The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released running back Doug Martin, the team announced Tuesday. The two-time Pro Bowler was due to make nearly $7 million in 2018 but averaged just 2.9 yards per carry over the past two seasons.
Martin, 29, was benched in favor of second-year back Peyton Barber for the final three games of the 2017 season and was a healthy scratch for the Monday Night Football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15 for violating a team rule.
The move was hardly a surprise. When asked by ESPN about Martin's struggles in 2017 and whether he had a future with the team, general manager Jason Licht said, "Without going into much detail, it's safe to say that we need more out of our running game in general. We need to get better run-blocking, we need more explosive plays out of the running back position. I was really happy [and] we were really happy with Peyton [Barber] with the way he came on at the end of the season, so that was positive. Obviously Doug had a down season by his standards and by our standards."
As the article notes, this is not a big surprise. But where do the Bucs go from here? With Martin cut and Charles Sims entering free agency, the Tampa backfield could look very different in 2018. In the seven games in which Peyton Barber carried the ball at least 10 times, he averaged 14.1 carries for 59 yards (4.20 YPC). In those games, he also added 2.0 catches for 15 yards. The Bucs are likely to draft a running back, but depending on the draft capital that they spend, Barber may have the inside track to start in 2018.
He has apparently had enough time.
Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said on AZ Sports 98.7 FM that Fitzgerald told him last night he intends to play in 2018.
Fitzgerald is coming off of three straight top 11 finishes in PPR and three straight top 17 finishes in standard scoring formats. He should remain a solid fantasy WR2 in 2018 despite a change at quarterback and offensive coordinator.
Reich, 56, spent the past two seasons in Philadelphia helping the Eagles' offense, led by quarterbacks Carson Wentz and (after Week 14) Nick Foles, improve from 22nd to seventh in the NFL this season.
I believe Rob Gronkowski’s rumblings about retirement are real. He’s been responsible with his finances (putting away most of his football money and living largely off his endorsement cash), and he’s taken an absolute beating. That this is a real choice for high-profile players now is great progress, too.
While it would be surprising if Gronkowski retired, Breer argues that the "rumblings" are "real." While we expect Gronk to play in 2018, owners should be aware that he is thinking about hanging 'em up.
The 49ers agreed to terms on a five-year contract with Jimmy Garoppolo worth $137.5 million, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported, per a source informed of the decision. The deal is the largest in NFL history on an average-per-year basis.
In just seven career starts, Garoppolo has displayed unequivocally he's a franchise quarterback. Now he'll be paid like one.
Down the stretch of the season, Jimmy G elevated every player on the 49ers' roster. His pinpoint ball placement allowed previously third-fiddle receivers to morph into dangerous weapons. His quick trigger and ability to throw off his back foot aided a banged-up offensive line. His talent for moving the ball kept the 49ers' porous defense off the field and in positive situations.
In his first three games starting for the 49ers, Garoppolo led just one three-and-out punt. San Francisco scored on a whopping 62 percent of Jimmy G's drives this season -- for perspective, the Patriots were second at 51 percent.
Since he entered the NFL in 2014, Garoppolo has completed 67.3 percent of his passes (4th-highest, min. 250 attempts) with an 8.3 yards per attempt average (first) and a 99.7 passer rating (fifth).
In five starts with the 49ers (and limited weapons at receiver), Garoppolo completed 67.0% of his passes for an average of 308 yards and an 8.76 yards per attempt. He also threw six touchdowns and five interceptions in those five starts. He'll be ranked as a high-end QB2 in our early 2018 rankings.
Carson Wentz confirmed on Friday what we suspected on the day of his injury — that he has an LCL tear in addition to the previously reported ACL tear.
What does this mean for the Eagles quarterback’s recovery?
Most likely, Wentz had a primary repair where the lateral collateral ligament was sewn back together (which speeds recovery) versus needing a graft. That type of repair is more common in LCL tears, as opposed to the ACL, which almost always requires reconstruction with a graft.
At this point, it is still reasonable to hope Wentz can be ready by Week 1. If that happens, he will almost certainly be limited to being a pocket quarterback.
However, there is no guarantee Wentz will even be ready to take the field by then.
Related players: Nick Foles
Wentz was the No. 2 fantasy quarterback through Week 14, and he missed the final three games after tearing his ACL and LCL. His draft stock will be depressed until it becomes clear that he'll be ready to play Week 1, and even then he is unlikely to be much of a running threat as his knee won't be 100 percent healed. Wentz won't look like his old self until the second half of the season (or perhaps the 2019 season). Look for the Eagles to hold onto Nick Foles as insurance since he's still under contract for another year.
On Sunday, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported there still are doctors who have concerns about Andrew Luck's shoulder and whether he could wind up needing additional surgery.
Luck is not out of the woods yet for 2018. This report could have influenced Josh McDaniels' decision to renege on his agreement to join the Colts as head coach. Stay tuned.
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Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (concussion) was removed from the injury report Friday after taking full practice reps Thursday. Gronk is going to play against the Eagles and his presence will give the Patriots’ offense and Tom Brady a big boost.
LaFleur was also the quarterbacks coach for Kyle Shanahan in 2015 and 2016.
The Chiefs will receive a 2018 third-round pick and a player to be named on Wednesday, a source confirmed, though any trade involving Smith can’t be completed until the first day of the new league year, which begins at 3 p.m. on March 14. But the sources say the deal is in place and will definitely proceed.
Smith, 33, is coming off a stellar season in which he set career-highs in passing yards (4,042), touchdowns (26) and passer rating (104.7), throwing just five interceptions.
Related players: Kirk Cousins
The change in teams will force Smith to learn a new offense and develop a rapport with a new set of receivers, though he should remain a good value on draft day. Kirk Cousins will hit free agency as the best free agent quarterback since 2012, when Peyton Manning was signed by the Broncos.
New Cardinals head man Steve Wilks, a defensive-minded coach, has pegged Mike McCoy to run his offense in Arizona.
McCoy's offenses have finished in the top 18 in yards gained in six straight seasons and they had three top 10 finishes in that span.
The Giants agreed to hire former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher late Tuesday night, a source told ESPN. Bettcher met with the Giants in Mobile, Alabama, on Tuesday afternoon, while he was in town for the Senior Bowl.
Bettcher also interviewed with and received an offer from the Tennessee Titans to be their defensive coordinator, the source said.
The 39-year-old Bettcher wasn't retained by new Cardinals coach Steve Wilks, who was hired Monday.
Bettcher was the DC for the Cardinals for the last three seasons and his defenses finished 5th, 2nd and 6th in yards allowed in that span. This looks like a good hire for the G-Men.
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