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NFL morning after: How I learned to stop worrying and love overtime

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Getty Images

I used to think that I, and I alone, knew the perfect solution to the question of how overtime games should be decided. Nine years ago this week, I wrote about my proposal to reduce the importance of the coin toss in the NFL’s system of sudden-death overtime. I called it splitting the overtime pizza, and I was sure that I had come up with the original and perfect solution for overtime, by letting one team choose the yard line for the overtime kickoff, and then letting the other team choose whether to kick or receive.

There were a couple of problems with my original and perfect idea: One was that it wasn’t original, as I later learned that others had proposed similar overtime solutions. The other is that it must not have been perfect, because no matter how hard I tried to explain that my system was the fairest method of resolving a game that’s tied at the end of regulation, I usually just got confused looks when I talked about it.

Still, I soldiered on, and as the NFL adjusted its system of overtime, tweaking the pure sudden-death format and eliminating the ability to win on a field goal on the first possession, I would stubbornly insist to anyone who would listen (a diminishing number of people) that my way of overtime was the better way.

And then I sat there watching the three overtime games going on simultaneously at 4:30 on Sunday afternoon, thinking to myself that I couldn’t remember the last time I enjoyed an afternoon of football so much, and I realized I had been hoist with my own petard.

Yes, the NFL’s overtime system is wonderful.

The new rule, which largely keeps the sudden death format but adds the provision that a team can’t win with a field goal on the opening possession, really is the best of both worlds. It has the excitement of knowing that the game can end on any play, which was always the best part of sudden death, but it gets rid of the games when the team that receives the overtime kickoff just picks up a few first downs and plays it safe as soon as it gets into field goal range, which was always the worst part of sudden death. That change to sudden death overtime, which the NFL implemented for the playoffs two years ago and expanded to include the regular season this year, adds a strategic element and just generally makes overtime more fun.

It was a lot of fun on Sunday, when three of the eight early afternoon games went into overtime and we got to see three different ways that an overtime game can end:

1. The Texans became the first team in NFL history to score twice in overtime: Houston received the overtime kickoff and marched down the field on a 14-play, 73-yard drive that culminated with a field goal, which under the old rules would have ended the game — and the old rules would have deprived us of a great overtime period after that. The Jaguars received the ensuing kickoff and went on an 11-play, 53-yard drive that culminated in a field goal of their own. That tied the game, and from there the next score would win. We then saw a wild sequence in which Texans quarterback Matt Schaub threw an interception, which was followed by the Jaguars getting stopped for no gain on four straight plays and turning the ball over on downs, which was followed by Schaub hitting Andre Johnson for a game-winning 48-yard touchdown pass.

2. The Buccaneers received the overtime kickoff and were forced by the new rules to try to score a touchdown, rather than settling for a field goal. The Buccaneers were in field goal range after four plays, but they didn’t settle for a field goal right then and there, instead running four more plays and winning the game on the opening possession with a touchdown pass from Josh Freeman to Dallas Clark.

3. The Cowboys and Browns traded punts on their opening drives, but the Cowboys had won the field position battle by driving 39 yards on their opening possession and then punting deep into Cleveland territory and holding the Browns’ offense to three-and-out. Once each team had possessed the ball, it was sudden death from there, and on the third drive of overtime, the Cowboys needed to go just 28 yards to set up Dan Bailey’s 38-yard game-winning field goal.

When I watched all three of those thrilling overtime endings back-to-back-to-back, it was impossible not to love the way the NFL does overtime. Sunday afternoons don’t get much better than that.

The three simultaneous overtimes were my favorite part of Sunday’s NFL action. Here are my other thoughts:

Give Rex Ryan credit. After a week in which the NFL media wrote the Jets off for dead, called their locker room a circus and generally acted like they were the biggest joke in the NFL, Rex Ryan had his team playing very hard in a 27-13 win at St. Louis. This Jets team has all kinds of problems on offense, but Ryan has always done two things very well as a coach: Design defensive game plans, and get his team to play hard when their backs are against the wall. The 4-6 Jets probably aren’t going to make a playoff run — losing Darrelle Revis for the season was devastating to the defense, and the talent on offense just isn’t there — but Ryan isn’t driving a clown car. He’s running a football team and doing a pretty good job of it.

