Recent NFL Player News

Patriots' Rob Gronkowski started thinking about retirement prior to playoffs

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been considering retirement "long before" this season's Super Bowl loss and recent concussion, according to Jeff Darlington of ESPN.

What It Means:

Some speculate that Gronkowski's retirement rumors are simply a tactic to sign a more lucrative contract, and it's hard to picture him walking away from the game entering his age-29 season. Still, his body has taken a lot of punishment throughout his career, and Gronkowki has indicated in the past that he doesn't spend his NFL earnings. The WWE is reportedly prepared to offer Gronkowski a contract if he were to retire from the NFL.

Gronkowski caught 8 touchdowns for 1084 yards across 14 games this season.

Source: Boston.com

A.J. McCarron believed to be Browns' top option among free agent quarterbacks

ESPN reporter Pat McManamon believes quarterback A.J. McCarron has taken over the Cleveland Browns' top options in free agency.

What It Means:

McCarron won his grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals, and was officially named a free agent on Thursday. He was nearly traded to the Browns this past season, and he has voiced his desire to play there. While Kirk Cousins is certainly an option, he would undoubtedly come at a higher cost. McCarron made just $735,000 in the final year of his rookie deal this past season.

Through 3 starts and 11 career appearances, McCarron has completed 64.7% of his passes for 920 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Source: ESPN

A.J. McCarron wins grievance against Bengals, becomes free agent

A.J. McCarron has won his grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals and the quarterback is now an unrestricted free agent.

What It Means:

During McCarron's rookie year, the Bengals placed him on the non-football injury list for a shoulder injury they felt he suffered while away from the team. Therefore, he didn't accrue a season toward free agency and was considered a restricted free agent. McCarron argued the injury was wrongly listed as non-football and an independent arbitrator has now agreed, with the 27-year-old quarterback earning unrestricted free agency as a result. Despite attempting just 133 passes in his career, McCarron is expected to get some looks as a potential starter this offseason. The Bengals will now need to find a new backup for Andy Dalton.

On a career-high 131 drop backs in 2015, McCarron posted 0.14 Passing Net Expected Points per drop back, the 12th-best mark among the 46 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs that year. He completed 66.4 percent of his 119 pass attempts for 854 yards while throwing 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Sebastian Janikowski wants to continue playing

Free agent kicker Sebastian Janikowski plans to continue his career, reports Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

What It Means:

"He plans on getting another job," agent Paul Healy told Gehlken. "Unfortunately, he had this back issue. He’s healthy now, and he’s ready to go." The injury that Healy referenced sidelined Janikowski for the entire 2017 campaign. Despite that and the fact he turns 40 in March, the veteran kicker will likely get an opportunity with another team this offseason.

In 2016, Janikowski made 29-of-35 field goals (82.9 percent) and 37-of-39 extra points (94.9 percent).

Broncos' Derek Wolfe says neck is 'fixed'

Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe said his neck is "fixed."

What It Means:

"I can turn my head like an owl. It’s crazy. I can look all the way behind me. It’s insane," Wolfe told 9 News. "I feel so much better." The 36-year-old lineman has been dealing with nerve pain in his neck since 2013 and only played 11 games last season before undergoing season-ending surgery, but he claims the procedure completely fixed the issue. It sounds like Wolfe may be ready for training camp.

Wolfe recorded 31 tackles (18 solo) with 2 sacks last season before landing on injured reserve.

Source: 9 News

Larry Fitzgerald tells Cardinals he will return next season

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald told new head coach Steve Wilks he will return for the 2018 season.

What It Means:

"Larry mentioned to me last night that he's coming back for the 2018 season," Wilks said on the Doug and Wolf Show. "He's totally committed, those are his words." Fitzgerald turns 35 in August and next season will be his 15th in the NFL. Despite his elder statesmanship, the veteran wideout finished 2nd in the league last season with 109 catches. It's worth mentioning that the Cardinals still need to find a quarterback, but Fitzgerald has proven he can remain effective regardless of who is throwing the football.

Fitzgerald averaged 12.9 FanDuel points per game this season, with 109 receptions for 1,156 yards and 6 touchdowns on 161 targets.

Sebastian Janikowski reportedly won't be brought back by Raiders

The Oakland Raiders told free agent kicker Sebastian Janikowski that they won't bring him back next season, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter.

What It Means:

Janikowski missed last season for the first time in his career since being drafted by the Raiders in the first round back in 2000. They will move forward with Giorgio Tavecchio. Despite turning 40 next month, Janikowski will likely get a chance with another team if he wants to continue playing.

In 2016, Janikowski made 29-of-35 field goals (82.9 percent) and 37-of-39 extra points (94.9 percent).

Chiefs will let Derrick Johnson become free agent

The Kansas City Chiefs will not re-sign inside linebacker Derrick Johnson when the new league year begins.

What It Means:

Johnson's contract will void at the beginning of the new year, which means he'll become a free agent at the age of 35. He has played all 13 of his seasons in Kansas City and started 15-of-16 games in 2017. He'll be looking for a part-time role elsewhere this offseason.

