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Source: Nnamdi Asomugha has a high ankle sprain

The Raiders may lose their best player just in time for their biggest game since the 2002 Super Bowl. 

A league source tells PFT’s Mike Florio that an MRI revealed a high ankle sprain for cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.  The All Pro is going to get a second opinion on the ankle.

High ankle sprains can vary greatly depending on the severity of the injury, but this news puts Asomugha’s status for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs in serious doubt at the very least. 

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John Elway, Jerry Jones haven’t talked about Tony Romo

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Although the annual meetings technically began Sunday in Arizona, plenty of league personnel already have been here working on plenty of things via plenty of meetings discussing plenty of topics.

During the time that Broncos G.M. John Elway and Cowboys owner/G.M. Jerry Jones spent together, however, one specific subject has not been broached.

“We’ve been here all week and [Tony Romo’s] name never came up,’’ Elway said Sunday, via Mike Klis of 9news.com.

Many have assumed that Jones, who is believed to have told Romo on March 8 that he’d be released before changing his mind, wanted to delay the move until at least the league meetings, given the possibility of a trade offer. The Broncos seemed to be poised to make a run at Romo when it appeared he’d be released; they’ve sent strong and consistent signals that they won’t trade for him.

The Texans have done the same, but the current thinking is that, if any team blinks and makes an offer to the Cowboys, it will be the Texans.

Then there’s the possibility that Jones doesn’t want Romo to play for the Texans. At this point, Jones may prefer to see Romo retire to broadcasting. That way, Romo would never do what Peyton Manning did after the Colts moved on from him — thrive elsewhere and win a Super Bowl.

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How often do teams draft QBs? Less than Jets

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It took some researching, but one positive can be drawn now as it relates to the Jets and their meager quarterback situation.

They’ve been trying.

By one measure, like no team has.

Pro Football Talk collected data over the past decade to analyze how each NFL franchise has approached the quarterback position in the draft. The Jets selected an NFL-high seven over that span, including one in each of the past four drafts. Two of those four, Geno Smith a New York Giant and Tajh Boyd out of the league, are no longer with the club.

It is, of course, tongue-in-cheek to characterize this activity as “positive”; inserting rookies into a huddle and seeing who sticks isn’t an ideal spring rite of passage. Jets GM Mike Maccagnan recently allowed the team may take another dive into the 2017 quarterback class. Josh McCown currently sits atop his depth chart.

Mark Sanchez in 2009 is the Jets’ lone first-round quarterback in the past decade.

The Broncos drafted the second-most quarterbacks with six. Two were first-rounders: Paxton Lynch in 2016 and Tim Tebow in 2010.

The Browns are one of six teams to have selected five since 2007. No organization, however, has invested more in rookie quarterbacks during this period. Each of Cleveland’s five QBs was taken during the draft’s first three rounds. Johnny Manziel, Brandon Weeden and Brady Quinn were all first-round picks.

New England seems to have a preference for when it goes quarterback.

Of the five Bill Belichick drafted in this 10-year span, four were taken in the second or third round.

No team recently has invested less in a rookie quarterback than the Chargers. Despite scouting the position heavily, they are one of five teams to have selected an NFL-few two quarterbacks the past 10 years. Brad Sorensen in 2013 and Jonathan Crompton in 2010 were seventh- and fifth-round picks, respectively. Neither remains on the roster.

Like the Chargers, the Steelers and Giants acquired a franchise quarterback during the 2004 draft. And like the Chargers, they’ve yet to make a sizable draft investment in his successor. The Steelers’ only quarterbacks taken in a decade are 2013 fourth-rounder Landry Jones and 2008 fifth-rounder Dennis Dixon. All three of the Giants’ quarterback picks came between rounds four and six.

The Texans and Bears, despite a current need, have drafted just three quarterbacks in 10 years. Tom Savage in 2014 is Houston’s only such pick the past five drafts. All three of the Bears’ selections came in the fifth and sixth rounds. San Francisco hasn’t drafted a quarterback before the sixth round in five straight years.

A franchise that drafts several quarterbacks but hits on none is not rewarded for its effort.

The Jets can attest to this.

