From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- Captain Chaos fought to hold back the tears.Chris Cooley, the longest-tenured player on the Washington Redskins and easily the team's most colorful character, was saying goodbye."I appreciate everything," Cooley said with a sniffle, his voice starting to waver. "I'm sorry. I'm a baby. I appreciate everything you guys have done for me. I guess, finally, just to say thank you to our fans. It's been great. Thank you."The Redskins released their two-time Pro Bowl tight end Tuesday, a few hours after creating some special teams chaos of their own by cutting kicker Graham Gano and replacing him with Billy Cundiff.Talk of field goal percentages quickly gave way to the stunning realization that No. 47 will no longer occupy his customary space near the back corner of the locker room."He helped me get comfortable with this team & this offense. He is a legend in my mind and will be missed. Thank You Chris Cooley," tweeted rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III -- and he's only known Cooley a few months.Coach Mike Shanahan said the decision came down to a matter of playing time. Fred Davis, who had a breakout year in 2011, has emerged as the new starting tight end, relegating Cooley to utility duty as a backup at both fullback and tight end during preseason."He wants to start. He wants to play," Shanahan said. "And we'll see if he gets that opportunity."Cooley did not take questions at the end of his impromptu speech to reporters. He said recently that he wanted to start, but that he was also at the point of his career that he wanted to win after missing the playoffs in six of his eight NFL seasons.Shanahan said Cooley's release wasn't about health or money. Cooley appeared in only five games last season after trying to play before sufficiently recovering from offseason left knee surgery."I thought he practiced well, he played well (in preseason), and I think he's got an opportunity to start in the National Football League," Shanahan said. "I think he's healthy."Cooley, whose Pro Bowl seasons came in 2007 and 2008, was also one of the most expensive players on the team, due 3.8 million in salary this year and 3.85 million in 2013."We never talked about a reduction," Shanahan said. "We never talked about anything like that. I'd never do that to a guy like him."Shanahan conceded that cutting Cooley is a "risky move" because Davis would be lost for the year for another violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. Davis was suspended for the final four games of last season after failing a drug test.The coach didn't rule out having Cooley return if the 30-year-old tight end can't find a suitable team elsewhere.For his part, Cooley seemed unsure what to do with himself."I have every belief that I can play football," he said. "I have every belief that I can be not only a productive player but a starter in this league. I'm very confident in my abilities to continue to play the game. It would be a tough decision for me to put on another jersey. It's something that I really never had to imagine, so for now, I'll take some time and make sure what I do in the future is exactly what I want to do."Gano's release came one day after he appeared to win the kicking job, and two days after Cundiff was cut by the Baltimore Ravens.Gano had stood at his locker on Monday feeling excited and looking forward to the season after his lone competition in training camp, Neil Rackers, was sent packing when the Redskins made their first round of cuts.But Gano's numbers have never been impressive. He has made 73.8 percent of his field goal attempts since joining the Redskins (No. 25 in the AP Pro32) late in the 2009 season, the second-worst rate in the league over the past three seasons.Gano, 25, missed 11 attempts in 2010, tied for most in the NFL. He had a league-high 10 misses last season, although five of those were blocked. He beat out Rackers without attempting a field goal in the Redskins' preseason games, coming out ahead based on his performance during practice.Cundiff's statistics are only marginally better. The 32-year-old kicker has a career field goal rate of 76.7 with the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore. He joined the Ravens during the 2009 season and went to the Pro Bowl season in 2010, going 26 for 29, but last season he missed a potential game-tying, 32-yarder against the New England Patriots in the waning seconds of the AFC title game.Cundiff also has limited range. He is 5 for 19 over his career from 50-plus yards, including just 1 for 6 last season. He was cut Sunday by the Ravens, who opted to go with rookie Justin Tucker. The Redskins called as soon as Cundiff cleared waivers."It obviously was an interesting situation, and I think there's really no other way to put it," Cundiff said. "For me, obviously, a tug of emotions. When you start to see what I accomplished in Baltimore, and then to have the door kind of shown to me a little bit earlier than I thought -- then to have a team come up right away and say they'd like to have my services and they were going to make a move."Shanahan didn't offer much of an explanation for his kicker change."We just thought that was the best move for us at this time," the coach said.
Now that the dust has settled until free agency opens July 1 in the NBA, let's look back at the draft. It's all educated (and sometimes uneducated) guesswork because if you ask most people at least 25 of the 30 teams had great drafts and made great "value picks," whatever that means.
When the NBA season tips in October, however, a lot of names won't be mentioned again in such a positive light if at all. Projecting isn't an exact science especially when most of the 30 first-rounders weren't even of legal drinking age.
