Roger Goodell

NFL Owners Eyeing NBA’s Adam Silver?

Could Adam Silver go from the pages of Hoops Rumors to Pro Football Rumors? NFL owners have asked Silver if he would be willing to switch leagues and replace Roger Goodell as commissioner, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. For what it’s worth, Silver claims he has given no thought to the possibility. 

I’ll just say I have not given it any thought,” Silver said. “I feel very fortunate to be in this position. As a longtime fan, as a longtime league employee, the opportunity to become the commissioner of this league was beyond anything I even ever dreamed of as a kid. I’ve loved every day I’ve been in this job, and I think there’s nothing but enormous opportunity ahead for this league. And ultimately, I realize I’m just passing through like every player who’s gone through this league and ultimately like every owner, and I feel an enormous obligation to the fans and to this greater NBA family to do my best and try my hardest every day. But that’s where 100 percent of my focus is.

The NBA has gained serious traction under Silver, but the NFL still reigns supreme in American sports. A move to football would represent a major step up for the young exec and would likely mean a larger salary.

In Silver’s five years as the NBA’s head honcho, league revenues have increased from $4.8 billion to roughly $9.1 billion. Meanwhile, team valuations have shot up 267%. Those results have some NFL owners salivating and there are some owners who would like to move on from the bad PR associated with Goodell.

Of course, the NFL has also seen enormous growth under Goodell, so it’s far from certain that they’ll give him the hook before his contract runs out after the end of the 2024 season. Instead, Silver could be a potential successor for Goodell – his own deal with the NBA expires after the 2023-24 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Goodell, Hunt, Foster, Redskins, Kyler Murray, Whitehead

Commissioner Roger Goodell gave his annual press conference Wednesday, and was unsurprisingly asked about former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. Goodell said the investigation into the incident that led the Chiefs to cut Hunt “should conclude ‘soon’ and that he’ll go back on the exempt list whenever” he ends up signing with a team, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

As Rapsheet points out, Hunt is looking at a “likely suspension”, although it’s unclear what the length may be. We heard a couple of weeks ago that the investigation was likely to be over by March. Shortly before that, it was reported that the Bears had spoken to Hunt. Chicago seems like a strong possibility for Hunt, as Jordan Howard struggled heavily this year and it would reunite Hunt with his former offensive coordinator in Matt Nagy.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of possible suspensions, Goodell also weighed in on Reuben Foster‘s situation. In the same tweet, Rapoport wrote that Goodell said “just because his charge was dropped doesn’t mean he won’t be suspended.” Foster recently saw the charges dropped for his most recent arrest, but he’s apparently not out of the woods yet. Goodell also said that he plans to speak in person with Foster again before making a decision, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Foster was claimed off waivers by the Redskins after the 49ers cut him late in the season, but he’s been on the exempt list ever since.
  • The Redskins recently promoted quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell to offensive coordinator, but that doesn’t mean head coach Jay Gruden is giving up play-calling duties. Redskins team president Bruce Allen said during a recent radio appearance that as of now the plan is still for Gruden to call the plays, according to John Keim of ESPN.com. Allen did leave the door open for things to change, and other sources told Keim that a change is still in play.
  • Despite declaring for the NFL draft, Kyler Murray is still very much undecided about whether he’ll play football or baseball, according to Rapoport (Twitter link). Rapoport notes in the video that Murray hasn’t yet hired an agent for football or committed to attending the combine next month, and says the A’s, the MLB team that holds Murray’s rights, are still negotiating to potentially sweeten his deal and convince him to play baseball. He’ll have to make a decision pretty soon, and we should know a lot more within the next few weeks.
  • Former Cowboys and Jets kick returner Lucky Whitehead was arrested in Virginia earlier this week and charged with driving under the influence, according to TMZ. Whitehead was released by the Cowboys in 2017 after a bizarre incident where it was wrongly reported that Whitehead had been arrested after someone had given his identity to police. He was claimed off waivers by the Jets, and spent the 2017 season with them. Cut this past August, he spent the entire 2018 season out of football. Now arrested for real, this won’t help his chances of getting back into the league.

