NFL News

Report: Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham has successful back surgery

Report: Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham has successful back surgery

New England Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham had successful back surgery earlier this week, according to a report from NFL Network. The veteran is expected to be out of commission for approximately 12 weeks.

The nature or severity of the back injury has yet to be reported or disclosed by the team. At the start of camp, he was placed on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list for "pain in his right shoulder and back while throwing the football," per an earlier report from The Athletic.

If his recovery proceeds as scheduled, he should be available to return to provide quarterback depth in mid to late October.

Stidham, 24, was expected to be the No. 3 quarterback behind Cam Newton and rookie Mac Jones this season.

He has appeared in eight games in his career for the Patriots after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, throwing for 270 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions.

On Wednesday, the Patriots claimed Jake Dolegala off waivers from Green Bay. Dolegala should compete with veteran Brian Hoyer for a roster spot this preseason.

Troy Polamalu may miss HOF ceremony with COVID-19

Troy Polamalu may miss HOF ceremony with COVID-19

Former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February 2020, and he'll be enshrined in the Hall one way or the other in about a week. He just may not be able to be there for the ceremony, after announcing Friday that he tested positive for COVID-19.

"Thank God I feel great and family are well," Polamalu announced on social media. "I'm working with the HOF to ensure we abide by all protocols to make it to Canton in time for all the festivities."

The Hall also commented on the situation, expressing disappointment for Polamalu. The Hall said it is working with health officials to determine whether he could be cleared to travel to Canton.

The enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 7.

Polamalu, a four-time first-team All-Pro and 2010 AP Defensive Player of the Year, totaled 32 interceptions and 783 tackles in a 12-year career. He retired following the 2014 season and was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Deluxe pass-catching RB Theo Riddick retires

Deluxe pass-catching RB Theo Riddick retires

Las Vegas Raiders running back Theo Riddick is retiring after seven NFL seasons.

The Raiders placed Riddick on the reserve/retired list Friday. Earlier this week, Riddick was put on the team's COVID-19 list.

Riddick, 30, excelled as a pass catcher out of the backfield with the Detroit Lions, catching a career-high 80 passes in 2015 and 247 over a four-season span.

After being released by Detroit in July 2019, Riddick joined the Denver Broncos but he missed the season after fracturing a shoulder during the preseason.

He joined the Raiders last season and played in just four games -- catching five passes for 43 yards and rushing six times for 14 yards.

Overall, Riddick rushed for 1,037 yards and five touchdowns and caught 290 passes for 2,281 yards and 14 scores since entering the league as a sixth-round pick by the Lions in 2013. He played collegiately at Notre Dame.

Also Friday, running back Kenyan Drake and defensive tackle Darius Stills were removed from the non-football injury list and returned to practice.

Packers to limit Aaron Rodgers' preseason throws

Packers to limit Aaron Rodgers' preseason throws

With no formal offseason preparation, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be limited in the preseason, coach Matt LaFleur told reporters Friday.

Locked in a stalemate with the Packers over his future this offseason, Rodgers didn't participate in any team workouts before reporting to training camp this week.

LaFleur said he met with Rodgers and discussed the amount of throws he'll make each day to spare "wear and tear" on his arm. He didn't specify the number but said the Packers will be keeping count.

ESPN reported that in the past three days, he averaged 14 throws during 11-on-11 drills.

LaFleur also confirmed Friday that backup quarterback Jordan Love will take the majority of preseason reps.

Rodgers, the reigning league MVP, said he considered retirement but he and the Packers reached a contract compromise to keep him in Green Bay.

ESPN reported he signed a reworked contract in which the Packers are voiding the 2023 season from the deal.

The report said that the Packers also removed certain forfeiture provisions from the contract that would have allowed the team to try to recoup portions of Rodgers' signing bonus should he retire.

Rodgers, 37, shared both the physical and mental preparation he did in the offseason via social media and addressed the mental aspect of sports this week.

"I think it's important that we work on our mental state. As you've seen with Simone Biles, I think there needs to be more conversation around that," Rodgers told reporters. "For me, it was just about clearing any of the clutter. That's what I tried to do this offseason by adjusting some habits and spending some time with my loved ones, traveling as safely and as often as I possibly could and then making sure I was ready to go if I came back."

Bills WR Cole Beasley releases anti-vaccination rap

Bills WR Cole Beasley releases anti-vaccination rap

Buffalo Bills wideout Cole Beasley released a rap song containing lyrics against receiving a COVID-19 vaccination shot.

Beasley's song titled "Heavy 1s" is an ode to both his uniform number (No. 11) as well as ... well, let him tell you.

