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NFL Football News

Saints ‘win’ standoff, but Drew Brees deserves kudos for playing ball

METAIRIE, La. — Drew Brees just led the New Orleans Saints to another big victory.

The Saints deserve congratulations because they essentially “won” their contract standoff with Brees on Wednesday.

They got exactly what they wanted by limiting his extension to just one year for a fully guaranteed $24.25 million, according to league sources. The extension takes Brees through the end of the 2018 season. The Saints got to lock up their Hall of Fame quarterback for a little while longer, but they didn’t have to commit to the 37-year-old beyond 2017.

Brees, meanwhile, deserves a ton of kudos for playing ball instead of playing hardball.

Instead of maxing out his value — which could have been enormous if he hit the open market next March — Brees left money on the table and turned this deal into a win-win.

“I plan to play for longer than two years, so yeah, I think my mindset going into this was to be able to secure a deal that would take me for as long as I plan on playing,” Brees admitted Wednesday. “But this is what was in the best interest of the team. And so that’s why it was a two-year deal [one year left on his current contract plus the extension].”

The deal is a “win” for Brees, too, for a few reasons.

First, he got fair market value for an elite quarterback — whether you want to consider it a one-year, $24.25 million extension or a two-year deal worth $44.25 million.

Brees is also betting on himself — because he is scheduled to hit the open market again in 2018, when he turns 39. (And who knows, maybe he will be ready to bail out then if the Saints don’t get things turned around).

Brees has insisted repeatedly that he plans to keep playing at a high level into his 40s. And if he keeps playing near his current level, teams will probably be just as willing to back up those money trucks two years from now.

And I’ll probably implore the Saints to re-sign him again, just as I did this offseason.

This is the Saints’ 50th year of existence — and they’ve had exactly one Hall of Fame quarterback during those five decades. They were wise not to push him out of the building.

I loved defensive end Cameron Jordan’s reaction Wednesday when he was asked if it would be hard to be in the running without Brees.

“We don’t have to worry about that, do we?” Jordan said.

“I’ve come a long way,” Goff told reporters. “I feel good with where I’m at.”

But Goff finished the preseason completing only 22-of-49 passes for 232 yards, with two touchdowns, two interceptions, two fumbles and four sacks.

The 21-year-old had two drives against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, the first ending in an interception and the second ending in a sack. His first two drives against the Kansas City Chiefs ended with a lost fumble and a near-fumble sack, but Goff showed flashes of promise in the second half, which culminated in the game-winning touchdown drive. In Week 3, against the reigning Super Bowl champion Broncos in Denver, Goff was up-and-down throughout, a handful of impressive throws sprinkled in with some errant ones. Then came Week 4, which quickly turned sour.

“He is much better now than he was before,” Fisher stressed. “He is comfortable and understands things. He has progressed, so we are a lot further along than when we started.”

That doesn’t say much about where it all began.

In his four games, Goff faced 21 third downs in which he did not hand the ball off to a running back. He converted only four of them. Five others ended in either an interception, a sack or a fumble. Often the game seemed a little bit too fast, which was perhaps to be expected for a rookie quarterback who needed to learn how to take snaps from under center and call plays from the huddle.

Perhaps Goff will one day live up to his promise, but the preseason finale was definitive proof that he is not yet ready.

Now there’s no telling when we’ll see Goff in a game again.

Goff said he will take “the good things I did and all of the stuff I can learn from” in hopes of building on his first preseason as a professional.

“Obviously there’s a lot of both. I was very happy with the growth I’ve been able to make mentally, physically, everything. Just how comfortable I feel now as opposed to the beginning of training camp. Just continue to build off of that and continue to build that confidence.”

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JC Tretter named Packers’ starting center with Corey Linsley on PUP

GREEN BAY, Wis. — JC Tretter has his old job back.

Two years after he lost his job as the Green Bay Packers’ starting center because of a preseason knee injury, he was anointed as the team’s opening-day starter at the position.

The former fourth-round pick from Cornell did not play as a rookie because of an ankle injury he sustained in spring workouts. He then spent the first half of the 2014 season on the temporary injured reserve list. By the time he was activated, McCarthy felt so good about Linsley’s performance that he decided not to go back to Tretter.

Tretter admitted earlier this month that he wasn’t sure if he was just holding a place until Linsley came back.

“I think everybody comes into camp competitions, whether it’s in a true open competition, to me that doesn’t really matter because it doesn’t change what I’m going to do,” Tretter said at the time.

With two preseason games done and two more to play, let’s look at a few:

What about the pass rush?

