When key players want to change teams, blame the teams not the players

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Khalil Mack wanted out of Oakland. He got what he wanted.

Antonio Brown wanted out of Pittsburgh. Then he wanted out of Oakland. He got what he wanted, both times.

Minkah Fitzpatrick wanted out of Miami. He got what he wanted.

Jalen Ramsey wants out of Jacksonville. He may get what he wants. Other great players, like Jamal Adams, may want out of where they currently are, and they may get it.

Some think that’s a bad thing. That it makes the NFL too much like the NBA. ESPN’s Steve Young, a lawyer who should know illegal collusion when he’s advocating for it, wants NFL teams to band together to stop players from talking, or tweeting, their way out of their current cities.

Of course, Young wanted out of Tampa Bay after the Bucs drafted Vinny Testaverde in 1987, and Young got what he wanted. He got what he wanted because the Buccaneers gave him what he wanted.

If today’s teams are willing to give players what they want in lieu of playing hardball under the labor deal to keep them in place, that’s for the teams to decide. Having a trade market for a disgruntled player becomes irrelevant if his current team tells the player, “Play for us or play for no one.”

The problem ultimately traces to the failure of the team to keep a key player happy. If Ramsey no longer wants to play for the Jaguars, and if the Jaguars want to keep him, shame on the Jaguars for letting it get to the point where he wants out. The coaching staff failed to establish and maintain the right relationship with Ramsey, the front office failed to take care of him financially when the opportunity arose, or both. (In this case, the right answer indeed seems to be “both.”)

The best players in the NFL at their various positions get special treatment because they deserve it. If supreme talent can secure umpteen chances for guys who get in trouble off the field, why shouldn’t model citizens who also play the game at ridiculously high levels merit extra care and feeding in order to ensure that they choose to continue to be cared for and fed by the team that holds their rights?

If the Jaguars want to keep Ramsey, it’s not difficult. Kiss his ass. Pay him. Make him feel wanted. Make him feel special. Because he is.

And if the Jaguars don’t want him — if they don’t want to treat him in a way that makes him feel wanted — they should get what they can and trade him.

Still, the goal of the draft is to select players who have the potential to become great and then to keep the ones that become great. It’s for the teams to do whatever needs to be done to make the great ones want to stay. If the relationship becomes fractured, it’s not the player’s fault. It’s the team’s fault.

Chargers sign tight end Lance Kendricks

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The Chargers signed a tight end with Hunter Henry recovering from a tibial plateau fracture, but the new tight end’s name is not Antonio Gates.

The team’s signing of tight end Lance Kendricks is the surest sign yet that Gates’ career might be over.

Kendricks served a one-game suspension to open the season. The Patriots waived him last week to make room for Antonio Brown.

Kendricks has appeared in 125 career games, catching 241 passes for 2,505 yards and 19 touchdowns.

The Chargers also announced they re-signed defensive end Chris Peace to the active roster. To make room, Los Angeles officially placed safety Adrian Phillips on injured reserve and waived receiver Andre Patton.

The team also added safety Adarius Pickett to the practice squad.

Colts worked out six kickers Tuesday

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The Colts have faith in Adam Vinatieri, who is committed to working on getting “the demons out.”

But what happens if he doesn’t?

When the Colts decided to work out kickers is unknown, but they had six of them in town for tryouts Tuesday. Indianapolis has began working on a backup plan it hopes not to use.

The Colts worked out Elliott Fry, Cole Hedlund, Greg Joseph, Younghoe Koo, Chase McLaughlin and Cody Parkey, Howard Balzer reports. They also reported tryouts with offensive tackles Gerhard deBeer, Christian DiLauro and Brandon Hitner as well as center James Murray.

Viantieri said Tuesday the possibility of retirement never crossed his mind after his seventh missed kick the past three games, including five misses this season. Speculation surfaced about his future when he offered a cryptic response in a brief postgame comment to a reporter.

“No [on retiring],” Vinatieri said, via Mike Wells of ESPN. “That was one those situations that I was walking out of the locker room. Quite frankly, for two decades, we’ve always had open locker rooms on a Monday, and granted our schedule has changed as of last year. When I walked out saying I’ll talk to you guys on Monday, I just needed a little bit more time. Like I said, none of us should assume stuff.”

Owner Jim Irsay admitted “concern” about his kicker, but coach Frank Reich again gave Vinatieri a vote of confidence this week.

Without Andrew Luck, the Colts can’t afford many more misses from Vinatieri. He knows that. Reich knows that. Everyone knows that.

The Colts now have an idea how the free agent market looks at the position in case they need to “break glass in case of emergency.”

The pressure is on the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, but Vinatieri has handled pressure with aplomb his entire career.

Saints place Keith Kirkwood on injured reserve

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The Saints placed receiver Keith Kirkwood on injured reserve, according to the NFL’s daily transactions report.

Kirkwood injured his hamstring during warmups Sunday. That left New Orleans with only three healthy receivers for the game against the Rams.

The second-year receiver saw time in eight games last season, starting one. He caught 13 passes for 209 yards with two touchdowns in 2018.

