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Sports Data APIs for Individuals!
Reports have surfaced that the Carolina Panthers are eyeing former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton for their head-coaching job in 2023. The Saints still hold Payton's rights, though, so the Panthers would have to strike a deal with the Saints regarding potential compensation before Carolina could talk to him. The Saints could also flat out refuse to release Payton's rights for a division rival. "We would not talk to or consider a coach who's under contract with another team," the Panthers said. At this year's NFL draft, owner David Tepper gave his full support for current head coach Matt Rhule, but that could quickly change if the team struggles again in 2022, which is entirely possible given their quarterback situation. Payton resigned after last season following a 15-year run with the Saints.
Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (back) hasn't been cleared to practice at OTAs. Smith has a long history of back and neck issues, so the organization is going to be careful with him. In fact, Smith hasn't played a full season since 2015, so the Cowboys certainly don't want to push the 31-year-old too hard. The Cowboys drafted Matt Waletzko in the fifth round as insurance for Smith. Although, the Cowboys would much rather have the eight-time Pro Bowl tackle healthy. It sounds like the plan is to limit Smith as much as possible before training camp.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (calf) is expected to miss all of OTAs. Head coach Kyle Shanahan mentioned that Kittle will likely be shut down until the beginning of training camp. Last season, Kittle missed three weeks with a calf strain and never fully recovered. The 49ers want their three-time Pro Bowl tight end back to 100 percent before the beginning of next season. They also signed Tyler Kroft to add some depth at tight end, but don't expect him to take away targets from Kittle.
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan (knee) was limited during OTA workouts. Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said in March that Tonyan was ahead of schedule. He was only able to play in eight games last season due to a torn ACL. The 28-year-old has a chance at being cleared for the beginning of training camp. Tonyan was reliable during the 2020 campaign, so hopefully he can return to form.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota had his last start on October 13, 2019. He was with the Titans then. But after spending a few seasons with the Raiders, the 28-year-old will get another chance to prove his worth as the expected starter for the Falcons, filling in for longtime signal-caller Matt Ryan, who is now a Colt. Despite Mariota's excitement, he made it known he's also willing to mentor rookie Desmond Ridder, who was selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Nonetheless, with Atlanta in the midst of a rebuild, it's no secret the team is lacking on the offensive end. As a result, Mariota may not find himself as the primary option under center if he begins to struggle, making it possible for Ridder to get some reps during the 2022-23 campaign.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb has high expectations heading into the season. With Amari Cooper now in Cleveland, Lamb is clearly the top wideout on the depth chart. You won't hear Jerry Jones complain about this. In fact, the owner believes having Lamb as the No. 1 target for Dak Prescott is an "upgrade" over Cooper. Lamb finished last year by hauling in 79 catches for 1,102 yards and six touchdowns. It's clear the 23-year-old is ready to embrace his role. He'll also draw plenty of interest from fantasy managers, likely getting drafted in most leagues somewhere in the second or third round. Yet, Lamb has the capability to return first-round value in any format.
The Cleveland Browns and franchise-tagged tight end David Njoku agreed in principle on a four-year, $56.75 million contract extension on Friday, according to sources. He'll receive $28 million guaranteed at signing that averages $14.1875 million per year, making him the fifth-highest paid tight end in the league. It seems like a pretty hefty contract for a tight end that had only 36 catches for 475 yards and four touchdowns on 53 targets in 16 games (11 starts) in 2021, but Njoku should have a much bigger pass-catching role with Austin Hooper no longer in town. Njoku's best season came in 2018, when he had 56 receptions for 639 yards and four scores. He should have a higher ceiling with quarterback Deshaun Watson under center as well.
The Los Angeles Chargers signed first-round offensive guard Zion Johnson to his four-year rookie deal on Friday. The Chargers took Johnson with the No. 17 overall pick in this year's draft out of Boston College. The 22-year-old was considered to be one of the best offensive guards in this year's class, and he'll help protect rising young quarterback Justin Herbert in 2022 and beyond. Johnson started 49 of 58 college games and earned conference recognition in his final four years. He was a first-team All-America selection and was named to the first team in the Atlantic Conference at Boston College last year.
Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a positive workout with the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday, but no signing was imminent as of late Thursday night, according to sources. The Raiders could be searching for another QB as the backup to Derek Carr, despite trading for Jarrett Stidham and signing Nick Mullens this offseason. Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016, the same year he started protesting racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem. Raiders offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi was a San Francisco 49ers assistant from 2013 to 2016, so there is a link to Kaepernick on Las Vegas' coaching staff.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was feeding the ball to many different receivers during offseason practices this week, said the team's offense will feature everybody this year. "That's what you're going to see with this offense this year," Mahomes said. "It's going to be everybody. It's not all going to be one guy. Obviously Travis Kelce is still going to get a lot of completions, a lot of yards but the whole receiving room is going to have big days and that can be something we use to our advantage." In his four years as a starter, Mahomes went to either Kelce or Tyreek Hill for 45% of his completions and 50% of his yards and touchdowns. With Hill now in Miami, receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and rookies Skyy Moore and Justyn Ross will need to step up.
Jacksonville Jaguars second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been happy with new wide receiver Christian Kirk so far this offseason. "He's great. Just from a football IQ sense, I think he's really quarterback friendly," Lawrence said. The Jaguars signed Kirk to a four-year, $72 million deal with $37 million guaranteed in March, and he'll be asked to lead a receiver room that had just one wideout with more than 620 receiving yards in 2021. Jacksonville's receivers caught just nine touchdowns last year, with almost half coming from Marvin Jones Jr. Lawrence struggled to make big plays consistently last year, but the addition of Kirk should help in that regard. Kirk had a career year with the Arizona Cardinals, catching 77 passes for 982 yards and five TDs, but his overall success will depend on how much Lawrence improves in Year 2.
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