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SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Chargers didn’t score an offensive touchdown and it didn’t matter against the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night.
The Chargers forged ahead early and cruised past the Cardinals, 19-3.
With Carson Palmer limited to three series and Philip Rivers not playing, the first half was mostly a competition between veteran backup quarterbacks Kellen Clemens and Drew Stanton.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was on the sideline for the game.
Arians was released from the hospital on Wednesday after an overnight stay. The 63-year-old coach was taken to the hospital Tuesday night after complaining of stomach pain as the Cardinals prepared for a joint practice.
“I’m fine,” Arians said after the game.
On their way to a 16-0 halftime lead, the Chargers (1-1) took advantage of two turnovers for 10 first-quarter points.
Brandon Flowers intercepted Palmer’s pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
“The defense started fast and that’s what we wanted to do,” Flowers said.
“You don’t let it frustrate you,” Palmer said. “You just continue to find ways to get better and look at all the areas that are good, look at all the areas that are bad and evaluate then and move forward.”
Stanton was then picked off in his first series by Jahleel Addae. He brought it back 61 yards to the Arizona 9. The Chargers settled for a 20-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.
Kicker Josh Lambo was the game’s key offensive player. He made four field goals to pace the Chargers.
One week after allowing a league-high 288 rushing yards, the Chargers limited the Cardinals to 63.
Chandler Catanzaro made a 52-yard field goal for Arizona (0-2).
REDSKINS 22, JETS 18
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Even though the Washington Redskins rested several key starters, they couldn’t avoid injuries in their second preseason game.
With quarterback Kirk Cousins, receiver DeSean Jackson and cornerback Josh Norman watching from the sideline, top running back Matt Jones left in the first quarter of the Redskins’ 22-18 victory over the New York Jets with a sprained left shoulder.
Jones couldn’t raise his hand above his head even after the game, but coach Jay Gruden was cautiously optimistic about the situation.
“We’ll continue to get him checked out, get rehab and hopefully it won’t be too long,” Gruden said. “It’s a little upsetting, but I think he’s going to be OK. I don’t think it’s going to be a long injury.”
Jones looked good with 31 yards on seven carries before Calvin Pryor landed on him after pushing him out of bounds. The Redskins (1-1) can ill afford to lose Jones given their lack of experienced depth behind him.
Third-down back Chris Thompson, rookies Robert Kelley and Keith Marshall and second-year player Mack Brown split the bulk of the carries after Jones left. Wide receiver Rashad Ross was among the standouts for Washington with seven catches, including two touchdowns, for 58 yards.
“I thought Ross played outstanding,” said quarterback Colt McCoy, who learned he was starting as he came out of the tunnel before the game and was 13 of 16 for 159 yards. “Ross brings speed to the table, and that’s a big asset. When he uses it that way, it’s good for the offense.”
Having all of the options is better for the offense, but Gruden opted to rest Cousins, Jackson and Pierre Garcon — and Norman, cornerback Bashaud Breeland and linebackers Will Compton and Ryan Kerrigan on defense — to see other players in important spots.
The Jets (1-1) saw good things out of undrafted rookie receiver Robby Anderson, who made six catches for 131 yards. The Temple product hauled in a 50-yard pass from third-stringer Bryce Petty and made a 42-yard touchdown catch.
“He’s got a very, very sneaky way of making hard catches look easy,” Petty said. “He’s made a bunch of those catches in practice, so it’s nice to see that transition to the game.”
Cornerback Darrelle Revis made an impact in his preseason debut, picking off McCoy in the end zone during Washington’s opening drive. Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was 4 of 9 for 35 yards, and Bilal Powell ran for 23 yards on three carries.
Rookie Nate Sudfeld led Washington on the game-winning drive, completing it with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kendal Thompson with 29 seconds left.
COWBOYS 41, DOLPHINS 14
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tony Romo led a touchdown drive in his preseason debut once the Dallas offense stopped committing holding penalties, rookie backup quarterback Dak Prescott had a strong encore and Ryan Tannehill finally got the Miami Dolphins moving.
Alfred Morris finished the second of Romo’s two possessions with a 15-yard scoring run before Prescott ran for two touchdowns and threw for two scores, including another one to Dez Bryant, in the Cowboys’ 41-14 exhibition victory Friday night.
Tannehill had two scoring tosses to Kenny Stills.
Dallas (1-1) had three holding penalties in the first five plays of an opening drive that stalled. Then Romo completed all three passes, including a pair to trusty tight end Jason Witten, before the scoring run from Morris, who had 13 carries for 85 yards.
Romo was 4 of 5 for 49 yards, and the Dallas offense had 300 yards at halftime.
“It was a good start. We needed that,” Witten said. “It’s been a long offseason. We have Tony leading the way. We had a lot of energy.”
Tannehill, who played late into the first half with the Dolphins (1-1) trying to move past a rough opener for the first-team offense last week, had scoring passes of 13 and 3 yards to Stills. Tannehill led another drive inside the 5 that ended on downs and finished 12 of 20 for 162 yards.
