Mike Florio answers fan tweets and calls from PFT Planet, including evaluating the New York Jets offseason, the sustainability of a potential NFL franchise in London and which teams will look to pursue signing recently-cut running back Chris Johnson.
PFT Planet: Where will CJ2K land?
New buildings get Super Bowls, and Atlanta is the latest beneficiary.
NFL owners just voted at their meeting in Charlotte to award Super Bowl LIII to the new Falcons stadium, the latest example of new facility being rewarded with the biggest game of the year.
Atlanta and New Orleans were the finalists for the game, with Miami and Tampa eliminated from the process on earlier ballots.
New Orleans had limited its bid to just the 2019 game (other cities were also bidding for 2020 and 2021), meaning it will be at least 2022 before they’re back in the mix for the game.
Atlanta previously hosted Super Bowl XXXIII, which featured an incredible game between the Titans and Rams, but also an ice storm that crippled the area in advance.
In many respects, the NFL has become its own worst enemy in the so-called War on Football. Typically, that happens when the league and people connected to it unreasonably downplay the risks associated with the sport. One team executive has potentially harmed the league’s interests by going to the other extreme.
Asked during an appearance on WGR 550 whether Bills G.M. Doug Whaley believes receiver Sammy Watkins is injury prone, Whaley painted with the broadest possible brush.
“This is the game of football,” Whaley said, via Harry Scull Jr. of the Buffalo News. “Injuries are part of it. It’s a violent game that I personally don’t think humans are supposed to play.”
That’s the kind of statement that could prompt plenty of humans to prevent their offspring from playing football. Making the words even more jarring is that Whaley drove directly into a ditch under the guise of trying to justify his faith in Watkins, for whom Whaley gave up the ninth overall pick in 2014, a first-round pick in 2015, and a fourth-round pick in 2015 to acquire.
Coach Rex Ryan was later asked about Whaley’s remarks, which apparently haven’t gathered much traction thanks to the brouhaha arising from the franchise’s goofy new media policy.
“I can say this, I love the game, I think it’s the greatest sports,” Ryan told reporters. “I know it’s the greatest sport, it’s the greatest game and we all know how I feel about it.”
Previously, it was believed that Whaley’s job may be riding on whether the team makes it to the playoffs this year. Tuesday’s gaffe may have sealed his fate, barring the team’s ability to perform what would be the superhuman task of winning a Super Bowl.
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald fulfilled a promise to his mother and received his college degree recently, which might not be necessary to his post-football employment options but certainly won’t hurt them.
Not that it’s clear when Fitzgerald might be ready to move into a different line of work. Fitzgerald’s future beyond the 2016 season has come up at points this offseason because it is the final year of his contract and the wideout said Tuesday that he “honestly” doesn’t have any idea about how long he’s going to keep playing.
“I really don’t look at it like that,” Fitzgerald said, via the team’s website. “I look at it as a day-to-day. I feel good every day, waking up and going to practice. Last year I was able to stay healthy. That puts you in a different state of mind when you are able to get up and do everything you are capable of doing. There’s a long way to go before that would even be a point of discussion. I’m just enjoying this and trying to make this the best year yet.”
Fitzgerald is coming off an excellent season punctuated by his dramatic touchdown catch to beat the Packers in overtime of their playoff matchup. If he’s healthy and continues to produce in 2016, it’s difficult to think he’ll just ride off into the sunset although it appears a final answer to that question isn’t right around the corner.
The NFL didn’t move its quarterly meeting from North Carolina to protest the controversial bathroom law known as House Bill 2. But that doesn’t stop the owners who showed up in Charlotte from making their views known while in town.
49ers CEO Jed York did so on Tuesday, strongly.
“The San Francisco 49ers are deeply concerned about North Carolina’s recently-enacted House Bill 2, which overturned protections for LGBT people and sanctioned discrimination across the state,” York said in a statement, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “HB 2 does not reflect the values of our organization, of our country, or the majority of North Carolinians.”
York also gave $75,000 to Equality NC, a statewide organization that promotes equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.
“We firmly believe that discriminatory laws such as HB 2 are bad for our employees, bad for our fans, and bad for business,” York said. “We believe that HB 2 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country. It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for sporting events, tourism and conventions, and new business activity. ”
The law requires people to use the bathroom that reflects the gender on their birth certificate. All political views aside, we’re still waiting to hear more about how the law is going to be enforced.
Byron Bell re-signed with the Titans this offseason, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be seeing any action in the regular season.
