Tagged in: injuries

Four-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati says he’s retiring after 11 seasons

Four-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati, who spent the past two years with the Seattle Seahawks, is retiring after 11 seasons in the NFL.

Iupati revealed his decision in an interview with Spokane newspaper The Spokesman-Review, saying, “My body was telling me it was time to close the door.”

The 33-year-old was a first-team All-Pro in 2012 with the San Francisco 49ers, who drafted him 17th overall out of Idaho in 2010. He made three Pro Bowls in five seasons with the 49ers and one in four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He then played on consecutive one-year deals with the Seahawks, starting 25 matches.

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A model of toughness, Iupati played through multiple injuries in the latter portion of his career, most notably dealing with a chronic neck issue that started in 2015 and ultimately convinced him his time in football was over.

Iupati missed six games in 2020 while dealing with injuries to his knee, back and neck.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll referred to Iupati’s late-season neck injury as a stinger and said it was something he had dealt with earlier in his career. According to The Spokesman-Review, “a chronic neck condition convinced him he needed to give the game up.”

“I know I’m going to miss it,” Iupati told the newspaper about playing football. “But I’m kind of excited. I’ve got four boys and I’m taking care of them every day.”

Iupati told the newspaper his goal was to play 10 NFL seasons. Spotrac.com lists him with more than $50.75 million in on-field earnings over his career. Iupati and center Ethan Pocic were Seattle’s two starting offensive linemen from 2020 who were planned to become unrestricted free agents.

Earlier this month, quarterback Russell Wilson publicly stated his desire for the Seahawks to improve their pass protection.

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Carolina Panthers release DT Kawann Short

Kawann Short has been around the NFL long enough to realize what happens to guys as they age, stack up injuries, and get expensive.

Tuesday, it happened.

The Panthers released the veteran defensive tackle Tuesday, starting the process of clearing up some cap space.

They’ll save $8.6 million worth of room with the move, which will come in handy. With the salary cap for 2021 dropping from $198.2 million to $175 million (though it could rise slightly in the coming weeks), every dollar is going to count this offseason.

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This was a predictable move, and Short seemed to realize it

Explaining at the end of the season that he knew his combination of age, recent injuries, and finances made this likely.

“We’re all grown here. So you know what it is,” Short said the day after the season. “This is a ‘what can you do for me now’ business, so for me to have injuries back to back, it definitely put that in your head, whether the team wants you or not.”

The 32-year-old Short has played in just five games the last two seasons because of shoulder problems and had the second-highest cap number on the roster for 2021, making the move inevitable.

When healthy, he was a steady producer for the Panthers with 32.5 sacks in his first six seasons. And they’ll clearly need to find someone who can do what he did when well, as coaches have identified adding a three-technique defensive tackle spot as a priority.

Converted defensive end Efe Obada was useful there last season, second on the team with 5.5 sacks, but they’d like to find a productive starter to continue to use him as a reserve.

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Ravens sign veteran CB Tramon Williams

The Ravens have added a veteran cornerback to fortify a position hit hard by injuries. Tramon Williams, who has spent most of his career with the Green Bay Packers, has been signed to the 53-man roster.

Williams substitutes cornerback Khalil Dorsey (shoulder), who has been placed on injured reserve.

The 37-year-old Williams has 34 career interceptions, but has not played this campaign after his second stint with the Packers ended in 2019. An undrafted free agent in 2006 from Louisiana Tech, Williams had his best years with the Packers, where he played from 2006-14 and acquired a Super Bowl in 2010.

In his second stint with Green Bay that started in 2018, Williams started 23 games, including seven games last season. Though he has primarily been a cornerback, Williams also played some safety for the Packers last season.

Williams has also played for the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals.

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Williams will add depth to the cornerback rotation that includes Pro Bowlers Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, veteran Jimmy Smith and second-year pro Terrell Bonds. Humphrey (COVID-19) is expected to return this week after missing Sunday’s game versus the Indianapolis Colts.

Dorsey, who dislocated his shoulder during Sunday’s game in Indianapolis, joins a lengthy list of injured cornerbacks from Baltimore. Tavon Young and Iman Marshall are out for the season with knee injuries and Anthony Averett (shoulder) is on injured reserve, though he could return later this year.

Dorsey will be out at least the next three matches. The Ravens have also signed two players to the practice squad – defensive back Nate Brooks and offensive tackle R.J. Prince. Prince was on the Ravens’ practice squad last season and has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brooks was an undrafted free agent from North Texas in 2019 who has been with the Cardinals, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.

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San Francisco 49ers trade LB Kwon Alexander to New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints continued their aggressive approach toward the 2020 season by obtaining linebacker Kwon Alexander from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso and a conditional fifth-round draft pick.

