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Ten ways to improve the Hall of Fame selection process

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Every year, on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, 44 men and women gather in the host city and determine the members of the next class of Hall of Famers.

Typically, the panel considers 15 modern-era candidates, which systemically is whittled down to five finalists for an up-or-down vote.  The voters also consider two previously-determined finalists determined by the Seniors Committee, which comes up with two players who, for whatever reason, were passed over during past sessions.

In the end, as few as four and as many as seven secure admission to Canton.

Every year, complaints inevitably arise regarding the persons who make it and those who don’t.  At times, those complaints are aimed at the process.  Usually, the debate fizzles by the next day, when the Super Bowl starts.

This year, largely through the efforts of Jason Whitlock of FOXSports.com, the criticism has lingered.  The fact that Whitlock’s opinions have sparked a pointed response from two of the voters has served only to give the discussion ongoing life.

Though some of the voters who perhaps feel a threat to their fiefdom may not like it, any effort to consider whether the process can be improved represents a valuable expenditure of time and effort.  In this vein, we now offer 10 specific ideas for improving the procedure for determining who gets in, and who’s left out of, the Hall of Fame.

1.  Expand the panel.

The panel currently consists only of media members, some of whom are unemployed, underemployed, self-employed, and/or semi-retired.  One voter is assigned for each team, even if the voter has no specific jurisdiction over that team.  For example, Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Xchange holds the vote that corresponds to the Falcons, even though he hasn’t focused his efforts on that team for years.  Ditto for David Elfin, the Redskins’ representative who no longer works for a Washington-focused publication.  Others, like Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, had limited experience covering the NFL but was the only guy at the only paper in the town in which the team is headquartered.

That’s not a knock on Joe, whom we know and like.  But, surely, he’ll acknowledge that he had limited experience covering the NFL when he got the assignment.  Before inheriting the Bengals beat from Mark Curnutte in 2009, Reedy previously covered the Jets for two years (1997 and 1998) at the Post-Star in Glen Falls, New York and the Jaguars for one year (1999) at the Gainesville Sun.  Many would contend that three relatively distant years at non-first-tier publications shouldn’t be enough to secure 2.27 percent of the say as to who makes it to Canton.

The panel also includes one representative of the Professional Football Writers Association and 11 at-large media members.  That’s 44 total voters.

The panel, put simply, is too small.  (And, trust me, I’m not saying that because I’m angling for a seat at the table.  I don’t want one, I don’t expect to ever be offered one — especially after writing this article — and I wouldn’t have the time to do the assignment justice unless and until I become unemployed, underemployed, self-employed, and/or semi-retired.)  Because the human beings who comprise the panel are subject to the same human factors that influence us consciously or otherwise, one way to neutralize those realities is to involve more voters.

As explained below, that doesn’t mean more media members.  To enjoy the full faith and confidence of football fans, the process needs more voices, more perspectives, and less power in the hands of any one voter.

Many of the persons who hold these votes take great pride in the assignment.  As a result, they naturally will be inclined to resist any changes that will make the achievement less significant, such as adding significantly more people to the process.

Regardless, significantly more people need to be added to the process.

2.  Overhaul the Board of Trustees.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is governed by a Board of Trustees.  Some of the names are instantly recognizable, like Commissioner Roger Goodell, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.  (One name is recognizable but curiously out of place. ESPN’s Todd Blackledge, whose bailiwick is college football, has a seat on the Board of Trustees.)

There is also a cluster of persons with no connection to the NFL, but who hold positions of prominence in and around Canton, Ohio, the geographic location of the Hall of Fame.

With all due respect to those Canton-area businesspeople, it makes no sense for the policies and procedures of the Hall of Fame to be set by folks whose biggest contribution to the process is the ability to show up for meetings without incurring travel expenses.  Though it makes sense for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to seek the support and involvement of the Canton business community, the Board of Trustees should be composed of folks who have a direct role in the game and who have the best interests of the game at all times in mind.

