La Canfora’s Latest: Bills, P. Manning, Giants, Goodell

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is likely to be an attractive trade chip this offseason due to his relative youth, upside, and athleticism (not to mention his reasonable salary). Taylor is due a $6MM roster bonus in the first week of free agency this March, and even when he inked his current deal, it was speculated that Buffalo could cut Taylor before having to pay out that bonus. So while teams theoretically could wait for the Bills to release Taylor — they did just bench him, after all — La Canfora’s sources indicate that the ability to land him at a reasonable contract and secure his rights for at least 2018 would lead to someone giving Buffalo something of reasonable value.

Indeed, aside from the $6MM roster bonus, Taylor is owed a fairly modest $10MM base salary, and it’s not as if the free agent QB market is likely to set the world on fire. Plus, there will be plenty of teams who are unable to address their QB needs in the draft. La Canfora names the Jaguars, Broncos, Cardinals, and Saints as potential landing spots for Taylor, and he says the Bills will be doing their own homework on the 2018 quarterback draft class. He also says the Bills could continue to look to trade Cordy Glenn this offseason.

Now for more from La Canfora, who has again treated us to a bevy of Sunday morning notes:

  • Taylor might draw plenty of trade interest this offseason, but La Canfora writes that the Bills had been weighing the decision to start Nathan Peterman over Taylor for weeks, and the team’s slow starts and inability to throw the ball downfield ultimately forced the change.
  • We have heard plenty of speculation about the Browns‘ desire to bring future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning on board in some sort of high-level capacity, and La Canfora writes that club owner Jimmy Haslam is serious about recruiting Manning and could be willing to offer him a small stake in the team as incentive to take on a team president/top executive role.
  • Although Giants ownership recently indicated that head coach Ben McAdoo would at least get the opportunity to finish out the season before they make a decision on his future with the club, La Canfora says the club’s evaluation will not be limited to the coaching staff. He believes ownership could also make changes to the personnel side of team operations, suggesting that GM Jerry Reese could be on the hot seat.
  • La Canfora says that Roger Goodell never demanded $50MM per year and use of a private jet for life as part of his contract extension, as was reported last week. Instead, the structure that Goodell agreed to weeks ago will pay him a base salary of $20MM per year, with a chance to hit $200MM over five years if all incentives are met (Goodell had been earning about $40MM per year under his present contract). His new deal is still awaiting a formal signing/announcement.

Ronald Darby Issues Statement On Jameis Winston

The Uber driver who has accused Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston of groping her in March 2016 has said that she and Winston were alone in her vehicle at the time of the alleged incident, whereas Winston’s representatives say there were several people in the car, and that Winston was in the backseat. Now, Eagles cornerback (and Winston’s former collegiate teammate) Ronald Darby has spoken out on Winston’s behalf, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports.

Jameis Winston (vertical)

Darby, whom the Eagles acquired in a trade with Buffalo this offseason — but who has only suited up for one game this season due to an ankle injury — issued a statement this morning indicating that he was one of the other passengers in the vehicle. He said:

“I felt the need to come forward and clarify some inaccurate accounts of the evening of March 13, 2016 when myself, a friend and Jameis Winston took an Uber ride in Arizona. There were three of us in the car, not just one as has been reported. Myself and Jameis were in the backseat. I am confident that nothing inappropriate in nature happened in the car that evening and Jameis did not have any physical contact with the Uber driver. The accusations are just not true.”

Darby and Winston were teammates at Florida State in 2013 and 2014, and both were selected in the 2015 draft (Winston, of course, was the first overall pick in that draft, while Darby was taken with the 50th overall selection). And, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes, this marks the second time that Darby has witnessed an incident that resulted in Winston’s being accused of sexual misconduct. Darby was in Winston’s apartment the night Winston was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow FSU student in 2012.

Schefter also reports that the NFL has still not informed the NFL Players Association that there is now an investigation of one of its players, which the league is required to do. While everyone knows that the investigation has been launched, and the league’s informing the NFLPA of the same is largely just a formality, the fact that it has not been done is an inauspicious start to what many expect will be another messy, drawn-out process.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Freeman, Broncos, Mack, Eifert

The Broncos have authored one of their worst modern-era stretches over the past five weeks, with now both their offense and defense struggling. John Elway lobbed some criticism at the team he put together.

