Tagged in: Detroit Lions

Los Angeles Rams lock up QB Matthew Stafford with $160M extension

The Rams and Matthew Stafford have reached agreement on a four-year, $160 million extension that includes $135 million guaranteed and should allow the veteran quarterback to concluded his career in Los Angeles, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Stafford is cashing in on his spectacular debut season with the Rams after 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, who traded the 2009 No. 1 overall pick to Los Angeles a year ago. Stafford would be 38 years old in the final season of the extension.

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Stafford is headed into the final year of his previous five-year, $135 million deal signed in Detroit, but he repeatedly stated he had no interest in going anywhere.

His new deal also is clearly calculated to allow the Rams to retain more of their championship core while adding new pieces, since Stafford almost certainly could have received more money at the top of the quarterback market. Aaron Rodgers’ new deal with the Packers is essentially a three-year, $150 million contract.

Stafford never won a playoff game in 12 seasons with the Lions, but he realized the enormous potential of winning a Super Bowl immediately after joining coach Sean McVay and a talented offense including Cooper Kupp, who became the NFL’s receiving leader in the first year of their partnership.

Stafford set a franchise record with 4,886 yards passing in the 17-game regular season, and he tied Kurt Warner’s team mark with 41 touchdown passes while leading the Rams to the NFC West title.

He then excelled in the first four playoff victories of his career, passing for 1,188 yards and nine touchdowns with just three interceptions. He led game-winning drives in the fourth quarter of the Rams’ final three postseason games, including their Super Bowl victory over Cincinnati at SoFi Stadium.

The Rams also are working on a contract extension for All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Stafford’s deal will alter the amount of room under the salary cap for the Rams, who have already lost several free agents this month. But Los Angeles signed talented veteran receiver Allen Robinson this past week, and the team is hoping to keep Odell Beckham Jr. as well.

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Chicago Bears fire coach Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace after 6-11 season

The Chicago Bears fired coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on Monday after the team concluded with a 6-11 record this season.

Nagy was named NFL Coach of the Year after his first season in 2018, when he led the Bears to a 12-4 record and they reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

He earned praise that season for his offensive wrinkles and humble disposition, but the Bears couldn’t sustain that success over the ensuing three seasons.

They finished 8-8 in 2019 and then again in 2020, when the league’s expanded playoff field put them into the wild-card round. Nagy was never able to duplicate his first season, in part because the quarterback he inherited — Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 draft — never made the necessary improvement.

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Trubisky departed via free agency last spring, after the Bears traded up to draft quarterback Justin Fields.

The Bears were 2-8 in Fields’ 10 starts, and he finished the season ranked last in the league in Total QBR (26.0). In four seasons, the Bears were 34-31 under Nagy in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs.

Monday’s news has been brewing since the end of November, when a local report emerged that Nagy would be fired after the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day game at the Detroit Lions. Nagy stated at the time that he was unaware of his impending firing, but no member of the Bears’ front office or ownership immediately stepped forward to publicly deny the report.

A day later, owner George McCaskey told players during a team meeting that Nagy would not be fired after the match. The Bears beat the Lions 16-14, but it was their only victory amid a 1-8 streak that ran from Week 6 through Week 15.

In a statement issued Monday evening, Nagy said that “it was an honor to serve” as the Bears’ head coach and he thanked the team’s ownership, Pace and his players, coaches and support staff.

Pace also issued a statement Monday evening and also thanked the team’s ownership, Nagy, the team’s players, the football operations staff and the Bears fans.

With the help of former NFL executive Bill Polian leading their search committee, the Bears will cast a wide net for a new GM and head coach. McCaskey indicated that it’s possible the team could even hire a coach before the GM.

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Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook has dislocated shoulder

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook dislocated his shoulder during Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cook is anticipated to miss at least the next two matches — Sunday at the Detroit Lions and the following Thursday versus the Pittsburgh Steelers — with the hope being he can return the next week for the Monday, Dec. 20, game at the Chicago Bears, the source told Schefter.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer would not disclose the nature of Cook’s injury Monday and stated his star running back was “day-to-day.”

