Matthew Stafford

NFC Notes: Mixon, Eagles, Lions, Stafford

Thanks to his off-field transgressions, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon‘s draft stock is reportedly dropping, but the Eagles are among those who have him on their board, writes Jeff McLane of Philly.com. Owner Jeffrey Lurie has given team brass his blessing to consider drafting Mixon, two sources confirmed to McLane. Notably, two of the Eagles’ key decision-makers, vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and VP of player personnel Joe Douglas, spoke highly of Mixon’s abilities on Thursday. “There’s not much he can’t do,” Roseman said. “He’s incredible with the ball in his hands, you can split him out, he’s got really good hands [as a receiver], he can pass-protect, he can make people miss.” Douglas added that “a lot of people think that he is one of the top backs in this draft,” but he noted that “most teams” are considering Mixon’s character issues.

More on Philadelphia and a pair of its NFC foes:

  • Speculatively, Mixon could be a possibility for the Eagles beginning in Round 2. Before debating whether to take him, they’ll have to make a decision in the opening round, where they’re slated to pick 14th. The club has come up with “probably about seven or eight scenarios” for that spot, according to Douglas, and Roseman expects to end up with a star-caliber player with that selection. “One thing I know — when we make a pick at 14, with the way our board looks right now, we’re going to all be high-fiving then, and very excited about that pick,” declared Roseman (via Les Bowen of Philly.com).
  • Entering a contract year, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could become the highest-paid player in the NFL by next offseason, though Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press argues that he’s not worth it. While Monarrez expects the Lions to cave to Stafford’s demands, he opines that the signal-caller’s age (30 next February) and zero playoff wins are among the reasons the team would be better off letting him test the market than become the league’s richest player in Detroit.
  • Speaking of the Lions, general manager Bob Quinn addressed the strengths of this year’s draft Thursday, saying it’s particularly deep at running back, wide receiver, cornerback, safety and tight end (Twitter link via Tim Twentyman of the team website).
  • Linebacker Sam Acho‘s one-year deal with the Bears is worth $855K, including $130K fully guaranteed, tweets ESPN’s Adam Caplan.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFC Notes: Lions, Saints, Cards, Redskins

Quarterback Matthew Stafford told reporters Tuesday that he “would love” to sign an extension with the Lions, but further comments indicate he’s looking to cash in – not take any kind of a discount – writes Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Stafford addressed whether a mega-deal with the Lions would hinder their ability to build a quality team around him, saying: “I know every year teams find good ways to put good teams around good quarterbacks. You see it every year. So I’m not too worried about that. I know that the salary caps and all that kind of stuff is as malleable as you want it to be, so I think you just go and try and make a good decision for not only the player but the team and go from there.” Only four of the NFL’s 10 highest-paid quarterbacks were on teams that made the playoffs last season, with top-compensated signal-caller Andrew Luck among those whose clubs didn’t qualify. Thanks to the ever-rising cap, Stafford, 17th in QB salary in 2016, could be in line to supplant Luck as the league’s richest passer on his next deal.

More from the NFC:

  • The fact that quarterback Drew Brees is entering his age-38 season is a good reason for the Saints to swing a deal for New England cornerback Malcolm Butler, argues Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Butler would occupy a hefty chunk of New Orleans’ cap room with an extension and would likely cost the team the 32nd overall pick, but he’s young enough (27) and has proven enough to make a trade a worthwhile move for a win-now team whose best player, Brees, might not have much time left, Triplett suggests. Butler signed his restricted free agent tender Tuesday, making him eligible for a trade. The Saints have shown significant interest in Butler this spring, even engaging in productive contract talks with him last month.
  • If the Cardinals were to draft a quarterback, that player would step into a “unique” situation, head coach Bruce Arians told Darren Urban of the team’s website (Twitter link). The Cardinals will rest aging starter Carson Palmer each Wednesday during the season, enabling the rookie to helm the first-team offense in practice once a week and perhaps expedite his development. Arizona owns the 13th overall pick and has shown interest in several draft-bound QBs, including prospective first-rounders Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Davis Webb and DeShone Kizer.
  • The way the Redskins approach the offensive tackle position in the draft could be a sign of how extension talks are going with Morgan Moses, observes Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic. The right tackle is set to play a contract year, so it’s possible the Redskins will spend an early pick on a potential replacement. On the other hand, if they only address the position late or not at all, it may bode well for a new Moses deal. Washington has the money to get a deal done, opines Tandler, who expects Moses to earn $6MM to $7MM annually on his next pact. The 25-year-old has certainly made a case for a raise – he’s coming off his second consecutive 16-start season, one in which he ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 17th-best tackle among 78 qualifiers.
  • Meanwhile, Tandler senses that Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy and safety Bashaud Breeland are inclined to wait on discussing extensions (though it’s unclear whether the team is pursuing deals with either). While Murphy tallied a career-high nine sacks last season, his contract year has already gotten off to an inauspicious start with a four-game suspension. Breeland just switched agents, but judging by Tandler’s report, he’s not ready to put his new rep’s negotiating skills to the test quite yet.

