Joe Burrow declared "losing is unacceptable to me" as the Cincinnati Bengals went 0-2 despite another promising showing from the rookie quarterback against the Cleveland Browns.

A week on from making his NFL debut in a losing effort to the Los Angeles Chargers, the number one overall draft pick was unable to prevent the Bengals going down 35-30 at FirstEnergy Stadium on his first outing in a prime-time slot.

Burrow, according to NFL.com, became the first rookie since at least 1950 to throw 60-plus times without recording an interception, while he broke 310 yards for passing.

He also converted eight of 18 third-down attempts, while he was five on five on fourth down and displayed his never-say-die attitude by finding Tyler Boyd for a touchdown pass within the final two minutes with the Bengals looking well out of it.

Still, Burrow said it is back to the drawing board after starting his NFL career with two defeats.

"Losing isn't very fun. This might be the only time in my sporting career that I've lost two games in a row," he said. 

"It doesn't feel very good. I know guys in there are hurting and we're gonna come back to work tomorrow and try and get this thing right. 

"Losing is unacceptable to me, to everybody in there, to coach [Zac] Taylor, to everybody in this organisation. So, we're just gonna have to get it fixed.

"I have great people around me. The offensive line did a hell of a job for me. My guys are making plays for me. That's all you can ask for as a quarterback. We've been in scoring range, and that's been one positive. 

"Again, we're 0-2. That's all that matters. I'll never accept losing. That's just something that is not in my mindset."

Opposite number Baker Mayfield knows all about dealing with hype in the NFL and sees lots of potential in Burrow.

"The hype is real with Joe," the Browns QB said. "Obviously, that team loves him. They follow him and he leads them."

Mayfield was 16-of-23 passing for 219 yards, with one interception, while he found eight different receivers throughout.

"You always want to get the ball in playmakers' hands early, so those guys are in it," Mayfield said. 

"I thought we made the most of our playmakers' abilities. I'm surrounded by talent. I want to get the ball in their hands."

The Cleveland Browns recorded a 35-30 win over the Cincinnati Bengals for their first victory of the NFL season on Thursday.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns on the back of 16 of 23 completed passes at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Nick Chubb rushed for two TDs, while Kareem Hunt had 86 rushing yards on 10 carries and was also found by Mayfield for another score.

Joe Burrow, the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, was 37 of 61 for 316 yards and three TDs, but the Bengals' defense struggled as they fell to their AFC North rivals and slipped to 0-2.

Chubb's rushing TD in the first quarter to complete a 10-play, 75-yard drive gave the Browns a lead they would not relinquish.

Mayfield connected with Odell Beckham Jr. for a 43-yard TD pass in the second quarter, although Burrow and C.J. Uzomah combined to respond for the Bengals.

The Browns took control after Mayfield's six-yard pass to Hunt and Chubb's second rushing TD, although two Randy Bullock field goals kept the Bengals in touch.

Burrow led a 14-play, 83-yard drive for the Bengals with just over six minutes remaining, completing it with a short TD pass to Mike Thomas to reduce the Browns' lead to 28-23.

However, Cincinnati were unable to stop Hunt as the Browns restored their 12-point lead and held on despite Burrow connecting with Tyler Boyd in the final minute.

Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers debut did not go according to plan, while last season's Super Bowl participants the San Francisco 49ers started their 2020 NFL campaign with a loss.

Legendary quarter Brady struggled as the Buccaneers went down 34-23 to the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 on Sunday.

As for the 49ers, they were upstaged by Kyler Murray's Arizona Cardinals 24-20 in San Francisco.

 

BRADY'S BUCS BEATEN

Brady has taken his Super Bowl-winning expertise to Tampa Bay, but the six-time NFL champion endured a tough debut against NFC South champions the Saints.

A high-profile recruit from the New England Patriots following 20 years in Foxborough, Brady threw two interceptions in the team's season opener.

The 43-year-old had a pick-six, finishing 23 of 36 for 239 yards and two touchdowns, while he was sacked three times.

Brady started well, scoring a two-yard touchdown. He led a nine-play, 85-yard drive, completing his two passes for 37 yards before running the ball into the endzone for the first points of the game.

