Fri Aug 5 4:21pm ET
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Columnist
Washington Commanders' Dan Snyder poses for photos during an event to unveil the NFL football team's new identity, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Landover, Md. Snyder is set to testify later Thursday morning, July 28, before a congressional committee that is investigating the NFL teams history of workplace misconduct. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson walks off the field after the NFL football team's training camp, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. The NFL is appealing a disciplinary officers decision to suspend Watson for six games for violating the leagues personal conduct policy. The move gives Commissioner Roger Goodell or someone he designates authority to impose a stiffer penalty. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross gestures at the end of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, on Oct. 24, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The NFL has suspended Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and fined him $1.5 million for tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton following a six-month investigation stemming from Brian Flores' racial discrimination lawsuit against the league. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, FIle)
After Donald Sterling's racist ramblings were exposed to the world, the NBA moved quickly to banish him from the league.
Sure, the forced sale of the Los Angeles Clippers made Sterling even richer, but it sent a clear signal that such behavior would not be tolerated, even from the guys with the biggest checkbooks.
Then there's the NFL, which seems content to let its bad boy owners slide with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, no matter how egregious the offense.
Tampering with some of the game's biggest names? Suggesting it would be a good idea to lose games intentionally?
No problem, says the league which likes to throw around the word ''integrity'' at every opportunity - except when it really matters.
In the eyes of Commissioner Roger Goodell, some mandatory vacation time, a fine that roughly amounts to loose change in the sofa, and surrendering a couple of draft picks should be enough to smooth things over.
That's exactly what Goodell imposed this week on Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, whose conduct was so reckless that it wouldn't have been out of line to shove him out the door - or at least give him a gentle nudge.
Of course, in its version of the just-before-the-weekend news dump, the NFL brilliantly unveiled the case against Ross - and it's quite a doozy - while most fans and pundits were fixated on what's next for quarterback Deshaun Watson, who received a six-game suspension for multiple allegations of sexual misconduct during massages.
The NFL appealed, which could have sent the case to Goodell for harsher, more appropriate punishment, but he timidly handed it off to an outside arbiter.
The Watson case is bad enough. Ross' shenanigans were also worthy of outrage.
But Goodell would prefer we all just move along from a week of disturbing revelations and get to what's really important: a season that conveniently began Thursday night with the Hall of Fame exhibition game in Canton, Ohio.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!
The great and powerful commish has spoken!!
By now, it should be crystal clear to everyone that Goodell couldn't care less about integrity as long as the league's coffers - and his own - keep growing at a rate far ahead of surging inflation.
Sure, he'll swing into action when a player who hasn't been with his team all season dares venture onto a casino app to place legal bets on NFL games. Never mind that the league has fully embraced sports gambling and has no problem cashing all the massive checks it brings in.
Calvin Ridley's wagering, which he readily admitted to with no suggestion that it impacted games, led to his suspension for at least the 2022 season and means the Atlanta Falcons receiver has no chance to receiving his $11.1 million salary until he's reinstated.
Compare that with Ross' case.
Goodell issued a harsh statement, singling out ''violations of unprecedented scope and severity,'' but showed he didn't have the stomach to actually back up his words with decisive action.
Sure, the Dolphins will be hurt by the loss of a first-round pick next year and a third-round pick in 2024, but the remainder of the sanctions were laughable.
Ross was fined $1.5 million, which is roughly 0.018% of his estimated net worth of $8.2 billion and a blip compared to the salary Ridley isn't receiving. Ross also was suspended from his team through Oct. 17, meaning he won't be around for the first six games of the regular season - at least 11 games fewer than Ridley's banishment.
Somehow, Goodell was able to justify the disparity of his punishments - maybe because his mind is filled with nothing but dollar signs - even though the league determined Ross improperly negotiated with seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady and former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton while they were working for other teams.
''I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of multiple other clubs, over a period of several years,'' Goodell said. ''Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.''
The league's investigation, which grew out of former Dolphins coach Brian Flores filing a racial discrimination lawsuit after his firing, was more vague about Flores' accusations that Ross offered him $100,000 per game to intentionally lose so Miami would get a better spot in the draft.
While the league found that Ross never followed through on the alleged offer, he did express several times that draft position should take priority over won-loss record.
Goodell - remember, he's the guy who was so concerned with the integrity of the game in Ridley's case - appears to have totally brushed off Ross' clear belief that tanking wasn't a bad thing, comments that so disturbed Flores he passed them on in writing to senior team executives.
Flores, now an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers, noted that Ross avoided ''any meaningful consequence'' even though - and it sounded like he was mocking Goodell here - ''there is nothing more important when it comes to the game of football itself than the integrity of the game.''
Of course, Flores and anyone else who has paid of lick of attention to the Goodell regime should have known that Ross would get away with it.
Look no further than Washington owner Dan Snyder, who has faced numerous allegations of a toxic workplace environment without facing any significant punishment.
In a league that truly embraced integrity, Snyder would already be out the door and Ross wouldn't be far behind.
But Goodell is sending a different message.
Are you ready for some football?!
