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Seahawks Safety Kam Chancellor Likely Done For Season

The Seahawks have lost another key member of their secondary. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via the GMFB Twitter), strong safety Kam Chancellor is likely to miss the rest of the season. The veteran suffered a neck injury during last week’s game against the Cardinals. There was seemingly some optimism that Chancellor’s season wouldn’t be compromised, as coach Pete Carroll noted earlier this week.

Kam Chancellor“We’ll find out,” Carroll said on 710 ESPN (via Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com). “We don’t know yet. He had a stinger thing that happened during the game and we’re going to have to make sure he’s in good shape and he’s OK. Don’t know right now. He’s going to get some tests and make sure. This is stuff that is so crucial that we do a really good job and take our time with and all that. We’re doing that.”

Chancellor, 29, has been a mainstay on the Seahawks defense since 2010. The four-time Pro Bowler was having another productive season in 2017, compiling 49 tackles and a pair of passes defended in nine games. Pro Football Focus has been particularly fond of his 2017 performance, ranking him sixth among 86 eligible safety candidates. Chancellor has missed a handful of games over the past several seasons, including nine regular season contests between 2015 and 2016. The defensive back inked a lucrative three-year, $36MM extension ($25MM guarantee) with the organization prior to this season.

Assuming Chancellor lands on the injured reserve, he’ll be joining fellow defensive back Richard Sherman, who is out with an achilles injury. Fortunately, the team should be seeing some reinforcement on the unit, as Earl Thomas is set to return to the lineup after missing a pair of games with a hamstring injury. The team will presumably turn to their grouping of backup safeties, including Bradley McDougald, Delano Hill, and Tedric Thompson, to fill in for Chancellor.

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NFL Investigating Bucs QB Jameis Winston

An Uber driver alleges that she was groped by Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston in March of last year, Talal Ansari of BuzzFeed News has learned. In a letter to the alleged victim, lead NFL investigator Lisa Friel indicated that an investigation is underway. Jameis Winston (Vertical)

The League has been informed that you may have been the victim of such a violation perpetrated by Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Jameis Winston,” the letter reads. “The league takes allegations of this nature very seriously and has opened an investigation into this matter.”

The female driver, identified only as Kate, says that she picked up Winston early on a Sunday morning. His friends placed him in the front seat, even though he was the only passenger. Kate agreed to take Winston to get fast food and the quarterback, she says, placed his hand on her crotch while they were waiting at the drive-thru.

Meanwhile, a Winston’s representative, Russ Spielman, issued a statement denying the allegations:

We categorically deny this allegation. It is our understanding the Uber driver was unable to identify the specific individual who allegedly touched this driver inappropriately. The only reason his name is being dragged in to this is that his Uber account was used to call the ride.”

An Uber spokesperson issued a statement as well, indicating Winston is “permanently banned” from using the app.

The behavior the driver reported is disturbing and wrong,” the statement read (via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, on Twitter). “The rider was permanently removed from the app shortly after we learned of the incident.”

Winston has since released a statement on the matter. The third-year Bucs quarterback does not deny he was in the car at that point but said he was not the person in the front seat at the time this alleged incident occurred.

(Buzzfeed’s story) falsely accuses me of making inappropriate contact with this driver. I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her,” Winston said (via Twitter). “The accusation is false, and given the nature of the allegation and increased awareness and consideration of these types of matters, I am addressing this false report immediately. At the time of the alleged incident, I denied the allegations to Uber, yet they still decided to suspend my account.

I am supportive of the national movement to raise awareness and develop better responses to the concerns of parties who find themselves in these types of situations, but this accusation is false. While I am certain I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way.”

Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter told reporters that the team will soon release a statement on the matter. The franchise has since done so.

We are in the process of obtaining further information regarding today’s media report,” the team said in a statement. “We take these matters seriously and are fully supportive of the investigation that is being conducted by the NFL.”

Winston has encountered trouble on this front before. While at Florida State, the quarterback was accused of rape in 2012. However, Tallahassee, Fla., police did not charge him with a crime in connection with that alleged incident. In 2016, Winston settled a civil suit with his accuser.

