Ereck Flowers

NFC Notes: Panthers, Peppers, Giants, Apple

The Panthers would like to have 37-year-old Julius Peppers back in the fold next year, as David Newton of ESPN.com writes.

I’d love for him to come back, absolutely,’’ head coach Ron Rivera said. “And I know we’ve managed him [in terms of practice time] and we’ll do whatever we need to. But it’s all up to him. He’s had a very good year. Who knows? Hopefully, we can keep it rolling.”

Peppers is playing out a one-year deal with a base value of $3.5MM that could reach up to $4.25MM with bonuses. Of course, his focus is currently on helping the Panthers advance in the playoffs.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • New Giants GM Dave Gettleman had a sit-down meeting with Eli Apple this week, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter). Schwartz takes this as a sign that Apple could still be in the team’s plans for 2018 and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter) agrees. However, that comes with the caveat that Apple shows increased maturity. If all goes right, both Apple and offensive lineman Ereck Flowers could be a part of the team moving forward.
  • The Cardinals are in town to interview Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz for their head coach opening today, a source tells Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter). First, Schwartz gets his shot in the afternoon, followed by DeFilippo in the evening.
  • The Packers want to talk to a key executive from the Ravens about their GM vacancy.

Giants Souring On Ereck Flowers?

Ereck Flowers has started all 15 Giants games this season and has missed just one game in his career. The third-year left tackle looks set to miss Week 17.

Flowers told coaches he would not play against the Redskins, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports. Although he’s questionable with a groin injury, Flowers has “checked out” and is ready for Big Blue’s season to end, per ESPN.

If Flowers does suit up, he will be benched. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv reports Dave Gettleman approved the benching of the former first-round pick, doing so along with making the call to waive Bobby Hart — who had started intermittently over the past two years. Both Flowers and Hart refused to practice on Friday, Vacchiano reports, adding the Giants are “fed up” with the duo’s attitudes. That resulted in Hart’s exit, but the team has more money tied up in Flowers.

Flowers is listed as questionable to play in Sunday’s meaningless game, but he practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday prior to sitting out Friday. A source told Vacchiano that Flowers would probably not be active Sunday.

The University of Miami product has disappointed since the Giants made him the No. 9 overall pick in 2015, and it seems unlikely the team will exercise his fifth-year option at this point. Although, Flowers has been incredibly durable and these options are guaranteed against injury only, in the event the sides mend fences in the near future. As for Flowers’ 2018 status, his $2.4MM base salary is fully guaranteed; he’ll count $4.5MM against the Giants’ cap whether he’s on the team or not.

The Giants have discussed moving Flowers to right tackle or to guard in the past, per Vacchiano, who adds the team is not expected to bring him back as the starting left tackle next season. Flowers has been Big Blue’s left tackle starter since his first offseason, when a Will Beatty injury moved him from right to left tackle.

Gettleman said Friday the offensive line needed fixing. Both Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg are free agents. With Flowers’ status less certain after recent events, the Giants are close to starting from scratch up front.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Giants, Fins, Jets, Cowboys

Justin Pugh‘s contract year could well include a lengthy stay at right tackle. The Giants‘ starting left guard slid to his original position on Monday night and will do the same Sunday against the Eagles. Big Blue plans to start Brett Jones at left guard and does not plan on ditching Ereck Flowers at left tackle, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes. Pugh’s versatility will allow the Giants, per Ben McAdoo, to keep the “best five” on the field rather than the team having to use a swing tackle. Usual right tackle Bobby Hart will miss Week 3, and D.J. Fluker — a four-year Chargers starter — is apparently the Giants’ seventh offensive lineman. He’ll profile as the backup guard behind Jones and John Jerry, Raanan writes.

Here’s more from the Eastern divisions in advance of Week 3’s Sunday slate.