I think we got a little bit soft. To be dead honest with you, we got a little bit soft,” the Broncos GM said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “We went 4-0 in preseason; we started out 3-1; we get a bye week, and if you exhale in this league, you’re in trouble. To be dead honest with you, I think we exhaled and it’s hard to recover from that.”

However, the seventh-year front office leader offered support for Vance Joseph despite the first-year coach having the Broncos in danger of their first sub-.500 season in seven years. The Broncos’ schedule eases up after the Chiefs-Eagles-Patriots gauntlet, with the Bengals making a trip to Denver in on Sunday, but Joseph may profile as a one-and-done candidate if this pace continues. The Broncos have lost all five games by at least 10 points. Elway threw some cold water on that prospect, though.

There’s going to be growing pains as a head coach, especially as a first-year head coach (and) we got a lot of youth on staff when it comes to coordinators, too,” Elway said. “So there’s growing pains there. Just like with players, we have to give them a chance to grow and get better and learn from certain situations. Vance, in my mind, is doing just fine and continues to get these guys to play hard and the energy is still there. So we’ll work our way through.”

Here’s the latest from around the league going into Week 11 Sunday.

  • Devonta Freeman has been ruled out for Monday night’s Falcons-Seahawks game. This wasn’t a surprise given the star running back’s concussion history. He suffered a second concussion of the season against the Cowboys. Tevin Coleman will start.
  • Reggie McKenzie wants to sign Khalil Mack to an extension next year, and the cornerstone Raiders defender has no problem with that. Mack does not seem interested in exploring a potential path elsewhere down the line. “Of course; that’s not even a question,” Mack said, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Fallon Smith, about wanting to stay with the Raiders for the rest of his career. “That’s a no-brainer for me, especially when you think about coming into this organization and try to build something special, that’s something you want to be a part of for a lifetime.” Given his age (26), durability, production history and the fact Von Miller‘s extension occurred during the 2016 league year, Mack is a mortal lock to become a $20MM-per-year defender and surpass his fellow AFC West pass-rushing dynamo in that department. Mack’s under contract through 2018 via fifth-year option.
  • In addition to the back surgery Tyler Eifert underwent, the impending UFA tight end had a knee procedure done recently, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). This was not a major operation, with Graziano noting it was for a cyst that had developed on the Bengals pass-catcher’s knee. Eifert is out for the season and will profile as one of the more interesting UFAs due to his injury history and high-ceiling production when healthy.
  • The Jaguars will be without two starting offensive linemen on Sunday in Cleveland. Both Jermey Parnell and Patrick Omameh are out and didn’t travel with the team to northeast Ohio. This will be Parnell’s second straight absence due to a knee injury. A quadriceps injury will sideline Omameh, who’s worked as Jacksonville’s starting left guard throughout the season. The Jags have 10 offensive linemen on their active roster, so they’re prepared to handle the first-unit cogs’ absences.

Browns Sign Kasen Williams To P-Squad

Kasen Williams became one of the preseason’s success stories. The Seahawks wanted to pass the wide receiver through to their practice squad then, but the Browns swooped in and signed him to their active roster.

However, after the Browns waived Williams earlier this week, no one claimed him. He will now reside on Cleveland’s practice squad, Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com reports (on Twitter).

The 24-year-old wideout has played in seven games for the Browns this season, twice catching four passes in a game. On the year, he has nine receptions for 84 yards.

The Browns remain in search of pass-catching consistency, or general passing-game promise, but they chose to cut Williams to activate Corey Coleman. Recovering from a broken hand for a second straight season, Coleman is one of three 2016 draft picks among the Browns’ receiving corps. Kenny Britt and Sammie Coates have not excelled as first-year Browns, and the team also stands to get Josh Gordon back after what will be a three-year absence.

So, the Browns could have more depth than they did recently.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Webb, Hackenberg, Dolphins

Mired in their worst season in 14 years, the Giants could soon be faced with a tough decision at quarterback. But for now, their plan isn’t changing. Eli Manning will continue to be their starter, and Davis Webb‘s role doesn’t look to be increasing. The Giants do not plan to play the third-round rookie in 2017, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv reports.

