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Titans release safety Pollard, claim Massaquoi off waivers (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:47:43 PST)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Titans have released veteran safety Bernard Pollard and replaced him by claiming linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi off waivers.

2015 NFL free-agent rankings (defensive players and specialists) (Shutdown Corner)
(Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:27:10 PST)
NFL free agency starts on March 10, with teams hoping to find the next star who can push them to the next level. Here are Shutdown Corner's free-agency rankings for defensive players and specialists, with every relevant unrestricted free agent set to hit the market ( for offensive players, click here ) : DEFENSIVE ENDS 1. Jerry Hughes: Hughes never panned out for the Colts, but two 10-sack seasons in Buffalo have put him in great position as he heads into free agency before his age-27 season. 2. Greg Hardy: This one is complicated. He’s a tremendous talent and won’t turn 27 until July. He also had a domestic violence incident that landed him on the NFL’s exempt list. If not for that he’d get an enormous contract. He might still get it. 3. Jabaal Sheard: Sheard was a better fit as a 4-3 end, but the Browns switched to a 3-4. Sheard’s sack totals have slipped every year since his rookie season. Maybe he can find the right fit in free agency. 4. Adrian Clayborn: The former Buccaneers’ first-round pick has been plagued by injuries – he played in just one game last year – but has been a solid 4-3 end when healthy.

2015 NFL free-agent rankings (offensive players) (Shutdown Corner)
(Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:48:13 PST)
NFL free agency starts on March 10, with teams hoping to find the next star who can push them to the next level. Here are Shutdown Corner's free agency rankings for offensive players ( for defensive players and specialists, click here ) , with every relevant unrestricted free agent set to hit the market: QUARTERBACKS 1. Brian Hoyer: Like most years, there are no great free-agent options at quarterback. Hoyer has looked good in a few spurts. He also got benched for Johnny Manziel last season when the Browns were still in the playoff race. With Cleveland signing Josh McCown, it appears Hoyer will hit the open market. 2. Mark Sanchez: On the bright side, he had eight starts with the Philadelphia Eagles last season and posted an 88.4 rating, and he has good experience with 70 NFL starts. But he has also shown he is  mistake-prone, and that’s unlikely to change. 3. Jake Locker: Injuries and inaccuracy ruined his Tennessee Titans career. But he was the No. 8 pick of the 2011 draft, and someone will talk themselves into him having a successful second act if he stays healthy (enormous “if”) as he enters his age 27 season. 4. Ryan Mallett: Tom Brady’s backups get overrated; being a great player’s backup doesn’t make one great by osmosis. Mallett is a big-armed, unproven commodity with 79 career passes and an unimpressive 61 rating in four seasons. 5. Matt Moore: He had a good season starting for Miami in 2011. He has thrown 29 passes in three seasons since. His past success hasn’t been totally forgotten. 6. Tarvaris Jackson: He hasn’t played meaningful snaps since 2011, but has settled in nicely to his new career as a solid, dependable backup. 7. Michael Vick: Vick brings a big name and that’s about it at age 35. It has been a while since he was a legitimate option as a starter, but you could do worse as a backup option. 8. Colt McCoy: If you want to be optimistic, you chalk up his Cleveland struggles to it being the curse of the Browns, and focus on a decent four-start stint with the Washington Redskins last season. 9. Shaun Hill: At age 36, Hill is better suited as a backup, a role he was forced into with the St. Louis Rams last season. But he can still be an effective backup. 10. Christian Ponder: One would think that disastrous start at Green Bay eliminated all hope the former first-round pick could rebound in his second NFL stop. But he’ll get a shot somewhere. Others worth noting: Jason Campbell, Jimmy Clausen, Matt Flynn, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Lindley, Tyrod Taylor, Scott Tolzien and T.J. Yates RUNNING BACKS 1. DeMarco Murray: No other free agent got MVP votes after last season (Murray got two of 50) or won a major award like Murray’s NFL offensive player of the year award (unless you count Justin Houston’s Deacon Jones award for leading the NFL in sacks). So Murray should be a hot commodity, right? Maybe not. The market for running backs is depressed with teams looking for cheaper options in the draft. Murray’s free agency will be interesting to watch. 2. Ryan Mathews: A fantastic back with two 1,000-yard seasons in San Diego, Mathews also is a constant injury concern. His ceiling is high -- if he can stay healthy. 3. Justin Forsett: Behind offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking attack with the Baltimore Ravens, Forsett had 1,266 yards and a great 5.4-yard average. He never had more than 619 yards in any of his first six NFL seasons. He’ll turn 30 in October, so will teams be willing to gamble on a repeat? 4. C.J. Spiller: The Bills didn’t get anything near what they paid for with Spiller, after they made him the ninth overall pick. He rarely got regular touches, and also dealt with plenty of injuries. He is still an intriguing talent who might benefit from a change in scenery. 5. Mark Ingram: After he looked like a first-round bust, Ingram emerged in his fourth season as a tough, productive runner. He has durability concerns but he should be a solid option for a running back-needy team, and it might be hard for the Saints to bring him back given their salary cap problems. 6. Frank Gore: One of the great San Francisco 49ers, Gore has 11,073 career yards on 2,442 carries. He is the epitome of toughness at the position, and last year had a good 4.3-yard average at age 31. Will the 49ers re-sign him? It seems like he still has something left. 7. Shane Vereen: Vereen is probably more valuable to the Patriots, who know how to use his talents as a receiver out of the backfield, than anyone else. 8. Stevan Ridley: Ridley tore his ACL in October, which complicates matters. He’s a powerful back who also has a fumbling problem and is a non-factor in the passing game. But he’s good between the tackles. 9. Reggie Bush: Even though he’ll be 30 before next season, Bush still has a lot of value. He’s great out of the backfield as a receiver and can still break a big run. 10. Roy Helu: He never established himself as a top option in Washington’ running game, but was great catching balls out of the backfield and doesn’t have many miles on his legs. 11. Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw can still be an effective back when he’s healthy. That’s the problem: He’s rarely healthy. He hasn’t played 16 games since 2010 and he will be 29 next season. 12. Knowshon Moreno: The Broncos moved on from Moreno after a 1,000-yard season in 2013, and the Dolphins got just three games and 31 carries out of him because of injuries. He’s a solid all-around back and some team should get him at a discount. 13. Ben Tate: Tate was the top back in last year’s free-agent class, but that seems like decades ago. He was on three different teams last year, and if he signs somewhere this year he’ll have to prove he’s worth a regular role.

