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Special Monday 10-pack: Winners and losers in free agency

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Only six days ago, the free-agent market opened.  One of the biggest classes of veteran players, with some of the biggest names, landed on the market.

Apart from the Peyton chase, much of the dust has settled.

And so now we’re required by the laws of football analysis to tell you who won and who lost, even though we won’t really know the answer until they start playing games.

Which, you know, will feature winners and losers.

1. Winner:  Eagles.

Last year, with a compressed offseason and a new defensive coordinator who had been an offensive line coach for 14 prior seasons, the Eagles foolishly embarked on a spending spree, bringing in a bunch of big-name players and setting the stage for a Wonderlic pick-sixer blurting out the dreaded “Dream Team” label.

Apart from the challenge of getting a bunch of new employees on the same page quickly, the move surely caused some of the men already under contract to wonder why they weren’t getting a share of the free-agency windfall.

This year, the Eagles have focused on taking care of their own, which is a much better way to ensure that a true spirit of team will take over the locker room.

Perhaps most importantly, the Eagles have set the stage for receiver DeSean Jackson to turn back the clock to 2009, when he wasn’t concerned about staying healthy and/or getting paid.  The Eagles have addressed those concerns via a long-term deal that, in comparison to some of the too-heavy contracts given to lesser receivers and in light of Jackson’s rocky recent history, looks like a win-win.

Maybe that means “win” will be a more common term in the term’s vocabulary this season.

2.  Winner:  Packers.

G.M. Ted Thompson rarely makes a big splash in free agency.  The biggest exception came in 2006, when at the very public urging of quarterback Brett Favre the team signed cornerback Charles Woodson.

Other than that, the Packers under Thompson take a very conservative approach, building through the draft and using free agency on a limited basis, with low-cost talent addressing specific needs.

It’s not sexy this time of year.  But this isn’t the time of year when championships are won.  Unlike downtrodden organizations (such as the Packers themselves in 1993, when Reggie White chose Green Bay from a long list of suitors), the Packers don’t need to do anything to fire up the fan base or breathe life into the franchise.

It’s the right approach for this specific team.  The Packers have won, once again, by doing nothing.

3.  Winner:  Bills.

Speaking of downtrodden organizations, no team needed a big-ticket free agent like Mario Williams more than the Bills.  And they went all in, pulling out all the stops and persuading Williams to spend two nights in town and eventually getting the job done.

It gives Buffalo and the Bills a major boost, igniting intense local interest and legitimate national attention.  It also makes good football sense; defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt now has a player around whom the team’s new 4-3 defense can be built.

It wasn’t cheap, and it may prove to be a mistake.  But it was a risk the Bills needed to make if they ever hope to become relevant again.

4.  Winner:  Patriots.

At first, it looked like the Pats would follow the Pack’s “closed for business” approach to the early days of free agency.  But with needs at receiver, they’ve added a player in Brandon Lloyd who’ll have a far bigger impact than Chad Ochocinco (then again, the bar is low), and they’ve given Wes Welker a little cause for concern by landing a candidate to play slot receiver in Anthony Gonzalez.

They’ve also addressed an area of need on defense, adding the once-promising Trevor Scott to the rotation of recently underachieving pass rushers.

The Pats could still use a true deep threat to clear out all the underneath traffic.  But even if Lloyd is the biggest addition, the team that nearly won the Super Bowl in 2011 will be contending again in 2012.

5.  Winner:  Chiefs.

Yes, they were denied admission to the Peyton chase.  But let’s not forget that, despite all the dysfunction and key injuries of 2011, the Chiefs weren’t far away from winning the weakest division in the NFL.

Unlike most teams, the Chiefs found bargains even before the market softened, adding running back Peyton Hillis to a one-year, fire-under-butt-lighting $2.6 million contract, tight end Kevin Boss for three years and $9 million, right tackle Eric Winston, and backup quarterback Brady Quinn.

Hillis and Quinn played for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in Cleveland, adding some familiarity to the new Romeo Crennel regime.  Winston addresses a key area of need, and Boss gives the Chiefs a second pass-catching tight end, which apparently is now a mandatory requirement for any team that hopes to be highly successful in the passing game.

Next up, don’t be surprised if Crennel lures another former Brown to Kansas City, with linebacker Kamerion Wimbley on the market.

