon said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “The season was rough. I’ve been feeling pretty good, though. I’ve been working with the training staff non-stop, about four or five days a week. Just been getting after it, doing whatever I can do to get my body feeling good so I can, you know, get back to where I’m feeling where I’m at my top [form]. … I feel, I would say, probably 80 percent. I’m working hard and just looking forward to getting back to 100 [percent].”
The Falcons are taking a similarly restrained approach with wide receiver Julio Jones‘ return from last year’s foot injury and getting both players back to full speed in time for next season will be vital to their chances of bouncing back into the playoff mix.
There are overhauls, and then there’s what the Buccaneers did to the roster this offseason.
The Bucs hired a new General Manager (Jason Licht) and a new coach (Lovie Smith), dumped their most expensive player (Darrelle Revis) and a talented-but-troubled wide receiver (Mike Williams).
They also brought in free agents in droves, giving the team a new look to go with their new uniforms.
With Josh McCown in place at quarterback, the Bucs might use their top pick to fill other needs, but franchise passers are hard to pass, if they think this class contains one.
They do have sufficient needs that trusting McCown for a year might be the prudent call. You can read the full preview by clicking right here, and tell us in the poll below which direction they should lean.
The 2014 schedule taps the Cowboys and the Bears to play on consecutive Thursdays, against other foes on Thanksgiving and each other seven days later.
As it turns out, it’s not unprecedented.
In 2007, the Packers and Cowboys got together in Dallas on a Thursday night, seven days after the Packers played in Detroit and the Cowboys hosted the Jets on Thanksgiving.
The Cowboys won the battle of 10-1 teams, which created a ton of interest in the then-two-year-old NFL Network Thursday night package but also resulted in criticism of the relegation of a great game to cable TV.
It’s likely the Packers-Cowboys game has become largely forgotten because of another NFL Network game from later in the year that was sufficiently significant to prompt the league to simulcast it on NBC and CBS.
On the final weekend of the regular season, the Patriots faced the Giants for a game that had zero playoff ramifications but extreme historical implications. The undefeated Patriots edged the Giants, 38-35, becoming the first team in league history to complete the regular season with a 16-0 record.
For the Giants, the shot of confidence that came from giving the Patriots all they could handle helped fuel a postseason run that included wins at Dallas, at Green Bay, and in the Super Bowl over the Patriots, stopping them from a 19-0 finish to the season.
At a time when Seahawks fans may be rightfully grousing about the lack of prime-time home games beyond Week One (that’s what happens when Oliver Reed’s advice from Gladiator is ignored), it could be worse.
Peter King of TheMMQB.com explains that the runner-up to the final schedule had the defending champions playing three road games in a row, with trips to St. Louis, Washington, and Kansas City.
The game at FedEx Field would have occurred on a Monday night, requiring the Seahawks to play only six days later at Arrowhead Stadium.
Per King, that’s 11,010 air miles over a 15-day stretch. It’s quite possible, if not likely, that the Seahawks would have dipped into owner Paul Allen’s vast resources and set up shop somewhere east of the Mississippi for all or part of the fortnight plus a day away from the Pacific Northwest.
Still, extra days away from home would have been an extra burden for a team that already has plenty of schedule disruptions, thanks to its status as the defending NFL champions.
NFL senior V.P./broadcasting Howard Katz admitted that, absent a better schedule, the league quite possibly would have gone with that one.
“I think so,” Katz told King. “We didn’t want to. We were hopeful that we’d find a better one. I think we would have, and we did. If we had to play it, I think we would have had an interesting discussion with Roger [Goodell] about it. We had many interesting discussions in this room about it — whether it was a fatal flaw or not. I didn’t deem it fatal, but we were hoping we could find a way out of it.”
They ultimately did, balancing the various conflicts and other factors and sifting through more than 500,000 possible schedules and coming up with a winner after Katz and three others (NFL V.P./broadcating Onnie Bose, NFL senior manager of broadcasting Jonathan Payne, and NFL senior director of broadcasting Michael North) spent 70 days working hard to come up with a winner.
It’s in many ways a thankless job, with inevitable criticism no matter how much time and effort is spent to make the process as fair as possible for all 32 teams. And the criticism will come from fans or players or front offices that don’t like one thing or another about a given team’s schedule. Last year, the Bills complained about facing too many teams coming off of bye weeks; it’s likely only a matter of time before someone gripes about that this year.
Actually, since the draft should be today but have been moved back two weeks, that will be our next schedule-related project.