In 15 games, Johnson produced 48 tackles, 7 passes defensed and 1 forced fumble this season.

Source: Chiefs.com

Panthers' Luke Kuechly underwent shoulder surgery after season

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly underwent surgery on his right shoulder after the season.

What It Means:

This explains why Kuechly was absent from last month's Pro Bowl. We tentatively expect him to be ready for training camp this offseason.

Kuechly recorded 125 tackles (74 solo) with 2 sacks, 3 interceptions, 5 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, and 1 touchdown in 15 games last season.

Texans' C.J. Fiedorowicz mulling retirement

Houston Texans tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (concussions) revealed he is considering retirement.

What It Means:

Fiedorowicz has suffered four concussions since December 2016. The 26-year-old tight end says he plans on reporting for the Texans' offseason program and OTAs.

Fiedorowicz averaged 3.9 FanDuel points in five games last season, with 14 catches (22 targets) for 127 scoreless yards.

49ers' Reuben Foster arrested again for domestic violence, possessing assault rifle

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster was arrested Sunday morning in Santa Clara, California on charges "related to domestic violence," and for possessing an assault rifle.

What It Means:

This is Foster's second arrest in the past month, as he was popped for marijuana possession in Alabama on January 12. It's a concerning trend for the 2017 first-round pick, who also failed a drug test at the NFL Combine and was then kicked out of the event after an altercation with a hospital employee. After a promising rookie campaign, Foster will likely be hit with a lengthy suspension following this latest incident.

Foster recorded 72 tackles (59 solo) and 1 pass deflection in 10 games as a rookie for the 49ers.

Colts hire Eagles' OC Frank Reich to be the team's new head coach

The Indianapolis Colts have reportedly hired Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator Frank Reich as their next head coach, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.

What It Means:

Reich emerged as the early favorite after Josh McDaniels stunning reversal last week. They and coach have reportedly agreed on a five-year deal that is in the process of being finalized. Riech led the Eagles' offense to a remarkable turnaround, finishing third in points (28.6) and seventh in total yards (365.8) per game in 2017.

The Colts' offense struggled without Andrew Luck, finishing 30th in points (16.4) and 31st in yards (284.6) per game last season.

Patriots' Martellus Bennett a candidate for release

New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett is a candidate for release, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.

What It Means:

Bennett joined the Patriots after being waived by the Green Bay Packers midseason. However, he was limited to just two games before being placed on injured reserve with hamstring and shoulder injuries. The 30-year-old is under team control until next season, when he's due $6.5 million. He may be asked to take a pay cut. Otherwise, the Pats could save $6.2 million by releasing Bennett. Dwayne Allen would be a candidate for more snaps in his stead.

In 9 games across the Packers and Patriots, Bennett produced just 30 catches and 286 yards on 44 targets this season.

'Early vibe' is that Dion Lewis won't return to Patriots

The Boston Herald's Jeff Howe reports the "early vibe" is that running back Dion Lewis won't return to the New England Patriots in 2018.

What It Means:

Lewis is a free agent, and is in search of a three-year deal worth around $15-18 million and $10 million in guaranteed money. Given that, he's unlikely to return to New England. James White would see a boost if he heads elsewhere, as Rex Burkhead's also a free agent heading into the offseason.

In 2017, Lewis led the Patriots with 896 rushing yards and 6 scores on 180 carries. He added another 214 yards and 3 touchdowns on 32 catches in the Patriots' passing game.

Derrick Johnson expected to be released by Kansas City

ESPN's Adam Teicher expects the Kansas City Chiefs to release inside linebacker Derrick Johnson this offseason.

What It Means:

Both Johnson and Hali are expected to get the boot at some point. The veterans have shared the field in K.C. since 2006. At 35, Johnson received some pretty high grades from Pro Football Focus, but the Chiefs are looking to make some changes, and that includes moving Reggie Ragland to the inside spot. Letting Johnson walk would save the Chiefs $8.1 million against the cap.

In 15 starts, Johnson made 48 tackles with 7 passes defensed and a forced fumble this season.

Source: ESPN

Chiefs expected to release Tamba Hali

ESPN's Adam Teicher expects the Kansas City Chiefs to release outside linebacker Tamba Hali.

What It Means:

Dealing with a knee injury, Hali missed most of the 2017 season. At 34, he appears to be on the decline, and the Chiefs have to get snaps for guys like Dee Ford and Frank Zombo. The Chiefs would clear $7.6 million in cap space if they release the 5-time Pro Bowler.

In 5 games, Hali managed just a single tackle this season. He has 4 sacks in his last 2 seasons, after having 7 straight years of 6 or more.

Source: ESPN

Titans expected to release DeMarco Murray

ESPN's Cameron Wolfe predicts the Tennessee Titans will release running back DeMarco Murray this offseason.

What It Means:

This has been the expectation, with the Titans set to save $6.5 million with the move. After a nice 2016 campaign, Murray battled through injuries -- including a torn MCL --- this past season. If he's let go, Derrick Henry would be in line to take over the backfield.

