Chris Clemons informs Seahawks he plans to retire

Originally undrafted out of Georgia back in 2003, Clemons drifted around the league as a situational player until finding a home as the “elephant” pass rusher coming off the edge in Pete Carroll’s defense. He proceeded to reel off three consecutive seasons of double digit sacks, bringing the heat for a historically dominant pass defense.

With promising young defensive ends Frank Clark and Cassius Marsh poised for increased playing time behind Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, the veteran wasn’t guaranteed a roster spot coming out of training camp.

Clemons will finish a lengthy career with 69 career sacks over 162 NFL games.

Mike Wallace passes conditioning test, returns to field

The Mike Wallace nightmare is over.

The Baltimore Ravens wide receiver is back on the field Friday after passing his conditioning test, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Video evidence of Wallace hitting the practice field:

Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) July 29, 2016
The truth of the matter is that Wallace failing his conditioning test a couple of days ago was never a big deal. If his name was Renaldo James instead of Mike Wallace, no one would have blinked an eye. Because Wallace is a lightning rod for criticism, any small opening for blasting will be jammed with 10,000 sticks of hot-take dynamite.

Despite agreeing to terms on a contract earlier this week, Long declined to sign an injury waiver with the Ravens and thus will remain a free agent, the offensive tackle told ESPN’s Adam Schefter in a text Friday.

Long played just 11 snaps over four games with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015 after suffering ACL tears to his right knee in back-to-back seasons.

Long passed an exit physical with the Falcons in January and another conducted by Dr. James Andrews this week, per Schefter.

Last month, the 31-year-old tackle insisted he was “finally healthy.”

“This is the healthiest and best I’ve felt in probably about five, six years,” Long said. “My knee’s back. I’ve just been working out, feeling good and ready for the opportunity when it comes along.”

By not agreeing to sign a waiver, that opportunity will not be in Baltimore.

Colin Kaepernick has clearance for camp

New coach Chip Kelly has assured that there will be a fair competition between Gabbert and Kaepernick for the 49ers’ starting job.

“All I’ve heard is that Chip has told me it’s going to be a competition … and to come in and be ready to compete,” Kaepernick said in June. “That’s my mindset, and I’m excited to do that.”

One rival defensive coordinator has predicted that Kaepernick will be a “nightmare” in Kelly’s offense, which is ideally suited to the athletic quarterback’s skill set.

To be fair, though, Kelly has astutely pointed out that Gabbert’s underappreciated athleticism also “jumped out” in offseason practices.

It might take until the third preseason game before a heavy favorite emerges as the Week 1 starter.

New York’s best fit: WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma, No. 40 overall

Statistics can be bent in any which way to prove a point but consider this — Odell Beckham, Jr.’s 96 catches a season ago nearly doubled the 59 grabbed by running back Shane Vereen, who finished second on the club in receptions. The disparity is just as bad in receiving yards and touchdowns, where OBJ recorded 1,450 and 13 scores, with Rueben Randle finishing with a respectable (but hardly frightening) 797 yards and eight touchdowns.

The 6-foot-2, 208-pound Randle has the size and build-up speed to give Eli Manning a quality threat on the perimeter to complement Beckham but the club needed to find another interior threat with Victor Cruz’s salsa losing its rhythm the past two seasons.

Josh Gordon won’t be ready for training camp.

The Cleveland Browns on Tuesday placed their back-from-suspension wideout on the active/non-football injury list after Gordon hurt his quadriceps while working out on his own this summer, per the team’s official website. Gordon is expected to miss “at least a couple of weeks,” according to the Browns.

With this year’s NFL Draft in the past, teams have the opportunity to add veteran help to address areas of need. But the ability to sign quality veterans who remain on the market is in part dictated by the salary cap space each team possesses.

There are fewer teams with challenging salary cap situations because the annual growth in the cap has been around eight percent over the last couple of years and unused cap room can be carried over from one year to the next. Despite this, those teams that have pushed the envelope may not be immune from decisions somewhat dictated by the cap.

