Tom Coughlin’s return among Week One highlights

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Tom Coughlin’s new team fared a lot better than his old one in 2017 and they’ll get a chance to start plotting their course for 2018 against one another.

The NFL announced the complete regular season schedule on Thursday and it includes a matchup between the Jaguars and Giants at MetLife Stadium on the first Sunday of the year. Coughlin is in his second year as the executive vice president of football operations for the Jaguars and was let go by the Giants in January 2016 after 12 years as head coach.

That game will be one of the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs on September 9. The season will start September 6 when the Falcons visit the Eagles on Thursday night on NBC. The rest of the Week One schedule includes:

Texans at Patriots (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) – The hope is that Deshaun Watson will be making the start for Houston while Tom Brady is leading the Patriots. Anything other than that will make for one of the biggest storylines of Week One.

Buccaneers at Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) – An NFC South matchup that will provide our first look at whether the Buccaneers have rebounded from last season. On the other side, the Saints will be happy with the same standings as last year.

Titans at Dolphins (Sunday, 1 p.m, ET) – Mike Vrabel‘s first game as the Titans head coach and Ryan Tannehill‘s expected return as Dolphins quarterback. New Titans Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis will also get a chance to renew acquaintances with former Patriot teammate and current Dolphins wideout Danny Amendola.

49ers at Vikings (Sunday, 1 p.m., ET) – Given how things played out contractually this offseason, Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins makes for a marquee matchup right out of the gate. It’s also a chance to see how the 49ers have grown as they meet one of 2017’s best teams.

Bills at Ravens (Sunday 1 p.m. ET) – Will this be AJ McCarron‘s coming out party or will a draft pick spoil that plan? Will the Ravens’ new look receiving corps add Dez Bryant before this game?

Steelers at Browns (Sunday 1 p.m. ET) – The quest for the second win of Hue Jackson’s tenure as Browns coach begins against Pittsburgh. Will Le'Veon Bell be celebrating a new contract?

Bengals at Colts (Sunday 1 p.m. ET) – Frank Reich is the new Colts head coach while Marvin Lewis remains the Bengals coach. All eyes will be on Andrew Luck unless the Colts quarterback isn’t back in action.

Chiefs at Chargers (Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET) – The Patrick Mahomes era begins in Los Angeles. Memories of last year’s playoff miss and 0-4 start should have the Chargers doing all they can to break out of the gate quickly.

Redskins at Cardinals (Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET) – Alex Smith and Sam Bradford start the next chapters of their careers in a late afternoon kickoff. The game should also feature Cardinals running back David Johnson‘s first action since Week One of last season.

Cowboys at Panthers (Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET) – Cam Newton‘s first game with Norv Turner calling the offensive plays comes against one of Turner’s former employers. The Panthers won’t have linebacker Thomas Davis for this one as he’ll be serving a four-game suspension to start the year.

Seahawks at Broncos (Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET) – Case Keenum will get first crack at the overhauled Seahawks defense in his first game as the Broncos quarterback. We’ll find out next Thursday if a rookie is looking over his shoulder.

Bears at Packers (Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET) – Bears coach Matt Nagy starts his head coaching career at Lambeau Field in Mike Pettine’s first game running the Green Bay defense. The game should also feature the first look at the Aaron RodgersJimmy Graham partnership.

Jets at Lions (Monday 7:10 p.m. ET) – Matt Patricia faced the Jets many times as the defensive coordinator in New England. He’ll get another shot at them in his first game as Detroit’s head coach.

Rams at Raiders (Monday 10:20 p.m. ET) – Instead of calling a Monday night game, Jon Gruden will be coaching the Raiders in one. Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh will debut for the Rams.

2015 NFL draft fifth-year option decision list

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The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement gives each team the option to pick up the fifth year of each first-round draft pick’s contract, a decision that must be made in the spring before that player’s fourth year.

This is a list of each pick from the first round of the 2015 NFL draft and whether or not those players’ fifth-year options are being picked up:

1. Tampa Bay has picked up Jameis Winston‘s option.

2. Tennessee has picked up Marcus Mariota‘s option.

3. Jacksonville did not pick up Dante Fowler‘s option.

4. Oakland picked up Amari Cooper‘s option.

5. Washington has picked up Brandon Scherff‘s option.

6. The Jets have picked up Leonard Williams‘ option.

7. Chicago didn’t pick up Kevin White‘s option.

8. Atlanta picked up Vic Beasley‘s option.

9. The Giants didn’t pick up Ereck Flowers‘ option.

10. The Rams have picked up Todd Gurley‘s option.

11. The Vikings picked up Trae Waynes‘ option.

12. The Patriots didn’t pick up Danny Shelton‘s option.

13. New Orleans has picked up Andrus Peat‘s option.

14. Miami will pick up DeVante Parker‘s option.

15. The Chargers picked up Melvin Gordon‘s option.

16. Kevin Johnson‘s option was exercised by the Texans.

17. San Francisco has picked up Arik Armstead‘s option.

18. The Rams have picked up Marcus Peters‘ option.

19. Kansas City won’t pick up the option on Cameron Erving, whom they acquired in a trade with the Browns.

20. Philadelphia has picked up Nelson Agholor‘s option.

21. Cincinnati will not pick up Cedric Ogbuehi‘s option.

22. Pittsburgh has picked up Bud Dupree‘s option.

23. Denver will not pick up Shane Ray‘s option.

24. Arizona picked up D.J. Humphries‘ option.

25. Carolina has picked up Shaq Thompson‘s option.

26. Baltimore did not pick up Breshad Perriman‘s option.

27. Dallas picked up Byron Jones‘ option.

28. San Francisco did not pick Laken Tomlinson‘s option.

29. New England did not pick up Phillip Dorsett‘s option.

30. Cleveland picked up Damarious Randall‘s option after trading for him from Green Bay.

31. Miami did not pick up Stephone Anthony‘s option after he didn’t do much following his trade from New Orleans.

32. New England did not pick up Malcom Brown‘s option.

Dear NFL: Go ahead and get rid of the kickoff

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You win, NFL. You’ve been gradually chipping away at the kickoff — dubbed for years now the most dangerous play in the game — with the goal of making it easier for everyone to deal with the elimination of the kickoff when it eventually happens. Perhaps the hope was that the sense of inevitability would grow to the point that the calls for the end of the kickoff would come from the outside.

