The Daily Briefing Thursday, July 5, 2018
AROUND THE NFL
Mike Florio on how a four-game suspension can become a two-game suspension for PED usage:
While reviewing the PED policy earlier today in connection with the Julian Edelman suspension, I noticed a provision I’ve either never seen before or at some point knew about and forgot.
The PED policy rewards snitching.
“The NFL Management Council may, prior to the conclusion of a Player’s appeal, reduce the length of the suspension and corresponding bonus forfeiture by up to 50% when the Player has provided full and complete assistance (including hearing testimony if required) to the Management Council which results in the finding of an additional violation of the Policy by another Player, coach, trainer or other person subject to this Policy,” the policy states.
So, basically, a player who faces a four-game suspension can potentially cut his suspension in half if he rats on a teammate, a coach, a trainer, etc. It’s unlikely that any player has ever done that, and it’s hard to imagine that any player ever would.
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The National Education Association loves Colin Kaepernick.
The nation’s largest group of professional educators bestowed its highest honor on Colin Kaepernick earlier this week for his efforts in advancing human and civil rights.
The National Education Association recognized the former NFL quarterback with its President’s Award for his work with his “Know Your Rights Camp.”
The camp, which provides resources to black, brown, and poor youths so they know about their rights as human beings, operates in New York City and the Bay Area.
Fully funded by Kaepernick, the camp derives some of its inspiration from the political legacy of the Black Panthers.
“The human and civil rights champions we honor tonight are the epitome of the fierce urgency of now that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke about in his ‘I have a Dream speech,’” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said at the ceremony. “Through their deeds and actions, they have demonstrated remarkable courage and conviction to stand up for racial and social justice.”
The NEA also honored Michelle Obama for focusing her attention on advancing opportunities for women and girls while serving as First Lady with its Mary Hatwood Futrell Award.
RB AARON JONES receives a two-game suspension.
The Green Bay Packers’ desire to utilize a three-headed running back committee approach in 2018 will need to wait until Week 3.
Aaron Jones has been suspended without pay for two games for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, the league announced Tuesday. The suspension stems from an early October 2017 arrest and marijuana-related charge, which he pleaded no contest in February.
Jones, a fifth-round pick of the Packers in 2017, appeared in 12 games with four starts. He totaled 448 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 81 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt in his rookie season.
With Jones out of the lineup to start the season, the Packers will lean on Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery.
Cliff Avril says that S EARL THOMAS may follow his heart to Dallas. The Dallas Morning News:
Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and the Cowboys have been linked every since he told Jason Garrett to come get him in December.
Thomas has been holding out for a new contract extension, adding even more speculation that Dallas could make a play for the Pro Bowler. Former Seahawks DE Cliff Avril added even more fuel to that fire.
Avril, who is currently a free agent, told Sirius XM NFL Radio that everyone in the Seahawks’ locker room knows that Thomas loves the Cowboys, and he even leaves work early to watch Dallas when the team plays on Monday Night Football.
.@cliffavril on @Earl_Thomas saying he wants to be in Dallas: Everyone in (the Seahawks) locker room knows Earl loves the Cowboys. He’d leave immediately after work just to catch them play MNF. We didn’t take it too serious. Whatever team he dresses up for he’s gonna do his thing
SportsDay’s Brandon George previously reported that the Cowboys and Seahawks had talked multiple times about a trade for Thomas, including during the draft. The dance will likely continue into training camp with Thomas holding out.
SportsDay’s Kevin Sherrington writes there’s only one way the Thomas saga should end, and that’s with the Cowboys:
The Cowboys have already prepped for Thomas’ coming by hiring his former secondary coach, Kris Richard. Not that it wouldn’t have worked out, anyway. But at least there’s no doubt about the fit.
Not only does Thomas make the Cowboys immensely better at free safety, he makes the competition at strong safety better between Woods and Jeff Heath while improving the depth.
Dealing for Thomas would explain why the Cowboys didn’t trade up a couple of spots when Derwin James unexpectedly fell out of the top 10 in the draft. The Florida State safety went to the Chargers at 17, just two spots before the Cowboys took Leighton Vander Esch.
