Just a week ago we were gearing up for Super Bowl XLVI and the thought with Rob Gronkowski was about how he'd be able to move on the field. Today, we're wondering if he's going to join the cast of Jersey Shore (no seriously I insist; check out the video).
Since we've now entered into that dead zone of no football where we miss the days of the XFL before thinking better of it, and with free agency a month away and the draft another two months away, all we have to go by are rumors to sustain us.
Unlike the NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball—which tend to get their offseason free-agent period started a week after the end of the season—the NFL decides to make us wait and wonder what's going on, who our favorite teams are going to sign and cut respectively while we religiously look at mock drafts. By the third day after the Super Bowl, our brains decide to just shut off from football and concentrate on other stuff (like what you are doing for your significant other on Valentine's Day).
But you still want to know what's going on, even though absolutely nothing can happen for the next month. Sure the NFL combine is on Feb. 22, but all they do is work out the players: it's not like you can pick one up there.
Allow me to make it easier for you, the fine readers, and round up 10 of the top rumors in the NFL from the previous week. We'll make this a Friday tradition until Tuesday March 13 at 4 p.m. ET—the day and time when NFL free agency is officially underway.
Here's a look at this week's hot rumors.
Tom Brady wasn't exactly Tom Brady-like after getting sacked in the third quarter by Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.
Prior to the hit, New England led 17-12 and Brady had been marvelous, going 20-of-27 passing for 199 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. At one point had completed a Super Bowl-record 16 consecutive passes.
After the hit, Brady was 7-of-18 for 75 yards and an interception. A stark difference. Also of note is the fact that he wasn't terribly accurate, and even the passes dropped by Welker and other Pats receivers weren't exactly the best throws.
It has since been confirmed in the Boston Herald that Brady had re-aggravated his sprained throwing shoulder on that hit.
The shoulder injury forced Brady to miss practice in the preparations for the AFC Championship Game against Baltimore and had been bothering Brady for most of the season. It does appear to be one of those injuries that with some rest during this offseason will be able to heal fine just in time for next season.
This does partially give an explanation as to why Brady wasn't himself at the end of the game, and you likely won't hear Brady or anyone on the Patriots blame the injury for their performance.
In 2010 you might remember the protracted holdout Vincent Jackson had with the San Diego Chargers that lasted 10 games. It even became a footnote in last season's lockout when he was included in the anti-trust suit that had to be settled before the lockout could end.
This season, Jackson was franchised by the Chargers and caught 60 passes for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns, earning himself a trip to the Pro Bowl in place of Wes Welker, who skipped the Pro Bowl for obvious reasons.
However, despite a good season, the Chargers might be inclined to let Jackson go per the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Due to circumstances that include a free agent class of wide receivers that one team insider termed “extremely deep,” there is little chance the Chargers will follow their Weddle blueprint in dealing with Vincent Jackson.
Conversely, the Chargers will almost certainly allow Jackson to hit the free agent market next month, and there is expected to be a line of teams ready to deal with him.
The Chargers will reach out to Jackson’s agents well in advance of the free agency period beginning on March 13 and say they are interested in being in the mix along with other teams.
While the official word from both sides will be that they are open to reuniting—and the Chargers could become players once they see where the market has been set—it is unlikely Jackson will be a Charger once other teams get in the bidding. And that bidding is expected to go quickly. Jackson is the consensus No.1 receiver on the market, and sources predicted yesterday he would be signed in the first few days of free agency.
Of course by Weddle they're referring to Chargers safety Eric Weddle, who prior to last season signed a five-year, $40 million contract with $19 million guaranteed.
The Chargers believe that they can afford to let Jackson go because there will be more cost-effective options available to them in free agency, including Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne (although if you ask me, Wayne will either stay in Indianapolis or go where ever Peyton Manning goes), Mario Manningham and Robert Meachem. According to the same story, Chargers GM Alex Smith is more concerned with rebuilding San Diego's offensive line.
Jackson will be the most coveted free-agent wide receiver in the NFL and will wind up being the most highly paid. Expect the Chargers to pass on him and likely look for his replacement either in free agency or in the draft.
Since last offseason, Osi Umenyiora has wanted what he feels to be a well-deserved raise.
Despite 2012 being the final year of his contract, Umenyiora is unlikely to get said raise this season.
