Chance For Settlement In Josh Gordon Case

The hearing officer assigned to Josh Gordon‘s appeal case is facing an all-or-nothing mandate, so Gordon and the NFL could have extra incentive to try and negotiate a compromise ahead of time. There is a “slight chance” that a resolution will be struck by the two sides, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

Any deal reached presumably would entail a suspension for Gordon that lasts less than a year but would still keep him out of action for part of the 2014 season. If one side is less inclined to negotiate than the other, it’s possible that the hearing officer will signal that it would be wise for that party to be more open-minded. A compromise could be struck during the hearing or after it, so the only hard deadline for the two parties would be the point of final ruling. Florio notes that the ruling is expected to come fairly soon since the substance-abuse policy requires that the decision be issued with a “reasonable time.”

The battle gets underway today with Harold Henderson serving as the hearing officer. Yesterday, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer heard that the appointment of Henderson was “bad news” for Gordon as a source indicated that the second-hand smoke argument “won’t fly” with him.

49ers, Harbaugh Table Contract Talks

Niners CEO Jed York told Jim Kozimor on Yahoo! SportsTalk Live that he and coach Jim Harbaugh have agreed to hold off contract talks until after the season. York and Harbaugh on Wednesday and agreed to pump the brakes on their discussions.

We actually just had this conversation yesterday,” York said. “Lots of people were talking to him about it. We just said, ‘You know what, let’s not do anything during the season. Let’s sit down a week or so after the season is over and let everybody know we’re not focused on anything that’s off the field right now.’ Jim and I will sit down a week or so after the season is over and we’ll figure out where we go.”

When asked if there’s a risk of Harbaugh’s value skyrocketing if the 49ers win a Super Bowl, York said that would be a “good thing” and an “unbelievable” problem to have. Harbaugh is entering the fourth-year of the original five-year, $25MM contract he signed in January 2011 after leaving Stanford. Now, teams looking to can their coach after the 2014 season could start circling the wagons around Harbaugh before the coach and York sit down to talk.

In Harbaugh’s three seasons, the 49ers have compiled a 36-11-1 record in the regular season, reached three straight NFC Championship games, and made one Super Bowl appearance.

Latest On Bills Sale

10:25pm: Trump has been chosen to advance to the next round of bidding to purchase the Bills, a person familiar with the sale selection process told Mike Wawrow of The Associated Press.

2:54pm: Regardless of the actual figures submitted on Tuesday, initial reports on the differential between the top two bidders have the Bon Jovi group discouraged about being successful as currently constructed, tweets Graham.

1:31pm: Since initial bids for the Bills were collected on Tuesday, various reports and rumors have attempted to place a figure on the bids from the two main contenders, Buffalo Sabers owner Terry Pegula and the Toronto-based group led by Jon Bon Jovi. Although $1.3 billion has been cited as Pegula’s bid, and the Bon Jovi group is said to be in the $1.2 billion neighborhood, Tim Graham of the Buffalo News (Twitter link) hears from two sources “deeply plugged into” the sale process that every number reported so far has been wrong.

According to Graham (Twitter link), those sources specified that the $1.2 billion figure linked to the Bon Jovi/Larry Tanenbaum/Rogers family group is “quite higher than reality.” John Kryk of the Toronto Sun hears a similar story from his own sources, suggesting that $1.2 billion may be the limit for that Toronto group, but that the initial bid is more likely to be in the $800-900MM range. Kryk adds that if Pegula is actually willing to go up to $1.3 billion – or if he’s done so already – the Toronto group may not be able to match such an offer.

Still, based on Graham’s report, it seems unlikely that the Sabres owner submitted such a high number off the bat. In another tweet, Graham notes that Tuesday’s submissions were non-binding bids and that it’s unlikely that any player in the mix has shown his full hand yet. In other words, while the initial offers for the franchise may not have been as high as $1.2 or $1.3 billion, it’s possible that they could work there way up to that point eventually.

