AROUND THE NFL

NFC NORTH

 

DETROIT

Lions GM Bob Quinn says that moving down is more likely than moving up in next week’s first round.  Dave Birkett in the Detroit Free Press:

 

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn has made it clear he’s open and willing to move back in the first round of next week’s NFL Draft.

 

But what about moving up? Are there any prospects who intrigue Quinn enough to make a bold move up the board?

 

While this is the time of year for smoke screens and false information, Quinn seemed fairly definitive that the Lions aren’t in the market to go up from pick No. 8.

 

“Yeah, there’s a couple players up at the top that you would obviously love to have, but I just think I don’t have enough ammunition to get up there,” Quinn said in talking with reporters Thursday. “Like I said previously, I’d like to move back a couple spots, if anything. There’s definitely good players at the top, at the very top. There’s good player at eight, too. Guys that we’re excited about, hopefully a couple of them there and we can choose from a couple of them. I don’t think I’m going to be in the business of moving up in this year’s draft, but there are players that are worthy of that.”

 

The cost to move up even a handful of spots inside the top-10 is typically costly and reserved for teams looking to secure a franchise quarterback. For example, last year the New York Jets gave the Indianapolis Colts three second-round choices to swap the No. 6 and No. 3 selections.

 

As for trading down, Quinn couldn’t say how far he’d be willing to move back, at least not without knowing more about which players would be available when the Lions are up.

 

“It’s really hard to say, right now, to be quite frank with you because some teams say in that 13 to 15 (range), they don’t want to do anything. but you get an offer from 21 and it looks really good,” Quinn said. “You’re looking at the board and saying, ‘All right, eight to 21, that’s 13 spots, well, there’s 13 good players I like there.’ So you got to do quick math and kind of look at your board and say, ‘All right, I can at least get that guy’ and kind of just evaluate it there.”

 

NFC SOUTH

 

ATLANTA

The Falcons have signed DT Ra’SHEDE HAGEMAN – a two-time loser to NFL suspensions.  Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com:

 

The Atlanta Falcons have re-signed former 2014 second-round draft pick Ra’Shede Hageman, whom they released in 2017 following domestic violence charges, to a one-year contract.

 

Hageman, who served a six-game suspension as a result of those March 2016 charges, now faces a two-game ban at the start of the 2019 season for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. Hageman was arrested for driving while impaired last June.

 

The Falcons and the 31 other teams were notified of Hageman’s suspension on April 5, according to an NFL official. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn said the team was willing to give another chance to the 28-year-old Hageman.

 

“As an organization we believe in opportunities when people take responsibility for their actions and are committed to change,” Dimitroff said in a statement. “We believe Ra’Shede understands that his conduct was wrong and has learned from his mistakes. He has met the obligations of the court in his prior matters and worked hard over the last two years, including community service, intensive course work and rehab.”

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

QB JOSH ROSEN speaks.  Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com:

 

 Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen has finally broken his offseason silence on the brewing situation with him, the organization and the likely first overall pick, Kyler Murray.

 

But as Rosen has done throughout his career, he did it his way.

 

Rosen opened up to SITV in an interview, which was released Thursday, conducted during a trip to the Grand Canyon with some UCLA teammates.

 

“I think the season probably went as poorly as it could possibly go,” Rosen said from an RV. “But within that, I had an unbelievable time. I think when people talk about, like, you can’t listen to criticism or you can’t read articles, you have to be aware of what’s going on to a certain extent. So I definitely understand the situation.

 

“It’s annoying, but it is what it is. Football’s a business, and I definitely respect the higher-ups and their decisions. We won three games, and each one of those wins — to me, it felt like we won the Super Bowl. And that feeling is so intoxicating, and that’s why I just want nothing more than to be part of a team next year and have the same opportunities to go out and compete.”

 

Rosen has remained quiet about his future with the team this offseason.

 

The Cardinals, who finished 3-13 last season, have the No. 1 pick in next week’s NFL draft and are widely expected to take Murray, the Heisman Trophy winner, if they don’t trade the pick. That would mean Rosen would either be traded or be teammates with Murray while competing for a starting job that was his last season.

 

On Tuesday, new Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said Rosen has been “phenomenal” through the offseason and has been the first one to show up to offseason workouts. General manager Steve Keim said he has had “good dialogue” with Rosen and called the quarterback a “pro’s pro.”

 

“I think the best advice I’ve ever gotten in life, from so many different people, is control what you can control,” Rosen said. “And whatever decisions are made, it’s my duty to prove them right if they keep me and prove them wrong if they ship me off.”

 

– – –

 

 

1          Sun, Sep 8                Detroit                   4:25 PM                  FOX

2          Sun, Sep 15              @ Baltimore          1:00 PM                FOX

3          Sun, Sep 22              Carolina                 4:05 PM                FOX

4          Sun, Sep 29              Seattle                   4:05 PM                FOX

5          Sun, Oct 6                 @ Cincinnati          1:00 PM                FOX

6          Sun, Oct 13              Atlanta                    4:05 PM                FOX

7          Sun, Oct 20               @ NY Giants         1:00 PM                FOX

8          Sun, Oct 27               @ New Orleans     1:00 PM                CBS

9          Thu, Oct 31               San Francisco        8:20 PM                FOX/NFLN

10        Sun, Nov 10              @ Tampa Bay        1:00 PM                FOX

11        Sun, Nov 17              @ San Francisco   4:05 PM                FOX

12        BYE

13        Sun, Dec 1                LA Rams                4:05 PM                FOX

14        Sun, Dec 8                Pittsburgh               4:25 PM                CBS

15        Sun, Dec 15              Cleveland               4:05 PM               CBS

16        Sun, Dec 22              @ Seattle               4:25 PM                FOX

17        Sun, Dec 29              @ LA Rams           4:25 PM                FOX

 

The Cardinals start with 4 of 6 at home, then go on the road for 4 of 5…Then there is a 3-game homestand with back-to-back CBS games…Everything but the Thursday night game at San Francisco starts in the early local window…If it is Kyler Murray, the Week 2 game at Baltimore vs. Lamar Jackson is actually pretty good theater…The Cardinals play the 49ers twice in just three weeks around Halloween…So both 49ers games are just before the bye, while both Rams games are in the five weeks after it.

