NFL News

Brandon Aiyuk: 49ers 'don't want me back'

Brandon Aiyuk: 49ers 'don't want me back'

Brandon Aiyuk shed light on his increasingly dim contract negotiations with the San Francisco 49ers.

The wide receiver posted a TikTok video on Monday of a FaceTime call he had with rookie Washington Commanders quarterback Jayden Daniels.

In the video, Aiyuk tells Daniels, "They said they don't want me back."

Daniels, Aiyuk's teammate at Arizona State in 2019, responds, "That's it?"

"I swear," Aiyuk said.

Aiyuk is set to make $14 million in 2024 to complete his rookie deal. He is seeking a hefty extension, reportedly for at least $30 million annually.

Justin Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings), A.J. Brown (Philadelphia Eagles) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (Detroit Lions) have all earned contracts this offseason worth $30 million-plus per year.

Multiple media outlets reported earlier this month that Aiyuk's negotiations with the 49ers were not progressing well.

As part of his holdout, Aiyuk didn't participate in the 49ers' offseason program and skipped the team's mandatory minicamp. The latter absence could result in a fine of more than $100,000.

The 26-year-old is coming off a year in which he caught 75 passes for a career-high 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns. In 62 NFL games (60 starts), he has 269 receptions for 3,931 yards and 25 TDs.

Browns GM: Deshaun Watson ahead of schedule in rehab

Browns GM: Deshaun Watson ahead of schedule in rehab

Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry said quarterback Deshaun Watson is "really" ahead in his rehab from surgery on his throwing shoulder.

Berry told NFL Network on Monday that Watson has "worked his tail off" as he gets ready for Cleveland's training camp next month.

"He's really champing at the bit to (go full speed), but really, he's had a really nice spring," Berry said. "He's thrown the ball well. Did a really nice job during our seven-on-seven and team periods during this veteran minicamp, so we're excited as he gets into training camp and gets the pads on.

"He's making excellent progress. Honestly if you didn't know he got hurt last year, you really wouldn't be able to tell the difference. We're very excited once camp starts."

Watson sustained a displaced fracture in his right shoulder in a Nov. 12 game against the Baltimore Ravens last season. He underwent surgery later that month.

Watson, 28, has played just 12 games for the Browns over two seasons since they acquired him from the Houston Texans. He served an 11-game suspension to begin the 2022 season for violating the league's personal conduct policy, in connection to lawsuits from more than two dozen female massage therapists alleging sexual harassment and assault.

Then, multiple injuries limited Watson to six games in 2023, when he threw for 1,115 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 61.4 percent of his passes.

Watson, a three-time Pro Bowler during his time with Houston, has thrown for 16,756 yards, 118 touchdowns and 45 interceptions in 66 games (65 starts) since entering the league in 2017. He has a 36-29 record as a starter.

Bengals re-sign WR Tee Higgins to 1-year franchise tag

Bengals re-sign WR Tee Higgins to 1-year franchise tag

Cincinnati wide receiver Tee Higgins, designated as the Bengals' franchise player on Feb. 26, has signed a one-year contract, the team announced Monday.

Higgins, 25, hasn't taken part in any offseason activities, including the recently concluded three-day mandatory minicamp, as the fifth-year receiver sought a long-term extension and reportedly requested a trade.

Instead, he can be expected to report to training camp after signing the $21.8 million franchise tag. Now, the Bengals will have some time to try to work out a long-term extension with Higgins before the July 15 deadline. They also have their other starting receiver, three-time Pro Bowl selection Ja'Marr Chase, due for an extension and huge payday.

"I'm excited to move forward with Tee," Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Monday. "He's done a great job handling his situation, and we are happy to get him back in the fold so we can start working toward a great 2024 season. The locker room will be excited to have him back around."

Higgins was limited by hamstring and rib injuries in 2023, forcing him to miss five games. Still, he caught 42 passes for 656 yards and scored five touchdowns.

A second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Clemson, Higgins has appeared in 58 regular-season games (53 starts) and caught 257 passes for 3,684 and 24 touchdowns.

He has added 31 receptions for 457 yards and three scores in seven playoff games.

'Hard Knocks' to feature all AFC North teams in season

'Hard Knocks' to feature all AFC North teams in season

The Pittsburgh Steelers will make their "Hard Knocks" debut as HBO's sports documentary series for the first time chronicles an entire division this coming season.

"Hard Knocks: In Season with the AFC North" will debut at 9 p.m. ET on Dec. 3 on HBO and will be available to stream on Max. New episodes will premiere on subsequent Tuesdays through the end of the regular season and into the playoffs in January.

Cameras will be trained on the Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens -- featured in the original "Hard Knocks" training camp series in 2001 -- Cincinnati Bengals (2009, 2013) and Cleveland Browns (2018).

"Last season the AFC North became the first division ever to have all four teams finish with a winning record, making it the perfect place to launch this new approach to ‘Hard Knocks,'" Keith Cossrow, NFL Films vice president and head of content, said in a statement on Monday. "We thank the Bengals, Browns, Ravens and Steelers for the opportunity to showcase some of the greatest rivalries in football and present the intensity of a playoff chase from all four corners of this incredibly competitive division."

The series has expanded to three versions this season. A five-week run of a new spinoff endeavor, "Hard Knocks: Offseason with the New York Giants," will debut on July 2, followed by training camp coverage of another franchise making its debut, the Chicago Bears, for five weekly episodes of "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Chicago Bears" from Aug. 6 through Sept. 3.

Chiefs DL Isaiah Buggs arrested in Alabama

Chiefs DL Isaiah Buggs arrested in Alabama

Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs was booked on a domestic violence/burglary charge Sunday morning in Alabama.

According to online records from the Tuscaloosa County, Ala., jail, Buggs was released on $5,000 bond, reported on Sunday.

The arrest continues a tumultuous offseason for both Buggs and the Chiefs.

Buggs was charged with animal cruelty last month in Tuscaloosa after two dogs under his care -- a Pitbull and a Rottweiler mix -- were found to be negelected and severely malnourished, reported. One of the dogs had to be euthanized.

In that case, authorities charged him with two misdemeanor counts of second-degree animal cruelty.

In a statement to, Buggs' agent said the player denied the charges and said the city had an ulterior motive in filing those charges.

"We believe the City of Tuscaloosa's decision to file charges today is part of a concerted effort by the City of Tuscaloosa and Tuscaloosa Police Department to besmirch Mr. Buggs' name and reputation as part of an ongoing subversive campaign to force the close of his local business Kings Hookah Lounge," the statement from Trey Robinson said.

Robinson also wrote that Buggs had been arrested twice on unspecified misdemeanor charges this offseason but the records weren't public.

