Mike Florio and Tom Curan take a look at the New England Patriots and speak about how they will fare now that Rob Gronkowski is out for the rest of the playoffs. Curan also discusses whether or not Gronkowski was healthy enough to play against the Texans in the first place. Will Wes Welker be on the Patriots next season? What will another Super Bowl loss do to Tom Brady’s legacy?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Can Patriots survive without Gronkowski?
The Buccaneers added cornerback Vernon Hargreaves to the roster in the first round of the draft on Thursday night and they have seven more picks before things wrap up on Saturday with a class of undrafted free agents to follow, which made Friday a day to clear out some roster space for the new arrivals.
The team announced that they have waived eight players who failed to convince the team they were worth keeping around during this week’s three-day minicamp. Wide receiver Andre Davis, linebacker Darius Eubanks, guard Antoine Everett, safety Gerod Holliman, defensive tackle Derrick Lott, safety Kimario McFadden, linebacker Jermauria Rasco and cornerback C.J. Roberts were the unlucky octet sent packing.
McFadden played three games for the Bucs last season and made two tackles. Eubanks spent a week on the active roster, but saw his only NFL regular season action in nine games with the Browns during the 2013 season. Davis, Everett, Holliman, Lott and Roberts all spent time on the practice squad last year.
The Bucs are next on the clock with the eighth pick of the second round.
The NFL Players Association initially had nothing to say regarding Commissioner Roger Goodall’s claim that the union simply wants no discipline of any players under any circumstances. The NFLPA has now chimed in.
Executive director DeMaurice Smith said this on Twitter earlier in the afternoon: “SMH. Welcome to my world. Maybe now the public understands why players and I insist on having certain owners in the room to get things done.”
While Smith doesn’t specifically link his comments to Goodell’s observations about the disciplinary process, it’s very safe to assume that Goodell’s remarks sparked the reaction. Smith is basically saying that there’s a certain degree of obtuseness (possibly deliberate) that makes it impossible for the parties to communicate at a productive level.
Really, if Goodell genuinely believes that the NFLPA’s goal isn’t to ensure fair disciplinary procedures but to obtain complete retroactive and prospective exoneration for any and all player misconduct, it’s amazing the two sides ever get anything done. And if the relationship between league and union continues to gradually fritter and fray over the next five years, it will be amazing if there isn’t a work stoppage when the current CBA expires.
Last time, the players had in place a viable long-term legal strategy for swinging the balance of power in their favor, but they lacked the collective will to miss game checks in order to get what they wanted. Next time, maybe they’ll be at the point where they’ve had enough and are willing to spend part or all of a season not absorbing various forms and fashions of physical punishment on a playing field that, from a business standpoint, still isn’t nearly as level as it should be.
Dolphins offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil was the story of the first round of the NFL draft, as he dropped to the 13th overall pick while someone hacked his social media accounts and posted embarrassing videos and text messages. Tunsil then raised more eyebrows when speaking to the media after he was drafted by seeming to acknowledge he had broken NCAA rules while at Ole Miss.
So everyone was interested in hearing what Tunsil would say today at his first media appearance in Miami. Unfortunately, that appearance didn’t take place. Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum said Tunsil was dealing with an allergic reaction.
“Unfortunately, Laremy had an allergic reaction this afternoon, so right now he’s with our medical staff and hopefully it’s just a quick, short-term thing,” Tannenbaum said at the Dolphins’ press conference, adding that it wasn’t clear what caused the allergic reaction.
Character questions swirled around Tunsil even before the video of him wearing a gas mask and smoking a bong surfaced, but Tannenbaum said the Dolphins feel good about Tunsil.
“Our area scout felt good about his character. Obviously there are some mistakes he made in his past, but we were comfortable with that. All the research we had done, we were very comfortable with his character. The decision was made by the entire organization, including Steve Ross our owner, and we are very comfortable with Laremy the player and the person,” Tannenbaum said.
Eventually, Dolphins fans may feel great about Tunsil. But for now, they’re not getting to hear from him.
The ultimate reality show’s ultimate offseason reality show will be a bit less real tonight, to the likely dismay of a Commissioner who likes how the implosion of a young man’s business interests is good for the league’s.
Adam Schefter of ESPN, one of the two networks that benefits directly from draft picks giving up one more night of unpaid services through their attendance at the draft, reports that former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack won’t return to the draft on Friday after plummeting through round one on Thursday.
Three years ago, former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smih initially wasn’t planning to return for round two after not being taken in round one. Some (including me) criticized Smith for the tentative decision, which later was rescinded.