6.  Loser:  Dolphins.

Peter King of SI.com chronicles a decade of bizarre personnel moves by the Dolphins, but the organization is now developing another troubling reputation:  anyone with options won’t opt for Miami.

It began last year with owner Stephen Ross clumsily pursuing coach Jim Harbaugh, which painted a vivid picture of disloyalty to coach Tony Sparano.  It continued in 2012 when Ross tried, and failed, to lure coach Jeff Fisher to town.  And it spread to the ranks of players in 2012, with Peyton Manning showing tepid interest at best in joining the team (even though some believed it was a done deal that he’d be a Dolphin).  Then, Matt Flynn’s decision to play for the Seahawks instead of former Packers coordinator/Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin did more than raise eyebrows — especially when followed by Steelers safety Ryan Clark proclaiming that “no one” wants to play for the Dolphins.

It’s possible that Philbin simply wasn’t all that interested in Flynn, and that Philbin knows  Flynn’s pair of high-end performances (one in 2010 and one in 2011) won’t translate to being an effective week-in, week-out starter, once opposing defenses have a chance to study enough of his film and figure him out.  If that’s the case, the Dolphins shouldn’t have even brought him to town for a visit.  By doing so, it creates the impression that they wanted him — and that yet again they failed to get their man.

Correct or not, there’s now a perception that no one of significant consequence wants to work for the Dolphins.  And the harder Ross tries to turn the page by making a “big splash,” the more likely it is that he’ll continue to swing the bat and hit himself in the face with it.

7.  Loser:  Saints.

With Bountygate lingering, the Saints had even more reason to work out a new, long-term deal with Drew Brees.  And yet the Saints continue to fail to find a middle ground with their franchise quarterback.

There’s a chance Brees simply wants too much.  But here’s the problem:  He deserves it.  The best NFL quarterback of the last six years, if he wants to max out his contract, then he should.

And as to the idea that he needs to leave some money behind so that the Saints can field a competitive team given the salary cap, here’s one important point:  It never stopped the Colts from being competitive when Peyton got every last dollar he could.

And while it’s good that the Saints kept receiver Marques Colston, they lost Robert Meachem.  And while it’s good that they lured Ben Grubbs away from Baltimore, the lost Carl Nicks.

More importantly, they’ve yet to do anything to address needs on defense, which could become even more significant once the suspensions come down.

8.  Loser:  Vikings.

Good teams can afford to sit on the sidelines in the early days of free agency.  The Vikings are not a good team.

With plenty of cap room and a tenuous stadium situation and a fan base that may choose to do things other than attend or watch Vikings games this season, the franchise needed to make a splash.  Not a Mario Williams cannonball; but something more significant than a John Carlson dog paddle.

It’s doesn’t mean the Vikings should go hog wild.  But they should have made it a priority to land one big-name player, even if it meant overpaying a little.

The offseason is about selling hope.  Teams like the Packers, Patriots, Giants, and Steelers can afford to do nothing in March; the hope is implied.  For teams that have fallen, March is an opportunity to prove that they’re at least trying to get up.

9.  Loser:  Ravens.

The Ravens had four players in the PFT Hot 100 free-agency list.  Three already have bolted for greener pastures:  defensive end Cory Redding, linebacker Jarret Johnson, and guard Ben Grubbs.

To make matters worse, guard Evan Mathis opted to stay with the Dream Team in lieu of joining a team that, on paper, seems to have a better chance of making its dreams come true.

Then there’s the lingering possibility that someone will make restricted free agent cornerback Lardarius Webb an offer the Ravens can’t afford to match.

Though there’s a long way to go before September, it’s hard not to think that, at least for now, the Ravens have faded a bit closer to the pack in the AFC.

10.  Loser:  Bengals.

By capping 2011 with an unlikely playoff berth, it can’t be said that Paul Brown Stadium routinely was less than full due to the fact that the team was bad.  Instead, the fan base is fed up with owner Mike Brown.

Even though the team is laying a solid foundation of youthful players, Bengals fans think it’s not because of Brown but in spite of him.  And with a huge cap surplus for 2012, the Bengals haven’t done much to persuade anyone that they’re willing to spend.

