Mike Florio chats with Tom Curran of CSN New England to discuss the Patriots as they hit the homestretch of their season. Florio asks if Vince Wilfork is the favorite for DPOY, if Matt Schaub can be placed in the same category as Tom Brady, and the injury status of TE Rob Gronkowski.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Can the Pats run the table?
The Ravens reportedly wanted to trade up to the fourth pick in the draft on Thursday night so they could draft cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but their attempt was unsuccessful and Ramsey wound up being drafted fifth by the Jaguars.
There’s not much need to explain why Baltimore would be interested in Ramsey, who is the top defensive back in the draft and some feel he’s the best overall player in the class. It likely didn’t hurt Baltimore’s interest that their top current cornerback is having surgery on his foot.
Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith missed eight games in the 2014 season because of a Lisfranc injury that required him to have screws surgically installed in his foot. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that Smith, who didn’t look all the way back to form in 2015 while starting every game, will be having another procedure to get the screws removed and that he’s hopeful to get back to work in four-to-six weeks.
There was a good chance the Ravens would take a cornerback regardless of Smith’s status for the rest of offseason workouts, but they’ll have to settle for someone further down the list than Ramsey.
As the NFL continues to bask in the glow of a narrow, 2-1 appeals court victory in the #Deflategate imbroglio, Commissioner Roger Goodell is now defending his handling of quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension by attacking the NFL Players Association.
“I understand when there is a defense of any violation . . . that is part of the game, we all understand that nobody wants to discipline,” Goodell told ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike, via Dan Werly of TheWhiteBronco.com. “I understand the union’s position. The union’s position is to eliminate discipline. That is what they do, we are going to protect the player, right or wrong. And I get that, that is understandable, go at it. My job is to protect the game. We are not going to relent on that, we are not going to compromise at all.”
That’s an incredibly cynical view of the union’s role, and an apparent attempt to counter NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith’s recent explanation on PFT Live about the union’s commitment to fighting for its players. But the union isn’t trying to ensure that players suffer no consequence for wrongdoing. The union wants any consequences to be fair and consistent and within the confines of the labor deal. The union also wants the process that determines those consequences to be fair.
Fairness of the process continues to be the primary problem, since it provides no real protection against the NFL running amok. Although the NFL has (reluctantly) yielded Goodell’s judge-jury-executioner status on matters like on-field discipline, substance abuse, and PEDs to neutral arbitration, Goodell refuses to relent in his position that the league should have full control over the disciplinary decisions and the appeals arising from violations of the Personal Conduct Policy and the rules regarding conduct detrimental to the league.
“I am not going to hand off the integrity of the NFL to somebody who doesn’t understand our business,” Goodell said. “ESPN doesn’t do that. When somebody gets disciplined at ESPN it’s made by ESPN, they don’t hand it off to somebody who doesn’t have an interest in ESPN and the NFL is not going to do that either.”
Without knowing the intricacies of ESPN’s employment structure and relationships, there’s a very good chance that ESPN has a workforce that is partially unionized and a workforce that partially isn’t. As to the union employees, a Collective Bargaining Agreement sets forth the procedures for resolving disputes arising from the imposition of discipline by ESPN. As to non-union employees, the language of any individually-negotiated contract controls. For some employees, there may be an arbitration clause. Others may be able to go to court.
Regardless, it’s likely that ESPN doesn’t reserve the right to serve as the arbitrator in any of its own employment disputes, for union or non-union employees. That’s the difference between the NFL and ESPN, and that’s the ongoing nature of the problem for the NFL. The obsession with controlling the outcome of any dispute keeps the outcome of every dispute from being regarded as fair and just.
As to anyone who would wag a finger at the union for not insisting during the last labor negotiations that Goodell surrender to arbitration his power over the Personal Conduct Policy and conduct detrimental to the game, Goodell’s comments underscore just how hard it would have been to get him to give those rights up. Indeed, and as PFT previously has explained, Goodell and the league flatly refused to agree to neutral arbitration under these policies the last time a new CBA was finalized.
Even if the NFL was willing to inject true fairness into the process by letting someone with no connection to the case resolve it, the league apparently would want plenty of stuff in return from the players. The players at some point would need to ask themselves whether they’re willing to make concessions that would apply broadly to all of them in order to obtain a protection that, as a practical matter, applies to a small handful each year.
