BRYCE YOUNG AGREES TO 4-YEAR FULLY GUARANTEED DEAL WITH PANTHERS WORTH NEARLY $38M, AP SOURCE SAYS
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers and No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young agreed to a four-year contract, the team announced Friday.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press the fully guaranteed deal is worth $37.9 million. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose the terms publicly.
The deal comes just four days before the Panthers are to report to training camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina. All of Carolina’s draft picks are now under contract heading to camp.
The Panthers traded up with the Chicago Bears from the ninth spot to get Young, giving them a potential long-term solution at quarterback — a position where they have struggled to find stability for years.
The 5-foot-10, 204-pound Young won the Heisman Trophy in 2021 for Alabama, where he was a two-year starter for the Crimson Tide. He finished second in school history with 8,356 career yards passing and 80 touchdowns.
He took over first-team reps in OTAs and is tracking to be the team’s Week 1 starter.
JETS WOULD BE ‘SHOCKED’ IF AARON RODGERS’ STINT IN NEW YORK ISN’T MULTIPLE SEASONS
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers might be sticking around with the New York Jets a bit longer than many first thought.
The 39-year-old quarterback has not committed beyond this season, but he has strongly hinted several times his first year with the Jets won’t be his last.
Rodgers reiterated that sentiment Friday during an appearance on the “DiPietro & Rothenberg” show on ESPN Radio in New York.
“The Jets gave up a lot for me, so to play just one year. I think, would be a disservice,” Rodgers said. “Now if that one year turns out to be a magical year, who knows? It’s more than that, it’s how my body feels.”
In other words, a run to the Super Bowl could change all that.
But short of that, the Jets expect Rodgers to be under center next season — and perhaps beyond.
“I would be shocked if he didn’t play multiple years,” coach Robert Saleh said. “I mean, he looks like a little kid out there.”
Rodgers said in the radio interview a tweaked diet and training regimen has his body feeling “really, really good” at this point in the year.
“Talk to me in three or four months, we’ll see how it feels,” he said. “But the way I feel now, I think I could play a number of years.”
Rodgers was acquired by New York from Green Bay in April, bringing the four-time NFL MVP to a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in 12 years — the longest active drought in the league. During his introductory news conference, he talked about how “lonely” the Jets’ Super Bowl trophy from 1969 looks and the goal is to add another to a team starving to be a winner.
After his first training camp practice with the Jets on Thursday, Rodgers raved about the young talent the team has and how it has energized him in his 19th NFL season.
“You’ve got a good window,” he added. “It’s not just a one-year thing where you can be competitive, which is fun.”
The Jets went all in on bringing Rodgers aboard, sending a first-, second- and sixth-round pick in this year’s draft to the Packers, along with a conditional second-rounder next year that could become a first-rounder if the quarterback plays at least 65% of the snaps — which New York hopes will be the case. Green Bay gave up first and fifth-round picks this year, along with Rodgers.
Rodgers, who turns 40 in December, contemplated retirement during the offseason before going into a darkness retreat over the winter to clear his mind and decide what he wanted for his future. He determined he wanted to continue playing football — and intended to do so with the Jets.
That sent the wheels in motion for the trade, which took several weeks of negotiations between the sides before it was completed.
Saleh said Rodgers hasn’t told the team what his plans are beyond this season, but the Jets also aren’t pushing him to do so.
“I don’t want to back him into a corner and make him commit to something like that,” Saleh said. “I just want him to have fun and know that when he walks in this building to let loose and have a little bit of fun, B.S. with the guys, come in the office, come talk to us and just enjoy playing football.
“Odds are, if you enjoy playing football, you’re going to want to keep doing it.”
On Thursday, Rodgers spoke about being more patient now at this point in his career with the process, not getting agitated if things aren’t working early in training camp and focusing on getting better as the summer goes along to build for the season.
He also noted the differences between playing in New York and Green Bay, including the increased media attention and additional hype with “Hard Knocks” featuring the Jets this year.
“Yeah, it’s spectacular,” Rodgers said. “I mean, that’s what you want. You want to be a part of a place that has high expectations. And there’s a lot of positivity around here, which I think is a good thing.”
