Month: November 2018

Sunday Roundup: Richard, Sanchez, Sherman, L.A.

Earlier today Rory Parks rounded up a few stories to pass along that came across the ticker. Here are a few more Sunday stories that are worth checking out:

  • Sam Bradford has been anointed the presumed starter in Philadelphia, but his road to the job won’t come without competition. Mark Sanchez has made it clear that he wants to be the Eagles’ starter, and Phil Sheridan of ESPN believes he will have a chance to win it.
  • Kris Richard is settling into his new role as Seahawks defensive coordinator, and he has made it clear that he is taking over Dan Quinn’s defense with a “if it’s not broke. don’t fix it” approach, according to the team’s official website. Working under Quinn, Gus Bradley, and Pete Carroll has given him a unique perspective on how to run a defense.
  • Mike Sherman has left the NFL for the amatuer ranks, becoming the head coach at Nauset Regional High School in North Eastham, Massachusetts, reports Kevin Patra of NFL.com. Sherman, who has recently served as offensive coordinator for the Dolphins, and amassed a 59-37 record during his six years as head coach of the Packers from 2000 to 2005.
  • Gil Brandt of NFL.com has a note for any fans in Los Angeles hoping for an NFL team, the Hollywood Park grandstand was demolished today (via Twitter). The proposed NFL stadium is planned to take its place. Austin Knoblauch of the Los Angeles Times has the full story of the demolition.

Extra Points: Thurmond, Bell, Bolden

This point in the offseason can be slow with big news that actually has on-the-field consequences. This past week only saw a few notable signings and one major training camp injury. However, a few camp notes include some players who are looking to step into new positions this coming NFL season:

  • Walter Thurmond signed with the Eagles thinking he might have a chance to compete for a starting cornerback job, but now it looks like he could end up being the starter at safety, writes Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Thurmond cited the defensive scheme allowing safeties to make plays on the football as the reason he was open to the switch. Thurmond, who previously played for the Seahawks and Giants, has only had experience as an outside cornerback and nickelback in his five-year career.
  • Byron Bell struggled at left tackle for the Panthers in 2014, ranking 83rd out of 84 qualifying tackles who played at least 25% of offensive snaps for their respective teams, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). The Titans believe that moving Bell back to right tackle will be the catalyst for an uptick in his performance, writes John Glennon of the Tennesseean. Pro Football Focus didn’t grade him much better as a right tackle between 2011 and 2013, only getting as high as 53rd over those three years.
  • Broncos return specialist Omar Bolden was electric on his ten kick returns in 2014, but he is looking to make a bigger impact next season. He hopes that in addition to winning full-time kick return duty, he would also like to return punts for the Broncos, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post.

Albert Breer On Tom Brady, Deflategate

The DeflateGate rumor mill hasn’t brought much additional information over the last couple of days, but we should know more when Tom Brady will have his day in court, and his appeal hearing has been set for June 23rd.

We shouldn’t expect to hear from Brady until June 23rd, and his silence will be on the advice of his NFLPA lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler, reports Albert Breer of the NFL Network (via Twitter).

Kessler has been steadfast in his approach of keeping clients quiet in terms of media comments before hearings, and Breer writes that Brady will be treated the same way despite his high-profile stature in the league (via Twitter).

While Brady won’t be making any statements regarding air pressure or doctoring footballs, he will not be prohibited from talking football between now and June 23rd (via Twitter). He will no doubt be asked about Deflategate if he should appear in front of the media, but expect him to deflect those questions in favor of questions that pertain to on-the-field concerns.

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Manziel, Steelers

Despite losing Pernell McPhee to the Bears in free agency, the Ravens probably won’t look to sign a veteran replacement at pass rusher, writes Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Instead of adding someone like Dwight Freeney or Osi Umenyiora, per Hensley, Baltimore will likely turn to internal options — such as Courtney Upshaw or rookie Za’Darius Smith — to fill the void left by McPhee. Of course, if Terrell Suggs or Elvis Dumervil were to suffer an injury, the club could very well turn to the open market to search for help.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was involved in an incident at a PGA event on Saturday, but the episode seems relatively minor, and no charges or arrests will be filed, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Per Ulrich, Manziel reportedly threw an water bottle at a fan who had been harassing him for an autograph. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN (Twitter links) adds a bit more clarity, saying that the fan had been consistently grabbing at and heckling Manziel.
  • As team activities get under way, it’s clear that the Steelers roster is getting younger, writes Scott Brown of ESPN.com. The club is fielding just 11 players over the age of 30, and following the departure of defensive stalwarts Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, and Brett Keisel, it seems that Pittsburgh is making a concerted effort to undertake a youth movement.
  • Jeremy Hill expects the Bengals backfield split to be a bit more balanced this year, as he explains to Coley Harvey of ESPN.com. Following Giovani Bernard‘s injury in Week 9, Hill dominated backfield snaps, even when Hill returned, but the latter expects those responsibilities to distributed a bit more evenly in 2015.

