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Week 17 Monday 10-pack

Green Bay Packers quarterback Flynn hands off the ball against the Detroit Lions during the second half of their NFL football game in Green Bay Reuters

It’s the first Monday of the year, and it’s the last Monday 10-pack of the year.

I miss the days when football season ended before December 31.

As a setup goes, that’s all I got.  Let’s get on to the 10 takes from a 32-team season-ending Sunday.

1.  Packers should strongly consider franchising Flynn.

In 2008, after the first annual Brett Favre retirement, the Packers drafted two quarterbacks.  The gesture was interpreted by some (i.e., by us) as a bolting of the door behind Favre and the blocking of it with large pieces of furniture.

Brian Brohm, who entered the 2007 college football season as one of the top prospects, slid to the Packers in round two, pick 56.  LSU’s Matt Flynn was an afterthought, with pick number 209 in round seven.  Four seasons later, Brohm is long gone — and Flynn showed on Sunday that he’ll be the hottest commodity in the 2012 free-agent market.

If he gets there.

Like Matt Cassel of the Patriots in 2009, the Packers should think about slapping the franchise tag on Flynn, in order to trade him to a quarterback-needy team.  With Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III the best options in the draft, teams like the Redskins and Dolphins and Browns and maybe the Seahawks will be clamoring for a proven commodity like Flynn.

The risk, of course, is that Flynn would sign the franchise tag but no serious offers would come for his services, given that the starting point for a long-term deal would be the one-year guaranteed salary of $14.5 million or so in 2012.  If that would happen, the Packers would be stuck with a backup earning roughly $6.5 million more next year than starter Aaron Rodgers, who is due to earn a base salary of $8 million next season.

The other side of the coin is that Flynn will walk away with plenty of coins in his pockets — and zero compensation to the team that transformed him from a seventh-round pick into a guy who’ll be the most coveted quarterback not named Luck or Griffin.

2.  Rex should be on the hot seat.

Though it’s too early to fire Jets coach Rex Ryan, who has two appearances in the AFC title game in three seasons as a head coach, he deserves the pressure that goes along with the accountability for guaranteeing a Super Bowl win (and, even more importantly in New York, a win over the Giants) and failing to deliver.  Only so many times can a head coach protect his players and assistants by saying “put the blame on me” until someone decides to put the blame on him.

Yes, his players seem to still believe.  More importantly, the owner seems to still believe.  But the players and the owner may believe a little less in 2012 — especially if Rex emerges from a disappointing 2011 season (in light of the expectations fueled by Ryan) as brash and bold as ever.

Beyond the boundaries of his team, Rex has become a caricature.  (Some would say he already was one.)  If that sense ever makes its way into the locker room, and eventually it should, it’ll be time to move on.

Apart from all the words, it’s one specific action that could, as a practical matter, put Rex in a position to be coaching for his job in 2012.  The misguided decision to make receiver Santonio Holmes a captain, given that Holmes spent much of the year not acting like a captain, could come back to haunt Ryan.

Arguably, it already is.  And now Rex has a mess on his hands, especially since a guy who spent much of Sunday acting like he didn’t want to be with the Jets signed a long-term, big-money deal before the season.

3.  Steelers fleeced Jets on Holmes.

Speaking of Santonio, Steelers fans didn’t care much for the abrupt decision to trade Holmes to New York for a fifth-round pick in 2010.  With a four-game suspension for violation of the substance-abuse policy coming on the heels of Ben Roethlisberger’s misadventures in Milledgeville, it was perceived that the Steelers’ decision was driven less by football strategy and more by public relations sensitivities.

But the Steelers were looking ahead.  With Holmes due to miss the first four games of the 2010 season and one wake-n-bake away from a one-year suspension, the Steelers opted to unload a potential headache — especially since the Steelers knew they’d never tie their hands by giving Holmes a huge contract.

And so the Steelers didn’t simply get a fifth-round pick.  The Steelers also received the peace of mind that comes from dumping a wideout who would have been a major pain in the butt for the balance of 2010, and who simply no longer factored into their plans.

Meanwhile, the Steelers traded that fifth-round pick to the Cardinals for cornerback Bryant McFadden and a sixth-round pick.  And with that sixth-round pick the Steelers found their 2011 MVP in round six of the same draft.  Receiver Antonio Brown has become almost everything Holmes was as a player, without creating any of the headaches or other issues that go hand in hand with having Holmes on the team.

