Tom Brady predicts 5th Super Bowl ring in commercial, takes shot at Roger Goodell

New England reportedly will have about $60 million in cap room. Among their key players who can hit free agency in March is linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who made one of the biggest plays in the Super Bowl with his fourth-quarter strip sack of Matt Ryan. He likely will be a priority for Belichick, as will top corner Malcolm Butler, who will be a restricted free agent.

A long-term deal for Butler may cause the departure of their other fine starting corner, Logan Ryan. But if he leaves, current nickel corner Eric Rowe (a second-round pick in 2015) likely will step in to that starting spot. Other key free agents-to-be include starters LeGarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett, Alan Branch and Chris Long, but the Patriots should have the funds to bring them back if they so desire.

Can Tom Brady predict the future? This might make you a believer.

Last October, the Patriots quarterback starred in a commercial for Shields MRI, where he showed off his four Super Bowl rings.

Brady also filmed an alternate version of the commercial, where he pulled out his “kind of new” fifth Super Bowl ring.

The Cowboys are expected to trade or release Romo in order to free themselves from his contract and pick up $5.1 million in salary cap savings this year. With Prescott coming cheap for two more years under his rookie deal, Dallas can use its Romo savings to fortify its defense and keep its dominant offensive line intact.

IYER: Romo vs. Garoppolo: Who’s worth a trade?

I would not be inspired to trade for a player of Romo’s age and injury history with a $14 million base salary in the coming season. I wouldn’t sign him as a free agent, either. It’s a recipe for a major mistake that can cost a GM his job.

This isn’t to say it was all bad news for Wilson.

With so much uncertainty on defense, 2017 might be defined by how much Wilson can carry the team. Bringing in Lacy and overhauling the offensive line is a start, but the Seahawks offense will go as far as Wilson can take them.

Wilson played through ankle and knee injuries last year and it clearly affected him: He had just 21 touchdown passes, down from 34 in 2015. He set a career high with 11 interceptions. His QB Rating was 92.6, a career low. And the lower-body injuries completely took away Wilson’s running threat — he managed just 259 rushing yards, by far the lowest of his five-year career.

This isn’t to say it was all bad news for Wilson. His receiving weapons were also done in by injury — Tyler Lockett’s broken leg was a huge loss late in the season — but Doug Baldwin had a career-best year with 94 catches and 1,128 yards. Jimmy Graham stayed healthy and became a bigger part of the offense, finishing with 65 catches for 923 yards. And Paul Richardson stepped up big in Lockett’s place, making huge plays down the stretch as Seattle solidified a playoff spot.

When Wilson is healthy and able to run, he adds a unique dimension to the offense that not many teams can match. And his weapons, aside from mistake-prone Jermaine Kearse, are reliable more often than not. However, the Seahawks must do a better job protecting him, and the running game needs to step up, as well. Wilson is a great quarterback, but he can’t do it all by himself.

NFL Draft 2017: Emotional Joe Mixon didn’t know how far he’d fall

Joe Mixon said he had no idea how far his off-field controversy would see him fall in the 2017 NFL Draft after being taken by the Bengals in round two.

In terms of talent, Mixon was regarded by many as the best running back in the class following a stellar on-field career at Oklahoma.

However, Mixon had been considered undraftable by some teams in the league after a video emerged of him striking a woman in a 2014 assault late last year.

But the Bengals put their faith in him with pick No. 48, leaving an emotional Mixon to reflect on an arduous process.

He told a conference call of his reaction to being drafted: “It was very emotional. I’m still sitting here crying. I can’t believe it. Very thankful. Very honoured to be a part of the Cincinnati Bengals.”

Kizer made some waves prior to the draft saying he had Cam Newton’s body and Tom Brady’s brain, but the fact is he’s a very smart and physically gifted player, and it makes sense if a team wanted to draft him and let him sit behind a proven quarterback like Aaron Rodgers.

Now, as Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders commented on Rapoport’s tweet, it might not be the smartest move considering the Packers already have Brett Hundley on their roster.

Both have big arms and big frames, but both struggled with accuracy and footwork in college. They would essentially be drafting two of the same player if they take Kizer.

However, the Packers may be throwing Kizer’s name out there to see if any team wants to trade into the spot and then move back down again in what is one of the deepest second rounds of an NFL Draft at several positions in recent history.

Take what you will of this rumor, but also understand the Packers are a savvy organization. They could very easily just be stirring the pot to see if anyone wants their pick.

This man is flushing his friend’s ashes down the toilet of every major league ballpark, and it’s beautiful

The New York Times has the oddest, most touching story of the 2017 baseball season so far: a man who is visiting ballparks around the country to flush his friend’s ashes.

He stepped into a bathroom stall and sprinkled the ashes into the toilet with as much decorum as the setting allowed. A couple of flushes later and Mr. Riegel’s remains were presumably on a journey through Citi Field’s plumbing.

