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Lawsuit filed seeking injunction to oust Chargers from playoffs

Kansas City Chiefs v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

Bad calls happen in sports all the time.

As long as there is a human element involved with officiating the games we watch, there are going to be mistakes made that will ultimately have an impact on who wins and who loses.

However, some fans apparently can’t take the bad breaks as well as others.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Daniel L. Spuck of Mercer, Pa. has filed a motion seeking “a temporary emergency injunction” against the NFL in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The motion claims that the San Diego Chargers should not be in the playoffs because of the missed illegal formation call by Bill Leavy’s crew in the Chargers’ season-ending victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chargers had too many players on one side of the center and should have been flagged on the play. Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop missed a would-be game-winning field goal and the Chargers managed to earn the victory in overtime and a postseason berth. The Chiefs should have been allowed another attempt at the field goal after the would-be penalty.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were left as the odd team out. After losses by the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens, a loss from San Diego would have put the Steelers in the postseason.

Spuck – presumably an aggrieved Steelers fan – filed the lawsuit via inmate mail from the Pennsylvania corrections department.

In the lawsuit that was filed prior to the start of the postseason, Spuck suggested the league could suspend the playoffs to allow Succop to re-kick the field goal or forced the Chargers and Steelers to play on a neutral field to determine who made the playoffs as the final team in the AFC.

The lawsuit is completely asinine. The Steelers have been the beneficiary of bad calls in the past. Leavy was the head referee for Super Bowl XL, which the Steelers won 21-10 over the Seattle Seahawks. Leavy admitted he “kicked two calls in the fourth quarter” of that game that helped the Steelers emerge victorious.

The Chargers have also been on the wrong end of officiating errors in the past as well In 2008, Ed Hochuli ruled a Jay Cutler fumble an incomplete pass. The Chargers had recovered the loose ball but the call allowed the Denver Broncos to keep possession and earn a win over the Chargers.

Bottom line is every team finds themselves on the wrong end of a questionable call at some time or another. Spuck is going to have to live with this call going against the Steelers.

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Report: Brady was at stadium on day of White House visit

Obama AP

The news that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn’t attend last week’s visit by the defending Super Bowl champions to the White House initially didn’t register on the national radar scale.  Brady reportedly had a prior family commitment, and no one seriously questioned that.

But now comes word, from Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, that Brady spent part of last Thursday at Gillette Stadium, while his teammates were in D.C.  Although it’s possible that Brady’s family commitment kept him from traveling to Washington but not from making an appearance at work, this specific wrinkle makes the situation a bit more interesting.

The specific chain of events, with Brady not going to the White House and word now leaking that he was at least able to go to NFL’s reigning equivalent, invites speculation regarding whether Brady simply chose not to show up.  Which invites speculation that Brady chose not to show up because of a comment from White House press secretary Josh Earnest after Brady’s earnest-but-ineffective press conference in the immediate wake of the emergence of the #DeflateGate scandal.

“For years it’s been clear that there is no risk that I was going to take Tom Brady’s job as quarterback of the New England Patriots,” Earnest said after Brady’s widely-panned performance.  “But I can tell you, as of today, it’s pretty clear that there’s no risk of him taking my job either.”

The Boston Herald previously suggested that the jab may have influenced Brady’s decision not to attend the event.  This new information from Reiss, which surely didn’t come to him accidentally after last Thursday’s joke from President Barack Obama regarding the football-inflation imbroglio, supports the conclusion that Brady was demonstrating his displeasure.

The crack from the Commander-in-Chief drew a thumb’s down from coach Bill Belichick.  In turn, it may have prompted Brady to give himself a thumb’s up for choosing not to be there to hear it personally.

We also aren’t prepared to rule out that, in the photo of Obama holding a helmet autographed by the team, he’s not thinking to himself, “Is that ‘thank you’ under Tom Brady’s signature?”

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Ravens cancel draft party amid riots in Baltimore

riot AP

The Ravens have announced that they are canceling their Thursday night draft party as a result of the riots that have engulfed Baltimore.

Authorities have imposed a citywide curfew of 10 p.m. every night this week, and the Ravens have announced that they will call off their party to ensure that no one attending is in violation.

“Out of respect to the curfew in Baltimore, the Ravens have cancelled their Draft Party, which was scheduled for this Thursday (4/30) night (7-11 p.m.) at M&T Bank Stadium,” the team said in a statement.

The Baltimore Orioles also canceled their Monday and Tuesday night home games at the request of local authorities.

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Report: Bengals exercise 2016 options on Dre Kirkpatrick, Kevin Zeitler contracts

Denver Broncos v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Bengals had a pair of first-round picks in 2012 and they apparently like the players they selected enough to make a move to ensure they’ll return to Cincinnati for a fifth season.

Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that the team has exercised their options on the contracts of cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and guard Kevin Zeitler for the 2016 season. Both options are guaranteed against injury only and the Bengals could opt to withdraw the options before the start of the new league year.

Kirkpatrick, the 17th pick in the draft, struggled with injuries as a rookie and has played mostly in sub packages in Cincinnati’s deep secondary the last two years. Terence Newman is gone this year, though, and Kirkpatrick has designs on bigger things after six interceptions over the last two seasons.

“I want to be the best. I don’t want to just be a starting corner. I want to be the best. I want to be the No. 1 corner in the league and that’s what I thrive,” Kirkpatrick said, via the team’s website.

Zeitler, who went 27th overall, has been a starter since arriving in Cincinnati and his salary will be just over $8 million under the terms of the option. Kirkpatrick will come in around $7.5 million and the team is reportedly interested in longer deals with both players.

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PFT Live: A.J. Hawk, Bengals talk with Paul Dehner Jr.

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Tuesday’s PFT Live should come with a striped helmet because we’re going to be spending a good chunk of time talking about the Bengals.

Linebacker A.J. Hawk will join Mike Florio to share his early thoughts on working with a new team for the first time since the Packers made him the fifth overall pick of the 2006 draft. Hawk signed with the Bengals this offseason and he’ll be getting a few new teammates later this week when the Bengals make their draft selections.

Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer will join Florio to discuss some of the places the Bengals might be looking to enhance their roster with those selections. They’ll also talk about coach Marvin Lewis’s contract extension and more during Dehner’s visit.

We also want to hear from PFT Planet. Email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour of the show by clicking right here.

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Cordarrelle Patterson: This is a make or break year for me

Jarius Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson AP

Last week, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said that he was excited about the future with wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and that he thought Patterson had grown up a lot this offseason.

On Monday, Patterson said he knew that there probably won’t be any more offseasons when the Vikings talk hopefully about his ability to break through and turn his athletic ability into consistent on-field production. Patterson, who worked out in San Francisco before reporting to the Vikings’ offseason program, said Monday that his third year has to be a big year.

“This year is going to make me or break me, and I hope I step up and have a good role in this offense,” Patterson said, via the Pioneer Press. “This whole offseason, I spent a lot of time just thinking to myself, ‘How can I get better?’ I just want to let my game speak for itself. I just focused on the little things that really matter, and I hope this year will be way better than last year. … Growing up, I was always athletic and could just do anything. I’m in the NFL now, so I just have to focus on my craft and just work at route running, getting in and getting out of breaks and stuff like that.”

With Mike Wallace and Charles Johnon on the roster, the Vikings won’t be looking to Patterson as a starter this season. They won’t be looking to him for much of anything else if the route running and overall technical skills don’t get crisper and they could provide themselves with other options to play behind the starters during a draft deep in wideouts.

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Broncos waive Quanterus Smith

Frank Gore, Quanterus Smith AP

The Broncos kick off a three-day voluntary minicamp on Tuesday and they will reportedly be getting to work without defensive end Quanterus Smith.

It’s not because Smith is opting to work out on his own, as is often the case when players choose not to take part in voluntary work with their teams. Troy Renck of the Denver Post reported that the team waived Smith, who was a fifth-round pick in 2013, on Tuesday and the Broncos announced it a short time later.

Smith played in 15 games as a backup to DeMarcus Ware last season, recording 11 tackles and two passes defensed before winding up on injured reserve with a knee injury that kept him from playing in Denver’s playoff loss to the Colts. He also spent 2013 on injured reserve while recovering from an ACL injury suffered during his final collegiate season.

The shift in defenses that accompanied Wade Phillips’s arrival as defensive coordinator may have left Smith without a good fit on the Denver defense in 2015, but it’s never a great sign for your immediate NFL future when a team decides to move on at a moment when they have 90 roster spots to fill.

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Report: Teams calling the Jets about Muhammad Wilkerson

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

It’s almost time to start throwing cannonballs into the deep end of the draft pool.

And the Jets might be going for the Triple Lindy right off the bat.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, at least two teams have called the Jets to see if defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was available.

While that’s not nearly the same as the Jets making their star lineman available, it is worth noting a few things here.

First, Wilkerson is staying away from offseason workouts because he wants a new contract.

Secondly, the Jets brought Southern Cal defensive lineman Leonard Williams for a pre-draft visit, and that would be a rich set of 3-4 ends if they added him to Sheldon Richardson and they were thinking about keeping Wilkerson around.

It’s the time in the week where we get a bit of noise that never comes to anything, but given Wilkerson’s contract situation, it’s hard to rule this one out at the moment, depending on how the top five picks fall.

