Tyrann Mathieu: If we can put Super Bowl loss behind us, it’ll build us moving forward

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Though they came close, the Chiefs were unable to complete their bid to “run it back” in the 2020 season, ultimately falling to the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.

It’s been a few months since that game and Kansas City has made several transactions in an effort to get the team ready to win its second Super Bowl in three years. But it can be hard to get over a loss like that, which is why safety Tyrann Mathieu said this year’s Chiefs team needs to use it as fuel.

“I’ve probably watched it maybe four or five times,” Mathieu said in his Monday press conference. “Every time I watch it, it kind of hurts a little bit more. For me, it’s all about staying on top of my guys. I think losses like that can kind of derail certain teams. I think for us, if we’re able to kind of put it behind us but learn from it, I think it’ll be one of those games that can kind of build us going forward.”

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes recently said that he thinks defeats can help you more than success. If that’s the case, then Mathieu and Mahomes should be able to get the team on track to have another successful season in 2021.

Vikings players say “many of us” will not attend in-person work this offseason

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NFL teams were able to start the first phase of offseason programs on Monday and Vikings players joined their peers from 19 other teams in issuing a statement about their plans for the in-person portion of that program.

As has been the case for a number of those teams, the Vikings players said that many players will not participate but that it was not a unanimous decision about how to proceed.

“We have come together as a team and many of us have decided to exercise our right to not attend in-person, voluntary workouts,” the statement said. “Given the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and the inadequate safety procedures recommended by the NFL, this is the safest path forward for us and our families. This decision was also informed by the dramatic drop in injuries we saw during the 2020 season.”

“We are committed as a team to holding each other accountable to ensure everyone is working out and participating in the virtual offseason. We understand that some players will go into the facility for different reasons, but feel strongly, as a unit, about putting our overall health and safety first.”

The first phase of offseason work lasts four weeks and is comprised of virtual meetings and voluntary, in-person strength and conditioning work.

Rams COO optimistic Matthew Stafford will “help put us over the top”

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Rams COO Kevin Demoff says there are no regrets about the contract they gave Jared Goff, but there’s no question they think they upgraded at quarterback when they replaced Goff with Matthew Stafford this offseason.

Demoff said Stafford has a veteran presence that will help the Rams, and that Stafford may be the difference between where the Rams have been and where they want to be, which is winning the Super Bowl.

“It’s a new beginning at that position with a player who’s had a really decorated career to date,” Demoff said of Stafford, via the Los Angeles Daily News. “And we’re hopeful he’ll help put us over the top.”

Given that the Rams traded Goff, a 2021 third-round pick and 2022 and 2023 first-round picks for Stafford, the Rams have to think he makes them not a little better but a lot better. They’re going all-in with the quarterback they think can win them a Super Bowl.

Which franchises would be in an eight-team NFL Super League?

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The talk of a Super League of soccer teams provided the impetus for Monday’s PFT Live draft: Which NFL teams would receive charter membership in an eight-team Super League?

We’ve given the Chiefs and the Buccaneers charter membership, given the current state of both teams. Simms and I picked the next six.

It wasn’t easy. Some quality franchises were omitted. Some of you may disagree with those omissions.

Chime in below with where we got it right and where we got it wrong. And even though an NFL Super League won’t happen, there’s one specific way that an NFL Super League could happen. I’ll discuss it later today or tonight in a separate post, unless I forget to do so which is entirely possible.

Could current offseason workout fight cause more teams to use workout bonuses?

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With the current labor deal between the NFL and NFL Players Association in place for another decade, the question of whether players will or won’t show up for voluntary workouts could linger. There’s a way that teams could try to deal with it.

More teams could begin to use workout bonuses more regularly, in an effort to resolve the question of whether players will show up for voluntary workouts long before they have to actually do so. If teams like the Chiefs, Jaguars, Bills, and Packers (whose players aren’t being pressed by the union to stay away) begin placing significant workout bonuses into the contracts of multiple players, more teams wouldn’t have to worry about players choosing not to show up for offseason workouts.