Detroit Lions decide not to place franchise tag on Ndamukong Suh (Shutdown Corner)
(Mon, 02 Mar 2015 06:52:36 PST)
In the end, the Detroit Lions couldn't justify placing the franchise tag on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The #Lions will not place the franchise tag on DT Ndamukong Suh. — Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 2, 2015 It would have cost the team a one-year tender of $27 million, which — along with the bloated salaries of Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford — would have crippled the Lions' salary cap situation and perhaps hindered their chances to re-sign Suh and even Nick Fairley, another key free agent. The reason his figure was high was because Suh's cap number was $22 million a year ago in his redone deal, and the franchise rules require a 20 percent kicker over that number. The Lions are playing with fire, but they still harbor hopes they can re-sign Suh to a long-term deal. They'll have until March 10, which is the opening of free agency, to lock up Suh or risk losing him to the open market, where the money could exceed what the Lions can afford. A year ago, the Lions opted not to pick up the fifth-year option for Fairley, a first-round pick in 2010. He had been out of shape and had not produced to the level the Lions had hoped. But even with a season-ending injury last season, Fairley played well enough — and with the Suh uncertainty looming — that it appears in hindsight the Lions might have made a mistake. Now what for Suh? The Lions could come to an agreement with him in the next week. But other teams will be lurking with one of the top interior defenders now hitting the market. Previously, Suh's camp had let word leak that he might be seeking a landing spot in one of the top markets. With the New York Giants expected to franchise Jason-Pierre Paul and the New York Jets loaded with d-line talent, the NYC market might be limited as a destination. Philadelphia? Dallas? It's not clear if Suh is financially viable in either spot, although the Cowboys always figure to have one eye on the situation. As for teams with the requisite cap space, the Oakland Raiders figure to be players. Maybe the Atlanta Falcons, too, as they have cleared gobs of cap room and desperately need a pass rush. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Falcons release WR Douglas, OG Blalock, DE Massaquoi (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:40:18 PST)
The Atlanta Falcons released wide receiver Harry Douglas, starting offensive guard Justin Blalock and defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi on Friday, a day after cutting running back Steven Jackson. Douglas, a third-round draft pick from Louisville in 2008, usually was the No. 3 receiver behind Julio Jones and Roddy White. On his Twitter feed on Friday, Douglas said ''Thanking (at)AtlantaFalcons for my 7 years in ATL & the opportunity to play in the city I grew up. Much luv 2 fans.'' Blalock also reached out to fans through his Twitter feed, saying ''I'd like to sincerely thank the Atlanta Falcons, all my teammates and especially the fans.

