nd. Saints wide receiver Willie Snead, Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and Patriots running back Dion L

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Topics this week include Kirk Cousins upcoming contract negotiations, Anquan Boldins impact in Detroit, the promise of Cody Kessler and more.Cousins has leverage in his cornerOver the past two weeks, on prime-time TV, Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has thrown for a staggering 824 yards and six touchdowns. The only bigger numbers are the ones Cousins is staring straight at making salarywise.If Washington and Cousins cannot reach a long-term deal this offseason -- and theres plenty of incentive for the Redskins quarterback not to do one -- his franchise tag will be worth $23,943,600. If Cousins doesnt reach a long-term agreement with Washington and plays on that tag, the 2018 franchise tag would be for a staggering $34,478,784.Thus if Washington and Cousins cannot reach an agreement on a long-term deal the next two years, and the Redskins use their franchise tag on him both years, it will cost them a combined $58,422,384. Just as significant, Washington would be prohibited from tagging Cousins after the 2018 season, allowing him to hit the market as a true unrestricted free agent, something almost no experienced, established, healthy starting quarterback ever has had the chance to do.But because Cousins stands the chance to make so much on franchise tags, Washington will need to offer him even more in guaranteed money to persuade him to stay. If the two sides can work out a long-term agreement, and there is plenty of incentive for both sides to do it, Cousins guaranteed money will need to be well north of the $58.5 million he stands to make in the next two franchise tags.Cousins already was in rare territory. He joins Drew Brees as the only other quarterback ever allowed to play out a season on a franchise tag. The difference is, the Chargers had Philip Rivers backing up Brees; the Redskins have Nate Sudfeld.Arguments about Cousins value can continue for months. But no one can argue about this: No quarterback in the league has more leverage than Cousins.-- Adam SchefterDont forget about Anquan BoldinIn a week where Larry Fitzgerald is about to settle into third place all-time for pass receptions, lets not forget the remarkable deeds of his good friend and former teammate Anquan Boldin.While Fitzgerald is likely to finish his career where it started in Arizona, Boldins NFL trek finds him with his fourth team, the Detroit Lions.?Those travels dont diminish Boldins own potential Hall of Fame career. He stands 15th on the all-time receiving list (1,037 catches, 13,587 yards, 80 touchdowns).The Lions notably have won all seven of their games in the fourth quarter. One can justify an argument that six of those wins dont happen without Boldin making a clutch catch or two during those critical moments. Its not an accident, says Lions coach Jim Caldwell, who was the playcaller when Boldin caught four touchdown passes during the 2012-13 postseason for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.If you would see his workout, youd be absolutely amazed, Caldwell said.Least surprised about Boldins relevance in his 14th season is Kurt Warner, who bolstered his Hall of Fame credentials during his final five seasons in Arizona, where he enjoyed both Fitzgerald and Boldin as his pass-catchers.?As great as Fitz was and is, when I needed a play, I looked for Anquan, Warner said. That says a lot. We fed off Anquans competitiveness.Warner has nice comparables from his time with the St. Louis Rams, where he had the company of Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Orlando Pace on the offensive side of the football.?I never played with a tougher, more competitive person than Anquan, Warner said.Boldins success can be personal for Warner. Warner has a son, Kade, who just finished his senior football season at Desert Mountain High in Scottsdale, Arizona, as the states all-time receiver with 243 career catches. Despite those numbers and size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds), he is not being highly recruited even though his highlights show someone who has mastered the route tree, has excellent hands and blocks fiercely when called upon, and whose competitiveness jumps off the screen.?Its no coincidence that Kade Warner wears jersey number 81 -- Boldins number for his first 13 seasons until he switched to 80 out of deference to the Lions all-time receiver, Calvin Johnson, who retired at 30 following the 2015 season.Not to stretch the comparison, but the young Warner isnt fast by todays standards. Of course, neither was Boldin, who came out of Florida State as the Cardinals second-round pick running a pedestrian 4.71 in the 40. All Boldin did is set a record that still stands in his rookie season with 101 catches. And if Boldin ran 4.71 as a younger man, most observers believe he may not crack 4.85 if he were timed today. Yet there Boldin is, week in and week out, making big third-down and red zone catches for the Lions.The league always has a place for someone who makes contested catches, said Phil Simms, the former New York Giants quarterback who called the Lions-Vikings game on Thanksgiving for CBS. Boldin did it for the Cardinals when they almost won a Super Bowl. He did it for the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl. He may not be fast, but he is thick, he is strong and he can put more leverage on a defender than most tight ends.Simms then tapped into his own playing bank: When I watch Boldin, it reminds me of when [Bill] Parcells used to ask me why I didnt throw it to [tight end] Mark Bavaro on certain plays. Id say something stupid like, Well, he wasnt open, and Parcells would say, When you throw it, hes open. Of course, he was right. And I think you say the same thing about Boldin wherever hes been.