Larry Fitzgerald does not believe DeAndre Hopkins' PED suspension will have any impact on his long-term legacy.

All-Pro wide receiver Hopkins was this month suspended for the first six games of the 2022 campaign for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

The news served as a substantial blow to the Arizona Cardinals and their hopes of success in the coming season.

But Cardinals legend and former team-mate Fitzgerald rejected talk of the ban tarnishing Hopkins' reputation.

"I don't think so," Fitzgerald said when asked by TMZ if he thought the suspension would taint Hopkins' legacy.

"He'll still be a Hall of Famer. He's talented. He'll work through it.

"It's just some adversity and, you know, he's a tough guy, resourceful, and he'll work his way through it."

The Cardinals may have a tougher time working their way through his 2022 absence.

With Hopkins on the field last year in the regular season, they went 8-2, averaging 30.2 points per game. In the seven games he missed through injury, the Cardinals were 3-4, scoring 21 points per game.

They start their 2022 campaign with an extremely difficult assignment, hosting a Kansas City Chiefs team that has reached the AFC Championship Game in each of the last four seasons.

After a year away from the sport and with his broadcast career seemingly suffering a setback, Drew Brees teased a potential NFL return on Sunday.

Future Hall of Famer Brees posted on Twitter that he was "undecided" on his future amid reports of his time as an analyst for NBC coming to an end.

He wrote: "Despite speculation from media about my future this fall, I’m currently undecided.

"I may work for NBC, I may play football again, I may focus on business and philanthropy, I may train for the pickleball tour, senior golf tour, coach my kids or all of the above. I'll let you know."

Brees called it a career after the 2020 season - his 15th with the New Orleans Saints - and, while the competitive fire may still burn for an all-time great, the numbers suggest the correct course of action for the 43-year-old would be to stay retired.

Unlike Tom Brady, who swiftly unretired 40 days after announcing his decision to quit in the wake of one of the best seasons of his storied career, Brees endured one of his most underwhelming campaigns in 2020.

Brees remained extremely accurate, completing 70.5 per cent of his passes and delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball on 81.1 per cent of pass attempts.

However, he averaged only 6.41 air yards per attempt, the fourth-fewest among quarterbacks to attempt at least 50 passes.

His 31 completions of 20 yards or more were fewer than that of then-San Francisco 49ers backup Nick Mullens (33). Brees attempted just 21 passes of 21 air yards or more, illustrating an inability to push the ball downfield as his arm strength faded in the final years of his career.

Were Brees to make a comeback, he may not be able to do so with the Saints, who re-signed Jameis Winston to a two-year deal this offseason.

Saints head coach Dennis Allen said of Brees' tweet about a possible comeback: "I think it was a comment made in jest, and we certainly haven't had any conversations in that regard."

Given the age and the numbers from his most recent season, talk of a Brees return is indeed tough to take seriously.

The Green Bay Packers have agreed a four-year contract extension with Jaire Alexander to make him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.

According to multiple reports, Green Bay and Alexander have come to terms on a deal worth $84million.

The Packers have made that commitment to the 2018 first-round pick despite him playing just four games last season.

Alexander suffered a sprained shoulder in the Week 4 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and underwent surgery.

He did not play again in the regular season. Alexander was activated for the Divisional Round game with the San Francisco 49ers but played only eight defensive snaps as the Packers lost 13-10 at home.

Despite his injury-hindered 2021, Alexander is still tied for 14th among all corners for pass breakups since 2018, registering 44 in that time.

In his last full season in 2020, Alexander was arguably the top corner in the NFL.

He allowed a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted, on just 30.6 per cent of targets, the second-best ratio among corners with at least 50 targets.

Alexander was first in burn yards per target (5.22), burn yards per snap (0.84) and second in big-play rate allowed (13 per cent).

And he will now be paid at a rate that reflects his importance to the Packers, Alexander's deal set to pay him $31m in year one, $45m through year two and $61m through year three.

After being released by the Cleveland Browns, wide receiver Jarvis Landry has signed with the New Orleans Saints.

Landry, 29, has the third-most receptions and fourth-most targets in the entire NFL since his arrival in 2014.

Drafted in the same year as arguably the best receiver in the league, Davante Adams, Landry has 19 more catches (688 to 669) and 33 more targets (1,045 to 1,012) in just seven more career games (123 to 116).

