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  • Bears trade up to No. 2, select QB Trubisky
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    The Chicago Bears made a trade with the San Francisco 49ers to move up to the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday, and with that selection, they took North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

    • San Francisco moved down just one spot to the No. 3 overall pick, and also landed the No. 67 and No. 111 pick from the Bears in this year's draft as well as a 2018 third-round pick.

      There were reports that Cleveland might take Trubisky with the No. 1 overall selection, but the Browns made the expected move by taking defensive lineman Myles Garrett of Texas A&M.

      The Bears signed Mike Glennon earlier in the offseason, and he was expected to be the starter next season. That could change now, though.

      Trubisky made an impression on pro scouts despite being a starter for just one season. He completed 68 percent of his passes and has good size (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) and athleticism.

      The Bears released Jay Cutler last month.

      With the third overall pick, the 49ers selected Stanford defensive tackle Solomon Thomas.

      NFLDraftScout.com rated Garrett the top overall prospect in the draft, with Thomas No. 2 and Trubisky No. 11.

  • Browns take DL Garrett first; three QBs go quickly
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett was the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday, giving the Cleveland Browns an anchor on defense while not addressing the long-standing vacancy for a franchise quarterback.

    • "I want to be the best," Garrett said from Arlington, Texas, where he was celebrating with family and friends. "The only thing holding me back is me."

      Cleveland selected Garrett with the first of 11 picks the Browns held entering the draft, a bounty bolstered in part by dealing the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft to the Philadelphia Eagles.

      For only the sixth time since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, the No. 1 pick was not a quarterback.

      Garrett did not attend the draft, which was held in Philadelphia.

      With Garrett gone, the 49ers found a trade partner in the Chicago Bears. San Francisco scored a bounty of picks to slide from No. 2 to No. 3, with the Bears jumping one spot to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the first of three quarterbacks acquired via trade in the first 12 picks.

      The Bears spent $45 million to sign free agent quarterback Mike Glennon in March, and then they surrendered a huge bounty to the 49ers on Thursday: third-round picks in 2017 and 2018 plus their fourth-round pick in this draft.

      Giving up a future first-round pick wasn't too rich for the Kansas City Chiefs or Houston Texans to move up and draft quarterbacks of the future.

      The Chiefs jumped to No. 10 for Patrick Mahomes II (Texas Tech), and Deshaun Watson (Clemson) landed with the Texans at No. 12.

      Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas went to the 49ers at No. 3, and LSU running back Leonard Fournette went fourth to the Jacksonville Jaguars, two picks before his Tigers teammate, safety Jamal Adams, was called by the New York Jets, and four picks before the Carolina Panthers drafted Stanford junior running back Christian McCaffrey with the eight overall selection.

      Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis was a surprise pick at No. 5 to the Tennessee Titans, and Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams went to the Los Angeles Chargers seventh.

      A consistent, hyper-productive wide receiver in the Mid-American Conference, Davis is the all-time leading receiver in FBS history.

      Williams, who is 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. He recovered from a fractured vertebra in his neck in 2015 but returned to star as quarterback Deshaun Watson's go-to guy. He will now serve as Philip Rivers' chief outlet in Los Angeles.

      University of Washington wide receiver John Ross overcame doubts about his durability to attract the Cincinnati Bengals with the ninth pick.

      At 6-4, 272, Garrett had a 4.64 40-yard dash (1.57 in the first 10 yards), a 41-inch vertical and 10-7 broad jump. The defensive end has been the presumptive No. 1 pick for months, even with the Browns leading a gaggle of teams in the top 10 with uncertainty at quarterback.

      For all the clamoring for a quarterback, the Browns need difference-makers, and Garrett projects as a Pro Bowl-caliber pass rusher. The Browns registered 26 sacks last season (31st) and were also next to last in total defense before hiring Gregg Williams to fix that unit.

      NOTES: New York Jets first-round pick Jamal Adams' father, George, was a first-round pick in 1985 (19th overall, N.Y. Giants). ... No. 8 pick Christian McCaffrey is the son of former Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey. ... No. 2 pick Mitchell Trubisky is the first quarterback to be selected by the Chicago Bears in the first round since Rex Grossman (22nd, 2003).

  • NFL notebook: Browns decide on DE Garrett as top pick
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    The Cleveland Browns will select Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday's NFL Draft, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported a few hours before the draft began.

    • The Plain Dealer based its report on league sources.

      Garrett has been the expected top pick for some time, but earlier Thursday, there were reports that the Browns might pull a surprise and take North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the No. 1 pick.

      The Plain Dealer reported that the Browns, who also have the No. 12 pick in the first round, are looking to trade up to get Trubisky as well.

      --Morgan Moses agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Washington Redskins that will make the former third-round pick one of the highest-paid right tackles in the NFL.

      Moses, a 2014 draft pick out of West Virginia, could average more than $10 million per year on his new contract, which would rate behind only Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles among right tackles. Johnson makes $11.252 million per year, ahead of Detroit Lions right tackle Ricky Wagner ($9.5 million) and Bryan Bulaga of the Green Bay Packers ($6.75 million).

      The 6-foot-6, 335-pound Moses was the 66th overall pick in the 2014 draft. Moses started every game (32) in his first two seasons with the Redskins.

      --The Green Bay Packers bolstered their offensive line by signing six-time Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans to a one-year contract.

      Financial terms were not disclosed on the deal.

      Evans, an unrestricted free agent, started all 16 games for New Orleans last season and 169 contests in all since being picked by the Saints in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft.

      Evans was released after playing 10 seasons with New Orleans in February 2016 and participated in training camp with the Seattle Seahawks before being cut in early September. The 33-year-old Evans rejoined the Saints, but sent out a farewell tweet in the offseason after the club signed Larry Warford to a four-year, $34 million deal.

  • Report: Browns plan to pick DE Garrett No. 1 overall
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    The Cleveland Browns will select Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday's NFL Draft, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported a few hours before the draft began.

    • The Plain Dealer based its report on league sources.

      Garrett has been the expected top pick for some time, but earlier Thursday, there were reports that the Browns might pull a surprise and take North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the No. 1 pick.

      "I have got very smart, very well-connected people telling me over the last 24 hours that they think Trubisky's going to be the No. 1 pick," ESPN's Adam Schefter said Wednesday.

      The Plain Dealer reported that the Browns, who also have the No. 12 pick in the first round, are looking to trade up to get Trubisky as well.

      The Browns also have the No. 33 and No. 52 overall picks.

  • Redskins make Moses one of highest-paid right tackles
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    Morgan Moses agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Washington Redskins that will make the former third-round pick one of the highest-paid right tackles in the NFL.

    • Moses, a 2014 draft pick out of West Virginia, could average more than $10 million per year on his new contract, which would rate behind only Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles among right tackles. Johnson makes $11.252 million per year, ahead of Detroit Lions right tackle Ricky Wagner ($9.5 million) and Bryan Bulaga of the Green Bay Packers ($6.75 million).

