Peyton Manning

Latest On Jets’ Star Players, GM Search

Rich Cimini of ESPN.com passes along a number of interesting notes about the Jets this morning, including a few thoughts and reports on the futures of certain key players and the team’s hunt for a new GM.

For instance, Cimini reports that there is already speculation in league circles that head coach/interim GM Adam Gase is looking to move on from defensive lineman Leonard Williams. That does not mean that Gase wants to trade or cut Williams in 2019, but it sounds as though the new regime would be perfectly willing to allow Williams to sign elsewhere when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. Cimini suggests that the club could franchise tag Williams or execute a tag-and-trade, but a long-term deal with the Jets does not seem likely at this point.

With respect to Le’Veon Bell, whose signing was a factor in the deteriorating relationship between Gase and former GM Mike Maccagnan, Cimini says it would not be surprising to see the Jets trade Bell after the 2019 season. If they cannot find a trade partner, then Bell can easily be cut after the 2020 season, when all of his guaranteed money will have been paid.

Robby Anderson‘s future with the club is more straightforward. Gase appreciates Anderson’s talent, and if the big-play wideout has a strong 2019, he could be back with Gang Green on a multi-year pact. If he disappoints, he will be gone.

And as far as the club’s GM search is concerned, Cimini says that the rumors connecting Peyton Manning to the job have no substance and that Manning is not on the Jets’ radar at the moment (which jibes with a report from yesterday). Cimini also hears that Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas remains the odds-on favorite for the job. Douglas has been billed as the front-runner since Maccagnan was fired.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Manning Unlikely To Consider Jets Job?

One name certainly overshadows the others thus far connected to the Jets GM job. However, the Jets may be the latest team Peyton Manning turns down.

Connected to positions with other franchises since his retirement, Manning was mentioned as a target in Gang Green’s GM search. But the future Hall of Famer is not viewed as likely to be interested in the position, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com tweets.

Manning has been linked to jobs with multiple teams — including the Browns and Colts — but neither process seemed to advance too far. This one may not move past the interest stage, either.

The former Colts and Broncos quarterback was also believed to be a target to be part of ESPN’s post-Jason Witten Monday Night Football booth, but that did not come to fruition. Manning, 43, is working with ESPN on multiple other projects, however. Manning’s ESPN work has represented his most public role since retiring in March 2016.

However, he did advocate for Adam Gase to land the Jets’ HC job this year. If Manning were to take a GM post, working with Gase would seem like a fit on the surface. The Jets, though, have taken plenty of heat for their mid-offseason ouster of Mike Maccagnan and are run by a relatively new CEO, Christopher Johnson. Several Jets sources told the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta they do not exactly have confidence in their current boss’ ability to run a football team.

As for the other executives connected with New York’s GM vacancy, Robinson adds the Eagles have not been contacted about an interview with VP of player personnel Joe Douglas in what’s been a “quiet” search thus far. A former Gase coworker in Chicago, Douglas has been labeled the early favorite.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Interested In Peyton Manning For GM?

The Jets made news earlier in the week when they fired general manager Mike Maccagnan following free agency and the draft. They could make even bigger news with his replacement, as the team is reportedly interested in filling the role with Peyton Manning, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes

Florio reports that “rumors are flying within league circles” that the team intends to make a run at the future Hall of Fame quarterback, who has ties to new head coach Adam Gase from their time together in Denver. Earlier in the week, Jets CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson told reporters that he wants “a great strategic thinker” for the position rather just a player evaluator.

“I want a great manager, a communicator, who can collaborate well with the building. I’m convinced we’re going to find that person,” he said.

If they want an excellent communicator and a strategic thinker, Manning would seem to be a good fit. One thing remains to be seen and that’s if Manning has any interest in the job. Long thought of for a front-office role or as a commentator on Sundays, Manning undoubtedly has had plenty of opportunities open to him if he wants to get back into the game.

