Category Archives: NFL

Houston J.J Watt says it’s still too early to make call on playing

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said Wednesday that it’s too early for players to make a decision on whether they’ll play this campaign given the many unknowns that remain with the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve been on the NFLPA calls the last couple times we’ve had them,” Watt said on a conference call when asked whether he’s made a decision on whether to play.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere … I don’t think we’re at a point yet where people are making that decision because we don’t have enough information yet to be making decisions like that. So I think that it’s a very fluid process, and I think it keeps coming up. Obviously … the report date gets closer and closer. But as of right now, we really don’t have enough information to make a decision like that, I would say.”

The Texans report to training camp July 25. They are programed to open the season at the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 10.

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Watt was asked whether he believes it is necessary to play preseason matches. The league canceled the NFL’s preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game and shortened the preseason from four games per team to two in order to help players acclimate to being back on the field after going through a virtual offseason program. Last week, a source told ESPN that the NFL Players Association’s board of player representatives voted to recommend canceling all 2020 preseason games.

“If the doctors and the PA doctors decide that it’s not in the best safety interest of the players to have them, then we don’t have to,” Watt said. “But I also at the same time think about undrafted guys and the guys who make a roster in the fourth preseason game and how special that is and how many opportunities would be missed from that. So I’m on both sides of the fence.

“I think obviously as a vet, personally do I think that preseason games for somebody in my situation is absolutely necessary? I would say, I don’t think so. But I think there are a whole bunch of people who need those opportunities and who live for those opportunities. I mean, it can literally change a life. So I see, I see the other side of it where somebody could literally have their entire dream come true because of those games, so that’s a very difficult debate to have.”

Watt stated he hoped the NFL was looking at the way the other leagues are operating in their attempts to return to play.

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Browns DE Vernon restructures contract, will get $11 million guaranteed in 2020

The Cleveland Browns have renegotiated defense end Olivier Vernon’s contract, an unnamed source told ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates.

Vernon was set to make $15.25 million, non-guaranteed, in 2020.

Now, Vernon gets $11 million guaranteed through a $7 million signing bonus, $3.75 million in base salary and a $250,000 workout bonus, according to Yates.

Vernon, 29, is also entitled for $2 million more in incentives.

There were reports earlier this offseason of the Browns’ interest in signing free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Clowney, 27, and Griffen, 32, remain free agents as of Tuesday morning.

However, OverTheCap.com showed the Browns had $37.27 million left in cap space before renegotiating Vernon’s deal.

It means the Browns still could add either Clowney or Griffen and keep Vernon.

At the same time, the Browns likely need to let some of the salary cap space roll over to next offseason to offer Garrett a contract extension.

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Garrett, 24, is entering his fourth season in the league and is due to make $4.61 million this season.

The Browns already picked up Garrett’s fifth-year option in 2021, which is worth $15.18 million.

In the offseason, Pro Football Focus reporter Ben Linsey ranked Garrett and Vernon as the second-best edge defender duo in the NFL.

In 2019, Vernon played in 10 matches, compiling 26 tackles, four tackles for a loss, 11 quarterback hits and a career-low 3.5 sacks.

Pro Football Focus graded Vernon as the Browns’ third-highest graded pass rusher.

Vernon missed three games after injuring his knee during a Week 9 loss to the Denver Broncos.

In Week 13 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, Vernon played only 10 snaps before missing three more games.

Vernon played in the regular-season finale versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

Injuries forced Vernon to miss time during the last three seasons, playing in 11 games for the Giants in 2018 and 12 games in 2017.

However, Vernon did not miss a game during his first five seasons in the league from 2012-2016. Headed into the 2020 season, Vernon is entering the final year of his contract after the Browns acquired him in a trade with the New York Giants.

