Jason Witten gets wildly blinged-out retirement gift from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

One of the greatest tight ends in NFL history officially decided to call it quits on Thursday as Jason Witten finally announced his retirement. For the past week, Witten had been mulling over the possibility of returning for another season with the Cowboys or taking ESPN up on its offer to join the Monday Night Football booth, and in the end, the ESPN offer was too good to pass up for the the long-time tight end, who turns 36 on Sunday.

Right in Dallas’ own backyard is Sutton, a behemoth (6-3, 218 pounds) who can both outrun cornerbacks and go up and get the ball over them, a la Bryant. Ridley is the safest. Sutton has the highest upside. Moore combines both of those elements. Any of the three would make Prescott happy.

If Dallas’ first-round pick is not a wideout, then it must be defensive line or offensive line, in that order of selection preference should the Cowboys stay at No. 19.

There had not been a whole lot of rumors about the Browns potentially looking to erect a new venue. Based on the Cleveland economy and political makeup of the city, it’s highly likely that a vast majority of the funds for a new venue would have to be private.

Newly signed Giants defensive tackle A.J. Francis wasted no time taking a parting shot at his former team, the Washington Redskins, and expressing joy over landing with an NFC East rival.

When the team you were on didn’t appreciate you but the team you played against actually pays attention to the film… Francis captioned a photo on his Instagram account.

The Giants signed Francis on Wednesday, as general manager Dave Gettleman continues to rebuild and add depth to a roster that finished 3-13 last season. Francis, 27, recorded 18 tackles in six games with Washington last season.tigers_005-115x115

Bengals schedule 2018: Cincinnati must manage four tough road tests

The Bengals’ 2018 schedule marks a pivotal season for veteran coach Marvin Lewis after back-to-back losing seasons in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati faces the usual tests in the AFC North against rivals Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cleveland, but this is a year in which the Bengals will find out whether the franchise is built to contend for the division title. Cincinnati faces the NFC South and AFC South this year, which means half of the road games are against playoff teams from last season.

“He’s a killer,” Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown said of Middleton. “He’s made some extremely tough shots, and he’s comfortable making them. We kinda made it a little bit uncomfortable for him, and he’s worked for the baskets he’s got. And we gotta continue to make it more uncomfortable for him. … He’s a really good player. He’s a straight killer, and he’s experienced. He can really shoot the ball and make tough shots. We gotta really make it hard for him and keep making him uncomfortable. Hopefully we can wear him down.”

Richardson’s tweets have since been deleted.

A spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police confirmed that Richardson, who was driving a Mercedes SUV, was stopped in Loudoun County “because the vehicle did not have license plates displayed as required by Virginia law” and that he was cited “for failing to have the vehicle properly registered.”

Spokeswoman Corinne Geller said state police were notified of Richardson’s tweets later Tuesday and are looking into what happened.

“While no formal complaint has been filed, the Department is reviewing the matter, to include the trooper’s in-car camera footage of the traffic stop, to determine if the traffic stop was handled in accordance with state police policy,” Geller said.

Richardson signed a five-year deal worth up to $40 million at the beginning of free agency last month.

Edmunds can play inside or outside for the Bills and was considered by some the best at the position in this group.dolphins_117

If Snead indeed lands in Baltimore, he’d join a revamped Ravens receiving corps that added Michael Crabtree and John Brown this offseason.

We are one week away from the NFL Draft, and there is still so much uncertainty. Who will go first overall to the Cleveland Browns ? How many quarterbacks go in the top 10? How many trades will we see? With that as a backdrop, here is Mock Draft No. 6 from me, which might be my final one depending on any late information. In it, I have the four top quarterbacks going off the board with the first four picks — including the Buffalo Bills making a move up to the No. 4 spot to land UCLA’s Josh Rosen with a pick acquired from the Browns. Change the way you listen to NFL news, subscribe to the Pick Six Podcast with Will Brinson and you’ll be the most informed fan at your NFL Draft party.

The Browns would take Wyoming’s Josh Allen, followed by the Giants taking USC’s Sam Darnold, the Jets taking Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, then Rosen to the Bills. Four picks, four passers. For much of the past two months, some league personnel men insisted to me that that this could be a possibility. I didn’t buy it, but now I do. This is a quarterback-starved league, so it makes sense.

“We feel good about the player that will be there,” Ballard said. “When we made the trade [with the Jets from No. 3 to No. 6], we thought a lot about the depth of the draft, where it ended if there were two quarterbacks that go in the top six picks, are we going to feel comfortable with the fourth-best position player? And we do. We feel very comfortable with that.

Other notes from Ballard’s interview on GMFB :

1. Ballard didn’t provide much of an update on Andrew Luck, simply saying the QB is “in a great spot right now,” and noting there are still three months before training camp.

