Monday, August 22, 2011

Browns lock Joe Thomas into a long term deal worth $84 million


Cleveland Browns 2010 Headshots
And Chris Johnson continues to smile.
Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, the third overall pick in the 2007 draft, has started all 64 career games in Cleveland.
The streak could be getting a lot longer.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Thomas has agreed to terms on a seven-year, $84 million extension, with $44 million guaranteed.
That’s a $12 million average on a deal that replaces the final season of Thomas’ five-year, $42.5 million contract.



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Raiders view Terrelle Pryor as a quarterback prospect


Terrelle Pryor Pro DayGetty Images
In what appears to be a fairly mild case of ESPN-on-ESPN crime, Adam Schefter reported during ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown that the Raiders view Terrelle Pryor as a quarterback prospect, and possibly as their quarterback of the future.
Earlier today, John Clayton reported that the Raiders are more interested in using Pryor at the wideout position.
We’ve got a feeling that the guy who’ll be making the final call on this one — Raiders owner Al Davis — has yet to make a decision.



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Taylor Mays traded to the Bengals


Oakland Raiders v San Francisco 49ersGetty Images
According to multiple reports, the San Francisco 49ers have traded second-year safety Taylor Mays, a former second-round pick, to the Bengals.
Former USC teammate Rey Maualuga has welcomed Mays to town via Twitter.
Mays became the odd man out after the 49ers added Madieu Williams and Donte Whitner, and after the team re-signedDashon Goldson. Coincidentally, Whitner chose the Niners after reportedly having an agreement in principle with the Bengals.
The Bears reportedly made an offer for Mays, with a plan to move him to linebacker.



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Goodell to meet with troublemakers Talib and Britt this week


Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta FalconsGetty Images
Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib and Titans receiver Kenny Britt will both be called before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week, as Goodell determines whether to discipline them for violations of the NFL’s personal-conduct policy.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Talib is scheduled to meet with Goodell at the league office in New York on Tuesday, and Britt will be there either Tuesday or Wednesday.
One league source told Schefter the players could be in line for “lengthy” suspensions.
Talib is scheduled to go on trial in 2012 on charges that he shot a gun at his sister’s ex-boyfriend. Talib’s lawyers are urging the NFL to give him the presumption of innocence, but the league’s stance in recent years has been that the presumption of innocence is something a defendant gets in the court of law, not in the court of Goodell.
Britt had multiple run-ins with the law this spring and summer and became the poster boy for problem behavior during the lockout. His next court date is September 20, but Goodell might not wait to see how the court rules before he issues his own ruling.
You could make a very strong case that players shouldn’t be subject to league discipline for activities that occurred during the lockout. But when the lockout ended, Goodell retained the right to decide for himself what kind of discipline to hand out for off-field activities. And so Talib and Britt may be in trouble with the NFL for things they did at a time when the NFL was locking them out.




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Aaron Curry's contract has been cut to four years


Wild Card Playoffs - New Orleans Saints v Seattle SeahawksGetty Images
For three of the top 11 players taken in the 2009 draft, last week was a bad, bad week.
The Bills cut Aaron Maybin (No. 11), who received a curious hero’s welcome in New York after clearing waivers.  Also, the Bengals opted not to pick up the option on tackle Andre Smith, reducing his rookie contract from six years to four.  The Bengals avoided a $4.75 million option bonus.  (Curiously, the contract didn’t have the standard “non-exercise fee,” which would have forced the Bengals to cut or trade Smith in order to avoid the payment.)
Then there Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry.  The fourth overall pick in 2009, a league source tells us that Curry recently agreed to a new deal that cuts his rookie contract from six years to four.  It will make Curry an unrestricted free agent after the 2012 season.
In return for early freedom, Curry gave up $5 million in guaranteed money that he’s due to earn in 2012.  It suggests that 2011 will be a make-or-break season for Curry.
All in all, the first 11 players taken in 2009 have had more misses than hits.  Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (No. 1 overall) has shown real potential, but he has had too many injuries.  Rams tackle Jason Smith, the second pick and presumably the new Orlando Pace, was bumped last year to the right side in 2010.  Chiefs defensive lineman Tyson Jackson has been unspectacular at No. 3 — but in light of the other guys taken around him, we now understand why G.M. Scott Pioli said in April that he’d take Tyson Jackson in that spot all over again.
Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey has been a disappointment at No. 7, and 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree hasn’t come close to living up to his potential at No. 10.



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Fantasy Football: Tight End Edition



1. Jason Witten - Jason has to be on top of this list.  There are other tight ends who produce huge points in chunks.  Yet Witten is one of the most consistent tight ends in today's game.  In each of the last three seasons he has had over 120 passes thrown his way.  During those 3 seasons he hauled in 81, 94 and 94 receptions which is ridiculous production from the tight end position.  At the end of the year he may not be the top scorer at his position, but he is the safest bet and should be off the board first.


