Is 2018 a make-or-break year for Jason Garrett?

Jason Garrett became head coach of the Cowboys during the 2010 season. His ability to extend his tenure beyond 2018 could hinge on whether the team makes it to the playoffs in 2018.

Garrett’s ability to coexist with owner Jerry Jones, allowing Jones to have the spotlight while Garrett grinds away, has helped him survive for more than seven seasons despite making it to the playoffs only twice. That may not save Garrett if he fails to qualify for the postseason for the sixth time in eight seasons.

It appears San Francisco is giving pricey free-agent addition Jerick McKinnon his chance to be more of a feature back. Although McKinnon has some Tevin Coleman-like qualities, coach Kyle Shanahan is touting him as a Devonta Freeman-like lead back. But given this is the new, explosive 49ers offense led by Jimmy Garoppolo, their going for the gold of Barkley can’t be ruled out.

Acquiring Barkley probably would require a slight slide, but the Niners are equipped with a second-rounder and two third-rounders, giving them some flexibility to move up a little. Shanahan’s gushing, drooling and geeking out on McKinnon, though, would make this pick come out of left field.

Chris Simms selected the Patriots in last week’s PFT Live draft of ideal destinations for Beckham, and Belichick now has the draft capital to get Beckham, if Belichick wants him.

In one career regular-season game against New England, Beckham caught four passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots beat the Giants, 27-26.

The bigger question is whether the Patriots would pay Beckham anything remotely close to what Beckham wants — and he supposedly wants something in the range of $20 million per year. Then there’s the question of whether Beckham would fit with the Patriot Way, which requires players to surrender most traces of individuality to a bigger picture that emphasizes team over self. Seven years ago, Chad Johnson never really meshed with the Patriots, possibly due to the fact that he felt compelled to be something other than who he is.bills_061

NFL needs to show what is and is not a penalty under new helmet rule

Before passing the new catch rule, the NFL provided specific examples of plays (such as the infamous Dez Bryant and Jesse James overturned catches) that would be officiated differently under the new rule. But in passing the new rule on lowering the helmet, the NFL has provided no such examples.

Manning has somehow found new life as the Giants’ starter after the mess that was the end of the Jerry Reese-Ben McAdoo era late last season. The starting quarterback was far from the lone culprit during that 2017 disaster, but his declining play forces New York to keep QB in mind with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Unless the Giants think they can find Manning’s replacement from another team or in a future draft, they can’t pass on this year’s opportunity.

Jimmy Garoppolo, New England’s golden goose who was slated to become Brady’s replacement, will be suiting up in gold and red for the foreseeable future after his trade to San Francisco. That leaves the Patriots with a soon-to-be 41-year-old Brady and a 32-year-old Hoyer as their only passers. That might be OK for the short term, especially if Brady delivers on his goal to play into his mid-40s. But considering the Pats were willing to draft a potential Brady replacement when he was 36, there’s a good chance they do it again with Brady at 40.

The 6-foot-2, 315-pound Logan has played in 74 career games in his five-year NFL career, including 63 starts.

Logan tallied 52 tackles and 1.5 sacks for the Chiefs last season in 15 games, including 12 starts.

Over his five seasons in the NFL, he ranks ninth among defensive linemen in “stuffs” (a tackle for loss on a rushing attempt) with 31, according to STATS, Inc.

Prior to joining the Chiefs last season, Logan played four seasons with the Eagles.

“We’re trying to get things started, take advantage of the extra time we have and we want to grow away from basically what happened a year ago, the 3-13 season,” Shurmur said. “We want to grow away from that and try to grow into a team that’s competing to win a division, compete in the playoffs, and then hopefully hold up that fifth Lombardi trophy.bills_049

Ravens Made Offer To Cam Meredtih

The Ravens have made a concerted effort to revamp their receiving corps this offseason, and to that end, they extended an offer to Bears’ restricted free agent Cameron Meredith, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Meredith, however, ultimately decided to sign an offer sheet with the Saints, and Chicago has until Wednesday to either match the offer sheet or let Meredith depart for New Orleans without receiving any draft compensation.

The offer sheet is a two-year, $9.6MM pact ($5.4MM guaranteed), and while Hensley does not give the specifics of Baltimore’s offer, he does indicate that the Ravens’ small amount of cap room limited their ability to potentially bring Meredith into the fold. The Ravens’ salary cap situation also kept them out of the market for the top free agent wideouts this offseason, though the team has done well to acquire Michael Crabtree and John Brown.