Regardless, and to quote Schwartz when Flick was hesitating to touch his tongue on the frozen flag pole, “Go on, smartass, and do it.”

Yes, NFL, go ahead and do it. When the owners get together in May, cast 32 votes to eliminate the kickoff for good.

We all know it’s coming. So we can talk about it for the next year or two, while the most dangerous play in the game remains part of the game, or we can just get rid of the damn thing now.

The plan for dealing with the most dangerous play in the game shouldn’t be using it less, it should be using it never. When there’s a dangerous table saw in a machine shop, a responsible foreman doesn’t say, “Use it less.” A responsible foreman says, “Don’t use it at all.”

So do it. Quit talking about it, and do it. Replace with with Greg Sciano’s idea, first floated by Commissioner Goodell in 2012, to give the kicking team the ball at its own 30 yard line, facing fourth and 15. Punt the ball (a far less dangerous play, since players aren’t running directly at each other at full speed before impact), go for it, or run a fake punt.

It’s going to happen sooner or later. Make it happen sooner, so we can all quit wondering when it’s finally going to happen.

NFL wants investigation of “widespread fraud” in concussion settlement

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Amid claims that the NFL unreasonably is delaying the payment of claims in the concussion settlement, the NFL is fighting back. Aggressively.

The league on Friday requested the appointment of a Special Investigator, who would explore allegedly “widespread fraud” in the effort to secure payment.

“We want to ensure that players and their families receive the benefits they deserve,” attorney Brad Karp said in a statement released by the NFL on Friday. “Fraud threatens the integrity of the settlement and the prompt payment of legitimate claims. There is significant evidence of fraudulent claims being advanced by unscrupulous doctors, lawyers and even players. The appointment of a Special Investigator was specifically contemplated in the agreement, and will provide important additional tools to assist the independent, court-appointed administrators in identifying fraudulent claims and related misconduct.”

It’s a strong allegation, suggesting not simply that former players are accidentally under the impression that they have one of the qualifying conditions but that they are deliberately trying to fall within the confines of the concussion settlement — and that others are aiding and abetting the process.

The court papers submitted in connection with the request for a Special Investigator include specific allegations of fraud. The league contends that one law firm representing over 100 former players “coached” them on the procedure for answering questions during neuropsychological evaluations and “directed at least one retired player to show up for his evaluation hungover and on Valium.” The league also claims that a firm representing more than 50 class members secured a higher fee if the former players were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (which results in a higher recovery under the concussion settlement), and that “virtually all” of those players were evaluated by a pediatric neurologist, who diagnosed 75 percent of them with Alzheimer’s.

The league also alleges that evidence exists of specific coaching of former players to help them “beat” the psychological testing in order to secure payment, that one neuropsychologist claimed to have spent, on two different occasions, 130 hours evaluating players in the same 24-hour period, and that 21 medial reports submitted by the same neuropsychologist showed identical vital signs for each of the players.

The paperwork submitted by the NFL further includes allegations of former players directly committing fraud. Consider this quote regarding an unidentified (for now) former player: “A Retired NFL Football Player diagnosed with purported Alzheimer’s Disease in June 2016 at the age of 54 claimed that he had stopped coaching football by the time of his evaluation due to his severe cognitive impairment. Yet, subsequent to his evaluation, the same retired player participated in multiple videotaped interviews in which he discussed — without any apparent difficulty — his current head  coaching duties, and as recently as October 2017, was interviewed by reporters about his ongoing role as a head football coach.” (There may be enough clues in there for a person with advanced Google skills to figure out who the former player may be.)

Here’s another: “A Retired NFL Football Player diagnosed with purported Alzheimer’s Disease in July 2015 at the age of 39 claimed to have significant cognitive impairments that made him incapable of even doing errands without assistance. Yet, information available from public sources shows that the same retired player is the head coach of a minor league football team, a developmental football coach and a motivational speaker. When that player submitted a form to the Claims Administrator asking for his employment history subsequent to his diagnosis, he concealed his coaching position.”

And another: “A Retired NFL Football Player diagnosed with purported Level 2 Neurocognitive Impairment (i.e., moderate dementia) in December 2016 at the age of 32 reported that he was unemployed, had significant issues with memory and completing tasks and frequently would go into a room and forget why he was there. That retired player concealed that he was working as a registered wealth manager for a large investment firm.”

And another: “A Retired NFL Football Player diagnosed with purported Level 2 Neurocognitive Impairment (i.e., moderate dementia) in January 2017 at the age of 32 claimed that he was unable to work in any capacity due to his cognitive impairment. Videos available online show that same player giving lengthy and fully coherent motivational speeches, often without the assistance of notes, on numerous occasions subsequent to the supposed diagnosis.”

The 20-page submission from the NFL, undoubtedly directed to the court of public opinion as much as it is to the court presiding over the settlement, paints a troubling picture of alleged fraud, countering the argument that the NFL, faced with unlimited potential liability, is dragging its feet and contesting claims under the notion that every single penny saved becomes a penny earned. Whether it’s the NFL unfairly opposing claims or specific former players (and/or those who stand to make money from them) unfairly trying to get a piece of a pie that will be as big as it needs to be, these problems needs to be fully explored and resolved. Whether it’s the NFL’s fault, specific former players’ fault, or both, this complication delays the efforts of truly eligible former players to get the money they deserve.

Can NFL teams make hiring and firing decisions based on anthem protests?

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Given the recent uptick in news regarding the anthem controversy, it’s time to address some of the fundamental questions relating to the situation.