2. Jermichael Finley - Talk about your feast or famine pick here.  Finley was poised to have a breakout year in 2010.  Experts were predicting him to have a monster season, but it was derailed by the knee injury.  He is apparently fully recovered and in great shape, but re-injury has to be somewhat of a concern for this beast.


3. Antonio Gates - Mr. Gates is an animal.  Gates dominated the Per Play Index for the tight end group last year, with an off the charts 2.126.  The only TE in his stratosphere was rookie Rob Gronkowski.  Antonio Gates could easily be the top performer this year, but he is battling plantar fascitis.  This is usually the the type of injury that just lingers around.  Now Gates is a tough dude and he will play through it, but how will it affect his performance and durability through a 16 game season?


4. Vernon Davis - Davis is possibly the most athletic and gifted of all the tight ends in the league.  Unfortunately he doesn't get much of a supporting cast in San Francisco.  Davis generated over 900 yards and 7 TDs while getting less than 100 passes even thrown his way.  That is the part that has me scratching my head.  How does a bad team not at least try to get the ball to their best player?  Considering he has been extremely durable there is no excuse for his lack of opportunities.  A meager 5.8 passes per game is the only thing holding Davis back from a higher ranking.


5. Rob Gronkowski - Talk about a rookie season.  Gronkowski teamed up with fellow Patriot Aaron Hernandez to have the most dangerous TE duo in the league.  These youngsters combined for 87 receptions, over a 1,000 yards, and 16 TDs.  Gronkowski leads the way with his stellar 1.94 PPI and you should expect that production to continue.


6. Dallas Clark - Clark is a vital cog in the Colts wheel.  Last year before his injury, Clark was on pace to have over 90 receptions, 900 yards, and 8 TDs.  Pretty awesome numbers for any tight end.  However the injury bug bit him and bit him hard last year.  Expect Clark to rebound this year, but realize he is 32 years old and is reportedly not 100% healed from the wrist injury yet.


7. Jimmy Graham - The former Miami Hurricane basketball player was supposed to be a project player.  So last year he played in 15 games, but started in 5.  With that being said the 6'6" 260lbs rookie only hauled in 31 pass for 356 yards and 5 scores.  Add that to the fact that Jeremy Shockey and his 59 targets are gone this year, and you can expect Graham to have a very productive year in pass happy New Orleans


8. Marcedes Lewis -  Regardless of who is under center, Lewis should remain a staple of the passing game. Quite honestly I don't think it is because he is elite, but that the supporting cast is very weak.  MJD will get a lot of attention as always and Mike Thomas should be coming into his own, but after that who?  Exactly my point.   I don't believe Lewis will have the same success as last year with 10 touchdowns, but he should get around 60 catches with over 600 yards and at least 6 TDs.


9.  Aaron Hernandez - Hernandez was another pleasant surprise at the tight end position last year.  As a TE that shared time with multiple guys, he made the most out of his opportunities catching 70% of the passes thrown his way, and on average scoring a TD for every 7 1/2 receptions.  As the Patriots continue to employ the multiple TE sets, expect Aaron's production to only increase.


10. Benjamin Watson - This pick may surprise some people, because the former first rounder never really put up the big numbers, in New England, that you expect of a player drafter so high.  Then there is the fact that he is 30 years old etc. etc.  Yep, but I really like Watson this year.  Last year was the statistically the best year of his career with 68 catches 763 yards and 3 TDs.  Well that could be an anomaly, why didn't he produce like that in New England?  Simple, opportunity.  Or lack there of.  In Cleveland on a young squad he got tons of opportunities, 103 to be precise.  The most of his career, and he did something with it.  Now I am not crazy about the lack of TDs, but I expect it to get better this year.  Last year Colt McCoy was just trying to survive, and when they got close enough to score, they just let Hillis do the dirty work.  This year expect them to let McCoy be the leader of offense and his role to expand.  That means more opportunities for Watson.  Also as far as age is concerned, the catch that Watson made in the preseason opener against Green Bay was beautiful.  Deep down the seem, fully extended two arms up over his head leaping and twisting to rip down the pass.  Sure did not look like a player that is showing signs of aging.


TTR's Sleeper -  *Fred Davis - Fred Davis is an intriguing young player.  When he first came into the league from USC he looked like he was going to be a bust.  Then in his second year he put up decent production, but then Cooley surpassed him in production again last year.  But if you examine the numbers a little bit, you will find out that Davis was actually more productive than 21 receptions for 316 yards and 3 scores would appear.  Davis actually netted a 1.653 PPI rating, because he only had 30 looks in the passing game.  *With Cooley's production dropping and his health concerns rising, Freddie may be forced into a more prominent role.  When this happens, the Skins will actually be better for it.


