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Collinsworth preps for lockout by taking high school coaching job

ColllinsworthBengalsGetty Getty Images

As we wait to see whether the NFL will actually have a season in 2011, one prominent member of the media has decided not to sit around.

Cris Collinsworth, a 12-time Emmy winner, former Bengals wideout, and analyst on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, has decided to work as a high school assistant coach while he waits for the lockout to end.

Collinsworth explains at his FootballPros.com site that he’ll be coaching receivers for Highlands High School, at the invitation of head coach Dale Mueller.

“I laughed,” Collinsworth writes.  “He said he was serious.  The pay wasn’t much (zero), but he promised I would have fun.  My son Jac is one of the receivers on the team, and I had already polluted his brain with most of my receiving advice.

“But what the heck, the NFL will probably miss at least half of their season anyway, I agreed.  Today is my first day.  I just got the playbook and I feel like a first year rookie all over again.  The plays are scrambled eggs in my brain, and I feel a little anxious.”

The fact that folks like Collinsworth already are making alternative plans for football season should tell the rest of us everything we need to know.  It’s not looking good for the NFL to start on time in 2011, and the only real question at this point is whether there will be a truncated season or no season at all.

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Irsay will personally make G.M. hire

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 07:  Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay attends a press conference announcing Manning's release from the Colts at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on March 7, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 49ers have received some flak for conducting a coach and G.M. search without the involvement of senior football executives and/or high-level football consultants. The Colts may be getting more of the same.

Per a league source, owner Jim Irsay will be making the G.M. hire on his own.

As a result, the current thinking is that Irsay will lean toward promoting Jimmy Raye III in lieu of finding someone from outside the building, for several reasons. First, Irsay already knows Raye and is comfortable with him. Second, Raye likely would be more inclined to try to make it work with coach Chuck Pagano than an outsider would be.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, it will be easier for Irsay to put Raye and Pagano on equal footing from an accountability standpoint. If they fail, Irsay presses the reset button and starts over. If, in contrast, Irsay made a big splash by hiring someone from the outside, then that G.M. would surely survive the firing of Pagano — making it harder right from the get go to get the two men on the same page.

So why is Irsay engaging in a seemingly traditional search if Raye is the guy? Think back to the 49ers in 2011, who interviewed multiple outsiders before giving the job to Trent Baalke. The process of screening external candidates legitimizes the internal candidate who gets the job, creating the impression that we won some sort of a contest.

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Raiders hire ex-Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 14:  San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano gives instructions while playing the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium on December 14, 2014 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders have announced the hiring of John Pagano as assistant head coach-defense.

Pagano has 21 years of NFL coaching experience and spent the last 15 seasons with the Chargers. He was defensive coordinator the last five seasons, and in two of those seasons the Chargers ranked in the top 10 in total defense.

Raiders Coach Jack Del Rio retained defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., but the addition of Pagano is still considered a significant move for a defense that ranked in the bottom third of the league in total yards, rush defense and pass defense.

Pagano is the brother of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. John Pagano previously worked with Del Rio in New Orleans in 1997.

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Is NFL regretting the Chargers’ move to L.A.?

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01:  A San Diego Chargers fan reacts to a Kansas City Chiefs interception during the first half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 1, 2017 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The early days of the Chargers’ return to L.A. haven’t gone well. There’s now a question as to whether they’ve gone so poorly as to spark a full-fledged case of mover’s regret.

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com recently wrote that the move “angered NFL owners and executives just as much” as it angered folks in San Diego, if not more.

Per the report, the NFL has been “beside itself” regarding the move.

“There are a ton of owners very upset that [the Chargers] moved,” an unnamed source told Schefter, adding that the NFL actually wants the Chargers to move back to San Diego.

While there may be some who believe that the Chargers shouldn’t have moved and who may be pushing that agenda now, the prevailing view in league circles is that it’s a done deal. Indeed, it was a done deal a year ago, when the owners specifically gave the Chargers a 12-month window to move to L.A.

There was no equivocation or hesitation. The die was cast in January 2016, there was never a peep about it being a mistake for the ensuing 12 months, and then the Chargers opted to utilize the right to relocate.

