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FFL: Offseason | NFL: Offseason

Guaranteed: Eagles-Cowboys winner will be 1st in NFC East

Thu Oct 17 5:26pm ET
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Randall Cobb, Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, Amari Cooper

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)


Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson views practice at the NFL football team's training facility in Philadelphia, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)


Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) reacts after a delay of game call in fourth quarter of their NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)


Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, top, tries to leap New York Jets' Darryl Roberts during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)


ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Doug Pederson had to downplay some trash talk from one of his linebackers the previous Philadelphia visited Dallas for a crucial NFC East meeting.

Now the coach of the Eagles is having to explain how he ended up on the bulletin board while the Cowboys respond the way they always have under stoic coach Jason Garrett. That is, by not responding.

Pederson said on his radio show that his Eagles were going to win Sunday night with the division lead on the line in a matchup of 3-3 teams coming off losses. He had to clarify to reporters that he never used the word ''guarantee.''

''For me it was about standing up, kind of taking ownership of where we are as a football team,'' Pederson said Wednesday. ''And just showing confidence in my guys and kind of instilling that into the players, that everything's going to be OK.

''Just like the Cowboys. Just like what Jason Garrett's going through right now. I'm assuming he's doing the same thing.''

Perhaps, but certainly not for public consumption with Dallas on a three-game losing streak after a 3-0 start.

''My response is we're excited about the challenge,'' Garrett said Monday. ''Obviously they're a great football team and we're going to focus on ourselves and what we need to do to prepare to play our best football on Sunday night.''

Before the Eagles' visit to the Cowboys last December, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill told a television reporter the Cowboys ''always choke. So we'll go down there and make them choke.''

Dallas won 29-23 in overtime and went on to take the division title, beat Seattle in the wild-card round and lose to the Los Angeles Rams in a divisional game. The responses then from Cowboys echoed those now.

''I wouldn't want him to be coaching me if he wouldn't say that,'' Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott said. ''Just because he voiced it doesn't mean that's not what he's thinking and just because we're not voicing it doesn't mean we don't have our own thoughts and opinions on how this game is going to go. That's words.''

QB COMPARISON

Carson Wentz and Prescott are probably going to measure themselves against each other for years after coming into the league together in 2016.

Wentz was the No. 2 overall pick expected to be the future of the Philadelphia franchise. Prescott was the overlooked fourth-round choice who ended up starting all season and won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after Tony Romo injured his back.

So here are the latest numbers: Prescott has the head-to-head edge 3-2 and the only playoff victory for either player. Wentz has the second contract after signing a four-year extension worth $128 million during the summer. Prescott is still waiting for a megadeal that should come eventually.

''Something that's always fun,'' Prescott said of the comparison. ''Something we'll be able to always, every matchup, look back and say what's our record against each other or this versus that. Something that will always be cool to track. Credit him for what he's doing, what he's done.''

SLOW STARTS

The Eagles have scored 24 points in the first quarter, but they've been shut out four times. The Cowboys are even worse with 20 points, including just three during the three-game skid.

Pederson is considering taking the ball if the teams wins the coin toss instead of deferring to the second half and giving the ball first to their opponent. The Eagles have won the toss 32 times since Pederson took over in 2016 and taken the ball just once.

''Put our offense out there and try to generate points early in the game and not fall behind,'' Pederson said. ''I think that's all part of trying to start fast.''

WHO'S IN, WHO'S OUT

The Cowboys figure to have several key players whose availability will be unknown until close to game time. Offensive tackles Tyron Smith (ankle) and La'el Collins (knee) returned to practice Thursday. Smith has been out two games and Collins one.

Receivers Randall Cobb (back) and Amari Cooper (thigh) appear further behind. Cobb was out against the Jets, and Cooper didn't play after the first series. Like Cobb and Cooper, cornerbacks Byron Jones and Anthony Brown missed the first two practices of the week. Both have hamstring injuries.

HELP COMING

The Eagles have struggled against the pass but have been without starting cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, nickel corner Avonte Maddox and key backup Cre'Von LeBlanc. They are 13-5 when Darby and Mills start.

