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Panthers Place RB Christian McCaffrey On IR

Christian McCaffrey is set to miss at least three more games. The Panthers announced today (via Twitter) that they’ve placed their star running back on injured reserve.

This is a tough blow for the Panthers. McCaffrey hasn’t played since he exited his Week 3 contest with a hamstring injury. The Panthers’ initial decision to not place their starting RB on injured reserve provided some optimism that the player would be back sooner than later. Considering the three-week IR requirement, some even assumed the 25-year-old would be back on the field this weekend considering he’s already missed two games.

Alas, we found out yesterday that McCaffrey wouldn’t play tomorrow against the Vikings. Now, thanks to today’s move, the versatile offensive weapon won’t see the field until at least the team’s matchup against the Patriots on November 7.

Following a historic 2019 campaign that saw him finish with 2,392 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns, the Panthers made McCaffrey the highest-paid RB in the NFL when they gave him a four-year, $64MM deal. However, the RB was limited to only three games last season, and he completed only two games in 2021 before suffering another injury. Through two-plus games this year, McCaffrey has collected 364 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown on 68 carries.

With McCaffrey still out of the lineup, the team will continue relying on rookie fourth-round pick Chuba Hubbard as their top running back. The fill-in had the best game of his rookie campaign in Week 5, finishing with 134 yards from scrimmage.

The Panthers made a handful of additional moves today, including placing rookie offensive lineman Deonte Brown on IR. The team also signed guard Michael Jordan to the active roster, and they promoted punter Ryan Winslow and running back Spencer Brown from the taxi squad.

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Rich Bisaccia Expected To Serve As Raiders Interim HC

With Jon Gruden out in Las Vegas, the Raiders are turning to their special teams coach. Rich Bisaccia is expected to serve as the Raiders interim head coach, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Jon Gruden To Resign As Raiders Head Coach]

Following a college coaching career that spanned almost 20 years, Bisaccia joined the Buccaneers (alongside Gruden) as their special teams coordinator in 2002. He won a Super Bowl during his first season with the organization, and he later took on the role of assistant head coach in 2009 and 2010.

He spent a pair of seasons with the Chargers before a five-year stint as the Cowboys special teams coordinator and assistant head coach. Following Gruden’s hiring by the Raiders in 2018, Bisaccia joined the organization in the same roles.

The 61-year-old doesn’t have any NFL head coaching experience, but he’ll have some experienced assistant coaches that he can rely on. Adam Caplan points out on Twitter that offensive coordinator Greg Olson will be capable of running the offense moving forward. Offensive line coach Tom Cable can also provide some guidance, as he served as the Raiders head coach from 2008 to 2010.

Jon Gruden To Resign As Raiders Head Coach

Jon Gruden has notified his staff that he’ll be resigning as head coach of the Raiders, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). Gruden also met with Mark Davis to inform the owner of his decision (per Pelissero).

The resignation comes in the wake of a weekend Wall Street Journal report that detailed Gruden’s use of a racial trope to describe NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith in old emails. Then tonight, the New York Times published a damning report that cited more emails showcasing the coach’s use of derogatory and offensive language. This included (and was not limited to) crude remarks about commissioner Roger Goodell, gay NFL players, female referees, and Washington cheerleaders. The emails in question were sent to former Washington executive Bruce Allen, and the league was only aware of the emails because of the previous investigation into the Washington Football Team.

That WSJ report was published on Saturday, and despite the negative reaction, Gruden was still allowed to coach during the Raiders loss to the Bears yesterday. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter), the NFL had forwarded the Raiders the emails that were cited in tonight’s NYT article, and the league was waiting for the organization to react. Per Jason La Canfora (on Twitter), the league was ready to step in if the Raiders didn’t punish their head coach.

It’s a remarkable and swift fall for Gruden, who was on the fourth year of a 10-year, $100MM contract he signed with the Raiders in 2018. Gruden wasn’t able to guide the Raiders to the postseason during his three full seasons with the organization, going 19-29 and peaking with an 8-8 season in 2020. The Raiders were 3-2 through the first chunk of the 2021 campaign.

