The Daily Briefing Monday, July 2, 2018

AROUND THE NFL 

Albert Breer says the NFL is going to allow alternate jerseys to be worn more often this year.

 

Want some uniform news? The NFL is relaxing its policy so that teams will now be able to wear their alternates/throwbacks or color rush jerseys on three occasions during the season. It used to be that teams could only wear the former twice, but this gives teams the option to wear them three times. The upshot? The Rams will probably wear the blue-and-yellow throwbacks three times, and should be able to avoid wearing the mismatched blue-and-gold jerseys with the white-horned helmets.

 

– – –

Texas is football country, so this poll result also reported by Breer should disquiet those advocating the NFL continue its social justice activism.

 

I think it’s worth paying attention to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll of last week, which showed that only 27% of registered voters polled in that state had a favorable opinion of the NFL. Those sorts of numbers don’t just affect ratings, they can affect sponsorships and partnerships that teams have established, and they certainly bring color to Jerry Jones’s aggressiveness on the handling of the national anthem rules. My sense is this was always way more about business than ideology for him.

 

NFC NORTH

 

MINNESOTA

This from Albert Breer:

 

The Vikings came into the offseason with four core players going into contract years: LB Eric Kendricks, DE Danielle Hunter, LB Anthony Barr and WR Stefon Diggs. And so good on them for having two of the four—Hunter and Kendricks—signed to very reasonable contracts before the end of June. Diggs and Barr could be trickier. All receiver deals have been complicated, to a degree, by the three-year, $48 million contract Sammy Watkins got in K.C. Barr, meanwhile, is difficult to value financially as a hybrid linebacker who’s become central to what Mike Zimmer and company do.

 

NFC EAST

 

PHILADELPHIA

So is a punch that results in a broken nose to a hotel employee less serious, about the same or worse than the behavior of which QB JAMEIS WINSTON of the Bucs is accused? 

 

ESPN.com on the one-game suspension of Eagles LB NIGEL BRADHAM:

 

Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham has been suspended for the first game of the 2018 NFL season, he said Friday on Twitter.

 

Bradham apologized for the suspension, which he said stemmed from a 2016 incident in Miami.

 

@NigelBradham_13

 I would like to apologize to my fans, coaches, teammates and the entire eagles organization for the 1 game suspension.This stems from a July 2016 incident and the matter is now resolved.I look forward to giving it my all this season and helping the team win another Championship

 

Bradham was charged with aggravated assault after he turned himself in to Miami police in July 2016 after an incident at the Hilton Bentley Miami/South Beach.

 

Bradham was in a group of customers at the hotel and began to complain to a hotel worker about the speed of service. The incident “escalated,” according to the police report, “when the defendant, without provocation, struck the victim in the nose with a closed fist, causing the victim to fall to the ground.” The victim suffered a broken nose, contusions and a cut lip.

 

Bradham accepted a deferred prosecution program last July, and the case was closed in January.

 

“We have been in contact with Nigel and the NFL regarding his suspension. We respect the league’s decision on this matter and we are disappointed that Nigel put himself in this position,” the Eagles said in a statement. “Nigel has taken responsibility and expressed to us through his words and actions that he has learned from his mistake. We will continue to be supportive of him throughout this process.”

 

The Eagles re-signed Bradham to a five-year contract in March. The deal is worth $40 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

 

Bradham had 88 tackles (five for loss) with a sack and eight passes defended in 2017 for Philadelphia.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

NEW ORLEANS

Will Sean Payton be in hot water with the NFL for having gambled away the Saints home jerseys when the Eagles come calling in November?  Mike Triplett of ESPN.com:

 

The Philadelphia Eagles will be wearing their green home jerseys when they visit the Superdome in November — thanks to a golf wager between coach Doug Pederson and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton.

 

Apparently the Super Bowl-winning coach kept his hot streak going when he was paired with Payton in the annual coaches’ golf outing at the NFL meetings in March. As they started playing together, Pederson said, “those competitive juices start flowing” and they came up with a few unique bets.

