The NFL Players Association announced results of partial coronavirus testing among its members on Thursday, saying 72 players were known to have tested positive as of July 10. 

That number would equate to approximately 2.5 per cent of players presently on NFL rosters, though it did not indicate how many players' test results have been accounted for. 

The union also posted an overview map of COVID-19 cases throughout the United States as part of a database available to players and the public on its website, with the metropolitan areas of all 32 NFL teams highlighted within the graph. The map listed Miami as the city with the largest concentration of COVID-19 cases, followed by the Phoenix area, Jacksonville, Tampa and Nashville. 

The Northeast and New England regions showed the lowest number of COVID-19 cases within the last two weeks, with the Boston area having the lowest percentage followed by New York/New Jersey, Buffalo, Detroit and Philadelphia. 

Training camps are scheduled to begin in less than two weeks and the league and the union are still in the process of agreeing on health and safety protocols pertaining to the upcoming season, which the NFL has continually maintained it intends to hold under a full 16-game schedule. 

According to NFL.com, the league issued a counter-proposal to the union on Tuesday that called for a two-game preseason and did not include daily player testing. The report added that owners are scheduled to hold a conference call on Friday to further discuss the ongoing negotiations. 

Myles Garrett expects his shocking on-field clash with Mason Rudolph to "just be a small bump in the road" as he looks to play up to his reported $125million contract extension.

Garrett, the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, was handed a new five-year deal by the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday that is believed to include £100m in guarantees - the most ever for a defensive player.

Although the pass rusher has been productive in Cleveland, recording 30.5 sacks across his three seasons, his most notable act on an NFL field so far came last November in an ill-tempered rivalry game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Garrett clashed with Rudolph, ripping the Steelers quarterback's helmet off and swinging it at his exposed head, an act that resulted in him being suspended indefinitely, with the NFL eventually lifting his ban after the 2019 season ended.

The bad blood between the two continued to linger, with Garrett claiming he reacted to Rudolph using a racial slur - something the Steelers QB denied and an NFL investigation failed to corroborate, but the Browns defensive end does not believe the moment will define his career.

"My life's much bigger than one moment," he told reporters on a Zoom call.

"Me, the Browns and my team-mates are going to look past that and go on to greater success and that will just be a small bump in the road.

"It was a reaction to a situation. It won't happen again. Now I'm prepared."

Garrett added he had not spoken to Rudolph or Pittsburgh's head coach Mike Tomlin, who staunchly defended his player in the wake of the Browns pass rusher's accusation of racism.

"I don't have any ill intent towards either of them," Garrett stressed.

"I hope Mason Rudolph goes on to have success. I would talk to them. I'm going to keep my eyes moving forward."

The 2020 NFL regular season will begin in September and there will once again be high hopes for a Browns team that has talent on both sides of the ball but has yet to deliver on the field.

For Garrett's part, he wants to live up to the megadeal he has just penned.

"Now I have to assert myself as top dog," he said. "I feel like I'm confident and ready to do that.

"Time to prove it."

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott hit back at his critics in a series of Twitter posts on Thursday, calling for his naysayers to "put some RESPECT on my name".

The 24-year-old's standing in the NFL's running back hierarchy has been a topic of discussion this week, with the Tennessee Titans agreeing to a long-term deal with Derrick Henry, and the Madden video game releasing their latest rankings.

Elliott is joint-third on that list - behind Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey and Henry, and level with the Cleveland Browns' Nick Chubb - after amassing 5,405 rushing yards in his four years in the NFL, over 1,000 more than any other back in that timeframe.

His detractors may counter that Elliott has benefitted from playing behind perhaps the best offensive line in the league in that time, though he has clearly been riled by suggestions his impressive numbers should come with any caveat.

"There are a lot of great backs in this league but I don't understand why the media has to talk down on my game just to uplift other backs," he wrote on Twitter.

"We all are talented football players and can ball.

"Check the stats. Since I entered this league I have dominated year in, year out. Put some RESPECT on my name.

"Women lie. Men lie. The stats don't. Go do your homework."

Elliott, a three-time Pro Bowler, had 1,777 yards from scrimmage last season - second behind only McCaffrey's astonishing 2,392.

He produced those numbers having held out of training camp to try and get a new deal, a request the Cowboys granted they when they agreed terms of a six-year, $90million contract less than a week before their regular season began.

"Almost 1800 scrimmage yards and 14 TDs with no training camp and now I'm not the same back," Elliott added.

