Tom Brady

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Brown, Brady

Previously slated to return in Week 14, Christian McCaffrey has run into another setback. The All-Pro Panthers running back suffered a quadriceps injury during the team’s bye week, and Matt Rhule said it tightened up during Wednesday’s practice, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. Rhule pointed to an offsite workout for the cause of McCaffrey’s latest malady, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. A high ankle sprain and a shoulder ailment have limited McCaffrey to just three games this season. Rhule said earlier this week McCaffrey was set to play against the Broncos on Sunday. This latest update could change that status. Given McCaffrey’s long-term importance to the Panthers, it would not exactly surprise at this juncture if the team opted to hold him out for the rest of the season. But it is too early to tell on that front, and Rhule said Wednesday that McCaffrey wants to return as soon as possible.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • The Panthers placed eight players on their reserve/COVID-19 list this week after two tested positive for the coronavirus. This appears to have stemmed from an outside gathering of players, with NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills indicating a bye-week gathering led to the virus cases, via Person (on Twitter). Seven of those players — including starters Shaq Thompson, D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and Derrick Brown — remain on Carolina’s COVID list.
  • Antonio Brown should be in the clear on finishing the 2020 season, and a recent change for his civil trial date could affect his 2021 free agency. A Florida judge moved the Buccaneers wide receiver’s trial date — for a civil case stemming from Britney Taylor’s rape allegation — to Dec. 6, 2021, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The NFL suspended Brown eight games this season, but Taylor’s allegation did not factor into that ban. The Taylor suit threatens to lead to another Brown ban, but that issue will be tabled for a while.
  • Tom Brady‘s assimilation to Bruce Arians‘ offense has not gone especially smoothly, despite the future Hall of Famer’s sporadic success in his first Bucs season. Particularly, the bevy of deep passes Arians’ offense calls for have resulted in Brady struggling as of late. From Weeks 8-11, Brady was just 5% (1-for-19) on passes that traveled 20-plus yards in the air, and ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine notes the Bucs staff had discussed adjusting the offense before their bye week. Arians said recently coverage recognition, and not ability, contributed more to Brady’s deep-ball issues. It will be interesting to see if the staff made larger-scale changes to the offense during the bye, considering Brady’s penchant for quick-strike, shorter passes. The Bucs, who have lost back-to-back games, will face the Vikings on Sunday.
  • The Falcons are set to interview Saints assistant GM Terry Fontenot for their GM post. One of three known candidates to succeed Thomas Dimitroff, Fontenot has been with the Saints for more than 15 years.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Thomas, McCaffrey

Not that much doubt existed as to why Antonio Brown is in Tampa, but the Buccaneers indeed reversed course on the volatile wide receiver because Tom Brady pushed for the signing, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora notes. Brown is living with Brady, who insisted to Buccaneers brass he would work with the former All-Pro daily to ensure he does not become a problem for the organization.

Brady told them he is going to make sure this is not a problem,” a source with knowledge of this process told La Canfora. “He guaranteed BA (Bruce Arians) that he would make sure this guy did everything he has to do, even if Brady has to drive him there himself. And (the Bucs) made it clear to Brady that Brown is on a very short leash. If he (slips up), he’s gone.”

Brown went from potential first-ballot Hall of Famer to the epicenter of numerous controversies last year, but Brady expressed disappointment the Patriots released him after one game. Arians said in March that Brown would not be a fit with the Bucs. They activated him this week; Brown will debut for a third team Sunday against the Saints.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Staying on the subject of availability for the biggest game in the history of the Saints-Bucs series, Michael Thomas is finally on track to return to action. The All-Pro wide receiver, who has not played since suffering an ankle injury against the Bucs in Week 1, is on track to be back in action Sunday night, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com tweets. Thomas has missed six games due to ankle and hamstring injuries and for striking a teammate. Emmanuel Sanders also practiced Friday, putting the veteran No. 2 wideout in line to play Sunday. Sanders missed two games after contracting the coronavirus.
  • In this suddenly intergalactic matchup of receiving corps, Chris Godwin will be back as well. Arians said Friday the fourth-year target will be back after undergoing surgery on a broken finger. Godwin has missed time due to three separate issues this season, and given that doctors told him he would face a four- to six-week recovery timetable — per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter — his return will be worth monitoring. Doctors inserting pins into Godwin’s damaged index finger opened the door for him to miss just one game, Schefter adds.
  • Keeping with the “return to action” theme here, Christian McCaffrey‘s six-week hiatus is expected to end. The All-Pro Panthers back will be activated ahead of Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, per Matt Rhule. McCaffrey has been sidelined since Week 2 because of a high ankle sprain.
  • Calvin Ridley is battling a mid-foot sprain, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link), and is questionable to face the Broncos on Sunday. Ridley left the Falcons’ Week 8 win with the foot malady.

