Vikings exercise 2019 option on Trae Waynes

The Vikings drafted a cornerback in the first round last Thursday for the first time since they drafted Trae Waynes in 2015.

The arrival of Mike Hughes isn’t a sign that the Vikings are looking to a future without Waynes, however. The Vikings announced on Monday that they have exercised their option on Waynes’ contract for the 2019 season.

The option is guaranteed for injury only and sets Waynes up to make a base salary of just over $9 million.

Iyiegbuniwe (Pronounced: JOEL-from-WEST-ern-ken-TUCK-ee) recorded 116 tackles for the Hilltoppers last season and performed well at the combine. He runs well and can play in space, making him an athletic-upside pick who can be useful in pass coverage. The Bears already drafted a perennial Pro Bowler at linebacker in Roquan Smith. Taking a late-rising project behind him is just gilding the lily.

So adding the 2019 option (guaranteed for injury only) gives them some cost-certainty in a rebuilt secondary. Randall joined first-rounder Denzel Ward and free agent pickups E.J. Gaines, T.J. Carrie, and Terrance Mitchell, for a team that needed the reboot.

Malik Jefferson, Texas: Big 12 defensive player of the year in 2017, his fluid movement and strength led to 110 tackles last season. Athleticism allows him to attack effectively when he’s aimed in correct direction but can work against him when he fails to correctly diagnose a play. Could be another signal Vontaze Burfict is done after Cincinnati added Preston Brown in free agency.

Rasheem Green, DL, Southern California: Pete Carroll picks up a Trojan for a defensive line that lost Michael Bennett and may soon say goodbye to Cliff Avril. 

Martinas Rankin, OL, Mississippi State: Houston might try him all along its offensive line, which makes sense because it’s a serious weak spot. That’s dangerous considering QB Deshaun Watson is on the road to recovery following knee surgery.

Todd Bowles: I’m not inhibiting Sam Darnold

Mocking a question about his initial impressions of rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, New York Jets coach Todd Bowles screamed and slammed his podium.

He was great! I want him to play right now! the normally subdued Bowles yelled Friday after the first rookie minicamp practice.

He used an exaggerated response to prove a point: Don’t draw conclusions after one day.

Fitzgerald was and is a safe, can’t-miss pick with an infectious work ethic, the kind every team would like to make a first-rounder every year.

It didn’t matter that Ware was coming out of Troy — not to be confused with either USC or the actual Alabama. Bill Parcells locked into his special talents as the transcendent 3-4 edge pass rusher the Cowboys’ defense needed.

Houston got third-round safety Justin Reid, third-round offensive lineman Martinas Rankin, third-round tight end Jordan Akins, fourth-round receiver Keke Coutee, sixth-round defensive end Duke Ejiofor, sixth-round tight end Jordan Thomas, sixth-round linebacker Peter Kalambayi and seventh-round cornerback Jermaine Kelly under contract.

The Texans didn’t have a first-round pick, trading it to move up and take Deshaun Watson in the 2017 draft. They lost their second-round pick in the trade that send Brock Osweiler to Cleveland last year.

Houston took Reid with the 68th pick, Rankin at No. 80 and Akins with the 89th choice.

On the other hand, by attempting to secure an acquittal in the court of public opinion, Patricia arguably has opened the door to a wide variety of questions regarding what didn’t happen — and what did — on the night in question.

Battling 30-mph winds with even stronger gusts, he completed only 11 of 21 passes for 85 yards and rushed for a rather empty 35 yards, with the defense barred from touching him. As a result, Murray failed to engineer a touchdown drive through the first and only half of the competition portion of the scrimmage.

On his first possession, Murray had a prime opportunity to electrify the Sooners’ spring-game crowd of more than 50,000, which braved 30-degree, wind-chilled weather to see what Mayfield’s heir apparent had in store for them.

Nationals’ Dave Martinez ejected for first time as manager

It didn’t take long for Dave Martinez to earn his first ejection as a major league manager.

The Washington Nationals’ rookie skipper made an early exit from his eighth game on the job, getting tossed by umpire Marty Foster at the end of the third inning of a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday.

They don’t get cut. They don’t get benched. They don’t get sent down to Triple-A, whatever it might be, Rendon said. It’s just sad that there’s no accountability for them.

