AFC Notes: Collins, Manning, Browns

Star linebacker Jamie Collins has been out of the Patriots’ lineup since the end of October because of an illness, one that president Jonathan Kraft isn’t worried will spread throughout the team, per Mike Petraglia of WEEI.

“Jamie’s getting better and getting stronger every day,” Kraft said Sunday. “I know people in non-football life that end up with really bad viruses and get knocked out of their professional lives for a while.”

Continued Kraft, “This was something that doesn’t have us worried about the physical infrastructure at the facility. There wasn’t anything related to Jamie’s issues that had anything to do with the facility.”

Kraft’s words indicate that Collins’ illness isn’t MRSA, a staph infection-causing disease that has affected NFL teams in the past. Most recently, it ended the season of Giants tight end Daniel Fells in October.

Collins returned to practice Friday, so it appears he’ll be back in game action sometime this season.

And now a look at some of the Patriots’ AFC counterparts, including their Sunday night opponent:

  • Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, currently on the shelf because of a plantar fascia injury, is eager to return to the field as soon as possible. The team doesn’t share in his eagerness, though, and it’s causing friction between the two sides, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. Regarding the possibility of a healthy Manning backing up Brock Osweiler, a source told La Canfora, “We know this much — he’s not going to go quietly. He’s going to have to be dealt with.”
  • After briefly losing his job to Johnny Manziel, Josh McCown is back as the Browns’ starting quarterback – which he’s ambivalent about, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. While McCown relishes playing again, he isn’t pleased that his opportunity comes at the expense of Manziel – whom the Browns benched because of off-field issues. “You understand that you have a job to do, and the coaches make the decision and tell you you’re playing and you move forward accordingly,” said McCown. “But at the same time, I’m in the room with [Manziel] every day, and we’ve built a relationship. I’m a big advocate of his and a fan and a friend as well.”
  • The Browns have noteworthy free agents-to-be in safety Tashaun Gipson, tight end Gary Barnidge and receiver Travis Benjamin. If they only re-sign one, it should be the 25-year-old Gipson, writes Tom Reed of Gipson hasn’t been as sharp this season after leading the AFC in interceptions in 2013 and ’14, which could drop his price. That’s something Reed believes the Browns should look to capitalize on after they couldn’t reach a long-term deal with Gipson last offseason, when he was coming off a Pro Bowl campaign.

NFC Notes: Ryan, Lynch, Giants, Quarless

The Falcons started the season 5-0 and looked like a surefire playoff team, but they’ve lost five of their last six games to drop to 6-5. Their postseason hopes are now in serious jeopardy, and one reason for their skid is the lackluster play of quarterback Matt Ryan. During their four-game losing streak, the Falcons have averaged fewer than 17 points per game and Ryan has thrown just seven touchdowns against six interceptions. Two of those picks came in a crucial 20-10 loss to the Vikings on Sunday. Afterward, owner Arthur Blank and head coach Dan Quinn expressed confidence in Ryan, a three-time Pro Bowler who has been the Falcons’ QB since they drafted him third overall in 2008.

“He’s demonstrated his abilities over eight years. He’ll be fine. He’ll be good,” Blank said, according to Vaughn McClure of

Added Quinn, who said he isn’t thinking about benching Ryan or anyone else, “He’s absolutely the competitor that I want. He’s what we look for and our team looks for the whole way.”

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Whether he retires or the Seahawks simply decide to move on from him, there’s a good chance Marshawn Lynch is in his final year in Seattle, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. Lynch underwent groin surgery earlier this week and it’s possible he’ll end up on season-ending IR in a month if the team decides he’s not ready to return. Regardless, from an on-field standpoint, the five-time Pro Bowler has become less essential to the Seahawks’ offense with the emergence of rookie Thomas Rawls. From a business standpoint, cutting Lynch would save Seattle $6.5MM on its cap in 2016 and $10.5MM in ’17.
  • Don’t expect Giants general manager Jerry Reese to be a fall guy if they miss the playoffs, tweets ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
  • The Packers – who are in desperate need of weapons in their passing game – are close to getting injured tight end Andrew Quarless back, per Weston Hodkiewicz of the Press-Gazette. Quarless has been on the shelf since tearing his ACL in Week 3, and head coach Mike McCarthy said he could practice in the coming week. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be active for Green Bay’s game against Detroit on Thursday, however.

