What the Giants should do with Odell Beckham Jr.
Mar 14

Odell Beckham Jr.’s four-plus years in New York have been marked as much by highlight catches as they have been by dramatics on and off the field. Sometimes it’s the silliness of messing with a kicking net on the sideline to celebrate touchdowns. Sometimes it’s having a party on a boat with teammates days before a playoff game, which, being the NFL, erupts into a scandal that reinforces the notion that fun is antithetical to winning.

Unfortunately now, that wild side has manifested itself in a Snapchat video leaked online that shows Beckham partying in a hotel room while also appearing to have been partaking in weed and cocaine. Though the woman featured in the video told the New York Daily News that Beckham wasn’t using drugs, for some in New York media, this was a transgression too far, perhaps because it could lead to the receiver being suspended to start the 2018 season, the last for which he is currently under contract.

The Giants entered the 2017 season as favored contenders in the NFC, presumably led by a powerhouse receiving corps that had just added veteran Brandon Marshall as a third. Big Blue flamed out in spectacular fashion, and that hyped group of receivers was mostly absent with injury, leading the Giants to fire second-year head coach Ben McAdoo before the season was even over. The franchise considers itself a marquee member in the NFL and shall countenance no such embarrassments. The franchise might have little credibility post-Josh Brown to assert itself as a entity of moral rectitude, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t try.

Even Cris Carter, the Hall of Fame receiver who was helping mentor Beckham last year, was exasperated with this latest development, telling OBJ in a TV spot to grow up if he ever wants to be paid among the highest in the game. For what it’s worth, Beckham has indicated he’s seeking roughly $20 million per year in his next contract.

Browns’ Joe Thomas retires after 11 seasons, gone fishin’ for good
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Mar 14
The moment the Browns hoped they could put off for another year has arrived: Joe Thomas has finally hung up the Gone Fishin’ sign in his locker for good after 11 seasons.

He made the announcement in a press release on Wednesday, the start of the NFL League year.

The player who rocked the NFL boat by going fishing with his dad on Lake Michigan during the 2007 draft instead of sweating it out in the green room is walking away from the game while he still can.

In doing so, Thomas leaves a $3 million roster bonus on the table due March 18th that the Browns awarded him in November to entice him to come back from a season-ending torn triceps tendon suffered Oct. 22.

The sweetened pot would’ve made him the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL at about $13.5 million a year.

Thomas, 33, grapped with the decision over the past few months, but ultimately his creaky limbs and joints provided the answer. He still loves the game and believes he can play at a high level. It wasn’t even the surgically-repaired triceps that was the problem. It was his achy back and knees that forced the decision.

“You’ve seen that as the season wears on I just don’t have anything to give during the week anymore,” Thomas in December. “I can’t practice, I can’t even really stand out there and watch practice. Your body’s just so beat up. Your joints, your knees, your back, you just physically can’t even stand.”

Knowing that Thomas was leaning towards retirement, the Browns tried hard to sign Patriots free agent left tackle Nate Solder as his replacement over the past few days. But Solder, 29, opted to sign instead with the Giants, who made him the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL at $15.5 million a year.

Jets give second-round tender to Quincy Enunwa
Newark Star-Ledger
Mar 14
The Jets on Wednesday, as the new league year was beginning, announced their restricted free agent tenders, led by wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who got a second-round tender. It was the expected move by the Jets — a no-brainer decision, really.

Enunwa, a promising player, missed all of last season with a neck injury. Enunwa is now entering a contract year, hopeful he can build on his breakout third season, in 2016, when he had 58 catches for 857 yards and four touchdowns. The Jets drafted him in Round 6 in 2014.

Enunwa rejoins a receiver room led last year by Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse. Enunwa was going to be the Jets’ No. 1 returning receiver entering the season, but he got hurt.

Julius Peppers returns to Panthers for another year
Pro Football Talk
Mar 14

The Panthers checked off another big box in free agency, though they still have work to do at the position.

According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, defensive end Julius Peppers will return to the Panthers, on what is expected to be a one-year deal.

