The Daily Briefing Friday, February 10, 2017

AROUND THE NFL

Joe Montana with some interesting thoughts on the difficulty of calling someone GOAT.  Michael David Smith at ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Tom Brady’s childhood idol is one of the few people who isn’t ready to proclaim Brady the best ever.

 

Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, whom Brady has called his favorite player of all time, said he can’t declare Brady the best ever because he doesn’t think players from different eras can be properly compared.

 

“I think that it’s really hard to put anyone in that bucket,” Montana told the Hallmark Channel. “Even before he got five — you look back to some of the guys some people don’t even know, Sammy Baugh or Otto Graham, I can’t remember which one but one of them won like seven or nine championships and so far ahead of their time. It’s so hard to compare guys from then to now, how they would compare here and how we would compare back then.”

 

For the record, Graham is the quarterback who won seven championships, four with the Browns in the All-America Football Conference and then three more after the AAFC folded and the Browns moved to the NFL. Baugh was a two-time NFL champion and perhaps the greatest example of a player who simply can’t be compared to today’s quarterbacks: Baugh was not only a quarterback who led the NFL in passing yards four times, but also a punter who led the NFL in punting average five times and a defensive back who led the NFL in interceptions once.

 

Asked if he could call himself the best ever, Montana demurred.

 

“I still can’t say that of myself because of just what I said,” Montana said.

 

At that point in the interview, Montana’s wife interjected that Montana does call himself the greatest when they’re alone at home. Perhaps Montana is just putting on a modest face by declining to answer the question.

 

– – –

The legislature of the State of Texas is considering a bill along the lines of the one in North Carolina that cost the Tar Heel State the NBA All-Star Game at the behest of Commissioner Adam Silver.

 

Now, the NFL also weighs in on the side of social justice vis a vis the Texas proposal.  The AP:

 

The NFL sharpened its warning to Texas on Friday about a bathroom bill targeting transgender people, suggesting for the first time that the football-obsessed state could miss out on hosting another Super Bowl if the proposal is enacted.

 

“If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in response to an email question about the Texas bill, which was filed last month.

 

Although the NFL released a statement about inclusiveness earlier this month before the Super Bowl in Houston, it didn’t address whether the bill could put future such events at risk for the state.

 

The NFL has selected future Super Bowl sites through 2021, none of which are in Texas. Dallas hosted the game in 2011, and three Super Bowls have been played in Texas since 2004, which is second only to Florida.

 

Under the Texas bill, people would be required to use bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate. It’s similar to a North Carolina law that prompted the NCAA to pull seven championship events from that state last year and is backed by Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a powerful figure in Texas who had cited the Houston Super Bowl as proof that big events will stick around.

 

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has been quieter on the proposal and, noticeably, never mentioned bathrooms while laying out his legislative agenda last month.

 

Following the NFL statement, Patrick’s office signaled it was remaining firm and was committed to “making sure that every Texan is welcomed” at sporting events.

 

“Despite persistent misinformation in the media, under Senate Bill 6, all Texas teams will be able to set their own policies at the stadiums and arenas where they play and hold their events. There is no conflict with the NFL’s statement today and Senate Bill 6,” Patrick spokesman Alejandro Garcia said.

 

Spokespeople for the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

 

The NCAA has declined comment so far since the Texas bill was filed. Since 2004, Texas has hosted more combined Super Bowls, NBA All-Star Games (three) and NCAA men’s Final Fours (five) than any other state. San Antonio is scheduled to host another Final Four in 2018, and Dallas is hosting the women’s NCAA Final Four in April.

 

Unlike the North Carolina law, the Texas proposal stops short of some provisions the NCAA singled out when defending its decision to relocate events this past fall. That includes language that invalidates local equal-rights ordinances, although there is separate legislation in Texas that could have similar effects.

 

The NFL has issued similar warnings before about state legislation that critics say invites discrimination. In 2015, Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a “religious liberty” bill that the NFL suggested could result in Atlanta being passed over for Super Bowls.

 

The DB wonders, if and when Jerry Jones, now a certified Hall of Famer, is pushing for another chance to host a Super Bowl in his stadium, will his fellow owners be moved by this stance from the p.r. folks in the league office and their desire to be politically correct and deny him his Super Bowl?  In the stadium that will produce the most revenue of any stadium in the world? 

 

NFC NORTH

 

MINNESOTA

The Vikings parted ways with a pair of guards who couldn’t answer the bell in 2016.  Ben Goessling of ESPN.com:

 

The Vikings started the widely expected makeover of their offensive line Friday, releasing guards Brandon Fusco and Mike Harris.

 

Fusco, who signed a five-year contract extension with the team the day before the 2014 season, tore a pectoral muscle during the Vikings’ third game that year and never seemed to be the same in his two years with the team after the injury. He struggled during an ill-fated move to left guard in 2015, and continued to have issues on the right side in 2016, when he also missed two games because of concussions.

 

Releasing Fusco will allow the Vikings to free up $3.2 million in cap space, though they will have to count the remaining $1.6 million in prorated signing bonuses from Fusco’s extension against the cap.

 

“I received word today that I am going to be released. This was very upsetting because this game means so much to me,” Fusco said in a statement released on Twitter. “I’ve had up and downs throughout my life and this is a small hurdle I will have to get over.

 

“… It’s been a fun ride. I got to play and meet some great people in Minnesota. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity and hope to continue my career in another great organization. Thank you everyone! #skol”

 

Harris, who started at right guard for the Vikings in 2015, did not play at all in 2016 because of an illness that neither the team nor the player would reveal. He was placed on the non-football illness list in training camp, and the team decided to pay $400,000 of Harris’ scheduled $1.9 million base salary with him on the NFI list, freeing up cap space to sign Jake Long in October.

 

The guard said after the season he hoped to resume his career in 2017 but said he had not yet been cleared by trainers to do so.

 

When asked about Harris’ future on Jan. 3, coach Mike Zimmer said, “I honestly don’t think I should divulge this. I mean, it’s kind of a freak thing that’s happened, and so we’re trying to get it taken care of. That’s all. It’s the best thing for Mike right now.”

 

NFC EAST

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

WR ODELL BECKHAM Jr. was a crime victim last weekend in Houston per a report by Mara Siegler of PageSix.com:

 

Tom Brady wasn’t the only NFL star to get hit by thieves over Super Bowl weekend in Houston.

