NFL News & Analysis

NFL Training Camp Roundup: Dallas Cowboys in no rush to add a veteran WR, San Francisco 49ers WR Deebo Samuel still taking backfield reps and more

Arlington, Texas, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs with the ball against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

PFF's Ari Meirov recaps some of the top stories from the second full week of NFL training camp.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS QB TOM BRADY RETURNS TO PRACTICE AFTER DEALING WITH PERSONAL MATTER

  • Brady hadn’t practiced since news broke Tuesday just before noon ET that the Miami Dolphins would be punished for tampering with the legendary quarterback over the course of three seasons.
  • Brady was excused from practice Friday to tend to a personal matter. The Buccaneers didn’t practice on Thursday. Brady had a veteran day off on Wednesday. The Bucs practiced before news broke of the discipline on Tuesday.
  • Brady has yet to address reporters since the Dolphins were docked a 2023 first-round pick, 2024 third-round pick and a combined $2 million in fines split between owner Stephen Ross and executive Bruce Beal for impermissible contact with Brady – while a member of the Buccaneers and New England Patriots – and then-New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. Ross is also suspended through Oct. 17.
  • Players are not disciplined for being tampered with, so don’t expect a suspension or fine for Brady in the matter.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS WR MIKE EVANS “DAY TO DAY” WITH HAMSTRING INJURY

  • Evans left practice early Friday with a minor hamstring injury. Head coach Todd Bowles said Saturday that Evans is “day to day” with the ailment.
  • Fellow Bucs WR Chris Godwin, who tore his ACL in Week 15 last season, practiced for the first time this summer Friday. He was back on the field for Saturday’s session.
  • The Bucs also have Julio Jones, Russell Gage, Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller, among others, on their wide receiver depth chart, so they’re well stocked at the position while Evans is out and Godwin continues his rehab.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS HC PETE CARROLL EXPLAINS WHY GENO SMITH IS AHEAD OF DREW LOCK ON QB DEPTH CHART

  • Smith continues to take the bulk of first-team reps in Seahawks training camp because, “He's just doing things right.” Lock did take some top reps in Friday’s practice, per reporters on the scene.
  • The Seahawks will hold a mock game Saturday at Lumen Field in what “will be a really big day” in the QB positional battle, according to Carroll.
  • The Seahawks traded away Russell Wilson and a fourth-round pick to the Denver Broncos this offseason for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, Lock, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and tight end Noah Fant. Seattle didn’t make any other moves at QB this offseason to replace Wilson.
  • Smith, 31, earned a 73.9 PFF grade in 112 dropbacks last season while backing up Wilson. Lock, 25, posted a 60.0 PFF grade in 127 dropbacks last season while backing up Teddy Bridgewater.

CHICAGO BEARS OT TEVEN JENKINS RETURNS TO PRACTICE

  • Jenkins, the Bears’ 39th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, hadn’t practiced since Day 1 of training camp due to an undisclosed injury.
  • It was reported Monday by NFL Media that the Bears “have received calls and have held trade talks centered around” Jenkins. A source close to Jenkins told PFF shortly after that report that they didn’t expect an imminent trade. Five days have now passed since that initial report.
  • Jenkins is also expected to speak to the media on Saturday. His return to practice was in full pads.
  • Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Friday that he doesn’t believe the team is close to finding their starting offensive line.

CLEVELAND BROWNS WR DAVID BELL ACTIVATED OFF OF THE PUP LIST

  • Bell was activated off of the physically unable to perform list after dealing with a foot injury.
  • PFF reported this week that Bell was dealing with a minor injury and that he was expected to be activated off of the PUP list prior to Week 1.
  • Bell, the 99th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, was a standout this spring for the Browns. He could take on a big role this season as he competes with Anthony Schwartz and Jakeem Grant for snaps next to Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
  • Bell earned an 87.5 PFF grade last season, ranking 13th among 361 qualified wide receivers in the FBS.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin takes part in practice for the first time since his injury

  • It’s another big step forward for Godwin, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 15 of last season.
  • The Bucs did not place Godwin on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list at the beginning of camp, signaling they had confidence that he would be able to get back on the practice field.
  • This still does not mean Godwin is guaranteed to be on the field come Week 1. The team still plans to take a cautious approach and will not rush him.
  • Godwin is coming off a season in which he tallied a career-high 98 receptions for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns. He earned an 81.3 PFF grade. 
  • Tampa rewarded him with a three-year, $60 million deal earlier this offseason.

