Month: November 2018

Extra Points: Garrett, Browns, Cardinals, Bradford, Packers, Allison, Colts, Hilton

Myles Garrett, last year’s number one overall pick, has gotten off to a great start in 2018. He has 4.5 sacks through four games, and has established himself as one of the best pass-rushers in the league at the age of 22. He’s been a genuine force, and has been a large part of Cleveland’s defensive resurgence. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com even thinks Garrett will be in the “conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year as long as he stays healthy.” Garrett had an injury plagued rookie season, but it looks like Sashi Brown and the old Browns front office clearly made the right choice by taking him first overall in 2017.

Kay Cabot also thinks the Browns would be wise to attempt to trade quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor has been sent to the bench due to the strong play of Baker Mayfield, and the Browns no longer need him in the final year of his contract. It’s unclear if Taylor and his hefty contract have any actual trade value, but Kay Cabot thinks Cleveland should be calling up quarterback needy teams like the 49ers.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • After promoting Josh Rosen to be the team’s starter, the Cardinals made an interesting decision to demote Sam Bradford to third string and make Mike Glennon the backup. Many assumed the decision was because Bradford would no longer earn his per game roster bonuses of over $300K as an inactive third-stringer, but Arizona coach Steve Wilks denied that after the game today. Wilks said the decision was all his and not forced on him by the front office, and that it was just about “making the best decision for the team” according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Packers receiver Geronimo Allison sustained a concussion in the team’s win over the Bills today, according to Jason Wilde of ESPN (Twitter link). Allison has started to emerge as a viable number two receiver this year, and him missing any amount of time would be a big blow to a receiving corp that’s already dealing with an injury to Randall Cobb.
  • Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton had to leave the team’s loss to the Texans with a hamstring injury, and coach Frank Reich told reporters Hilton probably won’t be able to play in the team’s Week 5 game against the Patriots, according to Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The Colts will be playing on a short week on Thursday Night Football, and will be tasked with beating New England on the road without their best offensive playmaker.

 

La Canfora’s Latest: Bryant, Kaepernick, Roughing

Dez Bryant could be nearing a return to the football field. The biggest-name free agent left has been purposefully coy about when he will sign with a team, but sources close to Bryant are indicating he’ll sign sometime in October according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. One source told La Canfora “will really be in position to talk seriously with any interested clubs in two weeks”

If so, Bryant would probably end up playing a little over half a season for his new team. It’s likely that Bryant will look for a contender to sign with. La Canfora reports that the deal Bryant turned down from the Ravens earlier this year included over $13MM guaranteed, and that the offer he turned down from the Browns was worth around $5MM for one year. Interestingly, La Canfora notes that Bryant is getting help improving his mental health, including depression and panic attacks.

Here’s more from La Canfora:

  • Eric Reid may have signed with the Panthers recently, but that isn’t changing anything for Colin Kaepernick‘s lawsuit against the league La Canfora reports. Reid is sharing a lawyer with Kaepernick as he also sued the league for collusion. La Canfora writes that Kaepernick’s agent has continued to reach out to teams about potential interest but there “have been no overtures toward Kaepernick.” Although Reid is off the board, it still doesn’t sound like Kaepernick will be anytime soon.
  • In response to backlash to the sudden increase in roughing the passer penalties, the league’s competition committee is instructing officials only to look for certain specific things from now on, according to La Canfora. While the NFL has maintained not much will change, league sources told La Canfora that the “body weight” rule will now only be enforced if it is absolutely indisputable that the defensive player sought to put his full weight on top of the quarterback. Previously, if it was even questionable, officials were still supposed to call it a penalty.

Seahawks TE Will Dissly Tears Patella, Out For Season

The Seahawks just can’t catch a break. Shortly after it was announced that Earl Thomas would be placed on injured reserve due to a broken leg suffered in today’s game, Seattle was hit with more devastating injury news.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that tight end Will Dissly will miss the rest of the season due to a torn patella (Twitter link). As Rapoport notes, Dissly had emerged as a favorite target for Russell Wilson in his rookie season. Dissly’s emergence came out of nowhere, as almost nobody was expecting the fourth round rookie to have a large role right away before the season.

The Seahawks escaped with a win due to Sebastian Janikowski‘s last-second field goal, but will be significantly shorthanded moving forward. While Dissly isn’t as big of a loss as Thomas, it’s a big blow to the Seahawks’ offense. In his Week 1 debut against Denver, Dissly had 105 yards and a touchdown.