“I liked the mentality that he had going into that first half,” first-year coach Adam Gase said. “I liked the fact that the ones wanted to stay in and do another series. That’s what I wanted to see.”
Prescott has two touchdowns passes in each of the two preseason games and is 22 of 27 for 338 yards without an interception after completing his first eight passes following a 10-of-12 showing in his NFL debut against the Los Angeles Rams last week.
The fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State had a 20-yard scoring run and a 1-yard sneak that was held up on review. Prescott tossed a short touchdown pass to Brice Butler the play after a 58-yarder to the speedy wideout.
Prescott had an overthrow for what would have been his first interception in the second quarter, but it was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty against Andre Branch.
“It’s been a great start for him, and he’s excited about it,” Romo said. “You just keep building on it every day, but you can’t ask for a better start.”
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Ken Stabler built a Hall of Fame career on moments more than raw numbers.
Stabler threw more interceptions than touchdowns, completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes, and posted a quarterback rating of 90 or better just twice in 15 NFL seasons.
Yet Stabler was the offensive leader of the great Oakland Raiders teams of the 1970s, helping the team win its first Super Bowl and make it to four other conference championship games in a five-year span.
“Sometimes we forget how smart Kenny Stabler was,” his former coach John Madden said. “He was a brilliant quarterback with a brilliant football mind. He would set things up. There’s a thing that they don’t even judge anymore, called field general. Ken Stabler was a true field general. The offensive players really believed and followed him. Anything that came out of his mouth, they totally believed.”
Madden called the shaggy-haired Stabler, whose wild style on the field and off helped earn him the nickname “The Snake,” the perfect Raider. Madden said if he had one drive to win a game and could choose any quarterback who ever played to lead it, Stabler would be his choice.
“The hotter the game, the hotter I got, and Kenny was truly just the opposite; the hotter the game, the cooler he became,” Madden said.
That calm demeanor helped Stabler play a key role in some of the NFL’s most famous moments — so much so they are universally known by their nicknames.
Stabler scored the go-ahead touchdown in the “Immaculate Reception” playoff game against Pittsburgh in 1972 that ended with Franco Harris’ improbable touchdown and a Steelers victory.
His late TD pass that Clarence Davis caught in a “Sea of Hands” helped knock out two-time defending champion Miami the next season. Stabler’s late “Ghost to the Post” pass to Dave Casper in the 1977 playoffs helped force overtime against Baltimore in a game Oakland finally won in the second extra period.
And his heady play to fumble forward in the closing seconds of a regular-season game against San Diego in 1978 led to a touchdown by Casper on a play forever known as the “Holy Roller” that led to a rule change the following season.
“The cat was a cool, calm and collected guy,” said his former receiver Cliff Branch. “He was a chess player on the football field and he put people in checkmate in a minute on the defensive end.”
The only thing missing when Stabler is inducted into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 6 will be Stabler himself. The honor comes just over a year after he died in July 2015 died at age 69 from complications of colon cancer. Stabler also suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a form of repetitive brain trauma, according to his family.
“I told my wife, we’ll just dig him up and prop him in a chair at the Hall of Fame so he can enjoy it,” said former Raiders receiver Fred Biletnikoff. “I’m excited about it. I can’t wait to go back there this year and go through that whole process and watch the excitement in his family’s face.”
Stabler was elected in February by the Seniors Committee as the capper to a career that started when he was a second-round draft pick out of Alabama and the second quarterback selected by the Raiders after Eldgridge Dickey in the 1968 draft.
After spending most of his first four seasons as a backup. Stabler became the starter in 1973. He was the NFL MVP in 1974, then won the Super Bowl following the 1976 season as he put the Raiders right up alongside Pittsburgh and Miami as the class of the AFC.
Stabler is the Raiders’ all-time leader in yards passing and TD passes. He finished his 15-year career with Houston and New Orleans, but will most definitely remembered as a Raider.
It took his death last summer for Stabler to get another shot at the Hall of Fame honor his teammates believe was long overdue.
“I always believed that Kenny should have been in the Hall of Fame before,” Biletnikoff said. “I know it’s a tough process for guys to get into the Hall of Fame. I was always disappointed that his name wasn’t brought up to the top year after year. I know it was there, but it was never a big factor. This year with that happening, I love it. I know it means the world to his family.”
FILE – In this Jan. 9, 1977, file photo, Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler celebrates completing a touchdown pass en route to his team’s 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL football Super Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The only thing missing when Stabler is inducted into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 6, 2016, will be Stabler himself. (AP Photo/File)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Von Miller got a monstrous contract, befitting a sack-happy Super Bowl MVP. Muhammad Wilkerson and Justin Tucker also received big paydays, shedding their franchise tags and getting new deals.
Kirk Cousins, Alshon Jeffery, Eric Berry and Trumaine Johnson, however, will all be playing this season under the value of their tags after they and their teams failed to agree on long-term contracts by the NFL’s Friday deadline.
Miller and Denver spent the offseason in a contract stare down this season, but the sides agreed to a six-year, $114.5 million deal that includes $70 million guaranteed.
