AFC Notes: Steelers, Colts, Dolphins, Patriots

Agent Drew Rosenhaus, in New Orleans as the Steelers prepared for tonight’s preseason game against the Saints, discussed wide receiver Antonio Brown‘s contract with Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert, tweets Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Brown, who has two years left on his deal, has been requesting a new contract for some time, but the Steelers have been insistent that they won’t negotiate right now. Universally considered an elite pass-catcher, Brown is ranked 18th among wide receivers in terms of average annual compensation ($8.4MM/year).

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • The Colts are meeting with Stevan Ridley today, but don’t expect them to sign him or any other running back before the end of the day, according to Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). If Ridley proves to be healthy, he could be a quality backup for starter Frank Gore. The Colts have spoken at length about their plan to preserve Gore and keep him on a pitch count. Last year, Gore wound up carrying the ball 260 times, and Indianapolis wants to dial that number down so that the veteran can be fresh late in the season.
  • Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins underwent a “cleanup” procedure on his knee, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link), and although Jackson doesn’t specify a timeline, it’s fair to assume the operation took place fairly recently. Defensive end Terrence Fede, meanwhile, has a sprained MCL, so Miami’s defensive depth could be getting a little thin. The Dolphins had interest in adding linebacker Stephen Tulloch before he signed with the Eagles, so the club could look to add some bodies to its defense during the next few weeks.
  • Linebacker Vince Williamsnew deal with the Steelers calls for him to earn $5MM in new money over the three-year span, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. His 2016 salary of $675K remains the same but he also gets a $1.5MM signing bonus with a $2MM salary in 2017 and 2018.
  • Barkevious Mingo‘s skillset is a solid fit for the Patriots‘ versatile defense, as the former Brown is comfortable both rushing and dropping into coverage from the linebacker position, explains Doug Kyed of NESN.com. Earlier today, I examined why New England might have shipped a fifth-round to Cleveland for Mingo (aside from on-field reasons).

Reaction To Joey Bosa, Chargers Dispute

NFL general managers are “laughing” at the Chargers’ handling of the Joey Bosa contract situation, reports Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, who says that nearly every source agrees than San Diego is to blame for the current mess of negotiations. “If Joey Bosa ended his dispute tomorrow, he would barely get something from his rookie year,” said one GM. “But it won’t end tomorrow. It could be weeks. So effectively, the Chargers threw away the rookie year of their own high draft pick.” Another GM estimated a 20-30% chance that Bosa could sit out the entire year and re-enter the draft in 2017, and a source close to Bosa told Freeman the chance of that scenario coming to fruition “is slim but growing every day.”

Let’s check out some more reaction to the Bosa squabble:

  • The Chargers are preparing as though they’ll begin the regular season without Bosa, a sentiment that head coach Mike McCoy confirms, according to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link). “We’re going to win with whoever we have,” McCoy told reporters today, and general manager Tom Telesco echoed that statement, per Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com. “There’s not really much you can do about it,” said Telesco, although Williams argues that San Diego will likely pick up a few extra defenders in the coming weeks, either through free agency or the waiver process.
  • The dispute is a bad look for both the Chargers and Bosa, opines Peter Schrager of FOX Sports (all Twitter links). The stalemate hurts the organization as it tries to build a new stadium in San Diego, but it also affects Bosa’s agency, CAA, as other agencies could use this situation to poach clients. At least one NFL executive expressed shock to Schrager that the friction was still ongoing: “Is THIS the hill you want to die on?”
  • The NFLPA has contacted Bosa and his camp, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, but a grievance is considered a “last resort,” says union spokesperson George Atallah. As Pelissero writes, San Diego would be able to decrease their offer and still fall within the contract requirements outlined by the CBA, meaning that Bosa could only argue that the club had refused to negotiate in good faith.
  • As evidenced by the Chargers’ statement on Wednesday, Bosa has seemingly agreed to a large deferral of his signing bonus — but that deferral isn’t quite significant enough for the team, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
  • In case you missed the rest of the drama earlier this week, Chargers president John Spanos called Bosa’ holdout “absolutely asinine,” while Bosa’s agent accused the club of “manipulating facts.”

Falcons Rule Out Re-Signing William Moore

Free agent safety William Moore would like to re-sign with the Falcons, the only team he’s played for during his NFL career and the club that released him earlier this year after seven seasons. “Absolutely I’d come back,” Moore told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “It’s home.” But according to head coach Dan Quinn, Atlanta isn’t interested in a reunion with Moore at this time.William Moore (vertical)

[RELATED: Impact Rookies — Atlanta Falcons]

“I just stay ready,” said Moore. “This is my first time going through this process. Everything happens for a reason, but nothing has changed for me. My health is great. I haven’t had absolutely any issues working out and staying in shape. You look at my past injuries, it’s ankles and stuff that heal up. I’m blessed that I’ve never had any serious issues like blown knees.”

The Falcons currently have a dire need at safety, as first-round pick (and projected starter) Keanu Neal will be sidelined for the next three-to-four weeks with a knee injury, meaning he’ll miss regular season action. Neal’s backup, Kemal Ishmael, is dealing with a shoulder ailment, and the next man on the depth chart, veteran Sergio Brown, was signed only days ago.

