AROUND THE NFL
The NFL was abuzz on Monday with the tale that QB DAK PRESCOTT had been offered $30 million per year and told the Cowboys they were $10 million short of what he wanted. Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com is told his demands are not that extreme.
The Cowboys and Dak Prescott apparently aren’t close on a new deal, but how far apart they are remains a question.
The Cowboys have said they have made what they consider to be “solid” offers to Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper, which would rank them “at least in the top five” at their respective positions. That would mean more than $30 million per season for Prescott.
NFL Media reported Monday, though, that Prescott is seeking an annual average of $40 million per season.
A PFT source quickly shot down the report, saying it is false based on either new money or total value at signing.
Russell Wilson became the league’s highest-paid player in April when he signed a four-year extension with the Seahawks worth $140 million. It gave him a new-money average of $35 million per year.
Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz rank below Wilson in average annual salary. Matt Ryan‘s average of $30 million per season ranks him fifth.
A report in June said Prescott’s agent, Todd France, had broached the idea of $34 million a season. Prescott was drafted in the fourth round, so the final year of his rookie deal has him making only $2.025 million in 2019.
Both sides have expressed optimism at getting a deal done. At some point.
Whatever the number is, Prescott is expected to become the highest-paid player in team history but not the highest-paid player in NFL history.
Prescott is 32-16 as a starter in the regular season, with 10,876 passing yards, 67 touchdowns, 25 interceptions and a 96.0 passer rating, so he is vastly underpaid as it stands now.
The NFL Media source was a Tweet from Dallas-based reporter Jane Slater:
I can confirm reports that QB Dak Prescott has, in fact, turned down 30M a year offer and is instead seeking 40M a year per source informed. #Cowboys
In a subsequent tweet, Slater seemed to be operating on the same final landing spot as Charean Williams said was Prescott’s ask:
This is negotiating and business here. Number, if gets done, would likely be closer to 34-35M but as I reported earlier this summer don’t expect a “hometown discount”
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C TRAVIS FREDERICK is back. Todd Archer of ESPN.com:
As the national anthem played Saturday night, Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick took a moment to let his mind wander.
A year ago in the Cowboys’ preseason opener inside Levi’s Stadium, Frederick took his only 10 snaps of the 2018 season. His hands and feet were numb and he had no idea why. During this past Saturday’s preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, the effects of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune disease that tore through Frederick’s nervous system, were gone.
“There was some thought there, but again, my goal of the whole thing is to try to make it as normal as possible and get it back to normal,” Frederick said. “So for me, having a normal opportunity to go back out there, play that normal amount, nine plays, one series whatever it was, that was good. That was exactly what I wanted and needed emotionally, mentally and physically.”
Frederick had shoulder surgery and had a sports hernia repaired this offseason. That, more than the GBS, kept him off the field in the Cowboys’ 2019 organized team activities and minicamp.
When the Cowboys arrived in Oxnard, California, for training camp this summer, Frederick was eased into the work, staying out of one-on-one pass rush drills until last week.
“He looks great. He’s sharp,” Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin said. “Everyone knows how smart he is as a player, but physically he looks great.”
The nine snaps against the Niners was just a start.
“It’s sort of a reuniting feeling with the guys,” Frederick said. “When you’re injured or you’re out, you kind of get separated. That’s not on purpose, but it is just what it is. This was an opportunity to kind of rejoin that fraternity. And then personally just getting a chance to prove myself that I can do it, and that I can still play at a high level and be able to contribute this season. I think it was a good step for me.”
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The Cowboys love coaching prodigy Kellen Moore per Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com:
The Cowboys really, really believe they’ve found something in 30-year-old Kellen Moore, the team’s new offensive coordinator who’s in just his second year coaching. And Moore could have that same sort of element of surprise in his offense, which will incorporate the pro concepts he’s worked with as a player, and last year as a coach, and the college stuff he knows from having played for Chris Pederson at Boise State. The key, he maintains, is building it for the players in general, and Dak Prescott in particular.
“We’ve spent three-plus years together,” says Moore, a backup to Prescott in 2016 and ’17. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about a lot of different stuff. We’ve done a lot of good things, we may sprinkle in some stuff that maybe comes from the college world a little bit, embrace that a little more, and try some other things as well.”
The Redskins are not going to trade disgruntled T TRENT WILLIAMS. Or at least, that is their negotiating stance on August 13.
