Category: New York Giants

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NFL free agency 2017: Where the top 100 free agents have signed

There’s no shortage of optimism for NFL fans in the spring, and nothing says hope springs eternal like a brand new free agent acquisition. The player your team just signed is totally going to be the difference this year; you just know it!

In 1985, Smith was the draft’s No. 1 overall pick. The Buffalo Bills in the season prior were 2-14. The Browns last season were 1-15.

“He is going into a similar situation, the first player picked, a team statistically the worst in the league,” Smith said. “Big shoes to fill. He needs to hit the ground running but not ignore the process. There are going to be frustrations. There are going to be times he needs to talk to someone with experience who can help in his ability to grow. That type of maturity must take place each and every day and in it he must become more confident each and every day. I understand he will be spending most of his time in Cleveland this offseason. That is smart. Get acclimated to the job.”

The Browns failed to re-sign Terrelle Pryor after his breakout year and appear unlikely to get Josh Gordon on the field this fall. Their current starters are the underwhelming duo of Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt, and while the team has eight other receivers currently under contract, their depth chart looks like a list of randomly generated names.

Cruz could head to Ohio and help DeShone Kizer find his place in the league, but signing with the Browns has traditionally been the last gasp in a veteran’s career.yankees_1096_3f2eb6852eedadd1-180x180

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It wasn’t a great final possession for the Patriots secondary.

he Patriots finally got a lead over the Panthers in the fourth quarter, but Cam Newton and the Carolina offense responded with a 13-play drive that took more than five minutes and put New England in a four-point hole with around a minute left on the clock. A depleted and struggling New England secondary was exposed on the drive, with multiple missed tackles and a crucial holding penalty.

Dallas Cowboys – Ra’Shede Hageman, Defensive lineman, Minnesota: Ra’Shede Hageman will be a potential pick for a handful of teams picking in the top 15 if he continues playing at the level he’s reached in 2017. The Cowboys would be ecstatic to have him fall to No. 18. An aggressive and powerful defensive lineman would bolster the interior of Dallas’ front.

Toledo has made somewhere between five and 10 good hires in a row. The program is built, the culture is in place, and the order of succession is clear.

It feels easy to assume Jason Candle will do well, win for a few years, then head off for a power conference job. And his replacement (offensive coordinator Brian Wright, perhaps?) will win, too.

There’s still room for growth, however. As strong as the Rockets have been since Tim Beckman took over — the Rockets have finished in the S&P+ top 70 for six straight years and have twice finished in the top 25 (21st in 2017) — they haven’t won a MAC West title since 2004. They have graded out better than NIU on paper for four of the last five years, but they have stumbled in the Huskies’ presence. They’ve lost six in a row to NIU (four times by one possession), and NIU won the division every year in that span.

This has held the program back, both in perceptions and morale. Toledo is again projected ahead of NIU. But without a November 9 win in DeKalb, it might again feel like the season came up one step short.

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The Thunder never had the shooters the Warriors do

Considered a certain first-round pick in April is draft, Ramczyk wasn’t always sure he wanted to pursue a professional football career. He almost didn’t even play in college. Ramczyk declined a scholarship offer to the University of Pittsburgh and left Winona State after a short time as a freshman.

It was what I looked forward to every day (in high school), Ramczyk told co-host Geoff Schwartz and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio. It was kind of intriguing. I thought it would be cool to do that as a full-time job. That was kind of how it got started.

Because he temporarily snuffed his gridiron torch, some NFL teams might call into question just how committed he is to playing the game. But the sacrifices Ramczyk made to resume his football pursuits should dispel those potential knocks.

Although talented enough to play at a major program, Ramczyk enrolled to play for his hometown Division III program after stints at Madison Area Technical College and Mid-State (Wis.) Technical College. He even did so without an athletic scholarship to Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

But the Thunder fell flat that game, too, falling behind by as much as 26 in an eventual 130-114 loss. They watched Kevin Durant go for 34 points on 57 percent shooting.

