Saints favorites to land arguably the best receiver left in free agency

Even after the change, confusion remained. While the rule got more specific, it didn’t get any easier for the officials, who will be tasked with deciding within a split second if a receiver fits within the criteria listed above.

On Thursday, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino provided an explanation for the updated language. In actuality, he might’ve made it more confusing.

Though the rulebook attempts to lay out what is and isn’t a catch with that paragraph above, Blandino told SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Ross Tucker and Brad Hopkins that it isn’t an “all-inclusive list.”

Boldin is arguably the best receiver still left in free agency, heading a group of unsigned receivers that also includes Roddy White and James Jones.
As Rapoport reported, Boldin views New Orleans as an attractive destination because of receivers coach John Morton, who coached Boldin with the 49ers. Of course, he also might want to join the Saints, who cut Marques Colston this offseason, because he’d be catching passes from future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.

“We just try to give some examples. It’s not an all-inclusive list, but it is something that officials will be looking for, when it goes to replay, we’ll be looking for and things that everybody else can use to gauge what the decision is going to be.”

In other words, common sense can sometimes override the rulebook. I don’t foresee that being an issue at any point this season (note the sarcasm).
There appears to be no end in sight to the confusion. Because as long as the NFL sticks with the current catch rule — “two feet, then time,” as Blandino put it — there’s never going to be a way to adequately define and consistently enforce the “time” requirement, especially if the common sense of an individual official is allowed to overrule what the actual rulebook says.

Last season, while playing in a porous 49ers offense Boldin caught 69 passes for 789 yards and four touchdowns. As long as he’s not the primary weapon of an offense, he still has plenty to offer. Plus, Boldin could also serve as a mentor for Cooks, 22, and Thomas, 23.

Boldin ranks 12th all-time in receptions with 1,009.

A week ago, the NFL officially updated the catch rule. While the league didn’t necessarily change the rule, it provided additional language to help clarify when in fact a receiver becomes a runner.

Via the rulebook for the 2016 season:

A player has the ball long enough to become a runner when, after his second foot is on the ground, he is capable of avoiding or warding off impending contact of an opponent, tucking the ball away, turning up field, or taking additional steps.

The ice is thawing between Von Miller and the Broncos

Perhaps there won’t be an agreement, since there was an extreme difference in the amount of guaranteed money Miller wants and what the Broncos are offering. The Eagles’ massive deal to defensive tackle Fletcher Cox couldn’t have helped negotiations. But it’s hard to believe Miller would really not sign the $14 million tag and sit out all season, and it’s weird the Broncos are low-balling the Super Bowl 50 MVP on guaranteed money. It’s also hard to believe there’s not a middle ground where Miller becomes insanely rich and the Broncos lock up their best player for the foreseeable future.

Philadelphia last hosted the NFL draft in 1961 at the Warwick Hotel, which still exists. Bonus trivia nugget: The first phase of the 1950 NFL draft happened at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, a private social and athletic club that also remains standing. We suggest holding events that week at both locations for nostalgia’s sake.

If the draft is indeed coming back to Philly, Day 1 might be a bit boring for the locals. The Philadelphia Eagles currently do not own a first-round selection. Oops. Better hope Carson Wentz, who might not even play this coming season, is a beast.

Of course, that predicament likely was going to happen no matter which city landed the draft. Speculation had run rampant that the draft would be held elsewhere in 2017 and that the two favorites were Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Yes, the Los Angeles Rams also do not own a first; they, like the Eagles, traded theirs this year to land a quarterback.

The two sides hadn’t talked for a few weeks before last weekend, when Elway reportedly reached out to Miller. Friday’s meeting will be another step in the process. Nobody will be surprised if sometime before next Friday’s deadline, Miller is smiling alongside Elway after he agrees to a deal that’s about six years and $114.5 million (Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reported in early June that Miller agreed to those terms; the impasse is all about guaranteed money).

It looked bad in June, but communication lines are open again. The two sides need each other too much for next week’s deadline to pass without a deal being done.

First things first: Philadelphia gets a bit of a bad rap.

So if the reports are true that Philly will host the 2017 NFL draft, we should not assume that Myles Garrett or Leonard Fournette or Deshaun Watson automatically will have batteries chucked at their heads.

Donovan McNabb was not the preferred choice of Eagles fans, who booed him in New York during the 1999 NFL draft (Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport/Getty Images)
Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Brady told the Philadelphia Daily News that the city would host the draft. The city to this point has said not so fast, and the NFL isn’t confirming any deals. But Brady indicates that the mayor has pledged $5 million to host the three-day event, which has taken place in Chicago the past two years, in 2017.

Calvin Johnson’s concussion tale is pretty scary

Johnson said he was concerned about the concussion issue before he retired. There were other parts of the interview that should cause concern, like Johnson talking about painkillers early in his career and saying “the team doctors and trainers they were giving them out like candy.”

The culture isn’t close to changing. There have been fixes, such as better player safety rules and a better understanding of concussions. But there will always be the fundamental challenge of players feeling a need to play through pain — whether they feel that pressure because they want to compete or because they’re worried about losing their job in a world of mostly non-guaranteed contracts — and of teams pressuring their star players like Johnson to play even if they’re banged up. It’s hard to imagine a time when that won’t be the case.

“The team doctor, the team trainers, they work for the team. And I love ’em, you know,” Johnson said in the “E:60” interview. “They’re some good people, you know. They want to see you do good. But at the same time, they work for the team, you know. They’re trying to do whatever they can to get you back on the field and make your team look good.”

Players are smarter about some of the dangers they face in their sport. Some, like former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, have been outspoken about issues like painkiller use (and it’s fair to assume teams probably don’t love when players become self aware). But there’s no way to get rid of the violence in the sport, and players are still willing to engage in behavior that is a severe risk to their long-term health just to play every Sunday. That will never be eliminated.

Johnson understood what he was putting his body through to play football, and he got out after nine seasons while he was still a top NFL receiver. He won’t be the last to step away at an early age, either.

You knew we couldn’t get through a July 4 holiday weekend without some weird NFL story.

Denard Robinson, the Jacksonville Jaguars running back and former Michigan star, was an unlikely candidate to create the weird story though. But he pulled it off.

At 4:20 a.m. Sunday, according to Jacksonville.com, Robinson and a female passenger crashed into a retention pond after going down an embankment. They were asleep at the time of the crash and had to be helped out of the vehicle. The driver’s side door of the car was submerged in water, the Jacksonville Fox affiliate reported, citing the police report.

This is a worrisome time for NFL teams — the July 4 weekend when a handful of players historically get in trouble just a few weeks before training camps open.

Such might be the case for Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Dominique Robertson, an undrafted offensive guard out of Division II West Georgia, who reportedly was shot early Thursday morning and later detained by police, according to a report in the Press Enterprise.