Move over, Steve Weatherford. There’s a new candidate for America’s strongest punter.
That’s former Notre Dame punter Tyler Newsome, who did 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at Notre Dame’s Pro Day, according to Pete Sampson of TheAthletic.com.
That would be a great total for any position; it would have been second at the Scouting Combine among linebackers, fifth among defensive linemen and sixth among offensive linemen.
After Newsome was elected as a Notre Dame team captain last year, he said, “I’m a football player first and specialist second. My mindset is I am one of the guys. It’s nice to know that my teammates also respect me in that same way.”
It’s hard not to respect a punter who can lift like a lineman.
As expected, Patriots owner Robert Kraft will not be accepting an offer that would result in pending charges of solicitation of prostitution being dismissed.
CNN reports that Kraft won’t be entering into a deal that would see the charges disappear in exchange for an acknowledgement that, if prosecuted, he would have been convicted.
T.J. Quinn of ESPN.com previously reported that the request for an admission of a guilty verdict is a “non-starter” for Kraft.
Kraft, who is due to be arraigned on March 28, presumably needs a full and complete exoneration in order to avoid punishment from the Commissioner under the Personal Conduct Policy. Given the evidence as characterized by publicly-filed affidavits, Kraft’s lawyers could attack various technical flaws in the investigation, and they could pursue the more fundamental argument that there is no proof that solicitation as defined under Florida law occurred during Kraft’s interactions with a pair of Florida residents who worked at a day spa in Palm Beach County.
If Kraft digs in and fights and ultimately secures a dismissal on the merits, it will be difficult for the league to justify punishing him. Thus, unless the prosecution will offer him a full and complete dismissal, he may have no choice but to fight.
Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield was hoping for a big Pro Day after running a slow 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. It didn’t happen.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Holyfield’s first 40-yard dash today at Georgia was clocked at 4.81, 4.78 and 4.76 seconds by various people in attendance. Holyfield’s second 40-yard dash was timed at 4.86 and 4.89.
Those simply aren’t the times of an NFL running back, and they failed to improve on the 4.79 and 4.81-second 40-yard dashes Holyfield ran at the Combine. He’s a 4.8 40 guy, and that’s going to make it tough for him to get drafted.
Holyfield, the son of former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, was a productive player at Georgia last year, carrying 159 times for 1,018 yards. But sometimes production even at the highest levels of college football doesn’t translate to NFL success, and those 40 times are going to be a serious red flag. It’s possible that he’ll buck the trends, but few running backs with 40 times that slow make it in the NFL.
Former Broncos quarterback Chad Kelly and prosecutors reached a plea agreement to settle trespassing charges stemming from an October 2018 arrest.
Kelly pleaded guilty to misdemeanor second-degree trespassing in a Colorado courtroom on Wednesday. Kelly had previously pleaded not guilty to a felony first-degree trespassing charge, but that was dismissed as part of the agreement.
Kelly has not been sentenced to any jail time. Per multiple reports, he has been given one year of probation and will be required to complete 50 hours of community service.
The arrest came after Kelly entered a house uninvited, sat on a couch next to a woman who lived there and started mumbling before being chased out of the house by a male resident.
Kelly was a 2017 seventh-round pick of the Broncos and played one snap before being released in the wake of the arrest.
Safety Clayton Geathers has visited with a couple of teams this week, but he won’t be signing with either the Cowboys or Buccaneers.
Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star reports that Geathers is finalizing a deal to remain with the Colts.
Geathers was a Colts fourth-round pick in 2015 and started all 12 games he played for the team last year. Missing four games isn’t ideal, but it was a big step up from the previous two seasons when Geathers missed 18 games while dealing with neck problems.
He had 89 tackles and a forced fumble in those 12 starts and 20 more tackles in two postseason outings.
Once the deal is done, Geathers will be the sixth player to re-sign with the Colts this offseason. Kicker Adam Vinatieri, cornerback Pierre Desir, guard Mark Glowinski, defensive lineman Margus Hunt and wide receiver Chester Rogers are the others.
Running back Le'Veon Bell won his freedom from the Steelers by taking a stand and sitting out a full season. Now that he’s a member of the Jets, Bell reflected on the mindset of the team that made him a second-round pick in the 2013 draft.
“Pittsburgh is a great organization,” Bell told Jenny Vrentas of SI.com. “They’ve got a great owner, head coach. They kind of treat you like — they don’t treat you like you’re human. What I mean by that is like, yeah, I’m an NFL athlete, but still I’m a human being. You know what I’m saying? I still play video games, I still make music. They don’t want to allow you to be yourself. They want you to be, if you’re a Steelers, you’re literally playing football 24/7. You’re not supposed to be playing video games and like making music, playing basketball. You’re not supposed to be doing that. You’re supposed to be working out.”