      The 6-foot-6, 335-pound Moses was the 66th overall pick in the 2014 draft. Moses started every game (32) in his first two seasons with the Redskins.

      Washington also signed free agent offensive lineman Quinton Schooley on Thursday.

  • Packers sign six-time Pro Bowl G Evans to deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    The Green Bay Packers bolstered their offensive line by signing six-time Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans to a one-year contract.

    • Financial terms were not disclosed on the deal, which was announced Wednesday.

      Evans, an unrestricted free agent, started all 16 games for New Orleans last season and 169 contests in all since being picked by the Saints in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft.

      Evans was released after playing 10 seasons with New Orleans in February 2016 and participated in training camp with the Seattle Seahawks before being cut in early September. The 33-year-old Evans rejoined the Saints, but sent out a farewell tweet in the offseason after the club signed Larry Warford to a four-year, $34 million deal.

      Green Bay found itself with a glaring hole on its offensive line after Pro Bowl selection T.J. Lang left via free agency for the Detroit Lions. The Packers elected not to match the three-year, $28.5 million deal that Lang signed with the Lions.

      Evans likely will step into the spot, although Green Bay still has Don Barclay and second-year pros Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy and Lucas Patrick on its roster.

  • 2017 NFL Draft: An exercise in character study
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    As if evaluating prospects for pro football isn't tricky enough, the NFL's intense focus on social science is adding a pervasive layer of difficult consideration for scouts, general managers and owners as they prepare for the 2017 draft that begins Thursday at 8 p.m. (ET) in Philadelphia.

    • It is a logical extension of commissioner Roger Goodell's increased actions and reactions to players' involvements -- or even accusations of involvement -- in activities that are unacceptable in society and, it seems, even less acceptable in the NFL.

      Such issues -- violence, drugs, breaking the law -- have always been a concern, of course. No team wants to waste a draft pick on a prospect that might be unavailable for any number of reasons, including potential suspensions, or worse. But the 2017 draft is already impacted by more of these considerations than ever before.

      While there is no diminishing the importance of such matters, the constant chatter about such things sometimes seems to overwhelm aspects of the sport that made it the most popular in the U.S. The unfiltered contribution of social media seems to accentuate the negative. Even the Hall of Fame selection committee seems to dwell unduly on negatives, such as in the case of Terrell Owens.

      So, it should be no surprise that the draft itself should be impacted.

      That was first obvious at the Indianapolis combine, which did not invite at least four players due to off-field concerns and sent one home from Indy due to erratic behavior during a medical exam. In all, according to ratings by NFLDraftScout.com, at least eight of the top 100 players are under such close scrutiny heading into the draft and six may have first-round potential.

      So never mind the annual brain drain centered around quarterbacks -- whose ratings this year are tantamount to a blind-folded, dart-throwing exercise -- the NFL's blotter of players with potential character issues will be a major factor in this draft, and possibly critical to how the first round plays out.

      The NFL's 2017 draft blotter:

      --Reuben Foster, linebacker, Alabama. Rated as the draft's best inside linebacker with top-10 potential, Foster is the one who freaked at the combine medical test and was sent home. It was later revealed that his drug test was diluted -- tantamount to a failure -- and he explained he needed extra water to hydrate.

      --Gareon Conley, cornerback, Ohio State. Rated a late first-round pick. Accused this week of a rape in April. He sent a letter to all teams vehemently denying accusation and left the Philadelphia draft gathering Tuesday to see investigators next Monday.

      --Joe Mixon, running back, Oklahoma. Rated all over the top 100, with some putting him near the top of the best in a class of running backs in recent drafts. Before his freshman season, the day after his 18th birthday, Mixon hit a female, causing serious injury, and it was caught on videotape. He was charged with misdemeanor assault. He was not invited to the combine, but numerous teams protested and he visited many for workouts.

      --Jabrill Peppers, safety, Michigan. Rated to be taken in the middle 20s overall, Peppers did not pass his drug test at the combine because his urine sample was diluted -- too much water. On one hand, players often dilute their sample to mask the presence of a drug. On the other, Peppers is a hybrid defender who worked out as a defensive back and a linebacker and certainly might have needed to hydrate a lot. He otherwise has no history of failing a drug test.

      --Garett Bolles, offensive lineman, Utah. Rated by NFLDraftScout.com's Dane Brugler as the second-best tackle prospect, Bolles had a checkered youth that included trouble with the law and being kicked out by his father. He is 24, did not do well in academic tests and some scouts marked him as a reject despite his athleticism. To me, Bolles overcame self-inflicted problems as a teen, managed to get into college and show athleticism and a nasty streak as a tackle, but may not be able to handle that position in the NFL. So, move him to defense and turn him loose.

      --Cam Robinson, offensive tackle, Alabama. A first-round prospect some list as the best tackle in the draft. Last June, Robinson was arrested and charged with felony possession of stolen firearms and misdemeanor possession of narcotics in West Monroe, La. The district attorney, Jerry Jones (no, not that Jerry Jones!) chose not to prosecute, saying, "I refuse to ruin the lives of two young men who have spent their adolescence and their teenage years working and sweating while we were all home in the air conditioning." Goodell would not have been so forgiving.

      --Caleb Brantley, defensive tackle, Florida. Rated as high as a second-round prospect. He is facing a misdemeanor battery charge from an altercation with a woman on April 13 that ended with Brantley allegedly knocking the woman unconscious.

      It seems the draft can't get here fast enough. Conley's pre-draft accusation is reminiscent of that of La'el Collins in 2015. A projected first rounder, he was only on the periphery of an incident when his ex-girlfriend was murdered just before the draft. Although Collins was never considered a suspect, he was considered too hot to handle on draft day and was not selected. The Cowboys signed him as a free agent.

      Last year, offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil was projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Mere hours before the draft began, a video surfaced on social media of Tunsil smoking marijuana in a gas mask. He slid to No. 13 where the Miami Dolphins stole him. Turns out the video was years old, but popped up with no time to explain.

      While some of this may seem petty, the whole focus on off-field character concerns has changed scouting. Several NFL regional scouts told NFLDraftScout.com that they previously spent 30 to 40 percent of their time researching a prospect's character. Now they report spending up to 70 percent on character and "too little" time evaluating them as players.

      Against that background, the draft begins Thursday with character issues impacting the procedures more than ever before. Every time one player slides due to an off-field issue, another moves up. All this makes predicting the 2017 draft somewhat of a crap shoot.

      Regardless, certain things are obvious.

      There is no consensus on the best quarterback or if any of them deserve to be selected No. 1 overall or even in the top 10. While 12 teams list quarterback as a top-three need -- especially Houston and Cleveland -- none named a specific prospect as a "Best Fit." The latest trend has North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky as the best of the top five.

