The Daily Briefing Friday, March 23, 2018
AROUND THE NFL
This from the PGA TOUR – Tony Romo, playing as an amateur sponsor exemption, shot 5-over 77 in the first round of the tournament in the Dominican Republic. Romo was even par on the front, but struggled on the back nine and begins the day in 127th place out of 132.
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Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report offers a list of NFL vets who still could be released by their teams:
In several cases below, cash-strapped teams may consider cutting a player to give themselves more financial freedom to pursue available free-agent talent. In other scenarios, the club may shop a player with value to acquire help in other spots.
Which players could cross the transaction wire in the coming weeks? Who may be on the trade block? Let’s dive in.
Traded: C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos should acquire offensive assets as opposed to sending them away, but 9News reporter Mike Klis reported the team is willing to listen to trade offers for running back C.J. Anderson, who ran for 1,007 yards in 2017.
Denver may be able to land a decent offensive lineman in exchange for Anderson, who’s coming off his best season, plus a draft pick. The incoming rookie class features quality ball-carriers who might remain on the board through the fourth round. A rookie prospect would pair with Devontae Booker to lead the backfield.
Barring a trade package that includes a potential starter on the offensive line, the Broncos should retain their leading rusher. At this point, front office executive John Elway must focus on building around new starting quarterback Case Keenum.
The Minnesota Vikings went 13-3 with Keenum, a strong defense, two quality receivers and an effective ground attack. Even without cornerback Aqib Talib, the Broncos check those boxes. While Anderson may be on the trade block, Denver’s brass should recognize his value to the offense.
Cut: Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Giants
The New York Giants currently have roughly $7.7 million in available cap space. It’s fair to expect general manager Dave Gettleman to initiate more contract restructures, cuts or trades.
Gettleman should start with 34-year-old wideout Brandon Marshall, who underwent season-ending ankle surgery after appearing in five contests last season. When on the field, he didn’t provide much relief in the passing game while fellow wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. battled through an ankle injury.
The Giants would save more than $5.1 million by releasing Marshall. Due to tight end Evan Engram’s emergence in the offense, cutting Marshall wouldn’t limit quarterback Eli Manning’s options in the pocket.
Big Blue needs to recoup some cash. Though $5.1 million isn’t a fortune, the extra financial capital would allow the front office to pursue low-cost free agents at other positions of need.
Cut: Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t like the idea of losing two longtime wide receivers, but it’s all business.
Randall Cobb carries a $12.7 million cap hit. His 2018 salary ranks ninth among all wide receivers. Though he’s banking No. 1 wideout money, he recorded fewer than 700 yards and four touchdowns in back-to-back seasons.
In Cobb’s defense, his numbers took a hit with quarterback Brett Hundley under center for more than half of the 2017 season, but he trails Davante Adams in overall targets over the past two seasons, 238-176.
There’s no good reason for Green Bay to pay a primary slot receiver like a No. 1 option, especially when his yards-per-catch average has dropped by more than four yards since 2014.
The Packers and Cobb can avoid a split if the 27-year-old agrees to a pay cut. Barring that, Green Bay could expunge his bloated salary—saving nearly $9.5 million in the process—and draft another receiver to fill the void.
Cut: Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders
After a quiet start to the offseason, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s preference for older players during free agency is raising some eyebrows.
Age-wise, 30-year-old tight end Jared Cook fits Gruden’s strategy of acquiring or retaining experienced assets. He led the team with 688 receiving yards this past season, his highest total since he racked up 759 receiving yards with the Tennessee Titans in 2011.
With that in mind, why would the Raiders cut him?
For one, Gruden seems intent on remodeling the offense. The Raiders replaced wideout Michael Crabtree with Jordy Nelson. They sent fullback Jamize Olawale to the Dallas Cowboys and signed fullback Keith Smith in his place. They also hosted a visit with wideout Eric Decker, per The Athletic’s Vic Tafur.
The Raiders signed eight free agents last offseason, but Cook is the only from that group who’s still on the active roster. Cutting him would free up nearly $5.7 million in cap space, which could enable Oakland to spend money elsewhere and draft a rookie tight end to compete for the starting gig.