You’re also supposed to be doing what the Steelers want as it relates to the structure of contracts. Which is what created the problem in the first place. If the Steelers had simply offered Bell the full amount of the franchise tag for 2017 ($12.1 million) and the full amount of the franchise tag for 2018 ($14.54 million), fully guaranteed, Bell quite possibly would have (and arguably should have) accepted a four- or five-year deal starting with $26.64 million over the first two years.
Instead, Bell made the $12.1 million, sat out a year, and got the $26.64 (plus .36) million fully guaranteed from the Jets. While the process was rocky and some remain determined to declare Bell a loser (presumably so that they can say they were right about their position that he shouldn’t sit out the year), the Steelers flicked the first domino by virtue of their stubborn refusal to deviate from the way they structure contracts, even when the player carries the franchise tag.
For more on this and other subjects, check out Wednesday’s PFTOT, appearing in the video attached to this blurb.
Prosecutors have offered to drop solicitation of prosecution charges against Patriots owner Robert Kraft in exchange for, among other things, an acknowledgement that his guilt would have been proven at trial.
Kraft apparently won’t be taking the deal.
Via NBCSportsBoston.com, T.J. Quinn of ESPN.com reports that the request for an admission that he would have been convicted is a “non-starter” for him.
“Expect intense negotiations over the next week in advance of Kraft’s scheduled March 28 court date,” Quinn tweeted.
It’s no surprise. Anything other than a complete exoneration positions Kraft for punishment under the Personal Conduct Policy. He needs an outright dismissal with no strings attached — and especially with no acknowledge of actual or even hypothetical guilt.
Oakland is quickly becoming the place where former Bengals gather.
PFT has confirmed that former Cincinnati safety George Iloka is visiting the Raiders.
If they sign him, he’d join linebacker Vontaze Burfict there, as defensive coordinator Paul Guenther puts familiar pieces together. They signed safety Lamarcus Joyner to pair with former first-rounder Karl Joseph, but could use depth there.
The soon-to-be-29-year-old Iloka spent last year with the Vikings, starting three games and appearing in all 16. He spent his first six seasons in Cincinnati.
Nick Bosa won’t be doing any drills at Ohio State’s Pro Day today, but he will be working.
Or, more accurately, going on a job interview.
According to Albert Breer of SI.com, the Ohio State defensive end is meeting and having dinner with the 49ers tonight.
If the Cardinals take quarterback Kyler Murray first overall (though that’s not guaranteed), the 49ers would ostensibly have their choice of any defensive player in a draft loaded with potentially immediate contributors.
Bosa would be a significant addition to a defense that has already added pass-rusher Dee Ford and linebacker Kwon Alexander this offseason.
Patriots defensive tackle Lawrence Guy and running back James White both just missed hitting performance bonuses in their contracts, but the team has decided to pay those bonuses anyway.
Guy is getting a $400,000 bonus and White is getting a $250,000 bonus, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports.
Guy’s contract called for a $400,000 bonus if he played at least 50 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps. He ended up playing 519 out of the Patriots’ 1,043 defensive plays, meaning he fell just three snaps short. The Patriots figured three snaps over a full season wasn’t enough to quibble over, so they gave him the $400,000.
White’s contract called for a $250,000 bonus if he totaled 1,200 yards from scrimmage. He finished the season with 1,176 yards from scrimmage. Again, the Patriots figured that a difference of 1.5 yards per game over a 16-game season was close enough.
Although the Patriots didn’t have to pay those bonuses, it’s probably smart to do so. A $650,000 hit on the salary cap is tiny compared to the loyalty it engenders when players feel like the team is going to reward them for a solid year, rather than nickel-and-dime them over a few plays or a few yards.
The statement issued after the trade that brought receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland had Beckham saying all the right things. His own words were slightly less effusive, calling the trade “bittersweet.” A recent social media post sent a more complicated message.
“I love you all so much, for the ones that follow and support I thank u all for that,” Beckham wrote Tuesday in an Instagram post that he then deleted, via 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland. “I’m takin an emotional, mental, physical/blah blah blah vacation. I appreciate the love honestly but at this moment for the next couple of days I’m goin dark. I won’t be around, phone is gone, with all due respect, please don’t text/call/FaceTime unless it’s of the utmost importance. I really need some time to vibe and just get away, process, reevaluate some of the things in my life, as much has changed for me recently. I’m doin amazing thanks for askin!!! Im really just tryin to get everything together and gather all my thoughts so I can take the next steps in my life to be the very very very best me moving forward . God bless u all and again thanks for the love and support, I will see u soon. . . . Always LUVVVVV.”