The bigger your pool, the more contrarian you need to be. If you are in a pool with 10 of your co-workers, go ahead and stack the top teams and pick all the superstars. There should be enough variety among only 10 teams. But if your friend runs a playoff pool with 50-plus entries, all of a sudden you need to zig a little while everyone else is zagging to have a chance at winning. You don’t want to go completely contrarian, but a couple of sleeper picks will be needed to separate you from the pack. Playing a pool online with thousands of entries? You might need to pick a rematch of the 2001 Cup finals between the New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche. OK, maybe don’t go that far.

Ndamukong Suh chose the Rams. A visit last month to their practice facility helped sway Suh, at age 31, to take a one-year contract, deep into a career that has stamped him as a dominant defensive lineman.

It’s too early to list the Rams among the NFL elite. They’ll need a prove-it year, and a playoff run, in 2018 to deserve those accolades, but by at least one measure, the Rams have arrived. Top players now view the Rams as a destination, and Suh is the 300-pound pied piper who decided to bet on them, and himself.

“I’d say we’re in pretty good shape on paper but we have a lot to prove,” Suh said during Friday’s introductory news conference at Cal Lutheran. “I always play with a chip on my shoulder, and that’s really my focus, to come in here and put in a lot of work and make sure that I prove my worth.”bills_033

Odell Beckham Jr. Plans to Check In with Giants Monday Amid Contract Talks

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is planning to visit with the team Monday for the opening day of its offseason conditioning program.

Beckham told Josina Anderson of ESPN he’ll “check in, workout in the gym and meet with some people” and has a flight to leave later Sunday. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported there will also be a medical check, but that the wideout is then expected to depart for a “long while” until his contract situation is settled.

“I can’t answer that one way or the other,” he told reporters. “I mean we’re certainly not shopping him, if that’s what you’re asking (laughs). But when you’re coming off a season where you’re 3-13 and played as poorly as we played, I wouldn’t say anyone’s untouchable.”

Ralph Vacchiano of SNY called a trade “highly unlikely” based on all the information available as of Friday. He noted the San Francisco 49ers are one team that could make a push for a deal, though.

So, while the Giants will see Beckham on Monday, his next appearance with the team is a mystery.

“The Packers are aware of the matter involving Trevor Davis,” the team said in a statement to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. “We are in the process of gathering more information and we will refrain from making any further comment as it is on ongoing legal matter.”

TMZ Sports first reported the news of Davis’ arrest. Davis’ agent did not immediately reply to a request for comment Monday morning.

A fifth-round draft pick out of Cal in 2016, Davis played in all 16 games last season and caught 24 passes for 289 yards.

Former UC Bearcats standout Connor Barwin, an unrestricted free agent, is scheduled to visit this week with the Arizona Cardinals, according to a report via Twitter from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who cited a source.bills_001

Cowboys’ decision on Bryant could come before off-season program begins April 16

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has not talked to wide receiver Dez Bryant.

He says he doesn’t know whether owner Jerry Jones has talked to him yet either.

Barring injury or meltdown, Marc-Andre Fleury will start every postseason game for Vegas. Altogether terrific since returning from injury in mid-December, Fleury wrapped up 2017-18 in ugly fashion, surrendering six goals on 18 shots through 40 minutes of play against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

If Minnesota manages to beat the odds after losing three of four to the Jets this season, Devan Dubnyk is likely to be one prominent reason why. The Wild goalie has been dominant of late, rocking a .937 save percentage and 1.70 goals-against average in his past seven contests. Up front, a healthy-again Zach Parise skates on a dangerous line with Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund and is turning heads with a dozen goals in 18 games since March 1.

Here’s a retort. Haloti Ngata is well past his prime and Sylvester Williams is a comparable player, especially against the run. I don’t agree about the team’s talent at safety, but obvious upgrades are needed up front, which should be coming via the draft. The Blount deal is one-year, $2 million, so hardly an overpay. There’s potential for him to double the contract’s value if he has a monster year, but that would be a good thing, no?

Your most legitimate concern is the tight end situation. Dumping Eric Ebron has been called a financial decision, but the replacement plan is underwhelming on the surface. Luke Willson offers some untapped potential, but he’s not likely to produce anywhere near Ebron’s level.

It’s the professional equivalent of a graduate assistant at the college level. Quality control coaches have extensive duties scouting the film of future opponents. During practices, they often work as an assistant with a specific position group, sometimes two.

I don’t believe it alters the plan. The goal is always to add as much quality talent as possible. If trading down to add picks costs you the opportunity to add a better player at your original draft slot, there’s no reason to make that move.rams_034

Landon Collins headed for surgery? Giants star not ‘100 percent’ after all

Actually, the Giants star might be far from it and soon need a second surgery on his fractured forearm, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. If that is the case, the timeline for recovery would be 6-8 weeks and take him out of offseason camps, per the report.

