Month: July 2018

AFC Notes: Kraft, Talib, Wilson, Blackmon

Patriots owner Robert Kraft sat down with Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti on Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub (full interview here), addressing the team’s window to contend for a championship in relation to 36-year-old quarterback Tom Brady‘s twilight years. When asked if the closing window inspires the organization to be more aggressive in surrounding Brady with win-now players, Kraft brushed off the philosophy: “We have to try to sustain success by managing as wisely as we can. It’s not dependent on any one player. . .I think a better strategy is to try to be solid and be able to compete year in and year out.”

  • When asked about free agent-to-be Aqib Talib, Kraft laid the groundwork for the team’s typical hardball approach, saying, “He wasn’t on the field a lot of the time since he’s been with us.” However, in the next breath, Kraft expressed his belief that both parties would be interested in extending the relationship: “I think he’s happy here and would like to be here, and we’re happy with him and we’d like to have him here. Now it’s just about doing business.”
  • Patriots veteran safety Adrian Wilson, who spent the year on IR, spoke with “The Drive” with Jody, MJ and Bauer on Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix, saying he doesn’t know if he’ll be back in New England despite signing a three-year deal in 2013.
  • Jaguars owner Shad Khan “absolutely” wants suspended receiver Justin Blackmon back on the team when he is reinstated, according to Florida Times-Union beat writer Ryan O’Halloran (via Twitter).
  • In theory, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton should be entering his prime, but it’s not unreasonable to draft another quarterback, according to ESPN’s Cole Harvey.

Finley Eyes Return, Mentions Seattle

Packers injured tight end Jermichael Finley, recovering from season-ending neck surgery, spoke with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio about his pending unrestricted free agency. Finley was upbeat and optimistic, saying he feels “awesome,” has been running routes and catching passes and expects to be cleared for contact in three to four weeks when his vertebrae fusion is complete.

Speaking on the subject of free agency, Finley expressed his desire to remain a “Packer for life,” saying he will give them first chance to be heard, but did not hide the fact he’s already pondered alternative destinations. “…I would love to be on the first flight out to good old Seattle,” said Finley.

It remains to be seen if the Packers, typically tight-lipped regarding free agent plans, will offer a contract to Finley, who missed a total of 26 games to season-ending injuries in 2010 and 2013. Finley has been outspoken in the past about his desire to earn all that he can, but his earning power will be predicated on his medical reports, and he might be forced to accept a one-year deal. Back in October, ESPN’s Rod Demovsky used the team’s 2012 decision to sever ties with former Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins to illustrate the complicated nature of Finley’s risk-reward situation.

Whether Finley is back in Green Bay or not, the team’s tight end situation is a question mark heading into the offseason, as No. 2 Andrew Quarless is also a free agent.

Steelers Facing Decisions On Woodley, Worilds

The Steelers seem to have a continuous supply of talented outside linebackers in defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 scheme, but while depth is a good thing, the restrictions of the salary cap force difficult personnel decisions. Perhaps the most important one facing the Steelers is what to do about left outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who had a down season, finished on IR (calf) and carries a $13.59MM cap hit in 2014.

As it stands, the Steelers are approximately $10MM over the salary cap and facing the potential defensive losses of key UFAs Brett Keisel, Evander Hood and Jason Worilds, who is coming off a long-awaited breakout season. Stepping in for the injured Woodley, Worilds got 11 starts and registered 63 tackles and a team-high eight sacks. With young pass rushers in high demand, he is set to cash in on the open market, be it in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.

Recently, team president Art Rooney II expressed his desire to retain Worilds, who told ESPN’s Scott Brown he has no interest in returning to Pittsburgh as a backup. That seems to render Woodley’s status as tenuous for two reasons. As it stands, the team has very little wiggle room financially (approximately $10MM over the cap). Additionally, conventional wisdom suggests 2013 first-rounder Jarvis Jones, whose arrow LeBeau believes is pointing up, will start at right outside linebacker next season.

Ostensibly, the club’s decision comes down to Worilds or Woodley, but in December, SI.com’s Chris Burke wrote why the Worilds-Woodley decision isn’t so cut-and-dried, explaining that Woodley has already restructured his six-year, $61.5MM deal ($17MM guaranteed) once before, resulting in him being owed more than $25MM in base salary the next three seasons. What’s more, if Woodley is cut before June 1, the team incurs a dead-money cap hit of $14.2MM, meaning it cannot simply dump Woodley to make room for Worilds, who will be snapped up in free agency in March.