They’ve invested in a rookie quarterback year after year, hoping at some point someone will come along to fill their vacancy for good. But when that doesn’t transpire, a year passes, and the franchise finds itself in the same situation as it did a year before.

So here they are, beside other teams, sifting through a market for what can seem a mythical good.

The search continues.

 

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Bruce Allen insists Kirk Cousins will be the Washington quarterback in 2017

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For a team in a town known for politicians who speak in absolutes that are often absolutely untrue, take this for whatever you will: Washington president Bruce Allen insists that Kirk Cousins will be the team’s quarterback in 2017.

That’s why we franchised him,” Allen told CSN Mid-Atlantic.

“I can’t keep up with the rumors,” Allen added. “Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven’t talked to anyone.”

The fact that they haven’t talked to anyone doesn’t mean they won’t, especially with the entire NFL gathered in Arizona for the annual league meetings.

“Our goal from the beginning has been long-term [contract],” Allen said. “I’m still hopeful and confident we’ll do it.”

Of course, that depends on what the definition of “the beginning” is. At the beginning of Cousins’ initial contract year, Washington didn’t want to talk. At the beginning of when they decided to engage Cousins, it was too little and too late to avoid the franchise tag launch sequence. At the beginning of the franchise tag period in 2016, Washington didn’t want to fully guarantee two years of the tag (i.e., $19.95 million plus $23.94 million) at signing. At the beginning of the dance this year, it likely will take the 2017 franchise tag ($23.94 million) and the 2018 transition tag (a 20-percent increase over this year’s pay, or $28.73 million), fully guaranteed at signing to get a long-term deal done.

Otherwise, Cousins can play out the season, pocketing two years of tag money and forcing Washington to decide whether to use the right-of-first-refusal-but-no-compensation transition tag in 2018 or the franchise tag for a third time, at a 44-percent increase (by rule) over this year’s amount. That approach would cost Washington $34.47 million next year, running Cousins’ three-year haul to $78.36 million.

Or they could entertain trading him now, getting 2017 draft-pick compensation and/or players in return and freeing up $23.94 million in cash and cap space and avoiding the likelihood that he walks away next year with only a 2019 compensatory draft pick in return.

But they insist they aren’t entertaining trading him now, which could be code for, “We don’t want to see desperate to trade him or we won’t get as much as we could.”

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Not much suspense left for Raiders to Las Vegas vote

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NFL owners just walked into their opening session of a meeting at which they’ll decide the destination of the Raiders.

And there’s not much suspense left as to how the vote is going to go.

The sense of optimism as the owners walked into the Arizona Biltmore Resort was real, and no one expects anything but affirmation for the Raiders’ proposed move to Las Vegas.

“We’ll find out tomorrow,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said as he walked into the meeting. “It’s gonna be an exciting day for Vegas.”

When Patriots owner Robert Kraft walked by moments earlier, he was asked if he thought the Raiders had the votes need (24) to approve the move.

“Hope so,” Kraft said as he passed.

That was the prevailing sentiment, as commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN earlier there wasn’t much reason to think another outcome was possible.

“I think we will have a vote, and I think we will have a positive vote,” Goodell said. “I think we are in pretty good shape.”

The actually balloting will happen tomorrow, but no one has voiced any opposition, with Chargers owner Dean Spanos among those saying he’d vote for the proposal as well.

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Bears, Packers cornerbacks both arrested in Iowa

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Two former college teammates who play for rival NFL teams reportedly were arrested together early Sunday morning following an incident at a bar in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Bears cornerback Deiondre’ Hall was cited under suspicion of interference, disorderly conduct and public intoxication; Packers cornerback Makinton Dorleant was booked for alleged interference, according to KWWL, an NBC affiliate in Eastern Iowa.

Dorleant’s agent declined comment. Hall’s was unavailable to speak by phone, he said.

Both players entered the NFL in 2016 from Northern Iowa.

Hall, 22, was a fourth-round pick who finished with seven tackles, an interception and three passes defensed in eight games. Dorleant, 24, played four games for Green Bay as an undrafted rookie. He made one tackle while predominantly seeing time on special teams.

Hall was shocked with a Taser during the incident, which centered at Sharky’s Fun House, an 18-and-up establishment.

Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times cited a police report when detailing that Hall allegedly “refused to answer questions, yelled at officers, tried to escape and spat in their faces. … Hall resisted as he was being placed in handcuffs, according to the report, and refused to get in the backseat of the squad car.”

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NFL hires a new chief medical officer, a neurosurgeon

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The NFL has hired a new top doctor to help with their concussion issue. And this time, he’s not a rheumatologist.

The league announced they had hired Dr. Allen Sills as their chief medical officer, a new full-time position they’ve created.

Sills was most recently a professor of neurological surgery, orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation at Vanderbilt, and was the founder and co-director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.

“There is no higher priority for the NFL than player health and safety and we continually seek to raise our standards and then surpass them,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in their release. “We sought a highly-credentialed physician and leader with experience as a clinician and researcher, and Dr. Sills’ extensive experience caring for athletes makes him the right choice for this important position.”

Regardless Sills’ resume, which is extensive and impressive, that’s a long way from the league hiring Jets team doctor Elliott Pellman, the rheumatologist and Paul Tagliabue’s personal physician they put in charge of the league’s concussion committee. Pellman has since been nudged into retirement.

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Lions RB Theo Riddick had surgery to both wrists

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Theo Riddick, one of the NFL’s premier passing-game backs, is usually mindful of his hands.

This off-season, the attention is on his wrists.

The Lions veteran underwent surgery to both wrists following his December placement on injured reserve. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Riddick is expected to be ready for organized team activities, which begin in May.

Ability is less the issue in the Lions’ backfield.

Durability is.

Between ankle and wrist ailments, Riddick missed six games in 2016. He still finished with 53 receptions for 371 yards and five touchdowns while adding a career-high 357 rushing yards and a score. Ameer Abdullah suffered a Week 2 foot injury that ended his season. He also is expected to be ready for OTAs.

No Lions player gained more than 70 rushing yards in a single game last season.

Birkett postulated the team “could look to add a running back high in April’s draft or sign an aging veteran as insurance.” The April 27-29 draft is widely viewed to be well stocked at the position.

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Panthers defend letting Cam Newton play through shoulder injury

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Panthers quarterback Cam Newton suffered a shoulder injury in Week 14, and last week decided to have surgery to repair the shoulder. Now the Panthers are facing questions about why Newton played the final weeks of the season after Carolina had been eliminated from playoff contention if his throwing shoulder was injured badly enough that he’d eventually need surgery.

But Carolina G.M. Dave Gettleman says the Panthers still try to win even when they’re out of playoff contention, Newton wanted to play and the medical staff thought he could.

We are in the business of winning,” Gettleman said, via the Charlotte Observer. “That’s what we’re here for. I just know that’s my responsibility – put the best club on the field and to win games, that’s Ron [Rivera’s] job. That’s why we’re all here. You talk about our culture here and the No. 1 priority is winning football games. Those conversations happen. Cam’s a football player. He wanted to play and the medical people felt it was fine, so we did.”

As Newton was playing hurt, the Panthers were shutting down Luke Kuechly with a concussion, but Gettleman says it’s not fair to compare the two situations.

“It’s two different cases and I’m not going to go down there,” he said. “There’s always conversations with injuries. We have this crazy idea we should care about them as people. They’re going to have long lives beyond their NFL careers.”

Unlike a concussion, Newton’s shoulder injury isn’t the kind of ailment that raises concerns about his life after football. And so the Panthers said he could keep going at the end of 2016, even if it affects his readiness when training camp opens in 2017.

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Vegas gambling issues falling on deaf ears within NFL

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When it comes to the potential practical consequences of putting a professional football team in Las Vegas, the NFL isn’t completely ignoring the situation. It seems, however, that not nearly enough people are taking the situation as seriously as they should.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, some are indeed sounding alarms about moving a team to the nation’s gambling capital. Those alarms seem to be obscured by the sound of the league’s looming jackpot.

As noted on Saturday, the NFL can’t (and thus isn’t even trying to) reconcile its desire to put a team in Las Vegas with its supposed aversion to all things gambling. But if, after the owners get together this week with a chance for any opponents to chime in, the league gives the Raiders the green light to leave Oakland for Las Vegas, it will be important for both the team and the NFL to have clear plans in place for plopping players, coaches, executives, and other team employees into a place where gambling is more prevalent than good food quickly.

