Deshaun Watson was visibly moved as Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander led the congratulations to the Houston Texans quarterback for his new contract.

Another of the NFL's fine young quarterbacks got his big second contract on Saturday, with two-time Pro Bowler Watson agreeing terms on a four-year, $160million extension with a whopping $111m in guarantees.

A virtual news conference was arranged shortly after confirmation of the contract was made and key figures from Watson's journey so far came on the call to mark the occasion.

And seeing Michael Perry, his offensive coordinator at high school, his college coach Swinney and friend Verlander made Watson tear up.

"A lot of memories," Watson told reporters of seeing the familiar faces. 

"A lot of talks. A lot of sacrifice, discipline. All those people, even including JV [Verlander], had something to relate to me.

"They've had a big part of my career, so it's just flashbacks that continue to pile up with so many special moments. It's awesome."

The emotions continued for the 24-year-old when his family delivered a special congratulatory message too.

"I've been crying a little bit – a lot of bit, really," Watson added.

"It's just an amazing moment, for me to be able to extend my career in a location, in a place, in a home, I would say, that my family loves, that I love, that I want to continue to dive into the community most of all, and just continue to build my legacy, just build our legacy as a whole and do something that we've never done before."

Even after Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes signed a record 10-year, $503m contract extension earlier this offseason, Watson will make an average of $39m in base salary over the next four years, the most of any NFL player over that time.

"The money is amazing. It's life-changing. It's great," Watson said.

"But the biggest thing is for the McNair family, OB [head coach Bill O'Brien], Jack [Easterby], to just trust in me and believe in me, that I'm their guy, I'm their quarterback, is the biggest thing, and that really touches me.

"Growing up, from where I'm from, there's not too many people that make it out. For them to just trust me, man, it means the most."

Los Angeles Chargers star Keenan Allen has signed a multi-year contract extension with the NFL franchise.

The Chargers announced a new deal for wide receiver Allen on Saturday, reportedly a four-year contract worth more than $80million.

Allen – drafted by the Chargers in 2013 – has been a Pro-Bowl selection in each of the last three seasons since 2017.

On Instagram, Allen celebrated by writing: "Want to thank the organisation...Tom Telesco especially for giving me an opportunity! Super juiced about this.

"CHARGER FANS WE LOCKED IN FOR ANOTHER ROUND, FOREVER A CHARGER!"

The 28-year-old has played in 86 games and made 82 starts for the Chargers.

Allen has posted 524 career receptions and 6,405 career yards with 34 touchdowns, while he has four 1,000-yard seasons.

He also set a team record with 104 receptions last year, and he is one of just three players in the NFL with more than 300 catches and 3,700 receiving yards over the last three seasons.

The Chargers will open their season against the Cincinnati Bengals on September 13.

Deshaun Watson has agreed to a four-year, $160million extension with the Houston Texans, according to multiple reports.

The deal contains $111m in guarantees and will keep the quarterback with the Texans through the 2025 season.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Watson will make an average of $39m in base salary over the next four years, making him the highest-paid player in the NFL in that timeframe.

Watson was selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and has blossomed into one of the league's premier young quarterbacks.

After an exciting rookie season curtailed by injury, Watson has led the Texans to successive AFC South titles.

They reached the Divisional Round of the postseason last year and led the eventual Super Bowl-champion Chiefs 24-0 before being undone by an incredible comeback in a 51-31 loss.

Watson has thrown for 9,716 yards, 71 touchdowns and 29 interceptions in three seasons in the NFL. He also has 1,233 yards and six touchdowns rushing as well as one receiving score.

He and the Texans will look for revenge against the Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who signed a 10-year, $501m extension this offseason, in the NFL season-opener at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday.

 

LeSean McCoy may have spent last season with Patrick Mahomes, but the running back already thinks Tom Brady is the best quarterback he has called a team-mate.

