Aaron Rodgers

NFC Notes: Dez, Seahawks, McCarthy

Saints WR Dez Bryant suffered a brutal blow when he tore his Achilles just two days after signing with the club, thereby shelving him for about eight months. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) noted that Bryant’s recovery timeline could make his 2019 foray into free agency just as complicated as his 2018 one, though RapSheet does report in a separate piece that the Saints are open to bringing Bryant back next season (which Jay Glazer of FOX Sports [video link] also hears). Rapoport also says that Saints head coach Sean Payton fully expects Bryant to continue his playing career, and that Saints players quickly got to know Bryant and were stung by the injury (Twitter link). Given that, and given that Bryant made a concerted effort to improve his route running this offseason, perhaps he will still end up playing for New Orleans.

Let’s round up a few more items from the NFC:

  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com details (via Twitter) the $500K in incentives (all tied to receptions) that were built in to Bryant’s contract with the Saints, which is obviously a moot point now. Earlier today, Schefter reported that the Saints are expected to pursue Brandon Marshall now that Bryant is on IR.
  • Rapoport writes that, when the Seahawks are sold to a new owner, the beneficiary of the transaction will be the Paul G. Allen Foundation, which consolidated the causes of recently-deceased owner Paul Allen. That means that the proceeds of the sale — which could exceed $2.5 billion — will be going to charity. As of now, Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, has taken more of a visible role in team operations, but the club is still expected to be sold (though it will remain in Seattle). Potential buyers are already preparing for the Seahawks to hit the market.
  • Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com confirms what we have been hearing for some time: that something is off in the relationship between Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy, which could lead to McCarthy’s ouster at the end of the season. McCarthy is widely perceived to be on the hot seat, though Dougherty points out that team president/CEO Mark Murphy thinks highly of McCarthy and has final say over all football matters. However, Murphy will give a great deal of credence to the opinion of new GM Brian Gutekunst when it comes to the head coach’s future with the club.
  • We learned that top decision-makers for the Giants were in attendance at the Oregon-Utah game yesterday to scout Oregon QB Justin Herbert, even though Herbert is unlikely to enter the 2019 draft. Greg Joyce of the New York Post confirms that GM Dave Gettleman was one of the attendees, along with assistant GM Kevin Abrams and West Coast scout Jeremy Breit. If Herbert changes his mind and declares for the draft, New York will certainly be in play for him.
  • We learned earlier today that the Cowboys nearly fired OC Scott Linehan during last month’s bye.

NFC Notes: Manning, Giants, Cowboys, Packers, Redskins

Plenty of people criticized the Giants’ decision to take Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick. While Barkley has been electric, many people thought the opportunity to take one of this year’s class of quarterback prospects was too good to pass up. Eli Manning has struggled mightily this year, and the Giants now have no clear succession plan. Despite not drafting a quarterback early this year, New York “believed that somehow, some way, they’d find their heir apparent somewhere down the line”, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.

Now that they might have to find that heir apparent earlier than expected, Vacchiano went through all the Giants’ options to find a quarterback of the future, including a trade before the deadline this year, free agency, and the draft. They have fourth round rookie Kyle Lauletta on the roster, and Vacchiano writes they must “absolutely take a look at him in a game this year.” One way or another, it looks like Manning’s days as the Giants’ starter are numbered.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • There’s been growing frustration with Jason Garrett as coach of the Cowboys, especially after his decision to punt the ball away on 4th & 1 in overtime last week. While owner Jerry Jones and his son Stephen have insisted, Garret’s job isn’t in danger, “there’s been buzz in league circles indicating that the Joneses may eventually set their sights on Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley”, according to Albert Breer of SI.com.
  • Aaron Rodgers recently suffered a setback with his injured knee, but is looking to avoid going back to the bulky brace he had to wear initially, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN. Rodgers re-injured the knee on a hit he took early in the Packers’ loss to the Lions last week. The game against Detroit was his first game without the large brace that made it harder for him to move around.
  • Josh Norman was benched to start the second half of the Redskins’ loss to the Saints on Monday night, and it apparently wasn’t about his play. “It was definitely something between Gruden and Norman that got a little heated and definitely not because of him getting beat in coverage”, according to John Keim of ESPN (Twitter link). Apparently Norman and coach Jay Gruden got into an altercation at halftime, and this will be an interesting situation to monitor going forward.