As stated in this story in the New York Post:
At issue is the $3.975 million he is scheduled to receive in the final year of the eight-year, $33.9 million deal the Giants handed him in 2005—a deal that now looks far below market value in light of Umenyiora’s production and rich free-agent contracts given to other premier pass rushers around the league.
Working against Umenyiora getting a big raise: He turned 30 in November and was reduced late in the season to a backup role by injuries and the emergence of pass-rush monster Jason Pierre-Paul.
The Giants also seem unlikely to make a Umenyiora a priority, despite nine sacks in just nine games in the regular season, because of the team’s salary-cap situation.
Big Blue’s 2012 payroll is already projected at $124.7 million, which would be above the anticipated $124 million cap and does not include the $5 million the team is required to set aside to sign its draft class. They also have 22 scheduled free agents.
Last season this contract issue led to Umenyiora asking the Giants for a trade. However for the same reasons that the Giants will unlikely give him an extension and raise, the Giants won't likely get too much in return for the 30-year-old, who finished the season as a backup.
Expect Umenyiora to return to the Giants for 2012 and attempt to play his way into more playing time to get that large contract in next year's free-agent market.
Indianapolis did a tremendous job holding the Super Bowl; so tremendous that a lot of cold-weather cities might want to throw their hats in the ring.
One of the most ideal "cold-weather" cities to host a Super Bowl would be Seattle.
Well, that might be closer to reality than you would think, as according to Seattle television station KCPQ Q13 FOX, the Seahawks have submitted the official paperwork to the league and must now wait for the Super Bowl advisory committee to invite Seattle to make a bid.
If the Seahawks and the city of Seattle were to make a bid for the Super Bowl, their first chance would likely be Super Bowl LI (that's 51) in 2017 since the next three Super Bowl sites have already been determined (New Orleans next year, followed by the Meadowlands in 2014 and Glendale, Ariz., in 2015) and Super Bowl L will likely be held in Los Angeles to commemorate the 50th Super Bowl (the first Super Bowl was held in Los Angeles).
Seattle would be a wonderful place for the Super Bowl. While the average temperature is a cool 44 degrees, that's a lot better than MetLife Stadium. Seattle is also just a cool town, based on everyone I know who has visited the city. The most negative thing I hear about Seattle is that it rains.
My reply to that is so what?
The NFL should give the Emerald City a chance; it will likely get reviews as good as the ones Indianapolis received.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons are considering signing former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder.
Crowder retired last summer after getting released by the Dolphins; however he has maintained a relationship with former Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who was hired last month by the Falcons to be their new defensive coordinator.
According to Crowder:
I’d love to play in Atlanta. Coach Nolan is my guy. Actually, when he got the job in Atlanta he [sent] me a text. Coach Nolan is a first-class guy. I’m not just saying that to be politically correct. He’s a first-class guy and a great defensive coordinator. He’s a great guy. When I got released he texted me back then and said that ‘it was great to coach you.’
Crowder was released by the Dolphins last July; however he didn't file his retirement papers to the NFL. In six seasons in Miami, Crowder started 74 games and earned a reputation around the league as a trash-talker who at times failed to back it up. However he also had the reputation as a "glue guy" with the Dolphins within their locker room.
With the Falcons' holes at linebacker, Crowder would likely make a good addition to the team with his locker room presence. While he's looked at as an underachiever in Miami, he does have the talent to contribute in the NFL and will only be 29 years old at the start of training camp.
Despite already having their head coach for 2012 in place with Jeff Fisher, the St. Louis Rams still have had yet to hire a general manager.
That could change soon according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review as the Rams have obtained permission from the Pittsburgh Steelers to interview Omar Khan, who is currently with the Steelers under the title of director of administration.
Khan, age 35, has been with the Steelers since 2000 and has served as their salary cap manager and chief negotiator. Two years ago he was one of the two finalists for the Seattle Seahawks GM job that eventually went to John Schneider.
According to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from last week, the Rams were to have hired their general manager by now.
However they are still looking for the candidate that they feel is the best fit for their team. For right now, Khan seems to be the favorite.
After getting fired from the University of North Carolina, I knew it wouldn't be long before Butch Davis was back in the NFL in some capacity.
