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Fallout From Andrew Luck’s Retirement

Andrew Luck‘s decision to step away from the game of football at the age of 29 will go down as one of the most surprising retirement decisions in the history of the league. But in his impromptu press conference last night, Luck kept using the word “exhausted,” as Zak Keefer of The Athletic observes. Luck’s latest health concern, a calf/ankle ailment, was just part of that exhaustion.

Keefer sums up Luck’s run of major injury woes over the past few years quite nicely. As Keefer writes, Luck “once played an entire quarter against the eventual Super Bowl champs with both a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdomen muscle – and led the Colts to a win. He played half a season with torn cartilage in two ribs. There was an injured thumb, a bum ankle, at least one diagnosed concussion and the torn labrum in his throwing shoulder that nearly cost him his career at age 28.”

All of those issues forced Luck to move on to the next chapter of his life much sooner than he wanted. Anyone who watched his presser could see the anguish in his face, how his smile didn’t quite reach his eyes, and how painful it was for him to make this decision. But as Luck himself said, “[i]t’s been four years of this injury-pain cycle. And for me to move forward in my life the way I want to, it didn’t involve football.”

Here’s just some of the fallout from Luck’s stunning announcement:

  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Luck and the Colts have reached an agreement wherein the team will not attempt to recoup any money to which it would be entitled under the CBA. As Joel Corry of CBS Sports notes, the team could have recovered $24.8MM from the No. 1 overall pick ($12.8MM of the $32MM signing bonus he was entitled to under his current contract, plus two $6MM March 2019 roster bonuses). If the Colts did seek repayment, any money they got back would have counted as a salary cap credit (Twitter links). Colts fans are already taking plenty of heat for booing Luck during the team’s preseason game last night — which Luck admitted was hurtful — and it would not have been a good look if the team were to try and seek repayment (especially in light of how the club mismanaged his early career, as Conor Orr of SI.com summarizes).
  • The Colts are high on their new QB1, Jacoby Brissett, but as Stephen Holder of The Athletic says, the team needs a veteran signal-caller behind Brissett, and it’s likely that GM Chris Ballard is already working feverishly to make a move. Indianapolis has enough draft capital to swing a trade of some kind (Twitter links).
  • Indianapolis may well remain competitive with Brissett at the helm, and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report says team brass does not believe the Colts will be drafting high enough in 2020 to land one of next year’s top QB prospects (Twitter link).
  • Colts owner Jim Irsay sounds like a man who hopes that Luck will unretire at some point. Irsay said, “[y]ou know, I don’t rule it out. Because as quickly as this thing sort of descended on us, and as mysterious as it was coming upon us, it could leave the same way” (h/t Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk). It was clear that Luck had thought long and hard about his decision, so as shocking as his retirement is, it would be even more shocking if he were to return to the field as a player. But Irsay is not ready to give up hope.
  • Irsay estimates that Luck left about $500MM on the table by retiring early given the ever-increasing QB salaries and the $64MM he was already due under the remaining three years of his current deal. As Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network tweets, that’s probably an accurate assessment. But if Luck is willing to walk away from that kind of cash, it seems as though he really is retired for good.
  • Luck’s contract will toll, so if he were to reverse course and come back, Indianapolis would hold his rights for three more seasons, as Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reminds us (via Twitter).
  • We heard last night that the Colts had known for at least two weeks that Luck was seriously considering retirement, but Ballard says that Luck only began discussing the possibility with the team Monday (less then a week ago), as Albert Breer of SI.com tweets.

Texans Seeking OT In Jadeveon Clowney Trade?

There was a lot going on in the AFC South on Saturday night. In addition to Andrew Luck‘s shocking retirement announcement, reports surfaced that the Texans were likely to trade star edge defender Jadeveon Clowney in the next couple of days.

Those reports suggested that Houston is looking to acquire a wide receiver in a Clowney trade, but John McClain of the Houston Chronicle says that while he does expect Clowney to be dealt, he believes the Texans are going to swap him for an offensive tackle when he signs his franchise tender.