Traded: Coby Fleener, TE, New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints wanted to reunite quarterback Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, but the Packers swooped in and signed the 31-year-old tight end before that could happen.
The Saints also expressed interest in tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, before he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Graham and Brees already have familiarity with one another, having played together for the first five years of the former’s career. This past season in Seattle, Graham caught 10 touchdown passes, leading all tight ends. He would’ve elevated an already explosive Saints offense.
New Orleans’ desire to acquire Seferian-Jenkins is what should put Coby Fleener on notice.
Fleener landed on injured reserve with a concussion after 11 games this past season, and he was inconsistent while active. In five of his 11 outings, he finished with one catch or left the field empty-handed.
For the season, Fleener finished with 295 receiving yards and two touchdowns, a disappointment for a tight end with an $8 million cap hit in 2018. Brees’ ball distribution lessens his impact as a receiving threat, especially given the emergence of breakout rookie running back Alvin Kamara.
Expect the Saints to actively try to move Fleener’s contract in the next few weeks.
Cut: Cliff Avril, DE, Seattle Seahawks
A career-threatening neck injury sidelined Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril for 12 games this past season. He underwent surgery and still hopes to play again, but that’s far from definite.
When healthy, Avril wreaked havoc as a primary pass-rusher. He led the team with 11.5 sacks during the 2016 campaign, and he’s recorded 74 over a decade with the Detroit Lions and Seahawks.
Regardless, Avril’s neck injury is likely to close his chapter in Seattle.
He’ll turn 32 years old in April and is headed into a contract year. Without a clear pathway to the field, the Seahawks could cut the All-Pro defensive end and save $7.1 million in cap space. According to CBS Sports salary-cap expert Joel Corry, the Seahawks would have a “$1.15 million cap charge for injury protection” if the ailment ends Avril’s career.
Either way, Seattle can save a significant amount of cap space by releasing Avril. General manager John Schneider could use the savings to revamp a defense that’s lost several key players over the past few weeks.
Traded: Mychal Kendricks, LB, Philadelphia Eagles
This isn’t news to Philadelphia Eagles fans, but the team will once again shop linebacker Mychal Kendricks after re-signing Nigel Bradham, per Rapoport.
The Eagles’ signing of linebacker Corey Nelson raised questions about Kendricks’ prospective role as a starter, per 97.5 The Fanatic host Geoff Mosher.
This past offseason, Kendricks wanted to part ways with the team via trade or release, per Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jeff McLane. That didn’t happen, and he performed at an optimal level in a Super Bowl run.
The Eagles would recoup more cap space in a post-June 1 trade as opposed to a pre-June 1 move, but a good offer before the draft could push the front office to approve a deal within the coming weeks.
Philadelphia’s strong defensive front should mask a key loss at the linebacker position if the Eagles do trade Kendricks. Whether it’s Nelson or a draft pick who winds up replacing him, the front seven would remain one of the best in the league.
Traded: Eli Apple, CB, New York Giants
Giants head coach Pat Shurmur and Gettleman wiped the slate clean for cornerback Eli Apple, who went through a tumultuous 2017 season on the field and rubbed teammates the wrong way in the locker room.
Back in December, safety Landon Collins called Apple out on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 FM.
“There’s one corner that…he needs to grow up, and we all know who that is,” Collins said, clearly referring to Apple. “That would be the only person I would change out of our secondary group. The other two guys, [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] and [Janoris Jenkins], I love those two guys.”
Collins apologized for his comments, and the Giants already cut Rodgers-Cromartie after he refused to take a pay cut. Despite Apple’s blank slate, when a two-time Pro Bowler and leader in the secondary speaks, teammates and personnel executives listen.
Gettleman and Shurmur won’t condemn Apple for his past mistakes, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t available via trade.
Big Blue holds the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Teams willing to move up may also have interest in Apple, along with the pick, in exchange for a mammoth package deal. A suitor could throw in a linebacker or offensive lineman to sweeten the offer.
CB TRAMON WILLIAMS will be returning to the Packers. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal:
Now that the free-agent market has been picked clean of the top available cornerbacks, the Green Bay Packers are looking for good fits with their defensive system and locker room.