      According to NFLDraftscout.com, this draft is rich in defensive backs, with 25 among the top 100, including 16 cornerbacks. Safety Jamal Adams, a versatile strong safety/linebacker from LSU is the top-rated defensive back (No. 3 overall) with Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore next at No. 4.

      Pass rushers are the next richest area, with 17 among the top 100, including the highest two rated players in the draft, defensive ends Myles Garrett of Texas A&M and Solomon Thomas of Stanford.

      Overall, there is excellent talent in this draft through the fourth round and maybe beyond. But quarterbacks are always the focus, so don't be surprised if one is drafted too high, even with a top-five pick.

      As long as he stays out of trouble before his name is called.

      Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

  • NFL notebook: RB Lynch to join Raiders
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Marshawn Lynch is coming out of retirement after the Seattle Seahawks traded the running back to his hometown Oakland Raiders on Wednesday.

    • Lynch and the Raiders agreed to a two-year contract and he was at Oakland's training facility to take a physical.

      The trade became official Wednesday afternoon when the Raiders announced they will receive Lynch and a sixth-round draft choice in 2018 in exchange for Oakland's fifth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.

      After weeks of negotiations, Oakland agreed to pay Lynch a $3 million base salary, with a chance to make $2 million more if he gains 1,000 yards, according to NFL Network. The maximum value of the contract is $8.5 million.

      Lynch took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to confirm his return to the NFL.

      "It's time," he wrote in a tweet that also included a screenshot of a message. "Yes Lawd 12th man I'm thankful but (expletive) just got REAL. I had hella fun in Seattle ... But I'm really from Oakland doe like really really really from Oakland doe ... town bizzness breath on me."

      Lynch arrived in Oakland after returning from a trip to Haiti, where he and former Seahawks teammates Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett have been touring to help build schools and houses, according to NFL Network.

      Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie last week set a deadline by the NFL Draft, which gets underway Thursday in Philadelphia.

      --Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas says he is experiencing memory loss and that "most of the damage has probably been done already" after 10 seasons in the NFL.

      In an interview on "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" that was released, the 32-year-old Thomas said he did not know for sure whether playing in the NFL has caused the problem.

      "I definitely expect memory loss," Thomas said. "I'm already seeing memory loss and maybe that's just because of my old age or maybe it's football, it's hard to tell.

      "I mean, there's no double blind studies when it comes to people's life. It's just a part, I think, of sometimes getting older. And it's hard to tell it's because of football or because you're 32 and you're not 21 anymore and you have a lot of stuff going in your life."

      Bensinger asked Thomas what kind of memory loss he was experiencing.

      "Short term memory loss -- hard times remembering, like things that have happened recently," Thomas said. "Like you walk to the grocery store and you're like, 'Huh, I can't remember what I needed to get.'

      "Just little stuff like that, and I think if you let it really bug you, I think it can make you depressed and feel sad. Like, 'Wow I don't have the memory I used to have.' But, you know, I try to be relatively good-natured about it at this point."

      Thomas, who is entering his 11th season with the Browns, has not missed a game -- starting all 160 in his NFL career -- since being drafted third overall in 2007 out of Wisconsin.

      --Rape accusations levied by a 23-year-old Ohio woman are "completely false," Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley said.

      Conley, ranked No. 22 overall and second among cornerback prospects by NFLDraftScout.com in the 2017 draft, has not been charged or arrested by police but investigators Wednesday said they were in the process of arranging an interview in conjunction with the assault claim.

      "I pride myself on doing things the right way," Conley said in a statement to ESPN. "The things being said about me and what happened that night are not true and don't fit my character at all. I realize that I put myself in the situation and I could have used better judgment. However, I have worked tirelessly to put myself in position to have the honor of being and NFL draft pick and these untrue allegations are putting a huge cloud over my name and the NFL draft."

      Conley decided not to attend the event in person Thursday in Philadelphia when the story broke in Ohio just two days before the first round begins.

      Three witnesses -- two of whom claim to have no affiliation with Conley -- told police Conley was never alone with a woman who claims she was raped at the Westin Downtown in Cleveland earlier this month after declining an invitation for group sex.

      --The Minnesota Vikings are not expected to pick up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's fifth-year option for the 2018 season.

      Minnesota has until the May 2 deadline to decide on the option of Bridgewater's rookie contract

      The Vikings could still re-sign Bridgewater but they do not appear willing to guarantee his 2018 salary for at least $11 million for injury, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported

      Bridgewater, who dislocated his left knee and tore the ACL during a late August practice, is rehabbing and trying to make it back from the catastrophic injury.

      Bridgewater, the Vikings' 2014 first-round pick, missed all of the 2016 season. The 24-year-old quarterback was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 when he passed for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

      --The Arizona Cardinals picked up linebacker Deone Bucannon's fifth-year option for the 2018 season, according to multiple reports.

      Bucannon, the 27th overall draft pick in 2014 out of Washington State, will receive $8.7 million in the last year of his rookie contract, with the salary being guaranteed for injury. He is due $1.47 million in salary and roster bonuses in 2017.

      Bucannon, who entered the league as a safety, missed the last three games last season with a lingering ankle injury.

      Bucannon played in 13 games (all starts) in 2016 before landing on injured reserve, making 91 tackles and one fumble recovery. In his three-year career, he has 284 total tackles, five sacks, nine pass breakups, four fumble recoveries and an interception, which he returned for a touchdown.

  • Browns' Thomas: 'I'm already seeing memory loss'
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas says he is experiencing memory loss and that "most of the damage has probably been done already" after 10 seasons in the NFL.

    • In an interview on "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" that was released Wednesday, the 32-year-old Thomas said he did not know for sure whether playing in the NFL has caused the problem.

      "I definitely expect memory loss," Thomas said. "I'm already seeing memory loss and maybe that's just because of my old age or maybe it's football, it's hard to tell.

      "I mean, there's no double blind studies when it comes to people's life. It's just a part, I think, of sometimes getting older. And it's hard to tell it's because of football or because you're 32 and you're not 21 anymore and you have a lot of stuff going in your life."

      Bensinger asked Thomas what kind of memory loss he was experiencing.

      "Short term memory loss -- hard times remembering, like things that have happened recently," Thomas said. "Like you walk to the grocery store and you're like, 'Huh, I can't remember what I needed to get.'

      "Just little stuff like that, and I think if you let it really bug you, I think it can make you depressed and feel sad. Like, 'Wow I don't have the memory I used to have.' But, you know, I try to be relatively good-natured about it at this point."

      Thomas, who is entering his 11th season with the Browns, has not missed a game -- starting all 160 in his NFL career -- since being drafted third overall in 2007 out of Wisconsin.

      Thomas said he understands the risks of playing in the NFL.

      "There's definitely a concern," Thomas said. "But the way I look at it is just about every profession in our society, there's some lasting effects. It's just the way that our society is set up. People have to work. If I was a stone mason or if I was a painter or building bridges or whatever, there's going to be some wear and tear on your body and your brain. And that's just the way it is.

