Latest On DeAndre Baker, Quinton Dunbar

A cover-up attempt has surfaced in the DeAndre BakerQuinton Dunbar saga. A witness to the alleged armed robbery in May worked with Baker, along with Dunbar’s attorney, in an effort to pay off other witnesses and clear the cornerbacks of wrongdoing, according to a Broward County (Fla.) search warrant obtained by Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.

The witness named in the warrant, Dominic Johnson, allegedly said in an Instagram direct message he “made them (witnesses) that said they got robbed come in and say them Boys ain’t have nothing to Do with it (sic).”

Video evidence of Baker, Johnson and four other witnesses’ involvement in the payoff — held at the office of Dunbar’s attorney, Michael Grieco — also exists, Leonard adds. The four victims were allegedly paid $55K total to recant their sworn statements that Baker and Dunbar took part in an armed robbery.

Baker, 22, and Dunbar, 27, remain under investigation for the alleged robbery. This certainly complicates matters for the Giants and Seahawks defenders. Dunbar had resumed offseason work with the Seahawks before they wrapped up their virtual slate, while the Giants told Baker to stay away from the team for the time being.

In May, authorities said Baker and Dunbar teamed up to rob partiers at gunpoint. The police report out of Miramar, Fla., claims that Baker had the weapon while Dunbar did the looting. Some witnesses said that Baker also directed a third man to shoot someone (ultimately, no one at the scene was shot).

The warrant indicates Baker asked Johnson how much cash he should bring for the payoff, Leonard reports. The alleged payoff occurred May 15, two days after the alleged robbery and a day before Baker surrendered to police. Another message sent from Johnson’s Instagram account indicates he convinced the other four witnesses to sign papers recanting their statements that originally led to Baker and Dunbar’s arrests, according to the warrant.

Baker has pleaded not guilty to eight felony charges; Dunbar pleaded not guilty to four. Dunbar has hired a second attorney, though Grieco is still working on the case as well.

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Cardinals Owner Michael Bidwill Tests Positive For COVID-19

Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced.

Bidwill is the first of the NFL owners known to have contracted the coronavirus. He was hospitalized recently. However, the 55-year-old owner’s symptoms have subsided, according to the team. Bidwill is expected to be released from the hospital this weekend.

The team believes a weeks-long stay on the East Coast resulted in Bidwill contracting the virus. Bidwill, who is in a Rhode Island hospital (per Katherine Fitzgerald of the Arizona Republic), has not had any contact with Cardinals coaches or players since the virtual offseason began.

Bidwill joins Sean Payton, Von Miller and Ezekiel Elliott as high-profile NFL figures who have contracted COVID-19. As of mid-June, around 10 teams had seen a positive coronavirus case. Given the spikes occurring in most states since then, that number may well be higher as we enter mid-July. Teams remain on track to report to training camp July 28, though several key issues remain unresolved.

Joining the family-owned organization in 1996, Bidwill has run the Cardinals since 2007. His father, Bill Bidwill, died in October 2019.

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Pac-12 To Play Conference-Only Schedule

College football continues to grapple with the coronavirus. A day after the Big Ten became the first Power 5 conference to announce it will only play conference games, the Pac-12 revealed it will also limit its fall sports to conference-only slates.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott recently indicated moving the football season to the spring was a scenario he has discussed with the other commissioners of the Power 5 conferences. For now, the Pac-12 will settle on a format that removes nonconference games from its football season.

The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” Scott said. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”

It would seem the other Power 5 leagues — the ACC, Big 12 and SEC — will need to join the Big Ten and Pac-12 in eliminating nonconference contests from their respective schedules. For the Pac-12, Friday’s decision will delay the start to its fall sports calendar. Mandatory football workouts will be moved back.

The NFL has not announced a change to its July 28 training camp start dates. But with the virus continuing to spread at a record pace in the country, and key issues between the league and the NFLPA unresolved less than two weeks before rookies would report, it is safe to say a delay to players’ report dates is in play.

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Steelers’ Bud Dupree Files Grievance

Less than an hour after news emerged of Shaquil Barrett‘s grievance to be tagged as a defensive end, Bud Dupree followed suit. The Steelers’ franchise-tagged linebacker file a grievance to be tagged as a D-end, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Dupree signed his tender earlier this offseason. He stands to make $15.8MM on the linebacker tag. This year’s defensive end tag is worth $17.8MM.

