Dolphins roll out new throwbacks for 2019

@MiamiDolphins

Plenty of teams have throwback or alternate uniforms that look as good if not slightly better than their standard uniforms. The Dolphins have a throwback uniform that looks dramatically better than the usual getup.

The Dolphins have unveiled the throwbacks they’ll wear for their Week Two game against the Patriots. In a twist to the usual habit of donning aqua-colored shirts, the Dolphins have issued a white throwback jersey for the September-in-South-Florida scorcher, which means the Pats will be baking in their dark blue “home” uniform.

Americans agree on few issues, but this is one that unites most who have an opinion on it: The Miami throwback is much, much better than the current uniform. While that’s a good way to generate interest in buying the old-school helmets and jerseys, there would be even more interest if Miami would simply switch back to the look that characterized the days of the franchise’s biggest successes.

At a time when the Dolphins would love nothing more than to turn the page on 20 years of meh, the best way to do it (other than winning games consistently) would be to ditch that clunky stylized logo with Nikefied numerals and go back to the look from the days of Griese and Csonka and Buoniconti and Marino and the rest of the players who made the Dolphins a year-in, year-out team to be reckoned with.

Would Jets trade Le’Veon Bell?

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With reports that Jets coach and interim G.M. Adam Gase didn’t want Le'Veon Bell (overstated) and/or that Gase thinks the Jets paid too much for Bell (correctly stated), chatter has emerged that the Jets could trade Bell.

If Gase is inclined to do it, now’s the time given his current power and control over the team. And John Clayton, formerly of ESPN and now a radio host in Seattle, recently said just enough on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh to get people thinking that a trade could happen: “If there’s a suitor, I could absolutely see the Jets trading him before the start of the season.”

It’s more likely that the Jets will have a suitor than that the Jets would trade him, however, because Bell already has earned $12 million via signing and roster bonuses. A new team could get him for five years, $40.5 million. That’s the ballpark that likely would have gotten the 49ers to bite in March, but now that the 49ers have signed Tevin Coleman (and already have Jerick McKinnon entering the season year of his own big-money, free-agency deal) they’d likely be interested only if they have (another) rash of ACL tears.

It’s unclear whether anyone else would want to acquire Bell’s deal and also give the Jets something for him. An injury to a starter in the last year or two of his contract could be the only thing that triggers serious interest.

Still, the Jets would have to be willing to eat $12 million in exchange for Bell playing a grand total of zero games (which is even nuttier than giving a coach full control of a team after having coached a grand total of zero games). That would serve only to add perception of dysfunction atop perception of dysfunction and reinforce the “what the hell are they doing?” vibe that has gripped much of their fan base and the media.

Another possibility, as floated by Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, would be a one-and-done arrangement for Bell, with a trade coming in 2020. A new team would be getting a four-year, $38.5 million contract, with $13 million fully guaranteed for 2020. But here’s the thing: If Bell has the kind of back-to-the-future year that would inspire someone to take on a $13 million obligation for 2020 at a position where plenty of young, relatively dirt-cheap options are annually available via the draft and/or undrafted free agency, that would be the kind of year that would validate the trade and make the Jets far more inclined to keep him.

At this point, the best play for the Jets would be to embrace the presence of Bell (when he’s actually, you know, present) and work toward proving that Bell was worth it. And Gase would never be happier to be proven wrong.

Baker Mayfield: Don’t overlook our running game

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The Browns made one of the biggest moves of the offseason when they traded for wide receiver Odell Beckham and the wideout’s arrival combined with the already high expectations for quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s second season has made the team’s passing game a focus of attention in recent months.

Mayfield wasn’t the only rookie to make an impact on the offense last season, however. Running back Nick Chubb ran for 996 yards while gaining over five yards a carry and the Browns’ strong second half coincided with his rise to the top of the depth chart.

The Beckham trade may have taken the spotlight off that work, but Mayfield offered a reminder of how important it is last week.

“We still need to be able to run it in our division,” Mayfield said, via the Canton Repository. “Mentality wise, it is a tough division. We have people talking about our receivers and tight ends, but we have to be able to run the ball in short yardage and in cold weather. I’m hoping everybody not talking about the running backs kind of [ticks] them off.”

When people have talked about the running backs in Cleveland, the discussion tends to be on Kareem Hunt‘s suspension or Duke Johnson‘s desire for a trade. Whether or not those guys are in the lineup, Chubb will be a vital part of the plan in Cleveland this year.