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (elbow) resumed throwing in individual drills at training camp practice on Tuesday. The Rams are managing Stafford's elbow pain this offseason in order to attempt to keep him healthy all years as the Rams try to defend their Super Bowl championship. The 34-year-old will likely continue to take it easy on his right arm throughout the rest of camp, and it's definitely something to watch as we get into the regular season. For now, fantasy managers should expect Stafford to be fine for Week 1. He has an amazing connection with All-Pro wideout Cooper Kupp and also has Allen Robinson II at his disposal, but Stafford should be targeted as a low-end QB1 in fantasy.
The Houston Texans acquired tight end Adam Shaheen and a seventh-round pick in 2023 from the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday in exchange for a sixth-round pick in next year's draft. The Dolphins already have Mike Gesicki locked in as their starting tight end, with Durham Smythe, Hunter Long and Cethan Carter providing depth behind him, so Shaheen was expendable after catching 12 of 16 targets for only 110 scoreless yards in 12 games (seven starts) in 2021. Shaheen will now join a tight end group in Houston that already has Pharaoh Brown and Brevin Jordan. Jordan is expected to be the primary pass-catching option at the position, so Shaheen should remain well off the fantasy radar entering the 2022 campaign.
Houston Texans running backs Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead are listed as co-starters at running back on the team's first unofficial depth chart of training camp. They are followed by rookie Dameon Pierce, Royce Freeman, Dare Ogunbowale and Darius Anderson. Coming off a serious Achilles injury that limited him to seven games the last two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, the 26-year-old Mack figures to lead Houston's backfield to begin the 2022 season. However, this could be a frustrating backfield to predict early on, and Pierce has the goods to become the starter by season's end in an offense run by quarterback Davis Mills. If you're betting on anyone as a last-round RB for depth, Pierce is probably the best low-cost investment with the most upside.
The Kansas City Chiefs agreed to an undisclosed one-year deal with veteran free-agent defensive tackle Danny Shelton on Tuesday, according to his agents, Drew Rosenhaus and Ryan Matha. Shelton played in 13 games (zero starts) for the New York Giants last year, recording 31 tackles (12 solo) and half a sack. He was originally a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2015 out of the University of Washington, and he spent his first three seasons in the NFL in Cleveland. The 28-year-old pass-rusher has also spent time with the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions. Shelton will be looking to compete for a starting spot on the interior of KC's defensive line. He has 278 tackles (138 solo), 17 tackles for loss, 19 QB hits, six sacks and a forced fumble in seven NFL seasons.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor continues to stack good days at training camp in what has definitely been his most consistent camp as a professional. At the moment, he looks too good to consider releasing, in the opinion of The Athletic's Bo Wulf, although a trade remains on the table. The former first-round pick has been a disappointment through his two NFL seasons, compiling 64 catches (111 targets) for 695 yards and three touchdowns in 28 games (24 starts). The 23-year-old will probably only be fantasy relevant if he's traded to a team that gives him a realistic chance to start. As things stand now in Philly, he's behind the likes of A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal.
Cleveland Browns All-Pro returner and wide receiver Jakeem Grant Sr. (Achilles) is feared to have torn his Achilles in training camp practice on Tuesday. He will undergo tests to confirm after he was carted off the field on Tuesday. This will be a big blow to Cleveland's special teams unit this year as well as their receiver depth. The 29-year-old speedy wideout was looking for a role on both special teams and as a pass-catcher in his first year with the Browns after catching 11 of his 17 targets for 132 yards and two touchdowns in 2021 with the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. He was a Pro Bowler last year for his work as a returner, handling 23 kickoff returns for 539 yards and 26 punt returns for 309 yards and one touchdown.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Zach Pascal missed the first week-plus of training camp with food poisoning and has been slowly acclimating since, but Monday was his best day by a wide margin. He showcased nice route-running and dominated a portion of seven-on-seven drills with a one-handed catch. Pascal has yet to make much of an impact in team drills, though, and he's still trying to get on the same page as quarterback Jalen Hurts. Unfortunately for Pascal, he's currently fourth on the Eagles depth chart behind A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins, who had a productive day in team drills on Monday with a couple of nice catches. Pascal can be passed over on draft day in most leagues to begin the 2022 season.
Dynasty | Browns wide receiver and special teams ace Jakeem Grant was carted off with an apparent leg injury at practice. Dynasty Analysis: This has the looks of a potentially serious injury. Grant was making some headway on the depth chart and figured to be the Browns primary return man as well. If he's indeed lost for the season, it would open up more snaps and targets for the likes of Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Bell. As for Grant, he's already a fringe dynasty player and there would be little reason to keep him should this be a serious injury. Stay tuned.