Miller and agent Joby Branion parlayed patience into a record-breaking deal in terms of overall value and guarantees. The outside linebacker received $23 million at signing and will earn $61 million over the first eight months of the blockbuster deal that makes him the highest-paid player outside of quarterbacks in NFL history.
Miller’s camp had rejected the $38.5 million the Broncos offered in guarantees, and Miller threatened to sit out the season barring a long-term deal. About two hours before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline, the cornerstone of the league’s best defense accepted the Broncos’ blockbuster offer and tweeted a photo of himself in his orange No. 58 jersey with the caption “For Life.”
In a statement, Miller thanked general manager John Elway, team owner Pat Bowlen, president and CEO Joe Ellis and coach Gary Kubiak.
“I’m also thankful for the way my teammates and our fans have supported me,” Miller said. “I’m excited for the future and ready to get back to work.”
The New York Jets pulled off a last-minute stunner, signing Wilkerson to a five-year extension shortly before the deadline.
Wilkerson had a career-high 12 sacks last season and was selected for his first Pro Bowl, but was unable to play after breaking his right leg in the season finale at Buffalo. The 2011 first-round draft pick said he was frustrated at not receiving a new deal from the Jets, who instead placed the franchise tag on him.
But just as many fans began to take to social media, upset at a deal not getting done, the Jets announced on Twitter that they had signed Wilkerson to a multiyear contract. The deal is worth more than $85 million, including $37 million in guarantees through the first two years, according to a person familiar with the contract. Through three years of the deal, Wilkerson will be paid $54 million in guaranteed money, added the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team does not announce financial terms of contracts.
“I give my all every Sunday on the field and play with so much love and passion for the game,” Wilkerson wrote on Twitter. “I’m thankful for everything that comes my way and proud to say I’m back on the green and white for a few more years.”
Tucker and the Baltimore Ravens agreed to a four-year contract, announced late Friday afternoon by the team.
Since joining the Ravens as a free agent in 2012, Tucker has made 130 of his 148 field goal tries — an 87.8 percent success rate that is second-best in NFL history. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2013 after making 38 of 41 field goal attempts, including a 61-yarder that beat the Detroit Lions
“Justin has become a cornerstone for our team, and we are happy to get this contract completed,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said.
Cousins will earn $19.95 million this season while playing under the franchise tag for Washington after the sides failed to agree on a long-term contract. Franchised players who didn’t sign deals by Friday now must wait until the offseason to re-open negotiations.
He’ll be the first quarterback to play a season on the tag since San Diego’s Drew Brees in 2005.
The 27-year-old Cousins started all 16 regular-season games for the Redskins last season, throwing for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns with 11 interceptions last season. In 30 career NFL games, the 2012 fourth-round pick has thrown 47 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.
Jeffery will be paid $14.6 million this season by Chicago. He missed seven games last season with injuries, but still led the team with 54 catches and 807 receiving yards while scoring four touchdowns. His per-game average of 89.7 receiving yards was the seventh-best mark in the NFL.
Kansas City general manager John Dorsey announced in a statement released by the team on Twitter that the Chiefs and Berry were unable to reach a long-term deal. Berry, the NFL Comeback Player of the Year last season after being diagnosed in November 2014 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, will play this season under the tag worth $10.8 million.
“Although both sides would have preferred a different outcome, Eric is a true professional and a tremendous football player, and we know that he will continue to be a leader in our locker room,” Dorsey said. “We look forward to resuming our discussions on a long-term agreement when the negotiating window reopens after the season.”
The Los Angeles Rams and Johnson also couldn’t close on a deal Friday, meaning the cornerback will under play his tag value, worth $13.952 million.
In four NFL seasons, Johnson has 15 interceptions, including seven last year in a breakout season for the Rams after being a third-round draft pick out of Montana in 2012.
AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton, and AP Sports Writers David Ginsburg and Stephen Whyno contributed to this report
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BATAVIA, N.Y. (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took the air out of reaching a settlement with Tom Brady following the Patriots star quarterback’s latest appeal of the league’s four-game “Deflategate” suspension.
“At this stage, no,” Goodell said Monday, noting there have been several previous bids to reach a settlement. “The courts will make their decisions, and we’ll move forward on that basis.”
Goodell spoke while attending Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s 30th annual charitable golf tournament being held outside of Buffalo.
The comments were Goodell’s first in two weeks since Brady’s lawyers asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a new hearing before an expanded panel of judges. The request comes after a three-judge panel in April reinstated Brady’s suspension for what the NFL ruled was the quarterback’s role in using underinflated footballs during the 2015 AFC championship game.
The type of appeal Brady is seeking is rarely granted.
Brady’s lawyers argue Goodell is biased because he was responsible for initial suspension and then backed his decision when the quarterback lodged an appeal. Brady was officially informed of his initial suspension by NFL Executive Vice President Troy Vincent.
Two of the three 2nd Circuit judges ruled the players had negotiated away their right to an impartial arbiter when they agreed to allow the commissioner to hear appeals.
Goodell was pleased with the judges backing his authority, though disappointed by the slow pace it’s taken in reaching a resolution.