Reactions To Antonio Brown Signing With Buccaneers

Antonio Brown is officially a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the two sides have finalized a one-year contract. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets that the deal is worth slightly more than a minimum salary, although there are per-game roster bonuses, individual incentives, and team incentives.

Besides Brown’s continued antics over the past year-plus, it’s not overly surprising that he had to settle for this kind of incentive-laden deal. Bruce Arians had previously dealt with Brown when he was the wide receivers coach in Pittsburgh, and the Buccaneers head coach had consistently stated that the Bucs wouldn’t be signing the wideout. Perhaps the low-risk contract has partly swayed Arians’ opinion.

One individual who was clamoring for Brown was Tom Brady. The quarterback is signed through the 2021 season, so if the wide receiver is a productive member of the offense, there’s a chance he could stick around beyond the 2020 campaign.

Here’s some more news and notes pertaining to the AB signing:

  • ESPN’s Jenna Laine writes that Brown’s signing is all about maximizing Brady’s window. While Arians may have previously been against adding the wideout, Laine believes Tampa Bay’s continued offensive injuries (a list that includes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scott Miller, and O.J. Howard) may have changed his mind. Plus, Laine writes that the “feeling inside the organization” is that Arians has a strong personality that can keep Brown in line, and there’s also Brady’s positive influence. The writer also points out that Brown was teammates with three members of the coaching staff: offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El, and outside linebackers coach Larry Foote.
  • Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic wonders why the Buccaneers are taking the unnecessary risk of signing Brown. Tampa Bay is leading the NFC in point differential, and while that has mostly been thanks to the defense, the offense has been plenty competent. Brown’s talent means he could naturally provide the passing game with a significant boost, but Kapadia thinks it’s more likely that “he’ll be a problem.”
  • Here’s a fun one for fans of conspiracies. Following public reports of the Seahawks interest in Brown, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com wonders why Seattle let that information leak in the first place. One argument could be made that the Seahawks “recklessly invited a competitor to swoop in” and sign the wideout, while another argument could be made that the Seahawks deliberately leaked the news. Why would they do that? Florio writes that the Seahawks may have been doing the modern-day version of the Trojan Horse, hoping that Brown’s signing would derail his suitor’s season. In another piece, Florio notes that those “within league circles” wonder if Pete Carroll “repeatedly confirmed interest in Brown in the hopes that someone else would sign” the receiver.
  • Greg Auman of The Athletic explores the 22-month span that saw Brown going from a star wideout with the Steelers to a low-salary, midseason signing with the Buccaneers. The story starts in December of 2018, when Brown was benched for Pittsburgh’s season finale and subsequently missed his exit meeting with Mike Tomlin.

Buccaneers, Antonio Brown Agree To Deal

6:08pm: This moved fast. Brown’s one-year Buccaneers deal is done, Schefter reports (on Twitter). As of now, Brown will be eligible to make his Bucs debut in Week 9 against the Saints.

5:52pm: Brown’s Bucs negotiations are “99% done,” according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud (on Twitter). The former Steelers superstar’s latest chance at reviving his career looks almost certain to occur in Tampa.

5:17pm: The Buccaneers appear to have reversed course on Antonio Brown. They are bringing him in for a visit, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports.