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO

 

1          Sun, Sep 8               @ Tampa Bay                 4:25 PM            FOX

2          Sun, Sep 15             @ Cincinnati                    1:00 PM             FOX

3          Sun, Sep 22             Pittsburgh                        4:25 PM            CBS

4          BYE WEEK

5          Mon, Oct 7                Cleveland                       8:15 PM            ESPN

6          Sun, Oct 13               @ LA Rams                    4:05 PM            FOX

7          Sun, Oct 20               @ Washington               1:00 PM            FOX

8          Sun, Oct 27              Carolina                          4:05 PM            FOX

9          Thu, Oct 31               @ Arizona                      8:20 PM            FOX/NFLN

10        Mon, Nov 11             Seattle                            8:15 PM            ESPN          

11        Sun, Nov 17              Arizona                           4:05 PM            FOX

12        Sun, Nov 24              Green Bay                      4:25 PM            FOX

13        Sun, Dec 1                @ Baltimore                   1:00 PM            FOX

14        Sun, Dec 8                @ New Orleans              1:00 PM           FOX

15        Sun, Dec 15              Atlanta                             4:25 PM          FOX

16                                         LA Rams                          TBD             

17        Sun, Dec 29             @ Seattle                         4:25 PM           FOX

 

The NFL made the 49ers their “it” team last year with a schedule based on hope, not achievement, just as they did with the Browns this year…That all went down the drain when Jimmy Garoppolo went down, but San Francisco still gets a bit more love in 2019 than achievements would indicate…Three primetime games, including two home games on ESPN…Going from Thursday to the following Monday in Weeks 9 and 10 is sort of a mini-bye after the early Week 4 real bye week (which in itself is a day longer with a Monday return)…The Week 5 Monday game with the Browns is a match-up of the last two “it” teams…The 49ers get a three-game homestand in November…The Cardinals are met twice in three weeks in mid-season…Five of the eight road games are in the East, but the Tampa Bay opener is in the late window…All of the Sunday games are on the network that would traditionally be expected to carry them, so just one game on CBS.

 

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

 

 

1          Sun, Sep 8              @ Carolina                          1:00 PM             FOX

2          Sun, Sep 15            New Orleans                       4:25 PM             FOX

3          Sun, Sep 22            @ Cleveland                       8:20 PM             NBC

4          Sun, Sep 29            Tampa Bay                         4:05 PM             FOX

5          Thu, Oct 3               @ Seattle                            8:20 PM             FOX/NFLN

6          Sun, Oct 13             San Francisco                     4:05 PM             FOX

7          Sun, Oct 20              @ Atlanta                           1:00 PM             FOX

8          Sun, Oct 27              Cincinnati  (London)           1:00 PM             CBS

9          BYE  

10        Sun, Nov 10             @ Pittsburgh                      4:25 PM             FOX

11        Sun, Nov 17             Chicago                              8:20 PM            NBC

12        Mon, Nov 25            Baltimore                            8:15 PM             ESPN

13        Sun, Dec 1               @ Arizona                          4:05 PM             FOX

14        Sun, Dec 8               Seattle                                8:20 PM             NBC

15        Sun, Dec 15             @ Dallas                            4:25 PM            FOX

16                                         @ San Francisco              TBD            

17        Sun, Dec 29             Arizona                              4:25 PM            FOX

 

The NFL gives the defending NFC champs the full five-game primetime treatment including three in the last seven weeks…Plus the Rams go to London on CBS and look to have three Sunday games that will go to most of the country, including the Week 2 re-match with New Orleans on FOX…Almost perfectly balanced between home-and-away, although with a “home” game in London they won’t be at the Coliseum for over a month starting in mid-October…The Rams meet Arizona twice in the last five weeks.

 

 

SEATTLE

 

 

1          Sun, Sep 8              Cincinnati                   4:05 PM               CBS

2          Sun, Sep 15            @ Pittsburgh              1:00 PM               FOX

3          Sun, Sep 22            New Orleans              4:25 PM               CBS

4          Sun, Sep 29            @ Arizona                 4:05 PM                FOX

5          Thu, Oct 3              LA Rams                    8:20 PM                FOX/NFL

6          Sun, Oct 13            @ Cleveland              1:00 PM                FOX

7          Sun, Oct 20            Baltimore                    4:25 PM               FOX

8          Sun, Oct 27            @ Atlanta                   1:00 PM               FOX

9          Sun, Nov 3             Tampa Bay                 4:05 PM              FOX

10        Mon, Nov 11          @ San Francisco        8:15 PM              ESPN

11        BYE  

12        Sun, Nov 24           @ Philadelphia           8:20 PM              NBC

13        Mon, Dec 2            Minnesota                   8:15 PM               ESPN

14        Sun, Dec 8             @ LA Rams                8:20 PM              NBC

15        Sun, Dec 15           @ Carolina                 1:00 PM              FOX

16        Sun, Dec 22            Arizona                      4:25 PM              FOX

17        Sun, Dec 29            San Francisco            4:25 PM              FOX

 

Wow, the highly-compensated talents of Russell Wilson are scheduled to be on primetime display for four straight games over five weeks beginning in Week 10…Two of those dates (at Philly in Week 12 and at the Rams in week 14) are on NBC, so they could be flexed, but still it looks like the NFL thinks Seattle will be primetime worthy late in the year…Four games in the East in the early time slot for Seattle…Three of the last four against division foes…CBS takes the Week 3 game with New Orleans from the basic FOX inventory.

