Bears TE Jake Butt retires at age 26
"Football gave me some of the best times of my life. Ironically, it also gave me some of my toughest times, which turned out to be the most important," he wrote. "The adversity that I faced in my career gave me some of the biggest opportunities to grow as a man."
Butt retires with 10 career receptions for 90 yards.
Butt was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fifth round of the 2017 draft, but spent his rookie season on injured reserve recovering from a torn ACL in his final game at Michigan.
Three games into his second NFL season, he suffered another ACL tear.
"This may come off as impulsive," Butt wrote. "Some may wonder, 'Why now?' when I was so close. But over time I've lost the passion that I once had for this game. I've battled through this feeling for a while now, but I can no longer ignore it.
"I will always cherish and love this game. It has given me some of my best memories, highest highs, my strongest friendships and my best lessons. But it's time for me to close this chapter and move on to a new one."
Report: Packers agree to void '23 from Aaron Rodgersâ deal
The report said that the Packers also removed certain forfeiture provisions from the contract that would have allowed the team to try to recoup portions of Rodgers' signing bonus.
Green Bay offered concessions to Rodgers to appease the reigning MVP quarterback and persuade him to report to the team for training camp. Over the offseason, Rodgers made clear he was unhappy with how the franchise had gone about its business and hadn't given him a larger say in matters relating to the team.
Of those concessions, it appears one was a trade with the Houston Texans to acquire former Packers receiver Randall Cobb, one of Rodgers' old favorite targets.
"Obviously without Aaron (Rodgers), I don't think we would be pursuing that," Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said Thursday. "Randall is still a really good player. ... This was a very important thing for Aaron, and that's why we did it."
Now Rodgers is not locked into staying Green Bay as long. It was previously reported that the Packers were prepared to agree with Rodgers to review his situation at the end of the 2021 season.
NFLPA president JC Tretter rips NFL's 'scarlet marking' for unvaccinated
Tretter said Thursday he is entirely against forcing unvaccinated players to wear wristbands that denote vaccination status.
"It's a nonsensical idea," Tretter said. "They say they need a differentiator between vaccinated and unvaccinated players. We already have a differentiator. The unvaccinated players need to wear masks. No other sports league uses any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband, because they know it's not necessary and the teams know who's vaccinated, who's not vaccinated."
The Browns are one of the NFL teams who opted not to have their unvaccinated players wear wristbands. The stipulation has not been agreed to by the NFLPA and NFL, which bargained over several other elements within the safety protocol.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski said he will not "divide the team over this issue" and Tretter plans to continue fighting to give players on other teams the option of removing the bands.
"So what it really comes down to is the NFL wanted to put a policy in place to try to shame unvaccinated players publicly about their status and make that known to everyone on the field," Tretter said. "It shouldn't be the case because it's unnecessary. We all know who's vaccinated and who's not, and it doesn't need to be a scarlet marking on people's helmets or wrists."
The NFL said in a COVID-19 update on Thursday that 87.9 percent of players in training camps are vaccinated. Per the league, 19 teams have a vaccination rate over 90 percent.
The Indianapolis Colts and Washington Football Team remain among the least-vaccinated teams.
Dan Campbell: John Penisini had âsoftballsâ removed from shoulders
Campbell noted the improved play of second-year defensive lineman John Penisini, whom he said has elevated his performance this summer, might be partly due to Penisini's health.
"John Penisini had what looked like softballs in his shoulder that he had repaired after the season, after the fact," Campbell said. "It just looked like a bunch of calcium deposits that had been in there. You wonder why, when you watch the film last year, why he's not using his arm. It's because he had issues."
Penisini, selected by the Lions in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, still put together a solid rookie campaign in spite of his "softballs." The 24-year-old defensive tackle started 12 games (playing in all 16 overall) and totaled 35 tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.
"It's a credit to him playing through it and all of those things," Campbell said. "He's better and you could see it yesterday. It was impressive."
Cardinals' COVID-19 list grows to eight players
Coach Kliff Kingsbury said Thursday from training camp in Glendale, Ariz., that center Rodney Hudson, offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Kelvin Beachum, and wide receivers Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson are in the COVID-19 protocols and would be put on the list.
They will join wide receiver Rico Gafford, offensive lineman Shaq Calhoun and cornerback Lorenzo Burns.
NFL Network reported Thursday that more than 90 percent of the Cardinals' players have been vaccinated. Fully vaccinated players can return to the team after two negative tests taken 24 hours apart. Under league rules, unvaccinated players are required to isolate for at least 10 days.
