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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

AP Source: NFL cutting preseason in half, pushing back start

Wed Jul 1 6:45pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

In this Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers a question during a news conference for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game in Miami. Its been over three months since the commissioners of major sports cancelled or postponed events because of the coronavirus. Enough time for us to grade them on how theyve handled the virus so far. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)


In this Aug. 7, 2015, file photo, a visitor to the Pro Football Hall of Fame pauses to take a photo of the sign in front in Canton, Ohio. The NFL has canceled the Hall of Fame game that traditionally opens the preseason and is delaying the 2020 induction ceremonies because of the coronavirus pandemic, two people with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Thursday, June 25, 2020. The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been publicly announced, though an announcement is expected later Thursday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)


The NFL will cut its preseason in half and push back the start of exhibition play so teams have more time to train following an all virtual offseason made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league hasn't announced that the preseason will be cut from four games to two.

The pandemic forced teams to conduct their entire offseason programs via videoconference. So, teams will be gathering together for the first time when training camps open July 28.

Minus the usual minicamps, on-field practices and in-person weight training from April to June, players' conditioning won't be what it normally is. So, eliminating the first week of preseason games Aug. 13-16 will give them more time to ratchet up their football fitness.

Teams will now play exhibitions Aug. 20-24 and Aug. 27-31 during what were originally the second and third weeks of exhibition play with all 32 teams playing one home and one road game.

Most of those games will remain the same as originally scheduled although some matchups in that second slate will have to be changed so every team gets a game at home.

The exhibition finales on Sept. 3 were also scrapped, giving teams more time to get ready for the regular season, which opens Sept. 10 with Houston at Kansas City.

There are no changes to the regular season schedule.

The league continues to draw up protocols, not only for COVID-19 mitigation but for ramping up practices during the first few weeks of training camp.

The annual Hall of Fame Game pitting Pittsburgh and Dallas on Aug. 6 was recently scrapped as the induction ceremonies were pushed back to 2021.

Player Notes
Kendrick Bourne Jul 2 12:20am ET

The San Francisco 49ers have discussed a long-term contract extension with wide receiver Kendrick Bourne. The 24-year-old caught 30 passes for 358 yards and five touchdowns last year and has 88 career receptions for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns (all in the last two years) in his three seasons in the league. Bourne isn't a household name, but he has two things going for him heading into the 2020 season: a potentially bigger role with Deebo Samuel (foot) a candidate to miss the start of the season, and a valuable red-zone connection with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Others in the Niners passing game could step up -- Jalen Hurd, Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor, Richie James -- but Bourne now has some late-round flier appeal in deeper leagues in an offense that values yards after the catch.

From RotoBaller

Jamison Crowder Jul 2 12:10am ET

The New York Jets are still talking to free-agent wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The 32-year-old former Denver Bronco doesn't have much left in the tank at this point in his career, catching only 36 passes (58 targets) for 433 yards and one touchdown in his 11 games for the Jets last year. It's a far cry from when he compiled five straight 1,000-yard campaigns from 2012 to 2016 with the Broncos. New York's receiving corps isn't all that strong with Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder and rookie Denzel Mims as the top three wideouts, but DT would likely battle for the fourth-receiver gig with the likes of Josh Doctson and Vyncint Smith. Thomas won't be relevant in New York unless injuries open up a more prominent role for him.

From RotoBaller

Le'Veon Bell Jul 1 11:40pm ET

New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell has been "training like a mad man" this offseason. After holding out for all of 2018, Bell signed with the Jets and had the worst full season of his career, rushing for 789 yards and three touchdowns on 245 carries (career-low 3.2 yards per carry). He also added 66 receptions for 461 yards and another touchdown. Gang Green's putrid offensive line didn't do him any favors, but is the 28-year-old no longer an RB1? It doesn't help that head coach Adam Gase isn't a big fan of Bell, and veteran Frank Gore and rookie Lamical Perine could take away some touches. His production in the passing game helps his cause and the offensive line is upgraded, but Bell should be considered a low-end RB2 in this offense.

From RotoBaller

Russell Wilson Jul 1 11:30pm ET

Free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown posted a picture on his Instagram account on Wednesday showing him working out with Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Russell Wilson. Brown is trying to work his way back into the league after countless off-field incidents. While he's likely to receive at least an eight-game suspension in 2020, it's looking more and more likely that another team will give him another shot based purely on his talent on a football field. The Seahawks were already one of the teams considering adding Brown or Josh Gordon, and Wilson working out with AB only furthers that narrative. Adding Brown to Seattle's mix would certainly be intriguing, but the controversial wideout won't have much redraft value with a lengthy suspension coming his way if he's reinstated.