The best defense that Goodell ever can muster for not allowing a truly neutral party to resolve any disputes over player discipline imposed by the league arises from the unreasonably stubborn notion that he doesn’t want “somebody who doesn’t understand our business” to make decisions about whether punishments imposed by the league will be upheld. Here’s the reality, however: Thousands of business routinely submit disputes to third parties for a fair and neutral resolution. Likewise, hundreds of judges and arbitrators are smart enough to understand the issues and make reasonable, fair decisions in cases involving industries far more complex and nuanced than grown men playing a kid’s game.
This isn’t about the union wanting to discipline no one. This is about the NFL wanting to be able, when it so chooses, to discipline anyone and everyone, without having to face serious questions or challenges regarding whether the punishment is consistent and fair with past cases, whether the league even has the power to impose the discipline, whether fair and proper procedures were employed to allow the player to prepare and present his defense, and ultimately whether the league was motivated by some unrelated business interest, with the player becoming a pawn in a much broader P.R. or political (internal or external) agenda.
Using third parties to resolves disputes strips away the possibility that, for example, the Commissioner threw the book at the Saints in the bounty case to create the impression that the league cared about player health and safety during the early days of the concussion lawsuits or that the Patriots faced significant sanctions for #Deflategate because the owners who supervise and compensate Goodell were clamoring for a tough punishment due to the perception that the Spygate penalties were too light.
Any adversarial process benefits from the use of an independent party to resolve the dispute. The integrity of the game and public confidence in the sport actually would be maximized if the league were to fully embrace that reality.
But that would keep the league from doing what it wants, when it wants, how it wants. In the Brady case, the federal courts have (to date) sanctioned that practice. The court of public opinion, however, should continue to reject Goodell’s position and demand true fairness and objectivity for all players, through an arbitration process carefully designed to ensure that properly educated and accomplished individuals will be charged with sorting out the facts and applying the relevant law to the unique (not really) employment and business challenges faced by a business premised on paying folks to run, block, tackle, throw, catch, and kick.
After a couple of months of uncertainty about what the Broncos would do at quarterback for the 2016 season, things got a lot clearer on Thursday night.
The Broncos traded up five spots in the first round in order to select Paxton Lynch, bringing an end to an extended search process that started when Brock Osweiler left for Houston and included investigations into trades for Colin Kaepernick and Sam Bradford. Elway told Peter King of TheMMQB.com that he was “surprised” the Kaepernick trade talks didn’t come to fruition, but that he’d choose Lynch over the other possibilities if he’d had his choice of outcomes when the process started.
“Do I have any regrets about this whole thing?” Elway said. “No. We’re thrilled to have ended up where we are, with Paxton. If you had said to me, ‘Here are your four options,’ and you named the four we just went through, this is the one we’d take. We think Paxton, long-term, is a perfect fit for our offense.”
Elway said he’s comfortable with Mark Sanchez opening the season as the starter while Lynch makes the transition to the professional ranks, but said “never say never” when asked if that’s how things will play out when the time comes for the Broncos to start defending their Super Bowl title.
It’s a good thing the Seahawks were able to find a pass protector with the 31st pick last night.
Because they only have one quarterback on the roster, so they need to keep him safe.
The Seahawks used the final pick of the first round on tackle Germain Ifedi, adding to an offensive line that badly needed reinforcements. Especially if they go with the unconventional one-quarterback roster.
Before he became the head coach of the Redskins, Jay Gruden was the offensive coordinator of the Bengals.
In that job, Gruden got to deploy A.J. Green at wide receiver and he feels like the team added a similar player to their offense in the first round on Thursday night. The Redskins dropped down one spot, adding a 2017 pick in the process, and then took wide receiver Josh Doctson with the 22nd pick. After the selection, Gruden said Doctson reminded him of his former Cincinnati charge.
“I think [Doctson’s] the most polished receiver of the group, personally,” Gruden said, via the Washington Post. “I think he can do a lot of different things across the middle. When the ball is in the air, he’s got the jumping ability. He’s got great hands. I think he’s got the best hands in the draft also. He’s a great pure route-runner. I graded him out very, very high. Our scouts had him graded out very high. [General Manager] Scot [McCloughan] loved him. We all loved him, obviously, based on his production. The game is not too big for him. He’s just a solid, all-around football player. Great body control, which you can’t coach that. The ball is in the air, he can twist all kind of different ways. It reminds me a lot of A.J. Green a couple years ago in Cincinnati.”