The good news is that, after several days of inaction, the Bengals have gone bargain shopping, adding offensive lineman Travelle Wharton and defensive back Jason Allen.  They also managed to keep free-agent safety Reggie Nelson, who had attracted an offer from the Jets.

But this is the one playoff team that needed to at least chase a marquee free agent.  They didn’t have to land the guy.  Mike Brown simply needed to show that he’s willing to move from the nickel slot machines over to the no-limit poker table.

The Bengals may once again be competitive in 2012.  The fans won’t embrace the franchise they way they should, however, until they see large chunks of their money being reinvested in players who can help the team compete for a championship.

11.  Loser/Winner:  Redskins.

I know.  I said there would be only 10 winners and losers.  But I didn’t say anything about the team that lands in both categories.

The $36 million in unexpected cap charges for treated the uncapped year too literally makes the Redskins losers.  Their refusal to shrug their shoulders when they did nothing wrong makes them winners.

Their ability to still find a way to spend money makes them winners.  Their decision to give so much money to the likes of Pierre Garçon and Josh Morgan makes them losers.

Their willingness to move up to No. 2 and get the franchise’s first true franchise quarterback since Sammy Baugh possibly will make them winners.  Mortgaging the future by giving up three first-round draft picks and a second-round pick possibly will make them losers.

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Mike Wallace: I’ll show people I have a lot up my sleeve

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 27: Mike Wallace #11 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the fourth quarter of the game against the New York Giants on December 27, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Giants 49-17. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Mike Wallace is coming off of the least productive year of his NFL career and he admitted recently that the speed that made him a star with the Steelers early in his career has slipped.

Wallace thinks he’s lost “maybe just a step, a half a step” from those days, which were also his most effective days as a professional wideout. Two years with the Dolphins and a year with the Vikings saw Wallace making fewer plays down the field than he did in his Pittsburgh heyday, which explains why he’ll be on his third team in as many years when he puts on a Ravens uniform this fall.

While Wallace acknowledges his speed might not be what it once was, he’s not bearish on the rest of his game. Wallace believes he’s polished the rest of his game over the year and that the fruits of that labor will present themselves this season.

“I think I’ve gotten better, even though [the] numbers don’t say so,” Wallace said, via ESPN.com. “I think I’ll get better this year, and I’ll show some people I have a lot up my sleeve.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said “you can do anything” with Wallace, which suggests the team plans to give him a chance to show he can succeed as more than a deep threat. Based on their results through the air last season and Wallace’s production in Minnesota, that development would work out well for both team and player.

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Former NFL players having a harder time staying out of trouble

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The news that current NFL players have found a way to stay out of trouble comes with a curious footnote: For whatever reason, a rash of former or otherwise not currently employed players have been finding trouble in recent days.

It started with former NFL receiver Davone Bess, who could have ended up with much more than a dog bite on his arm after a lengthy standoff with police in Arizona.

Then came former NFL tight end Richard Gordon. He was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend. The far more troubling news came from the reality that he had an AR-15 in his car and harbored plans to shoot up a strip club.

Next was former NFL cornerback Stanley Wilson II, who was shot while both trying to break into a home and naked. (Apparently, he visited other homes before he happened upon a homeowner who also owns a gun.)

The week was capped by free-agent NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson allegedly pointing a gun at his wife and threatening to kill her. Jackson was freed on $2,500 bond, a decision that hopefully came after the relevant authorities concluded that Jackson would do harm neither to his wife nor anyone else.

Maybe it’s just a fluke occurrence, a confluence of bizarre events that happened all in the same week. Regardless, it should be cause for concern for the league. The events become newsworthy for obvious reasons; the men accused of wrongdoing played in the NFL, so the NFL gets mentioned every time something like this happens.

Surely, resources are available to help former players who need it. First they need to want the help. And then they need to know specifically how to get the help.

Hopefully the guys who were arrested last week will get the help they need, along with any other former NFL players who may otherwise be destined for a similar outcome.

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Dan Quinn prepared to trust his gut on conversion calls

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 13:  Head coach Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons  looks up at the scoreboard during the fourth quarter of their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 38-0.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Falcons coach Dan Quinn is content to let others use their brains.

He’s trusting a different body part when it comes to his decisions about going for two-point conversions or fourth downs.