Darby and Mills could return to the field against the Cowboys. Both began the week practicing. Darby has missed a few games with a hamstring injury after returning from ACL surgery. Mills hasn't played since last October because of a foot injury.

Subbing for Darby and Mills, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones had a tough time last week at Minnesota.

''Jalen's an experienced player,'' defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. ''He's tough. He's very competitive. Good tackler. It will be nice to get all those things back.''

Player Notes
Ryan Shazier Feb 16 2:30pm ET

There remains no timetable for a potential return for Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier (back) as he rehabs from spinal stabilization surgery. Shazier has not played for the last two seasons, and it remains to be seen if he'll ever play again. His contract from the 2019 season will not toll over to 2020, but the Steelers continue to support his comeback efforts. If Shazier's contract expires, he will become a free agent when the new league year begins on March 18. The 27-year-old was a force in the middle of the field for the Steelers in the four seasons before his injury. We wouldn't bet against Shazier making a comeback, but it might not be for the Steelers.

From RotoBaller

Ty Johnson Feb 15 11:10pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Ty Johnson won't be a guarantee to make the team's roster going into training camp, in the opinion of The Athletic's Chris Burke. Johnson, a sixth-round pick in 2019, ended his rookie season with 63 carries for 273 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and no touchdowns on the ground. The Lions notably didn't give him a very big workload when Kerryon Johnson was hurt last year either, and he'll have to compete with Bo Scarbrough, J.D. McKissic, Tra Carson and Wes Hills for depth behind Kerryon Johnson this summer. Even if he makes the roster out of camp, Johnson won't be guaranteed many touches as the second or third running back.

From RotoBaller

Jameis Winston Feb 15 11:00pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that the team remains undecided on whether to keep quarterback Jameis Winston or move on from the former first overall draft pick. Arians said they probably won't know what direction they are headed until the start of the three-day legal free-agent tampering period from March 16-18. If Tampa uses a franchise tag on Winston, he'll be guaranteed around $27 million on a one-year deal. The fact that the Buccaneers are waiting to see which quarterbacks become available doesn't really inspire much confidence that they want to retain him. Winston led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards and set a franchise record with 33 touchdown passes, but he also tossed a league-high 30 interceptions and lost five fumbles. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at receiver, Winston will have his highest fantasy value as a strong QB1 if he remains in Tampa, but that won't be up to him.

From RotoBaller

Robby Anderson Feb 15 11:00pm ET

The New York Jets are highly unlikely to re-sign impending free-agent wide receiver Robby Anderson, according to league sources. Anderson is expected to receiver $13 to $15 million annually on a multi-year deal on the open market, but Gang Green would like to sign him for just $10 million annually. Because the 26-year-old will be one of the better receivers on the open market, his price will be driven up despite the fact that he had just 779 yards on 52 catches for five touchdowns. Anderson also has yet to produce a 1,000-yard season in four years in the NFL, but he will get paid, and it's unlikely to come from the Jets. The Temple alum could be a fantasy sleeper if he lands in the right situation next month.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Feb 15 11:00pm ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (knee), whose 2019 season ended in early December when he suffered a torn ACL, said he got back on an exercise bike earlier this week. The 24-year-old second-year back is ahead of schedule in his recovery, but he still might be a question mark to be ready for Week 1 in 2020. The former first-round pick could be a candidate for the Physically Unable to Perform list if he's not ready, which would keep him out the first six weeks. In 10 games for Seattle last year, Penny had 65 carries for 370 yards and three scores. If he can stay healthy for a full season, Penny has the skills to be relevant in all point-per-reception leagues. Monitor his progress this spring and through the summer.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Bouye Feb 15 10:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye could be released this offseason to clear $11.4 million in salary cap space. Bouye has two interceptions the last two years, while Tre Herndon, who started opposite of Bouye when Jalen Ramsey was traded to the Rams, had three interceptions last season and will make $660,000 in 2020. Jacksonville could look to the draft in April to try and address their need for a new cornerback. Once one of the top secondaries in the NFL just several seasons ago, it has now become a weakness for the Jags.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Fournette Feb 15 10:40pm ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars must decide this offseason if they will pick up running back Leonard Fournette's $10.1 million fifth-year option for 2021. It's an interesting decision because they are limited for salary cap space, so they could decline the option and wait to see how he performs in 2020 before considering a contract extension. The 25-year-old had 265 carries for a career-high 1,152 yards, but he rushed for only three touchdowns in 15 games. It's Fournette's second 1,000-yard season in his three seasons. Despite the lack of TDs in 2019, he should be seen as an RB1 in a run-first offense next season. He has yet to play in a full season, though, so he's a bit risky as an RB1.

