After a drama-filled 48 hours between the Raiders and disgruntled receiver Antonio Brown, Oakland have decided to move on a day before the season starts.

The team officially announced his release on Saturday, just hours after the star wideout asked to be let go on Instagram.

Brown shared a message that read: "You are gonna p*** a lot of people off when you start doing what's best for you."

In the same post, he added: "And that's fine! I have worked my whole life to prove that the system is blind to see talent like mines [sic]. Now that everyone sees it, they want me to conform to that same system that has failed me all those years.

"I'm not mad at anyone. I'm just asking for the freedom to prove them all wrong." Release me @raiders #NOMore #theyputblindersonahorseforareason #NoMoreFake."

Oakland soon confirmed they had parted company with Brown. The briefest of statements, released on Twitter and their official website, read: "The Raiders have released WR Antonio Brown from the team today."

According to ESPN, the Raiders fined Brown $215,073.53 on Friday for conduct detrimental to the team - following a reported row with GM Mike Mayock - and voided his guaranteed money.

Brown told ESPN that the Raiders took away more than $29million in guaranteed money from his contract, stating there's "no way I play after they took that and made my contract week to week."

He had also been fined nearly $54,000 earlier in the week for missing practice time and a walk-through, also considered to be conduct detrimental to the team.

Brown posted his displeasure with his first fine on Instagram while taking a shot at the Raiders. Shortly after, multiple reports indicated Oakland was considering suspending the wideout.

After 24 hours of speculation and uncertainty about his status with the Raiders, Brown apologised to the team on Friday and head coach Jon Gruden said the plan was for Brown to play in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. 

That plan has changed rather quickly.

Antonio Brown has been released by the Oakland Raiders, the team announced on Saturday.

Antonio Brown has called on the Oakland Raiders to release him as his problems with the team continue to play out in public.

Brown, who was acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in March, has been at the centre of much controversy in recent months, including a holdout due to a dispute with the NFL over helmet regulations.

The wide receiver was consequently fined $53,950 for missing mandatory practices and walk-throughs.

It was reported Brown faced a ban following a confrontation with general manager Mike Mayock, but he issued an apology and was back training with the Raiders on Friday, seemingly putting the myriad issues behind him.

Brown posted a video on his official YouTube page on Friday that appeared to include clips of a conversation with head coach Jon Gruden in which the player says: "I've been trying to be a Raider since day one."

"It's time for me to control my own narrative," he wrote alongside the video. "Show the world I'm not the bad guy."

But this was followed by an Instagram post from Brown on Saturday that suggested his relationship with Oakland had soured once more.

He posted a quote: "You are gonna p*** a lot of people off when you start doing what's best for you."

Brown continued in the caption, challenging the Raiders to release him: "And that's fine! I have worked my whole life to prove that the system is blind to see talent like mine.

"Now that everyone sees it, they want me to conform to that same system that has failed me all those years.

"'I'm not mad at anyone. I'm just asking for the freedom to prove them all wrong'.

"Release me, @raiders. #NOMore #theyputblindersonahorseforareason #NoMoreFake"

ESPN reported the post was in response to the Raiders fining Brown another $215,073.53 for conduct detrimental to the team, voiding the guaranteed $29.125million in his contract.

It is said Brown, who had been set to play the season opener, is not now willing to face the Denver Broncos on Monday.

The Dallas Cowboys are hoping to reach a contract agreement with quarterback Dak Prescott by Sunday.

This has been an offseason of big-money contract negotiations between the Cowboys and some of their young stars.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott ended his preseason holdout earlier this week after signing a six-year, $90million extension. Dallas also signed right tackle La'el Collins to a five-year extension this week, and inked linebacker Jaylon Smith to a five-year, $64.5m deal.

But negotiations with Prescott appeared to hit a snag in August, after reports the two-time NFL Pro Bowler had turned down a $30m per year offer from the team and was seeking a record annual figure of $40m. A subsequent report shot down that sum as false.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he is hoping the two sides can reach a deal by Sunday's opener against the New York Giants.

"I'd say the dialogue has been good, and we're still holding out hope we can figure out how to come up with a deal by the game on Sunday," Jones told Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan on Friday.

Jones also said the Cowboys are having "very limited" negotiations with wide receiver Amari Cooper, "for a range of reasons that will eventually get worked out."

