Shutdown Corner

  • Cowboys cannot use the franchise tag on Tony Romo in 2014

    Tony Romo cannot be franchised in 2014 (USA Today Sports Images)

    As the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo continue to work towards a contract extension, the veteran quarterback has some additional leverage as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that the Cowboys are prohibited from using the franchise tag on Romo next offseason.

    Of course, the Cowboys probably would not use the tag on Romo next offseason, even if they possessed the ability to do so, as the cost, in both base salary and cap space, would be too great.

    [Report: Packers, Aaron Rodgers nearing long-term extension]

    Thanks to previous renegotiations and restructures, Romo has a cap number of $16,818,835 for the 2013 season. That's the largest on the Cowboys, representing 14 percent of the team's "Adjusted Cap Number" of $119,999,156 for this season. If the Cowboys are unable to reach an extension with Romo, and hypothetically could use even the "non-exclusive" franchise tag on him next offseason, Romo's franchise tag would be worth 120 percent his 2013 cap number, or $20,182,602, an amount that would be fully guaranteed once the turning 33-year-old quarterback (who was intercepted 19 times last season) signed the tender.

    Read More »from Cowboys cannot use the franchise tag on Tony Romo in 2014
  • Mark Sanchez is being tutored by Jeff Garcia (Getty Images)

    As New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez gets set to play in the West Coast offense under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, the 2009 first-round pick out of USC is being tutored by former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia, reports Jim Corbett of the USA Today.

    [Report: Packers, Aaron Rodgers nearing long-term extension]

    Garcia played in West Coast offenses throughout his career, which began with the San Francisco 49ers in 1999. As Corbett noted, the first NFL coach to spot Garcia was Bill Walsh, the father of the West Coast offense. Mornhinweg was the 49ers' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when Garcia entered the NFL and their paths would cross again in the 2006 and 2009 seasons when Mornhinweg was the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, a post he held until after the 2012 season.

    Sanchez will be working with a third offensive coordinator in as many seasons (Brian Schottenheimer from 2009-11, Tony Sparano in 2012). With the new collective bargaining agreement scaling back the amount of time players and coaches and can work in the offseason, working with Garcia now can help prepare Sanchez for the OTAs and mini-camps as he enters his fifth, and perhaps most critical, season in the NFL.

    "Marty and I communicated a few weeks ago (about) what he'd like to introduce to Mark,'' Garcia said. "Mark is definitely getting more comfortable speaking the West Coast terminology. He had a brief glimpse of the West Coast system at USC.

    "The toughest thing is this will be Mark's third offensive coordinator in six seasons. The guy has had to learn a new system just about every other year. From a consistency standpoint, that just doesn't translate to success in the NFL. You really need to be secure in what you're doing mentally in order to compete at the highest level.''

    Read More »from Former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia is tutoring Mark Sanchez, JaMarcus Russell
  • Report: Packers, Aaron Rodgers nearing long-term extension

    Aaron Rodgers is set to become the NFL's highest-paid player (USA Today Sports Images)

    The Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers are closing in on an extension that will make the 2005 first-round pick out of Cal the highest-paid player in the history of the National Football League, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

    That distinction currently belongs to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who parlayed his outstanding playoff performance in leading the Ravens to a win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII and his impending status as an unrestricted free agent this offseason into a six-year, $120.6 million contract, a $20.1 million APY (Average Per Year) that nudged him past the $20 million per year average that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees received in his extension last July.

    [Also: Matt Barkley looks like the Matt Barkley of old at pro day]

    Brees' extension, which was negotiated off a $16.371 million franchise tag, nudged him past the $19.2 million average that Peyton Manning received in a five-year, $96 million contract from the Denver Broncos last March.

    According to Schefter, "league-wide speculation" has a Rodgers extension obliterating the field with a possible APY of $25 million per season, a substantial increase over the $12.7 million APY Rodgers received in his current contract. Rodgers' signed his current deal - worth a total of $65 million over seven seasons (2008-14) and $63.5 million in "new money" over five new seasons - midway through his first season as the Packers' starting quarterback. That deal included $20 million in guaranteed money, a figure Rodgers will likely more than triple in a new extension.

