Vikings’ Phil Loadholt Announces Retirement

Vikings offensive lineman Phil Loadholt has informed the team of his plans to retire. Loadholt has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons so while news of his retirement is somewhat surprising, it does not come as a shock. On Monday afternoon, the Vikings issued a press release confirming the news:Phil Loadholt

I first want to thank the Wilf Family for the wonderful opportunity they gave me seven years ago. There’s a lot of people to thank – Rick Spielman, Rob Brzezinski, George Paton, Scott Studwell and all the personnel people. My head coaches – Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier and Mike Zimmer. My position coaches – Pat Morris, Jim Hueber, Jeff Davidson, and Tony Sparano. The entire Vikings support staff and most important – the Vikings fans and my teammates. This chapter in my life is closing and I look forward to seeing what the next one brings. I’ll always love this game and the opportunity to do something I dreamed about since I was seven years old. But, my body is telling me it’s time to hang up my cleats.

Loadholt, 30, was placed on IR in each of the previous two seasons, playing in just 11 total games. In 2014, a torn pectoral ended his season after 11 games. In 2015, he tore his Achilles’ tendon, ending his season before it could even begin.

Back in March, Loadholt accepted a pay cut in order to stay with the Vikings. The new deal was supposed to give the tackle a $2MM base in 2016 with up to $3.5MM through incentives, demonstrating that Loadholt was willing to bet on himself after a year away from live action. Before the two major injuries, Loadholt missed only one game from 2009-13. Loadholt suited up for 15 contests in 2013 and graded out as a top-five tackle by Pro Football Focus’ standards.

Loadholt now retires after playing six seasons in the NFL, all of which were spent with the Vikings. In total, Loadholt appeared in 89 games and started every single one. We here at PFR wish Loadholt nothing but the best in retirement.

Loadholt’s retirement was first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers OL Anthony Davis Coming Out Of Retirement

Anthony Davis took to Twitter to announce that he has submitted a letter seeking reinstatement to the NFL and the 49ers. Because Davis officially retired in 2015, some paperwork is required before he can take the field again. Anthony Davis (vertical)

At different points over the last year, Davis has hinted that he wants to return to football. However, he has also bashed the 49ers, making it seem like he does not want to suit up again for San Francisco. If he does return to the NFL, the 49ers will still hold his rights.

Prior to the draft in April, Davis tweeted [sic], “The 49ers should Draft an Offensive Tackle in the top 10. #NFLDraft2016.” After that, he took an even more direct shot at the 49ers by writing, do not want to work with a front office or anyone else who seemingly doesn’t want to win as bad as I do.

Davis, 26, was the 49ers’ first-round pick in 2010, coming off the board No. 11 overall. Prior to his retirement, he started 71 games at right tackle for SF, playing all 16 regular season contests in his first four years before being limited to seven games in 2014. Davis dealt with hamstring and knee issues, and also battled concussion problems, which may have contributed to his decision to step away from the game temporarily in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jets, Ryan Fitzpatrick

With training camp right around the corner, the Jets have gone to great lengths to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick. Or, at least, they’re working hard to push that perception through the media. The Jets have given Fitzpatrick multiple contract offers to choose from, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News hears. Ryan Fitzpatrick

[RELATED: Details On Muhammad Wilkerson’s Deal]

In addition to the widely-reported three-year, $24MM offer, the Jets have presented at least one other option to the quarterback, according to Mehta. The terms of that second offer are not immediately clear. It’s possible that Gang Green has also offered Fitzpatrick a one-year pact which would allow him to bet on himself and potentially cash in next spring if he can offer up a repeat of his 2015 effort. Of course, even if the Harvard product can turn in another strong campaign, his earning potential could be limited as he enters his age-35 season. Fitzpatrick, who turns 34 in November, sees this as his best and maybe last opportunity to really cash in.

