The NFL and ESPN can’t control each otherand it’s getting ugly

One task on James Pitaro’s to-do list should get a big circle.

The newly named ESPN president must assume responsibility of the network’s longstanding relationship with the NFL, which has reached its nadir in recent months, according to a SportsBusiness Daily report, as negative NFL storylines have made their way into ESPN’s coverage. Pitaro, who took over last Monday after a search that began when John Skipper stepped down in December, has made it one of his top priorities to patch up the points of contention that materialized under Skipper’s leadership.

Day 1 of the free-agency negotiating period did not produce much news on free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins and where he might play in 2018. The Jets are one of the top suitors for Cousins, ready to break the bank for the 29-year-old, but they have competition from the Vikings and Cardinals.

Teams were permitted to contact Cousins’ agent Mike McCartney on Monday. He cannot sign anywhere officially until 4 p.m. Wednesday. Cousins surely was sifting through the offers from teams Monday, trying to figure out what his first choice would be. He is the biggest quarterback domino that the NFL is waiting to fall. Once he indicates where he likely is heading, other quarterbacks such A.J. McCarron and Teddy Bridgewater can start finding homes. Case Keenum, who had a career year for the Vikings, reportedly intends to sign with the Broncos.

Make no mistake, the Giants had serious interest in Norwell and not getting him is a setback. They knew the price would be steep and when it exceeded the value the Giants placed on Norwell, new general manager Dave Gettleman did not raise the ante and assign a greater value to the player.

Gettleman, the Giants’ first-year general manager, ran the show for the Panthers when he signed Nowell as an undrafted free agent in 2014, but that connection did not overcome the pursuit of Norwell by the Jaguars and Tom Coughlin.

The Giants now must look elsewhere, for less-accomplished players who will cost less money. Their great need is to find a starting-caliber offensive tackle, but the pickings are slim in free agency. The best of the bunch is Nate Solder, a mainstay at left tackle for the Patriots, but he is coming off a down year and would be costly. Cameron Fleming, a backup tackle in New England, started 20 games in his four years with the Patriots and could be the type of under-the-radar player Gettleman prefers to uncover as one of his hog mollies for the offensive line. Fleming is 25 years old.

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