Cam Newton is again biding his time before deciding on his NFL future, although another return to the Carolina Panthers remains a possibility.

Newton was the 2015 NFL MVP during an initial nine-year Panthers career before he was released in March 2020.

The quarterback landed at the New England Patriots in July of that year on a one-year deal, replacing the great Tom Brady.

Although that contract was renewed for 2021, the emergence of rookie QB Mac Jones meant Newton was cut before the season started.

Newton had thrown just eight touchdown passes to 10 interceptions in New England but added 12 rushing scores – the most by a QB since his own 2011 record of 14 – and did enough to earn another job with the Panthers.

With Sam Darnold injured after an indifferent start in Carolina, Newton re-joined the team in November.

The 32-year-old scored a rushing TD in each of his first five games back, one short of Johnny Lujack's QB streak of six in 1950. Three games with a passing TD and a rushing TD boosted Newton's own record tally to 45 such games.

However, Newton later lost his place to Darnold and finished the year with a career-low passer rating of 64.4.

Still, almost three months on from the Panthers' final game of the season, the team are considering their future with Darnold while Newton is again without a team.

"I have teams that are interested in signing me," Newton told ESPN. "I am waiting on the best fit as it pertains to winning a championship and getting a fair chance to play."

Coach Matt Rhule said on Tuesday: "I love Cam Newton. He's an amazing leader. He's an amazing football player.

"Everything we do has to be right for the organisation, right for him."

The Panthers have the sixth overall pick in 2022, but it is a draft light on quarterback talent. Meanwhile, various trades and moves in free agency have left both the team and Newton short of alternative options.

Jerry Jones has explained Amari Cooper's trade to the Cleveland Browns, claiming the Dallas Cowboys' salary cap could be "better spent" elsewhere.

Cooper signed a five-year, $100million contract extension with the Cowboys in 2020, coming off four Pro Bowl appearances in his first five seasons in the NFL.

But the wide receiver struggled to live up to that salary, which made him the highest-paid player at his position in 2021.

Cooper's $22m accounted for 10.5 per cent of the Cowboys' cap, with only defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence taking up more.

Despite that, Cooper ranked just 30th among receivers for catches (68) and receiving yards (865) and tied 12th for receiving touchdowns (eight).

Heading into 2022, Jones and the Cowboys pondered the merits of committing league-leading money to a player they were targeting with just 104 passes last year – tied for 32nd at his position.

"To be fair, we let Cooper go down the road," Jones explained. "That was our decision.

"That wasn't made to depreciate the team. At the end of the day, it is a financial allocation toward the talent, and you've got to consider availability, and that sometimes departs from the best route runner.

"We had to look hard at the 10 or 11 players who are getting two-thirds of the money. We have to make sure every one those players are pulling as much weight as you can, because of the economic emphasis. That is a big part of what's on the field.

"How much were they there, how many snaps they get, how much production did you get. That is always going to be under scrutiny. It should be."

Ultimately, Jones said, the Cowboys "made a decision that that allocation should be better spent".

Cowboys fans might still have hoped to get more in return for a player for whom they parted with a first-round draft pick – which became safety Johnathan Abram – in a 2018 trade with the then Oakland Raiders.

The Browns sent a fifth-round 2022 selection to Dallas, along with a pick swap in the sixth round.

"We made every effort to do as well as we can do with the trade," Jones said.

The New Orleans Saints have struck a deal with Tre'Quan Smith to keep the wide receiver with the team.

Smith has signed a two-year deal worth $6million, potentially rising above $10m with incentives, according to NFL Network.

Despite making a number of roster moves to ensure they could get under the salary cap and hiring a new head coach, the Saints' offense will ultimately have a similar look to 2021 when it takes to the field this year.

Jameis Winston has returned at quarterback with Smith again joining Michael Thomas and Marquez Callaway to make up the receiving corps.

Smith, 26, has been with the Saints since they picked him in the third round in 2018.

