Month: May 2020

PFR Originals: 5/18/20 – 5/24/20

In case you missed it, here’s a look at some of our faves from the past week:

NFL Exec: We’re Planning For Full Stadiums

The NFL is “planning to have full stadiums” in the fall, league executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent says. Still, the league will yield to professionals and government restrictions before opening up the gates.

[RELATED: NY To Allow Training Camps]

We are planning to have full stadiums until the medical community tells us otherwise,” Vincent told The Team 980 (transcription via NBC Sports). “Now, remember when we’re talking — we’re talking about September, August, September. So there’s a lot that can happen here. So we’re planning for full stadiums.”

Vincent went on to explain that the league has contingencies in place for multiple scenarios. That could include “half stadiums,” and stadiums that are filled to just “three-quarters” capacity. Games could still be played without fans in attendance, of course, but it’s a major shift in tone from what we were hearing just a few short weeks ago.

The NFL could still rake in considerable revenue without fans, thanks to their TV contracts, but gate attendance still accounts for billions of dollars league-wife. If it’s feasible and safe for fans to fill the seats, Vincent says the league will find a way to make it happen.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York To Allow Training Camp For Pro Sports Teams, Effective Today

Effective today, professional sports teams will be permitted to being training camps in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Field Yates). Naturally, teams will also have to follow appropriate health protocols, Cuomo says. 

[RELATED: Latest On College Football’s Plans]

Cuomo’s announcement gives the Bills the greenlight to hold training camp in Pittsford, NY on the campus of St. John Fisher College. This also opens up a potential avenue for the Jets and Giants, who ordinarily hold their camps in Florham Park and East Rutherford, New Jersey, respectively. For the last couple of months, teams in hotspot states like New York, New Jersey, and California have been weighing alternate sites in states that have lifted their restrictions. If New Jersey continues to stay on lockdown, the two Meadowlands teams may see a move to New York as an easier and more cost effective solution.

On the whole, it’s an encouraging sign for the NFL, professional sports, and the country as a whole. Soon, we could see restrictions eased in even more NFL-hosting states.

Starting June 1, the NCAA will allow voluntary activities for Division I football and basketball. The NFL is moving in a similar direction and plans to play things by ear, in accordance with their phase-by-phase program.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Stanford Head Coach David Shaw Won’t Pursue NFL Job

David Shaw has been connected to NFL head coaching vacancies for years. He’ll likely continue to draw interest from pro teams, but Shaw tells Mike Tirico of NBC Sports that he’s staying on campus. 

Stanford’s not a place you just go through, do a good job and jump out of here,” Shaw said (via PFT). “That’s not the way I see this job…I love being at Stanford because I get the brightest guys, I get the most competitive guys on and off the field. I still tell people I write more recommendations than any football coach in America for graduate school, for job opportunities. I’ve helped guys get to the point where they’re starting their own companies. That doesn’t happen on any other campus other than ours, so I love the energy. I love the passion. Not to mention we’re coming off a pretty darn good decade and ready to start the next decade on a high note also.”

Shaw, 48 in July, spent several years as an NFL assistant with the Eagles, Raiders, and Ravens before going back to school in 2006 with the University of San Diego. In 2007, he joined the Stanford staff and he was promoted to head coach in 2011. That’s where he’s been ever since, despite repeated head coaching inquiries from NFL clubs.

At Stanford, Shaw has enjoyed an 86-34 record, including a 58-22 mark in conference play. The National Championship has eluded him and his program is coming off of a 4-8 season – his worst showing ever – but Shaw says he’s staying put.

The Redskins were the most recent club to try and pull Shaw back to the NFL, expressing interest in him late last year before hiring Ron Rivera.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Not Interested In Trading For Jets’ Jamal Adams?

The Cowboys aren’t currently interested in trading for Jets star Jamal Adams, Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com tweets. The Cowboys have long been connected to Adams, but it sounds like they’re skittish about coughing up significant draft capital and a market-resetting extension for the standout safety.

[RELATED: Jets, Joe Flacco Agree To Deal]

The Jets and Adams have had a drama-filled year, but things have mellowed between the two sides. They’ve been discussing an extension for the last few months and GM Joe Douglas has gone out of his way to publicly praixse the two-time Pro Bowler.

“[Adams] was a big reason I was excited about coming here,” Douglas said in April. “I feel this guy is a core player. The main goal that I’m trying to do right now is to surround him with like-minded players, because we know Jamal is a dog.”

