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Bengals don’t bungle message to Eric Reid, protestors: No kneeling, or else

Eric Reid’s visit to the Bengals, which broke his freeze-out in NFL free agency, went sideways even faster than most would have expected. Pro Football Talk’s Wednesday morning report on the warp-speed collapse of the interview paints a picture of a signing that was never even close to happening.

It also tells you NFL owners are not going to let go of their hang-up about kneeling players — not now and not in the foreseeable future. It’s Bob McNair going on the record in the Wall Street Journal, and Stephen Ross letting his true feelings show at an awards dinner. Now it’s Mike Brown reportedly telling Reid he “intends to prohibit” kneeling-player protests during the national anthem, seemingly presented as a “gotcha” ploy to provoke a reaction.

Why trust their commitment to the one while they stand their ground against the other?

Meek Mill has the attention and support of an NFL owner. Kaepernick and Reid, actual NFL players rather than NFL intro music, must be wondering when their turns will come.

Vikings vs. Broncos, Week 1 — It’s the first week of the preseason so it’s highly unlikely the best players see the field for long, but this will be the first look the league gets at Kirk Cousins in Minnesota as well as a preview of Case Keenum in Denver. Both teams believe a new QB is the missing link to playoff success and will be heavily intrigued to see how the first dress rehearsal goes.

Bills vs. Browns, Week 2 — This one has everything to do with rookie QBs. While both teams picked up viable starting quarterbacks in AJ McCarron (Buffalo) and Tyrod Taylor (Cleveland), each team is absolutely in the market for a QB of the future and both will see significant time in this Week 2 matchup.

Giants vs. Jets, Week 3 — Again, this one is about the quarterbacks. The Jets are rumored to be in love with Baker Mayfield with the No. 3 pick and they will almost undoubtedly go after another QB if they somehow miss out on him in the draft. The Giants could draft a QB as well, but if they decide to go with a running back like Saquon Barkley or a defensive end like Bradley Chubb, the mere presence of talent like that on the field will be highly entertaining.
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Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis has said some dumb things.

We don’t need to go down the list. But what he said Monday on FS1’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd may have been the dumbest yet.

Once healthy enough, Joe Thornton (knee) sets up as a wild-card asset with rich fantasy potential, as well. Unlikely to suit up for Game 1, the veteran top-liner remains a possibility to make his first appearance since late January at some stage in this series. On defense, Burns projects as a top fantasy defender if the Sharks manage to scrap their way into the conference final. Goalie Martin Jones can also grade out as a top contributor in fantasy pools if San Jose jumps through a few rounds. He brought his club to within a game of winning it all in 2016.

Again, there’s no ruling out the Ducks in what should be a highly competitive first-round battle with their in-state mates. So, fantasy competitors who side with Anaheim over San Jose should certainly give serious consideration to the club’s top trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Rickard Rakell. Getzlaf and Perry sport extra appeal in the been-there, done-that sense as proven playoff veterans. Third-line center Adam Henrique serves as an outside-the-box dark horse with two goals and three assists in his past four games. Defensemen Brandon Montour and Hampus Lindholm project limited value as power-play commodities with Cam Fowler (shoulder) likely shelved through the first round.

That salary makes Brady only the 16th-highest-paid quarterback in football, according to Spotrac. Sixteenth! He’s behind Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees, Derek Carr, Andrew Luck, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan.

Rodgers is the only player who you could argue deserves to be paid more than Brady.

Jeff Howe of The Athletic discussed the subject of Brady’s salary in an article Tuesday. While Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Brady’s contract isn’t an issue at the moment, I find it difficult to believe it will stay that way.

There was at least one curious absence, though, and that player might have needed a better first impression than the rest: Ereck Flowers.

Flowers was not at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Monday, a source confirmed to The Record and NorthJersey.com, which was consistent with video from his Instagram story that showed some equipment on a grass field, but clearly not Quest.la_kings_012