Unlike some other teams that do not conduct negotiations once the NFL season begins, Jones said talks will continue with Prescott if no deal is reached by Sunday.

"We're open for business," Jones said. "I know sometimes the players don't care to do that. But we can obviously juggle that and do that. We would be fine with doing that.

"It's really up to the player and their representatives to determine what their deadlines are and their timelines. It doesn't seem to bother us, and I don't know that we've given those type of deadlines or timelines."

We are just one day into the regular season and there is a lot to recap in the NFL.

From Antonio Brown's continued drama in his first season with the Oakland Raiders, to a few extension updates.

We run through all that is happening around the league in this edition of NFL news and notes.

 

Three things that matter

Brown, Gruden speak out after more drama

Well, the drama in Oakland might not be over yet but at least one saga seems to be done. After 24 hours of uncertainty around Brown's status, head coach Jon Gruden said the plan is for Brown to play in the Raiders' season opener against the Denver Broncos on Monday. Gruden's comments were a change of pace, considering just hours before it had been reported that Oakland planned to suspend the receiver after he got into a verbal altercation with general Mike Mayock. 

"Antonio is back today. We're really excited about that," Gruden told reporters. "We're ready to move on. He's obviously had a lot of time to think about things and we're happy to have him back and Raider nation is excited about that too."

Brown spoke to reporters briefly at Friday's practice, saying, "I'm excited to be out here with my team. I apologised to my team-mates, the organisation. Enough talk. I've decided to be out here with my team-mates, grateful for all the fans. I'm excited to be a part of the Raiders."

Rams running back Gurley won't be limited 

The Los Angeles Rams are not planning to limit Todd Gurley in week one, even though the running back is coming off a knee problem that hampered his performance last season. When asked whether Gurley would be playing a limited number of snaps against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, coach Sean McVay simply said: "Nope."

After missing last term's final two regular-season games because of inflammation and soreness in his left knee that was later reported to be arthritis, Gurley had a special training schedule during camp. He practiced every other day to ease back into a full workload and did not play in any preseason games.

"I'm excited to see Todd Gurley continue to do his thing," McVay said. "He looks good, he's feeling good and we're looking forward to Sunday."

Chiefs, wideout Hill agree to big extension

Tyreek Hill is not planning to leave the Kansas City Chiefs anytime soon. The Chiefs receiver agreed to a contract extension that was reported to be for three years and worth $54million. He was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract that will pay him a little more than $2m this season.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue my playing career here in Kansas City," Hill said in a statement on Friday. "Kansas City is my home, and I appreciate the love and support from [owner] Clark Hunt, Coach [Andy] Reid and Brett Veach along with my coaches and team-mates. To Chiefs Kingdom, you're the best fans in the world."

Hill has dealt with multiple off-the-field incidents overshadowing his playing career with the most recent being a leaked audio recording of him and his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, talking about alleged abuse of their three-year-old son. 

Hill has 223 catches for 3,255 yards with 25 receiving touchdowns throughout his three-year NFL career. He also has rushed 63 times for 477 yards with four touchdowns.

Two things that don't matter

Cowboys, Cooper aren't far in extension negotiations 

After signing Ezekiel Elliott to a new contract to end the running back's holdout, the Dallas Cowboys still have Amari Cooper hoping for an extension. But it looks like it may take some time before the wideout has a new contract.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones provided a brief update on how negotiations have been going when it comes to the 25-year-old receiver.

"There haven't been a lot of negotiations with Amari, period," Jones said. "And I'm not free to be able to share why. I think at some point we'll start that. I don't know what their parameters will be." 

This is not a huge concern because Cooper has not held out and there is plenty of time to get a deal done this season. Cooper said he would rather be with the team "running routes, catching balls from Dak" instead of sitting out. He addressed his contract status earlier this week, saying: "I don't know, to be honest."

Dallas acquired Cooper through a trade with the Raiders in October last season in exchange for a 2019 first-round draft pick, which gives reason to believe the two sides will eventually reach an agreement. 

Nagy concerned about Bears offense 

Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy was clearly frustrated with his offense after his team scored just three points against the Green Bay Packers in their season opener on Thursday, but he was willing to take most of the blame. 