The Cardinals are scheduled to open the 2021 season on Sept. 12 against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. Their preseason schedule begins with a home date against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 13.
Jets reach deal with top pick Zach Wilson
The deal is for four years and $35.15 million, with a $22.92 million signing bonus. The base salary grows in subsequent seasons, from $660,000 this year to $5.45 million in Year 4, per Spotrac. The Jets hold the fifth-year option.
Jets training camp opened Tuesday.
Per reporting from NFL Network, the holdout stemmed from offset language and signing bonus timing. The Jets were able to retain the offset language in exchange for a reworked signing bonus schedule. Wilson, who turns 22 next week, will receive the money within 15 days, ESPN reported.
The 6-foot-3 Wilson was the second quarterback selected in the 2021 NFL Draft behind Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, who went No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
A BYU product, Wilson threw for 3,692 yards and 33 touchdowns in leading the Cougars to an 11-1 record in 2020. For his collegiate career, he threw for 7,652 yards with 56 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
The Jets are scheduled to open the season Sept. 12 against their former starting quarterback, Sam Darnold, and the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.
Injured QB Dak Prescott dressed for padded Cowboys practice
Prescott walked off the field with medical staff on Wednesday and was taken for an MRI, which revealed the mild strain in his right (throwing) shoulder.
The Dallas Morning News reported Prescott could miss multiple weeks to guarantee the strain is fully healed.
But Prescott, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Thursday, said he doesn't think the injury is serious and plans to practice with the Cowboys during camp.
Head coach Mike McCarthy will make the final call on the practice decision, but allowed Prescott to work with the team Thursday while forbidding throwing. McCarthy said the Cowboys are planning to reassess Prescott, but he'd likely be banned from throwing for a few days.
Prescott missed the final 11 games of the 2020 season with an ankle injury that required surgery.
The two-time Pro Bowl selection signed a four-year, $160 million contract in the offseason.
WFT QB Ryan Fitzpatrick willing to take team lead on vaccination info
"I've had plenty of guys engage me in conversation, questions ... guys that have been vaccinated and guys that haven't been vaccinated," Fitzpatrick said. "I just tell them what I think. It's a personal choice. That's the end of the discussion for me. If you are making a decision on what you think is best for you and your family, beautiful. The decision might be different for me. That's the way I go about it, respect everybody else's decision."
WFT head coach Ron Rivera said at the start of training camp that he was "perplexed" by the low vaccination numbers for the team. Rivera survived cancer last year and is immunocompromised.
Fitzpatrick, 38, said six of his seven children are in school and "as soon as they are approved" to receive the vaccine, they will be.
"It's just kind of the world we're living in right now," Fitzpatrick said.
Eagles claim QB Jalen Hurts 'still in competition' to be starter
But first-year head coach Nick Sirianni would not label Hurts the starter at the position on Wednesday as rumors of the Houston Texans shopping Deshaun Watson floated their way to Philly.
Hurts started for the final month of last season after Carson Wentz was benched by Doug Pederson. Wentz was traded in the offseason to the Indianapolis Colts, and the Eagles didn't draft a challenger to Hurts in April.
"Right now, Jalen is in with the ones," Sirianni said of his training camp plans for the quarterback. "He's earned that because he's worked his butt off. We're hoping that he takes the reins and rolls with it and continues to just get good reps with the ones."
General manager Howie Roseman said the Eagles are not connected to every trade that spins in the rumor mill but did not entirely dismiss the notion of checking with the Texans on Watson's availability.
That didn't bother Hurts, who has played the role of leader and starter and appears intent on continuing in that capacity until Sirianni makes it official.
"I'm above it all. Control what I can. I'm here," he said. "That's what I'm doing, going out there to be the quarterback of this team."
Behind Hurts on the current depth chart are Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens. Both have starting experience but neither presents a serious threat to Hurts, who is more focused on convincing the Eagles he can be the long-term answer at the position.
Packers GM: Randall Cobb here only because Aaron Rodgers wanted him
"Obviously without Aaron (Rodgers), I don't think we would be pursuing that," Gutekunst said Thursday. "Randall is still a really good player. Seeing him last night kind of reminded what an impact he'll have in our locker room, for our football team. This was a very important thing for Aaron, and that's why we did it."
Cobb, who turns 31 next month, was acquired Wednesday from the Houston Texans for a 2022 sixth-round pick. Houston will pick up $3 million of his salary to make the deal work under the salary cap.