Tramon Williams, who played nine seasons with the Packers and was a major player in their sweep through the postseason in 2010, is apparently one of those guys.
According to former teammate James Jones, an analyst for NFL Network, Williams has agreed to a two-year contract with the Packers. A source familiar with Williams’ contact with the Packers said that Williams was on his way to Green Bay. He did not confirm that a deal had been reached.
It’s possible the Packers want to visit with the 35-year-old Williams and conduct a physical to make sure he doesn’t have any lingering injuries. Williams played for the Arizona Cardinals in 2017, starting nine of the 13 games in which he appeared.
Prior to that, Williams played for two seasons in Cleveland, where current Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine served as head coach. Williams started 22 of 27 games in which he appeared with the Browns.
The 6-foot, 192-pound Williams had a bounce-back year for the Cardinals last season. He signed with the team four months after the Browns released him and was inactive for one game and a backup for five games before replacing Justin Bethel in the starting lineup.
Williams played a heavy dose of press coverage during his years in Green Bay, six under defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Last season, he played in defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s blitz-heavy system and was credited with solidifying the secondary.
Pro Bowl corner Patrick Peterson covered the opposing team’s best receiver, but Williams was left to cover the No. 2. He totaled 41 tackles, 12 pass breakups and two interceptions in the games he played.
The Cowboys have created cap space by playing with the contract of C TRAVIS FREDERICK. Clarence Hill of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:
With two free agent signings now on the books, the Dallas Cowboys have restructured the contract of the center Travis Frederick to create more cap room, as expected.
The Cowboys converted most of Frederick’s $10 million base salary into a signing bonus, freeing up roughly $7 million in space under the 2018 salary cap, according to a source.
The room was necessary to make the signings of linebacker Joe Thomas and receiver Deonte Thompson official, while also giving them space for any more prospective signings.
The team hosted eight free agents this week and remain interested in the group.
Frederick’s cap hit before the restructuring was $13.2 million.
This was a trigger the Cowboys long expected to pull when it came time to create more space.
The Cowboys could also do the same with left tackle Tyron Smith and linebacker Sean Lee, though they hope to not have to do the latter.
There remains the possibility that the Cowboys could ask receiver Dez Bryant to take a pay cut from his $12.5 million base salary to create even more cap room.
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants ship DE JASON PIERRE-PAUL to the Buccaneers, which makes those who speculate think DE BRADLEY CHUBB could now be the second player off the board. Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com:
On one hand, the Giants have been taking a close look at quarterbacks available at the top of the draft. On the other hand, they’ve just traded their best pass rusher to the Buccaneers, giving them a clear need at that position.
(And, no, I wasn’t deliberately being a wise ass by using “hand” in an item that relates to Jason Pierre-Paul.)
The JPP trade potentially shakes up the top of the draft, putting the Giants potentially in play for North Carolina State pass rusher Bradley Chubb at No. 2. Or, perhaps more realistically, setting up a trade down in order to auction the No. 2 pick for a quarterback-starved team, getting Chubb in a lower spot and adding to the compensation received for Pierre-Paul.
The problem becomes finding a spot to which the Giants could drop while still remaining confident that they’ll land Chubb. No. 5 would be the floor (the Colts surely would take Chubb at No. 6), if the Broncos wanted to move up and snag a quarterback at No. 2 (which seems unlikely). The Browns at No. 4 probably have little interest in getting the first two picks in the draft, unless they become determined to pair a quarterback with someone like running back Saquon Barkley (that also seems unlikely).
Maybe the Jets, who recently jumped from No. 6 to No. 3, would be willing to come up one more spot, if they’re determined to get a quarterback, and if they want to avoid being leapfrogged by a team like the Bills. This would allow the Giants to select Chubb at No. 3; if they’d take him at No. 2 anyway, why not try to do with the Jets what the 49ers did with the Bears a year ago?
However it plays out, the JPP trade makes things a lot murkier, with five more weeks to go until the picks are made.
WR MIKE WALLACE is still hanging around. He has a one-year deal with the Eagles. Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The Eagles agreed to a one-year deal with veteran wide receiver Mike Wallace on Thursday, boosting their offense with a deep threat they lost when they traded Torrey Smith.
