Dec 9, 2018; Carson, CA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals special assistant to the head coach Hue Jackson watches from the sidelines in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Grambling’s Hue Jackson defends hiring of Art Briles

Grambling State football coach Hue Jackson on Monday defended the controversial hiring of Art Briles as offensive coordinator.

Briles has been out of college football since he was fired as the head coach at Baylor in 2016 after an independent investigation into a widespread sexual assault scandal in the Bears’ football program.

Jackson, who was named the coach at Grambling in December, said the decision to bring Briles aboard was not taken lightly.

“The Hue Jackson Foundation has been dedicated to fighting against ALL forms of sexual abuse and exploitation as well as other forms of racial and social bias,” Jackson wrote in a statement released by the foundation. “We have a clear understanding of the role that coaches and others who have a position of trust play in the lives of those they meet.

“We also know and understand the process of identifying risks, helping others to heal, and the importance of prevention. We believe that through the hiring of Coach Briles and the well-developed programs we have in place, this hire will be instrumental in teaching others the importance of knowing how to prevent victimization, proper reporting procedures, provide adequate resources to individuals who have been victimized and develop strong law enforcement partnerships within the community.”

Briles, 66, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity at Grambling in an interview last week with KTAL-TV in Shreveport, La.

“I’ll do exactly what I’m required to do and what they expect of me, which is to be a very solid citizen, to be a positive leader on a day-in and day-out basis, to do everything I can do to protect our students and our student-athletes on campus and to represent the Grambling University to the best of my ability because I’m very humble and grateful to be at this university,” Briles said.

Briles’ teams finished in the top 20 four times in his eight seasons at Baylor, where he went 65-37 with six bowl appearances.

Overall, Briles compiled a 99-65 record in 13 seasons as a head coach at Houston (2003-07) and Baylor (2008-15), leading the Bears to Big 12 championships in 2013 and 2014.

“As we move forward together with Coach Briles, we ask that people keep in mind that no matter your views on this topic, please remember that people can and often do become re-traumatized and re-victimized by statements which may or may not be accurate,” Jackson’s statement said. “We will continue to support Coach Briles and all victims of assault, violence, social and racial injustices and we will continue to provide equal opportunity for healing for everyone.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 7, 2021; Canton, Ohio, USA;  General view of signage at the Professional Football Hall of Fame before the HOF enshrinement ceremonies at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders, Jaguars to meet in Aug. 4 Hall of Fame game

The Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars will meet in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.

The Thursday night preseason contest will kick off the NFL’s 103rd season.

It will be the fourth appearance for the Raiders and the second for the Jaguars in the annual event.

It also marks the debut of Las Vegas head coach Josh McDaniels, a Canton native, as well as the first game for Doug Pederson as the head coach for Jacksonville.

Former Raiders players Cliff Branch and Richard Seymour and Jaguars great Tony Boselli will be enshrined two days later as members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. LeRoy Butler, Art McNally, Sam Mills, Dick Vermeil and Bryant Young will also be inducted.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) makes a throw against the Baylor Bears in the second quarter in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Two top prospects to skip Combine workouts

Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral and LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. will not work out at this week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, multiple outlets reported Monday.

The two top prospects, both still recovering from injuries, will participate in interviews and medical exams only.

On-field workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium are scheduled for Thursday for QBs and Sunday for defensive backs.

ESPN ranks Stingley and Corral as the No. 8 and No. 27 overall prospects, respectively, for the 2022 NFL Draft.

Stingley had surgery on his left foot in October, while Corral injured his right ankle in the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2021; London, England, United Kingdom; A general overall view of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with the British and the United States flags on the field during the playing of the national anthem before the  NFL International Series game between the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals in Mexico, Saints vs. Packers, Jaguars in London in ’22

International NFL games in London, Mexico City and Munich will include a matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Arizona is the “home” team for the 2022 game in Mexico City, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the home team for the game in Munich, Germany. In addition, the Jacksonville Jaguars are again hosting a game in London — at Wembley Stadium.

