Lamar Jackson Suffers Knee Injury

The Ravens earned a last-minute, come-from-behind victory over the Broncos Sunday afternoon, but the main talking point in the aftermath of the game is the health of their starting quarterback. Lamar Jackson exited the contest after taking a hit in the first quarter, and did not return.

Jackson’s absence was caused by a knee injury, and it remains unclear at this point how much time he will miss as a result of it. When speaking to reporters after the game, head coach John Harbaugh said that Jackson’s recovery timeline would be a matter of “days or weeks,” meaning that it is not expected to be season-ending. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that the 25-year-old is believed to have suffered a knee sprain.

While more will be known in the coming days after further tests, an absence of any length would of course be massive for Baltimore. Jackson has remained the focal point of the Ravens’ offense in 2022, a season in which top wideout Rashod Bateman has suffered a season-ending foot injury, All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley has been limited to six games with lingering ankle issues, and the team has had a resultant inability to find a rhythm in the passing game. On the ground, the two-time Pro Bowler has paced the team with 755 rushing yards entering Week 13 – 363 more than the next-leading rusher.

From a financial standpoint, this injury could loom large. Jackson is scheduled to hit free agency at the end of the year, after he and the Ravens could not reach an agreement on a long-term deal. A franchise tag is widely expected to be used if the same holds true in the coming months, but a lengthy absence – coupled with the Louisville alum’s inconsistent performances this year – could hurt Jackson’s leverage in future negotiations.

In Jackson’s absence, the Ravens turned to backup Tyler Huntley under center. The former UDFA made four starts to close out the 2021 campaign, after Jackson was sidelined by an ankle injury. He went 1-3 in that span, putting up middling passing numbers along the way. His rushing ability (6.3 yards per carry, two touchdowns), however, demonstrated his likeness to Jackson from a skillset perspective, something which could ease another transition to him as the starter if that proves necessary.

With the 10-9 win, the Ravens moved to 8-4 on the season and will retain their lead in the AFC North for at least one more week. Their prospects moving forward, however, could take a substantial hit depending on developments in the coming days.

Packers, Aaron Rodgers To Discuss Potential 2022 Shutdown

Aaron Rodgers has spent much of the 2022 season at less than full health owing to a broken thumb, and, more recently, a rib injury. That, coupled with the Packers’ slim playoff chances, has led to questions about how much longer he will be on the field in 2022.

The recently-turned 39-year-old was in the lineup today against the Bears, staying in line with his and Green Bay’s plans for the immediate future. Today’s contest served as a means to evaluate Rodgers’ status from a pain management standpoint, especially with the team’s bye looming in Week 14. Even in the likely event the Packers find themselves mathematically eliminated from the playoffs soon, though, Rodgers may still operate as the starter.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport writes that no decision has been made yet with respect to when (if at all) Rodgers will be shut down for the rest of the campaign. He adds that Rodgers will have a large say in upcoming discussions on the matter, with the possibility of turning the offense over to Jordan Love looming. The 2020 first-rounder has hardly seen the field in the NFL, and his Packers future has been the subject of plenty of speculation given Rodgers’ extension signed this summer.

That deal has since been understood as essentially a year-to-year accord, though, leaving the reigning MVP’s future in the air as well. Rapoport adds that if Rodgers is physically able to continue playing, it is “a good bet” he remains as the No. 1. Rodgers himself has admitted that things could change in the near future, however.

“I’d love to finish the season out,” he said recently on the subject of a potential QB swap, “but I understand this is a business and there’s a lot of us kind of older guys who play a decent amount, and they might want to see some younger guys play. Hopefully we don’t have to have that conversation, but if that conversation comes up, I’ll approach it with an open mind without any bitterness or resentment.”

Rodgers threw for 182 yards and one touchdown during a 28-19 win over Chicago, bringing the Packers’ record to 5-8. That may delay talk of a quarterback change temporarily, but, especially depending on his ability to heal over the course of the bye week, Rodgers’ remaining time this season could be limited.

Ja’Marr Chase To Play In Week 13

DECEMBER 4: The Bengals announced that Chase is indeed active, as expected, which will give the Bengals both members of their 1-2 receiving duo once again. Mixon, however, will be inactive for the second consecutive game.

