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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

McCarthy prepping for Cowboys job from old home of Green Bay

Thu May 28 6:05pm ET
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Pro Football Writer

In this Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 file photo ,New Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is introduced during a press conference at the Dallas Cowboys headquarters in Frisco, Texas. Mike McCarthy has spent most of his first offseason as coach of the Dallas Cowboys at home in Green Bay. He's also leaning on the experience of 13 years leading the Packers to help figure out how to implement a new program while the coronavirus pandemic prevents him from being in the same room with players or assistant coaches. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade, File)


Mike McCarthy has spent most of his first offseason as coach of the Dallas Cowboys at home in Green Bay.

He's also leaning on the experience of 13 years leading the Packers to help figure out how to implement a new program while the coronavirus pandemic prevents him from being in the same room with players or assistant coaches.

Meantime, McCarthy sure is ready to get back to the Cowboys' facility north of Dallas, particularly because live offseason practices would be happening now under normal circumstances.

''I have been with my family the whole time, except for maybe the first 10 days of the pandemic,'' McCarthy said Wednesday in his first teleconference with reporters since the draft. ''But I am anxiously preparing, frankly, to get back to Frisco as soon as possible. It's time, I know, for me to get back.''

McCarthy replaced Jason Garrett in early January after the Cowboys fell short of lofty expectations by missing the playoffs in the former Dallas quarterback's ninth full season.

After a year away from the game following his firing in Green Bay, McCarthy replaced most of the coaching staff and geared up for the draft.

Two weeks after that, the Cowboys had their virtual rookie minicamp and have spent recent weeks in virtual meetings with veterans and first-year players under the NFL's pandemic guidelines.

McCarthy said the emphasis has been on terminology and overall philosophy as coaches wait for on-field instruction time. And that's where the experience of previous, more traditional offseasons in Green Bay comes into play.

''This challenge has clearly made everyone - especially myself - take a step back,'' McCarthy said. ''Don't react as fast as you may have in normal times. I think you've really got to trust your instincts, the awareness and your experience in this particular time as far as how we install and initiate the development and growth of our program.''

Quarterback Dak Prescott hasn't been part of the virtual meetings because he hasn't signed the $31 million one-year tender under the franchise tag and is using his absence as leverage to get a long-term deal. The deadline for a multiyear contract is July 15.

After winning a Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay nine years ago, McCarthy knows the development of his relationship with Prescott is among the highest priorities.

That's also one place where McCarthy chose stability with his staff by retaining offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who was Prescott's backup for a year, then his position coach and finally the play caller last season.

''He's involved in a business situation and I have full confidence he will be ready to go,'' McCarthy said of the player the Cowboys consider a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. ''There has been communication. This is the way these business situations go sometimes and you respect that and have all the confidence it will work out.''

McCarthy has said he learned lessons from the lockout in 2011 in the months after winning the Super Bowl with the Packers, when he relied too much on word that the offseason wouldn't be badly disrupted and didn't spend enough time on contingencies.

This time, he said the Cowboys have a plan for camp in Oxnard, California, where they've trained most of the past decade, and a plan for camp at headquarters in Frisco in the increasingly likely scenario of the club not leaving the state.

McCarthy noted it was hard to know if the staff was behind on implementing a new program because he'd never been through anything like this.

''I think it's obvious to think if we started April 6 like we normally would as a first-year program we would be in a different spot than we are here today,'' the coach said. ''I think our coaches have been very creative. I think the communication and correspondence with players have been excellent. The questions have been intuitive.''

McCarthy still hasn't stood in front of his team and addressed everyone, and he said he doesn't have the setup for the ''90 boxes'' on his computer screen. So in that first virtual meeting with the whole group, he tried to give his players a sense of who he is, what his philosophy will be, and what the priorities are.

And he's ready for that first face to face.

''I think we've all been taught a whole different level of patience,'' McCarthy said. ''I'm anxious to get back, frankly. My family is probably anxious for me to get back. I'm really focusing on maximizing the time and the meeting time and the most important things we need to get done when we do get back together.''

For the time being, McCarthy's new home is still his old home.

