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The last year has featured a great deal of talk about the environment in New England, from the reports of friction between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, to Philadelphia’s Lane Johnson saying that the Patriots live in fear instead of having fun. Former Patriot Nate Solder has offered a more nuanced take.

[McDaniels] told me that if I ever needed to dip out of a meeting because the stress got to be too much, nobody would ask any questions. Coach Belichick told me the same, Solder writes. He said that if I ever needed to miss practice or a meeting, it was totally fine.’Whatever Hudson needs,’ he said. I don’t think I can even put into words how much I appreciated that — both what Bill said and how Josh handled everything. They treated me like a human being instead of a football player or a left tackle.

Solder titled his piece, Thank You, New England.

He cautioned against the drafting of quarterbacks and spoke supportively of the idea that running backs are worth picking early. Here are three dumb things Gettleman said in the press conference exactly a week before the 2018 NFL Draft:

OK… but, yes, they are. Gettleman can believe running backs are still valuable and establishing the run is important, but the fact that teams are spending less at the position is objectively true.

In free agency this offseason, Jerick McKinnon’s four-year, $30 million deal was easily the highest at the position and the only that included more than $10 million in guarantees. Meanwhile, the Vikings dished out a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million deal to Kirk Cousins.

It’s pretty simple: it’s difficult for running backs to get much on the free agency market, because they’re being — drum roll, please — devalued.

Should it be that way? The stats would tell you yes, but I suppose Gettleman can make the argument that having a top running back is transformative. But it’s certainly not a myth that the position is being valued less.

Representatives for Murphy, Sweeney and Coughlin declined to comment. 

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1 / 2 Chiefs, Rams to play in Mexico City on November 19 November 19 will see the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams go head-to-head in an NFL game in Mexico City. The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams will play in Mexico City next season, it was confirmed on Wednesday. The 2018 NFL schedule has not been officially released but the Chiefs announced the November 19 clash, roughly three months after commissioner Roger Goodell said the two teams would play in Mexico during his State of the NFL press conference ahead of Super Bowl LII. 

Over the past two seasons, we have seen the extraordinary passion that exists for NFL football in Mexico, Goodell said in January. We are excited for another memorable event at Estadio Azteca as the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs head to Mexico City in 2018.

It is great to be participating in the NFL’s international games again and working with the league to grow the game abroad. Mexico has one of the largest NFL fan bases in the world and we are excited to bring Rams football to the millions of fans there.

All 10 skaters on the ice received 10-minute misconduct penalties after the five from each team wrestled, punched and jawed at each other. The yelling continued even as players were being separated and shuffled off the ice down the tunnels.

Devils forward Brian Boyle kept shouting at Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev as the two were held back and escorted to their respective benches. Boyle appeared to yell, I’m going to kill you, as they were taken off the ice.

If either make it to the Lions, they would be tough to pass up. And the team benefits from having both players’ college position coaches from last season on Matt Patricia’s defensive staff.

But in the possible scenario where both are gone, or the Lions have an opportunity to select a player higher on their draft board at a different position, there should be options on Day 2.

Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard is the solid, not spectacular all-around option, while Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter is the best athlete in the class — even more so than Davenport — but needs to add weight to his 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame.

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The old-school Jacksonville Jaguars are going to look like they play in 2018.

Not long after, Marshall posted a video on Instagram of him sliding his nameplate off his Giants locker for good.

The move was expected much earlier in the offseason. Gettleman said the Giants released Marshall with a designation of failed physical. Gettleman, asked if he would be interested in free agent receiver Dez Bryant, said: I have interest in everybody. We do our film work, and you never know.

Cutting Marshall clears $5.1 million in salary cap space the Giants will need if they’re going to increase Odell Beckham Jr.’s scheduled $8.4 million 2018 cap hit to $17 million or so on a long-term extension.

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky can see a huge difference after only three days running new coach Matt Nagy’s offense.

There’s more to it than just the system for Trubisky, as the Bears ended their first minicamp under Nagy on Thursday with a greater knowledge of an offense they hope eventually elevates them from the depths of the NFC North.

By now, you know the top four quarterback prospects heading into the 2018 NFL draft. It would be surprising to see any one of Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield available after the top 10 picks at this point. Maybe even the top five. 

Beyond them, the athletic intrigue around Lamar Jackson likely will earn him a first-round selection. Early in Day 2, Mason Rudolph shouldn’t have to wait long to hear his name.

That link makes plenty of sense. Though Tom Brady is still producing his on-field magic after another MVP season in 2017, he’ll turn 41 in August.

The salary-cap reality of paying Jimmy Garoppolo forced the Patriots to trade him in October, leaving them in need of a new long-term succession plan. Lauletta would fit well with them, or a team in a similar situation, after he averaged 8.8 yards per attempt throughout his collegiate career.