 

The first was the jersey wager to determine which team would wear their traditional home colors during the Week 11 game in New Orleans. It ended after an intense three-hole carryover.

 

“There’s a good chance it involved me being in the water,” recalled Payton, who also lost a bet that required him to send a sampling of New Orleans food to the Eagles’ coaching staff.

 

“Hey, if I’d have kept playing, he’d have been in our locker room,” cracked Payton, who revealed the wager while on a conference call with Pederson and Arizona State coach Herm Edwards in advance of their appearance in the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe later this month.

 

Payton and Pederson said they thought wagers like that would be more fun than simply exchanging $20 bills or something — and they even joked about making the other kick off from the 15-yard line.

 

Afterward, Payton said he thought, “Well, how am I gonna explain this? We’re just gonna wear color-rush white or something. … But it made it a little bit more fun.”

 

Pederson, meanwhile, said he was excited to tell his owner and general manager about his victory.

 

“Obviously they couldn’t believe it,” Pederson said. “But we had a great day, it was fun, it was exciting. And listen, when those competitive juices are flowing, he wanted to beat me and I wanted to beat him. That’s just the way it goes.”

 

 

TAMPA BAY

QB JAMEIS WINSTON and his agents have parted ways.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com thinks he fired them:

 

Somehow, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston‘s representatives managed to persuade the NFL to suspend him only three games for sexually assaulting an Uber driver. Their apparent reward was to get fired.

 

NFLPA records confirm rumors that made their way to PFT HQ on Friday: Winston has parted ways with his agents.

 

Jameis has been represented throughout his NFL career by Greg Genske and Kenny Felder, a pair of baseball agents who had limited football experience.

 

As it was explained to PFT on Friday, Winston initiated the move. It’s nevertheless possible that the agents were the ones who decided to move on. (We’re currently trying to nail that specific fact down.)

 

By rule, Winston must wait five days before hiring a new agent. It’s unclear whether he moved on from Genske and Felder knowing who would replace them (if Jameis indeed fired them), or whether Winston simply decided to make a change.

 

If Winston doesn’t have someone else already lined up, he could have trouble finding new representation. Said one prominent agent when asked whether he’d want to represent Winston, the agent said, “Would you?”

 

Winston’s Uber driver – Kate – has issued a statement through her attorney, who also represented Erika Kinsman:

 

The Uber driver who accused Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston of assaulting her has released a statement through her attorney, John Clune, acknowledging the NFL’s work during its seven-month investigation that ultimately resulted in a three-game suspension for Winston.

 

“I am glad to see the NFL discipline Jameis Winston. I do appreciate his apology, even if it needs some work,” she said Friday.

 

“I would like to publicly acknowledge the NFL Investigators, particularly Lisa Friel and John Iannarelli, for their kind, professional and thorough investigation.

 

“My experience should highlight the importance of believing women when they have the courage to come forward about sexual assault. Perhaps that night could have been prevented if others had been believed before me.

 

“Mr. Winston once said, ‘Girls should be silent, polite, and gentle.’ I disagree.

 

“#MeToo”

 

Clune acknowledged that the investigation was stressful on his client, but that she is “handling it as well as you could hope.”

 

“We were pretty impressed with the league’s handling of this,” Clune said. “The length of the suspension can be debated, but from Day 1 it was obvious that the NFL took the matter seriously, both the process and the final outcome.”

 

He added that his client “is at peace with the final discipline handed out.”

 

Clune also revealed that Winston’s former Florida State teammate Ronald Darby, who came to Winston’s defense when the allegations first surfaced in November 2017, told the league something different than what he tweeted when he claimed he was in the vehicle with Winston at the time of the incident.

 

“We understand that Ron Darby’s statement to the league was that he no longer recalled the Uber ride in question and that his text messages show that he was still outside the International club as Winston was finishing the ride,” Clune said.

