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American Football Seven days in the NFL

From arrests to teams adding players in the summer, the league manages to find ways to keep fans entertained

THIS past Sunday was an incredible day for sport, Lewis Hamilton won a record sixth British Grand Prix, legends of tennis Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer gave us the second longest Wimbledon final of all time – won by Djokovic on a 12-12 Championship tie break, and in cricket, favourites England won a thrilling World Cup final victory against unlucky New Zealand. 

It was a day that could only have been improved by an evening’s NFL which returns in just 8 weeks’ time. 

As ever, despite the off-season, its been a busy week in the NFL. 

Melvin Gordon holds out for new contract

San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is looking to get paid as he enters his fifth season with the team. 

Having seen other star running backs such as David Johnson and Todd Gurley pick up career changing injuries in recent years, it’s unsurprising that Gordon wants to sign a new contract while he is in his prime.
 
The Chargers, however, are hesitant to commit a large contract to a running back when contracts for potentially more crucial players like defensive end Joey Bosa are also upcoming.

Gordon is a potent red zone threat, yet teams such as the Seattle Seahawks and division rivals Denver Broncos have proven through Chris Carson and Phillip Lindsay that running backs can be found later in the draft, costing the team much less money. 

What Gordon may be looking to avoid is being given the franchise tag by the Chargers. 

The tag means that the player will stay with the team for an additional year, without the chance to talk to other teams about other opportunities as a free agent. 

The player is not short-changed when it comes to salary – a player on the franchise tag is paid the average of the top five salaries paid at his position — but it has come under some criticism from players in recent years, not least because the player would like to leave the team, yet their futures are somewhat left in limbo for another 12 months without the certainty of longer-term earnings. 

A player does not have to agree to a franchise tag and could choose not to sign and play under it, just as Le’veon Bell did in his final years at the Pittsburgh Stealers. 

However, if a player refuses to play they lose what is known as “a year of eligibility” – this means that contractually, he would be bound by the same rules as one year ago and still susceptible to a franchise tag. 

Players are getting unhappy about the lack of control over their own futures and the design and usage of the franchise tag is sure to be a hotly contested topic at the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations between the league and the players union. 

Arizona Cardinals take Jalen Thompson in the Supplemental Draft

The Supplemental Draft normally comes and goes without much fanfare, though sometimes it rewards teams with a gem of a player — such as Vikings legend Cris Carter and more recently, talented receiver Josh Gordon. 

It involves rookies who for reasons such as difficulties relating to academic or rule related matters missed the initial NFL draft.

This year the Arizona Cardinals picked WSU defensive back Jalen Thompson in the fifth round, and therefore gave up the equivalent fifth round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Rookie Thompson is a talented player who could be a future starting nickel corner in the NFL but must stay out of trouble — the player lost his last year of eligibility at Washington State for violating NCAA rules relating to over the counter medicines. 

Off-season arrests just won’t go away

There is always increased focus on rule breaking during the off-season as it is a common time for NFL players to appear in the news for less savoury reasons such as driving under the influence, violence and cannabis-related offences. 

With the time off being so long, some players find themselves in trouble with the law, leading to suspensions in the League. 

Last week, former Seahawks second round defensive lineman Malik McDowell was tased and arrested after a scuffle with a police officer in a petrol station. 

He was charged with obstructing justice and driving while suspended. 

McDowell was drafted yet never played for the Seahawks, after an injury caused by an accident on a quad bike cut his career short. 

It was also announced this week that New York Jets second year tight end Chris Herndon has also been suspended for four games this season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Herndon had a promising rookie season in New York and is proving very popular in fantasy football circles. 

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