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Report: No guaranteed money for Tyrann Mathieu

Tyrann Mathieu AP

Tyrann Mathieu is moving to free safety and, according to a report from Peter King, he’ll be doing it without any guaranteed money coming his way from the Cardinals.

In his Monday Morning Quarterback column at, King writes that Mathieu will not have guarantees on the deal he signs in Arizona but will have roster bonuses that will require him to be on the team each week in order to see his entire salary. King also reports that the team will “randomly” drug test Mathieu as often as once a week once he signs that guarantee-less contract as part of their plan to keep the erstwhile Honey Badger from blowing his NFL opportunity.

And from blowing the team’s chance to benefit from a player who might have gone earlier in the draft if not for his marijuana habit in college. King spoke to Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim, who said that he hoped to maximize the return and minimize the risk by having former LSU teammate Patrick Peterson will serve as a mentor of sorts for Mathieu.

“It’s uncharacteristic of our organization to take chances on guys with troubled pasts. But we thought this was a good player and person for us to take,” Keim said. “I’m not naïve about this. I know the risk. But the risk to reward was enticing. His passion for the game is off the charts.”

Enlisting Peterson as a helper and making Mathieu’s compensation contingent on staying clean are both things that make it likelier that the Cardinals will realize a return on their pick, but Mathieu remains the wild card since he already missed the chance to capitalize on one golden chance in his football career. No matter what the Cardinals do, it will be up to him whether or not it happens again.

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Broncos have call to make on Antonio Smith this week

Antonio Smith, Derek Wolfe AP

The arrest and release of former Bears defensive end Ray McDonald became the big story in the NFL on Monday, but McDonald wasn’t the only defensive lineman to land in the news for the wrong reasons recently.

Last week, word broke of a child abuse investigation concerning Broncos defensive lineman Antonio Smith in Texas. The complaint against Smith was made last November and is reportedly “sexual in nature,” but no arrest has been made and no charges have been filed since the police sent the results of their investigation to the Fort Bend County district attorney in February.

The lack of charges or an arrest make Smith’s situation a different one from the one that led to McDonald’s departure from Chicago, but the Broncos still face a decision about Smith’s status. The team says it learned of the investigation last week and they’ll have to decide if they want to have Smith at this week’s organized team activities in light of the information they didn’t have when they signed Smith to a one-year, $2 million deal this offseason.

Denver could excuse Smith from the practices as they gather information about the allegations against Smith, something that would probably have already happened via a trip to the Commissioner Exempt list if Smith had been arrested or charged with a crime.

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Report: Ndamukong Suh to take part in Dolphins OTAs

Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh at a news conference on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Davie, Fla. (Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

Typically when a team signs a guy to a $114 million contract, they expect him to show up for work.

But given Ndamukong Suh’s track record in Detroit, nothing’s given.

So the Dolphins have to be pleased that Suh is in South Florida to take part in OTAs which begin today, according to Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post.

Suh routinely skipped OTAs with the Lions, so he could work out on his own. But after the Dolphins paid him this offseason, they’re doubtless glad he’s showing up.

Suh came into town for the first day of offseason conditioning, long enough to get his picture taken anyway. But he hasn’t been an every day participant, such that he has to be.

Again, all these workouts are voluntary, and Suh’s sometimes attendance in Detroit didn’t keep him from becoming a top player. But it is nice to know that your money is buying something other than 16 Sundays.

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Arik Armstead calls criticism of his effort misguided

Arik Armstead AP

The 49ers liked defensive end Arik Armstead enough to make him the 17th overall pick in the draft, but there were some who were less impressed by Armstead heading into the draft.

Several draft pundits criticized Armstead for giving inconsistent effort while at Oregon, which suggested that the 6-7 former basketball player wasn’t willing to work hard enough to succeed on the football field. Armstead believes the label is an incorrect one, suggesting that those offering their opinion were expecting him to make plays as an individual that weren’t what the team asked him to do.

“Football-wise, it comes from people not noticing the little things,” Armstead said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “Me getting double-teamed or triple-teamed on certain plays. But those things help my team wins games. I’ll sacrifice stats and things like that if I’m doing what my coaches want me to do. And if we’re winning doing that, I’m happy about it. I’ll deal with critics for that.”

Armstead says that he’s learned that you “can’t control everyone’s opinion,” but that his doubters will still provide motivation for him as he heads into his rookie year. If that motivation leads to anything but a high level of sustained effort, Armstead’s going to have a hard time thriving in the NFL.