Reports: Broncos, Chris Harris talking about short-term deal

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Cornerback Chris Harris‘ bid for a new deal with the Broncos has led to renewed discussions with the team recently and recent reports indicate that a structure for that contract is taking shape.

According to multiple reports, the talks have focused on a short-term deal that would get Harris back to work with the team ahead of the 2019 season. Nicki Jhabvala of TheAthletic.com suggests that deal could feature a pay raise this season while still leaving the door open for Harris to hit free agency in 2020.

Past reports have indicated Harris is looking for a salary in the neighborhood of $15 million per season. He is currently set to make $8.8 million in 2019 after receiving a $1 million option bonus in addition to his base salary.

Talks are expected to continue as no agreement between Harris and the Broncos is believed to be imminent.

Eagles: We were fortunate to have Chris Long

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Defensive end Chris Long announced his retirement from the NFL on Saturday night after spending the last 11 years playing for three teams in the NFL.

The final two years of that career were spent with the Eagles and saw Long win both a Super Bowl and the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. The Eagles noted both of those accomplishments in a statement released after Long made his announcement.

“When you look at everything Chris Long accomplished as a player and person, it’s easy to see how fortunate we’ve been to have him on our team. Chris was everything that we thought he was and even more – not only as a great player for our football team, but also in the community. There aren’t many players who can say they won back-to-back Super Bowls and the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award. He accomplished both with class and grace. There’s no question that his work ethic combined with his unique talent made him into one of the greatest of this era’s professional athletes. We’re very thankful Chris chose to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, and congratulate him on a fantastic career. He will always be part of the Eagles family.”

Long recorded 11.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in his two years with the Eagles while also working to provide clean water to communities in Africa and donating his salary to fund educational initiatives in the United States. Those charitable efforts earned him the Man of the Year award and will likely be a main focus of Long’s post-football life.

Pernell McPhee “rejuvenated” by return to Ravens

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Linebacker Pernell McPhee was part of a trio of veteran players to sign with the Ravens at the end of the week and, unlike Shane Ray and Michael Floyd, it won’t be his first tour of duty in Baltimore.

The Ravens selected McPhee in the fifth round of the 2011 draft and he won a Super Bowl ring during a four-year run with the team that ended when he left for Chicago as a free agent. Injuries slowed McPhee during his time with the Bears and he didn’t make much impact with Washington in a reserve role last year, but McPhee said that coming back to his first team has given him a new spark.

“I feel rejuvenated and can’t wait to join the No. 1 defense from last season,” McPhee said, via ESPN.com. “I have so much respect for this franchise and city, and I look forward to being a Raven once again.”

McPhee will join Ray, Tim Williams, Tyus Bowser and rookie Jaylon Ferguson in the mix of players vying for playing time off the edge with Matthew Judon as the Ravens rework a defense that lost Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith in free agency.

Plenty of defensive line help still available in free agency

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The flood of free agent signings in March has slowed to a trickle in May, but teams looking to improve their defensive lines still have plenty of options available.

The three best players still available in our list of the Top 100 free agents are all defensive linemen: Ndamukong Suh at No. 23, Muhammad Wilkerson at No. 40 and Corey Liuget at No. 44.

NFL teams seem to have prioritized getting younger and cheaper on the defensive line this offseason, with 11 defensive linemen selected in the first round of the draft. With teams wanting to get younger and cheaper, Suh, Wilkerson and Liuget didn’t get the kinds of offers they were hoping for.

At this point, the top available players may be hoping that a team that suffers an injury on the defensive line will suddenly get desperate and make a big offer. Unfortunately, with three top defensive linemen available, it’s going to be a buyers’ market.

Chris Long retires after 11 seasons

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Defensive lineman Chris Long, the second overall pick in the draft, two-time Super Bowl champion, and 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year, has retired from the game.

Cheers,” he tweeted on Saturday night. “Been a hell of a journey. Eleven years and I can honestly say I put my soul into every minute of it. Highs and lows. I’ve seen them both and I appreciate the perspective. Gratitude and love to those who lifted me up.”

Long spent eight years with the Rams, all in St. Louis. After being released in February 2016, he landed with the Patriots and won Super Bowl LI. He then signed with the Eagles and won Super Bowl LII.

He has 70 career sacks and missed only 14 games due to injury.

The centerpiece of Long’s off-field charitable endeavors became Waterboys, an effort to provide clean water to impoverished communities in East Africa.

