Aaron Rodgers Isn’t Scared: Of Aging, New Contracts or Sharks (Anymore)

Getty Images

In the debut of his new column Football Morning in America, Peter King covers:

• Aaron Rodgers … on aging, his upcoming contract, sharks and the Dalai Lama

• Tony Romo … on golf, broadcasting and the balance of both

• Nick Foles … on book signings and the possibility of going from Super Bowl MVP to the bench

• A surprisingly difficult football quiz to catch everyone up on all things NFL after a summer slumber

• Thoughts, notes, opinions on referees, Terrell Owens, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray and more

• Plus 10 things, travel notes, factoids, beernerdness, coffeenerdness and all the old column staples [more]

Supplemental draft begins with a lottery, has 10-minute rounds

Getty Images

For NFL fans, the supplemental draft often feels shrouded in mystery: Unlike the regular draft, which is a much-hyped major event, the supplemental draft comes and goes before many fans even realize it.

This year’s supplemental draft begins Wednesday at 1 p.m. Eastern, and as many as three players — Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal, Virginia Tech cornerback Adonis Alexander and Mississippi State safety Brandon Bryant — have a decent chance of being selected. Two other players — Oregon State linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu and Grand Valley State running back Marty Carter — are eligible to be selected but probably won’t be, and will have to hope some team invites them to training camp as an undrafted free agent.

One thing that makes the supplemental draft different from the regular draft is that the NFL uses an NBA-style draft lottery to determine the order: The teams with worse records have a better chance of getting higher supplemental draft picks, but the supplemental draft does not follow the same order as the regular draft.

What’s also different is that the supplemental draft ends quickly: Each round can last just 10 minutes, so the whole draft would last at most 70 minutes — and probably even less than that.

PFT requested a primer on the supplemental draft, and the league provided us with the following:

1. The Draft will continue until all players have been selected or seven rounds have been completed, whichever occurs first. Each round will last 10 minutes.

2. If a player is selected in a given round, the selecting club will forfeit its selection in the same round in the subsequent Principal Draft, which is scheduled for April 25-27, 2019.

3. Priority in the Supplemental Draft will be established by a weighted lottery, which will be conducted on the morning of the Supplemental Draft. Clubs will be notified of the priority for the Supplemental Draft shortly before 1:00 p.m. Once the Draft has begun, no further trades involving draft choices will be accepted until it is over. The order of each round will reflect any previously completed trades.

4. Choices to which a club does not own clear title may not be exercised. For example, Club A has traded its own 2019 third-round choice to Club B for a player, contingent upon that player being a member of Club A’s Active List at some time during the 2018 regular season. Because there is no way at this time to determine which club will end up with the 2019 choice (i.e., it may revert to Club A if the roster contingency is not fulfilled), the choice may not be exercised by either club in the Supplemental Draft.

5. To expedite what otherwise would be a very lengthy procedure, the following steps will be taken for each round:
a) At 1:00 p.m., the League office will notify all clubs that the first round has begun.
b) Clubs will then have 10 minutes, with the time limit running concurrently for all Clubs, to respond if they wish to select in Round One. All responses should be immediate. This is in lieu of the procedure used during the regular Draft under which an individual club’s allotted time limit does not begin until the Club ahead of it has made its selection.
c) Any club that knows in advance that it will pass the opportunity to select for the entire seven rounds, or for a specific number of rounds fewer than seven, is requested to advise the League office prior to the beginning of the Draft. intentions will be kept confidential from other clubs and will be used only to expedite this process.
d) If a player is selected in a given round — even if selected by more than one club — the selections will be compiled and the player will be awarded to the club that holds priority. Clubs are to be notified immediately of players awarded to other clubs. Clubs that hold more than one choice in a round must indicate to the League office which choice they are using for the selection.

New catch rule includes more than third step, reaching with ball

Getty Images

The NFL’s most recent effort to fix the catch rule included the crafting of an objective test for satisfying the all-important third element of the rule. Subjectivity, though not entirely eliminated, has been enhanced by objective examples of satisfying the requirement that the ball be possessed for a specific amount of time.

The two examples cited by the league in passing the catch rule were taking a third step or reaching or extending the ball toward the line to gain. But the final rule identifies other concrete ways in which the player will be deemed to have possessed the ball long enough to complete a catch.

They are: Tucking the ball away; turning upfield; or avoiding or warding off an opponent.

The subject aspect of the catch rule remains, allowing the official to award a catch if the official simply believes that the player had the time to do something that he actually didn’t attempt to do. With five specific “acts common to the game” now listed in the rule as automatic devices for satisfying the time element, there isn’t much else a pass catcher could do short of stand still or immediately fall down during whatever time is deemed to be necessarily to have the ball long enough to complete the act of catching the ball.

Remembering Joe Delaney, 35 years later

Getty Images

June 29, 1983. That’s the day Chiefs running back Joe Delaney saw three children drowning, and he jumped in to save them.

Even though Joe couldn’t swim.

