How to bet on Friday's NCAA tournament games

How do sportsbooks feel about Coach K and Duke? Can Notre Dame bounce back from Wednesday's 2-OT win and beat Alabama? (Author: Gardener)

FridayRest assured that the Philadelphia area will have its part in this festival of simulance, with the Villanova-Delaware game scheduled for 2:45 am on a Friday when the temperature is expected to hit the 70s. Ohio State opened as a 1.5-point underdog, but respected money was enough on the Buckeyes' side to make this game a pick 'em. Last season, the Buckeyes were shocked by Oral Roberts in a No. 2-15 game. Loyola has changed coaches since Porter Moser guided her to a Final Four (2018) and Sweet 16 (2021). Against the established records: Loyola-Chicago 12-15-4, Ohio State 15-15. Pick: Ohio State, who admittedly staggered down the stretch by losing four of their last five to win. The only reason Jacksonville State is here is because Atlantic Sun tournament winner Bellarmine is ineligible as he moves to Division I. I don't recommend Auburn putting the points, but over 139 is in play. ATS Records: Auburn 19-13, Jacksonville State 17-12. A good prop would be whether Texas Tech will progress further with first-year coach Mark Adams than in-state giant Texas, which is helmed by former longtime Texas Tech coach Chris Beard. ATS Records: Texas Tech 21-13, Montana St. 17-14-1. Obviously the level of competition was superior to what the Boilermakers are facing here, but they ended the season with an 0-8-2 run against the spread. Eight of those 10 games, all against Big Ten rivals, were also "below" the total. ATS Records: Purdue 13-19-2, Yale 14-15. Billy Witz of The New York Times lets Villanova win the national title. I let them go out on the second round. If he's right, interest will stay high here for a couple of weeks, and I'm fine with that. Line opened at 5pm so respected money is in Delaware. ATS Records: Villanova 16-16-1, Delaware 15-18. » READ MORE: Collin Gillespie's play was made in Northeast Philly before Villanova even happened. Raise your eyebrows at anyone mentioning the stat that USC went 11-0 against non-conference opponents without mentioning that none of those 11 made it to the NCAA tournament. Still like the Trojans, who went into the Elite 8 last year against Miami, who haven't won a tournament game since 2016. ATS Records: USC 15-18, Miami 18-14-1. Selection: Experience from USC to cover the 1.5. Alabama was sixth in the nation with 963 three-point attempts (30.1 per game) and 311th in three-point accuracy with 30.8%. The Tide has been 2-11 against the spread in their last 13 games against teams that made it to the NCAA tournament. ATS Records: Alabama 11/20/1, Notre Dame 18-14. Pick: Notre Dame gets 4. » READ MORE: Villanova's Collin Gillespie, Maddy Siegrist take full advantage of NCAA's NIL changes Texas lost four of six to finish the season, going 0-5-1 against the number one. Virginia Tech stunned the ACC by winning the Conference tournament as the seventh seed. ATS Records: Texas 12-20, Virginia Tech 18-16-1. Buddy of mine was thrilled to take Illinois 30-1 to win the national title a few weeks ago. Digging Chattanooga with the points, however, requires a significant effort from point guard Malachi Smith (6-4, 205 pounds), Southern Conference Player of the Year. ATS Records: Illinois 13-18, Chattanooga 17-15. Rumors that CBS will cancel the tournament if Mike Krzyzewski loses before the Sweet 16 are unfounded. Duke was a popular pick to win the national sports betting title nationwide, so bookies wouldn't mind an early exit. ATS records: Duke 17-15-2, Cal-State Fullerton 16-11-2. » READ MORE: Video: Villanova's 2016 Championship Fame's Ryan Arcidiacono talks about the NCAA grind Iowa State entered the week 293rd in points per game after LSU fired their coach last week. Iowa State's top scorer is Izaiah Brockington, a Penn State transfer and alum of Archbishop Ryan, who was Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. LSU's team total is 66.5, and Iowa's is 62.5. ATS records: LSU 19-14, Iowa St. 17-15. Arizona, the last of the No. 1 seeds to play, won the title 50-1 at Caesars on Nov. 9. They went into the tournament roughly 6-1 and finished second on the board, only behind Gonzaga (3rd -1). Arizona vs. Wright State's team total is an incredible 90.5. ATS Records: Arizona 20-13-1. Alabama-Birmingham is sixth nationally in scoring (80.7 percent) and 19th in three-point shooting (37.9%). ATS Records: Houston 22-12, UAB 18-13-1. Tip: Alabama-Birmingham with 8.5. » READ MORE: Villanova's Brandon Slater opened all sorts of eyes at the Big East Tournament Davidson point guard Foster Loyer played three modest seasons at Michigan State, where he averaged 2.6 points in 86 career games. He averaged 16.3 for the Wildcats that year. Michigan State lost in the First Four last year and has not gone consecutive seasons without winning an NCAA tournament game in 25 years. ATS Records: Michigan St. 18-15-1, Davidson 20-12. Colgate is averaging 76.1 points per game, is second nationally in three-point shooting with 40.3%, and won 100-85 at Syracuse in November. Tip: Over 139. Tip: Over 139. ATS Records: Wisconsin 17-14, Colgate 17-15-1. "It's going to be a scary, scary, scary, scary sight for Seton Hall and for every team we're up against," enthused TCU forward Emanuel Miller upon hearing the Horned Frogs' first-round opponents. We know how much the coaches believe in us. We know what we can do. Now it's time." Dare you spend the last game of the first round fading Emanuel Miller? ATS Records: Seton Hall 14-16, TCU 18-11-3.