Player Notes
Shaquil Barrett Jul 10 8:00pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett is signing his franchise tender on Friday and has filed a grievance against the team that he should be tagged as a defensive end and not as a linebacker. The franchise tag for a linebacker pays around $15.8 million, while the tag for a defensive end pays around $17.8 million this year. Barrett and the Bucs are not close to a long-term extension and the hope is that they can find common ground on a one-year deal moving forward. Most teams aren't looking to shell out tons of cash on extensions with COVID-19 potentially negatively affecting the salary cap in 2021 and beyond. The 27-year-old was fantasy relevant for the first time in his career in 2019, recording a whopping 19.5 sacks, 58 tackles and 81 total pressures. But can the pass-rushing linebacker do it again? He had 14 combined sacks in four seasons with the Broncos prior to last year. Barrett will need to continue being a sack monster in order to maintain relevance in IDP leagues.

From RotoBaller

Bud Dupree Jul 10 7:20pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher Bud Dupree has filed a grievance in hopes that he will be paid as a defensive end instead of as a linebacker for the 2020 season. The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Dupree earlier in the offseason, designating him as a linebacker. The franchise tag for a linebacker pays roughly $15.8 million while the franchise tag for a defensive end will pay around $17.8 million. There was talk of Dupree signing a long-term deal with the Steelers this offseason but the two sides are not currently close to a deal, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Dupree racked up 11.5 sacks for the Steelers in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Quinton Dunbar Jul 10 3:50pm ET

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who is currently in the middle of an armed-robbery case, is allowed to be at training camp and is expected to report later this month. Dunbar recently hired a second attorney for his case despite the team hinting at positive developments for Dunbar's case in June. He has pled not guilty to his armed-robbery charges, and his lawyer has claimed that Dunbar had no involvement in a robbery during his night out with DeAndre Baker in Florida. Even though Dunbar will be a allowed to take part in training camp, there's no guarantee that he'll be available for the entire 2020 season, depending on how his case plays out.

From RotoBaller

Tom Brady Jul 10 3:30pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith expressed his concerns about playing football during the coronavirus pandemic. Expecting his first child in three weeks, Smith is rightfully questioning how the league will keep players and their families safe. These concerns are warranted, considering that social distancing is effectively impossible on a football field. In addition to concerns about safety, Smith called for salary raises, considering the risks the players will be undertaking. The veteran tackle isn't the only player feeling this way. It will be interesting to see what the league does to assuage the players. If Smith chooses not to play this year, it will be a downgrade on quarterback Tom Brady's blind side in his first year in Tampa.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Jul 10 2:40pm ET

The Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a one-year deal to re-sign backup quarterback Matt Moore on Friday, according to a source. The Chiefs hope they won't need Moore or Chad Henne after signing superstar QB Patrick Mahomes to a 10-year, record-breaking extension this week, but Moore will provide valuable depth. Moore is heading into his age-36 season and made two starts for the Chiefs in his first season in KC in 2019 when Mahomes was dealing with a knee ailment. The veteran completed 59 of his 91 pass attempts for 659 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. You can ignore him for fantasy purposes obviously.

From RotoBaller

D'Andre Swift Jul 10 2:30pm ET

Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift, a second-round pick in April, is "ready to compete" with Kerryon Johnson and wants to start in 2020. Head coach Matt Patricia won't shy away from the idea of listing both Swift and Johnson as starters in the backfield this year. Johnson has run for more than 1,000 yards and six touchdowns through 18 games in two seasons, and he also has 340 receiving yards and two TDs, but he's dealt with knee injuries in both seasons. Swift had more than 2,800 rushing yards and 20 TDs, adding 600-plus receiving yards and five TDs in his three years at Georgia. The 21-year-old was one of the top running backs in this year's draft class and has considerable upside. He'll be slightly more attractive than Johnson in fantasy drafts as a high-end RB3.