“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” Gruden said in a statement (via Vic Tafur of The Athletic on Twitter). “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

Gruden got his first head coaching gig in Oakland in 1998, and he was at the helm of two playoff teams during his four-year stint. He joined the Buccaneers via an iconic trade in 2002, and he won a Super Bowl during his first season with the organization. Gruden would ultimately spend seven seasons in Tampa Bay, and he turned to a high-profile TV gig after getting fired by the Bucs in 2009.

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Seahawks Preparing For Extended Russell Wilson Absence

Russell Wilson‘s finger injury looks likely to stop his start streak at 149. The Seahawks are bracing for at least a four-week absence for their perennial Pro Bowl quarterback, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

Aiming to prioritize Wilson’s long-term health, the Seahawks are prepared to sit their future Hall of Fame passer for perhaps six to eight weeks, Fowler adds. Wilson suffered a ruptured middle finger tendon in Thursday’s loss to the Rams. He is likely to undergo surgery.

Wilson’s hand slammed against the helmet of a Rams defender last night as he was throwing to wide receiver Tyler Lockett. He managed to finish out the drive with a handoff but could only attempt one pass on the following possession. Wilson was ultimately forced out in the second half, a rare sight for one of the league’s few ironmen. Geno Smith stepped into Wilson’s nine-plus-year spot as Seattle’s QB1. It is likely Smith, who made one start from 2015-20, will move up into that spot for a lengthy stretch.

This is new territory for the Seahawks, who drafted Wilson in the 2012 third round and saw him take the reins in Week 1 of his rookie season and never relinquish them. A few backups have passed through Seattle without playing many meaningful snaps during Wilson’s tenure. A 2019 free agent signing, Smith attempted just nine passes during his first two seasons with the Seahawks. He surpassed that Thursday night.

In a stacked NFC West, this spells obvious trouble for the Seahawks. Their Week 5 loss dropped them to 2-3. The franchise dealt with a disgruntled Wilson this offseason and moved to placate him, to a certain degree, by hiring Shane Waldron as OC and trading for veteran guard Gabe Jackson. While the sides patched things up and moved forward this season, Wilson’s long-term Seattle status is uncertain. Although his contract runs through 2023, Wilson listed four trade destinations this offseason and briefly came up in trade rumors with the Bears. Now, the soon-to-be 33-year-old QB’s short- and long-term statuses are somewhat uncertain.

The Seahawks have three more games — against the Steelers, Saints and Jaguars — before their Week 9 bye. Games against the Packers and Cardinals follow the bye, should Wilson’s timetable move into that six- to eight-week range.

Smith, 31 on Sunday, spent two seasons as the Jets’ starter but saw a strange 2015 offseason event — a locker-room sucker punch from teammate I.K. Ememkpali — halt his run as Gang Green’s starter. Ryan Fitzpatrick took over that year, and Smith then bounced from the Giants to the Chargers to his current post. Smith’s lone start over the past six seasons came when he ended Eli Manning‘s ironman streak in 2017.

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Packers, LB Jaylon Smith Finalizing Deal

5:09pm: This may not be a done deal just yet. While the Packers are in discussions, Smith has not informed them of a commitment, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com tweets. Other teams are still pursuing the sixth-year veteran, though Demovsky adds the Packers are the favorites. Still, Smith is believed to want to play in Green Bay, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). That may still be where this is headed, but the process is not finished.

4:32pm: After news of the Packers’ interest in Jaylon Smith surfaced, it appears the linebacker is planning to head to Wisconsin. The Packers and Smith are finalizing a contract, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The Giants and Eagles may have had Smith on their radars, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, but the former Cowboys defender is expected to land in Green Bay (Twitter link). Smith and Matt LaFleur were both at Notre Dame in 2014, when the former was a sophomore and the latter the Fighting Irish’s quarterbacks coach. LaFleur remains high on the linebacker.

The Packers did win a bit of a bidding war for Smith, but with the Cowboys paying most of his 2021 salary, Rapoport notes this amount to more of a recruiting battle (Twitter link). After spending time in the northern Midwest in college, Smith will head back to Big Ten country. The Cowboys are on the hook for Smith’s $7.2MM 2021 base salary. Despite losing ex-Packer Blake Martinez for the season, the Giants are not believed to have expressed strong interest, Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets.

