Dalton deal clears path for Nick Foles' big payday

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Dalton deal clears path for Nick Foles' big payday

For the second time since the start of the new league season, an NFL quarterback inked a filthy-rich contract extension that can directly impact the value of the deal Nick Foles can sign next offseason.

And for the second time, Foles essentially yawned and shrugged.

The Bengals and fourth-year quarterback Andy Dalton reached an agreement Monday on a blockbuster six-year deal. Reports vary on the total money, but they indicate a total that can be in excess of $95 million.

In June, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick signed an extension that could be worth more than $125 million.

Foles, who will be eligible for an extension after this year, insisted Monday that he’s not focused on dollars down the road.

“Like we were talking about earlier, I'm really happy for Andy, I think he's a great quarterback and well-deserved,” Foles said. “But I don't worry about it. When I’m on the field, that doesn't matter. My job is to do what I can to help us be a successful football team, so at the end of the day we'll see what happens.”

Per rules of the CBA, drafted players can’t sign extensions until after the completion of their third season. Kaepernick and Dalton were each second-round picks from the 2011 draft.

Foles, a third-round pick in 2012, will make $635,000 this season in base salary and workout bonus. Next year, he’ll make $680,000 if he’s on the roster unless he and the team negotiate a long-term contract.

Kaepernick and Dalton each signed “pay as you go” deals, which are structured to dole out big money in the signing bonus and first year of the extension but give the team flexibility for the long term. They’re loaded with incentives that can reap even more money if the player performs at a high level and if the team makes deep postseason runs.

Dalton reportedly gets $17 million upon signing and $5 million more in March to go along with his $986,000 base salary in 2014. He has a $4 million roster bonus next year along with a $3 million base salary, both of which he’ll likely see even if he struggles this year. But the Bengals can move on from Dalton in 2016 without a crippling cap hit if Dalton fails to perform.

So that’s $29 million over the next two seasons for Dalton, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie but hasn’t since. He’s had just one 4,000-yard passing season and hasn’t won a game in three trips to the playoffs. In his three postseason games, Dalton has completed 57 percent of his passes and compiled a 56.2 passer rating.

Dalton has a career 60.9 completion percentage and 85.7 passer rating, which are both worse than Foles’ career averages, albeit Dalton has 1,630 career pass attempts to Foles’ 582. Foles has completed 62.5 percent of his passes and has a career passer rating of 101.

If Foles comes close to duplicating his 2013 season and wins a playoff game or two this year, he can expect to cash in with a contract that blows Dalton’s away and mirrors the haul Kaepernick got from San Francisco.

But it couldn’t be further from his mind.

“It's a blessing to play this game. I'm never worried about that,” he said. “I always know that if you just take care of business and take care of business each and every other day the rest will take care of itself and you'll be taken care of. I'm really happy for Andy and I'm happy for Colin, those guys have done a great job. As a player, I just need to continue to excel on the field, and that's it."

Best of NFL: Steelers halt Giants' win streak at 6 games

Best of NFL: Steelers halt Giants' win streak at 6 games

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the New York Giants' winning streak with a familiar formula.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell rolled up 182 yards of total offense, and Pittsburgh's resurgent defense harassed Eli Manning into a flurry of mistakes in a dominant 24-14 win on Sunday.

Antonio Brown edged good buddy Odell Beckham Jr. in their personal showdown, catching six passes for 54 yards and an acrobatic scoring grab at the back of the end zone. Tight end Ladarius Green added six receptions for 110 yards, both career highs, and a touchdown as the Steelers (7-5) won their third straight to keep pace with Baltimore atop the AFC North.

Manning completed just 24 of 39 passes for 195 yards with two touchdowns and two picks in the red zone for the Giants (8-4), whose six-game run ended with a thud. Beckham was largely a non-factor despite a game-high 10 receptions for 100 yards.

New York managed just 56 yards rushing and couldn't convert on it few opportunities. Both of Manning's interceptions came near the Pittsburgh goal line and the Giants missed on all three of their fourth-down attempts.

The Steelers have reinvented themselves on the fly following a four-game midseason slide. Rather than try to overwhelm opponents with the firepower they showed during a 4-1 start, Pittsburgh has relied heavily on Bell and the defense to get back in the playoff picture.