No police report was filed by this latest accuser with the Phoenix or Scottsdale, Ariz., Police Departments, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports.

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Cardinals Sign Larry Fitzgerald To Extension

It’s a done deal. On Friday morning, the Cardinals announced a new one-year extension for wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The veteran is now signed through the 2018 season. "<strong

The deal is worth $11MM and includes a no-trade clause, according to Mike Jurecki of 98.7FM. The pact also includes incentives that can give him an extra $1MM if he reaches No. 2 on the NFL’s all-time receiving list.

Fitzgerald was considering retirement and many believed that the 2017 campaign would be his last. It’s still possible that he walks away at the end of the season, but there is at least a deal in place if the wide receiver decides to run it back one more time.

There’s a case to be made for both retirement and continuing. On one hand, Fitzgerald could leave on a high note – he currently leads the NFC with 60 receptions and is on pace for 107 catches and 1,204 receiving yards. No player in league history has ever had more than 100 catches and 1,000 yards in a season started at the age of 34 or higher. The odds of an encore, historically, are not on his side. Then again, it’s clear that he still has something left in the tank.

If Fitzgerald plays out this new deal, next year will be his 16th season on the field. Only quarterback Jim Hart (18) and kicker Jim Bakken (17) have played in more seasons for the Cardinals franchise (Twitter link via Mark Dalton of the Cardinals). If he plays every game through 2018, he’ll match Bakken for most regular season games played in Cardinals history with 234.

There are also lots of NFL records within range for Fitzgerald. With another 141 catches, he’ll leapfrog tight end Tony Gonzalez for second all-time in NFL history behind Jerry Rice. The 10-time Pro Bowler (likely en route to No. 11) can become third in all-time receiving yards this season with another 227 yards, allowing him to bypass Randy Moss. After that, he’s just another 642 yards away from topping Terrell Owens for second place.

The Cardinals also have quarterback Carson Palmer and coach Bruce Arians under contract through next season, meaning that the familiar trio could return for 2018.

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Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald Nearing Extension

The Cardinals and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald are nearing an extension that would keep him in Arizona through 2018, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link)."<strong

Fitzgerald, now in his age-34 campaign, has flirted with retirement in the past, and while a new contract would certainly indicate that Fitzgerald plans to play in 2018, that’s not a guarantee. Instead, the deal will simply ensure that Fitzgerald will spent next season with the Cardinals if he decides to return for a 16th NFL season.

Fitzgerald agreed to a similar extension in August 2016, inking a deal that contained an $11MM base salary for the 2017 season. However, that contract did not contain any guaranteed money, and Florio at the time described the pact as a “free disability policy” for Fitzgerald. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising if Fitzgerald’s new extension is similar in format.

Not only the greatest Cardinals receiver in the history of the franchise but one of the NFL’s best pass-catchers of all time, Fitzgerald is still plugging along in an Arizona offense that is down to its backup quarterback. On 88 targets, Fitzgerald has posted 60 receptions, 677 yards, and three scores. Essentially playing as an undersized tight end in Bruce Arians‘ offense, Fitzgerald is also an asset as a blocker in the run game.

The Cardinals aren’t in contention for a playoff berth this season, and conventional wisdom had been that the club had missed its final shot at a Super Bowl run. But if Carson Palmer (who is also signed through 2018), Fitzgerald, and Arians all return next year, Arizona could potentially take one more run at a title.

Under the terms of his previous extension, Fitzgerald had a cap hit of $4.85MM on the Cardinals’ 2018 books. That was because Arizona used a void year, enabling the team to spread out Fitzgerald’s signing bonus. Had Fitzgerald retired or left the Cardinals as a free agent, the club would have absorbed that $4.85MM in dead money.

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Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott Withdraws Appeal

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is withdrawing his appeal, agents Rocky Arceneaux and Frank Salzano tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The NFLPA also announced that it has withdrawn its lawsuit against the league. Elliott will serve his full six-game suspension. He will miss the next five games and return in Week 16 against the Seahawks. Ezekiel Elliott (vertical)

In consultation with the NFLPA and his lawyers, and after careful deliberation and review of the recent Second Circuit decisions, Mr. Elliott has decided to forego any further appeals and will serve the remaining suspension,” the statement reads. “This decision arises from a practical assessment of the current legal landscape. Mr. Elliott’s desire for closure in this matter is in his best interest, as well as the best interests of his teammates, family, and friends.