“If there’s a better system (of appeals), we’ll do it, but when it comes to the integrity of the game, that’s the responsibility of the commissioner,” Goodell said. “And we’re not going to hand that integrity of the game off to somebody who doesn’t have any involvement in the game.”
Questions over the NFL commissioner’s authority as defined in the collective bargaining agreement were raised by sports attorney David Cornwell in 2009, when he was one of four finalists to replace the late Gene Upshaw as the NFL Players Association’s executive director.
Cornwell called the league’s disciplinary policy “draconian” and argued the process requires independent oversight.
DeMaurice Smith won the election and remains the NFLPA’s chief.
Goodell touched on several other topics including the status of the Oakland Raiders considering the possibility of relocating to Las Vegas.
Goodell said he’d prefer the Raiders staying in Oakland, but noted Las Vegas as being one of several sites the team is considering.
As for the Chargers’ future in San Diego, Goodell favors the team reaching a deal to have a new stadium built downtown. The first step is having the issue placed on ballot and voted upon in November.
“We’re going to be meeting with them in a couple of weeks. I think there’s real progress out there, but these projects are hard,” Goodell said. “Ultimately, it’s the community’s solution and the community’s decision.”
In Buffalo, Goodell said Bills’ new owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, are exploring their options as to whether a new stadium is required to keep their franchise competitive in the long term.
Ralph Wilson Stadium opened in 1973 and has undergone numerous renovations, with the latest upgrade costing $130 million in 2014.
The Pegulas proposed the possibility of building a new stadium during their successful bid in purchasing the team from the estate of late Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson in 2014.
Last summer, Terry Pegula said he was in no rush to build a new stadium, and noted there was plenty of time to devise a plan under the stadium’s current lease, which runs through 2022.
FILe – In this Aug. 31, 2015, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell leaves Federal court in New York. Goodell says he sees no avenue right now for a settlement with Tom Brady as the star Patriots quarterback appeals his four-game “Deflategate” suspension. Goodell told reporters Monday, June 6, 2016, that the league will move forward based on whether the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides to grant Brady’s request for the full court to re-hear the case. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Mark Sanchez wasn’t about to let a weight room mishap keep him from running the Denver Broncos’ offense when the Super Bowl champs began OTAs.
Sanchez donned a black wrap on his surgically repaired left thumb and got in plenty of work Tuesday, defying the odds and enjoying some cachet among his teammates.
“That’s what you like to see in a competitor,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said.
Sanchez tore a thumb ligament on his non-throwing hand on May 13 and underwent surgery 48 hours later. He was originally expected to miss the start of organized team activities this week, which might have stalled his quest to win the starting job ahead of first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch and second-year pro Trevor Siemian.
Instead, he led the way during individual and 7-on-7 drills before giving way to Lynch and Siemian during the team periods.
“Anytime you’re not in there full go, you’re just itching to get back into the swing of things,” Sanchez said. “But this was better than nothing and we’ll just take it smart, slow and steady.”
Coach Gary Kubiak said it was obviously important for Sanchez to lead the offense during Denver’s first practice since the Broncos hoisted the Lombardi Trophy back on Feb. 7.
“Oh, I thought it was huge,” said Sanchez, who termed his injury a “minor setback” and “no big deal” and soon he’ll look back on it and “it will be nothing.”
This was the first real opportunity for Sanchez to face the league’s top defense, the one that throttled Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl.
“There’s not a lot of room out there on the field,” Sanchez said. “Those guys cover ground quickly and there’s a reason they got so much publicity last year.”
When Sanchez retreated to the sideline, Lynch and Siemian showed off strong arms.
Whereas Sanchez drew kudos for playing hurt, Lynch was quick to make a strong impression himself.
“The rookie looked really good,” receiver Emmanuel Sanders said.
“He looked like, hey, that’s why we drafted him in the first round,” safety Darian Stewart said. “He definitely has what it takes.”
And what about Siemian, who was a seventh-rounder in 2015 and has but one snap to his pro resume? He has the most experience in Kubiak’s system and it certainly showed.
“Not many guys are asking about him, but I’m really excited about Trevor,” Kubiak said. “He’s got a chance to be a really good player. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He basically took the first group today.”
Harris said Siemian “has a great maturity to him.”
“He’s kind of a sleeper I would say because of course Mark and Paxton are going to be the headlines but Trevor, man, he knows the offense, and he’s very comfortable and he can throw the ball, too,” Harris said. “And we’ve also seen him make big plays in the preseason games under the lights. So, I wouldn’t sleep on Trevor winning the job, either.”
Lynch, who hit Jordan Taylor with his first TD pass as a pro, is adjusting to the West Coast offense after running the spread at Memphis. So, he’s going to have to adjust to making calls and reading defenses at the line of scrimmage and while backpedaling after taking the snap from under center rather than in the shotgun.
“It’s kind of my first time doing it, being under center, having routes and throwing on time. But today I felt pretty good,” Lynch said.
He looked good, too, Harris said.
“I think he still has some things to process a little bit faster. We’re very vanilla. Everything is very vanilla. Everything will turn up as OTAs go on,” Harris said. “I think for the first day coming out against us, I think he did a great job.”