 

Sources exclusively tell Page Six that Giants star Odell Beckham Jr.’s gear also was taken.

 

Brady’s game-winning jersey, which was swiped from the Patriots’ locker room at NRG Stadium, is still in the wind.

 

But a source told us that Beckham — in town for the big game as an ESPN pregame commentator — was robbed of “jewelry and cash.” Rumors even swirled that he was mugged. “It was basically catching him outside at the right time,” a source said of the alleged heist.

 

A source close to the Giants confirmed that the star wide receiver was indeed robbed, but he said it was not a mugging at all and nothing “pricey” was taken. The source explained that Beckham was staying at a hotel in Houston, but that he also left a bag of his belongings at a friend’s house. (As one does?)

 

“He just had some stuff there,” the source said. “Shoes and that sort of thing. It wasn’t anything expensive — just some of his belongings.” The source said that the home was broken into and that Beckham’s stuff was gone.

 

In 2014, Beckham revealed that he owns more than 100 pairs of sneakers, including a $5,000 pair of Nike Air Yeezy 2 “Red Octobers.” He’s also known for customizing his cleats.

 

Local police told us they had no reports filed by Beckham, who frequently posts off-the-field pics of himself on Instagram wearing gold chains and bracelets.

 

In November, he lost a $25,000 diamond pinky ring, which flew off while he was dancing at a strip club.

 

Either way, his stolen stuff didn’t amount to the $500,000 that Brady’s missing jersey reportedly is worth. Houston police have been investigating that incident, although reports Thursday said Brady’s coveted No. 12 jersey may actually just be somewhere on a “team equipment truck” that’s headed back to Boston. It was not searched before it drove off.

 

A rep for the Giants did not comment.

 

 

WASHINGTON

It’s the end of the road, the NFL road, for C KORY LICHTENSTEIGER.  John Keim of ESPN.com:

 

Washington Redskins center Kory Lichtensteiger, a starter for most of the past seven seasons, announced his retirement Friday after two years of dealing with various injuries.

 

Lichtensteiger was scheduled to count $4.05 million against the salary cap. His retirement will free $3.5 million in cap space; the Redskins entered the day with approximately $60 million in cap space.

 

Lichtensteiger, 31, joined the Redskins in 2010 under then-coach Mike Shanahan, who had drafted him in Denver two years earlier. Lichtensteiger was an undersized player who ended up starting 75 games for the Redskins at guard and then center. He started 37 games at left guard from 2011-13 before converting to center.

 

Injuries ruined his last two seasons, as he missed a combined 24 regular-season games because of nerve damage in his shoulder (2015) and a calf injury (2016). He was replaced as a starter by third-year Spencer Long, whom the Redskins viewed as their center of the future.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

ATLANTA

From the comfort of his new home in the Bay Area, Kyle Shanahan wants Falcons fans to know he will always share their pain.  Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com:

 

One subject that came up early and often was the end of Sunday’s Super Bowl LI and Shanahan’s handling of the playcalling in the second half, as the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead and ultimately lost to the New England Patriots 34-28 in overtime.

 

“Obviously, you guys know the result of that, which wasn’t easy,” said Shanahan, who had been Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. “It’s as hard as anything I’ve gone through.”

 

Shanahan has received particular criticism for his handling of a late drive in which Atlanta had moved deep into New England territory with a chance to run the clock down and kick a field goal to make it a two-score game. Hanging on to a 28-20 lead with the ball at the Patriots’ 22 and 4:40 to go, Shanahan called for a Devonta Freeman run, which ultimately lost a yard. Instead of continuing to call run plays, Shanahan opted for two passes. The first resulted in a sack and a 12-yard loss; the second resulted in an offensive holding penalty that took away another 10 yards before quarterback Matt Ryan threw incomplete on third down.

 

Instead of a 40-something-yard field goal attempt that would have made the score 31-20 and burned more time off the clock, Atlanta punted from its 45 and used just over a minute of game clock between Freeman’s run and the punt.

 

“I remember every single play, and I will go over those for the rest of my life,” Shanahan said. “That’s kind of the life we live as coaches. It’s magnified in the Super Bowl, but it’s also that case in every game.”

 

After the game, reports surfaced that Shanahan had been heard telling people at the team hotel that he “blew it.” Shanahan couldn’t recall if that was what he said verbatim but acknowledged Thursday that he understands the criticism.

 

“I don’t know if I used those exact words, but that sounds about how I talk,” Shanahan said. “When you’re the coordinator of an offense or you’re the head coach of a team, you’re responsible for what happens out there. If a play doesn’t go right, if a player misses something, that starts with the offensive coordinator when you’re on offense. I did believe we had a very good chance to win that game, especially at the end, and we didn’t get it done.

 

“In terms of using the words, ‘I blew it,’ I don’t look at it that way. I believe we missed an opportunity. We didn’t get it done. I’ll go back through every play for the rest of my life.”

 

With Shanahan pegged to take the Niners job soon after the Super Bowl, the assumption was that he would be on a plane to San Francisco on Monday. Instead, Shanahan said 49ers CEO Jed York told him to take a day and a half to collect himself.

 

As a result, Shanahan spent Monday with his Falcons players.

 

“I was definitely grieving it, and I probably will for a while, but to be able to go up to the building in Atlanta the next day and get to talk to all the players — all of us spent some time together — and go through it again really gave us some closure on it,” Shanahan said. “We put our whole heart and souls into that season, into that game. We did everything we could. I know the results weren’t what we wanted; you’ve got to live with that. But I’m real proud of the coaching staff, myself, the players, that we did as good as we could.

 

“We had no hesitation, and we let it all out there. You’ve got to live with the results, but that’s why we’re in this business: You’ve got to take the good with the bad. I’m just very happy that I was a part of it.”

 

As for how the late collapse will affect him moving forward, Shanahan acknowledged that it helps him knowing he stayed true to his aggressive approach.

 

“It’s human nature when you get in big moments like that to lock up, to hesitate, to try to take the easy way out and make sure you don’t get blamed,” Shanahan said. “That’s something that I wasn’t going to do and people on our team weren’t going to do. We played that game how we played the entire year, and I thought I called plays in that game the way I had the entire year.

 

“Doesn’t mean I’m always right. Doesn’t mean they’re always going to work. But I promise you I prepare as hard as I possibly can. I always do what I believe is right with our coaching staff and the players, and then you live with the consequences.”

