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.

 

 

 

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is to be suspended for six games by the NFL for violation of the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, according to reports.

The 29-year-old required MCL surgery after suffering a knee injury in December's 30-23 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, missing the remainder of the 2021 campaign, including the Wild Card playoff loss to the Rams.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Cardinals will be without Hopkins for the opening six games of the season due to his suspension, which is final after he withdrew his appeal.

The Cardinals traded on draft day for another wide receiver, Marquise Brown, having lost Christian Kirk after the 25-year-old signed a $72million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the 10 games he did play in last season, Hopkins – a three-time first-team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection – managed 42 receptions for a total of 572 yards, with eight touchdowns to his name.

In the 2020 season, his first with Arizona after being traded by the Houston Texans, he recorded 1,407 yards from 115 receptions, and six TDs.

The Buffalo Bills made one of the most highly anticipated selections of day three of the 2022 NFL Draft, picking up punter Matt Araiza.

Known affectionately as the 'Punt God', Araiza became an internet sensation during his college career at San Diego State as he continually used his booming left leg to flip the field position battle.

He had 18 punts of 60-plus yards last season, as well as a pair of 80-plus punts. In college football in the 21st century, there have been just 10 punts of 80 yards or more.

However, Araiza saw two punters, Penn State's Jordan Stout and Georgia's Jake Camarda, picked ahead of him as they each went in the fourth round.

And, after being selected 180th overall, he will now play for a team that is not used to punting.

The Bills punted only 53 times last season, the sixth-lowest total in the NFL.

Given Araiza's track record, the Bills may be happier to do so in 2022.

Sam Howell's wait is over after the Washington Commanders selected him in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Once seen as a potential number one pick, Howell was instead the sixth quarterback taken in a draft in which just one signal-caller went in the first round.

Howell was taken with the 144th pick by the Commanders, and gets to reunite with his former North Carolina team-mate, wide receiver Dyami Brown.

In 2020, Howell completed 68.1 per cent of his passes and was second among quarterbacks from college football's Power 5 conferences with an average of 10.3 yards per attempt.

However, his completion percentage dipped to 62.5 and his yards per attempt average fell to 8.81 in 2021 after Brown and running backs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams all went pro, Howell throwing 24 touchdowns a year after tossing 30.

Blessed with one of the strongest arms in the draft class, Howell struggled to throw the ball accurately in his final college season. He delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 75.6 per cent of pass attempts last year, his ratio well below that of 20th overall pick Kenny Pickett (82.7). His well-thrown percentage dipped to just 50 on throws of 20 yards or more.

Howell will now get the chance to back up Carson Wentz in Washington, with the Commanders surely hoping he can put pressure on their recently acquired veteran and have a chance to become their quarterback of the future.

After being projected as first-round picks in the NFL Draft, quarterback Malik Willis and linebacker Nakobe Dean finally heard their names called in the 80s.

Willis, 22, came out of nowhere in 2021, throwing for 2857 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and was the most impressive athlete in this year's quarterback class, rushing for 878 yards and 13 touchdowns.

During the pre-draft process, Willis was discussed as potentially the second overall pick, but did not hear his name called until the 22nd pick of the third round, when the Tennessee Titans traded up and selected him at 86. 

He went three picks later than Dean, who was the leader of arguably the greatest defense in college football history in the Georgia Bulldogs' National Championship team.

In the conversation for first linebacker to be selected, information emerged during the second round that Dean's medicals were not as clean as he would have hoped after suffering a pectoral injury in the pre-draft process.

The medical red flags scared teams off until the Philadelphia Eagles selected him at 83.

The Atlanta Falcons selected quarterback Desmond Ridder with pick 74 of the NFL Draft.

It was the first time since 2000 that only one quarterback was picked in the first two rounds – Kenny Pickett to the Pittsburgh Steelers at pick 20 – with Ridder's selection coming 10 picks into the third round.

In his senior season, Ridder had 3334 yards with 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 14 games, leading the Cincinnati Bearcats to an undefeated 13-0 record before losing in the playoff semi-final to powerhouse Alabama.

It was the first time a school outside of the 'Power Five' conferences had made the College Football Playoff since its inception in the 2014-15 season.