Put simply, players and their families will be moving into a place where gambling is everywhere. While some have argued that nearly any player on any team already is within driving distance of a casino, casinos in most places are destinations. In Las Vegas, where both casino games and sports betting are legal, a player can’t walk out of his apartment without being smacked in the face by the “here it is, why aren’t you here?” prevalance of it.

At some point, the lure of gambling will tempt everyone — even those who believe they are sufficiently self-disciplined to avoid it. At some point, someone connected to the team will develop a gambling problem. At some point, someone with a gambling problem will develop a significant gambling debt. At some point, someone with a significant gambling debt will be ripe to be compromised.

The league needs to be ready to prevent it (which may be impossible) and to spot it when it happens (which may be just as difficult). And even if the league manages to keep it from ever happen for the duration of the Raiders’ stay in Las Vegas, the league needs to be ready to hear more of the same-old conspiracies about corrupt officiating and points shaving, realizing that a layer of craps-table felt will make the tin-foil hats seem less nutty.

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Seahawks keep adding linebackers

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The Seattle Seahawks have used 2017 free agency to load up in one specific area of the roster. They’ve now added three veteran linebackers to the team.

Via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, the Seahawks have signed Terence Garvin. The former West Virginia defender (he played there with former Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin) spent 2016 with Washington. Before that, Garvin had three years with the Steelers.

He joins Arthur Brown and Michael Wilhoite as new Seattle linebackers. Beyond adding depth to the linebacking corps, Garvin will help on special teams. As Condotta notes, the departure of tight end Brandon Williams created a need on the third leg of the football stool.

Garvin, 26, has played in 59 career regular-season games with one start in four NFL seasons.

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Franco Harris: I have no pain, but if I ever do I’ll use marijuana

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Franco Harris played in the NFL into his mid-30s, carried the ball more than 3,000 times, and often lined up as a blocking fullback on plays when he didn’t get the ball. He also played in an era of full-contact practices that would make today’s players weep. Throw in his status as a three-year starter at Penn State and his high school football career, and it’s safe to say he was in tens of thousands of collisions on the football field.

And he has something surprising to say: At age 67, he feels fine, mentally and physically.

“Even during my playing days, I really didn’t have to do anything with pain management,” Harris told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’ve never had any long-term pain. I’ve been pretty lucky all the way back to high school. I’m even more amazed that at 67 I’m not dealing with more issues.”

But Harris knows the time may come when an old football injury — or just age — catches up with him. And as a result, he’s become an advocate for marijuana as a safer painkiller than opioids.

“I will tell you this, if it ever comes to a point where I do need pain management, I’d feel very lucky and happy now that we have medicinal marijuana in Pennsylvania,” Harris said.

Harris is urging the NFL to take marijuana off its banned substance list and allow players to use it if prescribed by a doctor, which is now legal in most states.

“The NFL is reviewing its position on medical marijuana,” Harris said. “They’re really reviewing their whole pain management regimen and how those things are handled, but if you don’t mind me giving you my personal feeling, I feel in any state that has approved medical marijuana, the league should remove medical marijuana from being a banned substance. I feel that recreational marijuana should be a banned substance in the NFL, but medical marijuana has a different composition.”

As the NFL continues to face criticism over widespread use of painkillers distributed by team doctors, it’s surprising that the league hasn’t been more willing to consider permitting medical marijuana. Players like Harris speaking out may change that.

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Michael Irvin: Ezekiel Elliott has to learn how big being a Cowboy is

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Hall of Fame Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin thinks there’s a special kind of scrutiny that comes with being a star player on the Dallas Cowboys, and Ezekiel Elliott needs to learn that.

Irvin said on KRLD that Elliott has to understand that the kind of attention he got as a star player in college will be dwarfed by the attention he’s getting now that he’s a star player in Dallas. Irvin said the incident in which Elliott pulled a woman’s top down in public demonstrated a kind of immaturity that isn’t acceptable for a Cowboys star.