Buggs, who played college football at Alabama, was selected by the Steelers in the six round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He spent three seasons in Pittsburgh and the past two with the Detroit Lions. Released in January by the Lions, he signed with the Chiefs.

The 27-year-old Buggs has played in 56 games (23 starts) and posted 89 tackles, 12 quarterback hits and two sacks. He returned one fumble for 33 yards.

Also among the Chiefs, receiver Rashee Rice also is facing eight felony charges, including six counts of collision involving injury, following a six-vehicle crash March 30 on a Dallas highway. According to an arrest-warrant affidavit, he was driving 119 mph and caused the crash.

Last month, Chiefs offensive linemen Chukwuebuka Godrick and Wanya Morris were arrested in Johnson County, Kan., on misdemeanor possession of marijuana. They were released from jail after posting bond.

Reports: Bengals WR Tee Higgins to sign $21.8M franchise tag

Reports: Bengals WR Tee Higgins to sign $21.8M franchise tag

The Cincinnati Bengals expect wide receiver Tee Higgins to sign his franchise tag on Saturday and show up to training camp next month, according to multiple media reports.

Higgins will make $21.8 million in 2024, far eclipsing the $10.1 million he's earned in the four years since the Bengals selected him No. 33 overall in the 2020 draft.

Now, the Bengals will have some time to try to work out a long-term extension with Higgins before July 15. They also have their other starting receiver, Ja'Marr Chase, due for an extension and huge payday.

Higgins, 25, hasn't take part in any offseason activities, including the recently concluded three-day mandatory minicamp.

Quarterback Joe Burrow said he's eager to start throwing to Higgins again.

"Tee and I are always talking," Burrow said, per ESPN. "I've seen Tee several times this offseason. He looks great. Whenever he's ready to come back, I'll be excited to see him."

Higgins was limited by hamstring and rib injuries in 2023, forcing him to miss five games. Still, he caught 42 passes for 656 yards and scored five touchdowns.

In a Bengals uniform, Higgins has appeared in 58 regular-season games (53 starts) and caught 257 passes for 3,684 and 24 touchdowns.

He has added 457 yards and three scores in seven playoff games.

Reports: Lions to sign UFL kicker Jake Bates

Reports: Lions to sign UFL kicker Jake Bates

The Detroit Lions are planning to sign UFL kicker Jake Bates to a two-year-deal, multiple outlets reported Saturday.

Bates can be signed as early as Tuesday, based on UFL rules.

He spent the spring with the Michigan Panthers and made 21 of 28 field goals, including a 64-yard attempt and two others of at least 60 yards. He also made visits to the Washington Commanders and Green Bay Packers but chose to say in Detroit, where he kicked at Ford Field for the Panthers.

The Lions currently have veteran Michael Badgley and James Turner, and undrafted rookie who played at Michigan, vying for the job at kicker.

Badgley, who turns 29 next month, spent parts of the past two seasons with the Lions, his fifth team. In 16 regular-season games with Detroit, Badgley has made 24 of 28 field goal attempts with a long of 53.

The Lions are expected to keep at least one kicker on the practice squad.

Bates, 25, played his senior season in 2022 at Arkansas, where he was a kickoff specialist and didn't attempt field goals. He was named to All-SEC first-team after leading the conference with an average of 64.47 yards per kickoff.

Commanders sign No. 2 pick QB Jayden Daniels

Commanders sign No. 2 pick QB Jayden Daniels

The Washington Commanders signed quarterback Jayden Daniels to his rookie contract on Friday.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft inked a four-year deal worth $37.75 million.

All the money for the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner is guaranteed and includes a $24.3 million signing bonus.

All contracts involving first-round selections include a fifth-year team option.

Daniels completed 72.2 percent of his passes for 3,812 yards, 40 touchdowns and four interceptions last season at LSU. He also rushed for 1,134 yards and 10 scores in 12 games.

The Commanders also signed tight end Ben Sinnott (second round) and offensive tackle Brandon Coleman (third round) on Friday, meaning all nine members of the draft class are under contract.

Chargers bring S Tony Jefferson out of retirement

Chargers bring S Tony Jefferson out of retirement

The Los Angeles Chargers announced the signing of formerly retired safety Tony Jefferson on Friday.

Jefferson, 32, last played for the New York Giants in 2022 and announced his retirement in May 2023.

The California native spent last season as a scouting intern with the Baltimore Ravens, one of his former teams.

Undrafted out of Oklahoma in 2013, Jefferson appeared in 113 games (67 starts) with the Arizona Cardinals (2013-16), Ravens (2017-19, 2021), San Francisco 49ers (2021) and Giants (2022). He recorded 492 tackles, 9.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and four interceptions.

Terms of Jefferson's deal with the Chargers were not disclosed.

Chiefs' new Super Bowl rings feature factual error

Chiefs' new Super Bowl rings feature factual error

The Kansas City Chiefs' new Super Bowl rings are a sight to behold, complete with 529 diamonds, 38 rubies and 14.8 carats worth of gems.

Unfortunately, they also feature an error in the engraving.

On the inside band of the ring, there is a rundown of the Chiefs' postseason victories listed. While it's true that Kansas City recorded a 26-7 win over Miami in the wild-card round, the Dolphins were erroneously listed as the AFC's seventh seed. Miami, in fact, was the sixth seed.

Given all that went into winning Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers, it's likely the Chiefs are willing to look past the inaccurate seeding of their wild-card foe.

Reports: Dolphins, DE Calais Campbell agree to deal

Reports: Dolphins, DE Calais Campbell agree to deal

Calais Campbell is returning to South Florida where his football career began.

The 37-year-old defensive end agreed to a free agent deal with the Miami Dolphins, multiple media outlets reported on Thursday. Terms of the contract were not reported.

Campbell was selected out of the University of Miami in the second round of the 2008 draft by the Cardinals. He spent nine years in Arizona before playing three seasons apiece for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens.

Last season, Campbell started all 17 games for the Atlanta Falcons, registering 6.5 sacks -- his highest total since 2018. He added 56 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a safety.

The six-time Pro Bowl honoree was chosen as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's All-2010s Team.

In 244 career NFL games (225 starts), Campbell has 105.5 sacks, 865 tackles, 17 forced fumbles, 13 fumble recoveries, three interceptions and three safeties.

The Dolphins were looking for pass-rushing help with Bradley Chubb (Achilles) and Jaelan Phillips (ACL) coming back from serious injuries sustained late last season while Christian Wilkins exited as a free agent to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Miami brought in free agent Shaq Barrett, then chose Chop Robinson (first round) and Mo Kamara (fifth round) in the draft.

Reports: Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence signs 5-year, $275M extension

Reports: Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence signs 5-year, $275M extension

The Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Trevor Lawrence agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $275 million with $200 million guaranteed, NFL Network and ESPN reported Thursday.