"I got heavy nuts," is a prominent lyric, along with anti-vaccination lines such as "ain't no vaccination for me, only evacuation save 'em homie."

Beasley, who claims he is pro-choice in terms of information on vaccinations, didn't stop there.

"To shut my mouth you're going to have to kill me. If freedom of speech and freedom of choice go out the window then there's no freedom at all," Beasley said in the song.

Beasley has been outspoken against vaccinations, even threatening retirement at one point after the NFL and its players association announced new rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated players. He even got into it over social media with teammate Jerry Hughes on the topic, however Beasley noted that he had a calm conversation on the phone with the Bills defensive end.

As for his style of music, Beasley is not new to the rap game. He released his first album in 2018.

Beasley, 32, is coming off a season in which he recorded career highs of 82 receptions and 967 yards. He also had four touchdown catches.

Overall, Beasley has 468 catches for 5,016 yards and 33 touchdowns in 133 games (42 starts) over nine seasons with the Dallas Cowboys (2012-18) and Bills.

Dolphins CB Xavien Howard sits with ankle injury

Dolphins CB Xavien Howard sits with ankle injury

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard sat out Friday's training camp practice with an ankle injury sustained in practice on Thursday.

Howard did not suffer a serious injury, head coach Brian Flores said.

The cornerback has requested a trade, with multiple teams reportedly showing interest. An injury could derail a deal, but Howard insisted on Tuesday that he would comport himself professionally on and off the field.

Howard earlier this week released a statement on social media, saying he signed a five-year, $75.25 million contract extension in May 2019 "that I'll admit I didn't completely understand."

"I've played on that deal for two seasons and didn't complain, but everyone knows I completely outperformed that deal," Howard said in a Twitter post. "I'm one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and the tape backs up that claim. ... Yet, I'm the second highest paid cornerback on my own team, and it's not even close."

Howard, 28, said he never asked for a new contract.

"We wanted to work things out with the Dolphins, and brought solutions to the table -- like guaranteeing more money -- that we felt were win-wins for both sides. ... But the Dolphins refused everything we proposed. ... I don't feel valued or respected by the Dolphins. Just like they can take a business-first approach, so can I. That's why I want to make it clear I'm not happy, and have requested a trade."

Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick pushed for a trade out of Miami in 2019, landing with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fitzpatrick was dissatisfied with his role in the secondary with the Dolphins.

Howard led the NFL with 10 interceptions and 20 passes defended last season and added 51 tackles and one forced fumble in 16 games. He has 191 tackles, 22 interceptions and two forced fumbles in 56 career games (55 starts) since being selected by Miami in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (back, hips) sits out practice

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (back, hips) sits out practice

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce did not participate in practice on Friday, one day after experiencing tightness in his back and hips.

The NFL Network reported the move to keep Kelce from being active at practice is a precaution and not a sign of serious injury.

Kelce, 31, has recorded five straight seasons of 1,000-plus receiving yards. He set career-high totals in catches (105) and touchdowns (11) in 2020 while his receiving yards (1,416) served as an NFL record for tight ends.

Kelce has 612 catches for 7,881 yards and 48 touchdowns in 110 career games with the Chiefs.

Colts QB Carson Wentz out with foot injury

Colts QB Carson Wentz out with foot injury

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz is not practicing Friday due to a foot injury that ended his practice early the day before.

Wentz, acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles in an offseason trade, left Thursday's practice before it was completed, but his injury status wasn't known until Friday.

The Colts did not offer further details on the injury.

Without Wentz on the field, Jacob Eason was running the first-team offense to end Thursday's practice and again Friday.

Wentz has a history of injuries dating to his time at North Dakota State. With the Eagles, he suffered a rib fracture, torn ACL, back injury and concussion.

Eason was a fourth-round pick in 2020 but has no NFL game experience.

Bears TE Jake Butt retires at age 26

Bears TE Jake Butt retires at age 26

Chicago Bears tight end Jake Butt retired from the NFL, saying in a lengthy statement Thursday that he had lost passion for the game.

"Football gave me some of the best times of my life. Ironically, it also gave me some of my toughest times, which turned out to be the most important," he wrote. "The adversity that I faced in my career gave me some of the biggest opportunities to grow as a man."

Butt retires with 10 career receptions for 90 yards.

Butt was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fifth round of the 2017 draft, but spent his rookie season on injured reserve recovering from a torn ACL in his final game at Michigan.

Three games into his second NFL season, he suffered another ACL tear.

"This may come off as impulsive," Butt wrote. "Some may wonder, 'Why now?' when I was so close. But over time I've lost the passion that I once had for this game. I've battled through this feeling for a while now, but I can no longer ignore it.

