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Bears cut Orlando Pace

One of the best offensive lineman of his generation is out of work.

Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that the Bears have cut offensive tackle Orlando Pace, ending his one-year tenure in Chicago and possibly signaling an end to the career of a Hall of Fame-worthy left tackle.

Pace started 11 games for the Bears in 2009, but he wasn’t the same player he had been as a perennial Pro Bowler with the St. Louis Rams. As ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski said of Pace during the season, “there’s nothing left.”

The 34-year-old Pace was the first overall pick in the 1997 NFL draft. He played 12 seasons for the Rams before signing with the Bears last year.

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Tarvaris Jackson would like to back up Teddy Bridgewater

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Tarvaris Jackson spent the last two years backing up Russell Wilson in Seattle and he thinks that experience would serve him well in a return to the Vikings.

Minnesota traded Matt Cassel to Buffalo this week and Christian Ponder is set to become a free agent on Tuesday, leaving the team without a backup for Teddy Bridgewater for the 2015 season. Jackson said while he still aspires to be a starting quarterback in the league, he would “definitely love to come back” to the place where he started his NFL career.

“I think I could really help [Bridgewater],” Jackson said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “I think I could help put things in perspective for him with football and outside of football. … I feel I can help him just making the game a little easier and kind of learning from my mistakes and stuff.”

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said after Cassel was traded that the team had a plan in mind for securing a backup to Bridgewater, although he didn’t elaborate on that plan. Jackson will join veterans like Mark Sanchez, Shaun Hill and Matt Moore as free agents, although some of them may be less willing to sign up for a role with little chance of starting absent a serious injury.

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Lions tender George Johnson as restricted free agent

Drew Stanton, George Johnson AP

The Lions have made contract offers to a pair of their free agents.

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Detroit has tendered a contract to defensive end George Johnson, a restricted free agent.

Johnson has been given a right-of-first-refusal tender, which entails a one-year contract offer for about $1.54 million, per the Free Press. Teams can negotiate with Johnson until he signs his tender, but the Lions can match any offer extended by another club.

The 27-year-old Johnson became an important part of the Lions’ defensive line rotation in 2014, notching a career-best six sacks.

The Lions have also offered a contract to exclusive-rights free agent returner/wide receiver Jeremy Ross, the club’s website said. Ross, 26, caught 24 passes for 314 yards and one TD in 2014 for Detroit. He averaged 25.4 yards on 23 kickoff returns and 8.9 yards on 32 punt returns.

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Chiefs re-sign Josh Mauga

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The Chiefs released linebacker Joe Mays this week, but they’ve secured the rights to another member of the position group with the same initials for the next three years.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team has re-signed Josh Mauga to a three-year deal worth $8 million. There’s no word on signing bonus or guarantees in the deal.

Mauga started all 16 games for the Chiefs last season after signing with the team in July. He had 103 tackles, a half-sack and three passes defensed  in his first year with a Kansas City defense that struggled to stop the run. Mauga played 29 games for the Jets between 2010 and 2012 before spending the entire 2013 season on injured reserve.

With Mays gone, the Chiefs now have Mauga, Derrick Johnson and James-Michael Johnson at inside linebacker. Derrick Johnson missed 15 games last season after tearing his Achilles, but should return to a starting spot if he’s healthy. Mauga will likely be in the mix to start alongside him.

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Panthers fill left tackle void with Michael Oher

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Based on the way he played for the Titans, left tackle Michael Oher wouldn’t have been an upgrade for many teams.

Fortunately for Oher, the Panthers were there for him.

The Panthers announced they signed the former Ravens first-rounder to a two-year deal.

He’ll replace the replaceable Byron Bell at left tackle for the short term, and there are reasons to think it might work. Back when Oher appeared to be good at football, he was being coached by John Matsko, who’s now coaching the Panthers linemen.

And, he’s going to a place where expectations have been lowered by the shoddy line they put in front of Cam Newton last year.

“I’m excited to be joining an organization that knows how to win. They’ve won the past two division championships, and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Oher said. “When I came here on a visit, the culture was great. They’re very into winning and doing everything possible to win.”