The deal would give Lawrence $55 million per year, tying Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals for the highest average annual value among NFL quarterbacks.

Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, would have played the 2024 season for $5.6 million on his rookie deal if no long-term deal had been reached.

Lawrence, 24, made the Pro Bowl in 2022 and is 20-30 as a starter, passing for 11,770 yards with 58 touchdowns and 39 interceptions through three seasons. He has rushed for 964 yards and 11 scores.

He threw for 4,016 yards, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 16 games in 2023, missing one game due to injury. The Jaguars missed the playoffs despite an 8-3 start to the season.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara seeks new contract, exits minicamp

Saints RB Alvin Kamara seeks new contract, exits minicamp

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara left Thursday's mandatory minicamp prior to the final practice session due to contract-related reasons, his agent told NFL Network.

Kamara participated in the morning walkthrough before leaving the facility.

He has two seasons remaining on a five-year contract, although that final campaign in 2025 may not come to pass. He is set to earn a base salary of $10.2 million in 2024 before it expands to $22.4 million the following year.

Kamara, who will turn 29 next month, rushed for 694 yards and five touchdowns and added 75 catches for 466 yards and a score in 13 games last season. He was suspended for the first three games of the campaign because of an off-field incident in Las Vegas.

A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Kamara has rushed for 5,829 yards and 54 touchdowns while making 505 catches for 4,219 yards and 23 scores in 101 career games with the Saints.

Bucs' first-round C Graham Barton signs contract

Bucs' first-round C Graham Barton signs contract

Center Graham Barton signed his four-year rookie contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday.

The team announced the signing but not the terms for Barton, who was selected with the 26th overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft out of Duke. Multiple reports said the fully guaranteed deal is worth approximately $14 million with a $7 million signing bonus.

All contracts involving first-round selections include a fifth-year team option.

The signing of Barton came one day after second-round outside linebacker Chris Braswell inked his deal for the Bucs. Tampa Bay previously signed all of its other selections from the draft.

Barton, 22, played with the first-team offensive line during the Buccaneers' three-day minicamp.

"I still have to earn it," he said. "At least in my mind, you've got to earn it every day and you've got to show that you belong. Obviously, that's what I want to do. I'm here to contribute just like everyone else. So my mindset is just to bring it every day (and) embrace my role. Just showing up every day and earning it each and every single day, never sitting there and saying, 'I've got it.'"

Jets sign edge rusher Takkarist McKinley after tryout

Jets sign edge rusher Takkarist McKinley after tryout

The New York Jets announced the signing of free agent edge rusher Takkarist McKinley on Thursday.

The former first-round draft pick attended the team's minicamp this week on a tryout basis. Terms were not disclosed.

McKinley, 28, last played a game in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams during the 2022 season.

He played his first four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons after being picked 26th overall in the 2017 draft.

McKinley has 20 sacks and 53 quarterback hits in 64 games (27 starts) with the Falcons (2017-20), Cleveland Browns (2021) and Rams (2022).

NFL punishes Falcons for tampering; Eagles cleared

NFL punishes Falcons for tampering; Eagles cleared

The Atlanta Falcons were stripped of their fifth-round pick in next year's draft for violating the NFL's anti-tampering policy, the league announced Thursday.

The Falcons also were fined $250,000 and general manager Terry Fontenot $50,000 for the team's improper contact with prospective unrestricted free agents Kirk Cousins, Darnell Mooney and Charlie Woerner prior to the start of the 2024 league year.

Also on Thursday, the NFL informed the Philadelphia Eagles that it did not discover sufficient evidence to support a finding that the team violated the league's anti-tampering policy.

The NFL was looking into the Eagles' pursuit of free-agent running back Saquon Barkley. The Penn State product inked a three-year, $37.75 million contract that includes $26 million guaranteed at the signing.

Cousins agreed to a four-year, $180 million contract with $100 million guaranteed shortly after the opening of the league's legal tampering window.

"While the policy permits clubs to engage with and negotiate all aspects of an NFL player contract with the certified agent of any prospective unrestricted free agent during the two-day negotiating period, any direct contact between the player and an employee or representative of the club is prohibited," the league said in a statement to the Falcons. "This includes discussion of travel arrangements or other logistical matters, which the club acknowledges took place with regard to these three players."

The Falcons released the following statement in response to league's conclusion:

"We are pleased this review is complete. We cooperated fully with the league and its review, and appreciate the NFL's thoroughness. As we do with every process, we will review how we operate and look for ways to improve."

As for clearing the Eagles, the league issued the following statement:

"In coming to this conclusion, the league reviewed phone logs, text messages and other documents related to Philadelphia's free agent strategy and decision to sign Barkley."

The Miami Dolphins forfeited their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and a third-round selection in 2024 for tampering with quarterback Tom Brady and coach Sean Payton.

The Kansas City Chiefs lost their third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and a sixth-round selection in 2017 for tampering with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in 2015.

The Dolphins and Chiefs also were fined as part of their respective punishments.

Bengals C Ted Karras signs extension through 2025

Bengals C Ted Karras signs extension through 2025

The Cincinnati Bengals signed center Ted Karras to a one-year extension through the 2025 season on Thursday.

Per ESPN, Karras' contract now pays him $6.6 million in each of next two seasons.

Karras, 31, started all 17 games and played 99 percent of the Bengals' offensive snaps last season.

A two-time Super Bowl champion with New England, Karras has played in 126 games (82 starts) with the Patriots (2016-19, 2021), Miami Dolphins (2020) and Bengals.

New England drafted Karras in the sixth round in 2016 out of Illinois.

Report: Saints TE Juwan Johnson to have foot surgery

Report: Saints TE Juwan Johnson to have foot surgery

New Orleans Saints tight end Juwan Johnson will have surgery next week for a foot injury, ESPN reported Thursday.

The team is optimistic that he will be ready for the start of the regular season on Sept. 8, per the report.

Johnson, 27, was not on the field for Tuesday's practice that kicked off a three-day minicamp.

He caught 37 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games (11 starts) last season.

Undrafted in 2020, Johnson has 96 catches for 1,074 yards and 15 TDs in 50 games (29 starts) for the Saints.

Pats retire Tom Brady's number, announce statue plans

Pats retire Tom Brady's number, announce statue plans

The New England Patriots, while inducting Tom Brady into their Hall of Fame on Wednesday, delivered a few surprises for the legendary quarterback.

Team owner Robert Kraft revealed that the Patriots are retiring Brady's uniform No. 12 and are commissioning a 12-foot-tall bronze Brady statue that will be installed during the 2024 season.