Extra Points: Wilks, Cardinals, Goodell, Haskins, Draft

As the season has gone on, it’s become clear that Steve Wilks faces increasingly long odds of being retained by the Cardinals for a second season. Wilks drew rave reviews during his one season as Panthers defensive coordinator, but Arizona’s season has been disastrous right from the get-go, and it was reported by Adam Schefter yesterday that the team was planning to move on. Larry Fitzgerald and other players have expressed support for the embattled coach, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be enough. In an interesting piece, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN recently took a look at the arguments both for and against firing Wilks.

Weinfuss lists the concerning lack of progress from Josh Rosen as one compelling reason to make him a one and done, as it doesn’t appear Wilks and his staff have done a good job developing him or putting him in position to succeed. As far as reasons for keeping him, Weinfuss lists some injuries, bad offensive coaching from the fired Mike McCoy, and the summer suspension of GM Steve Keim that kept the two from collaborating on the roster. Mike McCarthy is reportedly interested in the job, and it will be very interesting to see how this all plays out. We should know Wilks’ fate for certain by next Monday.

Here’s more from around the league on Christmas Eve:

  • It’s been rumored that Roger Goodell’s latest contract extension, signed in December of 2017, could be his last, and now we have news of a possible successor. The league recently “created a new title for rising executive Christopher Halpin”, and he’s considered “a frontrunner to take over as commissioner” once Goodell eventually steps down by many within the league, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Goodell faced some rare public criticism from owners in the wake of the anthem controversy and other issues, but has always managed to maintain a tight grip on the league.
  • Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been one of the fastest rising NFL draft prospects this season, and he recently received a first round projection from the NFL’s college personnel advisory board, league sources told Chris Mortensen of ESPN (Twitter link). Haskins finished third in the Heisman voting after a sensational first year as a starter, and has a very good chance to be the first quarterback taken this April, if not the first overall pick. He hasn’t formally announced one way or the other, but Haskins is widely expected to declare for the draft following the Buckeyes’ bowl game.
  • Speaking of the draft, Wake Forest wide receiver Greg Dortch announced he was leaving school early and declaring for the draft via Twitter. Dortch caught 89 passes for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns this year, and was one of the best players in the ACC. In addition to being a very talented receiver, he was also a first team All-American as a punt returner. While he’s a bit undersized at only 5’9, he should have a good shot to go early in the draft if he tests well in Indianapolis.

 

 

Extra Points: Super Bowl, London, Callaway, Browns, Cooper, Cowboys

There’s been a lot of talk about the NFL and London recently. There were rumors earlier this month that the Jaguars were eyeing a move to London in the near future. Just days later, the NFL’s vice president of international said the league was ready for a team across the pond right now. While Jaguars owner Shad Khan recently pulled his offer to buy Wembley Stadium, throwing cold water on the rumors for now, the NFL is still very invested in expanding the game abroad.

One possibility that’s been suggested is holding the Super Bowl in London. While Roger Goodell is acknowledging that it’s “been talked about a lot”, he said the league currently isn’t planning on doing it anytime soon, according to Nick Shook of NFL.com. Goodell said the Super Bowl is supposed to be a reward for fans, and that he won’t look to put a Super Bowl in London until London has its own team. Overall, Goodell’s comments suggest the league still plans on having a franchise overseas sooner rather than later.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Browns receiver Antonio Callaway has a well-documented legal history. He dealt with lots of off-field issues while at Florida, then was arrested this summer and reportedly didn’t tell the Browns about it until it was reported in the media. Now, Callaway was pulled over for speeding on his way to the team’s game against the Chargers a couple of weeks back, according to Robin Goist of Cleveland.com. It’s a very minor incident, but still worth noting due to Callaway already being on thin ice with the team. Callaway’s role has been reduced in recent weeks, even with injuries piling up to the Browns’ pass-catchers, and it seems like he’s in the doghouse with the coaching staff.
  • The Cowboys had been looking for a number one receiver for a while before trading for Amari Cooper, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said, per Jon Machota of Dallas News (Twitter link). Jones revealed the team heavily pursued Sammy Watkins in free agency but missed out. Since then, they didn’t find a possibility they liked until Cooper became available.
  • In case you missed it, a breakdown of all the recent drama surrounding ownership of the Denver Broncos.

