Cyrus Mehri begins meeting with players with first stop in Dallas

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In his bid for executive director of the NFLPA, attorney Cyrus Mehri will hold his first town hall meeting with NFL players Tuesday night in Dallas. It’s part of his attempt to win over players in his challenge to DeMaurice Smith.

John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, and former Cowboys player Bill Bates are among the former NFL players expected at the meeting.

“Every day we’re going to be fighting for players to have a choice, and to be able to determine their own destiny,” Mehri said Monday while stumping in Dallas. “There’s so much at stake in this election, because whoever wins gets to decide the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. Having a choice really matters when you can compare visions and platforms. I have a vision statement and a platform that’s on our website, and I haven’t heard any vision statement or platform from De Smith.”

Mehri, a civil rights lawyer who has won settlements for workers in discrimination cases against Coca-Cola and Texaco, has unveiled what he calls an “owner accountability campaign.” He insists he can get a fairer CBA without a work stoppage through consistent communication with Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL owners.

“His playbook is very limited,” Mehri said of Smith. “He’s now calling for a work stoppage four years down the road, which poses no threat at all to the NFL. Entering into a 10-year agreement with no opt-out rights enriches the owners, but doesn’t allow the players to either get a fair racket on the deal or to get out of some of these bad provisions. He’s let the owners get away with larceny.”

The NFLPA election is March 2018.

NFL releases statement after continued problems with Canadian streaming effort

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The NFL’s new streaming effort in Canada continued to encounter problems Sunday. The Toronto Sun called DAZN’s attempt at a live broadcast of the Thursday night game as “a disaster.”

Time delays and audio and video quality were among complaints of the DAZN stream, which has replaced the RedZone and Sunday Ticket packages from cable and satellite in Canada for all live broadcasts.

Michael Markovich, the NFL’s Vice President of International Media and Business, released a statement Monday, via John Kryk of the Sun: “We are aware of the issues that our fans may have faced this past week/weekend and apologize for the inadequate service. We are absolutely committed to working with DAZN to provide fans with the NFL experience they deserve. We are urgently assessing the information and data from the weekend, as well as closely monitoring tonight’s Monday Night Football double-header. With a full weekend of games behind us, we will then define the right next steps to best serve our Canadian fans.”

Matthew Stafford was money, and more Week One observations


I wasn’t sold on the Lions’ decision to make Matthew Stafford the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. Salary cap space is the most precious resource in the NFL, and when the Lions decided to devote more cap space over the next five years than any other team has devoted to any other player, I thought that was the kind of move that will have them unable to build a 53-man roster that can compete week in and week out.

Stafford has now played one game under that new contract, far too small a sample size to come to any definitive conclusions. But I must confess that he turned in exactly the kind of performance he’s going to need to make week in and week out to be worth that contract.

Despite throwing a pick-six on his first play of the season, Stafford was very good on Sunday against the Cardinals, finishing with 292 yards, four touchdowns and no more turnovers after that early interception. Stafford even picked up a big first down with a 15-yard run, and he was sacked only once despite the Lions’ offensive line being without starting left tackle Taylor Decker. He led the way as the Lions beat the Cardinals 35-23.

So can the Lions count on that kind of game from Stafford to become the norm? He certainly has a knack for leading the team to comeback wins: Last year the Lions won an NFL-record eight games that they trailed in the fourth quarter, and yesterday they had another fourth-quarter comeback, going from a 17-9 deficit to a 35-17 lead in less than 15 minutes of playing time. Still, I think Stafford needs to stop making those mistakes that give the Lions an early deficit before I’m ready to change my mind about the wisdom of the Lions signing him to that enormous contract.

After one week of the 2017 season, Stafford looks like he’s worth the money. Let’s see if we still feel that way in a few years.

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s games:

Sean McVay was my coach of the day. The Rams were just plain awful last year, averaging just 14 points a game, by far the worst in the NFL. And Jared Goff was the worst quarterback in the NFL, averaging just 155 passing yards a game. Yesterday, in McVay’s first game as the Rams’ head coach, they beat the Colts 46-9, and Goff totaled 306 passing yards despite not throwing much in the second half after L.A. jumped out to a big lead. Meanwhile, in Washington — the place McVay left to take the Rams job — the offense struggled mightily, turning the ball over four times in a 30-17 loss to the Eagles. The 31-year-old McVay is an offensive wunderkind, and he’s off to a great start in his first head-coaching job.

Tony Romo was my announcer of the day. I was thoroughly impressed with Romo in his broadcasting debut. He calls the game like the quarterback he was, identifying aspects of the defensive alignment and telling viewers what the quarterback is looking for. I loved seeing him circle a Titans defensive back and hearing him explain that that was who Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was keying on as he scanned the field — all before the ball was snapped. CBS took a chance on making Romo, who had never worked in broadcasting, its No. 1 analyst. But it appears that risk is going to pay off.

J.J. Watt had my quote of the day. After suffering a hand injury but continuing to play in yesterday’s loss to the Jaguars, Watt said afterward, “I felt fine. I messed up my finger a little bit, but other than that my body felt fine. Just busted the bone through the skin. Nothing bad, just tape it up.”

Thursday night’s game may be ugly. The Texans play the Bengals this week on Thursday Night Football, and that means we may see the two worst offenses in the league facing off. Cincinnati got shut out 20-0 by Baltimore, while Houston lost 29-7 to Jacksonville. With a Thursday night game like that, the NFL is going to have a hard time changing the perception that Thursday Night Football games are the worst games of the week. Said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis of his team’s performance yesterday, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been in such a disappointing football game.” Here’s hoping we don’t get just as disappointing a football game on Thursday night.

Kevin White is star-crossed. It’s hard not to feel bad for White, the Bears receiver who is expected to miss the rest of the season after suffering yet another injury yesterday. White, the seventh overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, has played in just five games and caught just 21 passes in his NFL career. Assuming he’s out the rest of this year, he’ll have missed 43 games to injuries through three NFL seasons.

Aaron Rodgers is the master of the free play. No quarterback has ever been as good as Rodgers at taking shots deep downfield when the defense commits a penalty. He’s a wizard at it. As soon as a Seahawk jumped offside in the third quarter on Sunday, Rodgers launched the ball toward the end zone, where Jordy Nelson ran under it for a 32-yard touchdown. When the opponents make a mistake like that against Rodgers, he makes them pay.

The Colts are a terrible franchise masquerading as a good franchise. Think back about how terrible the Colts were before they drafted Peyton Manning. Then think back about how terrible they were when Manning got hurt and missed a full season, allowing them to draft Andrew Luck. And now look at how terrible they were in yesterday’s loss to the Rams with Luck hurt. For the Colts to go into this season with no one better than Scott Tolzien to quarterback their team was beyond stupid. The Colts happened to have the No. 1 overall pick when Manning and Luck — the two best quarterback prospects of the last 30 years — entered the NFL draft. If not for those two No. 1 overall picks, we’d probably think about the Colts the same way we think about the Browns.

Week One early inactives

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Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. Check back to see the full list as it becomes available 90 minutes ahead of the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Jets at Bills

Jets: S Rontez Miles, TE Jordan Leggett, QB Bryce Petty, WR Jeremy Kerley, TE Neal Sterling, G Dakota Dozier, DB Derrick Jones

Bills: DT Jerel Worthy, LB Tanner Vallejo, WR Kaelin Clay, CB Greg Mabin, G Vladimir Ducasse, T Conor McDermott, TE Khari Lee

Falcons at Bears

Falcons: RB Brian Hill, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, WR Nick Williams, LB Jordan Tripp, T Austin Pasztor, S Sharrod Neasman, OL Sean Harlow

Bears: CB Prince Amukamara, QB Mark Sanchez, DL John Jenkins, G Kyle Long, WR Tre McBride, RB Taquan Mizzell, WR Markus Wheaton

Ravens at Bengals

Ravens: CB Sheldon Price, CB Jaylen Hall, LB Tim Williams, DT Willie Henry, OL Jermaine Eluemanor, DE Bronson Kaufusi, DE Chris Wormley

Bengals: TE C.J. Uzomah, S Shaun Williams, WR John Ross, G Alex Redmond, G Christian Westerman, WR Josh Malone, DT Christian Ringo

Steelers at Browns

Steelers: T Jerald Hawkins, QB Josh Dobbs, WR Justin Hunter, CB Brian Allen, LB Bud Dupree, G Matt Feiler, DT Daniel McCullers

Browns: QB Cody Kessler, WR Reggie Davis, OL Marcus Martin, OL Zach Banner, DL Myles Garrett, DL T.Y. McGill, DL Caleb Brantley

Cardinals at Lions

Cardinals: LB Deone Bucannon, QB Blaine Gabbert, DT Robert Nkemdiche, WR Chad Williams, LB Scooby Wright, OL Will Holden, T Ulrick John

Lions: WR Jared Abbrederis, CB Teez Tabor, RB Zach Zenner, RB Tion Green, OL Zac Kerin, T Corey Robinson, T Storm Norton

Jaguars at Texans

Jaguars: RB T.J. Yeldon, CB Jalen Myrick, S Calvin Pryor, LB Blair Brown, OL Josh Walker, OL William Poehls, DL Michael Bennett

Texans: RB Alfred Blue, WR Will Fuller, S Treston Decoud, DL Carlos Watkins, OL Kyle Fuller, LB Ufomba Kamalu, OL Julie'n Davenport

Raiders at Titans

Raiders: S Keith McGill, FB Jamize Olawale, CB Gareon Conley, QB Conner Cook, T Jylan Ware, OL David Sharpe, DL Darius Latham.

