March 2015

The Panthers spent Friday looking to upgrade their depth on offense. Carolina claimed offensive tackle Jonathan Martin off waivers from San Francisco and signed free wide receiver Jarrett Boykin from Green Bay. The 6-foot-5, 315 Martin was the primary victim in the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal involving Richie Incognito. Martin, a former second-round pick by the Dolphins in 2012, started 32 of 38 games in three NFL seasons with Miami and San Francisco.
There are varying opinions regarding the best WR in this year's draft. All would be upgrades for Oakland, but Cooper represents the least risk.
The NFL coaches' breakfasts that are part of the recently wrapped-up owners meetings can be quite the bore without strong, almost amphetamine-grade coffee, as the 32 geniuses of the clipboards dance their way past questions about free agency, the draft and, well, each other. So consider us blindsided that one of the funniest anecdotes from those breakfasts would come from New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, a man so remarkably unfunny that we sort of tend to forget he exists in a room full of Chip Kellys and Rex Ryans and the like. Coughlin, it turns out, can relate to that lost feeling — even when he's close to home. He relayed a hilarious story about his newly acquired iPhone and the "lady" voice that inhabits it (that would be the seldom helpful Siri) and how she's not really doing her job. If Siri was a sixth-round pick, she'd be cut by now. Newsday's Tom Rock takes it from here: "Two weeks ago I'm trying to get to a roller hockey game that my grandson is playing in, so Marc Ross [the Giants' director of college scouting] had showed me how to talk to this phone," Coughlin said. "I don't trust the lady in GPS, I don't trust her, because they don't send you the right way. I hit the button and I go 'Park Ridge, New Jersey.' And she comes back on, she's giving me directions. So now I figure out where I am. I hit the thing and I said, 'Thank you very much, I know exactly where I am now.' And she comes back and says, 'You don't have to thank me.' I swear to God that's what she said. And then I couldn't get her to shut up. Every turn. 'Take a right here.' I know where I am. I know where I am. I'm a block away from my house, and she's telling me where to go. I said, 'I know where I'm going.' " Picturing a scarlet-faced Coughlin steaming up his glasses while trying to get Siri to shut up is perhaps the most amazing image of the offseason. It's absolutely brilliant. Here's a soon-to-be 69-year-old man barking at a little black box, and all you can think about is what his conversations with Odell Beckham Jr. must be like. For the record, Coughlin — who has admitted in the past to knowing how to text — said he prefers to hear the sound of OBJ's voice.  "I would call him so he hears my voice," Coughlin said. "He'll pick up." This Luddite syndrome among coaches is not restricted to Coughlin. Remember the NFL Network piece on Bill Belichick a few years back in which he couldn't change the time in his new car after Daylight Savings? These two men were involved in several of the most historically significant Super Bowls in league annals, and neither one of them apparently can perform basic technological functions. Sometimes genius has a way of masking other basic skills, sort of an inverse of the human phenomenon in people whose other senses are heightened to help pick up the slack. I once had a college professor who could quote Chaucer and Milton flawlessly from rote in front of a class of disaffected English grads. And yet she had no idea how to work the horizontal blinds. It easily was my favorite college class ever for that very reason. Coughlin has a generational theory of why that is. "When I was raised it was, 'Don't touch that,' 'Don't break that,' 'Don't you dare,'" he said. "These [kids], they have no fear of these things. They just go and they do it. They're probably reinforced by people saying, 'You can't hurt it.' I could hurt it. I defy all odds." And that's the stuff of coaching genius, folks. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
With free agency 2015 on life support and the majority of the top talents off the board, NFL teams’ needs have been reshuffled. Now the draft has come squarely into focus, with only a few major veteran options — hello, Adrian Peterson — likely to seismically alter the course from this point on. Here’s a look (without any projected trades, mind you) of how the first two rounds could go with about five weeks until the draft: 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers  — Florida State QB Jameis Winston Lovie Smith is playing coy with his team’s draft board, and though a team source told Shutdown Corner no final decision has been made on the pick, it’s believed to be Winston. Maybe the Bucs get blown away with a trade offer, but that’s not likely to happen. Instead, they’ll roll the dice on greatness and find ways to protect Winston and shield him from the distractions of being in the NFL spotlight. 2. Tennessee Titans — USC DT-DE Leonard Williams Our gut feeling right now is that the Titans are not enamored with Marcus Mariota. Short of finding a long-term solution at QB, they’ll instead continue to upgrade a front seven that should be markedly better with Williams, Jurrell Casey, Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo and Co. on the attack. The Titans don’t have the most daunting opposing quarterbacks on their schedule this season and should hope to win close games with defense.   