In our first notebook of the season, we hit on how Dak Prescott spent his offseason, the true price it took for the Eagles to move up to No. 2 in April's draft, another potential gem for the Seahawks and more.
Dak Prescott isn't Tom Brady, but ...
"I was up there [with the Patriots] when Brady just got out of [Michigan]," Shaw said. "He may not have had the same athletic and physical ability at the identical stage as Dak, but what Tom had was a work ethic and desire to get better that was undeniable. Dak has the exact same work ethic as Tom.
"It extends to every imaginable area. Dak wants to be the best. Tom wanted to be best and became the best. Everybody says they want to be the best, but is it really the most important thing in your life when you wake up in the morning and you're breathing? For Tom it was that way, and it is that way with Dak."
Prescott, a fourth-round pick who has been pushed into the starting role because of Tony Romo's injury, trained during the offseason with Shaw at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was not just restricted to physical training. Ike Taylor (Steelers) and Abe Elam (Browns), two former NFL defensive backs known for their acumen, held intensive skull sessions with Prescott about understanding defensive coverages. Prescott also drove to see Jon Gruden to raise his level of understanding several notches.
"If Dak could've worked with Jon 25 times in 25 days, he would have done it," Shaw said. "Dak craves it. Those are not just words, and I have my own friends at the Cowboys who echo the exact same thing."
Shaw says his best friend is Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik, who has six Super Bowl rings from his work with the Cowboys (1990-96) and Patriots (2000-10) before he returned to Dallas in 2011.
"Mike would tell you the exact same thing about the similarities between the way Tom Brady and Dak go about their work," Shaw said. "I'm not saying Dak will be the next Tom Brady. But he has the tools, he has the work ethic, he has the mind and he has the competitive desire."
Shaw also believes that Prescott's and Brady's similar post-draft mindset also sticks out.
"Dak has a chip on his shoulder because of where he was drafted, just like Tom," he said. "Tom has never forgotten it. Dak will never forget it."
-- Chris Mortensen
Philly's price for draft picks
Now the Eagles know the value of what it cost to trade up to the No. 2 overall pick to nab North Dakota State's Carson Wentz, the quarterback the Browns determined was worth passing on in the same spot.
Philadelphia sent five picks to the Browns: the No. 8 pick in the first round, a third-round pick, a fourth-round pick, a first-round pick in 2017 and a second-round pick in 2018. The Eagles received a fifth-round pick that will likely rise to a fourth-round pick because of the league's compensatory system.
But in return for Sam Bradford, who was expendable because Philadelphia traded up for Wentz, the Eagles got back a first-round pick and fourth-round pick that could go as high as a second-rounder from the Vikings.
The net cost was this: The Eagles traded a third-round pick, a fourth-round pick, cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso (whom Philadelphia used to trade up to Miami's eighth overall pick), a second-round pick in 2018 and the $11 million it paid Bradford this season in exchange for Wentz and a conditional fourth-round pick. That's some serious wheeling and dealing to potentially set up your franchise for the next 15 or so years.
There was another hidden benefit to the trade of Bradford to the Vikings. Philadelphia unloaded Bradford's salary and freed up $24 million against its salary cap: $7 million this year and $17 million next year, when it needed the cap space.
In fact, multiple league executives and coaches remarked that they felt the Eagles paid $11 million to procure extra picks in future drafts. They thought that was the least talked about element of a constantly talked about trade. Philadelphia paid for picks.
So while the Vikings got the quarterback they had to have, the Eagles got back the picks and cap space they needed. It's a win for the Vikings and a major win for the Eagles, who now know the true cost of what it took to get the player they identified as their must-have franchise quarterback, and to give him his first start against a Cleveland team that did not view him the same way.
-- Adam Schefter
Seahawks keep finding gems
There's a reason that Seattle made Pete Carroll the second-highest-paid coach in the NFL, behind only Bill Belichick, and rewarded John Schneider with an extension that makes him one of the league's highest-paid general managers.
No duo has done a better job of uncovering buried treasure, then coaching it up.
A staggering 45 percent of the Seahawks' roster -- 24 of the 53 players on their active roster -- is made up of undrafted free agents, including wide receiver Doug Baldwin, defensive end Michael Bennett and cornerback DeShawn Shead. No team in the league, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, has more undrafted free agents on its roster than Seattle. The only team close is Indianapolis, with 20.
The Seahawks need that cheap labor to be able to pay all of their superstars. But Schneider has been masterful at finding talent that few others wanted. A perfect example is left tackle George Fant. Last season at Western Kentucky, Fant played backup tight end. He worked out for NFL teams as a defensive or offensive lineman. Schneider and the Seahawks' front office found Fant and pursued him aggressively. They offered him a $15,000 bonus, a high number for an undrafted free agent, and lured him away from Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, who also was after Fant.
Seattle brought Fant to camp, and, lo and behold, he played well enough to compete for the starting left tackle job. He has proved to be talented and tough, better than even the Seahawks expected.
There are superstars and buried treasure, giving the Seahawks one of the NFL's most uniquely overlooked and underrated rosters.
