Rounding Up the Latest Buzz from the NFL Offseason
There's a saying in the NFL that "there is no offseason."
That certainly seems to be the case. This year's draft drew the sort of TV ratings that MLB and the NBA only wish they could get for actual games.
We've moved on to the next step in the offseason that isn't, with teams across the league gathering for organized team activities, which is a fancy way of saying minicamp.
With that in mind, here's a look at the latest buzz from across the National Football League, beginning with yet another star player staring at a suspension this year.
The Latest on Ray Rice
That star staring at a suspension would be Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
That's the latest from ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who said of Rice on NFL Insiders Thursday (per Rotoworld), "He's gonna miss some time. The Ravens anticipate he's gonna miss some time."
Rice, who is coming off the worst season of his NFL career, entered a diversion program this week related to assault charges stemming from an incident in which he allegedly punched his now-wife in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino.
With video of Rice dragging the unconscious woman out of the elevator plastered all over the Internet, there's more than a little pressure on the commissioner's office to come down hard on Rice.
Despite his status as a first-time offender of the NFL's personal conduct policy, a two- or even four-game suspension would hardly be a shock.
More Police Blotter Action
It's good that OTAs are here.
Some players need all the "organized" and/or "mandatory" time they can get, because free time doesn't seem to suit them.
The latest player to run afoul of the law is Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward, who the Broncos signed away from Cleveland with a $23 million free-agent contract in the offseason.
Apparently, at least some was in singles.
According to Brian Maass of CBS4, Denver police issued an arrest warrant charging Ward with misdemeanor assault after an incident at an area strip club earlier this month.
Maass' colleague Vic Lombardi asserted sources insist Ward did nothing wrong.
Ward is expected to surrender himself and post bond Friday.
The moral of this story is clear: While playing in the NFL, avoiding strip clubs probably isn't the worst idea ever.
Michael Floyd Standing Out
Thankfully, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd is drawing attention for the right reasons.
The third-year pro, who topped 1,000 yards for the Cardinals last year, has impressed quarterback Carson Palmer with his development in workouts, according to Darren Urban of the Cardinals' website:
He [Palmer] praised Floyd’s concentration in traffic, his ability to beat Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson on a fly pattern and the way Floyd has worked on his flexibility under new strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris.
Now, Palmer said, Floyd is more fluid. He runs effortlessly, catches the ball effortlessly.
“I have very high expectations for Mike this year,” Palmer said.
Floyd paced the Redbirds in both yardage and yards per catch in 2014. If his ascension continues at this rate, the changing of the guard at wide receiver in Arizona may come sooner than we thought.
Patriots "Not Interested" in Mallett Trade
During the 2014 NFL draft, rumors swirled that the New England Patriots and Houston Texans were discussing a trade that would send Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett south, per Tom E. Curran of CSSNE.com.
Well, Mallett is still in New England, and while head coach Bill Belichick didn't provide a definitive answer (because, you know, he's Bill Belichick), it doesn't sound like Mallett is headed anywhere anytime soon.
As Nick Underhill of MassLive reports, Belichick more or less shot down the trade while speaking with SiriusXM Radio:
[Trading Mallett is] not really something we’re that interested in. Fortunately for our team, maybe unfortunately for Ryan, he hasn’t really had any playing time in the last three years. He’s improved tremendously as a quarterback and as a football player. We have a lot of confidence in him. At the same time, he’s in the last year of a contract.
If that last part sounds to you like Belichick leaving the door open a bit, it's because of course he did.
After all, he's Bill Belichick.
No "Open" QB Competition for New York Jets
When the New York Jets signed quarterback Michael Vick earlier in the offseason, many pundits suggested it was only a matter of time until the veteran supplanted second-year pro Geno Smith as the starter for Gang Green.
They may have spoken too soon.
As Dom Cosentino of NJ.com reports, Vick conceded to reporters that "it's not an open competition" between him and Smith. In fact, the 33-year-old sounded very much like a man resigned to being a backup:
It's still tough right now—I won't lie. Deep down, you always want to be a starter, you always feel like you're a starter, and that's just the competitive nature in me. Hopefully, that opportunity will come again one day. I've just got to keep working for it.
Granted, a lot can change between now and September, but as things stand today, Smith's lead in the race to start for the Jets appears significant.
A.J. to Be MIA for OTAs
The Houston Texans haven't kicked off OTAs yet, but when they do next week, it will be without one of the team's offensive stars.
In fact, the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday (via colleague Dan Hanzus) that not only will wide receiver Andre Johnson skip OTAs next week, but the 32-year-old plans to sit out the mandatory minicamp that follows.
This news comes on the heels of Johnson's comments last week to reporters, such as Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, when Johnson publicly questioned his future with the team:
I just look at my career. … I’ve only been to the playoffs twice. I think we’ve only had three winning seasons. I don’t think any player wants to experience that. I think over time it can become very frustrating. And this offseason has been very frustrating for me.
However, a trade remains unlikely. A trade involving Johnson would saddle the Texans with over $11 million in dead money on the cap, and one of the few teams capable of pulling off such a deal with Houston isn't interested.
At least, that's what Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer told Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com:
He's my age. He's 33 [at the start of next season]. The question is, when do you hit the wall? You never know where the wall is until you hit it. Do you ride them all the way to the wall? Or do you give them up a year in front of the wall?
Johnson can grouse all he wants, but odds are he is starting for the Texans come Week 1.