The five-time Pro Bowler has spent the past four seasons with the Browns after playing his first four years with the Miami Dolphins, but his production tailed off badly in 2021, posting career-lows in games played, targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns as the Browns sputtered.

Landry joins a receiver group in New Orleans consisting of new first-round draft pick Chris Olave, and 2019 Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas, who missed the entire 2021 season with a serious ankle injury but is expected to be back in action at the start of the 2022 campaign.

The Saints also boast one of the best running backs in the NFL in the form of Alvin Kamara, and with quarterback Jameis Winston returning from a torn ACL, new head coach Dennis Allen may have the makings of a well above average offense.

It is a homecoming for Landry, who grew up in Louisiana and attended Louisiana State University.

The reigning Super Bowl champions will kick off the NFL season in Thursday night's primetime slot on September 8, as the Los Angeles Rams host this season's Super Bowl favourites, the Buffalo Bills.

There will be plenty of the Rams in this season's marquee timeslots as the full 2022-23 schedule was released on Thursday, including a Monday night fixture against the Green Bay Packers in week 15, and a Christmas Day game against Russell Wilson's Denver Broncos six days later.

The Broncos will not have to wait long for their first eyebrow-raising matchup, travelling to take on Wilson's former team, the Seattle Seahawks, in the first Monday night fixture of the season.

Week one's third primetime game sees Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers heading to 'Jerry World' to take on the Dallas Cowboys.

Patrick Mahomes – the man with the richest contract in the sport – will get his first primetime appearance of the season in week two's Thursday night showdown, as his Kansas City Chiefs host arguably Mahomes' only competition for best young quarterback, taking on Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers.

Four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers gets the Sunday night fixture in week two against the Packers' long-time rivals as the Chicago Bears come to town, and his week three matchup against Brady's Bucs will be must-see TV.

The Rams have the toughest strength-of-schedule based on their opponents' 2021-22 records (164-125, .567 winning percentage), while the Cowboys and the Washington Commanders are tied for the easiest schedule (133-155-1, .462 winning percentage).

Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions will be the only team in NFL this season to not have a primetime game.

The complete week one schedule features:

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams (Thursday night)

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday afternoon)

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets

Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans 

New York Giants at Tennessee Titans (Sunday late-afternoon)

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers 

Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night)

Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (Monday night)

Tom Brady will join FOX Sports as an NFL analyst when he brings an end to his legendary career, but he first has "a lot of unfinished business" with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It appeared as though the 2021 season would be Brady's last when he announced his retirement after seven Super Bowl wins.

But the quarterback backtracked on that decision, returning to Tampa, where he has one year remaining on his contract.

While it is unclear whether Brady will again call time on his career in 2023, he has at least confirmed post-career plans.

"We are pleased to announce that immediately following his playing career, seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady will be joining us at FOX Sports as our lead analyst," said FOX executive chair and CEO Lachlan Murdoch.

"Over the course of this long-term agreement, Tom will not only call our biggest NFL games with Kevin Burkhardt but will also serve as an ambassador for us, particularly with respect to client and promotional initiatives.

"We are delighted that Tom has committed to joining the FOX team and wish him all the best during this upcoming season."

Brady reacted to the news on his Twitter page, posting: "Excited, but a lot of unfinished business on the field with the @Buccaneers."

The New York Giants have released cornerback James Bradberry.

Bradberry's departure has long been viewed as an inevitability, with the Giants unable to afford to keep his contract, which would have seen him paid just shy of $22million in 2022, on the books.

New York had been attempting to trade Bradberry, who was named to the Pro Bowl in 2020, with the Kansas City Chiefs reported to be the primary team involved in such discussions.

Bradberry is now free to sign with the Chiefs or any other team in the NFL after the Giants cut ties with the former Carolina Panther, having failed to come to terms on a trade.

The 28-year-old should have no shortage of suitors given his consistent on-ball production.

 

His 2020 season with the Giants saw him record 18 pass breakups and three interceptions, and he followed that up with 17 breakups and four picks in 2021, despite the Giants finishing bottom of the NFC East with a 4-13 record.

Only J.C. Jackson (37) and Xavien Howard (36) have registered more breakups than Bradberry's tally of 35 over the past two seasons.

Pete Carroll does not expect the Seattle Seahawks to trade for Baker Mayfield or another quarterback.

The Seahawks will head into the new season with uncertainty under center for the first time since before they drafted Russell Wilson in 2012.

