Vikings G.M. doesn’t mind writing big checks

tigers_011-115x115The Vikings have spent plenty of money already this offseason, most of it going to quarterback Kirk Cousins.

There’s more money to spend, with deals for more young stars on the horizon.

That had General Manager Rick Spielman laughing with attendees at the team’s charity golf tournament.

Fifty percent of the proceeds today will go to the contracts of Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs and Danielle Hunter,” Spielman joked, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Spending big on Cousins was an all-in proposition for a team that was very good, and very close a year ago. But those economic realities Spielman mentioned will naturally shorten the window for a veteran team, and creates pressure to hit on draft picks so they have cost-controlled contributors on the roster as well.

But with three years remaining on his deal, what would skipping mandatory minicamp and/or holding out of training camp accomplish? It could be that Jones opted simply to flag the issue by skipping voluntary OTAs this year, and that he’ll show up from this point forward, hopeful that the new deal comes after the current season. If it doesn’t, then next year Jones may opt for a different tactic.

Semi-educated guess? He’ll be there. Come next year, however, Jones may push harder for a new contract. If he doesn’t get one, maybe he’ll even inch a little closer toward shirtless driveway situps.

The Saints traded the 27th and 147th picks in this year’s draft along with next year’s first-round pick in order to take Davenport with to the 14th overall pick. Coach Sean Payton said that call was made because of how important it is to find premier pass rushers and they’re surely happy to know that Davenport’s thumb issue doesn’t look like an obstacle to becoming one.

I think Johnny will come fast because we’re not going to change things from here on, Jones said last week. He has the whole offense in, and he’s been running it on the field. Now, does he know what he’s doing with it yet? No. But because we’re repping it all with him now, he’s going to come faster than what is typical.

NFLPA will closely monitor sports betting developments

The NFLPA has joined many others in the sports world by issuing a statement in the wake of Monday’s Supreme Court decision overturning a federal ban on state-sanctioned sports betting.

“The Supreme Court’s decision today reaffirms the decision to collaborate with the other sports unions on the issues of player safety, integrity of our games and privacy and publicity rights. Our union will monitor developments closely and address the implications of this decision with the NFL, state legislators and other relevant stakeholders.”

The collaboration with other sports unions referred to in Monday’s statement included a joint statement with the MLBPA, NBAPA and NHLPA in April focused on “the legal, commercial, practical, and human consequences of allowing sports betting to become mainstream.”

But he has to prove he’s worth their time, on and off the field. Manziel has a long way to go to get back in the NFL, because the truth is he wasn’t good enough to be worth the headaches. But there had to be a legitimate first step toward rehabilitating his career, and the CFL might be perfect for that.

With sporting events happening virtually every day, any delay results in money being lost. That’s why states like West Virginia were wise to adopt a sports wagering bill before the Supreme Court decision (but will be the opposite of wise if it wedges a money-for-nothing “integrity fee” onto the bill).

Eventually, most if not all states will get in on the act, especially as they start to see how sports wagering performs in states that have it. The looming explosion of wagers on all forms of sports should result in a major uptick in interest in these sports. This could make gambling, as the executive described it, the biggest development in sports media in our lifetime.

Yeah, he’s special, said Burton, who caught a career-high five touchdowns for the Super Bowl champion Eagles in 2017. “He fits right in the category with Carson in the way he prepares, his physical attributes on the field, his athleticism.”bucks_508

Aaron Donald tells Rams he won’t be at OTAs, wants new contract

Aaron Donald will continue his absence from any Rams workouts.

The defensive tackle is looking for a restructured contract and told the team he won’t be at OTAs until a new deal is presented, according to ESPN.

One factor that helped Obada’s development was practicing with and learning from the likes of Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson for a year. Those two players have combined for 222 sacks in their careers; they rank first and second, respectively, on the Panthers’ all-time sacks list.

“It’s set the bar so high and it’s made me hungry,” Obada said. “At the same time, because I’m in the same room as them, next to them in the locker room it’s also showing me that that’s attainable and I just have to apply myself and learn from him.”

A minicamp with tryout players and rookies isn’t necessarily the greatest level of competition, of course. What comes next — full OTAs, minicamp and training camp — will be the true test of how far Obada has come and how far he still has to go.