2. For four seasons (2013-2016), Ballard worked under John Dorsey with the Kansas City Chiefs. The time spent in the boardroom going over prospects gives Ballard a unique insight into what to expect from Cleveland’s new GM, who holds the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks. steelers_060

The Kings’ offseason game plan: The Drew Doughty conundrum takes the main stage

As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention — either mathematically or by losing in the postseason — we’ll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2017-18, along with three keys to its offseason and a way-too-early prediction for what 2018-19 will hold.

A number of things went right for the Los Angeles Kings, actually.

You almost would rather it just be a closed environment, and be alone in your thoughts, and only be there really having any dialogue with Phil and the truck. So anyway, someone’s knocking at the door, and took a peek outside, it was Dick Enberg. Well, Dick Enberg’s coming in. I’m gonna actually get down on my hands and knees and roll out the red carpet myself. For him to come out of his way to come over to the booth and just offer some really supportive words that a broadcaster could relate to — “Sure it’s the Super Bowl, but in a lot of ways, once you get going, it’s gonna be another show. Trust your instincts and feel comforted knowing that you were meant to do this game.” That to me was one of the most generous moments that someone had offered to me in this industry.

Parise, 33, had 15 goals and nine assists in 42 games for the Wild during the regular season, missing a chunk of time after back surgery.

The Wild dropped a pair of games in Winnipeg before roaring back into the series in Game 3. The Jets will also be short-handed, as defenseman Tyler Myers is expected to miss Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury.

Two weeks into the season, our voters have seen enough to change things on top, dramatically reshuffling the top 10. Let’s start up top: Would anyone have expected the Astros to already cede the No. 1 slot to anyone? Even after a solid start? That’s exactly what has happened, not because the Astros are bad but because we’ve seen several teams sizzle in the early going. Welcome to the reason the red-hot Red Sox captured four of five first-place votes to unseat the reigning champs, although Houston held on to the last vote for the top spot.

Outfielder Trayce Thompson, brother of NBA star Klay, acquired by Yankees

Just before their home opener in the Bronx on Tuesday, the Yankees acquired outfielder Trayce Thompson off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers. His addition comes at a time when New York has lost several outfielders at the start of the season due to injury.

Thompson is the brother of Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson. Their father is former NBA star Mychal Thompson and their oldest brother, Mychel, also played in the NBA.

The commitment to Case Keenum is really only one year, and with 2016 first-rounder Paxton Lynch looking like a shaky bet, the Broncos could be in the quarterback market at No. 5 overall. But if there’s someone they really like at the top of the draft, don’t count the Broncos out of the running for that No. 2 overall pick the Giants own. With the Jets sitting at No. 3 and obviously eyeing quarterbacks, it’s entirely possible some team will get scared that the Jets will take the same guy that team likes, and overpay the Giants for the pick right in front of the Jets. Moving up from No. 6 to No. 3 cost the Jets three second-rounders. Moving up from No. 5 to No. 2 likely would cost the Broncos at least that, especially if they’re not the only team in the market.

Watson will be back in 2018. So will defensive end J.J. Watt, who could help form one of the NFL’s most formidable defenses alongside Jadeveon Clowney and newly acquired safety Tyrann Mathieu. Watson has a superstar wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and a talented young deep threat in Will Fuller.

Houston still has question marks, however. The Texans touted a middle-of-the-pack ground game in 2017. The offensive line was among the league’s worst, allowing an eye-popping 54 sacks.

The Texans can’t do much about either, as they traded each of their first two draft picks in 2018 to Cleveland.

Just because Watson is capable of scrambling around and hitting big plays doesn’t mean the team should rely on him doing it, particularly after an ACL tear. Putting too much on his plate is a recipe for a second straight season of disappointment.

Today’s panel includes ESPN Fantasy’s André Snellings and Kyle Soppe, as well as DFS expert Renee Miller.

Trumaine Johnson received the franchise tag in each of the last two years, making it unlikely the Rams would be able to hammer out a deal in the 2018 offseason. That was bad news with Kayvon Webster going down with an Achilles injury late in 2017, leaving the Rams with little cornerback depth.

They solved the problem by brokering trades with the Chiefs and Broncos to land Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib two of the NFL’s best cornerbacks.

Which players should you build around and which players should you fade in DFS as we tip off tonight’s NBA action? Our experts have the answers.

There are a lot of reasons to lock in George tonight. First, he comes at a mid-tier salary at a position that’s one of the more difficult to fill tonight. He’s also been as consistently good as almost anyone, filling the stat sheet in multiple categories on a regular basis.

