NFC East Links: Rolle, Smith, Cowboys, Cofield

Antrel Rolle is playing in a contract year for the Giants, and while he wants to stay with the team, he knows that anything can happen in an NFL offseason, writes Bob Glauber of Newsday.com.

“Staying here would definitely be ideal,” said Rolle. “I feel like there’s a lot of things that I would like to get accomplished with a new set of [teammates]. I feel like there’s a lot more to get done. Unfortunately, if you don’t have the opportunity to stay, you move on.”

The 32-year-old safety has been a stalwart of the Giants’ defense since coming over from Arizona in 2010.

Here are some other links from around the NFC East:

  • Eagles‘ first-round pick Marcus Smith has struggled to see the field as a rookie, but the team worries if he will ever develop into the player they had hoped when they drafted him, writes Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Smith has been compared to Danny Watkins, another failed first-round selection.
  • Cowboys‘ head coach Jason Garrett has been thought of as a puppet for Jerry Jones, but Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPNDallas.com thinks Garrett has wielded more power within the organization recently. He cites the team drafting Zack Martin, letting DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher leave in free agency, and holding off on extensions for Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray as all uncharacteristic moves for Jones, likely influenced by Garrett.
  • Martin has been excellent as a rookie, validating the Cowboys‘ decision not to draft Johnny Manziel. However, if the Browns decide to sign Hoyer to a long-term contract, Manziel could still be a fit for the Cowboys, writes Steven Mullenax of The LandryHat.com. With the struggles of Brandon Weeden and Tony Romo‘s injury issues, Manziel could be a good backup and eventual replacement in Dallas.
  • Given the choice between Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, or Murray this offseason, Jon Machota of DallasNews.com believes the Cowboys should place Peterson at the top of their wish list. He believes that signing Peterson behind this offensive line would be more dangerous even than the younger DeMarco Murray.
  • Washington defensive lineman Barry Cofield eased his way back into action last week against the Buccaneers, after returning from injury. Cofield should see his snaps increase starting this week, reports Tom Schad of the Washington Times.
  • Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has been in charge of an erratic defense during his tenure with the team, but despite scheme changes and coaching changes, he has survived, writes Mike Jones of the Washington Post. Jones paints the major problem in the consistency of the defense as a lack of talent on that side of the ball.
  • As the controversy with the Washington team name carries on, one devoted fan has decided to take a stand against the name, writes John Woodrow Cox of the Washington Post. He found a company to make strips of cloth that say “Washington” in which fans can use to patch over their old team apparel. Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News points to the name change for the University of Stanford as a precedent for the change, and the New Yorker has used their cover to mock the name in anticipation of Thanksgiving, according to Sports Illustrated.

Minor Moves: Saturday

Here are today’s minor transactions. We’ll update the list throughout the day, with the most recent moves added to the top…

Earlier Updates

Uncertain Futures For Peterson, Rice

Adrian Peterson was suspended for the rest of the season earlier this week, and his career with the Vikings could be coming to an end, according to Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com. Peterson has expressed concern about returning to the team after his suspension is over.

According to Tomasson, Peterson had told USA Today he “would love to go back and play in Minnesota” but that it might be “best for me to get a fresh start somewhere else.”

If the team decides his return is too much of a distraction to bring back, Peterson could find himself a hot commodity as far as running backs go. While Toby Gerhart and Donald Brown received only modest contracts as this past offseason’s top runners, Peterson should garner more attention than either of them. Those runners each signed deals in the $10-$11MM range, with between $4-$5MM in guaranteed money.

Both of those players have failed to live up to those modest contracts already in the first year. Peterson comes with some baggage now after missing almost all of the 2014 season, but his talent and potential upside far outweighs any runner to switch teams in recent years.

Peterson will be 30 years old by the time next season starts, but is still considered to be one of the top talents at the position across the league. While he might never again reach the level of his 2012 MVP season, he is not yet in decline as a player, amassing 1,266 yards in 14 games in 2013, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. This season will be the first year of his career that he failed to record double digit touchdowns.

Peterson’s fellow disgraced ball carrier, Ray Rice, shares the name recognition of Peterson, but his NFL future is much more up in the air. The Rice saga gained more media attention than did Peterson, with the visual of the TMZ video only exacerbating the public’s anger toward his case.

Rice, unlike Peterson, had experienced a sharp decline in on the field performance as well. Never the player Peterson was even at his peak, Rice’s 2013 season saw him gain only 660 yards at 3.1 yards per carry. Where Peterson never failed to score ten touchdowns in a season, Rice only hit that mark once, with 12 in 2011. Rice may be only a year younger than Peterson, but will likely be an afterthought in this year’s free agent class if he is even able to sign at all.

Browns To Activate Josh Gordon

Ten games into the NFL season, the Browns will finally get arguably their best player back, as the team has activated Josh Gordon in time for this weekend’s matchup against the Falcons, reports Josina Anderson of ESPN (via Twitter).

The team has waived linebacker Keith Pough in order to make room for Gordon.

The Browns may be getting their All-Pro wide receiver at the perfect time. The team jumped out to a 6-4 start in their first ten games, putting them a half game out of the lead in the AFC North, which has turned out to be one of the most competitive divisions in football. With the Bengals and Steelers at a virtual tie for the division lead at 6-3-1 and 7-4, the Browns are lurking close behind in a tie with the Ravens.

The Browns have two divisional games left, and will have an opportunity to position themselves well in terms of tiebreakers by winning both games. Aside from the AFC North games, they have a reasonably easy slate left, with the Falcons, Panthers, Bills, and Colts left on the schedule.

