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Shanahan isn’t thinking about his next contract

Shanahan Getty Images

For most coaches who are preparing to enter the final year of a contract, the current deal either is extended — or terminated.  Lame-duck coaches rarely thrive, and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan will have that label in 2014, absent an extension.

As he enters the home stretch of the last year before he enters the last year of his deal, Shanahan says he isn’t thinking about the contractual situation.

“I’ve got a contract for next year,” Shanahan told reporters on Wednesday.  “I’ve got a contract this year.  I’m concerned about our games.  I’ve been very lucky — I’ve been in this profession for a long time and your focus is on your job.  And I say that with all due sincerity — it’s something I do not think about.  Anytime I talk about a contract, if it’s with a player or a coach, it’s always after the season.  Once we get started, we don’t talk about it because we’ve got to focus on each game and if you don’t focus on the game you take away from what you’re trying to accomplish.”

In response to a different question, Shanahan addressed the problems that can arise when players start thinking about their own contracts.

“If you’re a guy that’s really worried about your contract and not worried about the job that you’re doing you might not have the right guy anyhow,” Shanahan said. “So we’re hoping we have guys that want to go out and give us everything that they have to possibly get that new contract if that’s what their motivation is. So I can’t speak for them but I think anybody that’s in the last year of their contract — some of these players — we understand the reality of what we’re dealing with. They’d like to put the best performance on tape. That gives them more leverage and rightfully so. We’d like our players to make as much money as possible because they work extremely hard for us.”

Shanahan’s best chance to get leverage toward a new contract is to have his players who are looking for leverage for their own contracts to win some games. Unless the team can duplicate its 2012 push from 3-6 to the playoffs, the final year of Shanahan’s contract in Washington may entail him getting paid to not work.

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Cowboys sign rookie LB Damien Wilson

2015 NFL Scouting Combine Getty Images

The Cowboys almost have their entire rookie class under contract.

Dallas has signed fourth-round selection Damien Wilson, a linebacker from Minnesota, the team said Thursday.

The pact with Wilson leaves cornerback Byron Jones, the Cowboys’ first-round selection, as the only rookie without a deal.

Wilson (6-0, 243) notched 197 tackles (16 for loss) in two seasons with the Golden Gophers. He was timed at 4.77 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, and he posted a 37-inch vertical leap.

“He’s learning real well, and he’s working real hard, so excited about where’s he going,” Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said of Wilson on Wednesday.

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Malcolm Jenkins: No one on the Eagles thinks we have a race issue

malcolmjenkins AP

Former Eagle LeSean McCoy may think Chip Kelly got rid of the good black players, but those who have remained in Philadelphia don’t see it that way.

That’s the word from Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who said he and his teammates respect Kelly and don’t believe he’s basing his evaluations on race.

“Chip has been very, very transparent on what he’s evaluating us on,” Jenkins said, via CSNPhilly.com. “That’s not only what we do on the field, but what we do in our assessments and how disciplined we are with our nutrition and all the sports science stuff. I haven’t seen him make a move outside of those parameters. I don’t think anybody in the locker room now thinks we have an issue with race. I don’t see that being a problem in the future. I don’t think there’s any need for Chip to address it.”

If other players on the Eagles agree with McCoy about Kelly, it has the potential to undermine Kelly’s ability to coach his team. But their public comments suggest that other players agree with Jenkins that there’s not a race problem on the Eagles.

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DeMaurice Smith suggests Ray Rice is being blackballed

Ray Rice Press Conference Getty Images

NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith thinks it doesn’t speak well for the NFL that no team is willing to give Ray Rice another chance.

Smith told Sal Paolantonio of ESPN that Rice, who is not suspended and is eligible to play as soon as a team signs him, would be back in the NFL if teams were willing to give him a fair chance.

“This, unfortunately, is a league that has a history of blackballing players. I find it hard to believe that a player of Mr. Rice’s caliber hasn’t at least gotten one offer from a team to come work out,” Smith said.

The term “blackballing” suggests something underhanded, but the reality is that NFL teams aren’t hiding the fact that they simply don’t want to do business with the man who last year became the poster boy for domestic violence in America. That’s the prerogative of each team, and while the union is free to advocate on Rice’s behalf, there’s not much the union can do about it.

If all 32 NFL teams have decided that they’re never going to give Rice another chance, then Rice has only himself to blame for that.

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Dez Bryant does the smart thing by showing up

Dez Bryant AP

It’s become a given that a player saddled with the franchise tag won’t show up for any workouts or practices until he signs a long-term deal or accepts his one-year franchise tender. But it may not be the smart thing to do — especially if the tagged player plans to work out on his own.