The goal of this article is to take a fairly complicated and polarizing societal question and analyze it, objectively and thoroughly, from the perspective of labor and employment law. (For those wondering why they’d be inclined to read a legal analysis from some Internet hack who writes about football, that’s a very fair question. I practiced law for 18 years, specializing over the final 14 or so in matters of labor and employment law, both from the employer’s perspective and from the employee’s perspective.)

The first challenge for anyone considering this issue as a matter of labor and employment is far easier said than done: You need to set aside whatever your personal beliefs may be regarding NFL players protesting during the national anthem. Whether you like it, whether you hate it, or whether you land somewhere in between, if you forget your own feelings on the issue, you’ll be able to better understand the legal issues relevant to the situation.

Along these same lines, you need to forget about the question of whether anthem protests are “bad for business.” (Some presume that the protests have hurt the NFL’s business; the evidence, however, is inconclusive. Yes, TV ratings are down, but not as far down as TV ratings generally. Also, revenues — and in turn the salary cap — continue to rise. For the fifth straight year, the salary cap has increased by more than $10 million per team.)

Actually, let’s assume that the NFL’s teams subjectively have concluded that anthem protests are indeed “bad for business,” inconclusive evidence of a negative impact notwithstanding. If that’s the case, the question becomes whether the NFL can make hiring and firing decisions based on anthem protests that are determined to be “bad for business” under the principles that apply to the employment relationship between NFL teams and NFL players.

For any issue arising under the relationship between NFL teams and NFL players, the question begins with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association says nothing about the national anthem. The rule regarding the anthem appears in the NFL’s game operations manual, which provides in pertinent part as follows: “The national anthem must be played before every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the national anthem. During the national anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.”

This rule, adopted in 2009 as part of the league’s decision to move the players from the locker room to the sideline during the national anthem, was drafted by the NFL. By using “must” in connection with the playing of the anthem and the players’ presence on the sideline but the non-mandatory term “should” when referring to standing during the anthem, the NFL created a loophole in the policy, making it different from the NBA rule that mandates standing: Players must be on the sideline for the anthem, and players should (not must) stand.

When the anthem controversy first emerged in August 2016, the NFL could have quickly revised the language of the rule, or the NFL could have taken the position that “should” as a practical matter means “must” within the broader context of the rule. After all, the league has brought them out of the locker room not to protest during the playing of the national anthem but to be props in the broader effort to wrap The Shield (which looks a lot like the flag) in the flag.

The fact that the rule didn’t appear in the CBA (which is the product of comprehensive collective bargaining between the NFL and NFL Players Association regarding the terms of employment) most likely would have given the league the ability to unilaterally change the rule. In other words, the league possibly could have simply changed the rule on the spot, without talking to or bargaining with the union.

But that’s not what the league did. The NFL’s first comment on the matter was this: “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.”

That was the moment the NFL confirmed that players have permission to sit, kneel, whatever during the anthem. And that was the moment that it became inappropriate to make hiring and firing decisions based on whether a player chooses to exercise the league-given right to not stand. After all, what good is any right in employment if exercising that right will get you fired?

When the anthem controversy reached new heights in September 2017, fueled by an attack on the NFL and protesting players by the President, the league did not change the rule. Instead, the league reiterated the fact that players have the right to protest, if they choose to do so.

“During this past season, we received assurances from both Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the Management Council, John Mara, that the right of players to demonstrate would be protected,” the union said in a statement issued last month, after Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said that he would prohibit kneeling (and then backtracked). “We are glad that both the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins have clarified their positions to be consistent with what was confirmed with our union leadership, and we expect all other NFL teams to maintain the same commitment to protecting those rights.” (The NFL has at no time disputed the notion that Goodell and Mara provided assurances that the right of players to demonstrate would be protected.)

This is the most important point to keep in mind when addressing whether the NFL may make hiring and firing decisions based on a player’s inclination to participate in anthem protests: The NFL created the right to protest in 2009, the NFL confirmed the right to protest in 2016 and the NFL reiterated the right to protest in 2017.

Protecting the rights of a player to protest means so much more than allowing players who are currently employed by a team to protest. It also includes prohibiting activities that would tend to discourage a player from exercising his right to protest. Cutting a player for protesting is the most obvious contradiction of a player’s right to protest. Not hiring a player who intends to protest is no different than that.

These realities remain true even under the assumption that anthem protests are bad for business. If anthem protests are truly bad for business, the league knew or should have known that anthem protests would be bad for business in August 2016, when the NFL confirmed that players have the right to not stand during the anthem. And if at some point after confirming in August 2016 that players have a right protest the league realized that it’s bad for business and something should be done about it, the NFL should have changed its rule.

That’s where traditional principles of labor law becomes relevant to the situation. Although the league may have been able to unilaterally change the anthem policy in the early days of the controversy, the league’s express confirmation of the players’ right to protest in August 2016, the reiteration of that endorsement in 2017, and the magnitude of the issue arguably has transformed this specific term of employment into what the law regards as a mandatory subject of bargaining. This means that, if the policy has morphed into a mandatory subject of bargaining, the league can’t change the policy without engaging in the traditional back-and-forth and give-and-take with the union.

The NFL and NFLPA undoubtedly would disagree on whether changing the anthem policy requires bargaining. The NFL and the NFLPA also would likely disagree on whether hiring and firing decisions can be made based on whether a player has exercised or has stated an intention to exercise his league-given right to protest. At some point, that issue may be hashed out in a legal proceeding.

The league has declined in the past to comment on whether players can be disciplined by individual teams for declining to stand, brushing such questions off as “hypothetical.” Amid mounting examples of teams asking prospective employees questions about their plans to protest, the NFL tells PFT that its teams are allowed to pose such questions.

The NFLPA declined comment on question prospective employees can be asked about kneeling during the anthem. However, a source with knowledge of the union’s analysis of these issues tells PFT that the union believes such questions cannot be posed to players.

The argument against asking those questions is simple. Since the league has given, confirmed, and reiterated the right to protest during the national anthem, players should not be penalized for exercising or stating an intent to exercise those rights. Questions aimed at determining whether a player would exercise those rights therefore become evidence of an intention to make employment decisions based on whether a player will exercise a right that the NFL has given to all players.