In hindsight, it was wrong of me to criticize Smith for refusing to continue to be an unpaid prop under Big Shield’s big top. I won’t criticize Jack for stiff arming the process, and no one else should, either.
There’s a line between showing up without compensation for a positive, uplifting moment and serving as a pawn in a chess game where the player already has been pinned into checkmate. ESPN and NFL Network will focus Friday night’s coverage on Jack’s ongoing free fall, to the delight of the league. Why should Jack provide the real-time reaction shots?
To his credit, Jack carried himself well last night under significant adversity, showing no reaction as one pick after another went to a player other than him. That fact that Jack showed up at all shows that someone failed to manage his expectations properly, so he’s now doing the smart thing by staying away.
Schefter also reports that Jack has been told by Dr. James Andrews that the player doesn’t need microfracture surgery on his injured knee. Although that too-little-too-late disclosure doesn’t change the fact that Jack said that he possibly may need it in the future (and since Schefter’s report focuses only on the present, there’s a chance Dr. Andrews agrees), it’s good that someone is finally trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
Still, the league’s TV show benefitted from the fact that the toothpaste was sprayed all over the place last night, and it’s to the league’s detriment that Jack won’t be there as the last few globs get squeezed out of it.
It’s not known whether the five other players who accepted invitations to the draft will be back for Friday night. Each should strongly consider staying away; after all, last night was about celebrating their future and tonight will be about rubbernecking at the wreckage.
Given Leary’s experience as a starter in Dallas before La’El Collins moved past him on the depth chart, it seemed like a realistic possibility that a team or teams would be in contact with the Cowboys. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said that was the case on Thursday night.
“We’ve had calls on him, yeah,” Jones said, via the team’s website. “If we needed to do something today, we could have.”
Jones said that Leary would “obviously” like to go somewhere that offers him a chance at a starting job, something that doesn’t exist in Dallas with Collins and Zach Martin locked into the first team, and that the Cowboys are open to making a move “if we got what we thought was fair” in return.
Rams G.M. Les Snead told Shelley Smith of ESPN that “at least five” teams have reached out to inquire about acquiring Foles in a trade.
It’s hard to imagine those teams are offering much more than a seventh-round draft pick for Foles, but the Rams might be able to get something for Foles before draft weekend comes to an end. That would leave them with Case Keenum as the veteran competition for Goff.
Goff is expected to win the starting job, but Keenum told Snead he’s going to work hard to make the coaches at least consider keeping Keenum as the starter, which he was proclaimed to be before the Rams moved up for Goff.
“I’m going to make it a difficult decision for you,” Keenum said, according to Snead.
Foles won’t get that opportunity in Los Angeles, and will likely go elsewhere as a backup.
Some might wonder if that position will shift now that the team has drafted Ronnie Stanley with the sixth overall pick of the draft. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the team is not expected to release Monroe, who is still recovering after ending the year on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
On Thursday night, coach John Harbaugh was asked if Stanley could start his career at guard and said that the makeup of the line “will pan out the way it pans out” through competition.
“There’s a good chance we could do it that way or another way,” Harbaugh said. “It’s kind of too early to say. We’re always going to try to put the best five linemen on the field. There’s no question about it, he’s got a chance to be in our starting lineup.”
There’s a lot of time for things to work out differently. Monroe has missed 16 games over the last two seasons, which may make him a riskier piece of the lineup than the Ravens would like if Stanley shows he’s up to starting at left tackle right away.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will not tolerate his employees publicly revealing the already publicly revealed names on his secret card, and possibly spoiling his super-important television show.
But if you want to be humiliated and possibly extorted, accused of something illegal which subjects you to possible future sanctions, and lose millions of dollars in the process, then just know that he is totally OK with that because it works out better for him that way.
The world’s highest-paid piñata — who exists to shield his bosses from bad and uncomfortable news in exchange for north of $30 million a year — said during an interview with an outlet which helps pay that freight that Tunsil’s slide last night made for good television.
“I think it’s all part of what makes the draft so exciting,” Goodell said during an interview with ESPN’s Mike & Mike when asked about Tunsil’s fall. “Clubs make decisions. Sometimes they take risks. Sometimes they do the right things. Sometimes they don’t, and we’ll see.
“Hopefully he is going to turn out to be a great young player.”
Gosh, thanks Roger, I’m sure Tunsil is relieved that you have such high hopes for him, after he was opened up to ridicule and persecution if not prosecution last night.