If Baker Mayfield is eventually traded, who might the Browns turn to as quarterback?

If Baker Mayfield is eventually traded, who might the Browns turn to as quarterback? (Author: Gardener)

Baker MayfieldBaker Mayfield has requested a swap, effectively saying goodbye to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns, who have been flirting with trade target Deshaun Watson, could now say they will not comply with the request. But it certainly feels like both sides went too far in the wrong direction to save the relationship. If a trade does end up happening -- and we think it will over time -- the Browns will lose a starting quarterback, and sources say that's not ideal. Of course, a quarterback could come in for Mayfield, and that's certainly an important option to address the issue. If Deshaun Watson lands in Atlanta, Ryan would be sent home. That's a pretty glaring twist for the Falcons, who are said to have agreed to contractual adjustments to Ryan's deal, but these have yet to be processed while the Falcons pursue Watson. Ryan's current contract has two years left and will pay him salaries of $23.75 million in 2022 and $28 million in 2023. The Browns are currently sitting with about $16 million in salary caps, but could do so at the make them walk if they wanted to. Could Matt Ryan say goodbye to the Atlanta Falcons? (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) Ryan turns 37 in May but he has maintained a high level of performance - even as the Falcons have fallen off and receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley have faded. In 2021, Ryan completed 375 of 560 passes (67.0%) for 3,968 yards, 20 TDs and 12 interceptions. If there's one statistic that should concern Cleveland, it's the number of sacks he's taken. Ryan was fired 40 times last year, the fourth consecutive time he's taken at least as many. He has lost a total of 171 sacks over the past four years. He's missed just three career games, and just one since the 2009 season. He could certainly be a senior bridge QB for the next season or two -- and maybe even longer -- depending on when the Browns would consider his design a potential replacement. This wouldn't come without its challenges, but Garoppolo could help the Browns transition from one Mayfield era to the next. The 49ers say they want to get Garoppolo right and trade him this offseason, but so far the market has been cool. First, Garoppolo just had shoulder surgery and will likely miss a large part of the offseason program wherever he ends up. That's a bit of a concern for any team rumored to want to make him their Week 1 starter, but at this rate he'd be back by the start of training camp. Jimmy Garoppolo's trading market has been quiet so far. Garoppolo is currently on the books to hit the $26.95 million salary cap next year. It's one thing to add Ryan at or around that number, but Garoppolo doesn't have the same credentials and plus points. Which leads us to another concern: is Garoppolo that good? The 49ers' success without him pales in comparison to the results with Garoppolo on the field. But there's also a reason San Francisco staged a major draft trade to secure Trey Lance a year ago. The 49ers may have felt then — and almost certainly do now — that Garoppolo played about as well as he will play. But if Kyle has seen Shanahan Garoppolo's blanket, what's to say that the Browns will somehow get more out of him? Besides, Garoppolo has suffered a slew of injuries aside from the shoulder in recent years. Mariota would come out a lot cheaper than the first two options. But Mariota hasn't started a game since Week 6 of the 2019 season, when he was benched by the Titans. Since then, Mariota has completed 19 of 31 passes for 254 yards, a TD and an INT, and rushed 22 times for 175 yards and two more points. The Raiders often took advantage of Mariota's athleticism with a special package of games over the past two seasons, primarily as a runner. Is Mariota ready for the next assignment? He would probably answer yes, but the Browns might not think so. Mariota's acquisition would likely cost less (an incentive deal, maybe?) and might consider a year-long "prove it" deal, but it would almost certainly require the Browns to draft a relatively tall quarterback this year — let's say , Somewhere in the first three rounds. Mariota's previous injury worries would be worrying; He was injured in his first touch of the season last year and has had various ailments since joining the league. Also, we just can't know what to expect from him after barely seeing the field for most of the past three years. Winston, like Mariota, would be a harder sell than anything but a placeholder. Like Mariota, Winston was at a crossroads a few years ago when he signed with the New Orleans Saints as Drew Brees' backup. After barely playing in 2020, he threw a 56-yard TD pass against his former Buccaneers team in the playoffs that year, but was then pushed into a starting role with the Saints last season. Winston, 28, got off to a strong start to his 2021 season, completing 59% of his passes for 1,170 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions in seven starts and leading New Orleans to a 5-2 record. But Winston suffered a cruciate ligament tear and damaged MCL in Week 8, which ended his season. He's now a free agent and is set to get back in shape and would likely be ready to see the field during OTAs - earlier than Garoppolo. Sure, Sean Payton seemed to get the best out of Winston last year, but his career before that was one of massive ups and downs. If the Browns sign Winston, he'd have both of his former teams -- the Bucs and Saints -- on the bill this year. This feels like a kind of high variance signing. As far as Mayfield replacements go, this one might be a little too flashy. No, they're not the same players, but with a similar frame and playstyle, Minshew has historically been compared to a dollar store Mayfield. In his career (27 games, 22 starts), he has completed 542 of 857 passes (63.2%) for 5,969 yards with 41 TDs and 12 picks, as well as 105 rushes for 518 yards and one result. Could the Eagles trade Gardner Minshew? (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) In Mayfield's last 22 starts, he completed 421 of 681 passes (61.8%) for 5,059 yards, 28 TDs and 14 interceptions, as well as 72 rushes for 234 yards and two other points. Granted, more than half of those starts came after Mayfield suffered a shoulder injury in Week 2 last year that worsened as the season progressed and caused him to miss two starts. When the Eagles dealt out for Minshew, it came down to a pittance: a conditional sixth-round pick. Minshew's numbers were good, but he's clearly not valued as a true starter by many NFL teams. So yes, he could potentially be up for a song, and Minshew is a year younger than Mayfield. But as with the previous two options, the Browns would be immediately on the clock to draft his successor. This could play a role in whether or not the Browns acquire a veteran after a trade with Mayfield. It may not be the best year to look for a QB saver in the draft, but reports of how terrible these passers are feel way overblown. Two, maybe even three, could end up as respectable NFL starters. The Browns now have decent draft capital - and could get more in return for Mayfield. That's eight picks plus theoretical Mayfield to play with. At 13, they could get the QB2 - probably either Pitt's Kenny Pickett or Liberty's Malik Willis. Someone will trade for him, and we'll spend the day after Round 1 debating if he "went too high." However. But depending on how high QB1 moved in, especially if it's Willis, that could force another team to pass teams like the Browns at 13 or even the Seahawks at 9 to land QB2, which we suspect will it's Pickett. This might play out a bit similar to the 2017 NFL draft. The Chiefs and the Texans followed, trading for Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson through 10 and 12, respectively. Liberty QB Malik Willis could be the first quarterback to be drafted. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) It's important to remember that there was a healthy dose of skepticism about quarterbacks in that class back then. Some of the day-before-the-draft mocks five years ago had the quarterbacks dribbling off the board somewhere in their teens or maybe a little earlier. The point is that Willis and Pickett will likely leave sooner than many now believe. So this gives the Browns a preview of what could happen if they go into draft day without a clear resolution at quarterback. If they land Garoppolo, they could still feel that pressure given the injury worries. If they get Ryan, they can clearly be patient -- or dig into the 2023 draft if they really want to. But really, with any non-Ryan addition — or no movement — ahead of the draft, the Browns can't sit and watch the paint dry. The Browns need to figure out which QB they like best and expect him to be picked a half to a round higher than they currently predict.


