Sharrif Floyd’s career in jeopardy due to nerve damage

Sharrif Floyd is fighting to save his football career.

The Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle has yet to recover from nerve damage that occurred during September surgery to repair the meniscus in his knee, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source close to Floyd. The nerve that controls the quadriceps still isn’t firing six months later.

Although there’s optimism that the nerve will eventually cooperate, Rapoport added, no one knows for sure.

USA Today’s Tom Pelissero first reported the lingering complications from Floyd’s knee surgery.

“Sharrif is rehabbing, has seen some of the best doctors in the country,” agent Brian Mackler told Pelissero, “will continue to rehab and hopefully, this will heal sooner than later.”

Floyd alluded to the health issue last weekend, posting an Instagram message that indicated he is praying the “road doesn’t end here.”

“Don’t let me go out this way,” Floyd continued. “… This game means so much to me and the foundation is still being laid one stone at a time. … Grant me one last run, I promise I’ll lay my soul on the line.”

The No. 23 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft was limited to just one game last season after starting 23 games in the previous two years.

“When he is healthy, he’s a pretty good player,” general manager Rick Spielman said, via The Star Tribune, last month. “Our defense played well last year, but we did miss Sharrif, because when he is healthy he’s a significant part of our defense and can make a difference in games when he’s in there.”

The Vikings exercised Floyd’s fifth-year option last May, guaranteeing $6.757 million for the final year of his rookie contract in 2017.

We hope to see him back on the field at some point this season, rehabbing his value for a run at free agency in 2018.

Pats owner Robert Kraft expresses hope in Malcolm Butler return

PHOENIX — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Monday at the NFL’s annual meeting that he hopes restricted free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler returns to the team in 2017, and that the club doesn’t intend to trade him.

The Patriots have tendered Butler at the first-round level of $3.91 million. Butler hasn’t signed the tender offer and has visited the New Orleans Saints.

“I know he has the ability to go out in the market and get someone to sign him, and then we either match it or get the first-round draft pick. I’m rooting, I hope, he’s with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us,” Kraft told reporters.

“I have a great affection for him. He was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team, but there are a lot of people involved in that on both sides.”

Butler could also sign his tender with the Patriots, and then get traded for compensation other than the first-round pick New England would receive if Butler signed an offer sheet with another club.

When asked if the team’s intention was to trade Butler, Kraft said it wasn’t, before adding: “But I don’t want to, in any way, take away from his rights [as a restricted free agent].”

April 21 is the deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets with other teams.

The Patriots and Butler’s representatives had discussed a long-term extension last offseason, and some believed there was momentum toward a deal, but ultimately they couldn’t reach an agreement.

Now the Patriots’ long-term plans with Butler could be affected by the free-agent signing of cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who inked a five-year, $65 million pact with $40 million in bonuses and guarantees.

As for the Saints, they have been focusing on improving their defense this offseason, and coach Sean Payton was complimentary of Butler after hosting him on his free-agent visit.

“Coming out of a small town in Mississippi and through junior college and into West Alabama, it’s pretty amazing,” Payton told XTRA 1360 radio in San Diego earlier in March. “The first three years he’s had in this league, shoot, he’s had a tremendous amount of success, winning two Super Bowls in three years and being a big part of a team that’s accomplished a lot. So I’d say he’s humble, but when you watch the tape, he plays with a chip on his shoulder.”

If the Saints signed the 27-year-old Butler to an offer sheet and the Patriots didn’t match, New Orleans would surrender its first-round pick (No. 11) to New England. That would be a high price to pay, which is why Butler had previously been part of trade speculation with New Orleans in a deal for lesser compensation.

Jaguars sign TE Mychal Rivera

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jaguars found a replacement for Julius Thomas in former Oakland Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera. The team announced his signing Wednesday afternoon.

Rivera fills the spot of the move tight end, which is the role Thomas had with the Jaguars the past two seasons. Marcedes Lewis is entering his 12th season with the Jaguars and is now more of a blocking tight end. He hasn’t caught more than 25 passes in a season since 2012.

Rivera, 26, was the second of three sixth-round draft picks by the Raiders in 2013, after running back Latavius Murray but before defensive tackle Stacy McGee. He flashed at times in Oakland, despite being slightly undersized for a tight end at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds.

He caught four touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons, peaking in 2014 with 58 catches for 534 yards in 16 games (10 starts), but has been caught in a numbers game since, with the arrivals of Lee Smith, Clive Walford and Gabe Holmes.