PFR Originals: 5/24/15 – 5/31/15

The original content produced by the PFR staff during the past week:

Week In Review: 5/24/15 – 5/31/15

The headlines from the past week at PFR:

Key News:

Restructured:

Signed:

Waivers:

Released/Waived:

Suspended:

Sunday Roundup: NFL In LA, Austin, Martin

Let’s have a look at a few links from around the league, which include a few Twitter mailbags:

  • As San Diego tries to keep the Chargers from moving to Los Angeles, it is becoming increasingly clear that the team has all the leverage, writes David Garrick of the San Diego Union-Tribune. As Garrick writes, the city has to make a new stadium deal sweet enough to make the Chargers want to stay, but not too sweet, because then it would be rejected at the polls. It is a tightrope that will be exceedingly difficult to walk.
  • Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com takes a look at how the explosive Tavon Austin will fit in the Rams‘ run-heavy offense, and he also notes that Brian Quick should be ready to suit up for Week 1.
  • Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com believes the Bears‘ overhaul of their defense is a two-year project, and the team will need another offseason to complement its core of players like Pernell McPhee and Kyle Fuller.
  • John Keim of ESPN.com is surprised that Washington did not do more to address its thin tight end position in the offseason, but at this point, the team will simply have to hope Jordan Reed stays healthy or that someone like Chase Dixon or Je’Ron Hamm develops.
  • Doug Martin recently moved from California to Tampa Bay even though the Buccaneers opted not to pick up the option on the fifth year of his rookie contract. But now that Tampa Bay is truly home for Martin, Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune writes that the injury-plagued back will have every incentive to earn a new deal with the club.
  • Mike Wells of ESPN.com believes it is unlikely that the Colts will add another player to compete for the right tackle spot. Jack Mewhort and Joe Reitz are getting the majority of the snaps there at the moment, but newly-acquired Todd Herremans can play right tackle if necessary and Indianapolis remains optimistic that Gosder Cherilus can make a healthy return.

AFC East Notes: Pats, Rice, Wilkerson

After checking in on the status of two embattled running backs earlier today, let’s have a look at a few links from the AFC East:

  • With the mass exodus that the Patriots have experienced at cornerback this offseason, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes that Devin McCourty could shift from his safety position to corner, where he played reasonably well during his first several seasons in the league. But given how good of a safety he has become, such a move would not be optimal for New England.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes that Brandon LaFell, who is under contract with the Patriots for two more years and $5.3MM, changed agents recently to Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod, the same agents who represent Darrelle Revis. Volin wonders if LaFell, after an excellent 2014 season, is preparing to ask for a new contract.
  • In the same piece, Volin writes that the Patriots will likely enter into contract negotiations with Rob Gronkowski in the near future. Gronkowski has a $10MM option bonus due next March that would trigger another four years and $37MM total.
  • We learned earlier today that the Bills might be a good landing spot for Ray Rice, but Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets that Buffalo is not interested in the former Ravens star.
  • Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com writes that the Jets are “spitting out cash like an ATM” when it comes to imported players, citing Brandon Marshall‘s restructure as the most recent example. Cimini believes it’s now time for the team’s best homegrown talent, Muhammad Wilkerson, to get a new deal.
  • In the same piece, Cimini writes that the Jets have an unusually large amount of money tied up in players 30 years old or older, and he passes along details of Leonard Williams‘ rookie contract.

Will Ray Rice Get A Second Chance?

Don Banks of Sports Illustrated recently managed to contact 12 league sources–including high-level executives, coaches, agents, etc.–and asked them the following: did they anticipate any team signing Ray Rice either before training camp or during the preseason, and if so, which team or teams seemed to be the most likely candidates to pursue Rice at some point?

The former second-round pick out of Rutgers was one of the more dynamic playmakers in the league in the early stages of his career, piling up over 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 2009 and 2011 and scoring 43 total touchdowns in a Ravens uniform. Outside of his rookie campaign, in which he was the third option in a three-man backfield, he never caught fewer than 58 passes in a season, and he holds a career 4.3 yards per carry average.