The players can say no. But the players don’t negotiate the contracts; their agents do. Some players will simply do whatever their agents recommend, and plenty of agents would prefer that their players work out at the team facility.

Of course, whether and to what extent agents agree to workout bonuses could also become a recruiting point for agents. Those who refuse to ever agree to a workout bonus on behalf of a client could attract more clients, particularly those clients who don’t want their money tied to working out with the team.

Regardless, the not-so-subtle leverage that comes from a six-figure workout bonus — leverage that will help the Chiefs, Jaguars, Bills, and Packers see normal offseason participation in 2021 — could attract other teams to do the same, as to all contracts negotiated between now and the 2022 offseason program.

Stephen Jones: Early run on QBs in draft “certainly helps us out”

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The Cowboys signed Dak Prescott to a new contract this offseason and that move takes them out of the market for a quarterback at the top of this month’s draft.

Plenty of other teams are in that market and the first three picks are widely expected to be quarterbacks. Two others could come off the board in the next few picks and Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan that he likes the way that sets up for the team’s pick at No. 10.

“That certainly helps us out, since we signed our quarterback of the future this spring and know he’s the answer to our riddle,” Jones said, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.

Jones added that it helps with what will be available “defensively,” which wouldn’t be a bad area for the Cowboys to focus on even if team owner Jerry Jones is infatuated by tight end Kyle Pitts’ potential.

Aldon Smith wanted in Louisiana on battery charge

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Aldon Smith signed with the Seahawks last week, but his availability for the coming season could be impacted by a criminal case in Louisiana.

Travers Mackel of WDSU shares a bulletin from St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann stating that Smith is wanted for second degree battery. Smith allegedly committed that battery during an incident at the French Press Coffee House in Chalmette.

Mackel adds that law enforcement leaders say there is video evidence of the incident.

The bulletin adds that Smith was last seen in a white Nissan sedan and asks that anyone with knowledge of Smith’s whereabouts contact the Sheriff’s office.

Smith spent last season with the Cowboys and saw his first NFL action since legal troubles and a suspension derailed his career in 2015.

Patrick Mahomes: Chiefs still have time to decide on in-person voluntary workouts

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As teams begin offseason programs around the league, the Chiefs are one franchise whose players have not yet issued a statement on how they will proceed with in-person, voluntary workouts.

With 25 players having workout bonuses totaling $3.053 million, the NFLPA is unlikely to push Kansas City to take collective action against attending the voluntary offseason program.

Speaking from the Chiefs’ facility on Monday, quarterback Patrick Mahomes noted he and the rest of the players still have a while to determine their course of action.

“Obviously it’s virtual right now, so we still have a little bit of time to think about it and figure out what’s the best plan for us as a team,” Mahomes said. “But we’re in talks with the NFLPA, and we’re trying to figure out what’s best not only for us but for the entire league. And I know coming into the building today and having to sit and wait for test results to get back in, and we only have a couple people here today — I know it’s going to be crazy once we get the whole roster here. So trying to figure out what’s best for not only myself, not only the Chiefs, but what’s best for the teams around the league. We’ll figure it out in the next couple of weeks and we’ll be able to get back to you then.”

As Mahomes noted, meetings during Phase One of the offseason program are all virtual, though players can still come to the facility to work out and/or receive treatment. Mahomes falls into the latter category, having undergone surgery to repair ligaments in the big toe of his left foot earlier this offseason.

On-field work with coaching instruction won’t begin until mid-May with Phase Two of the offseason program, followed by 10 OTA practices and a mandatory minicamp in Phase Three.

Patrick Mahomes feels “ahead of schedule” after toe surgery

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Patrick Mahomes wasn’t just posing for Adidas photos at the Masters earlier this month.