Advantage Steelers.

4.  Texans-Bengals game could be the key to the AFC playoffs.

I’ve been concerned throughout much of the 2011 season that, once the Texans get to the postseason, a lack of playoff experience would keep them from being successful.  But their first opponent is the Bengals, a team with young players having no playoff experience and, by all appearances, no players having any positive playoff experiences.

So the Texans, who beat the Bengals last month after trailing 16-3 at the half and 19-10 after three quarters, will have a very good shot at holding off the No. 6 seed.  Taking a broader look at the AFC field, the outcome of that game could have a huge bearing on the determination of the eventual conference champion.

If Houston holds serve at home, it will be time for a return to Baltimore, where the Ravens’ eight regular-season wins included a trouncing of the Texans.  The Steelers, after most likely beating Denver, will head to New England.

Though Baltimore would have to face one of those two potent teams (either Pittsburgh at home, where the Ravens won 35-7 in Week One or the Patriots in New England, where the Ravens won in the playoffs two years ago, 33-14), the Ravens wouldn’t have to play both of them.  Which, for the Ravens, is nice.

If, in contrast, the Bengals upset the Texans, Cincinnati would head to Foxboro — and Pittsburgh would return to Baltimore with a burst of momentum and a shot at becoming the latest wild-card winner to catch a division rival flat-footed after a bye week and knock them out of the playoffs.  If Baltimore manages to beat the Steelers for a third time this year, the reward would be a trip to New England.

The converse is true for the Pats.  A win by the Bengals keeps New England from having to play both Pittsburgh and Baltimore.  If Houston wins, the Patriots would have to face a Steelers team that gave New England one of its three 2011 losses before inviting the Ravens back to town.

One way or the other, the outcome of Saturday’s game will make the path to Indy considerably easier for New England or Baltimore, by sending the Steelers to one place or the other.

5.  Crossroads for Daniel Snyder.

The Redskins became the property of Daniel Snyder in 1999.  In the 13 seasons since then, Snyder has employed (excluding interim hires) six head coaches.  Other than Snyder’s boyhood hero, Joe Gibbs, no coach has made it more than two seasons on the job.

Mike Shanahan has just completed his second season on the job.  Recently, Shanahan has been subtly justifying his two losing seasons by explaining that much work needed to be done to improve the bad team he inherited.  And while there’s no indication that Shanahan will be fired, there likewise was no indication that the end was coming three years ago for Shanahan in Denver.

The bigger question for Snyder is whether he’s willing to stay the course not only now but after the 2012 season.  If Shanahan and G.M. Bruce Allen position themselves to land Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III in the draft, it would be foolish to give Shanahan only one year to work with the new quarterback.

And so Snyder needs to realize that, by deciding to keep Shanahan now, Snyder essentially is deciding to keep Shanahan for 2013 — and possibly for 2014.

6.  Another Manning/Leaf dilemma coming?

Speaking (twice now) of Luck and Griffin, what once was a one-man show at the top of the draft quickly has become another Peyton Manning vs. Ryan Leaf conundrum.  On Sunday’s Football Night In America, former Colts coach Tony Dungy explained that Colts vice chairman Bill Polian has shown a willingness to go against conventional wisdom in the draft, taking Edgerrin James in 1999 over Ricky Williams and Dwight Freeney over Albert Haynesworth in 2002.

Dungy even said he’d personally lean toward Griffin, the Heisman winner and architect of a 67-point explosion in Baylor’s bowl win.

Luck still has one more chance to create some separation, when Stanford takes on Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.  Despite the obsession over measurables and the things a guy can do when not wearing pads, scouts seem to be influenced heavily by performances on the big stage.

What Luck does with it could ultimately determine whether Luck and Griffin will become another Manning and Leaf dilemma, which despite being a no-brainer in hindsight was a much closer call in 1998.

7.  Pay the Cruz.

Giants receiver Victor Cruz has made, in two seasons, the unlikely climb from undrafted free agent to superstar.  Nearly as shrewd as the Giants’ decision to give him a chance was their decision to sign him to a three-year contract.

And so Cruz remains contractually obligated to show up for mandatory offseason workouts and training camp in 2012, despite being slated to earn a paltry $490,000.