The NFL released information for all four international games on Monday and opponents are being announced later in the day.

–Field Level Media

Jan 17, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) warms up before playing against the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Wild Card playoff game.

Nfc Wild Card Playoff Cardinals Vs Rams

Kyler Murray’s agent: ‘Contractual promises fleeting in this business’

Kyler Murray’s agent said a proposal for a long-term contract with the Arizona Cardinals was sent to the team and asked for actions from the franchise rather than “hypothetical contractual promises.”

Agent Erik Burkhardt on Monday issued an ALL CAPS statement of more than 1,000 words addressing the status of Murray’s contract.

The salvo from Burkhardt is the latest spin in what has been a testy offseason between the two sides, starting with Murray scrubbing all references to the team from his social media accounts before the Pro Bowl.

In the statement, Burkhardt said the 24-year-old Murray “wants to be direct with loyal fans and the great community of the Valley in stating his two very important goals and objectives.

1. He absolutely wants to be your long term QB
2. He desperately wants to win the Super Bowl.

“Achieving both goals will take incredible commitment from himself and the entire organization.”

Murray is under contract for 2022 and the Cardinals hold a fifth-year option on his contract for 2023. Burkhardt’s argument is that Murray has outperformed the rookie contract, a four-year deal worth $35,658,014 with an option year at $11,186,842.

By comparison, the Bears paid Nick Foles $8 million in 2021 to be the team’s third quarterback.

But rookie pay scale is a factor, even for No. 1 overall picks. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow made $9,047,534 in 2021, when Baker Mayfield was at $8,170,745 and Murray at $8,914,504

Owner Michael Bidwill said last week that he wants Murray to be the franchise quarterback in Arizona, but cautioned contract talks take time and compromise.

With the salary cap expected to jump to $209 million, quarterback salaries are projected to continue to increase to well over $40 million for top-tier passers. Given Murray’s combination of age and improved production and the team’s climbing win totals, he’s expected to look for a deal that approaches $45 million to $50 million annually.

Burkhardt said the contract proposal sent to general manager Steve Keim was in the interest of “long-term stability for both the organization and (Murray). To overtly communicate Kyler’s desire to be the Cardinals’ long-term QB, we sent a proposal reflecting all of the following:

“Provides financial protection, is in line with the current QB market that compares his results alongside relevant comps, lowers his 2022-23 salary cap number to allow the Cardinals to re-sign other deserving teammates and add additional free agents and, most importantly, represents a real commitment from the organization to see if their ultimate goals align with his 2 above.”

Burkhardt continued, saying “actions speak much louder than words in this volatile business.

“It is now simply up to the Cardinals to decide if they prioritize their rapidly improving 24-year-old, already 2X Pro Bowl QB, who led the organization from three wins before his arrival to 11 wins and their first playoff appearance in five years or rather if they choose to financially prioritize committing to other areas and continuing to merely talk about addressing Kyler’s long-term QB.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; ESPN broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit during the 2022 Rose Bowl at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Amazon eyes Kirk Herbstreit as top NFL analyst

Amazon is eyeing ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, the highest-profile analyst in college football, for its top NFL analyst position when the streaming service begins its exclusive Thursday night game coverage in the fall, the New York Post reported Sunday.

Although Herbstreit is under contract to ESPN for about $6 million per year, sources told the Post his deal is written in a way that he would be allowed to work NFL games with another outlet while continuing to do college commentary for ESPN.

ESPN and Amazon both declined comment on the Post’s report.

Herbstreit has provided analysis for ESPN on some NFL games and has a desire to call more games in the league, the Post reported. If Amazon and Herbstreit were to strike a deal, ESPN still would want to employ Herbstreit on some NFL telecasts, sources told the Post.

Amazon has failed to land broadcaster Troy Aikman, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay as its Thursday night analyst.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Ali Marpet (74) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers LG Ali Marpet retires at age 28

Tampa Bay Buccaneers left guard Ali Marpet announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday over social media.

Marpet, 28, was named to the Pro Bowl this past season. He started 16 games in 2021 and 101 in his career since being selected by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Hobart College, a Division III program in upstate New York.