Cleveland Browns WR Jakeem Grant (leg) was carted off the field after suffering an apparent left leg injury at practice Tuesday, Aug. 9.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley continues to look good in training camp this summer. He looked decisive and quick during training camp practice on Sunday when the team mostly worked on red-zone runs. Head coach Brian Daboll has called Barkley "explosive," and it's been evident on the field as well. Center Jon Feliciano said this version of Barkley is the best he's seen from any RB on any of his teams. The 25-year-old was still rehabbing from an ACL tear last summer and didn't look like the same player in 2021. But he's looking much different in 2022 as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. If your league mates are hesitant to touch Barkley in fantasy drafts, take advantage. He could be a massive value pick as a high-end RB2.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance finished Saturday's training camp practice with a flourish, but it didn't carry over to Sunday. He completed just four of his 12 passes on Sunday, which included a bad interception that was forced during the final period of the day. However, according to receiver Brandon Aiyuk, Lance was not fazed by his performance and talked to teammates about the plays he wanted back and how he could improve going forward. It shows Lance's maturity at a young age, but even though the Niners believe he's their long-term answer at the position, they're unsure how well he'll play in his first full year as the starter in 2022. The 22-year-old will surely have his ups and downs, but his dual-threat abilities give him low-end QB1 upside right away.
The Tennessee Titans signed former Cleveland Browns safety Adrian Colbert to an undisclosed one-year deal on Tuesday, according to his agents. Colbert spent the 2021 season with the Browns and New York Jets, but all of his production came in New York. He had 16 tackles (10 solo) in just four games played (three starts) for Gang Green. Originally a seventh-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 out of the University of Miami, Colbert has put up 109 tackles (84 solo), eight passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 39 career games (22 starts) with the 49ers, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Browns and Jets. He'll simply provide defensive back depth in Tennessee if he sticks around.
Updating a previous report, free-agent QB EJ Perry (Jaguars) signed an undisclosed contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Tuesday, Aug. 9. QB Kyle Sloter was released to make room for him on the roster.
New York Jets former first-round offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (knee) suffered an avulsion fracture of his right kneecap in training camp practice on Monday. He'll visit with a surgeon on Wednesday, but Becton will likely miss all of the 2022 season. It's brutal news for the Jets and the 23-year-old, who missed all but one game last year due to an unrelated knee injury. In his absence, George Fant stepped in at left tackle and did a commendable job protecting quarterback Zach Wilson's blind side in his rookie season. Becton had a solid rookie season in 2020, but injuries in back-to-back seasons have quickly turned him into a bust early in his career.
Atlanta Falcons rookie running back Tyler Allgeier was listed as the team's eighth running back on the first official depth chart of training camp, but not much should be read into it, as head coach Arthur Smith generally puts rookies on the back end of the depth chart at this stage of the preseason. Along with Allgeier, eighth overall pick Drake London was listed fifth at the wideout position behind KhaDarel Hodge, Geronimo Allison, Damiere Byrd and Auden Tate. London has been working with the first-team offense in camp, and it's fair to expect him to play a ton once the regular season begins. Allgeier has a realistic shot to become the No. 2 in his rookie season behind Cordarrelle Patterson and ahead of Damien Williams.
Dynasty | James Robinson reportedly took first team reps in Jaguars practice on Monday. Dynasty Analysis: Robinson still has a ways to go before being ready for game action, but this is a big step forward after he was only participating in team drills prior to Monday. Travis Etienne's presence is obviously going to eat into Robinson's value, but Robinson and Cam Akers are both proving achilles tears may not be the death knell they used to be. Sitting at RB41, there could be some serious value in Robinson and he looks like a "buy" candidate.
Kansas City Chiefs WR JuJu Smith-Schuster could be the second-most targeted player behind TE Travis Kelce, in the opinion of Arrowhead Pride's Pete Sweeney on Tuesday, Aug. 9. 'Speaking of Smith-Schuster -- Marquez Valdes-Scantling looked like he could be the go-to WR in OTAs, but at training camp, through my looks, it's been Smith-Schuster. I'm now tending to think he'll be the second-most targeted Chiefs pass-catcher behind TE Travis Kelce in 2022.'
Fantasy Spin: With Tyreek Hill gone, Smith-Schuster has a chance to be the top WR for Patrick Mahomes. Given the ambiguous depth chart and the history of success early in his career, Smith-Schuster carries WR2 upside despite being drafted as a WR3.
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has a plan for quarterback Deshaun Watson and the rest of the team's QBs for the team's preseason opener on Friday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he hasn't told them yet and won't tell the media. It's unclear if Watson will play. NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson handed down a six-game suspension for Watson, but the NFL has appealed and is seeking a full-season suspension, which could result in the case moving to federal court. It's anyone's guess as to how much he'll play in the preseason, but it doesn't really mean much in the grand scheme of things for fantasy. With at least a six-game ban for Watson in 2022, he's a low-end QB2, at best in upcoming fantasy drafts.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith took all of the first-team repetitions during Sunday's walk-through practice, while Drew Lock worked exclusively with the No. 2 offense as the QB competition appeared to remain status quo. Smith has gotten virtually all of the first-team reps in the first week and a half of training camp, but that could start to change based on Lock's strong showing in Saturday's mock game. Lock was clearly the better QB, while Smith underwhelmed while leading the first-team offense against backups. The Seattle coaching staff hasn't made any judgments on the two QBs since the weekend, but there's a chance that Lock could have his opening to take the starting QB job and run with it for the rest of camp and the preseason. Stay tuned.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Justin Watson is a precise route-runner that the team's quarterbacks - including Patrick Mahomes - love throwing to, according to Peter King of NBC Sports.