AROUND THE NFL

Peter King with six games that became more compelling after the draft (we added the network the game is currently slated for):

 

Here are the games that got more compelling after the draft:

 

Sunday, Sept. 8. Detroit at Arizona. It’ll be a major upset if this is not the debut of Kyler Murray in the Valley of the Sun, and the unveiling of Kliff Kingsbury’s edgy offense too—he won’t be showing much in the preseason.  FOX

 

Monday, Sept. 9. Denver at Oakland. Talk about two new teams. Joe Flacco throwing to Noah Fant. Kareem Jackson covering Antonio Brown, Bryce Callahan trying to blanket Tyrell Williams. Josh Jacobs getting 20 touches (at least) against the rebuilding Denver D in Vic Fangio’s head-coaching debut. What a fun game this should be. ESPN

 

Sunday, Sept. 22. Pittsburgh at San Francisco. Nick Bosa begins his career with two road games against average quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton. Here in Week 3, he plays his first home game against tree-trunk QB Ben Roethlisberger and a premier offensive line. This game will be the first acid test for Bosa. CBS

 

Sunday, Oct. 6. Baltimore at Pittsburgh. Devin Bush: This game’s one of the big reasons why the Steelers used first, second and third-round picks to draft you 10th overall. Today’s the day you’ve got to chase/neutralize/bash Lamar Jackson, the quarterback of your new nemesis. CBS

 

Sunday, Dec. 15. Cleveland at Arizona. The Lincoln Riley Bowl. The last two Heisman winners, good pals Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, meet in the desert. Another note: Just imagine if someone had said a year ago that one of the interesting NFL games of 2019 would be Freddie Kitchens matching wits with Kliff Kingsbury. Good example of “NFL” really meaning Not For Long. CBS

 

Sunday, Dec. 22. Giants at Washington. Week 16 for New York and Washington could be meaningless, wait-till-2020 stuff. But by this time, I’m assuming Daniel Jones is starting for the Giants, and a Daniel Jones-Dwayne Haskins matchup, which could be the first of many test matches between the two 2019 first-round QBs (they meet in Week 4 too, when Jones will still presumably be on the bench for the Giants). Dave Gettleman watches intently. FOX

 

NFC EAST

 

DALLAS

Ryan Young of YahooSports.com on the plans of the Cowboys for RB EZEKIEL ELLIOTT:

 

The Dallas Cowboys will undoubtedly sign running back Ezekiel Elliott to a lucrative contract extension in the near future.

 

After the three years he’s had in the NFL, Elliott has more than earned it.

 

Don’t expect that deal to get done anytime soon, however.

 

“Well, I think those [deals] are all a work in progress,” Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said on Pro Football Talk on Friday. “Certainly we’ve got a couple years there with Zeke to get that done. We certainly want to get him done. He’s the straw, if you will, that stirs our drink. He’s a key part of what we’re about.

 

“Those things take time to get done. They don’t happen overnight. Certainly he’s a priority in terms of ultimately getting him signed. There hasn’t really been a timetable put on this.”

 

Elliott ran for 1,434 yards on 304 carries last season — both the most in the league — and had nine total touchdowns while leading Dallas to the NFC divisional round in the playoffs.

 

The Cowboys still have plenty of time to lock Elliott down with a longterm deal, however. Dallas picked up his fifth-year rookie option last month, which will keep the running back with the organization through the 2020 season.

 

Jones also said in February the organization has budgeted for a longterm deal with Elliott, and will likely use running back Todd Gurley — who signed a four-year, $60 million deal with the Los Angeles Rams last summer, the largest deal given to a running back in league history — as a blueprint for that deal.

 

Elliott is “right there at the top of the best in the business, if not the best,” Jones said in February, via the Dallas Morning News. “We certainly saw what Gurley got paid, and we know that’s probably where it starts, and we’ll go from there.”

 

Before he gets to Elliott, however, Jones has other priorities — which he thinks can actually help Elliott on the field.