But Brady turned the ball over twice, with the second turnover resulting in a touchdown for the Saints' Janoris Jenkins.

It was a far better outing for fellow veteran quarterback Drew Brees, who passed for 160 yards and two touchdowns, without turning the ball over – throwing TD passes to Alvin Kamara and Emmanuel Sanders in New Orleans.

 

CARDINALS RALLY AMID GAROPPOLO WOES

The Cardinals – led by their star QB Murray – completed a comeback to upstage the highly rated 49ers on the road.

Murray's throw to DeAndre Hopkins set up Kenyan Drake's one-yard score with just over five minutes remaining as the Cardinals topped the 49ers.

The Cardinals overcame a pair of fourth-quarter deficits thanks to Murray, who threw for 230 yards and a touchdown, while running for 91 yards and another score.

It came as 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo struggled as criticism grows.

After a disappointing display in the Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, further questions have been raised after Garoppolo led just one scoring drive in the second half.

Garoppolo finished 19 of 33 for 259 yards and two touchdowns, and he missed two crucial throws, with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan saying: "He's gotta play better. We've all gotta play better. The entire offense missed opportunities."

 

RAMS OPEN NEW STADIUM WITH WIN

In their first game at SoFi Stadium, the Los Angeles Rams topped the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 behind a career-high 79 yards and two touchdowns from Malcolm Brown.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff passed for 275 yards, while Cowboys counterpart Dak Prescott was 25 of 39 for 266 yards and a touchdown.

Number one draft pick Joe Burrow put the Cincinnati Bengals in a position to claim a dramatic last-gasp win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

But after running 23 yards for a touchdown, Burrow watched Randy Bullock miss a 31-yard field goal with seven seconds to play as the Chargers prevailed 16-13.

 

Week 1 scores:

Seattle Seahawks 38-25 Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Ravens 38-6 Cleveland Browns
Buffalo Bills 27-17 New York Jets
Las Vegas Raiders 34-30 Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears 27-23 Detroit Lions
Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20 Indianapolis Colts
Green Bay Packers 43-34 Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots 21-11 Miami Dolphins
Washington Football Team 27-17 Philadelphia Eagles
Arizona Cardinals 24-20 San Francisco 49ers
New Orleans Saints 34-23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Los Angeles Chargers 16-13 Cincinnati Bengals
Los Angeles Rams 20-17 Dallas Cowboys

Cam Newton helped the New England Patriots get off to a winning start and the Chicago Bears staged a remarkable late comeback against Detroit Lions in the NFL on Sunday.

The Pats were comfortable 21-11 winners against the Miami Dolphins in their first game since Tom Brady's departure, with Newton contributing two rushing touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the Bears hit back at Detroit, who had linebacker Jamie Collins ejected for making contact with an official with his helmet in a bizarre incident.


PATS UP AND RUNNING POST-BRADY

The Pats kicked off a new Brady-less era at Gillette Stadium with a routine opening-day victory thanks in no small part to the performance of Newton.

The 2015 MVP scored the 59th and 60th rushing TDs of his career, going 75 yards on 15 carries while also throwing 15 of 19 for 155 yards.

Sony Michel also rushed home from a yard out in the fourth quarter after Jordan Howard had given the Dolphins some temporary hope.


TRUBISKY DRAGS CHICAGO BACK FROM THE DEAD

Chicago scored 21 unanswered points on three touchdown passes from Mitch Trubisky to claim an improbable 27-23 win at Detroit.

The hosts carried a three-score lead into the final quarter yet somehow failed to see out victory

Trubisky picked out wide receiver Anthony Miller for a diving 27-yard touchdown catch with a little under two minutes remaining complete the fightback.

Detroit lost Collins in the second quarter, the linebacker ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct after lowering his head and made contact with an official as he appeared to signal another incident.


RODGERS DISMANTLES MINNESOTA

Aaron Rodgers looked back to his old self, helping himself to a couple of touchdown passes in the second quarter of the Green Bay Packers' 43-34 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

He did not look back from that point on, finishing with four touchdown passes, Davante Adams profiting from two of those, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling also got in on the act.

There was also a scintillating quarterback display from Russell Wilson in the Seattle Seahawks' 38-25 victory against Atlanta Falcons.