It happened 35 years ago today. Joe Delaney would be 59. He died at 24, giving his life in an effort to save a trio of young strangers, one of whom survived.

I can’t swim good,” Delaney said as he rushed into the water, ‘”but I’ve got to save those kids.'”

He had entered the NFL in 1981, rushing for 1,121 yards and vaulting the Chiefs to their first winning season since 1973.

Every year on this day, we remember Delaney’s heroism. Three years ago, ESPN made Delaney’s life the subject of a short documentary film. Someone by now should have made his story into a major motion picture.

Regardless of whether or not it ever happens, we’ll continue to remember Joe Delaney every year at this time. People who know the story need to be reminded of it, and people who don’t know the story need to learn it. At a time when too many seem to be concerned only about protecting and advancing their own self interests, it’s fitting to celebrate Delaney’s decision to perform the ultimate act of selflessness.

NFL announces Jameis Winston suspension

Getty Images

The NFL has announced that Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will indeed miss the first three games of the 2018 regular season, as a result of a suspension arising under the Personal Conduct Policy.

“In November 2017, the NFL learned of an incident involving Winston and a shared-ride service driver that had taken place in March 2016 in Scottsdale, AZ,” the league said in a statement. “The incident, which had been immediately reported by the driver to her employer and which resulted in Winston’s removal from the ride-sharing platform, was also publicly reported last November.

“The league promptly initiated a comprehensive investigation that included interviews with several persons, including the driver, Winston and others with relevant information. The league also examined an extensive amount of other evidence, including telephone records, business records, data from electronic devices and other communications. Based on the investigation, the NFL found that Winston had violated the NFL Personal Conduct Policy, which allows for discipline to be imposed even when criminal charges are not presented.”

While the statement does not delve into the specifics, it explains that Winston “violated the Personal Conduct Policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent and that disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.”

Winston has accepted the punishment and will not appeal, which fairly can be taken as an admission that he did what he was accused of doing. He will be eligible for training camp and the preseason. His suspension will commence following the preseason finale, and it will last until the day after the Week Three Monday night home game against the Steelers.

Training camp reporting dates for all 32 teams

AP

The end of offseason programs around the league last week have all 32 teams looking forward to training camp and the start of the push to the regular season.

All 32 teams have now announced the reporting dates for training camp. Many teams will have their rookies report ahead of their veterans and all teams will have all of their players in camp by July 27.

The first two teams to open camp are the Ravens and Bears. They will also open up the preseason schedule when they meet in the Hall of Fame Game on August 2 in Canton, Ohio.

The reporting dates for all 32 teams appear below:

Buffalo – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Miami – Rookies 7/18, Veterans 7/25

New England – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/25

New York Jets – Rookies 7/24, Veterans 7/26

Baltimore – Rookies 7/11, Veterans 7/18

Cincinnati – Rookies 7/23, Veterans 7/25

Cleveland – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Pittsburgh – Rookies 7/24, Veterans 7/25

Houston – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Indianapolis – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/25

Jacksonville – Rookies 7/18, Veterans 7/25

Tennessee – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/25

Denver – Rookies 7/24, Veterans 7/27

Kansas City – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/25

Los Angeles Chargers – Rookies and Veterans 7/27

Oakland – Rookies 7/23, Veterans 7/26

Dallas – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

New York Giants – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/25

Philadelphia – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Washington – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Chicago – Rookies 7/16, Veterans 7/19

Detroit – Rookies 7/19, Veterans 7/26

Green Bay – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Minnesota – Rookies 7/24, Veterans 7/27

Atlanta – Rookies 7/23, Veterans 7/26

Carolina – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

New Orleans – Rookies 7/18, Veterans 7/25

Tampa Bay – Rookies 7/23, Veterans 7/25

Arizona – Rookies 7/22, Veterans 7/27

Los Angeles Rams – Rookies 7/23, Veterans 7/25

San Francisco – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

Seattle – Rookies and Veterans 7/25

List of important dates for the 2018-2019 NFL season

Getty Images

Training camps are just a month away from getting underway for the start of the 2018-19 NFL season. The Hall of Fame Game will be on August 2 between the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears and the two teams can report for the start of camp on July 18.

While the league year officially gets started with the beginning of free agency in March, the real meat of the NFL calendar is when teams are actually playing football.

The NFL released a list of the important dates for the upcoming season, which include roster cut down dates, deadlines to sign franchise players to long-term extensions and the start of the 2019-20 league year are all included in the list below.

 

2018-2019 National Football League Important Dates

Late June — Rookie Experience Transition Program to be held at individual clubs. Attendance is mandatory for all 2018 rookies.

July 16 — At 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2018 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.

Mid-July — Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players. Veteran players other than quarterbacks or injured players may report to a club’s preseason training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the club’s first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later.

A three-day acclimation period will apply to players who are on a club’s roster up to and including the mandatory veteran reporting date. Players who report to camp, or join the club’s roster, or receive medical clearance to practice during the three-day acclimation period are required to complete as much of the acclimation period as remains. Players who report to camp, or join the club’s roster, or receive medical clearance to practice after the three-day acclimation period has ended may practice (including wearing pads) and play immediately after passing a physical.

