Washington Redskins Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff officially signed his franchise tender on Wednesday.

The tender is worth more than $15million for the upcoming season, making Scherff the highest-paid guard for 2020.

The fifth overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, Scherff started 11 games for the Redskins last season and permitted only one and a half sacks to earn his third Pro Bowl selection.

The 28-year-old, who was also selected to the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2017, has appeared in 65 regular-season games and made as many starts in his first five seasons in the NFL.

He is just the fourth of 15 players given the franchise or transition tag this season to sign his tender, following New England Patriots guard Joe Thuney, Arizona Cardinals runningback Kenyan Drake and Tennessee Titans runningback Derrick Henry.

Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule called quarterback Teddy Bridgewater "a perfect fit" for the team's new offense as it begins the post-Cam Newton era, but his signing does not preclude the possibility of adding to the position in the upcoming draft.

Rhule told reporters in a video teleconference the decision to move on from Newton, the face of the Panthers' franchise, had more to do with the team's familiarity and comfort with Bridgewater than the foot and shoulder injuries that limited the 2015 NFL MVP to only two starts last season. 

Newton was released on March 24, less than a week after Carolina signed Bridgewater to a three-year, $63million contract.  

"I think the world of Cam as a person, and then everyone knows the type of player he's been for many, many years," Rhule said. "[But] you have to make tough decisions about your roster and you have to do what's in the best interest of the team moving forward."  

Bridgewater's relationship with new offensive coordinator Joe Brady also played a major role in the decision. 

The two worked together with the New Orleans Saints in 2018 before Brady was hired as the passing game coordinator at LSU, where he helped projected 2020 number one overall pick Joe Burrow to a Heisman Trophy-winning campaign and the Tigers to last season's national title.  

"He knows the verbiage, he knows the concepts. You watch him on tape, he's executing the plays that we're going to run," Rhule said of Bridgewater, who won all five of his starts filling in for an injured Drew Brees in New Orleans last season. 

"So you feel really good about that. And then, throughout his career, he's someone who makes everyone around him better.  

"I think he's the perfect fit for us, for our offense, for where the team wants to go." 

With Bridgewater, 2019 third-round pick Will Grier and XFL standout P.J. Walker on the roster, quarterback appears to be among the lesser concerns for a Panthers team with an abundance of needs as it embarks on a major rebuild in Rhule's first season. 

And while the former Baylor head coach acknowledged the unlikelihood of selecting a quarterback in the draft's first round, he would not dismiss the idea should a player like Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon's Justin Herbert be available at the team's number seven overall pick.  

"I'd say, obviously, I don't know if that's our focus right now, a first-round quarterback," he said. 

"But at the end of the day, if a guy drops in your lap that you think - at any position - you think can change your team, don't let need overtake what's the best thing long term.  

"You're not drafting for the next 12 months, you're drafting for the next four to five to six years, and hopefully on." 

The Cincinnati Bengals announced on Wednesday that offensive lineman Alex Redmond has signed a contract for the 2020 season. 

Redmond was a restricted free agent who received an original-round tender which will pay him $2.13million in 2020. 

Initially signed by Cincinnati as an undrafted free agent in 2016, Redmond started 15 games at right guard in 2018 and helped team-mate Joe Mixon lead the AFC with 1,168 rushing yards that season.

The UCLA product appeared in three games with two starts last season before going on injured reserve due to a torn biceps. 

Redmond is one of four candidates for the Bengals' two starting guard spots, along with free-agent addition Xavier Sua-Filo, 2018 first-round pick Billy Price and second-year pro Michael Jordan.

John Miller, a 13-game starter at right guard last season, signed with the Carolina Panthers in March.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston says it is "kudos" to him that he was replaced in the team by Tom Brady, whom he labelled "the GOAT".

Winston was starting QB for five seasons with the Bucs after being drafted at number one overall in 2015.

He was not retained in free agency after a rollercoaster 2019 season saw him lead the NFL with 5,109 passing yards and 33 touchdowns, but also throw 30 interceptions.

The Bucs instead landed Brady on a two-year deal, having said they "never dreamed" the 42-year-old would have been available after 20 glorious years with the New England Patriots.

Winston said to Fox News: "One thing you can learn about me is my faith.

"I have tremendous faith in the Lord and one thing about Tom Brady is it is understood that he is the GOAT [greatest of all time].

"For you to get replaced by Tom Brady in a city that you love so much, I guess that is kudos to me."

Still 26, Winston hopes he has a bright future ahead of him, although his immediate next move is unclear as he remains a free agent.

He added: "At the end of the day, it's a competitive sport. We [are] all in the business. So, I'm excited for whatever opportunity may hold.

"I'm gonna have to play the Tom Bradys, the Patrick Mahomes, and all the other great quarterbacks eventually.