If these rumors turn out to be true and the two sides work to a deal, Manning would be joining a team looking for a fresh start with a young, promising quarterback in Sam Darnold already in tow. Even with a few intriguing pieces, the Jets remain the only team in the NFL to not win at least six games in any of the last three seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: White, Jets, Broncos, Ravens

One of the top defenders available in a defense-heavy prospect pool, Devin White has begun to set up pre-draft visits. The Giants, Bengals and Buccaneers will host the LSU-developed linebacker, Amie Just of NOLA.com notes. All three teams pick in the top 11, and White has been often mocked to be off the board in between the Bucs’ No. 5 pick and the Bengals’ No. 11 choice. Although the Giants could use a young inside linebacker alongside Alec Ogletree, they have been linked to pass rushers at No. 6 — if they don’t, in fact, select their next quarterback then. The Bengals have a need on their defensive second level, which now lacks Vontaze Burfict. Tampa Bay lost Kwon Alexander but still has Lavonte David. Kendell Beckwith, White’s college teammate, missed all of last season.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Peyton Manning has advocated for Adam Gase on a few occasions, and he did so again to help steer Trevor Siemian to Gase’s current team. Siemian signed with the Jets this week. Siemian said (via Ethan Greenberg of NewYorkJets.com) his decision came down to, like Anthony Barr‘s, New York or Minnesota. After exchanging texts with Manning, the new Jets backup indicated his former teammate’s belief in Gase remains. This and other factors helped the fifth-year quarterback choose the Jets. Manning played three seasons under Gase, setting multiple high-profile records in 2013. Siemian did not arrive in Denver until the Gary Kubiak regime, however. The Vikings were interested in bringing back Siemian and have yet to sign a replacement QB2, though that is the goal.
  • The Broncos are not planning to bring back Domata Peko, their nose tackle of two seasons. Although Shelby Harris has not yet signed his second-round RFA tender, the Broncos plan to make the emerging interior lineman their starting nose, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post notes. Harris graded as, by far, Denver’s best defensive lineman last season, per Pro Football Focus, but played the fewest snaps (391) of anyone in the team’s five-man rotation. Four of those players (Harris, Derek Wolfe, Adam Gotsis and the recently re-signed Zach Kerr) remain, but it looks like Harris — PFF’s No. 9 overall inside defender — will see more time in 2019.
  • Viewed as a possible first-round pick, N.C. State alum Garrett Bradbury may be benefiting from what is a weak center class. The interior blocker might not be a lock for Round 1, with Matt Miller of Bleacher Report having spoken with just one scout that views him as a first-round talent. Bradbury, a three-year starter for the Wolfpack, grades as the NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s No. 22 overall prospect.
  • The Ravens do not have openings at kicker or punter, but the team has versatile specialist Kaare Vedvik on its roster for potential trade purposes. “I fully expect that he’ll kick well enough for us to trade him. That’s kind of, I would say, the goal,” John Harbaugh said this week (via Clifton Brown of BaltimoreRavens.com). Teams were interested in acquiring Vedvik during the 2018 preseason, when he made 8 of 9 field goal tries — including a 56-yarder — but the Norwegian kicker/punter who kicked at Marshall in college suffered injuries from an assault on Sept. 1 of last year. He spent the season on the Ravens’ NFI list.