Greg Hardy visits, works out with Jaguars

Greg Hardy could be headed back to the NFL.

The defensive end visited and worked out for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Wednesday and Thursday, NFL Media Insider Rand Getlin reported, according to a source familiar with the visit. Despite the workouts, no signing is imminent, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source informed of the Jacksonville’s plans.

Hardy was suspended 10 games during 2015 regular season for conduct detrimental to the league, however, the suspension later was reduced to four games on appeal.

After returning to the field, Hardy embarked on 12 tumultuous games with the Cowboys last season. Dallas showed little interest in bringing him back despite his six sacks with the team. He has been a free agent since March, attracting little interest.

Hardy’s 2015 suspension came following a two-month investigation by the league into Hardy’s 2014 domestic violence incident involving ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder. Hardy was arrested on charges of assault on a female and communicating threats in May of 2014. Hardy’s legal case in North Carolina state court was dismissed last February after the accuser in the case couldn’t be found.

By contrast, Greg Hardy totaled 15 sacks for the Carolina Panthers in 2013, then played just one game in 2014 after the team placed him on the commissioner’s exempt list after his own domestic violence incident. In 2015, confident Hardy would help their pass-rush, the Dallas Cowboys signed him to an incentive-laden contract.

Rice has been working out in Stamford, Conn., near his home, and has been visiting colleges as well as the Ravens to tell his story.

“The only way to fix the problem is awareness. It’s an epidemic,” Rice said of domestic violence. “I know that my situation raised awareness. I’m not thankful for being that guy, but I’m thankful for the people that now are not afraid to ask for help, because I had to go get the help myself after to realize the severity of what domestic violence is.”

The verbal slap fight between Odell Beckham and Josh Norman continues unabated.

During a Facebook Live chat with Business Insider reporter Scott Davis on Thursday, Norman was asked about Beckham’s potshot in an upcoming issue of GQ about the Redskins cornerback gaining relevance in NFL circles, only due to the ongoing feud between the two players.

“I don’t even know how you respond to that other than laugh,” Norman replied, via the Washington Post. “I don’t know what you get out of that. I don’t know, man. There’s a time when people who honor themselves will fall short, so when that day comes, we’ll just see.”

Aqib Talib feels ‘great,’ gunshot wound appears to almost be healed

It’s not clear how much Talib has been able to work out since being shot, but he did say that he’s “back running and everything.”

Pictures and video from the golf tournament seem to show a healthy Talib.

There’s no visible wounds on his right leg and he seems to walking without a limp.

The Broncos cornerback was shot in Dallas on June 5. According to the police report from the incident, the bullet went through his right thigh, before exiting through his calf. After six weeks of investigating the incident, police still aren’t sure who shot Talib, and no one has been charged.

The NFL is also investigating the incident.

The cornerback hasn’t offered any details to anyone about what happened, saying in June that he was “too intoxicated to remember what happened.”

The contract stalemate between Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets isn’t only affecting Fitzpatrick’s relationship with the team, apparently, it’s also affecting Fitzpatrick’s relationship with Brandon Marshall.

“To be honest, me and Fitz talk every day, all the time, but I texted him the last two weeks three times and there’s [been] no response,” Marshall said on the I Am Rapoport podcast, via CBS Sports Local. “It’s not like him. It’s scaring me right now. It’s scaring me that my guy hasn’t texted me back.”
Marshall did concede that there might actually be a good reason that Fitzpatrick hasn’t responded to his texts.

Marshall has been supportive of Fitzpatrick during his bitter negotiations with the team, and that’s because Marshall’s been in that situation himself.
“I try to give support to the player, to Fitz, to [Muhammad Wilkerson], understanding what they’re going through because I’ve been through it,” Marshall said.