If Earl Thomas is playing safety for you the next four or five years, it doesn’t matter so much what James does.
Is ALEX SMITH a better QB than KIRK COUSINS? The Redskins and Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com say yes:
Alex Smith was not a consolation prize.
After being mired for years in Capitol Hill gridlock concerning Kirk Cousins’ imaginary contract, Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden finally has a quarterback that he chose.
“We got better,” Gruden said of the team’s switch from Cousins to Smith, a claim that the coach sounds confident will show up on the field this season. I believe him.
Smith is now 13 years into a counterintuitive career. He’s a former No. 1 overall draft pick who doubles as a perennial underdog. He’s been traded twice, both times coming after excellent seasons. He’s a game manager who excelled throwing deep last season, a player derided for being boring despite being excellent at improvising with his feet. Smith has seen too much to believe that Washington is a permanent home, but at least there is no young hotshot on the Redskins’ roster ready to take his job. Gruden is invested; with money, with draft capital and with his words.
What looked like a marriage of convenience at first glance has potential to be a lasting solution. The Redskins have the pieces around Smith to prove a point that Gruden has not-so-subtly made for years:
It wasn’t all about Kirk.
‘More firepower than ever’
Smith has functioned best when playing point guard, distributing the ball in offenses that focused on matchups, not feeding the ball to one superstar. As loaded as the 2017 Chiefs were, this Redskins squad could have an even more diverse group of weapons.
The acquisitions of former Seahawks deep threat Paul Richardson and rugged rookie running back Derrius Guice have attracted most of the attention in Washington this offseason, but the return to health for tight end Jordan Reed, running back Chris Thompson and tackle Trent Williams will be just as crucial. Add that group to an offense with one of the league’s best slot receivers (Jamison Crowder), one of the best backup tight ends (Vernon Davis) and another deep threat with potential to make the leap (Josh Doctson), and the ceiling is the roof.
“I believe that we have more firepower than ever,” Gruden told Kimberley A. Martin of the Washington Post after minicamp. “Not to say that the teams in the past didn’t have any. I just feel good about our depth and the weapons that we have once they become healthy.”
The Redskins have at least two of everything. Doctson and Richardson can take the top off a defense and win jump balls at the point of attack. Crowder, Reed and Thompson all know how to find space over the middle of the field that the team’s vertical receivers help to create. Thompson is a passing-down standout and the perfect complement to Guice’s relentless, Marshawn Lynch running style. Davis is necessary insurance for Reed’s foot problems, and the team even has three quality tackles in Williams, Morgan Moses and Ty Nsekhe to help prevent one injury from capsizing the team. There is safety here in numbers, with flexibility to survive injuries and multiple candidates for breakout seasons.
Gruden deserves credit for being a rare constant in Washington. The Redskins’ front office has been rife with turnover, hiring and then firing former general manager Scot McCloughan, but the end result heading into 2018 is an offensive roster that makes sense. Perhaps that’s due to Gruden’s rare ability to coach and evaluate talent. McCloughan claims that Gruden saved the team’s 2017 draft class and identifies players better than some coaching greats like Mike Holmgren and Pete Carroll.
The deep roster, which also includes Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff, plays to Gruden’s strengths. Not unlike Josh McDaniels in New England, Gruden wants a roster versatile enough to shape-shift each week depending on the opponent. He just needs someone calling the shots who is sharp enough to pull it off.
Smith’s biggest asset
Most coaches drool when talking about arm strength. Gruden gets more excited when talking about a quarterback’s processing time.
“He’s the smartest person I’ve been around, without a doubt,” Gruden said about Smith this summer.
It’s hard not to think about Cousins when reading that comment. Gruden’s ambivalence about his former quarterback was not only reflected in contract negotiations, but in his occasionally acerbic public comments. Cousins was excellent in both the 2016 and ’17 seasons as a whole, but struggled badly in both Decembers. Gruden said that it’s hard to say Cousins was outstanding when the team went 7-9, a comment that Cousins politely took issue with after the 2017 season.
