Besides the quarterback, the player on offense under the most pressure to perform this year will be Matt Jones. The team let Alfred Morris walk in free agency and they waited until the seventh round to draft his replacement. And at this point the often injured, lightly used Keith Marshall isn’t even a sure bet to make the team. Jones will need to stay healthy while averaging 15-20 carries per game, add about a yard to the 3.4 per carry average he posted last year, and make fumbles very rare occurrences.
Jones had a few moments as a rookie, but they were mostly in the passing game, where he averaged 16.0 yards per catch on 19 receptions. As a runner, he averaged 3.4 YPC on 144 totes. It appears that he'll be the primary running back, though Chris Thompson led the Washington running backs with 35 receptions last season and may form a committee by taking over most of the third-down work.
In between discussing the rookies, Carroll made sure to let everyone know where he stands on second-year player Thomas Rawls.
"Thomas gives us a great element in his style of play," Carroll said. "We love the way he is physical and aggressive and tough. So, you see C.J. come off because he really has special qualities that he can add to the third-down aspect to our offense. We’re hoping that the other guys can complement what we’re already getting from Thomas. Each guy has his stuff. We think we can fit that together.
"We’ll come to appreciate that even more, but I think the message of who we are and what we’re about has been Thomas. We’re really excited to continue to see that, and we’ll see if we can fit it together in a really special fashion. They are unique. These guys are not from the same mold, which we really appreciate."
Who we are and what we're about. Carroll's message was clear: Assuming health, Rawls is the Seahawks' primary ball-carrier.
With Marshawn Lynch out of the way, Rawls is first in line for workhorse back duties given his performance in 2015. In the six games in which Rawls played and Lynch did not, the rookie averaged 20.5 touches for 120 yards and 0.84 touchdowns (on a stellar 5.6 YPC). That doesn't even include Week 3, when he turned 16 carries into 104 yards while Lynch was limited to five carries. A fractured ankle ended his season, but it didn't require surgery and he should be ready to for training camp. If he's fully healthy, Rawls' ADP should climb into the 3rd round (or higher). The only real concern here is the status of his ankle.
The Redskins’ intentions with Jones became clear by the end of the draft. They want him to be the lead back and are confident he’ll jump into the starting role and be just fine.
OC Sean McVay believes with a full offseason under his belt Jones will be able to right the fumbling issues, though.
“We know that he had some growing pains, but I think, when you look at the things that he was able to do both in the run game, and in the pass game, he’s got the skills and the traits that you’re looking for in that every down [running] back, where he can put his foot in the ground,” McVay said. “He’s a violent finisher. I think he’s a little bit more sudden than people give him credit for.”
Jones started his rookie season with a bang, posting 146 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams in Week 2, but ultimately generated just 3.40 yards per carry on 144 totes. He made a number of big plays in the passing game (16.0 yards per catch), finishing with 794 yards and four touchdowns. With Alfred Morris gone, Jones has a great opportunity to seize the RB1 job.
Offensive coordinator Sean McVay not only believes Doctson can do so, he's confident the Redskins will get the most out of the 6-foot-2, 202 pounder early on in his career.
“The great thing about it is we got a bunch of great players, and he’ll start out as an outside receiver, where he’ll play behind both Pierre and DeSean, and we’ll be able to groom him,” McVay said Wednesday on ESPN980. “And however well he does, he’ll earn that playing time if his play dictates that. He’s a guy that we’re very excited about.”
McVay went on to compare Doctson to A.J. Green and did say that he could earn more playing time if his play dictates it. We're assuming both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon will be back, and don't envision Doctson beating out either player in training camp. Garcon is probably the most vulnerable, so if Doctson has a great summer and earns a larger role, it will probably come at Garcon's expense. Jackson is also known to be somewhat injury-prone, so Doctson could see more snaps due to simple attrition.
"Those 2 guys are as good as I've seen in a while,'' Jackson said on the Browns draft review show Tuesday night that aired on 92.3 The Fan. "Their talent is extreme."
"I've been getting so much mail or phones calls with people saying, 'Well wait a minute, why don't you guys have a running back?''' he said. "I really think Isaiah Crowell is a really good running back. I think he's going to have a sensational season, I really do."
In Johnson, Jackson sees an elusive runner and dynamic receiver in the mold of Cincinnati's Gio Bernard, who rushed for 730 yards (4.7-yard average) and two TDs, and caught 49 passes for 472 yards and no TDs.
"I think he's going to have a great year as well," Jackson said. "Duke has suddenness and quickness and he can go catch the ball with anybody. He does so many different things that gives your offense a boost.''
Crowell outscored Johnson in standard formats, but Johnson (61 catches) had the edge in PPR, finishing #24 on the year. We can glean Jackson's playcalling tendencies from his usage of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill last year in Cincinnati. When the Bengals were trailing by a field goal or more, Bernard saw 33 touches to Hill's 32. When the Bengals were trailing by two points or less, tied or leading, Hill saw 206 touches to 170 for Bernard. Since the 2016 Browns are likely to be trailing far more often than the 2015 Bengals, Johnson has a chance at an even larger share than Bernard, who finished #17 in PPR formats last season. Given Johnson's 6th-round ADP in early PPR drafts, he looks like a nice target for the "wait on RB" crowd.