Working with three QBs splitting snaps isn’t ideal, but “we’re not the first team that has ever dealt with a little quarterback controversy,” Sanders said. “The thing is, competition always brings the best out of guys. We’re going to see who the best guy is at the end of this process.”
Notes: OLB DeMarcus Ware (back) and DE Kenny Anunike (knee) were held out. … TE Virgil Green recently underwent finger surgery and will “miss probably a good portion of OTAs,” Kubiak said.
Denver Broncos- quarterback Mark Sanchez looks to hand off the ball during NFL football practice, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, at the team’s headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
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CHICAGO (AP) — For once, the key to the first round of the NFL draft doesn’t belong to the team picking first.
With the Rams and Eagles having traded up to secure the top two spots, where they have said they will take quarterbacks, it’s San Diego that likely will determine the flow on Thursday night. What will the Chargers do with the third selection?
Perhaps defensive back Jalen Ramsey of Florida State, considered one of the best athletes and most NFL-ready players available. Maybe Laremy Tunsil, the Ole Miss offensive tackle who can pile-drive blockers into submission.
Pass rushers Joey Bosa of Ohio State and DeForest Buckner of Oregon could be in the mix, too. Maybe linebacker Myles Jack of UCLA.
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco has not been shy about making draft-day deals, either.
“Like Tom talked about last week at his press conference,” coach Mike McCoy said in a web chat with fans, “we were looking at every scenario with trade possibilities. When those two teams traded ahead of us, that settled things down a bit. The phones weren’t ringing quite as often.
“We’re excited to get on the clock at pick No. 3.”
Dallas follows right behind San Diego, and the Cowboys could be thinking defense or even running back if Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott suits their tastes. Their offensive line is strong enough from recent drafts that selecting Tunsil is a long shot.
Then again, some scouts have rated Tunsil the top prospect in the entire crop, and left tackles are a premium commodity. So a bunch of other clubs in need of help on the O-line could be lining up to get the fourth overall pick.
Two other intriguing selections in the top 10 belong to San Francisco and Cleveland. Both could be in the market for a quarterback such as Paxton Lynch; Colin Kaepernick has said he would like out of San Francisco, and the Browns, despite adding Robert Griffin III, always are looking for a QB.
The 49ers have the seventh spot, and the Browns, after trading down from No. 2, will go eighth.
Of course, considering the mega-trades pulled off so far, the top 10 could look very different by the time Los Angeles opens the selection process. Not to mention how the rest of the 31-pick round (New England forfeited its pick in the deflated footballs saga) might go.
1. Los Angeles Rams (from Tennessee Titans) – Jared Goff, QB, California: Everything is in place in Hollywood (including a football team) to serve as a near-ideal supporting cast for a rookie passer – stud RB Todd Gurley, an ascending O-line and defense that could border on elite if paired with a competent offense. Now comes Goff to go atop the marquee. He won’t be slinging the ball like he did at Cal – at least not initially – but his accuracy, decision making and toughness will be welcome on a team that’s only been held back by subpar play at the game’s most vital position.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (from Cleveland Browns) – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State: It’s been 17 years since Philly drafted QB Donovan McNabb second overall. He sat behind Doug Pederson until he was ready to play, and that panned out OK. Like McNabb, Wentz is a strong-armed, mobile passer, and his experience in a pro-style system should ease his transition from the Football Championship Subdivision to the pros. But assuming he’s not NFL-ready by Week 1, Pederson, now the Eagles’ coach, can use vets Sam Bradford – maybe? – or Chase Daniel as a bridge to Wentz.
3. San Diego Chargers – Laremy Tunsil, T, Mississippi: The Bolts could use a jolt on defense, so DB Jalen Ramsey and DL DeForest Buckner should be strong considerations. But when your best player is a 34-year-old quarterback who’s been sacked 155 times over the last four seasons, it might be a good idea to get a new bouncer for Philip Rivers. Tunsil, arguably the top player in this draft, would theoretically keep Rivers on his feet for the remainder of his career while creating operating room for the feet of last year’s first rounder, RB Melvin Gordon, who too often had nowhere to go for the AFC’s worst run game.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State: Suspensions and free agency suggest Dallas’ pass rush may be non-existent in 2016, at least for the first month of the season. But it’s an area they should fret over Friday considering they can pick Ramsey, quite possibly the best defender coming out this year. The former track star is a freakish athlete who can play throughout the secondary, able to guard WR Odell Beckham one week and TE Jordan Reed the next. Ramsey and 2015 first rounder Byron Jones would form quite the dynamic DB duo for years to come.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA: Dave Caldwell sure doesn’t sound like a general manager who might be spooked by a reportedly questionable prognosis on Jack’s surgically repaired knee. Given Jack’s ability to surgically repair a defense burned for an AFC-worst 448 points in 2015, why shouldn’t Caldwell take a chance? Like most NFL teams, Jacksonville doesn’t have a player who can range from sideline to sideline … and rush off the edge … and cover the slot … and play deep safety … and be a red-zone threat as a tailback … and return kicks …
6. Baltimore Ravens – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon: A perfect fit for a defense trying not to deteriorate. Buckner can close running lanes, get after quarterbacks, tie up blockers so aging edge rushers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil can get home and, as a last resort, his 6-7, 291-pound frame should get in the way of quite a few passes at the line of scrimmage.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State: Per usual, we’re trying to figure out what’s up in San Francisco, including the future of QB Colin Kaepernick. The Niners could certainly be a suitor for Memphis QB Paxton Lynch and have the lone playbook in the league that might feasibly allow the raw prospect to comfortably start in Week 1. But here’s what we do know: new coach Chip Kelly covets multiple running backs who can capably power his hyperkinetic offense. Elliott is a more explosive and, apparently, more durable player than former Buckeyes teammate Carlos Hyde, currently the 49ers’ starter. And Elliott’s presence would immediately make Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert or whomever is starting a more effective passer.
