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Unread 2018-04-23, 07:09 AM   #26
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Who needs to draft a quarterback? Ranking NFL teams' need from 1-32

SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports' Lorenzo Reyes breaks down which 10 NFL games to circle on the calendar this upcoming season. USA TODAY Sports

Former San Diego Chargers teammates Philip Rivers (17) and Drew Brees could soon find themselves tutoring replacements with their respective teams. (Photo: Gerald Herbert, AP)

This year’s NFL draft represents one of the deepest quarterback classes in recent memory. As many as six passers could hear their names called in the first round as franchises search for saviors. A secondary wave of passers could come off the board in Day 2, with some teams potentially looking to replace aging starters.
Here’s a look around the league, examining teams most to least likely to draft quarterbacks.
Tier 1 — Desperate need
1. Browns: Owners of the draft's first and fourth picks, Cleveland will take a quarterback. They acquired Tyrod Taylor to serve as a bridge, but the need for a true franchise face remains strong.
2. Jets: Determined to fill this long-standing void, they shipped the sixth overall pick and three second-rounders to the Colts in order to move up to No. 3. New York re-signed Josh McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater but picking up a premier youngster remains the goal.

3. Bills: They've already traded up from 21st to 12th but may not be done. They also own the 22nd overall pick and, despite signing AJ McCarron, could use it as bait to get into position for a longer-term solution.
4. Cardinals: Carson Palmer’s retirement left them scrambling. Arizona signed Sam Bradford for 2018, but it’s hard to count on the oft-injured No. 1 pick from 2010.

Tier 2 — Can't wait much longer
5. Giants: Eli Manning is 37 and coming off a subpar year. He has gas left in the tank but is only under contract through 2019. New GM Dave Gettleman picks 2nd and 34th and should probably spend one of the two on a passer.

6. Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill has displayed occasional promise. But the eighth overall pick of the 2012 draft is coming off of a season lost to a torn ACL, and there’s no guarantee he can regain top form.
7. Broncos: They just signed Case Keenum to a two-year, $36 million deal. But can he duplicate last year's surprise success in Minnesota? Picking fifth overall, Denver should seize the opportunity to take a top passer even if he has to sit for a year.
8. Saints: Drew Brees, 39, just signed a two-year, $50 million contract and continues to play at a high level. But it's hard to predict when older quarterbacks will drop off.
9. Patriots: Tom Brady likes to think of himself as ageless, but he'll turn 41 this year. Friction within the organization adds a degree of uncertainty. With two picks in both Rounds 1 and 2, hard to imagine New England doesn't spring for a quarterback early.
10. Ravens: Joe Flacco is 33 and coming off an injury-riddled season. Robert Griffin III just signed a one-year deal, but his durability issues remain. Even if Baltimore doesn't take a quarterback in the first round, GM Ozzie Newsome could still find a quality option on Day 2.
11. Steelers: Retirement talk swirled around Ben Roethlisberger, 36, last year, but he’s sticking around and says he wants to play beyond 2018. However, no one would fault Pittsburgh for drafting his potential replacement.
12. Bengals: Andy Dalton has three years left on his contract. But it makes sense to add a project to the mix after McCarron's departure.
13. Jaguars: Banking on continuity and growth, they gave Blake Bortles a three-year, $54 million extension rather than pursue a replacement in free agency. But Bortles has limitations. If last season winds up representing his ceiling, Jacksonville would look smart by adding a viable alternative.
14. Chargers: Philip Rivers is extremely durable and hasn’t shown signs of regression. But he's also 36.
Tier 3 — Can afford to wait
15. Colts: Andrew Luck's promising career has been derailed by injury (he's missed 26 of his last 48 starts, including the entire 2017 season because of an ongoing shoulder issue). Indianapolis hopes he’s able to return to form in 2018 but struggled mightily in his absence last year. Backup Jacoby Brissett is under contract for two more years, but GM Chris Ballard also has enough picks that it could make sense to draft a talented insurance policy.
16. Packers: Aaron Rodgers should be back at full strength this year. Green Bay also has young but experienced backups in reserve with newly acquired DeShone Kizer and holdover Brett Hundley.
17. Redskins: They just traded for Alex Smith and gave him a four-year extension. Colt McCoy remains the backup, and Kevin Hogan is a third option. , and also traded for Kevin Hogan. If an intriguing prospect falls, Washington could pounce. But pressure to draft one no longer remains.
Tier 4 — Not likely on the radar
18. Texans: Deshaun Watson returns from knee surgery, aiming to build on his promising rookie showing.
19. Bears: They like Mitchell Trubisky’s potential.
20. Chiefs: Tantalizing Patrick Mahomes takes over with Smith gone.
21: Cowboys: In Dak they trust.
22. Buccaneers: He regressed some last year, but Jameis Winston is still their guy.
23. Titans: Marcus Mariota looks to take the next step after reaching the playoffs for the first time.
24. Raiders: Derek Carr looks to grow under new coach Jon Gruden.
25. Falcons: Matt Ryan could sign an extension any day.
26. Lions: Matthew Stafford's five-year, $135-million extension kicks in this year.
27. Panthers: Still Cam Newton’s team.
28. Seahawks: Russell Wilson. Enough said.
29. Rams: Jared Goff looks like the real deal.
30. Vikings: They just went all in on Kirk Cousins.
31. 49ers: They got their guy, Jimmy Garoppolo, for the next five years at the cost of $137.5 million.
32. Eagles: Carson Wentz returns, and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles remains for now. Third stringer Nate Sudfeld offers promise.