Wilson threw for 322 yards and four TDs for the Seahawks, who saw Greg Olsen and Carlos Hyde register debut scores.


JACKSON RESUMES MVP FORM
 
Lamar Jackson was nine-of-10 for 180 yards on throws of 10 yards or more downfield, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Willie Snead, as the Baltimore Ravens beat Cleveland Browns 36-6. 

He completed 20 of 25 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns in total in a formidable performance, helping the Ravens win a season opener by more than 30 points for a third straight season.

It was a tighter contest in the clash between the Carolina Panthers and the Las Vegas Raiders, meanwhile, with the latter clinching a slender 34-30 road win.

Josh Jacobs rushed for three touchdowns, one of those a six-yard scoring run with 4:08 left, to inspire the Raiders to victory in their debut as Las Vegas' NFL team


JACKSONVILLE SHOCK COLTS

The Jaguars got off to a 1-0 start by overcoming divisional rivals Indianapolis Colts 27-20 at EverBank Field.

The Colts, in their first game with veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, were second best against a Jaguars side containing a number of rookies.

Andrew Wingard intercepted with less than five minutes of a tight contest remaining to set up Josh Lambo's second field goal in a surprise result.

Elsewhere, the Washington Football Team - inspired by Peyton Barber - rallied to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-17 from a 17-0 deficit.

Barber ran for two touchdowns in Ron Rivera's debut game, profiting from some poor defensive play from their opponents.


Week 1 scores:

Atlanta Falcons 25-38 Seattle Seahawks
Baltimore Ravens 38-6 Cleveland Browns
Buffalo Bills 27-17 New York Jets
Carolina Panthers 30-34 Las Vegas Raiders
Detroit Lions 23-27 Chicago Bears
Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20 Indianapolis Colts
Minnesota Vikings 34-43 Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots 21-11 Miami Dolphins
Washington Football Team 27-17 Philadelphia Eagles

NFL action is back after the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Houston Texans to kick off the defence of their Super Bowl title.

A further 15 games across Sunday and Monday will see the league's other 30 teams begin their 2020 slate, with some having greater prospects than others.

The Chiefs and Texans were two of the teams who made the postseason in 2019, but there were 20 that did not, including some historic franchises.

With an increased 14 spots up for grabs – up from 12 last season – many of those non-playoff teams will be eyeing a return to the big time and here we have reviewed six of the best candidates to make the jump.

AFC

Indianapolis Colts

Eight-time Pro Bowl selection Philip Rivers provides the Colts with an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and he will now play behind one of the league's best offensive lines, a situation he never had with the Chargers. 

A difficult offseason for the Texans, last year's AFC South winners, is another boost to the hopes of the Colts, who also made a splash on the defensive side of the ball by bringing in DeForest Buckner from the San Francisco 49ers after his appearance in the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers went 8-8 last season even without two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger, who missed most of the campaign after shoulder surgery.

Despite a relatively quiet offseason, the Steelers can contend with Roethlisberger back and a defense that finished fifth in yards allowed (third against the pass) and sixth in points allowed, with T. J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick two of their star performers.

Against the odds…

Cleveland Browns

Yes, it's the Browns, and yes, last season they emphatically failed to deliver on preseason expectations and ended up changing their general manager and head coach having gone 6-10.

But despite those woes and an incredibly competitive division that contains the Baltimore Ravens and the Steelers, analysts may have gone too far the other way in dismissing the Browns as a 2020 threat. 

If Baker Mayfield can recover from a poor year and shine like he did as a rookie behind a revamped offensive line, an offense including Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will thrive, while pass-rusher Myles Garrett -  who has 30.5 sacks in 37 career games - is back from suspension to lead a defense that was a top-10 unit against the pass last season.


NFC

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After winning six Super Bowls and nine AFC Championships in 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady has a new home at the age of 43, instantly making the Bucs a likely playoff team.

Brady has also brought tight end Rob Gronkowski along with him, those two adding to an already explosive Bruce Arians offense that includes pass-catchers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O. J. Howard and Cameron Brate.

