Report: Murray turned down extra $14M from Athletics

Report: Murray turned down extra $14M from Athletics

The Oakland Athletics reportedly offered Kyler Murray, their 2018 first-round draft pick, a whole lot of money to give up his football dreams.

Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday that Oakland offered to add a guaranteed $14 million to his $4.6 million signing bonus to try to persuade the Heisman Trophy winner to play baseball. The A’s also would have added him to their 40-man roster.

Instead, the 21-year-old Murray, who won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma last season, walked away from baseball to enter the 2019 NFL Draft. He could be the first player selected when the draft kicks off on April 25 in Nashville, Tenn.

When the A’s drafted him with the No. 9 overall selection last summer, they told him he could play one more season of college football before reporting to the club.

“Circumstances change,” Missy Murray, Kyler’s mom, told Sports Illustrated.

Murray threw for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns in 14 games for the Sooners.

–Field Level Media

Packers to exercise DT Clark’s option for 2020

Packers to exercise DT Clark's option for 2020

Packers to exercise DT Clark’s option for 2020

The Green Bay Packers intend to exercise their fifth-year option on defensive tackle Kenny Clark for the 2020 season.

General manager Brian Gutekunst confirmed that plan to reporters on Monday, although the team has until a May 3 deadline to make the move official.

The option is expected to be worth around $8 million in 2020. The first four years of Clark’s rookie deal are worth $9.4 million, including a $1.7 million base salary in 2019.

The Packers’ first-round draft pick (27th overall) in 2016, Clark registered 55 tackles and a career-high 6.0 sacks in 13 games in his third NFL season in 2018. He was ranked as the No. 9 interior lineman in the NFL by Pro Football Focus at the time he was placed on injured reserve with an elbow injury in mid-December.

Clark, 23, has 131 tackles, 10.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries in 44 career games (30 starts).

–Field Level Media

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Film Study: Best, worst of Murray and 2019 QB class

Film Study: Best, worst of Murray and 2019 QB class

Film Study: Best, worst of Murray and 2019 QB class

The 2019 quarterback class has a consensus top four, but all four bring wildly different styles, skill sets, strengths, weaknesses — and opinions from evaluators.

Let’s dig into the “wows” and the “red flags” for each, starting with the likely first overall pick.

Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

Wow: Twitchiness as a thrower

His explosiveness as a runner is obvious, but Murray’s athleticism also translates seamlessly to his throwing ability. That sounds natural but is far from a given — just ask Blake Bortles or Paxton Lynch.

His sharp, active feet stay under him for balance but are always ready to move and reset for a new platform. Likewise, his arm is a whip that lashes out from any angle with a snappy release. Together, these tools help him throw extremely quickly from myriad positions with precision.

On the 10-yard touchdown against UCLA, Murray threw with just enough touch to get over the defensive line and the linebacker but also with enough zip to beat the cornerback. The ball placement was perfect. His tape is littered with throws like this.

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Murray’s twitchiness also helps him stay on schedule even when forced to move early. On long touchdowns against Iowa State and Alabama, he had to move immediately after his play-fake but quickly reset from an unnatural platform to flick a flawless deep ball. In both cases, he kept the play on time despite immediate pressure — had he taken any longer, like most QBs would, his receiver would be too far downfield to hit in stride.

More than ever before, NFL schemers excel at creating simple reads and open targets for their quarterbacks. In turn, getting the ball from Point A to Point B with zippy precision — even amid adverse conditions — is a tremendously valuable skill.

Red flag: Inconsistent field vision and pocket movement

Murray’s hair trigger is important, because he is often a beat late to identify open receivers (and sometimes overlooks them entirely). His eyes aren’t as quick as predecessor Baker Mayfield’s, and they pinball at times instead of reading smoothly through a progression. Whether because of his short stature, Murray fails to see open receivers now and then.

Linked to inconsistent vision is a lack of polished pocket movement. Leaning on his athleticism, Murray often defaults to juke-and-escape mode — dropping his eyes at times — upon seeing/feeling pressure, rather than stepping up or sliding. That instinct can pay off with big plays, but it cuts both ways.

Murray will overreact to perceived pressure at times and rush unnecessarily, as seen on a third-and-8 against Baylor and his lost fumble against Texas. On the former, he scanned right past his running back — wide open up the seam against an overmatched linebacker — and an open receiver near the sideline. He scrambled and took a hit short of the sticks.

Against Texas, Murray juked himself into pressure while holding the ball loosely with one hand (a consistent tendency), creating his own fumble despite no rusher threatening until after he moved.

On third-and-11 against Alabama, Murray did a better job stepping up calmly, but his head bounced from left to right to left and back right again. He failed to spot a coverage bust to his left or anticipate a crossing route opening from left to right before he was sacked.

These aren’t all easy plays to make, but they highlight issues that will be exposed more often in the NFL. Murray had mostly terrific protection at Oklahoma, and the offense featured several half-roll concepts that moved the pocket slightly, slowing down opposing rushers.

If placed behind a porous offensive line early in the NFL, Murray will avoid some sacks and create big plays. But it also could exacerbate these issues, encouraging him to abandon reads and escape rather than refining his pocket movement and vision.

–Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

Wow: Mental processing and field vision

A redshirt sophomore and one-year starter, Haskins’ lack of experience belies his advanced mental grasp of the game. Ohio State coordinator (now head coach) Ryan Day put a heavy burden on Haskins, shifting to more of a pro-style scheme with full-field progressions and asking him to set protections and change plays at the line of scrimmage.

Haskins rewarded him handsomely, showing quick eyes and processing, and finding targets late in the progression at a rate rarely seen from college quarterbacks.

These are high-level plays on obvious passing downs that many current NFL quarterbacks don’t make with regularity, but Haskins did so throughout 2018 and even more frequently late in the year.