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Speculation starts that Jaguars could be taking Amari Cooper

Cooper AP

Last year, PFT first caught wind of the Jaguars as a potential suitor at No. 3 for quarterback Blake Bortles only a couple of days before the draft.  This year, it’s two days before the draft — and PFT has caught wind of another potential surprise for the Jaguars at No. 3.

At a time when many believe the Jaguars will take linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. with the third pick, chatter has commenced that the Jags instead will select Alabama receiver Amari Cooper.

Cooper has emerged as the top prospect, separating more and more from West Virginia’s Kevin White as the draft approaches.  Which makes sense; Cooper is more NFL ready than White, which means that, as coaches get more involved in the process, teams will be more likely to gravitate toward the guy who will be more likely to help the team win now.

There’s still a chance that Cooper won’t be available at No. 3; Tennessee may go wideout at No. 2 if they don’t take quarterback Marcus Mariota and if they don’t trade down.  But if Cooper and Fowler are both on the board when the Jaguars are on the clock, Cooper could indeed be the pick.

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Cowboys extend punter Chris Jones another two years

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Getty Images

The Cowboys had already secured punter Chris Jones for the coming season, signing the restricted free agent to his tender offer.

Now, they’ve given him another two years, and a little extra cap space.

Via Field Yates of ESPN, the Cowboys have extended their punter through 2017, signing him to a deal worth $4.2 million, with $750,000 guaranteed the next three years.

Jones has been a perfectly fine punter for the Cowboys the last two seasons, and extending the deal puts some money in his pocket now, and allows the Cowboys to lower his cap hit from the $1.542 million he’d have counted on his RFA tender alone.

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Rookies at draft will undergo domestic violence education

NFL Getty Images

For the 28 players who opted to accept the invitation to attend the draft in Chicago, they won’t have an option when it comes to submitting to an domestic violence education session.  According to Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today, the NFL will provide the mandatory training to all of the incoming rookies who show up for the draft.  It’s the same 45-minute video presentation that all NFL employees were required to watch last year.

“I think there are expectations for being part of the National Football League.  And I think just like the prospects that come to the draft — they do community service and have media interaction — this was another situation that we thought was important enough to make a requirement,” NFL vice president of social responsibility Anna Isaacson told Jones.

Players not attending the draft will receive the training at the rookie symposium.  Which raises an obvious question:  Why not provide the training to all draft picks at the rookie symposium?  Only 28 are at the draft; more than 250 will be present for the symposium.

The answer is obvious.  Providing the training to the players at the draft creates an opportunity for a little more positive P.R. as the league tries to continue its recovery from last year’s debacle that forced positive changes like, for example, the creation of a 45-minute presentation to be shown to all incoming rookies, starting with the guys who chose to attend the draft.

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As Shane Ray’s stock plummets, talk that he could fall to Round 4

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl - Minnesota v Missouri Getty Images

Just a few weeks ago, stories about Missouri pass rusher Shane Ray routinely called him a potential Top 5 pick. That now feels like a long time ago.

Ray’s draft stock began to fall when teams showed increasing concern about a foot injury he suffered in the final game of his college career, and now his stock has plummeted so severely that there’s talk that Ray not only won’t go in the first round, but might not even go in the second or third rounds. According to former Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik, Ray’s recent marijuana citation makes it possible that Ray won’t be drafted until the fourth round.

“This changes Shane Ray dramatically because it’s, to me, such a poor decision this close to the draft. It’s the decision making. What is this guy going to do on Friday or Saturday night before a big game? Is he going to make another poor choice like this? The timing is so bad, and the foot issue, tells me that this guy isn’t just dropping out of the first round, he’s dropping to the third or fourth round now,” Dominik said on Mike & Mike. “I know he’s dropping out of the first round. I don’t see any way he’s going in the first round.”

Ray has likely lost many millions of dollars in the last few weeks.

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Mariota gets a deal with Beats

Mariota Getty Images

Marcus Mariota may not have a lot to say, but he has something to listen with.  And he’ll get paid to do it.

Mariota has become the latest NFL endorser of the Beats by Dre headphones.  The company officially welcomed Mariota to the family via Twitter on Monday.

The league probably isn’t thrilled with the arrangement, given that the NFL receives millions per year from Bose — and has fined players for wearing Beats products when they’re otherwise carrying the NFL’s flag.

It’s unknown how much Mariota will receive and unclear whether other incoming players will be getting a similar deal.  Mariota adds Beats to a list of endorsers that includes Nike and Subway.

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Roger Goodell expects Ted Wells’s Deflategate report soon

AFC Championship - Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Getty Images

It has been more than a month since Roger Goodell said that Ted Wells’s investigation into allegations that the Patriots used underinflated footballs while throttling the Colts in the AFC Championship game was nearing its end.

The time that’s passed since he last publicly commented on the end date of the investigation hasn’t done anything to shake Goodell’s belief that answers are around the corner. During an appearance with Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, Goodell said that he thinks the results of the investigation will be released soon.

