Welcome to our new weekly recap, Bump and Run. This column will run every Thursday through training camp.
Cam Newton found a pot of gold at the end of his rainbow.
The Carolina Panthers inked the two-time Pro Bowler to a five-year, $103.8 million deal on Tuesday. Newton would have entered free agency next offseason had a deal not been reached. Carolina probably would have franchise-tagged him, keeping him under team control for another year.
The contract works for both sides. On Newton’s end, he’s getting a significant raise. His cap hit was $7 million last season including a $3.6 million signing bonus. And though he didn’t take a hometown discount, it’s clear the former Heisman Trophy winner had no intention of leaving Carolina.
For the Panthers, Newton’s deal, which includes $60 million guaranteed, makes both football and financial sense. He’s getting less than Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco but slightly more than Andy Dalton and Ryan Tannehill. By signing Newton now instead of waiting for Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck to set the market, the Panthers made sure they wouldn’t have to overpay for their franchise quarterback.
So what exactly are the Panthers paying for? They’re getting a quarterback who’s not elite but far from a bust, a dependable performer who’s taken Carolina to the playoffs each of the last two seasons. His passing numbers have been strictly average (85.4 career passer rating), but he’s balanced that out by running for 33 touchdowns, fourth-most in the league since 2011.
To be fair, the 26-year-old hasn’t had the greatest supporting cast during his tenure in Carolina. His top receivers have been an aging Steve Smith (now on Baltimore), the gifted but flawed Kelvin Benjamin and late bloomer Greg Olsen. Despite taking some huge hits and scrambling a little too much for comfort, Newton has only missed two games in his four seasons with the Panthers.
Detractors will question Newton’s body language and dismiss his division titles because the NFC South is a train wreck. But like him or not, he’s here to stay.
After spending the bulk of his offseason riding camels and going on Twitter rants, Adrian Peterson finally came to his senses. After a long and very public battle with his employer, Peterson decided playing for the Minnesota Vikings was better than not playing at all. He joined the team for OTAs Tuesday, mostly because missing it would have cost him a $250,000 workout bonus.
Fed up with the team for not standing by him during his child abuse scandal, Peterson spent months looking for a way out of Minnesota. There was never a clear path. Teams were hesitant to give up a first-round pick for Peterson, a 30-year-old who played just one game last season. The Vikings wisely realized they were better off with Peterson than without him. With three years and $45 million left on his deal, Peterson never had any leverage. He still doesn’t have any guaranteed money past this season.
Now that Peterson has arrived, the Vikings have every reason to be optimistic. Teddy Bridgewater was the best rookie quarterback in the league in 2014 and is only going to get better. The same goes for receiver Charles Johnson, who came on strong late in the year. If the Vikings can go 7-9 with Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata anchoring the running game, they can certainly make a playoff push with Peterson. Remember, he has fresh legs after missing most of last season. It sounds like he’s been hitting the gym too. A few months ago, Yahoo’s Charles Robinson said Peterson looked like he could “rip a keg in half.”
Yahoo Makes Broadcast History
Mark your calendars. History will be made on October 25.
That’s when the Bills and Jaguars meet in London for a game at Wembley Stadium. Of course, that’s nothing new. Teams have been playing games in London since 2007. What’s new is that Yahoo is streaming the game online. It’s the first Internet-only broadcast in NFL history. The game starts at 9:30 a.m. ET and will only be available on television in the local Buffalo and Jacksonville markets. CBS will provide its broadcast crew for Yahoo.
CNN’s Brian Stelter said Yahoo paid at least “eight figures” for the rights. That’s a lot of eggs to put in one basket, particularly for a 9:30 game featuring two teams that went a combined 12-20 last season.
Even if it’s not Manning versus Brady, you have to admire Yahoo’s forward thinking. The NFL’s television deal doesn’t expire until 2022 but it’s easy to see sites like Yahoo gaining a broadcasting presence as the Internet continues to evolve. The Bills/Jaguars game, one of three to be played in London this year, will be free to watch online. It won’t be available on DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package.
Johnny Manziel has done all the right things this offseason. He went to rehab to get his drinking under control. He moved to a suburb outside the city so he could stay out of the spotlight. Teammates and coaches have noticed his improved work ethic and have called him a “consummate professional.”
But that doesn’t mean things are suddenly going to be easy for Johnny Football. They never are.
While attending a PGA event in Irving, Texas this past weekend, Manziel was harassed by an 18-year-old fan near the pool at the Four Seasons Hotel. Things came to a head when Manziel tossed his water bottle in the heckler’s direction. Police were called to the scene but no charges were filed. Manziel did not appear to be intoxicated. Browns head coach Mike Pettine defended his player by calling it a “nonstory.” It just goes to show, wherever Manziel is, he’s always the story.
With the water bottle incident behind him (we think), Manziel can now focus on learning the Browns’ offense under new coordinator John DeFilippo. So far, it’s been a struggle. Watching him at OTAs, Tony Gossi of ESPN Cleveland called Manziel “a fish out of water.” The Browns are fully expected to go with Josh McCown Week 1 against the Jets, which takes some of the pressure off Manziel as he tries to find his comfort zone.
