Owners to vote on 10 rule changes, 12 bylaw changes, 5 resolution changes

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The league is considering a number of significant (and some not particularly significant) changes at next week’s owners’ meeting.

Among the changes are 10 new playing rules, 12 new bylaws and five new resolutions. Those are detailed below:

2018 Playing Rules Proposals Summary
1. By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the playing rule that changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line.

2. By Competition Committee; Changes standard for a catch.

3. By Competition Committee; Makes the penalties for Illegal Batting & Kicking the same.

4. By Los Angeles Chargers; Amends Rule 15, Section 2, Article 5 to add fouls for roughing the passer and fouls against players in a defenseless posture as reviewable plays in the instant replay system.

5. By Washington; Amends Rule 15, Section 2, Article 5 to add review of personal fouls as reviewable plays in the instant replay system.

6. By New York Jets; Amends Rule 8, Section 5, Articles 1-4 to change the enforcement for defensive pass interference.

7 By Competition Committee; Authorizes the designated member of the Officiating department to instruct on-field game officials to disqualify a player for a flagrant nonfootball act when a foul for that act is called on the field.

8. By Competition Committee; Conforms the amount of time in which a team must challenge a play if there is a television commercial break following the play in question.

9. By Competition Committee; Eliminates the requirement that a team who scores a winning touchdown at the end of regulation of a game to kick the extra point or go for two-point conversion.

10. By Competition Committee; If there is a turnover, a team may win an overtime game, even though it scores on its second possession.

2018 Bylaw Proposals Summary
1. By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the liberalization of rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club’s facility.

2. By Buffalo; For one year only, amends Article XVII, Section 17.4 to liberalize the rule for reacquisition of a player assigned via waivers.

3. By Buffalo; For one year only, amends Article XVII, Section 17.6 to liberalize the
procedures for players placed on Reserve/Retired.

4. By Denver; Amends Article XVII, Section 17.16 to permit clubs to trade players from Reserve/Injured.

5. By Miami; Amends Article XVII, Section 17.1 to remove the requirement that a non-vested player be placed on waivers to be removed from the 90-player roster prior to the roster reduction to 53 players.

6. By Minnesota; Amends Article XVIII, Section 18.1 to replace the 10-day postseason claiming period with a 24-hour period.

7. By San Francisco, Arizona, and Los Angeles Chargers; Reduces the competitive equity that exists between teams who have morning body clock start times on long road trips.

8. By Competition Committee; Permits coaches to review video displayed on League-issued tablets on the sidelines and in the coaches’ booth.

9. By Competition Committee; A player who is designated for return is eligible to be activated after eight games, not eight weeks.

10. By Competition Committee; Lengthens the period to execute an Injury Settlement from five business days to seven business days.

11. By Competition Committee; Changes the deadline to reinstate players from certain Reserve List categories.

12. By Competition Committee; Updates Reserve/Military List procedures to reflect the current League calendar.

2018 Resolution Proposal Summary
G-1. By Washington; Allows opposing teams to receive the League’s postgame responses to any officiating inquiries submitted by either team.

G-2. By San Francisco; Requires all NFL stadiums by 2021 to have three separate and permanent locker rooms to be exclusively designated for female football staff on game days as follows: game officials, home club staff members, and visiting club staff members.

G-4. By Competition Committee; Permits a club to negotiate and sign a head coach candidate during the postseason prior to the conclusion of the employer club’s season.

G-5. By Competition Committee; For one year only, permits an interested club to contact a Vested Veteran before clubs have been notified of the player’s termination via the Player Personnel Notice if (i) the players is not subject to the Waivers System and, (ii) the employer club has publicly announced the player’s release.

The biggest problems with Richard Sherman’s self-representation


On Tuesday, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman defended his decision to negotiate his own contract. Along the way, he called out one of the biggest critics of his self-negotiated deal. (And, yes, said critic is a certain Internet hack with whom you may be familiar.)

“The thing I’m most frustrated about is all the people that were so high on bashing this deal refuse to bash the agents that do awful deals every year,” Sherman told reporters at his introductory press conference. “There are agents out there that are doing $3 million fully guaranteed deals that look like $50 million deals. When the guy gets cut after two weeks or after a year, and the guy only makes $5 million of a $50 million contract, nobody sits there and bashes the agent. You don’t hear Florio writing any articles about it. The kid from Philly, Bradham or something, took one year, $6 million deal but to everybody else is a $40 million deal. There’s nobody to bash it, because nobody’s even paying attention to most of these agents and their deals. So I think this was just one of those things where the agents feel uncomfortable with a player taking the initiative to do his own deal. Obviously it puts a fire under them. It makes them more accountable for their actions, because more players will do this.”

Sherman apparently assumes, as do many, that I’ve criticized his skills as a negotiator because I’m trying to help the agents. And he’s right. I am trying to help the agents. I’m trying to help the agents because I’m trying to help the players.

The player-agent relationship isn’t a win-lose proposition. A good agent can get more money for a player than a player can get for himself. So every player should have a good agent who can and will do just that.

But Sherman already has boasted that no agent could have gotten a better deal than Sherman negotiated for himself. Of course Richard Sherman would say that; would we expect anything else from one of the most confident personalities the NFL has ever seen?

Regardless of his confidence in his skills, he’s just flat wrong. There’s one key term in his contract that no competent agent would have ever agreed to, and any agent that ever did agree to it should be immediately disciplined by the NFL Players Association.

The term relates to the guaranteed money beyond his $3 million signing bonus. If Sherman makes it to the Pro Bowl this year, his contract doesn’t void for 2019 (which is what a good agent would have sought). Instead, Sherman triggers upon making it to the Pro Bowl an $8 million injury guarantee that vests in March 2019. As of April 1, 2019, the injury guarantee becomes a full guarantee.

Let’s focus on that for a minute. The $8 million injury guarantee doesn’t vest the moment he makes it to the Pro Bowl. The $8 million injury guarantee vests on the third day of the next league year, in March.

Here’s what this means. If Sherman qualifies for the Pro Bowl before the end of the 2018 regular season, and if the 49ers make it to the postseason, he’ll play one or more playoff games (and engage in multiple practices) with no injury protection at all. So if he ruptures an Achilles tendon or tears an ACL in January or otherwise suffers a serious injury in January, the 49ers can do exactly what the Seahawks did to Sherman earlier this month: Cut Sherman without consequence.

Instead of vesting immediately, the injury guarantee vests in the middle of March, and the salary then becomes fully guaranteed on April 1. However, any injury guarantee vesting in the middle of March and converting to a full guarantee on April 1 is meaningless; from the middle of March until April 1, there’s no football game or practice or offseason workout session that could result in an injury to Sherman.