 

AFC WEST

 

DENVER

 

1          Mon, Sep 9              @ Oakland               10:20 PM          ESPN

2          Sun, Sep 15             Chicago                     4:25 PM           FOX

3          Sun, Sep 22             @ Green Bay            1:00 PM           FOX

4          Sun, Sep 29             Jacksonville               4:25 PM          CBS

5          Sun, Oct 6                @ LA Chargers         4:05 PM           CBS

6          Sun, Oct 13              Tennessee                4:25 PM          CBS

7          Thu, Oct 17               Kansas City              8:20 PM          FOX/NFLN

8          Sun, Oct 27               @ Indianapolis         4:25 PM           CBS

9          Sun, Nov 3                Cleveland                 4:25 PM          CBS

10        BYE

11        Sun, Nov 17             @ Minnesota             1:00 PM          CBS

12        Sun, Nov 24             @ Buffalo                  1:00 PM           CBS

13        Sun, Dec 1               LA Chargers              4:25 PM           CBS

14        Sun, Dec 8               @ Houston                1:00 PM           CBS

15        Sun, Dec 15             @ Kansas City          1:00 PM          CBS

16                                         Detroit                        TBD                    

17        Sun, Dec 29               Oakland                      4:25 PM         CBS

 

The Broncos season starts as it ends – with the Raiders…The opener is the ESPN late game, but after that not much NFL love in terms of primetime…Just the Week 7 Thursday home game where they try to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on FOX…The Week 16 home game with Detroit is one of five designated for Flexible assignment to NFL Network…After the Week 10 bye, the Broncos have four of five on the road, culminated by a rivalry game at Kansas City.

 

 

KANSAS CITY

 

 

1          Sun, Sep 8                    @ Jacksonville                  1:00 PM         CBS

2          Sun, Sep 15                  @ Oakland                        4:05 PM         CBS

3          Sun, Sep 22                  Baltimore                           1:00 PM         CBS

4          Sun, Sep 29                  @ Detroit                           1:00 PM         FOX

5          Sun, Oct 6                     Indianapolis                       8:20 PM         NBC

6          Sun, Oct 13                   Houston                             1:00 PM         CBS

7          Thu, Oct 17                   @ Denver                          8:20 PM         FOX/NFLN

8          Sun, Oct 27                   Green Bay                         8:20 PM         NBC

9          Sun, Nov 3                    Minnesota                          1:00 PM         FOX

10         Sun, Nov 10                  @ Tennessee                    1:00 PM         CBS

11         Mon, Nov 18                  @ LA Chargers                 8:15 PM         ESPN

12         BYE

13         Sun, Dec 1                    Oakland                             1:00 PM         CBS

14         Sun, Dec 8                    @ New England                4:25 PM         CBS

15         Sun, Dec 15                  Denver                               1:00 PM         CBS

16         Sun, Dec 22                  @ Chicago                         8:20 PM         NBC

17         Sun, Dec 29                  LA Chargers                      1:00 PM          CBS

 

With four regional games to start the year, the NFL takes its time bringing the Chiefs on to the main stage…But Kansas City does have the full five primetime games with three coming in a four-week span starting on October 6 when Andrew Luck and the Colts visit Arrowhead on NBC on Sunday night…Three of the five primetime games are on NBC, including a second visit for Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on October 27 with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers…CBS only gets the Chiefs for a Nantz/Romo late game one time, but it’s a big one when the Chiefs visit the Patriots in Week 14…Two road games to start the year…The first Chargers-Chiefs meeting isn’t until Week 11 on Monday night at LA.

 

 

THE RAIDERS

Interesting tweets, first Ian Rapoport, then Daniel Jeremiah:

 

@RapSheet

Sources: #Raiders coach Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock sent their scouts home for the weekend and they are not expected to return by draft time. The belief is they don’t know who to trust and wanted to clear the room.

 

@MoveTheSticks

When I started scouting in 2003, most teams allowed scouts and coaches to see the draft board. By 2012, most teams only allowed 3-4 people (HC/GM/Personnel Director/College Director) to have access to the board. This isn’t that unusual.

 

The DB can remember when assistant p.r. directors could see the draft board.

 

– – –

 

1          Mon, Sep 9                  Denver                    10:20 PM           ESPN

2          Sun, Sep 15                Kansas City               4:05 PM           CBS

3          Sun, Sep 22                @ Minnesota             1:00 PM           FOX

4          Sun, Sep 29                @ Indianapolis          1:00 PM CBS

5          Sun, Oct 6                   Chicago (London)      1:00 PM           FOX

6          BYE  

7          Sun, Oct 20                  @ Green Bay            1:00 PM          CBS

8          Sun, Oct 27                  @ Houston                1:00 PM          CBS

9          Sun, Nov 3                   Detroit                        4:05 PM           FOX

10        Thu, Nov 7                   LA Chargers              8:20 PM          FOX/NFLN

11        Sun, Nov 17                Cincinnati                   4:25 PM          CBS

12        Sun, Nov 24                @ NY Jets                  1:00 PM          CBS

13        Sun, Dec 1                  @ Kansas City           1:00 PM          CBS

14        Sun, Dec 8                   Tennessee                 4:25 PM          CBS

15        Sun, Dec 15                 Jacksonville                4:05 PM          CBS

16                                             @ LA Chargers          TBD               

17        Sun, Dec 29                 @ Denver                   4:25 PM          CBS

 

The final season in Oakland starts as last year did with a home game late on Monday.  This time the Raiders are hosting Denver (it was the Rams last year)…The Raiders return to London, this time to face the Bears on FOX (last year they were crushed in England by Seattle)…The final game in Oakland (barring a division title) is without fanfare against Jacksonville in Week 15…The Raiders meet all of their division opponents at home initially, then have the rematches on the road in December…Among the games played in the U.S. they have six with morning Pacific kickoffs…Three times they play a morning game, go back to Oakland, then play a morning game the next week…Like the Chargers, the Raiders International “home” game is sandwiched amongst a bunch of road games…With a bye in the mix, the Raiders will not play in Oakland between September 15 and November 3 (clearing the way for the A’s in the postseason)…Then five of seven at home, including three in a row, before the last two on the road.

