NFL Nation: Jamal Reynolds

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- In stark contrast to Ray Rice's awkward news conference in May, the Baltimore Ravens running back showed Thursday that he finally understood the weight of his actions from the alleged altercation with his then-fiancée in February.

He delivered the correct message, one the NFL failed to do last week with the two-game suspension, by not only apologizing to his wife, Janay Palmer, but also expressing a desire to become an advocate for domestic-violence causes.

Rice was compelling in his contrition, calling it the biggest mistake of his life. He stood in front of the microphone alone, without his wife standing by his side, and took full responsibility for the incident. Perhaps more importantly, Rice actually said the words "domestic violence," which weren't heard in his statement two months ago.

"My actions were inexcusable," Rice said. "That's something I have to live with the rest of my life."

Before anyone pats Rice on the back, this is what he should have said the first time when he broke his silence in May. Instead, Rice nervously fumbled through notes on his phone and apologized to team officials and his sponsors. That debacle of a news conference came across as damage control to his image.

His 17-minute news conference Thursday hit the right tones. He apologized to all women affected by domestic violence. He accepted the blame for losing the respect of fans. Rice came across as genuinely sorry.

"I let my wife down, I let my daughter down, I let my wife's parents down, I let the whole Baltimore community down," Rice said.

Rice's biggest misstep was not talking about what happened in the elevator. He was asked twice about it and declined to answer both times. His stance against domestic violence would have resonated stronger if he had explained his transgressions.

"I'll be honest: Like I said, I own my actions," Rice said. "I just don't want to keep reliving the incident. It doesn't bring any good to me. I'm just trying to move forward from it. I don't condone it. I take full responsibility for my actions. What happened that night is something that I'm going to pay for the rest of my life."

The only way Rice can move forward from this incident and show he's truly sincere is through his actions. It's not by his words. It's not by a hefty donation, which is merely a gesture. It's by proving this will remain a "one-time incident" and by supporting domestic-violence causes.

Thursday represented a small step forward for Rice. But it was an important one.
The St. Louis Rams commanded a premium from the Washington Redskins for the second pick in the 2012.

Holmgren
Holmgren
I haven't seen anyone, anywhere suggest the Rams offered the pick at a discount. They secured first-round picks in 2012, 2013 and 2014, plus a second-rounder this year.

But to hear Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren tell it, his team was offering at least as much. The problem for Cleveland, Holmgren suggested to Browns season-ticket holders, was the close relationship between the Rams' and Redskins' brass.

Jamison Hensley has the details on the AFC North blog, noting that Rams coach Jeff Fisher and his Redskins counterpart, Mike Shanahan, have a close friendship dating to their days with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1990s.

"I'm not sure anything we offered would have been good enough," Holmgren told Browns fans.

Holmgren was not necessarily complaining. He has benefited from similar connections, including when he helped the Seattle Seahawks acquire Matt Hasselbeck from Green Bay back in 2001.

The Miami Dolphins were offering the 26th overall pick in the 2001 draft to Green Bay. A deal appeared near when Holmgren called his old friends in the Packers' front office. Seattle got the deal done, sending the 10th overall choice and a third-rounder to the Packers for Hasselbeck and the 17th pick.

The trade helped reverse more than a decade of disappointment for Seattle. The Dolphins never did find a long-term quarterback.

Hasselbeck eventually became a Pro Bowl quarterback. The Seahawks entered that draft with no plans to select a guard, but when Steve Hutchinson was available at No. 17, they felt compelled to take him. He also became a Pro Bowl player.

The Packers used the 10th pick for Jamal Reynolds and the third-rounder for Torrance Marshall. Neither player made much impact. The Dolphins used the 26th pick for Jamar Fletcher, who started 12 games for five teams over eight seasons.

Even if Holmgren is right about the Rams-Redskins friendship playing a role, there's nothing to complain about. Relationships factor into personnel decisions regularly. The Browns, with former Philadelphia executive Tom Heckert as general manager, have made trades with the Eagles. The Rams are fortunate if their head coach has been around long enough to develop productive relationships around the league.
The Seahawks moved down 20 spots in the second round and threw in a third-round choice next year to land Chargers backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.

The price was high -- maybe too high.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Whitehurst
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireQuarterback Charlie Whitehurst has yet to attempt a pass in a regular-season game.
But the Seahawks paid substantially more for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck nine years ago, and that decision worked out OK.

If Whitehurst turns into a quality starter, no one will care how much the Seahawks gave up to acquire him. If he flops, every detail of the trade could haunt coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. The stakes are high now, as then.

"I hope it's huge," Mike Holmgren said after acquiring Hasselbeck from the Packers nine years ago. "Matt is 25 years old and if he's the player I think he can be, then you have a big question answered and that allows you to address other things on the football team."

The same can be true for the Seahawks' current leadership if Whitehurst develops into a Pro Bowl passer.

The Hasselbeck trade saw Seattle send the 10th and 72nd choices in the 2001 draft to Green Bay for the 17th choice. The 10th and 72nd choices are worth 1,530 points on the NFL's trade-value chart. The 17th pick is worth 950 points. The difference between those values -- 580 points -- represents the price Seattle paid for Hasselbeck.

The 33rd overall choice is worth 580 points on the chart, meaning the Seahawks gave up the equivalent of the first choice in the second round for Hasselbeck (assuming the current 32-team structure).

Seattle gave up about 270 points for Whitehurst, or the equivalent of the 64th overall choice (the last pick of the second round). The value represents the difference between the 40th and 60th picks, plus the estimated value of a 2011 third-rounder. A third-rounder next year is generally worth about the same as a fourth-rounder this year. The 112th overall choice would fall in the middle of the fourth round, so I used that pick -- worth 70 points -- in the calculation.

Seattle paid more for Hasselbeck than for Whitehurst by about 290 points, the approximate value of the 62nd overall choice (three spots from the bottom of the second round). Imagine what people would be saying if Seattle had given up the 40th choice and a 2011 third-rounder for Whitehurst without getting anything additional in return. That is the rough equivalent of what Seattle paid for Hasselbeck, leading to natural questions about why the team would shell out so much for a quarterback with no meaningful experience.

"No one has really played any football there besides Brett Favre," Holmgren said after the Hasselbeck trade, "but Matt was able to play in the preseason and that is where he really impressed people. Granted, it is preseason, but I think you can get a very good idea of how he will function in a game. I feel I know him a little bit and it always makes you feel a little more comfortable when you know his background."

Footnote: Green Bay used the 10th choice of the 2001 draft for Florida State defensive end Jamal Reynolds and the 72nd choice for Oklahoma linebacker Torrance Marshall. The Seahawks used the 17th overall choice for Michigan guard Steve Hutchinson.video

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