Green Bay Packers

No Movement In Randall Cobb Contract Talks

Back in July, when training camp first got underway, Packers receiver Randall Cobb addressed the subject of a possible contract extension, telling reporters that he didn’t believe he’d done enough to warrant a long-term deal yet. Nearly five months later, Cobb and Packers don’t appear to be any closer to an agreement, with the wideout indicating today that little to no progress had been made, writes Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

“There’s no contract talks that have been going on right now, so I guess not,” Cobb said, referring to the fact that perhaps he still hasn’t done enough to warrant a significant offer. “I guess there’s still more to do. So, just continue to put my nose down every day and focus on getting the team into the playoffs and doing everything I can to bring back the Super Bowl.”

Although Cobb admits that he can’t help but think about his contract situation, he certainly hasn’t let it adversely affect his play on the field. The 24-year-old has racked up a career-high 1,076 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on 76 receptions, and – most importantly – he and MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers have both stayed on the field all year, unlike in 2013, when both players were sidelined for a good portion of the season with injuries.

The Packers and Cobb are still viewed as likely to work something out, but there’s no guarantee that it will happen soon. A year ago, the team went down to the wire with cornerback Sam Shields, reaching a long-term deal with the free-agent-to-be just days before he was eligible to hit the open market.

For Cobb, the years and dollars in any Packers’ offer will be interesting to monitor — the former second-round pick is already putting up No. 1 receiver type numbers and is young enough that he could continue to improve, but his lofty stats are inflated somewhat by the man throwing Cobb the ball. Additionally, Green Bay will likely want to ensure Cobb isn’t getting paid more than the team’s actual No. 1 receiver, Jordy Nelson, who has topped Cobb’s 2014 totals in receptions (83), yards (1,320), and TDs (12) and signed a four-year, $39MM pact earlier this year.

The Nelson/Cobb pairing is somewhat reminiscent of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in 2013 in Denver, and a deal similar to the one Decker signed in free agency (five years, $35MM) might make sense for the Packers’ No. 2 receiver. Our Dallas Robinson took a more detailed look at Cobb’s extension candidacy back in October.

Practice Squad Updates: Wednesday

A number of practice squad players have received promotions to their respective clubs’ 53-man rosters this week, or have been signed by a rival club. As such, we should expect plenty of signings today, as teams fill in their openings. Here’s the latest:

  • After his suspension was lifted by the league, fullback Nikita Whitlock signed on with the Giants‘ practice squad, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (via Twitter).
  • Chargers taxi squad guard Craig Watts has been suspended four games for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances, according to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego (via Twitter). To replace him, the Bolts signed former San Diego State offensive lineman Bryce Quigley (link).
  • Wide receiver and kick returner Greg Jenkins, who spent last season with the Raiders, has returned to the club, signing today with the taxi squad, per Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com (Twitter link). The team has since confirmed the signing, tweeting that defensive back Vernon Kearney has joined the practice squad as well.
  • The Saints have filled the final opening on their practice squad by signing kicker Dustin Hopkins, head coach Sean Payton confirmed today to reporters (Twitter link via Chad Sabadie of FOX8).

Earlier updates:

  • The Vikings have signed rookie guard Jordan McCray to their practice squad to fill the spot vacated when Ahmad Dixon received a promotion, tweets Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota will have another spot to fill after losing cornerback Chris Greenwood to the Ravens.
  • In addition to making changes to their 53-man roster today, the Patriots also tweaked their practice squad, adding quarterback Garrett Gilbert, according to a team release.
  • The Packers have filled out their practice squad by signing safety Jean Fanor to the unit, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Fanor played for the Arena League’s Tampa Bay Storm this year, setting a team record for tackles in a season.
  • Former sixth-round guard Jon Halapio has signed with the Broncos‘ practice squad, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (via Twitter).
  • Having entered the day with three openings on their practice squad, the Dolphins added a pair of players to the unit, signing defensive end Emmanuel Dieke and guard Mark Asper, according to Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (via Twitter).
  • The Falcons have filled the 10th and final spot on their practice squad by signing cornerback Jordan Mabin, the team announced today in a press release. The opening was created earlier in the week when the club promoted cornerback Ricardo Allen to the 53-man roster.
  • The Steelers have also filled out their taxi squad, signing former South Carolina offensive lineman Ronald Patrick, tweets Burt Lauten, the team’s PR rep.
  • Defensive back Varmah Sonie, who played this year for Portland’s Arena League team, has signed to the Buccaneers‘ practice squad, per Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com (Twitter link).
  • The Panthers have signed linebacker Horace Miller to their practice squad, giving them a full 10-man unit, tweets David Newton of ESPN.com. Miller was cut by Carolina over the weekend and has since cleared waivers.
  • Offensive tackle Tyler Hoover, who started the season with a brief stint on the Colts‘ practice squad and has since spent time with the Eagles as well, has rejoined Indianapolis’ squad, according to Mike Chappell of RTV6 (Twitter link).