Fitzpatrick has been unwilling to accept the Jets offer of a three-year, $24 million deal that would include over $10 million in guaranteed money. If Fitzpatrick doesn’t accept the offer by the start of training camp, then the Jets should move on, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.
La Canfora says the team should give Fitzpatrick a “take it or leave it” offer with a July 27 deadline.

Blandino told the Sun that if the study goes well, the uprights could be narrowed as soon as the 2017 season. “You never know,” he said. “We’ll see what the data tells us. The committee will discuss it and then make a recommendation for 2017 if they feel that we need to go that route. But I wouldn’t know at this point, without seeing how it goes this year.”

If the NFL does narrow the uprights, that will undoubtedly affect the conversion rate of not only field goal attempts, but extra points. In the first year of the NFL’s 32-yard extra point, kickers league wide made 94.1 percent of their attempts. That already made the average extra point less valuable than going for a two-point conversion. Were the rate of success on extra points to drop even more, that gap would widen and it could possibly motivate teams to go for two more often. Of course, some NFL coaches would still refuse to go for it out of fear, but the logical ones would start following the math.

Saints favorites to land arguably the best receiver left in free agency

Even after the change, confusion remained. While the rule got more specific, it didn’t get any easier for the officials, who will be tasked with deciding within a split second if a receiver fits within the criteria listed above.

On Thursday, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino provided an explanation for the updated language. In actuality, he might’ve made it more confusing.

Though the rulebook attempts to lay out what is and isn’t a catch with that paragraph above, Blandino told SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Ross Tucker and Brad Hopkins that it isn’t an “all-inclusive list.”

Boldin is arguably the best receiver still left in free agency, heading a group of unsigned receivers that also includes Roddy White and James Jones.
As Rapoport reported, Boldin views New Orleans as an attractive destination because of receivers coach John Morton, who coached Boldin with the 49ers. Of course, he also might want to join the Saints, who cut Marques Colston this offseason, because he’d be catching passes from future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.

“We just try to give some examples. It’s not an all-inclusive list, but it is something that officials will be looking for, when it goes to replay, we’ll be looking for and things that everybody else can use to gauge what the decision is going to be.”

In other words, common sense can sometimes override the rulebook. I don’t foresee that being an issue at any point this season (note the sarcasm).
There appears to be no end in sight to the confusion. Because as long as the NFL sticks with the current catch rule — “two feet, then time,” as Blandino put it — there’s never going to be a way to adequately define and consistently enforce the “time” requirement, especially if the common sense of an individual official is allowed to overrule what the actual rulebook says.

Last season, while playing in a porous 49ers offense Boldin caught 69 passes for 789 yards and four touchdowns. As long as he’s not the primary weapon of an offense, he still has plenty to offer. Plus, Boldin could also serve as a mentor for Cooks, 22, and Thomas, 23.

Boldin ranks 12th all-time in receptions with 1,009.

A week ago, the NFL officially updated the catch rule. While the league didn’t necessarily change the rule, it provided additional language to help clarify when in fact a receiver becomes a runner.

Via the rulebook for the 2016 season:

A player has the ball long enough to become a runner when, after his second foot is on the ground, he is capable of avoiding or warding off impending contact of an opponent, tucking the ball away, turning up field, or taking additional steps.

The ice is thawing between Von Miller and the Broncos

Perhaps there won’t be an agreement, since there was an extreme difference in the amount of guaranteed money Miller wants and what the Broncos are offering. The Eagles’ massive deal to defensive tackle Fletcher Cox couldn’t have helped negotiations. But it’s hard to believe Miller would really not sign the $14 million tag and sit out all season, and it’s weird the Broncos are low-balling the Super Bowl 50 MVP on guaranteed money. It’s also hard to believe there’s not a middle ground where Miller becomes insanely rich and the Broncos lock up their best player for the foreseeable future.

Philadelphia last hosted the NFL draft in 1961 at the Warwick Hotel, which still exists. Bonus trivia nugget: The first phase of the 1950 NFL draft happened at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, a private social and athletic club that also remains standing. We suggest holding events that week at both locations for nostalgia’s sake.