 

“Yeah, it’s going to be hard living with that loss,” he added. “Every play that didn’t work, I regret, as always. But I can deal with it, because I can look at myself in the mirror and know I did what I thought was right at the time, and that was the most important thing to me. I didn’t change because of a circumstance. I did what I thought was right, but whatever happens, if you do what you thought was right and you believed in that because of the preparation you had, then you should be able to live with the consequences.”

 

The DB thinks it is interesting how all the blame has fallen on Shanahan, with none to the head coach who normally would be held responsible for at least the overall tactics and pace.  Same with the quarterback who presumably could have avoided the 12-yard loss.

 

 

CAROLINA

Seems hard to believe that eight years has passed since Panthers owner Jerry Richardson fired his sons.  And now, Danny Morrison who took Mark Richardson’s place as team president is moving on.  Jenna Martin in the Charlotte Business Journal:

 

Danny Morrison has stepped down as the Carolina Panthers’ president after nearly eight years.

 

The team announced Morrison’s resignation Thursday afternoon. Morrison’s departure from the Panthers will allow him to pursue other career endeavors, he said in a news release.

 

“This is something I have been thinking about for a while and the timing is right with the start of the business year,” Morrison said in a prepared statement. “We have made great progress in a number of areas, but there are other endeavors, particularly on the college level, that interest me as a final chapter in my career.”

 

Morrison joined the Panthers organization in September 2009, playing a key role in renovations at Bank of America Stadium as well as revamping the team’s training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., according to the team’s news release.

 

Before coming to Charlotte, Morrison served as the athletic director at Texas Christian University and Wofford College. He has also served as commissioner of the Southern Conference.

 

“Danny has made significant contributions to the Panthers over the last seven years and provided guidance to our business operations,” Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said in a statement. “He came to us from a college background and learned the NFL quickly. Danny has great integrity and embodies our core values.”

 

The team said that Morrison’s replacement has not been named.

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

More from AZCardinals.com on the thought process of QB CARSON PALMER in declaring he will be back for 2017:

 

Carson Palmer is back for the 2017 season, releasing a statement about it Thursday. Friday, Palmer called into the “Rich Eisen Show” to talk a little bit about his decision to return, with little surprise — he’s an older guy, and he needed to make sure his body would hold up. He feels it will.

 

“I love playing the game, love everything about it, but at some point, your body tells you when to stop and (when) the season ended, I just went into Steve Keim and Bruce Arians and asked them if I could take a month and make sure my body would get back to 100 percent,” said Palmer, who will turn 38 in December. “I took the month, my body has recovered well, feel great, feel ready to start getting ready in the offseason again. It was never about anything other than my body. My mind, my passion, all the things it takes to play this game, I still have. The desire to study, the desire to train, the desire to get ready for games.

 

“You start getting old like me, you start getting grey hair, your body starts telling you no. At some point it will, but I am excited I have responded, my body responded, and I get to keep playing.”

 

(There seems to be this perception Palmer is fragile, but he hasn’t been in Arizona. Yes, he missed 10 games in 2014, most of which because he tore his ACL. Otherwise, in Palmer’s other three Cardinals seasons, Palmer has played in 47 of 48 games, missing only one in 2016 because of a concussion.)

 

Palmer wasn’t talking about beyond 2017, one way or the other — “At this point in my career, it’s a one-year-at-a-time-type of deal,” he said, not closing the door on playing in 2018 but obviously waiting for his body’s input when we get to that point as well. He did note that, starting around age 34 or 35, it takes longer to recover each week.

 

“The older you get, the later on in the week you start feeling better,” Palmer said. “Sometimes it takes up until Thursday, Friday to recover from the previous Sunday be ready to play the next Sunday.”

 

It makes a lot of sense that Palmer stopped practicing on Wednesdays this past season. That certainly should continue this year (Larry Fitzgerald also figures to have Wednesday rest days again too.)

 

But Palmer returns. He joked about tendinitis in left hand from changing the diapers of his infant at home the past month — another reason to think about football again. “The offseason is pretty short but retirement is really long,” Palmer said.

 

AFC WEST

 

KANSAS CITY

Chiefs GM John Dorsey tries to put to rest the rumors that he’s just killing time in Kansas City until the Green Bay job opens up.  Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star:

 

Shortly before the Super Bowl, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said he wanted to discuss long-term contracts with coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey at some point this year, the final seasons of their deals.

 

On Thursday, in his first news conference since the end of a season in which the Chiefs went 12-4 and won the AFC West, Dorsey expressed his happiness in Kansas City.

 

“From my family’s perspective, or mine, professionally and personally, this has been the greatest four years of my life,” Dorsey said. “I love this city, I love this team, I love this community.

 

“I think this is one of the most stable franchises in the National Football League, and I think that leadership starts at the top. The relationship that (president) Mark Donovan, myself and Andy have and Clark, it’s awesome. I love coming to work everyday. I don’t know more I could say, but I do love it here and I do love this community.”

 

A source told The Star in January that Dorsey was under contract for 2017, briefly (at least) ending speculation that Dorsey might consider jumping for the top job in Green Bay, where he spent several years as a player and front-office executive. The NFL Network speculated in early January as a candidate for the Packers’ general manager job, provided it opened.

 

When asked directly about the report, which stated Dorsey was still held in high regard in Green Bay, he chuckled.

 

“I didn’t pay much attention to it,” Dorsey said. “I like it here. I love it here. I don’t know how much more I can stress it. I’m having fun and from an organization standpoint, we have made strides every year.”

 

When reminded Thursday that he called his current position a “dream job” when he was hired in 2013, Dorsey again added that he sees himself in Kansas City for the long term.

 

“I like to be thought of as a man who finishes what he starts … I want to see baby Jack graduate high school,” said Dorsey of his son, who is 5 years old.

 

When asked to clarify if he wants to see that in Kansas City, Dorsey responded “why not?”

 

Since the arrival of Dorsey and Reid before the 2013 season, the Chiefs have posted a 43-21 regular-season record with three playoff appearances.

 

Dorsey said is happy with the progress the club has made over the last four years, despite the disappointing 18-16 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional round.

 

“As we’ve gone alone, we’ve always said we want to be competitive in the AFC West and try to achieve greatness within our own division and then move forward,” Dorsey said. “I think this year, we kind of took a step moving forward by actually capturing the AFC West and actually getting home-field advantage, which I thought was a wonderful thing because of these great fans that we have.

