Tag:New Orleans Saints
Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:33 pm
 

2012 NFL Franchise Tags: Winners and losers

Jackson's a big winner Monday, as he escaped the franchise tag like it was a defensive back. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

A record 21 players received a franchise tag in advance of Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline, including six kicker-types. You can see everyone that got tagged at our 2012 NFL Franchise Tag Tracker. Let's break down the winners and losers below.

Winners

Vincent Jackson: Jackson held out most of 2010 because he wanted to get paid. He then signed his franchise-tag tender in 2011 because he wanted to get guaranteed money. Now that the Bolts declined to tag him, he's going to get filthy rich as one of the top two wide receivers to hit the free-agent market on March 13. Jackson and Marques Colston are the two top talents on a market that features several teams -- the Redskins, Rams, Jaguars, Vikings, and Seahawks, to name a few -- in need of a wideout.

Carl Nicks: Nicks reportedly hasn't heard anything on a new deal from the Saints and with New Orleans not reaching a deal with quarterback Drew Brees before the 4 p.m. ET deadline, Nicks is going to hit the open market on March 13. He's 26, a two-time Pro Bowler and made the All-Pro team in

Matt Flynn: Flynn wasn't expected to receive a tag from the Packers, but it's official now, and that means he'll hit the free-agent market. This is critical for Flynn given the number of quarterback-needy teams out there. It's also critical because the Packers won't control his next destination; if they tagged Flynn for the price of $14.4 million guaranteed (which he would sprint to sign), then they'd almost certainly end up trading him. Now Flynn gets to land a bigger contract on the open market.

Brandon Carr: The Chiefs decided to use their franchise tag on wideout Dwayne Bowe. That's a smart move, considering they signed cornerback Stanford Routt recently. But it also means that Carr, a 25-year-old defensive back coming off his best season in 2011, will have the chance to hit the open market. Young free-agent cornerbacks are a coveted commodity, and Carr should expect to get paid handsomely.

Stevie Johnson: The leverage of the guaranteed money involved with using the franchise tag on a wide receiver ($9.4 million) coupled with the deadline on Monday really escalated the talks with the Bills and Johnson, and he ended up netting a deal worth $7.25 million per year. That's not exactly on par with the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL, but

Losers

Wes Welker: The Pats could very well end up getting Wes Welker signed to a long-term deal, but he can't be happy about being put in a situation that could have him not reaching full free agency until he turns 32 (he'll turn 31 in May of this offseason) if the Patriots simply want him to play another year on the franchise-tag value. Welker would've hit a market that paid him handsomely and it might be difficult for the Patriots to pay him the money he wants over longer period of time. We could see a holdout here.

New Orleans Saints: As if things weren't bad enough for the Saints -- see here, here, here, here, here and, whew, here -- they're likely going to lose their top wide receiver (Marques Colston) and one of their top offensive linemen (Nicks) to free agency. Their quarterback (Drew Brees) is not happy with his contract situation, and losing two weapons like that won't do much to improve his mood. So once they get done with BountyGate, there should be plenty of more fun to deal with.

Cliff Avril
: Detroit should be thrilled that they bring Avril back, but that doesn't mean the defensive end has to be happy. He's not, because he knows he'd kill on the open market this season. He'll get more than $10 million guaranteed next year and that's why it seemed possible that the Lions could let him walk -- they've got more than half their salary cap tied up in Avril, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson next year. So there's some good news: the Lions very much would like to lock up Avril to a long deal.

Houston Texans
: The Texans locked up Arian Foster to a five-year deal that takes him through his 30-year-old season, which is perfect timing for a running back. But it's also giving a lot of money to a running back. (Foster is a tremendously talented guy, a perfect fit for what the Texans do, a great pass-blocker, a great pass-catcher and many other things. But he is still a running back.) On that same day, they were unable to secure Mario Williams, who was their No. 1 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Super Mario will become a free agent, and unless he's willing to take a serious discount to stay with the Texans, it's hard to fathom how they keep him.

