Jimmy Garoppolo Not Yet Cleared From Foot Fracture

12:04pm: This unexpected delay stems from another surgery. Garoppolo spent months rehabbing his injured left foot but underwent surgery in March, Vic Tafur and Tashan Reed of The Athletic report (subscription required). While Garoppolo’s recovery timetable is unknown, this certainly explains why he is unavailable to start the Raiders’ on-field offseason work.

11:19am: Jimmy Garoppolo has failed to finish three of his past five seasons. The five-plus-year 49ers starter sustained his most recent injury — a fractured foot — in early December. The Raiders are not planning to rush him back.

The new Raiders quarterback has not yet received full clearance to return from the Jones fracture he suffered last season, per Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Josh McDaniels said Thursday the team has planned for this slow buildup, though Garoppolo may not take part in any on-field work until training camp (Twitter links).

Everything that’s happened since we signed Jimmy, we knew ahead of time,” McDaniels said. “… Certainly had an awareness of all of it. Our preference is not to push it and rush anybody back at this point in time.”

This news comes a few months after reports surfaced about Garoppolo potentially being able to return for a 49ers Super Bowl LVII appearance. Brock Purdy‘s UCL tear shut down those prospects quickly, and Garoppolo would have been in line to return as a backup in that instance. Caution makes sense for the Raiders regarding Garoppolo, given his extensive injury past, but it is a bit surprising he would need to be held out until training camp.

The Raiders gave Garoppolo a three-year, $72.75MM deal and, despite meeting with the draft’s top five quarterback prospects, did not select a QB on the first two days. The team added former McDaniels charge Brian Hoyer and used a fourth-round pick on Aidan O’Connell. Garoppolo being out of the mix until late summer would allow his backups more work, but he has not endured a setback in his recovery, McDaniels said. The Raiders are expecting the 10th-year veteran to be ready to begin the season on time.

Garoppolo needing additional offseason recovery time represents familiar territory. He was in this boat last year, after undergoing shoulder surgery. Garoppolo’s March 2022 procedure effectively squashed his trade prospects, leading to an agreement to stay in San Francisco. The 49ers turned out to need their longtime passer, with Trey Lance going down in Week 2. Garoppolo kept the reins until his Jones fracture during a Dec. 4 game against the Dolphins.

In the days immediately following Garoppolo’s foot injury, uncertainty emerged regarding a potential late-season return. Kyle Shanahan did not express much optimism Garoppolo would come back, but the 49ers did not place him on IR. Reportedly facing a seven- or eight-week recovery timetable, Garoppolo did not undergo surgery and rehabbed for a possible return. The veteran passer did not make it back to practice in the final days of his Bay Area stay, and it appears he will have more time than expected before returning to full on-field work.

The Raiders ended their nine-season Derek Carr partnership in February and guaranteed Garoppolo $33.75MM in March. While Carr delivered a middling run as the Silver and Black’s starter, he did offer durability. Garoppolo does not. Counting the 49ers’ three playoff games in January, the 31-year-old passer has missed 33 games due to injury since suffering an ACL tear in September 2018. Garoppolo played every game for the Super Bowl LIV-bound 49ers team a year later but suffered an ankle injury that shortened his 2020 season to six games. San Francisco’s starter battled calf, thumb and shoulder maladies in 2021, needing two surgeries coming out of that season.

AFC East Notes: Pats, Dolphins, Hamlin, Bills

The Patriots will join the list of teams to lose OTA days due to minor violations. The NFL docked the Pats two OTA sessions, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. New England did not practice Wednesday and will see another of its sessions nixed next week. The violation is believed to stem from the NFLPA expressing concern about the Pats’ meeting schedule. A 15-minute special teams meeting appearing on the team’s internal schedule was deemed mandatory in nature, and not voluntary, by the union, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. Bill Belichick incurred a $50K fine, Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal tweets, noting Joe Judge was involved in the violation as well (Twitter links). Pats players were aware they were being asked to stay longer than allowed, per veteran reporter Mike Giardi (on Twitter), with Reiss adding the team was fully cooperative with the NFL inquiry.

