Johnny Manziel set to get another shot at the NFL?

Johnny Manziel hasn’t been on an NFL roster the past three seasons, but he could be getting a second chance to play in the league heading into the 2019 campaign.

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report wrote in his weekly 10-point stance column that “the sense I get from people in the NFL is that Manziel may well get another chance to play on football’s main stage.”

Because the NFL is so talent poor at the quarterback position, Freeman added, “if he can show even a modicum of skill, someone will have him in for a tryout or on a training camp roster.”

Most recently, Manziel appeared in two games for the AAF’s Memphis Express. He had an electric first game with the club before suffering a concussion in his second game. Then, of course, the league shut down to the surprise of many.

Prior to his quick stint in the AAF, Manziel spent a season in Canada playing for the Montreal Alouettes. He did little to impress, passing for 1,290 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Once a first-round pick by Cleveland, Manziel’s off-field issues derailed his career in short order. Since that time, he seemingly has cleaned up his life and remains committed to making his way back into the NFL.

But if that doesn’t pan out, he has an alternate set of plans to remain connected to the sport he loves.

Original Article

By: Jesse Reed

Patriots great Rob Gronkowski announces his retirement

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement via his Instagram page. Gronkowski released a lengthy statement in the caption to the post, saying in part:

“It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine.”

Gronkowski has flirted with retirement in the past, but it felt especially sincere this time around, and the recent increased chatter about retirement turned out to be accurate. The surefire Hall of Famer was reportedly nearly traded to the Lions last offseason, but threatened to retire in order to block it. We heard earlier this morning that the Patriots “aggressively courted” tight end Jared Cook before he decided to sign with the Saints, which in hindsight might’ve foreshadowed this move.

Gronkowski, 29, entered the NFL as a second-round pick out of Arizona in 2010. He immediately became a star, and was a generational talent at the tight end position. But he was done in by injuries the past handful of seasons, with recurrent back problems and other ailments. Gronkowski is hanging up his cleats as a three-time Super Bowl champion and a four-time first-team All-Pro.

Gronk had some big moments this past season, but overall didn’t look like his old self. He appeared in 13 games, catching 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns. For his career, he’ll finish with 521 receptions, 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns (third all-time among tight ends). He wasn’t just a pass-catcher, as the Patriots’ running game always ran through his blocking. He’ll go down as one of the best tight ends of all time. Gronkowski has numerous off-field interests, and has signaled an interest in going into acting.

The Patriots signed former Broncos tight end Matt LaCaosse earlier this month, but are almost certainly not done adding to the position. They’re armed with 12 draft picks, and should be a good bet to take a tight end.

By: Dallas Robinson

Original Article

The Best & Worst Quarterback in Each NFL Team’s History

Best: Arizona Cardinals – Jim Hart

The Arizona Cardinals franchise has been around for almost an entire century, at least in some capacity. But over that time, the team has had only six quarterbacks ever selected to the Pro Bowl, and only one of them who was selected to the NFL’s All-Star game more than twice.

That would be Jim Hart, who was the team’s full-time starter between 1967 through 1981. Hart threw 209 touchdowns in that span, which is over 70 touchdown passes more than any other quarterback in franchise history.

Worst: Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Lindley

Fans of the Arizona Cardinals have probably blocked out as much of the Ryan Lindley experience from their collective minds as possible. In his first season in Arizona, Lindley finished the year with a 46.7 passer rating, having thrown seven interceptions and no touchdowns.

After entering the NFL in 2012, Lindley didn’t throw his first official touchdown pass until 2014, when he rejoined the Cardinals after a one-year stint on the practice squad of the San Diego Chargers. In four seasons of professional football, including one season in the Canadian Football League, Lindley threw 4 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Best: Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan

The Atlanta Falcons have had a few good-to-very good quarterbacks since the start of the 1990’s, ranging from guys like Chris Miller (a former Pro Bowl selection) to Michael Vick (once the most exciting player in the NFL). But none of those guys could hold a candle to what Matt Ryan has done for the Falcons’ franchise.