 

Jones said last month that the team wants to sign quarterback Dak Prescott to a longterm deal before the season starts this fall. He also wants to extend deals for wide receiver Amari Cooper and cornerback Byron Jones — who are both playing on their fifth-year options this season.

 

Getting all of those pieces together, and doing so at the right time, will certainly be a challenge. If he does it right, and can get everybody on the same page, Jones thinks his offense can take a big step forward this season.

 

“I think the biggest thing is to really marry everything up so that we’re a little harder to diagnose when we snap the ball,” Jones said on Pro Football Talk. “Hopefully we’ll be able to accomplish that. Obviously we have a great running back there with Zeke. … Certainly having that offense click and do some things that we think will make us better as a unit can really make a difference.”

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Adam Schefter thinks the Giants could have drafted QB DANIEL JONES at 30.  This from Peter King:

 

From this week’s Adam Schefter Podcast, Schefter weighing in on Giants GM Dave Gettleman’s claim that there were two teams that would have taken Daniel Jones before the 17th pick in the first round:

 

“I can’t find two teams. I think he’s referring, as most people would agree, to the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins. The Washington Redskins were a Dwayne Haskins team all along … The Denver Broncos were not taking Daniel Jones in the first round. That’s not the guy they wanted. At one point in time, I can tell you this for a fact, Daniel Jones intrigued them. They were curious about him. Then they shifted to go to Drew Lock. Drew Lock was gonna be the quarterback, and they didn’t want to do that in the first round … Could Cincinnati at 11 have been the sleeper team that Gettleman knows for fact could have taken [Jones]? Could Carolina [at 16]? Sure. Anything’s possible. But I firmly believe that Daniel Jones would have been on the clock for the New York Giants at number 17. I believe, actually, that Daniel Jones might have been on the clock when the New York Giants traded back up in the first round to go get Deandre Baker at that point in time, Deandre Baker at number 30.”

 

We’ll never know who’s telling the truth and who’s not on Jones. The fact is, if Denver was a Jones team till switching to Lock, as Schefter says, it’s possible that Gettleman counts the Broncos as one of the teams sure to pick Jones, seeing as though at one point they appeared to prefer him. As I wrote last week and continue to believe, I don’t think there were two teams between 6 and 17 that would have taken Jones had the Giants passed. But that story’s been beaten into the ground, so now all that matters is whether Jones can play. At some point this season, we ought to start finding out if he can.

 

But this from David Cutcliffe:

 

“I know things that I can’t reveal, but he would have gone well before [the 17th pick]. There were people that quietly had their heart set on him.”

 

—Duke coach David Cutcliffe, on whether the Giants, who picked quarterback Daniel Jones sixth overall, would have been able to wait till the 17th overall pick to snag Jones.

 

Maybe. I’m not buying it, but this is one we’ll probably never know.

 

So it sounds like Cutcliffe was the source of the scoop/misinformation that Gettleman relied on.

 

 

PHILADELPHIA

Mike Kaye of NJ.com thinks the Eagles should spend some money after Tuesday.

 

Even after placing a heavy emphasis on protecting future compensatory picks, the Eagles have done a strong job of adding talented pieces to their roster this offseason.

 

The team has managed to land recently released former Pro Bowl players on the open market, keeping their 2020 compensatory stock in good position.

 

After May 7, the Eagles will be able to let loose a bit. Following that date, the Eagles can sign any player in free agency without impacting their compensatory pick haul for next offseason.

 

The Philadelphia Eagles signed former Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Brown to a one-year deal on Friday. His arrival should have an immediate impact on Nigel Bradham, Kamu-Grugier-Hill, L.J. Fort, T.J. Edwards, Paul Worrliow and Nathan Gerry.

 

With the compensatory formula deadline inching closer, here are five free agents the Eagles should target on the open market:

 

1. Ezekiel Ansah

Position: DE

Ht/Wt: 6-5, 275 lbs.