Latest On Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy

Packers star QB Aaron Rodgers made a few comments during his postgame press conference last week that many interpreted as a dig at his team’s coaching staff and its offensive play-calling. And Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, even though Rodgers later went out of his way to clarify those comments, he remains frustrated with the state of Green Bay’s offense and is still upset about some of the changes made to the roster and coaching staff this offseason.

Of course, last week was not the first time that Rodgers has made comments indicating his displeasure with play-calling, and now that head coach Mike McCarthy has once again taken over play-calling duties, the relationship between McCarthy and Rodgers — which has already been a hot topic of conversation in recent years — is once again under the microscope.

Indeed, La Canfora says several sources who have “regular contact” with McCarthy and Rodgers wonder if the two will be working together in 2019. Obviously, the Packers are not going to part way with Rodgers, whom they just signed to the most lucrative contract in NFL history, but the team could certainly sever ties with McCarthy, whose contract runs through the 2019 season and whose job has not been entirely secure in the last several years anyway.

But Ian Rapoport of NFL.com paints a different picture. As indicated above, there has been tension between Green Bay’s head coach and its best player before, but the two men have always been able to resolve their issues in the past, and club CEO and president Mark Murphy expects more of the same this year.

Murphy did not deny that there was some strain in the McCarthy-Rodgers relationship at the moment, but he said it was a non-issue. Murphy is in regular contact with McCarthy and has spoken with Rodgers, and he said, “We’ve seen this before. I think they’ve had a great relationship. It’s just, two highly competitive people. The most important thing, they both want the same thing — they want us to win and obviously score as many points as possible. I think it’s a very stressful environment, too. Highly pressurized.”

Murphy added that Rodgers’ knee injury, which he sustained in Week 1, is rapidly improving, which will of course be a tremendous benefit to a team that is currently 19th in the league in scoring and 17th in total offense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Rodgers, Vikings, Lions

The Vikings were not the first team that sought Dan Bailey‘s services this season. Although he’s in Minnesota now, other franchises wanted to sign the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history. Bailey agreed to terms with the Vikings on a one-year, $2MM deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). However, the 30-year-old specialist also turned down offers worth double that on multiyear deals, Rapoport adds. The Jets brought in Bailey to work out just after the Cowboys cut him, but nothing came to fruition. Gang Green may have been one of the teams that presented a better offer, but that’s not known. Nevertheless, Bailey will replace Daniel Carlson, whom Mike Zimmer said it was not difficult to cut after his performance in Minnesota’s Week 2 tie in Green Bay.

Here’s the latest out of the NFC North:

  • Aaron Rodgers did not exit the Packers‘ Week 2 game with any new discomfort on his injured left knee, Mike McCarthy said (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). Rodgers is “obviously sore,” and McCarthy does not have a read on whether his quarterback’s condition is better or worse than at this point last week. But it’s encouraging for the Packers that Rodgers didn’t sustain any additional damage while clearly playing hurt.
  • Carlson’s cut will save the Vikings $200K, though the Bailey addition will negate those savings. Only Carlson’s signing bonus ($248K), plus his base salary through two games, will count against Minnesota’s cap, per Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (on Twitter). The Vikings are up against the cap but managed to add Bailey, Aldrick Robinson and Tom Johnson in the past two days.
  • Robinson will only make the league minimum, and no guarantees exist in the soon-to-be 30-year-old wide receiver’s Vikings pact, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. The former Redskins, Falcons and 49ers pass-catcher now comprises part of the Vikes’ receiving corps. Minnesota currently has five receivers on its roster, the same amount it did prior to the Robinson signing. Stacy Coley, a 2017 seventh-rounder, was cut to make room.
  • On a busy day for workouts, the Lions brought in two veteran edge rushers who would slot in as defensive ends in their 4-3 scheme. John Simon and David Bass trekked to Detroit for Tuesday workouts, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM reports (on Twitter). A recent Colts cut, Simon already met with the 49ers and Jets since being released. A six-year veteran, Bass led Jets edge rushers in sacks last season with 3.5. Former Packers fullback Aaron Ripkowski also worked out for the Lions today, NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets. Also among the workout contingent: linebacker Tyrone Holmes, fullbacks Jalston Fowler and Jay Prosch, and tight end Donnie Ernsberger, per Balzer. Wide receiver Keon Hatcher visited with the Lions.
  • Former Jets wideout Chad Hansen was among those who auditioned for the Packers today, with Balzer tweeting Shay Fields, Korey Robertson, Taj Williams and quarterback Brogan Roback — of Hard Knocks fame — joined him.