Bruce Allen continues to do Bruce Allen things.
With the relationship between Washington and left tackle Trent Williams fractured, the Washington team president continues to believe that the passage of time will somehow unfracture the relationship, resulting in Williams walking through the door, reporting for duty, and playing for the team.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Washington has told multiple teams that Williams will not be traded. Teams repeatedly have inquired, per Schefter, and teams repeatedly have been rebuffed.
Washington reportedly believes that training-camp fines in the amount of $40,000 per day will result in Williams eventually caving. But Williams isn’t flinching, either; with no intention to ever return to the team (and no game checks from which to withhold the fine amounts), he believes the team will have no way to recover the $40,000 per day.
Signed through 2020, the two remaining years of Williams’ contract will toll if he doesn’t report in time to get credit for 2019. Based on the Joey Galloway arbitration outcome from nearly 20 years ago, Williams needs to be on the 53-man roster for at least eight games to safely qualify.
Two years ago, Texans tackle Duane Brown showed up in time for 2017 contract-year credit, and he was dealt to Seattle before the trade deadline. Whether Williams follows that same path remains to be seen; however, the fact that Williams reportedly believes the team bungled the handling of the benign tumor on his head makes this situation different. Williams hasn’t wavered in his desire to never play for Washington again.
He’s due to make $10.85 million this year, and not playing would expose him to a bonus forfeiture of $1.62 million. And Washington presumably would go after it; when Allen was the G.M. of the Buccaneers, he traded for quarterback Jake Plummer. Plummer retired in lieu of playing for the Bucs, and Allen pursued recovery of signing bonus money that the Bucs hadn’t even paid to Plummer.
WR RISHARD MATTHEWS has retired before he was disposed of. Mike Triplett of ESPN.com:
Wide receiver Rishard Matthews announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday, two days after he was released by the New Orleans Saints with a “left team” designation.
In an Instagram post, Matthews wrote that he was fed up by feeling he was disposable as an NFL player and that although he will always be a football fan, he will not miss the “fakeness” or “brainwashing” that he endured in the league.
In a statement titled “No Longer Exist,” Matthews wrote:
“The game has given me and family so much but that No Longer Exist … Beating your body up over and over for groups of people to give out a small % of the earnings that they don’t even need for me No Longer Exist … The endless training & hours away from my family No Longer Exist …
“The brainwashing & dividing of culture for a small piece of jewelry No Longer Exist … Being around too much Ego to even understand that someone has the same skin as you No Longer Exist … People using me for Entertainment and not understanding that i Am a Black Man in America No Longer Exist
“As a receiver, people controlling your success No Longer Exist … Being around just pure fakeness No Longer Exist … The crowds cheering No Longer Exist … The Touchdowns, Big Catches Fun Times No Longer Exist … All the people that never talk to you then hit you up for tickets when they see you’re close to them thinking you get them for free & act crazy when you can’t get them for them No Longer Exist (lol)
“I am thankful to have become financially free but that income No Longer Exist (lol) … It was cool being a Professional Football Player and getting to play a kids game for work I will always be a fan of the best sport in the world but for me that Kids game No Longer Exist”
On Saturday, Saints coach Sean Payton confirmed that it was Matthews’ decision to leave the team, adding, “It’s not for everyone.”
Matthews, 29, joined the Saints in June after a minicamp tryout. But he was playing with the backup units throughout training camp. He caught one pass for 7 yards while playing 20 snaps in Friday night’s preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
Matthews was the Tennessee Titans’ top wide receiver in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, but he asked for his release last year because of a diminished role and wound up catching just five passes for 24 yards in a total of eight games with the Titans and New York Jets.
Matthews also requested a trade before his final season with the Miami Dolphins in 2015 while skipping voluntary workouts, but he stayed with the team for one more season.
The 6-foot, 217-pounder has 230 career catches for 3,160 yards and 21 touchdowns in seven years.
QB KYLER MURRAY scoffs at the idea he would hang out with teammate DE TERRELL SUGGS. Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:
Kyler Murray was 5 years old, going on 6, when the Ravens made Terrell Suggs the 10th overall choice in 2003.
So the Cardinals rookie quarterback had a predictable answer when asked what it was like to be around the first-year Cardinals linebacker, who is entering his 17th NFL season.
