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PFT’s one (and only) simulated draft

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We’re done with mock drafts. In place of the practice of throwing a handful of darts over the course of two months, we’re taking one shot.

Blindfolded. In a room that contains a dart board. And we’re not entirely sure that we’re pointed in the general direction of the bull’s-eye.

So here’s the first and only (for this year, perhaps forever) PFT simulated draft.

How is it different than a mock draft? It isn’t. The name is different. It’s like calling mock apple pie what it really is.

So enjoy simulated draft. Like an apple pie filed with Ritz crackers and cinnamon but no actual apples, it will fill you up — with zero nutritional value.

1. Rams: Jared Goff, quarterback, Cal.

2. Eagles: Carson Wentz, quarterback, North Dakota State.

3. Chargers: Laremy Tunsil, tackle, Mississippi.

4. Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, defensive back, Florida State.

5. Jaguars: Joey Bosa, defensive end, Ohio State.

6. Ravens: DeForest Buckner, defensive end, Oregon.

7. 49ers: Paxton Lynch, quarterback, Memphis.

8. Browns: Myles Jack, linebacker, UCLA.

9. Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves III, cornerback, Florida.

10. Giants: Darron Lee, linebacker, Ohio State.

11. Bears: Ronnie Stanley, tackle, Notre Dame.

12. Saints: Sheldon Rankins, defensive tackle, Louisville.

13. Dolphins: Ezekiel Elliott, running back, Ohio State.

14. Raiders: Leonard Floyd, linebacker, Georgia.

15. Titans: Josh Doctson, receiver, TCU.

16. Lions: Jarran Reed, defensive tackle, Alabama.

17. Falcons: Robert Nkemdiche, defensive tackle, Mississippi.

18. Colts: Kamalei Correa, linebacker, Boise State.

19. Bills: Shaq Lawson, defensive end, Clemson.

20. Jets: Jack Conklin, tackle, Michigan State.

21. Washington: Ryan Kelly, center, Alabama.

22. Texans: Taylor Decker, tackle, Ohio State.

23. Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, receiver, Mississippi.

24. Bengals: Reggie Ragland, linebacker, Alabama.

25. Steelers: Karl Joseph, safety, West Virginia.

26. Seahawks: Germain Ifedi, tackle, Texas A&M.

27. Packers: Kenny Clark, nose tackle, UCLA.

28. Chiefs: Corey Coleman, receiver, Baylor.

29. Cardinals: Christian Hackenberg, quarterback, Penn State.

30. Panthers: Eli Apple, cornerback, Ohio State.

31. Broncos: Connor Cook, quarterback, Michigan State.

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Fifth-year option tracker

Steve Johnson, Kenny Vaccaro, Corey White AP

The complete list of 2013 first-round picks and their fifth-year contract option status is below. The list will be updated as appropriate; we analyzed the easy decisions and some of the more difficult ones here.

The deadline for teams to pick up fifth-year options is May 2.

1. Eric Fisher, OT, Chiefs (the Chiefs picked up his option)

2. Luke Joeckel, OT, Jaguars (the Jagurs will not pick up his option)

3. Dion Jordan, DE, Dolphins (his suspension froze his contract and pushes the option back)

4. Lane Johnson, OT, Eagles (previously signed a new, long-term deal with the Eagles)

5. Ziggy Ansah, DE, Lions (the Lions picked up his option)

6. Barkevious Mingo, OLB, Browns (the Browns did not pick up his option)

7. Jonathan Cooper, G, Cardinals (Cooper was traded to the Patriots, who did not pick up his option)

8. Tavon Austin, WR, Rams (the Rams picked up his option)

9. Dee Milliner, CB, Jets (the Jets won’t pick up his option)

10. Chance Warmack, G, Titans (the Titans won’t pick up his option)

11. D.J. Fluker, OT, Chargers (the Chargers announced they’ve picked up his option)

12. DJ Hayden, CB, Raiders (the Raiders declined to pick up his option)

13. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Jets (the Jets picked up his option)

14. Star Lotulelei, DT, Panthers (the Panthers picked up his option)

15. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Saints (was the first player to have his option picked up)

16. E.J. Manuel, QB, Bills (the Bills declined to pick up his option)

17. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Steelers (the Steelers declined to pick up his option)

18. Eric Reid, S, 49ers (the 49ers picked up his option)

19. Justin Pugh, OL, Giants (the Giants have picked up his option)

20. Kyle Long, OL, Bears (the Bears announced they have picked up the option)

21. Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals (the Bengals announced they have picked up the option)

22. Desmond Trufant, CB, Falcons (the Falcons announced they have picked up the option)

23. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Vikings (the Vikings picked up his option)

24. Bjoern Werner, DE, Colts (was cut by the Colts last month)

25. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Vikings (the Vikings picked up his option)

26. Datone Jones, DE, Packers (the Packers declined his option)

27. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans (the Texans exercised the option on Hopkins’ contract)

28. Sylvester Williams, DT, Broncos (the Broncos will not pick up Williams’ option)

29. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings (the Vikings declined to pick up his option)

30. Alec Ogletree, LB, Rams (the Rams picked up his option)

31. Travis Frederick, C, Cowboys (the Cowboys exercised the option)

32. Matt Elam, S, Ravens (the Ravens declined to pick up his option)

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The full arbitration ruling regarding the Personal Conduct Policy

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Previously, PFT had obtained the memo from NFL general counsel Jeff Pash to all teams characterizing the 54-page arbitration ruling in the grievance triggered by the league’s implementation of a new Personal Conduct Policy in December 2014. PFT has now obtained the full 54-page arbitration ruling.

So, basically, I know what I’ll be doing for the next hour or so. If I can stay awake.