Latest On Aaron Rodgers

After his remarkable comeback during the Packers’ season-opening win over the Bears last Sunday night, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers assured a national audience that he would be playing in Week 2. The fact that he practiced with the team yesterday all but confirmed as much, even though we also learned that the star signal-caller is still dealing with swelling in his left knee.

The situation remains generally murky. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported earlier this morning that Rodgers does not have any ligament damage, but Jay Glazer of FOX Sports tweets that Rodgers does indeed have a ligament sprain, to go along with a deep bone bruise. Rodgers also has what one of Schefter’s sources called a “pretty unusual injury that would keep most people out awhile,” which Glazer agrees with. Another of Schefter’s sources added that Rodgers probably should not have returned to the field after suffering the knee injury last week, and that he will likely be kept on a short leash as he continues to recover.

His recovery, per Schefter, could take another couple of months. Schefter says that Rodgers sustained a “compression injury from blunt force while bent,” and he will simply have to play through the pain. As we saw last week, though, even a hobbled Rodgers is still about as good of a quarterback as there is, and Green Bay has no hope of contending for a playoff spot without him.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) indicates that Rodgers will indeed play today, but that despite A-Rod’s bravado, his game status was no sure thing earlier this week, as he was “swollen and hurting.” Glazer says Rodgers is still experiencing a great deal of pain and swelling, and he is wearing a very large brace on his injured knee today. We can probably expect a lot of shotgun formations and quick passes from Rodgers for the next few weeks at least.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: Rodgers, Hawks, Linehan, Bucs

The Aaron Rodgers watch now includes a practice return. The Packers saw their best player resurface at Saturday’s practice after he’d missed all week of workouts. Although NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero points out Rodgers is still questionable (Twitter link) and the Packers will see how he looks Sunday morning, now that he’s gotten in a practice it’s a bit difficult to see the 34-year-old quarterback not suiting up Sunday against the Vikings. Swelling in Rodgers’ left knee remains an issue, per Pelissero (on Twitter), and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein tabs it as unlikely the Packers will give their centerpiece a green light if he’s still sore or experiencing swelling from Saturday’s workout. But the 14th-year passer has dealt with myriad left knee trouble at several points in his career. That said, the Vikings’ defense may be the toughest unit he faces all season; and Minnesota’s front seven will be facing a surely less mobile Rodgers than it ordinarily would.

Here’s what’s new out of the NFC going into Week 2 Sunday.

  • Bobby Wagner serves as the anchor for the Seahawks‘ front seven, having played in 42 straight games. That streak will end on Monday night after the Seahawks declared their top linebacker out for their Bears game. K.J. Wright also will not play. Wagner is battling a groin injury, while Wright is still recovering from a knee scope. Perhaps this explains the team’s need to make the controversial decision to sign Mychal Kendricks, who may face prison time after pleading guilty to insider trading. Barkevious Mingo is the only starting linebacker Seattle will have available in Chicago.
  • Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan saw increased latitude this offseason in the team’s effort to restructure its offense, with Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News writing the fourth-year Dallas OC was involved in the decisions to release Dez Bryant and move on from four offensive assistants. Linehan signed an extension in 2017 that calls for him to be paid approximately $2MM per season, George notes. This makes the Cowboys’ OC one of the NFL’s highest-paid assistants. George adds Linehan could well be on the chopping block if Dallas’ offense nosedives. The Panthers did not see much from Linehan’s unit in Week 1.
  • DeSean Jackson appears set to have another chance to face his original team. The Buccaneers wide receiver is expected to surmount concussion protocol and be on the field against the Eagles on Sunday, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Jackson had his best game as a Buccaneer last week, hauling in five passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

NFC Injury Notes: Rodgers, Falcons, Eagles

Aaron Rodgers will enter Sunday with a questionable designation on the Packers‘ injury report. The two-time MVP can improve his chances of playing, obviously, by practicing Saturday — when the Packers do more than the typical walkthrough — but not doing so won’t prevent him from playing. Mike McCarthy said he’d have no issues deploying Rodgers even if he doesn’t practice all week, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The 13th-year Green Bay coach said his quarterback feels better than he did at the beginning of the week. Despite Rodgers’ performance on Sunday against the Bears and his history of playing through left knee pain, he’s not a lock to face the Vikings.