Base value of Jordan Reed extension is 5 years, just under $50M. $22M guaranteed. Amount fully guaranteed at signing not yet known.
Thanks to a relatively healthy season (14 games), Reed finished #3 in standard formats and #2 in PPR. He caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, registering a higher PPG in PPR formats than Rob Gronkowski. He was second only to Delanie Walker in targets per game. He's extremely talented and is a near-lock to be a top five tight end as long as he stays healthy, but given his history and his price (4th round ADP), there's some risk here.
From multiple sources: Walford will be fine, well ahead of schedule, gave everyone a scare when it first happened.
This sounds like a non-issue, but it's something to file away in case he misses offseason activities.
It's strange that Hoyer didn't sign with a team that's more QB-needy than the Bears, but clearly he didn't have much of a market for his services if he's willing to sign a one-year deal worth "only" $2 million.
The recoveries from season-ending injuries for Seahawks players Thomas Rawls and Jimmy Graham have gone as planned but it remains too early to establish a set timeline for their return, coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday.
“Everything’s going well, yeah,” Carroll said during the team’s annual pre-draft press conference. “Everything’s really in good shape. It’s just when they push to get back we are going to have to see what the timeline is, you know, so we can tell. It’s going good.”
Rawls suffered a broken ankle during a win at Baltimore on Dec. 13 while Graham suffered a torn patellar tendon in the win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 29.
While Carroll was vague about a timeline Tuesday, the team general feeling is that each could be ready for the beginning of the season — particularly Rawls, whose injury has a shorter timeframe for recovery — but that each might not participate much in the pre-season.
Our injury expert, Russell Manalastas, is fairly confident about Rawls being ready at some point in training camp, but predicts that Graham will be limited (at best) in Week 1 since it takes a while to recover from a torn patellar tendon. The tight end position is deep this year, so there is no reason to reach for Graham when there are plenty of good options available.
Graham caught 49 passes for 545 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games playing for HC Gary Kubiak in 2013. That works out to 10.3 PPG (in PPR formats), which equates to low-end TE1 numbers. He'll compete with Virgil Green for targets.
A federal appeals court has ruled that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady must serve a four-game Deflategate suspension imposed by the NFL, overturning a lower judge and siding with the league in a battle with the NFL Players Association.
"We hold that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion under the collective bargaining agreement and that his procedural rulings were properly grounded in that agreement and did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness," the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday in a 2-1 decision in New York.
The NFLPA and Brady can petition for a re-hearing in front of the same panel then the entire 2nd Circuit Court or take their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. They would have to request a stay of Brady's suspension during the appeal.
The NFL has the option to implement the full suspension or attempt to reach a settlement and avoid further appeals.
The Angry Tom Strategy lives! Barring a successful appeal (unlikely), Brady will have to serve the four-game suspension in 2016. His ADP is currently in the 8th round, but is likely to take a hit as early drafters learn the news. Savvy owners can scoop up Brady in the 10th or 11th round, draft a backup in the later rounds (Tyrod Taylor?) and then enjoy Brady's production from Week 5 on.
Cruz is on board with his boss's optimism, telling NJ Advance Media he feels he is back to full strength as he continues to rehab the rare calf injury that cost him the entire 2015 season.
"I'm feeling great. Workouts have been going amazing. Each day, it gets better and better," Cruz said on Friday afternoon while making an appearance during a free children's health screening seminar here in his hometown at the Boys and Girls Club.
"I'm excited to continue to train, continue that pattern, and see where it takes me. ... I'm 100 percent. I feel good. No injuries, no ailments, nothing hurts, no pain."
Cruz has not played in a game since October of 2014, when he suffered a right patellar tear. And his comeback attempt never materialized last year, as a series of false starts with a nagging calf injury eventually led to season-ending surgery without the former Paterson Catholic star playing a down.
All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman and the Washington Redskins have agreed to a five-year deal that could be worth as much as $75 million, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Friday.
The contract will include a guaranteed $50 million, according to the NFL Network, the most ever paid to a cornerback.
Norman's agent, Michael George, confirmed the deal with The Associated Press without providing parameters of the signing.
The Redskins owned the #13 fantasy defense last year and the addition of Norman should improve a pass defense that yielded the 8th-most passing yards in 2015.
New HC Adam Gase has a history of utilizing his tight ends. Julius Thomas averaged 4.0 catches for 47 yards and 0.89 touchdowns in 27 games under Gase from 2013-14. Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller combined to produce 87 catches for 878 yards and eight touchdowns last season while Gase was the OC for the Bears. Cameron is turning 28 in August and is two seasons removed from his 80-917-7 breakout season in Cleveland. It's possible that he recaptures that magic in a larger role with Gase calling the shots.
The idea had already crossed Walker's mind.
“I am pretty sure,’’ Walker said. “When you have a threat like that, and you have a tight end threat, if I am on the field at all times blocking and running routes, I think that gives us a mismatch on the field. Defenses won’t know what is going on, and that just gives you another opportunity to put points on the board.”
The Titans were 13th in pass % (percentage of pass attempts of total called plays), and that number is likely to fall with the addition of DeMarco Murray. Tennessee was 27th in total plays, so there is plenty of room for improvement. The team will have to run more plays if Walker hopes to see the same workload.