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Ryan says Jets didn’t want Irvin at No. 16, or at No. 43

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Over the weekend, a report emerged that the Jets were eyeballing defensive end Bruce Irvin with the 16th overall pick in the draft.  But Irvin went off the board at No. 15 to Seattle, and the Jets took defensive end Quinton Coples with the next selection.

Now that the Jets have Coples and not Irvin, the Jets predictably are saying they got the guy they wanted all along.  In fact, coach Rex Ryan took it a step farther, saying that they didn’t want Irvin ahead of either Coples or second-rounder Stephen Hill, whom the Jets traded up to get at No. 43.

“He’s a guy we did a lot of stuff on,” Ryan said of Irvin on Tuesday night, via NFL.com.  “We liked Bruce Irvin as a player, but not ahead of the first two guys we took.”

It’s impossible to lend any serious weight to those comments.  Of course Ryan isn’t going to say he wanted a guy he didn’t get.  If Ryan did, that wouldn’t help set the tone for Coples to be successful — and it would invite criticism of the Jets’ failure to leap-frog the Seahawks, especially if Irvin becomes the next Dwight Freeney or Clay Matthews.

So it’s no surprise that Ryan said what he said.  It would have been far more noteworthy if he’d said something else.

Meanwhile, Ryan’s comments came at the same event during which he gushed about Tim Tebow.  It was organized to help Jets fan Michael Manganiello find a match for a bone-marrow transplant.  Manganiello was diagnosed last month with acute myelofibrosis, which impairs the ability of bone marrow to make blood cells.

More than 400 fans had their cheeks swabbed at “A Match for Michael,” an event which also raised money for the Manganiello family.

So while the Jets provide plenty of ammo for scrutiny and criticism, we applaud them for helping Michael and his family.

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Ryan, Sanchez take different approaches with media at event

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Jets coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Mark Sanchez attended a charity event on Tuesday night.  One had plenty to say.  One had nothing to say.

Though we probably need not say more, we will.

Sanchez, according to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com, declined to answer any football questions from reporters.  Ryan answered plenty, gushing about both of his quarterbacks, but apparently more about his new backup quarterback/punt protector.

Ryan said Tim Tebow looks “outstanding” so far in offseason workouts.  “Same thing with Sanchez,” Ryan wisely added.

Ryan also applauded Tebow for landing in NFL Network’s Top 100 list, even though Sanchez was excluded.

“That’s really saying something about the young man,” Ryan said of Tebow.  “Everybody recognizes the competitiveness. The guy’s a winner, no question.  People get tired of me saying it, but how do you not describe this guy as a football player?

“That’s what he is,” Ryan said.  “He’s got size, he’s got strength, he’s got speed and he can throw the football.”  (Some would say Ryan intentionally omitted the word “accurately.”)

Ryan also thinks Tebow should be included within the assessment of the team’s 2012 draft, given that they got the 2010 first-rounder for a 2012 fourth-round pick.  “Everybody put everybody [in our division] ahead of us, which I think it hilarious, but I think we had a heck of a draft,” Ryan said.  “And when you put Tim Tebow in there as a fourth-round pick, it looks even better.”

It’s not looking better for Sanchez.  And Sanchez knows it.  Otherwise, he would have been happy to answer football questions.

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Redskins QB coach: Can’t lose taking Kirk Cousins

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As the NFL world continues to ask why the Redskins drafted quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round after drafting quarterback Robert Griffin III second overall, Redskins quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur says the answer to that question is simple: Cousins is just too good a player to pass up.

“I thought Kirk would’ve been gone long before the fourth round, and when he’s sitting there, and you have a high grade on him, it’s like you can’t lose with that pick, in my opinion,” LaFleur said on 106.7 the Fan, via the Washington Post. “You can never have enough good players, especially at arguably the most important position of all of sports. This is a nasty game where some times things happen, and you have to go with somebody else, so we want to make sure we’re secure at that position.”

If you subscribe to the theory that a team should always take the best player on its draft board, and if Cousins was the top player on the Redskins’ board when their pick came up, then you can buy that Cousins was the right pick.

But the Redskins need players at other positions, too. And considering that they used three first-round picks and a second-round pick to get Griffin, one would think they’d want to use all their other picks on players who can help the Redskins win with Griffin, not players who will never see the field unless Griffin is hurt.