Worst: Atlanta Falcons – Randy Johnson

Long before a near-7-foot baseball pitcher made the name famous, Randy Johnson was a starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons back in the late 1960’s…. And he was a terrible one to boot.

After winning only three games in his rookie year in 1966 (out of 11 starts), he actually managed to win even less games the following four years in Atlanta, winning a grand total of 5 times in 26 starts in the ensuing four years he was the starter.

Best: Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco

Even though the Baltimore Ravens were really the reincarnation of the relocated Cleveland Browns, since the Browns were awarded a new franchise with the same name, we’re treating the Ravens as a separate franchise in and of its own.

Given that the Ravens haven’t really had an illustrious history at the quarterback position, it’s hard to give this designation to anyone other than Joe Flacco.

Flacco is the only quarterback in team history to play in more than 53 games for the franchise, and no other quarterback in team history has come close to his total career touchdown passes, passing yards, and total wins as a starter.

Worst: Baltimore Ravens – Elvis Grbac

A year after the Baltimore Ravens dumped quarterback Trent Dilfer after taking the team to the Super Bowl, they qualified for the postseason once again with Elvis Grbac under center. Prior to that, Grbac had spent four season nas the starter for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he never won more than nine games as a starter.

Grback and the Ravens defeated the Miami Dolphins by a 20-3 score in the Wild Card roung of the playoffs, before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers the following week. The Ravens released Grbac in a salary cap move after he refused to renegotiate his contract, and Grbac retired after being released.

Best: Buffalo Bills – Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly might be tied for third place in most Super Bowl appearances by an NFL quarterback, and he might be one of only seven quarterbacks in NFL history to make it to the Super Bowl four times, but no quarterback in the history of the game has led his team to the Super Bowl four straight years. None, that is, except Jim Kelly.

The maestro of the Buffalo Bills’ “K-Gun” offense terrorized opposing defenses from 1989 and 1992, perennially leading the Bills to the highest offensive ranks each year. He finished his career with over 35,000 passing yards, currently sitting in 25th place all time. But for all those Super Bowl appearances and all those passing yards, Kelly will never have a ring to show for them.

Worst: Buffalo Bills – Alex Van Pelt

Despite the fact that Alex Van Pelt left the University of Pittsburgh having broken many records established by some guy named Dan Marino, Alex Van Pelt started his career as a backup quarterback, but took over as the starter of the Buffalo Bills in 1994 after Jim Kelly would suffer a major knee injury.

But that would be one of the only times that Van Pelt actually started; in nine years in Buffalo, Van Pelt started 11 games, finishing with a career 3-8 record in those starts.

Best: Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton

Unless you happen to be relative of Kerry Collins or Jake Delhomme, it’s hard to believe anyone could think this designation would belong to anyone other than Cam Newton. The #1 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Newton is the only quarterback in franchise history to be named to an All-Pro team (2015) and be selected to the Pro Bowl multiple times.

In 2015, Newton ran roughshod through the NFL, throwing 35 touchdowns and running for 10 more, leading the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, and being named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

Worst: Carolina Panthers – Jimmy Clausen

Never in history has there been a player for with the combination of breathtaking hype and incredible failure like Jimmy Clausen. The most over-recruited player in NCAA history to date, Clausen’s lackluster career at Notre Dame led him to fall to the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

The Carolina Panthers, who selected him, decided to throw him to the proverbial wolves in his rookie year, and Clausen got eaten alive: three touchdowns and nine interceptions in 10 games as a starter. He had a huge hand in the Panthers finishing with a 2-14 record, and Carolina saw enough of him in that one year to decide to draft his replacement — Cam Newton — just one year after taking Clausen.

Best: Chicago Bears – Sid Luckman

Though the Chicago Bears franchise has had some of the most iconic names in NFL history on its roster, including Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, and Mike Singletary, they haven’t had anything close to that at the quarterback position. The franchise forever known for its “Monsters of the Midway” defense haven’t boasted a truly elite NFL quarterback since Sid Luckman played under center for them in the 1940’s, under legendary coach George Halas.

Though Luckman’s passing yardage and touchdown pass totals were eventually surpassed by Jay Cutler, the latter is not — and will never be — a five-time All-Pro selection and Hall of Fame inductee like Luckman.