July 23 — Signing period ends for Transition Players with outstanding tenders. After this date and until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.

July 23* — Signing period ends for Unrestricted Free Agents to whom a “May 9 Tender” was made by prior club. After this date and until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.

*or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later.

August 2 — Hall of Fame Game, Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears, Canton, Ohio.

August 2-5 — Hall of Fame Weekend, Canton, Ohio.

August 7 — Deadline for players under contract to report to their clubs to earn an accrued season for free agency.

August 7 — If a drafted rookie has not signed with his club by this date, he cannot be traded to any other club in 2018, and may sign a player contract only with the drafting club until the day of the Draft in the 2019 League Year.

August 9-13 — First Preseason Weekend.

August 16-20 — Second Team Preseason Weekend.

August 23-26 — Third Preseason Weekend.

August 30 — Final Preseason Games.

September 1 — Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List.

September 1 — Upon receipt of the Personnel Notice at approximately 1:00 p.m., New York time, clubs may establish a Practice Squad of 10 players (clubs participating in the International Player Development Program may sign one additional international player to a Practice Player Contract.) No club, including the player’s prior club, will be permitted to sign a player to a Practice Player Contract until all clubs have received simultaneous notification via the above Personnel Notice that such player’s prior NFL player contract has been terminated via the waiver system.

September 2 — Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 12:00 noon, New York time.

September 2 — Upon receipt of the Personnel Notice at approximately 1:00 p.m., New York time, clubs may establish a Practice Squad of 10 players (the four designated clubs (NFC South) may sign one player to an International Practice Player Contract.) No club, including the player’s prior club, will be permitted to sign a player to a Practice Player Contract until all clubs have received simultaneous notification via the above Personnel Notice that such player’s prior NFL player contract has been terminated via the waiver system.

September 3-8 — In accordance with the 2018 Personnel (Injury) Report Policy, each club is required to file a Practice Report with the NFL communications department by 4:00 p.m., New York time, (or as soon as possible after the completion of practice) every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for a regular season Sunday game; Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for a Thursday game; Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for a Monday game; and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for a Saturday game.

Each club must also file a weekly regular season Game Status Report with the NFL communications department by 4:00 p.m., New York time (or as soon as possible after the completion of practice) on Wednesday for a Thursday game, Friday for a Sunday game, Saturday for a Monday game, and Thursday for a Saturday game. An update must be reported if there is any change in a player’s condition after the initial Game Status Report is filed.

September 6 — At 12:00 a.m., New York time, the Top 51 Rule expires for all NFL clubs.

September 6, 9-10 — Regular Season opens.

September 25 — Beginning on the Tuesday following the third weekend of regular season games, the claiming priority is based on the inverse order of the standing of clubs in the current season’s games.

October 1 — NFL London Series, Seattle Seahawks vs. Oakland Raiders, New Tottenham Stadium.

Mid-October — Beginning on the sixth calendar day prior to a club’s seventh regular season game (including any bye week) clubs are permitted to begin practicing players on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform and Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness for a period not to exceed 21 days. Players may be activated during the 21-day practice period, or prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the day after the conclusion of the 21-day period, provided that no player may be activated to participate in a Week 6 game.

Mid-October — At any time after six weeks have elapsed since a player was placed on Reserve/Injured or Reserve/Non-Football Injury/Illness, each club is permitted to designate two players for return from either list to the club’s 53-player Active/Inactive List.

A player who is “Designated For Return” must have suffered a major football-related injury or non-football-related injury or illness after reporting to training camp and must have been placed on the applicable Reserve List after 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the day after the final roster reduction.

A player whom the club wishes to designate for return is permitted to return to practice for a period not to exceed 21 days. The club is required to notify the League office that the player has been “Designated For Return” on the first day the player begins to practice. The player cannot be returned to the Active/Inactive List until eight weeks have elapsed since the date he was placed on Reserve.

October 16-17 — Fall League Meeting, New York, New York.

October 21 — NFL London Series, Tennessee Titans vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Wembley Stadium.

October 28 — NFL London Series, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Wembley Stadium.

October 30 — All trading ends for 2018 at 4:00 p.m., New York time.

October 31 — Players with at least four previous pension-credited seasons are subject to the waiver system for the remainder of the regular season and postseason.

November 13 — At 4:00 p.m., New York time, signing period ends for Franchise Players who are eligible to receive offer sheets.

November 13 — Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to sign their unsigned Franchise and Transition Players, including Franchise Players who were eligible to receive offer sheets until this date. If still unsigned after this date, such players are prohibited from playing in the NFL in 2018.

November 13 — Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to sign their Unrestricted Free Agents to whom the “May 9 Tender” was made. If still unsigned after this date, such players are prohibited from playing in the NFL in 2018.

November 13 — Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to sign their Restricted Free Agents, including those to whom the “June 1 Tender” was made. If such players remain unsigned after this date, they are prohibited from playing in the NFL in 2018.

