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Raider News From Yahoo
Free-agent market projection for cornerbacks: Maxwell, Culliver could land big pay days (Yahoo Sports)
Here's a cornerback projection of the market, which kicks off Tuesday, the official start of NFL free agency, and a look at the teams in need of corners.
NFL stadium supporters in LA suburb file ballot paperwork (The Associated Press)
Organizers behind a proposed stadium for the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers in a Los Angeles suburb filed paperwork Wednesday to bring their plan before voters. Submission of the ballot initiative to the city of Carson, California, marks an incremental step in development of the $1.7 billion project. The Raiders and Chargers announced last month they are planning a shared stadium in Carson if both teams fail to get new stadiums in their current hometowns. A ballot approval would put the plan on the same footing as another NFL stadium project 10 miles away in Inglewood that is backed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
NFL free agency preview: The teams to watch (Shutdown Corner)
We know all the relevant free agents by each position and have scanned the top 25 overall , but these free agents need teams to sign them. There will be a wide variety of shoppers at the free agent market when it opens on March 10, from the Jacksonville Jaguars and their staggering $68.5 million in cap room to the New Orleans Saints, who are $22.4 over the cap with less than a week to clear some space. Who are the most interesting teams to track in free agency? Here they are, with all current cap numbers coming from OverTheCap.com : Jacksonville Jaguars ($68.5 million under the cap): Of course they have to be on here with all that cap space. With $68.5 million in your pocket you can order an Ndamukong Suh at the window and still have enough left over for a Randall Cobb with some Devin McCourty for dessert. If the Jaguars, sick of not finishing over .500 since 2007, want to go crazy and land impact players, they certainly can. This has also been a team that has been fairly patient in free agency. Linebacker Paul Posluszny might be the last big headline signing, and that was in 2011 (unless guard Zane Beadles got you excited last year). The Jaguars surely want to build the right way, and not tie up a lot of their resources on one free agent class. But with that much cap room to spend and a long playoff drought, it'll be hard to show restraint. Oakland Raiders ($57.4 million under the cap): Last year's free agency was so bad that "The Raiders signed a bunch of players who can be cut after one year with no long-term ramifications!" actually became a positive rallying cry for Raiders fans. Oof. Oakland couldn't manage to sign one long-term impact free agent despite the most cap room in free agency history, lost Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer and the one long-term helper they tried to land, guard Rodger Saffold, had his contract voided because of a failed physical. Bad, bad, bad. Needless to say, general manager Reggie McKenzie can't strike out again. Signing a bunch of disposable veterans last year was awful given the Raiders' cap situation, but at least McKenzie can try again. And he better land a few difference makers.  [Check out Shutdown Corner's full 2015 free agent rankings – click here for offensive players , and click here for defensive players and specialists ] Green Bay Packers ($32.5 million under the cap): They're not here because they'll spend; general manager Ted Thompson doesn't believe in free agency. They're on the list because of what they can lose. Green Bay has some very intriguing free agents hitting the market: Cobb, tackle Bryan Bulaga, cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House and linemen Letroy Guion and B.J. Raji among them. Why they didn't just use the franchise tag on Cobb is odd (supposedly they didn't want to upset Jordy Nelson, who would then make less than Cobb, but that's worth losing a 24-year-old coming off a 1,287-yard season?). They'll use that cap room to retain whoever they can, and they don't want to lose much after coming thisclose to winning the NFC championship game last season. Dallas Cowboys ($6.6 million under the cap): They're still not in a position to spend like crazy, especially after putting the franchise tag on Dez Bryant. They're worth watching because they're the Cowboys and they're always interesting, but mostly for the running back situation. Will they re-sign NFL offensive player of the year DeMarco Murray or let him walk? Would their backup plan include Adrian Peterson? They also have other free agents like offensive tackle Doug Free and linebackers Justin Durant and Bruce Carter who they'll have to make decisions on. Indianapolis Colts ($41.3 million under the cap): At this moment they have the most cap room of any 2014 playoff team. That changes if quarterback Andrew Luck gets the extension he's now eligible for. But reports out of Indianapolis indicate the Colts might wait a year on Luck, which would give them a one-year window to go nuts in free agency to see if they can get over that New England Patriots hump in front of them. The Colts won't want to tie up all their long-term cap space, but they can be an interesting team on the market. Philadelphia Eagles ($32.2 million under the cap): Oh, they're definitely on the list now. That number doesn't count the LeSean McCoy trade; NJ.com estimated the Eagles will have $46 million in cap room after McCoy gets traded to Buffalo. Also, inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans and his $6.8 million base salary are now expendable with the addition of linebacker Kiko Alonso. The Eagles need pass rushers and cornerbacks, and could probably use a receiver and a running back. With that cap space, they can check off just about every box. Not a bad spot for a team that was 10-6 last season.  - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab
Raiders officially release S Tyvon Branch (The Associated Press)
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Raiders have officially released safety Tyvon Branch.
