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Washington Football Team gives RT Morgan Moses OK to seek trade, source says



The Washington Football Team has granted longtime starting right tackle Morgan Moses permission to seek a trade, a source confirmed.

Washington would save $7.75 million in salary cap space whether it trades or releases Moses, no matter if it’s before or after June 1. He would count $1.9 million in dead cap room.

Washington signed left tackle Charles Leno Jr., earlier this month and drafted tackle Samuel Cosmi in the second round. Leno made 93 consecutive starts at left tackle for Chicago before being released following the draft. Washington coach Ron Rivera said Cosmi could play left or right tackle – he worked at both spots during last weekend’s minicamp — but they clearly didn’t select him to have him sit all season.

Rivera said he wanted to strengthen the offensive line this offseason. They also traded for guard Ereck Flowers and are high on second-year guard Saahdiq Charles, who was limited to two games last season because of a dislocated kneecap.

Moses has started every game for Washington since 2015, almost exclusively at right tackle though he had to start one game on the left side in 2020. He often played through various injuries and over the years developed into a mentor for younger players. He’s close to right guard Brandon Scherff, who is on the franchise tag for the second consecutive year.

Moses, a 2014 third-round pick, just turned 30 years old has two years left on his contract.

Washington also has tackles Cornelius Lucas, Geron Christian, David Sharpe, Rick Leonard and David Steinmetz.

The NFL Network first reported the news.

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New England Patriots’ Jonnu Smith feeding off energy with new team – New England Patriots Blog



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Last year at this time, tight end Jonnu Smith would have sat down in front of a small camera for a virtual interview after training camp practice. Just a man in a screen.

This year, Smith walked to the in-person interview area after the New England Patriots‘ first practice Wednesday, lifted his right fist in the air, tugged at his No. 81 jersey, and flashed the widest smile to adoring fans who stuck around to see him and called out his name. Just a man and some screams.

“It’s a different kind of energy out here in Foxborough,” Smith said.

Smith’s energy, and how much he’s appreciating his lot in life after signing a four-year, $50 million contract in the offseason and welcoming a baby daughter, Haven, was on full display during the in-person setting when reporters — and fans — could look him in the eyes, and vice versa.

“I was just showing love, you know what I mean? It just feels so good to get out here, man,” he said. “Last year we missed out on training camp due to COVID protocols and all that, so we never had the fans and being able to interact. But having them out here, giving us juice, I was just showing them love back.”

In the perfect Patriots world, the love affair will continue to grow as part of a tight-end revival along with fellow free-agent signing Hunter Henry (three years, $37.5 million).

“We’ve spent a limited amount of time together, but that is only going to build as we get in the trenches together, go through some grind days and get through some games together,” Henry said. “This offense is built for tight ends. They have a tremendous legacy here.”

Smith joked he wants it to become a “Boston TE party.”

That would be ideal given the financial investment the Patriots have made to bring the multiple-tight end offense back to life. In 2020, the club had two or more tight ends on the field 3% of the time, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information, easily the lowest total in the NFL.

So it was no surprise that on the first 11-on-11 drill of training camp Wednesday, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels called for multiple tight ends, which had long been a staple in the attack prior to 2020 (think Rob Gronkowski-Aaron Hernandez, and before that, Daniel Graham-Benjamin Watson). Coach Bill Belichick refers to the two-tight end grouping as “Detroit” — a reference to his time as an assistant coach with the Detroit Lions in the mid-1970s with tight ends Charlie Sanders and David Hill — and said of Smith: “Great to have him and work with him.”

Smith, who turns 26 next month, laid some personal groundwork for training camp by spending time with quarterback Cam Newton in the weeks before arriving.

“Building chemistry, getting to know one another, getting to know one another’s families. That translates to success on the field,” he said. “Just a helluva player and even a better person off the field. I got nothing but great things to say about Cam.”

At the same time, since Smith arrived in town in mid-July, rookie quarterback Mac Jones has made an early impression on him. Smith relayed he calls him “Mac-sonville,” which plays off Jones’ roots in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I’m going to be honest, man. I didn’t expect Mac to have the kind of swagger that he got,” Smith said with a lighthearted touch. “You know, great energy, just bringing life to the locker room. Always laughing. Smile on his face. Loves football. You couldn’t ask for a better quarterback.”

When Smith first signed with the Patriots, he choked up in his initial talk with reporters when discussing what the big-money contract meant to him and his family. Now he said it’s up to him to exceed the team’s expectations.