“He’s old enough to be my dad,” Murray said, chucking, via Darren Urban of the team website. “It’s not like we’re hanging out.”
Suggs turns 37 in October. Murray turned 22 last week.
Kevin Murray, Kyler’s father, is 55.
Thus, told of Suggs’ age, Murray allowed that maybe Suggs wasn’t quite that old.
“You need those type of guys,” Murray said of veteran players. “He prides himself on winning. He’s won a lot. I know culture is a big part of any organization or team.”
More on Murray from Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com:
Kudos to the Cardinals fans who rose as one in Arizona to greet their new savior before his first drive on Thursday, in hopes of witnessing the first step of desert football history. Murray responded by getting rid of the ball quickly and coolly avoiding way too many free pass rushers in his only drive. I’m more in awe about how his teammates are in awe of a rookie.
“You ever meet a guy who’s been cool his whole life?” tackle D.J. Humphries told Scott Bordow of The Athletic. “And with certain stuff it’s like, ‘I’ve been the man since I was 4, brother. You don’t have to tell me I’m going to have a great game Thursday. I know that.’ “
As a former first-round pick who was humbled in his rookie year, Humphries believes Murray is wired differently.
“His confidence is true confidence,” Humphries said. “Mine was I thought I was better than I was. His is, ‘I know who I am and this is what it’s going to be.’ “
Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com on Mike Shanahan’s return to Broncos camp:
A few weeks ago, ex-Broncos coach Mike Shanahan returned to Denver’s facility for the first time since being fired in 2008—something that had been in the works since January. Shanahan and new Broncos coach Vic Fangio had dinner soon after Fangio got the job, and Fangio extended the invitation then. GM John Elway had actually been asking Shanahan to come by for about a year by then. But they couldn’t work out timing in the spring, and as summer approached, Shanahan was anxious to get over there. Why? Because he wanted to attend the team’s joint practices with his son Kyle’s team, but thought it would be weird if that was the first time he came back. So he picked a day in late July, and went, and saw all the changes.
“We had a bubble there that blew over,” Shanahan says. “We had to go down the street to practice when there was weather. So to see all the changes, and that happens in any organization, it was almost a completely new facility, even on the business side. It was very impressive to see, the indoor [fields] and everything else. And there’s so many people that you kind of forget are still working there. So in that way, it’s like you never left.” Shanahan, by the way, will be back there for those 49ers/Broncos joint practices on Friday and Saturday.
WR MECOLE HARDMAN is off to a fast start, literally. Adam Teicher of ESPN.com:
One play from Saturday night’s preseason opener showed why the Chiefs could be better offensively this season than they were in 2018. Rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman took a shovel pass 17 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter by outrunning several Cincinnati defenders. Hardman, the Chiefs’ top draft pick, has showed that kind of speed repeatedly at training camp. He’s another fast threat for Patrick Mahomes, joining Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson and 260-pound tight end Travis Kelce. That kind of speed will be difficult for opponents to deal with.
Diplomacy may have placated WR ANTONIO BROWN while enabling the NFL to enforce the letter of the helmet law. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:
The specific helmet Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown brought with him from Pittsburgh and wanted to wear this season in Oakland has been disallowed. But Brown may still get to wear the model of helmet he wants to wear.
PFT has confirmed with a source close to the situation that the NFL, the Raiders and Brown’s representatives have been in contact, and that the NFL has approved Brown wearing the helmet model he wants — the Schutt AiR Advantage — if he finds a helmet that fits him and is less than 10 years old.
Schutt stopped making the AiR Advantage in 2011, and Brown’s helmet is more than 10 years old. But there are AiR Advantage helmets out there that are eight or nine years old, and if Brown can find one that fits him properly and is in good condition, the league will let him wear it, the source said.
Right now, the source said, Brown and his representatives have not found an AiR Advantage helmet that is less than 10 years old. But they’re hoping to. Anyone who has one may be able to get a pretty penny from Brown for it.
Charles Robinson of YahooSports.com sensed some strong editorial control over “Hard Knocks” by the Raiders last week and wonders what we will be allowed to learn about Brown’s ongoing saga in the next episode:
“Hard Knocks” wanted drama. Brown delivered. And now we get to see who truly has the power in this marriage between HBO and the NFL.
