That doesn’t mean it has happened, and it is wrong to diagnose a concussion from only watching on television. But it is indicative. In those instances, returning to play in five minutes is simply too short. The NFL needs to do more to make sure teams err on the side of caution, and not in returning key players to the field.
The Browns now have two first-round choices and two second-round selections in this year’s NFL draft and a first-rounder and three second-rounders in next year’s draft. There is the small matter, of course, of using those picks wisely. But there are more than enough draft-choice resources stockpiled for the Browns, if they want, to make an overwhelming offer for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that the New England Patriots simply could not refuse, even if they’re saying that they intend to retain Garoppolo.
The 49ers can be patient with the Kirk Cousins situation; if they cannot pry the franchise-tagged quarterback from the Redskins this offseason, they might have a far easier time getting Cousins to San Francisco a year from now. Lynch and Shanahan are in a start-over situation and they have begun restocking the roster by reaching agreements with linebacker Malcolm Smith, kicker Robbie Gould, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, tight end Logan Paulsen and wide receivers Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson.
The last two times the Patriots reached the Super Bowl, they found themselves deep in holes they weren’t accustomed to, against teams with the credentials, will and momentum to finish the job. The Patriots won both times. In 2015, they overcame the Seahawks, a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and a hopeless situation against their own goal line. Last year, it was the Falcons and 28-3.
The Vikings, who are the favorites to advance out of the NFC, have the NFL’s best defense, an outstanding coach, energy from the miraculous Saints win, a road win against the NFC’s top seed and the buzz of the first-ever Super Bowl home-field advantage. They’re just not the Patriots. — D.S.
But if he remains in Jacksonville, he will not be an inexpensive quarterback much longer. His four-year, $20.65 million rookie deal, which pays him $3.237 million this season, is expiring, and the Jaguars have exercised his fifth-year option for next season at a cost of $19.053 million. That is guaranteed only for injury, so the Jaguars still could decide to move on.