Sometimes, it’s gut,” Quinn said of the call, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Falcons went 8-8 last year, losing five games by four points or fewer. But they only went for the two-point conversion after three of their 38 touchdowns, converting one. The Steelers led the league with 11 attempts, and are openly lobbying to do it more often.

But Quinn’s not sure he’s ready to go that far.

“How many things are they going to do from the 2-yard line?’” Quinn said. “You score 50 touchdowns. What 50 two-point plays are you running from there? . . .

“Like most things, knowing when you have an advantage, take it. Those guys like Mike [Tomlin], Sean [Payton] and Mike McCarthy are three coaches that I really respect a lot. If they have a decision about it, I’ll respect that. It might not be ours at the time. But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect it.”

The Falcons have tried to beef up their analytics department to funnel more information to Quinn. But he’s still not sounding convinced it’s a cure-all.

“There is a time for it,” Quinn said. “Real information and knowledge is power. But at the same time, it’s feel. The shift of the game may feel differently.”

But after a year of close losses, the Falcons may feel differently this year.

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Monday morning one-liners

Jerry Jones AP

A positive take on the Bills’ offensive plans.

More than 1,300 players took part in a Dolphins-hosted 7-on-7 tournament over the weekend.

A projection of the Patriots’ 53-man roster.

CB Marcus Williams is in line for a bigger role on the Jets defense.

Darren Waller is making the move to tight end for the Ravens.

Jeff Luc switched to fullback to make a bid for a Bengals roster spot.

Browns TE E.J. Bibbs isn’t taking a roster spot for granted.

Steelers LB L.J. Fort learned about the NFL game from D’Qwell Jackson.

WR Jaelen Strong held a football camp before the Texans get back to work at training camp.

A scout’s view of Colts DT Hassan Ridgeway.

TE Braedon Bowman could go from undrafted to the Jaguars 53-man roster.

The five biggest moves of the Titans offseason.

Who are the top safeties in Broncos history?

C Mitch Morse is getting ready for his second year with the Chiefs.

Raiders rookies learned more than playbooks in the last couple of months.

The 1963 Chargers are waiting for company on the organization’s list of champions.

A running list of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ best offseason quotes.

Where might the Giants make an addition to the roster?

Eagles DT Mike Martin sees similarities between Carson Wentz and Marcus Mariota.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden and owner Dan Snyder got a picture with Axl Rose at Sunday’s Guns N’ Roses concert.

LB Nick Kwiatkoski impressed the Bears as a throwback-type player.

The Lions expect DE Brandon Copeland to be a contributor.

OL JC Tretter has been ready for whatever the Packers have asked of him.

CB Trae Waynes is pushing for a starting job in his second year with the Vikings.

How will the Falcons approach extra points this season?

Where do the Panthers rank among the league’s best receiving groups?

Breaking down the matchups between Saints WR Brandin Cooks and cornerbacks around the NFC South.

Vernon Hargreaves is getting tutored by older Buccaneers cornerbacks.

Cardinals LB Chandler Jones makes this list of the league’s best edge defenders.

The Rams have gotten to work in their new community.

49ers RB Carlos Hyde feels like the team is adjusting well to coach Chip Kelly’s practices.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has a new personal logo.

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Stanley Wilson targeted three homes (one clothed) before he was shot naked

IRVING, TX - DECEMBER 31: Stanley Wilson #31 of the Detroit Lions celebrates on the field during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium at Texas Stadium on December 31, 2006 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Before he was shot while doing some naked breaking and entering last week, former Lions cornerback Stanley Wilson II had targeted three other homes — at least one of them while clothed.

According to Aimee Green of the Oregonian, Wilson was shot while breaking into the home of 78-year-old Robert McCall.

Police found the Stanford graduate naked in the back yard. He remains hospitalized, but is scheduled to appear in court today to hear charges of one felony count of first-degree burglary, one misdemeanor count of first-degree criminal trespass and two misdemeanor counts of second-degree criminal trespass.

The shooting happened last Wednesday afternoon, after he had been in at least one other home. The homeowner said Wilson stuck his head in her door after entering through the garage, but left without incident.

“He said, ‘Do you need anything?'” the woman said. “I said, ‘No, what are you doing in my garage?’ And then he said, ‘Isn’t this where I’m supposed to be?’ I said, ‘No.'”