Of the litany of revelations from the latest 24-hour cycle of Antonio Brown chaos, that is certainly one of them. There is no question whether the material is there for some Hall of Fame episodes in the coming days. But if the network can’t land something meaningful in the midst of this craziness – from the landing strip of jaw-dropping details already laid out by several reports – then it means we aren’t watching reality TV. Instead, it’s the kind of state-run television that has made the show an often forgettable spectacle in the past.
If you’re putting money down on where this one is headed, bet the under(whelming). There have already been some signs that HBO is going to get anything meaningful slashed to the bone in the coming weeks.
Take Episode 1, which as it turns out, seems even more disappointing in the rear-view mirror than it did a day ago. It largely landed with a thud after dancing around the problem with – to coin HBO’s term – Brown’s “bad” feet. Instead, the ultimate inside access of “Hard Knocks” basically delivered a hot air balloon ride, some rookies riding horses, a little bit of Derek Carr and the subtly interesting moment of head coach Jon Gruden establishing a no-fly zone when it comes to rookie hazing. And even that line by Gruden about hazing was largely glossed over in the episode, given that it could have provided an interesting entry point into the darker parts of offensive lineman Richie Incognito’s history.
Basically, HBO delivered a bunch of empty calories and then almost nothing on the parts of the Brown situation that actually made it dramatic. Specifically, the reality that he had frozen the bottoms of his feet in cryotherapy chamber. If anything, Brown’s children asked the toughest questions and might have provided the most interesting micro-second of filming, when in the midst of one of the children asking him about Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Brown grinned and flashed a quick look at the camera – presumably to see if “Hard Knocks” was watching.
It was mildly amusing. But it ended up being unfulfilling when the reality sunk in that “Hard Knocks” had nothing to reveal about the frostbite on Brown’s feet. It almost certainly means that the Raiders intervened in the production to keep that piece of information out. And we still might not know the nature of Brown’s foot problems right now, had it not been for Gruden’s former Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft pick – Chris Simms – revealing on ProFootballTalk what had happened in the deep freeze of a cryotherapy session. As an aside, it’s interesting that it was a guy with Gruden ties who came up with this piece of information.
What’s more disappointing now is that there was even more going on than anyone knew. And it was ultimately pushed into the spotlight thanks to Brown consistently missing practice and then having a grievance hearing with the NFL over his helmet. That triggered a string of revelations that the franchise has been dealing with this helmet lunacy for some time. A fact that wasn’t even a whisper in the first “Hard Knocks” episode.
All of this takes us back to one reality. This all should be an Oklahoma land rush for the franchise. It should be the kind of thing that can elevate “Hard Knocks” another notch above the fantastic production in Cleveland last season. But it likely won’t because of the one thing we can never forget: If the franchise involved wants this to be a “nothing to see here” propaganda machine that rings hollow on the most problematic storylines, then it will be. And in Episode 1, that’s what it was. More than we even realized.
Maybe it’s because Gruden was never going to get on board with this whole production. Or maybe it’s because he saw the mistake Browns coach Hue Jackson made last season, allowing too much reality into this reality show. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that the first week was an NFL-inspired borefest that took all the juiciest cuts and dried them into beef jerky.
We’ll see if that changes now. There’s no way HBO and the Raiders can hide what is going on with Brown now and still insist with a straight face that this is a “behind the scenes” look at the Raiders. Anyone who has been around Gruden knows that when the Brown news lit up on Friday, the relationship between the player and coach hit a crossroads inside the franchise. It might have already been there and we just hadn’t seen it.
Now the gritty details of this whole thing are in the hands of HBO, which undoubtedly has a fight on its hands with the Raiders when it comes to showing the rest of us what the inside of a catastrophe looks like. Making a sanitized production now about this Oakland mess would be like making a movie about the Titanic and editing out the iceberg.
“Hard Knocks” got exactly what it wanted in Antonio Brown. And that might be the worst thing that could have happened.
It’s interesting because in Gruden and GM Mike Mayock, there may never have been a team with a hierarchy that has more television production experience than these Raiders.
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CB NEVIN LAWSON, a 2019 free agent signee of the Raiders, will miss the first four games with a suspension.
Per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Lawson has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The cornerback was informed of the impending suspension last week, Rapoport adds.
Lawson signed with the Raiders in March, following his release from the Detroit Lions.