The 38-year-old Peppers had 11.0 sacks last year in his return to the team that drafted him second overall in 2002, proving that he can still contribute at a high level.

If Drew Brees will consider leaving, Browns could make an enormous offer
Pro Football Talk
Feb 17

Drew Brees has said repeatedly this offseason that he has no interest in playing for any team other than the Saints. But with each passing day, Brees gets one day closer to his contract with the Saints expiring. Which means that with each passing day, we’re one day closer to some team being able — without risking a tampering violation — to try to convince Brees to leave.

And that brings us to the Browns.

New Browns G.M. John Dorsey has indicated that he wants to end the slow rebuild and win right away, and there’s no player who would more epitomize an effort to win right away than Brees. And the Browns could make an offer to Brees that would blow all other offers away.

The Browns are estimated to have a whopping $110 million in 2018 salary cap space, meaning they’re first in the league in cap space by more than $30 million. Cleveland could offer Brees an insane contract. Cleveland could sign him to a one-year, $50 million contract and the Browns would still have $60 million in cap space, which would still be more than all but four other teams.

Would Brees consider going to the Browns? Probably not. Remember, this is all hypothetical until Brees comes off his stance that he’s staying in New Orleans.

But Cleveland wouldn’t necessarily be as bad a destination as you might think the Browns’ 0-16 record makes them.

4 questions about Rob Gronkowski’s future in the NFL, answered
Feb 17

Could Rob Gronkowski’s most recent season with the Patriots really be his last?

Following New England’s disappointing Super Bowl LII loss, Gronkowski refused to say whether he plans to return to the field in 2018. The tight end repeatedly gave noncommittal responses when pressed about his intentions for the upcoming year.

“I’m definitely going to look at my future, for sure, sit down in the next couple weeks, and see where I’m at,” he told reporters during his postgame media availability. “We fought all year long — all the receivers, running backs, lineman. We put all the work in together, so I’m just going to reflect on the season … We’ll see what happens.”

The lack of certainty surrounding Gronkowski’s future was seemingly upstaged by other Patriots storylines — Malcolm Butler’s benching and Josh McDaniels’s sudden change of heart — in the aftermath of their Super Bowl defeat. But the possibility of losing one of team’s strongest offensive weapons is reportedly very real.

Here’s Why Denver Would Be Remiss In Releasing C.J. Anderson
Feb 17

It’s easy to look at C.J. Anderson’s $4.5 million salary cap number for 2018 and say that he’s an obvious roster cut if the Denver Broncos are looking to free up money. However, that sentiment is wrong.

Anderson might no longer be quite the explosive play-maker he was in 2014 and 2015, but he still brings a tremendous value to the Broncos. Coming off the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his career, Anderson brings much more to the table than his skill-set as a ball-carrier.

Most Broncos fans can remember that fateful night in January of 2015, when the Broncos were losing at home to the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Even with the great Peyton Manning calling the signals, Denver’s offense was devoid of life and listing like a ship about to capsize.

The one guy who kept on fighting regardless of the scoreboard was the second-year C.J. Anderson. The quintessential play came with the third quarter winding down, and the Broncos losing 21-10.

It was 4th-&-1 and the Broncos were going for it. As an offense dead on arrival, Denver absolutely had to move the chains and spark some momentum.

Anderson took the handoff from Manning, and followed his blockers on the right, only to be met in the backfield by a defensive tackle, reversed field, broke two more tackles and bounded forward for a six-yard gain. It might have felt like the Broncos offense had thrown in the towel early, but not Anderson.

That cold night in the Mile High City, Anderson showed heart in a shocking defeat. And he’s been doing it ever since for the Broncos.

Under the enormous pressure and disappointment of an eight-game losing streak in 2017, Anderson never gave up. He kept pounding the rock, providing some fire in the backfield on the way to picking up tough yards behind a beleaguered and often patchwork offensive line.

Will Giants break the bank for free agent OL Andrew Norwell, a Dave Gettleman find?
Newark Star-Ledger
Feb 17

All signs point to the Giants making a big run at Andrew Norwell.

