Skip to content

NFL morning after: Jerry Rice or Calvin Johnson?

Calvin Johnson AP

Ask me who the best receiver in NFL history is, and my answer is Jerry Rice, and no active receiver is close. So please understand that I’m not suggesting that Calvin Johnson has had a better career than Jerry Rice.

But I want to ask a different question: Has anyone — even the immortal Jerry Rice– ever played the wide receiver position better than Calvin Johnson is playing it right now?

With all due respect to Rice, I believe the answer to that question is no. The level of play Megatron has achieved over the last few years exceeds that of any wide receiver in the history of the game, even including Jerry Rice at his best.

From the start of the 2011 season through yesterday’s insane 14-catch, 329-yard game against the Cowboys, Johnson has 4,466 receiving yards. Over the best 2.5-season stretch of Rice’s career (the second half of 1993 and all of 1994 and 1995), he had 4,102 receiving yards. Johnson had 1,964 receiving yards last year, breaking Rice’s NFL single-season record. Johnson now has topped 200 yards six times in his last 27 games, counting the playoffs. Rice topped 200 yards five times in 332 career games, counting the playoffs.

But I don’t want to go too far down the statistical comparisons because there are a lot of respects in which the stats don’t tell the story. Johnson’s numbers are inflated by the fact that he’s playing in a better passing era than Rice was, and also by the fact that the Lions are a worse team than Rice’s 49ers were, which means they’re throwing late in games a lot more than Rice’s 49ers were. The flip side of that is, Rice was catching passes from Hall of Famers (Joe Montana early in his career, Steve Young starting in 1991) and had excellent teammates like John Taylor, Ricky Watters and Brent Jones preventing the defense from putting everything into stopping him. Johnson is catching passes from Matthew Stafford, who’s a promising young quarterback but nowhere near the type of passer that Montana and Young were, and this year’s arrival of Reggie Bush marks the first time Johnson has ever had a top-flight talent playing with him on the Lions’ offense.

So aside from stats, what makes me say Johnson is playing better football now than Rice ever did? It mostly comes down to their physical differences. The 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnson makes plays that the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Rice did not. Rice was a genius for running perfect routes and getting open, but Johnson is so physically imposing that he makes plays even when he’s not open. The catches like Johnson’s 50-yard touchdown last week against the Bengals, when Stafford launched the ball deep into the end zone and Johnson went up and grabbed it despite being surrounded by three Bengals, are the plays that no one else at the wide receiver position has made.

And games like Johnson’s performance on Sunday are the games that no one else at the wide receiver position has had. How can Johnson, the guy every defensive coordinator in the NFL knows he has to stop, catch 87.5 percent of the passes thrown to him for 20.6 yards per attempt, as he did on Sunday? The answer is that he’s playing the wide receiver position right now better than anyone has ever played it.

Johnson was my favorite player in any of Sunday’s games. Here are some other thoughts:

Hard-luck player of the week: Reed Doughty. Doughty, a Washington safety, grew up in the Denver suburbs, and so he bought 40 tickets for friends and family to Sunday’s game against the Broncos. It should have been a great “local boy makes good” moment for him, except that he suffered a concussion last week and ended up not playing against the Broncos and not even making the trip to Denver. I hope his friends and family enjoyed the game anyway.

The Jaguars aren’t just bad, they’re historically bad. After Sunday’s 42-10 loss to the 49ers, the Jaguars are 0-8, and they’re getting blown out, week in and week out, like no team since the 1944 franchise that merged the Cardinals and Steelers because players were scarce during World War II. I thought before the season that the Jaguars were the worst team in the league, but they’re even worse than I thought they’d be. I figured they’d be your run-of-the-mill lousy 3-13 team. In reality, your run-of-the-mill lousy 3-13 team would be a double-digit favorite over these Jaguars.

