Dress rehearsals will officially be cut in half on Thursday when the NFL does what’s long been expected by reducing the number of pre-season games from four to two, according to multiple reports.
This is welcome news to fans, but maybe not so much to teams as they try to prepare for a 2020 campaign that yet may turn out to be a mirage.
Either way, four weeks before camp is scheduled to begin — and with the “will they or won’t they” play question still very much up in the air — forever optimistic Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says his team has actually improved during the pandemic.
“We killed it during the offseason in a way I couldn’t envision it going as well as it did,” the 68-year-old told USA Today. “It went great, and we accomplished a lot, and we’re smarter than we’ve ever been. Hopefully, we’re really going to make a turn here that’s extraordinary. There’s so much happening even though we’ve been sitting at home. It’s just amazing.”
If he’s excited, Seahawks fans should be pumped. After a pair of 7-9 seasons to start what is now a 10-year run as the Seahawks coach, Carroll has guided the team to an 86-41-1 run and a 1-1 record in Super Bowl games.
They could very well surpass their 11-win 2019, which ended in a close, 28-23 divisional round playoff loss to the Packers, especially if they re-sign Jadeveon Clowney, who is the undisputed best player still available on the free agent market now that Cam Newton has signed with the New England Patriots.
Meanwhile, the NFL and NFLPA reportedly want to have an agreement on all important issues by next week, between July 8-10, allowing players time to complete travel arrangements.
Making that more difficult is a record surge in the number of people who have tested positive throughout the U.S.
“There are a lot of questions unanswered, and even when you do come up with an answer, it brings up three more questions,” NFPA president J.C. Tretter told USA Today. “It’s kind of constantly trying to plug the holes, and you’re just trying to stay afloat.”
JONES-ING FOR A DEAL: Just when you’d think everyone would be happy simply being able to play through a pandemic, along comes Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones, who says he’ll follow in LeVeon Bell’s footsteps in 2018 and “won’t play” unless he gets a deal that pays him at least $20 million a year. As impactful on a game as he can be, Jones, who is currently set to make $16.1 million on a franchise tag, was ranked the seventh-best interior lineman in 2019 by Pro Football Focus. Aaron Donald of the Rams and DeForest Buckner of the Colts are the only two tackles making $20 million-plus. The Chiefs have two weeks to figure out a way to appease Jones with a long-term deal. Good luck with that.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Not that it wasn’t going to happen, but the Green Bay Packers have reached a deal with quarterback Jordan Love, their first-round pick (26th overall) in this year’s draft. According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Media, Love is receiving a signing bonus of $6.6 million and a fully guaranteed $12,383,470 over four years. Love is the sixth first-rounder to have signed, joining Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins, fifth overall), Derrick Brown (Panthers, seventh), Austin Javon Kinlaw (49ers, 14th) Jackson (Dolphins, 18th) and Brandon Aiyuk (49ers, 25th) … The Packers have also inked second-round pick A.J. Dillon, the former Boston College rusher who will compete for playing time in a backfield that includes Aaron Jones (19 TDs in 2019) and capable backup Jamaal Williams. Dillon ended a three-year run in B.C. last year with 1,685 rushing yards and 14 TDs.
CAM’S THE MAN: Speaking on 670 The Score in Chicago, Redskins coach Ron Rivera said Newton, his former QB in Carolina, is “about as healthy as it gets, from what I’ve seen on video. I think he’s ready to bust out. I would never bet against the young man, that’s for sure.” So why didn’t Rivera find a way to sign Newton instead of another former Panther, Kyle Allen, to go along with unproven 2019 first-rounder Dwayne Haskins? Surely, there’s some way he could have made it work under the cap. And how cruel was it of Rivera to make that statement in Chicago, where Newton could be a better option than Nick Foles, if not also Mitch Trubisky? … Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, a Patriot from 2007-2010, believes New England’s offence is going to be more “fun” with Newton rather than Tom Brady under centre. “I think being able to have a guy like Cam Newton that can run the ball, they are able to spread guys out, and then being able to be that viable threat in the passing game that he can just tuck the ball and run. There is going to be a change in New England.” … Michael Felger, a radio sports talk show host in Boston, is adamant about Newton not doing his trademark Superman touchdown celebration in New England, where it would be against the Patriots Way. “Bill (Belichick) doesn’t want to see Superman,” stated Felger. “He doesn’t want you taunting the opponent like that.” Maybe not, but vehemently objecting was Rich Eisen of the NFL Network. “This is absurd,” Eisen said on Twitter. “Cam is an absolute delight. He gives football fans to delighted children when he scores. Way to cement the stereotype that Boston sports fans are only happy when they’re unhappy.”
EXTRA POINTS: SoFi Stadium, the new home of the Rams and Chargers, announced Wednesday that construction of the largest videoboard in sports has been completed. How large is large? Well, it is 70,000 square feet and longer than a football field, stretching 120 yards. It also weighs 2.2 million pounds, with 260 speakers and a wattage that can power 1,500 home theatre systems … Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher told The Athletic that he and his wife, singer Veronica Stigeler, have recovered from coronavirus after testing positive in April … According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Media, teams were informed on Wednesday that there will be no supplemental draft in 2020.
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