Jameis Winston’s knee injury last season has him “hungrier” going into this season

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Jameis Winston became a starting quarterback again last season, but it lasted only seven games. He injured his knee in an Oct. 31 game against the Buccaneers, requiring season-ending surgery.

With Winston rehabbing and a free agent, the offseason began with uncertainty about the Saints’ starting quarterback for 2022. The Saints, though, didn’t acquire Deshaun Watson and re-signed Winston, so Winston returns for some unfinished business.

I just got hungrier,” Winston told NFL Media. “I got hungrier, because now it’s just an admiration and a passion I got for the game, but the hunger I had to be back out there with my teammates.”

Winston sat behind Drew Brees in 2020 but sitting and watching the end of last season was different.

“As a kid, my passion was always football. But being taken away from the game, I realized that my passion was playing football,” Winston said. “I just missed playing football, being with my teammates, game-planning. Just attacking the field with them.

“This was my first time in my life where — when I first got to the Saints, I got a chance to sit behind Drew, and took everything slowly — but this was the first time I was not in the building. I was really removed from it.”

Winston is taking his rehab “slowly,” but he expects to return Week 1.

“I know I’m going to be out there ready and prepared to go,” Winston said.

Winston, 28, threw 14 touchdowns, three interceptions, and the Saints had a 5-2 record in Winston’s seven starts.

Broncos re-sign Zack Johnson, waive Cortez Davis

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The Broncos cut Zack Johnson on Thursday. They re-signed him Monday.

The team announced it waived cornerback Cortez Davis in a corresponding move.

Johnson is a first-year player from North Dakota State who was on practice squads with Arizona and Denver in 2021. He was originally signed by Green Bay as a college free agent in 2020.

Johnson was a three-year starter at NDSU, playing 46 consecutive games from 2017-19. He twice earned All-America honors at right guard and right tackle.

Nick Saban warns college football could lose “parity”

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When former Dolphins coach and current I’m-not-going-to-be-the-Alabama-coach Alabama coach Nick Saban whined in January about college football needing “national legislation” to control name, image, and likeness revenue, my first thought was that he feared he wouldn’t be able to compete in this new college football world order, given that bigger cities with bigger financial resources behind their programs would swipe players that Saban currently lures to Tuscaloosa.

Some disagreed with this take, reasoning that Saban will find a way to continue his mastery of college football in a wild-west world featuring dramatic differences in the revenue being funneled to players in larger markets versus smaller ones. But would Saban be complaining about a system that he believes he’ll be able to master and control, or would he heed his mouth shut and continue to kick everyone’s ass?

Now, Saban is complaining again. Appearing with Paul Finebaum, Saban actually suggested that NIL threatens the parity of college football.

Yes, Nick Saban believes there’s parity in football. (But not that kind of parity.)

“Everything in college football has always had parity, same scholarships, same academic support, health care, whatever it is,” Saban said. “And I don’t think we have that balance right now, which could affect the parity of college football and college athletics as a whole. So I know we’ve got a lot of good people working on it. And I’m sure they’ll come up with a good solution for it.”

In fairness to Saban, he’s not talking about parity of performance. He’s talking about parity of resources. And he likes it that way.

Barring federal legislation, any attempt by the various schools to impose parity of resources has another name — federal antitrust violation. That’s what blew everything up in 2021, with a Supreme Court ruling and reasoning that gutted the ability of distinct colleges to come together and limit labor costs.

Saban’s latest comments underscore his concerns. He wants all things to be equal when it comes to what a program can offer, because that’s when he can make a difference with unparalleled recruiting skills. His silver tongue doesn’t stand a chance if someone else is carrying a golden goose.

This isn’t altruism by Saban. He’s protecting his turf, his roster, his ability to parlay parity of resources into disparity of results. Every time he talks about it, it becomes more clear.

Report: Jessie Bates has no plans to sign franchise tag

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Bengals safety Jessie Bates hasn’t shown up at the team’s voluntary offseason workouts because he hasn’t signed the franchise tag.

Tyler Dragon of USA Today reports Monday that Bates has no plans to sign the one-year, $12.91 million tag or play this season without a long-term deal.

The sides have hit an impasse in talks, according to Dragon, and they have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal.

The Bengals want to keep Bates long term, and Bates wants to remain long term. But the team did cover its bases by drafting safety Daxton Hill and defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt in the first two rounds and adding safety Tycen Anderson at No. 166 overall.

Bates totaled at least 100 tackles three of the past four seasons.

In his four-year career, Bates has 408 tackles, 35 pass deflections and 10 interceptions in 63 career games.

Panthers have home games that conflict with Presidents Cup finale, NASCAR race

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The scheduling gurus must take many factors into consideration. Not all can be accommodated.