After reading all 54 pages, I’ll post another item with my own interpretation of the ruling. The NFL Players Association, per a source the knowledge of the union’s reaction to the ruling, believes that the outcome is far more complicated than the Pash memo suggests. The NFLPA also believes that the union has secured some “key victories” in the ruling.

If you want to read the ruling and look for the “key rulings,” feel free. Otherwise, I’ll be playing this specific game of “Where’s Waldo?” on my own.

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2016 NFL preseason schedule

Andrew Luck,  Nick Perry AP

The NFL announced 65 preseason matchups Thursday, including eight that will be nationally televised in August.

Exact dates and times were only announced for those national TV games, starting with the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 7 between the Packers and Colts. All other games were announced for a weekend window starting with the first weekend of preseason play, Aug. 11-15. The second weekend is Aug. 18-22, and the third is Aug. 25-28. The preseason closes no later than Friday Sept. 2.

Teams generally open training camp 15 days before their first preseason game. Only the Packers and Colts play five preseason games; all other teams play four.

The entire schedule is below.

August 7

Green Bay vs. Indianapolis (ESPN – Canton, OH)

WEEK 1 – August 11-15

Dallas at Los Angeles (ESPN, 8/13)

Carolina at Baltimore

Cleveland at Green Bay

Denver at Chicago

Detroit at Pittsburgh

Houston at San Francisco

Indianapolis at Buffalo

Jacksonville at NY Jets

Miami at NY Giants

Minnesota at Cincinnati

New Orleans at New England

Oakland at Arizona

San Diego at Tennessee

Seattle at Kansas City

Tampa Bay at Philadelphia

Washington at Atlanta

WEEK 2 – August 18-22

Arizona at San Diego

Atlanta at Cleveland

Baltimore at Indianapolis

Carolina at Tennessee

Chicago at New England

Cincinnati at Detroit

Kansas City at Los Angeles

Miami at Dallas

Minnesota at Seattle

New Orleans at Houston

NY Giants at Buffalo

NY Jets at Washington

Oakland at Green Bay

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh

San Francisco at Denver

Tampa Bay at Jacksonville

WEEK 3 – August 25-28

Atlanta at Miami (NBC, 8/25)

Cleveland at Tampa Bay (CBS, 8/26)

Tennessee at Oakland (CBS, 8/27)

San Diego at Minnesota (FOX, 8/28)

Arizona at Houston (FOX, 8/28)

Cincinnati at Jacksonville (NBC, 8/28)

Buffalo at Washington

Dallas at Seattle

Detroit at Baltimore

Green Bay at San Francisco

Kansas City at Chicago

Los Angeles at Denver

New England at Carolina

NY Giants at NY Jets

Philadelphia at Indianapolis

Pittsburgh at New Orleans

WEEK 4 – September 1-2

Baltimore at New Orleans

Buffalo at Detroit

Chicago at Cleveland

Denver at Arizona

Green Bay at Kansas City

Houston at Dallas

Indianapolis at Cincinnati

Jacksonville at Atlanta

Los Angeles at Minnesota

New England at NY Giants

NY Jets at Philadelphia

Pittsburgh at Carolina

San Francisco at San Diego

Seattle at Oakland

Tennessee at Miami

Washington at Tampa Bay

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What is the NFL’s actual position on the link between football and CTE?


So does the NFL concede that there’s a link between football and CTE? The answer isn’t as clear as it could be, or should be.

NFL executive V.P. of player health and safety Jeff Miller recently told a Congressional committee that a link exists. Multiple owners have since questioned Miller’s remarks. But Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that Miller’s comments properly reflect the NFL’s position.

“We think the statements that have been made through Jeff Miller and others have been consistent with our position over the years,” Goodell said at the conclusion of the NFL’s annual meetings.

So what is the league’s position? NFL general counsel Jeff Pash recently addressed it in a memo sent to all team presidents and chief executives.

The March 17 memo, a copy of which PFT has obtained, initially provides the full context of Miller’s remarks at the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s “roundtable discussion” regarding concussions: “In the course of the dialogue, and following comments of doctors from Boston University, Jeff [Miller] was asked whether he thinks ‘there is a link between football and degenerative brain disorders, like CTE.’ In response, Jeff replied, ‘Well, certainly, Dr. McKee’s research shows that a number of retired NFL players were diagnosed with CTE. So, the answer to that question is certainly yes.’ Jeff went on to say that ‘the broader point . . . is what that necessarily means and where do we go from here with that information,’ noting that question of ‘incidence’ and ‘prevalence’ are best addressed by medical experts.”

Pash’s memo next says that “[n]otwithstanding how these comments have been characterized in the media, they are consistent with views that the league has previously expressed.” The memo then summarizes several points regarding the league’s position on the issue.

First, Pash’s memo explains that “the NFL has recognized for years that studies, including those done at Boston University, have identified retired players who were diagnosed with CTE following their deaths.” The memo notes that the league has helped fund Boston University’s research, and that “[t]here is nothing in Jeff [Miller’s] comment that is different from or that goes beyond those prior statements.”

Second, Pash’s memo points out that each NFL locker room has a poster regarding concussions, which explains that the failure to properly manage concussions places players at risk of long-term brain injuries.

Third, Pash’s memo points out much is still not known about CTE. Research regarding the condition is “in its infancy,” and studies identifying CTE in deceased football players “have been based on a largely self-selected population and those studies have appropriately recognized this selection bias.” This means, according to Pash’s memo, that “there is no reliable evidence on the incidence or prevalence of CTE, either in professional football players or in the general population,” adding that “[t]he current state of the science does not permit any reliable statement about what events make a person more at risk to develop CTE.” Pash’s memo also states that the “causal relationship between concussions and CTE is unknown,” and that scientists and researchers have concluded that “the speculation that repeated concussion or subconcussive impacts cause CTE remains unproven.” Also, Pash explains that current studies “do no control for genetic, environmental or other individual risk factors.”

Fourth, Pash’s memo explains that many cases of CTE “developed in the context of football as it was played decades ago,” and that the league’s knowledge regarding concussions “has grown considerably since then.”

To summarize, then, the league acknowledges that researchers have found CTE in football players, and that the league has taken steps to warn players about the potential connection between concussions and long-term brain injuty. But the league is not prepared to concede that football and CTE have a clear link without further research regarding the prevalence of CTE in the non-football-playing population and the potential impact of genetics, environment, and the risk factors.

So the league isn’t really admitting to anything concrete regarding a potential link between CTE and football, and the league doesn’t believe that Miller admitted to anything concrete regarding the link between CTE and football.  Given the timing of the memo, its equivocal contents may help explain some of the confusing comments that multiple owners made the following week at the annual meetings.

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All NFL players should be making at least $1 million per year

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[Editor’s note: Agent Neil Schwartz recently approached me with an idea to make veteran players more attractive to teams and, more importantly, to ensure that all NFL players make a very comfortable living. The end result is a column on which Schwartz and I collaborated. Any typos are his fault.]

As the NFL and its players learn more about the realities of playing pro football, it’s more important than ever that all players receive fair compensation for the risks they assume. And by all players, that means every player. Which means that each player should have a minimum salary that reflects the maximum toll the game can take on the human body.

Currently, the league ties minimum salary to experience. For new players, it’s $450,000. For players with 10 or more years of experience, the minimum rises to $985,000. This disparity makes younger players more attractive than older ones, even with the “minimum salary benefit,” a device that provides teams with a salary-cap break on older players with minimum-salary deals, but not a cash break.

When it comes to the 29 positions on the 53-man roster that don’t go to offensive and defensive starters, cheaper is usually better. And younger is always cheaper.

The gap between young/cheap and old/costly gets partially bridged under the existing labor deal through the performance-based pool, which gives the lowest-paid players more money based on how much they play. Still, that money comes from the league at large; at the team level, going young on the back half of the roster means saving money. Which gives the teams even more leverage when squeezing veteran players to take less.

So why not guarantee every NFL player who is on an active roster more? The floor should be the same for all players, and the best place to start is the number that still exudes “rich.” One million dollars.

Yes, the minimum salary for all players should be the same, regardless of experience. And it should be $1 million dollars for now, with increases based upon the annual increases in the salary cap.

The adjustment will cost the owners nothing, since they’re already operating in a salary-capped environment. It will, as a practical matter, pick the pockets of some the NFL’s richest players, but maybe the league needs a dash of Robin Hood in order to ensure that all players are able to exit the sport with enough money to have made it worth their while.

As a practical matter, non-superstars who currently are making a significant amount of money would likely lose the most. But that group isn’t nearly big enough to dictate policy for the union at large. As a matter of basic fairness, those players still have every right to negotiate competitively the best possible deal within the confines of the salary cap — a dynamic that all players currently face.

Increasing the minimum salary regardless of experience will create an incentive both for teams to keep older players and for older players to keep playing. It also will make the sport even more attractive for the vast majority who currently won’t get truly rich but could die prematurely for the trying.

That latter angle could be the most important one. At a time when a smattering of veterans are walking away from the game due to concussion concerns, no rookies currently are opting out of the chance to get drafted. At some point, that could change. Putting more money on the table sooner than later could keep that from happening.

Although the current labor agreement has five years remaining on it, side deals can be reached at any time. This is a potential side deal that will help both sides significantly, a true win-win for management and labor that in turn can be a big win for most players.

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Official 2016 NFL Draft order

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpty0mge5ytk3yti5ntexnmfindazzjywm2i4ogq1ztiz AP

The official 2016 NFL Draft order, as released by the NFL Tuesday.

Round One is April 28. Rounds Two and Three are April 29, and the draft concludes April 30.


1- 1- 1 Tennessee
1- 2- 2 Cleveland
1- 3- 3 San Diego
1- 4- 4 Dallas
1- 5- 5 Jacksonville
1- 6- 6 Baltimore
1- 7- 7 San Francisco
1- 8- 8 Philadelphia from Miami
1- 9- 9 Tampa Bay
1-10-10 New York Giants
1-11-11 Chicago
1-12-12 New Orleans
1-13-13 Miami from Philadelphia
1-14-14 Oakland
1-15-15 Los Angeles
1-16-16 Detroit
1-17-17 Atlanta
1-18-18 Indianapolis
1-19-19 Buffalo
1-20-20 New York Jets
1-21-21 Washington
1-22-22 Houston
1-23-23 Minnesota
1-24-24 Cincinnati
1-25-25 Pittsburgh
1-26-26 Seattle
1-27-27 Green Bay
1-28-28 Kansas City
1-29- New England (Forfeited)
1-30-29 Arizona
1-31-30 Carolina
1-32-31 Denver


2- 1-32 Cleveland
2- 2-33 Tennessee
2- 3-34 Dallas
2- 4-35 San Diego
2- 5-36 Baltimore
2- 6-37 San Francisco
2- 7-38 Jacksonville
2- 8-39 Tampa Bay
2- 9-40 New York Giants
2-10-41 Chicago
2-11-42 Miami
2-12-43 Los Angeles from Philadelphia
2-13-44 Oakland
2-14-45 Los Angeles
2-15-46 Detroit
2-16-47 New Orleans
2-17-48 Indianapolis
2-18-49 Buffalo
2-19-50 Atlanta
2-20-51 New York Jets
2-21-52 Houston
2-22-53 Washington
2-23-54 Minnesota
2-24-55 Cincinnati
2-25-56 Seattle
2-26-57 Green Bay
2-27-58 Pittsburgh
2-28-59 Kansas City
2-29-60 New England
2-30-61 New England from Arizona
2-31-62 Carolina
2-32-63 Denver


3- 1-64 Tennessee
3- 2-65 Cleveland
3- 3-66 San Diego
3- 4-67 Dallas
3- 5-68 San Francisco
3- 6-69 Jacksonville
3- 7-70 Baltimore
3- 8-71 New York Giants
3- 9-72 Chicago
3-10-73 Miami
3-11-74 Tampa Bay
3-12-75 Oakland
3-13-76 Los Angeles
3-14-77 Philadelphia from Detroit
3-15-78 New Orleans
3-16-79 Philadelphia
3-17-80 Buffalo
3-18-81 Atlanta
3-19-82 Indianapolis
3-20-83 New York Jets
3-21-84 Washington
3-22-85 Houston
3-23-86 Minnesota
3-24-87 Cincinnati
3-25-88 Green Bay
3-26-89 Pittsburgh
3-27-90 Seattle
3-28- Kansas City (Forfeited)
3-29-91 New England
3-30-92 Arizona
3-31-93 Carolina
3-32-94 Denver
3-33-95 Detroit (Compensatory Selection)
3-34-96 New England (Compensatory Selection)
3-35-97 Seattle (Compensatory Selection)
3-36-98 Denver (Compensatory Selection)


4- 1- 99 Cleveland
4- 2-100 Philadelphia from Tennessee
4- 3-101 Dallas
4- 4-102 San Diego
4- 5-103 Jacksonville
4- 6-104 Baltimore
4- 7-105 San Francisco
4- 8-106 Chicago
4- 9-107 Miami
4-10-108 Tampa Bay
4-11-109 New York Giants
4-12-110 Los Angeles
4-13-111 Detroit
4-14-112 New Orleans
4-15-113 Tennessee from Philadelphia
4-16-114 Oakland
4-17-115 Atlanta
4-18-116 Indianapolis
4-19-117 Buffalo
4-20-118 New York Jets
4-21-119 Houston
4-22-120 Washington
4-23-121 Minnesota
4-24-122 Cincinnati
4-25-123 Pittsburgh
4-26-124 Seattle
4-27-125 Green Bay
4-28-126 Kansas City
4-29-127 Chicago from New England
4-30-128 Arizona
4-31-129 Carolina
4-32-130 Baltimore from Denver
4-33-131 Green Bay (Compensatory Selection)
4-34-132 Baltimore (Compensatory Selection)
4-35-133 San Francisco (Compensatory Selection)
4-36-134 Baltimore (Compensatory Selection)
4-37-135 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)
4-38-136 Denver (Compensatory Selection)
4-39-137 Green Bay (Compensatory Selection)
4-40-138 Cleveland (Compensatory Selection)
4-41-139 Buffalo (Compensatory Selection)


5- 1-140 Tennessee
5- 2-141 Cleveland
5- 3-142 San Francisco from San Diego
5- 4-143 Oakland from Dallas
5- 5-144 Denver from Baltimore
5- 6-145 San Francisco
5- 7-146 Jacksonville
5- 8-147 Miami
5- 9-148 Tampa Bay
5-10-149 New York Giants
5-11-150 Chicago
5-12-151 Detroit
5-13-152 New Orleans
5-14-153 Philadelphia
5-15-154 Oakland
5-16- Los Angeles (Exercised in Supplemental Draft)
5-17-155 Indianapolis
5-18-156 Buffalo
5-19- Atlanta (Forfeited)
5-20-157 New York Jets
5-21-158 Washington
5-22-159 Houston
5-23-160 Minnesota
5-24-161 Cincinnati
5-25-162 Kansas City from Seattle
5-26-163 Green Bay
5-27-164 Philadelphia from Pittsburgh
5-28-165 Kansas City
5-29-166 Houston from New England
5-30-167 Arizona
5-31-168 Carolina
5-32-169 Detroit from Denver
5-33-170 Arizona (Compensatory Selection)
5-34-171 Seattle (Compensatory Selection)
5-35-172 Cleveland (Compensatory Selection)
5-36-173 Cleveland (Compensatory Selection)
5-37-174 San Francisco (Compensatory Selection)
5-38-175 San Diego (Compensatory Selection)


6- 1-176 Cleveland
6- 2-177 Tennessee
6- 3-178 San Francisco from Dallas
6- 4-179 San Diego
6- 5-180 Minnesota from San Francisco
6- 6-181 Jacksonville
6- 7-182 Baltimore
6- 8-183 Tampa Bay
6- 9-184 New York Giants
6-10-185 Chicago
6-11-186 Miami
6-12-187 Washington from New Orleans
6-13-188 Philadelphia
6-14-189 Dallas from Oakland
6-15-190 Los Angeles
6-16-191 Detroit
6-17-192 Buffalo
6-18-193 Tennessee from Atlanta
6-19-194 Oakland from Indianapolis
6-20-195 Houston from New York Jets
6-21-196 New England from Houston
6-22-197 Tampa Bay from Washington
6-23-198 San Diego from Minnesota
6-24-199 Cincinnati
6-25-200 Green Bay
6-26-201 Jacksonville from Pittsburgh
6-27-202 Detroit from Seattle
6-28-203 Kansas City
6-29-204 New England reacquired from Chicago
6-30-205 Arizona
6-31-206 Chicago from Carolina
6-32-207 San Francisco from Denver
6-33-208 New England (Compensatory Selection)
6-34-209 Baltimore (Compensatory Selection)
6-35-210 Detroit (Compensatory Selection)
6-36-211 San Francisco (Compensatory Selection)
6-37-212 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)
6-38-213 San Francisco (Compensatory Selection)
6-39-214 New England (Compensatory Selection)
6-40-215 Seattle (Compensatory Selection)
6-41-216 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)
6-42-217 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)
6-43-218 Buffalo (Compensatory Selection)
6-44-219 Denver (Compensatory Selection)
6-45-220 Pittsburgh (Compensatory Selection)
6-46-221 New England (Compensatory Selection)


7- 1-222 Tennessee
7- 2-223 Cleveland
7- 3-224 San Diego
7- 4-225 Seattle from Dallas
7- 5-226 Jacksonville
7- 6-227 Miami from Baltimore
7- 7-228 Denver from San Francisco
7- 8-229 Pittsburgh from New York Giants
7- 9-230 Chicago
7-10-231 Miami
7-11-232 Washington from Tampa Bay
7-12-233 Philadelphia
7-13-234 Oakland
7-14-235 Denver from Los Angeles through Houston
7-15-236 Detroit
7-16-237 New Orleans
7-17-238 Atlanta
7-18-239 Indianapolis
7-19-240 Minnesota from Buffalo
7-20-241 New York Jets
7-21-242 Washington
7-22-243 New England from Houston
7-23-244 Minnesota
7-24-245 Cincinnati
7-25-246 Pittsburgh
7-26-247 Seattle
7-27-248 Green Bay
7-28-249 Kansas City
7-29-250 New England
7-30-251 Philadelphia from Arizona
7-31-252 Carolina
7-32-253 Denver

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NFL statement in response to New York Times article

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

[Editor’s note: The NFL has issued a statement in response to the New York Times article regarding flaws in concussion research and links to the tobacco industry. The full statement appears below.]

Today’s New York Times story on the National Football League is contradicted by clear facts that refute both the thesis of the story and each of its allegations. As the Times itself states: ‘The Times has found no direct evidence that the league took its strategy from Big Tobacco.’ Despite that concession, the Times published pages of innuendo and speculation for a headline with no basis in fact.

The studies that are the focus of the Times’ story used data collected between 1996-2001. They were necessarily preliminary and acknowledged that much more research was needed. Since that time, the NFL has been on the forefront of promoting and funding independent research on these complex issues. Further, the data from the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) Committee studies have not been used in any way by the current Head, Neck and Spine Committee in its research on player health and safety. All of the current policies relating to player medical care and the treatment of concussions have been carefully developed in conjunction with independent experts on our medical committees, the NFLPA, and leading bodies such as the CDC.

Since learning of the proposed story, the NFL provided the Times with more than 50 pages of information demonstrating the facts. The Times ignored the facts. So we present them here:

– The Times claims that the concussion studies funded in part by NFL Charities purposely relied on faulty and incomplete concussion data. In fact, the MTBI studies published by the MTBI Committee are clear that the data set had limitations. Moreover, they expressly state that they were based on a data set that drew from two separate sources — the NFL injury surveillance system that collected simple data regarding concussions, and a set of forms that the teams were asked to provide to the League that provided additional factual detail about each such concussion. The studies never claimed to be based on every concussion that was reported or that occurred. Moreover, the fact that not all concussions were reported is consistent with the fact that reporting was strongly encouraged by the League but not mandated, as documents provided to the Times showed.

– The story claims that the League relied on legal advice from Lorillard and the Tobacco Institute. In fact, neither then-NFL Commissioner, Mr. Tagliabue, the League nor its counsel ever solicited, reviewed, or relied on any advice from anyone at Lorillard or the Tobacco Institute regarding health issues.

– The Times implies that there was a nefarious relationship between Joe Browne and Sam Chilcote. In fact, Joe Browne (then NFL SVP of Communications) built a personal relationship with Sam Chilcote while Mr. Chilcote was at the Distilled Spirits Council in the 1970s. The NFL and the Distilled Spirits Council jointly produced Public Service Announcements, and Mr. Browne and Mr. Chilcote were the point people for their respective organizations. Details of that work can be found on the DISCUS website. Mr. Browne and Mr. Chilcote remained friendly after Mr. Chilcote left DISCUS for the Tobacco Institute in 1981. Mr. Browne contacted Mr. Chilcote in 1982 for some advice as someone he knew in Washington, DC about a subject completely unrelated to tobacco, concussions, or any player-related or medical issue. We have seen no evidence — from the Times or otherwise — that demonstrated their relationship had anything to do with tobacco or NFL health and safety.

– The Times insinuates that the NFL hired Dorothy Mitchell, an associate at the law firm Covington & Burling, because of her experience in tobacco litigation. Ms. Mitchell, who had represented the NFL in employment litigation, sought an in-house job with the NFL and was hired as a labor lawyer to handle Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) related grievances. She later served as a legal liaison with the MTBI Committee, and her role in that capacity was to prepare grant documents, provide intellectual property advice, ensure the privacy of player information, and communicate with the players’ union. Her experience as a young lawyer working on a tobacco case (among many other cases) was entirely unknown to the NFL personnel who hired and supervised her, as well as to members of the MTBI Committee, until they learned of this proposed story.

– The Times asserts a connection between the League and the Tobacco Institute because both hired the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). SRI’s blue chip client list includes multiple U.S. government agencies, such as the Army Research Lab, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education (including a study highlighted in the New York Times in 2009), the Department of Health & Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department, as well as prominent associations and foundations including the Alzheimer’s Association, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. In fact, one of the research studies the Times alludes to was jointly commissioned by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. There is no evidence that SRI engaged in misleading or inappropriate research.

– And finally, the story says that the NFL shared lobbyists with the Tobacco Institute. In fact, the League has never participated — either through its counsel of over 50 years, Covington & Burling, or otherwise — in any joint lobbying efforts with the Tobacco Institute.

The Times’ sensationalized story is further refuted by the NFL’s ongoing commitment on the issue of player health and safety — notably, to the support of research, including that of our most vocal critics, on the long-term effects of concussions in all sports, and to change our game in an effort to make the sport of football as safe as it can be. We have committed tens of millions of dollars to fund independent research, made 42 changes to our rulebook since 2002 to make the game safer, and have advanced concussion awareness and safer tackling at all levels of the sport. And we provide a host of benefit programs which, together with the proposed settlement of our players’ concussion litigation, will ensure that our retired players are properly cared for in the future.

Contact sports will never be concussion-free, but we are dedicated to caring for our players, not just throughout long careers but over the course of long lives.

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2016 Bylaw Proposals

[Editor’s note: The NFL is considering the following bylaw changes which have been proposed by individual teams or the Competition Committee. The bylaws will be voted on by the league’s owners next week.]

1. By Arizona; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.3 to increase the Active List to 48 players.
2. By Washington; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.3 to increase the number of Active List players for regular season games played on a day other than Sunday or Monday and for games played in another country.
3. By Washington; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.1 (F) to eliminate the cutdown to 75 players on the Active List.
4. By Washington; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.14 to permit a player who has suffered a concussion and has not been cleared for participation to be placed on the clubs’ Exemption List and replayed by a player on the club’s practice squad on a gamy-by-game basis until the player is cleared.
5. By Minnesota; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.16 (K) to shorten the period of time in which clubs are prohibited from resigning players with whom it has executed Injury Settlements.
6. By Buffalo; to amend Article XVIII, Section 18.7 (A) to allow teams playing a Monday night game the same minimum amount of time to make roster and salary adjustments as others teams that played the same weekend.
7. By Buffalo; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.16 (C) to expand the time period for a club to designate a player for return from Reserve/Injured.
8. By Competition Committee; Permits a non-FBS conference to hold a Pro Day for all the schools in its conference.
9. By Competition Committee; Requires clubs to terminate or request waivers for players who are placed on Reserve with minor injuries.
10. By Competition Committee; Permits coaches to review video displayed on club-issued tablets on the sidelines and in the coaches’ booth.

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2016 Playing Rules Proposals

[Editor’s note: The NFL released the following proposed rules changes for the 2016 season, which have been recommended by individual teams or by the Competition Committee and will be voted on by the league’s 32 owners.]

PASSED: 1. By Competition Committee; Permanently moves the line of scrimmage for Try kicks to the defensive team’s 15-yard line, and allows the defense to return any missed Try.
PASSED: 2. By Competition Committee; Permits the offensive and defensive play callers on the coaching staffs to use the coach-to-player communication system regardless of whether they are on the field or in the coaches’ booth.
PASSED: 3. By Competition Committee; Makes all chop blocks illegal.
PASSED: 4. By Competition Committee; Disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
PASSED: 5. By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line.
6. By Baltimore; to amend Rule 5, Sections 3, Articles 1 and 2 (Changes in Position) to require players to wear jersey vests with numbers appropriate for their positions.
7. By Baltimore; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, Articles 1, 4, and 5 (Instant Replay) to provide each team with three challenges and expand reviewable plays.
8. By Buffalo; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, Articles 1, 4, and 5 (Instant Replay) to permit a coach to challenge any official’s decision except scoring plays and turnovers.
9. By Carolina; to amend Rule 8, Section 2, Article 1 (Intentional Grounding) to expand the definition of intentional grounding.
10. By Kansas City; to amend Rule 14, Section 2, Article 1 (Half-distance Penalty) to add penalty yards to the distance needed to gain a First Down.
WITHDRAWN: 11. By Kansas City; to amend Rule 8, Section 1, Article 2 (Legal Forward Pass) to prohibit quarterbacks from falling to the ground, getting up, and throwing a forward pass.
12. By Minnesota; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, Article 1 (Coaches’ Challenge) to eliminate the requirement that a team be successful on each of its first two Instant Replay challenges in order to be awarded a third challenge.
13. By Washington; to amend Rule 16, Section 1, Articles 1, 4, 6 and 7 (Overtime procedures) to eliminate overtime periods in preseason games.
14. By Washington; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, Article 4 (Reviewable Plays) to subject personal foul penalties to Instant Replay review.
15. By Washington; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, Article 1 (Coaches’ Challenge) to eliminate the requirement that a team be successful on each of its first two Instant Replay challenges in order to be awarded a third challenge.
PASSED:16. By Competition Committee; Expands the horse collar rule to include when a defender grabs the jersey at the name plate or above and pulls a runner toward the ground.
PASSED:17. By Competition Committee; Makes it a foul for delay of game when a team attempts to call a timeout when it is not permitted to do so.
PASSED:18. By Competition Committee; Eliminates the five-yard penalty for an eligible receiver illegally touching a forward pass after being out of bounds and re-establishing himself inbounds, and makes it a loss of down.
PASSED:19. By Competition Committee; Eliminates multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.

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It’s time to dump the franchise tag


Sure, the current labor deal has five more years remaining. But if, at some point, the NFL starts making noise about an extension, the NFL Players Association should consider putting at the top of the list one very clear and specific request.

Get rid of the franchise tag.

Concocted in 1993 to help teams adjust to true free agency (Reggie White was exempt because he was a named plaintiff in the case that resulted in true free agency), the franchise tag gives every team the ability, once per year, to hold a free agent in place. Previously, the franchise tender was determined by taking the average of the five highest paid players (based on cap number) at the same position in the prior year. Now, a much more complex five-year average that takes into account the percentage of the salary cap applies.

