Silas Redd trying to pull a Jarryd Hayne in reverse by playing rugby league

Getty Images

Former Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne declared his intentions to come to the United States to pursue an NFL career in late 2014 and found himself as a member of the San Francisco 49ers the following spring.

Now former NFL running back Silas Redd is looking to do the opposite.

Redd has relocated to Australia in the hopes of becoming a premier player in the NRL. He will begin playing with the Ipswich Jets in the Intrust Super Cup. He has his first practice with the team on Wednesday.

I know it is going to be hard work to switch over and play at the highest level, but that is something I am willing to put in the work for,” Redd said, via Joel Gould of NRL.com.

“I don’t think there is any drop-off in athleticism between the NFL and NRL, and Jarryd was fearless. It was just a whole new game to what he knew and he was able to conquer it. I just hope I can put forth that same effort.”

Hayne ultimately appeared in eight games for the 49ers in 2015. He carried 17 times for 52 yards and caught six passes for 27 yards.

Redd played in 15 games with the Washington Redskins in 2014 before injuries and substance-abuse suspensions derailed his career.

Vikings make hire of Todd Downing as senior offensive assistant official

Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings officially announced the addition of former Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing to their coaching staff on Monday.

Downing is joining the staff as a senior offensive assistant under head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, It’s a return home for Downing, who grew up in Eden Prairie, Minn. and began his coaching career with the Vikings under Mike Tice in 2001 as a research and development intern. He spent five years with Minnesota before making stops with the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills and Raiders.

Downing spent one year as offensive coordinator and two years as quarterbacks coach with the Raiders before Jack Del Rio was fired at the end of the season.

Polian thinks Eagles should want a lot for Foles

Getty Images

Former G.M. Bill Polian said Monday that former Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson should move to receiver. As it turns out, that was only the second dumbest thing Polian said Monday.

Polian also said that the Eagles should not listen to any offers for backup quarterback Nick Foles unless they start with a pair of first-round picks and a second-round pick.

It’s a ludicrous, unrealistic assessment of the situation. The Eagles currently have Foles under contract for only one more season. He’ll revert to being a backup, behind Carson Wentz, in 2018. A year from now, Foles will be able to walk away, with the Eagles getting at most a compensatory draft pick in 2020.

Foles has trade value, but the Eagles should pounce on offers far less than two ones and a two. With more free-agent quarterbacks than ever available this year and a strong complement of incoming rookies, teams with needs will be able to fill them without getting grifted for Foles.

If the Eagles decide to reward Foles, who based on things said (and not said) last week may eventually be looking for one, a second-round pick (maybe even a high third-rounder) would be fair to everyone. If someone is willing to offer a first-round pick for Foles, the Eagles should rush to take it.

When it comes to putting a value on Foles, the problem is that, even though he took the Eagles to the Super Bowl and won it, he’s still regarded as a curiosity, an inconsistency. A guy who may never be able to duplicate what he did for the Eagles, especially if he’s playing for another team.

It’s not an unreasonable observation. When he played for teams other than the Eagles, Foles struggled. While there may be plenty of reasons for that unrelated to Foles, the likely reaction by the fan base of any team that trades for Foles will be, “Can he do what he did there here?”

That’s not the best way to generate offseason excitement, which is one of the realistic purposes of paying veterans with recognizable names. Foles definitely has a recognizable name, but he’s not widely regarded as a franchise quarterback. People still attach reactions like “fluke” and “luck” and “system” to his name, which will make it impossible for the Eagles to get the kind of windfall Polian recommends.

Dolphins could pursue C.J. Anderson again if Broncos release him

Getty Images

C.J. Anderson almost became a Dolphin two years ago. The Broncos, though, matched Miami’s offer sheet.

Now, two years later, the Broncos could make the running back a salary-cap casualty as he has a $4.5 million salary cap number for 2018. His release would free up nearly $5 million for the Broncos to pursue Kirk Cousins.

If the Broncos part ways with Anderson, the Dolphins again could have interest, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports.

Anderson played for Dolphins coach Adam Gase when Gase ran the Denver offense.

Anderson, who turned 27 earlier this month, set career highs in 2017 with 245 carries for 1,007 yards. He also caught 28 passes for 224 yards.

The Dolphins, who traded Jay Ajayi during the season, could lose Damien Williams, who is scheduled to become a free agent.