 

“And unfortunately, as hard as it was to swallow this year, it turned out the way it did … but I was very proud of those guys. I thought they were going to capture it and take it and move on to the next game, but it didn’t happen so my perspective is I have to build in ’17. Let’s learn from the past but let’s move forward.”

 

The Chiefs will have to do so without Chris Ballard, their highly respected director of football operations who was recently hired by the Indianapolis Colts to be their general manager. Dorsey said Thursday that he’s very happy for Ballard, and that the Colts got an energetic, personable and smart person.

 

“He has a challenge — those first four months are hard in that transition,” Dorsey said.

 

Dorsey, however, said the Chiefs are prepared to absorb his loss. Ballard interviewed for other general manager jobs in the past, and Dorsey promoted Brett Veach and Mike Borgonzi to co-directors of player personnel a year ago.

 

“From a cultural standpoint, we have a system in place and that system in place not only teaches but develops everybody with this organization to take ownership in their draft,” Dorsey said. “Kind of like you build through the draft, you build and develop your own culture, and we’ve got some really good guys in that personnel department. Those guys know what the role is; the system is built in place to protect yourself against if you lose a guy like Chris Ballard.”

 

Dorsey was also asked if he expects any of his front-office staffers to follow Ballard to Indianapolis.

 

“We’ll see what happens but right now I feel very comfortable with where we are as a personnel staff,” Dorsey said. “He and I have sat down and had discussions about certain things … I (told him) I think it’s important you develop your kind of tree, as well. Right now, everybody’s in place; I don’t foresee anything happening in that regard in the personnel department.”

 

 

OAKLAND

The Raiders are saying that losing Sheldon Adelson and his $650 billion was no big deal in terms of building their Vegas stadium.  Elliott Almond of the East Bay Times:

 

The Raiders reassured Las Vegas officials Thursday that they can finance a proposed $1.9 billion stadium as they remain intent on relocating to southern Nevada.

 

“Mark Davis made a commitment to Gov. (Brian) Sandoval,” team president Marc Badain told the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board. “We plan to see that through. We are not deterred.”

 

Badain spoke publicly to board members for the first time since casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and investment bank Goldman Sachs last week walked away from the project to seemingly end relocation plans.

 

Their departures have left the Raiders scrambling to find a partner willing to invest $650 million into the 65,000-seat domed stadium that would house the NFL and UNLV’s football team.  

 

But Badain sounded confident Thursday when telling board members that financing will not be an issue.

 

“We’re in an industry where we’re used to plugging along,” he said. “We know a process like this has its starts and stops. We are very confident that we’ll be able to have financing in place by the time of the NFL vote.”

 

The Raiders are working to secure approval from the necessary 24 of the 32 NFL owners to get the OK to leave Oakland. Owners could vote on the issue at their meetings March 26-29 in Phoenix.

 

Badain didn’t identify new investors other than to say the Raiders are talking to multiple financial institutions since splitting with Adelson, chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and owner of the city’s largest newspaper.

 

Nevada has committed $750 million to the stadium project through the sales of bonds that are to be repaid over 30 years by a hotel room tax. The Raiders and NFL would contribute $500 million, leaving a void of $650 million.

 

In an only-in-Vegas moment, a self-proclaimed scientist who according to news reports is a convicted felon, offered to fund the project during public commentary.

 

“You need a billion-dollar check up front, no problem,” Ronald G. Rockwell told board members.

 

Adelson withdrew from negotiations days after the Raiders submitted a proposed lease agreement with the stadium authority that didn’t include him. That lease agreement resulted in community uproar because of a provision that calls for the Raiders to pay a $1-a-year annual rent and having control over the field markings for college games.

 

UNLV president Len Jessup called the field markings concern a non-issue Thursday. He and Badain said they are committed to building a stadium that would benefit everyone involved.

 

Badain added the team needs to have a lease agreement with the stadium authority before NFL owners will vote on the move.

 

Also, the club president emphasized how excited league officials are about the prospects of being in Las Vegas. Badain said conversations last week during Super Bowl festivities involved bringing the big game to Nevada.

 

“To a person, all they wanted to talk about was bringing the Super bowl to Las Vegas — team owners, team executives, league executives, sponsors,” he said. “We have a tremendous opportunity here.”

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW ENGLAND

Somewhere between Houston and Foxborough is an 18-wheeler that may contain the missing TOM BRADY Super Bowl LI jersey.  John Breech at CBSSports.com:

 

There’s a new twist in the case of Tom Brady’s stolen jersey and that twist involves the theory that maybe the jersey wasn’t stolen at all.

 

Wait, WHAT?

 

Police sources involved with the investigation told TMZ on Wednesday that Brady’s jersey could be on the team equipment truck that bolted out of NRG Stadium after the Patriots’ victory. Although it’s a long-shot theory, law enforcement officials are “hopeful” that the jersey is on the truck.

 

The Patriots sent an 18-wheel truck to Houston for the Super Bowl, and that truck was set to return to Massachusetts after the game was over. Since the truck was under the control of the Patriots, the truck wasn’t thoroughly searched before leaving the stadium, police sources told TMZ.

 

Basically, the hope is that someone grabbed Brady’s jersey, threw it in a laundry basket and then the basket was placed on the truck with a bunch of other team equipment.

Once the truck was packed up, the driver would’ve bolted out of Houston in order to get back to Foxborough as quickly as possible.

 

Even if someone called the driver and asked about Brady’s jersey, it’s not like he would stop the truck and search an entire 18-wheeler by himself. Instead, the truck is heading north, where it will be unpacked sometime over the next 24 hours.

 

Although an equipment staffer grabbing dirty laundry is conceivable, it seems like a long shot here because the jersey wasn’t in Brady’s locker, it was in his own personal bag, as he explained to WEEI in Boston on Monday morning.

 

“Someone stole my jersey. I put it in my bag and I went in [the locker room] to take my eye black off and they had opened up to — I don’t know — the media,” Brady said. “I walked back to my bag and it was gone. Same thing happened two years ago. That sucks, but, oh well.”

 

WHAT!?!?! Did he just say his jersey was also stolen after Super Bowl XLIX?

 

HOLD ON A SECOND, TOM, we can only handle one mystery at a time here!

