Jaguars bringing back Tre Herndon on a one-year deal

NFL: JAN 14 AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Chargers at Jaguars
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Free agent cornerback Tre Herndon is returning to the Jaguars for a fifth season.

Herndon, 27, has agreed to terms on a one-year, $2.6 million deal guaranteed, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports.

Herndon has played 67 games with 30 starts in his career after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He has seen action on 2,626 defensive snap and 438 on special teams.

He has 197 tackles, three interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and 23 pass breakups in his career.

Herndon played 15 games with one start last season and totaled 36 tackles, five passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Drew Lock returning to Seahawks on a one-year deal

New York Jets v Seattle Seahawks
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The Seahawks have their top-two quarterbacks back in the fold.

Backup Drew Lock will rejoin Geno Smith in the quarterbacks room in Seattle, having agreed to a one-year contract with a base salary of $4 million with a maximum value of $7.5 million, Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports.

The Seahawks earlier signed Smith to a three-year, $75 million deal with a maximum value of $105 million.

General Manager John Schneider confirmed Lock’s return during his radio show on Seattle Sports 710 on Thursday afternoon.

Really happy for him,” Schneider said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Schneider called Lock “an awesome guy.”

The Seahawks acquired Lock in the Russell Wilson deal a year ago, but he lost a training camp battle with Smith for the starting job. Lock did not take a snap in 2022.

He went 24-of-39 for 273 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in two preseason games.

The Seahawks still could consider taking a quarterback in the first round since they hold the No. 5 and No. 20 overall selections.

Patriots re-sign Joe Cardona

NFL: NOV 06 Colts at Patriots
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Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona is re-signing with the team.

Retired Patriots defensive back Jason McCourty broke the news, and Mike Reiss of ESPN reports it is a four-year deal with a $1 million signing bonus.

Cardona, who has played the past eight seasons in New England, is the team’s second-longest tenured player behind Matthew Slater.

Cardona played 14 games last season before going on injured reserve with a torn tendon in his foot. It was the first games he ever missed in his career.

Cardona has played 127 games.

Falcons “very excited” about Desmond Ridder, not naming any starters right now

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
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Desmond Ridder closed out the 2022 season as the Falcons’ starting quarterback, but his status for the start of the 2023 season remains an open question.

That’s the word from Falcons head coach Arthur Smith as the offseason begins to unfold in Atlanta and elsewhere around the league. Smith said that he thinks Ridder’s “future is bright” after watching him make four starts as a rookie, but made it clear that the team isn’t setting anything in stone about starting jobs at this point in the calendar. The

“We’re not naming any starters right now,” Smith said, via the team’s website. “There are a lot of things that can happen. We’re very excited about Des, no different than we are about Tyler Allgeier and Drake London and the improvements they’ve made and guys who are currently on our roster. As always, all options are on the table. Anything that we can do to improve this team and help us win — and to ultimately win championships — that’s what we’re looking for.”

The Falcons have the eighth overall pick and a lot of space under the salary cap, so they will have several options to consider when it comes to quarterbacks in the coming weeks and months.

DeVonta Smith is in a walking boot, two weeks after Super Bowl


Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith suffered a lower-leg injury during Super Bowl LVII. Two weeks later, he’s still recovering from it.

Via, Smith rang the bell before the 76ers’ game against the Celtics. Smith was wearing a walking boot on his right leg.

Smith left the locker room after the loss to the Chiefs wearing a boot. While there’s no reason to believe the injury will limit his ability to participate in the offseason program, the presence of the boot means it’s a situation worth watching as the offseason continues to unfold.

Smith led all receivers in Super Bowl LVII with 100 receiving yards. He matched Chiefs receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster with the most catches in the game, at seven.

Meanwhile, Smith is a Celtics fan. After Boston won the game, and Smith received a signed jersey from Jayson Tatum, who scored a record-high 55 points last Sunday in the All-Star Game.

XFL’s challenge-anything rule could have minimized the James Bradberry Super Bowl controversy

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
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The XFL has adopted an unprecedented rule that allows a head coach to challenge anything he wants to challenge, once per game.

In the aftermath of the first weekend of XFL 3.0, MDS raised an interesting point about this tweak to the challenge procedure.