While the Seahawks still have interest in the superstar wide receiver, Wilson adds the Bucs are the expected team to land the mercurial free agent. The sides have already begun working toward an agreement, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The Seahawks remain in discussions with Brown, but the high-profile free agent is flying to Tampa tonight. Other teams remain interested as well, though Brown and the Bucs each have “extreme interest” in finalizing an agreement, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

This accord will not cover Brady’s Tampa tenure. While Tom Brady has been pushing for Brown for a while, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports this will be a one-year agreement (Twitter links). Brady is signed through 2021. Though, if Brown can rebound from the span that cratered his career, the Bucs would seemingly have interest in keeping him around next season.

Bruce Arians said shortly after the Bucs’ Brady signing the team was not interested in Brown, despite the quarterback’s push for the four-time All-Pro. Arians said at the time a deal was “not going to happen” and Brown was “not a fit here.” However, the Bucs can be viewed as one of the NFC’s frontrunners and made an all-in move when they signed Brady.

Brown would equip Brady with arguably the best weaponry of his career, upon joining Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski. Arians coached Brown for two seasons when he was the Steelers offensive coordinator, so if Brown does sign with the Bucs, it will be interesting to learn what changed between the Bucs HC’s March comments and now. It could be as simple as Brady having convinced his new coach to sign off on reuniting with Brown. Brady and Brown indeed discussed the prospect of playing together again before the QB’s Bucs agreement.

Brady was reported to be against the Patriots releasing Brown last season. Brown is out until at least Week 9 due to his suspension, and the 32-year-old wideout runs the risk of having his ban increased. The NFL is still investigating Britney Taylor’s sexual assault allegation, and Brown’s civil trial in this case is upcoming.

A Brown signing would carry risk, obviously. Since reeling off one of the greatest stretches in wide receiver history, Brown torpedoed his career with a months-long volatility spree. The Steelers traded him after he essentially no-showed their Week 17 game in 2018, and Brown clashed with the Raiders quickly and did not play a game for the team. The Patriots used him in Week 2 of last season, but after text messages from Brown threatening a separate sexual misconduct accuser emerged, New England became the third team to move on from him in 2019. He then spent 13 months in free agency, a time during which he was arrested in connection of an assault on a delivery driver.

This deal being now heavily reported is interesting; the Seahawks were the team most closely connected to Brown this year. Russell Wilson has stumped for the wideout both in 2019 and this year and worked out with him this offseason. He was still lobbying for Brown at the 11th hour, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Brown spoke with Wilson and Geno Smith about an agreement this season.

Both the Bucs and Seahawks already have strong aerial cadres, but Brown’s brief New England stay with Brady may be enough to give the Bucs the edge. Both Evans and Godwin have battled injuries this season, and Gronkowski is one of the NFL’s most injury-prone players. Brown would also provide insurance — as strange as that sounds — against more Bucs skill-position injuries.

Should Brown sign with Tampa Bay, the team will have the 2010s’ top two touchdown scorers. Gronkowski edged his 2010 draft classmate 78-75 here, and the 2019 season barely factored into these totals. It would be fascinating to see these two team up after not playing (excepting Brown’s four-catch, 56-yard Patriots game) last season. Brady has been inconsistent this season, ranking 19th in QBR. The Bucs having Brown for eight games would certainly help their Super Bowl cause, considering their defense leads the league in DVOA.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Jets, Jones

The Patriots may have the top bargain at the quarterback position this season, with Cam Newton making league-minimum money (plus incentives) on his one-year deal. This reality would not be unfolding had Tom Brady come to terms with the Patriots on an extension ahead of the 2019 season. Prior to the Pats and Brady agreeing on an in-name-only extension that allowed him to become a free agent in 2020, the team made its legendary passer a two-year, $53MM extension offer, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The number here is notable, considering it would have represented a raise for Brady on a through-2021 commitment. While Brady was seeking an extension similar to the one Drew Brees had signed with the Saints in 2018, he almost certainly landed a better deal — two years, $50MM fully guaranteed — with the Buccaneers this March.