“That’s what they’re telling me,” Zimmer said.

Cook was carted off the field late in the third quarter and ruled out for the remainder of the game.

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He was injured after being brought down by Niners defensive tackle Kevin Givens following a handoff.

The running back lost the ball in the process of being tackled and immediately grabbed for his chest with his right arm when he hit the ground.

He stayed down on the field for several minutes as athletic trainers tended to him. Both Vikings and Niners players knelt around Cook while he was moved onto a cart before being taken off the field and back into the locker room for further evaluation.

Cook’s day ended with 10 carries for 39 yards and six receptions for 64 yards. He was replaced by backup running back Alexander Mattison, who rushed three times for 8 yards and caught one pass for 2 yards after Cook left.

In other news Monday, the Viking placed cornerback Patrick Peterson on the reserve/COVID-19 list, putting his availability for Sunday’s game versus the Lions in question.

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Lions desperately seeking victory against struggling Eagles

Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions are desperate for a victory, growing tired of being the NFL’s only winless team.

The first-year coach was fired up about the chance to turn around the long-suffering franchise when he was hired 10 months ago, but seven setbacks without success have taken a toll.

Campbell cried in front of cameras and reporters after a comeback fell short earlier this month. And, he didn’t hide his hopes and emotions about the Lions (0-7) possibly beating Philadelphia (2-5) on Sunday at home.

“It would mean everything, look, particularly going into a bye, too,” Campbell said softly. “Any time it would be good, but man, you end on a right note and we get those guys, get their bodies back a little bit and then you come back in. You almost feel like you’re starting over somewhat.”

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Likewise, the Eagles and their first-year coach are shooting for a victory to potentially start the process of salvaging their season after dropping two consecutive games.

“This is what I said to the team: ‘The results aren’t there right now, but what’s going on here is that there’s growth under the soil,'” coach Nick Sirianni recalled. “I put a picture of a flower up, and it’s coming through the ground, and the roots are growing out. The roots are continuing to grow out. Everybody wants to see results. Shoot, nobody wants to see results more than us, right?”

Opposing quarterbacks are completing 74.4% of their passes against the Eagles.

If that holds up, it will break the NFL record of 72.7% set by the Lions in 2016. Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr was 31 of 34 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns last week versus Philadelphia. Carr’s 91.2% completion rate was the second highest by a quarterback throwing at least 30 passes in NFL history.

“That needs to get corrected because it’s hard to play winning football when the ball doesn’t hit the ground,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said.

Second-year running back D’Andre Swift, who is from Philadelphia, has been perhaps the brightest spot during a dim season in Detroit. After being slowed in training camp with a groin injury, the former Georgia star has steadily improved even as defenses have focused on trying to slow him down.

Swift had a season-high 144 yards of offense last week, giving him an average of 93.3 yards per game this season, and matched his career high with eight receptions. He leads NFL running backs with 42 catches and 391 yards receiving. Swift leads the Lions with five touchdowns, three more than any teammate.

Campbell stated he sees similarities to Alvin Kamara, who he coached in New Orleans. “They can both, I think, somewhat take a game over,” Campbell said.

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Detroit Lions release veteran LB Jamie Collins after exploring trade

After attempting to trade linebacker Jamie Collins, the Detroit Lions revealed Tuesday that he has been released.

Collins, a nine-year veteran, stopped reporting to practice ahead of Week 3 as the Lions explored options for his future. Coach Dan Campbell stated last week that he met with Collins to communicate the team’s plans to seek a trade, but the Lions ultimately couldn’t reach a deal for him.

Collins can sign with another team immediately. He is making a fully guaranteed $8.8 million from Detroit this year ($5 million bonus, $3.8 million salary).

A one-time Pro Bowler, Collins racked up 10 total tackles, with one for a loss, and a fumble recovery in back-to-back defeats to San Francisco and Green Bay this season.