  • Lawrence Timmons‘ pre-Week 2 disappearance will be costly. The Dolphins linebacker signed a two-year, $12MM deal but will lose money because of the suspension his new team handed down this week. In addition to voiding the $4.5MM in guaranteed money attached to his 2018 salary, Timmons stands to lose as much as $235K in base salary this season — since he can only be suspended for four weeks under the CBA — and could be set to forfeit signing bonus money, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports. Volin adds the linebacker could be forced to refund 4/17ths of this year’s portion of his $5.5MM signing bonus. This team-imposed ban could cost Timmons $882K this season before giving Miami greater leverage over him in 2018 because of voided guarantees.
  • Jay Cutler reached out to Matt Forte about a possible Jets path, but his longtime Bears teammate couldn’t provide many details about an offensive system about to change, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. Although the Jets and Cutler had multiple visits scheduled, neither came to fruition and the interest wasn’t heavy on either side. Cutler also talked with former Broncos and Bears quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, Gang Green’s current QBs instructor, throughout his first free agency process, per Mehta. But with Bates not calling plays in New York, that connection didn’t have the kind of appeal that would have induced Cutler to sign with the rebuilding team. Instead, Cutler’s second wave of free agency became a Dolphins-centric odyssey.
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins weighed over 300 pounds in the recent past, according to Calvin Watkins of Newsday. The Jets tight end dropped a staggering 60 pounds, per Watkins, and is down to 262 as he comes off his two-game suspension for substance abuse. A May report indicated Seferian-Jenkins was down 25 pounds. A year ago Saturday, Seferian-Jenkins was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The Buccaneers cut him, routing the formerly coveted prospect to the Jets. As of this week, ASJ is approaching 250 days sober, Watkins reports.
  • The Cowboys struggled to stay with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in a Week 2 loss in Denver, and the team will take a shorthanded cornerback group to Arizona as well. Both Nolan Carroll and Chidobe Awuzie are out for the Cowboys’ Monday-night tilt against the Cardinals, Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News tweets. A hamstring injury will shelve Awuzie, and Carroll’s in concussion protocol.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Cowboys, Giants

The Eagles are entering free agency in need of help at wide receiver. Fortunately for them, “several” unsigned wideouts regard the idea of playing with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz as intriguing, according to Tim McManus of ESPN.com. Unsurprisingly, one of those players is the Redskins’ DeSean Jackson, who has made it clear he’d be open to returning to Philadelphia, where he starred from 2008-13. “Carson Wentz, he came in and had a heck of the year as a rookie. I don’t think a lot of people saw that coming,” Jackson told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 30-year-old added that Wentz “has all the intangibles in being a big-time quarterback in this league.”

More from the NFC East:

  • Despite a report claiming that right tackle Doug Free is mulling retirement, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says he has heard no such talk (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). The 33-year-old Free just finished his 10th season and sixth with 16 starts. He’s entering a contract year and due a base salary of $5MM in 2017.
  • Although Ereck Flowers was the ninth overall pick in the draft just two years ago, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo was unwilling to call him the team’s answer at left tackle going forward, writes Tom Rock of Newsday. Flowers was disastrous for a large part of last season, as he allowed 59 QB pressures and took a league-high 13 penalties. However, he’s still just 22, of which McAdoo is cognizant. “You can make a case that he could be here right now preparing to go out and run in the Combine,” said McAdoo. “He’s a young player who has a lot of room to grow and we expect him to grow. We have confidence he’s going to grow.”
  • Cowboys tight ends coach Mike Pope is retiring after three years on Garrett’s staff, reports Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. The Cowboys will replace the 75-year-old Pope with senior offensive assistant Steve Loney. Pope coached in the league for 34 years, during which he won four Super Bowls with the Giants.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Chargers, Vikings, Lions, Giants

The Chargers will wait until after Thursday’s game against the Broncos before considering a head coaching change, a source tells Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Club ownership is thinking through all its options, and the most likely candidate to take over the team in the event that Mike McCoy is fired is offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt, in his second stint as San Diego’s play-caller, boasts seven-plus years of head coaching experience with the Cardinals and Titans.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Given that the club has $33MM worth of salaries on injured reserve at the moment, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said he needed a “magic wand” in order to fit new signee Jake Long‘s cap figure, writes Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Spielman, who said Minnesota had less than $50K in cap space before adding Long, claimed he didn’t need to restructure any other contracts to squeeze in the veteran offensive lineman. It’s unclear exactly how the Vikes made financial room for Long (one possibility, from my vantage point, could be tweaking another player’s incentives to “not likely to be earned”), and Krammer reports that Spielman was “vague” about the subject.
  • Lions defensive lineman Kerry Hyder has made an agent change. The 25-year-old will now be represented by Select Sports Group (Twitter link). Hyder, who was previously repped by Rich Rosa and Tony Agone, appears to be in the midst a breakout season with five sacks through five games.
  • The NFL is now looking into Giants tackle Ereck Flowers after he pushed a reporter after Sunday night’s game, according to a league official who spoke with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). After a poor showing against the Packers, Flowers shoved an ESPN scribe, but has since apologized for the incident.
  • With Dallas Thomas cut today, only three members of the Dolphins‘ nine-man 2013 draft class left are Dion Jordan, Jelani Jenkins, and Dion Sims, as Alex Marvez of The Sporting News tweets. Clearly, none of that trio has made a significant thus far in their Miami careers.

