We’ll keep this list updated with players who get cut as well as for who’s signing where and for how much.

This is exactly what happened the week of Feb. 27. Teams started applying the tag, so names like Le’Veon Bell who made this look like a pretty sweet list are no longer available.

A few notes about our top 100 list.

This list, as with any kind of rankings, is subjective. The SB Nation NFL staff worked together to create it. We put a great deal of thought into it, but you will inevitably disagree with it. That’s fine. Save your tweets. We know. This is merely a guide to help the world keep track of which free agents are signing where.

The final salary cap for 2017 has now been set at $167 million. That’s a jump of nearly $12 million over last year’s $155.7 million cap. That’s consistent with the annual bumps we’ve seen since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement went into effect.

*Yes, Tony Romo is not technically a free agent, but he kinda is in that he’s available and the entire offseason sort of hinges on what he does next.

We’ll keep this list updated with players who get cut as well as for who’s signing where and for how much. So keep checking back.

Digging deeper, the Blue Devils’ Top 25 (9-4) and Top 50 (12-6) records are superior to the Tar Heels’ (6-4 against the Top 50, with all the wins coming at home, and 11-5 against the Top 50). Plus, Duke won two head-to-head matchups, including one on a neutral floor in Brooklyn.

North Carolina went above .500, 6-5, in true road games, while Duke went just 3-6. But the Heels’ overall road/neutral record of 10-7 isn’t quite as good as the Blue Devils’ 12-7.

That discrepancy also helped close a gap in schedule strength. Duke ranked just 88th in non-conference strength of schedule, with North Carolina 49th. But after the ACC slate is factored in, the Blue Devils grabbed the advantage, ranking third while the Heels are 11th. Super-sized conferences and the imbalanced league slates that result just make regular-season conference championships, even unofficial ones, not mean as much as they did 15 or 20 years ago.12

NFL combine 2017 results: Full numbers for kickers and punters

The NFL combine is an event where college players try to elevate their draft stock by performing well in position drills. Even special teams players like kickers and punters partake in drills.

However, specialists do not participate in every drill like players in other position groups do. For example, none of the kickers or punters this year attempted the bench press. So far, a few of them have run the 40-yard dash, however.

It’s the fourth year in a row the cap has gone up by at least $10 million, rising from $155 million last season. This means teams will have even more money to spend in free agency and throughout the off-season.

Since 2012, the cap has increased by $47 million, which is staggering to think about. What’s even more incredible is that the salary cap in 1994 — the first year it was instituted — was $34.6 million.

This just goes to show how much money the league has made over the years while showing no signs of slowing down.

The Hard Count team dive into exactly what happened in the Atlanta Falcons’ historic collapse against New England in Super Bowl LI, Lady Gaga’s halftime show and Eugenie Bouchard’s unfortunate bet!

Damian Lillard had 33 points, including a key 3-pointer with just under three minutes to go, and the Portland Trail Blazers rallied for a 114-109 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

Russell Westbrook scored 45 points on 12-of-36 shooting for the Thunder, who had their four-game winning streak snapped. Oklahoma City newcomer Taj Gibson added 15 points, including a high-arching buzzer-beater from 61 feet away to put the Thunder up 60-57 at halftime.

Alex Abrines’ 3-pointer put the Thunder in front 97-89 with 7:48 left for their biggest lead of the game. But Al-Farouq Aminu made a layup that tied it at 101 with 3:43 left. He missed the free throw, but Jusuf Nurkic got the tip-in to give Portland the lead.12

Vincent Jackson plans to play through fractured wrist, fantasy value holds steady

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson has a small fracture in his wrist, according to FOX Sports. He plans on playing through it and is not expected to miss Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rex Ryan some how alternates being skinny and fat each quater.

In the latest 80s SNL State-Farm commercal, Bill Parcells makes his acting debut as the body double for “It’s Pat.”

Saints verse Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. Between Sean Payton and Rob Ryan youve got coaches who were to competent for Jerry Jones to trust running his franchise making their triumphant return to Dallas. You have to imagine that Rob is literaly going to urinate on the midfield star during warmups and then Drew Brees will throw for 700 yds and 6 TDs to 5 diffrent receivers.