Bell touched the ball 35 times -- 29 rushes and six receptions -- and went over 100 yards rushing for the third straight game by churning for 118. He did so against a defense that hadn't allowed an opponent to reach the century mark since Adrian Peterson in Week 16 of the 2015 season.

Pittsburgh methodically built a 14-0 halftime lead in unorthodox fashion. Points came on a safety for New York holding in the end zone; a pair of field goals by substitute kicker Randy Bullock; and a pretty grab at the back on the end zone by Brown, who leapt high in the air then secured the ball while landing with his right shoulder barely in bounds.

Brown's score was set up by a 58-yard interception return by linebacker Lawrence Timmons, the first of three fruitless trips into the red zone by the Giants.

New York briefly got back into it in the third quarter when Bell fumbled at the Pittsburgh 17 and Manning flipped a short pass to Rashad Jennings for a 13-yard score. Pittsburgh responded immediately.

Green, who signed a lucrative four-year contract in the offseason but missed the first eight weeks while recovering from various health issues, played a pivotal role. His 33-yard reception moved the Steelers to midfield. Six plays later, Roethlisberger found Green streaking down the slot from 20 yards to make it 21-7.

New York's next two possessions ended with Manning throwing a fourth-down pick to end one drive, then ending up underneath Pittsburgh's Ricardo Mathews on fourth down on another (see full recap).

Palmer, Cardinals hold off Redskins
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carson Palmer threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, David Johnson scored twice and the Arizona Cardinals held on to beat the Washington Redskins 31-23 on Sunday.

The loss by the Redskins (6-5-1) clinched a playoff spot for the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys.

Palmer's 25-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with 11:09 to play put Arizona ahead 24-20, the fourth lead change of the second half.

After a Washington field goal, Palmer's 42-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson with 1:56 padded gave the Cardinals (5-6-1) a 31-23 lead.

Washington drove to the Arizona 28-yard line before Patrick Peterson's interception of Kirk Cousins' pass with 41 seconds left sealed the victory.

Johnson, who also scored on a 1-yard run, became the second player in NFL history to top 100 yards from scrimmage in the first 12 games of a season. Edgerrin James was the other.

Johnson carried the ball 18 times for 84 yards and caught nine passes for another 91.

Larry Fitzgerald caught 10 passes for 78 yards, moving past Cris Carter into third on the NFL career receptions list.

Cousins completed 21 of 37 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. His 59-yard pass to DeSean Jackson on the first series of the second half set up his 1-yard touchdown sneak.

In the third quarter, Cousins was stripped of the ball by Calais Campbell, and Markus Golden returned the fumble 20 yards to set up Palmer's six-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd.

That gave Arizona a 17-13 lead. The Redskins came right back. Cousins threw to a wide-open Jamison Crowder on a 26-yard touchdown play to put Washington back on top, 20-17, with 1:06 left in the third quarter.

The Cardinals avoided what would have been the team's first three-game losing streak since coach Bruce Arians came to the desert four seasons ago (see full recap).

Seahawks crush Panthers, but lose Thomas
SEATTLE -- Thomas Rawls ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Tyler Lockett took a reverse 75 yards for a score to open the second half and the Seattle Seahawks routed the Carolina Panthers 40-7 on Sunday night.

Another prime-time game in Seattle was clouded with odd story lines right from the outset when Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was benched for the first play, only to watch backup Derek Anderson throw an interception . It was the start of miserable night for Carolina and a laugher that moved Seattle one step closer to the NFC West title.

Rawls and the run game set the tone for Seattle, gashing the second-best run defense in the NFL for 240 yards. Carolina entered the week giving up less than 80 yards per game on the ground.

Rawls finished with 106 yards on 15 carries, quiet in the second half after briefly being checked for a concussion. He was just the second 100-yard rusher for a run game that has lagged most of the season. Rawls' 8-yard run gave Seattle an early 10-0 lead and his 45-yard sprint early in the second quarter pushed it to 17-7.

Russell Wilson was 26 of 36 for 277 yards and a 1-yard scoring pass to Jimmy Graham in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks rolled up a season-high 534 yards and kept a three-game lead over Arizona in the division with four remaining.