NOTES: The Jets signed DL Ifeadi Odenigbo and RB Damarea Crockett and released TE Izaiah Gathings. Odenigbo has 14 career sacks in six NFL seasons that include stints with the Vikings, Browns, Cardinals, Giants, Colts and Buccaneers. Crockett, who missed last season with a torn ACL, has experience with Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett from their time in Green Bay and Denver together. He also had stints with the Texans and Raiders.
ANALYSIS: PARTY ON, COMMANDERS FANS! SNYDER’S DEPARTURE IS BIGGEST WIN IN 31 YEARS
Football fans in the nation’s capital are enjoying their biggest victory since Joe Gibbs’ Hogs won their third Super Bowl 31 years ago.
It may take a while before Washington celebrates similar on-field success.
Getting rid of owner Dan Snyder is the first step toward rebuilding a once-proud franchise, but it won’t be easy after decades of decline.
The Commanders’ new ownership led by Josh Harris and including Magic Johnson have plenty of major challenges ahead. Harris outlined his priorities Friday.
“I’m stressed. Training camp is next week and the first game is six weeks away,” said Harris, who also co-owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. “We’ve got to get the team ready to win football games. We’ve got to get out in the community and start to pay it forward as Magic said and we’ve got to change the fan experience.”
Snyder’s 24-year tenure was filled with futility and disgrace. The team won just two playoff games in only six postseason appearances and the team’s stadium has aged poorly, causing fans to stay away.
Snyder’s behavior that ultimately led to his departure — the NFL fined him $60 million for improprieties corroborated by its investigation into workplace culture and business dealings — will remain a stain on the organization for the foreseeable future while the new regime works to build a winner and fulfill its goals.
Changing the team’s name again could eventually be part of the clean-slate process, but that may take some time. Harris made it clear winning over Washington’s long-suffering fan base is the immediate goal for a group that spent a record $6.05 billion on the franchise.
During the team’s glory days, fans sang “Hail to the Redskins” — the team’s former name, which was considered a racial slur against Native Americans and was dropped in 2020 — and crammed into raucous, intimate RFK Stadium in Washington, where some seats literally shook during touchdown celebrations. That atmosphere vanished entirely at the team’s current home, FedEx Field in suburban Maryland, which was rushed to completion by Snyder’s predecessor, Jack Kent Cooke.
“We’re going to throw a party every other Sunday,” Harris said. “When you have guests in your house, you treat them well. You don’t have couches that are broken. You don’t have TVs that aren’t working. That’s what we’re focused on right now. As far as the stadium experience long run, we would love to have a stadium where opposing players fear to come and our players love to come and our players love to come and feel welcome. That’s what I experienced at RFK. Whatever happens at the stadium, that’s the kind of stadium experience I want to create.”
Considering the jubilation fans have shown since Snyder’s departure, the new owners could enjoy a longer honeymoon period than usual. Revved-up fans partied at a pep rally at the stadium Friday while the owners met the media.
“I’ve waited seven years to see the fan base like this,” defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said.
The elation over the sale of the Commanders undoubtedly was felt inside NFL headquarters. The Snyder saga has dogged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s 31 other owners for too long.
“It’s a hallmark day,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after his peers unanimously approved the sale Thursday.
However, the league’s initial handling of an independent investigation into workplace misconduct led to a congressional review and included a referral to the Federal Trade Commission for potential business improprieties by Snyder.
That’s still a black eye for the NFL. The league won’t suffer. It never does.
For now, it’s all about the Washington fans. Maybe one day they’ll be singing: “Hail to the … Commanders or RedWolves or …”
BROWNS WR MARQUISE GOODWIN TO MISS START OF TRAINING CAMP WITH BLOOD CLOTS IN LEGS, LUNGS
CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns wide receiver Marquise Goodwin will miss the start of his first training camp with Cleveland due to blood clots in his legs and lungs.
Goodwin signed a free agent deal with the club in February, giving quarterback Deshaun Watson a much-needed deep threat. The 32-year-old Goodwin dealt with discomfort in his legs and shortness of breath during spring practices. A checkup revealed the blood clots.
“It was really alarming at first because I’ve experienced injury throughout my career, but it’s never been anything like this that could turn into something detrimental if it’s not taken care of,” Goodwin said in a statement released by the team.
“It was frightening at first, but now I’m at ease with it. I’ve prayed and just given it over to God. It’s out of my control, and the only thing I can control is my effort and attitude and how I approach each day moving forward.”