Rich, Boltman among Chargers fans pulling for new stadium (The Associated Press)
From famed Super Bowl gatecrasher Dion Rich to an unofficial mascot called Boltman, Chargers fans turned out Monday night to support their team, which is threatening to move to a Los Angeles suburb if it doesn't get a new stadium in San Diego. Some 400 fans, many wearing Chargers jerseys, packed a lounge at aging Qualcomm Stadium for a public forum held by an advisory group appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to recommend a site and financing plan to solve the long-running, contentious stadium issue. The Chargers and Oakland Raiders recently announced plans to build a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson if they can't get new stadiums in their current cities.
2015 NFL free-agent rankings (defensive players and specialists) (Shutdown Corner)
NFL free agency starts on March 10, with teams hoping to find the next star who can push them to the next level. Here are Shutdown Corner's free-agency rankings for defensive players and specialists, with every relevant unrestricted free agent set to hit the market ( for offensive players, click here ) : DEFENSIVE ENDS 1. Jerry Hughes: Hughes never panned out for the Colts, but two 10-sack seasons in Buffalo have put him in great position as he heads into free agency before his age-27 season. 2. Greg Hardy: This one is complicated. He’s a tremendous talent and won’t turn 27 until July. He also had a domestic violence incident that landed him on the NFL’s exempt list. If not for that he’d get an enormous contract. He might still get it. 3. Jabaal Sheard: Sheard was a better fit as a 4-3 end, but the Browns switched to a 3-4. Sheard’s sack totals have slipped every year since his rookie season. Maybe he can find the right fit in free agency. 4. Adrian Clayborn: The former Buccaneers’ first-round pick has been plagued by injuries – he played in just one game last year – but has been a solid 4-3 end when healthy.
2015 NFL free-agent rankings (offensive players) (Shutdown Corner)
NFL free agency starts on March 10, with teams hoping to find the next star who can push them to the next level. Here are Shutdown Corner's free agency rankings for offensive players ( for defensive players and specialists, click here ) , with every relevant unrestricted free agent set to hit the market: QUARTERBACKS 1. Brian Hoyer: Like most years, there are no great free-agent options at quarterback. Hoyer has looked good in a few spurts. He also got benched for Johnny Manziel last season when the Browns were still in the playoff race. With Cleveland signing Josh McCown, it appears Hoyer will hit the open market. 2. Mark Sanchez: On the bright side, he had eight starts with the Philadelphia Eagles last season and posted an 88.4 rating, and he has good experience with 70 NFL starts. But he has also shown he is  mistake-prone, and that’s unlikely to change. 3. Jake Locker: Injuries and inaccuracy ruined his Tennessee Titans career. But he was the No. 8 pick of the 2011 draft, and someone will talk themselves into him having a successful second act if he stays healthy (enormous “if”) as he enters his age 27 season. 4. Ryan Mallett: Tom Brady’s backups get overrated; being a great player’s backup doesn’t make one great by osmosis. Mallett is a big-armed, unproven commodity with 79 career passes and an unimpressive 61 rating in four seasons. 5. Matt Moore: He had a good season starting for Miami in 2011. He has thrown 29 passes in three seasons since. His past success hasn’t been totally forgotten. 6. Tarvaris Jackson: He hasn’t played meaningful snaps since 2011, but has settled in nicely to his new career as a solid, dependable backup. 7. Michael Vick: Vick brings a big name and that’s about it at age 35. It has been a while since he was a legitimate option as a starter, but you could do worse as a backup option. 8. Colt McCoy: If you want to be optimistic, you chalk up his Cleveland struggles to it being the curse of the Browns, and focus on a decent four-start stint with the Washington Redskins last season. 9. Shaun Hill: At age 36, Hill is better suited as a backup, a role he was forced into with the St. Louis Rams last season. But he can still be an effective backup. 10. Christian Ponder: One would think that disastrous start at Green Bay eliminated all hope the former first-round pick could rebound in his second NFL stop. But he’ll get a shot somewhere. Others worth noting: Jason Campbell, Jimmy Clausen, Matt Flynn, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Lindley, Tyrod Taylor, Scott Tolzien and T.J. Yates RUNNING BACKS 1. DeMarco Murray: No other free agent got MVP votes after last season (Murray got two of 50) or won a major award like Murray’s NFL offensive player of the year award (unless you count Justin Houston’s Deacon Jones award for leading the NFL in sacks). So Murray should be a hot commodity, right? Maybe not. The market for running backs is depressed with teams looking for cheaper options in the draft. Murray’s free agency will be interesting to watch. 2. Ryan Mathews: A fantastic back with two 1,000-yard seasons in San Diego, Mathews also is a constant injury concern. His ceiling is high -- if he can stay healthy. 3. Justin Forsett: Behind offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking attack with the Baltimore Ravens, Forsett had 1,266 yards and a great 5.4-yard average. He never had more than 619 yards in any of his first six NFL seasons. He’ll turn 30 in October, so will teams be willing to gamble on a repeat? 