"(The statue) will stand alone in the plaza outside of the Hall of Fame to symbolize his position, not as the greatest in franchise history, but as the greatest in all of NFL history," Kraft said.

The ceremony drew a crowd of 60,000 to the Patriots' home stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The three-hour festivities included appearances by scores of Brady's former teammates and ex-Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. It was the first time Belichick returned to Foxborough since he resigned at the end of last season.

Brady gave thanks to all, saying, "I am eternally grateful. I am Tom Brady. And I am a Patriot."

He added of Belichick, "It wasn't me. It wasn't you. It was us. ... Let me make this crystal clear: There is no coach in the world I would rather play for than Bill Belichick."

Brady, playing under Belichick, spent 20 years with the Patriots, leading the team to six Super Bowl championships. He later added another title with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Belichick, greeted with huge cheers from Patriots fans, said to Brady, "Thank you for all that you've done for us. Thank you for all you've done for me. And thank you for the example and motto you've been for all of us on a daily basis for 20 years. Congratulations."

One of Brady's top rivals, Peyton Manning, also attended, chatting with Brady alongside ceremony host Mike Tirico.

Manning said, "You knew when you were playing against a Tom Brady team, you better be at your best, cause if you weren't, Tom Brady was going to beat you every time."

Brady added, "I think that I could never have been the type of player that I was without having someone like Peyton that I had to aspire to be like. And I looked at him as the gold standard for quarterback play, and I still do. There's nobody like Peyton Manning out there right now."

Brady, 46, was a three-time NFL Most Valuable Player who holds the league records for completions (7,753), pass attempts (12,050), passing yards (89,214) and touchdown passes (649).

Broncos' Sean Payton, pleased with QBs, ends minicamp early

Broncos' Sean Payton, pleased with QBs, ends minicamp early

The Denver Broncos are entering a new era under center, and so far, coach Sean Payton likes what he sees.

Denver moved on from veteran Russell Wilson in March, releasing him and watching as he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers on a one-year deal. Now the Broncos find themselves with a young quarterback room consisting of Jarrett Stidham, Zach Wilson and rookie Bo Nix.

Stidham is headed into his fifth NFL season, including last season with Denver, while Wilson enters his fourth pro campaign. Nix was the 12th overall pick in this year's draft.

"We gave all three of these guys (a lot of reps) and of course Jarrett is a year further along relative to understanding it," Payton said on Wednesday following the Broncos' second practice of mandatory minicamp. "The two younger guys -- and I say the two younger guys, but the two new players -- both Zach and Bo had a lot of install in a short period of time.

"Realistically in the season, you spend a week on one plan. Here, we are moving. Overall, though, it's what we saw and what we evaluated and that is encouraging."

Still, Payton has yet to officially name a starter. He also noted that there wasn't anything that happened during minicamp that changed his perception of Stidham, Wilson or Nix.

"It went how I wanted it to go," Payton said of the offseason program. "Again, I've said this not only at that position but the inside linebacker position, the cornerback position and the safety position, we will have a plan when we start camp and then we begin to make some decisions relative to reps and all of that.

"Now it kind of went like we expected. A lot of good things and a lot of good stuff to coach off of and things to correct."

Payton was so satisfied that he ended up deeming Wednesday the final day of the offseason program. Denver will not practice on Thursday.

"I felt that we had a really good offseason program," Payton said. "The key for all of these guys is during the 5 1/2 weeks that they are away is maintaining their conditioning level. There will be a few guys who will stay here rehabbing injuries. Overall, I think it went well."

Vikings coach: Sam Darnold favorite to enter camp as QB1

Vikings coach: Sam Darnold favorite to enter camp as QB1

Veteran Sam Darnold likely will be the No. 1 quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings when training camp opens next month, head coach Kevin O'Connell told reporters Wednesday.

"We haven't had to put out a depth chart or anything like that, but I would say Sam would be the guy I would look to," O'Connell said.

However, Darnold shouldn't start snapping up tickets to give to family and friends for the season opener on Sept. 8 against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. Rookie J.J. McCarthy, selected No. 10 overall in April's NFL draft, could have something to say about that.

O'Connell also addressed the quarterback hierarchy in two interviews this week. On Tuesday, he told "Mad Dog Sports Radio" that there will be a QB competition.

"At the quarterback position, look, we're really excited about Sam," O'Connell said. "Really kept a close eye on his quarterback journey and not all quarterback journeys are the same. Although the position tends to catch a lot of eyes and a lot of different coverage from a standpoint of what a guy is and isn't -- wins and losses and all those things -- but ... circumstances and environment that those guys are in play a lot to do with it and play a lot into it."

The New York Jets selected Darnold No. 3 overall in the 2018 draft and gave up on him after three seasons, sending him to the Carolina Panthers in a trade before the 2021 season for three draft picks, the highest a second-rounder. After two seasons in Carolina, he signed as a free agent with the San Francisco 49ers and backed up Brock Purdy in 2023.

He has played under five different head coaches in six seasons.

"Sam's had a heck of a quarterback journey. I think he's learned a lot along the way and I'm really excited about the time in his career in which we're getting him in our building," O'Connell said on "Mad Dog Sports Radio."

"I feel strongly about his ability to continue his, even at this point in his career, continue his development and what can he become within playing quarterback in our offense with the type of players we have around him, all well knowing that we're going to have a competitive environment with J.J. McCarthy, with Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall."

Darnold, who turned 27 last week, has a 21-35 record as a starter, completing 59.7 percent of his passes for 12,064 yards with 63 touchdowns and 56 interceptions.

McCarthy, 21, led Michigan to a national championship in January, but NFL scouts reportedly thought he could benefit from at least one season on the bench, learning and watching.

Speaking Monday on "The Rich Eisen Show," O'Connell implied McCarthy is going to have to wow the coaching staff to overtake Darnold for the Week 1 start.

"We do have a plan for J.J. -- a long-term plan. We see him as our quarterback of the future, and when that ultimately starts, with him taking game reps under center, will really be about that process of getting there and demonstrating that he's got total comfort in the system," O'Connell said.

"So then, the natural learning environment that is playing quarterback in the NFL ... we want to make sure it's the right time and J.J. feels 100 percent confident that he can not only go in and have success but then also, when adversity does hit, is he attacking it the right way from a foundation that hopefully we've built up over a long time."

Jets coach, Aaron Rodgers 'on the exact same page'

Jets coach, Aaron Rodgers 'on the exact same page'

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh downplayed the notion of a rift with Aaron Rodgers after the star quarterback's unexcused absence from the team's mandatory minicamp.

"Aaron and I are on the exact same page," Saleh said Wednesday before the final practice session. "There's no issue between Aaron or his teammates, for that matter.

"We addressed it yesterday. It's more of an issue for everyone outside the building than it is inside. That's about it."