      "To be able to live the lifestyle and provide for my family the way that football has been able to do, to me it's a trade-off that I'm willing to accept."

      Thomas admitted his concerns of the links to brain injuries, naming Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease.

      "You look at guys with significant Alzheimers and dementia and the mood swings and the suicides that unfortunately NFL players have been faced with," Thomas said. "And depression. Lou Gehrig's disease. These are all things that have kind of been linked to the brain damage from football.

      "Those are obviously scary and frightening things, but I think from my perspective, I can't do anything about it. This was the profession that I have already chosen and most of the damage has probably been done already. So what are the things that I can do to try to minimize my chances of having those negative effects down the line and then do everything I possibly can. Then I can't worry about it. I have to accept it.

      "But I do hope that medicine continues to improve and, in 10 years maybe, they'll be able to fix my body better than they did for the poor guys who are crippled up from playing in the NFL in the '60s and the '70s."

  • First-round prospect Conley denies rape
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Rape accusations levied by a 23-year-old Ohio woman are "completely false," Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley said Wednesday.

    • Conley, ranked No. 22 overall and second among cornerback prospects by NFLDraftScout.com in the 2017 draft, has not been charged or arrested by police but investigators Wednesday said they were in the process of arranging an interview in conjunction with the assault claim.

      "I pride myself on doing things the right way," Conley said in a statement to ESPN. "The things being said about me and what happened that night are not true and don't fit my character at all. I realize that I put myself in the situation and I could have used better judgment. However, I have worked tirelessly to put myself in position to have the honor of being and NFL draft pick and these untrue allegations are putting a huge cloud over my name and the NFL draft."

      Conley decided not to attend the event in person Thursday in Philadelphia when the story broke in Ohio just two days before the first round begins.

      Three witnesses -- two of whom claim to have no affiliation with Conley -- told police Conley was never alone with a woman who claims she was raped at the Westin Downtown in Cleveland earlier this month after declining an invitation for group sex.

  • Cardinals pick up fifth-year option on LB Bucannon
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    The Arizona Cardinals picked up linebacker Deone Bucannon's fifth-year option for the 2018 season, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

    • Bucannon, the 27th overall draft pick in 2014 out of Washington State, will receive $8.7 million in the last year of his rookie contract, with the salary being guaranteed for injury. He is due $1.47 million in salary and roster bonuses in 2017.

      Bucannon, who entered the league as a safety, missed the last three games last season with a lingering ankle injury.

      Bucannon played in 13 games (all starts) in 2016 before landing on injured reserve, making 91 tackles and one fumble recovery. In his three-year career, he has 284 total tackles, five sacks, nine pass breakups, four fumble recoveries and an interception, which he returned for a touchdown.

  • Vikings unlikely to pick up Bridgewater's fifth-year option
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    The Minnesota Vikings are not expected to pick up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's fifth-year option for the 2018 season.

    • Minnesota has until the May 2 deadline to decide on the option of Bridgewater's rookie contract

      The Vikings could still re-sign Bridgewater but they do not appear willing to guarantee his 2018 salary for at least $11 million for injury, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday.

      Bridgewater, who dislocated his left knee and tore the ACL during a late August practice, is rehabbing and trying to make it back from the catastrophic injury.

      Bridgewater, the Vikings' 2014 first-round pick, missed all of the 2016 season. The 24-year-old quarterback was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 when he passed for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

      After his injury, Minnesota acquired Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2016, Bradford established an NFL single-season record for completion percentage (71.6) while passing for 3,877 yards and 20 touchdowns against just five interceptions.

      Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said there is still no timeline for Bridgewater to resume a full workload of football activities.

      "He's been in here working as hard as anyone, fighting his way back," Spielman said Tuesday of Bridgewater. "I wouldn't put it past that kid how quickly he can come back. But it's still unknown. You know, Bradford was here the very first day and leading the group, and we are very fortunate to have both of those players at that position on our roster right now."

  • Defense defines 2017 NFL Draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    A few years from now, the 2017 NFL Draft might be summed up in a single word: defense.

    • Defensive linemen and defensive backs dominate the NFLDraftScout.com top 50, starting at the top with defensive linemen Myles Garrett (Texas A&M), Jonathan Allen (Alabama) and Solomon Thomas (Stanford). Twenty-five of the top 40 players in the draft are defenders, per NFLDraftScout, including possible two-way star Adoree' Jackson, a USC cornerback with experience as a wide receiver.

      The Cleveland Browns own the top pick Thursday when the seven-round draft opens in Philadelphia, the first of 11 selections for a franchise closing out a second decade of searching for a stable starting quarterback.

      For only the sixth time since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, the No. 1 pick is not expected to be a quarterback.

      Garrett bears some physical similarities to 2014 No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. At 6-4, 272, Garrett had a 4.64 40-yard dash (1.57 in the first 10 yards), a 41-inch vertical and 10-7 broad jump. The defensive end has been the presumptive No. 1 pick for months, even with the Browns leading a gaggle of teams in the top 10 with uncertainty at quarterback.

      "We spent a lot of time with him," Browns vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said. "We learned a lot about what makes him tick, what motivates him, how he spends his downtime, how he spends his time with his teammates. He's an enjoyable young man ... bright, competitive. Whatever team gets him, particularly if it's us, would be proud to have him."

      Clamoring for a quarterback in Cleveland is nothing new, although an argument could be made the need for a game-changing defensive end should also be a priority. The Browns registered 26 sacks last season (31st) and were also next-to-last in total defense.

      Cleveland, which parted with Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown in the offseason, traded the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft to the Philadelphia Eagles (Carson Wentz). Now the Browns are a candidate to make a move Thursday -- up from the No. 12 pick acquired via the Philly trade -- in an attempt to finally settle the QB spot without passing on Garrett.

      North Carolina junior Mitchell Trubisky started only 13 games for the Tar Heels and is viewed as a future starter, but a limited sample size relative to Clemson's Deshaun Watson creates pause.

      "Development potential is there," said Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. "The question is 'Why wasn't all that talent starting for the last three years?' That's always bugging me. So you have to go and answer those questions with him, with his coach, but the physical talent is there."

      Watson, a two-time high school player of the year in talent-rich Georgia, carried Clemson to the national championship in January and a runner-up finish to Alabama in January 2016. How his skills translate to a pro-style offense creates some consternation within scouting departments concerned -- particularly 30 interceptions in his past 30 games.

      Wildcards at quarterback include Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes, a gunslinger whose video-game stats came in a run-and-shoot offense, Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer and Cal's Davis Webb, who transferred from Texas Tech rather than sit behind Mahomes.

      The general uncertainty and polarizing prospects at the NFL's most important position could lead to unexpected picks and added trade movement Thursday.