If the NFL had this rule — and if Eagles coach Nick Sirianni hadn’t previously used the challenge during Super Bowl LVII — he could have thrown the flag after cornerback James Bradberry was called for defensive holding late in the fourth quarter. The visual evidence then would have shown that the call was correct, the ruling would have stood, the Eagles would have lost a timeout, and the controversy over the call would have been less spirited.

Sure, some still would have complained that the officials didn’t call similar fouls all game long. (I’m still waiting for someone to send clips of instances of uncalled defensive holding with obvious jersey pulls by the defensive back.) But the ability of Sirianni to challenge the play, and the decision on review that the call was correct, would have minimized the vitriol.

Of course, that would have resulted in more people complaining about the piss-poor playing conditions.

Regardless, there’s value in having the ability to challenge anything. It’s the ultimate break-glass-in-event-of-emergency option that could have a huge impact on a game, a season, and/or a championship.

Fifteen years later, Andy Reid’s running backs know when to not score

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys
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Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon passed on scoring a touchdown late in the Super Bowl, in order to help his team keep the ball away from the Eagles, and to cement the win.

McKinnon recently explained that they practice this scenario every week, and that’s how coach Andy Reid coaches the players.

But it was the players who originally coached Reid on the strategy. Rewind to 2007. Eagles running back Brian Westbrook opted to go down late in a 10-6 win over the Cowboys not because he’d been coached that way, but because teammate Jon Runyan had given Westbrook an impromptu order to do so in the huddle.

“I got a stern talking-to by Runyan right before that play,” Westbrook said at the time. “He said, ‘Listen, if you’re down to the one, take a knee.'”

Westbrook said he wasn’t sure it was a good idea, but Runyan wouldn’t let it go.

“I looked back and I saw all 6-7 or 6-8 of him running toward me saying, ‘Get down,'” Westbrook said at the time. “So I got down.”

“They were going to let us score to get the ball back, so I suggested this because then they won’t get it back,” Runyan said at the time. “In a crazy game like this, you never know, you are a long kickoff return or a crazy play and an onside kick away from possibly losing the game.”

In Super Bowl LVII, the team that first used that strategy in a high-profile way ended up on the wrong side of it, largely because Runyan’s on-the-fly mandate to Westbrook has become baked in to the way Reid coaches his team.

NFL escaped the scrutiny it deserved for horrible Super Bowl field conditions


With every tweet, blurb, and video that argued, re-argued, and de-argued the question of whether officials should have flagged an instance of defensive holding that definitely happened late in Super Bowl LVII, those who run the NFL had to be smiling.

They were smiling not because they relished yet another officiating controversy, but because the overblown brouhaha over whether holding should have been called holding when holding actually occurred provided perfect cover for the reality that the field was an embarrassment to Big Shield and everyone associated with it.

How did that not become the top talking point coming out of the game? It’s the Super Bowl, for Pete Rozelle’s sake. The pre-eminent sporting event in America. A game that is acquiring more relevance every year around the world.

And the field was bad. Whatever the precise reason, players constantly slipped from start to finish.

The NFL, as it does whenever there are issues with the field, denied that there were issues with the field.

“The State Farm Stadium field surface met the required standards for the maintenance of natural surfaces, as per NFL policy,” the league said earlier in the week, dusting off the same-old, wagon-circling, all-is-well, two-plus-two-is-five statement that gets issued whenever our lying eyes start acting up on us. “The natural grass surface was tested throughout Super Bowl week and was in compliance with all mandatory NFL practices.”

By noon on Monday, Andy Bernard’s alma mater had sent out an email from Frank Rossi, associate professor and expert in grass management, who explained that surface performance is determined not by grass type but “by the environment — an indoor, low light, mostly enclosed stadium . . . on grass that routinely moves outside then back inside.” Rossi added that “this environment can allow humidity to increase at the field level and with minimal air movement can make the surface slick.”

Frankly, I don’t care if it was the grass or the environment or something/anything else. That’s not for me to handle. It’s not for any of us to handle. It’s for the NFL to handle, and for the NFL to handle it well.

It’s a pass-fail proposition. Either the grass performs well, or it doesn’t. On Sunday, it didn’t. Regardless of any corporate P.R.-speak from 345 Park Avenue, the league failed.

To his credit, Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman repeatedly said on Thursday that the conditions were the same for both teams. But this overlooks the fact that, to the extent the slippery surface neutralized the respective pass rushes, it hurt the Eagles more than it hurt the Chiefs.