NFC Notes: Seahawks, Panthers, Giants, Eagles

The Seahawks are in the market for a No. 2 quarterback, meaning Russell Wilson‘s 2016 backup might not be on their roster right now, according to Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. Considering Seattle attempted to claim Connor Shaw off waivers earlier this week, its desire to land a signal-caller is no surprise. As Roster Resource shows, the only QBs under Seahawks control behind Wilson are undrafted rookie Trevone Boykin and second-year man Jake Heaps, who went unpicked in the 2015 draft and then spent time on the Jets’ practice squad and with the Brooklyn Bolts of the Fall Experimental Football League.

Free agent Tarvaris Jackson backed up Wilson from 2013-15, but he’s currently mired in serious legal issues. Fellow ex-Seahawks Charlie Whitehurst and Matt Flynn are also among those on the market. The biggest name without a contract is Michael Vick, who Phil Savage of ESPN believes is a logical fit for the Seahawks. Nick Foles could be an option if the Rams are willing to trade the 27-year-old to a division rival or if they ultimately release him, as PFR’s Dallas Robinson wrote last month.

More from the NFC:

  • In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio (audio link), Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy likened quarterback Cam Newton to two of the greatest athletes ever, NBA legends Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, in the way he challenges teammates in practice and brings out their best. Regarding how the Panthers have weathered the departures of standouts performers like Steve Smith, Jordan Gross, Greg Hardy and Josh Norman in recent years, Ealy told hosts Zig Fracassi and Phil Savage, “People change. The environment doesn’t,” before crediting the examples owner Jerry Richardson, head coach Ron Rivera and his staff, and the core leadership group of Newton, Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Charles Johnson and Greg Olsen have set.
  • While the Giants have shown interest in veteran free agent offensive tackles during the offseason – most recently Eugene Monroe – they haven’t added any, leaving Paul Schwartz of the New York Post perplexed. The Giants don’t want to shift 2015 ninth overall pick Ereck Flowers from the left to the right, which has turned off potential veteran acquisitions, per Schwartz. For now, Marshall Newhouse is in the incumbent starter on the right and will work this summer to retain the job. Newhouse started there in all 14 of his appearances last season and failed to impress Pro Football Focus’ evaluators, who ranked him 68th among 77 qualifying tackles.
  • With the July 14 supplemental draft 10 days away, Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.com took a look at the six-player class and concluded that the Eagles should steer clear of surrendering a 2017 draft choice for any of them.

Giants Rumors: Clady, Flowers, Beatty, Powers

Though the Giants did express some interest in left tackle Ryan Clady before he was shipped from the Broncos to the Jets, talks never became serious because of the draft pick compensation required, according to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. The Jets ultimately swapped a fifth-round pick for Clady and a seventh-rounder, a price that was apparently too steep for the Giants. Big Blue may have had more definitive interest in Clady had he been released by Denver, per Raanan.

Let’s take a look at a few more Giants note, all courtesy of Raanan…

  • Another barrier to Clady joining the Giants was the presence of Ereck Flowers, whom New York wants to keep at left tackle, writes Raanan. However, the club still wants to add depth along the offensive line, so they could spend a mid-round pick on a tackle to compete with Marshall Newhouse and Bobby Hart on the right side.
  • One offensive line option who likely won’t be considered is tackle Will Beatty, whom the Giants released in early March. Though Raanan reports that Beatty, who tore his pectoral muscle and missed the entire 2015 season, is expected to be near full strength before the summer, both the Giants and Beatty have decided to move in different directions.
  • Former Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers visited the Giants at the tail end of March, and the club is thought to have made an offer worth roughly $2MM, according to Raanan. Powers is said to be looking for more money, so while he remains an option for the New York, no signing appears to be imminent.
  • Free agent linebacker Kelvin Sheppard announced this morning that he would be signing with the Giants, and Raanan confirms that Sheppard is expected to be with the team on Monday. Sheppard wasn’t the only linebacker on New York’s radar, per Rannan, who says the club also had interest in Nate Stupar before he joined the Saints.

East Notes: Coughlin, Flowers, Jets, Patriots

As the latest Giants‘ blown lead continues the latest speculation surrounding Tom Coughlin‘s job, the 12th-year Giants coach admits frustration by his critical decisions being sabotaged by on-field sequences, Tom Rock of Newsday writes.

Big Blue’s longtime leader, though, said he doesn’t pay attention to inquiries about his job being in jeopardy.

Coughlin’s led the Giants to five playoff berths — which is one shy of Bill Parcells‘ six for the most in team history since the AFL-NFL merger — three NFC East titles and two Super Bowls since taking the franchise’s reins in 2004.