With the offense set to shine and the Bucs looking to become the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl on home soil, the defense will need to play its part – but there is optimism there too with league sack leader Shaquil Barrett returning on the franchise tag and a promising young secondary in place.

Dallas Cowboys

Fresh from throwing just shy of 5,000 yards and adding 30 touchdowns last season, Dak Prescott would not have believed his luck when top wideout Amari Cooper signed a new long-term deal and Oklahoma prospect CeeDee Lamb dropped to the Cowboys in the draft.

Michael Gallup is also part of an impressive receiving corps being overseen by highly rated offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. A strong all-round roster and a weak NFC East should help new head coach Mike McCarthy as he looks to make the kind of postseason impact that eluded predecessor Jason Garrett.

Against the odds…

Arizona Cardinals

Adding DeAndre Hopkins, one of the NFL's best wide receivers, from the Texans in a one-sided trade was perhaps the deal of the offseason for an optimistic Cardinals team who should improve on their five wins in 2019 and could even be a surprise playoff team.

Hopkins joins franchise icon Larry Fitzgerald as a receiving option for QB Kyler Murray, of whom big things are expected after a largely positive rookie season from the former number one overall pick (3,722 passing yards and 544 rushing).

If they are to contend, big strides are also needed on the other side of the ball, but fans will be excited to see versatile top draft pick Isaiah Simmons paired with All-Pro pass-rusher Chandler Jones.

NFL Sundays are back with a bang this weekend as Tom Brady and Drew Brees duel in New Orleans.

The two future Hall of Famers are set to face each other twice this year following ex-New England Patriots quarterback Brady's decision to join the Saints' NFC South rivals the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason.

Six-time Super Bowl winner Brady - the league's most decorated quarterback - will be aiming to bring the success he enjoyed in New England to a Bucs team deprived of postseason action in recent years.

Here, using Stats Perform data, we take a look at some of the most intriguing Week 1 matchups.

 

FEATURE GAME

Bucs at Saints - Sunday, 4.25pm (all times Eastern)

- Tampa Bay have gone 12 straight seasons without making the playoffs, the second-longest drought in the NFL (Cleveland Browns, 17 straight). The Buccaneers have not won a playoff game since defeating the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003.

- Brady has joined the Buccaneers after 20 seasons and 285 career games played with the Patriots – the most games with a franchise all-time by a player who subsequently played for another team. Brady has an all-time best .774 career win percentage as a starting QB (minimum 100 starts); the Bucs' .387 all-time win percentage is the worst among current franchises.

- The Saints have won the NFC South three straight years, posting a 13-3 record in each of the last two. They are the fourth NFC team since the merger to have back-to-back seasons of 13-plus wins, joining the 1985-86 Chicago Bears, 1989-90 San Francisco 49ers and 1996-97 Green Bay Packers; no NFL team has ever had three straight 13-win seasons.

OTHER KEY GAMES

Browns at Ravens - Sunday, 1pm

- Since the franchise returned in 1999, the Browns are 1-19-1 in season openers, with the lone win in 2004 versus Baltimore (20-3). Every other team has won at least seven season openers in that span. 

Seahawks at Falcons - Sunday, 1pm

- Ten of the Seattle Seahawks' 11 wins last year – and two of their five losses – came by eight points or fewer. They joined the 1978 Houston Oilers as the only teams in NFL history to win 10 one-score games in a season (defined as seven points when there was no two-point conversion rule, and eight points when there was).

Chargers at Bengals - Sunday, 4.05pm

- Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will be trying to become the first Heisman-winning QB drafted first overall to win his first start in the NFL since Jim Plunkett in 1971.

Cardinals at 49ers - Sunday, 4.25pm

- In their three-game postseason run in the 2019 campaign, the 49ers outrushed their opponents 612 yards to 212 yards, the best playoff differential for any team since Washington in 1982 and the best all-time by a non-champion.

Cowboys at Rams - 8.20pm

- The 2019 Los Angeles Rams finished third in the NFC West with a 9-7 record. Los Angeles were 7-0 when allowing fewer than 17 points last season, but just 2-7 when allowing 17 or more.

ELSEWHERE...