November 13 — Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to sign their drafted rookies. If such players remain unsigned after this date, they are prohibited from playing in the NFL in 2018.

November 19 — NFL Mexico Series, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Rams, Estadio Azteca.

December 12 — League Meeting, Irving, Texas.

December 30 — Week 17.

December 31 — Earliest permissible date for clubs to renegotiate or extend the rookie contract of a drafted rookie who was selected in any round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Any permissible renegotiated or extended player contract will not be considered a rookie contract, and will not be subject to the rules that limit rookie contracts.

December 31 — Option exercise period begins for Fifth-Year Option for First- Round Selections from the 2015 NFL Draft. To exercise the option, the club must give written notice to the player on or after December 1, 2018, but prior to May 3, 2019.

2019

January 5-6 — Wild Card Playoffs.

January 6 — Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that have byes in the Wild Card weekend may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of the Wild Card games.

January 12-13 — Divisional Playoffs.

January 13 — Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that won their Wild Card games may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games.

January 14 — Deadline for college players that are underclassmen to apply for special eligibility. A list of players who are accepted into the NFL Draft will be sent to clubs on January 18.

January 19 — East-West Shrine Game, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida.

January 20 — AFC and NFC Championship Games.

January 26 — Senior Bowl, Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama.

January 27 —  NFL Pro Bowl, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida.

January 27 — An assistant coach, whose team is participating in the Super Bowl, who has previously interviewed for another club’s head coaching job may have a second interview with such club no later than the Sunday preceding the Super Bowl.

February 3 — Super Bowl LIII, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia.

February 19 — First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.

February 26-March 4 — Combine Timing and Testing, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana.

March 5 — Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.

March 11-13 —  During the period beginning at 12 noon, New York time, on March 11th and ending at 3:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 13th, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2018 player contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 13. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 13.

During the above two-day negotiating period, a prospective unrestricted free agents who is not represented by an NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor is permitted to communicate directly with a new club’s front office officials (excluding the head coach and other members of the club’s coaching staff) regarding contract negotiations.

March 13 — The 2019 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time.

The first day of the 2019 League Year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 13. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the League office during the period between 4:00 p.m., New York time, and 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 13.

March 13 — Trading period for 2019 begins at 4:00 p.m., New York time, after expiration of all 2018 contracts.

March 24-27 — Annual League Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona.

April 1 — Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2018 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.

April 15 — Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.

April 19 — Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.

April 24 — Deadline for prior club to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.

April 25-27 —  NFL Draft, Nashville, Tennessee.

Why don’t fans support players who want more?

Getty Images

Plenty of players skipped mandatory minicamps this year in an effort to get more money. And plenty of fans don’t like it.

Why, given all that is now known about the risks of a career in professional football, do fans continue to complain when a player hopes to receive greater compensation for the risks he assumes and the sacrifices he makes? When the billionaire owners make shrewd business moves, they receive the perfunctory slow-clap from admiring fans. When players (many of whom aren’t millionaires in the sense that they don’t have a net worth of more than $1 million — and they definitely don’t have liquid assets to that degree) try to use the system to their advantage, they’re described as selfish, not team-oriented, and worried about the wrong things.

Hyperbolic curmudgeon Bill Polian recently ranted on ESPN’s NFL Live about the disingenuous notion that players have an obligation to honor their contracts. That’s easy for folks on the league’s side of the ledger to say, since teams can rip up the contracts whenever they want. Players can’t just walk away, so at times they must take advantage of the tools available to them under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Despite Polian’s position that players have no real alternatives, they do. The system allows them to not show up, as long as they’re willing to risk incurring the associated fines. For mandatory minicamp, the potential price is $84,435. For training camp, it’s $40,000 per day.

And if the players choose to push it even farther, they can give up game checks and show up as late as Week 10, getting credit for the contract year and moving another step closer to free agency.

The notion that a player who consciously takes advantage of these options is “violating his contract” ignores the broader contract that dictates the team-player relationship. The overriding document is the CBA, and the CBA allows players to withhold services (at a price), if they choose to do so.

Even then, fans still routinely side with the billionaires over the mostly-not-millionaires. It likely happens for a variety of reasons.

First, fans just want the players to play. During a holdout, it’s the player who is the one directly responsible for keeping the player from playing. So the fans pressure the player to “honor his contract,” not the team to give him a new one.

Second, the fans don’t care about the massive wealth differential between owners and players. From the perspective of the fans, they’re all rich. However, the owners are dramatically richer, earning billions collectively every year while also holding 100 percent of the equity in the teams. And the owners can do it indefinitely. The players have a limited window to make what they can before the exit the game with bodies and brains that may eventually betray them.

Third, it’s would be foolish to not consider the racial component, especially against the backdrop of the ongoing anthem debate. Some (many) white fans surely resent (consciously or not) the fact that African-American men parlay God-given physical skills into the kind of money and fame that the average white person never will enjoy, no matter how hard he or she works. So when African-American players try to get more money that some (many) white fans think they don’t really deserve, those fans get even more upset, reasoning that the players who already have more than they should should simply be happy with what they’re getting.

Regardless of the reason(s), fans are playing right into the hands of the billionaires, making it even harder for players who have one or two chances in their football lifetimes to maximize their earnings. Meanwhile, the billionaires continue to sit back and watch the money roll in, year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation, without ever taking a single physical risk.

That will continue even if fans change their perspective, but it will at least be a little harder for the billionaires to consistently get their way if fans are willing to rise up and demand that the revenue generated by the sport be more fairly distributed to those who make the sport what it is.

Baker Mayfield headlines list of 26 unsigned 2018 draft picks

AP

There were 256 players selected by NFL teams in April’s draft and almost all of them reached agreement on their initial professional contracts before teams hit their summer break this week.

Only 26 players remain unsigned with training camps starting in just over a month. That group includes first overall pick Baker Mayfield and 15 other players selected in the opening round of the draft. Four second-round picks, five third-round picks and one fifth-rounder round out the list of unsigned players.

Thirteen teams have signed all of their picks. The other 19 teams are listed below along with the players that remain unsigned.

Atlanta Falcons

WR Calvin Ridley (1st round, 26th overall)

Baltimore Ravens

TE Hayden Hurst (1st round, 25th overall)

Buffalo Bills

QB Josh Allen (1st round, 7th overall)

Carolina Panthers

WR D.J. Moore (1st round, 24th overall)

Chicago Bears

LB Roquan Smith (1st round, 8th overall)

Cincinnati Bengals

DE Sam Hubbard (3rd round, 77th overall)

LB Malik Jefferson (3rd round 78th overall)

Cleveland Browns

QB Baker Mayfield (1st round, 1st overall)

CB Denzel Ward (1st round, 4th overall)

Denver Broncos

LB Bradley Chubb (1st round, 5th overall)

RB Royce Freeman (3rd round, 71st overall)

Indianapolis Colts

LB Darius Leonard (2nd round, 36th overall)

OL Braden Smith (2nd round, 37th overall)

Jacksonville Jaguars

DT Taven Bryan (1st round, 29th overall)

Miami Dolphins

TE Mike Gesicki (2nd round, 42nd overall)

Minnesota Vikings

CB Mike Hughes (1st round, 30th overall)

New England Patriots

OL Isaiah Wynn (1st round, 23rd overall)

RB Sony Michel (1st round, 31st overall)

New York Giants

RB Saquon Barkley (1st round, 2nd overall)

DL RJ McIntosh (5th round, 139th overall)

New York Jets

QB Sam Darnold (1st round, 3rd overall)

Oakland Raiders

DE Arden Key (3rd round, 87th overall)

Pittsburgh Steelers

S Terrell Edmunds (1st round, 28th overall)

San Francisco 49ers 

T Mike McGlinchey (1st round, 9th overall)

WR Dante Pettis (2nd round, 44th overall)

Seattle Seahawks

DL Rasheem Green (3rd round, 79th overall)

Report: Kaepernick’s legal team will try to depose the President and Vice President

Getty Images

Collusion worlds are colliding.

While likely not the “dramatic turn” that attorney Mark Geragos promised a week ago, the Colin Kaepernick collusion grievance has definitely taken a turn. And it could end up being very dramatic, because it involves someone whose name has been closely associated with allegations of a very different sort of collusion.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reports that Kaepernick’s legal team “is expected to seek federal subpoenas in the coming weeks to compel testimony from [President Donald] Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other officials familiar with the president’s agenda on protesting NFL players.” The interest in questioning the President and others close to him flows from the argument that the NFL and its teams colluded to keep Kaepernick unemployed in order to avoid the ire of the administration.

Robinson lists the various occasions on which the President and the NFL have skirmished over the anthem issue, with Kaepernick continuously at the heart of the controversy. From the President suggesting in the early days of the protests that Kaepernick should find another country to the President mocking owners for fearing a “nasty tweet” from the President if any of them sign Kaepernick to the President telling Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that the anthem debate is a “very winning issue” for the President to the “get that son of a bitch off the field, he’s fired!” rant at an Alabama rally, the President’s fingerprints are all over this one.

Forcing him to attach his voice to this one by answering questions under oath will be a far different issue, however. First, the NFL’s system arbitrator must decide that the depositions are justified. Next, a federal court must decide to issue and to enforce the subpoena requests.

Surely, the President and his team will fight the effort, every step of the way. Especially since it’s possible that any proof of interference in Kaepernick’s employment interests could possibly result in a claim that the President and/or the Vice President violated the law.

NFLPA will “challenge any aspect” of anthem policy inconsistent with CBA

Getty Images

The NFL released a statement outlining a new anthem policy agreed to in a unanimous vote of league owners at this week’s meetings in Atlanta.

The policy calls for everyone on the field for the song to “stand and show respect,” but allows for players and other personnel to remain off the field if they choose. It also calls for the league to fine teams whose personnel do not “stand and show respect” and allows teams to set their own “work rules” for players who do not stand for the song.