We remain in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it, but we will remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures. Regardless of the particulars of any future sports betting law, the integrity of our game remains our highest priority.”

MLB’s statement said the decision will have “profound effects” on baseball: “As each state considers whether to allow sports betting, we will continue to seek the proper protections for our sport, in partnership with other professional sports. Our most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games.”

The sanctioning bodies will need to formulate a plan of action, as many states are expected to move quickly to legalize betting. A 2017 report by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated that 14 states would offer sports betting within two years: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.ravens_174

Cowboys lack No. 1 receiver, taking a committee approach

The Cowboys have a lot of receivers. They don’t have a No. 1 receiver.

The moment Dez Bryant walked out the door, the Cowboys became a wide receiver by committee.

“I feel that we have been true to the thought that we were going to throw the ball in a lot of different ways, not necessarily feature going to your number one receiver, that’s a dominant receiver,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

I don’t know what (taking Barkley) means for Eli, Shurmur said from his office Tuesday.

What it means for us organizationally is we picked the guy we thought was the best player in the draft. I believe in Eli. Again, ‘vote of confidence,’ that goes into the ‘buy in’ category for me. You take whatever you want from that. What I know is that Eli is going to be the very best Eli he can be, and we believe in him.

Instead, Broncos General Manager John Elway said, according to Jeff Legwold of ESPN, that the team will allow Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly to compete for the No. 2 job behind Case Keenum. The Broncos will not bring in another quarterback for organized team activities or minicamp.

Elway said the Broncos had their eye on a couple of quarterbacks but opted to spend their picks elsewhere.

The Broncos gave Keenum a two-year, $36 million contract and handed him the starting job for 2018, but the assumption was they would draft a young quarterback to groom behind Keenum. Keenum has said he would welcome a draft choice joining him in the quarterbacks room.broncos_089_91bb5ff393b2e70b-180x180

Browns sign potential Thomas replacement Corbett

Joe Thomas ‘ retirement brought an end to a legendary career and created a massive void at left tackle for the Cleveland Browns .

They took a step toward addressing that Sunday, signing second-round pick Austin Corbett to a rookie contract. Cleveland also signed two sixth-round picks: wide receiver Damion Ratley and defensive back Simeon Thomas .

Versatility is always a desirable trait in a football player, and especially in a lineman. It also creates opportunities for playing time quicker and more often. Corbett is well aware of this.

I’m definitely a tackle player, Corbett said. I spent the last four years there, but at the Senior Bowl , again, that was my chance to move inside and I felt really comfortable at those positions as well. Really, whatever the Browns want me to do, I’m going to do for them. I’m just super excited to get into Cleveland.

The 6-foot-4, 306-pound lineman began the process of determining his role at Cleveland’s rookie minicamp which began Friday. Where that leads is unknown at this point, but if it is to left tackle, he’ll have massive shoes to fill.

Those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, cautioned that no final determination has been made as the owners prepare to take up the anthem issue when they gather later this month in Atlanta at their regularly scheduled spring meeting.

Several other possibilities remain, from leaving the current anthem policy unchanged to forging a different compromise that would result in a league-wide policy by which players would be required to stand for the anthem if they’re on the sideline but would be given the option to remain in the locker room. Or the NFL could revert to its pre-2009 approach of keeping all players in the locker room until after the anthem is played.tigers_011-115x115

Arizona Cardinals’ new QB Josh Rosen needs an editor, says Patrick Peterson

Quarterback Josh Rosen has been with the Cardinals for only a week, but he’s already had some interesting text exchanges with new teammates.

On the flight from Dallas to Arizona on draft day, the team’s broadcast crew caught Rosen reading aloud a text from starting quarterback Sam Bradford.

Shazier posted the most encouraging sign of his recovery to that date with a picture that appeared to show him standing — albeit with support from teammate Ben Roethlisberger.

That same day, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center released a statement saying that Shazier was discharged from inpatient rehab and will transition into an outpatient program to continue his recovery.