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Drew Doughty played more than 27 1/2 minutes in the star defenseman’s return to the Kings’ blue line following a one-game suspension for hitting William Carrier in the series opener. Doughty also had partner Jake Muzzin back by his side after he missed the previous seven games with an upper-body injury.

In that scenario, such a team could easily land on Tanner Lee.

The problems with Lee are obvious. Over his two years at Tulane, he completed just 53.6 percent of his pass attempts and averaged a lowly 5.9 yards per throw.

His accuracy improved in 2017 after his transfer to Nebraska, but not by much. He finished the season with a completion percentage of 57.5 yards, but his poor decision-making led to 16 interceptions.

Lee did post a passer rating of 137.1 against tougher Big Ten competition this past season. And as Pauline reported back in January, teams are still impressed by Lee’s arm strength and overall physical tools—he’s 6’4 and 220 pounds—despite his lack of quality production.

That might be all he needs to find an NFL home without having to go the undrafted-free-agent route.

New York’s Jose Reyes is hitless in 16 at-bats this season after going 0 for 4.

The Browns could also try to work a deal with the Giants, who have the No. 2 overall selection, to gain some draft picks and still get the quarterback they covet. And there’s even been some conversation about the Browns drafting two quarterbacks, which sounds like an overreaction until you remember they haven’t had a franchise passer since returning to Cleveland in 1999.

But whatever happens, at least one quarterback is in the team’s plans, and will almost certainly happen at the top of the draft, right?

Well… here’s the thing: general manager John Dorsey, who was hired last December, presumably to draft a quarterback (something his predecessor, Sashi Brown, never did in the first round), had this to say when asked if running back Saquon Barkley was an option at No. 1.

We finally pushed them back far enough to where our guys could make plays, Schmidt said. That’s what happened in Vegas, and we did it here. We finally pushed them back to where our forwards could do some things.

Captain Anze Kopitar had a late goal and an assist, while Alex Iafallo scored his first career playoff goal in the first period. The Kings still haven’t won a playoff game at Staples Center since they last raised the Stanley Cup in June 2014.

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If Dez Bryant’s workout Thursday included an exercise bike, he probably would’ve driven it straight to East Rutherford.

Bryant posted a video to Instagram of he and  Giants star Odell Beckham training together, which only will further fuel rampant connecting of the dots that the two soon will be teammates.

Bryant and Beckham are close friends, though Giants ownership wants  Beckham to become less of a headache as he matures and Bryant has a reputation of being outspoken with the Cowboys. The pairing might create huge numbers on the field and huge headlines off of it.

The Giants got a hell of a defense, they’re going to pay OBJ, Bryant recently told CBS Sports, via GiantsWire. Playing with him, Sterling (Shepard)… the tight end (Evan Engram), (Eli) Manning? Crazy…. They draft ( Penn State running back Saquan Barkley) ?That’d be crazy!

He left out Marshall. Now we know why.

Beckham  reported for the start of the voluntary part of the Giants’ offseason program but it appears he has left the facility. That is not uncommon and he is not alone.

Similar to Ansah coming out of college, Davenport is an athletic marvel, posting elite measurables at the combine to go with his 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame. Hurst, meanwhile, is considered undersized for his position, but his college production is impossible to ignore. Pro Football Focus has touted him as the draft’s best interior lineman.

To round out a list of five, Jeremiah also put Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan in the mix. Earlier in the call, the analyst praised Bryan’s ability to rush the passer, capable of soundly beating opposing offensive linemen off the snap, but also noting Byran’s need to improve finishing plays.

As for running backs who could help the Lions outside the first round, Brooks highlighted a number of options who could bolster the team’s ability to run with power.

Outside of LeGarrette Blount, they have a lot of guys who are more of the smaller, scat-back types, Brooks said. I’m sure they’d like some size, and if you’re thinking of size in the traditional sense, D.J. talked about Derrius Guice and some of those other guys, but going into the second, maybe third round, (Georgia’s) Nick Chubb being a guy that can do what LeGarrette Blount will probably be asked to do for them.

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Eagles receiver Torrey Smith has said he hopes to remain with the team for 2018. But Smith and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, are bracing for the possibility of the Eagles choosing not to continue the relationship.

Rosenhaus explained during a Friday visit to PFT Live that Smith could indeed be released by the Eagles, who hold an option on the next two years of Smith’s contract. Due to pay Smith a $5 million salary in 2018, the Eagles could decide to cut the cord and find a cheaper replacement.