3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Florida DE Dante Fowler Jr. Finding an edge rusher will be one of the primary goals for Gus Bradley, David Caldwell and crew after a fruitful free-agency period. They are seeking to add depth across the board, but they need someone to come rip off the front side and live in the backfield. Even if he plays only 40-50 snaps a game, Fowler and his hot motor will be a huge upgrade. 4. Oakland Raiders — West Virginia WR Kevin White The Raiders didn't land a front-line receiver in free agency and will need to find someone who can help Derek Carr grow. White has been the prospect who has ascended the most in the past calendar year and he fits the old-school Raiders mold of the height-weight-speed prospect who also plays angry. A perfect fit, just edging out the smoother, less explosive Amari Cooper. 5. Washington Redskins — Clemson OLB Vic Beasley New Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan surprised many when he took Aldon Smith with the seventh pick in the draft in 2011 and he could open eyes again by taking Beasley here over a few more hyped pass-rush prospects. Beasley might not have Smith’s length, but he has the rare burst to give the Redskins its first pair of 10-sack players (with Ryan Kerrigan coming off the other side) since 2009. 6. New York Jets — Georgia RB Todd Gurley Shocked? Don’t be. Oh, the Jets are not likely to take Gurley, coming off ACL surgery, this high in the draft. But the Jets brass — which are working out Mariota at week’s end up in Oregon — won’t take a quarterback high if they are not blown away. Instead, they’ll select the player who could be the quarterback’s best friend in time if Gurley's knee looks good at the Indianapolis medical re-test next month. Although I am not projecting trades, the Cleveland Browns could be a team interested in moving into this spot for Mariota, and Gurley still could be on the board when the Jets swing back around. There's also a rumble that the Miami Dolphins are high on Gurley.
They say the worst thing you can tell a cop is that you had "one or two" after he pulls you over and asks how many drinks you had. It implies you've had many more. By this metric, there will be roughly 12-15 NFL teams in Los Angeles in the next calendar year. OK, perhaps we're getting ahead of ourselves on that estimation. But judging from the words of New York Giants owner John Mara on the eve of the NFL owners' meetings, it appears that the league is fast-tracking a return to L.A. after 20-plus years of dormancy there without an NFL franchise. Or two, for that matter. "I think there's going to be one or two teams playing in L.A. next year — 2016," Mara told Newsday's Bob Glauber . "Maybe a temporary stadium [next year], but I think — and this is just my opinion — that one or two teams will be playing somewhere in L.A. next year. But we'll see." Which teams? Mara, not shockingly, declines to say. But we have the usual suspects: the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and, by most accounts the most likely and motivated candidates, the St. Louis Rams, whose owner, Stan Kroenke, happens to own a tract of land near the old Hollywood Park that, oh, might just make for a nice stadium for football. Kroenke, per reports, has submitted a report that includes stadiums plans for two teams to co-habitate. Mara said the owners would not vote on the L.A. situation at this week's meetings but will be updated on the progress of the market, an indication that the league is doing advance work on the country's second-biggest TV market and whether it can successfully house two teams. It appears that it's reaching foregone conclusion status quickly, even if this week might not provide more than  rampant speculation. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
Chuck Bednarik, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and one of the last great two-way NFL players, died early Saturday. Known as ''Concrete Charlie,'' Bednarik epitomized the tough-guy linebacker and also was an outstanding center for the Eagles from 1949 to 1962. He is best remembered for a game-saving tackle at the 9-yard line on the final play of the 1960 title game, and it was typical Bednarik. He threw Green Bay running back Jim Taylor to the ground and refused to let him up while the final seconds ticked off as the Eagles held on for a 17-13 win.
The New York Giants are cornering the market on defensive ends from South Florida. Less than a month after designating two-Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul as their franchise player, the Giants on Friday signed his former USF teammate George Selvie as a free agent. ''I think that's a great pickup,'' Pierre-Paul said. From the film I've watched, he's gotten better as a player.'' Selvie and Pierre-Paul played at South Florida in 2009 and it's conceivable they could go into the season as the Giants' starting defensive ends in September.
Tight end Charles Clay is switching teams in the AFC East. The Miami Dolphins decided Thursday against matching the contract offer Clay received from Buffalo, so he will join the Bills after signing their $38 million, five-year deal Tuesday. The Dolphins had the right to match after giving Clay a transition tag two weeks ago, but they decided the price was too high and will go with newcomer Jordan Cameron and holdover Dion Sims at tight end.
Running backs took their place at the head of the free agency class Thursday, the third day of the NFL's business year. Two of them, 2014 Offensive Player of the Year Murray, the league's leading rusher, and Mathews wound up in Philadelphia. Murray, 27, helped the Cowboys win the NFC East while rushing for a franchise-record 1,845 yards, breaking NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith's team mark.

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