During his press conference to open the offseason program on Monday, Mahomes said he was out of the walking boot following surgery to repair ligaments in the big toe of his left foot.

“I think I’m progressing well. I think I’m ahead of schedule, myself. Obviously, they’re trying to be cautious and not push me out there too soon. But I’m doing what I can,” Mahomes said. “I’m trying to get back on the field and get that stuff working. So I’m sure they’ll keep me along that same pathway so that I can hopefully do some stuff by the end of the offseason.”

Head coach Andy Reid also noted Mahomes is doing “tremendous” in his recovery on Monday.

Mahomes underwent the surgery days after the Chiefs lost Super Bowl LV to the Bucs in February.

Deshaun Watson’s first official response calls the lawsuits against him a “money grab”

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The battle has been joined.

After weeks of press conferences and lawyer statements and a skirmish over whether the plaintiffs would proceed in their own names (they now are) in cases alleging misconduct during massage sessions, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has filed a formal answer to the first lawsuit that was filed against him last month. The document filed by Watson’s lawyer in the case filed by Ashley Solis calls the entire effort a “money grab.”

The document, titled “Deshaun Watson’s Original Answer,” seems to have been written much more for the media than for the court. On the first page, it summarizes alleged facts that Watson’s lawyers have learned since obtaining the names of the plaintiffs. Watson, through his lawyers, contends that: (1) eight of the plaintiffs “bragged about, praised and were excited about massaging” Watson; (2) seven of the plaintiffs “willingly worked or offered to work” with Watson “after their alleged incidents”; (3) three plaintiffs “lied about the number of sessions they actually had” with Watson; (4) five plaintiffs “lied about their alleged trauma and resulting harm”; (4) five plaintiffs “told others they want to get money out of” Watson; and (5) five plaintiffs have “scrubbed or entirely deleted their social media accounts.”

At the top of page 2 of the document comes this contention: “It was not until the plaintiffs saw an opportunity for a money grab that they changed their stories to convert therapy sessions they bragged about to friends and family to something much more nefarious.” In the next paragraph, the document alleges that the characterizations of Watson’s conduct “range from being misleading, to fraudulent, to slanderous.”

The document paints all plaintiffs with that brush, claiming that all of them are engaged in an effort to secure money from Watson. The document also lists form pages 3 through 5 specific issues with the allegations of numerous plaintiffs, even though the document was filed in a case relevant only to the allegations made by Ashley Solis.

As to her allegations, the document relies solely on a “General Denial,” without responding the the various allegations on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. Presumably, Watson will file a similar document in response to each of the other 21 cases.

The goal by taking such an aggressive position could be to motivate the plaintiffs to settle, before the discovery process results in the exploration of documents and the interrogation of each plaintiff, under oath. Unless the cases are resolved, that’s precisely what will happen. All of the plaintiffs, as well as Watson, will have aggressive questioning and other scrutiny as both sides attempt to prepare for an eventual trial in each of these 22 cases.

Andy Reid: Patrick Mahomes doing “tremendous” after toe surgery

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After undergoing surgery to repair ligament damage to the big toe in his left foot, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was recently photographed at the Masters without a walking boot.

Mahomes’ toe is apparently doing well, with head coach Andy Reid providing an update during his press conference to open the offseason program on Monday.

Pat’s doing tremendous, getting great flexibility in that toe,” Reid said. “He’s worked his tail off. Not a real fun thing to do with that, it seems like a small thing but that toe is rather large and stiff before the surgery and after the surgery. So he’s really worked hard at getting that right.”

Mahomes underwent surgery days after falling to the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. At this point, all indications are that he will be ready for training camp when it begins in late July.

Andy Reid: Door remains open for Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz return

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The Chiefs have made big changes to their offensive line this offseason, but they aren’t ruling out the possibility that old faces could be back in Kansas City.

Left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz were both released early in the offseason as the Chiefs created salary cap space ahead of free agency. On Monday, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said that the financial situation dictated those moves and that the team isn’t slamming the door on a possible reunion with either player.