After the Jets acquired Fitzpatrick from the Texans last year for a mere late-round pick, he went on to have his best season for a 10-6 club that narrowly missed the playoffs. The career journeyman unexpectedly totaled personal highs in touchdowns (31) and yards (3,905) and he wants his next contract to reflect his achievements.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL: No Evidence Of Peyton Manning PED Use

After a seven-month investigation, the NFL determined that Peyton Manning did not use HGH nor any other performance enhancing drug. Manning, of course, was named in a documentary about PEDs by Al Jazeera America late last year. The NFL released the following statement on Monday morning:"<strong

Following a comprehensive seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al Jazeera America, the NFL found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with or used HGH or other substances prohibited by the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, it was announced today. The Mannings were fully cooperative with the investigation and provided both interviews and access to all records sought by the investigators.

Initiated in January, the investigation was led by the NFL’s security and legal teams with support from expert consultants and other professionals. The investigation involved witness interviews, a review of relevant records and other materials, online research, and laboratory analysis and review.

Separately, the NFL’s investigation continues into the documentary’s allegations made against other NFL players, which involve different lines of inquiry and witnesses

Shortly after the documentary aired in December 2015, Manning went on the offensive and pronounced to the world that he would sue Al Jazeera for defamation. Months later, however, Manning backtracked from plans to bring legal action. Manning’s lawsuit flip-flop raised eyebrows in the football world, which may have motivated him to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation.

Manning retired from the NFL following his Super Bowl 50 win, leaving the sport as a two-time champion and a shoe-in Hall of Famer. No. 18 left the game as the league’s all-time leader in total wins by a QB (200), passing yards (71,940), and passing touchdowns (539) and also left the sport as the highest-paid player in league history. Over his career, Manning netted roughly a quarter-billion dollars, and that’s before considering his sponsorship deals.

Manning evened the score with brother Eli Manning when he secured his second Super Bowl ring, but the elder Manning had a tumultuous year to say the least. Peyton struggled to open the season but many didn’t notice as the Broncos came out of the gate 7-0 thanks to their defense. Soon after that, however, Manning’s decline became quite apparent to all observers. The Broncos eventually installed Brock Osweiler as their starting QB and it wasn’t until Week 17 when they put the Sheriff back in the starting role.

While the league’s investigation into Manning is now closed, today’s press release makes it clear that the NFL will continue to look into the allegations raised against Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, James Harrison, and Mike Neal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars GM: No Deal Imminent For Greg Hardy

Jaguars GM David Caldwell says that the team’s recent workout with Greg Hardy was only about doing homework on the player and no signing is imminent, as John Oehser of Jaguars.com tweets. Greg Hardy (vertical)

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Following a well-publicized domestic violence incident (and a subsequent suspension) back in 2014, Hardy played 12 games for the Cowboys last season. The lineman compiled 35 tackles, six sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in 2015. In terms of traditional numbers, that was a far cry from Hardy’s production with the Panthers. Between 2011 and 2013, the former sixth-round pick averaged 56 tackles and 10 sacks a season. Still, Hardy ranked as the league’s 28th-best edge defender out of 110 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Heading into the offseason, we here at PFR ranked Hardy No. 21 on our list of top 50 free agents.

Whether it was due to his off-field issues or his drop in production, Hardy wasn’t generating much interest this offseason. Jerry Jones made it clear that Hardy wouldn’t be back with the Cowboys, and there was a “prevailing opinion” around the league that no organization wanted the defensive end. PFR’s Dallas Robinson looked at potential landing spots for the veteran back in May.

According to Roster Resource, Dante Fowler Jr. and Jared Odrick figure to be the Jaguars starters at defensive end. Hardy, in theory, would help improve a depth chart that includes a pair of late-round rookies, but he’s not coming to Jacksonville. At least, not at this time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Greg Jennings To Retire

Wide receiver Greg Jennings has announced his retirement from the NFL after 10 seasons. Greg Jennings

[RELATED: Vikings’ Phil Loadholt To Retire]

Jennings became a free agent in March when he was cut loose by the Dolphins. The 32-year-old Jennings was widely expected to be a cap casualty this offseason, as the results of his first season with the Dolphins was wholly uninspiring. He posted career-lows in nearly every statistical category, catching just 19 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown. After terminating the final year of Jennings’ two-year contract, Miami saved $4MM on its salary cap while incurring $1.5MM in dead money.