That’s where the 49ers hoodwinked Sherman. Instead of simply saying, “Your salary for 2019 will be fully guaranteed on April 1 if you make it to the Pro Bowl” (which may have prompted Sherman to ask for the injury guarantee to vest in December), they inserted a hollow injury guarantee that becomes triggered at a time when there’s no way to suffer a football-related injury, leaving him unprotected for the balance of the 2018 regular season and postseason.

Why should anyone care about this? (Peter King recently characterized the “outcry” over Sherman’s self-negotiated contract as “weird.”) If Sherman representing himself were an isolated occurrence, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But Sherman and Chargers left tackle Russell Okung, both of whom are members of the NFLPA Executive Committee, have embarked on a crusade to get more and more players to negotiate their own contracts, apparently because they believe that agents — officially dubbed Certified Contract Advisors by the NFLPA — should be providing a much wider array of services in exchange for the fee that they earn by (wait for it) advising players regarding their contracts, and by actively negotiating them.

Believe this: NFL owners cannot wait for the moment when agents are rendered irrelevant. Owners already have slick, charismatic, skillful negotiators, who justify their salaries in part by keeping players from getting as much as they can. With no agents, players negotiating their own deals will have the bad deals negotiated by other players crammed down their throats, with teams eventually having a full roster of players at bargain-basement price.

What about the salary cap,  you ask? Won’t that ensure players get theirs with or without agents? Far more important than the cap is the floor. With an 11-percent spread available, owners will have an easier time getting the players they want for 89 cents on the dollar, with the other 11 cents becoming raw profit.

Consider the current gap between the maximum and minimum spending levels. At a salary cap of $178 million per team, $19.58 million need not be spent, per team. With 32 teams in the league, that’s $626.56 million per year potentially robbed from the rich and given to the richer.

This doesn’t mean every team will spend the bare minimum if players represent themselves. But the total expenditures will be far closer to the minimum than the maximum if the players don’t have skilled agents getting each of them the most money possible, as part of the collective effort to force as many owners as possible to spend not to the floor, but to the cap.

ESPN ranks Peyton Manning No. 3, Tom Brady No. 20 in its Top 20 athletes list

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ESPN needs something to fill a slow time in its programming schedule, so it decided to come out with a list of the 20 most dominant athletes of the last 20 years. That list includes two football players: Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Most football fans will agree with Manning and Brady both making the list of the Top 20 athletes of the last 20 years, but the ranking will seem off: Manning is No. 3. Brady is No. 20.

Why is Brady, who has played in an NFL-record eight Super Bowls, won an NFL-record five Super Bowl rings, and won an NFL-record four Super Bowl MVP awards, all the way down at No. 20? Because ESPN says the playoffs can’t be included in these completely subjective rankings.

Seriously. We’re ranking the 20 best athletes of the last 20 years, but we’re going to just pretend that postseason performances don’t matter. Because who really cares about the playoffs, anyway?

ESPN’s reason for this is preposterous: “In evaluating players, we considered regular-season stats only, since there’s no good way to compare playoffs across sports.”

There’s no good way to compare playoffs across sports? Sure there is! You could compare how many championships each player has won. Baseball player Mike Trout is No. 18 on the list — ahead of Brady — even though Trout has never played in a World Series. Here’s a good way to compare playoffs across sports: You take Brady’s record of eight Super Bowl appearances and five Super Bowl wins, and you say that’s better than Trout’s record of zero World Series appearances and zero wins.

Is that completely fair to either Brady or Trout? No, it isn’t. Football and baseball are team sports. But guess what? This is all just an exercise in silliness anyway. Just take a look at the full ESPN list:

1-Tiger Woods
2-LeBron James
3-Peyton Manning
4-Jimmie Johnson
5-Roger Federer
6-Annika Sorenstam
7-Michael Shumacher
8-Floyd Mayweather
10-Usain Bolt
11-Lionel Messi
12-Serena Williams
13-Lauren Jackson
14-Cristiano Ronaldo
15-Novak Djokovic
16-Allyson Felix
17-Barry Bonds
18-Mike Trout
19-Manny Pacquiao
20-Tom Brady

That list features one male golfer, one male basketball player, two football players, one NASCAR driver, two male tennis players, one female golfer, one Formula One driver, two boxers, one male sprinter, one female soccer player, two male soccer players, one female tennis player, one female basketball player, one female sprinter and two baseball players. How exactly is it that you can find a way to compare a golfer to a basketball player, a NASCAR driver to a tennis player, a boxer to a sprinter, and men to women, but you can’t figure out a way to compare playoffs to the regular season?

The list is, laughably, missing the most dominant Olympian ever, Michael Phelps, which ESPN blames on “the data.” What data determined that the swimmer who won 23 gold medals isn’t one of the 20 most dominant athletes of the last 20 years? ESPN doesn’t say. Just trust them. It’s “the data.” And “the data” cannot be questioned.

Why didn’t any hockey players make the list? Who knows. Why two boxers but no MMA fighters? It’s anyone’s guess. Why two sprinters but no jumpers, throwers or distance runners? Honestly, who cares.

Maybe we’d all just be better off ignoring these exercises in attention-seeking. But sometimes a little mockery is in order. And when you’re trying to compare Tom Brady to Annika Sorenstam but arbitrarily deciding not to include Brady’s Super Bowl performances, you deserve to be mocked.

The veteran running back market still is still sputtering, for the most part

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Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell will make more than $14.5 million this year under the franchise tag. 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon, the biggest winner in the free-agency class at the position, will average $7.5 million per year over four years, nearly half of Bell’s one-year amount.

Nearly a week into the free-agency process, here’s a breakdown of the new contracts for running backs, one of the strangest markets in all of football.

1. Jerick McKinnon, 49ers: Four years, $30 million, $7.5 million average, $11.7 million fully guaranteed at signing.

2. Carlos Hyde, Browns: Three years, $15.25 million, $5.083 million average, $5 million guaranteed at signing. (Hyde can trigger up to $1.5 million in escalators for 2019 and 2020 based on rushing yards, receiving yards, and touchdowns.)

3. Dion Lewis, Titans: Four years, $19.8 million, $4.95 million average, $6.75 fully guaranteed at signing. (Lewis can trigger up to $600,000 from 2019 through 2021 in escalators along with $600,000 in 2021 incentives, all based on rushing and receiving yards.)

4. Isaiah Crowell, Jets: Three years, $12 million, $4 million average, $4 million fully guaranteed at signing.

5. Jonathan Stewart, Giants: Two years, $6.9 million, $3.45 million average, $2.95 million fully guaranteed at signing.

6. Rex Burkhead, Patriots: Three years, $9.75 million, $3.25 million average, $4 million fully guaranteed at signing. (Burkhead can earn up to $1.25 million per year from 2018 through 2020 based on playing time and total yards.)

7. Chris Ivory, Bills: Two years, $5.5 million, $2.75 million average, $2.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.

8. LeGarrette Blount, Lions: One year, $2 million, $1 million fully guaranteed at signing. (Blount also can earn up to $2.5 million in incentives based on playing time, rushing yards, and touchdowns.)

9. Jeremy Hill, Patriots: One year, $1.5 million, $150,000 fully guaranteed at signing.

10. De'Anthony Thomas, Chiefs: One year, $880,000, $90,000 fully guaranteed at signing.

11. Travaris Cadet, Bills: One year, $880,000, $45,000 fully guaranteed at signing.

The Raiders signed running back Doug Martin and the Lions re-signed running back Zach Zenner, but details regarding their contracts have not yet been reported or released.

None of this year’s crop of free agents got to the top of the multi-year market, currently led by Falcons running back Devonta Freeman at $8.25 million per year and Bills running back LeSean McCoy at $8 million per year. Next year, with Bell possibly hitting the open market after six NFL seasons, it will be interesting to see whether he pushes the bar to $10 million per year.

Half the NFL could have a different Week One starting quarterback in 2018

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Starting quarterbacks in the NFL don’t last for long.

Two days into the league year, it’s already clear that at least a dozen NFL teams will be starting a different quarterback in Week One of 2018 than in Week One of 2017. Two other teams currently have questions about their Week One starter, and that’s before any surprises in the draft, or injuries in the preseason.

Assuming we do have some surprises in the coming months, it’s easy to see half of the teams in the NFL beginning the 2018 season with a different starting quarterback than they had in the beginning of the 2017 season. Here’s a look at each team’s quarterback situation, this year and last year:

Teams with different Week One starting quarterbacks
Arizona: Carson Palmer in 2017, Sam Bradford in 2018.

Buffalo: Tyrod Taylor in 2017, AJ McCarron or a rookie in 2018.

Chicago: Mike Glennon in 2017, Mitchell Trubisky in 2018.

Cleveland: DeShone Kizer in 2017, Tyrod Taylor in 2018.

Denver: Trevor Siemian in 2017, Case Keenum in 2018.

Houston: Tom Savage in 2017, Deshaun Watson in 2018.

Indianapolis: Scott Tolzien in 2017, Andrew Luck in 2018.

Kansas City: Alex Smith in 2017, Patrick Mahomes in 2018.

Miami: Jay Cutler in 2017, Ryan Tannehill in 2018.

Minnesota: Sam Bradford in 2017, Kirk Cousins in 2018.

San Francisco: Brian Hoyer in 2017, Jimmy Garoppolo in 2018.

Washington: Kirk Cousins in 2017, Alex Smith in 2018.

Teams that might have different quarterbacks
New York Jets: Josh McCown in 2017, competing with Teddy Bridgewater or a rookie in 2018.

Philadelphia: Carson Wentz in 2017, Nick Foles if Wentz’s knee hasn’t recovered by the start of 2018.

Teams with the same quarterback
Atlanta: Matt Ryan

Baltimore: Joe Flacco

Carolina: Cam Newton

Cincinnati: Andy Dalton

Dallas: Dak Prescott

Detroit: Matthew Stafford

Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers

Jacksonville: Blake Bortles

L.A. Rams: Jared Goff

L.A. Chargers: Philip Rivers

New England: Tom Brady

New Orleans: Drew Brees

New York Giants: Eli Manning

Oakland: Derek Carr

Pittsburgh: Ben Roethlisberger

Seattle: Russell Wilson

Tampa Bay: Jameis Winston

Tennessee: Marcus Mariota

Players need good agents, period

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At a time when a rumor is making the rounds that a prominent member of the media was unofficially giving cornerback Richard Sherman free advice on his negotiations with the 49ers (Sherman may have gotten his money’s worth), I’m prepared to give all players free advice on this topic. (And they’ll definitely get their money’s worth.)

Here’s the advice: Hire a good agent.

Players who think they can save a few bucks on the commission by simply hiring a contract lawyer to spend 30 minutes reading the final document simply don’t understand what the job entails. The job entails maximizing the player’s take-home pay, taking into account non-monetary factors like where the player will be living, who he’ll be playing for, and his chances of individual and team success on that roster. Because those factors are unique to every player, the following observations apply only to the goal of putting the most money in a player’s pocket. Because Sherman’s deal is the most recent player-negotiated contract, these observations are tied directly to his situation.

1. The $2 million per-game roster bonuses.

Over the past decade or so, per-game roster bonuses have become an important part of the NFL player compensation landscape. It’s a pay-as-you-go term, giving players money based on their ability to suit up and play in a given game.

In most cases, the per-game roster bonuses total less than $1 million. Aaron Rodgers, for example, has per-game roster bonuses totaling $600,000 per year. Last year, his broken collarbone resulted in more than $330,000 in lost income.

Sherman’s contract carries a whopping $2 million in per-game roster bonuses. Few players have ever had that much ($125,000 per game) tied to being on the game-day roster. It’s believed that the 49ers sold Sherman on such a significant amount by pointing out that Colin Kaepernick had the same amount of per-game roster bonuses.

That’s accurate. But current 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the highest paid player in NFL history, has only $800,000 in annual per-game roster bonuses.

Assuming that a good agent could have at least cut that amount in half, with the balance becoming base salary, Sherman would have been assured of earning another $1 million not tied to the number of games he actually plays.

2. The negotiations with other teams.

It’s undeniable that this deal came together quickly, with Sherman visiting the 49ers facility a day after being cut by the Seahawks and not leaving. If Sherman had a good agent, that agent could have been working the phones with any and all other interested teams in an effort to find out whether they’d offer as much or more than what the 49ers offered. Even if Sherman had still signed with the 49ers, a good agent could have squeezed better terms out of the 49ers if the agent had been able to persuade them that other teams were seriously pursuing Sherman, with competitive terms.

3. State income taxes.

Let’s assume the Lions (who were very interested in Sherman) would have given Sherman the same deal the 49ers did, with a base package of $7 million for 2018, $2 million in per-game roster bonuses, $1 million in playing-time incentives, and a $3 million incentive tied to making it to the Pro Bowl (which actually could be the All-Pro team). Michigan has a tax rate of 4.25 percent. If Sherman had unlocked all incentives, he would have paid $552,500 in Michigan taxes. In California, where the tax rate for the highest earners is 13.3 percent, he’ll pay $1.729 million.

That’s a difference of $1.117 million. A good agent would have pointed that out to Sherman. It’s unknown whether anyone did. It’s unlikely that the 49ers did.

4. The upside of making it to the Pro Bowl.

If Sherman makes it to the Pro Bowl, a total of $16 million in salary for 2019 and 2020 becomes guaranteed. That’s fine, but a good agent likely would have requested a voiding of the final two years of the deal based on making it to the Pro Bowl, allowing Sherman to parlay a Pro Bowl season into much more on the open market than a total of $16 million guaranteed over two seasons.

5. The 49ers’ reputation.

49ers executive Paraag Marathe has a well-earned reputation as being a shrewd negotiator. Every good agent knows this. Most players may not. Whether or not Sherman knew this isn’t known. Regardless, the final numbers on the deal are currently expected to show that Marathe negotiated a team-friendly deal.

6. The bottom line.

Players are tempted to negotiate their own deals because of one thing and one thing only: They don’t like writing checks to their agents. If, like state and federal income taxes, the fees were deducted from the players’ game checks, the players may be less salty about paying their agents. (Anyone who pays quarterly taxes out of money already earned understands this dynamic all too well.)

But it’s not about the check the player writes. It’s about the check the player gets. Sherman has a practical guarantee for 2018 of $7 million. Under the maximum fee of three percent, he would have paid $210,000. Thus, a good agent would have had to negotiate a base deal worth $7.21 million for 2018 to pay for the agent’s services.

A good agent may have been able to get Sherman a base package of much more than $7.21 million. Along with the ability to get back to the market next year. Along with a more favorable state income tax situation.

Sherman made his choice, and no one expects him to admit that he may have made a rash decision at an emotional time without the best advice possible. Other players, who may be under the misimpression based on the erroneous initial report that Sherman is getting a firm $13 million per year, need to realize that the commission they separately pay is worth every penny — assuming the money is being paid to a good agent.

Here’s the part where some of you will bang out comments suggesting that I’m making these points in order to help out agents. Before you do, you’re absolutely right. I am.

I’m also trying to help players. Good agents make money for themselves and more money for players. In turn, this takes more money out of the coffers of billionaires who would love nothing more than to see this still-isolated quirk become a trend, and for that trend to then become the norm.

PFT’s Free Agent Top 100

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The following are PFT’s top 100 free agents for the start of the 2018 league year. The rankings include prospective unrestricted and restricted free agents, as well as released players. The list will be updated as events warrant, with signings, tags and re-signings denoted when announced and/or reported.

1. Saints quarterback Drew Brees (re-signed with Saints March 13).

2. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins (agreed to terms with the Vikings on March 13).

3. Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (received franchise tag March 6).

4. Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (received franchise tag March 5).

5. Panthers offensive guard Andrew Norwell (agreed to terms with Jaguars March 13).

6. Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (agreed to terms with Broncos March 12).

7. Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson (agreed to terms with Bears March 13).

8. Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (received franchise tag February 27).

9. Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (released March 14).

10. Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (agreed to terms with the Jets on March 13).

11. Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner (received franchise tag March 6).

12. Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder (agreed to terms with the Giants on March 14).

13. Seahawks defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (agreed to terms with the Vikings on March 15).

14. Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (received franchise tag February 20).

15. Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (re-signed with the Bears on March 16).

16. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (signed with the 49ers on March 10).

17. Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (agreed to terms with Titans on March 13).

18. Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron (agreed to terms with the Bills on March 14).

19. Rams receiver Sammy Watkins (agreed to terms with Chiefs March 13).

20. Falcons defensive tackle Dontari Poe (agreed to terms with the Panthers on March 15).

21. Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh (agreed to terms with the Cardinals on March 16).

22. Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (agreed to terms with Packers on March 13).

23. Jaguars cornerback Aaron Colvin (agreed to terms with Texans on March 13).

24. Bills cornerback E.J. Gaines.

25. Packers receiver Jordy Nelson (agreed to terms with Raiders on March 15).

26. Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu (signed with the Texans on March 16).

27. Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro.

28. Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (agreed to terms with Bills on March 13).

29. Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (agreed to terms with the Patriots on March 16).

30. Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee (re-signed March 13).

31. Washington cornerback Bashaud Breeland (agreed to terms with Panthers on March 13, but failed physical March 16.).

32. Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (agreed to terms with Jets on March 13).

33. Patriots running back Dion Lewis (agreed to terms with Titans on March 13).

34. Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (agreed to terms with Packers on March 13).

35. Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson (re-signed with the Saints on March 14).

36. Packers safety Morgan Burnett (agreed to terms with the Steelers on March 20).

37. Bears guard Josh Sitton (agreed to terms with the Dolphins on March 15).

38. Giants center Weston Richburg (agreed to terms with 49ers March 13).

39. Dolphins center Mike Pouncey (signed with Chargers March 19).

40. Raiders inside linebacker Navorro Bowman.

41. Chiefs defensive tackle Bennie Logan.

42. Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (agreed to terms with Cardinals March 13).

43. Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers (re-signed with Panthers on March 14).

44. Chargers safety Tre Boston.

45. Seahawks receiver Paul Richardson (agreed to terms with Washington on March 13).

46. Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara (agreed to re-sign on March 13).

47. Colts guard Jack Mewhort (re-signed with Colts on March 21).

48. Ravens center Ryan Jensen (agreed to terms with the Bucs on March 16).

49. Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams (re-signed March 13).

50. Eagles tight end Trey Burton (agreed to terms with Bears March 13).

5`. Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (agreed to terms with Eagles March 13).

52. Titans linebacker Avery Williamson (agreed to terms with the Jets on March 13).

53. Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee (released).

54. Titans guard Josh Kline (agreed to re-sign with Titans on March 13).

55. Lions tight end Eric Ebron (signed with Colts March 19).

56. 49ers safety Eric Reid.

57. Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (re-signed with the Bengals on March 15).

58. Titans defensive lineman DaQuan Jones (re-signed with the Titans on March 14).

59. Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving (received second-round tender from Cowboys on March 14).

60. Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (agreed to terms with Jaguars on March 15).

61. Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon (agreed to terms with 49ers on March 14).

62. 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (agreed to terms with Browns on March 14).

63. Colts cornerback Rashaan Melvin (agreed to terms with the Raiders on March 16).

64. Jets quarterback Josh McCown (re-signed with Jets on March 13).

65. Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham (re-signed with the Eagles on March 14).

66. Washington linebacker Zach Brown (re-signed with Washington on March 15).

67. Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne (re-signed with Jets on March 15).

68. Cardinals receiver Jaron Brown (agreed to terms with the Seahawks on March 16).

69. Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (agreed to terms with the Jets on March 13).

70. Jets linebacker Demario Davis (agreed to terms with the Saints on March 14).

71. Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie (agreed to terms with the Browns on March 14).