While on-field contact has triggered these penalties at various points in the recent past, the Pats’ violation is believed to pertain to only the meeting issue. This punishment certainly can be interpreted as steep for the reported infraction, though the NFLPA made reduced offseason work a key component during the 2011 and 2020 CBA talks.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Austin Jackson is back at work for the Dolphins, per the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, participating in OTA sessions after undergoing reconstructive ankle surgery (Twitter link). Jackson did not undergo surgery upon initially injury his ankle — in Week 1 — as Miami’s starting right tackle attempted to return in Week 12. Jackson played 70 offensive snaps in that December game but did not suit up again last season. The Dolphins said before the draft they are planning to give Jackson another shot as their top right tackle, though they subsequently passed on his fifth-year option.
  • Miami did not draft a tackle, but the team did add ex-New England starter Isaiah Wynn. The former first-rounder is working at multiple positions during OTAs, Mike McDaniel said (via Jackson). League rules prohibit media from reporting which positions Wynn is playing, but the former Patriots left tackle did play guard for three seasons at Georgia. Wynn has spent most of his NFL time at left tackle and struggled on the right side following a 2022 position switch. The Dolphins have Terron Armstead locked in at left tackle, but the ex-Saints blocker has run into numerous injury issues during his career. He missed four games last season. Wynn’s Dolphins path could feature a starting right tackle role, a spot as the team’s swingman or potentially a guard gig. Left guard Liam Eichenberg has not solidified his position like right guard Robert Hunt has.
  • Damar Hamlin has made remarkable strides in his recovery and is fully expected to resume his career this season. But the Bills are playing it cautiously. Hamlin received full clearance to return and has worked out with teammates this offseason, but The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia notes the third-year safety is not yet participating in OTAs (Twitter link). Hamlin’s progress continues to be a situation to monitor in Buffalo, considering the historically rare circumstances he encountered after making a routine tackle in January.
  • A year after re-signing Matt Milano, the Bills let Tremaine Edmunds walk in free agency. The five-year starting linebacker signed a monster Bears contract and left a hole in the Bills’ lineup. Buffalo is likely to look in-house to replace Edmunds, with WGRZ’s Vic Carucci indicating Tyrel Dodson and 2022 third-round pick Terrel Bernard will compete for the middle ‘backer job. A former UDFA, Dodson made three starts last year. He played 220 defensive snaps. Starting one game as a rookie, Bernard played 110. The Bills also brought back veteran A.J. Klein, who has 82 starts on his resume (16 with Buffalo), in April.

Patriots To Sign TE Anthony Firkser

Two months after trading Jonnu Smith to the Falcons, the Patriots will pick up one of Atlanta’s recent tight ends. Anthony Firkser agreed to terms with New England on Thursday, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets.

This will mark a Massachusetts return for Firkser, a Harvard alum, and another ex-Titan tight end to join the Patriots. After Tennessee let Smith walk in 2021, the team turned to Firkser as a replacement option. With Smith now in Atlanta, New England will see what Firkser has to offer alongside Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki.

Firkser, 28, spent four seasons with the Titans before rejoining ex-Tennessee tight ends coach Arthur Smith in Atlanta. Despite Kyle Pitts going down with a season-ending injury midway through last year, Firkser did not make much of a statistical impact with the Falcons. He is coming off a nine-catch, 100-yard season. Pro Football Focus did grade Firkser as one of the top pass-protecting tight ends last year, but he only played 148 offensive snaps in Atlanta.

The Falcons added Firkser on a one-year deal worth just $1.2MM in 2022, bringing him in to replace Hayden Hurst. Atlanta did not feature a high-octane passing attack, preferring to lean on the ground game as Marcus Mariota started 13 games before rookie Desmond Ridder finished the year. Firkser fared a bit better in Tennessee, totaling 387 receiving yards in 2020 and 291 in 2021.

