AROUND THE NFL
Last week, the DB floated the idea of a three-team deal between the 49ers, Redskins and Patriots involving KIRK COUSINS and JIMMY GARAPPOLO.
Now, someone (an agent, Jerry Jones?) is using NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport to float a 3-team deal with the 49ers, Redskins and Cowboys:
The Redskins, Cowboys and 49ers are flirting with the idea of an unprecedented three-team quarterback blockbuster.
The three organizations could soon discuss a trade that would send Kirk Cousins to San Francisco, Tony Romo to Washington and draft-pick compensation (including the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft) to Dallas, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday, via sources informed of the potential talks.
To be clear, the proposed swap is in a stage so preliminary that serious negotiations have yet to take place — and might never reach fruition.
The Redskins are in a quarterback pickle after handing Kirk Cousins unheard-of leverage by way of a second consecutive franchise tag. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is an avowed Cousins booster. After mentoring Cousins for two years in Washington, Shanahan attempted to trade for the former Michigan State star after landing the Browns offensive coordinator job in 2014.
When teams have asked the 49ers what they plan to do about the quarterback position, Rapoport added on Friday’s edition of NFL Total Access, they have responded, “Don’t worry. We are going to acquire one.”
From the Redskins’ point of view, per Rapoport, replacing Cousins with Romo would be a rare scenario that answers the ongoing quarterback question and allows them to move forward at the position without being hamstrung by a long-term deal.
Any three-way trade hypothetical naturally presents countless hurdles. For starters, the Cowboys would have to be comfortable with the idea of sending Romo to a division rival — an act of conciliation which should raise the reddest of flags in Redskins headquarters.
The last time a division rival sent a potential franchise savior to Washington, the Redskins were left holding the bag on the decline phase of Donovan McNabb’s career.
It doesn’t hurt the 49ers and Redskins to broach the subject with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Unless the deal is heavily slanted in the Cowboys’ favor, though, Romo won’t be wearing burgundy and gold in 2017.
A trip to the NFL Scouting Combine wouldn’t be complete without a fresh batch of trade innuendo. At this stage of the game, there’s little reason to believe the fanciful blockbuster will result in the two marquee quarterbacks changing teams.
If the DB was the 49ers, we would give up the number two for Cousins.
If the DB was the Cowboys, we would jump on getting the second overall pick for Romo.
It’s the Redskins part, getting Romo instead of Cousins, that would seem to require shoring up (the Cowboys current number 1? Other assets?).
Jerry Jones shot down the deal after it floated.
Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com says the Bears are the frontrunners for QB MIKE GLENNON, about to be a free agent after a run with the Bucs:
As for Glennon, he is clearly poised at the top of a very shallow starting quarterback free agent market and several GMs around the league believe Chicago has the strongest current interest in him and will emerge as the front-runner to land him coming out of the combine. The Bears love Jimmy Garoppolo but that requires parting with multiple significant assets and they seem convinced Glennon can do the job. I’d anticipate the money being in the Ryan Fitzpatrick range from a year ago – $12 million per season — with the chance to earn significantly more via production and incentives.
Charles Robinson of YahooSports.com thinks Glennon will sell himself short if he takes only $12 million per:
Multiple #NFL sources are pegging the free agent contract of #Bucs QB Mike Glennon as expected to land between $14-$15 million per season.
Darin Gantt at ProFootballTalk.com:
That sounds ridiculous on its face, primarily because Mike Glennon.
He has five starts since his 2013 rookie season when he was thrown into the fire, and none in the last two seasons. He’s only attempted 11 passes in the last two years while sitting behind Jameis Winston. But his market figures to be strong because he’s available without having to trade anything away or use a draft pick, and the Bears and Jets have already been mentioned as possible destinations.
And while the number causes you to reach for another cup of coffee and might give you flashbacks to Osweilerian excess, it’s really not that out of line.