-- Chris MortensenKessler in a class of his ownAs hard as it is to imagine, Cody Kessler now has the highest passer rating of any Browns quarterback since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999 -- and really, its not even close (minimum 100 pass attempts).1. Cody Kessler, 92.6 2. Josh McCown, 85.3 3. Kelly Holcomb, 83.3 4. Brian Hoyer, 77.6 5. Jason Campbell, 76.9Now, there are a lot of factors that go into this. As my colleague Chris Mortensen points out, passer rating is a blurry measure at best. Former Browns quarterbacks Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb helped lead Cleveland to the playoffs and were better quarterbacks than Kessler at this stage of his career. Former Browns quarterback Derek Anderson also won 10 games and went to the Pro Bowl in 2007, despite the fact that his completion percentage was skewed because of the number of downfield throws.But Kesslers play has warranted that the Browns consider him for a quarterback job that will be the subject of much speculation again this offseason. The Browns bypassed the opportunity to draft Carson Wentz, passed on the chance to draft Dak Prescott eight different times and invested in Kessler, who has been steady.But the biggest question Cleveland will have to answer is whether it is enough. Maybe it is, maybe it isnt, but no other quarterback since the Browns returned to Cleveland has had a higher passer rating than Kessler -- which speaks as much to Clevelands history of quarterbacks as it does to its present situation.-- Adam SchefterHow Logan Thomas came to embrace switching to TEThe story of Logan Thomas starts a new chapter, inspired, perhaps, by Terrelle Pryor and Mike Tice, and influenced by Tyrod Taylor.Follow along ...Thomas became more than just a transaction Wednesday, when the Buffalo Bills signed him to their 53-man roster two days after the Detroit Lions scooped him up on the practice squad as a tight end.?The tight end designation by the Bills, as well, signals an acceptance by Thomas to finally abandon his dream of playing quarterback in the NFL. The former Virginia Tech QB was a fourth-round draft choice in 2014 by the Arizona Cardinals, but he didnt stick there. The Giants and Dolphins briefly signed him as a quarterback before also moving on.Thomas has contemplated -- but ultimately resisted -- a switch to tight end for much of his playing career, dating back to high school. Even though he played quarterback at Brookville High in Lynchburg, many recruiting services listed him as the top-rated tight end prospect of the 2009 college class. Thomas has always been a unique athlete: Brookville retired his basketball jersey; he was a renowned track and field performer in multiple events; and he did flash early in high school as a receiver before moving to quarterback.Why tight end? Thomas is 6-foot-6, 248 pounds, he has almost 11-inch hands and runs 4.6 in the 40. He has a great arm, but his accuracy and feel for the quarterback position just havent worked in his brief NFL stops.Several teams mentioned the tight end switch prior to the 2014 NFL draft, but Thomas made it clear he had no interest in playing anything but quarterback, where he had started for three years at Virginia Tech.This is where Pryor enters the story: Pryor was also an elite athlete and quarterback at Ohio State who was drafted by the Raiders (2011-2013) before he bounced around a few teams without securing a roster spot. Finally, he listened hard when Browns coach Hue Jackson pitched the receiver switch. Now Pryor is about to make some big bucks -- a shining star receiver in Clevelands own black hole.An unemployed Thomas had tried out as a quarterback and tight end for teams in the past month before he signed with the Lions on Monday. One team did not feel Thomas had much enthusiasm when he worked out at tight end.?The Lions had a plan that would work on that transition the rest of this season on the practice squad and next offseason (another reason why the offseason restrictions need to be reviewed).The Bills, somewhat decimated by injuries, saw it as a sign Thomas was willing to embrace the switch, and he is now the third tight end on the roster.It wont be an easy road for Thomas.One personnel man said: Hell have to totally buy in like Pryor, but tight end is an even bigger challenge for a former quarterback than switching [to] receiver, or running back, or safety.?When you look at him physically, he is big, strong and has the ability to move, but can he run those routes, get separation, master the assignments that are demanded at tight end, as well as put his hand on the ground and be willing to block somebody? Its not simple.In fact, its difficult to find examples of guys who were quarterbacks in college but without any prior experience at tight end. The Redskins Jordan Reed was recruited to Florida as a quarterback but eventually switched to tight end in college.Oh, Mike Tice? Hes now the offensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders. He was Marylands starting quarterback as a junior and senior (1979-80) but had no real NFL future at the position. Tice was a mountain of a man at 6-foot-7, 235 pounds, who would sometimes execute a toss sweep from under center for the Terrapins and manage to run interference for his halfback. Tice signed as an undrafted free agent tight end prospect with the Seattle Seahawks and enjoyed a 15-year career.As for Tyrod Taylor, the current Bills quarterback, he knows Thomas has decent hands. Thomas was Taylors backup as a redshirt freshman in 2010, but he played receiver occasionally and caught his only touchdown pass from Taylor (2 yards) at Virginia Tech in a 52-21 win over Wake Forest.