4. C.J. Spiller: The Bills didn’t get anything near what they paid for with Spiller, after they made him the ninth overall pick. He rarely got regular touches, and also dealt with plenty of injuries. He is still an intriguing talent who might benefit from a change in scenery. 5. Mark Ingram: After he looked like a first-round bust, Ingram emerged in his fourth season as a tough, productive runner. He has durability concerns but he should be a solid option for a running back-needy team, and it might be hard for the Saints to bring him back given their salary cap problems. 6. Frank Gore: One of the great San Francisco 49ers, Gore has 11,073 career yards on 2,442 carries. He is the epitome of toughness at the position, and last year had a good 4.3-yard average at age 31. Will the 49ers re-sign him? It seems like he still has something left. 7. Shane Vereen: Vereen is probably more valuable to the Patriots, who know how to use his talents as a receiver out of the backfield, than anyone else. 8. Stevan Ridley: Ridley tore his ACL in October, which complicates matters. He’s a powerful back who also has a fumbling problem and is a non-factor in the passing game. But he’s good between the tackles. 9. Reggie Bush: Even though he’ll be 30 before next season, Bush still has a lot of value. He’s great out of the backfield as a receiver and can still break a big run. 10. Roy Helu: He never established himself as a top option in Washington’ running game, but was great catching balls out of the backfield and doesn’t have many miles on his legs. 11. Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw can still be an effective back when he’s healthy. That’s the problem: He’s rarely healthy. He hasn’t played 16 games since 2010 and he will be 29 next season. 12. Knowshon Moreno: The Broncos moved on from Moreno after a 1,000-yard season in 2013, and the Dolphins got just three games and 31 carries out of him because of injuries. He’s a solid all-around back and some team should get him at a discount. 13. Ben Tate: Tate was the top back in last year’s free-agent class, but that seems like decades ago. He was on three different teams last year, and if he signs somewhere this year he’ll have to prove he’s worth a regular role.
Detroit Lions decide not to place franchise tag on Ndamukong Suh (Shutdown Corner)
In the end, the Detroit Lions couldn't justify placing the franchise tag on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The #Lions will not place the franchise tag on DT Ndamukong Suh. — Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 2, 2015 It would have cost the team a one-year tender of $27 million, which — along with the bloated salaries of Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford — would have crippled the Lions' salary cap situation and perhaps hindered their chances to re-sign Suh and even Nick Fairley, another key free agent. The reason his figure was high was because Suh's cap number was $22 million a year ago in his redone deal, and the franchise rules require a 20 percent kicker over that number. The Lions are playing with fire, but they still harbor hopes they can re-sign Suh to a long-term deal. They'll have until March 10, which is the opening of free agency, to lock up Suh or risk losing him to the open market, where the money could exceed what the Lions can afford. A year ago, the Lions opted not to pick up the fifth-year option for Fairley, a first-round pick in 2010. He had been out of shape and had not produced to the level the Lions had hoped. But even with a season-ending injury last season, Fairley played well enough — and with the Suh uncertainty looming — that it appears in hindsight the Lions might have made a mistake. Now what for Suh? The Lions could come to an agreement with him in the next week. But other teams will be lurking with one of the top interior defenders now hitting the market. Previously, Suh's camp had let word leak that he might be seeking a landing spot in one of the top markets. With the New York Giants expected to franchise Jason-Pierre Paul and the New York Jets loaded with d-line talent, the NYC market might be limited as a destination. Philadelphia? Dallas? It's not clear if Suh is financially viable in either spot, although the Cowboys always figure to have one eye on the situation. As for teams with the requisite cap space, the Oakland Raiders figure to be players. Maybe the Atlanta Falcons, too, as they have cleared gobs of cap room and desperately need a pass rush. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
Report: LA-area stadium near airport would pose terror risk (The Associated Press)
A report commissioned by the developer of a downtown Los Angeles football stadium warns that a rival project nearby could be a potential terrorist target because of its proximity to Los Angeles International Airport. The report was released Friday at a time when several potential stadium projects are competing to bring an NFL team to Southern California, two decades after the Rams and Raiders pulled out. The 14-page report was commissioned by Anschutz Entertainment Group, which wants to build a stadium in downtown Los Angeles. A development venture linked to Rams owner Stan Kroenke has proposed a stadium in Inglewood, about 10 miles from downtown.