But the Giants need to send a message to the locker room that stellar play will be rewarded.  While they could force Cruz to continue to prove himself — and to bear the injury risk — for the final year of his rookie deal and a season as a restricted free agent, the best move would be to find a way to pay him a fair salary that reflects not only his skills and abilities but also the contributions he made during a season that seemed destined for failure again.

In each of the last two games, a long-yardage catch-and-run from Cruz gave the Giants the upper hand.  It’s only right to put a lot more money in the guy’s pockets.

8.  Broncos should get Quinn ready to play Sunday.

Tebowmania landed with a thud 15 days ago, with the Patriots providing the rest of the league with the blueprint for turning the page on the NFL’s flavor of the month.

As a result, Tim Tebow has played worse than poorly the last two weeks, with as many turnovers against the Bills and Chiefs (six) as Tebow had in his 10 prior games combined.

Enter the Steelers, who have made crafted their legacy over the past two decades by methodically building a lead and then gradually choking off the opposing offense.

As a result, if the Broncos want to have a realistic shot at advancing, it may be prudent to be ready to pull off a Rocky-style switch to southpaw, by switching from the southpaw to Brady Quinn.

This isn’t a long-term indictment of Tebow.  It’s a recognition of the fact that, at least for now, he has bumped up against his ceiling.  The goal on Sunday is to win one game, and it could be that the only way to do that will be to know when to flip the switch from the unconventional quarterback to the guy whose abilities would defy the Steelers’ preparation.

9.  MJD deserves high praise.

Every year, there’s a sense that Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has reached the limit of his abilities, and that a regression is coming.  Every year, he simply continues to play at a high level.

This year, on a team with no passing offense to draw safeties away from the box, Jones-Drew piled up 1,606 rushing yards, more than 240 yards better than Ray Rice, who finished at No. 2.  Jones-Drew added 374 receiving yards, which gives him 1,980 yards from scrimmage.

At a time when former USC tailback Reggie Bush is still trying to become the best running back in the game, the former UCLA running back who entered the league in the same draft as an afterthought to Bush is what Bush has always wanted to be.  Unfortunately for Jones-Drew, the Jaguars may not be able to develop a decent passing game before the window closes on his prime.

10.  Packers defense is even worse than the Patriots.

All year, the media has harped on the Patriots’ porous defense, barely noticing the Swiss cheese sieve in Green Bay.

At the end of the season, the numbers don’t lie.  The Patriots gave up 411.1 yards per game, and the Packers gave up 411.6.

The Packers also finished with a worse pass defense, giving up 299.8 yards per game.  The Pats surrendered, on average, 293.9.  That’s 34.1 yards per game more than the third-worst pass defense, the Saints.

Fittingly, the three worst pass defenses are complemented by the three best pass offenses.

And so, if the top two seeds make it to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl (or if the Saints get there instead of the Packers), it could be time to reduce the field from 100 yards to 50, put up nets at either end, and just call the game what it will be — arena football.

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Report: Seahawks, Bobby Wagner work out a deal

Wagner Getty Images

On Friday, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner responded to the news of a new deal for quarterback Russell Wilson by tweeting: “Can’t keep everyone.”

Wagner may be right, but the Seahawks will be keeping him.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Seahawks and Wagner have agreed to terms on a contract extension.

No other details have yet been reported or released. For Seahawks fans, they don’t matter; the team’s two biggest pending free agents as of 48 hours ago now aren’t.

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Von Miller exits substance-abuse program

Cardinals Broncos Football AP

Two years ago, Broncos linebacker Von Miller missed the first six games of the season as part of a negotiated resolution under the substance abuse policy, based on allegations that he conspired with a sample collector to beat drug tests.

Now, Miller has stayed clean long enough to exit the substance-abuse program entirely, according to Mike Klis of KUSA-TV.

Miller’s exit from the program is one of the new wrinkles of the substance-abuse policy as revised in 2014. Previously, a player who landed in Stage 3 of the program remained there for the rest of his career. Now, the player has a path not only out of Stage 3 but also out of the program entirely, if he avoids any violation for 24 months.

The development increases Miller’s marketability, as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. It also means that, like all players not in the program, he faces only one substance-abuse test per year, in a window that ironically opens on 4/20. After that, he won’t be tested against until the next year.

If Miller fails one of the annual tests, he would return to Stage 1 of the program. He’d then be subject to the new formula for determining disciplining: two-game fine, four-game fine, four-game suspension, 10-game suspension, and minimum one-year banishment.