Best block of the day belonged to Larry Warford. A rookie guard for the Lions, Warford got out in front of running back Joique Bell on a screen pass and planted Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee into the turf. It was a textbook example of the right way for an offensive lineman to play a screen pass.

It’s amazing that the Patriots keep winning. There comes a point when no team can withstand the loss of too many good players, and the Patriots seem like they should have reached that point. They lost Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Danny Woodhead and Aaron Hernandez before the season. They’ve lost Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork to season-ending injuries. Aqib Talib was out Sunday. Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola have missed most of the year. You just can’t lose that many good players. And yet New England is 6-2 after Sunday’s win over the Dolphins. Bill Belichick is a coaching genius.

What happened to Chip Kelly, offensive genius? I know the Eagles have had injuries to both first-string quarterback Michael Vick and second-string quarterback Nick Foles, but shouldn’t an offensive innovator like Kelly be able to manufacture some points anyway? Here’s how every single Eagles offensive drive has ended in the last two weeks: punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, missed field goal, punt, punt, field goal, interception, interception, interception, interception, interception, punt, punt, punt, fumble, downs, punt, punt, punt, downs, interception. Yes, in the last two weeks the Eagles have had 15 punts, five interceptions (on five consecutive drives), one lost fumble, one missed field goal and one made field goal. And the one made field goal came on a drive that started in field goal range. If you were flipping back and forth between the Lions and the Eagles on Sunday, you got to see Megatron playing the receiver position at its best, and the Eagles playing offense at its worst.

Permalink 111 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
yo

Bills say Tyrod Taylor is medically cleared

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 20:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills is tackled by Vontaze Burfict #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills say quarterback Tyrod Taylor is healthy enough to play — and potentially healthy enough to get cut.

A team source told Adam Schefter that Taylor has been medically cleared from his January groin surgery.

It’s significant that this is coming from a team source, rather than directly from Taylor. The Bills can cut Taylor by March 11 and not have to pay his $27.5 million guarantee, but only if he can pass a physical. If the Bills choose not to pick up Taylor’s guarantee, it’s still possible that Taylor could file a grievance and claim he isn’t yet healthy.

If the Bills cut Taylor, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If he’s still on the team after March 11, that means the Bills are committed to him as their quarterback.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Julius Thomas gets thumbs up on physical

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 13:  Julius Thomas #80 of the Jacksonville Jaguars rushes against  Dwight Lowery #33 of the Indianapolis Colts during the game at EverBank Field on December 13, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

The proposed trade that would send tight end Julius Thomas from Jacksonville to Miami requires Thomas to pass a physical with the Dolphins before it can go forward and Thomas was in South Florida to take that exam on Tuesday.

It was something more than a formality for Thomas as he has missed 16 games with a variety of ailments over the last four seasons. Thomas has never played a full 16-game slate as a result of those injuries.

Those past issues reportedly won’t get in the way of the trade moving forward, however. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Thomas “got the thumbs up” from the team after the exam and that his visit with the team will wrap up on Wednesday.

The trade can’t get an official thumbs up from the two teams until the new league year starts on March 9 and the fact that it is a non-binding agreement means there could still be a change of heart, although there’s little reason to think that will happen with all moving forward without issue thus far.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Martellus Bennett not expected to re-sign before free agency

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots attempts to catch the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the second quarter during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Patriots won the Super Bowl, tight end Martellus Bennett noted that free agents from championship teams often receive a premium on the open market.

It appears Bennett will get the chance to see if he gets that treatment next month. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Bennett will not sign a new deal with the Patriots ahead of the start of the new league year. That doesn’t preclude a return to the Patriots and Bennett fit well with the team, but the chances that someone on the open market will bowl him over are great enough that Rapoport believes it will be hard to keep him in New England.

Bennett isn’t giving any sign of what path he may be taking on social media. He took a break from recounting meetings with celebrities ranging from Sinbad to Magic Johnson to say that he’ll “figure it out when it’s time to figure it out.”