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Unread 2018-04-30, 09:41 AM   #27
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The Eagles drafted a massive rugby player who has never played football

Jordan Mailata was a big, bold pick by the Super Bowl champs. (Doug Benc/Associated Press)
The idea was borne of necessity. Jordan Mailata, a rugby player with a stellar highlight reel from his games with Australia’s South Sydney Rabbitohs team, had, quite literally, outgrown his sport.

Enter football. NFL football, to be exact.

Mailata spent the past four months learning football and how to block at the IMG training facility in Florida. His agent sent a highlight reel to NFL scouts, hoping that Mailata, who stands 6-foot-8, weighs 346 pounds and was named after Michael Jordan, might impress a team thirsty for a lineman. Bingo. On Saturday evening, the Philadelphia Eagles made a bold move with their final pick in the NFL draft, taking the 21-year-old man who has never played organized football. Eight teams were interested in him, but the Eagles were either impressed or intrigued enough to make a trade with the New England Patriots, moving up 17 spots to take him in the seventh round with the 233rd pick. The Eagles also sent a 2019 seventh-round pick to the Patriots.

And no one was more surprised than Mailata when he received a phone call.

“Honestly I thought it was just going to be another chat to my agent, because I had received two phone calls earlier from other clubs just asking for my agent’s contact details,” he told Australia’s Fox Sports. “So when they called me — it was the scout that picked me up at the pro day — all I did was say, ‘Hello’, asking what it was. He said, ‘I’m going to put you on the phone to Howie.’ ”

[‘I’m going to run angrier than ever’: Redskins’ Derrius Guice has something to prove]

(That would be Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ general manager.)

“I broke down. I think it was a lot of emotions today,” Mailata added. “I didn’t know how I was feeling, especially when it came down to the last 30 picks; I was really nervous.”

The moment Jordan Mailata gets drafted to the @Eagles

What a great day 🇦🇺 #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/RiMWvVa76Z

— NFLAustralia (@NFLAustralia) April 28, 2018
Mailata, whose first name is Lafoga, received his middle name of Jordan from his then 10-year-old sister, who was allowed to name her new baby brother and liked the NBA Hall of Famer. His parents, who are Samoan, moved to New Zealand and then to Australia years before his birth. As a kid, he fell for rugby, playing the sport until he got too big for it.

“Size does play to my advantage [in rugby], but I never started,” he told NFL.com. “I was always that ‘impact player,’ and all those [YouTube] clips that you see, that’s me playing as that impact player [off the bench]. I never started games; I was always brought on 10-15 minutes before the half, then started the next half, then brought back off again, then played the last 5-10 minutes. I was used as that force to pick up the pace, pick up the momentum of the game.”

In that sport, his weight was a problem.

“Rugby’s such a get-up, get-down game, and playing that for 80 minutes is a lot for a 310-pound guy,” he said. “They wanted me to lose another 50 pounds but I couldn’t because I was [at] 10 percent body fat. That goal was just unrealistic.”

That won’t be an issue in the NFL, although he might not be playing immediately.

“Right now, he’s going to be in Stout’s room,’’ Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said of offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland (via Philly.com). “His size, his measurables, they’re pretty rare. Just to see the excitement that not only Stout but also [assistant offensive line coach Eugene Chung] had about Jordan, it was palpable.’’