As we heard last night, Clowney does have some control over where he gets traded since he has to sign the tender before he can be moved. McClain thinks that head coach and de facto GM Bill O’Brien already has a deal worked out with another team, but the Texans and their trade partner just have to wait until Clowney puts pen to paper.

The O-line was the Texans’ biggest weakness in 2018, and while the club made some efforts to address that unit this offseason, it’s unclear whether the additions will result in a notable uptick in performance. But, with Luck out of the picture, the AFC South landscape has changed dramatically, and Houston now looks like the favorite to bring home the division crown. Given that, and since it’s clear the Texans are never going to sign Clowney to a long-term contract, it makes sense that Houston would want to get something of value for the former No. 1 overall pick before the season starts.

Of course, it’s fair to question whether losing Clowney on the defensive side of the ball will be worse for the team than rolling with their current group of O-lineman, but it seems that Houston is set on trading him. McClain believes the team should also ask for a running back in a trade in order to offset the loss of Lamar Miller, who tore his ACL in Saturday’s preseason game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers To Cut S Josh Jones

The Packers will be cutting safety Josh Jones today, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). Jones skipped the club’s OTAs in the spring with the hope of forcing a trade, and his wish to get out of Green Bay has finally been granted.

The Packers selected Jones in the second round of the 2017 draft, and he has started 12 games over his first two years in the league. He seemed to take a step back during his sophomore season, finishing with 55 tackles, one sack, and two passes defensed in 13 games (five starts) in 2018. Pro Football Focus ended up ranking Jones 70th among 93 eligible safeties.

Green Bay invested heavily in the safety position this offseason, as the team inked former Bears safety Adrian Amos to a four-year, $36MM deal in free agency and later traded up in the first round to select Maryland safety Darnell Savage Jr.. As Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes, Amos and Savage are expected to serve as the Packers’ starting safeties in 2019, and former UDFA Raven Greene has worked ahead of Jones both at safety and at inside linebacker in sub-packages during training camp.

Demovsky also notes that Jones has not practiced in nearly two weeks because of an undisclosed illness, and he got kicked out of practice on July 31 for a hit and a fight during a non-tackling period. Plus, even though the Packers traded Ha Ha Clinton-Dix halfway though last season, Jones was not elevated into the starting lineup until rookie Kentrell Brice suffered an ankle injury in Week 10.

Clearly, Jones’ stock had plummeted in Green Bay, though he should catch on with another club fairly quickly given his youth and draft pedigree.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/24/19

Today’s minor moves:

Green Bay Packers

  • Released: RB Darrin Hall

Houston Texans

  • Released from IR with injury settlement: CB Jermaine Kelly

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed: QB Vincent Testaverde
  • Waived/Injured: OLB Kahzin Daniels

Texans RB Lamar Miller Tears ACL, Possibly MCL

Texans running back Lamar Miller suffered a torn ACL in Saturday’s preseason contest, as John McClain of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Per McClain, Miller may have also torn his MCL. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported last night that Houston feared an ACL tear for their No. 1 RB (Twitter link).

Miller will obviously miss the entire 2019 campaign, so Duke Johnson will become the team’s top running back for now. The Texans acquired Johnson from the Browns a few weeks ago, but he isn’t necessarily a workhorse type of back (though as McClain adds in a separate tweet, Johnson will get all the playing time he can handle).

The Texans don’t have much else on the depth chart behind Johnson at the moment. They have veteran Taiwan Jones, who has mostly been a special teamer in recent years, and then a bunch of unproven young/UDFA types. It’s quite possible that they’ll look to acquire a veteran either through a trade or from what’s left on the free agent market. Indeed, the club could ask for an RB in the Jadeveon Clowney trade that is expected to be consummated soon.

Among available free agents, Jay Ajayi is probably the biggest name. Ajayi would make some sense, although he obviously has a significant injury history of his own.