“I took care of Roy, and I had to use the facilities myself,” Mr. McDonald said, emerging from the stall with the empty container. “So I figure, you know, kill two birds.”
The rules? It has to be in the middle of the game. It can’t be in the ballpark of a hated team, like the Cubs. And only recently did McDonald decide that Citi Field was worthy of the ashes, but only because Shea Stadium is long gone. You can’t just flush the ashes in any ol’ place with a toilet. The grounds have to be ash-worthy.

It’s a touching story that’s worth a read. May we all have a friend that’s willing to flush us down a ballpark commode to honor our memory.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer and radio host Joe Starkey spent nearly 700 words on Tuesday morning outlining Ovechkin’s past transgressions against the Penguins, casting doubt at every turn that these incidents from almost 10 years ago were no mere accident.

One got the sense from a couple of Penguins after the game that they believed Ovechkin, while not necessarily acting with intent, was pretty careless regarding how he fired the puck in Hainsey’s direction.

While DKPS got ripped for suggesting malice on Ovechkin’s part, writer Josh Yohe clarified that he was reporting on the feeling in the room. Good on him.

That didn’t stop a Pittsburgh-based ESPN radio host, however, from insinuating the very same thing.


There was a lot of talk about the 49ers being a natural destination for Kirk Cousins

It would be smart for New York to trade down to restock a depleted roster, but one of its biggest needs remains quarterback. Trubisky may well be the man to stand atop a depth chart that currently features Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, but a little gamesmanship could only help the franchise. The Jets could get a better player than Trubisky at No. 6, but not a better passer. The bargain they’ll have to weigh is whether or not a potential haul for that pick would be worth passing up a shot to select the 2017 draft’s first quarterback.

It’s hard to get a quarterback. If it were easy, nobody would settle for Hoyer and Barkley as their one and two. Trubisky, despite the fact that he only made 13 starts in college (13!!), looks like he has the raw skills that best translate into what teams want from an NFL starter — accurate with a quick release, at home in the pocket or outside of it, makes good decisions, etc.

(For my money, Deshaun Watson is still the better quarterback, at least in terms of overall raw skills.)

There was a lot of talk about the 49ers being a natural destination for Kirk Cousins, since Kyle Shanahan helped coach him into a starter. But Washington’s internal dysfunction subsided enough that Cousins signed the franchise tag and put the two sides on the road to reconciliation, for now.

In the best-case scenario, the 49ers would have to wait a year for Cousins to hit free agency, and if he did, they’d have to pay him oodles of money that he might not be worth, especially for a team with so many needs.nike_cardinals_1237

It’s been 11 years since there was drama over the No. 1 NFL draft pick

In the weeks leading up to the draft, Myles Garrett seemed like the clear choice for the Browns with the No. 1 pick despite the team’s need at quarterback. In the final days before the draft, though, rumors started circulating that Cleveland may go with Mitchell Trubisky instead. For the first time since 2006, we have no idea who the first overall pick will actually be.

Last year, there was no intrigue with the top pick. The Rams traded up to take Jared Goff first overall, and we knew well before Goff’s name was called on draft night. It was the same in 2015, when the Buccaneers landed Jameis Winston.

After a 1-15 finish in 2016, it’s easy to look at the Browns and say there’s nowhere for the team to go but up. However, it’s hard for fans to give Cleveland the benefit of the doubt.

“I think every year there’s less and less confidence that they’re going to do something that will actually turn the franchise around,” Ryan Born, a Browns fan from Springfield, Ohio, said. “You look at how many first-round draft picks they’ve had since 1999, you look at how many No. 1 overall picks they’ve had. How many quarterbacks can you possibly draft in the first round that never pan out?

The Falcons have blown out the Panthers the past few times, but watching Julio Jones make plays against Carolina’s secondary never gets old. Even in the games where he’s not racking up 300 yards receiving, Jones always seems to make a jaw-dropping catch.

Over the last 10 drafts, 43 quarterbacks have been picked in the first two rounds. Of those 43, two were among the NFL’s top 10 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA rating this past season: Matt Ryan and Derek Carr. The other eight were either top picks selected before 2007 (Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers) or players picked further down (Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott).

Fifteen quarterbacks were drafted in 2016. One played really well, and one played at a level slightly worse than the average QB. The others either struggled or never saw the field.


NFL Draft: Bears can put safety first, think O-line over QB

The defensive secondary is a critical position group to address, more so safety than cornerback. So far this offseason, it’s been mainly veteran patchwork with the signings of Quintin Demps and Prince Amukamara. Chicago desperately needs the playmaking, all-around safety it has lacked since Mike Brown. Either LSU’s Jamal Adams or Ohio State’s Malik Hooker would be a perfect pick at No. 3, but don’t rule out Ohio State’s best corner prospect, Marshon Lattimore.