72. Chiefs receiver Albert Wilson (agreed to terms with the Dolphins March 13).

73. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. (re-signs with Rams on March 13).

74. Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens (agreed to terms with Chiefs on March 13).

75. Bills receiver Jordan Matthews.

76. Washington receiver Terrelle Pryor.

77. Bucs defensive tackle Chris Baker (signed with the Bengals).

78. Washington linebacker Junior Galette.

79. Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph (re-signed with Texans March 15).

80. Ravens receiver Mike Wallace (agreed to terms with the Eagles on March 22).

81. Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes (signed with the Bucs on March 12).

82. Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson (re-signed with Lions on March 13).

83. Bucs tight end Cameron Brate (signed with the Bucs on March 12).

84. Dolphins defensive end William Hayes (re-signed with the Dolphins on March 14).

85. Steelers offensive tackle Chris Hubbard (agrees to terms with the Browns on March 13).

86. Bears receiver Kendall Wright.

87. Rams outside linebacker Connor Barwin.

88. Washington outside linebacker Trent Murphy (agreed to terms with the Bills March 14).

89. Colts receiver Donte Moncrief (agreed to terms with the Jaguars on March 13).

90. Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead (signs with the Raiders on March 15).

91. Saints guard Senio Kelemete (agreed to terms with the Texans on March 14).

92. Broncos inside linebacker Todd Davis (re-signed with Broncos on March 14).

93. Falcons defensive lineman Derrick Shelby (re-signed March 22).

94. Rams center John Sullivan (re-signed with the Rams on March 16).

95. 49ers guard Brandon Fusco (agreed to terms with the Falcons on March 14).

96. Bills linebacker Preston Brown (signed with the Bengals on March 16).

97. Broncos center Matt Paradis (received second-round tender on March 12).

98. Patriots running back Rex Burkhead (re-signed with Patriots on March 14).

99. Cardinals safety Tyvon Branch.

100. Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel.

Five franchise tags, one transition tag handed out before deadline

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The deadline for teams to use franchise and transition tags on impending free agents passed at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday with six of them handed out.

Six teams opted to use the tags this year. Five of them went for franchise tags and one transition tag was also used before the deadline passed. The players who received the tag are:

Running back Le'Veon Bell, Steelers – It’s the second year in a row that Bell has gotten the tag, which comes with a $14.5 million salary this year. Bell sat out all of the offseason last year and has talked about sitting out the entire 2018 season, although it will likely be some time before we know if he has any intention of actually doing so.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry, Dolphins – Landry has signed his tender, which guarantees a salary of just over $15.9 million for the coming season. He’s also reportedly been given the right to help facilitate a trade, so he may not wind up in Miami when the season starts.

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, Cowboys – Lawrence has also signed his tender. He said on Monday that he’s grateful for the opportunity to “break the bank” next year, which suggests he may wind up playing out the year with the $17.1 million salary mandated by the tag.

Defensive end Ziggy Ansah, Lions – Ansah’s tag carries the same $17.1 million salary that Lawrence is now set to make. He has not signed the tender at this point, however.

Safety Lamarcus Joyner, Rams – After tagging cornerback Trumaine Johnson the last two years, the Rams chose to tag Joyner over wide receiver Sammy Watkins. He has not signed the $11.2 million tender.

Cornerback Kyle Fuller, Bears – The Bears opted for the transition tag, which calls for Fuller to make $12.9 million if he does not work out a long-term deal. It also gives the Bears the right to match other offers for his services, but does not come with the compensation of two first-round picks afforded by the franchise tag.

2018 NFL draft: Full selection order, Picks 1-256

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Here is the full 2018 NFL draft order, in round- pick in round- overall pick format:

1- 1- 1 Cleveland

1- 2- 2 New York Giants

1- 3- 3 Indianapolis
1- 4- 4 Cleveland from Houston

1- 5- 5 Denver
1- 6- 6 New York Jets
1- 7- 7 Tampa Bay
1- 8- 8 Chicago

1- 9- 9 San Francisco
1-10-10 Oakland
1-11-11 Miami

1-12-12 Cincinnati
1-13-13 Washington
1-14-14 Green Bay

1-15-15 Arizona

1-16-16 Baltimore
1-17-17 Los Angeles Chargers
1-18-18 Seattle
1-19-19 Dallas
1-20-20 Detroit

1-21-21 Buffalo

1-22-22 Buffalo from Kansas City

1-23-23 Los Angeles Rams
1-24-24 Carolina

1-25-25 Tennessee

1-26-26 Atlanta

1-27-27 New Orleans

1-28-28 Pittsburgh

1-29-29 Jacksonville

1-30-30 Minnesota

1-31-31 New England

1-32-32 Philadelphia

2- 1-33 Cleveland

2- 2-34 New York Giants

2- 3-35 Cleveland from Houston
2- 4-36 Indianapolis

2- 5-37 New York Jets
2- 6-38 Tampa Bay
2- 7-39 Chicago
2- 8-40 Denver

2- 9-41 Oakland
2-10-42 Miami
2-11-43 New England from San Francisco

2-12-44 Washington
2-13-45 Green Bay
2-14-46 Cincinnati

2-15-47 Arizona

2-16-48 Los Angeles Chargers
2-17-49 New York Jets from Seattle
2-18-50 Dallas
2-19-51 Detroit
2-20-52 Baltimore

2-21-53 Buffalo

2-22-54 Kansas City

2-23-55 Carolina
2-24-56 Buffalo from Los Angeles Rams

2-25-57 Tennessee

2-26-58 Atlanta

2-27-59 San Francisco from New Orleans

2-28-60 Pittsburgh

2-29-61 Jacksonville

2-30-62 Minnesota

2-31-63 New England

2-32-64 Cleveland from Philadelphia

3- 1-65 Cleveland

3- 2-66 New York Giants

3- 3-67 Indianapolis
3- 4-68 Houston

3- 5-69 Tampa Bay
3- 6-70 San Francisco from Chicago
3- 7-71 Denver
3- 8-72 New York Jets

3- 9-73 Miami
3-10-74 San Francisco
3-11-75 Oakland

3-12-76 Green Bay
3-13-77 Cincinnati
3-14-78 Washington

3-15-79 Arizona

3-16-80 Houston from Seattle
3-17-81 Dallas
3-18-82 Detroit
3-19-83 Baltimore
3-20-84 Los Angeles Chargers

3-21-85 Carolina from Buffalo

3-22-86 Kansas City

3-23-87 Los Angeles Rams
3-24-88 Carolina

3-25-89 Tennessee

3-26-90 Atlanta

3-27-91 New Orleans

3-28-92 Pittsburgh

3-29-93 Jacksonville

3-30-94 Minnesota

3-31-95 New England

3-32-96 Buffalo from Philadelphia
3-33-97 Arizona (Compensatory Selection)

