Kaepernick hopes to invalidate the CBA through collusion grievance

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Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the NFL alleging collusion in relation to his ongoing unemployment. Eventually, we’ll explain what he needs to prove, and what he doesn’t need to prove, in order to show that collusion occurred. For now, let’s focus on what he wants to do.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Kaepernick wants to trigger termination of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Article 69, Section 2 of the CBA allows for the agreement to be terminated prematurely in the event of proof of collusion. Under Article 17, Section 16(c) of the CBA, termination can arise from only one incident of collusion involving only one player if there is clear and convincing evidence of a violation.

The ramifications would be enormous, and historical. Kaepernick could give all players a tremendous piece of leverage, moving up the expiration of the contract by more than three years and forcing the owners back to the bargaining table.

Former NFL player Sean Gilbert proposed, in connection with his effort to become the NFLPA’s executive director, the potential termination of the CBA in early 2015, based on collusion arising from the funding rule applicable to guaranteed contracts. Gilbert did not win, and the collusion case was never filed.

Union will support Colin Kaepernick’s grievance, but had no role in it

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The NFL players’ union says it will support Colin Kaepernick in his grievance against the NFL, but the union also says it had no role in it and didn’t even learn of it until it was reported in the media today.

In a statement issued this evening, the NFL Players Association said it plans to work with Kaepernick advisors.

“Our union has a duty to assist Mr. Kaepernick as we do all players and we will support him,” the statement said. “The NFLPA has been in regular contact with Mr. Kaepernick’s representatives for the past year about his options and our union agreed to follow the direction of his advisors throughout that time. We first learned through media reports today that Mr. Kaepernick filed a grievance claiming collusion through our arbitration system and is represented by his own counsel. We learned that the NFL was informed of his intention to file this grievance before today. We are scheduling a call with his advisors for early this week.”

It’s unclear why Kaepernick and his advisors did not inform the union about the grievance, but the union still seems to think it has a role in helping Kaepernick fight to get back on the field.

C.J. Beathard will start at quarterback for 49ers next week

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The 49ers made a quarterback change during Sunday’s loss and it will be a permanent one.

C.J. Beathard relieved Brian Hoyer before halftime with the 49ers down 17-0 and went 19-of-36 for 245 yards. After the 26-24 loss to the Redskins was finished, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan announced that Beathard, who also threw a touchdown and an interception, will get the start against the Cowboys in Week Seven.

“I thought he came in and competed,” Shanahan said. “By no means were things perfect, but the game isn’t too big for the guy. He comes in and doesn’t hesitate. He’s extremely tough. He came in there and gave us a little spark. He made a few off-schedule plays which was nice. We will watch the film. It wasn’t perfect, but when you’ve got a tough guy who hangs in there and competes, I think he’ll learn from it.”

Beathard was a third-round pick this April and he’ll become the fourth rookie quarterback to start a game, joining Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer.

Mark Geragos confirms filing of Colin Kaepernick collusion grievance

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Attorney Mark Geragos, whose client list has included the likes of Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Scott Peterson, and Chris Brown (pictured with Geragos), now represents Colin Kaepernick. Geragos confirmed on Sunday night that a grievance alleging collusion has been filed against the NFL.

“We can confirm that this morning we filed a grievance under the CBA on behalf of Colin Kaepernick,” Geragos said in a statement. “This was done only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.

“If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protests — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government. Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation. Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance.

“Colin Kaepernick’s goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field.”

It’s unclear whether the grievance will help or hurt Kaepernick’s effort. On one hand, it could push the league to nudge a team to sign him. On the other hand, it could underscore the perception that Kaepernick brings baggage that outweighs his current talent level.

X-rays negative on Jameis Winston’s shoulder

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Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said X-rays on Jameis Winston‘s right shoulder were negative. Winston will undergo an MRI this week, though.

The quarterback expects to play next week, saying “I’ll be back. Soon,” via the Tampa Bay Times. He said he wanted to return Sunday after his injury, and the Bucs said he could have played in an emergency situation.

