The Super Bowl is now less than a week away as the football world prepares for an onslaught of media coverage in coming days that will culminate with the NFL crowning either Denver or Carolina as the new world champion. As usual, there was no shortage of NFL news over the weekend that began with yet another Johnny Manziel headline and ended with the Pro Bowl. The most significant headline of the weekend came from the Motor City, as the fantasy world has likely seen the last of a perennial stud at the wide receiver position. Let’s dig right in and highlight news and notes from around the NFL in Monday’s Daily Dose.
Megatron Ready To Retire
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Calvin Johnson met with Jim Caldwell after the conclusion of the regular season and informed the Detroit coach that he had played his last NFL season. Caldwell instructed his top offensive weapon to take more time to think about the decision, but Schefter reports that Johnson is “pretty content with his decision.” The great Megatron will celebrate his 31st birthday next September and appears set to enjoy that day relaxing in retirement. If no reversal of this decision is made before the 2016 season kicks off, Johnson will finish his incredible NFL career with 731 catches for 11,619 receiving yards and 83 touchdowns over nine seasons that included three consecutive All-Pro selections in 2011-2013. One of the absolute best players to play the wide receiver position, Johnson’s retirement is a sad day for football fans everywhere.
So, where does this leave the Lions? After another sudden retirement reminiscent of Barry Sanders’ early departure, Detroit will enter the 2016 season missing the player who was targeted on 24 percent of the Lions’ passing attempts last season and who was responsible for 27 percent of the receiving yardage on the team. The only other players to catch more than 50 passes for the Lions in 2015 were wide receiver Golden Tate and running back Theo Riddick, leaving Detroit in desperate need of receiving help moving forward. Tight end Eric Ebron improved his production in 2015, but won’t do much to fill the cavernous hole in the Lions’ offense left by Johnson’s retirement. Detroit holds the 16th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and with an impending free agent class light on wide receiver talent, OC Jim Bob Cooter’s offense could be hurting next season.
If this is indeed the end, Megatron was certainly the most fearsome of all Decepticons and a true pleasure to watch dominate in the NFL.
Manziel Drama Continues
Cleveland quarterback Johnny Manziel was back in the news over the weekend as Fort Worth Police were called to investigate a potential assault early on Saturday morning. Manziel’s ex-girlfriend was uncooperative with police, but did speak of “concerns that she had regarding the well-being of her ex-boyfriend.” These comments launched a search of the area for Manziel, who turned up safe although Fort Worth Police are still “actively working” on the case. This latest scrape with the law puts Manziel’s 2016 playing status in further jeopardy and has dealt another blow to the chances that Cleveland keeps the young quarterback next season. New head coach Hue Jackson will likely look to move on from the headaches that Manziel brings to the organization, so Josh McCown has a good shot to start in Cleveland next season depending on what the Browns cook up over the offseason with the second overall selection in the NFL Draft.
Offseason Roster Rumors
Chris Ivory will hit free agency this offseason and would like to return to the Jets, but understands that salary cap restraints may prevent that from happening. “I would like to stay in New York if we reach an agreement. But I know the cap space they're working with and everything and the other guys they have to get signed or want to get signed back,” Ivory said. The Jets were 10th among NFL offenses in rushing in 2015 behind Ivory and Bilal Powell, who is also not under contract in 2016. … CSN Washington’s Rich Tandler delivered insight on the future of the Redskins roster over the weekend, and Jay Gruden’s squad has the potential to look vastly different in 2016. Running back Alfred Morris will be a free agent but after just 3.7 yards per carry in 2015, Tandler believes the organization is likely to let Morris walk and hand their backfield duties to Matt Jones and Chris Thompson. At wide receiver, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon were mentioned as potential salary cap casualties, depending on what shakes out over the offseason. Washington is awfully thin at wide receiver behind Garcon and Jackson, so perhaps the cap savings will be ignored to keep Kirk Cousins’ targets in town next season.
The Miami Herald believes the Dolphins are not in the market for a new quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft, meaning Ryan Tannehill should have a competition-free offseason as he attempts to rebound from a rough 2015 season under new coach Adam Gase. … Danny Amendola could free some salary cap space for New England over the offseason if the Patriots decide to cut the veteran receiver, but CSN New England’s Tom E. Curran believes that will not be the case. Fellow wide receiver Brandon LaFell’s future is dicey in New England after a slow season as well, so the Patriots could be in the market for help on the outside to go with Amendola and Julian Edelman. … James Starks is set to test free agency this offseason after a career-high 148 carries and 601 rushing yards in 2015. Pete Dougherty of Packers News believes that Starks will re-sign with Green Bay and compete once again with Eddie Lacy, who Starks topped in total yardage last season. … Marvin Jones’ contract in Cincinnati has expired, putting the young wide receiver on the open market this offseason. ESPN New England’s Mike Reiss believes that the Patriots could be interested in the services of Jones, who racked up a career-high 816 yards in 2015.
Injury Quick Slants
Cincinnati tight end Tyler Eifert (foot) was injured during the Pro Bowl on Sunday, and was seen in a protective boot after the game. No breaks were found after initial tests, so the Bengals are hopeful that their young playmaker will be fine for offseason work. … Dez Bryant (foot) expects to be ready for OTAs after wrapping up another surgery on his injured wheel. With Tony Romo back healthy, Dez will be set to return to top-level fantasy production in 2016. … Denver SS T.J. Ward (ankle) and FS Darian Stewart (knee) are dinged up, but both defensive backs vowed to play in Super Bowl 50. … Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown (shoulder) expects to be cleared soon and is a good bet to be healthy for the start of OTAs. If McCown grabs the starting role once again for the Browns, he could return to a far better situation than last season with Hue Jackson taking over the team and Josh Gordon back in the mix at wide receiver. … Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a “minor scope” done on his knee after Green Bay was eliminated from the playoffs by Arizona. Rodgers has plenty of time to heal before the 2016 season fires up.