Pittsburgh Steelers: It seemed like the Steelers decision to go on a cutting spree and get below the salary-cap line would result in them using the franchise tag on Mike Wallace, who's a restricted free agent. They didn't and because of a confluence of events, they could be in trouble. One, Stevie got $7.2 million a year just now. Two, Jackson and Colston will get big money in free agency. And three, various tags on other high-profile wide receivers will draw more interest for teams that could consider giving Wallace an offer sheet. He may very well end up staying with the Steelers, but there's at least reason to be concerned.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:30 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 5:38 pm
 

Players come to Gregg Williams' defense

Then-Jags defensive coordinator Gregg Williams signals a play during training camp in July 2006. It was a simpler time.  (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was summoned to the NFL's Manhattan headquarters Monday to discuss further the league's findings that the Saints (where Williams was the defensive coordinator from 2009-2011) had a "pay for performance" bounty program that rewarded players for injuring opponents.

Williams issued an apology Friday, hours after the the news broke, and in the hours and days since everybody has weighed in on the matter. Oft-fined and once suspended Steelers linebacker James Harrison tweeted Sunday: “We’ll see how concerned the NFL is about player safety when they decide what the punishment for the saints is. I’ll just say this, if that was me I would have been kicked out of the NFL!”

New Orleans' forgettable offseason
Later that day, Harrison retweeted this from teammate Ryan Clark, who played for the Redskins when Williams was the coach there: "Never in my career has a defensive coach singled out a player and put $ on his head. I've never been offered $ to put a player out of a game."

During a Monday appearance on ESPN, Clark finished his thought (via PFT.com): ‘If you knock out this guy we will give you a certain amount of money for it.’ Whether it was my head coach Joe Gibbs, whether it was Gregg Williams, I was never, ever approached to take a guy out. …

“If these things are going on, you speak up while they’re happening,” Clark said. “If you’re in a meeting and a coach comes in and says, ‘Hey, No. 16, whoever he is, if you knock him out of the game we’re going to pay you x amount of dollars.’ Then you blow the whistle then and say, ‘Look, I’m not going to be a part of this. If we continue to do this, I will report it.’ To me, that’s making a statement, that’s making a stand and that’s being loyal to all the players in this league.”

Another former Redskins defensive back, Fred Smoot, also came to Williams' defense.

“First of all I want to correct everybody,” Smoot said Monday after calling into 106.7 The Fan (via the Sports Bog). “It was never a system. And let me tell you something: this was a thing that I think started in training camp with us as players. It started off with who could get the most interceptions, who could get the biggest hit or who could get the sacks, and we took it into games."

NFL rules prohibit monetary incentives for interceptions and sacks, too. Although Williams probably wouldn't have been sitting in commissioner Roger Goodell's office Monday if that's all he was accused of. Smoot continued:

“Gregg never said take out this player or take out this player," he said. "But I’m sorry, back when I played football, we used to actually hit people. It was legal to go out and hit people. And we wanted to be the most physical team, and we wanted to inflict pain, but in no way possible did we ever want to go out there and endanger anybody’s career or take somebody truly out of the game....

“It was more or less we would start a pot in the defensive backfield of who could get the most forced fumbles or who could get the most interceptions, who could do that. It was never a bounty; it was more or less a pot that all of us players put in. Gregg never put in a dime. Gregg never came in and said do this, do this, do that. We did that ourselves, as a way to kind of pump each other up to go make more plays.”

Smoot admitted that he understood why the league might frown upon bounty programs but reiterated that “I never saw anyone paid for knocking someone out of the game. Did we as players put in pots to make plays, what we called the Big Splash Plays Pot? Yeah, we did that. WE did that. Players. That started by the captains on the team…."

Smoots remarks runs counter to a Washington Post report from Friday. Mark Maske wrote that three former Redskins players "described a coach (in Williams) who doled out thousands of dollars to Redskins defenders who measured up to Williams’s scoring system for rugged play, including 'kill shots' that knocked opposing teams’stars out of a game. 'You got compensated more for a kill shot than you did other hits,' one former player said. Compensation ranged from 'hundreds to thousands of dollars' with the biggest payout thought to be $8,000."

Wherever the truth lies, things could end badly for Williams. And to a lesser extent, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton, who had knowledge of the reported bounty program, and the Saints' organization.

