Jets’ Robby Anderson Receives Probation

Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson pled no contest to charges of reckless driving this week, attorney Ed O’Donnell tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). As a result, he’ll get six months of “non-reporting” probation. With that, all of the charges from Anderson’s two arrests have been addressed. 

This particular arrest was for Anderson’s speeding incident, in which he was pulled over for driving 105 mph in a 45 mph zone. The 25-year-old was hit with nine charges in total after he threatened to sexually assault the wife of the arresting officer. The majority of those charges were dropped, which was good news for Anderson since three of the nine charges were felonies.

This incident is not to be confused with the one at a Miami music festival in which Anderson was said to have resisted arrest with violence after getting into a fight. Last month, Florida prosecutors dropped the felony charges associated with that incident.

Legally speaking, Anderson is pretty much in the clear. However, it’s possible that he will face league discipline after the NFL completes its investigation into both incidents.

Losing Anderson for any period of time would be tough for the Jets, but they do have some depth at the wide receiver position. Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor (if healthy), Quincy Enunwa, ArDarius Stewart, and Andre Roberts are among those who can pick up the slack if Anderson misses time.

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AFC Notes: Ravens, Jackson, Chargers, Sturgis, Patriots, Rowe

As soon as the Ravens took Lamar Jackson with the 32nd overall pick in this year’s draft, many assumed the Joe Flacco-era in Baltimore was coming to an end. Although Flacco has reportedly shown well in OTAs and minicamp thus far and Jackson doesn’t appear to be a threat for the starting job in 2018, the Ravens are still thrilled with their rookie. All the reports this offseason indicate the Ravens have been very impressed by Jackson’s development.

With Flacco still in line to take all the snaps at quarterback, the team is now looking for alternative ways to get Jackson on the field. Jackson will certainly be active on game days, and will be used in a variety of unique packages which feature him and Flacco at the same time, according to Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun. Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh sounded very excited about the prospect of having “two quarterbacks on the field at the same time.” The Ravens may use the packages as an opportunity to see how Jackson responds to being thrown into a real live NFL game. If he shows well, the team could decide to move on from Flacco after this season and still be alright financially despite Flacco’s hefty contract.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Chargers likely would’ve been a playoff team last year if not for their shaky kicking situation. As soon as the season ended, the team made aggressive moves to upgrade the position. They brought in former Buccaneers second round pick Roberto Aguayo and former Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis to compete for the job. Despite Aguayo being the more high profile player and his second round pedigree, it’s “Sturgis’ job to lose” according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Cornerback Eric Rowe isn’t a lock for the Patriots’ 53-man roster, opines Doug Kyed of NESN.com. Undrafted rookie J.C. Jackson has reportedly been running ahead of Rowe during OTAs and minicamp and despite Rowe being a fairly big name, Kyed says he “could see scenarios” where Rowe is on another roster come week 1.
  • In case you missed it, 2017 fifth-rounder Nathan Peterman may have a real shot at beating out A.J. McCarron and Josh Allen to be the Bills’ starting quarterback.

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NFC Notes: Vikings, Cardinals, Thomas

The Vikings roster is quickly getting expensive. As Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com points out, six players have salary-cap numbers that exceed $10MM for next season: quarterback Kirk Cousins, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive end Everson Griffen, offensive tackle Riley Reiff, and safety Harrison Smith. The team is also paying more than $8MM to defensive tackle defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Sheldon Richardson, and they still have to extend wideout Stefon Diggs and defensive end Danielle Hunter.

With money quickly running thin (the Vikings currently have $17MM in cap space, and Tomasson believes part of that will be used for extensions), general manager Rick Spielman acknowledged that it’s difficult managing the team’s budget.

“The hardest thing right now is the economic structure on our team where we have all these high-priced guys now because they all deserve to get paid the way they’ve been playing,’’ Spielman said. “But economically, we’re not going to go out there, you can’t play fantasy football and have $3 (million), $4 (million) or $5 million backup guys. Those are going to be the young guys that we’ve drafted or we’ve developed.’’

Of course, as he should, Spielman has an optimistic view of the cap crunch.

“It’s a good problem to have, but we have a very high-priced roster right now,’’ Spielman said. “And eventually some of those guys are going to get aged out, just like we had some of our other Pro Bowlers … and you have to replace them.”

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

This Date In Transactions History: Mark Sanchez

Nine years ago today, the Jets agreed to terms on the biggest rookie deal in the history of the franchise. They committed $50MM over five years with $28MM guaranteed to the quarterback they thought was going to be their signal caller for many years to come.

When the Jets traded up with the Browns to secure the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft and take Mark Sanchez, they thought they had found the franchise quarterback they had spent many years looking for. After just one season as the starter at USC, Sanchez declared early for the NFL draft. Sanchez’s deal with the Jets came during one of the last years where rookie contracts were still negotiable before everything switched to pre-arranged slot values. The contract was reportedly worth up to $60MM with incentives and was a bit unusual in that it was only for five years instead of six, which was the norm at the time for top picks.

The Sanchez era was a tumultuous one in New York, full of ups and downs. He started right away as a rookie and would go on to start all but two games for the Jets over the next four seasons. Despite mediocre to poor individual stats, the Jets made back-to-back AFC championship games in 2009 and 2010 with Sanchez under center. Sanchez enjoyed the best season of his career statistically in 2011, throwing for 3,474 yards and 26 touchdowns with 18 interceptions. Although the Jets missed the playoffs, the team rewarded Sanchez with a three year contract extension after the season.

After a down 2012 where Sanchez was at one point benched as he threw just 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, he would miss the entire 2013 season due to a shoulder injury. He wound up never playing another game for the Jets, as he was released after the 2013 season.