Aside from begging Woodley to accept another restructuring, the most realistic scenario might be waiting until after June 1 to release Woodley, enabling the team to spread the cap hit over two seasons. Regardless the outcome, the Steelers will have to get creative in order to create financial flexibility in 2014 and beyond, and that undoubtedly means severing ties with established veterans.

Ravens Interested In Re-Signing Jacoby Jones If Price Is Right

Ravens receiver/kick returner Jacoby Jones is a pending unrestricted free agent the team would like to have back, though limited cap space means a raise is not in order, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson.

Jones, 29, ranked in the upper third of the league’s kickoff (28.8-yard average, one touchdown) and punt returners (12.5), while finishing fourth on the Ravens with 37 receptions for 455 yards (12.3) and two scores in 12 games. However, given the emergence of rookie Marlon Brown and the recyclable nature of return men, Jones will be considered an “unaffordable luxury” at his 2013 salary ($3MM base salary plus $1MM roster bonus). Wilson believes the Ravens would welcome Jones back at a discounted number, but there have been no talks to date.

If Jones does re-sign with the team, new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak will likely have something to do with it. Kubiak was Jones’ head coach in Houston and said the two have a great relationship. “I don’t want to say I was like a father figure to him,” said Kubiak, “but he was like one of my children.”

Should Jones depart, the Ravens are expected to seek younger, cheaper alternatives at the receiver and kick returner positions.

Poll: Which Team Will Win The Super Bowl?

After two weeks of buildup and hype, we’ve arrived at Super Bowl weekend, with Sunday’s game now just 48 hours away. Much has been made of the league’s No. 1 offense squaring off against its No. 1 defense, and on Sunday we’ll finally see which side comes out on top.

Ever since Denver dispatched the Patriots in the AFC Championship and Seattle survived the NFC game against the Niners, Peyton Manning and the Broncos have been the Super Bowl favorites. However, Denver’s predicted margin of victory is slim, and fans seem fairly split on which club will actually win. ESPN.com released its reporters’ individual predictions for Super Bowl XLVIII today, and of the 48 writers polled, 25 picked the Seahawks, while 23 went with the Broncos.

So today’s PFR poll question is fairly simple: Which team do you expect to win this year’s Super Bowl? Feel free to weigh in with your specific score predictions in the comments section.

NFC Notes: Bush, Lions, Packers, Falcons

It may not seem like long ago that Reggie Bush was starring at USC, but the running back’s first season in Detroit was his eighth overall in the NFL. Still, as Bush prepares to turn 29 in a few weeks, he tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that he hopes to play “at least another five years” before calling it a career. Bush’s current contract with the Lions runs through the 2016 season, so even if he plays out those three years, his ideal scenario would have him signing at least one more deal before retiring.

Here are a few more Friday updates from around the NFC, as the Super Bowl inches closer:

  • The Lions will be facing a decision this offseason on safety Louis Delmas, who started all 16 games for the team, but will have a $6.5MM cap number for 2014. says Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com.
  • Safety will also be an area of concern for the Packers this spring, according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, who writes there’s “probably no higher priority in the draft” for Green Bay.
  • Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff tells Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com that he’s only focusing on a select few positions in free agency, with the offensive and defensive lines among the postitions the club will address.
  • ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas believes that locking up linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to long-term deals should be among the top items on the offseason checklist for new Buccaneers GM Jason Licht.

Pro Football Rumors On Facebook/Twitter

The 2013/14 NFL season will come to an end this Sunday, when either Denver or Seattle wins Super Bowl XLVIII. Once that game is in the books though, the real fun begins — with free agency and the draft just around the corner, NFL teams are already looking ahead and planning their offseasons. There will be plenty of notable stories to track on Pro Football Rumors throughout the winter and spring, and you don’t necessarily have to keep refreshing our site to keep tabs on them. There are a handful of different ways you can follow us to get the latest updates on NFL news and rumors all year.

You can like us on Facebook, and receive headlines and links for all our posts via your Facebook account. You can also follow us on Twitter to have all our posts and updates sent directly to your Twitter feed. Meanwhile, our Google+ page is located here, and if you’d like to follow us using your RSS reader of choice, you can find our RSS feed right here

If you prefer to receive updates only on roster moves such as signings, cuts, and trades, you can follow our transactions-only feeds via RSS and Twitter.