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Eagles trade Brandon Boykin to Steelers

St. Louis Rams v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

In an unusual trade at the start of training camp, cornerback Brandon Boykin is heading from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.

The Steelers gave up a conditional 2016 fifth-round pick to get Boykin from the Eagles.

At 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, Boykin was viewed as too small for what the Eagles were trying to do defensively. Still, this trade comes as a surprise, especially considering that Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis had been saying that Boykin was one of his favorite players and could start in the slot.

In Pittsburgh, Boykin joins a secondary where Cortez Allen and William Gay are the likely starting cornerbacks. Pittsburgh also drafted cornerback Senquez Golson in the second round and cornerback Doran Grant in the fourth round.

A 2012 fourth-round pick of the Eagles, the 25-year-old Boykin is heading into the final season of his rookie contract.

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Typo for now: NFL calls San Antonio a “team market”

SanAntonio Getty Images

When I was a kid, I’d study the back of the cereal box while eating breakfast. In time, it became the baseball box scores from the local newspaper — back when they actually put box scores in the local paper and still had, you know, local newspapers.

Now, I’ve trade the Crunch Berries box and the box scores for the NFL Record & Fact Book. An annual publication I’ve acquired every year since 2000, it’s a great tool for eating with one hand and flipping pages with the other, with virtually stop teaching me something I didn’t already know or giving me an idea for something to share with you.

Here’s something that caught my attention, at page 320 of the 2015 edition, which has Malcolm Butler making an interception and Tom Brady hoisting a trophy on the cover.

At page 320, the book lists the top 100 TV markets for 2015, with NFL team markets in bold. Sandwiched between Columbus at No. 32 (not in bold) and Salt Lake City at No. 34 (not in bold) is San Antonio at (you guessed it) No. 33. In bold.

First thought: Maybe it’s a team market because it’s close enough to Dallas or Houston. So I checked the 2014 version. San Antonio was No. 36, and it didn’t appear in bold print.

It’s surely a typo, with whoever formatted the page accidentally putting San Antonio in bold even though San Antonio isn’t an NFL team market. Still, with the Raiders unable to work out a new stadium deal in Oakland, with the Rams and Chargers hoping to get the two seats in L.A., and with limited temporary locations for a pair of teams to play in Los Angeles while the new stadium is built, San Antonio remains a viable destination for the Raiders, either as a permanent home or as a temporary alternative to L.A., if the Raiders get the green light to return to Southern California.

Ten years ago, San Antonio provided a temporary location for three Saints games after a hurricane ravaged New Orleans. Last year, the Raiders openly flirted with San Antonio. And San Antonio presumably remains interested in bringing the Raiders or another team to town — especially since it’s bigger than five markets that already host NFL teams: Cincinnati (No. 36), Jacksonville (No. 48), New Orleans (No. 51), Buffalo (No. 52), and Green Bay (No. 68).

Again, it undoubtedly was a typo. But the fact that someone who works for the league saw “San Antonio” and mistakenly thought “team market” shows that San Antonio is indeed on the fringes of cities that could lure a team — especially if San Antonio is willing to kick in the kind of taxpayer money that plenty of other cities currently aren’t.

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Hall of Fame softens its stance on Sydney Seau speaking

Seau Getty Images

Five-year-old policies were made to be modified.

Sydney Seau, daughter of deceased linebacker Junior Seau, will be given opportunities to speak at next week’s Hall of Fame induction activities, according to Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com.

She won’t be giving an induction speech in place of her late father. However, Sydney and her three brothers will participate in the unveiling of Seau’s bust, and Sydney will be interviewed on stage after the sheet is removed from the permanent bronze memorial to Junior Seau.

Sydney also will be given an opportunity to make remarks during Thursday night’s “Gold Jacket” ceremony, which will be televised by NFL Network.

“Our goal was to try and keep our policy but also show some compassion and understanding,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker told FOX Sports. “Through all the conversations, Sydney has always been great.”

In 2010, the Hall of Fame adopted a policy preventing speeches to be given on behalf of deceased inductees. Failure to publicize or communicate the policy helped create a controversy regarding whether Sydney Seau was being silenced, due to the family’s pursuit of a lawsuit against the NFL alleging that concussions triggered Junior Seau’s 2012 suicide.

“She will have the opportunity to say whatever she wants to say but we will still maintain our policy,” Baker said. “We want this to be a great day for Sydney and her family. Should she choose not to speak afterward, that should be OK.”