Crew chief Joe West told a pool reporter that Foster felt that Rendon’s toss of his bat was showing him up and that an umpire in that situation has to do something, or he loses all respect from the players.

West also said: The pitch prior to the strikeout, [Rendon] walked completely out of the hitter’s circle, which the hitters aren’t allowed to do. Marty said, ‘We gotta play. You gotta get back in there.’ Then when he called strike three, he threw the bat.

The Nationals have lost four straight after winning their first four games.

After earning $9.56 million over his first four NFL seasons, Shazier is set to count $8.7 million against the Steelers’ salary cap after the team exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie contract last year. Although he won’t play in 2018, Colbert confirmed there will be some sort of designation for Shazier so he can still remain a part of the team next season.

The kid had a devastating injury, Colbert said. His willingness to not only aggressively rehab but to put himself out there and ask for no pity, again that’s all part of the recovery process that I think, he helps us as much as we help him.

Shazier, 25, is still rehabbing from a spinal injury suffered in a Dec. 4 game against the Bengals that required spinal stabilization surgery on Dec. 6 and has left him in a wheelchair. Still, the two-time Pro Bowl player has attended various sporting events and was even captured on video doing pull-ups at the gym.

Marquette King on never meeting Jon Gruden: I just saw him on car commercials and stuff

Marquette King denies his celebrations or his personality are reasons Oakland cut him. The punter said he never even met Jon Gruden.

“I just saw him on car commercials and stuff,” King said in a conference call with Denver writers, via quotes distributed by the team. “I get to see him two times a year [now].”

King joined the Broncos on Thursday, agreeing to a three-year deal worth up to $7 million. He chose Denver because it was the best fit, he said, but added, “There is somewhat of a revenge factor in there, too.”

He will continue celebrating, though he vows the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are a thing of the past.

“I’m still going to have fun,” King said. “I’m still going to dance and still celebrate. I’m going to be me. Nothing is going to stop me from being me. The flags—I got three flags two years ago and one flag last year—it’s in the past. I’m just looking forward to doing my thing and making sure I’m working on my composure and doing the right things to making sure the team is in the best situation possible.”

The Saints are exploring a possible addition to their offensive line.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that tackle Austin Howard visited with the team. The Ravens opted not to pick up their option on Howard’s contract for 2018.

Howard started every game at right tackle for the Ravens last year after joining the team in August. He spent the previous three seasons with the Raiders, but was dropped by Oakland last summer.

If he’s truly committed to that, we’ll see him play one more Spring League game before cutting the best deal that he can and joining the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, where coach June Jones is waiting to help Manziel fulfill his potential (according to Jones) to be the best player in CFL history.

Josh Rosen starts busy week in Buffalo

The draft gets started two weeks from Thursday and that leaves teams with dwindling time to make final decisions about where they rank this year’s prospects.

With as many as six quarterbacks on track to come off the board in the first round, the way teams rank those players will have a great deal of impact on how things play out in Dallas later this month. UCLA’s Josh Rosen is one of those quarterbacks and he’ll be visiting with four teams this week that are thought to be looking for help at that spot.

Such misses have raised questions about whether Elway can effectively scout the position, despite having been one of the greatest to ever play it.

Elway’s on-field legacy with the Broncos and success in his first four seasons as general manager — Denver went 50-14, won a Super Bowl and reached another — have bought him time to try and reverse a two-year downward cycle. But the past can only go so far if the Broncos don’t start thriving again in the future.

Keenum is anxious to prove Elway knows what he’s doing.

“I’ve been a fan of Elway and the Broncos for a long time,” he said, “So this is a childhood dream come true.”

Now let’s see if Keenum can end Denver’s quarterback nightmare.

Davis said the substance was an “estrogen blocker” in a supplement that he’s used for the last seven or eight years without triggering a positive test until now. Davis said he did not and would not “intentionally” do anything to “cheat the game” and that his “conscience is clear.”

He also acknowledges that NFL rules about players being responsible for what they put in their bodies is clear and that he’s run afoul of them as a result of the test. That will leave Davis unavailable to start the year and leave the Panthers looking for another solution at linebacker for a quarter of the 2018 season.

Plus, it won’t be long before Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott will have their hands out seeking lucrative extensions when their rookie contracts become eligible for renewal following the 2018 campaign.