Not Top 10 - Chris Cooley - Some people would look at Cooley and say that it is absurd to say his production is falling after snatching 77 balls last year and over 800 yards.  In a PPR format league he could still be productive, but only scoring 3 touchdowns hurts his value.  And it is not for lack of opportunities, Chris had 126 passes thrown his way resulting in a poor PPI of 0.816.  To further compound the issue is the concerns with his knee injury expected to linger sometime into the season.  I would not look at Cooley as a #1 TE in any league.



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Preseason Week 3 Schedule


Preseason Week 3
Thu, Aug 25StadiumTime (ET)TicketsNetworkDIRECTVSIRIUSWestwood One
CAR @ CINPaul Brown Stadium7:00 PMTickets  85 (CAR)   93 (CIN)   
CLE @ PHILincoln Financial Field7:30 PMTickets  94 (CLE)   92 (PHI)   
WAS @ BALM&T Bank Stadium8:00 PMTicketsESPN  113 (WAS)   88 (BAL)   
Fri, Aug 26StadiumTime (ET)TicketsNetworkDIRECTVSIRIUSWestwood One
STL @ KCArrowhead Stadium8:00 PMTickets  92 (STL)   93 (KC)   
GB @ INDLucas Oil Stadium8:00 PMTicketsCBS  94 (GB)   88 (IND)   
Sat, Aug 27StadiumTime (ET)TicketsNetworkDIRECTVSIRIUSWestwood One
JAC @ BUFRalph Wilson Stadium7:00 PMTickets  135 (BUF)   
NYJ @ NYGNew Meadowlands Stadium7:00 PMTickets  93 (NYJ)   88 (NYG)   
ATL @ PITHeinz Field7:30 PMTickets  127 (ATL)   85 (PIT)   
MIA @ TBRaymond James Stadium7:30 PMTickets  137 (MIA)   134 (TB)   
CHI @ TENLP Field8:00 PMTickets  112 (CHI)   106 (TEN)   
DAL @ MINMall of America Field8:00 PMTickets  128 (DAL)   131 (MIN)   
HOU @ SFCandlestick Park8:00 PMTickets  104 (HOU)   117 (SF)   
NE @ DETFord Field8:00 PMTicketsCBS  139 (NE)   92 (DET)   
SEA @ DENINVESCO Field at Mile High9:00 PMTickets  149 (SEA)   91 (DEN)   
SD @ ARIUniversity of Phoenix Stadium10:00 PMTickets  93 (SD)   88 (ARI)   
Sun, Aug 28StadiumTime (ET)TicketsNetworkDIRECTVSIRIUSWestwood One
NO @ OAKO.co Coliseum8:00 PMTicketsNBC  92 (NO)   88 (OAK)   



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NFL to end Raiders and Niners preseason tradition over violence


Kendall Hunter, Walter McFadden, Darryl BlackstockAP
The fan-on-fan violence that marred Saturday’s game between the Raiders and 49ers will result in the NFL to stop scheduling the teams to play each other in the preseason.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury-News reports that the 49ers and Raiders will end their annual exhibition game. The local police strongly support ending the preseason rivalry, Kawakami reports.
It’s a shame that the actions of a handful of fans are going to end an annual preseason game that tens of thousands of fans have attended without causing any trouble, but if the local police think Raiders and 49ers fans can’t be controlled around each other, then canceling the annual tradition of having them play each other is probably the right move.
Of course, the Raiders and 49ers will still meet every four years in the regular season. We can only hope that in 2014, when the 49ers are slated to visit the Black Hole, Saturday night’s ugly scene won’t be repeated.



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Al Davis is at it again,as Raiders improve their track team


Terrelle PryorAP
That “round three” buzz surrounding Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor turned out to be dead on.
The Raiders selected Pryor in the third round of Monday’s supplemental draft, choosing to give up their third round pick in 2012.
It’s a natural fit. Pryor has the arm strength and physical tools Al Davis loves.  They also have an uncertain long-term quarerback situation withJason Campbell entering a contract year and a noted QB-tutor at head coach in Hue Jackson.
The pick, of course, is not without risk.  The Raiders now don’t have a pick in rounds two-through-four next year.  The fact they still decided to go get Pryor is a sign they have big plans for him long term.
Pryor will be suspended the first five games of the season.  When he comes back, the Raiders may cut Trent Edwards or Kyle Boller if Pryor is going to take over the No. 3 quarterback job.
At this point, we fully expect Pryor to play quarterback.  Although Davis has surprised us plenty of times before.



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