For example, employees have a right to complain about unsafe working conditions to the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration. This means that hiring or firing decisions can’t be made based on past OSHA complaints or a propensity/intention to make future OSHA complaints. This also means that, during a job interview, the owner of the business can’t ask, “If you see an unsafe working condition, will you promise not to file a safety complaint with OSHA?” It also means that, on the eve of a job interview, an employee can’t be asked, “Will you commit to never exercising your right to make a safety complaint with OSHA? Before answering, please be aware that if you won’t make this commitment, you won’t be interviewed.”)

Yes, there’s a HUGE difference between employees making a complaint about workplace safety and football players protesting during the national anthem. But here’s the common thread: The federal government gave American workers the right to make safety complaints with OSHA, and the NFL gave players the right to protest during the national anthem.

This entire issue exists because the NFL deliberately or accidentally used “should” instead of “must” when writing the anthem policy nearly a decade ago, because the league confirmed that standing isn’t mandatory in August 2016 after Kaepernick was spotted sitting during the anthem, and because the league reiterated to the NFLPA in 2017 that players have the right to protest.

The right to protest given, confirmed, and reiterated by the NFL becomes hollow and meaningless if teams can cut or not sign players who have protested or who will potentially protest in the future. Posing questions to players about their intention to protest becomes direct evidence of an intent to discriminate against players based on the exercise of a right given by the NFL, confirmed by the NFL, and reiterated by the NFL.

Basically, allowing teams to hire and fire based on whether a player has protested or will protest represents a de facto revision to the anthem policy, making standing mandatory without actually changing the key word in the policy from “should” to “must.” That amounts to an effort to skirt the question of whether bargaining with the union must occur before the anthem policy is changed. And that’s likely why the NFL, realizing that it’s too late to unilaterally change the policy, has decided to look the other way as owners and teams brazenly use a player’s willingness to exercise a right given, confirmed, and created by the NFL against that player.

If it truly is “bad for business” when players kneel during the anthem, it was horrendous for business when the NFL created the right to protest during the anthem in 2009, when the NFL confirmed the right to protest during the anthem in August 2016, and when the NFL reiterated the right to protest during the anthem in 2017. That’s why the questions posed to Eric Reid by the Bengals and the ultimatum given to Colin Kaepernick by the Seahawks are more than simply a P.R. problem. They are a legal problem, one that eventually could spark separate grievance proceedings against the league.

Regardless of whether it’s “bad for business” when players protest during the anthem, the NFL gave them that right, the NFL confirmed that right, and the NFL has reiterated the confirmation of that right. Making employment decisions based on the exercise of that right makes that right meaningless, which makes it flat-out wrong to consider past protests or plans to protest in the future when deciding whether to sign a player.

2018 NFL preseason schedule

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This is the full 2018 preseason schedule, announced by the NFL today.


Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens (NBC)


Los Angeles Chargers vs. Arizona Cardinals

Los Angeles Rams vs. Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers vs. Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Minnesota Vikings vs. Denver Broncos

Tennessee Titans vs. Green Bay Packers

New Orleans Saints vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Miami Dolphins

Washington Redskins vs. New England Patriots

Cleveland Browns vs. New York Giants

Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets

Detroit Lions vs. Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers

Indianapolis Colts vs. Seattle Seahawks

WEEK 2: AUGUST 16-20

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Atlanta Falcons

Miami Dolphins vs. Carolina Panthers

Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Dallas Cowboys

Chicago Bears vs. Denver Broncos

New York Giants vs.Detroit Lions

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers

San Francisco 49ers vs. Houston Texans

Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts (ESPN, Aug. 20)

Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Oakland Raiders vs. Los Angeles Rams

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Minnesota Vikings

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots

Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Tennessee Titans

New York Jets vs. Washington Redskins (ESPN, Aug. 16)

WEEK 3: AUGUST 23-26

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills (FOX, Aug. 26)

New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Chicago Bears

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns (FOX, Aug. 23)

Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys (NBC, Aug. 26)

San Francisco 49ers vs. Indianapolis Colts

Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Chargers (CBS, Aug. 25)

Houston Texans vs. Los Angeles Rams

Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins

Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants vs. New York Jets

Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders

Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (CBS, Aug. 24)

Denver Broncos vs. Washington Redskins

WEEK 4: AUGUST 30-31

Denver Broncos vs. Arizona Cardinals

Miami Dolphins vs. Atlanta Falcons

Washington Redskins vs. Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills vs. Chicago Bears

Indianapolis Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns vs. Detroit Lions

Dallas Cowboys vs. Houston Texans

Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints

New England Patriots vs. New York Giants

New York Jets vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Carolina Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Los Angeles Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers

Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Minnesota Vikings vs. Tennessee Titans

2018 NFL Draft: Full selection order, Picks 1-256 (updated)

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It’s been just over a month since the last time we posted the full NFL Draft order. Since then the NFL has made a number of trades that have resulted in 47 different draft choices changing hands.

With that in mind, here is the updated order with just over three weeks until the draft gets underway at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Picks are listed in a (round – pick in round – overall) pick format:

ROUND 1 (as of 4/5/18)

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


2- 1-33 Cleveland
2- 2-34 New York Giants
2- 3-35 Cleveland from Houston
2- 4-36 Indianapolis
2- 5-37 Indianapolis from New York Jets
2- 6-38 Tampa Bay
2- 7-39 Chicago
2- 8-40 Denver
2- 9-41 Oakland
2-10-42 Miami
2-11-43 New England from San Francisco
2-12-44 Washington
2-13-45 Green Bay
2-14-46 Cincinnati
2-15-47 Arizona
2-16-48 Los Angeles Chargers
2-17-49 Indianapolis from Seattle through New York Jets
2-18-50 Dallas
2-19-51 Detroit
2-20-52 Baltimore
2-21-53 Buffalo
2-22-54 Kansas City
2-23-55 Carolina
2-24-56 Buffalo from Los Angeles Rams
2-25-57 Tennessee
2-26-58 Atlanta
2-27-59 San Francisco from New Orleans
2-28-60 Pittsburgh
2-29-61 Jacksonville
2-30-62 Minnesota
2-31-63 New England
2-32-64 Cleveland from Philadelphia


