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2016 franchise and transition tag numbers

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Now that the salary cap has been set at a whopping $155.27 million for 2016, the franchise and transition tags for the coming league year can be calculated. Fortunately, someone better at calculating things than me has done the calculating.

The franchise and transition tag numbers for each position appear below. The first number is the nonexclusive franchise tag; the second is the transition tag.

Quarterback: $19.953 million/$17.696 million.

Running back: $11.789 million/$9.647 million.

Receiver: $14.599 million/$12.268 million.

Tight end: $9.118 million/$7.713 million.

Offensive line: $13.706 million/$11.902 million.

Defensive end: $15.701 million/$12.734 million.

Defensive tackle: $13.615 million/$10.875 million.

Linebacker: $14.129 million/$11.925 million.

Cornerback: $13.952 million/$11.913 million.

Safety: $10.806 million/$9.116 million.

Kicker/punter: $4.572 million/$4.123 million.

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Mike Mamula wasn’t the Combine stud-turned-bust you’ve heard

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Workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine begin today, which means you’re going to hear about Mike Mamula. And a lot of what you’re going to hear will be wrong.

Some of the wrong information about Mamula was reported on NFL Network this morning, where Mamula was labeled the way he’s always labeled, as a lousy football player who became a Top 10 pick only because he was a Combine “workout warrior” and then busted in the NFL. Here’s what people usually say about Mamula:

1. The tape on Mamula wasn’t very good, but his Combine performance was great, so the Eagles reached for him with the seventh overall pick in the 1995 NFL draft.

2. In the NFL, he was a major bust.

There’s just one problem: Both of those statements are wrong.

In reality, Mamula was a very good player at Boston College, and NFL scouts were high on him before the Combine. And he wasn’t as bad a player in the NFL as people like to say.

First of all, Mamula’s record at Boston College speaks for itself: In his junior year, Mamula was a starter at outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, and he finished the season with 12 sacks. In his senior year, Mamula was a starter at defensive end after Boston College switched to a 4-3 defense, and he finished the season with 17 sacks. A player who shows that kind of versatility and ability to get to the quarterback is going to be on the radar of NFL scouts no matter how he runs at the Combine. Just look at this 1994 New York Times article, written three months before the Combine, which details a great game Mamula had against Syracuse and adds, “There were several National Football League scouts watching the game, and they could not help but give good grades to Mike Mamula, the Boston College defensive end who spent most of the day in the Syracuse backfield.”

In 1993, when Boston College upset No. 1 Notre Dame in one of the great college football games of the decade, Mamula was hailed as one of the best players on the field, finishing the game with 14 tackles and two sacks. His great Combine performance only solidified what people who watched him play thought, which is that he was really, really good.

But after the Eagles drafted him seventh overall, he proved to be a bust, right?

Not really. He was a Week One starter as a rookie and started all season except for three games when he was injured, and he had 5.5 sacks in the regular season and added a sack in helping the Eagles win a playoff game that year. In his second season he was even better, starting all 16 games, recording 8.0 sacks and again helping the Eagles reach the playoffs.

He again started all 16 games in 1997, but when he blew out his knee in the preseason of 1998, that’s when his career really turned south. He missed all of that season and wasn’t the same player at the start of the 1999 season. Down the stretch in 1999 he got back into form, recording seven sacks in the Eagles’ last seven games. At the end of that season, his teammates voted him the team’s Ed Block Courage Award recipient.

In 2000 Mamula had more injuries, and at the end of the year he called it a career. It hadn’t been a great career, but it had been a lot better than it’s now remembered for being.

Mamula’s biggest problem may be the trade the Eagles made to acquire him: Philadelphia traded up from No. 12 to No. 7 to draft Mamula, and the 12th overall pick ended up being Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp. Obviously, in hindsight, it would have been a lot better to stay put and draft Sapp.

But even with the benefit of hindsight, it’s time to stop using Mamula as shorthand for Combine workout warrior-turned-draft bust. That’s just not who he was.

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Eric Winston interview transcript

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[Editor’s note: NFLPA president Eric Winston joined Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN from Lucas Oil Stadium, site of the Scouting Combine. A full transcript of the interview appears below.]

Q: “So in your role as NFLPA President it’s been an interesting few years and an interesting development this week that nobody really knew was going on. An arbitration over an allegation that the NFL was pulling some money away from what would go into the salary cap funding. Explain it in the simplest terms possible for the folks out there curious about what this was.”

Winston: “It’s not a complicated matter. Basically, in the CBA they’re allowed certain revenues that can be kept for stadium financing for paying down debt, for building new stadiums, and at the end of the day they created a new category that wasn’t allowed by the CBA. We audit and we’re allowed to audit through the CBA every piece of revenue that comes in. During our audits we found the new category that they had made. They had shuttled a bunch of money over into that category. We said that’s not right, they disagreed with us, and we took it to an arbitrator and the arbitrator ruled right from the bench.”

Q: “And it’s so rare in any type of legal proceeding, they always take it under advisement, this one’s so clear it happens from the bench. Do you think that they kind of accidentally misinterpreted the CBA? Or they set out to funnel money away from the pot that would go to the players?”

Winston: “What do you think?”

Q: “Well, I want to know what you think.”

Winston: “Listen, this is part of the reason I think sometimes when people see us trying to work with them and vice versa and how hard it is to get things done. This is some of the reason for it, you know? You can’t assume anything with them. You can’t assume that things are going to be done the right way and, listen, I like to think that was an honest error but if it was an honest error then why haven’t they apologized? Why haven’t they said what this is [or] “Our bad, we made a mistake”? That hasn’t happened, so obviously it’s the other one because that’s the only other way I can look at it.”

Q: “And because they dug in and they fought it tooth and nail, like they fight everything tooth and nail.”

Winston: “Well, sure. And for them unfortunately at this point the remedy is them just having to give back the money. How many things have they taken all the way to an arbitrator that obviously they knew they were going to lose? Or if they didn’t know they were going to lose they felt like, ‘Well the repercussions aren’t such that well if lose, oh, no big deal we’ll still be back.’ Now going forward we’re probably going to have to look at ways now to remedy this and that’s a sad thing. That’s not good for our business, that’s not good for the NFL but it is where we are.”

Q: “And it’s not good for the relationship, because the relationship at some level has to be founded on trust. What impact does something like this have on your ability to trust anything the NFL does?”

Winston: “The players have seen examples over and over and over now of them skirting the rules, of them trying to go around something that was clearly intended, clearly written in a certain way. Whether it’s in personal conduct, whether it’s financial matters now. I mean those things ring very loudly to players and I field a lot of calls about this. I field calls from former players, from current players about this and they’re upset. I mean, this is one of those things that go right to the core of our business is money and you can’t take from somebody and expect not to be some hard feelings, expect to be upset. It hurts everything going forward and it’s unfortunate.”

Q: “Last week it came out that in the last fiscal year Roger Goodell made $34 million. A lot of people have opinions on that. How do the players react when they see how much the Commissioner makes verses how much DeMaurice Smith the head of the union makes? Because it’s not $34 million.”

Winston: “No definitely not, it’s a little less. You know, I don’t think we equate that. Listen, we love De. I think he’s done a great job. The players last year resoundingly reelected him as our executive director. That’s their business if they want to pay their CEO that money. We pay our CEO what we can and obviously the owners feel like they pay what they can and that’s the way the market works. That’s the way we look at it. I don’t try to make any correlations between the two.”

Q: “You’re here this week in part for meetings with the Competition Committee. This is the portion of the calendar where the Competition Committee hears what the players think about certain rule changes things maybe the players want. What’s the number one thing that the player’s would like to see change for 2016?”

Winston: “Well obviously I think we want to see some clarification on the catch rule, I mean I think that’s everybody. Every fan wants to see some clarification of the catch rule. I think they want to see a little more black and white. I think we’ve gone so far in the rule book of trying to make perfect rules. No rule is going to be perfect but if it’s clear, then everybody can be happy with it. I think that’s the problem is that the rules have become unclear and so nobody sitting at home, nobody knows. Was that a catch, was that a fumble, is that incomplete? And that goes for a lot of different rules. Was that a facemask, was that not a facemask? And that’s the problem I think of where we’ve gotten so far into the weeds with our rules now. That they’ve become unclear to the common fan and I think we need to take a hard look if we’re putting in a new rule. Is it clear? Is it black and white? Is it easy to officiate too because officials have maybe the hardest job now that they ever have. I mean, you look at what they’re asked to do now. It is so hard on them trying to officiate a game that it’s impossible for them to get everything right and I think they’re worried about getting the technical calls so right now they’re starting to miss the little calls. That’s upsetting and that’s frustrating for the players, it’s frustrating for the fans, it’s frustrating for the coaches. So we gotta go back and make sure that we’ve got clear rules. That they’re clear and concise and they’re easy to officiate.”

Q: “They talk about changing the catch rule all the time and it seems like the more they talk about it the more clear it is they’re not going to do anything to change it. Do you hold out any hope that they’re going to make a real change to that rule this year?”

Winston: “Well the hope I hold out is that they’re going to make a hard good effort towards it and that they’re going to bring in as many opinions as they can. I’m eager to hear what opinions they’ve brought in already. I would hope they’ve got opinions from receiver coaches, from players, from everybody. So I’m eager to see, you know, hopefully our guys have some ideas. Hopefully they have some ideas and who knows I think when you get in a room, you start exchanging ideas, maybe something can come of that. I’m a hopeful person in that sense that if you keep bouncing and talking around long enough that you can find some answer for it.”

Q: “You play for the Bengals. You were on the field for the Wild Card game between the Steelers and Bengals, the Saturday night game. It got ugly; it got out of hand. How concerned are the players about striking the right balance between having good rivalries and drama and compelling games versus having it go too far with players inflicting unnecessary violence on other players?”

