Category Archives: NFL

Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson resigned to possibly playing NFL season on one-year deal

Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson sounded resigned to possibly playing the 2021 NFL season on a one-year deal in advance of the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to receive long-term contracts.

“I don’t have any [contract] updates or nothing like that,” Robinson stated on a videoconference call Wednesday.

“That’s not in my control, if I don’t [get a long-term deal]. That being a possibility [of playing on the one-year franchise tag], then, I mean, that is what it is and I’m comfortable with that. Obviously, that’s a possibility. That’s fine. It is what it is. As I said before, my main focus now is continuing to be better and get better.”

The Bears placed the $17.98 million franchise tag tender on Robinson after the two sides were unable to agree to an extension last year. The veteran receiver led the team with 102 catches for 1,250 yards in 2020.

Robinson, 27, skipped the Bears’ voluntary offseason workout program but reported to this week’s mandatory three-day minicamp. Robinson added on Tuesday that he will be on time to training camp when it opens next month.

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“At the end of the day, [the offseason workouts] are optional things, and I think I have a pretty good routine I’ve been working through and progressing in certain areas at the pace that I want,” said Robinson, who focused on creating more muscle endurance in the offseason to be more effective after the catch.

Since joining the Bears in 2018, Robinson has been far and away the team’s top wide receiver.

Despite playing on some of the league’s lower-rated offenses, Robinson has caught 255 passes for 3,151 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past three seasons.

“It was really good [to have Robinson rejoin the team this week],” head coach Matt Nagy said.

“You guys know I have a really good relationship with A-Rob, and anytime you have that quality of player that shows back up and gets out here in the huddle and just that experience that he brings, he just has such a quiet calm and confidence to him that you can see the guys out there throwing him the football and the things he’s doing, he just slides on in.

The one sneaky thing about A-Rob that I think is pretty cool is, No. 1, even if he’s not here, you know he’s working his tail off, and No. 2, he’s always in great shape, and we noticed that.”

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Minnesota Vikings bring back DT Sheldon Richardson

The Minnesota Vikings continue to prioritize their pass rush during mandatory minicamp.

One day after the team and defensive end Danielle Hunter agreed to a reworked contract for 2021, the Vikings brought back defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson on a one-year, $3.6 million deal with incentives that could elevate the value to $4.35 million, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Richardson, who played with the Vikings during the 2018 campaign, said he was approached by Minnesota several weeks ago with an offer and waited to sign until Tuesday after not working out a deal to return to Cleveland Browns, where he played 2019-20.

“You know, I started something there. Honestly, just couldn’t come to an agreement with what I wanted from Cleveland,” Richardson said. “And me being cool with the organization here and knowing everything with what Zim [coach Mike Zimmer] and Coach Dre [defensive line coach Andre Patterson] bring to the table for me … they put me in position to make plays earlier in my career. It was a perfect fit.”

The Browns released Richardson in April in a move that created $11 million in salary-cap space. He started 31 matches in Cleveland and registered 4.5 sacks during the 2020 season.

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This is the second time Richardson has signed a one-year contract with Minnesota.

In 2018, the 2013 first-round pick inked an $8 million deal with the Vikings and proceeded to notch 47 pressures and five sacks that season. That performance helped him earn a three-year, $36 million contract with the Browns as a free agent in 2019.

But this time around, Richardson doesn’t view his contract as a prove-it deal to earn another big payday.

“I’m proven,” Richardson said. “I’ve proven my talent last year, years ago and pretty much every year I’ve played in the league. The way the business works, they hold you five days before the draft and there’s no more money in free agency. You’ve got to take what they hand out.”

After concluding with a franchise-low 23 sacks in 2020, shoring up several areas along the defensive line has been a priority for Minnesota this offseason. The Vikings signed defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson to a two-year, $21 million contract in March.

Although Tomlinson is set to occupy the three-technique spot opposite nose tackle Michael Pierce, Richardson’s athleticism and physical tools will help Minnesota upgrade its interior pass rush.

“I get in where I fit in, simple as that,” Richardson said. “This will be the first year where I’ve not started, so I’m just getting in where I fit in.”