As for outfielder Clint Frazier, the redhead slowly but surely has the Yankees thinking that he’s finally recovering from a concussion that occurred when he crashed into the left-field wall during a Feb. 24 game in Bradenton against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Frazier, who was 1-for-4 playing only the Yankees’ first two spring games, has progressed to the point where he’s hitting baseballs off a tee and off underhand tosses, but there’s still on concrete plan on when he’s been cleared to play.

Frazier for sure will start the season on the disabled list, then he’ll be optioned to Triple-A when he’s healthy.

Ellsbury is close to a lock also to be on the 10-day DL when the Yankees open the regular season next Thursday in Toronto unless he can convince them that he’s ready before final cuts, which manager Aaron Boone predicts will occur after Saturday’s split-squad games.

That’s a pretty bold statement from Ryan Flaherty, Allen said Friday. He’s not too far off, but 90’s a tough task. I don’t hope on throwing that. We’ll keep my arm a little under that.

No one questions Allen’s arm strength. They do question his completion percentage.

Allen completed only 56 percent of his passes in 2016 and 56.3 percent in 2017, ending with a career completion percentage of 56.2.

Obviously, I’m going to come out and throw tomorrow and hopefully I get to have a good showing at pro day; I plan on it, Allen said. Hopefully that kind of eliminates some of the questions. But without live bullets and live action coming at you, we’re not going to find that out until game-time situations, whether that be in minicamp or any of those events leading up to the season. But I’m extremely confident in myself, and we’re working on it, and there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll figure it out.Quinton Flowers willing to switch positions but wants shot to play QB

South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers will participate in running back and punt return drills. But he wants a chance to be an NFL quarterback.

I just want a shot first at quarterback, Flowers said.

Flowers finished with 42 school records, leading USF to a 21-4 record over his final two seasons. But Flowers measured only 5-10 3/8, considered too short for an NFL quarterback. He heard the same thing in high school.

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AJ McCarron’s first dip into the free-agency waters has not gone exactly as planned.

While there are worse places to land besides Brady’s backyard, for McCarron, it appears his dreams of becoming an NFL starter have been dashed yet again.

Despite potential setbacks, McCarron’s wife, model Katherine Webb, has made it clear her spouse is ready to embrace a starting role.

AJ likes to not always go with the crowd, and do or say the most popular things. Such as expressing gratitude when we almost were traded to Cleveland,Webb penned on Instagram in February. Competitiveness and leadership lives deep down in his soul, so he would have loved nothing more than the opportunity to try and help change an organization around and get them a win, while showing his talent. No matter if it was the Browns or somewhere else.

I can’t wait for him to get his chance to show the world his talent and his leadership,she continued. He was born for this. Any organization would be lucky to get this man and I truly feel this way. These past 4 years weren’t a waste at all. It was undeniably meant to happen this way so that he could be prepared for the next chapter. Looking forward to what God has planned next!

Once signed, Landry will be under contract for 2018, at a salary that is expected to be in the range of $16.2 million (it could be higher). That amount will count against the Miami salary cap for 2018, and the team will no longer be able to rescind it.

Signing the tender is required before Landry can be traded. It remains to be seen whether anyone wants to give the Dolphins value for Landry, or whether any team wants to acquire him at a steep one-year salary or a long-term deal with the franchise tender as the starting point.

The signing of Norman after the Panthers released him from a franchise tag was seen as a coup for Washington, but it hasn’t worked out that way. The D.C. pass rush has ranked third in pressure rate and eighth in sack rate over the past two years, but it was 24th in pass defense DVOA in 2016 before improving to sixth last season. Norman had four interceptions and two pick-sixes during his breakout season in Carolina, but he has just three picks in 30 games since arriving in Washington. Norman has been good, but the 30-year-old hasn’t been the transformative player Scot McCloughan was hoping to add to his secondary at the time.

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The Bears are expected to be in the market for wide receivers when free agency opens next week and they’ll hope to find the kind of success with those choices that they’ve missed from Kevin White.

Asked to identify the areas he’s looking to improve this offseason, Lewis pinpointed three:

I need to improve on leadership,” Lewis said. I was pretty laid back last year, especially when I played. The Michigan State game I wasn’t taking control of the offense like I should have. I still gotta work on my patience. 1, 2, 3 (seconds) I’m out (running). I just gotta work on my patience, stay in the pocket and get the ball off. And also I have to work on my accuracy.”

The latter area may be the biggest hurdle keeping him from winning a wide-open quarterback competition that also includes fifth-year senior Giovanni Rescigno and walk-ons Tom Flacco and Rob Nittolo.

In his most meaningful action of the season, Lewis completed just nine of his 34 passes (34.6 percent) in losses to Indiana and Michigan State to end a 4-8 campaign.

Considering the average completion percentage for the top-10 passers in the Big Ten last season was 60.6 percent, Lewis knows he’ll need to improve on his 36.8-percent accuracy.