That time will be here fairly soon and Bennett’s market should come into clearer sight pretty quickly in the free agency process.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Wednesday morning one-liners

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 24:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills runs the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at New Era Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The debate rages about whether the Bills will keep QB Tyrod Taylor.

Can the Dolphins find two new starting guards?

Patriots assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski or coaching assistants Nick Caley, Mike Pellegrino or Cole Popovich are among the in-house candidates to replace departed tight ends coach Brian Daboll.

A look back at Jets RB Matt Forte during the 2016 season.

Recently retired Ravens WR Steve Smith will let himself get out of shape so he’s not tempted to make a comeback.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis spoke at a Cincinnati school on Tuesday.

K’Waun Williams’ injury grievance against the Browns will be heard on May 16.

The Steelers have added depth at punter and long snapper.

Here’s a breakdown of the Texans’ offensive line.

Could the Colts draft Florida State RB Dalvin Cook?

The Jaguars re-signed backup OL Tyler Shatley.

The Titans could use both of their first-round draft picks on cornerbacks.

Could Jay Cutler return to Denver?

The Chiefs led the league in interceptions in 2016. Here’s a look at their five best.

Raiders OT Donald Penn has high hopes for 2017.

Chargers G.M. Tom Telesco likes to bring in his scouts and have them make their case for their favorite players.

Some former Cowboys are heading into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

Here’s a look at some defensive linemen the Giants could target in the draft.

Would a return of DeSean Jackson be too expensive for the Eagles?

Washington QB Kirk Cousins has Jordan Rodgers on his side.

Could the Bears find a trade partner who wants Jay Cutler?

The Lions want to improve their running game, and Christian McCaffrey could be an option.

Here’s a look back at some of the players who were part of the Packers’ late-season run.

Will the Vikings draft a replacement for Adrian Peterson?

Here’s a look back at Falcons WR Julio Jones‘ Combine performance.

Panthers FB Mike Tolbert respects the way the Panthers handled his release.

The Saints need to add a pass rusher and a cornerback.

It’s the offseason, so here’s a list of Buccaneers players who share names with presidents.

The Cardinals face a tricky salary cap situation.

New 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh worked with head coach Kyle Shanahan for four years in Houston.

The roots of Pete Carroll’s coaching tree are continuing to spread.

Rams RB Todd Gurley is playing some offseason basketball, and the headline the Rams put on a story about it could scare some fans.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jay Cutler would have plenty of leverage over trade discussions

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 28: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears speaks to the media after the game against the Minnesota Vikings on December 28, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Bears 13-9. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

Once it became clear that coach John Fox would return for a third season with the Bears, it became even more clear that quarterback Jay Cutler would not be back for a ninth. Now that the word is out regarding the team’s effort to find a trade partner for Cutler, the first question becomes whether the Bears will find one.

The second question becomes whether Cutler will accept it.

Yes, if he wants to earn a $12.5 million salary and up to $2.5 million in per-game roster bonuses, he will. But if he chooses not to show up at his next destination, Cutler won’t have to return a penny of the $54 million he received over the last three years. With no signing bonus on the deal he signed three years ago, there’s no obligation to return any of the compensation paid to Cutler under the terms of the contract.

It gives Cutler plenty of leverage, preventing the Bears from simply dumping him onto any team that will take him, regardless of whether Cutler has any desire to play there.

Ten years ago, the player Cutler supplanted in Denver — Jake Plummer — was traded to the Buccaneers against his wishes. Plummer retired, he didn’t earn a salary of $5.3 million, and he eventually paid back $3.5 million of $7 million in bonus money as part of a settlement with Tampa Bay. With no such complication for Cutler, he can slam the brakes on any trade by simply saying, “I’m not going there.”

It’s always better for a player to be a free agent, and that could be the end result of his time with the Bears. Then the question becomes whether anyone wants Cutler at all.