Extra Points: Draft, Rolle, Cobb, McCoy

We’re still about four and a half months away from the 2015 NFL draft, and a week and a half from even knowing what the draft order will look like, but that didn’t stop ESPN’s Todd McShay (Insider link) from publishing his first mock draft of the season today. McShay’s first ’15 mock has the top two quarterback prospects coming off the board first, with the Buccaneers selecting Marcus Mariota at No. 1 and the Titans nabbing Jameis Winston at No. 2. The Jets, meanwhile, picking sixth overall, land standout Alabama receiver Amari Cooper in McShay’s scenario, but would still need to find a quarterback to get him the ball.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Calling the Giants a “great fit” for him, safety Antrel Rolle indicated today that he’s hoping for a three-year offer from the team this offseason as he approaches free agency, writes ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano. According to Graziano, Rolle believes that if he doesn’t receive such an offer from the Giants, he could get it from another team.
  • In his weekly ESPN Milwaukee radio show, Aaron Rodgers suggested it’s “important” that the Packers lock up wide receiver – and prospective free agent – Randall Cobb (link via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com).
  • The Fritz Pollard Alliance has identified nine minority coaching candidates for NFL teams to consider this offseason, including Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has the details.
  • Washington quarterback Colt McCoy says he wants to return to the team next season, but he’ll almost certainly be seeking a raise, writes Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com. Tandler expects Washington to be McCoy’s first choice, but points out that he likely won’t give a “hometown discount” to a team he has only been with for a year.
  • The NFL has lifted the suspension of free agent fullback Nikita Whitlock, who received a four-game ban from the league last month, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

Audition Notes: Tuesday

Wide receiver Luke Tasker, the son former Bills receiver Steve Tasker, worked out for the Packers, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (via Twitter). The younger Tasker, also a wide receiver, currently plays for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. We’ll keep track of today’s workouts and visits here..

Minor Moves: Saturday

Here are Saturday’s minor moves, with the most recent transactions added to the top of the list:

  • The Packers have placed backup linebacker Jamari Lattimore on the injured reserve, tweets Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo. The team will promote safety Chris Banjo from the practice squad to take the open roster space (also via Garafolo).
  • The Dolphins have promoted defensive back T.J. Heath, tweets Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. The former Jacksonville State standout previously spent time with the Jaguars, Bengals, Bills and Browns.
  • The Seahawks have released cornerback Kennard Cox from their practice squad, tweets The Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta. Taking his place will be linebacker Allen Bradford, who was cut from the team’s active roster earlier this week.

Earlier updates:

NFC Mailbags: Garrett, Panthers, Prater

It’s Saturday morning, and ESPN.com’s NFL writers are opening their mailbags and answering questions from readers. Let’s take a look at some of the interesting notes from the NFC…

