- Prior to the Seahawks hiring Ken Norton Jr. as their new defensive coordinator, they also interviewed incumbent defensive line coach Clint Hurtt for the position, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Although Hurtt was passed over for the job, he will stay on Seattle’s staff going forward, per Rapoport. Hurtt, who was the Bears’ outside linebackers coach from 2015-16, was hired by Seattle last January after an odd dance in which it seemed he’d land with the Jets. Hurtt’s decision to remain with the Seahawks shouldn’t obfuscate the fact that Seattle has revamped its defensive staff this month by firing both former DC Kris Richard and assistant head coach/linebackers Micahel Barrow.
- The concept of pending free agent Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah signing with the 49ers is being discussed in NFL circles, reports Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. As Barrows notes, this is an “all smoke, no fire” situation, as there have been no reports officially linking Ansah to the Bay Area. However, Ansah — who rebounded with 12 sacks in 2017 after a two-sack 2016 — could theoretically thrive in San Francisco’s 4-3 scheme as opposed to what will be a Matt Patricia-led defense in Detroit, so this is something to file away for later.
- 49ers promising rookie linebacker Reuben Foster recently got in trouble with the law for having possession of marijuana, which is likely to effect his paycheck in the years to come. The 2017 first-round pick had about $2.5MM in guaranteed money from 2018-2020, but that will probably be voided because of specific wording in his contract, according to Joel Corry of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Corry explained that Foster had a clause in his contract that if he were to be fined for a violation of the NFL’s drug policy, that money would lose its guaranteed status. The former Alabama defender fell down the draft board a bit last year because of some personality issues, and his immaturity has now clearly cost him in terms of his wallet.
- Current 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo made some extra cash after the Patriots beat the Titans to advance to the AFC Championship, according to Corry in another tweet. Corry reports that Garoppolo received an extra $51k in playoff money for the victory because he was with New England for at least eight games this past regular season.
- There is confidence on both sides that the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo will strike a deal, NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco writes. If the sides don’t reach an agreement, it’s almost a guarantee that the quarterback will be franchised. After leading the Niners to wins in each of his first five starts, Jimmy G is a safe bet to be the QB in San Francisco for a long time.
49ers linebacker Reuben Foster was arrested on Friday night in Alabama for possession of marijuana, reports Matt Zenitz of AL.com. Foster, who just completed his rookie campaign, was ultimately charged with second-degree possession of marijuana, and his bond was set at $2,500.
A first-rounder in last year’s draft, Foster made an instant impact on the 49ers defense. The linebacker ultimately started each of his 10 games, compiling 72 tackles. His performance earned him NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honors in November.
Foster had a standout collegiate career at the University of Alabama, but he saw his draft stock fall following several incidents at the scouting combine. The defender was sent home early after engaging in an argument with a hospital worker, and his urine sample was diluted (which is interpreted as a positive test). As a result, Foster was entered into the league’s substance-abuse program.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Norton was a popular figure in the Raiders’ locker room over the last three years, but poor on-field results led to his firing in November. At the time of his dismissal, the Raiders ranked 32nd in defensive DVOA. Of course, head coach Jack Del Rio was the one calling plays on defense, so it’s not necessarily fair to pin everything on Norton.
It’s a great fit for Norton on multiple levels. For one, he doesn’t have to move from his Bay Area home. The deal also marks a homecoming for Norton since he spent seven seasons with the Niners and played on three consecutive Super Bowl-winning teams.
In related news, Johnny Holland is the team’s new run game specialist/outside linebackers coach.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
But the 49ers now have him likely set for the franchise tag after surrendering merely a second-round pick. However, the Browns were the team most connected with the promising quarterback this past offseason, and Terry Pluto of cleveland.com reports they were willing to make a better offer to the Patriots for their then-backup.
The then-Sashi Brown-led front office was ready to offer the Patriots the Texans’ 2018 first-round pick (now No. 4 overall) they acquired in the Deshaun Watson trade, per Pluto, who adds the Browns would have been willing to throw in other trade chips if necessary to acquire Garoppolo.
Pluto notes the Browns tried to call the Patriots on Oct. 28 — two days before they shipped Garoppolo to San Francisco — and said more than once, “If you are open to trading him, please call.”
The Browns did not get another chance to make a Garoppolo push, Pluto writes, and this baffled the front office because of the previous deals — for Barkevious Mingo and Jamie Collins — they made with the Pats in 2016.
Seth Wickersham’s ESPN.com piece detailed how Belichick contacted Kyle Shanahan about Garoppolo in late October, making this a two-team negotiation rather than the bidding war the Browns were apparently willing to win since that Texans first-round pick ended up being a top-five choice. (Of course, Houston’s pick didn’t look like it was destined for this lofty of a slot at the trade deadline.) However, Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson tweets Belichick — once fired by the Browns, as they were already transitioning to becoming the Ravens, after the 1995 season — was never going to trade Garoppolo to Cleveland.
