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NFL once again directs broadcast partners not to tip picks

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at the podium during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL doesn’t want anyone to screw up the ultimate reality show’s ultimate offseason reality show. So the NFL has once again told the companies that give the NFL billions of dollars every year to not let their employees report on or otherwise “tip” draft picks before Commissioner Roger Goodell announces those picks from the podium at the draft in Chicago.

Ryan Glasspiegel of reports that the NFL has reiterated its request from a year ago, and that it applies beyond NFL Network and ESPN, which will be televising the draft.

A year ago, this didn’t bother me. I decided in 2013 not to tip picks, because the audience overwhelmingly doesn’t want it. The audience wants to preserve the moments of manufactured drama that come from the slow walk to the podium and the announcement of the pick (which may or may not entail the accurate pronunciation of the draft pick’s name).

Moreover, the act of getting the information previously didn’t entail Pulitzer-level reporting procedures. Most folks in most draft rooms are simply sitting around and waiting on the first night of the draft (or, after their team’s pick has been made, sitting around and not waiting). The teams know the picks before the picks are announced, and the announcement is delayed by the fact that it’s a TV production that necessarily entails the picks being known by plenty of people but held until the time comes to declare them.

That said, it apparently is getting harder to get the information early enough to screw the NFL’s proverbial pooch. As one source tells PFT, the picks in 2015 arrived to the various team draft rooms only “seconds before” the picks were announced. Also, the Ray Rice and Ted Wells investigations have created a Breaking Bad vibe for many when it comes to cell phones, making them leery about sending sensitive information via anything other than a disposable device or a non-NFL email account maintained on truly personal digital equipment that falls beyond the reach of Big Shield.

Maybe next year I’ll send a “burner” to a trusted source inside a draft room or otherwise lay the foundation for getting the information. Fortunately (for the NFL, for me, and/or for both), there’s not enough time to implement the plan I’m suddenly very tempted to implement.

Until then, let’s see if the audience’s mood has changed. Three years ago, 85 percent of you didn’t want to know the picks before the Commissioner announced them. How do you know feel about that?

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Report: Ryan Fitzpatrick would rather not play than accept current Jets offer

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:   Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets warms up before the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

The standoff between the Jets and free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been going on for quite a while now and Fitzpatrick appears to be trying a new tactic to get the Jets to offer him more money.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Fitzpatrick has told people that he would “rather not play football” than play for the Jets under the terms of their current offer. The Jets have reportedly offered Fitzpatrick somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million while Fitzpatrick is reportedly seeking considerably more to return for a second season with the team.

That gap has been in place for the entire offseason and the Jets have visited with a couple of other quarterbacks — Robert Griffin III and Brian Hoyer — without signing either one. Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan said last week that re-signing Fitzpatrick remains the team’s focus, but there’s been no sign that they’re reversing course on their offer.

Schefter’s report doesn’t specify if Fitzpatrick would play for another team for the money the Jets are offering, but there hasn’t been any sign that anyone else is going to top what the Jets are willing to pay him. Brian Costello of the New York Post reports that Fitzpatrick “wants to play” and is not willing to sit out, although it’s not clear what he’d do if their offer remains the best one on the table.

The draft could bring a change if the Jets have their eye on an incoming quarterback and aren’t able to acquire him, but it’s not clear what else might shift their view of Fitzpatrick’s value at this point.

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Colin Kaepernick makes on-field appearance at 49ers minicamp

Colin Kaepernick AP

It doesn’t look like there will be a trade that sends quarterback Colin Kaepernick from the 49ers to the Broncos during the draft, something that may remain the case well after the draft as well if Kaepernick’s salary for the 2016 season continues to be more than the Broncos want to pay.

Another issue that could stand in the way of Kaepernick getting traded away from the 49ers is his health. Kaepernick had multiple surgeries after the end of the 2015 season and has not been cleared to resume football activities at this point.