"Obviously unacceptable," Nagy told reporters after the loss. "Starts with me, so this — I just told the guys in there, this is not who we are. I was proud of our defense. I thought they played their a** off tonight. Offensively, not good enough. And we're going to fix it. Our guys know that."

The Bears fell 10-3 and finished with just 254 total yards, averaging just 3.9 yards per play and going three for 15 on third-down conversions. They also were penalised 10 times for a loss of 107 yards.

One glaring concern for the Bears was quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who struggled as he completed 26 of 45 passes for 228 yards with no touchdowns and a red zone interception. Trubisky said after the game he let a lot of his team-mates down and could have been better, but Nagy admitted he did not help the QB enough.

While the Bears' week one play was concerning, it is still early in the season so Nagy and Trubisky have time to figure it out. 

One video you have to see

The Atlanta Falcons put together a video compiling the reactions that offensive and defensive linemen would have if they moved positions and scored a touchdown. Their reactions are pretty priceless.

Friday's tweet of the day

In case you got lost with all the Brown news, here is a recap.

Antonio Brown is set to play for the Oakland Raiders in their Week 1 game against the Denver Broncos, according to head coach Jon Gruden.

The wide receiver was absent from practice on Thursday amid reports he was facing a ban following a confrontation with general manager Mike Mayock the previous day.

Brown had previously expressed his displeasure over being fined $53,950 for missing mandatory practices and walk-throughs while filing two grievances against the NFL in an attempt to get clearance to wear his outdated helmet this season.

However, after issuing an apology prior to the practice session, the 31-year-old was back working with his team-mates on Friday ahead of the season opener against the Broncos on Monday.

"Antonio is back today. We're really excited about that," Gruden told reporters. "We're ready to move on.

"He's obviously had a lot of time to think about things and we're happy to have him back and Raider nation is excited about that too."

Brown appeared briefly to speak to reporters at the workout, saying: "I'm excited to be out here with my team. I apologized to my team-mates, the organisation.

"Enough talk. I've decided to be out here with my team-mates, grateful for all the fans. I'm excited to be a part of the Raiders."

Oakland acquired Brown in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in March, sending picks in the third and fifth rounds of the 2019 draft in the opposite direction.

They immediately signed the seven-time Pro Bowler to a new contract, reportedly for three years and worth a guaranteed $30.125million.

Tyreek Hill has agreed to a contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs, the team announced on Friday.

Terms of the wide receiver's new deal were not disclosed by the Chiefs, though it is reported to be a three-year extension worth $54million.

Hill was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract but had been in negotiations with the franchise in the hope of completion prior to the 2019 season.

Kansas City open the new campaign away to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

A fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, Hill has been a Pro Bowl selection in all three of his seasons in the NFL, registering 223 catches for 3,255 yards and 25 receiving touchdowns.

The 25-year-old has also rushed 63 times for 477 yards with four touchdowns and was a key component in the Chiefs team that won the AFC West last season.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue my playing career here in Kansas City," Hill said in a statement released by the Chiefs.

"Kansas City is my home, and I appreciate the love and support from [CEO] Clark Hunt, coach [Andy] Reid and [general manager] Brett Veach along with my coaches and team-mates. To Chiefs Kingdom, you're the best fans in the world."

Hill was cleared to begin training camp with Kansas City in the offseason after the NFL conducted a "comprehensive investigation" into allegations he had abused his three-year-old son. Based on the evidence available, the league ruled he had not violated their personal conduct policy.

Mitchell Trubisky appeared to pay for his lack of preseason action in a poor opening NFL display but insisted that was not the reason for the Chicago Bears' defeat.

The Bears lost 10-3 to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday in a game dominated by the two defenses, with Trubisky particularly dismal, going 26-of-45 passing for 228 yards with no touchdowns and a red-zone interception.

The Chicago quarterback had not thrown a single pass in the preseason, yet he suggested it should not have been an issue come game day.

"I know you guys [the media] are going to try to draw comparisons like that, but really - I wish I could have said this before - the snaps in the preseason have nothing to do with the way we execute," he told a news conference.

"The sloppiness was tonight. We weren't doing that in practice. We were smooth in practice.

"It just seemed a little scattered tonight with all of our personnel, trying to find a rhythm and trying to find our identity on offense. We just put ourselves in bad situations and shot ourselves in the foot.

