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Post-free agency mock draft

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Before free agency, we posted a mock draft.  Because when in Rome.

Now that free agency is nearly four weeks old, which has resulted in needs being filled and new needs being created, we’ve put together a new mock draft.

Because when in Rome.

So here’s how we see things, 31 days before it’ll be time to say, “When in New York City.”

1. Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina.

Yeah, Bortles.  Yeah, Manziel.  But the Texans lucked into J.J. Watt when a pair of teams from their own division took Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert three years ago.  That lesson should not be lost on the Texans.  Especially with Jacksonville on the clock two picks later.

2. Rams: Sammy Watkins, receiver, Clemson.

If they’re going to stick with Sam Bradford at quarterback, they need to give him another weapon.  The fact that they seem to be downplaying it serves only to make it more likely.

3. Jaguars:  Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M.

The flirtation with center Alex Mack suggests that the Jags are willing to take chances.  Manziel fits with Jedd Fisch’s creative offensive approach and, more importantly, Manziel will make the Jaguars into a marquee team.  If he’s successful.  If he’s not, they’ll get another crack at another quarterback soon enough.

4. Browns:  Derek Carr, quarterback, Fresno State.

Should Carr go that high?  No.  Should the Browns screw around if they think they’ve found the guy who can run Kyle Shanahan’s offense the way Shanahan wants?  Hell no.

5. Raiders: Greg Robinson, tackle, Auburn.

Yes, they signed Donald Penn to presumably play left tackle.  But they’ll find a spot for both guys as they try to open running lanes and keep Matt Schaub in one piece.

6. Falcons: Khalil Mack, linebacker, Buffalo.

The pass rush remains an area of need after free agency.  It would be a surprise if the Falcons use the No. 6 pick on any other position.

7. Buccaneers: Mike Evans, receiver Texas A&M.

Dumping Mike Williams makes receiver an obvious need.  Maybe too obvious; they could get leapfrogged for Evans.

8. Vikings: Blake Bortles, quarterback, Central Florida.

With Matt Cassel in place for two years, Bortles gets eased in to the job, possibly becoming offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s next star pupil.

9. Bills: Jake Matthews, tackle, Texas A&M.

Regarded a year ago to be better than Luke Joeckel, he’ll help beef up an offensive line that has underperformed in recent years.

10. Lions: Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Pitt.

Receiver becomes less of a need with Golden Tate in the fold.  With the Lions not exercising the fifth-year option on Nick Fairley as a motivational tool and with Ndamukong Suh still carrying a $22 million-plus cap number, they need a fresh face at the position.

11. Titans: Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville.

The Titans have done a good job of keeping their cards close to the vest regarding the need for a quarterback.  As May approaches, it’s becoming more obvious that they need to take a chance on someone, three years after they took a chance on Jake Locker.

12. Giants: Timmy Jernigan, defensive tackle, Florida State.

Given the departures of Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph, the Giants need to restore some bite to a defensive line that didn’t necessarily carry them to a pair of Super Bowl appearances, but helped deliver victory once they got there.

13. Rams: Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, safety, Alabama.

Keeping Rodger Saffold allows the Rams to address the last line of defense.

14. Bears: Bears:  C.J. Mosley, linebacker, Alabama.

Veteran D.J. Williams got the first chance to assume the middle linebacker mantle in Chicago.  The Bears should now turn to a rookie.

15. Steelers: Marqise Lee, receiver, USC.

With Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jerricho Cotchery all gone, the Steelers provide Antonio Brown a young partner and Big Ben another target.

16. Cowboys: Dee Ford, defensive end, Auburn.

With Anthony Spencer likely gone and DeMarcus Ware definitely gone, it’s time to stock up on pass rushers.

17. Ravens: Taylor Lewan, tackle, Michigan.

Eugene Monroe stayed, Michael Oher didn’t. They need a right tackle, and Lewan could be the guy to take over there.

18. Jets: Eric Ebron, tight end, North Carolina.

And here’s why the Jets ultimately didn’t pursue DeSean Jackson.  Ebron could become a game-changer in the slot — and he has the charisma to take over the nation’s top media market.

19. Dolphins: Xavier Su’a-Filo, guard, UCLA.

Or they could re-sign Richie Incognito.

20. Cardinals: Anthony Barr, linebacker, UCLA.

If the Cards are going to keep up with the 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams, the Cards need pass rushers.

21. Packers: Jason Verrett, cornerback, TCU.

The cornerback slide stops in Green Bay, where the defense needs plenty of impact players.

