Mike Florio is joined by Michael David Smith to make their picks for the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. They both agree that the Patriots and Broncos look like the clear favorites in the AFC, but the NFC matchups are a little tougher to predict.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: AFC games are no-brainers
As Mike Mayock recently explained it, no team will draft former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon unless the owner approves it. Given the post-Ray Rice realities of the NFL, that’s hardly a surprise; more than 20 years ago, the Patriots renounced the rights to third-rounder Christian Peter after ownership became aware of his history of alleged and actual violence against women.
So with the caveat that Mixon will be an owner’s pick, is there an owner who will pick Mixon?
For some, it may be an issue of the round in which he’s available. As Mixon drops, the relative value increases. At some point, the benefit of having Mixon could outweigh the cost of picking him.
But the cost will be much more than the draft pick invested. P.R. fallout is inevitable, and any team that embraces Mixon will need to have a clear plan in place for explaining why Mixon has gotten a second chance, given the graphic video of a vicious punch to the face of a woman who was accosting him.
On the issue of whether players deserve second chances, keep in mind that, in a 32-team industry with only 53 players per team, giving a player a second chance necessarily means taking away the first chance of someone who most likely hasn’t committed any acts of violence beyond the confines of a football field.
Though not invited to the Scouting Combine (he should be), Mixon will have plenty of chances to make the case for picking him. He’ll get a chance to do that publicly on Monday, when he calls in to PFT Live.
With former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017, the NFL has given fans of those teams another reason to got Canton for enshrinement weekend.
The Cardinals will face the Cowboys in this year’s Hall of Fame Game, the league has announced.
The game will take place on Thursday, August 3, two days before the enshrinement ceremony. That’s a departure from past years, when the Hall of Fame Game took place on Sunday. Last year the NFL was left with a big black eye when the Hall of Fame Game had to be canceled because of wet paint on the field in Canton, and the league thinks spreading out the weekend will allow things to run more smoothly from a logistical standpoint — not to mention help Canton do more business with fans staying in town for another day.
The Cowboys are always a strong television draw, and the league will surely be glad to open the 2017 preseason with Dallas on national television. As long as there’s no wet paint on the field.
The free agent left tackle market keeps getting deeper.
The $1 million option would have activated the next four years at $48 million, with $20.5 million in guarantees, and that was too high a price for the Broncos to pay.
Okung can now go represent himself in a market that also includes players such as Ryan Clady, Matt Kalil, Andrew Whitworth and Kelvin Beachum, and that kind of crowd might make a guy want to hire an agent.
It also sets the stage for an extensive rebuild for the Broncos, whose offensive line was a major issue last year.
Good news, Dolphins fans. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s knee is healed.
Bad news (maybe), Dolphins fans. Tannehill’s knee is as healed as it will ever be, absent reconstructive surgery.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald explains that Tannehill, who suffered a second-degree MCL sprain and a slightly-torn ACL after taking a low hit from Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell in December, has “passed a battery of tests” regarding the stability and functionality of the knee and “is now ready to go.” Still, the ACL is partially torn, and ACL’s don’t heal on their own.
Here’s the key point, which Salguero made earlier this week during a visit to PFT Live: “Tannehill will not be any more susceptible to a future ACL tear in his left knee following his completed rehabilitation than if he’d had a reconstructive surgery.” Putting it another way, Tannehill is as susceptible to a full ACL tear as he would be if he had a full reconstruction.
So the chance remains that a full tear will happen, and that he’ll need a full reconstruction. Given the risks associated with full reconstruction, the Dolphins have decided that there’s no reason to do it unless and until the ACL completely goes.
Salguero also reports that Tannehill will wear a brace on his left knee in 2017, as a preventive measure. The end result is that Tannehill will be ready to go for the entire offseason program; if he had surgery on the knee, he surely would have been out of commission until training camp at the earliest.
Veteran quarterback Josh McCown is free to sign with any team because he was released by the Browns, but he doesn’t expect anything to happen right away.