So, it’s clear that there are a lot of evaluators who don’t know what to make of Lamar Jackson. And if NFL teams were put off by Jackson’s refusal to run a 40-yard dash supposedly because he wanted to be thought of as a quarterback as opposed to a pure runner when there’s play after play on tape that shows an athleticism reminiscent of Michael Vick in his prime, that may be more about teams being put off by a player who seemed determined to sculpt his own future.

Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian has led the charge of misunderstanding Jackson’s potential, suggesting that Jackson would be better off switching to receiver in the pros.

It’s not uncommon for prospects to be misdiagnosed by top evaluators, and Jackson’s game resembles few quarterbacks throughout NFL history. There are elements of everyone from Randall Cunningham to Michael Vick to Robert Griffin III to Colin Kaepernick.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected quarterback Mason Rudolph out of Oklahoma State in the third round with the 76th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft after a trade up with the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks received the 79th and 220th overall picks from the Steelers to slide slightly back.tigers_055-115x115

N.J. waits on sports betting

You will read how this team shattered Apollo’s Curse, an old wives’ tale built on the fact that for more than a century no horse that failed to race as a 2-year old could win the Kentucky Derby.

Justify must have saved a hell of a lot of energy because Saturday he was a certified running machine that ran how and exactly where Smith guided him. It did not surprise the jockey. Not much does. Wayne Lukas, who at 82 has become the industry’s elder statesman, said of Smith before the race:

Darnold, pegged by many to be the top pick for months, went third to the other New York team. The Jets had traded with Indianapolis, going from sixth to third with the expressed intent to find a passer.

Like Mayfield, Darnold might sit behind a veteran, Josh McCown.

“I think whatever the coaches want me to do, if they want me to sit, want me to play, I’ll do my role,” he said.

Buffalo traded up with Tampa Bay to get Allen at No. 7. Allen is considered the passer with the most upside.

“Well, we’re going to find out in a few years if this class will pan out,” Allen said. “I definitely think it will. I want the most success for these guys, except when they’re playing me.”

At this point, a Wells Fargo Center employee jumped the gun. No, really, someone shot a confetti gun as Belinelli’s shot went through the basket and bounced onto the hardwood. Confetti strands fluttered around the North side of the arena. It caused a delay.

It was a microcosm of the Sixers night, of their performance all series against the Celtics. Like the confetti-gun shooter, the Sixers haven’t been quite ready for this moment. They pushed the game into overtime, but still lost at home, 101-98.

They had another chance for a Belinelli moment. For real confetti. Down one with 5.5 seconds left, Simmons attempted to inbound the ball to Joel Embiid. Al Horford stole it, made both free throws, and the Sixers missed a last-ditch heave for another chance at confetti.

Instead, fans booed (again) as they filed out, into the night.

The series will continue with Game 4 on Monday at 6 p.m. in Wells Fargo Center. canucks_010

The decision to draft Hurst over Alabama wideout Calvin Ridley was agonizing, DeCosta acknowledged.

The draft has always been the lifeblood of NFL teams. Overall, it’s an exciting time for all franchises; a time of optimism. But it’s also stressful.

After approaching Coach Fuller with the findings of an investigation into complaints of inappropriate conduct, we accepted his resignation, team spokesperson Steven Drummond said in a statement to NFL.com. The Panthers are deeply committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally.

Fuller, who joined the Panthers in 2013 as a coaching assistant, officially resigned Wednesday.

Majority owner Jerry Richardson announced he was selling the team in December after the league took over an investigation looking into allegations of workplace misconduct against him. The Panthers went up for sale following the team’s wild-card loss last month.

Richardson, the franchise founder, ceded day-to-day control of the team in December to Tina Becker, a 20-year employee of the team who was promoted to chief operating officer. Richardson, 81, remains under NFL investigation.

The Seahawks waived Avril with a failed physical designation, the team announced Friday.

Four games into his 10th NFL season, Avril suffered a career-threatening neck injury last October. The severity of the injury led Carroll to concede that the veteran pass rusher will have a hard time playing football again.

That said, Avril has told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche that he intends to play in 2018. Last we heard from the 32-year-old in March, he acknowledged that his career remains up in the air.