22. Eagles: Justin Gilbert, cornerback, Oklahoma State.

And it’s suddenly a run on corners, with the Eagles beefing up a potential weak spot.

23. Chiefs: Bradley Roby, cornerback, Ohio State.

Let’s make it three corners in a row, with Roby joining a team that has to deal with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.

24. Bengals: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State.

Shazier ran a blazing 4.36-second 40-yard dash with a bad hamstring. Adding him would require some shuffling of the linebackers, since Shazier is suited to the weak side. Given his talents and Vontaze Burfict’s versatility, that’s a good problem to have.

25. Chargers: Brandin Cooks, receiver, Oregon State.

He says he’s better than DeSean Jackson.  The weapons-challenged Philip Rivers will settle for just as good.

26. Browns (from Colts): Trai Turner, guard, LSU.

A surprisingly meat-and-potatoes offseason continues for a team that has lost guard Shawn Lauvao and could lose center Alex Mack, this year or maybe next year.

27. Saints: Odell Beckham, receiver, LSU.

The stable of weapons gets replenished, partially. Jimmy Graham still needs an explanation.  And a contract.

28. Panthers: Darqueze Dennard, cornerback, Michigan State.

They can get competent receivers later, in rounds where top-shelf corners aren’t likely lurking.

29. Patriots: Zack Martin, tackle, Notre Dame.

It’s not a glaring area of need but it’s good value for the slot.  Plus, it never hurts to have enough guys to keep Tom Brady healthy in the final years of his career.

30. 49ers: Kyle Fuller, cornerback, Virginia Tech.

The lone area of weakness on the team gets addressed.  As it should.

31. Broncos: Cyrus Kouandjio, tackle, Alabama.

All those additions on defense won’t help Peyton Manning score more than eight points if he faces the Seahawks again in the Super Bowl.

32. Seahawks: Kony Ealy, defensive end, Missouri.

With Chris Clemons and Red Bryant gone and Jared Allen picking the Bears, the Seahawks need to feed the unit that was critical to the team’s success in 2013.

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David Irving becomes third Cowboys DE suspended in past year

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What do David Irving, Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory have in common? They are Cowboys defensive ends who have faced NFL suspensions the past year.

A team in need of pass rushers can’t keep its pass rushers on the field.

The three defensive ends will miss a minimum of 38 combined games because of suspension, with Gregory serving 30 games of that.

The NFL first suspended Gregory for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy during the 2015 season. Before Gregory even could serve the four-game suspension to start the 2016 season, he earned another 10 games for missing a test. Gregory played the final two games of last season while appealing at least a year-long suspension, but his appeal was denied, and he isn’t eligible to return until at least January.

On June 30, 2016, the league suspended Lawrence for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Now, it’s Irving, who will miss four games for an over-the-counter performance enhancing drug banned by the NFL.

The Cowboys, who had 36 sacks last season, could use all three. They haven’t ranked in the top 10 in sacks since 2011. They haven’t had a double-digit sack leader since defensive tackle Jason Hatcher made 11 in 2013.

The Cowboys took chances on Lawrence and Gregory with second-round picks in back-to-back drafts despite both having red flags. Lawrence showed promise in 2015 with eight sacks but took a step back last season with only one in nine games. Between Gregory’s injuries and suspensions, the Cowboys still don’t know what they have in him and may never know.

The Cowboys signed Irving, who also had red flags after being dismissed from Iowa State, off Kansas City’s practice squad in 2015. He was their best pass-rusher last season, with four sacks, a team-best 26 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles. Now, he will have his progress interrupted.

With a revolving door at the position, and a lack of a war daddy pass-rusher since DeMarcus Ware left, it’s no wonder the Cowboys haven’t had a consistent pass rush. Giving Aaron Rodgers too much time cost them in their last two playoff losses over the past three seasons, so the Cowboys’ chances of getting where they want to go hinge on getting to the quarterback.

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The Wednesday PFT Live podcast is up

At the risk of being more immodest than usual (if that’s even possible), there’s only one place where your NFL news and information is periodically augmented with a dash of legal education. And as it relates to the Supreme Court’s decision to explore whether federal law banning the expansion of sports wagering by the various states violates the U.S. Constitution, there’s one specific area of that one place where you can get a length explanation of what it all means, and where it’s all going.

It’s in the Wednesday PFT Live non-vacation vacation edition podcast, which devotes more than 10 minutes to explaining and exploring every angle of the situation.

But there’s also plenty more, along with a review of the news of the day relating to among other things three fairly recent No. 1 overall picks in the draft.