Extra Points: Hankins, Stafford, Falcons

Even though it took him until Tuesday to visit the Colts, newly signed defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins said Friday that his agent had been in contact with the team since the scouting combine in March. “We spoke to ’em I guess when my agent met with them at the combine and always been in contact with them,’’ Hankins revealed (via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post). “We were always in contact with a number of teams, and the Colts really stepped out among them all. Took a visit here, met with the coaches and everything just fell right in place. It was a good — I won’t say easy — decision, but it was a good decision for me and my family and I’m excited to be here.” Now armed with a three-year, $30MM contract, Hankins expects to make an impact in Indianapolis from both run-stuffing and pass-rushing standpoints.

Here’s more from around the league.

  • The Lions continue to engage in conversations about a Matthew Stafford extension, and the talks are unfolding amicably, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Bob Quinn told season-ticket holders today he and Jim Caldwell, unsurprisingly, want Stafford in Detroit long-term but still doesn’t anticipate anything being done until the summer. That’s been his stance throughout the offseason.
  • Stafford joins Matt Ryan and Derek Carr as quarterbacks who could become the league’s highest-paid player by summer’s end. The Lions’ ninth-year starter should look to build in protections for future cap spikes to ensure he stays near the top of that list, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. While this kind of deal has not been completed, Florio notes some quarterbacks and agents have tried to insert such language into contracts. It would cost the Lions $26.4MM to use the franchise tag on Stafford next season.
  • O.J. Howard has the Falcons slotted as his final pre-draft visit, Conor Orr of NFL.com tweets. The Alabama tight end would seem to require a near-Julio Jones-level trade from the Falcons if they were to select him, being presently stationed in the No. 31 position. PFR’s Dallas Robinson has the pass-catcher going off the board to the Jaguars at No. 4.
  • The Texans hosted safety Josh Jones on a visit today, per Caplan (via Twitter). Safety may now reside as Houston’s top need on an otherwise loaded defense after the unit lost Quintin Demps to the Bears. An N.C. State product, Jones paid a visit to Miami last week and has trips to meet with the Panthers, Jets and Redskins set up.
  • As he prepares for a contract year, Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland will switch agencies, writes Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post. Breeland is ditching CAA Sports in favor of Joe Flanagan, two sources told Tesfatsion. Breeland has been productive since the Redskins selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, having totaled 42 starts and seven interceptions during his first three seasons. The 25-year-old logged career highs in tackles (71) and picks (three) in 2016, though Pro Football Focus ranked his performance just 81st among 111 qualified corners.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

NFC Notes: Giants, Hankins, Lions, Rams

Giants co-owner Steve Tisch confirmed Monday that the team has an offer on the table to re-up free agent defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, per James Kratch of NJ.com. The Giants submitted the multiyear proposal before the opening of the market, where Hankins hasn’t been able to find a payday to his liking. Contrary to a prior report, the Giants haven’t set a deadline for the 25-year-old to accept their contract, according to Tisch, who’s “very optimistic” an agreement will happen and “pretty convinced” Hankins wants to re-sign.