The throw against Michigan State went to his fourth read, a backside dig, with perfect ball placement despite late pressure on second-and-14.

On third-and-7 against Northwestern, he stepped up smoothly from edge pressure — with both hands on the ball — before hitting his third read, throwing over a dropping D-lineman but with zip to beat the closing linebacker.

His touchdown against Washington was another fourth read. Haskins quickly eliminated covered routes to his right, scanned left — moving his feet with his eyes by sliding and stepping up — and layered a throw to the backside post on third-and-8. (Also notice, he signaled pre-snap to his slot receiver to run a hot route if the Huskies blitzed.)

Haskins also regularly uses subtle pump fakes and shoulder rolls to manipulate coverage, another high-level ability that some QBs never learn.

Recent history tells us the very best quarterbacks — Brady, Manning, Brees — win primarily with their minds. In just 14 career starts, Haskins has clearly shown the ability to do that.

Red flag: Response to pressure and inconsistent accuracy

Let your 16-year-old drive a Lamborghini long enough and he’s eventually going to crash it.

Day’s pro-style offense gave Haskins tremendous freedom, but it also allowed opponents to get more creative with blitzes, knowing they had time to get home as the quarterback went through full-field reads. TCU was the first to really stress Haskins with pressure, but he mostly responded well.

Penn State employed a similar blueprint with greater effectiveness, and Purdue and Michigan State followed suit, making Haskins uncomfortable and forcing misses or rushed decisions.

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Facing repeated pressure in those games, Haskins’ accuracy went missing for stretches, even amid a clean pocket at times. His feet got lazy — a tendency he often overcomes with his arm — and his delivery rushed, leading to ugly misses.

At times, Haskins broke down in the pocket before pressure arrived and dropped his eyes to scramble, like against Penn State.

These issues are common for quarterbacks when pressured repeatedly — and outside of those poor stretches, Haskins’ accuracy was mostly razor sharp — but he will have to adapt to minimize negative stretches.

Whoever drafts Haskins will hope he improves at setting protections and finding answers against blitzes, trusting his mental acuity to win out as he gains experience. He also must sharpen his footwork and maintain it when pressured.

If not, Haskins’ coaches will be forced to protect him more through scheme — in other words, keep the Lamborghini off the highway. Nobody wants that.

–Drew Lock, Missouri

Wow: Arm talent and release

You’ve heard about Lock’s cannon by now, but his flexibility and speedy release are as valuable — if not more so — than his pure arm strength.

He overuses the sidearm slot, but Lock can whip the ball from funky arm angles like few outside of Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford. Combined with a lightning release, he can be deadly.

Most of those throws were on-schedule to the first or second read, but as he showed on third-and-12 against Oklahoma State, Lock can occasionally conjure brilliance from nothing late in the down.

His quick delivery is also a weapon against blitzing defenses. A four-year starter, Lock earned the authority to audible at the line and used quick flicks to beat the rush for third-down conversions or explosive gains.

Notice against Florida how Lock saw the nickel cornerback communicating with the safety, anticipated blitz and signaled for his slot wideout to run a quick hitch. (The wideout nearly ruined the play twice, by false starting — no call — and then bobbling the throw.)

Given Lock’s tools and level of experience, it’s no surprise NFL coaches want to work with him.

Red flag: Inconsistent field vision and skittish pocket movement

However, Lock doesn’t read the field as sharply as you’d expect from a four-year starter.

While he occasionally works deep into a progression, his offenses were built on either-or reads from 2015-17. Missouri’s attack expanded in 2018, but Lock produced shaky results, and he never fully mastered some simple designs.

Even when presented open receivers on basic reads, Lock failed to pull the trigger at times.

On third-and-6 against Arkansas (in 2017), Missouri’s post/wheel concept worked exactly as intended, springing the tight end — the primary read — wide open. Lock stared at it but didn’t throw, instead scrambling into pressure (and committing intentional grounding).

On third-and-4 against Alabama, Missouri ran a mesh concept with a wideout screening for the running back on intersecting crossers. The back came wide open, but Lock stared at the wideout (covered by three Tide defenders) and never saw the back.

Tied to Lock’s inconsistent vision — and perhaps more worrisome — is an extreme lack of pocket toughness.

That’s not to say Lock won’t take big hits; he makes some great throws on tape while getting clobbered. But he shows an extreme aversion to pressure, which short-circuits his reads and promotes dangerously undisciplined pocket movement.

Lock drifts and fades with alarming frequency, relying on back-foot throws, even when pressure is not close. He rarely showed the inclination to step up or slide within the pocket. That won’t fly in the NFL, where quarterbacks must step up to prevent easy angles for pass rushers.

By drifting deeper, Lock repeatedly gave edge rushers a shorter corner to turn, hanging his offensive line out to dry. Against Oklahoma State, he broke a free blitzer’s attempted sack, but he should have stepped into a clean pocket much earlier, giving that rusher a more difficult path.

Lock did make progress as a senior, his first year in a remotely pro-style offense, but he has a long way to go. Given how difficult it is to teach and improve field reading and pocket toughness, he carries major risk.

–Daniel Jones, Duke

Wow: Pocket movement and toughness

A complete 180 from Lock, Jones has pocket toughness in spades.

Yes, Jones has clearly learned from QB guru David Cutcliffe to navigate the pocket with proper mechanics (active feet, two hands on the ball, eyes downfield, etc.). At the same time, he also has something you can’t teach — a willingness to sacrifice his body to maximize every play.

With a weak supporting cast at Duke, Jones faced tons of pressure: unblocked, off the edge, through the middle, and sometimes all of the above. He was willing to not only take hits, but also to move into more exposed positions seeking the best throwing platform.

The deep throw against Virginia Tech came less than three minutes into his first game back from a broken collarbone. Jones shuffled slightly left from one rusher and stepped into another, getting slammed by both, but his receiver failed to secure a gorgeous deep ball.