Here’s some more from East Rutherford, N.J., and some of the other Eastern-division teams.

  • Coughlin’s questionable clock management this season notwithstanding, Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News writes the Giants’ injuries and overall lack of talent have put the team on the verge of missing the postseason for a fourth straight year. Vacchiano sees the Eli Manning-to-Odell Beckham connection as perhaps Big Blue’s only playoff-worthy facet, with injuries to Victor Cruz, Johnathan Hankins and maladies across the offensive line have exposed a lack of depth.
  • Ereck Flowers remains on crutches after going down with an ankle injury in Sunday’s loss to the Jets, NFL.com’s Kimberly Jones reports (on Twitter). Fellow rookie Bobby Hart, a seventh-rounder, represents the Giants’ only remaining tackle depth behind Flowers and Marshall Newhouse.
  • Sidelined with a Lisfranc injury Jets defensive end Mike Catapano will be out at least a couple of games and could be an injured reserve candidate, ESPN.com Rich Cimini tweets. Serving as depth behind star defensive ends Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, Catapano’s played in three games for the Jets this season after residing in Kansas City the past two years.
  • Tom Brady‘s legal team lobbed some more salvos at the NFL, when the league attempted to have the Patriots quarterback’s four-game suspension reinstated. The NFLPA argued Judge Richard Berman was not starstruck by Brady’s celebrity, according to Bob McGovern of the Boston Herald.
  • The Patriots hosted cornerback Leonard Johnson on a visit, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss (via Twitter). A 25-year-old former UDFA, Johnson served as the Buccaneers’ nickel back last season and started 17 games for Tampa Bay from 2012-14. He hasn’t played in 2015.

Injury Updates: 9/20/15

The big news is the Tony Romo injury, which could have a devastating effect on the Cowboys’ season. We already looked at a major injury to Bills safety Aaron Williams – who appeared to be doing okay after being taken to a hospital, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (via Twitter) – and a potential starting quarterback injury for Jay Cutler of the Bears. Here’s a roundup of other noteworthy injuries from Sunday’s action. Any additional injury updates from the afternoon games will be added to the top of the page throughout the day.

Earlier:

  • Ereck Flowers left the Giants-Falcons game with an ankle injury, and was not able to return, writes Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Flowers has dealt with ankle injuries for a few weeks, and Jordan Raanan of NJ.com notes that head coach Tom Coughlin hopes those issues aren’t continuous (via Twitter).
  • Eagles linebacker Kiko Alonso has been ruled out of the remainder of today’s game vs. the Cowboys due to a left knee injury, tweets Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As McLane observes, that’s the same knee that suffered a torn ACL in 2014.
  • Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was getting X-rays taken after the loss to the Vikings, reports Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). Detroit Lions senior writer Tim Twentyman writes that Stafford confirmed the X-rays were taken of his chest and ribs (via Twitter).
  • Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy left the 26-19 win over the Saints with a right arm injury, reports Jenna Laine of Sports Talk 1040 The Team in Tampa (via Twitter). Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times adds that McCoy was not moving his right arm in the locker room (via Twitter).
  • Titans right guard Chance Warmack will have an MRI on his knee on Monday after injuring it today, but the initial diagnosis is a sprained MCL, according to Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com (Twitter links).

NFC Mailbags: Packers, Giants, Cowboys

It’s Saturday morning, and that means ESPN.com’s NFL writers are opening their mailbags and answering questions from readers. Let’s start with notes from the NFC, with a cameo from the Dallas Morning News’ Bob Sturm…

  • Quarterback Brett Hundley is a lock to make the Packers roster, says Rob Demovsky. At wideout, the writer believes Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis will make the team.
  • The Packers could opt to keep a pair of fullbacks (John Kuhn and Aaron Ripkowski) on their opening day roster, writes Demovsky. This would probably require the team to keep only two running backs, and the writer can’t imagine the Packers going into the year with only Eddie Lacy and James Starks. If there were to be a third running back, Demovsky believes the competition is between Rajion Neal and John Crockett, with Neal being the favorite.
  • If Giants rookie Ereck Flowers shows promise at left tackle, Dan Graziano says the team could move on from veteran Will Beatty following the season. Beatty, who is scheduled to make $6.675MM next season, is expected to be out until at least November.
  • The Cowboys must be careful when Terrance Williams becomes a free agent in an effort to not overpay what Sturm calls an “adequate” wideout in a mailbag.
  • Sturm also predicts the Cowboys will regress in the running game but won’t be set for a freefall without DeMarco Murray, with Tony Romo ready to assume more control of the offense. Sturm expects Joseph Randle to be the starter in what is expected to be a coalition approach to replacing the league’s rushing leader.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.