He has caught 17 touchdown passes in that time, though last year's total of three was a career-low, as was his yards per reception mark of 11.8, which compares to 15.3 in his rookie year.

Former defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has been promoted to head coach with the Saints, replacing Sean Payton after his successful 15-year run in the job.

Solomon Thomas, the former number three overall pick, has agreed to join the New York Jets.

According to widespread reports, defensive lineman Thomas has signed a one-year deal with the Jets after spending last season with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Thomas had a career-high 3.5 sacks as well as 12 QB hits with the Raiders in 2021 despite not starting any games.

The 26-year-old spent his first four seasons with the team who drafted him, the San Francisco 49ers, where Jets head coach Robert Saleh previously served as defensive coordinator.

While Thomas has not lived up to his lofty draft position, the rebuilding Jets will hope his reunion with Saleh proves to be a productive one.

The Jets struggled to a 4-13 record in Saleh's first season, but are optimistic about posting an improved 2022 campaign after a productive free agency period.

The Buffalo Bills have decided to match the offer sheet offensive lineman Ryan Bates signed with the Chicago Bears.

AFC East champions the Bills had until Tuesday to decide whether they would ensure they kept the restricted free agent.

To do so, they had to match the Bears' four-year contract offer, which reportedly includes two fully guaranteed years at the start of the deal.

Guard Bates, who also had free-agent visits with the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots, will now remain with the Bills.

The 25-year-old joined Buffalo in a 2019 trade from the Philadelphia Eagles.

"We have kind of pondered that and worked through it – obviously we are tight on the cap, but we are going to bring Ryan back," Bills general manager Brandon Beane confirmed.

"It's really important for us to be strong up front, both lines. Ryan's a versatile player. He can actually play all five spots, but most importantly, he's been a center, guard he's filled in.

"We thought when he had his opportunity this year, he did a heck of a job starting the last four regular-season games and then the two postseason games. 

"It didn't seem too big for him. You want to keep as many of those key pieces, he knows our system. He obviously knows [quarterback] Josh Allen."

Bears GM Ryan Poles was frustrated, saying: "I just found that out. 

"It stinks. But that's part of the RFA process. So we'll adjust and we'll keep adding players. It's out of your control."

The Bills, who are rated as the early Super Bowl favourites, also brought back offensive lineman Ike Boettger after agreeing a one-year deal.

New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen says his team are not shopping Saquon Barkley, even though he had taken calls from other NFL teams about the running back.

Barkley was drafted to huge fanfare at number two overall in 2018 and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year as he racked up 15 total touchdowns in his debut campaign.

The 25-year-old has struggled to recapture those performances since, with injuries hindering him along the way as a torn ACL in 2020 limited him to just two games that year.

As the Giants rebuild with a new GM and head coach, there was trade talk at the scouting combine about Barkley, who is now playing under his fifth-year option worth $7.2million.

But Schoen has clarified that his previous comments about listening to calls did not mean he was keen to see the player move on.

"I reached out to him immediately after all that happened at the combine," Schoen told ESPN about Barkley, who averaged just 3.7 yards per carry in 162 attempts last year.

"Again, it would be irresponsible for the team if a team calls – I think 31 other GMs would say the same thing – if somebody is going to call and offer you something ridiculous, you're going to listen. 

"It doesn't mean you're going to make a deal or say yes to it. That was taken a little bit out of context. So I haven't called one team on Saquon Barkley.

"Everybody ran with that from the combine. I said I would listen if people called on any players. It would be irresponsible if I didn't. That doesn't mean I'm going to do every deal. 

"I've got calls about a few of our players. He's one where a couple teams have reached out. 

"But I'm not shopping Saquon Barkley. The guy was the number two pick in the draft for a reason. He's got a lot of talent and I'm looking forward to working with him."

New York have not won a playoff game since their Super Bowl triumph at the end of the 2011 season.

