Monthly Archives: April 2017

Browns discussed trading up with three teams in top 8

Two days out from the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns are starting to make some moves.

Owners of the first and 12th overall draft picks, and in need of a franchise quarterback, it was long suggested that Cleveland might use its bounty of early-round selections to package picks and move up to hand-select its quarterback of the future. Numerous reports out of Cleveland suggest that man is North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Now there is tangible proof of those efforts.

NFL Network’s Michael Silver reported Tuesday that the Browns have spoken with at least “three teams in the top eight” about trading up.

“The Browns have been doing their due diligence and investigating the possibility,” Silver said on Tuesday’s edition of Up to the Minute Live. “I’ve learned that at least three teams in the top eight have been contacted by the Browns and discussions have taken place about the prospect of moving up. Now this is something that would likely happen in real time when these teams were on the clock because obviously if the target is Mitchell Trubisky and he goes earlier than expected, then those discussions would be moot.

“The Browns could still take Trubisky at No. 1. They could still trade down and try to take him a little lower than one. The more likely scenario right now would be trying to use that 12th pick and get up a little higher to get the quarterback of the future.”

After the Browns pick first overall — a selection that will most likely be Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett — the 49ers, Bears, Jaguars, Titans, Jets, Chargers and Panthers are slated to pick in that order. Excluding the Titans and Panthers, all of those teams are either QB-needy or QB-desperate; Los Angeles brass has suggested it will look into drafting its QB of the future to succeed Philip Rivers.

While no quarterback in this year’s draft is projected to be a top-10 talent, according to NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, you never know how these teams with gaping holes at the game’s most important position will react on draft night. With regards to draft-day trades, anything is possible.

So let’s speculate. Three teams to which Silver might be referring in his report are in the back half of the top eight: the Titans, Jets and Panthers.

» Tennessee needs secondary help — Jamal Adams, Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker are options — and could also be targeting Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. But if all or some of those prospects are off the board by No. 5, then the Titans would be the prime target for Cleveland. The Browns would benefit from jumping ahead of the unpredictable Jets, who are also in the market for a franchise quarterback.

Titans general manager Jon Robinson’s comments on Tuesday that his franchise is “50-50″ to stick at Nos. 5 and 18 should also spur furious speculation that the Titans are open to trading down with Cleveland.

» Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has been saying for a month that the Jets are willing to trade their sixth overall pick. And who could blame them? The Jets’ roster is untested and shallow at nearly every position, and the franchise is entering a very obvious rebuilding year. If Gang Green isn’t in love with a quarterback or any of the remaining secondary prospects at No. 6, it doesn’t hurt to fall back six picks, steal a second-rounder and accumulate much-needed talent and depth.

However, trading with the Browns presents a potential doomsday P.R. scenario for the Jets. As Cleveland did with Philadelphia and Carson Wentz last season, trading away the opportunity to procure the sought-after franchise savior could sink the fan base’s hopes for years to come, especially if the McCown-Petty-Hackenberg troika flounders as most expect it to.

» Then, there are the Panthers, one year removed from a Super Bowl appearance and still plenty deep at multiple positions. Many draft analysts have Carolina targeting the running back position with their top-10 selection, eyeing either Leonard Fournette or Christian McCaffrey. While Fournette could fly off the board early on, there’s a chance that McCaffrey might fall into the meat of the first round, or at least to Cleveland’s 12th pick, which makes their eighth selection expendable.

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo confirmed this hypothesis, adding, “When Mike Silver says top eight, he says top eight for a reason. Keep an eye on the Panthers. There’s also some defensive players that they like that might not be up there at No. 8. Could be that slide-back option there. And then at that point opens up a couple options, one of them is John Ross by the way. They like his speed. They do want to add speed to the offense.”

Which team the Browns eventually target, if and when they do decide to eschew their 12th pick, acquired from the Eagles in the Wentz deal, and a second-rounder in favor a second top-10 selection, remains a mystery.

But what is clear now, with 48 hours remaining until Cleveland is officially on the clock, is that the Browns are deadly serious about trading up for their franchise quarterback.

Ex-Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon settles civil lawsuit with victim

The civil lawsuit brought by Amelia Molitor, the Oklahoma student who was punched by running back Joe Mixon in 2014, has been settled out of court.

Molitor’s attorney released a statement via NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, although terms of the settlement remain confidential.