To the extent that there are some Canton-area businesspeople who have a direct role in the game, such as Packers great and successful Akron businessman Dave Robinson, they should have a seat at the table.  We also realize that some members of the Board of Trustees are instrumental in organizing the events that surround each year’s enshrinement ceremony.  But most of the persons who are setting policy for the Hall of Fame should have names that ardent fans and followers of the sport instantly recognize.

Currently, it’s roughly a 50-50 split.  That needs to change.

3.  Change the bylaws.

The Board of Trustees ultimately determine the contents of the Hall of Fame’s bylaws.  All too often, members of the panel who are faced with criticism of the selection process instantly explain that their hands are tied by the bylaws.

So change the bylaws.

Every year, the NFL changes multiple rules in the hopes of making the game better.  In the past half-decade, the only meaningful change to the bylaws occurred when the modern-era finalists were increased from 13 to 15.

The bylaws shouldn’t be used as a shield for avoiding change, but as a sword for implementing it.  All too often, the bylaws become an excuse for the status quo, not the impetus for improvement.  For that reason alone, the powers-that-be need to be willing and able on an annual basis (or more often) to look for ways to improve the rules that govern the selection process.

4.  Include Hall of Famers.

Every year, the winner of the Heisman Trophy acquires the ability to vote on all future winners of the award.  The logic is simple, and undeniable.  Winning the Heisman represents membership in an exclusive club, and the men who have won it should have a say in who gets it.

The argument applies even more strongly to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame coach John Madden believes that the busts talk to each other at night.  If they do, the first comment when a new crop joins them shouldn’t be, “Who in the hell let that guy in?”

They say it takes one to know one, and a Hall of Famer is in the best position to know another Hall of Famer.  Though giving Hall of Famers votes would introduce the possibility of biases and prejudices, those factors surely apply from time to time (or, as the case may be, every year) to the 44 men and women who currently have the keys to Canton, especially when players who earn a reputation for being hard on the media seem to have a hard time getting into the Hall of Fame.

The only requirement?  To vote, the Hall of Famer must attend the meeting.  No proxies or absentee ballots.  If they show up, they get a say in the process.

5.  Include coaches and other established football minds.

In responding to Jason Whitlock’s column calling for change, Bob Gretz argued that “Rick Gosselin has forgotten more football in a week than Whitlock has known in his life.”  That same observation likely applies to many of the folks currently on the selection committee.

And that observation probably would apply to all of them if, say, guys like Joe Gibbs or Ron Wolf or Bill Parcells or Chuck Noll were in the room.

So why not give people who have devoted their careers to coaching football and/or running football teams a direct say in who should and shouldn’t land in the Hall of Fame?  For those not already in the Hall of Fame, they’d have to forfeit their own eligibility for the Hall until two years after leaving the committee.

Frankly, those folks are far better suited to picking the new members of the Hall of Fame than pretty much everyone on the selection committee as its currently constituted.

6.  Categorize the candidates.

Every year, the finalists are thrown into a vat regardless of the position they played, with the new members of the Hall emerging from a stew that can’t distinguish between pancake blocks and pick-sixes.  It would make more sense to allow one new member per year from each of the various positions on the field:  quarterback, running back, receiver/tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, defensive back, and coach/G.M./contributor.

The finalists would be determined by position, with the list of candidates trimmed to three-to-five before the selection meeting, and with no requirement that a person be admitted from each position group.

This would expand the potential maximum size of the class from seven to eight, but the high-water mark of seven per year has been in place since 1964, the year after the charter class was inducted.  At the time, the NFL and AFL had only 22 teams.

Today, the NFL has 32 franchises, as a result of the addition of two in 1966, one in 1967, one in 1968, two in 1976, two in 1995, one in 1999, and one in 2002.  Moving the maximum annual class from seven to eight in light of the growth of the league isn’t simply justified, it’s overdue.

7.  Scuttle the Senior Committee.

The Senior Committee serves the purpose of allowing the selection committee to revisit two players from past seasons who fell through the cracks.  In other words, it gives the selection committee to right past wrongs.  By improving the selection process, there would be no reason to clean up past messes by devoting two of seven annual spots to guys who failed to get in when competing directly with their peers.