Miller was entering the final year of the four-year, $26MM contract he signed with Houston back in 2016, so this is a tough blow to his open market value entering next offseason. He’ll be 29 in April, and coming off a major injury, he will likely have to settle for a prove-it deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andrew Luck Retiring From NFL

Truly shocking news, as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is retiring from the NFL, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Schefter reports there will be a press conference on Sunday to formally announce the news. He writes that Luck “is mentally worn down, and now checking out.”

To say this is stunning news would be a massive understatement. In a separate tweet, Schefter writes that Luck has already met with Colts owner Jim Irsay to tell him of his decision. Luck has been dealing with a mysterious calf/ankle injury, although it wasn’t thought to be serious. The latest reporting indicated that the Colts were still hoping Luck would be ready for Week 1.

Indianapolis had known for “at least two weeks” that Luck was seriously considering retirement, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). While the news apparently didn’t completely catch the organization off-guard, it doesn’t make it all that much easier to swallow for them.

In one of the most unprecedented moves in recent league history, Luck will be hanging up his cleats at the age of 29. There will be endless discussion in the coming days about what caused him to step away, although injuries are obviously part of it. Luck was plagued with a shoulder injury that lingered for a couple of years and ended up costing him the entire 2017 season. The process was mentally exhausting and always shrouded in secrecy, but he eventually worked his way back onto the field for the start of last year.

He made a triumphant return to Indy, leading them to wins in nine of their last ten games to sneak into the playoffs. He helped the Colts topple the Texans in the first round of the playoffs before they fell to the Chiefs. The team has a lot of good young talent and made major strides under head coach Frank Reich last year.

They were expected to be a Super Bowl contender heading into 2019 and were one of the most buzzed about teams this offseason. Luck’s lower leg injury was starting to get concerning due to the limited information available, but obviously nobody ever saw this coming. With Luck stepping away, Jacoby Brissett will now take over as the team’s starter.

Brissett is widely regarded as one of the league’s best backups, so things could be worse for the Colts. The team has been expressing confidence in Brissett all offseason, which in hindsight might’ve been foreshadowing this news. After being acquired in a trade with the Patriots, Brissett started most of the 2017 season for Indy. He finished with 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, making his situation all the more interesting.

Luck’s retirement is obviously a huge boost to the rest of the AFC South, and he was 11-0 in his career against the Titans. The Colts will still have a chance to be competitive given Reich’s coaching and Brissett’s competence, but it’s hard not to see this as removing them from the list of AFC contenders.

Even with Brissett in tow, the Colts will likely be in the market for a veteran quarterback now. Their only backups are Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly, and neither has ever attempted a regular season pass. Kelly is also suspended for the first two games of the season, so he won’t be able to backup Brissett until Week 3.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what Luck will do now in his post-playing career. Given his young age, there will surely be rumors of a comeback for as long as he stays retired. Luck was apparently on the field at the Colts’ preseason game when the news broke, casually chatting with teammates, according to a tweet from Stephen Holder of The Athletic.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jadeveon Clowney Likely To Be Traded In Next 24-48 Hours?

Things appear to be reaching a head between Jadeveon Clowney and the Texans. Clowney was franchise tagged earlier this offseason, and the two sides were unable to agree on a longterm extension. Clowney has been holding out all summer, and reportedly didn’t plan to show up until just before the start of the regular season.

There have been rumors that the Texans want to trade Clowney to ensure they get something for him, and those rumors are starting to heat up. Clowney “will be traded within the next 24-to-48 hours,” according to Michael Lombardi of The Athletic (Twitter video link), who adds that he would be “shocked” if he isn’t. Lombardi also reports that “there’s a lot of teams that are after him.”

As for what Houston is looking for in terms of compensation, Lombardi says that they’re looking to add a receiver to play opposite DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans already have a very solid group of pass-catchers with Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee, but they apparently aren’t satisfied. Fuller is coming off a torn ACL and Coutee is seemingly always hurt, so maybe that has something to do with their interest in another wideout.

