Several states have given professional sports teams the green light to re-open their training facilities, and the NFL is hoping to have coaches return to work in the very near future.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday that he is optimistic coaches can resume working at team facilities as early as next week. In the meantime, the league has extended its virtual offseason program another two weeks.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he’s hopeful the NFL can bring coaches back into their facilities as early as next week. The league is also extending the virtual offseason by two weeks. But preparing for an on-time regular season (and adjusting if necessary).
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 28, 2020
The goal all along has been for the NFL to begin its season on time and not have to eliminate games. There’s no way of knowing what will happen with the pandemic between now and September, but as of now the league remains determined to proceed with its offseason as scheduled. Minicamps could begin for teams by the end of next month, which would keep them on track for training camp in July.
Goodell was heavily criticized for not postponing the NFL Draft last month, but the virtual event was a massive success. As long as teams can get the appropriate clearance from their local governments, the NFL is going to keep rolling forward.
- Roger Goodell
Many professional and collegiate sports teams are expected to play games in empty arenas and stadiums when they resume or begin their seasons, but the state of Texas is willing to allow at least some fans to attend outdoor sporting events this summer.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has already issued an order allowing professional sports teams to resume play in June, and he revised that order on Thursday. Abbott is also allowing teams that play in outdoor stadiums to operate at 25 percent fan capacity.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued a revised order: not only will professional sports leagues be allowed to resume play in June, but outdoor stadiums will be allowed to host fans up to 25% of their capacity.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 28, 2020
Some other states will likely follow Abbott’s lead, and it’s possible that the 25 percent number could be increased by the time football season begins if things continue to trend in the right direction. The University of South Carolina’s athletic director said earlier this month that the school is working on ways to allow fans at games while following social distance protocols, though local governments will ultimately decide what teams can and can’t do.
It’s unclear what leagues are going to do with states having different regulations, but some fans is better than no fans from a revenue standpoint.
Welcome to the glorious life of working from home, Todd Bowles.
Like many other players and coaches across sports have done, Bowles held a virtual conference call with reporters from his home on Thursday. Everything seemed to be going smoothly for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator until his 9-year-old son Tyson strolled into the room shirtless and found a comfortable chair to sit and play video games. Bowles’ reaction was priceless.
Todd Bowles’ nine-year-old son Tyson accidentally crashed Dad’s Zoom call with the media just a little while ago . He is literally EVERY dad working from home right now. pic.twitter.com/q6DIX8GUE0
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) May 28, 2020
If nothing else, the lengthy quarantine has provided us with some entertaining moments from NFL coaches. Bill Belichick’s dog stole the show during the NFL Draft, and there’s nothing more relatable than a dad being interrupted by his 9-year-old kid while trying to work from home.
- Todd Bowles
The San Francisco 49ers seem unlikely to sign Trent Williams to a contract extension before the start of the 2020 season, but they have agreed to a restructure that should please the All-Pro left tackle for the time being.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network revealed on Thursday that Williams told him on the “Rapsheet + Friends” podcast that the final year of the 31-year-old’s contract has been tweaked. The new agreement will allow Williams to collect some of his $12.5 million salary up front, which was important to him since he did not play at all last season.
From NFL Now: New #49ers LT Trent Williams told me on RapSheet + Friends that he's agreed to a tweaked final year of his contract, pending physical. My understanding is it gives him some upfront money (a nice thing, since he earned zero last year). pic.twitter.com/fAf28yGm15
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 28, 2020
Williams was supposedly asking for a massive extension from the Washington Redskins at one point, but that was one of many tactics he employed to force a trade. While he said after he was traded to the 49ers that he hopes to be in San Francisco for more than one year, the team likely wants to make sure he is still capable of playing at a high level after taking an entire year off.
Williams should be a great fit in San Francisco’s run-first offense as long as he’s healthy. We know at least one NFC West coach is not pleased about having to face him.
NFL owners were scheduled to vote this week on a proposal that could have provided an exciting alternative to the onside kick, but the rule is not going to be implemented this season.
The onside kick alternative would allow teams to attempt to keep possession of the ball after a score by converting a 4th-and-15 from their own 25-yard line rather than kicking off. Team owners have decided to table the idea rather than sending it to a vote, though NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that they did take an unofficial poll.
There was no official vote on the 4th-and-15 proposal, but they did take a (virtual) show of hands and it did not have the support to pass at this time. A bold idea that would've needed 24 of 32 votes. Expect it to come up again. https://t.co/XRuJBIlEG9
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 28, 2020
Support had reportedly been growing for the idea, so it is possible we could see it put into play in 2021. There were some questions over how many times teams would be able to attempt the 4th-and-15 play and some other details that needed to be sorted through, which is likely why the proposal was tabled.