In his response to Jason Whitlock’s criticisms, Bob Gretz unwittingly proved our point.

Gretz explained that, ever year, a pair of Hall of Famers join the Seniors Committee to assist in the process of whittling down the previously overlooked players to two finalists, who seem to almost always get in.  For the 2011 class, Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham and Hall of Fame tight end Charlie Sanders worked with the Seniors Committee.

Ham, per Gretz, made a strong case for linebacker Chris Hanburger.

“Ham told the group that when he went to the Steelers in the 1971 NFL Draft out of Penn State, the Pittsburgh coaches gave him film of Hanburger to study,” Gretz writes.  “There was no doubt in Ham’s mind that Hanburger was a legitimate candidate.  Whose word are your going to take on this subject:  Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham, or Jason Whitlock?”

Gretz essentially is admitting that the selection committee screwed up by not putting Hanburger in the Hall years earlier.  With the involvement on the selection committee of guys like Hall of Famer Jack Ham convinced that Hanburger should get in, that wouldn’t have happened.

In other words, if Ham and the other Hall of Famers had a seat at the table, perhaps Hanburger wouldn’t have been erroneously passed over.

After all, whose word should the Hall of Fame been taking on this subject:  Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham, or any member of the media?

8.  Embrace transparency.

Though many voters seek refuge in the bylaws and regard them as if they’d been etched onto stone tablets by the hand of God, many also will acknowledge the validity of Whitlock’s complaint that the process unfolds in secrecy.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC, who has nothing but the best interests of the process in mind (and I say that not because he’s a friend and a colleague but because I’ve spent enough time around him to know that’s who he is and how he operates), would welcome transparency.

I’d be fine with our votes being made public, which the Hall currently doesn’t want us to do,” King wrote in his February 7 Monday Morning Quarterback column.  “The feeling from Hall officials is if our votes are published, then some voters might vote differently; if a voter from Buffalo, for instance, didn’t vote for Andre Reed (and this is only an example, not the truth), he might face a backlash when he goes back to cover his team. Or in some small way it might affect his vote if he or she knew everyone would know exactly how the vote went. I believe it’s incumbent on us to not hide behind the privacy of the room. The Hall is a huge deal, obviously, with burgeoning interest every year. If we’re going to sit on the committee and sit in judgment of these men for enshrinement, I think you ought to know how we vote.”

If one of the most respected members of the NFL media believes that the process should be more transparent, then it’s fair to say that the process should be more transparent.  With an expanded panel of voters, anyone who covers the team on which a player played most or all of his career could abstain from voting, thereby addressing the biggest concern that King raised.

9.  Involve the NFL.

As mentioned above, the Commissioner and various owners occupy seats on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees.  But the NFL should be even more involved than that.

Though it’s called the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’s essentially the NFL Hall of Fame, and the NFL should be in position to propose changes to bylaws and initiate procedural enhancements aimed at improving the process of determining each class of enshrinees.

One change the NFL would likely make relates to the consideration of off-field conduct.  Currently forbidden by the bylaws, the reality is that plenty of voters consider the things a candidate did when not playing football, especially in close cases.  The bylaws, then, should change to reflect the reality of the process.

If the NFL is the perpetual custodian of the highest levels of the sport, the NFL should have much greater involvement in and dominion over the museum that celebrates those who made the biggest impact on the game.

10.  Commit to continuous improvement and change.

Most of the criticisms of the current selection process arise from a perception that the system is stale and stagnant, in large part because change doesn’t happen often and doesn’t seem welcome.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell repeatedly explains that the league constantly must look for ways to enhance and improve the game.  That same attitude must infect, and overtake, the Hall of Fame.

So many things about the selection process need to be changed because so little change has happened in the 48 years since the Hall of Fame opened.  Egos and agendas and pride and any other factor that stands in the way of change needs to be set aside, and folks need to look for ways to make the process better, and ultimately more fair.

