Packers’ Jimmy Graham Expected To Continue Playing

It sounds like Jimmy Graham will suit up in 2020. On Friday, Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said it’s his understanding that the tight end wants to play next year (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky). 

Graham is under contract with the Packers in 2020 at a $11.6MM cap figure, the final season of his three-year deal. In theory, the Packers could save $8MM by releasing the veteran, with $3.6MM in dead money.

The 33-year-old played in all 16 games in 2019 – marking his fourth straight season with perfect attendance in the regular season – plus the Packers two-game postseason. Graham no longer features as a dominant red zone threat, but he was still productive last year with 38 grabs for 447 yards and three touchdowns. In the Packers’ pair of playoff contests, he caught seven passes for 108 yards, including a (controversial) game-sealing first down against his old friends in Seattle.

In ten seasons with the Saints, Seahawks, and Packers, Graham has earned five Pro Bowl trips, plus a First-Team All-Pro nod in 2013, when he tallied a league-leading 16 touchdown receptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys’ Amari Cooper On His Future

In 2019, Amari Cooper built off of his strong half-season in Dallas to turn his best full campaign yet. Cooper reeled in 79 catches en route to career-high marks in receiving yards (1,189) and touchdowns (8) and solidified himself as one of the game’s best wide receivers.

[RELATED: Cowboys Hire George Edwards]

Meanwhile, the Cowboys sagged on the whole – they went 8-8, missed the playoffs, and fired longtime head coach Jason Garrett after Week 17.

Despite his individual accomplishments, Cooper admits the team’s disheartening Week 16 loss to the Eagles sticks in his mind.

That game was so important because it decided whether or not we’d go to the playoffs,” Cooper told Nick Shook of NFL.com. “Obviously, if you go to the playoffs you have an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. We had our fate in our own hands and we blew it, so then we had to rely on other stuff to happen for us to get into the playoffs. You never want to put yourself in that position where you don’t control your own destiny.”

Now, the focus shifts to Cooper’s destiny. The former first round pick is scheduled to reach free agency in March and projects to be one of the most in-demand players on the open market. Still, he tells NFL.com’s Jane Slater (on Twitter) that he wants to be in Dallas for a long time.

Here’s a look at Cooper’s thoughts as the big date nears:

On the importance of money vs. other factors:

I don’t think it’s all about money… If you’re a highly touted free agent, you’re going to get paid a lot of money no matter where you go. Is it worth it to go somewhere that you probably don’t want to go as far as, you might be a guy like me who’s from South Florida who’s never played a game in the snow?

Is it worth a million dollars more a year or two million dollars more a year, especially if you’re taking care of your money investment-wise, is it worth that two being in an environment that you don’t want to be in? Or would you like to stay somewhere in the south? It’s not all about money.”

On the importance of playing with a top-level quarterback:

His success is part of how good I’m doing and my success is part of how good he’s doing. So I definitely, if I had to test the market I’d definitely be evaluating quarterbacks and stuff like that to see if I want to play with them or not.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Hire George Edwards

Former Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards has agreed to join the Cowboys’ coaching staff, as Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram tweets. Edwards will work with the Cowboys’ linebackers, but Hill hears that his role will encompass more than that. 

[RELATED: Cowboys Were Close To Extension With Dak Prescott]

Although head coach Mike Zimmer retained his job as the Vikings head coach, the early offseason saw a significant overhaul of his coaching staff. After offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski left to take on the Browns’ HC position, the Vikings parted ways with Edwards, who had served as their defensive coordinator since 2014.

Edwards, 52, has been in the NFL in some capacity for every season since 1998. He was Washington’s defensive coordinator in 2003, and Buffalo’s from 2010-11. He’s also served as a positional coach with a handful of different stops.

In Dallas, he’ll work under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Given his experience, it seems likely that Edwards will have a higher title attached to his linebackers coach mantle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown has been granted bail by a Broward County judge following his arrest for burglary with battery. Brown’s bond was set at $100K for this particular charge and he also faced two other charges related to an incident at his residence earlier this week. 

[RELATED: Antonio Brown Surrenders To Police]

A moving truck driver accused Brown and trainer Glen Holt of striking him after they refused to pay for his services. Holt was also arrested on one count of burglary with battery. When police arrived at his home, Brown refused to speak with them and locked himself inside.