8. Browns (from Miami Dolphins via Eagles) – Ronnie Stanley, T, Notre Dame: At minimum, he should be an upgrade over departed free agent RT Mitchell Schwartz and bolster the protection for oft-injured QB Robert Griffin III. But Stanley would also provide a succession plan at left tackle and might even help the Browns facilitate a deal of perennial all-pro Joe Thomas, who’s been on the trade block for some time. Thomas might be the last asset Cleveland can divest for the draft picks it continues to stockpile in the franchise’s latest reboot.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State: This scenario represents a bit of a tumble for Bosa, the No. 1 player on some boards heading into the scouting combine. But Tampa Bay might be an ideal home for the native Floridian. Bosa is an excellent technician, doesn’t take plays off and effectively smothers both running backs and quarterbacks. DT Gerald McCoy would certainly welcome him on his flank.
10. New York Giants – Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia: Yes, the Giants already opened their checkbook for DE Olivier Vernon and re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul. But JPP is again in prove-it mode and only under contract for 2016, which would give Floyd time to beef up his 6-6, 244-pound frame. In the interim, he could certainly bring needed fuel to DC Steve Spagnuolo’s coveted NASCAR pass rush packages considering New York had a meager 23 sacks in 2015.
11. Chicago Bears – Jack Conklin, T, Michigan State: One way to prevent another regression by QB Jay Cutler, who’s been forced to endure another offensive coordinator switch, is to fill the vacuum on his blind side.
12. New Orleans Saints – William Jackson III, CB, Houston: Their failed pursuit of CB Josh Norman tells you how the Saints regard a defense that allowed the most points in the NFL (476) last year. Jackson’s height (6 feet) would give him a fighting chance against monstrous NFC South receivers Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.
13. Dolphins (from Eagles) – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida: Tailback seems to be the spot Miami is desperate to fill, but it will have to wait unless they manage to snag Elliott. And Hargreaves is hardly a consolation prize. His ability to defend the slot is an ideal complement to newly acquired CB Byron Maxwell, who’s not as equipped to mirror quicker receivers like Sammy Watkins and Julian Edelman.
14. Oakland Raiders – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville: He’s on the short side (6-1, 299) but compensates with excellent quickness and would provide three-down interior playmaking ability to a defense that already appears set on the perimeter.
15. Titans (from Rams) – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State: He’d supply a nice dose of nasty to a line charged with better safeguarding QB Marcus Mariota and opening bigger holes for new RB DeMarco Murray. Decker appears best suited to the right side, which would allow LT Taylor Lewan to stay put.
16. Detroit Lions –Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama: A year after dumping Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, Detroit doesn’t have much inside aside from 32-year-old DT Haloti Ngata. Reed is a plug-and-play type who improves the run defense and should help unleash DE Ziggy Ansah off the edge.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State: The biggest deficiency of an improving unit is a linebacker who can run make plays in space and hold up in pass coverage. Problem solved with Lee.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama: GM Ryan Grigson is determined not to reach for a player – the blue-chip tackle crop looks rather exhausted here – yet knows he must provide better blocking in front of QB Andrew Luck if he’s going to survive to sign that (minimum) $150 million contract that’s in his future.
19. Buffalo Bills – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson: A high-effort player who consistently invades enemy backfields. Rex Ryan is a lover of all things Clemson but, more importantly, would appreciate a relentless edge presence to replace the disappointment Mario Williams was in 2015 when this defense woefully underachieved.
20. New York Jets – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis: Given the splashy trades that have been a prologue to Thursday night, don’t be shocked to see another one executed by a club that falls in love with Lynch. But if he’s available here, the Jets should pounce given Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a long-term solution (and maybe not a short-term solution); they’re likely to find themselves in a Rams conundrum – too good to draft high, not good enough to seriously contend without a franchise QB; and have a wizened assistant in OC Chan Gailey, who could be the ideal guru for Lynch until he’s prepared to play.
21. Washington Redskins – Andrew Billings, DL, Baylor: Adding Norman last week was an unexpected bonus, but he’s always had the benefit of a strong front seven. So don’t be remotely surprised if GM Scot McCloughan drops a 311-pound anchor into his 26th-ranked run defense. Billings’ athleticism also suggests he could develop into a decent pass rusher.
