Mike Florio talks with former Ravens head coach Brian Billick about the divisional round matchups in the NFL playoffs. Can the Ravens slow down Peyton Manning and the Broncos this time around? And can Joe Flacco prove to be among the elite? Billick also talks about the Falcons needing to come out strong and wear the Seahawks down before they can retaliate.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Can Flacco prove he’s elite?
Michael Irvin made some mistakes in his career, and had his share of look-at-me moments.
And now, the Hall of Fame wide receiver is chiding the top two picks in the 2015 NFL Draft for not becoming part of the spectacle.
Irvin’s going to meet with the 28 players who accepted invitations to Chicago to be part of the festivities, but he’s going to miss quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, whom he thinks should be there.
“I understand you want to be with your family, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, but you’re a quarterback. Nobody profits more from this league than quarterbacks and I do have an issue with them not being there,” Irvin told Lindsay Jones of USA Today. “This is a family. You’re coming into something that is much bigger than you. Don’t big-time it, and that’s what I feel is being done.”
Mariota, he of the spotless record, has chosen to stay in Hawaii, with family and friends. Winston will be back in Alabama, because his grandmother has diabetes and can’t travel and he wanted to be by her side.
So while they’ll miss the chance to walk across stage and hug commissioner Roger Goodell (as will Alabama wideout Amari Cooper), they’re also skipping events such as the one that will have Irvin and Cris Carter talking to the group about life as a professional athlete.
While the whole group is missing, Irvin suggested Winston in particular needed it.
“I think Jameis would benefit especially from the opportunity to talk to guys like Cris and I, but also just being there and seeing it,” Irvin said. “He won’t get what he’s getting to be part of. You see [fans] wrapped around the building, sleeping there, to get there. You see what it means to them.
“I absolutely hate the fact that they’re not coming. Everyone will get on me, oh Michael they can make this decision. Yeah, they can. But I can make the decision to hate the fact that they made it.”
If the NFL wants the players to be part of the show so badly, perhaps instead of sending out guilt-mongers like Irvin to scold them, maybe they should provide a little financial incentive, the kind generated by the fans who sleep around the building.
Washington’s decision to pick up the fifth-year option on Robert Griffin III isn’t necessarily a good thing for the quarterback’s long-term development. In fact, it makes it more likely that Griffin will be benched this year.
The option gives Griffin a $16.2 million salary for 2016, and that salary is guaranteed in the case of an injury — but not guaranteed if he’s healthy and the team decides to cut him. Which means that the worst-case scenario, from the team’s perspective, is that Griffin struggles and plays badly enough that they would like to cut him, but he suffers an injury that forces them to pay him anyway.
That means if Griffin struggles early in the season, coach Jay Gruden is going to have a quick hook. The team simply can’t afford to stick with Griffin and risk him blowing out his knee again, which would put them in a position where they’re both looking for a new quarterback next year and on the hook for Griffin’s $16.2 million salary.
Gruden has said that Griffin will enter training camp as the starter, but there’s no guarantee he won’t be benched for Colt McCoy or Kirk Cousins. If Griffin shows early in the season that he’s not up to the job, Washington will get him off the field to protect him from injury — and protect the team from having to pay him next year.
Missouri defensive end Shane Ray has issued an apology following a citation for marijuana possession on Monday morning.
According to Corporal Scott White of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Ray was pulled over for speeding on Monday morning in Cooper County, Missouri. Upon the traffic stop, a highway trooper smelled what was believed to be fresh, unsmoked marijuana. The vehicle was searched, and marijuana was found, White said. Ray was cited for possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana, a misdemeanor, and released on his recognizance, White said. He was also cited for a lane violation.
“I’d like to apologize to my Mother, Fans and prospective NFL teams for my poor judgement Monday morning,” Ray said in a statement, via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. “I am embarrassed and realize there are consequences for my actions. I was not under the influence nor impaired, therefore I was not detained. Fortunately, Mondays incident only resulted in a citation.
“I will make better choices in the future. It is imperative that I continue to strive to better myself. My future NFL career has been something I have always dreamed about and is very important to me. I commit that my actions will represent that. There are no excuses here and I will take the necessary steps to ensure this will not happen again. I will not jeopardize my ability to have a positive impact on and off the field moving forward.”