    Read More »from Report: Packers, Aaron Rodgers nearing long-term extension
  • Cosell’s Take: The quarterback paradigm

    Quarterback evaluation can be a frustrating process at times. (AP)

    Quarterback evaluation is a fascinating process. One can easily make the argument that the process of studying and analyzing college quarterbacks says more about the person doing the evaluating than it does about the quarterbacks themselves. Bill Walsh told me years ago that when he received a quarterback breakdown from a scout or a coach on his staff, the first thing he did was to consider the evaluator. Walsh first wanted to understand the method and manner by which the individual went about the evaluation, and what that person looked for as he transitioned the player from the college game to the more rigorous NFL game.

    It’s a captivating point, one that I’ve never forgotten. It was the starting point as I began my own process of evaluating quarterbacks. Using the NFL as my foundation, since the objective is to project college quarterbacks to Sunday football, I began to develop a template by which to assess what it takes to play the position well at the NFL level. I continually noticed specific attributes and traits that were clearly demanded to perform consistently well. These characteristics were tangible, identifiable and quantifiable. Different quarterbacks possessed them in distinctive and varying degrees, but at some level, they were necessary to have.

    [Podcast: Cosell evaluates the 2013 draft class QBs]

    You study enough film in fine detail, you learn to distill the subtle nuances of quarterback play. Think about it this way: what makes a quarterback good, or great in the NFL? He must be able to do certain things. And those things are all manifested in physical ways that are evident from comprehensive analysis. It’s all there on the tape. Even though we frequently focus on what we perceive to be intangibles, which by their very nature are indefinable, the reality is you have to make throws, often in difficult situations against challenging defenses. You need definitive traits to do that.

    First and foremost, a quarterback must be able throw with accuracy -- or, as I’ve always believed to be the more descriptive term, precise ball location. If you can’t do that, you have no chance to be a quality NFL quarterback. You can see that on film. It’s measurable. The more I watched Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib as his senior year progressed, the more it was evident that ball location was a positive as he transitions to the NFL. One further point: receiver run-after-catch is almost always a function of the quarterback’s ball placement.

    Again, think about the NFL. How many times do you see the top quarterbacks make decisive throws in critical situations with the pocket collapsing and with bodies around them? You must be able to stand and deliver in a muddied pocket. That’s an absolutely necessary attribute. That’s why size is a trait, although it’s never talked about that way. Taller, stronger quarterbacks can respond to the pocket closing down far better than shorter, lighter quarterbacks. Visualize Ben Roethlisberger or Andrew Luck. Both are big, physical men who can wait in the pocket as long as it takes to make a throw.

    We know, of course, that size by itself does not automatically correlate to success. Tyler Bray of Tennessee is 6-foot-6 and 232 pounds, yet he reacted poorly when the pocket was squeezed. His mechanics broke down, he rushed his movements, and he had a tendency to fall away from his throws. All this negated his big arm, the strongest in this draft class. Bray is what I call a functional space passer. He needs room to step and throw. His inability to react well to pressure, in addition to his scattershot accuracy, were clear red flags as you project him to the NFL.

    Read More »from Cosell’s Take: The quarterback paradigm
  • Apparently, some people were not impressed at the methods by which Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o shaved a tenth of a second off his 40-yard dash time from the scouting combine to his pro day a month later. The 4.71 40-yard dash he burned at the Fighting Irish's indoor facility on Tuesday, Te'o said, was just a function of getting out of his own way after more distractions than most people have to deal with.

    "Don't think -- you've been doing it your whole life. Just go out there and run," Te'o told the NFL Network in an interview that was replayed on the network's "NFL AM" program on Wednesday morning. "We tend to think too much, and psyche ourselves out, thinking that bad things will happen. I just went out there and said, 'Hey -- just run. Run as fast as you can. Whatever the time says, that's what it says.'"

    Former NFL offensive lineman Jamie Dukes, who now functions as the NFL Network's prerequisite Guy Who Yells A Lot About Nothing Important (every sports morning show has to have at least one, you see), had a different theory. After contributing his own rather stale efforts at the same kind of catfishing jokes everyone else has already gone with, Dukes went down a stranger path with the whole thing.