As noted by the Charlotte Business Journal, via Sports Business Journal, the Panthers have a pair of home games that conflict with other local sporting events.

When the Panthers host the Saints on September 25, the final round of the Presidents Cup will be occurring at Quail Hollow Club, which is 12 miles away.

“We tried everything we could to work with them, unfortunately it didn’t seem to work for them,” Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris said.

Two weeks later, the Panthers host the 49ers on the same day of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Fall NASCAR race, one of the racing league’s playoff events. It happened before in 2000 and 2021, and it didn’t seem to impact either event.

Jermaine Johnson signs his four-year rookie deal

NFL: APR 28 2022 Draft
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The Jets have signed first-round pass rusher Jermaine Johnson, the team announced Monday. He received a four-year, $13.08 million fully guaranteed deal with a standard fifth-year option, Connor Hughes of TheAthletic.com reports.

Johnson was the third of three first-round choices for the Jets.

The Jets made the Florida State product the 26th overall choice after he was named ACC defensive player of the year in 2021. Johnson led the conference with 12 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss, while also totaling two forced fumbles and two pass breakups.

He played at three schools in five seasons, starting at Independence Community College before transferring to Georgia and finishing at FSU.

“It wasn’t a clean-cut, cookie-cutter way to get here, but I wouldn’t want it any other way because it truly created the man that’s seated in front of you,” Johnson said, via Ethan Greenberg of the team website. “I embrace it all. That is the real blessing. People talk about blessings being materialistic things, the real blessing is the journey for me and who I ended up becoming out of that. I couldn’t be more excited to go on the path that I went on.”

Johnny Stanton pays tribute to his physician, who was killed in church shooting

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The 52-year-old man killed during the Sunday shooting inside a California church was the primary care physician of Browns fullback Johnny Stanton.

Dr. John Cheng is being hailed as a hero after charging the gunman in the attack early Sunday afternoon at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the Orange County city of Laguna Woods. Five people were injured in the shooting, four critically.

Cheng specialized in sports medicine.

“I just found out the person killed in the Laguna Woods shooting yesterday was my primary care physician, Dr. John Cheng,” Stanton wrote on Twitter. “Absolute hero. He attacked the gunman and helped save so many in that church. I just wanted his name to be known. He will be missed.”

Cheng is survived by his wife and two children.

Dr. Cheng “did everything he could to disable the assailant,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said, via NBC Los Angeles.

He sacrificed himself so others could live,” Spitzer said.

Seahawks sign tryout players Elijah Jones, Liam Ryan

NFL: NOV 24 Seahawks at Eagles
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The Seahawks signed two players who took part in the team’s rookie minicamp as tryout players.

Cornerback Elijah Jones and offensive tackle Liam Ryan are the newest additions to the 90-player roster.

Jones appeared in five games at Oregon State last season. He previously spent three seasons at Kansas, appearing in 19 career games.

Ryan, who went undrafted out of Washington State in 2021, was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention pick in 2020. He started four games at left tackle as a senior. Liam started 13 games at left tackle as a junior and 13 games at left guard as a sophomore.

The Seahawks had two open spots on the roster after making several roster moves Friday.

Giants sign four draft picks

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The Giants signed both of their first-round picks over the weekend and they got four more picks under contract on Monday.

The team announced the signings of three fifth-round picks — linebacker Micah McFadden, defensive tackle D.J. Davidson, and guard Marcus McKethan — and sixth-round linebacker Darrian Beavers. Five of their picks from last month remain unsigned.

McFadden had 77 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks for Indiana last season while Davidson posted 57 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss at Arizona State. Beavers transferred from Connecticut to Cincinnati and started all 34 games he played for the Bearcats.

McKethan started 37 games at right guard during his time at North Carolina. He joined first-round pick Evan Neal and third-rounder Joshua Ezeudu as additions to the offensive line.

The Giants also signed a pair of undrafted rookies. Defensive end Ryder Anderson and defensive back Jordan Mosley will be trying to make the team over the rest of the offseason.

Bucs sign three, cut two

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The Buccaneers signed three players who tried out for the team over the weekend.

Coastal Carolina receiver Kameron Brown, James Madison defensive lineman Mike Greene and Yale tight end J.J. Howland showed up on the NFL’s transactions report Monday.

Brown caught 36 passes for 605 yards and five touchdowns last season. In two years with the Chanticleers, Brown made 56 receptions for 911 yards and eight scores.

Greene made 12 tackles for loss and five sacks last year. He had 18 sacks in his college career, including 7.5 in 2019 as a defensive tackle, and three while playing defensive end in 2020.

Howland caught 16 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns last year.