Worst: Chicago Bears – Bob Avellini

For all the glory the Chicago Bears have had on the defensive side of the football (and at the running back position), that hasn’t been shared at the quarterback spot. The history of the Bears franchise is filled with guys like Bob Avellini, who had one winning season during his first four years in the NFL.

Avellini finished his nine-year career in Chicago with more than a 2:1 ratio of interceptions to touchdowns (throwing 69 interceptions to only 33 touchdowns).

Best: Cincinnati Bengals – Ken Anderson

Most people might associate Boomer Esiason or Carson Palmer when thinking of the best quarterback in Cincinnati Bengals history, but that honor quite certainly belongs to Ken Anderson, the team’s starting quarterback from 1972 through 1984. Anderson has thrown for more yards and passing touchdowns than any quarterback in team history, and has 24 more wins than any other quarterback as well.

During the 1981 season, Anderson had a career-best 3,754 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, leading the Bengals to a 12-4 record and their first-ever Super Bowl appearance (when they’d lose to the San Francisco 49ers).

Worst: Cincinnati Bengals – Akili Smith

A one-year wonder who parlayed that brief success into the #3 overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, Smith’s NFL career was an unmitigated disaster. First, the Bengals turned down the “Godfather” offer from the New Orleans Saints; Mike Ditka was selling the farm to move up to grab Ricky Williams, allegedly offering the Bengals a whopping nine draft picks (Cincinnati turned down the offer). He started off his tenure in Cincinnati completely on the wrong foot, missing a substantial portion of the team’s training camp, which many believed irreparably stunted his development in the NFL.

Of course, once he did sign, his off-the-field habits didn’t help either. Smith was later quoted as having given in to the temptations of his high draft selection, flying back and forth between Cincinnati and San Diego to party with his friends and multiple women regularly; he’s called himself “a complete embarrassment off the field.” Smith played in 22 NFL games and posted a career passer rating of 52.8. In one year at Oregon, he threw for 30 touchdown passes; in four seasons in the NFL, he threw for a total of five.

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By: Raj nanavati

NFL has a chance to show leniency on marijuana before the political movement does it first

Pointing out the NFL hypocrisy on marijuana use is hardly new. The league has caught flak for years for pushing addictive and harmful painkillers on players while banning them from using weed for medical or recreational purposes.

Up until the last seven years or so, this was at least a tenable position, as popular opinion and laws nationwide aligned with the established protocol. After all, if weed is both illegal and not viewed favorably by the majority of Americans, what risk is there to a pro sports league being against it?

But the last decade has seen a rapid shift in the legality and the mainstreaming of marijuana. A decade ago, there were no states with legalized recreational marijuana. Now there are 10. In 2009, a majority of Americans did not yet support legalizing weed. Now more than 60 percent do.

Weed has made its way so sufficiently into the mainstream that celebrities, including former NFL players like Calvin Johnson, are setting up roots in the burgeoning industry. It strikes fans as more and more ludicrous that the league continues to test for — and punish players who use — marijuana.

About a year ago, tight end Martellus Bennett, who has recently said he wants to unretire and join the Patriots with his brother Michael, estimated that 89 percent of players in the league use it, often just to deal with the grueling pain of the sport.

“There are times of the year where your body just hurts so bad,” Bennett said in a podcast interview. “You don’t want to be popping pills all the time. There are anti-inflammatory drugs you take so long that they start to eat at your liver, kidneys and things like that. A human made that. God made weed.”

Former Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving was suspended indefinitely on March 1 for repeated violations of the league drug policy. That marks the third straight season Irving has been suspended.
Rather than trying to appeal to the league or grovel for forgiveness, Irving took to Instagram Live to announce he quit football while smoking weed and explaining why he finds it a more preferable way to manage pain than with opiates, which he said he’s seen wreak havoc on others.

Beyond Irving, there are plenty of players, including a handful of stars, who have missed significant playing time solely because of suspensions stemming from testing positive for marijuana. If nothing else, this harms the on-field product for an infraction that seems justified in the eyes of most fans. There are enough serious injuries that sideline players. Football doesn’t need help removing some of its more exciting contributors, so why should the NFL seek to make it harder for players to be on the field?