Wallace, 31, is a former Pro Bowler whose most-noted skill is his speed. He has averaged 15 yards per catch during his nine-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, and Baltimore Ravens. He spent the last two years with the Ravens, finishing with 52 catches for 748 yards and four touchdowns.
Wallace is likely to take over Smith’s role, competing with Mack Hollins for playing time as an outside receiver. The Eagles are looking for a fourth option in the passing game behind Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Nelson Agholor. Smith had 36 catches on 69 targets for 430 yards and two scores last season and was on the receiving end of a flea-flicker touchdown in the NFC championship game. Shelton Gibson is also on the depth chart entering his second season. The Eagles traded Smith and Marcus Johnson this month.
Wallace, who is listed at 6-feet and 200 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds when he was a third-round pick by the Steelers in 2009. He’s one of 10 active players with at least 500 receptions and 8,000 receiving yards. Wallace has topped 1,000 receiving yards three times, and 19 of his 57 touchdowns have gone for 40 yards or more.
The Eagles had success last season identifying veterans to fill the roster on short-term deals. They’re doing the same this offseason, with Wallace joining Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata as newcomers who are 30 and older. All three have reached the Pro Bowl.
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We wondered if DE CHRIS LONG would hook up with a third team and try to make it Super Bowl rings for three different teams in three years (as LeGARRETTE BLOUNT will be trying to do with the Lions), but it looks like he’s sticking with the Eagles. Brandon Lee Gowton of BleedingGreenNation.com:
On Wednesday, reports emerged that the Philadelphia Eagles offered a raise to Chris Long to help convince him to return for the 2018 season. Shortly after that, it was reported that Long hasn’t actually accepted the offer yet and he’s still mulling his future.
But now we have word from Long himself. Speaking in an interview during an event for his Waterboys initiative in St. Louis on Wednesday night, Long said he is leaning on returning to the Eagles in 2018.
QUESTION: I read a story that the Eagles want you back, they’re wooing you, and they’re saying we’re going to guarantee your money [by] three or four times what you got last year.
CHRIS LONG: Yeah, well, they’re going to give me more money […] They feel bad because I gave my salary away [last season]. (joking)
No, but for me, at my age every year, it’s important to make a decision, and take self-inventory. Is your body there? Is your mind in it? Do you have the passion? Because it takes a lot. And for me, just every year, I’m a year at a time. From here on out. For however long I play.
Philly’s been awesome, like I said. They kind of adopted me as, like, family. So that definitely factors in to everything. And the chance to repeat [as Super Bowl champions].
I’m still supposedly “mulling it over,” but I’m leaning on going back and playing.
So yeah. I mean, I hadn’t even answered any questions about that but there you go.
In addition to Long saying this, the new contract that the Eagles offered him reportedly has been signed.
Chris Long signed new contract last week (#Eagles increased NS to $2.5M and guaranteed it), per NFL sources, so he seemingly knew of trade for Michael Bennett. @MikeSilver reported Long was mulling over whether to return or retire. Signature suggests he’s leaning toward return.
Update: he signed it last week. He had an out. Bonus payment was delayed. Has since decided to take the deal: 2-year extension through 2019. As @Jeff_McLane reported today, he is coming back. Carry on
I guess it’s not officially official until Long and/or the Eagles make a public announcement about it, but for now it seems like Long is coming back to Philadelphia in 2018. And that’s great news because he was a very important contributor to the team’s Super Bowl success in 2017
Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com says that DE JUNIOR GALETTE will not be returning to the Redskins:
Junior Galette has gotten some interest from other teams.
Which has led his previous employer to lose theirs.
According to Chick Hernandez of NBC Sports Washington, an initial offer to the veteran pass-rusher has been withdrawn by Washington.
Other teams have shown interest, with ties to his recent past, including the Browns and Rams.
Former personnel man Scot McCloughan, who brought Galette to Washington, is advising the Browns, and former defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s now on the Rams staff. Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams also coached Galette during his productive years in New Orleans.