Brian Daboll, who like Schoen has just arrived from the Buffalo Bills, is the team's fifth head coach since two-time Super Bowl winner Tom Coughlin departed after the 2015 campaign.

Giants co-owner John Mara was also asked about Barkley this week and called him "a great representative" for the team who "could have a very big year".

But he stressed any football decisions lay with Schoen and Daboll.

Andy Reid insists there is no rift between him and Tyreek Hill after the Kansas City Chiefs traded their star wide receiver to the Miami Dolphins.

In the latest blockbuster move of an incredible offseason in the NFL, Hill was traded to Miami for five draft picks last week.

The Dolphins then handed Hill, a member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team, a four-year, $120million contract extension with $72.2m guaranteed, making him the highest-paid player at his position.

Hill was a pivotal part of a Chiefs team that has reached the AFC Championship Game for four straight years and won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2019 season.

Chiefs coach Reid stressed that his departure was directly related to contract negotiations and the Chiefs' situation with the salary cap.

"I love Tyreek Hill," said Reid, per ESPN. "There's no rift between Tyreek Hill and myself. 

"I thought he deserved an opportunity if that's where he wanted to go. 

"He's a family man that has a few kids and he's got to be able to support them now and down the road, and this gives him an opportunity to do that. 

"At the same time, it gives us great compensation."

Speaking publicly for the first time since the trade, Reid made it clear the Chiefs' initial intention was to find a way to keep Hill.

He added: "We came in aggressive [with a contract offer], and after we got to a point, we just said, 'Listen, in this day and age you have issues you have to deal with, with the cap'. 

"So we felt like it was better to allow him to go ahead and be traded. You can go different routes with a player. You can play hardball or you can go about it the way I did, or we did.

"You've got to be able to manage that the right way.

"If you're paying all of your money to a quarterback and you can't surround him with players, that can be a problem. 

"So you have to find a way with a Tyreek Hill maybe that you have to get rid of so you can replenish. That's offense and defense. I'm not just talking about the offensive side."

The departure of Hill is a huge blow for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, though Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster are two free agent pass-catchers who have been brought in so far.

"You want to surround him with great players," added Reid when he was asked about Mahomes.

"We did try to sign Tyreek at a certain cost. Once it gets past that, now you can see what we're doing here with the players we brought in and we feel they're very good football players.

"[General manager Brett Veach] is building this thing to where we feel comfortable that we can go win on Sundays."

The Chiefs have won the AFC West division for six straight seasons but face fierce competition this year.

Seattle Seahawks great Russell Wilson has been signed by the Denver Broncos to play QB, while the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders have also strengthened with big moves.

All NFL teams must hire a minority offensive assistant coach from next season, the league has said.

It was also agreed among owners at Monday's annual general meeting to add women to the Rooney Rule, as well as encouraging more diversity in ownership groups and announcing the creation of a Diversity Advisory Committee.

There are currently just five minority head coaches in the NFL, and it is hoped that by increasing the talent pool among offensive coaches – which is often from where head coaches are hired – that number will increase over time.

Chairman of the NFL Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee Art Rooney II, who is also owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and whose father the 'Rooney Rule' is named after, said: "It's a recognition that at the moment, when you look at stepping stones for a head coach, they are the coordinator positions.

"We clearly have a trend where coaches are coming from the offensive side of the ball in recent years, and we clearly do not have as many minorities in the offensive coordinator [job].

"So, without oversimplifying it, it's really an effort to try to bring more talented minority coaches to the offensive side of the ball. Both within the league and hopefully attract those talented individuals from the college ranks."

Minority coaches now make up 39 per cent of the NFL total according to league data, which is a rise from 35 per cent at the start of the 2021 season, while there are 12 women in coaching positions.

The addition of women to the Rooney Rule means they are now included as a "minority" of which at least two must be interviewed, but this does not necessarily mean a woman and a person of colour will always be part of the process as a hiring team could in theory interview two women, or two people of colour.