“After seven formidable years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I’ve come to the decision to retire from the game that has given me so much,” Marpet wrote on Instagram.

“This organization and the people surrounding it have helped not only fulfill a dream, but also helped build me into the person I am today. I’ve made Tampa Bay my home and I look forward to serving this community in the coming years. To the coaches and teammates, family and friends, an Instagram post simply can’t express the profound impact you’ve had on me. I’m eternally grateful. Thank you Tampa Bay,” he wrote.

Marpet became the Buccaneers’ second high-profile player to retire after the season. Star quarterback Tom Brady announced he was hanging up the cleats on Feb. 1.

Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians praised Marpet for all that he has done for the team.

“I can’t say enough about what Ali has meant to our team over the three seasons since my arrival,” Arians said.

“He has been the consummate professional and has been a rock for us in the interior of our offensive line. We will miss him on the field and in the locker room, but I am happy that he gets to go out as a Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowler. It is never easy saying goodbye to a player who has meant so much to our success, but I support and respect his decision and wish him a great life after football,” Arians said.

The Buccaneers’ offensive line could be in for a major overhaul this season. Right guard Alex Cappa and center Ryan Jensen are set to be free agents.

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson (55) looks on against the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bengals LB Logan Wilson had shoulder surgery

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing surgery last week to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder, ESPN reported Sunday.

Wilson, 25, sustained the injury in the Bengals’ 41-22 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 5. He returned from a three-game absence by recording eight tackles in Cincinnati’s 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 2.

Wilson notched 39 tackles and an interception during the Bengals’ four postseason games. He had nine tackles (three for loss) in a 23-20 setback to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13.

Wilson collected 100 tackles, four interceptions and a forced fumble in 13 games (all starts) this season. He has 133 tackles and six picks in 25 career games (15 starts) since being selected by Cincinnati in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Oct 11, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Jack Conklin (78) is introduced before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Browns restructure contract of RT Jack Conklin

Two-time All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin and the Cleveland Browns have agreed to restructure his contract for the 2022 season, multiple outlets reported Saturday.

Conklin was slated to make $12 in base salary in 2022, but the money was non-guaranteed. Instead, Conklin will receive $8 million fully guaranteed with $4 million in incentives based on playing time.

The incentives could come into play as Conklin is recovering from a ruptured right patella tendon sustained in a Nov. 28 game against the Baltimore Ravens. He hopes to be ready for the start of the 2022 season.

The restructuring saves the Browns $4 million in salary-cap space, but it also assures that they won’t cut Conklin after June 1 and owe him nothing.

Conklin played in just seven of 17 games last season due to three injuries. He missed two games with a knee injury and three more due to a dislocated elbow prior to the patella tendon injury.

The 27-year-old has started all 79 games he’s played during six NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans (2016-19) and Browns (2020-21). He agreed to a three-year, $42 million contract with Cleveland on March 16, 2020.

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) carries the ball against the Denver Broncos in the second quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Saints clear $26M in cap space with restructured deals

The New Orleans Saints cleared more than $26 million in cap space by restructuring the contracts of wide receiver Michael Thomas and offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, ESPN reported Saturday.

The Saints entered the offseason $75 million over the projected 2022 salary cap, the most of any team in the NFL, and more moves are anticipated in the coming days.

The Saints converted $14.6 million of Thomas’ scheduled salary and roster bonuses into a signing bonus. They did the same with $18.2 million of Ramczyk’s money.

The move with Thomas likely indicates New Orleans isn’t planning to trade the three-time Pro Bowl selection, who missed the entire 2021 season with an ankle injury.

Thomas, who turns 29 on March 3, was the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2019 and has 510 receptions for 5,950 yards and 32 touchdowns in 70 games over five seasons with the Saints.

Ramczyk, 27, has played in 73 games (all starts) over five seasons since New Orleans drafted him in the first round in 2017. He was an All-Pro selection in 2019 and appeared in 10 games in 2021.

–Field Level Media