While it’s bad news for the Giants and Collins, the silver lining is the estimated timetable still would allow him to be ready in time for training camp. The two-time Pro Bowler also injured his ankle last season and played through the pain.

“Mostly ankle mobility because I hurt my ankle last year,” Collins said of the focus of his offseason training. “That’s the thing I worked on the most, and then endurance. Endurance to continue to be able to run around the field and make plays.”

Collins is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract, with a salary cap hit of $1.94 million. His contract negotiation is an under-the-radar tricky subject for the Giants.

In 2016, the Jets also played at Washington in Week 2 of the preseason. The Jets don’t play any of their 2018 preseason opponents in the 2018 regular season.

So when will the Jets’ regular season schedule be released? Last year, it came out April 20 . So you can probably expect to see it around then — sometime next week.

We already know the Jets’ regular season opponents for 2018 , plus the locations of those games. We just don’t know the dates, times, and TV details.

They host defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, whom they recently cut. He signed with the Packers. Quarterback Kirk Cousins chose the Vikings over the Jets — and surely won’t get a warm welcome at MetLife Stadium.

The Vikings let quarterback Teddy Bridgewater walk in free agency, and he signed with the Jets. The Jets signed middle linebacker Avery Williamson away from the Titans and running back Isaiah Crowell away from the Browns.rams_001

Skaggs has made three starts in his career against the Indians and is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA.

The left-hander faced Cleveland on Sept. 19 at Angel Stadium and gave up two runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings of the 6-3 loss.

The Los Angeles offense should be confident after five players hit home runs Tuesday night in a 13-2 victory against Cleveland, ending a 12-game losing streak against the Indians. Two of the home runs came just above the new yellow line on the wall that extends from right to right-center. Before this season, the wall had to be cleared for a home run.

On the other coast, the Patriots cleared up somewhat of a logjam at wide receiver by moving on from Cooks. Julian Edelman is set to return after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Whereas Cooks handled a 19 percent target share last season (7.1 per game), Edelman averaged a 27 percent share (9.9 per game) during the 2013-16 seasons.

Bolin only spent one season in Rutgers after transferring from Louisville. After starting the team’s first five games, he was benched in favor of Gio Rescigno. Bolin — listed at 6-2, 210 pounds — played six total games in 2017 and passed for 711 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions with a 54.9 completion percentage.

Joseph — a 6-4, 305 pound defensive tackle — had an impressive showing in front of scouts at the College Gridiron Showcase in January. Joseph is also visiting with the Jets and Giants for their local days.

The makeup game will begin at 1:15 p.m. and the original game will be moved back an hour to 7:15 p.m.

The White Sox won the opener Thursday with a six-homer barrage in a 14-7 rout, then rallied in the eighth inning for a 4-3 victory over their AL Central rivals on Saturday night.

That applies to weekly leagues as well, where Ohtani’s pitching exploits remain considerably more useful. With his typical week probably resulting in one pitching start and roughly three hitter starts at DH, he’s not going to provide the volume needed to contribute in the latter.buccaneers_072

Pirates closer Felipe Rivero changes name to Felipe Vazquez

Pirates closer Felipe Rivero has changed his name to Felipe Vazquez.

Vazquez told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday that he legally changed his surname to match that of his sister, Prescilla.

The 26-year-old from Venezuela took over as Pittsburgh’s closer last season and saved 21 games with a 1.67 ERA. His uniform will reflect the change soon, though Rivero said Monday he wasn’t sure when. He apologized on Twitter to fans who had purchased his No. 73 jersey with his name on the back.

The Cavs led by only six with under 4 minutes left, but James found Love for a basket, then followed Clarkson’s two 3-pointers with one of his own to put away the game.

“They’re a great team, and when LeBron’s out there it makes it very difficult on guys. You can’t guard him one-on-one,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “But, our guys didn’t quit, so it was good.”

“Why not Whitney?” Holt said. “I was a little nervous there for it to play in the situation that we were in. But I think they might have turned the volume up. I feel like it was a lot louder than everyone else’s walk-up song.”

Rays: Open a three-game series at the Chicago White Sox on Monday. Chris Archer (0-0, 6.55 ERA) is 3-2 with a 4.29 ERA against the White Sox.

Red Sox: Begin a three-game series with the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. Boston ace Chris Sale (0-0, 0.82 ERA) makes his first home start of the season. He went 7-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 13 starts at Fenway last season.

