Tagged in: offseason

Carolina Panthers, Robby Anderson reach 2-year extension

Wide receiver Robby Anderson didn’t waste any time during Tuesday’s practice showing why he deserved the two-year extension the Carolina Panthers gave him earlier in the day that sources said is worth $29.5 million.

First, the 28-year-old made a one-handed snag of a scrambling Sam Darnold pass that — while just out of bounds in the end zone — was spectacular.

Later, he made an even more impressive catch of a deep pass from Darnold that went off his hand, off the back foot of cornerback Donte Jackson and back into Anderson’s hands for a touchdown.

As hot as it was outdoors with the heat index right at 100 degrees, Anderson was even hotter in the team’s indoor practice facility.

“Since I came here I felt like I was finding my dream,” stated Anderson, who signed a two-year deal with Carolina last season after spending his first four seasons with the New York Jets.

“Early on in my career, I was kind of lost in a sense and trying to find my way. “I wouldn’t call them mistakes. I would call them lessons that I learned, putting me where I need to be around people I need to be around for me to learn from those things and grow into a better man.”

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That Anderson gets the opportunity to reunite with Darnold figured into his decision to sign the extension of which $20.5 million is guaranteed, according to sources. Anderson was Darnold’s favorite target with the Jets in 2018 and 2019. He had 102 catches for 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns during that time.

“That’s a big factor, too,” Anderson said. “Being back with a quarterback that I’m confident in, that I know is going to be here as well … everything across the board it was all checkmarks.”

The Panthers traded for Darnold during the offseason, then picked up his fifth-year option that locks him down through 2022.

Keeping Darnold surrounded by skill players such as Anderson, the Panthers believe, gives him the best chance to succeed after struggling for three years in New York. They’ve already picked up the fifth-year option on wide receiver DJ Moore for next season and still could sign him to an extension.

They also have running back Christian McCaffrey locked down through 2025 after signing him to a four-year, $64 million extension last year.

“I’m excited for this season, and also excited for the future,” Anderson said.

Anderson is coming off a career-high 95 catches for 1,096 yards in an offense that was missing McCaffrey for 13 games. He believes he can be even better moving forward.

“The main goal is to win,” said Anderson, referring to the Panthers going 5-11 last season. “I’m just glad to have the opportunity for us to accomplish what we’re really working for.”

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Green Bay Packers bringing back Jake Dolegala for QB depth

With Jordan Love’s shoulder still an issue and Aaron Rodgers not expected to play in the preseason, the Green Bay Packers are bringing back quarterback Jake Dolegala.

The signing was not revealed by the team but was made public by his agency, Generation Sports Group.

The team will have to make room on the roster before it can make it official. They were at the NFL-mandated limit of 85 players as of Tuesday.

Dolegala spent nearly two months with the Packers this offseason. He was signed in June after participating in the team’s mandatory minicamp but was released on July 27 shortly before training camp, when Rodgers ended his holdout and returned to the team. The Packers also released veteran Blake Bortles on the same day.

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Love injured his right (throwing) shoulder in the Packers’ preseason opener on Saturday. Coach Matt LaFleur implied that there’s no long-term concern but that Love might miss some time. He was held out of practice on Monday, and the team did not practice on Tuesday. They Packers start two days of joint practices with the New York Jets on Wednesday leading into their preseason game on Saturday.

LaFleur said Love could “potentially” play versus the Jets.

Love was expected to play into the third quarter last week against the Houston Texans but instead was pulled at halftime. Kurt Benkert, the third quarterback on the roster, played the second half.

Dolegala was originally signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He was the Bengals’ No. 3 QB that season but was released following the 2020 training camp. He spent parts of last season on the Patriots’ practice squad and briefly returned to them early in training camp this year.

Before Tuesday’s cut to 85, the Packers also swapped cornerbacks with the New York Giants. They traded 2018 second-round pick Josh Jackson for 2018 third-round pick Isaac Yiadom.

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Jordan Love prepared to be Green Bay’s starting quarterback but says it’s ‘great’ Aaron Rodgers returned

He’s not to the point where he’s giving long and revealing answers like Aaron Rodgers, and he’s not one to crack up the room like third-stringer Kurt Benkert, so what is Jordan Love as he settles into the No. 2 quarterback job with the Green Bay Packers now that the reigning NFL MVP has returned?

No one’s immediate future was more up in the air during Rodgers’ standoff with the team than Love’s. Yet to hear his teammates tell it and to listen to him answer questions, Love was — and still is — nothing if not calm and even-keeled.

“Obviously there’s going to be either two options: Either he was going to be back or he wasn’t,” Love stated of Rodgers on Thursday in his first public comments since training camp opened on July 28.

“So yeah, I mean, it’s obviously very great to have Aaron back just on this team. Obviously he’s a huge presence at the quarterback position and in the locker room as well and then as a leader on the team, so it’s great to have him back.”

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A day after Rodgers said he tried to keep Love abreast of any developments during the offseason — because as Rodgers said, “I just felt that’s what I would want in that situation, just to hear from the guy” — Love called their relationship like a Master and Padawan, referring to one of Rodgers’ favorite movies, “Star Wars.”

Love said he found out about Rodgers’ return just before he boarded a plane to Green Bay for training camp.

“Actually, the whole time I had to convince myself that I was going to be the starter,” Love said. “That’s the only way you can look at that situation. I feel like if you don’t, you won’t be ready. That’s how I looked at it the whole way — is in my head he wasn’t coming back, I’ve got to get myself ready to be the starter.”

It was an invaluable offseason of work for Love, the 26th overall pick of the 2020 draft, given that he served as the No. 3 quarterback last season and did not even suit up for a single match as a rookie.

Much like in offseason practices, Love has experienced good and bad days so far in camp. Take Thursday, for example. He completed a tight-window crosser to Reggie Begelton and had perfect placement on a deep sideline out to Devin Funchess. But then during the two-minute drill, he went 0-for-3 with a pair of turnovers on downs and an interception by undrafted rookie Christian Uphoff on a wobbly deep ball.

“It was funny, I was talking to him in pre-practice today just about how things are going, and he seems so calm this year,” Packers guard Lucas Patrick said Thursday. “You can tell that he’s picking up on everything, and I think those OTAs reps were crucial for him. Just a ton of reps to say the cadence, say the playcall, go through things, hit strikes on quick stuff. Yeah, so I think he’s handling it well.”

Love said it helps that he can work in what he called “a great quarterback room” where he’s surrounded by the thoughtful Rodgers and the outgoing Benkert. While Rodgers was revealing again in his comments on Wednesday and Benkert cracked up the room by telling reporters the story of how he got cut by the Falcons earlier this year and that he basically invited himself to a July 4 cookout with some Packers fans, Love was his composed and buttoned-up self as he waits his turn.

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Johnathan Abram’s goal is to play under control for Las Vegas Raiders

First, the Las Vegas Raiders signed Karl Joseph. Then they used a second-round draft pick on Trevon Moehrig. Tyree Gillespie came in the fourth round.

Surely, bringing in three new safeties had to send a message to incumbent starter Johnathan Abram, right? Meh …

“It doesn’t,” insisted Abram, a first-round draft pick in 2019, after Wednesday’s OTA practice. “Only thing it does is bring us together. As soon as those guys got drafted, as soon as Karl got signed back, I reached out to everybody. I told them, ‘It’s time to go to work.’

“Each guy’s going to push each other. We’re all going to come out every single day and just be our best. Day in and day out. Being a pro … if everybody does that, it’s going to make the room entirely better.”

And it should improve Abram’s oft-boom or bust, heat-seeking-missile style.

For one thing, Abram is settling in at a new position as a box safety in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s heavy Cover-3 scheme.

“It’s interesting going from what we went to last year, playing a lot of split-safety, playing high,” Abram said. “So this is going to be more suitable to my talents and my strengths.”

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For another, Abram realizes he needs to slow down a tad and not always go for the kill shot, lest he take out a teammate — which has happened on occasion — or himself — yeah, that’s happened, too.

Like his rookie campaign, when he played all of one half of the 2019 season opener due to a self-inflicted shoulder injury.

“Last offseason was a struggle for me coming off the shoulder injury,” he said. “So this year I stayed around the facility a lot … I’m more than 100 percent, honestly. I’m as strong as I’ve ever been.