"You can maybe contribute it to that [the lack of a preseason], but I think it's kind of a stretch. It was just uncharacteristic to who we usually are as an offense. We need to do our job."

Trubisky did acknowledge he was left feeling as though he had let his team-mates and the Bears fans down, though.

Asked to analyse his performance, he replied: "Not that good, not that good. I definitely left a lot of plays out there.

"Just myself and as an offense, we really couldn't find a rhythm there. We struggled on third down, obviously. That was apparent. We've got to be better on first and second down to stay in manageable situations on third down.

"I felt like I made some good throws here and there, made good decisions for the most part, but I think it was just sloppy by myself and the offense as a whole, just going through all our procedures.

"It was just tough. We couldn't find a rhythm. It's really frustrating, because it's very uncharacteristic of this offense - especially with the way we've been practising.

"But the type of guys we've got in there - obviously our defense, special teams battled all night to keep us in it - we've just got to continue to pull together, look within ourselves and find answers to make sure we're not feeling like this again.

"I definitely feel like I let a lot of my team-mates and the fans down with the way I played. I definitely feel like I could have done better."

Aaron Rodgers took great confidence from the Green Bay Packers' season-opening NFL win against the Chicago Bears after a poor offensive showing.

The first game of the new season failed to live up to expectations but the Packers emerged 10-3 winners as Rodgers threw the only touchdown to Jimmy Graham.

The Green Bay quarterback was relieved to come through with a victory that relied heavily on their defense after a dismal start in which Rodgers went two of five for five yards in the first quarter for negative-12 yards in total.

When asked for his thoughts at that stage, Rodgers said: "It can't get any worse. The first quarter, I think we had three drives, nine plays and negative yardage."

It was the Packers' worst single-quarter display since 1994 but they recovered to score through Graham at the start of the second.

"I hold myself to a higher standard and I didn't play great tonight," Rodgers acknowledged, but he added his delight at Green Bay's defensive performance as he was reminded he had predicted the offense would start slow.

"Foreshadowing, huh? That was fun to watch. It's been a long time since I've seen a performance like that.

"Obviously a lot of credit goes to [defensive coordinator] Mike Pettine and his staff. Those players... incredible effort. We didn't do them a whole lot of favours with our performance on offense.

"But every time we needed a stop, they came up with some really big plays. Great for Adrian [Amos], coming back to the team, to get a pick in the endzone there.

"And a lot of credit to the front. They put a lot of pressure on them. Both the Smiths [Za'Darius and Preston] looked like they were in the mix a bunch. That was just a dominating performance.

"It gives you a lot of confidence when you play like that on offense and win a game by a touchdown."

As well as paying tribute to Pettine, Rodgers highlighted the importance of Matt LaFleur starting with a win in his first game as an NFL head coach.

"You've got to give credit where credit's due," Rodgers said, discussing Pettine. "What Mike, his staff and the defensive guys did tonight was spectacular. So, he was the first one I wanted to go to because we put him in some tough spots.

"And then after that last kneel down, I held onto that ball because I wanted to give it to Matt. It's a big deal winning your first NFL game as a head coach. I'm happy for him - obviously, it's a lot of fun working with him.

"And I told him, 'I'm going to be a lot better moving forward'. But I'm excited about the season, I'm excited about these guys."

Antonio Brown's agent said he had been in touch with Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock trying to heal the wide receiver's relationship with the team.

Brown's saga with the Raiders took another wrong turn on Wednesday when he and Mayock had an altercation, which prompted the team to make plans to suspend him, according to ESPN.

Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told NBC Sports he was trying to work things out with the Raiders.

"I think there's been a lot of speculation," Rosenhaus said.

"The reality is that we're still talking through many scenarios. There has yet to be a suspension. Nothing is final yet. I've been in touch with coach Gruden, Mike Mayock. We're doing our best to work this out. Trying to keep this relationship moving in a good direction again."

Mayock did not elaborate on the situation when he spoke to reporters on Thursday.

"Antonio Brown is not in the building today. He's not going to be practising," Mayock said.

"I don't have any more information. When we do, I'll get it to you. That's it for today."