There’s no “animosity” between Adams and Gang Green, but the 24-year-old (25 in October) remains “open” to a trade, Watkins hears. That’s not a huge surprise – Adams is currently set to earn $7.1MM in 2020 and $9.86MM in 2021, via the fifth-year option. After that, the Jets could cuff him via the franchise tag at least once, possibly twice, and, theoretically (but not realistically) three times. As one of the league’s premier safeties with youth on his side, Adams is understandably antsy to get his payday.

Adams’ camp is likely eyeing a contract that would push him ahead of Eddie Jackson‘s recent deal with the Bears, a four-year, $58.4MM pact to lead the league in average annual value at safety. Jackson also landed $33MM in guarantees, representing more than 50% of the deal’s total value.

From a football perspective, the Cowboys would obviously love to have Adams, but that would require a breakdown in talks and a serious slashing of the Jets’ asking price. At one point, Douglas was reportedly seeking a first round pick, plus two second-round picks in exchange.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets’ Joe Flacco Cleared To Start Throwing

New Jets quarterback Joe Flacco has been medically cleared to start throwing again, according to Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter).  The team also believes that the veteran will be on course for contact by early September. In the meantime, he’ll be able to toss the ball and prepare for the 2020 season.

[RELATED: Cowboys Not Interested In Jamal Adams?]

The Jets inked Flacco to a one-year deal on Friday, bringing him in as a veteran backstop to starter Sam Darnold. Flacco will be at the ready in case Darnold misses more time and he also figures to serve as a mentor to the soon-t0-be 23-year-old. Earlier in his career, Darnold had a similar dynamic with Josh McCown.

The Jets’ first choice for the QB2 role was Andy Dalton, but the Cowboys beat them to the punch. After that, Flacco stood as the most attractive option. Or, at least, the most attractive and realistic option. Cam Newton is still waiting for the right opportunity and he would have cost significantly more than Flacco. The ex-Broncos QB and former Ravens star signed on for just $1.5MM, though performance bonuses could take him up to $4.5MM. Outside of those notables, May’s free agent QB market included the likes of Blake Bortles, Drew Stanton, 2019 Jet Trevor Siemian, and Matt Moore, who was not high on their list despite his relationship with head coach Adam Gase.

With Flacco in the fold, the Jets will have some decisions to make in the QB room. Currently, they have David Fales, fourth-round pick James Morgan, and former Cowboys Day 3 pick Mike White on the roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Cowboys, Dak Prescott

The Cowboys and Dak Prescott might not be as far apart as previously believed. For months, we’ve been hearing that Prescott is aiming for a two or three-year deal while the Cowboys wanted something more traditional – likely five or six years. Instead, the quarterback is seeking a four-year deal while the Cowboys are pitching five years, according to one source who spoke with Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News (on Twitter).

[RELATED: Latest On Cowboys’ Randy Gregory]

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the previous talk of Prescott wanting a two or three year deal was inaccurate. It’s possible that the current climate has changed Prescott’s views on potential open market upside versus long-term security. With a longer contract, Prescott can secure more in effective guarantees as well as guaranteed dollars at signing. Either way, it now seems like the Cowboys and their franchise QB are inching closer to a deal as the July 15th deadline approaches. They might not be on the same page, but they’re at least on the same chapter.

Prescott reportedly (and, naturally) wants to top Russell Wilson‘s league-leading $35MM average annual value. The Cowboys are hoping to hold the line and retain him at a lower rate, but any multi-year deal will have to wind up in that ballpark. If they can’t come to terms before the mid-June deadline, Prescott will earn $31.4MM in 2020 while remaining on course for free agency in ’21.

The Cowboys could franchise tag Prescott all over again next year, but that would leave them perilously thin everywhere else. Next year’s tag would call for a 20% raise over this year’s tag, which comes out to about $37.7MM. A third tag? That’d be a 44% jump – more than $54MM.

If the Cowboys want to stay in business with Prescott for the long haul, they’ll have to get something done sooner rather than later. And, if they can’t come to terms in the next few weeks, they’ll risk Prescott’s price jumping astronomically.

The latest news indicates that the Cowboys will hash things out by 6/15. History also suggests that a deal will get done. As Ed Werder of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter), seven of the league’s last ten franchise-tagged quarterbacks have agreed to multi-year deals before the deadline.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

200+ NFL Draft Picks Remain Unsigned

We’re one month removed from the start of the 2020 NFL Draft and more than 200 of the league’s draft picks have yet to sign their contracts, as PFR’s NFL Draft tracker shows. To be exact, there are 207 stragglers and 48 signed, out of 255 picks. 

Thanks to the modern NFL’s draft slotting system, rookie deals are mostly a formality. Still, that’s an atypical amount of unsigned players for the ~30 day mark. In 2016, for example, there were only about 50 unsigned rookies by 5/24.