Richardson, 30, played primarily as a three-technique in Cleveland but has played several positions throughout his eight-year career, starting out as a defensive end with the New York Jets before being moved to outside linebacker.

Playing other positions on the D-line is something Richardson said he’s willing to do if needed. “It’s as simple as that. I don’t mind it,” he said.

“I’ve played outside linebacker before in this league, so I really don’t mind it at all. And I was 330 when I did that. I’m 286 right now and feeling good. Like I said, just trying to get back in football shape and let the chips fall where they [may].”

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WR Jamison Crowder agrees to pay cut to remain with New York Jets

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder, the team’s leading receiver the past two campaigns, evaded the possibility of being released by agreeing to a pay cut, a source confirmed Monday.

Crowder was due to make a non-guaranteed $10 million in base pay for 2021, the final year of a three-year, $28.5 million contract. Details of the renegotiated contract weren’t immediately available, but the new deal is anticipated to significantly lower his $11.4 million salary-cap charge.

The Jets are among the league leaders in cap space (about $27 million), but they approached Crowder recently about a reduction. Crowder, who turns 28 on Thursday, skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason as the two sides haggled over the contract. NFL Network first reported the agreement.

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The Jets’ mandatory minicamp starts Tuesday, and Crowder is expected to attend.

Coach Robert Saleh was optimistic that a deal would get done, saying 10 days ago that “Jamison’s definitely got a role here and we’re excited to have him.”

After signing receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole in free agency, and drafting Elijah Moore in the second round, the Jets had the leverage in talks with Crowder.

He led the team with 59 catches and 699 yards in 2020, but his production was down because he missed four matches due to leg injuries. The Jets also finished 32nd in total offense for the second straight year.

Even though Crowder is back, it will be interesting to see if his role diminishes in the regular season. Moore, selected 34th overall, has impressed the coaches in offseason practices.

Like Crowder, he’s a slot receiver. In another contract-related development, safety Marcus Maye reported to the facility Monday ahead of the minicamp. Maye, who signed his franchise-tag tender ($10.6 million) earlier in the offseason, skipped the voluntary practices as the two sides attempt to negotiate a long-term deal.

The deadline is July 15. If they can’t agree to a deal, Maye will play the 2021 season for the amount of the tender.

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Green Bay Packers sign QB Jake Dolegala after minicamp tryout

Make it five quarterbacks now on the Green Bay Packers’ roster.

Jake Dolegala signed with the team after his tryout during the three-day minicamp finished Thursday.

He did not get many reps during the 11-on-11 portions of the three practices, but he showed enough during drill work that the Packers want to take a longer look.

In other news, the NFL revealed Thursday that Packers tight end Jace Sternberger was suspended without pay for the first two games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy and program on substances of abuse.

With the addition of Dolegala, the Packers’ quarterback depth chart looks like this: Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, Blake Bortles, Kurt Benkert and Dolegala, who signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019 as an undrafted free agent out of Central Connecticut and also spent part of last campaign on the New England Patriots’ practice squad.

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While Rodgers was a holdout during mandatory minicamp, the Packers gave Love the bulk of the work in team periods. Instead of dividing reps during 11-on-11s, Love took the majority of the snaps. Of the 31 snaps Thursday, Love took 26, while Bortles got two and Benkert three.

Less than a month ago, the Packers had only two quarterbacks on their roster: Rodgers and Love. They added Benkert, who had previously been on the Falcons’ practice squad, after a tryout during their rookie camp and then added the veteran Bortles just days later.

The Packers released defensive tackle Anthony Rush to make room for Dolegala.

Sternberger said in a statement posted to Twitter that he fell asleep behind the wheel in February 2020 after making the “horrible decision” to drink after taking anti-depressants.

“I want to apologize to the GB Packers organization and everyone else who has supported me along this journey,” Sternberger said in the statement. “It is never okay to drink and get behind the wheel.”

Sternberger, who said he has been going to therapy over the past 16 months, can participate in all offseason and preseason practices and matches but then will be out until Week 3.

“I will never ignore my mistakes,” he said. “I have owned up to my poor decision and accept the consequences.”

