An NFL arbitrator has decided that Jimmy Graham is indeed a tight end and thus will receive a lower franchise tag number than he would of if he was ruled a wide receiver. Mike Florio discusses what Graham may do in the immediate future.
ProFootballTalk: What’s next for Jimmy Graham?
The Bengals drafted two tackles in the first two rounds of the 2015 draft, which likely left many people with the feeling that Andrew Whitworth’s time as the team’s left tackle was close to its expiration date.
While there were flirtations with a move to guard, Whitworth stayed at left tackle through the 2016 season while Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher saw time on the right side of the line. This offseason offers a potential parting of the ways with Whitworth set for free agency next month, but the door hasn’t been closed.
Appearing on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Alex Marvez and Solomon Wilcots, Whitworth said that he’s talking to the Bengals and that he hopes it works out for him to stay in Cincinnati. He also said that the discussions have been about him remaining as the team’s left tackle.
Bengals right guard Kevin Zeitler is also set to become a free agent, so there may be multiple changes up front on offense as the team tries to get back to the playoffs after their five-year streak of postseason appearances came to an end in 2016.
The bizarre video that contains images of two men knocked out cold and the sound of another man claiming that he did it and threatening to do it again apparently is the closest thing to a smoking gun in the case against Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. It also proves that, as to the most serious charges pending against him, Revis likely will walk.
The defense lawyer contends that the voice on the tape doesn’t belong to Darrelle Revis. Teammate Brandon Marshall agrees. (So do I.)
As a practical matter, the prosecutor will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Revis is the person claiming credit for the knockout punches. Before it ever gets to that point, the prosecutor will have to believe that such an outcome is likely to justify the time and expense of taking the case to trial.
It’s not. Revis will hire a voice-recognition expert to explain to the jury that it’s not Revis. At best, the expert hired by Revis and the expert retained by the prosecution will cancel each other out, creating more than enough doubt to support an acquittal.
While that could take care of the assault charges, Revis would still faces charges of conspiracy, robbery, and the making of terroristic threats. If Revis is willing and able to identify the person who threw the punches in exchange for all charges being dropped, he could potentially walk away.
Of course, Revis may not be willing to say anything at all. If he’s not, it will become harder for the prosecutor to find a way to save face without Revis pleading guilty to one of the charges or entering a diversion program or otherwise doing something to accept partial responsibility for a portion of the incident.
Accepting any responsibility could make Revis more susceptible to punishment by the league, however. And with the NFL generally unwilling to negotiate discipline as part of the effort to negotiate a plea arrangement, Revis eventually could be required to roll the dice.
However it plays out for Revis, the video helps his case. Whether it delivers an outright victory remains to be seen.
The Dolphins and Jaguars are talking about a trade which would send left tackle Branden Albert to Jacksonville, but it appears he is the only player involved in the deal.
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the teams have agreed to a deal that would send Albert north for a late-round pick in 2018.
The deal isn’t necessarily complete, and Albert continues to talk to the Jaguars about a way to sweeten his deal to get him to avoid the freedom of the open market.
While the Dolphins might have some degree of interest in Thomas, they might not at his current contract terms, and the Albert-for-pick swap might be a way around that.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had go through a few anxious moments this offseason, wondering if his beat-up veteran quarterback was going to come back.
So coupled with his experience in Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger, he expects the Steelers quarterback to be back on the field this season after previous musing about retirement.
“I think given time, he’ll be ready to roll,” Arians said, via ESPN. “He’s in a time where he’s making decisions, too. He’s got the three kids and I think, like [Cardinals quarterback] Carson [Palmer], he got beat up.”
Roethlisberger didn’t take the abuse Palmer did last season, but he has accumulated a lot of hits over a career that has seen him be willing to leave the pocket and take more. Five of those seasons were with Arians as his offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, giving the Cardinals coach a bit of insight.
Of course, plenty of players wonder aloud about their futures in the immediate aftermath of the season, but after the soreness subsides (making them better able to reach for their future fatter wallets) many guys end up forgetting about that talk.
The biggest problem with the recent “T.O. dropped too many passes” excuse for keeping him out of Canton isn’t that it’s a stupid argument (it is), it’s that it feels like a Plan B effort from Hall of Fame voters to justify the snub.
Peter King of TheMMQB.com, who supports T.O.’s case for Canton, fleshed out the drops-based case for exclusion in his weekly column. And while King reiterates his position that Owens should make it, King argues that drops are relevant to the overall case.