-- Adam Schefter
Bucs believe in Dirk Koetter
Buccaneers first-year head coach Dirk Koetter has his own comparables in the eyes of the team's general manager, Jason Licht. Koetter, 56, is getting his first opportunity to lead an NFL franchise just when he seemed destined for a career role as a coordinator, as it once did for Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. None of the three was ever a self-promoter. All of them had success as coordinators, and all can be straight shooters.
It is not Koetter's maiden voyage as a head coach if you count college, however. He had nine years of head-coaching experience at Boise State and Arizona State, with successful runs at both schools from 1998 to 2006. He was a two-time Big West Conference coach of the year after a pair of championships at Boise State in three seasons before he was hired by Arizona State, where he delivered four bowl appearances.
Licht was well acquainted with Koetter's background. Koetter's occasional bluntness, especially in handling tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, might have caught the media and public off guard, but not Licht, who joined the Bucs as GM in 2014 after a stint with the Arizona Cardinals as vice president of player personnel. Licht was involved in the Cardinals' search process when Arians was hired in 2013.
"Bruce Arians fell into our lap," Licht said. "I feel the same way about Dirk. He had more success in college than Bruce, but he's straightforward like an old ball coach ... like Bruce is, though maybe not as gruff. Players appreciate it. He's not afraid to yank Jameis [Winston] from a drill if he's not doing it right, and Jameis loves Dirk. And Dirk draws from his experience at Arizona State and Boise State when he has to deal with player issues. He puts on his psychology hat. But one thing remains consistent. He will tell me, 'I don't ever want to lie or mislead [a player].' That's the way he is, and it works with players."
-- Chris Mortensen
Browns' hope lies in Hue
The Browns don't have any of their six first-round draft picks from 2011-14 left on their roster. They don't have a playoff appearance since 2002, which trails only the Buffalo Bills for the NFL's longest postseason drought.
But what the Browns do have heading into Sunday's regular-season opener in Philadelphia is hope -- and Hue Jackson.
Just this summer, Browns backup quarterback Josh McCown described Jackson "as a cross between Denzel Washington and Bill Walsh." McCown went on to explain that some coaches have the charisma to motivate their players, and others have the X's and O's acumen to attack defenses. But in his 14-year NFL career, McCown rarely, if ever, has encountered a head coach who has both. He believes Jackson does.
Nowhere is it more evident than with the work Jackson has done with Cleveland's other quarterback, Robert Griffin III. Jackson attracted Griffin to Cleveland when that would not have been his first choice and, upon getting him there, coached him up to avoid some of his previous mistakes. The biggest might be getting Griffin to slide and avoid big hits. Watch how Griffin handles himself when he gets out of the pocket Sunday versus the Eagles. There once was a time he would fight for the extra yards. Now he hears Jackson's voice and gets down.
It's the voice that has motivated and educated. It is, for now, Cleveland's best hope.
-- Adam Schefter
Emptying out the notebook
Rams coach Jeff Fisher's revelation that top draft pick Jared Goff will be inactive in Week 1 might raise eyebrows, but that won't shake Fisher's handling of a young quarterback. Fisher has done this before with Steve McNair, who was the No. 3 overall pick out of Alcorn State for the Oilers in 1995. True, McNair played at a small college, but his skill set was even superior to Goff's. Like Goff, he played in a nontraditional offense in college. The learning curve demanded patience, so McNair sat the majority of his first two years behind veteran Chris Chandler before becoming the starter in the franchise's first year as the Tennessee Titans in 1997. Goff is expected to get his shot before two years pass, but Fisher won't panic until he deems Goff is prepared for the moment. It paid off for McNair, who had a stellar career, including an NFL MVP award.
Darren Sproles figures to earn the two-year, $8 million contract extension the Eagles gave him. How can he expand his role, which saw him record 55 catches out of the backfield in 2015? Check out the red zone creativity, not unlike what first-year Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich did with Danny Woodhead in San Diego. Woodhead had 81 catches in 2015 under Reich and was a primary outlet in the red zone for Philip Rivers. Sproles could get similar treatment in Philadelphia with rookie Carson Wentz.
There's a reason NFL personnel men don't ignore January all-star games. Small-college receivers have a way of raising their profile during the week. It's where Tajae Sharpe (UMass) opened eyes this year. He's now a rookie starter for the Titans. It's where John Brown (Pittsburg State) raised his stock and landed with the Cardinals as a third-round pick in 2014. It's even where the Saints saw potential in Marques Colston (Hofstra) back in 2006, and he emerged as the franchise's all-time leading receiver, setting nine records before his time ended after last season.
There's no question the Texans were looking for speed when they drafted Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller, who was an iffy first-round grade for some teams in part because of his average hands. Fuller's hands still might not be premium, but you can't invent his speed. The bonus for the Texans: Fuller has been a devoted student who has shown them he is a much better route runner than advertised. Between Fuller and second-round pick Braxton Miller working out of the slot, the 2016 draft might have yielded two rookie receivers who should make Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins' job that much easier, not to mention adding some nice tools for new quarterback Brock Osweiler.
Peyton Manning is staying true to his word as he begins his first stretch without being on a football roster. There has been no desire to come out of retirement -- so quit asking -- but he will stay busy. For Week 1, he'll attend the Broncos-Panthers opener on Thursday night, then travel to see his alma mater, Tennessee, play Virginia Tech on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, before wrapping up the week to watch brother Eli and the Giants take on the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.