By the way what is Jerry Jones waiting for to activate Michael Sam? Theres no chance that his defense would be any worse then it is currently its just not mathmaticaly possible. In a week that is despereate for good storylines to be spoonfed to the liberal PC media this would be a welcome distracton, not that I care one way or the other about Michael Sam. Because I dont care and I wish that people would stop writing about him except for me when I’m telling everyone how little I care.

However- Woodheads lucky to have a guardian angel looking over him: Little did Danny know that the entire reason his teammate Phillip Rivers was squirting out all those kids was because he was growing a literal farm of tiny replacement bodyparts for Woodhead in the event of injury. Its too bad for Rivers son that hes going to lose a limb but he knew that was part of the deal all along.11

NFL picks against the spread, Week 4: Off to a questionable start

Week 4 of the 2014 NFL season got underway on Thursday with the New York Giants thrashing Washington, 45-14. This was the third straight blowout on Thursday Night Football, although it was also the first road team to get the victory. The Giants were a 3.5-point underdog, so the year of the underdog potentially continues.

The start of the new football week means we’re back for another five picks in the LVH SuperContest. The contest includes more than 1,400 participants picking games each week to see who can come out on top by the end of the season. I was sitting at 7-8 after Week 3, having put together another 2-3 performance in Week 3. I hit on the Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks, but slipped on the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars. Just looking at those names makes me shake my head.

As always, our partners at OddsShark have staked me and a handful of other participants in the SuperContest. You can track all of us here, and you can follow the standings here. Here are my picks for Week 4, with home team in caps.

WASHINGTON vs. New York Giants (+3.5): Whoops. I picked Washington because of the TNF home performances thus far. I also figured Washington showed some good things against Philadelphia. The Giants managed a home win against a previously unbeaten Houston Texans squad, but I just did not see them building on it. So much for that.

Eli Manning is getting the hang of this new offense.

There were question marks coming into the season about Manning’s ability to adapt to Ben McAdoo’s West Coast scheme. In fact, McAdoo’s scheme is so incongruous with Manning’s methodical, downfield style that some Giants players believed it was designed for the eventual takeover of Ryan Nassib — and they loomed even larger after the offense plodded through a rough couple of games. But after the last two outings, Manning looks as though he’s been running it his entire life.2

The Barclays Center ice has gone through some rough patches this season.

Ben Lovejoy, D, New Jersey Devils: “I think that NHL ice, you expect [it] to not be perfect. A lot of things go on in these buildings. We are professional athletes that are the best at our game. We’re not expecting perfect ice sheets every night. We have to go out and execute on them.”

Ryan Suter, D, Minnesota Wild: “I feel like the puck is bouncing a lot. I don’t know if that’s the ice, if that’s the puck or what it is. Some nights it’s good, some nights it’s bad. Who knows what it is?”

Ian Cole, D, Pittsburgh Penguins: “I think it’s getting harder for them to keep good ice. I think they have less concerts, less stuff like that in places like Edmonton and Calgary. You come to a place like Boston or New York or L.A. or Chicago, and they have a lot of other things going on in the arena, which makes it hard to keep good ice. There’s more people, more events. Singers complaining it’s too cold in the arenas, so they want the heat turned up. I mean, if the singers want it at 60 degrees, it’s tough to keep ice. Everyone is very knowledgeable about it. I think the right people are very aware of the situation, and they’re trying their best to keep good ice. I don’t think they’re purposely trying to make bad ice.

The Celtics, however, are widely known to be eager to trade for either George or the Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler. So the possibility remains that a strong offer from Boston on deadline day spurs the Pacers into trading George sooner than they ever imagined.

But the Indiana star gave little indication, after the Pacers’ first practice coming out of the All-Star break, that he expects a deal this week.

“I have no concerns,” George told local reporters. “I’m here. I practiced today. My head is not wrapped around that. I’ve got a team to turn around in the second half, and that’s what I’m committed to.”

 

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NFL Combine results 2015: Full measurements for running backs

On Thursday, quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs all got measured at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. This year’s running back class is as deep as it’s ever been, but with the value of running backs in today’s NFL all over the place, nobody is quite sure how many of these guys, if any, will get selected in the first round.

