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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Fitzgerald mum, as usual, on whether this is NFL finale

Thu Dec 27 8:16pm ET
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer

Players: Larry Fitzgerald, Josh Rosen

In this Dec. 9, 2018, file photo, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) makes his 1,282nd career catch during the second half of an NFL football game as Detroit Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson (24) defends in Glendale, Ariz. Fitzgerald will complete a difficult season in Seattle, and he is not saying whether it will be his last. Through 15 years in the league, all with the Cardinals, he has compiled statistics that rival any receiver in the business. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)


File-This Dec. 23, 2018, file photo shows Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) running as Los Angeles Rams defensive back Marqui Christian (41) defends during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Ariz. An Arizona loss will clinch the top-pick in the 2019 NFL draft for the Cardinals (3-12) and may spell an end to Steve Wilks tenure as their head coach. Its been an underwhelming season for the Cardinals and the struggles have led to plenty of rumors that Wilks will only last one season. Theres also the question of whether Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, will be Fitzgeralds finale after 15 standout seasons. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)


TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Someday, obviously, Larry Fitzgerald will play in his last NFL game. Whether that game is Sunday, when his beleaguered Arizona Cardinals play at Seattle, is anybody's guess.

And don't expect any hints from him. He doesn't like to talk about it.

''I haven't even thought about it,'' Fitzgerald said after the Cardinals practiced on Thursday. ''I'm just focused on trying to get this win in Seattle.''

The week before, he'd said, rather impatiently, ''You know me. I've been answering for the last three years. Nothing's going to change,'' he said. ''If I decide to retire, I'll let you guys know. Man, seriously. So, I don't understand why we keep asking these questions.''

The answer would be because he's 35 years old, played 15 seasons in the NFL and has accumulated statistics that place him among the best to play the game.

Certainly Fitzgerald seems physically capable of continuing beyond this season.

''I believe from an ability standpoint there's very few people that can do what Larry does,'' Cardinals offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said.

''That's just honest. When the ball comes in his direction, when it's time to make the play, he's one of the best to ever do it.''

Leftwich said he's never seen a better pair of hands on a receiver, although he acknowledged that might tick off Randy Moss.

Fitzgerald is remarkably durable. He's caught a pass in 226 consecutive games. Sunday will mark his 234th NFL game, all with the Cardinals, tying the franchise record set by kicker Jim Bakken, who played from 1962-78.

With 14 yards receiving, he'll top 2,000 yards receiving against the Seahawks. Fitzgerald's already topped that mark against the Rams and 49ers, so he would join Jerry Rice as the only receivers to accomplish that feat against three teams.

Last week, in an otherwise ugly loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Fitzgerald threw his first career TD pass, a nifty 32-yarder to David Johnson.

Now, though, he finds himself on a 3-12 team that ranks last in the NFL in offense with a rookie quarterback in Josh Rosen and all the inconsistencies that brings. Fitzgerald has 65 catches for 698 yards and five touchdowns. Decent stats for anyone else, but in the previous three years, Fitzgerald caught 109, 107 and 109 passes.

So why keep playing? In terms of wins and losses, this will be the worst record of any of his 15 Cardinals teams, no matter what happens on Sunday in Seattle.

Yet he said he still loves his job.

''I can't think of anything I don't like about it,'' he said. ''The grind is great, man. It's part of it. You can't do what you do on Sunday without the practices and lifting the weights and watching the film and doing all the studying and the preparation. You can't go out there and execute if you don't put the time in.''

But those losses keep piling up.

''Hard work doesn't guarantee results,'' Fitzgerald said. ''But it ensures that you're prepared to go out there and play, and that's my thing. I step on that field there's no guarantees of anything but I know I'm prepared to play. I know my assignments, I know what I need to execute. It's your will against the other man you're competing against.''

Fitzgerald, if he returns, may be dealing with another coaching change. He's voiced his support for Steve Wilks, who looks to be on shaky ground at the end of his first season as coach.

As for Wilks, he said he's just blessed to coach a player such as Fitzgerald.

''I think about that daily just being around him, to be honest with you,'' Wilks said. ''Last week, I walked up to him, and here's a Thursday practice, and he's diving for a ball in the end zone. A guy with 15 years in the league. I try to reference that with the young guys, particularly Christian (Kirk) when he was still here practicing daily. You've got a great example and a mentor to really pattern your life after - not just football, but life.

''Larry's just one of the best.''

