Reuben Foster

NFC Notes: Cousins, Foster, Scandrick, Cards

The Redskins are using the franchise tag arrangement with Kirk Cousins once again, and some more information about how the franchise planned its negotiations this past summer has emerged. Washington submitted the offer Bruce Allen referenced — a five-year proposal worth just less than $110MM, with $53MM fully guaranteed at signing — in May, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. But Rapoport adds the team did not do anything to sweeten its offer in the months that followed, leading to the stalemate dragging past July 17.

This lack of a notably different second offer came in spite of Allen meeting with Cousins’ agent in Chicago and the Redskins president meeting with Cousins and his father in a four-plus-hour summit Rapoport describes as friendly. Allen, per Rapoport, said he would make another proposal between then and the July 17 deadline. But it did not arrive, and the same offer ended up being a take-it-or-leave-it submission.

Washington cannot renegotiate with Cousins until after the season, when the price for a tag will skyrocket — up to approximately $34MM — and put the Redskins to a higher-stakes decision.

Here’s the latest from the NFC as the conference’s Week 1 slate winds down.

  • Orlando Scandrick broke his hand during the Cowboys‘ Sunday-night win over the Giants, Rapoport reports (on Twitter). However, the veteran slot cornerback underwent surgery on Monday and is adamant on playing in Week 2. Scandrick’s goal might have been a bit optimistic, though. The surgery was a success, per ESPN.com’s Todd Archer, but the Cowboys don’t sound like they’re counting on him next week. Week 3 looms as a target, Archer notes. Scandrick missed four games last season and struggled with foot trouble. He’s back in his primary role, though, and is a key cog on a Cowboys defense that lost multiple cornerback regulars in free agency.
  • While an official timetable for Reuben Foster‘s high-ankle sprain isn’t yet known, Kyle Shanahan is expecting the first-round pick to miss at least a month. The rookie 49ers coach said Monday, via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter), the four-to-six-week range would be the typical hiatus length. The 49ers are down to their third option at outside linebacker after Malcolm Smith tore a pectoral muscle and was lost for the season in training camp.
  • Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Monday morning that left tackle D.J. Humphries will miss a week or two with a sprained MCL. John Wetzel is expected to start in his absence. Humphries debuted on the left side on Sunday after he and Jared Veldheer switched positions in the offseason.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Reuben Foster Suffers High-Ankle Sprain

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan announced Monday that rookie linebacker Reuben Foster suffered a high-ankle sprain in the team’s Week 1 loss to Carolina, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area adds that Foster could miss four to six weeks. Reuben Foster (Vertical)

Foster went down in the second quarter Sunday, and the first-round pick initially thought he had broken his ankle.

It was pain(ful),” Foster said (via ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner). “I was a little scared, but at the same time, trust me, if you can’t put no pressure on it, then you should be worried, but when you put enough pressure on it, then you have got some hope. That’s all I was just hoping for. It was painful, but at the same time, I knew nothing was seriously damaged.”

Foster was viewed as a potential top ten pick before injury concerns weakened his stock. The Niners were not as worried about his surgically-repaired shoulder as other clubs and landed him at No. 31 overall.

Foster’s latest setback is unfortunate, but the team now knows that it will not be a season-ender.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com first reported the injury. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers LB Reuben Foster Medically Cleared

Although reports following the draft indicated rookie linebacker Reuben Foster could be sidelined by a shoulder injury, the Alabama product has been medically cleared and will participate in 49ers training camp, tweets Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. Barrows had reported earlier this week that Foster was expected to be a full contributor during camp.Reuben Foster (Vertical)

While other NFL clubs were worried about the condition of Foster’s shoulder — worries that surgery “didn’t take” abounded, while some teams “medically rejected” Foster — the 49ers were always prepared to select him in the first round. In fact, San Francisco likely would have taken Foster at No. 3 overall had edge rushers Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas already been drafted. Soon after the draft, however, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted Foster wasn’t a lock to play during his rookie campaign.

That view had apparently changed by June, as Shanahan by then had “no concerns” about Foster’s health status. It’s good news for the No. 31 pick, not only because he can play during his rookie season, but because his contract status will remain unaffected. Had Foster been placed on the non-football injury list, his contract may have tolled, meaning he’d be one more year further from unrestricted free agency.

Foster is expected to compete with free agent addition Malcolm Smith for the Niners’ weakside linebacker position, per Barrows. San Francisco inked Smith to a five-year, $26.5MM contract earlier this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Elliott, Brees, 49ers, Lions

The NFL was reportedly close to ending its investigation into domestic violence allegations against Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott nearly a week ago, but his fate is still unknown. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expects that to change soon, though. “I think we’ll have a decision imminently,” Jones told SiriusXM on Thursday (via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk). “Of course, I don’t know what that will be and wouldn’t want to have conjecture in any way involving that.” Jones claimed over the weekend that his own review cleared Elliott of any wrongdoing, and he once again defended the superstar rusher Thursday. “What I have seen, though, is the presentation of Zeke and his people, and I’ve seen the league’s presentation. There’s no domestic violence involved here,” Jones insisted.