“You run into these cap situations,” Reid said, via Nate Taylor of TheAthletic.com. “Some of these things had to be done. They go out as champs. The door always remains open.”

Fisher tore his Achilles in the AFC title game and Schwartz is recovering from back surgery, so there hasn’t been much activity for either player on the open market. That may change as we get closer to training camp and a return to the Chiefs will remain a possibility until someone else makes the veterans offers they can’t refuse.

Alex Smith announces his retirement

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Alex Smith is calling it a career.

Smith, the veteran quarterback who shocked the football world by returning to the field last year after a devastating leg injury, announced in an Instagram video that he is retiring.

The 36-year-old Smith made clear that he is happy that he is now able to leave the game his own way, and not on a stretcher, as it appeared he was going to when he suffered that leg injury in 2018.

“Two years ago I was stuck in a wheelchair, staring down at my mangled leg, wondering if I would ever be able to go on a walk again or play with my kids in the yard,” Smith said. “On a routine play, I almost lost everything. But football wouldn’t let me give up. Because, no, this isn’t just a game. It’s not just what happens between those white lines on a Sunday afternoon. It’s about the challenges and the commitment they require. It’s about how hard and how far you can push yourself. It’s about the bond between those 53 guys in the locker room and everybody else in the organization. It’s about fully committing yourself to something bigger.”

The first overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, Smith played from 2005 to 2012 in San Francisco, from 2013 to 2017 in Kansas City and in 2018 and 2020 in Washington.

Eric DeCosta: Insulting to say we don’t have any receivers

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A tour of articles, podcasts, and other content being produced by draft pundits finds that a lot of people think the Ravens should be looking to upgrade their receiver group in this month’s draft.

Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta has heard those things and he’s heard from fans who wonder why the team’s draft success at other positions hasn’t carried over to the receiver spot, but he took issue with the notion that the cupboard is bare when asked about wideouts at Monday’s press conference.

“We want to have good players at every position,” DeCosta said. “I’m aware that there’s some fan discontent with our wide receivers and our drafting and all that. In general, I look at our record and how we win games and how we played football and I’m proud of the team. . . . We’ve got some really good young receivers. It’s insulting to these guys when they hear we don’t have any receivers. It’s quite insulting. I’m insulted by it too, to be honest. I think we’ve got some guys who want to show everybody what they can do.”

The Ravens have taken six wideouts over the last three drafts and they signed Sammy Watkins as a free agent this offseason, but the depth of this year’s receiver class and the Ravens’ need to do more in the passing game makes it a good bet that there will be more new players to the group.

Eric DeCosta: Lamar Jackson and I have discussed a contract extension

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At the beginning of March, the Ravens had not begun talks with quarterback Lamar Jackson on a potential contract extension for the young QB.

That has apparently changed in the last several weeks.

During his pre-draft press conference on Monday, Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta said he and Jackson have stated talking about a new deal.

“That’s ongoing. That’s definitely a fluid thing. Lamar and I have had a discussion about that,” DeCosta said. “I think it’s important to us and it’s important to him. I think Lamar is obviously a very patient guy. He wants to be the best he can be. He wants this team to be the best it can be and he wants to win very badly. So we’re aligned that way. I’m confident that we’ll continue to discuss this and I think at some point, hopefully we’ll have some good news for everybody.”

Jackson has never had an agent, so DeCosta would be discussing the player’s new deal directly with him. The quarterback is due to make $1.77 million in 2021. Though it hasn’t happened yet, the Ravens will presumably pick up his 2022 fifth-year option — unless he signs a new deal before the deadline.

Because Jackson was a Pro Bowler in his first three seasons, his fifth-year-option salary will be the quarterback transition tender in 2022. That came into effect with the new CBA enacted last year.

While there’s likely plenty to hammer out between the Ravens and Jackson for a new deal, there’s also good reason to believe Jackson won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.