Age: 29 (30 later this month)

 

Thoughts: Ansah’s slow market has a lot to do with his lingering shoulder injury issues. However, he is expected to be cleared in time for the preseason in August, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. With Chris Long’s status uncertain (but trending in the retirement direction), Ansah could be a strong replacement on a one-year “prove it” deal. The Eagles have one of the best rosters in the league and they could appeal to Ansah as his best shot at a Super Bowl ring. Plus, he has a history with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who was his head coach during his rookie season.

 

2. Derrick Morgan

Position: DE

Ht/Wt: 6-4, 261 lbs.

Age: 30

 

Thoughts: Adding Ansah may be an ambitious thought, even for the Eagles. However, Morgan could be a solid consolation prize. He’s coming off a terrible final season in Tennessee but could benefit from a change of scenery and a return to a 4-3 front. Morgan isn’t going to pile up sacks in chunks, but he could be a solid rotational option if the team moves on from Long. Morgan is from nearby Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

 

3. Andy Levitre

Position: G

Ht/Wt: 6-2, 303 lbs.

Age: 32

 

Thoughts: Levitre’s years as an established starter are over. However, with a wealth of experience, he could serve as a strong insurance policy for the Eagles. While he has mostly played left guard, Levitre could work at right guard as well. He would serve as competition for a long list of unproven players.

 

4. Jeff Allen

Position: G/C

Ht/Wt: 6-4, 306 lbs.

Age: 29

 

Thoughts: The Eagles value versatility along the offensive line. Allen has the ability to play every position but left tackle. Allen could replace Stefen Wisniewski as the team’s top interior backup. As previously mentioned, the Eagles’ roster features nothing but unproven depth at center and guard.

 

5. Corey Grant

Position: RB

Ht/Wt: 5-11, 203 lbs.

Age: 27

 

Thoughts: The tailback has received little reported interest to this point. However, the Eagles need a strong kick returner this season and Grant could be a quality competitor for that job. With Darren Sproles likely to retire, Grant could also serve as a gadget presence as the fourth running back on the depth chart.

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

Matt Miller of Bleacher Report finds anonymous folks willing to lambaste the Cardinals:

 

Everyone in the football world knew the Arizona Cardinals planned to draft quarterback Kyler Murray at No. 1 overall and then trade Josh Rosen once Murray opted to play football. But somehow general manager Steve Keim failed to shop his existing quarterback before drafting the new one.

 

In conversations with teams that were interested in adding Rosen, two executives who were involved in making calls to the Cardinals pointed out something MMQB’s Robert Klemko reported: that the Cardinals weren’t proactive in figuring out what the market was, and that some teams that otherwise would have been interested said they didn’t get a call until after Murray was drafted.

 

“I can’t think of anyone who could have played this worse,” said one of the executives. “EVERYONE knew they were taking Murray and you’re drafting first overall. You have nothing to hide from anyone. They could have been quietly shopping Rosen for weeks at least.”

 

As for the talk that the Cardinals didn’t make a decision on Murray until this week, one scouting executive called it “bulls–t” and pointed out that the team was telling everyone who would listen at the NFL Scouting Combine that Murray was their pick.

 

As soon as Kliff Kingsbury was hired, the Cardinals became connected to Murray. No matter what they tried to say on social media, everyone knew this, and Keim misplayed his hand in shopping and leveraging Rosen.

 

With the clock winding down on the 2019 draft and many quarterback-needy teams filling their holes through draft picks, the Cardinals were left with only the Miami Dolphins as a viable trade partner. Keim’s leverage was gone.

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO

Losing tests all relationships, including that between GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

As the draft ended and the question became whether, and when, any General Managers will be specifically targeted for replacement, a report emerged that some degree of tension exists between 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and G.M. John Lynch.

 

Shanahan quickly dismissed the claim as “complete bullsh-t” (as opposed to saying, “Wow, that’s right, you got me”), and the notion that Shanahan and Lynch are careening toward a divorce seems to be misplaced.

 

That doesn’t mean there’s isn’t urgency. Surely, there is. With two disappointing campaigns (last year’s disaster came amid unreasonably high preseason expectations) tacked onto three straight subpar seasons, the 49ers find themselves stuck in a half-decade of underachievement. Shanahan and Lynch have been aboard for two of them, and they have four years left on their six-year contracts, which are fully guaranteed with no offset language.

