Land rush for undrafted free agents started earlier than usual

Nearly every year, we hear complaints about the land rush for undrafted free agents, which reaches a fever pitch when the draft ends. Teams push for quick decisions, and players and agents don’t always have time to think things through before teams move on to the next option.

This year, the complaints have subsided, for one very good reason. Teams have started the process of talking to potential UDFAs earlier than usual.

Nick Nelson started his college career at Hawaii but transferred to Wisconsin. If I had a scholarship at Hawaii, no force on earth could get me to leave. Well, except maybe a volcano. Anyway, Nelson commits too many penalties and, despite return experience, rarely intercepts a pass. A case of the grabbies can be cured, but it’s hard to project Nelson as much more than a nickel or dime player. Another high-risk selection for Retro Riverboat Gruden, though at least this one is at a position of need. Grade: C-plus.

He’s perhaps best known this offseason for helping his brother through a weird naked bloody incident in Los Angeles.

Cayleb Jones will be eligible to participate in the offseason program and preseason games, but not the first four weeks of the regular season.

Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia: At 6-5, 250 pounds, he’s built like another former Bulldog, Justin Houston. However that’s where the similarity ends as Carter hasn’t been nearly as productive a player as Houston. Still, he should plug in nicely on a new-look 3-4 front that will feature Olivier Vernon on the other side.

Chad Thomas, DE, Miami (Fla.): He bolsters the defensive line rotation beyond Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah, though Thomas only managed nine sacks over the last two years.

Justin Reid, S, Stanford: The brother of former 49ers S Eric Reid, he bolsters a pass defense that finished 24th in 2017. This is Houston’s first pick of this draft. Justin Reid is a versatile and savvy defender who is comfortable both up high and in the box.
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When Derwin James slipped to the Chargers at No. 17 overall, the Florida State safety was widely acclaimed as one of the draft’s early-round steals.

If the Ravens hadn’t traded out of the No. 16 spot, however, James wouldn’t have landed in Los Angeles as a godsend for Gus Bradley’s defense.

In a Thursday interview with BaltimoreRavens.com’s podcast, The Lounge, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta revealed that he and Ozzie Newsome would have drafted James had Baltimore kept the pick.

His selection drew the loudest cheers of the night at AT&T Stadium, in contrast to how the locals greeted Dallas’ first-rounder, Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, whose reception was cool at best. I was watching my phone and it got down to two minutes and I thought it had passed, Williams said. My phone starts with 972 so I knew it was a Dallas area code, and I thought this can’t be. I got on the phone and it was Cloud 9. It was definitely a roller coaster and it was up and down.

The only positive for the streaky Davidson’s fantasy value — mostly in deeper-than-12-team mixed and AL-only formats — is that he has balanced career splits (.317 wOBA versus left-handers, .316 versus right-handers), and most of the Minnesota Twins’ starters are as susceptible to righties as lefties, resulting in a better rating for White Sox right- than left-handed hitters despite facing opponents that have entirely right-handed rotations.

Coupling those games at that hitting-friendly venue with three games at home against the below-average Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff at the team’s own hitting-friendly ballpark, all Brewers hitters enjoy a matchups boost.The speedy Brewers are the ones who enjoy the biggest bump, as the team has been giving the green light at a greater-than-league-average rate thus far.

The Reds should give weak-armed Devin Mesoraco at least one start, and the Pirates have been regularly using Francisco Cervelli, one of the worst catchers in the game at managing the running game, behind the plate. Jonathan Villar, a .297 hitter with a .328 on-base percentage against righties this season who has begun to earn starts as the team’s No. 6 hitter against right-handers, particularly stands out.orioles_015

Wonderlic test scores of 2018 NFL Draft QBs leaked

The Combine is a huge part of the NFL Draft process for prospects, and in addition to position drills and basic athletic testing, prospects are asked to take the Wonderlic test. The scores of these tests are supposed to remain private, but every year some of them get leaked.

This year, most of the quarterback scores have been made public by former NFL scout John Middlekauff. He listed off the scores on a recent Fox Sports Radio podcast appearance on The Herd With Colin Cowherd.

We’ve kind of seen it before, Zetterberg said. There’s probably a lot of things that can change. I think the inconsistency we have is hurting us.

Lee started the comeback with a backhander over Coreau’s shoulder at 6:25 of the third to pull the Islanders to 3-2. He became the franchise’s first player with 40 goals since Jason Blake in 2006-07.