The Kalamazoo, Michigan native appeared in all 16 regular season games for the Dolphins last season but it was clear that he was not as sharp as he had been in previous years. Jennings saw a career low in targets (36) and receptions (19), totaling just 208 yards and one touchdown.

While things didn’t go as planned in Miami, Jennings will be remembered for the quality seasons that he enjoyed in his prime, particularly with the Packers. From 2007 through 2011, Jennings averaged 1,108 yards and nine touchdown grabs per season for Green Bay. In 2010 and 2011, Jennings earned Pro Bowl nods for his exceptional play. More importantly, Jennings helped the Packers capture a championship ring in 2010. After the 2012 season in Green Bay, Jennings joined up with the rival Vikings and delivered two productive seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks To Extend GM John Schneider

The Seahawks and longtime GM John Schneider have reached an agreement on an extension that will make him one of the highest-paid GMs in the NFL. It’s a five-year extension for Schneider set to run through the 2021 season.

The deal, per Clayton, will approach $3.75MM per year, matching Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome for the highest full-time GM salary in the NFL . Schneider was set to be seeking a contract worth $4MM per season, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.

Schneider’s contract was set to expire after the 2016 season. Pete Carroll‘s deal expires after 2016 as well and the Schneider pact is expected to soon lead to an extension for the team’s highly-regarded head coach.

The team has qualified for the playoffs in five of the pair’s six years together, including each of the past four. Assembling a mostly homegrown group of talent during this decade, Seattle’s gone to two Super Bowls, winning one and coming closer than perhaps any big-game loser has to claiming another title one year later.

Under Schneider’s regime, the Seahawks have been one of the league’s best at drafting talent and possibly the best reaching extensions with cornerstone players — including Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner. They received the most productive years of Marshawn Lynch‘s career after trading for the then-maligned running back and recently hammered out an extension with former UDFA Doug Baldwin, the latest member of Seattle’s deep core now locked up long-term.

The agreement was first reported by ESPN.com’s John Clayton. FOXSports.com’s Jay Glazer (on Twitter) was first to report the length of the agreement. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Rumors: Bradford, Mathews, Peters

Sam Bradford will not be part of the 2017 Eagles, Les Bowen of Philly.com writes. The Eagles are leaning toward making Carson Wentz a game-day inactive to start the season, but the trade for the No. 2 overall pick points to him starting by ’17, Bowen notes. If the Eagles are unable to find a suitable trade partner for Bradford following the ’16 season, they’d incur $9.5MM in dead money as a result of the two-year, $36MM deal they signed the 28-year-old quarterback to in March.

Here’s more coming out of Philadelphia as the Eagles prepare for training camp.