NFL Considering Leaving Anthem Policies Up To Teams?

The latest news out of the league’s effort regarding the player protest movement may be a solution that shifts the decisions about whether or not players are required to stand during the playing of the national anthem up to the teams rather than implementing a leaguewide policy, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports.

Owners are considering going forward with an approach that would leave these decisions up to the 32 franchises, with Maske reporting not enough support among owners appears to exist for a policy that will require players to stand during the anthem.

Set to meet from May 21-23 in Atlanta, the owners are considering this as well as other solutions. Maske reports the pre-2009 policy of keeping players in their respective locker rooms is on the table, as is a more hardline approach of requiring players to either stand for the anthem or remain in the locker room during its playing.

While some owners — most notably Jerry Jones and Bob McNair — have come out against the inequality-based protests, Maske writes that others are opposed to forcing players to stand.

Roger Goodell is also not believed to be prepared to support a decision forcing players to stand, which may open the door to this team-by-team policy becoming the preferred solution at this point. Some around the league said, via Maske, Goodell’s involvement in the 2017 deal between players and owners that allocated funds to player-supported community causes will make it unlikely he’ll support any policy that requires players to stand.

My guess is they will leave it up to the teams,” a high-ranking official with one team said, via Maske.

The NFL’s current policy encourages players to stand for the anthem but doesn’t require it. Jones said last season he would bench players who chose to protest, and the Texans owner said in March NFL fields are “not the place for political statements.” President Donald Trump has consistently weighed in on this issue, most infamously at a speech last year that induced hundreds of players to kneel during anthems in Week 3 of last season, and has communicated with Jones regarding it. The president’s involvement has come up in both grievances from Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick, and a New York Times-obtained recording of last fall’s players-owners summit produced audio of owners expressing concern about the president’s attacks on the league.

Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reported last month that Jones will attempt to push through a measure that will require players to stand, but as of now, it doesn’t seem like the Cowboys owner has enough support here. No vote on this issue occurred at the league meetings in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Cowboys, Rams, Brockers, Lions, Dunlap

After much speculation, Cowboys defender Byron Jones confirmed on Monday that he will be switching from safety to cornerback in 2018, the Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota writes.

Viewed as a versatile defender coming out of college, Jones played cornerback as a rookie in 2015 and a safety the past two seasons. New defensive backs coach Kris Richard preferred him at the former.

“I think it will be a good move for me and the team. I’m always open to making position changes, as long as I’m in the best position to succeed. If [Richard] believes my best position is corner, then I’m down.”

Richard knows a thing or two about getting the best from bigger cornerbacks. With the Seahawks, Richard oversaw Richard Sherman’s ascent to one of the premier corners in the league. What remains to be seen is if the team prefers him on the boundary or in the slot. In 2017, rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis showed plenty of promise on the outside.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • In a press conference on Monday, Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers told reporters he tore his MCL in the team’s playoff loss to the Falcons in January, ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. During that game, the sixth-year defender sat out the second half. The good news for Los Angeles is that Brockers took part in team activities on Monday, but they’re not in pads until training camp.
  • If any Lions players are moved in draft-day deals, some of the names that make sense include Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Jake Rudock, ESPN’s Michael Rothstein writes. Those names all come to mind after the team added veterans in LeGarrette Blount and Matt Cassel in the offseason.
  • The goal is for the Bengals to sign both Carlos Dunlap and get a new deal with Geno AtkinsBengals.com writer Geoff Hobson notes in a mailbag. Both Dunlap’s and Atkins’ deals run through the 2018 campaign.
  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to be deposed in the next two weeks in Colin Kaeperncik‘s collusion case against the league, USA Today’s A.J. Perez writes. Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll are also on the docket to be deposed.

