INDIANAPOLIS — Despite the amount of uncertainty rooted in what the Minnesota Vikings will do at quarterback in 2018 and beyond, general manager Rick Spielman said no decisions have been made regarding the team’s plans at the position.
Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford are slated to become unrestricted free agents on March 14. Whether any of the three will be back in a Vikings uniform next season has yet to be determined.
“We’re just right now still in the process of all three quarterbacks,” Spielman said at the scouting combine. “Gives me and us, our organization, an opportunity to sit down face-to-face with all three of the quarterbacks’ representatives. I think we’re in a very unique situation because of the in-depth knowledge we have on all three. Also, the practical game knowledge that we have because all those guys have played for us. There’s been no decisions made, unlike what’s been reported.”
Spielman said he will sit down with the agents and representatives of the three current Vikings quarterbacks soon to get a better feel for how the franchise will decide to move forward as free agency approaches.
“Speaking with the agents — you can speak with them over the phone — but when you get a chance to sit down one-on-one and talk to those, you’ll get a little bit more clarity on the direction you could potentially go.”
According to Spielman, the Vikings also have not decided whether they will use their franchise tag on Keenum before the window closes at 4 p.m. ET on March 6. Franchising Keenum would cost around $23 million on a one-year tender.
Regarding multiple reports that Bridgewater will indeed become a free agent in two weeks, Spielman spoke to the nature of the quarterback’s contract, which he believes will not toll in 2018.
“The one thing I want to make clear on the Teddy Bridgewater contract is that we’ve been in direct contact with the league. The league will make the final decision on the tolling contract. What’s been reported out there — to my knowledge — I don’t think the contract will toll, but the league will finalize that and have an announcement here in the near future.
“Teddy has been such a great teammate, is a great person, has been great for our organization. Any time our organization can reach out and help a player, even though it may not benefit us, we’re always going to try to look out for the best interest of our players.”
Women amend lawsuits vs. Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson to disclose names; 1 plaintiff withdraws suit ‘for now’
HOUSTON — Twenty women who had filed lawsuits alleging inappropriate behavior and sexual assault against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson have amended their petitions to disclose their names.
Another lawsuit is expected to be refiled by Thursday after an emergency hearing was canceled on Wednesday.
One of the original 22 lawsuits was dropped by a plaintiff “for now,” according to court documents.
“In light of privacy and security concerns, Plaintiff has decided not to pursue her case, for now,” the document said. “Plaintiff reserves the right to refile this case once such concerns are addressed.”
On Friday, two judges ruled that most of the plaintiffs suing Watson must identify themselves. The rulings from two hearings Friday covered 13 of the 22 lawsuits filed against Watson, while the attorneys also agreed to release a 14th name later in the day. Before Friday, only two women had been publicly identified. Another emergency hearing to determine whether the remaining lawsuits should be amended had been scheduled for Wednesday but was called off shortly before it was scheduled to begin.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Tony Buzbee, said in a statement Tuesday that his law firm “previously attempted to make available to Defense Counsel the names of the plaintiffs suing Deshaun Watson, and intended to do so in due course.”
“We were concerned about the safety of these plaintiffs, and asked the Watson team to agree to a protective order where the identities could be used in litigation, but not broadcast to the world,” Buzbee’s statement continued.
In a statement last week, Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said that when his law firm asked Buzbee “to identify his clients weeks ago, he refused and told us to file a motion.”
“While I understand that anonymity often is used as a shield for victims, Mr. Buzbee is using it as a sword,” Hardin said in a statement on Thursday. “While shielding his clients from public scrutiny, Mr. Buzbee continues to use their anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson. This is simply not right. And we look forward to resolving these matters in court.”
In memo, NFL outlines rules for offseason program, with only minicamp being mandatory
The NFL on Wednesday sent a memo to teams outlining rules for its offseason programs — rules the league has decided to impose after failing to reach agreement with its players’ union on some key aspects.
The parts of the offseason program that are voluntary under the CBA — everything but the annual mandatory June minicamps — will remain so. But while the NFLPA has publicly called for the entire offseason to be conducted virtually in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the league is telling teams that on-field work will be permitted.
Phase 1 of the offseason program, which reflects what the players requested, will run from April 19 through May 14. All meetings will be conducted virtually, and no on-field work will be permitted. The league says it wants to use this phase to focus on vaccine education efforts and making vaccines available to players, team staff and their families as soon as their various local regulations permit.
Phase 2 will run from May 17 through May 21. It will remain voluntary and meetings will remain virtual, but on-field drills will be permitted under the normal Phase 2 guidelines (which prohibit contact and limit the amount of time spent on the field per day). Annual post-draft rookie minicamps will be held in the week of Phase 2.
Phase 3 will be a traditional Phase 3 that runs from May 24 through June 18 and will include the normal 10 days of voluntary OTA work as well as the mandatory minicamps. Meetings during this phase will be allowed to be conducted virtually or in-person, and applying the COVID-19 rules about testing, contact tracing and limits on the numbers of people allowed in various parts of the team facility.
Players who participate in meetings or workouts virtually will still be entitled to their $250 per diems, which was an important part of the NFLPA’s request during the negotiations on offseason programs.
The league will not require players or staff to be vaccinated, but it is waiting to hear back from the NFLPA on its vaccine-related proposal that would ease COVID restrictions on vaccinated players and on teams with personnel that reaches a certain percentage threshold of vaccinations. Under the league’s proposal, players who have been vaccinated would be subject to less testing and fewer contact tracing restrictions and would have more freedom of movement around the team facility and outside of it. Teams with players and staff who reach a certain percentage of vaccinations would be subject to more relaxed COVID protocols, as teams in other professional leagues have been.
The NFLPA has said publicly that it believes the offseason program should be exclusively virtual, and it is urging its members not to attend the portions of the program that are voluntary under the CBA. The union does recognize that 203 players have workout bonuses in their contracts that require them to attend offseason workouts to receive those bonuses, and it is not actively discouraging those players from doing so, although the union is trying to articulate a broader message that players should stop agreeing to contracts that include bonuses for attending voluntary offseason workouts.
LB Vince Williams re-signing with Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers released Williams in March in one of their moves to get under the salary cap. He told Fowler then that he had a lot of football left and was eager to provide veteran leadership and play for a team that needs it.
He started 14 games last season, finishing with 70 tackles and three sacks. His usage jumped significantly last season after the departure of Mark Barron, playing 65% of defensive snaps, up from 37% the year before.
Williams, 31, was a full-time starter for the Steelers in three of the past four seasons.
A sixth-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2013, he has appeared in 121 games, with 69 starts, and has two interceptions (including a pick-six), 20.5 sacks and 333 solo tackles in eight seasons with the franchise.
Williams has indicated that he will think about retirement after this season and has considered getting into coaching.
ESPN’s Brooke Pryor contributed to this report.
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