Seattle safety Earl Thomas broke a bone in his lower left leg during a first-half collision with teammate Kam Chancellor while trying to intercept Newton's pass. Thomas hobbled off the field putting no weight on the leg and X-rays revealed a "cracked tibia," coach Pete Carroll told Seattle's radio broadcast.

On the play after Thomas' injury, Newton hit Ted Ginn Jr. on a 55-yard touchdown pass to pull the Panthers to 10-7. It would be the only highlight for Carolina.

Rawls immediately answered, darting through the Carolina defense for the 45-yard touchdown run and a 17-7 lead. Steven Hauschka added two more field goals before halftime and Lockett raced 75 yards on a reverse on the first play of the second half. In less than 10 minutes of game time, Seattle extended the lead to 30-7.

Newton's benching was for a dress code violation, according to the NBC broadcast and the single play he missed could not have gone worse. Anderson rolled out to throw a pass to Mike Tolbert. It bounced off Tolbert's hands and into the arms of Mike Morgan, a disastrous result for that only added to questions about coach Ron Rivera's intention with the punishment.

Newton finished 14 of 32 for 182 yards (see full recap).

Brady sets NFL wins record as Pats stomp Rams
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady became the NFL's career leader in victories by a quarterback, earning his 201st by throwing for 269 yards and a touchdown to lead the New England Patriots past the struggling Los Angeles Rams 26-10 on Sunday.

Brady, who was 33 of 46, had tied Peyton Manning last week in a win over the New York Jets.

His lone touchdown pass came on a 14-yard pass to Chris Hogan in the first quarter. LeGarrette Blount scored the game's first touchdown , rumbling for a 43-yard, ankle-breaking score in the first quarter while spinning around safety Maurice Alexander in the process. He finished with 88 yards on 18 carries.

The Patriots (10-2) have won seven of their last eight as they prepare for a tough stretch against three teams with winning records over their final four regular-season games.

On the same day that Los Angeles coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead were given contract extensions, the recently relocated Rams (4-8) proved they still have a long way to go after losing for the seventh time in eight outings.

The Rams entered the game ranked 31st in total offense, averaging just 295 yards per game. Those struggles continued Sunday. They managed just 25 yards in the first half, the fewest by a team in a game this season.

Los Angeles was outgained 402-162 for the game.

In his third career start, rookie Jared Goff was picked off twice, completing 14 of 32 passes for 161 yards (see full recap).

Chiefs beat Falcons on 2-point conversion pick-six
ATLANTA -- Eric Berry returned an interception for a touchdown, and then brought back another pick for a 2-point conversion that gave the Kansas City Chiefs an improbable 29-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

The Falcons, rallying from a 27-16 deficit, went ahead 28-27 on Matt Ryan's 5-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson with 4:32 remaining.

Atlanta decided to go for 2, looking to stretch the margin to a field goal. But Berry stepped in front of Ryan's pass and ran 99 yards the other way to give the Chiefs (9-3) their winning margin. It came after Denver won a game in similar fashion last month, returning a blocked PAT for the winning points at New Orleans.

Berry had another huge play with less than a minute to go in the first half, picking off Ryan's pass over the middle and bringing it back 37 yards for a touchdown. After reaching the end zone, the suburban Atlanta native handed the ball to his mother sitting in the stands at the Georgia Dome.

Those weren't the only big plays for the Chiefs. On fourth-and-2 from their own 45, Kansas City faked a punt and snapped the ball directly to Albert Wilson , who played his college ball in the same stadium for Georgia State. Wilson burst up the middle for a 55-yard touchdown that extended Kansas City's lead in the third quarter.

Alex Smith completed 21 of 25 passes for 270 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown to Spencer Ware. Travis Kelce was Kansas City's top receiver, hauling in eight passes for 140 yards.

Ryan was 22 of 34 for 297 yards, but his two huge mistakes cost the Falcons (7-5). Julio Jones hauled in seven passes for 113 yards, while Devonta Freeman had a couple of 1-yard touchdown runs (see full recap).

Jordan Howard rushes for 3 TDs, sending 49ers to 11th straight loss
CHICAGO -- Jordan Howard ran for 117 yards and a career-high three touchdowns and the Chicago Bears handed San Francisco its 11th straight loss, beating the 49ers 26-6 on a snowy Sunday.