The Bears also are facing needs at inside linebacker and defensive end for their 3-4. No. 3 overall is a little too early for Alabama’s Reuben Foster at the former position, unless they are able to trade down, but Alabama’s Jonathan Allen likely will be available. By not going QB, Chicago is guaranteed not to reach for someone on the other side of the ball.

“Sometimes kids think they know it all,” Jim Kelly said then. “Chad’s like a lot of other kids. Sometimes your mom, dad or uncle have advice and you think you know better. It’s part of maturing — how much do you really want this?”

Chad Kelly got into legal trouble before he landed in Oxford. He reportedly fought with bouncers and police officers in Buffalo in late 2014. The Buffalo News said Kelly was accused — though it wasn’t clear by whom — of telling bouncers, “I’m going to go to my car and get my AK-47 and spray this place.”

Kelly later took a non-criminal plea deal and agreed to community service. He didn’t get into any similar trouble during his two seasons at Ole Miss.

And at the highlight of Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze era, when the Rebels won the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 2015 season, Jim sat in the Superdome in New Orleans to watch — way, way up in the nosebleeds.

This is the same Bulls team that almost missed the playoffs.

Justice, a Democrat, “has sought” to replace Holliday with former Thundering Herd head coach Bob Pruett, the report says. Pruett coached the Herd from 1996 to 2004 and went 94-23.

The Gazette-Mail’s Jake Jarvis writes that Justice summoned Marshall’s university president for a meeting in December, when he was still governor-elect.

“It was not a meeting to say, ‘Fire the coach and hire Pruett,’” Justice’s chief of staff told the newspaper in a statement. “It was a meeting to say, ‘Ratchet up your game and do something to get yourself back to greatness.’”

The school president, Jerome Gilbert, said Justice merely “wanted to talk.”

“I probably shouldn’t comment on any of that,” Gilbert told the Gazette-Mail. “I want to maintain a good relationship with the governor, and it’s unfortunate that this information got out.”

This is the same Bulls team that almost missed the playoffs.

Chicago finished the season 41-41, tied with the Miami Heat. Had they not held the tie-breaker, they could have been on the outside looking in. But the Bulls proved they belong in the playoffs now with a strong Game 1 win over the Celtics.

The last time a No. 8 seed beat a No. 1 seed in the first-round opener, it was the Atlanta Hawks beating the Indiana Pacers in 2014. The Hawks went on to lose that series, but the loss served as a stark reminder that the top seeds aren’t at all impervious to defeat.

Chicago now has its paws on this series. And if the Bulls can keep it up, they’re just a few pellets away from knocking Goliath out of the postseason early on.


New England subjectively won 12 of the 15 years in which Belichick made draft day trades

I mentioned this in the most recent Pictures Video, but it’s amusing how Gobert scares great players out of even trying to score. Watch John Wall quickly backpedal after he gets an advantage on his man in the pick and roll.

The Rockets take a lot of long shots, and long missed shots end up in long rebounds. That’s why it’s a good thing they have Beverley. No guard is better at reading weird caroms off the rim and flying to the ball wherever it lands.

New England subjectively won 12 of the 15 years in which Belichick made draft day trades. The Patriots made 54 deals, 33 of which involved trading for higher picks. That propensity to accrue picks in later rounds has been even stronger this decade. Since 2010, 16 of the team’s 22 deals — or 73 percent — have involved the Patriots giving up the higher selection in exchange for multiple picks later that draft or a higher selection the following year.

If history is any indication, Bill Belichick will make three trades on draft day, two of which give the Patriots more selections in later rounds. Odds are pretty good they’ll come out on the winning end of those deals, too.

The biggest draft needs for the Steelers are at outside linebacker and cornerback, so they shouldn’t have any problem addressing one of those at the end of the first round. King gives the team a 6’3 defensive back who can play physically and has exceptional ball skills.nike_steelers_2380

Texans should draft a quarterback now that Tony Romo is retired. Who’s the best fit?

Tony Romo seemed like the perfect solution to the Houston Texans’ ongoing quarterback woes. Now he’s putting the NFL behind him to pursue a career in broadcasting, leaving the Texans scrambling for a Plan B.

Bill O’Brien had a reputation as a college coach for quality quarterback development, but that hasn’t carried over to the NFL. Since he was hired by Houston prior to the 2014 season, there’s been a revolving door of quarterbacks. None of them have been particularly successful.

Romo would have been a great fit, and he said during a press conference Tuesday that Houston was tempting.

The Pelicans haven’t met expectations before or after trading for DeMarcus Cousins. Gentry is probably out the day after the regular season ends.

Hoiberg was right there with Gentry as a candidate for an in-season dismissal. He survived the season (well, so far) but the summer doesn’t look so comforting.

And now this. No NHL players at the Olympics, the one event where literally the entire world is paying attention. At some point (maybe it was the two lockouts in one decade) fans stopped believing the men in charge of the league know what’s best for the sport. That it comes on the heels of the league’s failure of a World Cup of Hockey or the league’s ongoing concussion lawsuit mess doesn’t help that perception.