As Broncos G.M. John Elway pointed out several weeks back when venting regarding the absence of receiver Demaryius Thomas, unsigned franchise players who get injured while working out on their own get nothing. Unsigned franchise players who show up pursuant to a letter agreement that guarantees their franchise tender if they tear an ACL or pop out an Achilles who get injured get full pay.

So unless staying away was going to squeeze more money out of the team’s coffers (it wasn’t), why not continue to get ready to have a big season while working out with the team? For Bryant, the best play would be to take the $12.8 million this year, do it again next year at a 20-percent raise ($15.36 million), and then hit the market in 2017 — because there’s no way the Cowboys would pay him $22.11 million under a third franchise tag.

More franchise-tagged players need to consider the wisdom of Bryant’s move. And more will do what Bryant did the minute that one of them suffers a serious injury while unsigned and while working out at the local YMCA.

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Adrian Peterson’s rant misses the mark

Volcano

Mt. Peterson finally erupted. And it went about as well as Peter Brady’s volcano. (Timely reference, I know.)

Arguably he last man who should be painting himself as a victim but who nevertheless tried to shift blame to the Vikings for a predicament created by his own behavior has gone to Twitter for a general rant regarding the system of paying players.

“Question for the people, is a contract two sided or one?” Adrian Peterson asked. “There’s never no talk about honoring a contract!”

But NFL contracts are indeed one-sided, unless they’re individually negotiated to be two-sided. If Peterson wanted in 2011 to ensure that his contract would be two-sided through its final year of 2017, he could have — by insisting on the contract being fully guaranteed for its full duration. When NFL contracts aren’t fully guaranteed, the team can insist on the player honoring every game of every season while in turn having the power to tear up the deal whenever the team wants.

That’s just the way it is, and that system was reiterated via the Collective Bargaining Agreement ratified by the players only weeks before Peterson signed his latest deal.

On one hand, it’s good that Peterson has dropped the passive-aggressive approach with the Vikings. On the other hand, it’s not good that he opted to take a shotgun to a system that won’t be changing — especially after that system (as enhanced by the Commissioner-Exempt list) resulted in Peterson making plenty of money last year from the Vikings despite playing in only one game.

But now that Peterson has decided to attack the situation the same way that he attacks a defense, it may be only a matter of time before Peterson is doing shirtless driveway situps and agent Ben Dogra is rattling off “next question” at a press conference held on Peterson’s front lawn.

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Dez Bryant shows up at Cowboys OTAs, does individual drills

Indianapolis Colts v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

The Cowboys thought Dez Bryant was in “great shape,” despite his staying away from voluntary workouts and OTAs.

But Thursday, they saw for themselves.

According to Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the franchise-tagged wide receiver showed up at OTAs Thursday and participated in individual drills.

That’s a bit of a surprise, considering he hasn’t signed his $12.823 million franchise tender.

But apparently, Bryant wanted to be around the team, and see his teammates. He apparently went through individual drills, but didn’t do any team drills. Considering what happened to Ryan Clady and Dante Fowler, it’s prudent to not push himself with so much money on the line.

Bryant’s not even required to attend mandatory minicamp since he hasn’t signed yet, but his showing up today is at least a sign of good faith.

Whether it’s a sign of progress toward a long-term deal, or whether Bryant just wanted to get out of the house remains to be seen.

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Adrian Peterson: Players need “same power” NFL clubs hold in contracts

Adrian Peterson AP

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, in the midst of a dispute with Minnesota, used his verified Twitter account Thursday to vent about teams being able to void contracts while players are bound to those same deals.

Here are Peterson’s thoughts on the subject, which were published one day after he told ESPN his absence from Minnesota’s offseason program was “about securing my future” in Minnesota:

“I love people who think they know it all! Smh, Research how many NFL teams hasn’t honored a player’s contract & learn something.

“Question for the people, is a contract two sided or one?

“Ok great two sided! Well why when one party decides . . . Mr. ? we wan’t you to take a pay cut now or better yet flat out release you!

“There’s never no talk about honoring a contract!

“I know hundreds of player’s that wished their team would’ve HONORED the contract! But instead got threw to the side like like trash.

“A lill crazy how one side has so much power that they can do as they please when it come to the contract! But when the other-side (player’s)  . . . Feels for whatever reason! Family, Change of scenery or simply – what they feels just might work best for them! Those same laws don’t apply!

