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Bengals RB Mark Walton Arrested

Mark Walton‘s offseason has gotten off to a poor start. The Bengals running back was reportedly arrested in Miami last night (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com).

It’s uncertain whether Walton was arrested on Friday night or early Saturday morning. Either way, the running back is reportedly facing a battery charge. David Ovalle of the The Miami Herald tweets that the Walton was taken into custody and has already posted bond.

Following a standout career at Miami, the Bengals selected Walton in the fourth round of the 2018 draft. The 21-year-old was slotted behind Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard during his rookie campaign, running for 34 yards on 14 carries in 14 games. He also added another five receptions for 41 yards, and he compiled five tackles on special teams.

Walton could face punishment from the NFL, putting at least the start of his 2019 campaign in doubt. The Bengals have all of their 2018 running backs under contract for next season, including undrafted rookie Quinton Flowers.

Staff Notes: Chiefs, 49ers, Falcons, Bears

The Chiefs will, in fact, be poaching an SEC defensive coordinator. Kentucky will let Matt House leave the school to take a job with the Chiefs, per Brooke Pryor of the Kansas City Star. This comes after a report indicated House would not be permitted to get out of his Kentucky contract to join Steve Spagnuolo‘s defensive staff. But the Chiefs will pay House’s $150K buyout in order for him to become their new linebackers coach. House previously worked with Spagnuolo, serving as an assistant linebackers coach with the Rams. Both of the Chiefs’ previous linebacker staffers — Mike Smith and Mark DeLeone — are now coaching in the NFC North. While Kentucky just lost its defensive boss, both Florida and Texas A&M’s DCs have been linked to the Bengals’ job.

Here is the coaching carousel’s latest:

  • An NHL assistant will make a move to the 49ers‘ staff. They are hiring Philadelphia Flyers sports science director Ben Peterson to oversee their medical and training staffs, Matt Barrows of The Athletic reports (subscription required). This is a new position Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch conjured up, with Barrows noting the rash of injuries the 49ers endured the past two seasons prompted the unorthodox move. While Peterson’s position has not been announced, his primary role is to ensure better cohesion exists between the 49ers’ medical and training staffs, Barrows adds. The 49ers have been using sports science since the Chip Kelly regime, and Peterson’s arrival will surely increase the franchise’s investment in this area.
  • The Falcons will move one of their scouts to their coaching staff. After serving as a pro scout last year, Bob Kronenberg will become the team’s assistant offensive line coach, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A former offensive lineman at the pro level, Kronenberg has been with the Falcons for eight years.
  • Former NFL wide receiver Chris Jackson will join Matt Nagy‘s Bears staff as a defensive assistant, the team announced. Jackson initially caught on with the Bears during 2018 training camp via the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship. He spent last season as a high school assistant in Peoria, Ariz.
  • More new Cardinals assistants are emerging. The team announced Rusty McKinney will join Kliff Kingsbury‘s staff as a defensive assistant. Like Charlie Bullen, McKinney spent the past three seasons on Adam Gase‘s Dolphins staffs. The former defensive quality control coach worked with new Cardinals DC Vance Joseph in 2016.

Extra Points: Rams, Singleton, Pats

There is a definite post-Super Bowl lull in the NFL world right now, and while we will soon be talking about free agent rumors and the April draft in earnest, today is not that day. But there is still professional football to watch if you’re interested, and there are a few NFL items of note to discuss, so let’s get to them:

  • Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic examines how the Rams might address some of their biggest needs this offseason. The club is projected to have about $41MM in salary cap space, and Bonsignore suggests that LA must find a dominant edge rusher to take some pressure off of Aaron Donald. Luckily, this year’s draft features quite a bit of pass rushing talent if the Rams choose to steer clear of the pricey free agent market for edge defenders.
  • Todd Gurley will obviously be back with the Rams, but given his history of knee problems, and the impact that his most recent knee injury had on the team’s playoff run, Bonsignore says LA will think long and hard about adding another back to share the load (we learned last week that the club is interested in bringing back C.J. Anderson). He also suggests that the Rams could bring back Ndamukong Suh on a two-year deal, and that Mark Barron could be a cap casualty.
  • The Bengals will hire Jemal Singleton as their running backs coach, per Jeremy Rauch of Fox 19 (via Twitter). Singleton previously served in the same capacity with the Colts from 2016-17 and with the Raiders in 2018.
  • Jenna Laine of ESPN.com examines a few free agents that the Buccaneers might consider, a list that includes safety Tyrann Mathieu — who of course has a history with new head coach Bruce Arians — and kicker Matt Bryant.
  • After the recent exodus of coaching talent, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com names a few Patriots coaching assistants who could be elevated to position-coach roles. Cole Popovich, Mike Pellegrino, DeMarcus Covington, and Brian Belichick could all be promoted in short order.
  • Pro Football Focus released its list of the top 10 players eligible for free agency in March and projected the contracts those players might land. Five of the top six players are edge rushers, including Jadeveon Clowney, the top player on the list, whom PFF expects to land a six-year, $135MM deal with $85MM in guarantees. Clowney, of course, is expected to be hit with the franchise tag, so if he gets a contract of that size this year, it will likely come from the Texans.