In case you missed it, about 15 minutes before the draft started, a video of Tunsil smoking out of a gas mask bong was put on his Twitter account by someone presumably not him. Then came Instagram messages from his account which suggest he was getting paid under the table at Ole Miss. Maybe it came from his stepfather who’s suing him for assault and maybe it didn’t, but either way, the kid was hauled out there for public shaming while his draft stock plummeted on live television.
The 13th pick will eventually sign a deal worth around $12.5 million. The third pick will make about $25.9 million. Even if you assume Tunsil might have gone sixth to the Ravens (who took the safer Ronnie Stanley instead), he lost at least $8 million in hypothetical dollars last night.
But let’s focus on what’s important here. The drama was gripping, and the ratings were probably through the roof.
Now go out there and give it your best Laremy, knowing the Commissioner has your best interests at heart. But make sure you put this officially licensed hat on first, so fans will know which one they’re supposed to buy.
A second-round mock draft. Because everybody has one.
The draft resumes Friday at 7 p.m. ET. The Browns currently hold the first pick of the second round, at No. 32 overall, but we project a trade. We project a few trades, actually.
These are just projections, and they’re open to scorn, questions and possibly even praise. Stranger things have happened, right? Here goes…
32. Jaguars* (projected trade): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
33. Titans: Andrew Billings, NT, Baylor
34. Cowboys: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
35. Chargers: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
36. Bills* (projected trade): Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
37. Chiefs: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
38. Browns* (projected trade): Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
39. Buccaneers: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
40. Giants: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
41: Bears: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
42. Dolphins: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
43. Titans: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
44. Raiders: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
45. Titans: Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
46. Lions: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
47. Saints: Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida
48. Colts: Kamalei Correa, OLB/DE, Boise State
49. Ravens* (projected trade): Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky
50. Falcons: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
51. Jets: Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech
52. Texans: Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State
53. Redskins: Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
54: Vikings: Nick Martin, OL, Notre Dame
55: Bengals: Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt
56. Seahawks: Su’a Cravens, LB, USC
57. Cowboys* (projected trade): Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
58. Steelers: Darian Thompson, S, Boise State
59. Chiefs: Caleb Benenoch, OL, UCLA
60. Patriots: Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State
61. Patriots: Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech
62. Panthers: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
63. Broncos: Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri
The Texans surely are happy with receiver Will Fuller; they specifically traded up a spot to get him. But the Texans had another guy they really wanted.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Texans badly wanted former West Virginia safety Karl Joseph.
The Texans never got a chance to get him, because the Raiders surprisingly made Joseph the 14th overall selection — despite a torn ACL he suffered last year at practice. Joseph’s stock had been murky until recently, when it became clear that he was destined to be taken in round one.
The PFT simulated draft had Joseph going to the Steelers at No. 25. Unless they were ready to trade up, they never would have had a chance at him.
No one, in the end, had a chance to get him because the Raiders pounced when they had the chance to do so. If Joseph turns out as well as the team’s recent high-round picks have developed, the Raiders could soon be competing not just for a spot in the playoffs but for a spot in the Super Bowl.
The man who once said he wasn’t going to be the Alabama coach perhaps wished for a little while last night that he wasn’t the Alabama coach.
Nick Saban, who attended the draft at the invitation of the league, waited multiple hours as only one of his former players was picked. As one source who was present in the green room told PFT, Saban looked “unhappy” with the situation.
In his defense, Saban pretty much always looks “unhappy,” with his excellence coming in large part from the extent to which so he’s driven to achieve it that he rarely (if ever) enjoys it. (There’s a compliment in there somewhere.)
Excellence wasn’t achieved on Thursday night, with as many as five Alabama players expected to go in round one but ultimately only one making the cut. The one who was picked, center Ryan Kelly, didn’t attend the draft. Three players (linebacker Reggie Ragland, defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson, and defensive lineman Jarran Reed) sat through all 31 picks.
While it means nothing to Alabama’s on-field performance, it’s easier to recruit when the pipeline to the NFL is clear and full. This year, it’s not — and Saban got the privilege of witnessing it last night.
It’s unknown whether the Browns will use or trade the No. 32 pick in the draft. But it is known that they are at least discussing the possibility.
Per a league source, the Browns are and have been fielding calls regarding a possible trade that would result in yet another trade down — and yet more extra draft picks for a team that is stockpiling building materials for its rebuilding effort.
That’s the benefit of having the first pick in round two. The Browns have all day to explore possible trade offers, and ultimately either to pull the trigger or not pull the trigger on a deal that would knock them down a few spots, or more.
At some point, the Browns have to use their draft picks in order to get players who will help the team win games. For now, though, they may keep amassing more lottery tickets to be scratched off at a later date, or to be swapped for more lottery tickets.
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.