Wilson was the team's undisputed starter for 10 straight seasons, winning one Super Bowl and losing another, until he was traded to the Denver Broncos this offseason.

The Seahawks received Drew Lock in that trade, but he struggled in three seasons in Denver, while Geno Smith – Wilson's understudy – is an alternative option.

Although Seattle did not draft a QB, they could still have made a big move for a new man, with Mayfield available after the Cleveland Browns signed Deshaun Watson.

But Carroll appeared to rule that possibility out as he outlined the Seahawks' approach to the trade market, albeit not discussing Mayfield directly per league rules.

"We're always competing," the head coach told 93.3 KJR-FM.

"I'm not saying anything you didn't think I was going to say, but fortunately that's always been the way we've operated, and it fits again. So, we're looking.

"I don't see us making a trade for anybody at all. I don't see that happening.

"But we're certainly going to continue to be open to chances to help our club, and meanwhile we're just going to be battling and competing our tails off.

"There's always possibilities, so we keep open to that."

The Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers will contest the NFL's first game in Mexico City since 2019.

Estadio Azteca hosted a game every year from 2016 to 2019, save for the 2018 season when the Rams' clash with the Kansas City Chiefs was moved back to Los Angeles because of poor field conditions.

But the coronavirus pandemic meant there were no International Series games in 2020, with Mexico City left off the schedule for 2021.

It was confirmed in February that the Cardinals would host a game in Mexico City and it was announced on Wednesday that they will face their NFC West rivals on November 21.

Both the Cardinals and the Niners made the playoffs in 2021, Arizona losing in the Wild Card round to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Rams and San Francisco beaten by the same opposition in the NFC Championship Game.

The Cardinals and the Niners met in the first NFL game to be played in Mexico back in 2005, with Arizona claiming a 31-14 victory.

The Green Bay Packers' first regular-season game outside of the United States will see them face the New York Giants.

It was confirmed in February that reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers and Co. would play in London for the first time.

That game will take place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 9, with the Packers taking on a historic NFC foe in Week 5.

The Giants won the inaugural London game at Wembley in 2007, defeating the Miami Dolphins, and beat the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham in 2016.

Tottenham will also play host to a clash between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints on October 2.

Both the Vikings and Saints have played and won twice in London, New Orleans shutting out the Miami Dolphins on their last appearance in 2017.

The sole Wembley game will see new Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson face Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars at England's national stadium on October 30.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks will contest the NFL's first regular-season game to be held in Germany.

Munich's Allianz Arena was already known as the venue for the historic fixture, with Germany joining the United Kingdom and Mexico in hosting NFL regular-season games.

Now the matchup is set, with Tom Brady and the Bucs taking the role of home team against one of their NFC rivals.

The Bucs and Seahawks will face off on November 13, when Tampa Bay will likely be heavy favourites following Seattle's 2021 struggles and their subsequent trade of star quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason.

Tampa Bay suffered defeat in each of their three visits to London, though all of those games took place before they acquired Brady in 2020.

The Seahawks beat the then-Oakland Raiders 27-3 in their sole game at Wembley in 2018.

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch expects All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel to remain with the team in 2022.

Samuel last month requested a trade from the Niners, having reportedly refused to engage in contract negotiations with San Francisco. The 2022 season will mark the final year of his rookie deal.

A trade did not materialise during last week's NFL Draft, despite reported offers from the New York Jets and Detroit Lions, and Lynch is adamant the two parties can overcome their issues as the Niners seek to sign Samuel to a long-term deal.

Lynch told KNBR: "We're trying really hard with Deebo to work through whatever the issues might be.

"I always have really believed that there is a sacredness to those conversations and that they remain private, especially with things like this.

"I think it's in everyone's best interest we don't get into that. I don't think [the obstacles] are insurmountable. I think we can find a way to resolution, and we're hopeful for that because we know what he's been to this organisation.

"Thirty-sixth pick in 2019, and he's been so good on and off the field. Obviously, a tremendous player. He makes us better. I think we make him better. And we're hopeful that we get everything right and that we're rolling forward."

Asked if Samuel will be on the roster for the 2022 season, Lynch replied: "It's a yes for me, and that's our job. He's too good of a player.

"We've got too good of a thing going, and we want to keep that going. That's where I'll leave that."

Samuel's request was reported to be tied to dissatisfaction with his role in the 49ers' offense.