The Browns checked in on Garoppolo’s availability during the draft, but the Patriots did not bite. Adam Schefter of ESPN indicated the Patriots never considered dealing Garoppolo this offseason. Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reported Hue Jackson was the driving force behind the Browns’ Garoppolo interest, and that it would have taken “at least” one first-round pick to pry him from the Patriots. Cabot added the Browns’ draft-weekend offer was a second-round pick for Garoppolo, however. John Lynch said the 49ers tried to trade for Garoppolo in the offseason as well but couldn’t agree on terms in this now-complicated saga.
Robert Kraft denied he gave Belichick a mandate to trade Garoppolo, as was reported by ESPN last week, and said Belichick came to him about the 49ers’ Garoppolo offer in October. The Browns ended up botching a trade for A.J. McCarron, whom Jackson also coveted but possibly as a backup plan after the Garoppolo talks fizzled, and are expected to draft a quarterback with their No. 1 overall pick.
Plenty of stories have emerged about Garoppolo’s availability in what could prove to be one of this decade’s seminal NFL transactions. But the Browns are still in search of a long-elusive franchise quarterback, and reportedly weren’t given the 11th-hour opportunity the 49ers were in the Garoppolo pursuit.
The Patriots stunned many this year when they traded quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round pick. In a lengthy piece detailing a growing rift within the Patriots organization, ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham writes that owner Robert Kraft forced Bill Belichick to make the deal. However, after watching Garoppolo excel in San Francisco, Kraft has “confessed to people in the building that trading Garoppolo might have been a mistake.”
Previous reports indicated that Kraft may have pressured Belichick to part ways with Tom Brady‘s heir apparent. However, the ESPN story hints at a much bigger problem within the organization. Brady, who turns 41 in August, seemed to be elated in the wake of the Garoppolo trade. Belichick, meanwhile, only requested a second-round pick in exchange for Garoppolo, Wickersham hears. Wickersham also hints that Belichick steered Garoppolo to the 49ers out of respect for Kyle Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan.
Before the trade, the Patriots worked hard to keep Garoppolo in the fold. Wickersham hears that the Pats “repeatedly” offered up four-year contract extensions, in the $17MM-$18MM per year range plus increases for if/when he succeeded Brady. Garoppolo’s camp rejected those offers, likely because he preferred the possibility of immediately becoming a starter elsewhere and earning $25MM/year or more on his next contract.
The story, which we recommend reading in full, hints at a potential end to the Patriots structure as we know it. Some within the organization apparently wondered if the Pats’ Week 17 game against the Jets could be Belichick’s last regular season game as the Patriots’ head coach.
Meanwhile, the agent for Brady (and Garoppolo) has moved to cast doubt on the report.
“I don’t really know what to say — it’s tough to have a response since it didn’t appear to me to have one on-the-record quote,” Don Yee said in a statement. “All I can suggest is don’t believe everything you read.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Today’s NFL workout updates, with all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account:
- G Greg Pyke (link)
- DE Evan Panfil (link)
Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Rams
New Orleans Saints
New York Giants
- LS Anthony Kukwa (link)
- RB Joel Bouagnon; DE Darnell Leslie; LBs Kenneth Olugbode, Max Valles; DBs Lorenzo Jerome, Andrew Williamson (Twitter links)
San Francisco 49ers
Here are the latest reserve/futures contract signings from around the NFL. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2018 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ offseason 90-man rosters:
- WR Carlton Agudosi
- DT Peli Anau
- CB Jarell Carter
- OLB Vontarrius Dora
- CB Jonathan Moxey
- WR Rashad Ross
- DT Pasoni Tasini
- RB Darius Victor
- OL Josh Allen
- LS Drew Williams
- OL Travis Averill
- WR Demarcus Ayers
- DB Doran Grant
- WR Mekale McKay
- OL Will Pericak
- TE Colin Thompson
- WR Brian Brown
- WR K.D. Cannon
- T Jarron James
- S Jameill Showers
- DT Joe Vellano
- CB Marquez White
- RB Trey Williams
Green Bay Packers
- WR Jake Kumerow
- WR Colby Pearson
- TE Robert Tonyan
- LS Zach Triner
- WR DeAngelo Yancey
Eric Reid looks set to become a UFA for the first time. The fifth-year safety’s 49ers contract expires after Week 17, and should the former first-round pick hit the market, he’ll be doing so at age 26 and with five seasons of full-time starter work. However, Reid is aware his protest participation over the past two years could play a role in his market.
“I wouldn’t use the word ‘concerned.’ I’d say I understand that that’s a possibility,” Reid said, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, when asked about his potential UFA market diminishing because of his participation in the Colin Kaepernick-led protest movement. “And I’m completely fine with that. The things that I’ve done, I stand by. And I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said I’m fine with whatever outcome comes because of that.”