Smith made the Pro Bowl in 2019, and his 154 tackles last season finished behind only the Texans’ Zach Cunningham. Still in his age-26 season, Smith has graded as a top-15 linebacker this year, per Pro Football Focus, and should be set to see extensive time on Green Bay’s defense. The Packers have seen mid-offseason addition De’Vondre Campbell deliver thus far; the ex-Falcons and Cardinals starter is averaging 10 tackles per game. Green Bay will have another 2016 draftee join him soon. Campbell went in the 2016 fourth round; Smith — due only to the severe foot injury he suffered in that year’s Fiesta Bowl — lasted until Round 2.

Dallas ended Smith’s five-plus-season tenure Tuesday night, doing so after having added three linebackers — first-rounder Micah Parsons, fourth-rounder Jabril Cox and UFA Keanu Neal — this offseason. Smith played 56% of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps thus far this season, which represents a significant downgrade from his full-time work over the past four years. Leading a linebacking corps that housed injury-prone cogs Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee, Smith has not missed a game since his 2016 injury-redshirt year of sorts.

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Patriots Trade Stephon Gilmore To Panthers

The Patriots have traded cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the Panthers. In exchange, the Panthers will send a 2023 sixth-rounder to New England. 

Gilmore was set to be released by the Patriots, but Bill Belichick & Co. managed to find a trade instead. The 31-year-old will now help replace first-round pick Jaycee Horn, who is out with a broken foot. Gilmore, the 2019 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, now headlines a Panthers CB group with Donte Jackson, former top-10 pick C.J. Henderson, A.J. Bouye, and Rashaan Melvin.

Gilmore will be eligible to play after Week 6, pending the status of his quad injury. That means he could debut as soon as Week 7, when the Panthers face the Giants in New Jersey.

Gilmore spent his first five years with the Bills before moving on to the Patriots in 2017. He went on to win a ring with the Pats in 2018 and took his game to a whole new level in ’19, en route to DPOY honors. After notching a career-high six interceptions, Gilmore wanted a new contract to reflect his performance and the dramatic uptick in the CB market.

The Pats — in classic Belichick fashion — resisted. They’ll move forward with J.C. Jackson and Jalen Mills as their top two CBs with Jonathan Jones in the slot. They also have 2019 second-rounder Joejuan Williams in the mix, plus the recently-acquired Shaun Wade.

Now, Gilmore has a prime opportunity to shine with the 3-1 Panthers. Barring an extension, he’ll play out the remainder of his five-year, $65MM contract before testing free agency in the spring.

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Cowboys Release LB Jaylon Smith

The Cowboys are moving on from a former Pro Bowler. The team is releasing linebacker Jaylon Smith, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

The Cowboys will still be responsible for paying the $7.2MM that Smith is owed in 2021, and the team is going to be eating an additional $9.8MM in cap with the move (per ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter). That chunk of cap comes via Smith’s 2022 injury guarantees, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter), and that significant chunk of money is a big reason why the Cowboys were unable to find a trade suitor. Smith will be eligible to sign with a new team starting tomorrow afternoon.

Despite being relegated to a backup role in 2021, Smith had been playing pretty well for the Cowboys through the first month of the season. The linebacker had started two of his four games this season, collecting 18 tackles. However, after appearing in 104 defensive snaps in Week 2 and Week 3, Smith was limited to only 28 defensive snaps in Week 4.

The 2016 second-round pick evolved into one of the Cowboys most dependable defensive players during his stint in Dallas. He started each of the Cowboys 48 games between 2018 and 2020, including a 2019 campaign where he collected 142 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles en route to a Pro Bowl appearance. However, the play from teammates Keanu Neal and Leighton Vander Esch (as well as a potential increased role for Jabril Cox) made the veteran expendable.

Other than a weak Week 4 performance, Smith has been more than serviceable this season, ranking as Pro Football Focus’ 11th-best linebacker through the first four weeks (via Twitter). A linebacker-needy team will surely be happy to add the new free agent to their squad.