Galette had three sacks in a part-time role last year, though he played all 16 games. Before a pair of Achilles tears cost him two years, he was one of the top pass-rushers in the league with 22.0 sacks in two seasons with the Saints.
He said earlier this offseason he still considered himself elite, and we’ll see if offers from other teams substantiate that view.
S ERIC REID, now an unsigned free agent, wants teams to know that he has left his anthem protest behind. Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com:
Safety Eric Reid said in December that he understood that teams might not sign him as a free agent this offseason because he knelt during the playing of the national anthem the last two years, adding “that’s OK with me” if teams do pass because he did what he felt was right.
Whether it’s because he joined Colin Kaepernick in protests against racial inequality and police brutality in 2016 or the general slow activity for safeties on the open market, Reid’s had a quiet first week-plus of free agency. The 2013 49ers first-round pick mocked “the notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap” last week and reiterated on Thursday that he’s “OK no matter what happens” in free agency.
Reid, who was watching his brother Justin at Stanford’s Pro Day, also said that he’s not planning to continue taking a knee when and if he does sign with a team for the 2018 season.
“I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country to improve on,” Reid said, via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I don’t think it’ll be in the form of protesting during the anthem. And I said ‘during’ because it’s crazy to me that the narrative got changed to we were protesting the anthem, because that wasn’t the case. But I think we’re going to take a different approach to how to be active.”
Reid said his agent has spoken to a couple of teams, but no deals have been offered and no visits have been arranged at this point. 49ers General Manager John Lynch was also at Stanford Thursday and spoke to Reid before telling reporters that he expects “things starting to shake for” the safety in the near future. Lynch added he’s “monitoring [Reid’s situation] closely” while adding “never say never” about the prospect of a return to the team.
WR ZAY JONES was said to be in line for a felony charge for his bizarre antics in Los Angeles earlier this week, but instead he will walk away as clean as a whistle – at least as far as California authorities are concerned.
Prosecutors will not bring criminal charges against Buffalo Bills receiver Zay Jones, who appeared in a video naked while arguing with his brother in Los Angeles earlier this week.
Los Angeles prosecutors declined the case because of “insufficient evidence,” district attorney’s office spokesman Paul Eakins told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Jones, 22, was arrested after officers were called to a disturbance in downtown Los Angeles, said police spokesman Luis Garcia. Jones was found “breaking glass doors and windows” and arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism, Garcia said.
The arrest was first reported by TMZ, which posted a video showing a nude Jones pushing his brother, Cayleb, in what appeared to be the hallway of an apartment building. The video also showed what appeared to be blood on the floor and walls of the hallway.
Jones’ agent, Zeke Sandhu, did not reply to text and voicemail messages. Sandhu also represents Cayleb Jones.
Cayleb Jones, a Minnesota Vikings receiver, on Wednesday posted a note on his Twitter account, which read: “I am my brothers keeper.”
Their father, former NFL linebacker Robert Jones, posted a note on his Twitter account on Wednesday saying that Zay “is with me and his mom,” while adding “he’s going to be fine!”
The Bills had no immediate comment.
The Patriots are bringing back T LaADRIAN WADDLE. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com:
The New England Patriots and offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle have agreed to terms on a one-year contract, a league source confirms.
NFL Network first reported the agreement.
Waddle enters his sixth NFL season and has played in 45 regular-season games with 28 starts. He will compete for the Patriots’ left tackle spot after Nate Solder signed a four-year, $62 million deal with the New York Giants.
The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Waddle was initially claimed on waivers by the Patriots on Dec. 16, 2015. He has mostly served as a backup, lining up at both left and right tackle.
NEW YORK JETS
The Jets have landed WR TERRELLE PRYOR. Brian Costello in the New York Post:
The Jets did not land the former Redskins quarterback in free agency, but it looks like they are going to get one of his former wide receivers.
Terrelle Pryor and the Jets agreed to terms on a deal Thursday night, according to a source. Pryor, 28, is an intriguing pickup for the Jets, who are shopping for bargains now in the second week of free agency. The details of the deal were not known, but they most likely are team-friendly.
The Jets beat out the Seahawks and Browns for Pryor, according to a source.