If so, why did it take two weeks for drops to become part of the public discussion? It seems like the voters (regardless of whether they oppose Owens) have decided to supplement the extra-statistical scuttlebutt with something rooted in objective fact, now that the threshold justification for keeping Owens out of the Hall of Fame has largely failed to resonate with fans or with media members who don’t have a Hall of Fame vote.
In a close case, drops would be highly relevant. Locker-room misbehavior would be relevant, too. In situations where the performance clearly justifies enshrinement, these paper-thin barriers become even more flimsy when they emerge as a reaction to the intense criticism arising from the omission.
When Hall of Fame quarterback and Hall of Fame voter Dan Fouts went public with his opposition to Owens, Fouts said nothing about drops. Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, the first voter to reduce his opposition to writing, said not one word about drops.
Drops first fell into the discussion after the rejection of the “horrible teammate” and “teams couldn’t wait to get rid of him” narratives began to crumble. The drops-based argument should quickly crumble, too.
Again, in a close case, drops on the field and conduct from the sideline to the parking lot is relevant. In a slam-dunk situation, it’s not.
Consider Brett Favre. He’s the all-time leader in interceptions. He had a reputation for doing his own thing, ignoring the instructions of coaches and winging it. At least one of his former coaches — Jerry Glanville — surely would have some bad things to say about him. (Brad Childress and Eric Mangini might, too.) Favre was hardly a model teammate, as Jeff Pearlman’s Gunslinger demonstrates regarding Favre’s alleged treatment of Aaron Rodgers. Favre tormented the Packers with his annual will-I-or-won’t-I retirement musings, setting the stage for the arrival of Rodgers. Favre eventually retired and then unretired, creating a mess for the Packers before being traded to the Jets, where a workplace sexual harassment situation resulted in Favre being fined for lying to the league office.
Did any of that keep Favre out of Canton? Nope. Favre got in on the first ballot, without even a discussion or debate. (It literally took 30 seconds to put Favre’s case to rest.)
For Owens, the debate continues. The fact that the goalposts keep moving demonstrates how weak the case against him is.
Steve Smith announced his retirement from the NFL after the 2016 season and took a job with NFL Network to remain involved in the game moving forward.
He’s had other offers to keep his toe in the football world as well. Smith told James Lofton and Brad Hopkins of Sirius XM NFL Radio that he’s heard from wide receivers and defensive backs interested in watching film and doing on-field work with him in hopes of improving their games. He’s also heard from agents of draft prospects interested in polishing their clients’ games, but Smith is resisting all inquiries.
“And I had to take a step back and I said, ‘You know what?’ If I do all these things, now I’m getting my mind and body to say I can still play,'” Smith said. “So I had to text some guys and say, ‘You know what? I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to watch film with you and work out and train with you because that means I’m telling myself and my family I’m about to go play again. And I don’t want to go through that process. I’m done playing.’ So if I’m training anybody, their last name is Smith, meaning my kids. I’m just going to love on them, and that training is less intense. The goal is so lesser. It’s, ‘Hey, let’s make sure we’re drinking water, fluid, and all that stuff.’ Out there, when you’re training for ball, it’s a different animal. So I said, ‘No.'”
There will always be players who could benefit from the tutelage of an undersized player who carved out a 16-year career that ended with 1,031 catches. For now, though, they’ll have to look elsewhere because Smith isn’t ready to share his tricks of the trade.
The biggest topic around the Cowboys in the opening weeks of the offseason has been the fate of quarterback Tony Romo, but he wasn’t the only Dallas starter who saw a rookie take over his spot in the lineup last season.
Running back Darren McFadden was brushed aside by Ezekiel Elliott even before he injured his elbow during the offseason and missed the majority of the season while recovering from the injury. McFadden returned for the final weeks of the season and told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan of Sirius XM NFL Radio that he feels he has a lot to give a team in 2017.
“I still feel fresh,” McFadden said. “Like you said I didn’t get a lot of wear and tear on my body from the season. I only played in the last three regular season games and the playoff game. I feel like I have a lot that I can offer any team. As far as being out there and a guy that can carry the load, I don’t feel like I’ve lost a step at all. I feel like that any team that want to take a shot at me I don’t think it’d be a bad deal for them.”
McFadden isn’t ruling out the Cowboys from teams that might want to take a shot at him. He said he feels the team “wouldn’t mind keeping me,” although the draft will offer less expensive options for a team that has some work to do on defense if they want to sustain their winning ways of 2016.