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Owners need to create downside for taking chances on problem players

Risk Getty Images

It’s an idea that has been percolating for years. With the latest arrest of Bears defensive lineman Ray McDonald, it’s time finally has come.

NFL teams will continue to give talented players second (and third . . . and fourth) chances because NFL teams want to win. Seven years ago, the NFL implemented a deterrent to the practice of harboring problem players by instituting a convoluted system of fines on teams with multiple players suspended in a given year.

It hasn’t worked the way it should, and for good reason. Fines are a cost of doing business, especially when the ultimate goal of business is to compete for championships.

The only way to get the attention of teams inclined to roll the dice on the Ray McDonalds of the world will be to attach the loss of future draft picks when a player with a propensity for getting into trouble gets into trouble.

Last October, owners discussed the possibility of removing draft picks from teams with players who have multiple incidents under the Personal Conduct Policy.

What level of accountability should be expected of clubs?” Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to owners before the October session, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reported at the time.  “Is the current Salary Remittance Program sufficient, or should additional measures be considered?”

They should be considered, and they should be implemented. It won’t be easy; the formula for taking away draft picks when players get into trouble needs to be clear, simple, and fair.

Ultimately, it’s the only thing that will cause a team that sees a first-round talent slide to round four to stop and think about the potential consequences for rolling the dice. If/when the worst-case scenario unfolds, the team won’t simply lose the lower pick invested in a player whose ability should have gotten him off the board much sooner. They’ll lose one or more picks in the future.

Given the weight teams attach to those draft picks, it’s the best (and probably only) way to get them either to do a better job of keeping out players who may find trouble — or to ensure that players with a checkered past won’t find trouble in their next place of employment.

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Dannell Ellerbe glad to be in a place “that knows how to win”

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 23:  Dannell Ellerbe #59 of the Miami Dolphins looks on during a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys at Sun Life Stadium on August 23, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images) Getty Images

Saints linebacker Dannell Ellerbe spent his holiday trying to jam the toothpaste back in the tube, after making some harsh remarks about his time with the Dolphins.

Ellerbe told his hometown paper, the Richmond County (N.C.) Daily Journal, that he was glad to be out of Miami.

“It’s guys that want to win. I can honestly say it’s a place that knows how to win,” Ellerbe said. “I’m glad I’m getting back to a place with a great fan base and sold-out games. I’m looking forward to it. It’s always awesome when you have a great backing, when you have sold-out games and the fans got your back and are 100 percent behind you.”

That played well in his new home, but obviously not his previous one, leading him to tweet out his clarification yesterday,

“I want to apologize for how the article reads, I was just trying to explain my excitement for playing back in the Dome,” he wrote, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I had fun in Miami and had some awesome fans on my side.”

Of course he did, though they might not have the same warm feelings toward him former Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland did, when he signed Ellerbe to a $35 million contract two seasons ago.

When Ireland took a job with the Saints this offseason, he was able to reel in Ellerbe as a throw-in to the Kenny Stills trade, with a substantial pay cut.

Now, Ellerbe again has a chance to be a significant part of a defense, to go along with an opportunity to make some new friends.

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Oakland mayor opposes spending tax dollars to keep the Raiders

New York Jets v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

If the Raiders are going to stay in Oakland, they’re going to have to find a way to do it without any money from the city taxpayers.

That’s the word from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who says she would not support spending any public funds on a new stadium.

Schaaf noted that taxpayers are already on the hook for millions of dollars a year in debt from previous renovations on the Oakland Coliseum. That debt won’t be paid off until 2026, and the city has no interest in spending more money on a new stadium while it’s still paying off the old stadium.

“That money we’re paying now is general-fund money we could spend on police, parks or libraries,” she said.

Whether the Raiders move to Los Angeles remains to be seen, but if they’re getting a new stadium somewhere, it won’t be in Oakland.

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Bears have to find a starter after cutting Ray McDonald

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 09:  Jeremiah Ratliff #90 of the Chicago Bears looks on from the bench in the second quarter during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 9, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears had little choice but part ways with defensive lineman Ray McDonald yesterday, for reasons that had nothing to do with football.

But they also have a football problem to solve now.

McDonald was penciled into the starting lineup of the 3-4 defense which new coordinator Vic Fangio’s installing, and now with the draft over and the bulk of free agency finished, they have to find another.