NFL draft watch: Needs that teams should pass on in Round 1 (Shutdown Corner)
It’s time to revive the need-vs.-BPA (best player available) debate, with an eye on this year’s draft. I was stunned at how many comments, Twitter remarks and emails I got after my post-combine mock draft that were something along the lines of “[insert their favorite team] won’t do that … they have bigger needs.” Knowing that my mock will be torn to shreds after the first round of free agency, I won’t defend the picks — but rather my method. Think of it this way: If you were to go back and do a redraft from three, four, seven, heck, 10 years ago, what are you going to do? You’re going to look at the best players and not even think about need. It’s not the most scientific way to approach it, but the point is this: Talent trumps all, and need should only be a tiebreaker. [All Draft News, All The Time: Follow Shutdown Draft 365 on Tumblr ] So let’s take a look at the first-round draft order and examine some teams’ big, pressing needs — and implore them to wait on filling them if the right player isn’t available. 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What don’t they need? Well, certainly most of the free world believes that Jameis Winston will be their choice at No. 1 overall, so we’ll assume that the Bucs go that direction and know that they can come back and address their needs for a pass rusher or an offensive lineman (or two) later on, starting with the second pick of the second round. 2. Tennessee Titans: Do they draft Marcus Mariota? I had the Titans taking him second, but I am starting to get the idea that they’ll listen to offers from desperate teams such as the Cleveland Browns or Philadelphia Eagles, if for no other reason than to see what they might fork over. That makes this tough to project, but we can say this: There is no offensive lineman — and they still need some — or defensive back worth taking at No. 2. 3. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags are in a great spot here, able to let the top two picks play out and still likely get either Leonard Williams or a pass rusher. The need they can wait on is an offensive tackle, which could come later on. 4. Oakland Raiders: It’s looking like it is coming down to a receiver or a pass rusher, depending on what happens in free agency; Williams wouldn’t be bad, either. But as badly as they need another cornerback or an offensive lineman, this too can wait. 5. Washington Redskins: A bulldog guard with some size and grit would really help spur this run game. But you’re not drafting guards with the fifth pick too often and hitting home runs. This year is no exception. They can get their guy in Round 2 and still find a starter. 6. New York Jets: Broken record here. Cornerback and offensive tackle are two spots they’d love to fill in the draft. But taking D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s eventual replacement shouldn’t come with the sixth pick, no matter what happens in the top five. 7. Chicago Bears: For all of their defensive needs (and they have plenty), the Bears also have a sneaky shortcoming at wide receiver — especially if Brandon Marshall doesn’t figure into their plans. But with this draft class, some good receivers will be pushed down, maybe even into Rounds 3 and 4. 8. Atlanta Falcons: With the way the Falcons are cutting veterans left and right, their needs grow — proportionally to the speculation that they might be players in free agency. So it’s tricky to say which needs will be filled in late April and which won’t. But based on our best speculation, it would be unlikely for the Falcons to go the veteran free-agent route to add a running back, which they need, and more likely they’ll mine one from the draft. And we know it won’t be at No. 8. Could they steal Melvin Gordon at No. 41 overall? Get lucky to land Jay Ajayi near the top of Round 3? They might. 9. New York Giants: Is this too high to take an offensive tackle? We would understand the thinking if they went that route. A pass rusher? That we certainly can get on board with, assuming there’s still one worth taking (Vic Beasley? Bud Dupree?) still on the board. But we would implore the Giants to resist their defensive back need here, even if you’re talking Landon Collins or Trae Waynes or whomever. It just feels a bit too high for that position. 10. St. Louis Rams: Tricky spot to forecast here. They might need a receiver, and what if, say, either Kevin White or Amari Cooper slip? They might have to pounce. Offensive line looms as a sore spot still, and it wouldn’t be offensive to start (or continue) the run at that position for the right player. But a tight end? A cornerback? A quarterback? We say pass here. 11. Minnesota Vikings: This all changes if Adrian Peterson isn’t back, but we’re still not on board — yet — with Todd Gurley going at this point, even though, boy, what a potential replacement he might be. The beautiful thing seems to be that most of the team’s main needs (offensive line, cornerback, receiver) have players who could fit into this range. But linebacker, especially the kind they need, shouldn’t be the choice here. They can find one or two later on. 12. Cleveland Browns: Predicting Browns behavior is risky business, and we don’t recommend it for the faint of heart. But one thing is for certain: Taking a quarterback — assuming Marcus Mariota doesn’t embark on an Aaron Rodgers-esque slide — doesn’t feel wise. We’ll stop there for now, with the Browns back on the clock seven picks down the chain. 13. New Orleans Saints: You might be surprised to read how much we think the Saints need to consider a quarterback, and perhaps relatively high, too. But not here. No way. They can land a good pass rusher or cornerback at this spot and wait on QB. Maybe Garrett Grayson in the third? 14. Miami Dolphins: Our thinking here is that they could address the receiver position if someone like DeVante Parker remains undrafted, or perhaps nabbing a cornerback, although we’re bearish on the top-end talent. Same with linebacker. And they drafted an offensive lineman in Round 1 a year ago — would they go back and take another one this high? 15. San Francisco 49ers: I believe they’ll draft a quarterback. Boy, they’d rock the boat with a Brett Hundley pick, wouldn’t they? It’s not likely, but it’s fun to ponder. They also need receivers, offensive and defensive linemen, cornerbacks and a tight end. That last position can be filled down the line. 16. Houston Texans: Yes, we’d love to see long-term clarity at the QB spot, but Hundley and Bryce Petty are no-nos here. Solve the cornerback/wide receiver/offensive line issue instead. A sleeper first-round position could be nose tackle, unless they suddenly feel better about Louis Nix III. 17. San Diego Chargers: If a pass rusher fell here, they could grab him and help fill the veteran voids of Dwight Freeney and/or Jarrett Johnson, even with Jeremiah Attaochu in the wings. An offensive or defensive lineman could work here, too. But a running back — even if Ryan Mathews leaves — can wait. This draft is loaded at the position. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/post-nfl-combine-two-round-mock-draft-155706803.html 18. Kansas City Chiefs: No, we’re not going to further alienate our Chiefs readers by suggesting they pass on a wide receiver here (as we did in our most recent mock draft). An offensive lineman makes perfect sense as well. A corner would be OK if the right-sized and skilled player is here. But a linebacker can wait for later on in the draft. 19. Browns (from the Buffalo Bills): It all depends on what happens at 12. Heck, they could trade these two picks for Mariota for all we know. The only positions we’d urge them to wait on would be a linebacker or a tight end (if Jordan Cameron is gone). 20. Philadelphia Eagles: Like the Browns, we’re not super keen on them going quarterback here, short of finding a way to get up for Mariota. Corner and offensive line, if they stay here, would be two areas to consider. But safety would be a reach, even with Landon Collins fitting the Brian Dawkins-like physical mold. This Eagles defense relies on range, which might not be Collins’ forte. 21. Cincinnati Bengals: No kickers here, please! We’re only half kidding. Same with quarterback, even though we’d love to provide some Andy Dalton alternatives for the future. We feel confident they can find a linebacker, pass rusher, defensive back or receiver here whose value makes more sense. 22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Will there be a pass rusher worth taking at 22? Too early to tell. We think there will be a corner or a defensive lineman they like in this spot if not. Certainly, there’s zero need to add a running back now, even with Le’Veon Bell’s looming two-game suspension and zero reliable depth behind him. That can wait — perhaps even until Day 3 of the draft. 23. Detroit Lions: Releasing Reggie Bush means they could use another running back. But please, for all that is right, don’t start projecting them to take Gurley or Gordon. It’s not happening here. We’d love them to help out the offensive line, or the defensive line if they can’t keep Ndamukong Suh and/or Nick Fairley. 24. Arizona Cardinals: Funny to say for an offensively limited team by season’s end, but there might actually be more tangible needs on the defensive side of the ball — perhaps with all three levels needing some help. The inside linebacker can wait. We actually would be on board with taking Gurley here, too; that might be a fantastic move. 25. Carolina Panthers: Doesn’t this have to be an offensive tackle here? If not, maybe a receiver, but they did take Kelvin Benjamin in Round 1 last year, making it less likely in our minds. A cornerback would be better addressed later, we think, but the top ones will go quickly in this range. 26. Baltimore Ravens: This is a team that stands to lose some players for monetary reasons, and of their clear needs right now, we think they might be forced to wait on an outside rusher until later in the draft. It’s unlikely the right fit will be here at this spot, and there are plenty of other spots they can address nicely with the talent expected to be available here. 27. Dallas Cowboys: They could use another tight end to replace Jason Witten one day, and as much as Maxx Williams reminds us of Witten, we say pass here. There are a surprising number of areas that could improve on this 12-4 squad. 28. Denver Broncos: Like we’ve said above, the linebacker crop is not chock full of top-end talent, so this is a position they might be able to hit the snooze bar on for a round unless a top talent such as Shaq Thompson slides unexpectedly. 29. Indianapolis Colts: They need a safety, but if Collins is gone … we say wait. There might only be another one or two worth taking in the first 75 picks of the draft or so. We also think drafting a running back this high might not be the wisest move. Get another offensive lineman or a pass rusher instead. 30. Green Bay Packers: Why is everyone panicking about inside linebacker? Yes, Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk are gone, but that’s not a first-round position in this defense, we don’t believe. Ted Thompson is among the strictest best-player-available drafters in the game. We think he’ll look elsewhere. 31. Seattle Seahawks: Wide receiver is tempting, but the depth of this class suggests they might be able to be patient and wait; besides, they traded down and made Paul Richardson their top pick a year ago, even if he is coming off a torn ACL. 32. New England Patriots: Why does everyone want them to draft a receiver so high? They never have used a first-rounder on one under Bill Belichick, and they likely won’t start now. The offensive and defensive lines make more sense to address. The receiver can wait. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
AP sources: Bills, Browns in talks with quarterback McCown (The Associated Press)
Free-agent quarterback Josh McCown has at least two suitors in the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns. A person familiar with talks told The Associated Press on Thursday that McCown has had contract discussions with both teams. A second person, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said earlier that McCown was negotiating with Buffalo. The negotiations began after the 35-year-old spent the previous two days visiting the Browns.
Raiders to release S Tyvon Branch (The Associated Press)
The Oakland Raiders will release safety Tyvon Branch before the start of the new league year next month. The team told Branch of the plans Thursday to cut ties with one of Oakland's longest-tenured non-specialists. Branch joined the Raiders with running backs Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece. The only other players on the roster with more continuous service are kicker Sebastian Janikowski and long snapper Jon Condo.