We’re not advocating change for the sake of change.  But in this case there has been little or no change.  Changes need to be made, and then the Hall of Fame needs to be willing to consider future change without external calls for it.

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Free agents Bernard Pierce, Jace Davis suspended

Craig Robertson, Bernard Pierce AP

Free agent wide receiver Jace Davis has been suspended for four games and free agent running back Bernard Pierce has been suspended for two games, a league source told PFT.

Davis signed a futures contract with the Broncos early in the offseason but was waived after he was charged with DUI. Pierce’s contract with the Jaguars expired at the end of the 2015 season.

Pierce resumed his career last season with the Jaguars but played sparingly. The Ravens released Pierce after he was arrested for DUI in March 2015; he cut a plea deal to avoid a DUI conviction.

Pierce has five career rushing touchdowns. He played in 45 games for the Ravens from 2012-14.

Davis has never played in an NFL game.

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Cash flow is one of the few remaining negotiating points in rookie deal

117046655-1 Getty Images

The fact that draft-pick deals are being done faster than ever suggests that there’s nothing to negotiate. In comparison to the system before the 2011 CBA and its far more precise rookie wage scale (especially at the top of the draft), that’s accurate.

However, there are still some grounds for haggling — and some of the contracts negotiated to date in 2016 have entailed fairly contentious discussions.

One area where agents still earn their money at the bargaining table relates to when the player will see money go into his account. It’s one thing to have a fully-guaranteed bonus payment; it’s another thing to actually have the payment.

Some agents try to get the money paid out as soon as possible. Some teams try to hold onto the money for as long as possible. While it’s not keeping these deals from getting done, it’s definitely something that some teams and agents are squabbling about before getting deals done.

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Delanie Walker gets $8.2 million guaranteed in extension with Titans

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 27:  Delanie Walker #82 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball against the Houston Texans at LP Field on December 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Titans and Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker have agreed to a two-year contract extension, per multiple reports.

Walker was previously signed through 2016. Both ESPN and NFL Network reported that the extension is worth $14.7 million, $8.2 million guaranteed.

A first-time Pro Bowler in 2015, Walker is coming off his best statistical season with 94 catches for 1,088 yards and six touchdowns. He’s scored 16 of his 24 career touchdowns since joining the Titans in 2013.

Walker will be 32 in August. He was drafted by the 49ers in the sixth round in 2006 and played seven seasons with the 49ers before signing a four-year deal with the Titans in 2013.

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Chiefs announce signing of six draft picks

Kansas-City-Chiefs-helmet-Brian-Bahr-Getty-Images-jpg Getty Images

Count the Chiefs among the teams who are getting plenty of their rookie draft picks under contract.

The Chiefs have announced deals with second-round defensive lineman Chris Jones, fourth-round offensive lineman Parker Ehinger, fourth-round receiver Demarcus Robinson, fifth-round quarterback Kevin Hogan, sixth-round defensive back D.J. White, and sixth-round linebacker Dadi Nicholas.

The Chiefs also have added seven undrafted free agents: Vanderbilt guard Jake Bernstein, Hawaii center Ben Clarke, Dartmouth cornerback Vernon Harris, Mount Union cornerback Tre Jones, BYU receiver Mitch Mathews, SMU cornerback Shak Randolph, and Florida State linebacker Terrance Smith.

The Chiefs have three remaining unsigned draft picks: third-round cornerback KeiVarae Russel, fourth-round cornerback Eric Murray, and fifth-round kick returner Tyreek Hill.

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Dante Fowler Jr. injury helped spark rookie minicamp changes for Jaguars, Dolphins

Jacksonville Jaguars first-round draft pick Dante Fowler is tended to after being injured at the teams NFL football minicamp in Jacksonville, Fla., Friday, May 8, 2015. (Fran Ruchalski/The Florida Times-Union via AP) AP

As rookie minicamps commence throughout most of the league, two teams in Florida specifically have dialed back on the amount of on-field work in which players who haven’t played football in several months will perform. And it’s clear that last year’s season-ending ACL tear suffered by Jaguars linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., the third overall pick in the draft, served as a catalyst for change.