Goodwin was with Seattle last season. He’s played in 102 NFL games and recorded 187 receptions for 3,023 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Browns are counting on him to stretch defenses and expected him to be in their rotation along with Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Goodwin was drafted in the third round by Buffalo in 2013. He spent four seasons with the Bills before playing three seasons in San Francisco.
The team did not say when Goodwin can resume football activities. He plans to attend training camp, which opens Saturday in West Virginia.
“It’s really an unfortunate deal we have to deal with, but we need to deal with it in the proper fashion,” he said. “The Browns are doing everything in their power to support me through it by allowing me to be around the team, on the field and in meetings.
“I’m grateful for that, and hopefully this thing gets back under control and I can feel my body and what I need to feel so I can help this team make this run.”
RAVENS AGREE TO 1-YEAR DEAL WITH RB MELVIN GORDON AND PUT DOBBINS ON PUP LIST
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens have agreed to a one-year deal with running back Melvin Gordon, pending a physical.
The Ravens announced the move on Friday, the same day they put running back J.K. Dobbins and fullback Patrick Ricard on the physically-unable-to-perform list. They also put defensive tackle Rayshad Nichols, wide receiver Mike Thomas and defensive back Pepe Williams on the PUP list.
Baltimore put linebacker Tyus Bowser on the non-football injury list and receiver Rashod Bateman on the did-not-report list.
The 30-year-old Gordon spent his past three seasons with the Denver Broncos. He ran for a career-low 318 yards on 90 carries in 10 games in 2022. Gordon was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2017 with the Los Angeles Chargers and ran for over 900 as recently as two seasons ago.
WITH BARKLEY UNCERTAIN, GIANTS ADDED DEPTH WITH RB JAMES ROBINSON AND WR COLE BEASLEY
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — With less than a week until the opening of training camp, the New York Giants have signed running back James Robinson and receiver Cole Beasley.
The team didn’t disclose details of the deals.
The addition of Robinson provides depth at running back and insurance in case of any potential holdout for star Saquon Barkley. Barkley was unable to get a new contract from the Giants ahead of this week’s deadline for players on a franchise tag to reach multi-year deals.
Barkley is one of centerpiece of the offense, with the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2018 running for 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns to go with 57 catches for 338 yards receiving last season.
Robinson grabbed headlines in 2020 as an undrafted free agent who ran for 1,070 yards and seven scores to go with 344 yards receiving with three more touchdowns with Jacksonville. But he tore his Achilles in 2021, split last season between Jacksonville and the New York Jets, then had a brief offseason stint with New England.
Beasley’s addition reunites him with Giants head coach Brian Daboll, who previously had worked as Buffalo’s offensive coordinator during Beasley’s time there. Beasley had his best season (82 catches, 967 yards) under Daboll in 2020, and is entering his 12th NFL season.
VETERAN EDGE RUSHER DAWUANE SMOOT RE-SIGNS WITH THE JAGUARS ON A 1-YEAR, $2.25M DEAL
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Veteran edge rusher Dawuane Smoot signed a one-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday that includes $2.25 million guaranteed.
The Baltimore Ravens helped get the deal done. Smoot had a visit to Baltimore lined up for next week, a pending trip that prompted the Jaguars to hasten negotiations. The sides settled on a low-risk deal for the Jaguars that includes plenty of performance incentives for Smoot, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon sustained in December.
Smoot’s contract could max out at $6.25 million, although that’s highly unlikely since he’s expected to start training camp and the regular season on the physically unable to perform list. The team hopes he can return in mid-October.
The Jaguars released defensive lineman Nick Thurman to make roster space for Smoot.
A third-round pick by Jacksonville in 2017, Smoot has 22 1/2 sacks over the last four seasons. He played in 15 games off the bench in 2022, notching five sacks, before ending the year on injured reserve.
Once fully healthy, he’s expected to assume a backup role behind starters Josh Allen and Travon Walker.
NFL PREVIEW: JACKSONVILLE
Doug Pederson quickly cleaned up the mess left by Urban Meyer and turned the Jaguars into AFC South champions in 2022.
The Jaguars were ahead of schedule in their rebuilding project, but they had their struggles during Pederson’s first season as head coach. They needed a five-game winning streak to end the regular season with a 9–8 record and earn a playoff spot. And they did just that.
But what truly made Jacksonville’s surprising season special was the thrilling comeback playoff win against the Chargers (and then also pushing the Chiefs in the divisional round).