Campbell stated last week that he felt it was “time for a reduced role” for Collins and decided to play the younger members of the roster.

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“We’ve been through two games now and you make your assessment and your judgement after two games and that’s where we’re at,” Campbell said of Collins last Thursday.

“There again, we felt like it was, if you’re going to grow and you’re going to try to get better as a team, as a unit, everything, you better do it now.

“There again, I think this is best for Jamie as well. He gets a chance to go somewhere and do what he does and we’re just in a different place.”

The Lions have turned to rookie Derrick Barnes to fill the role vacated by Collins. Barnes made his first start of the season Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens, and made four stops while playing about half the team’s defensive snaps.

Collins made 101 tackles for the Lions in 2020 under former Lions coach Matt Patricia, for whom Collins played in New England. But he had struggled this season, particularly in a Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers that spurred Campbell to suggest a move could be in the works.

It proved to be Collins’ last game in Detroit, as he was not at the Lions practice facility Thursday and was designated inactive Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens.

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San Francisco 49ers LB Dre Greenlaw to have groin surgery, out indefinitely

The San Francisco 49ers hoped linebacker Dre Greenlaw would be back sooner than later after he injured his groin in last week’s victory against the Detroit Lions.

On Monday, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Greenlaw would be day-to-day this week. On Thursday, it became clear Greenlaw will miss extended time, as he’s slated to have surgery to repair the groin injury, a league source confirmed to ESPN.

Greenlaw’s injury is the third this week to a key 49ers starter that will keep them out for an extended period. It comes on the heels of earlier news that cornerback Jason Verrett and running back Raheem Mostert will miss the rest of the campaign with knee issues.

While Greenlaw is expected back from his surgery, there is not yet a specific timeline for him to return, though he is expected to have the procedure in the next 24 hours and be out into November before being reassessed, the source said.

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Greenlaw appeared to suffer the injury while returning an interception 39 yards for a touchdown just before halftime of last week’s 41-33 victory in Detroit. 

Azeez Al-Shaair replaced Greenlaw after the injury and Greenlaw did not return to the game.

Al-Shaair, who is expected to replace Greenlaw in the lineup, finished with seven tackles, including two for loss, and two passes defended.

“He stood out,” defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said. “Everyone could see the effort, the tackling in space, the way he played — that’s the way a linebacker should play. He made a lot of plays for us … I’m excited to where Azeez started the season and he’ll continue to get better and better.”

The Niners, who are staying at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia leading into Sunday’s game versus the Philadelphia Eagles, are coming off an injury-plagued 2020 season in which they at one point had players worth more than $80 million in salary-cap space on injured reserve.

Losing three starters in Week 1 has caused some Niners captains to take a proactive approach this week in trying to keep their teammates from not falling into a “here we go again” mindset.

“With the last two days working out here, it’s been talked about,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said.

“It’s something that you have to address. It’s not like you could avoid it in any way. It’s just one of those things. You’ve got to stay hydrated, do all the right things, the little things behind the scenes, getting with the trainers, getting with the body maintenance people. I mean, there’s a million little things that go into it and we just can’t get lazy, especially early in the season. It’s going to translate to later in the year and just on and on. It’s all tied together.”

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San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert to have season-ending knee surgery

Two days and multiple doctor consultations after leaving the season opener versus the Detroit Lions with a knee injury, San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert’s season is over.

Mostert took to social media on Tuesday to revealed that an injury the Niners hoped would require a minor arthroscopic surgery will instead end his 2021 season. On Monday, the Niners had said he might return in about eight weeks.

“This gives me, without a doubt in my mind, the best possibility at coming back 110%. I have ALWAYS come back stronger and I will this time too! I have faith in myself, my doctors, my support system, my team, and God,” Mostert said in a statement posted on social media, adding he was “gutted” by the decision.

