Training camps have officially opened across the NFL, and that means at least 90 players on every single team are vying for a spot on the regular season 53-man roster. Some spots may be more set in stone than others, but everyone has a real chance to make an impression.
For rookies and other young players, that breeds excitement. On the opposite end of that spectrum, it could also mean the end for several aging players and long-time veterans.
Here’s a look at 15 NFL veterans who are on the bubble as training camps get underway.
15. Michael Johnson, DE, Cincinnati Bengals
Michael Johnson has meant a lot to the Bengals during his two stints with the team and was even their Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee in 2017. However, the NFL is a business, and at 31 years old with a diminishing snap count and a cap hit of over $6.1 million, his time in Cincinnati may be nearing an end. The Bengals have young players like Sam Hubbard, Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson who will push Johnson for playing time and likely render him expendable.
The San Francisco 49ers have been mentioned as having interest in Matt Schaub, and another quarterback potentially in the mix for them is Brian Hoyer.
The Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows, who is a plugged-in 49ers reporter, hosted a Q&A earlier this week and was asked about San Francisco’s short-term plans for a QB.
In his response, Barrows said he expects new head coach Kyle Shanahan to add a combination of veterans and rookies. He specifically mentioned Hoyer or Schaub — or both — as potential additions for the Niners.
A report two weeks ago said that Shanahan was likely to bring in Schaub, potentially as the team’s starter. Schaub turns 36 in June and has only thrown 113 passes over the past three seasons since becoming a backup after his career with the Texans took a downturn.
Hoyer, 31, spent the first part of his career as a backup, but he earned starting time with the Browns, Texans and Bears in recent years, and has put up some respectable numbers. He has thrown for 44 touchdowns and 26 interceptions during his career.
The San Francisco 49ers may be in line for the ol’ package deal.
According to a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN on Sunday, Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub may follow offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who is expected to accept the Niners head coaching position upon the completion of Super Bowl LI, to San Francisco.
Falcons QB Matt Schaub could follow Atlanta OC Kyle Shanahan to SF, per sources. Schaub could be starter, backup or bridge to future SF QB.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 5, 2017
The 35-year-old Schaub is obviously an underwhelming QB option, especially at this stage of his career. He completed just one pass in three attempts for the Falcons this season and threw 10 touchdowns to 14 interceptions in his last season of regular play in 2013. But the Niners have a need at the position as Colin Kaepernick very well may opt out of his contract, while Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, and Thad Lewis are all already free agents.
Not much would be expected of Schaub in terms of on-field performance. But if he’s able to help ease Shanahan’s transition as a familiar face and a stopgap option under center, the former Pro Bowler could still be quite useful. Let’s jusst hope that the San Francisco area restaurants are a little more merciful.
Image via GamerHubTV on YouTube
It looks like those reports about the Oakland Raiders having more interest in Matt Schaub than any other team have turned out to be true. On Thursday, the Houston Texans traded Schaub to the Raiders for a late-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
There was speculation earlier this month that the Cleveland Browns and Raiders would be interested in signing Schaub if the Texans released him and his $10 million base salary for 2014, but Oakland apparently wanted the veteran quarterback badly enough that it was willing to give up a draft pick.
Schaub became expendable when the Texans bolstered their quarterback depth by signing Ryan Fitzpatrick on Thursday night. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted, the trade between Oakland and Houston could impact the top five selections in the draft. The Raiders pick fifth overall and may now decide to go with Schaub as their quarterback and address another position.
The Texans are even more likely to select a quarterback now with the first overall pick, though there is little consensus over who that player will be. Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles are the most likely choices.
Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune reports that the Raiders have the most interest in Schaub compared to any other quarterback.
CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora says the Cleveland Browns cutting Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden opens up space for Schaub, who apparently is their top QB target, ahead of Rex Grossman.
The problem for those teams is that Schaub may not hit the open market. The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain cites Schaub’s salary cap figure in saying that Schaub is “not going anywhere anytime soon.” McClain says Schaub counts as $3.5 million against the cap if the team waived him, which he says will not happen.
The Texans currently have Schaub, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates under contract at quarterback, plus they’re expected to take another QB in the draft — likely first overall. At least one of those guys are going to go. Maybe it will be Yates.
- Matt Schaub
The Houston Texans have lost eight in a row since starting the NFL season 2-0 and are an official mess. Things got even messier on Sunday when the Texans pulled Case Keenum for Matt Schaub late in the third quarter of a 28-23 home loss to the Oakland Raiders.
The Texans were down 28-17 when they made the change. Schaub’s drives went: punt, field goal, field goal, punt, turnover on downs. Most of his passes to top receiver Andre Johnson were incompletions, including a 4th-and-7 pass from the Oakland 8 on their last offensive play of the game. On that drive, the Texans got the ball down to the Raiders’ two and couldn’t score (a penalty pushed them back five yards).
As the video above shows, Schaub and Johnson exchanged words after the incompletion, and then Johnson appeared to drop an F-bomb and walked off the field with time still left on the clock:
Sports Radio 610 in Houston’s “Ted and Fred Show” reports that a law enforcement source told them they were contacted by the NFL in response to the incident. Apparently some fans went to Schaub’s house to tell him off and one person even took a picture of the quarterback’s family. It’s believed that Schaub contacted NFL security over the issue, and the league passed along the complaint to Houston police.
The fans apparently left the home before police had a chance to respond.
This is the latest step fans have taken against Schaub during his brutal start to the season. A week ago, we noted that some fans burned his jersey. Then last week a Houston restaurant took a shot at him with a menu item.
Schaub has thrown nine interceptions in five games, including pick-sixes in four straight games. He was so bad in a 34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last weekend that the team benched him for backup T.J. Yates.
While most people I know just feel badly for him because we know he’s in a bad slump and capable of doing so much better, there are some jerks out there who decide to take out their frustrations in an awful manner. Unfortunately, this tale is all too common among NFL fans.