    "Here's the deal," Dukes said, while comparative pictures of Te'o at the combine and his pro day were shown on the screen. "Since nobody else will say this, I'm just gonna show you this. I don't know who the guy was at the combine -- the pudgy body/soft body guy who couldn't run. All of a sudden, I see this yoked-up behemoth of a guy. Nobody's gonna say anything, and I'm not accusing anybody, but we just had a huge HGH conversation ... I'm not saying he's on anything. I'm not saying, I'm just saying. I think somebody saw what I saw, and that didn't look right. That just didn't look right to me. I just want to be on record as saying -- it's a little off."

    The "I'm not saying, I'm just saying" gambit is, of course, an interesting example of conversational cowardice. One can put one's accusations out there in a public forum without appearing to take any actual responsibility for one's statements. Dukes presented no actual evidence that Te'o was taking performance-enhancing drugs. He cited no sources. He did, however, go on a national television show on the league's own network and insinuate that a high-profile draft prospect was doing something fishy. Of course, if anyone calls him on it, Dukes can say that he was just having a conversation -- it's not his fault if people read it wrong. Even if he went on the record, in his own words.

    But in his own way, and certainly without specific intent, Dukes presented one of the most compelling arguments for the benefit of reliable HGH testing at the NFL level. Such testing would have reduced Dukes' own hyperbole to dust before it even started, and the fact that players can have their names blackened by such nebulous accusations is a problem that needs to be fixed.

    On that same program, Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson talked about where the NFL and NFLPA are with the HGH drama.

    Read More »from Jamie Dukes’ PED snark about Manti Te’o is a compelling case for reliable HGH testing
  • Tyrann Mathieu lines up for drills at LSU's pro day. (AP)

    Wednesday might have been the marquee day among for all the 2013 pro days. USC held its workout on the West Coast, Marcus Lattimore displayed an amazing comeback from a brutal knee injury at South Carolina's exposition, and a bevy of draftable players got it going at LSU's pro day at the school's indoor practice facility. Outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo and inside linebacker Kevin Minter are pretty much locks to go in the first round next month, but the most interest may have been in a player projected by most to be selected in the third round or lower -- a player who didn't even play in 2012.

    Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, kicked off the team before the 2012 season began for multiple violations of team policy, was back on campus and doing defensive back drills for the NFL teams in attendance. This after a performance at the scouting combine in late February that started Mathieu's stock heading back in the right direction.

    It was a reunion that everybody enjoyed - including head coach Les Miles, who had to make that difficult decision last August.

    "I tell them he's a great teammate, a big-time player," Miles said to when asked what he tells NFL teams about his former star. "He will commit to whatever your culture is and doing it your way. He will have a natural intuitive sense for big plays. He'll make somebody's NFL roster a lot better."

    Mathieu has said all the right things. He's gone through rehab, he's hanging out with LSU alums Patrick Peterson and Corey Webster, and he's trying to convince the NFL that he can keep it together after multiple drug-related incidents saw him coming apart.

    "It's extremely exciting," Mathieu said from the scene. "It's humbling too, because of the things I went through the past year. I'm ready for it to be over. I know I made some mistakes. When it comes to football I'm a play-maker and a guy who wants to play hard for the teammates."

    Read More »from Tyrann Mathieu enjoys reunion with teammates at LSU’s pro day
  • Osi Umenyiora agrees to terms with the Atlanta Falcons

    Osi Umenyiora has agreed to terms with the Falcons (USA Today Sports Images)

    Free agent defensive end Osi Umenyiora has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons, Jay Glazer of reported on Wednesday night.

    According to the Adam Schefter of, the base value of Umenyiora's contract is $8.5 million, with $5 million in guaranteed money. Incentives could push the value of the deal to as high as $12 million.

    [Also: Matt Barkley looks like the Matt Barkley of old at pro day]

    The Falcons have been linked to Umenyiora ever since they released John Abraham on March 1.

    Abraham had a team-high 10 of the Falcons' 29 sacks during the 2012 regular season, but turns 35 this offseason and had triggered a $1 milllion escalator that increased his base salary to $4.25 million and his potential cash compensation to $6 million for the 2013 season.