NFL, NFLPA May Begin Labor Discussions In 2019

The NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2021, but labor negotiations between the league’s owners and the players’ union may begin within the next sixth months, sources tell Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com.

NFLPA president Eric Winston discussed the possibility of a work stoppage earlier this week, preparing players for a worst-case scenario (a lockout such as the one that occurred in 2011). Winston, of course, is protecting the players that rely on his counsel, but a “core group” on both the owner and player side of discussions are optimistic that talks will begin early.

Per Mortensen, the union will focus on expanding the players’ share of revenues. Currently, the CBA mandates that players average at least 47% of revenues over the life of the 10-year contract. An NFLPA spokesperson recently indicated that while the players’ share typically fluctuates between 47% and 48.5%, it’s currently at the higher end of that range. The NFLPA will also seek to expand player benefits, per Mortensen.

NFL owners, meanwhile, intend to push for a deal that will include the ability to work out new television contracts. Owners will also attempt to get more stadium credits, a concept with was detailed by Niners Nation when the new CBA was signed in 2011.

Poll: Which 2019 HOF Finalist Should Make It In 2020?

On Saturday, the 2019 Hall of Fame class was announced and Tony Gonzalez, Ty Law, Ed Reed, Champ Bailey, Kevin Mawae, Gil Brandt, Pat Bowlen and Johnny Robinson all found out they would be enshrined in August.

While eight inductees is certainly a full class, several other players, coaches and contributors were left just short of receiving their spot in Canton. Those individuals are likely to have a good shot at crossing the threshold in 2020, as only Troy Polamalu is likely to enter from the new class of eligible players on his first ballot. Others first-timers who could hear their names called include 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis and Colts receiver Reggie Wayne.

Of the 2019 snubs, who is the most deserving?

Steve Atwater – Made the Pro Bowl in eight of his ten seasons with the Broncos and earned two First Team All-Pro honors. His hard-hitting play at free safety helped Denver advance to three Super Bowls and win titles in his last two seasons with the team. He reportedly gained a lot of steam in the discussion room this season, so he will enter 2020 as a favorite to receive the honor. He will be on the ballot for the third time in 2020.

Tony Boselli – Among players who were not enshrined, Boselli seemed to be the name that generated the most buzz in 2019. According to NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco, the Jaguars’ left tackle’s case was argued for 26 minutes and 10 seconds, the second-longest of any player up for discussion behind Law (27:16). Though he only played seven seasons, Boselli was arguably the league’s best offensive lineman, earning five Pro Bowl nods and three First Team All-Pro selections. Terrell Davis earning induction in 2017 undoubtedly helps his case a short-career hopeful. He will be on the ballot for the fourth time in 2020.

Isaac Bruce – When Bruce called it quits following the 2009 season, only one player in NFL history had tallied more receiving yards — Jerry Rice. Though he has since been passed by Terrell Owens, Larry Fitzgerald and Tony Gonzalez, the Rams wide receiver produced eight 1,000-yard campaigns, earned four Pro Bowl selections and was a central figure in St. Louis’ “Greatest Show on Turf” offense. No first-team All-Pro selections certainly doesn’t help, but his accumulation of stats could put him over the top in 2020, his fourth year on the ballot.

Don Coryell – If you like the passing revolution in the NFL, then you probably think Coryell should be in Canton. An offensive innovator, the Chargers coach’s “Air Coryell” offense led the league in passing yards in seven of his nine seasons and ranked second in 1984. In his tenure with the Chargers, Coryell amassed a 72-60 record, won three division titles and appeared in a pair of AFC Championship games. Unfortunately, he was never able to get over the hump into the Super Bowl. Still, his offensive innovations paved the way for today’s NFL. He will be on the ballot for the sixth time in 2020.

Alan Faneca – A brick wall at left guard for Pittsburgh from 1998-2007, Faneca earned a Pro Bowl selection in every year of the 2000s and was named a First Team All-Pro an astounding six times. He was also a central figure on a tough Steelers squad that claimed a Super Bowl title during the 2005 season. Though he will be on his fifth ballot in 2020, Faneca is a safe bet for enshrinement in the coming years thanks to his All-Decade Team selection.