“It was something we’ve been discussing since probably around the Combine,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase told reporters on Friday regarding his decision to have rookies do less at minicamp. “Between [G.M.] Chris [Grier], [executive V.P. of football operations] Mike [Tannenbaum] and myself, we’ve talked a lot [with] our coaching staff, especially some of the older guys. [We talked about] their thought process of kind of trying something a little different. I’d reached out to [Rams] coach Jeff Fisher at the owners meeting because I had heard that he had always done it a little different. I think he’s been doing it different than everybody else for a long time going back to Tennessee. So it was just kind of how we wanted to build it and see how we could kind of take that injury out of what goes on in this camp. A lot of our guys haven’t practiced [in] four to five months, so we just wanted to make sure that they learned our program. We got them ready to go so when we get to OTAs, those guys are in the right kind of shape. I think last year probably scared a few guys. When you lose a first round draft pick like Jacksonville did, it just kind of gets you thinking ‘What’s the right thing to do at this point?’”

Appearing earlier this week on PFT Live, Jaguars G.M. Dave Caldwell did one of the rare things that anyone in football ever does — he expressed regret for not changing Jacksonville’s approach to the rookie minicamp before Fowler was injured.

“[Players go] through workouts all the way up to the draft and these players go through 10 to 15 visits,” Caldwell said. “Then all of a sudden they’ve had the combine and all this traveling and then we’re going to bring them in and the first weekend that they’re NFL players we’re going to throw them on the field for three practices. We don’t do it with our veterans. Our veterans are here for four or five weeks and conditioning and training. We get fitness assessments of them before we put them on the field.

“So I think you know the Dante [Fowler] thing, it was always something in the back of my mind and usually it was hamstring pulls or groin strains or calf strains. Something that the rookies would have and instead of getting better they’d be rehabbing all summer. To be honest with you I’m still pissed at myself that I allowed it to happen. I think with talking with Coach Bradley and our coaching staff we just said, ‘Hey lets bring these rookies in, lets see where they are from a fitness standpoint and then lets decide who’s gonna engage in some football activity on Friday and Saturday.'”

Caldwell pointed out that the league looked into Fowler’s injury and determined that there was no violation of the offseason rules. But Caldwell acknowledged that putting first-round picks, undrafted free agents, and players participating on a tryout basis on the field at the same time creates “a lot of organized chaos.”

“I think we just peeled back a little bit and said, ‘Let’s focus on the things that can help these guys a couple years down the road.’ In terms of nutrition, stretching, how to prepare, how to hydrate especially here in Jacksonville and give them a little bit of time in the playbook and then bring them along smoothly.”

It’s surprising more teams haven’t followed suit. If the 2016 rookie class in Miami and Jacksonville end up doing well right out of the gates, maybe it will happen in the future.

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Patriots sign all but one draft pick, the one without an agent

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 31:  Cyrus Jones #5 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after returning a punt for a 57 yard touchdown in the third quarter against the Michigan State Spartans during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots knocked out most of their draft pick contracts Friday, signing eight of their nine choices.

The team announced they had signed all but third-round quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who has chosen to represent himself. The quarterback may be getting some degree of advice on his deal, if only an hourly rate lawyer to look over the deal, but the increasingly boilerplate nature of rookie deals makes it tempting to save the 3 percent commission.

The Patriots picks signed were second-round cornerback Cyrus Jones, third-round offensive lineman Joe Thuney and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine, fourth-round wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, sixth-round picks linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, linebacker Elandon Roberts and guard Ted Karras and seventh-round wide receiver Devin Lucien.

They also released running back Joey Iosefa (who spent time on their practice squad and active roster last year) and added eight undrafted free agents: Illinois cornerback V’Angelo Bentley, Arizona State running back D.J. Foster, Ole Miss nose tackle Woodrow Hamilton, Ole Miss linebacker C.J. Johnson, Auburn cornerback Jonathan Jones, Florida Atlantic cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc, Vanderbilt tight end Steven Scheu and East Carolina tight end Bryce Williams.