Former Eagles, 49ers assistant Keanon Lowe tackles armed student in school

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Keanon Lowe was a college football player at Oregon who then had jobs working for coach Chip Kelly as an offensive analyst with the Eagles and 49ers. He now coaches football at Portland’s Parkrose High School, and he may have saved students’ lives on Friday.

Lowe tackled a student who had a gun at the school, subduing him before any shots were fired and holding him until police arrived, and authorities have called him a hero.

“When I signed up to be a Security Guard, Football and Track & Field Coach for Parkrose High School, I did so to guide and coach young people whose shoes I had once been in,” Lowe wrote on Twitter today. “I had no idea, that I would one day have to put my life on the line like I did yesterday for my students. When confronted with the test the universe presented me with, I didn’t see any other choice but to act. Thank God, I passed. I’ve spent the last 24 hours being more appreciative of my family and realizing we have a serious problem. I’m blessed to be alive and extremely happy that the students are safe. I’m not sure what’s next, I haven’t had the time to really think about it. But I am sure I want to be a part of the solution to school gun violence. Thank you Portland Police for your help.”

Lowe has also been successful coaching at Parkrose: The football team went to the state playoffs this past season, Lowe’s first as the coach, after going winless the previous year.

J.T. Barrett eager to get reps in New Orleans

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J.T. Barrett was a three-time All-Big Ten quarterback at Ohio State, but after going undrafted in 2018, he hasn’t yet had a chance to play in the NFL. He’s biding his time in New Orleans.

Barrett, who was on and off the Saints’ practice squad last season, is back in New Orleans this year and glad for all the work the Saints will give him in the offseason while he sits fourth on the depth chart behind Drew Brees, Taysom Hill and Teddy Bridgewater.

“This is good for me to get some reps under my belt,” Barrett told the New Orleans Advocate. “Being the fourth quarterback last year, I didn’t get the opportunity for those things. So for me, this is just about me getting reps, footwork and all the timing and stuff down.”

Barrett knows he may need to wait a while to get playing time in a regular-season game.

“I would say patience,” Barrett said. “Just being able to be patient, yet still finding ways to grow. I wasn’t always out there on the field all the time at practice. But there were weeks when I was, and I tried to take advantage of that time when I was out there.”

A crowded depth chart in New Orleans will make it tough for Barrett to get an opportunity, but when he gets it he wants to be ready to show what he can do.

High-school sprinter accepts Ted Ginn’s offer

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34-year-old Saints receiver Ted Ginn has expressed a willingness to wager $10,000 on himself in a race against anyone. Someone nearly half Ginn’s age has accepted.

Matthew Boling, a high-school sprinter from Texas responded to the PFT tweet announcing Ginn’s offer with one word: “Bet.”

Ginn specified that the race would be from “pole to pole,” and I don’t know enough about track to know what that means. Now that Boling has accepted, maybe we’ll find out.

It remains highly unlikely that something like this will happen, but as slow-time content goes it would be a lot more compelling than NFL Network’s Top 100 players of 2019.

Travis Swanson announces retirement

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Travis Swanson announced his retirement Saturday after five NFL seasons.

Swanson, a free agent, played 12 games, with 11 starts last season for the Dolphins. He spent his first four seasons in Detroit after the Lions made him a third-round pick out of Arkansas.

“I decided to retire from the game of football,” Swanson wrote on Instagram. “Those words are hard to write. However, I have a sense of comfort knowing Emily and I are walking away from this game with offers that were on the table. This ultimately came down to a family decision between Emily and I.

“I have been an offensive lineman for 22 years of my life and will be for the remainder. In my years as a lineman, I have learned so many life lessons. It is extraordinary that this game has the power to take a kid from Kingwood, Texas to places all over the globe.”

Return of NCAA Football video game could help college players in many ways

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With the NCAA exploring at political gunpoint the possibility of finally letting college football and basketball players profit from their names, likenesses, and images, many quickly became excited about the potential return of the NCAA Football video game franchise.

Abandoned by EA once it became clear that EA and the NCAA could no longer profit from digital players simulating the names, likenesses, and images of their real-life counterparts (and of course widely blamed on “the lawyers” and not on EA and the NCAA for unfairly taking that money from those who deserved it), letting players get compensated for names, likenesses, and images would lay the foundation for bringing it back. EA, indeed, is interested in rebooting the brand. But having the ability to pay the players what they rightfully deserve would be only the first step.