 

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

 

1          Sun, Sep 8                   Indianapolis                  4:05 PM         CBS

2          Sun, Sep 15                 @ Detroit                      1:00 PM         CBS

3          Sun, Sep 22                 Houston                        4:25 PM         CBS

4          Sun, Sep 29                 @ Miami                       1:00 PM         CBS

5          Sun, Oct 6                    Denver                         4:05 PM         CBS

6          Sun, Oct 13                  Pittsburgh                     8:20 PM         NBC

7          Sun, Oct 20                  @ Tennessee               4:05 PM         CBS

8          Sun, Oct 27                 @ Chicago                    1:00 PM         FOX

9          Sun, Nov 3                   Green Bay                    4:25 PM         CBS

10        Thu, Nov 7                   @ Oakland                   8:20 PM          FOX/NFLN

11        Mon, Nov 18                Kansas City (Mexico)   8:15 PM          ESPN

12        BYE

13        Sun, Dec 1                   @ Denver                    4:25 PM          CBS

14        Sun, Dec 8                   @ Jacksonville            4:05 PM          FOX

15        Sun, Dec 15                 Minnesota                    8:20 PM         NBC

16                                             Oakland                       TBD              

17        Sun, Dec 29                 @ Kansas City             1:00 PM         CBS

 

The DB had heard that the networks were not anxious to bring their biggest shows into the stadium now known as ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park, but the NFL has put NBC’s huge Sunday night extravaganza in their twice for visits from Pittsburgh and Minnesota…The DB is already thinking NBC will be antsy to Flex out of Vikings-Chargers in Week 15 if the Pittsburgh game is a mess…The Chargers have a 3rd “home” game in primetime, but it is the Mexico City match-up with the Chiefs.  Can you imagine if the field is a mess again and they have to cram the ESPN game into Dignity Health Sports Park on short notice…Just as happened with the Buccaneers and their foreign home game, the NFL crammed the Chargers Mexico match into an already road heavy run.  The Bolts will play only one time in Los Angeles between October 13 and December 15 (eight weeks with one game at their true if temporary home)…That’s after four home games in the first six…FOX will not televise a game from DHSP, picking up the Chargers twice in Flexed road games at Chicago and Jacksonville…The traditional FOX game with the Packers, goes to CBS for a Nantz/Romo Fest on November 13…Only 1 of LAC’s first nine games is in the division, which means that 5 of the last 7 are against AFC West foes.

 

AFC NORTH

 

BALTIMORE

 

1          Sun, Sep 8                  @ Miami                     1:00 PM           CBS

2          Sun, Sep 15                Arizona                        1:00 PM          FOX

3          Sun, Sep 22                @ Kansas City           1:00 PM           CBS

4          Sun, Sep 29                Cleveland                   1:00 PM           CBS

5          Sun, Oct 6                    @ Pittsburgh              1:00 PM          CBS

6          Sun, Oct 13                 Cincinnati                    1:00 PM          CBS

7          Sun, Oct 20                 @ Seattle                    4:25 PM           FOX     

8          BYE

9          Sun, Nov 3                  New England              8:20 PM           NBC

10        Sun, Nov 10               @ Cincinnati                1:00 PM          CBS

11        Sun, Nov 17               Houston                       1:00 PM           CBS

12        Mon, Nov 25              @ LA Rams                 8:15 PM           ESPN

13        Sun, Dec 1                 San Francisco             1:00 PM           FOX

14        Sun, Dec 8                 @ Buffalo                    1:00 PM           CBS

15        Thu, Dec 12               NY Jets                        8:20 PM          FOX/NFL

16        Sun, Dec 22               @ Cleveland                1:00 PM          CBS

17        Sun, Dec 29                Pittsburgh                    1:00 PM         CBS

 

Three primetime games starting with a tasty home match-up with the Patriots in Week 9…Baltimore’s first 7 weeks are all in the early window on Sunday…In fact the only late Sunday game for the Ravens is the Week 7 trip to Seattle on FOX…Then there is this:

 

The Ravens do not have a homestand or a road trip since they alternate home and away games the entire season. They open the season with a Sept. 8 game at Miami and then go home-away-home-away through season’s send. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Ravens will be the fourth team since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978 to get a schedule that is completely balanced. The other three teams — Atlanta in 2012, Tampa Bay in 1991 and the Falcons again in 1985.

 

 

CINCINNATI

 

1          Sun, Sep 8                @ Seattle              4:05 PM             CBS

2          Sun, Sep 15              San Francisco       1:00 PM             FOX

3          Sun, Sep 22              @ Buffalo              1:00 PM             CBS

4          Mon, Sep 30             @ Pittsburgh         8:15 PM             ESPN

5          Sun, Oct 6                Arizona                  1:00 PM             FOX

6          Sun, Oct 13              @ Baltimore           1:00 PM             CBS

7          Sun, Oct 20              Jacksonville            1:00 PM            CBS

8          Sun, Oct 27              LA Rams (London) 1:00 PM             CBS

9          BYE

10        Sun, Nov 10             Baltimore                1:00 PM             CBS

11        Sun, Nov 17             @ Oakland             4:25 PM             CBS

12        Sun, Nov 24             Pittsburgh               1:00 PM             CBS

13        Sun, Dec 1               NY Jets                   1:00 PM             CBS

14        Sun, Dec 8               @ Cleveland           1:00 PM             CBS

15        Sun, Dec 15             New England          1:00 PM              CBS

16        Sun, Dec 22            @ Miami                  1:00 PM              CBS

17        Sun, Dec 29            Cleveland                1:00 PM             CBS

 

The Bengals miss out on a Thursday game with a token ESPN Monday Night offering their only non-vanilla game.  That comes in Week 4 when they provide the opposition in Pittsburgh…The Bengals do get to travel to London to take on the Rams on CBS in Week 8…Everything else is early in the East and early Pacific time on the two West Coast trips…Three of the first four are on the road, four of the last six at home…They don’t see the Browns for the first time until Week 14 and by that time they are done with Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

 

 

CLEVELAND

 