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Ezekiel Elliott understands, accepts pressure of new job

PISCATAWAY, NJ - OCTOBER 24: Ezekiel Elliott #15 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during a game at High Point Solutions Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

Every player chosen in the top five picks of an NFL draft comes into the league with high expectations and Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is no exception.

The Cowboys made Elliott the fourth overall pick of this year’s draft instead of addressing a defense that flopped last season in hopes of recapturing the offensive production they had while winning the NFC East in 2014. DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing that year with 1,845 yards and it’s probably safe to say that a lot of people expect the same from Elliott in order to live up to his draft position.

Elliott isn’t shying away from that. He said Friday that he understands “what’s expected of me” from the start of his career in Dallas.

“There’s pressure, but we’re athletes,” Elliott said, via the team’s website. “That’s what we play for. That’s why we play the game. Pressure is what we want and I feel like I thrive in those situations when there is a lot of pressure on me. Yeah, there’s pressure. Am I afraid of it? No. I’m just ready to prove myself.”

If Elliott is what the Cowboys hope he’ll be, Tony Romo is back to pre-injury form and the other key  offensive players stay healthy, scoring points shouldn’t be a problem. That’s only half the game, of course, but owner Jerry Jones believes that would make it easier for the defense to be better as well. In other words, the expectations attached to Elliott won’t be stopping when he goes to the sideline.

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Rex Ryan talks up Baby Gronk

LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 28:  Fullback Glenn Gronkowski #48 of the Kansas State Wildcats carries the ball into the end zone during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the NFL Draft wound down last Saturday, Bills coach Rex Ryan picked up the phone and made a call to undrafted Kansas State fullback/tight end Glenn Gronkowski.

Ryan wanted Gronkowski to know the Bills wanted him, and not just for his last name.

“I recruited him, there’s no question,” Ryan said at the Bills rookie minicamp Friday, per the team-released transcript. “At the end of the draft I called him up and recruited him myself because I really liked him when I saw him as a player. And then I guess the family was in the background, so, I had a couple of parting shots.”

Glenn becomes the fourth Gronkowski brother to play in the NFL. Rob Gronkowski — dominant during the season, generally shirtless otherwise — is the best-known of the bunch and the best player, and Ryan almost always uses two defenders on him when his teams play the Patriots.

“I think Rob was proud of his brother obviously and him getting the opportunity to play here,” Ryan said.

The Bills list Glenn Gronkowski at 6-foot-3, 234, meaning he’s about three inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than his big brother. Glenn Gronkowski is getting tight end reps this weekend because the Bills don’t have a true tight end in their rookie camp. He’ll likely play fullback and special teams in his bid to make the roster, and Ryan says he’ll be watching him closely.

“I love the way he played,” Ryan said. “They did a lot with him at Kansas State but obviously he’s got the bloodlines. But it’s more than that. It’s the style of play and I look at him as a guy that, you know, I’m expecting big things from.

“Can he contribute on special teams, can he be a backup fullback, use him at different things, backup tight end? We’ll see. He’s going to get the opportunity to prove it. But I would not be surprised if he does very well.”

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Seahawks sign nine draft picks, 13 undrafted rookies

MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 29:  Germain Ifedi #74 and Joseph Cheek #79 of the Texas A&M Aggies hoist the trophy following a victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers in the 56th annual Autozone Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on December 29, 2014 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Getty Images

We’ve heard about some of the draft picks the Seahawks have signed and some of the undrafted players they are taking a look at during this weekend’s rookie minicamp, but the team didn’t make any of them official until Friday.

When they did, they revealed that they have nine of their 10 draft picks under contract. The only holdout is seventh-round running back Zac Brooks.

