Deion Sanders, meet Kevin Byard

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Plenty of former players of the game who become broadcasters of the game don’t know the current players of the game as well as they could or should. The latest example comes from former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders, who now provides analysis for NFL Network.

The Hall of Fame defensive back recently made a comment that new Texans defensive back Tyrann Mathieu is “the best safety in the game.” That observation sparked a Twitter exchange between Sanders and, unbeknownst to him, a current player of the game.

It started when Titans safety Kevin Byard, a first-team Associated Press All-Pro safety who co-led the league in interceptions, asked this question in response to Sanders’ observation, via “How do you make this statement and not include the two first team AP All Pro safeties?

“You’re looking at who writers tell [you] who’s the best I know who players and former players feel is the best,” Sanders said. “I rest my case. You continue to be a fan and I will continue being the man.”

That last sentence is priceless for its obliviousness. “You continue to be a fan and I will continue being the man.” Yes, Deion is the man (or as Tim McCarver would say a real man). Deion is the man who gets paid plenty of money by the NFL to talk about football and who doesn’t realize he’s talking to the player who not only was named one of the best safeties in football by the primary postseason football awards process but who, along with Lions cornerback Darius Slay, led football in the primary statistic of relevance to the position Deion played.

Byard also played in two playoff games, which should have made Deion even more likely to realize that Byard isn’t a fan.

Byard noticed the gaffe. “And if you didn’t know, I am a CURRENT player who watches a ton of film so trust me, I know who’s balling and who is not.”

That appears to be the last word. I don’t know for sure, because Deion long ago blocked the PFT Twitter account in retaliation for some other time when we had pointed out something dumb he had said or done.

Kyle Fuller happy to be back with Bears after “crazy process”

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We learned late last week that the Bears were going to match the Packers’ offer sheet for cornerback Kyle Fuller, but they didn’t make it official until Tuesday.

That was the last day for them to match the offer and waiting ensured that the cap space needed for the four-year, $56 million contract would be tied up in Green Bay as long as possible. That was the final step in a transition tag process that Fuller described on Tuesday as a “crazy experience.

“It was almost like [as soon as the Packers’ offer was official], it was a done deal and matched,” Fuller said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “I just went with the flow of everything. I wasn’t able to think too much about it. … It means a lot. Definitely happy to be back in Chicago. It was a crazy process, but I’m glad it’s over with.”

The deal wound up being a more expensive one than the Bears might have wanted when the process got underway, but holding onto Fuller should only help their chances of finding their way to a winning record for the first time since 2012.

Players Coalition members meeting with lawmakers this week

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They’re not just taking knees or raising fists during the national anthem any more.

A number of NFL players are meeting with lawmakers this week, as part of a coordinated effort to create real change in their communities.

According to Rich Cimini of, Saints linebacker Demario Davis was in Albany, New York yesterday to meet with state legislators to lobby against what they believe are race-based disparities in the bail system.

“We’re using our platform and our space to do our part, to raise awareness [on] the social injustices that are going on in our country,” Davis said. “In New York, we’re focusing on criminal reform. That’s just a small piece in a big puzzle.”

The meetings will continue this week. Former Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson is scheduled to participate in a town hall in Baltimore focused on police and community relations. Events Thursday include Washington cornerback Josh Norman leading a group visiting a school to discuss education issues, and Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty and former linebacker Willie McGinest will meet with legislators in Boston regarding juvenile justice issues.

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former wide receiver Anquan Boldin are among those participating in a Harvard University summit on Friday which will discuss criminal justice reform.

The NFL has offered to spend $89 million over the next seven years to fund social projects, and will discuss the platform at next week’s league meetings in Orlando.

Jonathan Martin turns himself in, pleads not guilty


Former Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin pleaded not guilty to charges surrounding his troubling social media post last month.

According to A.J. Perez of USA Today, Martin turned himself in to authorities Tuesday after he was charged with four felony counts of making criminal threats and a misdemeanor count of carrying a loaded firearm in public

He posted $210,000 in bail and was released after his plea, and his next court date is April 25.

Martin posted a picture on Instagram last month showing a shotgun and shells and the message: “When you’re a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide or revenge.” He also tagged former Dolphins teammate Richie Incognito and his old high school in California, leading the school to close for a day.

Prosecutors said in court documents the threats were “so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate and specific as to convey … a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution.”

Martin checked himself into a hospital after the incident.

Ricky Williams goes into the cannabis business

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Ricky Williams lost a large part of his NFL career to drug suspensions for repeatedly testing positive for marijuana. Now that he’s out of the league, Williams embraces marijuana openly.

In fact, now his job revolves around it: Williams announced on Tuesday that he’s going into the cannabis business.

“Today marks an important day in my career with the launch of my new cannabis-based wellness brand, Real Wellness by Ricky Williams,” he said in a statement.

Williams is selling his cannabis salves, tonics and vape cartridges in California, where voters legalized recreational marijuana last year.

After winning the Heisman Trophy at Texas in 1998, Williams was the fifth overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft. He played three years for the Saints before getting traded to the Dolphins. In 2004 the NFL announced that Williams had been suspended four games, and months later he announced his retirement. He then returned to football in 2005 but was then suspended for the full 2006 season, when he played in the Canadian Football League. He was reinstated to the NFL in 2007 and continued playing until 2011.

Tight end Luke Willson tweets a goodbye to Seattle

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Tight end Luke Willson appears to be moving on from the Seattle Seahawks after five seasons with the team that selected him in the fifth-round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Willson posted a goodbye to Seattle on his Twitter account on Tuesday night.

“As my time in Seattle comes to (an) end and I reflect on the past 5 years, I am filled with gratitude. All I can say is thank you,” Willson wrote. “Pete Carroll and John Schneider thank you guys for believing in a Canadian kid from Rice University. My coaches especially TE coach Pat McPherson thank you. To everyone involved in the Seahawks organization from my boys in the (equipment) room, to the food services, strength coaches, PR, and the entire 3rd floor of the VMAC thank you. These last 5 years have been a dream come true.”

Willson served as a backup to Zach Miller in his rookie season and become a part-time starter when Miller and Jimmy Graham were sidelined with injuries. He appeared in 62 games with Seattle and started 37 games. He posted a career-high four receiving touchdowns in 2017. His most productive season came in 2014 after replacing an injured Miller, catching 22 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns.

Willson re-signed with Seattle on a one-year deal last offseason after reaching free agency. He took visits to Detroit, Carolina and Jacksonville in free agency.

Seattle changed course at tight end as well in signing former Panthers tight end Ed Dickson to a three-year deal. Seattle is looking to bolster their rushing attack and Dickson could provide as boost at the position as a run blocker.

Report: Falcons expressing interest in linebacker Arthur Moats

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The Atlanta Falcons have expressed interest in eight-year veteran linebacker Arthur Moats, according to Jeremy Fowler of

Moats has spent matching four-year stints with the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers.

While the report states the Steelers remain interested in bringing Moats back possibly later in the free agent process, Moats is exploring his options. Moats played on less than nine percent of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps last season and less than 22 percent of their special teams snaps, per Moats may be looking for a place that presents a greater opportunity for him to play.

Moats recorded just eight tackles in 14 games last season for the Steelers with the limited playing time. He had started 25 of 48 games over the previous three seasons in Pittsburgh.

Moats would bring veteran experience to an Atlanta linebacker group that is still quite young. Vic Beasley is the most seasoned option currently on the roster with three seasons under his belt.

Report: Seahawks trying to re-sign Byron Maxwell

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After a seven-game return engagement last season, the Seattle Seahawks are looking to hold on to cornerback Byron Maxwell, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Maxwell signed with Seattle in November after Richard Sherman was lost for the season to a torn Achilles. Despite not starting his first game back, Maxwell was quickly called upon to take starters’ reps after Shaquill Griffin sustained a concussion and was knocked out of Seattle’s game against Atlanta. Maxwell performed well enough to supplant Jeremy Lane as the starter opposite of Griffin moving forward for the rest of the season.

Maxwell had 38 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and seven passes defended in his seven games to end the year. He had been released by the Miami Dolphins in October after losing his starting job with the team.

Maxwell would provide a trusted veteran option for the Seahawks in a defense he knows inside and out. With Sherman being released and signing with the San Francisco 49ers, Maxwell would currently be penciled in as a starter alongside Griffin in Seattle’s secondary.

Maxwell said at the end of the season he wanted to be back with Seattle. The interest appears to be mutual. Now all that matters is agreeing on a deal.

With catch rule under scrutiny, third-step concept merits consideration

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Three years ago, in the aftermath of #DezCaughtIt, a sense emerged that the league would make meaningful changes to the catch rule. The league didn’t.

Now, a strong feeling of inevitability has emerged that some sort of substantive change will be made to the catch rule. So what should the change be?

The problems arise not from the first two elements of the catch rule (possess the ball plus two feet or body part on the ground) but from the third element, which contemplates having the ball for a certain period of time before a catch has occurred. Without the third element, a player who has the ball for a nanosecond before being hit legally by a defensive player and losing possession would be deemed to have caught the ball and fumbled it.

The third element has traditionally been subjective. Previously, the third element required the player to have the ball long enough to perform an act common to the game. More recently, the third element was changed to require the player to have the ball long enough to clearly become a runner. These are both subjective tests, not conducive to slow-motion, frame-by-frame replay review.

There’s another possibility, an objective way to complete the catch and to permit the process to be reviewed reliably and consistently by replay. It’s the concept of taking an extra step after getting two feet down. We suggested a new catch rule based on taking a third step in 2015, and the concept (notwithstanding our support for it) gained some traction.

With the league meetings approaching quickly, it could be gaining traction again. And it could end up on the table next week, whether formally proposed by the Competition Committee or not. Ultimately, the owners can make any rule changes they want to make, regardless of whether enough members of the Competition Committee sign off on it.

The goal is (or should be) to devise a rule that meshes with the reasonable expectations of all stakeholders (owners, coaches, executives, players, media, and fans) regarding what a catch is, and what a catch isn’t. But it’s not enough to codify a know-it-when-you-see-it rule; there must be a standard that can be fairly and consistently applied.

Ideally, the standard would be objective, to ensure consistency — and to facilitate replay review. Hinging the third element on the player getting two feet down and taking one more step could make the most sense, and it could mesh most closely with that we expect a catch to be, and to not be.

Derwin James makes last-minute decision to limit his Pro Day workout

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Scouts and coaches showed up in Tallahassee on Tuesday to see Florida State safety Derwin James work out. He unexpectedly decided not to.

James did nothing other than the three-cone drill and the shuttle runs. James, the top safety in the draft, said he acted on the advice of his agent, David Mulugheta.

“It kind of shocked me because I wanted to do it and was 100 percent healthy,” James said, via the Associated Press. “I was kind of mad but he told me what was best. I hired him for a reason and I trust him.”

James suggested that he’ll engage in a private workout, but as to the open nature of the Pro Day setting, “I’ve proved everything I can prove.”

More top players need to be willing to slam the door on dog-and-pony workouts that entail a very real risk of injury. Last year, former Washington cornerback Sidney Jones tore an Achilles tendon during his Pro Day work out, and he plummeted out of the first round. The problem as to James comes from the fact that teams sent scouts and coaches with the anticipation that James would be working out. If James wasn’t going to work out, some wouldn’t have shown up.

Weather forces Allen Hurns to visit Cowboys before Jets

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Receiver Allen Hurns wants to visit the Jets, but there’s no plane to take him there.

Per a league source, weather issues in the New York area have triggered the cancellation of the flight that would have taken Hurns to visit the Jets. He’ll instead visit the Cowboys first, with a visit to the Jets to follow immediately.

Of course, there will be no visit to the Jets if Hurns likes what he hears and puts pen to paper.

Hurns, undrafted out of Miami in 2014, was released on Tuesday. His production has dipped significantly since generating more than 1,000 yards in his second NFL season.

Report: Zay Jones arrested for felony vandalism after smashing his foot through window

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A bizarre fight with his brother landed Bills receiver Zay Jones under arrest for felony vandalism, TMZ Sports reports.

TMZ posted footage of a naked Jones struggling with his brother, Vikings receiver Cayleb Jones, at a Los Angeles apartment building. Zay yells, “I’m going to fight for Jesus,” with witnesses saying Cayleb was attempting to stop Zay from jumping out a 30th floor window.

Zay broke free, according to TMZ, and entered a public balcony area, where he smashed his foot through a window. Photos showed blood on the floors and windows.

Zay was being held in the medical ward of the L.A. County Jail, TMZ reports.

The Bills released a statement to the Buffalo News: “We are aware of the incident involving Zay Jones. We are still in the process of gathering more information on the matter. At this point, we will have no further comment.”

Jaire Alexander dismisses talk of Lamar Jackson moving to receiver

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Last month, former NFL G.M. Bill Polian drew plenty of attention for his opinion that Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson should move to receiver at the next level. Jackson’s former college teammate, cornerback Jaire Alexander, was stunned by the suggestion that Jackson should stop playing quarterback.

“I was like, ‘What?'” Alexander said during a Tuesday visit to the PFT PM podcasts. “‘What in the world? Are these people not watching film? Are they not watching the tape? Are they not seeing that he’s gotten better each year he’s been in college?’ I don’t think people watch enough film to make a statement like that. I think he’s a really good quarterback. He’s got potential to be great. That’s my take on that.”

For more from Alexander, a likely first-round draft pick, on various other topics, check out his segment from PFT PM. The conversation also will be included in Wednesday’s PFT Live.

Report: Owners won’t discuss anthem policy change next week

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NFL owners will discuss the social justice platform at their annual meetings next week in Orlando, Florida, but the national anthem isn’t on the agenda, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Saints linebacker Demario Davis said he expected fewer player protests in 2018 because of the league’s support on social justice issues.

“The league has been instrumental in helping us bring light to our community and the issues that are going on in them,” Davis said, via Rich Cimini of ESPN.

The NFL finalized plans to partner with players, announcing a “Let’s Listen Together” initiative in January. Owners committed $89 million over seven years for the project, which will publicize players’ work on social and racial equality.

Report: Josh Rosen worked out for Giants, Browns today

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The Browns and Giants worked out quarterback Josh Rosen at UCLA on Tuesday, according to Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports.

Cleveland also will hold private workouts with the other top quarterbacks — Wyoming’s Josh Allen, USC’s Sam Darnold and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. All four are scheduled to take pre-draft visits to Cleveland, too.

Rosen completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 9,340 yards with 59 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. He went 17-13 as UCLA’s starter.

The Browns have the first and fourth selections in the draft. The Giants have the second choice.