NFL draft watch: Needs that teams should pass on in Round 1 (Shutdown Corner)
(Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:35:13 PST)
It’s time to revive the need-vs.-BPA (best player available) debate, with an eye on this year’s draft. I was stunned at how many comments, Twitter remarks and emails I got after my post-combine mock draft that were something along the lines of “[insert their favorite team] won’t do that … they have bigger needs.” Knowing that my mock will be torn to shreds after the first round of free agency, I won’t defend the picks — but rather my method. Think of it this way: If you were to go back and do a redraft from three, four, seven, heck, 10 years ago, what are you going to do? You’re going to look at the best players and not even think about need. It’s not the most scientific way to approach it, but the point is this: Talent trumps all, and need should only be a tiebreaker. [All Draft News, All The Time: Follow Shutdown Draft 365 on Tumblr ] So let’s take a look at the first-round draft order and examine some teams’ big, pressing needs — and implore them to wait on filling them if the right player isn’t available. 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What don’t they need? Well, certainly most of the free world believes that Jameis Winston will be their choice at No. 1 overall, so we’ll assume that the Bucs go that direction and know that they can come back and address their needs for a pass rusher or an offensive lineman (or two) later on, starting with the second pick of the second round. 2. Tennessee Titans: Do they draft Marcus Mariota? I had the Titans taking him second, but I am starting to get the idea that they’ll listen to offers from desperate teams such as the Cleveland Browns or Philadelphia Eagles, if for no other reason than to see what they might fork over. That makes this tough to project, but we can say this: There is no offensive lineman — and they still need some — or defensive back worth taking at No. 2. 3. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags are in a great spot here, able to let the top two picks play out and still likely get either Leonard Williams or a pass rusher. The need they can wait on is an offensive tackle, which could come later on. 4. Oakland Raiders: It’s looking like it is coming down to a receiver or a pass rusher, depending on what happens in free agency; Williams wouldn’t be bad, either. But as badly as they need another cornerback or an offensive lineman, this too can wait. 5. Washington Redskins: A bulldog guard with some size and grit would really help spur this run game. But you’re not drafting guards with the fifth pick too often and hitting home runs. This year is no exception. They can get their guy in Round 2 and still find a starter. 6. New York Jets: Broken record here. Cornerback and offensive tackle are two spots they’d love to fill in the draft. But taking D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s eventual replacement shouldn’t come with the sixth pick, no matter what happens in the top five. 7. Chicago Bears: For all of their defensive needs (and they have plenty), the Bears also have a sneaky shortcoming at wide receiver — especially if Brandon Marshall doesn’t figure into their plans. But with this draft class, some good receivers will be pushed down, maybe even into Rounds 3 and 4. 8. Atlanta Falcons: With the way the Falcons are cutting veterans left and right, their needs grow — proportionally to the speculation that they might be players in free agency. So it’s tricky to say which needs will be filled in late April and which won’t. But based on our best speculation, it would be unlikely for the Falcons to go the veteran free-agent route to add a running back, which they need, and more likely they’ll mine one from the draft. And we know it won’t be at No. 8. Could they steal Melvin Gordon at No. 41 overall? Get lucky to land Jay Ajayi near the top of Round 3? They might. 9. New York Giants: Is this too high to take an offensive tackle? We would understand the thinking if they went that route. A pass rusher? That we certainly can get on board with, assuming there’s still one worth taking (Vic Beasley? Bud Dupree?) still on the board. But we would implore the Giants to resist their defensive back need here, even if you’re talking Landon Collins or Trae Waynes or whomever. It just feels a bit too high for that position. 10. St. Louis Rams: Tricky spot to forecast here. They might need a receiver, and what if, say, either Kevin White or Amari Cooper slip? They might have to pounce. Offensive line looms as a sore spot still, and it wouldn’t be offensive to start (or continue) the run at that position for the right player. But a tight end? A cornerback? A quarterback? We say pass here. 11. Minnesota Vikings: This all changes if Adrian Peterson isn’t back, but we’re still not on board — yet — with Todd Gurley going at this point, even though, boy, what a potential replacement he might be. The beautiful thing seems to be that most of the team’s main needs (offensive line, cornerback, receiver) have players who could fit into this range. But linebacker, especially the kind they need, shouldn’t be the choice here. They can find one or two later on. 12. Cleveland Browns: Predicting Browns behavior is risky business, and we don’t recommend it for the faint of heart. But one thing is for certain: Taking a quarterback — assuming Marcus Mariota doesn’t embark on an Aaron Rodgers-esque slide — doesn’t feel wise. We’ll stop there for now, with the Browns back on the clock seven picks down the chain. 13. New Orleans Saints: You might be surprised to read how much we think the Saints need to consider a quarterback, and perhaps relatively high, too. But not here. No way. They can land a good pass rusher or cornerback at this spot and wait on QB. Maybe Garrett Grayson in the third? 14. Miami Dolphins: Our thinking here is that they could address the receiver position if someone like DeVante Parker remains undrafted, or perhaps nabbing a cornerback, although we’re bearish on the top-end talent. Same with linebacker. And they drafted an offensive lineman in Round 1 a year ago — would they go back and take another one this high? 15. San Francisco 49ers: I believe they’ll draft a quarterback. Boy, they’d rock the boat with a Brett Hundley pick, wouldn’t they? It’s not likely, but it’s fun to ponder. They also need receivers, offensive and defensive linemen, cornerbacks and a tight end. That last position can be filled down the line. 16. Houston Texans: Yes, we’d love to see long-term clarity at the QB spot, but Hundley and Bryce Petty are no-nos here. Solve the cornerback/wide receiver/offensive line issue instead. A sleeper first-round position could be nose tackle, unless they suddenly feel better about Louis Nix III. 17. San Diego Chargers: If a pass rusher fell here, they could grab him and help fill the veteran voids of Dwight Freeney and/or Jarrett Johnson, even with Jeremiah Attaochu in the wings. An offensive or defensive lineman could work here, too. But a running back — even if Ryan Mathews leaves — can wait. This draft is loaded at the position. 