Elsewhere around the NFC…

  • Quarterback Drew Brees signed a one-year extension before last season to remain with the Saints through 2017, but he’s not pushing for another deal this summer, writes Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. When asked Wednesday whether the Saints have approached him about a new contract, Brees said: “I don’t expect them to I don’t really desire them to. I just want to play football. I want to help this team.” Theoretically, New Orleans is at some risk of losing the soon-to-be 39-year-old Brees after next season, though it seems he expects to eventually ink a new deal with the club. “I know that that stuff takes care of itself,” he commented. “It takes care of itself when it’s supposed to. That shouldn’t be a priority right now.”
  • General manager John Lynch suggested Thursday that the 49ers aren’t in a rush to sign any of their contract-year veterans to extensions, telling Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group and other reporters, “We’re going to let this play out a little bit and see how they fit with what we want to do.” That’s not a surprising stance on Lynch’s part, as it’s debatable at best whether the team has any must-sign players due for free agency next offseason. Running back Carlos Hyde, safety Eric Reid, and linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Aaron Lynch are San Francisco’s headliners in contract years.
  • More on the 49ers, who got some welcome news Thursday when rookie linebacker Reuben Foster announced that he has been completely cleared to participate in training camp, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. The former Alabama defensive stalwart underwent right shoulder surgery in February, which contributed to his falling draft stock and helped the 49ers land him at No. 31 (after trading up from No. 34). Adam Schefter of ESPN then reported after the draft that Foster’s surgery “didn’t take,” leading to fears that he’d miss his first season, but he’s good to go for now.
  • The Lions worked out safety Stefan McClure on Thursday, as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com tweets. Two of the Lions’ safeties, Don Carey and Rolan Milligan, are on the physically unable to perform list, thereby opening up room at the position. Unlike Carey, McClure hasn’t seen any game action in the NFL. He went undrafted from California last year and spent some time on the Colts’ practice squad.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFC Notes: Lions, Eagles, 49ers

Lions contract-year quarterback Matthew Stafford could be on the verge of becoming the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback, but he told reporters Wednesday that there’s still “no timetable” on an extension (per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). And while it’s possible Stafford will wait for the Raiders’ Derek Carr and/or the Redskins’ Kirk Cousins to sign before talks between him and the Lions ramp up, he insists their situations have no bearing on his. “I’m not too worried about what those guys do,” Stafford said.

More from Detroit and two other NFC cities:

  • The Eagles handed Jason Peters a one-year extension Wednesday, and the club could move the veteran offensive lineman from tackle to guard at some point in the future, as head coach Doug Pederson told reporters, including Matt Lombardo of NJ.com (Twitter link). The switch would make some sense, especially from a contractual standpoint, as Philadelphia has already locked up its left tackle of the future — incumbent right tackle Lane Johnson. Johnson is earning $11.25MM annually, far and away the highest salary among right tackles, a sure sign the Eagles envision the former first-round pick eventually transitioning to the blindside.
  • Kyle Shanahan cautioned last month that 49ers first-round linebacker Reuben Foster‘s shoulder issues could keep him out of action as a rookie, but the head coach is now singing a different tune. Shanahan expressed confidence Wednesday that Foster will be a full participant when training camp opens in July, saying (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle): “He’s been doing great with his rehab. Really have no concerns. I think he’ll be more than ready to go by training camp. That’s my feeling. Can’t promise that, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t.” Foster underwent right shoulder surgery before the combine, which played a part in the former Alabama All-American’s fall from a potential top 10 pick to the 31st overall selection.
  • Asked Thursday if it’s possible the Lions will re-sign free agent wide receiver Anquan Boldin, head coach Jim Caldwell said, “Never say never.” But it’s unlikely the Lions will bring back Boldin unless one of their current receivers suffers an injury, tweets Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. Boldin, 36, led all Lions wideouts in touchdown catches (eight) and finished second in receptions (61) in 2016, though he only averaged 8.7 yards per grab.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

49ers Sign Rookie Reuben Foster

Reuben Foster is officially a member of the 49ers. The team announced on Friday that the linebacker has inked his rookie contract. Reuben Foster (vertical)

The Niners kicked off their draft night by trading down from No. 2 to No. 3 and selecting Solomon Thomas. Later on, they traded back into the first round to select Foster. Foster appeared in 51 games (24 starts) during his four-year career at Alabama and registered 222 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and eight sacks. In 2016, he was named First-Team All-America by the Associated Press and won the Butkus Award, the trophy given to the nation’s best linebacker.