DECEMBER 2: Chase is on track to make his return against the Chiefs, Taylor said Friday. Mixon, however, remains in concussion protocol. The Bengals are not ruling out their well-paid running back, but he is running out of time to make a return in this key intraconference game.

NOVEMBER 30: Although Week 12 loomed as Ja’Marr Chase‘s comeback window, the second-year Bengals receiver indicated pregame discomfort. Chase said (via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe, on Twitter) he asked Zac Taylor for one more week to move to 100%.

The Bengals, naturally, obliged and beat the Titans without Chase or Joe Mixon. They will face the AFC-leading Chiefs in Week 13. Chase, who fared rather well in the Bengals’ two Chiefs matchups last season, said he suffered a hairline fracture in his hip against the Saints in Week 6. While he played through the issue in Week 7 against the Falcons, the Bengals shut him down soon after.

No hip labrum tear occurred, Chase added (via cleveland.com’s Andrew Gillis and ESPN.com’s Ben Baby; Twitter links), but the fracture happened, confusingly, as he faked being hurt while scoring the first of his two touchdowns against New Orleans. The Offensive Rookie of the Year said he has no pain in his hip presently. Chase detailing his injury to this degree certainly points to a long-awaited return.

The Bengals are 3-1 without their top weapon but rocketed to Super Bowl LVI due to major contributions from last year’s No. 5 overall pick. Chase broke Jerry Butler‘s 42-year-old single-game record for receiving yards by a rookie, compiling 266 in Cincinnati’s Week 17 win over Kansas City last season. He added six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown in the Bengals’ comeback win in the AFC championship game.

This season, Chase sits eighth in the NFL with 86.4 receiving yards per game. Tee Higgins has picked up the slack for Cincinnati recently. The third-year wideout has 16 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns over the past two games. The Bengals are amid a stretch in which they face either a division leader or a team with a winning record in six of their final seven games; having Chase back would certainly help the defending AFC champions’ cause.

AFC Notes: Patrick, Lambo, Bush

One of many injuries the Broncos have had to deal with in 2022 is the ACL tear suffered by linebacker Aaron Patrick during an October Monday Night Football game against the Chargers. That came as a result of a collision between the special teamer and a member of an ESPN TV crew member, and has now led to legal action being taken.

Patrick is suing a long list of individuals and entities which includes the NFL, ESPN, the Rams and Chargers, the owners and operators of SoFi Stadium, and the crew worker he collided with. As detailed by Mike Klis of 9News, the 25-year-old is seeking unlimited civil damages and is aiming for a jury trial. Patrick, a former UDFA, lost between $200K and $400K in 2022 pay according to his attorneys, and some of his 2023 salary ($940K) could be at risk depending on the success of his rehab.

As the filing claims, Patrick’s injury came about due to the location of not only the crew member, but the mats in place to cover TV cables near the sideline. That has resulted in the long list of defendants, though none of them initially commented on the situation, per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

Here are some other AFC notes, including another legal update:

  • The Jaguars endured a disastrous 2021 campaign under head coach Urban Meyer, a short-lived spell which included an alleged kicking incident with then-kicker Josh Lambo. The latter sued the team this past May regarding the work environment in Jacksonville under Meyer, but that suit has been tossed out of court (Twitter link via Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic). As Kaplan notes, though, the judge overseeing the case has given Lambo the opportunity to re-file the suit.
  • Devin Bush was a talking point throughout the offseason for the Steelers, since the team’s decision to decline his fifth-year option puts him in line for free agency in March. That has led to an expectation the former first-round linebacker will depart in 2023, though he has remained a full-time starter this season. An improvement in play this year – during which the Michigan product has totaled 62 tackles and played every defensive snap last week – can be attributed to Pittsburgh’s new LBs coach, Brian Flores, per The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly (subscription required). In spite of that, however, Kaboly still predicts that Bush will receive no more than a cursory contract offer from the Steelers and ultimately head elsewhere during the spring.

Giants S Xavier McKinney Expects To Return This Season

The Giants have been without safety Xavier McKinney for the last three games due to a broken hand that he suffered in an ATV accident during a bye-week vacation. As Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports, McKinney is expected to miss at least several more weeks, but he does plan to return this season.