She said Wilson was nicely dressed and polite, though she thought it unusual he wasn’t wearing shoes. That was apparently only the beginning of his neighborhood walkabout, and he lost clothing as he went.

It’s a strange story, fitting with a family tradition. His father once missed a Super Bowl because coaches found him doing cocaine in a hotel bathroom the night before the game.

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James Harrison: I’ll only give a PED interview if Goodell comes to my house

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The NFL plans to send investigators to the first day of Steelers training camp to interview linebacker James Harrison about allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. Harrison says other ideas.

In a statement he posted on Instagram, Harrison said he’ll give an interview, but only if Commissioner Roger Goodell shows up at his house to do it.

“I never had a bully before in my life and I’m DAMN sure not about to have one at this point. But since I’m a nice guy & don’t mind helping to clear the air in the name of the NFL Shield, I’ll do this interview,” Harrison wrote. “WITH THESE STIPULATIONS: The interview will be done at MY house. BEFORE training camp. On a date of MY choosing. AND Mr. Goodell must be present.”

Harrison has said many derogatory things about Goodell, including, “I hate him and will never respect him.” Goodell probably won’t be taking Harrison up on the invitation to his house.

What’s clear is that the NFL’s investigation of the Al Jazeera documentary about performance-enhancing drugs is a long way from over. The other players accused in that documentary — Peyton Manning, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal — are also subject to the NFL’s investigation. Those players, however, haven’t made comments as inflammatory as Harrison’s.

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Calvin Johnson thinks Lions could be tougher to defend without him

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 07: Calvin Johnson #81 celebrates his first quarter touchdown with Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 07, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Lions quarterback said last week that the Lions might be tougher to cover without retired wide receiver Calvin Johnson, it sounded like the thing a quarterback has to say.

But Johnson, at least, believes he has a point.

The former Lions wideout suggested that others might not have always taken advantage of the double-teams he drew, and the element of mystery could work to their advantage.

“Well, I felt like it should have been easier because they were going to double me a lot of the time, especially in certain situations, so it’s breakout time for somebody to make something happen,” Johnson said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “One on one, that’s what you want. So, put it like this year, I don’t know who if anybody’s going to get double-teamed, so I think they have the playmakers. So if Matt can get them the ball, they make the plays, they can be good, man.”

Johnson still led the Lions with 1,214 yards on 88 receptions last year, showing it wasn’t his play that was holding them back.

They added wide receiver Marvin Jones in free agency, and they’re hoping they get more from tight end Eric Ebron, but at the moment, being better without one of the best wideouts in the recent history of the NFL seems more like a wish than a plan.

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Favre frets over Hall of Fame speech

MADISON, WI - JUNE 25: Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre acknowledges the crowd during the celebrity golf scramble on the 18th hole during the second round of the Champions Tour American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge Golf Course on June 25, 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) Getty Images

The annual Hall of Fame ceremony is coming soon, which means that the new class of inductees soon will be giving their speeches. One of those guys who will be speaking seems to be getting a little anxious about that.

“At some point, I have to start preparing a speech — which I am not good at doing,” Favre said at an appearance at a golf course in Wisconsin on Sunday, via Jason Wilde of ESPN.com. “It’s closing fast. As we get older, we find that time flies. That’s the case here. It seems like yesterday I was just preparing for [returning to] Green Bay this past summer. It’ll be here quick.”

Preparing the speech isn’t difficult, especially when a guy has the money and/or the connections to get help in putting thoughts together. The key will be to deliver the speech as written without riffing or improvising or filibustering. Keep it simple, keep it short, come up with a few good lines, wave, smile, and sit.

It’s been argued that new Hall of Famers are entitled to drone on and on if they choose to do so. To the extent, however, that the speeches are part of a live TV show and not recorded and edited to trim out much of the droning on and on, the goal should be not to talk and talk and talk in the hopes of eventually tripping over something memorable but to come up with something memorable ahead of time, practice the delivery, walk up to the podium in that new gold jacket, and nail it.

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Nate Robinson continues to pursue football career

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The Seahawks gave former NBA player Nate Robinson a look-see not that long ago, and coach Pete Carroll made it clear that it won’t be easy for Robinson to make it in the NFL. To his credit, that hasn’t stopped him from trying.