From RotoBaller

Nick Foles Feb 15 10:40pm ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars need to continue searching for a franchise quarterback. Rookie Gardner Minshew showed flashes in 2019, but he'll need to prove he's more than just a game manager in a larger sample size. The team could also seek to find a trade partner for Nick Foles, who flopped as a big free-agent acquisition in 2019. Because of the presence of Minshew on the roster, Foles likely doesn't have much of a future in Jacksonville, and his lack of mobility limits his production with Jacksonville's offensive line a work in progress. Foles broke his collarbone in the season opener and played in just four games while being benched after he returned from injury. Even if he wins the starting job heading into next season, he'll be a midrange QB2, at best.

From RotoBaller

Kwon Alexander Feb 14 5:40pm ET

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander (biceps), who had surgery on his pectoral muscle last season, was also dealing with a biceps injury and is undergoing surgery on Friday, according to sources. Alexander should be fully recovered in time for the 2020 season. The 25-year-old played in just eight games in 2019 in his first season with San Fran because of his pectoral injury. In those eight contests, Alexander had 34 tackles (22 solo), half a sack, a forced fumble and an interception. He's played in just 14 games the last two seasons and will need to stay on the field if he wants to remain with the 49ers past the 2020 season.

From RotoBaller

Paul Richardson Feb 14 5:30pm ET

The Washington Redskins released wide receiver Paul Richardson and cornerback Josh Norman on Friday. Richardson, 27, was due to make $6.5 million this year, but he caught just 48 passes in 17 games in his two seasons and made almost $17 million in that span. Norman, 32, played just 53 percent of the defensive snaps last season and fell down the depth chart late in the year for his poor play. He was scheduled to make $12 million in 2020. Norman didn't make one Pro Bowl in his four seasons in D.C. and had seven interceptions. Richardson could latch on elsewhere as a deep threat and bounce back, but he will need to stay healthy.

From RotoBaller

Kenyan Drake Feb 14 5:20pm ET

The Arizona Cardinals want to retain running back Kenyan Drake, who will be a free agent in March, and placing the franchise tag on him is a possibility if they don't sign him to a long-term deal. Drake took over the starting gig from the injured David Johnson after the trade from Miami, and Johnson would likely play second fiddle to Drake in the backfield if the Cardinals don't trade him. In eight games last year, Drake ran the ball 123 times for 643 yards (5.2 yards per carry) with a career-high eight touchdowns. He fits the Cardinals much better from a fantasy perspective than he did in Miami, despite Arizona's shaky offensive line. If Johnson is on another team come next season, Drake will have RB1 upside.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Peterson Feb 14 11:10am ET

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said that the team has had initial contract-extension talks with cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is heading into the final year of his contract. Peterson, a fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, has been one of the best cover corners in his nine seasons in the NFL. He missed the first six games of last season due to suspension and finished 2019 with 53 total tackles (46 solo), one sack, one forced fumble and two interceptions. He had a falling out with Arizona recently, but he has gone back on trade demands and is willing to remain in the desert.

From RotoBaller

David Johnson Feb 14 11:00am ET

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said that cutting running back David Johnson "is not an option." Keim also added that "you can't just have one back," and Kenyan Drake, who took over the starting role in the second half last year, is scheduled to be a free agent in March. Johnson ran the ball just 94 times for 345 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and two rushing touchdowns in 13 games last season. He battled nagging injuries that slowed him down and caused him to lose the starting job to Drake. The 28-year-old looked like a shell of his former self, one that ran for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016. Even if DJ returns in 2020, it seems unlikely that he'll be a bell-cow back with all of his injury concerns.