Shaun King's mock draft 1.0: QB Marcus Mariota falls to Bears (Yahoo Sports)
The Bears have outstanding offensive skill-position personnel which will make Mariota's transition easier.
AP source: Quarterback Josh McCown visiting Browns (The Associated Press)
Veteran free-agent quarterback Josh McCown spent a second day with the Browns, who could keep him around on a more permanent basis. McCown, released last week by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was at the Browns' facility on Wednesday, a person familiar with the visit told The Associated Press. McCown arrived on Tuesday to speak with the QB-deficient Browns, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not revealing plans during its quarterback search. The 35-year-old McCown could be the next option for a team that has spent the past 15 years looking for a passer to return them to prominence.
Council OKs Los Angeles-area stadium backed by Rams owner (The Associated Press)
The Inglewood City Council late Tuesday night approved plans to build a football stadium that includes St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke as a partner, clearing a path for a return to the Los Angeles area of the NFL for the first time in two decades. Meany has emphasized that the plan does not include any taxpayer dollars.
Lawmakers approve new Los Angeles stadium plan: report (Reuters)
(Reuters) - Lawmakers on Tuesday night approved plans to build a new Los Angeles area football stadium, the Los Angeles Times reported, days after two NFL teams in California proposed constructing a shared arena near the city. The Inglewood City Council voted unanimously in favor of the 80,000-seat stadium planned as part of a larger mixed-use development project for the Hollywood Park site, the newspaper reported. Stan Kroenke, who owns the St. Louis Rams which played in Los Angeles before relocating to the Midwest some 20 years ago, is among the developers behind the estimated $1.86 billion stadium, the Times reported. Last Thursday, the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders proposed a plan that would have the teams share a new stadium in the Los Angeles-area city of Carson if they fail to solve their current venue dilemmas.
Raiders sign K Giorgio Tavecchio (The Associated Press)
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Raiders have signed free-agent kicker Giorgio Tavecchio.
NFL mock draft: Projecting the first two rounds after the combine (Shutdown Corner)
Connecting the dots on a mock draft three weeks before the start of free agency proves to be difficult, especially with more health and workout information needed on a few key injured draft prospects. But we’ll take a crack with the NFL scouting combine in the rearview mirror and the bulk of the draft information in the tank. Here’s how we think the first two rounds looks as things stand now. 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers  — Florida State QB Jameis Winston Head coach Lovie Smith says he’s OK with Winston’s character, which would be the only real roadblock to welcoming him in the building. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter won’t have to dig deep in his playbook to find a system that fits Winston’s skills, having coached similar physical types in Byron Leftwich and Matt Ryan in Jacksonville and Atlanta, respectively. The stars are starting to line up for this marriage. [All Draft News, All The Time: Follow Shutdown Draft 365 on Tumblr ] 2. Tennessee Titans — Oregon QB Marcus Mariota Our best comp for Mariota since last fall has been Alex Smith, who has been a good but hardly transcendent quarterback. Mariota’s strong workouts this weekend only reinforce that. Titans OC Jason Michael spent two years as Smith’s QB coach in San Francisco and certainly can draw on that experience to find a way to get the best from Mariota. Are we certain Mariota will go second? No, but the Titans’ lukewarm defense of Zach Mettenberger in Indy makes us think this could happen. Otherwise, the Titans might be open for business at No. 2 if the right team blows them away with a trade offer. 3. Jacksonville Jaguars — USC DT Leonard Williams The Daytona Beach native might be the perfect force player for Gus Bradley’s defense, even if an interior player isn’t the most pressing need. Who cares? Williams might be the cleanest prospect available and could give the Jaguars another horse up front to control the action.
San Diego mayor, Chargers owner meet to talk stadium plans (The Associated Press)
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos met on Sunday and afterward announced that a mayor's advisory committee will speed up its work and present a stadium plan to the team within three months that could keep it from moving to the Los Angeles area. The one-hour morning meeting at the Padres' Petco Park came after a surprise announcement last week that the Chargers and Oakland Raiders are planning a joint stadium in Carson outside Los Angeles if they fail to get stadium deals in their hometowns.
National Football League roundup (Reuters)
(The Sports Xchange) - Mercurial linebacker Rolando McClain faces a four-game fine for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, sources told ESPN.com. McClain, a pending free agent after posting 81 tackles in 12 games for the Dallas Cowboys last season, is appealing the fine. The eighth overall pick in 2010 by the Oakland Raiders, McClain retired after the 2013 season. He changed his mind and signed with the Baltimore Ravens last offseason, but decided to retire again.
Futures Deals (Rotoworld)
Nick Mensio keeps track of all the reserve/future contracts signed around the NFL.
