The 2013 NFL season is loaded with tantalizing quarterback matchups. The Manning brothers will square off in Week 2. Aaron Rodgers will face Colin Kaepernick in Week 1 and Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan will square off for the first time since their great NFC playoff game.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: An abundance of great QB matchups
On July 3, word emerged that Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson would miss the first four games of the 2015 regular season due to violations of the substance-abuse policy. Eleven days later, it didn’t get much better.
Via FOX 2 in St. Louis, Richardson was arrested on July 14 in Missouri for street racing and resisting arrest.
“The vehicles were clocked on radar three times at speeds of 122, 135, and 143 miles per hour,” per the report.
Richardson’s vehicle, a 2014 Bentley Silver Spur, allegedly increased its speed to avoid the police, running through a traffic signal and turning off the lights. The driver then turned into the driveway of a home to avoid detection.
Richardson turned out to be the driver. Two other men and a 12-year-old child was in the car. So was a fully-loaded handgun and the odor of marijuana.
And soon-to-be free agent Muhammad Wilkerson gets even more leverage.
Victor Cruz’s recovery from a torn patellar tendon has gone well enough that he’s expected to take part in Friday’s opening practice of training camp, but the Giants are still looking at potential additions to their receiving corps.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that veteran free agent wideout James Jones is visiting with the team. Jones was released by the Raiders this offseason after one year with the team.
Rapoport adds that both sides hope the meeting will result in a deal that would reunite Jones with Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. McAdoo was on the Packers staff when Jones was in Green Bay and the receiver should be familiar with aspects of a Giants offense that borrows from what the Packers did while McAdoo was in the organization.
Jones had 73 catches for 666 yards and six touchdowns in Oakland last year. He had 310 catches for 4,305 yards and 37 touchdowns during seven years with the Packers.
The NFL Players Association will attack the Tom Brady suspension both on the question of whether NFL rules permit the punishment and on the issue of whether fair and appropriate procedures were used by the league.
On the latter point, the NFLPA will focus on the role of Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton & Garrison. Initially hired to conduct an “independent” investigation via partner Ted Wells, the firm eventually became an advocate for the NFL’s position, participating in the appeal hearing.
Specifically, the NFLPA claims that Paul, Weiss partner Lorin Reisner (pictured) sat at counsel table with the NFL, “conducted the vast majority of witness examinations (including Brady’s), and otherwise defended Brady’s discipline even though his personal work on the Wells Report was being reviewed, and even though his law partner Wells testified at the hearing.”
“We were frankly stunned when Paul, Weiss showed up as counsel for the NFL defending the discipline,” NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler told PFT by phone on Thursday.
The NFLPA contends that the involvement of Reisner as counsel for the NFL, coupled with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s refusal to make the investigative files generated by Wells and Reisner (including notes of witness interviews) available to the NFL, make the procedure fundamentally unfair.
NFL outside counsel Gregg Levy, who served as the Commissioner’s legal adviser at the Brady appeal hearing, told PFT by phone that notes generated by NFL security officials before the hiring of Ted Wells were given to the NFLPA. Levy confirmed that notes of interviews conducted by Wells and his team were not made available to the NFLPA.
“The substance of the interviews was reflected in the Wells report,” Levy said.
The problem, as the NFLPA would explain it, is that the notes become necessary to ensuring the accuracy of the report. Information from the notes possibly were omitted from the report. Information not in the notes possibly were present in the report. Information in the notes possibly contradict statements in the report.
With Reisner having access to the notes as NFL counsel at the appeal hearing and the NFLPA not having access to the notes at all, the imbalance becomes one of the key arguments the NFLPA will be advancing in court.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly says his offseason moves were less about changing the team’s culture than about changing the team’s salary structure.
Kelly said today that the vast majority of the team’s decisions were about managing the salary cap, getting rid of players whose contracts made them tough to keep, even if they were productive on the field.
“Almost all the maneuvers we made with people going out were because of contracts,” Kelly said, via CSNPhilly.com. “People making too much money in our opinion of what the evaluation for what the pay for play is. Every guy we released, we offered in a trade to everybody in the league, and no one took the trade. Why? Because the contract is too high. [They] all sign somewhere else after they get released for less money than they were getting paid because you’re not going to trade for that.”