22. Houston Texans – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame: Brock Osweiler has a big arm, so why not stretch it with the draft’s fastest (4.32 40 speed) receiver? Keeping opposing secondaries honest with a few fly patterns from Fuller could really soften up the rest of the field for Pro Bowl WR DeAndre Hopkins and speedy RB Lamar Miller.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi: Maybe the draft’s top receiver, Treadwell’s size (6-2, 221) could make him Minnesota’s most productive red-zone target since Randy Moss.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor: His lightning speed would add a new dimension to an offense that’s already fairly diverse with WR A.J. Green, TE Tyler Eifert and a multi-faceted ground game. Cincinnati also needs to reload at wideout after losing its depth behind Green during free agency.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State: Their first round-strategy? Best. Available. Corner. This is one bad Apple, and his size (6-1, 199) and physical style should get under the skins of AFC North receivers like A.J. Green and Steve Smith while addressing a glaring need for a defense that allowed the most passing yards in the AFC in 2015.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech: Seattle has lost every starting offensive lineman from its Super Bowl title team two years ago, including LT Russell Okung this offseason. The 6-6, 316-pound Clark would be a nice rebuilding block and could become a star under the watchful eye of line coach Tom Cable.
27. Green Bay Packers – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama: DE Mike Daniels needs some help on the Pack’s three-man front. Robinson, 21, has major upside for a defense that hasn’t finished in the top 10 since Green Bay last won the Super Bowl five years ago.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama: ILB Derrick Johnson will be 34 this year. Ragland, an excellent value here, would certainly benefit by playing alongside the graybeard backer for a year or two before becoming the main man in the middle of K.C.’s D.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Mississippi: He fills a hole with loads of ability. Fellow DL Calais Campbell can help hone Nkemdiche’s talent, while coach Bruce Arians and DB Tyrann Mathieu ensure a player with trouble in his past stays squeaky clean off the field.
30. Carolina Panthers – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia: Yes, they just cut the cord with Norman, something GM Dave Gettleman would not have done if he was worried about the cornerback position. But Carolina also has an issue at safety after opting not to re-sign Roman Harper. Joseph could be a rangier version of Bob Sanders – unfortunately, that includes the injury risk – and is probably too good to pass up.
31. Denver Broncos – Kevin Dodd, DL, Clemson: The champs land at the intersection of ability and need with Dodd, a promising talent who could prove to be better than departed Malik Jackson after an apprenticeship under DC Wade Phillips.
Note: New England Patriots were stripped of their first-round pick for their alleged role in Deflategate
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CHICAGO (AP) — As far as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is concerned, the league is ready to move on from “Deflategate.”
Speaking two days after a major victory for the NFL in its dispute with New England quarterback Tom Brady and the players’ union, Goodell defended the league’s discipline process for players in the wake of critical comments by New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. While praising Chicago’s work on the NFL draft, he offered no clues as to where it might be held next year.
A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Brady must serve a four-game suspension handed down by the NFL for the use of underinflated footballs at the AFC championship game in January 2015. The court overturned a ruling by a Manhattan judge while siding with the league in its battle with the NFL Players Association.
“It should have been the decision last year from the district court, and that’s what the appellate court said,” Goodell said Wednesday. “They reaffirmed our authority and the underlying facts to the case, so we think it came out in the right place. So we’re not planning any more steps. We obviously would like to put the matter behind us and move forward.”
The NFLPA could appeal the decision to the full 2nd Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court, but it likely would be a time-consuming climb even if the courts took the unusual step to consider it. A message was left Wednesday seeking comment from the union.
Brady and the NFL also could negotiate a settlement, a possibility left open by Goodell.
“We’re not going to sit here and hypothetically talk about what we’re going to do,” Goodell said. “We had a lot of discussions last year. But the determination by the appellate court was very clear and very strong. We will continue, obviously, to negotiate with the union on the commissioner discipline issue. We’ve done that in the past. We’ve made changes in the past and we’re still open to doing that.”
Put Brees in the camp hoping for more changes. Reacting to the NFL’s successful appeal of the Brady case, Brees told SI.com he thinks the commissioner has too much power and he doesn’t trust any investigation led by the league.
Goodell said the league strives for fairness when it comes to the rules.
“The rules apply to every player. They apply to every team. They apply equally, and that’s what we do,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re the first person on the roster or you’re the 53rd man on the roster, the rules apply to all teams fairly and equally.”
Goodell joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and some of the NFL’s top prospects for a football clinic for a group of kids in Grant Park on the eve of the NFL draft. The first round begins Thursday night at a downtown theater, but Goodell was quiet when asked about where it might be held in 2017.
He acknowledged Philadelphia was a possibility. He said the league wants to move it around, but declined to rule out a return to Chicago for a third straight year.
“Our staff’s been working on it,” Goodell said. “Once we get done with this event, we’ll sit down, we’ll evaluate this event and the alternatives, and then we’ll make a decision, probably I would guess in the next 60 days, 90 days.”
