Bob McNair

NFC Notes: Julio, Panthers, Bucs, Rams

As expected, Julio Jones reportedly did not attend the opening day of Falcons organized team activities, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter.

He adds head coach Dan Quinn will address the situation on Tuesday and did not respond to questions about the reports that Jones wants an update to his contract. Though he is absent, the two sides appear amenable and are likely to work things out in due time.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio speculates Jones, who has three years left on his current deal, could be trying to get the team’s attention after Matt Ryan‘s new contract is set to pay the quarterback ($30MM) twice the amount that Jones is to receive ($14.25MM). His current deal slots him in as the No. 8 receiver on the pay scale, behind players like Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins and Davante Adams.

Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap says that the word “update” could mean the Falcons moving money forward in Jones’ contract to make the team’s key player happy. On a team in win-now mode, the move could be seen as avoiding potential chemistry issues in the locker room. A recent example of this, according to Fitzgerald, is a similar situation with Antonio Brown and the Steelers.

“The Steelers twice moved money forward in Brown’s contract to prevent a player from being unhappy. In 2015 the Steelers moved $2 million from 2016 up to 2015 and in 2016 they moved $4 million from 2017 into 2016. Overall the team fronted him $4 million and then extended him in 2017.”

Regardless of what the course of action Atlanta chooses to pursue, it is unlikely to hinder it from fielding one of the top three receivers in the league in 2018.  

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • The Panthers sale to David Tepper is expected to go through without “any surprises,” Houston Texans owner Bob McNair told ESPN’s David Newton. Tepper needs 24 votes — 23 with the absence of former Panthers GM Jerry Richardson — on Tuesday when the 31 NFL owners convene. Richardson is unlikely to attend, but nothing has been set in stone.
  • Florida Football Insiders posted a list of potential free agent targets for the Buccaneers, and named DeMarco Murray and Kenny Vaccaro as possibilities. Murray would make for a solid one-two punch with rookie running back Ronald Jones, while Vaccaro would bring a veteran presence to a shaky pass defense.
  • Linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, the Rams‘ fifth-round pick, underwent surgery on his foot and is expected to return sometime during training camp, head coach Sean McVay told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry (Twitter link). Okoronkwo starred at Oklahoma in 2017, earning Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Big 12 after logging 17.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

AFC Notes: Anthem, Jets, Raiders, Broncos

Among the most divisive issues facing the NFL today are national anthem protests. That division is also felt among the owners themselves, who are currently in Orlando for the annual owner’s meetings.

Outspoken on the subject for more than a year, Texans owner Bob McNair issued another statement on the issue on Sunday, saying, according to The Washington Post’s Mark Maske (Twitter link):

“We’re going to deal with it in such a way, I think, that people will understand that we want everybody to respect our country, respect our flag. And our playing fields, that’s not the place for political statements.”

Jets CEO Christopher Johnson, however, falls on the other side of the argument, according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert (Twitter link).

“I can’t speak to how other people run their teams, but I just think that trying to forcibly get the players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea.”

Despite McNair’s seeming assuredness, the owners do not appear to be near to a solution. The issue is sure to permeate throughout the meetings.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Sticking with the Jets, wide receiver Robby Anderson had his court date moved from Monday to Aug. 6, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The new date will now take place while the Jets are at training camp. The charges, stemming from a January incident, include three felonies: second-degree felony harm to a public servant or family, third-degree felony fleeing/eluding police while lights/siren active and third-degree felony speeding. After being arrested, Anderson threatened to sexually assault the wife of the arresting officer, according to reports. Anderson was allegedly clocked at 105 mph in 45-mph zone speeding away from police while running multiple red lights.
  • Broncos general manager and executive vice president of football operations John Elway said the team doesn’t know who it plans to take with the No. 5 pick in 2018 NFL Draft, 9 News’ Mike Klis writes. “You know we’re wide open, to be dead honest with you,’’ Elway said. “Who knows how it’s all going to fall. The Jets have already moved (from the No. 6 pick up to No. 3) and there’s going to be other teams that may be moving around, too, so we’re going to go through and have those discussions. I will tell ya, it’s funny how people think they know who you’re drafting because I don’t know who we’re drafting, yet. We’re going to do our homework and eventually get there.’’ 
  • Raiders owner Mark Davis said with the hiring of new head coach Jon Gruden, he plans to be done with the football side of the organization, NBC Sports’ Scott Bair tweets. “It was a six-year process to get Jon to be the head coach,” Davis said. “This year, he finally came on board. That allows me to see a long-term process working out on the football side. … I play devil’s advocate on certain things, but those guys make the decisions.”