NFC Notes: Jerry Jones, Landry, Bruce Allen

Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Star-Telegram writes that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will testify before commissioner Roger Goodell and other owners at an appeal hearing tomorrow in Palm Beach, Florida. Jones is appealing the commissioner’s decision to assess him more than $2MM in legal fees stemming from the federal court case with Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and Jones’ opposition to Goodell’s contract extension.

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes, the fact that Jones is testifying before Goodell means that Goodell has not exercised his right to designate the appeal to someone else, even though not doing so creates obvious conflict of interest concerns. In Florio’s estimation, Jones has strong arguments against fee-shifting for his threat to sue the league with respect to Goodell’s extension, as he never actually followed through with the threat. His arguments against fee-shifting with respect to the Elliott matter is a different story, as the Cowboys clearly provided substantial assistance to Elliott in his battle with the league.

Florio says Goodell has final and binding power to resolve the amount of legal fees to be paid, but the resolution granting him that power does not expressly grant him the authority to also answer the threshold question of whether club behavior triggered a repayment obligation. Goodell presumably will take the position that he has final say in that regard, too.

As the Goodell v. Jones saga drags on, let’s take a look at several more notes from the NFC:

  • Although the Bears have interest in Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune does not believe the team should trade for him. Biggs says Landry does not give Chicago the dynamic, speedy playmaker that it needs, and given that, it would cost too much in both dollars and draft capital to land him.
  • Although most mock drafts have the Lions selecting a RB or DE with their first-round draft pick, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com says the team could target an OLB like Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds to boost its pass rush. Rothstein says the Lions could indeed target a RB with its first draft choice, but it’s a deep class for RBs, and the better value might be found on Day 2.
  • John Keim of ESPN.com says it is unclear whether Redskins team president Bruce Allen is on the hot seat, though Keim believes he should be. Nonetheless, Keim thinks it would take a really bad season, and not just a mediocre one, for Allen to be shown the door.
  • Mike Jurecki of 98.7FM says the Cardinals would like to retain linebacker Josh Bynes as a depth option, but he believes the team will target a linebacker at some point in the draft and/or look to the UDFA market to grab an LB (Twitter link).
  • Earlier today, we took a look at potential QB plans for the Vikings and Giants.

Roger Goodell To Fine Jerry Jones?

Jerry Jones‘ extensive 2017 fight against Roger Goodell about his contract extension looks like it will cost him. Ken Belson of the New York Times reports the commissioner is preparing to fine the Cowboys owner “millions of dollars” for what Goodell deemed an act of sabotage by Jones in attempting derail his extension last year. That and Jones’ ongoing defense of Ezekiel Elliott will lead to this punishment, several sources informed Belson.

This fine will exceed $2MM, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). As Mike Florio of PFT notes, the NFL’s Constitution and Bylaws stipulates that the commissioner cannot fine more than $500K for conduct detrimental to the league. However, the NFL is not technically fining Jones, per veteran reporter Ed Werder (Twitter link). Instead, the league is seeking repayment for approximately $2MM in legal expenses relative to his threats to sue the league.Goodell was initially reluctant to take action, but the NFL Finance Committee and other owners are in support of this plan.

Jones threatened to sue the NFL last year over a matter he said stemmed over Goodell’s contract. He hired an attorney and was prepared to sue the six members of the league’s compensation committee in November, and Belson reports the owner attempted to influence NFL officials during Elliott’s case. Belson reports Jones will be ordered to pay the legal fees the compensation committee spent defending itself as well as the legal expenses the NFL spent “defending its decision to suspend Elliott.”