    Read More »from Osi Umenyiora agrees to terms with the Atlanta Falcons
  • Matt Barkley gets ready to let it fly during USC's pro day. (Doug Farrar)

    LOS ANGELES -- While USC quarterback Matt Barkley ran a 40-yard dash and participated in agility drills during the school's Wednesday pro day at Cromwell field, that was about as insignificant as it could be for the NFL teams in attendance. All 32 teams were expected to make an appearance from their coaching and/or scouting staffs, and most certainly did -- there were especially heavy groups from the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets organizations, though a lot of the shot-callers in the league were at LSU's pro day. What those in attendance wanted to see was how well Barkley would throw the ball after a November, 2012 shoulder injury that ended his season, and prevented him from participating in pre-draft processes like the Senior Bowl and scouting combine -- at least, as a pure thrower.

    "It was a great day to come out and just throw the ball around," Barkley said when his performance was done. "It feels good to be back and SC's campus like this -- that was a good day. You always strive to be perfect, especially on a day like this, but I'm pleased with how the guys ran routes, and how the ball came out."

    With performance coach Chris Weinke in tow, Barkley took to the field with his cadre of homegrown receivers at around 1:00 p.m. and proceeded to fling the ball around. He started with quick 10-yard in-seam and out throws to a four-across array of receivers, showing that he could at least get the ball out of his hand with the same velocity he had before. And in that sense, Wednesday was a big win for Barkley -- wherever teams had him graded as far as overall arm strength is about where he is now.

    The bad news, we suppose, would be for anyone expecting his work with Weinke or Dr. James Andrews to provide a new level of sauce on his longer passes. On deeper sideline throws, especially those he threw outside the pocket on designed rollouts, Barkley tended to struggle with the kind of quick and precise timing needed to make those plays happen in game situations. While he can clearly sing the ball with optimal arc to any depth, his receivers (including Robert Woods, who drew a lot of applause from those in attendance) had to come back and otherwise adjust on about half of his long passes. The actual stats -- many would estimate five or six incompletions in a total of 62 throws -- were not as important as the kinds of passes Barkley threw incomplete, and the completions his receivers had to make for him.

    That said, and where Barkley's been undersold to date, is in his control and command of the little things.

    Read More »from Matt Barkley proves he’s back to where he’s been — and no more — during pro day performance
  • Robert Griffin III. (Getty Images)

    Robert Griffin III's knee injuries, suffered in Week 14 and the opening round of the NFC playoffs, sidelined one of the NFL's most electrifying players and raised legitimate concerns that his explosivity might never recover. But last week, Dr. James Andrews proclaimed Griffin 'superhuman' in his recovery, and now Griffin is adding to that by announcing his intentions to be ready for the start of the 2013-14 season.

    "My knee is getting better every day," Griffin said in a text to ESPN's Trey Wingo. "The doctors say I'm ahead of schedule. My goal is to return healthy in Week 1 but if I'm not

    Read More »from Robert Griffin III hopes to be ready for Week 1: ‘I’m ahead of schedule’
  • Jordan Gross will be a free agent in 2014 (USA Today Sports Images)

    Carolina Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross has restructured his contract, freeing up nearly $7 million in cap space while also providing himself with a path to free agency in 2014, Steve Reed of the Associated Press reports (via the Charlotte Observer).

    Gross was originally scheduled to earn $8.7 million in base salary and had an $11.7 million cap number for the 2013 season. According to a source with knowledge of the new contract's details, Gross lowered his base salary to $1 million, which is fully guaranteed, and a $4.5 million signing bonus, of which $3 million will be paid immediately with the remaining $1.5 million deferred until next April.

    Gross had been signed through the 2014 season and his $6.7 million salary was lowered to $1 million. To maximize the proration on Gross' signing bonus, three additional seasons were tacked onto the deal. However, if Gross is on the roster five days after Super Bowl XLVIII, his contract will automatically void, making him an unrestricted free agent once the 2014 league year begins.

    The new deal lowers Gross' cap number this season to $4.9 million, a cap savings of $6.8 million. On the flipside, because Gross' contract will void, he will count $5.6 million against the Panthers' 2014 salary cap.

    Read More »from Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross restructures contract, saves the team $6.8M in cap space