"The truth of the matter is that as of today, at least, there aren't many women in the pool in terms of head coach," Rooney added. "We hope that is going to change over the years, but for that reason we didn't see it as inhibiting the number of interviews for racial minorities at this point in time.

"Obviously, we can address that as time goes on, but for now we didn't see that as an issue.

"Really, we are looking at probably the early stages of women entering the coaching ranks, so we may be a little ways away before that becomes a problem."

The San Francisco 49ers have no plans to release Jimmy Garoppolo despite their inability to trade him, general manager John Lynch has insisted.

No secret has been made of the Niners' plans to trade Garoppolo since their 2021 season came to an end with defeat to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game.

San Francisco selected quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick in last year's draft, having traded the 12th overall pick and their first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 to move up to that spot.

Lance is set to take over as the starting quarterback in 2022, but Lynch did not rule out Garoppolo still being on the depth chart, having received no trade offers for the former New England Patriot.

"I don't foresee that," Lynch said when asked about releasing Garoppolo at the NFL owners' meetings on Monday.

"He's too good of a player. I don't foresee that, and I think Jimmy will be playing for us or he'll be playing for somebody else. He's too good of a player not to be."

Garoppolo remains on the Niners' roster as host of potential suitors have filled their quarterback need via other means. The Denver Broncos pulled off a spectacular trade for Russell Wilson, the Indianapolis Colts shipped Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders and then dealt for Matt Ryan, while the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Mitchell Trubisky.

There had previously been talk of the Niners having an offer of two second-round picks in hand for Garoppolo, but Lynch dismissed such speculation.

"Not true. No," Lynch said. "Nobody ever said, 'OK, here’s our offer'. We never got to that point."

While Garoppolo's future with San Francisco remains in question, Lynch assured that All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel and Pro Bowl edge rusher Nick Bosa will be on the roster for a long time as the Niners negotiate likely lucrative contract extensions with the pair.

"We've had good communication with Tory [Dandy] who represents Deebo and Bryan Ayrault who represents Nick,” Lynch said. "We have a plan for each of those guys. We will keep those discussions private but like I've long said, those guys are going to be a part of us for a long, long time. 

"They're fantastic players. They are very much at the core of who we are and they are fabulous players, fabulous people and a big part of who we are.” 

The 2024 NFL Draft will be held in downtown Detroit, the league announced on Monday. 

One of the most anticipated events on the sporting calendar, the three-day event will take place around the Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza site. 

This year's draft will be held in Las Vegas next month, with Kansas City hosting the 2023 edition. 

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said: "The draft has become a prominent offseason event across the country, and we are excited to work with the [Detroit] Lions and their partners to bring the 2024 NFL Draft to the Motor City. 

"With the help of Visit Detroit, the Detroit Sports Commission, and the City of Detroit, the Lions' passionate fan base and all visitors will be treated to an incredible three-day experience." 

Claude Molinari, president and CEO of Visit Detroit, added: "Visit Detroit is looking forward to working with our partners in the hospitality community to welcome enthusiastic football fans from across the country who will make our city a pigskin pilgrimage stop.  

"Hosting the draft is another exciting win for Detroit, and it will deliver a powerful economic impact and highlight the vibrancy of our region." 

Baker Mayfield is still waiting to learn where he will play next season, with the Cleveland Browns so far unable to agree a trade for their former starting quarterback.

Mayfield remains on the Browns roster, despite the team trading for Deshaun Watson and also bringing in a new back-up in Jacoby Brissett.

That leaves a former first overall pick with a fully guaranteed $18.9million salary set to sit on the sideline in 2022.

It is anticipated Mayfield will ultimately leave the Browns and find a home elsewhere, but he and the team are having to stay patient.

Coach Kevin Stefanski explained: "I think everyone understands the situation and we're hoping that it is resolved soon.

"It's a unique situation. We've got to see how it plays out. I think all of us would love an answer yesterday, but that's not the reality of it."