The podcast is available at Apple Podcasts, audioBoom, and/or wherever else you can get the PFT Live podcast. Subscribe at  Apple Podcasts, audioBoom, and/or wherever else you can get the PFT Live podcast.

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Chip Kelly: Colin Kaepernick worked hard, never a distraction

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Former 49ers coach Chip Kelly says Colin Kaepernick was everything he wanted in a franchise quarterback last season.

Kelly said on Adam Schefter’s podcast that Kaepernick was as hard a worker as he could have asked for in their one season together.

“He came to work every day, extremely diligent in terms of his preparation, in terms of his work ethic,” Kelly said, via All22.com. “I really enjoyed Kap. I’ve talked to Kap three or four times since. I think he’s a really good player and a really good person, and I really enjoyed coaching him.

As for talk that Kaepernick’s decision to kneel for the national anthem serving as a distraction in San Francisco, Kelly said that was never the case.

“He explained to all the players his thought process and mindset of what he was doing,” Kelly said. “And there were some players that agreed with him and some players that didn’t agree with him. But after that point, we heard from the outside about what a distraction it is, except those people weren’t in our locker room and it never was a distraction. [Kaepernick] never turned it into a circus or whatever people think.”

Kelly and former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh have both spoken out vocally in favor of some team giving Kaepernick a chance. So far, no team has.

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Report: Karlos Williams suspended at least a year

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The NFL has suspended free agent running back Karlos Williams for at least one year, according to Field Yates of ESPN.

Williams played for the Bills in 2015, rushing for 517 yards and seven touchdowns. The league suspended Williams for the first four games of the 2016 season for a substance-abuse policy violation, and the Bills released him Aug. 21.

Williams joined the Steelers’ practice squad Oct. 12, but in November, the NFL suspended Williams for 10 games.

He had served all but two games of his 10-game suspension, and remains a free agent after the Steelers waived him in March.

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Dak Prescott stops by for special edition of PFT Live

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The regular radio version and NBCSN simulcast of PFT Live are on hiatus for the next few weeks, but we’re still doing regular podcasts to fill the time before everything gets back to normal next month.

Wednesday’s edition of the podcast is a good one thanks to a visit from Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott joined Mike Florio to discuss what was missing from his rookie season, his relationship with Ezekiel Elliott, his expectations for the coming year and his work with the “Ready. Raise. Rise.” campaign to raise awareness of Immuno-Oncology research and support those battling cancer.

The full video of Prescott’s visit appears here. The interview also will be included in Thursday’s PFT Live podcast, which will be available for free at Apple Podcasts, audioBoom, and wherever else you can get the PFT Live podcast.

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NFL makes David Irving’s suspension official

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In May, there was a report that the Cowboys will be without defensive end David Irving for the first four games of the regular season because of a suspension but there was no official word from the team about the ban.

That word came on Wednesday. The league has announced that Irving has been suspended for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Irving will be eligible to return to the team after they play the Rams on October 1. He can participate in practices and preseason games before his suspension starts during the week leading up to their season opener.

Irving had four sacks and four forced fumbles while coming off the bench in 13 of his 15 appearances for the team last season. The Cowboys will roll with Demarcus Lawrence, Charles Tapper, Tyrone Crawford and first-round pick Taco Charlton at end until Irving is eligible to return to the team.

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Darius Slay looking for more interceptions

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Darius Slay was an alternate for the Pro Bowl last season. The four players selected ahead of the Lions cornerback — Janoris Jenkins, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman and Xavier Rhodes — all had more interceptions.

Slay had only two interceptions, just as he had the year before and the year before that. His rookie season, when he had no picks, was the only season Slay didn’t have two interceptions.

“When the opportunity presents itself, if it presents itself only five times a year, make those five,” Lions cornerbacks coach Tony Oden said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “He’s doing a good job out here catching extra balls, so he’s doing his part. So those things will come. Those things will come.”

Slay’s forced turnovers did come at opportune times last season: He forced a Ryan Mathews fourth-quarter fumble that led to Matt Prater’s go-ahead field goal against the Eagles, and then intercepted Carson Wentz to ice it on the next series; he intercepted Sam Bradford with 30 seconds left on Thanksgiving to set up Prater’s game-winner against the Vikings.

Oden expects Slay to earn recognition among the best in the league at his position this season, but Slay likely needs more than two interceptions to get Pro Bowl honors.

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Tom Brady’s selling more jerseys in Florida than Florida teams

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Tom Brady already owned the Dolphins.