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Chiefs Patrick Mahomes agree to 10 year contract extension

Patrick Mahomes, a year removed from his first league MVP award and just four months after leading the Chiefs to victory in Super Bowl LIV, is about to cash in on his early success. Mahomes, the first player in league history to win league and Super Bowl MVP honors before his 25th birthday, has come to terms on a 10-year deal with the Chiefs, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The contract is reportedly the richest deal in NFL history. Also, per Schefter, Mahomes’ 10-year extension is worth $450 million with a $140 million injury guarantee. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports Mahomes’ 10-year extension will be guided by a mechanism that ensures the quarterback’s annual salary never drops below certain cap thresholds — in other words it will always be above a certain percentage of the NFL’s salary cap.

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It is unusual to see a contract extension of this length  — and with those clauses and parameters — but it’s also rare to see a quarterback accomplish what Mahomes has this few years into his career. Back in January, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported that the Chiefs were formulating to offer Mahomes a record-setting contract that would pay him at least $40 million a season.

The 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Mahomes was entering the final original year of his four-year, $16.4 million rookie contract.

The Chiefs did pick up his fifth-year option back in April.  Had Mahomes played under his fifth-year option in 2021, he would have made $24,837,000, according to CBS Sports’ Joel Corry. Mahomes is now slated to join the list of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks.

In terms of annual salary, Russell Wilson currently holds the title as the league’s highest-paid quarterback, receiving an annual salary fo $35 million. The league’s other top-paid passers involve Ben Roethlisberger ($34 million), Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million), Jared Goff ($33.5 million), Kirk Cousins ($33 million), Carson Wentz ($32 million), Dak Prescott ($31.4 million) and Matt Ryan ($30 million), according to Over the Cap. 

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Cleveland TE David Njoku asks Browns for trade

Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku has demanded a trade before training camp, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday.

“It is in David’s best interest to find a new team at this time,” Njoku’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said, via Schefter. Training camps starts July 28.

The Browns would like to keep him, per the report. The team exercised Njoku’s fifth-year option in April, keeping him under contract through the 2021 campaign.

The news, however, reportedly wasn’t shocking to the Browns. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the team has known for about a year that he has been unhappy in Cleveland.

Njoku, who turns 24 next Friday, missed most of the 2019 season with a broken wrist and a concussion. The former first-round draft pick out of Miami has 93 receptions, 1,066 yards and nine touchdowns in 36 matches with the Browns. He started 14 of 16 games in 2018, his second season, and caught 56 passes for 639 yards with four touchdowns.

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It may be in Njoku’s “best interest” to leave because of who joined the team.

Cleveland added Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper in the offseason, reportedly agreeing to a deal minutes into the so-called legal tampering period. They agreed to a four-year, $42 million deal that made him the NFL’s highest paid at the position.

Then in the 2020 NFL draft, the team selected tight end Harrison Bryant out of Florida Atlantic in the fourth round.

Stefanski has said he has formations including three tight ends! Njoku is with a coach who is close to being obsessed with the position.

A healthy Njoku in the proper frame of mind is with an offense where he could have a huge season.

Njoku has to realize Berry was part of the 2017 Sashi Brown front office that traded up into the first round to grab him with the 29th pick. Berry was a significant talent evaluator for that front office and has a stake in Njoku playing well. It’s part of the reason the 2021 option was picked up. Berry thinks the 24 year old can play, period.

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NFL shortens preseason to just two weeks as league continues to plot its 2020 strategy

The NFL has taken its next step in adjusting its calendar to prepare for a return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic

The NFL has shortened its 2020 preseason to two games, a source said, part of a larger acclimatization plan for players following an unprecedented virtual offseason program during the coronavirus pandemic.

In essence, the league canceled Weeks 1 and 4 of its original preseason calendar. It had previously canceled its Aug. 8 Hall of Fame game. Most players will still report to training camp on July 28, but the first preseason matches won’t be played until Aug. 20-24. The second week of preseason games are scheduled for Aug. 27-31. Each team will play one home game and one on the road.

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Teams that travel will depart on the day before games.

The primary driver for restructuring the preseason was a consensus between the NFL and NFL Players Association that players will need more time than normal to get in football shape this summer.

