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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The next owner of the Carolina Panthers will set the market for other NFL teams that might go up for sale in the next five years. The next owner likely will not live in Charlotte, even though the team probably will remain here for years because this is where the league wants it. The next owner might even not be among the half-dozen reported potential bidders.

These are things we know.

What we don’t know is who will be the next owner of the organization that founder Jerry Richardson put up for sale after the 2017 season amidst an NFL investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct ranging from sexual harassment to the use of a racial slur toward a former team scout.

We don’t know when the purchase will be completed, though nothing appears imminent. The bidding process, which league sources say hasn’t officially begun, could take months. Sources tell ESPN that the bidding likely will begin in March and could conclude by the May 21-23 spring meeting in Atlanta.

Richardson can accept or reject any bid, and the process could take several rounds of counter-bids before both sides reach an agreeable price.

Then three-quarters of the 32 owners must approve the sale, and that occurs after approval by the league’s finance committee.

The spring meetings might be an optimistic timeline for approval.

The Buffalo Bills, the last NFL team sold, went on the market following the March 25, 2014, death of owner Ralph Wilson. The sale, for an NFL-record $1.4 billion, didn’t get approval from the finance committee until September and wasn’t finalized by owners until Oct. 8.

In other words, this is a lengthy process just like the sale of any corporation.

The Panthers have been valued at $2.3 billion, according to Forbes. They could be sold for that or more. They also could be sold for less — maybe considerably less.

It all depends on how many legitimate bidders there are to drive up the price. As it is now, there are only two real bidders: David Tepper and Ben Navarro.

Among the potential bidders reported so far, Tepper, the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ minority owner, appears to be the most solid in terms of having the capital to put up the required 30 percent of the selling price. If the team were to sell for $2.3 billion, that means $690 million up front.

Tepper, the founder of the global hedge fund firm Appaloosa Management, has a net worth of $11 billion, according to Forbes. He currently owns 5 percent of the Steelers. He caused an estimated $120 million tax loss for the state of New Jersey when he moved from there to Florida in 2016.

NFL executives have wondered if Tepper will open the floodgates or be a disciplined investor if he wins. The Panthers spent $198 million on the team in 2017, the second-most (the Lions spent $204 million) in the league, according to numbers released Monday by the NFLPA.

Because there appears to be a lack of other solid bidders, Tepper is the front-runner — at least for now.

Navarro, the founder of Charleston, South Carolina-based Sherman Financial Group LLC, was reported first by the Charlotte Observer as a potential Panthers bidder. He has a net worth of $3 billion, but sources tell ESPN that his assets are liquid enough to satisfy the 30 percent outlay.

Navarro could be a solid candidate from a financial standpoint, but he is not ideal from a sector standpoint. Sherman Financial Group and its affiliated companies buy delinquent consumer debt, mostly from credit card bills, in hopes of collecting what is owed and taking a cut.

While it’s a tremendous business that Navarro has built to more than $2 billion in annual revenue, sources tell ESPN that the litigious nature of the debt collection industry has NFL owners concerned about having an NFL owner’s name affiliated with such a business.

In 2014, Sherman had to pay $175,000 after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged the company with unlawful debt collection.

Given all the negative public relations the league has suffered — from safety and health issues to ownership battles and much more — it becomes harder to see Navarro winning. But he and Tepper are the major players known now.

Insiders are aware that multiple NFL teams likely will hit the market in the next five years, which could keep the Panthers’ price below $2.3 billion.

The Tennessee Titans were asking for $500 million for a third of the team last year, according to league sources. They pulled back when they received an offer for only $300 million. That means the market, at least privately, valued the Titans at $900 million instead of the $1.5 billion they hoped. Nonetheless, expect the Titans to be back on the market soon.

The declining health of owners in New Orleans and Denver could lead those teams to be put for sale in the next five years, which means the marketplace could see the Panthers go for lower than expected because there’s an expectation that other opportunities will be out there, including a gem in the Broncos.

While many have fixated on the Forbes number of $2.3 billion, no team in the past five transactions has traded for more than five times revenue. With Forbes putting the Panthers team revenue at $380 million, a five-times revenue evaluation has the team selling for $1.9 billion.

Some of the potential bidders for the Panthers have already taken themselves out of the equation. That is the case for Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, the brothers who owned 80 percent of the Ultimate Fighting Championship before it was sold for $4 billion a year and a half ago.