To that end, Lewis is punishing himself every time one of his passes is off the mark this spring.

The Steelers are near the bottom of the NFL in available salary cap space, but they’ve made a move that will help.

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown revealed today that he has restructured his contract. Brown posted a video of agent Drew Rosenhaus saying that the restructure will guarantee Brown’s pay this year but push some of the cap hit to future years to give the Steelers more cap space this year.

Brown is the highest-paid receiver in the NFL, and highly paid players often agree to restructure their deals to create more cap space while not actually reducing the amount of money the player receives that year.

The Steelers still don’t have a lot of cap space and aren’t likely to be major players in free agency, but the Brown deal at least gives them some wiggle room to get below the salary cap.

Via ESPN.com, Thomas said at an event on Tuesday night that he’ll announce whether he’ll be continuing his career or retiring by the time free agency begins.

It’s kind of like picking a college, Thomas said. One day you think it’s this school, the next it’s another.

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Then there were four. Eventually there will be one. And one of the four thinks the one will be the Vikings.

Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reports that the Jets are taking the Minnesota threat seriously after some informal, preliminary talks with his camp this week.

Yes, informal, preliminary talks technically are prohibited. But they happen, every year involving every team. Any team that isn’t doing it has put itself at a competitive disadvantage. So if the Jets have had informal, preliminary talks with the Cousins camp, the Vikings have, too, and the planets are starting to align as to the quarterback’s future.

The Jets, per Vacchiano, have heard enough to move on to Plans B and C and, if possibly D at quarterback. Although the Jets believe, per Vacchiano, that they can offer more money and a better structure to Cousins, the Jets fear that Cousins would take less to go to Minnesota for a better chance to win.

In a Super Bowl week visit to PFT Live, Cousins spoke about the balance between taking less to win and getting full and fair franchise quarterback compensation.

The Vikings continue to be the ultimate wild card in the coming quarterback chase. With three of their own unrestricted free agents on the roster and multiple other options elsewhere (Cousins, A.J. McCarron, and theoretically Drew Brees), the Vikings have plenty of choices. The problem is that they eventually choose one, at the exclusion of all others.

Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman recently joined PFT Live to discuss the situation. Watch the interview and search for clues. For example, when Spielman says they plan to make a decision by March 14, does that mean they’re leaning toward re-signing one of their own? Or would they do a Brock Osweiler-style sight-unseen deal with someone they don’t know?

Spielman regards the situation as more blessing than curse, but there could be plenty of cursing if they pick the wrong guy and if the guys they don’t pick end up thriving elsewhere.

Would Combine workouts ever move to prime time?

With Scouting Combine workouts beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET on Sunday morning, at a time when many of you (especially our friends in California) are still sleeping, here’s a question that you may be pondering, because the NFL already has: Could the workouts be moved to prime time?

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Teddy Bridgewater is taking much more of a gamble on himself than the Jets are taking on him. The 25-year old quarterback, with plenty to prove, is fine with that.

So, Bridgewater must deal with McCown and the young quarterback stud the Jets take in the draft.

There was never any doubt in my mind that I would ever get to that point again, Bridgewater said. When I first stepped out on that field, for the first time last year, it was a great feeling to just know that everything, all the hard work I put in, all the time and dedication that everyone who was involved in me overcoming what I overcame put in, it was just a great feeling, it was very rewarding to not only myself but to everyone who was involved in everything I went through.

About coming to the Jets, Bridgewater said, I’m very confident in myself, confident in the athletic training staff and the coaching staff here that they can get me back to the player that I once was.

There is plenty for Bridgewater to overcome as he tries to convince the Jets, or another team, he is eventually worthy of a long-term commitment.

The crazy part about that is it isn’t about proving to the people that counted you out or doubted you, he said. It’s about proving to the people who believed in you, showing them that hey, your prayers, your belief, it all paid off.

My confidence level is going to say I’m the best player, Chubb said Saturday. I feel like I put it on tape in four years. Just putting on tape good film, and I feel like I’m the best player. I’m not going to say one player is better than me. Saquon Barkley put up ridiculous numbers in the past couple of days. Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, just all the quarterbacks you’re hearing about. A lot of great players. I just feel like I’m up there at the top.

Chubb doesn’t care who drafts him, but he has seen the Colts as the early favorite to draft him. Chubb already has met with the Colts informally and has his formal interview with them tonight.

He knows new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is switching the Colts back to the 4-3, and Chubb has studied tape of Dwight Freeney.

A lot of people have been saying I’m going to the Colts, but you never know, Chubb said. If that happens, I’ll be happy, of course, to be drafted to such a great city. So I’m just looking forward to it.

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