Whatever the formula, the franchise tag continues to be a device for keeping the best players in the league from getting to the open market. And with the rookie wage scale, launched in 2011, now taking full root, few players will be in position to do what Ndamukong Suh did a year ago: Force his way to market under the provision that determines the franchise tender by taking the cap number from the final year of his contract and increases it by 20 percent.

While that could change in 2017, when Saints quarterback Drew Brees would have a jaw-dropping franchise tender of $43.2 million (he has a $30 million cap number this year and would get a 44-percent raise for his third career franchise tag), fewer and fewer great players will land on the open market unless and until they are willing to retain the injury risk for three years under the franchise tag, passing on a long-term offer that would give more security — but that wouldn’t come close to providing what the player would get if truly free to sign anywhere.

Consider this year. Linebacker Von Miller has a franchise tender of $14.129 million. A long-term deal based on the tag would guarantee Miller his 2016 franchise tender and his 2017 tender, which would be $17.148 million. That’s $31.277 million fully guaranteed at signing.

On the open market, defensive end Olivier Vernon got $40 million fully guaranteed at signing plus total cash flow of $41 million through two years. How much more would Von Miller have gotten on the open market, if it had been him instead of Vernon at the top of the 2016 free agency class of pass rushers?

Making Miller’s predicament even more unfair to him personally is the fact that he already has put in five years before getting a crack at the franchise tag, since he was a first-round draft pick. Vernon has hit the lottery with only four years of NFL experience.

Since the franchise tag affects only a small percentage of all players, the NFLPA could be inclined not to fight to get rid of it, because doing so could require a concession that would affect all players. But the franchise tag currently affects all players by keeping the top of the market at each position in check. Basically, it’s legalized collusion — separate and apart from the illegal collusion that plenty of agents believe is happening.

Remember when it seemed like half the league perpetually occupied salary-cap purgatory? With the cap now spiking every year but none of the best players in position either to get to the open market or to force their current teams to pay them market value, few if any teams are scratching and clawing to comply with the cap. Which means that less of the total available money under the cap is being paid to players.

For every player like Miller, who’d need to put in eight total years and remain healthy and effective in order to get a big payday, there will be a player like Vernon, who will be in the right place at the right time to get a deal that seems shocking to the average fan, in large part because the best players rarely will be in position to squeeze out a deal that would be truly shocking.

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Top 25 performance-based pay recipients

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 06:   Matt Paradis #61 of the Denver Broncos blocks for  Brock Osweiler #17 of the Denver Broncos during a game against the San Diego Chargers  at Qualcomm Stadium on December 6, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL announced its performance-based pay for the 2015 season Tuesday. More than $121 million was paid out to players using a formula that rewards players in a formula based on playing time to salary. Players who log the most snaps but have lower salary levels compared to their teammates are paid from a fund that started in 2002 and has paid out more than $1 billion since its inception.

The top 25 performance-based pay distributions for 2015 are below…

1. Denver Broncos center Matt Paradis: $391,648

2. Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings: $359,396

3. Cincinnati Bengals center Russell Bodine: $352,271

4. Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Garry Gilliam: $329,384

5. New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler: $319,283

6. Atlanta Falcons safety Ricardo Allen: $317,826

7. Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva: $309,835

8. Philadelphia Eagles guard Matt Tobin: $307,101

9. New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa: $296,712

10. New Orleans Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux: $295,356

11. Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Mike Remmers: $292,514

12. Chicago Bears safety Adrian Amos: $282,159

13. Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder: $279,671

14. Dallas Cowboys guard La’El Collins: $277,940

15. San Francisco 49ers cornerback Kenneth Acker: $273,632

16. Denver Broncos linebacker Shaquil Barrett: $269,590

17. Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson: $268,838

18. Oakland Raiders guard J’Marcus Webb: $266,778

19. Buffalo Bills linebacker Preston Brown: $263,843

20. Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones: $261,458

21. San Diego Chargers offensive tackle Kenny Wiggins: $255,145

22. Carolina Panthers guard Trai Turner: $254,280

23. Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: $253,540

24. Oakland Raiders cornerback TJ Carrie: $253,337

25. Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones: $251,737

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Adjusted cap space, by team

Cash Getty Images

With the new league year beginning Wednesday and the base salary cap at $155.27 million per team, the NFL Players Association has determined the adjusted cap, based on the amounts carried over by each team and other adjustments, like incentive payments earned in 2015 that will hit the cap in 2016.

The Jaguars have the most, and the Broncos (thanks to the $4 million incentive payment earned a year ago by Peyton Manning) have the least.

Keep in mind that these are the NFLPA’s numbers, which could differ from the NFL’s numbers.

Jaguars: $190,301,710.

Browns: $176,686,294.

49ers: $176,581,934.

Titans: $176,357,826.

Raiders: $168,332,753.

Giants: $167,320,159.

Dolphins: $166,767,319.

Packers: $163,439,289.

Bengals: $162,677,552.

Washington: $161,964,024.

Eagles: $161,570,362.

Buccaneers: $161,138,366.

Colts: $160,609,029.

Patriots: $159,642,451.

Cowboys: $159,261,183.

Cardinals: $158,968,416.

Falcons: $158,801,671.

Chiefs: $157,995,930.

Panthers: $157,993,141.

Steelers: $157,628,978.

Jets: $157,528,734.

Bills: $157,375,731.

Lions: $157,311,216.

Texans: $157,186,080.

Vikings: $156,914,717.

Chargers: $156,774,767.

Bears: $156,588,879.

Rams: $155,665,189.

Saints: $155,562,062.

Ravens: $155,178,755.

Seahawks: $154,522,927.

Broncos: $154,095,041.

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Adam Jones interview transcript

Wild Card Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

[Editor’s note: Bengals cornerback Adam Jones appeared on Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN. The full transcript of the substance of the interview appears below.]