Veteran McCoy was a part of the Kansas City Chiefs for the 2019 season when Mahomes led the franchise to their first Super Bowl victory in half a century as they beat the San Francisco 49ers in Miami.

Mahomes was named MVP of Super Bowl LIV - having been named the NFL's best player in 2018 - and he received a record-breaking $503million, 10-year contract extension this offseason in a reflection of his status as one of the league's leading passers.

That elite echelon has included Brady for much of the past two decades - during which time he won six Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots - and the 43-year-old is out to prove he can do it elsewhere having signed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason.

McCoy, who was inactive for Super Bowl LIV, has also joined a Bucs team with Super Bowl aspirations and he has been impressed with what he has seen from Brady so far.

In a Twitter question-and-answer session with Bucs fans, former Philadelphia Eagles running back McCoy was asked who is the best quarterback he has ever played with.

"Technically, I haven't played with Tom Brady yet," the 32-year-old said.

"But it would be Tom Brady, for sure. Dang, I forgot Mahomes! Brady would be number one, obviously, even though we haven't played a game.

"It would go Brady, Mahomes, and then Mike Vick, and Donovan McNabb."

McCoy is a six-time Pro Bowler and was named to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 2010s.

He was linked with a return to the Eagles but explained why the Bucs felt like the best landing spot.

"The reason why I chose the Bucs? Just the DNA of the team," he added.

"I think we've got some great coaches here that I can learn from, that have been successful.

"The veterans that signed here, I think we have a lot of similarities. Then just the team in general - from defense to offense, the players we have already. Just the right fit, man." 

The Chicago Bears have opted to stick with 2017 second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky as their starting quarterback for the 2020 season.

Regarded by many as a bust after failing to live up to his draft status, most expected Trubisky to be benched, with the Bears having rejected the chance to pick up the fifth-year option in his contract and then traded for Super Bowl LII hero Nick Foles.

However, reports on Friday said the Bears have gone with Trubisky over Foles and he will be under centre when they begin the 2020 campaign against the Detroit Lions a week on Sunday.

Few expect Trubisky to revive his career in Chicago after a dismal 2019. Here we look at the key stats from last season to illustrate just how big his turnaround will have to be.

 

YARDS PER ATTEMPT - LAST (32nd)

Though Trubisky came into the league boasting an impressive arm, he has struggled pushing the ball downfield and averaged just 6.08 yards per pass attempt. That number was 32nd and last among players to average 14 throws a game in 2019.

TD PERCENTAGE - 30th

Trubisky threw for 17 touchdowns from 516 pass attempts, equating to a TD percentage of 3.3. Only Andy Dalton (3) and Joe Flacco (2.3) fared worse among qualifying quarterbacks.

INT PERCENTAGE - 15th

The former North Carolina QB performed better in terms of protecting the ball. He threw 10 interceptions, with his INT percentage of 1.9 firmly in the middle of the pack.

RATING - 28th

Quarterback rating is not seen as a perfect measure of performance at the league's most important position but it does reflect Trubisky's struggles last year. His rating of 83 was 28th of 32 qualifiers.

BIG PLAYS - TIED 25th

Despite having a top-tier wide receiver in Allen Robinson and a talented young pass-catcher in Anthony Miller, Trubisky had just 20 passing plays of 25 yards or more. Jameis Winston, whom the Bears could have signed before he inked a deal with the New Orleans Saints, led the league with 54.

Adrian Peterson has been released by the Washington Football Team just a week before the start of the new NFL season.

Veteran running back Peterson - the 2012 MVP - looked set for a reduced role under new head coach Ron Rivera this year.

But the 35-year-old was cut on Friday as Washington aim to decrease the age profile of their roster in an offseason of change.

Rivera has replaced interim coach Bill Callahan, and Jason Wright has been installed as president, while the team is in the process of changing their name.

Peterson still did not anticipate his place was in question, though, telling ESPN: "It comes as a surprise. I didn't feel I showed anything that would warrant being released."