The team that makes the most sense continues to be the 49ers, where former teammate John Lynch is now the G.M. and the son of the man who drafted Cutler 11 years ago is now the head coach.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Philip Rivers gets emotional in return to San Diego

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers waves to the fans after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 30-21 at Qualcomm Stadium on September 14, 2014 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Getty Images

Even if he hasn’t been gone long, Philip Rivers was back home for a night, so you’ll have to pardon him if that hit him.

The quarterback of the Los Angeles Chargers was back in San Diego Tuesday night, to see teammate Nick Hardwick honored at the San Diego Hall of Champions dinner. And though he has a new professional address, it’s clear the bonds he created at the old one run deep with him, as he got emotional as he spoke.

“I hope you’ll always see me as a [San Diego Charger],” Rivers said, via Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “My time here and my love for San Diego will always be great. I’ll be forever grateful for my time there.”

“But,” he went on, “at the same time, I hope the people understand here, too, that I do have to move forward and get excited about where we’re headed.”

Rivers told the crowd how grateful he was for his 13 years there, about how people would come up to him in grocery stores to thank him.

“I certainly appreciated San Diego’s passion for us on the field and just in general the people in the community, and their support,” he said. “And, I’d like to think that they appreciated the passion I played with.

“I feel like the people here see the real me.”

It will probably be harder for him to create the same kind of bond in Los Angeles, as the Chargers try to establish themselves as the second football team while playing in a half-scale soccer stadium. But they will at least have the benefit of a guy who appears to put his entire personality into wherever he is.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Buccaneers, Lawrence Tynes reach settlement in MRSA lawsuit

Lawrence Tynes AP

After a nearly two-year legal battle, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and former kicker Lawrence Tynes have reached a settlement in a lawsuit over Tynes’ contraction or MRSA in 2013.

Via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, the settlement was reached on February 10 in Hillsborough County court agreeing to “jointly stipulate and agree to dismissal” of the suit.

Three members of the Buccaneers contracted the infection in 2013. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – otherwise known as MRSA – is a virulent staph infection resistant to antibiotics treatment. Tynes, guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Johnthan Banks all dealt with the infection during the season. Tynes sued the Buccaneers seeking $20 million and claimed that the infection ended his career. Neither Tynes or Nicks played another game after their bouts with the infection.

Tynes has said that the issue has left him in daily pain. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Tom Brady’s stolen jersey listed as worth $500,000 on police report

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots in action against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the hunt for Tom Brady’s Super Bowl LI jersey continues, the authorities have attached an official value to the item: $500,000.

That’s the number appearing on the police report posted on Twitter by James Palmer of NFL Media. And that matters for reasons beyond media coverage or hype; the value makes the crime a first degree felony under Texas law.

The number meshes with an estimate provided by Ken Goldin of Goldin Associates. As a practical matter, the item has limited value because anyone who buys it can’t display it without risk of the authorities seizing it.

Last week, Patriots owner Robert Kraft expressed confidence that the jersey would be found. During a PFT Live interview, Brady seemed surprised at that revelation.

The item remains missing, and the bigger issue could be that folks with access to NFL locker rooms have had sticky fingers for years when it comes to game-used memorabilia. Regardless of whether Brady’s jersey is found, the NFL needs to beef up its efforts to secure property that, as Brady’s jersey demonstrates, can be extremely valuable.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Payton addresses speculation, expects Cooks back with Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 16:  Brandin Cooks #10 of the New Orleans Saints catches the ball for a first down against the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 16, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

Saints Coach Sean Payton told Sirius XM Radio Tuesday that he “absolutely” expects wide receiver Brandin Cooks to be back with the team in 2017.

“If you really want to cut down to the chase, he’s a magnificent kid,” Payton said, per the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “[He’s] a worker. He’s not a kid anymore. He’s a tremendous player. He practices 100 miles per hour. You have to slow him down some. He’s got a great rapport with Drew [Brees].”