Tyler Lockett has taken a step forward this season. and the team will move forward with Lockett, Doug Baldwin, and Brandon Marshall as the lead pass-catchers. Tight end is now a major weakness for Seattle, as they were already quite thin at the position. It’s possible they look to add a veteran in the coming days.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Earl Thomas Carted Off Field

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas is done for the year after suffering a lower leg fracture, coach Pete Carroll confirmed (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network). Doctors quickly confirmed the injury after Thomas was carted off of the field and had his leg put in an air-cast. The Seahawks will place Thomas on injured reserve, opening up a spot on the 53-man roster.

It’s devastating news for Thomas, particularly since he is in his contract year. Thomas has been pushing for a new contact all year, and this is exactly the situation he was looking to avoid.

Thomas skipped practice multiple times recently and abstained from training camp while demanding a new deal or a trade. It looked like his holdout was going to last into the regular season, but just before the season started he finally reported and started each of the first four games while continuing to publicly state his dissatisfaction with the Seahawks. The Cowboys reportedly offered a second round pick for Thomas earlier this summer, but were turned down.

When on the field, Thomas has been his normal elite self. He’s one of the best safeties in the game, and is a true difference maker. It’s yet another blow for a Seahawks team that has dealt with a slew of injuries to key players this season. Nothing is certain yet, but it appears highly possible Thomas has played his last down in Seattle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR Originals: 9/23/18-9/30/18

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

  • Our Ben Levine took a look back at the Panthers’ decision to trade for pass-rusher Jared Allen as part of our ‘This Date In Transactions History’ series. Allen played a pivotal role for Carolina that year, starting 12 games as the Panthers made a Super Bowl run. It turned out to be the last year for one of the best pass-rushers of the 21st century, as Allen retired after that season.

Latest On Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette

After having missed the past two games, Leonard Fournette was back on the field today for the Jaguars win over the Jets. Unfortunately, his return didn’t last all that long, as the running back was ruled out at halftime after reinjuring his hamstring.

The 23-year-old looked a bit rusty during the first half, compiling only 30 rushing yards on 11 carries (good for an underwhelming 2.7-yard average). He was sent to the sideline multiple times with “hamstring tightness,” but he wasn’t officially ruled out until the start of the third quarter. This was certainly frustrating news for the Jaguars and their former first-rounder. There had been conflicting reports throughout the week regarding his availability for today’s game, and we’re sure neither side was expecting that Fournette would end up reaggravating the injury.

Fournette dealt with injuries during his tenure at LSU, and he missed three regular season games during his rookie campaign. Still, the running back proved his worth in 2017, as he managed to compile 1,040 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

Fortunately for the Jaguars, T.J. Yeldon has seemed to come into own during his fourth NFL season. The former second-rounder had another solid outing on Sunday, rushing for 52 yards and a score on 18 carries. He also added another three receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown. Jacksonville is also rostering running back Corey Grant and Brandon Wilds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Bench Ryan Fitzpatrick For Jameis Winston

Active for the first time after serving his three-game suspension, it didn’t take long for Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston to see the field. The former first-overall pick replaced starter Ryan Fitzpatrick during the second half of Tampa Bay’s loss to the Bears today.

The Buccaneers offense struggled mightily with Fitzpatrick in the game. Before being benched, the veteran quarterback had completed nine of his 18 pass attempts for only 126 yards. He also threw an interception and was sacked twice. Winston ended up finishing the game having completed 16 of his 20 pass attempts for 145 yards, one touchdown, and two picks. He also added a single seven-yard rush. After the game, head coach Dirk Koetter said Winston had probably done enough to earn the starting nod for his team’s Week 6 contest against the Falcons (via The Athletic’s Greg Auman on Twitter).

Fitzpatrick got off to a roaring start this season, as he compiled at least 400 passing yards and four touchdowns in each of his first two games. However, the 35-year-old threw three interceptions during last week’s loss to the Steelers, and Koetter admitted to his team that he almost replaced the veteran with backup Ryan Griffin.

Some wondered whether this was an attempt by the organization to lay the foundation for Winston’s inevitable return to the lineup. When the team announced that Fitzpatrick would be starting today’s game, they partly attributed the decision to the fact that Winston had had less than a week of practice under his belt. Koetter had previously said the coaching staff would reevaluate the quarterback position during the upcoming bye week.

While Fitzpatrick may have won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award following his performance in the Bucs’ first two games, it’s sounding like he’ll probably be riding the pine when the Bucs return to the field in Week 6.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals TE Tyler Eifert Carted Off Field

UPDATE: Eifert suffered a broken ankle and will undergo surgery, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). It will end the tight end’s season.