Mayfield keeps trying to avoid Manziel comparisons

Getty Images

Many continue to compare Johnny Manziel to Baker Mayfield. And that continues to bother Baker Mayfield.

We’re two completely different people,” Mayfield said Monday, via the Associated Press. “I’ve always been a team-oriented guy. Not saying that Johnny wasn’t. But I’ve quickly earned the respect of my teammates because of how I worked.

“I wasn’t given the natural talent that Johnny had. Because he’s a talent. And there’s a reason he got taken in the first round, amazing player. We’re just not the same mentally. Just wired differently.”

Mayfield is trying to walk a fine line between making sure he’s not viewed as another Manziel without saying anything that would be regarded as offensive about Manziel. It’s impossible to do both, however.

If Mayfield is going to say, “I’m not Manziel,” Mayfield shouldn’t run from the fact that he’s trying not to be compared to Manziel for the negative reasons, including off-field issues or a substandard work ethic. Mayfield’s only alternative will be to respond to any Manziel comparisons by saying, “I understand why people would try to make comparisons to past players. But I’m my own person, and anyone who takes the time to get to know me will realize that.”

Whatever his strategy, Mayfield needs one. With teams sensing that the comparisons to Manziel may bother Mayfield, making those comparisons — repeatedly — during meetings with Manziel at the Scouting Combine and elsewhere will be the most efficient way to bust through the faςade and get to the real guy, especially if there’s a temper that will be triggered by enough direct references to and questions about Manziel.

Baker Mayfield says he will not attend NFL draft

Getty Images

A year ago, the No. 1 overall pick, Myles Garrett, stayed in his hometown of Arlington, Texas, rather than attend the NFL draft in Philadelphia. This year the draft is in Arlington, and one of the draft’s top prospects won’t be attending.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was in Fort Worth on Monday night to pick up the Davey O’Brien Award, and during a round of interviews, the Heisman Trophy winner told Newy Scruggs of DFW’s NBC5 that his draft-day plans do not include AT&T Stadium.

Mayfield would have served as the headliner of draft week.

It is not unprecedented for a top quarterback prospect to stay home for the draft, though most usually attend. The top quarterbacks in 2015, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, chose not to attend. Winston went first overall, and Mariota was the second choice.

Jets apparently ready to let Ben Ijalana test free agency

Getty Images

The Jets apparently are ready to let offensive tackle Ben Ijalana become a free agent, Rich Cimini of ESPN reports. The Jets faced a Monday deadline to exercise a $500,000 option bonus and have not done so.

It is not a surprise since the option would have triggered a $4.5 million base salary for 2018.

The Jets will save $4.7 million on the cap but could lose the swing tackle by letting him test the market. He started 13 games in 2016 and none in 2017, though he played 11 games last season.

The team is expected to carve out more cap room by cutting defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and running back Matt Forte among others.

Bucs hire Brenston Buckner as DL coach

Getty Images

The Buccaneers have hired Brenston Buckner as their defensive line coach, the team announced.

Buckner will replace Jay Hayes, who Tampa Bay fired on February 9.

The Buccaneers also interviewed University of Miami defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, their own assistant defensive line coach, Paul Spicer, and former Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino.

Buckner, 46, spent the past five seasons as the Cardinals’ defensive line coach. Arizona led the league with 48 sacks in 2016. The Bucs had a league-low 22 sacks last season.

Buckner, who had a 12-year career as an NFL defensive lineman, crossed paths with Bucs General Manager Jason Licht in Arizona in 2013.

D.J. Swearinger still insists team will miss Kendall Fuller but is “moving forward”

Getty Images

D.J. Swearinger probably still isn’t happy with the team’s trade of cornerback Kendall Fuller, but the Washington safety is “moving forward.”

Swearinger went on a Twitter rant after Washington’s deal for Alex Smith was reported during Super Bowl week. He openly criticized the trade of Fuller, something he now says he didn’t handle “the correct way.”

I’m extremely over it, man,” Swearinger said on NFL Up to the Minute Live on Monday, via NFL Media. “You know I understand the business is the business. I was a little heated. You know I didn’t want to see one of my guys that I was in the meeting room with, shedding blood, sweat and tears. Did a lot of things, a lot of great plays for us, but for the future, we got what we needed, and the organization handled it the way they needed to handle it. And my hat’s off to the organization. I didn’t handle that the correct way, and we’re moving forward now.”

Swearinger calls Smith a “great player” who has done “a lot of great things in this league.” But Swearinger makes it clear his feelings on Fuller, who he calls “the No. 1 slot corner in the game.”

