Monthly Archives: August 2016

Chargers, 1st-round pick Joey Bosa finally end contract dispute

SAN DIEGO — A month-long ordeal ended Monday, when San Diego Chargers rookie first-round selection Joey Bosa signed a four-year deal with the team.

Scheduled to report on July 29, Bosa remained unsigned for 31 days before coming to an agreement.

Traditionally, the Chargers have included offset language in contracts to protect the franchise from paying a player’s full salary in the event San Diego releases the player during the guaranteed portion of his deal. Think Ryan Leaf.

Offset language allows the organization to pay the remaining portion of a player’s salary not covered by the new team that signs the released player. Without offset language a player can “double dip,” receiving a full salary from his previous team along with whatever money is negotiated with the new team.

He was less definitive about whether he’ll be available for Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts. Ebron initially wouldn’t answer the question about his availability and then said the decision would be up to Lions coach Jim Caldwell and the team’s doctors.

Siemian looked composed and comfortable as he finished 10-of-17 for 122 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Rams. It is unclear, for the moment, what Kubiak’s plan for the No. 2 quarterback is and what it all means for the near future of Mark Sanchez.

“It’s not that other guys didn’t do something, it’s more how far Trevor has come as a player,” Kubiak said.

Rookie Paxton Lynch followed Siemian into Saturday’s game as the Broncos’ No. 2 quarterback, and Sanchez did not play. Kubiak had said following the game he would make a decision this week on a starter.

Siemian has consistently shown he made the most of his time with Manning in the Broncos’ run to the Super Bowl win last season. He has been the most consistent player at the position over the last few weeks and is ready to hear his name and the word “starter” in the same sentence.

“I think every day he kind of showed us ‘I can do this, I’m going to be competitive in this situation and that I believe in myself,’ ” Kubiak said. “And you just saw him grow every day throughout the course of the offseason and when he came back from the summer he was even better.”

When asked following Saturday’s game if he believed he would be named the starter, Siemian said he was “confident” but that it was up to Kubiak.

Asked if he believed he had done enough to be the starter, Siemian said: “I do, but again that’s not my call. I’ll just try to be the best teammate I can be.”

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Broncos will be the first defending Super Bowl champion to start a quarterback with zero career pass attempts in the following season’s opener.

Ravens salute Navy’s Keenan Reynolds as ‘America’s finest,’ but will he make team?

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Keenan Reynolds has yet to make a catch this preseason, and he didn’t get a chance to return a kick in last week’s game.

Reynolds’ biggest competition for the returner job is Michael Campanaro, and coach John Harbaugh indicated that Campanaro is “our best guy” for that position at this point.

The Ravens have used Reynolds on special teams beyond the returner role. Reynolds made two tackles in the second preseason game, leading Rosburg to jokingly say, “His first two tackles he ever had in his life happened to be in the NFL.”

“He did a great job as a gunner. He ran the show,” Rosburg said. “He was aggressive down the field in coverage.”
And that’s exactly what Goff is right now — a backup.

The No. 1 overall pick struggled through his first four NFL drives — interception, sack, fumble, near-fumble on a sack — before getting into a rhythm during the second half of Saturday’s 21-20 come-from-behind win at Los Angeles Coliseum. Goff’s success came against the bottom of the Kansas City Chiefs’ depth chart. The Rams have yet to see him thrive against the types of defenses he would face as a starter, which is why Goff probably needs an uplifting performance in Game 3 to have any chance at starting the regular-season opener, now only 17 days away.

“It’s not up to me,” Goff said when asked if he would be disappointed to not start Week 1 on Sept. 12, a Monday Night Football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, California, roughly 70 miles away from where he grew up.

“It’s something that I’d love to do, but it’s not my decision. That’s what they pay the coaches for and that’s what they’re here for. I’m just trying to get better every day. Whenever they want to do it is up to them.”

Foster created separation in his close race with incumbent Jay Ajayi to become a starter before the regular season. The offense moved well with Foster in the backfield, which surely will be noted by Miami’s coaching staff.

It is unlikely Foster will play in the fourth preseason game when many veterans and starters sit out. But Foster made solid steps Thursday against Atlanta to push for a starting job and gain trust of his teammates and coaches.

Here are some additional takeaways from the Dolphins’ 17-6 victory over the Atlanta Falcons:

QB depth chart: Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill was decent but not spectacular. He completed 20 of 29 passes in the first half but directed only one scoring drive before sitting. Tannehill completed good throws to receivers Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. His interception was a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage, which is on Tannehill. He finished with 155 passing yards and also moved the offense down the field in a two-minute drive. But kicker Andrew Franks missed a 37-yard field goal attempt. As for the backups, Zac Dysert threw for 57 yards and rookie Brandon Doughty threw for 14, with neither notching a touchdown or interception.

Maybe that dude could start: Now is a good time to end the rookie process with first-round pick Laremy Tunsil. The Dolphins have been adamant about Tunsil earning his spot in the starting lineup and kept him on the second team all of the spring and most of training camp. Tunsil began the week second string on the team’s official depth chart but started his second preseason game. He continues to play solidly, and it’s time to make this move official with the regular season about two weeks away.

