Redskins

Vilma, NFLPA take bounty matter back to court

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Vilma, NFLPA take bounty matter back to court

NEW ORLEANS (AP) If the Saints decide Jonathan Vilma is ready, the embattled linebacker will take the field in Tampa Bay on Sunday for the first time this season.

It might also be the last time, depending on how things go at NFL headquarters and in federal court.

On Monday, Vilma again asked a federal judge to overturn his recently re-issued suspension in the NFL's bounty probe of the Saints, and the NFL Players Association made a similar request on behalf of three other players.

None of the four players' suspensions are currently being enforced, but that could change as early as next week. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has scheduled the players' appeal hearings for Oct. 23.

The players want U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan to begin considering their cases now so she may be ready to rule by the time the NFL's appeal's process concludes.

Vilma's latest filing said Goodell conducted a ``farcical review'' of his previously overturned disciplinary action before ruling last week that the Saints linebacker would remain suspended for the season.

The NFL did not immediately respond to requests for comment, deferring instead to its legal response which is due in federal court Wednesday.

Vilma is facing the longest suspension of four players punished in connection with what the NFL has said was a pool that rewarded Saints players with improper cash bonuses for hits that injured opponents.

Saints defensive end Will Smith was docked four games, free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove seven games and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita one game. Vilma's and Smith's suspensions remain unchanged from what Goodell initially handed down. Hargrove's suspension was reduced by one game and he was given credit for five games missed as a free agent. Fujita's ban was reduced from three games.

The NFL Players Association is representing Smith, Hargrove and Fujita. Vilma has his own lawyers, Peter Ginsberg and Duke Williams.

The players said Goodell has continued to abuse his power and demonstrate bias, leaving no hope for a fair process that would respect their ``industrial due process rights.''

They also asked Berrigan to bar Goodell from handling any further action in the bounty matter and appoint a neutral arbitrator.

``The commissioner of a professional sports league is not exempt from the requirement that he or she be impartial when serving as an arbitrator, and courts vacate arbitration awards when a commissioner falls short of the required standard of impartiality in considering a particular matter,'' Vilma's new legal papers said.

In the meantime, Vilma is eligible to return to the Saints' lineup.

The linebacker has been on the club's physically unable to perform list since shortly after his initial suspension was overturned by an NFL appeal panel on Sept. 7, but now that the first six weeks of the season have passed, the Saints could activate him as early as Tuesday.

While Saints coaches declined to confirm such plans, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said it was his understanding Vilma will ``be able to practice on Wednesday, which I think is a great thing for our football team and our defense.''

Curtis Lofton has taken over Vilma's middle linebacker spot, but Spagnuolo said there is room in the lineup for both.

``Let's get them out there, practice and get ready with the one focus being figuring out what's best to help our team beat Tampa Bay,'' Spagnuolo said. ``That will be the No. 1 focus this week with nothing else in sight other than that.''

Fellow linebacker Scott Shanle said it would be difficult for a player to adjust to the Saints' new defense in one week of practice, but added that Vilma might be an exception.

``In the 10 years I've played he's the smartest linebacker I've played with,'' Shanle said. ``It was talked about a lot after the (2010) Super Bowl that it was Peyton Manning and Jonathan Vilma in an audible contest and Vilma consistently won, and our coaches always had that trust in him. So when you can get a player like that back, it's a huge boost.''

Of course, if the Saints do get Vilma back on the field this weekend, they could still lose him next week.

All four players punished in the bounty probe have asked Goodell to recuse himself from the NFL appeals process, but he has so far refused.

The NFLPA pointed out in its latest motion that although Goodell was given the power in the league's current labor agreement to discipline players for conduct detrimental to football, he may only do so if he complies with ``governing legal standards.''

The union said Goodell violated those standards by talking publicly about the players' alleged wrongdoing before the disciplinary process began, and by failing to consider conflicting witness testimony or mischaracterizations of evidence by league investigators.

``It is startling that the Commissioner has damaged the careers and reputations of the Players on such scant, contradictory and incredible sources,'' the NFLPA said.

A three-member appeals created by the NFL's labor agreement vacated the initial suspensions on Sept. 7 and told Goodell he needed to clarify the basis for his rulings. The panel noted that punishments should not have anything to do with cash paid out of the Saints' pay-for-performance pool, because an arbitrator other than the commissioner is supposed to handle such salary cap violations.