1          Sun, Sep 8                 Tennessee               1:00 PM              CBS

2          Mon, Sep 16              @ NY Jets                8:15 PM              ESPN

3          Sun, Sep 22               LA Rams                  8:20 PM              NBC

4          Sun, Sep 29               @ Baltimore             1:00 PM             CBS

5          Mon, Oct 7                 @ San Francisco      8:15 PM             ESPN

6          Sun, Oct 13                  Seattle                      1:00 PM              FOX

7          BYE

8          Sun, Oct 27                  @ New England        4:25 PM             CBS

9          Sun, Nov 3                   @ Denver                  4:25 PM             CBS

10        Sun, Nov 10                 Buffalo                       1:00 PM             CBS

11        Thu, Nov 14                 Pittsburgh                  8:20 PM             FOX/NFL

12        Sun, Nov 24                 Miami                        1:00 PM              CBS

13        Sun, Dec 1                   @ Pittsburgh             4:25 PM              CBS

14        Sun, Dec 8                   Cincinnati                  1:00 PM              CBS

15        Sun, Dec 15                 @ Arizona                  4:05 PM             CBS

16        Sun, Dec 22                 Baltimore                    1:00 PM             CBS

17        Sun, Dec 29                 @ Cincinnati               1:00 PM             CBS

 

The Browns will have three primetime games before Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have one…Primetime in Weeks 2 and 3 back-to-back…Plus Tony Romo games against the Patriots and Steelers (Denver should be secondary to Green Bay at Chargers)…A three-game home stand in November…Only one division game in the first 9, then five NFC North foes in the last 7…Pittsburgh twice in three weeks starting in Week 11…If the rest of the division isn’t very good, the Browns look like they could finish 8-0.

 

 

PITTSBURGH

 

1          Sun, Sep 8                 @ New England            8:20 PM            NBC

2          Sun, Sep 15               Seattle                           1:00 PM            FOX

3          Sun, Sep 22               @ San Francisco          4:25 PM            CBS

4          Mon, Sep 30              Cincinnati                      8:15 PM            ESPN

5          Sun, Oct 6                  Baltimore                       1:00 PM            CBS

6          Sun, Oct 13                @ LA Chargers             8:20 PM           NBC

7          BYE

8          Mon, Oct 28                Miami                            8:15 PM           ESPN

9          Sun, Nov 3                  Indianapolis                  1:00 PM            CBS

10        Sun, Nov 10                LA Rams                      4:25 PM            FOX

11        Thu, Nov 14                @ Cleveland                8:20 PM            FOX/NFL

12        Sun, Nov 24                @ Cincinnati                1:00 PM            CBS

13        Sun, Dec 1                  Cleveland                     4:25 PM           CBS

14        Sun, Dec 8                  @ Arizona                    4:25 PM           CBS

15        Sun, Dec 15                Buffalo                         1:00 PM            CBS

16        Sun, Dec 22                @ NY Jets                   1:00 PM            CBS

17        Sun, Dec 29                @ Baltimore                 1:00 PM           CBS

 

The NFL gave the Steelers their customary full complement of five primetime games despite the tumult of the departures of WR ANTONIO BROWN and RB Le’VEON BELL and aging of BEN ROETHLISBERGER…We do note that they are somewhat frontloaded, all out of the way by Week 11, and that game with the Browns on FOX Thursday could mark the changing of the guard…The Steelers last six games are all on CBS.  The Week 13 re-match with the Browns could be Romo worthy, but the rest don’t scream big game…There is a three-game homestand after the bye, so the Steelers don’t leave Pittsburgh from October 13 to November 14…But five of the last seven are on the road.

– – –

 

Howard Bryant of ESPN.com says it’s the Steelers fault that WR ANTONIO BROWN and RB Le’VEON BELL talked their way out of town.  He also puts WR MIKE WALLACE in their crowd, which seems a stretch.

 

When there is chaos in the NFL, or at least drama, the Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders are a decent guess to be the culprits. When it comes to losing players, the Browns could traditionally be counted on to watch their best play better for someone else. These negative characteristics have rarely been associated with Pittsburgh, a franchise that has won six Super Bowls and has had three coaches since the Vietnam War ended. From players to coaches to ownership — the Rooney family has owned the team since its inception in 1933 — the Steelers have been the haven of stability. They’ve been the rock, the family business that appeared to settle issues the old-fashioned way, with common sense, dignity to both parties and a handshake.

 

Not anymore. Today’s Steelers are defined by grudge and grievance. They are defined by Mike Wallace, who in 2013 engineered his way to the Dolphins — the Dolphins whose one winning season since 2008 came in 2016, when Wallace was already two teams removed from them. They are defined by Antonio Brown, maybe the best wide receiver in the game today, who forced his way this March to the calming waters of — yes — the Raiders, the 4-12, they-traded-Khalil-Mack Raiders. They are defined by Le’Veon Bell, who forfeited tens of millions of dollars he will very likely never recoup to land with the Jets, the 4-12 Jets who have finished in last place four of the past five years and haven’t made the playoffs since 2011. They are defined by the fact that, over the past half-decade, three of their most talented skill players have been willing to absorb self-inflicted wounds to their reputations and their bank accounts with one objective in mind: to not play football for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

But maybe the wounds aren’t so self-inflicted after all, for revolutions often occur in the places where stability is mistaken for peace. The problem is the Steelers themselves. Over the past 20 years, the three teams best known for being financially penurious have been the Eagles, the Patriots and the Steelers. This reality is set against the larger backdrop: Football players are exploited. Their bodies are disposable by the facts of the profession, the overwhelming financial advantages of the front offices and the locker room machismo culture the players perpetrate, even as it destroys their leverage. (Next Man Up, and commence eye roll.)