Bell needed to be helped off the field after hurting his left ankle in Tuesday’s practice and coach Mike Mularkey said later in the day that Bell dislocated his ankle. Mularkey said that Bell would likely miss the entire season as a result of his injury.
“He’s a good football player,” Mularkey said. “We’re going to miss him.”
Bell started all 16 games for the Titans last season and was a regular starter for the Panthers over the four previous seasons, although the arrival of tackle Jack Conklin in the first round of the draft likely had him headed for a role at guard or as an experienced reserve in 2016. The Titans will have to look elsewhere for those options now.
As Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz doesn’t really have any say in who wins the Eagles’ quarterback competition. But as a former head coach who was once tasked with determining when a rookie first-round draft pick, Matthew Stafford, was ready to be his starting quarterback, Schwartz has some insight.
And Schwartz’s insight is this: first-round draft pick Carson Wentz should get the chance to earn the starting job.
“Don’t judge him on something else,” Schwartz said, via NJ.com. “And also don’t pre-determine the result of the race. Let him go play. Don’t put extra pressure on him. I can’t speak for Carson. We have enough worries on defense right now. I think when we drafted Stafford, we just let him play. Was he our best quarterback? Was he ready? Unfortunately, he got hurt both his first and second year by holding the ball too long. I think he had the command and he would have been ready to play had it not been for those injuries.”
Schwartz’s boss, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, has decided not to follow that path. Instead, Pederson has already declared that Sam Bradford will be the starter.
At least, that’s what Pederson is saying now. If Wentz looks good in Organized Team Activities, training camp and the preseason, Pederson may change his mind. Schwartz thinks Pederson should be open to that.
The NFL voted to tweak the rules governing the use of replay review on Tuesday, but they didn’t approve the use of video on the tablet computers used on sidelines.
The league tabled the issue for the 2016 season in order to devote further study to the issue. Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports that coaches will be allowed to look at replays on the sideline during preseason games this summer as part of that ongoing examination of the issue.
It’s hard to imagine that there will be too many coaches who would be against the idea of reviewing film of the game as it unfolds, although it seems we’ll find out soon enough exactly how much technology there will be on the sideline in the future.
A proposal from the Redskins to eliminate the cut from 90 to 75 players during preseason and just have one cut from 90 to 53 players was voted down on Tuesday.
Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell was on the field doing individual drills with his Steelers teammates on Tuesday, something that hasn’t been the case since he tore his MCL in a November 1 game against the Bengals.
Bell’s injury became a talking point in the war of words between the teams after the Steelers took issue with Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s reaction to the hit that injured Bell. On Tuesday, Bell revisited that game and said he felt that members of the Bengals other than Burfict were trying to hurt him during the game.
“I don’t think it was just [Burfict]; it was like the whole team was really out there trying to like twist my ankles and do little dirty stuff in between the piles,” Bell said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Bell added that the Bengals aren’t the only team that tries to “take me out of the game.”
“Umm, a couple, but obviously a lot of teams in our division really play that same way, so obviously I know that — I just was kind of ignorant to that at first because I didn’t think people played like that,” Bell said.
Bell said those experiences taught him to take “nothing for granted” once he returns to a full workload. He expects that to happen at training camp, which would keep him right on track for a return to the lineup in Week One.
The Bills have yet to sign their first-round pick. But they’ve signed the second-round pick who would have been their first-round pick, if their first-round pick had already been picked when it was time for the Bills to pick.
Linebacker Reggie Ragland has put pen to paper on his rookie deal, agreeing to the standard four-year slotted deal that all players sign. The team announced the move on Tuesday.
Recently, G.M. Doug Whaley said that Ragland, the 41st pick in the draft, would have gone 22 spots higher, if Shaq Lawson had been selected.
“We look at it like we have two first-round picks this year, Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland,” Whaley told Don Banks of SI.com when discussing Lawson’s shoulder surgery. “Because we were going to pick Reggie Ragland at No. 19 if Shaq wasn’t there, and then we got them both. So for us, we’re playing with house money.”
For Ragland, he’s playing with a lot less money than he would have gotten if he’d been the 19th overall pick.
The Raiders got a bit deeper at wide receiver on Tuesday.
The team announced that they have signed Nathan Palmer and Robert Herron as free agents.
Palmer worked out for the Saints earlier this month along with Vincent Brown and Hakeem Nicks, but the Saints signed Brown. Palmer opened the offseason in Chicago, but was waived by the Bears and has spent time with six teams over the course of his time in the NFL.
Herron played eight games for the Buccaneers in 2014, catching six passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t make the Bucs out of camp last year and spent most of the season on the practice squad in Miami. Both players will fall into the competition for roster spots behind Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.