3- 1-65 Buffalo from Cleveland
3- 2-66 New York Giants
3- 3-67 Indianapolis
3- 4-68 Houston
3- 5-69 New York Giants from Tampa Bay
3- 6-70 San Francisco from Chicago
3- 7-71 Denver
3- 8-72 New York Jets
3- 9-73 Miami
3-10-74 San Francisco
3-11-75 Oakland
3-12-76 Green Bay
3-13-77 Cincinnati
3-14-78 Kansas City from Washington
3-15-79 Arizona
3-16-80 Houston from Seattle
3-17-81 Dallas
3-18-82 Detroit
3-19-83 Baltimore
3-20-84 Los Angeles Chargers
3-21-85 Carolina from Buffalo
3-22-86 Kansas City
3-23-87 Los Angeles Rams
3-24-88 Carolina
3-25-89 Tennessee
3-26-90 Atlanta
3-27-91 New Orleans
3-28-92 Pittsburgh
3-29-93 Jacksonville
3-30-94 Minnesota
3-31-95 New England
3-32-96 Buffalo from Philadelphia
3-33-97 Arizona (Compensatory Selection)
3-34-98 Houston (Compensatory Selection)
3-35-99 Denver (Compensatory Selection)
3-36-100 Cincinnati (Compensatory Selection)


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


5- 1-138 Green Bay from Cleveland
5- 2-139 New York Giants
5- 3-140 Indianapolis
5- 4-141 Seattle from Houston
5- 5-142 Washington from Denver
5- 6-143 San Francisco from New York Jets
5- 7-144 Tampa Bay
5- 8-145 Chicago
5- 9-146 Seattle from Oakland
5-10-147 New Orleans from Miami
5-11-148 Pittsburgh from San Francisco
5-12-149 Denver from Washington
5-13-150 Cleveland from Green Bay
5-14-151 Cincinnati
5-15-152 Arizona
5-16-153 Detroit
5-17-154 Baltimore
5-18-155 Los Angeles Chargers
5-19-156 Seattle reacquired from Philadelphia
5-20-157 New York Jets from Dallas
5-21-158 Cincinnati from Buffalo
5-22-159 Oakland from Kansas City through Cleveland and New England
5-23-160 Denver from Los Angeles Rams
5-24-161 Carolina
5-25-162 Tennessee
5-26-163 Washington from Atlanta through Denver
5-27-164 New Orleans
5-28-165 Pittsburgh
5-29-166 Buffalo from Jacksonville
5-30-167 Minnesota
5-31-168 Seattle from New England
5-32-169 Philadelphia
5-33-170 Cincinnati (Compensatory Selection)
5-34-171 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)
5-35-172 Green Bay (Compensatory Selection)
5-36-173 Oakland from Dallas (Compensatory Selection)
5-37-174 Green Bay (Compensatory Selection)


6- 1-175 Cleveland
6- 2-176 Los Angeles Rams from New York Giants
6- 3-177 Houston
6- 4-178 Indianapolis
6- 5-179 New York Jets
6- 6-180 Tampa Bay
6- 7-181 Chicago
6- 8-182 Arizona from Denver
6- 9-183 Los Angeles Rams from Miami
6-10-184 San Francisco
6-11-185 Oakland
6-12-186 Green Bay
6-13-187 Buffalo from Cincinnati
6-14-188 Washington
6-15-189 New Orleans from Arizona
6-16-190 Baltimore
6-17-191 Los Angeles Chargers
6-18-192 Dallas from Seattle through Oakland
6-19-193 Dallas
6-20-194 Los Angeles Rams from Detroit
6-21-195 Los Angeles Rams from Buffalo
6-22-196 Kansas City
6-23-197 Carolina
6-24-198 New England from Los Angeles Rams
6-25-199 Tennessee
6-26-200 Atlanta
6-27-201 New Orleans
6-28-202 Tampa Bay from Pittsburgh through Cleveland and Pittsburgh
6-29-203 Jacksonville
6-30-204 Minnesota
6-31-205 Cleveland from New England
6-32-206 Philadelphia
6-33-207 Green Bay (Compensatory Selection)
6-34-208 Dallas (Compensatory Selection)
6-35-209 Miami from Kansas City through Los Angeles Rams (Compensatory Selection)
6-36-210 New England from Oakland (Compensatory Selection)
6-37-211 Houston (Compensatory Selection)
6-38-212 Oakland (Compensatory Selection)
6-39-213 Minnesota (Compensatory Selection)
6-40-214 Houston (Compensatory Selection)
6-41-215 Baltimore (Compensatory Selection)
6-42-216 Oakland (Compensatory Selection)
6-43-217 Oakland (Compensatory Selection)
6-44-218 Minnesota (Compensatory Selection)


7- 1-219 New England from Cleveland
7- 2-220 Pittsburgh from New York Giants
7- 3-221 Indianapolis
7- 4-222 Houston
7- 5-223 San Francisco from Tampa Bay through Miami
7- 6-224 Chicago
7- 7-225 Minnesota from Denver
7- 8-226 Seattle from New York Jets
7- 9-227 Miami from San Francisco
7-10-228 Oakland
7-11-229 Miami
7-12-230 Jacksonville from Cincinnati
7-13-231 Washington
7-14-232 Green Bay
7-15-233 Kansas City from Arizona
7-16-234 Carolina from Los Angeles Chargers through Buffalo
7-17-235 New York Jets from Seattle
7-18-236 Dallas
7-19-237 Detroit
7-20-238 Baltimore
7-21-239 Green Bay from Buffalo
7-22-240 San Francisco from Kansas City
7-23-241 Washington from Los Angeles Rams
7-24-242 Carolina
7-25-243 Kansas City from Tennessee
7-26-244 Atlanta
7-27-245 New Orleans
7-28-246 Pittsburgh
7-29-247 Jacksonville
7-30-248 Seattle from Minnesota
7-31-249 Cincinnati from New England
7-32-250 Philadelphia reacquired from Seattle through New England and Seattle
7-33-251 Los Angeles Chargers (Compensatory Selection)
7-34-252 Cincinnati (Compensatory Selection)
7-35-253 Cincinnati (Compensatory Selection)
7-36-254 Arizona (Compensatory Selection)
7-37-255 Tampa Bay (Compensatory Selection)
7-38-256 Atlanta (Compensatory Selection)

22 players will attend the draft

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Baker Mayfield won’t be at the draft. Twenty-two other players will be.

