Sat Oct 12 5:34pm ET
By KEITH JENKINS
AP Sports Writer
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws during pregame of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay rushes during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers slides to the ground after running the ball during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs the ball against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson (88) pulls in a 5-yard pass for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The stakes will be high on Monday night.
The Packers and Lions enter Week 6 as the only two teams in the NFC North with one loss. A win in the primetime showdown at Lambeau Field will no doubt send a message to the rest of the division and the conference on which team is a serious contender.
''We only got one Monday night game, so we got to take advantage of that and let everybody know the type of team we are and the type of players we are,'' Lions safety Quandre Diggs said. ''We just have to go out there and have some fun and enjoy the bright lights.''
Detroit (2-1-1) has won four in a row against Green Bay (4-1) for the first time since the 1982 and 1983 seasons. Will Detroit's success last season, including a 31-0 drubbing at Lambeau, help the team slow down Aaron Rodgers on Monday night?
''It probably makes me more nervous than anything to be honest with you, just knowing what a competitor he is,'' coach Matt Patricia said.
The Lions have won three of four at Green Bay after ending a 24-game road losing streak in the series in 2015.
''The toughest part of playing at Lambeau is the Packers,'' quarterback Matthew Stafford said. ''It's not the environment.''
AARON'S READY, BUT DAVANTE IS NOT
Rodgers has thrown for 300-plus yards and achieved a passer rating of at least 100 in four consecutive Monday night starts. That's the longest streak in the history of ''Monday Night Football.'' But the two-time MVP will have to take the field for the second straight week without his favorite target.
Receiver Davante Adams has been ruled out for Monday after suffering a turf toe injury during the Packers' Week 4 loss to the Eagles.
''It is a major injury so it's something that we gotta pay attention to and make sure we monitor in the correct way to make sure that it's not something that gets re-aggravated later on in the season or I come back a little too early and really mess the thing up,'' Adams said. ''So we are really just trying to pace it at this point. I can't really tell you when I'm going to play. I don't know. it doesn't feel how I want it to feel at the moment.''
Adams was having his best game of the season before going down in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia. The two-time Pro Bowler had 180 yards on 10 catches but was not on the field when Green Bay suffered its only loss of the season.
Diggs is not afraid to express his affection for Rodgers as a player and person.
''I've always been an A-Rod fan since I was in high school and college and he's a cool guy,'' said Diggs, who met Rodgers when he entered the draft four years ago because they're represented by the same agency.
AN ENCORE FOR JONES?
Running back Aaron Jones had four touchdowns in the Packers' win at Dallas last week. Jones, who played high school and college ball in El Paso, Texas, became the first player ever to run for four touchdowns against the Cowboys. Jones finished with 182 scrimmage yards (107 rushing and 75 receiving).
''He's a great kid and does it all the right way,'' Rodgers said of Jones. ''So you can't help but to be excited for a guy like that. It couldn't happen - a game like that - to a better guy, a better teammate.''
Lions receiver Danny Amendola is expected to play after missing the team's previous game, a four-point loss to Kansas City in Week 4.
''He brings that fire, energy and juice,'' receiver Marvin Jones said. ''Happy to have him out there.''
NO RETURN OF THE MIKE
Lions defensive tackle Mike Daniels will not face his former team for the first time. Daniels was inactive in Detroit's last game against the Chiefs with a foot injury and will also be sidelined on Monday. The Packers released the former Pro Bowler in July, and Daniels signed a one-year deal with the Lions two days later. Daniels spent his first seven seasons in Green Bay.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are strongly considering using the franchise tag on defensive end Shaquil Barrett if the two sides can't work out a long-term deal, according to a league source. If the Bucs use the tag on Barrett, they wouldn't be able to use one on quarterback Jameis Winston. Barrett had 14 sacks in his first four seasons with Denver before exploding for 19.5 sacks in his first year in Tampa in 2019. Was last year an outlier for the 27-year-old or will it become the norm? That's what Tampa must figure out, as well as fantasy owners in IDP leagues considering using a high pick on him for the 2020 season.
The Dallas Cowboys are meeting with the representatives of cornerback Byron Jones on Friday, according to the Dallas Morning News' Calvin Watkins. Owner Jerry Jones said it's "not a given" that Jones has priced himself off the roster, but it'll be tough for Dallas to keep him from hitting the market as they try to retain both quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper. A first-round pick in 2015, Jones has two interceptions in 79 career starts and none in his last 40 starts, but he should get around $15 million per season on the open market. It might be inevitable at this point that Jones leaves the Cowboys, which will be a blow to a Dallas secondary that is already nothing special.