They expressed initial interest in buying the Panthers, but sources told ESPN they now are out. The brothers engaged Rain Capital to explore the financials of the deal but knew that with their ownership of Red Rock Resorts Inc. — Frank is the chairman and CEO of the casino and entertainment company; Lorenzo is a board member — approval would be tough.

Although the league one day might accept owners who own gambling interests, that time does not appear to be now.

It doesn’t make sense for the Fertittas to liquidate their investment. That said, expect the Fertittas to be bidders for NFL teams in the next five years and, one day, owners.

There also are bit players who are interested in the Panthers but don’t have the financial wherewithal without a majority owner.

Several high-profile NASCAR drivers, including seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, reportedly have expressed interest in being minority owners with a group headed by Felix Sabates, who does not have the capital to be the primary investor.

The same goes for two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, a Charlotte native, who has expressed interest along with rap star Sean “P. Diddy” Combs in becoming a minority owner.

Speedway Motorsports founder Bruton Smith and his son, SMI president and COO Marcus Smith, have said in the past that they were interested in purchasing the team and have done initial research into what it would take. They don’t appear to have the capital to be the majority owner.

The NFL allows up to 25 owners as long as one person puts down 30 percent. Richardson owns 48 percent of the Panthers.

Often in the sale of an NFL franchise, the names of potential owners don’t become known until the bids are in or the sale is close to complete. That means there could be other potential bidders out there.

The Panthers have hired Steve Greenberg of New York investment bank Allen & Co. to help with the process. The banking and legal team have worked to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Nets and other big-name sports franchises in recent years.

That we also know. But there’s still a lot more unknown than known.

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Jazmine Sullivan, Eric Church to sing national anthem at Super Bowl LV



NEW YORK — R&B star Jazmine Sullivan and country singer Eric Church will join forces to sing the national anthem at the next month’s Super Bowl LV, where Grammy-winning singer H.E.R. will perform “America the Beautiful.”

The performances will take place Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, before the big game and halftime show starring The Weeknd. It will air on CBS.

Deaf rapper and recording artist Warren “WAWA” Snipe will perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” in American Sign Language. Emmy-nominated musical director Adam Blackstone will arrange and produce Church and Sullivan’s rendition of the national anthem.

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company is executive producing the halftime show for a second year. Jesse Collins, who has produced the BET Awards and is working on this year’s Grammys and Oscars telecasts, will serve as an executive producer.

Sullivan rose to the top of the R&B charts in 2008 with her debut single and album. She’s earned 12 Grammy nominations and written songs for Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Monica. Her new album, “Heaux Tales,” debuted at No. 4 on this week’s all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart.

Church, a 10-time Grammy nominee, released his debut album in 2006 and has topped the country charts with songs like “Drink In My Hand,” “Springsteen,” “Talladega” and “Record Year.” He’s released multiple multiplatinum and platinum albums and was named entertainer of the year at last year’s Country Music Association Awards.

H.E.R. won two Grammys in 2019 and has earned critical acclaim for her live performances, including her work as a guitarist. She’s won honors at the MTV Video Music Awards, BET Awards and Soul Train Music Awards and launched R&B hits such as “Focus,” “Best Part,” “Slide,” “Damage” and “B.S.” with Jhené Aiko.

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NFL free agency 2021 – Biggest upcoming player decision for all 32 teams



The 2020 NFL playoffs are down to the top four teams heading into championship weekend. However, that also means that 28 other teams have begun their offseasons. Ahead of them looms free agency and the 2021 NFL draft to help shore up weaknesses and holes in their rosters.

There are several teams that just hired new general managers and head coaches who are eager to get to rebuilding their teams, while others who fell just short in the postseason are asking themselves how they can get over the hump.