With Mostert done for the season, the 49ers signed running back Kerryon Johnson to their practice squad Tuesday. Johnson joins a running back room that also involves rookies Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon and second-year pro JaMycal Hasty, all of whom are on the active roster.

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Mostert, 29, suffered the injury in Sunday’s 41-33 victory over the Detroit Lions. He carried twice for 20 yards on San Francisco’s second possession, but headed to the sideline soon after a 9-yard gain on the second play of the series.

On Monday, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan announced that Mostert would miss approximately eight weeks with “chipped cartilage” in a knee that would require arthroscopic surgery.

But Mostert sought multiple opinions to ensure when he does come back, he will be at full strength. Those additional opinions pointed him in the direction of a surgery that will require a longer recovery time.

All of which brings into question whether Mostert has played his final game with the 49ers.

He is in the final season of a three-year, $8.65 million deal he signed in 2019.

He had a breakout end of the 2019 season, bursting onto the scene in the playoffs and rushing for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game versus the Green Bay Packers.

But Mostert was limited to eight games in 2020 as knee and ankle sprains cost him two and six games, respectively. He entered this year as the Niners’ unquestioned top back but the team started planning for the future by selecting Sermon in the third round and Mitchell in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Mitchell stepped in for Mostert after the injury. He figures to get the first crack at the starting job after he set a 49ers franchise record for rushing yards (104 on 19 carries) in a debut. Hasty, who ran for a touchdown against Detroit, is expected to move up to second in the rotation with Sermon third.

The 49ers placed Mostert and cornerback Jason Verrett (torn right ACL) on injured reserve Tuesday, signed veteran cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and promoted cornerback Dontae Johnson from the practice squad to the 53-man roster in corresponding moves. The team currently had 52 players on their 53-man roster.

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Everson Griffen signs with Minnesota Vikings, says he regrets leaving to sign elsewhere in 2020

Veteran free-agent pass-rusher Everson Griffen signed with the Minnesota Vikings, the team revealed Monday.

The terms of Griffen’s contract were not disclosed.

Griffen, 33, was selected by Minnesota in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft and spent a decade with the Vikings. From 2010 to ’19, Griffen totaled 74.5 sacks, which ranks seventh in franchise history. He was named a Pro Bowler four times in Minnesota, including three consecutive seasons from 2015 to ’17.

In February 2020, Griffen opted out of his contract and became a free agent. He signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys in August 2020 and was traded to the Detroit Lions two months later. In 14 matches last season, Griffen registered six sacks, 33 tackles (seven for loss) and 14 quarterback hits.

Griffen said he was waiting for the “right fit” as a free agent and noted how difficult last year was having to move his family from Minnesota to Dallas to Detroit in the middle of a pandemic. His familiarity with the Vikings’ scheme and close relationship with players like Danielle Hunter and defensive line coach Andre Patterson drew him back to Minnesota.

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“Honestly, I wanted to be here,” Griffen said. “I really wanted to be here. I felt like this was the best fit for me throughout the whole league. I really wanted to be here and I’m excited to be back. I’m just happy that things worked out the way they did and they welcomed me back with open arms.”

As Griffen reflected on why he left Minnesota instead of taking a pay cut after opting out of his previous deal, the defensive end expressed regret with his decision.

“I left because I thought the grass was greener on the other side, to be honest, and it wasn’t,” Griffen said. “Going to Dallas, going to Detroit, the grass wasn’t greener. I didn’t get the love that I got here with the fans, with the coaches, with the players and the grass wasn’t greener. I learned I’m back home and I’m happy to be home. “

One of Minnesota’s top position questions in training camp is determining who will start opposite Hunter at defensive end. 

Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum have been the front-runners throughout the preseason, but the team left the door open for more competition at that spot when it brought in Griffen for a workout last week.

Wearing an unfamiliar No. 58, which he noted was a “little bit” weird, Griffen was at practice Monday and participated in light individual work. Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday that the Vikings plan to use Griffen as a “situational” pass-rusher. Griffen said he’ll play “wherever they want me.”