Rodgers said Wednesday he deserves input on personnel matters that "directly impact" his job, and Gutekunst supported that notion, saying Rodgers "earned that right."
Rodgers described his relationship with Gutekunst as "professional" in a lengthy session with media on Wednesday. Gutekunst said Thursday it is highly important for him to repair his relationship with Rodgers. But he said it will take effort on both sides to rebuild bridges scorched by an offseason standoff that Rodgers said had him considering retirement.
Gutekunst said nothing needs to be done with Rodgers' existing contract, which expires after the 2023 season, but there are plans to address his deal. He disagreed with the sentiment Rodgers shared Wednesday on being a "lame duck quarterback."
"I've never looked at it like that," he said. "At the moment, he has three years left on his contract, so he's not going to be a lame duck. We may alter that, but even still it's not going to be one year left."
That's not the only contract matter on the front burner for the Packers.
All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams is in the final year of his deal and made it clear he wants to be the highest-paid player at his position. That would mean more than $27 million in annual salary with Arizona's DeAndre Hopkins pulling in $27.25 million annually. Gutekunst said the Packers don't see the Hopkins deal, which is more than $5 million more per season than the second-highest-paid receiver, Julio Jones, makes, as the benchmark.
"It's very important for us moving forward (with Adams and having) him as part of our football team and making it work," Gutekunst said.
Cobb played for the Packers from 2011-18 before spending 2019 with the Dallas Cowboys and 2020 with Houston. He had his best season in Green Bay in 2014, making the Pro Bowl with career highs in catches (91), receiving yards (1,287) and touchdown grabs (12).
Sean Payton frustrated with timing of Michael Thomasâ surgery
Thomas reportedly will miss the start of the 2021 season as he recovers from surgery on an ankle injury that has plagued him for some time. He had the surgery in June, and reports said his recommended rehab period is four months.
"It appears we're going to have to spend some time without (Thomas)," Payton told reporters Wednesday.
"It's disappointing and we'll work through it with the other players that are here. The surgery took place, and obviously we would've liked that to have happened earlier than later -- and quite honestly it should have."
Asked if there was a lack of communication between the Saints and Thomas' camps, Payton only replied, "Nope, I'm gonna leave it at that."
Thomas, 28, is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection. He set a single-season record in 2019 with 149 receptions for a league-best 1,725 yards.
But he was injured in the 2020 season opener and ended up with just 40 catches for 438 yards and zero touchdowns in seven games.
Thomas signed a five-year, $96.3 million contract extension in 2019. He is due to earn $12.6 million in 2021 between base salary and a restructured bonus.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott leaves practice with sore throwing arm
Prescott walked toward a trainer on the sideline during practice and after a brief discussion, observed from a distance as Garrett Gilbert operated with the first-team offense. A short-time later, Prescott left the practice field but the Cowboys said the arm soreness is typical of training camp and not serious.
The Cowboys said Prescott "felt soreness in his throwing arm and didn't want to push it with deep throws today."
Prescott enters the 2021 season with a new long-term deal signed in the offseason worth $160 million over four years.
Team owner Jerry Jones said the Cowboys have "no concern" with Prescott's health after he ended the season on injured reserve with an ankle injury that required surgery.
Prescott said upon arrival at training camp in Oxnard, Calif., that he's in the best shape of his career. He missed the final 11 games of the 2020 season.
Aaron Rodgers considered retiring, wants personnel input
In the extensive session, Rodgers said he mulled retirement and wants input on personnel moves.
A day after reporting to training camp, Rodgers laid out how his offseason of discontent began in February.
That's when Rodgers said he expressed his desire to "help the organization learn from some of the mistakes in the past."
"I just want to be involved in conversations that affect my ability to do my job," Rodgers said. "As that progressed from that point, nothing really changed on that front."
Regarding his own future with the team, Rodgers said he wasn't given assurances beyond the 2021 season.
"That really wasn't given at any time," Rodgers said. "So for me, I had to assess the situation, not necessarily wanting to be a lame-duck quarterback, especially after an MVP season, which I think you can understand."
Feeling like he was batting 0-for-2 on two fronts that were important to him, a slighted Rodgers took a different tone in March.
"I felt like if you can't commit to me past 2021 and I'm not part of your recruiting process in free agency, if I'm not a part of the future, then instead of letting me be a lame-duck quarterback, if you want to make a change and move forward, then go ahead and do it," Rodgers said.
Then came April, when the initial report introduced the notion that Rodgers did not want to return this season. That's when the Packers got interested in enticing him back, according to Rodgers.
