Sun Jan 13 10:15pm ET
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) speaks with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles after an NFL divisional playoff football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. The Saints won 20-14 to advance to the NFC Championship. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) leaps into the end zone for touchdown in the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Nick Foles got the Philadelphia Eagles off to a fast start, only to be robbed of another fantastic finish by a veteran receiver's uncharacteristic drop.
''Football is a funny sport, especially playoff football. It's tough,'' Foles said after a tense 20-14 divisional playoff loss in New Orleans on Sunday. ''We started the game off hot, battled the rest of the game and gave ourselves an opportunity to win at the end.''
Indeed, Foles had the Eagles inside the Saints 30 with just less than two minutes left when his accurate slant pass bounced off of normally reliable receiver Alshon Jeffery's hands and fell into the arms of Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, virtually sealing Philadelphia's fate.
''I honestly felt at the bottom of my heart that when we walked out on the field, we'd been in that situation so many times that we were going to find a way to score a touchdown,'' said Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, whose 16-yard catch over the middle helped get Philadelphia's final drive rolling. ''We were really close. That's how it's been all year. We've been extremely close a lot of times, and it just wasn't our year.''
After all, Foles engineered late, go-ahead drives in the playoffs a week earlier and last season in the Super Bowl.
Time will tell if that was Foles' finale with Philadelphia. The Eagles might not be able to justify keeping him around as they continue to develop young franchise QB Carson Wentz.
They must decide by mid-February if they want to exercise a $20 million option to keep Foles - likely as a backup - for 2019.
But if this was it, Foles latest performance won't tarnish his Eagles legacy.
''We went out there and gave it everything we had tonight,'' said Foles, who finished 18 for 31 passing for 201 yards, one touchdown passing, one short rushing TD and two interceptions. ''Everybody has to keep their head up high because that's what it's about. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I don't have any regrets.''
With his score on a keeper in the fourth quarter, Foles joined Pittsburgh QB Kordell Stewart and New York Jets running back Freeman McNeil as the only players in the Super Bowl era with at least one TD on a pass, catch and a run in their career playoff games.
''There's always throws you'd like to have back,'' Eagles coach Doug Peterson said. ''But the way he hung in there and battled and gave our offense a chance to go down there and possibly win this football games, I thought overall he played pretty well.''
Foles filled in memorably last season when Wentz had a knee injury and led the Eagles to their first NFL title since 1960, going 5-0 in games that he started and finished.
Foles returned to the starting lineup after a back injury sidelined Wentz last month and led the Eagles to four straight wins, including a 16-15 comeback victory at Chicago in the wild-card round.
Foles' uncanny knack for staying poised under pressure was no less evident in New Orleans than in his previous high-stakes triumphs. He largely mitigated the effects of the deafening din of the Superdome with his calm decisiveness. He was not sacked and made only one pivotal mistake - an underthrown downfield pass that intercepted by Lattimore as the Eagles were seeking to build on their early two-TD lead.
''I was trying to take a shot down the field and needed to get the ball another foot or so,'' Foles said. ''Lattimore made a good play.''
The Saints capitalized on that turnover with a long, gritty drive made it 14-7, and New Orleans methodically scored 13 more unanswered points to pull out their sixth straight home playoff victory since coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees joined forces in New Orleans in 2006.
Foles also could have used more time with the ball. The Saints dominated time of possession by nearly 33 minutes to 12 during the last three quarters.
''He's a good quarterback, man. He got the ball out quick. He did a good job of surveying the defense and trying to find out where to fit the ball in,'' Saints defensive tackle Tyeler Davison said. ''He had good poise in the pocket. But at the end of the day, he can only do what he can do.
''Our game plan was to get after him, make him uncomfortable back there in the pocket and I feel like that worked.''
The Pittsburgh Steelers informed safety Morgan Burnett that they will release him by April 1 per the player's request, according to his agent, Kevin Conner. Both parties discussed trade possibilities before the release, according to a source. Pittsburgh signed the safety to a three-year, $14.25 million contract last season that included a $4.25 million signing bonus. Burnett missed four of the first six games of 2018 due to injury and recorded 30 tackles and six pass deflections in a sub-package role in 11 games. The 30-year-old had previously played eight seasons with the Packers.
The Los Angeles Rams are matching the Detroit Lions offer sheet for restricted free-agent running back Malcolm Brown on Friday. Brown's deal with the Rams is for two years with a $3.3 million base salary, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. He'll receive $2.1 million in practice guarantees ($1 million base guaranteed and a $1.1 million roster bonus to be issued April 15). Brown landed on Injured Reserve in Week 13 with a clavicle injury. He played just 15 percent of the offensive snaps and had 264 yards from scrimmage and one receiving touchdown. He's merely depth behind Todd Gurley.
The New York Giants re-signed wide receiver Cody Latimer to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Latimer played in the first three games and the last two games of the 2018 season but just one of the 11 games in between in his first season in New York because of injuries. He battled a knee injury and also spent two months on Injured Reserve with a pulled hamstring. Latimer finished with only 11 receptions for 190 yards and one touchdown and also averaged 24.6 yards on five kickoff returns. He might have more opportunities to make noise in 2019 with Odell Beckham Jr. out of the picture, but Latimer still doesn't have much fantasy upside.