Jaguars May Draft Multiple Quarterbacks

The Jaguars, who currently hold the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, have been viewed as a near-lock to pick a quarterback, if not with that No. 3 pick than with another early selection. Team owner Shad Khan confirmed as much today, telling Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union (Twitter link) that “everybody knows we’re going to draft a quarterback — maybe two.”

With the third pick in hand, the Jags are in good position to land one of the quarterbacks at or near the top of every team’s draft board, if they so choose. The Texans are believed to be eyeing QBs with the first overall pick, and while the Rams would likely target other positions at No. 2, St. Louis could also trade the pick to a team in need of a signal-caller. Even if multiple QBs come off the board before Jacksonville’s pick though, there are generally considered to be three names in the first tier: Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, and Blake Bortles.

Breaking down Khan’s comments, Hays Carlyon of the Times-Union likens the Jags’ potential approach in 2014 to the Redskins’ 2012 draft, which saw Washington select Robert Griffin III in the first round and Kirk Cousins in the fourth. However, as Carlyon points out, the team could also select a player like Jadeveon Clowney at No. 3, pick a quarterback in round two, then insure that pick by drafting another QB in the middle rounds. With eight selections in the first five rounds of the draft, Jacksonville has the flexibility to add a pair of QBs while still bringing aboard plenty of talent at other positions.

Chad Henne, who finished the season as the Jags’ starter under center, may not be out of the picture yet either. General manager David Caldwell has told Henne’s agent that the team will reach out prior to the free agent period to discuss the possibility of a new contract, tweets O’Halloran.

Extra Points: London, Cromartie, FA Tryouts

During his State of the NFL presser this morning, commissioner Roger Goodell downplayed speculation about the possibility of the Rams moving to Los Angeles, but sounded more bullish about the city of London getting an NFL team. According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link), Goodell said that selling out three games for the 2014 season helped push London “further down the road” toward a franchise. Meanwhile, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald tweets that, in his opinion, the question isn’t whether or not London will eventually get a team, but rather whether it will be via expansion or relocation.

  • Jets head coach Rex Ryan indicated today that he hopes cornerback Antonio Cromartie regains his form in 2014, but didn’t commit to him being on New York’s roster for next season, as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News details. Cromartie is owed a $5MM roster bonus in March and carries a cap number of nearly $15MM for ’14.
  • Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun passes along word of several free agent tryouts, reporting via Twitter that defensive tackle Torrey Davis auditioned for the Packers, linebacker Alex Hall tried out for the Cardinals, and wide receiver C.J. Akins worked out for the Panthers.
  • Unsurprisingly, Patriots owner Robert Kraft told reporters today, including Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (Twitter links), that he’d like to bring back both of the team’s top two free agents, receiver Julian Edelman and cornerback Aqib Talib.
  • As Russell Wilson prepares to play in his first Super Bowl, a handful of teams around the league are undoubtedly thinking about the opportunity they had to draft the third round pick in 2012. The Eagles are one team that came close to snatching Wilson off the board in the second round, writes Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • In a pair of Dallas Morning News chats, Rainer Sabin explains why he believes the Dan Bailey contract extension was the right move for the Cowboys, while Kevin Sherrington argues that what the Cowboys call being “aggressive” with the cap is actually mismanagement.

Rams Eyeing Return To Los Angeles?

FRIDAY, 10:47am: At a press conference today, commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters that Kroenke informed the league of his Los Angeles land purchase, and that he’s not aware of any plans for stadium developments on that land (Twitter link via Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com). Goodell also cautioned against “overreacting” to the news (Twitter link via Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com).

THURSDAY, 8:13pm: Rams owner Stan Kroenke is said to have bought a 60-acre lot in Inglewood, California that could potentially be a used for an NFL stadium, sources tell Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. The timing of this development is especially curious since the Rams have been unable to secure a new stadium in St. Louis and can move after the 2014 season per the terms of their lease agreement.

So far, the Rams have declined comment when asked about whether they’ve secured the piece of land in question. Farmer rightfully notes that 60 acres of land alone wouldn’t be enough to accommodate a stadium and the necessary parking, but an adjacent 238-acre lot could conceivably become available for purchase and tied into a project.

Los Angeles has been without an NFL franchise since the Rams and Raiders left after the 1994 season. The L.A. market has been used as leverage many times to get stadium deals done in other cities, but this is the first time an NFL owner has bought a piece of land in the L.A. area capable of accommodating a stadium. Relocation would be a very complicated process and would require the support of three-quarters of NFL owners, but the temptation to bring an NFL franchise to the nation’s second-largest media market has been strong ever since it was left without professional football nearly 20 years ago.