 

In a statement on Thursday, the NFL said Winston violated the league’s personal conduct policy “by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.”

 

The league began its investigation in November 2017 when the woman, who identified herself as “Kate,” told BuzzFeed that Winston reached over and grabbed her crotch while waiting at a drive-thru in March 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

 

NFC WEST

 

SAN FRANCISCO

QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO is selling a lot of jerseys.  Will Brinson of CBSSports.com:

 

1 – SAQUON BARKLEY, NYG

2 – JIMMY GAROPPOLO, SF

3 – CARSON WENTZ, PHI

4 – TOM BRADY, NE

5 – BAKER MAYFIELD, CLV

6 – NICK FOLES, PHI

7 – SAM DARNOLD, NYJ

8 – MARCUS MARIOTA, TEN

9 – DAK PRESCOTT, DAL

10 – EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, DAL

11 – JASON WITTEN, DAL

12 – ANTONIO BROWN, PIT

13 – AARON RODGERS, GB

14 – ODELL BECKHAM, NYG

15 – KIRK COUSINS, MIN

16 – JOSH ALLEN, BUF

17 – JALEN RAMSEY, JAX

18 – MITCHELL TRUBISKY, CHI

19 – ZACH ERTZ, PHI

20 – DEREK CARR, OAK

21 – JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER, PIT

22 – LAMAR JACKSON, BALT

23 – ROB GRONKOWSKI, NE

24 – RICHARD SHERMAN, SF

 

The 2018 NFL season is still a ways on the horizon, but the hype surrounding a bunch of rookies and some other potential breakout players has resulted in a surge in jersey sales for some young, upcoming players around the league.

 

Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley topped the list of most jersey sales over the early part of the offseason, according to the NFL Shop, but it’s 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who might be the biggest winner, as he managed to leapfrog over former teammate Tom Brady.

 

The Patriots quarterback, who is still the reigning MVP, checks in at No. 4 in most jersey sales from April through mid-May, but Jimmy G, the dashing young would-be franchise quarterback set to participate in his first full season as a starter for San Francisco, checks in at No. 2 overall.

 

It shouldn’t be surprising, perhaps, that Garoppolo jerseys are flying off the shelves; he’s getting an inordinate amount of hype this offseason. Vegas has pegged the 49ers over/under in 2018 at 8.5 wins, which would be a massive leap for a team that had just a single win before inserting Jimmy G as the starter. Garoppolo promptly ran the table, winning all five of his starts down the stretch, injecting life into the 49ers roster and fan base, prompting people to spend the offseason noting he’s never lost and comparing him to Brady.

 

Special shoutout to Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey — who happens to be the highest-ranked defensive player, checking in at No. 17 on the list — for stepping up and hitting the brakes on this out of control freight train.

 

Also notable from this list are the pair of Eagles quarterback on the list — both Carson Wentz (No. 3) and Nick Foles (No. 6) check in on the NFLPA’s top sellers through the middle of May.

 

This might be even more surprising than seeing Jimmy G threaten the top spot. Garoppolo is at least a new guy for the 49ers and people are literally buying in on his potential success as a first-year starting quarterback in San Francisco. It’s the same logic as seeing Baker Mayfield (No. 5) and Sam Darnold (No. 7) on this list. They’re young, they’re new and people are excited about seeing them on the field full-time.

 

For Wentz and Foles, we’re talking one guy entering his third season in the NFL. People have been able to buy Wentz jerseys forever. Foles is a freaking backup quarterback. But it might also be a bump coming off the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl win. With Philly rolling through the playoffs and taking the Lombardi Trophy, the city of Philadelphia and the Eagles fan base are riding ridiculously high. They’re willing to invest in the team and Wentz is QB1. Foles is the Super Bowl MVP and a folk hero in Philadelphia right now — he’s out in the streets signing books and telling people he is perfectly fine sitting on the bench and helping Wentz develop into a superstar.