Tom Flores – A trailblazer on the field and on the sidelines, Flores was the first hispanic quarterback in league history and later became the first hispanic head coach. Apart from that, Flores is also one of 13 coaches to win multiple Super Bowls, after leading the Raiders to titles in Super Bowl XV and XVIII. A coach for 12 years, Flores spent his first nine with the Raiders and compiled an impressive 83-53 mark. He would be a finalist for the second time in 2020.

Steve Hutchinson – Between Seattle and Minnesota, Hutchinson paved the way for two of the most dominant running backs of the last two decades in Shaun Alexander and Adrian Peterson. The guard was rewarded for his efforts in those rushing attacks, earning seven consecutive Pro Bowl selections and claiming five First Team All-Pro honors. It is thought that he and Faneca split votes due to playing the same position. With a more open field in 2020, Hutchinson could receive the good news on his third year on the ballot.

Edgerrin James – One of four players in NFL history with 1,500 rushing yards in four different seasons, along with Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson and Barry Sanders, James was one of the most dominant and versatile backs of the 2000s. A four-time Pro Bowl selection and one-time First Team All-Pro, James helped form one of the most unstoppable offenses of the decade in Indianapolis with Peyton Manning. His accolades don’t look as sterling due to a stable of stellar backs in the decade, but James unquestionably has the statistical pedigree of a Canton inductee. He will be on his fourth ballot in 2020.

John Lynch – A third-round selection in 1993, Lynch helped turn Tampa Bay from a league laughing stock to one of the best defenses in history during his tenure with the Bucs. A star in the team’s signature Tampa-2 defense, Lynch earned five Pro Bowl selections with the Buccaneers before joining the Broncos in 2004 and earning another four selections before retiring in 2007. The hard-hitting safety will be on the ballot for his seventh time in 2020.

Richard Seymour – The only defensive lineman on the ballot in 2019, Seymour couldn’t muster enough support to enter the hall in his backyard of Atlanta. He will be in the running for 2020, however, thanks to his seven Pro Bowl selections, three First Team All-Pro honors and three Super Bowl titles with the Patriots. An instrumental figure in New England’s run of three titles in four seasons, Seymour could receive votes as a tribute to the team’s dynasty. Even without those votes, Seymour was one of the most versatile defensive ends of his era and could receive the necessary support in 2020, his second year as a finalist.

So who do you think is most deserving from the 2019 finalists to enter the Hall of Fame in 2020? Vote and then back up your case in the comments.

Cam Newton Expected To Be Ready For Training Camp

New Panthers owner David Tepper sparked panic among the team’s fanbase when he compared Cam Newton‘s shoulder situation to Andrew Luck‘s, and seemed to hint that Newton could miss the entire 2019 season. Less than a week later, it was announced that Newton underwent another shoulder surgery.

That only increased the uncertainty surrounding his status, but Panthers fans got some good news today. Newton is recovering well, and the Panthers’ coaching staff is “optimistic that Newton will fully rehabilitated by training camp”, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. Rodrigue had head coach Ron Rivera speaking on the record, and he sounded fairly confident that Newton isn’t in any danger of missing any regular season time.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network followed up with a tweet pointing out that the “surgery was not to his rotator cuff like last year’s was”, so it wasn’t necessarily an aggravation of the previous injury. In Rodrigue’s piece, which is worth a read, Rivera details how Newton was dealing with crippling pain the second half of the season that significantly limited his range of motion in his arm and hurt his accuracy.

It doesn’t sound like a Luck situation is going to play out, and while Rodrigue notes that the team plans to take it easy with Newton this spring, we should see him at close to full speed this summer. Rivera said Newton has already shown “marked improvement” and that “he has gotten a lot of range of motion back.” The Panthers started the year 6-2, but everything went downhill when Newton popped up on the injury report with his shoulder issue. The team went 1-7 the rest of the way, and Newton was shut down for the final two games of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Teams Wanted Redskins’ Kevin O’Connell

Kevin O’Connell is the Redskins’ new offensive coordinator, but things could have played out differently. Before Washington promoted him to the OC role, other teams inquired about trying to hire him for the same position, sources tell ESPN.com’s John Keim. Right now, it’s not clear which teams reached out to O’Connell, but it sounds like there was interest from multiple clubs.

O’Connell, 33, was bumped up on Tuesday, putting him in the role formerly occupied by Matt Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh, meanwhile, has been moved to a role as the team’s senior offensive assistant.

