NFL notebook Rainfall delays construction on new home for Rams and Chargers
(TSX / STATS) -- Record rainfall delayed construction on the new home of the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers, and the teams announced the complex including a multi-use stadium for the recently relocated NFL franchise will not be ready or play in 2019 as expected.
Rain deluged California from January to March and critical construction landmarks were missed along the way.
"Our focus is always on the fan experience," Chargers president A.G. Spanos said in a statement. "Our future home will be the best stadium in the NFL and deliver a transformational experience for Chargers fans. If getting it right means pushing back the completion date, then I think the extra year is well worth it."
The principal project developer told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that the record rains came in the critical "evacuation phase" and "knocked us for a loop." Water stood at depths of 12 to 15 feet in areas where excavation was planned.
The $2.6 billion football facility is part of a multiple-phase project.
The Chargers will play at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. through the 2019 season while the Rams will stay at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams played last season at the Coliseum after relocating from St. Louis before spring minicamp began.
San Diego lost the Chargers to Los Angeles amidst a nearly decade-long stadium spat.
In March, the Chargers announced season tickets sold out for the 30,000-seat StubHub Center, which is less than half the capacity of their San Diego home, Qualcomm Stadium.
Owner Stan Kroenke and the Rams broke ground at the Inglewood complex in November 2016. The venue includes an "entertainment district" with restaurants and hotels, and studio space for the NFL Network.
--Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said he can see the writing on the wall after the team moved up to select Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes II in last month's draft.
"I think (the Chiefs are) committed to me through this year," Smith said on Wednesday, via ESPN. "That's just the nature of it. If you don't go out there and perform, I mean, coach (Andy) Reid and (quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy) are very honest. You've got to go out there and do your deal. We all have to.
"Whether or not we drafted Patrick, it doesn't change that, right? If you're not good enough and didn't get it done, you're not going to be around long. That's just our culture. I know it. That's the nature of the position."
Kansas City traded away the 27th overall pick, its first-round selection in 2018 and a third-rounder this year to the Buffalo Bills in order to move up to 10th to take Mahomes.
The scenario is a familiar one for Smith, who saw the San Francisco 49ers draft Colin Kaepernick in the second round in 2011. Midway through the following season, Kaepernick replaced Smith as the starter and the latter was traded to the Chiefs following the campaign.
"I've been through it," the 33-year-old Smith said. "I'm in a different place than the last time I kind of dealt with something like this, (but) I get it, right? If any of us were the GM, this in my opinion might be the most important position in all of sports. You'd be crazy not to be stockpiling talent.
"So I get it, going into Year 13. You understand it. At the same time, it doesn't change my focus, right? I still feel I've got a lot of years left in me. I still feel like I'm getting better, to be honest with you."
Mahomes threw for 5,052 yards, with 41 touchdown passes and just 10 interceptions, during his final season at Texas Tech.
Over his three seasons in Lubbock, Mahomes played in 32 games, with 29 starts, and threw for 11,252 yards, 93 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. That plus-64 difference definitely caught the Chiefs' attention, as did his career 63.5 completion percentage.
Mahomes becomes the first quarterback selected by the Chiefs in the first round since 1983, when they picked Todd Blackledge at No. 7 as the second quarterback taken in that legendary draft with six first-round passers. Three went to the Hall of Fame: John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.
--Disappointing tight end Ladarius Green was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday.
The Steelers used a failed physical designation, which also has been used by the Miami Dolphins to release Dion Jordan and the Kansas City Chiefs to release Jamaal Charles this offseason.
Pittsburgh signed Green to a four-year, $20 million contract last season and he earned about $6 million of the deal before being released. Parting ways with Green is expected to cost the Steelers $3.5 million in dead money.
In his only season with the Steelers, Green missed 10 games and made two starts. He caught 18 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown while battling an ankle injury and a concussion.
Before joining the Steelers, Green had a concussion history during four seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He also underwent ankle surgery in March 2016.
In five seasons since entering the league as a fourth-round pick in 2012, Green has 95 receptions for 1,391 yards and eight touchdowns in 53 games.
By releasing Green, the remaining tight ends on Pittsburgh's roster are Jesse James, Xavier Grimble and David Johnson.
--One day after signing a four-year contract with the Buffalo Bills, rookie wide receiver Zay Jones suffered a knee injury and will be considered "week to week."
The specifics of the injury were not shared by the Bills, but the No. 37 overall pick was hurt in Tuesday's organized team activity session and sat out the next two days. The team described the injury as a sprain.
Jones set a school record at East Carolina with an NCAA-record 399 career catches. He had 4,279 yards and 23 touchdown catches with the Pirates and is considered a leading candidate to be the team's No. 2 receiver alongside oft-injured Sammy Watkins.
Watkins was idle during the entire three-day session recovering from another foot surgery in January. The Bills declined the fifth-year option on Watkins for 2018.
The Bills moved up in the second round to select Jones after trading out of their first-round spot -- No. 10 overall -- in a deal that landed the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II.
Jones played for one season under current Bills wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan at ECU.
--The Indianapolis Colts are two steps closer to signing their entire 2017 draft class.
Indianapolis signed first-round safety Malik Hooker to a four-year rookie contract on Thursday and also inked fourth-round defensive tackle Grover Stewart to a deal.
The Colts have signed seven of the eight members of the draft class, with only third-round pick Tarell Basham, a linebacker out of Ohio, yet to do so.
Hooker, the 15th overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft, will receive a contract worth $12,850,988 that includes a signing bonus of $7,486,172, according to OverTheCap.com. The pact also includes a fifth-year option for the team in 2021.
Hooker recorded 74 tackles, seven interceptions and 11 passes defensed in 13 games last season with Ohio State. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder played in 26 career contests with the Buckeyes.
Hooker has yet to get on the field as he recovers from hip surgery in January.
Stewart collected 141 tackles, 27 sacks and two forced fumbles in 39 career games at Albany State. Listed at 6-5, 334 pounds, Stewart had 37 tackles, 7.5 sacks and one forced fumble in nine games last season.
Updated May 18, 2017