Lombardi says he knows of two teams that are currently negotiating with Clowney to try to get him to agree to come to them. As he points out, Clowney has some leverage and control in trade talks since he has to sign his franchise tender before he can get traded. The former first overall pick is scheduled to make 15.967MM under the tag in 2019 after being classified as a linebacker, although there have been rumblings about a potential grievance being filed to get him classified as a defensive end.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lamar Miller Carted Off With Knee Injury

The Texans may have just suffered a significant injury in their regular season dress rehearsal. Starting running back Lamar Miller went down with a knee injury and had to be carted off, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

It’s unclear how severe the injury is, although obviously the cart coming out isn’t a great sign. Miller was at least able to walk to the cart, tweets David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, so there is some hope. If you want to watch video of the play, you can view that here, courtesy of Ben Baldwin of The Athletic (Twitter link).

D’Onta Foreman was expected to be Miller’s backup coming into the season, but the Texans cut him a few weeks back after he was unable to ever fully recover from his Achilles tear. Houston traded for Duke Johnson shortly after, and they’re surely glad they acquired the former Browns running back now. That being said Johnson is more of a pass-catcher than a runner, and he likely won’t be able to take on a full workload if Miller misses regular season time.

Behind Miller and Johnson, the Texans mostly have unproven young guys. Buddy Howell, a second-year UDFA from FAU, led the team in carries in their second preseason game. Houston also signed veteran Taiwan Jones back in May, although he’s been more of a special teams guy in recent years. It’s quite possible the Texans will look to add a veteran either through a trade or free agency if Miller is going to be out a while.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Waive RB D’Onta Foreman With Injury Settlement

D’Onta Foreman‘s time with the Colts is officially over. The team has waived the young running back from injured reserve with an injury settlement, according to Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL radio (Twitter link).

This is a departure from what we initially heard after Foreman went down with a torn biceps. The Colts placed him on injured reserve, but it was reported that they planned to stash him on IR with the hopes of bringing him back to compete for a role in 2020. It’s unclear whether Indy changed their mind, or if Foreman and his representatives were able to force his way out so that he could try and play for a new team this season.

Unfortunately, Foreman’s once promising career has been derailed by injuries. The Texans drafted him in the third round in 2017, and he showed a lot of potential as a rookie. A lot of people thought he would eventually take over for Lamar Miller as Houston’s starter, but then he tore his Achilles toward the end of the season.

He had complications while recovering from it, and ended up playing in only one game in 2018. The Texans threw in the towel on the Texas product earlier this offseason, and he was quickly swooped up by the Colts. Shortly after signing, he went down with his latest serious injury. Here’s to hoping that Foreman can get back to full health wherever he ends up next.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jarrad Davis Has High Ankle Sprain

The Lions have officially dodged another bullet. After it originally appeared they might have lost two starters for the season, they’ve now got another dose of good news.

Starting linebacker Jarrad Davis is dealing with a high ankle sprain, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). We had already heard earlier today that starting center Frank Ragnow was only dealing with a minor ankle sprain. While a high ankle sprain is certainly nothing too minor, it’s definitely better than initially expected, and Rapoport writes that “the word is he’s already feeling better and it’s a long way from what many thought last night.”

That being said, Rapoport notes that Davis will still miss some regular season time. Depending on how quickly it heals, it looks like Davis will likely miss at least the first month or so of the season. It’ll be a pretty big blow to the Lions for their first handful of games, as Davis is one of their most critical players.

Drafted in the first round out of Florida back in 2017, Davis has started all 30 games that he’s appeared in over the last two seasons. Last year, he had 100 tackles and six sacks while playing 99 percent of the defensive snaps. Davis easily played the most snaps on the team last season and since Detroit’s linebacking corp is already pretty thin, they’ll be feeling his absence big time. The Lions open the season at Arizona, and they’ll be doing it without their emerging stud.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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