If it's any consolation to Williams (and we can't imagine it is but we're including it here for completeness), Weight Watchers spokesman Charles Barkley is appalled by former players anonymously ratting Williams out.

“You have to be a punk to snitch that out,” Barkley said during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show. “That’s like giving a reporter an anonymous quote. That makes you a punk, if you do anonymous, but also, you don’t bring that out X amount of years later. I mean you don’t compete in it if you don’t want to be in it. But I’ve seen at least three or four well-known NFL players say all teams have bounties. So I’m glad they came to Gregg Williams’ defense. Because I’m pretty sure all teams have that.”

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed
Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:08 am
Edited on: March 5, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Favre on Saints $10K bounty: 'I'm not pissed'

Favre got leveled more than once against New Orleans back in 2009. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

At the heart of BountyGate (and I'll personally pay someone $10 to knock that name out of play) is the 2009 NFC Championship Game, when the Saints beat Brett Favre and the Vikings. As reported by CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered up $10,000 for anyone who knocked Favre out of the game.

Latest NFL News, Notes

You'd think that news might upset Favre, but he told Sports Illustrated's Peter King that he was "not pissed" and that he respects Vilma as well as then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

"I'm not pissed," Favre said. "It's football. I don't think anything less of those guys. I would have loved to play with Vilma. Hell of a player. I've got a lot of respect for Gregg Williams. He's a great coach. I'm not going to make a big deal about it. In all honesty, there's a bounty of some kind on you on every play. Now, in that game there were some plays that, I don't want to say were odd, but I'd throw the ball and whack, on every play. Hand it off, whack. Over and over. Some were so blatant. I hand the ball to Percy Harvin early and got drilled right in the chin. They flagged that one at least.

"I've always been friends with Darren Sharper, and he came in a couple times and popped me hard. I remember saying, 'What THE hell you doing, Sharp?' I felt there should have been more calls against the Saints. I thought some of their guys should have been fined more.''

Favre did say, however, that he was glad the "truth comes out" now with respect to how the Saints behaved on the field, although he wouldn't exactly be compelled to serve as a witness in a court of law.

"Now the truth comes out. That's good. But that's football. The only thing that really pisses me off about the whole thing is we lost the game. That's the thing about that day that still bothers me. And that's the way it goes. If they wanted me to testify in court about this, they'd be calling the wrong guy."

It would be interesting to see whether or not Favre would meet with Roger Goodell, though. It's unlikely he would, and as a retired player, it's also unlikely Goodell and the league could compel him to take a trip to New York anyway.

But it's not like they have to: replays of the game against the Saints show countless instances where Favre took late shots. They were deemed "aggressive" at the time, but with the knowledge that there was a five-figure bounty on knocking Favre out, "malicious" seems like a better description.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 4, 2012 5:43 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 8:00 am
 

Gregg Williams to meet with NFL again

Gregg Williams, right, has been summoned to meet with Roger Goodell again. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

The NFL has summoned former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to New York City on Monday for more discussions with security officials about alleged violations of the league's bounty rules.

The meetings with NFL officials, including a possible sit down with commissioner Roger Goodell, come in the wake of new reports that Williams ran illegal bounty programs during his stints with the Redskins and Bills.

New Orleans' forgettable offseason
Obviously, this is terrible, though not unexpected, news for the current Rams defensive coordinator, recently hired for Jeff Fisher’s new staff in St. Louis.

In an email to The Associated Press, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote, the league will continue "addressing the issues raised as part of our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of the game."

Already, Williams has apologized for his actions, saying, “I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, Mr. Benson, and the New Orleans Saints fans for my participation in the 'pay for performance' program while I was with the Saints. It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”

Of course, that statement was released before we knew about the possibility of the programs in Washington, where he was the defensive coordinator under Joe Gibbs, and Buffalo, where he was head coach from 2001-03.

And while there has been a report that Williams would face a fine but not likely a suspension -- again, before we heard about Washington and Buffalo -- I’m guessing Goodell is going to leave all disciplinary options open after listening to what Williams has to say.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.


Posted on: March 3, 2012 10:10 pm
 

Did Gregg Williams compensate players in BUF?