3-34-98 Houston (Compensatory Selection)

3-35-99 Denver (Compensatory Selection)

3-36-100 Cincinnati (Compensatory Selection)

4- 1-101 Cleveland

4- 2-102 New York Giants

4- 3-103 Houston
4- 4-104 Indianapolis

4- 5-105 Chicago
4- 6-106 Denver
4- 7-107 New York Jets
4- 8-108 Tampa Bay

4- 9-109 Denver from San Francisco
4-10-110 Oakland
4-11-111 Miami

4-12-112 Cincinnati
4-13-113 Washington
4-14-114 Green Bay

4-15-115 Chicago from Arizona

4-16-116 Dallas
4-17-117 Detroit
4-18-118 Baltimore
4-19-119 Los Angeles Chargers
4-20-120 Seattle

4-21-121 Buffalo

4-22-122 Kansas City

4-23-123 Cleveland from Carolina
4-24-124 Los Angeles Rams

4-25-125 Tennessee

4-26-126 Atlanta

4-27-127 New Orleans

4-28-128 San Francisco from Pittsburgh

4-29-129 Jacksonville

4-30-130 Philadelphia from Minnesota

4-31-131 Miami from New England through Philadelphia

4-32-132 Philadelphia
4-33-133 Green Bay (Compensatory Selection)

4-34-134 Arizona (Compensatory Selection)

4-35-135 New York Giants (Compensatory Selection)

4-36-136 New England (Compensatory Selection)

4-37-137 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)

5- 1-138 Cleveland

5- 2-139 New York Giants

5- 3-140 Indianapolis
5- 4-141 Seattle from Houston

5- 5-142 Denver
5- 6-143 San Francisco from New York Jets
5- 7-144 Tampa Bay
5- 8-145 Chicago

5- 9-146 Seattle from Oakland
5-10-147 New Orleans from Miami
5-11-148 Pittsburgh from San Francisco

5-12-149 Washington
5-13-150 Green Bay
5-14-151 Cincinnati

5-15-152 Arizona

5-16-153 Detroit
5-17-154 Baltimore
5-18-155 Los Angeles Chargers
5-19-156 Philadelphia from Seattle
5-20-157 New York Jets from Dallas

5-21-158 Buffalo

5-22-159 Cleveland from Kansas City

5-23-160 Los Angeles Rams
5-24-161 Carolina

5-25-162 Tennessee

5-26-163 Denver from Atlanta

5-27-164 New Orleans

5-28-165 Pittsburgh

5-29-166 Buffalo from Jacksonville

5-30-167 Minnesota

5-31-168 Seattle from New England

5-32-169 Philadelphia
5-33-170 Cincinnati (Compensatory Selection)

5-34-171 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)

5-35-172 Green Bay (Compensatory Selection)

5-36-173 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)

5-37-174 Green Bay (Compensatory Selection)

6- 1-175 Cleveland

6- 2-176 New York Giants

6- 3-177 Houston
6- 4-178 Indianapolis

6- 5-179 New York Jets
6- 6-180 Tampa Bay
6- 7-181 Chicago
6- 8-182 Denver

6- 9-183 Miami
6-10-184 San Francisco
6-11-185 Oakland

6-12-186 Green Bay
6-13-187 Cincinnati
6-14-188 Washington

6-15-189 New Orleans from Arizona

6-16-190 Baltimore
6-17-191 Los Angeles Chargers
6-18-192 Oakland from Seattle
6-19-193 Dallas
6-20-194 Los Angeles Rams from Detroit

6-21-195 Los Angeles Rams from Buffalo

6-22-196 Kansas City

6-23-197 Carolina
6-24-198 Los Angeles Rams

6-25-199 Tennessee

6-26-200 Atlanta

6-27-201 New Orleans

6-28-202 Tampa Bay from Pittsburgh

6-29-203 Jacksonville

6-30-204 Minnesota

6-31-205 New England

6-32-206 Philadelphia
6-33-207 Green Bay (Compensatory Selection)

6-34-208 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)

6-35-209 Kansas City (Compensatory Selection)

6-36-210 Oakland (Compensatory Selection)

6-37-211 Houston (Compensatory Selection)

6-38-212 Oakland (Compensatory Selection)

6-39-213 Minnesota (Compensatory Selection)

6-40-214 Houston (Compensatory Selection)

6-41-215 Baltimore (Compensatory Selection)

6-42-216 Oakland (Compensatory Selection)

6-43-217 Oakland (Compensatory Selection)

6-44-218 Minnesota (Compensatory Selection)

7- 1-219 Cleveland

7- 2-220 Pittsburgh from New York Giants

7- 3-221 Indianapolis
7- 4-222 Houston

7- 5-223 Miami from Tampa Bay
7- 6-224 Chicago
7- 7-225 Denver
7- 8-226 Seattle from New York Jets

7- 9-227 San Francisco
7-10-228 Oakland
7-11-229 Miami

7-12-230 Jacksonville from Cincinnati
7-13-231 Washington
7-14-232 Green Bay

7-15-233 Kansas City from Arizona

7-16-234 Carolina from Los Angeles Chargers through Buffalo
7-17-235 New York Jets from Seattle
7-18-236 Dallas
7-19-237 Detroit
7-20-238 Baltimore

7-21-239 Green Bay from Buffalo

7-22-240 San Francisco from Kansas City

7-23-241 Washington from Los Angeles Rams
7-24-242 Carolina

7-25-243 Kansas City from Tennessee

7-26-244 Atlanta

7-27-245 New Orleans

7-28-246 Pittsburgh

7-29-247 Jacksonville

7-30-248 Seattle from Minnesota

7-31-249 Cincinnati from New England

7-32-250 Seattle from Philadelphia through Seattle and New England
7-33-251 Los Angeles Chargers (Compensatory Selection)

7-34-252 Cincinnati (Compensatory Selection)

7-35-253 Cincinnati (Compensatory Selection)

7-36-254 Arizona (Compensatory Selection)

7-37-255 Tampa Bay (Compensatory Selection)

7-38-256 Atlanta (Compensatory Selection)

The 2018 franchise tag values are set

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The NFL announced that the salary cap for the 2018 season will be $177.2 million for each team, which means there are no more projected salaries to attach to players who get the franchise tag before Tuesday’s deadline.

Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry is set to make $15.982 million under the terms of the tag, but he may be signing a new contract with a new team if the Dolphins’ attempt to trade him is successful. Landry has already signed his tender.

Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence also signed his tender shortly after getting it on Monday. He and Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who hasn’t signed his tender, stand to make $17.143 million if they play out the year under the tag.