Signing Oher keeps them from reaching for a left tackle in the draft, and crosses a box off for the short term, though there are no illusions he’s going to be a Pro Bowl-level player.

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Browns hold onto Spencer Lanning, Shaun Draughn

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Not every roster move in the next few weeks will be a splashy one, as evidenced by a pair of signings the Browns announced on Friday.

The team announced that they have re-signed running back Shaun Draughn and punter Spencer Lanning. Both players were exclusive rights free agents, so the ball was in the Browns’ court and they opted to hold onto both players.

Draughn joined the Browns for the final four games of the 2014 season and played mostly on special teams. He returned five kickoffs for 115 yards and made a tackle in kick coverage. Draughn saw time with the Chargers and Bears last season as well and has also played for the Chiefs and Ravens while bouncing around the NFL.

Lanning has been the punter in Cleveland for the last two seasons. In 2014, he averaged 44.3 yards per punt and dropped 25-of-93 kicks inside the 20-yard line. He also took a foot to the face from Steelers punt returner Antonio Brown during a September game, although the Browns punt coverage typically didn’t put him in position to make tackles while limiting opponents to seven yards a return.

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Report: Chargers release LB Reggie Walker

Andrew Luck, Reggie Walker AP

The Chargers are letting go of one of their backups on defense.

Inside linebacker Reggie Walker has been released, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday.

Walker was scheduled to make $1 million in 2015, per NFLPA data. According to the Union-Tribune, the release of Walker nets the Chargers a corresponding savings of $1 million against the salary cap.

The 28-year-old Walker appeared in 11 games as a reserve in 2014 for San Diego, with the club crediting him with six tackles on defense and five on special teams.

Walker (6-0, 244) played his first four NFL seasons with Arizona before joining the Chargers in 2013. He could appeal to teams looking for linebacking depth in 3-4 schemes.

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Chiefs cut defensive tackle Vance Walker

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Just because a team makes an early move last year for you doesn’t mean you’re a priority.

The Chiefs are releasing defensive tackle Vance Walker, according to his agent Chad Speck.

The move clears $1.75 million off the cap, and erases a bad deal from a year ago.

The Chiefs signed Walker away from the Raiders on a three-year deal which was reported to be worth up to $13 million.

But it didn’t take long for them to regret it, as he started just two games last year. He’s a solid enough player, but hardly worth what the Chiefs invested a year ago.

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Jets re-sign David Harris to three-year deal

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The Jets aren’t waiting until free agency to start filling up their cap space.

PFT has learned, via a league source, that the team has re-signed linebacker David Harris to a three-year deal worth a total of $21.5 million. Harris got the first two years of the deal fully guaranteed at $15 million.

The move comes shortly after the team swung a trade with the Bears for wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who is set to make $7.7 million during the 2015 season.

Harris has spent his entire eight-year career with the Jets since they took the Michigan product in the second round of the 2007 draft. There had been a fair amount of speculation that Harris might follow former Jets coach Rex Ryan to Buffalo once free agency opened, but he obviously felt that the Jets’ offer satisfied his needs. He should continue to be a centerpiece of their defense under new coach Todd Bowles and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers.

The Jets still have a lot of money to spend and should get $10.5 million more by moving on from Percy Harvin, who is expected to be released after the acquisition of Marshall.

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Saints bringing back S Jamarca Sanford, DT Brodrick Bunkley

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The Saints have retained a pair of veteran defenders.

The club has reached a one-year deal with safety Jamarca Sanford, agent Drew Rosenhaus told PFT on Friday. The 29-year-old Sanford notched 14 tackles in six games (two starts) with New Orleans last season.

A seventh-year pro from Mississippi, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Sanford played five seasons with Minnesota (2009-2013) before stints with Washington and Minnesota last season.

Also, New Orleans will be re-signing defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, ESPN’s Mike Triplett reported Friday. Bunkley, 31, started 11 games in 2014 for the Saints, for whom he’s played the last three seasons.

Bunkley (6-2, 306) previously had stints with Philadelphia (2006-2010) and Denver (2011).