AFC Quick Hits: Titans QB Marcus Mariota topped NFL jersey sales for the month of May. Rounding out the top three were Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston and New England quarterback Tom Brady … Bishop Sankey has emphasized handoffs during his offseason workouts. The fact that Sankey has to work hard to grasp something as fundamental as taking a handoff should be a red flag for fantasy owners … It sounds like the Jaguars are going all-in on T.J. Yeldon. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said the second-round pick has a chance to be an “every-down back” in his rookie season … Jack Del Rio will be kicker Sebastian Janikowski’s ninth head coach since entering the league in 2000. Oakland hasn’t had a winning season since 2002 … Sports Illustrated said the Bills were a “team to watch” for Ray Rice, though a team source quickly refuted that report. The 28-year-old hasn’t played since video surfaced of him hitting his wife in an elevator … Rex Ryan is definitely keeping things loose at OTAs. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” played during warm-ups on Wednesday … After years of platooning with C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson may not see the field much this season. Jackson expects starter LeSean McCoy “to get 300-plus carries” … Broncos running back C.J. Anderson checked in at a sleek 221 pounds when OTAs opened on Monday. He kept the weight off by cutting ice cream and burgers out of his diet … With new coordinator Rick Dennison content to pound the rock, Emmanuel Sanders believes he’ll have a greatly reduced role in Denver’s offense this season … After his messy exit two years ago, Wes Welker said he’d be open to playing for the Patriots. The 34-year-old has had a tough time landing a team because of his concussion history … Tom Brady’s Deflategate appeal will be heard on June 23. Commissioner Roger Goodell declined to recuse himself from the proceedings … Six NFL players made cameos in the new Entourage movie including Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Clay Matthews, Stevan Ridley and Russell Wilson … The Patriots have a Darrelle Revis-sized hole at cornerback but Devin McCourty has no interest in moving back to his old position. McCourty has settled in nicely at free safety after beginning his career at corner … The Gronkowski family will appear on Family Feud with Steve Harvey because why not? … Bengals running back Rex Burkhead has been getting reps at wide receiver. Obviously, he’s no threat to starters A.J. Green and Marvin Jones … Fantasy owners can’t be thrilled to hear that Jeremy Hill expects to be part of a committee with Giovani Bernard. Hill led the Bengals with 1,124 rushing yards in 2014 … The Chargers met with the mayor of San Diego Tuesday to discuss a new stadium. The Rams have planted their flag in Inglewood while the Raiders and Chargers have discussed plans for a $1.7 billion joint stadium in Carson … Ravens wideout Aldrick Robinson sprained his MCL at OTAs on Tuesday. He’ll be out until training camp … Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie will not endorse Richard Sherman as the NFL’s best cornerback. He believes that distinction belongs to teammate Darrelle Revis … Three Jets including Cromartie, Willie Colon and Leger Douzable are skipping OTAs to attend Broadcast Boot Camp this week in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Green Bay fullback John Kuhn will also be in attendance … Muhammad Wilkerson hasn’t shown up to voluntary workouts but is expected to report to the Jets’ mandatory minicamp later this month. He’s unhappy with his contract situation … Cleveland’s Dwayne Bowe suffered a knee injury at practice on Tuesday. He came down awkwardly after going up for a catch … Three years ago, J.J. Watt picked up the Dolphins’ snap count from watching HBO’s Hard Knocks. Watt won’t be able to do that this year because he’ll be on Hard Knocks.
NFC Quick Hits: Another week, another no-show for Martellus Bennett. The Pro Bowl tight end wants a raise but the Bears are unlikely to give him one. At his current salary, Bennett is the NFL’s 13th highest-paid tight end … Falcons running back Antone Smith was back at practice on Tuesday. It took him almost seven months to recover from a broken leg … Rookie Arik Armstead won’t join the 49ers until June 12 because he’s still finishing his semester at the University of Oregon … Cowboys DE Greg Hardy will have his appeal heard on Thursday. He’s hoping to have his ten-game suspension reduced … According to Pro Football Focus, the Cowboys recorded just 12 drops last season. That’s the lowest figure we’ve seen since PFF began tracking drop totals … Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas is already back at practice after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. Seattle initially feared he might miss the start of the season … The Seahawks are moving B.J. Daniels to wide receiver full-time. That leaves Russell Wilson and R.J. Archer as the only quarterbacks on Seattle’s roster … Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson arrived at OTAs on Tuesday. He missed voluntary workouts last week while dealing with “personal matters” … Nick Underhill of the Baton Rouge Advocate expects C.J. Spiller to lead New Orleans in touches this season. He’ll be sharing a backfield with Mark Ingram … Cam Jordan signed a monster five-year, $60 million extension with the Saints on Tuesday. Fellow defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul should expect a similar deal when he hits free agency in 2016 … Former Bengal Jermaine Gresham visited the Saints earlier this week. Even if Gresham signs, Josh Hill is still expected to start at tight end … Here’s a depressing statistic from Football Outsiders: 24.7 percent of Zach Etz’s targets last season were deemed uncatchable. No wonder Philadelphia made a move at quarterback this offseason … The Eagles have switched Walter Thurmond from cornerback to safety. He’s been getting starter reps during OTAs … Sam Bradford returned to 7-on-7 drills on Tuesday. The Eagles QB missed last year with a torn ACL … Another Eagles quarterback, Mark Sanchez, went viral after a fan recorded him singing “I Want It That Way” by The Backstreet Boys at karaoke. Realizing how bad he must have sounded, Sanchez quickly grabbed the fan’s phone, but the damage was already done.
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