Mark Sanchez’s future with Broncos could be in jeopardy

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It is safe to say things haven’t exactly worked out the way Mark Sanchez hoped they would with the Denver Broncos.

Sanchez arrived in Denver after a trade from the Philadelphia Eagles as an eighth-year player with 72 NFL starts. He wasn’t promised anything, but was penciled in as the potential starting quarterback and said, “I’m thrilled with the opportunity.”

“I squandered a great opportunity to separate myself and put the team in a bad situation,” Sanchez said following the game. “No excuse for that poor, poor quarterback play.”

Sanchez was also asked if it was difficult to not know who would be the team’s starter so deep in the preseason. He simply said: “It’s difficult playing like crap on two plays and ruining an opportunity. That’s difficult.”

“That’s Mark; he’s a competitive guy,” Kubiak said Monday. “He talked about opportunity. I saw some of the comments. That’s the type of guys you want out there battling every day. I’m proud of all of them. They’ve been working hard. … Mark is a competitor. He’ll bounce back.”

Last year, 16 quarterbacks scored 250 or more points in ESPN standard scoring fantasy leagues.

That pace pushed the fantasy quarterback position to score 8,301 points. It was the highest point total the fantasy quarterback position has scored dating back to at least the 2001 season. Quarterbacks also accounted for 21.8 percent of all fantasy points, the highest total in that category since at least 2001.

This glut of impact performers is having an effect on how fantasy owners value quarterbacks, thus causing players at this position to be both overvalued and undervalued.

This second in a four-part series reviewing overvalued and undervalued fantasy prospects aims to highlight the outliers in these categories. This outlier group begins with the reigning fantasy points champion, an honor that has driven his fantasy price much higher than it should be to claim the highest average draft position (ADP) for quarterbacks in ESPN leagues this season.

How Texans can accelerate Brock Osweiler’s growth

Osweiler’s tape from the 2015 season doesn’t jump off the screen. Sure, there are some big-time throws when Osweiler holds the free safety and delivers a strike to target the seam, post or deep crosser (here’s one example). And his footwork/pocket management is better than I expected. For a big man (6-foot-8, 240 pounds), Osweiler is pretty well-groomed in the pocket with his ability to slide, climb or throw the shoulder forward versus edge pressure. Plus, he can get to the edge of the pocket on boot schemes. He’s athletic.

But Osweiler is not a true deep-ball quarterback. In 2015, on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield, he ranked 30th in completion rate (25 percent) and 31st in Total QBR (35.7). Based on the tape, he lacks accuracy and deep-ball velocity on throws over the top of the defense. Instead, his production — and his fit under O’Brien — will come in the short-to-intermediate game.

Sports fans are getting better and better food at their stadiums, arenas and ballparks, and that trend will continue with the upcoming NFL season.

One of the major trends in 2016 will be potatoes, in many forms, with interesting toppings.

Aramark, which provides the food at 11 NFL venues, is leading the way.

“French fries are the third-most popular food item, behind hot dogs and pretzels, at our NFL venues,” said Carl Mittleman, Aramark president. “Last NFL season we sold 500,000 orders of fries. Topped fries and poutines are growing on industry menus, so we looked for a way to make the classic fry even more enticing, to capitalize on the trend.”

Or to expect the Americans to register more than the whopping two blocked shots they’ve managed in the past two games.

“This isn’t a tournament that we’re going to just dominate,” Team USA swingman Paul George said. “There’s talent around this world and they’re showcasing it. For us, it’s just figuring out how we’re going to win. We’re having spurts of dominating, but we’re just not finding ways to put a full 40 minutes together.”

Krzyzewski lamented what he described as a fourth-quarter letdown when the Americans “felt like we had the game won.” George spoke of squandering “that moment when we looked like we were gonna steamroll ’em.”

Down 16 late in the third quarter, playing “loose” and “free” to use Krzyzewski’s words and undoubtedly inspired by the troubles Australia and Serbia caused the heavy favorites, France uncorked a rally that clinched yet another uncomfortable postgame round of what’s-wrong probing from the assembled media before the medal round.

Cardinals take care of old vets, give Palmer and Fitzgerald extensions

Both players are nearing the end of their careers, but they were very productive in 2015. Palmer had 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns, although most people will probably remember him struggling in the playoffs. Fitzgerald had 109 catches, 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns. Palmer and Fitzgerald are big reasons the Cardinals are Super Bowl contenders this season. Depending on how the extensions are structured, it should create some cap space for the Cardinals, perhaps to lock up recently-acquired defensive end Chandler Jones to an extension. Jones will be a free agent after this season.

Cardinals fans might be concerned about Palmer and Fitzgerald slowing down soon. But they don’t need to worry about them suiting up with another team for the next couple seasons.

When Philadelphia hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night, Eagles wideout Jordan Matthews won’t be on the field.