The Pats were able to land Gesicki — a 2022 franchise tag recipient — one a one-year deal worth just $4.5MM. Henry is going into Year 3 of a three-year, $37.5MM contract. The Pats have not quite received what they’d hoped when they splurged for Henry and Smith in 2021, but this year’s edition features plenty of experience. Henry is going into his eighth NFL season; Gesicki and Firkser each are entering their sixth years.

Jaguars Sign K Brandon McManus

It did not take long for Brandon McManus to find a new home. The longtime Broncos kicker reached an agreement to join the Jaguars. The Jags announced the deal Thursday.

While Denver has enjoyed kicker stability over the past decade, Jacksonville has cycled through several options at the position in recent years. The defending AFC South champions will now add an experienced specialist. The Jags waived kicker Riley Patterson to make room on their roster.

McManus, 31, called his Broncos release an “absolute shock,” per Denver7’s Troy Renck. He will rebound quickly, with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com noting this is a one-year Jaguars agreement (Twitter links). McManus will bring nine years’ experience as an NFL kicker, having taken over for Matt Prater in Denver in 2014. While Jacksonville will not offer the altitude advantage Denver provides kickers, the former Super Bowl-winning specialist will move to a team in better position to contend.

The Broncos had extended McManus on a four-year, $17.2MM deal before the 2020 season. Although two years remained on that contract, Sean Payton continues to make special teams changes with his new team. This marks a major change for Denver, which has only used three primary kickers (McManus, Prater, Jason Elam) since 1993. Patterson ended up lasting only one season as Jacksonville’s kicker.

Although McManus served as Denver’s kicker for a lengthy stretch, he is coming off his most inaccurate season since 2017. The former UDFA made just 77.8% of his field goals last season. While one of those was a 64-yard try at sea level — via Nathaniel Hackett‘s bizarre Week 1 decision that began an odd Broncos season — McManus missed four other attempts from beyond 50 yards and two from inside 40 yards. McManus did make eight 50-plus-yard field goal tries last season, marking the second-most of his career. He connected on 10 such attempts in 2020.

McManus served as a significant contributor to the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50-winning season. As Peyton Manning‘s injury-accelerated decline hit in full force in 2015, McManus went 10-for-10 on field goal tries during the playoffs. That included three Super Bowl makes. While the Broncos have largely struggled since that night, McManus represented the most consistent presence on the roster. He will now attempt to carve out a multiyear role with a second NFL employer.

Whereas the Broncos employed McManus since 2014, the Jaguars have used eight kickers in just the past three seasons. Patterson brought stability, after a six-kicker 2020 and multi-kicker 2021. The Jags brought in Patterson as a waiver claim just before last season, adding the young kicker shortly after the Lions waived him. Patterson made 85.7% of his field goal tries last year and was 36 of 37 on extra points. While Patterson only made three kicks from beyond 50 yards, that came on three attempts.

Steelers To Sign OLB Markus Golden

While Bud Dupree left his Pittsburgh visit without a deal, the Steelers are not letting Markus Golden do the same. The veteran edge rusher met with the team today and intends to sign, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The sides agreed on a one-year contract. This comes two-plus months after the Cardinals cut ties with Golden, who enjoyed two stints in Arizona. The ninth-year outside linebacker will now be positioned to work as a rotational rusher behind starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.

This signing gives the Steelers four pass rushers who have totaled a double-digit sack season. Altogether, this quartet — Watt, Highsmith, Golden, Cameron Heyward — has combined for 11 such seasons. Golden has contributed three over the course of his career, the most recent coming in 2021 (11 sacks). While Golden did not approach that total last season, he displayed similar pressure numbers by totaling more quarterback hits (20) than he did in 2021 (19).