Over his five-year career, Lawson has started 54 games (14 in 2018), recorded 194 tackles and one sack.
Lindsay Jones of The Athletic says the Browns are practicing hard in 2019’s camp after Hue Jackson’s light touch in ‘18.
Saturday afternoon, the Browns were in full pads, practicing for two and a half hours. It was as old-school of a training camp as you’ll find in the NFL since the current collective bargaining agreement outlawed two-a-days in 2011.
“You need to prepare them for what they’re going to be and kind of show them a vision of what they can be. Hopefully we’ve done that,” Kitchens said Saturday afternoon. “I think sometimes you have to show them that they can be tough and physical and they’re not going to crumble.”
The Browns are still monitoring the workload for several veteran players, especially wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, neither of whom played in the game Thursday night. (The rest of the starting offense played one series, in their two-minute offense, with a drive capped by a Baker Mayfield-to-Rashard Higgins touchdown.) But if a culture change started in Cleveland midway through last year, Kitchens is trying to further accelerate the process here in training camp.
“I think Freddie is trying to find out who is going to break, you know? Times like this, when guys don’t feel like going, it truly defines a person, and when he can get us feeling the worst possible — well, he’s definitely got us there,” Higgins said Saturday evening, after a nap and a shower. “There’s times when we don’t want to go out and practice, we still go out and do it. Freddie just wants a tough group of guys that he can go to battle with, and that’s truly what he’s looking for.”
A few other notes after two days in Cleveland:
1. For all the buzz about Year Two of the Baker Mayfield era, camp has been far from perfect for the 2018 No. 1 overall pick. That’s in part by design, as Mayfield adjusts to a new full-time play-caller in Kitchens (who assumed those duties midway through last season), a new offensive coordinator (Todd Monken, previously in Tampa) and a host of new teammates (most notably Beckham Jr., who skipped most of the offseason program).
Mayfield threw multiple interceptions, including one in the red zone that was deflected and then caught by linebacker Joe Schobert, during both of the practices I watched, and while Kitchens is never happy to see his quarterback commit those sort of turnovers, he is encouraged by Mayfield’s aggressiveness and willingness to take chances — as long as Mayfield learns from it.
“Sometimes as a quarterback you have to fail to succeed. To fail, sometimes you take some unnecessary chances that you wouldn’t normally take, or you just don’t know whether it’s worth the risk,” Kitchens said.
That’s what we saw late in Saturday’s practice, when a frustrating red zone period (with three incomplete passes into the end zone) ended with a touchdown to tight end David Njoku in double coverage.
“The way (Mayfield) plays quarterback, he’s very confident. He can go out there and throw two picks in a row, but he thinks the next throw is going for a touchdown, no matter what,” guard Joel Bitonio said. “That’s something you respect. He knows what the stakes are, and he’s never going to point the finger and say, ‘Oh it’s his fault.’ But he’ll let you know, quietly, like, ‘we’ve got to pick this up, it’s our job to get this done,’ and that’s one thing you really want in a quarterback, that accountability.”
2. Beckham Jr. has been keeping a fairly low profile in his first training camp in Cleveland, at least off the field, but Jarvis Landry was able to provide some context about Beckham’s transition to the Browns after a rocky end to his tenure with the Giants.
Landry and Beckham Jr. met as teenagers in Louisiana, becoming friends before they were teammates at LSU, and they’ve been inseparable during this training camp. They are always side by side on the sideline, with matching tinted visors, and Beckham Jr. has moved in to Landry’s house while he continues to look for a new place of his own.
“It’s like we talked about last night, it’s like finding home. Being together makes you feel that way,” Landry said. “In different ways, we help each other. We balance each other. Like a ying and yang. He’s more the outgoing one, I’m more the quiet one. But we have a good balance, we know how to talk to each other. We understand each other, I think that’s the biggest thing.”
On the field, Beckham and Mayfield’s connection is still a work in progress, which is understandable given their lack of work together in the spring. But there are signs of progress: On Friday, the two connected for a touchdown late in practice, which set off an exuberant celebration between Mayfield and several offensive linemen.
He may not be living in his $40 million Boston mansion, but QB TOM BRADY is telling folks he still plans on playing somewhere in 2022. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is, at age 42, the oldest non-kicker in the NFL. But he doesn’t think this will be his last season. Or his next to last. Or his next to next to last.