If the draft is indeed coming back to Philly, Day 1 might be a bit boring for the locals. The Philadelphia Eagles currently do not own a first-round selection. Oops. Better hope Carson Wentz, who might not even play this coming season, is a beast.

Of course, that predicament likely was going to happen no matter which city landed the draft. Speculation had run rampant that the draft would be held elsewhere in 2017 and that the two favorites were Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Yes, the Los Angeles Rams also do not own a first; they, like the Eagles, traded theirs this year to land a quarterback.

The two sides hadn’t talked for a few weeks before last weekend, when Elway reportedly reached out to Miller. Friday’s meeting will be another step in the process. Nobody will be surprised if sometime before next Friday’s deadline, Miller is smiling alongside Elway after he agrees to a deal that’s about six years and $114.5 million (Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reported in early June that Miller agreed to those terms; the impasse is all about guaranteed money).

It looked bad in June, but communication lines are open again. The two sides need each other too much for next week’s deadline to pass without a deal being done.

First things first: Philadelphia gets a bit of a bad rap.

So if the reports are true that Philly will host the 2017 NFL draft, we should not assume that Myles Garrett or Leonard Fournette or Deshaun Watson automatically will have batteries chucked at their heads.

Donovan McNabb was not the preferred choice of Eagles fans, who booed him in New York during the 1999 NFL draft (Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport/Getty Images)
Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Brady told the Philadelphia Daily News that the city would host the draft. The city to this point has said not so fast, and the NFL isn’t confirming any deals. But Brady indicates that the mayor has pledged $5 million to host the three-day event, which has taken place in Chicago the past two years, in 2017.

Calvin Johnson’s concussion tale is pretty scary

Johnson said he was concerned about the concussion issue before he retired. There were other parts of the interview that should cause concern, like Johnson talking about painkillers early in his career and saying “the team doctors and trainers they were giving them out like candy.”

The culture isn’t close to changing. There have been fixes, such as better player safety rules and a better understanding of concussions. But there will always be the fundamental challenge of players feeling a need to play through pain — whether they feel that pressure because they want to compete or because they’re worried about losing their job in a world of mostly non-guaranteed contracts — and of teams pressuring their star players like Johnson to play even if they’re banged up. It’s hard to imagine a time when that won’t be the case.

“The team doctor, the team trainers, they work for the team. And I love ’em, you know,” Johnson said in the “E:60” interview. “They’re some good people, you know. They want to see you do good. But at the same time, they work for the team, you know. They’re trying to do whatever they can to get you back on the field and make your team look good.”

Players are smarter about some of the dangers they face in their sport. Some, like former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, have been outspoken about issues like painkiller use (and it’s fair to assume teams probably don’t love when players become self aware). But there’s no way to get rid of the violence in the sport, and players are still willing to engage in behavior that is a severe risk to their long-term health just to play every Sunday. That will never be eliminated.

Johnson understood what he was putting his body through to play football, and he got out after nine seasons while he was still a top NFL receiver. He won’t be the last to step away at an early age, either.

You knew we couldn’t get through a July 4 holiday weekend without some weird NFL story.

Denard Robinson, the Jacksonville Jaguars running back and former Michigan star, was an unlikely candidate to create the weird story though. But he pulled it off.

At 4:20 a.m. Sunday, according to Jacksonville.com, Robinson and a female passenger crashed into a retention pond after going down an embankment. They were asleep at the time of the crash and had to be helped out of the vehicle. The driver’s side door of the car was submerged in water, the Jacksonville Fox affiliate reported, citing the police report.

This is a worrisome time for NFL teams — the July 4 weekend when a handful of players historically get in trouble just a few weeks before training camps open.

Such might be the case for Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Dominique Robertson, an undrafted offensive guard out of Division II West Georgia, who reportedly was shot early Thursday morning and later detained by police, according to a report in the Press Enterprise.