I felt it midway through the season last year, Judge said Wednesday, via ESPN.com. But it came down to,’Can you play?’ And I could play…. If I was able to play, I was going to go out there and be ready for my team.

Cleveland has committed about $20 million or so to cornerbacks today, but it’s unclear whether the Browns have found an upgrade on Taylor.

QB AJ McCarron, Bills Grade: C+ After the much expected dalliance between McCarron and Hue Jackson never came to fruition in Cleveland, the former Alabama star was left frantically searching for a seat in the NFL’s version of musical chairs.

The last spot left standing with a viable path toward a starting job was in Buffalo, where the only guy left on the depth chart was Nathan Peterman.

McCarron is overrated by virtue of having not played much over the past two seasons, but he is certainly an upgrade on Peterman.

For a team that spent months privately pining about how badly it wanted a traditional quarterback in lieu of the talented passer it had in Tyrod Taylor, the 6-foot-4 McCarron is about as tall as viable passers come.patriots_004

Rams’ Sean McVay, 31, named 2017 NFL Coach of the Year by writers

First-year Rams coach Sean McVay, who led his team to an 11-5 record and the NFC West title, was selected as the 2017 NFL Coach of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America in voting announced Thursday.

— Eagles executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman, whose moves helped the Eagles earn the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a 13-3 record, was selected the 2017 NFL Executive of the Year.

— Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who oversaw an offense that made plenty of big plays on the way to a 13-3 record and the NFC’s No. 2 seed, was selected as the 2017 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year.

Tyna Karageorge, 45, filed the suit Friday in Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court, where she alleges Urlacher conspired with a Chicago Tribune reporter to portray her as a bad Mother, unfit and a killer.

Karageorge said she hasn’t had custody of her and Urlacher’s son, Kennedy, since shortly after Dec. 29, 2016, when her husband, Ryan Karageorge, died.

She said the couple were having an argument in their home when Ryan Karageorge pulled a gun from her purse and shot himself in the head. His death was ruled a suicide, but Kennedy was taken from the Karageorge home and placed with his father after Urlacher won temporary custody.

The Chicago Tribune ran a report in January 2017 that said the investigation into Ryan Karageorge’s death was still open.

Although there was some thought that Father Time might finally get the best of Tom Brady this year, that didn’t happen. At 40 years old, Brady will be gunning to earn a trip to the Super Bowl for the eighth time in his career and for the third time in four years.patriots_128_9eb04c2c065900aa-180x180

The Steelers are 5-1 SU and ATS in their last six postseason home games.

red_wings_014Since then, the Steelers are 10-1 SU and 5-6 ATS, with their only loss over that stretch coming against the New England Patriots.

Sunday’s total is set at 41 points. The OVER is 11-1-1 in Pittsburgh’s last 12 home games in the playoffs.

Jacksonville and Pittsburgh both finished in the top five in the NFL in total defense this season and also had two of the lowest-scoring defenses in the league with the Jaguars allowing 16.8 points per game and the Steelers allowing 19.3.

“Brady and Jules have an unbelievable connection and both work constantly to things together the same way,” texted one rival coach who knows them both. “That is going to be hard to replace, it may just be (Rob Gronkowski), (Danny) Amendola and (James) White that have it now.” Another former co-worker on the two, this one a player, mentioned how the whole offense had taken on Edelman’s personality over the years—competitive, edgy and spoiling for a fight—and said he felt that would be tough to replace, as well.

So will you see it? I don’t think it’ll be obvious during the regular season. The Patriots are too good, and too adept at adjusting. But when we get to January and potentially February, it’ll be interesting to see where the ball goes when things are dialed up, with Edelman out of the mix.

“It’s my first playoff game in a while, so I’m excited, man,” Gronkowski told reporters Tuesday.

But even if the Pats don’t get their top receiver a target this weekend, they’ve still got a solid support staff in place — one that rivals the crew that pushed a Gronk-less offense to the franchise’s fifth Lombardi Trophy.

The 2016 Patriots got only eight starts from their All-Pro tight end after a combination of hamstring, chest, and back injuries relegated him to injured reserve. Fortunately, head coach Bill Belichick and the New England brain trust was prepared. Martellus Bennett had been acquired earlier in the season to serve as the team’s 1B option at tight end. While Bennett thrived, the rest of the team’s receiving corps stepped up as well: Five other Patriots had 400-plus receiving yards last season.

But some of those key players who kept New England’s engine running at top speed aren’t back a year later. Julian Edelman, who tore his ACL in the preseason, won’t play in a single meaningful game this season. Martellus Bennett departed for Green Bay in free agency, then talked his way out of Wisconsin, re-signed with the Pats, and played in two games before joining Edelman on injured reserve.