Pryor joins a receiver room that is getting crowded. The Jets already had Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen. But Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles like to add competition at every position, and Pryor will provide that. He also gives them insurance if Enunwa struggles in his return from neck surgery or Anderson is suspended after his two arrests in the last year.
For Pryor, this will be his third team in three years. The converted quarterback had a disappointing season with the Redskins last year after signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the team. He had just 20 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown. An ankle injury played a role in his decreased production and sent him to injured reserve in November. The Jets believe his injury hampered him and that he also was a victim of some bad chemistry in Washington.
Before joining the Redskins, Pryor reinvented himself with the Browns. After stints as a quarterback with the Raiders, Seahawks, Chiefs and Bengals, Pryor moved to wide receiver in Cleveland in 2015. He had a breakout season in 2016, when he caught 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns.
The Jets have been looking to add another wide receiver. They initially felt the prices were too high for the top receivers. Allen Robinson got a three-year, $42 million contract from the Bears, and Sammy Watkins signed a three-year, $48 million deal with the Chiefs.
Maccagnan waited for that initial market to cool off before taking a look at the second wave of receivers. Pryor visited the Jets this week, as did Charles Johnson. Former Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns came to Florham Park on Thursday for a visit. It was unclear if the signing of Pryor ruled out anything with Hurns, but the Jets will have to cut someone from the wide receivers room if they add anyone else.
The Jets have remade the receiving corps over the past calendar year, getting rid of veterans Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, drafting Stewart and Hansen and adding Kearse in a trade with the Seahawks. Now, Pryor joins them, giving whoever is at quarterback some legitimate targets.
THIS AND THAT
COMEBACK FOR JOHNNY MANZIEL?
Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com is at the U. of San Diego’s Pro Day:
Johnny Manziel has to show that he is a changed man.
That process continued Thursday when the former Cleveland Browns quarterback threw to receivers at the University of San Diego’s pro day.
Scouts from 13 NFL teams were on hand to watch Manziel throw. The Browns, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were represented.
Manziel, 25, showed the arm strength and athleticism that helped him become the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. The former Texas A&M star attempted 38 passes, with two misses, in light rain.
Toreros receiver Justin Priest and tight end Ross Dwelley invited Manziel after working out with him in San Diego. The duo did not have a quarterback to throw to them, so Manziel filled in.
“It was good,” Dwelley said. “He spins a good ball. He saw it as a good opportunity to get his foot back in the door, so he was all over it. So it was a good opportunity for both parties.”
RULE CHANGES AND OTHER OWNER’S MEETING ITEMS
Besides the catch rule, Christian DeAndra of SBNation.com looks at what else might be changing at the upcoming owner’s meeting.
Giving referees the opportunity to eject a player after viewing a replay
The NFL isn’t going to take on the NCAA’s targeting rule to eject players for helmet-to-helmet hits, but it may step up its discipline in order to dish out ejections for unsportsmanlike conduct after a play has concluded. This is something that came up in 2017 when Rob Gronkowski unleashed the dirtiest play of his career to concuss Tre’Davious White at the end of the Patriots’ Week 13 win over the Bills.
While he was suspended from the following week’s loss to the Dolphins, the All-Pro tight end was allowed to finish his game against Buffalo — something that wouldn’t have happened if this proposed rule were in place.
Allowing franchises to hire assistant coaches from playoff teams while they’re coaching in the postseason
NFL teams typically raid the coaching trees of successful franchises after firing a head coach, and often that means having to wait until their target has either dropped out of the playoffs or won a Super Bowl before making an official hire. That’s usually just a mild inconvenience, unless you’re the Colts. Then it’s a catastrophe.
McDaniels spent the latter half of the playoffs as Indianapolis’ uncrowned head coach, then doubled back at the last second to remain in New England. Speeding up the timeline and allowing the Colts to hire him before the Patriots even played in the AFC title game may not have changed things in the long run, but it would have given Indy more lead time as it scrambled for a replacement.
At the league meeting, the NFL is set to discuss a proposal that would allow teams to hire a coach during the postseason, even if that coach is employed by a team still alive in the playoffs.