Kelly makes a good point: Many of the players he’s cut, like DeSean Jackson and Evan Mathis, are very good players. But they were also overpaid players with the Eagles. That’s why Jackson had to take less money in Washington than he was making in Philadelphia, and why Mathis will almost certainly remain unsigned until he agrees to a deal that pays him less money than the Eagles were paying him.
Kelly also pointed out that that happens around the league: Darrelle Revis may be the best cornerback in the NFL, but the Patriots still cut him this year rather than pay him $20 million.
“They had one common denominator — they were all very expensive,” Kelly said. “I think that’s just the nature of contracts in this league. A lot of them are back-end loaded. Then decisions have to be made. So guys are making $10, $11 million a year, you have to make a decision on them.”
For expensive veterans, the decision Kelly usually makes is to cut them and find someone cheaper.
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said earlier this offseason that he would avoid a stay on the physically unable to perform list at the start of camp and his prediction has come true.
Cruz, who was wearing the No. 45 Chicago Bulls jersey that Michael Jordan wore in his return to the NBA after a foray on the baseball diamond, told reporters that he’s “93 percent” of the way healed from last year’s torn patellar tendon. That appears to be enough for the Giants to get him into drills for the first time since suffering the injury.
Cruz is expected to practice when the Giants hold their first workout of training camp on Friday, although Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News notes that it will take some time before he’s a full participant.
Tackle Will Beatty was placed on the PUP list as he recovers from a torn pectoral muscle. He will almost certainly remain on the list into the regular season unless the Giants determine he won’t make it back at all this year and put him on injured reserve instead.
The Seahawks are facing a deadline to get a contract extension done with quarterback Russell Wilson on Friday, but it doesn’t look like the same urgency exists in St. Louis when it comes to Nick Foles.
Foles and the Rams confirmed last month that they’ve been talking about a new deal and General Manager Les Snead said on Thursday that it is “definitely realistic” that they reach an agreement before Foles’s contract expires after the season. Snead didn’t say that whether or not the talks would continue into September if no deal is struck before that point, but he did explain some of what he’s seen from Foles that makes him want to extend the relationship.
“The first day you go in the building and throw with receivers and no coaches, whatever phase that may be, it seems like from that day that skill group was like ‘Wow, we love this guy,'” Snead said, via ESPN.com. “It’s not like he had been the quarterback here for two years, you had a case of his first day at school, hello to everybody, we don’t know each other. He kind of took charge there. You can tell those guys will battle, he’s done a nice job with leadership. That’s the biggest thing I can say about him.”
Getting a deal done now could result in Foles leaving money on the table if he has a strong year in 2015, but security might have a greater value for a player entering a new system without ever having played 16 games in a season.
The Bengals had a few veteran receivers in for workouts on Thursday and one of them emerged with a contract.
Greg Little will be back with the Bengals after being released in February. PFT has learned, via a league source, that Little, who played six games for the Bengals last season and made six catches for 69 yards, has signed a one-year deal with the team. The Bengals placed wide receiver James Wright on injured reserve with a knee injury this week after he passed through waivers unclaimed.
Little entered the league as a 2011 second-round pick of the Browns and spent three seasons in Cleveland. He caught 155 passes during that time, but drops and other mental miscues helped keep him from meeting the expectations for him.
Santonio Holmes and David Nelson also worked out for the Bengals.
For Throwback Thursday, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tweeted a link to “one of the best days of my life”: The 2014 NFC title game. Whether today becomes the subject of an eventual Throwback Thursday best-day-ever remains to be seen.
The final hours are ticking away before the arrival of the artificial-but-real deadline for working out a new contract for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tick away. And no one is saying anything about whether a deal will, or won’t, be done.
There’s not a word, from anyone connected to either side of the process.
It could mean that the two sides are working feverishly toward resolving the final details of the deal. It could mean that they’re stuck at one last impasse, with one side waiting for the other to blink, and vice-versa. It could mean that both sides realize that a deal isn’t getting done, and that neither side wants to be the one to declare it — or to leak it.
Whatever the current posture, failure to strike a deal will mean that Wilson has opted to pass on the last, best offer the Seahawks made before the end of the talks and instead to play for $1.542 million in 2015. Like the franchise-tagged players who signed long-term deals 15 days ago, Wilson will know what he could make on a long-term offer, what he will make on a one-year deal, and what the potential options will be after the deal expires.