There had been some speculation that the Saints could look to move Cooks in order to help fix their leaky defense. That seems to have stemmed from comments Cooks made after he went without a touch in a blowout win late last season over the Rams.

“It was unusual; sometimes that happens,” Payton said. “And generally those things are an agent-driven complaint. And he’s too sharp of a guy, and he understands it all. He and I have met several times, and I think what’s most important is these guys come in the start of the week and they see their name stamped on plays.

“We’re up till 2 in the morning thinking about ways to get him open, get him on the right matchup. And when the players know that, I think they know they’re getting a real good script. Now, whether it plays out that way on a given Sunday, sometimes it doesn’t. But, more often than not, a guy like him, you have to get the ball to, and he’s explosive.

“But, I see him playing here.”

A first-round pick in 2014, Cooks had eight touchdown catches last season and has 20 over his three-year career. The Saints have until May to decide whether they’ll pick up the fifth-year option on Cooks’ contract for 2018.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Derius Swinton returns to Bears’ staff

Buffalo Bills v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Bears will hire Derius Swinton as their assistant special teams coach, Alex Marvez of The Sporting News reported.

Swinton was the 49ers’ special teams coach last season. He had been assistant special teams coach with the Bears in 2015 before joining the 49ers.

Prior to that, Swinton worked with the Broncos, Chiefs and Rams. He has eight previous seasons of NFL coaching experience.

New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan hired Richard Hightower as his special teams coach after Hightower spent last season as assistant special teams coach with the Bears, allowing Swinton to return to that role after he wasn’t retained in San Francisco.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Darrelle Revis hearing delay could be precursor to a plea deal

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13:  Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets against the Baltimore Ravens during their home opener at the New Meadowlands Stadium on September 13, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) Getty Images

On the same day that Pittsburgh attorney Robert Del Greco Jr. finagled a glorified parking ticket for Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter, Del Greco may have laid the foundation for getting a similar outcome for Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.

A postponement in a preliminary hearing set for February 23 to March 15 could be (key words: could be) a precursor to resolving the case with a citation or similar wrist-slap. Then again, it’s possible that it’s simply another example of the delays that routinely happen in the criminal justice system.

The action pushes the court appearance beyond the date on which the Jets have to decide whether to pay a $2 million roster bonus to Revis. In Pennsylvania, the preliminary hearing typically entails the presentation of evidence to support the pending charges. While the standard of proof to allow the case to continue is low, it’s an opportunity for the prosecution to disclose potentially embarrassing and troubling facts that otherwise aren’t yet publicly known. The information revealed could, in theory, have been a factor in the decision as to whether the Jets would pay the $2 million bonus.

As a practical matter, it shouldn’t matter. The Jets need to make a football decision as to Revis, given the ambiguity and (for now) the holes in the case that seem to give rise to reasonable doubt. While it could be argued that the Jets should pay Revis the $2 million because they already owe him $6 million fully guaranteed (the guarantee will void if he’s suspended before the season starts), a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT the $6 million is subject to offset language. If he’s cut now, the Jets would get credit for the first $6 million Revis earns elsewhere in 2017.

Even if he doesn’t earn $6 million, the Jets will get dollar-for-dollar credit based on the compensation in his next contract for 2017. Thus, with or without the pending charges, the smart move could be to move on from Revis and hope that someone else pays him $6 million or something close to it for 2017.

That’s a far better outcome than keeping him at a total compensation package of $17 million in 2017, which is what the Jets will owe him if he’s on the roster as of Week One.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

49ers to add K’Waun Williams

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 30:  Kamar Aiken #11 of the Baltimore Ravens gets tackled by K'Waun Williams #36 of the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 30, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Former Browns cornerback K’Waun Williams had four contract offers, and now he’s chosen his next team.

Williams is signing a one-year contract with the 49ers, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

The Jets, Lions, Vikings and Dolphins all showed interest in Williams as well.