Ray joins Nebraska’s Randy Gregory as possible first-round pass rushers to have issues with marijuana in the lead up to the draft. The timing is less than ideal with the draft just three days from getting underway.
Broncos restricted free agent cornerback Tony Carter has re-signed with the club, according to the NFL’s Monday transactions.
A reserve in Denver’s secondary for the last several seasons, the 28-year-old Carter notched five tackles in eight regular season games in 2014. A seventh-year pro from Florida State, Carter has recorded 49 tackles, defended 20 passes and hauled in three interceptions in regular season play.
The Broncos are strong at cornerback, with Chris Harris and Aqib Talib a very good top tandem and 2014 first-round pick Bradley Roby a solid third option. Carter and 2013 third-round pick Kayvon Webster add to the depth.
Clubs had until last Friday to sign restricted agents to offer sheets. With the deadline having passed, the remaining RFAs figure to sign their one-year tender offers with their clubs as Carter did Monday.
The Buccaneers have done their best to create the impression that they want quarterback Jameis Winston with the first pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
And now they’re possibly trying to create the impression that they may be willing to trade the pick.
Buccaneers G.M. Jason Licht told Steve Wyche of NFL Media that the team received calls from more than one team on Sunday regarding the No. 1 pick. Licht declined to name the teams, and he said no offers were made or parameters discussed. But the message is clear.
“Everything is for sale,” Licht said.
If the top pick isn’t sold, the Buccaneers know who the pick will be; Licht said he and Smith are in “complete alignment” on that.
The question remains whether they’ll be in complete alignment regarding whether to make the pick or trade it, based on any offers they ultimately receive. Smith once took a team to the Super Bowl without a franchise quarterback, and the Buccaneers won the only Super Bowl in franchise history without one. The coach could eventually decide to swap the prospect of putting all eggs in one basket with spreading them out into several.
A published report pegs the Falcons as a club that could have designs on moving up in the first round.
According to Albert Breer of NFL Media, Atlanta has explored trading up from the No. 8 overall pick, with other clubs suspecting the Falcons are looking for defensive help.
Earlier Monday, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggested the Falcons could be interested in Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., with a trade-up possible. According to the Journal-Constitution, Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff indicated Atlanta has had “a lot of discussions already about moving both ways” in the draft.
The Falcons have eight draft picks, one each in rounds one through six and two in round seven. All eight picks can be traded. And to move up from No. 8, the club might have to contemplate surrendering a second- or third-round selection, depending how far it wanted to leap.
An edge-rushing prospect thought to have a good shot at being selected in Round One has encountered an unwanted off-field issue three days before the draft.
Defensive end Shane Ray, a former University of Missouri standout, was cited Monday morning on a marijuana possession charge, Corporal Scott White of the Missouri State Highway Patrol confirmed to PFT on Monday night.
According to White, Ray was pulled over for speeding on Monday morning in Cooper County, Missouri. Upon the traffic stop, a highway trooper smelled what was believed to be fresh, unsmoked marijuana. The vehicle was searched, and marijuana was found, White said. Ray was cited for possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana, a misdemeanor, and released on his recognizance, White said. He was also cited for a lane violation.
Ray did not appear impaired and was cooperative, White said. He faces a June 30 court date.
As a potential late first-round pick, the pot citation is a less-than-desirable development for Ray, to say the least. Moreover, the health of Ray’s foot has also been a storyline in the lead-up to the draft, though NFL Media has reported Ray does not need surgery.
Albert Breer of NFL Media reports Ray flunked a drug test in college, citing information from five unnamed NFL teams.
Rotoworld draft expert Josh Norris has the Cardinals selecting Ray 24th overall in his latest mock draft.
Quarterback is not a need for the Broncos in 2015, with Peyton Manning remaining in Denver. But with Manning’s retirement after this season a strong possibility, quarterback will be a need for the Broncos soon.
That’s why, according to Mike Klis of KUSA, it’s a virtual certainty that the Broncos will take a quarterback at some point in Rounds 2-7.