So throwing the Buccaneers and Jaguars in the mix only seems reasonable.

According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, the Patriots quarterback has the highest-selling jersey in the state of Florida, which has three NFL teams not the Patriots.

The numbers from NFLShop.com say that Brady’s the top-seller in 16 other states as well, so it isn’t just the fans nearest the Dolphins ordering them.

Brady is 20-9 all-time against the Dolphins, so at least they’ve beaten him occasionally. He’s 7-0 against the Jaguars (including playoffs), and 3-0 against the Buccaneers.

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Justin Pugh: Giants are “ready to win tomorrow”

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The Giants returned to the playoffs last season after making major changes to their defense during the offseason and reaping the benefits of those moves during the regular season.

They didn’t go on the same kind of spending spree this offseason, but they did make a couple of tweaks to an offense that fell short of reaching the desired results last year. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Rhett Ellison are both new to the unit and guard Justin Pugh cited them when asked if the Giants are set to win tomorrow or if it will take longer than that.

“We’re ready to win tomorrow,” Pugh said on NFL Network, via the Giants’ website. “I think that you look at the NFC, we’ve brought some guys in, bringing in Brandon Marshall, a guy who’s my size, we brought in Rhett Ellison, a tight end. His numbers aren’t going to jump off the board, but he comes in and blocks. If you look at our personnel last year, we were, 95 percent of the time, three wide receiver sets [with] one tight end, one running back. Now we can switch up personnel. We can get in multiple formations. I think our offense is going to be better, and our defense returned everybody besides Johnathan Hankins. So I think we’re going to be a pretty good team to play.”

A more versatile scheme should be a good thing for the Giants, but questions remain about how well Pugh and his fellow offensive linemen will fare after the Giants left the group alone this offseason. Pugh said left tackle Ereck Flowers is “light years” ahead of where he was last season and similar growth for the entire unit would provide even more reason to believe in the Giants’ chances in 2017.

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Rob Gronkowski gets in his workout at “random high school” in Texas

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It is not often that Rob Gronkowski goes unnoticed, but he managed to sneak into a Dallas-Fort Worth high school for his workout Tuesday. He documented his workout with two friends.

“We snuck onto some random high school, baby . . . Because we gotta get that work in … No days off, baby . . . Let’s go,” the Patriots tight end said in a video.

He thanked the school, Southlake Carroll, “for a great workout” as he exited the field through a gate.

Southlake, an affluent Fort Worth suburb, might take issue with “random high school.” It has created a football powerhouse at its only high school, annually competing for a state championship. Quarterbacks Chase Daniel, Greg McElroy and Kenny Hill played there.

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Chip Kelly: Titans wanted Marcus Mariota, not interested in trade

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Chip Kelly disputes reports from 2015 that the Eagles offered the Titans a package of picks and players to trade up and select Marcus Mariota. Kelly, who coached Mariota at Oregon, said the Titans made it clear all along that they were holding on to the No. 2 choice.

That question didn’t come up very often,” Kelly told the Know Them From Adam podcast, via Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media. “With Tennessee, they weren’t moving off the pick. Rightly so. They were looking for the same thing we were, to get themselves a really top-quality quarterback. It really wasn’t like…. We didn’t really get into a conversation of what we can offer or what we can’t offer, because they made it known that they really weren’t looking to trade the pick.

“That’s all speculation that’s out there, you hear stories that ‘we offered this; we offered that.’ We didn’t offer anything because they weren’t taking any offers for it.”

The Titans ended up selecting Mariota, who has shown promise as a potential franchise quarterback. The Eagles traded Nick Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford in March 2015, which didn’t work out for either Bradford or Kelly.

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Report: Clinton Portis was ready to kill a man who lost his money

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Former NFL running back Clinton Portis wouldn’t have been the first player to have lost most of his career earnings.

But he came perilously close to making things much worse.

According to a story by Brian Burnsed of Sports Illustrated, Portis was considering killing one of his former managers who was responsible for losing millions of dollars.

Portis was sitting outside a building with a gun, and had to be talked out of shooting the man by a friend.

“It wasn’t no beat up,” Portis told the magazine. “It was kill.”

He added that if he hadn’t been calmed down before seeing the man: “We’d probably be doing this interview from prison.”

Portis made $43.1 million during his career with Denver and Washington, but most of it was either spent or lost through bad investments and alleged withdrawals from his accounts without his consent.

He’s filed multiple lawsuits against former financial advisers, and was caught up in a Ponzi scheme. He filed for bankruptcy in 2015, and acknoweldged that he spent too lavishly during his heyday.

