Reaching an agreement with the Arizona Cardinals on a five-year contract, Patrick Peterson is the first of the 2011 draft class to receive an extension and Mike Florio wonders which stud from Peterson’s class is next to cash in.
PFT Live: Patrick Peterson gets paid, which 2011 draftee is next?
Running back Jeremy Langford had more than 800 yards of total offense in 2015 and joined Gale Sayers and Walter Payton as the only Bears rookies since 1960 to run for touchdowns in four straight games.
Langford did that work as a complement to Matt Forte in the Bears backfield, but Forte has moved on to the Jets as a free agent. That leaves an opening at the top of the running back depth chart in Chicago and it’s one that Langford says he wants to fill by applying some of what he learned during his year with the veteran back.
“Even last year, I think I prepared a lot, you know, just in case,” Langford said, via ESPN.com. “Playing running back, you never know what can happen. So I prepared a lot to know the whole offense and be the starter if I have to. But this year, it’s really just trying to become more of a leader at the position, being a running back in Chicago. Being more of a leader and really just not being that secondary guy. Acting like more of a veteran and know the whole offense. I learned a lot from Forte, being the guy he was, so you ain’t got to be a hoo-rah guy all the time. Being a young player, it’s just being in the right place at the right time and doing what you got to do. Really helping younger guys coming in, or even the guys following you, being a leader by example.”
The Bears have talked about using a committee of backs from a group including Langford, Ka’Deem Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Jordan Howard. Langford says he’s fine with that, calling competition “always a good thing” as he prepares to do whatever he can to win it.
The NFL refers to kickoff returns as the most dangerous play in the game, and has changed rules to try to minimize them.
To Devin Hester, that’s almost like an unfair restraint of trade.
The Falcons return man said he’s personally never been hurt while returning a kickoff, and since he’s really good at it, he’s naturally skeptical about the change. The league has tweaked rules this year, allowing touchbacks to be placed at the 25 to try to encourage more teams to not return kickoffs.
“It’s like taking away a job from people,” Hester said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “I got a concussion making a block at receiver. But I never got hurt taking hits back on kickoffs.”
Hester’s currently rehabbing a toe injury which apparently wasn’t suffered on a return. He has five career kickoff return touchdowns, and a 92-yarder in the Super Bowl.
So with a 24.9-yard career average on kickoff returns, you’ll pardon him if he’s not interested in a free crack at the 25-yard line.
“If we’re clicking, we can bring it back from pretty much anywhere; real talk,’’ Hester said. “If our return game is doing good, it’s pretty much the green light. The deepest I’ve fielded one [with Falcons] has been 7 or 8 yards in. The normal is about 4 or 5 yards deep.
“As far as how the other team kicks off, it’s all going to depend on one type of returner you have back there. If they believe in their coverage team they are going to try it.’’
Hester’s hoping they do. His job depends on it.
There are plenty of big names missing from Jets OTAs this week, but defensive end Sheldon Richardson isn’t among them.
Richardson is taking part in the team’s practices and met with the media after Wednesday’s session, which meant he faced questions about whether he’d be absent from any games during the regular season. Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in January to resolve an arrest from last summer for driving 143 m.p.h. while evading police with a 12-year-old in the car. Police also reported smelling marijuana, although neither drug possession nor child endangerment charges went forward.
On Wednesday, Richardson said he’s spoken to the league “here and there” but doesn’t know whether he’ll be suspended for any portion of the 2016 season.
“Positive vibes, man,” Richardson said, via ESPN.com. “If I get a letter saying I’m suspended, I’m suspended. I don’t really hang my hat on that. That happened last year, last offseason. [It’s] a new year, you know? I’m past it. I’m ready to play football.”
Richardson dropped 11 pounds from last year’s playing weight while preparing himself to play football in a season that will be factored into any long-term contract talks that might get underway with the Jets. Staying on the field would be a plus for Richardson — who was suspended four games in 2015 for a substance abuse violation — on that front because his off-field indiscretions have been the only thing to give pause about a new deal to this point in his career.
Wide receiver Wes Welker was out of football all of last offseason, but always insisted he wanted to continue playing despite the series of concussions he’d suffered over the course of his career.
Welker eventually signed with the Rams in November, although you’d be forgiven for having no memory of his eight games and 13 catches for a team playing out the string on a season and a city. Welker is a free agent once again and said during an appearance on NFL Network that his “heart and mind” are still going back and forth on whether he wants to pursue a 13th season.
