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Bradford taking the hits for Rams

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Bradford taking the hits for Rams

ST. LOUIS (AP) Sam Bradford has never cared much for numbers and statistics.

So the St. Louis Rams quarterback was surprised to find out he has been sacked in 30 successive games, the longest current streak in the NFL.

``That's great to know, thanks,'' he chuckled.

Bradford, the top overall pick in the 2010 draft, has endured his share of bumps and bruises this season, having been sacked 35 times to tie the Bears' Jay Cutler for fifth highest in the NFL. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers has gone down a league-high 45 times.

On Sunday, Bradford was sacked four times for 32 yards in a 36-22 loss to Minnesota that all but eliminated the Rams from postseason contention.

The last time the Oklahoma product escaped a game unscathed was Nov. 21, 2010, in a 34-17 loss to Atlanta.

The sack string doesn't bother Bradford, although he would obviously like to see it end as soon as possible. The Rams (6-7-1) close the season on the road at Tampa and Seattle.

``When you don't get sacked in a game that means that the protection is good, that the ball came out quick,'' he said. ``It's a team effort to eliminate sacks. And that's something we work for each week. If we can get through these next two games with no sacks; that would be awesome.''

Bradford was trapped by Minnesota lineman Brian Robison on his second pass attempt Sunday. He was also sacked twice in the same series in the second quarter.

Bradford rebounded nicely in the second half, hitting on 21 of 32 passes for 229 yards, one of his best two-quarter performances of the season. He was sacked only once over the final two quarters and finished the game with a career-high 377 yards passing.

Bradford, 25, shoulders much of the blame for the sacks, partly in an effort to deflect criticism from his offensive line.

Although Bradford wasn't aware of his dubious sacks string, several of his offensive linemen were. Tackle Rodger Saffold says the line would like nothing better than to help Bradford record a clean sheet in each of the last two games.

``Overall, I think we've done a pretty job of protecting him,'' Saffold said. ``It would be, like, just one sack here and that would ruin it.''

Bradford was sacked only once in three games this season, all of them coming in the first half. The Rams won two of those games.

``It's always been the goal to hold down the (sacks),'' Saffold said. ``We'll just keep trying and see how it goes.''

Protecting Bradford will be especially important against Tampa, ranked last in the league in pass defense.

The Rams are all but assured of missing the playoffs for the eighth year in a row thanks to the loss to Minnesota. Still, there is a lot to play for over the final two weeks.

For instance, running back Steven Jackson is 91 yards shy of reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth successive season.

``We're still talking about working hard and improving every day, trying to finish things up strong,'' St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said.

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John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

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USA TODAY Sports

John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

The Capitals had two major items on their to-do list this offseason: Sign a coach and re-sign defenseman John Carlson. Now all they need is a coach.

Carlson was on the verge of becoming one of the most sought-after free agents of the summer on July 1. Instead, he has agreed to a major deal to stay in Washington, it has been confirmed to NBC Sports Washington. The deal will be for eight years, $64 million carrying a cap hit of $8 million per year.

The contract also reportedly includes protection for the lockout seasons.

The Caps attached Brooks Orpik and his $5.5 million cap hit along with Philipp Grubauer in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, helping free up a significant amount of cap space to help re-sign the star defenseman.

Carlson, 28, had a career year with 15 goals and 68 points in 2017-18. He followed that up with an incredibly strong postseason performance with five goals and 20 points in 24 games.

The Carlson contract was one of the biggest decisions of the offseason because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the team's remaining free agents. Now general manager Brian MacLellan knows exactly how much he has to spend on free agents like Tom Wilson and Devante Smith-Pelly.

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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

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USA TODAY Sports

Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

Free agency does not start until July 1, but John Carlson's agent is already taking calls from other interested teams.

The interview period began at 12 a.m. on Sunday morning, which means teams are now able to reach out to any potential free agents, but no contracts can be signed until July 1. While Brian MacLellan said Friday that a new deal with Carlson to keep him in Washington was "really close," Carlson's agent, Rick Curran, has made it clear there was no deal in place yet as of Sunday.

So does this mean Carlson now has one foot out the door?

Not necessarily.

At this point in the negotiation, Carlson has a major advantage and that advantage is time. Sunday's interview period is just another way to hold the Caps' feet to the fire. The closer we get to July 1, the more pressure the team is under to get a deal done.

But the Caps still have some leverage too.

“I love it here and all that,” Carlson said during on breakdown day. “I want to stay here, but there's more to it than that.”

By rule, as his current team, the Caps are the only team that can offer Carlson an eight-year deal.

So Carlson may have turned up the heat a few degrees on the Caps, but it's not time for fans to worry just yet.

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