"That is how you win Super Bowls and that is what I want."

Winston had previously bid the Bucs farewell in a social media post last month.

He expressed his love and respect for Tampa after "a great five seasons" and added he would see them at the Super Bowl, which the Bucs are hosting at the end of the 2020 season.

The team responded by thanking Winston "from the bottom of our hearts".

Tom Brady will not allow comments about his age or the danger of concussions in the NFL to force him into retirement when he still loves the game.

The 42-year-old has signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency, a decision which saw him leave the New England Patriots after 20 years and six Super Bowl crowns.

Brady has regularly spoken of his desire to play into his mid-40s at least and will not be influenced by analysts who advise him to quit because of his age or what he has already achieved.

"If you want to stop, stop, go ahead," Brady said on The Howard Stern Show.

"But for me, because I feel like I can still play, it doesn't mean I should just stop playing because that's what everyone tells me I should do."

The quarterback acknowledged he had suffered multiple concussions in his career but would not let that impact his decision.

Brady touched on his previous comments on how he had been deeply affected by the death of NBA icon Kobe Bryant, adding: "We all think we're going to live forever but the reality is we don't know when our day is going to come.

"I've definitely had concussions, yeah. I could stop playing football because I'm worried about what's going to happen.

"But why don't I live my life the way I want, and enjoy it the way that is most fulfilling to me?

"For me, that [playing in the NFL] is doing what I love to do. You don't tell a musician to stop singing at age 42. You don't tell a painter to stop painting at 42."  

And Brady would allow his sons to play football despite the physical nature of the sport.

"Absolutely [I would]," he said. "There is something about contact sports that teaches you about discipline, respect, mutual respect for your opponent, that you don't get in non-contact sports.

"If your body is taking a physical toll and punishment, you've got to respect your body because that's your insulation, that's your asset. You have to have even more respect for your body. 

"Boxers, for example, MMA, wrestling, the contact sports are the ones where I think you learn the most discipline. Because you can't perform unless you take great care of your body."

The only thing that could give Brady pause would be the media pressure on them to match his accomplishments.

"I would never want for them to be 'Tom Brady's son' playing football," he said.

Tom Brady revealed he was crying when he told New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick that he was leaving the team after 20 years.

The 42-year-old ended his illustrious spell with the Patriots when he hit free agency last month, having won six Super Bowl titles and nine AFC Championships.

Prior to signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady travelled to Kraft's home to break the news about his departure, and promptly phoned Belichick during the meeting.

Speaking on The Howard Stern Show, Brady discussed what an emotional occasion it had been.

"I called up Mr Kraft and I went over to his house," he said. "It was a funny time because we are all dealing with this current corona [coronavirus] situation that we are in.

"I went over, and I just said, 'Look, I just want to say how much I love you and appreciate what we've done together. I know that we are not going to continue together but thank you. Thank you for providing what you have for my family and for my career'.

"I was able to call coach Belichick at the same time and thank him. It was great, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

"I was crying. I'm a very emotional person."

In the interview, Brady also said he suspected his time with the Patriots was coming to the end prior to the 2019 NFL season, though only made a final decision before the meeting.

The Bucs QB was asked why he did not directly travel to visit Belichick as he had done with Kraft.

He added: "I couldn't because I wanted to tell Mr Kraft, and then I had no opportunity to drive – it was nine-thirty at night on a Monday night of March.

"There was no opportunity for me. But I wanted to tell him right away in the moment.

"Too many times in this world, I would say something, someone else would say it and before you know it, he would hear it from someone else. I wanted him to hear it from me, how I felt about him."

Tom Brady revealed he turned down a request from US president Donald Trump to speak at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

Brady's long-standing friendship with the president is well-documented. However, he was unwilling to get involved when Trump made his foray into the world of politics.

Appearing on The Howard Stern Show on Wednesday, Brady was quizzed on a wide range of topics, including his recent move from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Stern said Trump had requested him to speak at the RNC four years ago and asked Brady if he had also been invited to appear at the event as well.

"He wanted me to speak at that convention too. I wasn't going to do anything political," Brady replied.

"He always had a way of connecting people and still does. I got brought into a lot of those things around the election.

"It was uncomfortable for me, not because I would undo a friendship, political support is totally different from the support of a friend."

 

Tom Brady knew his time with the New England Patriots was coming to an end before the start of last season and insists he has no concern for his legacy after signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady left the Patriots last month after winning six Super Bowl titles in a storied 20-year spell that saw him established as the greatest quarterback of all time.

He subsequently signed a two-year contract with the Buccaneers after finally entering free agency at the age of 42.

Appearing on The Howard Stern Show on Wednesday, Brady was asked why he did not simply retire with his legacy secured after the Patriots' playoff defeat to the Tennessee Titans in January.