With role growing, Michigan State freshman Jaden Akins ready for 'go-time'

Michigan State freshman Jaden Akins has gone from filling out the brackets to a key play for the Spartans in the NCAA tournament. (Author: Gardener)

Jaden AkinsC. - Jaden Akins knows he's no longer in Kansas. And when the Michigan State Freshman Guard gets his first taste of March Madness, he begins to understand what that means. Even playing time in open practice in front of the fans on Thursday afternoon, when Akins showed off his leaps and rose from the crowd with a ho-hum windmill dunk between his legs. For a kid who grew up in the Detroit area and watches the NCAA tournament every year — until the end of the championship game to see the “One Shining Moment” montage, he says — is a dream come true. "And it's just crazy that it's really here now," Akins said as he and the rest of the seventh Spartans prepare to face number 10-wearing Davidson in Friday night's West Regional opener. Last March, the Farmington native wrapped up yet another tortuous prep career that ended with a move last year to Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, where current teammate Malik Hall and former MSU point guard Tum Tum Nairn both played. Now Akins is a key reserve for the Spartans as Tom Izzo's program makes his 24th straight NCAA appearance. And the freshman shooting guard could -- should -- be an X-factor in Michigan State's attempt to march past the first round. Not just because point guard Tyson Walker sustained an ankle injury sustained in Saturday's Big Ten tournament semifinal loss to Purdue. Izzo said Walker trained a bit on Wednesday, more on Thursday and will play against Davidson. How much - and how well - remains to be seen, although Walker showed few negative effects in the Spartans' open practice. "He's not going to be 100%," Izzo said, "but he's not 50% either." J. Hoggard, who played a career-high 34 — including the entire second half — and maybe some time the point for the Boilermakers against the Boilermakers Newcomer Max Christie scored. Maybe for Akins, too, although that's almost beside the point in his matchup against Davidson, where 6ft 4, 1 athleticism is bound to make a difference. "He's the only guy who can get the color," said Izzo, "and I think that's going to be crucial in a game like this." It's obviously crucial for Hoggard, who will attack former Michigan State point guard Foster Loyer early and often, in off-ball screens or in late-time situations. Ditto Walker if he can. "Jaden is ready for a different role because Jaden has been getting a little bit better all the time," Izzo said, noting the increase in his playing time over the past month as Akins averaged 17.3 minutes per game in March. "I've been really excited by the process -- and the progress -- that Jaden Akins has made as he continues to work on his filming." Akins, who is shooting less than 40% from the field this season, has scored in the state's three games Michigan combined 10 points in the Big Ten tournament. He also grabbed nine rebounds -- three on the offensive glass -- and didn't make a turnover in 53 minutes on the Indianapolis court. And that kind of effort and energy might have gotten him a longer look on Friday against Davidson, especially with Walker's limited recovery from injury. "I think and hope that one way or another you're going to see more and more minutes of Jaden," Izzo said. It's been a constant theme all season for Akins, a player Izzo has often compared to Charlie Bell, one of his early favorites as head coach. A freshman on Izzo's first NCAA tournament team in 1998, Bell made an immediate impact with his defense and rebounds. But over time, Bell developed his offensive play and finished his collegiate career as an All-American on a Final Four team, "and I see the process going in the same direction for Jaden," Izzo says. But most of the time, if you ask Akins for a progress report or talk about the process, he just shrugs. "But I'm not satisfied with my year because it's not over yet," he said. "And I feel like there's always room for improvement." There's just no room for guesswork now that we're getting started. "No, I won't be filling in a bracket this year," Akins said, smiling. "I'll just play."