The seven-time Pro Bowler, who made his name in 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, had been at Washington for two years, missing just one game in that time.

Peterson had 462 carries for 1,940 yards and 12 touchdowns, also scoring a single rare receiving TD.

Despite Friday's shock news and his advancing years, Peterson is confident he still has a future in the NFL.

"Without a doubt, I definitely want to play," he added. "We'll see what happens.

"Every new chapter is a blessing. Whatever comes next, I'll be blessed to attack it. I can't be down on myself. I know it wasn't because of my ability or inabilities to do something. It came down to those guys making their decision.

"It just sucks because I feel this team really has some promise and I won't be a part of it."

Washington start the year against the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday.

Lionel Messi is staying at Barcelona, but will he regret it?

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner last month announced his intention to leave his only senior club after a dismal 2019-20 season.

But with Barca insisting either Messi or any suitor would be required to pay his €700milllion release clause, their captain will instead remain at Camp Nou.

Messi is far from the first sports star to perform a U-turn when considering his future, though...
 

CRISTIANO RONALDO

Messi's great rival similarly tried to force a move in 2008, albeit Ronaldo was on a high after winning the Champions League with Manchester United.

The Portuguese had his heart set on a transfer to Real Madrid and made his desire clear as he publicly agreed with Sepp Blatter's claim keeping a player at a club against his will was like "modern slavery".

United would not budge, though, and Ronaldo stayed for another year and returned to the Champions League final, this time losing to Messi's Barca before finally getting his dream move to Madrid.

LUIS SUAREZ

Suarez, one of Messi's closest friends and a Barca team-mate, followed Ronaldo in attempting to leave a year before getting a big switch.

In 2013, the Liverpool forward announced his intention to depart Anfield, complaining of the media attention he received in England amid racism and biting scandals. Arsenal made a bid which appeared to activate a £40m release clause, but Liverpool insisted Suarez must stay.

As with Ronaldo, Suarez only stuck around for another season but was inspirational as the Reds came agonisingly close to the Premier League title. He then belatedly left to link up with Messi at Camp Nou.

KOBE BRYANT

Messi is not the first one-team man to come close to a move before backtracking. Lakers great Bryant, who would end his career with five titles in Los Angeles, briefly pushed for a trade in 2007.

Bryant had won three championships at that stage, but none since the final year of their three-peat in 2002, and openly discussed his frustration at the direction of the franchise while fuming at claims he was behind Shaquille O'Neal's exit from the team.

These issues came to a head as Bryant told the media he wanted a trade, but his U-turn proved far swifter than Messi's, quickly continuing his historic Lakers career.

BRETT FAVRE

Messi's return to the Barca fold has at least already proven more successful than Favre's attempted U-turn in 2008. After 17 seasons in the NFL, including 16 with the Green Bay Packers, the quarterback announced he was retiring.

But Favre then decided before the start of the new season he wanted to return to the Packers, who had by now been preparing with Aaron Rodgers – previously his understudy – in the role.

Barca may not have a ready-made Messi replacement, but Rodgers was more than capable of stepping up, meaning Favre had no job to return to. The veteran was instead sent to the New York Jets and failed to make the playoffs.

The Jacksonville Jaguars continue to move on from starters ahead of the 2020 NFL season having traded safety Ronnie Harrison to the Cleveland Browns for a 2021 fifth-round pick.

Having already traded wantaway pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings and cut starting running back Leonard Fournette in recent days, the Jags have now moved on from defensive back Harrison too.

A third-round pick out of Alabama in 2016, Harrison started 22 of the 28 games in which he played for the Jaguars, claiming three interceptions and accumulating 103 tackles.

The Jaguars' roster rebuild may damage their chances of being competitive in 2020, but it could seemingly put them in prime position to take Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Cleveland were seeking a defensive back after rookie safety Grant Delpit – who they drafted in the second round this year – ruptured his Achilles last month.