      The 49ers (No. 2), Bears (No. 3), Jaguars (4), Jets (6), Bills (10), Browns (12), and Cardinals (13) all have been tied to quarterbacks.

      Moving up in the first round is costly. The Eagles sent the No. 8 pick along with four other picks -- a third and a fourth in 2016, a first-round selection in '17 (No. 12) and a second-round pick in 2018 -- to rise six spots and take Wentz at No. 2.

      But defensive players, including LSU safety Jamal Adams and Ohio State defensive backs Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker, are rated ahead of most quarterbacks by NFLDraftScout.com. If general managers get their way and follow the best player available strategy, quarterbacks could be in for a considerable wait.

      Then again, coaches could lobby for the quarterback, as was the case with the Eagles and Wentz last April

      "You can be in a situation where every quarterback in the draft is still there at 13 or there could be three or four gone. You really can't tell," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. "You just have to be prepared and trust your board, which is one thing that we have done and I think we have done a good job of it."

      The resurgence of running backs is likely to continue.

      LSU's Leonard Fournette is compared to vintage Adrian Peterson with size, power and explosiveness and Stanford dynamo Christian McCaffrey, the son of former Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, has a gear for every job and even excelled when motioned out to slot receiver. Fournette, even at 230 pounds, is not one-dimensional and should benefit by proxy after Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing with the Dallas Cowboys. Elliott was selected fourth overall in 2016.

      Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon has first-round talent, but evaluators could move him off the draft board entirely based on off-field concerns. Mixon, who measured a shade under 6-1 (6-feet 3/4-inches) and 228 pounds, turned in a pro day workout similar to Elliott. But Mixon wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

      In July 2014, Mixon was arrested for misdemeanor assault after he punched a woman in the face, breaking her jaw and cheekbone. He received 100 hours of community service, underwent counseling and was suspended from the football program for the 2014 season. The gruesome incident was also captured on camera.

      Another standout, Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, was at the combine only long enough to be sent home from medical examinations after a spat with a physician. Foster, ranked 10th overall by NFLDraftScout.com, could be drafted much lower. In addition to the combine flap, Foster admitted to a dilute sample of his drug test in Indianapolis.

      Foster will not attend the draft due to the transgressions, but Alabama will be represented with full force. Head coach Nick Saban plans to join Allen and offensive tackle Cam Robinson. Three other Crimson Tide players are considered first-round possibilities as well: cornerback Marlon Humphrey, linebacker Tim Williams and Alabama's highest-rated prospect, tight end O.J. Howard (NFLDraftScout.com's No. 6 overall player in 2017 draft).

      "I think it's wonderful and speaks volumes of our ability to help players develop and play at a high level and to be able to recruit some talented players that have an opportunity to develop and be someone that has a career as a football player in the NFL," Saban said.

      Only days before the NFL Draft, Ohio State's Gareon Conley will not attend the draft on Thursday in Philadelphia following sexual assault allegations his attorney called "ludicrous and ridiculous."

      NFLDraftScout.com ranks Conley second among cornerbacks and 22nd overall among prospects in the 2017 draft. The redshirt junior has a 4.44 time in the 40-yard dash and 37-inch vertical.

  • 5 bold predictions for the 2017 draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    If the NFL Draft were predictable, it wouldn't be the popular event that it is every year.

    • The volatility of the draft, especially the first round, is what makes mock drafts the most visited webpages on the internet each spring and drives television ratings higher than World Series games.

      Here are five bold predictions for the first round Thursday during the 2017 NFL Draft.

      1. Jaguars draft a quarterback

      In less than a week, teams must make a final decision on whether or not to pick up the fifth-year option on first round players from the 2014 NFL Draft class. The Jaguars have yet to decide on Bortles, but it is extremely unlikely Jacksonville picks up his option, making the 2017 season the final year of his rookie deal. The Jaguars have a roster that is ready to take the next step, but the quarterback has held them back and an upgrade should be a priority, making quarterback a very possible target at No. 4 overall.

      2. Two quarterbacks are drafted top-10

      This draft class lacks a true top-10 quarterback, but the "value" of the position always pushes players up the board. A quarterback has been drafted in the top-10 in 15 of the last 16 years and that trend should continue this year, except there might be two passers in the top-10 picks, not just one. The Browns are a strong candidate to draft a quarterback, whether at No. 1 or much more likely with a trade up from pick No. 12. And then the Bears, Jaguars, Jets or another trade up option could grab the second passer.

      3. Four offensive linemen drafted in the top-25

      Offensive tackle is the weakest position in the 2017 draft class. But supply and demand is an economic concept that applies in the draft – all 32 teams could use more depth on the offensive line, which will push offensive linemen up the board. With limited quantities, if a team doesn't get their offensive tackle early, they will likely be out of luck. Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk, Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp, Utah's Garett Bolles and Alabama's Cam Robinson all have a chance to go in the top-25 picks.

      4. Haason Reddick will be the first linebacker drafted, not Reuben Foster

      Based simply on talent, Temple linebacker Haason Reddick and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster are very close with Foster getting the slide edge in my opinion. However, when factoring in the medicals and everything else that has happened with Foster this pre-draft process, including a diluted drug test and being sent home from the Combine, Reddick is a much cleaner prospect. He isn't as experienced, but his athleticism is what NFL teams covet.

      5. Dalvin Cook slides out of round one

      Cook is the best running back in this draft class based simply on the tape as a ballcarrier. However, he has fumbling issues and isn't reliable in pass protection so there are on-field concerns. Off the field, Cook has a sketchy background that worries teams and his medicals have been flagged in the past and creates concern. At a position with plenty of depth in this draft class, teams will opt to pass on Cook and get the running back later.

  • RB Lynch to join Raiders after trade from Seahawks
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Marshawn Lynch is coming out of retirement after the Seattle Seahawks traded the running back to his hometown Oakland Raiders on Wednesday.

    • Lynch and the Raiders agreed to a two-year contract and he was at Oakland's training facility to take a physical.

      The trade became official Wednesday afternoon when the Raiders announced they will receive Lynch and a sixth-round draft choice in 2018 in exchange for Oakland's fifth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.

      After weeks of negotiations, Oakland agreed to pay Lynch a $3 million base, with a chance to make $2 million more if he gains 1,000 yards, according to NFL Network. The maximum value of the contract is $8.5 million.

      Lynch took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to confirm his return to the NFL.

      "It's time," he wrote in a tweet that also included a screenshot of a message. "Yes Lawd 12th man I'm thankful but (expletive) just got REAL. I had hella fun in Seattle ... But I'm really from Oakland doe like really really really from Oakland doe ... town bizzness breath on me."

      Lynch arrived in Oakland after returning from a trip to Haiti, where he and former Seahawks teammates Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett have been touring to help build schools and houses, according to NFL Network.

      Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie last week set a deadline by the NFL Draft, which gets underway Thursday in Philadelphia.