Titans: CB LeShaun Sims, DB Curtis Riley, LB Josh Carraway, LB Nate Palmer, OL Corey Levin, LB Kevin Dodd, DL David King

Eagles at Redskins

Eagles: WR Shelton Gibson, CB Rasul Douglas, RB Donnel Pumphrey, CB Dexter McDougle, DL Steven Means, OL Chance Warmack, DL Elijah Qualls

Redskins: RB Mack Brown, CB Joshua Holsey, G Tyler Catalina, OL T.J. Clemmings, DL Anthony Lanier, TE Jeremy Sprinkle, LB Josh Harvey-Clemons

The reasons for Ezekiel Elliott’s victory

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In an effort to block the Ezekiel Elliott suspension, Elliott and the NFLPA threw plenty of arguments at the judicial dart board. Ultimately, multiple needles stuck at or near the bull’s-eye.

Based on the 22-page ruling from Judge Amos L. Mazzant III, here are the facts that drove the decision that Elliott did not receive a fundamentally fair hearing throughout the league’s internal disciplinary and appeal process.

First, Judge Mazzant concluded that the concerns regarding the credibility of Tiffany Thompson demanded an opportunity by Elliott’s lawyers to cross-examine Thompson at the appeal hearing. Arbitrator Harold Henderson’s refusal to order the league to make Thompson available robbed the process of fundamental fairness to Elliott, in Judge Mazzant’s opinion.

Second, Judge Mazzant concluded that the confusion regarding the handling (and alleged concealment by the NFL) of the opinions and conclusions of NFL Director of Investigations Kia Roberts required Commissioner Roger Goodell to testify at the appeal hearing. Henderson’s refusal to compel Goodell’s attendance and testimony kept the process from being fundamentally fair to Elliott.

Third, Judge Mazzant believes Henderson should have ordered the NFL to produce the notes taken during the various interviews of Tiffany Thompson.

Finally, Judge Mazzant explains that it was the one thing Henderson required the league to do — produce Kia Roberts to testify — that set the stage for Elliott’s ability to prove his case. Here’s the key text from the opinion: “Consistent with its previous actions to suppress Roberts’s dissenting opinions, the NFL kept this sequence of events from the NFLPA and Elliott until the arbitration hearing. In fact, had the NFL succeeded in its overall goal, this sequence of events would still be concealed from Elliott and the NFLPA. The NFLPA filed a motion to compel the testimony of Roberts, and the NFL argued in response that her testimony was unnecessary, consistent with Friel’s testimony, and cumulative. . . . Luckily, the NFLPA found the fairness needle in the unfairness haystack and Henderson ordered Roberts to testify. The arbitration record shows that Roberts’s testimony was everything but unnecessary, consistent, and cumulative.”

These factors all led to a very strong conclusion from Judge Mazzant regarding Elliott’s likelihood of winning the case when a final ruling is issued: “The circumstances of this case are unmatched by any case this Court has seen. . . . Fundamental unfairness infected this case from the beginning, eventually killing any possibility that justice would be served.”

It is, without question, a home run for Elliott and the NFLPA. A federal judge has concluded, as Elliott alleged and many agreed, that the process lacks basic fairness to the player. While many like to claim that the NFLPA agreed to these procedures, the union did not agree to the implementation of these procedures in an unfair way. That’s why the availability of the court system becomes critical to the ultimate effort to secure for the players a degree of fairness that the league is clearly not committed to providing.

Week One injury report roundup

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Week One kicked off on Thursday with a Chiefs win and it continues with 12 more games on Sunday, which means that the 24 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.

Questionable players are uncertain to play, doubtful players are unlikely to play and out should be self-explanatory. Players who are on active rosters and don’t appear below should be considered healthy enough to play barring any announcements on Saturday. The teams playing on Monday night won’t release their injury reports until Saturday and are not listed here.

With that housekeeping out of the way, here are all the injury reports for Sunday.

Jets at Bills

The Jets will head to Buffalo without TE Jordan Leggett (knee) and S Rontez Miles (eye).

Bills LB Tanner Vallejo (knee) and DT Jerel Worthy (concussion) have been ruled out of Sunday’s game.

Falcons at Bears

Falcons RB Brian Hill (ankle) will not play and T Austin Pasztor (chest) has been listed as questionable.

Bears CB Prince Amukamara (ankle) is doubtful to play after missing practice all week. G Kyle Long (ankle) and WR Markus Wheaton (finger) practiced the last two days and both have been listed as questionable. LB Pernell McPhee (knee) is also listed as questionable.

Ravens at Bengals

The Ravens ruled out CB Jaylen Hill (thigh) and listed CB Sheldon Price (concussion) as doubtful. QB Joe Flacco (back) doesn’t appear on the injury report at all, leaving him set to start after missing the entire preseason.

Bengals WR John Ross (knee) is questionable and the first-round pick was able to practice the last two days. TE C.J. Uzomah (ankle) and S Shawn Williams (elbow) are both out this Sunday.

Steelers at Browns

LB Bud Dupree (shoulder) missed Steelers practice Friday and drew a questionable tag. T Jerald Hawkins (knee) has been ruled out.

Browns DE Myles Garrett (ankle) is out after getting injured in Thursday’s practice. DT Danny Shelton (knee) is questionable to play.

Cardinals at Lions

The Cardinals ruled out LB Deone Bucannon (ankle). G Mike Iupati (tricep) and DT Robert Nkemdiche (calf) are listed as questionable. Both players participated in practice on a limited basis this week.

Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah (knee), WR Kenny Golladay (ankle) and T Corey Robinson (foot) were all listed as questionable for the first game of the season.

Jaguars at Texans

S Tashaun Gipson (ankle) and RB T.J. Yeldon (hamstring) are listed as questionable for the Jaguars. The Jags also ruled out WR Dede Westbrook (core muscle) before placing him on injured reserve later in the day.

The Texans ruled out RB Alfred Blue (ankle) and WR Will Fuller (shoulder).

Raiders at Titans

The Raiders will open the season without the services of S Keith McGill (foot) and RB Jamize Olawale (quadricep). CB Gareon Conley (shin), LB Cory James (knee) and K Sebastian Janikowski (back) are all listed as questionable.

CB LeShaun Sims (groin) won’t play for the Titans, leaving first-round pick Adoree' Jackson to get the start in his first regular season game.

Eagles at Redskins

The Eagles open the season without any injury concerns.

LB Ryan Anderson (stinger, neck), WR Jamison Crowder (hip) and C Spencer Long (knee) are listed as questionable for the Redskins.

Colts at Rams

QB Andrew Luck (right shoulder) headlines a list of five Colts who have been ruled out of the opener. CB Vontae Davis (groin), C Ryan Kelly (foot), WR Chester Rogers (hamstring) and G Ian Silberman (lumbar) round out the group.

The Rams will get the season off to a healthy start as they have no players listed on the injury report.

Seahawks at Packers

Seahawks LB Michael Wilhoite (calf) is unlikely to play after being tagged as doubtful. DE Frank Clark (wrist), S Delano Hill (shoulder), WR Tyler Lockett (knee), RB Thomas Rawls (ankle), DT Jarran Reed (shoulder) and CB Richard Sherman (thigh) are all listed as questionable.

DE Montravius Adams (foot) won’t play for the Packers while T Bryan Bulaga (ankle) is questionable, although his chances of playing look good after a practice week without setbacks.

Panthers at 49ers

The Panthers listed QB Cam Newton (right shoulder) as questionable, but coach Ron Rivera said he’s going to play. CB Cole Luke (ankle) and LB Jared Norris (groin) won’t play and DT Vernon Butler (knee) is unlikely to play after drawing a doubtful tag. DE Daeshon Hall (knee), DT Kyle Love (ankle) and WR Curtis Samuel (ankle) are listed as questionable.

TE George Kittle (hamstring), LB Aaron Lynch (back) and CB Jimmie Ward (hamstring) are all listed as questionable by the 49ers.

Giants at Cowboys

Giants WR Odell Beckham (ankle) is a 50-50 call after being listed as questionable. LB Keenan Robinson (concussion) will not play.

LB Anthony Hitchens (ankle) is out for the Cowboys. Rookie CB Jourdan Lewis (hamstring) is listed as questionable.

PFT’s 2017 season predictions

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It’s that time of year again, the dawn of the regular season, the time for us to make predictions in early September that will probably look stupid in early February.

Last year, none of us picked the Patriots to win the Super Bowl, and none of us even picked the Falcons to make the playoffs. So if you’re basing your own bets on ours, well, you’d probably be better off just buying a lottery ticket.

But for entertainment purposes only, here are our picks:

Josh Alper


1. Patriots 2. Steelers 3. Raiders 4. Titans 5. Bengals 6. Chargers

Wild card: Raiders over Chargers, Titans over Bengals

Divisional round: Raiders over Steelers, Pats over Titans

Conference championship: Pats over Raiders


1. Seahawks 2. Packers 3. Giants 4. Falcons 5. Saints 6. Cardinals

Wild card: Saints over Falcons, Giants over Cards

Divisional round: Seahawks over Saints, Giants over Pack

Conference championship: Seahawks over Giants

Super Bowl: Pats over Seahawks

Curtis Crabtree


1. Patriots; 2. Steelers; 3. Titans; 4. Raiders; 5. Texans; 6. Chiefs

Wild card: Titans over Chiefs, Raiders over Texans

Divisional round: Patriots over Raiders, Steelers over Titans

Conference championship: Patriots over Steelers


1. Packers; 2. Seahawks; 3. Falcons; 4. Eagles; 5. Cowboys; 6. Buccaneers

Wild card: Buccaneers over Falcons, Eagles over Cowboys

Divisional round: Packers over Buccaneers, Seahawks over Eagles

Conference championship: Seahawks over Packers

Super Bowl: Patriots over Seahawks

Mike Florio


1. Patriots, 2. Steelers, 3. Broncos, 4. Titans, 5. Chiefs, 6. Texans

Wild card: Broncos over Texans, Titans over Chiefs

Divisional round: Patriots over Titans, Steelers over Broncos

Conference Championship: Patriots over Steelers


1. Packers, 2. Seahawks, 3. Panthers, 4. Eagles, 5. Giants, 6. Saints

Wild card: Panthers over Saints, Giants over Eagles.

Divisional round: Packers over Giants, Seahawks over Panthers.