The NFL has announced the list of players who will attend the festivities, which begin three weeks from tonight in Arlington, Texas. Here’s the full list: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville; Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming; Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State; Taven Bryan, DT, Florida; Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State; Sam Darnold, QB, USC; Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA; Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech; Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama; Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama; Shaquem Griffin, LB, Central Florida; Derrius Guice, RB, LSU; Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa; Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville; Derwin James, S, Florida State; Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA; Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA; Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia; Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State; Vita Vea, DT, Washington; Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State; Connor Williams, OT, Texas.

Four of the top quarterbacks will be there, along with running back Saquon Barkley and defensive end Bradley Chubb. Guard Quenton Nelson, regarded by many as a top-10 pick, doesn’t appear on the list.

Linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who wasn’t even invited (at first) to the Scouting Combine, will be attending the draft. It’s unclear, however, how long he’ll be waiting in the green room.

The first round unfolds on Thursday, with rounds two and three on Friday and the rest of the draft on Saturday.

Full offseason schedules released for all 32 teams

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The Bears and Cardinals will be the first two teams to open offseason programs on Tuesday, but all 32 teams will be underway over the next few weeks as the offseason calendar moves on.

All teams will have two weeks of strength and conditioning work to kick things off before a second phase of work that involves on-field activities. That phase features “individual player instruction and drills,” but no offense vs. defense drills. That is allowed during a third phase made up of 10 organized team activities, although no contact is allowed during those practice sessions.

All teams will also have a three-day mandatory minicamp and teams with new head coaches are also permitted to hold a voluntary three-day minicamp. The NFL announced the dates for all phases of work on Monday and they can be found below.


First Day: April 3

OTAs: May 15-17, May 22-24, June 4-5, June 7-8

Voluntary Minicamp: April 17-19

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 21, May 23-24, May 30-31, June 1, June 4-5, June 7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 21-22, May 24, May 29, May 31, June 1, June 4-5, June 7-8

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-5, June 7-8

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 3

Voluntary Minicamp: April 17-19

OTAs: May 15-17, May 22-24, May 29-31, June 1

Mandatory Minicamp: June 5-7


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-6

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 9

OTAs: May 21-22, May 24, May 30-31, June 11-12, June 14

Voluntary Minicamp: April 24-26

Mandatory Minicamp: June 5-7


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 21-23, May 30-31, June 1, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 21-22, May 24, May 29-31, June 4-5, June 7-8

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 9

OTAs: May 22-24, May 30-31, June 1, June 4-7

Voluntary Minicamp: April 24-26

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22, May 24-25, May 29, May 31, June 1, June 4-5, June 7-8

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 5-8

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 21-22, May 24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 11-14

Mandatory Minicamp: June 5-7


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 21-22, May 24, May 30-31, June 11-12, June 14-15

Mandatory Minicamp: June 5-7


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 9

Voluntary Minicamp: April 24-26

OTAs: May 21-22, May 24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 9

Voluntary Minicamp: April 24-26

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29, May 31, June 1, June 4-5, June 7-8

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 21-22, May 24, May 29-30, June 1, June 4-5, June 7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 21-22, May 24, May 29-30, June 1, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14


First Day: April 9

Voluntary Minicamp: April 24-26

OTAs: May 21-22, May 24, May 29-30, June 1, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14​


First Day: April 16

OTAs: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14

America wants safer football, but will fans support the NFL’s changes?

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America is concerned about the safety of its most popular sport. Public opinion polls show that parents are increasingly squeamish about their children playing football, and that large swathes of the country think that whatever enjoyment comes from the game isn’t worth the damage that it does to players’ brains.

At the same time, football fans are increasingly frustrated by what they see as the NFL watering down the sport they love. That’s been easy to see this week, after the NFL passed its new rule banning lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet. On social media, fans are outraged that the league would make what it calls a “significant” change to the sport. Even NFL players, the very people whose brains the NFL is trying to protect with this new rule, have largely reacted negatively.

That points to what may be the biggest conflict facing the NFL right now: Is it even possible to make football safer while still remaining the sport of football that America knows and loves?

There’s a reason that NFL Films used to produce videos with titles like “Crunch Course,” celebrating the most brutal hits on the field. There’s a reason ESPN used to do a “Jacked Up!” segment showing players getting knocked senseless. That reason is that a lot of fans love those hits. The NFL stopped celebrating hits like that because the league thought it would be harder to defend against concussion litigation while simultaneously celebrating the violence on the field, not because there wasn’t a market for those videos.

Perhaps the leadership on making football safer needs to come from the bottom, not the top. Maybe rules changes like this new rule against lowering the head need to start at the Pop Warner level, then filter up to high school and college and only reach the NFL when all of the league’s players grew up playing football that way — and when the fans show they’re ready for it.

The situation with football is not unlike martial arts. When you sign your kids up for martial arts, you want them going to a karate school where they learn the techniques without ever getting hit in the face. But when you watch martial arts on TV, you want a UFC fight where two jacked dudes throw haymakers at each other until one of them gets knocked out.

If the NFL isn’t careful, this new rule against lowering the head could be the perfect marketing ploy for a rival league, such as the Alliance of American Football, which plans to begin play in 2019, or the second coming of the XFL, which plans to start in 2020. A rival league could say that it still plays football the way football was meant to be played, while the NFL has fundamentally changed the game.

A fundamental change to the game is something millions of Americans want to see at the youth level — and millions of Americans don’t want to see at the professional level.