Foster was believed to be a top ten candidate heading into draft week, but concerns about his character and injured shoulder hurt his stock. As he slid down the board, the Niners worked the phones hard to try and take the standout inside linebacker. At one point, the Niners were ready to trade into the middle of the first round for Foster, but they were able to get him several picks later and give up a lot less for the privilege. SF traded its No. 34 and No. 111 overall picks to Seattle to move up to No. 31 and nab Foster, who was reportedly the third-ranked player on its board.

With the signing, the 49ers now have eight of ten draft picks under contract. Thomas and C.J. Beathard are the only two unsigned rookies.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Megatron, Young, Sam, Jets

Former Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has been observing Raiders practices this week as a guest of offensive coordinator Todd Downing, per Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com. Downing was on Detroit’s staff from 2009-13 – a large portion of Johnson’s career – and while it’s fun to imagine Megatron coming out of retirement to join the Raiders’ high-octane attack, there’s no indication he has any interest in doing so.

More from around the game:

  • Johnson may not be coming out of retirement, but former NFL quarterback Vince Young is returning to the gridiron. Young, who retired in 2014, signed Thursday with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, agent Leigh Steinberg announced (Twitter link). The 34-year-old Young, a former superstar at the University of Texas and the 2006 Offensive Rookie of the Year with the Titans, hasn’t attempted a regular-season pass in the professional ranks since he was a member of the Eagles in 2011.
  • An openly gay player has never played a regular-season NFL game, and it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future, former Eagles/Browns executive and current ESPN analyst Joe Banner told SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier this week (via Sporting News’ Alex Marvez). Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam is the only openly gay player ever drafted, having gone in the seventh round in 2014, but he encountered a media firestorm during his stints with the Rams and the Cowboys during the preseason that year. The media attention that accompanied his short time in the league has likely made teams “a little more hesitant” to welcome an openly gay player, says Banner. For their part, the Browns didn’t regard Sam’s sexuality as an issue, according to Banner.
  • Collette Smith will become the first woman to ever join the Jets’ coaching staff, reports Leonard Greene of the New York Daily News. Smith, who’s a coach and marketing executive with the New York Sharks of the Independent Women’s Football League, will work as a preseason intern with the Jets’ defensive backs during training camp. “I’m over the top. I’m humbled and I’m proud,” said Smith. “This could have happened with any NFL team. But it just so happened that it was with my beloved New York Jets. This is bigger because of that. God forbid it would have been with the Patriots. But I still would have done it.”
  • Vice president of player personnel Adam Peters was one of the driving forces behind the 49ers’ drafting of former Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, writes Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. Before Peters’ hiring in January, general manager John Lynch asked the former Broncos executive whom he’d select with the 49ers’ first-round pick (No. 2 overall). “Without hesitation, he said ‘Reuben Foster,'” stated Lynch. The draft didn’t quite work out the way Peters imagined it then, as the Niners ultimately traded down to third overall and selected ex-Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas with that choice. But San Francisco ended up getting Foster at the end of Round 1, after it moved up to No. 31 overall. “A lot has transpired then and (Peters) loved Solomon Thomas, too, I don’t want to get that mistaken,” said Lynch. “But he was a huge champion of Reuben Foster. Like I said, so much transpired from there to there. But (Peters) was big on that one. I know that.”

49ers Tried To Trade Into Mid-First Round For Reuben Foster

We learned several weeks ago that the 49ers were willing to make Alabama LB Reuben Foster the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft if edge rushers Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas were already off the board. Ultimately, of course, San Francisco grabbed Thomas with the No. 3 overall selection and dealt its No. 34 and No. 111 overall picks to Seattle to move up to No. 31 and select Foster, the third-ranked player on its board.

Reuben Foster (vertical)

But as Peter King of The MMQB writes in his piece detailing 49ers GM John Lynch‘s 24 hours up to and during the draft, Lynch and Co. were trying to land Foster long before that. The team did not believe Foster would fall past Baltimore’s selection at No. 16, as the Ravens had an apparent need at middle linebacker and Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has a perceived proclivity for selecting Alabama players. The 49ers therefore offered Baltimore a second-, third-, and fourth-round selection to move up to No. 16, and Newsome countered with the second-rounder and both of the 49ers’ third-rounders.

The 49ers declined, but they kept trying. They offered the same package they offered to Baltimore to the Redskins, who held the No. 17 overall selection, but Washington declined as well (for what it’s worth, John Keim of ESPN.com says Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was unaware of the trade proposal, but it’s likely that team president Bruce Allen would have rejected the deal before it reached Gruden anyway). Lynch also called the Giants before they made their No. 23 overall choice, but he was rebuffed by New York GM Jerry Reese. Lynch finally, and unexpectedly, got his man eight picks later.