This was the biggest question as the Cowboys left for Oxnard, and it remains so as they practice in Frisco. They do appear more stout at defensive tackle with the addition of Cedric Thornton and the health of Terrell McClain, playing alongside Tyrone Crawford. Jack Crawford has also shown the ability to rush from the interior. At defensive end, David Irving was making a push to be the starter on the left side, but he has been slowed by a groin injury. Benson Mayowa has yet to play in the preseason and has only a handful of practices under his belt because of June knee surgery. Ryan Russell, in his second season, has been given plenty of snaps but has not produced. Charles Tapper, a fourth-round pick, has missed the past two-plus weeks with a low-back strain, affecting his chances of making an impact. If there was one thing notable about the Cowboys’ time in Oxnard, it was their aggressiveness with the blitz. It’s not in Rod Marinelli’s DNA, but he might have to do more of it.

And the backup QB is …

If you said Dak Prescott at the start of training camp, then congratulations. But it’s like answering “C” for every question on a multiple-choice test — eventually you’ll be right. When Kellen Moore broke his fibula Aug. 2, the Cowboys went into search mode but were rebuffed by Nick Foles and backed off on a potential deal for Josh McCown. Since then, Prescott has performed remarkably well. After two of his poorer practices in Oxnard, he accounted for four touchdowns last Friday against Miami. The Cowboys profess they are still analyzing the position, but think about this: They went 1-11 with Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel and Moore last season in Romo’s absence. Would a rookie backup do worse?

Witness touched by Cam Newton’s kindness to homeless person in Baltimore

Cam Newton giving food to the homeless the night before last week’s preseason opener in Baltimore. Photo courtesy of Candace Gregory
“People talk about him dabbing and all the stuff that in my mind ultimately should be irrelevant, because that doesn’t get to the heart of who he is,” Candace said of Newton.

“I once saw him give something to a disabled child at a practice and people were like, ‘Oh, it’s a photo opportunity.’ But this was when nobody was looking. That’s why we shared it, because character is what you do when nobody is looking.”

Backup quarterback Joe Webb, among those at dinner with Newton, said such acts of kindness from the first pick of the 2011 draft happen all the time. He said Newton often will order a to-go meal if he knows somebody near the restaurant is in need.

He said Newton sometimes will plan outings simply to deliver food to homeless.

“It’s like second nature for him,” said Webb, who sometimes accompanies Newton on such outings. “It’s no surprise that he did it. A lot of people say, ‘What are you doing when people aren’t looking?’ It speaks volumes that he’s a great person.”

Wide receiver Brenton Bersin also has seen Newton give food to homeless people many times.

“I’ve seen him give money to homeless, too,” he said.

Candace said Newton, wearing the red “Pharrell” hat he wore to the game, had no idea she and her husband lived in Charlotte and were Carolina fans. They never approached him.

But Candace talked to the homeless man.

“A lot of people were like, ‘Oh my God! That’s Cam Newton!'” Candace said. “The homeless guy had no idea who Cam was. He was just happy to have food. He was totally oblivious to everything.”

Candace said that from what she saw the homeless man eating, it was obvious Newton had ordered extra food with the intent of giving it away. She said it also was obvious that Newton wasn’t trying to draw attention when he gave the man the food.

“They were walking in a group and he slid over, gave the guy the bag and kept moving,” Candace said. “It was a quick, smooth motion, like he was handing the ball off to a running back.

“He didn’t linger. He didn’t talk to the guy. You could tell he was trying to be discreet about it.”

Candace took pictures of the moment and shared them with her friend, April Boryczewski, a Panthers fan. April posted one of the pictures on Instagram with the message: “It is what you do in secret, away from the media, away from the hype, that shows the true character of a man. Cam’s servants’ heart never ceases to amaze and humble me! I am so truly proud to say this young man represents my Queen City!”

The first rule of preseason, of course, is to stay healthy.

(It’s OK to talk about it. Just don’t get hurt.)

The NFL’s two most-hyped rookies got the message a little late. Neither injury is season-ending, but they are reminders that months of analysis and debate can come to a halt in a single preseason moment.

Let’s take a closer look at the most significant injuries in Week 1 of the NFL preseason. (Fantasy alert: If you don’t see the player you’re looking for on this list, chances are his injury is minor.)

QB Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Injury: Sore left shoulder

Prognosis: The Rams held Goff out of the second half Saturday night because of a hit he absorbed in the second quarter of their 28-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The injury is to Goff’s non-throwing shoulder, and coach Jeff Fisher said Sunday that Goff would resume practicing and likely get some work with the Rams’ first-team offense. It does not appear that the injury will slow Goff’s path to the Rams’ starting job, held on by what is widely assumed to be a temporary basis by veteran Case Keenum.

Hall of Fame Game cancelled because of unsafe field conditions

Still, the cancellation came as a surprise to many. It’s not often that any NFL game, even one that doesn’t count, is called off.