Three NFL teams in Los Angeles? Not viable, experts say (The Associated Press)
Los Angeles is the hottest market for new stadiums in the country - and the NFL teams that could come with them - but the possibility that three teams will kick off in the region is a football fantasy, experts say. The Oakland Raiders, the San Diego Chargers and the St. Louis Rams each have gained a foothold in the LA area. The Raiders and Chargers announced Thursday that they are planning a shared stadium in Carson, in the Los Angeles suburbs, if both teams fail to get new stadiums in their current hometowns.
Column: Which NFL team going to LA? The envelope, please (The Associated Press)
These days, Hollywood's most riveting drama is still in development, playing out among three NFL teams. At some point in the not-so-distant future, Commissioner Roger Goodell will have to decide which of these projects gets the green light. How Goodell handles this plot twist will go a long way toward determining whether he's worth that $44 million annual salary to the people who pay it - his bosses, the 32 NFL owners. ''The primary thing that a commissioner is charged with doing is asset appreciation,'' said Rick Burton, a professor of sports management at Syracuse University and former commissioner of the Australian National Basketball League.
Chargers, Raiders discuss possible L.A. move (AFP)
The Chargers and Raiders have raised the prospect of not one but two NFL teams returning to Los Angeles with a proposal for a shared stadium in suburban Carson. San Diego's Chargers and Oakland's Raiders said they had been working together to develop a proposal for a privately funded $1.7 billion stadium -- but would only implement the plan if they can't work out suitable stadium deals in their current cities. "We remain committed to continuing to work in our home markets throughout 2015 to try to find publicly acceptable solutions to the long-term stadium issue.
San Diego mayor is not too happy with the Chargers and their L.A. plan (Shutdown Corner)
The San Diego Chargers' threat to move to Los Angeles has moved into the all-important phase of politicians being publicly angered. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune , San Diego mayor Kevin Faulcone r said the city and fans were deceived by the team when it suddenly announced plans to build a stadium with the Oakland Raiders near Los Angeles if it doesn't get its own stadium deal done in San Diego. We've all heard this song and dance before in other cities, but let's run it back for San Diego and Faulconer. "The Chargers weren't being up front with San Diegans, they weren't being up front with their fans...That's not how you get things done," Faulconer said to the Union-Tribune. "We deserve an honest dialogue. What we saw speaks volumes about the true intentions and about what's been happening over the last few weeks." Sounds bad, right? The Chargers are goners for sure now that they've deceived the mayor and the fans, no? No. "I'm more committed than ever to get this done" in San Diego, Faulconer told the Union-Tribune. "San Diegans deserve for the team to stay here." The NFL's Los Angeles bluff, which it has been running at a 100 percent success rate for 20 years, is really aggressive this time. The joint statement between two teams with the stadium renderings for Carson, Calif., was a unique touch. Now they have two cities feeling pressure to get taxpayer money to fund a new stadium for incredibly rich owners. The people of San Diego HAVE to pay for a stadium now ... the Chargers showed actual stadium renderings, so they're serious folks !!! Again, if the NFL wanted a team in Los Angeles, there would have been a team in Los Angeles long ago. The league prints money; it can afford to get that done. Now three teams are playing the L.A. card, because the Rams have their own separate bluff going on to get a new stadium in St. Louis. Whether there's actually a team in Los Angeles anytime soon is another thing because it wouldn't surprise anyone if there are magically new plans in these cities to keep the teams there and keep the Los Angeles market open for the next time an NFL team needs leverage to extort tax dollars from its city for a new stadium. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab
Dorial Green-Beckham is the wild card in another great WR class (Shutdown Corner)
INDIANAPOLIS – Dorial Green-Beckham is a wild card in this draft, particularly in the receiver class. On talent alone, he might be a top-five pick. He’s 6-foot-5, 237 pounds. Calvin Johnson was 6-5, 239 at his scouting combine, for comparison. Green-Beckham showed flashes of his immense talent at Missouri. He also carries enough red flags for everyone to see from miles away. He was kicked out of Missouri for multiple off-field incidents for marijuana and a domestic violence incident, although he was not charged for the latter after the alleged victim declined to press charges. He sat out all of last season at the University of Oklahoma after transferring. The former No. 1 recruit out of high school said he has matured (Dr. Saturday's Graham Watson discusssed Green-Beckham's past and him trying to move on from it here ) and insisted he won’t be a problem anymore. “ Because I know what’s at stake,” Green-Beckham said. “I know what type of person I am and I understand what the NFL is looking for me as a person and I just want them to know I’m going to go out there and give them my all and focus on being the best player I can be. ” The character concerns are there, but they were there with players like Randy Moss and Dez Bryant, and how many teams would like a do-over on them? [All Draft News, All The Time: Follow Shutdown Draft 365 on Tumblr ] The thing about Green-Beckham is that if teams don’t want to take a big risk and use an early pick on him, there are plenty of other talented (and safer) receivers to pick from. This might not be the 2014 rookie receiver class, a group that class looks like it will go down in history as one of the best of any unit in NFL history. But this one is really good, too. Amari Cooper of Alabama and Kevin White of West Virginia will battle to be the top wideout, and either could go as high as No. 4 to the Oakland Raiders. DeVante Parker of Louisville is probably a first-round