Gordon will certainly have a chance to make an impact the rest of the season. Last season, despite missing the first two games due to suspension, he was able to rack up a league leading 1,646 receiving yards. While it is difficult to predict that Gordon will return in midseason form right away, his presence on the field will only give Brian Hoyer more weaponry as the team makes their improbable run to the playoffs.

Extra Points: Shula, Falcons, Allen, Jets

Let’s check out some assorted notes from around the league on this Saturday afternoon…

  • The Panthers could see some changes if their season doesn’t turn around, and ESPN.com’s David Newton believes the “fall guy” could be offensive coordinator Mike Shula. Meanwhile, the writer attributes the team’s lack of success to injuries, the absence of Greg Hardy and general manager Dave Gettleman’s mismanagement of the salary cap.
  • Count Falcons coach Mike Smith among those who are still in favor of the team’s 2011 trade for wideout Julio Jones“I don’t know what happened with the Cleveland Browns, but we got better as a football team when we acquired Julio Jones,” Smith said (via Marla Ridenour of the Beacon Journal). “He’s an elite wide receiver that demands resources from the defense that, in turn, is going to make everybody else around him better.”
  • Ira Kaufman of The Tampa Tribune opines that Bears defensive end Jared Allen is “on the short list” of free agent disappointments (Twitter link).
  • ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini looks at the top five questions for the Jets as their season winds down. Notably, the writer questions whether general manager John Idzik and coach Rex Ryan will stick around, if the team’s future quarterback is currently on the roster, and if Percy Harvin is worth $10MM next season.

Giants Waive Charles Brown

Offensive lineman Charles Brown didn’t even last one season in New York, as ESPN’s Adam Caplan tweets that the Giants have waived the 27-year-old. ESPN’s Josina Anderson adds (via Twitter) that the team has promoted linebacker Justin Anderson to take Brown’s place on the roster.

The former second-round pick signed a one-year deal with the Giants in April after having spent the first four years of his career with the Saints. The tackle wasn’t necessarily productive with New Orleans in 2013, but ProFootballFocus.com (subscription required) ranked him as an above-average run blocker.

Brown compiled nearly 1,000 snaps with New Orleans last season, but he’s barely seen the field in 2014. The lineman’s only seen 62 snaps on offense, and PFF’s advanced metrics ranked him among the least-productive players on the Giants.

Anderson, an undrafted rookie out of Louisiana-Lafayette, was cut by New York last week. He quickly rejoined the team’s practice squad only a couple of days later.

NFC East Links: Garrett, Bryant, Eagles, RGIII

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett will be a free agent at the end of the season, but that’s not distracting anyone within the organization. That includes owner Jerry Jones, who talked about his lack of concern on 105.3 The Fan (via Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News):

“It’s really a non event for me, whether there is concern [from the outside] about it or not. I don’t mean to sound that way, but it hasn’t been a concern of mine and we haven’t made it a concern for the club this year. This talk about these contracts, no matter who it is that has a pending contract or one that’s coming up, that’s all for [media and fans] to talk about. That really has no impact on my day.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the NFC East…

  • Rainer Sabin of The Dallas Morning News looks at how Garrett and the Cowboys front office have constructed the team’s current roster. Instead of rebuilding the team from scratch, Garrett has done a nice job of bringing in young pieces while keeping the team competitive.
  • ESPN.com’s Todd Archer believes a deal will eventually get done between the Cowboys and Dez Bryant. However, the writer believes the franchise tag is the most likely option at this point.
  • There is an “ominous feeling” in the Eagles organization that rookie linebacker Marcus Smith will not develop into an impact player, writes Jeff McLane of Philly.com. The first-rounder hasn’t seen the field much this season, but the Eagles are not panicking and refuse to rush their young player.
  • ESPN.com’s John Keim thinks Washington could give Robert Griffin III another offseason with coach Jay Gruden before ultimately make a decision on their quarterback.

AFC Mailbags: Colts, Jags, Bengals, Jets

We took a look at ESPN’s NFC mailbags earlier this morning. Let’s now check out some notes from the AFC…

  • If Mike Wells were a member of the Colts front office, he wouldn’t sign Ray Rice to a contract. The writer notes that the running back must be out of shape, and he also notes the difficulties in learning a new scheme.
  • Michael DiRocco believes the Jaguars biggest offseason needs will be a pass-rusher and a linebacker. As a result, the writer targets Nebraska’s Randy Gregory and Missouri’s Shane Ray.
  • Switching to the offense, DiRocco could see the Jaguars drafting a running back late in the draft. Regardless, he doesn’t think the team should part ways with Toby Gerhart, especially since Denard Robinson hasn’t proven he can be a featured back.
  • A.J. McCarron is clearly the Bengals backup plan at quarterback, so he won’t be traded or released any time soon, writes Coley Harvey.
  • If the Jets move on from Rex Ryan, the Jets owe it to their fans to pursue 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, opines Rich Cimini.
  • Meanwhile, Cimini doesn’t believe the Jets will pursue Darrelle Revis this offseason (if the cornerback becomes a free agent). The writer believes a Revis-Rex Ryan reunion is inevitable, but not in New York.

Free Agent Notes: Mesko, Whitlock

There are still plenty of former NFL players seeking a job for this season. Let’s check out what some of these free agents are up to…

  • The Lions brought in former Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko for a workout on Friday, tweets Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. The 28-year-old split last season between the Steelers and Bengals.
  • Fullback Nikita Whitlock has been suspended by the NFL for four games, tweets Wilson. The former Wake Forest standout spent last season with the Bengals.

NFC Mailbags: Colston, Forte, Peterson

It’s Saturday, and that means ESPN’s NFL writers are opening up their mailbags and answering questions. Let’s check out some of the notable whispers from the NFC…