  • The Cowboys have been one of the surprise teams in the NFL this season, and head coach Jason Garrett has gone from all but fired to a legitimate Coach of the Year candidate. Todd Archer believes he has done enough this season to keep his job even if they miss the playoffs, but notes that nothing is set in stone with three games to go.
  • If the Panthers do not comeback to win the division, they will likely be staring at a very high draft pick this offseason, and David Newton believes that offensive tackle would be a top priority. However, if Alabama’s Amari Cooper falls to them, the team would have to consider taking him and putting him opposite Kelvin Benjamin to make a scary young pair of wideouts.
  • Ben Goessling looks at what positions the Vikings will target in the 2015 NFL Draft, and believes the team could focus on defense. He writes that they could benefit from an inside linebacker to play alongside Anthony Barr and Gerald Hodges, or a versatile safety to pair with Harrison Smith. They could also look for another cornerback, or even a running back or offensive lineman.
  • Washington has a number of problems in addition to their volatile quarterback situation, and John Keim believes the team will come into 2015 with two new starting safeties. He writes they should try to find a veteran free agent and also draft a safety capable of coming in and playing.
  • While the main focus of the Packers‘ mailbag is the chances of a rematch of their week one loss to the Seahawks, this time at Lambeau Field, Rob Demovsky also takes time to explain why the team is consistently signing players to the active roster but not activating for gameday. He notes that most of these signings go hand in hand with key players who are questionable with injuries.
  • The Lions have a number of decisions to make this offseason, but whether or not to re-sign Matt Prater will be one of the smaller yet no less significant choices. Mike Rothstein believes the team should try to keep Prater on a long-term deal.

North Notes: Hawk, Packers, Leonard

Ravens safety Will Hill has the talent and he’s determined to stay out of trouble so that it can shine through, writes Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. “My living habits, I don’t go out on the town much,” Hill said. “I sit in the house with my family. I used to be a nightclub guy, especially coming out of college. I’ve just been watching a lot of movies. I’m a homebody. I took a long look in the mirror and decided to change a lot of things.” More from the AFC and NFC North..

  • Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com wonders if we’re seeing the end of A.J. Hawk in a Packers uniform. The 30-year-old has spent his entire career with Green Bay ever since being drafted fifth overall in 2006, but he has seen his role diminish as of late. Hawk, who is owed $3.5MM in salary and bonuses in 2015, says he doesn’t plan on hanging ‘em up after this year.
  • Echoing comments he made back at the start of training camp, Browns safety Jim Leonhard said today that he continues to plan to retire from the NFL at season’s end, tweets Michael Beaven of the Akron Beacon Journal. “It’s time,” Leonhard said. “For me, I’ve made the decision. It’s more of mentally being ready to move on rather than the physical side” (Twitter link).
  • The Ravens tried out wide receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu and running backs William Powell and Derrick Strozier, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (via Twitter).

Minor Moves: Monday

Here are Monday’s minor transactions, including practice squad signings and cuts, from around the NFL:

  • As Cowboys defensive back Tyler Patmon continues to improve from a sprained knee, the team has parted ways with another cornerback. Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com writes that the Cowboys have waived Micah Pellerin. The 26-year-old has appeared in three games this season with Dallas.
  • The Chargers placed offensive lineman Ryan Miller on their reserve/non-football injury list last week, but the team changed course today. Miller was moved to the injured reserve list and subsequently waived with an injury settlement, tweets Howard Balzer.
  • Less than a week after he joined the Dolphins practice squad, linebacker Jake Knott has been promoted to the team’s active roster, the 24-year-old announced on Twitter. Knott previously spent time with the Eagles, where he made 12 appearances last season.
  • Even though running back Marcus Lattimore announced his retirement last month, the 49ers continued to keep him on their non-football-injury list. That ended today, as Aaron Wilson tweets that the team has cut the former fourth-rounder.
  • The Broncos have signed returner Isaiah Burse to their practice squad, tweets Mike Klis of the Denver Post. To make room, Denver waived guard Mark Asper. Burse, who has returned 29 of the team’s 30 punt returns this season, was waived on Saturday to make room for kicker Brandon McManus.