lock. Green-Beckham, Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong, Michigan’s Devin Funchess, Auburn’s Sammie Coates, UCF’s Breshad Perriman, Miami’s Phillip Dorsett and Ohio State’s Devin Smith are among the others who could be drafted in the top two rounds. “It's pretty darn deep, the wide receiver group,” said Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman, whose team drafted Kelvin Benjamin in the first round last year and could be in the market for another receiver early in this year’s draft. “All shapes and sizes, whatever you're looking for you should find be able to find and you're going to get value.” It’s a passing league, and between this rookie receiver class and last year’s class, there will be a lot of talented guys to pass to for years to come. And seeing the rookies last year produce right away should give NFL teams confidence that more immediate contributors are available, and it helps the 2015 rookie receivers too. “I think it gave me a lot of confidence because a lot of those guys who were making those plays as rookie receivers were in my class, graduated the same year of high school,” Smith said. “It gave me a lot of confidence to know that if they can do it, I can do it as well.” There’s a diversity in the receiver class, with super-sized wideouts like Green-Beckham and Funchess, long and lanky ones like White and Parker, an extremely productive college player like Cooper who should be an immediate NFL starter, speedsters like Dorsett and Coates and deep threats like Smith, who averaged 28.2 yards last season for Ohio State. “That’s what teams need. They need guys who can go and get it,” Smith said. “I think I have that ability."  Any team with a receiver need shouldn't have any problems finding one in this draft. There are plenty of good ones to choose from once again. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab
Thursday's Sports In Brief (The Associated Press)
Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat underwent testing at a hospital to assess a medical issue related to the area around his lungs, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. PHOENIX (AP) - The Phoenix Suns' three point-guard experiment is over. In the third trade, the Suns sent a third point guard, rookie Tyler Ennis, who rarely plays, to the Milwaukee Bucks, along with forward-center Miles Plumlee.
Your Top Plays for Today (The Associated Press)
Your Top Plays for Today: AP's Sports Guide
Raiders, Chargers plan possible shared Los Angeles-area home (The Associated Press)
The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers are planning a shared stadium in the Los Angeles area if both teams fail to get new stadium deals in their current hometowns, the teams said in a joint statement Thursday night, adding another layer of complexity to a possible NFL return to the region. The proposed $1.7-billion stadium would be in Carson, 15 miles south of downtown Los Angeles and home to the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team. The statement says the teams have tried and failed for years to find stadium solutions in Oakland and San Diego, and without new agreements in those cities their hands will be forced. ''If we cannot find a permanent solution in our home markets, we have no alternative but to preserve other options to guarantee the future economic viability of our franchises.'' The plan creates the odd prospect of divisional rivals suddenly sharing a home field, and of Los Angeles having two NFL teams after going two decades with none.
Report: Chargers, Raiders joining forces on shared stadium bid in L.A. (Shutdown Corner)
AFC West rivals, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, both frustrated with their home-city stadium situations, have decided to join forces on a Los Angeles stadium bid in case things don't work out in their current digs, according to an incredible report from the Los Angeles Times' Sam Farmer. The Chargers and Raiders are working together to develop a proposal for a privately financed Los Angeles-area venue and plan to immediately seek a ballot initiative to get the voter support needed for it to be built. The two teams issued a joint statement to The Times: “We are pursuing this stadium option in Carson for one straightforward reason: If we cannot find a permanent solution in our home markets, we have no alternative but to preserve other options to guarantee the future economic viability of our franchises.” The $1.7 billion NFL stadium in Carson, Calif. would break ground on a  168-acre site near the intersection of the 405 Freeway and Del Amo Boulevard. The tandem-team effort is joining forces with “Carson2gether,” a group of local business and labor leaders. What prompted the move? In December, when St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke  announced plans to build an 80,000-seat stadium near the old Hollywood Park — land Kroenke owns — the Chargers and Raiders knew they had to act fast. The Chargers have a strong fan base in Los Angeles, and the cash-strapped Raiders would not have the funding to build their own stadium. The New York Jets and New York Giants are the only two NFL teams that currently share a stadium — MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. All three teams — the Chargers, Raiders and Rams — are facing dire stadium situations in their local markets, with year-to-year leases for their current stadiums and facing the strong likelihood that no new stadiums will be built for them using public funding. The NFL has stringent relocation rules in place, and green-lighting such a move would require voting support from 24 of the 32 teams' owners. The Chargers and Raiders say they have informed the league's relocation committee of all of their movements throughout the process and will continue doing so. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced at the Super Bowl that no team would relocate this year. If approved, the valuation of an NFL franchise could increase significantly, although the relocation fees also would be steep. Los Angeles hasn't had an NFL team since 1994, when both the Raiders and Rams left town. Now there exists the possibility that the city could land two franchises — and rivals that would share the same stadium to boot. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm