Former Alabama RB Eddie Lacy joins Erik Kuselias to discuss some of the toughest opponents he had to face in college. Also, Lacy discusses his feelings on how he will handle draft night.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: One-on-one with Eddie Lacy
University of Alabama Coach Nick Saban and his counterpart at Arkansas, Bret Bielema, told reporters at the Southeastern Conference’s annual meetings Tuesday they’d like to see the NFL and NCAA pursue rule changes that would give underclassmen draft entries more flexibility to return to school if they may go undrafted or may be drafted later than initially thought.
Under the current rules, underclassmen must declare for the NFL Draft by mid-January. Among the potential changes Bielema and Saban have proposed is a combine-like event for underclassmen that would allow those players to better assess how they’re perceived by NFL evaluators.
“If you ask the NFL, ‘How can we maintain trust with our players when you’re giving us inaccurate information?’ Their response is ‘We don’t know enough about the guys to really give you the information because all we can really go on is film evaluation,'” Saban said. “That’s why we have a combine and all these other things. We want accurate information when that’s all said and done in December.”
Thirty players who gave up remaining college eligibilty to enter the 2016 NFL Draft went undrafted. An NBA rule change implemented for this year gave basketball prospects more time to evaluate their decisions and allowed them to participate in the league’s pre-draft combine ahead of the deadline to stay in the draft or return to school. The feedback those players got from NBA teams is something Bielema wants college football players to be able to receive from NFL evaluators.
“If (an underclassman) could sit down with NFL people or personnel people that are making the decisions firsthand, I think it could be a great resource,” Bielema said. “And you know what? It works out better for everybody. Graduation rates to go up. Success rates go up. Failure rates go down. Kids are in school longer. Kids are in preparation to be in the NFL to play longer.”
A potential rule change involving early draft entries is something Bielema has discussed previously — probably for reasons that benefit him, as the coach at Arkansas — and it sounds like something various people related to the SEC want to pursue. How realistic it is, or what else can be done to avoid players making really bad decisions, remains to be seen.
College football season ends about six weeks before the annual NFL Scouting Combine and just about the time the second semester starts at most universities. The NCAA doesn’t have much of a track record of being kind to athletes who want to get paid for playing but then try to return to college sports.
“Well, we’re in our first year of the new basketball reality. I’ve talked to a few of our coaches who have had the experience. I think the feedback’s been positive,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “The young people have real-time, very valid information on their draft status. And they know up front not to compromise their eligibility from an NCAA standpoint.
“There is conversation about how might you accomplish this same outcome in football. That is a little bit different. The timing of the end of the semester, when the draft occurs, preparation for the draft, what type of feedback might be there. The NCAA could change with no alteration of the NBA’s draft timeline, practically speaking. I’m not sure that happens from an NFL standpoint. It’s a good idea. There’s likely some thought and work that needs to be contributed to see if that good idea can become a reality.”
In response to the news that Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick may be inclined to take less money elsewhere than what the Jets are offering based on principle, a league source with extensive experience negotiating contracts has hit the nail on the head regarding that possible outcome.
As the source explained it, taking less elsewhere would equate to Fitzpatrick signing a deal that reflects his true value on the open market.
“If a player ‘takes less’ to go somewhere else, he is really only being paid what the actual market will bear,” the source said.
It’s the flip side, as the source points out, of the “hometown discount,” which teams often try to squeeze players into taking. Teams try to use the emotional connection to squeeze the player into taking less. When that happens, people get upset.
So why should a player squeeze a team into paying more than what the market will bear — especially when the team necessarily is already offering more than the market will bear?
In this case, the market for Fitzpatrick is somewhere below the quality of the offer the Jets have made. Even if Fitzpatrick believes he deserves more, his only alternative (other than waiting) is taking less.
July 1 will mark the seventh anniversary of the PFT-NBC partnership, which launched on that day back in 2009. So why not sign up for another seven years?
PFT can confirm with a high degree of confidence (in lieu of saying “that’s news to me“) the report from Eric Fisher of SportsBusiness Journal that a long-term extension has been executed between NBC and PFT. Strengthening our confidence in this report is the fact that NBC separately has announced the deal.
According to a source with knowledge of the agreement (i.e., me), the digital deal runs through the 2022 NFL season and into 2023. The new agreement relates only to the digital relationship between NBC and PFT, pursuant to which PFT licenses all content directly and exclusively to NBC.