18. Kansas City Chiefs: No, we’re not going to further alienate our Chiefs readers by suggesting they pass on a wide receiver here (as we did in our most recent mock draft). An offensive lineman makes perfect sense as well. A corner would be OK if the right-sized and skilled player is here. But a linebacker can wait for later on in the draft. 19. Browns (from the Buffalo Bills): It all depends on what happens at 12. Heck, they could trade these two picks for Mariota for all we know. The only positions we’d urge them to wait on would be a linebacker or a tight end (if Jordan Cameron is gone). 20. Philadelphia Eagles: Like the Browns, we’re not super keen on them going quarterback here, short of finding a way to get up for Mariota. Corner and offensive line, if they stay here, would be two areas to consider. But safety would be a reach, even with Landon Collins fitting the Brian Dawkins-like physical mold. This Eagles defense relies on range, which might not be Collins’ forte. 21. Cincinnati Bengals: No kickers here, please! We’re only half kidding. Same with quarterback, even though we’d love to provide some Andy Dalton alternatives for the future. We feel confident they can find a linebacker, pass rusher, defensive back or receiver here whose value makes more sense. 22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Will there be a pass rusher worth taking at 22? Too early to tell. We think there will be a corner or a defensive lineman they like in this spot if not. Certainly, there’s zero need to add a running back now, even with Le’Veon Bell’s looming two-game suspension and zero reliable depth behind him. That can wait — perhaps even until Day 3 of the draft. 23. Detroit Lions: Releasing Reggie Bush means they could use another running back. But please, for all that is right, don’t start projecting them to take Gurley or Gordon. It’s not happening here. We’d love them to help out the offensive line, or the defensive line if they can’t keep Ndamukong Suh and/or Nick Fairley. 24. Arizona Cardinals: Funny to say for an offensively limited team by season’s end, but there might actually be more tangible needs on the defensive side of the ball — perhaps with all three levels needing some help. The inside linebacker can wait. We actually would be on board with taking Gurley here, too; that might be a fantastic move. 25. Carolina Panthers: Doesn’t this have to be an offensive tackle here? If not, maybe a receiver, but they did take Kelvin Benjamin in Round 1 last year, making it less likely in our minds. A cornerback would be better addressed later, we think, but the top ones will go quickly in this range. 26. Baltimore Ravens: This is a team that stands to lose some players for monetary reasons, and of their clear needs right now, we think they might be forced to wait on an outside rusher until later in the draft. It’s unlikely the right fit will be here at this spot, and there are plenty of other spots they can address nicely with the talent expected to be available here. 27. Dallas Cowboys: They could use another tight end to replace Jason Witten one day, and as much as Maxx Williams reminds us of Witten, we say pass here. There are a surprising number of areas that could improve on this 12-4 squad. 28. Denver Broncos: Like we’ve said above, the linebacker crop is not chock full of top-end talent, so this is a position they might be able to hit the snooze bar on for a round unless a top talent such as Shaq Thompson slides unexpectedly. 29. Indianapolis Colts: They need a safety, but if Collins is gone … we say wait. There might only be another one or two worth taking in the first 75 picks of the draft or so. We also think drafting a running back this high might not be the wisest move. Get another offensive lineman or a pass rusher instead. 30. Green Bay Packers: Why is everyone panicking about inside linebacker? Yes, Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk are gone, but that’s not a first-round position in this defense, we don’t believe. Ted Thompson is among the strictest best-player-available drafters in the game. We think he’ll look elsewhere. 31. Seattle Seahawks: Wide receiver is tempting, but the depth of this class suggests they might be able to be patient and wait; besides, they traded down and made Paul Richardson their top pick a year ago, even if he is coming off a torn ACL. 32. New England Patriots: Why does everyone want them to draft a receiver so high? They never have used a first-rounder on one under Bill Belichick, and they likely won’t start now. The offensive and defensive lines make more sense to address. The receiver can wait. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Darnell Dockett leads long list of NFL veterans cut (Shutdown Corner)
(Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:25:27 PST)
It might come as a surprise, but the Arizona Cardinals released defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Cardinals announced they released Darnell Dockett. — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 27, 2015 Dockett tore his ACL prior to last season and missed the entire 2014 campaign. The colorful and outspoken defensive lineman turns 34 in May and was scheduled to hit for nearly $9 million on this year's salary cap. Dockett signed a four-year, $35.3 million deal prior to the 2010 season and has spent his entire career with the Cardinals until now. Although injury and age work against him, Dockett still should garner solid attention on the free-agent market. This feels like a salary cap-related move by the Cardinals, who previously were projected to have about $5 million in space to operate. 'Tis the season for NFL teams to hack veterans, and Friday brought a slew of financially motivated cuts. The Miami Dolphins cut receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. The Atlanta Falcons cut receiver Harry Douglas and offensive lineman Justin Blalock one day after chopping Steven Jackson. The Washington Redskins cut defensive linemen Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen. The Cincinnati Bengals parted ways with wideout Greg Little and defensive lineman Robert Geathers. It's all part of the fat-trimming teams are doing with the start of the new league year and free agency nearly upon us (March 10, officially). Dockett is the biggest name of the bunch, and he should find work elsewhere. As for some of the others, it's not clear that will happen, at least not immediately. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Falcons release veteran running back Steven Jackson (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:36:37 PST)
The Atlanta Falcons on Thursday released running back Steven Jackson, who in two seasons with the team couldn't recapture his 1,000-yard form that made him one of the league's top backs with the Rams. In 2013, his first season with the Falcons, he had 543 yards rushing in 12 games. Jackson has had at least 20 catches in 10 straight seasons, including a career-best 90 receptions in 2006. The Falcons, expected to have a defensive makeover under new coach Dan Quinn, the former Seattle defensive coordinator, also could have a new look on offense.

