This Week in NFL News - 4/14

Sigmund Bloom runs down this week in NFL news and tells you why it matters


Baltimore - Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo reports that TE Dennis Pitta will attempt to play in 2016.

Why It Matters: Pitta was a rising fantasy star at tight end at one time, but multiple severe hip injuries have halted his career. A crowded tight end situation muddied by the signing of Ben Watson could get even more unclear.

Buffalo - ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Percy Harvin has told the Bills that he is retiring.

Why It Matters: We never got to see how good Harvin could be in the NFL because of injuries and bad locker room fits. The Bills pass offense isn't that robust, but Harvin's departure gives Charles Clay and Robert Woods a better chance at relevance, and could help LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams' target shares.

Cleveland - The NFL has denied WR Josh Gordon's application for reinstatement. He can re-apply on August 1. Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports had reported earlier this week that Gordon failed another league drug test in early March due to a positive for marijuana result and a diluted sample.

Why It Matters: Gordon was going as high as the third round in early MFL10s, now he might fall well into the second half of drafts. With clean tests through the summer, he could play in 2016, but the pattern with Gordon is clear and he's only worth calculated risks in early drafts and dynasty trades right now. Duke Johnson Jr and Gary Barnidge look to be in for a large number of targets this year.

Cincinnati - The Bengals signed head coach Marvin Lewis to a one-year extension through 2017.

Why It Matters: Management was reportedly not exactly won over by Lewis's recent playoff record, but this insures he'll be back for 2016. The team has taken a year by year approach with Lewis's status since 2013, so this doesn't dispel the idea that Lewis will be out without improvement this year.

Denver - 2015 third-round pick Jeff Heuerman will have a chance to earn the starting job and he has impressed the team in a few short workouts, according to ESPN's Jeff Legwold.

Why It Matters: The Broncos have an offense that can favor the tight end in the Gary Kubiak system, but the quality of wide receivers and lack of quality at quarterback makes this a potentially barren situation even with the schematic advantage. Heuerman is only worth monitoring in very deep dynasty and tight end premium leagues.

Miami - Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported that WR DeVante Parker tore scar tissue in his foot in Week 8 of the 2015 season.

Why It Matters: We never like to hear about wide receivers having lingering foot problems, but Parker recovered to look like a rising star in December. He should start this year and have the opportunity to pay off on his 4th/5th round early ADP, although that doesn't leave much room for profit.

New England - The Patriots signed RB LeGarrette Blount to a one-year, one million dollar deal.

Why It Matters: The Patriots and Blount can't quit each other, as the big back will get yet another chance to be the finisher of drives and games this year. He's worth a late pick in early drafts and will at least be emergency/injury/bye depth if he makes the team and no better competition is drafted in two weeks.

New York Jets - The Jets acquired OT Ryan Clady and a seventh-round pick from the Broncos for a fifth-round pick. The Jets then restructured Clady's deal to a one-year, six million dollar deal with three million guaranteed and an option for 2017 worth up to 13 million dollars. This followed the surprise retirement of starting left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who the team was pushing to take a pay cut this year. Ferguson had previously written a piece about the movie Concussion.

Why It Matters: The Jets did open up a lot of cap room with the swapping of Clady for Ferguson for a potential signing of Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the assurances of good and healthy play are gone, as Clady's prove it contract reflects. Ferguson joins a growing list of players who have retired with money-making years left on the table.

Pittsburgh - RB Le'Veon Bell is using a treatment called "Blood Flow Restriction" in the rehab from his torn MCL.

Why It Matters: Bell has suffered non-trivial season-ending knee injuries each of the last two seasons. While they aren't catastrophic based on the typical way we classify knee injuries, the long rehab period of this Week 8 injury underscores the seriousness of the injury. He hopes to be back for Week 1, but the Steelers aren't putting any specific timetable on Bell's return. DeAngelo Williams could be very valuable again this year and is a must for early Bell drafters.

Tennessee - The Titans traded the #1 overall pick, their 4th round (113) pick and 6th round pick (177) to the Los Angeles Rams for the #15, 43, 45, and 76 selections in this year's draft, and the Rams first and third round picks in 2017.

Why It Matters: The Titans did the right thing here. There wasn't a generational prospect at any position this year, and turning the #1 pick into a bevy of early picks instead of one key player is wise when you have a quarterback, but not much else. Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil was the shoo-in to go #1, but now a quarterback (Cal's Jared Goff or North Dakota State's Carson Wentz) will go #1 to Los Angeles, leaving Tunsil to possibly fall to San Diego at #3 or Baltimore at #6. The Titans have plenty of picks now to address long term questions at running back and wide receiver. 2014 #11 pick Taylor Lewan will stay at left tackle for the Titans.