 

Unfortunately, there was no follow-up question after Brady said that his jersey went missing two years ago, so we’ll have to wait until someone gets the chance to ask him about it again, so that we can confirm his Super Bowl XLIX jersey is also missing.

Anyway, let’s get back to the Super Bow LI jersey. A Yahoo! reporter put together a timeline of events, which eliminated several suspects, but left hundreds to consider from.

Here’s what we know: Brady took the jersey off after the game and gave it to an equipment guy, which you can see below.

 

After that, Brady went to the locker room and placed it in his personal bag. At that point, there was only about a 12-minute window where someone could’ve stolen it.

Let’s hope that it was on the Patriots’ equipment truck because it sounds like Houston police aren’t very concerned with finding it, and that’s because they have other things to worry about, like solving murders.

 

If the jersey was stolen, the thief might be able to sell it for upward of $500,000, but that’s only if they can find a buyer who won’t turn them into police.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

BROADCAST NEWS

The likely top pick of the draft will be at home when he is drafted.

 

Former Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, says he won’t be attending the event.

 

“I’m staying at home,” Garrett told the Houston Chronicle.

 

Garrett told the newspaper he wants to experience the moment of being drafted with his family and friends in Arlington, Texas.

 

Garrett is projected to go No. 1 overall in the latest mock drafts by ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr.

 

The draft will be held April 27-29. The Cleveland Browns will select first.

 

Garrett compiled 32.5 sacks and 48.5 tackles for loss over the past three seasons for Texas A&M.

 

The 6-foot-5, 270-pound prospect had 8.5 sacks in 2016, playing more than half the season with an ankle injury.

 

Garrett also has expressed a preference for what team might draft him.  Zac Jackson at ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Top NFL Draft prospect Myles Garrett has made a video plea to his hometown team, the Cowboys, to trade up and select him in April’s NFL Draft.

 

On an ESPN.com video released Friday, Garrett calls Cowboys owner Jerry Jones by name, saying he’s asking Jones and Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett to select him.

 

“I’m speaking to you, Jerry,” Garrett says on the video. “Mr. [Jason] Garrett, make it happen. Dak Prescott is leading our team right now. I need you to take Tony Romo, take a couple picks, and give them to Cleveland so you can pick me up, please. I’d love to play in Dallas. Let’s make it happen.”

 

Myles Garrett grew up in Arlington, where the Cowboys play. After three years at Texas A&M he’s considered one of the top prospects in this year’s draft and, based on his words, believes the Browns might take him with the No. 1 overall pick.

 

It’s a rather harmless video, and Garrett is smiling throughout. But it’s something the Browns and other front offices holding early draft picks may discuss with Garrett in upcoming weeks.

 

Garrett previously said he prefers to play somewhere warm, because most people do, but later said it didn’t matter where he ended up.

 

Here is today’s Mock Draft – from Todd McShay of ESPN.com:

 

Here is our second projection of the 32 first-round picks in the 2017 NFL draft.

 

1. Cleveland Browns, 1-15

Myles Garrett, OLB/DE, Texas A&M

Yes, the Browns need a quarterback, but they have a lot of other needs, too. Garrett, who has the tools to develop into an elite pass-rusher and a very disruptive run defender, is just too good for Cleveland to pass up for any of the quarterbacks in this class. Don’t forget: The Browns could still trade for Jimmy Garoppolo or draft a QB with the 12th overall pick.

 

2. San Francisco 49ers, 2-14

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

We don’t have a first-round grade on Watson because of his inconsistent accuracy and decision-making (30 INTs the past two seasons). But his outstanding leadership skills and intangibles will help him during pre-draft meetings with teams, and he does have intriguing physical tools, including a good arm and athleticism. Kyle Shanahan’s offense would be a good fit for Watson — or UNC’s Mitch Trubisky, who I thought about putting here. Shanahan has had success with mobile QBs in the past.

 

3. Chicago Bears, 3-13

Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama

Allen has elite strength and quickness. He’s an excellent run-stopper, and he had 15 QB hurries and 10.5 sacks as an interior pass-rusher in 2016. The Bears could also be in the market for a quarterback, but Allen is the pick because of his elite skill set (No. 2 player on my board) and fit in Vic Fangio’s base 3-4 scheme.

 

4. Jacksonville Jaguars, 3-13

Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Adams would give the Jaguars’ improving defense another young playmaker in the secondary alongside CB Jalen Ramsey, last year’s first-round pick. Adams shows great range and tackling ability against the run. He’s a true tone-setter on defense. Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien is set to be a free agent.

 

5. Tennessee Titans, 9-7 (from Rams)

Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Talking to teams at the Senior Bowl, there’s a lot of buzz about Davis. He has good size (6-2, 205), elite production and is a smooth route-runner. Davis won’t run the 40 at the combine because of an ankle injury, but if he’s in the 4.4s at his pro day as expected, he could be a surprise top-10 pick. Marcus Mariota needs more weapons on the perimeter.

 

6. New York Jets, 5-11

Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

Lattimore has elite cover skills and good length/size (6-0, 192). He has only one year of starting experience, but he showed good ball production, recording four interceptions and nine pass breakups. Darrelle Revis could be gone or could switch to safety, which would heighten the need for a naturally gifted cover-corner like Lattimore.

 

7. Los Angeles Chargers, 5-11

Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

L.A.’s biggest need right now is at offensive tackle, but I don’t see a player at that position worthy of a top-10 pick. Hooker would fill another void for the Chargers, who could use a rangy, instinctive safety patrolling the deep middle of the field. Hooker tied for third in the FBS with seven interceptions in his first year as a starter.

 

8. Carolina Panthers, 6-10

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

This would be great value getting my third-ranked player at pick No. 8. Fournette is the best running back prospect I’ve evaluated since Adrian Peterson. His rare combination of size, power, agility and speed would be a good fit for Carolina’s run-first scheme. Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart could be a cap casualty this offseason.

 

9. Cincinnati Bengals, 6-9-1

Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

A freakishly gifted athlete, Thomas dominated all season (15 TFLs, eight sacks and seven QB hurries) and was a wrecking ball against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. At 6-foot-3 and 273 pounds, he has good size and strength, and he’s stout against the run. Cincinnati could use some more pass-rush help after having just 33 sacks in 2016.