With that in mind, we asked our NFL Nation reporters to identify the top looming free-agent decision each organization has to make and how likely each is to part ways with the player:

Jump to:
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF


Offensive tackle Daryl Williams. The addition of Williams this offseason helped the Bills feel comfortable moving second-year lineman Cody Ford to guard to start the season. Williams has been a rock in his best season since being named second-team All-Pro in 2017. However, with Jon Feliciano and Matt Milano arguably taking precedence over Williams among the Bills’ free agents, Williams might have played himself into a contract that Buffalo can no longer afford — especially with the salary cap projected to shrink and Josh Allen commanding an even larger deal than previously expected. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Dolphins GM Chris Grier publicly committed to Tua Tagovailoa as the 2021 starting quarterback, but head coach Brian Flores was noncommittal when asked if Fitzpatrick would return as a backup, citing the need for a full roster evaluation. Fitzpatrick, 38, will have a decision on whether to retire, but he played well in his two seasons with the Dolphins, transitioning them from rebuilding to contending, so he likely will be offered a notable free-agent contract from another team. If he keeps playing, the expectation is Fitzpatrick will move on to a team that provides him a chance to be a bridge starting quarterback or compete for a starting job. The Dolphins would need to sign and/or draft another backup quarterback. — Cameron Wolfe

Center David Andrews. There are a lot of other notable choices — quarterback Cam Newton, guard Joe Thuney and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy among them — but Andrews gets the nod as a four-time captain and heart-and-soul member of the organization on and off the field. He sets the protection at the line of scrimmage and thus will be a critical extension to whoever is lining up at quarterback, which is another huge question for the Patriots. That’s why the odds seem higher they will work hard to re-sign him. — Mike Reiss

Safety Marcus Maye. The Jets are on record as saying they want to re-sign Maye, their team MVP. Of course, they said the same thing about wide receiver Robby Anderson (he bolted as a free agent) and safety Jamal Adams (traded). So you never know. Maye is a steady, if not stellar, player who is in line for a big payday ($8 million to $10 million-a-year range). This is just his second contract, but he will be 28 for the season. The front office likes his intangibles, and he should be a good fit in Robert Saleh’s zone-based scheme. — Rich Cimini


Pass-rusher Matthew Judon or Yannick Ngakoue. The Ravens have to decide which free-agent outside linebacker to invest in. Judon is the more all-around linebacker, and Ngakoue is considered the better pure rusher. Baltimore has tried to get an extension with Judon, but he has been seeking a contract worth $20 million per season, according to a source. The Ravens could put the franchise tag on Ngakoue, but he’s been a disappointment since they traded a third-round pick for him in October. Ngakoue played just 20 snaps in Baltimore’s playoff loss, which suggests he might not be in the team’s long-term plans. Four of the Ravens’ five outside linebackers are pending free agents: Judon, Ngakoue, Pernell McPhee and Tyus Bowser. — Jamison Hensley

Defensive end Carl Lawson. Lawson might not have had big sack numbers, but he created 10.5 sacks in 2020, according to ESPN Stats & Information and NFL Next Gen. The Bengals would be wise to try to give Lawson a long-term deal. But the big question will be whether Lawson will want to stay in Cincinnati or go to a place where he might be more likely to get sacks. — Ben Baby

Wide receiver Rashard Higgins. The Browns brought Higgins back on a one-year deal from last season, with Mayfield helping convince Higgins to re-sign. Higgins, in turn, has been a huge part of Baker Mayfield‘s resurgence since taking over for the injured Odell Beckham Jr. in the starting lineup in Week 7. The Browns have a lot of money committed at wide receiver, in OBJ and Jarvis Landry. But given Higgins’ rapport with Mayfield, it seems prudent for Cleveland to get a multiyear deal done. — Jake Trotter

Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Ben Roethlisberger wants him back. Smith-Schuster wants to be back. But the Steelers rarely give second contracts to wide receivers, the only two going to Hines Ward and Antonio Brown. Smith-Schuster was an indispensable member of the offense — especially for his gritty yards after catch and dependability on third downs, but history isn’t on his side. Neither is the salary cap. To re-sign Smith-Schuster, the Steelers will have to pull off more cap wizardry, a trick made even more difficult by Roethlisberger’s $41.2 million cap hit. All of that suggests the Steelers let him walk and rely on Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and James Washington to be the future at the position. — Brooke Pryor


Wide receiver Will Fuller. The wide receiver, playing on his fifth-year option, was setting himself up for a huge new contract before he was suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Even with the suspension, Fuller might still get a big deal, and it could come from Houston. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson said in December, after the receiver was suspended, that it’s “very important” that Fuller is back. The Texans, of course, still are navigating Watson’s frustration with their search for a general manager, but re-signing Fuller could be a way to keep Watson in Houston. — Sarah Barshop

Quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers has told the Colts that he’s “not 100% sure” he wants to play an 18th NFL season. The two sides will take the next month to decide which direction to go. The Colts want Rivers, 39, but they aren’t going to sit back and wait on him to make up his mind. They’ll be evaluating quarterbacks around the league and continue scouting potential draft picks. If Rivers does not return, the Colts could have their third different starting quarterback in as many seasons, because Jacoby Brissett is heading into free agency. — Mike Wells

Offensive tackle Cam Robinson. He was up-and-down in pass protection this season and hasn’t become the dominant player the Jags envisioned when they drafted him in the second round in 2017. He did deal with a torn ACL in 2018, but that shouldn’t have been an issue in 2020. Do the Jags want an inconsistent player protecting Trevor Lawrence’s blind side or will they try to upgrade in free agency or the draft? — Mike DiRocco

Wide receiver Corey Davis. The Titans finally had a potent 1-2 punch at wide receiver last season. Davis took advantage of coverage that focused mostly on A.J. Brown. The chemistry that Davis developed with Ryan Tannehill yielded a 70% catch rate and single-season career highs in yards (984) and touchdowns (five). It’s going to be pricey, but the Titans will figure out how to bring Davis back. — Turron Davenport


Safety Justin Simmons. This is near the top of newly hired general manager George Paton’s to-do list. Inside the locker room, many of Simmons’ teammates wonder what, exactly, a guy has to do to get re-signed. Simmons has played every snap of the last three seasons, he’s been named to a Pro Bowl and been a second-team All-Pro selection over those three seasons. He is one of the Broncos’ most active players in the community and was the Broncos’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2020. Certainly the Broncos could place the franchise tag on him once again, as they did this past season, but a new deal keeps one of the best players in house and shows the team is interested in rewarding effort. Yes, the deal has to make sense for the Broncos, but not re-signing Simmons will cause many of his teammates to think, “If he can’t get a new deal from the Broncos, how will I?” — Jeff Legwold

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins hasn’t posted great numbers since joining the Chiefs in 2018 but the offense has been more productive when he’s in the lineup than when he’s not. The Chiefs don’t appear to have his replacement on their roster as a No. 2 wide receiver. It’s difficult to picture the Chiefs being able to afford Watkins again, given a tight salary-cap situation. But both sides were motivated to get a deal done last year, when Watkins agreed to a reduced contract in order to remain with the team. — Adam Teicher

Offensive lineman Denzelle Good. Yeah, receiver Nelson Agholor had a career year with 896 receiving yards, an 18.7 yards-per-catch average and eight touchdowns. But with the Raiders likely needing to slash salary to get under the cap, Agholor might command more than they can afford. Good, meanwhile, was the Raiders’ do-everything man on the O-line, filling in admirably at both right tackle and left guard. And with huge question marks surrounding right tackle Trent Brown and left guard Richie Incognito, Good probably is the smarter call here. After all, both coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr said Good was the team’s unsung hero and team MVP last year. — Paul Gutierrez

Tight end Hunter Henry. The 26-year-old been solid, but his injuries are confusing things for both sides. The Chargers thought he would make it through the season, but he missed the last two games. Henry is a valuable tight end for the Chargers, and they will try to keep him. But he could have many suitors. — Shelley Smith


Quarterback Dak Prescott. No, this is not a copy-and-paste from last year. He remains the signature piece to the offseason plans. The Cowboys want to sign him to a long-term deal, but they also wanted to do that in 2019 and ’20. If they can’t get a long-term deal, then they will place the franchise tag on him again at a cost of $37.7 million. With the tag or a long-term deal, Prescott’s contract will chew up a good portion of the cap space, and that will affect Dallas’ ability to lure free agents or keep players currently under contract. Perhaps this time the Cowboys and Prescott’s agent, Todd France, will actually have real negotiations before the mid-June deadline if he is tagged again. — Todd Archer



Damien Woody explains that the Cowboys have the worst offense in the NFL since Dak Prescott has been out and says it’s time to change things up in Dallas.