"I will always cherish and love this game. It has given me some of my best memories, highest highs, my strongest friendships and my best lessons. But it's time for me to close this chapter and move on to a new one."

Report: Packers agree to void '23 from Aaron Rodgers’ deal

Report: Packers agree to void '23 from Aaron Rodgers’ deal

Aaron Rodgers signed a reworked contract with the Green Bay Packers on Thursday, ESPN reported, with the Packers voiding the 2023 season from the deal.

The report said that the Packers also removed certain forfeiture provisions from the contract that would have allowed the team to try to recoup portions of Rodgers' signing bonus.

Green Bay offered concessions to Rodgers to appease the reigning MVP quarterback and persuade him to report to the team for training camp. Over the offseason, Rodgers made clear he was unhappy with how the franchise had gone about its business and hadn't given him a larger say in matters relating to the team.

Of those concessions, it appears one was a trade with the Houston Texans to acquire former Packers receiver Randall Cobb, one of Rodgers' old favorite targets.

"Obviously without Aaron (Rodgers), I don't think we would be pursuing that," Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said Thursday. "Randall is still a really good player. ... This was a very important thing for Aaron, and that's why we did it."

Now Rodgers is not locked into staying Green Bay as long. It was previously reported that the Packers were prepared to agree with Rodgers to review his situation at the end of the 2021 season.

NFLPA president JC Tretter rips NFL's 'scarlet marking' for unvaccinated

NFLPA president JC Tretter rips NFL's 'scarlet marking' for unvaccinated

Unvaccinated players must mask up as part of the NFL protocol on COVID-related player safety. It's the next step of demarcation ruffling the feathers of Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter, the NFL Players Association president.

Tretter said Thursday he is entirely against forcing unvaccinated players to wear wristbands that denote vaccination status.

"It's a nonsensical idea," Tretter said. "They say they need a differentiator between vaccinated and unvaccinated players. We already have a differentiator. The unvaccinated players need to wear masks. No other sports league uses any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband, because they know it's not necessary and the teams know who's vaccinated, who's not vaccinated."

The Browns are one of the NFL teams who opted not to have their unvaccinated players wear wristbands. The stipulation has not been agreed to by the NFLPA and NFL, which bargained over several other elements within the safety protocol.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski said he will not "divide the team over this issue" and Tretter plans to continue fighting to give players on other teams the option of removing the bands.

"So what it really comes down to is the NFL wanted to put a policy in place to try to shame unvaccinated players publicly about their status and make that known to everyone on the field," Tretter said. "It shouldn't be the case because it's unnecessary. We all know who's vaccinated and who's not, and it doesn't need to be a scarlet marking on people's helmets or wrists."

The NFL said in a COVID-19 update on Thursday that 87.9 percent of players in training camps are vaccinated. Per the league, 19 teams have a vaccination rate over 90 percent.

The Indianapolis Colts and Washington Football Team remain among the least-vaccinated teams.

Dan Campbell: John Penisini had ‘softballs’ removed from shoulders

Dan Campbell: John Penisini had ‘softballs’ removed from shoulders

New Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell addressed the media Thursday and revealed a chunk of info about one of his players -- a softball-sized chunk.

Campbell noted the improved play of second-year defensive lineman John Penisini, whom he said has elevated his performance this summer, might be partly due to Penisini's health.

"John Penisini had what looked like softballs in his shoulder that he had repaired after the season, after the fact," Campbell said. "It just looked like a bunch of calcium deposits that had been in there. You wonder why, when you watch the film last year, why he's not using his arm. It's because he had issues."

Penisini, selected by the Lions in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, still put together a solid rookie campaign in spite of his "softballs." The 24-year-old defensive tackle started 12 games (playing in all 16 overall) and totaled 35 tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.

"It's a credit to him playing through it and all of those things," Campbell said. "He's better and you could see it yesterday. It was impressive."

Cardinals' COVID-19 list grows to eight players

Cardinals' COVID-19 list grows to eight players

The number of Arizona Cardinals players on the reserve/COVID-19 list has grown to eight.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury said Thursday from training camp in Glendale, Ariz., that center Rodney Hudson, offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Kelvin Beachum, and wide receivers Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson are in the COVID-19 protocols and would be put on the list.

They will join wide receiver Rico Gafford, offensive lineman Shaq Calhoun and cornerback Lorenzo Burns.

NFL Network reported Thursday that more than 90 percent of the Cardinals' players have been vaccinated. Fully vaccinated players can return to the team after two negative tests taken 24 hours apart. Under league rules, unvaccinated players are required to isolate for at least 10 days.