Williams entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Browns in 2014. Last year the Browns released him after he clashed with the team about his treatment for an ankle injury, and he ended up not playing at all as that injury healed. But the 25-year-old Williams should be good to go this year, and the 49ers will hope they got a talented young player in their secondary.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Bears seeking trade partner for Cutler

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 20:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears warms up in the pregame against the Minnesota Vikings on December 20, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears are “actively seeking” a trade partner for quarterback Jay Cutler, ESPN reported Tuesday.

With the NFL Scouting Combine next week and the new league year set to open March 9, the time has arrived for teams to start driving conversations and potential interest in players that no longer fit their plans.

Cutler’s 2016 season ended after just five games due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. Bears General Manager Ryan Pace met with Cutler in January and gave the usual answer about nothing being decided and the team taking its time to make the best decision about Cutler’s future.

Most of the guaranteed money on Cutler’s contract has already been paid, so the Bears could move him without sustaining a major salary cap hit if they can find a suitable deal. Cutler threw a career-high 28 touchdown passes in 2014 but also led the NFL with 18 interceptions that season. He had four touchdowns and five interceptions before the injury last season.

Cutler, 33, has already been linked via the rumor mill to the 49ers. New 49ers General Manager John Lynch is a former teammate of Cutler’s, while new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s father, Mike, was the head coach of the Broncos when Cutler was drafted.

Permalink 61 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Deshaun Watson’s draft expectations aren’t clear

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers reacts during the first half against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

In the same comments during which former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson said he will do “everything” at the Scouting Combine, Watson also gave a fairly broad assessment of where and when he thinks he’ll be drafted.

“First round, anywhere in that range, top 10, top five, just depends on what the teams say,” Watson said. “It’s something I can’t control. I just make sure I can control what I can control. Stay positive.”

The first round is a very broad range; top five or 10 becomes a far more specific estimate. It will be critical for his agent to properly gauge Watson’s expectations, so that Watson won’t be upset if he slides farther down the board than he thought he would.

Four years ago, and fueled by media that overvalued his stock, quarterback Geno Smith reportedly entered the process thinking he’d be the first overall pick. After he slid to round two, he fired his agents.

And so it’s critical that, between now and late April, all players expecting to be taken early in the draft have a firm, clear understanding as to where the floor and the ceiling reside, with the floor being the much more important factor. When players go lower than the lowest they believed they’d go, that’s when tough questions get asked.

It’s more than a point of pride. The projected draft range influences decisions made about the pre-draft process. Whether to attend the Senior Bowl (Watson didn’t), whether to work out at the Scouting Combine (Watson will), whether to accept offers to visit certain teams, whether to work out privately for certain teams. Each question needs to be resolved with a clear understanding of whether and to what extent a given activity could help or hurt or not matter at all.

Ultimately, the player needs to decide whether to attend the draft, if invited. It’s important for the player to know how long he’ll be sitting in the green room, if he chooses to attend.

Watson may already have a more specific idea as to where he’ll be drafted than his comments suggest. If he doesn’t, he has a couple of months to get there. Helping to boost his stock as high as possible and making sure he knows where that stock resides when the draft begins will be the two most important job of Watson’s agent during that period of time.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Steelers add a punter and a long snapper

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Long snapper Kameron Canaday #86 of the Arizona Cardinals warms up before the team's NFL game against the New England Patriots at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. New England won 23-21.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers announced a pair of offseason special teams signings on Tuesday.

Long snapper Kameron Canaday and punter A.J. Hughes have been added to the roster. Canaday won the long-snapping job with the Cardinals last summer but was cut in September.

The Steelers had previously announced that longtime long snapper Greg Warren signed a new one-year deal to return in 2017. Warren is 35 and Canaday is just 23, so even if Canaday can’t take the job from Warren this summer he could be a future consideration.

Like Canaday, Hughes went undrafted last year and then spent some time with the Saints. He will work through the spring behind the Steelers punter Jordan Berry.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top