Davante Adams' reunion with Derek Carr gives the Las Vegas Raiders an elite All-Pro WR in their prime

By reuniting with his former Fresno State quarterback, Adams brings the Raiders an elite receiving goal that should succeed where others have failed. (Author: Gardener)

Davante Adams'Paul Gutierrez explains how trading Davante Adams is beneficial for Derek Carr and the Raiders. Paul Gutierrez explains how trading Davante Adams is beneficial for Derek Carr and the Raiders. Henry Ruggs III began to unfold early last season before his high-speed drunk car accident claimed the lives of a 23-year-old woman and her dog and Ruggs was cut. So yes, Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has had "names" to throw the ball to throughout his eight-year NFL career. But with Thursday's blockbuster trade with the Green Bay Packers for Davante Adams, Carr not only has his first real, still-prime No. 1 receiver, he also has a familiar and reassuring face that reconnects with his old Fresno State wideout combines 17 selections excluding second-round picks for the first time since joining the NFL together in 2014. What you need to know about the Las Vegas Raiders: In fact, Adams could be the first prime-age alpha wideout to actually want to be a raider since Hall of Famer Tim Brown. (Randy Moss doesn't count because, well, you know). Consider this: Adams is just 29 years old and last season set franchise records for the Packers in a single season in catches (123) and receiving yards (1,553) and was shot for 120+ catches, 1,500+ yards and 11 became just the sixth player in league history-plus touchdown catches in the same season, with league MVP Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball to him. Adams is also the only player in NFL history to have three seasons with 110+ catches, 1,350+ receiving yards and 11+ TD catches in 2018, 2020 and 2021. Old Carr, meanwhile, has a career-best 4,804 passing yards despite being picked up 14 times with a career worst and 40 times released at a career high from behind a rebuilt offensive line. Because if the Raiders don't secure things in advance to give Carr time, it doesn't matter who runs the routes for him. Adams' acquisition was a boon to the Raiders' new regime of general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels, whose offense will be new to everyone involved ... except for the former New England Patriots, the Raiders signed in free agency as running back Brandon Bolden and full-back Jakob Johnson. The move could prove to be the biggest stir yet in a growing roster of AFC West talent, as the Denver Broncos acquire quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks and sign Randy Gregory; the Los Angeles Chargers add edge rusher Khalil Mack and cornerback J.C. Jackson; and the six-time Kansas City Chiefs champion, who still boasts quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill. And with Adams coming to Las Vegas and signing a five-year contract averaging $28.5 million per season, an extension must be on the cards for Carr, who is entering the final year of his five-year, $125 million contract. Why else would Adams come to southern Nevada if not to hook up with his college bestie from the Central California Valley for the foreseeable future? Adams as WR1 also gives Carr in particular, the Raiders in general, a dominant pass catching corps. Slotman Hunter Renfrow comes from a 103 catch campaign. Darren Waller is one of the most dangerous tight ends in the game. The same goes for tight end Foster Moreau. The versatile free-agent Mack Hollins pickup should also fit in nicely. It seemed like the Raiders were sitting and twiddling their thumbs while the rest of the division lapped them in the free-hand legal manipulation period this week. Rather, they were biding their time. Because by going all in on Adams in this year's draft by trading their first and second round picks, and winning a prolific pass rusher in Chandler Jones to pair with Maxx Crosby, the Raiders are now more than contenders in the hyper-competitive AFC West; it's safe to say they're Super Bowl contenders. As long as the O-Line protects Carr, there are no excuses.


With money to spend, Packers are reportedly bringing Douglas back

The Green Bay Packers could have the NFL's best cornerback trio in Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes. (Author: Gardener)

Douglas- How will the Green Bay Packers win games without Davante Adams? After trading Adams to Las Vegas, the Packers — who are now flush with cap money after deleting his $20.1 franchise tag from the ledger — intend to re-sign cornerback Rasul Douglas, according to Dianna's Russini. The signing will happen, she said, once the trade is official and money is removed from the cap. "They don't seem interested anymore," a source close to Douglas said this week. Just when it seemed the door was about to close after the team used up most of their cap spot by signing De'Vondre Campbell, the Packers made the amazing decision to trade All-Pro Adams. "Of course," Douglas said at the end of the season about his desire to return to Green Bay. But I don't think it's all my decision." Assuming the deal goes through, the Packers would field with a cornerback corps of star Jaire Alexander, standout rookie Eric Stokes and Douglas, who would see the Packers in the saved with five interceptions last season. "Rasul is another great addition to our team for 2021 and we would love to have Rasul back," said General Manager Brian Gutekunst at the Scouting Combine. "He's been in this league for a while and has had some successes but what he's done for us this year, especially when we've had some injuries from Jaire and stuff, it's really solidified our football team, particularly in defence. Obviously the big plays he had -- the big splash plays -- but he did things for us on teams, he did things in the running game that might not make the headlines. We'd like to have Rasul back.” After Alexander sustained a shoulder injury in Week 4, the Packers were in desperate need of a cornerback. Shortly after the Panthers announced they had brought the South Carolina native home, the Packers announced they had signed Douglas off the Cardinals' practice team. In the history of teams poaching players from practice squads, it's hard to believe there was a greater impact transaction. Douglas played in 12 games beginning with the October 17 game against Chicago. Isaac Yiadom started this game and was benched after a poor opening series. Douglas, who was only 11 days with the Packers at the time, replaced him in the lineup. Douglas started just nine games, leading the team and ranking fourth in the NFL in interceptions. They weren't garbage time stat padding games either. Douglas saved the Arizona game with an end zone interception. He might have saved the game against Cleveland with a last-minute interception. "What a great story," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after the game in Arizona. "How special is this game? The guy is on the street, come in, start for us, finish for us. Blessed man,” Douglas said that night. "You're in a crazy mental state, five years in the league and you've never been on a practice team. And then one day you're just on a practice team, you feel like you're not working for anything, and then you get a call and you're somewhere else playing. Of 88 cornerbacks who played at least 50 percent of defensive snaps, he finished second in passer rating (51.9), seventh in catch percentage (52.2), 11th in forced incompletion percentage (15.0 ) and 13th in snaps per reception (13.3). according to Pro Football Focus. He was also arguably the best player on special teams. While Douglas hasn't played for Spirit Lake, Grand Lake, Devils Lake, or Crater Lake, he has spent time in Las Vegas, Houston, Arizona and now Green Bay, for Pete's sake. A third-round pick by Philadelphia in 2017, Douglas played 46 games with 18 starts in three seasons with the Eagles. However, he failed to stay for a fourth season. Released at the end of training camp, he was released from waivers by Carolina, for whom he started a career-high 11 games last season. Douglas was a free agent last offseason and signed with the Raiders but was released near the end of training camp. He spent a few days with the Texans as nothing more than a camp body to get through the preseason finals. A few days later, he signed on to the Cardinals practice team. "It's crazy how that happens in this league," defensive coordinator Joe Barry once said. After the Rams game, coach Matt LaFleur let Douglas speak in the dressing room. "I just told them I appreciate all of you here," Douglas said. "You have made me feel like this is my home. And that's a good feeling, you know what I mean?"