With one of the strongest free agent classes this season as well, this should be an interesting draft as far as the running back position is concerned. There are few surprises when it comes to the way the running backs measure out. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Georgia’s Todd Gurley are widely considered the top two backs in the draft, but there is no consensus on the top player between the two.

Gurley comes with injury concerns as he’s rehabbing a torn ACL, while Gordon is a product of a system that routinely delivers top draft prospects from the position — but those prospects often struggle in the NFL. The measurements on Thursday revealed that things are close between the two there, as well. Gordon and Gurley both came in at 6’0, weighed within 7 pounds of each other, and had virtually identical hand size and arm length.

Running back is notable as the one position where height isn’t a huge deal and the smaller guys can compete. You’ll find smaller receivers and smaller cornerbacks, but life in the NFL is easier for a small running back. The height disparity between the shortest (Trey Williams, Dee Hart and B.J. Catalon at 5’7) and the tallest (Dominique Brown and Matt Jones at 6’2) is significant. For the most part, though, the running backs were within the same size range.

Saints QB Drew Brees is one of three skill players who have been tagged twice at any point in their careers.

There is only one possibility: receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. If the Browns don’t re-sign him before free agency, they would have $105 million in cap room to decide if they want to keep him with a franchise tag cost expected to be more than $15 million for one year. It’s not the preferred way to go, but the Browns would at least have the option.

The franchise tag pays a player close to market value for one year, but provides no future guarantees. The tag becomes an advantage if a player remains healthy and valuable enough that the team feels compelled to use it multiple times. The second tag is slotted at 120 percent of the first, and the third at 144 percent of the second.

How rarely do teams use the tag on the same player in consecutive years? It could come in the form of Eddie Lacy, who is headed toward free agency. The Packers are open to re-signing him for the right price, which is in the $2.5 million to $3 million range plus possibly incentives. But there’s always the chance someone will offer him a much bigger contract and lure him away.

It happens more often than you might think: 13 times since 1997, including twice since 2011 (Cleveland Browns place-kicker Phil Dawson and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer).

It is much less common for skill players, however, and Cousins would be the first quarterback ever franchised in consecutive years. There have been only three skill players who have been tagged twice at any point in their careers: quarterbacks Drew Brees (2005, 2012) and Peyton Manning (2004, 2011) and receiver Rob Moore (1995, 1999).

Are some positions more susceptible to the franchise tag than others?

Branch recovered the ball with an assist from defensive end Rob Ninkovich

Whether via the franchise tag or a new deal with the Redskins or another team, Kirk Cousins looks set to cash in this offseason.

If Cousins signs before those others, there’s no way he’ll end up as the highest-paid. If others sign before him, the price tag inches higher. You can make a strong case he shouldn’t be the highest-paid of this group no matter when he signs. But Cousins owns the leverage. The Redskins control whether or not he returns through the franchise tag.

Also, Cousins and his agent, Mike McCartney, are well aware of their leverage. They know if the Redskins don’t make a strong offer, Cousins will either be allowed to hit the open market or receive the franchise tag. The tag number is approximately $24 million.

Any deal must average that amount to entice him to sign. Why? Because Cousins’ side also knows that if he’s tagged by the March 1 deadline, the 2018 tag would be $34.5 million, a figure no team would pay. So he’d be entering unrestricted free agency, where his deal could be a lot higher (assuming he plays well, of course).

On linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s strip-sack in the fourth quarter that turned out to be a game-turning play, Branch recovered the ball with an assist from defensive end Rob Ninkovich.

“Honestly, I didn’t even see the sack happen,” Branch relayed on Sirius XM NFL radio. “I was getting double-teamed, and I saw a hand hit the ball out, and I saw the ball kind of floating in the air. My first initial reaction was to try to catch it. So I reached out, that wasn’t happening, and I didn’t know if it was an incomplete pass or a fumble. With the Patriots’ defense, they tell you it doesn’t matter and ‘fall on the ball and let the refs sort it out.’

