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Friday, August 23, 2019

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Stephen Jones: Nothing imminent in Cowboys’ contract talks

Dak Prescott

The Dallas Cowboys have three key players they want to get locked up to new contracts, but the organization itself doesn’t feel they’re close to an agreement with any of them.

According to Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, nothing is “imminent” in contract talks with any players. That would likely refer to wide receiver Amari Cooper, quarterback Dak Prescott, and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

There has not been much recent word on Cooper and Prescott. Both are free agents after the season, though Cooper seems most willing to play out the final year of his deal. Prescott would be a candidate for the franchise tag, as he’s played hardball with the Cowboys. Jones’ quote may be most relevant to Elliott’s situation. Rumors had been building that the star running back, still absent from camp, was moving closer to a new deal with the Cowboys. His actions on Friday, however, indicate that might not be the case.

Max Scherzer admits he still has concerns over back injury

Max Scherzer

Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer returned to the mound for the first time since July 25 on Thursday night, but he knows he still has to monitor his back injury.

After getting through four innings of work against the Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday, Scherzer played catch without incident on Friday. He admitted, however, that the rhomboid strain in his back cannot be assumed to be completely behind him.

Scherzer is 35 years old and is well aware he has to watch himself physically. The Nationals are in the heat of a playoff race, sitting 1.5 games in front for the first Wild Card spot in the National League. They need Scherzer and his 2.41 ERA to keep them there, and another injury would seriously hurt their chances, even though they did well in his absence. Expect the Nationals to be cautious with Scherzer down the stretch to ensure that he stays healthy, as they already have been doing.

Equanimeous St. Brown expected to miss 4-6 weeks with ankle injury

Green Bay Packers logo

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Equanmieous St. Brown suffered an ankle injury during Thursday night’s preseason game against the Oakland Raiders in Canada, and it is expected to keep him out through Week 1 and beyond.

St. Brown was diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain and is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

Aaron Rodgers and several other key players on both sides sat out Thursday night’s game due to concerns over the field conditions in Winnipeg, so you have to wonder if that played a role in St. Brown’s injury. The game ended up being played under some modified conditions.

Brown is expected to take on a bigger role in Green Bay’s passing offense in his second NFL season. He caught 21 passes for 328 yards last year.

Ezekiel Elliott retweet hints at possible contract demands

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott has not said much about his contract standoff with the Dallas Cowboys, but the Dallas Cowboys running back dropped a strong hint of what he’s looking for in a retweet Friday.

Elliott’s Twitter account retweeted a comment by former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas. In that tweet, Thomas suggested that players who are cited as the best at their position often sign a second contract worth 15 to 20 percent more than the current highest-paid player at that position. All of those scenarios apply to Elliott, who is considered one of the best backs in the NFL and is in line to sign his second contract with the Cowboys.

At the moment, the highest average running back salary in the NFL is that of Rams back Todd Gurley, who’s averaging $14,375,000 per season. A 15 percent raise on that would come out to slightly over $16.5 million per year, which may be an indicator of what Elliott is looking for from the Cowboys. Elliott has been consistently better than Gurley statistically when healthy. In his two full seasons of action, the Cowboys star has rushed for 1,631 and 1,434 yards, both leading the NFL and both better than Gurley’s career high of 1,305 yards in 2017.

While public negotiations and statements have taken a negative turn in recent days, there appears to be growing optimism that a deal could come quite soon. Elliott simply appears to be sharing a public reminder of what he feels he deserves for his accomplishments.

NBA investigation clears Luke Walton of sexual assault allegations

Luke Walton

A joint investigation by the NBA and Sacramento Kings cleared coach Luke Walton of allegations of sexual assault, citing no sufficient basis to support the allegations.

The Kings and the NBA issued a statement Friday, saying their investigation determined that there was not enough evidence to back the allegations made by former reporter Kelli Tennant. Notably, Tennant did not speak to investigators, and the probe could be re-opened if new evidence comes to light.

Tennant accused Walton of forcibly kissing and groping her in her hotel room while she objected. The alleged incident happened when Walton was still coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in May 2017.

Walton will embark on his first year as Sacramento’s head coach this season. He’s fresh off three seasons with the Lakers, in which he went 98-148 as head coach and failed to make a playoff appearance.

Baker Mayfield says pre-draft questions were ‘sickening’

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield drew a lot of comparisons to Johnny Manziel when he was coming out of college at Oklahoma two years ago, and many of them were unfair. Still, he ruffled enough feathers that NFL teams probably had tougher questions for him than the average first-round talent, and Mayfield says that resulted in a terrible pre-draft experience for him.

In his recent interview with Clay Skipper of GQ, Mayfield recalled the way NFL teams grilled him in the weeks and months leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft. He appreciated the opportunity to be able to speak for himself, but he described the process as “sickening.”

