News and Views
The Facts: The Texans didn’t want to give Hopkins a raise, which led him to become a Cardinal. The Cardinals, it seems, are far more open to the idea. Via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, Cardinals chairman Michael Bidwill said General Manager Steve Keim has had discussions with the representatives for his new wide receiver about a contract adjustment.
Diehards Line: The Texans apparently wanted rid of Hopkins because he wanted a new deal worth $18 million to $20 million per year. Hopkins has three years left on his current deal, at base salaries of $12.5 million, $13.5 million, and $13.915 million, which makes him vastly underpaid. After foisting a bad contract (unwanted running back David Johnson) off on the Texans in the heist, the Cardinals should be happy to pay one of the top players in the league at his position.
The Facts: Vinatieri's future remains an unknown. HC Frank Reich said Tuesday during a digital news conference that the kicking legend has not made a decision about whether he'd like to return for a 25th NFL season. "(We plan) to have a sitdown with Adam and see where he’s at once he’s a little further along in (the rehab) process," Reich said.
Diehards Line: Reich hasn't spoken with the future hall-of-famer in the past couple of weeks, but before the Colts facility was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he saw the 47-year-old there rehabbing his knee following season-ending surgery. If the NFL's all-time leading scorer wants to return, the Colts could have a tough decision to make. Vinatieri is a free agent, and the Colts already have a promising young kicker under contract in 23-year-old Chase McLaughlin. The Texas native connected on 5-of-6 field goals while drilling all 11 of his extra points over a span of four games with Indianapolis. Added to his totals from brief stints with the Chargers and 49ers last season, McLaughlin finished the year 18-of-23 on field goals (83.3%) and 26-of-26 on extra points. Vinatieri, meanwhile would be returning from the worst year of his professional career in 2019, missing 14 kicks — eight field goals and six extra points — before hitting injured reserve in Week 13 with an ailing knee.
The Facts: Fountain has signed his exclusive rights free agent tender from the Colts.
Diehards Line: The team made the announcement on Tuesday and there wasn’t much reason to think he’d hold off on doing so. Fountain lost the right to talk to other teams when the Colts tendered him, so there wasn’t much of a choice to make as long as he wanted to play in the NFL next season. Fountain was a 2018 fifth-round pick, but failed to make the team out of camp and landed on the practice squad. He came up to the active roster in December and appeared in one game. Fountain missed all of last season with an ankle injury.
The Facts: According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Seahawks have released Dickson.
Diehards Line:Dickson signed a three-year, $10.7 million contract with the Seahawks in 2018, with hopes that he’d step out of Greg Olsen’s shadow in Carolina and become a legitimate receiving threat. Now Olsen's arrival in Seattle is once again a factor in Dickson's career. The move clears $3 million in cap space.
The Facts: After Rivers signed with the Colts, he talked about the trust factor he had with HC Frank Reich and OC Nick Sirianni from their time together with the Chargers. Rivers cited that as a big reason for his interest in the team and the familiarity with the coaches extends tot he offense as well. Reich said on Tuesday, via Stephen Holder of TheAthletic.com, that Rivers already knows “80 to 85 percent of the offense.”
Diehards Line: As PFT notes, if there are any offseason programs in the NFL this year, they are going to be much shorter than usual and that will leave new members of teams with less of a chance to get acclimated to new schemes in a team setting. That will be a bigger problem for some players than others. And clearly, the Colts don’t think it is going to be a problem for Rivers at all. While some terminology has changed since they were last together with the Chargers, having the larger concepts down should be a plus for the Colts whenever they are able to get on the field together.
The Facts: The Dolphins signed Howard, a 25-year-old with four years in the NFL, because they need a running back focused on positive yards. Howard, who has been training in Aventura, says the Dolphins made no promises about any role. Another running back is likely to be added in the NFL Draft next month. “I’m not scared of competition,” Howard said. “Competition makes you better.” One thing Howard battled last season was a shoulder injury. For a while he really struggle to re-gain strength in the shoulder. “I’m back to 100 percent now,” Howard said. “It took a while, but I’m finally back to being 100 percent.”