Las Vegas Raiders HC Josh McDaniels on RB Josh Jacobs: It’s good for backs to play in preseason.

  • Jacobs started and played multiple series, rushing five times for 30 yards while adding two receptions for 14 yards. It was one of the biggest surprises from Thursday night’s Hall of Fame Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars
  • “I always think it's good for backs to carry the ball in the preseason,” McDaniels said after Thursday's game. “There's a lot of things that happen when you're getting tackled and hit that you can't simulate in practice. I think all our guys had the ball tonight. I think all our guys either caught it or were handed the ball and had to get tackled. We can't really simulate that or rep that in practice.”
  • The Raiders, under new general manager Dave Ziegler, declined Jacobs’ fifth-year option this offseason, meaning he’s now scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
  • The Raiders did add some new running backs this offseason, signing veterans Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah in free agency and also using a fourth-round pick on Georgia running back Zamir White. Veteran running back Kenyan Drake is also on the roster.

San Francisco 49ers WR Deebo Samuel still taking backfield reps in camp

  • Samuel just re-signed on a three-year, $71.5 million deal after a drama-filled offseason. One of the rumors that came out earlier in the offseason when he requested a trade was that he didn’t like being used as a “wide-back.”
  • Samuel refuted that earlier this week, telling reporters: “That’s false. There’s a lot of things that came out that I wanted to speak on, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t allowed to.”
  • Samuel was seen taking backfield reps today, and in fact, his new contract has $650,000 in annual incentives based solely on rushing yards or touchdowns.

NFLPA officially files reply brief to NFL's appeal of Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson

  • Today was the deadline for the union to file a reply to the league’s appeal of a six-game suspension.
  • Roger Goodell’s designee, Peter Harvey, now has all of the information at his disposal to write his ruling on the appeal.
  • The appeal will be based on a “review of the existing record,” meaning no new evidence or testimony will be permitted. The findings must be based on Judge Sue L. Robinson’s 15-page report and nothing else.
  • The policy calls for an expedited decision on appeal, so Harvey’s ruling should come in the near future.

San Francisco 49ers sign WR Willie Snead IV


Pittsburgh Steelers sign WR Diontae Johnson to extension

  • It’s a two-year, $36.71 million extension that includes $27 million in total guarantees.
  • Both sides appeared to be far apart in negotiations early in the process, so they settled on a shorter-term deal with a lower average annual avenue. This gives Johnson some immediate financial security and the ability to get back to the negotiating table by 2024 while Pittsburgh gets a Johnson at a lower rate than some other top receivers signed for this offseason.
  • A third-round pick in 2019, Johnson recorded career-highs in targets (161), catches (107), yards (1,161) and touchdowns (8) last season. He earned a 74.6 receiving grade, also a career-high.

Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford dealing with “bad” elbow tendinitis

  • Stafford has been dealing with “elbow discomfort” in his throwing arm and did not participate in the team’s offseason workout programs. He eventually needed an anti-inflammatory injection, and the team plans to slowly ease him back in.
  • “Don’t expect him to do anything in these team settings for this block or the next three days, next week,” head coach Sean McVay said. “Nothing has changed. Consistent with what I had told you guys last week. This is part of the plan that we feel is in his best interest. … That’s the plan we think is best right now.”
  • Stafford isn’t being completely shut down, which is obviously a positive. Nonetheless, the situation bears watching as the season gets closer. Stafford has dealt with an array of injuries throughout his career, but he usually guts it out and plays through the pain.
  • The Rams extended him on a four-year, $160 million extension this offseason after he led them to a Super Bowl victory in 2021.