Davante Adams deal leaves a gaping hole but Packers could be better off in the bigger picture

It turns out Aaron Rodgers isn't the only Green Bay Packers star who can hold a grudge. (Author: Gardener)

Davante AdamsGREEN BAY - It turns out Aaron Rodgers isn't the only Green Bay Packers star who can hold a grudge. Davante Adams was nothing but the good soldier in the final year of his contract last season, but if reports are true the Packers were willing to pay him the same as part of the blockbuster trade teams made Thursday night the Las Vegas Raiders, then Adams just wanted out of Green Bay. Sure, he can now reunite with fellow college quarterback Derek Carr. But leaving Aaron Rodgers for the same money? Adams must have felt burnt about something, either they wouldn't pay him what he thought he was worth with a contract extension last year or something that had happened in their contract talks since the end of the season. Anyway, Adams is no longer with the Packers, and according to multiple reports, Rodgers knew things were going in that direction before agreeing to sign with the team last week. Rodgers and Adams weren't a package deal, after all. It's shocking because Rodgers has made it clear he wants the Packers all-in as long as he plays with them, but the deal with Adams likely won't benefit from the two draft picks that ESPN are reporting they're giving them (No. 22 and 53 overall). ) for a few years, if ever. The Rodgers-Adams connection was great, best in the NFL. General Manager Brian Gutekunst and CEO Mark Murphy know this, which is why they leaked that they were willing to pay Adams the same money as the Raiders. It's worth noting that the Packers have gone 7-0 without Adams for the past three years, and that's hard to ignore. But it's worth remembering that it came 7-0 against teams that finished 57-55-1 combined, and one of those teams was the 12-win Kansas City Chiefs, who went up against the Packers without Patrick Mahomes. But even at 7-0, it's still hard to believe the Packers 22 are a better team with the cap space and draft picks than they are with Adams. Still, this season will test the theory that Rodgers has at times settled on Adams with one error. Among the many surprises in this big trade was that Raiders were willing to give up so much for a receiver who turns 30 in December. Along with the five-year average of $28.25 million per season, the Raiders relinquished their first- and second-round picks that year. That's a lot for a recipient who probably only has three really good years left at best. Adams' value was higher with the Packers because he and Rodgers had played together for so long, and in the current system for three years. In Las Vegas, Adams will be on a new offense and with a quarterback he hasn't played with since college at Fresno State. It's not like he and Carr can just pick up where they left off. More: Packers trade star receiver Davante Adams for Raiders for two draft picks Related: A look at Davante Adams' career stats with the Packers In the here and now of free agency, Gutekunst suddenly has $20 million more in salary cap wiggle room, but also an incredibly gaping hole in the receiver. We can only assume that if Rodgers knew last week that Adams might be traded before signing his own contract extension, the quarterback received some assurances that Gutekunst will fill out the receiving corps with a few veterans. Right now, the Packers' top two receivers are Allen Lazard, their No. 3 last season, and Randall Cobb, who is due to recover from injury in August at the age of 32. The extra money will allow Gutekunst to sign several mid-tier free agents for anywhere on the roster -- ESPN reports they're working to bring back cornerback Rasul Douglas -- and that certainly includes a veteran receiver or two. Perhaps Marquez Valdes scantling will be back in the resign mix now that there is more cap room as well. You can also bet on Gutekunst picking at least two and maybe even three recipients in the April draft. This certainly changes the outlook for the Packers draft in other ways as well. Gutekunst has needs galore - receiver, tight end and defensive line at the top of the list, cornerback (even assuming Douglas re-signs), inside linebacker and tackle. He now has two more high picks that he can either use for players or trade for even more picks in a draft that's said to be strong in the middle rounds. Related: A Deep Wide Receivers class gathers at the NFL combine to sing the praises of Davante Adams. There's no getting around it, Thursday night's trading was insane. It's amazing that Adams wanted to get out and play with Carr when he had such a great thing going with Rodgers. And amazing that Rodgers willingly returned to the team even though he knew Adams probably wasn't coming back. Aside from some exceptional work in free agency and drafting, it's a trade that's hurting the Packers' 2022 Super Bowl hopes. It also improves their prospects for a few years later.