Earlier updates:

  • After being cut last week by the Panthers, veteran linebacker Jason Williams has a new home, catching on with another NFC South team. The Buccaneers announced that they’ve signed Williams, placing fellow linebacker Brandon Magee on injured reserve in order to accommodate the new signing.
  • The Packers have signed defensive tackle Bruce Gaston from off the Cardinals‘ practice squad, the team announced today in a press release. To make room for Gaston, the club placed rookie defensive tackle Luther Robinson, who sustained a calf injury, on the injured reserve list.
  • The Chargers have parted ways with a pair of players, releasing center Jeff Baca from their 53-man roster and cutting cornerback Kendall James from their practice squad, tweets Eric Williams of ESPN.com.
  • Having lost wide receiver Deonte Thompson off their practice squad to the Bills earlier today, the Ravens filled the opening by re-signing tight end Allen Reisner to the unit, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).
  • Wideout Rashad Ross has signed to Washington‘s taxi squad, the club announced today (Twitter link).

Sunday Roundup: Big Ben, Cobb, 49ers

The Steelers plan to begin contract talks with Ben Roethlisberger, who is under contract through 2015, after this season, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Pittsburgh realizes that Roethlisberger, despite his age and the number of hits he has taken over the course of his career, will command at least $20MM a year, but that will not prevent the club from making its two-time Super Bowl champion its top offseason priority.

La Canfora adds that he would not be surprised if the Steelers and Roethlisberger were able to work out an extension prior to the beginning of the free agency period in March, which would allow them to know exactly how much cap flexibility they would have to acquire players from other organizations and to retain their own free agents. Last season’s rumors that Roethlisberger once considered asking for a trade were apparently untrue, La Canfora writes, and now all interested parties agree that a third contract with the team is inevitable.

Now for some more links from around the league as Week 14 kicks off in full force:

  • ESPN’s Adam Caplan tweets that the Steelers will have an important decision to make regarding cornerback Cortez Allen this offseason, as Allen is owed a $3MM roster bonus on the fifth day of free agency.
  • Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that Randall Cobb is the Packers‘ top free agent priority and that the team is working to work out a long-term extension with him.
  • Although a possible 49ers trade of head coach Jim Harbaugh following the 2014 season has been widely discussed, the machinations of such a deal are a little less clear. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, Harbaugh would pick his new team, the 49ers would agree to trade terms with that team, the 49ers would release Harbaugh from his contract, and Harbaugh would sign a new deal with the other club.
  • Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com writes that Vernon Davis‘ disappointing 2014 season has created a great deal of uncertainty for the 49ers moving forward, as Davis is owed just shy of $5MM in 2015, the last year of his current contract.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that highly-coveted CFL prospect Duron Carter will hold a Pro Day in Florida in early January and then will begin visiting teams. Almost half of the league has expressed some form of interest in Carter to date.
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Mike Singletary could be a surprise head coaching candidate in 2015. According to Rapoport, several “high-ranking people” believe Singletary will get another crack at the top job next season.

Poll: Which NFC Contender Will Miss Playoffs?

Six teams in the NFC so far this season have won at least two-thirds of their games, and head into Week 14 with records of 8-4 or better. Besides the 7-5 Niners, every other team in the conference is 5-7 or worse, suggesting that the difference between the eventual playoff teams and the rest of the NFC has been fairly well established.

However, the postseason qualifiers won’t be quite so cut-and-dried, since the dismal NFC South must send at least one of its current sub-.500 teams to the playoffs. That means that when the regular season ends, one of those top six teams in the conference will be left on the outside looking in.

Even outside of the South, where the Falcons and Saints are tied at 5-7, division races across the board remain too close to call — the 9-3 Eagles are edging the 9-4 Cowboys, the 9-3 Packers are a game ahead of the 8-4 Lions, and the 9-3 Cardinals are in danger of losing their division lead to the surging 8-4 Seahawks. With Eagles/Seahawks, Eagles/Cowboys, Seahawks/Cardinals, and Packers/Lions contests still on the schedule, the last few weeks of the season will be very interesting. Five non-South playoff spots are up for grabs and six legit contenders are in the mix (seven, if you count the 49ers).

What do you think? Will the Cowboys have their usual December swoon and miss out on a postseason berth? Will the Cardinals’ losing streak continue? Will the Lions, despite upcoming home games against the Bucs and Vikings, be the team that misses out? Or will one of the other clubs currently occupying a playoff spot drop out? Cast your vote below, and feel free to weigh in with your comments as well.