Although the Pats were prepared to consider Brady counteroffers in February and March of this year, Howe adds Brady’s camp did not make one. A previous report indicated, however, the Patriots did not make a strong effort to re-sign Brady this year — a strategy that rubbed the free agent passer the wrong way.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Following his 397-yard passing performance against the Seahawks, Newton has firmly re-established himself as an extension candidate. Given his injury history, however, the Patriots would probably like to see if their new QB1 can hold up for a full season or at least for most of it before beginning contract talks. Newton said during a recent radio interview an extension is “literally the last of my worries,” per WEEI.com’s Ryan Hannable. The 31-year-old quarterback also indicated he did not want to become mired in a back-and-forth negotiation with the Pats when he signed in June, leading to his incentive-laden deal. Were Newton to stay healthy this season, however, a negotiation would seemingly commence and end with the former MVP signed to a deal more lucrative than his 2015 Panthers extension.
  • The Dolphins will be without Byron Jones against the Jaguars. Miami ruled out its high-priced free agent acquisition, who landed on the injury report with Achilles and groin issues. Jones left the Dolphins’ Week 2 game against the Bills in the first quarter. This will only be his second missed game since arriving in the NFL in 2015.
  • More wideout injury trouble for the Jets. They will be without Breshad Perriman for a game or two with an ankle ailment, Adam Gase said this week. Gang Green is already down Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims. Crowder is not certain to return in Week 3, and Mims must reside on IR through Week 4.
  • Le’Veon Bell dropped a considerable amount of weight this offseason, coming into this season at 210 pounds. With a CBS broadcast indicating Bell lost 24 pounds, this would have placed the former All-Pro at 234 last year — above his listed playing weight. Bell’s conditioning was a concern within the organization, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Bell is currently on IR and almost certainly in his final season as a Jet.
  • The Patriots have asked second-round rookie Josh Uche to morph from college pass rusher to all-around linebacker, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Perhaps this developmental role resulted in Uche being a healthy scratch in Week 1, with the Pats having third-round linebacker Anfernee Jennings active over him. Uche has yet to play this season; he was inactive because of an ankle injury in Week 2. The ex-Michigan Wolverine, however, is off the Pats’ injury report ahead of their Week 3 game against the Raiders.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Forbath, Saints

Currently in the Buccaneers‘ concussion protocol, Chris Godwin may miss their Week 2 game against the Panthers. But the 2019 breakout wide receiver still looms as a candidate to sign a lucrative extension. The fourth-year wideout is willing to be patient ahead of his next contract, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com noting (Insider link) the former third-round pick is willing to negotiate with the Bucs through the franchise tag or ahead of free agency. In April, Jason Licht said the team wants Godwin around for the long haul.

The Bucs already authorized a $16.5MM-per-year deal for Mike Evans — one of just two players ever to start a career with six straight 1,000-yard seasons (along with Randy Moss) — and the receiver market has ballooned since. A Godwin deal could come in north of $20MM annually, which would put Evans in a bit of a strange spot. With Godwin and Evans a big part of Tom Brady‘s two-year Tampa Bay commitment, the younger of the two Pro Bowl Bucs wideouts stands in good position as his contract season begins.

Here is the latest from Tampa and other NFC South cities:

  • Lavonte David began negotiating with the Bucs on another extension nearly three weeks ago. The sides have not made much progress, but Fowler notes David wants to retire as a Buccaneer. The 2012 second-round pick signed a five-year, $50.25MM deal in 2015. David joins Godwin as a contract-year Buccaneer, so the team will need to address one of these deals before free agency — in order to keep the franchise tag free for the other. David, 30, led all linebackers with 724 solo tackles during the 2010s and can conceivably push for a deal in the Bobby Wagner neighborhood ($18MM AAV).
  • Godwin and Evans represent a key reason why Leonard Fournette opted for a Tampa stay. The former Jaguars running back said the weapons the Bucs possess played a role in him agreeing to head to south Florida, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. As the centerpiece of the Jaguars’ offense for a while, Fournette faced stacked boxes on 39% of his carries from 2017-19, Palmer notes. Fournette received six touches in his Bucs debut but figures to become a bigger part of the offense in the games to come.
  • In addition to trading for Rob Gronkowski, the Bucs made another move to accommodate their new quarterback. They have given Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero, an office at their facility, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. The Patriots did this at one point too but removed the TB12 co-architect’s office later. Guerrero is working with Brady, Gronk and several other Bucs, per La Canfora, who adds that some believe the Pats souring on Guerrero helped lead Brady out of New England.
  • The Panthers worked out Kai Forbath on Thursday. Second-year kicker Joey Slye, whom the team went with over former Pro Bowler Graham Gano, made all three of his field goal tries in Week 1 but missed a PAT. Slye missed four extra points last season. Carolina does not have a kicker on its practice squad.
  • Panthers rookie UDFA Sam Franklin has moved from linebacker to safety, according to defensive coordinator Phil Snow (via The Athletic’s Joe Person, on Twitter). Franklin’s primary role still figures to be special teams this season. He played 18 special teams snaps against the Raiders compared to just two on defense.
  • The Saints worked out defensive lineman Anthony Zettel on Thursday. The journeyman D-lineman signed a one-year Vikings deal earlier this year but did not stick on their roster.

