Recent NFL Player News

Free agent Julius Peppers 'leaning toward' returning for 17th season

Free agent defensive end Julius Peppers is reportedly "leaning toward" returning for his 17th NFL season.

What It Means:

The Charlotte Observer's sources say that Peppers "doesn't want to commit to it yet." If he does return, it would only be with the Panthers, with whom he's spent 9 of his previous 16 seasons. Peppers, who turned 38 in January, is recovering from surgery to repair a torn right labrum.

Peppers appeared in all 16 games, tallying 21 tackles, 11 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in 2017.

Lions not expected to release Eric Ebron

The Detroit Lions are not expected to release tight end Eric Ebron.

What It Means:

Ebron carries a club option for the 2018 season and it's guaranteed for injury only. Shedding his salary would give the Lions some flexibility but general manager Bob Quinn has said that Ebron will return. At 24, Ebron's been mildly disappointing through four seasons. But he has shown the ability to produce for stretches of time.

After posting 53 catches, 574 yards and 4 scores in 2017, Ebron has now made it back-to-back seasons with at least 50 catches, 500 yards and a touchdown.

Cowboys expected to place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence

According to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Cowboys are expected to place the franchise tag on defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.

What It Means:

Lawrence's contract is up and the two sides don't appear to be closing in on a long-term deal. The deadline for Dallas to use the tag is March 6th, so the time to make a decision is coming quickly. Tagging Lawrence would guarantee him around $17.5 million for 2018.

In 2017, Lawrence was dominant with 15 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in 16 games.

Jaguars expected to tag Allen Robinson for 2018

The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to use the franchise tag on wide receiver Allen Robinson if the two sides can't come to a long-term deal.

What It Means:

Robinson's looking for a long-term deal and has been noting that his ACL injury is "not really an issue." However, ESPN's Mike DiRocco expects the Jaguars to be looking for a "one-year, incentive-laden deal." The franchise tag doesn't carry incentives and is a bit more pricey, but it would give the Jags some time to figure out if Robinson will be healthy moving forward.

Limited by the injury, Robinson caught 1 ball for 17 yards in 2017. He had 73 catches, 883 yards and 6 touchdown catches in 2016.

Source: ESPN

Austin Seferian-Jenkins turned down Jets' two-year, $8 million offer

Free agent tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins recently turned down a two-year, $8 million deal offered by the New York Jets.

What It Means:

The offer wasn't what ASJ wanted in the way of guarantees. However, the two sides are expected to get back to contract talks and "work something out." Bringing the 25-year-old back makes a lot of sense for a Jets team in need of dynamic playmakers.

In 13 games, Seferian-Jenkins hauled in 50-of-74 targets for 3 touchdowns and a career-high 357 receiving yards in 2017.

Source: SNY

Jets view Bilal Powell as 'complementary back'

According to ESPN's Rich Cimini, the New York Jets view running back Bilal Powell as a 'complementary back.'

What It Means:

The team would prefer to keep him under 170 carries. With Matt Forte all but out the door, Elijah McGuire would be the only in-house option to split time with Powell. If they don't think McGuire's capable, they'll have to look elsewhere in the draft or free agency.

In 2017-18, Powell took 178 carries for 772 yards and 5 rushing scores. He added 23 catches and 170 yards through the air in 15 games.

Texans will release Brian Cushing

According to the Houston Chronicle's John McClain, the Houston Texans have informed linebacker Brian Cushing of his release.

What It Means:

The team will release Cushing prior to the beginning of the new league year on March 14th. Cushing's lack of availability, combined with the emergence of second-year guys Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole, have made him an expendable player in Houston. The team will save $7.64 million upon his release.

Over the past 2 seasons, Cushing has played in just 18-of-32 games. In his last full season, he made 83 tackles along with 3 passes defensed and 1 forced fumble.

Report: Case Keenum 'seems to be the favorite' to return as Vikings' starting quarterback

Free agent quarterback Case Keenum "seems to be the favorite" to return as the Minnesota Vikings' starter in 2018.

What It Means:

Keenum's an unrestricted free agent and is joined by former teammate Sam Bradford, who is also heading into free agency this offseason. Teddy Bridgewater will likely remain in Minnesota, but his role is unclear after suffering a severe injury over a year ago. The Vikings will also entertain guys like A.J. McCarron and Kirk Cousins.

This past season, Keenum made 14 starts, and completed 67.6% of his passes for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

Vikings will reportedly 'consider' A.J. McCarron in free agency

The Minnesota Vikings will reportedly 'consider' free agent quarterback A.J. McCarron as an option in free agency.

What It Means:

McCarron won his grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals and was granted free agency. It's unlikely that he's the team's top option. Kirk Cousins is still out there, and the team could certainly look to bring back Case Keenum. McCarron is expected to get up to $10 million a year on the market.