One potential roadblock for the Toronto group, as Kryk details, is Bon Jovi’s desire to be the lead bidder in the collective. To meet the NFL’s 30% principal-ownership threshold, the rock star would have to put up at least $360MM on a theoretical bid of $1.2 billion, which would be a significant percentage of his reported net worth ($500MM). As such, it seems at this point that Pegula is in the driver’s seat, though as Graham cautions, the process remains in its early stages.

Donald Trump was the third contender to submit a bid for the franchise on Tuesday, though – by his own admission – he seems like a long shot to ultimately win out.

North Notes: AD, Manziel, Leonhard, Briggs

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson says that he didn’t want a coaching change but he recognizes that his teammates probably did, writes Ben Goessling of ESPN.com. “It was good to have him there, Coach [Leslie] Frazier, but [Mike Zimmer] fits our players better. That’s something I can honestly sit here and say. A lot of guys can’t respond to a Coach [Tony] Dungy, Coach Frazier, guys like that. A lot of guys respond to Coach Zimmer. He’s a better fit for the team,” Peterson said. More from the North divisions..

  • New Browns safety Jim Leonhard says that he plans to retire after the 2014 season, tweets Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Leonhard added that he is happy to join coach Mike Pettine for what he expects to be last hurrah in the NFL. Of course, Leonhard and Pettine have been together during their shared time with the Ravens, Jets, and Bills.
  • There might technically be a quarterback competition in Browns camp, but it’s starting to look like it’s heavily tilted in one direction. “I think Brian Hoyer‘s got the starting nod currently,” said center Alex Mack in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio (on Twitter). Star rookie Johnny Manziel may have the No. 1 spot eventually, but it seems likely that Hoyer will be the starter to kick off the 2014 season.
  • When all is said and done, veteran linebacker Lance Briggs says that he intends to retire as a member of the Bears, writes Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune. Briggs, entering his 12th season with Chicago, says that he’s excited about the new faces on the Bears’ D this season and added that he feels comfortable with second-year defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
  • The offseason addition of tackle Antonio “Tiny” Richardson might wind up being one of the Vikings‘ biggest moves, writes Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. The 6’6″, 330-pound lineman is earning high praise from coach Mike Zimmer for his play so far in training camp.

Minor Moves: Thursday

Thursday’s minor transactions from around the NFL will be rounded up below, with any moves reported or announced this afternoon or evening added to the top of the list throughout the day:

  • The Bears signed offensive tackle Dennis Roland and waived fellow tackle Cody Booth, tweets Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. Adam Caplan of ESPN.com recently wrote that Roland was one of the best right tackles remaining on the open market.
  • The Chiefs waived rookie linebacker Ben Johnson to clear roster room for the signing of former Patriots safety Steve Gregory, tweets Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. The Chiefs signed Johnson as a UDFA out of Tennessee-Martin and he participated in training camp practices despite missing time during OTAs with a hamstring injury.
  • The Dolphins have swapped one tight end for another, signing Raymond Webber and placing the recently-signed Brett Brackett on waivers, tweets Brian McIntyre.
  • Per Aaron Wilson (Twitter links), the Bills have removed defensive back Brandon Smith from their injured reserve list, while the Seahawks did the same with offensive lineman Jared Smith. The Seahawks reached an injury settlement with their Smith, though it’s not clear if Buffalo did the same.
  • Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com has the corresponding move for the Lions‘ signing of Redding (noted below), tweeting that the club has cut receiver Cody Wilson.

Earlier updates:

  • Tight end Anthony McCoy has been moved to injured reserve by the Seahawks, who replaced him on the roster with former USC wide receiver Ronald Johnson, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.
  • According to his agent Joel E. Turner (Twitter link), rookie defensive end Kris Redding has signed with the Lions. Detroit currently has a full 90-man roster, so a corresponding move will be necessary when the team officially announces the signing of the Wake Forest product.
  • After missing most of last season with a torn quadriceps, Colts guard Donald Thomas suffered the same injury in practice this week, according to Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk. It’s disappointing news for Thomas and for the Colts, who signed the offensive lineman to a four-year, $14MM prior to the 2013 season and have only gotten two regular-season games out of him so far. With second-round pick Jack Mewhort seemingly poised to take over a starting role, Indianapolis has placed Thomas on IR, signing offensive lineman Eric Pike to fill his roster spot, tweets Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star.
  • The Bears swapped a couple players near the back-end of their roster today, signing offensive lineman Graham Pocic and waived wide receiver Terrence Toliver with an injury settlement, the team announced (via Twitter).