 

By not paying players, the Steelers are one of the teams that have been ripest for a player revolt. During Bell’s holdout, which lasted the entire 2018 season, Wallace went on social media and referred to his own desire to earn his financial value within the short window of an NFL career. However, this is not just a financial conflict but a racial/political/class one, for the Steelers over the past few years have been both cheap and condescending. The team’s general manager, Kevin Colbert, essentially said this offseason that QB Ben Roethlisberger was the only adult in the room. “He has 52 kids in the room under him, quite honestly,” Colbert said. It was a comment that revealed the underlying fractures that exist in a football locker room, where black players are expected to perform without complaint, to be grateful for being “rescued” from the ghetto, and are spoken to with an insulting paternalism. Colbert spoke of Roethlisberger, who is now 37, as bigger than his entire team. “If our players were smart,” Colbert said, “they’d listen to him because he’s been there, he’s done it.”

 

To players such as Bell and Brown, both currently as good if not better at what they do than Roethlisberger, it was a horrible insult. In 2018, Roethlisberger threw for a career-high 5,129 yards, but 52 percent of his yards went to Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. He is neither self-made nor infallible. Brown exposed the subtext to the conflict here when he tweeted in February that Roethlisberger had an “owner’s mentality” — an apparent reference to the quarterback’s criticism of players without accepting any himself, as well as appearing to align himself with the front office over his teammates.

 

The issue now isn’t whether the franchise can “move on” from Bell and Brown, or whether its GM can heal a fractious locker room from his own asinine comments, but the organization’s seeming unwillingness to ask itself the obvious: Why are its best offensive players actively trying to leave? The Steelers probably already know the answer: Roethlisberger is one part of the problem. Colbert is another. If Brown were an isolated incident, perhaps the Steelers’ response could be justified as addition by subtraction. But being cool with losing two Hall of Fame-level talents likely means the problem lies in the mirror.

 

AFC SOUTH

 

HOUSTON

An update on the contract situation of EDGE JADEVEON CLOWNEY.  Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle:

 

Texans general manager Brian Gaine hasn’t altered his philosophy when it comes to Pro Bowl pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney.

 

The intention remains to sign the former top overall pick to a long-term contract extension.

 

Clowney is an unsigned franchise player who has opted to not sign his $15.967 million tender and isn’t attending voluntary workouts.

 

“Yes,” Gaine said when asked Thursday if he remains optimistic about signing Clowney to an extension. “That’s the spirit of the franchise tag. There’s a reason why we did that, with every hope and intention of continuing to work on that. That’s a negotiation.

 

“It’s a process. It has to be a deal that makes sense for both sides – for the player, for the organization as it relates to short-term and long-term. So, that’s still the plan.”

 

No deal is in sight or expected anytime soon, though, for Clowney.

 

Under the NFL collective bargaining agreement, Clowney is not required to attend any offseason activities, including workouts, organized team activities, minicamps or training camp.

 

The cost for elite pass rushers and run-stoppers keeps going up, including a six-year, $141 million deal for the Chicago Bears’ Khalil Mack and a six-year, $135 million contract for Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The most recent deals for top pass rushers include Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence’s five-year, $105 million contract that includes $65 million guaranteed, a $25 million signing bonus and an average of $21 million per year and Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers’ five-year, $90 million contract that includes $56 million guaranteed.

 

Under NFL collective bargaining agreement rules, governing franchise players, the Texans have until July 15 to sign Clowney to a long-term deal. Otherwise, he must play this season under the franchise tender.

 

The Texans utilized the non-exclusive franchise tag designation.. The Texans can match any competing offer or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

 

If Clowney misses any regular-season games, he would forfeit a $939,235 game check each week.

 

“Of course, I want to come back,” Clowney said when asked at the end of the season about the franchise tag. “I promise to the Texans and whoever else is watching that I’m going to be a much better, improved player next season. I haven’t been thinking about a contract.

 

“If I come back and play well like I know I’m going to, contract will take care of itself. I’m going to work on my craft and work on my game. That’s what I’m worrying about.”

 

Clowney has been named to three consecutive Pro Bowls.

 

He recorded 47 tackles, nine sacks, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, one touchdown, 16 tackles for losses and 21 quarterback hits last season. He has registered 18 1/2 sacks and 53 tackles for losses over the past two seasons.

 

Clowney, 26, has overcome durability issues that dogged him earlier in his career, including undergoing microfracture knee surgery. He has played in all but one game over the past two seasons.

 

Clowney’s rare explosiveness has made him a dangerous force at the line of scrimmage. He has improved his work ethic and coach Bill O’Brien reiterated that at the NFL scouting combine.

 

“I don’t comment on what other people say,” O’Brien said when asked about reports critical of Clowney’s work ethic. “I’ve had a really good experience with JD. He’s played good football for us. He’s a good person. I’ve enjoyed coaching him. I have nothing but good things to say about JD.”

 

 

JACKSONVILLE

The NFLPA didn’t like the way Tom Coughlin used the word “voluntary.”  John Breech of CBSSports.com:

 

When the Jacksonville Jaguars kicked off their offseason workout program on Monday, there were two very noticeable absences in the form of Jalen Ramsey and Telvin Smith.

 

When it comes to offseason workouts, players are technically allowed to stay at home, and that’s because the workouts are voluntary. Apparently, someone forgot to relay that fact to Jaguars executive vice president Tom Coughlin, because he seemed pretty upset on Thursday when he was asked about Ramsey and Smith being no-shows.

 

“We’re close to 100 percent attendance — and quite frankly all of our players should be here,” Coughlin said, via the team’s official website.

 

Although Coughlin’s one sentence answer doesn’t seem like much, he might have actually violated NFL rules with his statement. Under the collective bargaining agreement, club officials are not allowed to make players feel like they have to attend any specific workout, which is basically what Coughlin might have done.

 

From the CBA:

 

“No Club official may indicate to a player that the Club’s offseason workout program or classroom instruction is not voluntary (or that a player’s failure to participate in a workout program or classroom instruction will result in the player’s failure to make the Club or result in any other adverse consequences affecting his working conditions).”

 

NFLPA president Eric Winston clearly wasn’t happy with Coughlin’s comments, because he released a statement on Thursday and hinted that the player’s association might pursue action against the Jaguars executive for violating the CBA.

