Bengals Rumors

Patriots Stripped Of Third-Round Pick By NFL

The NFL has rendered its verdict on the Patriots’ filming of a Bengals-Browns game late last year. The results aren’t pretty for the Pats – they’ll be fined $1.1MM and stripped of a 2021 third-round pick, according to Mike Reiss and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Furthermore, Pats TV crews will be barred from filming games during the upcoming season. 

[RELATED: Patriots To Sign Cam Newton]

The Pats’ crew set up shop in the press box and filmed the Bengals’ sideline during their Week 14 game. A Bengals staffer took notice, turned the camera on the Pats’ crew, and turned over an eight-minute tape to the league office.

The Patriots said they were filming an episode of their online series “Do Your Job” and simply gathering b-roll for the next episode. The Patriots also acknowledged that they should have done a better job advising the crew of league protocol and communicating with the Bengals beforehand. Still, teams are prohibited from shooting video of coaches on the sideline and the NFL took the Patriots’ “Spygate” history into consideration.

Five Franchise Tagged Players Have Yet To Sign Tenders

Teams have until July 15th to hammer out long-term deals with franchise tagged players. As of this writing, there are five players who have not signed their one-year tenders: Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, Broncos safety Justin Simmons, Buccaneers edge rusher Shaquil Barrett, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, and Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue

[RELATED: Dak Prescott Still Wants Four-Year Deal; Cowboys Want Five-Year Deal]

The franchise tag is a sore spot for players, because it prohibits them from realizing their true value on the open market. Sometimes, players begrudgingly sign on the dotted line after skipping out on a portion of offseason activities. There have also been some notable holdouts to extend into the regular season – Le’Veon Bell, for example.

You can put Green in the former camp. The Bengals superstar wants long-term security from the only team he’s ever known, but he says he’ll sign the one-year tender if they can’t come to terms.

In the past, Simmons has indicated that he won’t skip Broncos activities, but Mike Klis of 9News speculates that agent Todd France could talk him into playing some hardball. Offers have been exchanged between the two sides, but, for now, the safety is looking at a one-year, $12.7MM proposition.

Jones – currently in line for a $16.1MM deal – has expressed frustration with the slow pace of negotiations with the Chiefs. The Chiefs, meanwhile, already have a $20MM defensive lineman in Frank Clark. Barrett, who said he’d be a good sport about signing the tender, says he’s expecting to have some movement by tomorrow, though it’s not clear if that means receiving an extension offer or putting pen to paper.

Ngakoue, of course, is prepared to go to war with the Jaguars. The two sides have been locked in a heated stalemate for a long time and the Jags say they won’t cave to the defensive end’s trade demand.

Bengals, A.J. Green Discussing Extension

The Bengals have discussed an extension with A.J. Green, according to ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano. Per the terms of the franchise tag, the two sides have until July 15 to hammer out a deal. If they can’t come to terms, the wide receiver will play out 2020 on a one-year, $17.971MM deal.

[RELATED: It’s A Make-Or-Break Year For Bengals WR John Ross]

Green’s situation is complicated to say the least. For years, he’s been the face of the franchise, and he’s performed as one of the league’s very best receivers across multiple seasons. After Green missed all of last year, it might be tough for the two sides to come to terms. If they can’t get something done over the next few weeks, Graziano wonders aloud if Green could be traded later this summer. It would be a shock to see the Bengals part with Green, but we’ve seen similar situations play out before in the NFL.

Everything’s been positive with A.J.,” head coach Zac Taylor said recently when asked about Green’s status. “He’s fully healthy and is working hard. He’s been in Atlanta. It’s all been positive in that regard.”

That’s good news for the here and now, but Green wants the security of a long-term deal. The 31-year-old (32 in July) won’t hold out, but he won’t be happy without a new pact either.

I have no problem with the franchise (tag). I don’t like it, but I’m not a guy that’s going to sit out the whole year,Green said in December. “But at the end of the day, that shows me they’re not committed to me. That’s fine. They have a business they have to run. As the player I have my own business, so if you do that I have to protect myself.”

If you’re not committed to me long-term, I understand. There are no hard feelings. You have a business to run. All great businesses face difficult decisions. I understand that. For me, I have to make a big decision as well.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Former Jets QB Christian Hackenberg Switches To Baseball

In 2016, scouts were enamored with Christian Hackenberg‘s size and arm strength. The Jets’ second-round pick didn’t pan out in the NFL, so he says he’s moving on to baseball as a pitcher (Twitter link via John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia).

[RELATED: Jamal Adams Frustrated With Jets]

I just want to compete, man,” Hackenberg said. “I’ve kind of had my trials and tribulations with the NFL, and had success and had that roller-coaster ride. At the end of the day, I’m sitting here at 25…I feel like I’ve got a lot left in the tank.”

Hackenberg left Penn State as their all-time leader in passing yards (8,457) and touchdowns (48) in just three years on campus. He completed just 53.5% of his throws in his final season, but that didn’t deter Jets GM Mike Maccagnan, who reached for him at No. 51 overall.

Hackenberg never saw the field in his two seasons with the Jets, who traded him to the Raiders. The QB lasted less than a month with the Raiders; ditto for his time with the Eagles, which amounted to a cup of coffee. His last NFL stop was a practice squad run with the Bengals, who dropped him in November of 2018. Hackenberg’s career ended without attempting a live action throw.

Hackenberg, a relief pitcher in high school, throws a 90-mph fastball, according to agent Noel LaMontagne (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com). In a limited sample size, Hackenberg struggled with accuracy on the diamond, just as he did on the gridiron. Pitching in relief, the 6’4″ athlete posted a 7.36 ERA with 40 walks and five HBPs in 25 2/3 innings.

Hackenberg served as the starting quarterback of the AAF’s Memphis Express last year, up until the league dissolved.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Make-Or-Break Year: Bengals WR John Ross

In 2017, the Bengals had the No. 9 overall pick and two clear top needs. First, there was the defensive end position, where they were hoping to upgrade from Michael Johnson after another so-so season. They were also out to find a young and athletic wide receiver to help take the pressure off of A.J. Green. John Ross, who wowed scouts with a 4.22-second 40-yard-dash time, fit the bill at WR, though many figured the Bengals would trade down to take him.

[RELATED: Bengals Rejected Trades For William Jackson III]

Instead, they stood pat and used their top pick to take Ross. At the time, many said that it was a reach – the Washington product’s speed was undeniably impressive, but his medical history was extensive. In 2015, he tore his ACL and missed the entire season. And, after his impressive combine showing, he underwent labrum surgery. In short, evaluators loved him, but most viewed him as a one-contract player rather than a long-term investment.

So far, Ross hasn’t done much to prove the critics wrong. In three pro seasons, Ross has played a grand total of 24 games. At times, when healthy and on the field, he’s dazzled. Ross looked like a monster in the making after is Week 1 performance against the Seahawks last year, going off for seven catches, 158 yards, and two scores. In Week 2 against the 49ers, he topped 100 yards once again, and he did it with just four receptions. After that, Ross missed all of October and November due to injury and did not post another 100-yard game.

As expected, the Bengals declined Ross’ fifth-year option in May, turning down a one-year, $15.68MM add-on that would have guaranteed his 2021 season for injury. Even more concerning for Ross’ Cincinnati future, the club used the first pick of the second round to select Tee Higgins, who is fresh off of a ~1,200-yard season at Clemson. The Bengals haven’t quite written Ross off, but they’re not planning around him either.

With one year left on Ross’ original rookie contract, the story on him is roughly the same as it was three years ago – Ross has the speed and skills to dominate the league, but he has not been able to stay healthy and put it all on display. Ross can cash in as a free agent (with the Bengals or one of the league’s other 31 teams) if he turns in a full and productive season, but he’ll also have to maintain his place in the pecking order. If the majority of Joe Burrow‘s targets go to Green, Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, Ross won’t have much of an opportunity to showcase himself.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Rejected Trades For William Jackson III

With one year left on his contract, Bengals cornerback William Jackson III is hoping to take off his fantastic blazer and stay a while. The University of Houston product tells Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle that he wants to sign a multi-year extension with the only NFL team he’s ever known.