Winston: “I mean we’re all in it together, and that’s just something I’ve always believed in since we’re all trying to make a living. We’re all trying to play, we’re all trying to stay healthy. So I think we’ve got to go as far as we can but at the same time we’re all trying to win too, and those competitive juices get going. You have a rivalry now where the Bengals and the Steelers have been going on for a long time in a division that’s known to be quote-unquote nasty division. With the Ravens and Browns, we go at it twice a year and then of course you put a third time in there. The crowd was jumping and it was a situation — it was an unfortunate situation obviously no one wants to see a game end that way. There was a lot of things that went into it I think that aren’t as publicized that maybe they should be, but it is what it is. And so as professionals on the field we’ve got to hold ourselves up to the highest standard. We’ve got to do what’s right for each other out there and at the same time like you said the compelling nature of the games. I think the rivalries take care of themselves. You know, we don’t have to worry about those but we do have to worry about each other. We just got to keep trying to stay as professional as we can.”

Q: “The things not publicized as much as they should be. The threats made against Vontaze Burfict is that what you were referring to?”

Winston: “I put it in perspective, I put that game in perspective for someone. I said the other team probably should’ve had two coaches that had personal fouls and we were the ones out of control. You know, that’s perspective for that game and those are the things that I think don’t go unnoticed by players. Why is a coach doing that? Why is a coach in the middle of the field? Why is a coach yanking on a guy’s hair and so those things have to be looked at. Then all of a sudden after the game you expect, ‘OK, well, the coach is going to get fined.’ And then they get a slap on the wrist. While you see players around the league getting fined exorbitant amounts for things they feel like are bang-bang plays. So those are things that have to be looked at too by the league because those aren’t isolated incidents. Players see something here and then they go here and they make that connection and those can’t be isolated incidents.”

Q: “How much ability though does the union have to really force that change on the NFL? Is it just something you point out and hope they do the right thing? Or can you really effect change as it relates to how they would discipline coaches in those situations?”

Winston: “Well, listen, we’re going to point it out. We’re going to be loud about it. We’re going to say like, ‘Listen if this is the way it’s going to be it needs to be the same way for everybody,’ right? To me the coaches, executives all should be held to a higher standard to players and the players are held to a high standard already. So that’s the problem that I have with it is that you’re almost holding players to a higher standing than you are the coaches and we all know the coaches are supposed to be the authority figure around the players. So to me it’s an inverse relationship that shouldn’t be the way it is.”

Q: “[You were] drafted ten years ago by the Texans in the third round, free agent in two weeks. Will it be the Bengals? Will it be someone else? Is it wait and see?”

Winston: “Well obviously it’s always wait and see at this point of year but you know I love playing with the Bengals. I think it’s a great organization. We got a great group of guys there. We got a very talented group of guys, it’s a talented team and you know obviously we caught a few unlucky breaks. Andy [Dalton’s] injury, I thought AJ [McCarron] came in and played great but any time you lose your starting quarterback that affects a team and we were rolling there for a while. So I’d love another chance to go and see if we can finish it off the right way because like I said I think we’re as complete a team as there is out there. But we’ll see what happens you never now in this league as we’re gonna find out a lot of twists and turns over the next two weeks.”

Q: “And most importantly how will Andy Dalton’s inability to secure his luggage manifest itself in the locker room?”

Winston: “Poor Andy I tell you what, he’s gonna hear from me about that. What kind of guy would go right on Twitter and expect them to be returned and then gets the bags returned? A bunch of the guys were on text messages laughing about it, but I’m glad Andy got his bags and made that vacation.”

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The Free Agent Hot 100

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The following are PFT’s top 100 free agents for the 2016 league year. The rankings include prospective unrestricted free agents, as well as released players. The list will be updated as events warrant, with signings and re-signings denoted when announced and/or reported. Players expected to opt out of their current contracts or expected to be released won’t be added until the transaction is official, and restricted free agents will be added only when it’s clear they’ll have an outside market or visit another team.

1. Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (got the exclusive franchise tag from the Broncos)

2. Jets defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson (got the non-exclusive franchise tag from the Jets)

3. Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (his franchise tag was rescinded by the Panthers on April 20, then signed with the Redskins)

4. Broncos defensive tackle Malik Jackson (reportedly will sign with the Jaguars)

5. Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn (got the franchise tag from the Bills)

6. Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon (agreed to terms with the Giants after the Dolphins pulled the transition tag)

7. Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (got the franchise tag)

8. Chiefs safety Eric Berry (got the franchise tag)

9. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (got the franchise tag)

10. Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford (signed a new two-year deal with the Eagles)

11. Seahawks outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (will reportedly sign with the Raiders when the market opens)

12. Jets defensive tackle Damon Harrison (will reportedly sign with the Giants)

13. Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (got the franchise tag)

14. Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith (signed a four-year deal with the Raiders)

15. Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (will sign with the Texans for $18 million per year)

16. Chargers safety Eric Weddle (will reportedly sign with the Ravens)

17. Browns center Alex Mack (will sign with the Falcons)

18. Bengals right tackle Andre Smith (signed a one-year deal with the Vikings)

19. Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (will sign a five-year deal with the Chiefs)

20. Chiefs defensive tackle Jaye Howard (signed a two-year deal to stay with the Chiefs)

21. Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (plans to sign a one-year deal to stay with the Giants)

22. Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan (signed a four-yeal deal with the Bears)

23. Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (signed a five-year deal to stay with the Bucs)

24. Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele (reportedly will sign with the Raiders)

25. Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

26. Bengals safety George Iloka (reportedly returning to the Bengals)

27. Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (will sign with the Texans)

28. 49ers nose tackle Ian Williams (re-signed with the 49ers)

29. Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins (reportedly signing with the Giants)

30. 49ers guard Alex Boone (agreed to terms with the Vikings)

31. Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (signed a three-year deal to stay with the Chiefs)

32. Bengals safety Reggie Nelson (agreed to a two-year deal with the Raiders)

33. Ravens outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw (agreed to a deal with the Falcons)

34. Steelers left tackle Kelvin Beachum (signed with the Jaguars)

35. Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin (agreed to terms with the Chargers)

36. Ex-Bills defensive end Mario Williams (agreed to a two-year deal with the Dolphins)

37. Giants defensive end Robert Ayers (signed a three-year deal with the Buccaneers)

38. Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (signed a five-year deal with the Falcons)

39. Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones (agreed to a deal with the Lions)

40. Lions defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker (re-signed with the Lions)

41. Texans guard Brandon Brooks (will sign a five-year deal with the Eagles)

42. Ex-Bears running back Matt Forte (will reportedly sign with the Jets)

43. Bills guard Richie Incognito (will sign a new deal to remain in Buffalo)

44. Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung (signed with the Broncos)

45. Rams defensive tackle Nick Fairley (signed a one-year deal with the Saints)

46. Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara (signed a one-year deal with the Jaguars)

47. Packers cornerback Casey Hayward (signed with the Chargers)

48. Rams linebacker/safety Mark Barron (has agreed to a deal to stay with the Rams)

49. Chargers cornerback Patrick Robinson (signed a two-year deal with the Colts)

50. Ex-Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (signed a two-year deal with the Browns)

51. Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel (agreed to terms with the Eagles)

52. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (got the franchise tag from the Ravens)

53. Texans offensive lineman Ben Jones (signed a four-year deal with the Titans)

54. Chiefs guard Jeff Allen (will reportedly sign with the Texans)

55. Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (signed a two-year deal to stay with the Lions)

56. Broncos guard Evan Mathis (signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals)

57. Raiders left tackle Donald Penn (has agreed to a deal to stay with the Raiders)

58. Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson (has agreed to a deal to stay with the Chiefs)

59. Dolphins wide receiver Rishard Matthews (has agreed to three-year deal with the Titans)

60. Redskins running back Alfred Morris (signed a two-year deal with the Cowboys)

61. Jets running back Chris Ivory (will reportedly sign with the Jaguars when the market opens)

62. Bengals cornerback Adam Jones (signed a three-year deal to stay with the Bengals)

63. Broncos restricted free agent running back C.J. Anderson (signed an offer sheet with the Dolphins that the Broncos matched)

64. Colts tight end Coby Fleener (signed a five-year deal with the Saints)

65. Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead (signed a two-year deal to stay with the Lions)

66. Browns safety Tashaun Gipson (will sign a five-year deal with the Jaguars)

67. Packers linebacker Mike Neal

68. Redskins defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (will reportedly sign with the Patriots)

69. Ex-Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis (has agreed to a contract with the Saints)

70. Cardinals offensive tackle Bobby Massie (agreed to terms with the Bears)

71. Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson (signed a one-year deal to return to the Panthers)

72. Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy

73. Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson (signed his restricted tender with the Cardinals)

74. Rams defensive tackle Eugene Sims (signed a three-year deal to stay with the Rams)

75. Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (signed a three-year deal to stay with the Seahawks)

76. Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (signed a one-year deal to stay with the Cardinals)

77. Ex-Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes (signed with Buccaneers)

78. Eagles safety Walter Thurmond (has decided to retire)

79. Packers linebacker Nick Perry (signed a one-year deal to stay with the Packers)

80. Suspended Raiders outside linebacker Aldon Smith (agreed to a deal to return to the Raiders)

81. Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy (signed with the Buccaneers)

82. Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (signed with the Ravens)

83. Lions safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (agreed to terms with the Dolphins)

84. Ex-Rams defensive end Chris Long (signed a one-year deal with the Patriots)

85. Seahawks defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (agreed to three-year deal with Seahawks)

86. Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson (signed a one-year deal with the Titans)

87. Chargers tight end Ladarius Green (will reportedly sign with the Steelers)

88. Eagles defensive tackle Cedric Thornton (signed a four-year deal with the Cowboys)

89. Vikings defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis (re-signed with the Vikings before the market opened)