Dolphins at Patriots - 1pm

- When Cam Newton starts for the Patriots on Sunday, it will snap a streak of 471 consecutive games – regular season and playoffs – in which the Pats have started a QB that they drafted. This is the longest such streak in NFL history.

Bears at Lions - 1pm

- Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is set to make his 150th career start on Sunday. His 41,025 career passing yards are already the most by any QB through 150 career starts, with only Aaron Rodgers (40,715) also reaching the 40,000 mark.

Kareem Hunt and the Cleveland Browns have agreed to a two-year, $13.25million contract extension on Tuesday, keeping the running back tied to the franchise through the 2022 season.  

The deal includes $8.5m in guaranteed money, according to ESPN.

Hunt has played eight games for the Browns since they signed him last year, following his release from the Kansas City Chiefs due to a pair of off-field physical altercations.  

The NFL suspended Hunt for the first eight games of 2019 for the incidents. One altercation – in which Hunt shoved and kicked a woman outside a hotel elevator – was captured by security tape and leaked to the public.  

Drafted by the Chiefs in the third round out of Toledo, Hunt was an immediate star in 2017, piling up 1,327 rushing yards, 455 receiving yards and scoring 11 total touchdowns on his way to Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.  

Hunt scored 14 touchdowns in 11 games in 2018 before his off-field violence was made public, landing him on the Commissioner’s Exempt List before he was released.  

The 25-year-old Hunt has repeatedly thanked Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam – as well as the front office and coaching staff – for signing him and giving him a second chance in the NFL.  

After returning from his suspension last season, Hunt rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns in a limited role.  

His new contract, however, indicates the Browns may have a larger role in mind for Hunt, despite the early success of third-year running back Nick Chubb.  

It will be the task of new head coach Kevin Stefanski and his staff to find the best workload and usage for the two running backs, undoubtedly one of the best backfield duos in the league.  

Cleveland are trying to bounce back from a 6-10 campaign last year that failed to live up to lofty preseason expectations. The Browns have not won a division title since 1989 are without a playoff appearance since 2002.  

The Jacksonville Jaguars continue to move on from starters ahead of the 2020 NFL season having traded safety Ronnie Harrison to the Cleveland Browns for a 2021 fifth-round pick.

Having already traded wantaway pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings and cut starting running back Leonard Fournette in recent days, the Jags have now moved on from defensive back Harrison too.

A third-round pick out of Alabama in 2016, Harrison started 22 of the 28 games in which he played for the Jaguars, claiming three interceptions and accumulating 103 tackles.

The Jaguars' roster rebuild may damage their chances of being competitive in 2020, but it could seemingly put them in prime position to take Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Cleveland were seeking a defensive back after rookie safety Grant Delpit – who they drafted in the second round this year – ruptured his Achilles last month.

Grant Delpit will miss the entire 2020 NFL season after rupturing his Achilles tendon, the Cleveland Browns announced on Tuesday.

Rookie safety Delpit sustained the injury during practice on Monday and will undergo surgery to correct the issue.

The second-round pick out of national champions LSU had to deal with a high ankle sprain throughout his final college season but arrived at the Browns' training camp in full health.

He had spent time working with the first-team defense when Karl Joseph, who signed a one-year, $2.5million contract with Cleveland in free agency, was granted rest.

After receiving unanimous first-team All-American honours in 2018, Delpit won the Jim Thorpe Award in a junior year that saw him accumulate 65 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and seven pass breakups for the undefeated Tigers.

The Browns are scheduled to begin their 2020 season at the Baltimore Ravens on September 13.

The NFL is investigating several positive coronavirus tests from clubs serviced by the same laboratory.

With the 2020 season set to get under way on September 10, the NFL was dealt a setback following a number of positive results from Saturday's round of testing.

However, with all of those coming from one lab that serves a number of franchises, the league announced it was looking into the matter as teams initiated precautionary measures.

An NFL statement read: "Saturday's daily COVID testing returned several positives tests from each of the clubs serviced by the same laboratory in New Jersey.

"We are working with our testing partner, BioReference, to investigate these results, while the clubs work to confirm or rule out the positive tests.

"Clubs are taking immediate precautionary measures as outlined in the NFL-NFLPA's health and safety protocols to include contact tracing, isolation of individuals and temporarily adjusting the schedule, where appropriate.