We’ll save Green comparisons until Doctson has some NFL experience under his belt, but he gives the offense a bigger receiver than they had coming into the draft and that should help the offense even if he doesn’t make the same kind of splash in his rookie season. His presence also increases the team’s options at receiver moving forward with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both entering the final year of their contracts.
In the days leading up to the draft, there was buzz about the Giants having interest in drafting linebacker Leonard Floyd or the best offensive tackle available with the No. 10 pick.
When Thursday night rolled around, they saw the Titans trade up to take tackle Jack Conklin at No. 8 and then watched the Bears leap over them to snag Floyd with the ninth pick. The Giants could have taken tackle Laremy Tunsil or linebacker Myles Jack (whose knee issues were a red flag), but opted to take cornerback Eli Apple.
Some thought that the take-out king of Columbus, Ohio was a reach at that spot, but General Manager Jerry Reese said they followed their board and that Apple was rated higher than “the guys who had some issues” like Tunsil and Jack. Scouting director Marc Ross also defended the way the Giants played things on Thursday night.
“We’ve heard it before,” Ross said, via the New York Post. “We’ve taken other players that [were called] a reach. Nobody knows. If you get a dime for every expert, I could retire. Come on. Experts? People analyze. People have opinions. What’s it based on? Nobody has seen the tape. Nobody goes to practice. Nobody puts in the work like the scouts do. It’s easy to second-guess and pick and say get everybody’s pick right and tell them what they should do, but you’ve just got to put in the work and trust what you do.”
Ross is correct about the Giants hearing a lot of criticism about their recent drafts and co-owner John Mara has been one of the critics. Mara said this draft is more important than usual, which would make the way the Apple selection works out crucial for the futures of both Reese and Ross in the organization.
As if Raiders owner Mark Davis offering $500 million toward a stadium wasn’t enough of a sign people were serious about the possibility of the Raiders actually going to Las Vegas, the league’s continually softening stance on Sin City should be.
Via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked on ESPN Radio whether gambling concerns would be enough to prevent a Raiders move.
“All of us have evolved a little bit on gambling,” Goodell said. “To me, where I cross the line is anything that can impact on the integrity of the game. If people think it is something that can influence the outcome of a game, we are absolutely opposed to that.”
The idea that gangsters are going to lean on players to influence outcomes of games is a paranoia of another era. As gambling on sports has become more popular and more available, the stigma of Las Vegas as a destination for the league has receded.
The league’s also perfectly willing to push the game in London, where gambling on sports is not only commonplace, but endorsed on the fronts of jerseys in England’s top soccer league.
So it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the league seems to be warming to the idea of Las Vegas. If nothing else, the Rams going to Los Angeles required them to come up with another city to use as leverage in existing stadium negotiations.
On a night that the Ole Miss football program should have been celebrating the placement of three of its former players into the first round of the draft, the Rebels are reeling from the admission of left tackle Laremy Tunsil that he was paid while in college.
“I’d have to say yeah,” Tunsil said at his post-selection press conference regarding whether he received money from a coach at Mississippi.
“The university is aware of the reports from the NFL Draft regarding Laremy Tunsil and potential NCAA violations during his time at Ole Miss,” the university said in a statement, via CFT. “Like we do whenever an allegation is brought to our attention or a potential violation is self-discovered, we will aggressively investigate and fully cooperate with the NCAA and the SEC.”
The investigation quickly could get interesting, given that it’s unlikely that only one guy was getting paid, if anyone was getting paid.
It already was known that Tunsil received “impermissible extra benefits” at Mississippi. He missed the first seven games of the 2015 season after the NCAA found that Tunsil had used three vehicles without payment over a six-month period, got an interest-free loan on the down payment for buying a used car, two nights free lodging at a local home, an airline ticket bought by a teammate’s friend, and a free one-day rental vehicle. The notion that Tunsil was paid directly by coaches, however, constitutes new territory for Tunsil and Ole Miss.
The NCAA no longer has jurisdiction over Tunsil, which means he won’t be required to cooperate in any investigation arising from his comments. Based on his surprising candor from last night, maybe he’ll choose to answer questions regarding whether and to what extent he and other players were paid.