First-round offensive lineman Germain Ifedi leads the group of signed draft picks. A tackle in college, Ifedi is ticketed for a guard spot during his rookie season as is third-rounder Rees Odhiambo. Second-round defensive tackle Jarran Reed, third-round tight end Nick Vannett, third-round running back C.J. Prosise, fifth-round defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson, fifth-round running back Alex Collins, sixth-round center Joey Hunt and seventh-round wide receiver Kenny Lawler are the other picks to agree to deals.

Former TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin headlines the list of undrafted additions. He is joined by former Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams at rookie camp, although Adams is there as a tryout player.

The rest of the undrafted signees are Florida Atlantic fullback/defensive tackle Brandin Bryant, Colorado State cornerback DeAndre Elliott, Western Kentucky tight end (and former basketball player) George Fant, Oregon defensive end Christian French, Florida International defensive tackle Lars Koht, Rutgers linebacker Steve Longa, USC running back Tre Madden, Arizona tackle Lene Maiava, Wisconsin wide receiver Tanner McEvoy, East Carolina defensive end Montese Overton, Illinois State defensive end David Perkins and Ohio State safety Tyvis Powell

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LaMarr Woodley not a fan of defensive coordinators Bettcher and Tarver

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 27:  Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Arizona Cardinals on the sidelines during the NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the 49ers 47-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Maybe now we’re getting an idea why LaMarr Woodley has been on three teams the last three seasons, and remains a free agent.

Via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, the veteran outside linebacker made a point on his podcast to rip Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher and former Raiders coordinator Jason Tarver (who is now coaching linebackers for the 49ers.

He didn’t mention either guy by name, but he didn’t have to.

“In Oakland, we had a dumb defensive coordinator and in Arizona, we had a dumb defensive coordinator,” Woodley said. “It was just two dumb guys. They thought we were like Madden players. They’d draw something up and on paper it looked good, but the players still have to go out there and run it. Those guys didn’t really listen to their players. They wanted to do it their way and their way only.”

Oh.

Woodley didn’t care for moving to defensive end in Oakland after spending his career as an outside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense. And even though he was in a familiar spot in Arizona, he didn’t like the way he was utilized, and placed the blame for a 49-15 loss in the NFC Championship Game on Bettcher.

“In Arizona, we had one of the best defenses,” he said. “You look at the results that happened in the Carolina game. It wasn’t because we had bad players. No, our defensive coordinator he didn’t have the common sense to talk to his players to make the adjustments. Because he just wanted to do things his way those are the results we got, bottom line.”

Of course, the Cardinals did rank fifth in the league in defense last year, and Woodley hasn’t exactly been an impact player in some time. His production has steadily decreased since 2009 when he had 13.5 sacks, and he has 10.0 sacks in the last four seasons, none for the Raiders and a single for the Cardinals.

So maybe it’s him.

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Buccaneers sign sixth-rounder Devante Bond

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 22:   Linebacker Devante Bond #23 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates a play against the Kansas Jayhawks November 22, 2014 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated the Jayhawks 44-7.  (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Buccaneers got their first-round pick under contract on Friday and they moved closer to getting the entire class signed by agreeing to a deal with sixth-round linebacker Devante Bond as well.

Bond became the 183rd overall pick of the draft last Saturday after he took a winding path to a career in football. Bond didn’t play football until his senior year of high school and spent two years in junior college before finishing up his career at the University of Oklahoma.

Bond only made eight starts during his two years with the Sooners and missed four games with injury in 2015, but the Bucs saw enough to bring him to the team. His seven tackles for losses last season likely helped on that front, although his quickest route to playing time in Tampa is likely to come on special teams.

With Bond and first-rounder Vernon Hargreaves signed, the Bucs need to get deals done with second-round picks Noah Spence and Roberto Aguayo and sixth-rounder Dan Vitale to have the entire group under contract.

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Cardinals sign Nkemdiche, two other draft picks

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #29 overall by the Arizona Cardinalsduring the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals signed three draft picks Friday, including first-round defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche.

