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Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater is being compared to Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl offensive guard Zack Martin. Both players are roughly 6-foot-4, 310 pounds with 33-inch arms, and both have played offensive tackle. NFL teams are viewing Slater as an offensive lineman with Pro Bowl potential ahead of next week's draft. Slater has experience at tackle, but he's expected to be moved inside the guard because of his length concerns. He is great at run blocking and should excel in a zone-blocking scheme. But Slater is also excellent in pass protection while relying on agility and finesse over pure power. Expect him to be one of the first few interior offensive lineman off the draft board next week.
The New York Giants are considering moving out of the 11th overall position in next week's NFL draft, despite the fact that general manager Dave Gettleman has never traded back in the first round, or any round, of the NFL draft. The Giants have only six picks in the upcoming draft and are still in sort of a rebuilding phase. However, the G-Men have made some notable free-agent acquisitions in the last two seasons. While Gettleman has never traded back in a draft, he said it hasn't been for a lack of trying. "I've tried in the past. Honest, I've tried to trade back, but it's gonna be value. I'm not getting fleeced. I refuse to do it. If somebody wants to make a bad trade back, God bless 'em. We've had opportunities. I've tried," Gettleman said.
Former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees missed four games in his final NFL season in 2020 due to broken ribs and a collapsed lung, but the future Hall of Famer said he only felt right in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions. "I only really felt good in one game, from the perspective of, I had all the tools in my toolbox," Brees said. Brees also mentioned a plantar fascia tear, damage to his shoulder and an abdominal issue that he dealt with most of the season. Despite his limitations, Brees played through his injuries and got it done for the team, but it was obvious that he couldn't make all the necessary throws at the end of his career. The 42-year-old was one of the best to play the game at his position, and the Saints will move forward with some combination of Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill in 2021.
The San Francisco 49ers signed former Las Vegas Raiders pass-rusher Arden Key to an undisclosed one-year deal on Wednesday, according to a source. Key represents a low-risk depth signing for San Francisco. The 24-year-old was a third-round pick in the 2018 draft after a poor showing at the NFL combine. He suffered a broken foot in 2019 and played in only seven games. Though he didn't record a single sack last season, Key hit the quarterback on eight percent of his 282 pass rushes and looked the best he has since entering the league. In his three-year career to this point, Key has recorded 49 tackles (eight for loss), 26 QB hits, two passes defensed and three sacks in 37 games (10 starts).
The San Francisco 49ers signed free-agent running back Wayne Gallman to an undisclosed one-year deal on Wednesday. Gallman was originally drafted by the New York Giants in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. He has played in 53 career games (14 starts) and has 338 carries for 1,444 yards and nine touchdowns while also adding 80 catches for 498 yards and two touchdowns in his four-year career. Gallman appeared in 15 games (10 starts) for the Giants last year and led the team in rushing attempts (147), rushing yards (682) and rushing touchdowns (six), which were all single-season career-highs. The 26-year-old will join a crowded backfield in San Francisco that features Jeff Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert, so Gallman probably won't have much fantasy appeal unless an injury sidelines either Wilson or Mostert.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Aldon Smith turned himself in on Tuesday night after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection with an alleged battery in the New Orleans area, according to the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office. He was booked and released Wednesday on $25,000 bond. Smith will be arraigned on July 14. He allegedly choked a victim unconscious during a confrontation that began inside a coffee shop. The Seahawks had signed Smith to a one-year deal worth $1,127,500 just two days before the incident. Smith returned to the NFL last year and was successful with the Dallas Cowboys after missing more than four seasons because of an indefinite suspension by the NFL for multiple off-field incidents and violations of the league's substance-abuse policy. Smith is once again in trouble off the field, which could lead to another suspension from the league.
Free-agent safety T.J. Ward announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday after eight years in the league. Ward earned two Pro Bowls in his time in the league and came to be known as one of the hardest-hitting safeties. He last played in 2017 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and landed a spot on the practice squad of the Arizona Cardinals last year for three weeks in October. Ward's best days came with the Denver Broncos, where he helped the team win Super Bowl 50 as a physical hybrid safety and linebacker. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib, along with slot corner Chris Harris Jr., formed the No Fly Zone secondary during Denver's championship run. The 34-year-old finishes with 607 tackles (458 solo), 19 QB hits, eight interceptions (one for a touchdown), 44 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries (one for a TD) and 8.5 sacks in 107 career games (99 starts).
The Miami Dolphins proved that they are committed to second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa when they traded out of the No. 3 overall spot in this year's draft. Shortly thereafter, Miami swung a deal to move back into the top 10 while also securing future first-round picks. General manager Chris Grier explained on Wednesday that the team is looking to build around Tagovailoa with the best players available while also trying to find talent that meshes well with Tagovailoa's strengths. Tagovailoa disappointed in his rookie season while coming off hip surgery in a season during a pandemic, so the Dolphins are expecting him to improve in Year 2. He'll have a full offseason to prepare for the 2021 season as well. Tagovailoa is still a great dynasty asset, but he'll have to prove to fantasy managers in single-year formats that he's more than just a low-end QB2.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields confirmed to NFL teams during the pre-draft process that he is managing epilepsy, a neurological disorder that can cause seizures. However, it has not affected his football career, and doctors think Fields will outgrow it like his other family members have. It's something to watch, but it's unlikely to keep Fields from being a top-five pick in the first round next Thursday. The young signal-caller is extremely talented and athletic and is a perfect fit as a modern-day quarterback in today's NFL. Fields can beat teams with both his arms and his legs, and he'll have a pretty high ceiling in the long term if he lands in the right offensive system. The San Francisco 49ers will be in play at No. 3 overall for the Ohio State product.
Free-agent cornerback Pierre Desir agreed to terms on an undisclosed one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday. Desir was on Seattle's practice squad back in 2016 but failed to make the team out of training camp the following season. In 73 career games with the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens, he has 259 tackles, eight interceptions (one for a touchdown), three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. The 30-year-old former fourth-round pick of the Browns in 2014 played in 12 games (eight starts) with the Jets and Ravens last year, recording 49 tackles (39 solo), three interceptions (one for a TD), eight passes defensed and a forced fumble.
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