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Ex-Broncos DE Derek Wolfe, Ravens agree to 1-year deal, source says



‪Former Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe has reached agreement on a one-year deal worth up to $6 million with the Baltimore Ravens, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Wolfe finished his eighth season with the Broncos in 2019 and was one of the longest-tenured players on the team’s defense; only cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and linebacker Von Miller have played on the defense longer.

Coach Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme turned out to be perfect for Wolfe as he had one of his best all-around years in ’19 with 34 tackles and a career-best seven sacks.

Wolfe’s high-motor play has been a key part of the defensive front, and Miller credits Wolfe for many of his sacks “because of what Wolfe does next to me. He’s a beast.”

Wolfe has 33 sacks himself in his career.

That intensity has come at a physical price at times as Wolfe has battled through some injuries throughout his career, including neck surgery. He has played 16 games three times and went to injured reserve this past season after 12 games with a dislocated left elbow.

Wolfe, who turned 30 in February, was a second-round pick by the Broncos in 2012 — the team had traded out of the first round that year — and he immediately started 16 games as a rookie for a team that won the AFC West. He has started every game he played in for the Broncos — 108 in all — and while he hoped to re-sign with the Broncos at season’s end, he added “it’s a business.”

ESPN’s Jeff Legwold contributed to this report.

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49ers believe they have another Emmanuel Sanders in Brandon Aiyuk – San Francisco 49ers Blog



SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Seek out a scouting report on San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and you’re likely to get a lot of similar descriptions.

Aiyuk’s ability to gain yards after the catch is a staple, as are his wingspan and route running. But the biggest common denominator has to do with what he could become.

“I still feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I can do as a football player and at the receiver position,” Aiyuk said. “I just think that for me, the ceiling is limitless. I don’t think there’s a ceiling to my game.”

The 49ers fell in love with Aiyuk during the pre-draft process after a senior season at Arizona State in which he posted 1,192 receiving yards, averaged 31.8 yards per kickoff return and averaged a whopping 10.5 yards per reception after the catch.

That home run ability caused Niners coach Kyle Shanahan to view Aiyuk as one of the two best receivers in the draft, along with Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. In fact, San Francisco liked Aiyuk so much it considered taking him with the No. 13 overall pick. That choice was eventually traded for No. 14 and became defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.

But as Aiyuk continued to slip closer to the Niners’ second first-round pick at No. 31, they decided to get aggressive. They moved up in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings and selected Aiyuk at No. 25, the highest pick they’ve used on a wideout since Michael Crabtree in 2009. The idea is to pair Aiyuk with emerging star wideout Deebo Samuel, who, like Aiyuk, is known for his ability to evade and run through tacklers.

In Aiyuk, Shanahan sees a player who can help fill the void left by Emmanuel Sanders, the veteran wideout acquired in the middle of last season who departed for the New Orleans Saints in free agency. Although Aiyuk specializes in taking short passes and turning them into long gains, Shanahan said he believes Aiyuk can play any of the team’s receiver positions and, like Sanders, has the ability to be a threat at all levels of the field.

“It didn’t matter where you put him and it didn’t matter what the play was, and that’s what we got a little bit with Emmanuel when we traded for him, and that’s what I think we’re getting with Brandon,” Shanahan said.

“This guy wants to be great. I want someone like that. And I think he has the tools to be great. I think he has the mindset to be great, and I promise you schematically we’re going to give him every chance to do that.”

Aiyuk’s journey to the 49ers as a first-round pick was far from traditional. Coming out of McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada, Aiyuk had played all over the field, including running back, but most of his film was of him playing cornerback. In 2016, Aiyuk landed at Sierra College in Rocklin, California, the former home of the 49ers’ training camp.

There, Sierra coach Ben Noonan recognized Aiyuk’s potential as a wide receiver, even though he was mostly recruited as a defensive back. Noonan said it seemed like every time Aiyuk got his hands on the football, whether that was as a returner or on defense, he managed to turn it into a touchdown.

“It’s like the dude always ended up in the end zone,” Noonan said. “It’s just like we have got to get the ball in this guy’s hands a lot.”

It wasn’t until the fourth game of his freshman year that Aiyuk broke into the starting lineup, but by the final game of the season, he had emerged as a star. In that last game, Aiyuk started at wide receiver and cornerback — assigned to cover the opponent’s top receiver. Aiyuk finished with six catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns and, according to Noonan, held his man to one catch for 20 yards.