The Bucs waived defensive lineman Kobe Smith and receiver Austin Watkins in corresponding moves.

Inside the Jaire Alexander deal

NFL: JAN 22 NFC Divisional Round - 49ers at Packers
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The Packers have signed cornerback Jaire Alexander to a new contract. We’ve gotten a look at the numbers.

And now so will you.

Per a source with knowledge of the contract, here are the terms:

1. Signing bonus: $30 million.

2. 2022 base salary: $1.076 million.

3. 2023 offseason 90-man roster bonus: $11.45 million.

4. 2023 offseason workout bonus: $700,000.

5. 2023 per-game roster bonus: $650,000 total.

6. 2023 base salary: $1.2 million.

7. 2024 offseason 90-man roster bonus: $8 million.

8. 2024 offseason workout bonus: $700,000.

9. 2024 per-game roster bonus: $650,000 total.

10. 2024 base salary: $6.65 million.

11. 2025 offseason workout bonus: $700,000.

12. 2025 per-game roster bonus: $650,000 total.

13. 2025 base salary: $16.15 million.

14. 2026 offseason workout bonus: $700,000.

15. 2026 per-game roster bonus: $650,000 total.

16. 2026 base salary: $18.15 million.

17. 2023-26 Pro Bowl escalator: $250,000 per year.

Alexander was already due to earn $13.294 million in 2022, with another $782,000 for a seventeenth game.

The deal pays out a total of $98.076 million over five years, if all per-game roster bonuses are earned. That’s an average at signing of $19.615 million.

Removing the salary he was due to earn in 2022, the contract has a new-money average of $21 million.

Only the signing bonus is guaranteed. The Packers continue to refuse to fully guarantee money beyond the first year of a veteran, non-quarterback contract. Only the Bengals do the same. The Steelers broke that precedent last year with T.J. Watt‘s contract.

Commanders claim Drew Himmelman

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The Commanders continued shuffling their roster on Monday.

The team announced that they have claimed tackle Drew Himmelman off of waivers. Guard Zack Bailey has been dropped from the roster to make room for Himmelman.

Washington signed three other players after this weekend’s rookie minicamp with two players getting cut in corresponding moves. They will move into the OTA phase of their offseason program next week.

Himmelman was waived by the Broncos when they signed 13 undrafted rookie free agents last week. He joined Denver after going undrafted out of Illinois State in 2021 and spent his rookie season on the team’s practice squad.

Colts sign Alec Pierce

NFL: MAY 13 Indianapolis Colts Rookie Minicamp
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Colts second-round pick Alec Pierce is under contract.

The Colts announced that the wide receiver signed his four-year deal with the team on Monday. Pierce was the team’s top pick in April and he is the sixth of eight picks to sign with the team.

Pierce had 52 catches for 884 yards and four touchdowns during his final season at Cincinnati. He led the team in all three categories as the top target for Falcons third-round pick Desmond Ridder.

The rookie will join Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell, Dezmon Patton, Keke Coutee, Mike Strachan, and Ashton Dulin as receiving options for Matt Ryan, whose departure from Atlanta helped open the door for Ridder.

Jarvis Landry gets $3 million base deal; he can double it

NFL: JAN 09 Bengals at Browns
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At a time when the receiver market is going haywire, the Saints got a relative bargain.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the deal given to receiver Jarvis Landry has a base value of $3 million. He can make up to $3 million in incentives.

For catches, Landry gets $250,000 for 55 or $500,000 for 65 or $1 million for 75. For receiving touchdowns, he gets $500,000 for five. For playing time, he gets $500,000 if he hits 48.5 percent or more.

Landry gets another $500,000 for 60 catches and a playoff berth. He also gets $500,00 for 607 receiving yards and a playoff berth.

Landry still has plenty of gas in the tank, and he’ll help the New Orleans offense with reliable catches, leadership, and toughness.

Even if Landry hits every single incentive (which obviously would be great for the Saints), it’s still a huge bargain for New Orleans.

Texans claim Kendall Sheffield, Connor Wedington

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The Texans added a pair of players to their 90-man roster on Monday.

According to multiple reports, they have claimed cornerback Kendall Sheffield and wide receiver Connor Wedington off of waivers.

Sheffield was cut by the Falcons last Friday. He played in 38 games and started 20 times over three seasons in Atlanta. He has recorded 101 tackles and two forced fumbles in those appearances.

Wedington was waived by the 49ers after their rookie minicamp. He was undrafted in 2021 and spent time with the Seahawks before signing to the 49ers practice squad. He signed a futures contract with the team after they lost the NFC Championship Game, but fell out of the team’s plans over the last few months.

The Texans waived defensive backs Reggie Robinson and Kolby Harvell-Peel in corresponding moves.