- The free-agent defensive tackle is going into an ideal situation in Carolina—and will have two shots a year at his old team. Plus more as mandatory minicamps get set to kick off.
Nine teams get going tomorrow with mandatory minicamps …
• The Panthers felt good about their situation on Gerald McCoy over the weekend—and the celebration outside Marty Hurney’s office on Monday afternoon showed it was well-placed. This, of course, was telegraphed all along. McCoy identified the Ravens and Browns at the outset, and planned to visit both, then reset and either sign with one of them or re-open the process. He didn’t sign with Baltimore or Cleveland, obviously, which made the next team he’d visit the favorite to get him. And in Carolina, McCoy will get to play in an aggressive upfield scheme that fits his game, next to an interior presence, in K.K. Short, who’ll take some pressure off him, and under a coach who knows how to manage older vets. Plus he gets to play the Bucs twice. Which is to say that this makes all the sense in the world.
• One other interesting thing about how the McCoy sweepstakes played out, at least to me—because he’s the only player of his stature out there on the market, he’s had the chance to go on visits, gather information and take his time in making a good decision, kind of like Peyton Manning did in 2012. It’s too bad other free agents don’t have the luxury, which, I think, they could if the league would consider creating an extended (maybe a week-long) negotiating period where visits were allowed and signings were not.
• The Redskins quarterback situation is going to be one to watch. It’ll depend on how he’s feeling, but I’m told Colt McCoy is going to try to do some on-field individual work either this week or next, before the team breaks for summer. He’s not ready for team drills yet, but this is a good step forward. At the team’s minicamp, starting tomorrow, Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins will take center stage, with the quarterback spot for Week 1 in Philly still wide open.
• One thing you keep hearing: How fast new Jets coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense is practicing. And that could be a sign that the team’s investment up the middle is paying off. There are two top-six picks on the interior of the defensive line (Leonard Williams, Quinnen Williams), two top-40 picks at safety (Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye) and two big-ticket free-agent off-ball linebackers (C.J. Mosley, Avery Williamson). How far the group can take it will probably come down to making it work on the edge and at corner. But Williams’s early work with the group has been solid.
• With the NFL’s summer break coming a week from Friday, 206 of the NFL’s 254 draft picks are signed. Eight of the 48 unsigned are Rams—and the Rams make their picks go through financial education before they sign. Twenty-three of the remaining 40 were drafted in the third round. Why? A glitch in how the league and union negotiated their slotting system allowed for teams to do higher base salaries in Years 2, 3 and 4 of deals for third-rounders (there’s no wiggle room in other rounds). How much wiggle room is there? One agent said to me it’s about three or four grand over the life of the deal, which means less than a thousand bucks per year. Proving, again, that if you give players and teams guys anything to fight over, they’re going to fight. (Also, if your team has an unsigned third-rounder, this is one reason not to worry.)
• While we’re on contracts, as part of doing this morning’s MMQB, I did ask Rams QB Jared Goff about his contract situation. This offseason is the first in which he’s been eligible for a new deal. And at least outwardly, Goff doesn’t seem too concerned about whether it gets done now, next year or the year after that. “Nope,” he said. “Not at all. It’ll take care of itself. Keep playing well, we’ll be fine.” My best guess is that Goff has to wait until the next year to get his big second contract. And he’s got reasons to be comfortable. 1) He’ll have made almost $28 million over his four years in the league absent a new deal, 2) his option for next year is slated to come in at just under $23 million, and 3) tagging him in 2021 would likely cost the Rams over $30 million.
• Since Roger Goodell addressed the preseason—he told reporters in Buffalo that he wasn’t sure anymore that four exhibition games are necessary—I figured I’d give you my two tweaks to how all of this should be done. One, I’d try to make a bigger deal of the joint practices between teams at camp. They’re a better take than a preseason game, and finding a creative way to take advantage of everything that comes with those joint practices for fans would be smart. Two, I’d use the preseason games to give people who don’t live in NFL markets access to pro football. It’s happening this year, with the Rams set to host a game in Hawaii and the Packers expected to take one to Winnipeg this August. It’d be a good way for teams to expand their footprint (they could do fan fests, or that sort of thing around them), and a good way for the league to thank those who love pro football but may live far away from teams they root for.
• The commissioner also made mention of Buffalo’s stadium situation at that press gathering, saying he wants to see a new venue built there so the franchise can “maintain stability.” From the Bills’ perspective, what he said doesn’t change much. The Pegulas hired CAA ICON to conduct a study in November on the long-term viability of both New Era Stadium (the NFL’s sixth-oldest venue) and KeyBank Center (which opened in 1996 and houses the Pegula’s other franchise, the NHL’s Sabres). The study is expected to last about nine months, so the family should have more information in mid-summer on how they should proceed with both teams. And in the meantime, money has been poured into the Bills’ current home, which underwent a $130 million facelift five years ago, and over the last year has gotten a new $18 million weight room, new clubs and a new playing surface. So there’s no real reason for panic here yet.
• The NFL’s conference calls with the 32 head coaches are set for tomorrow and Wednesday, so we should have word soon on whether or not the competition committee will use the power the owners granted it last month to tweak the pass-interference replay process. Two changes are on the table. One would give the coaches power over pass-interference replay challenges (taking it from the officials) in the final two minutes of halves and overtime, excluding Hail Mary plays. Another would be Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie’s idea of giving coaches a designated challenge, outside the normal challenge system, for those situations.
• It’s amazing to me that we still tend to talk about Terrelle Pryor like he’s some kind of prospect—he turns 30 in two weeks! And the Jaguars are the ninth team he’s spent time with. That said, there is a real path to winning a roster spot for him in Jacksonville. The Jags’ decision to sign him was largely due to his size and catch radius. The team simply doesn’t have a receiver like him. So he’s got a shot to fill a void there.
• It was probably good for the Cardinals to see Patrick Peterson back in the building this week, but I’m not sure there was a ton to worry about—the new coaching staff has found a way to build a relationship with him without the benefit of his presence at work. Both Kliff Kingsbury and corners coach Greg Williams were at Peterson’s charity event earlier in the spring and have been in pretty constant communication with the eight-time Pro Bowler, who’ll be suspended for the first six games of the season for violating the PED policy.
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