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Friday, February 22, 2019

Football

Case Keenum opens up about Broncos trading for Joe Flacco

Case Keenum

The Denver Broncos were optimistic that they found a quarterback who could help them contend for a championship when they signed Case Keenum last offseason, but that did not work out. Despite Keenum’s struggles in 2018, many believed he would get another shot to prove himself next season.

Keenum thought the same.

In a recent appearance on “The Sports Spectrum” podcast, Keenum said he appreciated Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway calling him to inform him about the team acquiring Joe Flacco in a trade, but he was still stunned by the move.

“Elway called me that morning and we had a great conversation, which he didn’t have to do — I appreciated that. It was definitely a shock,” Keenum said, per Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post. “It was a surprise for (my wife and I) … For us, we’re definitely disappointed. It’s not something we wanted to happen. I know everybody is doing their job and John feels like it was a chance to help the Broncos out.”

Keenum said he is ready for the next chapter in his life and has no choice but to “roll with it.” He’s set to count $21 million against the salary cap next year, and the Broncos could save $11 million by cutting him. The 31-year-old said he does not know what the team plans to do.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen. This is still very fresh,” Keenum said. “A lot of these emotions we’re talking about are still going on and still happening. Who knows what’s going to be in store. I don’t, for sure.”

With Flacco now set to start in 2019, all signs point to Keenum not being on the roster next season. However, there are other teams in need of a starting quarterback, and he is just two years removed from an impressive season with the Minnesota Vikings. He could get another opportunity to prove himself.

AAF coach suggests XFL may have smeared league with payroll rumor

Vince McMahon XFL

Was some negative press about the AAF this week the product of a smear campaign from a rival upstart league? That’s what one coach will have you believe.

Rick Neuheisel, the head coach of the AAF’s Arizona Hotshots, said in comments shared by Arizona Family’s Mark McClune this week that the rumor might have been started by the XFL.

“This is a competitive environment we live in,” Neuheisel said on Tuesday. “There are other people out there that are trying to get a new league a year from now that are trying to try and create some negative publicity. But the good news is there’s an investor who just dropped $250 million. You have to imagine he did his due diligence.”

A report on Monday from The Athletic said the AAF needed a $250 million cash infusion from Carolina Hurricanes majority owner Tom Dundon in order to meet payroll obligations. Dundon has been named the league’s new chairman of the board of directors. AAF founder Charlie Ebersol says that Dundon saw how positive the reviews of the league were that he wanted to buy in.

Here’s how Ebersol explained Dundon’s investment.

“We are a start-up, and start-ups usually raise money in pieces — there’s a Series A piece, Series B, Series C, etc. After the success of the first week, we had a number of investors come to us and offer us all kinds of different investments. Tom Dundon showed up and said, ‘Do you want to continue to raise Series B, Series C and Series D or do you want to raise Series Infinity right now and be taken care of from now on.’ That was an offer I was not going to refuse,” Ebersol told the Orlando Sentinel.

It’s tough to say what to make of this. On one hand, it’s hard to imagine the league would have launched knowing they would have this much difficulty making payroll so soon. On the other, it’s possible that ticket revenues came in far below projections, causing some urgency to take on a new investor, which may seems to have been part of the plan all along.

The XFL is set to launch next year in what will be the reincarnation of the league. The AAF just completed its second week of games in its inaugural season.

H/T Barstool Sports

Steelers GM won’t stop Ben Roethlisberger from sharing opinions publicly

Ben Roethlisberger

If there’s any question, the Pittsburgh Steelers are on Ben Roethlisberger’s side when it comes to speaking publicly and sharing his opinion.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday that Roethlisberger has free reign to speak publicly as the organization’s clear leader and someone who has been there and done it all before.

In other words, Antonio Brown, who has criticized exactly what the Steelers are praising here, is out of luck. There’s a reason the Steelers are willing to trade him. This is clearly Roethlisberger’s team, for better or worse, and his word carries a lot of weight — more than that of his teammates, Brown included.

Le’Veon Bell reacts after Steelers grant him free agency

LeVeon Bell

The only thing Le’Veon Bell has wanted for the last year was a chance to test the market or get a long-term contract to match his value, and now he’ll finally get the chance.

Bell didn’t hide his delight on Twitter Wednesday after the Pittsburgh Steelers made clear that they would not use the franchise tag on him again, and he would be allowed to go into unrestricted free agency.

It’s safe to say that Bell is thrilled to finally get his wish. Now the focus will shift on his next destination, which remains unclear at this point. He’s already dropped a few hints about places he’s interested in, though.

Report: Chances of Colin Kaepernick making NFL return ‘higher’ than ever

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick and the NFL put their differences aside (at least from a legal standpoint) last week when they agreed to a massive settlement. Now that the quarterback is no longer suing the league, could the next step be him returning to the field?

According to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, Kaepernick’s chances of being signed by an NFL team are “higher now than at any time since he opted out of his deal with the Niners almost two years ago.” The settlement has a lot to do with that, but Freeman also notes that NFL owners no longer fear repercussions from Donald Trump. Even after the president blasted the league and its players for disrespecting the American flag, NFL ratings were better in 2018 than they were the previous season. That has eased the concerns of team owners who might consider signing a polarizing player like Kaepernick.

Kaepernick’s lawyer recently predicted either the Patriots or the Panthers will sign the 31-year-old, but Freeman says the chances of Kaepernick winding up in New England are virtually zero. Carolina, however, is an intriguing option given Cam Newton’s shoulder troubles and the fact that they recently signed Eric Reid to a contract extension.

While Kaepernick’s role in national anthem protests has obviously played a huge role in him remaining unsigned, he has now been out of football for two years. That will hurt his chances even further. If Kaepernick is still unable to find work, the reported financial details of his settlement with the NFL are a reminder that he will have no problem putting food on the table.

Landon Collins seemingly confirms report he cleaned out his locker

Landon Collins

New York Giants safety Landon Collins appears to be playing hardball with his contract situation.

Collins is set to become a free agent next month, and ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported on Wednesday that he has cleaned out his locker at the team’s facility and said goodbye to teammates, coaches and staff members. Paul Schwartz of the New York Post later refuted that report, noting that Collins’ locker has not been emptied.

There is one man who knows better than anyone about the state of Collins’ locker, and that is Collins himself. After Schwartz shot down Anderson’s report, Collins took to Twitter and seemingly confirmed it.

Collins has said he wants to remain in New York and is seeking a long-term deal, but the Giants have control over whether or not he becomes a free agent. They can still apply the franchise tag to him, which would be worth around $11 million for 2019. In all likelihood, Collins is trying to send a message to the team that he does not plan to cooperate if they choose to go that route.

The Giants shopped Collins at the trade deadline last season, and it is clear the All-Pro safety was bothered by that. He will likely hold out if he does not receive a long-term deal.

Report: Broncos have not asked Emmanuel Sanders to take pay cut

Emmanuel Sanders raised some eyebrows with a dismissive tweet about a contract restructuring on Tuesday, but that apparently doesn’t need to be a concern of his.

The Denver Broncos wide receiver made it quite clear in a Tuesday tweet that he has no interest in restructuring his deal or taking a pay cut.

Fortunately for Sanders, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Broncos have not asked Sanders to do anything of the sort, and his option is likely to be picked up next month.

Sanders suffered an Achilles tear in December, ending his season with 71 catches for 868 yards and four touchdowns. Despite this, it doesn’t appear that the 31-year-old has any reason to sweat his future, at least for 2019.