Jon Gruden coaching rumors: Buccaneers preferred destination

Rumors have been swirling for years about Jon Gruden returning to coaching, but this season there could be some substance to the chatter.

According to NFL Media, Gruden would return to coaching if it was with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter is on the hot seat after winning just four games this season and with the Buccaneers sitting last in the NFC South.

2016 preview: The Patriots signed McClellin to a three-year, $9 million contract and the structure of his deal 鈥?guaranteed salary, signing bonus proration 鈥?makes him a roster lock 2016.Sitting fourth worst the NHL at even strength goal ratio its clear the Flyers have a hard time scoring goals and Konecny being hurt not help the cause.Opening Statement: Let me start off and say that I thought they played really well.Normal Defense Lineup #3 – , Barberio are on ice for Predators.The fifth overall pick of the draft, Scherff spent all of the offseason practices and the first week of training camp at right tackle.Nobody knows who Keuchel really is and while McCullers and his breaking ball are absolutely nasty, he’s yet to earn the track record to be trusted entirely a season that likely extends to October.Montreal manager Max Macon, until his death 1989, denied that he was under any orders to restrict ‘s playing time.

Thomas, 28, has one year remaining on his contract, but the Seahawks can avoid an $10.4 million salary-cap hit by releasing him prior to June 1. He briefly contemplated retirement last year after suffering a gruesome leg injury, but has played in 12 games this season and was selected to his sixth Pro Bowl. It’s been a frustrating season for the Seahawks (9-6), who have stayed alive for a playoff spot despite numerous injuries on both sides of the ball. Thomas had a spat with teammate Bobby Wagner following a 42-7 loss to the Rams. As Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” appears to be falling apart, maybe Thomas wants to cut his losses and move on.

“I’ve always been a Cowboys fan growing up,” Thomas told reporters following Sunday’s game. “The biggest thing, though, when I say, ‘Come get me,’ I don’t literally mean come get me now. I’m still in the prime of my career and I want to be here, but when Seattle kicks me to the curb, please, the Cowboys, come get me. That’s the only place I would rather be if I get kicked to the curb. That’s what I meant by it.

A group typically made up of Kyle Brodziak at center, Scottie Upshall at left wing and Ryan Reaves at right wing, normally gets anywhere from 7 minutes per game, and the case of Upshall and Brodziak, sometimes that gets up to 11, 13 minutes depending on how penalties the Blues are killing a game, and the case of night, six power plays, their services would be needed more.He famously dialed it up to 100 mph against Tigers slugger Cabrera, striking out the two-time MVP with a fastball down and away : Despite his elite velocity, hitters have feasted on Betances’ fastball 2016, to the tune of a 1 opposing OPS.Going it alone There was never a lack of confidence the Canadian star, who only started skating at 15, choosing speed skating because you could practice for hour indoors at school instead of playing hockey outdoors.We just have to learn how to finish.There’s no shortage of moving pieces on the Steelers’ defensive line, but no matter how it plays out, the 2016 offseason and training camp could prove to be a big opportunity for Big Dan McCullers.Considering how the Jets haven’t at all used Powell effective manner, this could very well be the breakout game he’s been looking for.

Army senior John Voit chased him down.

Given what we now know about concussions, CTE and the trauma from big hits, Gruden and McDonough would have pilloried if they had not decried the on-field violence we watched on ESPN Monday night.

Moving forward, more NFL announcers are going to be placed in these damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t positions. Where’s the line between celebrating hard-hitting, clean football and worrying on-air about the brutality and health impact of an inherently violent game?

Of the three, Jenkins is the most likely to be released. He was suspended by the team this year, and the secondary has struggled all season. Of the big contracts the team signed, this was the most questionable, and while Jenkins lived up to it in 2016, he is nowhere near that player this season. The Giants would create $7 million in cap room by cutting him.

Vernon is the most interesting decision. He was able to create a ton of interest in free agency to drive up his price to a level hard to justify with performance, but he is still an above-average player. Vernon has been injured most of the season, so his numbers are way down. The question: Do the Giants chase one more year and hope he stays healthy, or do they cut ties?

Perry looked like he might have another long touchdown run, but he stumbled and fell at the Navy 11 early in the third quarter.

“I’m not sure if I hit his foot or not,” Voit said. “But I think I got enough where he slipped slipped in the snow and thank God he went down down.”

Army then held Navy to a Moehring’s second field goal, from 24 yards, to make it 13-7 and allow for their fourth quarter comeback.

“There was never a moment our guys doubted we were going to win the game,” Monken said. “When you love a group of people like I love them, I can tell when their emotions change. We never lost momentum.”eagles_025_867b1327235fabc1-180x180