 

10. Buffalo Bills, 7-9

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Mitch Trubisky or DeShone Kizer could be in play here, depending on what happens with Tyrod Taylor. But the Bills have four WRs hitting free agency and would fill an immediate void with Williams. The Clemson standout has a good size-speed combination and shows the ability to create late separation when the ball is in the air.

 

11. New Orleans Saints, 7-9

Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

Charlton really came on strong in the second half of the season, posting 10 sacks in his final 10 games. He showed a lot of improvement with his hands and overall technique in 2016. The Saints need a pass-rusher opposite Cameron Jordan, and Charlton has the size, speed and power to be a difference-maker off the edge.

 

12. Cleveland Browns, 1-15 (from Eagles)

Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

After addressing the Browns’ void at edge rusher with the No. 1 overall pick, it’s time to take another swing at a quarterback. There’s a lot to like about Trubisky’s tape. He flashes the ability to go through progressions, and he’s the most accurate QB in this class. I like Trubisky’s mobility but have concerns about what his real size is and some of the critical errors he has made, including two bad interceptions versus Stanford. With just 13 career starts to evaluate, Trubisky’s pre-draft interviews and measurables will play a big role in where he lands.

 

13. Arizona Cardinals, 7-8-1

Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

If the right QB is available here, I wouldn’t count the Cardinals out. With Watson and Trubisky off the board, though, Foster is the pick. He’s one of the 10 best players in this draft; the only reason he might slide a bit is his position. He shed weight and played much faster in 2016, proving to be an every-down linebacker. The Cardinals have six defensive starters set to hit free agency. Whom they re-sign will play a big role in the direction they take with this pick.

 

14. Philadelphia Eagles, 7-9 (from Vikings)

Teez Tabor, CB, Florida

Tabor needs to cut down on the number of big plays he allows, but he has some of the best ball skills among cornerbacks in this draft class, with nine interceptions and 28 pass breakups in his past three seasons. He shows natural anticipation, if not the most consistent technique. Wide receivers Corey Davis or Mike Williams could also be in play if they slip this far.

 

15. Indianapolis Colts, 8-8

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Protecting and supporting Andrew Luck is priority No. 1 for the Colts, but drafting more O-linemen (they picked four last year) isn’t the only way to do that. Indy can’t bank on RB Frank Gore, who turns 34 in May, to continue to defy the odds. Cook, the No. 8 player on our board, is an explosive runner and a weapon in the passing game. He loves the game, too.

 

16. Baltimore Ravens, 8-8

Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

McDowell is arguably the best interior pass-rusher in this class. He didn’t play with the same passion and toughness this season, which could cause him to slip a bit. But if you trust your defensive coaching staff and locker room to develop him and keep him motivated, McDowell could be a steal at this point in the first round. Another intriguing option is Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, given the Harbaugh connection and the Ravens’ need at safety.

 

17. Washington Redskins, 8-7-1

Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

Peppers is a polarizing prospect in scouting circles. He needs to be protected from deep zone coverage, and he did not have much ball production at Michigan, with just one career interception. But he is a special athlete with elite speed and a unique knack for keeping blockers off his pads. His electrifying return ability will also be an asset in the NFL.

 

18. Tennessee Titans, 9-7

Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Alabama’s O.J. Howard would be awfully tempting for an offense that features the TE heavily. But cornerback is far and away the Titans’ top need, and at 6-foot and 181 pounds, Jones has great length and movement skills. While he needs to add strength, Jones is actually pretty physical for a smaller-framed guy.

 

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 9-7

O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

The Buccaneers have bigger needs than tight end — defensive line, safety and wide receiver among them — but Howard, my No. 12 overall player, is the best value on the board. He was the best player on the field all week at the Senior Bowl, showing great athleticism for a guy who measured just over 6-foot-5½ and 249 pounds.

 

20. Denver Broncos, 9-7

Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

The first offensive lineman comes off the board at No. 20, which would be the lowest ever since the 1970 merger. This is a weak O-line class. Ramczyk, who’s recovering from hip surgery, has the best tape of the group. He also has just one year of major college experience after transferring from UW-Stevens Point (Division III). Long and well-built, Ramczyk would serve as a much-needed upgrade for the Broncos up front.

 

21. Detroit Lions, 9-7

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Barnett isn’t expected to put up big numbers during workouts, which could cause him to fall a bit in between now and late April. But he plays with good discipline, a consistent motor and impressive physicality. His production in the SEC the past three years is insane, including 52 TFLs and 33 sacks. The Lions have needs at every level of the defense, but pass-rusher tops the list.

 

22. Miami Dolphins, 10-6

David Njoku, TE, Miami

Njoku comes with loads of upside, thanks to rare athleticism for the position and big-play ability, including 16.2 yards per reception. There’s not much of a gap between Njoku and Alabama’s O.J. Howard for the No. 1 TE ranking. Both Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims are set to be free agents for the Dolphins, so the fit would make sense for Njoku to stay in Miami.

 

23. New York Giants, 11-5

Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB, UCLA

Tight end would also be a strong possibility if either Howard or Njoku were still on the board. With both gone and Jason Pierre-Paul slated to become a free agent, the Giants could be in the market for another pass-rusher. McKinley has versatility, and I love his motor. He’s a natural pass-rusher with elite speed off the edge, recording 18 TFLs and 10 sacks in 2016.

 

24. Oakland Raiders, 12-4

Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

At 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds, Davis’ best fit is at weak-side linebacker. He’s an explosive athlete with great range who profiles as an every-down player in the NFL. He could also play middle linebacker if he bulked up a bit. Oakland has needs at both positions and could use a Kwon Alexander-type player like Davis at the second level.

 

25. Houston Texans, 9-7

Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Quarterback is a possibility, but I don’t see DeShone Kizer and Bill O’Brien being a good marriage. Upgrading the offensive line is also a priority, and Bolles has the athleticism that Houston needs up front. He’s an underrated prospect who should continue to rise in a weak offensive line class.

 

26. Seattle Seahawks, 10-5-1

Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Robinson has some athletic limitations and isn’t an elite pass-blocker, but he has great size and experience in a zone-blocking scheme. The Seahawks are in desperate need of upgrading both offensive tackle spots. Robinson could be a good fit on the right side.

 

27. Kansas City Chiefs, 12-4

Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

White had a great 2016 season, playing with better physicality and improved recognition skills. He is one of the most experienced players in this class, having started 47 games in his LSU career. He also impressed at the Senior Bowl. The Chiefs badly need a youth infusion at inside linebacker, but there isn’t one available who’s worth drafting this high.