“This year, [the goal is] just being more consistent. Playing under control. Not really taking that many wild hits, getting myself knocked out of the game [and] hurting my own body … being consistent, being disciplined and constantly just doing my job. Filling my grade sheet with ‘plusses’ every day. Then every Sunday, I think my game will blossom.”

It’s only OTAs, and they are voluntary, but 83 of the 89 players on the Raiders’ current roster were practicing on Wednesday, with running back Josh Jacobs, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson, tight end Derek Carrier, cornerback Isaiah Johnson and rookie linebacker/safety Divine Deablo not participating.

But there was Abram, taking on a leadership role with the defensive backs on a far side of the field.

And as draft classmate Clelin Ferrell noted, he has seen Abram focusing on “making it a special year” for both himself and the Raiders.

“All of us, we’re tired of losing,” Ferrell said. “Seeing his discipline, he’ll bring the guys along on the back end and the way he’s trying to push the fact that we’ve really got to learn this defense, so we can just go out there and play.”

Abram had two interceptions last season. He was also criticized for his inconsistent ball skills and for being badly out of position on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ 22-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Travis Kelce in the final minute of the Raiders’ loss to the Chiefs on Nov. 22.

Still, as former Raiders defensive backs coach Jim O’Neil stated last year, it is easier to get a player to slow down than to get him to speed up.

Now, Abram has a new position coach in 21-year coaching veteran Ron Milus.

And Abram also has a couple of veterans in the secondary to lean on in new cornerback Casey Hayward Jr., who has played for Bradley, and a one-time roommate in Joseph. Remember, Abram and Joseph started one match together and now Joseph is entering his sixth season.

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Kansas City Chiefs tackle Mitchell Schwartz has back surgery, eyes healthy 2021 season

Chiefs right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is starting his offseason with a procedure.

Schwartz is undergoing surgery Wednesday after a back injury stripped him of 10 regular-season matches and the entire postseason. The ailment is the only one to hold Schwartz out of any games over his nine-year NFL career, offering an indication as to its severity.

In a social media post Wednesday before the operation, Schwartz said he anticipates returning for 2021, which could provide the first important step toward the Chiefs solving the offensive line woes that played a significant factor in the Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay.

“I was hoping to recover enough to get back for the playoffs/Super Bowl, but that didn’t happen,” Schwartz wrote in his Tweet. “It’s time to address the issue. The recovery process isn’t too long, which is nice. Looking forward to a healthy 2021!” Schwartz, 31, has one year left on a contract that will pay him nearly $10 million.

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When healthy, he has been one of the game’s best right tackles — and before this season was one of its most reliable. In 2019, Schwartz did not allow a sack all season, according to Pro Football Focus.

He missed a snap during the 2019 season for the first time in his career but returned in the same game.

He attempted to play through this back injury in the 2020 season, starting in Buffalo before removing himself from the Week 6 contest. He never returned over the remainder of the season but put off surgery in hopes of a potential Super Bowl appearance.

The Chiefs could have used him. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was pressured on 29 of his 56 dropbacks and scrambled 497 yards behind the line of scrimmage in an effort to buy more time. The Chiefs were on their third-string right tackle in the game.

Mike Remmers had filled in for Schwartz most of the season — and done so admirably — but when Eric Fisher injured his Achilles in the AFC Championship Game, Remmers moved to left tackle and guard Andrew Wylie kicked out to right tackle.

Both players struggled at their new spots versus the Buccaneers. Schwartz joined the Chiefs in 2016 in free agency, signing a five-year contract that made him one of the most-compensated right tackles at the time. He spent his first four seasons in Cleveland.

The Chiefs have won the AFC West division title every season Schwartz has been on the team.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady to have minor knee surgery during offseason

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady will undergo a minor surgical procedure on his knee this offseason, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The upcoming surgery was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

A source close to the situation told ESPN that this was not a recent injury and that Brady, who led the Bucs to a triumph Sunday in Super Bowl LV, had been planning the procedure for months. It wasn’t instantly clear which knee the procedure will be on.

Brady was not listed on the Bucs’ injury report all campaign. He was listed on the report as “not injury related” when he was given a handful of off days by coach Bruce Arians, something the Bucs also did with Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh and other veteran players.

