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Raiders ready to bet on Schaub’s 2013 being an aberration

AP

When it comes to the stunning, weekly-pick-six decline of quarterback Matt Schaub last season, two explanations exist:  (1) he has lost his fastball; or (2) it was a fluke.

The Raiders are prepared to bet — possibly as much as $11 million — on the latter.

They’ve got the cap space, so they can afford to pay Schaub the full value of a contract that seemed to be destined to be scrapped.  Absent evidence that Schaub took significantly less to make the expected trade happen, it means that Schaub definitely will commence the season as the starter, and it also means that the fifth overall pick in the draft won’t be used on a quarterback.

Of course, the ultimate question for Schaub isn’t whether he’s capable of playing at the same level that took him to a pair of Pro Bowls.  It’s whether he’s better than Oakland’s other options.  Terrelle Pryor, the final draft pick made by Al Davis, appears to be on the outs.  Matt McGloin, undrafted in 2013, has a long way to go.  Mike Vick, as we understand it, has zero interest in joining the Raiders.

So the choices are to hope that Schaub can do once again what he’s previously done, or to hope that a first-round draft pick can do something he’s never done:  Thrive at the NFL level.

With coach Dennis Allen and G.M. Reggie McKenzie likely not having the luxury of finding out whether a first-round pick can blossom into a great quarterback, the smart move is to get the guy more likely to help the team make a move now in a division with three other teams that went to the playoffs last year.

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D’Onta Foreman got his wish: A job close to home

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You’ve probably seen or heard by now my belief that professional sports drafts wouldn’t be tolerated in any other American industry, where the employee picks the employer and not vice-versa. One reason I don’t like them comes from the fact that a kid who has spent his whole life in one specific city and state should be allowed to stay as close to there as possible to play professional football if he wants, without being whisked several thousand miles away to a place where he has no family, no friends, no connections.

For former Texas running back D’Onta Foreman, it worked out the way he wanted.

“I’m so close to Houston,” Foreman told reporters on Friday night. “I’m from Texas City. I’m really close to Houston and my dad has always been a Texans fan. He’s a diehard Texans fan. As the process was going on — I played for Texas City and then I went to Texas — so why not be a Texan? That was my thing, just play for the Texans from where I’m from. I really wanted to just be a Texan. I don’t know, it was just kind of something that grew on me.”

Foreman helped himself out by embracing the chance to participate in the team’s annual local prospect day, a clusterfudge of candidates with ties to the area who don’t count toward the limit of 30 visits per year — and who may work out at the team’s facility.

“My agent told me they wanted to have me for the area day,” Foreman said. “I was glad to be there. I actually had a workout the day before, but nothing was going to make me miss that. I really wanted to be there and just showcase my talent. I really wanted to be a Texan, so that’s something that I wouldn’t pass up.”

The Texans weren’t going to pass him up, either. They had him as the best available player when the time came to use pick 89.

“I do a little bit of a wish list,” G.M. Rick Smith told reporters, “guys that I would just would love to have on our football team, and he’s one of those guys that was starred, that was on that list because obviously you watch him here, it’s close and you see — I joked with him in Indy in our interview and I said, ‘Hey, that might have been the quietest 2,000 yards I’ve ever seen,’ and his response was, ‘Well, I did win the Doak Walker Award, so it wasn’t too quiet.’ He’s a good young man and we are excited to have him as a part of our organization.”

With Deshaun Watson and D’Onta Foreman joining an offense that already has DeAndre Hopkins, Lamar Miller, Will Fuller, and Braxton Miller, fans could finally be excited by the team’s ability to gain yards and score points.

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Report: Randy Gregory failed another drug test, NFL future in doubt

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Two years after the Cowboys chose Randy Gregory in the second round of the NFL draft, his career may be over because of repeated violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Gregory is currently serving a suspension of at least one year, and in order to be reinstated he will need to demonstrate that he has taken steps toward treatment for his drug problem. However, TMZ now reports that Gregory failed another drug test and then blew off the NFL officials who attempted to contact him in connection with his status in the league’s drug program.

Another failed drug test makes it a near certainty that Gregory won’t be reinstated at the end of his current year-long ban. And if he won’t participate in the league’s drug treatment program, he’ll never be reinstated.

According to TMZ, Gregory has now failed at least seven drug tests and people close to him are concerned about his well-being and don’t know if he’ll ever return to football.

Although Gregory was considered a Top 10 talent as a pass rusher, he dropped until the late second round of the draft because of concerns about off-field issues, concerns which included a positive drug test at the 2015 Scouting Combine. He was suspended twice last season, first for four games and then for 10 games, before playing in the final two games of the season only to get suspended a third time, for a full year.

