Tagged in: indianapolis

Indianapolis Colts signing CB Stephon Gilmore to two-year deal

The Indianapolis Colts are giving cornerback Stephon Gilmore a two-year, $23 million contract that contains $14 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Gilmore becomes the second veteran addition to the Colts’ secondary this week, after Indianapolis signed safety Rodney McLeod on Thursday.

Cornerback was a position of need for the Colts after they traded starter Rock Ya-Sin to the Las Vegas Raiders for pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue and did not re-sign starter Xavier Rhodes.

The Colts have reshaped their defense after the departure of coordinator Matt Eberflus, who is now the head coach in Chicago, and hired Gus Bradley as his replacement. Indianapolis’ defense now features the five-time Pro Bowler Gilmore, Ngakoue and DeForest Buckner on the line, linebacker Darius Leonard, and one of the league’s best slot corners in Kenny Moore. All five of those players have been selected to at least one Pro Bowl in their careers.

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“He kept saying we would spar, he knows the score and knows what was going on but we ended up sparring [Yuriorkis] Gamboa and he had to get pulled out of the spar. Bearing in mind I wasn’t even in training camp but he had to get pulled out because he was beginning to get a bit of a pasting.

Gilmore played the 2021 season with the Carolina Panthers, who traded a 2023 third-round pick to the New England Patriots in October to get him.

The Panthers added the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year in hopes that he could replace first-round pick Jaycee Horn, who experienced a season-ending foot injury in Week 3 at the Houston Texans.

Gilmore, 31, was on the physically unable to perform list when he arrived in Carolina, still recovering from offseason surgery on a torn quad and not eligible to return until Week 6.

He was activated in Week 8 and played the final eight matches, starting three. He had an interception in his Carolina debut at Atlanta to preserve a 19-13 triumph then followed that with another in his home debut versus New England. After the season, he was added to the Pro Bowl as an alternate.

He said after the trade that he did not appreciate the way New England handled his quad injury, suffered in Week 15 of the 2020 season.

Gilmore, who grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina, had told ESPN before a late-season game at Buffalo that he would like to return to Carolina. The Panthers liked the veteran leadership brought to a young Carolina secondary.

Complicating the issue was 2018 second-round pick Donte Jackson, 26, who re-signed with the Panthers on a three-year deal last month. The 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Bills, Gilmore has 27 interceptions and 116 passes defended in 10 seasons.

“Ugas was there and after he was inviting me out for dinner with him and his missus. I thought: ‘That’s a bit odd,’ I look at that and think ‘I fancy my chances.’ If he does beat Spence, which I believe is not likely, but it is a fight I’d love in the future.

“I didn’t take him up on dinner. I told him I was busy but as I was walking through the casino, I see him and his missus having food and I went over to say hello and thought ‘That couldn’t have gone anymore awkward really.’

“It’s not that we are from the same country or live the same lifestyle so I was thinking ‘Why does he want me to go to dinner?’ What are we going to do? Sit there and stare at each other. I found it very odd. I don’t know what his motive was.

“I would love to do it for real. I want to test myself against the best in the division. Every challenge they put in front of me I come through it. I’m top five in every governing body and No. 1 in Britain.”

Benn is closing in on a world title shot which he hopes to get later this year or in 2023, as long as he defeats California-based Van Heerden (28-2-1, 12 KOs), a southpaw from South Africa.

Benn added: “I’ve done a lot of southpaw sparring and I love challenges, I love overcoming them. I think I have shown in my last few performances that I can beat any style put in front of me. I think I fill him in, to be honest. I’m prepared for a hard fight.”

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DeMarcus Lawrence agrees to 3-year deal with Dallas Cowboys

DeMarcus Lawrence has agreed to a new three-year deal worth $30 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN, with the new contract providing the Dallas Cowboys salary-cap relief this year.

Lawrence’s future with the team had been in question with a $27 million salary-cap figure and the Cowboys needing to find room just to get under the cap, but the sides were able to work out a deal that keeps him in Dallas through at least 2024.

Lawrence’s $27 million cap figure would have been the fifth-highest hit of any defensive player in 2022.