Player Notes
Dalvin Cook Mar 18 4:30pm ET

The Minnesota Vikings re-signed running back Ameer Abdullah to an undisclosed deal on Monday. Minnesota picked Abdullah up on waiver last year, and he ended the season the team's primary kick returner after flaming out in four seasons with the Lions. In 10 games with the Lions and Vikes last year, Abdullah had just one carry. He had 165 totes for 552 yards (3.3 yards per carry) and four touchdowns in 2017 in 14 games. Abdullah will provide depth behind Dalvin Cook and Michael Boone in 2019.

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Bashaud Breeland Mar 18 3:40pm ET

The Kansas City Chiefs are signing free-agent cornerback Bashaud Breeland to a one-year, incentive-laden deal with a max value of $5.5 million on Monday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The sixth-year defensive back was inconsistent in 2019 after he had his contract rescinded by the Panthers due to a failed physical. He appeared in only seven games for the Packers and missed time with hamstring and groin ailments. Breeland had 20 tackles, two interceptions and four passes defensed. He could be in line for a starting role with his new team.

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Haloti Ngata Mar 18 3:40pm ET

Long-time defensive lineman Haloti Ngata announced his retirement on Instagram on Monday. The 35-year-old played for the Eagles in 2018 after three years with the Lions. He'll mostly be remembered for his days on a dominant Baltimore Ravens defense. Ngata was a first-round pick in 2006 and was named to five Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro teams and two second-team All-Pro squads in nine seasons with the Ravens.

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Eli Manning Mar 18 3:30pm ET

New York Giants general manager David Gettleman said that quarterback Eli Manning, who will make a base salary of $11.5 million in 2019, isn't going anywhere. The veteran quarterback is due a $5 million roster bonus on Monday. "This narrative Eli is overpaid and can't play is a crock," Gettleman told reporters Monday during a teleconference. The 38-year-old will count $23.2 million against the salary cap this year and is coming off a season where he was sacked a career-high 47 times behind a bad offensive line. Manning and the offensive line looked better down the stretch, as he threw 13 touchdowns and five interceptions in an eight-game span. Still, Manning is showing his age with diminished arm strength and lost his best aerial weapon when the Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns last week. Manning will be a low-upside, mediocre QB2 in 2019.

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Vontaze Burfict Mar 18 3:30pm ET

The Cincinnati Bengals released linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Monday, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The Bengals tried to trade Burfict before cutting him. The hard-hitting linebacker has plenty of talent but dealt with injuries and suspensions in his tenure with Cincy. He hasn't appeared in more than 11 games in any season since 2013 due to both suspensions and injury. Burfict was suspended to start a season the last three years and also battled hip and concussion issues that limited him to only seven games in 2018. Cutting Burfict saves the Bengals $5.69 million in salary cap space.

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Raheem Mostert Mar 17 12:00pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers agreed to terms on a three-year, $8.7 million deal with running back Raheem Mostert on Saturday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The deal will include $3 million guaranteed. Mostert spent the last two years with San Fran, compiling 40 rushing attempts, 291 yards and a touchdown in 20 games. He'll be buried on the depth chart behind Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida and newly-signed Tevin Coleman, so Mostert is unlikely to have any fantasy value.

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Marcus Mariota Mar 17 11:50am ET

The Tennessee Titans released quarterback Blaine Gabbert after they traded for Ryan Tannehill on Friday. Gabbert's only season in Tennessee in 2018 saw him make three starts while filling in for an injured Marcus Mariota. Gabbert spent 2017 with the Cardinals, three in San Francisco before that and three years in Jacksonville after being drafted 10th overall in 2010. He'll only attract backup work on the open market.

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Chris Conley Mar 17 11:50am ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed free-agent wide receiver Chris Conley to an undisclosed deal on Saturday, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. The team also signed offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and linebacker Jake Ryan. Conley spent the first four years of his career with the Chiefs and started 34 of 53 games while catching 104 passes for 1,238 yards and six touchdowns. The 26-year-old will likely compete for a role with the Jags and won't be fantasy relevant.

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Luke Stocker Mar 17 11:50am ET

The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms on an undisclosed one-year deal with free-agent tight end Logan Paulsen on Saturday. Paulsen returns to Atlanta, where he had only nine catches for 91 yards and one touchdown in 15 games in his first season with the Falcons last year. He should not be on anyone's fantasy radar as mostly a blocking tight end behind pass-catcher Austin Hooper and Luke Stocker.

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Tyler Eifert Mar 16 8:50pm ET

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Josh Norman Mar 15 3:50pm ET

The Washington Redskins are expected to sign free-agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to an undisclosed deal, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. DRC announced his retirement just five months ago but has decided to give it another go. He'll be reunited with former Giants teammate Landon Collins, so signed a six-year deal this week. Rodgers-Cromartie will turn 33 on April 7, and it's fair to wonder how much he has left physically. He has plenty of experience and is expected to offer cornerback depth on a team that also has Josh Norman.