After the NFL released its statement, the NFLPA responded with one of its own.

“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy.’ NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.

“The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.

“Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

At a brief press conference after the release of the statement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said there was “incredible engagement” with players about the anthem issue and said any response to the union would come in direct conversation with them. He was also asked who would be the arbiter of what it means to “show respect” and said the “general public has a very good feel” for what that is without delving into a detailed discussion of what that might mean beyond kneeling.

NFL releases statement on new anthem policy

Getty Images

The National Football League adopted a new policy regarding the national anthem at this week’s league meetings in Atlanta and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement outlining that policy on Wednesday afternoon.

As reported, the policy calls for all league and team personnel on the field to stand during the playing of the anthem while eliminating the requirement that all league and team personnel be on the field for the playing of the song. It also calls for the league to discipline teams whose personnel do not comply with the policy and allows teams to set their own “work rules” regarding players who do not stand during the playing of the song.

The complete text of that statement appears below:

The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.

The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.

It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.

This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.

We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it.

POLICY STATEMENT

The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities.

The membership also strongly believes that:

1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

2.The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.

3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.

4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

6. The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

How would the Malcolm Butler benching have been viewed in a world of legalized gambling?

Getty Images

Membership in the group that calls itself the @PFTPMPosse carries with it an important obligation. Via the questions posed for every episode of the #PFTPM podcast, the ever-growing group of loyal supporters introduces concepts and ideas that probably wouldn’t have otherwise entered my relaxed brain.

Here’s a great question that emerged in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision to allow legalized sports wagering in the 49 states that don’t have it: If Patriots coach Bill Belichick had planned to bench starting cornerback Malcolm Butler for the entirety of a Super Bowl (with the exception of one special-teams play) in an environment with widespread legal gambling, would Belichick have been able to keep that to himself?

The people who legally (in Nevada) and illegally (everywhere else) bet on the Patriots to cover in Super Bowl LII surely were miffed and perplexed that Butler didn’t play. If hundreds of millions of dollars legally had been bet on the Patriots and Belichick had made such an unexpected move for reasons that he chose (as he always does) to keep to himself, the reaction may have been far different.

This is just one of the many issues that NFL will have to consider as it braces for the unintended consequences of something that, on the surface, will result in much greater revenue for the sport. And it will be important for the league to anticipate the many unintended consequences and plan for them.

Given the Butler case, the NFL may need to demand a greater degree of transparency not just as to injuries (where there’s currently a very limited degree of transparency, thanks to the bare-bones injury reports) but also as to strategic departures from the reasonably expected status quo. Teams eventually may have to publish binding depth charts within, say, 48 hours before kickoff. Other than players listed as questionable or worse on the injury report, the starters as listed on the official depth chart would then be starting the next game.

But that would have unintended consequences, too, with coaches easily avoiding the spirit of the rule by listing a player as a starter — and then benching him after as little as only one play. So then the question would become whether the players listed as starters would be required to participate in a certain number of snaps barring injury or gross ineffectiveness. Which then would open the door for teams to claim a player was injured and/or grossly ineffective when perhaps he actually wasn’t.

It could quickly become an effort to juggle Jello for the league, with coaches who strive for maximum secrecy (and who already resent having to make basic disclosures about injuries) doing anything they can to find a way to comply with efforts to prevent another Butler debacle while keeping the flexibility to do whatever they want to do without explaining themselves to anyone. But the NFL will have a good reason to come up with something that works, and to compel the coaches to go along with it.

The unspoken nightmare scenario for the league office continues to be the creation of an independent agency charged with overseeing professional football. If enough gambling controversies emerge, whether due to corruption, incompetence, or an awkward intersection between coaches who want to win football games and gamblers who want to win money, the NFL may lose its stubborn insistence to handle its own business.

And if it seems far fetched to think that government would get involved in something like this, consider the overall purpose and mission of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Only 76 draft picks remain unsigned three weeks after draft

AP

The days of lengthy training camp holdouts for draft picks has long since passed (unless you’re Joey Bosa) given the current rookie contract slotting system in place with the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Just three weeks since the NFL Draft came to an end, the vast majority of draft picks have already signed their rookie contract.

As of Thursday night, 180 of the 256 players drafted had signed their rookie contracts, according to the league transaction reports.

There are a few notable quirks to the players that remain unsigned.

There are currently more third-round picks without contracts (24) than first-round picks (22).

The Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins account for 19 of the remaining unsigned players as neither team has inked a single draft pick to a rookie contract at this point.

Three teams – the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles – have signed their entire draft classes. Another 11 teams (Atlanta, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, LA Chargers, Minnesota, New Orleans, Seattle, Tennessee and Washington) have just one pick yet to be signed.

Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson (6th overall) and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen (10th overall) are the highest picks to have signed their rookie contracts.

Below is the list of players still unsigned, first listed by draft position, then by team.

