Sean Lee

Injury Notes: Winston, Freeman, Fuller, Hurns

We heard yesterday that Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston could miss “an extended period” of time as he recovered from a shoulder injury. However, head coach Dirk Koetter was still adamant that the franchise signal-caller would take the field again this season.

“Again, (the plan we adopted) was for Jameis to rest for two weeks and then we’re going to see where he’s at,” Koetter said (via Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders). “We’ve talked to multiple doctors (about it) and that’s what the plan is.

 “And I know that Jameis plans on playing again (this year). And there’s been no discussion between Jason and myself of him not playing again so that would all be something that would have to come up in the future.’’

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

  • Falcons running back Devonta Freeman is unlikely to suit up for next Monday’s game against the Seahawks, reports ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Freeman suffered his second concussion of the season this past weekend, although Schefter notes that the player isn’t expected to miss multiple games. The 25-year-old has compiled 515 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee may be forced to shut it down for several weeks. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the defender is unlikely to play this week or during the team’s Thanksgiving contest against the Chargers. Head coach Jason Garrett confirmed that Lee may miss several games, noting that “it might be some time” before he returns (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com).
  • Texans wideout Will Fuller suffered a cracked rib during his team’s loss to the Rams this weekend, according to Rapoport (via Twitter). Fortunately, the second-year player didn’t experience extensive damage and may only miss a single game. The 23-year-old has been a touchdown machine this season, hauling in seven scores.
  • We learned last week that Bengals running back Jeremy Hill‘s season was over, and it sounds like it was the player’s decision to be placed on the injured reserve. Head coach Marvin Lewis said it was Hill who ultimately opted for the ankle surgery, which resulted in him landing on the injured reserve (via Rapoport on Twitter). The former second-rounder has compiled only 116 rushing yards on 37 carries this season, a far cry from his 1,124-yard performance in 2014.
  • Jaguars wideout Allen Hurns suffered a right ankle injury against the Chargers on Sunday, and coach Doug Marrone doesn’t see him taking the field this weekend. “Yeah, I don’t anticipate him playing this week,’’ Marrone said (via Cummings). “I would say yes (in terms of him missing this week), but I wouldn’t know (about his availability) after that.’’ As Cummings points out, Hurns absence could force the team to finally play wideout Dede Westbrook, who is eligible to be activated off of the injured reserve.

Cowboys, Sean Lee Restructure Contract

The Cowboys have restructured the contract of linebacker Sean Lee, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (Twitter link). The move will give Dallas a little more than $5MM in space to work with, sources say. Sean Lee (vertical)

Lee, 31 in July, missed the entire 2014 season and but came back strong in 2015, earning a Pro Bowl nod along the way. This past season, he topped himself by getting a Pro Bowl nod as well as a First-Team All-Pro selection, the first of his career.

As of this writing, the Cowboys now have about $9MM in breathing room. That will come in handy this week, particularly if the Cowboys are serious about major expenditures like wide receiver Kenny Britt. Still, space is limited and we are expecting the Cowboys to ration out their available room to spend. Already, the Cowboys are anticipating the loss of several key free agents.

The Cowboys also recently restructured the deals of tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Give Sean Lee Additional Bonus

Last year, linebacker Sean Lee was slated to earn a $2MM bonus for appearing in 80% of the team’s defensive snaps. In Week 17, Lee was on the cusp of locking that bonus in, but he was battling a hamstring injury. Rather than play at half-strength to cash in, Lee opted to sit out of the game so that a healthy player could take his place. That gesture was not lost on the Cowboys. Today, Dallas gave Lee a $125K per-game bonus this year, totaling $2MM if he plays 16 games, a source tells Don Banks on TwitterSean Lee (vertical)

[RELATED: Cowboys To Meet With QB Austin Davis]

Of course, it’s not a given that Lee will stay healthy for the entire year. Injuries cost Lee the entire 2014 season and he also missed significant time in 2012 and 2013. Last year, however, Lee bounced back to appear in 14 games and log a career-high 128 tackles on his way to a Pro Bowl nod. After suspensions ravaged the Cowboys’ front seven, Dallas is rooting for Lee to earn that extra $2MM this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Brady, Cowboys, Panthers

Robert Kraft addressed the reinstatement of Tom Brady‘s suspension on Friday night, and the Patriots owner certainly didn’t mince his words.