 

After firing three coaches in three years, the 49ers needed stability. They now have it, and they’re not likely to abandon it so soon. Even if things haven’t gone as well as expected.

 

It doesn’t mean Shanahan is thrilled with Lynch’s performance. But there were bound to be growing pains, given that Lynch came straight from the broadcast booth to the front office.

 

Mistakes were inevitable; in the first year, Lynch didn’t know he needed to know, and he didn’t know what he didn’t know. How could he? That led to the organization erroneously puffing its 2017 draft, crowing that the 49ers got the guy they would have taken at No. 2 after trading down to No. 3 (Solomon Thomas) and that they got the guy they would have taken at No. 3 if the guy they wanted was gone at No. 31 (Reuben Foster). Both guys have been disasters relative to their expectations, with Foster cut after multiple off-field incidents for which there were red flags and Thomas on the trade block before the draft (the team has denied that, because of course they do).

 

While we’re not buying the denial of the shopping of Thomas, we’ll buy the denial of the potential that Shanahan and Lynch are already on the outs. With Shanahan finagling full control over the roster when he got the job, his ability to hire executives under contract with other teams was dramatically limited, giving him few options at G.M. Those limited options were destined to have inherent limitations. And Shanahan can’t be surprised that, two years in, those limitations have had consequences.

 

The question becomes, now that Shanahan and Lynch have two full seasons and three offseason together, what comes next? How much has Lynch learned? How much more adversity can the relationship bear? A season that results in a postseason appearance would go a long way toward ensuring that Shanahan and Lynch draw closer. Another season of disappointment could begin to push them apart.

 

Said report came from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report:

 

There were handshakes, bro hugs and smiles in the draft room as the 49ers drafted Nick Bosa at No. 2 overall in the 2019 draft, but word out of San Francisco points to friction and a potential breakup of head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.

 

According to sources in the team’s scouting and coaching staff, the two aren’t in lock step as far as the vision of the offseason and the future of the franchise. The coach, Shanahan, wants to scheme and develop players while not being bothered with the player evaluation process, but more and more he finds himself involved while not trusting the decision-making of Lynch—a former media analyst after his Hall of Fame playing days but not someone with a scouting background.

 

The 49ers signed both Lynch and Shanahan to six-year contracts when they were hired before the 2017 season. With four years left and a team that’s been stuck in neutral ever since, a power struggle could be coming with Lynch and chief deputy Adam Peters on the outs, and Shanahan looking for his own personnel man to run the draft and free agency.

 

 

SEATTLE

QB RUSSELL WILSON doing franchise QB leadership stuff.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

For players who enter the NFL, one of the biggest adjustments comes from becoming teammates with established NFL players. Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf found that out after arriving in Seattle via round two.

 

Metcalf got a FaceTime call from his new quarterback, Russell Wilson.

 

“I was amazed, kind of shocked,” Metcalf told reporters on Saturday. “But I had to realize that was my teammate and I wasn’t a fan anymore.”

 

Still, Metcalf wisely opted for deference in his first communication with Wilson.

 

“I just listened to what he had to say,” Metcalf said. “He just said he was excited to have me and just time to get to work.”

 

Metcalf has gotten to work at the team’s rookie minicamp. Sooner than later, he’ll be on the field with Wilson and the rest of the offense, running routes and catching passes from a guy who may be throwing the ball down the field more than ever, as the Seahawks try to justify his $35 million per year contract.

 

AFC WEST

 

KANSAS CITY

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com is not impressed by the spin from WR TYREEK HILL’s legal counsel (or more precisely, he’s not impressed with Hill):

 

The press release masquerading as a letter to the NFL’s in-house discipline czar was intended to sway public opinion regarding Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill. But while the effort to turn the tables of child-abuse allegations from Hill to Crystal Espinal may have given red meat to red-clad fans looking for a reason to defend Hill, the letter was, all things considered, ill-advised.