Extra Points: AAF, Texans, Colts, Ravens

Is the Alliance of American Football in trouble? Potentially, as majority league owner Tom Dundon explains to Kevin Allen and Mike Jones of USA Today. “If the [NFL] players union is not going to give us young players, we can’t be a development league,” said Dundon. “We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league.” The AAF wants the NFLPA to allow active NFL players — especially those on practice squads — to participate in the developmental league. The union, however, is worried that not only would such an arrangement would violate the collective bargaining agreement, but put said players of in danger of being injured in non-NFL-sanctioned action.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Matt Kalil received a $2.25MM signing bonus and a $3.25MM base salary as part of his one-year deal with the Texans, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Currently projected as Houston’ starting left tackle, Kalil can also earn $125K in gameday active roster bonuses, which could add an additional $2MM to his deal. If he’s healthy and active for each of the Texans’ 16 regular season games, Kalil will take home $7.5MM for the 2019 season. Kalil’s health isn’t a sure thing, of course, given that he missed all of last year with a knee injury.
  • Colts owner Jim Irsay attempted to hire Peyton Manning for a front office role, first in 2016 and again in early 2017 after firing general manager Ryan Grigson, and those conversations actually went further than previously indicated. “It did get close with Peyton,” Irsay told Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “I wouldn’t say super serious close, but enough to kick the tires and say, ‘What are you thinking?’ Because my counsel is there for him whether he comes to the Colts or chooses to do something else. There was definitely some interest on both sides.” Manning has been loosely tied to several front office jobs since retiring after the 2015 season, but he’s thus far resisted every overture.
  • The Ravens are still interested in adding a “shifty, third-down, home-run-type” running back even after signing Mark Ingram, head coach John Harbaugh said this week, per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Ingram received a three-year deal to leave New Orleans and is the favorite to lead Baltimore in touches, but Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon, Tyler Ervin, and De’Lance Turner could also factor into the club’s backfield. The draft could present the Ravens with the opportunity to bring in another back, while free agents who might Harbaugh’s criteria include Ty Montgomery (whom Baltimore traded for last season), Bilal Powell, and Corey Grant.
  • T.J. Weist has been named the Ravens‘ assistant special teams coach, the club announced. Weist, a longtime coach at the collegiate level, originally joined Baltimore as an offensive analyst in 2018.

AFC East Rumors: Jets, Chung, Bills

Sam Darnold spoke with Adam Gase before the Jets ended up hiring him. The Jets‘ second-year quarterback said during an interview with SI.com he “interviewed” Gase prior to the team naming him as Todd Bowles‘ successor. Darnold and Gase share an agent, CAA’s Jimmy Sexton. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com wonders how much of a factor that was in the Jets going with Gase, positing that this connection should not be dismissed in tracing how the Jets arrived on Gase. CAA client Peyton Manning also called Jets CEO Christopher Johnson to endorse Gase, Cimini notes. Gase was Manning’s OC for two years in Denver. A previous report indicated Gase’s interview distinguished him from the other candidates. Gase and Darnold will now go about attempting to revive the Jets.

On the first of many Sundays without NFL games, here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Although Isaiah Crowell set the Jets’ single-game rushing record with a 219-yard performance against the Broncos in October, Cimini does not expect the team to keep the veteran running back around for 2019. Crowell tied his career-high yards-per-carry figure with 4.8 but only amassed 685 rushing yards last season. The Jets can save $3MM by releasing Crowell before March 15, when $2MM of his $4MM 2019 base salary becomes guaranteed. The Jets have been the team most linked to Le’Veon Bell, and the team now has $99MM-plus in cap space.
  • Patrick Chung recently underwent surgery to repair a broken forearm, but the Patriots safety will go back under the knife soon. Chung will undergo an additional procedure to address a shoulder issue that bothered him during the season, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports (subscription required). It’s the shoulder issue, and not the forearm break, that is expected to sideline Chung for a while. The 31-year-old defender is not expected to participate in Patriots OTAs or minicamp.
  • The Patriots are going to have to make moves to address their wide receiver situation. Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson are UFAs-to-be, and Josh Gordon‘s return should not be considered likely at this point. Hogan was a key contributor for the Patriots in 2016 and ’17 but could not re-establish himself as a reliable option down the stretch this season. Hogan finished the campaign with a six-target, zero-catch Super Bowl after compiling just 58 receiving yards in the AFC playoffs, and Howe expects the Pats to allow him to depart in free agency.
  • While there could be significant roster turnover in New England, with several coaches already leaving as well, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston notes this offseason is expected to feature far less drama than last year’s did. Last year featured more fallout from the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, a lengthy Tom Brady absence and Rob Gronkowski considering retirement. After the Pats’ latest Super Bowl title, their situation looks more stable, even if Gronk is once again pondering leaving the game.
  • The Bills made multiple moves in order to trade up and land Josh Allen in the 2018 first round, but Brandon Beane may be looking to move back this year. The third-year Bills GM said recently the team does not need to pick in the top 10, and Mike Rodak of ESPN.com expects Buffalo to engage in trade-down discussions from its No. 9 overall slot.

David Tepper Frontrunner To Buy Panthers?