“Not to ever make an excuse for anybody, but he’s a young guy,” Irvin said, via the Dallas Morning News. “And I don’t mind a guy having fun and all of that. But I need him to understand the enormity of everything surrounding him. I know Ohio State is huge, but the Dallas Cowboys are something different. Everything you do, anything you do . . . that’s going to get out, that’s going to be a story. And you have to try to stay away from that. As I was watching it, I remember when I first saw it . . . I checked my calendar. Is this Mardi Gras? When you watch it, you can see the wheels turning in his head . . . don’t do it; don’t do it. But he does it. He just has to be careful, man.”

Irvin had plenty of his own off-field problems during his time as a Cowboy, so some would say he has no standing to criticize Elliott. But perhaps Irvin is uniquely qualified to understand why Elliott needs to clean up his off-field act. There’s a perception around Elliott that he needs to grow up, and Irvin is only the latest to say so.

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Cardinals doing their homework on incoming quarterbacks

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The Cardinals know that the end is near for quarterback Carson Palmer. Because, as Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim said during a recent appearance on PFT Live, Palmer is willing to mentor a young quarterback, it makes sense to bring a young quarterback into the fold which Palmer is still playing.

It therefore also makes sense for the Cardinals to be taking a close look at the incoming crop of signal callers. Which, as explained by Kent Somers of azcentral.com, they are doing. They’ll be doing it with private workouts.

“I would stray away from Pro Days if I could,” Keim said, via Somers. “They’ve become so big that you don’t have the individual attention you need. You’re wasting some time.”

The Cardinals will be investing some private time in working out Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and presumably the rest of the quarterbacks at the top of the class.

“I think there are five or six really good arms in this draft,” coach Bruce Arians said, via Somers. “Whether there are five or six quarterbacks, that’s what we have to find out. I’m feeling more and more there are a couple of sleepers who, because of their offenses, didn’t show as much as they are capable of.”

In other words, folks are trying to make sure the perceived second or third cut of quarterbacks doesn’t include another Dak Prescott. Over the past decade or so, the Cardinals have done very well when acquiring established quarterbacks in the waning years of their careers (Palmer, Kurt Warner). They’ve struggled when drafting quarterbacks (Matt Leinart, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, Logan Thomas) or rolling the dice by trading for — and paying — and unproven guy (Kevin Kolb).

The stakes are high in 2017. The perennially downtrodden Cardinals have been competitive and relevant in recent years only when they’ve had Palmer and Warner. They need someone who will play as well as either guy, and stick around a lot longer.

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NFL to consider unlimited challenges, as long as they’re successful

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Under current NFL rules, a coach may challenge two calls per game, and if replay reviews prove him right on both of them, he gets a third challenge. Three is the limit.

If a proposal before the Competition Committee this week is approved, there will be no limit, and coaches can keep challenging as long as they’re successful.

Washington has proposed a rule that would permit an unlimited number of successful challenges. If the challenges are unsuccessful, the limit would still be two.

That rule proposal would seem to have a lot of headwind in an offseason in which the NFL has made faster-paced games a top priority. More challenges means more replay delays, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged that replay delays are a problem.

So it seems unlikely that the rule would be adopted. A team challenging four, five, six or more times a game could slow the game to a crawl, even if the coach is correct. Of course, the real issue is that officials shouldn’t be making enough mistakes that a coach could have four, five or six successful challenges in the first place.

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Talk in Buffalo that Doug Whaley could be on the way out

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Bills General Manager Doug Whaley appears to be on the hot seat, raising questions about who’s really calling the shots in Buffalo heading into the draft.

Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News writes that it seems only a matter of time before Whaley gets moved out. Sullivan suggests that owners Kim and Terry Pegula have decided to give more authority to new head coach Sean McDermott, and Whaley’s power is limited. Sullivan even suggests that it could be that the only reason Whaley hasn’t resigned is he wants the Pegulas to fire him so they’ll be forced to keep paying him until his contract expires.

The Bills have decided that McDermott, not Whaley, will address reporters at the official annual pre-draft media event. Typically the person who answers questions in that setting is the person who’s calling the shots, and the Bills choosing McDermott to talk to the media on the team’s behalf suggests that McDermott, not Whaley, is calling the shots.

A similar situation played out in Washington in February, when G.M. Scot McCloughan was kept away from the media. A month later, McCloughan was fired.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise if Whaley is the next NFL G.M. to lose his job.

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