The induction ceremony also will include an extended video presentation on behalf of Seau. At 6.5 minutes, the Seau video exceeds the normal video introduction by three minutes.

Now, here’s hoping that the speeches given by the living inductees will each come in at under 30 minutes. Or 20. Or ten.

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Haslam: Despite what you’ve heard, we still believe in Manziel

Indianapolis Colts v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

Reports out of Cleveland this offseason that the Browns have given up on Johnny Manziel were unfounded, according to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

“Despite what everybody reads and says, we’ve not at all given up on Johnny,” Haslam said, via Cleveland.com. “We think he has the potential to be a good football player. Now, having the potential and doing it are two different things, but I think we’ve said numerous times that you’re not going to win consistently in this league without a good quarterback and we’re trying to make that happen.”

Haslam said the Browns are willing to be patient with Manziel and wait for him to be their starter. Josh McCown is expected to start this year, although Browns coach Mike Pettine has said McCown isn’t just being handed the job.

“I think it’s important — everybody forgets he’s barely 22 years old,” said Haslam. “He’s still young, so I think over the next couple of years we’ve got to see if Johnny can be a legitimate quarterback or not. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him or our coaches to say it has to happen this year.”

Still, if Manziel doesn’t show anything this year, that would be two seasons in which he gave the Browns nothing. That’s not what they thought they were getting when they chose him in the first round of the 2014 draft. At some point, Manziel has to show he can play, or the Browns really will give up on him.

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Report: Devin Smith has punctured lung

Devin Smith AP

With the inevitable launch of training camps comes the inevitable parade of injuries. For the Jets, it turns out that the broken ribs suffered by rookie receiver Devin Smith also include damage to an internal organ.

Via Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, Smith suffered a “slightly” punctured lung as part of the injury that occurred after making a leaping catch at training camp.

His status for the regular-season opener against the Browns remains unknown. He’s expected to at least miss the rest of camp.

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Eli Manning doesn’t care about Russell Wilson’s contract

Eli Getty Images

Is Eli Manning a better quarterback then Russell Wilson? One way to determine that could be to compare their paychecks.

Eli Manning isn’t interested in that approach.

“No, I’m not into the comparison about how much money you’re making,’’ Manning said Friday, via Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “That’s not my concern.’’

So what is his concern?

“Right now my concern is getting on this practice field for our first practice,” Manning said before the team’s initial session of training camp. “I’m excited about that and just let the business side of it just work itself out.”

Instead, he’s worried about a different set of numbers.

“Our goal is to try to get 27 to 30 points per game,” Manning said.

Another key number is 70. That’s the percentage of passes he hopes to complete. (Last year he connects on 63.1 percent.)

Before any of that happens, Manning and the Giants could indeed work out a new contract. Wherever the process ends, it begins with Aaron Rodgers at $22 million per year in new money, and with Wilson right behind Rodgers at $21.9 million per year in new money.

With $17 million already due in 2015, Manning would need a five-year, $105 million deal to match Rodgers. Anything more than that would make Eli Manning the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL — and highest-paid player in league history.

Until, of course, Philip Rivers signs a new deal. And then until Andrew Luck signs a new deal. And so on, as the cap keeps going up and the best quarterbacks in the game keep signing new contracts.

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Broncos’ Kyle Williams out for season with torn Achilles

Kyle Williams AP

Broncos receiver Kyle Williams suffered a season-ending injury at today’s training camp practice.

Williams has confirmed that he tore his Achilles and won’t play in 2015.

“Unfortunately, today I suffered an injury to my Achilles and will consequently be missing this season,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “It’s hard for me at this point to make sense of all of this but at the end of the day I understand and trust God’s plan for me. My determination to get back and my work ethic will not diminish and I will eventually get back to full strength. I appreciate all those who have reached out and all of those who are praying. You all mean more to me than u know. Thank you.”

Williams’s long injury history makes it questionable whether he’ll be able to make it back to the NFL. His 2013 season ended with a torn ACL, and in 2014 he didn’t play beyond the preseason after suffering a shoulder injury.

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Saturday one-liners

Rex AP

Bills coach Rex Ryan says he’d do his job for “a heck of a lot less [money]; way, way, way less.”

For the Dolphins, when the pads come on the focus turns to the battle at left guard.

Patriots RB James White starts his second training camp with a “more aggressive approach.”

