The NFL barred team personnel from entering training facilities starting Wednesday due to the coronavirus pandemic that is prompting many across the country to shelter in place. Thats not a huge deal at this relatively quiet point on the league calendar, with free agency in the rearview and the NFL draft weeks away.
Its not ideal, with top-30 player visits prohibited due to travel restrictions in place for weeks. That also has eliminated pro days, creating a unique and difficult pre-draft process.
The NFL, however, has declined to postpone the draft to a later date. It will go on as scheduled from April 23-25, without fanfare that usually surrounds it.
The Raiders were set to host the draft in their new Las Vegas market, but all public events were cancelled due to restrictions on public gatherings. Then the event was moved out of the city entirely in favor of a safer process in a studio, with video conferenced check-ins with top prospects in a televised event.
Commissioner Roger Goodell imposed more restrictions in a memo to NFL teams that was leaked to the press Thursday stating that they cannot conduct the draft from their facilities as usual. The selection process must be done off-site.
All clubs should now be doing the necessary planning to conduct Draft operations in a location outside of your facility, with a limited number of people present and with sufficient technology resources to allow you to communicate internally, with other clubs and with Draft headquarters, Goodells memo reads. Needless to say, we will be prepared to adjust to changed circumstance in the next several weeks, including the prospect of clubs being able to resume even limited operations within their facilities.
Moving the draft process would constitute a major headache for all teams. That includes the Raiders and the 49ers, who will conduct drafts in the Bay Area.
NFL teams run their draft in massive war rooms, with the general manager, head coach and often the owner heading the table. Scouts, personnel directors, the entire coaching staff and football operations people are all collaborating in one place, with a massive draft board ranking every eligible player. The list usually takes up an entire wall and includes players who will go undrafted.
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Goodell said later in the memo that he would prefer teams dont discuss their issues with the press.
Public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action, Goodell wrote.
Heres the memo in its entirety:
Commissioner Goodell sent out a memo to NFL teams tonight that the draft will go on April 23-25. pic.twitter.com/tYlHo3fKqC— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 26, 2020
Rod Marinelli was the first asset the Raiders imported from the Dallas Cowboys. The respected defensive line coach certainly wasnt the last.
A fourth former Cowboys player joined the Raiders ranks on Thursday evening, when defensive tackle Daniel Ross signed with the Silver and Black. His agent David Canter announced the pact on social media.
Congratulations to #TeamDEC client @HOTBOYROSS93 on signing with @Raiders #vegasbabyvegas #LFG pic.twitter.com/tIdpu36SCK— DEC Management (@davidcanter) March 27, 2020
Ross is the second interior defensive lineman to join the Raiders, following Maliek Collins commitment early in the free-agent process on a one-year, $6 million deal.
Ross doesnt come with the same street cred Collins 48 quarterback pressures last year wouldve led the Raiders defense considering he missed 2019 with a shoulder injury.
The rotational defensive linemans best year came in 2018, when he had a sack, 10 pressures, 15 tackles and a forced fumble in 252 defensive snaps.
He will join a crowded defensive interior that will feature Collins, Maurice Hurst and Johnathan Hankins. P.J. Hall is also in the mix, and the Raiders could add to the position in the NFL draft.
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Ross will have to earn a roster spot, but working with Marinelli in the past certainly works in his favor. He wouldnt have been signed without the position coachs stamp of approval.
The Raiders needed depth and improved frontline performance as they try to turn the defensive front into a force.
Tom Brady is now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Antonio Brown will not be joining him there.
Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians made that point quite clear Thursday on CBS Radio's "Tiki And Tierney" podcast when asked about the possibility of signing Brown as a free agent.
"Yeah, it's not going to happen," Arians bluntly responded. "Just not going to happen. There's no room. There's probably not enough money, but it's just not going to happen. It's not a fit here."
News: Even though he expressed interest in joining them, the #Buccaneers will *not* sign All-Pro WR Antonio Brown.Bruce Arians confirmed.
""Yea, its not gonna happen. Theres no room. Its just not gonna happen. Its just not a fit here."pic.twitter.com/Yf6ZUrth95
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) March 26, 2020
Well, there you have it. No possibility of Brown reuniting with Brady in Tampa, after the two connected for four receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 of last season, which ultimately amounted to the only game Brown appeared in.
But what if salary wasn't a concern? Would the Buccaneers consider bringing Brown in on the veteran's minimum?
"No," Arians doubled down. "I just know him and it's not a fit in our locker room."
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Arians served as Brown's offensive coordinator for his first two seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that experience apparently left a lasting impression, the same lesson several other franchises -- perhaps none more so than the Raiders -- have learned over the last couple of seasons:
Brown simply isn't worth the trouble, no matter how talented he is or once was.