“That’s kind of the million dollar question right now in trying to figure that out,” Welker said. “I think I’m weighing my options and really trying to figure out where to go with life next. But there are some days I wake up and I’m like ‘OK, I’m done.’ And other days I wake up and I’m like, ‘Oh, maybe one more year.’ But I’m trying not to rush into any decision but at the same time, know that and prepare myself for not playing.”
Given the lukewarm interest in Welker’s services last year, it’s hard to imagine teams are beating down his doors with offers to play and that could offer the final push that Welker needs to flip the switch from active NFL player to the next stage of life.
The Bills have a big hole at RT (Wait, can we say that?).
A young WR is standing outside Gillette Stadium asking the Patriots for a tryout (a young lawyer might have a better shot at employment).
Ravens OL John Urshcel made straight As in his four classes at MIT this spring.
Browns T Joe Thomas never asked for a trade this offseason.
The Steelers are adjusting to a bunch of newcomers on the defensive line.
Joe Philbin is happy to get back to teaching with the Colts
Chargers players dispersed around town to thank fans yesterday.
Lions president Rod Wood is “very optimistic” after seeing what came in the draft.
After missing on the Super Bowl, the Saints aren’t expected to bid to host the NFL Draft.
The Buccaneers signed a former college walk-on.
Some think the Seahawks have the best QB situation in the league.
Amid a report that Jets receiver Eric Decker is skipping Organized Team Activities to make a statement in support of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, it appears that Jets receiver Brandon Marshall is doing the same.
Although Marshall hasn’t said anything about the issue, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News connects the dots and concludes that both Decker and Marshall are skipping OTAs to show solidarity with Fitzpatrick, who remains an unsigned free agent.
It’s widely expected that Fitzpatrick will be the Jets’ starting quarterback this season, but the Jets aren’t offering Fitzpatrick the kind of money he wants, and so far it appears that neither side wants to budge on contract talks. The Jets are waiting until Fitzpatrick brings his price down, while Fitzpatrick is waiting for the Jets to increase their offer. Neither side has a lot of leverage: Fitzpatrick doesn’t have another team willing to make him its starting quarterback, while the Jets don’t want to be stuck with Geno Smith as their starter.
Marshall and Decker don’t want Smith, either. They’re making it clear that they want Fitzpatrick to be their guy, and they’re skipping voluntary workouts to make that point.
The Cowboys didn’t exactly draft their quarterback of the future this year, so the quarterback of the present figures he’ll just keep going until they do.
Via Todd Archer of ESPN.com, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said he can see himself playing beyond his current contract, which expires after the 2019 season. He even joked that with advances in modern medicine, perhaps “seven or eight years” is a possibility.
“I’m not in my mid-20s anymore, but I do think based on what my situation has been like the last three or four years, I do think this [offseason] is drastically different,” Romo said. “It takes me back five years ago when I was able to do things the way [I had]. I’m not there yet. I still got these months to just get after it, but it’s exciting to actually be able to get after it a little bit. But if everything keeps going the way it’s going, I think it’s going to be exciting going into camp.”
Romo missed most of last season with broken collarbones (the left one, twice). Surgery was performed in March to strengthen the area and he declared it a non-issue. But after back surgeries in 2013 left him limited, he hasn’t been able to prepare like this in some time.
“The further removed I am from surgery — and now it’s been quite a while — I can go a lot longer periods of time doing what I could do before. But for shorter periods of time before, it would just get heavy or I’d need a break or rest,” Romo said. “The torque you put on it, the jolting of stuff, the hits — it all takes a toll over time. When you have multiple back surgeries, you understand the process sometimes that it’s a little different.”
The 36-year-old quarterback hasn’t played a full season since 2012, but there’s still not a viable plan for life after him. The Cowboys failed in an attempt to trade up to get Paxton Lynch during the draft, settling on fourth-rounder Dak Prescott.
So it’s a good thing Romo feels better than ever, because they’re going to need him.
The Saints and quarterback Drew Brees still haven’t worked out a new deal that reduces his salary-cap number for 2016 below $30 million. There’s now an apparent deadline for getting a deal done.
“I don’t like to talk about contracts during the season,” Brees said Wednesday, via the Associated Press. “If you remember in 2011, where it began to drag into the season, three weeks in I was like, ‘I don’t want to deal with it anymore. I want to focus on football, focus on the season.’ That has always been my approach. That’ll be my approach again. There’s a deal to be done now, and if it doesn’t get done now, it’ll be a different deal to get done at the end of the year.”
