Wed Jun 22 11:12am ET
By BEN NUCKOLS
AP Sports Writer
Dan Snyder, co-owner and co-CEO of the Washington Commanders, poses for photos during an event to unveil the NFL football team's new identity, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Landover, Md. A woman accused Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder of sexually harassing and assaulting her on a team plane in 2009, and the woman was later paid $1.6 million by the team to settle her claims, according to a document obtained by the Washington Post, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder conducted a ''shadow investigation'' that sought to discredit former employees making accusations of workplace sexual harassment, hired private investigators to intimidate witnesses, and used an overseas lawsuit as a pretext to obtain phone records and emails, according to a document released by a House committee on Wednesday.
The Committee on Oversight and Reform is investigating the Commanders' workplace culture following accusations of pervasive sexual harassment by team executives of women employees. It released the memo ahead of a hearing Wednesday morning at which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was scheduled to testify remotely. Snyder was invited to testify but declined, citing overseas business commitments and concerns about due process.
The 29-page memo alleges Snyder tried to discredit the people accusing him and other team executives of misconduct and also tried to influence an investigation of the team by attorney Beth Wilkinson's firm.
Snyder's attorneys presented the NFL with a 100-slide PowerPoint presentation including ''private text messages, emails, phone logs and call transcripts, and social media posts from nearly 50 individuals who Mr. Snyder apparently believed were involved in a conspiracy to disparage him,'' the committee said.
A Commanders spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the committee's findings.
The NFL fined the team $10 million last year and Snyder stepped away from its day-to-day operations after Wilkinson presented her findings to Goodell. However, the league did not release a written report of Wilkinson's findings, a decision Goodell said was intended to protect the privacy of former employees who spoke to investigators.
When announcing the discipline, the NFL said none of the people accused of sexual harassment still worked for the Washington franchise. But two separate accusations of sexual harassment by Snyder himself have since surfaced.
Former employee Tiffani Johnston told the committee that Snyder groped her at a team dinner and tried to force her into his limousine, which Snyder denies. And The Washington Post reported Tuesday that a woman accused Snyder of sexually assaulting her on a team plane in 2009, resulting in a $1.6 million settlement.
Johnston's allegation prompted the NFL to hire former Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman Mary Jo White to conduct a new investigation of Snyder and the team, and the league plans to release her findings to the public.
House committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., has introduced legislation to curb the use of workplace nondisclosure agreements and to offer protections for employees whose professional images are used inappropriately. Among the accusations against the Commanders are that team employees produced a video of lewd outtakes from a photo shoot involving the cheerleading squad.
According to the memo, Snyder used a defamation lawsuit against an obscure online media company based in India as a pretext to subpoena emails, phone records and text messages from former employees who spoke to The Washington Post about workplace harassment. The subpoenas were unusually broad, and many of the people targeted ''had no plausible connection'' to the Indian media company, the committee said.
The committee also alleged that Snyder sought to blame former team president Bruce Allen for the problems with Washington's workplace culture and that Snyder's lawyers provided Wilkinson and the NFL with 400,000 emails from Allen's account, highlighting specific ones they deemed ''inappropriate.'' Some email exchanges with Allen included homophobic and misogynistic comments by Jon Gruden, which were leaked to reporters last fall and prompted the Las Vegas Raiders to fire Gruden as their coach.
Witnesses also told the committee that Snyder sent private investigators to their homes and offered them hush money. The NFL was aware of Snyder's use of private investigators, according to documents obtained by the committee, but that did not stop the practice, witnesses said.
Dynasty | Saints running back Alvin Kamara is bracing for at least a six-game suspension Dynasty Analysis: As Mike Florio points out in the linked video, the personal conduct policy baseline for the incident that Kamara was involved in outlines a six-game suspension. The "or more" reference seems to still be in play as well, making for significant 2022 risk for those drafting Kamara ahead of the official announcement. Kamara, soon to be 27, had a dismal 2021 relating to expectations and a significant amount of missed time in 2022 lessens his value for what would be an age-28 campaign in 2023, a point at which where running backs begin to decline. Undoubtedly, the dynamic back still has tremendous upside when on the field, and the sooner we know how many games will be missed, the sooner dynasty coaches will be able to more accurately reflect the risk-reward potential. Now ranked as DLF's RB15, Alvin Kamara is clearly a back best owned by competitive dynasty teams looking for two-to-three more years of production.
Dynasty | Ravens rookie tight end Isaiah Likely drew praise from Lamar Jackson and veterans for his minicamp performance Dynasty Analysis: Likely displayed sure hands and a rapport with Jackson during camp which had veterans talking. The 2022 fourth-round selection will now try to carry the momentum into training camp in July for a team who badly needs receivers to step up to fill the hole left by departed wide receiver Marquise Brown (ARI). As for Likely, he projects best as a 'move' player due to limited size but playing behind top option Mark Andrews will provide a long runway to add further strength, weight and development while waiting for greater snaps. Isaiah Likely is unranked on DLF's tight end rankings and is a compelling target to watch as training camp plays out.