"I do appreciate the standard you guys hold me to though lol. But I promise you no one holds me to a higher standard than myself."

The Tennessee Titans and star running back Derrick Henry have agreed to a multi-year contract just prior to the NFL's deadline to sign franchise-tagged players.

The Titans had until 16:00 ET to reach an agreement with the 2019 NFL rushing leader, who previously accepted his franchise tender and would have earned $10.3million this season without a new contract.

Henry's new deal with the Titans is reportedly a four-year, $50m contract.

The 26-year-old's contract is the fourth-largest active deal for a running back, behind only the Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott (six years, $90m), Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey (four years, $64m) and the New York Jets' Le'Veon Bell (four years, $52.5m).

Henry – the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner – earned his big payday by leading the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards and tying for the league lead with 16 rushing touchdowns during a breakout 2019 regular season.

He then helped Tennessee advance to the AFC Championship game by rushing for a combined 377 yards in the Titans' upset playoff wins at the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.

Henry's rushing yardage total was the fourth-highest in a season in franchise history, and the most since Chris Johnson led the NFL with 2,006 in 2009.

A second-round pick by Tennessee in the 2016 draft, Henry is the second significant offensive player the team has locked up with a long-term deal this offseason. The Titans were able to re-sign starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a four-year, $118m contract in March.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will play the 2020 NFL season on a one-year exclusive franchise tender after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract by Wednesday's deadline.

Prescott had already signed his tender offer and will earn approximately $31.4million for the upcoming season before becoming an unrestricted free agent, unless the Cowboys opt to again place the franchise tag on him - a move that would count over $37m towards the 2021 salary cap.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection is one of 10 players who have signed their franchise tenders but were unable to come to terms on multi-year contracts with their respective teams. Two others, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, have yet to sign their offers.

The Tennessee Titans were able to agree to a reported four-year, $50m contract with 2019 NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry just prior to the deadline, while the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs locked up defensive lineman Chris Jones with a four-year, $85 million deal on Tuesday.

Along with Prescott, Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rusher Shaq Barrett, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree, Minnesota Vikings safety Anthony Harris, Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry, Baltimore Ravens pass rusher Matthew Judon, Washington guard Brandon Scherff, Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons, New England Patriots guard Joe Thuney and New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams will play under the franchise tag in 2020.

Ngakoue has publicly declared his intention to no longer play for the Jaguars and has requested a trade, though the team has yet to find a suitable offer for the standout edge rusher.

NFL.com reported on Tuesday that Prescott had turned down a multi-year offer from the Cowboys that would pay him between $33 and $35m annually and included over $100m in guaranteed money.

The soon-to-be 27-year-old is coming off a stellar 2019 season in which he established career highs of 4,902 passing yards and 30 touchdown passes while directing the NFL's top-ranked offense in terms of total yards per game.

Negotiations between the Cowboys and Prescott were likely impacted by the recent 10-year, $450m extension the Chiefs gave to 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes that reset the top end of the quarterback pay scale.

Judon is currently slated to earn the second-highest salary among the group unable to land multi-year deals after he and the Ravens agreed to a $16.808m offer, a compromise between the tender rate for a defensive end and linebacker. Barrett, Dupree and Williams have filed grievances arguing they should be designated as defensive ends, which carries a higher tender value than linebackers or defensive tackles.  

The Tennessee Titans and star running back Derrick Henry have agreed to a four-year, $50million contract just prior to the NFL's deadline to sign franchise-tagged players, according to NFL.com.

The Titans had until 16:00 ET to reach an agreement with the 2019 NFL rushing leader, who previously accepted his franchise tender and would have earned $10.3m this season without a new contract.

Henry's new deal is the fourth-largest active contract for a running back, behind only Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott (six years, $90m), Carolina's Christian McCaffrey (four years, $64m) and the New York Jets' Le'Veon Bell (four years, $52.5m).

The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner earned his big payday by leading the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards and tying for the league lead with 16 rushing touchdowns during a breakout 2019 regular season. Henry then helped Tennessee advance to the AFC Championship game by rushing for a combined 377 yards in the Titans' upset playoff wins at the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.

Henry's rushing yardage total was the fourth-highest in a season in franchise history, and the most since Chris Johnson led the NFL with 2,006 in 2009.

A second-round pick by Tennessee in the 2016 draft, Henry is the second significant offensive player the team has locked up with a long-term deal this offseason. The Titans were able to re-sign starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a four-year, $118m contract in March.