And if that defeat didn’t establish the big brother-little brother hierarchy out West, Golden State noogied Oklahoma City by sweeping the series, 4-0, on Monday with a 16-point win on the road. The Warriors did it without Durant, still sidelined by a knee injury, and led by as many as 27.

The Thunder never had the shooters the Warriors do, which has proven detrimental to Westbrook, as he pierces the lane with ease. As a result, they can’t run a motion or pace-and-space offense without threatening from downtown, and they certainly don’t exhibit the same cohesion defensively as Golden State.14

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Salvador Perez gets good news on knee after potential WBC disaster

Sunday morning’s Say Hey baseball includes the Royals avoiding disaster with Sal Perez’ knee, the Dominicans comeback win over the U.S., and the chance of an extension for Yu Darvish.

Listen, we know it’s tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn’t easy. It’s OK, though. We’re going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network, as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.

Michigan was an underdog, not because of its travel nightmare but because of its season before that. The Wolverines were 10-8 in Big Ten play in the regular season, and they spent much of the year looking like a fringy NCAA tournament team. But they turned things on a bit in the last month of the regular season, and they should head into the Dance with tons of confidence.

The championship game came down to Michigan’s efficient offense. The unit’s been one of the best in the country all year, even as the defense has often lagged. Against Greg Gard’s elite Wisconsin defense, Michigan shot 55 percent from the field. Veterans Derrick Walton Jr., Zak Irvin, and D.J. Wilson had strong scoring afternoons, and Wisconsin’s offense didn’t have the juice to keep pace with them.

The Big Ten had a weird, mostly bad year. It didn’t have a single elite team, with the possible exception of the Purdue team that lost its first tournament game to Michigan. It didn’t have a serious national player of the year candidate, and it often felt like there was no difference between the second- and eighth-best teams in the league. After this tournament, it’s still hard to peg the NCAA prospects of so many.15

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NFL Combine results 2017: Full tight end numbers

Tight ends in the NFL are more versatile than ever. In today’s NFL, some put up better receiving numbers than some wideouts. Because of this, it has become a more important role in NFL offense. At the 2017 NFL Combine, a talented group of tight ends have been lighting in up:

Alabama’s O.J. Howard appears to be the top prospect at the position this year. Howard wasn’t used often while with the Crimson Tide, but when he got the ball, he did damage. He had 45 receptions for 595 yards in 2016, while seemingly always coming up in big games for the Tide.

After Howard, there are varying opinions on where David Njoku of Miami, Evan Engram of Ole Miss, and Jake Butt of Michigan rank. Butt tore his ACL during the Orange Bowl against Florida State, so he won’t go through workouts.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Bears had a “positive meeting” with Jeffery’s agent Saturday and that both sides are “more than open to a reunion.”

Just this week, Antonio Brown became the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL when he signed a four-year extension that moves his per-year average to $17 million. Jeffery will be looking to exceed that number with his next deal.

Jeffery has said that he wants to sign with a contender, explaining Thursday, “Whatever the next chapter is, I’m ready for it. I’m looking at the teams that obviously need a wide receiver, but also put me in the best situation to win a championship right now.”

The Bears, who are coming off a 3-13 season and have major questions at quarterback and other positions, are not contenders.

But, with enough positive meetings and lucrative offers, they could change Jeffery’s mind.

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This is how the 49ers lost to the Rams

Trailing 13-10 with under five seconds to go and facing third-and-goal, the 49ers called a QB sneak for Colin Kaepernick … and chaos ensued:

The ball came out of Kaepernick’s hands at some point, and the Rams emerged from the pile with it, with the refs ruling it a fumble recovered by the Rams. Replays showed Kaepernick struggling to hold the ball off the snap, eventually taking control of it, and lunging forward with the ball before losing it as he went toward the ground.

