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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Football

Report: Greg Olsen signs two-year extension with Panthers

Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen has been openly seeking a new contract since last offseason, and the star tight end has finally come to an agreement with the Carolina Panthers.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Olsen has signed a two-year extension with the Panthers that has the potential to make him the highest-paid tight end in football.

Olsen has been Cam Newton’s favorite target over the years, and he eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016. He missed several games last season with a foot injury but proved he is still capable of producing with a nine-catch, 116-yard game against the Green Bay Packers in December.

With Olsen having gotten a new deal from the Panthers, you have to wonder how that will affect the contract situation of another star tight end who wants more money.

Report: NFL teams not inclined to judge Josh Allen based on offensive tweets

Josh Allen has suddenly seen some red flags about his character pop up on the day of the NFL Draft, but it does not sound like that is going to be an issue for the former Wyoming star when things get rolling on Thursday night.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the vulgar tweets Allen sent in high school have mostly been explained to NFL teams as song lyric quotes or jokes among friends. More importantly for Allen, teams don’t seem concerned since he was so young when he wrote them.

The tweets, which contained some racist and inappropriate language, have since been deleted. You can read some of what Allen wrote here.

Allen was somewhere around the age of 17 when the tweets in question were written, so you can understand why NFL teams aren’t that concerned. He did not get into any off-field trouble during college, and there have been no major questions about his character. Some people believe an NFL team may have called attention to the tweets in hopes that Allen would fall to them in the first round, but it seems unlikely that he is going to tumble very far, if at all.

Saints have reportedly looked into making ‘big leap’ up draft board

Sean Payton binoculars

The time has come for the Saints to start thinking about an eventual replacement for Drew Brees, and this year’s draft class is considered deep at the quarterback position. New Orleans may not have a shot at one of the four big QB prospects at their current draft slot, but they are apparently looking into ways to remedy that.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Saints have made calls to teams about the potential of making a “big leap” up the board in Round 1.

If the Saints do end up making a significant trade to move up, that means everything head coach Sean Payton has said about this year’s QB class must be a smoke screen. Trading up in the first round can be costly, so the Saints would probably have to be in love with a player to pull the trigger on a deal like that.

Team leaked Josh Allen tweets to increase chances of QB falling to them?

Josh Allen Wyoming

Josh Allen could not have asked for a worse time for his vulgar tweets from several years ago to go viral, and there are some who believe the timing was anything but a coincidence.

In fact, ESPN’s Adam Schefter spoke with two people who wonder if an NFL team may have been behind Allen’s old tweets just now surfacing. The motive? Causing the former Wyoming star’s draft stock fall to the point where a certain team that may not have had a shot at him before has one now.

We hear all the time how the NFL is a cold-hearted business, but that would be the highest form of petty. The tweets, which have since been deleted but you can read here, were sent when Allen was a teenager and well before he enrolled at Wyoming. He probably should have done a better job of cleaning up his social media accounts, but there have been no red flags surrounding him off the field.

While it seems highly unlikely that Allen will tumble down the draft board over some things he said when he was 16 years old, we know how desperate NFL teams can be to find their next franchise QB. Anything is possible.

Report: One team has third-round grade on Lamar Jackson, another undrafted

Lamar Jackson

Depending on who you ask, Lamar Jackson could go anywhere from the first 15 picks in the NFL Draft to somewhere in the middle rounds. As far as one team is concerned, the former Heisman Trophy winner shouldn’t be drafted at all.

There was a lot of talk leading up to the NFL Scouting Combine about Jackson potentially working out as a wide receiver, and at least one team feels changing positions is his only chance of playing at the NFL level. In discussing the Patriots’ reported interest in Jackson, Jeff Howe of The Athletic was told by sources that one team grades Jackson as a third-round prospect while another has him going undrafted.

There’s so much hype that it seems like a lock Jackson will be a first-round pick. But one team, which has leadership figures who hail from the Bill Belichick tree, has a third-round grade on Jackson. With a similar philosophy as the Patriots, would that team’s thinking be all that different from that of Belichick? That will ultimately be answered Thursday night.

Another team graded Jackson as an undrafted free agent. The team didn’t believe Jackson could play quarterback at an NFL level. Obviously, with all of this information in mind, it’s possible that team is right, or it’s possible that team misevaluated Jackson. Maybe that team’s philosophy is starkly different from the Patriots.

The Patriots currently have two first-round picks — No. 23 and No. 31. Jackson could conceivably fall to them at either of those spots, but Belichick almost never does what people expect him to do in the draft. Although, it is starting to sound like this year could be an exception.

Concerns about Jackson’s style of play make sense. He’s incredibly athletic and made a lot of plays with his legs at Louisville, and those types of QBs tend to take too many hits in the NFL. That doesn’t mean teams won’t be willing to take a chance on him, and the possibility of him going undrafted is nonexistent.

Report: ‘Mounting belief’ Browns will take Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall

Baker Mayfield

With just hours to go before we find out which quarterback will be the first one selected in a loaded draft class, it sounds as though the first overall pick may end up being the surprise of the night.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that there is a “mounting belief” among NFL coaches and front office executives that the Cleveland Browns are going to take Baker Mayfield to kick things off in Arlington.

The Browns obviously know who they are going to pick, but they have done a great job of not letting that information leak out to the public. Previous reports indicated that they had narrowed their decision down to Sam Darnold and Josh Allen, with the former being considered the safer choice and the latter possessing a better arm than maybe any QB prospect ever.

But if the Browns pick Mayfield, that would be somewhat of a shock. The former Oklahoma star has drawn comparisons to Johnny Manziel, both for his style of play and some of the extracurricular antics he became known for in college. That said, our QB draft rankings give you an idea of how highly we think of Mayfield. Cleveland could do a lot worse.

Josh Allen apologizes after offensive tweets from high school surface

Josh Allen Wyoming

Josh Allen will likely be one of the first players selected in Thursday’s NFL Draft, but the team that picks him may have to answer some unexpected questions about the former Wyoming quarterback’s character.

On Wednesday, offensive tweets that Allen sent several years ago began going viral. Some of them included racist and homophobic language. The tweets have since been deleted, but not before they were captured by Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports. Here’s what some of them said:

“@cheriishhh: i dont think you ni—s want a troubled son!”

“@J_Prodigy_5: @Alpha_Patlan (uhh) stay schemin … Ni—s Trying To Get At Me. doe.”

“Why are you so white? — If it ain’t white, it ain’t right!”

“*punches beaniboy f—–t in throat*”

The tweets were written when Allen was in high school and well before he enrolled at Wyoming. He acknowledged them to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith late Wednesday night and said he was “young and dumb” when he sent them. For what it’s worth, one team with a top-five pick in the draft told ESPN’s Adam Schefter they had no knowledge of the tweets and have “never heard anything but positives” about Allen.

Since Allen was so young when the tweets were sent, it seems highly unlikely that they will impact his draft stock. Still, the situation is yet another reminder (we saw something very similar with a Villanova star during the NCAA Tournament) that social media can create issues for athletes. Cleaning up social media accounts should be a priority for athletes looking to turn pro.

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