While the exact figures are not yet known, the Cowboys will have more space to keep their own free agents, like safeties Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker, as well as defensive end Randy Gregory, who has received early interest from multiple teams, counting the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts, according to sources.

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In 2019, Lawrence signed a five-year, $101 million deal that included $65 million in guaranteed money.

After adding a voidable year on to the deal in 2020, the Cowboys tore up the final three years of the original deal in exchange for the new contract.

Lawrence is the heart and soul of the Cowboys’ defense. Since posting 14.5 and 10.5 sacks in 2017 and ’18 that saw him land the franchise tag twice, he has not had more than 6.5 sacks in a season.

He was limited to seven games in 2021 after undergoing foot surgery following the season opener. He concluded with three sacks, five pass deflections, an interception, two tackles for loss and two forced fumbles with the coaches crediting him with 18 tackles.

Over the last five seasons, Lawrence has the fifth-best pass-rush win rate (24.9%), fifth-best pressure percentage (11.7%) and 206 pressures, which are seventh-best in the league.

The Cowboys hope to have Lawrence back with Micah Parsons, who had 13 sacks as a rookie, and Gregory, who matched his career-high with six sacks, in 2022 in Dan Quinn’s second year as their defensive coordinator.

Without the cap space gained from Lawrence, keeping Gregory might have been more difficult or forced the Cowboys to make more roster moves.

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Safety Jessie Bates III, with ‘a real role on our team,’ lands franchise tag from Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals placed their franchise tag on safety Jessie Bates III, the team revealed Monday.

Bates was on the verge of becoming a free agent once his rookie deal expired at the end of the league year. The franchise-tag deadline for all teams is Tuesday.

“Over the past year, we’ve tried to extend his contract here in Cincinnati,” Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in a statement. “While that hasn’t come to pass, we want him here for 2022 to be a part of what we think should be an exciting football season and bright future for our organization.”

The franchise tag allows the Bengals to be in prime position to retain Bates’ services for the 2022 season. The franchise tender amount for safeties is $12.911 million, according to a memo obtained by ESPN on Monday.

At last week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Bengals executive Duke Tobin reiterated that the franchise’s intention was to keep him in Cincinnati.

“He’s a guy that developed and that has played well that has a real role on our team in a lot of different areas, particularly in leadership and playmaking skill,” Tobin said. “He’s a guy we want going forward.”

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The franchise tag allows Bates and the Bengals to negotiate a long-term deal until July 15 at 4 p.m. ET. If no multiyear contract is reached by then, Bates will not be eligible for a contract extension until after the season, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA.

Bates played a pivotal role in the Bengals reaching their first Super Bowl in 33 years.

In four postseason games, he had six pass deflections, 20 tackles and two interceptions, including one in the 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.

The safety, who turned 25 in February, sought a contract extension with the Bengals after a breakout 2020 campaign; however, those preseason discussions did not lead to a new deal.

He started 15 games last campaign, making 88 tackles with an interception, four passes defended and a fumble recovery.

Since joining the Bengals, the 2018 second-round pick has been one of the team’s most dependable starters. He has appeared in 63 of a potential 65 games in four NFL seasons, starting all of them.

A neck injury suffered in a Week 3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers snapped Bates’ streak of 51 consecutive starts, the fifth-longest streak in franchise history.

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Chicago Bears to hire Indianapolis Colts DC Matt Eberflus as head coach

The Chicago Bears will hire Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as their head coach.

Eberflus, 51, also was considered a candidate for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head-coaching vacancy. He will join new general manager Ryan Poles in taking over a Bears team that went 6-11 in 2021 under Matt Nagy and has missed the playoffs in nine of the past 11 seasons.

Chicago also interviewed Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell for the job.

Eberflus has spent the past four seasons as the Colts’ defensive coordinator under coach Frank Reich. His defenses finished in the top 10 in scoring three times, including being tied for ninth in 2021 at 21.5 points per match.

Eberflus will inherit a Bears team that ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense in 2021 but struggled offensively and endured instability at quarterback, where Andy Dalton alternated as the starter with rookie Justin Fields.

