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#pounditFriday, June 24, 2022

Football

Ndamukong Suh gives update on his NFL future

Ndamukong Suh looks on

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ndamukong Suh finds himself without an NFL team as training camp looms, but that does not mean he is done playing.

Suh made an appearance on ESPN’s “NFL Live” Monday and confirmed he still hopes to play in 2022. However, he conceded he was unlikely to find a role with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he spent the previous three seasons.

Suh turned 35 in January, so he would be forgiven if he was giving thought to retirement. At no point has that been the case. He seemed eager to remain with the Buccaneers, but the team’s addition of Akiem Hicks would seemingly rule out any chance of that happening.

Suh remains a consistent presence on the field. He started every game for the Buccaneers during his time there, and still collected six sacks in each of the last two seasons.

Chase Claypool makes bold statement about his NFL stature

Chase Claypool in Steelers gear

Sep 12, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (11) looks on against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool certainly is not lacking in confidence based on his quotes about where he feels he stands within the NFL.

In an appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast, Claypool asserted that he is one of the three best receivers in the NFL.

“I feel that way when I’m on the field. I know for a fact I am not like the rest of the guys in the NFL. I know I’m a top five receiver. I know I’m a top three receiver,” Claypool said. “I’ve got to bring that confidence and I’ve got to bring that spirit and I’ve just got to show the people. And it’s going to happen, and we’re going to rewind this, and we’re going to see this clip in a little bit. and people are going to be like ‘damn, he was right.'”

Few would back up Claypool’s assertions right now. While he has definitely displayed plenty of talent, he has yet to post a thousand-yard season. Plus, he still makes the occasional mistake that top receivers just don’t make.

Claypool will be working with a new quarterback this season, be it Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett. He’ll need good service from his quarterback if he wants to back up his confidence with his play.

Report reveals when Odell Beckham Jr will return from knee injury

Odell Beckham Jr. in a blue jersey

Jan 17, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) reacts before a NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Odell Beckham Jr. remains a free agent in part because he is still recovering from a major injury, and the star wide receiver is expected to miss a significant portion of the 2022 season.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said on “Get Up” Monday that the Los Angeles Rams remain optimistic they can sign Beckham to a new deal. Beckham is not in a huge rush to make a decision, however, likely because he could miss the first two months of the season while rehabbing his torn ACL.

“But Beckham could take his time here because talking to teams, they don’t expect Beckham to be healthy until October or maybe even November, as far as ‘full-go’ back from that ACL,” Fowler said, via Bleacher Report’s Timothy Rapp. “So Beckham can take his time, maybe even wait until the first couple of weeks of the season, see who’s hot, who needs a receiver. He will likely go to a contender.”

Beckham tore the ACL in his right knee the Super Bowl. He tore the same ACL in 2020. The 29-year-old has suffered numerous significant injuries during his career, which has undoubtedly impacted the market for his services.

The Rams have been open about wanting to re-sign Beckham. Even if OBJ is weighing all options, he has indicated that the feeling is mutual. The two sides need to agree on money and obviously have not yet.

Beckham took a while to get going with the Rams, but he had 21 receptions and two touchdown catches during the playoffs. The Rams signed Allen Robinson this offseason and still have Cooper Kupp, but Beckham could be a dangerous No. 3 option for them if they bring him back.

Brian Urlacher campaigning for 1 player’s Hall of Fame election

Brian Urlacher giving his Hall of Fame induction speech

Aug 4, 2018; Canton, OH, USA; Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018 enshrinee Brian Urlacher during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Tom Bensen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018, and believes that another linebacker who has yet to be voted in deserves the honor.

Urlacher appeared on “The Pat McAfee Show” Wednesday and questioned why Zach Thomas has been denied entry into the Hall of Fame.

“How the f— is Zach Thomas not in the Hall of Fame,” Urlacher said (edited by LBS for profanity). “Put his stats up with mine, Ray [Lewis], any other linebacker who’s either close to the Hall of Fame or been in the Hall of Fame. He’s right there with us if not better.

“Every year I advocate for him to get in, but they don’t put him in and I don’t understand it.”