There are 13 quarterbacks with deals averaging more than $20 million a year, and nine more making $16 million a year or more (taking you down to the Andy Dalton/Alex Smith/Sam Bradford neighborhood).
So while it’s a big number, especially for a Mike Glennon, it’s not out of line for a bottom-third of the league starter. And frankly, if you’re spending that kind of money on a Mike Glennon, that’s probably what the team around him dictates he’s going to be.
It may or may not be with the Packers, but DE JULIUS PEPPERS wants to play in 2017. Josh Alper at ProFootballTalk.com:
When the 2016 season was winding down, Packers linebacker Julius Peppers said that he wasn’t ready to talk about his plans for the 2017 season.
Peppers said he would “figure it out at some point” and that point has arrived with the new league year starting later this week. Peppers’ agent Carl Carey said that his client wants to be on the field in 2017.
“Julius, after taking some time to reflect during the offseason, has decided that he still has the desire and enthusiasm for the game, and his intention is to play a 16th NFL season,” Carey said, via ESPN.com.
Peppers is set to become a free agent this week and Carey said that he has spoken to the Packers about a deal that would continue Peppers’ stay in Green Bay.
The Cowboys love their coordinators. Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News:
The Cowboys are working on contract extensions for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
“Without getting into specifics, I want to use the words very good,” Jerry Jones said of the negotiations. “We are not ready to do any announcing, but it’s all good.”
Linehan and Marinelli signed three-year deals in January 2015 that paid each around $2 million annually.
Linehan has been the Cowboys’ OC since 2014. Marinelli was hired to coach the defensive line in 2013 before being elevated to defensive coordinator in 2014.
Marinelli discussed the importance of Dallas’ coaching staff continuity after a Pro Bowl practice last month.
“I think it’s really important,” Marinelli said. “It goes back to coach [Tony] Dungy for me. We kept our staff together until they got better jobs. You find teachers. Teachers are hard to find, that really want to teach the game. I think once you get really good teachers, and you keep working, then you got something special.”
And this training camp update:
The current plan is for the Cowboys to open training camp in Oxnard, Calif., travel to Canton, Ohio for the Hall of Fame game, return to California for their second preseason game – possibly against the Raiders – and then return to The Star in Frisco for the remainder of camp. Jerry Jones said Saturday that fans will be allowed to attend practices at The Star.
The Redskins have given Coach Jay Gruden a historic two-year extension. John Keim at ESPN.com:
The Redskins have signed coach Jay Gruden to a two-year contract extension, according to a source.
Gruden, who turned 50 on Saturday, had two years left on his original five-year deal, all of which was guaranteed. The extension now runs through the 2020 season.
This marks the first time Redskins owner Dan Snyder has extended a head coach since he bought the team in 1999. In fact, no head coach has lasted more than four years under Snyder. He has had seven head coaches and one interim coach during his tenure.
The move comes amid uncertainty at other levels of the organization, with questions surrounding the Redskins’ general manager and starting quarterback.
GM Scot McCloughan is not at the NFL scouting combine with the rest of the Redskins brass this week. The team said McCloughan is tending to a family matter — his grandmother died recently — and he will return to the job once the matter is resolved.
The Redskins also are trying to work out a long-term deal with starting QB Kirk Cousins. They have placed the exclusive franchise tag on Cousins but face the prospect of losing him after this season if a new contract isn’t struck. They could trade Cousins too.
Gruden’s presence provides a level of stability within the organization. In his first three seasons, Washington went 21-26-1. However, it has gone 17-14-1 the past two years, with an NFC East title in 2015. It is the first time Washington has posted consecutive winning seasons since 1996-97.
This season, Gruden will be working with two new coordinators: Greg Manusky on defense and Matt Cavanaugh on offense.
The Washington Post is quick to find and print the quotes of anonymous sources that say the administration in Washington is in disarray:
As the NFL Scouting Combine nears its close and the first rush of free agent shopping approaches, confusion continues to swirl around the Washington Redskins and their absent General Manager Scot McCloughan.