Winston, though, said his shoulder was too sore, and the Bucs held him out to avoid the risk of further injury.

Chandler Jones dropped Winston on his right side in the first half, and Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced him. Winston finished 5-of-10 for 61 yards.

Case Keenum not thinking about Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater

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Sunday started for the Vikings with a report from Jay Glazer of FOX Sports that quarterback Sam Bradford‘s knee injury is worse than has been acknowledged and it ended with a 23-10 victory over a Packers team that may not have Aaron Rodgers back before the 2018 season gets underway.

Case Keenum was the quarterback for the Vikings in that win and Bradford’s situation leaves him as the starter for the indefinite future. If Glazer’s report is accurate — Mike Zimmer said Bradford’s injury is not “any more serious than what it is” — the biggest threat to Keenum’s starting job may come from Teddy Bridgewater, who is eligible to be activated from the physically unable to perform list this week.

After the game, Keenum said he’s not paying attention to how the rehab is going for either of the injured quarterbacks.

“I don’t think anything of [the Bradford and Bridgewater situations],” Keenum said, via the Pioneer Press. “I’m playing quarterback and I love to play quarterback. … There’s a lot of externals in this business. … But I don’t have to answer that question. I can go out and play quarterback and have fun.”

Keenum was 24-of-38 for 239 yards, a touchdown and an interception on Sunday. He’s had more impressive outings, but the victory makes everything look better and a winning record will remain a strong argument for Keenum’s continued place in the lineup regardless of who else is available.

Rams beat Jaguars 27-17 with special teams

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The Jaguars had more first downs (19-12), more plays (66-56), more yards (389-249) but not more points. They lost to the Rams 27-17.

Special teams made the difference.

Jaguars kicker Jason Myers missed two 54-yard field goals. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein hit a 56-yard field goal, which came after Jaguars punter Brad Nortman shanked a punt 16 yards.

The Rams also got a 103-yard kickoff return from Pharoh Cooper and a blocked punt by Cory Littleton on Nortman that Malcolm Brown returned 6 yards for a touchdown.

Otherwise, it was all Jaguars.

Leonard Fournette‘s first carry went for a 75-yard touchdown, and he finished with 130 yards on 21 carries before leaving with a right ankle injury in the fourth quarter. The team said he could have returned.

Blake Bortles completed 23 of 35 passes for 241 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell had two more sacks, giving him eight for the season.

Todd Gurley led the Rams with 116 yards on 23 carries, as quarterback Jared Goff went only 11-of-21 for 124 yards and a touchdown.

Steelers hand Chiefs first loss of season

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Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said this week that the Chiefs would see linebacker James Harrison on Sunday despite Harrison being inactive the last two weeks and playing sparingly when he was active in previous weeks.

The Chiefs saw Harrison at a very big moment of Sunday’s game. Harrison dropped Alex Smith for a sack on a third down as the Chiefs were trying to mount a last-minute comeback victory. Smith was incomplete on the next play and the Steelers held on for a 19-13 win.

It was a game that probably shouldn’t have been that close as the Steelers shut down the Chiefs in the first half. Kansas City had six total yards at halftime and they didn’t do any better in the third quarter, but the Steelers couldn’t extend their 12-3 lead. The Chiefs passed on a field goal to go for it from the Pittsburgh 4-yard-line early in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get in and that left them chasing the Steelers after their next drive ended with a touchdown.

The gap got bigger on the ensuing Steelers drive when a fortuitous bounce paid off for Antonio Brown. A Ben Roethlisberger pass bounced off Phillip Gaines‘ helmet and Brown grabbed it out of the air before sprinting for a 51-yard touchdown that made it a two-score game once again.

Brown’s big play balanced a big day for Le'Veon Bell. Bell ran 32 times for 179 yards and a touchdown as the Steelers offense bounced back from a bad outing against the Jaguars. They’ll try to keep it going in a home date with the Bengals next Sunday that will offer them a chance to put more space between them and the other teams in the AFC North.