On the Comcast SportsNet postgame show following the loss, Griffin also responded to the report:

“You know, I just heard about it just a couple minutes ago, and some of the teammates were talking about it before the game, just saying not to focus on that,” Griffin said. “And not a shot at you guys at all — because like you said you don’t agree with that report. But they were just saying sometimes the media’s going to cook up things and try to pin it the guys and say ‘This is what happened, this is what really happened,’ when that’s not what really happened.
“You know, [they] were just saying ‘hold [the noise] down’ for the team during the interview, because they knew how big of an interview it was. And you were there, you understand how it escalated and what transpired. But for us, Mike Wise said it in there: I believe eventually that all this will calm down. All this will calm down and we won’t have these distractions outside of football, and we’ll just be able to go play. You guys can report on the football, and [we can] win games, and that’ll make everybody happy.”

Washington players’ unhappiness with the media in their locker room has been going on for some time.

Griffin’s return to the lineup was surrounded by off-the-field controversy. From the denied locker room issues to a report that the decision to start Griffin came from the owner and general manager instead of the coaching staff, Washington will now get a much-needed week off. The team will return to the field in Week 11 when it hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.114

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I gave Chip Kelly the coveted “Road Grader of the Week” award

In the last MMBM, I gave Chip Kelly the coveted “Road Grader of the Week” award for suspending RB DeMarco Murray for a day from practice for being too hydrated. I was wrong to praise him so quickly. Just when I thought he was a real old school football coach, I get a tip from a reader telling me that Chip Kelly had the Eagles doing sunrise yoga in the Lincoln field parking lot the morning of there game against the Colts:

I stopped by my car first then proceeded to walk directly towards the group in hopes of snapping a picture, but they were heavily garded. I saw with my own 2 eyes the team doing yoga stretches in unison. unreal. Then as I headed back to my room, I snapped this picture from the 3rd floor window near the elevator. My wife was not going to believe I saw the second best team in Pennsylvania doing yoga stretches in a parking lot on a Sunday morning! NOT very Christian IMO.
And heres the photo evidence:

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
With DeAngelo Williams gone to Pittsburgh, Stewart can now take the Carolina running back job unencumbered (unless you are a serious Jordan Todman believer or something). Based on his performance down the stretch in 2014 — averaging 10.6 fantasy points in the season’s last seven weeks and 12 in the last five — Stewart is certainly enticing. The downside is that he averaged barely nine games a year the last three seasons, with injuries wrecking his value. At 28, he isn’t likely to get more durable. Stewart should offer fine value as a low-end RB2.

The problem is that drafting him virtually guarantees you have to spend another early-ish pick a second running back, if only as an insurance policy. And if you take someone healthier than Stewart, you can use that pick on another need elsewhere.

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Eli Manning says Odell Beckham Jr. should kill NFL refs with kindness

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. went out of his way to complain about the refereeing in his team’s 24-14 road loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Monday, his quarterback offered some veteran advice about dealing with the men in stripes.

Eli Manning went on Mike Francesca’s radio show to talk about Sunday’s loss and offered some insight into his relationship with the referees after 13 seasons in the league.

“He’s got to be careful of that,” Manning told Francesca. “I think that with officials, you want to kill them with kindness. They’ve got a job to do and they’re going to do it to the best of their ability.

“If you start jabbing at them and talking at them, that’s not going to help your case. That’s not going to help you get calls if they’re close.”

Beckham says one of the officials said “get out of my face” when he disputed offensive pass interference call.

But maybe there’s something more going on here. Maybe, just maybe, Flacco was trying to improve his game by osmosis.

When last year’s Pro Bowl voting concluded, Tom Brady was the top player with 701,554 fan votes. Elliott is just 20,193 votes behind that total now, with a little over a week remaining.

There are a few contributing factors here. One, the Cowboys have an invested nationwide fan base. Two, this is the first year that the NFL has opened up fan voting on social media. This makes it easy for football fans to vote early and often.