That’s a big number in today’s game, Weight said. Forty goals is something not a lot of people in our league can say they did.

The reports I’d get back from the medical people weren’t as positive as I was about it, Zimmer said. That’s kind of how it came down is that his knee wasn’t as … he still has some recovery to do. When I watched him in practice, he moved well, I didn’t see limitations, but from what I was told there were some.

Bridgewater, after missing all of last season with a torn ACL, chose to sign with the Jets this offseason to compete with veteran Josh McCown. New York reportedly tried to sign Kirk Cousins, but the former Redskins gunslinger chose to replace Bridgewater in Minnesota.

Vikings medical staff may have had concerns regarding Bridgewater’s long-term health, but he was cleared to rejoin the active roster for the Vikings’ playoff run.

Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan also raised concerns about Bridgewater’s health entering offseason workouts.
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Steve Kerr: Warriors need ‘to get back to being a top-five defensive team’

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr slammed his team after a recent blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers but has since said he “chose my words poorly” and expounded on why he was so harsh.

Kerr said Thursday after a 20-point loss to the Pacers in Indianapolis that “caring in general was the main problem.” Before the Warriors faced the Suns on Sunday in their final road game of the regular season, Kerr sought to clarify his remarks.

“We can be a lot better, and that’s the good part about it,” Durant said after Golden State’s win Sunday. “I think it’s more so talking it out, preparing the right way, seeing how we’re going to guard different actions. We’ve got smart guys in this room who are physically and mentally up to the challenge. We might have had some struggles here lately, but for the most part, I think we’ve got guys that know exactly what we need to do when Coach puts the game plan together.”

Coach Todd Bowles said late last season that Dozier was one of the team’s most improved players.

Stroman allowed five runs, six hits and five walks.

“I’m the last one to ever blame anything on the weather,” he said. “I wasn’t good today.”

Kevin Jepsen and Jake Diekman closed out the game for Texas by combining for three hitless innings.

Gallo drew two walks after getting just one previous free pass this season. Gallo hit fifth in the lineup after hitting second in Texas’ previous nine game.

“Joey did a great job tonight taking some pitches, seeing some pitches and getting himself in some hitter’s counts,” Banister said.

Stroman wrote “HUMBOLDT BRONCOS!” and “SK” on his cap to honor the victims of the Canadian youth hockey bus accident Friday that killed 15. A moment of silence was held before the game. Stroman said he will auction the cap.texans_137

In college football, the head coach runs the show. And no head coach runs a show like Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

The quirky, intense, and ultimately effective boss of the Wolverines program gets the bulk of the air time in Amazon’s newest offering in the All or Nothing series. He produces all of the intriguing sound bites. (Jim’s brother, John, and father, Jack, provide memorable moments when addressing the team; Jack’s speech to the players the night before their bowl game against South Carolina was good enough to make me think he should be coaching in the NFL, right now.)

In another episode from the eight-part series, Jim shares a domestic example when talking to his players about the importance of holding onto the football.

“Anybody who’s got the ball. Squeeze it!” Harbaugh says. “This week, got home about 11:00. Sarah was still up, baby monitor goes off. Baby John’s up there crying, up in his room. ‘Hey Sarah, I’ll get this. Let me get this.’ Get up, get to John’s room. Could smell it right when I get in there, you know? Pooped his pants.

“Once I picked him up, I knew what I had to do. I had to take him down some steep stairs to get to that changing table. And I had to start thinking, ‘What is the worst possible thing that could happen that there’s no recovering from?’ If I fall down those stairs with the baby in my arms. I mean, it’s over for him. And I’m wearing these sweat pants, I’ve got those gray sweat pants.

Bryant was released by the Lions last October shortly after he was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. It was the third time Bryant has been suspended since entering the NFL as a 2013 seventh-round pick of the Browns.

When Bryant hasn’t been suspended, he has appeared in 36 games for Cleveland and Detroit. He’s racked up 11.5 sacks in those games, so the Raiders are likely hoping that Bryant can stay out of trouble long enough to give their pass rush a boost in 2018.

Timberwolves power forward Taj Gibson left the game in the first half and did not return. After it was over, the veteran big man was hopeful that he would be all right for Wednesday’s game against the Nuggets but admitted that he couldn’t move his neck from left to right at the moment. He said he initially hurt his neck in Friday’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers and has been getting treatment the past few days.texans_089

Chiefs waive running back George Atkinson

It wasn’t clumsy or circuitous, and now the wisdom of it will be determined on the field. The need remains the same, regardless of who’s cursing them out, picketing or boycotting games.