If Cousins had a fatal flaw in Washington, it was his tendency to hesitate before making a big throw. Cousins didn’t always pull the trigger when receivers were open, a point that Jay’s famous, beautiful brother pointed out on national broadcasts.
Smith has struggled with similar issues during his career, finding a better balance last season between playing smart and being too careful. There is a chance that Jay’s fraught relationship with quarterbacks could mirror his brother’s M.O. in Tampa, where Jon seemed to love them all right up until the moment they took a snap for him. It’s definitely the honeymoon stage at the moment.
“He’ll get the most of his receivers and offensive line because they’re going to want to play for him and they’re going to feel confident that he’s going to make something happen in a positive way or at least give it everything he’s got and take responsibility if something doesn’t work out,” Gruden said of Smith at the close of minicamp.
Whether Smith is an upgrade on Cousins feels beside the point. The rest of the Redskins’ offense should be better and Smith can execute Gruden’s vision. Gruden is quietly one of the league’s best play-callers and he wants a quarterback who can read the defense and see the same mismatches.
“That’s why we wanted to get a veteran quarterback here that can adjust to different schemes and alert on the fly,” Gruden said. “… We are not in here to build the team around him; the team is built and he has to lead it like right now.”
Those are the words of a coach unafraid to raise expectations, one who knows that a third straight non-playoff season could be fatal. They are words that shouldn’t faze Smith, who has already survived nine offensive coordinators and one Jim Harbaugh in a career with its share of playoff scars.
Both Smith and Gruden know there’s no guarantee they’ll ever have a better chance for success than with this team, this year. Both men should be awfully happy to have found each other.
The Falcons have signed first round pick WR CALVIN RIDLEY from Alabama.
With Ridley’s signing, 15 rookies are without pacts – and Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com has compiled the list:
Eleven of those are first-round choices, including the top four overall picks. In fact, only three of the top-10 picks have signed.
The 49ers, Browns and Giants all have two players left to get under contract.
OT Mike McGlinchey (1st round, 9th overall)
WR Dante Pettis (2nd round, 44th overall)
LB Roquan Smith (1st round, 8th overall)
QB Josh Allen (1st round, 7th overall)
RB Royce Freeman (3rd round, 71st overall)
QB Baker Mayfield (1st round, 1st overall)
CB Denzel Ward (1st round, 4th overall)
LB Darius Leonard (2nd round, 36th overall)
RB Saquon Barkley (1st round, 2nd overall)
DL RJ McIntosh (5th round, 139th overall)
DT Taven Bryan (1st round, 29th overall)
QB Sam Darnold (1st round, 3rd overall)
RB Sony Michel (1st round, 31st overall)
S Terrell Edmunds (1st round, 28th overall)
CB Mike Hughes (1st round, 30th overall)
QB JAMEIS WINSTON will be available to help out with nighttime feedings in September. Jenna Laine of ESPN.com:’
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and fiancee Breion Allen have a new addition to their home.
Allen, Winston’s high school sweetheart, delivered a healthy baby boy, Antonor Malachi Winston, on Friday.
The original due date was July 4.
Winston named the baby Antonor after his father, whom he is very close to.
According to Winston’s mother, Loretta, they chose Malachi as the middle name because it’s the family’s favorite book from the Bible, the last book of the Old Testament. In Hebrew, it means “my messenger” or “my angel.”
Winston was suspended the first three games of the 2018 season after the NFL determined that he inappropriately touched a female Uber driver in March 2016.
So ANT WINSTON could be a thing in the Draft of 2040.
Niners LB REUBEN FOSTER is suspended for the first two games of 2018. Herbie Teope of NFL.com:
The San Francisco 49ers will start the 2018 season without linebacker Reuben Foster.
Foster has been fined and suspended without pay for the first two games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s Conduct and Substances of Abuse polices, the league announced Tuesday afternoon.
The violations stem from a weapons offense and a misdemeanor drug offense, both of which were resolved during the offseason.
