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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Football

Tom Brady gives Patriots fans another reason to think he will leave the team

Tom Brady

The thought of Tom Brady playing for any team other than the Patriots is almost impossible for sports fans to wrap their heads around, but the future Hall of Famer continues to give fans in New England reasons to believe they may only have months remaining to call him their quarterback.

On Tuesday, Brady announced that he is stepping down from his position as regional ambassador for “Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port.” The event is an annual one in Massachusetts run by Best Buddies, which is an international organization that works to enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Brady said in a press release that he is passing the torch to teammate Julian Edelman, Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum, celebrity chef Guy Fieri, and Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III.

“I am incredibly proud of all the great things that we have accomplished with the Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port over the years and I look forward to continuing to support the organization as a Global Ambassador,” Brady said.

In other words, Brady plans to continue working with the organization. But for some reason, he will no longer be serving as co-chair of the annual Best Buddies event in New England. Why? Don’t expect an explanation from the 42-year-old quarterback, but speculation is already raging.

Brady is in the final year of his contract with the Patriots. The team reworked his deal prior to the season to essentially give him a raise for 2019, but the new contract also states that he cannot be franchise tagged after that season. That means he will become a free agent for the first time in his career if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Patriots prior to March.

No need to panic, right Pats fans?

Call it a coincidence, but Brady and his wife Gisele also put their Boston-area mansion on the market back in October. Brady urged people not to read anything into that, but it’s impossible not to.

There have been numerous reports stating that Brady is setting himself up to leave the Patriots, and the latest said he will need something between him and the team needs to radically change over the next few months if he is going to be back in 2020. He also still plans to play another three or four seasons, and he seemed to hint earlier this season that he is open to doing that outside of New England.

Of course, all of this could mean nothing. It could also be strategy from Brady to get Robert Kraft and the Patriots to commit to him with a multi-year contract, but there’s no question there is a greater possibility at this very moment that he will be leaving than there has ever been during his 20-year career. When you read the signs and consider the fact that he has been openly unhappy this season, it’s easy to feel like Brady has one foot out the door at Gillette Stadium.

NFL salary cap expected to jump to $200 million range for 2020

Roger Goodell

The NFL salary cap is going up again, and for the first time, it could eclipse $200 million.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported Tuesday that the NFL told teams that the cap is expected to rise somewhere between $196.8 million and $201.2 million.

The 2019 cap stood at $188.2 million, so a jump of around $10 million appears likely. Per Rapoport, it would be the seventh consecutive year that the cap rises by $10 million or more.

Even if it doesn’t happen in 2020, a $200 million salary cap is inevitable at this point. It’s also excellent news for players, who will be entitled to a larger slice of the pie. It’s helpful to teams, too, as it means they can commit a bit more money to players who will definitely be looking to sign extensions once the season is over.

WR Jaelen Strong accuses Browns of mishandling his knee injury

Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield created an uncomfortable situation for the Cleveland Browns following Sunday’s game when he said an injury that Odell Beckham Jr suffered during the preseason has not been handled properly, and the team is now facing similar allegations from a former player.

Former NFL wide receiver Jaelen Strong, who spent the majority of training camp with the Browns before the season, took to Twitter on Tuesday to vent about his experiences with the team. The former third-round pick signed with Cleveland after missing the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL, and he says his knee kept swelling up after the Browns held padded practices for 30 days straight. He called that schedule “UNHEARD OF” and said team doctors knew how bad his knee was getting and ignored it.

“And not once did I complain nor sit out after their docs knew how bad my knee swelled up day after day,” Strong wrote. “Not one time did anybody offer a rest day or anything but I’m tough right? Lol so f— it.”

Strong said he could “barely walk” by the time the third preseason game came around, and he believes the Browns used the injury as an excuse to cut him after their rigorous practice schedule contributed to his condition.

Plenty of players don’t make the 53-man roster out of training camp because of injuries, but Strong’s allegations that the Browns’ doctors essentially ignored his injury are troubling.

Mayfield quickly apologized for throwing his team’s medical staff under the bus, but Strong’s claims make Mayfield’s even more noteworthy. Beckham has not commented on the handling of his sports hernia, but it certainly doesn’t seem like he’s happy in Cleveland.

Report: NFL ‘inclined to believe’ Patriots’ explanation for videotaping Bengals

If the New England Patriots face disciplinary action from the NFL over the latest videotaping allegations against them, it sounds like that will have more to do with their history than the actual violation.