In hotel lobbies, along the halls of the Indiana Convention Center, over meals in high-priced restaurants and over drinks in dimly lit bars, opposing coaches, officials and scouts, player agents and reporters can’t help but ask about the absence of Washington’s top talent evaluator at the league’s premier proving ground event.
Redskins officials downplayed the seriousness of the situation — described only as “family matters” — and expressed confidence that they have enough people capable of conducting evaluations to ensure that they have all the information they need to compile their draft board once they return to Ashburn. It’s possible that McCloughan will resume leading draft-planning meetings this coming week, team President Bruce Allen said.
But many outsiders, namely agents of potential free agent targets, including some of Washington’s own players with expiring contracts, aren’t sold. They expressed concern that there was more to McCloughan’s absence than the Feb. 6 death of his 100-year-old grandmother. People also worried about the significance of the perceived organizational dysfunction.
One agent who had contact with Redskins officials during the week in Indianapolis described his impression of the franchise as “in disarray.” Another said, “I’m not exactly sure who’s in charge over there now.”
Two representatives of prominent free agents on other teams said the uncertainty surrounding McCloughan’s standing within the organization, plus earlier reports of division in the front office, would prompt them to steer their clients clear of the Redskins.
Given that Washington officials had already indicated a plan to primarily pursue second-tier free agents, it’s possible the uncertainty surrounding McCloughan might not have much of an impact on their plans. The players Washington might target would likely be less selective in their desired destinations, instead more eager for opportunities for bigger roles.
That’s a positive considering the Redskins enter free agency with a slew of needs — with defensive end, defensive tackle and linebacker leading the way.
Political and etymlogical aside:
In an era (if an era can last a couple of months) when charges based on secretive sources and minimal evidence are flying both ways the DB finds it fascinating that the term “trumped-up” existed for such things before the 45th President existed.
The actual history of the word appears to have something to do with bridge and/or the musical instrument the trumpet:
What’s the origin of the phrase “trumped up,” used to describe false and/or frivolous accusations of a crime or impropriety, as in “trumped up charges”? — Allan Pratt.
Onward. There are two main senses of “trump” as both a noun and a verb in English. The older verb “to trump,” first appearing in the 14th century, means simply “to blow or sound a trumpet” (or, as we also say in fuller form, “to trumpet”). The “trumpet” itself takes its name from a Germanic root that was probably echoic, i.e., intended to imitate the actual sound of a trumpet. The Italian form, “tromba,” begat “trombone” (meaning literally “large trumpet”), which passed into English in the early 18th century, making high-school marching bands possible.
The other “trump” comes from card games, specifically the use of “trump” to mean a card which ranks above the others in play, i.e., a winning card. This “trump,” which first appeared in English in the 16th century, is simply a corruption of the word “triumph,” and the word seems to have been taken from a now-obsolete card game called “triumph” or (don’t ask me to explain this) “ruff.”
The “winning card” sense of “trump” spawned a range of figurative uses, including the verb “to trump” meaning “to beat” or “to frustrate by impeding” (“Bob found that his co-worker’s access to Yankees tickets trumped his own diligence in the eyes of his boss”). By the 17th century, “to trump” was being used to mean “to bring forward, to allege” with the sense of concocting an allegation in order to gain an advantage over an adversary. From there it was a short jump to “trump” meaning “to forge, fabricate or invent,” and the “trumped-up charge” was born.
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Gruden may be without one of his best defenders to start the 2017 season according to the Washington Post:
Washington Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancement drugs, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation. The suspension is currently being appealed by Murphy. If upheld, he would miss the first four games of the 2017 NFL season.
Redskins senior vice president of communications Tony Wyllie declined comment Sunday evening and deferred to the NFL and the NFL Players Association. The NFL also declined and the players’ union did not respond to an email request.
Murphy, 26, had a breakout season in 2016, recording a career-high nine sacks and three forced fumbles in 16 games, as part of a three-man pass rushing rotation for Washington with Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith. He had recorded six sacks and three forced fumbles in 31 games during his first two seasons with the Redskins.