Free agent wide receiver Josh Gordon has re-signed for the Seattle Seahawks, according to his agent.

Gordon remains suspended indefinitely for violation of the NFL's policies on performance-enhancing substances and substances of abuse, though he applied to be reinstated in June.

That was Gordon's sixth suspension since the 2013 season and the fifth for substance abuse.

He played in five games for the Seahawks last season prior to his suspension, having started the campaign with the New England Patriots.

When he has been on the field, Gordon has been productive. He led the NFL with 1,646 yards in 2013 – his second year with the Cleveland Browns – though that remains the only campaign in which he went over 1,000 yards receiving.

Gordon, a Pro Bowler in 2013, has played in 63 games since entering the NFL in 2012 and he has made 247 catches for 4,252 yards and 20 touchdowns.

NFL, NFLPA and team facilities will close on November 3 in order to allow players and staff to vote in the United States presidential election, the league has confirmed.

After an offseason in which the NFL has seen other sports demonstrate for social justice and equality, elite American football is preparing to return next week.

The league released a statement on Thursday saying it had met with the NFLPA this week and "both parties repeated their commitment to continue working tirelessly to affect positive change".

The NBA's Milwaukee Bucks went on strike last week and the subsequent postponement of games prompted a discussion and agreement that placed a particular emphasis upon enabling voter participation in November's election.

The NFL has followed suit, its statement adding: "We also agree that our focus must continue to be on action."

The closure of facilities in November will "ensure that every member of the NFL family has an opportunity to exercise the precious right to vote", the league said.

It will also sponsor "non-partisan educational programmes" to ensure players and staff know how to vote, while working with state officials to establish polling stations at stadiums.

After the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, among other incidents, the NFL also addressed protests against police brutality.

"Clubs and ownership will facilitate meetings between state and local elected officials and leaders of law enforcement to discuss steps that can be taken to reduce conflict and improve relations between law enforcement and the community," it said.

"The NFL and NFLPA will work together to support college education for the children of the victims who will be recognised by our players."

The league added: "We are proud of our current and former players for the extraordinary work that they do in our communities.

"Club owners and employees are proud to support and work alongside the players to make our country better, fairer and more equal."

Washington head coach Ron Rivera has announced Dwayne Haskins will be his team's starting quarterback for Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The 2019 first-round pick faced competition from veteran Alex Smith - who is coming back from a horrific leg injury - and the recently acquired Kyle Allen, who is well known to Rivera following their time with the Carolina Panthers. 

After a difficult season in 2019, Haskins has been given the full backing of his new coach.

"Dwayne's lived up to everything we talked about in January," Rivera said. "He deserves the opportunity. He's going to get the opportunity, and he's going to get my support."

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Chargers have named Tyrod Taylor their starting quarterback for 2020.

The 31-year-old, who was the Buffalo Bills' starter from 2015 to 2017, has been preferred to rookie Justin Herbert for the spot.

"Right now Tyrod Taylor is our starter," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. 

"Until someone steps up and shows that they can run this team, that's the way we're going into it."

The Chargers open their 2020 season at the Cincinnati Bengals on September 13, the same day that Washington take on Philadelphia.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Rob Gronkowski expects to hit the ground running after his year out from the NFL.

Gronkowski came out of retirement to join former New England Patriots team-mate Tom Brady at the Buccaneers.

The 31-year-old tight end quit after winning the Super Bowl for a third time with the Patriots in 2018, but Gronkowski finds himself back in the league via Tampa Bay.

As he prepares for his comeback this month, five-time Pro Bowler Gronkowski told reporters on Tuesday: "It's going to probably be different, obviously, because there's going to be no fans and it's going to be my first game ever coming out of a year of not playing.

"But, I've been playing for nine years. I played in the NFL for nine years – it's just like practice. It just came back like that. I'm hoping that's how it is for the game.

"I'm going to prepare to the best that I can and hopefully right when I get out there it's just like any other game. Game on, baby – from the first play on."