 

The goal was simple and obvious. Hill’s lawyer wanted to push back against Hill’s swift conviction in the court of public opinion that came after the release last week of disturbing audio recorded by Espinal, the mother of Hill’s three-year-old child. A press release would have made the effort too transparent; couching the quickly-leaked-to-ESPN statement in the form of formal correspondence to the NFL made it seem more organic and natural.

 

Regardless of whether the it was issued as a press release or as a letter to the league, here’s the problem for Hill: At some point, he’ll be grilled by NFL executives about the situation, and it will be critical that he be credible. To be credible, he’ll need to be accurate. And the letter will make it more difficult for Hill to tell his story in a way that doesn’t create the kind of inconsistencies, accidental or otherwise, that could prompt the league to conclude that he’s not being truthful.

 

Case in point: If someone from the league decides to aggressively question Hill on the claim in the letter that the breaking of his son’s arm was deemed to be an accident, even though the prosecutor has said publicly that a crime was committed against Hill’s son, Hill could quickly get so twisted in knots that he’ll be too rattled to thereafter remember the broader facts in a way that will result in the overall story being told in a believable way. Throw in the fact that the league already will be skeptical of Hill given his admitted misconduct against Espinal from 2014 (he assaulted her while she was pregnant), and Hill’s challenge of passing the NFL’s unofficial lie detector test will become even more daunting.

 

Also, by accusing Espinal of child abuse, the letter could make Espinal determined not only to defend herself but also to implicate Hill. Which could prompt her to choose to fully and completely cooperate with the league office. If she’s credible and Hill isn’t, that’s very bad news for Hill. (And since the past misconduct against Espinal becomes an aggravating factor in any potential punishment, Espinal easily will become more sympathetic in the eyes of league officials who hear the story of Hill choking and beating her.)

 

Ultimately, nothing in the letter changes the fact that Hill’s suddenly menacing message — “you need to be terrified of me too, bitch” — shows that Mr. Hyde still lurks under whatever Dr. Jekyll façade Hill’s lawyer tries to concoct. Given Hill’s history, hearing those chilling words made me think that Hill continues to be the same guy he was when he did what he did to Espinal more than four years ago, making him (in my opinion) unfit for the privilege that is a career in the NFL.

 

Remember, every second (or third) chance given to an NFL player takes away the first chance of some other player who did nothing wrong. Although some will believe Hill’s talent justifies affording him consideration that never would be granted to a lesser player, his admitted misdeeds from the past necessarily gave him a very small margin for error. His admitted words to Espinal put him on the wrong side of that line.

 

And nothing his lawyer could ever say will change that.

 

Charles Robinson of YahooSports.com opines that as long as Hill only has to face NFL Justice, and not Johnson County Justice, his punishment will not be a long term ban.

 

Several years ago, when a high-profile NFL agent was shopping the services of a player beneath a domestic violence cloud, one overriding point became clear as he dealt with teams: Make the legal allegations against the player go away and the phone would start ringing.

 

“Teams didn’t want anything to do with him,” the agent recalled Thursday. “But once the charges were dropped, everyone in the league was calling.”

 

The agent’s point:

 

“The only thing Tyreek Hill should be worrying about [is] whether or not he’s going to be prosecuted for a crime,” the agent said. “If he gets past that, NFL teams will give him another chance. Whether or not he gets charged legally is what they care about.”

 

It’s a simple message: The NFL’s discipline is temporary, but legal discipline could be career-ending.

 

This is the brass tacks reality for Hill, whose exchanges with the league’s domestic violence investigators hit a significant public relations phase on Thursday: The leaking of his defense.

– – –

In a sense, the letter from Hill’s lawyer to the NFL is now also a form of testimony to the DA. One in which the overriding majority of the letter is an explanation of the troubling audio dialogue, built around a lone piece of evidence: An alleged text exchange between a phone belonging to Hill and a phone belonging to Espinal, in which Espinal says she – and not Hill – was the abuser of their son.