Here’s the latest from the NFC’s injury situations.

  • Another key Falcons cog won’t be available Sunday. After the losses of Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, Atlanta won’t have the services of starting running back Devonta Freeman. He’s been declared out due to the knee injury he suffered against the Eagles. Tevin Coleman will start. The Falcons have rookie Ito Smith and recently signed Brian Hill in place as backups.
  • Once again, the Giants won’t have their top pass rusher available. While the Giants are hoping to have Olivier Vernon in Week 3, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter), his high ankle sprain will keep him out against the Cowboys.
  • Trai Turner‘s stay in Panthers concussion protocol will result in him missing this week’s game against the Falcons. He’s been declared out, putting Carolina down three starting offensive linemen — Turner and tackles Matt Kalil and Daryl Williams, both of whom residing on IR — going into its NFC South opener.
  • The already-banged-up Eagles didn’t come out of Week 1 unscathed. Darren Sproles will miss Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. The 34-year-old passing-down back sustained a hamstring injury against the Falcons. He’ll join Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery among Philadelphia’s high-profile Week 2 absences.
  • Already without IR-stationed cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the Bucs won’t have Brent Grimes available to cover Eagle wideouts, either. Tampa Bay used two second-round picks on corners, Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, and could see an extended glimpse of the rookies’ development to this point in their careers.
  • The Lions49ers game will see the visitors without top guard T.J. Lang and the hosts missing deep threat Marquise Goodwin. Both players have been declared out. Kyle Shanahan said (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, on Twitter) Dante Pettis will start in place of Goodwin.

NFC Rumors: Johnson, Rodgers, Panthers

More details on David Johnson‘s Cardinals contract are emerging. In addition to the fourth-year running back seeing $24MM in full guarantees as part of his three-year, $39MM extension, Johnson will receive a $12MM signing bonus, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). His $5.7MM base salary in 2019 is fully guaranteed. The All-Pro’s 2020 base ($10.2MM) will have $5.1MM guaranteed fully at signing, per Graziano (on Twitter), but the other half of it is guaranteed for injury only. However, Johnson’s full 2020 salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the Cardinals’ roster by March of 2019.

Each of Johnson’s next three seasons include $750K in per-game roster bonuses. As far as cap numbers go, Johnson now has a $5MM hit this season. The former third-round pick will count $9.45MM against Arizona’s 2019 cap, $13.95MM in 2020 and $11.7MM in 2021, Graziano reports (Twitter link).

Here’s the latest out of the NFC, shifting toward its most important player.

  • Aaron Rodgers missed Packers practice again on Thursday, but this wasn’t unexpected. However, Mike McCarthy said it’s no layup that his two-time MVP quarterback will play Sunday against the Vikings, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Rodgers and McCarthy said Wednesday he does not need to practice in order to start Sunday.
  • It keeps getting worse for the Panthers. After serious injuries hit Greg Olsen and Daryl Williams in Week 1, Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner is in concussion protocol, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. Both of Carolina’s starting tackles — Williams and Matt Kalil — are already on IR. Both can return after eight weeks, but at this point, it can’t be assumed both will be back. Carolina could lose a more important player to its cause. Only two players can be recalled from IR. Amini Silatolu filled in for Turner last season, but he may have to play right tackle Sunday. However, the Panthers added Chris Clark to potentially do that. In addition to Silatolu, Newton writes Tyler Larsen and rookie UDFA Brendan Mahon will have a chance to start in place of Turner — in the event he can’t go Sunday.
  • Demario Davis rated as a top-10 Pro Football Focus linebacker last year, doing so for his work as an inside linebacker. It was expected the high-priced free agent would man the middle for the Saints, but they’ve moved him to the weak side, NOLA.com’s Josh Katzenstein notes. Second-year man Alex Anzalone is now stationed as New Orleans’ middle ‘backer, but the team rotated he, Manti Te’o and A.J. Klein as Davis sidekicks in Week 1. Sean Payton said the team’s still determining how it will structure its linebacker usage. Davis played all 66 snaps in the Saints’ loss to the Buccaneers, while Anzalone led the others with 34. Klein functioned in Davis’ role in 2017, playing all of the Saints’ Week 1 snaps in his first game with the team.

