Falcons have ‘no time frame’ on Matt Ryan extension

Atlanta Falcons:Matt Ryan

Waiting for the Atlanta Falcons to re-sign Matt Ryan and reset the quarterback market? Don’t hold your breath.

Even though the Falcons would like to dictate the pace of the inevitable QB carousel, as NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday, Atlanta is in no rush to finish Ryan’s extension before the start of free agency, when Kirk Cousins is expected to break the bank with record figures.

“I’m not concerned,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told reporters when asked about Ryan’s contract Wednesday. “Like I’ve said before, our focus is on Matt and getting him secured here for years to come. He wants to be with us, we want him to be here. As I’ve said, I don’t think it’s a complicated situation. I think it’s a significant situation. He’s a very important part to the organization. There’s no time frame on it right now.

Matt Ryan

“I think you would like to go into the season making sure that things are secured but there’s no time frame as far as people saying, ‘Well, do you want to get this done before free agency?’ Of course you’d like to get it done tomorrow, just because it’s a load off your mind.”

Ryan is entering the final season of a five-year, $103.8 million extension he signed in 2013. The 2016 league MVP is slated to make $19.25 million in 2018, the highest base salary among QBs behind Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — who is also up for an extension.

Since Ryan last signed a contract, QB numbers have increased steadily. Just last year alone, Derek Carr ($25M), Matthew Stafford ($27M) and Jimmy Garoppolo ($27.5M) each held the title, albeit briefly, of Highest-Paid Player in the League Based on Average Salary (HPPLBAS, for short?).

Will Ryan earn that moniker at some point? The league year begins March 14. After that, all bets are off.

Goodell: ‘Positive reaction’ to running clock after XPs

Roger Goodell has speed on the mind.

When the NFL Commissioner sat down with NFL Network’s Judy Battista on Thursday, the pace of the game — and, specifically, how to increase it — loomed large.

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“It has been an effort for a long period of time. We’ve talked about the length of the game,” Goodell said. “This effort’s not as focused on the length of the game. This is focused on what’s happening outside the plays — how fast we get cheap jerseys and the ball set, the number of breaks, the number of intrusions — so that fans can focus on the action.”

Goodell stressed a desire to see fewer “interruptions that are unnecessary or unnecessary in length,” saying the league has a “whole package of things that we’ve studied over the last year” to speed things up.

One idea? The concept of a “shot clock” that would tick off between an extra point and the ensuing kickoff.

“I think there was a very positive reaction to that,” Goodell said of NFL’s Competition Committee. “Most of the players that are on the extra point — maybe a tight end, maybe a kicker — are not on the kickoff team. So their special teams coaches will have to get prepared for the kickoff team and get them out there. Of course, this is when we don’t go to a commercial break. But there’s a lot of wasted time in there where, again, we want to take that out of the game. And this does not affect the 156 plays during the game. This is all about outside of the plays and what we can do to try with China jerseys and take that downtime out.”

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That plan would include tweaking the current format of sandwiching commercial breaks around the kickoff, which Goodell acknowledged as giving fans “an excuse to step out and do something else.”

“We call those the ‘double-ups.’ They drive me crazy, they drive a lot of people crazy,” Goodell said. “They actually happen about 27 percent of the time. Your reaction, feels like more, everybody says the same thing. I think that’s why you want to get rid of wholesale jerseys. So our aim is to eliminate that.”

Said Goodell: “It’s not necessarily the length (of commercial breaks), it’s the number. So we’re gonna reduce it by 25 percent. We’re gonna add a commercial to each of those (breaks) but it’s something we’re testing with our fans, (and) they actually didn’t even notice that. What they notice is the number of breaks.”

The Browns hold a whopping 22 draft picks over the next two years — 11 in 2017 and 11 in 2018. And we’re not talking about a scrap pile of third-day selections, either. The Browns hold a pair of first-round picks and a pair of second-round picks in the upcoming draft (April 27-29), and the only round in which they don’t have a selection is the last (seventh). And after an unusual trade with the Houston Texans Thursday in which they picked up a quarterback they might not even keep in Brock Osweiler, along with a 2018 second-round pick, the Browns’ 2018 draft is even more front-loaded with three second-round choices.

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Nike Patriots #21 Malcolm Butler White Super Bowl LI Champions Men's Stitched NFL New Elite JerseyThe question now is, what will Cleveland do with all that leverage? A trade for New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo jersey could be on the Browns’ wish list.

