Welcome to the July 12 edition of the Five at 5, bringing you all the NFL news and notes you need to let the workday melt away.
NFL News and Notes: Signings like Morgan Fox fortifying Carolina Panthers’ defense
Their trade for Sam Darnold got all of the headlines. Yet, if the Carolina Panthers take a huge leap forward in 2021, it might be because general manager Scott Fitterer significantly upgraded Phil Snow’s defense on the cheap.
There were no major splash signings. Instead, it was a series of value-laden additions that should help complement an already talented young core.
Edge defender Haason Reddick on a one-year, $6 million contract is one of the best signings of the free-agency cycle. Linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback A.J. Bouye could end up playing starter snaps despite each signing for less than $4 million annually.
Morgan Fox emerges on the defensive front
Then there’s do-everything defensive lineman Morgan Fox. A team-friendly deal in 2021 thrilled him because it was way better than the team-friendly deal he signed in 2020.
Fox is aboard at $8 million over two years, his reward for taking a one-year minimum offer to remain with the Rams the year prior. Fox, we’re told, drew basically zero interest from teams throughout much of the 2020 offseason and decided to return to Los Angeles on a prove-it, no-frills deal.
Prove it he did, with a career-high 6 sacks. And when he went back to the open market this past spring, the reception couldn’t have been more different.
“It kind of made me focus a little bit more and intrinsically [say], ‘Hey, you can do this and if you want to stay in this league, you’re going to have to bet on yourself and win,'” Fox told PFN recently. “This was a big motivating factor for me. It helped put another chip on my shoulder, ‘Hey, people don’t really believe in you and they don’t think you’re a good player and you’re worth it.’ It helped me develop a chip on my shoulder to rise to the moment of betting on myself.”
How did Fox get here?
It’s stories like Fox’s that help make the NFL great. Born into a military family, Fox essentially went unrecruited out of high school. So he decided to attend Division II’s Colorado State-Pueblo and had a solid but not stupendous college career. As a result, he went undrafted before signing on with the Rams as a rookie free agent in 2016. Joining an absolutely loaded defensive line, he saw an opportunity to learn from the best.
Five years later, he’s built a reputation as a dogged, versatile defender who regularly plays behind the line of scrimmage.
“Morgan is exactly the type of human and player that we represent,” said agent David Canter, whom Fox hired to negotiate his last two contracts. “He’s an outstanding, high-character hard worker who wants greatness at all times. It’s such a pleasure to watch him grow and achieve his dreams. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Fox’s dreams include winning at the highest level. The Panthers might have a chance if Darnold has a successful career reboot and Carolina’s defense meets expectations.
Brian Burns and Donte Jackson highlight an ascending core that has no significant piece over the age of 30.
“There are so many variables that make players and teams good,” Fox said. “I definitely believe the front office and the coaches have brought together a team of very talented individuals who I think are going to blow up on the scene and definitely make a name for themselves as well as make a name for the team. I think the team is going to come together as a unit and really surprise a lot of people.”
Atlanta Falcons promptly release Barkevious Mingo following child abuse allegations
The Atlanta Falcons’ swift action in cutting Barkevious Mingo after some truly horrific child abuse allegations against him came to light was the right (and probably easy) decision.
“After being made aware today of allegations involving Barkevious Mingo and gathering information on the matter, the Atlanta Falcons have terminated his contract,” the team announced just after midnight Sunday.
The roster move came shortly after the club learned that cops outside of Dallas booked Mingo on an indecency with a child/sexual contact arrest last Thursday, a crime that is a second-degree felony in Texas.
By cutting Mingo, the Falcons are, at least for now, eating $1.1 million in dead money. However, any guarantees will likely void if the team/league can prove he violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Mingo’s contract reflected what the market thought of 2013 NFL Draft‘s sixth overall pick — a bottom-of-the-roster talent who likely, but not assuredly, would have made the team if not for his arrest.
His departure leaves Atlanta with seven outside linebackers on their roster. Yet, just four of those seven have played in the NFL: Dante Fowler, Steven Means, Shareef Miller, and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner.
Alex Gibbs, architect of the Denver Broncos’ zone-blocking principles, dies at 80
Alex Gibbs, the mastermind of the Denver Broncos’ influential zone-blocking scheme, has died from complications from a stroke, the organization announced Monday.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Alex Gibbs, who had a profound impact on the Denver Broncos and the National Football League as an offensive line coach,” the Broncos wrote. “During his 14 years with the Broncos, Coach Gibbs left a lasting legacy on this league with his innovative blocking schemes and outstanding teaching ability. He helped the Broncos to Super Bowls during three different decades — including back-to-back World Championships — while forging a reputation as one of the greatest assistant coaches in NFL history.”
Gibbs’ greatest legacy was proving that lighter, more agile linemen could be just as effective, if not more so, at creating space for running backs. His system helped turn Terrell Davis, the 196th pick in 1995, into a Hall of Famer and helped John Elway finally win Super Bowls in the final two years of his iconic career.
Among Gibbs’ contributions to football — demonstrating how effective linemen can be when working in tandem on specific areas of a defensive front, as opposed to assigning each one a specific player to block.
NFL News and Notes: N’Keal Harry intends to attend training camp
N’Keal Harry might want out of New England, but it doesn’t sound like he plans to force his way out.
The Patriots’ third-year wide receiver intends to attend training camp, per NFL reporter Josina Anderson, who broke the news on Twitter.
Update: As dialogue continues with the team, I'm told the current plan is for #Patriots WR N'Keal Harry to attend training camp. In his ongoing preparation for team activities, Harry currently has plans to train with T.J. Houshmandzadeh, per source.
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) July 12, 2021
That news comes less than a week after Harry’s agent, Jamal Tooson, told NFL Media that Harry needs a “fresh start.” A formal trade request has been made with the organization. Anderson reported that “dialogue continues” between Harry’s team and the Patriots’ front office.
Harry has been a disappointment since the Patriots took him No. 32 in the 2019 NFL Draft’s first round. He has 45 catches and 4 touchdowns in two seasons.
Training camp details continue to emerge
More training camp schedule dates have dropped.
The latest: Seattle Seahawks announced Monday they are opening their doors to the public for 12 practices beginning July 28.
“There’s nothing quite like the exhilarating atmosphere the 12s create on gameday at Lumen Field so we are thrilled to be able to host fans in full capacity this season,” said Chuck Arnold, President, Seattle Seahawks and First & Goal Inc. “We can’t wait to show the 12s how much we missed them last season by hosting some incredible events this summer, including having fans back at Seahawks Training Camp, one of our organization’s most beloved annual traditions. We are grateful to our state and local public health and government officials for their continued guidance and support as we work together to ensure a safe and fun experience for all of our fans, players and staff.”
More details are available at Seahawks.com.
Want more NFL news and analysis?
Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay in the loop on all things around the NFL. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis concerning the 2021 season and beyond.