That’s the real problem. The playing surface balanced out what should have been an advantage for the Eagles, who ended up with zero sacks after repeatedly swarming around quarterbacks all year long.

The broader problem is that we all know the field wasn’t good enough. Not even close. The other problem is that, by not making a bigger deal about it, there’s a chance it will happen again.

Unless we all make it clear that the outcome was unacceptable, it could be acceptable once again. Why wouldn’t it be? If the league doesn’t get properly dragged for staging the Super Bowl on a shitty field, where’s the incentive to keep it from happening at the next Super Bowl? Or the next one? Or the next?

Howie Roseman chooses not to complain about slick Super Bowl field

NFL: FEB 12 Super Bowl LVII - Eagles vs Chiefs
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Too much attention has been paid to a holding call that became specifically pivotal to the final outcome of Super Bowl LVII. Not nearly enough attention has been paid to the generally piss-poor playing surface.

Players were slip-sliding away, all game long. It became conspicuous. It became an embarrassment to everyone involved in producing and presenting the game.

It could could have been a convenient and plausible excuse for the Eagles, given that their pass rushers arguably weren’t able to plant and power around the edges. Meeting with reporters on Thursday, G.M. Howie Roseman declined to make excuses.

From the transcript circulated by the team, here’s the first question: “I know you guys don’t want to make excuses, but when you look at the field condition, what’s the organizational take on that? Is there any recourse you have with the league? Where do you go with that?”

“Both teams played on the same field,” Roseman said.

“Obviously your edge rushers, it’s a big strength of this team.”

“Both teams played on the same field,” Roseman reiterated.

It’s a shame that it happened, and it underscores the critical importance of ensuring that every surface allows for the men who play on it to keep their footing. Beyond creating a safety hazard, it’s a bad look for the biggest game of the year.

Hopefully, efforts already have commenced to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen next year at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Will NFL bring back the ban on pushing the runner?

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl LVII
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During the 2022 NFL season, we noticed multiple examples of offensive players pulling ball carriers in the open field.  The officials failed to call it, even though the officials recently had been reminded of the rule.

As noted at the time, the rule against pushing or pulling the runner changed in 2006, allowing the pushing but banning the pulling.

On a Friday edition of PFT Live the morning after the officials failed to penalize Eagles center Jason Kelce for pulling running back Kenneth Gainwell, Peter King and I pointed out (the video is attached) the distinction between pushing and pulling, arguing that teams should fully and completely embrace the license to shove, which had been hiding in plain sight for 16 years.

Coincidentally, or not, some teams thereafter began to do it more often. None have done it more effectively than the Eagles, who have come up with a tidal-wave formation that routinely sweeps quarterback Jalen Hurts as far as the team needs the ball to go.

“It becomes a football battering ram, an inverted tug-of-war,” we wrote in early November. “Shove the guy into the end zone.”

Again, that is exactly what has happened. And so, instead of pushing happening at the end of a play when a teammate shows up and gives the ball carrier a nudge, it has become a part of short-yardage offensive strategy from the snap.

This raises the question of whether, in the coming wave of tinkering with the rules, the league will consider reverting to the pre-2006 rule that prevented both pushing and pulling.

Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward recently has complained about the rule, arguing that the league should go back to banning the pushing of the player with the ball.

The process of looking at potential rule changes begins at the Scouting Combine. After those discussions, the Competition Committee will put together a list of potential rule changes. Time will tell whether the rule against pushing the runner will make the cut — and then whether at least 24 owners will support the change.

We can think of one in particular who will vote against it.

NFL Films footage shows James Bradberry pulling JuJu Smith-Schuster’s jersey

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
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Four days after the Super Bowl, a surprising number of people continue to suggest that an instance of defensive holding should not have been called defensive holding.

The argument apparently was rooted in the reality that we all wanted to witness a more exciting finish to Super Bowl LVII, and that the foul called on Eagles cornerback James Bradberry allowed the Chiefs to bleed the clock, kick a field goal, and give the ball back to the Eagles with fewer than 10 seconds on the clock.

The argument definitely isn’t rooted in whether holding happened. It did. And, under the rules, holding definitely happened.