90. Bengals defensive end Wallace Gilberry (signed with the Lions)

91. Colts tight end Dwayne Allen (signed a four-year deal to stay with the Colts)

92. Ex-Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby (signed with the Bengals)

93. Ex-Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin (signed with the Eagles)

94. Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson (signed with the Giants)

95. Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain (signed a one-year deal to stay with the Cowboys)

96. Ex-Vikings wide receiver Mike Wallace (signed with the Ravens)

97. Chiefs offensive tackle Donald Stephenson (signed with the Broncos)

98. Ex-Redskins safety Dashon Goldson

99. Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (agreed to a two-year deal to stay with the Cardinals)

100. Steelers linebacker Sean Spence (signed a one-year deal with the Titans)

OTHERS RANKED

101. Ex-Falcons wide receiver Roddy White

102. Ex-Texans running back Arian Foster

103. Ex-Ravens linebacker Daryl Smith (signed with the Buccaneers)

104. Bears linebacker Shea McClellin (agreed to a deal with the Patriots)

105. Cardinals pass rusher Dwight Freeney

106. Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji (has decided to take a hiatus from football)

107. Ex-Rams tight end Jared Cook (signed with the Packers)

108. Colts cornerback Greg Toler (signed a one-year deal with the Redskins)

109. Ex-Lions running back Joique Bell

110. 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin

111. Buccaneers defensive tackle Henry Melton

112. Broncos cornerback Omar Bolden (will sign a one-year deal with the Bears)

113. Giants wide receiver Reuben Randle (signed a one-year deal with the Eagles)

114. Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (signed a three-year deal with the Chargers)

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Team-by-team look at who could be tagged

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The annual window for application of the franchise and transition tag opens on Tuesday, providing teams with roughly two weeks to decide whether to apply either restriction on otherwise allowing the player to head to unrestricted free agency.

So it’s time for our annual (when we remember) look at the candidates for a tag on every team. The teams are grouped by division and conference.

Bills: Left tackle Cordy Glenn is the top, and perhaps only, candidate for the franchise tag. As teams strive to improve their ability to rush the passer, protecting for the passer becomes more important, too. Some will argue that the Bills should consider using the tag on guard Richie Incognito, who had a Pro Bowl year after returning from his NFL exile. But that’s a non-starter because there’s no separate category for guards; the franchise tag for any offensive lineman essentially becomes the franchise tag for left tackles, the highest paid members of the group.

Jets: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is the obvious choice. The question becomes how much they plan to invest in the defensive line over the long haul, given the presence of Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams. They presumably hope to keep quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but not at nearly $20 million for one year.

Dolphins: A premium will be placed on pass rushers, and defensive end Olivier Vernon is one of the few that will be available. The question for the Dolphins is whether that much money can be invested in Vernon, given the investment already made in Ndamukong Suh. Paying big money to Vernon, whether through the tag or a long-term deal, could result in the end of Cam Wake’s time with the team.

Patriots: There’s no one to tag this year.

Ravens: Kicker Justin Tucker makes the most sense for the tag, since the one-year salary is very reasonable in comparison to the open market. The only other alternative is guard Kelechi Osemele. As noted above, however, the absence of position-specific tags for interior offensive linemen means they’ll be paid like the highest-paid left tackles.

Bengals: Cincinnati has several key free agents who could qualify for the tag, including four key defensive backs: cornerback Pacman Jones, cornerback Leon Hall, safety George Iloka, and safety Reggie Nelson. Offensively, tackle Andre Smith and receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu are due to hit the market. But will the Bengals feel compelled to give any of them the large, one-year salary that comes from the franchise tag? It’s possible the Bengals will view none of them as so irreplaceable that they should be tagged.

Browns: Safety Tashaun Gipson’s contract year wasn’t strong enough to justify an eight-year salary for 2016. Other candidates include tackle Mitchell Schwartz and receiver Travis Benjamin. Schwartz is the more likely of the two to be tagged, but it won’t be cheap for either guy. Two years ago, the Browns went the transition-tag route with center Alex Mack, and it resulted in an offer sheet from the Jaguars that, although matched by the Browns, gives Mack the ability to walk away this offseason.

Steelers: The Steelers have no impending free agents worthy of either tag.

Titans: One of the benefits of being 5-27 over the last two years is that there’s no reason to tag any of their free agents.

Texans: Punter Shane Lechler turns 40 later this year, but he still has a big leg — and a big role for a team that often needs to play the field-position game.

Colts: Tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener are headed to free agency, but does either guy merit the tag? Probably not. Kicker Adam Vinatieri also is headed to free agency, but because he has been tagged two prior times during his career he would be eligible for the quarterback level of the franchise tender. Which means he’s not getting tagged.

Jaguars: Punter Bryan Anger was drafted before franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. And that’s probably the only time the word “franchise” will ever be used in reference to Anger.

Chiefs: Safety Eric Berry, the 2015 comeback player of the year, is a guy the Chiefs very much want to keep. The question becomes whether they want him badly enough to apply the franchise tag.

Chargers: Safety Eric Weddle is the primary candidate, but it feels as if the bridges are obliterated based on some bizarre events between team and player from late in the season. Tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green also are due to hit the market, but it would be hard to justify tagging either, given the cost.

Raiders: Tackle Donald Penn is due to hit the market. With the Raiders forced to spend plenty of money to comply with the minimum spending requirements, maybe they’ll consider doing what they have to do to keep around a guy who has started 32 of 32 games with the Raiders. (Even so, it’s still highly unlikely.)

Broncos: Linebacker Von Miller is a no-brainer for the franchise tag, absent a new deal. The Broncos may have to use the exclusive version to prevent another team from loading up an offer sheet and gladly giving up a pair of first-round picks to get him. If they can get Miller signed, defensive lineman Malik Jackson could be tagged. Quarterback Brock Osweiler almost definitely won’t be, given that the $20 million for 2016 would become the starting point for a long-term deal.

Cowboys: None of the free agents justify the tag.

Eagles: They may want to keep quarterback Sam Bradford, but a one-year franchise tender of $20 million sets the stage for the kind of contract the Eagles would never want to give him.

Giants: Kicker Josh Brown was tagged once by the Seahawks in 2007. He can be tagged one more time before the quarterback tender would apply to him. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul could be tagged a second time, but that’s highly unlikely. Ditto for former first-rounder Prince Amukamara, who hasn’t done enough to merit being tagged a first time.

Washington: Quarterback Kirk Cousins becomes the primary candidate, if the team can’t get him re-signed. But at $20 million for one year, is Cousins really worth it? From his perspective, it makes sense to go year-to-year if tagged, since he’d be eligible for unrestricted free agency or a tag of $24 million in 2017. That’s $44 million over two years, far more than Washington (or anyone else) would offer on a long-term deal now.

Vikings: The good news for the Vikings is that they made the playoffs. The better news is that they have no key free agents that would require tagging this year.

Packers: Kicker Mason Crosby is the primary candidate. Perhaps the only candidate.

Bears: Receiver Alshon Jeffery could be tagged, but will the Bears want to invest eight figures in a guy who underachieved in 2015, and who some suggest wasn’t playing through injury in order to avoid racking up bad performances?

Lions: They’ve got no one worthy of tagging this year, even with two starting defensive linemen (defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and defensive end Jason Jones) due to hit the market.

Falcons: The Falcons have no free agents that would justify use of the tag.

Buccaneers: In 2015, the Bucs opted not to exercise the fifth-year option on running back Doug Martin’s contract. That makes it very hard to justify using the much more expensive franchise tag now.

Saints: There’s no one to tag; tight end Benjamin Watson would merit some debate, but not much given his age. With quarterback Drew Brees counting for $30 million in 2016, they need to save their money.

Panthers: Cornerback Josh Norman undoubtedly will be tagged absent a long-term deal.

Cardinals: Despite a 13-3 season, the Cardinals have no free agents worthy of the investment associated with the franchise tag.

Rams: Four key starters in the secondary are due to hit the market, and cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins could be candidates for the tag. Kicker Greg Zuerlein also is a possibility, at a much lower investment.

Seahawks: Some have said that agent Russell Okung’s biggest fear is that tackle Russell Okung will be slapped with the franchise tag. Agent Russell Okung should welcome it, if he gets it. He won’t be getting it. Neither will linebacker Bruce Irvin. Punter Jon Ryan possibly could. The best news for the Seahawks is they won’t need it to keep quarterback Russell Wilson around.

49ers: Defensive tackle Ian Williams has become a reliable nose tackle, but it would be a shock if he’s tagged. Kicker Phil Dawson was tagged twice by the Browns; if the 49ers tag him, he’ll be entitled to quarterback money.

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Full list of 2016 unrestricted and restricted free agents-to-be

Denver Broncos’ Von Miller (58) holds the trophy after the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Broncos won 24-10.(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) AP

Now that the 2015 season is officially in the rear view mirror, it’s time to turn attention ahead to the season to come. The first step will be the annual frenzy of free agency to take place next month with the start of the new league year.

So which players will be available on the market when the new year begins? The giant list that follows contains the answers. In total, 528 players have contracts set to expire with 431 players set to be unrestricted free agents and 97 players to be restricted free agents.

This list does not include players that have been released by teams prior to free agency. It only includes players that have contracts set to expire with the start of the new league year next month.