The big question is whether that quarterback will be drafted on Friday or Saturday. If the Broncos use a second-day pick on a quarterback, that’s a bad sign that they’re not sold on Brock Osweiler as Manning’s successor. The Broncos made the surprising decision to select Osweiler in the second round in 2012 despite having Manning in the fold, and so far Manning’s presence has kept Osweiler on the sideline except in garbage time. The Broncos drafting a quarterback in the second or third round would suggest that they doubt Osweiler will be the man for the job going forward.
But if the Broncos draft a quarterback on Day 3, that’s more a sign that they want depth and competition at the position. The Broncos also spent a 2013 seventh-round pick on a quarterback, Zac Dysert, and a late-round rookie would compete with Dysert for the third-string job behind Manning and Osweiler.
What we know for sure is that Manning is the starter for now, and that John Elway is getting prepared for a time in the near future when Manning is gone.
A team with a pair of first-round picks has reportedly been in contact with a club selecting in the top five in Thursday’s draft.
The Browns have communicated with Washington about the No. 5 overall pick, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported Monday. Cleveland has also reached out to other clubs with top 10 picks, Rapoport said.
The Browns select 12th and 19th in Round One, giving them the trade chips necessary to make a move up in the selection order if needed. What’s more, the Browns have shown they are willing to make a deal; they were involved in three of the five first-round trades in 2014. First, the Browns traded back from No. 4 to No. 9, gaining a 2015 first-rounder in the process. Later, they traded up to No. 8, selecting cornerback Justin Gilbert. Finally, the Browns moved up from No. 26 to No. 22 to take quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Manziel struggled as a rookie, which could make quarterback a position the Browns look to address in the draft. That would likely require a move up from their No. 12 spot.
Cleveland’s last-minute meal-related visit with Central Florida receiver Breshad Perriman was followed by another last-minute meal-related visit in the same geographic area.
Per a league source, a Browns contingent led by G.M. Ray Farmer had lunch on Monday with Georgia receiver Chris Conley.
Conley ran the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds at the Scouting Combine, the third fastest time for all receivers in Indy. His 45-inch vertical was the best ever for a wideout, and one inch short of the Combine record. He also recorded a broad jump of 11 feet, seven inches.
And then there’s this: Conley wrote and directed a 26-minute Star Wars fan film entitled Retribution, which currently has nearly 490,000 views on YouTube. (Rolling Stone has interviewed Conley about his film making debut.)
Whatever happens with Conley, he’s a fascinating prospect, and the Browns were sufficiently fascinated to spend some time with him only three days before the draft begins.
The Rams only had one pick in the first round of the 2012 draft, but they have a pair of decisions to make about 2016 options on first rounders.
They selected defensive tackle Michael Brockers and traded for safety Mark Barron last year after the Buccaneers decided to part ways with the seventh overall pick. Reports on Monday indicate that they will exercise their option on Brockers’s deal, but Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that they won’t do the same with Barron.
Neither move is much of a surprise. As illustrated by Tampa’s willingness to deal Barron for fourth- and sixth-round picks in this year’s draft, the safety hasn’t lived up to the expectations that came with his draft position. Since that draft position called for him to be paid the equivalent of the top 10 best-paid safeties in the league in 2016, the Rams will see what develops this season before deciding whether to pursue another deal with Barron.
Barron played all 16 games last year, starting seven for the Bucs before the trade and then mostly playing off the bench in St. Louis for the rest of the year. He has 248 tackles and three interceptions over his three seasons.
The explosion of media covering the NFL has led to the creation of a key rule of thumb regarding the draft: Teams that love a player will leak negative information in the hopes the player fall to them, and teams that hate a player will tout him in the hopes that someone higher on the board will take him.
Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert isn’t a fan of the practice.
“I think it’s horrible,” Colbert said during his annual pre-draft press conference, via Scott Brown of ESPN.com. “I think it’s really bad for our profession when people use whatever means they use to get information out to try to influence the draft and they talk about a kid’s test score, a kid’s injury, a kid’s character. I think that’s awful. It’s disrespectful to our profession, it’s disrespectful to the game, it’s disrespectful to the kid.”
But it’s a realistic and understandable practice in the Machiavellian world of getting the best players via a system of picking one after another from the pool of eligible former college players. The only way to stop if from happening would be to get rid of the draft and allow teams to compete for the rookies in the same way they compete for free agents.
Colbert’s sentiments are honorable, but he grossly underestimates the potential impact of the leaked information.
“[W]e really don’t pay attention to it,” Colbert said of the leaked information. “We don’t believe in mock drafts and what people are saying about other teams because so much of it is misinformation. You’d just lose your mind trying to figure out what everyone’s going to do. We’re going to be true to what we do and feel good about it and live with it.”
While he and other scouts may not listen to the noise, owners and non-scouts in positions of influence do. And in some cities owners and other non-scouts in positions of influence have great influence over the process.
If people didn’t think the process of leaking information to manipulate the draft works, they wouldn’t waste their time doing it. And regardless of whether it works, enough people think that it does to result in enough people continuing to do it.
When the Chiefs took Dontari Poe with the 11th pick of the 2012 draft, they kicked off a run that saw two more defensive linemen come off the board in the next three picks.
Now it looks like all three of those players will have their options for the 2016 season exercised. We’ve heard previous reports that the Chiefs will exercise Poe’s option, that the Rams will do the same with 14th pick Michael Brockers and now the Eagles have announced that they will do the same with 12th overall pick Fletcher Cox.
None of the moves comes as a surprise. All three have become starters and key players on their respective defensive lines with Poe and Cox ranking among the top players to come out of that draft at any position.
Cox’s name has popped up in some of the trade rumors that have surfaced around the Eagles this offseason and it’s probably best not to rule out anything given the moves Chip Kelly has already pulled off with players who arrived in Philly before he got there in 2013. It would be a blow to their defensive line, although dealing Cox should bring back a handsome return given how well he’s played in his first three seasons.
This year’s NFL draft should wrap up a little faster.
The NFL has quietly tweaked the rules to reduce the amount of time between picks, allowing only four minutes between selections in the seventh round, as well as four minutes between selections for all compensatory picks. The league informed PFT today that the speeding up of the draft was discussed at the competition committee meetings and communicated to the teams at the league meeting in March. The change was made at the league office level and did not necessitate a vote of the 32 teams.
The new rule makes a lot of sense: The seventh round is when the draft begins to feel like it has dragged on interminably, and even Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock are running out of things to say. And compensatory picks can’t be traded, so teams need less time to make those picks.
The time between picks will remain the same for other rounds: Ten minutes between picks for the first round, seven minutes for the second round and five minutes for the third through sixth rounds, other than compensatory picks.
For the NFL, the draft is the signature event of the offseason, and it has become increasingly important to the league to make it a made-for-TV extravaganza. Sometimes the late rounds of the draft go from “extravaganza” to “excruciatingly dull,” so it’s no surprise that the league has decided to speed things up.
With three days to go until the 2015 NFL draft commences, it’s probably time to end speculation about the Chargers trading Philip Rivers.
Peter King of TheMMQB.com explains that he doesn’t believe a trade will happen, calling it a “gut feeling” based on spending “lots of time calling around” the league. King nevertheless believes the Titans and Chargers will talk, but he doesn’t see a match.
King thinks the Titans would want more than Rivers in exchange for the second overall pick in the draft. And that’s likely enough to kill the deal on its own, given that the Chargers should want more than the second overall pick in the draft for a proven franchise quarterback — especially if that proven franchise quarterback will also be extending his contract as part of the trade.
So the possibility of a trade seems to be dead, assuming it was ever alive in the first place. It’s possible, if not likely, that the issue arose from the looming expiration of the quarterback’s contract. Indeed, Rivers first addressed the situation only four days after fellow 2004 first-round pick Ben Roethlisberger signed a gigantic new contract. And Rivers has never said he won’t do a new deal with the Chargers; he has said only that he’s not inclined to until after the season.
Which makes sense, since the Chargers will need him more than ever if/when (when) they head to Los Angeles. If they don’t have Rivers, they need another franchise quarterback. And the only one they have a shot at getting is Marucs Mariota via a trade with the Titans.
If a trade is going to happen, the wheels need to be put in motion quickly, given that the Titans surely will want to conduct a physical and negotiate a new contract. As to the latter, discretion will be easier to achieve because Jimmy Sexton represents Rivers, Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt, and Titans G.M. Ruston Webster.