49ers

Meet the new highest-paid player in NFL history

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Meet the new highest-paid player in NFL history

From Comcast SportsNet
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Lions have signed wide receiver Calvin Johnson to an eight-year contract worth up to 132 million, the biggest deal in NFL history. The player's agent, Bus Cook, said the contract announced Wednesday is worth 60 million guaranteed. That figure and the total value of the contract are both NFL records. "This kind of deal doesn't come around too often," Cook said. "He's the best." Johnson helped Detroit reach the playoffs last season for the first time in a dozen years. The Lions have built one of the league's most exciting young teams by drafting Johnson in 2007, quarterback Matthew Stafford two years later and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in 2010. The challenge now will be keeping all those stars long term. Johnson, nicknamed Megatron, is a two-time Pro Bowler and his 45 touchdowns receiving are the most in the NFL since 2008. He signed a six-year deal worth up to 64 million after Detroit drafted him No. 2 overall in 2007, and was entering the final year of that contract. This extension starts immediately and runs through the 2019 season. "They were happy to get this thing done with, and I was happy as well," Johnson said. "It wasn't a lot of confrontation. We weren't butting heads or anything. It was just something that we knew needed to get done." The deal tops the one given to receiver Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona last year -- an eight-year deal that could pay him as much as 120 million. "Calvin's one of those guys -- we've said this about a few guys that we have in our building -- whatever they pay him is not enough," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "He's truly a special player." Johnson is coming off a spectacular season in which he did what only Jerry Rice and Randy Moss have done. Rice, Moss and Johnson are the only players in NFL history with at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season. Johnson finished with 96 catches for a league-best 1,681 yards and 16 TDs. Johnson is also one of six receivers in league history with at least 45 TD catches and 5,000 yards receiving in a four-season span, along with Rice, Moss, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison and Lance Alworth. In the playoffs, Johnson caught 12 passes for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns in a loss to New Orleans, becoming the first player with 200 receiving yards in a playoff debut. Johnson said the conclusion of Peyton Manning's tenure in Indianapolis made him appreciate the opportunity to stay with the Lions for a while. "The comfort level you receive, being able to be in one place for a long time, is unlike any other," Johnson said. "Having security, not having to worry about where I'm going to be next year. And then two -- having a good team, having a lot of guys locked up on this team that you've had success with, and that you just continue to grow with." Stafford has three years left on the deal he signed as a rookie, so the Lions appear set with arguably the league's top quarterback-receiver tandem for the foreseeable future. "When you're fortunate to have a good quarterback, those don't come by a lot in the league," Johnson said. "How many teams are looking for a No. 1 quarterback right now? I would have to be beside myself to leave here."

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

AMSTERDAM — Amnesty International gave former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick its Ambassador of Conscience Award on Saturday for his kneeling protest of racial injustice that launched a sports movement and might have cost him his job.

Onetime San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid presented Kaepernick with the award during a ceremony in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

In his acceptance speech, the award-winner described police killings of African Americans and Latinos in the United States as lawful lynchings.

"Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex," Kaepernick said.

Kaepernick first took a knee during the pre-game playing of the American national anthem when he was with the 49ers in 2016 to protest police brutality.

"How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, 'freedom and justice for all,' that is so unjust to so many of the people living there?" he said at Saturday's award ceremony.

Other players joined his protest in the 2016 season, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump, who called for team owners to fire such players.

In response to the player demonstrations, the NFL agreed to commit $90 million over the next seven years to social justice causes in a plan.

Kaepernick wasn't signed for the 2017 season following his release in San Francisco.

Reid, a safety who is now a free agent, continued Kaepernick's protests by kneeling during the anthem last season. Reid has said he will take a different approach in 2018.

Kaepernick paid tribute to his friend for his own role in the protest movement.

"Eric introducing me for this prestigious award brings me great joy," Kaepernick said. "But I am also pained by the fact that his taking a knee, and demonstrating courage to protect the rights of black and brown people in America, has also led to his ostracization from the NFL when he is widely recognized as one of the best competitors in the game and in the prime of his career."

Amnesty hands its award each year to a person or organization, "dedicated to fighting injustice and using their talents to inspire others."

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty called Kaepernick "an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination."

Previous recipients of the award include anti-Apartheid campaigner and South African President Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who campaigned for girls' right to education even after surviving being shot by Taliban militants.

"In truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force," Kaepernick said.

Raiders receiver quest may continue in NFL Draft

Raiders receiver quest may continue in NFL Draft

Go ahead and put receivers Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson into the Raiders starting lineup. Use a pen. Only injury would be cause to reach for the White Out.

New Raiders head coach Jon Gruden loves both guys. He said Cooper will be the passing game’s main attraction. He imported Nelson for his on-field production and locker-room leadership.

The Raiders are looking to upgrade receiver depth, a point made clear in free agency. They went after Ryan Grant, who eventually signed with Indianapolis. They brought Eric Decker in for a visit, though he left without a deal.

The NFL Draft could provide an upgrade. The Raiders could use some help in the slot, and with a sure-handed speed demon to take the top off a defense.

This draft class doesn’t feature a pass catcher worthy of the No. 10 overall pick, with few considered first-round talents. Help can be found down the draft, with early contributors seemingly available in the early and middle rounds. Here are a few options that could help the Raiders passing game:

Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
-- The former Aggie is a strong, target well suited for the slot. He can handle physical play at the line of scrimmage, has good hands and analysts say he’s adept at finding soft spots in zone coverage. He doesn’t have a huge catch radius, and doesn’t have burner speed to thrive on the outside, but he could be effective taking the smaller chunks offered in Gruden’s offense. He’s also a solid return man, and could help on special teams.
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 2-3

James Washington, Oklahoma State
The former Cowboy doesn’t have D.J. Chark’s raw speed, but has plenty of big-play ability the Raiders need offensively. He uses solid positioning, hands and high-point ability to make important catches down the field. Analysts say he has great build-up speed and avoids physicality at the line. He can work inside and out, but could create space inside for Cooper and Nelson to work in favorable matchups. He isn’t built like a typical NFL receiver, but finds ways to make plays.
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 2-3

Dante Pettis, Washington
-- Gruden likes precise route running, a trait Pettis has in spades. He could be a weapon from the slot, and can create separation quickly. Analysts also say he’s good finding open space during scramble drills, and has reliable hands. Physical corners can be bothersome, and he doesn’t have top-end speed. He could be an impactful member of an offense, and could help return punts as well.
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 3-4

Deontay Burnett, USC
-- Burnett is built like a slot receiver, with plenty of experience playing inside. CBS Sports considers him a solid sleeper prospect among slot receivers, and analysts say he’s good making catches in traffic. He’s good in scramble drills, and can take big hits without losing possession. He isn’t great on deep passes and scouts say he doesn’t have room to add significant muscle mass to his relatively thin frame. He could be an asset in Gruden’s scheme, and available later than aforementioned receivers.
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 4-5

Damion Ratley, Texas A&M
-- NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah tweeted about Kirk's teammate on Saturday morning as an intriguing prospect with size, speed and solid route running. He could be available late, a viable option if the Raiders look toward other positions earlier in the draft. He averaged 23.1 yards per catch, with an ability to make plays after the catch. His draft profile suggests he needs help battling physical corners, and may need better focus each play to compete steadily at the NFL. 
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 6-7