By draft order:

Round Pick Team Player
1 1 Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield
1 2 New York Giants Saquon Barkley
1 3 New York Jets Sam Darnold
1 4 Cleveland Browns Denzel Ward
1 5 Denver Broncos Bradley Chubb
1 7 Buffalo Bills Josh Allen
1 8 Chicago Bears Roquan Smith
1 9 San Francisco 49ers Mike McGlinchey
1 11 Miami Dolphins Minkah Fitzpatrick
1 12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vita Vea
1 15 Oakland Raiders Kolton Miller
1 17 Los Angeles Chargers Derwin James
1 21 Cincinnati Bengals Billy Price
1 23 New England Patriots Isaiah Wynn
1 24 Carolina Panthers D.J. Moore
1 25 Baltimore Ravens Hayden Hurst
1 26 Atlanta Falcons Calvin Ridley
1 28 Pittsburgh Steelers Terrell Edmunds
1 29 Jacksonville Jaguars Taven Bryan
1 30 Minnesota Vikings Mike Hughes
1 31 New England Patriots Sony Michel
1 32 Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson
2 35 Cleveland Browns Nick Chubb
2 36 Indianapolis Colts Darius Leonard
2 37 Indianapolis Colts Braden Smith
2 38 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ronald Jones II
2 41 Tennessee Titans Harold Landry
2 42 Miami Dolphins Mike Gesicki
2 44 San Francisco 49ers Dante Pettis
2 46 Kansas City Chiefs Breeland Speaks
2 47 Arizona Cardinals Christian Kirk
2 61 Jacksonville Jaguars D.J. Chark
2 63 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Carlton Davis
3 65 Oakland Raiders Brandon Parker
3 67 Cleveland Browns Chad Thomas
3 69 New York Giants B.J. Hill
3 70 San Francisco 49ers Fred Warner
3 71 Denver Broncos Royce Freeman
3 72 New York Jets Nathan Shepherd
3 73 Miami Dolphins Jerome Baker
3 74 Washington Redskins Geron Christian
3 75 Kansas City Chiefs Derrick Nnadi
3 76 Pittsburgh Steelers Mason Rudolph
3 77 Cincinnati Bengals Sam Hubbard
3 78 Cincinnati Bengals Malik Jefferson
3 79 Seattle Seahawks Rasheem Green
3 80 Houston Texans Martinas Rankin
3 81 Dallas Cowboys Michael Gallup
3 87 Oakland Raiders Arden Key
3 89 Los Angeles Rams Joseph Noteboom
3 91 New Orleans Saints Tre'Quan Smith
3 92 Pittsburgh Steelers Chukwuma Okorafor
3 93 Jacksonville Jaguars Ronnie Harrison
3 96 Buffalo Bills Harrison Phillips
3 97 Arizona Cardinals Mason Cole
3 99 Denver Broncos Isaac Yiadom
3 100 Kansas City Chiefs Dorian O'Daniel
4 105 Cleveland Browns Antonio Callaway
4 107 New York Jets Christopher Herndon
4 110 Oakland Raiders Nick Nelson
4 111 Los Angeles Rams Brian Allen
4 123 Miami Dolphins Durham Smythe
4 131 Miami Dolphins Kalen Ballage
4 135 Los Angeles Rams John Franklin-Myer
5 139 New York Giants R.J. McIntosh
5 147 Los Angeles Rams Micah Kiser
5 160 Los Angeles Rams Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
6 176 Los Angeles Rams John Kelly
6 192 Los Angeles Rams Jamil Demby
6 195 Los Angeles Rams Sebastian Joseph
6 205 Los Angeles Rams Trevon Young
6 209 Miami Dolphins Cornell Armstrong
7 227 Miami Dolphins Quentin Poling
7 229 Miami Dolphins Jason Sanders
7 231 Los Angeles Rams Travin Howard
7 244 Los Angeles Rams Justin Lawler

By team:

Round Pick Team Player
2 47 Arizona Cardinals Christian Kirk
3 97 Arizona Cardinals Mason Cole
1 26 Atlanta Falcons Calvin Ridley
1 25 Baltimore Ravens Hayden Hurst
1 32 Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson
1 7 Buffalo Bills Josh Allen
3 96 Buffalo Bills Harrison Phillips
1 24 Carolina Panthers D.J. Moore
1 8 Chicago Bears Roquan Smith
1 21 Cincinnati Bengals Billy Price
3 77 Cincinnati Bengals Sam Hubbard
3 78 Cincinnati Bengals Malik Jefferson
1 1 Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield
1 4 Cleveland Browns Denzel Ward
2 35 Cleveland Browns Nick Chubb
3 67 Cleveland Browns Chad Thomas
4 105 Cleveland Browns Antonio Callaway
3 81 Dallas Cowboys Michael Gallup
1 5 Denver Broncos Bradley Chubb
3 71 Denver Broncos Royce Freeman
3 99 Denver Broncos Isaac Yiadom
3 80 Houston Texans Martinas Rankin
2 36 Indianapolis Colts Darius Leonard
2 37 Indianapolis Colts Braden Smith
1 29 Jacksonville Jaguars Taven Bryan
2 61 Jacksonville Jaguars D.J. Chark
3 93 Jacksonville Jaguars Ronnie Harrison
2 46 Kansas City Chiefs Breeland Speaks
3 75 Kansas City Chiefs Derrick Nnadi
3 100 Kansas City Chiefs Dorian O’Daniel
1 17 Los Angeles Chargers Derwin James
3 89 Los Angeles Rams Joseph Noteboom
4 111 Los Angeles Rams Brian Allen
4 135 Los Angeles Rams John Franklin-Myer
5 147 Los Angeles Rams Micah Kiser
5 160 Los Angeles Rams Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
6 176 Los Angeles Rams John Kelly
6 192 Los Angeles Rams Jamil Demby
6 195 Los Angeles Rams Sebastian Joseph
6 205 Los Angeles Rams Trevon Young
7 231 Los Angeles Rams Travin Howard
7 244 Los Angeles Rams Justin Lawler
1 11 Miami Dolphins Minkah Fitzpatrick
2 42 Miami Dolphins Mike Gesicki
3 73 Miami Dolphins Jerome Baker
4 123 Miami Dolphins Durham Smythe
4 131 Miami Dolphins Kalen Ballage
6 209 Miami Dolphins Cornell Armstrong
7 227 Miami Dolphins Quentin Poling
7 229 Miami Dolphins Jason Sanders
1 30 Minnesota Vikings Mike Hughes
1 23 New England Patriots Isaiah Wynn
1 31 New England Patriots Sony Michel
3 91 New Orleans Saints Tre’Quan Smith
1 2 New York Giants Saquon Barkley
3 69 New York Giants B.J. Hill
5 139 New York Giants R.J. McIntosh
1 3 New York Jets Sam Darnold
3 72 New York Jets Nathan Shepherd
4 107 New York Jets Christopher Herndon
1 15 Oakland Raiders Kolton Miller
3 65 Oakland Raiders Brandon Parker
3 87 Oakland Raiders Arden Key
4 110 Oakland Raiders Nick Nelson
1 28 Pittsburgh Steelers Terrell Edmunds
3 76 Pittsburgh Steelers Mason Rudolph
3 92 Pittsburgh Steelers Chukwuma Okorafor
1 9 San Francisco 49ers Mike McGlinchey
2 44 San Francisco 49ers Dante Pettis
3 70 San Francisco 49ers Fred Warner
3 79 Seattle Seahawks Rasheem Green
1 12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vita Vea
2 38 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ronald Jones II
2 63 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Carlton Davis
2 41 Tennessee Titans Harold Landry
3 74 Washington Redskins Geron Christian

Under any analysis, Matt Ryan’s contract sets a new bar

Getty Images

The numbers on the new Matt Ryan contract have made their way to PFT headquarters. And, well, wow.

The full breakdown appears below, followed by some analysis. All numbers come from a source with knowledge of the deal.

1. Signing bonus: $46.5 million.

2. 2018 salary: $6 million, fully guaranteed.

3. 2019 option bonus: $10 million, fully guaranteed.

4. 2019 salary: $11.5 million, fully guaranteed.

5. 2020 salary: $20.5 million, fully guaranteed.

6. 2021 salary: $23 million, $5.5 million of which is guaranteed for injury only at signing. The $5.5 million becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2019 league year.

7. 2022 roster bonus: $7.5 million, due third day of 2022 league year.

8. 2022 salary: $16.25 million.

9. 2023 roster bonus: $7.5 million, due third day of 2023 league year.

10. 2023 salary: $20.5 million.

11. All guarantees have no offset language.

Here’s what it all means.

First, Ryan has a whopping $94.5 million fully guaranteed at signing. The remaining $5.5 million in guarantees for injury only at signing are, as a practical matter, fully guaranteed. Indeed, the only way to avoid the $5.5 million would be to cut Ryan after one year — and to owe him $94.5 million without the opportunity to offset any of the cash to be paid later.

Second, there is no fluff in the deal. No per-game roster bonuses, no workout bonuses, no incentives. It’s “all clean cash,” as the source explained it.

Third, if Ryan had opted to go year to year, he would have made $19.25 million this year, $25.98 million under the franchise tag in 2019, and $31.176 million in 2020. That’s a three-year haul of $76.406 million. Under the new contract, Ryan will make $94.5 million.

Fourth, in the non-guaranteed years, the Falcons will have to decide early whether to move on from Ryan, given the $7.5 million due on the third day of the 2022 and 2023 league years.

Fifth, the new-money value is $30 million per year, which is a record. The full value at signing — six years, $169.25 million — is $28.2 million. (That’s not quite as good as $28.3 million, but in one specific way it’s a lot better.)

So Ryan has set a new bar. And it won’t be easy for the Packers and Aaron Rodgers to overcome it. We’ll explain that in further detail in a separate post.

For now, the point is this: Ryan has gotten a record-setting deal, and he’ll likely be a Falcons for the next six years, and probably beyond.