Selected in the second round out of Stanford in 2014 during a draft in which the Redskins did not have a first round pick, Murphy hadn’t lived up to expectations during the start of his career as an outside linebacker. He was effective against the run but struggled as a pass rusher, finishing with just 3.5 sacks in 14 starts during the 2015 season.
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Daniel Mano of the San Jose Mercury News channels a report from the Boston Globe that the Raiders are interested in TE MARTELLUS BENNETT:
Running back may not be the only offensive position the Raiders upgrade this offseason.
Veteran tight end Martellus Bennett is on the Raiders’ radar, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
Volin reported that the Patriots are still interested in bringing back Bennett, who had 701 yards and seven touchdowns receiving for New England last season, and the Jaguars are also intrigued.
Bennett, a Pro Bowler while with the Bears in 2014, would seemingly be a better pass-catching option at the TE position for quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders’ leader there last season was Clive Wofford, who had 359 yards and three touchdowns receiving.
The Browns seem to have targeted QB TYROD TAYLOR. Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com:
The quarterback shuffle in the NFL is about to begin and two of the first dominoes to fall should be Mike Glennon and Tyrod Taylor. A Tony Romo or Jimmy Garoppolo trade could take some time to develop, while the Redskins now have until July 15 to get a long-term deal done with Kirk Cousins.
The Bills do not plan to retain Taylor at his current contract , according to sources, as they continue to meet with agents for free agent quarterbacks and explore other options. And while the Bills have proposals at a lesser salary on the table, no one I’ve talked to here at the combine — general manager, cap guy or agent — can figure any reason why Taylor should accept anything from the Bills at this point. Especially with him being coveted as a free agent.
League sources said the Browns have significant interest in Taylor as a free agent. Taylor has strong ties to some on the Browns staff already and if/when he hits the open market I would be shocked if the Browns don’t make a real push for him. Many in the league believe that’s where he will end up — he’s young and athletic and protects the football and has upside. That would allow the Browns to take the two best players available with their two first-round picks — beginning with Myles Garrett first overall. The Browns also continue to try to push to retain pending free agent receiver Terrelle Pryor to have some weapons for the new QB.
Need a defensive tackle? Call the Jaguars. Or wait for these guys to be cut. Ryan O’Halloran at Jacksonville.com:
When the Jaguars opened last year, their defense had seven newly-acquired players active, including five starters, in the loss to Green Bay.
This year’s defense may be undergoing a similar re-model.
NFL/Jaguars Insider: Prince Amukamara part of cornerback free-agent market (again)
Strong-side end Jared Odrick was released last month, and on Saturday, a league source said the Jaguars are shopping defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks and will likely release cornerback Davon House in the next few days.
Marks and House are both former starters who lost their spots because of injury (Marks) and performance (House). Their departures would create more than $10 million in salary cap space.
Last season, Marks and House were both critical of the coaching staff for their lack of playing time. While it would be easy to connect the dots, it would also be a stretch to think the Jaguars would cut them for their comments if they still believed they were productive.
Another sign of the kinder, gentler Bill Belichick. Mike Reiss at ESPN.com:
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick “crashed” NFL Network’s combine broadcast Sunday afternoon, spending time in the press box and then taking host Rich Eisen’s headset so he could chat with NFLN reporter Willie McGinest on the field.
Belichick and McGinest go way back, of course. McGinest played for the Patriots from 1994-2005.
“Willie, how are you doing, man?” Belichick asked. “I’m up here in the press box, where I’m usually not.”
“Hey Coach, you’re pretty much VIP all over the place these days,” McGinest responded.
Belichick, who was wearing a VI Rings sweatshirt, then told McGinest he hasn’t been in a press box since 1996 when he was a special assistant/secondary on Bill Parcells’ Patriots staff.
