The Week in NFL News - 7/16

A look at the biggest stories of the past week in the NFL and why they matter in fantasy leagues

NFL

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that the league still wants two preseason games, while the NFLPA wants none

Why It Matters: This and many other issues (opt out provisions, guarantees, how the cap will change because of lost revenue among others) need to be worked out before the NFL can have a season this year. Deadlines spur action and some teams are supposed to have rookies report in two days. The players may end up playing the two preseason games, which could help rookies and players on the roster fringe, but they will use it a bargaining chip to get compromises on other financial issues.

According to the NFLPA, as July 10, 72 players have tested positive for coronavirus

Why It Matters: We only know the identity of a few of these players and because of HIPAA, a law that protects patient privacy, we might never know the identity of all of them. The good news for this group of 72 players (a number that will surely grow) is that most, if not all of them will be cleared to return to the team in accordance with the league return to play flowchart that requires 10 days since a positive test or 5 days since a positive test and two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart for asymptomatic players, and 10 days since the first appearance of symptoms and 72 hours since last appearance of symptoms for symptomatic cases.

ESPN’s Dianni Russini reports that the July 28 start date for training camp has not yet been agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA

Why It Matters: With so many details to work out in the terms between the NFL and NFLPA in this unique season and the likelihood of an abbreviated (or no) preseason, there is give in the schedule for the league to push this date back. The NFL would also benefit from coronavirus numbers flattening out or dropping in hot spots like Miami, Phoenix and Los Angeles with the requirement that training camp be held in team facilities or not at all. Don’t get discouraged if the start of camp is delayed, it could increase the chances that the season starts on time.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that three teams are interested in former Washington tight end Jordan Reed and that Reed plans to play in 2020

Why It Matters: Reed’s old team Washington needs a receiving tight end, and his old coaches Sean McVay and Kevin O’Connell showed interest in signing him earlier in the offseason. While Reed has the skillset to be fantasy relevant, his chances of staying on the field with a lengthy concussion and injury history are low. When he does sign somewhere, don’t let it change that team’s outlook at tight end greatly.

According the Pro Football Talk, the league intends to create an injured reserve spot for players who test positive for coronavirus that lasts three weeks, and then the player will have to be moved to longer term injured reserve, released with an injury settlement, or activated.

Why It Matters: It’s good news for players if the Non-Football Injury designation is off of the table for coronavirus cases because players on the NFI list do not get paid. If the players with coronavirus are on injured reserve, that makes managing the roster spots easier for fantasy football league software, and the initial three week duration will make projecting absence more predictable. This is a sign that negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA are moving towards more compromises.

AFC

Baltimore

Mark Andrews' recent comments sound like he is planning to play in 2020

Why It Matters: Andrews has Type 1 Diabetes, which increases the risk of complications from coronavirus. He said that the team has a big year coming up and that being able to help the team win is exciting for him, with no indication that he is considering opting out of playing this year. Andrews reportedly pricks his finger approximately 30 times a game to monitor his blood sugar.

Cleveland

Myles Garrett signed a five-year, $125 million dollar extension

Why It Matters: The last we saw Garrett, he was suspended indefinitely after a helmet-swinging incident with Steelers backup quarterback Mason Rudolph. He was reinstated in February and the Browns are standing behind him and he and Rudolph disagreed about whether the incident was sparked by racially insensitive comments from Rudolph. Garrett is resetting the edge rusher market with his best football likely ahead of him. This along with the Chris Jones and Patrick Mahomes II deals show that for elite players, contract numbers will grow even if the cap may not over the next few years.

Houston

Kenny Stills was arrested and charged with a felony at a protest at the Kentucky Attorney General’s home.

Why It Matters: Bill O’Brien has already said he would take a knee with players this year, so it is unlikely that this will bring about any team discipline, and the league has said they were wrong about player protests, so don’t expect a league suspension despite the ominous nature of a felony charge. 86 others were also arrested at the protest, so this wasn’t the result of a particularly bad act by Stills compared to others taking part in the protest, but instead the approach taken by the authorities to break it up. This shouldn’t affect Stills outlook as a late round pick that could benefit from the opportunity in the passing game freed up by the trade of DeAndre Hopkins.

Jacksonville

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that other teams have been flexible about Yannick Ngakoue playing under the franchise or signing a new deal and contract terms haven’t been a hold up in trade talks, but instead the Jaguars have been unwilling to trade Ngakoue

Why It Matters: The Jaguars seem to want to draw a line in the sand with Ngakoue that they willingly crossed for Jalen Ramsey last year. As in the case of Jadeveon Clowney last year, the team’s inability to get a deal done earlier in the offseason, or at least before the franchise tag long-term contract deadline of July 15, will greatly lower whatever compensation they can get in a trade. Ngakoue could choose to opt out of playing this year if it is permissible and start this whole cycle over again next year, or he could play out this year for 17.788 million and hope that the Jaguars don’t tag him again next year for over 20 million. Ngakoue’s IDP fantasy stock this year is shaky for the time being.

Kansas City

The Chiefs and Chris Jones agreed to a four-year, $85 million dollar contract

Why It Matters: The Chiefs are committed to keeping this Super Bowl winning band together as long as they can. Only Aaron Donald is making more among interior defensive linemen, and Jones contract is slightly more than the four-year, 84 million dollar deal DeForest Buckner signed earlier this offsesaon. Jones remains one of the top 2-3 defensive tackles in IDP leagues now that his holdout threat has been averted.

New England

Sony Michel (foot) has been seen without a walking boot and has been rehabbing at the team facility for “several weeks” according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss

Why It Matters: It sounds like Michel’s foot surgery this offseason wasn’t serious and he should still be on track to be ready for the beginning of the season. Damien Harris has generated buzz this offseason, including from Reiss (a most trusted Patriots voice) himself, so we should expect Harris to have a larger share of the backfield this year in any event. If Michel can’t stay healthy or he’s decisively outperformed by Harris, the team could effectively move on from him. Michel and Harris are both merely late round fliers now, but the outlook of both got a boost when the Patriots signed Cam Newton.

The Patriots settled their grievances with Antonio Brown and the estate of Aaron Hernandez, recouping $6.55 million dollars in cap room.

Why It Matters: The team has cap room now to bring on a receiver or otherwise address any needs that stand out when Bill Belichick gets his first up close view of his 2020 roster after camp opens. It’s more likely that the team sits on the newfound cap room to address needs that may arise during a season that could force teams to rely on depth more than they ever have before.

Tennessee

Derrick Henry and the Titans agreed to a four-year, $50 million dollar deal with 25.5 million guaranteed

Why It Matters: Henry got basically the same deal that Le’Veon Bell got last year, so running back salaries aren’t going up outside of Christian McCaffrey. This could be a model for Dalvin Cook’s new deal if the Vikings are willing to explore it. Henry’s guaranteed money is just a little bit north of what a franchise tag salary would be this year and next year, so the Titans are really only committing for two years. It sends a great message to young players like AJ Brown that they will be rewarded with financial security if they give their all under a rookie deal. Darrynton Evans dynasty value is going to stay in hibernation until at least 2022 unless Henry suffers an injury that causes him to miss games.

NFC

Dallas

Dak Prescott will play the 2020 on a one-year franchise tag contract

Why It Matters: There were reports of a deal on the table with over 100 million guaranteed at the last second, but the two sides could not come to an agreement. This certainly opens the door for Prescott to not be a Cowboy in the next year or two, but his tag number is 31.4 million this year and around 37-38 million next year. The two quarterbacks to play out a year under the franchise - Drew Brees with the Chargers and Kirk Cousins with Washington - ended up signing their next long term deal with another team. Dallas will surely try to sign Prescott to a long term deal in 2021, but even with possible flat cap growth, he should insist on an even higher number.

Clarence Hill of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram reports that the Cowboys have “all but given up hope” that Randy Gregory will be reinstated

Why It Matters: Aldon Smith was reinstated this offseason in a boost to the Cowboys efforts to replace Robert Quinn after he signed with Chicago, but it doesn’t appear that they will get Gregory back. 2018 fourth-round pick Dorance Armstrong is also a name to watch in this situation. With the Cowboys likely to be in a lot of high-scoring games and Demarcus Lawrence on the other side, whoever wins this spot will have some deep IDP league appeal.

Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Jason Peters to a one-year, $3 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: The Eagles finally showed their hand in how they will play losing Brandon Brooks to a torn achilles this offseason, Peters is a tackle by experience, but he’ll be in between long-time teammates Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce at right guard if he can hold off solid backup Matt Pryor. It’s continuity of a sort for a line that will be relying on Andre Dillard to develop enough to hold down Peters old left tackle spot. If Dillard craters, the team could turn back to Peters in a desperation move.

Seattle

According to the Miami Herald, Quinton Dunbar’s former attorney is under investigation for allegedly paying off witnesses in his armed robbery case.

Why It Matters: The Seahawks may have to push Tre Flowers back out at outside corner there after hoping to get his career back on track following a down 2019. Seattle will also lose their top option at slot corner if Dunbar can’t play this year. The Seahawks pass defense has to go back to the drawing board with the increasing likelihood that Dunbar’s legal trouble is deep. The same goes for the Giants and DeAndre Baker, who could look to sign Logan Ryan because of his history with the Patriots.

Washington

Kelvin Harmon has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the 2020 season.

Why It Matters: Harmon was set up to be a top three receiver for Washington, who didn’t add any veteran receivers of note to a unit that was led by three rookies last year. Terry McLaurin and Steven Sims Jr. could get a small uptick in targets and the case for taking them at ADP gets even better. High ceiling fourth-rounder Antonio Gandy-Golden could get more playing time with Harmon sidelined, but he’ll compete with Cam Sims and Cody Latimer for snaps, and the team could sign Antonio Brown, who has worked out with quarterback Dwayne Haskins, or Josh Gordon, who had his career year with offensive coordinator Scott Turner as his wide receiver coach in Cleveland.

Washington confirmed that they will be changing the team name

Why It Matters: This may end up not being the biggest Washington NFL team news this week. The new team name hasn’t been announced because of trademark issues, but one of the leading rumors is RedWolves.

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