As one source who is very well connected regarding franchise dynamics told PFT in response to the ESPN.com report, “I have heard nothing about it.”

There simply aren’t “a ton of owners” upset about the move. The more likely reality here is that some in the league office are sensing that the Chargers’ move to L.A. is going to be a debacle, and that they want to be able to say “I told you so” if/when the Chargers fail in L.A.

Regardless, the owners had a clear opportunity a year ago to tell Chargers owner Dean Spanos “no” to a move. The owners overwhelmingly allowed the Rams to move right away, and to give the Chargers the ability to do the same more than a year ago.

In the ensuing 12 months, there was never a public or private sense of remorse or regret. Yes, there was a periodic impression that owner Roger Goodell wanted to keep the team in San Diego, but there was never any report with the kind of specificity that has now emerged, far too late for it to matter.

Even if the Chargers would turn tail and return to San Diego, what would they do about a stadium? That’s the problem; the money isn’t available to build a stadium — unless Rams owner Stan Kroenke would be willing to write a very, very large check for exclusive rights to the L.A. market.

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Bills linebacker Zach Brown headed to Pro Bowl

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 4:  Linebacker Zach Brown #53 of the Buffalo Bills keeps tight end Mychal Rivera #81 of the Oakland Raiders out of the endzone on a 9-yard catch in the third quarter on December 4, 2016 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Raiders won 38-24.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills linebacker Zach Brown has been named to the Pro Bowl. He replaces Dont’a Hightower of the Patriots, who is instead playing in the Super Bowl.

Brown led the Bills and set a career high with 149 tackles in 2016. He also had four sacks, two forced fumbles, eight quarterback hits, one interception and 11 tackles for a loss.

He is making his first trip to the Pro Bowl. The Bills now have six players headed to the Jan. 29 Pro Bowl, the most the Bills have had in a single season since 1998.

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Melvin Gordon added to Pro Bowl

San Diego Chargers' Melvin Gordon (28) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts' Clayton Geathers (26) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) AP

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has been added to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.

Gordon missed the final three games of the 2016 season due to hip and knee injuries. His addition to the Pro Bowl indicates he’s been fully cleared and was held out in late December because the Chargers had been eliminated from playoff contention.

Gordon ran for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns in his second season after being kept out of the end zone as a rookie. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry and also had two receiving touchdowns.

Cornerback Casey Hayward is the only other Chargers player headed to the Pro Bowl, which will be played Sunday Jan. 29.

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Browns finalize four-year deal for Jamie Collins

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10: Wide receiver Steve Smith #89 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by outside linebacker Jamie Collins #51 of the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns announced on Monday that they have signed linebacker Jamie Collins to a new four-year contract.

A CBS Sports report last week said the sides were close on a four-year deal. NFL Network reported Monday that the deal is worth $50 million, $26 million guaranteed.

The Browns acquired Collins in a trade before the trade deadline last season. The Patriots traded him figuring they wouldn’t be able to meet his salary demands, and Collins started all eight games he played with the Browns. He had two sacks and a forced fumble in those eight games.

The Browns knew they were going to have pay a steep price to retain Collins, and they hope this new deal that makes him one of the highest-paid linebackers in football will be an important step in their rebuilding process.

“We are going to be aggressive about acquiring talent, and when we had the opportunity to trade for Jamie back in October, it was done with the intent of him becoming a long-term part of our defense,” Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said in a team statement. “Jamie has shown throughout his NFL career that he is a very talented player with a rare skill set that allows him to impact games in a number of ways.”

Had Collins hit the open market in March, he likely would have been one of the most coveted free agents at any position. A second-round pick in 2013, Collins had been a starter since his second year with the Patriots before the trade. He has 12.5 sacks and five interceptions over his four-year career.

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Drew Brees’ Pro Bowl snub is rectified

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints runs out on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on January 1, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Saints quarterback Drew Brees should have made it to the Pro Bowl as part of the original roster. He didn’t. He now has.