The Ravens need a reliable backup, just in case. And they need Flacco to make sure they never need to call on the backup.

The Seahawks released the backup quarterback Tuesday, hours after he was accused of domestic violence by his longtime girlfriend, Shabrika Bailey.

Dallas’ WFAA-TV reported that Bailey said he choked her to the point of blacking out last week and that her mouth had to be wired shut after he broke her jaw in two places.

Per the police release:

“On March 21, 2018 Mansfield Police Officers were called by Parkland Hospital staff in Dallas, Texas regarding an alleged assault which was said to have occurred in the city of Mansfield, Texas. Officers responded and met with the victim who provided a statement about an assault that occurred in 2300 block of Richmond Circle in Mansfield.”

Bailey, who said the pair have been in a relationship since they were in high school, told WFAA an argument began at his home in Mansfield, Texas, after she wouldn’t let him see a text message.

In addition to sharing your thoughts, cast a ballot via the PFT Twitter page as to who won. Unless you plan to vote for Simms.

“That is pretty special,” the Oilers captain said. “That is some pretty good company to be a part of. It definitely means a lot, and I have my teammates to thank for everything. They helped me a lot down the stretch and did everything they could.”

Jussi Jokinen and Tyler Motte scored for the Canucks (31-40-11), who won five of their final seven games to close out a playoff-missing campaign of their own. The Sedins were held scoreless in their final game.

McDavid helped start the scoring six minutes into play by feeding it across to Draisaitl, who beat Canucks goalie Anders Nilsson for his 25th of the season.

Jokinen got a piece of a Brendan Leipsic shot and it caromed past Edmonton starter Cam Talbot as Vancouver tied it 1-1 with two minutes left in the first.

Motte fished out a puck during a scramble out front and beat Talbot up high to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead.texans_077

Austin Howard visited Saints

Prince has been a bright spot in a long season. He has given Atlanta a legitimate 3-point shooting threat. He made 7 of 8 3-pointers on Sunday and scored 33 points.

The second-year player has improved his numbers from his rookie year in almost every category. His scoring average has gone from 5.7 to 14 and his 3-point percentage from 32.4 to 38.7 percent. He has scored 30 points in five games.

The 76ers have won two previous meetings with the Hawks, both by 10 points. Philadelphia prevailed in its first visit to Atlanta on Nov. 1, then won March 30 in Philadelphia.

This will be the season finale for Atlanta. Philadelphia plays its last game on Wednesday at home against Milwaukee, which could be the 76ers’ first-round playoff opponent.

The Giants have only a small handful of options. They can trade him. They can sign him to a long-term contract. Or they can kick the can through the final year of his contract, making a tag-and-sign, tag-and-trade, or tag-and-keep-for-2019 decision after the season. (They also could do it again in 2020, the last year he’d be tagged at non-quarterback money.)

The problem is that Beckham may be committed to staying away from all activities — voluntary and involuntary — until he gets a long-term contract that he deems appropriate. That would mean, at a minimum, no participation in the offseason program (which opens next week). Then the question becomes whether he’d boycott the mandatory minicamp and/or training camp.

King won’t wear No. 7 in Denver, obviously, and he will retire the bucking Bronco celebration.

“Now it’s time to find a new celebration, because that’s when I was trying to troll y’all,” he said.

King, 29, can’t wait to punt in Denver. He calls it a “punter’s paradise” because of the altitude, and then there’s the Broncos’ organization itself.

“The cool thing about the Broncos is the people that work at the Broncos encourage you to be yourself,” King said. “That is real cool. Players play a lot better when they can let their hair down and be themselves. It’s cool. They encourage it. But no, I don’t think that’s what the reason was [for his departure from Oakland]. Everybody has their own way of doing things. Maybe that is how they felt they wanted to do things. More power to them.”cardinals_007

Markus Golden on possible move to defensive end: Football is football

Cardinals pass-rusher Markus Golden began running again this week, six months after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

“You’ve got teammates depending on you, family back home, your kids,” Golden said. “You can feel sorry for yourself a little bit, but then you have to get back to work.”

The Texans could cut or trade him this year and have a dead money hit of $6 million with cap savings of $9 million. Next year, the dead money drops to just $2 million with cap savings of $13 million if they release or trade him. The Texans will weigh these numbers against Watt’s production, leadership and popularity.