"The other laboratories used for NFL testing have not had similar results."

The Cleveland Browns announced they had been informed of positive results among players, coaches and support staff, though none were displaying symptoms.

Despite concerns over the accuracy of the tests, Cleveland have ordered those who were shown to have contracted COVID-19 to self-isolate.

A Browns spokesperson said: "After consistently receiving encouraging results from daily testing since returning to the facility in July, the Cleveland Browns' COVID-19 testing process conducted yesterday initially indicates multiple individual presumptive positive cases that include players, coaches and support staff.

"Although we have received indication from the NFL that they are investigating irregularities in lab results that have also impacted other clubs, out of an abundance of caution, we will immediately follow our comprehensive infectious disease emergency response plan and pause any activity in our building today and conduct meetings virtually.

"As per plan procedure, the team is also diligently reviewing proximity data for contact tracing and instructed self-isolation for those who tested positive and others as appropriate even though they all remain asymptomatic.

"Our facility is currently undergoing a thorough deep-cleaning and disinfecting process and is closed to all personnel for the day. We will provide updates as testing results are confirmed and more information is available."

The Chicago Bears were informed of nine positive results from Saturday's testing but said on Sunday they had been confirmed as false positives.

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane revealed they were one of "10 or 11" teams dealing with the issue and would consequently be missing players during practice on Sunday.

Odell Beckham Jr. believes the NFL should cancel the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, accusing franchise owners of not seeing players as human. 

The NFL is pressing ahead with plans for a full season despite the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, which has the highest number of cases in the world with over 4.8million. 

Preseason games have been cancelled but the regular season is set to take place with either reduced crowds or zero capacity. 

Players across the league have taken up the option to opt out of the season, with eight members of the New England Patriots' roster electing to do so. 

The NBA recently restarted with all games staged in Orlando, with MLB's shortened season finally getting underway last month. 

MLB is operating without a bubble, however, and has already seen outbreaks of cases within the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals that have led to postponements. 

There are no plans for a bubble environment in the NFL and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Beckham feels financial gain is the main reason why those in charge want the season to go ahead. 

"Obviously with everything that's going on, it doesn't make sense why we're trying to do this," Beckham told The Wall Street Journal.  

"I can understand basketball was already in the playoffs. Five-on-five basketball in an arena is going to be more intense than regular-season games. 

"Hooping is different than playing an 11-on-11 contact sport where there's 80 people in a locker room. 

"We're not ready for football season. So why are we trying to push forward? 

"It's obviously for their money. And that bothers me because there's always been this - and I hate saying it like that - but the owners' [attitude is], 'Oh we own you guys', and just kind of that unfairness going on that they don't see us as human. 

"I just feel like the season shouldn't happen and I'm prepared for it to not happen and I wouldn't mind not having it." 

As the NFL's deadline for teams and franchise-tagged players to agree to long-term contract extensions came to pass, the biggest deal was the deal that didn't happen.

So while the soap opera between Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys gets to air another year after the two sides failed to work out a contract that would have put the talented quarterback among the NFL's highest-paid players, a few other teams were busy locking up vital players amid less fanfare.

Derrick Henry will still be pounding the rock for the Tennessee Titans for the foreseeable future, the Cleveland Browns made Myles Garrett the league's highest-paid defensive player and the Kansas City Chiefs will have defensive lineman Chris Jones on board for what should be an extended window for another Super Bowl run.

When breaking down those aforementioned agreements, it appears all three teams were able to get good value even in what's arguably been the most volatile offseason in league history.

Let's start with Henry. On the surface, the four-year, $50 million contract the Titans gave the 2019 NFL rushing champion looks rather risky considering the often short shelf life of running backs and how a similar pact the Los Angeles Rams constructed with Todd Gurley two summers ago spectacularly backfired.

But Tennessee wisely front-loaded the deal, with most of the $25.5 million in guarantees on the books for the first two seasons, and can cut bait without much penalty after 2021 in the event Henry begins to show a steep decline.

It's not hyperbole to suggest that Ryan Tannehill's breakthrough 2019 season was a direct result of the threat Henry presented to opposing defenses as a runner. By extending their most important player, the Titans have not only given their quarterback his best chance to succeed, they've increased their chances of again contending for an AFC title for at least the next two years.