Thomas was a Hall of Fame finalist for the first time in 2022 in what was his ninth year of eligibility. During his 13 NFL seasons with both the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys, Thomas made a strong case as to why he should be elected. A five-time first-team All-Pro selection and member of the all-decade team for the 2000s, Thomas had 1,734 total tackles, 20.5 sacks, 17 interceptions and 16 forced fumbles during his career.

While Thomas’ stats don’t quite measure up to those of an all-time great like Lewis, they do line up favorably when compared to Urlacher. In 17 seasons, Lewis had 2,059 total tackles, 41.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles and 31 interceptions. Urlacher had 1,361 total tackles, 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles during his 13-year career.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Ex-Steelers star still salty about infamous old play from Super Bowl

Rashard Mendenhall smiling

Apr 12, 2014; Champaign, IL, USA; Former Illinois Fighting Illini player Rashard Mendenhall looks on during the third quarter of the spring game at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

One former NFL player is getting worked up again over something that happened back when Peyton Manning was still in Indianapolis.

Retired ex-Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall tweeted on Sunday about his notorious game-changing fumble against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

“I never fumbled that ball… #SBXLV,” he wrote. “My coaches would feel like a–holes to say that I did, I never did” (profanity edited by LBS).

“I was SEPARATED from the ball, 4 yards into the backfield,” Mendenhall added. “That’s the RB equivalent of a strip-sack. There’s NOTHING I could’ve done about it. Respect my career. #Free34”

Mendenhall, who wore No. 34 in his NFL career, celebrated his birthday on Sunday. Otherwise though, the tweet seemed to be totally unprompted.

The fumble in question took place over 11 years ago. Mendenhall lost the ball on the opening play of the fourth quarter when it was jarred loose on a combined hit by Clay Matthews and Ryan Pickett. The Steelers had scored 14 unanswered points at the time to make it a 21-17 game, and they were inside Green Bay territory threatening to take the lead. But the fumble shifted the momentum, and the Packers held on to win 31-25.

Mendenhall was an up-and-coming star at the time and had just posted two straight seasons of 1,000 yards rushing, including a top-ten season ever for a Steelers running back with 1,273 yards in 2010. He would also produce a solid 928 rushing yards and nine touchdowns the year after the fumble. But Mendenhall only lasted one more season with the Steelers beyond that and retired from the NFL altogether in 2014 at just 26 years old.

Now 35, Mendenhall did manage to get a ring with Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII (the year before his fumble). But he clearly thinks that play unfairly changed the course of his NFL career (even if there were some other big reasons why Mendenhall flamed out).

Report: Panthers only willing to trade for Baker Mayfield under 1 condition

Baker Mayfield in a hat

Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is shown on the sideline during their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers are still viewed as the most logical suitor for Baker Mayfield, but they have not been able to find middle ground in trade discussions with the Cleveland Browns. It sounds like there is one issue standing in the way of a deal — money.

Mayfield is owed $18.9 million in the final year of his rookie contract. No team wants to pay that, especially knowing that the Browns have Deshaun Watson now. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated said during a recent appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show” that Cleveland is willing to eat about half of Mayfield’s salary.

“Cleveland’s been willing to take on a fair amount of Baker’s salary, like $9, $10 million,” Breer said, via SI.com’s Daniel Chavkin. “For people out there who think that Cleveland’s holding on to Baker as Deshaun insurance, they wouldn’t be offering to take on a pretty significant portion of the guy’s salary if they were looking to hold him until there’s more clarity in the Deshaun Watson case.”

Breer added that the Panthers will only trade for Mayfield “if it’s a bargain.” That likely means they want to pay a lot less than half of the 27-year-old’s salary.

The Panthers have continued to show interest in Mayfield. A recent report claimed teams have a specific price in mind that they are willing to pay, and it would require the Browns eating more than half of Mayfield’s contract.

Mayfield has been linked to another surprise team recently, but it seems like he is destined for Carolina. Though, more teams could enter the mix if the Browns cut him. If the Panthers believe Mayfield can be their starter, they may eventually agree to pay more of his salary than they were hoping.

Colts RB takes subtle jab at Carson Wentz?