 

Unanswered questions about Hill’s alleged text conversation

There is one foundational question about that letter to the NFL and the purported text exchange inside it: Does Howe and the Johnson County District Attorney’s office believe the content?

 

The other critical questions:

 

Does the DA believe that Hill abused his son, as Espinal alleges on the audio when speaking to Hill? Does the DA believe, as the letter asserts, it was actually Espinal who was abusive? Does the DA believe that Hill was merely being hyperbolic on the audio, when he responded to Espinal’s contention that his son was “terrified” of him by saying to Espinal: “You need to be terrified of me, too, dumb bitch.”

 

Beyond whether the DA’s office accepts Hill’s framing of the words on the audio recording, there is the now-pressing reference to the alleged text exchange between phones belonging to Hill and his fiancee:

 

Tyreek: “Crystal you know I didn’t cause any bruising or harm to [our son.] But for some reason I still may be charged.”

 

Crystal: “I know you didn’t. I did. I hurt [our son], I’m the one that did it. I was hurt and mad at you so I blamed you for everything.”

 

In the letter to the NFL, the lone context for that exchange is that it occurred after the couple’s trip to Dubai in March. It doesn’t address whether the alleged exchange happened after the troubling audio conversation between the pair was released on April 25.

 

All of this makes a number of questions surrounding the alleged texts important.

 

What date were they sent? Did the parties know the audio had been leaked to a media outlet when the texts were sent? What is the evidence of who sent or replied in the exchanges beyond the devices used?

 

Another now-pressing issue: If Espinal sent that text, does she now face charges for an admission of abuse?

 

Beyond that is another potentially significant moment in the audio tape that the letter to the NFL failed to address: Espinal stating that “I rode for you against that detective and the C.P.S. people.” That appears to be Espinal referring to her interactions with child protective services and a police detective investigating the case. A key question is likely to be what Espinal meant when she said she “rode for” Hill, including what impact that had on the truthfulness of statements she made in the investigation. That might have an impact on whether Espinal could be subject to charges for obstructing an investigation.

 

There is a significant number of new questions raised for the district attorney’s office. Not only by the audio recording leaked on April 25, but also in the response by Hill’s lawyer on Thursday. On a parallel track, the NFL’s domestic violence unit, led by Lisa Friel, is sure to be asking many of the same questions, with a league suspension hanging in the balance.

 

But one overriding reality hasn’t changed for Hill’s career since this all surfaced. His long-term future in the NFL, including whether he stays with the Chiefs or lands elsewhere when this is over, is entirely on the line right now. And in the cold, callous and ugly reality of the NFL, the determination of that will have little to do with whether Hill abused his son – and everything to do with whether he ends up being prosecuted for it.

 

 

THE RAIDERS

Alabama RB JOSH JACOBS has a lot of tread left on his tires.  That might be a good thing, but Peter King thinks it is ominous:

 

Josh Jacobs, the first-round pick of the Raiders and the first running back picked in the 2019 draft, takes a truly bizarre college résumé into his NFL career.

 

• Jacobs played 40 games at Alabama. He ran for 100 yards against Kentucky in his fourth college outing, and then, in his final 36 games, never ran for 100 yards in a game.

 

• His highest 10 rushing games as a collegian, in yards gained: 100, 98, 97, 97, 89, 83, 68, 57, 52, 51.

 

• His biggest workloads as a collegian, in numbers of rushes in a game: 20, 16, 15, 12, 11, 11, 10, 9, 9, 8.

 

• In one of 40 college games, including receptions, Jacobs touched the ball 20 times.

 

Not to sound an alarm bell or anything, but the Raiders want Jacobs to be a bellcow back, the kind who regularly will have 20 touches or more in a game. It’s entirely possible that he’ll be great at that role. But if he is, it’ll be the first time doing it since high school in Oklahoma. In three years at Alabama, Jacobs was part of Nick Saban’s running back-by-committee system. This is going to be a very interesting test for Jacobs starting in September.