The Jaguars are for real, and Duval County has plenty to be excited about for the 2023 season. After a rocky rookie season, Trevor Lawrence has developed into a star quarterback, and he will have plenty of help on the offensive side with No. 1 wide receiver Calvin Ridley.
Biggest gamble this offseason: Quiet offseason after Ridley trade
Technically, the Jaguars’ biggest gamble (no pun intended) was trading for Ridley midway through the 2022 season, which Ridley missed completely because he was suspended for violating the league’s gambling policy while with the Falcons. This was part of why the Jaguars passed on making splash moves this offseason. (They were also limited with cap space after splurging the prior year in free agency.) Ridley could be the missing piece for Jacksonville to be a legitimate contender in the stacked AFC, and not just the pesky surprise team from a year ago. But adding Ridley doesn’t fill needs at other areas on the Jaguars’ roster, with question marks on the offensive line, and at edge rusher and linebacker. But if Ridley develops quick chemistry with Lawrence, the Jaguars could be a tough team to beat this season.
Toughest stretch of the season: Weeks 13 to 15
Fortunately for the Jaguars, their toughest stretch only spans a few games. But it’s a gauntlet against three AFC North opponents, starting with a home matchup against Joe Burrow and the Bengals. (The December game has the makings to be one of the better games of the regular season, and could serve as a playoff preview.) The Jaguars then travel to Cleveland to face the Browns, who had a busy offseason making splash moves on both sides of the football. The Jaguars conclude the AFC North tour with a home game vs. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Jaguars, Bengals, Browns and Ravens are all postseason teams.
Breakout player to watch: S Andre Cisco
Cisco showed flashes as a surprise rookie gem from Meyer’s lone season in Jacksonville. Pederson noticed Cisco’s potential and made him a first-time starter last season. The 2021 third-round pick emerged as a consistent playmaker in the Jaguars’ secondary, and now he’s poised to be one of the better safeties in the league. Cisco recorded three interceptions, 10 passes defended, 73 tackles and had a touchdown return.
Linebacker Devin Lloyd is another option here, but the 2022 first-round pick struggled in many areas throughout his rookie year. He might not have a breakout season, but expect him to have a promising ’23.
Position of strength: Skill positions
Ridley admitted he played on a broken foot during the 2020 season, when he recorded a career-high 1,374 receiving yards in Atlanta. It was his unique way of saying he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL, when he’s on the field. If Ridley returns to top form, the Jaguars might have one of the best skill position groups in the league—one that includes the receiving trio of Ridley, Christian Kirk and Zay Jones. Last season, tight end Evan Engram also found his footing in Jacksonville after a few rocky seasons with the Giants. Plus, running back Travis Etienne, who can also contribute out of the backfield as a pass catcher, is coming off a breakout season after missing all of his rookie year due to injury.
Position of weakness: Offensive line
When the Jaguars allowed offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor to join the Chiefs in free agency, it created plenty of uncertainty on the offensive line. Walker Little will take over as the starting right tackle, but the 2021 second-round pick has had many highs and lows in his six career starts. To make matters worse, left tackle Cam Robinson was recently suspended the first four games of the season for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy. The Jaguars’ offensive line will be shaky at times, forcing Lawrence to use his mobility to escape pressure.
X-factor: Edge rusher Travon Walker
Walker disappointed in his rookie season after being selected with the No. 1 pick of the 2022 draft. Nonetheless, if he’s able to make strides this offseason, the Jaguars could have one of the best defenses in the league. Josh Allen is a quality pass rusher, but the Jaguars are hoping to have two or three reliable players at the position with Walker and K’Lavon Chaisson (who has struggled since entering the league as a ’20 first-round pick).
Sleeper fantasy pick: RB Tank Bigsby
Bigsby isn’t going to usurp Etienne as the Jaguars’ top back, but he could be a valuable fantasy handcuff. There’s talk that the rookie could earn some early-down and goal-line opportunities, so he’s going to be well worth a late-round flier, especially if you draft Etienne. —Michael Fabiano, SI Fantasy
Best bet: Take the over on Trevor Lawrence’s 3975.5 passing yards
Lawrence took a huge step forward last season under the purview of Pederson, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t take another this season. Lawrence passed for 4,113 yards in 2022, and this year he will add Ridley to his arsenal. —Jennifer Piacenti, SI Betting
Final record: 12–5, first in AFC South