But how big?

The Giants’ No. 1 need in free agency is offensive linemen. The 26-year-old Norwell isn’t just the top guard on the market: He is the top offensive lineman regardless of position.

First-year Giants general manager Dave Gettleman previously held the same position with the Panthers, where one of his top personnel accomplishments was uncovering Norwell as an undrafted free agent.

Now the Giants have hired offensive coordinator Mike Shula, who is the only play-caller that Norwell has known in his four-year NFL career.

Add all that together and what do you get?

NFL Draftanalyst Chad Forbes cited an anonymous Giants source in reporting that the team plans to make Norwell the highest-paid offensive guard in NFL history if he reaches free agency. The Panthers could apply the franchise tag to keep Norwell on a one-year deal.Norwell hired super agent Drew Rosenhaus last August, clearly anticipating a mega contract. He played on a one-year deal worth $2.7 million in 2017.

Since taking over as a starter midway through his rookie season, the Ohio State product has started 54 of a possible 57 games. He further positioned himself for the big bucks by becoming a First-Team All-Pro for the first time in 2017.

The Giants opened 2017 with John Jerry and Justin Pugh as starting guards, with D.J. Fluker taking over once Pugh was injured. Pugh also is near the top of the free agent market, so the Giants likely would be moving on from Pugh, a former first-round pick, by signing Norwell.

That’s putting the cart before the horse, however. The Giants will have plenty of competition for Norwell, beginning with the 49ers.

Cowboys’ Jerry Jones wants Dallas included in Super Bowl hosting rotation
Clutch Points
Feb 1

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t participated in the Super Bowl since 1996 (the 1995 NFL season), the game that featured cornerback Larry Brown graciously accepting the gift that was Neil O’Donnel’s horrid pass. With the Philadelphia Eagles taking the NFC crown this season, it’s been that much rougher on the city.

That doesn’t mean they don’t want to host another Super Bowl.

According to Dave Moore of Sports Day Dallas, Jerry Jones wants his stadium and city to be included in the Super Bowl rotation.

“We’d love to have another Super Bowl. At some point, I think we’ll get the opportunity to host again. Maybe we’ll get a little luckier on the weather.  And there won’t be an issue on seating. We learned a lot from that. North Texas would again be a great host. We’d give the NFL a great event.’’

Four times a Super Bowl has been hosted in the great state of Texas and the only time the big game was hosted by the Dallas Cowboys came seven years ago in Super Bowl 45 when Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Goodell: Raiders gave up home games in relocation agreement
247 Sports
Feb 1

It seems that the best case scenario for Raiders fans in Oakland is that they’ll have another two seasons in the Bay Area.

So, those fans obviously want to take full advantage of the opportunity to see their team play for as long as they can. Unfortunately, including 2018, the Raiders will have given up four home games over the past five seasons, meaning that it’s just one less game for Raider Nation and the Black Hole to enjoy live and person.

On Wednesday at Roger Goodell’s Super Bowl press conference, he was asked about the Raiders and the many international “home” games that they’ve played, and he had a pretty interesting answer.

Hating the Patriots: New England’s role as villain helps fuel NFL’s fire
USA Today
Feb 1

They are the team that so often wins … and the team to hate.

Here we go again. The New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl, for the eighth time with Bill Belichick as coach and Tom Brady at quarterback. It’s the NFL version of Groundhog Day.

And much of America will be pulling for the Philadelphia Eagles to slay Goliath, if for no other reason than to see Belichick and Co. bite the bullet. This, too, is repeat stuff.

Call it Patriot Hate.

“I wouldn’t use the word ‘hatred,’ “ Patriots owner Robert Kraft countered to USA TODAY Sports this week. “Look, everyone wants to root for the underdog. So I understand it. I hope we help people feel that way for many more years.”

Kraft is keenly aware of the sentiments, reflected in myriad ways. Before departing for Super Bowl LII, he attended the Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden and was struck by the reaction, a “Bronx cheer” after he was recognized with a shout-out.