That performance jump-started an offseason in which Noonan saw Aiyuk devote himself to football. Noonan found Aiyuk in the weight room constantly, improving his squat from 275 pounds coming out of high school to 500 pounds by May 2017. That work ethic carried over to the practice field, where Aiyuk routinely stayed for 30 minutes after every practice working on routes in the Rocklin heat.

“It gets up to a good 110 degrees, and then he’s out there until the daylight is gone with the quarterbacks after a four-hour day,” Noonan said. “And demanding that the quarterbacks stay, you know, whether their arm was falling off or not. And then the other thing that gives you perspective on his personality and work-ethic type of kid he was: He insisted on being on special teams.”

In a game against Santa Rosa College during his sophomore season, Aiyuk showed off his special-teams abilities with a 76-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and four punt returns for 110 yards (with a pair of touchdowns called back for penalties) to go with six catches for 82 yards and two more touchdowns.

“It was the most dominant junior college game I’d ever seen by anybody,” Noonan said.

By that point, Aiyuk began drawing attention from top programs, including Arizona State. Herm Edwards had just taken over as the Sun Devils coach and needed a wideout with some experience. Aiyuk spent his first year in Tempe biding his time behind N’Keal Harry, whom the New England Patriots selected with the 32nd pick of the 2019 NFL draft.

While Aiyuk’s production was limited to 33 catches for 474 yards and three touchdowns as a junior, Edwards saw his NFL potential and physical gifts. Aiyuk has almost 10-inch hands and an 81-inch wingspan, which is almost unheard of for a player who’s 6 feet tall. For the sake of comparison, former Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson had an 82-inch wingspan and was 6-foot-5.

“All those things were, you check the boxes, and then I just think his competitive attitude,” Edwards said. “He loves to compete, you know. I mean, everything is about trying to compete and win. I mean he’s about that. That’s his DNA.”

Replacing Sanders from a production and leadership standpoint is probably too big of an ask for Aiyuk as a rookie, but Edwards believes he can be a difference-maker as a returner or a wideout with a limited route tree. The lack of a full offseason to get acclimated won’t help Aiyuk’s cause, but Edwards has faith.

“He never stops learning, and that’s the one thing that good football players understand,” Edwards said. “No coach in the history of coaches has ever given a player talent. They give them information. He’s an information gatherer. He’s not naive, by any stretch of the imagination.

“You have to be very disciplined and very focused, and he understands those things.”

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Raiders owner Mark Davis seeks ‘solutions’ amid nationwide protests



LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis elaborated with ESPN on Sunday night on his statement regarding the death of George Floyd, saying that he has already had conversations with Nevada attorney general Aaron Ford and Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo.

“I want to get together with players, coaches and community leaders to get the conversation going, to discuss how to go forward,” Davis said. “The solutions start here at the local level, with the attorney general, the sheriff and other community leaders to open up lines of communication. That’s the beginning.

“Like I said in my statement, not only do we have to tell people there’s something wrong, we have to come up with solutions — as Americans and human beings. I’m trying to be positive but truthful.”

Floyd, who was black, died Monday after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Chauvin was fired Tuesday and charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers were also fired but have not been charged.

Davis has not shied away from commenting on social issues in the past. In September 2017, at the height of players’ protesting police brutality by taking a knee during the nation anthem, Davis told ESPN that he would no longer ask his players to not protest while in uniform. “The only thing I can ask them to do is do it with class,” Davis said at the time. “Do it with pride.”

Davis said he would continue to support Raiders players.

“If they have something to say, I’ll stand beside them,” Davis added Sunday. “I won’t stand behind them. I’ll stand beside them. And if there’s something I don’t know, I’m happy to listen to them. We’ve got to find a solution.”

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EA delays first look at Madden NFL 2021 to help ‘drive change’ amid protests



EA Sports is postponing a first look at Madden NFL 2021 planned for Monday in light of the protests in Minneapolis and around the country over the death of George Floyd.

“We stand with our African American / Black community of friends, players, colleagues and partners,” EA Sports said in a statement on social media Sunday. “Our immediate attention is on actions we can take to drive change against the unjust treatment and systemic bias that is plaguing the nation and our world.”

Floyd, a black man, died last week in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.

EA announced last month that Madden NFL 2021 will be released on next-generation video game consoles but gave no more information about the game. Monday’s event was slated to give fans a first look at the latest installment of the iconic franchise.

“We’ll find another time to talk football with you. Because this is bigger than a game, bigger than sports, and needs all of us to stand together and commit to change.”

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said in April that he would be on the cover this year, but EA Sports has not made an announcement.

EA also recently agreed to a deal with the NFL to remain the league’s exclusive publisher of football simulation games through 2026.

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