 

28. Dallas Cowboys, 13-3

Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama

Williams’ 2015 tape was better than his 2016 tape. He also added a misdemeanor gun charge to his record. The Cowboys have shown they’re not afraid to take chances on talented prospects with character baggage. And make no mistake: Williams is talented, with 19.5 sacks the past two seasons. He shows excellent first-step quickness and explosive power.

 

29. Green Bay Packers, 10-6

Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

Kamara is an underrated talent who will continue to rise as we get closer to the draft. He has the vision and lateral quickness you look for in a runner and the power to break a lot of tackles. Kamara averaged 6.2 yards per carry, showing the ability to create plays on his own, which is among the most important things a back can do.

 

30. Pittsburgh Steelers, 11-5

Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri

Harris is a twitchy, high-energy player who brings some versatility to the table. He led the SEC with 18.5 tackles for loss in 2015, and he had 16 sacks the past two seasons. He’s not a finished product, but Harris has a lot of nice tools and profiles as a fringe first-rounder.

 

31. Atlanta Falcons, 11-5

Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

Wilson was overshadowed by fellow Florida CB Teez Tabor this season, but some scouts I’ve talked to think Wilson has the higher ceiling of the two. At 6-1, Wilson has a good length/speed combination. The Falcons found a gem from Florida’s secondary in the 2016 draft in Keanu Neal and could go back to the well this year.

 

32. New England Patriots, 14-2

Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

Look for the Patriots to add a tight end early, perhaps Michigan’s Jake Butt or Ole Miss’ Evan Engram on Day 2. But given how the board fell, they could get better value by targeting Reddick here. He opened eyes at the Senior Bowl, proving he can thrive as an off-the-line LB. Reddick has a little Tedy Bruschi in him.

 

 

FREE AGENCY TARGETS

Cameron DaSilva of FoxSports.com with an interesting exercise as he pronounces each team’s top target in free agency (with some teams doubling up on the same guy):

 

Free agency is one of the most exciting times of the NFL offseason. It’s when big-name players change teams, key contributors are re-signed and underpaid stars get their due.

 

We’re exactly a month away from the start of free agency (March 9), so it’s a good time to peg one player each team should target when the period begins. These include players teams can re-sign, as well as outside options from other squads. While some of these names may not hit the open market, there’s always a chance and you simply never know what’s going to happen when the money starts flying around.

 

Arizona Cardinals: Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills)

The Cardinals have one standout corner in Patrick Peterson, but the depth behind him has been an issue for years. Gilmore is likely to command a hefty amount of money, but he’d be a good fit in Arizona with his physicality and ability to match up one-on-one.

 

Atlanta Falcons: Lorenzo Alexander, OLB (Bills)

The Falcons are a fairly complete team with few needs on either side of the ball. One area where they can certainly improve is at pass rusher. Vic Beasley is going to get double-teamed constantly without a strong presence on the other side of the line. Enter Lorenzo Alexander. Due to his age (33), he won’t be as expensive as the top targets. However, he’s still a dynamic pass rusher and would be a good complement for Beasley.

 

Baltimore Ravens: Nick Perry, OLB (Packers)

The Ravens don’t have a great deal of cap space heading into 2017, which is why they probably can’t afford guys like Chandler Jones or Melvin Ingram. A cheaper option would be Perry, who had a breakout year in 2016 with 11 sacks. He can help as a pass rusher off the edge – something the Ravens desperately need.

 

Buffalo Bills: Terrelle Pryor, WR (Browns)

Pryor will probably be re-signed by the Browns, but if he isn’t, the Bills should take a look. He figures to be even better next season with another year of playing wide receiver under his belt, providing Tyrod Taylor with a reliable No. 2 option opposite Sammy Watkins.

 

Carolina Panthers: Ricky Wagner, RT (Ravens)

The Panthers need help at both tackle spots. Wagner is the top right tackle on the market and is someone Carolina should absolutely target. He would be an upgrade over Mike Remmers, who was not good in 2016. He could do great things for Cam Newton’s development.

 

Chicago Bears: Calais Campbell, DE (Cardinals)

The Cardinals are going to do their best to retain the veteran defensive end, but the Bears should go after him if that doesn’t happen. He’d be an ideal fit in the Bears’ 3-4 front, which is similar to Arizona’s. Not only can he rush the passer a bit, but he stuffs the run with the best of them, which is an area that the Bears struggled with this season.

 

Cincinnati Bengals: Larry Warford, OG (Lions)

If the Bengals don’t stay in-house with Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, Warford should be a target. He’s a solid guard, which is a position of need for the Bengals. Adding Warford would improve Cincinnati’s running game, which was stagnant this season.

 

Cleveland Browns: A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans)

The Browns already took care of Jamie Collins, and Terrelle Pryor is likely up next. However, they were terrible against the pass this season and should target one of the top corners on the market in Bouye. If he gets away from Houston, Bouye will be coveted by several teams. The Browns, boasting the most cap space, can throw their money at him – and they should.

 

Dallas Cowboys: DeMarcus Ware, DE (Broncos)

Because of the Cowboys’ cap situation, and their reluctance to make splashy free-agent moves in recent years, they’re not likely to go after Chandler Jones or Melvin Ingram if they hit the open market. Ware, despite being oft-injured and a guy the team let walk to Denver three years ago, would help the Cowboys greatly in a potential reunion. He could add a spark to the pass rush and help Dallas’ young guys develop.

 

Denver Broncos: Andrew Whitworth, LT (Bengals)

Russell Okung did not play well for the Broncos, and he should be on his way out this offseason. = Whitworth is an underrated left tackle and should be a top priority for Denver. Improving the left side of the line will only help the Broncos’ young quarterbacks.

 

Detroit Lions: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE (Giants)

This seems like a perfect scenario for the Lions. Pierre-Paul would be a nice complement for Ziggy Ansah with his physicality and ability to play the run, which is exactly why the Lions should go after him hard – as long as he isn’t demanding outlandish money.

 

Green Bay Packers: Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills)

It’s not like the Packers to dole out big money in free agency, but for the sake of this post, Gilmore is a player they should absolutely go after. With Sam Shields out of the mix and their young corners struggling, the Packers need to improve in the secondary, which Gilmore would help them do right away.