As Patriots owner Robert Kraft pointed out last week, every New England NFL championship team has had players who skipped the traditional White House trip. As explained by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press, the phenomenon of players boycotting the ritual is hardly new.
For example, former Boston Celtics great Larry Bird once skipped a trip to the White House when Ronald Reagan was in office, saying that “[i]f the president wants to see me, he knows where to find me.” Likewise, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas opted not to visit the White House under Barack Obama, pointing out that government “has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.”
Four years ago, former Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk opted not to visit the White House over Obama’s support of Planned Parenthood.
Despite the history, there’s a sense that the immediate future will feature more athletes skipping the Rose Garden photo op. With multiple players making a political statement in a league that has been largely avoiding politics, what will happen after the NBA, whose players and coaches have been far more vocal about political issues, crowns a champion?
Ultimately, each player has the right to attend or not attend. And people who oppose the decision to attend or not attend have the right to weigh in on the decision — as Patriots defensive lineman Chris Long recently learned.
A record 203 million Americans watched NFL games last season, yet average ratings were down. If those two data points seem contradictory, that’s because most people don’t fully understand how TV ratings are calculated.
That total of 203 million people represents everyone who ever watched an NFL game at all, while the average ratings are about the average number of people watching a game at any given moment. That the former increased while the latter decreased suggests not that the NFL has a shrinking fan base but that the NFL has a problem with more and more fans deciding that they don’t need to watch every game as consistently as they used to.
This data comes from FOX Sports’ Mike Mulvihill, who writes at Sports Business Journal that the NFL’s biggest problem in 2016 was that more viewers were turning away from football to watch election news: The league’s ratings were down 13 percent from 2015 before Election Day but were virtually identical to 2015 after Election Day. But the second-biggest problem, and the one the NFL has some control over, is that the league has too many broadcast windows.
For the 2016 season, that meant a total of 110 NFL television windows when you add up the three every Sunday, plus Monday nights and Thursday nights, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Sunday morning games from London and so on. That’s more than the league has ever had before, and the ratings data suggest that some fans felt that football was spread so thin that they simply couldn’t keep up with it all, and they were more choosy about which games to watch.
The NFL may realize that’s a problem, and there are already indications that the league is looking at scaling back, first by moving the London games back to Sunday afternoon, and perhaps by scaling back on some other broadcast windows as well.
If the NFL scales back the schedule slightly to get back to its bread and butter of Sunday afternoons and nights, and if nothing in the news in 2017 captures America’s attention the way the election did in 2016, average ratings should improve in the season ahead. If ratings decline again, however, that’s a sign that the NFL has a real problem on its hands.
The Vikings have picked cornerbacks early in the draft in three of the last four years, but a pair of older players ranked second and third in snaps played at the position in 2016.
Both Terence Newman and Captain Munnerlyn are set to become free agents this offseason, which leaves the Vikings with a decision to make about going with more of their homegrown players or bringing back the guys that filled the top roles last season. Munnerlyn did most of his work in the slot and cited an interview with Patriots coach Bill Belichick about the increased importance of the nickel corner while making his case to return.
“To see coach Belichick say that, I was pumping my fist,” Munnerlyn said, via ESPN.com. “They are finally realizing that it’s a big position. You’re playing nickel 80 percent of the time of the game. If teams game plan you, they might not do that; they might try to keep a linebacker out there, but this is a passing league. Everybody wants to throw the ball. Everybody wants to see the scoreboard light up so hopefully teams see that. [I’m] definitely hoping the Vikings see that because we play it a lot, I hope they value my position and value my talent and bring me back.”
The Vikings are expected to meet with free agent K’Waun Williams this week and he’d likely come cheaper than Munnerlyn at a time when the team also has to think about extending Xavier Rhodes‘ contract. That may mean Munnerlyn finds better value outside of Minnesota once free agency gets underway.
Former Bills coach Marv Levy wrote a children’s book about the Chicago Cubs.
The Ravens stole an idea from Jerry Seinfeld and took offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg for a drive.
Assessing how much the Bengals missed departed veterans in 2016.
A breakdown of the Steelers wide receivers.
Rounding up some mock draft choices for the Texans.
How did the Colts fare at tight end in 2016?
The Jaguars website selected the team’s top play of the 2016 season.
Will the Titans make a big move for help at inside linebacker?
The Broncos are in comfortable position under the cap.