Q: “I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with you with this free agent market. Bengals have the exclusive opportunity to get you signed between now and next week. Do you think you’re going to be a Bengal in 2016?”

Jones: “As of now I don’t know, to be honest. I know there’s a lot of other teams that have been contacting my agent saying that if I don’t get re-signed there is going to be other places I can go. The Bengals haven’t reached out yet with a number but you know how Mrs. Katie [Blackburn] and Troy [Blackburn] are they normally wait around the 5th or 6th [or March] to start issuing contracts and stuff. I’m just eager to see how it goes, man. I’ve done my part as a player on the field and off the field, so all I can do is sit back and keep working out and being a good dad and worry about the things that I can worry about.”

Q: “You have had an incredible career, ups and downs and you’ve really turned it around the past six years. Is there one word that you would use to describe your entire NFL experience?”

Jones: “One word, if I had to use one word I would use. . . .”

Q: “A word that we can say on the radio. . . .”

Jones: “I’m trying to think of a good word, because I want it to be. If I could use one word for my career. I would just say ‘The Comeback Kid,’ man, I would say. I’m the kid that never gives up, who’s been through a lot, knocked down and at the end of the day got back up, you know? Don’t mind telling my story. Don’t mind telling my mistakes. I learned every day. I look at my past. I dig through my past a lot to make sure I don’t go back there, but I’m just one of them kids that didn’t give up. That enjoyed and loved the process and I really truly love my family and love playing the game of football. So if you could sum all that up I would just say I’m the kid that didn’t give up, man, and I’ve been down in a lot of different holes and I’ve got a lot of praying people and good people around me. It’s been a hell of a ride but I wouldn’t change it because it really has changed me as a person. Opened up my eyes of how to treat people, how people should treat you, and just doing doing the little things you know.”

Q: “When was that moment for you, Adam? Was there a moment that you can remember where you decided, ‘This is it, I’m turning it around, I’m getting the most out of my talent and I am going to be in the NFL for as long as I can physically be here’?”

Jones: “I had a couple moments. I would say the time I hurt my neck. Nobody knows I had two surgeries on my neck so that was kind of hard to go through after the first time my neck didn’t heal. But I would say when my daughter was born. My wife’s water broke at 23 weeks and my daughter was born I think at 24 weeks, so going through that process and having the whole year to reflect on all that. My daughter was in the hospital for six months and, you know, you get to the point it’s out of your control and then when things get better you sit down and look in the mirror. Like, man, what can I do to make sure that these little girls got whatever they need and to do what I have to do to be successful? But I would say to sum it up and all of that. . . . In 2012, I had a lot of stuff going on. My father was sick, he ended up passing away in 2014. It was a whole bulk of things but I would say the main thing, man, just me wanting to do good and my kids you know. Nobody wanna be the f–king villain the whole time of their career, you know, at some point you wanna be like, ‘Damn, OK, the kid grew up, he understands what life is about. He’s moving forward as a father and a husband, like he gets what the main point is,’ you know? He don’t got twenty guys around with him, you know. Every time I see him he’s only with his wife or his kids so you live and you learn, man, when you go through those hard times. Sh-t, when I went through my hard times I can’t even find not one of the dudes that was around me all the time that was there so you go through stuff and you learn, man. It makes you way more mature and the ones that don’t make [you] mature you just don’t get it at some points. I’m just happy that I’m one of the ones that really got it. I love what I got here as a family and I wouldn’t want to mess that up for nothing in the world.”

Q: “You’ve spent the last six seasons with the Bengals. That’s where a lot of this growth has happened, a lot of this turnaround and during that time that team has been to the playoffs five straight years and you’re right in the middle of it, you’ve seen what’s happened. What do you think the biggest reason is that the Bengals continue to struggle to get over that hump when they get to the post season?”

Jones: “Well, injuries was one of the main things. This year was the first year we really was kind of healthy besides Andy, you know what I’m saying? But before that you go back. All the receivers were hurt and then a couple guys on the defense were hurt but if we could ever just all be healthy at the same time, I think the sky is the limit. I think Coach Lewis and Mr. [Mike] Brown have done a great job with bringing the talent in that we have over there, you know. If you look at the roster, the roster is a deep roster, you got a lot of guys that can play football over there. I’m talking about ones, twos, and threes, so I think they’ve done a good job. I think besides the health, I know I lost my cool the last game and that won’t happen again. I won’t say discipline though because discipline didn’t lose [it for] us, well I would say it lost us one game, which was the playoff game. Besides that I think Coach Lewis did a good job of making sure everybody was on the same page.”

Q: “If Adam Jones is not a Bengal in 2016 what team do you want to play for?”

Jones: “I knew you were going to do that to me. I want to play for any team that wants me. I’m a guy that really wants to win. I love the game of football, I’m passionate about it. I study hard, I play hard. There’s not a guy that’s around that’s gonna tell you I don’t study hard, don’t practice hard, don’t play hard. I’m open, man, I don’t have one team that I have to go to this team. I’m pretty much open as long as we got a good chance of winning.”

Q: “Would you play for the Steelers?”

Jones: “Would I play for the Steelers? I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t play for the Steelers. I don’t have no problem with the Steelers but that would be hard for me to do that though. I would prefer to play [for] a team that play against the Steelers.”

Q: “Have you buried that hatchet with Antonio Brown?”

Jones: “Oh yeah, man. We cool. I have no problem with A.B.”

Q: “Did you text him during the Oscars on Sunday night and ask why aren’t you on here?”

Jones: “No, I texted him the other day joking with him, though. We’ve had several conversations since he had his little outburst at the Super Bowl, but there’s no hard feelings for A.B., man.”

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2016 franchise and transition tag numbers

dead-body-toe-tag Getty Images

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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