Waiting for coaches to become available forces some teams to wait while the pool of available top-tier talent dries up. Changing the rules around hiring timelines is aimed at making the process more fair for everyone.
What about defensive pass interference?
The league’s pass interference rule is unlikely to change, despite the Jets asking the league to redefine it. The NFL sees pass interference as a spot foul — the ball is placed where the foul occurred, with an automatic first down awarded — making an official’s judgment call worth up to 60 yards of field position on big plays. The NCAA caps that limit at 15 yards, a rule the Jets would like the NFL to adopt as long as the foul isn’t egregious.
There are pros and cons to each argument. Making the penalty a spot call gives an accurate reflection of what a play could have been before rules were broken when it’s called correctly. However, the recent proliferation of PI calls — there were 5.94 interference penalties per NFL team in 2009 but 8.66 in 2017 — suggests these calls may be swinging the competitive balance strongly in favor of the league’s wideouts.
Bad judgment can been a boon for stagnant offenses, like when the Patriots picked up a 32-yard gift in the AFC Championship Game on a play where A.J. Bouye did nothing but eat Brandin Cooks’ lunch on a deep route.
Making the penalty a 15-yarder would lessen the impact of an interference call, but it would also give burned defensive backs an incentive to bail out and commit intentional interference to spoil big plays. That’s a double-edged sword — but while it’s worked out so far for college football, the NFL wants no part of it. According to NFL.com’s Judy Battista, the Competition Committee is “lopsidedly against” a plan to cap interference penalties.
What else is in store for the annual meeting?
There will be reforms brought up for discussion that don’t come from the rules committee:
The Chargers have proposed making roughing the passer and defenseless receiver penalties reviewable by instant replay; they currently have to be called at the time of the foul.
Washington is taking that a step further with by proposing all personal fouls be enforceable after review.
A triumvirate of western teams — the Cardinals, 49ers, and Chargers — have also teamed up with a proposal that would limit the amount of early East Coast kickoffs each team would be forced to deal with each season.
Starting in 2016, touchbacks after kickoffs were moved to the 25-yard line on a year-by-year basis in 2016. The NFL will vote on making it a permanent rule.
Although not up for any vote, the owners will also get an update on the impending sale of the Carolina Panthers, who will reportedly cost the top bidder more than $2.5 billion.
This from Michael David Smith at ProFootballTalk.com:
Under NFL rules, the team that kicks off to start overtime is guaranteed one possession if the receiving team kicks a field goal on the first drive. But most fans probably don’t know exactly what “one possession” means.
Consider this scenario: Team A receives the overtime kickoff, marches down the field and kicks a field goal. On its ensuing possession, Team B throws an interception. But the player on Team A fumbles the ball, and a player on Team B scoops it up and runs for a touchdown. Who wins the game?
Under current NFL rules, Team A would win the game because Team B’s possession ended the instant a player on Team A intercepted Team B’s pass. Anything after the interception — including the fumble and the recovery and the touchdown — wouldn’t count. But under a proposed rules change, Team B would win the game because the new rule would allow the play to continue under normal rules.
In the NFL’s description of the proposed rules changes, this was not explained very clearly. The NFL described the proposal as, “If there is a turnover, a team may win an overtime game, even though it scores on its second possession.” We heard from some readers who didn’t understand what that meant.
What it means is that common sense will apply, if this proposed rule is implemented. And it will mean defensive players need to know to go down if they intercept a pass to clinch a victory in overtime.
Carson Palmer’s brother Jordan has become the go-to coach for aspiring QBs. The other day, he was gushing about one pupil, SAM DARNOLD. But in terms of throwing the ball, he is absolutely in love with Wyoming’s JOSH ALLEN. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
For all of those who think that Sam Darnold to the Browns at No. 1 is a done deal, not so fast. Jordan Palmer, who trains both Darnold and Josh Allen, believes the Browns will also be blown away by Allen during his Pro Day Friday at Wyoming.
“I’ve never seen anybody like him,” Palmer, a former NFL quarterback, told cleveland.com at the NFL Combine earlier this month.
Palmer, who will run Allen’s Pro Day like he did Darnold’s on Wednesday, is on record as saying that ‘both will be studs’ and ‘franchise dudes’ the Browns can’t go wrong with either one.