A few other NFC notes:

  • Tisch also spoke on the Giants’ long-term quarterback situation, saying “there’s no urgency” to find an heir to Eli Manning, “but it’s in the back of everybody’s mind” (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY). Manning will play his age-36 season in 2017.
  • The Lions are in the “very early stages” of contract extension negotiations with quarterback Matthew Stafford, general manager Bob Quinn told the team’s website (via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). Quinn indicated that it’s going to take “months, not weeks” for a deal to come together. Stafford, 29, is slated to enter a contract year.
  • On the heels of their unsuccessful attempt to swipe center Ryan Groy from the Bills, the Rams continue to look for a solution at the position, reports Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. The Rams want an experienced pivot to team with young quarterback Jared Goff, and they’re scouring the trade and free agent markets to acquire one (Nick Mangold is available, for what it’s worth). Aside from possibly signing a center, the Rams are all but done with free agency, Gonzalez adds.

Extra Points: Falcons, Lions, Raiders, Draft

With their contracts soon to expire, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Lions signal-caller Matthew Stafford should each be in line for extensions this offseason. But their respective general managers indicated Wednesday that new deals aren’t imminent.

“I’m saying that eventually, we will address Matt Ryan and his contract,” said the Falcons’ Thomas Dimitroff (via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com). “Right now, our focus is going to be on this year’s class, understanding that Matt is a very important part of our future, as every knows — an extremely important part of our future.”

The Lions’ Bob Quinn took a similar tack, stating (per Kyle Meinke of MLive.com): “We’re kind of taking it one step at a time with the current free-agent class, the current draft class. I mean, these things don’t usually happen in April or May. That’s not a realistic timeline for an extension for a quarterback. But that’s something we do have on the agenda, and we’ll hopefully be able to have some discussions.”

Ryan and Stafford have the same representative, Tom Condon, who figures to help them become two of the league’s highest-paid passers in the coming months. Ryan still has another two years left on the extension he signed in 2013, while Stafford is due to become a free agent after next season.

Elsewhere around the league:

  • Like Stafford, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is going into a contract year, though Carr hopes his status changes soon. “I’m a Raider for life,” he told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday (via Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com). “I don’t want to play anywhere else. When I got drafted, this is where I wanted to be anyway. I don’t want to go anywhere, ever. They told me they don’t want me to go anywhere, ever. Now it’s about two people who want to be together, and how do we make that happen? We’ll see.” GM Reggie McKenzie made it clear in January that he’s aiming to extend Carr sooner than later.
  • Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas is drawing similar buzz to highly touted DE prospects Myles Garrett (Texas A&M) and Jonathan Allen (Alabama) at the combine, tweets Peter Schrager of FOX Sports. All three seem like good bets to end up among the first players to come off the board, with Garrett standing a strong chance to go No. 1 overall. The 6-foot-3, 271-pound Thomas piled up 61 tackles, including 14 for loss, and 8.5 sacks last season.
  • Quinn is “disappointed” controversial Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon did not get a combine invite, and the Lions executive isn’t closing the door on drafting him (Twitter link via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News). Mixon is a high-round talent, but his draft stock is in question on account of a disturbing July 2014 physical altercation that led Oklahoma to redshirt him that season. Mixon was caught on video striking a fellow student, Alicia Molitor, who he claims used a racial slur and spit in his face. As a result, Mixon was placed on probation for one year and ordered to release the video.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Stafford, Boldin, Tice, McCoy

As the Dolphins and Steelers do battle, let’s take a look at some notes from around the league:

  • Lions quarterback Matt Stafford will not need surgery on his injured right middle finger, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Stafford was excellent for much of the season, but he completed just 58.6% of his passes for four touchdowns and five interceptions after the injury, and he could get nothing going in a frustrating season-ending loss to Seattle last night.
  • Lions WR Anquan Boldin had a nice first season in Detroit, and the 36-year-old wideout, who posted 67 catches for 584 yards and a team-leading eight touchdowns, plans to return for his 15th season in the league in 2017, according to Nate Atkins of MLive.com.
  • The contract for Raiders O-line coach Mike Tice is up, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, but Oakland has prioritized bringing him back. That makes sense, as the team is sending three offensive linemen to the Pro Bowl this year.
  • Former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy will apparently not be unemployed for long. Rapoport tweets that McCoy is largely considered the top offensive coordinator available and has been mentioned as many teams’ offensive coordinator of choice.
  • Even if the Dolphins were to pull off the upset in Pittsburgh this afternoon, the team is not counting on Ryan Tannehill to return next week, according to Rapoport (via Twitter). Tannehill was, at least, able to practice on Friday.
  • Ohio State WR Noah Brown will enter the NFL draft, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (via Twitter). The 6-2, 218-pound wideout had a breakout year for the Buckeyes, and is currently projected to be selected in the second or third round of the draft.
  • In a series of articles, OverTheCap.com offers a preview of the strongest and weakest offensive positions in this year’s free agent class, examines which linebackers could become cap casualties, and projects the 2017 compensatory picks.