At that point, analyst Mike Mayock, whom Belichick has spoken highly of over the years, asked McGinest about his best memories with Belichick. The two reminisced a bit, with Belichick reflecting on his best memories of McGinest, recalling two games against the Indianapolis Colts. With the combine held in Indianapolis, the memories were timely.
“You know, Willie, one of my best memories is right here on this field [the old RCA Dome] when you made the short-yardage stop against the Colts [in 2003],” Belichick said. “And then the next year, we opened with them, and you made the sack that took [Mike] Vanderjagt out of field-goal range. I think that’s where [Mike] Vrabel got them on the fake timeout, too, and then they changed the rule on that. But anyway, you got the Colts back to back, two years in a row — here and in Foxborough.”
That led to laughter from Mayock, with McGinest joking that when he talks about those plays, he doesn’t receive top-level service in Indianapolis.
Belichick took that one and ran with it.
“Trust me, Willie, when I came to Indianapolis, they threw stuff at me, yelled at me and everything else. Then when I went for it on fourth-and-2 [in 2009] and we got stopped, ever since then it’s been ‘Hey Coach, good to see ya. How is it going?'”
Lots of smiles and laughter after that one.
THIS AND THAT
FREE AGENT VALUE
Conor Orr at NFL.com says these guys will get too much money when they hit the market at the end of the week:
Here’s how I see it, with players listed in no particular order:
Mike Glennon, quarterback
In December, ESPN’s Adam Schefter suggested the former third-round pick with 18 NFL starts to his name “could fetch $13-15 million per year on his next deal,” which caused widespread outrage among nameless eggs on Twitter, but should not have. There is a lack of quality starters on the market and a handful of teams that need one. Over 21 lifetime appearances, Glennon has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes with a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (30:15 in total) and an average passer rating hovering around 90. My hesitation regarding Glennon, however, comes when looking at some of the other available options. If you’re devoting that level of resources already, why not commit fully and do whatever it takes to woo one of the more proven options on the market? Teams that find themselves in this market more often than not almost always seem to be in a perpetual haze, a few steps below where they need to be.
Dontari Poe, defensive tackle
Contract site Spotrac.com calculated Poe’s market value and suggested he’s worth a five-year, $61 million deal with an average value of $12.1 million per year, though no one knows how exactly the interior tackle market will form, given the lack of competition (presuming Kawann Short is franchise-tagged by the Panthers). (The site used contracts given to Muhammad Wilkerson, Gerald McCoy and Marcell Dareus in its calculation.) Damon Harrison, who signed a five-year, $46.25 million deal last year, was a revelation for the Giants, with his absence from the Pro Bowl constituting a glaring snub. Would Poe be worth $3 million-plus more per year than someone like Harrison? According to Next Gen Stats, Harrison’s max speed is slightly quicker, but Poe can cover more ground. Personally, I think Poe is a slightly more versatile player, as he played a majority of his snaps in a defense that featured just two down linemen, three linebackers and six defensive backs. As my colleague Kevin Patra noted, his highs can be higher. You’re simply betting that a long-term commitment to Poe will be more fruitful than, say, a short-term commitment to some of the other, cheaper veterans on the market, like Nick Fairley. Fairley can do less and is more effective on a bigger front, but could be significantly less costly.
For the record: If I were, say, the Colts, then I’d have to do it. But for a team looking at anything less than an extreme makeover, it might not be worthwhile.
DeSean Jackson, wide receiver
Jackson’s home-run ability cannot be discounted. I’m convinced the extra dimension he added to an already punchy Redskins offense helped lift Kirk Cousins from good starter to top-of-market quarterback this offseason. But it’s going to be difficult to pinpoint the value of a 30-year-old speed wideout, because there aren’t a ton of accurate comparisons out there. He is going to be worth more than the two-year, $11.5 million deal Mike Wallace signed with Baltimore last year. But will alleged competition between the Buccaneers, Eagles and others looking to make a splash drive him up and over the two-year, $22 million deal Larry Fitzgerald signed with the Cardinals when he was 31? I’m not concerned about Jackson’s speed diminishing (according to Next Gen Stats, his top-end speed actually improved from 2015), but he does need a very specific set of circumstances to succeed. Will it be worth $8-11 million to find out?