In addition to making 77 catches for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns – averaging a league-leading 18.2 yards per reception – in 2021, Samuel also carried the ball 59 times for 365 yards and eight touchdowns, breaking Eric Metcalf's record (six) for most rushing touchdowns by a wide receiver in a single season, set in 1989.

Samuel labelled himself a 'wide back' when asked to define his position, and his ability to do damage out of the backfield and as a receiver proved critical in the Niners' surge to the NFC Championship Game last season.

However, Samuel is thought to want to be used less in that multi-faceted manner, seemingly wary of his career being shortened by the wear and tear that comes with being deployed as a running back.

San Francisco picked running back Tyrion Davis-Price and receiver Danny Gray in the third round of the draft, with head coach Kyle Shanahan saying that pair can help lighten Samuel's workload.

The Niners are still to find a trade partner for Jimmy Garoppolo, who was expected to be moved on to allow last year's third overall pick Trey Lance to take over as the starting quarterback.

Revealing his belief they were close to a trade before Garoppolo's shoulder surgery, Lynch added: "I felt like we were close in some [trade] discussions, and then the decision was made to have surgery. That just brought things to a screeching halt. People just don't do that [commit to a trade], even with a likelihood that everything is going to be good.

"We continue to get calls about Jimmy, and we, as a group, got together and said he's too good of a player. He's got a lot of great tape out there. You don't just let guys like that walk out the door, and we want to either want to have Jimmy playing for us, which we're all right with, or we want him to get the value. ... I think once he starts throwing, people will feel more comfortable.

"And then, obviously, you've got to let things play out for other teams. ... Jimmy's a part of us. We're excited about that. But I think we all know that Trey's going to get the opportunity to go out there and play. He's got to earn that, but we believe he's in the process of doing that.

"It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if both of them were still here, and we move forward, and ... he is equipped to do that."

DK Metcalf has been "all smiles" during a chaotic but lucrative offseason for wide receivers, confident he will "get something done" to stay with the Seattle Seahawks.

Since the end of the 2021 NFL season, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and AJ Brown have all left their respective teams to land big-money contracts.

Stefon Diggs stayed in Buffalo, but the Bills also had to splash out to keep their star receiver on board.

For Metcalf, an elite pass catcher with one year of his rookie deal remaining, there is clearly an opportunity to get paid.

Adams (34) and Hill (31) are two of only four players to catch more touchdown passes than Metcalf (29) during his three-year career, while he is just the second Seahawk – after Joey Galloway – to tally 900 receiving yards in each of his first three seasons in the league.

Seattle have already lost quarterback Russell Wilson for the 2022 season and will no doubt be keen to commit Metcalf to a new contract, but the 24-year-old remains calm.

"It's all smiles right now, because I know it's just a matter of when," Metcalf told Club Shay Shay when asked about the league-wide investment at wide receiver.

"I can't stress over it, can't think about it too much, because I'd drive myself crazy.

"So, I've just been enjoying this offseason, enjoying life, taking it a day at a time. It may sound cliche, but that's really how I'm living right now."

He added: "We're going to get something done. I think I'm going to be in Seattle for the next coming years."

Former Super Bowl champion Wilson and the 7-10 Seahawks endured a tough final year together, but Metcalf's deep-ball threat continued to cause problems for the opposition in 2021.

Of his 12 TD catches, 10 were on passes of 10 yards or more. The Seahawks completed 21 TD passes of 10 yards or more, the fifth-most in the league, despite completing only 138 total passes of 10 yards or more, the third-fewest in the league.

Metcalf's average depth of target of 13.1 yards was fifth-deepest among wide receivers with 100 or more targets – a category led by team-mate Tyler Lockett (15.2 yards), who caught six TD passes of 10 yards or more.

The New Orleans Saints have agreed a deal to sign All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu.

According to a report by ESPN's Adam Schefter, three-time first-team All-Pro has reached an agreement on a three-year, $33million deal with the Saints.

The deal, which still needs to be signed, includes $18m in guaranteed money.

New Orleans-born Mathieu returns home after a three-season spell with the Kansas City Chiefs that saw him play in two Super Bowls.

The Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV before losing 31-9 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.

Mathieu made 13 interceptions over the past three seasons, tied second among all safeties in that span.

His 27 pass breakups put him tied seventh over the same period and Mathieu will hope to have the same impact for his hometown team, who are looking to bounce back under new head coach Dennis Allen after missing the playoffs in 2021 with a 9-8 record.

 

 

 

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