The Philadelphia Eagles are set to play home games behind closed doors this season due to restrictions enforced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

City officials have informed the Eagles and the Phillies – Philadelphia's MLB franchise – that fans will not be permitted to attend games in 2020. 

Several NFL franchises, including the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, have already announced plans for reduced capacities that will see a limited number of supporters allowed to attend their games, provided they socially distance.

However, Eagles home games at Lincoln Financial Field in 2020 are likely to have no fans at all because experts believe it is impossible to completely rule out COVID-19 spreading among a crowd.

"The Eagles are still going to be allowed to play, although without crowds. The Phillies will continue to be allowed to play, although without crowds," Philadelphia's managing director Brian Abernathy told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"We have been in communication with the Eagles. We have told them our expectations are that they don't have fans."

The 2020 MLB season is finally set to begin next week, while the NFL campaign starts in September.

The United States has been the country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with over 3.5million confirmed cases of the virus.

In terms of whether fans will be allowed into stadiums, the NFL is allowing each market to determine how many can attend.

The New England Patriots on Tuesday became the latest NFL team to announce they will host significantly reduced-capacity crowds at home games this season, pending state and local government approval. 

The team said they plan to play in front of about 20 per cent capacity if fans are allowed in Gillette Stadium this season.

The Patriots also said fans would be required to wear masks at all times and adhere to social distancing of at least six feet.

The team earlier had said that parking for home games would be free at all Gillette Stadium lots, and all tickets would be mobile.

New England's first regular-season home game is scheduled for September 13 against the Miami Dolphins. The team's preseason schedule has not been finalised but it is likely that one of the two games will be at home if a preseason is held.

The Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers are two of the teams that previously announced plans for reduced capacity at home games this season.

The Kansas City Chiefs and star defensive tackle Chris Jones agreed to a four-year contract worth up to $85 million, ESPN reported on Tuesday.  

Jones had been given the team's franchise tag earlier this offseason and would have been paid just over $16million in 2020.  

His new contract replaces his franchise tender and comes just a day before the NFL's deadline to sign franchise players to multi-year deals.  

According to ESPN, the contract includes $60m in guarantees, including $37m paid at signing. Performance and participation bonuses make up $5m in the deal.  

The contract comes just eight days after the reigning champion Chiefs signed Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes to a record 10-year deal worth up to $503m.  

Jones, 26, was a second-round draft pick out of Mississippi State in 2016 and has played in 61 of a possible 64 games since.  

At 6ft 6in and 310 pounds, has proven valuable both against the run and the pass, especially over the last three seasons.  

Jones is one of 13 players to have at least 30 sacks and at least 30 tackles for loss over the last three seasons, regardless of position. He has also forced seven fumbles, knocked down 16 passes and made two interceptions over that span.  

Jones' 2018 season elevated his status as one of the NFL's most disruptive defenders as he tallied 15.5 sacks, 29 quarterback hits and 19 tackles for loss.  

Last season the Chiefs' defense allowed 18.5 points per game with Jones in the line-up and allowed 22.7 points per game when he missed three games with a groin injury.  

Patrick Mahomes has shown remarkable maturity in his short but spectacular time in the NFL, and the Super Bowl MVP's understanding of his platform was key in pushing the league to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Mahomes, who recently signed a 10-year extension worth up to $503million with the Chiefs, was one of several Black NFL stars to appear last month in a video calling for the league to speak out in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

A day later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a video message apologising for the league's previous response to players kneeling during the national anthem in protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

Encouraging players to peacefully protest, Goodell said: "We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter."

Speaking to GQ about the video he featured in alongside the likes of Odell Beckham Jr, Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas, Mahomes said: "I understand my platform.

"I understand that my part in the video is a big part of it. It wasn't something I could sit back on and worry about my next contract, because I needed to use my platform to help. Sometimes it's not about money. It's not about fame. It's about doing what's right."

Goodell received criticism for not mentioning former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains out of the league having famously been the first to kneel in 2016, in his video.

However, 24-year-old Mahomes is confident Goodell and the league want to bring about meaningful change.

He said of his conversations with the commissioner and Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt: "They, as much as us, want to do the right thing.

"I remember talking [with Goodell] about having maybe a social justice officer that can point people in the right direction. So whenever you wanna help out the community, you have someone that works with the team that can help. He was encouraged. It was a great conversation. It lasted, like, 30 minutes to an hour."

