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Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns agree to reworked contract as receiver set to hit waivers Monday

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After days of negotiations, the Cleveland Browns and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. finally reached a settlement Friday that will result in him now being placed on waivers Monday, after which he can be claimed Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, league sources said.

The reworked contract is pending the NFLPA’s approval, per sources.

As part of the settlement of the reworked contract before it is terminated, the Browns agreed to remove the final two years of Beckham’s deal, meaning he now is scheduled to be a free agent after this season, sources said. Beckham, who turned 29 on Friday, had two years left on his deal.

Additionally, any team that claims Beckham would inherit $7.25 million of salary for the remainder of the season, sources said. The cost is considered high for a player who now will be in the last year of his contract.

The Browns had wanted to lower that salary number to entice other teams to claim him but agreed Friday to Beckham’s requests to leave the financial terms intact, making it less likely for him to be claimed.

While teams always have ways to create salary-cap space, as of Friday morning, only nine had over $7.25 million in cap space: the Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington and Cincinnati Bengals.

And league sources now believe it is unlikely that Beckham will be claimed on waivers Tuesday, which means he then would become a free agent.

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Washington Football Team TE Logan Thomas avoids ACL tear

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ASHBURN, Va., — The Washington Football Team received better-than-expected news on tight end Logan Thomas‘ injured left knee, coach Ron Rivera said, but that does not yet mean he’ll return this season.

Rivera said an MRI revealed that Thomas did not tear his ACL, as was originally feared, but that there was damage to his knee. Initial reports said Washington feared that he had torn both his ACL and MCL. A torn MCL would still require surgery and could sideline him for the rest of the season, barring a playoff run, according to a source.

Rivera said during a conference call that they were awaiting confirmation on the results and that he did “not want to get ahead of it” by saying how long Thomas would be out. Still, if further tests confirm no torn ACL then, if nothing else, it allows Thomas to recover well ahead of next season. That would be a big win for him and the organization.

Washington has won four in a row and currently owns the sixth playoff spot. Thomas already missed six games this season because of a hamstring injury, which landed him on injured reserve. If Washington placed Thomas on injured reserve again, he’d be done for the season.

The WFT also could opt to keep Thomas on the active roster, just in case he could return in four-to-six weeks for the playoffs. But it’s possible they might need that roster spot if more injuries hit.

Thomas was hurt with 10 minutes left in Sunday’s 17-15 win over the Las Vegas Raiders when defensive end Yannick Ngakoue went low as Thomas pulled from the opposite side to block him. Rivera said he wishes Ngakoue had used his hands to fight off Thomas rather than go low.

“It’s an unfortunate play,” Rivera said. “I felt it was something that was avoidable.”

Thomas was a key target for Washington, especially in the red zone, and had developed into a physical blocker. He caught a career-high 72 passes and six touchdowns last season, earning a three-year contract extension worth up to $24.05 million. In parts of six games this season, Thomas caught 18 passes, including three for scores. He leads all NFL tight ends since the start of last season with 151 yards receiving in the red zone. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, the former quarterback makes for a big target.

Washington should be helped this week with the expected return of tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, who missed the last three games with a hip injury. It also has rookie John Bates, who has earned praise for his blocking in particular.

Rivera also said defensive end Montez Sweat, on injured reserve with a jaw injury, might be cleared to resume practice Wednesday. At that point Washington would have 21 days to activate him. Also, Rivera said he’s anticipating that safety/linebacker Landon Collins will return to practice Wednesday. He did not play Sunday because of a foot injury.

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Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule doesn’t regret hiring Joe Brady as offensive coordinator

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule said the decision to fire offensive coordinator Joe Brady on Sunday was “purely football.”

He made it clear there were no regrets in his 2020 decision to hire Brady, at the time the 30-year-old passing game coordinator for national champion LSU with no experience calling plays in the NFL or at any level.

“When I took the job I decided to be bold and step outside my comfort zone,” Rhule said on Monday. “I certainly don’t look at that as a mistake.”

Rhule wouldn’t go into specifics on what led to his decision, but he has been consistent the past month saying the Panthers needed to be more committed to the run and be better coming out of halftime.

The Panthers (5-7) had only a combined 39 rushes the past two games combined, including 18 in a loss to the Miami Dolphins before the bye week. Rhule said after an Oct. 17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings he wanted 30 to 33 rushes a game.

Brady also wasn’t effective at halftime adjustments. Carolina is averaging only 2.1 points in the third quarter to rank 31st in the NFL, with only Houston, at 1.8 points, worse.

Overall, the team ranks 29th in offense after ranking 21st a year ago in Brady’s first season as a play caller.

Rhule called Brady’s replacement, running backs coach Jeff Nixon, a “calming, steadying influence.”

Nixon was Rhule’s co-offensive coordinator at Baylor in 2019. That team averaged 36 rushes a game.

“He’s done a lot to get us moving in the right direction,” Rhule said of Brady, 32. “But this was something I felt from a football perspective had to be done.”

Rhule said he “anticipates” Cam Newton being his starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. He also didn’t rule out mixing in PJ Walker, reminding that the former XFL star is 2-0 as a starter in the NFL.