 

“Our CBA definition of voluntary is the same as the actual definition of voluntary and prohibits anyone from threatening players to participate in voluntary workouts,” Winston said, via Pro Football Talk. “This is precisely the reason players negotiated strict work rules and bright lines when it comes to offseason activities. We know, from experience, that not all coaches and executives will adhere to them and we always pursue any violations to protect our rules.”

 

If the NFL decides to investigate and finds that Coughlin violated any rules, the Jaguars could potentially be fined or even lose a draft pick, which are two punishments that have been handed out recently to other teams for violating the CBA during the offseason. The NFL has also punished teams by making them forfeit future offseason workout sessions.

 

Although Coughlin was upset that Ramsey and Smith didn’t show up this week, Jags coach Doug Marrone definitely got the memo that players aren’t required to attend.

 

“It’s a voluntary period; it’s an option,” Marrone said Tuesday, via the team’s official website. “I don’t try to concern myself with things that are out of my control. I’m sure they’re both working hard.”

 

if the league does decide to investigate Coughlin, it wouldn’t be the first time. During his first season as Giants coach in 2004, Coughlin was investigated for potential violations of the NFL’s offseason workout rules. 

 

AFC EAST

 

MIAMI

Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com doesn’t want the Dolphins to settle for just any old quarterback.

 

The Miami Dolphins’ 2019 NFL draft board is written down in pencil, and trade-up and trade-down scenarios have been thrown around since the NFL’s annual owners meetings happened in March.

 

But there’s an increasingly likely scenario that the Dolphins have to be prepared for on Thursday during the first round of the draft: Their top realistic quarterback prospect (after Kyler Murray) could fall within a few spots or possibly fall to their No. 13 selection. Will Miami draft him (likely Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock) or pass because he’s not worthy of being their franchise quarterback?

 

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier will have final say on that decision, and the pressure is on Grier and his staff to resist the temptation to settle on a quarterback whom they like but don’t love.

 

“The pressure is self-imposed,” Grier said. “I would like every pick to work and everyone saying how great of a job you do. But it’s going to happen — you’re going to miss on guys and get criticized. At the end of the day, when you build through the draft, it’s important. … Mistakes are inevitably going to happen, but you want to try to limit to maybe one a draft or something like that.”

 

And that one mistake can’t be at quarterback.

 

Many NFL franchises have been set back several years because of a poor draft selection at the game’s most important position. It’s nearly impossible to win a championship without a good one. And there lies the dilemma of the rebuilding Dolphins — maybe the NFL’s most quarterback-needy team — drafting from a QB class with so much uncertainty after Murray, the potential No. 1 overall pick.

 

When asked if he sees any potential franchise quarterbacks in the 2019 class, Grier hesitated, and said, “Umm, there could be.” He then described how much risk there is in drafting first-round quarterbacks, particularly those who have so little starting experience in college — such as Haskins (he started only 14 games at Ohio State).

 

“Quarterbacks have been so hit-and-miss. If you study them, 50 percent or less end up becoming even good starting quarterbacks. So it’s hard to say,” Grier said. “But every class has one or two quarterbacks who become a good player in the league.

 

“This is a good class of quarterbacks. I would say that, again, like all of them, this class probably has some players that haven’t started as many games as you would like to see in terms of helping paint the picture for what they could be, so it’s a little more projection on a lot of them.”

 

If you read the tea leaves from Grier and the Dolphins throughout this offseason, one would glean that Miami isn’t in “love” with any of the non-Murray quarterbacks in this draft.

 

Veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick is the Dolphins’ current starting quarterback. Despite his colorful personality and strong locker room presence, the Dolphins cannot be taken seriously as a playoff contender until they draft a true franchise quarterback.

 

The temptation of nabbing a highly touted quarterback in the first round, and selling hope to a fan base that desperately wants a star to root for, is tantalizing. And the blowback of passing on one might be heavy, too.

 

With a newly drafted first-round quarterback, interest in the team would increase. What looks like an arduous multiyear rebuild would have a bright, marketable face at QB to get everyone through the dark days. Locker room morale likely would go up and new coach Brian Flores would have even stronger ground to stand on as he tries to build a winning culture in Miami. Haskins and Lock might even be good enough to be long-term starters.

 

 

NEW ENGLAND

More on the sleazy prosecution of Patriots owner Robert Kraft.  The AP:

 

Attorneys for two of the women charged in a Florida prostitution sting asked a judge on Thursday to hold police and prosecutors in contempt of court following reports that someone was shopping around undercover video of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

 

The motion was filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court by attorneys for Lei Wang and Hua Zhang, who are accused of working at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter.

 

The attorneys cited a New York Daily News story that reports an unknown person had contacted TheBlast.com with footage of Kraft naked with another person, presumably the massage therapist. The attorneys said only police and prosecutors have access to the footage, which a judge has temporarily barred from release. The attorneys argued that releasing the footage would violate their clients’ rights to privacy and fair trials.

 

Jupiter police spokesman O’Neil Anderson told The Associated Press that he doubts the authenticity of the reports. He said his department has taken every precaution to secure the evidence, and he doesn’t believe anyone in the police department or State Attorney’s Office would leak the video.

 

Anderson also pointed out that no websites or news organizations have actually shown a video.

 

“If anyone had it, they would have released it by now,” Anderson said.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

2019 DRAFT

Some sleepers Mike Renner of ProFootballFocus.com:

 

Anyone can tell you that 2019 NFL draft prospects Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams are going to be good players at the next level. Where draft evaluators separate themselves is filling out their rosters with quality starters on Days 2 on 3.

 

Using Pro Football Focus grades — we grade every play of every game of the college football season — here are 10 prospects our advanced staff and draft analysts love more than the general consensus. All statistics and rankings below are from PFF.