Odell Beckham Jr. Rumors: Giants Want At Least 2 1st-Round Draft Picks in Trade

Odell Beckham Jr. Rumors: Giants Want At Least 2 1st-Round Draft Picks in Trade

The New York Giants are reportedly seeking at least two first-round draft picks in any trade offer for superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

One day later, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Beckham will not set foot on a field without a new contract extension in place. He’s currently under team control for one more season because the Giants exercised the fifth-year option in his rookie deal.

The Los Angeles Rams are one team that’s already reached out to the Giants to discuss a possible trade for the 25-year-old playmaker, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.

Beckham has been a force since New York selected him with the 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft. He tallied at least 90 catches for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons. His 2017 campaign came to a premature end in October because of a fractured ankle.

Two first-round picks, especially if neither ends up inside the top 10, would be a small price to pay for that type of high-end production.

The NFLfattempted to resolve the catch rule and make the game safer with another measure further aimed at eliminating spearing. But nothing from its annual league meeting generated as much buzz as the future of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Team co-owner John Mara began the week expressing disappointment in his volatile superstar while suggesting no one on his roster was untouchable. Days later, Mara had backtracked a bit, saying he didn’t wish for Beckham to be traded but qualifying: I want him to be a Giant. I can’t say it’s a 100% guarantee it will happen. Can’t say that about any player.

In between, reports swirled about whether Beckham would suit up for any team in 2018 minus a massive contract extension, and general manager Dave Gettleman equivocated as much as Mara even as potential suitors like the Rams seemed to emerge as trade partners.

More: Odell Beckham Jr. trade firmly on Rams’ radar, but Sean McVay dances around possible deal

Vikings sign veteran receiver Kendall Wright

Kendall Wright will be in the NFC North again next season, but it won’t be with the Chicago Bears, as the veteran receiver has signed with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings announced the move on Friday, with terms of the deal undisclosed. The former Baylor star led the Bears with 59 catches for 614 yards last season, finding the end zone once. Wright will give new Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins another weapon alongside star receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.

Wright put together a promising second season with the Titans in 2013, topping 1,000 yards and looking like a future star. He’s never come close since, however, looming as nothing more than a fallback option for those of you enthused by the concept of fantasy football.

However, there’s only a select few who could make a real play for the embattled Pro Bowl pass catcher. As we’ve seen, that already includes the up-and-coming Los Angeles Rams.

We can now add their NFC West counterparts, the San Francisco 49ers, to the mix.

Very much in the same proactive mode as the Rams, trying to build a top offense around a young play-calling head coach, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported Friday. I continue to hear San Francisco is monitoring this thing closely, has real interest, and this could shape up as a very interested NFC West arms race.

In no way should this be a surprise. While active this offseason, the 49ers decided against adding a receiver in free agency.

I got kind of sick. I went to the hospital, Butler said. They probably thought I was kind of late on the game plan; I wasn’t as locked in as I should be and could have been a matchup deal. It could have been anything. But [ Patriots coach] Bill Belichick has been doing this for a very long time.

Tom Brady cusses during interview, says defensive coordinators’aren’t smart’

If Tom Brady has made one thing clear this offseason, it’s that he hates strawberries.

As a matter of fact, before 2018, Brady had never even eaten a strawberry during his 40-and-a-half years on the earth. However, that all changed on March 12, when Stephen Colbert somehow convinced Brady to eat a strawberry for the first-time ever during a visit to The Late Show.

I grew up in California and I had an aunt that lived in Central California. And when she’d drive to see us, she would stop at the fruit stands on the side of the road, and she’d get these big trays of strawberries, Brady said, via NPR.org. And she’d bring them up to our house, and she would put them into our refrigerator. And every time the refrigerator door was opened, the smell of strawberries would permeate the room. And I could not stand it. And since then, I’ve never eaten a strawberry. The thought of a strawberry is just… terrible for me.

Basically, Brady hates the smell of strawberries and he’s apparently been tortured by it his entire life.

Richardon’s deal includes a $10 million signing bonus, along with a fully guaranteed base salary of $1.5 million in 2018.

His 2019 base salary of $5 million is guaranteed for injury at the time of signing, and $1 million of that amount is fully guaranteed. The balance becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2019 league year.