Sternberger, a third-round pick in 2019, has 12 career catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. He was a healthy scratch in both of the Packers’ playoff games last season.

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New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley ‘doing well’ in ACL rehab, unsure of status for start of season

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley says he is “doing well” in his rehab from a torn ACL, but won’t put a timetable on his return or provide any public assurance that he will be back for the beginning of the new season.

The Giants open the regular season versus the Denver Broncos on Sept. 12, some 11 months after the major surgery on Barkley’s right knee. He also had MCL and meniscus damage.

“You know me. I’m going to take it one day at a time. Just come in with my head down and ready to work,” Barkley said Wednesday after spending the second day of mandatory minicamp inside the team facility while most of his Giants teammates practiced.

“It’s going to be whenever my body tells me I’m ready or I’m able to show everyone I’m ready again. That’s when I’m going to be able to go out there and hopefully be elite, what I was before but even better.”

This is the approach Barkley and the Giants are taking. They aren’t going to set any potentially unrealistic expectations for his return, thus putting any unnecessary pressure on him to get back on the field.

The tight-lipped Barkley wouldn’t even go into detail about where he is in the rehab process, although sources have told ESPN recently that there have been no significant setbacks and that he has progressed to jump-cutting. “Looks good,” one of the sources said.

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Barkley was also positive about the progress he’s making, even if he was unwilling to publicly provide the full details.

“I just expect to come in every single day and work hard, work my butt off, listen to the coaches, listen to the trainers, listen to the doctors,” he said. “I’m going to take it one day at a time. Whenever I’m able to, I guess you can say, go out there and participate with the team again, I’ll be ready.

“I’m doing well. I’m doing pretty well. Just taking one day at a time. Just listening to the trainers from [senior vice president of medical services] Ronnie [Barnes] to [director of rehabilitation] Leigh [Weiss] to all the way down and still being in conversations with [surgeon] Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache and [head team physician] Dr. [Scott] Rodeo. Just listening to them and taking it one day at a time.”

It has become clear in recent weeks that the Giants are going to take it slowly with the Pro Bowl running back. They are looking at this situation with a long-range view that prioritizes his well-being and future over the short-term gain of being ready for training camp or the start of the campaign.

Barkley is not expected to be full-go for the start of training camp, a source told ESPN last month. They aren’t going to put him on the field in live situations until he’s 100%. It’s entirely possible that might not be until October.

Barkley seems to be on board with the plan, although he admitted it’s difficult to be patient.

So for now and likely most of this summer, he will just have to envision how he fits into the offense alongside newcomers Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph and several others.

Free-agent acquisition Devontae Booker is filling Barkley’s role in the meantime.

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Injury-bit San Francisco 49ers lose Justin Skule, Tarvarius Moore to season-ending injuries

After their 2020 season was ravaged by injury, the San Francisco 49ers hoped that 2021 would bring better health. They’re not off to a promising start.

During a planned team activity Monday, the Niners lost two players to what will almost certainly be season-ending injuries more than three months before the 2021 campaign initiates. Offensive lineman Justin Skule suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, and safety Tarvarius Moore tore his Achilles, according to a team spokesperson.

While neither Skule nor Moore has been an established starter for the Niners, both have played prominent roles in recent seasons.

Skule has played in 31 regular-season matches over the past two years with 12 starts at tackle and guard. He was expected to compete with Shon Coleman for the swing tackle job in training camp before the injury.

Moore had played a similar role in the secondary, appearing in all 48 regular-season games over the past three seasons with 13 starts. He had 49 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 2020 when he started eight games. He was expected to compete for the starting job at strong safety before Monday’s injury.

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Without Moore, the Niners have a group including veterans Jaquiski Tartt, Tavon Wilson, Marcell Harris and Tony Jefferson, who signed on Monday, and rookie Talanoa Hufanga to compete for spots on the safety depth chart.

Skule and Moore are the latest in a long run of disappointing injuries to the 49ers.

In 2020, the Niners lost 161.6 games to injury, the second most of any team in the past 20 years, according to Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost metric (which also factored in players missing game for COVID-19 reasons).