“I am happy we were able to bring the lawsuit to an end. Joe and I were able to meet privately, without any attorneys, and talk about our experiences since that night. I am encouraged that we will both be able to move forward from here with our lives,” Molitor’s statement read. “From our private discussions I am satisfied that we are going to put this behind us and work towards helping others who may have found themselves in similar circumstances. I greatly appreciate his apology and I think the feelings he expressed were sincere. We both could have handled things differently. I believe if we had a chance to go back to that moment in time, the situation would not have ended the way it did.

“… Going forward, Joe and I agreed we needed to move on from this situation and focus on the future. I’m now planning to attend graduate school. I still plan to speak out and support other people, whether on college campuses or elsewhere, who are faced with overcoming difficult circumstances that have attracted intense public scrutiny. I’m finished talking about what happened that night with Joe. It’s time to move on from that. I wish Joe the best of luck in his future.”

Said Mixon: “I’m thankful Mia and I were able to talk privately. I was able to apologize to her one-on-one. The way I reacted that night, that’s not me. That’s not the way I was raised. I think she understands that. Talking together helps move us past what happened. I know I have to keep working to be a better person, and this is another step in that direction. I love working with kids, and I’m looking forward to more chances to do that kind of work. I want to lead a life that inspires them, and I hope I can lead by example from today forward.”

The misdemeanor criminal charge against Mixon, acts resulting in gross injury, was pleaded to probation, counseling and community service. He was suspended from OU’s football team for the 2014 season. A video of the incident, released in December, brought renewed public scrutiny to Mixon, however, and his draft status has been clouded as a result. He’s considered one of the top talents at running back in this year’s draft. Reportedly, at least six NFL clubs have taken Mixon off their draft board.

The draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia.

Patriots sign Bills RB Mike Gillislee to two-year offer sheet

The New England Patriots extended an offer sheet to Buffalo Bills running back Mike Gillislee on Tuesday.

The offer is for two years and is worth $6.4 million, including $4 million in the first year, sources told ESPN. The Bills have five days to decide whether to match the offer sheet.

The Bills placed an original-round tender on Gillislee worth $1.797 million, meaning the Patriots would send a fifth-round pick to the Bills if Buffalo declines to match. The Dolphins picked Gillislee in the fifth round of the 2013 draft but released him in 2015.

The financials were first reported by NFL Network.

If the Bills decline to match Gillislee’s offer, it is unlikely the Patriots will re-sign free-agent running back LeGarrette Blount, who led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns, which was the highest total in the NFL since Adrian Peterson had 18 in 2009. He was the Patriots’ top power running back, totaling 1,161 yards on 299 carries in the regular season.

Gillislee set career highs last season with 577 yards receiving and nine touchdowns (eight rushing) in 15 games, including one start. His 5.7 yards per rush average led the NFL.

This is the second consecutive offseason the Patriots have signed a Bills player to an offer sheet. In 2016 they did so with wide receiver Chris Hogan and Buffalo declined to match the offer.

Hogan went on to post a career-best 680 yards receiving with 38 receptions and four touchdowns. He tied for the NFL lead with his 17.9 yards per reception average.

Hogan had 17 receptions for 332 yards in the playoffs and caught two touchdown passes in the Patriots’ 36-17 AFC Championship Game victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Patriots also signed former Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore at the outset of free agency, poaching another impact player from their division rival.

Marshawn Lynch to seek reinstatement, is actively negotiating deal with Raiders

The Raiders were actively negotiating Thursday with running back Marshawn Lynch, who has decided he intends to seek reinstatement to the NFL if he can play in Oakland, league sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder.

Lynch, who retired after the 2015 season, was born and raised in Oakland. The Raiders will play there for at least the next two seasons before moving to Las Vegas.

The Seattle Seahawks still hold Lynch’s contractual rights, but they allowed him to visit the Raiders last week. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported last week that a deal between the Raiders and Lynch “eventually will happen.”

The Raiders can trade with the Seahawks for Lynch’s rights before he’s formally reinstated, a source told Werder. However, Lynch would be required to be fully reinstated as soon as a new contract is executed.

A source told Werder that Lynch and the Raiders are working on a short-term, heavily incentivized contract.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider, asked about the situation during an appearance last week on 710 ESPN Seattle, confirmed that the Seahawks and Raiders have had talks regarding Lynch.

Lynch will turn 31 on April 22. He has rushed for 9,112 yards and 74 touchdowns in 9 NFL seasons, though injury limited him to seven games in 2015, when he averaged 3.8 yards per carry. He last played on Jan. 17, 2016, in a postseason loss to the Carolina Panthers.

The Raiders are in need of a big lead back after Latavius Murray left for the Minnesota Vikings in free agency. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, both 5-foot-8, are entering their second seasons. Lynch is 5-foot-11.