Tyler Eifert‘s hopes for a comeback season took a major hit on Sunday afternoon. The Bengals tight end suffered a lower right leg injury during today’s game against the Falcons. D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution described the injury as “horrific” while NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that it was “gruesome.”

The tight end had hauled in four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown up to that point, and he was injured following a tackle by Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell. Eifert was ultimately carted off the field with his right ankle in an aircast. Dr. David J. Chao (otherwise known as the Pro Football Doc) tweets that the injury is a definite season-ender, and it will require surgery. However, Chao cautions that the injury can’t be attributed to Eifert’s continuous injury issues, and he doesn’t believe it will end the 28-year-old’s career.

It’s a tough blow for Eifert, who has continually battled injury problems throughout his career. Since the beginning of the 2014 season, the tight end has missed 40 total regular season games, and he’s struggled through back, ankle, and elbow ailments. The former first-rounder had appeared in the Bengals’ first three games this season, hauling in 11 receptions for 141 yards. His best season came back in 2015, when he caught 13 touchdowns in 13 games.

Assuming Eifert is out for the foreseeable future, the Bengals will be forced to lean on their other tight ends. C.J. Uzomah will continue to sit atop the depth chart, and the team could also turn to Tyler Kroft and Mason Schreck.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Seahawks RB Chris Carson

When Seahawks running back Chris Carson appeared on the injury report with a hip injury earlier this week, it was assumed he’d be fine for today’s matchup against the Cardinals. However, Carson apparently had some kind of setback, as the team announced that the running back will be inactive for the contest.

This is a tough blow for a Seahawks team that’s struggled offensively this season. Carson has been one of the offense’s lone bright spots through three weeks, compiling 177 rushing yards and one score on 45 carries. He’s also added another five receptions for 50 yards. The team will now have to rely on first-rounder Rashaad Penny, who has collected 43 rushing yards on 20 carries. The team is also rostering Mike Davis and C.J. Prosise, who is active despite being listed as doubtful.

While the Seahawks are losing one major offensive weapon, they’ll be welcoming back another one. Doug Baldwin is set to return to the Seahawks after missing the past two games with a knee injury. He’ll likely slide to the top of the receivers depth chart ahead of Brandon Marshall and Tyler Lockett.

The rest of the Seahawks’ inactives include defensive end Dion Jordan, linebacker K.J. Wright, safety Shalom Luani, defensive end Rasheem Green, offensive guard Ethan Pocic, and wideout Keenan Reynolds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Actively Shopping Le’Veon Bell; Eagles, 49ers Interested

Last week, reports that the Steelers were listening to trade offers for running back Le’Veon Bell became the latest development in the long and winding Bell saga. Today, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) reports that Pittsburgh is actively shopping Bell and is not simply waiting on calls from rival clubs.

In addition to the obvious complications to finalizing a Bell trade — which Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk laid out again today — Rapoport says that the Steelers’ asking price is reportedly too high for other teams at the moment. RapSheet indicates that Pittsburgh is currently asking for a second-round pick and a player in exchange for Bell, which another club is almost certainly not going to give up. Bell’s talent doubtlessly merits such a return, but the fact that he will effectively be a one-year rental — and an expensive rental at that — will limit what the Steelers can get in a Bell swap.

Right now, however, it appears that Pittsburgh is not in any rush to lower its demands. As Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports points out, the trade deadline is still a month away, and the Steelers are currently willing to let the market develop. La Canfora adds that the Jets and 49ers have made “exploratory calls” to Pittsburgh, though San Francisco’s interest in Bell may no longer be very high after the team lost starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the season.

The Eagles, though, are also interested, per La Canfora. The Eagles are obvious contenders and have suffered a number of injuries to their backfield that could prompt the ever-aggressive Howie Roseman to get creative in his push for back-to-back titles. Philadelphia would of course need to clear some cap space in order to acquire Bell, but there are ways to do that (like jettisoning backup QB Nick Foles).

La Canfora writes that the Steelers would be willing to deal one disgruntled star for another by sending Bell to the Seahawks in exchange for safety Earl Thomas, but there has been no contact between Pittsburgh and Seattle at this point.

Indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that no team has been aggressive in pursuing Bell thus far. That jibes with a tweet from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who says that there is minimal trade buzz surrounding Bell at the moment.

Schefter also notes that, the longer Bell stays away from the Steelers, the more he could lose on his 2019 pay. For instance, if any team were to use the transition tag on Bell next season, the tag number would be 120 percent of this season’s salary, so the more 2018 game checks Bell misses out on, the lower the tag number would be. Of course, Bell could appeal such a matter to an arbitrator, but his holdout is becoming riskier with each passing week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.