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Chiefs To Sign Josh Gordon

The Chiefs are set to sign newly reinstated wide receiver Josh Gordon (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). The former All-Pro will be joining Kansas City’s practice squad, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The goal is for Gordon to get up to speed before getting elevated to the active roster.

Gordon last played for the Seahawks, where he had seven catches for 139 yards across five games. Before that, he registered 60 grabs for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns for the Patriots between 2018 and 2019. Gordon played in just 17 games for New England between those years — a common theme for Gordon between his off-the-field issues and constant suspensions. Technically speaking, his last pro football action came in the Fan Controlled Football League, alongside ex-teammate Johnny Manziel.

The Chiefs will likely part ways with one of their lower-tier receivers to make room. As of this writing, Gordon gives KC seven WRs in Tyreek HillMecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, Marcus Kemp, and Daurice Fountain.

Gordon, 30, has not played a full season since his 2012 rookie year. Still, we all remember his superstar potential as a young player — his 14-game 2013 campaign still sits sixth on the NFL’s receiving yards-per-game list (117.6). Before long, the Chiefs will add him to their world-class offense and find out whether he’s still got some juice left.

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NFL Reinstates WR Josh Gordon

The NFL is greenlighting another Josh Gordon chance. The league informed the embattled wide receiver he will be reinstated, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, who adds Gordon is expected to be eligible to play in Week 4 (Twitter link).

Gordon applied for yet another reinstatement in July. He has not played since the 2019 season, when a suspension ended his active-roster run with the Seahawks, and is eight years removed from his All-Pro campaign. But the veteran wideout has persisted, with the NFL’s relaxed drug policy benefiting these repeated comeback efforts.

Now 30, Gordon is certainly not the player he once was. And the ex-Browns standout is one of the most unreliable performers in modern NFL history. He has not played a full season since his 2012 rookie year. Gordon played in the startup Fan Controlled Football league earlier this year, joining ex-teammate Johnny Manziel. While it looked like Gordon’s NFL career was over at that point, he has battled back yet again for reinstatement.

The Seahawks showed considerable patience with Gordon, keeping him on their roster throughout 2020. It looked like a Gordon return would commence for last year’s Seattle squad. The NFL reinstated him in December 2020, paving the way for a late-season Seahawks return. The team activated him in late December, but another substance-abuse setback nixed that path. After the NFL rescinded Gordon’s 2020 reinstatement, the Seahawks released Gordon earlier this year.

Gordon will be eligible to sign with any team, though widespread interest is unlikely. He caught 27 passes for 426 yards and one touchdown in 2019, splitting the year in New England and Seattle. Gordon showed superstar potential as a young player, and his 14-game 2013 season still sits sixth on the NFL’s receiving yards-per-game list (117.6). But he missed most of the 2014 season due to a substance-abuse ban and did not play in 2015 or ’16. The NFL did not reinstate Gordon until December 2017, and although he finished that season with the Browns, he did not make it through the ’18 slate with the Patriots, who waived him midway through the 2019 season. Gordon made it through five games with the Seahawks before his 2019 ban, which included a PED violation.

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Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey Exits Game With Injury

Christian McCaffrey is out for the rest of tonight’s game against the Texans. The running back left the game during the second quarter of tonight’s contest and will not return, according to the broadcast (and passed along by ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter).

The star running back is dealing with a hamstring injury, according to the team. McCaffrey bounced on and off the field for much of the first quarter-plus, and he remained in the medical tent for some time after exiting during the second quarter.

Following a historic 2019 campaign where McCaffrey finished with 2,392 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns, the running back was limited to only three games in 2020 after suffering a shoulder injury. He looked fully recovered through the first two weeks of the 2021 season, collecting 324 yards from scrimmage on 59 carries. The 25-year-old had another 40 all-purpose yards on nine touches before leaving tonight’s game.

McCaffrey‘s absence may end up being inconsequential during Thursday’s game against the lowly Texans. However, it will be tough for the surprising Panthers to overcome a long-term McCaffrey absence. Chuba Hubbard is next in line for carries, but the rookie fourth-round pick has only seen time in 26 offensive snaps through two weeks. The team is also rostering Royce Freeman on the active roster, and they could turn to practice squad backs Rodney Smith or Spencer Brown.

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