Coach Doug Pederson announced Monday that the third-year receiver will miss a couple of weeks with knee soreness. The hope is that Matthews will be ready to play in Philly’s critical third preseason tilt against the Indianapolis Colts.

Pederson emphasized that Matthews suffered no structural damage to the knee, which he first tweaked last week. Still, it’s a problematic development for the Eagles, who initially expected Matthews to skip just a few days.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars will determine Tuesday whether left tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee) and wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring) will play in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Jets. Beachum hasn’t practiced since last Wednesday, and coach Gus Bradley said it’s unlikely he’ll play. Lee, however, returned to practice after missing seven practices, and there’s a good chance he’ll see the field. He hasn’t played in a preseason game since his rookie season in 2014. — Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans

Running back Bishop Sankey, a second-round pick in 2014, hasn’t been playing very high in the rotation. The Titans’ unofficial depth chart includes six running backs ahead of him. There are some in the organization from the old regime who think he has never been given a fair chance. But he’s going to have to show something big in his preseason chances to move into position to win a spot.– Paul Kuharsky

Brett Favre would play for Cowboys under one condition

As former NFL receiver and GMFB host Nate Burleson points out, the Cowboys do have a great offensive line.

“Well, I mean, that’s good. But I need a little more … security,” Favre responded, laughing.

Technically, there’s no rule against Hall of Fame players returning to play football, but it’s never happened and is very unlikely to. And Favre playing for the Cowboys is definitely not going to happen, but jokes about him coming out of retirement are always funny.

Coming back to reality, some actual quarterbacks the Cowboys have been connected to include Josh Freeman and Josh McCown.

Chicago Bears

1-10 percent: I used Alshon Jeffery earlier as the example of a career still in its infancy.

Kyle Long has three Pro Bowl appearances in three seasons, even if the most recent of them was a generous gift given his uneven play at tackle. Back inside at guard, Long should continue to excel, but he’s already entering his age-28 season. (For reference: Long was drafted during his age-25 season. Tyron Smith just finished his age-25 season, and it was his fifth year in the NFL.) Interior linemen have to be great for a long time to make the Hall, and even if he stays healthy, Long might find it difficult to rack up the counting honors needed. 20 percent

The Arizona Cardinals are going to squeeze every drop out of quarterback Carson Palmer and receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald, who will turn 33 on Aug. 31, and Palmer, who will be 37 on Dec. 27, were each given one-year extensions by the Cardinals. Palmer is now signed through 2018, when he’ll turn 39, and Fitzgerald is signed through 2017.

Palmer’s extension is worth $24.35 million, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said, and his 2016 and 2017 salaries are now fully guaranteed.

Here’s why DeAndre Hopkins is thankful for his rookie WR teammates

The Texans over the last few years have been a team powered by their J.J. Watt-led defense. Watt is still the team’s best player, and the defense is still likely to be the better unit, but Houston should at the very least be a bit more balanced this year, thanks to the new additions.

That shift in balance has Hopkins thinking his squad will return to the postseason.

“Team-wise, definitely looking for playoffs for us,” Hopkins said. “I don’t like talking ahead, but the guys’ attitude and the vibe in the locker room is good. I feel real good about this team and what it can do.”

The culprit is covered up on this day, yet still torments the victim every single moment. It’s not physical pain, which is long gone, but it’s the emotional part of the crime that still chafes Myles Jack.

The perpetrator in this case is Jack’s right knee, or, more precisely, the circus it created over a six-week span in March and April, leading to a drop out of the first round for a player considered by some to be the best in this year’sNFL Draft.

“Imagine getting robbed with no gun or no mask for $10 million?” Jack said. “You just have to live with it.”

The $10 million is the guestimate for what his injured knee cost Jack dropping out of the first round. It is money that he will never get back, no matter how long he plays or how good he becomes as a linebacker for theJacksonville Jaguars.

That’s the hurt.

That’s the pain.

Money isn’t everything, as the saying goes, but try dealing with losing $10 million as your draft status falls quicker than you can say bad knee.

When I last sat down with Jack before the draft in late March in Arizona, he was optimistic, excited, eager, his dream of playing in the NFL less than a month away. The process of rehabbing a torn meniscus, suffered last September at UCLA, had been a grueling one, but by late March the end was near.

“I’m so glad to have all the knee stuff behind me,” he said then.

The Dolphins, who took Tunsil at No. 13, were also reportedly interested in Apple. There’s a good chance he wasn’t falling that far. But the move would also have netted the Giants an additional second-round pick at minimum.

Compare the two hauls:

Also available at No. 51 (where the Jets took Christian Hackenberg) were linebackers Deion Jones (LSU) and Su’a Cravens (USC).

In short, it’s surprising the Giants didn’t gamble on the possibility of Apple falling in order to pick up an additional high-quality player in a spot where the draft was deepest.

The Jets’ haul would have obviously changed as well. Stealing Tunsil at No. 10 would’ve made up for losing Hackenberg and/or Juston Burris in the fourth round.