We now know that Foster could miss the entire 2017 season due to a shoulder injury, so it’s not surprising that he fell as far as he did on draft night (his watered-down urine sample and pre-draft argument with a hospital worker did not help his cause either). And, as our Dallas Robinson pointed out in the post linked above, it’s not a great look for Lynch and the 49ers staff that they were willing to use the third overall pick — or to trade significant draft assets to get back into the middle of the first round — for a player who ultimately fell to the end of Round 1.

However, by getting Foster in the first round, they can keep him under contract for five years, so it will be easier for them to treat 2017 as a medical redshirt season if necessary. Plus, if Foster can stay healthy, he and Thomas could form a fearsome duo in the middle of San Francisco’s defense for years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Shanahan: Reuben Foster Could Miss 2017

There was significant concern about linebacker Reuben Foster‘s right shoulder entering the draft, which surely played a part in the ex-Alabama star’s first-round fall. Once regarded as a likely top 10 pick, Foster ended up going 31st overall to the 49ers, who are so bullish on the All-America defender that they would have been willing to select him at No. 3 had former Stanford D-lineman Solomon Thomas not been on the board. Instead, after landing Thomas with their top pick, the Niners were able to secure Foster by trading up three spots for him in a deal with the NFC West rival Seahawks.

Reuben Foster (Vertical)

The 49ers’ doctors “felt good” about Foster’s shoulder after examining it, head coach Kyle Shanahan told KNBR in San Francisco (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle), but the club nonetheless realizes the 23-year-old isn’t a lock to play in 2017.

“The worst-case scenario is the shoulder doesn’t heal correctly and you’ve got to do it again,” Shanahan said of a potential second surgery for Foster. “When you have to do it again, you have to get another surgery and it would be tough to play this year, and you end up having him the next year.”

Foster’s shoulder “could give out on any hit,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this week, though Shanahan won’t regard the selection as a mistake if it does. Shanahan doesn’t believe Foster’s shoulder is a “long-term” concern, adding: “So the worst-case scenario, he wouldn’t end up being able to play for us right away. But I still don’t think that would have changed how I personally felt about taking a guy with the 31st pick with the caliber of player that we took.”

By moving back into the first round for Foster, the 49ers gave themselves a chance to keep him in the fold on his first contract for five years, as opposed to four had he gone in the second round. As such, a redshirt season wouldn’t be catastrophic from a team control standpoint (though it certainly wouldn’t be ideal). And if Foster does sit out 2017 but go on to reach his potential from 2018-21, the 49ers probably won’t regret dealing the 34th and 111th choices to trade up for him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Would’ve Drafted Reuben Foster No. 3

The 49ers were willing to select Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster with the third overall pick if edge rushers Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas were already off the board, and likely would have done so had the Bears not traded a bevy of draft choices to move up to No. 2, as Peter King of TheMMQB.com reports in a typically excellent piece from inside the San Francisco draft room.Reuben Foster (vertical)

Much of the 49ers front office — with the exception of chief strategy office Paraag Marathe — believed Chicago wanted to trade up for Thomas, and were surprised when the Bears ultimately selected North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky. San Francisco was comfortable with Foster at No. 3 despite an injured shoulder and off-field issues that included a diluted sample at the scouting combine, but still hoped to move back as far as No. 8 before drafting him. Instead, the Niners took 150 cents on the dollar (according to Chase Stuart of Football Perspective) in order to move down one spot.

After selecting Thomas third overall, the 49ers figured Foster would be gone by the middle of the first round, as general manager John Lynch pegged Cincinnati as a likely destination while head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t think Foster would get past Baltimore at No. 16. But as Foster continued to tumble throughout the first round, San Francisco began to discuss a trade with the division rival Seahawks. Ultimately, the 49ers dealt No. 34 and No. 111 for Seattle’s No. 31, and used that newly-acquired pick to add Foster, the third overall player on their board.

While getting Foster at the end of the first round can certainly be considered a coup, the Alabama ‘backer’s injury issues might not be in the rearview mirror. A source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com that Foster’s shoulder surgery “didn’t take,” while some clubs are reportedly worried Foster’s rookie campaign could be a lost cause due to health questions. While the 49ers found Foster’s medicals to be adequate, one source tells Schefter that Foster’s shoulder “could give out on any hit.” Indeed, some NFL teams “medically rejected” Foster due to concerns about his shoulder, tweets Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports.

Additionally, it’s not a great look for Lynch and the 49ers staff that they were willing to use the third overall pick on a player who ultimately fell to the end of Round 1. Clearly, picking Foster at No. 3 would have been a reach based on the end results of the draft, and it’s fair to question whether San Francisco’s personnel department had thoroughly evaluated Foster (and his potential for being drafted in the top half of the first round).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.