Prior to the big promotion, O’Connell was Washington’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator in 2018. He’s young, but, lately, NFL teams have been happy to eschew experienced candidates for more energetic personalities.

Meanwhile, the Redskins have yet to determine whether O’Connell will call plays, Keim hears. Cavanaugh did not call plays as the team’s OC, but Sean McVay did when he donned the headset in D.C.

Following Specific NFL Players On PFR

As we’ve outlined before, there are a number of different ways to follow Pro Football Rumors via Facebook, Twitter, and RSS. If you don’t want to follow all the site’s updates, you can subscribe to team-specific or transaction-only Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds. Although we don’t have Facebook pages or Twitter feeds for specific players, it’s easy to follow all our updates on your favorite player as well.

If, for instance, you want to keep track of all the latest news and rumors on Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell as he prepares for free agency, you can visit this page. If you’re interested in keeping tabs on the latest news involving Alex Smith, you can find his page right here.

In addition to dedicating pages to players, we also maintain archives for certain specific non-NFL topics. For example, all our posts relating to the XFL can be found here, while our updates on the Alliance of American Football (AAF) are here.

Every player we’ve written about has his own rumors page, and each of those players also has his own RSS feed, making it even easier to follow the latest updates. Links to RSS feeds for specific players are all located on this page. You can also find links to RSS feeds for various miscellaneous categories there. For instance, if you only want to receive one update every Sunday recapping the week’s notable headlines, you can subscribe to our Week in Review RSS feed, right here.

Coaching Notes: Kubiak, Jaguars, 49ers, Packers

Gary Kubiak will not be joining the Broncos, but he’d still be open to other coordinator openings. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the long-time coach “still has an interest in being an offensive coordinator.” Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic echoes the report (via Twitter), saying the Broncos wouldn’t stand in the way of the current executive pursuing another gig.

One team that could have interest in Kubiak is the Jaguars, according to Schefter. Jacksonville has been connected to Darrell Bevell and Todd Monken as they’ve searched for a replacement for Scott Milanovich.

It was believed that Kubiak would be hired as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator on Vic Fangio‘s new staff. However, talks apparently broke down between the two parties, with reports noting that they had “different ideas on staffing and offensive philosophies.”

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

  • Speaking of the Broncos, offensive line coach Sean Kugler interviewed with the Vikings and is set to meet with the Cardinals, reports Mike Klis of 9News (via Twitter). Klis notes that there’s some optimism that he’d ultimately be hired for the Cardinals gig. Kugler’s tenure in Denver could be over, as the team is reportedly eyeing Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak for the position.
  • The 49ers denied the Packers and head Matt LaFleur permission to interview his brother, wide receivers coach Mike LaFleur, according to Schefter (on Twitter). San Francisco also denied the Browns and Vikings requests to interview the younger LaFleur.
  • The Browns are set to interview Packers run game coordinator/offensive line coach James Campen today, reports ESPN’s Rob Demovsky (via Twitter). Green Bay’s longest-tenured assistant coach has been with the organization since 2007, and he was promoted to position of run-game coordinator prior to this season. Campen is under contract for next season, so it’s a bit surprising that Green Bay didn’t deny the Browns’ request to interview the coach.
  • Some assorted coaching hirings and firings: running backs coach Stump Mitchell is returning to the Cardinals (via Alex Marvez of SiriusXM on Twitter), the Packers have fired passing game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. (via Schefter on Twitter), and the Buccaneers have hired University of Arizona offensive line coach Joe Gilbert for the same position (via TampaBay.com’s Rick Stroud on Twitter).

Latest On Antonio Brown, Steelers

On Friday, Antonio Brown, through his rep, declined to comment on prospective trade talks. However, the receiver is reportedly open to either being traded or returning to the Steelers in 2019, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweets

According to Fowler, the perennial Pro Bowl pick is “open/eager” to prove he can thrive in any offense, but is fine with returning to Pittsburgh “if things shake out that way.” This comes a day after Steelers president Art Rooney II said it would be “hard to envision” Brown with the team next season.

This has all spiraled out of control fast since Brown’s blowup leading up to Week 17, which led head coach Mike Tomlin to bench him for a pivotal game against Cincinnati. Shortly thereafter, it was reported the star receiver was requesting a trade.

Thanks to the $19MM signing bonus he received in his four-year, $68MM extension and the $12.96MM restructuring bonus he later secured, cutting or trading Brown would result in a $21.12MM cap charge in 2019.

While it could be difficult to deal the wideout financially, the Steelers seem willing to explore trading Brown. Despite the hefty price tag, Brown is sure to find suitors looking to get its hands on the most consistent receiver from the last five years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.