New York is 7-4 and currently holds the sixth playoff spot in the NFC. However, the club has lost two in a row and takes on the division-rival Commanders — who presently hold the seventh and final postseason spot — two times within the next three weeks. As such, Big Blue’s postseason fortunes could be largely decided before McKinney gets back on the field.

McKinney, 23, was selected in the second round of the 2020 draft, and while a broken foot limited him to just six games in his rookie season, he emerged as a foundational player for the Giants in 2021, when he appeared in all 17 games (16 starts) and notched five interceptions. He also pulled down an excellent 75.4 grade from Pro Football Focus, which was especially bullish on his coverage abilities.

His PFF grade slipped to 56.3 over the first eight games of the current season, though his presence is still missed. A team captain, McKinney is also the defensive signal-caller for a unit that was ranked eighth in the league in scoring defense at the time of his injury and which is now ranked 14th in that regard.

The secondary as a whole has been hit hard by injury. In the Giants’ Thanksgiving Day loss to the Cowboys, they were without starters Adoree’ Jackson, Fabian Moreau, and McKinney, and while Moreau is active for the team today, Jackson is expected to miss several more weeks. As Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets, New York is deploying Nick McCloud and Moreau on the boundaries today, while UDFA rookie Zyon Gilbert — who is making his pro debut — will work as the primary slot corner.

In McKinney’s stead, the Giants first turned to fourth-round rookie Dane Belton for two games before pivoting to Jason Pinnock, a 2021 fifth-round choice of the Jets whom Big Blue claimed off waivers during final cutdowns in August.

NFL Teams Doing Background Work On Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh

University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh last coached in the NFL in 2014, when he served as the 49ers’ HC. Still, his name pops up in NFL coaching rumors every year, with many such rumors indicating that he remains open to a return to the professional ranks. On Sunday, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that multiple NFL clubs are doing background work on Harbaugh with an eye towards including him in their upcoming head coaching search.

Earlier this year, the Vikings interviewed Harbaugh for their head coaching post, which eventually went to Kevin O’Connell. Despite all of the reported interest in luring Harbaugh back to the NFL, that was the first time since he left San Francisco that he actually took a formal interview with a pro team. And, with the Wolverines having secured a 13-0 record in 2022 to go along with a Big Ten conference championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff for the second consecutive year, he appears to be on firm footing in Ann Arbor (which was not necessarily the case just two years ago).

In fact, after his Minnesota interview, the 58-year-old reportedly told Michigan president Warde Manuel he wants to stay at his alma mater as long as it wants him. He signed a new five-year, $36.7MM deal with the school shortly thereafter, a deal that features a number of incentives that he has earned due to the Wolverines’ 2022 success. However, as Rapoport himself reported at the time, the modest buyouts included in the contract will do little to deter NFL teams from trying to poach him.

Of course, there are a number of other factors for teams to consider before making such a splashy hire. While Harbaugh compiled a 44-19-1 record and an NFC Championship during his four years in San Francisco — along with two other appearances in the conference title game — he has a reputation of being difficult to work with. A report several years ago suggested that those within the 49ers organization considered him “toxic and unbearable,” and it is possible that he would want control over personnel decisions. That is to say nothing of his salary, and it is fair to expect that he would shoot for a deal at the top of the head coaching market, which is presently topped by Rams HC Sean McVay‘s $15MM-$18MM annual payouts.

The Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Panthers, Texans, and Saints are among the teams that could have head coaching vacancies in a few weeks, and it’s unclear which, if any, of those teams have been looking into Harbaugh. It’s also unclear if Harbaugh would be interested in any of those opportunities.

Latest On Commanders DE Chase Young

DECEMBER 4: Young is inactive for Sunday’s divisional battle with the Giants, but ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports (via Twitter) that the Commanders plan to have the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year back on the field when they meet up with Big Blue again in Week 15 (after their Week 14 bye).

NOVEMBER 27: Washington’s defensive line will have to wait at least another week to be 100% as defensive end Chase Young‘s 2022 debut has been pushed at least another week, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. This will be the Commanders’ 20th-straight game without the former second-overall pick.