The list that follows is organized by 2015 team:

Arizona Cardinals

DE/OLB Jason Babin
WR Jaron Brown (restricted)
DE Red Bryant
P Drew Butler (restricted)
FS Chris Clemons
OLB Dwight Freeney
TE Jermaine Gresham
SS Tony Jefferson (restricted)
RB Chris Johnson
FS Rashad Johnson
G Ted Larsen
LS Mike Leach (announced retirement)
OT Bobby Massie
CB Jerraud Powers
C Lyle Sendlein
OT Bradley Sowell
QB Drew Stanton
SS D.J. Swearinger (restricted)
ILB Sean Weatherspoon
CB Corey White
OLB LaMarr Woodley

Atlanta Falcons

CB Philip Adams
DE Kroy Biermann
G Chris Chester
DE Adrian Clayborn
FS Charles Godfrey
C Gino Gradkowski
K Shayne Graham
OT Bryce Harris
OT Jake Long
TE Tony Moeaki
OLB O’Brien Schofield
OT Ryan Schraeder (restricted)
OLB Nathan Stupar (restricted)
OLB Philip Wheeler
ILB Paul Worrilow (restricted)

Buffalo Bills

OLB Nigel Bradham
CB Ron Brooks
DT Corbin Bryant (restricted)
DE Alex Carrington
DT Stefan Charles (restricted)
OT Cordy Glenn
TE MarQueis Gray (restricted)
WR Leonard Hankerson
WR Percy Harvin
WR Chris Hogan (restricted)
G Richie Incognito
QB Josh Johnson
OT Jordan Mills (restricted)
OLB Ty Powell (restricted)
FS Bacarri Rambo (restricted)

Baltimore Ravens

WR Kamar Aiken (restricted)
WR Marlon Brown (restricted)
OLB Chris Carter
QB Jimmy Clausen
LS Morgan Cox
TE Chase Ford (restricted)
WR Chris Givens
OLB Albert McClellan
G Kelechi Osemele
TE Allen Reisner
QB Matt Schaub
SS Brynden Trawick (restricted)
K Justin Tucker
OLB Courtney Upshaw
CB Shareece Wright

Chicago Bears

OLB Sam Acho
CB Alan Ball
OT Nick Becton (restricted)
G Valdimir Ducasse
RB Matt Forte
TE Rob Housler
WR Alshon Jeffery
DE Jarvis Jenkins
WR Marc Mariani
FS Sherrod Martin
ILB Shea McClellin
CB Sherrick McManis
TE Zach Miller
C Will Montgomery
SS Ryan Mundy
G Patrick Omameh (restricted)
CB Tracy Porter
FS Chris Prosinski
OLB LaRoy Reynolds (restricted)
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
WR Deonte Thompson (restricted)
DE Mitch Unrein

Cleveland Browns

FS Johnson Bademosi
WR Travis Benjamin
OLB Tank Carder
FS Tashaun Gipson
SS Don Jones (restricted)
C Alex Mack (voidable contract)
OT Austin Pasztor (restricted)
WR Terrelle Pryor (restricted)
ILB Craig Robertson
OT Mitchell Schwartz
DE Scott Solomon (restricted)

Cincinnati Bengals

DE Wallace Gilberry
CB Leon Hall
SS George Iloka
CB Adam Jones
WR Marvin Jones
OLB Emmanuel Lamur
FS Reggie Nelson
OLB Vincent Rey
WR Mohamed Sanu
DT Pat Sims
OT Andre Smith
WR Brandon Tate
DT Brandon Thompson
OT Eric Winston

Carolina Panthers

WR Jerricho Cotchery
CB Cortland Finnegan
G Tyrone Green
SS Roman Harper
WR Stephen Hill (restricted)
LS J.J. Jansen
DT Kyle Love
CB Josh Norman
P Brad Nortman
OT Mike Remmers (restricted)
OT Chris Scott
G Amini Silatolu
CB Charles Tillman
FB Mike Tolbert
G Fernando Velasco
QB/WR Joe Webb

Denver Broncos

RB C.J. Anderson (restricted)
CB Omar Bolden
FS David Bruton
FS Josh Bush
WR Andre Caldwell
TE Vernon Davis
OT Ryan Harris
RB Ronnie Hillman
DE Malik Jackson
SS Shiloh Keo (restricted)
ILB Brandon Marshall (restricted)
G Evan Mathis
OLB Lerentee McCray (restricted)
OLB Von Miller
WR Jordan Norwood
QB Brock Osweiler
OT Tyler Polumbus
DT Antonio Smith
ILB Danny Trevathan
WR Kyle Williams

Dallas Cowboys

G Mackenzy Bernadeau
OT Charles Brown
QB Matt Cassel
CB Morris Claiborne
FB Tyler Clutts
DE Jack Crawford
RB Lance Dunbar
TE James Hanna
DE Greg Hardy
DT Nick Hayden
SS Jeff Heath (restricted)
OLB Cameron Lawrence (restricted)
G Ronald Leary (restricted)
ILB Rolando McClain
FS Danny McCray
DE Jeremy Mincey
CB Josh Thomas
RB Robert Turbin
OLB Kyle Wilber

Detroit Lions

SS Isa Abdul-Quddus
CB Crezdon Butler
DT Jermelle Cudjo
SS James Ihedigbo
DE Jason Jones
OLB Travis Lewis
WR Lance Moore
LS Don Muhlbach
DT Haloti Ngata
QB Dan Orlovsky
TE Bear Pascoe
G Manny Ramirez
DE Darryl Tapp
DT Tyrunn Walker
OLB Tahir Whitehead
CB Josh Wilson
DE Corey Wootton
WR Tim Wright (restricted)

Green Bay Packers

OT Don Barclay
K Mason Crosby
LS Brett Goode
DT Troy Guion
CB Casey Heyward
WR James Jones
FB John Kuhn
OLB Andy Mulumba (restricted)
ILB Mike Neal
OLB Nick Perry
TE Andrew Quarless
DT B.J. Raji
SS Sean Richardson
RB James Starks
G Lane Taylor (restricted)
QB Scott Tolzien

Houston Texans

CB A.J. Bouye (restricted)
G Brandon Brooks
OT Chris Clark
DE Jared Crick
SS Quintin Demps
RB Jonathan Grimes (restricted)
C Ben Jones
P Shane Lechler
CB Darryl Morris (restricted)
K Nick Novak
SS Eddie Pleasant (restricted)
RB Chris Polk
DE John Simon (restricted)
ILB Justin Tuggle (restricted)
WR Nate Washington
QB Brandon Weeden
QB T.J. Yates

Indianapolis Colts

TE Dwayne Allen
FS Colt Anderson
RB Ahmad Bradshaw
TE Jack Doyle (restricted)
TE Coby Fleener
ILB Jerrell Freeman
QB Matt Hasselbeck
RB Dan Herron (restricted)
G Lance Louis
FS Dwight Lowery
CB Greg Tolar
K Adam Vinatieri
QB Charlie Whitehurst
DT Billy Winn

Jacksonville Jaguars

P Bryan Anger
DE Andre Branch
DE Ryan Davis (restricted)
TE Clay Harbor
QB Chad Henne
DT Abry Jones (restricted)
TE Marcedes Lewis
RB Bernard Pierce
C Stefen Wisniewski
OT Sam Young

Kansas City Chiefs

FS Husain Abudullah
G Jeff Allen
WR Jason Avant
FS Eric Berry
SS Tyvon Branch
QB Chase Daniel
DE Mike DeVito
CB Jamell Fleming
DT Jaye Howard
ILB Derrick Johnson
OLB Dezman Moses
CB Sean Smith
OT Donald Stephenson
OLB Frank Zombo

Los Angeles Rams

C Tim Barnes
SS Mark Barron
FS Daren Bates (restricted)
WR Kenny Britt (voidable contract)
RB Benny Cunningham (restricted)
FS Cody Davis (restricted)
DT Nick Fairley
C Brian Folkerts
TE Cory Harkey
DE William Hayes
CB Janoris Jenkins
CB Trumaine Johnson
QB Case Keenum (restricted)
FS Rodney McLeod
WR Brian Quick
RB Chase Reynolds (restricted)
DE Eugene Sims
WR Wes Welker
K Greg Zuerlein

Miami Dolphins

FS Louis Delmas
ILB James-Michael Johnson
WR Rishard Matthews
G Jacques McClendon (restricted)
RB Lamar Miller
QB Matt Moore
OLB Spencer Paysinger
DE Derrick Shelby
ILB Kelvin Sheppard
G Shelley Smith
DE Olivier Vernon
TE Brandon Williams (restricted)

Minnesota Vikings

RB Matt Asiata
SS Robert Blanton
ILB Audie Cole
DT Kenrick Ellis
TE Rhett Ellison
OLB Chad Greenway
G Mike Harris
FB Zach Line (restricted)
OLB Casey Matthews
CB Terence Newman
CB Josh Robinson
SS Andrew Sendejo
CB Marcus Sherels
DE Justin Trattou
OLB Jason Trusnik

New England Patriots

RB LeGarrette Blount
CB Tarell Brown
FB James Develin (restricted)
FS Nate Ebner
WR Brandon Gibson
DE Akiem Hicks
G Kevin Hughes (restricted)
RB Steven Jackson
DT Sealver Siliga (restricted)
WR Bryan Tyms (restricted)
OT LaAdrian Waddle (restricted)
OLB Dekoda Watson
G Ryan Wendell
FS Tavon Wilson

New Orleans Saints

OLB James Anderson
FS Rafael Bush
RB Travaris Cadet
QB Matt Flynn
K Kai Forbath
RB Tim Hightower
TE Josh Hill (restricted)
OT Tony Hills
TE Michael Hoomanawanui
RB Kendall Hunter
G Senio Kelemete (restricted)
G Tim Lelito (restricted)
QB Luke McCown
G Mike McGlynn
CB Chris Owens
RB Khiry Robinson (restricted)
SS Jamarca Sanford
TE Benjamin Watson
DT Kevin Williams
CB Kyle Wilson