"I think what basically happened is they said, âWe'll give you some money now,'" Rodgers said. "Let's see if we can throw some money at you. I said from the start it wasn't about the money. To me, it was bigger than this. It was about trying to be a resource for the organization that I care about and love so much."
Then it was a summer of status quo for Rodgers, who skipped OTA and mandatory minicamp while mulling whether he wanted to return.
"I was really working on myself and my own mental state throughout the summer and at various points decided if I wanted to even keep playing, but the fire still burns and I wanted to be on the football team," Rodgers said.
"There's still a big competitive hole in my body that I need to fill," Rodgers said. "And as I got back into my workouts I just realized that I know I can still play and I want to still play, and as long as feel I can give 100 percent to the team, then I should still play."
Titans QB Ryan Tannehill: NFL 'forced my hand' with vaccine protocol
"I wouldn't have gotten the vaccine without the protocols they're forcing on us," Tannehill said Wednesday.
Though there is no mandate from the NFL to players or coaches to be vaccinated, protocol in place creates significant challenges to choosing not to be fully vaccinated this season.
"I'm in the process right now of being vaccinated," Tannehill said Wednesday following general manager Jon Robinson's media session outlining the team's vaccination progress. "The NFL has kind of made it clear what they want it to happen. If you don't fall in line, they're going to try to make your life miserable with the protocols."
Players who opt not to receive the vaccine are not allowed to practice in the greater group of players on a daily basis, must wear masks over their nose and mouth and face strict testing and quarantine measures.
The sum of those restrictions would make it difficult for a starting quarterback in the NFL to prepare and play at a high level.
"It's a personal decision for everyone. Everyone has to make the best decision for their families, that's kind of our mindset in this building," Tannehill said. "They ultimately have forced a lot of hands by the protocols. Just ... everyone has their own opinions on it. It is what it is. I love this game. I love this team. I want to be able to compete and do the things I think are important to build chemistry and win football games. So, ultimately that forced my hand."
Tannehill, who turned 33 on Tuesday, is entering his third season with the Ttians. He has thrown for 55 touchdowns against 13 interceptions in 28 games (26 starts) with Tennessee.
Packers WR Davante Adams won't take less to play with Aaron Rodgers
Wide receiver Davante Adams enters the final year of his contract facing the prospect of hitting free agency after the season, when Rodgers can work his way out of Green Bay.
Adams recently broke off talks with the Packers on a long-term deal. According to reports, Green Bay is balking at a deal that would make Adams the top-paid wide receiver in the NFL, ahead of the Arizona Cardinals' DeAndre Hopkins.
With next year up in the air for both players, Adams and Rodgers could be entering their final season together. Each player posted a picture of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on his Instagram story page, a reference to the "Last Dance" documentary on the end of the Chicago Bulls' championship dynasty.
Would Adams take less money to stay in Green Bay with Rodgers beyond 2021?
"That's not going to happen," Adams, 28, said. "I don't want to -- it's not about being a baby. What other profession do you take less than what you've earned? That's not how it goes. The fans might see it different in certain ways. I'm sure there are fans that see it the same way myself, my family, my agent and most of the league sees it.
"I'm not a baby. So I'm not going to not show up and I'm not complaining about it. At the end of the day, I'm not poor right now. I'll be OK to get through and go try to win a Super Bowl again. That's my main focus right now."
Adams said he would "lock in" but believes he earned the right "to be paid the highest in the league."
To be the highest-paid receiver in the NFL, Adams would need to receive $27.25 million per season, which would equal Hopkins' annual average value with the Cardinals. Hopkins received a two-year deal worth $54.5 million following a trade last offseason from the Texans.
"I don't want to make this (season) about me," Adams said.
The trouble for the front office involves the salary cap and Rodgers' status. If Rodgers would opt to retire or the Packers honor his potential wish for a trade, Green Bay would face the subsequent cap hit, leaving the franchise little or no room to retain Adams, even on the franchise tag.
Five wide receivers make more than $20 million per year, but none are within $5 million of Hopkins' average salary. Julio Jones of the Tennessee Titans is closest at $22 million per season.
Between the lines, as the Packers take the field for practices this week, Adams said he's "ecstatic" to learn Randall Cobb is returning to the Packers via trade.
"I'm just waiting on Jordy now," he said with a smile, referring to the retired Jordy Nelson.
Adams is entering his eighth season in Green Bay. He is coming off a stellar 2020 season, in which he caught 115 passes for 1,374 yards with 18 touchdowns in 14 games.