“Number one, there is no finer ambassador for the game of football, and the New England Patriots, than Tom Brady,” Kraft said, via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com. “We always have had, and will continue to have, Tom’s back. Especially when he’s being treated unfairly. He knows that. All the decisions that this organization and I personally have made throughout this ordeal have been focused on putting Tom in the best possible position for success.”

“Number two, I have been in constant communication with Tom over the past 16 months and we’ve had numerous conversations this past week. We are both on the same page and he knows exactly where my allegiances, and the total team’s [allegiances] are, relative to the extremely unfair discipline that he has been subjected to.”

“I share in our fans’ anger and frustration with the penalties the league has levied, and the entire process and how it was conducted. But please trust that I am always trying to do what I believe is best for this franchise, and pledge that I will always continue to do that.”

The Patriots have seemingly started preparing for Brady’s absence, as the organization selected quarterback Jacoby Brissett during last night’s third round.

Let’s check out some more non-draft-related notes from around the NFL…

  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee underwent minor knee surgery yesterday, tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Expected recovery time is two weeks for the 29-year-old. The former second-round pick finished last season with 128 tackles, a career-high.
  • The Cowboys are no longer pursuing veteran defensive end Jeremy Mincey, tweets Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram. The writer notes that the team also won’t be adding former-Lions defensive lineman Jason Jones.
  • ESPN.com’s David Newton believes the Panthers will pursue a veteran cornerback following the draft (Twitter link).

NFC Rumors: Manning, Brees, Cowboys

The Giants could be in store for major changes this winter and spring, but quarterback Eli Manning hopes that the offense remains the same, as Ebenezer Samuel of the Daily News writes.

Yep, of course,” Manning said when asked whether he wants the offense to remain in tact for 2016. “I feel very comfortable in the offense. We scored a lot of points, we were competitive in most of the games and I thought we had a great game plan. I think with the guys we have and add a few guys, we can be a strong offense.”

Manning threw for a career-best 35 touchdowns this season, along with 4,436 yards, the second-highest total of his career. He didn’t commit to speaking to the front office about his feelings on the system, but he didn’t rule it out, either.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • When asked if he would be amenable if the Saints came to him to talk about a contract extension for this year, Drew Brees said, “absolutely” (Twitter link via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com). Brees is due a $30MM cap hold as he enters the final year of the five-year, $100MM deal he inked in 2012.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee missed the team’s season finale and his absence appears to have cost him a possible $2MM escalator bonus for the 2016 season, as Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram writes. Lee had to play in 80% of snaps this season in order to bump his $3MM base salary to $5MM. Lee said after the game that the decision was his and that he felt trying to force things wouldn’t have helped his team.
  • Vikings tight end Rhett Ellison tore his patellar tendon and he is done for the 2015 season, according to coach Mike Zimmer (Twitter link via Ben Goessling of ESPN.com)
  • Bears linebacker Shea McClellin is slated to hit the open market but he says that he would “love” to be back if the team will have him, Patrick Finley of the Sun Times writes. McClellin added that he wants to stay at inside linebacker, wherever he goes. McClellin played in 12 games, starting 11, in his first year at inside linebacker.

East Notes: Dolphins, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys

Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell, whose short stint is almost sure to end Sunday, spoke about his tenure to Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald.

On what he’ll do differently if given another opportunity in the future, Campbell said, “I would do a better job of holding everyone more accountable, from staff to players.”