Conference Championship: Packers over Seahawks.

Super Bowl: Patriots over Packers.

Darin Gantt


1. Patriots; 2. Titans; 3. Raiders; 4. Steelers; 5. Chiefs; 6. Texans.

Wild card: Raiders over Texans, Steelers over Chiefs.

Divisional round: Patriots over Steelers, Raiders over Titans

Conference Championship: Patriots over Raiders


1. Packers; 2. Giants; 3. Seahawks; 4. Panthers; 5. Lions; 6. Falcons

Wild card: Seahawks over Falcons, Panthers over Lions

Divisional round: Packers over Panthers, Seahawks over Giants.

Conference championship: Seahawks over Packers

Super Bowl: Patriots over Seahawks

Michael David Smith


1. Patriots, 2. Chiefs, 3. Steelers, 4. Titans, 5. Texans, 6. Raiders

Wild card: Steelers over Raiders, Titans over Texans

Divisional round: Chiefs over Steelers, Patriots over Titans

Conference championship: Chiefs over Patriots


1. Packers, 2. Seahawks, 3. Buccaneers, 4. Cowboys, 5. Giants, 6. Falcons

Wild card: Buccaneers over Falcons, Giants over Cowboys

Divisional round: Packers over Giants, Seahawks over Buccaneers

Conference championship: Seahawks over Packers

Super Bowl: Seahawks over Chiefs

Charean Williams


1. Patriots, 2. Raiders, 3. Steelers, 4. Texans, 5. Titans, 6. Bengals

Wild card: Steelers over Bengals, Titans over Texans

Divisional round: Raiders over Steelers, Patriots over Titans

Conference championship: Raiders over Patriots


1. Packers, 2. Cardinals, 3. Giants, 4. Bucs, 5. Seahawks, 6. Cowboys

Wild card: Giants over Cowboys, Seahawks over Bucs

Divisional round: Packers over Seahawks, Cardinals over Giants

Conference championship: Cardinals over Packers

Super Bowl: Raiders over Cardinals

PFT’s Week One picks

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Tonight tonight it’s coming tonight hot damn tonight.

Football season is back, baby. And the PFT Picks contest is back, too. And with three disagreements between Master Pickers MDS and yours truly, one of us will be in the lead after Week One.

And it will be be.

For picks on all 15 Week One games, let it scroll.

Chiefs at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Patriots are the best team in football. They were last year, and they’re the favorites to be the best this year as well. I have a hunch the Chiefs might just be better than the Patriots by the end of the season, but not in Week One.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Chiefs 17.

Florio’s take: Chiefs coach Andy Reid thrives with the extra time that a bye provides. He’s had the most possible time to get ready for this one. And the Patriots don’t know how Reid will deploy Tyreek Hill. And it’s easier to get past the New England offensive line in September. And the receiver who shares a brain with Tom Brady is done for the year. And ultimately none of it matters because the Patriots are still the Patriots and Tom Brady is still Tom Brady and they’re hanging Banner No. 5.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Chiefs 17.

Jets at Bills

MDS’s take: I’m not sure exactly what the difference between “building for the future” and “tanking” is, but I think it might be something like the difference between the Bills and the Jets: Buffalo has traded players away from future picks but still looks like it can be a competent team, while the Jets just look terrible.

MDS’s pick: Bills 17, Jets 7.

Florio’s take: The Bills aren’t great. The Jets aren’t good. #Analysis.

Florio’s pick: Bills 24, Jets 9.

Falcons at Bears

MDS’s take: The Falcons are favored by a touchdown, and I’m tempted to pick the Bears in a big upset, but I just . . . can’t quite pull the trigger. This is a closer game than people think, but the Falcons will pull it out late.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Bears 23.

Florio’s take: If the Falcons can build a 28-3 lead over Chicago, they won’t be blowing it to the Bears. And, yes, I reserve the right to make a 28-3 reference every week in the picks. Even when the Falcons are on a bye.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 28, Bears 3.

Ravens at Bengals

MDS’s take: This is one of those “I’m not sure who’s better” Week One games where I just pick the home team in a close one.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 23, Ravens 20.

Florio’s take: The Bengals and Ravens both missed the playoffs in 2016, and chances are at least one of them will miss the playoffs again in 2017. Which could put each head coach in grave danger — Baltimore coach John Harbaugh’s recent one-year contract extension notwithstanding. The home team gets the edge, in part because Joe Flacco missed all of training camp and the preseason with a back problem, and because plenty of other injuries have ravaged the Ravens.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 23, Ravens 17.

Steelers at Browns

MDS’s take: I like the way the Browns are building, but they’re still a year away from contending in the AFC North. On Sunday they’ll begin their march to a seventh consecutive last-place finish.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 31, Browns 17.

Florio’s take: The prospect of the Browns upsetting the Steelers with a rookie quarterback and an overmatched roster is fascinating. But Le’Veon Bell is back, Martavis Bryant is back, Myles Garrett is injured, and the Steelers remain the best team in the division. They didn’t get there by losing games they should win.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 27, Browns 14.

Cardinals at Lions

MDS’s take: The Lions’ defense is going to be a mess again this year, and Matthew Stafford‘s new contract means they’re not going to have a lot of cap space to fix it.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 35, Lions 27.

Florio’s take: Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says his team lost its swagger in Week One last year by losing a close game at home to the Patriots. Which underscores the importance of getting the swagger back by knocking off a playoff team in its own building to start the season. To do that, the Cardinals will have to corral Ameer Abdullah, the running back Arizona coveted before Detroit got him. The Cards settled for David Johnson. It worked out.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 30, Lions 20.

Jaguars at Texans

MDS’s take: Houston’s defense should make life hell for Blake Bortles. Life is probably already hell for Blake Bortles, but you know what I mean.

MDS’s pick: Texans 13, Jaguars 6.

Florio’s take: Despite a persistent sense that the Jaguars are on the verge of breaking out, Blake Bortles has regressed and rookie running back Leonard Fournette may lack the durability to justify his top-five draft status. The Texans, on the other hand, have thrived with subpar quarterback play in the past, and they’re ready to take the next step. The first step will entail dispensing with a division rival in a regular-season debut played before a stadium that will be packed with a throng of grateful Houston fans and far louder than it was in February when the Patriots were capping a comeback for the ages.

Florio’s pick: Texans 34, Jaguars 20.

Raiders at Titans

MDS’s take: I’m expecting the Raiders to take a step backward this year, and Marcus Mariota to take a step forward. Tennessee takes this one.

MDS’s pick: Titans 24, Raiders 16.

Florio’s take: Arguably one of the best games of the weekend, the Titans are expected to parlay a strong 2016 into their first playoff berth since 2008 and the Raiders are expected to follow their first playoff berth since 2002 into something much bigger. Oakland has had plenty of turmoil during camp and the preseason, and the Titans quietly have been laying the bricks for what could be a very good season.

Florio’s pick: Titans 23, Raiders 20.

Eagles at Washington

MDS’s take: Kirk Cousins begins his run toward a huge contract with a good game against a divisional rival. Washington wins this one at home.

MDS’s pick: Washington 28, Eagles 21.

Florio’s take: Philly is a 1.5-point road favorite for a reason. The reason is the Eagles are on the rise, and Washington may be on the decline. The Philly receivers are better, the Washington receivers are worse, and that may be enough of a difference to swing this one.

Florio’s pick: Eagles 24, Washington 20.

Colts at Rams

MDS’s take: Are you excited for the Jared Goff vs. Scott Tolzien quarterback matchup? I’ll take Goff’s guys to win at home.

MDS’s pick: Rams 20, Colts 17.

Florio’s take: If L.A. getting football back means L.A. witnessing Scott Tolzien and Jared Goff, maybe L.A. is better off without football.

Florio’s pick: Rams 24, Colts 10.

Seahawks at Packers

MDS’s take: This could be an NFC Championship Game preview, and we may look back in 17 weeks and say it was the game that swung home-field advantage. I like the Seahawks to take this game in a slight upset.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 17, Packers 16.

Florio’s take: The Seahawks haven’t fared well in Green Bay, and the Packers are primed for another Super Bowl run. Although most Week One games aren’t oozing with meaning, this one could determine the site of the rematch.

Florio’s pick: Packers 28, Seahawks 24.

Panthers at 49ers

MDS’s take: The Panthers are coming off a disappointing season, but a Week One date with the 49ers is just the thing to get them back on track.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 27, 49ers 20.

Florio’s take: If the 49ers only played in Week One, they’d never lose a game. This Week One, they will, thanks to a Panthers team that is suddenly underrated two years after going 15-1.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 23, 49ers 17.

Giants at Cowboys

MDS’s take: With or without Ezekiel Elliott, I expect the Cowboys to have a strong offense this season, as Dak Prescott takes a step forward and establishes himself as one of the league’s top quarterbacks. It starts with a big Week one win in prime time.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 30, Giants 20.

Florio’s take: The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday night. But they had him last year for both games against the Giants, and the Giants beat the Cowboys both times. With seven months to prepare for facing quarterback Dak Prescott and 40-percent turnover on the offensive line and major changes to the Dallas defense and a major distraction coming from Elliott’s suspension, the Giants continue to mimic Jerry Jones in their ownership of the Cowboys.

Florio’s pick: Giants 24, Cowboys 20.

Saints at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Vikings’ defense will shut down Adrian Peterson in his return to Minnesota, and the Vikings’ offense will control the ball just well enough to keep Drew Brees from a lights out game. The Vikings will open 1-0.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Saints 14.

Florio’s take: Adrian Peterson returns to Minnesota but he may not get many opportunities to stick it to the home team. The real question is whether the Vikings offense can stick it to a traditionally overmatched New Orleans defense. At home, they can.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 30, Saints 24.

Chargers at Broncos

MDS’s take: It’s going to be a long year for the Chargers in their new home. It’s going to start with a long night away from home.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 20, Chargers 10.