 

Backup quarterbacks are always the most popular guys with a fan base, but Foles is the most popular guy for completely different reasons.

 

Also interesting on here is Marcus Mariota at No. 8. I don’t really get it, unless Titans fans are just trying to hype up a new coaching staff and think that Mariota could be headed for a breakout.

 

Seeing a bunch of Cowboys on the list is hardly a shock, but it’s amazing to see them all clumped together. Dak Prescott (No. 9), Ezekiel Elliott (No. 10) and the recently-retired Jason Witten (No. 11), who won’t ever be wearing a Cowboys jersey on the field again, are all in lockstep.

 

A bunch of other young quarterbacks, or quarterbacks on new teams, are on the list as well. Kirk Cousins (No. 15) is getting Vikings fans enthused about the coming season, Josh Allen (No. 16) is the most popular guy on the Bills and Mitchell Trubisky (No. 18) is getting the Mariota treatment as well, with people hyped to see him under a new coaching staff.

 

Derek Carr (No. 20) also made the list, so maybe the new coach bump is real. Lamar Jackson (No. 22) is breathing down Joe Flacco’s neck on the field, but blitzed past him in terms of jersey sales.

 

The only other defensive player joining Ramsey on the top 25 is Richard Sherman (No. 25) and his new 49ers jersey. It’s just further proof that the excitement surrounding the 49ers is very much real.

 

 

SEATTLE

It looks like the end of the line for S KAM CHANCELLOR.  NFL.com:

 

Kam Chancellor has yet to make an official decision on his football future, but it appears the Seattle Seahawks’ Pro Bowl safety has played his last game. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Chancellor doesn’t believe he will be cleared to play again after recent scans didn’t show adequate progress.

 

Chancellor discussed the developments during a long post on social media:

 

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that because Chancellor has not officially retired, his $6.2 million and $5.2 million base salaries for 2018 and ’19 remain guaranteed.

 

A fifth-round pick in 2010, Chancellor developed into one of the NFL’s premier safeties and, along with defensive backs Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, became one of the founding members of the Seahawks’ famed “Legion of Boom” secondary. From 2011 to 2016, Seattle never finished outside the top 10 in total defense or points allowed while Chancellor earned four Pro Bowl nods and two second-team All-Pro honors.

 

However, a neck injury limited Chancellor to a career-low nine games last season. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said back in January that Chancellor would “have a hard time playing football again,” further clouding his future.

 

Chancellor’s apparent departure, along with Thomas’ ongoing contract holdout, leave the Seahawks without any original member of the Legion of Boom currently available. Only Thomas, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Byron Maxwell remain from the team’s 2013 championship defense.

 

With Chancellor gone, Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com notes that these aren’t the 2015 Seahawks anymore.

 

When the Seahawks blew out the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, they looked like they had a young nucleus of players who should be able to win more Super Bowls together. But the NFL moves fast, and now Seattle is down to just six starters remaining from the 22 players who started for them in the Super Bowl four years ago.

 

Kam Chancellor, who revealed yesterday that he’s no longer able to play because of a neck injury, is the latest starter from that championship team to go. He joins Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Clinton McDonald, Chris Clemons, Walter Thurmond and Richard Sherman as players who have left that great defense. Only K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas and Byron Maxwell remain — and Maxwell just re-signed this year, having spent time with the Eagles and Dolphins since leaving Seattle after Super Bowl XLVIII.

 

On offense, there’s been even more turnover. Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin are the only two of Seattle’s 11 offensive starters in Super Bowl XLVIII who are still on the Seahawks. Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate, Zach Miller, Russell Okung, James Carpenter, Max Unger, J.R. Sweezy, Breno Giacomini and Alvin Bailey are all gone.

 

It goes beyond the starters. Wilson’s backup, Tarvaris Jackson, is gone. Lynch’s backups, Robert Turbin and Christine Michael, are gone. In fact, basically all the offensive skill position backups — Jermaine Kearse, Sidney Rice, Ricardo Lockette, Luke Wilson, Derrick Coleman, Michael Robinson — are gone. Important players on defense who didn’t start the Super Bowl — Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel, Malcolm Smith, Bruce Irvin — are all gone.