“It’s all about honoring you’re contract! Sounds like free will is being a lil challenged to me!

“All I’m saying as a Minnesota Viking player! WE need the same power to do as all 32 teams do we they feel, under contract or not!

“It’s time for a change! Then again I’m grateful because at the end of the day, I know some of those same guys that wish a team held on!”

Peterson has three years left on his current contract. He is set to make $12.75 million in salary in 2015, $14.75 million in 2016 and $17.75 million in 2017. However, the salaries are not guaranteed.

The Vikings have insisted they will not trade Peterson. On Wednesday, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said the 30-year-old tailback would play for Minnesota or not at all.

Peterson spent most of last season on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list after being charged with felony child abuse. He eventually pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault.

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DeMarco Murray hopes Joseph Randle “can taste some of that meat this year”

Philadelphia Eagles OTA's Getty Images

Cowboys running back Joseph Randle shared his opinion about how much the Cowboys might miss running back DeMarco Murray this week by saying that he thought Murray “left a lot of meat on the bone” on his way to a league-leading 1,845 rushing yards in 2014.

That comment made its way to Murray on Thursday, but Murray didn’t fire back at Randle or try to make the case that he gnawed all the way down to the bone while carrying the ball the seventh-most times in league history last year. Instead, Murray wished Randle well in his opportunity to do a little feasting of his own behind the Cowboys offensive line.

“Hopefully he can taste some of that meat this year,” Murray said, via CSNPhilly.com. “They’re a good team. Hopefully he can get a chance to run behind that line and do some good things. But I’m not worried about it. I didn’t hear about it until now. It’s not a big deal.”

It’s a good response to Randle since Murray has no need to defend himself for his 2014 performance. His chief concern now should be making sure that he wasn’t worn down to the bone after being used so heavily last season because the Eagles will need Murray to play well to vault themselves above the Cowboys and the rest of the NFC East in 2015.

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Jets release Matt Simms

Matt Simms, Josh Mauga AP

Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms recently shared his opinion that his younger brother Matt hasn’t gotten a serious shot to be a starting quarterback in the NFL because he’s the son of Phil Simms and, therefore, a victim of “the politics of the NFL.”

Simms got some more fodder for his feeling on Thursday. The Jets announced that they have released Matt Simms from their roster.

The decision isn’t a great surprise with the Jets adding Bryce Petty in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick are going to hold down the top two spots on the depth chart and Petty will be developed behind them, which doesn’t leave many reps for the latest member of the Simms family to play quarterback in the NFL.

Getting released now will give him a chance to catch on with another team in time to make his case for a roster spot in the fall, assuming, of course, that the anti-Simms bias doesn’t rear its head once again. Simms played in four games for the Jets over the last two seasons and completed 19-of-39 passes for 195 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

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Bills open training camp on July 31

EJ Manuel AP

The Bills, who made multiple high-profile moves in the offseason, will commence training camp on Friday, July 31 at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, New York, the club said Thursday.

Seventeen practices are open to the public, with six requiring fans to have tickets.

The Bills’ preseason opener is August 14 vs. Carolina. The last practice open to fans is Tuesday, August 25.

In an attempt to jump-start their offense, the Bills acquired tailback LeSean McCoy and signed wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Charles Clay. The club also added Matt Cassel at quarterback. The Bills’ defense, formidable a season ago, could be all the more imposing with new head coach Rex Ryan at the helm.

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Broncos sign Ryan Harris

Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Broncos may not be ready to rule Ryan Clady out for the 2015 season, but they didn’t wait long to add to their tackle options in the wake of his torn ACL.

Jeff Legwold and Adam Schefter of ESPN report that the team has added veteran Ryan Harris to the roster. It will be Harris’s third tour of duty in Denver after he began his career with the team as a third-round pick in 2007 and spent the 2012 offseason and preseason with the team.

Harris also has history with head coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison after spending the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the Texans when both men were on Houston’s staff. He started 15 games for the Chiefs at right tackle last season and has also played on the left side of the line during his time in the NFL.

Harris joins Chris Clark, Ty Sambrailo and Michael Schofield as options at tackle as the Broncos try to sort out their offensive line with Clady out of the picture.

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NFL got free use of Grant Park for the draft

GrantPark Getty Images

So what did it cost the NFL to use Grant Park in Chicago for the 2015 draft? How about nothing?

According to Jared S. Hopkins of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Park District waived a $937,500 rental fee, along with the security deposit.