-- Chris MortensenPlaying in the Golden State comes at a golden priceCalifornia can be costly, as the Carolina Panthers are about to find out on their extended West Coast trip that started last Friday and continues this week, until the team arrives in Seattle for Sundays Week 13 game.The week-plus in California, combined with Carolinas trip to the state back in January and February for Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos, means the Panthers players now will be subject to California income tax for the days they worked in the state this year. California has the highest individual state income tax rate at 13.3 percent.Using that rate with the number of days the Panthers have spent in California means Carolina quarterback Cam Newton will owe California approximately $220,000 in estimated income tax this year, according to certified public accountant Robert Raiola. Newton will be able to take a partial tax credit in North Carolina, but hes not going to get away without first paying a hefty tax bill to California.A second-year Panthers player such as wide receiver Devin Funchess will face a 2016 California tax bill of approximately $5,000.Raiola computed similar figures for the Dolphins after they spent 11 days in California earlier this month, and he found that Miami defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will have to pay an additional $150,000 in California income tax this year.So as much as players enjoy California trips, they pay dearly for them as well.-- Adam SchefterCowboys QB depth: What a difference a year makesWhen the Dallas Cowboys entered the 2016 offseason in March, perhaps their biggest question was whether they would ever secure their quarterback depth chart and avoid the embarrassing 1-11 record they suffered without an injured Tony Romo in 2015.?It was still a topic for conversation when the Cowboys failed to sign or trade for a veteran quarterback, and the fourth-round draft pick of Dak Prescott generated little confidence the problem had been resolved.Now? Of all the teams in position for the playoffs, the Cowboys undoubtedly have the best quarterback depth chart in the NFL, with Prescott as the starter, Romo as the backup and Mark Sanchez as third-string security.Not that Cowboys fans can still be bitter about that 4-12 season in 2015. It secured them the fourth overall pick in the 2016 draft, and with that opportunity came Ezekiel Elliott.-- Chris MortensenEmptying the notebookWest Alabama, a rural Division II school, has become a must-visit for NFL scouts. Last NFL weekend alone, three former West Alabama standouts stood out. Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill became the first player with a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown and kick return touchdown in the same game since Gale Sayers did it against the Vikings on Oct. 17, 1965; Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler forced and recovered a key fumble against the New York Jets; and Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts caught three passes for 31 yards, including a touchdown in the win against the Panthers. Maybe it shouldnt be such a surprise. West Alabama coach Brett Gilliland was a graduate assistant helping with receivers on the 2006 Georgia Tech staff that had Fred Biletnikoff Award winner Calvin Johnson.In the wake of those seven fourth-quarter comeback victories, Lions coach Jim Caldwell was asked if he had any superstitions. He didnt. If superstitions would come true, wed have a lot of teams winning games, he said.Something that didnt start this week but has been happening for a while is that some around the league have been questioning the manner in which the Rams develop offensive linemen, long before Los Angeles deactivated 2014 second overall draft pick Greg Robinson. Benching Robinson only reinforced that notion.When Giants QB Eli Manning apologized to rookie receiver Sterling Shepard for not being targeted once on Sunday against the Browns, it was a reminder of a practice for many quarterbacks, including Eli and his retired brother Peyton, who visited the team this week. That practice? Get your receivers their targets early so theyll run every route the rest of the game as if the ball is coming their way.Success in the NFL oftentimes is knowing your own roster; it has been one of the biggest issues in Cleveland. Saints wide receiver Willie Snead, Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and Patriots running back Dion Lewis all would look good in Cleveland. They actually were there. But at various times, the Browns cut each one of them.-- Adam Schefter and?Chris Mortensen NFL Jerseys Outlet . -- The boos poured down on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at the end of a horrible first half. NFL Jerseys China .R. Smith realized how easily basketball can be taken from him, and he wasnt going to take his place in the NBA for granted anymore. http://www.cheapnfljerseysaustralia.com/ . With their top three point guards and Kobe Bryant all sidelined by injury, the Lakers signed Marshall out of the D-League on Friday before their home game against Minnesota. Wholesale NFL Jerseys Australia . -- Jaye Marie Green shot a 4-under 68 on Thursday to increase her lead to five strokes after the second round of the LPGA Tours qualifying tournament. 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