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What we learned from coaches and GMs at the 2019 NFL Combine

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Trading picks? Trading veterans? Everyone wants to make a deal in Indianapolis.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — Last year, the New York Jets traded for the No. 3 pick in the draft to take quarterback Sam Darnold. This year, the Jets seem ready to move down from the third overall selection.

Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan was open about potentially trading the pick.

“Right now, we feel good at No. 3, but I’d definitely say if there’s an opportunity to trade down, we would absolutely look at it,” Maccagnan said.

Sure, there’s no reason he should say otherwise, but a team could be tempted to move up to draft quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray. That even includes the New York Giants. The two New York teams rarely make deals together, but Maccagnan would be willing to take a call from the Giants.

“Yeah, I think I would be open to any team that would (want to trade),” Maccagnan said when asked about trading with the Giants. “As long as the trade made sense to us, there’s nothing that would stop us from doing that.”

As ESPN’s Rich Cimini points out, the two New York teams haven’t made a deal together since 1983. But if the Jets did move down, they’d find value in targeting a pass rusher or offensive lineman, two of the positions Maccagnan touted as being among the best in the draft.

The Jets aren’t the only ones talking trade high in the first round. The Arizona Cardinals seem open to fielding offers for the No. 1 overall pick. That’s despite keeping things a little murky with 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen.

NFL free agent and trade rumors are heating up

Nick Foles is free to go wherever he wants in free agency. The Philadelphia Eagles announced on Wednesday they will not put the franchise tag on Foles this offseason. Now Foles can sign with one of the teams in need of a quarterback like Jacksonville, Miami, or Washington.

“We made this decision as an organization and we feel very comfortable about it,” Howie Roseman, Eagles executive vice president of football operations, said. “Again, (it’s a) hard decision. Nick is someone that means a lot to us professionally and personally. But at the end of the day, as an organization we felt like it was the right thing to do.”

Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was resolute in his stance on veteran wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Gettleman began his 15-minute media session with some prepared thoughts and ended it this way: “We didn’t sign Odell to trade him. That’s all I’ll say about that.”

Gettleman is sticking with his veteran star receiver. Kevin Colbert is not. The Pittsburgh Steelers general manager is opening shopping disgruntled receiver Antonio Brown. And he’s seemingly using the media to help drum up trade value. That includes threatening to not trade Brown if he doesn’t get good compensation.

“People can or cannot believe us, but that’s our stance,” Colbert said. “We need significant compensation for this to happen.”

The NFL is watching the AAF

The Alliance of American Football, the experimental spring football league, is getting eyeballs on its product. Some of those belong to NFL teams. Several coaches and front office executives were asked about the AAF, and what it could mean for the NFL.

No one seemed more enthusiastic about it than Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who said it’s a good place for players to develop after college. He said the Ravens are closely following the league.

“We know all the players already,” Harbaugh said. “Our scouts know all the players in the AAF, they’ll know all the players in the new XFL, and we’ll be all over that stuff, I promise you.”

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim echoed many of the same sentiments, and said his staff will be paying attention to the first-year league.

“To me, again, it’s another great opportunity to watch guys on film and that’s what it’s all about, getting an opportunity,” Keim said. “If a player can succeed there and can do a lot of good things on tape he’ll get an opportunity at our level.”

The Browns want to help Kareem Hunt

New Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens spoke more on Wednesday about people than he did football. Specifically, it was about how the Browns can help rehabilitate running back Kareem Hunt, who was signed to a contract a couple weeks ago.

Hunt was released by the Kansas City Chiefs in November after video surfaced of him kicking and shoving a woman inside a Cleveland hotel. Browns general manager John Dorsey, who drafted Hunt in Kansas City, decided to take the risk on signing the 23-year-old running back.

“Now it’s our job to move forward and support him and get him to a place as an individual and as a person to give him the opportunity, a second chance, per se,” Kitchens said. “The second chance is not now. He’s got a lot of work to do between now and that time the second chance comes. We’ll see how that goes.

“Right now, we’re day to day and just trying to offer him support where he needs to become a better person to get him eventually on the field.”

Derek Carr is the Raiders’ franchise QB. No really, they’re serious

The Oakland Raiders on Thursday doubled down on Derek Carr as their franchise quarterback. On Wednesday, new general manager Mike Mayock said that Carr was a franchise quarterback. Raiders coach Jon Gruden echoed the same sentiment.

“Yes. He’s our franchise quarterback. Let me make that clear,” Gruden said.

Those comments come amid speculation that the Raiders could be in play for Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the fourth overall pick in the draft. And yet, despite the statements about Carr, the Raiders met with Murray in Indianapolis. Gruden said he asked Murray multiple times if he’s committed to playing football.

Gruden’s father, Jim, was on the scouting staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1986 when they drafted Bo Jackson. He spurned the Buccaneers and went to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals. Jim Gruden was fired a year later.

No one seems to care about Kyler Murray’s size

The biggest point of interest at the combine this year was the size of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. Officially, Murray came in at 5’10 1/8 and 207 pounds. Everyone really seemed to be held up by Murray’s height. Well, except for NFL coaches and decision makers.

“Those guys that have played their whole lives at that height know what they’re doing and how to do it,” Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Thursday. “It shows in the way they play. I think that’s how you have to evaluate it. Not everybody agrees with that, but we’ve proven that (Russell) Wilson is a fantastic trendsetter and leader in that regard.

“We’re seeing the young guy coming up this year (Murray) who is a very exciting football player that will challenge everyone’s evaluations.”

Carroll and the Seahawks took Wilson in the third round of the draft in 2012. Carroll said that Wilson was picked because of who he was as a player, and not because he’s under6 feet tall.

“We got over that part of it, or we wouldn’t have drafted him,” Carroll said. “Were we affected by it? Yeah, we were because of tradition.”

Now, with players like Wilson, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns, that tradition is changing. That goes for Gruden too. He said he doesn’t discriminate against a quarterback based on their size, citing the success Wilson and Brees have had.

“I think that’s been proven to not be as much of a factor as maybe it was years ago,” Gruden said. “I don’t know that it’s a true impact on the position or the performance.”

Of all the coaches and personnel people who have spoken at the combine, the only one that offered the slightest hesitation about Murray’s size was John Elway of the Broncos. Even then, Elway said Murray has the “ability to be a great player” and the size is only a problem when the quarterback is playing from under center.

“When you’re shorter and you’re in shotgun, it doesn’t have nearly the effect because you see much better out of shotgun,” Elway said. “So, if you’re in shotgun and starting in shotgun and that’s the only place you’ve ever been, you can see the field much better from shotgun. So, really, the height from shotgun doesn’t matter nearly as much if it does if you’re coming out from underneath center all the time because by the time you get back there the pocket a lot of times is caving on you.”