Ken Whisenhunt’s failure to figure out the quarterback position will be his undoing. It’s surprising that Whisenhunt, who was known as a smart offensive schemer during his time as an assistant coach, has so thoroughly botched the quarterback position during his tenure as a head coach. Early in his tenure as the Cardinals’ head coach, Whisenhunt failed to see what should have been obvious, which is that Kurt Warner is a much better quarterback than Matt Leinart. Eventually Whisenhunt realized Warner was the man for the job, and Warner got the Cardinals to a Super Bowl. But after Warner retired, Whisenhunt again failed to find a quarterback, playing musical chairs among Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall, before the Cardinals made the disastrous decision to trade for Kevin Kolb. Whisenhunt’s latest decision at quarterback was to bench Skelton on Sunday in favor of Ryan Lindley, who proceeded to throw away an early lead, completing nine of 20 passes for 64 yards and losing a fumble that was run back for an Atlanta touchdown. After the defense carried the Cardinals to a 4-0 start, the Cardinals have now lost six in a row, and Whisenhunt is in jeopardy of losing his job because he couldn’t find anyone to play quarterback.

The Eagles have given up on the season. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is a great talent, but the Eagles’ defense made him look like Joe Montana as he completed 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns. Philadelphia coach Andy Reid is about to get fired, and the Eagles have a whole lot of guys who look like they don’t care.

What was Belichick thinking? Deep in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ 59-24 win over the Colts, coach Bill Belichick kept many of the Patriots’ most important players on the field, even though the game was out of reach. I’m baffled that Belichick would expose key players like Tom Brady (who was throwing passes with a 28-point lead late in the fourth quarter) and Rob Gronkowski (who broke his arm on the Patriots’ last extra point) to injury at a time when the Patriots already had the game locked up. Brady emerged from the game unscathed, but Gronkowski’s injury is a major blow to the offense. With the Patriots having a quick turnaround before playing the Jets on Thanksgiving, Belichick should be resting his players, not working them overtime. Leave the overtime to the teams that have to play overtime, coach.

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Terrance Knighton doesn’t play on Friday night

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13:  Football player Terrance Knighton attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Maybe the Patriots will soon be leaking that they’ll be cutting Terrance Knighton, so that they can trade him.

The veteran defensive tackle didn’t play in Friday night’s preseason game against the Panthers. Knighton, who played last year in Washington, didn’t sound happy about the development.

I prepared myself to play,” Knighton said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “I just didn’t play. I don’t know. You’ve got to ask the coaches. I’m 100 percent healthy. I prepared myself to play a lot of football tonight. It didn’t happen. It is what it is. I’m not asking why or anything. I’m just going to show up to work tomorrow and take it a day at a time.”

If Knighton’s name is included in the reduction of the roster from 90 to 75 (on Tuesday) and then to 53 (by next Saturday), he’ll leave with a $250,000 signing bonus and a workout bonus of more than $100,000. He also would be an unrestricted free agent, able to pick his next destination, if he’s cut.

A trade becomes possible because his salary is only $900,000, with a $300,000 incentive package.

“It’s disappointing because I’ve played a lot of ball in this league, seen a lot of things, but I’m not going to make too much of it,” Knighton said. “It is what it is. Whatever happens, happens. If I’m here, I’m here. If I’m not, I’m not. I’m just taking it a day at a time really.”

He’ll only need to take it another seven days or so before knowing his fate with the Patriots.

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Redskins announce roster cuts

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 25: The helmet of a Washington Redskins player rests on the field during warm ups against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Raymond James Stadium on November 25, 2007 in Tampa, Florida.  The Bucs won 19-13. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Redskins made 10 roster cuts Saturday as they prepare for two mandatory roster cutdowns this week.

Waived by the team were offensive tackles Al Bond and Cody Booth; linebackers Shiro Davis and Ejiro Ederaine; cornerback Jeremy Harris; linebacker Willie Jefferson; running back Kelsey Young and wide receivers Valdez Showers, Dez Stewart and Jarvis Turner.