Had no idea a cancellation was possible.. When it 1st got mentioned our entire locker room had the same reaction..
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) August 7, 2016

Realizing the bad look of the whole situation, the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame had both teams stay at the stadium and turned the event into a fan experience. Fans will be refunded their ticket costs. Still, it’s a major embarrassment for the game that annually kicks off the exhibition season.

The Hall of Fame Game was canceled in 2011 because of the ongoing lockout. The game also twice was cut short because of lightning concerns.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was not expected to play anyway, and both teams’ starters likely wouldn’t have had much more than a series in the 2016 preseason debut. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and Colts head coach Chuck Pagano both expressed concerns about the state of the field, brought it up to game officials and monitored as the field crew tried to work on the surface before the game ultimately was canceled.

This was also scheduled to be the debut of “Monday Night Football play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough, who replaced Mike Tirico in the offseason, for ESPN. Now the game goes down as a major waste of money for the network, plus that for the travel expenses of thousands of fans who came to Canton — including scores from Wisconsin — yes, mostly to watch the induction speeches of Brett Favre and Tony Dungy and others, but also catch a little NFL football for the first time in seven months.

People might not love the preseason in general, but this still is a bad look for the NFL.

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – The NFL fans in St. Louis have, for the first time in 21 years, no local team to root for. The Rams have gone to Los Angeles, leaving at least some area fans looking for another team to support.

The Kansas City Chiefs, on the other end of Missouri and about 250 miles from St. Louis, hope it’s them.

The Chiefs’ preseason games this summer, beginning Saturday against the Seattle Seahawks at Arrowhead Stadium, will be shown live on the CBS affiliate in St. Louis, beginning what could be a more aggressive marketing plan aimed at football fans in that city.

“We thought it’s important to have our games on there,’’ president Mark Donovan said during a visit to training camp at Missouri Western State University. “The NFL did, too. It’s a big market and we want to take advantage of that opportunity.’’

The Chiefs have intentionally moved slowly with regard to luring St. Louis area fans.

“It’s something we’re trying to be very respectful of,’’ chairman Clark Hunt said. “We know there are a lot of great Rams fans in St. Louis. They’re very disappointed to lose their team to Los Angeles. We’re not proactively courting them at this point. Probably the best thing we can do to build a fan base over there is to go out and have a great season on the field.’’

Donovan said, “I think our strategy has been the right strategy. Let’s seed our product and see how we do and let’s see what the reaction is, and then let’s go from there.’’


“We made a conscious decision to ship them out because we want people that are prepared to improve,” Fowler said. “If you’re making a lot of money and you think you’re already there, you’re not going to get better.

“… They had a bad attitude. You saw Kemp’s letter. Talk about a bunch of b.s.”

“Most of ’em are gone, thank God.”

Shields signed a four-year, $75-million deal with San Diego ahead of the 2015 season. He made 44 starts for the Padres and went 15-14 with a 4.00 ERA in 269 2/3 innings. Until his final Padres start, Shields was in the midst of a strong campaign with a 3.06 ERA in 10 starts.

A Southern California native who now resides in San Diego, Shields said he enjoyed his time with the Padres. But he can’t wrap his head around how he previously was singled out and is once again attached to Fowler’s ire.

The Padres owe Shields’ $22 million of the $44 million left on his contract over the next two seasons.

“I understand his reasoning and frustration,” Shields said. “With the situation with me, I felt it was unnecessary to call me out just for my one bad outing. I know his frustrations were more or less on the team. But to call me out individually — he had no respect for me as a player.

“The one thing I do know is that whenever I stepped foot on the mound, I was there to win and there was no lack of effort whatsoever on my part. It’s unfortunate. That’s a great city. The fans are amazing. They want to win. They want a winner over there. It’s unfortunate the way it happened. I’m not happy about the way that it happened because we did have some really good players. I do know one thing — I can talk on behalf of myself and I put in as good of an effort as I have my whole career.”

CANTON, Ohio – Brett Favre wants his induction speech at Saturday’s Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement to mirror his career.

It’s why the former gun-slinging Green Bay Packers quarterback said he won’t go in with any written remarks. He knows he’ll talk extensively about his father, Irv, who died in 2003 on the eve of one of his greatest performances. After that, it could be a free-for-all.

“My speech will be much like the way I played; it will be, ‘Who in the hell knows?'” Favre said on Friday.

“But it worked out pretty well in my career.”

Favre will be the last of the eight inductees to address the crowd.

“I say that not to scare anyone, but we may be here ’til 3 in the morning,” Favre said. “With my dad, I think what I want to get across, and it’s no big secret, is about [how] important he was to my life and my career, which was extremely important. There’s a lot of people who are important to my career and my success, but none more important than my dad, and I want to make sure I get that across.”

Favre’s free-wheeling style helped turn him into a beloved figure, especially during his 16-year run with the Packers.