That’s the closest Brees or his agent have come to pointing out the reality that, if the Saints allow Brees to play out the final year of his five-year, $100 million contract, the circumstances will change, dramatically. They’ll change thanks to the arbitration claim filed by Brees after the Saints applied the franchise tag to him in 2012, which resulted in a ruling that the next application of the tag to Brees will be the third of his career. As a result, he’ll be entitled to a 44-percent increase over his cap number from 2016.
That’s $43.2 million. For one year. For a quarterback who will be 38 in January.
This means that the Saints likely wouldn’t apply the tag to Brees, allowing instead for the market to set his value. Which creates the very real possibility that someone else will offer Brees dramatically more than the Saints will offer. Which, in turn, sets the stage for the possibility of Brees changing teams after what will be his 11th season in New Orleans.
While Brees leaving remains a long shot, teams use the franchise tag to keep key players off the market. When a player has a chance to go to the market (e.g., Ndamukong Suh), anything can happen. And with plenty of teams always searching for franchise quarterbacks, someone out there surely would love to have a Favre-in-Minnesota year or two with Brees.
As the NFL’s “Operation Mom” rolls on, there’s another important demographic they clearly need to spend some time convincing their methods are on the up-and-up.
In the wake of a Congressional report which accused the league of trying to influence government research into CTE, Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan said he’s disappointed if what he’s read is true, but not shocked.
“Guys just want to have the knowledge and the information available, and the NFL is supposed to take care of that in the form of research,” Morgan said, via the Tennesseean. “It’s disappointing, but to say it was a surprise, I’d be lying to you.”
That falls in line with the thinking of the players union, which in no way expects the league to be doing the right thing these days.
“We’re the only guys, people that suffer,” Morgan said. “We’re out there laying our bodies on the line, and going through the physical pains of playing football is part of the game. We understand that. We just want to have the knowledge and the information readily available so we can make decisions on our health. . . .
“I think back in February the NFL just admitted the link with CTE and everything. So I think guys, like myself, that hit home and caused me to start doing my own research and trying to find out on my own. We just want the NFL to be responsible and handle their end of the bargain.”
Complaints like those are going to be common among players, and it’s going to be difficult to convince them the league’s being trustworthy, as the relationship between management and labor seems to be getting more contentious with each passing issue.
The NFL officially tabled a proposal this week at the league meetings in Charlotte to allow access to in-game video on the sidelines for coaches and players.
The league has allowed still photos to be used to show formations and such for years. Recently, the league has transitioned from hard copies of photos printed off on the sidelines to using tablets to view the still shots. Moving to video is likely inevitable at some point in the near future. Competition committee chairman Rich McKay expects the proposal to ultimately be adopted after the upcoming season.
“We did an experiment last year in the preseason with video on the sidelines. We’ll go back to the teams that didn’t get to do that experiment and experiment again in this preseason and let them see it and touch it, and then I expect to see it on the field next season, not this coming season, but the season after,” McKay said in an interview with Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “It’s a change that I think – technology is coming. Colleges now are getting ready to introduce it. We’ve got states that have high schools that have introduced iPads on the sidelines. So technology is going to come to the sidelines.”
McKay said there was actually some push back from coaches that wanted to have more time to adapt and prepare for the change before it’s officially implemented.
“That is a big change. Don’t underestimate that change from a coaching perspective,” McKay said. “That’s not something they’re used to. So just like – as happened to us before when we’ve tried to introduce things – I think the coaches, and I don’t blame them for it, I think they’ve put their hand up and said ‘hold it, not so fast, let us just kind of digest how this change is going to impact us, how it’s going to impact the way we operate on the sidelines and operate in the coaching booths upstairs.’ So we tabled it yesterday.”
It shouldn’t take all that long for the coaches to be able to adapt to having a new resource on the sidelines. The 2017 season seems a reasonable expectation for when to see the change put into place for good.
Peyton Manning has plenty of decisions to make, now that he has retired. One of the first decisions he made was a smart one.
Christine Brennan of USA Today reports that Manning won’t be suing Al Jazeera over the report that HGH was delivered to Manning’s wife in 2011, while Manning was dealing with chronic neck problems. Per Brennan, the decision came “after a dozen conference calls with attorneys” prompted Manning to conclude “that he doesn’t want to spend the time and money necessary to file a lawsuit that would make public the personal records and private lives of both he and his wife Ashley.”
That’s precisely what a defamation case would do, especially since truth is the ultimate defense to a claim of libel or slander. A lawsuit would give Al Jazeera license to demand the production of all medical records reflecting treatment received by Peyton or Ashley Manning at the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis, and anywhere else.
