NFL News and Rumors

NFL News and RumorsGridiron Experts brings you NFL News and Rumors with fantasy football implications every Friday.

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 The Chicago Bears emphasized speeding up Jay Cutler’s “clock” at OTAs and minicamp. Fantasy Factor: Cutler has a very laid-back approach to the game, and the coaches want the change that. Despite how comfortable he may appear on or off the field, Jay Cutler is about to enter a critical year in his career whether he likes it or not. QB coach Matt Cavanaugh wants the Bears quarterback to get rid of the ball quicker, and “keep a verbal running clock” every time he drops back to pass. Cutler has taken 148 sacks over the past four seasons.

The New York Jets signed TE Kellen Winslow to a one-year contract. Fantasy Factor: Considering Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley were two of Rich Cimini’s (ESPN NY) three “duds” of minicamp, opportunity may be there for the Winslow.

The Indianapolis Star projects Ahmad Bradshaw as the Indianapolis Colts’ starting tailback, ahead of Vick Ballard. Bradshaw recently signed with the Colts and enters mini camp as a player to keep an eye on.

The New York Giants re-signed restricted free agent WR Victor Cruz to a one-year, $2.879 million contract. Coach Tom Coughlin expressed frustration Tuesday with unsigned RFA Victor Cruz’s absence from the entire offseason program. While fans may be breathing a sense of relief, Victor Cruz could still hold out of training camp despite signing his new deal in hopes of getting a long-term contract.

Buffalo Bills have signed first-round pick QB E.J. Manuel to a five-year contract. Fantasy Factor: Getting a deal done early is a bigger deal than some may think. The Bill’s newest franchise quarterback is extremely raw and will need as much time as possible to prepare for the upcoming season. Manuel has very little fantasy value at this point, but that may all change depending on how he performs throughout the next two months.

 

The Indianapolis Star confirms the Colts are still negotiating with free agent Ahmad Bradshaw. Contract talks were rumored to be at a “stalemate”, but both sides are working to get a deal done. Fantasy Factor: Most fantasy owners have already written Bradshaw off with a history of injuries, but if the Colts can ease him along into a reserve role they will definitely come out ahead. Ahmad Bradshaw has excellent pass blocking skills, and would join the team as an easy fit on third down. His contributions may not shake up the depth chart right away, but when healthy he is an excellent NFL running back. The Colts are smart to take a chance on this 27-year old experienced RB. There is little question that Donald Brown or Delone Carter would be released if the Colts sign free agent Bradshaw.

According to Kendall Wright, there’s “nothing” left over from the Tennessee Titans’ 2012 playbook. Fantasy Factor: Fans of the Titans will be ecstatic over this sort of news, as the offense sputtered throughout most of the season. Still, a complete overhaul can take time to implement, and may be a coaching gamble if they try to do too much. NFL athletes aren’t exactly rocket scientists, getting them to re-learn an entirely new playbook really depends on the personnel. I’m sure the verbiage of the playbook is the same, but the play designs are entirely new. Hard to say how this will affect offensive players at this point into the season. We will better know at the start of training camp.

On a side note: Titans WRs coach Shawn Jefferson is questioning second-round WR Justin Hunter’s toughness as he sits out of OTAs with a hamstring injury.

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher says Isaiah Pead’s one-game suspension will have no bearing on the teams running back competition. Fantasy Factor: Fantasy owners are not reading between the lines. There has been an obvious effort to build the offense around Sam Bradford and the passing game. The team traded up to acquire Tavon Austin, have very high hopes in Brian Quick, and went out to solidify the Tight End position with Jared Cook. Steven Jackson was a beast, and made the Rams running game appear better than it really was; expectations in finding a 1000 yard rusher in this offense maybe be harder than it sounds. At this point in time, we see a rotation situation at running back, one that calls upon RB’s based on their build or talent. There is no all-around back on the team entering training camp.

 ESPN Boston compares New England Patriots second-round wide receiver Aaron Dobson to Miles Austin in terms of size and skill. Fantasy Factor: There are a lot of reasons why fantasy owners should fall in love with Dobson’s upside and potential, yet just as many reasons to figure he will burn your fantasy team this season. Check out why in our 2013 Fantasy Forecast on Aaron Dobson 

 The Florida Times Union reports a deal “isn’t imminent” between the Jacksonville Jaguars and free agent Beanie Wells. Fantasy Factor: Adding Beanie Wells at this point in the season is a nice upgrade for the team moving forward. At 6’2″ 227 lbs, it’s safe to say the team hopes to keep their star RB Jones-Drew fresh down the stretch, allowing the bigger Wells to handle their short yardage situations. Panic should hit the fantasy football world if Beanie does sign, as the loss of goal-line carries will be all that people will concern themselves with. Beanie Wells has nowhere near the kind of elusiveness and quickness that Jones-Drew possesses, and despite the added size Wells brings to the team, it’s hard to pull a player like Jones-Drew for a guy no team has wanted up until this point.

 The Washington Times reports Robert Griffin III (ACL, LCL surgery) was limping “slightly but noticeably” after Thursday’s practice. Fantasy Factor: There is still plenty of time for RG3 to get in shape for the upcoming NFL season, although it should be noted that caution needs to be issued to all fantasy owners in re-draft leagues. Robert Griffin III is one hell of a quarterback, but another serious blow to his knees could not only shorten his season, but could jeopardize his career. Just because Adrian Peterson was able to return into A-one shape, does not mean RG3 will bounce back the same way.

 Michael Vick wants coach Chip Kelly to name a starting quarterback before training camp. Vick also admitted he “never paid attention” in fumbling drills, and that Chip Kelly is the first coach to teach him how to properly carry the ball. “As crazy as it may sound, I never carried the football correctly,” Vick said. “And that’s partly my fault because my coaches always got everybody in a circle and did a four-points-of-pressure drill, and I never paid attention, thought I was doing it right. Now I know how to hold it. It feels comfortable, it’s tight”  Vick said. Fantasy Factor: All the quotes and sound bites from Eagles camp have been from the 33 year old Mike Vick, who seems to continue to talk himself out of the job to the public. We have heard very little from Nick Foles personally, but rumors are that all the quarterbacks in the Philadelphia Eagles OTA’s have shown excellent ability to execute throws and adapt to the newly installed (somewhat secretive) offense. Chip Kelly doesn’t answer to anyone, and the longer Mike Vick demands to know what the depth chart looks like, the more Chip is going to make him sweat. You have to admire Nick Foles in this situation slightly, he is just going about his business and doing everything he can to get into the coaches good books by not making waves and learning the offense.

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