From RotoBaller

Jordan Love Jul 1 5:00pm ET

The Green Bay Packers signed first-round quarterback Jordan Love on Wednesday to a fully guaranteed four-year, $12.383 million deal, according to sources. Love will receive a $6.566 million signing bonus. It's the first time that the No. 26 pick in the draft has received a fully guaranteed deal under the current rookie contract system. The Packers shocked everyone and took Love, the heir apparent to Aaron Rodgers, in the first round in April. While the Utah State alum has some promising physical traits as a dual-threat QB, he was very inconsistent in college and isn't a sure thing at the next level. Rodgers is under contract through the 2023 season as well, so Love is strictly a dynasty/keeper stash and hold.

From RotoBaller

Robert Foster Jul 1 2:20pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receivers Duke Williams and Robert Foster could be facing an uphill battle to make the team out of training camp, in the opinion of The Athletic's Joe Buscaglia. Williams, 27, saw more opportunities late last season, but he played in just four regular season games and had 12 receptions for 166 yards and a score. Foster, 26, had only three receptions for 64 yards in 13 games (two starts). The Bills traded for Stefon Diggs in the offseason and also drafted wideouts Gabriel Davis and Isaiah Hodgins, so Williams and Foster have been pushed further down the depth chart. Williams might have a leg up on Foster because of his physical presence at the position, but neither will be fantasy options leading up to the season.

From RotoBaller

Devin Singletary Jul 1 2:10pm ET

It's possible that the Buffalo Bills want to get running back Devin Singletary more involved in the passing game this year, in the opinion of The Athletic's Joe Buscaglia. If it actually transpires, this will obviously be good news for the second-year back, but the presence of rookie Zack Moss in Buffalo's backfield will likely limit Singletary to low-end RB2/high-end RB3 status regardless. The 22-year-old saw only 41 targets in the passing game in 2019 and caught 29 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Josh Allen isn't really the checkdown type either, so it remains to be seen how much more Singletary will be involved in the aerial attack.

From RotoBaller

Yannick Ngakoue Jul 1 2:00pm ET

Nothing has changed with Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue as we approach the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term contract extensions, according to a source. Ngakoue still desires a trade and doesn't have any immediate plans to sign the franchise tag. This is a situation that could bleed into training camp. The star pass-rusher could hold out for a deal, which would obviously be bad news for those targeting him as a low-end starting defensive lineman in IDP leagues. The Jaguars didn't receive any trade offers for him during the draft. The 25-year-old has become one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL in just four seasons, racking up 37.5 sacks and 122 combined tackles in 63 games for Jacksonville.

From RotoBaller

Kyler Murray Jul 1 12:50pm ET

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was the most-sacked signal-caller in his rookie season in 2019, getting taken down 48 times. Last year, a lot of those sacks I feel were on me, Murray said. The young QB held onto the ball way too long early in the season, but he was sacked just twice in the final three games. Arizona's offensive line is by no means outstanding, but they will remain largely unchanged from last season, which could be good news from a continuity standpoint. Murray plans to do his part to avoid taking so many sacks in his second season in the NFL. With a new No. 1 receiver in DeAndre Hopkins in a pass-happy offense, Murray has high-end QB1 upside for fantasy owners.

From RotoBaller

Cam Newton Jul 1 12:40pm ET

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton is wasting no time getting to know his new teammates. Newton is reportedly already working out with his new wide receiver Mohamed Sanu Sr. this offseason. Both players missed time last season due to injuries, but are ready to bounce back in 2020. Newton offers MVP-caliber upside while Sanu will be key to the Pats receiving corps. Staying on the field and remaining healthy is going to be the key for both players this upcoming season. It's nice to them getting reps together before training camp so they can develop some chemistry. Sanu should be the No. 2 receiver behind Julian Edelman, which means there should be plenty of upside for him next season.

From RotoBaller

Markus Golden Jun 30 11:20pm ET

New York Giants free-agent linebacker Markus Golden has until July 22 to find a new team after the Giants put a May 5 tender on him, but there is no indication that any other team is interested in signing him for more than one year and $4.125 million. If another team wanted him for more, it's clear that Golden would've signed by now. SNY's Ralph Vacchiano gets the sense that the Giants feel pretty confident he'll play for them in 2020. The former second-rounder had a great year with the G-Men in 2019, racking up a career-high 72 tackles and recording 10 sacks. But Golden put up just 30 total tackles and 2.5 sacks in his final year in Arizona in 2018 and isn't a great bet to return to double-digit sacks for IDP gamers.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Williams Jun 30 11:10pm ET

SNY's Ralph Vacchiano doesn't think that the New York Giants and defensive tackle Leonard Williams will come to an agreement on a long-term contract extension before the July 15 deadline. Williams wants to be paid like a premier pass-rusher (around $18-20 million a year), and the Giants haven't wanted to pay him that amount. On top of it, uncertain salary cap figures in 2021 are making teams be even more careful with long-term deals. General manager Dave Gettleman is all in on Williams after trading for him, but not everyone in the organization might be. If he plays the 2020 season on the tag, it'll be worth $16.1 million. The 26-year-old had just half a sack in 15 games with the Giants and Jets last year and has 17.5 career sacks in his six seasons. Williams could be a late-bloomer, but fantasy owners can leave him to the waiver wire in IDP leagues.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Jun 30 10:40pm ET