All were college free agents who had signed with the Redskins over the last two years.

All teams must trim their rosters to 75 by Aug. 30 and to the regular season size of 53 by next weekend.

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Saturday one-liners

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 18:  Cameron Wake #91 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates after sacking the quarterback during a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on October 18, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Dolphins defeated the Titans 38-10.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins DE Cameron Wake accepts his current role as a non-starting pass-rush specialist.

Bills TE Chris Gragg suffered a torn ACL on Friday night against Washington.

Patriots WR Julian Edelman was rusty in his preseason debut.

Jets WR Brandon Marshall says that rookie WR Robbie Anderson “has that wow factor.”

Ravens QB Joe Flacco will play on Saturday for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2015; “I think the big thing about preseason is always getting back out there and getting oiled up and part of that is playing well,” Flacco said. “I think a big part of going into the first game of the season is confidence in what we have and how we’ve done in live games.”

Bengals WR Brandon Tate and WR Alex Erickson may be battling for the same roster spot.

Browns coach Hue Jackson let P Andy Lee hear it for giving a half-hearted effort to make a tackle on a punt return; “We’re out there to play,” Jackson said after the game. “If there’s another guy that has the ball, your job is to go get it.”

Steelers S Shamarko Thomas still talks to Troy Polamalu several times per week; “He is a bigger brother to me,” Thomas said. “A father figure. It is him guiding me and mentoring me. Any question I have he is there for me.”

Texans DL Christian Covington quit Pokemon Go cold turkey when training camp opened.

The decision to work out Stevan Ridley shows that the Colts aren’t thrilled with Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, and Josh Ferguson as the current backups to Frank Gore.

Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue is expected to get first-team reps on Sunday night, possibly splitting plays evenly with Dante Fowler.

The competition remains wide open for the No. 3 tailback spot behind DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.

Rookie fifth-rounder Connor McGovern may start Week One at right guard for the Broncos.

The Chiefs continue to discuss the possibility of selling the naming rights to Arrowhead Stadium.

The Raiders are anxious to see what undrafted rookie RB Jalen Richard can do in a preseason game.

Good news? Support for the Chargers stadium bill has increased nine points. Bad news? They’re still 27 points short of the mark.

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is drawing comparisons to Donovan McNabb. (I guess that would make him Gak Prescott.)

Giants WR Victor Cruz broke out his old No. 3 practice jersey.

The Eagles have developed a package of plays to take advantage of WR Dorial Green-Beckham’s size and ability to jump.

Washington LB Ryan Kerrigan will have an MRI on his injured groin; he has never missed a regular-season game in his career.

The injury to Bears G Kyle Long’s shoulder forced more shuffling of the team’s offensive line.

Packers WR Davante Adams dropped what would have been a long gain on Friday night.

Vikings LB Chad Greenway likes the playing surface at the team’s new stadium.

Falcons CB Desmond Trufant is the brightest spot on the team’s defense, and he keeps pushing to get better.

The Panthers have a fairly long list of banged-up players.

Saints TE Michael Hoomanawanui suffered a lower leg injury against Pittsburgh on Friday.

Lost in the redemption of this year’s second-round pick of the Buccaneers is the fact that last year’s first-round pick keeps getting better and better.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians likes having the team’s training camp at its stadium.

Rams QB Case Keenum has yet to notice any fans at training camp wearing his jersey number.

Anthony Davis played guard for the 49ers on Friday night.

Rookie Tanner McEvoy keeps doing good things for the Seahawks.

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49ers trade cornerback Acker to Chiefs

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 13: Cornerback Kenneth Acker #20 of the San Francisco 49ers ties to tackle running back Duke Johnson #29 of the Cleveland Browns during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the 49ers 24-10. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 49ers have traded cornerback Kenneth Acker to the Chiefs in exchange for a future draft pick.

The 49ers’ release on the trade noted that Acker must pass a physical before the trade is finalized. ESPN reported that the pick sent to Kansas City was a seventh-round pick in 2018.

Acker was a sixth-round pick of the 49ers in 2014 and started 13 games last season. He spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve.