Of course, the flip side is true for the Seahawks. The absence of a deal will mean that they opted not to pay Wilson what he wants now, getting one last year at a below-market rate and inviting a list of options for February that could result in paying him a lot more on a long-term deal, paying him $25 million for one year under the exclusive franchise tag, or seeing him leave Seattle for a pair of first-round picks under the non-exclusive tag or something else, if he’s traded under the exclusive tag.
Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer was scheduled to enter a plea in his misdemeanor battery case in Florida on August 12, but sped up the process by a couple of weeks by submitting it in written form.
Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports that Kromer has pleaded not guilty to the charge, which came after Kromer was accused of punching a boy in the face and threatening to kill his family during an argument over beach chairs earlier this month. Kromer’s son Zachary also faces a charge and also entered a not guilty plea. Both Kromers are due back in court on September 2.
Kromer is on indefinite paid leave from the Bills right now and assistant offensive line coach Kurt Anderson may take over his duties, although center Eric Wood said Wednesday that he doesn’t know what the plan is moving forward.
We’re just gonna try not to make it a distraction at all and move forward,” Wood said. “But as of right now I don’t know any more than you all do. I get my reports from Twitter and everywhere else. So I’m sure I’ll know a lot more tomorrow or maybe tonight, but as of right now I don’t know a whole lot about the situation.”
The Bills hold their first practice of training camp on Friday.
Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall hasn’t gone out of his way to say anything nice about Bears quarterback Jay Cutler this offseason.
Marshall and Cutler played together in both Denver and Chicago during seasons that saw Marshall put up big numbers, but Marshall opted to name Kyle Orton as the best quarterback that he’s ever played with in the NFL. He also left Cutler off a longer list of his best teammates, which leads one to believe, in the words of Taylor Swift, that there’s now bad blood where there used to be mad love.
Cutler doesn’t feel that way, though. When asked about Marshall’s comments about him and the Bears, who Marshall said lacked chemistry last season, during an appearance on NFL Network, Cutler said that he thought it was to be expected after the offseason split.
“No one really likes their ex-girlfriend just after a breakup,” Cutler said. “He’s fine and he’s been like that for as long as I’ve known him. He’s an incredible player, he did a lot for us here, it just didn’t work out. I could’ve been the guy that got shipped out of here as well. New staff, new GM, you just never know what’s gonna happen. He’s gonna do well with the Jets and I know he’s in unbelievable shape, I’ve seen him work out in Chicago a little bit, so he’s gonna do well.”
Wishing nothing but the best for Marshall is more reminiscent of the Adele songbook, but it’s a bit easier to smile and say good luck with the Jets and Bears in separate conferences and not on one another’s schedules.
As it stands now, Tom Brady won’t be throwing any passes in the opener.
But on the first day or training camp, he was catching them.
Of course, that’s not going to be a staple of the Patriots offense (they tried the Tim Tebow thing already), as having a quarterback such as Brady makes you want to let him throw it.
As far as that, Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo each took plenty of reps, at one point working side-by-side during 11-on-11s.
So maybe at some point, Garoppolo can throw it to Brady.
Or maybe not.
When safety Bernard Pollard requested his release from the Titans early in the offseason, the Titans gave him what he wanted but no one else has signed the veteran to their roster for the 2015 season.
The big reason for that is likely the torn Achilles that Pollard suffered in Week Five of the 2014 season. Pollard says that he’s spoken to five or six teams and says that he understands their concern about his health, but says that everything has healed to the point that he’s ready to play.
“I’m only 30 — I’ve played this game at a high level and I can still play at a high level,” Pollard said, via the Tennessean. “Plenty of NFL teams are telling me that they’re really, really looking at me, but they’re like, `How’s the injury?’ I’m like, `It’s good. Yes, the injury happened, but I’m perfectly fine.'”
Pollard hasn’t visited any teams yet, although he says he’s had conversations with clubs about what he’s looking for and what they are willing to offer. Now that teams are in camp, those conversations could pick up with clubs that aren’t satisfied by their current safety options.
Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said he wants to open Pandora’s box on offense this season, which may explain why Santonio Holmes was reportedly working out for the team on Thursday.