The 49ers (1-11) extended their franchise-record losing streak and set a club low with 6 yards net passing on a day when Colin Kaepernick got lifted for Blaine Gabbert.

The Bears (3-9) finished with a season high in points and picked up a rare win in a matchup between two of the NFL's worst teams.

Matt Barkley, making his second start with Jay Cutler sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury, went nearly the entire first half without a completion.

But he led a touchdown drive near the end of the second quarter and finished 11 of 18 for 192 yards.

Howard, who came in with two rushing touchdowns, scored on a 1-yard run near the end of the first half.

A fifth-round draft pick from Indiana, he added a 2-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the third and a 5-yard run midway through the quarter (see full recap).

Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson disagree on mechanical issues

Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson disagree on mechanical issues

CINCINNATI – Normally upbeat and positive, Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz gave a terse answer, at least by his standards.

After the Eagles’ 32-14 loss to the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium (see Instant Replay), a game that was probably the worst of his young career, Wentz was asked about his proclivity for overthrowing his targets.

“Bad throw,” Wentz said blankly. “Just like last week.”

Those bad throws have been coming more and more frequently in recent weeks for the second-overall pick. After throwing one interception in his first five games, he’s thrown 10 in his last seven, including his first three-interception day on Sunday. A common thread has been overthrows.

When head coach and former QBs coach Doug Pederson was asked about those high throws from his prized quarterback, he said, “It’s strictly mechanics.” Pederson elaborated, saying they need to get Wentz off his back foot and stepping into throws. And then there were batted passes too.

“There were opportunities, obviously,” Pederson said. “Again, he's a young quarterback who missed a lot of time in the preseason, but now we just need to keep cleaning those things up.”

There might be a problem, though.

Wentz doesn’t seem to think there’s anything to clean up.

After Sunday’s embarrassing loss, the rookie said his mechanics feel the same now as they did when the Eagles started the season with three consecutive wins, before he had ever thrown a pick in the NFL.

“I don't think it's the mechanics,” Wentz said. “You make mistakes. Things happen, and that's just the bottom line.”

Is there anything that could be affecting his mechanics?

“I don't think so,” Wentz said. “You throw the ball 60 times, you're going to miss some. That kind of happens.”

Wentz seemed hesitant to take blame for his shaky play on Sunday (see breakdown of Wentz's performance), but he is right. Sixty passing attempts is an awful lot. In fact, it’s a record for an Eagles rookie and it’s the second most passing attempts a rookie quarterback has ever thrown in a game (Chris Weinke threw 63 in 2001).  

The reason for that, at least partially, on Sunday was the Eagles’ never got going offensively and their defense was porous at best, which led to the Bengals’ taking a 19-0 lead into halftime (see 10 observations from the loss). They had to try to throw their way back into the game.

“You never want your quarterback to throw 60 times, coming from behind,” Pederson said. “We put ourselves in a bind early in the football game. It’s going to be a learning lesson for him, obviously. We have to take a hard look at it. But by no means, the fact that he stood in there and still led the football team. He took some shots, but still stood in there and just shows you the kind of character and the toughness we have.”

For Wentz, who was once though to be the clear frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, the last couple months have been understandably difficult.

In the first four games of the season, he had a passer rating over 100 three times. He hasn't broken 100 since then and his 58.2 rating on Sunday was the second-worst of the season, behind his 52.4 in a winning effort against the Vikings.

“You just can't get down,” Wentz said. “You've got to stay optimistic. Obviously, the results are tough as of late. We're kind of on a skid. Like I've been saying, this is a good group of guys, a good locker room. Guys are in it until the end.”

It’s important to remember that, initially, Wentz wasn’t drafted to play this season. The original plan was to have him sit this season, but he was thrust into action after the Eagles traded away Sam Bradford.

Ultimately, Wentz will be judged for his play in years to come. For now, though, he and the Eagles have to try to find a way to fix this.

How do they do it?

“Obviously, we're on a skid,” Wentz said. “There's nothing really to change. We've just got to lock in and we've got to be more disciplined. At the same time, you don't get down. That's what I've been saying. This locker room, guys aren't going to get down. We've just got to be better with our discipline and just keep attacking. Obviously, we're in a tough spot, but we've just got to take it one game at a time.”