Lynch, Seahawks Agree To New Deal

Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks have agreed to a new deal that will pay him $6MM with a $500K signing bonus, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk. Lynch stayed home at the start of training camp but reported to the team today, which signaled that a new deal was probably in place. Ultimately, the new pact doesn’t give Lynch any additional money, but it does provide him with more financial certainty than he had before.

The new deal marks a bump up in base salary for Lynch. Under Lynch’s previous contract, he was due a $5MM base salary this year, plus $500K in per-game roster bonuses and another $500K in incentives if he had hit 1,500 yards. Now, Lynch gets a base salary of $6MM, meaning that the $1MM in incentives is effectively guaranteed, plus giving him his $500K check scheduled to be paid in 2015 and giving it to him now instead. In total, Beast Mode will make $6.5MM in 2014. Also of note is that the Seahawks also agreed not to enforce the fines that they were entitled to dock him from the work he has already missed. Lynch was subject to fines of up to $30K for each day of camp he missed.NFL: Super Bowl XLVIII-Seattle Seahawks Parade

Lynch, 28, finished the 2013 season with 1,257 yards, giving him his third straight 1,000-yard season. He also registered 14 total touchdowns, a career-high. While Lynch didn’t play a big role in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl romp over the Broncos, he has been an integral part of the team for the past three seasons and change, and was seeking a raise heading into the third year of his four-year contract. The average annual value of that pact placed Lynch among the league’s top five highest-paid running backs, but in terms of base salaries, the 2014 ($5MM) and 2015 ($5.5MM) figures were more modest, as well as a step down from his 2013 salary ($7MM).
Having just signed Lynch to an extension two years ago, the Seahawks refused to rework his deal, with GM John Schneider repeatedly pointing to a blueprint that the club had put in place years ago — that plan allowed the team to reward Lynch with his previous extension, but didn’t afford the flexibility for another raise, particularly as other key contributors like Richard ShermanEarl Thomas, and Michael Bennett signed extensions of their own.

With Lynch set to report this week, the NFL’s lone holdout at the moment is guard Alex Boone of the 49ers. While several reports had indicated the Seahawks were unlikely to relent on Lynch, the same can’t be said of the Niners and Boone, so it will be interesting to see which side caves first in that situation, or whether a compromise can be reached.

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Offseason In Review: St. Louis Rams

Notable signings:

Notable losses:

Extensions and restructures:

  • Scott Wells (C): Restructured contract. Reduced 2014 base salary from $5.5MM to $1MM. Reduced 2015 base salary from $5.5MM to $2MM. Received $1.65MM roster bonus for 2014, as well as additional roster bonuses and incentives that can be earned for 2014 and 2015.

Trades:

  • Acquired second-round pick (No. 41) from the Bills in exchange for second-round pick (No. 44) and fifth-round pick (No. 153).

Draft picks:

  • Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn (1.2): Signed
  • Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh (1.13): Signed
  • Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State (2.41): Signed
  • Tre Mason, RB, Auburn (3.75): Signed
  • Maurice Alexander, S, Utah State (4.110): Signed
  • E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri (6.188): Signed
  • Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU (6.214): Signed
  • Mitchell Van Dyk, OT, Portland State (7.226): Signed
  • Christian Bryant, S, Ohio State (7.241): Signed
  • Michael Sam, DE/OLB, Missouri (7.249): Signed
  • Demetrius Rhaney, C, Tennessee State (7.250): Signed

Other:

  • Hired Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator.
  • Exercised Robert Quinn‘s fifth-year option for 2015 ($6.969MM).
  • Received three compensatory draft picks.
  • Signed 15 rookie free agents after the draft.

The Rams warned us early in the offseason that they wouldn’t be tremendously active in free agency and they stuck to that promise. The bulk of the club’s changes came through the draft and they hope those reinforcements, coupled with a few additions from the open market, will be enough to help them be competitive in the NFC West.