Dynasty | Texans receiver Brandin Cooks could be in-line for a career year in 2022 Dynasty Analysis: It's all guess work of course but it stands to reason that career marks across the board would be possible for Cooks, now in his third year with the team. Despite the team turmoil in 2021 and lack of consistent quarterback play, Cooks still managed a 90/1,037/6 stat line. When considering his career-high marks across multiple seasons of 84 receptions (2015), 1,204 yards (2018) and nine touchdowns (2015), it's not out of the realm of possibility given sophomore quarterback Davis Mills' development and more stability across the offense and coaching staff. Predicting the Texans' offensive production in 2022 is not an easy exercise and, regardless whether or not Cooks does have a career year, he's undoubtedly the WR1 for a team which will be relying heavily on its passing attack. The perennially under-appreciated receiver is ranked as DLF's WR44.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is likely to miss time heading into next season. The stud running back is bracing for a suspension of at least six games. Kamara is facing felony battery charges for allegedly throwing some punches at an incident in Las Vegas. The NFL normally waits until the criminal process has concluded before announcing any disciplinary action. As of right now, Kamara appears to be a risky fantasy option heading into the season. Although, Mark Ingram II should see his stock rise as he's the projected backup to Kamara.
Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young (knee) is not expected to be ready for the beginning of the season. The former No. 2 overall pick is recovering from an ACL tear that he suffered in Week 10 of last season. Since then, the organization has not placed a timetable on Young and said he'll likely enter training camp on the PUP list. That being said, it seems highly unlikely that Young is ready by the regular season. It's possible that Young enters the new season on the injured reserve. That means, Young would miss at least the first four games of next season. The young stud pass rusher is expected to return at some point next season, but who knows when exactly that will happen.
New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (finger) is expected to begin the new season on the PUP list. The former first round pick is expected to take the field in Week 1 despite having his pinkie finger amputated. Fantasy managers are going will have to wait and see what happens when training camp begins later this summer. Davenport has not played more than 13 games in a single season since entering the NFL in 2018. Although, Davenport recorded a career-high nine sacks through 11 games last season. The Saints could certainly use Davenport to begin the season, but we'll see what happens.
There is concern from the NFL Players Association that the league will look to suspend Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for the entire 2022 season, if not indefinitely, according to sources. If that were to happen, the Browns are expected to move forward with Jacoby Brissett as their starting QB rather than try to reconcile with Baker Mayfield. Watson reportedly has settled 20 of his 24 sexual-misconduct cases, but that matters little to the NFL. The situation should be resolved soon, and it seems like things are leaning towards Watson getting hit with a lengthy suspension in 2022 and possibly beyond. We should have a resolution to this saga before most fantasy managers conduct their 2022 drafts.
The Athletic's Kevin Fishbain didn't include Chicago Bears defensive end Robert Quinn on his 53-man roster projection after he chose to skip mandatory minicamp. Quinn missing minicamp allows for speculation that he might not want to be a veteran on a rebuilding team. If Chicago moves on from him, they might want to add another edge rusher to compete on their defensive line. The 32-year-old pass-rusher made his third Pro Bowl in 2021 while recording a career-high 18.5 sacks, so even though he's on the wrong side of 30, teams would likely be interested in acquiring him if the Bears show that they are serious about trading him.
Chicago Bears cornerback Thomas Graham was one of the big revelations of mandatory minicamp and spent most of the spring as the first-team nickel corner. Graham was a fan favorite last year and appears to be entering training camp ahead of veterans Tavon Young and Duke Shelley. A sixth-round pick last year out of Oregon, Graham played a limited role in his rookie season and finished with 13 tackles (six solo), one tackle for loss and four passes defensed in four games (one start) for the Bears. Considering Chicago is rebuilding, it makes sense for them to hand Graham a much bigger role in his second NFL season to see if he's going to be a part of their long-term future.
Buffalo Bills tight end Tommy Sweeney will likely stay on the 53-man roster for depth and locker-room reasons, but he could be vulnerable if the Bills need another roster spot for flexibility. Sweeney will be inactive on game days behind Dawson Knox and O.J. Howard, and he's right on the bubble heading into training camp in July. In his first two seasons with the Bills, the 26-year-old has 17 receptions on 25 targets for 158 yards and one touchdown in 19 games (four starts), and he'd need injuries to both Knox and Howard to become fantasy relevant in 2022.
Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward (foot), who is in a protective boot after suffering a foot injury on the final day of mandatory minicamp on June 16, said he'll "be good" for training camp next month, although he was hesitant to say he'd be ready for the start of camp. Ward described his injury as a sore left foot. The 25-year-old was named to his second Pro Bowl in 2021 after he recorded 43 tackles (34 solo), three interceptions (one for a touchdown), 10 passes defensed and half a sack in 15 starts for Cleveland. It led to a five-year, $100.5 million contract extension in April. Ward's foot doesn't have any structural damage, so as long as he doesn't have a setback in training camp, he should be ready for Week 1.