The Chiefs will not have as much time to rest before their next outing. They’ll face the Raiders on Thursday in a road game that the 2-4 Raiders badly need to keep their heads above water in the playoff race. To keep that from happening, the Chiefs will need to figure out why their offense went off track for so much of Sunday’s game and get it moving as it was during their 5-0 start.

Chargers make it two in a row with upset of Raiders

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Just when the Chargers looked like we could leave them for dead, they’ve suddenly won two in a row.

The Chargers went to Oakland and upset the Raiders today, completing a 17-16 comeback victory with a last-second field goal. The newly signed Nick Novak hit the game-winner for the Chargers.

Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers had a good game, completing 25 of 36 passes for 268 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Hunter Henry had a big game with 90 yards receiving.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr returned from his back injury but did not play well, completing 21 of 30 passes for just 171 yards, with two interceptions.

The Chargers and Raiders are now both 2-4, but they have to feel a lot different about their records. The Chargers have to be pleased that they’re in the midst of a turnaround. The Raiders, who had Super Bowl aspirations, feel like one of the NFL’s biggest disappointments.

Leonard Fournette leaves with ankle injury

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Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette left in the fourth quarter with a right ankle injury. The Jaguars listed him as questionable to return, but he did not re-enter the game.

Fournette scared the Jaguars and their fans when he was injured on a run for no yards. He went to the medical tent and began jogging on the sideline to test it out.

Fox announced he could have returned, but the Jaguars trailed by 10 points with time running down. They lost 27-17.

Chris Ivory replaced Fournette, who finished with 21 carries for 130 yards and a touchdown. Fournette joined former Patriots running back Robert Edwards as the only rookies to score a touchdown in each of his team’s first six games.

Cardinals lean on their old guys for big win

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The old guys can still get it done, and the Cardinals have a new life.

With big games from 32-year-old running back Adrian Peterson and 34-year-old Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals took a closer-than-it-had-to-be 38-33 win over the Buccaneers to improve to 3-3.

Peterson ran 26 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns, Fitzgerald caught 10 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown, and the Cardinals built enough of a lead to hang onto a weird Bucs comeback.

Peterson hadn’t had a 100-yard rushing game since Dec. 27, 2015, when he went for 104 against the Giants. It was also more than the Cardinals have run for as a team in any game this season (their high was 83) in his first game since coming over in a trade with the Saints.

The Bucs (2-3) managed to rally in the second half after trailing 31-0, but the biggest concern is the condition of quarterback Jameis Winston, who suffered a right shoulder injury and left in the second quarter.

Winston was dropped onto his throwing shoulder by Chandler Jones on the first possession, but continued to play into the second quarter.

The second half was mostly interesting to smart people, as Buccaneers backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Brate, in what is believed to be the first touchdown connection involving Harvard graduates in NFL history.

NFL saw “clear and obvious” evidence of Seferian-Jenkins fumble, failure to recover

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The biggest officiating controversy of the day, if not of the year, came from the Patriots-Jets game, which featured what appears to be a proper application of the most unfair rule in football.

In the fourth quarter, Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught the ball and carried it into the end zone. The ruling on the field was that he has scored a touchdown.

After further review, the touchdown for the Jets became a touchback for the Patriots.

So what happened? Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron (who has final say on all replay reviews) saw “clear and obvious” evidence of two key facts: (1) Seferian-Jenkins losing possession before he reached the goal line; and (2) Seferian-Jenkins failing to properly secure possession before he, and the ball, were out of bounds in the end zone.

The problem for the Jets is that Seferian-Jenkins failed to recover the ball before landing out of bounds in the end zone. If it had happened in the field of play, the Jets would have kept possession at the spot of the fumble. Because the ball went out of bounds in the end zone without Seferian-Jenkins regaining possession of it, by rule the outcome became a touchback for the Patriots.

The rule itself is ridiculously unfair. The defense, which has done nothing to secure possession of the ball, is awarded possession simply because the ball went out of bounds in the end zone. If the ball had gone out of bounds at the one, the Jets would have kept it.