In some ways, the debate over the NFL cracking down on weed echoes in what Colin Kaepernick was drawing attention to in his protests. Marijuana enforcement has always been more strict for people of color than for whites. Prosecuting weed offenses has long been viewed as a means for authorities to keep minorities imprisoned. This is why progressives insist that any broad legalization of marijuana must be attended with an expungement of convictions for marijuana possession.

That the NFL continues testing for marijuana, when it’s legally available in large swaths of the country and has demonstrated pain management benefits, comes off as a method of unnecessary control.

What happens when the NFL doesn’t have the cover of the law? Every candidate so far in the 2020 Democratic primary has voiced support for legalization. Even if the Democrats don’t recapture the White House, polling has found a majority of Republicans also support legalization, the policies of the now former attorney general Jeff Sessions notwithstanding. If President Donald Trump is re-elected, descheduling marijuana could be one of the few ways he could garner positive coverage and not alienate his own base.

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By: Mike Tunison

 

Le’Veon Bell to sign with Jets

The drawn-out national nightmare involving former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has come to a conclusion.

On the eve of the official start of NFL free agency, Bell has reportedly agreed to sign with the New York Jets.

New York had been seen as the big time favorites to land the stellar all-around running back. That’s now come to fruition.

This is an absolutely huge get for the Jets. A former All-Pro performer in Pittsburgh, Bell will only help young quarterback Sam Darnold in New York’s backfield.

Prior to sitting out all of last season in hopes of landing a more lucrative pay day, the 27-year-old Bell put up 3,830 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016 and 2017.

The deal is said to be worth $52.5 million over four seasons.

Full Article

By: Vincent Frank

Odell Beckham Jr. traded to Browns

Odell Beckham Jr. is finally on the move. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports (via Twitter) that the Giants are trading the wide receiver to the Browns.

It sound like New York has received a relative haul for their star receiver. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the Giants will be receiving a 2019 first-rounder (No. 17 overall), a 2019 third-rounder (No. 95), and safety Jabrill Peppers. The deal will leave $16M in dead money for the Giants, who inked the receiver to a five-year, $95 million contract ($65M guaranteed) back in August. The move will open up $5M in cap space, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter).

This would seem to be a relatively big haul for Beckham, especially when you consider what the Steelers recently received for Antonio Brown. While Brown is older and desired a new contract, Pittsburgh was still only able to fetch a third-round pick (No. 66 overall) and fifth-round pick (No. 141) from the Raiders.

There had been conflicting reports regarding Beckham’s availability in recent days. Despite general manager Dave Gettleman‘s consistent insistence that Beckham was not available, we learned yesterday that the Giants had been discussing a trade. We heard earlier today that an AFC North team was engaged in conversations with the Giants, and we’ve now learned that the team was Cleveland.

The Browns seemed like a relatively natural fit for Beckham and his $18M salary. Despite signing Jarvis Landry to a lucrative deal last offseason, Cleveland’s front office was still hunting around for a big-name addition. The 26-year-old surely fits that bill, as he’ll team up with Landry, quarterback Baker Mayfield, and running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to form one of the more talented offenses in the NFL.

The 26-year-old was still productive in 2018 despite missing four games due to a quad injury. In 12 games, Beckham hauled in 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns. The former first-rounder is all over the Giants all-time leaders list, with top-five appearances in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions.

While the focus of the trade will surround Beckham, Peppers is an intriguing inclusion in the deal. The former Michigan standout had spent the first two seasons of his career in Cleveland, including a 2018 campaign where he compiled 79 tackles, one sack, and five passes defended. While the 23-year-old hasn’t necessarily displayed the talent that earned him a first-round selection, he’s still an intriguing asset for the Giants. While the team recently added Antoine Bethea, Peppers could theoretically supplant Michael Thomas in the starting lineup.

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By: Ben Levine

Could Rob Gronkowski skip most of 2019 and play late in season?

Rob Gronkowski still has yet to publicly reveal whether or not he intends to play in 2019, but one former player who is well connected within the New England Patriots organization has an interesting theory about what the star tight end may do.

