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New Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes to evaluate QB Matthew Stafford, rest of roster

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New Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes said he believes quarterback Matthew Stafford is a “great player” who has a lot of the intangible traits he likes to see out of all of his players.

Holmes, though, made no definitive declaration on the future of Stafford, who has two years left on his contract. Owner Sheila Ford Hamp said that would be up to Holmes and their yet-to-be-named head coach.

“What you really appreciate is that the talent was easy to see, but you really appreciate how his intangibles show on film,” the 41-year-old Holmes said of Stafford. “How urgent he plays, how competitive he is, the toughness that he shows. But it is my job to evaluate the entire roster and through that process I have not had any discussions with Matt or any players for that matter.

“So you know, I just want to be fair into the process to make sure we evaluate that thoroughly but obviously, Matt, very good football player.”

Much of Holmes’ first news conference centered on how he wants to “retool” a Lions roster that finished last in the NFC North in each of the last three seasons. Everything he is attempting to bring in will be part of a larger process he envisions, something he saw work well during his almost two decades with the Rams as he worked his way up from public relations intern to the director of college scouting under Les Snead.

Holmes said the first thing he wants to do is meet with and go through the entire roster after the team hires a new head coach, which is expected to be New Orleans Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Team president Rod Wood said a collaboration of Holmes and the new head coach will have say over 53-man roster decisions. Holmes, the new head coach and vice president of football administration Mike Disner, who will have added responsibilities within the organization, will all report to Wood and Hamp.

Hamp said since they ran the head coach and general manager searches simultaneously, they asked general manager candidates about who they had in mind as head coaches. And they’d ask coaching candidates similar questions about general managers. Often, Hamp said, the lists had common names.

Hamp did say that Holmes talked with some of their remaining candidates after he was hired.

It was during those interviews where Holmes “blew away the competition,” Wood said. Hamp said she believes, particularly with analytics and technology, what Holmes will bring is “definitely different than what we’ve been doing here.”

Holmes didn’t want to delve into specifics, but all of this is the start of what Holmes is describing as his process.

“I would say let’s all trust the process that is going to be in place,” Holmes said. “It is going to be a very sound process. It will be a very thorough and diligent process and we’re going to, like I said earlier, we’re going to surrender those results to the process. I’ve always been one that likes to go through the process and tries to delay my intuition towards the end. “So if we keep the process sound and then we make the right intuitive decisions going forward, I believe the Lions fan base are going to be very, very happy with the results that they see.”

Holmes does not see his process being a massive rebuild. He said his plan is to field a competitive team in 2021, acknowledging there were areas, specifically defensively, where the Lions were “definitely going to retool,” but he did not offer specifics.

But he did say he saw building blocks on a defense that allowed the most points and yards in franchise history last season under head coach Matt Patricia and defensive coordinator Cory Undlin.

Detroit does have Jeff Okudah, last year’s No. 3 overall pick, as well as cornerback Amani Oruwariye, safety Tracy Walker, defensive end Trey Flowers and linebacker Jamie Collins as starters who are expected to return next season.

“The ultimate goal is to make sure the most competitive team is on the field and that starts right now, this year, entering the 2021 season,” Holmes said. “So not viewing this as this will be a long-term, I don’t know how long this is going to take. That is not the approach.

“That’s not the mindset going into it. The approach is to make sure that we can put the most competitive team possible out on the field in 2021.”

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Four-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati says he’s retiring after 11 seasons

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SEATTLE — Four-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati, who spent the past two years with the Seattle Seahawks, is retiring after 11 seasons in the NFL.

Iupati announced his decision in an interview with Spokane newspaper The Spokesman-Review, saying, “My body was telling me it was time to close the door.”

The 33-year-old was a first-team All-Pro in 2012 with the San Francisco 49ers, who drafted him 17th overall out of Idaho in 2010. He made three Pro Bowls in five seasons with the 49ers and one in four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He then played on consecutive one-year deals with the Seahawks, starting 25 games.

Iupati missed six games in 2020 while dealing with injuries to his knee, back and neck. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll referred to Iupati’s late-season neck injury as a stinger and said it was something he had dealt with earlier in his career. According to The Spokesman-Review, “a chronic neck condition convinced him he needed to give the game up.”

“I know I’m going to miss it,” Iupati told the newspaper about playing football. “But I’m kind of excited. I’ve got four boys and I’m taking care of them every day.”

Iupati told the newspaper his goal was to play 10 NFL seasons. Spotrac.com lists him with more than $50.75 million in on-field earnings over his career.

Iupati and center Ethan Pocic were Seattle’s two starting offensive linemen from 2020 who were scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. Earlier this month, quarterback Russell Wilson publicly stated his desire for the Seahawks to improve their pass protection.

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High school football player apologizes for trash-talking Cam Newton on viral video

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A high school football player who was seen on video trash-talking Cam Newton has apologized to the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player after the exchange between them went viral.

An abbreviated part of the video, in which Newton was repeatedly taunted as a free-agent-to-be who was “about to be poor,” sparked passionate reaction from Newton’s NFL peers. It occurred at a 7-on-7 football tournament, with Newton coaching his longtime team through his charitable foundation.

The player, Jseth Owens of Perkiomen Valley High School in Pennsylvania, asked for forgiveness as part of a written apology on Twitter.

Earlier Sunday, Newton had shared an extended video of the exchange on Instagram, with an accompanying message that explained why he was seeking to speak with the player’s father.

“People often forget as athletes that are often seen on TV — loved by most, hated by some — we are real dads, real friends, real brothers, real sons, real human beings. With that being said, when I attend tournaments all across the country with my all-star team, I have given my time, my energy and my expertise to these kids coming into our program for over 11 years and that is not what people want to hear or even want to see.