Rodgers, 40, has been at the team facility for most of the spring. Rodgers, who told Saleh that he had a prior commitment, joined edge rusher Haason Reddick in failing to show on Tuesday.

"Selfishly, I want all our guys here all the time, but when you get to these mandatory things, you make the best decision for yourself," Saleh said. "Obviously, selfishly I want all of them here all the time, but he made a decision and that's what he went with."

A four-time NFL MVP, Rodgers followed a celebrated tenure with the Green Bay Packers by playing just four snaps before suffering an Achilles injury during his debut with the Jets on Sept. 11, 2023.

Rodgers passed for 59,055 yards, 475 touchdowns and 105 interceptions in 230 games (223 starts) for the Packers from 2005-22, compiling a record of 147-75-1. He made 10 Pro Bowls and led Green Bay to a Super Bowl XLV victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Agents: Giants signing former Jaguars CB Tre Herndon

Agents: Giants signing former Jaguars CB Tre Herndon

The New York Giants are signing veteran cornerback Tre Herndon, his agents said Wednesday.

Herndon, 28, participated in a minicamp tryout with the Giants on Tuesday.

David Canter and Ness Mugrabi of GSE Worldwide confirmed the transaction with NFL Network.

Herndon recorded 46 tackles and nine passes defensed in 16 games (four starts) with Jacksonville in 2023.

He had three interceptions and 243 tackles in 83 games (34 starts) with the Jaguars since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2018.

Broncos' coach Sean Payton in no hurry to name a starting QB

Broncos' coach Sean Payton in no hurry to name a starting QB

Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton is in no hurry to name a starting quarterback.

The first game is still three months away and he still needs to study a QB room that includes journeyman Jarrett Stidham, rookie Bo Nix and recently acquired Zach Wilson.

But the question keeps coming -- who is your quarterback, coach?

"Here we go again," Payton said with a laugh at Tuesday's minicamp session. "I don't have a date, I have a gut (feeling)."

Stidham has the edge in June as the lone one of the three quarterbacks to be with Denver last season. Soon to turn 28, Stidham threw 66 passes while getting a year of the Payton system under his belt.

"He's doing well," Payton said of Stidham. "Clearly, within the framework within what we're doing, he is much further along than in Year 1 in the transition. I'd say he's looked really sharp during this offseason program.

"(He is) real decisive. I think the leadership he is able to provide there, and there's good competition."

The Broncos released Russell Wilson in March after two seasons, necessitating the club to look for a potential franchise quarterback.

Nix could fit the bill after the Broncos took him with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2024 draft. He had eye-popping numbers at Oregon last season -- completing 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,508 yards, 45 touchdowns and three interceptions.

The Broncos acquired Zach Wilson shortly before the draft. He was the No. 2 overall pick by the New York Jets in 2021 and didn't pan out. He got a second chance last season when Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles on the fourth snap of the season and it again didn't go well.

Zach Wilson played 12 in games last season, starting 11. He completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 2,271 yards and eight touchdowns with seven interceptions. He also ran for seven scores, but the Jets were 4-7 in his starts.

Payton isn't concerned about the situation. He is confident the right player will emerge.

"I think when we get into training camp and when we get into the preseason games, I think oftentimes the decisions take care of themselves," Payton said. "But the object is to win. I understand the question, but in our league it's year-to-year. We're competing to win this year, and we're going to make the right decision relative to who gives us that opportunity."

Receiver Courtland Sutton showed up to the mandatory minicamp after skipping OTAs and other voluntary activities. His absence was believed to be over dissatisfaction with his contract, but he told reporters Tuesday he underwent ankle surgery in the offseason.

Sutton is entering the third season of a four-year, $60.8 million deal. He is slated to receive $13 million in base salary in 2024.

Sutton did brief work in individual drills but didn't participate in team drills.

Sutton terms his situation with the Broncos as "a stalemate" and wouldn't guarantee that he'll show for training camp in late July if there still isn't a resolution.

"My team and I have been in contact with the guys upstairs that handle all of that stuff," Sutton said. "We've kind of been going back and forth to find the best way to kind of find the middle ground of the situation. We are at a stalemate in a sense, but I have confidence and faith the right thing will be done."

Sutton, 28, has 298 receptions for 4,259 yards and 24 touchdown catches in 81 games (69 starts) for Denver. He caught a career-best 10 scoring passes last season to go with 59 catches and 772 yards.

QB Russell Wilson feeling 'revived' with Steelers

QB Russell Wilson feeling 'revived' with Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson feels as if he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.

After two underwhelming seasons with the Denver Broncos, Wilson has found new life with the Steelers, who signed the 35-year-old veteran to a one-year deal in March.

"Man, I feel the fountain of youth," Wilson said following the Steelers' first mandatory minicamp practice on Tuesday. "I feel revived in every way, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I feel confident. I think at some point you have to know who you are as a player, as a man, as a competitor.

"As somebody who's been fortunate to be able to play this game, I don't doubt it. I trust it. I felt really good last year playing. I felt really confident in the midst of everything. And so I think right now I have all that confidence times 10."

Wilson had signed a five-year, $245 million extension with Denver in September 2022, months after being traded by the Seattle Seahawks. He only ended up playing two years of that deal before being released by the Broncos, who still owed him $85 million at the time.

Wilson went 11-19 as the Broncos' starter, throwing for 6,594 yards, 42 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

Pittsburgh revamped its quarterback room in the offseason, trading for Justin Fields and signing Wilson, six-year veteran Kyle Allen and undrafted rookie free agent John Rhys Plumlee.

However, as it stands right now, the starting job is Wilson's to lose.

"Russ is in the pole position," Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith said. "It's a competition. Obviously, we get to (training camp), I'm sure things will heat up, but both (Wilson and Fields) knew that, however they were acquired, and they got here and I think it's been pretty transparent."

Prior to his stint with Denver, Wilson spent his first 10 NFL seasons with the Seahawks, winning one Super Bowl and getting to another. He has thrown for 43,653 yards and 334 TDs against 106 picks in 188 career games.

Panthers WR Xavier Legette (hamstring) missing minicamp

Panthers WR Xavier Legette (hamstring) missing minicamp

Carolina Panthers first-round pick Xavier Legette is being held out of a mandatory minicamp because of a lingering hamstring injury, head coach Dave Canales said Tuesday.

Canales also said edge rusher DJ Johnson, who was carted off during the first day of minicamp Tuesday, has a calf injury and will miss the rest of the session. The first-year coach said he expects both Legette, a wide receiver, and Johnson to be ready for training camp.

The Panthers traded with the Buffalo Bills to obtain the 32nd pick and select the 6-foot-3, 227-pound Legette out of South Carolina. In five seasons, he caught 113 passes for 1,678 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Gamecocks. He had a career-best season in 2023 with 71 receptions for 1,255 yards and seven scores.