Brady wore a brace on his left knee Wednesday during the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl boat parade.

But wearing the brace is not unusual for the 43-year-old Brady, who also wears it when golfing and during other recreational activities.

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Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time in his career Sunday after passing for 201 yards and three touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s 31-9 triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Brady’s knee certainly didn’t seem to bother him in the least during the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl run. He threw 10 touchdown passes and only three interceptions in four postseason games, with a passer rating of 98.1.

Brady has already said he’ll “definitely” consider playing beyond 45. With his longevity and durability, there’s no reason to doubt him.

With the victory, Brady has more Super Bowl titles (seven) than any franchise in NFL history, topping the six each won by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.

Brady also became the only player with five Super Bowl MVPs; Joe Montana is second all time with three.

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Denver Broncos’ Von Miller considered opting out of season

Dozens of players have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL campaign due to COVID-19 concerns, and Denver Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller considered doing so as well.

The eight-time Pro Bowler was the second NFL player to reportedly test positive for the coronavirus back in May, but he feels as though the job the Broncos are doing to keep their players safe is enough for him to feel ready to return to the field.

“I weighed the positives and negatives and came to my own decision and felt like I could play,” Miller said during a video conference, per the Denver Post. “The job the Broncos are doing to keep us safe was enough for me to not opt out.”

Miller stated earlier this offseason that he was “shocked” to learn that he had tested positive for COVID-19 since he had been taking safety provisions seriously.  “It was hard for me to get my wind back for probably two or three weeks after the virus,” Miller said.

“Everybody’s symptoms aren’t the same, but for me, I lost my taste and smell. I couldn’t really eat because when you can’t taste or smell food, you lose your appetite.”

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The former first-round pick was an early advocate for daily testing and said that it was the key to the NFL being able to host a safe and successful season. The league ended up taking Miller’s advice, as players are required to register multiple negative tests before they are permitted to take their physicals and hit the practice field. 

If there was one positive thing to come from his COVID-19 experience, Miller said that it has definitely started conversations among his teammates in the locker room. Since he takes it seriously, Denver’s other players will as well. 

“From my teammates, I get all types of questions about the virus,” Miller said. “I feel like it’s me pushing (the conversation) out there and saying, ‘This thing is serious. It’s very, very serious.’ … We see the types of things happening in baseball (with outbreaks) and we just don’t want that to happen in the NFL.”

While Miller will not be opting out this year, players have until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET to opt out of the 2020 season.

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Safety Jamal Adams requests trade from Jets

Jamal Adams’ trade request escalated from a social media rant to a real-life demand.

Frustrated by slow-moving contract negotiations and without much other leverage, Adams informed the team Thursday he wants to be dealt, The Post confirmed. It sets up what could be a messy split-up because the Jets are not inclined to move on from their best player – at least not without a significant package in return.

Adams’ frequent use of social media to voice his displeasure with the two years and $13.45 million remaining on his contract – and the slow-moving negotiations on an extension – reached another level Wednesday. “Maybe it’s time to move on,” Adams wrote Wednesday in reply to a Jets fan on Instagram.

Adams’ message last week, as word leaked the Browns and defensive end Myles Garrett are in talks on an extension, was the Jets are “all talk no action.”

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Now? Adams is venting at Jets fans and bringing Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes into the conversation. Garrett (No. 1), Adams (No. 6) and Mahomes (No. 10) were picked in the 2017 NFL Draft and this is the first offseason players from that class are eligible for an extension on original deals.

“What does Pat have to do with me?” Adams replied to a fan. “Pat is about to get 40 to 60 M’s (million) a year. Well deserved. That’s my guy. But don’t compare me to QB’s if you aren’t paying me QB money.”

Running back Christian McCaffrey signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Panthers earlier this offseason.

He was selected two picks after Adams.

So, Adams can’t figure out why the Jets are not acting like the Browns and Panthers. Adams did not participate in the Jets’ voluntary virtual offseason to send a message and it seems the two sides could be headed toward a holdout if training camps start on time July 28.

“Don’t use the pandemic excuse,” Adams wrote. “CM22 got paid not too long ago. … [I am going to] protect myself just like the organization will look out for themselves at the end of the day.”

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