No teams were able to practice on the field during the offseason, and many gyms and other conditioning settings have been closed. The NFL’s standard preseason has been four games since it was shortened from six games in 1978. It is expected to be cut further when owners activate a provision in the collective bargaining agreement to extend the regular season to 17 games, which they can do as early as 2021.

When that happens, the preseason would shrink to no more than three games for each team. Of more immediate worry, however, is the health of players during training camp in 2020.

The NFL/NFLPA committee will soon issue a set of guidelines that spells out an acclimatization program for the 23 days of training camp prior to the first preseason game.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jason Pierre-Paul undergoes knee surgery

Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul published on Snapchat that he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Friday, describing the procedure as a “tune-up.”

Pierre-Paul posted video of himself waiting for surgery at the hospital, getting into his car afterwards and walking on crutches with his knee bandaged.

“Get this surgery. You feel me? But I’m Gucci though. You feel me?” Pierre-Paul said in the video. “Because your boy just had to do it. He just had to do it.”

… Your boy good. I just had a little tune-up. But to be honest, if I’m going to break that sack record this year, I needed to do the surgery. So I did it.” A source told ESPN that there are no concerns about him missing the start of training camp.

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After suffering two fractured vertebrae in his neck last offseason, Pierre-Paul went on to record 8.5 sacks in 10 matches in 2019, while teammate Shaq Barrett led the NFL with 19.5 sacks.

Throughout the season last year, Pierre-Paul was listed on the injury report with a knee injury but continued to play.

Earlier this offseason, he signed a new two-year deal worth $25 million. The surgery was performed to alleviate some discomfort he was feeling.

“Your boy good. I just had a little tune-up,” Pierre-Paul said. “You feel me? But to be honest, if I’m gonna break that sack record this year, I needed to do the surgery. So I did it.”

The two-time Pro Bowl selection was traded from the New York Giants to the Buccaneers before the 2018 season. Earlier this off-season, Pierre-Paul signed a two-year, $25 million deal with the Buccaneers.

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Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr Fully recovered from January hip, groin surgery

According to Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is now 100% and fully recuperated from offseason surgery.

Beckham underwent the surgery Jan. 21 to address hip and groin injuries that hampered him throughout last campaign.

“He’s free and clear,” Stefanski said. “He’s looking really good.”

Beckham suffered the sports hernia injury early in training camp last year. While playing through it, he compiled the worst statistical season of his career, save his injury-shortened one with the New York Giants in 2017. Beckham concluded with more than 1,000 yards receiving in 2019, but he had only four touchdown grabs.

In May, Beckham posted a video to his YouTube channel in which he talked about how the injury affected him.

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“So pretty much, I was just f—ed up the whole year,” he said. “I really didn’t try and say anything about it. Probably one of the worst surgeries I’ve ever had. Recovery’s going well. Guess I’m really just trying to put my body back together.”

In the video, Beckham went on to predict a big bounce-back performance in 2020.

“I would honestly say this is probably going to be one of my best seasons,” said Beckham, who this month caught passes from former 

“Odell’s free and clear. He’s 100 percent,” Stefanski said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday. “He’s looking really good.”

As for Beckham’s close friend and colleague, Jarvis Landry, Stefanski said that while the 5-time Pro Bowl selection is on a different timeline, his recovery is also going well. In February, Landry underwent surgery to repair a hip injury suffered at some point during the 2020 campaign. “Jarvis, to his credit, he’s looking great,” Stefanski said. “Some of the videos I’ve seen of him moving around. So we’ll have a plan for them.”

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Josh Gordon applies for reinstatement to NFL

The 29-year-old wide receiver has formally applied for reinstatement following his fifth league suspension last fall, according to multiple reports.

Gordon played five games for the Seattle Seahawks last season before the indefinite suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse and PED policy on Dec. 16. Gordon reportedly hopes to have his suspension lifted in time for training camp.

The eight-year NFL veteran has served repeated bans for violating the league’s substance abuse policy since joining the Cleveland Browns as a supplemental draft pick out of Baylor in 2012. Gordon also served a substance-abuse ban at Baylor.