Golden is heading into his age-32 season, making this signing similar to the Melvin Ingram addition of 2021. The Steelers will obviously hope this turns out better. They ended up trading a disgruntled Ingram to Kansas City, where he closed out his age-32 season. Golden has a more productive recent past compared to Ingram at this point in their respective careers.

Consistency has eluded Golden, however. The former second-round pick surged to a career-best 12.5 sacks in 2016, but a 2017 ACL tear sapped that momentum. Golden did not regain his pre-surgery form in 2018, leading to the Giants taking a one-year flier during the 2019 free agency period. That bet paid off. After trading Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon in consecutive offseasons, the Giants saw Golden lead their 2019 edition in sacks (10). New York placed the rarely used UFA tender on Golden in 2020 but traded him back to Arizona that October. Golden spent the past two-plus seasons with the Cardinals, delivering up-and-down production.

With Chandler Jones out for most of the 2020 season, Golden totaled just three sacks as a Cardinal. The Cards still re-signed Golden to a two-year, $5MM deal in 2021, leading to the 11-sack showing opposite Jones. That production then led to the Cards adding a year to Golden’s deal, though the team’s new regime bailed on that extra year in March. With Jones in Las Vegas last year, Golden totaled just 2.5 sacks — his lowest number since 2017.

This Pittsburgh pact should offer Golden plenty of favorable matchups. Watt and Michael Strahan share the official single-season sack record (22.5), and Highsmith moved himself onto the extension radar with a 14.5-sack slate late year. The Steelers have not received the production they have sought from their top OLB backup in recent years; Ingram and Malik Reed each registered one sack during their respective years in Pittsburgh. (Reed, a 2022 trade acquisition, has since signed with the Dolphins.) Golden should provide a higher floor for this role, as the Steelers — the league’s sack champions from 2017-21 — aim to keep their pass rush elite.

Patrick Mahomes Addresses Contract

Patrick Mahomes‘ contract has come up a few times this year, and once Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert are extended, the issue figures to be a regular talking point. The most accomplished of the league’s current wave of 20-something quarterbacks has been passed over several times now, with no QB yet to follow Mahomes’ 10-year extension blueprint.

That 10-year, $450MM deal drew scrutiny in the moment, tying the game’s biggest star to a team for 12 seasons. Nine remain on the Chiefs quarterback’s contract. A rumor earlier this offseason pointed to the Chiefs restoring Mahomes as the game’s highest-paid player by Week 1. With Mahomes signed through 2031, the mechanisms of Kansas City doing so would be unusual. But the two-time MVP is not making an aggressive push for a new deal — at least not publicly.

I’ve always said I worry about legacy and winning rings more than making money at this moment,” Mahomes said, via ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “We see what’s going on around the league, but at the same time, I’ll never do anything that’s going to hurt us from keeping the great players around me. So it’s kind of teetering around that line.”

Whereas Rob Gronkowski‘s lengthy Patriots extension once gridlocked the tight end market for a stretch in the 2010s, Mahomes’ pact did not serve as a roadblock for other extension-seeking QBs. Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson have all passed Mahomes’ $45MM AAV number within three years. Teams have successfully made Watson’s fully guaranteed Browns deal an outlier, but Hurts and Jackson just signed for north of $50MM apiece on five-year re-ups. Questions about each dual-threat QB’s prime duration aside, both Jackson and Hurts may well be in position to cash in again later in the 2020s. Mahomes’ lengthy deal would, in a vacuum, not force the Chiefs’ hand.

Then again, GM Brett Veach said earlier this offseason the team would reexamine Mahomes’ contract once Burrow and Herbert signed. Seeing as not to enter a dispute with the biggest star in franchise history, the Chiefs would seem unlikely to refuse a renegotiation.

