Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers have become putting-team-on-back models

Jordy Nelson may not play for the Packers this week, either. Rob Gronkowski definitely wont play this week for the Patriots.

Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, respectively, miss their favorite targets in mind and spirit, for sure but theyre getting by on the field without them. That tells you not only a lot about their almost-otherworldly quarterbacking skills, but about the state of their receiving corps for much of this season.

In Bradys case, That’s been the state of his receivers the bulk of his career. He might be the all-time leader in making lots out of a little. In terms of this weekends conference championship games, he doesnt have, and mostly hasnt had, the benefit of an Antonio Brown or a Julio Jones to which to throw.

Lots of Chris Hogans, Brandon LaFells, Reche Caldwells and Jabar Gaffneys but a Randy Moss and Wes Welker for only a comparatively short time. And no Gronk since essentially the midway point of this season.

That leaves the Redskins in a tough spot with Cousins. Let him walk, and they need to start all over trying to find a competent starter. Pay him what he wants, and live with the limited ceiling he’s already shown in his game.

Cousins is no longer a young QB who can develop much more. He’ll turn 29 next August, and the prime and peak is already here.
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New football league reportedly eyeing Johnny Manziel, Ray Rice among other big names

Spring Football, an independent league set to debut this April, could use a few high-profile players to create some buzz and help jump-start the league.

League CEO Brian Woods told The Associated Press this week the new venture has reached out to representatives of former NFL star Ray Rice and former Texas star Vince Young to gauge their interest.

He also issued a public invitation/challenge to former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, who is trying to resurrect his football career at age 24.

The reason Taylor sat for the final game reportedly is the fact that the team would owe him $30.75 million if he can’t pass a physical before the next league year. Taylor had been dealing with a groin injury, and reports claim he’ll need surgery to repair it in the offseason.

I’ve heard things about the injury clause, I don’t put much weight behind that, it was the situation all year, Taylor said about his injury being the reason for the benching.

The quarterback does not believe the benching was fair and feels the move says more about his future in Buffalo than anything else.

Tyrod on if he takes the benching as the team lacking confidence in his future here: That’s fair to say. That’s what I think it showed.

The Bills have an option on Taylor’s contract, which will determine whether he remains in Buffalo. The team has to make a decision on that option by March 11, and if the Bills decide to keep him, Taylor will earn a $15.5 million option bonus along with a $12 million base salary with $3.25 million of his 2018 salary fully guaranteed.nike_chargers_1026

There was one question they wanted answered: Was manager Mike Matheny about to be fired?

Career highlights: Three-time MVP winner; 14-time All-Star; nearly 700 home runs, more than 2,000 RBIs and 3,000 hits; member of 2009 World Series champion Yankees.

Even before he admitted in 2009 that he had used PEDs, A-Rod was among the most divisive and controversial figures in sports. A one-year suspension tied to the Biogenesis scandal further tarnished his legacy.

OK, blast from the past question here. Bernie Bickerstaff was just a great guy, pro’s pro and taught me a lot about how to ask smart questions. I’m sure you had the same experience. What stands out to you about your time in college interviewing Bickerstaff after Swarm games?

There was one question they wanted answered: Was manager Mike Matheny about to be fired? The Cardinals were coming off one of the worst road trips in franchise history, an 0-7 stretch that included five games lost after the team rolled out to at least a two-run lead, and a game in which a 5-10 utility infielder who was released near the end of spring training — Scooter Gennett — hit four home runs in one game for only the 17th time in MLB history.

If that wasn’t rock bottom, Cardinals fans didn’t want to know what rock bottom looked like.

And when Mozeliak started out talking about the disappointment that the 2017 season has been, it seemed possible. And when he said, “I feel like standing up here and doing nothing and hoping for a different outcome is just not the right strategy,” it almost sounded likely.

Nicole Adell took the job as principal at Newburg Middle School in downtown Louisville in July 2013. She didn’t accept this new position because she thought it would be easy. She took the job because she knew it would be challenging. She has dedicated her life to education, and Newburg needed someone like Nicole Adell.

“Everywhere that she goes, she puts her stamp down,” Jordon says of his mom. “She works so hard that she changes the people around her, and she changes the attitudes that the students have when they come to school, and the teachers. That’s something that’s really tough to do.”nike_cardinals_526

Patriots owner Robert Kraft says Roger Goodell is welcome in Foxborough

Roger Goodell said Wednesday that he’d return to Foxborough if invited. Well, Mr. Commissioner, consider the invitation sent.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement to ESPN that Goodell would be welcome at Gillette Stadium. Should the Patriots beat the Falcons on Sunday in Super Bowl 51, Kraft even set a date.

Foster later retweeted several messages from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., blasting the DOJ’s decision. The serious nature of the topic aside, it’s nice to see Foster has found a pastime to keep him busy in his retirement.

Foster retired in December at age 30 after eight NFL seasons, spending most of his career with the Texans before finishing in Miami last year. The four-time Pro Bowler finished with 8,873 yards and 68 touchdowns.