Many of those injuries affected some of the Niners’ most significant players, as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, ends Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, receiver Deebo Samuel, cornerback Richard Sherman and running back Raheem Mostert combined to play in 37 of a possible 112 games (33%).

After the season, general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan vowed to “look at everything” to try to get and stay healthier in 2021. That included an increased emphasis on durability among the draft class and in outside free agents they acquired.

“What I’ve learned with some of our luck here, especially last year … when too many of those add up, it’s hard to compete,” Shanahan said in May.

“And I think that hit us harder than anything last year. That hit us before COVID, and that’s something we can’t do again. So, we’re not saying that we’ll never take a risk again or anything, but we definitely wanted to make a point because of what’s happened the last couple of years, at least to try to avoid that.”

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Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes thinks he’s ready to play after toe surgery

Patrick Mahomes won’t play in his first 2021 regular-season game for more than three months, but the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback said he’s ready for the game now.

“If there was a game [today], I’d be able to play in it, I think,” said Mahomes, who had surgery in February to repair turf toe.

“There’s still stuff I’m going to have to work through. I have to continue to rehab, continue to keep strengthening that stuff. But it’s good to be able to get out there earlier than the schedule had me and be able to get some work in.”

The Chiefs originally hoped Mahomes would be able to participate in offseason practice by the time the team’s mandatory minicamp arrived, which is in two weeks.

But Mahomes has been a full participant since the Chiefs started practice last week.

He took all of the usual starter’s snaps in practice Thursday and made some impressive throws, including a post pattern to Mecole Hardman.

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Mahomes also elaborated on his comments from last week saying he wanted the Chiefs, with the NFL’s expanded regular-season schedule, to be the first team ever to finish a season 20-0.

“I believe the question I was asked is, what record did I want to break?” Mahomes said.

“To me, records don’t mean anything if you’re not winning that last game at the end of the season. It’s about going in every single week with the mindset that we’re trying to win, we’re going to win. And at the end of the day whatever the record is, if it’s 20-0 or wherever it is, you win that last game of the season and you’re going to be happy with whatever happened earlier in the season.

“People get all hyped up about saying 20-0 because you have to take it one week at a time, but at the end of the day you want to continue to win every single week. I’m not going into the season hoping I lose any games.”

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San Francisco 49ers center Weston Richburg retires from NFL, cites injuries

Almost three years ago, the San Francisco 49ers made Weston Richburg the highest-paid center in NFL history. On Wednesday, Richburg’s time with the Niners came to an end, as he declared his retirement from the NFL.

Richburg had an injury-plagued stint with the 49ers that culminated in his missing the entire 2020 season because of a lingering shoulder injury and his continued efforts to recover from a torn right patellar tendon suffered in Week 14 of the 2019 season.

“I consider myself extremely blessed to have played in this league and am so grateful for the experiences over the last seven years,” Richburg said in a statement released by the 49ers.

“Injuries are an unfortunate part of this game and I’ve reached a point where my body won’t allow me to continue playing and competing at a high level. I was able to play some good football all over the country and was fortunate enough to finish my career with the greatest franchise in sports. From top to bottom, the 49ers organization is comprised of some of the best men, women and athletes I’ve ever been around. To be just a small part of an NFC Championship and Super Bowl run is something I will never forget.”

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As it turned out, that Week 14 contest versus the New Orleans Saints was the final game of Richburg’s 49ers tenure.

Richburg, who turns 30 on July 9, also recently had hip surgery. In three seasons in San Francisco, Richburg started 28 games.

After four years with the New York Giants, who selected him in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, Richburg signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the 49ers in the opening days of 2018 free agency. The Niners reworked that deal during the 2019 season to save some cap space, leaving Richburg with a scheduled cap charge of almost $11.5 million in 2021.

Since Richburg retired after June 1, the Niners can spread out the $7 million in remaining dead money evenly over the cap in 2021 and 2022. They will save $1.075 million in cap space for 2021 upon Richburg’s retirement.