Foster pleaded no contest to the weapon charge, while the drug charge was dismissed after Foster completed a diversion program.
“Our organization understands and supports the League’s decision,” general manager John Lynch said in a statement released by the team. “Although we are disappointed that Reuben will not be with our team for the first two games of the season, we will continue to work with him on making better decisions and eliminating unnecessary distractions. We are encouraged to see Reuben take responsibility for his mistakes, and hopeful that he has learned from them as well.”
For his part, Foster held himself accountable for the suspension.
CB GAREON CONLEY fights back against his accuser. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:
Just before last year’s NFL draft, Gareon Conley was accused of raping a woman in a hotel room. Conley ultimately was not charged, but a year later the woman brought a lawsuit against Conley. Now Conley is suing her as well.
Conley filed a lawsuit saying she made false statements, damaged his reputation, hurt his draft stock and cost him multiple endorsement deals, according to TMZ.
In his lawsuit, Conley says the woman approached him and wanted sex, and that she went to police with a false story that he raped her afterward.
The Raiders chose Conley with the 24th overall pick in the 2017 draft despite the pending accusations. There’s no way to know for sure whether he would have gone higher absent the case, but most mock drafts had him going higher than 24th before the allegations surfaced.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Not everyone is in on the new location of the Chargers. Ryan Phillips of The Big Lead:
Dan Fouts played his entire 15-year NFL career for the San Diego Chargers and became a legend in the process. On Monday, during an interview with “Ben & Woods” on 1090 AM in San Diego, the Hall of Fame quarterback made his feelings for being connected to the Los Angeles Chargers abundantly clear. Spoiler alert: They aren’t positive.
When host Ben Higgins pointed out that Fouts was referred to as a “Los Angeles Chargers Hall of Famer,” Fouts said he would dispute that characterization. Then he dropped the hammer:
“Don’t ever refer to me as a Los Angeles Charger. I am proud to be a San Diego Charger.”
I’m sure Dean Spanos and his marshmallow-brained sons loved hearing that.
The suspension for WR JULIAN EDELMAN was upheld by arbitrator Stephen Burbank. Here is how ESPN.com reported it:
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman’s appeal was denied Tuesday.
His four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs stands.
Edelman focused on two key issues in his appeal, which was heard on June 25. The first was that the substance for which Edelman tested positive wasn’t one recognized by the league’s drug testers. The second, according to a source, involved a mishandling of the documentation and delivery of Edelman’s test results.
During the course of the investigation, it was learned that the NFL made mistakes in the manner in which the test results were handled. Edelman had argued that the mishandling of the evidence was one of the reasons he should have been exonerated.
Edelman could end up pursuing an appeal of his case in federal court.
Edelman, 32, missed the entire 2017 season after tearing his right ACL in the preseason.
With his suspension, Edelman will miss the Patriots’ games against Houston, at Jacksonville, at Detroit and against Miami. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 1 and make his season debut on Oct. 4 at home against Indianapolis.
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TE ROB GRONKOWSKI is optimistic about 2018. Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com:
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski took part in his only offseason work with the team at their mandatory minicamp in June and he said at that time that working out on his own was “the best thing for me” to get ready for the 2018 season.
It appears the approach worked. Gronkowski told former Patriot Willie McGinest this week that he is “super excited” for training camp and the 2018 season after a rejuvenating offseason.
“I am refreshed,” Gronkowski said, via NBC Sports Boston. “You know after the season, long seasons, how your body can feel and everything. I just wanted to see where I was at, and see how I can get my body feeling, see if I can handle it, endure it again, and I feel like I’m super ready, man.”
Gronkowski also said at minicamp that his camp was talking to the Patriots about a revised contract. Nothing’s been announced on that front, but it doesn’t look like that’s put a damper on his enthusiasm for his ninth NFL season.