One of his former players in Buffalo said Williams encouraged his players to knock out opponents for financial rewards. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

The NFL already has informed its fans that, under Gregg Williams reign as Saints defensive coordinator, he contributed to a bounty pool that helped motivate New Orleans players to try to knock opponents out of games. He’s since apologized and said it was a terrible mistake.

Then, there was a report Saturday that the NFL would investigate the Redskins to determine whether Williams pulled the same shenanigans in Washington when he was the defensive coordinator there under Joe Gibbs from 2004-07 (Gibbs has said he wasn’t aware of a pool, but former player Matt Bowen admitted in a piece for the Chicago Tribune the Redskins had one in place).

Now, the Buffalo News reported Saturday night that, when Williams was the Bills head coach from 2001-03, he rewarded players for injuring opponents and making other important plays.

"There was financial compensation," former safety Coy Wire told the newspaper, along with three other former players who asked not to be named.

And it wasn’t just rewards for knocking out a player to gain a competitive advantage – which obviously is bad enough. No, according to Wire, it was a malicious-type atmosphere.

"There were rewards,” he said. “There never was a point where cash was handed out in front of the team. But surely, you were going to be rewarded. When somebody made a big hit that hurt an opponent, it was commended and encouraged."

And now at this point, Wire can’t believe he ever thought that was the right way to play the game.

"Now, it's unthinkable that was my reality," Wire said. "I shattered (former Lions running back) James Stewart's shoulder, and he never played again. I was showered with praise for that. It's a shame that's how it was. Now I see how wrong that was."

And assuming the NFL investigates these charges and punishes the offenders, Williams also will get the chance to learn just how wrong it was. And at some point maybe we should wonder whether, assuming all of this proves true, whether Williams deserves to continue his coaching career in the NFL.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 3, 2012 3:46 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 6:11 pm
 

Loomis confirms Saints have tagged Drew Brees

Brees reportedly won't be happy if he gets tagged. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

The Saints contract dispute with quarterback Drew Brees could continue on for a while now, as New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis confirmed, via CBSSports.com's Larry Holder, that New Orleans has placed the franchise tag on its franchise player.

This news, originally reported by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, comes as a bit of a surprise, simply because the potential of the tag upsetting Brees is so high and because common sense told us that eventually the two sides would come to an agreement. But if the organization has tagged Brees, the two sides must have been far apart in their contract negotiations.

New Orleans' forgettable offseason
Like, I don’t know, $5 million a year apart, as CBSSports.com’s Ryan Wilson told us the other day?

All is not lost, though, because the team and Brees have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal that would erase him having to play under the tag (if not, Brees will make about $15 million for 2012, because it's an exclusive tag, meaning he can't talk to other teams).

Otherwise, if they can’t come to an agreement, could this spell Brees’ potential departure from New Orleans after the 2012 seasno?

As CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman opined, "What the hell are the Saints doing? I've said this before. There are certain players, only a handful, where you open the vault and roll out the cash. You give them a blank check. Brees is one of those players. Franchising Brees is going to anger him, no question. Players despise the tag because it limits their earning potential. So you've ticked off your best player. For what? Why?"

Of course, the Saints role as the bad guy was diminished a bit Friday (ahem, before the Saints role as the bad guy REALLY increased) by Larry Holder’s report that the Saints actually offered to make Brees the highest-paid player in the NFL but that Brees and his agent, Tom Condon, had turned down New Orleans.

Which didn't shock CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco, who wrote, "Let's get off this Brees-is-the-savior of New Orleans talk while we're at it. If this negotiation has taught us anything, it's that all players -- no matter what image they portray -- are in it for themselves.
Never forget that."

While tagging Brees would be bad for the Saints and for Brees, guard Carl Nicks is likely ecstatic by this latest news.

And that's really the other tough part for the franchise. Having to use its tag on Brees means the Saints likely will lose top-notch guard Carl Nicks and very well could have to say goodbye to receiver Marques Colston. Two more reasons why nobody in New Orleans should be happy with this development.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 3, 2012 2:21 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 2:22 pm
 

Report: NFL will investigate 'Skins for bounty

By Josh Katzowitz

Former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs says he didn’t know his defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, might have put together a bounty program in Washington before he did the same thing with the Saints, but it sounds like the NFL now will look into what transpired in Washington during Williams’ time there.