Will Davante Adams get a major fantasy demotion after Packers traded WR to Raiders?

Will Davante Adams get a major fantasy demotion after Packers traded WR to Raiders? (Author: Gardener)

Will Davante AdamsI never thought I'd be more stunned by a wide receiver trade than I was a few years ago when the Texans fielded DeAndre Hopkins for a running back and a round-2 pick. Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers... They won. The Packers agreed to trade Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for their first- and second-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Raiders immediately granted his demands for a new and well-deserved contract, making him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL at $28.3 million a year. Adams recently bought a home in Las Vegas, which raised some eyebrows considering his contract was expiring and his relationship with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr — the two played college football together at Fresno State. Adams later told the Packers he would never play on the franchise tag, quietly bringing heated contract talks from last summer to a boiling point. In the most amazing development of this saga, according to NFL Network's Ian Rappaport, Aaron Rodgers agreed to come back and sign his new contract with the Green Bay Packers, already knowing Adam's time with the team was coming to an end. The relationship was so far away that Adams had no interest in this mega contract with the Packers, only wanting to play with the Raiders. This is an attacking change for the new-look Raiders under Josh McDaniels, who are making their big swing to keep up with the AFC West arms race. Adams is the best wide receiver in the NFL. The position is stacked with incredible players, both in the depth line and at the very top of the rung. But what Adams has accomplished over the past four years, consistently dominating the stats and showing flawless play on film, has been unmatched by anyone. Davante Adams will suffer an easy fantasy hit after the Packers dealt the receiver to the Raiders, but he should still be an elite option. If anyone thinks Adams is simply a Rodgers product or just a good receiver raised by his star passer, they're openly admitting they don't watch the games. Of course, moving from Rodgers to Carr is a quarterback demotion. Carr is having the best season of his career and deserves a place in the top 10 at the position, but Rodgers is coming back to earned MVPs. Rodgers is perhaps one of football's top five straight pitchers in league history and he's operating at the peak of his powers. All in all, Carr isn't enough in the fantasy rankings for a downgrade to Crater Adams; Dynasty, recast, best ball...any of those. The fact that Carr is a proven, above-average player at the position and he's a passer that Adams has an ingrained electric history with. Aside from a new contract for Carr, completing this trade for Adams is the strongest move the Raiders could take to cement Carr's status as their man for the next few seasons. Adams won't have to deal with quarterback instability any time soon. That's very important, as is the Raiders' cavernous hole in the outside wide receiver. On that note, consider that while Adams gets a demotion in the quarterback column, he may get an overall offensive volume boost. While Rodgers has been extremely efficient, the Packers have finished only 15th and 24th in total passing attempts over the past two seasons. The overall dish might not be Michelin-star quality, but it's far from a fast-food dump, and the overall slice of the pie might actually make up the loss for Adams. Josh McDaniels' offenses were all about pace, pace and more of a pass-first operation as he had quality no-rookie quarterback play in New England. That's the way it should be with the Raiders, and that's going to really help balance out Adams' tanking in projection models. This is an offensive system that I felt would be a great fit with Carr's strengths once word got out that McDaniels was taking over the job. With the Packers, Adams would have been my #1 fantasy wide receiver and a clear top-five pick. He won't be with the Raiders. However, he won't fall out of my top three at that position and is still a comfortable pick for Round 1. Elsewhere in Vegas, I'm still very interested in other pass catchers like Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, assuming their ADPs stick appropriate. Adams is a transformational talent. With the rest of the depth chart devoid of needle-moving pass catchers, this trio should be paired for the vast majority of Carr's looks. While Carr isn't an elite player, he's good enough to keep the train on the tracks for all these guys. Back in Green Bay, the league MVP returns to an offense lacking in passing talent. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb are set to return, but they're both the best from the slot, as is last year's rookie Amari Rodgers. Outside options are a stone cold zero as the rocky Marquez Valdes scantling is yet to be signed. The best wide receiver available is theoretically Odell Beckham, but the team he last played for doesn't expect him until November. JuJu Smith-Schuster is out there, but he's also a pure slots player. He would be a huge upgrade over Lazard and Cobb, but is he too redundant? Those names aside, there aren't any more surefire starters...other than Antonio Brown, and you hardly need to get an overview of why that's unlikely. Assuming Green Bay doesn't have an ace trade up their sleeves, it looks like the Packers are finally going to do what fans and media alike are clamoring for: Pick up a round-one receiver. This design has a good mix of size and speed to suit the outside world. Now Green Bay have two first-round picks and a pair of second-round picks that they can use to redesign their wide receiver and/or tight end space. The Packers were more of a run-heavy offense than most fans might realize. Rodgers won't be as hyper-efficient without Adams, but he's so good individually that this passing offense should remain a quality unit. Everything beyond Adams was already up in the air or in need of modernization. With such a lack of clarity hanging over the Packers offense, it's difficult to put the stamp of approval on anyone's call-up in the passing game right now. We should have faith in Rodgers' ability to improve this unit, especially after presumably receiving some talent boost. Especially when you consider that anyone beyond the No. 1 recipient has been sorely lacking in the talent department for the past three years. But if we believe Adams is a transformative talent — everything about his film and stats resume confirms he is — we can't believe things will continue as usual in Green Bay.


Who won the Packers-Raiders deal?