On third-and-13 against Miami, Jones saw the slot blitzer come free but didn’t let it affect his mechanics. He stepped up quickly and fired a dart for a first down.

On third-and-8 against Temple, he again stepped into a hit to get enough juice on a sideline throw for a conversion.

Red flag: Decision making

The play against Temple, however, also hints at a concern about Jones: He writes too many checks his arm can’t cash.

Jones’ arm strength isn’t poor, but it’s closer to average than good, and his delivery can border on being too methodical. He flashes a slight windup and rarely makes the quick-flick, multi-platform deliveries these other three quarterbacks do regularly.

That’s OK — some NFL starters have merely decent arm talent — but Jones too often plays with the recklessness of a stronger-armed passer. The throw against Temple wasn’t far from being intercepted, and his tape shows too many ghastly gambles.

As a Duke product working under Cutcliffe with connections to the Manning brothers, Jones often gets labeled as a cerebral signal-caller who dices defenses up mentally. But decisions like these show he has a long way to go.

While he works deep into progressions and makes sound pre-snap decisions at times, it’s difficult to excuse late-down-the-middle throws like the one against Virginia Tech (which three different defenders could have intercepted).

The dropped pick near the sideline vs. the Hokies is even more concerning. On a very simple two-man route concept, the out route opened immediately, but Jones stared and waited. His receiver reached the numbers before he began his throwing motion, late enough for the cornerback to close 5-plus yards of separation. (The throw was also too far inside).

Unless he strengthens his arm or quickens his release, Jones must play more conservatively to survive in the NFL. Compensating for less-than-ideal tools requires maximizing mental precision and minimizing poor decisions.

–David DeChant, Field Level Media

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Report: 49ers shopping former first-round pick Thomas

Report: 49ers shopping former first-round pick Thomas

Report: 49ers shopping former first-round pick Thomas

The San Francisco 49ers are shopping former No. 3 overall pick Solomon Thomas, Pro Football Talk reported Thursday prior to the start of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The 49ers selected Thomas in the 2017 draft, after trading back one pick with the Chicago Bears.

The 23-year-old has underwhelmed through two seasons, totaling 72 tackles (13 for loss), four sacks and 17 quarterback hits in 30 games (25 starts). He had just one sack, six QB hits and three tackles for loss in 16 games last season.

Thomas has been used at defensive end and, at times, inside at defensive tackle in passing situations. The 49ers widely have been connected to defensive end Joey Bosa with the No. 2 overall pick, and they traded for defensive end Dee Ford in March.

Any team to acquire Thomas would owe him about $7.4 million over the final two years of his rookie contract. The 49ers paid $18.6 million of Thomas’ $28.2 million rookie contract as a signing bonus in 2017.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Steelers eye Roethlisberger extension before draft

Report: Steelers eye Roethlisberger extension before draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers are working to finalize

Report: Steelers eye Roethlisberger extension before draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers are working to finalize a contract extension with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before the 2019 NFL Draft begins Thursday, ESPN reported Tuesday.

According to the report, the sides have been in discussions since the regular season ended and are making progress.

Roethlisberger, 37, is due $12 million in base salary in 2019, the final year of his four-year, $87.4 million deal. He was already paid a $5 million roster bonus in March and is set to count $23.2 million against the cap.

Russell Wilson became the highest-paid player in NFL history last week, signing a four-year, $140 million extension, but Wilson is only 30. The most recent top quarterback in Roethlisberger’s age bracket to sign a new deal, Drew Brees, signed a two-year, $50 million contract in March of 2018 at age 39.

At the start of the 2017 season, Roethlisberger said he believed he could play another three to five seasons.

In his 15th year as Pittsburgh’s starter, Roethlisberger posted his best statistical season in 2018, leading the league and setting career highs in completions (452), attempts (675) and passing yards (5,129) and tossing a career-high 34 touchdown passes. The Steelers missed the playoffs, however, at 9-6-1.

The Steelers’ first-round pick (11th overall) in 2004, Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl champion and six-time Pro Bowl selection. He ranks sixth in NFL history in passing yards (56,194) and seventh in touchdown passes (363).

–Field Level Media

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D.A. declines charges against Chiefs WR Hill

D.A. declines charges against Chiefs WR Hill

D.A. declines charges against Chiefs WR Hill

The Johnson County (Kan.) district attorney’s office announced Wednesday it will not file charges against Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill or his fiancee following an investigation into two March incidents at the couple’s home involving the couple’s 3-year-old son.

“We believe a crime has occurred,” District Attorney Stephen Howe said. “However, the evidence in this case does not conclusively establish who committed this crime.

“It bothers us when we see something that’s happened to a child like this and we can’t do anything about it,” he later added.

Howe said the criminal investigation has been closed, although the child protection investigation is continuing. Any new information to emerge could reopen the criminal investigation, with a five-year statute of limitations in Kansas.

“We feel we’re at an impasse at this point, and any further investigation would be unnecessary or unwarranted,” Howe said.

Authorities had been investigating incidents — one on March 5 for child abuse and neglect, and one on March 14 for battery — at Hill’s home in Overland Park, Kan. Both police reports indicated a juvenile was involved.

Hill, 25, and his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, were listed on the March 5 police report as “others involved.” On the March 14 report, Espinal was listed as “others involved,” with a juvenile listed as the victim.

The Kansas City Star reported previously that the couple’s son suffered a broken arm in the incident. The Star also reported earlier this week that the boy was recently removed from his parents’ custody, as part of a family court process called a “child in need of care” case.

Howe declined to provide details in response to several questions Wednesday, citing the involvement of a juvenile as a need for privacy, though he did say “the child is safe.” He said he has not been in touch with the Chiefs but has been contacted by the NFL, though he has not responded because of the same privacy concerns, and the case will likely be sealed because it involves a child.