 

 

AFC Notes: Kaepernick, Texans, Titans

When Colin Kaepernick‘s choice to work out in Houston this week raised some eyebrows in the football world. We now know why he was in town. Texans owner Bob McNair was deposed on Friday in Kaepernick’s collusion lawsuit against the NFL and Kaepernick sat in on the deposition, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).

Kaepernick, who was ranked as one of my ten best available quarterbacks before the start of free agency, has yet to receive any bites from teams as he continues his legal proceedings against the NFL.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • The Titans are after Ndamukong Suh and that could lead to a shakeup on the defensive line, as veteran NFL reporter Paul Kuharsky notes (on Twitter). The nose tackle is set to carry a $5MM base salary in 2018 and $2.5MM of that sum becomes fully guaranteed on Sunday. Williams would not only be redundant in the event of Suh signing – he’d also be taking of cap space that may need to be allocated for the former Dolphin.
  • Free agent offensive tackle Matt Tobin met with the Patriots on Friday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.
  • The Broncos are working on re-signing free agent offensive lineman Billy Turner, sources tell Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter).

Texans GM To Control Team Personnel, HC Bill O’Brien To Be On Search Committee

There’s new developments regarding the Texans quest to find a new general manager. The team’s owner, Bob McNair, told reporters today that the person they eventually hire will have control of personnel over current head coach Bill O’Brien, relays John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). However, McClain does note that O’Brien, along with team president Jamey Rootes, will be with McNair and Cal McNair as the four-man the team conducting the search.

Bob McNair (Vertical)

“The GM is going to have full authority over personnel, and he’ll report to Cal and me,” said the Texans owner. “That’s our message to potential GMs, We know what we want. We’ll pick somebody that Cal and I like, coach O’Brien likes and Jamey likes. We pretty much agree on what we’re looking for.” (via McClain on Twitter)

While the job should be sought after by many people across the league, McNair also stated that he doesn’t want the general manager to reshape front office, although he did say that he could allow for some potential new hires given who they ultimately agree to bring into the organization.

“He may have 1 or 2 key people he’s worked with, and he might want to bring them in,” said McNair. “That’s reasonable. It’s also reasonable to ask that person to work with the people we have this year and Cal what he thinks. We’re not going to have somebody come in and clean house.” (via McClain)

This is an interesting process for the Texans ownership group because executive vice president Rick Smith‘s situation is really up-in-the-air given that he will be home with his wife who is battling cancer. McNair does seem intent on waiting a year to feel out what Smith’s situation may look like in 2019.

“We don’t know what Rick might do,” said the owner. “That’s something we’ll discuss a year from now. The only concern is to take care of his family, and we’re not going beyond that.” (via McClain)

There’s already been some GM candidates speculated, including: Nick Caserio (Patriots), Brian Gaine (Bills) and Brian Gutekunst (Packers). Although, there should be more names that will arise in the next week or two. It’s expected to be a quick process and we now know that the new hire will have primary control on the roster entering the 2018 season.

 

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans GM Taking Leave Of Absence

Following Houston’s 22-13 loss vs. the Colts, Texans general manager and executive vice president Rick Smith announced he was taking an extended leave of absence to care for his wife, Tiffany, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Sarah Barshop reported. Rick Smith (Vertical)

In a statement, Smith said, “I am eternally grateful to the McNair family for their unwavering support during this trying time. This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make as I love this organization and every member of this team both on and off the field. I remain committed to our quest to bring a championship to the city of Houston, yet my family needs me now and they are my priority.”