Mayfield has been the Browns' starter since he was selected in the 2018 NFL Draft, making 59 starts (60 games) in four seasons.

It looked as though Mayfield was going to deliver on his promise after the 2020 season, in which he tossed only eight interceptions to his 26 touchdown passes and led the 11-5 Browns to the Divisional Round and a narrow loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

But there was regression in an injury-plagued 2021, with Mayfield's 13 picks meaning his career total of 56 is the highest in the league across the past four seasons.

The Browns instead controversially turned to Watson, as Mayfield requested a trade.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin feels lucky to add an asset as valuable as new senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores.

Flores was fired from his role as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in January following the franchise's first back-to-back winning seasons since 2003, finishing 10-6 in 2020 and 9-8 in 2021.

During the fallout of his stint in Miami, Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL, the Dolphins, Denver Broncos and New York Giants.

In it, he accused the Broncos and Giants of flawed hiring processes, alleging the two franchises only offered interviews to comply with the league's 'Rooney Rule', which requires teams to interview candidates of colour for head coaching and senior operation vacancies.

The class action brought by Flores alleged the NFL "remains rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of black head coaches, coordinators and general managers".

Flores also alleged he was offered $100,000 per loss by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross in 2019 in an effort to secure a better draft position.

All parties have strenuously denied Flores' allegations.

Flores was confirmed as the Steelers' new defensive assistant and linebackers coach last month, and Tomlin acknowledged that his decision to offer him a role was partly influenced by a desire to ensure he was not exiled from the league.

"I just didn't want him to feel like he was on an island," he told reporters on Sunday. 

"From a coaching fraternity standpoint, I owed him that. I was in position to provide that. I think that started our interactions and conversations.

"Over the course of those discussions, particularly when it became evident he was not going to get a head job, then I think the natural discussion began. 

"It really ran its course rather quickly, to be quite honest with you, because it doesn't require a lot of time to come to the realisation that you can use a Brian Flores on your staff."

Tomlin believes Flores will bring a level of experience that will help shape decision-making on every level.

"Senior defensive assistant and linebacker coach is his title, but there's help that he's going to help us and help me, in particular," he added. 

"I love sharpening my sword on his and gaining a perspective that his experiences provide, that wise counsel.

"We're talking about a myriad of things. Whether it's calendar, whether it's taking care of players, whether it's the acquisition or evaluation of talent, it's been fun to have him. His contributions are going to be significant."

The Kansas City Chiefs are signing running back Ronald Jones II in their latest move following Tyreek Hill's trade, according to reports.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero said the Chiefs would look to give Jones a one-year contract worth up to $5million.

The Chiefs are overhauling their offense after failing to negotiate a new contract with Hill, who headed to the Miami Dolphins in return for five draft picks.

One of those picks is in the first round this year, giving the Chiefs the opportunity to potentially replace Hill with a top receiver prospect, but they have also been busy in free agency.

JuJu Smith-Schuster was followed to Kansas City by fellow wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, while Jones provides an alternative pass-catching option at running back.

Jones twice racked up 1,000 scrimmage yards in a four-year career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including in their title-winning 2020 season (1,143).

That year, Jones led the Bucs in carries (192), rushing yards (978) and rushing touchdowns (seven) but also had 28 catches for 165 receiving yards and a TD.

Jones took a back seat to Leonard Fournette both on the ground and through the air in the playoffs, although he still had 12 carries for 61 yards in the Super Bowl.

In Kansas City, leading rusher Darrel Williams is a free agent, meaning Jones is set to share touches with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a first-round pick in 2020 who is yet to truly establish himself in the NFL.

Edwards-Helaire had just 517 rushing yards in 10 games last year, when the Chiefs' run game ranked a middling 16th with 115.0 yards per game.

New Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota acknowledges he has "big shoes to fill" with the team after stepping in to replace Matt Ryan.