“People want to see me arguing with another young man and to see me ‘get in my feelings.’ But the truth is this, I impact kids’ lives in a positive way. Make no mistake about it, I allow kids to realize their ‘out’ by using their football talents to get them to the next level and in most cases out of the hood.”

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette, New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron and Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons were among NFL players who tweeted their support of Newton.

Newton, who spent the 2020 season with the New England Patriots after nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. He said on the “I Am Athlete” podcast to be released Monday that he has no plans to retire.

“Hell no! I can’t go out like that,” he said in reference to an up-and-down 2020 season in which the Patriots were 7-9. “I hear all of that talk. My pride won’t allow me to do it. There aren’t 32 guys better than me.”



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To keep or let go? Colts must decide on Hilton, other key free agents – Indianapolis Colts Blog

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INDIANAPOLIS — The focus when talking about the Indianapolis Colts this offseason — and rightfully so — has centered around the quarterback position following Philip Rivers’ retirement. Consider that box checked, now that the team has an agreement to acquire Carson Wentz from the Eagles.

But general manager Chris Ballard still has some internal decisions he has to make when it comes to the rest of the roster. The Colts have 10 notable unrestricted free agents, highlighted by wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, running back Marlon Mack and defensive end Justin Houston. Let’s go position by position and provide reasons to both keep and move on from each player.

Running back

Marlon Mack

Why keep him: Reich believes in having multiple options to turn to in the backfield. Can you imagine a trio of Mack, Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines? That’s three different ways the Colts could beat teams out of the backfield. Mack rushed for 1,091 yards in 2019 before a torn Achilles in Week 1 ended his 2020 season.

Why let him walk: The Colts may not be able to afford him or Mack may not want to share the workload with Taylor, who topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark as a rookie last season. “Marlon Mack deserves a good contract,” Ballard said in January. “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do that here. But I’m not saying Marlon (won’t return).”


Wide receiver

T.Y. Hilton

Why keep him: Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne are the only two receivers who are above Hilton in the team’s record books. Hilton is currently the longest-tenured Colts player on the roster.

Why let him walk: The reality is Hilton will turn 32 in November, has topped a 1,000 yards receiving just once in the past four seasons and has played all 16 games just once in that same span. This, unfortunately, outweighs the positives. It could be a case where the Colts let Hilton test the market first and then see if the two sides can reach a deal.


Tight end

Trey Burton

Why keep him: The Colts will likely be able to re-sign Burton at a cheaper price tag and he’s already familiar with Reich from Indianapolis and Philadelphia.

Why let him walk: An opportunity to upgrade the position. Starter Jack Doyle, who continues to be dependable, will be 31 in May and tight ends like Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith are free agents.


Offensive line

Le’Raven Clark

Why keep him: Extra depth on an offensive line that lacked it in 2020.

Why let him walk: Clark is not a starter on a playoff team. He’s more of a backup you can plug in as a starter for maybe a game, if needed. The Colts should be able to find a serviceable backup tackle in free agency or the draft.


Defensive line

Justin Houston

Why keep him: The veteran had a team-high 19 sacks in two seasons with the Colts. This would be an easier decision for the Colts if they already had Houston’s replacement at defensive end on the roster. But that’s not the case, as none of the younger players played like they wanted to take over that role last season. That’s why bringing Houston back shouldn’t be ruled out.

Why let him walk: Houston turned 32 in January and at some point the Colts have to get younger at the position. Melvin Ingram, Bud Dupree and Jadeveon Clowney are some of the notable free-agent pass-rushers.

Denico Autry

Why keep him: Autry wasn’t mentioned in the same breath as Darius Leonard, DeForest Buckner or Houston on defense, but he quietly had the second-best season of his career, totaling 7.5 sacks to bring his three-season total with the Colts to 20.

Why let him walk: Autry will be 31 later this season and he’ll likely get more money from another team as he looks to land potentially his final big contract.

Al-Quadin Muhammad

Why keep him: Muhammad’s presence was felt more in the run defense than in getting sacks, as he had only five in three seasons with the team. But 56 of his 80 tackles in that same time span were solo and he’s still young (he’ll be 26 in March), which fits into the Colts’ mold of roster building.

Why let him walk: The Colts need a lot of help in the pass-rush department. Muhammad didn’t provide that.


Linebacker

Anthony Walker

Why keep him: Walker is one of the leaders of the defense. He has worked his way up from barely being able to get on the field as a rookie in 2017 to forming a solid trio with Leonard and Bobby Okereke.

Why let him walk: Okereke is better suited to play middle linebacker, and a possible sign of things to come occurred when Walker played only 18 snaps in the playoff loss in Buffalo. Walker wants to be a full-time starter, not a player who has to split snaps.


Defensive back

Malik Hooker

Why keep him: No reason, unless Hooker is willing to be a backup, which likely isn’t the case.

Why let him walk: Hooker had two of his four seasons cut short due to injuries. He tore his ACL as a rookie in 2017 and then tore his Achilles last season. Hooker didn’t play a full season in any of his four years with the Colts. Julian Blackmon stepped into Hooker’s starting role last season and appears to have that locked down for the time being. The decision by the Colts not to pick up the fifth-year option on Hooker’s contract said a lot.

Xavier Rhodes

Why keep him: Rhodes went from a player the Colts signed as a one-year flyer to being the team’s best cornerback last season. He had 42 tackles, two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown, and 12 passes defended in 2020.

Why let him walk: Rhodes increased his financial value with his play last season and will likely be able to get more money from another team.

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