NFL appoints former NJ Attorney General Peter Harvey to hear Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson‘s appeal

  • Under the collective bargaining agreement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had the option to hear the appeal himself, but he opted to go with a designee.
  • The NFL is seeking a harsher penalty than six games, and the expectation is they’ll appeal for a one-year suspension along with a fine and/or treatment. 
  • The appeal will be processed on an expedited basis and will be based on a “review of the existing record,” meaning no new evidence or testimony will be permitted. The findings must be based on Judge Sue L. Robinson’s 15-page report and nothing else.
  • Harvey has a strong relationship with the NFL and has also served as Goodell's designee in other arbitrations. Also, it’s important to note that he is not jointly hired by the NFL and NFLPA, as Judge Robinson was. So there’s a strong chance Harvey will likely side with the league. 
  • The NFLPA would likely sue and try to take this to federal court if there is an increase in suspension. The possibility of both sides reaching a settlement agreement and avoiding a dragged-out process is also still a possibility.

Arizona Cardinals activate Maxx Williams from PUP list

  • Williams recorded 16 catches for 193 yards and a touchdown in five games last season before going down with a torn ACL. He earned a 77.9 PFF grade and a 77.6 receiving grade.
  • He re-signed with the team this offseason on a one-year contract.
  • Williams has excelled in run-blocking. His 83.8 PFF run-blocking grade since joining the Cardinals in 2019 ranks first among all tight ends.
  • The Cardinals re-signed Zach Ertz to a three-year, $31.6 million contract this offseason and also used a second-round pick on Colorado State tight end Trey McBride.

New Orleans Saints sign LB Kiko Alonso

  • Alonso was one of several veteran linebackers to work out for New Orleans today, including Anthony Hitchens and Jon Bostic.
  • He last played in 2019 with the Saints and earned a 70.0 PFF grade. He appeared in 13 games that season, so he has some familiarity with Dennis Allen, who was the defensive coordinator at the time and is now the team’s head coach.

NFL Appeals Deshaun Watson’s Six-Game Suspension

  • The NFL decided six games for Watson was not enough, and they’re now appealing disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson’s decision.
  • The appeal will be heard by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee, and the NFL is expected to appeal for an indefinite suspension. The league could also seek a fine and/or player treatment.
  • The NFLPA would then be allowed to respond and potentially sue the league and take the matter to court. 
  • One other possibility is the NFL and NFLPA could look to have settlement talks to avoid things dragging out. Before the six-game suspension was announced, the NFL offered to suspend Watson for 12 weeks along with a $10 million fine. The NFLPA rejected that.

Cowboys sign LB Anthony Barr

  • It’s a one-year, $3 million deal for Barr in Dallas.
  • Barr spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Vikings after being drafted ninth overall in 2014. 
  • He finished last season with a respectable 63.8 overall grade and a 72.6 pass-rush grade.
  • The team wanted to add veteran insurance alongside Leighton Vander Esch, especially considering how the Cowboys split Micah Parsons’ playing time between linebacker and edge rusher in 2021.

Cardinals sign LT D.J. Humphries To Three-Year Extension

  • Humphries was entering the final year of his deal and is now under contract through 2025. It’s a three-year, $66.8 million extension, though the full structure of the deal is currently unknown.
  • A first-round pick in 2015, Humphries has started 75 games for Arizona and was voted to his first Pro Bowl last season.
  • He finished 2021 with a 67.8 PFF grade, along with a 70.9 run-blocking grade and a 65.5 pass-blocking grade.
  • He has never graded under 64.5, and his best season came in 2020 when he earned an 88.3 PFF grade.

CB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson looking for extension from Saints

  • GardnerJohnson is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is scheduled to make $2.54 million in 2022.
  • Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football reported that Gardner-Johnson has limited his participation in camp, so he’s essentially a hold-in.
  • A fourth-round pick in 2019, Johnson is known by most for his trash-talking and ability to get in opponents' heads, but he’s also turned into one of the better slot cornerbacks in the league.
  • He earned a respectable 69.1 coverage grade in 2021, which puts him in the upper half of starting slot cornerbacks, and he’s also made more plays on the ball in the slot than anyone since entering the league in 2018 (24).