Johnson, 25, started three of his 13 games as a rookie in 2023 and totaled 16 tackles with one tackle for loss. The Panthers selected him in the third round of the 2023 draft out of Oregon.

Canales also said that linebacker Eku Leota has a calf injury and will miss minicamp; running back Miles Sanders has a heel injury that kept him off the field Tuesday as a precautionary measure; and linebacker D.J. Wonnum will be participating at his own speed while dealing with a quad issue.

Packers QB Jordan Love at camp, expects contract resolution soon

Packers QB Jordan Love at camp, expects contract resolution soon

Packers quarterback Jordan Love anticipates signing a new contract in the weeks before he arrives at the start of training camp next month.

"It's what I've heard," Love said Tuesday as Green Bay starts mandatory minicamp outside Lambeau Field.

The Packers owe Love $11 million for the 2024 season under terms of the $13.5 million extension he signed with the plan of starting for the first time upon Aaron Rodgers' exit via trade in April 2023.

Love said he likes to "be in the mix" in negotiations but was otherwise tight-lipped. He wouldn't confirm speculation the two sides are "close."

Love had a modest start last season but guided Green Bay to the playoffs with a wild-card spot and completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 4,159 yards, 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

The Packers are looking to reach a long-term deal with Love, a plan the front office has discussed since the season ended.

"We're in those conversations right now," Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst told 97.3 The Game last month. "The nice part about this is none of these things are always easy or fast, but both parties want the same thing. We'd like to get this done before training camp for sure.

"Both parties want to get a contract extension done. Stability at that position really allows you to have some security with the way we build our team. We're looking forward to getting that done, but it never goes fast."

While other quarterbacks are avoiding camp with contract matters in limbo, Love has still been participating in voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) this offseason.

The Packers selected Love in the first round (26th overall) of the 2020 draft out of Utah State. He appeared in just 10 games (one start) over his first two NFL seasons before taking over starting duties in 2023.

Browns WR Amari Cooper absent at minicamp

Browns WR Amari Cooper absent at minicamp

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper was a no-show for the first day of a mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed that Cooper's absence was not excused. He did not confirm if the five-time Pro Bowl selection's non-attendance was contract related.

Cooper, who turns 30 next week, is due a non-guaranteed base salary of $20 million in 2024, the final season of a five-year, $100 million deal he signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2020.

Cooper caught 72 passes for 1,250 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games in 2023 after catching 78 for 1,160 yards and nine scores in 17 games in his first season with Cleveland in 2022.

He has 667 receptions for 9,486 yards and 60 TDs in 140 games (133 starts) with the then-Oakland Raiders (2015-18), Cowboys (2018-21) and Browns. The Raiders drafted him No. 4 overall in 2015.

Giants QB Daniel Jones not participating in team drills

Giants QB Daniel Jones not participating in team drills

While he progresses in his recovery from a torn ACL, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones won't participate in team drills at the two-day minicamp, coach Brian Daboll told reporters Tuesday.

"He's really right on point with where he needs to be," Daboll said. "But in terms of the team, we'll keep him out here the next few days and get him ready to go for training camp."

Whether Jones is ready for training camp remains to be seen, but Daboll is pleased with the QB's rehab process.

"Yeah, we'll see," the coach said. "We will give him another month here, but he's making progress."

Jones, 27, underwent season-ending surgery on his right knee in late November after sustaining the injury in a 30-6 loss at Las Vegas on Nov. 5.

Jones, who signed a four-year, $160 million contract last offseason, finished with two touchdown passes and six interceptions in six games in 2023. He also missed three games with a neck injury.

Jones is 22-36-1 as a starter with 62 touchdown passes and 40 picks in 60 games (59 starts) since being drafted with the No. 6 overall pick in 2019.

Daboll praised the work of free-agent signee Drew Lock, but stopped short of saying there will be a QB competition once Jones returns.

"He understands his role," Daboll said of Lock. "I think he's come a long way. There is a lot to learn playing that position. There is a lot of vocabulary, there's new plays. One word means something to him in another system. He's been to a few different places. He has been a true pro.

"He has definitely improved since he has gotten here. Good to get two more workdays here with the guys that he might not necessarily get as many reps with once we get to training camp."

As for Darren Waller, who retired over the weekend, Daboll said he spoke to the veteran tight end on Monday and has kept in contact with him since last season ended.

"I would say the first thing with Darren is my concern for him is more of a person than anything," Daboll said. "I'm glad he's doing well. Spoke to him yesterday.

"That's his decision, we were going to respect the decision and give him as much time as he needed. Wish him well. Here for him if he needs anything. That's what happens in the NFL sometimes."

Though Waller's retirement at age 31 leaves a void, Daboll is pleased with the work that first-year tight ends coach Tim Kelly has done with a group that includes Daniel Bellinger and Lawrence Cager.

"They've done a really good job," Daboll said. "Tim Kelly has been a great addition to our staff. Really does a good job leading those guys. They're all conscientious guys, have good ability. They can play multiple positions, so it will be a good training camp."

49ers' Christian McCaffrey on cover of Madden NFL 25

49ers' Christian McCaffrey on cover of Madden NFL 25

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey is the cover athlete on the Madden NFL 25 video game, EA Sports announced Tuesday.

The video game will be released Aug. 16.

McCaffrey is the first member of the 49ers to don the cover of the series.

He also becomes the first running back to receive the honor since Adrian Peterson and Barry Sanders graced separate covers of Madden NFL 25 in 2013. That video game was named as such to honor the series' 25th anniversary.

"It's really humbling," McCaffrey told ESPN. "I feel really grateful because obviously stuff like this is a testament to my teammates, my coaches, people who have helped me be in the position to have success, and so I feel really grateful for that.

"This is such a cool milestone for me, and to be on the cover, I think of those people who have helped me along the way, and obviously being the first 49ers player is really humbling when you think about how many greats have played for this organization. Definitely feel very fortunate."

McCaffrey, 28, signed a two-year, $38 million contract extension last Tuesday. The deal included $24 million in guarantees for the 2023 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, who led the league with 1,459 rushing yards last season.

With an average annual value of $19 million per season, McCaffrey raised his own bar for NFL running backs. His previous deal averaged $16 million per year.

McCaffrey also led the NFL with 2,023 yards from scrimmage, and in 16 starts he shared the league lead with 21 rushing/receiving touchdowns, along with Miami's Raheem Mostert.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time first-team All-Pro, McCaffrey has rushed for 6,185 yards and 52 touchdowns. He also has 509 receptions for 4,320 yards and 29 scores in 91 games (84 starts) with the Carolina Panthers (2017-22) and 49ers (2022-23).