Johnathan Cyprien, safety
Cyprien picked the perfect time to have a bounceback season. His 2016 campaign with Jacksonville was easily among the top 10 for his position (Pro Football Focus rated him the seventh-best safety in football), and he enters the market without a ton of competition (presuming the Chiefs apply the franchise tag to Eric Berry). An interesting contract comparison would be another former second-round pick, Broncos safety T.J. Ward, who inked a four-year, $22.5 million deal back in 2014. But with the raises in the cap ceiling over the past three years, one would imagine Cyprien will fetch more on the open market. Would that type of commitment be worth the risk? Cyprien undoubtedly has a high ceiling, but he will now be thrust into a different system without the same responsibilities. The safety position is notoriously underpaid to begin with, which means that there can be some solid values for teams looking to avoid the long-term commitment.
Chance Warmack and Luke Joeckel, offensive linemen
As they’ll be doing with good defensive backs, teams are going to be clamoring for interior offensive line help this offseason. In today’s NFL, it is a necessity. While both Warmack and Joeckel will be extremely difficult to value, their status as former first-round picks (in Joeckel’s case, he was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft) could complicate things. The Minnesota Vikings alone could be in the market for half of the top-end offensive linemen available this offseason, and teams with tenured O-line coaches will believe they can get the best out of under-performing first-round picks.
And these are Orr’s prospective bargains:
Here is a list of impending free agents who could represent the greatest value on the open market.
Dont’a Hightower, inside linebacker
I know what you’re thinking. Hightower will be paid at the top of the market for his position and cost well in excess of $10 million per season, so how can he be considered a bargain? Should Hightower be paid as the highest inside linebacker in the league, he’ll have to clear the $12,360,313 per-year average currently being made by Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. While there is an easy argument that Kuechly is a superior sideline-to-sideline player, Hightower is also a more disruptive pass rusher and has a more versatile skill set, given the breathable Patriots scheme.
With every team getting a generous bump in salary cap, buyers could easily justify the move if Hightower stays in line with the traditional inside linebacker salary structure. He is one of about 10 players in this class who could probably find a role on all 32 NFL teams.
Danny Woodhead, running back
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said he was interested in bringing Danny Woodhead back despite him suffering a torn ACL in early September last year. Woodhead is a 5-foot-8 running back who just turned 32, so he does not fit the traditional picture of what you’re looking for. But if he makes it to the open market, he could end up being a tremendous value for a team in need of a capable third-down back.
Over his last two healthy seasons (2013 and ’15), Woodhead racked up 156 catches for 1,360 yards and 12 touchdowns — while making less than $2 million in each campaign. The potential for re-injury is always there, but it could also whittle down the market despite the undeniable potential of a quick, sure-handed back who is hard to tackle and adept in pass protection.
Dwight Freeney, pass rusher
So what if Freeney just turned 37? Players are aging more gracefully in today’s NFL. Look at Steelers pass rusher James Harrison, who just signed a very affordable deal that locks him up through age 39.
Freeney was well worth the $1 million deal he signed with the Falcons this past year and, had the Super Bowl not turned out the way it did, would have been mentioned as instrumental in Atlanta’s pass-rush-heavy game plan. He finished the season with four total sacks, including one in the Super Bowl, but his pressure numbers tell a more complete story.
This is not to mention that Freeney is the consummate veteran who can aid a team drafting a young pass rusher. Is there a better influence out there?
Pierre Garcon, wide receiver
Garcon is not going to be cheap, but there is a lot to be said about a player who breezed through a five-year, $42.5 million deal with no incidents and consistent production. He was an excellent team player in Washington’s crowded receiver room and finished his age-30 season with 79 catches for 1,041 yards.
