Fan gets signed Dan Snyder photo in response to plea to keep Kirk Cousins

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When Washington fan Matt Fraedrich wrote a personal letter to Dan Snyder in December, what he was hoping to get out of it was a long-term commitment from the franchise to quarterback Kirk Cousins. What he actually got was something very different.

Fraedrich got a signed photograph of team owner Daniel Snyder.

“There wasn’t even a cover letter or anything,” Fraedrich told the Washington Post. “Just one photo of Dan Snyder, signed.”

What Fraedrich had asked for was for Snyder to keep Cousins around, something Snyder did not do.

“Please give Kirk Cousins a long-term deal that makes him happy to be Redskin, even if that means making him the highest-paid player in NFL history. Thank you,” Fraedrich wrote in his original letter.

Fraedrich said that’s all in the past and he’s now going to cheer for the team’s new quarterback, Alex Smith. But he referred to Snyder responding to his letter with an autographed picture of himself as ” kind of a jackass move.”

Jaguars bring back all-black helmets with new uniforms

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The Jaguars unveiled their new uniforms on Thursday, although one aspect of them will be familiar to those with a long memory.

The team is going back to the all-black helmets they used earlier in their history, including when current executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin was the team’s head coach. Coughlin referenced that history while discussing the return of the old look.

“A traditional, classic, distinctive National Football League uniform that could be related to,” Coughlin said in a statement. “We have three players that should be in the Hall of Fame. Tony Boselli should be in the Hall of Fame, Fred Taylor should be in the Hall of Fame and Jimmy Smith should be in the Hall of Fame. The thing that’s important for me in thinking about this uniform is the connect. The players of the 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars will wear a uniform, that when they see those three people inducted into the Hall of Fame, they can relate directly to that. That’s the distinctive, traditional, classic, uniform of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

The team also showed off five new uniform combinations. They have white, teal and black jerseys and pants in the same color with the options of going all one color or mixing the black pants with either of the other jerseys.

Will Baker Mayfield will his way to the top five?

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I love a good story. And any story that features a guy taking multiple chances on himself and succeeding each time is a good story in my book.

Enter Baker Mayfield. A recent profile from Robert Klemko of SI.com has generated headlines because Mayfield admits to not being fully prepared for a meeting with the Chargers. But there’s a reason for Mayfield’s lack of attention to that team’s playbook in advance of the meeting: Mayfield believes he’ll be long gone before the Chargers put a name on the card that will contain the name of the 17th overall pick in the draft.

Mayfield, when meeting with the man he’d hire to represent him and reviewing a list of 2017 draft picks and the contracts they signed, drew a line after the Broncos at No. 5 and said, “I’m not going later than this.”

I’m not about to doubt the guy. And not just because the Jets seem to be smitten with him at No. 3. If not the Jets, it will be someone else, potentially by trading up to get him.

Mayfield’s current status marks the culmination of a journey that began when, at the urging of his father, he decided to pass on scholarship offers from Texas Tech and Washington State and walk on at Texas Tech. He instantly became the starter. Then he transferred to Oklahoma, walking on again. And he instantly became the starter, again.

He’s short. So what? He can play, and he can play well. And he seems to have the quality that so many of the great quarterbacks have, a confidence that from time to time crosses over into delusion but that never really is delusion because he backs up what he believes. He believes he’ll be a top-five pick, and so he will.

And then we’ll see what happens when he commences the process of making other things he surely believes comes to fruition, in the same way he previously has.

Jaguars to open the NFL’s first dog park

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Cats and dogs living together! Mass hysteria!

The Jaguars have announced a historic first, as they’re opening the NFL’s first in-stadium dog park this fall at EverBank Field.

And it’s not just a place for their 2008 through 2016 teams to congregate, but a new amenity as they try to punch up their fan experience. At a time when teams are worried about people staying home and watching it on TV, allowing some of them to bring man’s best friend along can’t hurt.

Of course, things could get ugly if the Browns show up and start throwing dog bones around, but for a team that was recently known for a stadium full of tarps, trying to do something unique’s a great idea.

Eagles open to trading out of first round

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The Eagles don’t have a lot of capital in this year’s draft. As the Super Bowl champions they pick last in each round, and they’ve traded away their second- and third-round picks. They didn’t get any compensatory picks this year, either.

All that means it would make sense for Philadelphia to move down and collect more picks. Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman was asked if he’s open to trading out of the first round, and he confirmed that he is.

“We’re open for business in every round,” Roseman said.

The last pick in the first round of the draft has been traded three of the last four years, and teams like those late first-round picks because players drafted in the first round have fifth-year options on their contracts, meaning those players have to wait a year longer before they can leave in free agency. Roseman will surely get calls about trading No. 32, and he’s open to a deal.

Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

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Buccaneers linebacker Kendell Beckwith will spend much, if not all, of the offseason recovering from a fractured ankle.

Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht said during a Thursday press conference that Beckwith was injured in a car accident last week while at home in Louisiana. Beckwith, who was a passenger in the car, had surgery on Tuesday.

Per multiple reporters at the press conference, Licht said it is too soon to have an idea about when Beckwith will be able to resume football activities. As a result, he can’t rule out the possibility that Beckwith will miss regular season time as a result of the injury.

Beckwith was a third-round pick last year and played just under 80 percent of the defensive snaps while staring nine games. He ended the year with 73 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

John Dorsey “very confident” with where Browns are in draft process

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Anyone looking for concrete hints about which players will be joining the Browns in the first round of the draft next week didn’t get them from General Manager John Dorsey on Thursday.

Dorsey held a pre-draft press conference and dismissed any reports about what the team is going to do because he’s gone “dark” in terms of talking to anyone outside of the organization of late. Dorsey was asked if the team has made any decisions about who they are going to pick, which led to a response that Dorsey employed several times during the media session.

“I’m very confident where we are in the process right now. The draft is seven days away,” Dorsey said. 

Dorsey was also asked what he considers to be the most important attribute for a young quarterback in terms of physical or mental ability. Dorsey answered by saying that the “only thing I really care about is does the guy win,” although he later said that he does think hand size — as it pertains to playing in Cleveland — and locker room fit are important attributes in assessing quarterbacks.  

On the non-quarterback front, Dorsey was asked about not bringing in Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb and Minkah Fitzpatrick for visits. Dorsey said he didn’t have any questions about the trio and called them great kids while explaining he preferred to use the visits for players that the team did have questions about during the process.

The Browns have actually considered taking two quarterbacks

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It has been suggested, mostly as a joke, that the Browns could ensure that they’ll get a great quarterback by using both the No. 1 and No. 4 overall pick on that position. Apparently, it’s not as big of a joke as many had believed.

Kevin Clark of TheRinger.com reports that the Browns have “thought about it, discussed it, and investigated it.” The work progressed to the point where one unnamed source with whom Clark spoke was able to “rattle off every previous instance of teams drafting two passers high because he’d done the prep work on the idea.”

The thought process doesn’t only mean that that Browns could take a quarterback at No. 1 and No. 4. They could trade down from No. 4 and take a quarterback later in round one. They also could take a second quarterback with one of the other picks they hold in the first 64 selections (five in all) and in the first 123 picks (eight in all).

The most notorious example of a pair of first-round quarterbacks came in 1989, when the Cowboys took Troy Aikman and then invested a first-round pick in the supplemental draft on Steve Walsh. (A year later, the Cowboys traded Walsh to the Saints for a first-round pick and a third-round pick in 1991, and a second round pick in 1992, which perhaps prompted the Vikings to say, “Man, the Cowboys screwed them.”)

Six years ago, Washington traded up from No. 6 to No. 2 to draft Robert Griffin III, and then picked Kirk Cousins in round four. Cousins, by 2015, supplanted Griffin as the starter.

As Clark notes, the problem with drafting a pair of quarterbacks comes from the lack of practice reps necessary to develop both of them, especially with Tyrod Taylor under contract for 2018. The fact that the Browns are even considering it underscores the team’s recent trend of failing to pick apparent franchise quarterbacks (Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson), along with the uncertainty as to which quarterback will emerge as the best quarterback from the 2018 class.

Recent history suggests that, whoever he is, he probably won’t end up being a Brown.

Derwin James turned down request to work out

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NFL teams try to gather as much information as they can about prospects leading up to the draft, to the danger of the player himself.

Most guys go along with it for fear of not angering a potential boss, but some guys are willing to pass.

Last year, Christian McCaffrey stood out by refusing to conduct private workouts with teams, and there’s likely another high first-round pick following in his footsteps. According to Albert Breer of SI.com, Florida State safety Derwin James refused a request from the Buccaneers to work out after his pro day.

James ran a 4.47 40, posted 21 repetitions of the 225-pound bench press, and had an 11-foot broad jump and a 40-inch vertical at the Scouting Combine, so combined with his college tape, he’s presumably shown enough. But teams are going to push guys to work out because they want to see things with their own eyes.

First-round prospect Taven Bryan had eight workouts, followed by 12 team visits in a 16-day span. And as players go into workouts and visits exhausted, they’re putting themselves at risk. Already this offseason, Wisconsin cornerback Nick Nelson tore his meniscus while working out for the Lions, and N.C. State defensive lineman Kentavius Street tore his ACL while working out for the Giants.

Breer mentions that some other top-15 prospects have also made the decision to refuse workouts, as they should. With a little luck, the trend will spread and players will stop putting their professional futures at risk needlessly.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix finds new Packers defense “likable and learnable”

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The Packers made a big change on defense this year when they parted ways with defensive coordinator Dom Capers in favor of former Browns head coach Mike Pettine and the team’s players are getting their first taste of life under Pettine with the offseason program getting underway this week.

Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix likes what he’s seen thus far. Clinton-Dix called Pettine’s system “likable and learnable” and cornerback Tramon Williams, who played for Pettine in Cleveland, described it as simple and aggressive.

However the defense is drawn up, Pettine will also be charged with making sure players are doing what they’re charged with doing every snap. Capers was criticized after last season for a lack of accountability, but Clinton-Dix says he’s seen positive developments on that front.

“Everybody has been held accountable,” Clinton-Dix said, via the team’s website. “There’s not going to be any loose strings whether you’re a 10-year vet or a rookie. Guys are going to be held accountable and I’m excited about that.”

Clinton-Dix didn’t make the same impact in 2017 that he had in previous seasons, something he attributed to not being put in a playmaking position much of the time. He said the “rearview mirror” is off now, however, and everyone in Green Bay will be working to build a more effective unit this time around.

Plenty of top teams have brought in Denzel Ward for visits

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Former Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward visited PFT Live on Thursday. Before that, he visited six teams that pick in the top 10.

Ward said he has visited the Browns (No. 1, No. 4), the Buccaneers (No. 7), the Bears (No. 8), the 49ers (No. 9), the Dolphins (No. 11), and the Bills (No. 12).

Ward continues an impressive run of Buckeye defensive backs. Last year, Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley were picked in round one. The year before that, the Giants selected Eli Apple in round one.

Ward chose not to participate in the Cotton Bowl after deciding to leave Ohio State prematurely, a business decision that Ward explained was influenced by seeing players like Jaylon Smith suffer injuries in their final collegiate games.

Dates of international games announced

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Many of the 256 combinations of known-opponent/date which will be formally announced tonight at 8 p.m. will leak out ahead of time.

The league went ahead and spilled the beans on four more this morning.

The NFL announced the dates for the four international matchups.

The Seahawks will play the Raiders on Oct. 14 at the new Totttenham Hotspur stadium, the first NFL game at the brand new venue, which the league offered input and a little money for the construction of.

The Titans will play the Chargers at Wembley on Oct. 21, and the Eagles will play the Jaguars at Wembley on Oct. 28.

Coupled with the Nov. 19 Chiefs-Rams game in Mexico City, the four international dates are now set.

Report: Jets-Lions to open season on Monday Night Football

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We still don’t know who will be in the booth when Monday Night Football debuts in 2018. But we now know who will be on the field.

Brian Costello of the New York Post reports that the Lions will host the Jets on the first Monday night of the season. This means that, for the second straight year, the first half of the Monday doubleheader will consist of teams that failed to make the playoffs the prior year.

The good news for the Jets and Lions is that last year’s teams that launched Monday Night Football, the Vikings and Saints, both made it to the final eight despite missing the postseason in 2016.

The Jets did not appear on Monday Night Football in 2017, and they played in only one prime-time game. For the Lions, new coach Matt Patricia will debut against a team that he has dealt with twice per year since joining the Patriots in 2004.

Michael Brockers: Rams can’t “fall into the hype”

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The Rams have made plenty of headlines this offseason with moves that brought Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh to Los Angeles and those additions have led some to install the team among the favorites in the NFC for the 2018 season.

Even when you’re making additions to a team that won its division last year, winning the offseason doesn’t always lead to wins on the field. Head coach Sean McVay addressed that as the team started offseason work this week by saying the team has to “wipe the slate clean” as they prepare for the year to come.

That message reached defensive tackle Michael Brockers.

“I don’t want to make it bigger than it is,” Brockers said, via ESPN.com. “We’ve brought in tremendous talents, but at the same time, we still have to put the work in. We can’t fall into the hype. We just have to put our heads down and continue to grind.”

The Rams made one of the bigger turnarounds in the league in 2017. Keeping those gains while finding ways to continue to improve provide a different challenge for 2018.

Time 100 includes J.J. Watt, Ann McKee

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The annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world includes two who have direct — but very different — ties to the NFL.

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has qualified, but not for anything he did on the field last year. Instead, Watt’s seat-of-the-pants decision to raise money for victims of serious and extensive flooding in Houston last year ended with $37 million in funds, and a major impact on his community.

Dr. Ann McKee’s connection to football is one that the stewards of the game would likely prefer didn’t exist. She has been instrumental in research regarding the realities of Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy, a condition that has forced the NFL to do everything it can to make the game safer.

Former NFL linebacker Chris Borland, who played one season before walking away due to concerns about brain trauma, authored the short essay accompanying the selection.

“Dr. McKee’s groundbreaking work on [CTE] was central to my decision, and she may have saved my life,” Borland writes. “At the very least, her work has likely spared me much of the suffering we see today among former NFL players.”

Borland had every right to choose to quit playing football, but his not-so-subtle presumption that all former players are destined to suffer and possibly die from CTE overstates what science currently knows about what it means to have CTE, and whether plenty of non-football players have the same condition.

That’s not a pro-football pro football opinion influenced by the sport that butters my bread; it’s a basic reality that often gets overlooked when assuming that all pro football players are destined to develop CTE and that all persons who develop CTE are destined to experience cognitive issues leading to premature death. The medical evidence simply doesn’t go that far yet, and it possibly never will. The anecdotal evidence that often gets overlooked by those with an anti-football agenda is that plenty of men who played football in the years before brains were taken seriously are doing just fine as they reach their golden years.

The work by Dr. McKee and others remains valuable, and they have resulted in real changes to the game. Much more work needs to be done before we collectively know the extent of the risk between playing professional football and suffering from brain issues later in life.