Andre DuBose won’t be part of that battle. The 2015 seventh-rounder was waived/injured and quarterback Garrett Gilbert was waived as the Raiders made room for their new players.
Generally speaking, not much of lasting impact happens at the Pro Bowl.
It looks like the ankle injury suffered by tight end Tyler Eifert is the exception to that rule. Eifert was in a walking boot after the Pro Bowl, but the issue wasn’t thought to be a particularly serious one.
Eifert wasn’t practicing with his teammates on Tuesday, however, and Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that his ankle “not responded as quickly” as initially hoped. As a result, Eifert will have a “minimal procedure” on the ankle soon.
Minimal though it may be, Eifert’s recovery is expected to take three months. That would be sometime in August, which would leave the Bengals without Eifert for much of training camp and could leave Eifert on the sideline for the preseason schedule as well.
Eifert had 13 touchdowns last season, so the Bengals will trade some lost time now for having him healthy once the regular season is underway. Tyler Kroft, Ryan Hewitt and C.J. Uzomah are in line for more time at tight end while Eifert is recovering.
For all NFL teams, the P.R. department serves as the conduit between the organization and the media. For most NFL teams, the P.R. staff has another important role.
They get blamed for all sorts of stuff.
If an owner, a coach, a G.M., or another high-level executive doesn’t want to do an interview, there’s no reason to decline directly. Instead, the owner, coach, G.M., or other high-level executive can simply blame it on the P.R. staff.
It happens all the time. On Tuesday, it happened in connection with the controversial media policy in Buffalo.
Asked by reporters about the new rules, coach Rex Ryan said (via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com), “Our media policy isn’t something that I’m involved with.” Ryan then pointed to (you guessed it) a team spokesperson.
That’s right. The new media policy came directly and exclusively from the P.R. staff, with no input of any kind from the head coach of the team. Maybe the G.M. and ownership had no say in it, either. Maybe the P.R. staff once-again has co-opted an NFL franchise, dictating policy without accountability to the various folks for whom the P.R. staff works.
That’s the lesson for today, kids. Don’t aspire to be a coach, a G.M., a team president, or an owner. The real power apparently resides in the P.R. staff.
The Texans and Raiders will play on November 21 in Mexico City, and the NFL says there’s strong interest from local fans.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, 100,000 people have already registered to buy up to four tickets each to the game. That would indicate that the game could top 100,000 fans at Estadio Azteca, just as the previous NFL game there, in 2005, did.
In the United States, football couldn’t be much more popular than it already is, and so as the NFL tries to continue growing, it is increasingly turning to foreign markets. This year, for the first time, four games will be played outside the United States, with three games in London in addition to the Texans-Raiders game in Mexico City.
Whether the NFL can ever become nearly as popular outside the United States as it is inside remains to be seen. But there’s little doubt that the league can sell out big stadiums in big cities abroad.
On one hand, Johnny Manziel currently isn’t in the NFL, and quite possibly never will be again. So his activities aren’t directly relevant to the NFL.
On the other hand, Manziel was a first-round draft pick who started eight games over two NFL seasons and who has washed out of the league due to off-field issues and a chronic unwillingness to fully commit to being a professional football player. His story continues to be intriguing.
It’s also sad and depressing. The latest comes from TMZ, which reports that “Manziel has become even more reckless with his drug problem recently — even blowing lines in front of people he barely knows.”
TMZ also cites unnamed sources close to Manziel who say that he “is going to die unless something changes soon.” Another source said that friends have confronted Manziel about his drinking and drug use, and that “[h]e flipped out and would not hear it.”
Manziel’s father expressed concern back in February that Manziel would not make it to his next birthday if he doesn’t get help. Since then, the situation apparently has gotten worse, not better.
Jaguars first-round pick Jalen Ramsey solicited additional medical opinions this week after suffering a tear to the meniscus in his right knee and the result sent him to the operating room.
The Jaguars announced on Tuesday that Ramsey had surgery on his knee earlier in the day that they termed successful. The team added that the expectation is that Ramsey will be healthy enough to return “by training camp.”
Given the inability to travel back in time and keep Ramsey from getting injured at all, that outcome would represent as good a case for Ramsey and the Jaguars as they could hope for. According to multiple reports, the surgery, which was performed by Dr. James Andrews, involved trimming the meniscus rather than a full repair that would have kept Ramsey off the field for a longer period of time.
While he’ll miss some on-field time in the near future, he’ll get plenty of time to acclimate himself to playing cornerback in the Jacksonville defense.