The first big question for Eberflus in Chicago will be selecting an offensive coordinator, since a big part of the job for the new coach and GM will be solidifying the quarterback position that has haunted the founding NFL franchise for decades.

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The Bears do not have a first-round draft pick in 2022 because they traded that selection to the New York Giants to select Fields, who showed flashes of potential as a passer and as a runner but concluded with just seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Chicago went 2-8 in the 10 games Fields started this past season.

The Bears made two postseason appearances in their four years under Nagy but last won a playoff game in 2010. They are 1-3 in the postseason since appearing in Super Bowl XLI after the 2006 season, a game the Colts won.

Eberflus, a former linebacker at the University of Toledo who began his coaching career at his alma mater and hometown school, also interviewed for head-coaching jobs last year after his third season with Indianapolis, where he developed a reputation for demanding relentless effort out of his players.

Eberflus’ high standards included counting “loafs” — a term former Bears coach Lovie Smith also used in his Tampa 2 defense. Eberflus refined his style and terminology during a seven-year stint in Dallas, where he worked with Rod Marinelli, who, like Smith, came from the coaching tree of Hall of Famer Tony Dungy.

Now Eberflus will be the second coordinator to leave Indianapolis in two seasons.

Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles filled their head-coaching vacancy with Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, who took a handful of Colts assistants with him.

It’s unclear how many, if any, assistants will follow Eberflus from Indy or Philly to Chicago.

When Eberflus started his coaching career at Toledo in 1992, he spent nine years with the Rockets as a student assistant, grad assistant, outside linebackers and defensive backs coach.

He spent the next eight seasons as Missouri’s defensive coordinator (2001-08) before making the jump to the NFL, where he coached linebackers in Cleveland (2009-10) and Dallas (2011-17) before joining the Colts ahead of the 2018 season.

In Eberflus’ first season in Indianapolis, the Colts improved from 30th to 10th in scoring defense, from 30th to 11th in total defense and from 26th to eighth in rush defense.

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Indianapolis Colts put unvaccinated starting QB Carson Wentz on reserve/COVID-19 list

The Colts have placed starting quarterback Carson Wentz on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team revealed Tuesday.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association on Tuesday adopted the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that would reduce the quarantine time to five days from 10 days for all players, counting those who are unvaccinated, if they are asymptomatic or at least demonstrating that their symptoms are improving, according to a memo obtained by ESPN.

Wentz tested positive, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Wentz would still be able to play on Sunday versus the Las Vegas Raiders as long as the positive test took place Monday and he is asymptomatic or demonstrates his symptoms are improving under the new protocols. Wentz has not shed light on why he remains unvaccinated.

He missed some time before the start of the regular season because he was a close contact to someone who tested positive in the Colts’ organization.

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“I’m not going to go into depth on why, but I will say it’s a personal decision for me and my family,” Wentz said in early September.

“I respect everybody else’s decision, and I just ask that everybody does the same for me. I know that’s not the world we live in, not everyone is going to equally view things the same, but yeah, no one really knows what’s going on in someone else’s household and how things are being handled. It’s a personal decision. That’s just where I’m at on it and with the protocols and everything the way they are, really for us, it’s about understanding them clearly and making sure that we are dotting our I’s and crossing our T’s.”

If Wentz can’t play, rookie Sam Ehlinger, barring the Colts bringing in a quarterback from the outside or going with practice squad quarterback Brett Hundley, will start versus the Raiders.

Ehlinger missed the start of the regular season because of a knee injury suffered in a preseason game at Detroit. His most extensive playing time has been in the final minutes of games that have already been decided.

The Colts, like many other teams around the NFL, have been hit hard with players going on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Wentz is the 15th player currently on the list for the Colts. Linebacker Darius Leonard, guards Quenton Nelson and Mark Glowinski, right tackle Braden Smith, safety Khari Willis and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin are other starters currently out because of COVID-19. Leonard, Nelson and Smith were all unvaccinated as of earlier this season.