The New Orleans Saints signed linebacker Demario Davis to a one-year contract extension on Friday for a base salary of $10 million in 2024, according to a source. Davis can make up to $14 million, with an extra $2 million roster bonus and $2 million through incentives. His 2023 base salary drops from $8.5 million to $8.25 million, but he adds a $250,000 workout bonus, and $1 million of that salary is guaranteed. The 33-year-old veteran has had at least 100 combined tackles in seven of his 10 NFL seasons, and he finished 2021 with 105 tackles (70 solo), 13 tackles for loss, 10 QB hits, three sacks and seven passes defensed in 16 starts. Davis is a respected leader with the Saints and is solid linebacker depth in IDP leagues.
The New England Patriots restructured center David Andrews' contract on Friday, creating $2.1 million in salary cap space for the 2022 season by converting $3.15 million of his compensation into a signing bonus, according to a source. Andrews' updated 2022 salary cap charge is now $4.275 million. The 29-year-old had offseason shoulder surgery, but he's expected to be ready to go in Week 1 as New England's starting center. Andrews began his career in 2015 and has played all six of his NFL seasons for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
The Pittsburgh Steelers signed first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett to a four-year rookie deal on Thursday, according to a source. Pickett came into this year's draft as the most pro-ready signal-caller, but he'll have to beat out Mitchell Trubisky in training camp for the starting gig in his rookie season. The most likely scenario is that Trubisky is starting in Week 1, with Pickett getting his first shot if Trubisky falls flat early on. The 24-year-old threw for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions in his final year in college, and he can also be a threat running the football. The Steelers are hoping he's the long-term solution after Ben Roethlisberger retired last year.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Jalen Guyton, who will be competing with Joshua Palmer for the third wideout spot this summer, shined on special teams during the team's offseason workouts. "Jalen Guyton was fantastic in the offseason," head coach Brandon Staley said. "This guy made a lot of big plays for us in the spring. Really did a nice job on special teams. We kind of challenged him to be a factor in the kicking game. I think he's looked really good out there." Using his size and speed to their advantage, the Chargers have been lining him up at gunner with the punt team. The 25-year-old had 31 catches for 448 yards and three touchdowns last year, but he'll need to win the No. 3 job over Palmer to be worth a late-round flier in deeper fantasy leagues.
The New Orleans Saints waived tight end Kahale Warring on Wednesday. Warring spent time with the Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars last year before joining the Saints. He played in two combined games with the Bills and Jaguars and didn't see a single target. In his rookie season in 2020 with the Houston Texans, Warring caught three passes on seven targets for 35 yards. The 25-year-old was originally drafted in the third round in 2019 by the Texans out of San Diego State. He'll be looking to latch on with another team before training camp this summer.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is still hoping to reduce his six-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. "We're still doing some research right now," Hopkins said, via Cameron Cox of KPNX. "Hopefully, before the season starts, maybe we can get the games down a little bit. But no, it wasn't on me. I'm a natural." I don't take any supplements, I've never took supplements, I barely take vitamins. So for something like that to happen to me, obviously, I was shocked. But my team and I, we're still trying to figure out what's going on." A reduction in his suspension is unlikely at this point, and Hopkins is ranked as a borderline WR3/4 while being suspended for a third of the 2022 season.
The Athletic's Paul Dehner Jr. thinks it's unlikely that Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon will become a three-down back this year after he struggled in pass protection last year. The Bengals will obviously want to feature Mixon out of the backfield and there will be spots for him on third down, but the days of the team focusing on turning him into a three-down back are over. Samaje Perine was Cincy's primary third-down option in 2021, but Chris Evans will have a chance to supplant him in 2022, making Evans more attractive in deep PPR formats or as a handcuff to Mixon. Despite the lack of third-down work, Mixon still finished as the RB3 in fantasy last year with 1,205 rushing yards and 13 rushing scores on 292 carries, and he'll be a strong midrange RB1 in 2022.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Chris Evans could make an argument to supplant Samaje Perine as the team's third-down back this year if he can continue to grow as a pass-protector and build trust in the coaching staff. Evans' role expanded last year as a kick returner, and he's more dangerous as a receiver than Perine. The 24-year-old carried the ball 17 times for 77 yards and caught 15 of his 17 targets for 151 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games (one start) for the Bengals in his rookie season, but he should have a bigger role on third downs in 2022. He's unlikely to be taken in standard-sized fantasy leagues, but you shouldn't forget about him in deeper PPR formats as the better handcuff to Joe Mixon.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receivers Keelan Cole and Mack Hollins might be ahead of Demarcus Robinson on the team's receiver depth chart heading into training camp next month. When you consider Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller as the primary pass-catching weapons, Robinson could actually be sixth in the pecking order on his new team. There will be plenty of competition in training camp between Robinson, Cole and Hollins, but as of right now, it's hard to see Robinson being a consistent producer in real life or in fantasy in 2022. The 27-year-old had 25 catches for 264 yards and three touchdowns in 17 regular season games for the Kansas City Chiefs last season.