It appears he’s making progress toward that green light, however. The 49ers wrapped up a three-day minicamp on Thursday and Kaepernick was on the field while the team’s other quarterbacks were running drills. Kaepernick didn’t run or throw and wasn’t wearing a helmet, but did mimic the quarterback’s motions on each play.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports that Kaepernick has also resumed working out in the weight room. The expectation is that he’ll be cleared to do more at some point next month and we may also have more certainty about where he’ll be doing more by then as well.

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Cardell Hayes indicted for second-degree murder of Will Smith

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 17:   Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints  during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 17, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The man who shot former Saints defensive end Will Smith has been indicted on murder and attempted murder charges by a grand jury in New Orleans.

Cardell Hayes was indicted on Thursday while a probable cause hearing was going on in a separate courtroom. That hearing was being held to determine if there was reason to charge Hayes, so the news of the indictment obviously interrupted those proceedings.

Hayes was indicted on second-degree murder for shooting Smith and on second-degree attempted murder for shooting Smith’s widow Racquel, who was hospitalized and attended Smith’s funeral in a wheelchair as a result of her injuries.

Hayes has been jailed since the April 9 shooting, which took place after Hayes’ car allegedly rear-ended Smith’s car. An argument ensued, followed by gunshots that the Orleans Parish coroner said left Smith shot once in the chest and seven times in the back. Hayes’ lawyers don’t dispute Hayes fired those shots, but have argued that their client is “legally not guilty” of murder.

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Seahawks make moves in case they trade out of first again

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 17:  Phillip Gaines #23 of the Kansas City Chiefs tackles Brandon Williams #86 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on August 17, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Carolina won 28-16.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks actually have a first-round pick this year, at least for the moment.

But they’ve covered themselves with some transactions, just in case they end up not using it again.

The team announced they had signed former Panthers tight end Brandon Williams and former Saints defensive end Tavaris Barnes.

Williams is the accomplished one of the pair, having caught four passes in parts of three seasons with the Panthers, but he finished the year with the Dolphins.

The Seahawks pick 26th overall, but they’ve traded down the last four seasons and out of the first round altogether the last three years, so these might be the only guys they end up adding today.

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Chargers say they’ve been locked in on one player all along

Tom Telesco AP

With the Rams and Eagles set to take Jared Goff and Carson Wentz with the first two picks in the draft, the real intrigue starts at No. 3. But for all the talk that the Chargers have plenty of options with the third pick, they say they’ve always known which prospect they like best.

Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco told Brit McHenry of ESPN that he has been locked in on one player all along.

What we don’t know is who that player is. The hot name is Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, but various mock drafts have the Chargers taking Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey or Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner.

Telesco also said there’s a real possibility the Chargers could trade down, but he doesn’t want to move down too far. So if another team with a Top 10 pick is willing to give up a lot to move up to No. 3, Telesco will take that call. If not, the Chargers will take the player they identified as their pick long ago.

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Report: Reggie Ragland flagged for enlarged aorta

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 31:  Linebacker Reggie Ragland #19 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after stopping the Michigan State Spartans on third down in the first quarter during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland pops up in the first round of most mock drafts, but a medical issue may cause some teams to think twice about picking him.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Ragland has been “flagged” by some teams because he has an enlarged aorta. The condition requires yearly monitoring and can put one at risk of developing aneurysms and could require surgical intervention to help avoid that outcome.

Per Rapoport, some teams have pushed Ragland down their draft board as a result of the condition. He also cites seven teams that don’t believe it will impact his football career as long as he is monitored closely over the years.

Ragland took over for Ravens 2014 first-round pick C.J. Mosley as a physical presence in the middle of the Alabama defense and could see a lot of playing time early in his career if he shows he can be the same player at the professional level.

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Prep for the draft with PFT Live podcasts


There’s still plenty of time before the draft starts. Which means there’s plenty of time to catch up on this week’s editions of the PFT Live podcast.

The shows for all four days are posted. Guests include Adam Gase, Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Connor Cook, Matt Forte, DeMaurice Smith.