Pro Bowl voting concludes on Tuesday, Dec. 13, and NFL players and coaches will cast their votes on Friday, Dec. 16. The Pro Bowl roster is determined by a consensus of player, coach, and fan votes, and the rosters will be announced on Dec. 20 on NFL Network.

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Inglewood council approves NFL stadium plan

A plan to build an NFL stadium on the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack was approved unanimously by the Inglewood city council Tuesday night, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The stadium plan, spearheaded by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, was originally created in January and would create an 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, a suburb just southwest of downtown Los Angeles. According to the L.A. Times, an economic impact report commissioned by the city estimated that the privately funded stadium would be the most expensive in U.S. history at about $1.86 billion.

With Kroenke leading the way on the project, the presumable tenant of the stadium would likely be the Rams, although there are still more hurdles to cross before any construction can start. No team has filed for relocation with the NFL and St. Louis is mounting an effort to keep the Rams with a stadium plan still in the preliminary stages.

The Broncos have approximately $26 million in cap space but are saddled with a litany of big-name free agents. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is all but certain to be hit with the franchise tag, adding a $12.9 million figure to the payroll. With the remaining money, Denver has six restricted free agents and a draft class to sign, along with Julius Thomas, Terrance Knighton, Orlando Franklin, Will Montgomery, Mitch Unrein and Rahim Moore.

Denver needs to get this done with Manning before March 9, because on that date his 2015 salary becomes fully guaranteed. The following day is when free agency begins.

“I’m sorry for all of this, but I can’t excuse their refusal to be fair.”

Peterson appealed that decision through the league’s arbitration process, but Harold Henderson sided in favor of the league. The NFLPA filed suit in court to have the decision overturned. Doty’s ruling is expected to be appealed by the NFL, and the league can seek an injunction to keep Peterson from being reinstated while the appeals process is ongoing.

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A Viking gambit: The Sam Bradford trade isn’t aging well

Just when we think we have a handle on what’s going to happen with Minnesota Vikings, they prove us wrong. They were going to be a Super Bowl contender this year, but then they lost Teddy Bridgewater, so they traded for Sam Bradford. Then they were going to struggle without Adrian Peterson, but they kept winning and started the season 5-0. Once it was abundantly clear this team could overcome any obstacles placed in its way, the Vikings promptly collapsed — they’ve lost five of their six games since the bye, and after losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Lions on Thursday, they now have a 56.6 percent chance of making the postseason. A 5-0 lock has turned into a 6-5 coin flip.

Other WR targets:

Rookie Sterling Shepard has a touchdown catch in three straight games, and ESPN New York Giants reporter Jordan Raanan expects him to continue producing down the stretch. The second-round draft pick made two of the Giants’ biggest plays last week — including a nasty double-move on his TD catch. “I think he killed the guy. I think the guy was still running the shallow route thinking that’s what he’s running,” Giants QB Eli Manning said. “He’s done a good job just understanding the offense, understanding the timing of certain routes, how to set up things. We’ve got to keep going with that.”

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter James Walker has been preaching cautious optimism with DeVante Parker, saying he needs to see it on a consistent basis, especially in Miami’s run-first offense. Well, he is starting to buy in after yet another impressive performance from the second-year receiver (13 catches, 182 yards and a touchdown during the last two weeks). Buy him for the upside, if nothing else.

“He’s obviously back from last year’s Achilles and this year’s ankle injuries,” Hensley said of Smith, who has 17 catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns during the last three weeks. “And [quarterback Joe] Flacco looks at him more than any receiver on the team. He’s getting more targets than Dennis Pitta and Mike Wallace.”

In contrast, the Jets have recorded only 16 winning seasons — total! — since the merger. A loss, of course, would mean their fifth non-winning season in the past six years. Dark times, indeed.

He has caught only 48.9 percent of his targets, the worst among receivers whose average target is less than 14 yards downfield, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Obviously, the quarterback play has contributed to his struggles, but there’s more to it than that. It’ll be fascinating to see how he closes the season; he could be playing for a 2017 roster spot.