The judge also ordered Brown to undergo a mental health evaluation, once he’s released from custody. Those close to Brown have been concerned about his mental state over the past year, including longtime agent Drew Rosenhaus, who says that he will not work with Brown again unless he gets help.

Brown is on the commissioner’s exempt list while the NFL continues its investigation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Antonio Brown Surrenders To Police

Jan. 23rd: TMZ Sports reports that Brown surrendered to police on Thursday night. The embattled wideout turned himself into Broward County Jail after an arrest warrant was issued on Wednesday.

Jan. 22nd: Another day, another Antonio Brown story. Following a confrontation at his home on Tuesday, the Hollywood, Florida Police Department issued an arrest warrant for the star wideout this evening (via Andy Slater of Fox Sports 640 on Twitter). The active warrant is for burglary with battery.

We learned yesterday that Florida police were investigating Brown for possible battery at his home. A moving truck driver accused Brown and trainer Glen Holt of battery, with Holt later getting arrested on one count of burglary with battery. Brown refused to speak with police officers, locking himself inside his home.

Brown has been out of the NFL since being dropped by the Patriots midway through the 2019 season, but he hasn’t been absent from the news cycle. Most recently, Brown broadcasted a profanity-laced argument with police officers and the mother of one of his children. Soon after, longtime agent and ally Drew Rosenhaus dropped him and said that he would only resume the relationship if Brown made wholesale changes to his life.

Amid the most recent fiascos, consistent (and bizarre) social media rants, and multiple accusations of sexual assault, Brown has sat in indefinite limbo by the league office. We heard yesterday that the NFL was monitoring this most-recent situation, and the inevitable arrest will be included in the league’s ongoing investigation of the former All-Pro wide receiver.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Slater, AB, Suggs

We’ve seemingly heard the same sentiment for several years now, but it’s worth passing along once again: Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater has no intention of retiring and hopes to stick with New England.

“I definitely feel like my family and I thought about it a lot,” Slater said The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. “I still love to play and want to continue to play. I guess as of now, I want to keep playing. We just have to see how things go from here. There are a lot of things up in the air that I don’t know, but I’m going to approach it as though I’m preparing to play next year. We’ll kind of go from there. That’s where we’re at.”

The 2008 fifth-rounder has spent his entire career with the Patriots, earning three Super Bowl rings. The 34-year-old earned his eighth-career Pro Bowl nod this season.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the league…

  • An arrest warrant was issued for Antonio Brown following an altercation with a truck driver, and TMZ has passed along some soundbites from the 911 call (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “The guy is high, he smoked, he threatened me,” the driver said. “He’s trying to fight, he throws stones at my truck.” Brown’s trainer, Glen Holt, was arrested following the incident.
  • After getting waived by the Cardinals, veteran Terrell Suggs was hoping he’d land back in Baltimore. Instead, he was claimed by the Chiefs, and it didn’t take long for the veteran to buy into his new team. “It didn’t take much convincing,” Suggs told Dave Skretta of the Associated Press. “This team is pretty vet-savvy. Having been in this position a few times, you learn more from failure than you ever would from success. I think that the things that have happened in years past kind of prepared this team for the task that it took. It also doesn’t hurt to have the reigning MVP, and definitely the best tight end in the game, on your team. Once they got rolling and clicking on all cylinders, we got to have fun out there.”
  • Remember when we heard that former star receiver Chad Johnson was going to audition for the XFL as a kicker. Well, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert writes that the 42-year-old didn’t participate in his scheduled audition on Monday. Meanwhile, league commish Oliver Luck told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle that Johnson was a “no-show” (Twitter link). As Seifert notes, one former kicker did land a XFL gig, as former Saints special teamer Garrett Hartley earned a job following the Monday tryout.

Broncos Notes: Shula, Bolles, Harris

Mike Shula met with Broncos head coach Vic Fangio about the team’s QB coach vacancy, reports Troy Renck of Denver7 (via Twitter). While the two sides didn’t agree to deal, the meeting went well and Shula is considered the favorite for the gig.

Shula was the Giants’ OC for the last two years under Pat Shurmur, and he interviewed to keep his gig on Joe Judge’s new staff. Shula helped in the development of quarterback Daniel Jones, who showed promise at times in 2019. On the other hand, the Giants offense struggled as a whole during Shula’s tenure, as the club went 9-23 over the last two seasons.

Former Broncos QBs coach Rich Scangarello was fired on January 10. The Broncos are looking to reinvent their offense under new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.