Jimmy Graham Out For Season With Patellar Tendon Injury

The Seahawks stayed in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt with a 39-30 win over the Steelers on Sunday, but the victory comes with bad news. Tight end Jimmy Graham suffered a patellar tendon injury during the game and will undergo season-ending surgery, according to head coach Pete Carroll (Twitter link via the team). The recovery timeline will be six to nine months, per Dr. David Chao of SiriusXM (Twitter link).

Prior to departing in the fourth quarter, Graham was having one of his best games of 2015 with four receptions for 75 yards. He had to be carted off the field with an air cast on his right leg after landing awkwardly on an incomplete pass in Pittsburgh’s end zone.

Graham finishes the season, his first in Seattle, with 48 catches for 605 yards and two touchdowns. Considering what Seattle gave up for Graham in the offseason – center Max Unger and a first-round pick – it was a disappointing campaign for the three-time Pro Bowler. The ex-Saint came to the Seahawks fresh off four straight seasons of at least 85 catches and 880-plus yards, also racking up a prolific 46 touchdowns during that span.

While Graham’s production tailed off this season, he’s still a big loss for quarterback Russell Wilson and the 6-5 Seahawks – who will continue fighting for their playoff lives over the final five weeks. Graham is currently second on the Seahawks in both receptions and yards, trailing only wideout Doug Baldwin. The team’s second-most productive tight end, Luke Wilson, has just 12 catches this year.

Week In Review: 11/22/15 – 11/29/15

The headlines from the past week at PFR:

Key News:








PFR Originals: 11/22/15 – 11/29/15

The original content and analysis produced by the PFR staff during the past week:

  • Luke Adams took a look at the 2016 cap outlook for the Ravens. The big question the team faces is how to restructure Joe Flacco‘s cap hit in order to clear some room for free agency. Will Hill is also a candidate for an extension, and Dennis Pitta is likely to either be cut or have his salary reduced.
  • In our Community Tailgate series, we post topics for discussion and encourage readers to share their thoughts in the comments section. The issues covered this week:

Geoff Schwartz Leaves Game With Fractured Leg

Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz exited the contest versus Washington with a fractured lower leg. He has been ruled out, and will be heading to injured reserve according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (via Twitter).

The Giants will likely look to add an offensive lineman during the week, either in free agency or from their practice squad.

The entire offensive line has been finding it difficult to stay on the field. Former first-round pick Justin Pugh was already ruled out for today with a concussion, the second-straight game he missed with that injury. Schwartz had already moved to left guard to compensate for that. Center Weston Richburg is also missing with a high ankle sprain.

John Jerry, Dallas Reynolds, and rookie Bobby Hart are seeing unexpected playing time because of the rash of injuries to the interior of the offensive line. In fact, other that the two starting offensive tackles, backup Emmett Cleary is the only other offensive lineman on the active roster.

Schwartz struggled with injury for the Giants last year, when he played in only two games after signing a not insignificant free agent contract the previous offseason. The team has yet to get a return on investment for the four-year deal worth $16.8MM and $6.2MM guaranteed. If this injury is indeed season ending, it could put his future with the team in jeopardy.

Sunday Roundup: Marrone, Martin, Keenum

As the afternoon games get underway, let’s take a look at some news and notes from around the league:

  • We heard earlier today that Jaguars OL coach Doug Marrone will be viewed as a top head coaching candidate this offseason, and Mike Florio of explains why. As Florio writes, Marrone, who became available after opting to terminate his relationship with Buffalo last year, came on the market “a little too unexpectedly” for teams to scrap their existing plans at the time. Now, however, with a high number of potential head coaching vacancies and a relatively small number of truly qualified candidates, Marrone will be an attractive option, especially given that the Bills are doing less (record-wise) with more talent under Rex Ryan than they did under Marrone.
  • Former NFL agent Joel Corry tweets that there is no need to speculate as to whether the Buccaneers will put the franchise tag on Doug Martin, as the nearly $12MM cap number for a franchised running back is too steep in today’s NFL. The last time the tag was used on an RB was in 2012, when the Ravens tagged Ray Rice and the Bears tagged Matt Forte. The cap number for a franchised RB at the time was $7.7MM.
  • ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweets that, even though the NFL has apparently closed the book on whether the Rams should be penalized for last week’s concussion controversy surrounding Case Keenum, the NFL Players Association is continuing its own investigation.
  • In his latest mailbag, Tony Grossi of looks at what the Browns might expect to receive if they were to trade Johnny Manziel at this point, and he notes that the best the Browns could hope for is a future pick conditioned on Manziel’s active status and number of starts.
  • After the Lions promoted Isa Abdul-Quddus to a starting role and moved James Ihedigbo to the bench, they began to see a noticeable improvement from the back end of their defense, as Kyle Meinke of observes. Abdul-Quddus is not as physical as Ihedigbo, but he covers much more ground and has established himself as a quality option in the team’s secondary, particularly in light of the recent injury to Glover Quin. Adbul-Quddus, who signed a one-year deal with Detroit last year, may be putting himself in line for a multi-year pact this offseason.
  • David Moore of The Dallas Morning News examines the futures for Cowboys defensive backs Byron Jones and Morris Claiborne, predicting that Dallas plans to move Jones to safety moving forward, thereby increasing the likelihood that the team retains Claiborne.
  • In a series of three articles, Jason Fitzgerald of reexamines the Eagles‘ offseason decisions, offers his thoughts on the Jets‘ rebuilding process, and previews the 2016 class of free agent tight ends.

Jets Waive Quinton Coples

SUNDAY, 11:07am: Per Rich Cimini of, Coples was involved in an incident on the Jets’ return flight from Houston last Saturday, which ultimately sealed his fate with the club. The nature of the incident is unclear, but this report adds another layer to what was initially painted as a simple lack of schematic fit. Bowles has clearly established himself as a no-nonsense coach during his first year at the helm, and Cimini writes that his decision to waive Coples rattled the locker room. Bob Glauber of Newsday agrees and believes the move increased the team’s respect for Bowles.

MONDAY, 11:10am: The Jets have made a somewhat surprising roster move, announcing today in a press release that they have parted ways with former first-round pick Quinton Coples, placing the outside linebacker on waivers. If Coples goes unclaimed, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent tomorrow.

Coples, selected 16th overall in the 2012 draft, had his best year as a pro in 2014, but even that amounted to just 35 tackles and 6.5 sacks, modest totals for a first-round pass rusher. Since Todd Bowles took over as the Jets’ head coach, Coples has become increasingly marginalized. As Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News observed this morning (via Twitter), the 25-year-old played just five snaps in Sunday’s loss to the Texans, and clearly wasn’t a fit in the current defensive scheme.

The Jets had picked up Coples’ fifth-year option for 2016 back in April, but his $7.751MM salary for next year was guaranteed for injury only, so New York won’t have to pay it. If another team decides to claim Coples off waivers, that club would have to take on his current contract, including that option. As such, it would be somewhat risky to claim him and play him for the remainder of this season, since that 2016 salary could become fully guaranteed if he suffers a major injury. The linebacker’s $1.515MM salary for 2015 is also fully guaranteed, so a club claiming him would be on the hook for the final six weeks at that rate.

While Coples’ performance in 2015 won’t necessarily earn him another shot right away, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him generate some interest, particularly if he clears waivers and becomes a free agent. Considering he played under Rex Ryan for the first three years of his NFL career, Coples may appeal to the Bills.

La Canfora’s Latest: McDermott, Lions, Kroenke

Let’s take a look at some of the latest notes and observations from CBS Sports scribe Jason La Canfora:

  • Both La Canfora and Ian Rapoport of have delved into some of the most notable names who will be connected to head coaching vacancies this offseason. Rapoport mentions Bears OC Adam Gase, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, Jaguars offensive line coach Doug Marrone, and Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable as veterans of the head coaching interview circuit who will be generating plenty of buzz this offseason. Other less familiar candidates who have also piqued the interest of teams around the league include Panthers coordinators Mike Shula (offensive) and Sean McDermott (defensive), and Bills RB coach Anthony Lynn (all Twitter links). La Canfora explores the case for McDermott in more detail, noting that Carolina’s defense under McDermott’s watch has been among the league’s best for some time, but given the Panthers’ success this season, McDermott has been getting more attention around the league. La Canfora says it would not be a surprise if McDermott met with four to six teams during wildcard weekend, which is likely to be a bye week for the Panthers. Per La Canfora, a team that hires McDermott would do well to add current Chargers head coach Mike McCoy as its offensive coordinator. McCoy is rumored to be on his way out of San Diego at the end of the year, and he and McDermott share a “mutual admiration” for each other. The addition of McCoy would also help to alleviate concern regarding McDermott’s abilities on the offensive side of the ball.
  • La Canfora also has a look at potential candidates for the Lions GM job, noting that the team may have difficulty courting some of its top choices given the questions concerning team ownership and the fact that new team president Ron Wood is an unknown commodity in football circles. However, the Lions’ resurgence in recent weeks, the talent on the roster, and the fact that the club has a history of “unwavering loyalty” to its front office executives could allow the team to nab a prized candidate. Those candidates include names like Seahawks pro personnel director Trent Kirchner, Packers player personnel director Eliot Wolf, Patriots director of pro scouting Bob Quinn, and Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta. Of those names, Quinn may be the most likely option, considering that Wolf and DeCosta are both fairly comfortable in their roles as GM-in-waiting for their current clubs, and Kirchner will be the top candidate for a number of teams.
  • If Stan Kroenke‘s plan to move the Rams to Los Angeles falls though, La Canfora identifies several other options for the St. Louis owner. The league knows that if Kroenke loses out to the Chargers and Raiders in the race to LA, it would have to work actively to find other solutions for Kroenke, with London and Denver representing two such solutions. Kroenke–who remains focused on LA at the moment and has not actively considered any alternatives–has business interests in England and owns Premier League powerhouse Arsenal. Colorado, meanwhile, serves as Kroenke’s base, and his family owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. La Canfora’s sources indicate that Kroenke could purchase the Broncos at some point down the road–La Canfora writes that team ownership will be in flux when Pat Bowlen passes on–and sell the Rams to an investor looking to keep the team in St. Louis. However, Broncos Vice President of Public Relations Patrick Smyth took to Twitter shortly after La Canfora’s report, tweeting that the plan is to keep ownership of the Broncos in the Bowlen family.


Latest On Chip Kelly, Howie Roseman

It was not that long ago that Eagles executive vice president of football operations, Howie Roseman, was essentially demoted from general manager and relieved of most of his personnel duties while head coach Chip Kelly was given the reins as de facto GM. Now, however, the tide may be turning in Roseman’s favor. After Philadelphia’s blowout loss on Thanksgiving, Kelly, according to a tweet from Ian Rapoport of, was “despondent,” “feeling the heat,” and “considering all options.” Although Kelly remains intent on fixing his team’s struggles, the odds that he remains in Philadelphia beyond this season are growing slimmer with each passing day.

That is not to say that he will definitely not return. After all, he guided his club to 10-6 records in each of his first two years in Philadelphia, and if the team is able to acquire a quarterback that has the skill-set to excel in his offensive system–like Colin Kaepernick, for instance–there is no reason to believe that the Eagles cannot return to the top of the NFC East in 2016. If we were talking simply about Kelly the coach, it would be almost foolish to think that he would not remain with the team next year.

The problem is, Kelly the coach is also Kelly the GM, and as Mike Florio of points out, that means that Kelly is fully responsible for what has happened to the Eagles this season, including the predictable struggles of the Sam Bradford-led offense. Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that Kelly the GM took gambles on players with extensive injury histories who unsurprisingly have missed time with injury, he chose the wrong veteran players to send packing, and per Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Kelly’s behavior concerning injured players has left much to be desired.

If Kelly is to leave Philadelphia, voluntarily or otherwise, he would immediately become the most sought-after option among college programs looking for a new head coach, and that may be an increasingly tempting possibility for him. Indeed, Rapoport tweets that USC has reached out to Kelly to express the school’s interest in him, and the Trojans are just one of a number of teams that could be a nice landing spot for the embattled coach (although Rapoport does add that the Titans, who are committed to the quarterback that Kelly tried to draft in May, Marcus Mariota, could make a run at Kelly if he becomes available).

Should Kelly depart, Florio speculates that Roseman could be on the verge of seizing a level of control over the Eagles that he has never had before. After all, as Kelly rightfully has borne the brunt of the blame for his club’s struggles in 2016, Roseman has, by comparison, come out smelling like a rose. Although there are plenty of writers both inside and outside of the Eagles beat who believe Kelly will remain in Philadelphia next year, it would be very easy for owner Jeffrey Lurie to move on from Kelly and restore Roseman to the GM role. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but if the Thanksgiving debacle was a harbinger of things to come, Roseman could once again be running the show in Philadelphia in a couple of months.


NFL News & NFL Rumors