Garcon undoubtedly will benefit from the receiver market that could develop should DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery earn beefy contracts. That said, according to contract site Spotrac, the average deal — given his age and previous production — is about three years and $26 million. Garcon plugs in well with just about any offense and, as the receiver himself says, he’s more than just the “possession receiver” type he’s been labeled as in recent years.
If I am taking a risk financially on the open market, I’m betting on a player who did not get cut through five sometimes-turbulent years for the franchise, and a player who has not missed one game since the 2012 season.
Darrelle Revis, cornerback
We will find out a lot about Darrelle Revis in the coming months, but here’s what we know: Revis reportedly has hired an agent.
He set up his entire career so that, once it was over, money would not be an issue. So why do we think it’s going to be an issue now?
Having covered Revis for a few seasons as a beat writer, I can say he is one of the more prideful people I’ve been around. I hardly believe he’ll want to end his career as fodder for New York tabloids. If a legitimate opportunity were to present itself, I believe he’d work quite hard to re-write the end of his career.
Revis will not be paid like a top-tier corner anymore and the offset language in his deal will complicate matters once the Jets release him on March 9 — as will his pending legal issues, which, the Jets say, were not the reason for his release. But a rededicated Revis would be an enticing proposition, even if he costs a little more than your standard replacement-level corner. Now that the pipe dream of going down as a Jets legend with the retirement tour is over, he can plan his next move accordingly.
By all accounts (or at least many accounts), the QB who made the most money in Indianapolis was QB DeSHAUN WATSON of Clemson. Here is Rob Rang on the passing session:
The quarterbacks took center stage Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine, and just like two months ago in the national title game, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson was the best player on the field.
Throwing immediately after North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky (who also performed very well), Watson delivered accurate passes all over the field, showing impressive rhythm, balance and accuracy in the complicated five- and seven-step drop passes that he was rarely asked to make at Clemson.
The performance was reminiscent of the one Marcus Mariota enjoyed two years ago, helping to erase doubts about his ability to make a similar transition from Oregon’s relatively simple spread offense, ultimately catapulting him to the No. 2 overall pick.
Whereas Watson turned heads with his surprisingly polished footwork and consistent ball placement, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer was a stark and disappointing contrast a few hours earlier.
There is no questioning Kizer’s arm talent. The ball comes out of his hand as impressively as any quarterback testing this year in Indianapolis. He looked off-balance dropping back, however, and was sporadic with the placement of his front foot when stepping into his throws. As a result, Kizer sprayed the ball, forcing his receivers to adjust, including on relatively simple curl routes to right side in which on three successive passes he threw a very high pass, a well-thrown ball that would have hit his receiver in the chest and a very low one.
Trubisky, the top-rated quarterback on NFLDraftScout.com’s board, threw the ball well, showing the efficient set-up and delivery, smooth throwing stroke and accuracy that belies his 13 career starts. Before throwing, Trubisky also showed off his exceptional athleticism, officially clocking in at 4.67 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which perhaps appropriately enough was one hundredth of a second behind Watson’s best time.
Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes II and California’s Davis Webb also fared well in the afternoon quarterback session. Like Watson, Mahomes and Webb were each surprisingly smooth in their drops despite playing their entire careers in Air-Raid spread offenses. Mahomes has an absolute rocket for an arm and showed good trajectory on the deep ball and post-corner. He does have a three-quarters delivery that will be a concern for some, especially given that he measured in at “only” 6-foot-2.
Webb created buzz at the Senior Bowl and built upon that momentum Saturday. He was especially impressive on the deep dig routes, hitting receivers in stride on the throw some feel is the toughest quarterbacks are asked to complete in Indianapolis because it requires timing with receivers they’ve just met.
While Trubisky, Mahomes and Webb flashed, the day belonged to Watson, who was easily the most consistent passer to throw at this year’s combine.