Let’s check out some more news out of Denver…

  • Nose tackle Shelby Harris has hired Drew Rosenhaus for representation, the agent announced on Twitter. Following a career year, the 28-year-old is set to hit free agency this offseason. Harris set career-highs across the board this season, finishing with 49 tackles and six sacks in 16 games (16 starts). The former seventh-rounder was slapped with a second-round restricted free agent tender last offseason.
  • The Broncos are going to be busy this offseason, but it sounds like the organization will be patient when it comes to left tackle Garett Bolles. General manager John Elway said the team will take its time as they determine whether they should pick up the former first-rounder’s fifth-year option. “We’ll wait,” Elway said (via the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran on Twitter). “There’s no sense doing it early. We’re not going to do it until May. We’ll see when we get there where we are.” As Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com points out, Bolles has been flagged 32 times for holding throughout his career, but the organization has also been fond of his durability.
  • We learned yesterday that the Broncos had moved on from “salary cap guru/contract negotiator” Mike Sullivan.

Latest On Falcons TE Austin Hooper

Following the best statistical season of his career, Falcons tight end Austin Hooper is set to hit free agency. However, the Pro Bowler told 92.9 The Game in Atlanta that the front office hasn’t approached him about a new contract (Twitter link).

“I mean my whole attitude is that it will happen the way its supposed to,” Hooper said. “I did my part, ended up here at the Pro Bowl, so if the organization wants me, they’ll offer me [a contract].

“I still haven’t received an offer from them. If and when they’re ready…I’ll let my representation and the representation of the Falcons handle it. But as of now, I’m just enjoying what could be my last game as a Falcon down here at the Pro Bowl.”

General manager Thomas Dimitroff recently echoed those sentiments.

“The reality of right now is we are trudging along,” Dimitroff said (via the team’s website). “After the Super Bowl week, we’ll continue to see how we’re moving forward. At this point, there’s no updates on Austin.”

We heard earlier this week that the organization wouldn’t be slapping Hooper with the franchise tag, which is projected to be north of $10MM. After handing out a number of lucrative extensions last offseason, the Falcons are projected to have only $6.7MM in cap space this year. If they want to retain Hooper, they’ll have to keep creative with their cap machinations.

Despite appearing in a career-low 13 games, Hooper finished with career-highs in receptions (75), receiving yards (787), and touchdowns (six).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals To Consider Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Chase Young

While favored to take Ohio native Joe Burrow at No. 1 overall, the Bengals are considering three other players for the top pick. The LSU standout is, of course, among this group. But the team is also studying Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Chase Young for the pick, Albert Breer of SI.com reports.

The Bengals have stepped back from a report indicating they will not trade the No. 1 pick, but Breer notes the team is not expected to move down. Bengals brass praised the Heisman winner recently, and while it would be a borderline shock if they did not draft Burrow, the team plans to conduct on-campus visits and bring in each player for pre-draft workouts. Burrow, however, is still believed to be the frontrunner, per Breer.

Young is regarded by some as the best pass-rushing prospect available in years, and both Tagovailoa and Herbert entered the 2019 season with much higher profiles than Burrow. Young remains a strong bet to go to the Redskins at No. 2, and if the Bengals do draft Burrow, there could be some jockeying for position at the Nos. 3-4 slots (held by the Lions and Giants) for Tagovailoa and Herbert.

After throwing 16 touchdown passes in 13 games as a junior, Burrow tossed a record-setting 60 in the Tigers’ national championship season. Zac Taylor asked Burrow’s father, Jimmy — who, like Taylor, played at Nebraska — to see if Joe would go to the Senior Bowl, Breer adds. But Joe Burrow declined to attend the Mobile, Ala., showcase.

It is interesting as well to see a pecking order emerge before the Combine, though the Bengals’ top need is not exactly a secret. As such, Young may be trailing the three passers.

We know what Joe is on tape; we know what Tua is on tape; we know what Justin is on tape,” Bengals player personnel director Duke Tobin said, via Breer. “Our role right now is to try to find out what we don’t know — how his leadership works, how his football mind works, how quickly he adapts to different situations, what his overall personality is, what it’s like being around him on a regular Tuesday. How much passion do they have for the game? … We’re trying to get at those types of things, with every player we do, but particularly the quarterbacks.

“… I feel like I’ve got a long way to go, because I’m just now starting the process of asking people close to them what they think of them.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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