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo believes that Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones deserves a long-term contract extension, but with the team not making an offer at $20 million per season or more, it could be unlikely that he agrees to a deal before the July 15 deadline. Under the franchise tag in 2020, Jones would make around $16 million. The Chiefs apparently don't think he's worth that amount, so there's a lot of work to be done if the two sides don't iron some things out. There's also the situation of extending Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes, so Jones is on the backburner. Jones also threatened a potential holdout on his Twitter account. Most likely, the 25-year-old will play under the tag this year, where he'll be a low-end starting defensive lineman for IDP owners.

From RotoBaller

Markus Golden Jun 30 10:23pm ET

Unrestricted free-agent LB Markus Golden (Giants) has until July 22 - for the first day of NFL training camp, whichever is later - to find a new team or else his only option will be to sign a one-year, $4.125 million deal - the amount of the unrestricted free-agent tender the New York Giants placed on him on May 5 - with the Giants. According to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano, such a scenario appears likely as there has been 'no indication' other teams are pursuing him.

From TheHuddle

Odell Beckham Jr. Jun 30 10:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. used his social media account to shoot down trade speculation that he would end up with the Patriots after Cam Newton signed there on Sunday. A video of Beckham and Newton working out together surfaced earlier in the offseason, causing some to speculate whether the star receiver could join Newton with the Pats. In response, Beckham tweeted, "U can find me in The LAND homie! We got unfinished business." Beckham struggled through the 2019 season, his first with the Browns, finishing with 74 catches for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns. That being said, the Browns don't seem particularly interested in trading the star wideout this offseason. Beckham can be treated as an upside WR2 in fantasy drafts this year.

From RotoBaller

Davon Godchaux Jun 30 9:43pm ET

Miami Dolphins DL Davon Godchaux registered 33 of his career-high 75 tackles within two yards of the line of scrimmage in 2019 - the most such stops by an interior defender last season.

From TheHuddle

Cam Newton Jun 30 9:20pm ET

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton could very well surprise us all during the 2020 season, according to former Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. "Don't bet against him," Rivera said. "I really wouldn't." Rivera and Newton have been together since Newton entered the league in 2011. Everyone knows Newton has been sidelined by injuries the last few seasons, but Rivera does believe anyone should count him out just yet. "I mean, he's probably about as healthy as it gets from what I've seen on video. I think he's ready to bust out," says Rivera. The former Panthers coach won't be alongside Newton this time as he has taken over as the head coach of the Washington Redskins. However, Rivera believes Newton can recreate himself in New England. It remains to be seen what will happen with Newton in New England, but if healthy Newton could end up having success in 2020.

From RotoBaller

Jalen Hurts Jun 30 7:40pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts has been working out with teammate DeSean Jackson. Hurts posted videos on his Instagram account on Monday, showing the second-rounder working out in Florida with the veteran wide receiver. Jackson is recovering from core muscle surgery and Hurts is trying to impress his coaches after coach Doug Pederson (somewhat) recently said Hurts, "needs to learn and pick up our system." Hurts is expected to begin the season as the number three quarterback behind starter Carson Wentz and 2016 sixth-rounder Nate Sudfeld, but the Eagles certainly didn't spend a second round pick to draft a third string quarterback. Hurts may be a direct backup for the somewhat oft-injured Wentz, or he may end up seeing work in something more like a Taysom Hill role. There's a wide range of outcomes for Hurts this season and going forward.

From RotoBaller

Jadeveon Clowney Jun 30 7:20pm ET

Free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said that he intends to sign with a team "before the season starts, if everything still goes on time with the season." Clowney also said that "I have not narrowed down a final team. I'm still open." Clowney encountered a cold market this offseason, and it wasn't helped by the fact that teams haven't been able to get their medical team to look at him during the coronavirus pandemic. The pass-rusher will likely have to lower his contract demands ($17-18 million per season), as well, if he wants to sign before the season begins. A dynamic pass-rusher when healthy, Clowney has never had double-digit sacks in a season and has a lengthy injury history. The 27-year-old is a risk/reward IDP selection. The Browns, Seahawks and Titans have all been linked to him this offseason.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Jun 30 6:13pm ET

Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. stressed on Twitter Monday, June 29, he's committed to playing for the Browns for at least the upcoming 2020 season. 'U can find me in The LAND homie! We got unfinished business,' Beckham wrote in a reply to Los Angeles Dodgers P Alex Wood who wrote '@obj to the Patriots before the season is done. BANK IT!'

From TheHuddle