Moore, 31, appeared in 76 games with Atlanta after being selected in the second round of the 2009 draft. In 72 starts, Moore picked 277 tackles, 16 interceptions, 37 passes defensed, and 11 forced fumbles before being cut in a cost-saving move this spring. This offseason, the only known interest Moore has drawn has been from the Patriots, who worked him out in May.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott

Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott was spotted in a Seattle marijuana shop before Dallas played the Seahawks in a preseason contest last week, according to a TMZ report, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones isn’t pleased with the No. 4 overall pick, as Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes.Ezekiel Elliott (Vertical)

[RELATED: Cowboys (Again) Rule Out Greg Hardy]

“Well, I think that, in and of itself, the reason we are talking about it is in a way part of the learning process,” Jones said. “But it’s not good. It’s just not good. It’s just not good.

“Again that’s a part of just really getting the big picture here,” Jones said. “No matter if you played at whatever level there is a picture here of interest. So again, I’m aware of it. I heard the report and I would know how he is. And he needs to look at that and the other thing is it’s just not good. I don’t want to say anymore. I do want us do things that in general while it may not be wrong it’s just not good.”

Of course, while marijuana is not approved in the NFL, the substance is legal in the state of Washington, so technically Elliott was doing nothing wrong (and, per the TMZ report, Elliott didn’t purchase anything at the store). So while Jones may be disappointed in Elliott’s trip, the league is not concerned with the matter, tweets Ed Werder of ESPN.com.

However, a source tells Werder that some are worried about a “pattern of behavior” exhibited Elliott, who is still under investigation by the NFL after domestic violence accusations surfaced last month. Additionally, Elliott has reportedly been “partying” quite a bit since being drafted in the spring, leading the Cowboys organization to wonder about the former Ohio State running back’s maturity level, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter video). Finally, Bryan Broaddus of the team’s website says (Twitter link) that Elliott isn’t currently in “football shape.”

Clearly, some of these issues are more concerning than others, and not being in the proper shape or visiting a marijuana shop can’t be compared with rumblings of domestic violence. But for the Cowboys, it all adds up to a distraction that they don’t need, especially when so many of their players have already run into trouble this offseason. Rolando McClain, Demarcus Lawrence, and Randy Gregory, for example, are all facing suspensions of varying lengths for drug-related offenses.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/26/16

Today’s minor moves:

  • The Falcons announced that they’ve waived David Glidden, defensive end Efe Obada, fullback Will Ratelle, cornerback Jordan Sefon, and guard Jordan Walsh. Atlanta is simply whittling down its roster before the 75-man deadline comes on Tuesday, and the club now has 84 players on its squad. Four of the five players who were waived — with the exception of Obada — were 2016 undrafted rookie free agents.
  • The Colts have reached an injury settlement with tackle Kevin Graf, removing him from their IR, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Pigskin Links: Goff, Lewis, Donald Trump

Here at Pro Football Rumors, we deliver up-to-the-minute news on NFL transactions and high-quality original analysis. Each week, we also feature some of the best blog articles from around the web in our regular feature, Pigskin Links.

We’re looking for interesting reads on all things football from blogs of all sizes. While PFR is dedicated to player movement, Pigskin Links is open to pieces on all areas of the game. If you would like to suggest your blog post (or someone else’s) for Pigskin Links, send us an email with the link and a brief synopsis at [email protected].

Here’s this week’s look around the football blogosphere:

Got a great football blog post that you want to see featured in next week’s Pigskin Links? Email it to Zach or tweet it to him: @ZachLinks.

Update On Bengals’ Tyler Eifert

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert has just started jogging and is targeting Weeks 4-6 for his return from ankle surgery, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Eifert is keeping optimistic and hoping for a Week 4 return. It’s even conceivable that he could be healthy enough to play in Week 3, but Cincinnati is playing it safe with their star tight end (link). Tyler Eifert (vertical)

[RELATED: Bengals’ Andrew Billings Out For Season]

Eifert suffered the ankle injury at the Pro Bowl and the early word is that it was a minor tweak. As it turns out, the injury was worse than initially feared.

Eifert, 26 next month, had a breakout season in 2015, earning his first Pro Bowl nod since entering the league as the 21st overall pick in 2013. After spending the majority of the 2014 season on injured reserve, the Notre Dame alum hauled in 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns in just 13 regular season contests last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Stevan Ridley Visiting Colts

Stevan Ridley might not be unemployed for long. Ridley, who was cut by the Lions on Thursday, is on a visit with the Colts today, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Stevan Ridley (vertical)

[RELATED: Lions Release Stevan Ridley]

If Ridley proves to be healthy, he could be a quality backup for starter Frank Gore. The Colts have spoken at length about their plan to preserve Gore and keep him on a pitch count. Last year, Gore wound up carrying the ball 260 times and Indianapolis wants to dial that number down so that the veteran can be fresh late in the season. As it stands, Robert Turbin is the Colts’ No. 2 back with Jordan Todman, undrafted rookie Josh Ferguson, and Trey Williams also on the depth chart.