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The Patriots may be doing a reclamation project on DE ADRIAN CLAYBORN. Jim McBride of the Boston Globe:
Clayborn pulled a quad muscle in OTAs but the injury apparently did not slow him down at all during the mandatory minicamp in June. The 29-year-old “turned heads and blockers” at pre-training camp workouts, “typically getting the jump on any tackles who were trying to keep him at bay.” Originally a first-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of Iowa, Clayborn spent the first four years of his NFL career and then spent another three with the Atlanta Falcons before signing a two-year, $12 million contract to join the Patriots in March. He has mostly been used as a situational pass rusher but did have a career high 9.5 sacks in 2017, although six of those sacks came in one game against a Dallas Cowboys team missing its left tackle. At least on paper, the 2018 version of the Patriots defense looks much more talented than last year’s unit.
THIS AND THAT
THOUGHTS ON NFL CONTRACTS
From OT RUSSELL OKUNG, who has served as his own agent recently and is on the NFLPA Executive Board, in an extended thread on Twitter (all from @RussellOkung)
(NFL GUARANTEED MONEY THREAD)
I will never understand how billionaire team owners have convinced the public that the players, who put their bodies on the line every week and make less than 50% of league revenue, are the “ungrateful” ones.
Considering football’s level of brute, immanent physicality, high turnover as well as the short life cycle of its participants, it would seem to me that NFL players are in the most need of fully guaranteed contracts.
Many argue that trying to compare the league-player dynamic in the NFL with other sports is apples to oranges. Yes & no. League revenues are skyrocketing, a monster media rights deal is on the horizon, the business of football will never be the same.
It’s up to us, the players, to decide if we want league ownership to finally respect us as partners. Truth is, there is NOTHING preventing agents from negotiating a fully guaranteed salary for an NFL player (see Kirk Cousins deal).
Only problem is that this rarely happens… BUT it doesn’t have to be this way…
Players want guaranteed money? Great! Rewrite the CBA. That’s right, we need an overhaul not a revision or an extension. Why?
For starters: the current CBA uses an antiquated revenue accounting method and salary cap rules take up a significant part of our collective bargaining agreement.
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One part of ownership’s reluctance to give players guaranteed money is the structure of our cap system, the “cap” consists of an intricate series of accounting rules that does not fully reflect actual transfers to the pockets of players.
Historically, the league has done a masterful job inserting language into the CBA to justify getting out of a “guarantee” or contract. Most headlines on the first day NFL free agency are misleading, even for players who are household names.
Superlatives attached to “highest paid player” is good for the media, but leaves many players wanting regarding actual cash by the finality of their deals. Press is nice but cash is better, especially with risk associated with our line of work.
It’s only fair that a player sign a contract and expect the other side to honor that, right? What ever happened to “Show me the money?”
I’ll continue… consider guaranteed money in our current system. Fractions of a team’s cap can be exhausted or locked in by what’s known as “dead money” or a payout to a player because of the form of guarantee…
at the time of signing, thus limiting the amount teams are willing to guarantee. The “funding rule” gives management the flexibility to tell a player they are SOL.
This rule had more of a purpose in the past as their were issues with owners making payroll but with billionaires clamoring to be owners and the bids of media rights being north of two billion, is this rule still relevant?
With all that said, there are additional judgments to make regarding plenty of legal language in the CBA that works toward the detriment of players and in favor of multi-billionaire owners. If players want change, demand it. 💯💯
I’ll keep going because I’m having so much fun.
Salary caps are one of several mechanisms that serve multi-BILLIONAIRE sports team owners to control and restrict the wages of millionaire players.
This from Mike Florio:
It’s the annual NBA free-agency frenzy, featuring B-level players getting more money than A-list NFL stars. Among other things, the money handed out to basketball players renews calls for fully-guaranteed NFL contracts.
This year, Chargers left tackle and NFLPA executive committee member Russell Okung took to Twitter to push the issue in an extended thread. While much of what he says is accurate, some of his arguments are unrealistic — including the notion that an “overhaul” of the Collective Bargaining Agreement is possible, given that the players likely won’t go without game checks for a year in order to apply maximum pressure to ownership.
The real question is whether NFL players can secure fully-guaranteed contracts, individually or via the CBA. It’s possible, with one important caveat: The contracts necessarily would be shorter, like the three-year deal Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins signed in March.
