|Chiefs owner Clark Hunt (left) has offered fourth-year GM Scott Pioli (right) a two-year contract extension, but the embattled Pioli has yet to accept. (US Presswire)|
Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli has been under intense scrutiny from fans and local media, but has been staunchly supported by owner Clark Hunt, who despite the turmoil recently offered Pioli a two-year extension, according to a league source.
Pioli has yet to sign the deal, the source indicated, with the buyout language in the contract one of the primary reasons why an agreement has yet to be struck. Pioli declined to comment on this report. Hunt, through a team spokesman, also declined comment.
Pioli arrived in Kansas City in 2009 amid great fanfare and expectations, having been a front office executive under Bill Belichick with New England as that franchise became something of a dynasty. However, his first major move -- acquiring Patriots backup quarterback Matt Cassel -- has largely backfired, and now Cassel and Pioli are the primary targets of fan frustration. Pioli's first hire as head coach, Todd Haley, did not last three seasons, with a stormy relationship between the two a major theme of their tenure together.
Things reached a nadir for Kansas City last week, as the Chiefs blew a game to Baltimore despite dominating play. Penalties and turnovers again doomed them, Cassel gave the ball away repeatedly and was cheered by some after being knocked from the game with a concussion. The Chiefs fell to 1-4, ending an afternoon that began with a fan-funded banner being flown over Arrowhead Stadium calling for Pioli to be fired and Cassel to be benched.
The relationship between the franchise and its fans seems particularly precarious. It remains to be seen if Pioli and the owner can strike a deal in this climate, though the contract talks suggest the possibility certainly exists.
Suggs could be back by Thanksgiving, but no firm date set
Despite a report that injured Ravens star Terrell Suggs was hoping to return from a partially torn Achilles next week, numerous sources with knowledge of the situation said the pass rusher won't be back until mid-November at the earliest, and he is not targeting a particular game for his comeback.
Suggs is making good progress and and is in tremendous shape, sources said (his conditioning has not always been elite), and the team is encouraged by that and believes he will play at some point in the second half of the season.
However, no one in the organization has given consideration to a return in October. The team will not rush him back, and would only bring him back at a time when his susceptibility to a setback would be minimal.
Suggs is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Baltimore is off to a 4-1 start without him, but the defense -- and the pass rush in particular -- has suffered.
No Matt Ryan contract talks upcoming
Matt Ryan is having an MVP-caliber season for undefeated Atlanta and could be poised to join the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. He has just one year (2013) left on his rookie contract, worth about $12 million. The sides have not had any extension talks, according to team and league sources, and none are planned or anticipated this year.
|Matt Ryan could be in line for a new, lucrative contract, but neither Ryan nor the Falcons are in a hurry to get a deal done (Getty Images)|
The Falcons are by no means averse to doing a deal, but are not pushing the issue. Ryan's agency, CAA, is inclined to wait for the market to be set by anticipated upcoming deals for Joe Flacco and Tony Romo before locking Ryan into a new long-term deal (Romo is also a CAA client). The quarterback market is only going up, and Ryan is having a superb start for Atlanta, superior to those two and many others.
Given Atlanta's multitude of offensive weapons, and undefeated campaign, a connection between Ryan and individual accolades will likely only intensify as the season goes on. But don't look for much talk between him and the Falcons to heat up until sometime next year.
Vikings face potentially tricky negotiation with Harvin
Vikings jack-of-all-trades Percy Harvin has been a key to the club's surprising 4-1 record, and he tool is being mentioned in early MVP discussion. Harvin, who threatened a non-contract-related holdout last offseason, has just one year left on his deal, at a below-market $1.55 million in 2013, and the sides expect to hash out a new deal after the season.
The likelihood of Harvin -- who has been dominant as a receiver, at running back, and on special teams -- playing in 2013 for that salary are scant, and team sources indicate the Vikings realize that. The difficulty will be, however, finding comparable players to Harvin when setting the financial parameters of a new deal, given that his role is so unique and he contributes to his team in so many varied ways.
One possible solution could be to take an average of some of the highest paid receivers and running backs in the game and then also factor in some additional worth for special teams play (a la Darren Sproles). Top receivers and backs are making in the range of $10-$15 million per season and if Harvin remains on his current path he will be in line for a substantial payday.
The Vikings already have the game's highest-paid running back, Adrian Peterson, and will likely seek to extend pass rusher Jared Allen's deal next season, as he is set to count nearly $15 million against the cap in 2013. Harvin's health will also be monitored closely -- he missed time due to migraines early in his career but has now been symptom-free for quite some time.
NFLPA expects to be back in court soon in bounty case
On Friday the NFLPA filed a qualified appeal to the league in the Saints bounty case, asking commissioner Roger Goodell to recuse himself from the case and turn it over to an independent arbitrator, a maneuver the union realizes has very little chance of being successful. If the league rejects that appeal Monday as expected, then the NFLPA is prepared to return to a federal court in Louisiana to fight the case, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Once this qualified appeal is rejected, the NFLPA sees three possible courses of action, with a return to a federal court in Louisiana seen as the most likely option, sources said. Federal judge Helen Berrigan has been watching this appeals process unfold, and sources said the union is prepared to file a motion to her as soon as Monday indicating it has abandoned the CBA appeal process and asking the judge to grant an injunction against the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita. Any outcome other than this on Monday would be surprising.
The other options open to the NFLPA are to formally appeal on behalf of the players back to Goodell -- a move seen as fruitless given that he already altered the rulings last week -- or the union could try to appeal back to the three-person appeals panel that vacated the original suspensions last month. That option is seen as possibly lengthy and would require an argument being made that Goodell violated the earlier parameters imposed upon him by this panel.
So a return to court Monday with the players seeking an injunction that would allow them to play until the case is heard is very likely. The NFL would also appeal rulings against it to a higher court. The process could take considerable time to sort out, and in the meantime other legal action is possible, sources said.
Meanwhile, former Vikings defensive lineman Jimmy Kennedy is irate at his inclusion in the league's letter to teams on this matter as someone who provided evidence, and is mulling legal options. Kennedy staunchly rejected the league's assertions about him on social media last week. Vilma has already sued the commissioner for defamation, and there could be additional legal options available to the other players involved as well.