He did play out the entire five years of his rookie contract with the team, but Sanchez never played a year of the extension he signed after the 2011 season despite the Jets giving him an additional $20.5MM guaranteed. Sanchez has bounced around the league since his release, spending time with the Eagles, Broncos, and Bears. Although his tenure didn’t go as well as many hoped and expected, Sanchez was still the face of the franchise for almost five years, and June 10th will always be a significant date in Jets history.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Earl Thomas Will Continue Holdout, Not Report To Mandatory Minicamp

Earl Thomas has been absent from the voluntary portions of the Seahawks’ offseason program, something not too uncommon for a player of his caliber. Most reporters covering the team have expected Thomas to show up when mandatory minicamp arrived with the potential for fines if Thomas continued to stay away.

But now Thomas has made it clear he will not be reporting until his contract demands are satisfied, announcing the news himself (Twitter link). In the post, Thomas says he will “not be attending the upcoming mini camp or any team activities until my contract situation is resolved.” The team can fine Thomas up to $84,435 if he misses all three days of the minicamp.

There were rumblings this offseason that the Seahawks may look to trade Thomas, with Thomas’ hometown Cowboys a popular rumored destination, but coach Pete Carroll appeared to put that talk to rest in April when he indicated the team was planning on having Thomas for the 2018 season. General manager John Schneider admitted at the time that the team considered trading Thomas, but said that “nothing was remotely close to happening.”

Today’s post by Thomas is sure to revive those trade rumors. Thomas is a Texas-native and it’s long been rumored that he’d like to play in Dallas. Thomas has played for the Seahawks since being taken by them in the first round back in 2010. He’s a five-time All-Pro and one of the best safeties in the league, but the team appears to have some concerns about his age and his health.

Reacting to the news from Thomas, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times says that the issue isn’t whether the Seahawks have the salary cap space to give Thomas what he wants, but rather “it’s whether they want to give him that kind of a long-term contract at age 30 and beyond. That’s the issue.” (Twitter link). Thomas will turn 30 in May of next year.

Thomas did say in his statement that he wants to “remain a Seahawk” for the rest of his career, but that he feels he’s “earned the right to have this taken care of as soon as possible.” Thomas is currently set to be a free agent at the end of this season. Whatever happens next, it’ll be a situation worth monitoring this summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Brady, Gates, Peterson, Titans

In a recent opinion piece, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe makes the case that Tom Brady didn’t hold up his end of the bargain in trying to quell concerns about drama within the Patriots organization. Volin argues that coach Bill Belichick and Rob Gronkowski both did their best to assure the media and the public that all was good in New England, but that Brady raised more questions than he answered during his brief media availability.

Volin writes that the Patriots’ goal when Gronkowski and Brady finally returned to the team was to “show a united front, and squash all of the drama”, but that Brady failed to do so. According to Volin, Belichick did a “superb job” and Gronkowski did a “great job of explaining himself too”, but that Brady seemed like “he wants the drama to linger, to let it be known that he’s still upset with Belichick and the organization.”

Whatever is going on with the Patriots, it seems to be a saga with no end in sight. The issues likely won’t be put to rest for good until the team take the field in 2018 and shows they can still play at a championship level even with all the off-field distractions.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Antonio Gates isn’t a realistic candidate to be signed by the Bills, according to Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News. Despite the Bills being a bit thin at tight end behind Charles Clay, Skurski thinks the Bills would rather develop the young tight ends on their roster.
  • Adrian Peterson would like to play for the Texans, he told Mark Berman of Fox 26 (Twitter link). Peterson said “I would definitely love to be here in Houston. I think I can help them out tremendously..I still got it.” Peterson has repeatedly expressed his desire to continue playing, but hasn’t drawn much interest.
  • Rookie tight end Ethan Wolf is a “long shot” to make the Titans roster, according to Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com. Wyatt thinks he’ll end up on the outside looking in due to the Titans’ full tight end depth-chart, but that he’s a potential practice squad candidate.

Steelers Notes: Brown, Dobbs, Boswell, Bell

Antonio Brown missed eight out of 10 OTA practices held by the Steelers. While a star player missing OTAs certainly isn’t uncommon, it is for Brown. As laid out by Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, Brown is a “football junkie”and him missing OTAs is something that’s very out of character. Kaboly writes that he “couldn’t tell you the last time that he missed a training camp practice or a regular-season practice” and that “in Brown’s eight previous seasons he may have missed two total OTAs.”

Kaboly notes that even in past seasons where Brown was unhappy with his contract and demanding a new one, he still showed up for OTAs. So what’s responsible for Brown’s sudden prolonged absence from the voluntary portions of the Steelers’ offseason program?

It’s anyone’s guess, but it’s surely a distraction Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers’ coaching staff would rather not have.

Here’s more from Pittsburgh:

  • Kaboly thinks quarterback Josh Dobbs is a near certainty to not make the 53-man roster. Despite being taken in the fourth round last year, the Steelers appeared to throw in the towel on Dobbs by taking Mason Rudolph in the third round this year. Kaboly writes that Landry Jones is locked in as the backup quarterback and that “there is no impending camp battle” for the position. With Rudolph assured a spot as the number three, Dobbs is very likely to be cut as the Steelers “always keep only three quarterbacks” notes Kaboly.
  • Wide receiver Marcus Tucker has a “real shot” at making the team, according to Kaboly. Tucker has spent the last two seasons on the Steelers’ practice squad and “was one of the best receivers during OTAs” he writes.
  • During a recent Q & A with fans, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that he thinks the Steelers will extend kicker Chris Boswell this offseason, but not running back Le’Veon Bell. Both Boswell and Bell are set to be free agents after the year, but Bouchette thinks the Steelers will again play it year-to-year with Bell.