You can download all episodes at iTunes or audioBoom.

We’ll be back with another three-hour edition of the program on Friday morning, breaking down round one of the draft and getting ready for the next two rounds. Plus talking about whatever else happens between now and then.

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Raiders owner pledges $500 million for Las Vegas stadium

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 09:  Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is seen during warm ups before his team competes against the Denver Broncos at Coliseum on November 9, 2014 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Mark Davis is probably getting comped on this trip to Las Vegas, because he’s willing to drop half a billion dollars there.

Via Scott Bair of, the Raiders owner told the Southern Nevada Tourism and Infrastructure Committee meeting that he was ready to commit $500 million toward a stadium there to bring his team to the desert.

Davis also brought some rhetoric with him, saying Las Vegas: “would not just be getting a football team, they would be getting everyone who has worn the silver and black for the last 56 years.”

Of course, shaking the tree and waiting for the money to fall out isn’t the only problem for Davis, who would still need to convince 23 of his fellow owners to approve a move. But the reaction to Las Vegas has been more positive (or at least less negative) than it has been in the past.

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Nine former players file further appeal of concussion settlement


Retired NFL players who have been waiting since August 2013 for concussion settlement proceeds will be waiting even longer.

Nine former NFL players have filed yet another appeal regarding the settlement, seeking a rehearing before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit regarding the recent decision of a three-judge panel to uphold agreement to provide retired players with certain specific health conditions.

Via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the nine players who have decided to continue the objection to the settlement include Cleo Miller, Judson Flint, Elmer Underwood, Vincent Clark Sr., Ken Jones, Fred Smerlas, Jim Rourke, Lou Piccone, and James David Wilkins II. Their lawyer, John Pentz, now claims that, because the science regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy is in its infancy, the class action lacks an adequate representative plaintiff because it cannot be determined with sufficiency that any of the living plaintiffs have CTE.

But here’s the problem. How could a jury be expected to award damages to any living former player with CTE if there’s no way to prove that the player has CTE? Moreover, with no way to link CTE to specific future conditions or symptoms, it will become even harder to determine a proper award if the case proceeds.

Meanwhile, former players with real, significant conditions continue to have their compensation tied up in court as a small handful of players delay the resolution of the settlement.

“We believe the Third Circuit should deny the request for [a] rehearing, as these objections have now been heard and overruled by both the District Court and a three judge panel from the Third Circuit,” lead plaintiff’s counsel Christopher Seeger said in a statement. “This meritless appeal carries devastating consequences for the thousands of retired NFL players suffering from neurocognitive injuries, and those concerned about their future, as they will be forced to wait even longer for the immediate care and support they need and deserve. This latest appeal is heartbreaking news for the 99 percent of the retired player community that has supported this agreement. We will continue to forcefully defend this important settlement through the appeals process.”

When considering the slim chance of overturning the pending outcome, the slim chance of overcoming each and every legal obstacle the league will place in the plaintiffs’ path if the settlement is scrapped and litigation continues, and the amount of time it would take to resolve the case through litigation, it makes sense for the nine men who continue to impede the settlement to accept the outcome of two levels of the federal court system and move on.

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Report: Giants likely to take tackle at No. 10

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 31:  Offensive tackle Jack Conklin #74 of the Michigan State Spartans looks on before taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

We’re getting close to the point where we’ll know who teams actually take in the first round of the draft, but the hours until things get going in Chicago offer a final chance for reporters to dig up information about what might happen.

Gary Myers of the New York Daily News has such a report about the Giants, who select 10th overall after finishing 6-10 last season. Myers reports that the team “will for sure” go with the best offensive tackle left on the board with their selection.

Myers adds that it looks like that will be Jack Conklin of Michigan State with Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss and Ronnie Stanley expected to get drafted before the Giants are on the clock. If it is Conklin, he would be the second straight tackle taken in the first round by the Giants and third in the last four years. The Giants have since moved Justin Pugh (their top pick in 2013) to guard while Ereck Flowers started on the left side last year.