Last season, McCarron appeared in 3 games, throwing for 66 yards and 0 touchdowns on 14 attempts.

Patriots' Rob Gronkowski started thinking about retirement prior to playoffs

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been considering retirement "long before" this season's Super Bowl loss and recent concussion, according to Jeff Darlington of ESPN.

What It Means:

Some speculate that Gronkowski's retirement rumors are simply a tactic to sign a more lucrative contract, and it's hard to picture him walking away from the game entering his age-29 season. Still, his body has taken a lot of punishment throughout his career, and Gronkowki has indicated in the past that he doesn't spend his NFL earnings. The WWE is reportedly prepared to offer Gronkowski a contract if he were to retire from the NFL.

Gronkowski caught 8 touchdowns for 1084 yards across 14 games this season.


A.J. McCarron believed to be Browns' top option among free agent quarterbacks

ESPN reporter Pat McManamon believes quarterback A.J. McCarron has taken over the Cleveland Browns' top options in free agency.

What It Means:

McCarron won his grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals, and was officially named a free agent on Thursday. He was nearly traded to the Browns this past season, and he has voiced his desire to play there. While Kirk Cousins is certainly an option, he would undoubtedly come at a higher cost. McCarron made just $735,000 in the final year of his rookie deal this past season.

Through 3 starts and 11 career appearances, McCarron has completed 64.7% of his passes for 920 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Source: ESPN

A.J. McCarron wins grievance against Bengals, becomes free agent

A.J. McCarron has won his grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals and the quarterback is now an unrestricted free agent.

What It Means:

During McCarron's rookie year, the Bengals placed him on the non-football injury list for a shoulder injury they felt he suffered while away from the team. Therefore, he didn't accrue a season toward free agency and was considered a restricted free agent. McCarron argued the injury was wrongly listed as non-football and an independent arbitrator has now agreed, with the 27-year-old quarterback earning unrestricted free agency as a result. Despite attempting just 133 passes in his career, McCarron is expected to get some looks as a potential starter this offseason. The Bengals will now need to find a new backup for Andy Dalton.

On a career-high 131 drop backs in 2015, McCarron posted 0.14 Passing Net Expected Points per drop back, the 12th-best mark among the 46 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs that year. He completed 66.4 percent of his 119 pass attempts for 854 yards while throwing 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Sebastian Janikowski wants to continue playing

Free agent kicker Sebastian Janikowski plans to continue his career, reports Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

What It Means:

"He plans on getting another job," agent Paul Healy told Gehlken. "Unfortunately, he had this back issue. He’s healthy now, and he’s ready to go." The injury that Healy referenced sidelined Janikowski for the entire 2017 campaign. Despite that and the fact he turns 40 in March, the veteran kicker will likely get an opportunity with another team this offseason.

In 2016, Janikowski made 29-of-35 field goals (82.9 percent) and 37-of-39 extra points (94.9 percent).

Broncos' Derek Wolfe says neck is 'fixed'

Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe said his neck is "fixed."

What It Means:

"I can turn my head like an owl. It’s crazy. I can look all the way behind me. It’s insane," Wolfe told 9 News. "I feel so much better." The 36-year-old lineman has been dealing with nerve pain in his neck since 2013 and only played 11 games last season before undergoing season-ending surgery, but he claims the procedure completely fixed the issue. It sounds like Wolfe may be ready for training camp.

Wolfe recorded 31 tackles (18 solo) with 2 sacks last season before landing on injured reserve.

Source: 9 News

Larry Fitzgerald tells Cardinals he will return next season

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald told new head coach Steve Wilks he will return for the 2018 season.

What It Means:

"Larry mentioned to me last night that he's coming back for the 2018 season," Wilks said on the Doug and Wolf Show. "He's totally committed, those are his words." Fitzgerald turns 35 in August and next season will be his 15th in the NFL. Despite his elder statesmanship, the veteran wideout finished 2nd in the league last season with 109 catches. It's worth mentioning that the Cardinals still need to find a quarterback, but Fitzgerald has proven he can remain effective regardless of who is throwing the football.

Fitzgerald averaged 12.9 FanDuel points per game this season, with 109 receptions for 1,156 yards and 6 touchdowns on 161 targets.

Sebastian Janikowski reportedly won't be brought back by Raiders

The Oakland Raiders told free agent kicker Sebastian Janikowski that they won't bring him back next season, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter.

What It Means:

Janikowski missed last season for the first time in his career since being drafted by the Raiders in the first round back in 2000. They will move forward with Giorgio Tavecchio. Despite turning 40 next month, Janikowski will likely get a chance with another team if he wants to continue playing.

In 2016, Janikowski made 29-of-35 field goals (82.9 percent) and 37-of-39 extra points (94.9 percent).

Chiefs will let Derrick Johnson become free agent

The Kansas City Chiefs will not re-sign inside linebacker Derrick Johnson when the new league year begins.