The 2020 base salary of $5 million includes a $3.5 million injury guarantee at signing, $2 million of which is fully guaranteed.

In 2021 and 2022, Richardson has base salaries of $7.5 million each year. The contract also has per-game roster bonuses of $500,000 each year, along with $150,000 in de-escalators based on participation in the offseason workout program.

He is willing to move to free safety and flank Landon Collins in order to save his value for the team.

While Cousins is, was, and was always going to be free agency’s biggest story, that was just one of the earth-shattering developments happening on Monday and Tuesday. Here were the biggest shakeups before free agency even started.

Before free agency, there were four teams in the running for Cousins: the Vikings, Broncos, Jets, and Cardinals. Now all of those teams have a starting veteran quarterback or are in the process of finalizing one for 2018.

But the nickel back is too rich to keep for a new regime that’s reconstructing the defense, too.

He isn’t solid anymore, is often injured, is recently coming off a 10-game PED suspension and is going into his 10th season at age 31. There’s no upside to keeping him for Romeo Crennel.

Maclin had so much promise as a key receiver for Joe Flacco after signing with Baltimore late in the offseason, but injuries played a part in his limited production. The Ravens should prefer keeping Mike Wallace over him. Maclin is more likely to be cut than to stay at a reduced salary.

They added Mike Glennon later in the day for insurance.

The Jets were the last team in the mix to land a quarterback, signing a one-year a deal with Bridgewater. New York is a good landing spot for Bridgewater, who will have the chance to prove he can get back to form after missing most of the past two seasons rehabbing a knee injury that was so devastating it could have ended his career.

They brought back Josh McCown, too.

The Jets have the No. 6 pick in the 2018 draft. They could still draft their franchise quarterback of the future and let him learn and develop behind Bridgewater for now.

Brees to re-sign with Saints on two-year, $50M deal Triplett: Breaking down Brees, all Saints signings It’s difficult to imagine Brees and the Saints parting ways, especially with the team again competitive and without his heir on the roster.

Predicting surprise: Young players who could shine for Nationals, Astros in 2018

Devenski was drafted in the late rounds by the White Sox in 2011, but he was traded to Houston in August of the following year. When Devenski first reached the majors in 2016, he was used in long relief and occasionally as a spot starter. He did well, but once he took on the role of late-inning reliever last season, Devenski appeared to hit his stride.

Why he could break out: With the new role, Devenski struck out batters at a higher rate and held them to a lower batting average than in 2016. Opposing hitters batted .206 against him in his rookie year, but Devenski dropped that to .174 last season, and his strikeout rate jumped from 25.5 percent to 31.7 in 2017. Devenski also gave up slightly less hard contact, but he did throw more pitches per plate appearances and walk batters at a higher rate than he did in his rookie year.

It’s fair to say that most free-agent contracts are really one- or two-year deals with various team options tacked on the end, and that the Cousins contract is about sacrificing money to wipe away those unguaranteed team options at the end of the deal.

It will be difficult for other players to follow this path, if only because they don’t have the sort of leverage Cousins did.

The pocket quarterback attrition rate and career path makes it far friendlier to go year-to-year, as Cousins did, than it is at other positions.

It might become the new norm for quarterbacks, but think about a truly transcendent franchise player at another position: J.J.

Watt.

“Last year was great. A lot of these guys came of age and viewed it as a very successful season, but I think what stands out being in that room right now is each guy I’ve spoken to, the hunger is there and there’s no satisfaction with what they’re able to accomplish. We understand it’s a very tough road. That will be one of our messages, especially for young players who have had success.”

The Yankees have a couple roster battles at second and third base. Gleyber Torres, a top-ranked prospect, is the favorite to win the second base job, but third base is more open. Fellow prospect Miguel Andujar is a candidate, but the Yankees have also been linked with free agent Mike Moustakas in recent weeks.

“We’ve got several guys now in camp,” Boone said. “We’ve got a couple of veteran guys who are part of the mix. Obviously with guys like Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade and Miguel Andujar, all real opportunities are right in front of them, as they’re kind of knocking on the door as that next wave of guys we think — whether it’s immediately or certainly down the road — guys we feel really good that are going to impact our Major League club for a really long time.”