Freeman, who says he wants what is best for his future but also the team, could resort to a holdout or a trade request to land a new contract. That could be hard for the team to pull off, however, if Blank offers Ryan a massive deal.

“When Matt was being interviewed this week, somebody asked him, ‘What do you think about Tom Brady, his age, being 39 and will be 40 in August?’ and Matt said, ‘I’d like to play as long as Tom,”’ Blank said.

“That’s when I jumped up off the sofa and starting clicking my heels. We have a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball. But to have our quarterback in place for an extended period of time will be incredible news for Atlanta. Matt is in great shape and takes wonderful care of himself. So, I’m excited.”

Despite Freeman’s stellar play, he’s losing carries to the bigger and younger Tevin Coleman. In the NFC championship game against the Packers, Freeman got 14 carries to Coleman’s 11. Giving a running back in a timeshare an “elite” contract seems unlikely, but this will be an interesting storyline to follow this offseason. seahawks_102

Offseason showcase (showdown): Rams’ Cody Davis on ‘Price is Right’

The major factors that often doom repeat bids are but a blip on the Patriots’ radar. The salary cap can get squeezed as players’ contract demands grow following championships, so naturally, some key players depart via free agency.

This is less of an issue for New England, as Belichick usually finds perfect players at affordable salaries via the draft, free agency, trades and the waiver wire to replace the departed. He plugs them into the system once they’re coached up by his outstanding assistants, who like Belichick are great at teaching and developing players.

Supplemental offseason income, come on down!

Rams defensive back Cody Davis is taking full advantage of his move to Southern California, appearing on an episode of “The Price is Right” that aired Friday.

Host Drew Carey seemed impressed when Davis told him what he does for a living, and the four-year NFL veteran then acquitted himself well in a friendly game of Punch-A-Bunch.

Unless Romo agrees to a major pay cut, the financial outlay will be significant. Even if the Cowboys end up cutting Romo, he and his agent will expect starter money elsewhere. That essentially would be his $14 million base salary (plus incentives if he has a good season) to get him to the market rate of $20 million-plus for veteran starters.

Personally, I would steer clear of Romo. But if a team decides to take the risk, it likely will attempt to negotiate a lower base salary (in the $10 million-$12 million range) and a significant per-game bonus to reward him for staying on the field, plus major playoff incentives.

But Romo’s agent will fight that structure and want a significant guarantee, which, again, is a big risk for a team. Whatever team brings in Romo had better be sure it has a stout supporting cast. That means a strong offensive line with excellent blocking tight ends and backs who know how to pass protect.
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Jaguars aren’t fooling me with another strong offseason

I don’t trust the Jacksonville Jaguars.

There are plenty of reasons to believe the team is ready to piece together a winning season for the first time in a decade, but nope … I’m not falling for that one again.

Not even if Todd McShay says they’re the most improved team of the offseason. Uh uh. Not happening.

The Jaguars were supposed to be the dark horse of the 2016 season. They were “poised to pounce,” according to NFL.com, and the most impressive team that MMQB’s Peter King saw in training camp.

After spending big to get Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Kelvin Beachum, and Chris Ivory, among others, they were a trendy pick to be a contender. Especially after drafting Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack in April.

Three teams cracked 25 percent in this survey: the Ravens (2 of 7 respondents), the Steelers (6 of 19), and, with a full one-third of those responding saying they’d worn a jersey to a religious ceremony, the Chiefs (3 of 9). That means if you’re attending services in Kansas City and you go to join hands with the people next to you, either one of them is wearing a Chiefs jersey, or you are. Pittsburgh had the most total fans respond in the affirmative, a fact that should not surprise you when you realize that there are two kinds of Steelers fans: The ones that own zero jerseys, and the ones that own three or more.
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Cowboys want NFL to re-examine substance-abuse policy

The Cowboys believe it’s time that the NFL and NFLPA re-evaluate the league’s substance-abuse policy, team COO and VP Stephen Jones said in an interview that aired Thursday morning on NBC Sports Network’s “PFT Live.”

Jones, the son of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, echoed the tone his father voiced earlier this year when he reportedly suggested that the league take a look at its policy and potentially lift its ban on marijuana.

Stephen Jones says a top-to-bottom look at the policy (“you should take a look at every aspect of it”) is in order, just as teams look at other facets of the league.

“Well, our system, our testing, has been in place for years and not unlike we do in our organization … we always look to see how we can do it better. I think Jerry’s opinion, my opinion, is this program, this system has been in place for a long time. I think it needs to be heavily scrutinized in terms of its results.

A native of Toledo, Ohio, Kizer will not have a long journey to join up with his new team and said the end result made him less concerned about dropping out of the opening round.

“The wait was well worth it now that I’m going to be able to stay at home and call myself a Cleveland Brown,” Kizer said.

He is now focused on fine-tuning aspects of his game that need improvement, adding: “I believe there is a lot of potential. I believe there is a lot of room for growth.