In a draft where much of the talk centered around speedy wide receiver Sammy Watkins and the dynamic Johnny Manziel, the Rams avoided flashiness with their two first-round choices. At No. 2, a pick the Rams received from the Redskins in the Robert Griffin III deal, they plucked Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson. While the big 6-5″ 332 pound tackle won’t be among the league leaders in jersey sales, he should, in time, give the Rams an imposing force on the offensive line. However, he might not have the kind of immediate impact that some were expecting just a few months ago. At the time of the draft, it was expected that Robinson would start his NFL journey as a right tackle before eventually making his way over to left tackle. Now, it sounds like Robinson will be playing guard in 2014.

It’s frustrating that I’m not up to pace right now because the playbook is more intense and things are changing but once I get back to where I’m comfortable, things will calm down and I can be myself out there,” Robinson said in June, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com.

Robinson hasn’t played on the inside of the offensive line since high school, so the growing pains are understandable. But for the long term, it’s understandable if Rams fans have some concern about Robinson’s upside. Of course, plenty of top left tackles start out in the league playing elsewhere on the offensive line. The Cowboys first used Tyron Smith, who inked a mammoth eight-year, $98MM extension yesterday, as a right tackle before entrusting him to protect Tony Romo‘s blind side.

Robinson will also get to pick the brains of veteran offensive lineman like Jake Long, Scott Wells, and Rodger Saffold. Of course, Saffold appeared to be heading elsewhere in March before circling back to the Rams. Saffold and Oakland reached agreement on a five-year, $42.5MM deal before a physical exam revealed a shoulder issue. While it was enough to scare off the Raiders, the Rams’ doctors had no issue with it, though the ordeal potentially cost Saffold some significant coin as the veteran’s new deal is worth $31.7MM overall with $11MM guaranteed.

To improve their situation on the other side of the ball, the Rams drafted Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald with their pick at No. 13. Donald At 6’0″, 280 pounds, Donald isn’t really your prototypical interior defensive lineman, but he has a knack for getting past blocks and into the backfield. As Sports Illustrated’s Joan Niesen noted earier today, Donald is about 30 pounds lighter than your average defensive tackle in the past decade of the NFL. And, in the past quarter-century, only one DT at 6’0″ or shorter has made a Pro Bowl. Still, the Rams, and a lot of other draft pundits, are banking on Donald breaking the mold and defying the odds.

The Donald pick was surprising for a couple of reasons. One, while the Giants, Bears, Cowboys, and other teams in the middle of the first round were linked to him, there wasn’t much buzz around the Rams drafting Donald. Secondly, many expected St. Louis to use that pick to bolster their shaky secondary. They wound up addressing that with their second-round pick, Florida State cornerback/safety Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner seems likely to spend a lot of time at slot corner this year, and possibly even start there, but he won’t be pigeonholed into one spot as he was drafted in part for his versatility. Look for Joyner to spend time at multiple positions in 2014 and beyond for St. Louis.

While there wasn’t a ton of money spent on the open market, the signing of Kenny Britt to a one-year, $1.4MM could potentially be a needle-mover for this Rams offense. The deal reunites the troubled Rutgers product with former coach Jeff Fisher and if he’s able to replicate the production from early on in his career, he can be a very dangerous weapon for Sam Bradford alongside Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, and Brian Quick. Injury troubles and legal problems aside, Britt has the natural talent to extend the field for the Rams.

The Rams didn’t have as much turnover as other teams this offseason, but it’s possible that they can disrupt the 49ers and Seahawks if quarterback Sam Bradford stays healthy and their two top draft picks can adapt quickly to the pace of the NFL.

Spotrac and Over The Cap were used in the creation of this post.