Atlanta Falcons cut RB Steven Jackson (Shutdown Corner)
(Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:26:04 PST)
In a move most people expected, the Atlanta Falcons parted ways with running back Steven Jackson. The Falcons save $3.75 million in salary cap space by cutting him now but must carry $1.1 million on this year's books for a signing bonus spread over from last year. He is now a free agent and can look for a new home immediately if there's work out there. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Jackson signed with the Falcons two seasons ago but was limited to 1,250 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 27 games. His streak of eight straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons ended after he left the St. Louis Rams, with whom he spent his first nine years, in 2012. Jackson, who turns 32 in July, is the NFL's active leading rusher and ranks 16th all time in rushing yards with 11,388. In order to crack the top 10 — and pass former Rams teammate Marshall Faulk — Jackson would need to rush for another 892 yards. Will he get the chance? It's possible a team could bring in Jackson as a complementary role, but perhaps for not much more than the veteran's minimum salary plus a modest bonus. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick long has been an admirer reportedly, so that's one team to keep an eye on. And if Jackson does land in a place such as New England, it would end one of the more dubious NFL streaks in recent memory. In his 11 seasons, Jackson never has been on a team that finished above .500, twice being on 8-8 teams. Jackson's only playoff appearance was in 2004, when the Rams were crushed by the Falcons. Jackson's best value at this stage of his career might come in the passing game, where he is still a reliable receiver and pass blocker. Plenty of teams still need that, and Jackson always has been one of the most self-motivated players in the league. Here's guessing he's not done. Maybe as a feature back, yes, but hardly as a player. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Cut Candidates: NFC South (Rotoworld)
(Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:06:00 PST)
Nick Mensio highlights 21 players from the NFC South who may be salary-cap casualties this offseason.