Despite not being charged with a crime, Hill could be subject to discipline from the NFL, and the league could consider his domestic violence history.

Hill reportedly choked and punched Espinal, then his girlfriend, when she was pregnant in December 2014. Hill was arrested and dismissed from the Oklahoma State football team. He later pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation and received three years’ probation.

Hill is a three-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time first-team All-Pro through three seasons with the Chiefs.

–Field Level Media

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Blind fan to read Ravens pick off Braille card

Blind fan to read Ravens pick off Braille card

Blind fan to read Ravens pick off Braille card

The Baltimore Ravens will have a blind 13-year-old fan announce a fourth-round pick during this week’s draft by reading off of a card written in Braille.

Mo Gaba, who is battling cancer and lost his vision at nine months old, will become the first person ever to announce an NFL draft pick off a Braille card.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh called into a Baltimore radio show that had Gaba on as a guest to deliver the good news. The team posted a video of the interaction on Twitter.

“Really?” Gaba responded when offered the opportunity by Harbaugh. “I’ve never done that before. I’d like to do that. Yeah.”

The Ravens currently hold two fourth-round picks, Nos. 113 and 123. Gaba is scheduled to announce No. 123.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Chiefs WR Hill won’t be charged

NFL notebook: Chiefs WR Hill won't be charged

NFL notebook: Chiefs WR Hill won’t be charged

The Johnson County (Kan.) district attorney’s office announced Wednesday it will not file charges against Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill or his fiancee following an investigation into two March incidents at the couple’s home involving their 3-year-old son.

“We believe a crime has occurred,” District Attorney Stephen Howe said. “However, the evidence in this case does not conclusively establish who committed this crime.”

Howe added the criminal investigation has been closed, although the child protection investigation is continuing. Any new information to emerge could reopen the criminal investigation, with a five-year statute of limitations in Kansas.

Authorities had been investigating incidents — one on March 5 for child abuse and neglect, and one on March 14 for battery — at Hill’s home in Overland Park, Kan. Both police reports indicated a juvenile was involved.

–The Pittsburgh Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger agreed to a two-year contract extension.

“I know Ben’s focus is on only one goal — to bring another Lombardi trophy back to Pittsburgh,” team president Art Rooney II said in a statement. “We are excited to finalize this new contract that will keep him as a Steeler through the 2021 season.”

ESPN reports the deal is worth $80 million in total over three years, with a $37.5 million signing bonus and $67.5 million guaranteed. The 37-year-old was previously due $12 million base salary for 2019, and he got a $5 million roster bonus last month.

–Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch plans to retire for a second time, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Lynch, who turned 33 on Monday, played the past two seasons for his hometown Raiders after sitting out the 2016 season. He rushed for 376 yards on 90 carries in six games in 2018 before sustaining a season-ending groin/core muscle injury in Week 6.

Lynch has rushed for 10,379 yards on 2,441 carries (4.3-yard average) and 84 touchdowns for the Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills in his career.

–Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said he is open to remaining with the team he signed with as an undrafted rookie in 2011, a day after taking a pay-me-or-trade-me stance.

“I want to be here, so we can salvage it,” Harris told 9News Denver. In a separate interview with The Athletic, he added, “I’m still open to coming back. I’m never closing that door until they close it.”

Multiple reports emerged late Tuesday night that Harris’ agent told the Broncos his client would like a new contract or to be traded. According to 9News Denver, Harris is seeking an annual salary of at least $15 million, which would equal the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback, Josh Norman.

–The Baltimore Ravens met with former Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah.

Ansah, who turns 30 next month, is recovering from shoulder surgery after missing nine games last season, which has slowed his free agent market.

NFL Network reported that Ansah visited expert Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Monday and drew positive reviews, with the expectation he’ll be cleared by mid-August.

–The Ravens signed Justin Tucker to a four-year extension that makes him the highest-paid kicker in NFL history.

The contract keeps Tucker in Baltimore through the 2023 season and is worth $23.05 million, with $12.5 million guaranteed in the first two years and an $8 million signing bonus, ESPN reported.

–The NFL warned Jacksonville Jaguars football czar Tom Coughlin that future comments disapproving of players who don’t attend voluntary offseason workouts could result in league discipline, ESPN reported.

The NFL Players Association had asked the league to remind the Jaguars that players should not be pressured to attend the workouts, ESPN said.

–Kelly Stafford checked herself back into the hospital because of pain following brain surgery.

The wife of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford posted on Instagram that she needed medical help to cope with headaches and other side effects. She had a 12-hour operation last week to remove a brain tumor and returned home Sunday.

–Veteran defensive end Brian Robison announced his retirement after signing a one-day contract with the Minnesota Vikings.

Robison, who turns 36 on Saturday and did not play in 2018, played in 173 games in 11 seasons with the Vikings from 2007-17, totaling 60 sacks.

–The Washington Redskins re-signed offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom.

Bergstrom, 32, played in 13 games (eight starts) at center and guard last season.

–The Ravens will have a blind 13-year-old fan announce a fourth-round pick during this week’s draft by reading off of a card written in Braille.

Mo Gaba, who is battling cancer and lost his vision at nine months old, will become the first person ever to announce an NFL draft pick off a Braille card.

–Field Level Media

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Woods will play in PGA Tour’s first Japanese event

Woods will play in PGA Tour's first Japanese event

When the

Woods will play in PGA Tour’s first Japanese event

When the PGA Tour plays an official event in Japan for the first time, its biggest name will be in the field.

Tiger Woods confirmed Wednesday that he will compete in the Zozo Championship from Oct. 24-27 at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo.

“I’m excited to play in the inaugural Zozo Championship in October and return to Japan, one of my favorite countries,” Woods said in a statement. “The fans in Japan really enjoy, appreciate and understand golf, and I’m looking forward to competing there.”