Still, Rivera, who had a base salary of $1.671 million last year, had the trust of quarterback Derek Carr deeper down the field last season as his 10.7 yards per catch average equaled a career high. He also showed he could be a safety valve for rookie quarterback Connor Cook in the Raiders’ playoff loss at Houston with four catches for 31 yards.

Last season he played in a career-low 13 games, starting a career-low two, and his 18 catches for 192 yards were also career lows, while his one touchdown equaled a career worst. He was purportedly on the trading block in training camp.

Rivera, whose sister is actress Naya Rivera from “Glee,” averaged 1.10 yards receiving per route run, which was 65th out of 133 tight ends in the league, per Pro Football Focus.

Spike Lee calls out teams for not signing free agent Colin Kaepernick

Famed film director Spike Lee has joined the Colin Kaepernick debate, suggesting Sunday in an Instagram post that one of his hometown teams — the New York Jets — should sign the unemployed quarterback.

“The New York J-E-T-S Need A Quarterback,” wrote Lee, who said he spoke with Kaepernick over brunch. “Who Is The J-E-T-S Quarterback? Is My Man Joe Willie Namath Coming Back? Crazy Times We Live In.”

Lee used his post to rail against the NFL for excluding Kaepernick, who ignited a firestorm last fall because he refused to stand for the national anthem as a way to protest social and racial issues.

Lee said it “Smells MAD Fishy To Me, Stinks To The High Heavens” that Kaepernick, who opted out of his San Francisco 49ers contract, still doesn’t have a job.

It’s no secret the Jets are looking for a veteran quarterback. They spent the weekend wining and dining journeyman Josh McCown, 37, who left Sunday without a contract. The two sides will continue to talk. The Jets also remain interested in Jay Cutler and perhaps others in what is considered a weak free-agent QB class.

From all indications, the Jets have no desire to sign Kaepernick, despite the fact that he is only 29 and has four postseason wins on his résumé.

Jets owner Woody Johnson is a prominent GOP supporter who raised millions for Donald Trump; last fall, during the presidential campaign, Johnson blamed Kaepernick for being one of the main reasons for the NFL’s declining TV ratings.

Kaepernick will stand for the national anthem during the 2017 season, sources have told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Kaepernick no longer wants his method of protest to detract from the positive change he believes has been created, sources said. The amount of national discussion on social inequality — as well as support from other athletes nationwide, including NFL and NBA players — affirmed the message he has tried to deliver.

Redskins clear cap room by waiving DE Ricky Jean Francois

The Washington Redskins continued to reshape their defensive line and freed up more salary-cap room by releasing veteran end Ricky Jean Francois on Wednesday.

Jean Francois’ release was expected, because he would have counted $4 million against the salary cap in 2017 and was going to be a backup at best. The Redskins will save $3 million in cap space with the release.

Jean Francois spent two years with Washington, starting six games in 2016 and recording 1.5 sacks. But the Redskins weren’t pleased with their defensive line, allowing another starter, Chris Baker, to sign with Tampa Bay via free agency.

Last week, after general manager Scot McCloughan was fired, Jean Francois told the “Sean Salisbury Show” on SB Nation Radio, “It seems like we’re getting back to the norm. We’re getting back to the drama, the dysfunction. It feels like we’ve never had that period where we were comfortable with everything and everything was running smoothly.”

A source had mentioned the possibility of Jean Francois’ release before that comment was made.

Jean Francois, who turned 30 in November, was the only player left from McCloughan’s first free-agent class in the 2015 offseason. Jean Francois spent two years with Indianapolis and four with San Francisco.

The Redskins also re-signed defensive end Ziggy Hood to a two-year contract, a source said. They have also signed Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain in free agency.

Cowboys not expected to trade QB Tony Romo

The Dallas Cowboys are not expected to find a trade partner for veteran quarterback Tony Romo, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Possible interested teams in Romo appear unwilling to take on the 36-year-old’s contract or overpay for a quarterback who has started four games during the past two seasons because of injuries, sources told Schefter.

Sources also told Schefter that the Cowboys are unwilling to trade Romo to a city in which he does not want to play. Teams interested in Romo believe the Cowboys will eventually release the four-time Pro Bowler, and are willing to wait until that happens before pursuing him as a free agent, sources said.

Romo has met twice with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones this offseason, including earlier this week when the quarterback’s release looked imminent. Reports out of Houston and Denver have suggested the Texans and Broncos would be interested in Romo — but only as a free agent, not in a trade.

Multiple sources told Schefter on Friday that Fox Sports also is interested in Romo — as a television analyst to replace John Lynch, who left in January to become the 49ers’ general manager.