Florio’s take: The newest arrival in L.A. has become a trendy pick to make it to the playoffs. Hey, experts, they only changed cities, not divisions.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 27, Chargers 17.

23 players from 16 teams suspended this week

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Ezekiel Elliott remains eligible to play this week, but the Cowboys will miss two other suspended players against the Giants. Twenty-three players on 16 teams have suspended players, according to research by Howard Balzer of Pro Football Xchange.

The suspensions range from one game to 10 for violations of policies for substance abuse, performance-enhancing drugs, personal conduct or repeated violations of NFL safety rules. Those players will miss a total of 85 games. Another 15 free agents also are suspended a total of 56 games.

Balzer’s list does not include players like Dallas defensive end Randy Gregory, who was suspended for at least one year, or Falcons defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman, who is on the commissioner’s exempt list as the result of a domestic violence incident from 2016.

Following is a team-by-team list of players placed on reserve/suspended to start the season:

Atlanta: Cornerback Jalen Collins (10).

Baltimore: Running back Kenneth Dixon (4).

Buffalo: Tackle Seantrel Henderson (5), receiver Walter Powell (4).

Cincinnati: Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (3), CB Adam Jones (1).

Dallas: Defensive ends David Irving (4), Damontre Moore (2).

Detroit: Defensive end Armonty Bryant (4), defensive tackle Khyri Thornton (6).

Green Bay: Receiver Geronimo Allison (1).

Houston: Receiver Jaelen Strong (1).

L.A. Chargers: Defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi (1), center Max Tuerk (4).

L.A. Rams: Cornerback Troy Hill (20), receiver Mike Thomas (4).

Miami: Safety T.J. McDonald (8).

Minnesota: Receiver Michael Floyd (4).

New Orleans: Receiver Willie Snead (3).

N.Y. Jets: Receiver Jalin Marshall (4), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (2).

Tampa Bay: Running back Doug Martin (3).

Washington: Linebacker Trent Murphy (4).

24 trades involving 29 players in past week

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If it seems the NFL has seen more than its share of trades this year, it has. The action has come fast and furious in a league once known as the No Trade League, with phone lines burning up among General Managers.

According to Howard Balzer of Pro Football Xchange, the NFL has seen 24 trades involving 29 players over the past week. That includes 12 trades involving 14 players Saturday, and the day still isn’t over.

Seventeen teams were involved in trades before Saturday and another eight teams joined the fun Saturday. That means only the Bears, Packers, Texans, Chargers, Dolphins, Raiders and Bucs didn’t make a trade.

Last year, in the week of cuts to 75 and then 53, the league had 11 trades involving 13 players.

PFT’s 2017 NFC 53-man roster cuts tracker

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[Editor’s note: We’re keeping track of the moves as NFC teams make them this weekend, as they have to get to their 53-man roster limit by Saturday at 4 p.m. Due to a rule change this year, there was no interim cut to 75 players so there will be a lot of moves to keep track of this time around. Check back throughout the weekend, as we’ll update throughout.]


Traded a conditional draft pick to Bengals for cornerback Bene Benwikere. Released quarterback Kellen Moore. Released safety Robert Blanton, tackle Emmett Cleary and quarterback Luke McCown. Waived defensive end Richard Ash, defensive end Woody Baron, running back Brandon Brown-Dukes, receiver Brian Brown, center Ross Burbank cornerback Dejaun Butler, defensive tackle Jordan Carrell, guard Kadeem Edwards, linebacker Kennan Gilchrist, cornerback John Green, receiver Karel Hamilton, punter Sam Irwin-Hill, defensive tackle Joey Ivie, tight end Blake Jarwin, receiver Andy Jones, linebacker Joseph Jones, defensive end Lenny Jones, receiver Lance Lenoir, defensive end Darnell Leslie, linebacker Lamar Louis, tight end M.J. McFarland, defensive end Lewis Neal, receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu, cornerback Sammy Seamster, safety Jameill Showers, guard Dan Skipper, guard, Nate Theaker, cornerback Marquez White and long snapper Zach Wood. Placed running back Duke Thomas on injured reserve. Placed defensive ends Damontre Moore and David Irving on the reserve/suspended list. Reached an injury settlement with offensive tackle Clay DeBord.

New York Giants

Placed safety Duke Ihenacho on injured reserve. Waived safety Eric Pinkins, linebackers Chris Casher and Steven Daniels, cornerbacks Tay Glover-Wright, Tim Scott and Daniel Gray, receiver C.J. Germany and offensive lineman Richard Levy. Released quarterback Josh Johnson. Released kicker Mike Nugent and tight end Will Tye. Placed linebacker Mark Herzlich on injured reserve. Traded conditional 2018 draft choice to Steelers for cornerback Ross Cockrell. Cut running back Shaun Draughn, defensive end Devin Taylor, tackle Adam Bisnowaty. Cut running back Khalid Abdullah; fullback Jacob Huesman; receivers Travis Rudolph, Jerome Lane, Canaan Severin, Marquis Bundy and Ed Eagan; offensive linemen Jon Halapio, Jarron Jones and Matt Rotheram; defensive linemen Jordan Williams and Bobby Richardson; linebackers Stansly Maponga, Deontae Skinner, and Curtis Grant; cornerbacks Donte Deayon, DaShaun Amos and Nigel Tribune; and safeties Ryan Murphy and Trey Robinson. Placed defensive tackle Josh Banks on injured reserve.


Placed cornerback Sidney Jones on the reserve/non-football injury list. Waived receiver Paul Turner with an injury settlement. Waived quarterback Matt McGloin, linebacker Don Cherry, defensive tackle Winston Craig, receiver Rashard Davis, tight end Anthony Denham, quarterback Dane Evans, linebacker Carlos Fields, cornerback Aaron Grymes, defensive end Jake Metz, center Tyler Orlosky, offensive tackle Victor Salako, linebacker Christian Tago, defensive tackle Gabe Wright and tight end Adam Zaruba. Waived wide receiver Bryce Treggs, offensive lineman Josh Andrews, tight end Billy Brown, linebacker Nathan Gerry, tackle Dillon Gordon, guard Darrell Greene, defensive tackle Justin Hamilton, tackle Taylor Hart, punter Cameron Johnston, running back Byron Marshall, center Aaron Neary, cornerback C.J. Smith, wide receiver Greg Ward and cornerback Jomal Wiltz. Waived/injured defensive end Alex McCalister and safety Tre Sullivan. Released guard Dallas Thomas.


Released safety Will Blackmon. Waived running back Matt Jones. Traded tight end Derek Carrier to Rams for 2018 seventh-round pick. Waived or released defensive lineman A.J. Francis, defensive lineman Brandon Banks, tight end E.J. Bibbs, center Lucas Crowley, wide receiver Robert Davis, tight end Manasseh Garner, wide receiver Maurice Harris, wide receiver Matt Hazel, running back Kenny Hilliard, cornerback Tevin Homer, wide receiver Levern Jacobs, guard Kyle Kalis, tackle John Kling, guard Arie Kouandjio, linebacker Nico Marley, defensive linemen Joey Mbu, cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon, offensive lineman Kendall Pace, tackle Vinston Painter, wide receiver Zach Pascal, center Ronald Patrick, defensive lineman Ondre Pipkins, wide receiver James Quick, linebacker Pete Robertson, safety Fish Smithson, wide receiver Jamari Staples, linebacker Ron Thompson, linebacker Lynden Trail, linebacker Zach Vigil and offensive lineman Isaiah Williams. Placed defensive tackle Phil Taylor on injured reserve. Placed safety DeAngelo Hall on PUP.


Released linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. Released wide receiver Victor Cruz. Will put linebacker Lamarr Houston on injured reserve. Released defensive end Jaye Howard, linebacker Dan Skuta, cornerback B.W. Webb, center Taylor Boggs, nose tackle John Jenkins, defensive end C.J. Wilson and cornerback Johnthan Banks. Placed wide receiver Cameron Meredith, linebacker Lamarr Houston, running back Ka'Deem Carey, safety Chris Prosinski and guard Jordan Morgan on injured reserve. Waived kicker Roberto Aguayo; quarterback Connor Shaw; wide receivers Tanner Gentry, Daniel Braverman,Titus Davis and Alton Howard; linebackers Jonathan Anderson, John Timu andIsaiah Irving; safeties Harold Jones-Quartey and DeAndre Houston-Carson; running back Joshua Rounds; tackles Brandon Greene and Dieugot Joseph; guards Mitchell Kirsch, Will Poehls and Cyril Richardson; tight end MyCole Pruitt; fullback Freddie Stevenson; nose tackle Rashaad Coward and cornerback Rashaad Reynolds.


Released safety Alex Carter. Traded CB Johnson Bademosi to the Patriots. Released running back Matt Asiata. Waived guard Connor Bozick, defensive end Giorgio Newberry, wide receiver Dez Stewart and cornerback Tramain Jacobs. Waived quarterback Brad Kaaya. Placed tackle Taylor Decker on PUP list. Placed punter Sam Martin on NFI list. Placed defensive linemen Khyri Thornton and Armonty Bryant on suspended list. Released tackle Nick Becton. Waived linebacker Thurston Armbrister, cornerback Adairius Barnes, wide receiver Jace Billingsley, defensive tackle Ego Ferguson, wide receiver Dontez Ford, center Leo Koloamatangi, tight end Khari Lee, defensive tackle Derrick Lott, defensive tackle Caushaud Lyons, safety Rolan Milligan, tackle Storm Norton, defensive end Pat O'Connor, tight end Scott Orndoff, wide receiver Michael Rector, wide receiver Noel Thomas, cornerback Josh Thornton, tight end Robert Tonyan, tight end Cole Wick and linebacker Antwione Williams.