Bears Were “In The Running” For Tom Brady

It seems like just yesterday that the Tom Brady free agency rumors were dominating the NFL news cycle. And while Brady will be making his much-anticipated debut for the Buccaneers this afternoon, perhaps he instead could have been suiting up for the Bears in their Week 1 matchup against the Lions.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Bears — who took a look at every QB available on the market before swinging a trade for Nick Foles — made an offer to Brady. It’s unclear what that offer looked like, but Rapoport says Chicago was indeed in the running, though Brady was not particularly keen on signing with a cold-weather club.

Ultimately, the Florida sunshine and Tampa’s loaded receiving corps helped lure Brady to the Bucs. The Bears, despite the trade for Foles and the reworked contract they gave him, have elected to kick off the regular season with embattled signal-caller Mitch Trubisky under center.

Rapoport — along with Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington of ESPN.com — adds that there was mutual interest between Brady and the Saints when it was unclear if Drew Brees was going to retire or not. We already wrote about the New Orleans-Brady connection back in June, so this is not exactly news.

Interestingly, though, Jeff Duncan of The Athletic says that the Saints were Brady’s preferred landing spot if Brees had elected to head to the broadcasting booth in 2020 (Twitter link). Duncan adds that Brees was closer to retirement than many realize, so instead of seeing the two 40-something QBs battle each other today, we might have seen Brady in black-and-gold taking on Brees’ new backup and former Tampa starter Jameis Winston.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mutual Interest Existed Between Saints, Tom Brady?

An interesting what-if during an offseason featuring the highest-profile quarterback movement since free agency opened 27 years ago: Tom Brady was interested in the Saints this year. The Saints were also interested, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (on Twitter).

However, both sides’ curiosity hinged on Drew Brees heading into retirement, which he did not. The Saints re-upped their all-time great for the same figures — two years, $50MM — Brady eventually received from the Buccaneers. However, Brees’ deal includes only $25MM fully guaranteed; the Bucs guaranteed Brady all $50MM.

New Orleans’ Brees transaction occurred hours before Brady’s Bucs commitment, but the former had already declared he would return for a 20th season. And Brees said earlier in the offseason he would play for the Saints or no one.

Brady’s interest level in the Saints was believed to be “very serious,” per La Canfora. This adds a layer to a complex Saints QB offseason, one that saw them re-sign Brees, replace Teddy Bridgewater with Jameis Winston and extend gadget player/possible Brees successor Taysom Hill. Brady would have been surrounded by weapons in New Orleans, but he now has an enviable arrangement in Tampa.

This isn’t necessarily surprising. Brady was connected to a number of teams this offseason, before his sweepstakes narrowed to the Bucs and Chargers. The Bay Area native was believed to be interested in joining the 49ers, who investigated the possibility. Brees’ return cut off anything notable between Brady and the Saints.

Brees, 41, and Brady, 43 in August, will instead face off twice this season in what promise to be two of the highest-profile divisional QB matchups in NFL history. Despite playing in 10 fewer games (285-275), Brees has a 3,000-plus-yard edge on his new rival and is six TD passes up on the ex-Patriot legend (547-541). Brady, of course, has a 6-1 Super Bowl edge here. The Bucs and Saints are scheduled to play in Weeks 1 and 9.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Notes: Brady, TEs, OL, Free Agency

Tom Brady‘s transition to a new team in advance of his 21st NFL season has obviously been less than ideal, with the COVID-19 pandemic preventing the future Hall of Famer from working with teammates and coaches at the Buccaneers‘ facility. The first time the soon-to-be 43-year-old quarterback is expected to be permitted to enter his new team’s facilities will be training camp. But the Bucs do not plan to compensate for this by giving Brady more preseason work. Bruce Arians said Thursday he doubts Brady will need more preseason time to make up for the virtual offseason, per Greg Auman of The Athletic (on Twitter). Still, Brady’s preseason snaps figure to be more important than usual this year.