According to The Tampa Bay Times, Davis will come back to the NFL as senior defensive assistant under his one-time protege and defensive coordinator at the University of Miami, Bucs coach Greg Schiano.
Davis will help Schiano build a defensive staff and work with the eventual Bucs defensive coordinator. However, Davis won't be the Bucs defensive coordinator. This is likely due to the fact that he is owed $2.7 million by the University of North Carolina that he would lose if he took another coaching job.
How the title of "Senior Defensive Assistant" doesn't qualify as a coaching job confuses me, but hey, I can't blame the guy for trying to get every last penny he can grab.
We'd all do the same thing in his position after all.
Of course having Davis on Schiano's staff will also help with the transition from the college game into the NFL. Davis served as defensive line coach of the Cowboys under Jimmy Johnson from 1989-'92 and was Cowboys defensive coordinator from 1993-'95 before becoming the head coach at Miami.
He left Miami in 2001 to take over the head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns, where he went 24-35. He did however lead them to their first playoff appearance since they were reactivated as a franchise in 2002.
The Cowboys season technically came to an end not in their final game against the New York Giants on Jan. 1, but in their first game against New York on Dec. 11, when running back DeMarco Murray suffered a broken ankle.
However if you ask Murray himself, he'll tell you he's doing just fine.
In an interview with FoxSports.com, Murray stated he was "definitely ahead of schedule" and also gave an important date:
I think I start running on [Feb. 6] actually, so I'm excited to get back there.
This is welcome news for Cowboys fans, who likely saw their 2012 playoff hopes go down when Murray did.
In his first seven games as a starter, Murray rushed for 799 yards and two touchdowns on 164 attempts. He is expected to be the focal point of the Cowboys offense and take pressure off of Tony Romo and the Cowboys receivers in 2012.
Plaxico Burress spent much of 2011 getting re-acclimated to the NFL with decent numbers for a man who has been out of football for three years.
Burress ended the season with 45 catches for 612 yards and eight touchdowns last season for the Jets, but according to CSNPhilly.com he has already chosen his destination for 2012.
Burress apparently is interested in joining the Eagles.
Where he will fit in will depend on if the Eagles bring back free-agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson, but there is a good possibility of Burress joining the "dream team" for 2012 as they are the team atop his wish list.
In addition to possibly bringing back Jackson, the Eagles are already pretty stacked at wide receiver for 2012 with Jeremy Maclin as well as Jason Avant, Riley Cooper and Steve Smith, so where Plax would play if he signed with Philadelphia is a bit of a question.
Peyton Manning will be the hottest topic of discussion from now until he either retires or finds a new team this offseason. He could get an entire rumors slideshow dedicated to him (and don't think he won't soon) but for right now we will just round up all of the Peyton rumors onto one slide because there are so many.
Let's first start with the fact that there are conflicting reports about how healthy he is.
Let's start with an appearance on Bill Simmons' podcast "The B.S. Report" by NFL Network's Mike Lombardi. Lombardi mentioned that he has spoken to people about Manning's health and they had told him:
He can't throw the ball to his left! He can't throw the ball across his body because he doesn't feel it. People that catch the ball for him say he doesn't really have velocity on the ball yet.
Yikes, that's not good.
However, the man that drafted Peyton Manning, former Colts general manager Bill Polian, claims the contrary with Manning on another ESPN property—Pardon The Interruption:
It’s marked [improvement] from where he was back in September, He threw it accurately, he threw it with a good, tight spiral, and he threw it with velocity. Generally, he looked like a pretty confident quarterback out there.
It should be noted that Polian last saw Manning throw in December.
Polian's opinion wasn't too different from that of Manning's teammate Adam Vinatieri, who last week remarked:
I haven't watched him the last few weeks, but I did see him at the end of the season. He was developing nicely. Was he quite all the way back yet? No, probably not. Not to his standards.
But he definitely is not that far off.
That's how it's going to go with Manning until he's released apparently. Everyone will say something different. We're not going to know how healthy Manning is until he signs with a new team or retires, meaning signing Peyton Manning could turn out to be a huge gamble for any team to make.
But you will be watching to see where he goes, and you will be watching to see how he does.
Til next week, thank you for reading. Be sure to leave your comments and opinions about all of these rumors at the bottom.
And be sure to press the button I have at the bottom.