"I never cared about legacy, I could give a s*** about legacy," Brady replied. "It's just not me, it's not my personality.

"It was just time, I don't know what to say other than that. I accomplished everything I could in two decades with an incredible organisation.

"I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year. I knew our time was coming to an end."

New England head coach Bill Belichick was reportedly keen to move on from Brady and go with Jimmy Garoppolo as the Patriots' starting quarterback before the latter was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in October 2017.

Quizzed on whether he felt any lack of loyalty from Belichick when he heard that speculation, Brady said: "I think he has a lot of loyalty.

"So many wrong assumptions were made about our relationship or how he felt about me. I know how he felt about me.

"I got into uncharted territory as an athlete because I started to break the mould of what so many other athletes had experienced as an older athlete. He started to plan for the future, I don't fault him for that."

There are doubts as to whether the 2020 NFL season, due to start in September, will even take place as the United States battles the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked about the possibility of playing games without any fans, he responded: "I would play [behind closed doors].

"I don't think anyone has any great predictions for how this is going to turn out."

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is worried the impending digitisation of the NFL – powered by lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders due to the coronavirus pandemic – leaves sensitive team information vulnerable to online theft.

With team activities postponed indefinitely due to public health concerns, teams are likely to conduct season preparations through videoconferencing applications, possibly even transferring playbooks online.

Harbaugh spoke about the issue during a pre-draft news conference, saying that he has already reached out to the team's information technology department about securing communications.

"It's a big concern," Harbaugh said. "Hopefully we'll be okay. I really wouldn't want the opposing coaches to have our playbook or our draft meetings. That would be preferable, if we can stay away from that."

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta, however, joked that executive vice president Ozzie Newsome had a better chance of leaving the team's draft board vulnerable in his car than a hacker would have of stealing a digital copy.

The league announced on Monday that team facilities would remain closed indefinitely, with teams' offseason workout programs normally scheduled for this month. Coaches and front offices now face the challenge of preparing for the 2020 season from home.

Former Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who is projected to be selected late in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft, reportedly underwent core-muscle surgery on Tuesday. 

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo said Aiyuk had the surgery after dealing with the issue for months, and doing so now will give him time to recover with the NFL delaying the start of its offseason workout program due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Aiyuk played two seasons in junior college before joining Arizona State in 2018 and recording 33 catches for 474 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions. 

He broke out in 2019 with 65 receptions for 1,192 yards to go along with eight TD catches. Aiyuk finished 15th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in receiving yards while being named a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection. 

His 1,192 receiving yards in 2019 rank fifth all-time for Arizona State in a single season. 

Miami Dolphins linebacker Vince Biegel signed his tender offer for the 2020 season, the NFL franchise announced on Monday.

Biegel, 26, was a restricted free agent who received an original-round tender which will pay him $2.132million in 2020.

The three-year veteran started 10 games for the Dolphins last season and recorded career highs with 59 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception.

Miami acquired Biegel from the New Orleans Saints for veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso in September.

A fourth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in the 2017 Draft, Biegel appeared in nine games as a rookie but was waived prior to the start of the 2018 season.

Biegel then signed with the Saints and took part in 14 games, primarily on special teams, in 2018.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne signed a one-year restricted free agent tender offer worth $3.259 million on Monday to stay with the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers placed a second-round tender on Bourne last month, and by signing the deal he will become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

Bourne was third on the 49ers last season in receptions with 30 and was tied with Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle for the team lead with five touchdown catches.

He had 23 receptions that went for first downs, and that 76.7 percent of catches for first downs ranked 10th in the NFL among the 155 players with at least 30 receptions.

The third-year pro added six catches for 88 yards and one touchdown in the playoffs, including two receptions for 42 yards in San Francisco's Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

On the six occasions Bill Belichick has lifted a Lombardi Trophy over the past two decades, Cleveland Browns fans are reminded of what might have been.

Twenty-five years ago, Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, a team considered one of the Super Bowl favourites having gone 11-5 and won a playoff game in 1994.

Then, at 4-5 in early November, Browns owner Art Modell announced he was moving the team to Baltimore the following year. The wheels came off, the Browns finished 5-11 and Belichick was fired.

The Browns' players and staff went to Baltimore, where they had success with the Ravens, while Belichick rebounded in style with the New England Patriots.

Cleveland had another franchise four years later, the Browns inheriting the team's history and getting the new stadium Modell had sought, but the 'new' Browns have been something of a laughingstock.

So what if the 'original' Browns had remained in Cleveland and Belichick had stayed in charge? The NFL world would sure look an awful lot different.

 

BELICHICK WOULD HAVE BUILT A RAY LEWIS-LED CLEVELAND DYNASTY

Belichick's coaching record speaks for itself. Had he stayed in Cleveland, he would have been a success.