 

David Long, CB, Michigan

Position ranking: No. 4

Overall ranking: No. 33

Few cornerbacks have been stingier than Long since we started college charting in 2014. In 595 coverage snaps in his three seasons at Michigan, he was targeted 60 times and allowed all of 18 receptions — the vast majority of which were throws underneath — for 130 yards and a passer rating of 24.3. On targets 10-plus yards downfield, Long yielded only four completions on 29 attempts for 59 yards while breaking up 13. Those stats are out of this world.

 

In his combine performance, leading the 3-cone and short shuttles, Long showed that he has the athleticism to translate to the next level. Teams might take him off their boards entirely because he is shorter than 5-foot-11 with less than 31-inch arms, but if they do, they’ll miss out on a great player.

 

Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois

Position ranking: No. 7

Overall ranking: No. 47

 

We had a hunch that Saunders was a special talent after he posted the second-highest grade of any defensive lineman in the pass-rushing one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl. So we went back and graded all his games this past season, and it made us realize that it was more than a hunch.

 

Saunders has tremendous movement skills for a 324-pound nose tackle — so much so that Western Illinois lined him up as an edge defender on 53 snaps this past season. Saunders was asked to be more of a run-first player and dominated in that regard. His 11-percent run-stop percentage ranks fifth among defensive tackles in the draft class.

 

Diontae Johnson, WR, Toledo

Position ranking: No. 11

Overall ranking: No. 77

 

There might not be a more electric player with the ball in his hands than Johnson in this class. He led the nation in punt return average the past two seasons, averaging 19.9 yards per return while notching four total return touchdowns in that span.

 

In 2017, Johnson racked up more than 1,200 yards and earned the fourth-highest receiving grade in the nation. This past season, he was hampered by a downgrade at quarterback from Logan Woodside and a newfound drop habit (eight drops on 57 catchable passes), but the playmaking ability remained. Johnson broke 10 tackles on his 49 catches in 2018.

 

Diontae Johnson’s big-play ability — both as a receiver and as a returner — makes him an intriguing prospect in the middle rounds. Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire

 

Hjalte Froholdt, OG, Arkansas

Position ranking: No. 4

Overall ranking: No. 55

 

Pass protection on the interior is never going to catch your eye like a pancake block does, but the former is far more valuable than the latter as an evaluator. That’s likely one of the only reasons Froholdt isn’t in the conversation as the draft’s top guard.

 

He’s far softer in the run game than you’d like and rarely moved people off the line of scrimmage in the SEC. As a pass protector, though, his hands, feet and technique are all top-notch. Froholdt allowed all of five pressures between center and guard last season. He held up better against Quinnen Williams than any other offensive lineman all season (zero pressures on 41 pass-blocking snaps). That alone should tell you that he can step in and play at the next level.

 

Maxx Crosby, Edge, Eastern Michigan

Position ranking: No. 12

Overall ranking: No. 72

 

Few edge defenders in this class can go toe-to-toe with Crosby when it comes to on-field production. He racked up 133 pressures in his career at Eastern Michigan (ninth in the class) and 72 run stops (seventh).

 

His projection to the NFL is murky coming from the MAC, but it helps that he’s a freak athletically. Crosby put up a 4.66 40 at the combine and bolstered it with an absurd 6.89 3-cone and 4.13 short shuttle. Those are freakish numbers for a 6-foot-5, 255-pound edge defender.

 

Ronheen Bingham, Edge, Arkansas State

Position ranking: No. 11

Overall ranking: No. 63

 

On a snap-for-snap basis in 2018, no one won more as a pass-rusher than Bingham. The Arkansas State edge defender is a bit of a one-trick pony, but it’s a great trick. He has a ferocious spin move that was as unblockable a move as we saw in the country.

 

Bingham even got Alabama left tackle Jonah Williams with it in their early-season matchup for an almost sack. He finished the season with a 31.7 percent win rate as a pass-rusher, the highest in the country.

 

Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State

Position ranking: No. 5

Overall ranking: No. 95

 

One of the biggest skills a tight end needs to bring to the table in the NFL is the ability to catch the ball in traffic. The space most players see when working the middle of the field in college is palatial compared to what they’ll see in the pros. That’s why one feels comfortable about the projection of a tight end such as Oliver, who proved his ability to haul in passes in traffic again and again.

 

The San Jose State tight end led the position in contested catches this past season, and it wasn’t particularly close. His 16 contested catches were four more than that of the next tight end in the draft (Kaden Smith) and ranked 10th among all players in the country.

 

Te’Von Coney, LB, Notre Dame

Position ranking: No. 3

Overall ranking: No. 57

 

While freaky athleticism helps at the linebacker position, it’s not a dealbreaker for what makes a good player. Darius Leonard dominated as a rookie with middling testing numbers only a season ago. Coney similarly plays much more quickly than his testing numbers and has exceptional balance. He missed only 17 tackles on 319 attempts in his college career.

 

In coverage the past two seasons, he allowed only 16 first downs while racking up 30 coverage stops. While other players might have more untapped “upside,” with Coney you know you’re getting a solid pro.

 

Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison

Position ranking: No. 11

Overall ranking: No. 85

 

This one is cheating a bit because, unlike Saunders, we don’t have all of Moreland’s snaps graded. The ones we do show one of the feistiest corners in the entire draft class, though.

 

In the five graded games we have of Moreland the past two seasons, he allowed 23 receptions on 46 targets but picked off four passes and broke up three others. He finished his career as James Madison’s all-time interceptions leader, with 18. Moreland is as physical a 5-foot-9, 179-pound corner as you’ll see (he racked up five penalties against East Carolina back in 2017). If you can rein him in a tad, you’ll have one heckuva slot corner.

 

Max Scharping, OT, Northern Illinois

Position ranking: No. 7

Overall ranking: No. 50

 

It might not have looked the prettiest, but all Scharping did for four seasons at NIU was get the job done. His lowest single-season pass-blocking grade in that span was an 87.2 that came in 2016. He allowed all of 33 pressures on 1,894 pass-blocking snaps in his college career. At a hulking 6-foot-6, 327 pounds, he can be a starting tackle in the NFL sooner rather than later.