With playoff seeds potentially set to be finalized across the NFC this weekend, let’s look at some news coming out of some of the conference’s locales.
- The Packers‘ decision to sign rookie long snapper Rick Lovato instead of a veteran special teams presence surprised some coaches, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. “I want a veteran,” an NFC special teams coach told McGinn. “Try a rookie in camp, not on a playoff run.” Another coach called Lovato’s game tape “terrible” but saw marketed improvement at his pro day this past spring, and the rookie agreed with that assessment. Two AFC special teams coaches didn’t rank Lovato among their top four draft-eligible snappers, McGinn writes.
- Mason Crosby could command a deal that pays him $4MM per year and guarantees him $8MM this offseason, Tom Silverstein of the Journal-Sentinel writes. The Packers’ patience with Crosby after a 2012 season where he missed 12 field goals has paid off, with the ninth-year kicker missing just 14 over the past three seasons. “Obviously, I want to be a Packer. I love playing here. This is all I know. It’s home to me,” Crosby told media, including Silverstein. “It’s a special place. I would love nothing more than to just continue my career here.”Stephen Gostkowski is the only kicker who makes more than $4MM per year. Justin Tucker and Adam Vinatieri are a couple of the notable kickers that comprise the upcoming free agent class.
- Marques Colston, Jahri Evans and Zach Strief could be part of the next batch of Saints veterans cut for salary cap relief, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com writes. The Saints are again in cap turmoil, residing $4MM+ over the 2016 cap presently. Set to play on an $8.2MM cap number, and $7.1MM worth of dead money, Evans has the best chance of sticking around, Duncan notes, due to a potential release of the perennially durable guard netting the team barely $1MM in cap savings. Cutting Colston, who’s been usurped by Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead, would save $3.2MM. A Strief release, however, would save the Saints just $1.3MM.
- Embattled Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff‘s penchant for allowing his coaches significant input in key personnel decisions has led to some slip-ups in recent years, Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Mike Smith preferred the Falcons select Ra’Shede Hageman in the second round last year, and then-defensive coordinator Mike Nolan convinced the GM to build a 3-4 defensive front around Paul Soliai and first-round bust Tyson Jackson a year earlier, Schultz writes.