Asked today on WEEI if he still plans to play until he’s 45 years old, Brady answered, “Yeah, I do. I certainly hope so.”
Brady said the only thing that could hold him back is if he’s unable to get his body ready for a season, but he says his offseason routine is keeping him in great shape.
“It’s a big commitment and it’s a lot of time and energy I put into getting ready for practice, post-practice treatment,” Brady said. “The mental part of the game is not the challenge. It’s just really working hard to keep my body in physical preparation, physical shape. I’m not a robot. It’s a lot of time and energy to prepare myself and my body to play. I love doing that, and I think that’s why I’ve been very fortunate to play as long as I have.”
Brady, who said no one should read anything into the fact that he and his wife are selling their New England house, said that when he does retire, he may get into the real estate market.
“Maybe I’ll be an architect or designer because I love building houses,” Brady said.
But that post-football career is years away.
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Another positive report on QB JARRETT STIDHAM, this from Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com:
Perhaps Patriots fans are just wishcasting at this point, but they are starting to believe they’ve found their next Jimmy G. Stidham, the fourth-round rookie QB from Auburn, has looked ahead of schedule with surprising accuracy since the start of OTAs. That’s continued into training camp, where he’s been trusted with more first-team reps than Jacoby Brissett or Garoppolo saw at their respective rookie camps, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic. It is particularly delicious that Stidham was drafted, in part, with the bounty of picks that the team acquired by parlaying the Jimmy G. trade into more assets. (Just don’t mention the similarly acquired 2018 second-round cornerback Duke Dawson, who may not even make the team.)
Stidham built on his camp buzz with a sharp performance in the preseason opener in Detroit, completing 14 of 24 passes for 179 yards and one touchdown, a statline that could have been bigger if not for a few key drops. As crazy as it sounds, it may only take a few more impressive outings for Stidham to look like a candidate for 2020 if the lingering contract weirdness with Tom Brady takes any unforeseen turns.
NEW YORK JETS
The Jets have a cornerback shortage. Rich Cimini at ESPN.com:
The New York Jets’ cornerback situation is so dire that Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams is volunteering for emergency duty.
“If they need me to go to corner, I’ll go to corner,” he said Monday. “I’m dead serious.”
That is unlikely to happen, but Adams’ reaction underscores the sense of desperation. Top corner Trumaine Johnson, who underwent an MRI exam after injuring a hamstring in Sunday’s practice, is listed as week-to-week. His status for the regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills is in jeopardy.
“That’s just going to be time,” coach Adam Gase said. “I don’t think it will be months, but, I mean, we’ll see. It’s week-to-week right now. It’ll be about how his body responds to the rehab.”
Cornerback was a concern at the start of training camp. After opting not to re-sign starter Morris Claiborne, who recently signed with the Kansas City Chiefs after receiving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, the Jets went into camp with Johnson, Darryl Roberts and Atlanta Falcons castoff Brian Poole as their top three corners.
Instead of spending big money at the position, the Jets, who had more than $100 million in cap space, decided to take the inexpensive route. And now they could be paying the price.
On Saturday, they waived Derrick Jones, a 2017 sixth-round pick. On Sunday, Johnson pulled up lame.
On Monday, undrafted rookie Kyron Brown — Johnson’s replacement — injured his hamstring and left practice. Brown was replaced by Arthur Maulet, 26, already with his third team after entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2017.
Publicly, Gase put on a brave face, insisting he’s not ready to panic.
“I don’t look at it like that,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for a lot of guys. Somebody has to step up and make a name for themselves.”
The Jets have confidence in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who they believe can scheme up ways to camouflage the weakness at cornerback.
“Gregg will welcome that,” Gase said. “He loves that. He loves to scheme things up. He’ll figure it out. That’s why he’s been doing this for as long as he has.”
In other injury news, left guard Kelechi Osemele left practice with a strained pectoral muscle. The early indications are that it’s not torn, according to Gase. Defensive end Henry Anderson couldn’t finish practice because of a possible concussion.
THIS AND THAT
This from Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com:
The NFL’s ongoing negotiations with the NFLPA will be a constant subplot to this season. I got a chance to take the temperature of some of the players’ reps from various teams about the state of the collective bargaining agreement talks, and came away generally optimistic about the possibility of a deal getting done in 2020 – well ahead of the expiration of the current CBA.