The contract helped his offseason get off to a special start, and was followed by welcoming Haven, who has quickly melted his heart.

“This is an offseason to remember for me, man. I’m already a father of two boys,” he said. “And, so to have my baby girl coming into the world; I’m holding her, I just become a big softy.”

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With Dak Prescott out, Dallas Cowboys turn to Garrett Gilbert at No. 2 – Dallas Cowboys Blog



OXNARD, Calif. — As it turned out, the Dallas Cowboys‘ season did not end Wednesday when Dak Prescott stopped throwing passes because of a muscle strain, but it did speak to the fragility of their potential success.

The Cowboys’ hopes are pinned to Prescott, which is why they paid him a $160 million contract that included $126 million in guarantees this offseason. Their dilemma is not uncommon in the NFL. Quick: Name Russell Wilson‘s backup with the Seattle Seahawks. See, not that easy.

The Cowboys’ No. 2 quarterback, at least for the moment, is Garrett Gilbert.

Gilbert, 30, has played in as many NFL games (seven) as he has professional teams — the Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, St. Louis Rams and the Orlando Apollos of the defunct Alliance of American Football.

“It’s part of being a backup quarterback. You’ve got to always be ready to step in at any point,” Gilbert said.

He has thrown 44 passes in those seven games and has 283 yards, a touchdown and an interception. All but six of those passes came in his one NFL start — last season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, three weeks after signing with Dallas. All but 40 of those yards came against the Steelers, too.

“That’s why he’s sitting here as the No. 2, and he’s done nothing but continue to impress Mike [McCarthy] and Kellen [Moore] in terms of what they feel like he could do if called upon,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Feel like he can win a game for us, or games.”

The Cowboys, of course, hope it never comes to that, but in the offseason, Gilbert dived deeper into the Cowboys’ playbook. He was constantly studying on his iPad. During the spring, he monitored Prescott and listened to how the veteran quarterback saw things.

“Being around [quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier] and Kellen and being around Dak and getting to learn this offense from square one was the biggest thing for me and the biggest takeaway,” Gilbert said. “I feel much more comfortable with all of our protection stuff, all our checks and audibles. That has been really great for me to be able to get in from square one and get that baseline that I didn’t have last year with me playing catch-up and learn game plans on a weekly basis.”

Clearly the Cowboys liked what Gilbert did.

Even with Prescott coming off a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle last October, the Cowboys did not look heavily in the free-agent market for a backup. They visited with Jeff Driskel and Brett Hundley but ultimately opted not to sign either player.

Prescott’s shoulder strain has not altered their plan at the moment, either.

Gilbert has been the clear No. 2 to Prescott, and with his absence was elevated to be the starter over Ben DiNucci and Cooper Rush.

It is a far different approach from what the Cowboys did a year ago when they signed Andy Dalton, who started 133 games in nine years with the Cincinnati Bengals, to a one-year deal that guaranteed him $3 million. It is far different from the approach the organization took early in Tony Romo’s career when he had veterans Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna and Kyle Orton as his backups.

After Romo suffered through back and collarbone injuries, the Cowboys went with low-cost backups, such as Brandon Weeden and Moore, who is now the Dallas offensive coordinator. Oh, and they selected Prescott in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft.

“First of all, I think I’ve got a lot of confidence in all of our quarterbacks,” Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz said. “I see the way they work, and they have a hell of a leader in their room who makes sure everybody’s on top of their stuff. I mean don’t tell them I said this, but they’ve got a pretty good coach [Nussmeier] in there, too. Having confidence in your quarterback room is very special, especially when you’re a tight end; you can trust those guys and they can trust you.”

Gilbert did not pay attention to what the Cowboys did — or didn’t do — at the quarterback position this offseason.

“Listen, obviously I want to win the backup job. That’s my goal,” he said. “That’s all of our goal that are here behind Dak, but I think to focus on who I’m competing with specifically would be getting in the way of what I’m trying to do and how I’m trying to improve every day. My goal is to simply go out there, get better, be the best quarterback I can be for this team and let the chips fall where they may. That has served me well in the past.”

If this run with the first team is short, or if he is ever called upon during the season, he will not try to be Prescott 2.0.

“I’d be doing myself and those guys a disservice if I tried to be Dak out on the field when I was out there,” Gilbert said. “Certainly, there some things that are going to sound the same as far as cadence and that sort of thing, but I feel like when I’m out there, I’m operating my own offense there, not trying to be like him.”