From RotoBaller

Justin Simmons Jul 10 2:20pm ET

Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons accepted his franchise tender on Friday and is expected to sign it this weekend, according to sources. A third-round pick in 2016, the 26-year-old played at a Pro Bowl level in 2019 and was tied for second on the team with 93 tackles. Simmons led the team with four interceptions and 15 passes defensed and was named an All-Pro for his efforts. Re-signing Simmons to a long-term deal will require elite money, with the five highest-paid safeties in the league all having contracts that average between $14 million and $14.6 million. He could be just as good or better in his second season with Vic Fangio at the helm, and Simmons is in the picture as a starting defensive back in IDP leagues.

From RotoBaller

N'Keal Harry Jul 10 1:50pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry is eager to begin working with his new quarterback. Cam Newton and Harry were seen working out together for roughly two hours. They were reportedly running plays from the Patriots playbook. Harry is likely going to be the No. 3 receiver to start the season behind Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu Sr. on the depth chart. Last season, Harry hauled in seven receptions, 105 yards, and two touchdowns through seven games. His fantasy value should be on the rise, assuming he's able to stay healthy. Harry likely won't have much standard league value, but could be a decent deep league option. It's going to depend on what kind of chemistry the two of them can develop.

From RotoBaller

Bruce Irvin Jul 10 12:30am ET

Seattle Seahawks third-year linebacker Shaquem Griffin is one of The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta's "bubble" players for training camp this summer. He has yet to carve out a role as a starting linebacker after being a fifth-round pick out of Central Florida in 2018. Seattle has also added three draft picks in the last two years -- Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven -- at the position, in addition to starters Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Veteran Bruce Irvin is also in the picture. Griffin will likely need to add something as a pass-rusher in order to have a shot at making the regular season roster out of camp. His salary cap number also continues to go up ($829,405) this year, but with practice squads likely being increased to 16 in 2020, there's a chance he sticks with the team even if he doesn't make the roster.

From RotoBaller

Matt Breida Jul 10 12:20am ET

The Miami Dolphins have yet to discuss a contract extension with running back Matt Breida after giving up the No. 153 overall pick in April's draft to acquire him from the 49ers. The running back is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after the 2020 season and is scheduled to make $3.3 million in the final year of his deal. Breida's career highs of 153 carries and 814 yards came with San Francisco in 2018. He is expected to share the backfield load with free-agent pickup Jordan Howard. Miami has understandably held off on extensions with uncertainty over how COVID-19 will affect the 2021 salary cap. The 25-year-old had 623 rushing yards in 2019 and is the better and cheaper fantasy option over Howard if he can just stay healthy.

From RotoBaller

Laviska Shenault Jr. Jul 10 12:10am ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed second-round wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. to his rookie deal on Thursday. When fully healthy, Shenault can end up being one of the most explosive receivers in a stacked class at the position. Shenault played at Colorado and was the 42nd overall pick in the draft. He was twice an All-Pac 12 player and is expected to make an immediate impact in Jacksonville's passing attack in 2020. The 21-year-old is versatile and could fill a variety of offensive roles with the Jags right away, but that typically hurts the development of young players like Shenault. He does have injury concerns and will have one of the weaker QBs in the NFL throwing to him, Shenault can put up big numbers if he's given the opportunity. Consider him a late-round flier in redraft leagues with DJ Chark Jr. and Dede Westbrook ahead of him.

From RotoBaller

Lamical Perine Jul 10 12:00am ET

The New York Jets announced on Thursday that they signed rookie running back Lamical Perine to his rookie contract after they selected him in the fourth round (120th overall) back in April. The Florida product became the fourth of the team's nine draft picks to sign. He rushed for a team-high 826 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior and ran for 676 yards and six touchdowns in 13 starts in 2019. Perine also added a career-high 40 catches for 262 yards and five touchdowns. There's upside in the long-term in New York once Le'Veon Bell is out of the picture, but there's not a lot of 2020 upside with Bell and veteran Frank Gore in the backfield. The rookie could factor in on some third downs in his first season, but he's way more attractive in dynasty/keeper affairs.

From RotoBaller

Cam Newton Jul 9 6:53pm ET

New England Patriots WR N'Keal Harry was filmed running routes with QB Cam Newton Wednesday, July 8.

