NFL Rumors, News 2014: Redskins, Eagles, Patriots, Rams, Browns, Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs, Colts, Bengals

The rumors and news regarding the NFL keep flying, principally regarding potential quarterbacks for the St. Louis Rams to acquire.

The Rams lost starter Sam Bradford for the season to injury.

Check out the latest buzz below.

Redskins to Trade QB Cousins?

A multitude of recent reports indicate that Kirk Cousins, the backup quarterback to Robert Griffin III, could be traded before the season starts.

Rumors have been rampant that Cousins has performed better in training camp and preseason, earning the starter’s job in the minds of some teammates.

CSN Washington notes that the St. Louis Rams recently lost Sam Bradford for the season to injury and Cousins could be their top target.

“Cousins could be attractive to the Rams for a number of reasons. He is 26, has flashed some ability since the Redskins drafted him in 2012, and is under contract at minimum salaries through 2016. Despite the preseason struggles of Robert Griffin III, he probably does not have a long-term future in Washington. The Rams could bring him in, get him up to speed on the offense, start him when he’s ready (they have a Week 4 bye, perfect for making the transition) and then give him a year-plus trial as their QB,” blogger Rich Tandler said.

“Add in the fact that the Redskins and Rams have done quarterback trade business before when Washington shipped a treasure trove of draft picks to St. Louis for the rights to draft Griffin and you have plenty of speculation that a deal could get done.”

Former Redskins player and current ESPN 980 analyst Chris Cooley believes Cousins in on the trading block.

“We signed Colt McCoy for one reason: To be the backup quarterback for the Washington Redskins for an extended period of time behind Robert Griffin III,” Cooley reported. 

“It means Cousins is not going to be here. It doesn’t mean Cousins doesn’t want to be here; it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be the starter here. It just means that with Robert Griffin III here, it’s not going to play out in favor of Kirk Cousins. Now, when they signed McCoy, they were definitely entertaining trading Kirk Cousins, and up until the draft, it was a viable option that they would trade Kirk Cousins; they just didn’t get the offer that they wanted.”

Patriots Looking to Trade Mallett

Another backup quarterback subject to trade rumors is Ryan Mallett of the New England Patriots.

The Patriots intend to hold him out of the final preseason game as opportunities around the league–particularly the Rams–become available, a source told NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

If he’s not traded, Tom Curran of CSN New England believes Mallett will be cut before the end of the preseason.

Sanchez Likely Won’t be Traded

Another backup quarterback rumored to have garnered interest from the Rams is Mark Sanchez of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rapoport reported that a source informed him the Rams have interest in Sanchez, but that the trade offer would have to be very good.

The Rams did have a chance to sign Sanchez during the offseason but signed Shaun Hill instead. If the Rams don’t acquire another quarterback, then Hill will be the starter.

Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report says that the Eagles “would be crazy” to trade Sanchez.

“While it might be tempting to send a quarterback who isn’t supposed to play and is only signed to a one-year contract to anyone willing to give up draft picks, the Eagles have to be stubborn here. While Nick Foles’ 2013 season was one of the best in the history of the game, it was only one year from a guy who was passed on 87 times in the 2012 draft for a reason,” he said.

” Philly has every reason to believe what Foles did last season—NFL record touchdown-to-interception ratio of 27-to-2, league-high 9.1 yards per pass attempt and the third-highest passer rating ever (119.2)—wasn’t a fluke. However, nobody can guarantee he’ll be close to as strong with tape out there and a bullseye on his back in 2014. In this league, in this era, you can’t win without strong play at the quarterback position. While Foles is likely going to be the man throughout this season regardless of how much his numbers drop off, quarterback insurance is a special thing to have nowadays.”

Richie Incognito Cleared to Return to Field

Offensive lineman Richie Incognito, the former Miami Dolphins player suspended for a pattern of bullying his teammates, has been cleared by the NFL to return to the field.

The league confirmed Tuesday that he’s been cleared to play and is free to sign with any team, reported the New York Times.

“Unsurprisingly, with the start of the regular season less than 10 days away and holes in rosters to fill, some coaches are taking a look at him,” it reported.