While some in the media have been pushing the idea of a deal getting done before this season, that frankly never seemed realistic to any of the parties involved in the process that I have talked to, and it’s always been the most artificial of faux deadlines. As I first reported back at the combine in February, the fact that the sides had already laid down so much initial groundwork was already a major step, and the process continues to roll along at a steady clip.
There will be other obstacles to overcome, but the sense that that there is a deal to get done continues to permeate.
“It’s just good to see us being open to it, on both sides,” Steelers offensive lineman and NFLPA player rep Ramon Foster told me. “There are a lot of things that need to be changes – they know that and we know that, just on a lot of different levels. Of course always the biggest one is money – the split on revenue, and player safety and the tags. Not only that but things for guys like a JuJu (Smith-Schuster) or Ezekiel Elliott, who have outplayed their contracts, and protection of those guys.
“And let’s try to work this as a partnership, not like we are at war all the time. But of course when you talk money and numbers that tends to create a war and a hate to use that term, but that’s what it can be like with players versus owners. So we just have to work through that, but we all know that we have a good product out there and just work through it. I know there was a supposed timeline of trying to get it done, but from the PA standpoint there is no way we’re going to rush it, because this has to be right not only for our current players but retired players and the pre-93 guys.”
Both sides seem in agreement that with gambling money about to flood in and new broadcast deals on the horizon, now is not the time to kill the golden goose.
“No doubt,” Foster said, “because right now we’re hot, and that’s not always the case. And people talk about the popularity of the NBA and NFL … and sure everybody loves the NBA offseason, but when the NFL comes around America loves what we’re doing. And with that, the TV contracts are just huge and the gambling aspect of sports is going to be huge for everybody. So everybody can benefit from that and as you said there are a lot of dollars behind that, and we recognize that of course. Our owners and CEOs and investors in these teams recognize it too.”
DO THESE PROPOSED TRADES MAKE SENSE?
Cody Benjamin of CBSSports.com tries to play matchmaker.
The bulk of the NFL’s offseason action comes in March, when the free agency floodgates first open, but that doesn’t mean teams aren’t eyeballing big moves as the regular season draws near.
The Houston Texans are fresh off a trade for Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson, and just last fall, the league saw a flurry of deals for notable names: Teddy Bridgewater, for example, went from New York to New Orleans in late August, and Khalil Mack’s blockbuster move to Chicago came all the way on Sept. 1.
All that’s to say there could easily be a headlining move or two still around the corner. With trades in mind, here’s a look at five we think would make lots of sense during the 2019 preseason:
WR A.J. Green
49ers get: WR A.J. Green
Bengals get: 2020 fourth-round pick, 2021 seventh-round pick
Green would’ve been an obvious trade candidate even before Marvin Lewis was canned and the Bengals went full into rebuild mode, as he’s set to hit the open market in 2020. Now, there’s almost no reason for either side to ride this out. From Cincy’s point of view, why not try to get something for a 31-year-old impending free agent with a $15 million cap hit? With Green expected to miss multiple games with an ankle injury, opening the door for an internally praised Josh Malone alongside a recently paid Tyler Boyd, and new coach Zac Taylor just beginning his overhaul of the roster, why not try to sell the Pro Bowler now?
The 49ers would obviously be betting on Green returning to health by surrendering at least one premier pick here, but they can afford the gamble. Jimmy Garoppolo is entering a huge prove-it season under center, and his receiving corps, while injected with youth, lacks a lot of pop or proven production. San Fran has more than enough cap space to swallow Green’s 2019 cap charge, and if the rental works out down the stretch, the Niners will have the option to either re-up one of the league’s top outside targets (when healthy) or cash in on a compensatory pick by allowing Green to test his market. It’s a win-win across the board.
QB Trevor Siemian
Eagles get: QB Trevor Siemian
Jets get: 2020 fifth-round pick
A true Howie Roseman blockbuster would be assembling a package for a top pass rusher to rotate with Derek Barnett opposite Brandon Graham (like, say, Jerry Hughes, who plays for a team that might have use for a guy like Halapoulivaati Vaitai). But after Thursday night, priority No. 1 has suddenly become finding an experienced backup for Carson Wentz, who — in case you forgot — has been prone to miss games. Nate Sudfeld may very well be sidelined for much of the 2019 season after suffering a broken wrist in his preseason debut, and Siemian — even more proven than Sudfeld — would make for an instant upgrade over Cody Kessler.