Former NFL MVP Ryan was traded to the Indianapolis Colts this week, with Mariota – who spent the last two seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders – then brought in on a two-year, $18.75million deal.

Mariota, the number two overall pick in the draft for the Tennessee Titans back in 2015, is relishing the opportunity to compete for a starting job again after backing up Derek Carr in Las Vegas.

But he is aware his task to make the job his own and replace four-time Pro Bowler Ryan, whose contract had hindered Atlanta's attempts to build for the future, is a big one.

"Those are big shoes to fill, no doubt," Mariota about Ryan. 

"For me, something I definitely learned over the course of my career is that you can't compare yourself to other people. 

"What Matt did here, what he's accomplished here, is truly greatness.

"For me, I just have to kind of carve my own path. I appreciate what he's done, what he's been for this organisation, and the best thing that I can do is try to put my best foot forward and be the best player that I can be.

"These last couple of years for me was a great reset. I got a chance to take a step back, learn, and I feel like I have and these experiences have created a lot of value for me.

"It really came down to the opportunity. Obviously, there's a chance for you to play, a chance for you to start right away.

"Really, for me, at this point in time of my career, that's what I was looking for. No matter what the situation is, I have to my best to lead these guys and help these guys become the best of their abilities.

"That doesn't necessarily mean I'm the starter, but I know that with Art [Smith], he's always going to be honest with me and I can really put forth my best foot forward and see what I can do."

 

Falcons head coach Smith was Offensive Coordinator with the Titans when Mariota lost his starting job in 2019, being benched for Ryan Tannehill.

Mariota, 28, explained he had learned a lot since then, having felt physically and mentally drained at the time.

He added: "During my time in Tennessee, we went through a lot of different things. I went through coaching changes, went through a broken ankle, some of these things that people would call adversity.

"At that point in time in my career in 2019, I was tired. I was just kind of tired of all the turnover, was tired of being beat up, and I wasn't playing well.

"At the end of the day, this is a performance-based business, and when you're not playing well, things happen, and I understood that.

"Art always honest. Even to the point where in 2019 when things weren't going well for me, he always shot me straight. As a player, I truly appreciate that. 

"He's always been focused on making sure I can get better, he is somebody that's always been there for me.

"I knew what I was getting into, what kind of culture he's building here, so that's why I'm excited to be here because I really do believe in Art and what he's doing.

"I've learned a lot over the course of the last, even really three years going back to that season in 2019. 

"I was both mentally and physically beat up. I think this is a great opportunity for me to kind of showcase what I've learned over the course of the last couple years. 

"I have been around guys like Ryan Tannehill and Derek Carr – guys that have played at a really high level. I'm excited for this opportunity."

Scott Fitterer says Sam Darnold is "in the lead" to be the Carolina Panthers starting quarterback for the 2022 NFL season but the "door's still open" for Cam Newton to land the role.

Panthers general manager Fitterer on Friday revealed Darnold is the frontrunner to start under center when the new campaign gets under way.

Carolina missed out on Deshaun Watson, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns last week.

That leaves Darnold and P.J. Walker as the only quarterbacks on the roster, with the 24-year-old set to get the nod.

"Sam's on the roster as I sit here right now," Fitterer said. "He's in the lead for that job. We want him to take it and run with it.

"But we're gonna add a lot of competition to that room. The whole emphasis is to stabilise the quarterback position to play winning football."

That competition could come in the form of Newton, who rejoined the Panthers last November after Darnold sustained a shoulder injury.

A former number one overall pick, Newton's return did not go to plan as Carolina lost all five games he started.

The 32-year-old threw for 684 yards and had five interceptions, but Fitterer says he is being considered by the Panthers.

"The thing with Cam, it's got to be a fit for us and it’s got to be a fit for him just as well," Fitterer said.

"He’s looking for a certain opportunity. The door's still open for us. We're very open to Cam. We'll see where it goes. He knows where we stand."

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