Rhule said he had some “feelings” a change needed to be made at offensive coordinator coming off the Miami loss. He spent the week evaluating film not only of games, but practice.

He made the decision to fire Brady late last week. The two had a meeting scheduled for Saturday, but that was pushed to Sunday because Brady had a conflict.

Rhule made it clear the decision to move on from Brady was his and not a request from owner David Tepper. He said the meeting with Brady ended in a handshake and a hug.

“I hope this is the right move,” Rhule said. “It was purely football. This is in the best interest of us moving forward.”

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Mike Zimmer’s underachieving defense may have sealed his fate in Minnesota – Minnesota Vikings Blog

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DETROIT – When they needed to dig deep and display their very best, the Minnesota Vikings’ defense made things easy on Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff on Sunday.

After the Vikings regained the lead – 27-23 – with a late fourth-quarter touchdown, Goff and the Lions’ offense took the field at their own 25-yard line with 1:50 to go. Over the course of 14 plays, the Vikings blitzed Goff just once, and that play nearly resulted in an interception by Bashaud Breeland, who couldn’t come down with the ball.

Instead of pulling out a stop, Minnesota let a Lions team that was on a 15-game winless streak – and had no timeouts – march 75 yards en route to an 11-yard touchdown and 29-27 win.

“It was as good as you can do it for us offensively, and we were able to walk down the field there on them and made that play at the end,” Goff said. “It came down to one play, and we were able to make it.”

It’s become routine at this point, the Vikings playing “off and soft” – the way Goff described Minnesota’s zone coverage – as a method of preventing a big play from happening, only to allow a team to come back and score at the end. Four times the Vikings have been beaten by their opponent’s final drive.

Coach Mike Zimmer called two timeouts in the last eight seconds to help his defense get set at the 11-yard line, but it backfired and gave the Lions a chance to regroup and figure out how they were going to attack on that final fourth-and-2 play.

Zimmer said he probably should have dialed up more pressure on Detroit’s final drive – Minnesota sent just three rushers on the Lions’ TD – but the Vikings let Goff off the hook. Minnesota blitzed on just 14% of Goff’s dropbacks, the lowest blitz rate they’ve ever had against him, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

“We weren’t covering that great,” Zimmer said. “So, I mean, everything is hindsight, I guess.”

Make no mistake about a loss that drops the Vikings to 5-7 and cuts their chances of making the playoffs to 26%. Offensive playcalling deserves a bulk of the blame for the poor start Minnesota got off to Sunday, but Zimmer’s defense – this once vaunted unit – has failed the Vikings again and again.

It happened in Carolina on Oct. 17, when the Vikings let Sam Darnold force overtime by going 96 yards in 1:27 to score a touchdown and convert a 2-point attempt. It occurred again when Dallas backup quarterback Cooper Rush strung together a 75-yard drive that ended with a touchdown in the final minute to give the Cowboys the win two weeks later.

It even happened against Detroit on Oct. 10, when the Vikings allowed the Lions to take a 17-16 lead with 41 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and had to rely on a 54-yard field goal to narrowly escape.

Minnesota’s two-minute defense has been a struggle all season, but now it’s closing in on historic lows. The Vikings lead the NFL in points allowed in the final two minutes of any half with 101 (the next closest team is Seattle with 83). The most points allowed in the final two minutes of a half in the last 20 seasons is 107 – a record set by Minnesota in 2020.

For weeks they’ve tried to remedy this problem area by condensing their defensive playcalls and emphasizing the two-minute drill in practice to focus on preventing the pass interference penalties that have killed drives.

None of it has worked.

“That’s been an area we’ve struggled in all year, and it bit us [Sunday],” safety Harrison Smith said. “We’ve got to fix it.”

As they regroup for a short turnaround with Pittsburgh coming to Minneapolis for Thursday Night Football (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox), the Vikings face a stark reality about this defense. It appears this unit was never going to be good enough to stand up against the type of teams it would face in the playoffs, and it very well could be what seals Zimmer’s fate after eight seasons in Minnesota.

There hasn’t been a consistent return on investment for a defense that was the focal point of the offseason. In retooling this entire unit, Minnesota doled out north of $46 million in guaranteed money to defensive players.

Of course, injuries are an issue behind many of their struggles. The Vikings found out Sunday morning that they would be without linebacker Anthony Barr (knee/hamstring) in addition to Eric Kendricks (biceps) while top cornerback Patrick Peterson remained on the COVID-19/reserve list. And even though the Vikings got starting defensive tackles Dalvin Tomlinson and Michael Pierce back in Detroit, their pass rush remains thin, especially at defensive end.

But being the victim of Detroit’s first win is inexcusable, no matter who is on the field. Goff went 6-for-10 for 124 yards and two touchdowns on throws traveling more than 10 yards down field Sunday. He threw one touchdown and four interceptions on throws traveling the same distance in his first nine games of the season combined.

The Vikings made a bottom-tier quarterback look competent and blew another late-game lead. The same issues for this defense in Week 13 were there in Week 1, but Sunday might have been the last straw on what’s been a consistent pattern under Zimmer for years: This team hasn’t been able to put away or stop teams when it matters, and it has regressed each year since losing the NFC Championship Game to Philadelphia in 2017 with a defense that was ranked No. 1.

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