The Colts (9-6), winners of eight of their past 10 matches, are currently the fifth seed in the AFC playoff race. Only one game separates the fifth and 11th seed in the AFC. The Colts can lock up a playoff spot with a victory over the Raiders on Sunday.

“The playoff race is close, and I feel like the teams that can handle the COVID-19 situation are going to be the ones that are gonna be able … to get into the playoffs,” Colts defensive lineman DeForest Buckner said after Saturday’s victory over Arizona. “Key players all around the league are out. It’s all about depth.”

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Indianapolis Colts’ Julian Blackmon out for season after tearing Achilles

The injuries just won’t stop for the Colts in 2021, as second-year free safety Julian Blackmon suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in practice Wednesday, the team revealed.

This is Blackmon’s second significant injury in less than two years. He tore an ACL during the Pac-12 championship game while at Utah in 2019. Blackmon, who was selected in the third round of the 2020 draft, recovered quickly enough to play in 15 games and intercept two passes as a rookie.

Blackmon’s season ends with 34 tackles, one forced fumble and one pass defended.

“It’s how we respond that matters!” Blackmon tweeted. “Let’s get this W this week!!” Expect the Colts to add a safety to the active roster, because Khari Willis, George Odum and Andrew Sendejo are the only players at the position presently on the roster.

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Blackmon’s injury adds to what has been a season-long list of injuries for the Colts (2-4). Quarterback Carson Wentz, guard Quenton Nelson, linebacker Darius Leonard, kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, wide receiver Parris Campbell and right tackle Braden Smith are some of the key players who have been out or are currently out for multiple weeks due to substantial injuries.

Blackmon had 34 total tackles and forced one fumble in the Colts’ first six games of the season.

The second-year safety was just eight tackles away from matching the mark he set during his rookie season.

Blackmon, despite tearing his ACL during the Pac-12 championship game, was selected by the Colts in the third round of the 2020 draft and made 14 starts as a rookie. He finished that campaign with 42 tackles and two interceptions.

The Colts (2-4) have placed 19 players on injured reserve since the beginning of training camp in late July, with Blackmon set to be the 20th. Indianapolis plays at San Francisco on Sunday night.

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Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz has sprains to both his ankles, Frank Reich says

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz’s status for the key Week 3 AFC South game at Tennessee is up in the air because of two sprained ankles suffered versus the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, coach Frank Reich stated Monday.

Wentz’s most severe sprain occurred on his right ankle when he tried to scramble and was taken to the ground by Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald with less than eight minutes left in the game.

Wentz didn’t return after limping to the sideline and then throwing his helmet in frustration. Wentz sprained his left ankle earlier in the game, according to Reich.

The coach stated he still had to meet with the team medical staff to get a better indication about Wentz’s ankles.

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“I know Carson has a high threshold for pain,” Reich said. “When you have guy who is a pocket passer, it affects his game less than a guy who is a mobile quarterback. That’s not rocket science. My history with Carson is that he’s a pretty fast healer and he’s tough. If there’s any chance he can play with these ankle sprains, he’ll play. It’s an incredibly big game.”

Wentz is 45-of-69 for 498 yards with three touchdowns and an interception through the first two matches of the season.

The most alarming stat with Wentz is that he has been sacked six times and hit an additional 21 times in those two games. He has played a full season only twice since entering the NFL as the No. 2 overall pick in 2016.

Second-year quarterback Jacob Eason will start against the Titans if Wentz is inactive. Eason threw an interception on his second pass attempt after entering the game in Sunday’s 27-24 loss.

Eason found himself in a quarterback battle with rookie Sam Ehlinger to potentially be the starter when Wentz was out for three weeks while recovering from left foot surgery during training camp. The Colts have not started a season 0-3 since 2011.

“If Jacob has to play, Jacob will be ready,” Reich said. “The situation he got thrown into [late in Sunday’s game] was as tough as it gets. I can tell you that from experience. He’ll be ready if he has to be.”

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Seattle Seahawks expecting to be without Rashaad Penny for at least Week 2

The Seattle Seahawks fear running back Rashaad Penny will miss this weekend’s game versus the Tennessee Titans and possibly longer because of a calf injury, coach Pete Carroll stated Monday.