The New York Jets agreed to terms with free-agent quarterback Trevor Siemian on a one-year, $2 million deal on Wednesday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Siemian can make up to $3 million in incentives. The 27-year-old former Bronco didn't play at all with the Vikings last year while backing up Kirk Cousins. He was the starter in Denver in 2016 and 2017, completing 59.3 percent of his passes for 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. New York's addition of Siemian likely means that veteran Josh McCown, a 40-year-old journeyman quarterback, will leave in free agency or retire. Siemian won't have any fantasy appeal in his new digs while backing up Sam Darnold.
The New Orleans Saints are expected to sign free-agent tight end Jared Cook, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Cook, who turns 32 next month, had a career year with the Raiders in 2018, catching 68 passes for 896 yards and six touchdowns. The veteran can stretch opposing defenses down the seam and should open up more space for star receiver Michael Thomas on the outside. While it would be foolish to expect Cook to put up better numbers than he did in Oakland, he should remain a strong TE1 option in the high-flying offense of the Saints.
Updating previous reports, Los Angeles Rams LB Clay Matthews' two-year deal has a $9.25 million base value with $5.5 million guaranteed.
Pittsburgh Steelers FS Morgan Burnett will be released by April 1, per the player's request, according to his agent, Kevin Conner.
Free-agent QB Robert Griffin III (Ravens) re-signed with the Baltimore Ravens Friday, March 22, on a two-year deal. Financial terms weren't disclosed, and the deal is pending a physical.
The New Orleans Saints signed long-time Minnesota Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels to an undisclosed one-year deal on Thursday, according to a source. The 31-year-old was the Vikings primary punt returner for the last eight years and averaged 12.0 yards per punt return in 2018 to finish in the league's top five for the third time in the last six seasons. He was also used occasionally as a kickoff returner and was a backup cornerback. New Orleans ranked in the league's bottom 10 teams in punt return yardage the last two years. Sherels won't be an option in most fantasy leagues with his move to the Saints.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard (ankle) spent time running routes and catching passes from Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes Thursday, March 21.
Fantasy Spin: Howard was having a TE1 campaign in 2018 before an injury ended his season early, but he should be back at full strength well before the start of next season. He is a big-play weapon from the tight end spot and could finish as a top-five fantasy option at his position.
The Baltimore Ravens re-signed backup quarterback Robert Griffin III on Thursday to an undisclosed two-year deal. The 29-year-old will continue to back up starter Lamar Jackson in 2019. The former first-round pick can be an invaluable source for Jackson as he matures heading into his second season, but RG3 will continue to have no fantasy value.
Chicago Bears RB Jordan Howard is unlikely to have a role in the offense if he remains with the team in 2019, in the opinion of Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
Fantasy Spin: Howard has always struggled to make an impact in the passing game, and after regressing as a between-the-tackles runner last year, the Bears don't have much incentive to feature him in the offense. Feel free to take a flier on him in the final rounds of drafts, but don't count on him to be a contributor for your fantasy squad.
The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agent outside linebacker Justin Houston to a two-year deal worth $24 million on Thursday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Houston had nine sacks for the Chiefs last year, but he was cut with the team trying to get younger and defense while transitioning from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3 scheme. The Colts also run a 4-3, but they project to use him as a defensive end for the first time in his career. The 30-year-old has dealt with a nagging knee injury in recent years but still has 18.5 sacks in the last two years. The veteran will certainly help boost a weak Indy pass rush from a season ago.
Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (toe) has been working out with teammates this offseason, according to RB Adrian Peterson.
Fantasy Spin: Reed managed to play in 13 games last season, but it didn't translate into much production on the field. Between constant health issues and slipping per-game numbers, Reed is no more than a late-round lottery ticket heading into 2019.
Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp (knee) said his recovery is where it is 'supposed to be' at this point in the process.
Fantasy Spin: Kupp is expected to be ready for the start of the 2019 season. He was Jared Goff's go-to target on third downs and in the red zone prior to the injury, and Kupp should be able to deliver WR2 numbers, especially in PPR formats.
Los Angeles Chargers TE Hunter Henry (knee) is expected to be ready for the start of OTAs, according to general manager Tom Telesco.
Fantasy Spin: Assuming he doesn't suffer any setbacks, Henry should open the year as the starting tight end for the Chargers and a low-end TE1 candidate for fantasy owners.
Free-agent PK Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots) is making progress in contract talks with the New England Patriots. Gostkowski has also received interest from other teams.
Fantasy Spin: Gostkowski struggled at times this past season but still can be a weekly starting option in all fantasy leagues.
Free-agent DT Al Woods (Colts) met with the Detroit Lions Thursday, March 21.
Free-agent DE Brandon Copeland (Jets) met with the Detroit Lions Wednesday, March 20.
Free-agent CB Marcus Sherels (Vikings) agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the New Orleans Saints Thursday, March 21, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.