It has taken a full calendar year for Young to work his way back from the ACL tear that ended his sophomore season. He’s been slowly but surely making progress, leading the Commanders to activate him from the physically unable to perform list earlier this week.

This week had reportedly been the first that Young was looking the way they’ve wanted him to post-recovery, according to ESPN’s John Keim. He likely was on track to make his season debut this week, but it appears an illness will hold him out of play for at least one more week. A few other players reportedly caught the bug lately, but the good news is that it wasn’t his physical ability that held him off the field today.

The Commanders pass rush has done perfectly fine without him but adding him back to the starting lineup could give Washington one of the top pass rushing defensive lines in the league. Coming into today’s game, defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne led the team with 6.5 sacks apiece. Defensive end Montez Sweat just trailed them with six of his own.

Young’s second year wasn’t quite as productive as his first, but if he can return to the pass rushing form of his rookie season, when he collected 7.5 sacks, the Washington pass rush will be dangerous. Young also provides production outside of sack totals. He’s extremely disruptive with 13.0 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits in his young NFL career. He’s also a bit of a ball-hawk, knocking down six passes, forcing six fumbles, and recovering three, returning one for a touchdown.

The return of Young if he is 100% will be a huge boost for the Commanders as they continue fighting to keep up with the rest of the NFC East. Unfortunately, he’ll have to wait at least one more week.

49ers, QB Jimmy Garoppolo Open To New Contract

The 49ers have won four straight games to take over first place in the NFC West, and while the defense’s performance is perhaps the biggest reason for the team’s 7-4 mark, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo‘s steady presence has been a key factor as well. While much can change between now and the end of the season, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the Niners and Garoppolo are open to a new contract that would keep the veteran passer in the Bay Area in 2023.

Of course, Garoppolo was the subject of numerous reports throughout the offseason, as San Francisco had every intention of trading him and starting life with Trey Lance under center. Indeed, the 49ers and Commanders reportedly had the parameters of a deal in place in the early part of the year, but a March shoulder surgery forced Washington to back off and completely stagnated Garoppolo’s trade market (a recent report from Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area suggests that GM John Lynch was expecting to receive two first-round picks in a Garoppolo deal, though Maiocco himself concedes that seems unrealistic).

As the months dragged on, it became increasingly likely that Garoppolo would remain with the Niners as Lance insurance, a possibility that became reality in late August, when the two sides agreed to a restructured deal that featured a significant pay cut. Per the terms of that contract, the 49ers cannot put a franchise tag on Garoppolo at season’s end, so he will be eligible for free agency in March 2023 with no strings attached. In a free agent quarterback market that is expected to be comprised of its usual blend of question marks/retreads (Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Teddy Bridgewater) and players that will never actually hit the market (Lamar Jackson), Garoppolo may well be the top QB available (with all due apologies to Tom Brady, who will turn 46 before the 2023 season gets underway).

He will not, therefore, come cheap. Spotrac presently estimates that he is worth roughly $35MM per year, and given his 41-19 record in San Francisco (including playoffs) and generally solid play throughout his career, that does not seem like a stretch. His injury history is concerning, though the premium that teams have to pay for quality QBs should allow him to get that $35MM AAV.

Whether the 49ers will be the team to pay him that money is an entirely different story. We heard last month that the club’s impending cap crunch — OverTheCap.com currently projects the Niners to have just $1MM in effective cap space, based on a projected cap of $225MM — could make a Garoppolo re-up quite difficult, and that would be especially true if the team is only interested in a one-year contract, as Rapoport seems to suggest. Putting aside for a moment whether Garoppolo himself would be amenable to such a pact, it just does not seem likely that San Francisco could absorb a Garoppolo contract without spreading his cap hit over multiple seasons, and a multi-year contract at the rate that Garoppolo will be seeking would double as an admission that the 2021 trade-up for Lance was a total waste of valuable draft capital.

After being reinserted into the lineup to take over for an injured Lance in Week 2, Garoppolo has thrown 16 TDs against just four interceptions while completing over 67% of his passes. That amounts to a QB rating of 103.0, the fifth-best mark in the league.