 

The Seahawks have managed to remain a good team as they’ve lost a lot of good players, returning to the Super Bowl and falling just short the year after they won it, getting to the playoffs the next two years, and going 9-7 last year. But this year’s purge of aging veterans shows just how hard it is to keep a great team together. The days of teams like the 1970s Steelers are over. A great group of players just doesn’t stay together very long anymore.

 

AFC WEST

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Per NFL Draft Scout, the Chargers are happy with their first round pick, S DERWIN JAMES:

 

The Los Angeles Chargers are impressed with first round draft pick Derwin James.

 

James, a safety, was taken with the No. 17 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

 

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said James has done everything they have expected of him during the team’s offseason program.

 

“For the most part, he’s had an outstanding spring,” Lynn said recently, according to ESPN. “We’ve put a lot on his plate. He’s taken more reps of any (defensive back) on the team right now, and I think in the situations we’ve put him in he’s handled very well.”

 

Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley agreed.

 

“We’re trying to get him to see what he does well, what his skill set is like,” Bradley said, via ESPN. “What I love about him, even though he might be burdened mentally, it doesn’t slow his game speed down. He still plays fast.”

 

The Chargers drafted James hoping he would be a starter. They signed him a month ago to a reported four-year, $12.39 million contract, including a $7.1 million signing bonus.

 

Some draft observers considered James a steal for the Chargers at No. 17, as many mock drafts had the Florida State product possibly going in the top 10.

 

Baltimore Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said after the draft that the Ravens would have selected James had they not traded out of the No. 16 spot.

 

AFC NORTH

 

CINCINNATI

An update on the contract situation of CB DARQUEZE DENNARD FROM Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

 

Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard is in a contract year and is playing under his fifth-year option.

 

In reality it is his best – and perhaps only – opportunity at a big contract, one that will carry him into his early 30s.

 

And he knows it. But he’s vowing to not let it consume him.

 

“It’s not a thought at all,” Dennard said. “I’m just focused on football and trying to be the best Darqueze Dennard I can be, be the best football player I can be and help the team win. I mean, I’m not too much worried about contracts. That will figure itself out.”

 

A first-round pick out of Michigan State in 2014, Dennard is one of the more interesting financial decisions the Bengals front office must make.

 

“I think a lot of people was thinking ‘why?’ I haven’t done anything, I’ve been hurt. Why would they pick it up?” Dennard said of the noise surrounding the team picking up the option.

 

“But obviously they seen somethin’ and it just so happened I had a solid year last year, played all 16 games and I think I did pretty well. I think it kind of goes to that same mantra. If you do what you’re supposed to do, just be professional about things, everything will work out on its own.”

 

AFC SOUTH

 

JACKSONVILLE

Albert Breer proposes that QB BLAKE BORTLES has turned the corner:

 

The Jaguars had taken two penalties and were backed up to second-and-22 in the second quarter against the Ravens in London. And so coordinator Nathaniel Hackett called for a downfield shot to try to get a chunk of the yardage back. He sent it in. Baltimore was ready for it. Then a funny thing happened.

 

Blake Bortles dumped the ball off to Chris Ivory, who burst forward for 11 yards, which gave the Jags a more manageable third-and-11, and put them back in range for the 45-yard field goal that put them up 13-0. So on the next series, Hackett called the play again, and Bortles checked it down again, this time to Leonard Fournette.

 

“Why do you keep calling that?” Bortles asked, after that series. “It’s not there.”

 

“Blake, you were brilliant,” Hackett responded. “They all dropped down and you got it to the running backs.”

 

This, in a nutshell, is where Bortles got better last year, and it’s a piece—and not an insignificant one—of how the Jaguars broke through in 2017. It’s also why Hackett has optimism where others might not, that Bortles can still become the franchise quarterback GM Dave Caldwell and the team envisioned him to be four years ago, when the Jags drafted him third overall.