Acker played in 15 games last season and had three interceptions.

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Dolphins cut 11

Minnesota Vikings v Houston Texans Getty Images

The Dolphins have cut 11 players as they move toward the 75-man roster limit.

The biggest name of the bunch is cornerback Brandon Harris, a 2011 second-round pick of the Texans who has had a disappointing NFL career and still has never started a regular-season game.

Players placed on waivers were linebacker Akil Blount, center/guard Ruben Carter, wide receiver A.J. Cruz, long snapper Ryan DiSalvo, wide receiver Matt Hazel, tight end Gabe Hughes, kicker Marshall Koehn, cornerback Al Louis-Jean, guard Vinston Painter and wide receiver Brandon Shippen.

All 32 teams have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to trim their rosters to 75 players.

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Bears’ offense continues a disappointing preseason

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn) AP

If Week Three of the preseason is the week that most resembles the regular season, the Bears’ offense is not in good shape. Then again, the Bears’ offense didn’t look good in the first two weeks of the preseason either.

In today’s game against the Chiefs, Bears starting quarterback Jay Cutler completed just six of his 15 passes, for 45 yards, and was sacked twice for a loss of 20 yards. The Bears didn’t score a point until third-string quarterback Conor Shaw threw a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

Today isn’t the first disappointing preseason performance for the Bears’ offense, which was shut out in a 22-0 loss to the Broncos in the first week of the preseason. The Bears looked a little better in the second preseason game, a 23-22 loss to the Patriots.

Cutler and the starters won’t play next week, so their preseason is over. They’ll have to look a lot better in the regular season or else the Bears are headed for a third consecutive last-place finish.

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Cowboys will quickly find out what Dak Prescott can do

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) looks to pass as Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (72) blocks Cowboys guard Zack Martin during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

Through three preseason games, Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has passed the eyeball test. The real test comes when opposing defenses have enough evidence to eyeball him.

If starting quarterback Tony Romo will indeed miss 6-10 weeks with a broken bone in his back, Prescott will play enough preseason games to result in the generation of sufficient film to properly break down his game. What does he do well? What does he not do well? What are his tendencies, his tells?

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has mastered the most obvious principle of defensive football: Take away what the other team does well. When opposing defenses figure out what Prescott does well, will he be able to still do those things when the defense is trying to stop him? Will he be able to do things well that he doesn’t like to do?

Usually, it takes 4-6 weeks of games that count to generate enough film to permit astute defensive coordinators to crack the code. The challenge for the Cowboys will be to work diligently to crack the code on their own, anticipating how defenses will adapt to Dak and taking advantage of any ensuing holes in the defense.

Regardless, the injury gives the Cowboys a chance to find out whether Prescott can be the week-in, week-out answer after Romo leaves. If Prescott does well enough, Romo may be leaving before he wants to.

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Eddie Lacy “debating” a haircut after being tackled by dreadlocks

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy carries the ball as San Francisco 49ers tackle Mike Purcell, right, defends during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

Packers running back Eddie Lacy might be about to drop even more weight.

After being tackled by his dreadlocks last night, Lacy said he’s strongly considering a haircut to keep future defenders from employing the same move.

I’m debating after that,” Lacy said, via Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I don’t know how many more of those I’d like to experience. We’re in camp. So I’ve got to wait until I get out of camp, and then I’ll assess it.”

While horse-collar tackles from behind have been banned, grabbing ball-carriers by the hair is totally legal. Maybe not kosher, but legal.

Lacy said he hasn’t cut his hair in a year, and hasn’t been tackled by his hair since he was a junior in high school, which was eight seasons ago. So cutting his signature style isn’t something he’d consider lightly, but 49ers linebacker Gerald Hodges yanking him down from behind on a breakaway run was an eye-opener. He said he’d consider getting a haircut during the bye week next month.

“It definitely hurts,” Lacy said. “The first thought in my mind was a word I can’t really say.”

Lacy has responded to the Packers’ fat-shaming him by losing at least 10 pounds and returning to the form he had shown his first two seasons in the league. In the preseason, he has 20 carries for 114 yards, a strong 5.7-yard average.