The Giants loaded up on defense in free agency and there have been no shortage of predictions that they’ll continue to go that route in the first round, something that would probably be the case if all three tackles are gone. The consensus is that there will be productive defenders available on the second day, which could help push the Giants to add to their blocking power on Thursday night.

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Joe Thomas says Browns told him they have no plans to trade him

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 3: Tackle Joe Thomas #73 and center Alex Mack #55 of the Cleveland Browns celebrate after defeating the Buffalo Bills during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 3, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Bills 37-24. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Few players have been linked to trade talks more often than Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, a veteran All-Pro whose career has been spent on a rebuilding team that never seems to rebuild. But despite the talk, it appears that Thomas will stay put.

Thomas told Tony Grossi of that team officials have told him they have “no plans” to trade him.

Of course, plans can change, and just because the Browns have no such plans now, that doesn’t mean they won’t end up trading him if some team offers the right compensation. The 31-year-old Thomas has three seasons left on his contract, with a cap hit of $9.5 million this year and $10 million in both 2017 and 2018.

The Browns are in another rebuilding mode with another regime, and so it might make sense to deal one of the most valuable assets they inherited from the old regime. But for now, it doesn’t appear that such a trade will take place.

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Su’a Cravens continues to be an intriguing prospect


Two years ago, the Cardinals surprised pretty much everyone by devoting a first-round pick to safety Deone Bucannon. He’s now a linebacker, and a very good one.

This year, some are wondering whether the same thing will happen with Su’a Cravens. The former USC linebacker will enter the NFL preferably as a safety. His eventual employer will make the final decision.

Before that decision is made, the question becomes which team will decide to put his name on a draft card. It won’t be a shock if he sneaks into the bottom of round one.

Cravens is at least good enough to merit negativity from #anonymousscouts. As one of them told the official #anonymousscout scrivener-sans-scrutiny regarding Cravens: “I don’t think he makes enough plays. He’s one of those guys that gets up late so you call his name. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but there was some pretending tough guy to him.”

So, possibly, someone thinks enough of Cravens to hope that he slides far enough to be snatched. Whether that happens late in round one or round two or round three remains to be seen.

Teams to watch include the teams he visited. Last month Cravens told PFT Live that he would be visiting the Saints, Lions, Raiders, Dolphins, Bills, and Colts.

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Ronald Leary signs RFA tender with Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 13:  Ronald Leary #65 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The window for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets with other teams closed last week, leaving their options for the 2016 season limited to signing their tender offers or sitting out.

Cowboys guard Ronald Leary has chosen the first of those options. Rob Phillips of the Cowboys website passes along that Leary signed his tender, which comes with a salary of $2.553 million after he was tendered at the second round level.

Leary was a starter for the Cowboys in 2013 and 2014, but made just four starts and moved into a backup role as La’El Collins climbed the depth chart as a rookie during the 2015 season.

By signing the tender, Leary sets himself up to be a top reserve on the Dallas line again. It also makes a trade possible should another team think Leary would make a good fit on their offensive line, although there’s been no public reports of interest from the Cowboys in dealing him.

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Justin Blackmon pleads guilty to DUI

Justin Blackmon, Chris Harris AP

On the day of the NFL draft, there’s more bad news for one of the biggest draft busts in recent memory.

Justin Blackmon, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, was arrested for DUI in December. According to TMZ, Blackmon pleaded guilty on Wednesday. TMZ reports that Blackmon is facing prison time when he’s sentenced in June.

As a rookie receiver for the Jaguars, Blackmon showed a lot of promise, catching 64 passes for 865 yards. But he played just four games in 2013 and hasn’t played since after he was suspended indefinitely for repeated violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy. At this point it seems extremely unlikely that he’ll ever play in the NFL again.

Blackmon serves as a cautionary tale to all 32 teams today: No matter how great a player’s talent, off-field issues can wreck his career. Blackmon will surely be discussed in many draft rooms today.

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