 

It might sound weird, but as Hackett saw it, the biggest thing Bortles had to learn was to play quarterback rather than just play football. The knock on him back in 2014, that he was raw, plays right into that notion. That checkdown was a response to it.

 

“I remember my first meeting with Blake [in 2015, when Hackett became Jacksonville’s quarterbacks coach], asking him, ‘Do you know what this means?’ Nope. ‘Do you know what this means?’ Nope,” Hackett said. “And I’m like, Oh goodness, we’ve got to go back to the beginning. And those are things that, once you process it, he may want to be like, ‘Let’s go out there and do it.’ And you’re like, ‘Hold on, buddy.’ And as a young guy, he was scrambling.

 

“A lot of the time, I don’t blame him, he just looked over at [receiver Allen Robinson], and threw him the ball. And he’s like, ‘Hey, that’s my security blanket, that’s what I was doing in college.’”

 

Turnover on the staff exacerbated the problem. Bortles’ first coordinator, Jedd Fisch, was fired after his rookie year. Long-time NFL OC Greg Olson came in to replace Fisch, and then he was fired midway through Bortles’ third year, with Hackett elevated to interim OC. A couple months later, head coach Gus Bradley was fired, and Hackett took the coordinator full-time reins under Bradley’s successor, Doug Marrone.

 

Bortles’ problems, at that point, weren’t fixed. So Hackett start from square one, and focused him on fixing his footwork and becoming a more efficient passer.

 

“He has such an aggressive mindset, and he’s so aggressive naturally, he wants to throw the ball down the field all the time,” Hackett said. “And he wasn’t necessarily playing quarterback either. I was giving him this footwork, this rhythm mindset, saying, ‘Hey, you don’t have to throw it down the field every time, you can get to a checkdown, you can get to a completion.’ That took time to develop.”

 

It showed up in spurts—like in that Ravens game—early in the season. Hackett could see true buy-in during a 27-0 win over the Colts in October. And it blossomed in a three-game stretch in December during which Bortles completed 65 of 91 throws for 903 yards, seven touchdowns and no picks.

 

The can’t-go-broke-taking-a-profit mentality then paid off in a sideways playoff win over Buffalo, with Bortles’ 88 rushing yards proving to be enough on a bad day for the Jags offense. A week later, against the Steelers, the payoff came, with downfield shots there because the threat of the checkdown was established. Bortles was efficient again at Foxboro in the conference title game defeat.

 

And it showed up again during OTAs in how Bortles can now, with a full year under Hackett, apply the offense based on what the defense is throwing at him. One example: Hackett called a shot play, and Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash was bringing the house. Bortles calmly checked to a run.

 

“It was basically, ‘I don’t want to throw the ball down the field,’” Hackett said. “And I’m like, ‘That’s what we’re talking about.’ He’s learning, we want this play for this specific look. That’s where you want to be. You look at the defense and the play call, and if we can’t get it, go to something else. That takes time and comfort in a system.”

 

It will be interesting to see where things go for Bortles from here, with a pretty loaded roster around him.

 

“We’re in a great situation, because we have a very good line, and we have very good running backs, which will allow us to run the ball,” Hackett said. “Now it’s going to allow us to be a lot more aggressive, because you can trust that Blake is going to make the right decision more consistently.”

 

Now, Bortles did have his bumps last year, to be sure. Even after the aforementioned three-game stretch, there were a couple clunkers to finish the regular season. But he got past those to play well in the postseason, and we’ll see whether that was turning a corner. Hackett seems to believe it could be.

 

 

TENNESSEE

No rest for QB MARCUS MARIOTA and his receivers.  Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

At the tail end of the Titans’ offseason program, quarterback Marcus Mariota said that he would be gathering the team’s receivers for workouts before the start of training camp later this month.