As posted a year ago today, former NFL senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino acknowledged that the NFL will continue to discuss the touchback rule.

This has been discussed in the past,” Blandino said in a weekly media officiating video. “It will continue to be discussed [and] compared to the fumble forward out of bounds in the field of play where the offense maintains possession. That has been part of the discussion. But again the Competition Committee has not felt compelled to change this rule. And I’m sure they’ll discuss it again and we’ll see where they land after the season.”

With Seferian-Jenkins landing out of bounds without possession and the outcome landing like a thud with any fair-minded football fan, hopefully the discussion will continue.

Landon Collins active for Giants

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The Giants didn’t have much space on their inactive list after ruling out six players with injuries on Friday and they didn’t need one for the only player listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week.

Safety Landon Collins didn’t practice at all during the week for the 0-5 Giants, but he will be in the lineup against the Broncos after an on-field workout before the game went well.

Linebacker Jonathan Casillas, defensive end Romeo Okwara, running back Paul Perkins, center Weston Richburg, wide receiver Sterling Shepard and defensive end Olivier Vernon were the players ruled out. Quarterback Davis Webb is the lone healthy scratch for the Giants, who are also without the suspended cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

The Broncos ruled out quarterback Paxton Lynch and wide receiver Cody Latimer on Friday. Running back De'Angelo Henderson, defensive back Lorenzo Doss, tackle Donald Stephenson, defensive lineman Kyle Peko and defensive lineman Zach Kerr are the other inactives.

Deshaun Watson doing things no rookie quarterback has done

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Deshaun Watson showed up to work wearing a Warren Moon jersey. He then went out and reminded Texans fans of the Hall of Famer Moon’s Houston Oiler days.

“I’ve got great respect for Warren Moon,” Watson said, via quotes distributed by the team. “. . . We’ve been communicating throughout camp and throughout the season. He’s a great guy that I can look up to and ask for advice because he’s been in my shoes before. I just texted him and he said he’ll send me a jersey, so I pulled it out for this outfit.”

Watson completed 17 of 29 passes for 225 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in Houston’s 33-17 victory. His league-leading 15 touchdown passes this season are as many as the Texans had all of last season.

Watson is putting up historic numbers, according to notes released by the team:

His 15 touchdown passes are the most by a rookie in his first six games in NFL history and tied for the most by any quarterback in NFL history through his first six career games (Mark Rypien and Kurt Warner).

He has become the first rookie in NFL history with three or more touchdown passes in three consecutive games.

He has become the first rookie in NFL history with 225 or more passing yards and 20 or more rushing yards in four consecutive games.

He has passed Ryan Mallett (1,170) for the ninth-most passing yards in Texans history.

“It’s pretty cool. It’s straight,” Watson said of throwing at least three touchdowns again. “I should’ve had more. I missed some opportunities out there, but if you look at the big picture and kind of see the things I’m doing, it goes all to the support cast I have around me and the people that push me. . . . So this is bigger than me, and the support cast that’s helping me do the things I’m doing. It’s an honor, and I appreciate all of them.”

Kyle Shanahan: “Nothing true” about Carlos Hyde trade chatter

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After the 49ers lost to the Colts in overtime in Week Five, linebacker Navorro Bowman and running back Carlos Hyde both discussed their displeasure with a drop in playing time from previous weeks.

Bowman was released on Friday after reports that the team was trying to trade him surfaced earlier in the day. There’s been chatter about a possible trade involving Hyde as well, but 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan put the kibosh on it after Sunday’s 26-24 loss to Washington.

“Nothing true about that,” Shanahan said, via the Sacramento Bee.

Hyde, who said he spoke to General Manager John Lynch and was told the same, saw less playing time than Matt Breida in Week Five, but got the majority of the work in the backfield this Sunday. He ran 13 times for 28 yards and two touchdowns and caught five passes for 47 yards in the loss.