Woods, 43, last played in Japan in 2006, when he finished second to Padraig Harrington in a playoff at the Dunlop Phoenix event. He hasn’t played in any of the fall events since the PGA Tour went to a “wrap-around” schedule in 2013-14.

The Zozo Championship will feature 78 players competing for $9.75 million in prize money. The event will join the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in South Korea and the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China, to give the PGA Tour three official Asian tournaments in the fall.

According to ESPN, Woods also will play an exhibition match in Asia, part of a content agreement he entered into with GolfTV in 2018.

Already the game’s biggest draw, Woods added to his legend when he won the Masters this month for his 15th career major championship and first since the 2008 U.S. Open.

Woods has not yet announced the location of his next event, but multiple media outlets reported that he is likely to play in the Wells Fargo Championship, May 2-5 in Charlotte, N.C.

–Field Level Media

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Bucs pick up option on CB Hargreaves III

Bucs pick up option on CB Hargreaves III

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers exercised their fifth-year option on

Bucs pick up option on CB Hargreaves III

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers exercised their fifth-year option on cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III on Wednesday.

Hargreaves was placed on injured reserve with a season-ending shoulder injury he suffered in the season opener against the New Orleans Saints. He also ended the previous season on injured reserve.

Selected 11th overall in the 2016 draft, Hargreaves is coming off a down 2017 season that saw him post 42 tackles over nine games, missing the team’s final seven contests with a hamstring injury. He had 76 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception in his 16-game rookie season in 2016.

Despite the missed time over the past two seasons, Hargreaves, 23, is expected to factor in as a press corner in new head coach Bruce Arians’ defense, which is being run by incoming defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

The Buccaneers pick fifth overall in the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday night.

–Field Level Media

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Notebook: Fifth-year options picked up on Elliott, Buckner

Notebook: Fifth-year options picked up on Elliott, Buckner

Notebook: Fifth-year options picked up on Elliott, Buckner

The Dallas Cowboys exercised the fifth-year option on running back Ezekiel Elliott’s contract, keeping him in place through the 2020 season.

Elliott is set to make $3.85 million in 2019. He figures to receive around $10 million in the option season though the Cowboys have stated they intend to negotiate a rich extension with him.

Elliott led the NFL with 1,434 rushing yards last season and also had a career-high 77 receptions for 567 yards.

Elliott has rushed for 4,048 yards and 28 touchdowns in 40 games over three seasons.

–The San Francisco 49ers exercised the fifth-year contract option on Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.

Buckner is in line to receive around $12 million in 2020. The two sides have been working on a long-term contract extension that could get hammered out prior to the 2019 campaign.

Buckner posted a career-best 12 sacks last season while accumulating 67 tackles. He has 201 stops, 21 sacks and three fumble recoveries in 47 NFL games.

–The Atlanta Falcons announced via Twitter that they picked up the fifth-year option of safety Keanu Neal.

Neal suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2018 season opener. The 2017 Pro Bowl selection has 220 tackles, eight forced fumbles and one interception in 31 games.

–The New Orleans Saints have exercised the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, according to multiple reports.

Rankins is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in January’s playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He had a career-best eight sacks last season and has 14 sacks and 86 tackles in 41 NFL games.

–The Cincinnati Bengals exercised the fifth-year option on cornerback William Jackson.

Jackson had 41 tackles last season. He has 66 tackles and one interception in 31 career games.

–Field Level Media

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Criminal investigation of Chiefs’ Hill reopens

Criminal investigation of Chiefs' Hill reopens

Criminal investigation of Chiefs’ Hill reopens

Prosecutors in suburban Kansas City have reopened the criminal case against Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill after a television station aired audio on Thursday night that allowed viewers to hear a man identified as Hill threatening his fiance. She had accused him of injuring their 3-year-old son.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid confirmed the case’s reopening at a news conference to introduce newly acquired player Frank Clark on Friday afternoon.

The Chiefs banned Hill from football activities late Thursday night after the audio alleging child abuse aired.

In the recording broadcast by CBS affiliate KCTV, a voice identified as the boy’s mother, Crystal Espinal, tells Hill that her son said regarding who punched him, “Daddy did it.”

She adds, “He is terrified of you.”

A voice alleged to be Hill replies, “You need to be terrified of me, too, b—-.”

Espinal reportedly made the recording as an “insurance policy” and gave it to a friend, who passed it along to the TV station, according to a report from the Kansas City Star. The 11-minute recording, reportedly taped at a Dubai airport, includes Espinal accusing Hill of using a belt on the boy, along with an accusation that “you open up his arms and you punch him in the chest.”

The Johnson County (Kansas) District Attorney’s also was given a copy of the recording.

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach held a press conference late Thursday to discuss the Hill situation.

“Earlier this evening we were made aware of the audio between Tyreek and Crystal,” Veach read from a prepared statement. “We were made aware of this information in real time, just like the general public. We were deeply disturbed by what we heard, and deeply concerned. Now obviously, we have great concern for Crystal, we are greatly concerned for Tyreek, but our main focus, main concern, is with the young child. …

“I had the chance to call Drew Rosenhaus (Hill’s agent), and we decided at this time and for the foreseeable future, Tyreek Hill will not take part in any team activities. We are going to gather more information, we’re going to evaluate this information, and we will make the right decision regarding Tyreek Hill.”

Veach did not take questions from reporters.

The tape’s release came a day after the district attorney’s office announced it would not bring charges against Hill for child abuse and neglect. Officials said the criminal case was closed but could reopen with new evidence.

Hill’s attorneys insisted earlier Thursday that Hill is “innocent of any crime.”

For his part, the 25-year-old Hill released a statement through his lawyers before the recording came to light.