The timeline for resolving the Raiders’ situation in Oakland is more up in the air. Owner Mark Davis is flirting with moving the franchise to Las Vegas after a long dalliance with relocating to Los Angeles, but Goodell said there is nothing to talk about right now when it comes to such a move.
“Those are decisions that are made once there is an opportunity and where there’s an alternative. They’re far from that at this point in time,” he said. “The Raiders were given permission by the other clubs to evaluate their options and to consider other alternatives. They’re doing that.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, laughs with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel during an NFL Play 60 event at Grant Park, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Chicago before Thursday’s first round of the NFL football draft. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- Whether in St. Louis or now back in Los Angeles, the Rams are all about big trades.
They made a huge splash in their deal Thursday with the Tennessee Titans, one of the biggest draft-choice transactions in NFL history. Just like the one they pulled off four years ago with the Redskins that landed Robert Griffin III in Washington.
Of the four major pro sports in America, football features the fewest monster trades. Except, that is, when mostly draft choices are involved.
And certainly in recent times, except for when the Rams are involved.
St. Louis’ grab bag for sending the second overall spot in 2012 to the Redskins was plentiful, including No. 6 overall that year, plus two more first-rounders and a second-rounder. St. Louis didn’t exactly turn around the franchise with its selections: defensive tackle Michael Brockers, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, running backs Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy; linebacker Alex Ogletree; tackle Greg Robinson; receiver Stedman Bailey; and offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins.
Only Brockers, Ogletree and Jenkins made much of an impact, and Jenkins left for the Giants in free agency this year. Meanwhile, the Rams have gone 27-36-1 since that deal.
The Redskins, of course, got an Offensive Rookie of the Year performance and an NFC East title out of RG3 in 2012, but he’s been injured and benched since, and now is with Cleveland.
Tennessee, meanwhile, now has the bevy of picks, something new general manager Jon Robinson, who previously worked in New England, foresees being transformational for the franchise.
“That’s the philosophy and the team-building process I cut my teeth on and that I came up in,” he said Thursday, “and I’m taking that same approach. It’s worked out pretty well for those guys up there.”
How did some other massive draft deals work out for the parties?
DALLAS AND MINNESOTA
Unquestionably the greatest heist in NFL trade annals.
Dallas already was 0-5 in 1989 while shopping star running back Herschel Walker, by far the Cowboys’ most sellable commodity. Minnesota was thinking Super Bowl and that Walker would be the final piece on a championship roster.
Basically, the Cowboys sent Walker, their third-round and 10th-round picks in 1990, and their third pick in 1991 to the Vikings for running back Darrin Nelson, cornerback Issiac Holt, linebackers Jesse Solomon and David Howard, defensive end Alex Stewart and Minnesota’s 1990 first-, second- and sixth-round picks in 1990.
But Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson had no intention of holding onto most of those veterans. Each of them had a draft pick attached so if Dallas released the player before Feb. 1, 1990, it would get those draft choices instead.
Most of the players were, indeed, cut — Nelson never even reported and was dealt to the Chargers for a second-round and a sixth-round selection.
Among those the Cowboys took with the draft choices: career rushing leader Emmitt Smith; stud DT Russell Maryland; ace safety Darren Woodson; solid cornerback Kevin Smith; and special teams standout Clayton Holmes.
Dallas won three Super Bowls in a four-season span after that. Minnesota still hasn’t sniffed another Super Bowl.
NEW ORLEANS AND WASHINGTON
Theater of the absurd, courtesy of Mike Ditka.
In 1999, then coaching New Orleans, Ditka was so enamored of Texas running back Ricky Williams that he moved the Saints up to fifth overall. In return, he sent all seven of the Saints’ selections, beginning with the 12th overall slot, plus a first-round and third-round choice the next year, to Washington. Then Ditka allegedly lit up a cigar and headed for the golf course.
Williams was a good, not great, player for the Saints, hardly worth an entire collection of picks. The Redskins wound up, through other moves, getting cornerback Champ Bailey and linebacker LaVar Arrington.
Who got the best of that one? Washington and Denver: Bailey built Hall of Fame numbers with both franchises.
NEW YORK GIANTS AND SAN DIEGO
This one doesn’t have the quantity, but, boy, the quality.
Eli Manning was top dog in 2004, but his family didn’t want San Diego taking him with the first overall selection. The Chargers seemingly called the Mannings’ bluff and took him anyway, and Eli couldn’t have been more sour or dour when he came on stage at Radio City Music Hall to be greeted by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Three picks later, though, the Giants announced they’d acquired Manning in exchange for another highly regarded college QB, Philip Rivers. Suddenly, Eli was all smiles.
It turned out to be a great deal for New York as Manning has led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles and also could be Hall of Fame material. Rivers has been a long-time star for the Chargers, even though they don’t have a Lombardi Trophy in their possession.
AP Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report. FILE – In this Oct. 13, 1989 file photo, former Dallas Cowboys running back Herschel Walker smiles as he is introduced at a news conference to announce the trade of five players and seven draft choices by the Minnesota Vikings for the leading NFC rusher, in Bloomington, Minn. The Los Angeles Rams made a huge splash in their deal with the Tennessee Titans on Thursday, April 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)