What It Means:

Johnson's contract will void at the beginning of the new year, which means he'll become a free agent at the age of 35. He has played all 13 of his seasons in Kansas City and started 15-of-16 games in 2017. He'll be looking for a part-time role elsewhere this offseason.

In 15 games, Johnson produced 48 tackles, 7 passes defensed and 1 forced fumble this season.


Panthers' Luke Kuechly underwent shoulder surgery after season

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly underwent surgery on his right shoulder after the season.

What It Means:

This explains why Kuechly was absent from last month's Pro Bowl. We tentatively expect him to be ready for training camp this offseason.

Kuechly recorded 125 tackles (74 solo) with 2 sacks, 3 interceptions, 5 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, and 1 touchdown in 15 games last season.

Texans' C.J. Fiedorowicz mulling retirement

Houston Texans tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (concussions) revealed he is considering retirement.

What It Means:

Fiedorowicz has suffered four concussions since December 2016. The 26-year-old tight end says he plans on reporting for the Texans' offseason program and OTAs.

Fiedorowicz averaged 3.9 FanDuel points in five games last season, with 14 catches (22 targets) for 127 scoreless yards.

49ers' Reuben Foster arrested again for domestic violence, possessing assault rifle

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster was arrested Sunday morning in Santa Clara, California on charges "related to domestic violence," and for possessing an assault rifle.

What It Means:

This is Foster's second arrest in the past month, as he was popped for marijuana possession in Alabama on January 12. It's a concerning trend for the 2017 first-round pick, who also failed a drug test at the NFL Combine and was then kicked out of the event after an altercation with a hospital employee. After a promising rookie campaign, Foster will likely be hit with a lengthy suspension following this latest incident.

Foster recorded 72 tackles (59 solo) and 1 pass deflection in 10 games as a rookie for the 49ers.

Colts hire Eagles' OC Frank Reich to be the team's new head coach

The Indianapolis Colts have reportedly hired Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator Frank Reich as their next head coach, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.

What It Means:

Reich emerged as the early favorite after Josh McDaniels stunning reversal last week. They and coach have reportedly agreed on a five-year deal that is in the process of being finalized. Riech led the Eagles' offense to a remarkable turnaround, finishing third in points (28.6) and seventh in total yards (365.8) per game in 2017.

The Colts' offense struggled without Andrew Luck, finishing 30th in points (16.4) and 31st in yards (284.6) per game last season.

Patriots' Martellus Bennett a candidate for release

New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett is a candidate for release, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.

What It Means:

Bennett joined the Patriots after being waived by the Green Bay Packers midseason. However, he was limited to just two games before being placed on injured reserve with hamstring and shoulder injuries. The 30-year-old is under team control until next season, when he's due $6.5 million. He may be asked to take a pay cut. Otherwise, the Pats could save $6.2 million by releasing Bennett. Dwayne Allen would be a candidate for more snaps in his stead.

In 9 games across the Packers and Patriots, Bennett produced just 30 catches and 286 yards on 44 targets this season.

'Early vibe' is that Dion Lewis won't return to Patriots

The Boston Herald's Jeff Howe reports the "early vibe" is that running back Dion Lewis won't return to the New England Patriots in 2018.

What It Means:

Lewis is a free agent, and is in search of a three-year deal worth around $15-18 million and $10 million in guaranteed money. Given that, he's unlikely to return to New England. James White would see a boost if he heads elsewhere, as Rex Burkhead's also a free agent heading into the offseason.

In 2017, Lewis led the Patriots with 896 rushing yards and 6 scores on 180 carries. He added another 214 yards and 3 touchdowns on 32 catches in the Patriots' passing game.

Derrick Johnson expected to be released by Kansas City

ESPN's Adam Teicher expects the Kansas City Chiefs to release inside linebacker Derrick Johnson this offseason.

What It Means:

Both Johnson and Hali are expected to get the boot at some point. The veterans have shared the field in K.C. since 2006. At 35, Johnson received some pretty high grades from Pro Football Focus, but the Chiefs are looking to make some changes, and that includes moving Reggie Ragland to the inside spot. Letting Johnson walk would save the Chiefs $8.1 million against the cap.

In 15 starts, Johnson made 48 tackles with 7 passes defensed and a forced fumble this season.

Source: ESPN

Chiefs expected to release Tamba Hali

ESPN's Adam Teicher expects the Kansas City Chiefs to release outside linebacker Tamba Hali.

What It Means:

Dealing with a knee injury, Hali missed most of the 2017 season. At 34, he appears to be on the decline, and the Chiefs have to get snaps for guys like Dee Ford and Frank Zombo. The Chiefs would clear $7.6 million in cap space if they release the 5-time Pro Bowler.

In 5 games, Hali managed just a single tackle this season. He has 4 sacks in his last 2 seasons, after having 7 straight years of 6 or more.

Source: ESPN

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