Marshawn Lynch Reports To Seahawks

4:20pm: The Seahawks have confirmed that Lynch had indeed reported to camp, ending his holdout, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

2:07pm: After remaining absent from training camp for a little over a week, Marshawn Lynch will end his holdout and report to the Seahawks within the next 24 hours, sources tell Adam Schefter and Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (via Twitter). According to Schefter (via Twitter), Lynch won’t get a new deal or a raise from Seattle, but the team is expected to make some financial concessions on his contract.Marshawn Lynch

Lynch, 28, finished the 2013 season with 1,257 yards, giving him his third straight 1,000-yard season. He also registered 14 total touchdowns, a career-high. While Lynch didn’t play a big role in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl romp over the Broncos, he has been an integral part of the team for the past three seasons and change, and was seeking a raise heading into the third year of his four-year contract. The average annual value of that pact placed Lynch among the league’s top five highest-paid running backs, but in terms of base salaries, the 2014 ($5MM) and 2015 ($5.5MM) figures were more modest, as well as a step down from his 2013 salary ($7MM).

Having just signed Lynch to an extension two years ago, the Seahawks were steadfast in their refusal to rework his deal, with GM John Schneider repeatedly pointing to a blueprint that the club had put in place years ago — that plan allowed the team to reward Lynch with his previous extension, but didn’t afford the flexibility for another raise, particularly as other key contributors like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Michael Bennett signed extensions of their own.

Lynch was subject to fines of up to $30K for each day of camp he missed, and the Seahawks could also have pursued a portion of his signing bonus. With the running back set to report, it seems unlikely that those fines will be assessed, so perhaps those are the “financial concessions” mentioned by Schefter. It’s also possible that the team could insert some additional incentives into the last two years of Lynch’s deal, which wouldn’t necessarily increase his cap number for now, but could give him the opportunity to earn some bonus money.

With Lynch set to report this week, the NFL’s lone holdout at the moment is guard Alex Boone of the 49ers. While several reports had indicated the Seahawks were unlikely to relent on Lynch, the same can’t be said of the Niners and Boone, so it will be interesting to see which side caves first in that situation, or whether a compromise can be reached.

When Lynch officially reports to training camp, the Seahawks will have to remove him from their reserve (did not report) list, which will mean cutting someone on the 90-man roster to clear a spot for the standout running back.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extension Talks Between Burfict, Bengals Stalled

Discussions between the Bengals and Vontaze Burfict on a new contract for the linebacker appear to have reached an impasse, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). We heard way back in May that the two sides had begun to discuss an extension, and earlier today a report suggested that the team still hoped to work something out before the regular season. However, it seems talks have stalled for now.

Burfict, 23, signed with the Bengals in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State, and quickly developed into a full-time starter in Cincinnati, leading the team in tackles (177) and earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2013. According to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), despite racking up penalties, Burfict graded as the league’s fourth-best 4-3 outside linebacker last season, performing particularly well in pass coverage.

Because he wasn’t drafted, Burfict is significantly underpaid heading into his contract year — he’s in line for a $570K base salary, with a cap number that’s only marginally higher than that, as a result of the $1K signing bonus he received back in ’12. However, even though he deserves a raise, Burfict’s leverage is limited by the fact that he’ll only be eligible for restricted free agency in 2015, meaning the Bengals can tender the linebacker an offer that would make it difficult for him to sign elsewhere.

The Bengals are also hoping to address Andy Dalton‘s contract situation in the near future, as well as extending A.J. Green, so perhaps the club will shift its focus on getting something done with those players if talks with Burfict come to a halt.

Chiefs Sign Steve Gregory

Former Patriots safety Steve Gregory has reached a deal to sign with the Chiefs, his agent David Canter announced today (via Twitter). Kansas City has a full 90-man roster, so the team will have to make a corresponding move to clear a spot for the new addition.

Gregory, 31, started 23 games at safety over the last two seasons for New England, but missed some time due to injuries in 2013, and was replaced adequately by rookie Duron Harmon, prompting the Pats to part ways with the veteran in February. A veteran who spent six years with the Chargers before his stint in New England, Gregory ranked among the league’s top 30 safeties in each of the last two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required).

While the timing is likely coincidental, it’s worth noting that the signing of Gregory comes on the same day that safety Eric Berry left Kansas City’s practice with an ankle injury. According to Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the Chiefs were just exercising caution with Berry, and aren’t concerned that his injury is significant. Defensive back Sanders Commings, on the other hand, appears to be more seriously hurt, as he is reportedly undergoing ankle surgery today. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Gregory ultimately replaced Commings on Chiefs’ roster.