Of course, the road to an AFC championship still figures to go through Kansas City following the reigning Super Bowl champions' massive recent spending spree that resulted in 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes landing a record 10-year extension worth up to $503 million and Jones agreeing to a four-year, $80 million deal.

The Chiefs will have some tough decisions to make to get under the salary cap once the big money in Mahomes' contract kicks in after this season, but they've rightfully identified Jones, whose 24.5 sacks over the last two seasons trails only Aaron Donald for the most among interior defensive linemen, as a player to keep.

And the 2019 Pro Bowler gets the benefits of some long-term security and the chance to reach free agency at the relatively young age of 30 - not to mention the opportunity to realistically add a few more rings to his collection.

Extending Garrett may not have been an urgent matter for the Browns, as the 2017 number one overall pick still had two seasons remaining on his rookie contract, but the five-year, $125 million extension was a shrewd, forward-thinking move by new general manager Andrew Berry.

Sure, $25 million a year for a non-quarterback is a lot of coin, but Cleveland has the most cap space in the league right now and with the way the pass-rusher market has been trending, that annual salary could be a relative bargain down the road if Garrett continues to produce double-digit sacks towards the latter end of the deal.

After years and years of bumbling leadership hires, the Browns just maybe have finally gotten it right this winter with the additions of two impressive young minds in Berry and new coach Kevin Stefanski.

It's still way too early to gauge the impact the coronavirus will ultimately have on the NFL's economic landscape in the coming years, but the Titans, Chiefs and Browns at least appear to have positioned themselves well for the potential pitfalls that may lie ahead.

Myles Garrett expects his shocking on-field clash with Mason Rudolph to "just be a small bump in the road" as he looks to play up to his reported $125million contract extension.

Garrett, the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, was handed a new five-year deal by the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday that is believed to include £100m in guarantees - the most ever for a defensive player.

Although the pass rusher has been productive in Cleveland, recording 30.5 sacks across his three seasons, his most notable act on an NFL field so far came last November in an ill-tempered rivalry game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Garrett clashed with Rudolph, ripping the Steelers quarterback's helmet off and swinging it at his exposed head, an act that resulted in him being suspended indefinitely, with the NFL eventually lifting his ban after the 2019 season ended.

The bad blood between the two continued to linger, with Garrett claiming he reacted to Rudolph using a racial slur - something the Steelers QB denied and an NFL investigation failed to corroborate, but the Browns defensive end does not believe the moment will define his career.

"My life's much bigger than one moment," he told reporters on a Zoom call.

"Me, the Browns and my team-mates are going to look past that and go on to greater success and that will just be a small bump in the road.

"It was a reaction to a situation. It won't happen again. Now I'm prepared."

Garrett added he had not spoken to Rudolph or Pittsburgh's head coach Mike Tomlin, who staunchly defended his player in the wake of the Browns pass rusher's accusation of racism.

"I don't have any ill intent towards either of them," Garrett stressed.

"I hope Mason Rudolph goes on to have success. I would talk to them. I'm going to keep my eyes moving forward."

The 2020 NFL regular season will begin in September and there will once again be high hopes for a Browns team that has talent on both sides of the ball but has yet to deliver on the field.

For Garrett's part, he wants to live up to the megadeal he has just penned.

"Now I have to assert myself as top dog," he said. "I feel like I'm confident and ready to do that.

"Time to prove it."

The Cleveland Browns signed offensive tackle and first-round draft pick Jedrick Wills Jr. to his four-year fully guaranteed rookie contract.  

Wills' deal is believed to be worth $19.7million and includes a reported $11.889m signing bonus. 

Selected 10th overall in this year's NFL Draft, Wills played right tackle at Alabama and yielded just one sack in 29 starts.

He protected left-handed Tua Tagovailoa's blindside in college but is expected to step in and start at left tackle in the NFL. 

Wills is the third top-10 pick to sign his NFL contract, along with Miami Dolphins quarterback Tagovailoa and Carolina Panthers defensive lineman Derrick Brown, the seventh overall selection.

 

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