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Patriots pick up option on Brandin Cooks deal

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The Patriots traded a first-round pick for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, so you knew it wasn’t going to be a one-year rental.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Patriots have in fact picked up the 2018 option on the former first-rounder’s contract.

This was as obvious as any of the option decisions around the league, and they’re all due next week.

You can keep an eye on all of them here, in one spot.

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Cowboys deny report they want to trade Orlando Scandrick

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One of the 32 owners of NFL Network is denying an NFL Network report about his team’s trade plans.

Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones said an NFL Network report that he was looking to trade cornerback Orlando Scandrick.

“Absolutely not. That’s completely erroneous,” Jones said. “Orlando is a valued member of our team.”

Even after the denial from Jones, Ian Rapoport said on NFL Network this morning that “the situation is not quite over yet.” So it bears watching, even as Jones insists there’s nothing to it.

Scandrick told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “It’s out of my control. If they don’t want me, I’m just waiting it out.”

The Cowboys made two additions at cornerback yesterday, drafting Chidobe Awuzie from Colorado in the second round and Jourdan Lewis from Michigan in the third round. But head coach Jason Garrett said that was simply a matter of upgrading at a position where you can never have too many good players, and not a commentary on the 30-year-old Scandrick, who has spent his entire career with the Cowboys.

“We felt good about coming in here and getting some depth at that position,” Garrett said. “We don’t really know where everyone is going to start out right now. We just want them to get in here and get to work.”

When the full squat gets together, Jones says those two rookies will be working with Scandrick.

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Bengals lead the way with nine picks on Day Three

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The third day of the draft is going to begin in a couple of hours, and you can pardon the Bengals if they’ve been pounding the coffee already.

After a flurry of deals, the Bengals have nine picks today in the final four rounds.

They have three fourth-rounders and two picks each in the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds.

Of course, they’ve already added plenty of talent and scrutiny, having taken the fastest player in the draft (John Ross) and the most controversial (Joe Mixon), along with a potential pass-rusher in Jordan Willis.

Whether all those picks will make a roster that isn’t that bad remains to be seen, and it gives them flexibility to make other deals.

Washington and the Vikings each have seven picks.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Saints have just one pick remaining, a sixth-rounder (196th overall). That gives them plenty of time to start thinking about their undrafted rookie class, or just sleeping in.

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Jerry Jones has learned the wisdom of doing nothing

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Cowboys owner/General Manager Jerry Jones loves making deals.

But he’s also beginning to love not making them, and realizing that sometimes doing nothing is the exact thing to do.

It isn’t difficult,” Jones said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “As a matter of fact, if you have a little gambler in you, I can draw up a scenario where it is as much gambling to sit as it is to move. You know the famous cartoon of the two buzzards sitting on a limb, and one looks at the other one and says, ‘Patience my ass, I’m going to kill something.’ Well that can get you in trouble.

“Listen, that’s not hard to do. When you’ve danced with it as much as I have and had some bruises, then you’re not just needing another thrill. You really want to be as good as you can at that minute.”

The Cowboys have held tight through two days, and checked off boxes. After taking defensive end Taco Charlton in the first round, they came back last night with cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, filling their biggest positional needs. They might not be flashy names, but they appear to be solid players who will help, and as they’ve learned, that’s often the best play.

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Hue Jackson: DeShone Kizer will have a chance to compete for starting job

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He’s the highest-drafted of the collection of Browns quarterbacks, but coach Hue Jackson isn’t going to hand new guy DeShone Kizer a starting job.

But Jackson did say that his second-round pick was going to have the opportunity to compete for the job, along with Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler.

“We’re going to give all our guys an opportunity to compete,” Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about who is the starter, who is this. Let’s let these guys get here and learn our offense and spend time with myself and [quarterback coach David] Lee and go out on the field and let’s see how it all turns out.”

Of course, it’s also impossible to know whether the Browns are finished adding quarterbacks to the room. Browns executive Sashi Brown said they “won’t rest until we solidify that position,” and now that the draft has pushed through the first two days, the sorting of some veteran options can begin soon.

But Jackson clearly likes the potential with Kizer, who has prototype size and arm strength but a spotty resume.

“I think we’re better at the position,” Jackson said. “I think we’ve made huge strides over the last several months at that position. . . .

“Obviously, he has the measurables, a big, physical quarterback who can make all the throws that anybody needs to make in the National Football League. He’s intelligent. So he has the characteristics that we’re looking for.”

Of course, the only other addition was Osweiler, and they took him on to buy a draft pick. Kizer’s chances stems largely from the lack of other viable options at the moment.

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Emotional Joe Mixon says he’ll prove himself to Bengals

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Joe Mixon wept.

The Oklahoma running back, who was chosen by the Bengals with the 48th overall pick last night, was emotional during his conference call with reporters in Cincinnati.