Webb has not been receiving additional practice reps and remains behind Manning and Geno Smith, the latter being expected to keep operating as the backup quarterbackGiants wide receivers coach Frank Cignetti said the Cal product is making “tremendous progress” and noted the team would “obviously” get a better read on Webb with game action, but the 1-8 Giants may have other plans in the works regarding their post-Manning quarterback.

Webb was “all but anointed” as Manning’s successor come 2020, Vacchiano notes, but that was before the team lost eight of its first nine games. Now, the Giants have ramped up quarterback scouting, Vacchiano confirms, because of their lost season and a possible top-five draft choice that would then be awarded. The reporter adds Big Blue will “strongly consider” taking a quarterback with that pick.

Here’s the latest from the Eastern divisions, continuing with the New York teams.

  • Both the Giants and Jets have sent their GMs to Los Angeles on Saturday night for the UCLA-USC game featuring high-end quarterback prospects Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. While Jerry Reese is heading the Giants’ contingent, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (on Twitter), Mike Maccagnan, VP of personnel Brian Heimerdinger and a scout are representing the Jets. Cimini adds Gang Green might be leading the pack among interested teams here. That’s interesting because, as of now, the Jets won’t be in position to have the kind of draft pick it will likely take to land Darnold or Rosen, provided they declare early. While it’s uncertain how many other GMs are at the Los Angeles Coliseum for UCLA-USC, at least 20 teams have sent scouts.
  • The Jets are operating their quarterback contingent in similar fashion to their stadium mates, with Vacchiano reporting the team has no immediate plans to play Christian Hackenberg. Barring a Josh McCown injury, Vacchiano writes it’s unlikely Hackenberg plays this season. Additionally, the reporter notes the Jets “aren’t sold” on the 2016 second-round pick. Vacchiano reports the Jets are “strongly eyeing” the 2018 draft class as well. The Jets are believed to be scouting Wyoming’s Josh Allen to a degree other teams aren’t just yet.
  • The Dolphins‘ pass-catching corps may look quite different next season. While Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes the team will have money to re-sign Jarvis Landry, the Dolphins are of the belief they can replace the slot receiver with a Day 2 draft pick. Landry is averaging 7.7 yards per reception, and that might not be worth a $16MM franchise tag for the team. Jackson reports Landry is expected to want a contract in the range of five years and $65MM — which would make him by far the NFL’s highest-paid slot receiver. Jackson writes no decision has been made on this front yet, and how this season finishes will influence the franchise’s thinking on this front.
  • Miami wants Ndamukong Suh back for what will be his age-31 season but will likely approach the Pro Bowl defensive tackle about a restructure, Jackson notes. The Dolphins could create $12MM in 2018 cap space with a base salary-to-signing bonus conversion, thus putting more money on future caps, and lower Suh’s ’18 cap hit from $26.1MM to around $14MM.
  • However, Jackson notes Julius Thomas probably won’t be back next season. The tight end has another season on his Jaguars-constructed (and Dolphins-restructured) deal, but Miami can save $6.6MM in cap space. The athletic pass-catcher who will turn 30 in June is on pace to play more than he did in either Jaguars season, having suited up for all nine Dolphins games thus far, but he has not been the same since leaving Denver.

Latest On Kam Chancellor

With Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor out, the Legion of Boom will be a shell of its iconic version on Monday night. Chancellor is likely out for the season with a neck injury suffered against the Cardinals in Week 10.

Chancellor has seen multiple specialists this week, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (video link), and ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson reports (on Twitter) the Pro Bowl safety is still looking to play, but the goal as of now could well be a 2018 return.

Pete Carroll isn’t closing the door, however, on a Chancellor re-emergence this season. The eighth-year Seahawks coach isn’t conceding Chancellor’s done for the year, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. So an immediate IR move might not be in the works. However, Anderson tweets that move is probably coming. Carroll was vague when asked if Chancellor’s injury could be more serious than a season-ending malady. “We’ll wait and see,” Carroll said, via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com.

This marks the second serious neck injury a Seahawks defender has encountered this season. Cliff Avril wasn’t immediately placed on IR, but the veteran defensive end resides there now.

Chancellor signed a long-coveted Seattle extension this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Owners In Favor Of NFL Punishing Jerry Jones?

The Jerry JonesRoger Goodell feud is starting to look more like the Cowboys owner is taking on the majority of his peers.

Other NFL owners are expressing a strong sentiment toward the NFL taking disciplinary action against Jones, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports. While it’s uncertain how many owners are behind this, Maske reports some of the league’s most influential owners are in favor of Jones discipline.