From RotoBaller

Tyrod Taylor Feb 13 10:00pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said that quarterback Tyrod Taylor, last year's backup to Philip Rivers, could have an opportunity to win the starting job in 2020. "Tyrod Taylor is a heck of a quarterback," Lynn told AM 570 LA Sports. "We couldn't have a better backup right now, and now he has an opportunity to maybe step up into a starting role." Taking care of the football is a top priority for Lynn after Philip Rivers turned the ball over 23 times in 2019. In his last full season as a starter, Taylor turned the ball over just six times in 2017 while leading the Bills to the playoffs. Taylor can also add an element with his legs on the ground as a mobile quarterback. With the weapons around him if he's the starter, Taylor will have QB1 upside, but he'll be better off taken as a QB2 with upside in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Diontae Johnson Feb 13 9:40pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (hernia) recently underwent sports hernia surgery. A third-round pick in 2019, Johnson caught 59 passes on 92 targets for 680 yards and five touchdowns in a full season in his rookie year with Pittsburgh. He saw more opportunities during the year with JuJu Smith-Schuster banged up, but he was also hurt by poor quarterback play from Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. If Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) returns healthy in 2020, Johnson could make quite the leap in his second season as the potential No. 2 receiver behind Smith-Schuster. He should be recovered in plenty of time to be ready for training camp this summer.

From RotoBaller

Philip Rivers Feb 13 3:50pm ET

The Los Angeles Chargers agreed to a one-year contract extension with head coach Anthony Lynn that puts him with the team through the 2021 season. The Chargers are entering a transition now that they have officially moved on from veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, and they're expected to let running back Melvin Gordon walk in free agency as well. Tyrod Taylor could be under center for the Bolts, at least to start the 2020 season, but the Chargers could also upgrade the position through free agency, the draft or a trade. Lynn, 51, led the Chargers to a disappointing 5-11 last-place finish in the AFC West. He's 26-22 in his three years with LA.

From RotoBaller

Ben Roethlisberger Feb 13 2:20pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said that "all signs are good to this point" with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (elbow), who will have a medical checkup on Feb. 21. The team's medical staff has constantly been working with Big Ben, and Colbert said Roethlisberger could be better than he was a year ago. The 37-year-old (38 in March) played in just two games in 2019 before requiring right elbow surgery. It will be tough for him to be better than he was in 2018 (5,129 yards, 34 touchdowns), but Big Ben could still have QB1 upside in 2020. The smart play is to take him as a QB2 with some upside in fantasy drafts, though. A healthy Big Ben will be great news for JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was a huge bust in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Anthony Firkser Feb 13 2:20pm ET

The Tennessee Titans agreed on a one-year contract extension with tight end Anthony Firkser on Thursday. Firkser was on track to become an exclusive-rights free agent in March. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. The Harvard alum had two big touchdown catches in the playoffs and hauled in 14 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown in 15 games during the regular season. Firkser caught three passes for 45 yards and the two scores in the postseason. Tennessee might be moving on from veteran Delanie Walker this offseason, but even so, Firkser will likely back up Jonnu Smith in 2020, making him a fantasy afterthought.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Feb 13 12:20pm ET

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn refuted a Wednesday night report that the team is in talks to trade quarterback Matthew Stafford. "100% False!!" Quinn wrote in a text message to the Free Press. Stafford is entering his 12th season in the NFL and threw for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions while setting a career-high passer rating in just eight games before suffering a back injury that caused him to miss the rest of the season. Detroit has the No. 3 pick in the draft, prompting speculation that they could move on from Stafford and select another QB. Stafford gives the Lions the best chance to win in 2020, and the team would incur a $32 million salary cap hit if they trade him.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Feb 13 10:23am ET

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford is the subject of trade rumors, but general manager Bob Quinn stated the rumors are '100 percent false.'

Fantasy Spin: Stafford was third in fantasy points per game at the position, but he missed half of the season. He'll be a midrange QB1 with some injury risk next season.

From TheHuddle