New York Giants

LS Danny Aiken
CB Prince Amukamara
DE Robert Ayers
ILB Jasper Brinkley
K Josh Brown
DT Barry Cofield
SS Craig Dahl
LS Zak DeOssie
TE Larry Donnell (restricted)
TE Daniel Fells
CB Jayron Hosley
DE Cullen Jenkins
DT Markus Kuhn
CB Trumaine McBride
SS Brandon Meriweather
G Brandon Mosley
WR Hakeem Nicks
DE Jason Pierre-Paul
WR Rueben Randle
G Dallas Reynolds
DE George Selvie

New York Jets

FS Antonio Allen
DE Stephen Bowen
K Randy Bullock
G Willie Colon
ILB Demario Davis
TE Kellen Davis
DT Leger Douzable
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
DT Damon Harrison
ILB Erin Henderson
G Benjamin Ijalana
RB Chris Ivory
FS Jaiquawn Jarrett
ILB Jamari Lattimore
WR Chris Owusu
OLB Calvin Pace
K Ryan Quigley (restricted)
RB Bilal Powell
RB Stevan Ridley
TE Zachary Sudfeld (restricted)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (restricted)
CB Darrin Walls
DE Muhammad Wilkerson

Oakland Raiders

OLB Lorenzo Alexander
SS Larry Asante
G Khalif Barnes
G Tony Bergstrom
LS Thomas Gafford
WR Andre Holmes
P Marquette King
DE Benson Mayowa (restricted)
SS Taylor Mays
OT Matt McCants (restricted)
QB Matt McGloin (restricted)
OT Donald Penn
WR Jeremy Ross (restricted)
WR Rod Streater
FS Neiko Thorpe (restricted)
DE Justin Tuck (announced retirement)
G J’Marcus Webb
FS Charles Woodson (announced retirement)

Philadelphia Eagles

WR Seyi Ajirotutu
CB E.J. Biggers
QB Sam Bradford (re-signed 3/1)
CB Nolan Carroll
DE Vinny Curry (re-signed 2/2)
ILB Najee Goode (re-signed 2/10)
QB Thaddeus Lewis
C Davis Molk (restricted)
DE Cedric Thornton
SS Walter Thurmond
OT Matt Tobin (restricted)

Pittsburgh Steelers

SS Will Allen
OT Kelvin Beachum
CB Antwon Blake
CB Brandon Boykin
G Ramon Foster
WR Terence Garvin (restricted)
CB William Gay
DE Clifton Geathers
FS Robert Golden
QB Bruce Gradkowski
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
FB Will Johnson
G Doug Legursky
DT Steve McLendon
WR David Nelson
OLB Sean Spence
OT Byron Stingily
DE Cam Thomas
RB Jordan Todman
QB Michael Vick
LS Greg Warren

San Diego Chargers

SS Jahleel Addae (restricted)
OT Joe Barksdale
QB Kellen Clemens
WR Malcom Floyd (announced retirement)
TE Antonio Gates
TE Ladarius Green
OT Chris Hairston
TE David Johnson
OT Jeff Linkenbach
DE Ricardo Mathews
ILB Joe Mays
TE John Phillips
DE Kendall Reyes
CB Patrick Robinson
CB Brandian Ross (restricted)
DE Damion Square (restricted)
G Johnnie Troutman (restricted)
CB Cassius Vaughn
C J.D. Walton
FS Eric Weddle

San Francisco 49ers

OLB Ray-Ray Armstrong (restricted)
WR Anquan Boldin
G Alex Boone
RB Reggie Bush
TE Garrett Celek
K Phil Dawson
RB Shaun Draughn
DT Tony Jerod-Eddie (restricted)
ILB Michael Wilhoite (restricted)
DT Ian Williams

Seattle Seahawks

OT Alvin Bailey (restricted)
RB Bryce Brown
TE Chase Coffman
FB Derrick Coleman (restricted)
DE Demarcus Dobbs
OLB Bruce Irvin
RB Fred Jackson
QB Tarvaris Jackson
C Lemuel Jeanpierre
WR Jermaine Kearse
CB Jeremy Lane
C Patrick Lewis (restricted)
WR Ricardo Lockette (restricted)
TE Anthony McCoy
DT Brandon Mebane
RB Christine Michael (restricted)
OLB Nick Moody (restricted)
OLB Mike Morgan
OT Russell Okung
DT Ahtyba Rubin
P Jon Ryan
G J.R. Sweezy
FB Will Tukuafu

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

DE Da’Quan Bowers
FS Chris Conte
OLB Larry English
CB Mike Jenkins
FB Jovorskie Lane (restricted)
OLB Danny Lansanah (restricted)
RB Doug Martin
DT Tony McDaniel
FS Bradley McDougald (restricted)
DT Henry Melton
CB Sterling Moore
RB Bobby Rainey
WR Russell Shepard (restricted)
CB Jordan Tandy

Tennessee Titans

G Byron Bell
ILB Zach Brown
WR Dorin Dickerson
CB Brandon Harris
DT Sammie Lee Hill
OLB Steven Johnson
G Joe Looney
DT Mike Martin
OT Jamon Meredith
CB Coty Sensabaugh
TE Craig Stevens
DT Al Woods

Washington Redskins

CB Will Blackmon
OT Tom Compton (restricted)
QB Kirk Cousins
C Brian De La Puente
ILB Mason Foster
OLB Junior Galette
DE Kedric Golston
SS Duke Ihenacho
DT Frank Kearse
DT Terrance Knighton
G Josh LeRibeus
QB Colt McCoy
RB Alfred Morris
TE Logan Paulson
ILB Keenan Robinson
TE Alex Smith
RB Pierre Thomas
CB Cary Williams
FB Darryl Young

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Full list of players invited to 2016 Scouting Combine

during the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images

The NFL has released the full list of participants in this year’s Scouting Combine, which will take place in Indianapolis from February 23-29.

Quarterbacks

Brandon Allen, Arkansas
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky
Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech
Jared Goff, California
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Cardale Jones, Ohio State
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
Vernon Adams (throwing QB), Oregon
Joel Stave (throwing QB), Wisconsin
Josh Woodrum (throwing QB), Liberty

The players listed as throwing quarterbacks will go through drills with the other quarterbacks and then remain on hand to throw to other offensive skill position players during their drills.

Running backs

Peyton Barber, Auburn
Devontae Booker, Utah
Tra Carson, Texas A&M
Alex Collins, Arkansas
Marshaun Coprich, Illinois State
Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech
Kenyan Drake, Alabama
Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
Tyler Ervin, San Jose State
Josh Ferguson, Illinois
Glenn Gronkowski (FB), Kansas State
Derrick Henry, Alabama
Quayvon Hicks (FB), Georgia
Jordan Howard, Indiana
Andy Janovich (FB), Nebraska
Devon Johnson, Marshall
Daniel Lasco, California
Tre Madden, USC
Keith Marshall, Georgia
Paul Perkins, UCLA
C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame
Wendell Smallwood, West Virginia
Kelvin Taylor, Florida
Shad Thornton, North Carolina State
Soma Vainuku (FB), USC
Dan Vitale (FB), Northwestern
DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech
Brandon Wilds, South Carolina
Jonathan Williams, Arkansas

Wide receivers

Bralon Addison, Oregon
Geronimo Allison, Illinois
DeMarcus Ayers, Houston
Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh
Chris Brown, Notre Dame
Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State
Devon Cajuste, Stanford
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
Cody Core, Ole Miss
Trevor Davis, California
Josh Doctson, TCU
D.J. Foster, Arizona State
Will Fuller, Notre Dame
Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa
Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
Johnny Holton, Cincinnati
Cayleb Jones, Arizona
Kenny Lawler, California
Roger Lewis, Bowling Green
Kolby Listenbee, TCU
Ricardo Louis, Auburn
Byron Marshall, Oregon
Jalin Marshall, Ohio State
Mekale McKay, Cincinnati
Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
Chris Moore, Cincinnati
Marquez North, Tennessee
Jordan Payton, UCLA
Charone Peake, Clemson
Demarcus Robinson, Florida
Alonzo Russell, Toledo
Rashawn Scott, Miami (Fla.)
Hunter Sharp, Utah State
Tajae Sharpe, Massachusetts
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
Nelson Spruce, Colorado
Michael Thomas, Ohio State
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
Duke Williams, Auburn
De’Runnya Wilson, Mississippi State

Tight ends

Jerell Adams, South Carolina
Stephen Anderson, California
Ben Braunecker, Harvard
Thomas Duarte, UCLA
David Grinnage, North Carolina State
Temarrick Hemingway, South Carolina State
Hunter Henry, Arkansas
Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky
Austin Hooper, Stanford
Ryan Malleck, Virginia Tech
Jake McGee, Florida
David Morgan, Texas-San Antonio
Beau Sandland, Montana State
Nick Vannett, Ohio State
Bryce Williams, East Carolina