For the Falcons, there is a glaring need at quarterback after shipping Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts, and Ridder will get a chance to compete with Marcus Mariota for the role of week one starter.

The Kansas City Chiefs selected wide receiver Skyy Moore with the 54th pick in the NFL Draft.

Moore, 21, has shot up draft boards since the beginning of the pre-draft process after running a slick 4.41 40-yard dash, and had seven games in 2021 with at least eight catches and 100 yards.

The Western Michigan receiver's best game came against Northern Illinois, with 12 catches for 206 yards and four touchdowns. From 12 games, he finished the season with 1292 yards and 10 touchdowns from 95 receptions.

Kansas City are in desperate need of wide receiver help after trading superstar Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, and the hope will be that Moore can fill the role of a field-stretcher for Patrick Mahomes.

Moore was the 13th wide receiver selected in the first 54 picks, setting an NFL Draft record.

The Green Bay Packers traded up to the 34th pick – the second selection of Friday's second round – to select wide receiver Christian Watson.

Watson, 22, measures in at 6'4 and clocked an eye-opening 4.36 40-yard dash, while flashing a 38-inch vertical leap, dispelling concerns about the low level of competition he faced playing at North Dakota State.

With the Bison, Watson scored a touchdown in seven of the first nine games of the season on the way to an FCS Championship.

He comes from the same school as quarterback Carson Wentz, who was selected number two overall in the 2016 draft.

At pick 34, Watson becomes the highest-drafted receiver by the Packers since Javon Walker was taken with the 20th selection of the 2002 NFL Draft.

With arguably the best receiver in the entire league, Davante Adams, leaving the Packers this offseason to join the Las Vegas Raiders, Watson is projected to fill a significant role as one of Aaron Rodgers' primary options.

Treylon Burks is not looking to draw comparisons with A.J. Brown but took the Tennessee Titans' trade with the Philadelphia Eagles as a show of faith.

Burks is in line to be the Titans' leading wide receiver in 2022 after Brown, previously the top man, was moved to the Eagles on the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Tennessee used the pick they received in return to select Burks at number 18, for now a far cheaper option than Brown, who was immediately handed a lucrative contract in Philadelphia.

The former Arkansas wideout has big potential, having been likened to wantaway San Francisco 49ers 'wide back' Deebo Samuel with his varied skillset and threat in the open field, averaging 9.3 yards after the catch in 2021 and also contributing 38 carries across three seasons with the Razorbacks.

Derrick Henry is in charge of the run game in Tennessee, though, and the pressure will be on Burks to replace Brown's production. The former second-round pick passed 1,000 receiving yards in two of his three seasons with the Titans – a mark Burks only topped in his final college season.

But the new man said on Friday: "I'm myself, I'm Treylon Burks. Usually I don't compare myself to anyone because I'm myself.

"There's no other person like me and I handle my business the right way, and that's what I'm going to do."

Rather than be daunted by the responsibility of replacing Brown, who was targeted on 33.5 per cent of his routes last season (second-most among wide receivers with 100 or more routes), Burks was emboldened.

"I'm just thankful for the opportunity that they believed in me to make that trade and believe in me to go out there and represent the organisation like it's supposed to be represented," he said. "That's what I'm going to do."

When Burks was linked to the Titans prior to Thursday, it was imagined he would line up alongside Brown, and he added: "That was one of my dreams, to also play with Brown. But I'm going to do what I do best and just go out there and play football."

New Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown has confirmed he requested his trade away from the Baltimore Ravens.

And the former Oklahoma pass catcher, who is to be reunited with Kyler Murray, says he told Lamar Jackson the Ravens' run-first offensive system "wasn't for me" more than a year ago.

In one of two significant receiver trades on the first day of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Cardinals parted with the 23rd overall pick in return for Brown and a third-round selection.

Having already secured perhaps the best player in the draft in ultra-versatile safety Kyle Hamilton, the Ravens used their additional first-round pick to bolster their offensive line in front of quarterback Jackson with center Tyler Linderbaum.

Jackson's Twitter activity suggested he was unhappy with the Ravens' business, frustrated by the loss of the wide receiver he has looked to more than any other in his NFL career to date (256 targets, 164 receptions, 20 touchdowns).