Nine former players volunteer for CTE study in living patients

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An Arizona study looking for players to submit to a study that will detect Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy in living patients has found nine, so far. They’re looking for 191 more.

Former Pro Bowl tight end Steve Jordan and eight others provided blood, saliva, and urine samples on Wednesday. They also competed a 140-question form.

“If we can detect CTE in living patients, that’s going to be a huge win,” Jordan said, via Kent Somers of

The goal is to get 200 volunteers, none of whom will be paid for participating. The goal is to identify CTE biomarkers in bodily fluids, allowing the condition to be diagnosed without examining brain tissue.

Jordan, whose son, Cameron, plays for the Steelers, hopes that increased information will help the game become safer.

“You go to these meetings with former players, and the hope is we’ll be able to do something that will make it better for future players and our own kids,” Jordan said. “Most of us who are former players, we have kids who play or have played youth sports.”

The league surely fears that the ability to identify CTE in living players will be the tipping point that causes NFL, college, and high school players to abandon the sport. Which likely helps explain this week’s stunning decision to ban from the game the lowering of the helmet to initiate contact in any and all circumstances.

What’s the best fit for OBJ, if/when he’s traded?

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With the Giants reportedly applying a price tag to a potential Odell Beckham trade and with Beckham reportedly interested in being traded (to the Rams, maybe elsewhere), momentum continues to build toward a deal being done.

So if a deal is done, which team would be the best team to make that deal?

Chris Simms and yours truly discussed the subject during Thursday’s PFT Live, with a three-round draft aimed at finding the right fit. The results show that I made the right choices, and that Simms, while making an admirable effort, was way, way off.

Check out the video, and drop your own thoughts in the comments.

No one knows how strictly the NFL will enforce the new helmet rule

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The NFL banned lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet on Tuesday, a surprising rule change that came with no advance notice to the public and resulted in fans everywhere wondering what, exactly, the new rule means.

In fact, no one seems to know for sure: Unlike the new catch rule, which the NFL rolled out with a great deal of discussion and specific examples of plays that will be officiated differently going forward, the new helmet rule was announced without anyone outside the NFL knowing it was coming.

Which means that we have no idea just how big a change this is. Under the broadest possible interpretation, “Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet” would seem to happen on virtually every play: What is a lineman doing when he comes out of a three-point stance? What is a quarterback doing when he lunges forward on a quarterback sneak? What are a running back and a linebacker doing when they collide in the open field? Those things could all be interpreted as lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet. If the NFL is going to tell the officials to flag this new penalty under the strictest interpretation possible, then the sport we’re going to see in 2018 will barely resemble the sport of football we’ve been watching our entire lives.

On the other hand, this might turn out to be like the rule change from 2013, when the league put restrictions on ball carriers lowering the crowns of their helmets into tacklers. At the time the rule passed, there were warnings that the sport of football would never be the same. (Just read PFT’s comments that day.) As it turned out, the rule barely registered because it was so rarely enforced: The league told the officials only to flag the most flagrant, obvious examples of players using their helmets as weapons.

So will the league similarly instruct the officials on this new rule? Or is this a change that could result in several 15-yard penalties every game, and players dramatically changing the way they run, block and tackle to avoid getting penalized? Right now, we just don’t know. We may not know until the season starts.

Owners to vote on 10 rule changes, 12 bylaw changes, 5 resolution changes

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The league is considering a number of significant (and some not particularly significant) changes at next week’s owners’ meeting.

Among the changes are 10 new playing rules, 12 new bylaws and five new resolutions. Those are detailed below:

2018 Playing Rules Proposals Summary
1. By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the playing rule that changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line.

2. By Competition Committee; Changes standard for a catch.

3. By Competition Committee; Makes the penalties for Illegal Batting & Kicking the same.

4. By Los Angeles Chargers; Amends Rule 15, Section 2, Article 5 to add fouls for roughing the passer and fouls against players in a defenseless posture as reviewable plays in the instant replay system.

5. By Washington; Amends Rule 15, Section 2, Article 5 to add review of personal fouls as reviewable plays in the instant replay system.

6. By New York Jets; Amends Rule 8, Section 5, Articles 1-4 to change the enforcement for defensive pass interference.

7 By Competition Committee; Authorizes the designated member of the Officiating department to instruct on-field game officials to disqualify a player for a flagrant nonfootball act when a foul for that act is called on the field.

8. By Competition Committee; Conforms the amount of time in which a team must challenge a play if there is a television commercial break following the play in question.

9. By Competition Committee; Eliminates the requirement that a team who scores a winning touchdown at the end of regulation of a game to kick the extra point or go for two-point conversion.

10. By Competition Committee; If there is a turnover, a team may win an overtime game, even though it scores on its second possession.

2018 Bylaw Proposals Summary
1. By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the liberalization of rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club’s facility.

2. By Buffalo; For one year only, amends Article XVII, Section 17.4 to liberalize the rule for reacquisition of a player assigned via waivers.

3. By Buffalo; For one year only, amends Article XVII, Section 17.6 to liberalize the
procedures for players placed on Reserve/Retired.

4. By Denver; Amends Article XVII, Section 17.16 to permit clubs to trade players from Reserve/Injured.

5. By Miami; Amends Article XVII, Section 17.1 to remove the requirement that a non-vested player be placed on waivers to be removed from the 90-player roster prior to the roster reduction to 53 players.

6. By Minnesota; Amends Article XVIII, Section 18.1 to replace the 10-day postseason claiming period with a 24-hour period.

7. By San Francisco, Arizona, and Los Angeles Chargers; Reduces the competitive equity that exists between teams who have morning body clock start times on long road trips.

8. By Competition Committee; Permits coaches to review video displayed on League-issued tablets on the sidelines and in the coaches’ booth.

9. By Competition Committee; A player who is designated for return is eligible to be activated after eight games, not eight weeks.

10. By Competition Committee; Lengthens the period to execute an Injury Settlement from five business days to seven business days.