After the trade went down, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that Beckham (who has five years, $74 million left on his current contract) wants a new deal. Also, former teammate Saquon Barkley said Tuesday that he spoke to Beckham immediately after the trade and “I don’t think he was really happy about it.”
The deleted post could be interpreted as confirming that, or at least indicating that one week removed from the trade Beckham isn’t sure about his feelings on it. Or maybe he’s trying to figure out how to go about asking for a new deal without being perceived a distraction.
Regardless, the notion that Beckham unconditionally has embraced this dramatic change in his football life has eroded in the time since the trade happened, and it’s worth paying attention to everything he says and does as the offseason program approaches, including whether and to what extent he participates in the offseason program.
Ohio State will hold its Pro Day workout on Wednesday and quarterback Dwayne Haskins is one of the top prospects heading from Columbus to the NFL this year.
At least one team is using the occasion to do more that watch Haskins go through the motions on the field. Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that a contingent from the Giants that included head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula met with Haskins and had dinner with him on Tuesday night.
There have been varying reports about the Giants’ level of interest in Haskins, who threw 50 touchdowns in his only season as the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes, but there have been plenty of calls for the team to land a successor to Eli Manning.
General Manager Dave Gettleman has talked about following the “Kansas City model” of drafting a quarterback in the first round and using his rookie season as a learning experience. With two first round picks, the Giants are well stocked to put that plan into motion, assuming, of course, there’s a quarterback that strikes their fancy.
The Cardinals had a miserable 2018 season as a team, but Chandler Jones posted some good individual numbers while playing defensive end in the 4-3 scheme preferred by former head coach Steve Wilks.
While Jones had 13 sacks and three forced fumbles while starting every game, he’s happy about the fact that Wilks’ departure has led to a change in defensive philosophy. New coordinator Vance Joseph is bringing back the 3-4 and Jones is moving back to outside linebacker.
Jones said he’s “very excited” about that change and noted that he led the NFL with 17 sacks while playing the position in 2017. Jones is also feeling good about the team’s move to bring in Terrell Suggs to play opposite him in 2019.
“No more double teams,” Jones said, via the team’s website. “Someone with a big name like Terrell Suggs, it will be great for us. I’m excited to have him.”
It remains to be seen what other changes are in store for the Cardinals in the draft, but their early defensive moves have gotten a couple of thumbs up from an important constituent.
Free agency’s officially a week old today. It just feels like a month’s worth of transactions.
As of this writing, only 25 players from the PFT Free Agent Top 100 list remain available, including five of the top 50.
While Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is the top name on the list, there are many players among that group at the top with injury concerns which have impacted their markets.
Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah is coming off a year plagued by shoulder problems, so it’s reasonable to assume his reported visits are for teams to see if they’re comfortable with what he can offer. There have been reports of mutual interest in defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson returning to Green Bay after last year’s broken ankle cut short his season, but so far nothing’s been done.
The list of available players slants heavily toward defense, with just six of the 25 coming from the offensive side of the ball. That group is led by Raiders tight end Jared Cook (42). He caught 68 passes for 896 yards and six touchdowns last year, making a bit strange we haven’t heard more about the interest in him.
There’s still plenty of movement happening, so keep it here for the latest comings and goings.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has been criticized at times for giving players too wide a berth, and selectively deciding who to apply certain rules to.
But for new Steelers linebacker Mark Barron, his new boss’s style was a plus in deciding to come to Pittsburgh.
“With the things I heard about him, I thought it might be a good fit,” Barron said, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “The way he goes about things and how straight up and down he is about his work and how he handles and communicates with players.
“I feel like I’m a similar type of person. I’m straight up and down. I like things to be on the table clear cut.”
What’s less clear is his role when he walks in the door. He’s not a like-for-like replacement at inside linebacker for Ryan Shazier (whose loss on the field has never been compensated for), but he’s far more than a sub-package player with safety experience like Morgan Burnett was last year.
“I don’t think I’ll be coming off the field,” Barron said.
He’s still 6-1 and 214 pounds, and knows that requires something more from him to play inside.
“If a guy is going to be a smaller linebacker, he has to be tough,” Barron said. “He has to be physical. He has to be strong. He also has to be smart and understand that you are undersized, so you have to do some things differently in how you attack playing the run.
“For the most part, you have to be a pretty tough guy.”
It’s also a unique locker room, but Barron seems to like what he knows about it so far.