“They cheered,” Kraft said, “but there was some booing. In a way, it’s sort of a compliment.”

He has sensed envy, too, for years now, from peers in NFL circles. And Kraft saw a recent report about Twitter data collected for, which concluded that outside of New England, only one state – North Dakota – is pulling for the so-called Evil Empire to win a sixth Super Bowl.

With a win on Sunday, Bill Belichick will be the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl
Pro Football Talk
Feb 1

Patriots coach Bill Belichick owns a lot of Super Bow coaching records already, but one that hasn’t been discussed a lot is related to his age.

The 65-year-old Belichick would be the oldest coach ever to win a Super Bowl if the Patriots beat the Eagles on Sunday.

The current oldest coach to win a Super Bowl was Tom Coughlin, who was also 65 years old, but four months younger than Belichick is now, when his Giants beat the Patriots six years ago.

Reports about Le’Veon Bell’s behavior match those of Antonio Brown last year
Pro Football Talk
Jan 20

A year ago, word out of Pittsburgh was that soon-to-be free agent Antonio Brown‘s act was wearing thin with the Steelers. This year, reports are saying the same about soon-to-be free agent Le’Veon Bell.

This week’s report that the Steelers are unhappy about Bell’s tardiness comes less than two months after Bell is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency, if the Steelers don’t slap the franchise tag on him for the second consecutive year. It’s likely not a coincidence that there are sources in Pittsburgh putting out word that the player who wants to break the bank in free agency isn’t worth as much money as he’d like to think he is.

As PFT put it a year ago, “By creating the impression that they’re not happy with Brown, who remains one of the best receivers in the game, they may be able to lock him up for a lot less than he otherwise would want.”

Please Seek Help if You Actually Believe the Super Bowl Matchup is Rigged
The Big Lead
Jan 20

The NFL put a Super Bowl ad featuring the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings on its Facebook page this week. Some of our nation’s soundest thinkers used this as evidence that the league had predetermined the matchup and this weekend’s championship game were therefore destined to be rigged.

Surely this was the only logical explanation for how such a piece of content made its way onto the internet. Roger Goodell and the rest of the Illuminati had gotten cocky and sloppy and this time they were busted, caught red-handed. Right?

Actually, no. There’s a more reasonable and boring backstory.

“It was a regrettable mistake,” an NFL spokesman told NJ Advance Media via email on Friday afternoon. “The ads were mocked up using all the [possible] combinations, but weren’t supposed to go until Monday when the matchup is known. Obviously, someone jumped the gun.”

A social media manager, bogged down with a heavy work load doing all the permutations, accidentally pressed the wrong button. That type of thing can happen.

Tom Brady’s hand injury has bettors putting money on the Jaguars

Pro Football Talk
Jan 20

Most people seem to agree that the hand injury Tom Brady suffered in practice this week won’t keep him from playing well on Sunday. But not everyone in Las Vegas is so sure.

The betting action in Las Vegas has mostly been on the Jaguars since the Patriots announced that Brady was getting medical attention on his throwing hand. The point spread, which opened with the Patriots as 9-point favorites and moved to 9.5 points, is now either 7 or 7.5 points at six major Vegas sports books.

That doesn’t mean bettors have inside information that Brady, who’s listed as questionable, won’t be able to play.

Facebook decides not to submit TNF bid
Jan 20

Facebook Inc., which has spent the last two years buying live sports rights to stream on its social network, is not bidding for the National Football League’s Thursday night package, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The NFL invited bids for its 2018 Thursday games late last year, and is expected to decide before the end of February. Though the rights to its more popular Sunday and Monday games are locked up into the next decade, the league has been using one- and two-year deals for its Thursday games to experiment with different partners and platforms.

Facebook has bid for NFL’s Thursday games in the past, according to the person. The streaming rights for the 2017 package went for $50 million to Amazon. The company hasn’t said whether it will bid again.