 

Houston Texans: Ronald Leary, OG (Cowboys)

Outside of landing a quarterback, the Texans need to improve their offensive line. Leary is outstanding in the running game, boasting the athleticism and strength to get to the second level and open up running lanes for backs – just as he did for Ezekiel Elliott this season. Lamar Miller would love this signing.

 

Indianapolis Colts: Riley Reiff, RT (Lions)

The Colts need help on the right side of the offensive line, particularly at right tackle. Ricky Wagner is also an option at this spot, but with several other needs on the roster, Reiff is a cheaper choice. He moved to right tackle this season and played fairly well, so another year at the position will only help.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Kevin Zeitler, OG (Bengals)

Luke Joeckel is on his way out, and he should be replaced by Zeitler. He’d make Blake Bortles’ life easier by providing better pass protection on the interior of the line.

 

Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Berry, FS (Chiefs)

Eric Berry has already said he’s not going to play on the franchise tag, so it’s up to the Chiefs to sign him long-term. If that doesn’t happen , another team is absolutely going to. Berry was KC’s defensive MVP last year and losing him would be an absolute disaster for the Chiefs.

 

Los Angeles Chargers: Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears)

Philip Rivers thrived when he had a big target like Vincent Jackson on the outside. It’s not a necessity for his success, but having a true X receiver in the mold of Jackson could help Rivers rebound. Jeffery is a similar player with great athleticism, and he should be a target for the Chargers this offseason.

 

Los Angeles Rams: Ronald Leary, OG (Cowboys)

If the Rams want to get Todd Gurley going, Leary would be a perfect fit. He’s an elite run blocker and has been great for the Cowboys at left guard. He’s the type of player Gurley could put his head down and run behind, gaining good yardage consistently. Leary can also hold his own in pass protection, too.

 

Miami Dolphins: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE (Giants)

As good as Cameron Wake is, he’s not going to play forever. And even if he is somehow immortal and beats Father Time, the Dolphins need a pass rusher to play on the other side of the line. Pierre-Paul was one of the best 4-3 DEs in the NFL this past season, and while that will drive up his asking price, he’d be worth it for Miami.

 

Minnesota Vikings: Sebastian Vollmer, RT (Patriots)

The Vikings don’t have much cap space compared to other teams, which is why I have them targeting a mid-tier right tackle instead of someone like Ricky Wagner. Though they could also use a left tackle to replace Matt Kalil, Vollmer would be an upgrade on the right side at a discounted price due to injury concerns.

 

New England Patriots: DeSean Jackson, WR (Redskins)

The Patriots’ wide receivers are all fairly similar. They don’t have elite speed, and they thrive on underneath routes and make a living after the catch. Jackson would break that mold a bit by providing them with a true deep threat. Tom Brady is one of the best deep passers in the NFL – just look at what he did with Randy Moss – and a combination of he and Jackson would add a new dynamic to the offense.

 

New Orleans Saints: A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans)

The Saints need help at cornerback to play alongside Delvin Breaux. Bouye would be an ideal fit, considering the experience he has playing the slot. He’d be expensive, but in the pass-happy NFC South, the Saints need all the cornerbacks they can get. Bouye had a breakout season in 2016.

 

New York Giants: Andrew Whitworth, LT (Bengals)

The Giants need a great deal of help on the offensive line, particularly at left tackle. They need to move Ereck Flowers from that spot, and signing Whitworth would allow them to do exactly that. Eli Manning isn’t mobile and isn’t getting any younger, so the Giants need to protect him at all costs.

 

New York Jets: Melvin Ingram, OLB (Chargers)

The Jets will be a bit strapped for money this offseason, but releasing veterans like Brandon Marshall and Darrelle Revis could open up cap space for Ingram. He would be a huge upgrade at outside linebacker if he hit the open market. Green Bay’s Nick Perry would be a good consolation prize if the Jets can’t make room for Ingram.

 

Oakland Raiders: Dont’a Hightower, LB (Patriots)

The Raiders figure to turn their focus to the defensive side of the ball this offseason, beginning with the linebacker position. Hightower, if he somehow hits the open market, would be a perfect fit in Oakland. He’s a downhill backer who loves to hit running backs, something Perry Riley Jr. and Malcolm Smith didn’t do much of. He can also drop back and cover.

 

Philadelphia Eagles: Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears)

Priority No. 1 for the Eagles has to be surrounding Carson Wentz with more talent. He needs playmakers at wide receiver – guys who he can rely upon to make easy catches. Jeffery has character and injury concerns, but he’s a true No. 1 receiver and can win both deep down the field and on quick routes like slants and drags.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers: Le’Veon Bell, RB (Steelers)

This is an obvious one, but it’s also completely necessary. The Steelers have to re-sign Le’Veon Bell and keep their trio of playmakers together. They simply cannot let him hit the open market.

 

San Francisco 49ers: Kirk Cousins, QB (Redskins)

It was reported that Kyle Shanahan could be interested in a reunion with Kirk Cousins in San Francisco. If Cousins gets away from Washington, keep an eye on San Francisco, which will be desperate for quarterback help.

 

Seattle Seahawks: Ricky Wagner, RT (Ravens)

Matt Kalil could be an option for the Seahawks at left tackle, considering Pete Carroll recruited him and coached him at USC. However, if the Seahawks opt to look at the right tackle position, Wagner should be a target. He’s expected to be expensive, but he’d be worth it after seeing what the Seahawks played with at the position this season.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Eric Berry, FS (Chiefs)

The Buccaneers had a weak group of safeties in Bradley McDougald, Keith Tandy and Chris Conte. Adding Berry wouldn’t solve all their problems, but it would do wonders. He’d be expensive – likely one of the top-paid safeties – but Berry is the complete package.

 

Tennessee Titans: Trumaine Johnson, CB (Rams)

Frankly, the Titans could use an upgrade at three of their four starting spots in the secondary. Cornerback should be the top priority, though, and Johnson would be a good fit. His price should be a bit cheaper than it was a year ago after he led the league in interceptions.

 

Washington Redskins: Kirk Cousins, QB (Redskins)

If the Redskins re-sign Cousins to a long-term deal, it could very well make him the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. That would make him overpaid by most standards, but what other options do the Redskins have? The franchise tag is a possibility, but he’s done enough to prove he’s deserving of an extension.