“I love and support my family above anything. My son’s health and happiness is my number one priority. I want to thank the Kansas City Chiefs, my attorneys, my agent and my union for supporting me through this. My focus remains on working hard to be the best person for my family and our community I can be, and the best player to help our team win,” Hill said in the statement.

Authorities had been investigating incidents — one on March 5 for child abuse and neglect, and one on March 14 for battery — at Hill’s home in Overland Park, Kan. Both police reports indicated a juvenile was involved.

Hill and Espinal were listed on the March 5 police report as “others involved.” On the March 14 report, Espinal was listed as “others involved,” with a juvenile listed as the victim.

The Kansas City Star reported previously that the couple’s son sustained a broken arm in the incident. The Star also reported earlier this week that the boy was recently removed from his parents’ custody as part of a family court process called a “child in need of care” case.

Even if he is not charged with a crime, Hill could be subject to discipline from the NFL.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs’ Hill allegedly threatens fiancee on explosive recording

Chiefs' Hill allegedly threatens fiancee on explosive recording

Chiefs’ Hill allegedly threatens fiancee on explosive recording

An explosive audio recording aired by a Kansas City television station on Thursday night reportedly includes Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill threatening his fiancee, who accused him of injuring their young son.

In the recording broadcast by CBS affiliate KCTV, a voice identified as the boy’s mother, Crystal Espinal, tells Hill that her son said regarding who punched him, “Daddy did it.”

She adds, “He is terrified of you.”

A voice alleged to be Hill replies, “You need to be terrified of me, too, b—.”

The man identified by the TV station as Hill adds, “I didn’t do nothing.”

Espinal reportedly made the recording as an “insurance policy” and gave it to a friend, who passed it along to the TV station, according to a report from the Kansas City Star. The 11-minute recording, reportedly taped at a Dubai airport, includes Espinal accusing Hill of using a belt on the boy, along with an accusation that “you open up his arms and you punch him in the chest.”

The Johnson County (Kansas) District Attorney’s office now has the recording, the newspaper reported.

The development comes a day after the district attorney’s office announced it would not bring charges against him for child abuse and neglect. Officials have said the criminal case is closed but could reopen with new evidence.

Hill’s attorneys insisted earlier Thursday that Hill is “innocent of any crime.”

For his part, the 25-year-old Hill released a statement through his lawyers before the recording came to light.

“I love and support my family above anything. My son’s health and happiness is my number one priority. I want to thank the Kansas City Chiefs, my attorneys, my agent and my union for supporting me through this. My focus remains on working hard to be the best person for my family and our community I can be, and the best player to help our team win,” Hill said in the statement.

Authorities had been investigating incidents — one on March 5 for child abuse and neglect, and one on March 14 for battery — at Hill’s home in Overland Park, Kan. Both police reports indicated a juvenile was involved.

Hill and Espinal were listed on the March 5 police report as “others involved.” On the March 14 report, Espinal was listed as “others involved,” with a juvenile listed as the victim.

The Kansas City Star reported previously that the couple’s son sustained a broken arm in the incident. The Star also reported earlier this week that the boy was recently removed from his parents’ custody as part of a family court process called a “child in need of care” case.

Despite not being charged with a crime, Hill could be subject to discipline from the NFL.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs’ Hill releases statement about child abuse probe

Chiefs’ Hill releases statement about child abuse probe

Chiefs’ Hill releases statement about child abuse probe

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill released a statement through his lawyers Thursday, a day after the district attorney’s office announced it would not bring charges against him for child abuse and neglect.

“I love and support my family above anything. My son’s health and happiness is my number one priority. I want to thank the Kansas City Chiefs, my attorneys, my agent and my union for supporting me through this. My focus remains on working hard to be the best person for my family and our community I can be, and the best player to help our team win,” Hill said in the statement.

Kansas City District Attorney Stephen Howe on Wednesday said he believes a crime resulting in injury happened to Hill’s son, but that the evidence couldn’t support a charge against Hill or the child’s mother.

Hill’s attorneys Thursday insisted he is “innocent of any crime.”

“Contrary to media reports, Tyreek cooperated with law enforcement, waived his Fifth Amendment rights, and answered questions from both law enforcement and DCF,” Hill’s attorneys said in the release.

Authorities had been investigating incidents — one on March 5 for child abuse and neglect, and one on March 14 for battery — at Hill’s home in Overland Park, Kan. Both police reports indicated a juvenile was involved.

Hill, 25, and his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, were listed on the March 5 police report as “others involved.” On the March 14 report, Espinal was listed as “others involved,” with a juvenile listed as the victim.

The Kansas City Star reported previously that the couple’s son suffered a broken arm in the incident. The Star also reported earlier this week that the boy was recently removed from his parents’ custody, as part of a family court process called a “child in need of care” case.

Despite not being charged with a crime, Hill could be subject to discipline from the NFL.

–Field Level Media

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Jernigan returns to Eagles on one-year deal

Jernigan returns to Eagles on one-year deal

The Philadelphia

Jernigan returns to Eagles on one-year deal

The Philadelphia Eagles and defensive tackle Tim Jernigan agreed to a one-year contract on Thursday.

The move comes after Philadelphia previously declined to pick up Jernigan’s $11 million option in March.

Jernigan, 26, played in just three games last season after undergoing offseason back surgery to repair a herniated disk.

The previous season, he was a key cog in the Eagles’ Super Bowl winning campaign and recorded 29 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 15 games.

Jernigan spent his first three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and had 13 sacks in 43 games (26 starts). He was traded to Philadelphia prior to the 2017 season.

Jernigan was a second-round pick in 2014 by the Ravens out of Florida State.

–Field Level Media

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Report: DE Sweat was misdiagnosed at combine

Report: DE Sweat was misdiagnosed at combine

Former Mississippi State defensive

Report: DE Sweat was misdiagnosed at combine

Former Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat has been a bit of a draft mystery since it was reported that a pre-existing heart condition had been discovered at the NFL Scouting Combine.