Brennan also explains that Manning is watching closely defamation lawsuits filed by baseball players Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Howard against Al Jazeera arising from the same documentary. If/when those cases are dismissed, Manning will know that his case would have been dismissed, too.
Frankly, dismissal would have been the least of Peyton Manning’s problems. If the medical records suggest that Ashley Manning did indeed receive HGH for use by Peyton, that information could then be used by the NFL as part of its own investigation that according to Brennan remains stuck in neutral, five months after the report came to light. With Manning possibly aspiring to run an NFL team in the future, its possible that he’d be disciplined as an executive for violations occurring as a player.
Without litigation or some other court proceeding that will bring the information to light, the NFL has no way of obtaining the documents. Unless, of course, Peyton and Ashley Manning execute the appropriate legal documents authorizing the Guyer Institute to provide that information.
At one point, Peyton Manning suggested that he’d allow the NFL to examine that information. He may have a different feeling on that issue, now that his playing career is over.
Jets wide receiver Eric Decker has been absent from the team’s organized team activity (OTA) practices this week, and Brian Costello of the New York Post reported Wednesday night that Decker’s absence is related to the team’s ongoing contract standoff with free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Citing a source, Costello reported that Decker stayed away from the practices because he’s upset with the organization that Fitzpatrick remains unsigned.
The dots there are pretty easy to connect, though there are many reasons players miss OTA practices. With the quarterback market seemingly stagnant, it does seem time that the Jets and Fitzpatrick just do a deal. Whether or not Decker’s reported protest could impact that, we probably won’t ever know. We do know that Decker had a big season with Fitzpatrick throwing to him in 2015, and that Fitzpatrick has said he’d like to get a deal done to return.
These things happen — these absences and these negotiations — and at this point it seems like the Jets and Fitzpatrick will eventually get a deal done. Decker isn’t required to attend OTAs, and the front office obviously has its reasons and its stance in this matter.
Maybe he’s well ahead of schedule or maybe he’s right on it. Either way, the Redskins have to see having rookie cornerback Kendall Fuller in uniform for organized team activity (OTA) practices as a positive.
Fuller suffered a torn ACL last September that ended his third and final season at Virginia Tech. He was a spectator during rookie minicamp earlier this month but said he would “definitely” be ready for training camp.
Though the Redskins are monitoring him closely, Fuller participated in Wednesday’s OTA practice. Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said the team will be “cautious” and that Fuller will be eased into full work, but Gruden said he’s progressing well.
A healthy Fuller and the late April addition of Josh Norman potentially give the Redskins depth and talent at cornerback they didn’t have last season. Fuller was projected by many as a first-round pick had he been healthy during the pre-draft process; he was drafted by the Redskins in the third round.
The NFL’s response to the Congressional report regarding alleged efforts to interfere with a National Institutes of Health study has looked nothing like the scorched-earth approach taken earlier this year when the NFL strenuously objected to an article from the New York Times that accused the league of shoddy concussion research and haphazardly compared pro football to Big Tobacco. As the hours passed on Monday during ESPN’s incessant trumpet-blasting of the report, with public opinion hardening like reinforced concrete, the league remained silent.
On Tuesday, when Commissioner Roger Goodell met the media at the conclusion of the quarterly ownership meetings in Charlotte, Goodell initially downplayed the situation with this response: “I didn’t see the report, we were traveling down here.”
I engaged in a full analysis of the answer during Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. In lieu of me typing it up, you should just listen to it.
Here’s a quick summary: I didn’t like the response very much. If the league plans to devise a winning P.R. strategy to combat the siege mentality arising from the ongoing concussion crisis, the league should start with a more plausible strategy for adopting a dismissive tone regarding one of the more important Congressional reports generated regarding the league in recent years.
For the longer version, click play below.
The Buccaneers waived cornerback C.J. Wilson from their reserve-retired list Wednesday, clearing the way for Wilson to resume his career in the Canadian Football League.
Wilson lost two fingers on his right hand in a fireworks accident last July 4. Per his hometown newspaper, the Lincoln Times-News in Lincolnton, N.C., Wilson left last weekend for Winnipeg. Wilson’s agent confirmed Wednesday to the Tampa Bay Times that Wilson has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
CFL teams are opening training camps this week. The regular season starts in late June.
Wilson, 26, played in two games with the Bears in 2013 as an undrafted rookie and two for the Bucs in 2014.