Goodell’s contract went through, with Elliott serving the six-game suspension that Jones and the NFLPA vigorously fought for months. This extensive process left Jones — who once supported a Goodell extension — at intense odds with the commissioner and the Arthur Blank-chaired compensation committee. And this action — foreshadowed, to some degree, late last year — by the league likely won’t quell the animosity any time soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Front Office Notes: Ravens, Panthers, Broncos

We heard yesterday that longtime Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome will step down from his role following the 2018 season. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun passed along a quote from the executive regarding the move (via Twitter):

“I will remain as the Ravens’ GM through the 2018 season and continue my role directing free agency and the draft,” he said. “After that, Eric (DeCosta) will take over as our GM and assume all the duties that come with that, including heading our personnel department and directing free agency and the draft. I plan to remain with the Ravens in a significant position in personnel and help us win more Super Bowls. We have planned this succession over the last five years.”

Let’s take a look at some more front office notes from around the NFL…

  • The Panthers‘ interview with general manager candidate Martin Mayhew took place on Friday, the club announced today. Mayhew, the Lions’ GM from 2008-15, has spent time with the Giants and — currently — the 49ers since being fired in Detroit. Meanwhile, reports had indicated Titans executive Ryan Cowden may be a candidate for the Panthers’ general manager vacancy, but no interview has been scheduled to this point, tweets Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. In sum, Carolina’s contenders include Lake Dawson (Bills), Jimmy Raye III (Texans), Mayhew, and incumbent interim GM Marty Hurney, who is viewed as the frontrunner for the position.
  • The Panthers are seemingly on the market, and commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters (including NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport) that the NFL believes Carolina is a great market. Ultimately, the commissioner believes the organization’s current ownership is looking for a buyer that will keep the team in Charlotte.
  • Goodell confirmed that the Broncos have been operating “in full compliance with league guidelines” in regards to the Broncos’ ownership structure through the Pat Bowlen Trust. “They are in compliance with our rules. They have been very thoughtful. They have done a terrific job of leading that franchise over the last several years as Pat’s focused on his health issues,” Goodell said (via Andrew Mason of DenverBroncos.com). Bowlen stepped away from his role back in 2014 so he could focus on his fight against Alzheimer’s disease. The trust was established to ensure that franchise would continue to run smoothly in his absence. Goodell did point out the the trustees will ultimately have to decide who the primary owner will be.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

NFLPA Doesn’t See Work Stoppage Being Avoided

The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season, and following its 10-year run, there looks to be a fight between the league and the NFLPA.

This has been rumored for many months, and executive director DeMaurice Smith still cannot see any way around a work stoppage being required prior to the 2021 campaign.

No. We prepare for war,” Smith said (via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com) when asked if any hopes for a smooth CBA agreement exist. “So if we’re able to get a collective bargaining agreement done, that’s great. But all of these men went through a unilateral declared war on players in 2010 and 2011. I think it’s important for [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] and I to have a wonderful open discussion, but he represents the owners, and we represent the players.”

Smith does not see any circumstances under which he would agree to extend the current CBA, but the recently reelected union boss didn’t close the door on early negotiations after the 2018 season (Twitter links via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero and the Washington Post’s Mark Maske).

This collective bargaining agreement was painfully negotiated at a time when the league secured a $4 billion war chest to basically put us out of business,” Smith said. “There are a lot of great things about the collective bargaining agreement, but whether it’s the great things or the thing that we don’t like, collective bargaining agreements are grinding, exhausting elements that come out of two parties that want fundamentally different things.

So, I could never imagine a world where you would simply put a page on the back of it that says, ‘This document is now extended until 2035.”

Player discipline will be a central issue to the next agreement, per executive committee member Zak DeOssie, as will the resistance of the long-rumored 18-game season. NFLPA president Eric Winston remains opposed, a stance the players have long held.

Smith said he’s engaged in discussions with Goodell about injuries sustained on Thursday-night games. Possible fixes suggested in those talks were possibly scheduling bye weeks in front of teams’ Thursday assignments and implementing unspecified mandatory rest periods for players. Placing byes in front of Thursday games may conflict with the league’s London agenda. Many teams given the England games prefer their bye to come after that trip, so navigating around that could be difficult.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.