No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance signs contract with 49ers
Lance was selected third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, following fellow quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Zach Wilson (New York Jets) off the board. Wilson is the lone unsigned first-round pick of the past draft.
Although Lance was selected with a high pick, coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that veteran Jimmy Garoppolo will be atop the depth chart as training camp opens.
"There's no open competition, where they're getting equal reps with the same group," Shanahan said Tuesday. "Jimmy's coming in as the 1, Trey as the 2."
Lance brings to the 49ers a resume that includes 19 college games at FCS program North Dakota State. All but three of those games were in 2019, when Lance threw for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions, while running for 1,110 yards and 14 touchdowns. He led the Bison to a 28-20 win over James Madison in the FCS title game after the 2019 season.
Garoppolo, 29, is 22-8 as the 49ers starter in the regular season but injuries -- a torn ACL, a sprained throwing shoulder and two high ankle sprains -- have limited the quarterback. Acquired from the New England Patriots on Oct. 31, 2017, for a 2018 second-round draft pick, Garoppolo started just 25 games over the past three seasons and is entering the fourth year of a five-year, $137.5 million contract.
The 49ers finished last season with a 6-10 record. They open the 2021 season Sept. 12 at Detroit.
Deshaun Watson on field for Texans' training camp
Watson was taking snaps in a red No. 4 jersey but was also participating in drills wearing a hoodie. Fellow quarterback Tyrod Taylor was taking reps with the first team.
Texans general manager Nick Caserio declined to answer questions about the nature of Watson's participation. He did say Watson passed a conditioning test.
"I'm not going to get into an individual discussion about who's going to be doing what," Caserio told reporters. "Everybody will go out there and whatever they're going to do, they're going to do. I'm not going to comment about what they're going to do on a day-to-day basis."
Caserio also added that the team is taking it "one day at a time" with Watson, who wants to be traded but is also facing massive legal issues.
The NFL on Tuesday said no restrictions would be placed on Watson's participation at this time.
Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints from women in Houston alleging sexual misconduct against the 25-year-old.
WR Randall Cobb confirms trade to Packers
Cobb took to social media on Wednesday and wrote "I'M COMING HOME!" accompanied by an old picture of him wearing his Packers uniform.
Multiple media outlets reported the Packers were close to re-acquiring Cobb, who spent his first eight NFL seasons playing for Green Bay.
Cobb's potential return to the Packers comes on the heels of reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers returning to the team on Tuesday. This marked the first time that Rodgers was with Green Bay since his exit interview after the team's 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game.
Cobb, who will turn 31 next month, earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2014 after recording career-high totals in receptions (91), receiving yards (1,287) and touchdowns (12).
He had 38 catches for 441 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games last season with the Houston Texans.
In 130 NFL games, Cobb has 563 receptions for 6,793 yards and 47 touchdowns with the Packers, Dallas Cowboys and Texans.
The Packers made Cobb a second-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Kentucky.
Colts sign OT Braden Smith to $72.4M extension
Smith stabilized the right tackle position as a second-round pick in 2018. General manager Chris Ballard said negotiations with Smith and linebacker Darius Leonard were designed to produce long-term extensions before the start of the 2021 regular season.
"You're never going to regret paying a great player (laughs)," Ballard said Monday. "I don't give a crap what position the guy plays."
Drafted 37th overall as a guard out of Auburn one pick after the Colts selected Leonard, Smith allowed only one quarterback hit and zero sacks in 2020, based on Pro Football Focus film review.
"If you're naming one of the guys who I think is one of the better right tackles in the league, it's Braden Smith," coach Frank Reich said in December. "The way he is playing this year, he is playing lights out. He has been a model of consistency through every game. I'm not sure he's had a bad day in practice or on Sunday, so the guy is a stud."
ESPN reported the contract includes $42 million guaranteed.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson out with 'COVID issue'
ESPN reported the specifics behind Jackson's absence were unclear early Wednesday as the NFL flagged Jackson's latest COVID-19 tests. The league is still trying to process and evaluate the results.
Running back Gus Edwards tested positive for COVID-19 and also is out as training camp workouts open.
The Ravens had 20 players miss time due COVID-19 last season, including Jackson, who sat out the Thanksgiving game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With Jackson out and the timetable for his return undetermined, local quarterback Kenji Bahar was signed to the 90-man roster. The Baltimore native was on the field with the Ravens for their first full-team training camp practice Wednesday, although Trace McSorley is expected to take most of the first-team reps.