Atlanta - QB Matt Ryan said second-year WR Justin Hardy looked more comfortable, was in great shape, and had a good three days in the passing camp Ryan organized, but Atlanta Journal-Constitution beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter penned that Hardy needs to work on his ability to separate against man coverage. Head coach Dan Quinn did say Hardy "worked hard" at developing that ability in the second half of the season.

Why It Matters: Hardy should be the slot receiver with Mohamed Sanu outside (although the two could swap places in some three-wide sets) unless the second-year player falls on his face in camp and the preseason. Still, the only two targets in this offense that matter in fantasy leagues are Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman.

Green Bay - NFL Media's Albert Breer reported that RB Eddie Lacy transformed in a "remarkable" way, redistributing weight from his midsection to his shoulders and arms. Breer also said Lacy's camp expects the Packers to be happy with his condition when he reports to the team later this year.

Why It Matters: Lacy was the "safe" first-round pick a year ago. Now, he is available in the third round. While James Starks re-signing is a bummer for Lacy's ceiling, he should have every opportunity to put up RB1 numbers this year and be a good risk/reward proposition if he remains in the third round come August.

Los Angeles - The Rams gave up the #15, 43, 45, and 76 selections in this year's draft, plus their first and third round picks in 2017 for the Tennessee Titans #1 overall pick, and their 4th round (113) pick and 6th round pick (177) in this year's draft.

Why It Matters: The Rams will draft a quarterback, either California's Jared Goff or North Dakota State's Carson Wentz. The majority believe it is Wentz, but Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that they are leaning towards Goff. The answer will likely remain a mystery until it is announced. The Eagles were reportedly also bidding for the pick, but fell short in part because they lacked a second-round pick after the Sam Bradford (ironically the quarterback whose presence persuaded the Rams to trade out of Robert Griffin in 2012) trade. The Browns could be a trade partner if the quarterback the Eagles want is still there at #2. The Rams won't pick again until the fourth round and appear to have found their "anti-RG3", ie a quarterback worth mortgaging the future to get out of mediocrity. Maybe not this year, but there is long term hope for this morose pass offense.

Los Angeles - An arrest warrant for RB Tre Mason has been issued after he failed to show for his arraignment in Broward County, Florida on reckless driving, marijuana possession, and resisting arrest charges. 

Why It Matters: Mason might not even make the team at this rate. Restricted free agent Benny Cunningham was signed to a one-year deal recently, and he should be considered the handcuff to Todd Gurley - and one with sneaky value as a good receiver.

New York Giants - The Giants signed free agent RB Bobby Rainey to a one year, 840,000 dollar deal.

Why It Matters: Rainey is a journeyman level back, but he has been productive when given the chance by Tampa Bay. The Giants backfield is led by Rashad Jennings, but if Rainey makes the team, he could find opportunity via injury unless the Giants draft a running back early.

San Francisco - ESPN's Mark Dominik believes the Colin Kaepernick to Denver deal is "done" contingent on the 49ers drafting a quarterback. Dominik, a former NFL GM, cited the fact that Kaepernick has visited the Broncos facility, and that never happens unless a deal and contract are done.

Why It Matters: The "drafting a quarterback" part is a sticking point now with the #1 pick earmarked for a quarterback. Cleveland at #2 and Dallas at #4 are both possible quarterback drafters, so unless San Francisco wants Memphis's Paxton Lynch, the likelihood of this deal getting done went down when the Titans traded out of the #1 pick. Kaepernick could still get dealt in an alternate deal, but we wouldn't expect the San Francisco or Denver pass offenses to flourish this year no matter where Kaepernick plays.

Seattle - GM John Schneider would be surprised if TE Jimmy Graham and RB Thomas Rawls aren't ready for Week 1. He added that the team is still "working on" the running back position.

Why It Matters: Graham had a very serious patellar tendon tear, while Rawls had a broken ankle that did not require surgery to repair, but both seem to be on similar timelines. Graham wasn't a consistent fantasy force with Seattle before the injury that no fantasy stud has ever come back from the same, so he is falling out of the top 10 tight ends in early drafts. Rawls is still staying firm in the third round even though the team brought back Christine Michael and could still sign or draft another back in light of Schneider's comments.

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