The social network hasn’t shied away from expensive sports rights, and its lack of interest in the NFL Thursday package doesn’t indicate that it’s backing off, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The company has streamed live Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, college football and European soccer games in the past two years. It offered $600 million for the rights to an Indian cricket league, losing out to Fox, and has been boosting its budget for content, including live sports and original shows.

Willem Suyderhoud, a Facebook spokesman, declined to comment. The NFL did not respond to a request for comment.

Sources: Darrell Bevell fired as Seahawks offensive coordinator after seven seasons
Pro Football Talk
Jan 10

The Seattle Seahawks have parted ways with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell after seven seasons, sources tell PFT.

Bevell was told of the decision Tuesday night according to a source informed of the decision. The Seahawks missed the playoffs for the first time since Bevell’s first year in Seattle in 2011.

Despite Russell Wilson leading the league in touchdown passes, Seattle’s offense struggled to find consistency all season. Wilson was the team’s leading rusher as Seattle’s structured rushing attack was ineffective for most of the season. The Seahawks ranked 23rd in rushing overall, but 586 of their 1,629 rushing yards came from Wilson. Over 400 of those yards by Wilson came on scrambles.

Jets’ Rashard Robinson arrested for edible marijuana possession
Newark Star-Ledger
Jan 10

Jets cornerback Rashard Robinson, who barely played in 2017, was arrested in December for possessing marijuana-laced candy, according to the Associated Press.

Robinson was pulled over for driving carelessly in Morris County, and that’s when police found the candy in his possession. Robinson’s car smelled like marijuana, police reported.

“This is a pending legal matter, and we will not have any comment,” a Jets spokesman said.

An NFL spokesman did immediately return a message seeking comment. Robinson could face discipline from the league as a result of his arrest.

Robinson, 22, was traded from the 49ers to the Jets in late October, in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. It has not exactly turned out to be a productive trade. Robinson wound up playing just 20 defensive snaps in his six games with the Jets. He was a non-factor.

Jon Gruden on reported $100M deal: ‘I don’t have a guarantee to be alive for 10 years’
CBS Sports
Jan 9

The Oakland Raiders held a monster press conference on Tuesday to introduce Jon Gruden as their newest head coach. Gruden signed a 10-year contract to replace Jack Del Rio as the head man in charge, and it was clear from the wide smiles on the faces of everyone on the stage that this hire is, as Mark Davis would call it, “a big f—-in deal.”

Also big: that aforementioned 10-year contract Gruden signed. It’s reportedly worth… 100 million dollars. Gruden was asked about the deal several times during his press conference, and let’s just say his answers were interesting. Regarding the length of the contract, Gruden noted that there’s no guarantee he’s even alive to see the end of the deal.

Of course, the length isn’t as big a story as the money. $100 million is a nice, big, round number. Gruden could barely contain his smile as a reporter quoted the reported figures and asked him about it, then flat-out denied knowing the terms of his contract at all. It was a hilarious lie.

Tom Brady documentary coming, offering rare glimpse of his private life
New York Times
Jan 9

Tom Brady was leading a tour through a set of fat binders that he keeps in his den, with each one devoted to one of the 18 seasons he has played in the N.F.L. This one, marked “2016,” began with a particular memento.

“I still keep this,” Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, said, holding a document up to the camera. “It’s my suspension letter.”

That would be the missive he received from 345 Park Avenue informing him he would be sidelined for the first four games of the 2016 season for his role in the still-hard-to-believe football air-pressure “scandal” known as Deflategate. As the camera focused on Brady, his face became stuck in a smile that could be characterized as something between goofy and satisfied (and with the whiff of a smirk).

“Thank you,” Brady said, to whom it was not clear exactly. He turned the page, and next thing you know he was winning another ring.

The scene transpires early in the first installment of a new documentary series, “Tom vs. Time,” which will be posted later this month via Facebook’s mobile video platform, Facebook Watch. The series follows Brady not just as he has pursued his sixth Super Bowl championship in 2017, but also — as the title indicates — as he conducts his ongoing subversion campaign against the actuarial tables of quarterback longevity.


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