City Of Mexico City

Extra Points: Goodell, Raiders, Jags, London

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conducted his usual pre-Super Bowl press conference today, and even though he took questions from reporters for nearly 45 minutes, he didn’t provide many noteworthy updates. Goodell did drop the occasional interesting nugget, announcing that the Raiders and Texans will play in Mexico City on November 21, and revealing that he has recommended to the competition committee that a player who commits two person fouls in a game is automatically ejected.

When it came to questions about the NFL’s PSI study, stadium plans for San Diego and Oakland, potential changes to the league’s drug policy, and the NFL’s investigation into Al Jazeera’s HGH allegations, Goodell declined to get into specifics, offering only general answers. According to Goodell, the PSI checks didn’t turn up any violations, the NFL wants to keep the Chargers and Raiders where they are, the league doesn’t expect any marijuana-related policy changes, and the HGH-allegation investigation (in conjunction with WADA and other leagues) is ongoing.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NFL:

  • NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that the union will reach a resolution with the NFL over a change in Goodell’s role in player discipline, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports tweets. The commissioner was characteristically evasive today when asked about that issue.
  • Smith also projected another $10MM boost for the league’s salary cap in 2016 (Twitter link via Stephen Holder of Indianapolis Star), and and singled out the Raiders and Jaguars as two teams that are well below the 89% cash spending floor. According to Smith (link via Barry Wilner of The Associated Press), Oakland is $41MM below the threshold and Jacksonville is $28MM below. Those teams could be active in free agency this offseason to get to the necessary level, but they don’t have to be in compliance until March 2017, so extensions next winter for 2014 draftees like Derek Carr and Khalil Mack (Raiders) or Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson (Jaguars) could do the trick.
  • Sheldon Adelson, the new owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, has installed Craig Moon as the paper’s publisher, and Moon’s early editorial decisions have had an impact on stories about Las Vegas’ proposed stadium, according to Politco’s Ken Doctor. With Adelson hoping to lure the Raiders or another NFL team to the proposed stadium, the Review-Journal has been forced to edit or kill stories about what could turn out to be a $600MM public investment.
  • The NFL came close, in recent weeks, to adding a fourth London game to its 2016 schedule, a source tells Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter links). However, scheduling conflicts – not to mention the challenge of finding a fourth team willing to give up a home team – forced the league to put that plan on hold.

AFC South Notes: Colts, Titans, D. Robinson

After spending big on veteran free agents last offseason, Colts owner Jim Irsay doesn’t expect to take the same approach this time around. While Indianapolis will delve into free agency a little if there’s a good fit, Irsay wants to recommit to building the roster through the draft, as Mike Wells of ESPN.com details.

“The draft is where we’re really going to get better,” Irsay said. “I think over the next two drafts, continue to identify guys, particularly defensively, that are going to be key guys going forward.”

Let’s check in on the rest of the teams in the AFC South…

  • According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, NFL personnel executives say there’s a real chance that the Titans will select Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil with the first overall pick in this year’s draft, assuming the team keeps the pick and doesn’t trade down. Having drafted Marcus Mariota a year ago, Tennessee doesn’t need a quarterback, so Tunsil or Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa look like the most logical targets for the club.
  • Jaguars running back Denard Robinson is extension-eligible for the first time this offseason, and tells Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com that he “definitely” wants to stay in Jacksonville. “It’s a great place and I enjoy it, enjoy the coaches and everything,” Robinson said. Still, the former fifth-round pick acknowledged that there have been no discussions with the Jags about a new deal so far.
  • The NFL has been tentatively planning to play a game in Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium in 2016, and it appears that game will feature the Texans and Raiders, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. The Raiders are a logical candidate to be the “home” team since they’re currently without a stadium lease, while the Texans have a growing fan base in Mexico and have expressed interest in being a part of the league’s international series.

Breer’s Latest: GM Candidates, Dolphins, Cutler

Albert Breer’s usual Friday column at NFL.com has arrived one day early this week, in advance of Christmas Day. Breer’s Week 16 notebook focuses on general manager candidates around the league, with one current GM suggesting that the most important thing for a team is for its GM and coach to be on the same page.

“That is the most important thing,” the veteran GM said. “And it is for multiple reasons. The coach and GM have to share a vision. And once you start that relationship, you have to have clearly defined roles. If it’s that [the coach] is coaching and I’m bringing [players] in, once I start to veer and step over that line, everything becomes blurred and dysfunction follows.”

After detailing the importance of the rapport between a coach and GM, Breer identifies a number of potential candidates for jobs that will open up this offseason, examining front office executives who are on the rise and on the cusp of getting their first big shot (such as Chris Ballard of the Chiefs, Nick Caserio of the Patriots, and Brian Gaine of the Texans), as well as those that deserve a second chance at a GM position (like Mark Dominik, Jeff Ireland, and Scott Pioli).