Going forward, Campbell believes the Dolphins need more leadership from quarterback Ryan Tannehill and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

“Certainly, those are two guys that you’d love to see grow more into that area, and it would help,” he stated.

Campbell also used the word “frustration” to describe the Dolphins’ 5-10 season (and 4-7 mark under his reign). He’ll try to go out with a win Sunday as the Dolphins host AFC East rival New England.

More on the Dolphins and three NFC East teams:
  • With the Giants’ Tom Coughlin era seemingly on the verge of ending, the New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano wrote Friday that the team should pursue the Saints’ Sean Payton and Alabama’s Nick Saban as possible successors. In addition to Payton and Saban, Vacchiano listed more potential candidates Saturday. Featured prominently: New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, current Giants O-coordinator Ben McAdoo – though Vacchiano argues that he’d be tough to sell to their fan base – as well as college head coaches Brian Kelly (Notre Dame) and David Shaw (Stanford). There’s also Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, a pair of Carolina assistants in OC Mike Shula and D-coordinator Sean McDermott, two more O-coordinators (Pittsburgh’s Todd Haley and Cincinnati’s Hue Jackson), and Jacksonville assistant Doug Marrone. Haley, Jackson and Marrone were all mixed bags in their prior head coaching stops, while Spagnuolo and McDaniels flamed out in epic fashion in St. Louis and Denver, respectively.
  • The Dolphins’ Olivier Vernon, who leads the team in sacks (seven), could be playing his last game with the team Sunday, ESPN’s James Walker writes. Vernon, 25, stands to cash in as a pending free agent. Thus, he might not fit within the Dolphins’ budget. Vernon does want to stay in Miami, though. “I’d like to be here,” Vernon told Walker. “But at the end of the day, business is business. So if this is my last game and I enter free agency, then I’m going to see how that goes.”
  • As we learned Saturday afternoon, the Eagles interviewed running backs coach Duce Staley for their vacant head coaching job. Whether they’re truly serious about him remains to be seen, but the interview means they’ve already fulfilled the Rooney Rule because Staley is a minority candidate. That means they could hire Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase, whom they’re interested in, as early as Monday. However, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that won’t happen. Gase will bide his time and explore all options, per Florio.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee will lose out on $2MM extra if he doesn’t play Sunday against Washington, Brandon George of SportsDay writes. Lee, whose status is up in the air because of a hamstring injury, has incentives in his contract that will kick his 2015-16 salary from $3MM to $5MM if he plays 80 percent of snaps on the season. He’s currently at 82.1.

NFC Notes: Forte, Lions, Lynch, Bonuses

With Matt Forte‘s contract set to expire, Bears tackle Kyle Long hopes to continue playing with his veteran teammate, but knows there’s a chance next week’s game could be their last together, as Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com writes.

“I’d love to play with Matt forever, but it’s a business,” Long said. “I understand that. If he is around, I’ll be as psyched as anybody. And it will be one of the hardest things ever to see him in another jersey if that’s the case. But we have one more game with him, sure. We’re going to run the workhorse until the wheels fall off.”

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has turned around his 2015 season since Jim Bob Cooter took over as the team’s offensive coordinator, so it’s no surprise that Stafford would like to see Cooter keep the job in 2016, as Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com details.
  • Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch hasn’t progressed as quickly as expected in his recovery from a sports hernia ailment, but he was seen training on Christmas Day at a San Francisco facility. The 29-year-old is expected to be back in Seattle this week, with an eye on potentially returning to practice, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. A determination on Lynch’s ability to play in his fifth postseason with the Seahawks remains elusive, however.
  • In advance of the Seahawks‘ rematch with the Rams on Sunday, GM John Schneider said offensive rookie of the year contender Todd Gurley rated as the No. 1 player on Seattle’s draft board, the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta reports (on Twitter).
  • Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter links) identifies a couple players with major money on the line in Week 17, noting that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson‘s 2016 roster bonus will be reduced by $1MM if he doesn’t rush for 132 yards against the Packers, while Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee will miss out on a $2MM salary increase if his playing time for the season dips below 80% (he’s currently at 82.1%).
  • One player who has cashed in on bonus money recently is Cardinals edge defender Dwight Freeney, who earned an extra $300K on Sunday after racking up three more sacks. Per Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter links), Cardinals president Michael Bidwell says he hopes to write Freeney a year-end bonus check worth more than the $500K the veteran pass rusher has already earned.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