Without a union to sell the name, likeness, and image rights of college football players on a widespread basis, EA and the NCAA would have to put a mechanism in place for getting each and every player to agree to terms. Many will simply sign on the dotted line and take whatever measly check they are offered. Others may hold out for much more. Some may refuse to sign at all.

The entire process would become far more efficient if all college football players belonged to an organization with the power to negotiate on their behalf. And therein would reside true power, legal and political.

While efforts to unionize college athletes have failed, nothing prevents them from forming a group that would have the power to advance their interests and to negotiate collective marketing rights with EA and anyone else who wants to use their names, likeness, and images on a widespread basis. That group also could try to secure better terms for players with the NFL, even if it would have no specific bargaining power with respect to the labor deal.

Retired pro football players have aligned to force a seat at the table for CBA talks, even if the NFL owes them no current legal obligations. The league still acknowledges its former players, largely for P.R. purposes, when it comes to deciding how the overall pie will be divided. If the league’s future players formed a similar group, it could force its way into the room and advocate zealously for those who have no say in potentially dramatic alterations to their eventual rights.

In 2011, for example, the league pushed through a rookie wage scale. Aimed ostensibly at ensuring more money would be available for veterans, the dramatic reduction in overall compensation to incoming players created an incentive to skew rosters younger and cheaper, to the detriment of veterans. Also, the draft continues to force new players to accept employment from a company for which those new players may not wish to work, ripping them potentially thousands of miles away from family and friends with no say in the matter, short of sitting out a full season and re-entering the draft pool.

Even if those new players have few if any legal rights, the creation of a group that would advance their legal rights in college could then try to do the same for the professional level, using all available means to pressure the NFL and the NFL Players Association to account for a critical group of athletes who are consistently ignored.

So, basically, letting college football players make money from their names, likenesses, and images could lead in time to the emergence of a group that will help college football players force their way into making more money once they enter the NFL. While that would complicate the efforts of the NFL and NFLPA to maintain labor peace, that labor peace would never come at the expense of the future new members of the workforce.

Third generation Manning already an impressive quarterback prospect

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Get ready for the next quarterback named Manning.

Arch Manning, grandson of Archie Manning, nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning, son of Cooper Manning, is still in eighth grade but played in a scrimmage Friday with the varsity team at Isidore Newman School, where his dad and both uncles also played their high school football.

The footage is impressive. Arch Manning looks like, well, a Manning. He has good accuracy, seems to command the offense well, and has mobility more reminiscent of his grandpa than his uncles.

Newman varsity football coach Nelson Stewart told WVUE in January that Arch Manning is already drawing a lot of interest and should be ready to play with the varsity quickly.

“Nowadays with social media, and what’s out there, obviously the interest has started,” he said. “As we say, he’s still an eighth-grader. Obviously we’re excited to have him. I think as hard as he’s working, and the the things I’ve seen, he’ll be here in a hurry. . . . He’s got a high football IQ. I think one of the things about Cooper, he grew up around it. Watching Cooper through the years, he’s a guy who understands the game. And he’s got two good uncles that have worked on some footwork, and throwing with him a little bit. He does look sound. If you look at his mechanics and his release, he’s further ahead than most we’ve had. I think he looks the part right now.”

It’s way too early to assume that Arch will do in football what his uncles and grandfather did, but he’s already got plenty of eyes on him, even before starting college.

Dolphins Hall of Famers endorse Josh Rosen acquisition

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The Dolphins have a long-range plan, and enough draft picks to make it worth flipping a couple for quarterback Josh Rosen.

And according two of the franchise’s Hall of Famers, it’s a low-risk move.

According to Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post, both Jason Taylor and Dan Marino spoke in glowing terms about the acquisition, though Taylor noted that it could be a short-term rental if it doesn’t work out.

I thought it was a great move,” Taylor said. “You get a one-year look-see, see what’s under the hood. And if you don’t like it, you can change it.

“If you do like it, then you can change the tires, put some custom wheels on it, keep riding that thing out.”

If Rosen turns out to be the vehicle the Dolphins believe can take them where they’re going, then the cost of a second- and fifth-rounder for a guy the Cardinals took 10th overall last year is an incredible bargain.

Rosen admitted this week his “head is swimming” while learning a new system, but Marino said he’s been impressed with Rosen’s aptitude for the game, and said his reputation for intelligence was earned: “All that stuff. He’s been working hard. Yes, he has.”

As long as he can beat out Ryan Fitzpatrick, he’ll have a year to prove himself. While their offensive personnel may make it difficult for any quarterback, they have a long test-drive to see if Rosen’s worth customizing.