NBC has been a great partner, fueled by strong relationships with multiple NBC Sports employees in digital, TV, and radio. Hopefully, the first seven years and second seven years will be followed by another seven years and more, with PFT and NBC doing business until I croak with my crocs on, and beyond.
Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer called the cops on his girlfriend, and ended up in trouble himself.
According to Mike Klis and Jeremy Jojola of KUSA, Latimer was arrested for failing to appear in court to pay an old traffic ticket, leading to him paying $311.50 to settle that charge.
But that was the ordinary part of the day. According to the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Latimer called the cops at 2:40 a.m. Monday , saying his girlfriend “put her hands on him.”
His girlfriend, 25-year-old Jaimee Rando, was arrested for assault and disturbing the peace. But Latimer posted her bail on Tuesday afternoon.
He wasn’t at Broncos practice Tuesday, with coach Gary Kubiak saying it was for personal reasons. Latimer has been a disappointment on the field, as the former second-rounder has just eight catches in two seasons.
With Devin Hester at 33 and recovering from offseason surgeries, giving Coleman at least a look in the return game is a spring experiment that could end up being a long-term fit.
“With that speed and making one cut is very similar to playing running back,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn told reporters about Coleman. “If he can add another value to the team, that’s certainly something that we’ll look at.”
A third-round pick in 2015, Coleman played in 12 games as a rookie and posted two big games but took a back seat to Devonta Freeman’s career year. Coleman carried 87 times for 392 yards and a touchdown.
Coleman returned 30 kickoffs during his college career at Indiana and took one back for a touchdown.
The Lions addressed a shortage at tight end by signing Ben McCord on Tuesday, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported.
McCord went undrafted last month. He was a four-year contributor at Central Michigan who caught five touchdown passes as a senior.
With Eric Ebron sitting out due to an undisclosed injury last week, the Lions were shorthanded for practice after Wright’s injury. McCord will get a chance to make an impression, and the team will likely keep an eye on the waiver wire through the summer as it looks to improve depth at the position.
McCord joins Adam Fuehne and Cole Wick as rookie tight ends trying to stick with the Lions.
Despite not being cleared for football activities, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has “taken an active role” in the team’s offseason workout program, Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reported Tuesday.
Kaepernick has financial interest in doing so. Maiocco reported that Kaepernick is in line to collect a $400,000 bonus for participating in at least 90 percent of the team’s offseason program, which concludes next week with a mandatory minicamp.
The report said Kaepernick has attended every session of the program since it opened on April 4. He had surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder in November, then had surgeries on his left thumb and right knee after the season, so his participation has been limited.
The team expects Kaepernick to be cleared for full participation in time for training camp. The report said Kaepernick has done footwork drills and taken mental reps during the team’s OTA practice sessions.
New 49ers coach Chip Kelly has said he’s in “no hurry” to pick either Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert as his starting quarterback. The 49ers allowed Kapernick to talk with Broncos top executive John Elway earlier in the offseason about a potential trade, but the sides did not agree on a deal.
The Broncos are in their second week of on-field practice work, and the starting quarterback’s job remains open.
It’s so open that Broncos coach Gary Kubiak told reporters Tuesday that he’s splitting reps evenly among Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and rookie first-rounder Paxton Lynch. As for any kind of depth chart/pecking order, Kubiak said that will come later.
Per Mike Klis of 9News in Denver, Sanchez started with the first team in Tuesday’s practice but later took reps with the third unit. Siemian and Lynch also got first-team reps.
Sharing the reps is an interesting approach, but Kubiak clearly believes it’s the right one. Sanchez is the only competitor with real NFL experience, and though his draft position says Lynch’s time will come sooner than later, the Broncos are trying to repeat as Super Bowl champs and won’t rush him. Through the early practices, Siemian has played well enough to create some buzz.
It’s only May, but this figures to remain one of the most interesting — and apparently open — position battles in the NFL through the summer until a starter emerges, or until Kubiak has to pick one.
The Cowboys haven’t drafted many quarterbacks lately, and the one they took this year now has a contract.
Prescott, the 135th overall pick, was the first quarterback they’ve taken since using another fourth-rounder on Stephen McGee in 2009.
He was the consolation prize when they were unable to move back into the late first round to take Paxton Lynch, and an interesting prospect in his own right. He ought to have time to develop, as starter Tony Romo said he wants to play another four or five years.
As with other teams, they’re now down to just one unsigned pick, third-round defensive tackle Maliek Collins.