Green Bay

Waived wide receivers DeAngelo Yancey, Malachi DupreMax McCaffreyMichael Clark and Montay Crockett; quarterbacks Joe Callahan and Taysom Hill; running back Kalif Phillips; fullback Joe Kerridge; tight ends Aaron Peck and Emmanuel Byrd; offensive linemen Thomas EvansAdam PankeyGeoff GrayRobert Leff and Kofi Amichia; defensive linemen Brian Price, Calvin Heurtelou and Izaah Lunsford; linebackers Jonathan Calvin, Josh LetuligasenoaReggie GilbertDerrick MathewsCody Heiman and Jordan Tripp; cornerbacks Daquan Holmes, Donatello Brown and Raysean Pringle; and safeties Aaron Taylor and Jermaine Whitehead. Placed linebacker Vince Biegel and cornerback Demetri Goodson on PUP. Placed wide receiver Geronimo Allison on suspended list. Placed linebacker David Talley on injured reserve.


Placed defensive tackle Datone Jones on injured reserve. Put quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on the physically unable to perform list, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd on reserve/non-football injury, and wide receiver Michael Floyd on reserve/suspended. They released guard Willie Beavers, wide receiver Moritz Böhringer, guard Alex Boone, defensive tackle Dylan Bradley, cornerback Sam Brown, tight end Kyle Carter, defensive tackle Chunky Clements, offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings, linebacker Noor Davis, tackle Reid Fragel, wide receiver Isaac Fruechte, quarterback Taylor Heinicke (Injured), running back Bronson Hill, wide receiver Cayleb Jones, guard Zac Kerin, kicker Marshall Koehn, linebcker Elijah Lee, quarterback Mitch Leidner, defensive end Sam McCaskill, running back Terrell Newby, defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo, cornerback Jabari Price,  tight end Josiah Price, cornerback Horace Richardson, cornerback Tre Roberson, linebacker Edmond Robinson, wide receiver R.J. Shelton (Injured), tackle Austin Shepherd, cornerback Terrell Sinkfield, defensive tackle Will Sutton, punter Taylor Symmank, guard Freddie Tagaloa, safety Jack Tocho and Nick Truesdell.


Began the process with 14 cuts Friday, releasing quarterback Alek Torgersen, wide receivers Anthony Dable and Josh Magee, running back Kelvin Taylor, fullback Tyler Renew, centers Travis Averill and Larson Graham, tackles Andreas Knappe and D.J. Tialavea, defensive end A.J. Jefferson, cornerbacks Jarnor Jones and Akeem King, linebacker Jack Lynn, and kicker Mike Meyer. Placed defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman on Commissioner Exempt list. Placed cornerback Jalen Collins on suspended list. Placed safety Quincy Mauger on injured reserve. Waived quarterback Matt Simms, defensive end Martin Ifedi, linebacker Josh Keyes, running back Jhurell Pressley, wide receiver Reggie Davis, wide receiver Marvin Hall, wide receiver Deante Burton, tight end Darion Griswold, tight end Joshua Perkins, center Cornelius Edison, tackle Daniel Brunskill, defensive end Joe Vellano, defensive end J’Terius Jones, defensive end Chris Odom, defensive tackle Taniela Tupou and safety Marcelis Branch.


The Panthers waived safety Dezmen Southward, linebacker Ben Boulware, linebacker Zeek Bigger, wide receiver Austin Duke, defensive tacakle Eric Crume, quarterback Garrett Gilbert, running back Jalen Simmons, wide receiver Keyarris Garrett, wide receiver Mose Frazier, defensive end Bryan Cox, Jr., tackle Blaine Clausell , defensive end Zach Moore, defensive end Larry Webster, defensive tackle Toby Johnson, tight end Eric Wallace, cornerback Jeff Richards, safety Damian Parms, tight end Bryce Williams, cornerback Devonte Johnson, defensive tackle Gabriel Mass, defensive end Arthur Miley, center Brian Folkerts, defensive tackle Connor Wujciak and defensive end Efe Obada. They also terminated the contracts of veterans punter Andy Lee, quarterback Joe Webb, wide receiver Trevor Graham, and fullback Darrel Young, waived-injured cornerback Zack Sanchez. They also placed nine on injured reserve: wide receiver Brenton Bersin, center Gino Gradkowski, guard Chris Scott, safety L.J. McCray, tackle Dan France, guard David Yankey, cornerback Teddy Williams, wide receiver Fred Ross and tight end Scott Simsonson.

New Orleans

Released offensive tackle Khalif Barnes. Released linebacker Michael Mauti, linebacker Audie Cole and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel. Placed linebacker Bryan Braman and wide receiver Corey Fuller on injured reserve. Waived tight end Braedon Bowman, defensive back Malik Foreman, wide receiver De’Quan Hampton, defensive back Erik Harris, defensive tackle Ashaad Mabry, defensive back Elijah Mitchell, defensive back Damian Swann, tackle Jerry Ugokwe, linebacker Jonathan Walton and defensive tackle Justin Zimmer.

Tampa Bay

Released defensive end George Johnson on Friday. Waived kicker Zach Hocker, wide receiver Shaq Hill, defensive lineman Mehdi Abdesmad, offensive lineman Josh Allen, tight end Tevin Westbrook, linebacker Richie Brown and cornerback Mariel Cooper. Placed defensive linemen DaVonte Lambert and Stevie Tu'ikolovatu on injured reserve and released long snapper Andrew DePaola. Placed running back Doug Martin on reserve/suspended, released veteran long snapper Garrison Sanborn, and waived-injured quarterback Sefo Liufau. They waived defensive end Mehdi Abdesmad, offensive lineman Josh Allen, defensive end Sterling Bailey, defensive end Tarvaris Barnes, linebacker Richie Brown, linebacker Riley Bullough, cornerback Mariel Cooper, wide receiver Donteea Dye, defensive end Hendrick Ekpe, running back Russell Hansbrough, cornerback Vernon Harris, guard Jarvis Harrison, wide receiver Shaq Hill, kicker Zach Hocker, wide receiver Josh Huff, safety Marqueston Huff, fullback Austin Johnson, safety Isaiah Johnson, tackle Korren Kirven, linebacker Jeff Knox, offensive lineman Mike Liedtke, tackle Marquis Lucas, wide receiver Freddie Martino, running back Jeremy McNichols, cornerback Jonathan Moxey, linebacker Eric Nzeocha, defensive back Cody Riggs, guard James Stone, wide receiver Derel Walker, tight end Tevin Westbrook, and wide receiver Bobo Wilson.


Released running back Chris Johnson. Released receiver Carlton Agudosi, defensive tackle Peli Anau, linebacker Alex Bazzie, linebacker Cap Capi, cornerback Jarell Carter, tight end Gerald Christian, safety Ironhead Gallon, linebacker Zaviar Gooden, cornerback Gump Hayes, receiver Krishawn Hogan, receiver Chris Hubert, guard Dorian Johnson, guard Kaleb Johnson, quarterback Trevor Knight, linebacker Ryan Langford, punter Richie Leone, cornerback Ryan Lewis, tackle Jonathan McLaughlin, cornerback/safety Harlan Miller, defensive tackle David Moala, tackle Givens Price, receiver Jeremy Ross, tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, cornerback Sojourn Shelton, running back James Summers, defensive tackle Pasoni Tasini, guard Cole Toner, tight end Hakeem Valles, lienbacker Terence Waugh and linebacker Scooby Wright. Placed receiver Aaron Dobson on injured reserve. Waived/injured defensive tackle Ed Stinson. Reached injury settlements with linebacker Tre'von Johnson and linebacker Jarvis Jones.

Los Angeles Rams

Released tight end Corey Harkey and quarterback Dan Orlovsky. Placed tight end Temarrick Hemingway on injured reserve. Placed running back Lance Dunbar on Reserve/PUP. Waived defensive tackle Omarius Bryant, receiver K.D. Cannon, offensive lineman Parker Collins, kicker Travis Coons, cornerback Carlos Davis, linebacker Kevin Davis, offensive lineman Michael Dunn, offensive lineman Jake Eldrenkamp, linebacker Josh Forrest, defensive back Tyquwan Glass, running back Aaron Green, defensive back Isaiah Johnson, defensive back Michael Jordan, offensive lineman Alex Kozan, outside linebacker Willie Mays, outside linebacker Cassanova McKinzy, receiver Paul McRoberts, outside linebacker Andy Mulmuba, offensive lineman Pace Murphy, linebacker Folarin Orimolade, defensive back Aarion Penton, nose tackle Mike Purcell, fullback Sam Rogers, receiver Shakeir Ryan, defensive tackle Casey Sayles, receiver Brandon Shippen, receiver Nelson Spruce, outside linebacker Carlos Thompson, running back Lenard Tillery, outside linebacker Davis Tull, guard Wichmann and tight end Travis Wilson.

San Francisco

Released receiver Jeremy Kerley. Released quarterback Matt Barkley. Released running back Tim Hightower, center Tim Barnes, cornerback Will Davis, defensive end Leger Douzable, offensive lineman Andrew Gardner and wide receiver Louis Murphy. Waived running back Kapri Bibbs, offensive lineman Andrew Lauderdale, fullback Tyler McCloskey, wide receiver Tim Patrick, offensive lineman Norman Price, kicker Nick Rose, linebacker Shayne Skov and safety Vinnie Sunseri. Waived/injured cornerbacks Will Redmond and Prince Charles Iworah. Placed safety Don Jones on injured reserve. Released defensive lineman Quinton Dial. Placed running back Joe Williams on injured reserve.


Traded wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and 2018 second-round pick to Jets for defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. Released defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin. Traded defensive end Cassius Marsh to New England for 2018 seventh-round pick.