Willie McGinest, an NFL Network analyst who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots from 1994-2005, predicted on Tuesday that Gronkowski will begin the season retired and end up returning late in the year.

“I think he’s gonna to start out the season being retired,” McGinest said. “I think he’s gonna get the itch. I think he’s gonna be in great shape and he’s probably gonna have that feeling that, ‘Hey, I want to come back.’”

McGinest stressed that he did not have inside information, but it’s worth noting that the former linebacker is the one who introduced Tom Brady to his personal trainer and business partner, Alex Guerrero. Gronkowski also trains with Guerrero, so McGinest may have more knowledge of the situation than he is letting on.

“This is just my own assessment. Later on, deep in the season, he could possibly come back and play,” he added.

This is the second consecutive offseason that Gronkowski has openly contemplated retirement, so the Patriots would be right to question his level of motivation if he did decide to return. While Gronk may have dropped a hint immediately after the Super Bowl that he plans to play in 2019, giving him a special set of circumstances where he can skip training camp and miss the majority of the season might not play well in the locker room. That would be for Bill Belichick to decide.

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By: Steve DelVecchio

Report: Cardinals not currently showing willingness to trade Josh Rosen

The trade status of QB Josh Rosen has become a big topic of late, but the media may be a little ahead of the Arizona Cardinals on the subject.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter says the Cardinals received inquiries from many teams at the NFL Combine but did not show a willingness to trade Rosen.

Schefter notes the Cardinals could end up dealing Rosen, but they haven’t shown willingness to do so at present.

Arizona traded up in last year’s draft to take Rosen at No. 10, so it obviously thinks highly of him. At the same time, they now have a new head coach who likes Kyler Murray, and they may want to select the Heisman Trophy winner with the No 1 overall pick in the draft.

Arizona needs to make sure it is going to take a new quarterback in this year’s draft before deciding to trade Rosen. Evaluating this year’s crop of QBs is a huge decision and the Cardinals should focus on that before seeking the best return for Rosen, which is what it sounds like they are doing.

Original Article

By: Larry Brown

Report: Jaguars expected to sign Nick Foles when free agency opens

NFL free agency does not officially open for 10 days, but the market for the top quarterback appears to be settled.

According to Les Bowen of philly.com, the Jacksonville Jaguars are essentially the only suitor for Nick Foles, and expect to sign him when the free-agent period opens March 13. The Jaguars have already begun to set up the structure of a contract, according to the report.

Other potential quarterback-needy teams do not appear interested in Foles. The New York Giants are sticking with Eli Manning as their starter in 2019, and there has been no indication that the Washington Redskins or Miami Dolphins are set to launch a pursuit of Foles.

Jacksonville has been the first and only team consistently linked to Foles, and the Jags have been considered the favorite to sign him. Foles should provide the Jags with stability at quarterback after years of issues at the position.

By: Grey Papke

Original Article

Cardinals could not get more than third-round pick for Josh Rosen?

The Arizona Cardinals are reportedly leaning toward taking Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, but they may not be pleased with what teams are willing to offer — or not offer — in potential trades for Josh Rosen.

Peter King of NBC Sports asked former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, who lives in Arizona, what he thinks Rosen’s trade value is. Warner said he would give up a third-round pick for the former UCLA star. A “renowned” NFL general manager later told King the same.

“Probably a three,” the GM said. “Not what the Cardinals would think his value is.”

The Cardinals obviously believed Rosen could be their franchise quarterback when they traded traded third-round and fifth-round picks to move up five spots to draft him last year. However, that was under a previous coaching regime, and it’s not exactly a secret that Kliff Kingsbury loves Murray.

Rosen was shaky after Arizona handed him the starting job last year. He threw 14 interceptions compared to just 11 touchdowns, but the Cardinals were a below-average team and starting in the NFL as a rookie is never easy. If teams are only willing to give up a third-round pick for Rosen or less, that may have more to do with them knowing Arizona has no intention of keeping him.

One team has reportedly spoken openly about trading for Rosen, so things could change if there are multiple suitors.

By: Steve DelVecchio

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