      Reports surfaced several weeks ago that "Beast Mode" was seeking reinstatement to the NFL and he and his representatives were in negotiations with the Raiders.

      The Seahawks owned Lynch's rights, so the two sides needed to work out a deal before Lynch could become a member of the Raiders.

      Lynch, who turned 31 last Saturday, retired from the NFL and Seahawks after the 2015 season. He had been on the reserve/retired list since May 2016.

      The five-time Pro Bowl selection racked up six 1,000-yard seasons in his career and rushed for 9,112 yards and 74 touchdowns in nine seasons with the Buffalo Bills and Seahawks. He topped 1,200 yards in four consecutive seasons for Seattle from 2011-14 before being hindered by injuries in 2015. He played in only seven games and recorded 417 yards and three touchdowns in his last season.

      After attending Oakland Technical High School, Lynch played three seasons at California (2004-06), leaving ranked second in school history with 3,230 rushing yards in 35 games. In 2005 and 2006, he posted consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons and was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year in 2006.

  • NFL notebook: RB Peterson agrees to join Saints
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Adrian Peterson is set to begin his next chapter in New Orleans.

    • The seven-time Pro Bowl running back agreed on a two-year deal to join the Saints pending a physical, the team announced Tuesday.

      NFL.com reports Peterson's deal is worth $7 million, including $3.5 million guaranteed. According to ESPN, Peterson's deal is technically a one-year deal with a one-year option. He will receive $1 million in guaranteed salary and a $2.5 million signing bonus in 2017. He is owed $3.5 million in 2018, none of which is guaranteed.

      Peterson's 2017 option was not picked up by the Vikings on Feb. 28 after he spent his first 10 seasons in Minnesota.

      He was the 2012 NFL MVP after rushing for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. In 2016, Peterson was limited to 72 yards on 37 carries in just three games. He missed 13 games after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Peterson also had a mild LCL sprain in his right knee.

      --Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley will not attend the NFL draft on Thursday in Philadelphia following sexual assault allegations his attorney called "ludicrous and ridiculous."

      Conley, 21, has not been charged or arrested after a woman alleged she was sexually assaulted by the potential first-round draft pick. Investigators are in the preliminary stages of gathering statements and had not interviewed Conley as of early Tuesday afternoon.

      The victim told police Conley raped her in a room at the hotel. Conley was not at the hotel when police arrived. Two men claiming they were with Conley at the time of the alleged incident said they did not see anything happen between Conley and the woman.

      --Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant was conditionally reinstated to the NFL after being suspended for the entire 2016 season, the Steelers announced.

      Bryant is eligible to participate in the Steelers' preseason meetings, conditioning work and other football-related activities.

      Bryant missed 20 regular-season games over two seasons for multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy. He has played in just 21 NFL games, including five starts, in 2014 and 2015, and had 76 receptions for 1,314 yards and 14 receiving touchdowns in those two seasons combined.

      --Daryl Washington, who has been suspended for the past three NFL seasons, was reinstated to the NFL on a conditional basis, the league announced.

      Washington was a linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals when he was suspended in May 2014 after multiple violations of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. The Cardinals were non-committal on whether they would allow Washington to return to the club.

      Washington recorded 18 sacks and six interceptions in four seasons with the Cardinals from 2010-13.

      --Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster was not invited to attend the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia.

      He is not prohibited from buying a ticket to be present for the first round, but because of his involvement in an argument with a physician at the scouting combine in February, the All-American will not be allowed to otherwise participate in the event.

      He also tested positive for a diluted urine sample in Indianapolis

      --Jay Cutler remains without a team, but the former Pro Bowler isn't done playing football just yet.

      The longtime Chicago Bears quarterback and current free agent is ready to suit up for the 2017 season, according to agent Bus Cook, who told ESPN that his client isn't thinking about retirement.

      Cutler, 33, was released by the Bears on March 9 after an injury-riddled 2016 season.

      --D'Onta Foreman, an NFL Draft prospect after a standout junior season at Texas, told the NFL Network on Monday that his son, D'Onta Jr., was born prematurely and died seven weeks later on Nov. 5, 2016, from an intestinal infection.

      Foreman said his son was born after 23 weeks of pregnancy, weighing 15 ounces. D'Onta Jr. died after spending 50 days in an intensive care unit.

      On the day of his son's death, Foreman rushed for a career-high 341 yards and three touchdowns against Texas Tech. He said he dedicated the game to his son and said he was "leaving it all out here" on the field.

      Foreman said he and his girlfriend, Carissa McGaskey, are expecting the birth of another child in September.

      --Kasey Redfern is joining the Detroit Lions, the team announced. Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the team.

      The 25-year-old punter spent time with the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns in 2016, but did not appear in any games. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Wofford with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014.

  • Cardinals' Washington receives conditional reinstatement
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Daryl Washington, who has been suspended for the past three NFL seasons, was reinstated to the NFL on a conditional basis, the league announced on Tuesday.

    • Washington was a linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals when he was suspended in May 2014 after multiple violations of the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

      The Cardinals were non-committal on whether they would allow Washington to return to the club.

      "Considering we have been prohibited from having any contact with him over the last three years, it would be premature today to discuss a potential return to the team," the Cardinals said in a statement. "As everyone is aware, the 2017 NFL Draft is just days away and that is where our energy and attention is fully focused right now.

      "At the appropriate time, we will address the issue of Daryl Washington further."

      Washington recorded 18 sacks and six interceptions in four seasons with the Cardinals from 2010-13. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2012 when he racked up a career-high nine sacks.

      Washington will be eligible to participate in offseason workouts and training camp practices and games before the NFL makes an assessment in terms of his eligibility for the 2017 season.

      "Prior to the start of the regular season, the NFL will review Washington's progress," the league said in a statement. "Based on his compliance and engagement with his program and resources, he will be permitted to participate in all regular season activities beginning in Week 1. He will be evaluated later in the season for full reinstatement."

  • Steelers WR Bryant conditionally reinstated to NFL
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant was conditionally reinstated to the NFL after being suspended for the entire 2016 season, the Steelers announced Tuesday.

    • Bryant is eligible to participate in the Steelers' preseason meetings, conditioning work and other football-related activities.

      Bryant missed 20 regular-season games over two seasons for multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy.

      He has played in just 21 NFL games, including five starts, in 2014 and 2015, and had 76 receptions for 1,314 yards and 14 receiving touchdowns in those two seasons combined. He also had eight rushes for 49 yards and a touchdown.

      "We also understand that this is just the beginning as he works to return to the team and meet all the conditions of his reinstatement," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. "We look forward to working with Martavis to ensure that he is mentally and physically prepared to contribute to our efforts on the field, while also maintaining proper balance to keep his life in order off the field."

      Before the regular season begins, the NFL will review Bryant's situation to determine whether he has complied with the requirements for reinstatement.