The Panthers may be on the verge of having a new owner soon. David Tepper is the frontrunner to succeed Jerry Richardson and buy the Charlotte, N.C.-based franchise, Joe Person, Katherine Peralta and Rick Rothacker of the Charlotte Observer report.

Tepper refuted an April report that he was out of the mix to make this acquisition, and it appears the hedge-fund billionaire is close to moving forward with this purchase. Worth approximately $11 billion, the 60-year-old Tepper has the most capital of any of the men vying to buy the team, per the Observer trio. Tepper’s finances being the least complicated aided his bid, per Person, Peralta and Rothacker, who add Tepper was back in Charlotte on Wednesday meeting with team officials.

This comes after another potential buyer, Ben Navarro, wanted to involve Peyton Manning as a part-owner. Alan Kestenbaum and Michael Rubin represented the other bidders for the team. Richardson’s son, Mark, put weight behind Navarro to be his father’s successor. However, Tepper now appears to be leading the race, with NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reporting Jerry Richardson has zeroed in on Tepper. Although, the Observer reporters caution this deal is not finalized.

Rapoport adds (via Twitter) Tepper wants to keep the Panthers in Charlotte. This deal could be ready to be approved by the next set of owners’ meetings in Atlanta later this month, per Rapoport, who also reports Tepper is the only one of these potential buyers who could be approved by the upcoming meetings. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora writes he’d be “shocked” if Tepper wasn’t the next Panthers owner, adding this sale could be announced early next week.

The report indicating Tepper was out doesn’t appear to have been entirely off base, either, with La Canfora reporting Tepper has told confidants at multiple times during this process he was out. But evidently he’s back in and ready to finish the process. Additionally, La Canfora reports Manning was unlikely to join Navarro’s ownership group.

Since Tepper has been a part-owner of the Steelers since 2009, he also would not need to be approved by the NFL. Many NFL owners wanted Tepper to win this race, the New York Times reported in April.

Panthers Bidder Wants To Involve Peyton Manning

Panthers bidder Ben Navarro has made contact with former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning regarding a limited ownership role if Navarro were to land the Carolina franchise, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, who adds Manning is considering the offer.

Manning has long been connected to NFL front office openings, but Person’s report doesn’t mention any possibility that Manning would be involved in personnel decisions. That could certainly change, of course, if Navarro does indeed secure the Panthers, as he’d likely want to remake the club’s front office. General manager Marty Hurney recently had the interim tag removed from his title, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be asked to stick around once new ownership is in place.

Manning, 42, hasn’t made a re-entrance to NFL life since retiring following the 2015 campaign. He was recently linked to a position within the Browns’ front office, but Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam denied ever making Manning an offer. Earlier this year, both ESPN and FOX heavily pursued Manning as a television analyst, but he rejected overtures from both networks.

The remaining bidders for the Panthers include Steelers minority owner David Tepper, steel magnate Alan Kestenbaum, and entrepreneur Michael Rubin, according to Person.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Peyton, Fuller, Big Ben, JuJu

Peyton Manning has taken a few years off from the game after his Super Bowl farewell in 2016. However, he’s been widely speculated to move into a team president type role as soon as he fills like jumping back into the industry, and there should a wide amount of interest in his services.

As part of his Friday column, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated mentioned that Manning would likely be on the top of the list for any team with an opening at the head of their football operations. He spoke to a source on the Broncos current staff who said that, “There’d honestly be no one better.” 

Breer expressed that while the former Colts and Broncos signal caller doesn’t have any front office experience, he’s been preparing for the position for years as a player, specifically shadowing the actions of current Broncos football czar, John Elway. As a player, Manning always kept tabs on the draft, free agency and many of the other aspects that go into leading an NFL franchise. While there’s nothing like firsthand experience in that atmosphere, Manning has clearly demonstrated his vast knowledge of the game in the way he revolutionized the quarterback position during his time in the league.

“He’ll be extremely successful in anything he chooses to do because of the person is, how smart he is and how hard he works,” said one personnel man who worked with him in Indy. “He’ll be extremely well prepared, have done research on the job and have an understanding of what the job entails. 