This decision is in no way an admission of any wrongdoing, and Mr. Elliott is pleased that the legal fight mounted by he and his team resulted in disclosing many hidden truths regarding this matter as well as publicly exposing the NFL’s mismanagement of its disciplinary process. Mr. Elliott will maximize this time away from the game and come back even stronger both on and off the field. He intends to release a final personal statement in the upcoming weeks and until then we have no further comment.”

Elliott will release a statement at some point that will explain his decision further, Rapoport tweets. Meanwhile, the NFLPA may still continue the battle in court.

On Nov. 9, the Second Circuit ruled to reinstate Elliott’s ban, sidelining him for Dallas’ game against the Falcons. Initially, an expedited appeal in front of the Second Circuit court was scheduled for December 1st. Instead, Elliott is accepting the suspension, which most likely would have had to have been served at some point. By taking the hit now, Elliott can ensure that he will be eligible for this year’s playoffs, assuming the Cowboys get there.

The running back will miss games against the Eagles, Chargers, Redskins, Giants, and Raiders before returning.

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Bills Bench Taylor, Start Peterman

The Bills are making a major change under center. Nathan Peterman will start on Sunday against the Chargers instead of Tyrod Taylor, coach Sean McDermott announced on Wednesday morning. 

This is about becoming a better team. Tyrod has made improvements,” McDermott told reporters. “This is not an indictment on Tyrod. He is an important part of our team and will continue to be an important part of our team…I‘ve been impressed with Nate and his maturity at a very early point in his career. He has certainly worked hard. … The other day, we [saw] some good things, albeit it was a small sample size in a regular season. That said, he has a lot of work to do, just like we all do.

The announcement comes as a shock, particularly since the Bills are in the playoff mix. Granted, the Bills have lost their last two games, including a lopsided defeat at the hands of the Saints last week. In the midst of the blowout, Peterman was given the opportunity to take over. When he did, he marched the Bills down the field for their only touchdown of the game.

The QB change signals that the Bills will be moving on from Taylor this offseason. Buffalo’s deal with Taylor will allow the team to release him after this season without major penalty. Only $1MM of his $10MM salary is guaranteed for next year and he’ll be due a $6MM roster bonus early on in the 2018 league year. By cutting him before that roster date, the Bills can free themselves of most of the obligation.

When he came on board in the offseason, McDermott did his best to give the impression that Taylor would hold on to the job. After some shaky performances, however, the new regime is turning to some new blood.

He is, in Tyrod Taylor,” McDermott said in May when asked if the team’s QB of the future was already on the roster. “We’ve drafted Nathan Peterman, …I’m not sure there is a team out there that has the depth that we do at the quarterback position. So we feel good about that. We’re anxious to see how Tyrod develops in his third year as a starter in a new system, a system that he has some familiarity with in terms of [new Buffalo offensive coordinator] Rick Dennison’s system in Baltimore a few years back with Gary Kubiak.”

For his part, Taylor is handling the news like a professional.

I’m obviously disappointed and it’s a decision that I don’t agree with,” Taylor said (via the team’s Twitter). “Ultimately, it’s Coach McDermott’s decision and I need to continue to be the leader and teammate that I know I can be.

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Redskins Place RB Rob Kelley On IR

Rob Kelley‘s season is over. The Redskins announced that the running back has been placed on injured reserve. As previously reported, Byron Marshall has been signed off of the Eagles’ practice squad to replace him. Rob Kelley (vertical)

Kelley, the Redskins’ top running back, is dealing with a high ankle sprain and a sprained MCL in his left knee. There was initially some hope that Kelley could return to the lineup later this season with some rest. Unfortunately, it sounds like he’ll need a little longer to recover and the Redskins are not willing to have him occupy a spot on the 53-man roster until he heals up.