Regarded as one of the draft’s most talented but puzzling prospects, Nkemdiche was busy on the pre-draft circuit meeting with teams and answering questions. The Cardinals were comfortable enough with what they heard to draft him with the No. 29 pick.

Nkemdiche, who’s just 21, figures as an immediate contributor on an already talented Cardinals defensive line.

The Cardinals also signed fifth-round safety Marqui Christian and fifth-round offensive lineman Cole Toner.

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Giants announce 14 undrafted rookie additions

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 17: KJ Maye #1 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers carries returns a punt against Jonathan Rose #14 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the first quarter of the game on October 17, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants are hoping for a return to form from wide receiver Victor Cruz after two seasons lost to injury and getting it would add to the improbable story that Cruz began writing as an undrafted free agent in 2010.

If he can’t, perhaps one of the wideouts that the Giants signed as an undrafted free agent this year will be able to bolster the Giants’ receiving corps. The team announced 14 signings on Friday afternoon and there were three receivers in the group.

At 6’3″, Darius Powe is the tallest wideout on the Giants’ 90-man roster outside of French import Anthony Dable and comes to the team after 47 catches for 560 yards and eight touchdowns while playing with Jared Goff at Cal last season. K.J. Maye comes in at the opposite end of the spectrum at 5’8″, but was productive at Minnesota while catching 73 passes for 1,190 yards and six touchdowns. The Giants also signed Roger Lewis from Bowling Green.

Liberty quarterback Josh Woodrum, Illinois State running back Marshaun Coprich, UTEP tight end Cedrick Lang, Virginia tight end Ryan Malleck, Notre Dame defensive end Romeo Okwara, North Carolina State defensive end Mike Rose, Kentucky defensive tackle Melvin Lewis, Campbell defensive tackle Greg Milhouse, UConn defensive back Andrew Adams, Boise State defensive back Donte Deayon and Oklahoma State defensive back Michael Hunter are the other new additions to the Giants roster.

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Cardale Jones: Rex Ryan might be my long-lost father

Buffalo Bills quarterback Cardale Jones has a laugh while speaking to the media during their NFL football rookie minicamp in Orchard Park, N.Y., Friday, May 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert) AP

Bills quarterback Cardale Jones never had a problem speaking his mind during his time at Ohio State with one of the more notable comments coming when he wondered on social media why football players had to go to class when they weren’t in college to “play school.”

A willingness to shoot from the hip verbally is something the fourth-round pick shares with his new coach Rex Ryan and Jones said Friday that he appreciates that Ryan is “not here to B.S. you.” He also joked that the similarity in their personalities has him thinking there may be a deeper connection.

“He might be my long-lost dad,” Jones, who has said in the past that he’s never met his father, said. “I’ve been looking for that guy for 23 years. I found him.”

Ryan pointed out the physical differences between the two men that make that unlikely while discussing his early impressions of Jones on the field.

“You guys have seen me throw,” Ryan said, via Syracuse.com. “I can’t even throw it 30 yards I don’t think. OK, maybe 40. You know what, I’m excited about him. He’s a big, raw talent. Does he have to come a long way? There’s no question about that. But he’s almost in the perfect situation and we’ll see how he develops.”

Jones won’t be seeing the field much if it all in the regular season if all goes according to plan for the Bills, leaving him time to polish that raw talent for a time when the team may need to look in his direction.

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49ers announce 12 undrafted free agents

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In addition to signing nine of 11 draft picks, the 49ers have persuaded a dozen undrafted free agents to join the team.

Signing three-year deals with the 49ers are Stanford linebacker Kevin Anderson, Oregon offensive lineman Alex Balducci, Colorado safety Jered Bell, Stanford receiver Devon Cajuste, Arizona State defensive lineman Demetrius Cherry, Utah linebacker Jason Fanaika, Nevada linebacker Lenny Jones, Alabama defensive lineman Darren Lake, Liberty kicker John Lunsford, Baylor offensive lineman Blake Muir, Southern Mississippi offensive lineman Norman Price, and California receiver Bryce Treggs.

All teams may have up to 90 players on the offseason roster.

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