The number for running backs was set at $11.866 million, but that doesn’t apply to Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell after he was tagged last season. Bell will stand to make $14.5 million if the Steelers use the tag as expected.

The rest of the positions are as follows:

Quarterback – $23.189 million

Tight end – $9.846 million

Offensive line – $14.077 million

Defensive tackle – $13.939 million

Linebacker – $14.961 million

Cornerback $14.975 million

Safety $11.287 million

Kicker/Punter – $4.939 million

Should any team want to use the transition tag, which allows teams the right to match another contract offer without receiving compensation if they opt against it, those figures are:

Quarterback – $20.922 million

Running back – $9.63 million

Wide receiver – $13.924 million

Tight end – $8.428 million

Offensive line – $12.525 million

Defensive end – $14.2 million

Defensive tackle – $11.407 million

Linebacker – $12.81 million

Cornerback – $12.971 million

Safety – $9.536 million

Kicker/Punter – $4.493 million

How many teams are really interested in Kirk Cousins?

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Six years ago, teams lined up for a chance to have quarterback Peyton Manning reject them. Now, with Kirk Cousins hitting the market as the first healthy franchise quarterback on the right side of 30 in the history of free agency, the universe of interested teams sits at four. One eighth of the entire league.

But how many teams are actually interested in Cousins? The Cardinals, as of a week ago, thought Cousins would be too expensive for their budget. Now, they’re back in it. Supposedly.

Here’s a theory/hypothesis/whatever: Only the Jets are seriously interested, and the other three teams are essentially leverage. The Cardinals, Broncos, and Vikings would be willing participants in this dance, because showing interest in Cousins could help them leverage other arrangements.

If Case Keenum wants too much from the Vikings, the Vikings can shrug and say, “We’ll sign Cousins instead.” If A.J. McCarron wants too much from the Cardinals, the Cardinals can shrug and say, “We’ll sign Cousins instead.” If the Browns want too much from the Broncos for the first overall pick in the draft (a possibility that he has been making the rounds), the Broncos can shrug and say, “We’ll sign Cousins instead.”

Some think the Jets will offer the most to Cousins, but that he’ll choose to go somewhere else. In the end, the gap between the Jets and everyone else may be too big to justify saying no to New York.

Really, any team would be interested in Cousins if the price were low enough. The fact that the Jets, Vikings, Broncos, and Cardinals have emerged as finalists suggests that they’ve essentially been pre-qualified via intended offers that are in the vicinity of the ballpark of what Cousins wants.

Ultimately, however, it may be only two teams that are seriously motivated to sign him. Or maybe it’s only one, with the Jets being forced to pay more than they want under the threat that Cousins will choose a better team.

Jerry Jones is about to get a taste of NFL justice


The owner of the Dallas Cowboys soon will experience frontier justice, Big Shield style.

On Monday, Jerry Jones will testify under oath before Commissioner Roger Goodell in a proceeding aimed at determining whether and to what extent Jones and the Cowboys owe the NFL and its member clubs reimbursement for legal fees incurred in connection with his threatened litigation over Goodell’s new contract and running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s actual litigation over his six-game suspension.

Speaking with reporters who cover the Cowboys on Saturday, Jones expressed an idealistic — and arguably delusional — view of what the process will entail.

“A hearing before the Commissioner is like a courtroom,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “You separate the wheat from the chaff, and you get right into the facts as they are, and I welcome that.

“Looking forward to my time with him regarding both the issues of how we were involved or not involved in the Ezekiel Elliott issue as well as the issue of what we did or didn’t do relative to his contract negotiation. Those will be the subject areas, but the key thing is it’s really factual . . . you . . . address the facts. I know he wants to know that, and I want him to know what the facts are.”

That would be great, if the facts matter. But they don’t matter.

Well, they do matter, but only insofar as they need to be massaged and twisted and squished into fitting the predetermined narrative, which leads to the preselected outcome. That’s how it has gone in the past, from Bountygate to Spygate to the ruling Jones experienced six years ago, when the league decided that Dallas and Washington treated the uncapped year like (who knew?) an uncapped year, stripping them of millions in cap space.

That’s precisely what will happen to Jones now, especially because this entire proceeding supposedly was instigated not by Goodell but by influential owners who want to see Goodell whack Jones for being so disruptive last year. Whatever Jones says or does, Goodell likely will decide that threatening litigation in a way that causes the league and its member clubs to incur legal fees constitutes initiating a lawsuit within the confines of Resolution FC-6, and that whatever the Cowboys did in connection with Elliott’s cases constitutes “substantial assistance of” his litigation under that same provision.

It’s the kind of thing that Jones complained about when objecting to the Commissioner’s new contract. The league office has too much power, and the league office all too frequently uses that power to selectively utilize a smorgasbord of rules in order to justify doing whatever the league office wants to do.

In this case, the league office wants to punish Jones and to make an example of him, in an effort to warn other owners not to behave in similar ways in the future. Resolution FC-6 provides the league with a procedure for picking his pocket for $2 million-plus, thanks in large part to the Commissioner’s full and complete power over the process.

So, yes, the facts will come out on Monday. But those facts won’t change the fact that the appeal process is more of a rubber stamp than a blind search for the truth.


With tag deadline two days away, two players have been tagged

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The tag deadline arrives on Tuesday, in only two days. And only two guys have been tagged since the window opened 12 days ago.

On the first day, the Dolphins applied the franchise tag to receiver Jarvis Landry. More recently, the Lions used the franchise tag on defensive end Ziggy Ansah. Here’s a list of the other hot spots as the final 48 hours of the process loom.

The Steelers tried to impose a February 20 artificial deadline on running back Le'Veon Bell to get a long-term deal done, and it didn’t happen. There’s a chance, maybe slim, they’ll get something done before having to make the tag/no tag decision on Tuesday. If not, the Steelers will have to choose between $14.5 million for Bell in 2018 or letting the market set his long-term value.

Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson could be tagged, either franchise or transition, if the Jags can’t get a deal done in the next two days. With Blake Bortles signing a reasonable deal, the Jaguars have more flexibility to keep Robinson around.

Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will be franchise tagged if he doesn’t agree to a long-term deal by Tuesday.

Washington has made it clear that it won’t tag quarterback Kirk Cousins for a third straight year, proving that even dysfunction has its limits.

With Giants G.M. Dave Gettleman dropping strong hints that a big deal will be coming for Panthers guard Andrew Norwell, Justin Pugh likely won’t be getting tagged.

The Vikings reportedly won’t use the franchise tag on quarterback Case Keenum; they probably also won’t use the transition tag, either.

Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller, whose fifth-year option wasn’t picked up by the team a year ago, could be franchise tagged after a strong 2017.