ESPN also noted that if the Raiders suspend Brown with the intention of voiding the $30.125million of guaranteed money in his contract, they could successfully dump the receiver, ending his time with the team.

As to whether Brown still wants to play for the Raiders, Rosenhaus said he believes so.

"I believe he does. I can't speak for him, but in my conversations with him, he's willing to honour his contract and play for the Raiders," Rosenhaus said.

The agent said if it were up to Brown, he would play on Monday in the season opener against the Denver Broncos.

But can the two sides mend fences before then?

"I'm not optimistic that I can give you an answer to that right now," Rosenhaus said. "If it were up to me, if it were up to Antonio, he would play. But there's a lot of people involved who have to make that decision."

Brown missed the first part of training camp due to frostbite on his feet from not wearing the proper footwear in a cryotherapy machine, and he then held out from practice as he filed two grievances against the NFL in an attempt to wear his outdated helmet.

The 31-year-old receiver recently voiced his displeasure over being fined nearly $54,000 for missing mandatory practices and walk-throughs and the Raiders sent him a letter saying his conduct was becoming "detrimental to the team".

The Green Bay Packers started the NFL season with a win, edging the Chicago Bears 10-3 on Thursday.

The Packers have started the season 1-0, but this was the definition of winning ugly.

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky did all he could to help out the Packers, going 26-of-45 passing for 228 yards with no touchdowns and one awful red-zone interception.

He also took a sack inside his own five-yard line to effectively end the game.

Maybe the preseason isn't totally useless?

Basically no star players played this preseason. Aaron Rodgers did not play a snap, neither did Philip Rivers, Antonio Brown did not sniff the field and Ezekiel Elliott was in Cabo. The story became about how pointless those four games before the season are and how dangerous they can be as well, as guys like Lamar Miller of the Houston Texans saw their season end due to injury in a meaningless game.

But this Bears-Packers game was not a great case study for why the preseason is pointless. Trubisky looked out of rhythm and just plain awful. He threw a total of zero passes this preseason. Rodgers went two of five for five yards and led the Packers to negative-12 yards in the first quarter. He put together a good drive to start the second quarter, but looked out of rhythm as well in a new offense.

In today's NFL, players are not getting reps in the preseason, their practice time is now shorter and offenses are changing all the time. That often results in terrible football to start the season. The preseason needs to be cut from four games to two, but saying it is completely useless is hard to support after watching this game.

 

People forgot Chuck Pagano can produce a good defense

This Bears defense is still a product of former Chicago coordinator Vic Fangio. The players are his, the scheme is more or less his and the spirit of the D is his.

But Chuck Pagano is no slouch in calling defenses. He has taken over the Chicago D and they did not miss a beat in the season opener. Some of that, of course, had to do with a new offense in Green Bay, but the Bears very much look like they did last year, pressuring the quarterback and flying around the football.

 

Holding will be a bigger issue than the new pass interference rule

Fox rules analyst Mike Pereira warned us before the season: the new holding rules will be something to worry about this season. The NFL has put an emphasis on the play now, making sure to penalise them even if they happen behind the play and have little to no effect on the yards gained or lost.

"The number of holding calls in the preseason, so far, is off the charts," Pereira told Omnisport last week.

He continued: "It's not that they're calling penalties and they're not fouls, they are, but they don't really have a great effect on the play. And that's going to be – if you talk about holding penalties – they're averaging about three, three and a half per game traditionally, and now in the preseason we're seeing like eight per game."

The Bears were called for 12 holding penalties all of last season. They were called for four by the early fourth quarter on Thursday. This is going to have a bigger effect on the NFL this season than the new pass interference rules.

The 2019 NFL season is officially upon us, but not all eyes are on Chicago as the Bears-Green Bay Packers opener looms.

The attention has instead been diverted to Oakland, where one of the offseason's most intriguing storylines took an even more dramatic turn.

Three things that matter

Antonio Brown on his way out of Oakland already?

The saga just keeps getting stranger. The Oakland Raiders receiver seemingly resolved his helmet issue, but called his team out on Instagram after he was fined for missing mandatory team activities during the preseason. That did not go over well with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, and ESPN reported that he and Brown "got into it" on Wednesday.

Now, Brown is facing a possible suspension and the Raiders could discipline him with the idea of trying to void the $30.125million of guaranteed money in his contract.