[RELATED: Bengals’ Jessie Bates Hires New Agent]

They picked up my fifth-year option, so that was a blessing,” said Jackson. “I just go out there and have fun and let everything play out. I love it in Cincinnati. I’m comfortable. They’ve got a great coaching staff and great teammates around me. I would love to come back. Right now, I’m just focused and ready to get the season started. One thing you can control is when people aren’t watching is what you do. I come in, put the work in and it will pay off on Sundays.”

It’s not clear whether the two sides have gotten deep into talks, but they’ve probably been delayed due to the pandemic. It does sound like the Bengals intend to keep him, however. Last year, they picked up the former first-rounder’s fifth-year option for 2020, worth $9.6MM. And, before October’s trade deadline, the Bengals received and rejected trade inquiries on Jackson from other clubs.

The lightning-fast corner was slowed by a shoulder injury towards the end of the year and placed on injured reserve. The recovery was painful, but Jackson says he’s now “fully healthy and ready to go” as he enters his walk year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals’ Jessie Bates Hires New Agent

Bengals free safety Jessie Bates III has changed representation and hired David Mulugheta of Athletes First, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Mulugheta counts Earl Thomas, Landon Collins, and other elite safeties among his clients. Bates, 23, could be in line for a big payday of his own someday. 

[RELATED: No. 1 Pick Joe Burrow Has Yet To Sign Bengals Deal]

The former second-round pick has two years left on his inexpensive rookie deal, but he’s already looking ahead to his next contract. Bates has started in every possible game over the past two seasons, racking up 211 tackles and six interceptions along the way. After celebrating his 23rd birthday in February, he could be poised for another major leap forward in 2020.

For now, Bates is set to earn $930 in base salary this year and slightly more in 2021 with cap hits of $1.3MM and $1.6MM, respectively. That’s an exceptional bargain for a high level free safety who is barely above the legal drinking age. The Bengals haven’t engaged in extension talks just yet, but it’ll be at the top of their agenda next spring.

In the interest of equal time: the advanced metrics weren’t all that high on Bates last year. But, as a rookie in 2018, he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 11 ranked safety in the NFL.

In other Bengals news, the club is hoping to extend running back Joe Mixon. Mixon is coming off back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons and entering the final year of his rookie deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No. 1 Pick Joe Burrow Has Yet To Sign Bengals Deal

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has yet to put pen to paper on his rookie contract. In an interview on the Pardon My Take podcast, the No. 1 overall pick indicated that the deal might not be inked anytime soon.

[RELATED: Panthers Sign Derrick Brown]

We’re just waiting to see what happens over the next three months because we really don’t know,” Burrow said (via ESPN.com’s Ben Baby).

Most of this year’s 250+ rookies have yet to sign their deals, so Burrow’s situation is not unique. However, it could be indicative of a much larger issue. Some executives and agents have wondered whether it’ll take longer for top draft picks to sign this year, since teams are facing potentially enormous revenue losses.

Those league officials believe that the deals will be completed, eventually, but cash flow could be a concern for clubs. A season without fans would mean zero gate attendance revenue, a shortened season would mean significantly less dollars coming in, and a cancelled season would be disastrous, from a financial standpoint. With that in mind, teams may be looking to hold on to the allocated signing bonus money a little bit longer.

In the case of Burrow, the LSU product is due a ~$24MM bonus. After that, the bonus figures decrease pick-by-pick, in accordance with each player’s slot. New Redskins edge rusher Chase Young (No. 2 overall) is set to collect a $22.7MM bonus and Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah (N0. 3) is in line for $21.9MM. The figure decreases the further you move down the board, though every player from Nos. 1-11 is ticketed for an eight-figure lump sum bonus.

Meanwhile, like all of us, Burrow is eager for football – and life in general – to resume normalcy:

Instead of talking, we can get back on the field. Hopefully soon.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.