S Tyrann Mathieu reports to Saints training camp

  • Mathieu was away for the first eight days of camp due to a personal family matter.
  • He signed with his hometown Saints this offseason on a three-year, $28.3 million contract.
  • Mathieu will team up in the secondary with another free agent addition in Marcus Maye
  • Mathieu has shown incredible versatility over the past few years, playing over 600 snaps in deep, box and slot alignments in every season since 2019. He’s also consistently been on the field, averaging over 1,000 snaps per season since 2017.
  • He finished 2021 with a 67.3 PFF grade and a 76.4 coverage grade.

Dolphins docked 1st- and 3rd- round picks for tampering with Sean Payton, Tom Brady

  • The NFL ruled that the Dolphins had “impermissible communications” with Tom Brady in 2019-20 while he was under contract with the New England Patriots, and then again during and after the 2021 season while he was under contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • The league also ruled that the Dolphins had impermissible communications with Don Yee, the agent for Saints head coach Sean Payton, about having Payton serve as Miami's head coach.
  • Miami owned two first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, their own and the other via the San Francisco 49ers from the Trey Lance trade. Their own is the pick being docked.
  • Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross was also suspended through Oct. 17 and fined $1.5 million, while vice chairman/limited partner Bruce Beal also was fined $500,000 and ordered not to attend any league meetings for the remainder of the 2022 season.

Broncos WR Tim Patrick suffers torn ACL, out for 2022 season

  • Patrick went down with a non-contact injury and had to be carted off the field. An MRI confirmed the Broncos' fears of a torn ACL.
  • Patrick started 16 games last season and tallied 53 receptions, 734 yards and five touchdowns. He earned a 71.2 PFF grade.
  • He signed a three-year contract extension worth up to $34.5 million with $18.5 million guaranteed last November.
  • This is now the third straight season that a Broncos receiver has gone down with a torn ACL. It happened to Courtland Sutton in 2020 and to KJ Hamler last season.

Saints sign TE Chris Herndon

  • Herndon spent last season with the Vikings after being acquired for a fourth-round pick from the New York Jets.
  • He appeared in 16 games but had only four receptions for 40 yards and one touchdown. He earned a 52.6 PFF grade, the lowest mark of his career.
  • His most productive season was his rookie year in 2018 when he earned a 74.8 PFF grade and recorded 39 receptions for 502 yards and four touchdowns.
  • He’ll join a tight end room led by Nick Vannett, Adam Trautman and Taysom Hill.

S Jordan Poyer to miss some time with an elbow injury

  • Poyer suffered a hyperextended elbow and will be sidelined for the rest of camp. The team expects him to be ready for Week 1 vs. the Los Angeles Rams.
  • Poyer was voted a first-team All-Pro last season and graded out very well — a 78.2 overall grade and an 89.2 coverage grade.
  • The 31-year-old has also wanted a new contract from the Bills and recently switched agents to Drew Rosenhaus. He’s entering the final year of his deal and is scheduled to make $6.7 million.

Vikings TE Irv Smith to miss time with thumb injury

  • Head coach Kevin O’Connell said Smith underwent surgery on his thumb and will likely miss the rest of camp. The team is not ruling him out for the start of the season.
  • Smith missed all of last season with a torn meniscus suffered in camp.
  • The former second-round pick out of Alabama has 66 catches for 676 yards and six touchdowns over his first two NFL seasons and finished 2020 with a 70.0 PFF grade.

Jerry Jones: “There's no urgency to get a veteran receiver”

  • The Cowboys already moved on from Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson this offseason and just lost receiver James Washington for the next two months after he suffered a fractured foot in Monday’s practice.
  • They’re also going to be without receiver Michael Gallup for the start of the season as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered late last season.
  • Third-round rookie Jalen Tolbert is currently the next man up for Dallas behind CeeDee Lamb.

Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson suspended for six games

  • The ruling was made by retired federal judge Sue L. Robinson, who was jointly approved by the NFL and NFLPA. No fine was issued as part of Robinson’s ruling.
  • This ruling is not necessarily final. The NFL and the NFLPA have appeal power and Roger Goodell (or his designee) would be the appeals officer.
  • The NFLPA said on Sunday Night they won’t appeal the ruling. The NFL will have until 9 a.m. EST on Thursday to decide if it wants to appeal. The NFL argued to  Sue L. Robinson that Watson should be suspended for a full season. Robinson’s ruling falls considerably below that.
  • If the NFL were to appeal and add games, the NFLPA could then look to sue the league in court. In that scenario, this situation would likely stretch into the season (like it did with Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott, which would allow Watson to start the season on the field. The NFL would have the Watson situation overshadowing kickoff week and beyond – which is something it likely doesn’t want.
  • The Browns play the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots in their first six games of the season. Jacoby Brissett would be the Browns' starting quarterback if Watson is indeed out. 

Dallas Cowboys WR James Washington suffers potentially serious foot injury

  • Washington had to be carted off the field and the team fears he suffered a Jones fracture, according to ESPN. Owner Jerry Jones told reporters after practice that the team is “concerned” with the injury.
  • Washington signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys this offseason after four years in Pittsburgh.
  • Dallas traded away Amari Cooper and lost Cedrick Wilson in free agency this offseason, so Washington had a great opportunity for early-season playing time across from CeeDee Lamb. Michael Gallup is also recovering from a torn ACL and said last week he won’t be ready for the start of the regular season.
  • In four years with the Steelers, Washington played in 60 regular season games and caught 114 passes for 1,629 yards and 11 touchdowns. His best season came in 2019 when he earned a 69.3 PFF grade.

Pittsburgh Steelers sign K Chris Boswell to extension

  • It’s a four-year, $20 million extension that includes $12.5 million in guarantees.
  • The deal matches Justin Tucker‘s contract for the highest average annual salary among kickers.
  • Boswell has made 182 of 206 field goal attempts (88.3%) and 231 of 245 extra points (94.3%) since signing with the Steelers as a free agent in 2015.

Los Angeles Rams WR Van Jefferson to undergo knee surgery

  • Head coach Sean McVay called it a “minor cleanup,” but Jefferson will be sidelined for a few weeks, and his Week 1 status is currently up in the air.
  • The third-year receiver took a step forward statistically in 2021, totaling 50 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns last season compared to 19 receptions for 220 yards and one touchdown as a rookie in 2020. He earned a 61.6 receiving grade.
  • The Rams made some moves with their wide receiver room this offseason, trading away Robert Woods and signing Allen Robinson. They still have interest in bringing back Odell Beckham Jr., who is recovering from a torn ACL.

Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray tests positive for COVID

  • According to the team, Murray has “mild symptoms.”
  • There are no longer any COVID protocols or COVID lists in the NFL, so Murray had to self-report his positive test.
  • Moving forward, anyone who tests positive must isolate for at least five days.
  • Murray has been through a lot over the last week, signing a mega $230.5 million extension but getting some heat after the team included a controversial “independent study” clause as part of the deal. The clause was removed a couple of days later.

Chicago Bears have had trade talks involving OT Teven Jenkins

  • The Bears traded up to select Jenkins 39th overall in last year’s draft, but that was done under an old regime led by general manager Ryan Pace.
  • Jenkins missed a large portion of last season after undergoing back surgery during training camp, but he returned to start a couple of games. Overall, he earned a 47.5 overall grade.
  • It’s worth noting that Jenkins has missed three straight practices since the start of training camp last week and head coach Matt Eberflus said he’s “working through something.”
  • Back in the spring, 2022 fifth-round pick Braxton Jones was playing ahead of Jenkins. The Bears also recently signed veteran OT Riley Reiff
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