“No, I wasn’t [alone] at all,” Swearinger said. “Especially the DBs. Especially when you’re in the room with a guy every day; you see his work ethic; you see him grow as a second-year player. You never want to see that. But it’s a blessing in disguise. Everything happens for a reason, and we’re moving forward from it.”

On Lamar Jackson, Josh McCown disagrees with Bill Polian

Getty Images

Friday’s PFT Live included a visit with Jets quarterback Josh McCown. And it eventually became apparent that McCown is a budding draft expert.

“For me that’s part of what I enjoy doing,” McCown said regarding the analysis of incoming rookie quarterbacks. “I’ve got a computer set up in my office here at the house with all the college quarterbacks on it, and I’m watching them. For me trying to sharpen my skills as being able to evaluate young guys coming into this league. I would like to do that one day. Obviously whether it’s with the Jets or anybody to be able to say, ‘This is my thoughts or opinions on a guy.’ I would love to share that. I think that’s part of it. At this age you have to welcome the young guys in and be able to share your knowledge with them.”

Unlike former NFL G.M. Bill Polian, who has hitched his wagon to the “Lamar Jackson should move to receiver” narrative, McCown believes Jackson will thrive.

“A lot of times what you have to look at is what are these young guys being asked to do in their systems?” McCown said. “When you get a talent like Lamar you can go, ‘Man, there is so much that we can do.’ Especially with . . . the RPOs and things like that. There’s an ability to move the football with his legs. We saw it at times when he just won football games with his legs, period.

“I think sometimes when you see that then it’s easy to just go, ‘Man, he should play receiver.’ But when you watch this guy throw the ball, he’s really got a good whip. The ball comes out of his hand pretty hard. Those are the things I think you have to take into consideration.”

McCown actually thinks that, with the changes to the pro game in recent years, Jackson could do even better at the next level.

“You get a guy like that — and I’m not comparing him to Dak Prescott — but why did Dak Prescott go in the fourth round?” McCown said. “Well, because maybe in college he wasn’t being asked to make some of these throws and play in a system. Then he gets into the league, and his game translates to the league better than college. I think Lamar Jackson could fall in that mold where you get this kid and you say, ‘Hey do these things,’ and that may open up a whole other part of his skill set that we didn’t see. Even more recently Deshaun Watson last year. He’s an intriguing prospect to me because of his athleticism, because of the home run speed that he has and because I think when you get him into a system there’s a lot of upside for him.”

Here’s hoping that current evaluators listen more to McCown and less to Polian. They have every reason to do that, given that there still aren’t enough good quarterbacks to go around.

Buccaneers interview University of Miami DL coach Craig Kuligowski

Getty Images

The Buccaneers have interviewed University of Miami defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski for their vacant defensive line coaching position, pewterreport.com reports.

Tampa Bay also has interviewed assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer, former Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino and former Cardinals defensive tackle Brentson Buckner.

The Bucs fired former defensive line coach Jay Hayes on February 9.

Kuligowski has spent two seasons at the University of Miami and earned a promotion to assistant head coach last season. The Hurricanes led the nation with 43 sacks in 2017.

Kuligowski previously worked for Missouri for 15 seasons.

Jason Kelce on his parade speech: It wasn’t all off the cuff

Getty Images

The Eagles’ Super Bowl run made Nick Foles a star. The Super Bowl parade turned Jason Kelce into one.

“It’s been pretty crazy to say the least,” Kelce said Monday, via David Murphy of phillynews.com. “I don’t think I expected that before the speech. It was just building up for a long time, and it kind of all just came out in that moment.”

Kelce showed up for the Phillies’ first full-squad workout at spring training in Clearwater, Fla., and was the center of attention. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

He said he learned the night before the parade that he was one of the players selected to speak.

“It wasn’t all off the cuff,” Kelce said. “This is stuff that had been brewing for a long time. The night before, I couldn’t really sleep. I was kind of like up, just sitting there thinking. They had just told me I was going to talk, so I was like, ‘What could I say? What should I say?’ That’s when I really started thinking about all the different guys who had overcome things or been counted out and had rebounded well, and it was really from the top down. You saw it with everybody, and you started seeing that parallel with the city of Philadelphia and how much the city has struggled for this championship for a long time and how much they’ve been kind of down and out. It just all kind of blended together on the spot, I guess.”

Kelce said he watched his speech afterward to see the reactions from Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman.