According to John Mullin of, the two most likely on-roster options are veteran Jeremiah Ratliff and Ego Ferguson.

The 33-year-old Ratliff doesn’t have the size of a traditional 3-4 nose tackle anyway, and he has the experience to fill multiple roles.

Ferguson, last year’s second-round pick, is also a player they think they can shift outside.

“We’ve talked about that a lot,” General Manager Ryan Pace said earlier this year. “We project [Ferguson] as really nose and end. He can be both for us. So we don’t have him set at one position right now. He can be a nose or an end. He has position flexibility there, too.”

The Bears signed former Washington lineman Jarvis Jenkins this offseason, but need to add depth there, which they should have done anyway when they signed a player standing at the plate with two strikes.

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Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram drops 20 pounds

Melvin Ingram Getty Images

San Diego Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram is in the best shape of his NFL career.

According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Ingram has lost 20 pounds this offseason after committing to a change in diet.

Ingram now weighs 246 pounds – down from 266 last season – and has just 8 percent body fat.

“Being at 260 or 265, 266, wasn’t working, really,” Ingram said. “I felt quick but I kept getting injured. You’ve got to nitpick at your own body, your own self, your own game. … I felt like playing lighter would be a better thing for me. The lighter you are, the less stress it is on your body, the less stress it is on your knees, your hips, your joints or your ankles, your toes — everything.”

Injuries have hampered Ingram in his ability to live up to his status as a first-round pick. Ingram missed most of the 2013 season after suffering a torn ACL in the offseason and then missed eight weeks last season with a hamstring injury.

Ingram had his most productive season as a pass rusher last season for the Chargers despite the hamstring injury. He had four sacks in nine games played and also forced two fumbles.

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Sports book installs Seahawks-Colts as the most likely matchup for Super Bowl 50

Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson AP

We used to approach pro football odds posts with the tack of “Gee whiz, can you believe those wacky oddsmakers are accepting bets on (insert topic here)?”

Well, let’s cut it out. The surprise now is if something isn’t available to bet. We know it and you know it.

With this in mind, we check in to inform you that an online sports book is offering odds on a wide range of matchups — and we mean wide — for Super Bowl 50. has installed a Seahawks-Colts NFL title game as the favorite at 15-1, with Seahawks-Patriots and Colts-Packers next at 18-1. Packers-Patriots is 20-1, with Seahawks-Broncos 22-1.

What are the longest-priced Super Bowl 50 matchups? Glad you asked. Here they are:

Bears-Titans: 3,000-1.

Washington-Oakland: 3,000-1.

Buccaneers-Jaguars: 3,300-1.

Washington-Jaguars: 4,000-1.

Buccaneers-Titans: 5,000-1.

Washington-Titans: 6,000-1.

Sports books rarely offer odds in quadruple digits, which would suggest there isn’t a lot of fear about any of the real long shot matchups cashing. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see them on the board, right there for the gamblers, the dreamers and the diehards to take their shots.

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CBA doesn’t require Brady hearing to start within 10 days after appeal

Brady Getty Images

Some are reporting that the appeal of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension won’t be heard before Wednesday. That is correct.

Some are suggesting that Wednesday is the deadline for starting the appeal hearing. That is not correct.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL Players Association interprets the operative language of Article 46 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement to require only that a date for the appeal hearing be set within 10 days after the appeal is filed.

The rule is a bit clunky. “Appeal hearings under Section 1(a) will be scheduled to commence within ten (10) days following receipt of the notice of appeal,” Article 46, Section 2(f)(i) provides. A fair reading of the awkward terms of the standard could be that the hearing itself must commence within 10 days after the appeal is filed. But if the union doesn’t interpret it that way, it’s not an issue.

And in this case the fact that the hearing won’t start by Wednesday isn’t an issue.

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Report: Eric Weddle won’t attend OTAs

Denver Broncos vs the San Diego Chargers Getty Images

One of the NFL’s most highly regarded safeties will reportedly not be present for his club’s organized team practice activities this week.

San Diego’s Eric Weddle will not take part in the voluntary workouts, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported Monday.

A three-time Pro Bowler, the 30-year-old Weddle is in the final year of his contract. He is seeking a new deal.

The Chargers’ OTAs run from Tuesday through Thursday this week as well as June 1-3 and June 8-11. The club’s mandatory offseason minicamp is June 16-June 18. Weddle would be subject to fines if he did not attend the minicamp, but there are no penalties for skipping OTAs.