Hopkins explains that the Chicago Park District will give discounts to nonprofit and charitable organizations that are using Park District properties. The application for the use of Park District facilities doesn’t contemplate a full waiver. Likewise, the NFL didn’t request a not-for-profit discount when submitting the application.

(Sure, the league office was a non-profit organization when making arrangements for the 2015 draft, but the NFL is and always has been a for-profit operation.)

In response to the suggestion that the three-letter football league is getting the kind of treatment typically enjoyed by a currently-embattled four-letter fútbol federation, NFL points out that it spent “millions” on the draft, via the placement of tents and exhibits in and around a 900,000-square-foot area they called “Draft Town.”

“We also hosted free football clinics for more than 1,500 area schoolchildren in the park,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Tribune. “ESPN and NFL Network went live for the week of the draft from sets on site inside the theater and also out in the park. Our hotel needs alone in Chicago were 1,000 rooms for draft week.”

Those are fair points, similar to the arguments raised when a city does a bad financial deal to host a Super Bowl. But the reality remains that local governments will continue to do bad financial deals in order to do business with the NFL. As long as local governments will keep competing with each other to do those bad deals, the NFL will continue to get great deals for the Super Bowl, the draft, stadiums, or anything else the league wants.

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Kubiak on Ryan Clady’s 2015 status: No decisions will be made quickly

Denver Broncos v Cincinnati Bengals AP

The Broncos Offense suffered a serious blow on Wednesday when left tackle Ryan Clady tore his ACL, but coach Gary Kubiak isn’t ready to rule Clady out for the season yet.

Kubiak met with the media on Thursday and said that the team wasn’t ready to make a decision about whether or not Clady will be able to return at some point in 2015. Even in the best-case scenario they are going to need to replace Clady for a large chunk of the year, however, and the team isn’t ready to make any final calls on that front either.

Kubiak said, via Troy Renck of the Denver Post, that the team will move players around to figure out the best mix in front of quarterback Peyton Manning. The coach added that the initial thought is to leave Chris Clark, who replaced Clady after a 2013 foot injury, on the right side and second-round pick Ty Sambrailo on the left side. Sambrailo, who Kubiak said isn’t “a rookie anymore,” played left tackle at Colorado State.

Michael Schofield is another option at both tackles and the Broncos will likely keep a close eye on players who become available before the start of the regular season. However they line up come September, though, the team will be scrambling to fill a spot they weren’t expecting to be an issue during an offseason that’s already seen a lot of change in Denver.

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Bengals sign Tyler Kroft

Tyler Kroft AP

The Bengals are down to one unsigned 2015 draft pick with agent Mike McCartney announcing that his client Tyler Kroft has signed a four-year deal with the team.

The tight end was a third-round pick this month and his agreement leaves first-round tackle Cedric Ogbuehi as the only member of the draft class without a deal. He is one of 11 first-round picks still waiting to sign deals with their teams.

Kroft is expected to help fill the role vacated by the still-unsigned free agent Jermaine Gresham during the 2015 season. That should mean a heavy dose of blocking duties alongside Tyler Eifert. Eifert hasn’t been fully participating in offseason work after having a torn labrum in his shoulder and dislocated elbow surgically repaired after last season.

“We’re just kind of taking it day to day, just easing back into things,” Eifert said, via ESPN.com. “My shoulder and elbow are cleared 100 percent, but I’m just getting back into things gradually. I’ll be out there soon enough.”

The Bengals also took tight end C.J. Uzomah in the fifth round to fill out their depth chart at the position.

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Jaguars hire former Jets G.M. John Idzik to full-time position

Idzik Getty Images

Maybe now all the people who went to the Tim Tebow rally in Jacksonville can divert their attention to buying airplane banners.

Because the Jaguars have hired a man who created far more of a grassroots effort among his former fanbase.

According to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, the Jaguars have hired former Jets General Manager John Idzik to a full-time position with the team.

Idzik was hired by the Jaguars as an consultant prior to free agency. His new title is special assistant to the G.M. (apparently assistant to the traveling secretary was taken).

“He’ll do a little bit of everything,” Jags G.M. Dave Caldwell said. “He’s a great cultural fit for us. He has a great understanding of the salary cap and the different ways to do a contract.”

Idzik was fired by the Jets after the 2014 season, but not before he became a lightning rod for fans, complete with planes bearing “Fire John Idzik” banners flying over practices there.

The Jaguars also promoted Chris Polian from director of pro personnel to director of player personnel and Chris Driggers from pro scout to director of pro personnel.

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