But then 2013 happened. The Ravens, fresh off a Super Bowl championship, sputtered miserably on offense, and Rice struggled to the worst statistical season of his career, amassing just 660 yards on 214 carries (3.1 YPC) and reaching the endzone only four times. Less than two months after the season ended, Rice was arrested for the now infamous assault of his then-fiancee (now wife), Janay Palmer.

If Rice’s 2013 season had gone as well as his 2009-2012 efforts, he might already have a job by now. In response to Banks’ queries, one front office executive said Rice will probably not get another chance in the league, as he was “declining” and plays a “replaceable position.” But if Rice played at a Pro Bowl level in 2013, it would be difficult to say he was declining, and a number of other sources apparently believe that there are teams that would be willing to treat 2013 as one bad year, and not as a sign of things to come.

Another high-level executive said, “I’m a little bit surprised that it has taken this long for someone to sign him. I think he deserves to play. From all accounts, he’s a great person who made a pretty egregious mistake. The reaction to what he did was exacerbated by the fact it was on video. But let’s face it, we’re a league in which [former Rams defensive lineman] Leonard Little killed somebody [while driving drunk in 1998], and [then-Browns receiver] Donte’ Stallworth killed somebody [while driving drunk in 2009]. And they kept playing.”

That executive pointed to the Bills as one team that might be interested in taking a flyer on Rice, who always enjoyed a strong relationship with new Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan, and a veteran agent sees the Chiefs as a viable landing spot, given Andy Reid‘s willingness to give Michael Vick a second chance in Philadelphia. The agent said, “Rice deserves a second chance. He’s still a young kid. And when NFL owners get in trouble, they don’t get kicked out of the league.”

The problem, of course, is that the league is now in a “new era” in terms of domestic violence issues, and Rice is not an elite talent like Adrian Peterson or Greg Hardy at this point in his career. He handled an immensely heavy workload at Rutgers and was arguably the most effective offensive weapon for the Ravens for five years, so there is a lot of wear on his 28-year-old legs. As a result, he is probably best suited as a change-of-pace back, someone who can provide a spark but not shoulder the burden of 200 or more carries. And, given the decreasing emphasis on the running game that the league is experiencing, it just might not be worth it for a team to take the type of public relations hit that a Rice signing would engender.

The consensus among those who answered Banks’ questions appears to be that Rice would not be a toxic influence and is probably deserving of another chance, given the isolated nature of his transgression and his status as an exemplary citizen prior to the assault. But his age and the position he plays works against him, and though a number of Banks’ sources are optimistic about Rice’s chances, it will take a perfect storm of need, fit, and even desperation for him to get his mulligan.

Zimmer, Peterson Relationship Still Strong

Earlier this week, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer issued what was widely perceived as an ultimatum to his embattled star running back, Adrian Peterson. Zimmer said simply, “He can play for us, or he can not play.” That brief but strong statement succinctly summarized the stance that Minnesota has taken throughout the entire Peterson saga, and it made it appear that the relationship between coach and player had soured.

But according to Ben Goessling of ESPN.com, that could not be farther from the truth. As Goessling writes, “it’s believed Peterson and Zimmer talked this week and smoothed things over following the comment, which stemmed more from Zimmer’s fatigue over the topic than any effort to issue Peterson an ultimatum.” Goessling goes on to say that although Peterson still has some reservations about returning to the Vikings, including COO Kevin Warren‘s role in putting Peterson on the commissioner’s exempt list last year, his relationship with Zimmer remains an asset to the club.

In fact, Zimmer’s statement was hardly news to Peterson, who apparently realizes that he is not going to talk his way into a trade, even if there were teams that would be willing to make a deal for him. As such, and as PFR’s Zach Links pointed out several days ago, Peterson’s decision to skip OTAs is based solely on his desire to get the Vikings to put their money where their mouth is and to give him a salary guarantee that reflects their words of support.

In the end, Goessling believes Peterson will suit up for the Vikings in the fall, and even though there has not been much progress towards a new salary guarantee at this point, some sort of compromise appears well within the realm of possibility. After all, as we heard just yesterday, most of the Vikings’ moves these days are being made with an eye towards 2016, when they move into a new stadium. If the team didn’t have plans for Peterson to be on the roster during that season, they wouldn’t even be bothering with him.