The @Eagles just drafted Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata.

His highlights are... INSANE. DOMINANT. RIDICULOUS. 😱 #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/ELYxjng21m

— NFL (@NFL) April 28, 2018
And it was apparently worth the gamble to spend a draft pick on Mailata rather than hoping he’d choose to sign with the Eagles over the other interested teams as an undrafted free agent. Roseman admitted to SI.com’s Peter King that it was unusual to trade two picks for such an unknown.

“I thought [owner] Jeffrey Lurie said something interesting about him: ‘With a lot of these guys, you can see what they’re going to be. With this guy, we don’t know his floor, and we don’t know his ceiling,’” Roseman said. “With this guy, we’re molding a piece of clay.”

Stoutland was enthusiastic after watching Mailata work out, returning to Philadelphia and “raving about his work ethic and his athletic ability. We saw this guy had rare athleticism and was physical and violent,” Roseman said. “Traits of that body type and that athleticism are hard to find. We understand it’ll be a process. He’s 21.”

So there’s a new Process in Philadelphia. Mailata had something of the same reaction as the Eagles: let’s see what happens.

“It’s a fun sport, you know? Why not give it a try?” Mailata said in an NFL Network interview. “It’s been an absolute brainstorm of an experience.”

[Former Eagles kicker David Akers trolls Dallas, then announces draft pick named Dallas]

NFL teams aren’t the first to fall for Mailata at first sight. Former Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire wrote that the first time he approached Mailata, “he kept getting bigger and bigger until you pretty much felt he was going to fill the entire space. I reckon he’s still the largest bloke I’ve come across in rugby league.”

Which might make him perfect for the NFL, now that he understands what it’s all about.

“I went there not really understanding the level of athleticism and skill the guys up front at the line of scrimmage had,” Mailata told NFL Network. “But now having been put through the many drills and testing, it certainly opened my eyes to how good the NFL athlete is. I am looking forward to the challenge and feel confident I can succeed, but I now have a lot of hard work in front of me before I can start thinking of wearing an NFL jersey.”

This isn’t the first time the Eagles have dipped into the rubgy world. Last year, they signed Adam Zaruba, a tight end who spent the season on the practice squad.

And a rugby gamble previously worked out for the Patriots, who drafted Nate Ebner out of Ohio State with the 197th pick in 2012. Ebner never played football in high school, but he walked on with the Buckeyes. Since rugby was his love, New England allowed him to take a leave of absence to play on the U.S. Rugby sevens team that finished ninth at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“It was a lengthy discussion, over many different conversations,” said Ebner, a backup safety and special teams stalwart (via USA Rugby). “But in the end, they knew who they drafted in 2012 in me being a rugby player, and they understood this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and they have shown nothing but support through this entire journey. I’m so lucky to have their blessing, and this may not have happened without them backing me to do so.”

Rugby sevens is a quicker variant of the game most known around in the world; instead of 15 players per team playing 40-minute halves, there are seven per side playing seven-minute halves.

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Unread 2018-05-15, 09:50 AM   #28
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David Tepper expected to sign Panthers purchase deal