Offensive line

Vadal Alexander (OT), LSU
Jack Allen (C), Michigan State
Willie Beavers (OT), Western Michigan
Caleb Benenoch (OT), UCLA
Austin Blythe (C), Iowa
Evan Boehm (C), Missouri
Jake Brendel (C), UCLA
Joe Cheek (OG), Texas A&M
Le’Raven Clark (OT), Texas Tech
Shon Coleman (OT), Auburn
Jack Conklin (OT), Michigan State
Fahn Cooper (OT), Ole Miss
Joe Dahl (OT), Washington State
Taylor Decker (OT), Ohio State
Spencer Drango (OT), Baylor
Parker Ehinger (OT), Cincinnati
Joshua Garnett (OG), Stanford
Graham Glasgow (C), Michigan
Darrell Greene (OG), San Diego State
Joe Haeg (OT), North Dakota State
Jerald Hawkins (OT), LSU
Germain Ifedi (OT), Texas A&M
Dominick Jackson (OT), Alabama
Tyler Johnstone (OT), Oregon
Nila Kasitati (OG), Oklahoma
Ryan Kelly (C), Alabama
Denver Kirkland (OT), Arkansas
Alex Lewis (OT), Nebraska
Nick Martin (C), Notre Dame
Tyler Marz (OT), Wisconsin
Connor McGovern (OG), Missouri
Kyle Murphy (OT), Stanford
Stephane Nembot (OT), Colorado
Rees Odhiambo (OT), Boise State
Alex Redmond (OG), UCLA
Dominique Robertson (OT), West Georgia
Isaac Seumalo (OG), Oregon State
Brandon Shell (OT), South Carolina
Matt Skura (C), Duke
Pearce Slater (OT), San Diego State
Jason Spriggs (OT), Indiana
Ronnie Stanley (OT), Notre Dame
John Theus (OT), Georgia
Joe Thuney (OT), North Carolina State
Cole Toner (OT), Harvard
Sebastian Tretola (OG), Arkansas
Max Tuerk (C), USC
Laremy Tunsil (OT), Ole Miss
Halapoulivaati Vaitai (OT), TCU
Chris Westerman (OG), Arizona
Cody Whitehair (OG), Kansas State
Avery Young (OT), Auburn

Defensive linemen

Mehdi Abdesmad (DE), Boston College
Sterling Bailey (DE), Georgia
Jimmy Bean (DE), Oklahoma State
Andrew Billings (DT), Baylor
Ronald Blair (DE), Appalachian State
Joey Bosa (DE), Ohio State
DeForest Buckner (DE), Oregon
Jonathan Bullard (DE), Florida
Vernon Butler (DT), Louisiana Tech
Shilique Calhoun (DE), Michigan State
Kenny Clark (DT), UCLA
Maliek Collins (DT), Nebraska
James Cowser (DE), Southern Utah
Sheldon Day (DT), Notre Dame
Kevin Dodd (DE), Clemson
Jason Fanaika (DE), Utah
Adam Gotsis (DT), Georgia Tech
Javon Hargrave (DT), South Carolina State
Joel Heath (DT), Michigan State
Willie Henry (DT), Michigan
Matt Ioannidis (DT), Temple
Branden Jackson (DE), Texas Tech
Quinton Jefferson (DT), Maryland
Austin Johnson (DT), Penn State
Chris Jones (DT), Mississippi State
Matt Judon (DE), Grand Valley State
Ufomba Kamalu (DE), Miami (Fla.)
Bronson Kaufusi (DE), BYU
Darius Latham (DT), Indiana
Nile Lawrence-Stample (DT), Florida State
Shaq Lawson (DE), Clemson
Dean Lowry (DE), Northwestern
Luther Maddy (DT), Virginia Tech
Chris Mayes (DT), Georgia
Alex McCalister (DE), Florida
Carl Nassib (DE), Penn State
Giorgio Newberry (DE), Florida State
Yannick Ngakoue (DE), Maryland
Dadi Nicolas (DE), Virginia Tech
Robert Nkemdiche (DT), Ole Miss
Shawn Oakman (DE), Baylor
Victor Ochi (DE), Stony Brook
Emmanuel Ogbah (DE), Oklahoma State
Romeo Okwara (DE), Notre Dame
Drew Ott (DE), Iowa
D.J. Pettway (DE), Alabama
Sheldon Rankins (DT), Louisville
D.J. Reader (DT), Clemson
Jarran Reed (DT), Alabama
Hassan Ridgeway (DT), Texas
A’Shawn Robinson (DT), Alabama
DeVaunte Sigler (DT), Jacksonville State (Ala.)
Noah Spence (DE), Eastern Kentucky
Charles Tapper (DE), Oklahoma
Lawrence Thomas (DT), Michigan State
Ron Thompson (DE), Syracuse
Vincent Valentine (DT), Nebraska
Jihad Ward (DT), Illinois
Adolphus Washington (DT), Ohio State
Antwaun Woods (DT), USC
Connor Wujciak (DT), Boston College
Anthony Zettel (DT), Penn State

Linebackers

Dominique Alexander (ILB), Oklahoma
Devante Bond (OLB), Oklahoma
Kentrell Brothers (OLB), Missouri
Beniquez Brown (OLB), Mississippi State
De’Vondre Campbell (OLB), Minnesota
Su’a Cravens (OLB), USC
Steven Daniels (ILB), Boston College
Kyler Fackrell (OLB), Utah State
Travis Feeney (OLB), Washington
Leonard Floyd (OLB), Georgia
Josh Forrest (ILB), Kentucky
Kris Frost (OLB), Auburn
B.J. Goodson (OLB), Clemson
Myles Jack (OLB), UCLA
Jordan Jenkins (OLB), Georgia
C.J. Johnson (ILB), Ole Miss
Deion Jones (OLB), LSU
Raphael Kirby (ILB), Miami (Fla.)
Nick Kwiatkoski (ILB), West Virginia
Darron Lee (OLB), Ohio State
Cory Littleton (OLB), Washington
Steve Longa (ILB), Rutgers
Curt Maggitt (OLB), Tennessee
Blake Martinez (ILB), Stanford
Tyler Matakevich (OLB), Temple
Cassanova McKinzy (ILB), Auburn
Antonio Morrison (ILB), Florida
Jared Norris (ILB), Utah
Montese Overton (OLB), East Carolina
Gionni Paul (ILB), Utah
Joshua Perry (ILB), Ohio State
Reggie Ragland (ILB), Alabama
Joe Schobert (OLB), Wisconsin
Jaylon Smith (OLB), Notre Dame
Terrance Smith (ILB), Florida State
Eric Striker (OLB), Oklahoma
Nick Vigil (ILB), Utah State
Stephen Weatherly (OLB), Vanderbilt
Scooby Wright III (ILB), Arizona

Defensive backs

Mackensie Alexander (CB), Clemson
Eli Apple (CB), Ohio State
Vonn Bell (FS), Ohio State
Briean Boddy-Calhoun (CB), Minnesota
James Bradberry (CB), Samford
Anthony Brown (CB), Purdue
LaMarcus Brutus (SS), Florida State
Artie Burns (CB), Miami (Fla.)
Juston Burris (CB), North Carolina State
Deon Bush (FS), Miami (Fla.)
Taveze Calhoun (CB), Mississippi State
Maurice Canady (CB), Virginia
Tevin Carter (SS), Utah
Jeremy Cash (SS), Duke
Ken Crawley (CB), Colorado
Sean Davis (CB), Maryland
K.J. Dillon (SS), Maryland
DeAndre Elliott (CB), Colorado State
Kavon Frazier (FS), Central Michigan
Kendall Fuller (CB), Virginia Tech
T.J. Green (FS), Clemson
Deiondre’ Hall (CB), Northern Iowa
Vernon Hargreaves (CB), Florida
De’Vante Harris (CB), Texas A&M
DeAndre Houston-Carson (FS), William & Mary
Xavien Howard (CB), Baylor
William Jackson III (CB), Houston
Cyrus Jones (CB), Alabama
Jonathan Jones (CB), Auburn
Karl Joseph (SS), West Virginia
Jayron Kearse (SS), Clemson
Miles Killebrew (SS), Southern Utah
Derrick Kindred (FS), TCU
Jordan Lomax (FS), Iowa
Jordan Lucas (SS), Penn State
Harlan Miller (CB), Southeastern Louisiana
Jalen Mills (SS), LSU
Eric Murray (CB), Minnesota
Keanu Neal (SS), Florida
Kevin Peterson (CB), Oklahoma State
Tyvis Powell (SS), Ohio State
Jimmy Pruitt (CB), San Jose State
Jalen Ramsey (CB), Florida State
Will Redmond (CB), Mississippi State
Rashard Robinson (CB), LSU
Keivarae Russell (CB), Notre Dame
Zack Sanchez (CB), Oklahoma
Kevon Seymour (CB), USC
Elijah Shumate (SS), Notre Dame
Justin Simmons (FS), Boston College
Leshaun Sims (CB), Southern Utah
Ryan Smith (CB), North Carolina Central
A.J. Stamps (FS), Kentucky
Darian Thompson (FS), Boise State
Cleveland Wallace (CB), San Jose State
D.J. White (CB), Georgia Tech
Brandon Williams (CB), Texas A&M
Daryl Worley (CB), West Virginia
Tavon Young (CB), Temple

Specialists

Roberto Aguayo (K), Florida State
Brad Craddock (K), Maryland
Riley Dixon (P), Syracuse
Lac Edwards (P), Sam Houston State
Ka’imi Fairbairn (K), UCLA
Tom Hackett (P), Utah
Drew Kaser (P), Texas A&M
Marshall Koehn (K), Iowa
Jimmy Landes (LS), Baylor
John Lunsford (K), Liberty
Will Monday (P), Duke
Jaden Oberkrom (K), TCU
Nick O’Toole (P), West Virginia

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QBs should protect themselves, but Cam picked the wrong time

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers stands on the field during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton may have cost his team a chance at the Super Bowl by getting too aggressive on a turnover. After Dalton threw an interception in Week 14 against the Steelers, he injured his throwing hand trying to make the tackle and was lost for the season. The Bengals were 10-2 at the time of Dalton’s injury, but they went 2-3 without Dalton the rest of the way, including a loss to the Steelers in the wild card round of the playoffs. Some quarterbacks don’t try to make the tackle after an interception, and in hindsight, the Bengals surely wish Dalton hadn’t made an effort after that Week 14 interception.