Ravens OC Greg Roman On Radar For Stanford HC Job

DECEMBER 4: While John Harbaugh classifies the talks between Roman and Stanford as “preliminary,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Roman is indeed interested in the position. The school’s athletic director, Bernard Muir, was reportedly encouraged by his recent conversation with Baltimore’s OC, who would “strongly consider” returning to the Cardinal.

NOVEMBER 30: Longtime Stanford head coach David Shaw stepped down from his post heading the Pac-12 program. The Cardinal will conduct their first coaching search in many years, and Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman is believed to be a part of that process.

Stanford has discussed the position with Roman, according to The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel (on Twitter). Roman, who has been Baltimore’s OC since 2019 and on John Harbaugh‘s staff since 2017, was an assistant at Stanford during Jim Harbaugh‘s time in Palo Alto. Roman was a Stanford position coach from 2009-10.

Both Shaw and Roman have been connected to NFL HC jobs in the past, though such talk has died down for both. Roman, 50, went through his most recent HC interview following the 2019 season, when he met with the Browns. No known HC meetings have taken place since, and Roman’s place as Baltimore’s OC was somewhat in question entering the 2022 offseason. John Harbaugh assured Roman would be back, and he is calling Ravens plays for a fourth season.

Roman has both been given credit for redesigning the Ravens’ offense to fit Lamar Jackson, leading to the run-oriented quarterback’s MVP season, and blamed for holding the dual-threat talent back. The Ravens ranked 17th in scoring offense last season, one played without their top two running backs, and are up to eighth this year despite more J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards injury trouble. Baltimore is also playing without No. 1 wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who is out for the season. Jackson is also on pace for a third 1,000-yard rushing season, averaging 68.6 rushing yards per game.

Tailoring schemes to dual-threat quarterbacks has been a Roman staple. He made over the 49ers’ offense for Colin Kaepernick as Jim Harbaugh’s OC in San Francisco and did the same for Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo. The Bills fired Roman during the 2016 season, leading him to Baltimore. Roman’s offenses contrast to Shaw’s; the latter’s pro-style attacks produced the likes of Andrew Luck and Davis Mills and garnered the offense-oriented HC NFL interest. Shaw was on Harbaugh’s staff during Roman’s two years there.

Other names will come up in this search, and it would be quite interesting if Roman bailed on coaching Jackson. But he has never been a head coach and has seen that well dry up at the professional level. As the Ravens vie for their first AFC North title since Roman’s first year on the job, this will be a storyline to monitor. Stanford, which employed Shaw as HC for 12 years, has gone 3-9 in each of its past two campaigns.

Raiders Activate CB Nate Hobbs

The Raiders have activated cornerback Nate Hobbs from injured reserve, the team announced. In a corresponding move, Las Vegas placed G Lester Cotton on IR.

Hobbs, a 2021 fifth-rounder, had started each of the Raiders’ first five games this season after earning nine starts in his rookie campaign. As a rookie, the Illinois product tallied 74 tackles, a sack, and an interception, and while he yielded a healthy 82.3% completion rate on passes thrown in his direction, Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics nonetheless deemed him one of the NFL’s best corners in 2021. PFF had him graded as the 29th-best CB in the league this year before he went on IR with a broken hand in mid-October.

Hobbs’ return is especially timely for Las Vegas, which was recently forced to place another starting corner, Anthony Averett, on injured reserve for the second time this season. Averett has not played especially well in his seven games of action, but the fact that the Raiders have not had their top three corners — Rock Ya-Sin, Averett, and Hobbs — on the field together after Week 1 is obviously suboptimal. The team is near the bottom of the league in terms of total defense and passing yards allowed per game, which is a major reason for its 4-7 record.

However, Josh McDaniels‘ troops have shown some moxie in winning their last two contests, both of which went to overtime. Getting Hobbs back should at least help stabilize the club’s secondary as it looks to keep its slim playoff hopes alive.

Cotton, meanwhile, has bounced between the Raiders’ active roster, taxi squad, and the unemployment line since signing with the team as a UDFA in 2019. Thanks to Las Vegas’ uncertain OL situation this year, he saw significant action in the first two weeks of the season, taking 90 snaps at right guard and earning his first career start in Week 2. Since then, he has played exclusively on special teams and has participated in just a handful of snaps per game.

NFL News & NFL Rumors