Biggest winner: The Philadelphia 76ers. They manuevered their way into the No. 1 pick to grab Markelle Fultz. It seems like a no-brainer (it is), but sometime teams outsmart themselves and trade down or take an unnecessary risk when they have the best option in front of them. The Sixers went upward. They parted with assets to jump from third and made an aggressive move in a deal with the Boston Celtics who currently hold a bunch of chips that have yet to produce any value. The Sixers can now put Fultz with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid for a possible Big 3 of their own that should catapult them into the playoff picture.
Head-scratcher: The Chicago Bulls. They traded an All-NBA and All-Defensive player in Jimmy Butler for a bunch of unknown quantities. It goes against the rule of thumb in a trade. If the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to benefit from Butler, no matter how much Bulls managment were fed up with their star, getting a proven rotation player back should've been a requirement. Instead, they got back only potential in rising second-year player Kris Dunn who had an underwhelming rookie season; Zach LaVine who is a fantastic athlete but coming off major knee surgery; and a No. 7 pick in 7-footer Lauri Markkanen. The big man can turn out to be worthy but these picks aren't sure things. Plus the Bulls swapped the No. 16 pick which was Justin Patton (Creighton) in the deal. Given they gave up by far the best and most accomplished player, that's confusing. If anything, they should've gotten a future pick(s), too.
Overrated: Sacramento Kings. Yes, they draw a good haul but drafting De'Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Harry Giles is just the first step. What about the long game as they're stepping into an organization with a terrible track record. Maybe it's a new day, but the Kings still have to prove they have the infrastructure to develop what they have in this group and the wisdom to be patient if it takes time. All four of these players will not turn out to be solid contributors. That's how the draft is. Sometimes they'll end up sticking in the NBA but with another team and only Fox seems to be a lock based on talent. If this were the Miami Heat, for instance, it would be more a certainty they'd maximize these rookies. This is the Kings' first big test post-DeMarcus Cousins to change how they're perceived. GM Vlade Divac has been the Phil Jackson of Western Conference until proven otherwise.
Underrated: Atlanta Hawks. They've gotten little-to-no props for their selections under first-year GM Travis Schlenk. John Collins (Wake Forest), their first-rounder, is a back-to-the-basket presence they'll need after trading Dwight Howard and eventually losing Paul Millsap. In the post is the strength of Collins' game. Tyler Dorsey (Oregon) is a guard that the Wizards liked but knew he wouldn't be there at No. 52 which is why they traded out for a veteran. Dorsey has to get stronger but appears to be the right fit. He may take a year or two but the Hawks did well. And the last pick of the draft, No. 60, turned into 6-10 Alpha Kaba who played in Serbia. An intriguing prospect that could take the longest to come around but he's an incredible finisher at the rim with NBA athleticism.
Sleeper picks: Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina) and Monte' Morris (Iowa State). Thornwell was taken at No. 48 by the Milwaukee Bucks and traded to the L.A. Clippers. Who knows how the Clippers will look now with the likely departures of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but Thornwell is ready to play now. Defensively, his IQ is there which is rare for rookie second-round picks. He has geat instincts and plays off the ball and is exceptionally strong at 6-5. He's also a good rebounder if needed and can post up smaller guards, the type of the player the Clippers have needed in recent years. Morris may have limitations because of his physical skills -- not blazing fast, could have trouble beating his man so he's not an iso player -- but he knows how to run an offense and doesn't get loose with the ball under pressure. Faced as close to an NBA-style defense as there is in college in West Virginia with long, athletic defenders who trapped and pressured him to no end, and Morris only had one turnover.
Best undrafted talent: P.J. Dozier (South Carolina). At 6-6, he can create havoc at both ends. The biggest knock against him is his inconsistent shot, an area that can easily be improved with hard work. Most of his other assets can't be acquired. He can slash to get to the rim and finish in traffic.
Most surprising pick: Mason (Kansas) at No. 34. It's not that the national player of the year was chosen that was eye-catching. It was how high he went to Sacramento. At 5-11, Mason will have to not just get his shot over much bigger defenders, but if he'll have to succeed in that area if he's to stick in the NBA. Right now, he's strictly an on-ball player who isn't a threat off it and hasn't displayed the vision to create for others. He's draftworthy but it seems it a big high given that a better point guard option in Morris went 17 picks later.
In the span of about 60 minutes, the Caps have drafted three young defensemen.
After taking European blueliners with their 4th and 5th round picks, Washington took American defenseman Brenton Maass with the 182nd overall pick.
Maass (6'1, 185) comes from Elk River, Minnesota, where he played at Elk River High School. While both of the Caps' previous picks today were lefties, Maass is right-handed.
NHL.com ranks him as the 159th best player in the draft.