Regarding a long-term deal, Dupree and the Steelers are not close on numbers, per Rapoport. While Dupree did not submit a stunning breakout season in 2019, he did register a career-high 11.5 sacks — 5.5 more than the former first-round pick’s previous single-season best. It would make sense if the Steelers sought a rental season to see if the inconsistent pass rusher can replicate his 2019 performance.

The three 3-4 outside linebackers to be tagged this year — Barrett, Dupree and Matt Judon — have either filed grievances or saw a preemptive pay raise. The Ravens gave Judon a $1MM raise from the linebacker tag, agreeing to pay him $16.8MM on his tag this season. It doesn’t hurt for Dupree to push for a similar arrangement, even if the sixth-year defender does not win a grievance.

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Eagles Fine DeSean Jackson

The Eagles announced discipline for DeSean Jackson on Friday. The team will fine the veteran wide receiver for his recent anti-Semitic comments.

Days after a report surfaced the Eagles were considering releasing Jackson, he remains on Philadelphia’s roster. The team will move forward with its 33-year-old wideout, who would be an expensive cut.

It would cost the Eagles $12MM-plus in dead money to release Jackson, and no cap savings would emerge from such a move. Jackson has apologized for the comments and engaged in extensive discussions with Eagles brass. This will be the deep threat’s second season back with the team. The Eagles reacquired him from the Buccaneers last March.

Jackson has also drawn criticism in the past for sharing controversial material. The Eagles have now released two statements regarding the receiver’s conduct this week. This one indicated Jackson would have to “commit to supporting his words with actions” in order to remain on the team. So, Jackson’s image-repair effort will continue.

Jackson missed most of last season, suffering an injury in September and undergoing surgery after a late-season aggravation.

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Shaquil Barrett To Sign Franchise Tender, File Grievance

Five days away from the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions, Shaquil Barrett notified the Buccaneers he plans to sign his tender, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

This news comes with a catch, however. The Pro Bowl pass rusher will file a grievance to be tagged as a defensive end rather than a linebacker, Schefter adds. The defensive end tag comes in at $17.8MM; the linebacker price is $15.8MM. The Buccaneers use a 3-4 scheme that aligns Barrett at outside linebacker.

Regarding the chances of Barrett landing a long-term deal with the Bucs by the Wednesday deadline, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes the sides are not close on terms (Twitter link). The Bucs are still pursing a Barrett extension, however, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. This will be a busy stretch for much of the league, ahead of the July 15 deadline. Fifteen teams used their franchise or transition tags; none of those have reached extension agreements.

Considering Barrett emerged from four-year Broncos role player to the NFL’s leading sacker, in a season in which he smashed Warren Sapp‘s 20-year-old Bucs single-season record, the gap in value makes sense. Prior to Barrett’s 19.5 sacks last season, his previous single-season high was 5.5.

Barrett, 27, signing his tender ties him to a Bucs team that has received a bit more hype this offseason. In addition to Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady addition, the team brought back Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh after tagging Barrett. A year after he signed for just $4MM, Barrett will be locked into at least a $15.8MM salary for 2020.

Grievances or grievance threats are common for pass rushers, with the tag system not categorizing edge defenders equally. Players who play as 3-4 outside linebackers are grouped with off-ball ‘backers, dragging the tender price down, while defensive ends reside in their own category.

It is possible the Bucs could reach a compromise with their breakout edge presence. The Texans and Ravens each agreed to meet in the middle, settling on numbers in between the linebacker and D-end tags with Jadeveon Clowney and Matt Judon, respectively. The Ravens agreed to pay Judon $16.8MM this season.

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Dolphins Backing Off Logan Ryan Pursuit?

Despite making major investments at cornerback this offseason — in signing Byron Jones and drafting Noah Igbinoghene in the first round — the Dolphins were linked to Logan Ryan at multiple junctures this offseason.

The team may have backed off in this pursuit. The Dolphins are not aggressively pursuing the free agent cornerback, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Rumors about Ryan landing with the Dolphins (and former Patriots assistant Brian Flores) circulated in March and May, but nearly four months into free agency, the former Patriots and Titans corner remains a free agent. The seven-year veteran’s price demand almost certainly has contributed to this. Ryan was linked to wanting $10MM per year earlier this offseason. The Jets have been the team most closely connected to Ryan this offseason.