Kirkwood played in the Saints’ season opener but did not record any stats.

Bengals waive Pharoh Cooper, promote Keaton Sutherland

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The Bengals announced they waived receiver Pharoh Cooper on Tuesday. They promoted offensive guard Keaton Sutherland from the practice squad to fill his roster spot.

Cooper, a fourth-year player, played in one game for the Bengals after they claimed him off waivers from the Cardinals on Sept. 1. He had no stats for Cincinnati.

Cooper earned Pro Bowl honors as a returner in 2017 after averaging 27.4 on 34 kickoff returns with one touchdown.

Sutherland, a rookie out of Texas A&M, originally signed as a college free agent in May. He played in all four preseason games for Cincinnati, with a start at center in the exhibition finale.

In college, Sutherland appeared in 44 games with 33 starts over four seasons, seeing action at both tackle and guard.

The Bengals also announced the signing of offensive tackle Dino Boyd to take Sutherland’s spot on the practice squad.

JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn’t see offense changing much

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Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was on the receiving end of Mason Rudolph‘s first completion as an NFL player last Sunday and  building that connection will be important for the Steelers offense now that Ben Roethlisberger is out for the year with an elbow injury.

Smith-Schuster told Mike Florio of PFT on Tuesday that he feels that he and the 2018 third-round pick “have a connection” because of work they’ve done in practice on days when Roethlisberger was resting.

While that’s a good starting point, Smith-Schuster acknowledged there will be a big difference in going from a player with Roethlisberger’s experience to one making his first NFL start. Despite that gap, the wideout said he does not expect to see much change in how the Steelers run their offense.

“I don’t think it will change a lot,”  We have our plays set, we have the guys we still have on offense at every position that we need and I don’t think a lot will change.”

The Steelers have only produced 29 points and 569 yards through two games, so some change wouldn’t be a bad thing on the offensive side of the ball.

Seahawks cut Cardale Jones from the practice squad

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The Seahawks cut quarterback Cardale Jones from their practice squad, according to the NFL’s daily transactions report.

Seattle is expected to re-sign offensive lineman Elijah Nkansah to take Jones’ spot on the practice squad, Brady Henderson of ESPN reports.

Jones signed with the Seahawks’ practice squad after the Chargers waived him out of the preseason.

The Bills made Jones a fourth-round choice in 2016. Buffalo traded him to the Chargers in 2017.

He spent last season on the Chargers’ practice squad.

In 2016, Jones completed 6 of 11 attempts for 96 yards and one interception in his only career game action.

49ers swap long snappers, signing Jon Condo

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The 49ers waived their long snapper, Colin Holba, according to the NFL’s daily transactions report. They signed veteran Jon Condo, Matt Barrows of TheAthletic.com reports.

The team worked out Condo, Garrison Sanborn and Drew Scott on Tuesday, Howard Balzer reports.

Condo, 38, has 180 games of experience as a long snapper, mostly with Oakland.

He spent three games with the Cowboys in 2005 and four with the Falcons last season. In between, he played 11 seasons with the Raiders.

Holba signed with the 49ers last December. He played four games last season and two this season with the 49ers.

The Steelers made Holba a sixth-round pick in 2017, but he never played for Pittsburgh. He appeared in seven games for the Jaguars as a rookie.

Texans change punters, signing Bryan Anger

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The Texans kept Trevor Daniel over Bryan Anger in final cuts. They cut Daniel for Anger on Tuesday.

The team announced the transaction.

Daniel’s 43.5-yard average on 11 punts ranks 10th, while his net of 40.9 ranks 22nd.

The Texans recently worked out former Patriots punter Ryan Allen and former Vikings punter Matt Wile. They worked out Marquette King and Anger on Tuesday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Daniel earned the job last season as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee. He averaged 43.7 yards on 74 punts as a rookie.

Anger punted four years for Jacksonville and three for Tampa Bay. He has a career average of 46.2.

Sam Darnold says doctors estimating Week Five return

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Jets quarterback Sam Darnold won’t be back with the team for this Sunday’s game against the Patriots, but he doesn’t expect to be out too much longer than that due to mononucleosis.

Darnold appeared on 98.7 ESPN New York on Tuesday and said that his goal is to be in the lineup for the Jets’ Week Five game against the Eagles. He added that his doctors are “estimating” that’s the timetable for his return, so it won’t be set in stone for some time but it would mean Darnold only misses two games because the Jets have a bye in Week Four.

That’s close to the best-case return scenario laid out when Darnold was diagnosed last week. He said that he is feeling well and hasn’t lost much weight, but mono causes the spleen to enlarge and the organ remains at an elevated risk of rupture as long as that’s the case.

Luke Falk is set to start against New England and the Jets are expected to sign a new backup quarterback after confirming Trevor Siemian will miss the rest of the regular season.

To get the most out of Daniel Jones, the Giants should release Eli Manning

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As the Giants move forward with Daniel Jones at quarterback, the move needs to be unequivocal, unconditional, and irreversible. Otherwise, the development of Jones could suffer.