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Lions hang onto quarterback Kellen Moore

kellenmoore AP

The Lions might be working on bigger business, but they’re taking care of some smaller details today.

They announced they had re-signed quarterback Kellen Moore, who was scheduled to become a restricted free agent.

Moore hasn’t thrown a pass in the NFL yet (which is good news, considering what they have invested in Matt Stafford).

But they apparently feel the former Boise State star worth hanging onto, for something far less than the restricted free agent tender.

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Bears will get fifth-round pick for Brandon Marshall

Brandon Marshall AP

The Bears dealt wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Jets on Friday and they’ll be getting a mid-round draft pick in return.

According to multiple reports, the Jets will send a 2015 fifth-round pick to the Bears for Marshall as long as Marshall passes a physical following the third trade of his NFL career.

Assuming the Jets go on to release wide receiver Percy Harvin, they’ll be without their fifth- and sixth-round picks this year. Should the Jets hold onto Harvin, they’ll send their fourth-round selection to the Seahawks instead.

If Marshall is healthy, he’s a good bet to give the Jets more in 2015 than they would have gotten with a player picked with that selection. It would help if they had more certainty at quarterback, of course, but building up the supporting cast around Geno Smith and whoever else they bring in this offseason may have to suffice unless General Manager Mike Maccagnan has another big deal up his sleeve.

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Jacoby Jones lands with Chargers

Jacoby Jones AP

Wide receiver/kick returner Jacoby Jones has landed a new job.

According to multiple sources, Jones has signed a two-year deal with the Chargers. Jones also visited with the Bengals and Titans following his release from the Ravens last week.

Jones, who has four career punt return touchdowns, should slot in as the team’s lead punt returner with Eddie Royal headed for free agency and Keenan Allen playing a major role on offense. He’s also taken back four kickoffs for touchdowns in the last three regular seasons to go with his 108-yard score in Super Bowl XLVII, which should give him the inside track on that job as well.

How he might slot in on offense after catching just nine passes in Baltimore last year is less clear, but the Chargers likely had their eye on Jones as a return man first and foremost.

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Steelers sign QB Tajh Boyd

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The Steelers have added a recent Jets draft pick to their roster.

Pittsburgh has signed ex-Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, the club said Friday.

A sixth-round selection of the Jets in 2014, Boyd (6-1, 222) completed 8-of-17 passes for 98 yards and one touchdown in the preseason. The club waived him at the end of the exhibition slate, and he was not in the NFL last season.

The 24-year-old Boyd joins Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones as backups to starter Ben Roethlisberger.

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Brandon Marshall trade means Jets will jettison Percy Harvin

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The news that the Jets have traded for wide receiver Brandon Marshall surely means that Percy Harvin is on the way out.

Harvin, who arrived in New York via a trade with the Seahawks last year, carries a 2015 cap hit of $10.5 million. There’s no way the Jets, who already have Eric Decker at a cap hit of $6.5 million and have now added Marshall at a cap hit of $7.7 million, are going to keep Harvin at that price.

The Jets will likely explore trading Harvin, although it’s hard to see why any team would give anything up to get him when they know he’ll be released soon enough. And the Jets can’t wait too long to send Harvin packing because of the way their trade with the Seahawks was structured: If Harvin is still on the Jets’ roster on March 19, the Jets owe the Seahawks a fourth-round draft pick. If Harvin is not on the roster on March 19, the Jets only owe the Seahawks a sixth-round draft pick.

So expect to see Harvin, who started his career in Minnesota before going to Seattle and then New York, with a fourth team next season.

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Washington keeps Niles Paul with a three-year deal

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With a flurry of deals starting to happen today, Washington’s getting in on the act.

PFT has confirmed that tight end Niles Paul is staying in the nation’s capital.  It’s a three-year deal with a maximum value of just under $10 million.

Paul didn’t do much of anything his first three seasons, but emerged with 39 catches for 507 yards and a touchdown last year, and could have a bigger role moving forward.

The former wide receiver is a good option anyway, as Jordan Reed hasn’t proven himself the most durable of tight ends.

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