“Weston was someone who made not only our offense, but our entire team better,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in the statement. “He led by example through his detailed approach and the toughness in which he played the game. He was a tremendous player for our organization and will be missed both on the field and in the locker room.”

The 49ers signed Alex Mack in free agency to take over the starting center duties.

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Buffalo Bills restructure contract of WR Stefon Diggs

The Buffalo Bills converted more than $11.7 million of wide receiver Stefon Diggs’ base salary into a signing bonus, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates, saving the team roughly $8 million of salary-cap space.

Diggs was scheduled to make roughly $12.7 million in base salary in 2021; that figure is now down to $990,000. Buffalo, meanwhile, now has $11,084,995 in cap space, per Spotrac.

The timing of Diggs’ restructured deal comes as teams can take on less dead cap money after a June 1 trade or release — and will create some curiosity as multiple players, including Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz and Atlanta’s Julio Jones, are expected to be moved from their current teams.

It also creates more breathing room for the Bills, who have yet to sign first-round pick Greg Rousseau or third-round pick Spencer Brown.

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There’s also the matter of an upcoming extension for quarterback Josh Allen, who concluded as the league’s MVP runner-up in 2020.

Bills GM Brandon Beane has publicly expressed interest in signing Allen long term — interest Allen has reciprocated over the past year.

Beane said a deal likely won’t be done until this summer at the earliest but didn’t rule out negotiations extending into next offseason. Either way, Spotrac estimates Allen’s market value at $42.2 million per year, which would make him the second-highest-paid player in the league

Diggs, the NFL’s leader in receptions and receiving yards last season, is not the only Bills player to rework his contract this offseason. Buffalo has also agreed to restructures or pay cuts with Mitch Morse, Vernon Butler and Mario Addison.

Last season with the Buffalo Bills, Stefon Diggs had 1,525 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in the regular season. He also had 311 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the postseason.

This is the reasoning as to why some big names will get traded or drafted at this time of the calendar year. The teams that make trades for players will have large salaries, and won’t have a negative effect on their cap space.

The Buffalo Bills have been very vocal about their plans to sign quarterback Josh Allen to a long-term extension. Most specifically, to do it by the summer, before or during training camp. The Bills could also be one of the many teams interested in players like Julio Jones and Zach Ertz.

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Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons discuss Julio Jones trade

As the Falcons continue to field calls from teams interested in trading for Julio Jones, the Seahawks have had conversations about a possible trade with Atlanta for the wide receiver, sources told ESPN’s Dianna Russini.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Jones have been in touch, having phone conversations to discuss the option of playing together, Russini reported.

Seattle already boasts a talented wide receiver corps led by DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who each had 10 touchdown receptions and more than 1,000 yards receiving last season.

Sources told Russini on Thursday that the Falcons have an offer of a future first-round draft pick on the table for Jones. Atlanta has asked teams that have inquired about Jones for a first-round draft pick in return, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter last Monday.

The Seahawks do not have a first-round pick in 2022 after sending it to the New York Jets last year to get safety Jamal Adams.

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The rumor mill around Jones started last month when general manager Terry Fontenot told reporters his team would be taking calls about the All-Pro receiver.

Then, on Monday, Jones said “I’m outta there,” when asked about the Falcons in a telephone call with FS1’s Shannon Sharpe on the network’s “Undisputed” show. It is unclear whether Jones knew the phone call was being televised.

Jones, 32, requested a trade from the Falcons at the beginning of the offseason in March, but the organization was trying to protect him and work quietly behind the scenes, a source told Schefter, and has been talking to other teams for weeks. The Falcons prefer not to trade him in the NFC but would do so for the right price, the source said.

The Tennessee Titans have also discussed a trade with the Falcons, but a source described the Titans’ probabilities of landing Jones as a “long shot” to Russini on Thursday.

It is likely that Jones will not be traded until after June 1 because of the salary-cap benefits for the Falcons. Jones, whose base salary of $15.3 million is fully guaranteed for this season, is scheduled to cost the Falcons $23.05 million against the cap in 2021 and has cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023.

If the Falcons move Jones after June 1, the move would offer Atlanta relief against the cap this season because the dead money owed to him would be split between this season and next.

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