NBA’s all-star game fails to outdraw NFL’s

AP

The NFL’s Pro Bowl stinks. But as long as it continues to draw an audience (and churn a profit), the NFL will continue to stage it.

It definitely draws an audience, and surely churns a profit. This year’s game, played on a Sunday afternoon, generated a rating of 5.9. That’s more than 15 percent higher than the rating generated in prime time on Sunday night by the NBA All-Star Game.

Via multiple reports, the basketball game drew a 5.1, despite being broadcast on both TBS and TNT. Of course, the Pro Bowl was simulcast as well, on both ESPN and ABC. And, yes, broadcast networks like ABC typically generate bigger numbers.

Still, the fact that football’s worthless, meaningless, intensity-less end-of-season exhibition, which requires multiple rounds of invitations to fill up the rosters, can outpace the NBA’s midseason cavalcade of superstars shows that football is still the king, regardless of the wishful thinking and/or misguided takes of people with a vested interest in seeing basketball catch and surpass football.

It’s simply not happening now, and it won’t be happening any time soon.

Eddie George ready to see Derrick Henry get his chance

Getty Images

Speculation began soon after DeMarco Murray‘s knee injury in Week 16 that the Titans could move on without him. Murray, 30, has two years remaining on his contract but with no more guaranteed money.

Murray’s base salary of $6.25 million in 2018, combined with the emergence of Derrick Henry, makes Murray a cap-casualty candidate.

Former Titans running back Eddie George, for one, is campaigning for the team to make Henry the feature back next season.

“He’s got to get more opportunities,” George said, via Jason Wolf of The Tennessean. “He’s got to be given an opportunity to be the guy, and allow the game to come to him, versus him trying to show improvement, make something big happen and show that he’s worthwhile in this league. Because when you’re in that position, the second guy in, you don’t know when you’re going to get your opportunities. You want to make the most of it.”

Henry, 24, led the Titans with 744 yards on 176 carries and scored five rushing touchdowns. He set a postseason single-game franchise record with 191 yards from scrimmage against the Chiefs and gained 49 yards from scrimmage against the Patriots.

Team-by-team look at potential tag candidates

Getty Images

On Tuesday, the annual two-week window opens for applying franchise or transition tags. Every year, we look at the potential tag candidates, on a team-by-team basis.

Last year, we waited until just a few days before the window closed, officially explaining that few if any tags ever are applied early in the process. This year, I basically decided not to procrastinate.

Dolphins: Receiver Jarvis Landry could be slapped with either tag. The franchise tag has received the most attention in articles regarding his future, but the transition tag would give Landry a chance to see what’s available elsewhere — and it would give the Dolphins a chance to match whatever someone else would offer to a player who may not attract a top-of-market package.

Bills: The trade of receiver Sammy Watkins left the Bills with no tag-worthy players in 2018.

Jets: The Jets hope to re-sign tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but their reported offer of $8 million over two years falls well short of what the tag would cost. Also, their misadventures with defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, who parlayed the tag into a long-term deal the Jets would like to escape, could make them hesitant about using it again.

Patriots: A couple of years ago, cornerback Malcolm Butler seemed destined to be tagged, if he didn’t sign a big-money deal. Now, he’ll exit as a guy who played no defensive snaps in Super Bowl LII. There’s no one else they should consider tagging, especially with tackle Nate Solder exempt and running back Dion Lewis playing a position with a cost-prohibitive tender.

Steelers: Running back Le’Veon Bell could be tagged again, but the one-year tender would increase by 20 percent, from $12.1 million to more than $14.5 million. The Steelers prefer signing him to a long-term deal, which will be hard to do if Bell insists on $14.5 million for 2018 as the starting point.

Bengals: They didn’t apply the tag a year ago to tackle Andrew Whitworth or guard Kevin Zeitler; they don’t have more viable candidates this year.

Browns: The worst franchise in the league has earned that title in part by having no players who are worthy of the franchise tag.

Ravens: Center Ryan Jensen benefits from the fact that offensive lineman are lumped into one bucket for the franchise tag, which means that a guard or center will be paid like a left tackle, if tagged. Which means that few if any centers or guards will ever be tagged.

Texans: A year after watching up-and-coming cornerback A.J. Bouye walk away in free agency, they won’t be stopping significantly older cornerback Johnathan Joseph from leaving.