Via Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com, Robinson continues to work out in the hopes of making it to the NFL. He’s been training with former Arkansas State receiver Dwayne Frampton. (Chris Berman perhaps would say that Frampton is showing Robinson the way.)

Although Carroll said it will be “all but impossible” for Robinson to make it in the NFL, Carroll admitted that “if anyone could it might be Nate.”

Here’s hoping Nate keeps trying. Too many people like to talk about all the things they could do if they truly wanted to. It’s nice to see someone try, regardless of whether he ultimately succeeds.

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Fewer players are getting arrested in the offseason

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The NFL has taken a hard line over the last decade when it comes to players who get into trouble away from the field. Changes to the Personal Conduct Policy in 2007 had an impact, but even more changes (including the introduction of paid leave) sparked by 2014 incidents involving Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson seemed to get the attention of most players.

Arrests are still happening, but not with the same frequency — as indicated by a “days without an arrest” meter that often gets well into the 20s, 30, and 40s between incidents. The fact that the number currently sits at 26 in the break between the end of offseason programs and the opening of training camps shows that players who are left to their own devices are avoiding trouble better than they once did.

There have been nine players arrests since January 1. Last year, there were 13 in the first half of the year. Two years ago, there were 21. In 2013, the number was 29.

It’s not just an offseason phenomenon. At one point last season, more than two months passed between arrests of any of the roughly 2,000 players on rosters or practice squads.

That’s real progress, a testament to the arguably heavy-handed (but apparently effective) efforts of the NFL to beef up the consequences for players accused of wrongdoing. So while viable arguments remain regarding the ability of the Commissioner to serve as a truly fair and impartial arbitrator of disciplinary decisions made by the league office, the current system seems to be working. Well.

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Falcons don’t rule out playing 2017 preseason home games not in their new home

88343831 AP

There’s been plenty of news lately about the eventually-to-be-opened-Falcons stadium, and not much of it good.

The whole cheap-beer-and-hot-dog news was good. The whole $200-million-more-in-change-orders wasn’t good. The $172-million-in-money-for-nothing news was good for the team but not for the folks who have to buy the right to actually sit in the seats that go with their tickets.

Here’s another nugget that wouldn’t be good news for anyone: The Falcons haven’t ruled out the possibility that the stadium won’t be ready for the team’s 2017 preseason games.

We would have options,” Falcons CEO Rich McKay said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “You’ve obviously got the University of Georgia. You’ve got Georgia Tech. But I wouldn’t say that we view this as . . . it’s not even a consideration of something we’ve looked into. We’re very confident in June 1, so we don’t view it as a problem. But we have alternatives.”

One alternative won’t be the team’s current home, the Georgia Dome.

“It will not be an option,” McKay said. “It will be on its way down.”

McKay also pointed out that another possibility would be to play all of the preseason games on the road, something the Buccaneers did when their current stadium opened in 1997.

The team still fully expects that the stadium will be ready to go on June 1, the new date that replaced the prior date (in which they presumably had full confidence) of March 1. If it isn’t ready for the preseason, however, it apparently won’t be a problem.

If it isn’t ready for the regular season, that would probably be a problem.

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Roger Lewis tries to put rape accusations behind him

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Giants rookie receiver Roger Lewis wasn’t drafted, quite possibly due not to talent but an off-field issue that nearly landed him in prison.

Charged as a high-school student with two counts of rape arising from incidents with the same alleged victim that occurred 36 days apart in December 2011 and January 2012, Lewis eventually landed at Bowling Green and did well enough to get a shot to make an NFL roster.

“Things had to make me stronger as a 18-year-old going through hard times,” Lewis told the New York Post. “I think I feel very prepared because, you know, situations make or break you.”

The situation nearly broke him. Acquitted by a jury on one rape charge, the jury couldn’t agree on a verdict as to the second charge. With a second trial on that charge approaching, Lewis pleaded guilty to providing false information to police.

“All this, everything that’s happening, is just God blessing me with just the little things,” Lewis said. “Just reminding myself that I’m an undrafted free agent. . . . I have to play with a chip on my shoulder every day.”

His new boss has noticed.

“He’s a guy that has a chip on his shoulder, doesn’t say much and goes about his business the right way,” coach Ben McAdoo told the Post. “He’s businesslike, and we like that about him.”