That would actually be a good thing for players. Look at the current contract squabble between the Falcons and receiver Julio Jones. With three years of his contract over and three non-guaranteed seasons to come, Jones has to hope the team will rip up the rest of the deal. If it had been a three-year contract, he would have been in the driver’s seat. As he embarks on the back end of a six-year deal, he has few options and limited leverage.
If the Falcons had been required to give Jones a fully-guaranteed deal, the team likely wouldn’t have committed to six seasons. And while some players may prefer the certainty and security that comes from four, five, or six fully-guaranteed years, it’s better to have three guaranteed years only than three guaranteed years followed by three non-guaranteed years, since the player will either be underpaid (and out of luck, like Jones) or overpaid (and out of a job, like former Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh) when the final three years of the deal arrive.
With fully-guaranteed contracts, some players (mainly franchise quarterbacks) would possibly be able to leverage five or six fully-guaranteed years. But what if the player is no longer justifying his pay? Teams would be required to continue to devote cash and cap space to players who aren’t carrying his weight, leaving less cash for players who are doing more to help the effort to win games and chase championships.
Shifting to fully-guaranteed contracts also would force the NFL to deal with the outdated funding issue. Introduced years ago to protect players from potentially insolvent charlatans, the requirement that guaranteed payments in future years be largely set aside in escrow now makes teams less likely to tie up so much money when the contract is signed.
So instead of clamoring for fully-guaranteed deals covering four or more years, players and agents should focus instead on negotiating two- or three-year contracts, getting as much of the amount as possible fully guaranteed. That will give players more opportunities to get new contracts, and it will ensure that players who no longer merit large paydays would be gobbling up cap space that would better go to the players who do.
And what have all those NBA contracts produced? Clay Travis tweets:
Wild. Adam Silver has created the least competitive pro sports league in American history. Well done.
BR Sports Picks
According to 5dimes there are just five teams with odds greater than +5000 to Win next season’s NBA Finals:
Actually, the DB would say the last tweet should be phrased as five teams with odds less than +5000 to win next year (which is 50-to-1).
The DB counts 21 NHL teams with odds of less than 50-to-1 to win next year’s Stanley Cup led by Tampa Bay at +900 and Nashville at +950.
There are 19 NFL teams at less than 50-to-1 led by New England at +650.
Even halfway through an unbalanced MLB season there are 14 teams at less than 50-to-1.
We did find some different NBA odds at Forbes.com that have 8 teams at under 50-to-1 and 3 others at that number.
Golden State Warriors -110
Los Angeles Lakers +350
Boston Celtics +400
Philadelphia 76ers +600
Houston Rockets +750
Oklahoma City Thunder +2500
Toronto Raptors +3000
San Antonio Spurs +3500
Portland Trail Blazers +5000
New Orleans Pelicans +5000
Minnesota Timberwolves +5000
Here are his plans for a Hall of Fame acceptance speech. He will give it in Chattanooga. Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com:
Terrell Owens announced some time ago that won’t be in Canton for the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies this August and he revealed his plans for the day on Twitter Tuesday.
Owens announced that he will head back to his alma mater while the rest of this year’s class gathers in Ohio. Owens will give a speech at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga’s McKenzie Arena. The public is invited to attend the event free of charge and it will start at 3:17 p.m. on Saturday, August 4.
“After giving it much thought I have realized just how much I want to celebrate what will inevitably be the best weekend of my life at a place that means so much to me. … I’m proud to be a Moc, and I’m honored to share this experience with my family, friends, teammates and fans at the place that provided me an opportunity beyond high school and where I truly began to find myself as an athlete. Thank you to everyone who has supported my celebration decision. I look forward to seeing you all in Chattanooga. Getcha popocorn ready!”
There’s no word about where any broadcast of Owens’ speech might take place for those who are interested in popping corn in places other than Chattanooga. The rest of this year’s Hall of Fame class will deliver their speeches at a ceremony taking place at 7 p.m. on August 4.