But hours before the draft kicks off, NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport reports that follow-up examinations suggest that Sweat’s condition was misdiagnosed.

Sweat’s condition wasn’t publicly known prior to the combine. Doctors determined his condition to be low-risk, according to NFL.com, and allowed Sweat to participate.

Sweat was reportedly originally diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which leads to thickening of the heart wall, but a doctor who performed follow-up tests disagreed with the findings. According to Rapaport, one team suggested the measurement of the heart wall had been done wrong by accident.

Sweat ran a blazing 4.41-second, 40-yard dash at the combine, topping the previous mark for a defensive lineman shared by North Carolina State’s Manny Lawson (2006) and Isaac Hilton (2004) from Hampton. The performance elevated him into contention to be a possible Top 10 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Sweat’s agents downplayed the original report last month.

“Because of privacy issues we are not allowed to comment specifically,” the statement began, “but I will tell you that this is not news. Montez is the same person that was medically cleared to play and dominate the SEC, the Senior Bowl, and the NFL combine. No change in health and no change in domination!”

Sweat ranked among the SEC leaders in sacks and tackles for loss in each of his two seasons (2017-18) with the Bulldogs, tallying a combined 22.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss in 2017-18.

The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Sweat posted a time that was faster than all but one of 23 running backs tested.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Cardinals still considering DT Williams at No. 1

Reports: Cardinals still considering DT Williams at No. 1

Reports: Cardinals still considering DT Williams at No. 1

Despite the assumption for weeks that the Arizona Cardinals will take quarterback Kyler Murray with the first overall pick, multiple media outlets reported Thursday afternoon the team has told Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams he’s still in the mix.

NFL Network reported Cardinals general manager Steve Keim reached out to Williams personally to say he’s still a possibility. A separate NFL Network report said Arizona could be planning a “surprise” pick at No. 1.

Meanwhile, ESPN reported that Williams’ camp was told he is “not out of the realm of possibility” as an option at No. 1.

A separate ESPN report said “all signs” still point to Murray as the No. 1 overall pick. That report added that current Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen is actually likelier to be traded on Friday rather than Thursday, with the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers as the most likely contenders.

Murray has been the reported favorite to go first overall since the NFL Scouting Combine, but the team has insisted as recently as this week that no final decision has been made with the top pick.

Rosen has participated fully in the team’s offseason workouts despite swirling trade rumors, drawing praise from head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The Cardinals officially go on the clock at 8 p.m. ET.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs ban Hill from football activities after hearing explosive audio

Chiefs ban Hill from football activities after hearing explosive audio

Chiefs ban Hill from football activities after hearing explosive audio

An explosive audio recording aired by a Kansas City television station on Thursday night reportedly includes Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill threatening his fiancee, who accused him of injuring their young son.

The Chiefs responded late Thursday night by banning Hill from football activities while they investigate the latest developments.

In the recording broadcast by CBS affiliate KCTV, a voice identified as the boy’s mother, Crystal Espinal, tells Hill that her son said regarding who punched him, “Daddy did it.”

She adds, “He is terrified of you.”

A voice alleged to be Hill replies, “You need to be terrified of me, too, b–.”

The man identified by the TV station as Hill adds, “I didn’t do nothing.”

Espinal reportedly made the recording as an “insurance policy” and gave it to a friend, who passed it along to the TV station, according to a report from the Kansas City Star. The 11-minute recording, reportedly taped at a Dubai airport, includes Espinal accusing Hill of using a belt on the boy, along with an accusation that “you open up his arms and you punch him in the chest.”

The Johnson County (Kansas) District Attorney’s office now has the recording, the newspaper reported.

Late Thursday night, after the first round of the NFL draft ended, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach held a press conference.

“Earlier this evening we were made aware of the audio between Tyreek and Crystal,” Veach read from a prepared statement. “We were made aware of this information in real time, just like the general public. We were deeply disturbed by what we heard, and deeply concerned. Now obviously, we have great concern for Crystal, we are greatly concerned for Tyreek, but our main focus, main concern, is with the young child. …

“I had the chance to call Drew Rosenhaus (Hill’s agent), and we decided at this time and for the foreseeable future, Tyreek Hill will not take part in any team activities. We are going to gather more information, we’re going to evaluate this information, and we will make the right decision regarding Tyreek Hill.”

Veach did not take questions from reporters.

The tape’s release came a day after the district attorney’s office announced it would not bring charges against him for child abuse and neglect. Officials have said the criminal case is closed but could reopen with new evidence.

Hill’s attorneys insisted earlier Thursday that Hill is “innocent of any crime.”

For his part, the 25-year-old Hill released a statement through his lawyers before the recording came to light.

“I love and support my family above anything. My son’s health and happiness is my number one priority. I want to thank the Kansas City Chiefs, my attorneys, my agent and my union for supporting me through this. My focus remains on working hard to be the best person for my family and our community I can be, and the best player to help our team win,” Hill said in the statement.

Authorities had been investigating incidents — one on March 5 for child abuse and neglect, and one on March 14 for battery — at Hill’s home in Overland Park, Kan. Both police reports indicated a juvenile was involved.

Hill and Espinal were listed on the March 5 police report as “others involved.” On the March 14 report, Espinal was listed as “others involved,” with a juvenile listed as the victim.

The Kansas City Star reported previously that the couple’s son sustained a broken arm in the incident. The Star also reported earlier this week that the boy was recently removed from his parents’ custody as part of a family court process called a “child in need of care” case.

Despite not being charged with a crime, Hill could be subject to discipline from the NFL.