For a long time, people would have forgiven you if you didn't believe Davante Adams would become the NFL's top receiver. In his first two seasons at Green Bay, Adams totaled 929 yards, 88 passes and four touchdowns. Only in the fifth year... (Author: Gardener)

the Packers-Raiders2021 Salary: $16,787,500 Estimated 2022 Franchise Tag Cost: $19,127,000 Losing Adams likely means losing Aaron Rodgers. The problem for Green Bay is a swollen salary cap, which is expected to be around $53 million above the 2022 estimated $208 million. General Manager Brian Gutekunst will have to work overtime to clear veterans and restructure contracts before he gets to a load class of local free agents. Tagging Adams would lengthen his timeline and give him an opportunity to work out an extension that would keep the All-Pro in Wisconsin widespread while deferring his biggest cap hits to later seasons. It would also signal Rodgers how serious the team is about keeping him happy as he retires from his NFL career. For a long time, people would have forgiven you if you didn't believe that Davante Adams would be the NFL's top receiver. In his first two seasons at Green Bay, Adams totaled 929 yards, 88 passes and four touchdowns. Only in the fifth year of his career did he surpass the all-important mark of 1,000 receiving yards. And in 2020-2021, Adams reached the pinnacle of his craft: He was a first-team All-Pro. Twice. After Aaron Rodgers signed the most expensive contract in NFL history to return to Green Bay, many had speculated about what Adams' future in green and gold would hold. The Packers had franchise-tagged their second best player, but they didn't have nearly the resources to keep him on the books as their woeful salary cap stood. And so Adams is now a Las Vegas raider with little recourse but the direct eject button. Impressive. Feel free to pick your jaw off the floor. Let's dissect this blockbuster deal between the Packers and Raiders and make a firm judgment on who looks better on the other side. Let all the football fans you care about know one thing: the salary cap matters. You should know better and you are hurting the wider football community by saying otherwise. If it was fake, Adams would still be a packer. Yes, the Packers had their backs against the wall financially after bringing Rodgers back. But part of going all-in with a quarterback heading into 40 is making sure he has a full talent package. The Packers expect to be in the game for Super Bowl 57 and every foreseeable future Super Bowl as long as Rodgers is alive and kicking and there's some juice left in his arm, and that won't be forever. The last team that should trade away All-Pros is a team with a quarterback going into 40. If Green Bay isn't getting the reincarnation of a young Randy Moss (or even Ja'Marr Chase) with one of the Raiders' picks, they are. We're not going to replace the 29 touchdowns we've had in the last two years. Most regular players, no matter how talented, take time to mature. Most Super Bowl offenses also have legitimate game-changing weapons up and down their depth chart. I don't know the Packers' plan to get back to that level for Rodgers, but it's better to be good. At the end of his new contract, he has a $75 million dead cap hit. Perhaps by then the Mystery Box recipients, who will definitely pick them in this year's draft, have been stars on a championship team. The bill that forced her to trade with Adams will resurface. Maybe next time it won't hurt so much. After the arms race that the AFC West was embroiled in last week, it would have been a misconduct for the Raiders not to make multiple moves. Davante Adams is the incredible icing on the cake. Las Vegas acquired the league's top receiver -- an All-Pro in his physical prime -- for a first-round pick likely to be in the 20s and a second-round pick. It's the equivalent of your fantasy football buddy getting password access to your roster and trading in your top players himself, but dropping back a bit because he was "feeling bad". No, Paul, that didn't make me any better! They're in it to win it, and they'll foot the bill later (like the Packers did). In terms of non-squad football, Adams is a perfect fit for the Raiders. The last time these two were on the same team with the same common goal, Adams caught 42 touchdowns in two seasons. They won't have a hard time recreating much of the same magic in the NFL. Better yet, for those who have lamented Green Bay's occasional lack of offensive diversity, there will be no such problems in Las Vegas. Darren Waller is a Pro Bowl-level tight end in his prime. Hunter Renfrow is one of the best slot receivers in the league, also in his prime. That three-man welcome from Cerberus is what I'm talking about when I say teams need multiple walking matchup problems to win Super Bowls. It's the perfect ideal, and the Raiders now have one. McDaniels and company should be fortunate to have all the leverage in this deal. They have a championship offense on paper. Getting Adams for pennies was the hard part. Gonzaga's victory over Georgia State was a rollercoaster ride for anyone who bet on the spread


Raiders acquire Davante Adams from Packers

The Las Vegas Raiders made a blockbuster attempt to compete in the AFC West, acquiring All-Pro receiver Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers. A person familiar with the move said the Raiders are sending the No. 22 overall pick in the April draft and additional compensation to the Packers Thursday to reunite Adams with fellow college quarterback Derek Carr. The person spoke on condition of anonymity as the deal had not been announced. (Author: Gardener)