The Cowboys’ franchise leader in passing yards and touchdown passes, Romo played only one series in the 2016 season, directing Dallas on a second-quarter touchdown drive in the Week 17 finale against the Eagles. He suffered a compression fracture in his back in a preseason game against the Seahawks, pressing Dak Prescott into the starter’s role. Prescott played so well with the Cowboys losing only one of their first 12 games that by the time Romo was ready to resume his spot, the coaches opted to stick with the rookie.

At the time, Romo delivered a poignant speech in which he said Prescott had earned the right to be the Cowboys’ starter. He also said he had a desire to still play.

Cowboy on Thursday released all the time leading passers Tony Romo

Tony Romo will soon no longer be a Dallas Cowboy.

The Cowboys will release the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns on Thursday, sources told ESPN, allowing him the chance to sign with another team if he desires while removing any doubt that they have the utmost faith in Dak Prescott.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones’ decision to release Romo was the result of a conversation between the two on Tuesday, league sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder.

A source told Werder that Romo did not have to pressure Jones to release him before the official beginning of NFL free agency so he could pursue opportunities with another franchise.

Jones told Romo that he had waited to determine whether another team might offer the Cowboys something in a trade for the oft-injured quarterback. When that failed to occur following the NFL scouting combine, Jones told Romo he would release him and make him a June 1 designation, which will save the Cowboys $14 million against the cap this year.

Romo will still count $10.7 million on the 2017 cap and $8.9 million on the 2018 cap.

The Cowboys are visiting with veteran quarterback Josh McCown on Wednesday, who would replace Romo as the backup quarterback if he signs with the team.

McCown was one of the Cowboys’ targets last summer after Kellen Moore broke his ankle in the first week of training camp, but the Cleveland Browns’ asking price was too high. McCown, who turns 38 in July, was released by the Browns earlier in the offseason after a two-year run with the club.

The release of Romo, who turns 37 in April, does not come as much surprise, although it was a move that pained Jones because of the close relationship he forged with Romo over 14 years.

Prescott’s play in 2016, which earned him Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, and the Cowboys’ a 13-3 record, all but clinched the decision. While the Cowboys could have afforded the $24.7 million salary-cap figure, in reality paying a backup quarterback $14 million made little sense.

Romo’s rise to the top of the Cowboys’ all-time passing chart started as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois in 2003. He eschewed a larger signing bonus from the Denver Broncos at the time to join the Cowboys.

Then-coach Bill Parcells took an immediate liking to Romo; however, he did not throw a pass in a game until 2006. After replacing Drew Bledsoe at halftime against the New York Giants, Romo made the first start of his career on Oct. 29, 2006, against the Carolina Panthers, throwing for 270 yards and a touchdown in a 35-14 win.

He sparked the Cowboys to a 9-7 finish and spot in the playoffs, but that season ended when he dropped a snap on a potential winning field goal attempt against the Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card round.

In his first full season as the starter in 2007, Romo threw for a then-franchise-record 4,211 yards, a mark he would set twice more in his career, and a franchise record 36 touchdown passes. The Cowboys finished with the best record in the NFC (13-3) but lost in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Romo has a career record of 78-49, but he never was able to get the Cowboys past the divisional round of the playoffs in four playoff appearances. His 34,183 passing yards and 248 touchdown passes are the most in team history, but with Hall of Famers Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman combining for five Super Bowl wins, Cowboys quarterbacks are judged on championships.

Romo also holds team records for most 300-yard passing games (46), multiple touchdown pass games (79) and consecutive games with a touchdown pass (38). In 2012, he threw for a club-record 4,903 yards and on Oct. 6, 2013, against the Denver Broncos, he threw for a franchise record 506 yards. He owns the NFL record with a touchdown pass in 41 straight road games.

Back injuries started to slow Romo down. In 2013, he had two back surgeries, including a discectomy before the season finale. He suffered two transverse process fractures in 2014 but missed just one game in leading the Cowboys to a 12-4 record and NFC East title.

In 2015, he suffered a broken left collarbone against the Philadelphia Eagles and missed seven games. He rebroke the collarbone in his second game back and missed the final five games. The Cowboys went 1-11 without Romo.

After undergoing collarbone surgery last spring, Romo said his back felt as strong as it had in years, but on the third play from scrimmage in a preseason game against Seattle, he was awkwardly driven to the turf by Cliff Avril and suffered a compression fracture in his back.

Romo’s absence allowed Prescott, the Cowboys’ second fourth-round pick last year, to win the starting job. After losing the season opener, the Cowboys won a franchise-record 11 straight games. Prescott finished his rookie season with 23 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. He also set a team record for a quarterback with six rushing touchdowns.