11. By Competition Committee; Changes the deadline to reinstate players from certain Reserve List categories.

12. By Competition Committee; Updates Reserve/Military List procedures to reflect the current League calendar.

2018 Resolution Proposal Summary
G-1. By Washington; Allows opposing teams to receive the League’s postgame responses to any officiating inquiries submitted by either team.

G-2. By San Francisco; Requires all NFL stadiums by 2021 to have three separate and permanent locker rooms to be exclusively designated for female football staff on game days as follows: game officials, home club staff members, and visiting club staff members.

G-4. By Competition Committee; Permits a club to negotiate and sign a head coach candidate during the postseason prior to the conclusion of the employer club’s season.

G-5. By Competition Committee; For one year only, permits an interested club to contact a Vested Veteran before clubs have been notified of the player’s termination via the Player Personnel Notice if (i) the players is not subject to the Waivers System and, (ii) the employer club has publicly announced the player’s release.

The biggest problems with Richard Sherman’s self-representation


On Tuesday, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman defended his decision to negotiate his own contract. Along the way, he called out one of the biggest critics of his self-negotiated deal. (And, yes, said critic is a certain Internet hack with whom you may be familiar.)

“The thing I’m most frustrated about is all the people that were so high on bashing this deal refuse to bash the agents that do awful deals every year,” Sherman told reporters at his introductory press conference. “There are agents out there that are doing $3 million fully guaranteed deals that look like $50 million deals. When the guy gets cut after two weeks or after a year, and the guy only makes $5 million of a $50 million contract, nobody sits there and bashes the agent. You don’t hear Florio writing any articles about it. The kid from Philly, Bradham or something, took one year, $6 million deal but to everybody else is a $40 million deal. There’s nobody to bash it, because nobody’s even paying attention to most of these agents and their deals. So I think this was just one of those things where the agents feel uncomfortable with a player taking the initiative to do his own deal. Obviously it puts a fire under them. It makes them more accountable for their actions, because more players will do this.”

Sherman apparently assumes, as do many, that I’ve criticized his skills as a negotiator because I’m trying to help the agents. And he’s right. I am trying to help the agents. I’m trying to help the agents because I’m trying to help the players.

The player-agent relationship isn’t a win-lose proposition. A good agent can get more money for a player than a player can get for himself. So every player should have a good agent who can and will do just that.

But Sherman already has boasted that no agent could have gotten a better deal than Sherman negotiated for himself. Of course Richard Sherman would say that; would we expect anything else from one of the most confident personalities the NFL has ever seen?

Regardless of his confidence in his skills, he’s just flat wrong. There’s one key term in his contract that no competent agent would have ever agreed to, and any agent that ever did agree to it should be immediately disciplined by the NFL Players Association.

The term relates to the guaranteed money beyond his $3 million signing bonus. If Sherman makes it to the Pro Bowl this year, his contract doesn’t void for 2019 (which is what a good agent would have sought). Instead, Sherman triggers upon making it to the Pro Bowl an $8 million injury guarantee that vests in March 2019. As of April 1, 2019, the injury guarantee becomes a full guarantee.

Let’s focus on that for a minute. The $8 million injury guarantee doesn’t vest the moment he makes it to the Pro Bowl. The $8 million injury guarantee vests on the third day of the next league year, in March.

Here’s what this means. If Sherman qualifies for the Pro Bowl before the end of the 2018 regular season, and if the 49ers make it to the postseason, he’ll play one or more playoff games (and engage in multiple practices) with no injury protection at all. So if he ruptures an Achilles tendon or tears an ACL in January or otherwise suffers a serious injury in January, the 49ers can do exactly what the Seahawks did to Sherman earlier this month: Cut Sherman without consequence.

Instead of vesting immediately, the injury guarantee vests in the middle of March, and the salary then becomes fully guaranteed on April 1. However, any injury guarantee vesting in the middle of March and converting to a full guarantee on April 1 is meaningless; from the middle of March until April 1, there’s no football game or practice or offseason workout session that could result in an injury to Sherman.

That’s where the 49ers hoodwinked Sherman. Instead of simply saying, “Your salary for 2019 will be fully guaranteed on April 1 if you make it to the Pro Bowl” (which may have prompted Sherman to ask for the injury guarantee to vest in December), they inserted a hollow injury guarantee that becomes triggered at a time when there’s no way to suffer a football-related injury, leaving him unprotected for the balance of the 2018 regular season and postseason.

Why should anyone care about this? (Peter King recently characterized the “outcry” over Sherman’s self-negotiated contract as “weird.”) If Sherman representing himself were an isolated occurrence, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But Sherman and Chargers left tackle Russell Okung, both of whom are members of the NFLPA Executive Committee, have embarked on a crusade to get more and more players to negotiate their own contracts, apparently because they believe that agents — officially dubbed Certified Contract Advisors by the NFLPA — should be providing a much wider array of services in exchange for the fee that they earn by (wait for it) advising players regarding their contracts, and by actively negotiating them.

Believe this: NFL owners cannot wait for the moment when agents are rendered irrelevant. Owners already have slick, charismatic, skillful negotiators, who justify their salaries in part by keeping players from getting as much as they can. With no agents, players negotiating their own deals will have the bad deals negotiated by other players crammed down their throats, with teams eventually having a full roster of players at bargain-basement price.

What about the salary cap,  you ask? Won’t that ensure players get theirs with or without agents? Far more important than the cap is the floor. With an 11-percent spread available, owners will have an easier time getting the players they want for 89 cents on the dollar, with the other 11 cents becoming raw profit.

Consider the current gap between the maximum and minimum spending levels. At a salary cap of $178 million per team, $19.58 million need not be spent, per team. With 32 teams in the league, that’s $626.56 million per year potentially robbed from the rich and given to the richer.

This doesn’t mean every team will spend the bare minimum if players represent themselves. But the total expenditures will be far closer to the minimum than the maximum if the players don’t have skilled agents getting each of them the most money possible, as part of the collective effort to force as many owners as possible to spend not to the floor, but to the cap.