Arizona Cardinals impending free-agent running back Kenyan Drake is seeking a deal that will pay him $8-10 million per season if he reaches the open market, according to sources. Drake excelled after being traded from the Dolphins to the Cardinals last year, running the ball 123 times for 643 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns. The eight scores were a career high in just eight games to close out the season. He's looking to cash in on that small sample size. The Cardinals would certainly like him back, especially with David Johnson's health now a question, but he may prove too expensive for their taste. If Drake is playing somewhere that he is the unquestioned lead back, he proved in 2019 that he can have RB1 upside.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made it clear that he wants to re-sign tight end Jason Witten. I feel strongly he wants to play and I think he can play, Jones said. I would hope that he would not ever be anything but a Cowboy. Its meaningful. Hes in the tops right there. I do think he can play. As I sit here right now I think he can make a real contribution to the Cowboys. Witten played 75 percent of the offensive snaps last year and had 63 catches for 529 yards and four touchdowns. But Witten is slow on the field and is getting in the way of Blake Jarwin, who is expected to have a bigger role in 2020. If Witten returns, he'll have to accept a lesser role. Even if he lands somewhere else, the aging veteran is nothing more than a low-upside, touchdown-dependent TE2.
The Indianapolis Colts are a likely landing spot for free-agent safety Eric Berry, who sat out all of last season. Berry is a former All-Pro with the Chiefs, but he's played in just four games in the last three years, including the playoffs. The veteran safety tore his Achilles in the first game of the 2017 season. Berry was released by the Chiefs last offseason. He "did have offers" to play last year, but he wanted to ensure he was fully healthy. "I've seen tape of him, and he looks great," Trotter said. At this point in his career with all of his injuries, Berry is no sure thing for any team. He probably won't be an every-down player anymore either.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (knee) played through a torn meniscus in his knee last season, which he recently had trimmed. Winston also played through a broken thumb in 2019 but didn't miss a single game, throwing for an NFL-high 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns. But he also had a league-high 30 interceptions and has struggled with turnovers his entire career. The 26-year-old former first overall pick in 2015 will be a free agent next month, but there's a chance the Bucs keep him around on a short-term deal. If he stays in Tampa with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as his top two receivers, Winston will be a high-end QB1 in 2020. You'll just have to live with the turnovers.
New England Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (ankle) will need to undergo surgery on a high ankle sprain that plagued him throughout last season, according to a source. Sanu was hoping to avoid surgery, but his injury failed to heal in the offseason. It also helps explain why his production tailed off late last year with the Patriots. After coming over to the Patriots from the Falcons in a trade, the 30-year-old had 26 catches for 207 yards and only one touchdown in eight games in New England. He wasn't the solution for an underwhelming Patriots receiving group outside of Julian Edelman. With quarterback Tom Brady's future with the Pats in question, Sanu probably will go undrafted in most standard-size leagues this fall.
The Chicago Bears are planning to pursue Atlanta Falcons impending free-agent tight end Austin Hooper, according to a source. The two-time Pro Bowler will not receive the franchise tag from the Falcons and will hit the free-agent market next month. Spotrac projects Hooper's value at $50 million for five years, which would make him the league's highest-paid tight end in 2020. However, the Bears are a long shot for Hooper with $26 million in salary cap space and other needs to address. The Bears have Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen, but neither were able to stay healthy last year and Hooper would be a significant upgrade over them both. Hooper set career highs across the board in 2019, but his high-end upside would be in question with quarterback Mitch Trubisky throwing him the football.
The Green Bay Packers are scheduled to meet with running back Aaron Jones' agent, who is interested in starting talks on a new deal for his client. Jones is heading into the final year of his contract and was the third-highest scoring running back in fantasy in 2019, behind only Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry. He ran for 1,084 yards and scored 16 rushing touchdowns, tied for the most with Henry. Whether Jones receives a new deal this summer or not, he'll be a first-round running back in fantasy drafts this fall.
The Green Bay Packers, who are intent on adding a pass-catcher in both free agency and the draft, plan to make a run at Atlanta Falcons impending free-agent tight end Austin Hooper. Hooper won't come cheap and is likely to reset the tight end market when he reaches free agency next month. The 25-year-old missed three games last season and still managed to post career highs in catches (75), receiving yards (787) and touchdowns (six). The Packers are expected to move on from the aging Jimmy Graham, and Hooper would be a really nice fit with quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing him the pigskin. Hooper should be a high-end TE1 wherever he winds up.
The Los Angeles Rams have spoken with free-agent tight end Jordan Reed, according to a source. Reed is training in Miami and wants to continue playing despite missing all of the 2019 season with a concussion he suffered in the preseason. The former third-round pick in 2013 just recently was cleared from the concussion protocol and has had seven documented concussions in the NFL. He's never played in a full season because of a long list of injuries, but his talent has never been in question when he's been on the field. With Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett already in the mix in LA, Reed would have a tough path to playing time if he chose the Rams. His main concern will be staying healthy wherever he goes.
