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Two-round NFL mock draft: Trade speculation heats up in top 10 picks (Shutdown Corner)
(Thu, 16 Apr 2015 07:21:44 PDT)
What has happened since our last NFL mock draft ? Not a ton outside of some wild rumors and baseless chatter — the fun stuff! — about Team X liking Player Y and the like. But we’ve been gathering information behind the scenes, double-checking our lists and circling back on prospects we missed the first time around. And with it comes another two-round mock draft, this one two weeks prior to liftoff on April 30: 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers  — Florida State QB Jameis Winston Although the team has gone out of its way to point out that it is examining all avenues, and wild rumors tend to catch wind this time of year,. we believe this pick has been solid since head coach Lovie Smith essentially signed off on Winston’s character at the NFL scouting combine, even if some higher-ups are a little skittish. 2. Tennessee Titans — Oregon QB Marcus Mariota We don’t believe the Titans will be making this pick themselves, but rather another team — the San Diego Chargers have been our wild-card pick here for weeks, and the St. Louis Rams should not be ignored — trading up to pick in this spot. If the Titans stand pat, we think they’d select USC’s Leonard Williams, for what it’s worth. 3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Clemson OLB Vic Beasley Dante Fowler Jr.  said he’d be stunned if he wasn’t the third pick. Well, Dante, prepare your best “stunned” face. Yes, the Jaguars threw a changeup with Blake Bortles in this same slot a year ago, and we would not be shocked if it’s happening again. It’s either Beasley or Williams in our eyes, and Beasley is the bigger need in the Jaguars’ “Leo” pass rusher role. 4. Oakland Raiders — USC DE Leonard Williams If you’ve been following our mocks, we’ve etched in a receiver here consistently. But that was on the premise that Williams was gone. Given that Williams is the rare player who openly has campaigned for the Raiders to take him — and that he’d fill a need, too — we feel like it must happen. The Raiders can get their wideout(s) later. 5. Washington Redskins — Florida DE Dante Fowler Jr. New Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan fills a major hole opposite Ryan Kerrigan now that Brian Orakpo is gone. Trent Murphy is a nice player, but don’t be fooled; he’s nowhere near the all-around force Fowler is. This also is a strong trade-down slot if the right deal materializes. Otherwise, we also could see a safe pick such as Iowa’s Brandon Scherff. 6. New York Jets — Alabama WR Amari Cooper There’s no glaring need at receiver with Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall and Jeremy Kerley currently manning the top three slots. But what better way to boost Geno Smith (or Ryan Fitzpatrick) than with a front-line playmaker such as Cooper? He’s silky smooth, polished and a nice complement to the size of Decker and Marshall and the underneath ability of Kerley. Plus, Marshall currently is a one-year investment, and the Jets could walk away from either Decker or Kerley after this season without getting crushed on the salary cap. We could see this very safe, very smart maiden pick by new GM Mike Maccagnan. 7. Chicago Bears — West Virginia WR Kevin White The Bears would be in a win-win position, able to pick between the draft’s top two receivers and its best nose tackle in Danny Shelton. With new GM Ryan Pace spending most of his time this offseason sprucing up the defense, he shifts gears and gives Alshon Jeffery a running mate who could be a perfect replacement for Marshall — without the headaches. White’s character checks with NFL teams have been off-the-charts good, a total departure from the wideout he'd be replacing.

NFL: American football's hall of shame
(Thu, 16 Apr 2015 02:18:01 PDT)
The murder conviction of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez has cast another shadow over the image of the National Football League after a year of lurid headlines involving prominent players. Aaron Hernandez appeared to have the world at his feet in 2013 after signing a five-year, $40 million contract with the New England Patriots. The two-time Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens linebacker was charged with murder along with two friends following an altercation in Atlanta in 2000 which left two people stabbed to death. The former Carolina Panthers wide receiver was just embarking on a promising NFL career in the late 1990s when was charged with conspiracy to murder, ultimately leading to his 2001 conviction.