That’s what the Washington Post is reporting, citing an anonymous source who says it is standard for the league to investigate accusations that rules have been broken.

New Orleans' forgettable offseason

At this point, it seems fairly clear that there was a bounty program in Washington, especially if you read former Redskins player Matt Bowen’s piece today in the Chicago Tribune in which he writes:

“That's right. We got paid for big hits, clean hits by the rule book. … Money jumped in the playoffs. A bigger stage equaled more coin. Instead of a few hundred dollars, now you got a thousand, maybe more, depending on the player. That's the truth. I can't sugarcoat this. It was a system we all bought into.”

Gibbs told the Post on Friday, “In my life … I wouldn’t ever tell a player to hurt somebody.

“They may say, ‘Well, Joe would know, because everybody else knew.’ But I didn’t know. I’m shocked by this.”

With the NFL investigating, we should have a better idea of who know what and when they knew it.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 3, 2012 12:17 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 12:21 pm
 

Report: Williams to face fine but not suspension

Williams and Payton are in a heap of trouble. How much, exactly, will be up to Goodell. (Eye on Football Illustration/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

It's been a busy few days for the New Orleans Saints and for all the wrong reasons. Barely two months removed from quarterback Drew Brees setting the NFL record for passing yards in season, now the organization is faced with trying to re-sign Brees and on Friday, and NFL investigation revealed that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was complicit in creating a "pay for performance" bounty system that rewarded Saints players for injuring opponents.

Williams, now with the Rams, apologized Friday night saying, in part that, "It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”

New Orleans' forgettable offseason
Except that New Orleans wasn't an isolated incident. At least four former Redskins players said Williams had a similar system in Washington when he was the defensive coordinator under Joe Gibbs. (On Saturday, Gibbs said he had no knowledge of it.)

The NFL, meanwhile, concluded that while current Saints head coach Sean Payton wasn't a direct participant in Williams' bounty program, he "did not make any detailed inquiry or otherwise seek to learn the facts, and failed to stop the bounty program."

So now what?

In reading through the comments, many fans want Williams suspended, some going so far as to suggest a lifetime ban. That seems extreme, but then again, "pay for performance" rewarded players for injuries. That's among the worst charges you can level against a coach or a player -- that they intentionally tried to injure opponents.  Even Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Public Enemy No. 1 when it comes to NFL violence, said in October 2010 that "I don't want to injure anybody. There's a big difference between being hurt and being injured. You get hurt, you shake it off and come back the next series or the next game. I try to hurt people."

In that sense, Williams is worse than Harrison, right? Wherever he lies on the spectrum of dirty tactics, early indications are that Williams won't be forced to miss any games. Details via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"One league source said Williams might be in line for a large fine but didn't think a suspension would be forthcoming. Then again, the source said, 'This is two strikes against him,' referring to controversial comments Williams made before Super Bowl XLIV (at the end of the 2009 season) about knocking Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning out of the game."

Thomas added: "Another source said the expectations was that Williams' fine would be in six figures — perhaps as much as $250,000 — but that head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis would be penalized more heavily."

Will the sanctions have any lasting effects on the Saints? Who knows. In the wake of Spygate in 2007, the Patriots were fined $250,000, head coach Bill Belichick was fined anther $500,000 and the team lost their 2008 first-round draft pick. They went undefeated during the 2007 regular season but didn't win a playoff game from 2008-2010, and haven't won a Super Bowl since 2005.

While we wait for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to drop the hammer, take a moment to enjoy the mock-up of the movie poster for the inevitable made-for-TV spectacle that's sure to follow. (Yes, it has to be science fiction. And, yes, in case it's not blindingly obvious: this is a joke.)

Early cast list includes Williams as Vader (the hands-on leader), Vilma a Boba Fett (the enforcer), Favre as Jar Jar Binks (because who didn't want to knock Jar Jar out?) and Payton as Jabba (in charge but less interested in details as results). Also, in case you missed it the first time: THIS IS A JOKE. (Eye on Football Illustration)

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com