Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago
Every offseason for the next several years, there is a contractual trapdoor under Colin Kaepernick – and perhaps now we know why. Maybe the San Francisco 49ers were always hedging against what is happening now, protecting against a potential unraveling of the star quarterback they leaned upon so heavily.
NFL contracts are cruel that way. They're naked and unemotional. There is a finite bluntness in their raw numbers and guarantees. Sometimes the digits and clauses say things that a coaching staff can't or a front office won't. And looking back at the $126 million extension Kaepernick signed in 2014, it's fair to wonder how certain the franchise was in his development. The 49ers built a whole lot of exits into his deal with very little "real" guaranteed money from one season to the next. Concisely, San Francisco has an opportunity (multiple, actually) to cut the cord with Kaepernick in the coming offseasons. That means if his current decline continues, you have to wonder if the 49ers will take that opportunity sooner rather than later.
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Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago
PITTSBURGH – When the Pittsburgh Steelers' locker room cracked open at midnight on Friday, an ominous serpentine flood of cameras and microphones moved through silence to the corner locker of Josh Scobee. This kind of thing is a rarity in the NFL, when a media swarm bypasses stars and coagulates into a mass around a kicker. It's rarely a good thing, and any ambiguity on this occasion was clarified by several fully uniformed players sinking into folding chairs and staring blankly into space.
"I feel like I let the team down," Scobee said, answering for a pair of missed field goals that resulted in the Steelers heading to overtime, a period that they avoided using the kicker entirely and lost 23-20 to the Baltimore Ravens. "It's not something I want to ever remember doing."
"It's painful tonight, but this game is not going to define us," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. "It's a building block for us as we move forward. There are things to learn from it."
Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago
Even now, Dan Reeves still sees remnants of Michael Vick's college scouting report, from the fire hose arm to the footwork of a gazelle. Yes, 14 years of peaks and valleys have changed the guy Reeves drafted No. 1 overall in 2001. But the natural gifts? They have endured.
"A tremendous amount of talent," Reeves said this week, fresh off a golf course on the outskirts of Atlanta. "That's the reason the Pittsburgh Steelers were interested in him – his talent, but also the experience. The longer you're in the league, you have a better grasp of things."
Maybe that's the key word for Vick at this stage: grasp.
He takes command of the Steelers on Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens, in the saddle of a one-year contract, firmly transitioned into the role of backup quarterback. And that's the distinction about this opportunity versus the past. He's not being looked upon as a savior or an answer. Instead, Vick's only responsibility is to be a dependable stopgap, using the players around him to hold the fort until Ben Roethlisberger's injured knee heals.
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Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago
They are the basic principles of football: Run and block, throw and catch. The NFL has taken this simple foundation and turned part of it into a debate.
Viewers have lost the ability to decipher a catch. They might think they know a catch. Eyes might see a catch. But in truth, they don't know what we're seeing until the NFL tells us. After Sunday, it's hard to reach any other conclusion.
Move over Dez Bryant. Take a back seat, Calvin Johnson. The NFL's most absurd rule has once again made an appearance – and this one might be the worst example yet. If you want another example of the rulebook hurting the on-field product, check out the disallowed Tyler Eifert touchdown in Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.
That's the worst "going to the ground" instance you'll ever see. You can bet officials were thanking the football gods when Cincinnati rallied late to beat the Ravens, rendering the touchdown-that-wasn't an irrelevant moment.
But the video exists, and it's ugly. Even worse than Bryant's overturned catch in last season's playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, albeit without the significant stakes.
Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago
That's where the 2016 salary cap could settle – a $12 million bump over this year. There are some NFL sources who speculate that it could be even higher. You can bet that played at least partially into Chancellor trying to move some money up from the back end of the remaining three years on his contract. It's a sound financial double-dipping goal: move contract money from 2017 into 2016, then hope that 2017 ultimately gets ripped up in favor of a new contract.
While that might upset fans, it's merely a maneuver in a financial system that is fully awash in new television money. And those available salary-cap dollars are only expected to swell going forward: from $123 million in 2013 to $143 million this year, and possibly as high as $155 million in 2016. That's where some league sources believe the cap – the result of a negotiated formula by the NFL and NFL Players Association – could end up next year.
With that in mind, there are three massive stars that could very well end up going the Chancellor route in a few years – looking at their deals and hoping to get them fine-tuned with multiple years left.