It was that kind of play Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was thinking about when he explained why he didn’t jump on his fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

“I’ve seen numerous quarterbacks throw interceptions and their effort afterwards, they don’t go,” Newton said. “I don’t dive on one fumble and because the way my leg was, it could’ve been contorted in a way. OK, you say my effort, I didn’t dive down. I fumbled, that’s fine, but . . . we didn’t lose that game ’cause of that fumble, I’ll tell you that. You can condemn and say, ‘Well, he gave up’ and this that and the third. But hey, as long as my teammates know, as long as my coaches know. It’s easy for a person to nitpick and say, ‘Aw man, Cam this, he gave up.’ That’s cool, that’s fine. I’m a grown man, I can understand that. But to say some things along the lines of that, and to say it to my face, that’s extremely different.”

Newton’s explanation makes sense. Every quarterback in football is told to protect himself. Run out of bounds. Slide feet first. Throw the ball away instead of taking a sack. Avoid contact. Save your body. Coaches tell quarterbacks that. Fans and members of the media criticize quarterbacks who fail to do that. Even the oldest of the old-school football people, the guys who pine for the days when men were men, players played both ways and you shook it off when you got your bell rung, will admit that a starting quarterback sometimes has to shy away from taking a hit.

Except for one thing: This was the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, with four minutes left and the Panthers down by one score. There are certain times when we expect our great athletes to lay it all on the line, and four minutes left in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl is one of those times.

Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said on today’s PFT Live that he used to instruct Peyton Manning to avoid contact after a turnover. But not in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

“My first thought was, ‘What are you doing?’ And you don’t know what’s going through his mind,” Dungy said of watching Newton’s fumble live. “Did he think it was gonna bounce and didn’t? But when I heard his explanation about not wanting to get hurt. . . . I’ve had Peyton Manning throw interceptions in the regular season and even in the playoffs, the first series of the game. Get out of the way, don’t get hurt, we’ve all seen quarterbacks get hurt. You can’t help your team if you’re injured. But the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, when if they pick that ball up the game’s over? You can’t worry about getting hurt at that point. You’re trying to win the Super Bowl.”

Newton has been ripped by some fans as a wimp or a coward for failing to fall on the football, and that’s unfair. Newton is probably the most physical quarterback in the NFL, a guy who doesn’t hesitate to lower his shoulders and run through a defender to pick up an extra yard. Last season, Newton broke two vertebra in a car accident on December 9, and on December 21 he was back on the field, running the ball 12 times for 63 yards and a touchdown while leading the Panthers to a victory that helped them reach the playoffs. Does that sound like a wimp or a coward to you?

But while Newton’s toughness shouldn’t be questioned, his decision-making on that one play should be. Newton screwed up. With four minutes left in the Super Bowl, he should have fought for the ball.

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2016 NFL Draft first round order

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Now that the season is over, the order for the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft is final. The draft starts April 28.

The order…

1. Tennessee Titans
2. Cleveland Browns
3. San Diego Chargers
4. Dallas Cowboys
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
6. Baltimore Ravens
7. San Francisco 49ers
8. Miami Dolphins
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10. New York Giants
11. Chicago Bears
12. New Orleans Saints
13. Philadelphia Eagles
14. Oakland Raiders
15. Los Angeles Rams
16. Detroit Lions
17. Atlanta Falcons
18. Indianapolis Colts
19. Buffalo Bills
20. New York Jets
21. Washington Redskins
22. Houston Texans
23. Minnesota Vikings
24. Cincinnati Bengals
25. Pittsburgh Steelers
26. Seattle Seahawks
27. Green Bay Packers
28. Kansas City Chiefs
29. Arizona Cardinals
30. Carolina Panthers
31. Denver Broncos

The Patriots don’t have a first round pick thanks to Deflategate. The Browns have pick No. 32, the first pick of the second round on Friday night of the draft.

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Full list of awards announced at NFL Honors

Cam Newton AP

The following awards were announced at NFL Honors on the eve of the Super Bowl:

Most Valuable Player: Cam Newton

Coach of the Year: Ron Rivera

Comeback Player of the Year: Eric Berry

Offensive Player of the Year: Cam Newton

Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Todd Gurley

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Peters

Rooney Sportsmanship Award: Charles Woodson

Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year: Anquan Boldin

Deacon Jones Award: J.J. Watt

FedEx Air Player of the Year: Carson Palmer

FedEx Ground Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson

Salute To Service Award: Vincent Jackson

Play of the Year: Aaron Rodgers

NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year: Antonio Brown

Greatness on the Road Award: Antonio Brown

Clutch Performer of the Year: Drew Brees

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PFT’s Super Bowl picks

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The mind can do crazy things in a two-week window, with first impressions yielding to outside-the-box ideas that can veer dangerously toward #hottaek territory. And while MDS may have made his own Super Bowl pick not long after the participants were locked in, I’ve spent much of the last two weeks going back and forth, knowing that whatever I predict the opposite surely will happen. Again.

Regardless, the job requires the picks to be made. Fortunately, the job doesn’t require the picks to be accurate.

Our conflicting Super Bowl picks appear below.

MDS’s take: The talk about this game will center around the quarterbacks, and that’s where the Panthers have an enormous advantage. Cam Newton is the MVP of the NFL. Peyton Manning, a five-time MVP, is a shell of his former self. When we talk about why the Panthers are favored, it starts with how much better Newton, at age 26, is than Manning, at age 39.

Where the Broncos have an advantage is the possibility that their pass rush can be the one to consistently both bring pressure to Newton to keep him from throwing downfield, and contain him to prevent him from making plays with his legs. If there’s any defense in the NFL that can keep Newton in check, it’s the Broncos’ defense.

And yet even if the Broncos’ defense plays well against the Panthers’ offense, the Broncos’ offense may struggle to move the ball, which will put the Panthers in good field position and make it almost impossible for Denver to keep Carolina off the scoreboard. That’s how I see this game playing out: A battle of field position that the Panthers ultimately win.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 27, Broncos 20.

Florio’s take: I’m getting sick of saying, “We should have seen it coming.” Whether in recent Super Bowls or Denver’s playoff run, we fall in love with the favorite and the underdog finds a way to win and we say, “We should have seen it coming.” For a change, I want to see it coming before it happens.

I want to envision before it happens that the Broncos have developed and executed a ball-control game plan, with running back C.J. Anderson adding significantly to the 72 yards gained in each of his team’s two postseason victories. I want to envision before it happens quarterback Peyton Manning milking the clock on every snap, chewing up large chunks of the 40-second play clock and shortening the game. I want to envision before it happens the Panthers offense stuck on the sideline and frustrated as the Broncos dink and dunk their way down the field. I want to envision before it happens no turnovers from the Broncos, specifically no snaps whizzing by Manning’s head on the opening drive of the game. I want to envision before it happens Manning playing better than he has all year, combining full health with the abandon that comes from playing each game as if it’s his last because this one, with a win, undoubtedly will be.

I want to envision before it happens a defensive effort orchestrated by coordinator Wade Phillips, who has coached in the NFL for decades and never has been crowned a champion. I want to envision before it happens Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Malik Jackson, and Derek Wolfe chasing and harassing Cam Newton more than he has been chased and harassed all year. I want to envision before it happens Denver not giving tight end Greg Olsen a free release from the line of scrimmage, either by roughing him up with linebackers or putting cornerback Aqib Talib on him, one on one. I want to envision before it happens Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby blanketing Ted Ginn and Corey Brown like they did Green Bay’s receivers, the night Aaron Rodgers inexplicably generated fewer than 80 passing yards. I want to envision before it happens one of the team’s starting safeties not pulling a Rahim Moore and badly misplaying a critical deep throw.

I want to envision before it happens the Sheriff standing under falling confetti, soaking up one last time the sights and sounds of a football stadium immediately after a big game. I want to envision before it happens said Sheriff ambling off the field with a silver trophy tucked in his back pocket, and the Panthers vowing to be back again soon to get one of their own, because they will be.

Ultimately, I want to envision before it happens everyone else saying, “We should have seen it coming” and me, for once, saying, “I did.”

Florio’s pick: Broncos 26, Panthers 23.

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PFT’s 2015 awards

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The regular season ended 20 days ago, and all key coaching and G.M. jobs are now filled. So before the Final Four whittles to the teams that will end up on all of the Super Bowl 50 merchandise, it’s a good time to recognize the best of the best from the 2015 regular season.

It also makes sense to do it before my roof caves in under 20-plus inches of snow and knocks out my Internet, along with my existence.

In past years, we’ve milked the cow gradually, posting one award per day until they were all done. This year, I’m going with the quick Band-Aid removal technique, pulling the sheet from all the awards at once. If you agree or disagree with any of them, make your thoughts known in the comments below.

The awards were determined by input from the PFT staff, but ultimately I put the names in a hat spent hours of careful deliberation determining the winner and one runner-up in each category.

Offensive rookie of the year: Rams running back Todd Gurley. (Runner-up: Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.)

Defensive rookie of the year: Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters. (Runner-up: Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams.)

Offensive player of the year: Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. (Runner-up: Falcons receiver Julio Jones.)

Defensive player of the year: Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. (Runner-up: Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.)

Comeback player of the year: Chiefs safety Eric Berry. (Runner-up: Saints running back Tim Hightower.)

Coach of the year: Panthers coach Ron Rivera. (Runner-up: Broncos coach Gary Kubiak.)

Executive of the year: Seahawks G.M. John Schneider. (Runner-up: Panthers G.M. Dave Gettleman.)

MVP: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. (Runner-up: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.)

And that’s that. No dinner, no prize, no press release, no plaque. Just the satisfaction from knowing that a group of dude’s in their mom’s basements know greatness when they see it.

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PFT’s conference championship game picks

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I’m waving the white flag. As if I had a choice.

Through eight games of the postseason, MDS is a perfect 8-0. With three games to go and yours truly three games behind him, the fact that we agree on both conference championship games means there’s no way I can catch him.