Shaun King's mock draft 1.0: QB Marcus Mariota falls to Bears (Yahoo Sports)
(Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:45:35 PST)
The Bears have outstanding offensive skill-position personnel which will make Mariota's transition easier.

Falcons sign kicker Matt Bryant to contract extension (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:47:24 PST)
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons have signed kicker Matt Bryant to a contract extension.

Falcons sign DiMarco, Matthews to contract extensions (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 24 Feb 2015 12:16:54 PST)
The Atlanta Falcons have re-signed fullback Patrick DiMarco and defensive end Cliff Matthews to contract extensions. Matthews could have signed with another team as an unrestricted free agent. DiMarco has played in 30 games with 14 starts with Atlanta. Matthews, a sixth-round pick in 2011, had six tackles in seven games last season.

NFL mock draft: Projecting the first two rounds after the combine (Shutdown Corner)
(Tue, 24 Feb 2015 07:57:07 PST)
Connecting the dots on a mock draft three weeks before the start of free agency proves to be difficult, especially with more health and workout information needed on a few key injured draft prospects. But we’ll take a crack with the NFL scouting combine in the rearview mirror and the bulk of the draft information in the tank. Here’s how we think the first two rounds looks as things stand now. 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers  — Florida State QB Jameis Winston Head coach Lovie Smith says he’s OK with Winston’s character, which would be the only real roadblock to welcoming him in the building. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter won’t have to dig deep in his playbook to find a system that fits Winston’s skills, having coached similar physical types in Byron Leftwich and Matt Ryan in Jacksonville and Atlanta, respectively. The stars are starting to line up for this marriage. [All Draft News, All The Time: Follow Shutdown Draft 365 on Tumblr ] 2. Tennessee Titans — Oregon QB Marcus Mariota Our best comp for Mariota since last fall has been Alex Smith, who has been a good but hardly transcendent quarterback. Mariota’s strong workouts this weekend only reinforce that. Titans OC Jason Michael spent two years as Smith’s QB coach in San Francisco and certainly can draw on that experience to find a way to get the best from Mariota. Are we certain Mariota will go second? No, but the Titans’ lukewarm defense of Zach Mettenberger in Indy makes us think this could happen. Otherwise, the Titans might be open for business at No. 2 if the right team blows them away with a trade offer. 3. Jacksonville Jaguars — USC DT Leonard Williams The Daytona Beach native might be the perfect force player for Gus Bradley’s defense, even if an interior player isn’t the most pressing need. Who cares? Williams might be the cleanest prospect available and could give the Jaguars another horse up front to control the action.

NFL's Best Coaches 2015 (Rotoworld)
(Sun, 22 Feb 2015 07:28:00 PST)
Patrick Daugherty ranks the league's 25 best coaches, and evaluates 2015's seven new hires.

Futures Deals (Rotoworld)
(Sat, 21 Feb 2015 02:07:00 PST)
Nick Mensio keeps track of all the reserve/future contracts signed around the NFL.

As the Browns turn: GM Ray Farmer apologizes for texting controversy (Shutdown Corner)
(Thu, 19 Feb 2015 08:04:46 PST)
INDIANAPOLIS – The Cleveland Browns are in a bad place. Teams miss on draft picks all the time, or go through multiple losing seasons, but nothing screams to the Browns’ apparent dysfunction more than the general manager apologizing at the NFL scouting combine for sending texts to the sideline during games. Browns general manager Ray Farmer said it was his mistake to send texts from the press box to the sideline during games last season. That’s against NFL rules. The texts reportedly questioned play calling and personnel decisions. That’s against common football decorum. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left for the Atlanta Falcons after the season, and it has been widely speculated that the texts played a part in that. Quarterback Brian Hoyer, who is a free agent, said the controversy might affect his decision whether or not to return to the Browns. The NFL is investigating what happened. Farmer said he has apologized. Only in Cleveland. [All Draft News, All The Time: Follow Shutdown Draft 365 on Tumblr ] “It was me," Farmer said. "To that degree, I have apologized to the people in the building, coach (Mike) Pettine, (Browns owner) Jimmy Haslam, the rest of the football staff. “I take full responsibility for myself and my actions.” It’s fairly amazing that any number of Browns stories that would usually be a big topic of conversation at the scouting combine – Josh Gordon’s year-long suspension, Johnny Manziel entering a treatment facility, the Browns’ lack of an obvious option to start at quarterback, 2014 first-round pick Justin Gilbert’s immense struggles as a rookie – were not even the main topic with the general manager. The NFL might end up fining the Browns or even taking away a draft pick over the rule violation. “It’s not an excuse, but sometimes your emotions get the best of you,” Farmer said. The Browns supported Farmer through the texting controversy. On Wednesday, Pettine said he was upset with Farmer initially but they have worked it out. Farmer said he and Pettine have and will work well together. “No relationship mending (is needed),” Farmer said. “Coach Pettine and I work very well together. We’ve had our conversations, we’ve gone through what that was.” There were football questions around him discussing text messages. He was asked in multiple ways if Manziel could be the team’s starting quarterback in 2015, and he refused to give that vote of confidence, speaking only in platitudes about everyone on the roster competing for spots. Farmer said the team does have a plan at quarterback, although he wouldn’t divulge it. Browns fans deserve better than seeing their team become a laughingstock. There’s a lot of corrections that need to be made with the Browns, and it was summed up by the general manager standing at a podium trying to explain himself and why he was undermining the coaching staff with text messages to the sideline during games. “Anytime you make mistakes, it is humbling,” Farmer said. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Coaching Change Winners (Rotoworld)
(Sun, 15 Feb 2015 10:19:00 PST)
There will be seven new head coaches and 13 new offensive coordinators in 2015. Adam Levitan looks at which players project to benefit.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made $35 million in 2013 (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:02:05 PST)
The NFL on Friday released the amount Goodell earned in salary, bonus and pension compensation. Goodell made $35.1 million in 2012, with an additional $5 million in incentive pay and $4.1 million pension payment from the 2011 lockout year that was paid in 2012. Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, a member of the league's compensation committee, said in a statement that compensation packages are reviewed annually. The committee will ''conduct a thoughtful review and make a determination of 2014 compensation in March.'' Goodell was heavily criticized this season for his handling of the domestic violence case of former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice.