Among them …
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago
It was a Sunday snapshot in frustration for the Miami Dolphins: watching a solid, workmanlike defensive tackle pay dividends – plugging, hurrying, sacking, dislodging. Defensive linemen get paid for stuff like this. Miami made Ndamukong Suh richer for stuff like this.
That is why Sunday was so hard. Miami's massive free-agent jewel wasn't doing the damage. Instead, it was his predecessor, Jared Odrick, the defensive tackle whose roster spot became an appetizer gobbled up in Suh's $114 million free-agent contract.
This is why we're here right now, with debates raging about buyer's remorse only two games (seriously, it's two games) into the season. Odrick diced up the Miami Dolphins' interior line with multiple quarterback hurries, a sack and a forced fumble, and Suh was rendered largely ineffective. The Jacksonville Jaguars walked away with a 23-20 upset, and people are looking for someone to blame. And the Miami Herald helped focus that narrative, with a report that Suh is already freelancing inside the defensive scheme.
Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was given some simple math Sunday night, and he swatted at it. There was no place for it near his locker, under his nameplate or in his face. Within that space, statistics and historical record had another name.
He knows it's coming now – a firing squad of graphs, probabilities and data suggesting that an 0-2 start is the equivalent of finding your NFL season in a headlock. The media calls it research. Bennett calls it "the propaganda."
No matter how you want to frame it, it's still a dubious hole: Since playoff expansion in 1990, only 11.7 percent of teams that started the season 0-2 have ended up fighting into the postseason.
"We're a bunch of percentage beaters," Bennett said. "We're a bunch of guys who are low-round draft picks. We're a bunch of guys that [people said] can't do it. We're definitely percentage beaters. We're not really worried about the percentages that people make up."
Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 21 days ago
ARLINGTON, Texas – In the suite area of AT&T Stadium, where the highest rollers perch to watch the Forbes-topping $4 billion Dallas Cowboys, there is an impossible-to-miss homage to Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.
It comes in an almost floor-to-ceiling photo, featuring team owner Jerry Jones locked in an intimate conversation with Aikman in the Dallas locker room. The eye-to-eye photo feels dramatic, with Aikman tucking in his pristine white jersey while Jones talks and holds his hands as if he's going over a last-minute detail. It's one of many images of past glories that orbit the stadium, an oval path walled in with championship memories. Designed to elicit emotions in visitors, it also delivers a message.
Despite that fairly weighty reality ahead, the Cowboys' brain trust seemed remarkably calm after Romo's come-from-behind victory Sunday night.
"[This] shows you his competitiveness," Jones said Sunday. "It was as loud and clear as I've ever seen it."
Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 22 days ago
ARLINGTON, Texas – When it was all over, Dez Bryant hobbled his way outside of the Dallas Cowboys locker room in his underwear, clapping and screaming delighted obscenities. Balancing joy on one broken foot, he struck the perfect marriage of emotional glee and physical grief.
In the final moments of its last gasp, Dallas found out how tough it was Sunday night. And afterward, it found out exactly how tough it will have to be in the next few months.
All told, the 27-26 season-opening win over the New York Giants delivered two realities. First, the piercing clarity that quarterback Tony Romo has truly become the heart of this team. And second? The sobering reality that the emotional sleeve of Dallas, Dez Bryant, could miss the next six weeks of the season. Ultimately, it was a euphoric last-second win tempered by an earlier loss, leaving one of the NFC's best teams headed for some kind of offensive reshuffling in the coming days.
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Source: Steelers irate that NFL didn't force Pats to turn off headsets amid Pittsburgh's own radio issuesCharles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 25 days ago
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – This was supposed to be the night when the NFL swept away the scandal fatigue of the past eight months. But controversy is a formidable stalker in this league, and not even the regular season's opening night could escape it.
At least, not if Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has anything to say about it.
In a scene that likely will lead to some glee in other franchises, Tomlin blasted headset communications issues as stuff that "always" happens at Gillette Stadium. Tomlin wasn't subtle in making his point. He pointed the finger at the Patriots without blaming New England directly, saying the Steelers' coach-to-coach headset communications got washed out by the Patriots' flagship radio broadcast.
And Tomlin made sure to suggest this wasn't uncommon – "That's always the case," he said. He also didn't back down when given the opportunity, saying, "I said what I said."
(Update: A team source told Yahoo Sports the Steelers chose not to file a complaint Friday after being informed by the NFL that the league is investigating Thursday night's headset issues.)