The Jets may have “personal agendas” interfering with success, based on comments on Friday from former head coach Rex Ryan.

Steve Smith could be the 2015 punt returner for the Ravens.

Browns WR Dwayne Bowe has “no doubt” that Terrelle Pryor will make the roster.

The Steelers are focusing on their kickoff return unit in training camp.

WR Nate Washington could be starting across from DeAndre Hopkins for the Texans.

Here are five priorities for the Colts during training camp.

Jaguars WR Marqise Lee was “noticeably inconsistent” during his first practice of training camp.

Titans NT Sammie Hill says he’ll likely sit out the first week or two of camp due to a sprained knee suffered during offseason workouts.

Broncos DE Malik Jackson strained his left calf on the first day of training camp.

Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson is ready to prove that he still has it.

Raiders WR Michael Crabtree looked like a playmaker in his first practice with the team.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is bracing for the speed of training camp.

Cowboys TE Jason Witten isn’t afraid to talk about the team’s goal of winning a Super Bowl.

Giants rookie LT Ereck Flowers says he’s made a lot of progress, and that he hopes to keep progressing.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly wants a bigger indoor practice facility. (And there’s one of the reasons he’ll potentially cite if/when he tries to finagle a jump to Tennessee after the season.)

A mere 3,341 fans showed up for the first day of training camp practice for Washington.

Bears DE-turned-LB Willie Youngdoesn’t know anything” about his new position, but he’s “ready for whatever”; “I go fishing and the forecast says it isn’t going to rain, but it might rain,” Young said.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell has no concerns about the right tackle situation.

Packers WR Jared Abbrederis suffered a concussion on Thursday.

Vikings DE Everson Griffen has big goals; “I want to be the world. But it’s up to me to put in the consistency and the hard work, starting right now, to get where I want to go. I want to be great, so Hall of Fame, I’ve got to work.”

Falcons RB Antone Smith is healthy and confident heading into camp.

Panthers LB Thomas Davis is adding “Sr.” to his jersey, at his seven-year-old son’s request.

Saints WR Brandin Cooks has no doubt about his ability to become the team’s No. 1 option in the passing game.

Buccaneers WR Mike Evans says last year’s team was “the best 2-14 team ever.” (The 1996 Jets were a Week 17 field goal away from getting into the conversation.)

It’s all systems go for Cardinals QB Carson Palmer.

Rams RB Todd Gurley participated in 15 minutes of individual drills during his first training camp practice.

49ers DL Arik Armstead has made a good impression so far.

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett is focused on becoming a team leader.

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Jets promote Jacqueline Davidson to director of football administration

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Jacqueline Davidson, who has spent nine years working in the NFL, has been promoted by the Jets to the position of director of football administration.

Davidson will replace Rod Graves, who recently left the Jets’ front office to take a position in the league office.

During her tenure with the Jets, Davidson has been the team’s top negotiator on player contracts, and she received credit this offseason when the Jets landed one of the biggest prizes in free agency, Darrelle Reivs. Davidson’s responsibilities also include managing the salary cap and ensuring that the team complies with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and league personnel rules.

“Jackie has served as an integral part of our football administration efforts under Rod Graves this offseason,” Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan said. “She’s bright and talented and she has earned this opportunity.”

The appointment makes Davidson one of the highest-ranking women to work in an NFL front office. Along with the hiring of Jen Welter as a Cardinals assistant, Beth Mowins as the Raiders’ play-by-play voice and Sarah Thomas as an official, this news points to positive progress in the NFL.

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Andy Dalton shrugs at All-Star boos

Dalton Getty Images

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton played in the celebrity softball game held in conjunction with the All-Star Week festivities in Cincinnati. He heard boos. He prefers to focus on the cheers.

They didn’t boo when I hit my two home runs,” Dalton said Friday, via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I think I heard lots of cheers. I think that whole thing, it wasn’t everybody. I think if you look at a video or two it makes it seem like it’s more than it was.

“There’s a lot of loyal fans, a lot of people that have backed me and have supported me. That’s all I’ve heard. So it’s unfortunate that was the reaction, initially, but after hitting a couple home runs it was a lot of cheers.”

In Dalton’s fifth NFL season with no playoff wins, the real question is whether there will be cheers in January — or justifiable boos before then.

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Broncos’ Kyle Williams carted off practice field

Denver Broncos mini camp at Dove Valley Getty Images

Broncos receiver Kyle Williams’s bad luck with injuries has continued.