Smith has served as Houston’s general manager since 2006, when owner Bob McNair hired him as the youngest GM in the league at the age of 36. During his tenure with the team, Smith has constructed a team that claimed four AFC South division titles in a six-year span (2011-16). In his second season on the job, Smith helped the Texans to their first non-losing season in franchise history. He has only finished below .500 four times in 12 seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Colin Kaepernick

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and Texans owner Bob McNair, amongst others, will be deposed and asked to turn over all cell phone records and emails in relation to the Colin Kaepernick collusion case against the NFL, a league source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Facebook link). Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and owner 49ers Jed York are also among those on the deposition list, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) hears.

Other owners, team officials, and league officials may also be deposed, but those are the individuals confirmed for now.

Here’s more on Kaepernick:

  • Colin Kaepernick’s attorney believes that the quarterback will sign with an NFL team soon. “I think within the next 10 days somebody will sign him,” Mark Geragos told Adam Carolla earlier this week (transcript via BleacherReport.com). “I think somebody’s gonna sign him. I think the NFL has to come to their senses, and realize every day that goes by just proves the collusion case even more.” Geragos may have confidence, but there’s no reason to expect a Kaepernick signing anytime soon. A potential spot opened up this week when Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered a season-ending ACL tear, but Houston opted to sign Matt McGloin and T.J. Yates. For now, Tom Savage is the starter in Houston and there are no known plans for the team to audition Kaepernick.
  • NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart deferred to the NFLPA on the topic of having Kaepernick at the next meeting between players and owners (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). “We’d welcome his participation, but that’s an issue for the players to determine,” he said.

Texans Have No Plans To Work Out Colin Kaepernick

Texans owner Bob McNair has not given coaches the green light to audition Colin Kaepernick, despite a report from Howard Balzer of Sports On Earth (Twitter link) indicating otherwise. Balzer now indicates that his tweet was intended to be a joke. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has confirmed that McNair has not signed off on a Kaepernick workout.

Colin Kaepernick (vertical)

[RELATED: Deshaun Watson Done For Season]

The Texans have managed to stay afloat at 3-4 despite injuries to key defenders J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. Asking them to keep their playoffs alive with Tom Savage under center, however, might be too much to ask. Kaepernick stands as the most polarizing figure in the football world today, so it stands to reason that the Texans may want to see what he can offer. But, for now, there are no plans to kick the tires on the former Niners signal caller.

Last week, McNair found himself in the middle of a major controversy when he likened the player-led anthem protests to “inmates running the prison.” He has since apologized for those remarks.

For now, the Texans will forge ahead with Savage as their starter against the Colts. The newly-signed Matt McGloin will be his backup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Players Coalition Requests Meeting With Roger Goodell, Colin Kaepernick, Bob McNair

The Players Coalition, a group of roughly 40 players that was formed this year to help with criminal justice reform in various communities, have requested a face-to-face meeting with Roger Goodell, Texans owner Bob McNair, and Colin Kaepernick, as ESPN’s Jim Trotter tweets. The Coalition has requested that the meeting take place tomorrow in Philadelphia.

Bob McNair (Vertical)

The full request is available in Trotter’s tweet above and was seemingly triggered by a recent ESPN The Magazine story wherein McNair was quoted as saying, “we can’t have the inmates running the prison.” Although that is a common idiom, and although McNair clarified the comment by saying that he was referring to how the league has been making significant strategic decisions without adequate input from ownership, anything that could be construed as a social comment probably will be in today’s racially-charged NFL, and the Coalition certainly appeared to take it as such. The request stated that the “events” that have unfolded the last several days — it is unclear what events the request is referring to outside of McNair’s quote — demonstrate the “lack of seriousness that some league officials are approaching our discussions [sic].”

The Coalition goes on to say that it believes the only way towards progress is open dialogue, which is why it wants to meet with the Commissioner, McNair, and the player who is at the epicenter of the league’s social reform discussions. As ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweets, the Coalition believed it was important for Kaepernick to make his voice heard at the meeting.