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San Francisco 49ers’ roster building has been less than conventional – San Francisco 49ers Blog



SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In a span of 341 days, the San Francisco 49ers rewarded three players — tight end George Kittle, left tackle Trent Williams and, most recently, middle linebacker Fred Warner — with contracts at the top of the market for their respective positions.

The number climbs to four if you want to separate fullbacks from running backs and include Kyle Juszczyk. As roster-building complications go, it’s a challenge the Niners were happy to take on.

“It’s not a problem, but it’s a good situation to have where you have guys that are at the top of market,” general manager John Lynch said. “Obviously, everyone in that locker room can’t be that, but we’re proud and happy that we’ve been able to do that. And I think we’re still in a good place from a cap situation and feel good about that.”

Indeed, nobody can blame the 49ers for paying the likes of Warner, Williams and Kittle. All three are the type of foundational players who not only produce on the field but check all the necessary boxes in terms of leadership and work ethic.

But while it’s common for teams to reward their best players with big contracts, the 49ers have found themselves building the top of the roster in more unusual ways from a positional value standpoint.

Sure, Williams plays one of the game’s most important positions at left tackle but Kittle and Warner don’t, at least according to what the market has said for many years. Kittle ($15 million annual average) and Warner ($19 million) set new standards at positions where forward movement contractually has been hard to come by.

Those steps forward were a welcome sight for other tight ends and likely will be soon for off-ball linebackers, but paying big bucks at those positions almost certainly means not being able to pay others.

A popular belief among some former NFL personnel executives is ideally a team’s five highest-paid players should be the quarterback, outside pass-rusher, left tackle and cornerback with one wild-card spot.

The Niners under Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan buy into that philosophy, but only in part.

“That’s the hardest thing that everyone looks into because it’s not black and white,” Shanahan said. “It’s not who do you value the most? What position do you value the most? I mean, I think everyone’s paying a quarterback and a pass-rusher one and two for the most part. What if you don’t have that quarterback, what if you don’t have that pass-rusher, or what if you have a great receiver or whatever it is, what’s your team. And each team is different and teams have won a lot of different ways.”

Since Shanahan and Lynch took over in 2017, there hasn’t been much guesswork needed to see their vision. They’ve poured significant resources into building the defensive line and have put plenty into quarterback, paying Jimmy Garoppolo a top of market deal in 2018 and trading three first-round picks and a third-round selection to move up for Trey Lance in March.

From there, though, the Niners’ primary team-building focus has been on finding and developing the best players who also fit the mold of what they’re looking for in terms of character. Warner and Kittle are former third and fifth-round picks, respectively, who have willed their way to the top of their positions.

Their signings come on the heels of what Lynch has called the toughest choice he and Shanahan have made: trading defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts in 2020. Like Warner and Kittle, Buckner didn’t play a traditionally premiere position. Also like Warner and Kittle, Buckner was the total package on and off the field.

The difference? Timing.

When Buckner needed a contract, the 49ers faced the possibility of losing defensive lineman Arik Armstead and safety Jimmie Ward. The opportunity to keep both and trade for a pick that turned into a younger, cheaper replacement like Javon Kinlaw only buoyed their belief that for as hard as trading Buckner was, the accumulation of other losses would have been more difficult to overcome.

“That was tough because it was very similar to Fred,” Shanahan said. “A guy who has done everything right … then you’ve got to make a decision that makes you kind of sick because of someone like Buck. Would have been the same thing with someone like Fred or someone like Kittle, guys are at the top of their position, who do everything the right way. Fortunately, what it took to get them and compare it with what it meant to our team, who we would lose, how to replace it. And it was a lot easier to get done and that’s why it worked out.”

With no other foundational players who must be signed to long-term deals before the salary cap is set to take off in 2023, the Niners have put themselves in position to have needed flexibility by having Lance as the starting quarterback and Nick Bosa as their top edge rusher on rookie contracts for at least the next couple of years.

Those are the types of tradeoffs and big-picture thinking the Niners hope will allow them to reach their goal of building sustainable success.

Lynch and Shanahan also remain keenly aware that long-term prosperity isn’t going to happen if they don’t ensure the locker room culture is what it needs to be. Which is why, more than anything, it’s not lost on them that the entire locker room is paying attention to who is getting rewarded and who isn’t, regardless of position.

“It creates an atmosphere in that locker room where, hey, if you do your part, you’re going to be taken care of in this building,” Lynch said. “And we’re proud of that.”

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