You just want to do whatever to not hurt other quarterbacks [financially],” Mahomes said. “Whenever their contracts come up, you want to keep the bar pushing [higher]. It’s not about being the highest-paid guy; it’s not about making a ton of money. I’ve made enough money where I’ll be set for the rest of my life. But at the same time, you got to find that line where you’re making a good amount of money but you’re still keeping a lot of great players around you so you can win these Super Bowls and you’re able to compete in these games.”

When Mahomes signed his extension in July 2020, he passed Wilson’s AAV lead by $10MM and only did so because he signed off on the unusual term length. While the Chiefs included a rolling guarantee structure that locks in money a year out, Mahomes will likely soon see his deal trail the game’s salary leader by more than $10MM. Burrow or Herbert ending up at $55MM per year or beyond that point is not difficult to envision.

But the team-friendly deals Mahomes and Travis Kelce accepted in 2020 allowed the Chiefs to extend Chris Jones. The All-Pro defensive tackle has maintained top form and is now in a contract year again. The Chiefs, who passed on paying Tyreek Hill top-market money and let the Patriots outbid them for JuJu Smith-Schuster, will also have second-round standouts Creed Humphrey and Nick Bolton in contract years in 2024. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed became extension-eligible in January, though the Chiefs have avoided paying corners for most of the Andy Reid era.

If you look at the greats in the league, they find that right spot where they’re getting paid a lot of money but at the same time keeping a lot of these great players around,” Mahomes said. “… I understand you look at the team and you’ve got guys like Chris and Sneed and even Travis — all these guys that you need to keep around you to have these great teams. But at the same time, you want to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.”

Not all the QBs around the league have operated this way; Mahomes doing so has certainly aided the Chiefs. With the two-time Super Bowl champion not exactly shutting down the idea of a renegotiated deal, this will be a key NFL storyline as the Bengals and Chargers navigate their respective negotiations.

Free Agent RB Adrian Peterson Not ‘Officially’ Retired

After 15 straight years of running back Adrian Peterson in the NFL, 2022 was a season with him. Not only was he not playing football in 2022, he was actually participating in another sport, boxing another former NFL running back in Le’Veon Bell. Despite not appearing in a game last year and having just turned 38 years old, Peterson is not quite ready to officially hang up his cleats, according to Clarence E Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Many assumed that a torn meniscus and sprained LCL that limited him to three games in 2016 was the beginning of the end for Peterson. He had undoubtedly been an all-time great running back over the first 10 years of his career, but running back careers notoriously do not last long and a season-ending injury in a contract year didn’t bode well for the then-31-year-old.

After a down 2017 season that saw him bounce from the Saints to the Cardinals, Peterson showed that he still had plenty of tread on the tires with a couple strong seasons in Washington. He was no longer a threat to lead the league in rushing yards, as he had done three times before, but he surpassed 1,000 scrimmage yards during both of his seasons in DC.

Peterson struggled for a bit in 2021 as the Lions’ leading rusher and then tried to stick on the Titans’ and Seahawks’ rosters the following year with little success. Inching closer to 40 years old while declining in production was making it hard to keep one of the NFL’s greatest career rushing performances going.

Just after the 2021 season, Peterson was arrested for a domestic violence incident but didn’t end up facing charges. Reports from both him and his wife declined that there was any physical violence, but the incident still may have played a factor in his struggles to find a roster spot this past season.

At the boxing match with Bell, Peterson addressed his future, claiming that boxing may be his way forward but that he was “waiting for that next opportunity to present itself.” He teased a retirement announcement in March but, ultimately, decided that no announcement will be made this season.

“Mentallly, I haven’t officially hung it up,” Peterson told the media. We’ll see what happens. My mindset is, if God’s willing, maybe an opportunity presents itself, and maybe it happens this season…but (if) nothing happens this season, for sure, I will be hanging it up.”

Statistically, Peterson is currently fifth all-time in rushing yards. 82 more yards will push him over the 15,000-rushing yards mark. He would need only 351 yards to pass Barry Sanders for fourth all-time, but he would need 1,082 to reach Frank Gore‘s 16,000 and nearly 3,500 more to top the list altogether. That’s certainly some incentive to return for at least one more season, but if not, Peterson’s likely Hall of Fame career is nothing to scoff at.