NFL rap sheet lengthens after Hernandez conviction
(Thu, 16 Apr 2015 02:16:43 PDT)
Murder, rape, domestic violence, weapons charges, drug crime and animal cruelty: National Football League stars past and present have accumulated an ever-lengthening rap sheet over the years. For some, the murder conviction of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez on Wednesday confirms the view that American football is the red light district of professional sport. Others point to figures that indicate a "crime problem" in the NFL isn't as clear cut as the stream of lurid headlines suggests. The case of Hernandez, who also faces murder charges for the killing of two men in 2012, is just the latest in a long line to tarnish the image of the NFL.

NFL Draft Needs: Schedule (Rotoworld)
(Wed, 15 Apr 2015 21:01:00 PDT)
Josh Norris and Evan Silva break down every team?s needs and which players fit those needs. Check out the weekly schedule.

NFL Transactions Tracker (Rotoworld)
(Tue, 14 Apr 2015 22:38:00 PDT)
Nick Mensio keeps track of every offseason transaction for all 32 teams.

New Falcons coach Dan Quinn off to quick start (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 09 Apr 2015 16:37:50 PDT)
New Falcons coach Dan Quinn did more than just say hello to his players in the first team meeting this week. Since replacing Mike Smith on Feb. 2, Quinn has looked forward to the first meeting, and he says it met expectations. In Quinn, Atlanta gets a respected coordinator who helped Seattle win a Super Bowl and a two NFC titles the last two seasons with the league's top defense. Quinn believes the Falcons have filled big personnel holes with free-agent signings of outside linebackers Brooks Reed and Justin Durant.

Dick Wood, who was Dolphins' 1st QB, dies at age 79 (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 07 Apr 2015 15:56:44 PDT)
Dick Wood, the first starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, has died at the age of 79. He played for the expansion Dolphins in 1966, his final season in the AFL, and threw four touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. When with the Jets, he became the first player to throw a touchdown pass at Shea Stadium. He also played for the Raiders, Chargers and Broncos, with 33 career starts, after a college career at Auburn.

Colts, free agent safety Dwight Lowery agree to terms (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 03 Apr 2015 18:27:09 PDT)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indianapolis Colts have found another potential starting safety in free agency, agreeing to terms with Dwight Lowery.

NFL-National Football League roundup
(Fri, 03 Apr 2015 17:18:49 PDT)
The NFL has hired its first female official, Sarah Thomas, in a ground-breaking move, according to the Baltimore Sun. Thomas, who became the first female to officiate an NCAA football game in 2007, has previously been a finalist for the NFL job. She has been working in the NFL's Officiating Development Program. The NFL did not confirm the report but also did not deny it. "When it is, the new officials for 2015 and the entire roster will be announced." - - - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded safety Dashon Goldson to the Washington Redskins for an undisclosed selection in the 2016 draft.

Falcons' safety Zeke Motta waived after missing 2014 season (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 02 Apr 2015 12:01:06 PDT)
The Atlanta Falcons have waived safety Zeke Motta, who missed the 2014 season with a neck injury. Motta, a seventh-round pick from Notre Dame in 2013, had a promising start to his career when he played in 10 games, including one start, as a rookie. Motta was placed on the physically unable to participate list before the 2014 season. He was a team captain at Notre Dame.

Cowboys bring back linebacker McClain on 1-year contract (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:55:08 PDT)
Rolando McClain revived his career with a solid season in Dallas. Now the linebacker will return for at least one more year with the Cowboys. McClain, a former top 10 pick who flamed out after just three seasons in Oakland, signed a one-year contract Wednesday, the team reported on its website. His presence played a significant role in the improvement of a defense that was among the worst in NFL history in 2013.

NFL Draft Needs: Falcons (Rotoworld)
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 09:27:00 PDT)
Evan Silva and Josh Norris walk through the Falcons' top three needs and offer options for each of their draft picks.

Where will Peterson Land? (Rotoworld)
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 10:39:00 PDT)
Jesse Pantuosco analyzes Adrian Peterson's potential destinations for next season.