Got down to 53 by waiving QB Trevone Boykin, T Darrell Brown, LB Rodney Butler, RB Alex Collins, RB Mike Davis, WR Cyril Grayson, DT Tylor Harris, C Joey Hunt, DT Quinton Jefferson, WR Kenny Lawler, DT Jeremy Liggins, DT Greg Milhouse, WR David Moore, LB Kache Palacio, C/G Will Pericak, LB Otha Peters, WR Darreus Rogers, DT Garrison Smith, WR Rodney Smith, TE Tyrone Swoopes, T Tyrus Thompson, CB Mike Tyson, CB Pierre Desir and WR Kasen Williams. Players waived/injured were LB Christian French, CB Demetrius McCray and DT Rodney Coe. Vested veterans cut were LB Mike Morgan, FB Marcel Reece and DT Ahtyba Rubin In addition CB Deshawn Shead was placed on PUP, FS Marcus Cromartie, CB DeAndre Elliott and T George Fant were placed on IR and DE Dion Jordan and DT Malik McDowell were placed on NFI.

PFT’s 2017 AFC 53-man roster cuts tracker

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[Editor’s note: We’re keeping track of the moves as AFC teams make them this weekend, as they have to get to their 53-man roster limit by Saturday at 4 p.m. Due to a rule change this year, there was no interim cut to 75 players so there will be a lot of moves to keep track of this time around. Check back throughout the weekend, as we’ll update throughout.]


The Bills reached an injury settlement with wide receiver Rod Streater and safety Shamiel Gray. They waived/injured wide receiver Jeremy Butler and offensive lineman Michael Ola, placed linebacker Sam Barrington on injured reserve, and put wide receiver Walt Powell and tackle Seantrel Henderson on reserve/suspended. They also released quarterback Keith Wenning, running back Jordan Johnson, wide receivers Daikiel Shorts, Brandon Reilly, and Dezmin Lewis, tight ends Wes Saxton and Rory Anderson, offensive linemen Cameron Jefferson, Jordan Mudge, Greg Pyke, and Zach Voytek, defensive linemen Max Vallea, Ian SeauNigel Williams, and Marquavius Lewis, linebackers Abner Logan, Jacob Lindsey and Carl Bradford, cornerbacks Bradley Sylve, and Marcus Sayles and safeties Adrian McDonald, Joe Powell, and B.T. Sanders.


Waived punter Matt Darr. Waived linebacker Neville Hewitt. Placed linebacker Raekwon McMillan and cornerback Tony Lippett on injured reserve. Placed wide receiver Rashawn Scott on PUP list. Waived/injured linebacker Brandon Watts. Released tackle Sam Young and defensive end Nick Williams. Waived long snapper Winston Chapman, quarterback Brandon Doughty, tight end Thomas Duarte, guard Isame Faciane, wide receiver Trey Griffey, safety A.J. Hendy, tackle Sean Hickey, cornerback Larry Hope, running back Storm Johnson, linebacker Deon Lacey, wide receiver Rashad Lawrence, wide receiver Malcolm Lewis, cornerback Jordan Lucas, defensive end Cameron Malveaux, defensive end Praise Martin-Oguike, wide receiver Mitch Mathews, wide receiver Drew Morgan, defensive tackle Lawrence Okoye, tight end Chris Pantale, cornerback Lafayette Pitts, defensive end Joby Saint Fleur, running back De'Veon Smith, wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow, linebacker Junior Sylvestre, defensive end Julius Warmsley and tackle Avery Young.

New England

Traded cornerback Justin Coleman to the Seahawks for a late-round pick. Waived fullback Glenn Gronkowski. Traded 2018 seventh-round pick to Seattle for defensive end Cassius Marsh.

New York Jets

Traded defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson to the Seahawks for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a 2018 second-round pick. Released linebacker Spencer Paysinger, offensive linemen Jeff Adams and Craig Watts, wide receivers Chris Harper and Myles White, tight end Brandon Barnes, defensive lineman Jeremy Faulk, defensive backs Armagedon Draughn and David Rivers and kicker Ross Martin. Placed wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, tight end Chris Gragg, and linebacker Corey Lemonier on injured reserve, and cornerback Jeremy Clark on reserve/non-football injury. Released long snapper Tanner Purdum, safety Shamarko Thomas, and receiver Kenbrell Thompkins. Waived/injured Lucky Whitehead. Waived offensive lineman Alex Balducci, linebacker Frank Beltre, offensive lineman Chris Bordelon, offensive lineman Ben Braden, cornerback Xavier Coleman, fullback Anthony Firkser, defensive lineman Patrick Gamble, receiver Frankie Hammond, linebacker Connor Harris, tackle Javarious Leamon, receiver Gabe Marks, running back Romar Morris, defensive lineman Deon Simon, safety Robenson Therezie, running back Jahad Thomas, defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas, and receiver Dan Williams. Placed receiver Jalin Marshall and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins on reserve-suspended list.


Released veteran offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah. Waived wide receiver Keenan Reynolds among their first 24 moves. They terminated the contracts of tight end Larry Donnell, quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, running back Bobby Rainey, cornerback Trevin Wade, and wide receiver Griff Whalen. They also waived punter Kenny Allen, linebacker Randy Allen, wide receiver C.J. Board, guard Jarell Broxton, defensive back Otha Foster, tackle Roubbens Joseph, center Derrick Nelson, long snapper Taybor Pepper, guard Jarrod Pughsley, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro and offensive lineman De’Ondre Wesley, and placed six on injured reserve:Running back Kenneth Dixon, offensive lineman Alex Lewis, linebacker Albert McClellan, guard Nico Siragusa, wide receiver Tim White, and cornerback Tavon Young. Placed cornerback Brandon Boykin on injured reserve, cut wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, tight end Ryan Malleck, wide receiver Chris Matthews, running back Taquan Mizzell, linebacker Donald Payne, defensive back Reggie Porter, fullback Ricky Ortiz, guard Maurquice Shakir, center Matt Skura, and quarterback Josh Woodrum, and waived-injured linebacker Brennen Beyer, defensive back Robertson Daniel and offensive tackle Stephane Nembot.


Cut veteran tackle Eric Winston and defensive tackle Wallace Gilberry. Waived kicker Jake Elliott. Traded cornerback Bene Benwikere to Dallas for a conditional draft pick. Waived linebacker Bryson Albright; linebacker Brandon Bell; receiver Chris Brown; defensive end Ryan Brown; defensive end Will Clarke; safety Demetrious Cox; linebacker P.J. Dawson; defensive tackle David Dean; guard J.J. Dielman; kicker Jake Elliott; defensive end Marcus Hardison; fullback Darrin Laufasa; tackle Landon Lechler; guard Cameron Lee; cornerback Tony McRae; tackle Kent Perkins; receiver Alonzo Russell; guard Dustin Stanton; defensive tackle Josh Tupou; receiver Kermit Whitfield; defensive tackle DeShawn Williams; running back Jarveon Williams; safety Brandon Wilson. Released defensive end Wallace Gilberry. Placed fullback Tra Carson and tight end Mason Schreck on injured reserve. Placed cornerback Pacman Jones and linebacker Vontaze Burfict on reserve/suspended list.


Placed cornerback Howard Wilson on PUP list. Released defensive tackle Brandon Thompson and wide receiver Josh Boyce. Waived defensive back Trey Caldwell, wide receiver Mario Alford, wide receiver Rasheed Bailey, linebacker B.J. Bello, defensive back Christian Bryant, linebacker Ladell Fleming, defensive back J.D. Harmon, defensive back Alvin Hill, tight end Nate Iese, tight end Taylor McNamara, wide receiver Richard Mullaney, offensive lineman Kitt O’Brien, defensive lineman Karter Schult, defensive back Channing Stribling and running back Brandon Wilds. Released offensive lineman John Greco and quarterback Brock Osweiler, and waived running back Terrence Magee, linebcaker Deon King, wide receivers Jordan Payton, Jordan Leslie, and Rannell Hall, tight end J.P. Holtz, offensive lineman Anthony Fabiano, defensive lineman Xavier Cooper, linebacker Kenneth Olugbode, defensive back Najee Murray, and kicker Cody Parkey.


Released running back Knile Davis. Traded wide receiver Sammie Coates to Cleveland. Traded cornerback Ross Cockrell to New York Giants. Waived or released wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers, center Ruben Carter, offensive lineman Ethan Cooper, cornerback Brandon Dixon, center Kyle Friend, linebacker Matt Galambos, linebacker Austin Gearing, safety Malik Golden, cornerback Senquez Golson, safety Jacob Hagen, wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, long snapper Colin Holba, defensive end Lavon Hooks, quarterback Bart Houston, linebacker Farrington Huguenin, tight end David Johnson, linebacker Steven Johnson, defensive end Francis Kallon, linebacker Keith Kelsey, defensive end Johnny Maxey, tight end Jake McGee, offensive tackle Brian Mihalik, offensive lineman Keavon Milton, cornerback Dashaun Phillips, defensive tackle Roy Philon, offensive tackle Jake Rodgers, cornerback JaCorey Shepherd, wide receiver Justin Thomas, running back Fitzgerald Touissant, wide receiver Marcus Tucker, safety Terrish Webb and running back Trey Williams.


Released linebacker Sio Moore, linebacker Mike Catapano, offensive lineman Erik Austell and safety Malik Smith. Released quarterback Brandon Weeden. Released kicker Nick Novak. Waived offensive lineman David Quessenberry. Released outside linebacker Mike Catapano, inside linebacker Sio Moore, kicker Nick Novak and quarterback Brandon Weeden. Waived receiver Dres Anderson, nose tackle Eli Ankou, center Erik Austell, tight end Evan Baylis, safety K.J. Dillon, tackle Laurence Gibson, receiver Justin Hardee, nose tackle Rickey Hatley, receiver Germone Hopper, cornerback Bryce Jones, receiver Marcus Leak, outside linebacker Eric Lee, receiver Riley McCarron, running back Dare Ogunbowale, outside linebacker Gimel President, guard David Quessenberry, inside linebacker Shakeel Rashad, cornerback Marcus Roberson, defensive end Daniel Ross, guard Chad Slade, receiver Chris Thompson, guard Josh Walker, outside linebacker Tony Washington Jr. and inside linebacker Avery Williams. Waived/injured tight end RaShaun Allen, safety Lonnie Ballentine, punter Cory Carter, defensive end Matthew Godin, cornerback Denzel Rice, safety Malik Smith and receiver Wendall Williams. Waived cornerback Robert Nelson Jr. with an injury settlement. Reached injury settlements with outside linebacker Dayon Pratt and receiver Devin Street.