8:08 AM CT

Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner David Tepper is expected to sign the deal Tuesday to buy the Panthers and keep them in North Carolina, a league source told ESPN's Seth Wickersham and Adam Schefter.
A source confirmed to ESPN that the Panthers will be sold for $2.2 billion. That will set a record for the highest sale price for an NFL team, surpassing the $1.4 billion that the Buffalo Bills were sold for in 2014. The NBA's Houston Rocketsalso sold for $2.2 billion in 2017.
The Charlotte Observer first reported the Panthers' sale price.
The deal would be expected to be approved at the owners meetings in Atlanta on May 22. The purchase needs approval from the NFL financial committee and then three-fourths approval from the 32 owners.
Tepper, the founder of global hedge fund Appaloosa Management, has a net worth of $11 billion, according to Forbes, and is committed to keeping the team in Charlotte. Under league rules, Tepper must put up at least 30 percent of the selling price.
Because Tepper, 60, is a minority owner of the Steelers, he has already passed the league's vetting process. He currently owns 5 percent of the Steelers and would have to sell that interest before completing the Panthers purchase.
<IMG class="imageLoaded lazyloaded" style="BOX-SIZING: border-box; MAX-WIDTH: 100%; BORDER-TOP: 0px; BORDER-RIGHT: 0px; WIDTH: 565px; VERTICAL-ALIGN: top; BORDER-BOTTOM: 0px; BORDER-LEFT: 0px; DISPLAY: block" data-image-container=".inline-photo">David Tepper, who is expected to sign the paperwork to purchase the Panthers, according to a source, is committed to keeping the team in Charlotte. AP Photo/Mel Evans The Panthers were put up for sale after the 2017 season following sexual harassment and workplace misconduct allegations against owner Jerry Richardson that were published by Sports Illustrated in December.
On Dec. 17, Sports Illustrated published a report alleging that Richardson sexually harassed multiple women and used a racial slur toward a team scout. The SI report said the Panthers had reached settlements with at least four former employees regarding inappropriate workplace behavior by Richardson.
Richardson, 81, allegedly made verbal comments about women's appearances, inappropriately touched female employees and made advances to women that included asking whether he could shave their legs and requests for them to give him foot rubs.
Along with the allegation of using a racial slur that led to a settlement with the former scout, SI noted comments made by Richardson about black players' appearances and his threat to discipline players who addressed social issues.
On the evening of Dec. 17, Richardson announced in a public letter that he would sell the team after the season.
Ben Navarro, the founder of Charleston, South Carolina-based Sherman Financial Group LLC, was considered with Tepper to be the other top candidate to get Richardson's recommendation. Michael Rubin, Fanatics owner; Alan Kestenbaum, chairman of Bedrock Industries LP; and Joseph Tsai, Brooklyn Nets majority owner, were also reported to be interested in becoming primary owners of the franchise.
Tepper emerged as the early leader, although Navarro at one point appeared to take the lead. Because Richardson wanted to complete the sale as soon as possible, according to multiple sources, and there were questions about whether owners would approve Navarro immediately, Tepper became the top choice.
Sources told ESPN that Rubin and Tsai bowed out when they were told that they shouldn't participate if they weren't prepared to pay "substantially more than $2.5 billion" -- $300 million more than the ultimate sale price.
The Panthers hired Steve Greenberg of New York investment bank Allen & Co. to help with the sale. The banking and legal team have worked to sell the LA Clippers, Washington Wizards, St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Nets and other major franchises in recent years.

Tepper arguably is one of the greatest hedge fund managers of this generation. He also has a strong philanthropy résumé, particularly in areas where he has lived.
He donated $3 million over the year to help with hurricane relief in Puerto Rico and Texas. When Hurricane Sandy devastated the New Jersey coast in 2012, Tepper gave out 12,000 $100 gift cards to people in need in 20 different communities.
Tepper grew up in a lower- to middle-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh and received a degree in economics from the University of Pittsburgh. Early in his career, he worked as a credit analyst at Goldman Sachs.

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Unread 2018-05-23, 12:38 PM   #29
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N.F.L. Teams Will Be Fined for Players’ Anthem Kneeling

Members of the New England Patriots kneeling during the national anthem before a game against the Texans last season.CreditJim Rogash/Getty Images North America “Our union will review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement,” the union said in a statement.

— NFLPA (@NFLPA) May 23, 2018

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling for the anthem in the 2016 season to protest racism and police brutality. He was soon joined by several teammates and dozens of other players around the N.F.L., continuing into last season.
While some fans applauded the protests, many others were critical, saying the players were disrespecting the country. Among them was President Trump, who declared last September on Twitter, “Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!”

Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

The protests were also discomfiting to largely conservative N.F.L. owners. Kaepernick has filed a grievance saying he was blackballed by league owners; no team offered him a job after he left the 49ers. Another former 49ers player, safety Eric Reid, has done the same.

The new policy states that “a club will be fined by the league if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.” It does not elaborate whether other types of protests, like raised fists, would be considered a show of respect. Here is the new policy, as stated by the league:
• All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
• The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem.
• Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the anthem has been performed.
• A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
• Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
• The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.

N.F.L. owners, players and executives met in October to discuss the anthem issue. According to an audio recording obtained by The New York Times, players wanted to talk about Kaepernick’s case, while owners were more concerned about how to avoid negative publicity around the issue of kneeling during the anthem.
“The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” said Robert K. Kraft, the Patriots owner and a longtime supporter of Trump’s. “It’s divisive and it’s horrible.”
Houston Texans owner Bob McNair told players they should talk to their teammates who kneel: “You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business, let’s go out and do something that really produces positive results, and we’ll help you.”


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