This week, coach Chuck Pagano said that the team has a carrying cap in mind for Gore.

We have to be very, very smart to make sure that we have him available for 16 games and he’s healthy and he’s fresh and he’s out there,” Pagano said (via Stephen Holder of the Indy Star). “He’s obviously a really good player. We have a number in mind and we’ll try to do our very best to stick with that number.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

The Beat: ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez On The Rams

With the season fast approaching, we’re chatting with beat writers from around the league to gain insight on each team’s offseason and how those moves will impact the season ahead.

Now, we continue the series by discussing the Rams with the team’s newest beat writer, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. You can follow Alden on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and check out his stories here.

Zach Links: For those of us who aren’t in the Los Angeles area – what’s the excitement level like in L.A. for the Rams’ return? Los Angeles (Featured)

Alden Gonzalez: It’s been about what you would expect for a team returning to a huge media market, and by that I mean it’s been high. They sold 171,000 tickets to their first two preseason games. That is absurd. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who played at Los Angeles Coliseum in Week 2, raved about how loud it was through even the fourth quarter, when all the subs were in. And each open-to-the-public practice I’ve attended has filled up at least one section of bleachers. The novelty will eventually rub off, of course. They’ll have to win pretty quickly in order to maintain attention spans out here.

Zach Links: The Rams are expected to extend coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead before the start of the season. Do you think it’s wise to extend them given that Fisher’s teams have gone 27-36-1 in the last four years?

Alden Gonzalez: Yeah, I do. I know it isn’t the popular opinion, but extending a GM or a coach does not mean that individual cannot eventually get fired. Especially not for a multi-billionaire like Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who would barely flinch at having to eat whatever remains of contracts for Snead or Fisher if such a scenario took place. Snead and Fisher are at the end of their current deals, and it’s hard to operate like that. The Rams have enough newness going on – new quarterback, new city, one of the youngest rosters in the NFL – and it looks like they at least want some stability up top. Snead and Fisher both know the pressure is on to start winning, whether their contracts are extended or not.

Jared GoffZach Links: How high is the ceiling for Jared Goff? Do you think we’ll see him take over as the starter at some point in 2016?

Alden Gonzalez: I expect him to be the starter at some point in 2016; the only question is when. Barring an uplifting performance in Week 3 of the preseason, though, I do not see him starting the Monday Night Football opener on Sept. 12. He just hasn’t shown enough yet. He needs to be more decisive, he needs to take care of the football and he needs to do a better job of picking up blitzes. All that, in addition to learning to call plays from the huddle and learning to take snaps from under center – two things he really never did at Cal. As far as upside – I think he can be an elite-level passer if he irons those things out. The raw tools are there.

Zach Links: A second franchise tag for Trumaine Johnson would cost the Rams $16MM+ next year. To date, they have been unwilling to pay him like a top NFL cornerback. Do you expect to see Johnson wind up somewhere else in 2017?

Read more

The Hidden Value Of Barkevious Mingo

The Twitter-verse was quick to decide a winner in yesterday’s trade of linebacker Barkevious Mingo from the Browns to the Patriots, with the new potential outcomes for the former sixth overall pick ranging from Pro Bowler to Hall of Famer. Bill Belichick has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to wringing out every last bit of talent from an unheralded player, but the New England head coach might be playing an entirely different game altogether: mastering the NFL’s compensatory pick system.Bill Belichick (Vertical)

[RELATED: Former Belichick protege (and current Lions GM) Bob Quinn had interest in Mingo]

While the league has never disclosed the formula that it uses when calculating which clubs receive compensatory selections, the basics of the process are known. Essentially, comp picks are granted to teams that lose more compensatory players than they sign during the free agent period. Each club can receive a maximum of four comp selections, and while the specifics of the method aren’t made public, analysts such as Nick Korte of Over the Cap have reverse-engineered the exercise to reveal that average salary and play time are key factors.

The Patriots, among other teams, have taken advantage of this arrangement for years by staying out of the big-ticket free agent market. As Bill Barnwell of Grantland explained last January:

By [not signing expensive free agents] and having other teams target their free agents, the Patriots come in line for various compensatory picks from the NFL’s obtuse, black-box system. These picks aren’t tradable (ed. note: comp picks will be tradable beginning in 2017), and no team can receive anything higher than a third-rounder as part of the league’s system, but their value can add up over time. The Patriots have made 25 compensatory selections during Belichick’s time with the team, and the estimated value of those picks — based on their draft slot alone — is roughly between the value of having the first overall pick and the second overall pick. All for not signing free agents.

But Belichick and the rest of the New England front office have also been targeting another ripe area of the NFL’s structure: the trade market, and more specifically, the trade market for players nearing the end of their contracts. Mingo is the latest example, but over the past several years, the Patriots have looked to acquire players who were close to reaching the free agent market, presumably in the hopes that yet another compensatory pick might come their way.

Read more

NFL News & NFL Rumors