Did Bill Belichick give us news about deflate-gate on David Letterman? (Shutdown Corner)
(Thu, 12 Feb 2015 06:34:15 PST)
We enjoyed the hilariously awkward interview with David Letterman and Bill Belichick on Wednesday's edition of the "Late Show with David Letterman," which was, as expected, mostly an exercise in frivolity. But was there actually some breaking news from it? As Frank Schwab detailed previously , Letterman and Belichick volleyed around the deflate-gate silliness for a few minutes with the New England Patriots coach not giving the late-night talk show host much. But Belichick, in what sounded like an attempt at humor, offered one interesting detail to the still-ongoing investigation into what the Patriots did and didn't know about ball pressure. "We're gonna bring you in," Belichick said to Letterman, "to testify when we get the investigation next month." Wait, what? Next month? It makes some sense that with the Patriots still basking in the afterglow of a Super Bowl title and Belichick and his players embarking in the talk-show circuit — and the NFL combine next week closing fast — that there might not be a lot of time for NFL investigator Ted Wells to get an audience with Belichick, Tom Brady, the "elderly" ball boy or Bill Nye, for that matter. But goodness, what is the darned hangup here? Looks like we'll be waiting for a while to find out if the Patriots will be fined. After all, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank all but admitted that his team pumped in fake crowd noise, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam did the same with GM Ray Farmer illegally texting down to the sideline, and we don't have any resolutions in those cases yet, either. The difference with deflate-gate? Belichick wasn't admitting to anything Wednesday night. But for fun, let's roll through a Top 10 list — in the Letterman tradition — of our favorite moments from Belichick's appearance: 10. Belichick clumsily high-fiving band director Paul Shaffer on his way out on the stage. 9. After sitting down, Belichick heard mostly cheers from the audience, with a few scattered boos. "I hear the Jet fans," he said to Letterman with a smile. 8. Belichick, responding to the Patriots' AFC title game win over the Indiana-bred Letterman's Indianapolis Colts: "Well, it was only a 38-point win." 7. After Letterman segued away from that game, Belichick zinged him a bit. " We get off that Colts subject in a hurry, didn’t we?" 6. Letterman imitating Belichick's mumbling "We're onto Cincinnati" statement. Funny stuff. 5. Asked by Letterman about Jonas Gray, the regular-season Colts killer who disappeared down the stretch, and whether he missed a meeting (and pressing on the issue), Belichick didn't exactly deny it. "Well," he said, laughing, giving us all we needed to know on that "Fifty Shades of Gray" issue. 4. Do fans and neighbors and armchair coaches offer up fancy plays to Belichick? Perhaps, but the coach made a funny paper-crumpling motion with his hands and said that it's harder to pass a bill through Congress than for an outsider to wedge their way into the Patriots' playbook. 3. Do Brady and Belichick hang out outside the facility? Belichick said Brady gave him a "good licking" while playing golf together at Pebble Beach. 2. Letterman making a few funny age jokes, saying Brady is his age (Letterman is 67; Brady is 37) and asking Belichick (who is 62) if he takes 90 seconds in the men's room, like the ball boy did on that fateful night. 1. Letterman referring to deflate-gate as "horseplay" and doing the whole "you know that I know that you know" routine about what actually happened. Belichick didn't bite, of course, but it was a fun bit of "Three's Company"-esque humor. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Bears hire Wilkerson as assistant offensive line coach (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 11 Feb 2015 09:26:49 PST)
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -- The Chicago Bears have hired Ben Wilkerson as assistant offensive line coach.

Falcons' Shanahan says he can't wait to work with Matt Ryan (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 10 Feb 2015 16:55:32 PST)
The Falcons' new offensive coordinator can't wait to get started with Matt Ryan. Addressing the Atlanta media for the first time Tuesday, Kyle Shanahan said his job should be much easier since the team already has a franchise quarterback - a change from his previous job in Cleveland, where Brian Hoyer struggled and rookie Johnny Manziel endured a dismal season. ''Matt Ryan fits everybody's offense,'' Shanahan said. ''Johnny's a great guy,'' Shanahan said.

Buccaneers add Butch Barry as assistant OL coach (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 05 Feb 2015 16:14:47 PST)
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Former Central Michigan assistant Butch Barry is joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as assistant offensive line coach.