 

AFC NORTH

 

PITTSBURGH

Today’s feel good story comes from the wedding of LB RYAN SHAZIER.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

When Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was stretchered off the field with a severe spinal cord injury on December 4, 2017, there were fears that he would never walk again. On Friday night, Shazier showed off perhaps the most important step in his remarkable recovery.

 

Shazier got married on Friday, and video shows him dancing with his bride at the reception, moving around on the dance floor gracefully and not giving any hint that he had previously been paralyzed.

 

The Steelers have placed Shazier on the reserve/physically unable to perform list for this season, and they’ve said there is no chance he will be able to play in 2019. But Shazier says his ultimate goal is to play football again, and seeing video like that from his wedding makes it hard to doubt him.

 

It’s a tribute to modern medicine and Shazier’s hard work that he has reached the point where he can celebrate his marriage on his own terms.

 

You can watch here.

 

Shazier’s wife, the former Michelle Rodriguez, is a special education teacher who was born in Puerto Rico and graduated from Texas State.  The couple have a son, Lyon, who was born this January.  Shazier has another son from a previous relationship.

 

This from February by Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

 

Shazier said he received positive feedback from his doctors in December when he had his most recent checkup. The exam came one year after his spinal cord was injured while he made a tackle in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

 

“They said, ‘Ryan, you’re way ahead of where we ever expected you to be,’” Shazier said. “’All your tests are coming back stronger than we thought they would be. If you keep working like you’re working on your rehab and keep working on your coordination and strength, all doors are open.”

 

Shazier started jogging in January, and he has been deadlifting 135-145 pound weights. At this point a year ago, Shazier wasn’t walking on his own power.

 

Shazier has spent the past year recovering from his injury with a return to the Steelers in mind. He sat out the 2018 season and assisted the team in coaching and scouting aspects while he rehabbed at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

 

“I still want to play football,” he said. “The game gives you what you give it. I gave it everything I got. I worked my tail off and have no regrets. That’s why I’m so positive in everything I’m going through. I feel the harder you work, the more you get out of whatever you want.”

 

Shazier said the most difficult aspect of his recovery has been remaining patient. All of Shazier’s workouts are taped, and his fiancee, Michelle Rodriguez, will put in a tape to show Shazier how much he has progressed.

 

AFC EAST

 

MIAMI

Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com has some interesting dish on where JOSH ROSEN would have fallen if he had been in this year’s draft (and as an aside he furthers the DB’s contention that Giants first round QB DANIEL JONES and Bengals fourth round QB RYAN FINLEY are close to the same player):

 

The reality is, for all intents and purposes, Rosen was the fifth quarterback selected in the 2019 draft, at pick No. 62, by the Dolphins, after fleecing Arizona. And it is also well-established that the Cardinals had been hoping against hope they could fetch a first-round pick for him, all the while refusing to simply do right by Rosen and hold an auction for his services before the start of free agency. You can’t have it both ways, which led to a climate last Friday by which, at best, Arizona could land Miami’s 48th overall pick (before they traded down with the Saints), with no other teams stepping up to grab Rosen in the second round.

 

The idea that Rosen, after being thoroughly let down by the Cardinals as a rookie in terms of scheme, coaching, pass protection, balance on offense, surrounding skill players and continuity, was suddenly now the 62nd-best prospect in a draft short on sure-fire QBs and stud skill players overall, will always baffle me. It doesn’t add up. He didn’t get arrested or fight with coaches or get suspended or act like a fool despite Arizona’s gross negligence in how it handled him. So how to explain this fall – other than the Cardinals eroding all leverage and devaluing this asset with ferocious quickness by giving him no chance to succeed and then clearly being all-in on taking Murray with the first pick way back at the combine, if not before then.

 

So I set about asking some evaluators I know and trust who work for teams that were not in the rookie QB market whatsoever to answer some questions for me. I wanted to know, based on their draft grades from last year and this year, how they would stack Rosen up against the first five quarterbacks in the 2019 draft: Murray, Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Ryan Finley. These are teams with no dog in the fight and nothing to gain or lose – especially after the draft – and teams that have done a good job evaluating quarterbacks over time.

 

Here are three of their lists:

 

                    A                      B                    C

1          K.Murray           K.Murray           J.Rosen

2          J.Rosen            J.Rosen            K.Murray

3          D.Lock               D.Haskins        D.Haskins

4          D.Haskins         D.Lock               D.Jones

5          D.Jones            R.Finley            D.Lock

6          R.Finley            D.Jones            R.Finley

 

I contacted another evaluator who wasn’t in the office but said unequivocally that Rosen was the highest graded of any of these quarterbacks, with Murray second. I had another team tell me Murray, Rosen and Jones were their top three.

 

Notice a trend here? Rosen is, at worst, viewed as the second-best option available, yet he was traded 61 slots after Murray and after four quarterbacks in total were drafted last weekend. That just doesn’t add up. Sure, Rosen may be too smart and too forward thinking and care too much about the environment for the liking of some old-school (backwards?) executives in the NFL, but he handled this entire Cardinals debacle with nothing but class, including his exit, and if he is even close to the player many expect this is a masterstroke for the Dolphins.

 

But we already knew that, even without the lists I just provided to back it up. And I understand that Arizona, already doubling-down on a certain system by hiring Kliff Kingsbury, would then go all-in on a QB he viewed as a perfect fit since Murray was like in middle school. But what about all of the other teams that went in a different direction?

 

 

NEW ENGLAND

Peter King with a QB TOM BRADY quote from his Jimmy Kimmel appearance:

 

“The thing I’ve always felt for me in my life—winning has been a priority. And my wife makes a lot of money … I’m a little smarter than you think. It’s a salary cap. You can only spend so much and the more that one guy gets is less for others. From a competitive advantage standpoint, I like to get a lot of good players around me.”

 

—Tom Brady, on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” detailing why he doesn’t push to be the highest-paid player in football.

 

What I’ve been saying for years.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

THE DERBY AND REPLAY

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com has some thoughts after the excitement of the Kentucky Derby finish:

 

Over the years, those who have railed against replay have argued that sports must tolerate some degree of human error. That debate has received a boost from an apparent equine error.

 

For the first time in 145 runnings of the Kentuky Kentucky Derby, officials disqualified the winner due to a foul that few understand, but that was significant enough to flip the outcome from a 9-2 favorite to a 65-1 underdog. Most of the prior runnings lacked the benefit of multiple angles of high-definition video evidence that would have revealed the kind of subtle rump bump that can get a horse tapped on the shoulder. Today, the things that did and didn’t happen during a race (and every other sporting event) can be seen and scrutinized, and decisions can be adjusted.

 

The availability of a vehicle for fixing problems not spotted in real time should be celebrated, not castigated. But the “get replay off my lawn” crowd has seized on Saturday’s stunning reversal as proof that the reliance on video review is ruining sport. It’s a strange hill to die on, given that it rests on the idea that bad calls are OK.

 

They’re not OK, especially with legalized gambling spreading quickly from coast to coast. As more and more Americans wager hard-earned money on the outcome of sporting events, the outcome must be as pure and reliable as possible.

 

No one is arguing that the rules didn’t require the disqualification of Maximum Security, probably because few understand the rules (including the horses). The argument apparently flows from the notion that some would rather have a wrong answer immediately than the right answer eventually.

 

Those with money regularly riding on the final outcomes of sporting events should prefer the right answer. They deserve the right answer. And if they don’t get the right answer, Congress eventually will implement the kind of regulatory agency that will ensure that they’ll get the right answer.

 

Many will scoff at the idea of a Federal Wagering Commission (or whatever name they’d give it). But the SEC has for decades promoted fairness in the legalized gambling that is the buying and selling of stock, and it won’t take many gambling controversies to get Congress to do the same thing with betting on sports.

 

Reliance on replay review to fix mistakes will go a long way toward further complicating football, baseball, basketball, hockey, horse racing, etc. by adding a layer and level of oversight that will expand, not reduce, the instances in which technology is relied upon to get calls right. Which actually could be a good thing, but only if you like your sporting events to be won by the ones who deserve to win.