CBS is set to host Thursday Night Football after winning the bid for eight televised games in 2014. The NFL confirmed the move to CBS coverage in a statement.
The eight games will air in the early part of the season but will be simulcast on NFL Network. The league's station will then air another four games on Thursday night and bring back Saturday night games for a Week 16 doubleheader, per NFL Public Relations' Brian McCarthy. CBS will handle the production for all of the games, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simm calling the action, including in NFL Network-exclusive games. NFL Network will handle all pregame coverage with its team.
The one-year agreement has an option for 2015 that the NFL will hold.
Here are some more headlines you may have missed on Wednesday:
The Falcons have cut former Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Stephen Nicholas. The move to let go of the veteran pair saves a combined $6.18 million in cap space for the Falcons. With the waiver wire re-opening on Monday, Atlanta was able to make the early move to let go of Samuel and Nicholas.
Samuel is a three-time All-Pro but had a rough 2013 season that saw him get benched for rookies Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. He was a member of the Falcons for two seasons, after being acquired by trade from the Eagles. His departure opens up more playing time for Trufant, Alford and the other young cornerbacks on the roster.
Nicholas was due to make $3 million next season. He was demoted during a rough season in which a majority of the Falcons linebackers missed time with injuries. Dropping Nicholas leaves the linebacker group a bit light, as they only have four on the roster. The Falcons top linebacker, Sean Weatherspoon, is coming off a season where he missed nine games with a knee injury.
Matt Cassel may not be in Minnesota next season. The quarterback has exercised his player option, which will void the second year of his contract with the Vikings, according to KSTP.com. The move forfeits the $3.7 million he was due in 2014.
It was assumed that Cassel would return and be the Vikings' stop-gap starter while the new staff developed a rookie passer. However, Cassel apparently does not want that role and is willing to bet on the market for a better opportunity. In a class that will likely feature Michael Vick and Josh McCown, Cassel likely felt that he could make some decent cash on the open market.
The former Pro Bowl selection finished the season with 11 touchdowns, nine interceptions and an 81.6 passer rating. His likely options for a possible starting job in 2014 would be the Raiders, Titans and Jaguars.
Jaguars expected to wait on Cecil Shorts contract extension
Jaguars starting wide receiver Cecil Shorts is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Shorts is eligible for a contract extension, but the Jaguars are expected to wait on a new deal until the season starters, according ESPN's Michael DiRocco.
The deal for Shorts is likely to wait because of his inability to stay healthy. He has missed 11 games in three seasons and dealt with a shoulder injury throughout last season. He also missed the final three games of the year with a sports hernia.
Despite the injuries, Shorts has been the Jaguars' most productive wide receiver. In 2013, Shorts produced 66 receptions for 777 yards and three touchdowns. That performance followed a 55-catch, 979-yard season in 2012, where Shorts also led the team with seven touchdowns.
Shorts is one of the few players drafted by the former regime in Jacksonville to actually have some success. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Redskins start contract talks with DE Chris Baker, according to report
The Redskins may have a new head coach, but they are still looking to keep some of their incumbent talent. The Redskins have started discussing a new contract with pending free agent defensive end Chris Baker, according to CSN Washington's Tarik El-Bashir.
The versatile defensive lineman is only 26 and has the ability to play nose tackle and defensive end. In the season finale against the Giants, Davis produced seven tackles and three stuffs. He could be in line for a starting position in 2014 under Jim Haslett.
Baker is among a handful of prominent defensive players who are set to become free agents in March. Linebackers Brian Orakpo and Perry Riley, as well as cornerback DeAngelo Hall, are set to test the open market this offseason.