Released linebacker Akeem Ayers, linebacker LaVar Edwards, running back Daryl Richardson, linebacker Sean Spence, and cornerback Corey White. They waived cornerback Dante’ Blackmon, defensive tackle Josh Boyd, receiver Marvin Bracy, receiver Fred Brown, tackle Fahn Cooper, safety Tyson GrahamJr., safety Lee Hightower, receiver Bug Howard, tight end Henry Krieger-Coble, receiver Justice Liggins, running back De’Mard Llorens, defensive tackle T.Y. McGill, receiver JoJo Natson, defensive tackle David Parry, running back Troymaine Pope, guard Adam Redmond, receiver Brian Riley, linebacker Darnell Sankey, receiver Valdez Showers, linebacker Garrett Sickels, defensive tbacke Jhaustin Thomas, tackle Arturo Uzdavinis, guard Terran Vaughn, quarterback Philip Walker, safety Andrew Williams, and tackle Andrew Wylie.

Waived/injured running back Josh Ferguson and Tyvis Powell. Placed safety Clayton Geathers on reserve/PUP list. Placed cornerback Chris Culliver, linebacker Edwin Jackson, and safety Earl Wolff IV on injured reserve.


Placed tight end Mychal Rivera and safety Jeron Johnson on injured reserve. Waived/injured fullback Marquez Williams. Waived or released tight end Caleb Blueitt, tackle Malcolm Bunche, center Demetrius Rhaney, linebacker P.J. Davis, linebacker Akeem Dent, defensive lineman Tueni Lupeamanu, wide receiver Jamal Robinson, wide receiver Larry Pinkard, running back Jonathan Grimes, running back DuJuan Harris, cornerback Charles James and cornerback Dwayne Thomas. Traded offensive lineman Luke Bowanko to the Ravens. Released linebacker Andrew Gachkar, defensive end Malliciah Goodman and linebacker Josh McNary. Waived running back Tim Cook, defensive Hunter Dimick, cornerback Brian Dixon, tight end Alex Ellis, receiver Amba Etta-Tawo, offensive lineman Avery Gennesy, tight end David Grinnage, defensive back Tracy Howard, cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, offensive lineman Nila Kasitati, defensive tackle Kevin Maurice, defensive end Carroll Phillips, offensive lineman Chris Reed and defensive end Jonathan Woodard. Waived/injured cornerback Doran Grant, safety Jarrod Harper and receiver Shane Wynn. Placed receiver Rashad Greene Sr. on injured reserve.


Got down to 53. Players released included cornerback Manny Abad, tight end Jace Amaro, fullback Joe Bacci (waived injured), defensive lineman Angelo Blackson, nose tackle DeAngelo Brown, tight end Jerome Cunningham, long snapper Ryan DiSalvo (waived injured), quarterback Tyler Ferguson, cornerback Demontre Hurst, receiver Darius Jennings, safety Denzel Johnson, running back Akeem Judd (waived injured), receiver Jonathan Krause, receiver KeVonn Mabon, offensive lineman Tyler Marz, offensive lineman Josue Matias, receiver Tre McBride, tackle Steven Moore, running back Khalfani Muhammad, receiver Giovanni Pascascio, tackle Jonah Pirsig, running back Brandon Radcliff, defensive end Cameron Robbins, tackle Brad Seaton, tight end Tim Semisch, guard Jake Simonich, cornerback Darrius Sims, cornerback D’Joun Smith, center Mark Spelman, linebacker Justin Staples, defensive lineman Jimmy Staten(waived injured), receiver/returner Eric Weems and nose tackle Antwaun Woods. Alex Tanney went on injured reserve.

Placed wide receiver Tajae Sharpe on injured reserve.


Traded tackle Ty Sambrailo to the Falcons for a 2018 fifth-round pick. Released running back Stevan Ridley, running back Juwan Thompson and wide receiver Anthony Nash. Released safety T.J. Ward. Waived guard Michael Schofield. Waived quarterback Kyle Sloter.

Kansas City

Traded defensive lineman David King to the Titans for a conditional 2018 seventh-round pick. Placed outside linebacker Tamba Hali on the physically unable to perform list. Released running back C.J. Spiller. Released defensive lineman Ricky Ali’ifua, cornerback De’Vante Bausby, tight end Orson Charles, offensive lineman Joseph Cheek, receiver Gehrig Dieter, tight end Gavin Escobar, kicker Sam Ficken, cornerback Jacoby Glenn, cornerback Trevon Hartfield, tackle Donald Hawkins, tackle Josh James, receiver Seantavius Jones, receiver Tevin Jones, receiver Marcus Kemp, guard Damien Mama, linebacker Justin March-Lillard, safety Leon McQuay, linebacker Earl Okine, offensive lineman Mike Person, running back Devine Redding, linebacker Marcus Rush, cornerback Larry Scott, running back C.J. Spiller, quarterback Joel Stave, receiver Tony Stevens, defensive tackle Maurice Swain, safety Steven Terrell, defensive tackle Cam Thomas, guard Andrew Tiller, and receiver Robert Wheelwright. Placed linebackers Tamba Hali and Dadi Nicholas on the reserve/PUP list. Placed running back Spencer Ware and cornerback Ashton Lampkin on injured reserve.

Los Angeles Chargers

Waived kicker Josh Lambo. Released quarterback Kellen Clemens, running back Kenjon Barner, tight end Jeff Cumberland and safety Dwight Lowery. Placed guard Forrest Lamp on injured reserve. Placed defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi and center Max Tuerk on reserve/suspended. Waived kicker Josh Lambo. They also waived punter Toby Baker, quarterback Mike Bercovici, guard Brett Boyko, wide receiver Da’Ron Brown, nose tackle Ryan Carrethers, linebacker Kyle Coleman, cornerback Michael Davis, tight end Mike Estes, cornerback Randall Evans, center/guard Barrett Gouger, wide receiver Jamaal Jones, wide receiver Mitchell Paige, wide receiver Andre Patton, wide receiver Cameron Posey, cornerback Trovon Reed, defensive tackle Caraun Reid, wide receiver Artavis Scott, cornerback Brandon Stewart, cornerback Brad Watson, tight end Matt Weiser and running back Andre Williams. Waived/injured wide receiver Isaiah Burse, tackle Tyreek Burwell, guard Donavon Clark, defensive tackle Kaleb Eulls, running back Kenneth Farrow and linebacker Joshua Perry.


Waived offensive lineman Kareem Are, running back George Atkinson III, cornerback Breon Borders, defensive tackle Paul Boyette, receiver K.J. Brent, tackle Chauncey Briggs, defensive end Fadol Brown, tight end Pharaoh Brown, linebacker Shilique Calhoun, safety Anthony Cioffi, running back John Crockett, cornerback Kenneth Durden, long snapper Andrew East, linebacker/defensive end IK Enemkpali, linbacker Najee Harris, receiver Keon Hatcher, tight end Gabe Holmes, running back Elijah Hood, cornerback Chris Humes, defensive lineman Branden Jackson, safety Rickey Jefferson, linebacker/defensive end Rufus Johnson, linebacker LaTroy Lewis, safety Marcus McWilson, tight end Ryan O'Malley, guard Oni Omoile, linebacker Brady Sheldon, guard Ian Silberman, guard Jordan Simmons, kicker Giorgio Tevecchio, receiver Isaac Whitney, linebacker Xavier Woodson-Luster and receiver Ishmael Zamora. Released tight end Cooper Helfet. Waived/injured receiver Jaydon Mickens. Waived/non-football injury linebacker Ben Heeney. Placed linebacker Jelani Jenkins on injured reserve.

Elliott alleges existence of a “conspiracy” to suspend him

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A case that already has been nasty has gotten even nastier. And what appears to be a clumsily constructed case against Ezekiel Elliott could be on the verge of a collapse. And the collapse could shake the foundation of 345 Park Avenue.

In 30-page petition filed late Thursday in a Texas federal court, Elliott contends that he was the victim of a “League-orchestrated conspiracy . . . to hide critical information” from Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in connection with the domestic violence allegations made against Elliott by Tiffany Thompson. Elliott, who seeks a reversal of the suspension, argues that NFL Director of Investigations Kia Roberts concluded that Thompson “was not credible in her allegations of abuse,” and that insufficient evidence existed to corroborate her claims. Elliott alleges that the opinions of Kia Roberts were concealed from critical aspects of the disciplinary process.

The contention of a conspiracy emanates from the alleged decision to keep Roberts away from a June 26 hearing, at which time the evidence was presented to four outside experts who would make recommendations to Goodell, and from a separate meeting with Goodell. The focal point of the conspiracy allegation seems to be NFL Special Counsel for Investigations Lisa Friel.

Roberts, according to the petition, was the only lead investigator to interview Thompson, and Roberts co-authored a 160-page investigation report. Roberts nevertheless was not present for the key proceeding that resulted in the initial six-game suspension, when evidence was presented to (and questions were posed by) the four experts who advised Goodell on discipline.

Friel herself allegedly told Goodell during a separate meeting that there was sufficient evidence to justify discipline. Roberts allegedly was not present for that meeting, which means that Goodell never heard about her concerns regarding Thompson’s credibility.

“[T]he NFLPA and Elliott do not seek in this Petition for the Court to make its own determinations about Elliott’s or Thompson’s credibility, or any other matter of fact-finding properly left to the arbitrator,” the petition states. “Rather, the controlling and paramount legal question presented here is whether an arbitration concerning the existence of ‘credible evidence’ for employee discipline based on ‘he-said/she-said’ claims of domestic violence can be fundamentally fair when senior NFL Executives have conspired to obscure (including from the Commissioner and his advisors) their own Director of Investigations’ conclusion that there was no credible evidence upon which to impose discipline, and the arbitrator has refused to require the NFL to make available for testimony and cross-examination: (i) the accuser whose credibility is at issue (or the investigative notes of her six interviews), and (ii) the Commissioner who was deprived of critical facts in making his disciplinary determination”

The petition also points to various procedural flaws, including the decision of the league to insulate Thompson from cross-examination and a refusal to share investigation notes from six different NFL interviews of Thompson. The petition likewise chides arbitrator Harold Henderson for refusing to require testimony from Goodell, who made the decision to impose discipline.