Myles Garrett hopes the Browns take him No. 1 overall in draft

Myles Garrett has one word when he thinks of the possibility of joining the Cleveland Browns as the first pick in the NFL draft.

“Opportunity,” Garrett said Monday during a phone interview as he went through ESPN “car wash” of radio and TV appearances in Bristol, Connecticut.

Garrett knows the Browns have struggled and he’s well aware of their recent records. He sees joining a struggling team as a chance.

“If there’s the opportunity to turn things around, that’s what great players do,” he said. “They don’t complain or become complacent with losing. They just go back to work every day and try to turn things around and make wherever they are a great place to be.”

As for the climate, with wind and snow off Lake Erie, Garrett simply said: “That’s fine with me.”

Garrett, out of Texas A&M, has become the consensus choice for most draft analysts as the draft’s best player, and likely first pick. He and Hue Jackson have shared a private dinner, and Garrett told ESPN The Magazine that Jackson said he’d be happy to draft him.

Jackson last spoke of Garrett at the NFL’s annual meetings in March.

“He’s a tremendous player,” Jackson said. “We all know that. We’re getting to know him, he’s getting to know us and we’ll continue to go along with the process.”

Garrett would not, though, say he expected to be taken by the Browns.

“I hope I will be,” he said.

Garrett opted not to appear on Mike & Mike when he learned that Booger McFarland was the co-host with Mike Greenberg. McFarland was filling in for regular host Mike Golic. McFarland has been critical of Garrett and Texas A&M in the past, saying he hasn’t seen the physical play he’d like to from Garrett.

Marshawn Lynch visits Raiders; source says deal ‘eventually will happen’

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Retired Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch visited his hometown Oakland Raiders on Wednesday, and an NFL source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that a deal between the team and Lynch “eventually will happen.”

Former NFL punter Pat McAfee first reported the meeting for Barstool Sports. The Seahawks, who still retain Lynch’s rights, granted permission for the visit, a source told ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia, confirming multiple reports.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider, asked about the situation during an appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle on Wednesday, confirmed the Seahawks and Raiders have had talks over Lynch.

“I have a great relationship with Reggie McKenzie, who is the general manager of the Raiders. I shared an office with him for probably eight years [with the Green Bay Packers]. We’ve had dialogue about it,” Schneider said.

“Marshawn is trying to figure things out, the Raiders are trying to figure things out. My understanding is that if he would want to come back and play, that it would be for the Raiders and that’d be about it.”

Schneider was in the Packers’ front office when quarterback Brett Favre changed his mind about retirement and was traded to the New York Jets. He said he is leaning on that experience in the Lynch talks.

“You’re talking about guys are highly, highly popular football players in the National Football League,” Schneider said. “As an organization there’s that balance. You have to do the right thing by the organization first and the player second.”

Asked about the process of deciding whether to release Lynch or hold out for trade compensation, Schneider said, “It’s one that will go in a smooth manner because of our relationship.”

Lynch will turn 31 on April 22. He has rushed for 9,112 yards and 74 touchdowns in nine NFL seasons, though injury limited him to seven games in 2015, when he averaged 3.8 yards per carry. He last played on Jan. 17, 2016, in a postseason loss to the Carolina Panthers.

The Raiders are in need of a big lead back after Latavius Murray was allowed to leave for the Minnesota Vikings in free agency. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, both 5-foot-8, are entering their second seasons. Lynch is 5-foot-11.

Should Lynch come out of retirement, he is in line for a salary-cap hit of $9 million in 2017 and a base salary of $7 million in 2018. The Raiders are unlikely to part with draft picks for Lynch in a trade or to take on that salary. Oakland currently has just over $27.6 million in cap space and wants to extend quarterback Derek Carr, edge rusher Khalil Mack and right guard Gabe Jackson.

The Raiders would prefer Lynch is cut by the Seahawks so a new, cheaper contract could be discussed. Plus, they would want to do their due diligence on him to see if Lynch would fit into their system as well as their locker room, hence Wednesday’s visit.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week at the owners meetings that he met with Lynch recently and discussed the idea of returning to the NFL.

“I know that he is somewhat entertaining the thought of it,” Carroll said. “I can’t tell you how strong it is. You’ve got to talk to him.”

Carroll was asked whether Lynch could still be effective.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It depends on how he’s approached this offseason. He looked OK. The mentality that it takes to play this game the way he plays this game, he has to really be invested and ready because he goes deep when he plays. Whether or not that’s still in him, the burn is still there, I couldn’t tell that from talking to him. I know that he was playing with the idea.”