But the Browns were in no hurry to trade picks in last year’s draft, and they certainly had more than enough leverage to do it. Cleveland made 14 draft picks last year, giving them, as of now, 36 picks over a three-year stretch from 2016-2018.

Woodhead, who spent the past four seasons in San Diego with the Chargers, suffered a season-ending ACL injury last September in the team’s Week 2 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars jersey. Rapoport reports Woodhead is now fully healthy after undergoing surgery to repair the tear.

The running back joined the Chargers in 2013 after stints with the New York Jets and New England Patriots. In his first year with the Bolts in NFL jerseys from China, he finished the regular season with the most touchdown catches among NFL running backs and the second-most receptions and receiving yards.

Since then, Woodhead has been plagued by the injury bug. A broken ankle sidelined him for the majority of the team’s 2014 campaign.

By signing with Baltimore, Woodhead will be reunited with former teammate Eric Weddle, who signed with club last offseason.

Tom Brady’s drama-filled season always pointed to Super Bowl LI

Since the first week of the season, it has seemed inevitable that it would end this way, with Tom Brady jersey in his seventh Super Bowl and two years of drama finally winding down to one final scene.

From the moment the New England Patriots beat the Arizona Cardinals in the one game they seemed most likely to lose without Brady — on the road, in prime time, in the first start of Jimmy Garoppolo’s career — the trajectory of the Patriots’ season was set. That first month certified Bill Belichick’s ability to adapt to his circumstances, without Brady and then, incredibly, without Garoppolo, too, shutting out the Houston Texans jerseys with rookie third-stringer Jacoby Brissett under center. But everything after — the 13-1 record since Brady came off his suspension, the nearly flawless regular-season statistics, the relentlessness of the Patriots’ offense even after Rob Gronkowski jersey was hurt — was testament to Brady’s own ability to compartmentalize and carry on.

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“The team was 3-1 at that point, so I didn’t want to screw it up,” Brady said this week. “The team was playing great. I just wanted to come in and do my job as best I could. I always try to be the same person and the same leader for our team. I’ve really tried to show up every day and work as hard as I can. That didn’t change in October. That won’t change tomorrow. That won’t change next season.”

But there were subtle changes this year, a barely perceptible frisson of tension that was never far from the smooth surface of Brady’s public persona. He avoided questions about whether this season was about avenging the suspension, but he also never definitively said he was over it. Instead, he said in one recent appearance that perhaps he would share his feelings about Commissioner Roger Goodell after the season was over.

The Patriots seemed unusually relaxed and loose this week, and owner Robert Kraft jersey, who has been the most outspoken about his ire over Brady’s suspension, spoke of it being such a privilege to play in the Super Bowl that he wanted the players to relish and enjoy it. And then, earlier this week, it was revealed just how much was weighing on Brady all this time, and his carefully controlled emotions came ever so slightly loose. He choked up while saying his father is his hero, and not long after came a report by CSN New England that Brady’s mother had been having health issues for more than a year and had been unable to attend a game all season.

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Jonas Gray New England Patriots Nike Women's Game Jersey“It has been a challenging year for my family for some personal reasons,” he said.

In truth, it always has seemed overly simplistic to think that Brady’s superlative performance this season was solely the product of the sting of scorn. Brady uses slights to drive himself like many athletes do — that he was a sixth-round draft pick is fuel that will help propel him all the way to eventual induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame — but the suggestion that his suspension was responsible seemed somehow to shortchange everything else about Brady’s extraordinary effort, from his minutely controlled diet to his exacting demands of his teammates.

At 39, he is playing with the precision of his 10-years-younger self. His 67.4 completion percentage is second-best of his career (he completed 68.9 percent in 2007), and his interception rate of 0.5 percent is the lowest of his career. He can still throw a deep ball and slide from pressure in the pocket. Is Brady still angry at the NFL about his suspension? Probably, and perhaps he always will be. Is that why he is as sharp now as when he was 25? Only if you include the fact that one less month of physical battering in September — replaced by games of catch with college players and an Italian vacation with his wife — might mean his body feels fresher this late in the NFL year than it has in any of his previous seasons.

Still, listen closely to Brady in recent days and it is clear that a quest for respect is ongoing.

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“At different parts, I looked at a lot of the guys that I’ve played with over the years, and there was a time when the Patriots weren’t a very good team, and no one gave us a lot of respect,” Brady said. “Teammates like Rodney Harrison jersey, that always said, ‘They don’t respect us! They don’t respect us!’ I think that was always a good metric for us. I think feeling that way and feeling like you need to earn other people’s respect is a great source of motivation for me. I think my main motivation is representing my family, representing my team, representing my teammates, representing our fans. That gets me motivated every week. I want to do great for them. I want to try to go out and win every time we take the field.”

He and the Patriots have done nearly that again. This would seem to be another legacy-defining moment for them, and to reach it, they will have to outduel an offense even more explosive than their own and overcome a fast, young defense. Brady grew up idolizing Joe Montana, and if Brady completes the oddest season of his career with a victory Sunday, he will move ahead of Montana with five Super Bowl championships. Wherever the suspension will be noted on his résumé — and whatever impetus it has provided for this season — it will be overwhelmed by all of those championships.

Tony Dungy once said Peyton Manning jersey had dominated his era like no one except maybe Otto Graham, who played 10 seasons of professional football and took his team to the championship game each season, winning seven of them.

But that was before Brady reached his most recent three Super Bowls, before he won his fourth championship. Before it became clear that a season blemished by suspension might very well culminate in celebration.

Jimmy Garoppolo, Brissett throw at Patriots practice

New England’s pair of on-the-mend quarterbacks are making progress.

Both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett jersey were seen by reporters throwing short passes during Wednesday’s portion of practice open to the media. The two Patriots signal-callers were also on the field for Tuesday’s session.

The duo “worked on pocket mobility and lighter throws” during a pair of positional periods on Wednesday, per Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, who noted that Garoppolo “didn’t favor his throwing shoulder at any point during stretching or the throwing drills.”

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Howe also noted that Brissett, who saw an equal rash of snaps, “had tape on his thumb and didn’t appear to be bothered” by the sprained thumb he suffered in last Thursday’s romp over the Texans. Both quarterbacks were listed as limited participants on the Patriots’ official practice report.

Garoppolo, who suffered a sprained AC joint in a Week 2 win over the Dolphins, talked Wednesday about his range of motion as “coming along,” while remaining cryptic about cheap jerseys and his chance to start Sunday against the Bills.

“You know, you always want to be out there,” Garoppolo said. “It’s part of football, part of being a competitor. You want to be the guy out there and be the one running the show.”

Brissett was equally hazy about Sunday’s status, saying only: “That’s coach (Bill Belichick’s) decision. I can’t make that decision.”

Asked if the thumb is toying with his grip on the football jerseys, Brissett responded in appropriately robotic Patriots jargon, saying: “Just something I deal with. Whatever happens just happens and whatever coach wants me to do with wholesale MLB jerseys, I’ll do.”

Although the muscle is torn, the tendon is not. That means Ninkovich will rehab the injury rather than undergo surgery, per Rapoport. The hope is that the 11th-year veteran can return at some point in October.

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Cincinnati Bengals Youth 2015 AFC West Division Champions Next Level T-ShirtA versatile defensive leader, Ninkovich led the Patriots’ front seven in snaps last season, recording 6.5 sacks and a career-high seven pass deflections. He has not only started all 80 regular-season games for New England over the past five seasons, but also boasts the third-longest streak of consecutive games played (102) among NFL defensive ends.

Along with Pro Bowlers J.J. Watt jersey and Calais Campbell, Ninkovich is one of just three players with at least 40 sacks and 350 tackles since 2010, per NFL research.

The Pats were counting on Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard to hold down starting duties after trading Pro Bowl edge rusher Chandler Jones to the Cardinals in March. Now they will need reclamation project Chris Long and 2015 draft picks Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers to shoulder a heavier load early in the season.

Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law Program, told NFL Network on Monday that Brady’s chances of being granted another appeal — and winning it — are low.

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“I think Tom Brady’s first step might be to try to get a stay to try to get the suspension put on pause essentially while this continues to wind its way through the courts,” Feldman said. “But Tom Brady’s next step is to make an en banc appeal to ask the entire second circuit to hear that — those are very rarely granted. And even more rare is the Supreme Court to hear this case. So Tom Brady is almost out of chances. I think any chance he has left is very slim.”

Brady was originally suspended for violating the NFL policy on the integrity of the game after independent investigator Ted Wells found that it was “more probable than not” that the quarterback was “at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities” regarding the deflation of Patriots footballs used in the January 2015 AFC Championship Game against the Colts.

The Patriots were also fined $1 million NFL jerseys and forfeit a 2016 first-round draft pick and 2017 fourth-round selection for the offense.

New England will open the season with 2014 second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo under center versus the Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans and Bills.