Diehards Line: Howard ran for 1,313 yards and 1,122 yards in his first two seasons with the Bears. He regressed in his third season and was dealt to the Eagles. Howard had 4.4 yards per carry last season, which was just above his career average. Howard, a former fifth rounder from Indiana, has 30 rushing touchdowns in four NFL seasons. “The more I played I felt like this was the best style for me,” Howard said. “It worked the best for me. I’m not a make-you-miss guy. I can make people miss sometimes but that’s not really my game. So I stick to what I know.” The Dolphins will likely be fine with that.
The Facts: The Panthers have loaded up on receivers this offseason, adding Robby Anderson, Seth Roberts, Pharoh Cooper and Keith Kirkwood and re-signing DeAndrew White. That gives the Panthers 10 receivers and has raised a question about whether they might be looking to trade Samuel. But Joe Person of TheAthletic.com reports that the Panthers are not shopping Samuel and have no intention of trading him.
Diehards Line: Person does add, “Would they consider moving him if someone called with a strong offer? Maybe. But the Panthers are trying to give [Teddy] Bridgewater more weapons to succeed in [Joe] Brady’s offense, not fewer.” Samuel, a second-round choice in 2017, had his most productive season in 2019. He caught 54 passes for 627 yards and six touchdowns.
The Facts: The Chargers plan to ride Taylor as their veteran option, likely paired with a rookie quarterback selected in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. Despite the insistence from the organization that Taylor can be the starter, rumors and speculation continue to churn in the void. With L.A. boasting a deep roster outside of the quarterback position, Taylor believes if he's given a chance to be the starter, the Chargers can make noise in the AFC West. "We have a lot of talent on our team," Taylor told Gilbert Manzano of the Orange County Register. "If I am the guy that would be calling the shots, I know for sure that we'll go out and turn a lot of heads."
Diehards Line: Through his first nine seasons, Taylor has mostly played a backup role or stand-in for a younger quarterback. His lone chance at a full-time starting gig came in Buffalo, where he started 43 games from 2015-2017. Even then, he had to go through multiple QB competitions to keep the job. It was during that stint in Buffalo that he impressed current Chargers HC Anthony Lynn. After the Chargers announced Philip Rivers would depart after 14 years as the starter, L.A. was in on the Tom Brady sweepstakes. When TB12 chose Tampa Bay, the Chargers immediately made it known they were comfortable with Taylor entering the season as the starter. With Lynn wanting to run the ball more in 2020, the mobile QB could fit the scheme perfectly. That hasn't stopped discussions about current free agent Cam Newton joining L.A., especially after the ex-Panthers QB was seen working out in Atlanta with Taylor. The Chargers are likely to use their first-round pick to select a quarterback of the future as they open a new stadium in L.A. Whether they make a move to try to swipe Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa or sit and grab whichever young signal-caller lands in their lap at No. 6 is one of the biggest questions as we press toward the draft.
The Facts: In an offseason of uncertainty, it's sometimes good to hear NFL players aren't distancing themselves from tropey expectations for the upcoming campaign. Marvin Jones declared a big goal for the 2020 season during an Instagram Live conversation over the weekend. "I want to lead the league in -- I want over 15 touchdowns," Jones said. "Forget 10, I've had 10 already. I want (15). I want 1,400 (yards). Just stuff like that that drives me and every time I step on that line -- I'm going on Year 9 -- but every time I step on that line, it just fuels me to be great."
Diehards Line: Despite missing three games and playing with backup quarterbacks the second half of the season, Jones put up nine TDs and 779 yards in 2019. Four of his touchdowns came in one game against Minnesota, the second time he's accomplished the feat in his career. He earned 10 TD catches back in 2013 with the Bengals. Last season, Jones' teammate Kenny Golladay led the NFL with 11 touchdowns. Only two players since 2012 have compiled 15 touchdowns: Antonio Brown (15 in 2018) and Dez Bryant (16 in 2014). Former Lions receiver Calvin Johnson blasted past the plateau once, 16 in 2011. In NFL history, 33 players have earned 15 or more touchdowns in a season, with Randy Moss' 23 in 2007 breaking the record held by Jerry Rice (22 in 1987). Entering the final year of his contract with the Lions, Jones' goal is lofty. If Matthew Stafford stays healthy, however, the 30-year-old believes it's attainable.