Will a change in coaches lead to better special teams play for the Chargers?
Debating whether the Cowboys should draft a wide receiver in the first round.
A deep threat on offense is on the Giants shopping list this offseason.
The Eagles answered some big questions in 2016.
A look at the Bears’ special teams play.
Will the Lions make additions at running back this offseason?
Running through the Packers’ decisions on exclusive rights and restricted free agents.
Sifting through some draft options for the Panthers.
Former Buccaneers DE Simeon Rice believes he’s deserving of more MVP consideration.
It may be easier for the Cardinals to talk about finding their quarterback of the future than it is to find one.
Special teams coach John Fassel is happy he’s able to remain with the Rams after a stint as interim head coach last year.
Tracing defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s path to the 49ers.
Are the Seahawks done making moves at kicker?
While there’s now video of two guys who allegedly were knocked out by someone in a group including Darrelle Revis, the attorney for the Jets cornerback says there’s no way the voice on the tape was his.
Via Paula Reed Ward of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Revis’ attorneys, Robert DelGreco Jr. and Mark Fiorilli issued a statement again denying their clients’ involvement in the attack.
“Darrelle Revis absolutely, categorically and positively did not knock out anyone, did not conspire with anyone to commit an assault, did not say ‘shut up before I knock your [expletive] out next’ and surely did not ‘rob’ another of a cell phone,” the statement read. “The voice and admissions made on the video are not that of Darrelle Revis. We have no doubt but that further investigation relative to the clothing and voice verification will corroborate the above assertions.”
Revis has been charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy, robbery and terroristic threats, and has a preliminary hearing on Thursday.
With more quarterbacks than normal available this offseason, it might take the first domino falling to make them all drop in a hurry.
If that happens, a small group of teams who are clearly playoff caliber already top the list of possible destinations.
According to Peter King of TheMMQB.com, the Texans and Chiefs make the most sense as a possible post-Dallas destination for Romo.
While other teams (specifically the Broncos) have been mentioned as possibility, there’s a clear confluence of opportunity and proximity there. Romo clearly doesn’t want to play for a rebuilding team, or one too far away as his family is about to welcome a third child.
So the opprtunity to easily leapfrog Tom Savage or gently nudge Alex Smith aside provide reasonable alternatives for the soon-to-be 37-year-old Romo.
Houston might prefer a younger alternative (such as Jimmy Garoppolo), but plugging an established and able starter like Romo in would be a boost for a team which has played championship-level defense in recent years, with and without J.J. Watt. The Texans would need to invest in more offensive line help to make it make sense, but have a receiving threat in DeAndre Hopkins who has been underutilized.
Kansas City would stand a chance to upgrade from the good-not-great Alex Smith, and many of the same things apply there as in Houston.
King also mentioned that Romo turned down an off-field offer this offseason, which indicates that he’s focused on getting back on the field somewhere, and soon.
The Dolphins could soon be parlaying their apparent intent to cut tackle Branden Albert into the acquisition of a new tight end.
Rapoport adds this nugget, which is actually a big deal: Both would have to agree to new contracts in order to make the trade happen.
Why would they? They should refuse and get cut and sign new deals on the open market. Albert already had one foot out the door. Why should he accept a trade to Jacksonville for a deal that isn’t negotiated with the benefit of competition from other teams that: (1) don’t have a player like Julius Thomas to offer to the Dolphins; and (2) possibly would pay more money to Albert if there was no obligation to trade for him?
Ditto for Thomas. If the Jaguars don’t want him at $7 million (and if the Dolphins don’t either), he should sit tight, force a release, and go wherever he wants at the highest possible price. (Maybe the Patriots would want him to replace Martellus Bennett, for example.)
Albert’s contract pays $8.875 million this year and $9.575 million next year in base salary. Thomas will make $7 million in 2017, $3 million of which recently became fully guaranteed. He is signed through 2019.
A brief video of the aftermath of the incident involving Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis shows two men unconscious on the sidewalk and includes the audio of another man bragging about knocking them out.
The video, which was published by TMZ, shows the two men prone on the ground and features a man off-camera saying, “I knocked both of these motherf—ers out. Both of them. They both sleeping. Shut up before I knock your ass out next.”
According to the TMZ post, “it appears officials believe the voice is Darrelle.”
A police report in connection with the incident says that a witness told police that Revis said to him, “Do you want to be next?”
Revis is facing felony charges of robbery, aggravated assault and conspiracy.