Penny, the Seahawks’ No. 2 running back behind Chris Carson, left Sunday’s season-opening victory over the Indianapolis Colts after seven snaps and two carries for 8 yards.

Carroll said after the 28-16 victory that the team played it safe by pulling Penny when the calf tightened up, knowing it had three other tailbacks available.

On Monday, Carroll called Penny’s injury a calf strain. “It’ll take us a bit to figure out what the return will be on that,” Carroll said. “He ran really well when he ran … so we’re going to miss him, it looks like, this week.”

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Carroll later mentioned the option that Penny could be out a couple of weeks.

He said the team is in “good shape” at the position with Carson, Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer.

Collins was inactive Sunday, one of six healthy scratches for the Seahawks after they entered their opener with no one listed as out, doubtful or questionable on their final injury report.

Penny’s career has been marred by injuries since Seattle chose him 27th overall in the 2018 draft. He missed 21 regular-season games over his first three seasons, including 13 last year after tearing an ACL in December 2019.

He missed the offseason program following a cleanup procedure on the knee, then got off to a strong start in training camp only to miss more time with a thigh injury.

The Seahawks declined Penny’s fifth-year option in May, making 2021 a contract season. Also Monday, Carroll said the Seahawks will know more Wednesday about the statuses of wide receivers Dee Eskridge and Penny Hart, who both left the opener with head injuries and are now in the concussion protocol.

Carroll stated he hadn’t seen the test results on backup center Ethan Pocic’s sprained knee. Pocic rotated in with starter Kyle Fuller for 14 snaps before he was hurt in the fourth quarter.

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Indianapolis Colts’ Carson Wentz to have foot surgery, out 5-12 weeks, coach Frank Reich says

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz had surgery Monday on his injured left foot and be sidelined approximately five to 12 weeks, coach Frank Reich said.

Reich said it’s an old injury, possibly from high school, and a broken bone came loose in Wentz’s foot. Wentz felt a “twinge in his foot” when he rolled out and planted to throw late in Thursday’s practice, offensive coordinator Marcus Brady stated Friday.

The Colts met with multiple doctors to see what the best recovery process was.

All the parties involved agreed surgery was the way to go to remove the bone out of the fifth metatarsal of Wentz’s foot and ensure the injury didn’t return.

“I think it was a gut punch for him for about two hours,” Reich said. Reich said the reason for the wide recovery timetable is because players recover at different ranges.

The team will possibly have a better understanding on Wentz’s return once he starts the rehabilitation process between the two to four week range. The first two weeks after the surgery will be mainly rest.

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“Knowing Carson, I’m optimistic,” Reich said. “Knowing this is the type of injury you don’t have to be pain-free to play in. You have to get to an acceptable level of tolerating pain and then you can start playing. That could happen early.”

Dr. David Porter, an orthopedic foot specialist who works with the Colts, performed the surgery Monday in Indianapolis, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Colts gave up a third-round pick in this year’s draft and a conditional second-round pick (which could become a first-rounder if Wentz either plays at least 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps or plays 70% of the snaps and the Colts reach the playoffs) in the 2022 draft to get Wentz.

Wentz was benched in favor of Jalen Hurts with the Eagles last season after being sacked 50 times and throwing 15 interceptions in 12 matches.

Injuries have been part of Wentz’s first five years in the NFL. He suffered a season-ending torn ACL late in the 2017 season. He has played a full season just twice in his career.

The schedule doesn’t do the Colts in any favors. The Colts’ first five games of the regular season are versus teams — the Seahawks, Rams, Titans, Dolphins and Ravens — that went a combined 54-26 last season, with four of them making the playoffs.

The Colts, despite knowing Wentz’s injury history, lack experience at quarterback. Jacob Eason, Sam Ehlinger, Jalen Morton and Brett Hundley, whom the Colts signed Saturday, are the other quarterbacks on the roster.

Hundley is the only one of the four who has attempted an NFL pass. Eason, a fourth-round pick in 2020, will continue to receive first-team reps in practice and have an opportunity to start the regular season if Wentz is still sidelined.

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