Matthew Stafford Tears Ligaments In Throwing Hand

The Lions moved to 9-4 today and remain in strong position to clinch their first NFC North championship, but the franchise’s degree of difficulty looks to have been raised. Matthew Stafford will be required to throw with a glove on his hand due to tearing multiple ligaments in his right middle finger, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports.

The eighth-year quarterback also dislocated the finger, per Schefter, with the top of it bent downwards “at a 90-degree angle” with the passer having no control over the top part of it at present, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com notes.

Rothstein points out Stafford intends to play through this malady, one that could well sideline many players. Stafford injured the finger during a first-quarter play on which he was called for intentional grounding, but his throwing hand collided with Bears pass-rusher Leonard Floyd, resulting in Stafford putting a glove on to manage it the rest of the way. Although he threw a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin and gave the Lions a lead they didn’t relinquish with a touchdown run, leading Detroit to another comeback victory, Stafford said postgame the injury affected his grip and the velocity of his throws.

Just tried to play through it,” Stafford said, via Rothstein. “Play as good as I could. I let those guys know that it may not be pretty coming in there, but those guys made some great plays for me. Obviously didn’t play as well as I can.”

Stafford completed 21-of-35 passes for 223 yards and threw two interceptions in addition to his TD toss. He has dealt with this kind of setback before. During the 2011 season, the former No. 1 overall pick fractured the index finger on his throwing hand and wore a glove. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press points out he threw four interceptions in his first game with the glove that year and five more in the ensuing two contests. However, Stafford finished that season with a glowing stat line — 41 touchdown passes and 5,038 air yards — during a campaign in which the Lions qualified for the playoffs.

Seeking their second playoff berth in three years and first division title in 23 seasons, the Lions close the season with games against the Giants, Cowboys and Packers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Matthew Stafford Denies $25MM/Year Target

Over the weekend, it was reported that Matthew Stafford wants $25MM per year on his next contract. When asked about those rumblings today, Stafford issued a clear denial. Matthew Stafford (vertical)

[RELATED: Jason La Canfora On Stafford And Much More]

That was news to me, to tell you the truth,” Stafford said. “Hadn’t, obviously, had any thoughts of that in my mind, to tell you the truth. I don’t know where that came from or how it got out there, but I’m focused on our team, this season, playing well this week. That’s really all I care about.”

It’s possible that Stafford has that $25MM figure in mind, but doesn’t want his contract to become a distraction for the team. Stafford may also be telling the truth on a technicality. It could be his reps that are seeking $25MM per season while he mostly stays out of the talks. In any event, this is a public denial by Stafford that he is eyeing a contract that would make him the highest-paid player in the NFL.

Stafford closed strong in 2015 and he has continued to play well through the first half of 2016. He’s not the top quarterback in the NFL, but timing is everything and between his contract year performance, the league’s dearth of reliable quarterbacks, and the increased salary cap, he could be poised to set a new watermark. Stafford doesn’t turn 29 until February and Andrew Luck‘s five-year extension worth $24.6MM per year could be in his crosshairs.

So far this year, Stafford is Pro Football Focus’ No. 9 rated QB in the NFL, putting him behind Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Luck, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Derek Carr, Carson Wentz, and Cam Newton. By that measure, he’s also ahead of guys like Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, and Philip Rivers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora’s Latest: Browns, Stafford, Chargers

Let’s take a look at the latest notes and rumors from CBS Sports scribe Jason La Canfora:

  • In the wake of the Browns’ 0-10 start and head coach Hue Jackson‘s curious decision to bench rookie QB Cody Kessler in the second half of the team’s loss to Baltimore on Thursday night, La Canfora writes that tensions are mounting once more in Cleveland. The benching of Kessler–who has been one of the few sources of optimism for the club this year–created a rift between the front office and coaching staff, and it appears that more changes are on the way. At the very least, defensive coordinator Ray Horton could be relieved of his duties sooner rather than later, but owner Jimmy Haslam, who has a penchant for wholesale changes, could initiate another major shakeup. La Canfora adds that Haslam and his wife, Dee, have become increasingly hands-on, with roughly 10 departments reporting directly to ownership. Morale is especially low within the organization, as the Haslams are not football people by trade and their increased involvement is only serving to alienate their direct reports.
  • Matthew Stafford is enjoying a terrific 2016 campaign, and his performance thus far, combined with the Lions‘ status as a playoff contender, has put him into the middle of the MVP discussion. Although it is too early to consider such awards, it is not too early to consider what a new contract for Stafford might look like. The Georgia product is under club control through 2017, and it has become increasingly likely that the team will explore an extension for their star signal-caller after this season is over. La Canfora confirms that those contract talks will indeed happen, and he adds that Stafford’s reps will be seeking to secure a deal that pays their client over $25MM per season. Given rising salaries for quarterbacks, including those less accomplished than Stafford–who has thrived since Jim Bob Cooter took over as offensive coordinator last November–it seems likely that Stafford will hit that target. That is especially true since Stafford’s franchise tag number for 2018 would be $26.4MM, as former NFL agent Joel Corry tweets.
  • Although the Chargers will likely play out the 2017 season in San Diego, league sources believe the club has little choice but to ultimately join the Rams in Los Angeles. Even after voters resoundingly opposed the plan to construct a publicly funded $1.15 billion stadium for the Chargers in downtown San Diego, there was some optimism about an eventual deal, but La Canfora writes such optimism is misplaced. The voting results were even more lopsided than many anticipated, and league sources believe team owner Dean Spanos will relocate in the wake of the defeat. Those sources suggest that there is no “secret plan” to keep the Chargers in San Diego.
  • The Raiders are sitting pretty atop the AFC West, and they have spent very little cash to get to that point. So little, in fact, that they are the only team yet to reach the spending threshold mandated in the collective bargaining agreement. The CBA requires that each team spend at least 89% of the salary cap in cash in a four-year period by the time the 2016 league year concludes, and Oakland has yet to reach that mark. If they fail to do so, the NFLPA would receive the difference in cash and could assign the funds as it sees to fit. For instance, the union could distribute that money to needy current and former Raiders who played for the team during that four-year span. However, as La Canfora observes, it is more likely the Raiders use the excess cash to reinvest in the club, with a new contract for pending free agent Latavius Murray a possibility. Plus, a player who received a signing bonus between now and the start of the 2017 league year on March 9 could have a portion of that bonus applied to the 2016 cap to comply with the spending rule.

NFC Notes: Lions, Staley, Redskins

Let’s take a look at some notes from the NFC as we head into the full slate of Week 9 action:

  • Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com says that Lions fans should not expect any shakeups in the club’s defensive coaching staff this year, even if the defense continues to struggle. Rothstein notes that Teryl Austin is a good coordinator and that the team has shown improvement in some areas–like its pass rush and in total yards allowed–and the fact that Austin’s unit has been ravaged by injury gives him a bit of a pass.
  • Speaking of injured Lions, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets that Detroit could try to make DeAndre Levy restructure his contract at the end of the year. Levy is set to count $8.39MM against the cap, and the Lions would be on the hook for $7.2MM in dead money if they were to cut Levy.
  • We learned earlier today that the Raiders were going to prioritize a new contract for Derek Carr this offseason, and former NFL agent Joel Corry tweets that Matthew Stafford would be wise to wait and see what type of deal Carr gets before entering into extension talks with the Lions.
  • 49ers tackle Joe Staley, now 32, has not given any thought to retirement, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. Staley was the subject of trade rumors leading up to last week’s deadline, but he never thought he would be dealt and he continues to be singularly focused on returning the Lombardi Trophy to the Niners. He is under contract through 2019.
  • Josh Doctson‘s lost rookie season may change things, but John Keim of ESPN.com does not foresee the Redskins retaining more than one of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Both players, in fact, may look to move on in 2017, and if that happens, Washington would be forced to look for wide receiver help on the open market and/or expend a high draft choice on a wideout.
  • We learned earlier today that the Packers would bring in free agent RB Joique Bell for a workout tomorrow.