Additionally, the Dolphins do not appear to be angling to add Larry Warford to their offensive line, Jackson adds. The Dolphins signed Ereck Flowers to be one of their starting guards and drafted Robert Hunt in Round 2. Hunt has been linked to lining up at guard or right tackle, however, giving the team a possible need at guard. Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders assessed the 2019 Dolphins’ offensive line as the league’s worst.

Warford was connected to the Bears and Texans shortly after his Saints release, but the former bowed out of the bidding early. The Pro Bowl guard, as of June, was seeking a contract north of $7MM per year.

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Chiefs To Waive QB Shea Patterson

Shortly after the Chiefs brought back Matt Moore, they are moving on from Shea Patterson. The defending Super Bowl champions will waive the rookie UDFA quarterback, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

Kansas City signed the former Michigan Wolverines starter shortly after the draft, doing so following their addition of XFL passer Jordan Ta’amu. The Chiefs will drop from five quarterbacks to four with this move, going forward with Chad Henne, Moore and Ta’amu behind Patrick Mahomes.

Patterson loomed as a possible early-entry candidate ahead of the 2019 draft and was rumored as a later-round pick this year. Neither scenario transpired for the former Big Ten standout. Patterson combined for 45 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions over the past two seasons.

With the COVID-19 pandemic nixing teams’ onsite offseason work, rookies are set for uphill battles going into training camps. Quarterbacks’ learning curves being what they are, the UDFA passers teams signed will be in for more hurdles than normal once training camps start — if they are to begin on time.

The Chiefs will go with one of the most experienced backup quarterback groups in recent memory. Moore and Henne came into the league in 2007 and ’08, respectively. Ta’amu profiles as a practice squad candidate.

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Titans Unsure About Extensions For Jonnu Smith, Others

Historically, the Titans have a point to lock up key players before they can leave via free agency. Taylor Lewan and Kevin Byard both landed extensions well in advance, but the ongoing uncertainty may leave players like tight end Jonnu Smith in limbo, GM Jon Robinson says. 

I’m a big analogy guy,” Robinson told Paul Kuharsky. “It’s no different than if I was if I was working for Pepsi or Coke, and I knew that we weren’t going to have as many sales. …You wouldn’t go out and buy a new house.

I don’t know what that’s going to look like. It’s something that we will certainly talk about. You know, we’ve talked to the players and the reps. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now with everything, and I would say certainly with the salary cap too, because we’ve got to be mindful. What you don’t want to do is do something and then you’ve got to undo it or try to unpack it a year, two years from now, given the uncertainty of the salary cap.”

Smith isn’t the only notable player entering his walk year. Linebacker Jayon Brown and nose tackle DaQuan Jones also have one season to go on their respective deals, but they could be left to wait as the Titans try to get a grip on their future finances. The league is facing a potential $4 billion loss in revenue, which would shrink the cap by about 35%. The NFL has pitched the idea of putting a portion of player salaries into escrow to avoid a dramatic drop, but the union is pushing back.

Smith was mostly been as a blocker in his early years, but he flashed his hands last year. The 24-year-old (25 in August) caught 35 passes for 439 yards and three scores, giving the Titans a glimpse of what could come. The former third-round pick is slated to count for just $933K this year and he’s in line for a pay bump in 2021.

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Chiefs To Re-Sign Matt Moore

Matt Moore has re-signed with the Chiefs, as Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports tweets. Financial terms are not yet known, but the quarterback will return on a one-year deal to serve as Patrick Mahomes‘ backup.

[RELATED: Latest On Patrick Mahomes’ Record Extension]

It’s safe to assume that Moore’s deal will come at a fraction of Mahomes’ brand new ten-year extension that could come out to more than $500MM. That’s probably alright by Moore, who captured a Super Bowl ring last year as the Chiefs’ QB2.

Moore was called into action in October, when Mahomes suffered a knee injury against the Broncos. At the time, it seemed like Mahomes’ entire season was in jeopardy. Instead, Mahomes exceeded all expectations for his recovery, leaving Moore with just two starts. Moore came out of those games with a split win/loss record, beating the Vikings 26-23 in Week 9. In total, he suited up six times and completed 59 of 91 throws with four touchdowns against zero interceptions.

The Chiefs initially signed Moore to replace Chad Henne on the depth chart. Henne inked a new deal with KC earlier this year, but the return of Moore could force him out. Jordan Ta’amu and Shea Patterson are also on the offseason roster – ultimately, there will be room for no more than two passers behind Mahomes.

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