Here are a few more highlights from Breer’s piece:

  • The Dolphins have begun to vet possible candidates for their head coaching job, and the team is taking a closer look at the 2006 and 2009 coaching cycles to help identify important characteristics for those candidates. Those were the two years that former Jets executive Mike Tannenbaum hired new coaches – Eric Mangini and Rex Ryan – so the current Dolphins exec is very familiar with what he and his former team looked for at the time, and what they may have missed in other candidates. The overarching idea for Miami is to break away from the group-think mentality that may keep the club from considering a strong option.
  • While it may have seemed unlikely a year ago, it now looks like a lock that the Bears will keep Jay Cutler on their roster for 2016, whether or not offensive coordinator Adam Gase remains in Chicago. Cutler’s partially guaranteed salary for next season will become fully guaranteed on St. Patrick’s Day, so the club figures to finalize its decision by then.
  • A source tells Breer that the NFL expects to decide before the Super Bowl whether or not a 2016 regular season game will take place in Mexico. The league’s charge to make it happen has “slowed a bit,” according to Breer, who notes that there are several issues still to overcome to make Azteca Stadium game-ready.
  • In Breer’s view, the Packers did well to lock up Mike Daniels to a four-year extension rather than having to consider using the franchise tag on him. As a defensive end in a 3-4 system, Daniels isn’t quite as valuable as elite 4-3 DE pass rushers, but his franchise salary would be the same as those players. Teams like the Jets (this year) and Eagles (next year) will face similar dilemmas for Muhammad Wilkerson and Fletcher Cox, respectively.

Extra Points: Rams, Randle, Mexico City

The NFL announced its 2016 lineup of London games today, and the Rams are one of three teams giving up a home game to play overseas. However, as Jacob Kirn of the St. Louis Business Journal writes, that would seem to violate the terms of the team’s lease with the Edward Jones Dome. Of course, the franchise’s future in St. Louis beyond this year remains up in the air, so it’s possible there will be no lease with dome in 2016 to violate.

For what it’s worth, the St. Louis stadium task force issued a statement today indicating that if the Rams were to enter discussions with the task force about the riverfront stadium proposal, then “we’re certain accommodations can be made for the Rams to play one game in London next season.” As is, this looks like just another small piece in a complicated Los Angeles puzzle.

Here are a few more Wednesday odds and ends from around the NFL:

  • Just three weeks after he was waived, former Cowboys running back Joseph Randle was arrested on Tuesday after an incident at the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Kansas. Randle, who had already been suspended by the NFL for a previous arrest, was charged with one felony and five misdemeanors, further reducing the possibility of him signing with a new team anytime soon. Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Morning News has the details on the incident, including the specific charges Randle is facing.
  • The NFL’s three London games may not be the league’s only international contests during the 2016 regular season. Per Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter link), the league is working on a logistics issue relating to a possible Mexico City game, but is “well along” in the process, and there’s a good chance a November ’16 game will be scheduled at Azteca Stadium.
  • While there have been proposals to push the NFL vote on Los Angeles further back, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links) says that’s unlikely to happen due to the league’s schedule release. As Farmer explains, forcing a late vote would risk get the moving team(s) off on the wrong foot in a challenging market.
  • The Steelers didn’t open the 21-day practice window for tackle Mike Adams prior to Tuesday’s deadline, so his 2015 campaign is over before it began, tweets Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Adams started the year on the PUP list and would have had to begin practicing yesterday to have a chance at being activated this season. Instead, his contract is expected to toll, meaning he won’t reach unrestricted free agency.

Extra Points: San Diego, Hardy, NFLPA

The city of San Diego is looking more and more like they will lose the Chargers in the near future, but Kevin Acee of the San Diego Tribune hopes that the organization retiring LaDainian Tomlinson’s jersey could save the team. He writes that team chairman Dean Spanos has a soft spot for his future Hall of Fame running back, and that an emotional moment of honoring him could be the impetus for a change of heart and new commitment to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

  • Albert Breer of the NFL Network touches on many topics in his latest column for NFL.com, providing a few more details on Greg Hardy‘s absence from a Cowboys team meeting, and noting that the NFL will send a contingent to Mexico City for the second time in three weeks, with an eye toward getting Azteca Stadium NFL-ready for a 2016 game.
  • The NFL’s general counsel Jeff Pash confirmed the the league and player’s union are having substantive talks regarding player discipline, reports Mark Maske of the Washington Post (via Twitter). In the talks, the NFL is still against including any third-party arbitration.
  • Pash did make a statement over the status of the negotiations, according to Maske (via Twitter). “I don’t think we’ll get it done tomorrow. I do think… we can get there.”