“Portis was on a different level,” former teammate Santana Moss said. “He didn’t think about tomorrow.”

At least someone intervened before he made matters worse, or his tomorrows might have been spent behind bars. Portis is now living in an apartment in Virginia, where he does some television work for his old team.

“Most people would have offed themselves if they had to deal with what I had to deal with,” Portis said. “Life is so much clearer after coming out of that storm.”

The story features a number of disturbing details, and should serve as a cautionary tale to other players.

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Bruce Smith wants to mentor Myles Garrett

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After watching film with Myles Garrett on draft day, Bruce Smith’s observation, according to Garrett, was that the former Texas A&M star is “slow off the ball.”

Smith said it was intended as constructive criticism. He wants to help Garrett live up to expectations.

“There were occasions in which he was just a little slow off the ball, and that fraction of a second of being slow off the ball is the difference of whether that offensive lineman is set in a certain position to be able to take you on,” Smith told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “If you get off the ball simultaneously to that ball being snapped, sometimes you’re going to beat that offensive lineman out of his stance, and then on other occasions, it’s going to be the difference of whether you get a sack, forced fumble or just a hit on the quarterback or just a hurry.

“Then there are some other areas where the play went away from him, and those are situations that he potentially could have had an impact on the play. But I think sometimes we as players take for granted that someone else is going to make the play, and we can’t do that.”

The Hall of Fame defensive end wants to mentor the No. 1 overall pick. Smith likes what he has seen from Garrett both on and off the field, believing that Garrett can become something special.

“He’s got all of the physical talents, the God-given talents,” Smith said. “He just needs to learn how to be a pro now. There’s a difference between being a college player and being a pro in the NFL. That’s the process that he has to undergo. We all had to go through it.

“He’s going to be successful. It’s just the level of success that he reaches could be contingent upon the decisions that are made for him at an early stage of his career. The advice, the coaching, the tutelage that he gets right now could determine whether he’s an impact player in his first or second year or his fourth or fifth year.”

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Michael Vick throws eight touchdowns in inaugural flag football game

AP

Michael Vick is still capable of putting up big numbers.

The former Falcons quarterback led his team of retirees to a 64-41 win over the team led by wide receiver Terrell Owens in last night’s debut of the American Flag Football League in San Jose.

Via JuliaKate Culpepper of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Vick threw for 547 yards and eight touchdowns. And that may or may not really mean anything within the context of flag football (one game, small sample size, and we haven’t seen opposing quarterback Jimmy Clausen’s stat line), but it’s a big number so it’s the kind of thing that catches your eye.

Amazingly, numbers like that weren’t enough to win him MVP honors for the game. That would be former Bears, Bills and Buccaneers tight end Evan Rodriguez, who had nine catches for 210 yards and four touchdowns.

“Tonight’s game was a massive success and displayed how exhilarating and competitive flag football can be when played by the best athletes in the world,” AFFL founder Jeff Lewis said. “Every player was very dedicated to this brand of football out on the Avaya Stadium field. They had that competitive spirit it takes to be a pro athlete – Michael and Evan’s performances were outstanding.”

Last night’s game was a test-drive for the launch of the league next year, and in the middle of the summer when nothing else is happening, if they can put an entertaining product on the field, people will probably watch it.

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Will Zachary Orr pass a physical?

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So why did recently-retired linebacker Zachary Orr unretire? As one league source put it on Wednesday morning, “He found a doctor who told him what he wanted to hear.”

The real question is whether Orr will find a doctor with one of the NFL’s various teams that will do the same thing. If the Ravens’ doctors thought Orr could have played without an unacceptable degree of risk due to a rare neck condition that could result in a serious, life-changing injury, he wouldn’t have been “forced” to retire in January.

Whether Orr will be able to continue his career will hinge on whether a doctor is willing to sign off on Orr’s ability to perform in a safe and adequate manner, without risk of a serious neck injury. Although some doctors will say whatever the person paying them wants the doctor to say, most won’t be inclined to put their name on a document that could become the gateway to a debilitating injury.

Surely, the Ravens would have liked to keep Orr around. He went from undrafted free agent to the team’s leading tackler in 2016. In Baltimore, doctors were able to set that aside and opt for a recommendation aimed at ensuring the player’s long-term health and safety. If any other doctor with any other team comes to a different conclusion, it will be interesting to hear the reasoning for it, because that doctor will essentially be saying the Ravens doctors got it wrong.

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