The Panthers reportedly are considering using the franchise tag on kicker Graham Gano.

The Seahawks reportedly won’t be tagging defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson.

The Rams reportedly are more inclined to tag safety Lemarcus Joyner than receiver Sammy Watkins.

At the outset of the process, we set the over-under for tags at 5.5. At this point, Lawrence is the only sure thing, barring a long-term deal. Bell, Robinson, and Joyner are strong possibilities. Fuller and Gano could happen as well. Eight could be the ceiling, which means that up to six more tags could be coming in the next two days.

Of course, in the effort to by comprehensive, we’ve probably overlooked someone. Feel free to point out the omission in the comments. As if you ever need to be asked.

Commissioner has “final and binding” power to determine legal fees to be paid by Jerry Jones

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The effort to recover legal fees, reportedly in excess of $2 million, from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones does not arise under the rule that allows Commissioner Roger Goodell to impose punishment for conduct detrimental to the game. Instead, the authority comes from Resolution FC-6, adopted in 1997.

Resolution FC-6 specifically relates to any effort by “any member club or any entity controlled by any direct or indirect owner of an interest in a member club” that becomes involved in litigation against the NFL or any of the member clubs. The resolution, a copy of which PFT has obtained, applies not only when a member club initiates litigation against the league or other member clubs but also when a member club “joins, has a direct, football-related financial interest in, or offers substantial assistance in any lawsuit or other legal, regulatory, or administrative proceeding” against the league or other member clubs.

Resolution FC-6 gives the Commissioner or his designee “final and binding” authority” to “determine the amount of said legal fees, litigation expenses, and costs,” after the club to be charged those amounts has “notice and an opportunity . . . to be heard.”

So what do these provisions mean, as it relates to the effort to collect more than $2 million from Jones?

First, the claim won’t be against Jones directly, but against the Cowboys. It’s a distinction without a difference, but the reports indicating that the effort will be targeted against Jones personally makes it feel more like revenge or retribution than it would be if the effort were reported more accurately as a claim only against the Cowboys.

Second, as it relates to the Jones’ effort to block the Commissioner’s contract extension via threat of litigation, no lawsuit was ever filed. Resolution FC-6 applies only when a member club “initiates, has a direct football-related financial interest in, or offers substantial assistance to any lawsuit or other legal, regulatory, or administrative proceeding.” The flurry of letters and communications that occur under the threat of a potential lawsuit (a common practice in civil litigation) do not constitute actual litigation. Thus, the Cowboys/Jones will be able to argue that none of the fees incurred in connection with his retention of lawyer David Boies and the back-and-forth arising from the mere possibility of litigation fall within the scope of Resolution FC-6.

Third, the Cowboys/Jones specifically refrained from becoming involved in the Ezekiel Elliott litigation. Team executive Stephen Jones characterized the team as “observers” in the litigation initially filed by Elliott in Texas, which was followed by the league filing a lawsuit of its own in New York.

Fourth, the question will become whether the Cowboys/Jones crossed the line into offering “substantial assistance” to Elliott via the declaration filed by Cowboys general counsel Jason Cohen (who testified that the Cowboys would suffer irreparable harm if Elliott is suspended and who corroborated the alleged effort to conceal the opinions of league investigator Kia Roberts from Goodell) or other specific help that the Cowboys provided.

Fifth, the Cowboys/Jones will have an opportunity, if they so desire, to pore over all of the various invoices and other itemizations of charges to argue that the lawyers charged too much for their services or otherwise engaged in unnecessary or irrelevant projects. If the details of any invoices showing excessive legal charges make their way into the hands of the media, that could prove to be embarrassing to the league.

Sixth, Resolution FC-6 specifically preserves the ability of the Commissioner to impose punishment against Jones for conduct detrimental to the league. Thus, the issue of legal fees may be not the end of this effort to recover money from Jones for his behavior in 2017, but the beginning.

Seventh, while Resolution FC-6 gives the Commissioner the sole power to determine the amount of fees to be paid, it’s silent as to the process for resolving the question of whether a member club has actually triggered the reimbursement obligation. Ultimately, then, the Cowboys/Jones eventually could file litigation aimed at proving that the Cowboys/Jones never filed litigation or substantially assisted litigation filed by Elliott.

Half of league spent above the cap in 2017

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Far more important than the annual salary cap is the actual cash spent each year, by every team. Last year, with the cap at $167 million, half of the teams spent more than the cap, and another half of the teams were under it.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, teams collectively spent $5.274 billion in 2017, an average of 98.69-percent of the total cap. The highest spenders were the Lions, at $204.46 million, or 122.4 percent of the cap.

At the other end were the Cowboys, who spent only $115.65 million. That’s only 69.26 percent of the cap.

The difference between cash and cap comes from prorated bonuses paid out in past year (for those currently spending under the cap in cash spending) or prorated bonuses paid out in the current year (for those currently spending over it).

Here’s the full list of cash spent in 2017:

1. Lions, $204.46 million (122.4 percent).

2. Panthers, $198.76 million (119.02 percent).

3. Packers, $183.23 million (109.72 percent).

4. Jaguars, $181.44 million (108.65 percent).

5. Dolphins, $179.43 million (107.44 percent).

6. Bears, $179.23 million (107.32 percent).

7. Browns, $177.1 million (106.05 percent).

8. 49ers, $174.57 million (104.53 percent).

9. Falcons, $173.88 million (104.12 percent).

10. Washington, $173.78 million (104.06 percent).

11. Raiders, $173.29 million (103.76 percent).

12. Vikings, $172.86 million (103.51 percent).

13. Eagles, $170.64 million (102.18 percent).

14. Patriots, $168.97 million (101.18 percent).

15. Seahawks, $168.61 million (100.96 percent).

16. Cardinals, $167.86 million (100.51 percent).

17. Steelers, $165.07 million (98.85 percent).

18. Titans, $164.24 million (98.35 percent).

19. Giants, $162.64 million (97.39 percent).

20. Bengals, $160.81 million (96.29 percent).

21. Chargers, $160.58 million (96.15 percent).

22. Rams, $159.2 million (95.33 percent).

23. Buccaneers, $156.87 million (93.93 percent).

24. Saints, $155.93 million (93.37 percent).

25. Broncos, $152.55 million (91.35 percent).

26. Bills, $150.59 million (90.15 percent).

27. Ravens, $149.28 million (89.39 percent).

28. Texans, $144.04 million (86.25 percent).

29. Colts, $143.41 million (85.88 percent).

30. Jets, $143.08 million (85.68 percent).

31. Chiefs, $141.99 million (85.02 percent).

32. Cowboys, $115.657 million (69.26 percent).