Davante AdamsFILE - Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams runs in the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Detroit Lions January 9, 2022 in Detroit. The Las Vegas Raiders traded two draft picks to Green Bay for All-Pro receiver Adams. A person familiar with the move said Thursday, March 17, the Raiders are sending the No. 22 overall pick in the April draft and another draft pick to the Packers to pair Adams with fellow college quarterback Derek to reunite Carr. The Las Vegas Raiders made a blockbuster attempt to compete in the AFC West, acquiring All-Pro receiver Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers. A person familiar with the move said the Raiders are sending the No. 22 overall pick in the April draft and additional compensation to the Packers Thursday to reunite Adams with fellow college quarterback Derek Carr. NFL Network reported that Adams has agreed to a new five-year deal with the Raiders that will net him $141.25 million, the richest deal ever for a wide receiver. It was an aggressive move by the new Raiders regime led by coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler, and the latest in an AFC West arms race as teams seek to trap Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Now the Raiders are trying to keep up and build on a 10-win season that sent them into the playoffs for the second time in the last 19 seasons. Las Vegas may have one of the most dynamic offenses in the league as Carr has its best playmakers, with Adams working with Pro Bowl slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, star tight end Darren Waller and running back Josh Jacobs. Carr has a strong history with Adams, playing two seasons together in Fresno State college. In their final year together, 2013, Adams had 131 catches for 1,719 yards and 24 TDs. Now the next big step for the Raiders will likely be to extend Carr's contract. He's in the final year of a five-year, $125 million deal and is up for a lucrative extension after the Raiders appear to go all-in. Adams has been one of the most prolific receivers in the NFL in recent years. His 432 catches, 5,310 yards receiving and 47 TD receptions lead the NFL over the past four seasons. He had 123 catches for 1,553 yards and 11 TDs last season while making his second straight All-Pro Team. That trade comes less than two weeks after the Packers put the franchise tag on Adams and two days after the Packers announced that two-time reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers had signed a contract extension. The franchise tag meant Adams would have been paid just over $20 million for the 2022 season had he and the Packers not worked out an extension before July 15. Adams, who has said he wants to be the game's highest-paid wide receiver, was asked late in the season about the prospect of getting the franchise tag. Adams, 29, is the only player in NFL history to have at least 110 catches, 1,350 yards receiving and 11 touchdown receptions in three seasons. Adams is the only player alongside Marvin Harrison and Larry Fitzgerald to have 600 catches, 8,000 yards receiving and 70 touchdown receptions in his first eight seasons. His departure leaves a huge void in Green Bay's offense. The Packers have their MVP quarterback but need to figure out who's going to catch Rodgers' passes. Allen Lazard is an unrestricted free agent who received a second-round tender this week. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the team's biggest threat, is an unrestricted free agent. Tight end Robert Tonyan is also an unrestricted free agent.


Cole Beasley, Julio Jones cut as Allen Robinson joins Rams

Cole Beasley and Julio Jones are looking for new teams. Allen Robinson joined the reigning Super Bowl champions on a three-year contract, and DJ Chark chose to fill a one-season need in Detroit over a longer contract elsewhere. Baker Mayfield wants to be traded out of Cleveland, not happy the Browns wanted to try and replace him with Deshaun Watson on day two of NFL free agency. (Author: Gardener)

Cole BeasleyFILE - New York Giants safety Logan Ryan (23) tackles Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson (12) during the second half of an NFL football game January 2, 2022 in Chicago. Robinson could be on the way out, having gone from consecutive seasons rushing for 1,100 yards to finishing with 410 under the franchise tag. Allen Robinson joined the reigning Super Bowl champions on a three-year contract, and DJ Chark chose to fill a one-season need in Detroit over a longer contract elsewhere. Baker Mayfield wants to be traded out of Cleveland, not happy the Browns wanted to try and replace him with Deshaun Watson on day two of NFL free agency. He agreed to agree to a three-year deal Thursday as the youngest notable receiver to join the Rams and Los Angeles' first outside free agent to sign this month. FILE - Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) runs the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, December 19, 2021, in Orchard Park, NY. Beasley may forget to negotiate a trade from Buffalo now that he's a free agent after being cut by the Bills on Thursday, March 17, 2022. The deal with one of the NFL's most reliable and experienced pass catchers gives the Rams someone who had 2,397 yards and 13 combined touchdowns across the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Robinson was limited to 12 games last season through injury, catching 38 passes for 410 yards. The Buffalo Bills released Beasley while the Tennessee Titans officially released a seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver in Jones on Thursday. Beasley had been given permission to seek a deal with a year left on his contract, but the Bills trimmed their top slot receiver to make room for the salary cap a day after signing two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Von Miller had. annual contract. FILE - Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, September. A person familiar with the move says the Titans will release Jones, a seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, in a bid to clear the salary cap spot. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File) Chark said other teams wanted to give the former Pro Bowl wide receiver, who was limited to four games last season in Jacksonville because of a broken ankle, a long-term deal. He signed a $10 million deal for this season and said he sees a good match with the Lions, who badly needed a deep threat. A person familiar with the discussions says Mayfield asked the Browns to trade him through his agent shortly after Watson told the team he wasn't coming to Cleveland. Dallas released La'el Collins with a starter on offense in another cost-cutting move. Collins is being cited as cutting after June 1 to save a $10 million salary cap later this year. Others released Thursday after June 1 included Philadelphia defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Cleveland tight end Austin Hooper. The Giants released safety veteran Logan Ryan after he started 30 of 31 games. The New York Jets agreed Jacob Martin to a three-year deal worth up to $16.5 million, according to a person with direct knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to AP on condition of anonymity Thursday, as the team had yet to announce the signing. FILE - In this Aug. 13, 2021 file photo, the Dallas Cowboys' La'el Collins walks off the field during a preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Arizona. The Dallas Cowboys release the right tackle with La'el Collins in the second cost-cutting effort that involved one of their starters on offense, a person with knowledge of the decision said Thursday, March 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri , files) J. Reed officially signed a three-year deal on Thursday . Safety Justin Reid signed his three-year, $31.5 million free agent contract with Kansas City on Thursday, making a deal official that was struck earlier this week. The Atlanta Falcons have signed two restricted free agents, offensive lineman Colby Gossett and defensive lineman Anthony Rush. The Falcons also signed free agent offensive lineman Elijah Wilkinson and cornerback Teez Tabor.