Disappointed he would not have the chance to win the job back, Romo diffused any controversy with a heartfelt statement backing Prescott upon his return. He served as the backup for the first time since 2006 and saw action in just one game, throwing a touchdown pass on his lone drive in the 2016 finale against the Eagles.

Reuben Foster sends a letter of apology to the team after the merger

Former Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster has sent a letter to NFL teams apologizing for the incident that led to his dismissal from the scouting combine this week, according to NFL Network and confirmed by ESPN.

Foster got into a heated altercation with a hospital worker on Friday, multiple sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and he was sent home prior to team interviews Friday night and testing Saturday.

A league source said there was a “miscommunication” that allowed the argument between Foster and a hospital worker to escalate.

Foster had been waiting for an extended period of time for what the NFL calls his “pre-exam” when he grew increasingly impatient and began questioning a hospital worker.

The hospital worker did not take kindly to Foster’s words, and eventually the two were face-to-face in a heated exchange.

According to AL.com, Foster had said “nothing happened” in a live Instagram video posted Saturday.

Foster was Alabama’s leading tackler last season and a unanimous first-team All-American. He also won the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker.

He is recovering from recent rotator cuff surgery in his right shoulder and was not scheduled to participate in drills at the combine. In his video chat, Foster said he’d be out of the sling in a week.

“Everything ain’t perfect,” he said. “I’m good. I just have to think. I just had to sit back and relax and think about what I really want.”

Foster said he’s making himself available to any team that wants to speak with him on Tuesday, the day before Alabama’s pro day in Tuscaloosa.

Foster’s projected recovery timetable was about four months, a source told ESPN’s Adam Caplan, which is well ahead of the start of training camps in July.

Jets release CB Darrelle Revis

Two years after bringing home Darrelle Revis with the richest contract in franchise history, the New York Jets have informed their former Pro Bowl cornerback they will release him on March 9, the start of the league calendar.

The announcement, made Tuesday night by the team, came as no surprise. It culminated months of speculation. Revis, 31, suffered a sharp decline in his skill and was scheduled to count $15.3 million against the 2017 salary cap.

Revis’ ouster came 11 days after he was charged with four felonies, including aggravated assault, stemming from his alleged role in a street fight in his hometown of Pittsburgh. He’s due in court March 15 for a pre-trial hearing.

Revis’ legal issues didn’t factor into the team’s decision to release him, a source said, adding that it was “100 percent football related.” The Jets are in rebuilding mode, and sources said the organization had decided weeks ago to release Revis.

In a span of four days, the Jets parted ways with Revis and center Nick Mangold, two of the most accomplished players in franchise history.

Revis took to Twitter to thank the organization.

Revis won’t go away empty-handed. Per the five-year, $70 million contract he signed in 2015, he’s due a $6 million guarantee for 2017. That amount can be defrayed by the amount he makes in 2017 from his next team.

The Jets also cleared $9.3 million in cap space by cutting Revis.

The team won’t try to recoup the $6 million, a source said. Revis’ recent arrest fueled speculation the Jets could try to contest the guarantee. The team performed its obligatory due diligence on the matter, studying the contract language, but it decided not to pursue the matter.

Revis had indicated a willingness to accept a pay cut, but one was never offered. He also offered to switch to safety, but the Jets never gave serious consideration to the idea of him playing safety, a source said.

“Darrelle Revis is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Jets uniform,” owner Woody Johnson said in a statement. “His combination of talent, preparation and instincts is rare and helped him become one of the most dominant players of his generation. I appreciate Darrelle’s contributions to this organization and, wherever his career takes him, his home will always be here with the Jets.”

Revis returned to the Jets in 2015 after winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. It was hailed as one of the biggest acquisitions in team history — he received $39 million fully guaranteed — but the second marriage failed to live up to expectations.

Revis made his seventh Pro Bowl in 2015, but he wasn’t the same player last season. He admittedly reported to training camp out of shape and he was embarrassed on several occasions in coverage.

“Darrelle is the consummate professional and one of the greatest to ever play the cornerback position,” coach Todd Bowles said.

Revis, a first-round pick in 2007, ascended to stardom early in his career and became known as the premier cornerback in the NFL. His ability to dominate the top receivers launched the “Revis Island” moniker.

“When you’re dealing with a player of Darrelle’s caliber, these decisions are extremely hard to make,” general manager Mike Maccagnan said. “We all have a great deal of respect for Darrelle and the significance of his time with the Jets cannot be overstated. He provided an example of how a pro should approach his craft and established his place in NFL history as one of the best at his position.”

Revis also became known for his contract problems, and a bitter dispute led to his trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. The Jets received a first-round pick from the Bucs, which they used to select defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.