The Patriots have released a statement and explained why they had a video crew filming the field during Sunday’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media said he has gotten the sense that the NFL is “inclined to believe” this was not an instance of spying on an opponent to gain an advantage.

While the Patriots say the film crew was recording a segment for their “Do Your Job” documentary series, they acknowledged that the crew — which supposedly included independent contractors — “inappropriately filmed the field from the press box.” They also expressed regret over only getting permission from the Browns to film but not alerting the Bengals ahead of time.

Bill Belichick immediately distanced himself from the allegations on Monday, noting that whatever production was being filmed had absolutely nothing to do with the Patriots’ football operations department. If Belichick had a hand in the filming, it seems unlikely that he would deny it that quickly. That could potentially just make the coach look a lot worse down the line, especially given his and the team’s history.

Some of the reports about what was filmed do not sound good for the Patriots, but they are trying to prevent the situation from getting out of control by addressing it immediately. Even if the NFL believes them, they have already admitted some level of responsibility. Fans will expect some sort of punishment.

Report: NFL wants quick resolution with latest Patriots videotaping allegations

Roger Goodell

The NFL is looking into allegations that the New England Patriots illegally videotaped the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline on Sunday, and the league apparently does not want the investigation to drag out over a long period of time.

League officials are hoping for a resolution in what many are calling “Spygate 2” as early as this week, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports. One consideration when determining if there will be any disciplinary action is whether or not the footage that was obtained showed anything that could not be seen on TV or coaches’ tape from the game.

The Patriots have essentially admitted that what they did was illegal, though they insist none of the filming was done at the direction of Bill Belichick or anyone else with their football operations department. A statement from the team on Monday acknowledged that a film crew that included independent contractors was filming a Patriots scout for part of the team’s “Do Your Job” documentary, and the crew “inappropriately filmed the field from the press box.”

According to one report, the footage in question showed the Bengals’ sideline for roughly eight minutes. Bill Belichick immediately distanced himself from the allegations, but the NFL could take past violations into account when determining whether or not disciplinary action is warranted.

Adam Gase shares thoughts on Le’Veon Bell going bowling with the flu

LeVeon Bell

Le’Veon Bell was spotted out enjoying some leisure time at a bowling alley on Saturday night just hours after the New York Jets ruled him out of Sunday’s game with an illness, and naturally he is facing criticism. While Jets coach Adam Gase may not have agreed with the decision, he made it clear there is nothing he can do about it.

Gase was asked about Bell’s bowling adventures during his press conference on Tuesday, and he admitted he would have preferred if the star running back stayed home to focus on “getting better.” However, he said the team told Bell to stay away so he didn’t infect other players, and the Jets are not going to discipline a player for leaving his house.

Obviously, the issue is one of optics. Bell has had a disappointing first season with the Jets, and it’s a bad look for him to be out having a good time on the same weekend he was too ill to play in a game. It would not be a surprise if Gase is just as annoyed about that as fans are.

The Jets signed Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million deal last offseason that includes $27 million guaranteed. He is averaging just 82.7 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry this season, and there has been talk that he could be shopped in trade talks this winter. There were also reports before the season that Gase never wanted Bell on the team to begin with, so the situation will certainly be one to watch.

Report: Giants coach Pat Shurmur, GM Dave Gettleman could both be fired

Pat Shurmur

The New York Giants collapsed on Monday night in the type of performance that can cost a head coach his job, and the team could be planning to clean house at the conclusion of the season.

After the Giants jumped out to a 17-3 lead over the Philadelphia Eagles only to lose in overtime, the seat underneath head coach Pat Shurmur is as hot as it has been all year. According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, there is a feeling around the NFL that both Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman could be fired.

Shurmur is in only his second season as the head coach of the Giants, but he has a worse winning percentage than former coach Ben McAdoo had when the team parted ways with him during his second year on the job. While New York’s brass has reportedly been pleased with the way Shurmur has developed rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, they expected more than seven victories in 29 games.

Gettleman has been on the job the same amount of time as Shurmur, but general managers are typically given more time to make their mark on an organization than head coaches. Gettleman is largely responsible for drafting Saquon Barkley and Jones, which should work to his advantage. However, he probably is not feeling that great about his job security given the recent comments Giants owner John Mara made.

Turnover is never easy for an NFL team, and the Giants have had plenty of it in recent years. If they decide to stick with Shurmur and/or Gettleman, stability will be their primary motivation.