Holmes was one of three wideouts that NFL Media reports were vying for jobs with the team on the day that current members of the team were reporting to camp. Holmes signed with the Bears last August and caught eight passes for 67 yards in nine appearances for the team. It’s been several years since Holmes was both healthy and effective for the Jets, which probably doesn’t bode well for his chances of landing a job with the team.
Greg Little and David Nelson were the others trying out in Cincinnati. Little had six catches in six games for the Bengals last season, but was released in February after failing to make the Browns feel sorry for cutting him in last November’s game between the two Ohio clubs.
Nelson played for the Jets last season and recently expressed his belief that his charity work in Haiti was keeping teams from signing him as a free agent this year.
In the four-page ruling that punted the lawsuit filed Wednesday by the NFLPA to New York City, where the NFL had filed its own lawsuit a day earlier, Judge Richard H. Kyle pulled no punches.
“The Court strongly suspects the Union filed in Minnesota because it has obtained favorable rulings from this Court in the past on behalf of its members,” Judge Richard H. Kyle wrote. “Indeed, the Union makes only a fleeting attempt to justify venuing this action in Minnesota, noting in two sentences of its 160-paragraph Petition that legal issues raised in the underlying arbitration ‘were directly related to’ legal issues addressed in the action disposed of by Judge Doty in February (concerning Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson). . . . However, the Court fails to appreciate how legal issues resolved in Peterson justify bringing this action here when it enjoys no other connection to Minnesota. Indeed, carried to its logical conclusion, accepting the Union’s premise would mean that a court that had decided, for example, a large corporation had engaged in racial discrimination would be the appropriate venue for every future racial-discrimination case against that corporation, no matter where the employee was located or where the alleged discrimination had occurred. Venue simply cannot be predicated on such a thin reed.”
In English, this means that a case involving an employee who works in Massachusetts shouldn’t be filed in Minnesota, absent some other connection between Minnesota and the lawsuit.
Of course, Minnesota likely would have been an acceptable location for the lawsuit but for the fact that the NFL won the race to the courthouse. Actually, the NFL at one point preferred Minnesota as the jurisdiction for such cases, because the federal appeals court the governs Minnesota (the Eight Circuit) once issued a favorable ruling for the NFL in an antitrust case. It was so favorable that the Freeman McNeil litigation challenging Plan B free agency was filed in New Jersey, but the case was transferred back to Minnesota at (you guessed it) the NFL’s behest.
Minnesota then became the default location for antitrust litigation, given the favorable outcomes that the NFLPA and the players obtained there. With Judge Doty finding earlier this year that the NFL tried to suspend Peterson without proper notice of a change in the applicable rules, and with the NFLPA believing similar notice principles apply to Brady, it makes sense for the NFLPA to choose Minnesota.
It also makes sense for the NFL to not choose Minnesota, taking full advantage of Roger Goodell’s dual role as Commissioner and Arbitrator to get a head start on getting the case filed anywhere other than Minnesota.
So, yes, the NFLPA was forum shopping. And, yes, the NFL was forum shopping. And, yes, any lawyer worth his or her license considers all potentially available forums for filing a lawsuit and tries to shop for the best possible one.
When you’re dealing with cancer, especially childhood cancer, there’s a ceiling on how secure you can ever feel.
But Devon Still still has a job to do, and he knows it’s time to focus on it.
The best news is his daughter Leah’s cancer is still in remission, but Still admitted how difficult it has been, knowing it was now time to go to work.
“You know we were traveling down a good path for so long, and for that day to come right before I had to come out here for training camp is hard,” Still said, via Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It’s hard for any parent that’s dealing with cancer because that can change your whole world right back around from the result that you get. But luckily we were given positive results.”
Now he’s concentrating on keeping his job, and the work shows. He’s lost 27 pounds, down to a lean 295. Yet on a talented Bengals defense, he’s still not a sure thing to keep a roster spot.
But he wants you to know he’s not distracted in the least.
“My mind’s focused. Period. Point blank. Period. I’m focused,” he said. “I’m very inspired by what my daughter was able to accomplish over this past year and I’m looking forward to going out there and showing her what I can overcome.”
The Bengals have been patient with Still in the past, as he’s helped his daughter through a courageous fight. Now, he wants to make sure to hold up his end of the bargain, and let them know that his mind is on nothing but football.