Even before the latest injury, Kelley wasn’t all that sharp this year. In seven games (all starts), Kelley has ran for just 194 yards off of 62 carries, giving him an average of 3.18 yards per carry. He was previously dealing with a rib injury, so it’s possible that he has not been near full strength all year.

In 2016, Kelley’s rookie year, he had 704 yards off of 168 carries (4.2 yards per attempt) with six touchdowns. He also added 12 catches for 82 yards and one score.

Without Kelley, the Redskins will be relying on Chris Thompson, rookie Samaje Perine, and Marshall to hold down the running game. Of course, the trade deadline has come and gone, so the Redskins will be limited to the free agent market if they want to make any further upgrades to the group.

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Eagles To Sign OT Will Beatty

Will Beatty is back in the NFC East. The former Giants offensive lineman has agreed to a one-year deal with the Eagles, according to Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Will Beatty (Vertical)

Beatty was one of the league’s better left tackles in 2014, grading out both as a quality run-blocker and pass-blocker, according to Pro Football Focus. In that season, PFF ranked him 14th overall out of 84 qualified tackles. Unfortunately, a pectoral injury cost him the entire 2015 campaign. And, in 2016, Beatty appeared in only six games.

This year, he worked out for the Jets, Saints, and, most recently, the 49ers, but did not sign with any of those clubs. The Eagles are now going to find out what the veteran has left in the tank.

The Eagles’ offensive line recently suffered a big blow when Jason Peters suffered a season-ending knee injury. Halapoulivaati Vaitai is now the starter at left tackle with Lane Johnson on the opposite site. Beatty figures to serve as bench support for both players along with reserve Taylor Hart.

Beatty, a second-round pick in the 2009 draft, spent eight years with the G-Men, including his lost 2015 season.

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Latest On Patriots, Martellus Bennett

Martellus Bennett‘s unusual exit from the Packers and reunion with the Patriots raised some eyebrows in the football world. However, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart says the league office does not have any issues with how things played out (Twitter link via Ben Volin of The Boston Globe).

The Packers signed Bennett to a lucrative multi-year deal with the expectation that he would be a big, steady target for Aaron Rodgers in the red zone. Instead, Bennett never clicked with the Packers offense, perhaps due in part to his torn rotator cuff. After he intimated that he would retire after the 2017 season, the Packers released Bennett, opening the door for him to be claimed by his former team. It doesn’t take an Alex Jones-level conspiracy theorist to question whether Bennett might have orchestrated his own return to New England, but the commissioner’s office doesn’t share that same skepticism.

After he was cut loose, Bennett instructed his agent to inform interested teams that he might not be able to play due to his injured shoulder. Then, on Sunday, Bennett was on the field for seven snaps and caught three balls for 38 yards. He looked rather healthy in the 41-16 romp over Denver, and that didn’t help to quiet speculation about a potential pre-release arrangement between Bennett and the Patriots.

It’s a closed case in the eyes of the NFL, but the Packers may still go after a portion of Bennett’s signing bonus.

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Latest On Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones

Reports that the league’s owners could force Jerry Jones to sell the Cowboys are “”laughable and ridiculous,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan (transcription via Kate Hairopolos of the Dallas Morning News). Jerry Jones

I’ve had not one, not one, inkling of communication from the league office or any owner that would suggest something that laughable and ridiculous, and that’s about where that is,” Jones said on his radio show on Tuesday. “If somebody is asserting that then they are not knowledgeable about how things work in the NFL.”

The notion that Jones could be forced to part ways with the Cowboys does seem pretty far fetched. However, the league’s owners could move to bring other sanctions against Jones for his crusade against commissioner Roger Goodell. Among the measures being discussed are fines, a suspension, or a loss of draft capital for the Cowboys, Mark Maske of The Washington Post (Twitter link) hears. Maske’s sources did not mention a scenario in which Jones is made to sell the Cowboys, however. It’s also not a given that Jones will be penalized at all, though it is at least being talked about.

For his part, Jones feels that the league’s owners have “all the time in the world” to extend Goodell and he doesn’t want the deal to be completed in haste given that the commissioner still has 18 months left on his current contract. The Cowboys owner asserts that more than half of the league’s owners are in his corner on this matter.

 

 

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