Falcons FB Keith Smith Arrested

Falcons fullback Keith Smith is currently dealing with a legal issue and has been arrested in Atlanta today, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The arrest is linked to a previous driving incident and appears to be the result of a miscommunication.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Smith had previously received a speeding ticket earlier this year. Smith informed the team of the infraction and paid the ticket, believing that to be the end of things.

Smith’s agent, AJ Vaynerchuk, claims that there was a miscommunication with the resolution of the ticket, and though they both thought the situation had been dealt with, Smith’s driver license had been unknowingly suspended. When Smith was pulled over today for an expired registration, the officer saw that his license had been suspended, resulting in Smith’s arrest.

The situation seems to be fairly straightforward. Whether it’s determined that Smith was, in fact, in the dark or that he knowingly drove with a suspended license, his NFL status will likely only be affected by his legal status.

Former Bengals RB Jeremy Hill Retires

Nine years after his NFL debut in Cincinnati, running back Jeremy Hill has reportedly retired from football, announcing the move on his Instagram account yesterday. Hill had refused to give up on a return to the NFL despite not having appeared in a game since Week 1 of the 2018 season, but nearly five years after that final appearance, he’s finally ready to hang up his cleats.

Hill showed immediate promise as a second-round rookie out of LSU, surpassing 1,000 rushing yards as a rookie. Despite having to split carries with Giovani Bernard, a second-round pick in the prior year, Hill earned a consistent workshare in each of his first three seasons as Cincinnati gave him 222, 223, and 222 rush attempts in 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively. Over that period, Hill rewarded them with 2,757 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns.

In 2017, the final year of Hill’s rookie contact, he began to lose carries to the team’s newest second-round running back, Joe Mixon. With Mixon starting to take the driver’s seat, Hill’s role lessened up until the point in the year when an ankle injury landed him on injured reserve after seven games, ending his season. That injury was the beginning of the end for Hill.

The next year, Hill signed with the Patriots as a free agent on a one-year deal. After a preseason battle with Mike Gillislee, Hill won the RB3-spot behind Rex Burkhead and James White. Unfortunately, Hill would tear his ACL in the third quarter of his first game for New England, ending what would be the last season of his career.

After a year removed from the sport, Hill was able to earn a contract with the Raiders after working out with the Lions and Titans, as well. Less than a week later, though, the Raiders moved on from Hill, satisfied with their depth of Josh Jacobs, Devontae Booker, Jalen Richard, and Rod Smith. Despite only being 27 years old at the time, teams stopped calling on Hill. He announced that he would get back on the field by entering the XFL draft last November but never landed with a team.

In the Instagram post, Hill cites the fateful ACL injury as the key reason that he will no longer pursue professional football as a career. It truly marked the beginning of the end of a career that began with so much promise before fizzling out due to injuries.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/24/23

The NFL’s mid- to late-round draft pick signings for today:

Indianapolis Colts

New England Patriots

Adebawore was a three-year starter for the Wildcats, functioning mostly as a defensive end in Evanston. Over his final two years at Northwestern, he totaled 9.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, and four passes deflected. He isn’t a pure pass rusher or run stopper, but with explosive burst and disruptive strength Adebawore should be able to compete with Taven Bryan and McTelvin Agim for snaps rotating in behind DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart.

Also a three-year starter, Andrews made the move inside from right guard to center for the Trojans as a redshirt senior. The Patriots don’t have an immediate need at center as David Andrews is under contract for another two years. The long-time Patriots’ starting center will be 32 when his contract expires, perhaps opening the door for the rookie Andrews to take over after a couple of years of development. In the meantime, Andrews’s experience at both guard and center provides New England with some depth along the interior offensive line.

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