Both linebackers are on the mend from injuries. Alexander missed the past three weeks with a high ankle sprain but returned to practice last week. Alonso, meanwhile, has not played yet this season after tearing his ACL in January. But he also returned to practice last month.

The 49ers signed Alexander to a four-year, $54 million contract as a free agent from Tampa Bay last campaign. But Alexander, 26, was limited last year by a torn pectoral muscle before returning for their playoff run.

This was a way for the 49ers to shed salary because they like their depth at the position — specifically second-year linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who has started in Alexander’s place whenever he has been injured.

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The Saints, meanwhile, have one of the NFL’s best run defenses.

But the athletic 6-foot-1, 227-pounder should help their pass coverage while playing alongside All-Pro Demario Davis. Both players are Mike/Will linebacker hybrids.

Coach Sean Payton stated Monday the Saints envision Alexander as a Will linebacker, where he will compete for playing time with current starter Alex Anzalone while Davis plays more of the Mike linebacker role.

Payton said it would be difficult for Alexander to play Sunday night at Tampa Bay because of the five-day onboarding process that is required. But Payton said the “goal” is for Alexander to be able to suit up in Week 10 — versus the 49ers of all teams in New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints can easily afford Alexander’s deal for the rest of this season, as he is due less than $1 million in base salary and per-game roster bonuses over their final nine matches. However, they will have a decision to make next year before Alexander is due an additional $13.4 million in salary and bonuses.

Only $2 million is guaranteed for injury-only. Alexander is due another $13.5 million in 2022, none of which is guaranteed.

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Koepka out of U.S Open over ongoing injuries

Brooks Koepka, who has been hampered by a knee problem for the better part of a year, withdrew from next week’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot, tweeting, “I’m looking forward to getting healthy and competing at 100% again very soon.”

Koepka has collected two of the past three U.S. Opens and concluded second to Gary Woodland last year at Pebble Beach.

Last month, Koepka was attempting to become the first player since Walter Hagen in the 1920s to collect three straight PGA Championships, but he fell out of contention with a final-round 74 at Harding Park.

Koepka missed the cut the following week at the Wyndham Championship then withdrew from the first FedEx Cup playoff event, the Northern Trust, ending his 2019-20 campaign.

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He has dropped to No. 8 in the world after starting 2020 in the top spot.

The four-time major champion had a stem cell procedure on his left knee after last year’s Tour Championship then aggravated the injury at a tournament in South Korea in October. He didn’t play again until January, and it’s mostly been a struggle since.

Koepka finished seventh at the RBC Heritage after the PGA Tour’s restart and tied for second in early August at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He was just two shots out of the lead heading into the final round of the PGA Championship before dropping to a tie for 29th.

“My golf swing’s fine,” Koepka said after missing the cut at the Wyndham. “If I can physically do it, then yes, everything’s fine.”

But Koepka has also complained about trying to get to his left side in his swing, and during the second round of the PGA Championship, he three times had a trainer help with his hip.

“It just locked up, cramped,” Koepka said. “I couldn’t do anything with it.”

Paul Waring will replace Koepka based on his Official World Golf Ranking as of Aug. 23. The U.S. Open starts Sept. 17 after being rearranged from June due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States Golf Association has yet to announce an alternate to take Koepka’s place in the field of 144.

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D.J Humphries to re-sign with Cardinals for 3 years

The Arizona Cardinals reportedly are hanging on to 2015 first-round pick D.J. Humphries. 

According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the 26-year-old offensive tackle has agreed to a three-year, $45 million contract with $29 million guaranteed and $30 million to be paid over the first two years.

Humphries was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim hinted that a deal was imminent on last Friday while appearing on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (h/t Cards Wire’s Jess Root): “I would just say that I’m very optimistic that D.J. will return.”

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In December, Kyle Odegard of the team’s official website relayed that Humphries was Pro Football Focus’ 23rd-best player at his position with a minimum of 500 snaps. 

The Cardinals ended 2019 at 5-10-1, but there is reason for optimism in the near future with 2019 No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray at quarterback—especially with Humphries locked in to continue protecting him.

Humphries will also play a large role in Arizona solidifying its identity on the ground after finishing as the 10th-best rushing offense last campaign.

“I’d like to continue to be a physical run team,” Kingsbury told ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss last week. “I think when you can mix in the quarterback having his 40, 50 [yards]—we’re never going to run him 20, 25 times—but guys are playing at a physical level on the perimeter, up front, and it’s paying off.”

Humphries is coming off his regular season in which he appeared in all 16 matches. The Florida product didn’t play during his 2015 rookie campaign before playing 13 games in 2016 and being limited to five in 2017 and nine in 2018 with persistent injuries. Humphries made $9.63 million last year in his option season.

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