For that reason, it could make sense for the Giants to sever ties with Eli Manning.

Earlier today, we suggested a retirement that would entail Manning getting a chunk of the remaining $10.4 million in 2019 base salary. If Manning isn’t interested in that, the Giants should seriously consider simply cutting the cord on Eli and moving on. Even if it means paying him the full amount of the remaining $10.4 million he’s owed.

Yes, they screwed up. They should have cut Manning before Week One, avoiding the $11.5 million in base salary that became guaranteed as Termination Pay once the regular season began. But they shouldn’t risk screwing up Daniel Jones by having Eli hovering over Jones’ shoulder as Jones tries to reach his potential as quickly as possible.

The Giants already made their $11.5 million mistake by keeping Eli on the team. They will potentially make it worse by keeping Eli around while trying to develop Jones. Absent a clear and complete and unmistakable commitment by Eli to embrace his new role and by the team to not waver and waffle and bench Jones for Eli later in the year, Eli should have no place on the roster, now that the Giants have made Jones the starter.

Even if Eli is all in and the team will treat Jones as QB1 and Eli as QB2 with no chance of further flip-flopping, the media, the fans, and certain high-profile members of the Manning family could clamor for Eli to be reinstalled as the team’s quarterback, if Jones struggles. While Jones may have the mental toughness to withstand those catcalls, it would be better for them to not happen at all.

They won’t happen if Eli isn’t on the team. The best play for the Giants, now that the quarterback of the future is the present starter, is to turn a half-measure into a full-blown removal of Eli Manning from the organization.

Bruce Arians on NFC South QB injuries: You can’t think about that stuff

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The quarterback landscape of the NFC South has changed significantly in recent days.

Drew Brees is headed for thumb surgery and an extended absence from the Saints lineup. Cam Newton hasn’t looked right in the first two games, was out of Panthers practice on Tuesday and is uncertain to play this weekend. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan isn’t injured, but he has thrown five interceptions over the first two weeks of the year.

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians was asked on Tuesday if any of those developments have led to positive thoughts about what it means for his team’s chances.

“If there is, I’m going to put a match to it, because it’s [about] this week,” Arians said, via Eduardo Encina of the Tampa Bay Times. “You can’t think about all that stuff, because Teddy Bridgewater is a hell of a player. And there’s other really good players in this league. You take care of today’s business, not Sunday’s, just today’s. Tomorrow’s is hopefully Wednesday. Thursday is Thursday’s. If you stay like that, you’ll be alright.”

Under that approach, the quarterback from another team that is of chief concern to the Bucs right now is Daniel Jones as the rookie will be making his first NFL start for the Giants this weekend. Jared Goff and the Rams are up after that, so it will be some time before they meet up with one of their NFC South foes.

Lions release C.J. Anderson after claiming Paul Perkins

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C.J. Anderson called himself a “perfect fit” in the Lions offense and hoped he finally had found a home after signing with his fifth team in the last year and a half.

Alas, his stay in Detroit was not long.

The Lions announced Tuesday that they have released Anderson, signaling Ty Johnson has won the backup job.

He did not start either of the Lions games, played only 36 snaps and gained only 43 yards on 16 carries.

Anderson had three 100-yard games in five games with the Rams last season, including the postseason, after signing off the street.

But the Lions needed his roster spot after claiming Paul Perkins off waivers from the Giants.

The Giants made Perkins inactive the first two games.

Perkins, a fifth-round choice of the Giants in 2016, played 25 games with five starts his first two seasons in New York. He gained 546 rushing yards on 153 carries and caught 23 passes for 208 yards.

Raiders cut Jonathan Cooper

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Jonathan Cooper‘s NFL career has hit another bump in the road.

Cooper was cut by the Raiders today after two games he didn’t play in. With guard Richie Incognito back from a two-game suspension the Raiders needed a roster spot, and Cooper is the odd man out.

It’s the latest in a long line of disappointments from Cooper, who was selected by the Cardinals with the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft and considered at the time perhaps the best guard prospect ever to enter the draft.

Cooper never did much for the Cardinals and was eventually traded to the Patriots. He didn’t last long in New England and also didn’t last long in stints in Cleveland, Dallas, San Francisco and Washington.

Now Cooper has again been cut by a team he barely played for, and it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll ever play in an NFL game again.

Marcus Mariota a full participant in Tuesday’s practice

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The Titans listed quarterback Marcus Mariota as a non-participant in their Monday injury report with a quadriceps injury. The Titans didn’t practice Monday, though.

Instead, it was an injury report estimating the participation of their players.

Since the Titans did practice Tuesday, the day’s practice report offered a clearer picture of their injuries, and Mariota is fine.

He had a full practice in preparation for Thursday night’s game against Jacksonville.

The Titans listed only four players on their report, with running back David Fluellen (hamstring), cornerback Chris Milton (collarbone), offensive lineman Kevin Pamphile (knee) and linebacker Wesley Woodyard (quad) missing work.

Everyone else was a full participant for that Titans.