–Field Level Media

Read More 579 Words

Books like Thomas’ Tour Championship odds

Books like Thomas' Tour Championship odds

Books like Thomas’ Tour Championship odds

Justin Thomas will begin the Tour Championship with a two-shot advantage on Thursday, and sportsbooks like his odds of converting that lead into his second FedEx Cup title on Sunday.

Thomas is the odds-on favorite by most every book, with the lone difference being by how much.

Coming off a victory at the BMW Championship that vaulted him to No. 1 in the standings heading into the Tour Championship, Thomas will tee off at 10-under par in the first round. Patrick Cantlay will be 8 under, followed by Brooks Koepka (7 under), Patrick Reed (6 under) and Rory McIlroy (5 under).

Thomas is being offered at +221 by PointsBet to win the tournament, while DraftKings has him at +250. DraftKings is also offering Thomas at -278 to finish in the top five and -1000 to finish in the top 10.

Cantlay (+450 by PointsBet) is followed by Koepka (+500) and McIlroy (+750), but the book likes Jon Rahm’s odds (+1300) better than Reed’s (+1600), despite Reed coming off a victory just two weeks ago. DraftKings has both players at +1700. Rahm has six top-10s in his past seven events, including a win at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

The Tour Championship is a no-cut event with only 30 players.

DraftKings is offering a +3300 prop bet that an albatross will be made in the tournament, a +450 bet that it will go to a playoff (-770 for a No Playoff bet) and a +1400 bet for any individual round that a hole in one will be made.

The book is also offering several bets on the winning margin that take on an extra element with the weighted start: After a Playoff (+450), by one stroke (+300), by two strokes (+400), by three strokes (+500) and by four or more strokes (+150).

Winning Odds (PointsBet)

Justin Thomas: +221

Patrick Cantlay: +450

Brooks Koepka: +500

Rory Mcilroy: +750

Jon Rahm: +1300

Patrick Reed: +1600

Webb Simpson: +2200

Dustin Johnson: +2500

Xander Schauffele: +2500

Adam Scott: +3300

Hideki Matsuyama: +3300

Justin Rose: +4000

Tony Finau: +4000

Matt Kuchar: +5000

Rickie Fowler: +6000

Paul Casey: +6600

Gary Woodland: +7000

Abraham Ancer: +7000

Tommy Fleetwood: +9000

Kevin Kisner: +9000

Brandt Snedeker: +10000

Bryson DeChambeau: +15000

Louis Oosthuizen: +20000

Marc Leishman: +20000

Im-Sung Jae: +20000

Chez Reavie: +25000

Corey Conners: +25000

Lucas Glover: +25000

Jason Kokrak: +25000

Charles Howell III: +30000

–Field Level Media

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Report: Texans open to trading Clowney

Report: Texans open to trading Clowney

The Houston Texans are

Report: Texans open to trading Clowney

The Houston Texans are open to trading franchise-tagged defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for the right price, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Thursday.

The Texans tagged Clowney earlier this offseason, and various reports since have said the sides are not close to a long-term extension. They have until July 15 to agree to a new deal, or Clowney will play 2019 on the tag, which is worth $15.967 million.

General manager Brian Gaine told reporters last week that keeping Clowney around long-term is “still the plan.”

“You know, there’s a reason why we did that with every hope and intention to continuing to work on that,” Gaine said of using the franchise tag. “That’s a negotiation, it’s a process. It has to be a deal that makes sense for both sides, for the player, for the organization as it relates to short term and long term. That’s still the plan.”

Clowney, 26, has 18.5 sacks and 42 quarterback hits over the last two seasons.

He is likely seeking more than $20 million annually on a contract extension, after defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark each exceeded that benchmark within the last month.

Clark, who was tagged by the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, got his contract from the Kansas City Chiefs after being traded by Seattle for first- and second-round picks earlier this week. He was the second franchise-tagged pass rusher to be dealt this offseason, as the Chiefs sent Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick in March.

Drafted first overall by the Texans in 2014, Clowney missed 15 games to injury over his first two seasons but has played in 45 of a possible 48 since. He has 29 sacks and 67 QB hits in 62 career games.

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals’ Kingsbury on top pick: ‘Still working through it’

Cardinals' Kingsbury on top pick: 'Still working through it'

Cardinals’ Kingsbury on top pick: ‘Still working through it’

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters Tuesday that the team has yet to finalize its plans for the top overall pick in the draft, two days before the first round begins.

“We’re still working through it,” Kingsbury said after his team’s first practice of the year at a voluntary minicamp. “I wouldn’t say the hay is in the barn.”

Quarterback Josh Rosen, who is widely believed to be on the trade block as the Cardinals consider Kyler Murray with the top pick, has been a full participant during the offseason program despite rampant rumors.

“I’ve said it all along, I couldn’t be more impressed with his approach,” Kingsbury said of Rosen, whom the Cardinals traded up to draft 10th overall last year. “He’s a top-10 pick for a reason. You see it (on the field).”

A report on Monday said the Cardinals have fielded trade offers for the top pick. A separate report over the weekend said Murray will not be Arizona’s selection.

However, most still expect the Cardinals to take the Oklahoma star, whom Kingsbury recruited out of high school when he was the head coach at Texas Tech.

Meanwhile, cornerback Patrick Peterson was absent from Tuesday’s practice, and the Arizona Republic reports Cardinals management said something to Peterson that “(ticked) him off.”

The report quoted a source saying the issue isn’t “that big of a deal … yet.”

Kingsbury downplayed Peterson’s absence, saying Peterson had let the team know he wouldn’t be in attendance.

“We know Patrick wants to be here,” Kingsbury said.

Peterson, 28, requested a trade midway through last season but then withdrew the request and voiced his commitment to the Cardinals long-term.

He has eight Pro Bowl appearances in as many seasons since Arizona drafted him fifth overall in 2011, intercepting 23 passes, breaking up 76 and never missing a game. He also has three first-team All-Pro nods.

–Field Level Media

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