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Vikings stadium effort takes ugly turn

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Less than two weeks ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell helped kick-start the effort to get a clear resolution on the Vikings stadium bill.  Now, one day after the Minnesota Legislature was supposed to adjourn for the year, Goodell’s next task may be to bring to the Twin Cities enough glue to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat, has accused Republican leaders in the Legislature of having “secret meetings” with the Vikings, calling the activities “cynical, underhanded politics.”  Also, a new proposal has been introduced, which eliminates the roof and calls for bonds, not gambling, to finance the state’s portion of the contribution.

“This is not our proposal,” Vikings V.P. Lester Bagley said.

“The time to consider the site or the design has passed.  Make no mistake:  the Vikings stand with the agreement we negotiated,” Bagley added.

Team director of corporate communications Jeff Anderson said on Twitter that the team did not engage in “secret meetings,” but that it merely answered questions regarding “a concept.”

Regardless of how things got to this point, it’s currently a mess.  Dayton has released a statement urging the public to demand a vote on the pending bill.  “I’m saying please call your legislators and say vote,” Dayton said.  “Vote on the proposal that’s been worked on for the last eight months.  That’s before the House and Senate.  That’s been vetted by seven legislative committees. . . .  Call your legislators and say quit fooling around, this is not about politics for November and it’s not about your jobs for Novembers.  It’s about our jobs, our future, out team.  Get it done.  Bring it up — up or down vote.”

A few days ago, it seemed definite that would happen.  Now, it’s not clear what will happen, and the future of the team in Minnesota possibly hangs in the balance.

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Peter King talks draft story lines

Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC joined PFT Live on Tuesday to talk about some of the major stories emerging from the draft, as chronicled in his Monday Morning Quarterback column.

I could summarize what he said or paste some of the quotes, but then you may not watch it.

So watch it.  If you do, you’ll get Peter’s takes on the trade that resulted in the Rams dropping from No. 6 to No. 14 for only a second-round pick, the Dolphins’ plans for Ryan Tannehill, the Redskins’ decision to use a high fourth-round pick on Kirk Cousins, and the status of the NFL’s investigation regarding the players involved in the Saints’ bounty situation.

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Louisiana State Police to review eavesdropping case by end of week

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The three-day draft nudged the latest allegations against the Saints to the back burner, but the contention that G.M. Mickey Loomis had the ability to listen to communications in which opposing coaches engaged from 2002 through 2004  has yet to go away.

It soon could.

Steve Wyche of NFL.com reports that the Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmondson said Tuesday that the agency plans to review its findings by the end of week, in order to determine whether enough evidence exists to continue.

At that point, the case could be referred to prosecutors, further investigation could occur, or the matter could be closed.  Even if the case is referred to prosecutors, there’s no guarantee that charges would be filed.

Apart from the potential expiration of the statute of limitations on pursuing a criminal action, any case against Loomis likely would have no physical evidence, since the Superdome has been renovated.  Last week, Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune explained on PFT Live that the suite in which the apparatus allegedly existed was dismantled and removed.

And so, in the end, the case likely would come down to the testimony of a former employee who may have an axe to grind and the unequivocal denials from Loomis.  That’s not nearly enough to satisfy the very high standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which makes a prosecution far less likely.

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Matt Leinart signing with Raiders today

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Matt Leinart is heading back to California, and back to backing up Carson Palmer.

Leinart is signing today with the Oakland Raiders, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

In 2002, when Palmer won the Heisman Trophy at USC, Leinart was his backup. Leinart would go on to earn the starting job at USC, win the Heisman Trophy in 2004 and was the 10th overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft.

But unlike Palmer, Leinart has never proven himself capable of playing in the NFL. Leinart was a major disappointment for the Cardinals and spent the last two seasons as a backup in Houston, where he suffered a season-ending collarbone injury in his only start last year.

After the Texans released Leinart, there didn’t appear to be a lot of interest. But with the Raiders he’ll have a good chance of making the roster as the No. 2 quarterback, behind Palmer and ahead of Terrelle Pryor on the quarterback depth chart.

UPDATE, 6:53 P.M.: The Raiders have officially announced that Leinart has signed.

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Lawyer says “offensive racial remark” was directed to Caleb King

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On the same day running back Caleb King was released by the Vikings, he also was released from jail.

“Mr. King was released from custody from the Anoka County Jail this morning without any charges being filed,” lawyer Lee Wolfgram, Jr. said in a press release forwarded to PFT.  “The investigation will continue but the defense is encouraged by the thoroughness of both the Anoka County Attorney’s Office and the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.  Both are taking care to ensure that all the facts are not only gathered, but seriously considered before reaching a charging decision in this matter.”

The Associated Press separately confirms that King has indeed been released from custody, that charges haven’t been filed, and that the investigation is ongoing.