It’s not clear what exactly triggered last season’s suspension that forced Gordon out of Seattle’s final two regular-season games and the playoffs. Gordon’s agent, Adam Kenner, told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that Gordon relapsed last year after his brother died.

Gordon broke out with the Cleveland Browns in 2012, but has struggled with substance abuse and mental health issues throughout his career.

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He caught 50 passes for 805 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie before being suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season. Despite the two-game ban, Gordon emerged as one of the NFL’s most dangerous weapons, tallying 89 catches for a league-leading 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in his second campaign.

Recurring problems with substance abuse and DWI have since forced Gordon to miss large chunks of his career, including the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons.

The Browns finally cut ties with Gordon in 2018 over reported “trust” issues before the New England Patriots took a chance on him. Gordon played 17 matches with the Patriots over two seasons before New England released him after he landed on injured reserve with a knee injury last season.

He then joined and played five games with the Seahawks prior to his December ban. He tallied 27 catches for 426 yards and a touchdown over 11 games with the Patriots and Seahawks in 2019. The Seattle Times reports that there is possible mutual interest in a reunion between Gordon and the Seahawks if his ban is lifted.

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Raiders Allegiant stadium in Las Vegas to host 2021 NFL Pro Bowl

The NFL is taking the 2021 Pro Bowl to Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Pro Bowl was staged at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, over the past four years. Peter O’Reilly, executive vice president of NFL events and club business development, confirmed to CNBC’s Jabari Young in January that a probable move was on the table. 

“It’s been a great four years,” O’Reilly said. “From our perspective, it’s looking at what are the other options.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy had also told reporters last August that Las Vegas and Los Angeles could be attractive candidates for the All-Star showcase. SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, is still slated for completion later this summer. The 2020 NFL draft was supposed to serve as an informal welcome for Las Vegas as the Raiders are set to embark on their first season in Sin City. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to accommodate a fully virtual draft. 

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Vegas will have to wait until 2022 to become the epicenter of the NFL’s annual draft frenzy.

Because the Pro Bowl happens well after the completion of the regular campaign, players routinely pull out of the game. Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen also explained how participating in the Pro Bowl can be a somewhat deflating distinction because it means your team didn’t make the Super Bowl.

Las Vegas isn’t as far-flung as Halawa, Hawaii, where the Pro Bowl has most commonly called home in the past. The city might be a more attractive draw than Orlando as well. Combined, the two factors could help retain some marquee stars who otherwise would’ve waffled on whether to suit up in 2021.

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49ers reward coach Kyle Shanahan with new 6 year deal

San Francisco is compensating head coach Kyle Shanahan with a new six-year contract that replaces the three years he had remaining on his deal and ties him to the 49ers through the 2025 season, league sources told ESPN.

The contract makes Shanahan one of the NFL’s five highest-paid head coaches. But what made this deal unique is that it was hardly a protracted negotiation between 49ers owner Jed York and Shanahan; the two men sat down and quickly figured out what each meant to the other, committing to their second six-year contract in just over three years.

Shanahan signed his first six-year contract with the 49ers in February 2017. This new six-year deal, completed recently, replaces that one. Shanahan has helped remake the franchise, leading it to an NFC championship last season. He is regarded as one of the best playcallers in the league and one of the top offensive minds in the game.

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Offensively, San Francisco averaged 29.9 points a game under Shanahan in 2019, which ranked second in the NFL.

On the defensive side of the ball, they were second in the league in points allowed at just 19.4 points per match.

Shanahan also has helped form one of the most progressive and diverse coaching staffs in the league. Of the 49ers’ 23 assistant coaches, 11 are coaches of color or women. Among them are assistant head coach Jon Embree, who is black, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, believed to be the league’s first Arab American coordinator when San Francisco signed him in 2017.

Shanahan spoke openly and passionately about race earlier this month, saying it is embarrassing for the NFL to have only three black head coaches and two black general managers. Shanahan, 40, is a former offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons.

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