Carson Wentz throws a pass

Nov 28, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) drops back to pass in the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts expect Matt Ryan to be a significant upgrade over Carson Wentz, and it sounds like running back Nyheim Hines has already noticed a difference this offseason.

Hines was asked this week to share his first impressions of Ryan. He had an interesting choice of words while praising the quarterback. Hines said Ryan is “not missing the layups.”

That is a common expression in sports, but some wondered if it was a shot at Wentz. Before the Colts moved on from Wentz, general manager Chris Ballard said he told the former second overall pick that he needs to “make the layups.” He used the phrase while essentially criticizing Wentz for his role in Indy’s late-season collapse.

Perhaps it was a coincidence that Hines used the same phrase. Either way, it was noteworthy. The Colts have not exactly gone out of their way to defend Wentz over the past several months. Hines and his teammates are probably much happier with Ryan leading the offense.

District attorney issues reminder about Deshaun Watson case

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson was traded to the Cleveland Browns not long after two different grand juries in Texas declined to indict him on sexual assault charges. NFL teams considered that a huge victory for Watson, but Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg wants to remind everyone that it does not mean the star quarterback is innocent.

Ogg, who is in charge of the prosecutor’s office in Houston, discussed the Watson case during an appearance on “The Mike Meltser Podcast” this week. She said the legal process is “designed to get the truth” but cautioned that a lack of grand jury indictment is “not an exoneration.”

“People, even when they clear the criminal justice system, often face accountability and repercussions in other parts of our legal system,” Ogg said, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “And so I think to determine whether justice was done in this case you’re going to have to wait and see how it all comes out on the civil side of things and then through the NFL on the administrative side of things. And then people will determine whether that’s justice.”

Watson is facing sexual assault lawsuits from 24 women, and more could still be filed. The teams that pursued him obviously were not as concerned about the civil suits as they were the potential of criminal charges. Though, one team did back out of the sweepstakes because the lawsuits weren’t settled.

The NFL is reportedly seeking a lengthy suspension for Watson. Criminal charges would have had a bigger impact on his career, but he is far from out of the woods in terms of consequences.

Eli Manning appreciated swipe Ole Miss took at his brother Peyton

Eli Manning in a coat and tie

Feb 5, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning during the Walter Payton man of the year press conference at Moscone Center in advance of Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Manning is viewed by most as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. To some of the people at Ole Miss, however, he is merely Eli’s older brother.

Peyton was shown on the video board during Saturday’s College World Series game between Ole Miss and Auburn in Omaha. The graphic described him as “Eli Manning’s brother.” Eli tweeted on Sunday that he likes that title for his brother.

In most settings, Peyton would probably be described as a Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion. Only at an Ole Miss or possibly New York Giants event would he take a back seat to Eli.

Peyton has been enjoying a lot of the College World Series this year. He was spotted wearing a very appropriate hat during another game on Friday night.

Russell Wilson shares why he wanted trade to Broncos

Russell Wilson in a Broncos helmet

Jun 13, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during mini camp drills at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Wilson had some specific criteria in mind when it came to his desired trade destinations.

The Pro Bowl quarterback was dealt from Seattle to Denver over the offseason. Wilson says that he had three wishes when it came to his new team.

Speaking to reporters Friday during the 2022 Russell Wilson Passing Academy in Denver, Wilson revealed what made the Denver Broncos such an attractive landing spot for him.

“Once the trade was going to happen, I said, ‘Hey, listen, I want to make sure that I go to a city that wants to win. I want to make sure that I go to a team that wants to win. And I want to go to a city that knows how to win.’ And all those three things were checked off the box here in Denver,” Wilson said.

The Broncos went 7-10 last season with a combination of Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Locke at quarterback. They should be better with Wilson under center.

In 14 games last season, Wilson threw for 3,113 yards and 25 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He missed the first three games of his career due to a finger injury.

While Wilson won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 and was an interception short of winning another the following year, his comments suggest that he didn’t think the Seahawks were a winning football team as currently constructed. One of Wilson’s former Seahawks teammates said that an unimaginative game plan may have played a part in Wilson’s desire to go elsewhere. Perhaps playing under Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who helped run a dynamic Green Bay Packers offense with Aaron Rodgers that led the league in scoring in 2020, was another draw for Wilson.