Roger Goodell

Latest On CBA Discussions, Jerry Jones’ Involvement

There is plenty of reason for optimism right now with respect to a new collective bargaining agreement, and we even heard today that the league and the union hope to have a new agreement hammered out before the 2019 regular season gets underway. While that is far from a certainty at this point, it’s at least encouraging that the two sides are actively trying to avoid a work stoppage like the one we saw in 2011.

One of the key figures in this round of negotiations is Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Jones has taken a more visible and vocal role this time around after watching Patriots owner Robert Kraft take charge back in 2011. Jones reportedly wants a large share of the credit for getting the next deal done, though it’s unclear whether his involvement will facilitate matters or throw a wrench into the works.

Indeed, Florio reports that, at a recent bargaining session, Jones and Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander had a “spirited discussion” about player health and safety that created some friction. And Jones’ very public campaign against commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017 could be a source of tension, though Florio says the two men have largely reconciled.

One of the issues that Jones, his fellow owners, and the NFLPA will have to resolve is stadium credits. Albert Breer of TheMMQB (Twitter link) notes that media deals will also be a major topic of conversation — the league’s current broadcast deals expire in 2023, and the emergence of streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix will greatly complicate matters — and the revenue split between owners and players will be revisited.

Florio suggests that a new CBA is not likely to be agreed upon by the start of the season, and Breer likewise hears that the meetings that have taken place so far have been to identify issues, not necessarily to resolve them. Perhaps more substantive work will get done at the bargaining sessions that are currently scheduled for July 17-19.

Florio does indicate that Goodell is hoping to parlay the new CBA into a new round of media deals and then retire not long thereafter. The CBA and the network deals could be done, if not by the start of the season, then at least before the Super Bowl in February.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ezekiel Elliott On Meeting With Commissioner

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott met with commissioner Roger Goodell today to discuss a May incident in Las Vegas during which Elliott was briefly detained by police after bumping a security guard. After the summit with Goodell, Elliott released the following statement on Twitter:

“Earlier today, I met with the Commissioner to share with him what occurred in Las Vegas and what I have learned from that incident. I’ve worked hard to make better decisions and to live up to the high standards that are expected of me. I failed to do that here and I made a poor decision. I apologized to [security guard] Kyle Johnson at the time and I meant it. I need to work harder to ensure that I do not put myself in compromised situations in the future. I am rededicating myself to use all of the resources that the league has made available. But in the end, it is up to me and I am determined not to be in this position again.”

Elliott certainly sounds like a man who has gotten a thorough talking-to, and his contrition may be enough to stave off a suspension. Given Elliott’s track record, though, Goodell may well have warned the two-time rushing champion that even minor incidents like this one could be more damaging to him than they would be to a player without a disciplinary history.

Veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder said he does not expect Zeke to be hit with a suspension (Twitter link), and Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says that no criminal charges are expected to be filed. Hill also reports that Johnson hugged Elliott and took a picture with him after the incident, though he later requested a sincere apology.

Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network also hears from league sources that Elliott is unlikely to be suspended, and that the meeting with Goodell was more of an opportunity for the commissioner to warn Elliott to keep himself out of potentially troublesome situations going forward (video link). Interestingly, Garafolo adds that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sent team counsel to the meeting, even though such meetings are generally attended by an NFLPA rep and/or the player’s own lawyer. Jones and Goodell have apparently reconciled enough to work together on the new CBA, but matters involving Elliott still seem to be sensitive for Jones.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On NFL CBA Talks, Gambling

More steam is building toward a future without another NFL lockout. After a report indicating the league is increasingly motivated to finalize a new collective bargaining agreement by September to avoid the prospect oc contentious talks hanging over its 100th season, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes both sides are motivated on this front.

Part of this motivation stems from the revenue streams that legalized gambling can create, with La Canfora adding many owners are eager to see what an increased relationship with gambling can do for the league. A 2018 Supreme Court ruling opened the door to states making inroads on the gambling front, and state legislatures across the country are acting accordingly.

While a gambling component infiltrating the league could be years away, JLC adds this is being seen as a “billion-dollar” game-changer that could see future salary caps spike. The cap has gone up by approximately $10MM for most of this decade, but the new CBA — which will coincide with new television agreements and, potentially, an increased relationship with sports betting — could change that for the better.

Another sign the NFL and NFLPA are making strides: key members of both parties met recently in Chicago to discuss the CBA, Albert Breer of SI.com reports. This June 12 gathering was the third CBA-related meeting of this cycle, Breer adds, noting Roger Goodell, union chief DeMaurice Smith and select players and owners were in attendance. The other meetings occurred on April 9 and May 8, in Minneapolis and New York, respectively. A July meeting is tentatively scheduled.

Additionally, the NFLPA’s executive committee stayed in Chicago for a June 13 strategy session, per Breer. The current agreement does not expire until March 2021. The fact that the sides are meeting regularly this early points to, despite the frequent acrimony between the league and the union, a greater chance the NFL avoids the work stoppage that defined 2011.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.