McCaffrey was the eighth overall pick in 2017 by Carolina, who traded him to San Francisco on Oct. 20, 2022, for a package of draft picks.

Jets' Aaron Rodgers, Haason Reddick not at mandatory minicamp

Jets' Aaron Rodgers, Haason Reddick not at mandatory minicamp

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and edge rusher Haason Reddick did not report to the start of the New York Jets' two-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, leaving both players subject to fines.

Reddick, 29, who came over in a March trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, skipped all voluntary offseason workouts due to a contract dispute. In the final season of a three-year, $45 million contract he signed in 2022 with the Eagles, he's slated to earn a non-guaranteed $14.25 million in base pay.

Meanwhile, Jets coach Robert Saleh told reporters that Rodgers' absence was "unexcused" despite the 40-year-old Rodgers telling him ahead of time that he had a prior commitment.

Reddick, who had previously forfeited a $250,000 workout bonus, faces a $16,953 fine for missing the first day of the minicamp and an additional $33,908 if he misses the second day.

The Jets were aware that Reddick wanted a new contract but made the trade for the two-time Pro Bowl player who has 50.5 sacks over the past four seasons They sent the Eagles a 2026 conditional third-round pick to complete the trade.

The only player 29 and older to get an extension under Jets general manager Joe Douglas was tight end Ryan Griffin, who was 29 when he signed a three-year, $10.8 million deal in November 2019.

Chiefs' BJ Thompson out of hospital after cardiac arrest

Chiefs' BJ Thompson out of hospital after cardiac arrest

Kansas City Chiefs defensive end BJ Thompson was released from the hospital on Monday night, four days after he had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest, his agent told NFL Network.

Thompson, 25, endured his medical ordeal on Thursday while at the Chiefs' practice facility in a team meeting. He received CPR from the Chiefs medical staff before being taken to The University of Kansas Health System.

"The family thanks everyone for their prayers and wants to especially thank the Chiefs medical and training staff for their rapid response and professionalism throughout this situation," agent Chris Turnage said in a statement.

Thompson recorded two tackles in one game as a rookie last season. He was selected by Kansas City in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft out of Stephen F. Austin.

Reports: Cowboys, Panthers eye UFL players

Reports: Cowboys, Panthers eye UFL players

The Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers are reportedly looking to the UFL ranks this offseason, with one team interested in defense and the other in offense.

The Cowboys, who lost linebacker Leighton Vander Esch to retirement, are going to work out linebacker Willie Harvey Jr. of the St. Louis Battlehawks, according to NFL Media. In 10 games this season, Harvey led the Battlehawks with 78 tackles, including nine tackles for a loss.

Harvey, 28, was undrafted out of Iowa State before appearing in four games for the Cleveland Browns between the 2019 and 2021 seasons.

The Panthers are looking for receiving help and are expected to sign All-UFL wideout Daewood Davis of the Memphis Showboats, also per NFL Media.

Davis, who has not appeared in an NFL game, led the Showboats in catches (41) and receiving yards (446) in 10 games. His five touchdown receptions tied for the team high.

Carolina is also said to be interested in Battlehawks wide receiver Hakeem Butler, another All-UFL honoree. Butler was selected in the fourth round of the 2019 draft by the Arizona Cardinals and appeared in two games for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020.

In 10 games for the Battlehawks, Butler made 10 catches for 652 yards and five scores, all team highs.

RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots close to extension

RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots close to extension

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson is nearing an agreement on a contract extension with the Patriots, he told reporters at the first day of New England's mandatory minicamp Monday.

Stevenson, 26, is slated to earn a base salary of $3.116 million in the final year on his rookie contract, which he signed after the Patriots selected him in the fourth round of the 2021 draft.

"Right now, I'm trying to get the deal done and get it locked in. We'll see where that goes. It's pretty close," Stevenson told reporters.

Last season, Stevenson suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 13 and sat out the rest of a 4-13 campaign. In 12 games, he rushed for 619 yards and four touchdowns and caught 38 passes for 238 yards.

In 41 games (21 starts) over three seasons, the 6-foot, 227-pound Oklahoma product has 2,265 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns along with 121 catches for 782 yards and one receiving score.

Stevenson said that contract talks have been ongoing but realizes that deals take time to be finalized.

"It's not frustrating, but it's just a long process," he said. "This is my first time going through it, but just hearing from all the other guys, this is how it goes. It's a negotiation process, and I'm respecting the process."

Stevenson shared the backfield with veteran Ezekiel Elliott last season, but Elliot rejoined the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. This spring, former Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson is in the fold after signing a three-year, $11.25 million deal, but Stevenson remains the starter.

"I think he's one of the better backs in the league, no doubt about it," first-year Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo said of Stevenson on Monday. "I'm excited to see what he does this season, and look, he's earned everything that he gets. He is our starting running back and hopefully we do get something done."

Steelers sign coach Mike Tomlin to 3-year extension

Steelers sign coach Mike Tomlin to 3-year extension

The Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday signed head coach Mike Tomlin to a three-year extension, keeping him on the sidelines through the 2027 season.

Financial terms were not disclosed by the team. Tomlin was entering the final year of his contract.

"Mike Tomlin's leadership and commitment to the Steelers have been pivotal to our success during his first 17 years as head coach," Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a team release. "Extending his contract for three more years reflects our confidence in his ability to guide the team back to winning playoff games and championships, while continuing our tradition of success."

Tomlin, 52, became the NFL's longest-tenured coach after Bill Belichick departed the New England Patriots after the 2023 season.

Tomlin has compiled a 173-100-2 record in the regular season since taking over in 2007 and has never had a losing season. He is 8-10 in the postseason, leading the Steelers to a Super Bowl win after the 2008 season. His 173 regular season wins are second most among active head coaches behind Andy Reid (258).

"I am appreciative for this contract extension and thankful for Art Rooney II for his support during my first 17 years in Pittsburgh," said Tomlin. "We are continuing to work diligently to get back to where we belong -- sustained playoff success with the ultimate goal of winning the franchise's seventh Lombardi Trophy."

Bears bring back TE Marcedes Lewis, 40

Bears bring back TE Marcedes Lewis, 40

The Chicago Bears are bringing back Marcedes Lewis on a one-year deal, setting him up to be the oldest tight end in NFL history.

Financial terms were not announced for Lewis, who turned 40 last month. The 2024 season will be his 19th in the league. At 268 games, Lewis ranks third all-time among TEs in career games played, trailing Jason Witten (271) and Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez (270).

Lewis appeared in all 17 games (four starts) for the Bears in 2023, catching four passes for 29 yards and a touchdown.