The former NFL MVP posted a series of messages, including sharing a post from Brown in which he said to his former QB: "Wish I coulda played with my brotha forever but ima see you at the top."

However, speaking to media on Friday, Brown revealed he was the driving force behind the trade, and his desire to move on could have come as no surprise to Jackson.

"It was just [about] my happiness," he said. "I talked to Lamar about it after my second year, then after my third year leading up to the end of the season.

"He wasn't playing, but I let him know again: I can't do it.

"It's not really on Lamar; I love Lamar. It's just the system wasn't for me, personally. I love all my team-mates, I love the guys, but it was just something I had to think about for myself.

"The Ravens and I both handled it the right way. I didn't go out and make anything public; I just kept it in-house, kept working, and it all worked out."

In the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Jackson's first two as a full-time starter, the Ravens ran on 56.0 per cent and 55.9 per cent of their plays respectively, leading the league in this regard.

Since entering the NFL in 2018, Jackson has recorded 3,673 rushing yards – by far the most among QBs and the seventh-most of all players.

Murray (1,786 rushing yards just since 2019) is third among QBs over that period, but Brown already knows he can effectively link up with the Cardinals star.

In 2018, at Oklahoma, Murray's 4,361 passing yards and 42 passing TDs led the Big 12, with Brown his top receiver with 1,318 receiving yards and 10 receiving TDs.

Murray wrote on Twitter following Brown's trade: "Let's run it back! Hollywood to the desert... Y'all welcome my boy!"

Aaron Rodgers has revealed he was caught out by Davante Adams' departure from the Green Bay Packers, but he was not surprised by the team's activity on the first night of the NFL Draft.

Rodgers' Packers future was the subject of speculation for two straight years before he committed to his only professional team this offseason.

However, two days after his new $150million deal was made official, Rodgers saw leading wide receiver Adams traded to the Las Vegas Raiders, where he landed his own big contract.

Rodgers threw 68 touchdown passes to Adams from 615 receptions on 922 targets – each his most to any team-mate in his Packers career.

Indeed, since Rodgers came into the NFL in 2005, there have been only four more prolific quarterback-receiver duos in terms of TDs – Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski (90), Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates (89), Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown (74), Drew Brees and Marques Colston (72) – despite Adams only himself entering the league in 2014.

And in an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show following the first round of the draft, Rodgers acknowledged he had anticipated continuing this link-up into 2022.

"It was a little surprising with Davante," he said. "Obviously, when I made my decision, I was still thinking he was going to come back.

"I was very honest with him about my plans and my future and where I saw my career going, as far as how many years I want to play.

"But I felt like he was going to be back. It didn't obviously turn out that way, but I have so much love for 'Te and appreciate the time we spent together and definitely wish him the best in Derek [Carr] in Vegas. But that's a big hole to fill."

It had been expected the Packers, armed with two first-round picks following the Adams trade, would draft at least one receiver to plug that hole on Thursday.

Instead, Green Bay took linebacker Quay Walker and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt.

However, Rodgers, who was famously infuriated in previous seasons by the team's draft-day decisions, including selecting his understudy Jordan Love in round one in 2020, remained relaxed.

"I believe it was six receivers they had first-round grades on," he said, "and when they were gone, I think it was pretty obvious they wanted to shore up those two spots [on defense]."

The alternative option for the Packers would have been a big trade of their own for a ready-made star, with A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown moved on Thursday while Deebo Samuel remains on the San Francisco 49ers.

"I think we've been in the mix with some of these guys," Rodgers said. "That's what it seems like.

"Now, there's not a lot of teams that probably want to trade receivers to Green Bay. I think we're probably at the back of the line for a lot of these teams as far as our picks are usually late and nobody wants to trade in the [NFC]... a guy like Deebo, probably.

"But at the same time, I think if you're not going to pay Davante — obviously we traded him, he wanted to move on — but going out and paying another guy... I don't know if that makes a ton of sense.

"Now, there are some veteran guys out there that I think could be possibilities, and also we have two picks in the second round tomorrow, and I'm sure there are some guys on the board that they probably like.

"Yeah, I feel like we've been in the mix, but does San Fran want to trade Deebo Samuel to us? Probably not."

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