Mahomes, the son of African American former MLB player Pat Mahomes and a white mother, explained how the experiences of other players on the video growing up and feeling "targeted" had struck a chord with him.

Speaking of his fortune in being spared the "craziness that happens in this world" because of the advantages provided by his background, Mahomes added: "The more I mature, I've learned that I was blessed to be in the situation that I was in.

"I've seen how people, on Twitter, have tweeted and said, 'Oh, you're not full Black'. But I've always just had the confidence and believed in who I am. And I've known that I'm Black. And I'm proud to be Black. And I'm proud to have a white mom too.

"I'm just proud of who I am. And I've always had that confidence in myself."

Washington wide receiver Kelvin Harmon will not have an opportunity to build on an encouraging rookie season. 

The 23-year-old has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the 2020 season after undergoing surgery. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the injury on Tuesday, and Harmon confirmed it. 

"Surgery went well last week, I'll be back better than ever," he posted on Twitter.

A sixth-round pick out of North Carolina State in 2019, Harmon played in all 16 games last season, finishing third in receiving yards for Washington with 365, while his 30 receptions ranked fourth.  

He established a rapport with fellow rookie Dwayne Haskins and his production significantly increased after Haskins took over as Washington’s starting quarterback in Week 9.

Having caught seven passes for 69 yards in the first eight weeks, Harmon hauled in 23 receptions for 296 yards in the final eight games.  

Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters is returning to the Philadelphia Eagles on a one-year deal to play guard.

Peters has anchored the left side of Philadelphia's offensive line since 2009, but the 38-year-old was not re-signed following the 2019 season.

However, after right guard Brandon Brooks tore his left Achilles tendon last month, the Eagles have opted to bring back someone with familiarity to their system, agreeing to a deal with Peters worth up to $6 million, with $3 million in guarantees, according to the NFL Network.

An undrafted tight end out of Arkansas, Peters began his career with the Buffalo Bills in 2004 before being traded to the Eagles a week before the 2009 NFL Draft.

The nine-time Pro Bowler has appeared in 205 regular-season games and is considered one of the best tackles of the last decade, but has struggled with injuries the past few seasons.

He missed the Eagles' Super Bowl run in the 2017 season after tearing his ACL and MCL, suffered a torn biceps and a quad strain in 2018, and tore meniscus in his knee last year.

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill has been released from a hospital in Rhode Island after undergoing treatment for COVID-19.  

The team announced the news in a statement on Monday, saying that Bidwill – who tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week after spending time on the East Coast – had his symptoms subside over the weekend.  

"This week I learned first-hand just how serious COVID-19 is," Bidwill said in the statement. "I'm very fortunate to have this experience behind me and strongly encourage everyone to continue practicing the important measures to avoid it themselves.” 

The state of Arizona saw a large spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases at the end of June and beginning of July. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the state has reported over 44,000 new cases since July 1.  

The club said that Bidwill has been working remotely since NFL facilities were shut down in March.  

Despite a flurry of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. in recent months, the NFL still plans to open training camps by the end of the month and kick off the season on September 10.  

The league and the players' union have yet to come to an agreement on testing protocols and safety measures for the season.

First Patrick Mahomes got paid, now he is a member of the “99 Club.” 

A week after signing a record 10-year contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs worth $503 million and $477 million in guaranteed mechanisms, EA Sports announced on Monday that Mahomes would have a 99 rating in the Madden NFL 21 video game. 

The 99 rating is the top rating a player can have in the game, and those with a perfect score are part of the “99 Club."

Mahomes was notified of the rating over the weekend by team-mate Travis Kelce in a video posted to Twitter by EA Sports.

In the video, the Chiefs tight end presents Mahomes with a package that contained a gold chain with a No. 99 emblem and a “99 Club” membership card. 

"I want to give a shoutout to EA Sports," Mahomes said in the video. "It's amazing feeling.

"When you grow up as a kid and you see those guys get that 99 rating it's a special thing, and to be able to get that 99 rating that's something I’ll forever have. It's a truly special moment."

Despite throwing 50 touchdowns passes in 2018 and earning NFL MVP honours, the 24-year-old Mahomes did not start last season with a 99 rating. 

His rating, however, did improve to a 99 as the season progressed and was capped with Mahomes leading the Chiefs to their first NFL championship in 50 years with a 31-20 come-from-behind victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. 

 

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