Jones has threatened to sue the NFL because of, cosmetically speaking, Goodell’s contract. However, many owners are upset at the brash decision-maker for making his grievances public. And these owners, Maske reports, believe Jones’ actions are solely tied to Ezekiel Elliott‘s six-game suspension, which the running back is now serving at an inopportune time for the Cowboys.

Roger will be extended, and Jerry will be dealt with,” a person familiar with the owners’ sentiments said, via Maske, before adding “It depends on how far (Jones) goes,” regarding what kind of discipline will be levied.

Said punishment would ultimately come from Goodell and the owners’ management council executive committee. Jones has already been removed from the compensation committee.

The owners do not support Jones being forced to sell the Cowboys and view it as unrealistic, but a fine, suspension or the Cowboys losing draft picks would be in play in this scenario, Maske notes. Some explosive dialogue on Jones’ behalf was reported to have occurred recently, with ESPN.com’s Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham reporting Jones threatened Goodell during a phone call.

I’m gonna come after you with everything I have,” Jones said, via the ESPN tandem. “If you think [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft came after you hard [over Deflategate], Bob Kraft is a p—y compared to what I’m going to do.”

Jones is attempting to block a through-2024 Goodell extension, but Van Natta Jr. and Wickersham’s report indicates the owners’ actions are more about a power struggle than Jones taking issue with the commissioner’s contract.

The next set of owners’ meetings are set for Dec. 12-13 in Dallas, and Maske notes Goodell’s extension could be completed by then. Owners voted 32-0 in favor of a new Goodell deal to be authorized earlier this year. Upon the extension being completed, the league is not planning another ratification vote despite Jones’ wishes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Place Bryan Bulaga On IR, Activate Jason Spriggs

The Packers made the decision to swap out higher-profile tackles on Saturday, placing Bryan Bulaga on IR and activating Jason Spriggs from the injured list, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

Both moves were expected, although with Bulaga having torn his ACL against the Lions in Week 9, there was a bit of a delay compared to how these proceedings usually unfold.

Spriggs returned to practice earlier this month; he’s spent most of the season on IR. But he now could be in the mix for key playing time down the stretch for a Packers team with a goal to maintain a contention spot until Aaron Rodgers is eligible to return.

Spriggs will almost certainly be the final IR-boomerang player until a decision is made on Rodgers, who is eligible to return in Week 15. But this isn’t a certainty, and the Packers acknowledge they need to be competing for a playoff spot to bring their all-world quarterback back.

Bulaga has now torn ACLs in both of his knees during his career. He suffered a torn ACL in 2013 that wiped out his whole season. This one will end after five games. Green Bay’s starting right tackle has two years left on the extension he signed in 2015.

Spriggs suffered a hamstring injury in September but will return to action. The 2016 second-round pick figures to be an option at right tackle, along with Justin McCray. Bulaga joins Kyle Murphy as Pakcers tackles on IR.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Paxton Lynch To Be Active In Week 11

The Broncos have dressed the same two quarterbacks throughout the season, but on Sunday against the Bengals, the reeling team is set to change its structure.

Paxton Lynch will suit up for the first time this season, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter), adding that Trevor Siemian will be a healthy scratch for the first time since Peyton Manning retired.

Having lost five games in a row — each by double digits — the Broncos appear to be reaching the point of a rare season out of playoff contention down the stretch. This would seemingly give the team a window to give Lynch the extended audition he’s yet to have. A preseason shoulder injury shelved the former first-round pick for this season to date, but he stands to be Brock Osweiler‘s backup against Cincinnati.

Lynch made two starts last season, going 1-1, and replaced Siemian midway through an October 2016 win as well. At 3-6, the Broncos are teetering on the verge of being removed from realistic postseason contention. And Osweiler is only signed through this season. Siemian, who beat out Lynch for the starting job in consecutive seasons, is signed through 2018. Lynch can be controlled through the 2020 season.

Despite being a seventh-round pick, Siemian is 11-10 in two seasons as a starter. He earned the nod over Lynch in Week 17 of last season despite Denver being eliminated from playoff contention. Siemian guided the Broncos to a 3-1 start this season but lost his next three and was benched for Osweiler.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL News & NFL Rumors