Williams was carted off the practice field at training camp in Denver today after suffering an apparent right knee injury while returning a punt.

In 2013, Williams suffered a torn ACL in his first game with the Chiefs. In 2014, Williams suffered a shoulder injury in the Chiefs’ final preseason game and didn’t make the regular-season roster.

Williams was once viewed as a promising young receiver and special teams player for the 49ers, but his inability to stay healthy may cut his career short.

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Bernard Pollard: I don’t like Tom Brady, but he shouldn’t be suspended

T. Brady B. Pollard AP

Bernard Pollard and Tom Brady aren’t exactly simpatico. It was Pollard who ended Brady’s 2008 season with a Week One shot to the knee, and Pollard and Brady have clashed in other games as well.

But when it comes down to Brady vs. Roger Goodell, Pollard takes Brady’s side.

“I do not like Tom Brady as a competitor, somebody that’s playing against him because he is a competitive player. I respect the piss out of him because the guy knows how to win. The guy, you can say whatever you want about him, but he is a true champion,” Pollard said on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Pollard says he suspects that other quarterbacks have thrown deflated footballs and just haven’t been caught, and Pollard doesn’t believe a four-game suspension is appropriate.

“Do I feel that he should be suspended four games? I’m going to tell you, no,” he said. “This dude is a competitor, man. I don’t think he should’ve been suspended for four games. But I’m not the commissioner, I’m not on that committee that suspended him, and I know he’s going to fight tooth and nail like he does on the field to get back on the field with his team.”

Brady isn’t done fighting to get back on the field. And even some of the opponents who don’t like him are rooting for him to win his fight against Goodell.

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Russell Wilson’s full guarantee at signing? $31.7 million

Wilson

In the aftermath of the news that the Seahawks had signed quarterback Russell Wilson to a new deal, many said, “I knew it. The Seahawks won’t never let Wilson get away.” This implies that the Seahawks blinked, making Wilson the highest-paid player in the NFL and/or paying him as if he were already a free agent and/or fully guaranteeing an enormous percentage of the contract.

The Seahawks didn’t blink.

Apart from the fact that the Seahawks will pay Wilson considerably less now than they would have paid Wilson if he had gotten to February healthy and effective (and possibly with another Super Bowl appearance or win), the Seahawks won convincingly on the much-discussed topic of guaranteed money.

Like many big-dollar contracts without big amounts of fully-guaranteed money, initial reports mentioned Wilson’s guaranteed payout of $60 million without specifying how much of it is fully guaranteed at signing, beyond the signing bonus and the first-year base salary. In this case, that’s because none of the amount is fully-guaranteed beyond the signing bonus and the first-year base salary.

Per a source with knowledge of the terms, the $31 million signing bonus and the $700,000 base salary for 2014 are fully guaranteed. The rest of the guaranteed money is guaranteed for injury only.

Which makes it not really “guaranteed.”

On the fifth day of the 2016 waiver period, Wilson’s $12.342 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed. On the fifth day of the 2017 waiver period, Wilson’s $12.6 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed. On the fifth day of the 2018 waiver period, $4.9 million of Wilson’s base salary of $15.5 million becomes fully-guaranteed.

It means that $31.7 million is fully guaranteed at signing, and that another $29.842 million is guaranteed only for injury at signing. It also means that Seahawks owner Paul Allen won’t have to place any portion of the future injury-guaranteed money into escrow.

For Wilson, he swapped a $1.542 million base salary for 2015 and the possibility of getting a lot more later for a fairly large bird in the hand now. Whether it’s viewed as $21.9 million per year in new money or $17.8 million per year in total value, it’s a lot more than Wilson has made in three NFL seasons. And it was the smart and prudent choice to make.

Besides, if he’d decided to finish the rookie contract and push for more in 2016, at some point he would have risked alienating fans who may have perceived him as selfish. Even though players should grab every last dollar they can while they can, it remains a team sport. And if a player is going to work hard (i.e., “Go ‘Hawks!”) to create the impression that he puts the team above himself, it becomes awkward if it appears that he’s putting himself above the team.

As to the guaranteed money, the reality is that franchise quarterbacks typically cash every check of their contracts, regardless of whether the money is fully guaranteed. Barring developments unforeseen and unlikely, Wilson will be with the Seahawks through 2019 — and probably beyond.

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