The latest legal filings point out that Goodell repeatedly mentioned pay-for-performance allegations as part of the basis for the initial punishment, and that the commissioner's decision to maintain similar suspensions highlights the lack of fairness in the process.

Saints coaches and players have acknowledged the existence of a pool that both fined players for penalties and offered rewards for big plays, including big, non-penalized hits that may have resulted in opposing players leaving games for a play or longer.

Goodell has stated that in their acknowledgement of the pool, the Saints have admitted they encouraged hits that were shown to have injured opponents. Regardless of intent, Goodell said, such a program is intolerable because it sends the message that hits that hurt opponents deserve a reward, and that can affect how players on team approach subsequent games.

Vilma and the NFLPA initially filed suit in July, but the matter was placed on hold when the NFL appeal panel vacated the initial player suspensions on technical grounds and the disciplinary phase started over.

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After Patrick Mahomes' injury, could Case Keenum or Colt McCoy be on the move?

After Patrick Mahomes' injury, could Case Keenum or Colt McCoy be on the move?

Patrick Mahomes hurt his knee Thursday night, and while the severity is unknown, Kansas City's Super Bowl plans just got dealt a major hurdle. 

The truth is if Mahomes needs knee surgery then the Chiefs might need to recalibrate their hopes for January and beyond. If Mahomes only needs rest, however, then the Redskins might actually be able to help. 

It's no secret Washington and Kansas City know how to make a trade. January 2018 the two teams worked out a blockbuster when quarterback Alex Smith came to the Redskins and cornerback Kendall Fuller along with a third-round pick went to the Chiefs. The same power brokers are in charge now that pulled off that trade: Andy Reid in KC and Bruce Allen in DC.

And oddly enough the Redskins have a bit of a surplus in veteran quarterbacks. Neither Case Keenum or Colt McCoy can replace Mahomes, the 2018 NFL MVP, but either signal caller might be able to keep the Chiefs afloat for a few weeks.

The trade deadline is approaching fast, coming October 29th. The Redskins are currently 1-5 and there is no reason to keep both Keenum and McCoy on the roster the rest of the year. 

Washington drafted Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick, and eventually, the Ohio State star will start for the Redskins. Beyond that, both Keenum and McCoy have contracts that expire after this season. Neither player figures in the long-term plans for the Burgundy and Gold, and certainly the future is to eventually go to Haskins.

Want one more mitigating factor? Even after his devestating injury last season, Alex Smith is due more than $20 million guaranteed next year. He has been at practice and games for weeks, and appears to be close with Washington upper management. It's not crazy to think that in some role Smith will be around in 2020 along with Haskins. That makes Keenum or McCoy that much more expendable down the stretch. 

If Kansas City needs somebody to run their offense for a few weeks, the Redskins should dangle McCoy or Keenum. Or both. 

It's unclear that either player would entice much of an offer, but keep in mind, McCoy is widely respected around the league and Keenum had the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game just two seasons ago. The return for Washington might not be much, but something is always more thank nothing. 

Most deals get made around necessity, and Kansas City might have a big need. 

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Fantasy Football: Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 7

Fantasy Football: Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 7

Week 7 is here and it is time to take a good look at your lineups and decide whether you like the direction your team is headed. If you are sitting at 1-5, its time to make a season-deciding trade. If you're sitting at 2-4 or .500, bolster your bench for later in the season. It's also time to stop wasting a roster spot on players that have continued to let you down.

Before we can get ready for Week 7, lineups need to be set, decisions need to be made and let's take a look at how last week's predictions fared.

Start ‘Em

QB: Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars: 163 Passing YDS, 1 INT, 4.6 PTS
RB: Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions: 34 Rushing YDS, 1 Rushing TD, 2 Receptions, 27 Receiving YDS, 14.1 PTS
WR: D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers: 7 Receptions, 73 Receiving YDS, 13 Rushing YDS, 15.6 PTS
TE: Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams: 2 Receptions, 9 Receiving YDS, 2.9 PTS