Monday's Sports In Brief (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 00:01:18 PDT)
WOMEN'S NCAA TOURNAMENT ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Getting to the Final Four never gets old for Geno Auriemma and his UConn Huskies. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 27 points to help UConn beat Dayton 91-70 in the Albany Regional final to advance to the national semifinals for an eighth straight season. Unlike the first three games of the tournament when UConn won by an average of nearly 48 points, the Huskies got all they could handle from the seventh-seeded Flyers, who weren't intimidated by the top seed for the game's first 20 minutes.

Demaryius Thomas says he'll skip offseason workouts (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:26:52 PDT)
Peyton Manning will have to do without his top target this offseason unless the Denver Broncos reach an agreement with Demaryius Thomas on a long-term contract. Thomas said he'll stay in Georgia, where he'll continue rehabbing his right ankle, which was hurt Dec. 3 when a teammate stepped on him, hampering him down the stretch. Thomas echoed general manager John Elway's recent assertion that the goal was to get a long-term deal done ''as soon as possible.'' If the talks do reach an impasse, he said he'd sign the Broncos' $12.8 million franchise tender by the July 15 deadline. A prolonged boycott by Thomas could hamper the installation of new coach Gary Kubiak's offense that will feature Manning's tactical and timing proficiencies while placing a greater emphasis on the run and two-tight end sets.

Falcons fined, lose draft pick for pumping in fake noise (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:38:24 PDT)
In the midst of two losing seasons, the Atlanta Falcons tried to pump up the noise. The NFL announced Monday that it had fined the team $350,000, stripped away a draft pick and suspended team president Rich McKay from the league's powerful Competition Committee for at least three months after the Falcons conceded pumping artificial crowd noise into the Georgia Dome. For owner Arthur Blank, the whole episode has been a huge embarrassment on top of firing long-time coach Mike Smith after last season and dealing with criticism over a pricey seat-licensing plan to help fund the team's new stadium. ''Anytime there are actions that compromise the integrity of the NFL or threaten the culture of our franchise, as this issue did, they will be dealt with swiftly and strongly.'' Throughout the 2013 season and into the 2014 season, according to the NFL, the Falcons violated league rules that state ''at no point during the game can artificial crowd noise or amplified crowd noise be played in the stadium.'' The league also said Roddy White, the team's former director of event marketing, was directly responsible for the violation and would have been suspended without pay for the first eight weeks of the 2015 regular season had he still been with the club.

NFL's Falcons fined, stripped of draft choice for piping in fake noise
(Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:27:06 PDT)
The National Football League on Monday fined the Atlanta Falcons $350,000 and stripped them of a fifth-round draft choice in 2016 for piping in artificial crowd noise during their home games in 2013 and part of 2014. Separately, Cleveland Browns General Manager Ray Farmer has been suspended four games for texting coaches during games in 2014 and the team was fined $250,000, the NFL said. Falcons President Rich McKay, although not implicated in the scheme, will be suspended from the league's competition committee from April 1 through at least June 30 for failing to ensure that the team complied with NFL rules, the league said. "What took place was wrong and nowhere near the standards by which we run our business," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Monday in a statement.

Falcons lose draft pick for artificial crowd noise
(Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:12:31 PDT)
The Atlanta Falcons were fined $350,000 and stripped of a fifth-round pick in the 2016 National Football League draft on Monday for using artificial crowd noise for the past two seasons. A review by league officials concluded with the NFL imposing the punishments because a former Falcons executive, event marketing director Roddy White, pumped extra crowd noise into the Georgia Dome for home games in the 2013 and 2014 season until the situations was revealed last November. "What took place was wrong and nowhere near the standards by which we run our business," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said. "Any time there are actions that compromise the integrity of the NFL or threaten the culture of our franchise, as this issue did, they will be dealt with swiftly and strongly.

Falcons to lose draft pick, but Browns won't for their crime (Shutdown Corner)
(Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:30:28 PDT)
There had been a little debate going around league circles the past few months. Which was the worse crime: Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer found guilty of texting down from the booth to the sideline or the Atlanta Falcons guilty of piping in crowd noise during games? It turns out that the Falcons got the worst of it, losing a draft pick while the Browns didn't. The Falcons will lose a fifth-round pick in 2016 for the crowd noise controversy, ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure said. Falcons president Rich McKay was suspended from the NFL's competition committee, effective April 1. He can't be reinstated until June 30 at the earliest, McClure reported. McKay has been on the competition committee the past 21 years. Roddy White, the former director of event marketing (no, not the Falcons receiver, there were actually two Roddy Whites in the organziation ) was found to be solely responsible for pumping in the crowd noise and he'll get an eight-game suspension to be served if he lands another NFL job, McClure said . Even though White was responsible, McKay oversees the game-day operations. The Falcons were also fined $350,000. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer confirmed the Browns' punishment: A $250,000 fine to the organization and a four-game suspension without pay for Farmer. The reason the Browns didn't lose a pick, apparently, was that ownership and other team executives didn't know of Farmer's actions. That's why most of the punishment came down on Farmer himself. Is McKay's spot with the Falcons in jeopardy? That much is not clear. He's working closely with the team's newly formed AMB Sports & Entertainment Group, which will oversee the Falcons' new stadium development. But this latest incident will not go over well with owner Arthur Blank, and it's clearly a team in transition with a new head coach and a reformed front-office structure. What about Farmer with the Browns? This incident alone might not be cause for termination, but if the Browns flounder and Farmer's recent draft haul and free-agent additions don't pan out, that might be enough for this rudderless ship of a team to make yet another tack in the flight plan. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Shaun King's mock draft 2.0: Amari Cooper holds WR lead; Randy Gregory remains in top 10 (Yahoo Sports)
(Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:27:34 PDT)
There are varying opinions regarding the best WR in this year's draft. All would be upgrades for Oakland, but Cooper represents the least risk.

Falcons' free-agent plan may include keeping Julio Jones (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 24 Mar 2015 15:54:39 PDT)
The Falcons' financially conservative approach to this year's free-agent signings may have been influenced by hopes of keeping star wide receiver Julio Jones from leaving next year. Jones can be a free agent following the 2015 season. The Falcons exercised their option on the fifth year of Jones' contract at about $10 million for 2015. A new deal for Jones will be costly, especially following his successful recovery from the broken foot which limited him to only five games in 2013.

NFL mock draft: Resetting Rounds 1 and 2 after free agency (Shutdown Corner)
(Tue, 24 Mar 2015 12:50:02 PDT)
With free agency 2015 on life support and the majority of the top talents off the board, NFL teams’ needs have been reshuffled. Now the draft has come squarely into focus, with only a few major veteran options — hello, Adrian Peterson — likely to seismically alter the course from this point on. Here’s a look (without any projected trades, mind you) of how the first two rounds could go with about five weeks until the draft: 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers  — Florida State QB Jameis Winston Lovie Smith is playing coy with his team’s draft board, and though a team source told Shutdown Corner no final decision has been made on the pick, it’s believed to be Winston. Maybe the Bucs get blown away with a trade offer, but that’s not likely to happen. Instead, they’ll roll the dice on greatness and find ways to protect Winston and shield him from the distractions of being in the NFL spotlight. 2. Tennessee Titans — USC DT-DE Leonard Williams Our gut feeling right now is that the Titans are not enamored with Marcus Mariota. Short of finding a long-term solution at QB, they’ll instead continue to upgrade a front seven that should be markedly better with Williams, Jurrell Casey, Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo and Co. on the attack. The Titans don’t have the most daunting opposing quarterbacks on their schedule this season and should hope to win close games with defense.   3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Florida DE Dante Fowler Jr. Finding an edge rusher will be one of the primary goals for Gus Bradley, David Caldwell and crew after a fruitful free-agency period. They are seeking to add depth across the board, but they need someone to come rip off the front side and live in the backfield. Even if he plays only 40-50 snaps a game, Fowler and his hot motor will be a huge upgrade. 4. Oakland Raiders — West Virginia WR Kevin White The Raiders didn't land a front-line receiver in free agency and will need to find someone who can help Derek Carr grow. White has been the prospect who has ascended the most in the past calendar year and he fits the old-school Raiders mold of the height-weight-speed prospect who also plays angry. A perfect fit, just edging out the smoother, less explosive Amari Cooper. 5. Washington Redskins — Clemson OLB Vic Beasley New Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan surprised many when he took Aldon Smith with the seventh pick in the draft in 2011 and he could open eyes again by taking Beasley here over a few more hyped pass-rush prospects. Beasley might not have Smith’s length, but he has the rare burst to give the Redskins its first pair of 10-sack players (with Ryan Kerrigan coming off the other side) since 2009. 6. New York Jets — Georgia RB Todd Gurley Shocked? Don’t be. Oh, the Jets are not likely to take Gurley, coming off ACL surgery, this high in the draft. But the Jets brass — which are working out Mariota at week’s end up in Oregon — won’t take a quarterback high if they are not blown away. Instead, they’ll select the player who could be the quarterback’s best friend in time if Gurley's knee looks good at the Indianapolis medical re-test next month. Although I am not projecting trades, the Cleveland Browns could be a team interested in moving into this spot for Mariota, and Gurley still could be on the board when the Jets swing back around. There's also a rumble that the Miami Dolphins are high on Gurley.

Proposal to owners: order unstable player off field (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 24 Mar 2015 01:58:15 PDT)
The NFL might be giving more power to its in-game medical observers. On a busy Monday when the league announced it would drop local TV blackouts for the 2015 season, player safety and catches vs. no catches also were prime topics. After looking at video of that situation and several similar ones, the NFL's powerful competition committee is proposing a change. ''We've got the (medical) spotters,'' said Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons and co-chairman of the committee.

Dynasty Stock: 10 Sell Highs (Rotoworld)
(Sun, 22 Mar 2015 13:46:00 PDT)
Nick Mensio makes the case for 10 players to sell high on in Dynasty leagues.

Silva's Pre-Draft Top 150 (Rotoworld)
(Sun, 22 Mar 2015 10:04:00 PDT)
Evan Silva takes a preliminary stand on the Top 150 non-rookies for the 2015 fantasy football season.

Revisiting FA Predictions (Rotoworld)
(Fri, 20 Mar 2015 00:02:00 PDT)
Jesse Pantuosco revisits his predictions after a busy free agency period.

Jets' Smith, Simms to get QB snaps while Fitzpatrick rehabs (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 19 Mar 2015 10:43:24 PDT)
The New York Jets' quarterback competition might not heat up until the summer. While newly acquired Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to rehabilitate from a broken leg, Geno Smith and Matt Simms are expected to get most of the snaps during offseason workouts. Fitzpatrick, traded from Houston for a conditional seventh-round draft pick last week, is expected to be fully healthy by training camp and compete with Smith for the quarterback job. Fitzpatrick broke his left leg during a game against Indianapolis on Dec. 14.

Falcons find help at tight end by signing Jacob Tamme (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 19 Mar 2015 08:55:02 PDT)
The Atlanta Falcons have signed free agent Jacob Tamme, looking for help at tight end one year after the retirement of Tony Gonzalez. Tamme had 14 catches for 109 and two touchdowns with the Denver Broncos last season. He set career highs with 67 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns with quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colts in 2010. Tamme has 178 catches and 10 touchdowns in seven seasons with the Colts and Broncos.

Falcons re-sign 2014 sacks leader Kroy Biermann (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 18 Mar 2015 20:59:33 PDT)
The Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday re-signed defensive end Kroy Biermann, who led the team in sacks last season. Biermann (6-3, 255) was a fifth-round pick from Montana in 2008. Biermann may not have been seen as a perfect fit at defensive end or linebacker in the team's new 4-3 scheme. He can provide flexibility, depth and special teams help for new coach Dan Quinn and defensive coordinator Richard Smith.

Significant replay rules changes proposed in NFL (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 18 Mar 2015 14:22:02 PDT)
New England even proposed that everything except scoring plays or turnovers be challengeable. Washington suggested increasing a coach's number of challenges from two to three, regardless of whether he is successful on an early challenge. The Lions felt burned by a flag against the Dallas defense that was picked up in Detroit's loss in January. St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the powerful committee, made it clear that his peers wouldn't favor such a change.

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