Which of the seven new NFL head coaches was the best hire? (Shutdown Corner)
(Thu, 05 Feb 2015 08:44:37 PST)
When Dan Quinn could finally accept the Atlanta Falcons' head-coaching job after Super Bowl XLIX, there were no more NFL vacancies. With the coaching carousel stopped (unless we get an unexpected firing this offseason), it's time to take a look at the seven teams that made a change, and figure out which team made the best hire. We're not just looking at the coach himself, but also if the team improved itself by firing its old coach and bringing in new blood: 7. Jim Tomsula, San Francisco 49ers Tomsula might be the next Don Shula; I have no idea. But what we know now is this: The 49ers ran off Jim Harbaugh, who has been incredibly successful at every stop and a top 5 NFL coach, top 10 at worst. And they replaced him with a defensive line coach who has been an NFL head coach for one game, as an interim. There’s a lot to live up to there. 6. Jack Del Rio, Oakland Raiders I felt bad for the Raiders fans when the “Jon Gruden will take the Raiders job! No, it’ll be Jim Harbaugh!” madness was happening. That was not realistic, but good job by their agents parlaying that into a lot of money for their clients. What the Raiders did get is a solid coach with a good reputation as a coordinator and some head-coaching experience (68-71 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have cratered since he was fired), and most important – Del Rio wanted the job. I’m not sure this was a grand slam hire or anything, but it was probably as good as the Raiders could have done. 5. Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons I’m always a bit leery of just taking the coordinator from the top unit. It’s probably unfair to Quinn, but it’s also fair to wonder how he’ll do without Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Bobby Wagner, Michael Bennett, K.J. Wright, Cliff Avril … you get the idea. His players love him, he came off very well during Super Bowl week, and he was a hot name. We’ll see if Atlanta made the right hire. 4. Gary Kubiak, Denver Broncos

Browns having great offseason, now perhaps in trouble for texting controversy (Shutdown Corner)
(Wed, 04 Feb 2015 10:10:40 PST)
I feel for Cleveland Browns fans. Really, I do. They deserve better than being beaten over the head with bad news repeatedly. This week alone, the Browns have announced 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel checked into a treatment facility , the NFL announced Browns receiver Josh Gordon is suspended at least a year for the latest in an amazingly long line of failed NFL's substance abuse policy tests, and now there's a report the Browns could face serious penalties over a texting allegation. In January there was a report from Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group that a high-ranking official was texting about play calls from the press box to the sideline. Not only is that amazingly out of line in common NFL protocol, it's against league rules against electronic communications during games. The report said offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan wanted to leave because of Browns' dysfunction, and one of the reasons was the texts. Shanahan is now the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator. Cabot reported Wednesday that the alleged texting Browns official was general manager Ray Farmer, and the NFL is investigating. Farmer's messages were reportedly relayed to the coaches on the sideline. Cabot wrote there could be a multi-game suspension for Farmer, a large fine or even loss of draft pick. It's not like we didn't know of the Browns' dysfunction issues before, between multiple assistants turning them down for their head-coach opening last offseason after they fired Rob Chudzinksi after one year, and the total overhaul of the front office out of the blue, but it's still pretty brutal. No matter what kind of penalties the Browns get, the reports on the whole ordeal are yet another embarrassment for a really beleaguered franchise. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Tuesday's Sports In Brief (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 04 Feb 2015 00:29:04 PST)
NFL Josh Gordon has been pushed out of bounds again by the NFL. --- UFC LOS ANGELES (AP) - Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has tested positive for steroid use.

National Football League roundup
(Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:26:27 PST)
(The Sports Xchange) - Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll indicated Tuesday that the team is negotiating a new contract with running back Marshawn Lynch. Carroll also said during a radio interview that cornerback Richard Sherman might not need Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery after all. Sherman injured the ulnar nerve on a hit by teammate Kam Chancellor in the second half of the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers. - - - New England coach Scott O'Brien will retire after 24 seasons in the NFL, including the last six seasons as the special teams coach for the Patriots.

Quinn lays out plan to bring winner to Falcons (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 03 Feb 2015 14:55:23 PST)
Two days after a startling Super Bowl loss, Dan Quinn is off to a new start with the Atlanta Falcons. The former Seattle defensive coordinator was introduced as the team's coach Tuesday, a day after he was hired and less than 48 hours after a Super Bowl loss to New England. Quinn beamed as he discussed plans for the Falcons. I can't wait to get started.'' Quinn's defenses helped lead Seattle to two straight Super Bowls.

Falcons' new coach Quinn still dealing with Super Bowl pain (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 03 Feb 2015 14:28:55 PST)
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Dan Quinn is still trying to sort out the end of the Super Bowl, even on his first day as coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

Blank says Falcons 'wrong' to add fake crowd noise to games (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 03 Feb 2015 12:42:23 PST)
Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Tuesday he has seen enough of the NFL's investigation of fake crowd noise at Atlanta's home games to acknowledge wrongdoing. The NFL is trying to determine if the Falcons pumped artificial crowd noise into the Georgia Dome for home games the last two years.

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