Week 15 is winding down, with a lot on the line for the Saints tonight …
• The Chiefs claiming veteran LB Terrell Suggs off waivers makes sense on a few levels. First, the team just lost DE Alex Okafor, who played 80% of the team’s defensive snaps against New England last week, to a torn pec. Second, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo coached Suggs as a Ravens assistant in 2013 and ’14. And third, as the No. 26 team in the waiver order, Kansas City knew by claiming him, and the $353,000 left on his contract, they’d block him from going back to Baltimore or to New England, which brings value, even if he refuses to report.
Can he still play? It’s a fair question. His playing time was steady (he was in on 69% of Arizona’s defensive snaps through 13 games) through the year, and he posted 5.5 sacks over that time. And the Chiefs have Frank Clark and Chris Jones, so (again, providing he reports) they won’t be asking him to move mountains there.
• The other big waiver claim: The Saints were awarded Janoris Jenkins, who shot his way out of New York last week, in part because of insensitive comments directed at a fan on Twitter (comments he later explained were part of his “culture”). At this point, Jenkins is more of a competitive piece to add to a good corner group in New Orleans, rather than some sort of fix. The Saints moved backup Johnson Bademosi to IR to make room for Jenkins, who should push up-and-down No. 2 corner Eli Apple for playing time (This move was in part due, I’m told, to Apple having a bad few weeks). New Orleans picks up the $1.19 million left on his deal for 2019, and essentially has a $11.25 million option on him for ’20. It’s fronted by a $1 million roster bonus, which is due in March and creates an early decision point for the team.
• Josh Gordon, who caught a 58-yard pass agains the Panthers on Sunday, has been suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy—almost a year to the day from when he was suspended while on the Patriots lat season. To be clear, what Gordon is dealing with is bigger than football, and should be treated as such. But a buzzword describing why New England moved on from him in October: Dependability. The Patriots built a role for him in the offense before losing him to suspension, and the signs were troubling enough that the team didn’t want to roll the dice on his availability down the stretch and into the playoffs this season. Losing Gordon led a makeover of the receiver room (with Mohamed Sanu coming in, and rookie Jakobi Meyers taking on a more prominent role ahead of first-round pick N’Keal Harry’s return).
• The NFLPA’s victory over the NFL and the Jaguars forced the team to repay fine money to about 10 different players both currently on Jacksonville and not (including a whopping $700,000 to Dante Fowler). The arbitrator ruled that it was permissible for teams to require players to rehab year-round but not that they do all the rehab on site. I’m told Fowler’s fines were incurred during the January-March window of the 2018 season—which is a “dead period” for players during the year, after season’s end, but before teams open their offseason program.
• The union actually made attempts to settle with the Jaguars and the league over the last few months but was rebuffed. The offer, as I understand it, entailed the players having their fine money repaid, and bargaining between the parties to reach settlement terms. It seems crazy to me that the NFL and a team wouldn’t want this to go away, rather than fight it for months. But that’s the chose they made.
• After Sunday’s win, the Texans now have a game lead on the Titans, and J.J. Watt is eligible to return off of IR for the teams’ Week 17 rematch. Whether he can get back that fast from his torn pec remains to be seen, but that’ll certainly be something to watch over the last 13 days. My understanding is Houston’s not counting on it, which is to say getting anything from Watt would be a bonus.
• The Panthers are planning to start Will Grier the next two weeks, because the team sees that he’s made progress to the point where they are OK putting him in a game situation. Coming out of West Virginia’s Air Raid, Grier never had a shot at unseating Kyle Allen as Cam Newton’s backup in the spring or summer because he simply wasn’t ready to play—but he is now. His command of the Norv Turner/Scott Turner offense is where it needs to be, which opens the door for the team to get a better look at what the new coaching staff will have in 2020 in the third-round pick.
• This week’s MMQB led with Cowboys’ Sean Lee, and I asked him if this will be his final NFL season: "I think it's game-to-game, it's year-to-year. There are times I feel that I can play forever. There are times where I feel that as you get older this game gets harder. I take it one week at a time and try to help any way I can. I love playing. I love being a part of it."
• Falcons QB Matt Ryan had an interesting answer when I asked if the players in Atlanta are in any way playing to keep the band together (Dan Quinn included) in 2020: "I think experience has taught me you're playing for your job every week and every opportunity you have to put yourself on film and go out and compete, you're playing for your livelihood. Guys understand that from a coaching perspective, too. Everybody is in this to win games and I know we all love playing for Dan."
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