From the deep balls and gauntlet drills early (that scouts use more to evaluate receivers than the quarterbacks) to the slants, speed outs, digs, post-corners later in the workout, Watson consistently hit his receivers in stride, an impressive feat given that he had likely only thrown to two of them (former teammates Artavis Scott and Mike Williams) prior to his combine preparation.
Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY and Chiefs coach Andy Reid saw the same thing:
Leave it to Andy Reid to put Deshaun Watson’s sizzling workout at the NFL scouting combine on Saturday into some sort of credible perspective.
Reid, the Kansas City Chiefs coach and renowned quarterback guru, shook his head and grinned while stopping in a concourse inside Lucas Oil Stadium to assess what he had just witnessed from the former Clemson star.
“Unbelievable,” Reid told USA TODAY Sports. “He had a great day. Every throw was on the money.”
That was no stretch, no puff to add to any pre-draft smoke screen.
Watson, in a group that included North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, whom some consider the highest-rated quarterback in the draft, was clearly in a zone during an hour-long session with wide receivers.
This was essential to his objective for the combine, where Watson came hoping to make a statement that will help him realize a goal of being the first quarterback selected when the NFL draft begins on April 26.
“It’s a goal that I wrote down and that’s what I want to achieve,” Watson told reporters on Friday. “But if it happens it happens. That’s out of my control. I can just be the best I can be in this process and continue to get better.”
Before Saturday, Watson was last seen on a football field in January leading the Tigers to a national championship and an upset victory of Alabama that avenged a loss in the title game the previous year.
In showcasing his arm before GMs, coaches, scouts and even a handful of team owners, Watson (6-2, 221) had the same zip he possessed on the night that he stung ‘Bama for 420 yards.
Sure, as these combine workouts go, Watson didn’t need to escape from a heavy rush. There were no defenses to decipher in a split-second. His targets were wide open. He threw against air.
But boy did he manage to sling it. What set Watson apart from the others — Trubisky included — was the strength, zip and the consistent accuracy on his deep throws.
Watson also did quite well in his 15-minute interviews according to a number of report.
This tweet from TheBenNation caught the DB’s eye:
“Deshaun Watson is undersized”
“Mitch Trubisky has prototypical size”
Watson: 6024, 221, 9 6/8″ Hands.
Trubisky: 6021, 222, 9 4/8″ Hands.
On the other hand, Trubisky surprised by exactly matching Watson in the 40-yard dash
#UNC QB Mitchell Trubisky and #Clemson QB Deshaun Watson both finish with the same unofficial 40-yard dash time: 4.67. Wow. 👀
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For every Watson helping himself, there is someone like Alabama G REUBEN FOSTER, sent home from the Combine in disgrace and now in damage control:
Former Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster has sent a letter to NFL teams apologizing for the incident that led to his dismissal from the scouting combine this week, according to NFL Network and confirmed by ESPN.
Foster got into a heated altercation with a hospital worker on Friday, multiple sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and he was sent home prior to team interviews Friday night and testing Saturday.
A league source said there was a “miscommunication” that allowed the argument between Foster and a hospital worker to escalate.
Foster had been waiting for an extended period of time for what the NFL calls his “pre-exam” when he grew increasingly impatient and began questioning a hospital worker.
The hospital worker did not take kindly to Foster’s words, and eventually the two were face-to-face in a heated exchange.
According to AL.com, Foster had said “nothing happened” in a live Instagram video posted Saturday.
Foster was Alabama’s leading tackler last season and a unanimous first-team All-American. He also won the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker.
He is recovering from recent rotator cuff surgery in his right shoulder and was not scheduled to participate in drills at the combine. In his video chat, Foster said he’d be out of the sling in a week.
“Everything ain’t perfect,” he said. “I’m good. I just have to think. I just had to sit back and relax and think about what I really want.”
Foster said he’s making himself available to any team that wants to speak with him on Tuesday, the day before Alabama’s pro day in Tuscaloosa.
Foster’s projected recovery timetable was about four months, a source told ESPN’s Adam Caplan, which is well ahead of the start of training camps in July.