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Antonio Brown Mar 15 3:50pm ET

The Oakland Raiders signed free-agent wide receiver J.J. Nelson to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Nelson spent the last four seasons with the Cardinals and caught 81 passes for 1,439 yards in 56 career games. The former fifth-rounder had his worst season in 2018, though, catching just seven passes for 64 yards and no scores in 14 games in Arizona's inept offense. The speedster does boast 17.8 yards per catch in his career and will provide another deep threat in Oakland alongside Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams after the team released veteran Jordy Nelson.

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Ryan Tannehill Mar 15 3:40pm ET

The Tennessee Titans acquired quarterback Ryan Tannehill from the Miami Dolphins on Friday and signed him to a one-year deal worth $7 million guaranteed and worth up to $12 million with incentives. The Dolphins will receive a seventh-round pick in this year's draft and a 2020 fourth-round pick in exchange. Tennessee will also get a 2019 sixth-rounder. Tannehill, a former eighth overall pick in 2012, never lived up to his draft status while going 42-46 over six seasons in Miami. He has a career 62.8 completion percentage and an 87 passer rating and will have zero fantasy appeal as Marcus Mariota's backup in his new digs. The rebuilding Dolphins are likely to look to the draft for their next signal-caller, especially after Teddy Bridgewater elected to re-sign with the Saints this week.

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Joe Flacco Mar 15 2:20pm ET

The Denver Broncos re-signed tight end Jeff Heuerman to a two-year deal worth up to $9 million on Friday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The former third-round pick in 2015 played in just 11 games due to injury last year and caught a career-high 31 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns in his third NFL season. Unless the Broncos add to the position in the draft or free agency, Heuerman will likely be the starter at the position. New quarterback Joe Flacco has targeted tight ends often in his career, so Heuerman could be a TE2 deep sleeper this year.

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Andy Dalton Mar 15 2:10pm ET

The Cincinnati Bengals signed free-agent offensive guard John Miller to a three-year, $16.5 million deal on Friday, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Miller started 47 games the last four years at right guard with the Bills and will likely be viewed as an upgrade over Alex Redmond at the spot in 2019. Cincy also re-signed right tackle Brian Hart to a three-year deal earlier in the week to shore up their offensive line. Quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Jeff Driskel were sacked a combined 37 times last year.

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Geoff Swaim Mar 15 2:10pm ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed free-agent tight end Geoff Swaim to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Ben Koyack and Pharoah McKever are the only other tight ends on roster as of now, so Swaim could become a big part of the offense in 2019. A seventh-round pick by the Cowboys in 2015, Swaim has 35 career catches for 336 yards and one touchdown in four seasons. He caught a career-high 26 passes for 242 yards and a score last year. Quarterback Nick Foles and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo have leaned on the tight end in the past, but Swaim is still likely to be more of a fantasy afterthought.

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Chandler Catanzaro Mar 15 2:10pm ET

The New York Jets signed free-agent kicker Chandler Catanzaro to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Catanzaro spent the 2017 season with Gang Green before spending time with the Panthers and Buccaneers last year. He made a career-low 73 percent of his field-goal tries in 13 games in 2018, including going 2-for-2 from 50-plus yards. He represents a downgrade from Pro Bowler Jason Myers a year ago and can be avoided for fantasy purposes.

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Kareem Hunt Mar 15 10:23am ET

Updating an immediate report, Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt will not appeal his eight-game suspension.

Kareem Hunt Mar 15 10:20am ET

The NFL has suspended Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt for eight games for violating its personal conduct policy. Hunt violated the personal conduct policy while he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, which led to his release in November. The Browns took a chance on the running back, signing him to a one-year contract in February. While Hunt is suspended, running backs Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson will be asked to lead the backfield, although there have been persistent rumors that the team would like to trade Johnson. When he does return from suspension, Hunt's role in the team's backfield is unclear.

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Kareem Hunt Mar 15 10:13am ET

Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt was suspended eight games Friday, March 15, for violating the personal conduct policy, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Hunt can still appeal the ruling, but he's gone for 75 percent of the fantasy season in a lot of leagues. You're really going to have to be lucky avoiding the injury bug if you're going to carry him as an RB5 all season. There is obvious risk of rust and obvious reward for the latter part of the season and playoffs. Nick Chubb will be an RB2 or RB3 in Hunt's stead.