“It is defensive holding if a player grasps an eligible offensive player (or his jersey) with his hands, or extends an arm or arms to cut off or encircle him,” the rulebook states.

Or his jersey.

NFL Films has provided a much more clear angle of the fact that Bradberry did indeed hold the jersey of Chiefs receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Bradberry admitted immediately after the game that he held Smith-Schuster, but that Bradberry simply hoped he’d get away with it. He didn’t. He shouldn’t have.

Why are people still insisting that the officials should have ignored a clear violation of the rules? Yes, there have been inconsistencies in the past. But that happens with defensive holding, offensive holding, false starts, etc. When holding happens and the official sees it (as he clearly did), what’s he supposed to do? Not call it, so that there will be a more dramatic finish to the Super Bowl?

Holding happened. Holding was seen. Holding was called. That’s exactly what should have happened in that spot.

Steve Spagnuolo had mixed feelings about Jerick McKinnon not scoring late in Super Bowl

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl LVII
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Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon could have scored a touchdown with 1:36 to play in the Super Bowl. It would have given Kansas City a six-point lead (pending the PAT), but it also would have given the Eagles a real chance to force overtime, or possibly to win a championship by going for — and getting — two.

Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo acknowledges that it was the right move. He nevertheless would have welcomed a chance to try to shut down the Philly offense with a Lombardi Trophy on the line.

I had mixed feelings,” Spagnuolo recently told Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio. “But part of me, after giving up that touchdown, wanted to go back out and close it somehow. . . . The pride in me as a defensive coach with defensive players, you want to go out and help close it for your team.”

Spagnuolo called it an “exceptional move” and described McKinnon as a “real smart player,” with the unselfishness to give up the chance to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl.

The touchdown also would have made it the highest-scoring Super Bowl every, with 76 points going on 77, possibly going on 84 and then, if the game went to overtime tied at 42, 87 or 90 or (given the new postseason overtime rules) 91 and then perhaps 98 and ultimately more than 100.

Patrick Mahomes: “This is just the beginning” (and he’s right)

Kansas City Chiefs Victory Parade
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At the conclusion of our item regarding Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes winning his second career Super Bowl MVP award, I borrowed a line from Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman.

I’m just getting warmed up.”

Mahomes, who was drinking something other than John Daniels on Wednesday but was in the same condition, offered up a variation of that sentiment at the victory celebration.

“This is just the beginning.”

The longer version went like this: “I just wanna let ya’ll know that this is just the beginning. We ain’t done yet.”

They definitely ain’t done yet. Mahomes, in five seasons as a starter, has already become a first-ballot Hall of Famer. To the extent that they ever start the “Upper Room” suggested by Deion Sanders, Mahomes has punched a ticket.

He has been to three Super Bowls in five years. If Dee Ford hadn’t jumped offside in the 2018 AFC Championship, it would be four. If the Chiefs hadn’t gotten a little too greedy (or felt compelled to engineer a pre-halftime touchdown for a former receiver who was a little too needy), it would be five.

And if coach Andy Reid hadn’t been quite as loyal to Alex Smith, Mahomes would have been deployed during an offensive funk in the 2017 season. And it could be six.

Here’s what should scare fans of every other team, for the foreseeable future. Mahomes is only 27. If he’s in his prime, he’s only in the front end of it. He’ll only get better.

With each season, he’ll have seen more. Experienced more. Understood more. Learned more. At some point, he’ll land in a sweet spot where he still has his physical skills — and he acquires the mind of a season offensive coordinator.

Even when he can’t run around like he does, buying just enough time to do something both effective and memorable, he’ll still have that glorious shortstop arm that can fire a ball from any arm angle, any body position.

Sorry, but get used to this. They won’t win it all every year, but in five more years they could have another two or three. Five after that, another two or three.

The chase for seven is likely to become a very real thing. And it should scare Tom Brady enough to change his mind and to try (again) to get the 49ers to give him a chance.

But even if Brady gets to eight, that may not be enough.

Remember this. Brady went a full 10 years between No. 3 and No. 4. Ten years from now, Mahomes may have already caught the GOAT.

The rest of us can either complain about it, or we can enjoy the closest thing the NFL has ever had to Michael Jordan, a player with unparalleled team achievements and unprecedented skills that change the way kids everywhere play the game.

That’s the best news. There will be more guys like him in the future, assuming others will unlock in themselves the kind of performances we’ve seen from Mahomes.

