At the NFL Combine: More Fuel for the Kyler-Cardinals Link

On Wednesday, the combine opened with coaches and general managers tap-dancing around questions. But the Cardinals did nothing to extinguish the rumors linking Kyler Murray to the No. 1 overall pick.
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INDIANAPOLIS — In the past, this has all amounted to one muffled tap-dancing performance, a series of coaches and general managers tiptoeing around pending trades and transactions they’re not allowed to talk about anyway, spewing niceties about players whom they intend to trade, or cut, or squeeze out in negotiations.

Wednesday didn’t offer a momentous pivot in the opposite direction, though it seems as if, more so than at any recent combine, there are some high-profile names who got hip-checked by their respective coaches and general managers this afternoon. The protective cocoon isn’t what it used to be.

Need evidence? How about Cardinals general manager Steve Keim hedging on the main stage, telling a collected audience that yes, Josh Rosen is the team’s quarterback right at this moment.

“Is Josh Rosen our quarterback? Yeah, he is right now, for sure,” Keim said.

How secure would you feel if the man who holds your contract in his filing cabinet says that sure, you’re still working here… right now. The brakes on your car absolutely work at this present time. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be accused of manufacturing a story that doesn’t exist. Stripping it of all the context because of the salivating possibility of a 2018 first-round pick getting dealt so that the team with the No. 1 pick can select a supremely athletic, but historically undersized Heisman trophy winner in 2019.

Maybe that’s the case. Or maybe the team’s general manager added a bit of legalese to his response to protect himself down the road.

“You know, again, it’s still early in the process,” Keim said when asked about new coach Kliff Kingsbury’s now-famous fawning comments about Kyler Murray. “We haven’t gone through a full evaluation at all the positions. So really, it’s too early to say.”

Rosen will be waiting.

Along those lines, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was asked about Landon Collins, who recently took his personal belongings out of his locker in a fury over not having gotten a new contract. Gettleman wouldn’t commit to the franchise tag for the three-time Pro Bowl safety and seemed uninterested in bringing Collins back at all if it was going to be a pain for him. Remember, Gettleman, when he was with Carolina, once pulled an offer to Josh Norman under similar circumstances.

“So let’s go to the conversation of eliminating distractions," Gettleman said (h/t to SNY for the transcription). “You tag a guy. He’s mad. And that’s all you guys are going to write about. For six months it’s what it’s going to be. So I have to say to myself, ‘Is it worth it?’”

Here’s what else we heard at the combine Wednesday….

• Eagles general manager Howie Roseman announced that Nick Foles would become an unrestricted free agent. The Eagles will not try to control his destiny with the franchise tag, making Foles a significant target for both the quarterback-needy Jaguars and Washington.

• Gettleman opened his press conference by insisting that “we didn’t sign Odell [Beckham] to trade him,” and while the organization continued to throw its weight behind Eli Manning, Gettleman did not seem as hesitant about bringing in veteran competition or a rookie option. This is going to be an interesting offseason for the Giants, who will try to barrel through the intermediate Collins distraction en route to making some pretty significant decisions at quarterback.

• Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff on possibly using the franchise tag on Grady Jarrett (potentially one of the most expensive free agents in this year’s market): “There are so many ways of getting creative, so, you know whether myself and ultimately [Jarrett’s agents] Todd France and CAA can come to an agreement or not, I’m not going to get into the specifics of it. But of course [the franchise tag] is an option.”

Tomorrow: No workouts yet, but on Thursday the first three groups of players—kickers, special teams, offensive linemen and running backs—will meet the media, and the second three groups, including quarterbacks, wideouts and tight ends, will be undergoing medical evaluations, as well as team interviews.

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