Latest On Aaron Rodgers’ Status

Aaron Rodgers remains day to day after suffering a left knee injury against the Bears. However, signs could well be pointing to the superstar quarterback playing through this in Week 2.

The Packers quarterback said calling this injury a knee sprain would be accurate, doing so without revealing specific damage, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. That probably explains why Packers doctors allowed him to return to the game after he suffered what looked to be a potentially severe injury.

Rodgers did not practice Wednesday and has been “sore” the past three days. While he said he’s improving daily, the 34-year-old passer has dealt with left knee issues for years. Rodgers added (via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, on Twitter) that he’s experienced several problems with his left knee since he was a teenager. He underwent surgery on that knee in college and after the 2015 season.

A Packers-Vikings game altered the NFC landscape last season, after Anthony Barr‘s hit on Rodgers resulted in another broken collarbone. It seems somewhat safe to expect Rodgers to play this week in a pivotal NFC North game, but that’s not yet certain.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Mack, Rams, Rodgers, Luck

We previously heard that the Rams had made a bid on Khalil Mack, but the Raiders rejected the offer because the picks were going to be too low. Tonight, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported (via Twitter) that Los Angeles ultimately offered Oakland a first- and third-round pick.

However, the Rams didn’t see much of a future with Mack, especially after handing Aaron Donald a lucrative $135MM extension. Schefter notes that the team would have turned around and traded the impending free agent (presumably after he inked his franchise tag) this offseason. The team was trying to go “all in” on the upcoming campaign, with the hope that they could pair Mack with Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers.

Instead, Mack was dealt to the Bears, who then signed the pass rusher to a six-year, $141 million deal. The 27-year-old had a big game in his debut with Chicago, collecting three tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pick-six.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Raiders coach Jon Gruden sat down to discuss the Mack trade with ESPN’s Lisa Salters, noting that the star player “obviously” didn’t want to be in Oakland. “Obviously, Khalil Mack didn’t want to play here,” Gruden said (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). “That’s what’s being missed here. He was under contract, Lisa. He was under contract. He never showed up for an OTA, never showed up for a training camp and it was obvious he wasn’t going to show up for the season. Don’t forget that. We have to get ready to play and I want players that want to be here, that want to help us put this thing back in high gear.”
  • Aaron Rodgers sat out three series during last night’s contest before leading the Packers to a comeback victory over the Bears. While the quarterback may have tossed three second-half touchdowns, he’s not a sure-thing for next weekend’s game against the Vikings. Head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t give any indications as to whether the team would start Rodgers or backup DeShone Kizer on Sunday. “We do have some information and no decision has been made,” McCarthy said (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). “We’re still collecting all the information.” NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Rodgers is pushing to play, and the team will continue to monitor the swelling in his knee as the week goes on.
  • We learned earlier today that Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson was going to miss several weeks as he recovered from a concussion. Fortunately, it sounds like reinforcement is around the corner, as coach Bill O’Brien told ESPN’s Sarah Barshop that cornerback Kayvon Webster is trending in the right direction as he recovers from an Achilles injury (Twitter links). However, the defensive back won’t be ready for next week, and the team will consider moving safety Kareem Jackson to cornerback as they deal with the injuries.
  • In an interview with Rapoport, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck discussed a “previously secret injury” to his right shoulder that he suffered while snowboarding. The injury occurred after Luck had suffered a labrum tear in 2015, and the quarterback ended up hurting his AC joint in his throwing shoulder during the snowboarding accident. For what it’s worth, Luck is convinced that the indiscretion didn’t do anything to slow his eventual rehab from labrum surgery. “I’ve seen more doctors than I can count on two hands over the past two or three years,” Luck said, “and the consensus — unanimous — is that the AC is not an issue, nor did it have an effect. The labrum is an issue.”