“N.F.L. teams are rarely deterred by off-the-field transgressions of any sort, including Michael Vick’s felony conviction for running a dogfighting ring, as well as numerous cases of drunken driving, domestic abuse and the carrying of loaded weapons by players. Now Incognito is the most curious commodity of the preseason: a 6-foot-3, 320-pound offensive lineman whose skills are coveted regardless of his past behavior. He met with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday and may meet other teams.”

NFL suspends Browns star WR Gordon for 2014 season

Epoch Times Photo

In this Aug. 18, 2014, file photo, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md. Gordon has been suspended by the NFL one year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Gordon’s suspension is effective immediately and he will miss the entire 2014 season. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

CLEVELAND—Josh Gordon’s wait is over, and so is his 2014 season. Now the star wide receiver’s career is in peril.

The Browns learned Wednesday that Gordon’s indefinite suspension by the NFL has been upheld and he will miss at least 16 games for another violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. A repeat drug offender, Gordon had appealed the penalty, hoping it would be reduced so he could play this season.

The NFL, though, came down hard on Gordon, who must now pay the price for stepping out of bounds.

The league announced that arbitrator Harold Henderson supported Gordon’s yearlong suspension for marijuana use. The Pro Bowler, who was subject to more frequent testing, will begin serving his suspension immediately and the league said in its statement that his “eligibility for reinstatement will be determined following the 2014 season.”

In the meantime, Gordon is not allowed to practice with the team, attend meetings or other club functions.

Browns general manager Ray Farmer expressed some disappointment at the decision, but said the team has no choice but to move ahead without Gordon.

“While we may have strong feelings on the timing and the process of this decision, we have also consistently communicated that we will focus on what we can control in our day to day approach,” Farmer said in a statement. “Right now that is preparing our team for the 2014 season and at the same time, supporting Josh however we are able under NFL guidelines during his suspension.”

The Browns had feared for months this would be the outcome, and now that it’s official, the club will have to somehow make up for the league-leading 1,646 yards, 18.9 yards per catch and nine touchdowns Gordon produced last season.

“I’d like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans,” Gordon said in a statement. “I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn’t exercise better discretion and judgment in my case. I would like to sincerely thank the people who have been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging time, including my family, my agent, my union, my legal team, and the Cleveland Browns staff.”

While he’s out, Gordon, who served a two-game suspension for a drug violation last season, will need to pass drug tests, comply with treatment and apply for reinstatement with Commissioner Roger Goodell before he plays again. Gordon could possibly return inside a year if he stays clean.

Gordon met with league officials in New York on Aug. 4 to appeal his suspension. As the days past, there was growing speculation he might not be punished to the letter of the collective bargaining agreement. But Henderson sided with the league’s initial ruling after an exhaustive process.

The Browns have known Gordon could be banished for some time and they’ve been eager for a resolution to his case, which hung over their training camp. He continued to practice and played in Cleveland’s first three exhibition games.

Gordon fought the suspension by hiring attorney Maurice Suh to represent him at the appeal hearing. Suh, who had successfully gotten a suspension reduced for Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, argued that Gordon tested positive for marijuana due to secondhand smoke. Gordon’s representatives also said test results of his samples were inconsistent and should be thrown out.

There was speculation the league might go softer on Gordon following the public outcry after Baltimore running back Ray Rice was suspended for two games on a domestic violence charge. Instead, the league put Gordon on the sideline for all 16 games and will wait to see how he behaves before deciding whether to let him back.

Cowboys Bring Back Tanner

The Dallas Cowboys have brought back running back Phillip Tanner.

Tanner was with the Indianapolis Colts for nearly a month this training camp and offseason but was let go on Wednesday.

The Cowboys scooped him up, reported Tireball.

Tanner has played for the Cowboys for the past three years.

“The chances that Tanner sticks with the Cowboys this time around are slim. He is simply being brought in to play in Thursday’s preseason game with Joseph Randle and Ryan Williams both dealing with minor injuries. Tanner should again hit the waiver wire on Saturday. In 39 career games Tanner has run for 149 yards on 56 carries (2.7 avg) adding two touchdowns. He also has nine career receptions for 93 yards,” it reported.