Wolfgram, while not unequivocally professing that King had no involvement in the events that resulted in allegedly serious injuries being suffered by Andrew Hayek, suggests that King was provoked — and that false claims possibly are being made about him.

“Mr. King has no history of violent behavior and, in fact, showed great restraint in attempting to calm a situation after an offensive racial remark was directed at him,” Wolfgram said, without identifying who made the remark.  Previous reports indicated that King reacted after being teased about looking like a celebrity (apparently, Eddie Murphy).

“The defense is also confident that the Anoka County Sheriff’s Department is mindful that making a false report against Mr. King, or anyone, is a crime,” Wolfgram said.  “Mr. King is relieved that he can report back to training in preparation for the upcoming season.”

Apparently, Wolfgram hasn’t gotten the news that King currently has no NFL job to report back to.  If King is completely exonerated, the Vikings should give him another chance.  Still, the fact that charges have yet to be filed doesn’t mean that King will walk away.

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Josh Brown lands with Jets

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The Rams cut Josh Brown after taking kicker Greg Zuerlein in the sixth round of the draft, but Brown didn’t have to wait long for new work.

Brian Costello of the New York Post was the first to report that the Jets have signed the veteran kicker. He will compete with holdover Nick Folk for the job with the Jets in 2012.

Brown made 21-of-28 field goals for the Rams last season with particular struggles on kicks of 40 or more yards. He has spent nine years in the NFL, five of them with the Seahawks before making the move to St. Louis. When he did make that move, Brown became the highest paid kicker in the league for a short time.

He doesn’t figure to reclaim that spot, but he should have a decent chance at beating out Folk. Folk’s made 49-of-64 field goals in his two years with the Jets, but he’s had a habit of missing short kicks that haven’t done much to endear him to the team or its fans.

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Titans sign Zac Diles

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Linebacker Zac Diles has spent at least part of each of the last five years in the AFC South and he’ll be trying to make it six in a row in 2012.

The Titans announced Tuesday that they have signed Diles as a free agent. Diles played for the Colts and Buccaneers last season after getting cut by the Rams at the end of training camp. The Colts waived him in February.

Diles spent the first four years of his career in Houston. He started 30 games for the Texans as an outside linebacker, but wasn’t asked back when Wade Phillips came in to take over the defense. He projects as a backup and special teamer with the Titans.

The Titans also signed fullback Colin Mooney. Mooney is a West Point graduate who spent the last three years fulfilling his commitment to the Army. He ran for 1,339 yards as a senior in 2008, which is the highest total in school history.

Fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou and linebacker Lawrence Wilson were released to make room for the two new additions.

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Vikings say goodbye to Caleb King

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When running back Caleb King was arrested on charges of third-degree assault with substantial bodily harm over the weekend, it was fair to wonder how much longer the Vikings would keep him around.

Not very long, as it turns out. Jeremy Fowler of the Pioneer Press reports that the Vikings have cut King. King joined the team after going undrafted in the 2011 supplemental draft and spent most of the year on the practice squad.

King was arrested after fracturing the skull of another man at a party early Saturday morning. His victim, Andrew Hayek, is “doing better”, according to his sister, after the attack, which was reportedly precipitated by Hayek telling King that he resembled Eddie Murphy. King was released from jail on Tuesday and charges have not yet been formally filed by the county attorney’s office. They are still investigating the incident, though, so there may be more to come on that front.

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Montel Harris could enter NFL supplemental draft

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Days after the conclusion of the regular NFL draft, we have a candidate for this summer’s supplemental draft: Montel Harris, the all-time leading rusher at Boston College who was kicked off the team today.

Harris has already been on the Boston College team for four seasons and was only still in school because he was granted a medical redshirt year by the NCAA after a knee injury cut short his senior season last year. The school said Harris was dismissed for a repeated violation of team rules but did not say what those team rules were.

In 40 career games at Boston College, Harris has carried 787 times for 3,735 yards and 27 touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 207-pound Harris is a talented athlete who looks like he’d be capable of playing in the NFL, although teams will surely be concerned about his history of knee injuries (which also cut short his 2010 season), and about whatever team rule he has repeatedly violated.

The NFL’s supplemental draft takes place in the summer and typically includes a handful of players whose eligibility changed at some point after the January deadline to declare for the regular April draft. Teams who choose a player in the supplemental draft give up a corresponding pick in the next year’s regular draft.

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Hightower prefers to stay inside, but will play wherever Pats want

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The quartet of Alabama players selected in the first round of the 2012 draft included linebacker Dont’a Hightower, for whom the Patriots traded up six spots.