“Oh, God, it was sickening,” Mayfield said. “‘What were you thinking when you got arrested? What were you thinking when you played Kansas and grabbed your crotch? Are you gonna mature?’ Blah blah blah.

“If I could see the future, I’d tell you what’s gonna f—ing happen. But I think that was the best part about that process. I got to answer those questions for the first time, instead of the media putting it all out there. I got to answer it and say it in my own words.”

Mayfield was arrested in 2017 and eventually pled guilty to charges related to public intoxication. He also drew criticism for making inappropriate gestures and taunting opposing fans, and he made national headlines for planting an Oklahoma flag on Ohio State’s field logo after the Sooners’ upset win over the Buckeyes. Mayfield told GQ that he found it “just jaw-dropping” that Oklahoma officials made him apologize for the flag stunt, and he didn’t mean a word of the apology.

In addition to proving he is capable of playing at a high level in the NFL, Mayfield has already shown he is not Manziel. He’s still a polarizing figure who might make headlines for controversial reasons, but the Manziel comparisons were unfair. The Browns are probably patting themselves on the back for being able to see the difference despite how poorly their decision to draft Manziel turned out.

Colts to reportedly hold Jacoby Brissett out of third preseason game

Jacoby Brissett

There are still some indications that the Indianapolis Colts are not certain that quarterback Andrew Luck will be ready to start in Week 1 of the NFL season.

According to Zak Keefer of The Athletic, the Colts will not play backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The 26-year-old is still listed as the Colts’ starter on the depth chart and will remain in that spot until Luck proves he can practice. Indianapolis will be holding starters out of Saturday’s game, and for now, Brissett fits that label.

Brissett has 17 NFL starts to his name, with 15 of them coming in 2017. He threw for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns, and seven interceptions that year.

There are still some major physical issues that Luck is reportedly having. There’s some optimism in this report about his Week 1 availability, but for now, everyone is still holding their breath as to whether he can play or not.

Nick Saban explains why he invited Ray Rice to speak to Alabama players

Nick Saban

Ray Rice has been working for years to prove that he is not the same person who was seen on video physically abusing his then-fiancee, and he has a believer in Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Saban, who has had a number of controversial figures speak to the Crimson Tide over the years, told reporters on Thursday that Rice is in town this week to address the team. The six-time national champion says he has “tremendous respect” for Rice and feels the former Baltimore Ravens star has plenty to share with young players.

“Well, he’s obviously going to talk about how to treat the opposite sex and having the proper respect for other people,” Saban said, via Michael Casagrande of AL.com. “And I think that’s important to relationships. It’s important as a person to be able to do those things in a very respectful manner.

“I think a lot of the players can relate to (Rice’s) circumstance. And it will be interesting to hear a guy that has had issues that now has turned a corner and has really done everything he can to help other people not have the same problem that he has.”

Rice has since married the woman whom he was shown punching in a casino elevator back in 2014. He was released by the Ravens and never got another shot in the NFL after the footage surfaced, but he has said in interviews that the second chance he got from his wife, Janay, is far more important than that.

Rice has offered to help NFL players who have gotten themselves into similar situations, so it’s no surprise he took Saban up on the offer to speak at Alabama.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys to complete new deal over the weekend?

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott remained in Mexico training this week as his representatives continue to negotiate a long-term contract extension with the Dallas Cowboys, and there seems to be a growing sense that the two sides are making progress.

ESPN’s Jeff Darlington said this week he has been told by a trusted source that Elliott and the Cowboys are expected to reach an agreement prior to Week 1. That meshes with what two Dallas-area radio personalities were reporting on Friday, which is that the Cowboys are willing to pay Elliott close to Todd Gurley money and a deal could be completed before the start of next week.

It may seem like the relationship between Elliott and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is icy at the moment, especially after a recent sarcastic remark Jones made about the running back. However, most of the reports about the negotiations claim the Elliott situation is nowhere near as tense as the one Le’Veon Bell had with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, and it is unlikely that Elliott will sit out through Week 1.

The Cowboys are coming off a disappointing Wild Card loss in the playoffs, and they have the potential to have one of the best offenses in the NFC with Elliott, Dak Prescott and a full season of Amari Cooper. Jones knows that, and he seems to have a way of keeping his star players around.

Tom Brady hints eccentric hat was a preview of things to come

Tom Brady

Cam Newton is typically the player that draws the most attention for his fashion when the Carolina Panthers play a game, but Tom Brady’s wardrobe selection became an attention-grabber before and after Thursday’s preseason matchup. Apparently, we can expect to see more of that from the New England Patriots quarterback going forward.

Here’s a look at the hat Brady rocked at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night:

Some people thought Brady may have been trolling Newton, who is known for making some truly unique fashion statements during press conferences. However, Brady tweeted on Friday that his hat the night before was just a sneak preview of what’s to come.

Brady turned 42 this offseason and has won six Super Bowls, so he’s at a point where he can pretty much do whatever he wants. Any hat he wears is bound to become a major fashion trend.