As it stands, teams have almost no chance of recovering an on-side kick. The conversion rate was over 20 percent a few years back, but the NFL changed kickoff rules to make it so players on the kicking team cannot get a running start before the ball is kicked. The goal with that change is to avoid violent collisions, but it has also made recovering an on-side kick far more difficult. The success rate of on-side kicks has fallen to around 5 percent since the new rule was implemented.
The XFL had some unique kickoff rules during its brief return this year, and those may have helped inspire the NFL to explore changes of their own.
Patrick Peterson is entering the final season of his current deal with the Arizona Cardinals, and the Pro Bowl cornerback is hoping to work out an extension with the team. If that doesn’t happen, however, it does not sound like he intends to hold out.
Peterson was asked about his contract situation on Thursday. While he’s “optimistic” about getting a new deal from Cardinals, he said he has a chip on his shoulder and is ready to prove himself in 2020 if need be.
Patrick Peterson said there really haven't been any contract talks with #AZCardinals as he goes into last year of his deal. Said he thinks this can be special year for him and team.
"I feel I have a lot to prove," he said. Would love to stay with one team. Praised organization.
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) May 28, 2020
Peterson: "I have a chip on my shoulder bigger than it's ever been."
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) May 28, 2020
It probably would have been easier for Peterson to land an extension had he not been suspended for six games last season due to a PED violation. Peterson looked a step slow when he came back and did not round into form until later in the season, so he can’t blame the Cardinals for not wanting to commit several more years to him.
Though some of his cryptic social media activity led people to believe he wanted out of Arizona at one point, Peterson says he wants to finish his career with the Cardinals. The 29-year-old is right that he has to prove himself before the team wants to pay big money to make that happen.
Patrick Mahomes became eligible to sign a contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason, and all indications are that the team is working toward making him the highest-paid player in NFL history.
Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star reported on Thursday that Mahomes and the Chiefs have begun negotiations, though it is unclear how close they are to an agreement. When the deal is completed, Mellinger says it will be “unlike any other.”
The most anticipated contract negotiation in NFL history is underway between the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes.
The result will be a deal unlike any other, with potential new precedents that could change future talks. https://t.co/xzPBWqx5pi
— Sam Mellinger (@mellinger) May 28, 2020
The Chiefs have already said they are confident they will sign Mahomes to a new deal before the start of the 2020 season, which is a good sign that the two sides are not very far apart. Mahomes was named the NFL MVP in 2018 and led Kansas City to a Super Bowl victory last season, so his stock could not be higher. The price tag will only continue to go up each year, however, which is why the Chiefs would be wise to not let him play out the final two years of his rookie deal.
We have heard some astronomical figures thrown around for how much money Mahomes could get, and those may not be far off. His salary is all but certain to surpass the $35 million per year Russell Wilson makes, and Mahomes will probably get significantly more guaranteed money than the $110 million the Los Angeles Rams gave Jared Goff.
Mahomes has already set records on the field, and the 24-year-old is going to set them with his contract as well.
Aaron Rodgers has admitted that he was not thrilled when the Green Bay Packers took a quarterback in the first round of the draft last month, but he has apparently not let that stand in the way of having a strong relationship with his head coach. At least, that’s what his head coach says.
Matt LaFleur was asked about his relationship with Rodgers during an appearance on ESPN Wisconsin’s “Wilde and Tausch” show Thursday morning, and the Packers coach insisted everything is fine. LaFleur said he and Rodgers have been speaking four times a week.
“We talk four times a week whenever we get those opportunities to meet in those individual meetings, and I feel really good about where we’re at. We both understand that this is a business,” LaFleur said, via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “When that whole thing went down it was just one of those situations where there were a couple of guys that had just previously been picked and Jordan was the next guy on the board.”
One reporter speculated after the draft that LaFleur may have been trying to send a message to Rodgers by picking Jordan Love in the first round, but that doesn’t sound like it was the case. Not only that, but LaFleur may not have even been responsible for the pick.
If anything, Rodgers would probably have a gripe with Green Bay’s front office. That could eventually lead to Brett Favre’s prediction coming true, but Rodgers understands how important it is for him and LaFleur to be on the same page in the short term. With teams already facing so many challenges this offseason, the last thing the Packers need is tension between their quarterback and head coach.