“What we’re trying to do is just make sure we’re thorough,” Goodell said. “The most important thing here is: Was there a violation of the rules? And if so, how did that occur? We have a responsibility to the 32 teams — not just to one team, to 32 teams — and our fans, and the general public here to make sure that things were done fairly. I think it’s hard because you want to make sure you have all the information. One of the things that he would be asked to look for: Was it just one game?”

Goodell wouldn’t say whether there was suspicion that the Patriots were using deflated balls in multiple games and there wasn’t comment on other issues that have been raised during the extended wait for Wells’s report, including questions about who from the league leaked information that incriminated the Patriots in the days after the issue first came to light. Should those answers take much longer to surface, Goodell might want to refrain from further predictions about how close Wells is to going public with his findings.

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Draft trades still follow the chart

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The old draft trade chart popularized by Jimmy Johnson’s Dallas Cowboys has been around so long that it feels like it must have grown obsolete. Surprisingly, it hasn’t.

A look at the trades from last year’s draft shows that teams still more or less follow the chart to determine what constitutes a fair trade. The trade chart assigns point values for every pick, and gives teams a general idea about whether they’re getting a good deal if they make a particular trade. For instance, the 16th pick is worth 1,000 points, the 26th pick is worth 700 points and the 60th pick is worth 300 points. So if a trade swapped No. 16 for No. 26 and No. 60, that would be a fair deal for both sides. If you believe the chart.

And teams do believe the chart. On the first day of the 2014 NFL draft, there were four trades involving only 2014 picks, and all four of them more or less followed the chart:

Minnesota sent No. 8 (1,400 points) to Cleveland for No. 9 (1,350 points) and No. 145 (33.5 points).

Arizona sent No. 20 (850 points) to New Orleans for No. 27 (680 points) and No. 91 (136 points).

Philadelphia sent No. 22 (780 points) to Cleveland for No. 26 (700 points) and No. 83 (175 points).

Seattle sent No. 32 (590 points) to Minnesota for No. 40 (500 points) and No. 108 (78 points).

Draft trades rarely result in exactly equal swaps of points because two teams looking to trade rarely have the picks that would add up to an exactly equal trade. But they’re usually pretty close.

What does that mean for this year? Here’s about what it would take for a few different teams to trade up to the No. 2 pick (2,600 points) and get Marcus Mariota:

The Browns have the ammunition if they want to do it. Cleveland could package No. 12 (1,200 points), No. 19 (875 points), No. 43 (470 points) and No. 77 (205 points) for a total of 2,750 points. That’s a deal the Titans would have a very hard time turning down.

The Jets would have to trade their entire draft and it still wouldn’t add up: The Jets’ picks are No. 6 (1,600 points), No. 37 (530 points), No. 70 (240 points) No. 104 (86 points) No. 223 (2.3 points) and No. 224 (2 points). That adds up to 2,460 points, which isn’t enough for the No. 2 pick to be a fair trade for the Titans. The Jets would have to trade not just this year’s first-round pick but also next year’s first-round pick for the Titans to bite.

The Eagles can’t even come close. Philadelphia’s entire draft adds up to about 1,544 points: The Eagles own No. 20 (850 points), No. 52 (380 points), No. 84 (170 points), No. 113 (68 points), No. 145 (33.5 points), No. 156 (29 points) and No. 196 (13 points) and No. 237 (a fraction of a point). If the Eagles are moving up to get Mariota, they’ll have to give up players or future draft picks, because this year’s picks won’t cut it.

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Joseph Randle’s domestic violence investigation nearing end

Joseph Randle AP

The Cowboys were willing to put themselves out there this offseason, offering a chance to free agent defensive end Greg Hardy despite the domestic violence incident which led to a 10-game suspension.

They might get another chance, with a player not nearly as prone to get extra opportunities because he’s less talented.

According to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Wichita police spokesman James Espinoza said the police investigation into a domestic violence incident involving Cowboys running back Joseph Randle is wrapping up this week, at which point local prosecutors will decide whether to pursue charges.

Randle was involved in an incident in February in Wichita, in which he was accused of brandishing a gun and threatening the mother of his child.

If he’s charged, he’s more likely to be suspended, though the league has made a point with the Hardy suspension that they were not going to be bound by the criminal justice system. Under the new personal conduct policy, first-offenders of domestic abuse could face a six-game ban, though the Hardy punishment shows Roger Goodell still considers himself having significant latitude.

The league has also beefed up its investigative efforts and is conducting its own review of these situations, lest another video of a guy punching his wife in the face ends up on TMZ.

Of course, Randle has been in trouble before, busted last October for stealing underwear and cologne, an incident he called “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life.”

The Cowboys fined him for that one, but the next one will be out of their hands.

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