Over 15 games, Murray turned 223 touches into 925 total yards and 7 touchdowns in 2017.

Source: ESPN

Patriots' Rob Gronkowski's retirement talk believed to be 'real'

MMQB's Albert Breer believes that the "rumblings" of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski retiring are "real."

What It Means:

Following the Patriots' Super Bowl loss, Gronkowski was asked about whether he'll be back next year. He was noncommittal on the topic and said he would be looking at his future in the coming weeks. Breer says that Gronk has "been responsible with his finances." Rumors have it that he doesn't even touch the money he makes from football, living off his endorsement money alone. While it's likely he returns, it's worth noting that he still has two years and $17 million remaining on his eight-year deal.

In the last 2 seasons, Gronkowski's missed 10 games due to injury. He hasn't played a full 16-game season since doing so back in 2011-12.

49ers sign Jimmy Garoppolo to a five-year, $137.5 million contract

The San Francisco 49ers have signed Jimmy Garoppolo to a five-year, $137.5 million contract, making him the highest-paid player in NFL history on an average-per-year basis.

What It Means:

Kirk Cousins has to like what he sees, as he's also looking at a big pay day this offseason. Garoppolo has only made seven career NFL starts, but he's remarkably won all of them, and played well down the stretch for the 49ers. It will be interesting to see how fantasy owners value Garoppolo in drafts next season.

Garoppolo averaged 15.4 FanDuel points in six games (five starts) for the 49ers this season, throwing for 1,560 yards with 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

Colts say Andrew Luck doesn't need more shoulder surgery

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) doesn't need another surgery, said general manager Chris Ballard.

What It Means:

"He doesn't need surgery," Ballard stated. "I've not gotten that from the two doctors. He's not throwing a football yet. Working on arm speed. He's not going to skip a step." Speculation began to swirl about Luck's progress after New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels backed out of the Colts head-coaching job on Tuesday night, but he's still expected to be ready by the start of next season.

In 2016, Luck dropped back 586 times, generating the second-most Passing Net Expected Points per drop back in his career, with 0.14.

Rangers trade MLB rights of Seahawks' quarterback Russell Wilson to Yankees for future considerations

The Texas Rangers have traded Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to the New York Yankees for future considerations.

What It Means:

Wilson has long said that he wanted to play for the Yankees, and apparently it will become somewhat of a reality. Wilson will join the Double-A Trenton roster and he is expected to appear sometime in February or March with the Yankees' Grapefruit League camp. Even though Wilson reportedly has no plans to leave football and start playing baseball full time, he at least has that option when he is done playing football.

Wilson ranked 12th overall in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) in 2017, and he averaged 22.4 FanDuel points per game.

Source: ESPN

Colts' Andrew Luck's shoulder reportedly still a concern

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's shoulder remains a point of concern for some, as certain doctors believe he may require additional surgery, reports Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

What It Means:

Luck missed the entire 2017 season due to complications from right shoulder surgery and still hasn't resumed throwing, so it's understandable that not every doctor in the profession is convinced of the quarterback's health. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported late last month that Luck was "very close" to resuming a throwing routine.

In 2016, Luck dropped back 586 times, generating the second-most Passing Net Expected Points per drop back in his career, with 0.14.

Josh McDaniels won't accept Colts' head coaching job, will remain with Patriots

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will not accept the Indianapolis Colts' head coaching position.

What It Means:

The Colts fired Chuck Pagano on the final day of 2017. However, they were expecting McDaniels to come aboard for his first head coaching job since 2010, when he last led the Denver Broncos. Schefter is reporting that owner Robert Kraft "sweetened" McDaniels' deal enough to make him stay. With him backing out in Indy, the Colts' front office will have to reboot their search and quick.

In McDaniels' last 6 years in New England, the Patriots' offense has ranked top-4 in points each season and has twice led the league in total yardage.

Donte Moncrief could be open to one-year deal with Colts

Free agent wide receiver Donte Moncrief may be open to a one-year deal to return to the Indianapolis Colts, suggests Mike Wells of ESPN.

What It Means:

Wells writes that Moncrief's "up-and-down play had many inside the organization frustrated," but that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the wideout is brought back on a short-term deal because T.Y. Hilton and Chester Rogers are the only notable receivers under contract for the Colts in 2018. Moncrief is still just 24 and is still one of the more physically-gifted players at his position, so coming back for a year with a healthy Andrew Luck (shoulder) under center could be the best fit for both sides.

Moncrief averaged 5.3 FanDuel points in 12 games (eight starts) for the Colts this season, with 26 receptions (47 targets) for 391 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Source: ESPN

Tavon Austin expected to be released by Rams

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin is expected to be released, according to Alden Gonzalez of ESPN Los Angeles.

What It Means:

As Gonzalez plainly states, "Austin no longer has a role on this team" and his release would save the Rams $3 million in 2018. He turns 28 next month.

Austin averaged 2.7 FanDuel points in 16 games (nine starts) for the Rams last season, with 13 catches (22 targets) for 47 scoreless receiving yards. He added 59 rushes for 270 yards and 1 touchdown on the ground.

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