“Without testimony from the Commissioner, it was not possible to determine the full impact of the conspiracy, or precisely what the Commissioner knew or did not know about his co-lead investigator’s conclusion that there was not sufficient credible evidence to proceed with any discipline under a League Personal Conduct Policy that requires ‘credible evidence’ to support the charges in a case like this, where the player has been accused of domestic violence, but law enforcement investigated and rightly declined to bring any charges due to conflicting evidence and inconsistent accounts of the alleged events,” the petition explains.

The procedural flaws were obvious throughout the various steps of the process. On Thursday night, the misgivings of Kia Roberts became apparent for the first time. If, as the petition claims, Roberts was kept away from key meetings that resulted in the suspension, the entire case against Elliott could implode.

At a minimum (if the claim of Roberts’ non-involvement is accurate), Goodell should be required to vacate the discipline and make the decision all over again, with the full benefit of Roberts’ conclusions and opinions being shared both with Goodell and the outside experts.

Separate questions will arise regarding whether and to what extent this highly irregular circumstance (if, again, the allegations are accurate) could or should affect the ongoing employment of various persons whose fingerprints are on the alleged conspiracy. Depending upon how deep the rabbit hole goes, it’s possible that the ensuing shakeup could go all the way to the very top of the organization.

Cap percentage still not in play for quarterback contracts


Multiple players have tried, none have succeeded. Yet.

With the salary cap growing by 37 percent since 2013 and contracts negotiated in past years not aging well because of it, no player has been able to secure a clause in a long-term deal ensuring a certain cap percentage in the out years of a contract. Former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis tried to get it in 2010, and Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins tried to get it in 2016.

It’s unclear whether quarterback Matthew Stafford tried to get it. While he arguably will need it in 2021 and 2022, if the salary cap and the quarterback market continue to climb, Stafford will get $108.5 million over the next four years. If, after that, the market has gone haywire, the Lions could rip up the last two years of the deal and give him another.

So what will it take for a player to get protection from a guaranteed percentage of the cap? Most likely, it will take a franchise quarterback making it to the open market, with multiple teams chasing him and the quarterback playing one against the other. Even then, the Management Council likely will resist, because once one team does it other teams may follow suit.

For now, teams have resisted because it strips away the benefit of the back end of a long-term deal, where salary numbers that seemed fair to the player at signing become much more than fair to the teams over time. If a player is guaranteed a certain piece of the pie and the pie keeps growing, the piece keeps growing, too.

Under the current system, once a long-term deal gets past the first two or three years, the team hold a year-to-year option on whether to keep it going. If the numbers look good to the team, the team will “honor” the contract. If the numbers don’t, the team will either squeeze the player to take less or cut him. The player, having committed to the duration of the deal, has no real options.

Tying those later years to growth in the cap will make teams more inclined to think the player is getting too much, and in turn to lose the benefit of otherwise affordable years that remain after the front end of the deal has been paid out. Inevitably, someone else will try to get that term. Eventually, maybe someone will succeed.

With Matthew Stafford paid, who’s next?

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Here’s an exercise first attempted after Raiders quarterback Derek Carr signed the richest . . . contract . . . ever in June. Now that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has done the same, it’s time to look at whose hand will be the next on the baseball bat as quarterbacks outdo each other, one at a time.

1. The Next Wave.

Kirk Cousins.

With another one-year deal in Washington, at $23.94 million, four choices loom for the team by February: (1) sign Cousins to a long-term deal; (2) apply the transition tag at $28.78 million; (3) apply the franchise tag again, at $34.47 million; or (4) allow Cousins to hit the open market.

What he’d make on the open market remains to be seen. A tug of war could be looming between a pair of the player’s former offensive coordinators: 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and Rams coach Sean McVay. Other teams could get involved, and Cousins could (should) emerge from the morass with a deal better than the one that Stafford has received.

Jimmy Garoppolo.

Some believe the Patriots will choose Garoppolo over Tom Brady in 2018. Most see that as inconceivable.

Regardless, Garoppolo is headed for a date with the open market, unless he does a new deal with the Patriots. With the franchise tag likely heading north of $23 million and the injury risk low (since he won’t be playing much if at all this season), Garoppolo has no reason to do a new deal before forcing the Patriots to decide whether to use the tag.

If the Patriots win a sixth Super Bowl and Gisele Bundchen yanks Brady into the sunset, the Patriots would then have a limited window to sign Garoppolo before applying the tag. Either way, the question becomes whether Garoppolo will push his leverage to the limit, or whether he’ll do a Brady-style discount.

If Brady stays, a tag-and-trade remains possible, as does the possibility of paying Garoppolo top-of-the-backup-market money. They also could choose to kick the can for a year by carrying Garoppolo at the franchise tag amount, which seems unlikely. But if the Patriots believe Garoppolo will be the next great quarterback, it’s a small price to pay to chase another decade of excellence.

Drew Brees.

Brees won’t extend his deal with one season remaining on it, which means he’ll become a free agent in March unless the Saints work out a contract with him before then. Either way, there will be no franchise tag or other device to hold Brees in place.

Which means that Brees may soon get a chance to show the football-following world the worth of a 39-year-old franchise quarterback on the open market.

It’s hard to think of him as anything other than a Saint, but he already has changed teams once in his career. Would it really surprise anyone if he ends up with a franchise that is merely a franchise quarterback away from seriously contending, especially if this year is finally the year that the annual Sean-Payton-May-Leave-The-Saints rumors finally come to fruition?

Sam Bradford.

Seemingly entrenched as the starter in Minnesota as Teddy Bridgewater recovers from a serious knee injury, Bradford has no contract beyond 2017. Which means that a player who cashed every check of a $78 million deal signed in 2010 and who then inked a two-year, $36 million deal in 2016 will get a chance to add to his $114 million career haul by becoming a free agent — unless the Vikings give him yet another big contract, with the $23 million franchise-tag tender as the starting point.

A.J. McCarron.

McCarron is in the final year of his contract, but he may not be eligible for unrestricted free agency due to a years-of-service issue tracing back to his rookie season. That would allow the Bengals to hold him in place via the highest possible restricted free agency tender. They also could use the franchise tag, if they fear a team pilfering him for a first-round draft pick.

Regardless, the Bengals’ reportedly high asking price in trade for McCarron suggests that they have plans for him. Maybe those plans include becoming the successor to Andy Dalton, if they conclude that Dalton has taken the team as far as it can.

2. The Second Wave.

Matt Ryan.

With two years left on his second contract, the Falcons would be wise to consider getting a deal done before the market inches any higher. Come 2019, it would cost at least $25.98 million to keep Ryan under the franchise tag, and he’ll be paid a total of $35 million through 2018.

If he’s destined to eventually become the highest-paid quarterback, maybe the best move would be to do it now, via a four-year, $110 million extension that would have a new-money average of $27.5 million — but that would pay out $145 million over six years, $6.5 million less than Stafford’s new deal.

Jameis Winston.

Eligible for a new contract after 2017, the Buccaneers need to decide whether to give him a second contract before his fourth year or before his fifth. The sooner they do it, the cheaper it will be.

Marcus Mariota.

The Titans are in the same boat as the Bucs, and it’s possible that Mariota will wait for Winston to do a deal, or vice-versa. Whoever goes last may end up with the better deal, even if he has to wait another year to get it.

3. The Third Wave.

Aaron Rodgers.

Four years ago, Rodgers signed a long-term contract with a new-money average of $22 million. He’s now $5 million per year behind a guy in his own division who has never won a single playoff game. In all fairness, Rodgers should be the next quarterback to get a new deal, even though he is signed for three more seasons.

The question becomes whether Rodgers will actively jostle for one. He doesn’t seem to be willing to complain about his deal, because to do so would be to invite criticism for signing it in the first place.

For as smart as Rodgers is, in hindsight it clearly wasn’t wise to commit through 2019 at a time when the cap was poised to jump eight figures every year. In fairness to Rodgers, no one expected the cap to move as much as it has since then, increasing by a total of 37 percent. Indeed, management was continuously pushing the idea that the cap would smooth, not spike.

Regardless, Rodgers’ once-great deal now looks almost average. If he squabbles too much, someone will say he should have had the foresight to not sign it when he did.

Russell Wilson.

Like Rodgers and others who have won Super Bowls, it would be easy for Russell Wilson to look at the trio currently atop the list of highest-paid quarterbacks (Stafford, Carr, Andrew Luck) and say, “What have they done?”

Not much, in comparison to the likes of Rodgers, Wilson, Brees, Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning.

At an average of $21.9 million per year in new money, Wilsons now sits at $5.1 million per year behind Stafford. Despite his carefully-manicured public image, that can’t sit well with a guy who has led his team to two Super Bowls. And with two years left on his contract, the question becomes when Wilson’s representatives will begin quietly working the Seahawks for a deal that better reflects his value.

Dak Prescott.

The franchise quarterback of America’s Team still has two more years before he can even sign an extension. But as more and more quarterbacks pass the $25 million-per-year threshold, Prescott’s wage-scaled deal will look embarrassingly bad.

Prescott will make $540,000 this year, and $630,000 in 2018. That’s a total of $1.17 million over two full seasons. In that same period of time, Stafford will have made $67.5 million.

So, eventually, Prescott will get his deal. As will all of the other guys on this list. In time, more names will be added to it, and the cycle of quarterbacks getting enormous contract will continue — even if the guys making the most at any given moment haven’t done nearly as much as their lesser-paid peers.