The Indianapolis Colts are taking a hard look at Los Angeles Chargers impending free-agent quarterback Philip Rivers this week during the scouting combine. The Colts have also denied engaging with New England Patriots impending free-agent quarterback Tom Brady's camp, according to a league source. Indy was put in a tough situation with the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck right before last season, and Jacoby Brissett didn't exactly inspire confidence as his successor in 2019. That's why the Colts are expected to be in the QB market, and head coach Frank Reich has a history with Rivers when he worked with him with the Chargers. Rivers, 38, certainly looked his age last year, but he could benefit from a strong offensive line if he signed with the Colts. Still, he'd merely be a QB2 with experience heading into 2020 for fantasy purposes.
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had some nice things to say about quarterback Derek Carr on Thursday. "I love what Derek Carr did, love what he brings to our team and anxious to continue to build around him," Gruden said. "I really think Derek is a heck of a player and I got a lot of respect for what he has done with some tough circumstances." Carr's future with the Raiders is in question with rumors connecting Las Vegas to Tom Brady, who will become a free agent next month. Carr had a career-high 70.4 completion percentage and threw for a career-high 4,054 yards with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2019. Still, that might've been more of a ceiling for Carr, and the Raiders would love to make a splash in their new home with Brady. If Carr remains the team's QB going into 2020, he'll serve as a low-ceiling QB2.
New York Giants tight end Rhett Ellison (head) is considering retirement after missing the last six games of the 2019 season because of a concussion, according to three NFL sources. The 31-year-old has 67 catches for 674 yards and four touchdowns in 40 games with the Giants and also spent five years with the Vikings. He has a $7.18 million salary cap hit in 2020 with $5 million in savings and only $2.18 million in dead money if he's released or retires. Ellison's contract will need to be reworked if he decides to continue playing. A blocking-first tight end, Ellison is unlikely to have much fantasy appeal next season if he decides against hanging up his cleats.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck) is "100 percent in my eyes." Vander Esch is expected to be a full participant by the start of training camp this summer after having his 2019 season cut short due to neck issues that required surgery. It's great news that LVE is progressing nicely, but we'll keep an eye on his progress this spring. If healthy, he's a game-changer in the middle of the defense for the Cowboys, as he proved in his rookie year in 2018. Vander Esch will come at a discount in IDP leagues this fall and could be a nice value pick if he stays on the field.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (foot) remains in a walking boot after having surgery in late December. The Giants must decide by May whether to pick up Engram's fifth-year option for the 2021 season. He's expected to be sidelined until training camp and has missed 14 games due to injury in his three seasons in the league. The 25-year-old played in just eight games in 2019 and had a career-low 44 catches for 467 yards and three touchdowns. He has high-end tight end potential when he's healthy, but his injuries make him a high-risk, high-reward fantasy selection moving forward.
The Dallas Cowboys met with wide receiver Amari Cooper's representatives on Thursday night, according to a source. The Cowboys want to reach long-term deals with both Cooper and quarterback Dak Prescott. Talks with Cooper should intensify before the start of free agency on March 18, but the transition tag is likely off the table. If the Cowboys use the franchise tag on Prescott, who is the bigger priority, there's a good chance that Cooper reaches the open market. He was a top-10 fantasy wideout in 2019 despite fighting through nagging injuries for much of the season. If he stays with Prescott in Dallas, Cooper will remain a strong WR1.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that defensive end Robert Quinn is "the real deal" and is "hopeful that we can do something to keep him." Quinn's contract is set to expire on March 18. The 29-year-old had 11.5 sacks in his first year in Dallas, but there's a good chance he'll reach the open market. He was a Pro Bowler in 2013-14 and was a first-team All-Pro for the Rams in 2013 when he recorded a career-high 19 sacks. The Cowboys have other pressing business in trying to re-sign both quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper to long-term extensions.
Updating a previous report, New England Patriots impending free-agent quarterback Tom Brady doesn't have an offer from the Patriots, but it's not a huge surprise without a new collective bargaining agreement at this time. However, Brady is in the Patriots plans for the 2020 season. Brady's agent is in Indianapolis this week and is talking with other teams, too. If the Patriots don't work something out with the future Hall of Famer, the Chargers and Raiders are expected to make a run at him, with the Titans also a potential landing spot. Where Brady lands will be the biggest storyline of the offseason. He looked his age in 2019 with a mediocre supporting cast on offense, and fantasy owners can't count on him as a surefire QB1 moving forward, regardless of whether he leaves New England.
The Washington Redskins have had good conversations with left tackle Trent Williams, but the team's attempt to bring him back in 2020 is an ongoing process, according to head coach Ron Rivera. Williams is heading into the last year of his contract and has told the team that he either wants his contract redone or to be traded, according to sources familiar with the situation. The 'Skins have pushed the situation to the backburner with the draft and free agency approaching, so it's still possible that Williams won't be back with Washington in 2020 and beyond. The 31-year-old seven-time Pro Bowler would be a huge asset on the blind side for developing quarterback Dwayne Haskins, but it remains to be seen if the two sides can work something out.