The Browns had a playoff roster already and their staff from that 1995 season included a raft of future head coaches and general managers - Belichick, Ozzie Newsome, Scott Pioli, Jim Schwartz, Eric Mangini, Mike Tannenbaum and Thomas Dimitroff. There was simply too much brainpower for that organisation not to have become a serial winner.

Then there were the first two draft picks that Newsome and the Ravens inherited from the Browns and spent on offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis - two future Hall of Famers.

Forget New England, Cleveland would have been the NFL's powerhouse in the 2000s.

BALTIMORE'S RAVENS WOULD HAVE BATTLED MEDICORITY

Baltimore won a Super Bowl in just their fifth year and had sustained success thanks to Newsome's brilliance and Lewis' tone-setting displays on defense.

Even if the city, once home to the Colts, had been awarded an expansion franchise in 1999, they would have struggled as almost all expansion franchises do.

Between them the Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans - the NFL's three most recent expansion franchises, have yet to win a Super Bowl. And the Browns were effectively a franchise expansion when they returned in 1999, too.

Take out Newsome and Lewis - the foundations on which Baltimore's success has been built - and any team would have toiled.

 

TOM BRADY GETS LOST IN THE MIX

Belichick certainly owes a debt of gratitude to Tom Brady, the unheralded sixth-round draft pick in 2000 who turned into the NFL's greatest quarterback of all time with the Patriots.

Brady's determination means his talent was always likely to shine through and he would surely have got his shot.

However, without Belichick's brilliant defensive gameplan to thwart the 'Greatest Show on Turf' for Brady's first ring in his second season, where would 'Tom Terrific' be?

Belichick's defense played a huge role in at least half of Brady's Super Bowl wins. Maybe Brady had a successful career without Belichick. But the GOAT? Don't bank on it.

 

CLEVELAND, NOT BOSTON, COULD HAVE BEEN THE CITY OF CHAMPIONS

Since 1995, Boston's sports teams have combined to win 12 major titles in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. In Cleveland, where there is admittedly no NHL team, the Cavaliers' 2016 NBA Finals triumph stands alone.

In the mid-90s the Cavs were playoff regulars, while the Indians went to two World Series only to narrowly lose in 1995 and 1997, perhaps burdened by the weight of expectation in a city starved of sporting success for so long.

Had the Belichick-led Browns lifted multiple Lombardis like the Patriots, that winning feeling might have rubbed off on the city's other franchises, as it seemed to do in Boston. 

Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney described releasing Cam Newton as one of the most difficult decisions he has had to make.

Quarterback Newton was cut by the Panthers, who had previously given him permission to seek a trade, last month.

Hurney drafted Newton first overall in 2011, that selection vindicated as the dual-threat star went on to win the MVP award in the 2015 season, which ended in Super Bowl 50 defeat to the Denver Broncos.

Newton's departure, which came after injury-hit seasons in 2018 and 2019, was an acrimonious one, the 30-year-old criticising the Panthers organisation and claiming he never asked for a trade.

In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Hurney would not go into detail as to why the Panthers released Newton.

Hurney said: "In fairness, I'm not getting into the details of our decision-making process

"You have to make difficult decisions every year, and this was probably one of the most difficult. I mean, I drafted Cam.

"We all know everything he's brought to the organisation, both on and off the field, so it was extremely difficult.

"We put a lot of time, thought [and] communication into every decision we make, and as soon as we make those decisions, we act on them.

"So as soon as we did, I called Cam's representatives and told them that we were going to start calling teams about seeing if there was trade interest in Cam.

"I think it came out publicly the next day.

"When we got to a point where we thought that it didn't seem like we were going to make a trade in the near future, we thought it was in the best interest for everybody to release him."

The Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater, who was previously with their NFC South rivals the New Orleans Saints, to be their starting quarterback in the wake of Newton's release.

"He's a very talented quarterback. I've always liked him," Hurney said of Bridgewater.

"He's got great feet in the pocket. I think he's got good vision, a quick release. He's got good accuracy.

"I think everybody you talk to, they talked about his leadership skills, and he's got familiarity with [offensive coordinator] Joe Brady's system since Joe was down there in New Orleans with him.

"He's certainly a guy who's overcome adversity and has, really if you look at it, he's won everywhere he's been, so we thought he'd be a good fit for us."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 teams on Monday that said league and club facilities will remain closed indefinitely and the 2020 Draft will be in a fully virtual format due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Goodell said the league's decision is in response to the advice of medical and public health experts as well as government authorities that have extended the duration of orders requiring residents to shelter in place to avoid the spread of the virus.

The draft will be conducted entirely outside of team facilities and in a fully virtual format from April 23-25.

Club personnel will be separately located in their homes and will be able to communicate with one another and their draft headquarters by phone or internet.

Goodell added that the NFL staff will also operate in separate locations outside of the league offices. 

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