Sure, I could have changed both picks once I saw he had selected the same ones I had. But then I would have had to suspend myself for the first four weeks of the 2016 season. And then I would have had to sue myself to get reinstated.

Patriots at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Broncos have been winning all year with their defense, but the Patriots’ offense looks well-suited to beating the Broncos, with Tom Brady throwing short, quick passes to Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Brady throws the ball so quickly that the Broncos’ pass rush won’t have a lot of time to get to him, and that gives the Patriots an edge. New England will surely score a lot more than the 16 points the Steelers managed in Denver on Sunday. So the question is, Can the Broncos’ offense keep up? I have my doubts. Bill Belichick will dare Peyton Manning to try to go deep against the Patriots’ defense, and Manning just doesn’t have the zip and accuracy on his deep balls that he once did. The Patriots’ defense will frustrate Manning into a rough game, and the Patriots will win.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Broncos 17.

Florio’s take: Tom Brady has won only 25 percent of his career starts in Denver, beating Danny Kanell and Tim Tebow and losing to the likes of Brian Griese and Kyle Orton. Last time, the Pats fell in overtime after losing Rob Gronkowski late and not having Julian Edelman at all. This time, Brady has both — and star Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. has a shoulder injury that left him playing with one arm against the Steelers. The one arm that matters most will be the right arm of Brady, who continues his post-#DeflateGate quest to spoil the NFL’s golden Super Bowl party by grabbing something silver from Roger Goodell — and perhaps then telling him to stick this in his trophy case.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Broncos 23.

Cardinals at Panthers

MDS’s take: Two Cardinals injuries are going to make this game tough on Arizona: Without Tyrann Mathieu, I see the Cardinals having a tough time covering Panthers tight end Greg Olsen. And without Chris Johnson, I see the Cardinals having a tough time getting big plays on the ground. Because of those injuries, I’m picking the Panthers to win a close, low-scoring game. Look for Olsen to be Carolina’s leading receiver, and for the Panthers’ defense to hold the Cardinals’ offense mostly in check. The Cardinals are the best team the Panthers have faced, but the Panthers will manage a hard-fought win.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 17, Cardinals 14.

Florio’s take: The Panthers have the best nucleus of talent of any team in the NFL, by far. From Cam Newton to Greg Olsen to Luke Kuechly to Kawann Short to Josh Norman, no one else has four players who are that good at what they do. It’s the rest of the team that could be a problem against the Cardinals, especially since Norman can only cover one of Arizona’s excellent receivers, consisting of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown, and speedster J.J. Nelson. Maybe Kuechly could cover Fitzgerald in the slot (not for many snaps, but for a few). Even then, Norman can’t handle the rest by himself, which means that Cortland Finnegan (who got a right place/right time interception against the Seahawks) will have to contribute, in some way. Or maybe Finnegan won’t matter. Maybe the Panthers are good enough (and their home field will be bad enough) to allow them to beat a team that lost by 30 in Week 17 to the team the Panthers were beating by 31 at halftime. Fitzgerald played against the Packers like a man who won’t be denied a championship, but he’ll have no control over what Cam Newton and company do when they are on the field.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 30, Cardinals 27.

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NFL Network drops the ball with Super Bowl I re-broadcast

Football: Super Bowl I: Kansas City Chiefs Mike Garrett (21) in action, rushing as Green Bay Packers Willie Davis (87) looks on during game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. 
Los Angeles, CA 1/15/1967
CREDIT: Neil Leifer (Photo by Neil Leifer /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X12152 ) Getty Images

When the NFL Films announced that it had cobbled together every play of Super Bowl I, and that NFL Network would show the game in its entirety, it sounded like a landmark achievement in sports broadcasting: The full recording of Super Bowl I was previously thought lost to history, and Friday night’s re-airing would be a historic moment.

Instead, it was a major disappointment.

Although NFL Network did, in fact, show every play of Super Bowl I, its presentation fell far short of a full re-broadcast of the game. NFL Media had said the game would feature the original radio call of Jim Simpson, who passed away this week at the age of 88, but what NFL Network mostly showed was its own analysts, in their familiar Los Angeles studio, talking over the game. The commentary wasn’t particularly interesting, didn’t offer much historical insight or actual analysis of the game, and served only to detract from what should have been a big event for NFL Network.

Perhaps NFL Media thought it needed that kind of filler content because the NFL Films footage didn’t include all the moments between plays. Maybe it would have seemed jarring to viewers if the broadcast had been full of stops and starts. But even if thats the case, the filler content could have been so much better. The good stuff — like an interview with Len Dawson, the Chiefs’ quarterback in Super Bowl I — was far too brief. And the bad stuff — like the Los Angeles studio commentators informing us that The Beatles and The Monkees were the top musical acts in January of 1967, when Super Bowl I was played — went on way too long. I could listen to Len Dawson talk about Super Bowl I for three hours, but I don’t want to listen to NFL Network analysts who had no connection to Super Bowl I talk for three hours.

The best thing I can say for the NFL Network broadcast is that it could be fixed, if NFL Media is willing. The network could air Super Bowl I again and include only sound from the participants — actually letting us hear Simpson’s original radio broadcast, and filling in holes with better features, like NFL Films audio of coaches Vince Lombardi and Hank Stram. A re-airing of Super Bowl I could be a great broadcasting achievement, but NFL Network needs to do it right.

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PFT’s divisional round picks

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MDS notched a perfect 4-0 in the wild-card round, after picking all four road teams to win. I foolishly trusted the Texans to play better than they did against the Chiefs in Week One, and I gave in to the guilt that arose from not believing in Washington late in the year. (Memo to self: Next year, don’t believe in Washington. Ever.)

So he leads by two games with eight postseason games left, and we disagree on a single game this weekend so I’ll either have a chance to catch him as of next weekend or I’ll be cooked.

For this week’s picks, scroll.

Chiefs at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Chiefs are as hot as any team in the NFL right now, riding an 11-game winning streak after an absolute destruction of the Texans. But here’s the thing about that Chiefs winning streak: They’ve beaten a bunch of bad quarterbacks along the way. The Chiefs’ streak started with Landry Jones and the Steelers, featured the day when Peyton Manning looked like he was about to die of old age on the field, and included wins over quarterbacking luminaries like Jimmy Clausen and Johnny Manziel. We haven’t seen the Chiefs tested against a good quarterback like they will be on Saturday against Tom Brady, and I think the result will be that Brady picks apart the Kansas City secondary, and the Patriots move on to the AFC Championship Game.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Chiefs 20.

Florio’s take: The Chiefs sparked last year’s run of excellence by the Patriots with a 41-14 prime-time blowout. This year, the Chiefs get the first postseason crack at ending New England’s quest for a fifth championship, while riding a Pats-style double-digit winning streak. This one could go either way, especially if Tom Brady can’t get rid of the ball quickly. Which makes receiver Julian Edelman critical; he needs to be able to play, and he needs to be able to get open quickly. If he does, the Patriots should be able to earn another berth in the AFC title game.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Chiefs 23.

Packers at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The good news for Green Bay is that this game won’t be as ugly as their December trip to Arizona, when they lost 38-8. The bad news is that it’s really, really hard to see a scenario in which the Packers manage to win this game. The Cardinals do just about everything better than the Packers, and the Cardinals will be well rested and playing at home. Maybe Aaron Rodgers has some magic up his sleeve, but even if he does, that probably means the Cardinals will win a high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 35, Packers 31.

Florio’s take: At one point, it looked like the Packers were just good enough to lose in the divisional round. Then, after a 30-point loss at Arizona, it appeared they were just good enough to get blown out there. This one should be closer, but let’s not get carried away by a Green Bay win over the none-of-the-above champions of the NFC East. The Cardinals battered Aaron Rodgers the last time around; this time, Rodgers will likely get rid of the ball more quickly, which will give the Arizona defensive backs more opportunities to make interceptions.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 27, Packers 13.

Seahawks at Panthers

MDS’s take: This is, to me, the hardest game of the weekend to pick. The Seahawks, when they’re at their best, are probably the best team in the league. But it’s hard to have a lot of confidence that they’ll play their best on Sunday at Carolina after a shaky win over the Vikings on Sunday. The Panthers had the best record in the league during the regular season, but they did it against an easy schedule. I’m a little more confident in Russell Wilson having a big game than I am in Cam Newton, but I’m more confident in the Panthers’ defense playing at home than I am in the Seahawks’ defense with their second straight road game. This almost comes down to a coin flip, but I’ll take the Panthers.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 21, Seahawks 20.

Florio’s take: Sometimes (most of the time), you get what you pay for when visiting this site. For weeks, I’ve had a strong gut feeling that the Panthers will earn the No. 1 seed, host the Seahawks in the divisional round, and lose. I’m going with my gut on this one, because there’s otherwise no clear way to discern a winner between a pair of teams that have been squaring off every year — and usually playing close games.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Panthers 23.

Steelers at Broncos

MDS’s take: If the Steelers were at full strength, I’d like their chances of going to Denver and winning. But with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown both dealing with injuries suffered Saturday in Cincinnati, and DeAngelo Williams still dealing with a foot injury that kept him out last week, the Steelers’ offense will be at less than full strength against a very good Denver defense. I’m not expecting a big game passing from Peyton Manning, but I am expecting Manning to run the offense efficiently and make a few big plays when the Broncos’ offense needs it, and Denver will win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 17, Steelers 13.

Florio’s take: It’s still too early to know whether receiver Antonio Brown will play. And no one will know until the game starts whether quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be able to make all the throws. Meanwhile, no one knows how Peyton Manning will hold up during his first start since November 15. So picking this one is even more of a crapshoot than the crap I usually shoot. The Steelers’ injuries at this point concern me more than Denver’s.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 24, Steelers 20.

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