The team has announced that Brees will replace Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in the Pro Bowl. Ryan has a date with a slightly bigger game in Houston one week later.

It will be the 10th trip to the Pro Bowl for Brees and his ninth with the Saints. He generated more than 5,200 passing yards in 2017, the fifth time in his career he has broken that barrier. (There have been only four other 5,000-yard seasons in league history.) Brees also set an NFL record with 471 completions.

Brees has been performing at a high level for so long that his talents often get taken for granted. In a league that doesn’t have nearly enough great quarterbacks, the quarterback who recently turned 38 definitely will be missed when he’s gone.

The other NFC Pro Bowl quarterbacks are Kirk Cousins (who has replaced Aaron Rodgers) and Dak Prescott.

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Pacman Jones to cop: “I hope you die . . . You’re gonna be out of a job”

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 09:  Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones unleashed profane tirade on the Cincinnati police officer who arrested him on charges of obstructing official business, disorderly conduct, and assault three weeks ago.

Video from the officer’s car, obtained by TMZ, show Jones repeatedly calling the officer “a b–tch a– ni—-” and seeming to try to intimidate the officer.

“I hope you die tomorrow,” Jones said. “You’re gonna be out of a job tomorrow.”

The officer is not out of a job, but Jones might be soon. The arrest in and of itself was a strike against Jones, who has a significant history of off-field trouble. But when a player’s bad act is caught on video, it makes it much harder for a team to ignore.

There’s also the reality that Jones will turn 34 this year and has a $6.3 million base salary that the Bengals can clear off their books by cutting him. Although Jones started all 16 games in 2016, the Bengals may want to cut him purely for reasons related to age and the salary cap.

So regardless of how the legal case against Jones plays out, it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played his last game in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Police Department probably wouldn’t mind that.

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Stephon Gilmore lands in Pro Bowl

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 11:   Stephon Gilmore #24 of the Buffalo Bills can't make an interception thrown by  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half at New Era Field on December 11, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills would like to get all 53 players to a postseason game. They’ll have to settle for roughly 10 percent of that amount playing in the Pro Bowl.

Cornerback Stephon Gillmore has made it to the Pro Bowl, giving the Bills five Pro Bowlers. It’s the most they’ve had since 1998, when the Bills had six.

It’s unclear who Gilmore is replacing; the announcement from the team doesn’t say so. It’s also possible that he’s the second choice behind Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, who won’t be available to attend due to the team qualifying for the Super Bowl.

The AFC cornerbacks are Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Casey Hayward, and Chris Harris, Jr.

Gilmore would be wise to find a way out of the game. He’s due to become a free agent in March, and it makes no sense to risk injury as a major payday awaits.

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LeGarrette Blount: Tom Brady is the best ever, I don’t see an argument

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: LeGarrette Blount #29 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrate against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tom Brady: Great quarterback, or the greatest quarterback? To LeGarrette Blount, the answer is clear.

After Brady led the Patriots to yet another Super Bowl, his seventh as their starting quarterback, Blount told reporters in the Patriots’ locker room that he can’t think of any reason anyone would call any other quarterback better.

“He’s the greatest quarterback of all time. People can argue, but I don’t see an argument. He piles on stats and wins and everything on his resume. Obviously he’s going to be a first-ballot hall of famer. As long as you have that guy on your team . . . we’re going to always have a chance,” Blount said.

There are, of course, arguments. There are always arguments when sports fans debate who’s the greatest. Some might choose Otto Graham or Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana or Peyton Manning over Brady.

But Brady is making a stronger and stronger case, at an age when most players are washed up. And against the Falcons, Brady can make his case stronger still. He can become the first quarterback with five Super Bowl rings and the first player to win four Super Bowl MVPs, and he can add to his all-time Super Bowl records for passing yards and passing touchdowns. With each game he’s bolstering his already strong argument.

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Kyle Shanahan set for second meeting with 49ers on Saturday

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 22:  Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan celebrates with Matt Ryan #2 after defeating the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on January 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Falcons defeated the Packers 44-21.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons will spend this week starting their preparations for Super Bowl LI against the Patriots and they’ll be heading to Houston on Sunday, but offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will squeeze in a little business related to another team on Saturday.