It still won’t be easy for Lewis to make the climb from 90 to 53.

“[It will be] a huge learning curve from the system he was in in college to what he’s asked to do here,” offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan told the Post. “We’ve seen some good things from Roger, and we’re excited to have him in the mix.”

Lewis has a long way to go to become the team’s next Victor Cruz. The more attention he receives, the more people will notice the fact that he was a hung jury away from going to prison for rape.

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For now, Eagles plan to make Carson Wentz inactive on Sundays

Quarterback Carson Wentz throws a pass during the Philadelphia Eagles' rookie minicamp at the team's NFL football training facility, Friday, May 13, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) AP

The Eagles have said they’re going to be patient with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. They may be so patient that Wentz doesn’t even put on his uniform for a game this season.

With Sam Bradford slated to open the season as the starter and Chase Daniel penciled in at No. 2, Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice reports that there’s a very good chance Wentz won’t be active on game days.

Many teams only suit up two quarterbacks on game days now that the NFL has eliminated the “emergency quarterback” rule. So if Bradford and Daniel are both healthy, that could leave Wentz in street clothes.

Of course, that’s assuming things go according to plan and Bradford plays well and stays healthy. Given that Bradford has often not played well and not stayed healthy, there’s no guarantee things will go according to plan for the Eagles.

And teams have proclaimed in the past that they were going to give a rookie quarterback a “redshirt” year, only to change that plan. Two years ago, the Jaguars spent the entire offseason insisting that first-round rookie quarterback Blake Bortles would spend his rookie season on the bench. That grand plan lasted until Week Three.

If Bradford struggles or gets hurt, or if the Eagles are out of contention late in the season, it’s likely that Wentz would get some playing time. But as of now, the plan is to bury Wentz on the depth chart and let him learn from the bench.

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Jets are thrilled with Darron Lee’s attitude

ld1 AP

The Jets and linebacker Darron Lee have yet to agree to terms on a contract. The Jets don’t seem to be concerned about it, probably because they’re too busy being thrilled with how Lee conducted himself during the offseason program. (With the exception of that time he tackled a guy in non-contact practice.)

He’s been a pleasant surprise, Jets linebackers coach Mike Caldwell said, via Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “He’s been picking things up well. What we saw on film, what we saw in college, he’s been showing it.”

The “pleasant surprise” comes mainly from Lee’s professionalism.

“He comes into meetings and he’s hungry to learn,” Caldwell said. “Sometimes you see rookies that think they know it all. He’s eager to learn and he’s soaking it all up and the older guys are helping him. That’s a surprising part of it.”

He’s specifically listening to veterans David Harris and Erin Henderson.

“It’s a good situation for [Lee] because he has a personality that will accept other guys’ opinions and other guys’ knowledge,” Caldwell said. “David has a great deal of knowledge and so does Erin. He’s in a great situation because he can come in and learn behind those guys.”

It may not be long before he’s in front of one or both of those guys.

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Marvin Lewis advises Dirk Koetter to “throw deep”

Uncle_Rico

NFL coaches are competitors, but that doesn’t stop plenty of them from being friends. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter have been friends for years, dating back to their shared time at Idaho State, where they met as graduate students.

Now, they hold two of the most desirable jobs in all of sports, and Lewis, who has coached the Bengals since 2003, had some free advice for Koetter.

Throw deep,” Koetter told the Idaho State Journal, via JoeBucsFan.com.

“I’m serious,” Koetter added. “Marvin’s a defensive coach. I’m an offensive coach. He said offenses don’t throw deep enough.”

Marvin is right. A deep pass carries a potentially significant reward at relatively low risk. The receiver can (duh) catch the ball or draw a pass interference penalty, which continues to be a spot foul in the NFL. The downside is an incompletion or an interception so far down the field that it simulates a punt.

I’ve joked (only half-jokingly) since the Packers-Cardinals division-round epic that Green Bay should make the Hail Mary part of its base offense, given the team’s uncanny ability to convert when the defense knows it’s coming. Maybe it shouldn’t be a joke at all; maybe every team should periodically fake a handoff to freeze the safeties for a half-second and then fire the ball deep on a regular basis.

So go ahead, head coaches. Your quarterbacks all believe they can throw the football over them mountains. Let them do try, often.

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