Hightower joined PFT Live on Tuesday to talk about the next phase of his career.  He’ll be joining a New England defense that doesn’t need much of a kick in the pants to get the Pats over the top.

Coach Bill Belichick has said that Hightower will play various positions, something Hightower welcomes — even though he prefer playing on the inside.

Hightower also talked about a very different set of experiences from the first night of the draft in 2011, when he found himself caught in a tornado in Tuscaloosa, the things he has learned from Nick Saban, why Alabama is cranking out so many great players, and whether Marquis Maze should have been drafted along with his eight Crimson Tide teammates.

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Texans release Jacoby Jones

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There were reports over the weekend that the Texans were trying to trade wide receiver Jacoby Jones for a draft pick, but nothing came to fruition.

That wasn’t enough for Jones to keep his job in Houston, though. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Texans have released the five-year veteran. The move will save the Texans about $2.5 million under the salary cap.

Jones, who was set to make $3 million this season, probably saw the writing on the wall when the Texans drafted DeVier Posey in the third round and Keshawn Martin in the fourth round. Posey is expected to see a lot of time in receiver packages while Martin was a good punt returner at Michigan State. Jones has done a nice job in that role at times for Houston, but he also had a crucial fumble in the playoff loss to the Ravens.

Jones caught 127 passes over his years with the Texans, but never really made good on multiple opportunities to earn a starring role in the offense. His best chance of finding work this offseason will likely come as a kick and punt returner. Jones has four touchdowns in those roles in his career.

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Eric Mangini regrets turning in the Patriots over Spygate

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Eric Mangini, who as a Patriots assistant knew about the practice of taping opposing teams’ signals, and who informed the league office of the practice when he was the Jets’ head coach, said today that he regrets the way Spygate has continued to overshadow the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick.

After Ravens coach John Harbaugh called the Patriots’ titles tainted today, then said he regretted that comment, Mangini weighed in on ESPN’s NFL Live and said he regrets everything about Spygate. Mangini said that if he had it to do all over again, he never would have informed NFL Security that the Patriots were taping the Jets’ signals during a game on September 10, 2007.

“If there is a decision I could take back it’s easily that decision,” Mangini said. “Never in a million years would I have wanted it to go this way. It’s disappointing whenever it comes up.”

Mangini, who was an assistant on the Patriots’ three Super Bowl-winning teams, says he has never believed any of the Patriots’ titles were tainted, and he’s surprised that anyone would suggest they are.

“It’s regret, it’s disappointment, it’s all of those things,” Mangini said of the way he views Spygate now. “Because I know what it took to win those Super Bowls and I have so much respect for the people that were involved there. I’m disappointed that this is what it’s translated into.”

One reason for Mangini’s disappointment may be that he’s now viewed in coaching circles as an assistant whom a head coach would have trouble trusting. If Mangini wants to get back on an NFL staff, he’d need that head coach to believe he’d be more loyal than he was to Belichick. But Mangini said today that he wasn’t trying to hurt Belichick. All he really wanted was to beat the Patriots that day and keep them from getting any kind of an advantage.

“Never in a million years did I expect it to play out like this,” Mangini said. “This is one of those situations where I didn’t want them to do the things they were doing. I didn’t think it was any kind of significant advantage, but I wasn’t going to give them the convenience of doing it in our stadium, and I wanted to shut it down. But there was no intent to get the league involved. There was no intent to have the landslide that it has become.”

Mangini was seated alongside former Patriot Tedy Bruschi, who criticized Harbaugh today after Harbaugh made his comments about the Patriots’ “stained” titles. Bruschi said he traded voicemails with Harbaugh and has no hard feelings, and Mangini said he feels badly for his own role in forcing Bruschi into conversations like this one.

“To have guys like Tedy have to defend the championships that we earned in New England, and to have anything taken away from the Kraft family, from coach Belichick, and the players and coaches that have meant so much to me, never in a million years did I think it was going to translate into what it was going to translate into,” Mangini said. “And it doesn’t tarnish what we achieved there. It doesn’t tarnish what they achieved after the fact. I think when you look at the history of success that they had after that incident, it’s pretty obvious that it didn’t play any type of significant role in the victories we had or the success that we had.”

Some members of that 2007 Patriots team may have some ill will toward Mangini, but Bruschi doesn’t. And Mangini said he feels badly that he put Bruschi in a bad position by turning in the Patriots almost five years ago.

“That’s what’s so disappointing to me,” Mangini said. “The fact that Tedy has to sit here and talk about that because of a decision that I made, it’s disappointing.”

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