  • Before his presumptive departure, though, Bradford will have more freedom at the line of scrimmage than he did under Chip Kelly, writes Philly.com’s Zach Berman. Despite the former No. 1 overall pick tasked with learning a new offense for the fifth time his career, the attack orchestrated by Doug Pederson and Frank Reich poses as similar to Pat Shurmur‘s system with the Rams in 2010. Bradford claimed offensive rookie of the year honors that season.
  • The Eagles will save $13MM if Bradford is released but $17MM if he is traded, Jimmy Kempski of Phillyvoice.com reports. The 2017 free agent market for quarterbacks currently includes Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins, but those two are almost certain to not be part of that contingent next March. That leaves the likes of Mark Sanchez, Blaine Gabbert and Geno Smith as the potential top QBs on the market. So, Philadelphia should be able to fetch a decent trade for Bradford, who will turn 30 in November of 2017.
  • Much like Bradford doesn’t look to be back in Philly next season, Ryan Mathews resides in the same boat, Kempski writes. Characterizing the former first-round pick as a poor fit for Pederson’s offense — one that stands to feature running backs used through the air more often, as Jamaal Charles was under Pederson in Kansas City — Kempski notes the Eagles do not necessarily want Mathews around long-term but would be in trouble without him in 2016. The Eagles, who have Mathews under contract through next season, are projected to possess the least amount of cap room in the league in ’17 and ’18 as of now and can save $4MM by cutting the former Charger next year.
  • If Jason Peters or Jason Kelce don’t bounce back this season, they make for cap-casualty candidates in 2017, Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News writes. The latter is only in the second season of a six-year, $37.5MM contract, but that deal contains just $2.4MM in dead money beginning next season. Peters enters his eighth season with the Eagles and 13th in the NFL. The former All-Pro left tackle has three years remaining on his four-year, $38.3MM extension. That deal, though, houses just $2MM in dead money in ’17, when Peters will be 35.
  • The Eagles added quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson on Sunday to a quarterback stable that may be the deepest in the NFL.

Lions To Work Out Jimmy Clausen

Jimmy Clausen‘s Monday workout tour will venture west from Washington D.C., with the well-traveled backup set to audition for the Lions, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Similarly to his Redskins showcase, Clausen will throw to visiting wide receivers on Monday in Detroit, reports the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett, who adds (Twitter link) the Lions are finalizing a list of pass-catchers who will participate in the workout.

The 28-year-old Clausen threw to free agent Marlon Brownamong others in a group that included soon-to-be Redskins signing Dez Stewart, in Washington. Lions GM Bob Quinn hasn’t made it a secret his team was looking to add prospective veteran help late in the offseason. The team has been linked to Anquan Boldin and had a visit scheduled with Arian Foster before the veteran running back signed with the Dolphins prior to heading to Detroit.

The Lions possess the seventh-most cap space in the NFL at $19.3MM and don’t have a particularly deep stable of passers behind Matthew Stafford, as Roster Resource shows. Longtime Lion Dan Orlovsky resides behind the starter, with sixth-round pick Jake Rudock joining the group as well.

A former second-round Panthers pick out of Notre Dame, Clausen went 1-9 as a starter in 2010 for the Panthers, and once the team drafted Cam Newton, the former highly regarded prospect’s place as a backup quarterback became entrenched. The Bears waived Clausen last November, and the quarterback-depleted Ravens claimed him. Clausen started three games last season for the Bears and Ravens, losing all three while completing 57% of his passes and throwing two touchdown passes and four interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Sign Vinnie Sunseri

The Patriots have added a bit of depth to their secondary, as they’ve agreed to sign former Saints defensive back Vinnie Sunseri, the club announced today. New England also confirmed the previously-reported signing of rookie free agent offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson.Vinnie Sunseri (Vertical)

[RELATED: New England Patriots depth chart]

Sunseri, 24, was a fifth-round pick out of Alabama in the 2014 draft, but he’s ended each of his first two NFL campaigns on the injured reserve list. As such, he doesn’t have much in the way of experience, as he has just nine career games under his belt (and all of that action came during his rookie season). Sunseri hasn’t been a defensive contributor — he’s seen only 11 defensive snaps in the NFL — but he did prove his worth on special teams, as he played on 37% of New Orleans’ ST snaps in 2014.

Special teams is the likely area of focus for Sunseri in New England, as well, as the club is well-stocked at the safety position, where Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, and Nate Ebner make up the top of the depth chart. The Patriots are typically excellent on special teams, having ranked among the top-five in ST DVOA in every season since 2011. Sunseri worked out for the Pats back in May, so the club did get an up-close look at what he can do.

New England’s signing of Kerbyson had been reported on Friday. The former Tennessee Volunteer went undrafted earlier this year, but started all 13 games at left tackle during his senior season, during which he was named second-team All SEC.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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