Let’s take a look at the latest notes and rumors from CBS Sports scribe Jason La Canfora:
- In the wake of the Browns’ 0-10 start and head coach Hue Jackson‘s curious decision to bench rookie QB Cody Kessler in the second half of the team’s loss to Baltimore on Thursday night, La Canfora writes that tensions are mounting once more in Cleveland. The benching of Kessler–who has been one of the few sources of optimism for the club this year–created a rift between the front office and coaching staff, and it appears that more changes are on the way. At the very least, defensive coordinator Ray Horton could be relieved of his duties sooner rather than later, but owner Jimmy Haslam, who has a penchant for wholesale changes, could initiate another major shakeup. La Canfora adds that Haslam and his wife, Dee, have become increasingly hands-on, with roughly 10 departments reporting directly to ownership. Morale is especially low within the organization, as the Haslams are not football people by trade and their increased involvement is only serving to alienate their direct reports.
- Matthew Stafford is enjoying a terrific 2016 campaign, and his performance thus far, combined with the Lions‘ status as a playoff contender, has put him into the middle of the MVP discussion. Although it is too early to consider such awards, it is not too early to consider what a new contract for Stafford might look like. The Georgia product is under club control through 2017, and it has become increasingly likely that the team will explore an extension for their star signal-caller after this season is over. La Canfora confirms that those contract talks will indeed happen, and he adds that Stafford’s reps will be seeking to secure a deal that pays their client over $25MM per season. Given rising salaries for quarterbacks, including those less accomplished than Stafford–who has thrived since Jim Bob Cooter took over as offensive coordinator last November–it seems likely that Stafford will hit that target. That is especially true since Stafford’s franchise tag number for 2018 would be $26.4MM, as former NFL agent Joel Corry tweets.
- Although the Chargers will likely play out the 2017 season in San Diego, league sources believe the club has little choice but to ultimately join the Rams in Los Angeles. Even after voters resoundingly opposed the plan to construct a publicly funded $1.15 billion stadium for the Chargers in downtown San Diego, there was some optimism about an eventual deal, but La Canfora writes such optimism is misplaced. The voting results were even more lopsided than many anticipated, and league sources believe team owner Dean Spanos will relocate in the wake of the defeat. Those sources suggest that there is no “secret plan” to keep the Chargers in San Diego.
- The Raiders are sitting pretty atop the AFC West, and they have spent very little cash to get to that point. So little, in fact, that they are the only team yet to reach the spending threshold mandated in the collective bargaining agreement. The CBA requires that each team spend at least 89% of the salary cap in cash in a four-year period by the time the 2016 league year concludes, and Oakland has yet to reach that mark. If they fail to do so, the NFLPA would receive the difference in cash and could assign the funds as it sees to fit. For instance, the union could distribute that money to needy current and former Raiders who played for the team during that four-year span. However, as La Canfora observes, it is more likely the Raiders use the excess cash to reinvest in the club, with a new contract for pending free agent Latavius Murray a possibility. Plus, a player who received a signing bonus between now and the start of the 2017 league year on March 9 could have a portion of that bonus applied to the 2016 cap to comply with the spending rule.