The Cardinals are scheduled to open the 2021 season on Sept. 12 against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. Their preseason schedule begins with a home date against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 13.

Jets reach deal with top pick Zach Wilson

Jets reach deal with top pick Zach Wilson

Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson and the New York Jets reached an agreement on a contract, ending the No. 2 overall draft pick's brief training camp holdout.

The deal is for four years and $35.15 million, with a $22.92 million signing bonus. The base salary grows in subsequent seasons, from $660,000 this year to $5.45 million in Year 4, per Spotrac. The Jets hold the fifth-year option.

Jets training camp opened Tuesday.

Per reporting from NFL Network, the holdout stemmed from offset language and signing bonus timing. The Jets were able to retain the offset language in exchange for a reworked signing bonus schedule. Wilson, who turns 22 next week, will receive the money within 15 days, ESPN reported.

The 6-foot-3 Wilson was the second quarterback selected in the 2021 NFL Draft behind Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, who went No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

A BYU product, Wilson threw for 3,692 yards and 33 touchdowns in leading the Cougars to an 11-1 record in 2020. For his collegiate career, he threw for 7,652 yards with 56 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

The Jets are scheduled to open the season Sept. 12 against their former starting quarterback, Sam Darnold, and the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.

Injured QB Dak Prescott dressed for padded Cowboys practice

Injured QB Dak Prescott dressed for padded Cowboys practice

Injured quarterback Dak Prescott took the practice field with the Cowboys on Thursday in Oxnard, Calif., one day after leaving a training camp session with a Grade 1 shoulder strain.

Prescott walked off the field with medical staff on Wednesday and was taken for an MRI, which revealed the mild strain in his right (throwing) shoulder.

The Dallas Morning News reported Prescott could miss multiple weeks to guarantee the strain is fully healed.

But Prescott, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Thursday, said he doesn't think the injury is serious and plans to practice with the Cowboys during camp.

Head coach Mike McCarthy will make the final call on the practice decision, but allowed Prescott to work with the team Thursday while forbidding throwing. McCarthy said the Cowboys are planning to reassess Prescott, but he'd likely be banned from throwing for a few days.

Prescott missed the final 11 games of the 2020 season with an ankle injury that required surgery.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection signed a four-year, $160 million contract in the offseason.

WFT QB Ryan Fitzpatrick willing to take team lead on vaccination info

WFT QB Ryan Fitzpatrick willing to take team lead on vaccination info

Washington Football Team quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is fully vaccinated and more than willing to be a sounding board for teammates who aren't yet certain about the COVID-19 protocol.

"I've had plenty of guys engage me in conversation, questions ... guys that have been vaccinated and guys that haven't been vaccinated," Fitzpatrick said. "I just tell them what I think. It's a personal choice. That's the end of the discussion for me. If you are making a decision on what you think is best for you and your family, beautiful. The decision might be different for me. That's the way I go about it, respect everybody else's decision."

WFT head coach Ron Rivera said at the start of training camp that he was "perplexed" by the low vaccination numbers for the team. Rivera survived cancer last year and is immunocompromised.

Fitzpatrick, 38, said six of his seven children are in school and "as soon as they are approved" to receive the vaccine, they will be.

"It's just kind of the world we're living in right now," Fitzpatrick said.

Eagles claim QB Jalen Hurts 'still in competition' to be starter

Eagles claim QB Jalen Hurts 'still in competition' to be starter

Quarterback Jalen Hurts brought fans to their feet at training camp Thursday with a long touchdown pass to first-round pick DeVonta Smith in a pairing the Philadelphia Eagles envision seeing much more of in 2021.

But first-year head coach Nick Sirianni would not label Hurts the starter at the position on Wednesday as rumors of the Houston Texans shopping Deshaun Watson floated their way to Philly.

Hurts started for the final month of last season after Carson Wentz was benched by Doug Pederson. Wentz was traded in the offseason to the Indianapolis Colts, and the Eagles didn't draft a challenger to Hurts in April.

"Right now, Jalen is in with the ones," Sirianni said of his training camp plans for the quarterback. "He's earned that because he's worked his butt off. We're hoping that he takes the reins and rolls with it and continues to just get good reps with the ones."

General manager Howie Roseman said the Eagles are not connected to every trade that spins in the rumor mill but did not entirely dismiss the notion of checking with the Texans on Watson's availability.

That didn't bother Hurts, who has played the role of leader and starter and appears intent on continuing in that capacity until Sirianni makes it official.