Extra Points: Mexico City, O’Brien, Lions

After sending a contigent of league officials to Mexico City to assess the possibility of playing a 2016 regular season game at Azteca Stadium, the NFL received “overwhelmingly positive reports,” sources tell Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.

According to La Canfora, the league was already intrigued about the possibility of playing a game next year in Mexico City, and that possibility looks even more likely after last week’s visit. The CBSSports.com scribe suggests it would be a surprise if a game isn’t played at Azteca Stadium in 2016, adding that the NFL could make an announcement to that end in the near future.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the league:

  • Addressing his brother’s firing today, Bills head coach Rex Ryan said the former Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will “take some time” to decide his next move, according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak. The Buffalo coach added that he hadn’t thought about the possibility of his brother joining the Bills’ staff, but admitted that “it would be pretty fun.”
  • In the wake of a Sunday report that suggested he’d have interest in the head coaching job at Maryland, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien dismissed that idea, asserting that he’s “damn proud to be the head coach of the Houston Texans.” Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle has the quotes and the details.
  • The Lions haven’t indicated yet that veteran cornerback Josh Wilson will be placed on injured reserve, but whether or not Wilson lands on IR, the team will need to add depth at the position, writes Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. Detroit, down to three healthy cornerbacks, is auditioning free agent corners today, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).
  • Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ravens make some roster moves this week, specifically addressing the team’s return game.

Extra Points: Mexico City, Randle, Saunders

A group of league officials will be in Mexico City through Wednesday to determine if Azteca Stadium is prepared to host an NFL game in 2016, tweets Albert Breer of NFL.com. Back in 2005, the Cardinals and 49ers faced off at Azteca in front of a crowd of 100K+, so the league knows that the interest is there.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NFL:

  • One team that had been interested in free agent running back Joseph Randle is no longer pursuing him now that he has received a four-game suspension, tweets Ed Werder of ESPN.com.
  • Bears practice squad wide receiver Jalen Saunders has been suspended four games for violating an undisclosed league policy, according to a source that spoke with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Saunders, a fourth-round pick in 2014, was one of several draft choices for the Jets under former GM John Idzik that did not pan out.
  • Another wideout, Clyde Gates, has also been suspended four games by the NFL, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Gates, currently a free agent, is also a former Jets receiver, though he started his career with the Dolphins after being selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft.
  • Despite his stellar season so far, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin will likely transition to the wide receiver position for the NFL draft, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link) reports.
  • In a piece for CBSSports.com, former agent Joel Corry take a look at players in contract years who are helping or hurting their respective values as they approach free agency.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap also looks forward to free agency, examining a few quarterbacks who could hit the open market this winter, and identifying some potential trade candidates at the position.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Breer’s Latest: Panthers, Revis, Mexico City

In his latest piece for NFL.com, Albert Breer of the NFL Network examines the relationship between head coach Ron Rivera and GM Dave Gettleman, who have steered the perennially underrated Panthers to a 5-0 record early in the 2015 season. Praising the job Gettleman has done with the roster, Rivera tells Breer that he believes good things are ahead for the club.

“I think we’re gonna continue to grow,” Rivera said. “We have to keep looking to get better, and we have to keep managing the cap, because it’s set up so you lose guys you don’t want to lose, and that’s hard. Josh Norman is [a free agent] next year, and we’ll hopefully find a way to keep him. You don’t want to lose good players, and that’ll be hard on Dave and his guys. That’s the hard part.”

Here are a few more highlights from Breer’s column:

  • Back in March, cornerback Darrelle Revis was “very amenable” to the idea of staying with the Patriots, according to Breer, who adds that the Jets and Pats were far and away Revis’ top two choices. However, since New England’s offer wasn’t close to New York’s, the star corner returned to the Jets.
  • When the Patriots first signed Revis in 2014, the team wanted a second year for cap purposes, and Revis’ camp asked for a roster bonus in year two. According to Breer, New England countered by including an option bonus, which served a similar purpose and put the club in line to take home a compensatory pick – likely a third-rounder – in 2016.
  • An NFL contingent is schedule to travel to Mexico City at the start of November to determine if a regular season can be played there, and – if so – how soon. “It’d be fantastic if we could do it next year,” said Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president of international. There are still a few issues to work through though, including the technical infrastructure and broadcast accommodations at Azteca Stadium.
  • Addressing the Robert Griffin III situation in Washington, Breer reiterates that the team would be risking guaranteeing RGIII’s 2016 salary if he plays this season, since that money is currently guaranteed for injury only. While Breer doesn’t explicitly say it, the Griffin situation may be a case study for future teams as they consider whether or not to exercise fifth-year option on borderline players — declining those options would allow clubs to deploy those fourth-year players without worrying about a major injury that would lock in that fifth-year salary.