NFL Notes: Jets QB Christian Hackenberg ignores critics, focuses on progress

NFL Notes: Jets QB Christian Hackenberg ignores critics, focuses on progress

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Christian Hackenberg has plenty of critics, many of whom think the New York Jets' second-year quarterback will never be an NFL starter.

And that's before the former Penn State starter has even played in a regular-season game.

"That's their opinions," Hackenberg said of the naysayers. "I can't really speak for them, whoever it is."

Hackenberg was drafted in the second round last year, a pick some thought was a reach because of his struggles with the Nittany Lions in his last two seasons following a fabulous freshman campaign. He was widely considered a project who needed work on his mechanics, footwork and overall approach.

It didn't help that Hackenberg went 17 of 47 for 159 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in his two preseason appearances last summer. And, even as the quarterbacks carousel spun with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty taking turns under center during the regular season, Hackenberg never saw the field.

"I know what I can do," Hackenberg said. "And I know what my coaching staff feels I can do, so I'm just confident in my abilities. And when I get my opportunity to play, I'm going to do that."

Sounds like a guy who knows he has lots to prove -- to everyone other than himself.

"I'm confident that I can play at this level, and play at a high level," he said. "So, when I get my opportunity, I'm going to take advantage of that."

Ravens: Pitta released after 3rd hip injury
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have released tight end Dennis Pitta with an injury waiver after he hurt his right hip for a third time in practice last week.

The injury occurred during an offseason practice session Friday. Each time Pitta hurt the hip previously, the injury was serious enough to be considered career-threatening.

That appears to be the case again following his release Wednesday.

The 31-year-old Pitta began his career with Baltimore in 2010 and caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl when the Ravens won the 2012 NFL title.

Pitta first injured his hip in 2013 and hurt it again in 2014. He played in four games in 2013, three in 2014 and sat out the entire 2015 season.

Last year, however, he returned to catch 86 passes, most by a tight end in franchise history.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said last week: "Dennis is one of the great Ravens, and he has done everything he can to make our team better."

Cardinals: QB Palmer disputes notion he’s over the hill
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The national perception seems to be that Carson Palmer's skills have eroded with age, that he's lost some zip off his fastball and therefore the Arizona Cardinals are doomed to another mediocre season.

Las Vegas oddsmakers peg the Cardinals for eight wins.

The 37-year-old Palmer said he doesn't read such summertime predictions. He acknowledged that aging affects every football player, but quarterbacks less so than others.

"I think it's easier to play the quarterback position later on in your career because of the repetition," he said Wednesday after the second day of the Cardinals' three-day minicamp.

"There have been a handful of quarterbacks that have had success early in their careers," he said, "but you just look at the history of the game. Guys can have success into their 30s just because you rely so much on experience, so much on `been there, done that' type of situations."

A prime example, of course, is Tom Brady, who turns 40 this summer.

They are two distinctly different style of quarterbacks, though. Brady rarely throws deep. Palmer made his reputation on his powerful right arm.

To preserve Palmer's arm strength, coach Bruce Arians started giving him Wednesdays off midway through last season. The difference was apparent and Palmer had the Arizona offense moving late in the season.

Now, for the first time in his career, Palmer didn't throw in the winter months this year or in the early OTAs.

NFL: Police investigating assault complaint against Rex Ryan
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nashville police are investigating a misdemeanor assault complaint made by a man who says former Buffalo Bills and New York Jets coach Rex Ryan grabbed him by the neck.

Police spokesman Don Aaron said that Matthew Havel, a 30-year-old from Pueblo, Colorado, made the complaint Sunday night.

Havel told police that he saw the Ryan brothers -- Rex and former NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan -- at the Margaritaville restaurant in downtown Nashville near Bridgestone Arena. Aaron said Havel indicated he went up to the Ryans' table and was there for over an hour before Rex Ryan "reached across and grabbed at his neck."

Havel told police the incident was unprovoked.

Aaron said no arrests have been made and no charges are presently outstanding.

Rex Ryan is a longtime Nashville Predators ticket holder who has been seen at many of their playoff games, including one of their second-round road matchups in St. Louis. He also was shown Saturday smashing a Pittsburgh Penguins car for charity in front of Bridgestone Arena while Rob looked on before the Predators' Game 3 victory in the Stanley Cup Final.

Rex Ryan coached the Jets from 2009-14 and the Bills from 2015-16 before being fired in December. Rob Ryan has been a defensive coordinator for several NFL teams and was on his brother's staff in Buffalo last year.

Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

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Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

We all know just how good Carson Wentz is. Heck, the entire NFL knows just how good Wentz is after the Eagles' QB put together a remarkable season with 3,296 passing yards and 33 TD tosses ... in just 13 games.

But we and the entire league also know what that means: Wentz is going to get a lot more zeros added to his paycheck soon.

Wideout Torrey Smith, recently traded by the Eagles to the Panthers, knows full well what Wentz's worth is and isn't shy to talk about it, as he did at his charity basketball event in Maryland on Saturday evening.

"When Carson's time comes, they're going to need a Brinks truck the size of this arena," Smith, who caught 33 balls for 692 yards and two TDs from Wentz last season, told ESPN's Jamison Hensley while noting the Eagles are taking full advantage of Wentz's discounted rookie deal right now.

Wentz is in the middle of a four-year, $26.6 million deal signed after he was drafted No. 2 overall in 2016. The deal expires after the 2019 season, but obviously Howie Roseman and crew know this all is looming. And they also know recent QB contract numbers have continued to skyrocket.

San Francisco recently made Jimmy Garrapollo, he of seven career starts but also of five straight wins to end last season after his trade from New England, the richest QB in league history with a five-year, $137.5 million deal. Detroit gave Matthew Stafford a five-year, $135 million deal prior to last season, a few months after Oakland gave Derek Carr a five-year, $125 million extension. Those three are the top-paid QBs in the league.

Long story short: With the way Wentz has performed with 7,049 passing yards and 49 TDs in 29 career starts, he's going to get PAID.

And Roseman's acts of salary cap magic are going to have to continue because Wentz is going to get paid sooner than later, and the whole league knows it.

Vinny Curry reportedly heading to the Buccaneers

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Vinny Curry reportedly heading to the Buccaneers

One day after being released from the Eagles, Vinny Curry has reportedly already found a new home.

The defensive end is heading to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a three-year deal worth up to $27 million, with an $11.5 million injury guarantee, according to ESPN's Jenna Laine.

After signing him to a five-year, $47.25 million extension in 2016, the Eagles moved on from Curry and his scheduled $11 million cap hit on Friday. The transaction saved the Eagles $5 million in cap space, with $6 million in dead money.

While Curry, 29, had the best season of his career in 2017, his production still didn't match his high cap number and he became more expendable after the Eagles acquired Pro Bowler Michael Bennett from the Seahawks.

Curry will join former Eagles defensive tackle Beau Allen in Tampa Bay. Allen signed a three-year, $15 million deal with the Buccaneers earlier in the week.