"I'm above it all. Control what I can. I'm here," he said. "That's what I'm doing, going out there to be the quarterback of this team."

Behind Hurts on the current depth chart are Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens. Both have starting experience but neither presents a serious threat to Hurts, who is more focused on convincing the Eagles he can be the long-term answer at the position.

Packers GM: Randall Cobb here only because Aaron Rodgers wanted him

Packers GM: Randall Cobb here only because Aaron Rodgers wanted him

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst did not mask his intentions in bringing back wide receiver Randall Cobb.

"Obviously without Aaron (Rodgers), I don't think we would be pursuing that," Gutekunst said Thursday. "Randall is still a really good player. Seeing him last night kind of reminded what an impact he'll have in our locker room, for our football team. This was a very important thing for Aaron, and that's why we did it."

Cobb, who turns 31 next month, was acquired Wednesday from the Houston Texans for a 2022 sixth-round pick. Houston will pick up $3 million of his salary to make the deal work under the salary cap.

Rodgers said Wednesday he deserves input on personnel matters that "directly impact" his job, and Gutekunst supported that notion, saying Rodgers "earned that right."

Rodgers described his relationship with Gutekunst as "professional" in a lengthy session with media on Wednesday. Gutekunst said Thursday it is highly important for him to repair his relationship with Rodgers. But he said it will take effort on both sides to rebuild bridges scorched by an offseason standoff that Rodgers said had him considering retirement.

Gutekunst said nothing needs to be done with Rodgers' existing contract, which expires after the 2023 season, but there are plans to address his deal. He disagreed with the sentiment Rodgers shared Wednesday on being a "lame duck quarterback."

"I've never looked at it like that," he said. "At the moment, he has three years left on his contract, so he's not going to be a lame duck. We may alter that, but even still it's not going to be one year left."

That's not the only contract matter on the front burner for the Packers.

All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams is in the final year of his deal and made it clear he wants to be the highest-paid player at his position. That would mean more than $27 million in annual salary with Arizona's DeAndre Hopkins pulling in $27.25 million annually. Gutekunst said the Packers don't see the Hopkins deal, which is more than $5 million more per season than the second-highest-paid receiver, Julio Jones, makes, as the benchmark.

"It's very important for us moving forward (with Adams and having) him as part of our football team and making it work," Gutekunst said.

Cobb played for the Packers from 2011-18 before spending 2019 with the Dallas Cowboys and 2020 with Houston. He had his best season in Green Bay in 2014, making the Pro Bowl with career highs in catches (91), receiving yards (1,287) and touchdown grabs (12).

Sean Payton frustrated with timing of Michael Thomas’ surgery

Sean Payton frustrated with timing of Michael Thomas’ surgery

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton expressed his frustration Wednesday that star wideout Michael Thomas did not undergo surgery on his ankle earlier in the offseason.

Thomas reportedly will miss the start of the 2021 season as he recovers from surgery on an ankle injury that has plagued him for some time. He had the surgery in June, and reports said his recommended rehab period is four months.

"It appears we're going to have to spend some time without (Thomas)," Payton told reporters Wednesday.

"It's disappointing and we'll work through it with the other players that are here. The surgery took place, and obviously we would've liked that to have happened earlier than later -- and quite honestly it should have."

Asked if there was a lack of communication between the Saints and Thomas' camps, Payton only replied, "Nope, I'm gonna leave it at that."

Thomas, 28, is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection. He set a single-season record in 2019 with 149 receptions for a league-best 1,725 yards.

But he was injured in the 2020 season opener and ended up with just 40 catches for 438 yards and zero touchdowns in seven games.

Thomas signed a five-year, $96.3 million contract extension in 2019. He is due to earn $12.6 million in 2021 between base salary and a restructured bonus.

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott leaves practice with sore throwing arm

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott leaves practice with sore throwing arm

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott pulled himself from drills and exited the team's first padded practice with a sore throwing arm on Wednesday.

Prescott walked toward a trainer on the sideline during practice and after a brief discussion, observed from a distance as Garrett Gilbert operated with the first-team offense. A short-time later, Prescott left the practice field but the Cowboys said the arm soreness is typical of training camp and not serious.

The Cowboys said Prescott "felt soreness in his throwing arm and didn't want to push it with deep throws today."

Prescott enters the 2021 season with a new long-term deal signed in the offseason worth $160 million over four years.

Team owner Jerry Jones said the Cowboys have "no concern" with Prescott's health after he ended the season on injured reserve with an ankle injury that required surgery.

Prescott said upon arrival at training camp in Oxnard, Calif., that he's in the best shape of his career. He missed the final 11 games of the 2020 season.