“I think coaches like [head] coach [Hue] Jackson and [quarterbacks] coach [David] Lee will be able to make some of these things a little more consistent.”

Jackson, meanwhile, said: “He’s a big, strong quarterback who can make all of the throws that I think anybody needs to make in the National Football League.

Raptors vs. Bucks 2017 live stream: Start time, TV schedule and how to watch Game 4 online

The Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks might be the least predictable series still going in these 2017 playoffs. We’ve seen Toronto slog through series deficits and come out on top anyway, something they did last postseason several times. But down 2-1 to the Bucks with another game in Milwaukee, can Toronto climb out of this one?

In Game 3, the Raptors were walloped. Against an impossibly long Bucks defense, they didn’t even score 50 points until the fourth quarter and don’t appear to have any great solutions right now for a struggling offense. This season, Toronto’s offense was great, too, finishing sixth in the league in offensive rating (109.8). But Kyle Lowry has only played one good game, DeMar DeRozan is struggling as well, and none of the other role players for the Raptors are stepping up to fill in where the team is missing an offensive boost.

Milwaukee has a bright future, but will this moment prove too big for them? The series should swing one way or another based off the winner of Game 4.

It didn’t take long for the hockey world to have a varying degree of hot takes on Sidney Crosby’s Game 3 injury. The response was swift, loud, and extremely colored by whatever fan base-colored glasses you tend to wear.

This is sports, after all. It’s to be expected from fans, especially in such a high-pressure, high-anxiety time that is the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Failing to get the Pelicans’ pick after trading Cousins would be a disaster for the Kings. On the bright side, Smith is a potential top-five talent who fills their biggest position of need. The explosive 6’2 guard has drawn comparisons to Eric Bledsoe.

Dallas Mavericks — Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
Ntilikina is an 18-year-old point guard who projects as a versatile defender and capable spot-up shooter. It feels like Dallas has been looking for a point guard since the heyday of Jason Kidd. Ntilikina has the potential to grow into the role.

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The Lions struggled with defensive depth for a while now

Davis is a bit undersized, which will anchor him to the middle of the field rather than in a more desirable outside linebacker role. He’s at his best when he has room to move, but he has trouble shedding blockers and tends to be erased from plays when engaged with bigger linemen. That was an NCAA problem that will only get worse in the NFL.

He can be overaggressive when pursuing ball carriers, aiming for a highlight-reel tackle when simply wrapping up would suffice. He’s also susceptible to cutback runs, often leaving an open gap for runners to exploit while he gets swallowed up at the line of scrimmage. Davis brings tremendous energy to the field, but sometimes overexerts himself rather than staying disciplined.

And there are also the inevitable questions about his ability to stay healthy. In addition to the high ankle sprain, Davis missed three games in 2014 with a torn meniscus. Teammates and coaches will rave about his toughness, but there are some questions about whether Davis can be an every-down player in the NFL.

Even with those concerns, Davis projects to be a strong run-stopper and team leader, with a potentially high ceiling if he avoids those nagging injuries.

The Lions struggled with defensive depth for a while now, so Davis should immediately bolster the linebacker corps and provide some much-needed support in run defense.

The wideout showed during the 2016 season that his leg injuries were a thing of the past, regularly making big plays off explosive jumps. He didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the combine, but he did participate in other drills before doing a complete workout at Ohio State’s pro day.

“Right now, I feel completely healthy. I feel I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in. I’m excited for what’s to come.”
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Why isn’t Chris Berman on ESPN’s NFL draft coverage?

ESPN’s NFL draft coverage will be missing a familiar voice on Thursday night. The 2017 draft will be the first in nearly three decades without longtime analyst Chris Berman behind the broadcaster’s desk.

Follow the action with our 2017 NFL draft tracker with pick-by-pick results and analysis updating in real-time for all seven rounds.

Berman was best known for his NFL coverage as the host of programs like Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown, and NFL Primetime. While he still has a reduced role with the company, the ESPN fixture stepped down as the network’s NFL lead after Super Bowl 51.

The network announced he would miss this year’s coverage in a statement released in January.

Take Myles Garrett with the first overall pick. Garrett is a game changer, and could single-handedly overhaul Cleveland’s pass rush, which ended last season with the second-fewest sacks in the league. Garrett had 24 sacks over his first two years at Texas A&M. He was injured last season, but still managed to notch 8.5 sacks. He’s got rare explosion and athleticism, and teams don’t often get the opportunity to draft this caliber of player. Do not pass on him.

Draft a quarterback, but don’t reach for one. So in other words, do not draft Mitchell Trubisky first overall. There’s also a rumor that they could trade back into the top 10 picks for Trubisky, which would be a bad idea. This isn’t the strongest quarterback class, and if the Browns are not in love with any of these guys, they should wait. This is a lesson they should have learned after Couch. And Quinn. And Weeden. And Manziel. If need be, the Browns could just give Cody Kessler a shot next season while the quarterback of the future develops. Kessler showed potential last year when healthy.
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