Stay tuned.

Cowboys won't rush Ezekiel Elliott up to speed

The star rusher impressed when he returned to practice, and while Jason Garrett said it was "too early" to tell if Elliott will be on a pitch count in Sunday's opener against the New York Giants, the Cowboys coach did say he will be worked back in slowly.

"You just want to have a plan and you recognise where he's been," Garrett told reporters. "There's no question he's been working out, he's in good shape, his weight's good, all of that. But again he hasn't been practising against pro football players so you just work your way back into it.

"He's an experienced guy. He's played a lot of football for us so we just use our best judgement based on what we see, his feedback, what he says to us, how he feels, all of that. You just take it step by step."

Elliott has averaged 25 touches per game over 40 contests in his career, so we will see if his holdout affects those numbers.

Julio Jones backtracks comments about week one availability

The Atlanta Falcons receiver began his media availability by saying everything is going great concerning contract negotiations, then insisted he "doesn't know" if he will play on Sunday if he does not have a new contract before declaring he does want to be on the field.

Clearly Jones is getting frustrated, but will it affect his performance in Minnesota if he is in fact active? He hinted he is sore from the turf, so that is another factor to consider.

Two things that don't matter

Tyler Higbee gets 4-year extension

The tight end joined quarterback Jared Goff by extending his stay in Los Angeles through the 2023 season. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal reportedly makes Higbee among the top-10 highest-paid tight ends.

He had 24 receptions for 292 yards and two touchdowns in 2018, and he has 60 catches for 672 yards and four scores for his career.

Patriots aren't favourites to win Super Bowl LIV

The Kansas City Chiefs beat out the New England Patriots, as well as the New Orleans Saints, in Las Vegas as the team most likely to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this season.

Interestingly, the overhauled Cleveland Browns received the biggest number of bets overall around the country.

A lot can change over the next five months, but it is certainly an interesting start to the season.

One video you have to see

Football is back, and so are the Bud Light victory fridges. We'll see if Cleveland fans have to wait until week three like last season to get in them.

Thursday's tweet of the day

In true centennial celebration fashion, Hall of Famer Brett Favre faced off against young gun Patrick Mahomes in a no-look throw challenge ahead of the Bears-Packers showdown to kick off the NFL's 100th year.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. revealed his hip injury continues to bother him, but he will play through it against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

While Beckham would not give too many details about his hip issues, he did say the injury has prevented him "from opening up and sprinting".

"This is something I've never had to deal with," Beckham told reporters on Thursday.

"It's like an extremely fast car with like a little alignment or something off. And it's right in the center of what you need. Now, the car can still go, but it's dangerous, you know what I mean? So, it's just something I've been trying to figure out, in and out of rehab every single day. Never really dealt with anything like that."

Beckham did not play in a preseason game and was limited during the offseason, though he participated in full practices last week and has not been listed on the injury report.

He has insisted that he will be ready to play in week one.

"It's getting better," Beckham said.

"It's as good as it's going to be until the season starts. It's something that hopefully that keeps progressing and gets better and not worse.

"But it's just something you have to deal with. We have a game Sunday, so it's time to go ... I'll be running as fast as I can run. If that's not 100 [per cent], I feel confident in myself that wherever I'm at, I'll be ready to play with wherever I'm at."

Beckham has a history of injuries. Over the first five years of his career, he has missed 21 regular-season games, including the final four last season with a torn quad muscle. He missed 12 games in 2017 with a broken ankle that required surgery.

With the first week of the NFL season approaching, certain deals had to get done and several of them actually did.

One we were not sure would be finalised but are not surprised it was got wrapped up in Dallas, another caught us off guard in Los Angeles and in Indianapolis one flew in under the radar.

And as the NFL season starts up, the MLB season winds down, but even as it does the drama is actually increasing.

All of that and more this week in US Sports.

 

1. Ezekiel Elliott locked up, Jared Goff is now a rich man

The Cowboys had to get this deal done. Ezekiel Elliott has led the NFL in rushing in two of his first three seasons, and when Dallas were without Elliott over a six-week span in 2017, the Cowboys went 3-3 and their offense looked abysmal.