Packers backup QB, Chiefs receiver bear watching 

Epoch Times Photo

Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn, right, throws a pass to wide receiver Jeff Janis, left, before Janis ran the ball in for a touchdown during the third quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the St. Louis Rams Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

GREEN BAY, Wis.—Don’t expect to see starting quarterbacks Alex Smith or Aaron Rodgers take snaps. Do expect to see running backs Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy wearing baseball caps on the sideline.

With roster decisions looming, the preseason game between Kansas City and Green Bay on Thursday night at Lambeau Field belongs to the backups, rookies and undrafted free agents. It’s time for the longshots and hopefuls to make a good impression if they want to stick around.

That means the game is a test for the Chiefs’ No. 3 running back job between Cyrus Gray and Joe McKnight, or perhaps it will settle the Packers backup quarterback battle between Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien.

“It’s like any position. Matt and Scott aren’t just competing against each other,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “You have to keep your best players. They’re really competing against the other positions.”

Rosters must be trimmed to the 53-man limit by Saturday afternoon.

“This last game is important. That young men know that,” Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson said. “This will be interesting stuff.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid at one point apparently considered the Packers game an opportunity to give his reshuffled offensive line a little work. That doesn’t appear to be the case anymore, especially with left tackle Eric Fisher coming down with the flu this week.

So Thursday night will be the perfect chance for Reid to check out the backups from which he needs to draw to build needed depth.

“Yeah, well, there have been some good, there have been some bad,” Reid said about the offensive line’s ability to get push up front this preseason.

He is also looking for solid backups in the secondary, and a healthy body to become the top target at receiver.

Dwayne Bowe, who has a groin injury, is suspended for the opener after getting arrested last November. Junior Hemingway has an injured hip, so former practice squad player Frankie Hammond may use Thursday’s game as a chance to prove he can be a go-to guy.

Same goes in the backfield, where Gray and McKnight are looking to secure the third running back spot behind Charles and Knile Davis.

“I think they need the reps,” Charles said about the backups. “They need that experience. I think once they get that experience of being in the game and being part of a preseason playing against a first-team defense then they’ll get comfortable.”

Though they likely won’t be facing the Packers defensive starters much, if at all.

One exception might be at defensive tackle, where B.J. Raji went down with a season-ending biceps injury in last week’s win over the Raiders. Perhaps second-year player Josh Boyd gets a chance to boost his confidence in the middle. Undrafted free agent Mike Pennel has impressed in the preseason and could use Thursday to boost his case to part of the tackle rotation.

Another undrafted rookie, outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott figures to get his most playing time yet this preseason. He has made a strong case with four sacks in the last two preseason games — including three in four fourth-quarter plays two weeks ago against St. Louis.

“And now it was rare, in the St. Louis game, what he did there. But he did, he followed up and got another sack this last week, so it will be interesting to watch to see how he does Thursday night,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “Let’s see if he can follow it up with more production.”

The most intriguing competition of the night is for the Packers quarterback job. Flynn and Tolzien will likely split playing time by quarter.

In the end, McCarthy could keep both guys anyway. Flynn proved to be a worthy backup when he returned to Green Bay at midseason last year after Rodgers was sidelined with a collarbone injury.

Tolzien has shown enough potential that he could be signed by another club if he gets put on the practice squad.

“We’re going to make sure everybody has an opportunity against Kansas City to show what they’ve got,” he said.

Colts, Bengals happy with starters’ showing so far 

CINCINNATI—There’s no incentive for the Colts and the Bengals to play their starters much in the final preseason game. They’ve done so well that both teams are feeling good about the regular season.

The Colts (0-3) and the Bengals (1-2) will be looking mostly at competition for backup spots on Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium.

It’ll be the final time that Indianapolis linebacker Robert Mathis can be with the team. He’ll start serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He claims he used a fertility drug to help his wife get pregnant.

Cincinnati Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who signed a three-year contract extension on Wednesday, is expected to sit out with a hamstring injury.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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