Watt currently is completing rehab on the broken leg he suffered in Week 5 of last season. He had 15 tackles and no sacks in those five games following a 2016 season in which he played in only three games due to back surgery to repair a herniated disk. It was his second back surgery in a two-month period after he missed training camp following the first surgery.

O’Brien recently said Watt is ahead of schedule in his rehab, and Watt has said he won’t rush back for OTAs if he’s not ready but expects to be fully recovered and on the field at training camp.

Ochi’s departure leaves the Titans with Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, Kevin Dodd, Aaron Wallace and Josh Carraway at outside linebacker.

The Cubs will be without All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday. Rizzo has missed three straight games with soreness in his lower back. Rizzo was not in Monday’s lineup as utility man Ben Zobrist was scheduled to start at first before the game was postponed. Rizzo was to have been re-evaluated Tuesday morning before the Cubs determined it best to place him on the DL.

Tuesday’s scheduled off-day would have provided Rizzo with an extra day of rest before potentially returning Wednesday. But Maddon told reporters he is uncertain whether Rizzo will be ready to play Tuesday when the Cubs look to win for the fourth time in their past five games.

The Pirates look to extend what has been an impressive start after a series victory over the Cincinnati Reds, whom Pittsburgh beat 5-0 on Sunday behind Jameson Taillon’s 1-hitter.
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Marquette King is fired up about playing at altitude

NewRaiders coach Jon Gruden apparently put a low premium on punters, but Marquette King‘s likely to be very happy at high altitude.

Via Peter King of SI.com, the new Broncos punter has flourished in games in Denver, with his already strong leg having even more pop there.

In five games in Denver, his 39 punts have averaged 50.03 gross and 45.51 net yards. In 75 games anywhere else, his gross average was 46.48 and his net was 40.68.

So basically, King’s five yards better per kick at elevation.

For Gettleman to find a trade partner, it will take a willing team with enough cap room and more than enough patience. A fit could be a team such as the Rams, who let Sammy Watkins leave in free agency and might want to add some Hollywood-type sizzle as they approach the opening of their new stadium in 2020.

But will they or another team be willing to pay the double whammy of a high price in trade compensation and the big-money contract? There will need to be an extension in place before a team gives up high draft picks for Beckham, as it won’t want to risk him hitting free agency in 2019 or have to deal with the acrimony of the franchise tag. It’s not going to be easy to pull it all together and move Beckham.

The good news for the Giants is there always are NFL GMs and coaches who believe they can keep a player like OBJ productive on the field and under control off the field.

If I’m Gettleman, I’m hoping that’s the case.

Before we begin, the usual-and-necessary caveat: Eleven days’ numbers, on only six of which Ohtani actually played (four as a hitter, two as a pitcher), is a perilously small sample from which to draw seasonal conclusions. In Ohtani’s case, however, those 11 days represent the first 11 from which we have any “data that counts” from him in the U.S. game. They were our first look at this critical fantasy contributor, and they include actionable findings.

Starting with his pitching exploits, Ohtani’s 27 consecutive batters retired spanning his two starts — he retired the final eight Oakland Athletics he faced on April 1, then the first 19 Athletics he faced on Sunday — were the headline. Digging deeper, he’s fourth in the majors with a 40 percent strikeout rate, fueled by a major league-leading 24 percent swinging-strike rate, and his 43 swings and missed trail only Cole Hamels’ 46 (but remember that Hamels has made three starts to Ohtani’s two).patriots_107-223x223

Report: Ravens continue WR search by working out Snead, Floyd

The Baltimore Ravens have added two new receivers this offseason, but are still looking for reinforcements. The Ravens worked out receivers Michael Floyd and Willie Snead, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.

Nobody wanted Townes.

It’s incredible to me that nobody in the high-major level gave him a chance, Baldwin said over the phone before his new team — the Portland Trailblazers — played a recent game.

Baldwin wasn’t lamenting how things turned out for his old pal. If anything, the way this story is unfolding is the perfect ending. Townes didn’t need to play for one of those big-time programs to reach the NCAA Tournament Final Four.

La Canfora included San Francisco alongside the Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts on his list of contenders for landing Beckham in a trade with the New York Giants.

This comes after Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the Giants want at least two first-round draft picks if they are going to trade the three-time Pro Bowler.

La Canfora noted they are having difficulty getting close to what they would deem fair value for Beckham and predicted teams will wait for some time before potential closure to the situation in late April.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Beckham will not set foot on a field without a new contract extension, and La Canfora suggested it would be better for the Giants to trade him than endure a prolonged holdout before the 2018 campaign.
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