McCown said during an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Ross Tucker and Greg McElroy that he has had “good conversations with four or five teams” since being cut loose in Cleveland. He said he’s excited about the prospect of playing for some of those teams, but thinks it will likely be closer to or after the draft before things move forward with any of them.
“I’m gonna take my time,” McCown said. “Having played this long, for me right now it’s being in the right situation. As we talked to teams and had some initial conversations, everyone is waiting to see how and where the quarterback market goes.”
McCown said “location is a factor” because of his desire to be close to his family, but that the structure of the organization and a chance to win would also be significant considerations for him this year.
In his first public comments since breaking his fibula in Week 16, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota said he’s rehabbing in Oregon and expects to be back to Nashville soon.
In a taped message played at a banquet for Titans season-ticket owners last night, Mariota struck a positive tone.
“I wish I could be there with you guys to relive the 2016 season. It was an incredible one, filled with a lot of fun moments,” a bearded Mariota said, via Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. “I’m currently here in Oregon, getting healthy and going through my recovery process. I look forward to getting back to Nashville and getting the 2017 season underway. I think it’s going to be a great one.”
Of course, it’s February, so the fact he’s at his alma mater now probably isn’t that big of a deal, and coach Mike Mularkey said he was still “on pace” to be ready for the start of the regular season.
“I’d say probably the thing I am most concerned about him is he’s probably in there 10 to 12 hours trying to get this thing [healed],” Mularkey said. “He’s probably overworking. I want him to make sure he’s being smart about it. Because you know his work ethic — he’s probably going to try to come back as quickly and better than ever.”
The Titans have said they’re going to be “overly cautious” with his recovery, and Mularkey said he’s been in regular contact with both Mariota and the training staff at Oregon. He’s nearing the two-month mark for putting weight back on his right leg, and Mularkey said he’s seen video of the quarterback walking on a treadmill pool.
The Bills have had a rough time in recent months from a P.R. perspective. Coincidentally (or not), they have a new P.R. chief.
Derek Boyko joins the Bills as Vice President of Communications. The team announced the move on Thursday. Former head of P.R. Scott Berchtold will become a Special Assistant.
Boyko spent 17 seasons as the director of public relations with the Eagles. He’ll be the team’s primary media contact.
One of Boyko’s most immediate challenges will be to reverse the perception/reality of dysfunction within the organization. Although owner Terry Pegula has balked at the notion that things aren’t working as they should, a disastrous end-of-season press conference from G.M. Doug Whaley became all the proof anyone needs to support the idea that the Bills finished 2016 in chaos.
Boyko, who knows a thing or two about dysfunction after surviving the Chip Kelly/Howie Roseman days in Philly, will be a critical voice in the effort to direct the franchise internally and to shape the message externally, via the establishment and maintenance of a line of communication with those in position to influence fans and other media regarding whether the Bills are, or aren’t, operating in the way that they should be.
More than two weeks after Super Bowl LI, the jersey worn by quarterback Tom Brady remains missing. Brady has tried to help the cause by posting on Instagram a “suspect board.”
The potential culprits include Prison Mike, Julian Edelman, Lady Gaga, Gollum, the shark from Jaws, and the melty-faced likeness of Tom Brady from that notorious courtroom sketch artist.
It’s another example of the sense of humor Brady flashes from time to time on social media, even as it relates to the very real theft of an item valued by police at $500,000. Make no mistake about it; someone stole the jersey, possibly with the intent of replacing it with a replica.
The universe of potential thieves should be fairly small, and it remains to be seen whether the authorities can crack the case. In the interim, the person who took it still can try to find a way to return it and, in turn, to avoid becoming Da Belle of Da Ball.
There are plenty of players around the league rehabbing after season-ending injuries right now, but Texans right tackle Derek Newton may be facing the longest road back to the field.
Newton tore the patellar tendons in both of his knees during a game against the Broncos last year and it can be tough to make it back from one of those injuries. Players who have suffered the same double as Newton in the past haven’t resumed their careers, but Newton’s teammate Duane Brown says he’s in a good mental place as he works to buck those odds.