Hopefully, there will be. In the event that he’s truly a once-in-a-century talent, it’s all the more reason to sit back, enjoy the ride, and accept that he’s likely going to give your favorite team fits in the future, like he probably already has in the past.

Steve Spagnuolo is fine with not getting a second chance to be a head coach

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
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The coordinators of the team that lost the Super Bowl ended up with one hell of a consolation prize — they got head-coaching jobs. The coordinators of the team that won the Super Bowl didn’t.

But at least offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy got an interview. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who designed a game plan that limited the run and forced the Eagles to throw, hasn’t had his name come up for a second chance.

Appearing Tuesday with Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio, Spagnuolo was asked about the disparity between the opportunities afforded to Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and not to Bieniemy and Spagnuolo.

“It’s an interesting question,” Spagnuolo told Gelb. “Would I like the opportunity again? Yeah. I mean, it’s a prideful business and, you know, I think the second time around is always better for a lot of people. It’s been proven. Would I like another chance? Yes. But I’m happy for those other guys.

“Jonathan Gannon was with us with the Rams. He was a pro scout for us at the time, so I’m happy for him. And I wish all those guys luck. And I do know this: I’ve got a really good job. God has blessed me with the experiences I’ve had, and if it’s in God’s plans me to be a head coach down the road, I will be. It won’t have anything to do with anything else. And if that happens, I’ll be happy. And if not, I’m very content with what I’m doing now.”

The problem for Spagnulo is that things didn’t go well for him during his time with the Rams. He went 10-38 over three seasons, with 7-10 as the pimento loaf between the moldy bread of 1-15 and 2-14.

It’s hard to know how much of the blame should land on Spagnuolo, given that the Rams seemed to be more intent on laying the foundation to move to L.A. at the time than winning. Regardless, his record is what it is — and Spagnuolo has yet to parlay his efforts with the Kansas City defense into a second chance to be a head coach.

Plenty of former head coaches can’t even get a sniff. The problem is that, ultimately, there are too many potentially qualified candidates and not enough jobs.

In two key spots on Sunday, Nick Sirianni didn’t go for it on fourth down

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
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Eagles coach Nick Sirianni has a well-earned reputation for rolling the dice on fourth down. In two key spots during Super Bowl LVII, Sirianni kept the dice firmly in his hand.

The first came at the end of the long drive that followed Kansas City’s 10-play, 75-yard effort that trimmed the 10-point margin to three, 24-21. After 17 plays and nearly eight minutes of clock time, the Eagles faced fourth and six from the Chiefs’ 15.

I expected the Eagles to go for it there, since a field goal would have operated as an engraved invitation to Kansas City to seize the lead. I was surprised when Sirianni opted to settle for three. Based on A.J. Brown‘s comments from Tuesday, so was he.

If he was, others on the team likely were, too. It was a parting of the clouds, a ray of light that showed both the Eagles and the Chiefs that the squad that had been on the ropes in the first half was about to do to Philly’s football team what Philly’s favorite fictional son once did to Apollo Creed.

Then, after the Chiefs indeed drove 75 yards in nine plays to take the league on the play known simply as “corn dog,” the Eagles failed to convert on third and three from their own 32.

Then came fourth and three. A potent running game, led by the uncanny ability of quarterback Jalen Hurts to get whatever yardage his team may need. But instead of going for it, the Eagles punted.

A 65-yard return later and five more yards on three plays, and that was that. Chiefs up eight. Even though the Eagles tied the game and forced the Chiefs to drive the length of the field for the game-winning field goal, the damage had been done. The Eagles, after spending so much time on the brink of delivering a knockout, first chose to not try to re-establish a 10-point lead and then opted to give the ball back to an offense that had morphed from stagnant to unstoppable in two second-half drives.

Not long ago, the decision to take the three points followed by the decision to punt would never have been questioned, by anyone. Given that coaches like Sirianni have helped make previously unconventional strategies into mainstream thinking, what used to be conventional can now fairly be second guessed.

Here’s the takeaway. Coaches who commit to being aggressive should not allow the stakes to change their approach. Whether it’s the first half of Week One or the second half of the Super Bowl shouldn’t matter. Aggressive is as aggressive does, and coaches who choose to be aggressive all year long make their reluctance to be aggressive noteworthy.