Branch thought he might have recovered the fumble regardless — he was throwing some elbows — but felt Ninkovich’s assist made it a lot easier.

New NFL coaches will change the 2015 NFL Draft

The never-ending cycle of front office and coaching staff overhaul continues again this offseason, and seven teams have new head coaches for 2015 — the Jets, Bills, 49ers, Falcons, Raiders, Broncos and Bears. The changes these teams make, schematically and philosophically, will have heavy effects on how they draft and build their rosters for next year.

The draft is a crapshoot no matter what when it comes to predicting picks, but as team needs change based on the new regimes, selections can be surprising as established players are replaced by draft picks and as teams change their style of personnel. Just when you think you’ve got a grasp of where things will go in the first round and a little beyond, these wild card teams come in and screw with everyone, and it creates a kind of butterfly effect. It’s going to be awesome.

Washington has a ton of holes to fill this offseason, but perhaps none is more important than finding a dominant pass rusher, especially with Brian Orakpo set to hit free agency in March. McShay notes that Gregory has “freakish athleticism” for a player his size (6’6, 245 pounds), and would be an excellent guy to pair with Ryan Kerrigan at outside linebacker.

The New York Giants released defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka on Tuesday afternoon, reports NFL.com’s Kimberly Jones. The veteran has spent his entire nine-season career with Big Blue, winning two Super Bowls during that time.

This past season the 31-year-old had a career-low 2.5 sacks and 28 tackles in 11 games before a knee injury ended his campaign in late November. The advanced metrics were not kind to Kiwanuka the past two years. According to Pro Football Focus, he rated as the second-worst 4-3 defensive end in 2013 and the third-worst in 2014.

Kiwanuka was supposed to count $7.45 million against the salary cap next season, the fourth-highest cap charge on the team. The Giants will gain $4.825 million in cap space by cutting him, per Over the Cap.

WHITE SOX HOST ASTROS, ROYALS FOR THE FIRST TIME

The White Sox haven’t played the Royals yet, but will see plenty of them coming up. Including this three-game set, the White Sox travel to Kansas City for a four-game series after the 10-game homestand.

WHITE SOX TRIPLE-A PROSPECT TIM ANDERSON EARNS BATTER OF WEEK HONORS

Staying patient could be hard for the White Sox if Anderson — named the International League batter of the week Monday after he .432 with three home runs and six RBIs in eight games — continues to perform like this.

“He certainly has the ability and the raw talent,” Hahn said. “At the same time, when we drafted this kid out of a junior college only a couple years removed from playing basketball primarily as opposed to baseball, we felt that he was going to be a level-to-level guy and spend if not a full season, close to a full season at each level. If we were to stick with that original plan then he’s slated for Charlotte this year. The good ones have a way of forcing that timeframe up a little bit and Tim’s certainly in our opinion is one of the good ones. So we’ll see what happens.”

Much like most of the Knights’ offense, Anderson got out to a slow start at Charlotte. His OPS currently stands at .672 even after a fantastic week in which he scored 12 runs, had five multi-hit games and homered in three straight games.

Anderson has a .761 career OPS, with 99 extra-base hits and 91 steals in 1,365 professional plate appearances. He spent all of the 2013 season at Single-A Kannapolis and the majority of 2014 at Single-A Winston-Salem. He received a late promotion in 2014 to Double-A Birmingham and stayed there for all of the 2015 season.

While Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — in true Jerry Jones fashion — said earlier this month his team won’t put former Jaylon Smith on injured reserve, it looks clear the former Notre Dame star linebacker won’t play in 2016.

The issue with Smith is waiting for the peroneal nerve in his left knee to “wake up.” Once that happens — and the prevailing sense out of Dallas is that it will — Smith should be ready to return to the field, most likely sometime in 2017.

Ultimately, the Yankees scored four times against White Sox relievers in their final three times at bat.

Zach Duke surrendered a go-ahead, two-run shot to Carlos Beltran in the sixth, the 400th home run of the outfielder’s career putting the Yankees ahead 5-4. Chase Headley’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh off Matt Albers broke a 5-all tie. And Brian McCann added a critical insurance run with a solo homer off Nate Jones in the eighth.