You know, I am still sitting here crying. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it,” he said, via Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. “You know, I am thankful and very honored to be a part of — to be a Cincinnati Bengal.”

For many, it was the perfect destination for a player who punched a woman in the face. The Bengals have a history of taking in players with off-field problems, and owner Mike Brown has admitted he may have been “overly tolerant” in the past. But Mixon was a special case, with the video of him punching a woman in the face as stark a piece of video as any of his football plays, and one which will be remembered far longer.

And he knows he can’t run from it.

“It changed me a lot as a person, the way you think, the way you carry yourself, go about things,” Mixon said. “I’m going to continue to keep doing the right thing around the community, on and off the field. And I’m going to prove to them why they kept me. Leaving from Oklahoma, I still have their name, at the end of the day. I’m going to do whatever I can to make them proud and make them happy. I’m looking forward to doing that with the Cincinnati Bengals as well.”

The Bengals brought him in for a private visit before the draft — “I was very straight up,” Mixon said — and coach Marvin Lewis said they were comfortable moving forward with him.

Mixon accepted a plea deal in the criminal case, and reached a civil settlement with the woman, who suffered four broken bones in the incident. But the incident will never be far from his name, or his from the Bengals’ as they add to a legacy of giving second chances.

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49ers underscore commitment (for now) to Brian Hoyer

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In Chicago, $15 million-per-year starter Mike Glennon instantly was undermined on Thursday night via the selection of Mitchell Trubisky. In San Francisco, $6 million-in-2017 starter Brian Hoyer had his status cemented via the team’s decision not to pick a quarterback in round one or in round two.

In round three, the 49ers took Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard. Does that mean Beathard could challenge Hoyer for the starting job?

“I don’t look at it at all like that,” coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Friday. “We’re bringing him in here to develop him, give him a chance. But, just like any other position, everyone competes. Brian’s our starting quarterback and right now, Matt Barkley’s our second and I look at [Beathard] to come in and be our third with us only having three on the roster. But, every single day of practice, whether it’s an OTA, whether it’s workouts, whatever it is, people are always competing and we’ll always play the best guy, but by no means did we come into this draft thinking, ‘Hey, we’re going to get a guy to compete with Brian.’ We’re just trying to add people to our roster to improve the overall talent of our team.”

Unless Beathard develops quickly, the decision not to use a higher pick on a quarterback this year could mean that the 49ers are indeed a year away from making a run at Kirk Cousins. But consider this: Cousins was a fourth-round pick. Beathard arrives via round three, and the 49ers felt compelled to move from 109 to 104 to get him. So the 49ers see something in this guy, and this contract will be much more affordable over the next four years that what it would cost to pay Cousins.

Beathard wasn’t highly regarded by the draft experts but he became the sixth quarterback taken, exiting the board before the likes of Nathan Peterman, Josh Dobbs, and Brad Kaaya. Shanahan presumably believes Beathard can run Shanahan’s offense the way Shanahan envisions it being run. And if Beathard can do that, maybe they won’t need Cousins or Hoyer in 2018. And maybe by 2019 Beathard will be another one of those mid-round quarterbacks who arrive in the NFL with limited fanfare but who become one of the better ones in the league.

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Ryan Pace: Report that John Fox was in the dark is “so false”

AP

On Friday afternoon, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported that Bears G.M. Ryan Pace kept coach John Fox in the dark about the plan to get quarterback Mitchell Trubisky until only a few hours before the proceedings began. On Friday night, Pace disputed that notion.

“That stuff is so false,” Pace told reporters. “There’s consistency in everything we do, so we all work arm-in-arm and that’s the way it is and that’s the way it should be.”

Pace added that Fox was “100 percent” involved in the evaluation and planning regarding Trubisky.

“John is involved in every decision deeply,” Pace said. “The respect I have for John is enormous, especially his experience and all of the players that he’s been with. I think if you look back — and we talked about this — I think a lot of it was kept secret I thought we did a good job keeping this thing pretty under wraps, it’s so sensitive. But if you go back to the private workouts that we had, I mean John and I — it’s pretty hard to hide him — but we’re traveling to Chapel Hill and having dinners and workouts with Mitch, so he’s been deeply involved from the very beginning.”

It’s one thing to be involved in every decision, and it’s another to know exactly and precisely what the final decision will be. Is it possible that Fox was involved in the process of evaluating Trubisky but didn’t personally know what Pace would be doing until close in time to the start of the draft? If Pace didn’t make the final decision until then, then yes.