Griffen met with Vikings brass last week following his workout to confirm, “that my head was in it. That I’m in a good place.” The defensive end took a month-long hiatus during the 2018 season to focus on his health and wellbeing after the Vikings ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation and two separate incidents involving police authorities led to him being hospitalized.

Griffen opened up about his struggles last year and told NFL Network that he lived in a sober house for three months starting in Oct. 2018.

Earlier this offseason, Griffen composed a handful of insulting tweets where he called Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins “ass” and claimed that Zimmer never wanted to sign the QB. The defensive end said he planned to speak to Cousins and apologize.

“I haven’t really talked to him yet but I’m going to get around to doing that,” Griffen said. “Apologize to him, apologize to Coach Zimmer, [general manager] Rick [Spielman] about what I said. I take full ownership in that. I’ve still got to talk to Kirk and apologize to him about that.”

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Seattle Seahawks re-sign Damarious Randall, moving him to CB

The Seattle Seahawks have re-signed Damarious Randall and plan to move him back to cornerback, the team revealed Friday.

Randall played cornerback for his first three seasons with the Green Bay Packers, who drafted him 30th overall in 2015. He has also played safety and some nickelback.

Most of Randall’s 35 defensive snaps last campaign came at safety. He appeared in 10 matches with the Seahawks — mostly on special teams — after joining their practice squad in September.

It’s not clear if the Seahawks see Randall as an option at nickelback or on the outside.

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At 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, the 28-year-old is smaller than what the Seahawks typically prefer in their perimeter cornerbacks. But D.J. Reed emerged for Seattle on the outside last season despite not having prototypical size.

The Seahawks’ other perimeter cornerbacks incorporate free-agent addition Ahkello Witherspoon and Tre Flowers, who has started 37 games for Seattle over the past three seasons.

Safety Ryan Neal has played cornerback in the past. Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair are returning at nickelback, although Blair is coming off a torn ACL.

The Seahawks wanted to re-sign cornerback Quinton Dunbar, but he signed with the Detroit Lions instead.

Other Seahawks corners with starting experience are D.J. Reed, who can play multiple positions and who finished the season starting at right cornerback and free-agent addition Ahkello Witherspoon, who started 33 games in four seasons with the 49ers, playing on both the left and right side.

Randall has 14 interceptions and 47 passes defensed over six NFL seasons. He spent three with Green Bay and two with the Cleveland Browns before landing in Seattle last year.

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Quinton Dunbar, Detroit Lions reach 1-year deal

Veteran defensive back Quinton Dunbar is signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions, his agency, Elite Loyalty Sports, revealed Monday.

Dunbar joins the Lions after an injury-plagued season with the Seattle Seahawks, who added him last March only to see him play in six games — all starts — because of a knee problem that required season-ending surgery.

Dunbar, 28, finished 2020 with one interception and five passes defended.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes had said the secondary was an area of focus for his team, which also signed free-agent cornerback Corn Elder last week.

“The corner position — and I can say it with more than just the corner position — is a position that we’ll continue to address now throughout the entire process, up until the draft and even after the draft, if need be,” Holmes told reporters last week, according to The Detroit News.

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“But it’s definitely a position that is not gonna be overlooked or ignored. It is a young group that we have now. I really like the group that we have, in terms of the youth and the upside. … But that is a position that we’ll continue to look to address now and through the draft.”

The Seahawks acquired Dunbar for a fifth-round pick in a March trade with the Washington Football Team.

He missed most of the offseason program and the start of training camp while dealing with armed robbery charges that were later dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Dunbar made 25 starts over five seasons with Washington, which signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Florida in 2015. He started his NFL career as a wide receiver, then was converted to cornerback as a rookie. He has 10 career interceptions and a sack in his six seasons.

Washington signed Dunbar to a three-year, $10.5 million contract after the 2017 season. The Seahawks inherited the final year of that deal, which paid Dunbar roughly $3.34 million in 2020.

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