Obviously, the pandemic has complicated matters and changed the normal course of operation. As team facilities begin to open up and more states lift restrictions, we’ll see more draft picks sign their deals. It could be a while before we see some of this year’s top draft picks put pen to paper, however. No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow recently raised some eyebrows when he indicated that it could take months for his deal to be finalized.

The uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season has left teams concerned about their finances. In Burrow’s case, he’s set to collect a $24MM bonus from the Bengals. With cash flow concerns, teams are skittish about taking the plunge before necessary.

This year’s rookie class could drag longer than most, but, ultimately it should be business as usual – especially since first-round picks are not expected to put up a fight over offsets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Lists Colin Kaepernick As Retired, Changes Him Back To Free Agent

This week, the NFL redesigned its website and designated Colin Kaepernick as “retired” on his player page. Kaepernick’s girlfriend Nessa took notice and at-mentioned the league in a tweet on Friday. But, on Saturday morning, the league updated Kaep’s page to show that he is a UFA (an unrestricted free agent).

[RELATED: Checking In On Eric Reid]

Kaepernick did not retire from professional football, but it’s hard to see him getting another opportunity in the NFL at this point. The quarterback will turn 33 in November and he hasn’t played in more than three years – his last live snap was on January 1, 2017.

Late last year, the league organized an open workout for Kaepernick, which took the entire football world by surprise. The planned audition caught Kaepernick off-guard, too – they didn’t give much notice to the longtime 49ers star, and he responded by no-showing the showcase at the Falcons’ facility and holding his own personal combine at a different location in Georgia. The NFL’s original workout reportedly would have seen executives from 25 teams in attendance. At the new location, attendance was sparse.

Afterwards, Kaepernick’s camp sent footage of the workout to all 32 teams. There were no bites, and it’s hard to imagine that his chances of landing a deal have improved. Still, Kaepernick says he wants to return to the NFL.

My desire to play football is still there,” Kaepernick said in February. “I still train five days a week. I’m ready to go, I’m ready for a phone call, tryout, workout at any point in time. I’m still waiting on the owners and their partners to stop running from this situation. So I hope I get a call this offseason. I’ll be looking forward to it.

In the meantime, Kaepernick says he will continue his initiatives for social justice. Later this year, he’ll release a memoir in conjunction with Audible.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks To Sign RB Carlos Hyde

The Seahawks are moving fast. Shortly after a report surfaced of a final offer going out to Devonta Freeman, the Seahawks will pivot to Carlos Hyde. The six-year veteran agreed to terms with the team Friday afternoon, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com report (via Twitter).

With Rashaad Penny‘s status uncertain, the Seahawks moved aggressively to bring in a veteran this week. They offered Freeman a deal that would have paid him $3MM in base value, with another $1MM available via incentives, but the longtime Falcons starter didn’t bite. Instead, Hyde will soon head west on a deal that will pay him up to $4MM, per Rapoport (on Twitter). It is not yet certain if the base value for Hyde — who also surfaced as a Seahawks target this week — will equal what Seattle offered Freeman.

Hyde is coming off his first 1,000-yard season. Since his 49ers exit, though, the former second-round pick has not enjoyed much stability. Hyde signed with the Browns in free agency in 2018, but the team traded him to the Jaguars. Jacksonville cut bait after the ’18 season, leading Hyde to the Chiefs. Kansas City then traded him to Houston, where he became the Texans’ primary ground-game option.

Despite a low-end contract, Hyde reeled off 1,070 yards (4.4 per carry) and six touchdowns. While Hyde has just one 1,000-yard season, he compiled back-to-back 900-plus-yard campaigns with the 2016 and ’17 49ers. Hyde turned down a Texans offer earlier this year.

The Seahawks still appear intent on keeping Chris Carson as their primary back, despite the fumbling troubles that plagued him last season, and invested a first-round pick in Penny two years ago. But they now have some insurance in Hyde, who will turn 30 in September. Such insurance may be necessary. Penny starting the season on the PUP list is a concern, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com tweets.

Hyde’s decision may drive the Eagles — who were also interested in Hyde — to ramp up talks with Freeman. Both the Jets and Eagles are believed to be in the mix for Freeman.

Another piece of fallout from this deal could mean Marshawn Lynch returns to retirement. Earlier this month, Seahawks GM John Schneider said another deal with Lynch remained possible. Seattle re-signed Lynch after both Carson and Penny went down late last season. The popular Seahawk played in the team’s regular-season finale and both playoff games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.