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt isn’t practicing with the team right now as he continues to recover from offseason groin surgery required to repair core muscle injuries he suffered during the course of the 2015 season.
The Texans obviously want to be sure Watt is 100 percent for the start of this season, so he’s been working out on the side while his teammates go through practices during OTAs. Watt said Tuesday that he expects his participation level will rise in the near future.
“I feel really good,” Watt said, via the Houston Chronicle. “As soon as I’m allowed, I’ll be out there. You guys know me well enough now to know that it’s not up to me. I think it will be soon.”
The Texans have two more OTAs this week, four over the next two weeks and then a three-day mandatory minicamp that ends on June 16. Watt should be doing more by the time that schedule wraps up, but may not be full go until training camp. That should work out just fine for the Texans defense as long as it ensures a healthy Watt come September.
Saints defensive end Will Smith, who was shot and killed in what has been described as a road rage incident, was legally drunk at the time, according to a new report.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that toxicology tests put Smith’s blood alcohol content at 0.24, or three times the legal limit of 0.08. An attorney for Smith’s family had previously claimed that Smith was not inebriated to the point where he couldn’t drive.
Cardell Hayes has been charged with murdering Smith and attempting to murder his wife Raquel, who was also shot in the incident. Hayes’ lawyer is claiming the shooting was self defense.
Surveillance cameras and witness statements indicate that that Smith’s SUV bumped Hayes’ Hummer and drove off before Hayes caught up to Smith, rammed into the SUV, and shot him in an ensuing argument.
The team announced this afternoon that Wright reverted to injured reserve after clearing waivers, and that he had torn his ACL.
The Lions acquired Wright in a trade with the Buccaneers (after they had previously traded him to the Patriots and later brought him back).
He played in nine games last year, catching nine passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. The Rutgers product has 13 touchdowns over his three NFL seasons.
On the outside, it appears that the Eagles’ quarterback situation is something of a mess, with the declared starter Sam Bradford not hiding his disappointment that the team traded up to draft Carson Wentz. But from Wentz’s perspective, everything is great.
Wentz said that he, Bradford and Chase Daniel have quickly developed a good rapport and are getting along well, with the two veterans helping the rookie learn to be a professional.
“So far it’s been great,” Wentz said. “Working with Sam, working with Chase, we’ve got an awesome quarterback room. A lot of really good discussions about the playbook, about life, it’s been great. And then on the practice field, they’ve been great for me. We have a really good relationship, so nothing but great things to say about those guys.”
Wentz is putting a happy face on what could be perceived as an uncomfortable situation. We’ll see in three months how happy everyone is when one quarterback is named the starter and the other two have to bide their time on the bench.
The Patriots opened up the OTA portion of their offseason schedule last week without cornerback Malcolm Butler and his absence was accompanied by a report that Butler wants a new contract as he heads into his third year with the team.
Butler’s not required to be at any team practices until next month’s mandatory minicamp, but it doesn’t look like he will be missing in action for much longer. The Patriots will hold two more OTAs on Wednesday and Thursday this week and Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that Butler will be in attendance.
Howe adds that the “strong indication” is that Butler’s absence last week was not part of a push for a new contract and that Butler wants to avoid “unnecessary attention” this offseason after missing a flight on his way to practices last year.
Butler is set to make $600,000 in 2016, which is certainly a bargain price for a player in his role for the Patriots but it isn’t one that there’s much pressure for the Patriots to adjust. Butler is set for restricted free agency after the season and extending a first-round tender would likely be enough to ensure that he doesn’t leave town until 2018 at the earliest.
A week after saying that outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware would likely be limited through OTA practices and minicamp due to back issues, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said Tuesday that Ware might not do any on-field work until the Broncos open training camp in late July.
Given that Ware is going to be 34 this summer and is very much a proven player, that’s probably a smart move. It’s notable because those back issues sidelined Ware at two different times last season and because the Broncos are counting on him to be a productive pass rusher.
A week ago, Kubiak said Ware sitting out the start of OTAs was “more preventative than anything” and said “we’ll probably make decisions on DeMarcus day to day based on how he is feeling.”
Ware had 7.5 sacks last season, 4.5 in the first four games before the back flared up, though he recovered well enough to play in the postseason and had two sacks in the Super Bowl. He took a pay cut in the offseason to stay with the Broncos.
A first-round pick of the Cowboys in 2005, Ware came to the Broncos in 2014. He’s only missed eight games in his career, all in the last three seasons, and has 134.5 career sacks.