But he’s confident eyes will be popping during Allen’s Pro Day and that more ‘oohs’ will escape from grizzled evaluators like they did during the combine when he hurled a 65-yard pass. He also thinks that Allen will make it very hard for the Browns to pass on him at No. 1.
“I think he’ll have three or four misses on his Pro Day out of 70-75 throws, which will be the gold standard,” said Palmer. “I think he’ll have one of those Pro Days everybody talks about for the next decade.”
Palmer, a former NFL quarterback and the younger brother of Carson Palmer, the former No. 1 overall pick of the Bengals and a three-time Pro Bowler said Allen has “got the craziest arm I’ve ever seen and there’s a chance he runs 4.6 (in the 40 — he ran 4.75 the combine). He’s 6-5, 6-6-ish.”
He added, “those are quantifiable things. Those aren’t the ‘spirit of this kid is unique. There’s some of that stuff that’s amazing too but just the things that you can literally sit there watch and quantify, it’s crazy.”
Palmer, who played for the Redskins, Bengals, Jaguars, Bears, and Titans, compared Allen’s potential to that of Houston’s Deshaun Watson, whom he also trained before the 2017 draft. Watson lit it up for the Texans last season, with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions before tearing his ACL.
“Is (Allen) as good as he’s going to get? Or is he capable of way more?” said Palmer. “The perfect example is last year with Deshaun Watson. People could talk about, they didn’t know how smart he was because he played in such a simple system. Well I spent six years, but really the last three months being with him and I realized that he’s going to be a way better pro than he was in college because they ran a simple system not because of him.
“They ran a simple system because that’s what they run and it’s working But I knew that once he got in with a guy like Bill O’Brien, he’s actually capable of doing everything that the elite veteran 13, 14, 15 year veterans do. He’s going to be capable of that in the first two or three years and I think the same thing about Josh.”
Palmer, who’s remained close with Browns quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese from their days together in Cincinnati, also believes Allen compares to 2016 No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz. If that’s the case, the Browns have a chance to correct their egregious error of trading that No. 2 pick to the Eagles that season. Wentz, of course, went 11-2 last season with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions before tearing his ACL and LCL and missing out on the Super Bowl victory that he was partially responsible for.
“In terms of competitive temperament I think it’s really similar,” said Palmer. “Size, athleticism, arm talent, I don’t know that Carson throws it as well as Josh does in terms of velocity and arm strength, and I think that Carson Wentz is the MVP of the league, it’s not an indictment. But the way that they approach the game I think is similar. They’re obsessed with it, which you’ve got to be at this young age especially. And so yeah, I think there are some comparisons there.”
Of course, the big question with Allen is his accuracy and his 56.2 completion percentage, which scares the heck out of offensive coaches. But guess what?
“We’ve fixed it,” said Palmer.
He said with Allen’s poor completion percentage “there are two ways to look at it: one, what he’s doing mechanically, and then two what’s happening around him, receivers and the concepts and the coverages that they’re seeing and there’s a lot of complexities that go into both of those.
“From a mechanics standpoint you have to be athletic enough take an old muscle memory and create a new muscle memory. Take something that was an old habit and replace it with the new habit. With Josh, it was tied to his base and kind of where his feet are placed and how short his front stride is. And so making a small adjustment has made a huge impact.”
He said “the growth in accuracy that you’re going to see throughout the draft training process and throughout his transition into the NFL and to being a franchise starter, is going to be tied to that.”
As for the talent Allen had around him at Wyoming, Palmer said he was a man amongst boys.
“His tape is hard to evaluate, even for me, when I was getting to know him,” he said. “It’s hard to evaluate similar to Pat Mahomes because I feel like on tape — and I can say, this Josh can’t — he looked like an eighth-grader playing with the sixth-grade team. If you’re an eighth-grade basketball player playing with sixth graders, and you’re a right-handed dribbler, you’re probably never going to be in a situation where you have to dribble with your left hand. You probably don’t ever really have to work on certain things because you’re just bigger, stronger, faster than all of the other kids.