“Derek’s doing great,” Brown said, via the Houston Chronicle. “He’s in great spirits. Very unique injury, something you don’t see very often in this league. He’s doing everything he can to get back as quickly as possible. He’s got a long road ahead of him. I’m just doing all I can to keep him confident in his return and give him my story what I went through last year and doing what I can. He has a great mindset going into it. I know he’s a hard worker, so I know he’ll be okay.”
Veteran Chris Clark filled in for Newton last season and remains under contract for 2017, although Houston may still look at options in the draft given how unlikely it is that Newton will return to the lineup.
The Giants moved on from running back Rashad Jennings earlier this month in a move that saves them $2.5 million in salary cap space and leaves Jennings in search of a new home for the 2017 season.
Jennings’ work last season will create some doubt about how much he has to offer another team. Jennings gained 3.3 yards per carry last year and lost time to rookie Paul Perkins over the course of the season, developments that join his upcoming 32nd birthday as reasons to doubt that big things are in his future.
During an appearance on NFL Network, Jennings said that such doubts have given him a “chip on my shoulder” and haven’t dimmed his confidence that he can contribute to a team in 2017.
“But where I’m at right now, I’m excited, you know? Free agent, you know, healthy,” Jennings said. “I’m down in Florida already training, trying to get ready for a team to call me. I always say my job every single year is to make one G.M. right and that’s no doubt what I’ll be doing this upcoming season.”
Given the committee role he’s almost certain to play, Jennings may have to wait for other pieces to settle around the league before he finds the G.M. that thinks he’s the right fit for their backfield plans.
Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter avoided felony charges last month when the local prosecutor decided that the evidence didn’t support a conclusion that Porter “attempt[ed] by physical menace to put [a police officer] while in the performance of duty, in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.”
With the entire case now resolved via a glorified parking ticket (i.e., a $300 citation), the video of Porter’s altercation outside of a Pittsburgh club has emerged. Posted at Deadspin, the video shows Porter arguing with a man who was keeping Porter out of the club. The officer eventually arrives, asking aloud what’s going on (and gesturing in a way that reminded me of Joe Pesci), generally being ignored, and finally intervening when Porter grabs the man blocking the door and pulls him away from it.
At that point, the officer gets in front of Porter and pushes him away, into the side of a nearby parked car. The officer tries to restrain Porter by putting a hand in his chest. Porter plainly can be seen — at least three times — grabbing the officer by a wrist and pulling his hand away.
Clearly and indisputably, Porter put his hands on a police officer, multiple times. When Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala dropped the aggravated assault charge, he declined to release the video, claiming that it was still evidence as to the remaining charges of disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.
“Joey, I think, enjoys and revels in the reputation he had as a hard-nosed player, but he really took it hard about the notion that he was violent, disrespectful of law enforcement, excessively drunk, those kinds of things, because the charges suggested those,” Porter’s attorney, Robert DelGreco Jr., said at the time, via WTAE.com.
The president of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge 1 suggested that something fishy was going on.
“I find it incredible that charges were reduced prior to a preliminary hearing taking place,” Bob Swartzwelder said. “I hope every other criminal defendant is given such expedient treatment, or is there something more to this case? If an individual put his hand on a police officer, the charges should stand.”
The Pittsburgh Police Citizen Review Board later concluded that Porter grabbed the officer by the wrists, rendering him defenseless. While defenselessness is a subjective assessment, it’s not an unreasonable conclusion given the size difference and the reality that Porter’s conduct easily could be regarded as “physical menace” that put the officer “in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.”
Putting his hands on the officer — something no one should ever do unless being beaten or otherwise brutalized — crosses a line that arguably should have prompted the prosecutor to allow an impartial jury to decide whether Porter ran afoul of a law that essentially prohibits people who find themselves in the middle of a hostile disagreement treating a police officer like anyone else who happens to find himself in the middle of the scrum. The fact that Porter didn’t stand trial invites speculation that he received the benefit of the doubt that comes from playing for (and now coaching) the locally-beloved NFL team.