And that average would have been longer if not for Hodges yanking him down by his hair.

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Jason Garrett doesn’t rule out Tony Romo for Week One

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett stands on the sideline during the first half of the team's preseason NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear) AP

Notwithstanding a report from PFT (those bastards) that quarterback Tony Romo will miss 6-10 weeks with a broken bone in his back, coach Jason Garrett said Saturday that he won’t rule out Romo for Week One.

Regardless of whether Romo could play that soon (and there’s a very, very, very strong chance he won’t be able to), there’s no reason to rule him out now. The injury-reporting rules, as revised, don’t mandate the attachment of any label to Romo until Friday, September 9. Why should Garrett officially declare before then that Romo won’t play?

Four years ago, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was listed as doubtful for Week One at home against the Giants, and Witten played. In Romo’s case, he technically could be listed as doubtful under the new rules (or even questionable, theoretically), which would keep the Giants guessing up until 90 minutes before kickoff.

The injury creates a separate issue for the Cowboys: Who plays in the preseason finale is rookie Dak Prescott will be in line to start Week One? Jameill Showers could handle the entire game, in theory. The better move could be to acquire another quarterback now, in order to get him ready to serve as the No. 2 to Prescott in Week One, if as expected Romo isn’t ready.

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Source: Tony Romo to miss 6-10 weeks with broken bone in back

A fan expresses her support for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo as Cowboys backup quarterback Dak Prescott (4) prepares to take a snap during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks in a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

If that hit on quarterback Tony Romo’s back looked bad, there’s a good reason for it. It was bad.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Romo is expected to miss 6-10 weeks with a broken bone in his back. The team will be announcing the injury; it’s unclear whether the team will put a duration on the absence.

It means that those Cowboys fans who had been clamoring for the Dak Prescott era to begin sooner than later will be getting their wish. For better or worse.

For Romo, the best-case scenario based on the initial estimate means he’d be back by Week Five at the earliest, for a game against the Bengals. Under the worst case, he’d be back in for Week Nine, versus the Browns. Dallas has a Week Seven bye.

Meanwhile, it may be time to reconsider your vote from Friday’s PFT Planet poll question.

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Bears’ Tracy Porter leaves game with apparent head injury

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 15: Tracy Porter #21 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after breaking up a pass in the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on November 15, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bears cornerback Tracy Porter exited today’s game against the Chiefs with what appeared to be a head injury.

Porter, the Bears’ most experienced defensive back, was attempting to tackle Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris when he was accidentally kneed in the back of the head by Bears safety Harold Jones-Quartey. Porter stayed on the ground for a few minutes and was attended to by the medical personnel before eventually getting up and slowly walking to the sideline under his own power. He was then escorted to the locker room. The Bears confirmed that he is being evaluated for a possible concussion.

The head injury will likely put Porter in the NFL’s concussion protocol. His preseason was probably over anyway, as starters rarely play in the fourth preseason game, but the Bears will now have to hope he’s cleared in time for the start of the regular season, two weeks from tomorrow.

The 30-year-old Porter is in his second season in Chicago. He started 13 games for the Bears last year.

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NFL: Players are encouraged but not required to stand for national anthem

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 22:  An American flag covers the field during the National Anthem before the NFL game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Twenty years ago, the NBA suspended a player who refused to stand for the national anthem. The NFL will not be doing the same thing.

“Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem,” the NFL said in a statement issued Saturday, in response to the controversy that emerged when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted not to stand during the playing of the national anthem on Friday night in Santa Clara, prior to a game against the Packers.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick has since said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The NBA based its suspension of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf on a rule that requires players to stand during the playing of the national anthem. The NFL has no such rule, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement is silent on the subject.

And so Kaepernick and any other player has the right to not stand during the national anthem. Whether other players will follow Kaepernick’s lead remains to be seen.

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Browns want now what they could have gotten for Josh Gordon in 2013

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) celebrates with teammate Andrew Hawkins (16) after catching a 43=yard touchdown pass in front of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Brent Grimes (24) during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) AP

The Browns may have “no intent” to trade receiver Josh Gordon, but they reportedly will do so in exchange for a second-round draft pick. That’s precisely what they rejected for him in 2013.

As Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer explained two years ago, the Browns turned down during the 2013 season the chance to deal Gordon for a second-round pick. The team (believed at the time to be the 49ers) essentially would have been giving back to the Browns the second-round pick that they used in the 2012 supplemental draft.

Via Cabot, former Browns CEO Joe Banner and former Browns G.M. Mike Lombardi wanted to do the deal, but others (including coach Rob Chudzinski) wanted to keep Gordon.

It was also believed at the time, as PFT consistently has heard, that owner Jimmy Haslam didn’t want to trade Gordon so soon in time after trading running back Trent Richardson to the Colts. Although getting an extra 2014 first-round pick (which eventually was squandered on Johnny Manziel after a trade up to No. 22) ended up being a great move, Browns fans weren’t thrilled with the perception that the team was tanking by trading Richardson. Trading Gordon so soon after that would have only exacerbated the impression that the Browns were giving up on 2013.

In hindsight, they should have taken the second-round pick for Gordon, who missed 11 games in 2014 due to suspensions and then all of 2015. Although his performance on Friday night could increase Gordon’s trade value, it won’t be easy to get a second-round pick now. The real question becomes whether Gordon will do enough when he debuts as of Week Five to finagle a second-round offer for the Browns before the Tuesday after Week Eight.

There’s a chance the price will go up, and it’s clear that the Browns (despite what they say) would like nothing more than to turn current assets into future draft picks, since they surely realize that it makes more sense to build for a brighter future than to tilt at windmills in the present.

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How will other players react to Kaepernick’s gesture?

gettyimages-460735354 Getty Images

Now that everyone knows: (1) that Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been standing for the national anthem; and (2) that he’s doing it because he refuses to “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” the next question is how other NFL players will react to the gesture.

Plenty of people are reacting to Kaepernick’s First Amendment right to protest the flag by exercising their First Amendment right to protest him. For now, no teammates or peers have spoken up.

When they do — and, inevitably, they’ll be asked about it, what will they say?

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who spoke out last month against prominent NFL players who “are just sitting back, taking the dollars, whether it’s Cam Newton, all these guys. They’re not really on the forefront of trying to change what’s going on.” Although Bennett later walked back his remarks, Bennett may embrace Kaepernick’s gesture, since he’s the first guy who is both “taking the dollars” and taking a stand.

What will others do or say? The fact that Kaepernick currently is on track to be sitting for a lot of regular-season games than the pregame flag ritual will dilute the message. The possibility that the 49ers will decide to move on from Kaepernick based ostensibly on football reasons (which already were pointing to a divorce) will undermine his message even more.

For now, it’s unlikely that other players will stand with Kaepernick by sitting during the national anthem. But until other players chime in — and until more NFL games happen — it’s impossible to know whether Kaepernick’s peers will view the incident as an inspiration or an aberration.

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Kaepernick refuses “to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people”

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 08:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers watches Blaine Gabbert #2 play quarterback during their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Levi's Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

So why didn’t Colin Kaepernick stand during Friday night’s playing of the national anthem? If there was any ambiguity following his Thursday retweet linking the American and Confederate flags, there should be none now.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

As others have noted (and as PFT was informed when first becoming aware of the issue of Friday), Kaepernick hasn’t stood for the playing of the national anthem at any of his team’s three preseason games. Last night the gesture was noticed because, for the first time this year, he was wearing a uniform bearing his name and number.

“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” Kaepernick said. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. . . . If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

Because Kaepernick currently seems to be in the process of having his football taken away for football-related reasons, his decision will create less drama than if he had made it, say, three years ago, when people like Ron Jaworski were providing the ESPN washing machine days of content by declaring that Kaepernick could be one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Currently, he’s a starter who already was in an awkward posture as a member of an organization that seemed to be looking for a way to unload him via trade without hurting its leverage by sharing its true feelings about him.

The broader question becomes whether other players will become inspired by Kaepernick’s gesture and follow suit. It’s one thing for Kaepernick not to stand. It’s quite another if other players who actually will be, you know, playing this year do it.

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