Fantasy Spin: Harry was never able to find a true groove with former Patriots QB Tom Brady (Buccaneers) last season while being limited to just seven games. He caught 12 of 24 targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie. Newton could take better advantage of Harry's downfield abilities if fully healthy in 2020. The early reps are certainly a good sign for what hopes to be the Patriots' top duo in the passing game.

From TheHuddle

Cam Newton Jul 9 6:43pm ET

New England Patriots QB Cam Newton will win the starting competition against QBs Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer in training camp, according to former Patriots executive vice president Michael Lombardi Thursday, July 9. 'Watching Cam Newton throw and move, there is no doubt he will win the starting job,' Lombardi tweeted.

Fantasy Spin: Newton is widely expected to win the starting job by fantasy football enthusiasts and it would certainly be the best result for all the other members of the offense in 2020. He'll be at least a low-tier QB1 and should be given plenty of opportunities to make plays with his legs.

From TheHuddle

Derrick Henry Jul 9 5:53pm ET

Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry has less than a week to sign a long-term contract, or he will play the 2020 season under the franchise tag. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel stressed Thursday, July 9, deal's like these take time and patience is needed on both sides. 'Derrick signed his franchise tender, he's under contract,' Vrabel said. '... Having been involved with the NFL for a lot of years, getting deals done is about being patient, hopefully keeping them private and confidential. So I'm going to try to respect that, and understand that we love Derrick and he understands how important he is to our football team. Again, his leadership that grew last year, I'm looking forward, I know our team is looking for more of that this year.'

From TheHuddle

Kirk Cousins Jul 9 5:13pm ET

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins led the NFL with an average depth of target of 19.2 yards on touchdown passes in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.

Fantasy Spin: Cousins could see a dip in this department in 2020 following the offseason trade of WR Stefon Diggs, but it bodes well for rookie WR Justin Jefferson, who is the most likely replacement across from WR Adam Thielen. Cousins relies heavily on efficiency and is a low-upside QB1 in a run-first offense.

From TheHuddle

Raheem Mostert Jul 9 3:03pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert is looking to be paid similarly to what the highest-paid running backs on the roster are scheduled to make, according to Mostert's agent. RB Tevin Coleman is scheduled to make $4.55 million next season, which is what Mostert would like to make.

Fantasy Spin: Mostert has asked for a trade, but the 49ers may decide to keep him with or without a new contract. He is coming off his best season and would have a significant role if he stays with the 49ers. Fantasy players should monitor the situation because Mostert could be at least a flex option in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Matt Breida Jul 9 2:43pm ET

Miami Dolphins RB Matt Breida has not had any contract extension talks with the Dolphins this offseason, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Breida will be sharing playing time with Jordan Howard this season, but it is not known which back will win the starting job. Breida has posted solid numbers over the last few seasons and could be a No. 3 or No. 4 fantasy running back depending on his role.

From TheHuddle

Cam Newton Jul 9 1:03pm ET

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Cam Newton can earn $7.5 million next year if he hits all the incentives and wins the Super Bowl. He has a $1.05 million base salary, which $550,000 is guaranteed. He can earn $43,750 per game in roster bonuses, up to $700,000. He can earn a maximum of $3.75 million in playing-time incentives with $500,000 in Pro Bowl and All-Pro bonuses. He can earn a maximum of $1 million from $250,000 bonuses for each playoff win with above 50 percent playing time.

Fantasy Spin: Newton is in the best spot he could have wished for, but the team still lacks proven weapons around him. He'll be a midrange QB2 in fantasy, but he could ultimately outplay that draft status if he's finally healthy.

From TheHuddle

Dak Prescott Jul 9 9:40am ET

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has been negotiating a long-term deal with the team but the two sides still differ on the length of the contract as the extension deadline looms. The Cowboys have a contract offer on the table, but it is reportedly longer than Prescott wants. Prescott is scheduled to make $31.4 million under the franchise tag this year, but both sides have expressed desire to keep the Mississippi State Bulldog in Dallas long term. Franchise tagged players have until July 15 to work out a contract extension. Only two quarterbacks have played under the franchise tag, Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins, and both signed with new teams in their ensuing free agency which could affect Prescott's dynasty value if the sides cannot agree on a new deal by next week.

From RotoBaller