Here is the latest out of Tampa:

  • Arians has not gotten much out of the tight end position during his stay as head coach in Arizona and Tampa. That should soon change. The Bucs currently house an all-time tight end stable, with Rob Gronkowski joining the team’s O.J. HowardCameron Brate duo already regarded as one of the NFL’s best. Arians said the Bucs will use a two-tight end offense as their base this season (via Auman, on Twitter). Going with more “12 personnel” looks would give Howard and Brate more time on the field and potentially represent an effort to conserve Gronkowski, who retired partially because of injury issues last year. This also points to the Bucs giving stronger consideration to keeping all three tight ends rather than trading Howard or Brate. Arians even said he’s interested in three-tight end looks.
  • Tampa Bay is not expected to make a move to add interior offensive linemen to back up starters Ali Marpet, Alex Cappa and Ryan Jensen, Arians added (via Auman, on Twitter). The Bucs did not draft any guards or centers, but Arians likes what he has seen from backups Aaron Stinnie, Anthony Fabiano and Zack Bailey. A fifth-year blocker, Fabiano is now on his eighth team. Stinnie was a 2018 Titans UDFA; Bailey was a Bucs 2019 UDFA who spent much of last year on IR.
  • However, the Bucs are keeping multiple roster spots open for possible veteran additions. Arians said (via Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com, on Twitter) he and GM Jason Licht discussed saving room for veterans who would be more prepared to play than rookie UDFAs. With Brady on a two-year deal, Tampa Bay stockpiling vets would make sense.

AFC Notes: Ravens, Patriots, Rivers

After the Ravens added Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Mark Ingram believes his team officially has the best running game in the league.

“I like his mindset, I like his attitude, I like the way he run the ball. Just bring him and his talents to our room that’s already special; our backfield is gonna be the best in the league for sure,” Ingram told NFL Network’s Colleen Wolfe (via NFL.com’s Grant Gordon). “We’re all looking forward to it, being playmakers for the team and help us win the championship.”

Last season, Ingram and quarterback Lamar Jackson became just the second RB-QB duo to top 1,000 rushing yards in the same season (Warrick Dunn and Michael Vick did it with the Falcons in 2006). Gus Edwards also had a productive season in Baltimore, running for 711 yards and two scores. Even Justice Hill found the end zone twice as a rookie.

While the backfield may be a bit crowded, it doesn’t sound like Ingram is too concerned about carries. Rather, the veteran is focused on winning a championship, and he passed that mindset on to his rookie teammate.

“He reached out to me,” Ingram said. “Right after he got drafted, just shot me his number, said he was looking forward to getting to work. I told him let’s go get a ring.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC…

  • Sticking with Baltimore, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta told season ticket holders that the team doesn’t have a whole lot of salary cap flexibility (via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec on Twitter). DeCosta noted that if the front office did open up space, they’d likely pursue a pass rusher/linebacker or a veteran offensive lineman.
  • Reports yesterday indicated that Tom Brady‘s “deteriorating relationship” with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was a big reason why the quarterback left New England. However, Brady vehemently denied those rumors via Instagram, asking reporters to “[p]lease be more responsible with reporting” (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). McDaniels and Brady had been paired together for more than a decade, winning six Super Bowls along the way.
  • In 2019, Philip Rivers was playing behind a Chargers offensive line that ranked 29th in effectiveness, per Pro Football Focus. In Indy, he’ll be playing behind an offensive line that was ranked third by the same metric, and that’s a big reason why the veteran decided to join the Colts. “The big part of Philip being here is Anthony CastonzoQuenton Nelson,” said offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni (via NFL.com’s Nick Shook). Ryan KellyBraden SmithMark Glowinski. Those guys are studs…That’s something that he just kept mentioning after we signed him of how valuable those guys were to him.”