Breer speculates that the Browns would likely be clamoring to bring Manning aboard to lead their football operations, among pretty much any other front office needy franchise.

  • The Texans have been without big play threat Will Fuller for the past two weeks and head coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t expect that to change in Week 13, reports Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The 2016 first round pick missed the opening part of the year with injury too, but sandwiched an outstanding run of games in which he scored six times in four contests. Barshop does note that the O’Brien didn’t entirely rule out the possibility of Fuller making a return in the final few weeks of the regular season.
  • The Steelers are in a much different spot than the Giants at this point in time, but veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger opened up to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to discuss how he empathizes with the situation Eli Manning is going through right now. “It sparks the reality that that could be me,” Roethlisberger said. “They could do that to me next year or whenever, who knows? It’s eye-opening that you have to take every play, every game, don’t take it for granted, take it for what it is because you never know when you’re done.” However, while Big Ben and Eli were taken in the same draft and both have multiple Super Bowls to their credit, the Steelers signal caller doesn’t believe that the only team he’s ever known would treat him in the same way. “I don’t, and I don’t mean to talk negatively about the Giants, especially I know the Steelers and Giants are very close and are family, too. But I don’t think they would, I think they would handle it differently.” These are interesting comments considering Roethlisberger expressed some reservations about continuing to play this past offseason, and even though he’s recovered nicely from a unusually slow start, the fact that he’s thinking about these career questions shouldn’t be overlooked.
  • On the field, Pittsburgh is expected to have rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster back in the lineup for the team’s Monday night affair against the Bengals, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. The 21-year-old sat out last week’s victory over the Packers with an ankle injury, but returned to practice in-full on Thursday. He’ll likely continue to operate in the slot with Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant playing more on the boundaries.

 

 

La Canfora’s Latest: Bills, P. Manning, Giants, Goodell

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is likely to be an attractive trade chip this offseason due to his relative youth, upside, and athleticism (not to mention his reasonable salary). Taylor is due a $6MM roster bonus in the first week of free agency this March, and even when he inked his current deal, it was speculated that Buffalo could cut Taylor before having to pay out that bonus. So while teams theoretically could wait for the Bills to release Taylor — they did just bench him, after all — La Canfora’s sources indicate that the ability to land him at a reasonable contract and secure his rights for at least 2018 would lead to someone giving Buffalo something of reasonable value.

Indeed, aside from the $6MM roster bonus, Taylor is owed a fairly modest $10MM base salary, and it’s not as if the free agent QB market is likely to set the world on fire. Plus, there will be plenty of teams who are unable to address their QB needs in the draft. La Canfora names the Jaguars, Broncos, Cardinals, and Saints as potential landing spots for Taylor, and he says the Bills will be doing their own homework on the 2018 quarterback draft class. He also says the Bills could continue to look to trade Cordy Glenn this offseason.

Now for more from La Canfora, who has again treated us to a bevy of Sunday morning notes:

  • Taylor might draw plenty of trade interest this offseason, but La Canfora writes that the Bills had been weighing the decision to start Nathan Peterman over Taylor for weeks, and the team’s slow starts and inability to throw the ball downfield ultimately forced the change.
  • We have heard plenty of speculation about the Browns‘ desire to bring future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning on board in some sort of high-level capacity, and La Canfora writes that club owner Jimmy Haslam is serious about recruiting Manning and could be willing to offer him a small stake in the team as incentive to take on a team president/top executive role.
  • Although Giants ownership recently indicated that head coach Ben McAdoo would at least get the opportunity to finish out the season before they make a decision on his future with the club, La Canfora says the club’s evaluation will not be limited to the coaching staff. He believes ownership could also make changes to the personnel side of team operations, suggesting that GM Jerry Reese could be on the hot seat.
  • La Canfora says that Roger Goodell never demanded $50MM per year and use of a private jet for life as part of his contract extension, as was reported last week. Instead, the structure that Goodell agreed to weeks ago will pay him a base salary of $20MM per year, with a chance to hit $200MM over five years if all incentives are met (Goodell had been earning about $40MM per year under his present contract). His new deal is still awaiting a formal signing/announcement.