By all accounts, Shanahan is the man the 49ers want to be their next head coach and Falcons coach Dan Quinn said at Monday’s press conference that Shanahan will be free to speak with the team on Saturday. It will be Shanahan’s second interview with the 49ers.

This conversation is also expected to include candidates for the team’s General Manager job. Vikings assistant G.M. George Paton and Cardinals vice president of player personnel are believed to be the two candidates still in the running for the job.

With the Falcons playing in the Super Bowl, the 49ers obviously won’t be able to hire him as their head coach until after the game comes to an end on February 5. The way Atlanta’s offense played during their run to the Super Bowl certainly makes that wait a bit easier to take.

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T.J. Lang pulls out of Pro Bowl, Josh Sitton takes his place

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: Josh Sitton #71 of the Chicago Bears moves to block Nigel Bradham #53 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field on September 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Eagles defeated hte Bears 29-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang spent five seasons as the starting tandem of guards for the Packers before the run ended with Sitton’s release ahead of the start of the 2016 season.

Sitton landed in Chicago shortly after being released, where he started 12 games for the Bears and garnered enough votes in the Pro Bowl process to be in position to replace an NFC guard who dropped out of the game. Sitton got that call on Monday and he’ll be replacing Lang.

Lang left Sunday’s NFC Championship Game loss to the Falcons after aggravating a foot injury. He’s also been dealing with a hip injury and will have arthroscopic surgery on Friday to deal with it. Lang is headed for free agency and said after the loss that he wants to remain in Green Bay.

Sitton won’t be able to reunite with Lang in Orlando, but he will get a chance to play with Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari again as Bakhtiari was also named as an injury replacement on Monday.

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Andy Dalton replaces Tom Brady in Pro Bowl

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 29:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the third quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium on September 29, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is preparing for the Super Bowl, so Brady is being replaced in the Pro Bowl by Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.

The Pro Bowl will be played this Sunday, Jan. 29, in Orlando.

Dalton also went to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and 2014. His call-up comes after a season in which he threw for 4,206 yards, the second-most in Bengals history behind his 4,923 in 2013.

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Add David Bakhtiari to the Pro Bowl roster

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: David Bakhtiari #69 of the Green Bay Packers cools off during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on September 11, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

The changes keep on coming to the rosters for this week’s Pro Bowl in Orlando.

Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari is the latest addition to the fun. He was announced as the replacement for Eagles left tackle Jason Peters, who has pulled out of the game because of an injury.

Bakhtiari started all 19 games that the Packers played this season and has missed only three games over his four years in Green Bay. He was named to the All-Pro second-team by the Associated Press, finishing behind Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith but ahead of the guy he’s replacing on the NFC roster.

It’s the first time Bakhtiari has been named to the Pro Bowl and he is the first Packers tackle to be selected for the game since Chad Clifton in 2010.

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Ladarius Green hopes next season “works out a lot better”

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04:  Ladarius Green #89 of the Pittsburgh Steelers cannot come up with a pass while being defended by Eli Apple #24 of the New York Giants in the second half during the game at Heinz Field on December 4, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 2016 season didn’t go as hoped for Steelers tight end Ladarius Green as it started and ended with injuries, but he said on Monday that he wants to be back in Pittsburgh for another chance next season.

Green, who signed with the Steelers last offseason, missed eight games while recovering from offseason ankle surgery to open the season and he missed the final five games with a concussion, which made it two straight years with brain injuries for the tight end. There were reports that lingering issues from the 2015 concussion also contributed to his early absence, but Green said that the ankle was the only issue and said Monday that he is ready to start working on a more positive outcome the next time around.

“Frustrating season but everybody has one. I hope it’s the only one I have,” Green said, via ESPN.com. “I’m going to go train as soon as I get home, and hopefully next season works out a lot better.”

Green had 18 catches for 304 yards and a touchdown in the six games he did play and seemed to fill a role in the Steelers passing game. That could be a boost in 2017, but Green will have to be healthy enough to provide it.

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