The Ravens played it safe when they actually made their pick. But they tried to make a big move to help fix their defense.
Via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome admitted they tried to trade up to the fourth pick in the draft to get to Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but when Dallas wouldn’t budge, they watched their target go fifth overall to Jacksonville.
Then with Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott off the board, they settled on the top tackle in the draft, or at least the top tackle who didn’t have a gas mask bong hit video hit the Internet 15 minutes before the selection meeting began.
“The thing that I’m so proud of, . . . our scouts get a lot of information,” Newsome said. “When things happen, a lot of the times we’re not surprised. We took the best player, the player that was rated the highest on the board at that point. I cannot neglect the importance of the work that our scouts do in the fall and in the spring getting information for us.”
The implication that they somehow knew about Tunsil’s video seems disingenuous, and an attempt to cover tracks for a team which has never shied away from harboring wayward boys. From the moment Robert Nkemdiche placed Tunsil in the Atlanta hotel room he flew out the window of (and was subsequently arrested for possession of marijuana in), there should have been reason to suspect a link to marijuana was possible.
And while Stanley might be a talented prospect in his own right, the fact he was “cleaner,” can’t help but have swayed the Ravens, and delivered the Dolphins a guy they thought was the best player in the draft.
The agent for Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford says he’s angry because they didn’t tell him their plans to draft a franchise quarterback. But Eagles coach Doug Pederson says Bradford was told in advance that part of his job would be grooming a rookie quarterback.
Sal Paolantonio reported today on Mike & Mike that he talked to Pederson, and that Pederson relayed the conversations he had with Bradford. Pederson claims he told Bradford all along that he’d be sharing the quarterback room with a rookie.
“He told me that he told Bradford and Chase Daniel up front that they were going to draft a quarterback, and they were going to try to nurture him for the future, and they expected Bradford and Daniel to be part of that, but that this year Bradford would be the starter,” Paolantonio said. “And they were shocked when they told Bradford that they were going up to No. 2 and they were making the trade and investing five picks, and Bradford’s reaction was one of anger, and he abruptly walked out of the offseason training program.”
Paolantonio also reported that Pederson tried to reach out to Bradford, but Bradford is ignoring texts from Pederson, other Eagles coaches and the front office.
It’s possible that Pederson is telling the truth but something got lost in the discussion: Perhaps Pederson told Bradford that the Eagles would draft a quarterback, but Bradford interpreted that as meaning a late-round quarterback, not a No. 2 overall pick who’s clearly expected to become the franchise quarterback by 2017.
Either way, however, Bradford signed a contract to play for the Eagles this year and accepted an $11 million signing bonus as part of the deal. Whether Bradford likes it or not, he’s teammates with Wentz. It would probably be wise to stop pouting, and start trying to prove himself good enough to keep Wentz on the bench.
There’s a glass of coffee half-full/half-empty question to ask, as it pertains to the Dolphins having Laremy Tunsil land in their laps last night.
On one hand, they thought they acquired the best player in the draft. On the other, the Dolphins think the best player in the draft is a guard, at least for now.
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins were stunned to see Tunsil slide, and when he passed the Ravens’ spot at No. 6, they thought they had a real chance at him.
“We’re sitting there watching the best player in the draft fall and we started talking about this might actually be happening for us,” a team source told Salguero. “We’re picking 13 and the best player in the draft just fell to us.”
For now, their plan is to use Tunsil at guard, assuming left tackle Branden Albert and right tackle Ja’Wuan James stay healthy. That’s not safe to assume though, and Tunsil will ostensibly take over for the 31-year-old Albert at some point.
But starting him inside helps shore up one of the Dolphins’ weakest spots, and buys him some time to acclimate to the NFL.
And as last night showed — with someone close enough to him to get password access leaking bong rip videos and Instagram allegations of money changing hands at Ole Miss to his social media accounts — Tunsil might need some insulation at the moment.
By taking Elliott, the Cowboys passed on defensive players like Jalen Ramsey and DeForest Buckner who could have helped a unit that failed to impress last season. After the selection was made, though, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said it wasn’t a “pure offensive pick” and coach Jason Garrett explained why the team feels Elliott will make their defense better.
“Hopefully you possess the ball more,” Garrett said, via the team’s website. “You get more plays on offense, fewer plays on defense, and that allows your defense to play at a higher level. It’s similar to how we played a couple years ago, when we ran the ball so effectively — and I thought it had a really positive impact on everybody on our team. We believe Zeke gives us a chance to do that.”