However, there’s no ignoring his final stop — the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the rival Minnesota Vikings. That part of his career was commemorated in a Hall of Fame exhibit that includes both Packers and Vikings jerseys.

The artifacts were selected by the museum curators with no input from Favre, who finally saw the display on Friday while touring the Hall of Fame with one of his former coaches, Steve Mariucci.

How is Mark Sanchez doing against 2 QBs who have never thrown an NFL pass?

But Sanchez is probably the early favorite to be under center for the regular-season opener against the Carolina Panthers. Siemian and Lynch have zero NFL passes between them. Sanchez has 72 starts, 15,126 yards and 86 touchdowns. A rebuilding team might ride with one of the young guys. The defending Super Bowl champs might not be so bold.

Sanchez’s experience is his edge. He talked about knowing when to give his teammates some extra reminders in the huddle, in pressing situations like third down or inside the red zone, or how to instill confidence in everyone. He joked about trying to be a leader in the huddle his rookie season with the New York Jets (“My first year was a good acting job, I felt like, because half the time I didn’t know what was going on,” he said) but he’s more comfortable with it after six NFL seasons. He’s seen it all by now.

“He doesn’t seem to get rattled out here,” Broncos receiver Bennie Fowler said. “I love the way he’s playing.”

Sanchez has been a starting quarterback in New York and Philadelphia, so he has felt pressure before. Nothing about Sanchez’s ever-optimistic demeanor indicates he’s bothered by this latest challenge.

“It’s almost like someone who has had that near-death experience and now nothing phases them,” Sanchez said. “You just have a different perspective and a different outlook. Once you’ve been through that fire a little bit, you’re hardened. Calloused, in ways. I think that’s good.”

Sanchez probably won’t have much room for error. First-round picks at quarterback don’t take redshirt seasons anymore.

In 2005, first-round rookie quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Jason Campbell didn’t start a game. From 2006 through last year, 24 quarterbacks were picked in the first round. Twenty-two of the 24 started at least one game as a rookie. Jake Locker in 2011 and Brady Quinn in 2007 were the only exceptions. If Lynch doesn’t get a shot this year, it’s an anomaly.

Lynch isn’t a threat to start yet. He’s still wildly inconsistent. On Wednesday, Lynch’s accuracy was all over the place. There’s a reason he finished OTAs third on the depth chart and is still there. He needs some work, which isn’t uncommon for a rookie.

The Dallas Cowboys spent all of last season churning through injured and ineffective quarterbacks. 2016 is off to a similar start.

With backup passer Kellen Moore expected to be out three to four months with the broken ankle he suffered on Tuesday, the ‘Boys already have eyes for the league’s most available veteran passer: Nick Foles.

“It really seems they’re going to have to take a hard look at the veteran quarterback market, and the name to watch is Nick Foles,” NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday on NFL Network, per team sources. “There is legitimate interest. I’m told the Cowboys — that would be the name if they are going to bring in a backup.”

NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo reported that Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones has talked to Foles agent. The Cowboys are one of a handful of teams interested in Foles and there’s a chance he could sign with a team as early as Wednesday, Garafolo added.

Antonio Brown wants Steelers to ‘take care of him’

“I’m a first-class guy in the relationship (with the Steelers), and the first step to getting better is showing up,” he said.

Brown is regarded as the best route runner in the NFL and he’s strongly in the discussion as the best wide receiver in the league. His contract doesn’t add up to his contributions. Brown knows it and the Steelers should, too.

“When you don’t have contact with somebody for as long as we did, you don’t know every little detail of what’s going on,” Gase continued. “(Surgery) was a decision that we had to make. We’ll see how everything goes moving forward.”
The designation won’t affect Jordan’s future with the team or the conditions of his reinstatement, but he’ll lose out on the $1.7 million bonus he would have received Monday if he were on the active roster.

The move comes two days after the NFL conditionally reinstated after being suspended for more than a year following multiple violations of the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

Gase said that Jordan “has a fresh start with him and that past events were “irrelevant.”

In addition to placing Jordan on the NFI list, the team also activated newly signed running back Arian Foster (Achilles tendon) from the physically unable to perform list. Foster was placed on PUP Friday a little more than a week after he inked a one-year deal with the team.

Jordan has been cleared by the NFL to join the Dolphins at training camp and participate in meetings, conditioning work and similar activities. He will be allowed to take part in all preseason activities, including practices and games, once certain conditions of his reinstatement are fully met. If he meets all the criteria of his reinstatement, he will be allowed to play in the regular season for the first time since December 2014.

“I just think the approach, the denial of everything. Looking me in my eye and denying everything, it’s tough,” Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It disappoints you as a man and a guy who cared so much about him. I obviously care a lot about him as a person and a football player.”

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