And here’s the value of keeping things secret. If word had gotten out that the Bears were planning to move from No. 3 to No. 2 to get Trubisky, the Browns may have launched a late effort to squeeze Chicago into coming all the way to No. 1 to get him. Moreover, the mere fact that the General Manager of the Bears was showing so much interest in Trubisky may have caused a late shift in Cleveland, with ownership suddenly getting behind the pro-Trubisky wing that seemed to be working all the angles to make him the pick over Garrett.

If, after all, the opinion of a homeless guy was enough to sway Jimmy Haslam to go with Johnny Manziel in 2014, the views of the gainfully employed (and fully housed) Ryan Pace would likely have a much greater impact.

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All but one undrafted player left the green room after Thursday night

AP

Remember when Geno Smith didn’t get picked in the first round of the 2013 draft, declared he wasn’t returning to the green room for the second night of the proceedings, but then did? That’s a dynamic that has become glossed over now that the draft has become a road show.

A total of 21 players showed up for round one. Five went undrafted. According to a league spokesperson, only one returned on Friday: Washington cornerback Kevin King.

The other four opted not to return. Those who left were Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell, and Alabama tackle Cam Robinson.

King had a short wait on Friday. He was the first pick of the second night, to the Packers. Two of the other guys who left, Robinson and McDowell, went second and third, to the Jaguars and Seahawks, respectively. Kizer was the 20th selection in round two to the Browns, and Awuzie went 28th in round two to the Cowboys.

It’s up to the players whether to go and whether to stay. And they can leave whenever they want. Unless and until the NFL pays them a fee to show up and to stick around, it’s entirely up to them whether to continue to be, as Joe Thomas described it, unpaid actors in a soap opera.

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Martavis Bryant: JuJu Smith-Schuster replaces Sammie Coates, not me

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The decision of the Pittsburgh Steelers to use a second-round pick on USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster sparked a reaction from the Steelers receiver who was most recently reinstated to the team on a conditional basis.

Said Bryant on Twitter, via USA Today: “lol that’s Sammie coates replacement not minds take it how you want to I am back.”

Coates responded by saying, “Hahahahahaha.”

Coach Mike Tomlin jumped in, “@-ing” both of them with this message: “Play nice boys.”

Both deleted their tweets, with Bryant also dumping one in which he said, “It’s a business so I treat it like that.”

That business will be getting more intense once Bryant, Coates, and Smith-Schuster get together at practice, along with the other receivers currently on the roster: Antonio Brown, Cobi Hamilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eli Rogers, Justin Hunter, and more. The Steelers have a dozen of them and counting, so some eventually will be gone. And one or two of them may have recognizable names.

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Giants could see Davis Webb taking over for Eli Manning in 2-3 years

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Giants quarterback Eli Manning has three more years left on his contract, and the Giants can easily get out of the final year. Which is why they just drafted an heir apparent who could take over in two or three years.

Davis Webb, a quarterback from Cal, was the Giants’ pick in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft, and General Manager Jerry Reese said afterward that he sees Webb becoming a very good quarterback once he’s had some time to learn behind the 36-year-old Manning.

“We think [Webb] has a high ceiling and can come in and learn the pro game,” Reese said, adding, “Hopefully, he can sit behind Eli for two or three years.”

The Giants’ selection of Webb was a bit surprising, both that Webb lasted until the 87th overall pick and that it was the Giants who finally selected him. Most people thought Webb would go higher than that, with some projections putting Webb in the first round.

But Webb was passed over until the Giants finally decided that he was too good a value to pass up. As a rookie, Webb will likely be the third-string quarterback behind Manning and Geno Smith, but eventually he could become a starter.

“We’re hoping Eli plays a long time for us,” Reese said. “But we know he’s not going to play forever.”

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Steelers keep James Conner in Pittsburgh

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James Conner is leaving college football, but he’s not leaving the facility where he practiced or the stadium where he played.

The Steelers have made the former running back a third-round pick in the draft.

Conner’s story is well-documented; he survived cancer to return to football. Conner recently has said he was only 60 percent at the outset of the 2016 college season.

The Steelers currently have Le’Veon Bell at the top of the depth chart. He’s subject to the franchise tag, and could be gone after 2017. Conner, if he develops, could become an intriguing contributor in 2018.

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Cowboys add Jourdan Lewis, who faces a July jury trial

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The Cowboys have rolled the dice on a player who is facing domestic violence charges.

Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis has been drafted in round three, despite a July 10 trial date on misdemeanor charges. That fact that it’s a misdemeanor means he wouldn’t face significant jail time.

Lewis allegedly “dragged [the victim] across the living room floor and then grabbed her by the neck and held her down on the floor for about three seconds.” He has pleaded not guilty.

Lewis faces no discipline from the league, given that the incident happened before the draft. However, the incident would be considered as potential aggravating circumstances if Lewis has any violations of the Personal Conduct Policy while in the NFL.

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