Sit 'Em

QB: Jimmy Garrapolo, San Francisco 49ers: 243 Passing YDS, 1 INT, 1 Fumble, 4 Rushing YDS, 1 Rushing TD, 12.1 PTS
RB: Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers: 18 Rushing YDS, 3 Receptions, 30 Receiving YDS, 7.7 PTS
WR: Robby Anderson, New York Jets: 5 Receptions, 125 Receiving YDS, 1 Receiving TD, 23.5 PTS
TE: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings: 3 Receptions, 36 Receiving YDS, 6.6 PTS

Week 1: 5/8

Week 2: 6/8

Week 3: 4/8

Week 4: 6/8

Week 5: 4/8

Week 6: 2/8 

Start 'Em

QB: Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
Opponent: at Falcons


The Rams travel to Atlanta in Week 7 hoping to bounce-back after a terrible performance on Sunday at home at the hands of the 49ers. Goff was especially bad, completing only 13 of 24 passes for just 78 yards and a fumble. This week’s matchup gives him the chance to bounce back. The Falcons have been a disaster in 2019 after beginning the season with high expectations and despite Matt Ryan’s solid play, the defense has been atrocious. The Falcons’ defense has allowed the third-most fantasy QB points per game thus far, and the Rams will be locked and loaded and ready to capitalize.

RB: Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers
Opponent: at Redskins


Kyle Shanahan and the unbeaten 49ers make a pit stop in the nation’s capital on Sunday and their dominant ground attack should continue to roll through every opponent in their path. Tevin Coleman is finally healthy and has been a welcome sight and will look to continue against Washington.

WR: Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
Opponent: vs. Eagles


With Amari Cooper not at 100% after suffering an injury against the Jets in Week 6, Michael Gallup will assume a larger target share regardless if Cooper is active or not against the Eagles. It couldn’t come at a more opportune time for fantasy managers who can slip him right into all lineups against a horrid Eagles secondary that gave up four touchdowns to the Vikings on Sunday as well as over 200 yards through the air. Gallup is a solid WR2 for the Sunday Night Football matchup with top-10 upside.

TE: Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
Opponent: vs. Dolphins


The Bills come off of a Week 6 bye to host the Dolphins in Buffalo. With John Brown questionable for the matchup, the only other Bills pass-catcher I have confidence is Dawson Knox, who has shown flashes throughout the season but hasn’t had the opportunity or usage to capitalize on. This matchup provides that opportunity. 
 
Sit 'Em

QB: Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
Opponent: at Titans


The Chargers had playoff intentions before the start of the season. At Week 7, they’ll be luck to sniff .500 at 8-8 if all goes well from here on out. Injuries have decimated the club. Star second-year safety Derwin James suffered a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his foot before Week 1 and underwent surgery and was placed on IR and isn’t able to return until Week 9. 

Melvin Gordon returned from his holdout but hasn’t shed the rust. Keenan Allen came out blazing but has regressed of late. Philip Rivers can’t be the deciding factor in whether the team wins or loses, and going up against a stout Titans defense, he needs to be on your bench. 

RB: David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
Opponent: vs. Saints


The Bears come off their bye in Week 7 to host Teddy Bridgewater and the New Orleans Saints. The Saints defense has been exceptional thus far at containing the run, allowing the sixth fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. The Bears' David Montgomery hasn't gotten off to the start most anticipated and this won't be the week he gets going.

WR: Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins
Opponent: vs. 49ers


The Redskins’ rookie phenom has been electric through the first six games of 2019 but faces one of the best pass defenses in football when the Burgundy and Gold host the 49ers. The San Francisco defense held Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to seven receptions and 35 receiving yards combined in Week 6 and held Odell Beckham Jr. to just two receptions for 27 yards the week prior. Curb your expectations for McLaurin on Sunday afternoon. 

TE: Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
Opponent: vs. Texans


The Colts come off of their bye with a matchup against the red-hot Houston Texans. For the Colts, the only viable pass catching option for Frank Reich should be T.Y. Hilton. With Andrew Luck retired, the offense has pumped out a few victories but the team hasn’t been utilizing the tight end as much as last season. Through 6 weeks, Jack Doyle has only posted 14 receptions for 128 yards, which is well below what you need from a viable tight end to win your matchup. Greener pastures await for Doyle, but it would be best to find another option in Week 7.

For a tiered breakdown of each fantasy football position, click below:

Quarterback Rankings: Week 7
Running Back Rankings: Week 7
Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 7
Tight End Rankings: Week 7