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Bears release Ray McDonald

McDonald Getty Images

Holiday, schmoliday.

With the NFL taking a rare day off to celebrate Memorial Day, the Chicago Bears opted to transact some swift business in the immediate aftermath of the latest arrest of defensive lineman Ray McDonald.

The team has announced that McDonald has been released.

“We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear,” General Manager Ryan Pace said in team-issued release. “He was not able to meet the standard and the decision was made to release him.”

On one hand, McDonald is innocent until proven guilty, and it’s possible he didn’t do anything wrong. On the other hand, how many time can a guy be falsely accused before the question becomes why does he keep putting himself in the position to be accused falsely? With McDonald fully aware of the consequences of any misstep, he needed to do everything in his power to avoid any type of claim. He failed.

McDonald once again becomes a free agent, but it’s unlikely that anyone will take a chance on him unless and until he’s exonerated from the latest accusation of domestic violence and child endangerment. Even then, it’s possible that McDonald won’t get another second chance.

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McDonald is accused of assaulting woman who was holding a baby

McDonald Getty Images

More and more details are emerging regarding the Monday morning arrest of Bears defensive lineman Ray McDonald. And more and more time is passing with his current employer saying nothing.

Via NBC Bay Area, McDonald specifically is accused of “physically assault[ing] the victim while she was holding a baby.” The alleged victim apparently is McDonald’s ex-fiancée, who reportedly had been residing with the child in an apartment paid for by McDonald.

McDonald reportedly asked his ex-fiancée to leave the apartment. He then left the premises and, when he returned, the police had been called. McDonald was arrested at the home of former 49ers teammate Justin Smith.

McDonald’s ex-fiancée also was involved in the August 2014 incident for which McDonald was arrested but ultimately not charged. The 49ers were criticized heavily for taking no action against McDonald. The team then cut him after a separate accusation of sexual assault was made against McDonald later in the year. (McDonald contends that the claim of sexual assault is false.)

The Bears, meanwhile, have said nothing — not even the perfunctory “we’re looking into it” non-statement statement. They’ll be expected by many to say, and to do, something strong in response to this latest incident involving McDonald.

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How many wins will it take to take the NFC South?

Murray Getty Images

Yes, it’s Memorial Day. But since what we do isn’t really working, we’ll be working while not really working through a 60-minute edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN.

It will require even less work for you to answer Monday’s PFT Planet poll question. Since Monday’s show focuses on the offseasons of the teams of the NFC South, it’s your task to select the number of wins it will take to take the division.

Last year, seven were enough. I thought about making six an option for 2015, but surely that won’t happen — especially with each of the four franchises showing signs of improvement.

Cast a ballot below and then tune in at 6:00 p.m. ET. Despite the various alcohol-based temptations at the looming cookout at PFT headquarters, I intend to not pay homage to Bill Murray visiting MSNBC last week.

Key word: intend.

Many NFC South fans surely wish they’d paid homage to Bill Murray visiting MSNBC all season long last year.

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McCaskey warned McDonald his behavior had to improve

mccaskey AP

When the Bears signed Ray McDonald in March, he was specifically warned by owner George McCaskey that his off-field behavior had to improve, or else he wouldn’t be a Bear for long.

After getting that warning, McDonald managed to stay out of trouble for two months.

McDonald, who was arrested today on charges of domestic violence and child endangerment, was cut by the 49ers last year after two separate accusations of violence against women. At the time that the Bears signed McDonald, McCaskey said that he had personally talked to McDonald and told him the Bears wouldn’t tolerate continued off-field issues.

“I told him that my assessment was bad decision-making; allowing himself to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or not withdrawing from a situation at the appropriate time. And I told him if he’s to remain a Bear that needs to improve and he pledged to me that it would,” McCaskey said.

McCaskey also said he wants to make sure the Bears are attracting the right kinds of people.

“That’s extremely important to us,” McCaskey said. “We have a 96-year tradition of doing things a certain way, of bringing a certain player into our team and those were my concerns going into the conversation with Ray. But I think you look at every situation individually. You try to find out as much information as you can that’s reliable to make the best decision you can about whether to offer a player the privilege of becoming a Chicago Bear.”

Given those comments, it’s hard to imagine that the Bears won’t cut McDonald. Perhaps by the end of the day today.

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