 

Mariota didn’t say exactly when those workouts would take place, but Jim Wyatt of the team’s website reports that the quarterback brought his teammates together in Nashville on Saturday and Sunday.

 

Wide receivers Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe joined Mariota and tight end Jonnu Smith for workouts in California early in the offseason. Wyatt reports some of those players were in Nashville over the weekend as well as others that weren’t involved in the first round of work, but there’s no full account of who was at these sessions.

 

Matthews and Davis missed time in the offseason because of injuries and the Titans are running a new offense under coordinator Matt LaFleur this season, so any extra work should be beneficial as the team tries to build on last year’s playoff appearance.

 

AFC EAST

 

MIAMI

The Dolphins may be reducing the workload for LB CAMERON WAKE in 2018.  Jason Hirschhorn of NFL.com:

 

Nearly a decade after emerging from Canadian Football League and coming off two of his strongest seasons, Miami Dolphins All-Pro pass rusher Cameron Wake might see fewer snaps in 2018.

 

“Could I play every down? Obviously, yes, I’ve shown that,” Wake said during an interview with the Palm Beach Post. “Is that in the best interest of the team? Is that in the best interest of myself? Question mark.”

 

Wake, now entering his 10th season in Miami, remains one of the most prolific pass rushers in the NFL and an integral piece of the Dolphins defense. He recorded 22 sacks over the past two years, more than any of his current teammates and among the top marks around the league over the same stretch.

 

Even so, Wake turned 36 this past January and has a significant injury in his recent past. The All-Pro defensive end ruptured his left Achilles midway through the 2015 season, limiting him to nine games and his lowest sack total since his first season in Miami. To keep Wake productive and preserve his health, the team could reduce his workload and feature him mostly in obvious passing situations.

 

However, the Dolphins must balance those interests against the need to generate a consistent pass rush. Wake accounted for more than a third of the team’s total sack production a season ago, with no other defender registering more than 4.5 individually. Even more of the burden could fall on Wake in 2018 after Miami released All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh earlier this offseason. Newly acquired defensive end Robert Quinn should help, but the coaching staff will depend on Wake to deliver another big year.

 

“I want to do whatever is going to help the entirety of the team, the entirety of the defense,” Wake explained. “So, if that means me being a third-down guy, let’s do it. If it means I have to start every down, I’ll take that role on, too.”

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

XFL

It is going to be well funded.  Steve DelVecchio of Larry Brown Sports:

 

Vince McMahon is committed to not repeating his mistakes with the XFL in the professional football league’s second go-around, and the financial commitment he is making proves that more than anything.

 

Rumors first surfaced that the XFL was making a comeback when McMahon sold $100 million of his WWE stock. That’s a sizable amount of money in itself, but XFL CEO and commissioner Oliver Luck told ESPN’s Darren Rovell that it only represents a fraction of the investment McMahon plans to make.

 

“People were focused on the $100 million, but the truth is that doesn’t even get us to the 20-yard line,” Luck said.

 

That math apparently is not an exaggeration, as Rovell notes that McMahon has told insiders with the XFL that he expects to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million.

 

So where is all the money going? Player salaries will be a lot higher in the XFL’s second attempt at success, as Luck says the average will be around $75,000, with players in higher demand making much more. Back in 2001, the XFL paid players an average of about $45,000 for the 10-game season. Another costly expense will be an insurance policy to cover player injuries.

 

“I’ve been at all levels of football and the importance of a broad-based insurance program cannot be understated,” Luck said. “There are very few participants who underwrite for this market anymore and it is obviously costly.”

 

Luck said the insurance policy is expected to cost more than $10 million per season. What he did not mention is his own salary, which will reportedly be nothing to scoff at.

 

There’s no questioning that McMahon is a smart businessman, as his success with the WWE is the primary reason he has an estimated net worth of around $3 billion. Some think he’s crazy for not learning his lesson when the XFL failed the first time, but McMahon’s financial commitment is an indication of how determined he is.