  • Ohio State CB Conley facing sexual assault allegations
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley will not attend the NFL draft on Thursday in Philadelphia following sexual assault allegations his attorney called "ludicrous and ridiculous."

    • Conley, 21, has not been charged or arrested after a woman alleged she was sexually assaulted by the potential first-round draft pick. Investigators are in the preliminary stages of gathering statements and had not interviewed Conley as of early Tuesday afternoon.

      According to the police report, the alleged incident took place at the Westin Downtown in Cleveland around 3 a.m. ET on April 9. The victim told police Conley raped her in a room at the hotel. Conley was not at the hotel when police arrived.

      Kevin Spellacy, Conley's attorney, vehemently denied the allegations to WOIO-TV in Cleveland.

      Security employees for all 32 NFL franchises are likely investigating the incident feverishly just days before the 2017 NFL Draft begins.

      Two men claiming they were with Conley at the time of the alleged incident said they did not see anything happen between Conley and the woman.

      A police report Tuesday reveals that the victim told authorities Conley propositioned her for sex and she refused, but agreed to watch another couple in the room. A short time later, the victim told police Conley grabbed her and raped her.

      Both USA Today and the NFL Network reported that the alleged victim was transported to a hospital, and a rape kit was administered.

      A second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016, NFLDraftScout.com ranks Conley second among cornerbacks and 22nd overall among prospects in the 2017 draft. The redshirt junior has a 4.44 time in the 40-yard dash and 37-inch vertical.

      It remains to be seen if the charges will cause Conley to spiral downward in the draft.

      In 2015, All-SEC offensive tackle La'el Collins of LSU went undrafted after 29-year-old Brittney Mills was shot to death shortly before the draft. Collins, who was rated as a first-round draft pick before the murder, was formerly romantically involved with Mills.

      Mills' child was born a month prematurely despite her death but died one week later.

      Collins was questioned by police and wasn't charged in the murders.

  • Cutler hopeful of playing in 2017
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Jay Cutler remains without a team, but the former Pro Bowler isn't done playing football just yet.

    • The longtime Chicago Bears quarterback and current free agent is ready to suit up for the 2017 season, according to agent Bus Cook, who told ESPN on Tuesday that his client isn't thinking about retirement.

      "He never has mentioned retirement to me," Cook said via ESPN. "Jay Cutler, as far as I know, is ready to play and wants to play, and his skill set is as good as any quarterback in the league."

      Cutler, 33, was released by the Bears on March 9 after an injury-riddled 2016 season. The former No. 11 overall pick missed 11 games due to thumb and shoulder injuries.

      Over his eight seasons in Chicago, Cutler became the Bears' all-time leader in passing yards (23,443) and touchdowns (154) in 102 games. The Bears made the playoffs just once during Cutler's tenure with the team.

      Cutler also ranks first in Bears' history in interceptions thrown with 109, an average of more than one per game. He threw a career-worst 26 interceptions in 2009, his first season in Chicago.

      The Bears acquired Cutler from the Denver Broncos for multiple draft picks on April 3, 2009. With Denver, Cutler threw for 9,024 yards and 54 touchdowns opposite 37 interceptions in 37 games over three seasons.

  • Alabama LB Foster not invited to draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster was not invited to attend the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia.

    • ESPN reported Foster was not on the NFL's prospect invitation list. He is not prohibited from buying a ticket to be present for the first round, but because of his involvement in an argument with a physician at the scouting combine in February, the All-American will not be allowed to otherwise participate in the event.

      He also tested positive for a diluted urine sample in Indianapolis

      "I don't make excuses. I'm a real dude," Foster told NFL Network. "I try to be a good person. ... I just hope the coaches understand and that's all I can hope and pray for."

      Foster is projected as a first-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com. One anonymous NFL scout named Foster the best player in the 2017 draft in a poll of 16 evaluators by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Bob McGinn earlier in the week.

      Foster sent all 32 NFL teams a letter of apology and was roundly endorsed by college coach Nick Saban as a high-character leader with the Crimson Tide.

  • P Redfern signs with Lions
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Kasey Redfern is joining the Detroit Lions, the team announced Tuesday.

    • Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the team.

      The 25-year-old punter spent time with the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns in 2016, but did not appear in any games. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Wofford with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014.

      At Wofford, Redfern was a multi-purpose kicker handling field goals, kickoffs and punts over his four seasons with the Terriers.

      Detroit went 9-7 last season and lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs.

  • Peterson joins Saints on two-year, $7 million deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Adrian Peterson is set to begin his next chapter in New Orleans.

    • The seven-time Pro Bowl running back has agreed on a two-year deal to join the Saints pending a physical, the team announced Tuesday.

      NFL.com reports Peterson's deal is worth $7 million, including $3.5 million guaranteed. Peterson, 32, confirmed to ESPN that the signing was finalized Monday.

      "I am excited to be joining the New Orleans Saints," Peterson told ESPN. "I'm really looking forward to this opportunity. Most importantly, I chose this team because it just felt right within my spirit."

      According to ESPN, Peterson's deal is a one-year deal with a one-year option. He will receive $1 million in guaranteed salary and a $2.5 million signing bonus in 2017. He is owed $3.5 million in 2018, none of which is guaranteed.

      The maximum Peterson could receive with incentives is $8.25 million.

      "We are excited to welcome Adrian to the New Orleans Saints," coach Sean Payton said in a statement. "It's rare and unique to have the opportunity to add a Hall of Fame player to your roster."

      Peterson's 2017 option was not picked up by the Vikings on Feb. 28 after he spent his first 10 seasons in Minnesota, becoming the franchise's all-time leader in rushing yards (11,747) and touchdowns (97).

      He was the 2012 NFL MVP after rushing for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns.

      "His career has been top-notch and speaks for itself," Payton said. "We think he will be an excellent fit in our locker room and in our offense. We look forward to the opportunity later this spring to work with him on the field along with the rest of our team."

      In 2016, Peterson was limited to 72 yards on 37 carries in just three games. He missed 13 games after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Peterson also had a mild LCL sprain in his right knee.

  • RB prospect Foreman reveals death of infant son
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    D'Onta Foreman, an NFL Draft prospect after a standout junior season at Texas, told the NFL Network on Monday that his son, D'Onta Jr., was born prematurely and died seven weeks later on Nov. 5, 2016 from an intestinal infection.

    • Foreman said his son was born after 23 weeks of pregnancy, weighing 15 ounces. D'Onta Jr. died after spending 50 days in an intensive care unit.

      "I really didn't know how to feel," Foreman told NFL Network. "I was like numb. I felt like something was taken away from me before I had a chance to experience it."

      On the day of his son's death, Foreman rushed for a career-high 341 yards and three touchdowns against Texas Tech. He said he dedicated the game to his son and said he was "leaving it all out here" on the field.

      Foreman said he and his girlfriend, Carissa McGaskey, are expecting the birth of another child in September.