I just want to do what’s right for me from the standpoint of after football and how that would affect it, Avril said on NFL Network’s NFL Up to the Minute. If the doctor comes back and says ‘things aren’t healing right,’ or even if things are healing right, ‘one hit could mess you up’ or whatever, then that’s an easy decision. But right now, in my head, I definitely want to start training and doing things like I am going to play.giants_154

Here’s how the Jets kept their pre-draft quarterback rankings a secret

Once the New York Jets surrendered three second-round picks for the right to move up from No. 6 to No. 3 in the 2018 NFL Draft, it was widely assumed that they’d be selecting a quarterback. The only question, of course, was which quarterback. Who they ended up with was dependent on which quarterback the Browns went with at No. 1, as well as whether the Giants decided to take a quarterback, trade the pick, or take a non-QB at No. 2, but the Jets had plenty of options.

But my goodness, do they ever need an offensive mauler, and that’s why Hernandez would be my choice. Left guard is the prime spot, which would allow Graham Glasgow to slide over to center. With Taylor Decker, T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner, the Lions actually have the makings of an effective offensive line, when healthy. But one weakness can destroy it, and that needs to be plugged. Quinn doesn’t think fixing the run game is as simple as adding more big backs, although he finally made a slight concession by adding Blount, 31, on a one-year deal to join Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.

“If we had to go play a football game today, I think we have enough running backs to be competitive,” Quinn said last week. “Now, is that saying I’m not going to take one? I don’t know, tell me who’s going to be on the board in the second, third, fourth round.”

He’s a good football player, Whisenhunt said per the team’s official website. That was really a tremendous get by our guys, Tom [Telesco] and his staff. To be able to pull that off was fantastic. I’ve seen him for a number of years, and he’s obviously a very good center. He brings a lot to the table from that standpoint.

Prior to his March release, Pouncey played 16 games in 2017 for the Dolphins the most he’s played in a season since 2012.

The Chargers gave up the fewest sacks in the league last season. However, blocking issues prevented the ground game from building consistency. The addition of Pouncey and 2018 fifth-round draft pick guard Scott Quessenberry should help fix blocking woes while also keeping quarterback Philip Rivers upright if Pouncey can remain healthy this season.

The Bolts wrap up Phase II of the offseason program this week. The session also served as the first opportunity for Pouncey and his new signal-caller to work together on the field and develop chemistry. nike_jets_1630

If Mahomes is the real deal and Watkins bolsters an already dangerous offense, the Chiefs should certainly be back in playoff contention in 2018.

He can throw the ball, he said. He led the whole process when we were running routes [Monday]. He’s going to be a great leader. Caught a couple balls, dropped a couple too, just by his arm strength. But it’s going to be a fun time. I can’t wait to master this offense.

Kelce and Co. have the talent in place to advance past the Wild Card Round this time around.

Earl Thomas wants to play for the Dallas Cowboys. This is known. According to a report, there is mutual interest in a trade to facilitate that, with the Dez Bryant release being a potential catalyst. When Bryant was released, it freed up $8 million in cap space, which could be utilized to bring in Thomas, and sign him to the extension he desires. …the Cowboys have contacted the Seahawks about a potential draft trade, writes Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram. But the Seattle asking price of a first- and third-round draft pick was too high.

The Cowboys are holding out hope that their asking price goes down to maybe a second-round pick. And the $8 million cap space they saved by cutting Bryant could be used to pay Thomas, whose base salary for 2018 is a convenient $8.5 million. Hill also notes that the Cowboys might be hoping Thomas, a native Texan, would be interested in taking a hometown discount on a long-term deal.

Police also reportedly recovered a gun at the scene.

The Eagles traded for Worley, a Philadelphia native who attended the city’s Penn Charter High, in exchange for wideout Torrey Smith this offseason. Worley spent the first two years of his career with the Carolina Panthers, notching 152 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions in 31 games and 25 starts for the team.

He was expected to vie for playing time in Philadelphia, though given the team’s deep stable of cornerbacks—the Eagles have Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas under contract—Worley’s release is unlikely to have a major impact on the team.

Worley has had legal issues in the past. In 2014, he pleaded no-contest to a misdemeanor assault charge and served a six-month suspended sentence.dolphins_088