Andrew Luck missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder during the offseason, but Colts owner Jim Irsay believes his star quarterback will soon be back on the field.

Kelly starred for the Bills from 1986-96, leading them at one point to four consecutive Super Bowls, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

His presence sparked an eight-game winning streak in March that helped San Jose clinch a playoff berth, and he has helped fill a scoring void created when Patrick Marleau left as a free agent for Toronto last summer and then Joe Thornton went down with a knee injury in January.buccaneers_013

Jim Irsay believes Andrew Luck has ‘turned the corner’ in rehab

The pace picked up again once facilitators Bledsoe and Middleton (18 points) re-entered the game, with Milwaukee taking a 45-42 lead at halftime.

Vucevic added 10 rebounds to pick up his 29th double-double of the season. … Biyombo was 6 of 7 from the field. … The Bucks with a regular season record of 668-536 in their 30 seasons at the Bradley Center.

The Cardinals lost to the Brewers, 5-4. The 32-year-old Holland tied for the National League lead with 41 saves for Colorado last season, then signed as a free agent with St. Louis on opening day. He pitched two games for Class A Palm Beach, with a scoreless relief appearance and a start in which he allowed one run on two hits in one inning.

To make room for Holland, St. Louis optioned right-handed pitcher Mike Mayers to Triple-A Memphis. Mayers appeared in two games this season, allowing one run in two innings.

Holland spent his first six seasons in the majors with Kansas City. He missed the 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery, then returned with the Rockies last year and was an All-Star for the third time and tied the Colorado record for saves in a season. Holland waited all winter for the right deal. He eventually signed a one-year, $14 million contract with the Cardinals.

Two prime targets of Patriots QB Tom Brady have left in this offseason – Brandin Cooks in a trade to the Rams, and Danny Amendola to free agency. The Patriots acquired wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson last month in a trade with the Raiders.

Matthews, 25, posted his worst season in 2017, with 25 catches for 282 yards and one touchdown. In his three previous years with the Eagles, he had 225 receptions for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Matthews played in only 10 games last season because of various injuries, including a knee injury that placed him on injured reserve late in the year.

Brock Holt replaced Bogaerts and had one of the game’s most memorable moments when he batted in the eighth inning.

With Boston trailing 7-2, Holt walked out to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” prompting a rolling cheer from the Fenway crowd. Holt said he thought he saw Tampa pitcher Matt Andriese laugh on the mound. Holt flied out for the inning’s second out.buccaneers_001

Kraft: Patriots’obviously’ must consider drafting QB

The New England Patriots strayed from their usual preparation at the quarterback position in 2017 by trading both Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo. With only veteran Brian Hoyer signed behind Tom Brady for the 2018 season, owner Robert Kraft expects the team to address the position in April’s draft. I’m going to put my fan hat on, and obviously at some point we have to, Kraft told ESPN’s Mike Reiss at this week’s owners meetings in Orlando. Not just that, but think what happened in the’08 season when in the first quarter against Kansas City, Tom (Brady) goes out. How many people would have said that Matt Cassel would have led us to an 11-5 season I put my faith and confidence in Bill (Belichick). He knows his responsibilities. Anything can happen, even if Tom comes in (and is in) tip-top shape.

Engram averages just under $2.7 million per season, while Webb earns just under $900,000. While it’s far from a perfect comparison as the Giants would likely use the picks on their offensive line or a running back, would the equivalents to Engram – who looked like a stud in his rookie season – and Webb – who couldn’t even see the field despite the Giants imploding and benching Manning – even come close to an adequate return for a potential Hall of Famer like Beckham Essentially, it comes down to Beckham versus, for example, offensive tackle Connor Williams and running back Nick Chubb, $17 million extra a year in cap space, and a massive hole at receiver.

And that’s even ignoring the fact the Giants gave up an elite player to one of their conference’s burgeoning powerhouses. If that’s somehow the limit of what teams will give up for Beckham, which is crazy in itself, the Giants should stifle a laugh and move on, not take what they can get just to get rid of Beckham and his apparent personality issues. And make no mistake, this is about Beckham’s personality.

Roberts left for personal reasons unrelated to Elliott’s case., according to a source.

Elliott eventually lost his case in court and served his suspension.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the NFL have moved on and consider the matter closed after Jones reimbursed the league more than $2 million in legal fees stemming from Elliott’s court case and his opposition of a new contract extension for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Robert’s departure gives the league some closure on a seemingly ugly internal battle between Roberts and NFL senior vice president of investigations Lisa Friel that played out in court.

Randy Gregory is gearing up to apply for reinstatement to the NFL.nike_broncos_050-500x500