      Foreman, 21, led the nation with 2,028 rushing yards in 2016, won the Doak Walker Award and finished eighth in Heisman Trophy voting. He is the 123rd overall ranked prospect in the 2017 draft class according to NFLDraftScout.com and the eight-best running back.

  • NFL notebook: Saints, Peterson reportedly nearing deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, April 24, 2017

    Free agent running back Adrian Peterson is close to agreeing to a deal with the New Orleans Saints, according to published reports on Monday.

    • Citing two league sources, the Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported that a deal is near for Peterson, who visited the Saints two weeks ago.

      The NFL Network reported that the sides are close to an agreement and that Peterson would receive more than $3 million to play next season.

      Peterson, who turned 32 last month, left the Minnesota Vikings as one of the best players in franchise history. He was released on March 9 after the team declined the 2017 option on his contract.

      The four-time All-Pro had seven 1,000-yard rushing seasons in nine years, including the second-best total in NFL history with 2,097 yards in 2012, but battled injuries the last few seasons.

      Peterson also led the NFL in rushing in 2015 with 1,485 yards, along with 11 touchdowns. He has 11,747 career rushing yards with 97 touchdowns in 10 seasons -- 16th on the NFL's all-time list. He is 565 yards behind Jim Brown for 10th place.

      The former Oklahoma standout and No. 7 overall pick of the Vikings in the 2007 draft missed all but three games in 2016 after undergoing right knee surgery in September. Peterson totaled 72 yards on 37 carries.

      --Former No. 1 pick Jake Long announced his NFL retirement after nine injury-plagued seasons.

      The left tackle, the first overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, played only four games with the Minnesota Vikings in 2016 before he suffered a torn Achilles on Nov. 13 to end his season.

      "As I continue with my recent rehab," Long wrote in his statement posted on Twitter, "I realize that although my heart and mind still want to play, my body is telling me something completely different."

      The Vikings signed Long last October after they had lost tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith to season-ending injuries. Long, who turns 32 next month, was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons (2008-11) in the league before multiple injuries piled up. He last played more than 10 games in a season in 2013, when he started 15 games for the then-St. Louis Rams.

      --General manager John Schneider says the Seattle Seahawks will continue to listen to offers for cornerback Richard Sherman, but the team has "moved past" the idea of trading the four-time Pro Bowl selection.

      Sherman was back at the Seahawks' facility to take part in the offseason program after sitting out last week.

      "Right now we have kind of moved past it," Schneider said of Sherman during a press conference to preview the NFL Draft, which will be held Thursday through Saturday in Philadelphia. "And if somebody calls and goes crazy with something, then we'll discuss it again."

      Sherman met with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll last week amid the developing trade-talk stories. The 29-year-old Sherman, who has two years remaining on his contract, is due to earn $11.43 million in 2017 and $11 million in 2018.

      --The New England Patriots appear unlikely to trade cornerback Malcolm Butler this offseason.

      Butler, who was a restricted free agent, could not be traded until he signed the $3.91 million tender last week for the 2017 season. He visited with just one team, the New Orleans Saints, during free agency.

      Peter King of TheMMQB.com reported that the Saints still have interest in the cornerback but "the thought of dealing one or more picks for Butler, then paying him a huge contract, is less attractive than it once seemed."

      The Saints have picks 11, 32, 42, 76 and 103 in the first three rounds of the 2017 draft, which will be held Thursday through Saturday in Philadelphia. Butler previously did not sign his tender in hopes that another NFL team might sign him to an offer sheet before last Friday's deadline.

      --Running back Mike Gillislee signed with the Patriots after the Buffalo Bills decided not to match the two-year contract offer.

      Gillislee received a fifth-round tender as a restricted free agent, and the Bills will receive the Patriots' pick in that round of the NFL draft, No. 163 overall.

      A fifth-round pick in 2013, Gillislee rushed for 577 yards and eight touchdowns on 101 carries last season as LeSean McCoy's backup in Buffalo.

      Gillislee is the latest change in the backfield for the Patriots as LeGarrette Blount, who led the NFL with 18 touchdowns, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Patriots also signed running back Rex Burkhead, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, in March. They also return Dion Lewis and James White at the position.

      --In what hardly rates as a surprise, the New York Giants are planning to pick up the fifth-year option on star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., multiple media outlets reported.

      New York has until May 3 to pick up the option on Beckham's rookie contract, a move considered procedural given that failing to do so would allow Beckham to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018.

      "Of course we will," SportsNet New York quoted a team source as to the plans to keep Beckham in the fold.

      Beckham has hauled in double-digit touchdowns and eclipsed 1,300 yards in each of his first three seasons, but the former first-round pick (No. 12 overall) has drawn the ire of management for a lack of discipline on the field.

      --The San Francisco 49ers are "still strongly considering" taking a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in this week's NFL Draft.

      Ian Rapoport of NFL Network also reported the 49ers have done "extensive homework" on the draft's top quarterbacks, highlighted by North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky and Clemson's Deshaun Watson.

      According to the report, the 49ers taking a quarterback would be somewhat of a surprise, considering they signed presumptive starter Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley in the offseason -- and they have Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins potentially as an option for 2018.

      The 2017 draft will be the first under the 49ers' new regime of general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.

      --General manager Thomas Dimitroff said the Atlanta Falcons "aren't looking for angels" in this week's NFL Draft but at the same time indicated Joe Mixon is off their draft board.

      "Of course, I've said this time and again: We aren't looking for angels," Dimitroff told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of players in the draft, which will be held Thursday through Saturday in Philadelphia. "We are looking for guys who are real. We are looking for guys who ultimately will fit into the brotherhood. ... We are particular about looking at the character situation and how they fit. It's a big thing, of course."

      The Falcons have the 31st pick in the first round.

      Mixon, the former Oklahoma running back who was involved in a highly publicized domestic violence case, is not on the team's draft board, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported.

      --The family of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will gain access to three handwritten notes that the player allegedly wrote before he killed himself, a lawyer for the family said.

      Attorney George Leontire told reporters early Monday afternoon that a Bristol Superior Court judge in New Bedford, Mass., ordered the release of the notes to the family, the Boston Globe reported.

      The legal action came minutes before funeral services were scheduled to begin for Hernandez in Bristol, Conn.

      As part of his motion, Leontire said Hernandez's family deserved "know their loved one's final thoughts" and termed it a necessary part of the "grieving process."

      --The Washington Redskins re-signed restricted free agent linebacker Will Compton to his tender contract.

      Compton's deal for the 2017 season is worth $1.8 million, according to ESPN. Compton, 27, was voted the team's defensive captain prior to last season.

      The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Compton registered a career-high 104 tackles (60 solo) in 2016 -- his third full season with the Redskins. He had five passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and one interception while starting 15 games.

      An undrafted free agent out of Nebraska, Compton appeared in one game with Washington in 2013 but has missed just one game over the past three seasons.