The Eagles have decided to bring Peters back without a pay cut, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. Peters’ base salary will be $10.45 million and he can also earn a workout bonus of $250,000.
That’s a lot of money, but with the Eagles trying to develop a young quarterback in Carson Wentz, saving money by trying to find a left tackle on the cheap would be foolish. If the Eagles did ask Peters to take a pay cut, he and his agent presumably informed them that he wouldn’t do so, and the team presumably decided that it couldn’t lose Peters and risk not having a good left tackle to protect Wentz.
The 35-year-old Peters, who started all 16 games last year, is under contract with the Eagles through 2018.
You can tell we’re getting close to the NFL Scouting Combine, that magical time of year when football-starved men obsess over fractions of inches.
(Write your own punchline, funny guy.)
So after NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock suggested that North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky might only measure 6-foot-1-something, UNC coach Larry Fedora said he didn’t think that was the case.
For what it’s worth, Trubisky is listed as 6-3 in the Tar Heels media guide, such that a number inscribed by the PR staff in Chapel Hill matters.
“I think it’s funny,” Fedora told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I love this time of the year watching how they just tear every kid apart.
“I promise you Mitch will be tall enough. I’ve never said Mitch was 6-3, so I don’t know where any of that came from, but he’s going to measure probably 6-2 or a little bit taller than that. I don’t know exactly because I’ve never put a tape on him, but he’s going to be tall enough to be successful, I promise you.”
Fedora said he’d be “really shocked” if Trubisky was only “a little over 6-1” as Mayock said he’s been told by scouts, and reiterated that his quarterback’s height wasn’t an issue.
“At this time of year it’s always about tearing kids down. I think Mitch understands that. He’s very confident in what he can do, and I’m sure he’s going to throw at the Combine and then I’m going to make a bet that he’s going to throw at our pro day (March 21) too. I don’t think he’s going to be scared to hide anything.”
While only a measuring tape in Indianapolis will tell the official truth —unless Trubisky has lifts in his socks (#alternativeheight) — this will hopefully put this mini-controversy to bed.
Now we can worry about the only real measurement that matters for quarterbacks — How big are his hands?
A more-humorous-than-interesting kerfuffle has emerged on Twitter involving Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and, for a change, not me.
The NFL tweeted a photo of Rodgers running a 4.71-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine in 2005. Rodgers responded by pointing out that it was a 4.66, followed by the #fakenews hash tag.
While it seems that Rodgers is joking, they say that every joke has a kernel of truth. It would surprise no one that the so-sensitive-he’s-sensitive-about-being-called-sensitive quarterback would quibble with something so trivial, if he truly believes he ran the 40 a whopping 0.05 seconds faster than the NFL says he did.
Ultimately, none of it matters. He has become one of the best quarterbacks in league history, and 12 years later he still has enough gas in the tank to run a 4.71. Or a 4.66.
In-season firings of head coaches don’t happen all that often in the NFL, although you might not know that from looking at the Chargers coaching staff.
Head Coach Anthony Lynn got bumped up to interim head coach in Buffalo last year after Rex Ryan was fired while offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley both lost head coaching jobs in recent years before a season was over. Given those experiences and the coordinators’ resumes, some might wonder if Lynn has set up his staff with people ready to replace him should things take a wrong turn in Los Angeles.
Lynn said Wednesday that he’s had people ask him about that, but that he’s not bothered because “those guys have my back” and believes the value they add will keep him from finding himself in such a situation.
“Something is going to cross my desk that I haven’t been exposed to, and they’re going to help me with it, and that’s going to help the organization,” Lynn said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “That’s all I care about.”
Lynn’s just been hired, so it makes sense that the possibility of getting fired is reserved for the recesses of the mind. NFL job security can get tenuous quickly, although Lynn should continue to enjoy it if Whisenhunt and Bradley provide the assistance that Lynn believes they’ll bring to the table.