However, Cam Inman of the Mercury News tweets that the NFL has no update as to whether the Coalition’s requested meeting would take place tomorrow. Per Anderson, the Coalition is not taking the league’s silence very well (Twitter link), but it seems likely that some response will be forthcoming. There is already a social activism-based meeting scheduled for players and owners this week, a meeting that Kaepernick has agreed to attend, so the league could feel that the Coalition’s request is largely redundant.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Texans, Dolphins, Alonso, Kaep

A number of Texans players — including wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back D’Onta Foreman — left practice today following franchise owner Bob McNair‘s comments in an ESPN The Magazine article, in which he compared national anthem protests to “inmates running the prison,” according to Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. Some of the players who left practice ultimately returned, but the Houston coaching staff had to convince the team not to stage a full-scale walkout. Head coach Bill O’Brien — who says he is “100% behind” his players — later staged a 90-minute meeting in which players could engage in “candid conversation,” per Barshop. Left tackle Duane Brown called the comments “ignorant” and “embarrassing,” and said “the situation’s not over,” an indication further protests or other repercussions could be coming.

Here’s more from around the league:

AFC Notes: Allen, DeCastro, Osweiler, RG3

The Chargers are not yet ready to confirm a torn-ACL diagnosis for Keenan Allen, but Mike McCoy acknowledged there is speculation about that likely season-ending injury, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets.

The fourth-year wideout who signed a four-year, $45MM extension this summer will have an MRI done on Monday. But the widespread notion remains the Bolts’ No. 1 target will join Stevie Johnson on IR.

San Diego, which has two wideouts on its practice squad, could opt to bring back James Jones, whom the team cut after signing him following the Johnson injury. Or, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out, the Chargers could look at other available wideouts like Roddy White, Brian Hartline or Aaron Dobson. Florio also posits the Chargers could attempt to trade for Josh Gordon, given that they’ve lost two of their top four targets over the past several weeks.

Here’s the latest from around the AFC as Week 1 moves into its Sunday-night game.

  • Signed to a five-year, $50MM deal earlier this week, Steelers All-Pro guard David DeCastro called the commitment “a weight off his shoulders,” according to Ralph Paulk of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The fifth-year guard who was previously entering a contract year also said he would have considered other options had the Steelers and his camp not come together on the extension. “I tried not to think about it early on, but I was really hoping I could stay here,” he said. “Obviously, when we were getting close, it was harder to push back. Now we can move forward and worry about what’s important.”
  • Robert Griffin III said he sprained his shoulder during the Browns‘ 29-10 loss to the Eagles today. “I can move my left arm. I’m in pain, but it will be OK, just have to monitor it,” Griffin said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “We’ll see more tomorrow and see how my shoulder is feeling and just move on from there.” Griffin, who made his first start since 2014 on Sunday, finished the game and expects to play in Week 2.
  • Texans owner Bob McNair gave new starter Brock Osweiler a glowing endorsement today after the Texans’ Week 1 win over the Bears. “I think he’s everything we thought he would be,” McNair said via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “He performed under pressure. Several times he escaped. He completed some passes after getting pressure. He has good composure and he’s poised.” The fifth-year passer and recipient of a four-year, $72MM deal completed 22-of-35 passes for 235 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in his Houston debut.
  • The Patriots‘ clearing out $2.8MM in cap space thanks to Devin McCourty‘s restructure will help them retain their key defenders playing on expiring contracts, Doug Kyed of NESN.com writes. An in-season extension for impending UFA Dont’a Hightower, thus lowering his $7.75MM 2016 cap hit, would be a way to help the Patriots sign both 2017 UFA Jamie Collins and RFA Malcolm Butler, Kyed offers. New England possesses more than $11MM in cap space for 2016 and stands to possess more than $60MM come 2017. Jabaal Sheard, Logan Ryan and Sebastian Vollmer join Hightower and Collins as key UFAs for the seven-time defending AFC East champions.