Defensive lineman Leonard Williams. He played this season on the franchise tag ($16.1 million) and had a monster year with 11.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hits, which was third in the NFL. That said, to sign him long term will be costly. How much are the Giants willing to pay? How much will Williams want? He has been insistent that money is not his top priority. Still, he will be costly, and the Giants can’t afford to lose him. No one else had more than four sacks. The Giants need to add pass-rushers, not subtract them. — Jordan Raanan

Defensive back Jalen Mills. He moved from corner to safety in 2020 and improved along the way. He was a starting corner on their 2017 championship defense and has been a locker room leader, but the new defensive coordinator will have to decide if he’s a system fit. — Tim McManus

Guard Brandon Scherff. He played on the franchise tag this season en route to becoming the first Washington player to be named first-team All-Pro since punter Matt Turk in 1996. There was some thought last offseason among those who know Scherff that he might not want to commit here long term, but after coach Ron Rivera’s first season, Scherff seemed enthused about returning, saying he “absolutely” wanted to come back. Rivera wants to build strong lines, and if that’s the case Scherff must be retained. In November 2019, Philadelphia made three-time Pro Bowler Brandon Brooks the highest-paid guard with a four-year deal worth $54.2 million. It makes sense if Scherff’s deal is close to this figure. — John Keim


Wide receiver Allen Robinson. Robinson set a career high with 102 receptions last year, but the Bears have been reluctant to pay the 27-year-old receiver top dollar. Contract talks between the Bears and Robinson’s agent went nowhere during the season. The Bears value Robinson but seem content to let the veteran wideout test the market instead of paying him top-five-receiver money. Chicago could use the franchise tag, but that seems unlikely given the expected decrease in the league’s salary cap. The Bears are bracing for the real possibility that Robinson leaves via free agency. — Jeff Dickerson

Wide receiver Kenny Golladay. The Lions didn’t get a deal done with him in-season and now the question for the new regime is whether to franchise-tag him, sign him to a long-term deal or let him walk in free agency. The most plausible solution here could be to tag Golladay to buy time to either A) work out a long-term deal once they figure out how a barren receiver room might be constructed or B) seek potential trade partners if he’s not part of the long-term plan, similar to what the Texans did with Jadeveon Clowney and the Jaguars did with Ngakoue last offseason. It’s also possible Golladay plays for Detroit in 2021 and the sides figure out something from there, but it’s tough to see the club completely letting him walk considering the 27-year-old’s talent and age. — Michael Rothstein

Running back Aaron Jones. The Packers had a deal on the table that would have made Jones among the top five highest-paid backs in the league, but that was in terms of average per year. The big guaranteed money was missing. So Jones turned it down and then opted to change agents, hiring Drew Rosenhaus. The Packers continue to see how valuable Jones is — just look at his 60-yard run to open the second half of the playoff game against the Rams — but it’s hard to imagine them upping their guaranteed money, especially if they want to re-sign All Pro center Corey Linsley. Perhaps the decision already has been made to let him go — or least hit the market — but it couldn’t have been an easy one. — Rob Demovsky

Linebacker Eric Wilson. The Vikings’ biggest offseason roster decisions center around the likes of Kyle Rudolph and Riley Reiff, both of whom are under contract for 2021 but whose futures in Minnesota are up in the air in part because of the need to create salary-cap space. Wilson, however, could soon be hitting the open market after putting together a strong season in which he played every defensive snap following an injury to Anthony Barr in the first quarter of Week 2. Minnesota can’t afford to keep three linebackers on the roster with how much Barr ($12.3 million) and Eric Kendricks ($8.15 million) are set to make in 2021. But the team must decide whether it can keep Wilson and potentially execute a trade for Barr or move on from the Pro Bowl linebacker. Given the financial implications (dead money), that seems unlikely. And if Wilson can command a $9 million-$10 million salary in free agency, there’s a high likelihood he ends up elsewhere. — Courtney Cronin


Kicker Younghoe Koo. Safety Keanu Neal is a high priority, too, but having a reliable kicker is so valuable and impacts the way the game is called. He’s coming off by far the best year of his career (37 of 39 field goals made), and if the Falcons can lock him down for reasonable money, that’ll be one area new coach Arthur Smith won’t have to worry about. — Mike DiRocco

Offensive tackle Taylor Moton. One could argue wide receiver Curtis Samuel here, but the Panthers don’t have enough cap room to sign both. They need Moton to anchor the right side of the line as they search for a franchise left tackle. Samuel is a nice piece to have, but they can replace him with a healthy Christian McCaffrey and a cheaper free agent or draft pick. — David Newton