So Elliott had to be signed and he became the richest running back in football, inking a six-year extension worth $90million ($50m guaranteed). Again, this had to get done so it was not too surprising that it did.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, the Rams did not have to pay Jared Goff but they decided to do just that, signing him up to a four-year extension worth $134m ($110 m) guaranteed. Goff's guaranteed money surpasses the most ever paid to an NFL player, passing Carson Wentz's $107.9m.

Then in Indy, the Colts signed new starter Jacoby Brissett to a two-year, $30m extension as well. Many may think the Colts will take a step back with the surprising retirement of Andrew Luck, but the team clearly believe Brissett is good enough to get a chance to lead them.

2. MLB races heating up

Absolutely nothing is decided yet in the MLB playoff race. In the American League (AL), the Houston Astros and New York Yankees are 1.5 games apart for the best record in the league and home-field advantage in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians are all separated by one game for two wildcard spots.

In the National League (NL), the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to have the best record locked up but the Atlanta Braves are not too far back as they trail by six games with 22 to play. It is not insurmountable but it will be tough to get there.

In the wildcard race, the Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets are all fighting over two spots and separated by 7.5 games. The Nationals appear to have the top spot at hand as they led the Cubs by three games for the first wildcard spot, but again, anything could happen here.

The NFL may be starting up but the race for the playoffs in MLB is far from settled.

 

3. United States advance to second round of FIBA World Cup

It was not easy, but the United States have made it to the second round of the FIBA World Cup.

USA went 3-0 in pool play and survived a scare against Turkey to take the top seed in Group K in the second round. They are now matched up with 2018-19 NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece and will play their first game of the second round on Saturday.

Khris Middleton is a team-mate of Antetokounmpo's in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks and he wants to see him succeed – just not against USA.

"We've spent hours in practice against each other and it will definitely be fun to get it in a real game," Middleton told Omnisport at USA practices in Las Vegas in August. "That's my team-mate, my brother and wish him the best but hopefully not too good against us."

4. Which NCAA quarterbacks are up? Which ones are down?

Quarterbacks get more attention in football than any other position and for good reason: the game is about the man under center and the NFL has made that abundantly clear with rules designed to make the passing game easier.

So who in the next wave of quarterbacks made headlines this week?

- Jalen Hurts transferred to Oklahoma from Alabama two years after leading the Crimson Tide to a National Championship game. He went 20-of-23 passing for 332 yards and threw three touchdown passes in OU's first win of the season. He also rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns. He looks like an early-season Heisman Trophy favourite.
- Hurts' replacement Tua Tagovailoa – who was the runner-up last season in the Heisman to OU's Kyler Murray – picked up right where he left off last year, going 26 of 31 for 336 yards with four touchdowns in Alabama's first game.
- Clemson sophomore Trevor Lawrence, who would likely be the number one pick if the NFL allowed true sophomores to enter the draft, had an OK first game, going 13 of 23 for 168 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions while also rushing for a touchdown in a win over Georgia Tech.
- USC sophomore J.T. Daniels suffered a season-ending injury and the Trojans are now scrambling to salvage their season.
- Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello left Saturday's win over Northwestern and is questionable for week two.

The quarterbacks are a big story once again this year and they will be throughout the season.

Julio Jones is unsure if he will play in the Atlanta Falcons' Week 1 match against the Minnesota Vikings as his contract talks drag on.

Wide receiver Jones, who is set to earn $9.6million in 2019, has two years left on the five-year deal worth $71m he signed in 2015, but the expectation has long been that he will have fresh terms in place before Atlanta opens the regular season.

The Falcons star – who noted he experienced some soreness in practice – began his media availability on Thursday by saying the negotiations were going great, then placed his potential involvement on Sunday in doubt.

When asked if he would definitely play, Jones said: "I don't know. I mean, like, what I'm trying to do right now is be ready.

"If I'm gonna play, if I'm not gonna play, I'm trying to be out there regardless. Coming back from injury and things like that. But the ultimate thing is just being ready when my number is called."

Falcons owner Arthur Blank assured this week that the team is "very, very close" to finalising a deal with Jones.

"I'd be surprised and disappointed if we didn't get it done this week," said Blank. "I think it's very reasonable to assume it will get done this week."

Jones, 30, had 113 catches for a league-leading 1,677 receiving yards to go with eight touchdowns last season.

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