NFC Notes: Hardy, Saints, Cowboys, Peterson

It’s not yet known when offseason acquisition Greg Hardy will be able to play for the Cowboys this year, but coach Jason Garrett is impressed with what he’s seen so far in practice, Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram writes. “He’s done a really good job,” Garrett said about Hardy’s work ethic. “Once we decided to sign him, we’ve certainly tried to embrace him in every way and he’s embraced the situation. He was here well before the off-season program got into full gear and guys were in the weight room and out on the field working and he embraced being a part of that once the off-season program started.” More from the NFC..

  • Rita LeBlanc spent about eight hours on the witness stand Wednesday in the competency trial of Saints owner Tom Benson, as the staff at The Times-Picayune writes. LeBlanc was tabbed by her grandfather as his future successor until Benson announced in January that his third wife would be inheriting the Saints and the NBA’s Pelicans instead.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee is back on the practice field one year after a knee injury wiped out his season and he’s confident that he’ll be good to go for training camp and the start of the season, David Moore of The Dallas Morning News writes.
  • Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is cautiously optimistic about the team’s potential now that Adrian Peterson is back in the fold, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes.

Notable Contracts Guaranteed Today

On today, the fifth day of the league year, a number of contracts have become fully or partially guaranteed.

Below are a number of notable contracts that have money guaranteed as of today, according to Joel Corry of CBS Sports. All links are via Twitter.

NFC East Notes: Romo, Bryant, RG3, Lee

After suffering two transverse process fractures in his back during Monday’s game against Washington, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will not play in today’s contest against the Cardinals, reports Desmond Purnell of the NFL Network (via Twitter). Ex-Brown Brandon Weeden, who filled in briefly for Romo on Monday night, will get the start against the league’s seventh-best defense by DVOA. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links), Romo decided last night that he wouldn’t be able to go today, and the Dallas coaching staff is already preparing for Romo to not travel to London for Week 10, and instead use the time to fully heal. It’s a major development for a Cowboys team that, at 6-2, can’t afford to lose many games with the 5-2 Eagles chasing them in the standings. Here’s more from the NFC East.

  • Set to enter free agency this offseason unless an extension is worked out, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has left agent Eugene Parker and opted to team with Jay-Z and Roc Nation, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (on Twitter). Roc Nation, who also boasts Victor Cruz and Ndamukong Suh on its client list, might try to begin long-term contract talks with Dallas, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in August that there was no need to accelerate the discussions. Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo tweets that as of yet, the Cowboys have only shown a willingness to discuss an extension if the terms are extremely team-friendly. The club could use the franchise tag on Bryant in 2015, which would guarantee him ~$12-14MM.
  • Sources tell Schefter that Washington’s decision to start Robert Griffin III against the Vikings came from upper management, rather than head coach Jay Gruden. Ownership reportedly supports Griffin more than his teammates do, as evidenced by a scene on Friday, when Griffin spoke to the media for the first time since Week 2. Per Schefter, roughly 15 teammates began shouting while Griffin spoke. Ultimately, reporters and the quarterback had to leave the locker room so Griffin could be heard — at that point, the “cheering” became even louder. According to Schefter’s colleague Britt McHenry, the third-year QB has “alienated himself” from the locker room.
  • When he returns from injury in 2015, Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee will likely play weakside linebacker, rather than the middle, Jones tells 105.3 The Fan in Dallas (link via Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com). Dallas will presumably rely on Rolando McClain, who has played well this season, to man MLB.