Defensive end Trey Hendrickson. The Saints have a lot of big decisions to make, including whether they want to bring back Jameis Winston as a starting quarterback candidate and make expensive long-term commitments to 2022 free agents such as Terron Armstead, Ryan Ramczyk, Marshon Lattimore and Taysom Hill. But Hendrickson is the most fascinating 2021 free agent. It will be interesting to see how the Saints and the rest of the NFL value him after an unexpected breakout season with 13.5 sacks that probably priced him out of New Orleans. — Mike Triplett

Offensive tackle Donovan Smith. Smith won’t be a free agent in 2021, but in 2022. However, 2021 is when the guaranteed money is up in his contract, which has him slated to make $14.25 million next year. He’s had an up-and-down career, but he did turn in one of his best performances in the wild-card round against Chase Young. Still, with the success Tristan Wirfs had as a rookie right tackle, might the Bucs be looking to turn the page, especially when they have several key players becoming free agents in Chris Godwin, Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Ndamukong Suh? — Jenna Laine


Cornerback Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals’ fifth-overall pick in 2011 has played his entire career with Arizona and has been a model and elite cornerback. He made eight straight Pro Bowls to start his career but began a slight decline in 2019 when he was suspended six games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Ever since, receivers are catching more passes against him and Peterson hasn’t been the lockdown corner he was earlier in his career. At 30, he wants another big deal — like the extension he received in 2014 — but the Cardinals didn’t commit to anything, and his contract expires in March. What the Cardinals do with Peterson will hinge on what they do around him. Robert Alford, who signed before the 2019 season, has yet to play a down because of injuries, and Byron Murphy is more of an inside corner. In theory, Arizona would need to solidify the position before letting Peterson walk. — Josh Weinfuss

Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. The Rams have a few defensive playmakers, including safety John Johnson III and cornerback Troy Hill, who are pending free agents, but with the NFL’s premium on pass-rushers, that could mean Floyd is likely to be the most pursued. Rams coach Sean McVay gave an unequivocal yes when asked if he wanted Floyd to return. But it could come down to whether the Rams can afford to keep the 2016 first-round pick who tallied a career-best 10.5 sacks this season. — Lindsey Thiry

Offensive tackle Trent Williams. He’s the 49ers’ top priority, and he has made it clear he’d like to stay, but it’s not that simple. The Niners cannot tag Williams, which means he could be one of the only premier left tackles ever to hit the open market. Williams has said “it would be interesting to kind of see what [my] value holds” and if that value goes to a place the 49ers might not be able to handle given their salary-cap constraints, they could find themselves with a difficult decision. Odds are the sides will work something out, but if that doesn’t happen before free agency begins, the Niners might have to sweat it out and, if they lose him, find themselves with a massive need at one of the most important positions in football. — Nick Wagoner

Cornerback Shaquill Griffin. Griffin and running back Chris Carson are two players the Seahawks want to keep, but evidently not badly enough to try to extend either last offseason when each was heading into the last year of his rookie deal. Griffin made the Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2019. He’s well-liked in the organization, and he’s answered the question of whether he can take the ball away, with three interceptions in 2020 matching his combined total from his first three seasons. How far the Seahawks will go to re-sign him could depend to some degree on how much they have to pay strong safety Jamal Adams, who’s in line for a massive extension. Adams likely is Seattle’s top offseason contract priority. — Brady Henderson

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New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas likely to have multiple surgeries on ankle



New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas is likely to have surgeries on both the torn deltoid and other injured ligaments in his high ankle this offseason, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

Thomas knew it was likely Drew Brees‘ last year and didn’t want to miss out on the final opportunity to try and win a Super Bowl with him. He often wouldn’t practice all week yet would still play in games — at much less than 100% — after taking pain medication, the source said.

The coaches told him even as injured as he was, they were much better off with him than without him, the source said.

Thomas played in just seven regular-season games in 2020 because of a nagging ankle injury that he suffered in Week 1. He returned from injured reserve for the NFC wild-card game vs. Chicago, scoring his first touchdown of the season, after the Saints decided to rest him over the final three games of the regular season to try and get him as close to 100% as possible for the playoffs.

The NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2019 after setting a league record with 149 catches, Thomas had just 40 receptions for 438 yards with no touchdowns in seven games this season.

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