The Jets, of course, signed Siemian to be the No. 2 behind their own youngster, Sam Darnold. But they signed him months before new general manager Joe Douglas, a noted member of the Eagles’ title-winning front office, came over from Philly. That’s not to say Siemian’s unwanted, but is the drop-off from him to, say, free agent Josh Johnson so steep that Douglas would turn down a future pick for his Jets reconstruction? (Fun fact: Johnson once signed with the Bears back when Douglas was in Chicago’s front office, too.) Douglas could help his old friends out and gain some draft capital for a guy the Jets will likely replace after 2019 anyway.
OT Trent Williams
Texans get: OT Trent Williams
Washington gets: 2020 second-round pick
Williams is apparently bent on forcing Washington’s hand after disagreements over either the team’s medical operations or a future contract, so unless Dan Snyder decides to fork over a lucrative raise, the NFC East’s leading candidate to bottom out early in 2019 could be forced to consider dealing their longtime left tackle. It’s hardly ideal for new quarterback Dwayne Haskins, but it can also be justified: Williams is 31, he hasn’t played a full season in six years, and he’ll save the club a lot of cap space through 2020. Plus, there’s one team in particular that looks especially primed to cough up considerable compensation.
The Texans are operating without a general manager, and that might explain why Houston gave up what could be a third-rounder for Duke Johnson, a change-of-pace running back. That alone should tell you they’d probably jump at the chance to land Williams for a two — a price most teams would probably balk at considering Williams’ salary and injury/suspension history. Regardless of how you feel about the compensation, though, this is clear: The Texans need to protect Deshaun Watson. They brought in Matt Kalil for added competition at LT this offseason, but Williams is on another level — or three. This would intensify their title hopes.
DE Everson Griffen
Seahawks get: DE Everson Griffen
Vikings get: OT George Fant, 2021 seventh-round pick
Seattle made headline after headline while tearing down its aged and injured “Legion of Boom,” but the team all but admitted to overstepping in that mission by prioritizing upgrades for its depleted D-line this offseason, first with the early selection of L.J. Collier and then the signing of Ezekiel Ansah. While Ansah is now expected to be healthy for Week 1, the Seahawks’ front four is still entering the season rather bare, and Griffen is exactly the kind of proven pass rusher they’d be able to instantly plug in, play and be excited about. As a bonus, he’s got a steep price tag beyond 2019 but can be released without much penalty.
Why, exactly, would Minnesota part with Griffen, though? The answer is twofold: First, because the Vikings’ pass rush is in good, young hands after 2018 confirmed Danielle Hunter as a freak off the edge and indicated that Stephen Weatherly, Griffen’s backup and a candidate for an extension, has untapped potential. Secondly, because the Vikings could really use cap space, especially considering the money they’ve spread around to other parts of a dominant defensive lineup. They’re talented enough to endure Griffen’s loss, take the extra cash and, in this scenario, collect some much-needed right tackle insurance for Kirk Cousins and Co.
CB Josh Norman
Chiefs get: CB Josh Norman
Washington gets: 2020 fifth-round pick
Trent Williams might be the only big name openly campaigning for a move out of Washington, but if his team stumbles out of the gate, things could get ugly fast, whether that means a Jay Gruden dismissal or further roster upheaval. Snyder’s front office has reason to purge bloated contracts with Haskins in the fold and the future now a priority, and it’s hard to find a contract that fits that category better than Norman’s. While the 31-year-old is one of the top names in Washington’s secondary, he’s set to count almost $30 million against the cap through 2020, and that’s after already being demoted to the bench on several occasions.
Kansas City isn’t hiding its desperation to upgrade a cornerback group that got toasted week after week in 2018, inking Morris Claiborne to a one-year deal despite the former New York Jets starter expected to serve a four-game suspension. And with loads of cap space entering the season, the Chiefs can afford to take a swing on someone like Norman, who’d likely embrace a change of scenery, would be reunited with former ‘Skins teammate Kendall Fuller and benefit from playing alongside a rangy safety like Tyrann Mathieu. Andy Reid has jettisoned outspoken CBs before (see: Marcus Peters), but this risk might be worth it.