The Buccaneers open their season against the New Orleans Saints on September 13.

Gronkowski added: "What I want to accomplish until the game is gaining the trust of my team-mates, gaining the respect of my team-mates, so when I go out there on the field, the guy next to me trusts me and I can go out there on the field and trust the guy next to me, too.

"That's what it's all about in practice – gaining the trust of each other so when you go out there, you can perform as a team, perform as a player and do what I need to do.

"Go out there and do my job at a fast pace without thinking and just play the game of football without thinking about it. That's what it's all about – that's what you need to accomplish in practice."

"That first snap is not going to be for, what, another 12 days, is it?" he said. "So [I'm] just preparing to the best that I can so when that first snap does hit I'm ready to go. I'm prepared, I'm not thinking.

"Hopefully it's just filled with joy, man. That's what I'm going for. Just go out there and be filled with joy and just be filled with adrenaline. That's all you can ask for. Joy and adrenaline – that's a great combo right there."

The NFL and NFLPA have confirmed four players have returned positive results following the latest round of coronavirus testing.

For the period of August 21-29, the NFL administered 58,621 tests to 8,739 players and members of team personnel.

In addition to the four positive tests among players, six personnel members were found to have contracted COVID-19.

The San Francisco 49ers on Monday announced that linebacker Fred Warner had been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

However, league rules prevent the 49ers from confirming whether Warner has contracted the virus or if he has simply come into contact with a person who had.

The 2020 NFL season starts on September 10 when the Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans.

Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium will be at 22 per cent capacity for the season opener as the United States continues to fight the spread of coronavirus.

The USA has over six million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has suffered 188,000 deaths.

Mike Zimmer believes the Minnesota Vikings can add to the game of pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue after acquiring him in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Vikings sent a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round selection that can become a third-rounder for defensive end Ngakoue.

Ngakoue has at least eight sacks in each of his four seasons in the league and his 14 forced fumbles are the fourth-most in the NFL since he was drafted in 2016.

In Minnesota he will pair up with another dynamic pass rusher in Danielle Hunter, who is coming off successive seasons with 14.5 sacks.

Asked about the acquisition of Ngakoue in a media conference, Zimmer said: "He's a guy who's had a lot of statistics as far as forced fumbles, sacks.

"Another pass rusher to add to our group. We're excited to have him.

"He's got some really good pass rush moves. We think we can add to his game a little bit with some of the other ones with [defensive line coach] Andre [Patterson], so hopefully that can help."

The Vikings' 2019 season was ended in the Divisional Round of the playoffs with defeat to the San Francisco 49ers.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins was sacked six times in the 27-10 loss as the Vikings proved unable to handle a San Francisco defensive line led by edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.

With Hunter and Ngakoue, the Vikings have a dynamic young duo of their own and Zimmer knows their partnership can be a significant advantage for a defense that is inexperienced in the secondary.

"A lot of times if you've got one guy there, they chip him, use a tight end to block, use a [running] back to block. If you've got two [pass rushers] it keeps a little bit more in protection," he explained.

"If they end up singling guys you get some more favourable matchups."

Zimmer has yet to decide whether Ngakoue will be deployed in a single position or moved around the defensive front.

Responding to a question on that topic, Zimmer said: "Is it ok if I just see him in practice one day?"

Zimmer expects Ngakoue to practice on Thursday as the Vikings prepare for their season opener with the Green Bay Packers on September 13.

The San Francisco 49ers have placed linebacker Fred Warner on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Warner being added to the list means he has either contracted COVID-19 or come into contact with a person who has tested positive.

A third-round pick in 2018, Warner has become an integral part of a 49ers defense that was among the best in the NFL last season.

He finished the regular season with 118 tackles, three sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown as the 49ers topped the NFC with a 13-3 record.

San Francisco then progressed to Super Bowl LIV, with Warner intercepting Patrick Mahomes in the 49ers' 31-20 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs in February.

 

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