Garrett also thinks Elliott will help the passing game be more effective and Jones shared his belief that running backs need less time to acclimate themselves to the professional game than players on the defensive side tend to need. Unmentioned was that Elliott’s decision to sport a crop top on his way into the draft showed a Texas-sized ability to land in the spotlight, which certainly isn’t something that Jones has frowned upon in the past.
Fashion sense aside, there’s some merit to all of the football-related points. Now Elliott just has to prove to be a better choice than Richardson was in Cleveland.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson insists that Sam Bradford is “our guy,” and as soon as he actually talks to his expensive free agent quarterback, he’ll tell him that.
Of course, he hasn’t spoken with Bradford since they traded for the No. 2 overall pick so they could grab Carson Wentz, and Bradford demanded a trade and said he wouldn’t be coming back to work in Philadelphia, so that’s kind of complicating things.
“Well, right now we’re still in April, we’re beginning phases of our OTAs coming up in May,” Pederson said in an interview with NBC 10, via CSNPhilly.com. “I’ve said all along Sam’s our guy, he’s my guy, and he’s a part of the Philadelphia Eagles, and it’s just unfortunate where we are right now.
“But the thing is once he’s here, he’s our guy. Because it’s a voluntary offseason program there’s not a whole lot we can do. But at the same time we just know we want him to be a part of the Philadelphia Eagles this year.”
Bradford lost a bit of the leverage he had last night when the Broncos traded up for quarterback Paxton Lynch, limiting the amount of potential places he could be traded by at least one if not two (since the 49ers appear stuck with Colin Kaepernick as a result, making Chip Kelly bringing Bradford in a second time less likely).
The next step is monitoring the damage control in Philadelphia. ESPN’s Twitter-less Sal Paolantonio said during the broadcast last night that Bradford wasn’t taking Pederson’s calls, which Pederson sort-of confirmed by saying he hadn’t talked to Bradford since the trade demand.
“I have not,” Pederson said. “Not right now. I had a chance to sit down with him just and visit with him 1-on-1 prior to our minicamp a week ago. Other than that, I haven’t had a chance to visit with him.”
If Bradford gets his way, he might not. But unless someone unexpectedly emerges as a suitor for an expensive quarterback with a 25-37-1 career record and no postseason experience, Bradford may be stuck holding a place for Wentz whether he likes it or not.
The Patriots get to join the draft on Friday night.
The Ravens weren’t talking about their plans for a starter at left tackle on Thursday night.
CB William Jackson thought he was going to be drafted by the Steelers, but wound up as the Bengals’ choice.
The Steelers expect to add more defensive help after taking CB Artie Burns in the first round.
Thursday night’s trade marked the sixth time the Chiefs have dealt themselves out of the first round.
A knee injury wasn’t enough to keep the Raiders from drafting S Karl Joseph.
The Saints may find a highly-rated player waiting for them in the second round.
OL Germain Ifedi was exactly as excited about being picked by the Seahawks in the first round as you’d expect.
NFL teams knew Myles Jack’s knee was an issue, after poking at it thoroughly at the Scouting Combine and the subsequent medical re-check.
But it might have been something the talented-but-injured UCLA linebacker said about his condition that scared a number of teams away, as much as the condition itself.
After Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman took Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Vernon Butler with the 30th, he made the obligatory remark about Butler being the highest-rated player on their board.
He was then asked if Jack was even on his board.
“Oh, yeah,” Gettleman replied immediately.
When asked if he was surprised Jack was still available — since many thought would have been a top 10 pick if not for a knee injury that’s going to require more attention — Gettleman was frank.
“Not after what he said today,” Gettleman said. “Very frankly. The kid came out and said he is going to need a microfracture.”
The cartilage in Jack’s right knee was damaged in the practice accident that ended his final season, and teams already had concerns about when and to what degree he’d be back to his old form.
Jack admitted that the day before the draft began, and the admission could be a costly one. It’s not as if the teams with access to his medical records didn’t know there was some degree of problem, but Gettleman’s reaction indicated that talking about it raised the red flag a few feet up the pole.
As someone in the truth-telling business, it’s not a happy thought to consider, but it’s worth wondering whether Jack would be on a team right now if he had just kept his diagnosis to himself.