A first-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2006, Lewis has 436 career catches for 5,113 yards and 40 TDs for the Jags (2006-17), Green Bay Packers (2018-22) and Bears. He has started 225 of 268 games.

Report: All-Pro returner Jakeem Grant trying out with Jets

Report: All-Pro returner Jakeem Grant trying out with Jets

Decorated return specialist Jakeem Grant will try out for the New York Jets at this week's minicamp, NFL Network reported Monday.

Grant, 31, last played in the NFL in 2021 when he made the Pro Bowl and earned his second consecutive All-Pro second-team selection.

Grant missed the 2022 season after tearing his left Achilles tendon at training camp with Cleveland. He missed the 2023 season after sustaining a ruptured patellar tendon in the Browns' final preseason game.

A sixth-round pick by Miami in 2016, Grant has 100 receptions for 1,140 yards and seven touchdowns in 81 games with the Dolphins (2016-21) and Chicago Bears (2021).

He has returned 119 punts for 1,228 yards (10.3 average) and four touchdowns, and has returned 110 kickoffs for 2,699 yards (24.5 average) and two scores.

Report: Commanders pay Brandon McManus rest of signing bonus

Report: Commanders pay Brandon McManus rest of signing bonus

The Washington Commanders paid kicker Brandon McManus the other half of his signing bonus despite releasing him, Pro Football Talk reported Monday.

The team paid McManus the first 50 percent of the $1.5 million bonus at signing, with the other half due Friday. However, the team released him in the aftermath of a civil lawsuit that was filed against him for an alleged incident while the kicker was with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Commanders signed McManus to a one-year, $3.6 million deal in March.

McManus and his former team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, are being sued by two women identified as Jane Doe I and Jane Doe II. The lawsuit was filed May 24 in Duval County, where Jacksonville is located, and it was made public three days later.

They allege McManus rubbed and grinded against them during a team flight to London last fall. Jane Doe I said McManus tried to kiss her and Jane Doe II said McManus "smirked and walked away" after she confronted him about grinding against her.

The women said the Jaguars did not provide a safe environment for staff on the flight.

McManus, 32, spent the first nine years of his 10-year NFL career with the Denver Broncos and signed with the Jaguars in May 2023.

Giants TE Darren Waller retires after 8 NFL seasons

Giants TE Darren Waller retires after 8 NFL seasons

New York Giants tight end Darren Waller announced his retirement on Sunday, explaining in a YouTube video that "the passion has slowly been fading."

Waller, 31, also revealed that a "very scary" health emergency last November made him re-think where his life was at.

He did not name the medical condition, but Waller said he struggled to breathe and wound up spending 3 1/2 days in a hospital unable to stand, feed himself or use the bathroom.

"I come out of that experience and I'm sitting in the hospital," Waller said, "and I go back into my daily life and I'm like, ‘Pretty clear, I almost just lost my life, and I don't know if I really feel if I would have died that I would have felt great about how my life was going if I died at that time.'"

It was reported last week that the Giants expected the veteran to retire.

"We have great respect for Darren as a person and player. We wish him nothing but the best," the Giants said in a statement Sunday.

Waller, who is also working on a music career, spent the offseason contemplating his decision and was not with the team. He thanked the NFL in his video, saying that being a football player opened doors to help address his past struggles with addiction that he might not have had otherwise.

"Eternally grateful for the game of football. I wouldn't be able to have this conversation or to think things through or be self-reflective if it wasn't for an opportunity to save my life and go to rehab, which the NFL offered me," he said. "They also gave me an opportunity to reestablish myself, to come back into the world and do something productive. Provide an example, be a leader, be a difference-maker in my craft but also in my day-to-day wherever I go."

Waller joined the Giants for the 2023 season after two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and five with the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders. In his lone season with New York, Waller played 12 games (11 starts) and made 52 receptions for 552 yards and one touchdown.

Waller was a Pro Bowl selection in 2020, when he hit career highs of 107 catches, 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns with the Raiders. After 86 career games (63 starts), Waller finishes his career with 350 receptions, 4,124 yards and 20 TDs.

According to ESPN, the Giants will save $11.9 million against the cap with Waller a post-June 1 cut.

New Seahawks OC Ryan Grubb impressed by Geno Smith's skills

New Seahawks OC Ryan Grubb impressed by Geno Smith's skills

Ryan Grubb turned Michael Penix Jr. into a Heisman Trophy finalist during his two seasons as Washington's offensive coordinator.

His next task is turning Geno Smith back into a high-level starter for the Seattle Seahawks.

Grubb, now offensive coordinator of the Seahawks, is installing his system and at some point will have the quarterback to run it.

For now, Smith is well ahead of newcomer Sam Howell as Grubb learns what his signal callers do best.

"I think that there is a really good marriage there with some of the skillset that Geno has," Grubb said. "I think that we ask our quarterbacks to do a lot. Luckily for us, Geno's really athletic as well. I think for us, we don't have to limit it to just dropback. I think he's really good in the play-action game as well, which will be a big part of our offense.

"And I think for us, it's not just the five-step all the time, but I do think that Geno is really good at getting the ball out on time and very efficient with the football, which he obviously showed in '22, led the league in completion percentage. Understanding how to get the ball out on time and really take care of the football is something that works obviously really well."

Smith, 33, has been a Pro Bowl selection the past two seasons, but his 2022 season was much better than last year.

Smith led the NFL with a 69.8 completion percentage and established career highs of 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2022.

Last season, he completed 64.7 percent of his throws and his numbers dropped to 3,624 yards and 20 scores.

That production came under now departed coach Pete Carroll. Mike Macdonald is the new head coach and Grubb has control of the offense after Seattle lured him away from Alabama, where Grubb had followed former University of Washington coach Kalen DeBoer.

The trade for the 23-year-old Howell was to obtain someone with experience who might push Smith. Howell was a first-year starter for the Washington Commanders last season and led the NFL with 21 interceptions while throwing for 3,946 yards and 21 touchdowns.

"They're freaking awesome," the 48-year-old Grubb said of Smith and Howell. "They are. I think that they're both really, really hard workers. They're very diligent, intelligent and I know that it means a lot to them and I think that their leadership in the room and how they react and work together says a lot about the kind of guys that they are."

Smith has liked what he has seen from Grubb in his early dealings with him.

"Coach Grubb is doing a great job being demanding, making sure guys are studying and on point and knowing their assignments, but also giving guys some grace," Smith said. "It is a new system ... and guys are going to mess some things up. That's not necessarily a terrible thing. We can gain from that. So Grubb is doing a great job. It's our job to make the plays come alive and make it all look good."

Seattle will reportedly add veteran P.J. Walker to the quarterback room. The 29-year-old Walker has started nine NFL games while playing for the Carolina Panthers (2020-22) and Cleveland Browns (2023).