Colts: The Colts aren’t as bad as the Browns, but the Colts are afflicted by the same lack of talent that will keep anyone (other than Andrew Luck, if he ever gets healthy) from ever being tagged.

Titans: Kicker Ryan Succop could be tagged, but it would cost more than $5 million to do it.

Jaguars: Receiver Allen Robinson tore an ACL in Week One, and he’s due to become a free agent. He believes he’s healthy; if the team agrees, he could be tagged. (Like Jarvis Landry, the transition tag could be an option; for Robinson, the unknown about his knee could keep other teams from making him an offer the Jags couldn’t or wouldn’t match.)

Broncos: The silver lining from the dark cloud of a bad year is that there are no impending free agents who merit special consideration.

Chiefs: Some tough decisions are coming, with players like Marcus Peters (2020), Tyreek Hill (2020), Kareem Hunt (2021), and Patrick Mahomes (2022) heading toward free agency. For now, there’s no one to tag.

Chargers: Safety Tre Boston is a candidate for the franchise tag or the cheaper transition tag. Beyond that, they don’t really have anyone worth tagging.

Raiders: Their 2018 tag money went toward quarterback Derek Carr‘s contract. Their 2019 tag money could end up going toward linebacker Khalil Mack‘s long-term deal.

Cowboys: The Cowboys reportedly will apply the franchise tag to defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.

Washington: Quarterback Kirk Cousins could be tagged again, if Washington follows through on its misguided plan to get immediate compensation for Cousins by trading him. It would be a mistake, for various reasons. It also could be challenged, and beaten.

Giants: Guard Justin Pugh will be hitting the open market, if he isn’t tagged. Again, the tag for interior offensive lineman has become, as a practical matter, the tag for exterior offensive lineman. Specifically, left tackles. Which means it could cost more than $15 million to keep Pugh around for one more year. Which means Pugh could end up in Jacksonville, with the guy who drafted him five years ago.

Eagles: Things would be very interesting in Philly if Nick Foles had signed only a one-year deal. With Foles under contract through 2018, there’s no one else who’d justify the investment of a franchise or transition tag.

Vikings: If the Vikings are going to spend more than $24 million to use the franchise tag on quarterback Case Keenum, they should consider breaking the bank on a long-term deal for Kirk Cousins. Or paying less to get A.J. McCarron. Franchise-tagging Keenum comes with a 20-percent bump in 2019 and a 44-percent hike in 2020, which makes it anything but a long-term solution. The transition tag could be an option, allowing the Vikings to keep Keenum at a cheaper rate and giving them a right to match any offer sheet he signs.

Packers: With receiver Davante Adams signed, safety Morgan Burnett remains the only remotely viable candidate for the tag. If the Packers truly want him, however, they’ll more likely find a way to sign him to a multi-year deal.

Lions: The biggest decision for the Lions will be whether to apply the franchise tag to defensive end Ziggy Ansah. He finished his rookie contract with a flourish, racking up 12.0 sacks. Two years before, he had a career-high 14.5. But it’s that donut hole of 2016, when Ansah managed only two sacks in 13 games, that gives the Lions pause. They may want to be sure they’re getting the double-digit guy before they do anything more than a one-year rental.

Bears: The Bears have to decide whether to tag cornerback Kyle Fuller, a former first-round pick who they deemed a year ago to not be worthy of the fifth-year option. If Fuller had previously played like he did in 2017, a different decision would have been made.

Panthers: They’re not expected to tag either of their primary candidates — guard Andrew Norwell or defensive lineman Star Lotulelei. The question becomes whether they re-sign either of them in competition with the open market.

Buccaneers: Another year, another roster containing no free agents worthy of the tag.

Falcons: The tag is a long shot for the Falcons, with the possible exception of kicker Matt Bryant. It would cost more than $5 million for one more year.

Saints: They can’t tag quarterback Drew Brees. They won’t tag anyone else.

Seahawks: Tight end Jimmy Graham hasn’t done enough in three seasons with the team to justify a tag. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson possibly did enough in one season, especially in light of the investment made to get him from the Jets last year (receiver Jermaine Kearse and a second-round pick).

49ers: With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo signed to a five-year deal, there’s no one to tag.

Cardinals: Like the 49ers, there’s no one to tag — unlike the 49ers, there’s no quarterback on the roster.

Rams: After tagging cornerback Trumaine Johnson for two straight years, it would cost quarterback money to tag him a third time. Receiver Sammy Watkins could be kept under contract via the tag for a lot less than that.