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PFT’s Week Two picks

Buffalo Bills v New York Jets Getty Images

Last week, MDS and yours truly disagreed on only one pick.  I trusted the J-E-T-S, and he didn’t.

So I finished 11-5, and he’s already in second place with a 10-6 mark.

This week, we’ve doubled our disagreements.  Which means that there’s a good chance I’ll be in second place by next week at this time.

Tune in to PFT Live this Thursday and every Thursday for MDS and yours truly talking about three or four of Sunday’s games.  And, yes, there may be gloating.

Bears at Packers

MDS’s take: This is about as close as a Week Two game can get to being a must-win for the Packers. Lose here and they’re two games behind the Bears, plus the Bears have the tiebreaker edge, plus they’re 0-2 at Lambeau Field, plus they’re behind the Lions and Vikings in the NFC North as well. Jay Cutler will have a good game against the Packers’ suspect pass defense, but Aaron Rodgers will have an even better game, and the Packers will win with their backs to the wall.

MDS’s pick: Packers 34, Bears 31.

Florio’s take:  The Packers have beaten the Bears in five of their last six games.  And other than the 2010 NFC title game, none has been bigger than Thursday night’s contest at Lambeau Field.  If the Packers lose, the team that was 15-1 in 2011 will fall to 0-2 in 2012, with 25 percent of the home schedule completed.  Look for the Packers’ defense to find something close to their groove — finally — and for Green Bay to get things moving in the right direction with a strong offensive output.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 28, Bears 24.

Chiefs at Bills

MDS’s take: Picking the Bills burned me in Week One, costing me the head-to-head battle with Florio in last week’s picks. Will I learn from that mistake and avoid the Bills this time? Nope. I think the Bills are a better team than they showed against the Jets and should win a close one at home.

MDS’s pick: Bills 14, Chiefs 10.

Florio’s take:  Last year, the Bills went to Arrowhead in Week One and spanked the Chiefs.  This year, the Chiefs return the favor in Week Two.  (And as long as MDS keeps picking the Bills, I’ll keep building an edge in the season-long contest.)

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 34, Bills 21.

Saints at Panthers

MDS’s take: Can Cam Newton do to the Saints’ defense what Robert Griffin III did? Or is the Panthers’ offense going to lay an egg for the second week in a row? In a game that will leave the loser in a big hole in the NFC South, I’m picking the Panthers in a home upset.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 27, Saints 24.

Florio’s take:  The loser of this game will fall to 0-2.  For the Panthers, that would be a problem.  For the Saints, it would be grounds for panic.  Caught napping last Sunday against the Redskins, the Saints wake up in a big way.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 42, Panthers 24.

Browns at Bengals

MDS’s take: Both of these teams looked bad in Week One, but the Browns seem to be on a different level of bad, because Brandon Weeden just doesn’t look like he’s ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Joe Flacco showed on Monday night that a good quarterback can beat the Bengals deep, but Weeden is not a good quarterback.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Browns 10.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals lose the games they’re supposed to lose, and they win the games they’re supposed to win.  That trend held on Monday night, and it’ll hold on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 28, Browns 16.

Vikings at Colts

MDS’s take: Andrew Luck had four turnovers in his debut against the Bears, but what would really concern me about that game if I were a Colts fan is that the Colts’ defense didn’t look any better than it did last year. Christian Ponder will have his second consecutive big game and the Vikings will start a surprising 2-0.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 27, Colts 20.

Florio’s take:  Andrew Luck will always be compared to Peyton Manning.  And Peyton Manning lost the first home game of his career.  So if Luck can pull this one off, he’ll already be ahead of the curve.  Though the Vikings aren’t nearly as good as they were the year that Peyton Manning entered the league, they’re good enough to spoil Luck’s debut at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Colts 20.

Texans at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert looks like he’s taken a big step forward since last season, and Jacksonville should put some points on the board. But the Jaguars won’t be able to keep pace with the loaded Texans offense, and this game could get ugly.

MDS’s pick: Texans 35, Jaguars 14.

Florio’s take:  Jaguars owner Shahid Khan wants to remove the tarps at EverBank Field.  His players may want to hide under them when the Texans come to town.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 35, Jaguars 17.

Raiders at Dolphins

MDS’s take: Both of these offenses looked like they leave a lot to be desired in their Week One losses, but I have a lot more faith in Carson Palmer turning things around than I have in Ryan Tannehill turning things around. The Dolphins, who started last season 0-7, will take another step toward another dismal start.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 24, Dolphins 6.

Florio’s take:  The Raiders may need sunglasses to dull the glare of all those empty orange seats.  And it will only get more empty in the second half.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 24, Dolphins 17.

Cardinals at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Cardinals somehow seem to keep playing in close, competitive, exciting games: Last year 13 of their 16 games were decided by a touchdown or less, and they went down to the wire against the Seahawks in Week One as well. So will they be in a close game again? No. The Patriots win this one easily.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 34, Cardinals 14.

Florio’s take:  The two hottest teams over the last 10 regular-season games get together in Foxboro, but there’s still a huge gap between the 9-1 Patriots and 8-2 Cardinals.  Actually, there’s a pretty big gap right now between the 9-1 Patriots and 31 other teams.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 31, Cardinals 13.

Buccaneers at Giants

MDS’s take: Greg Schiano had his team playing exactly the kind of tough, physical football he promised they would play in Week One against the Panthers, while the defending champion Giants looked surprisingly out of sorts in their Week One loss to the Cowboys. But the Giants are still the Giants and the Buccaneers are still the Buccaneers, and Week One will look like an anomaly when this game is over.

MDS’s pick: Giants 27, Buccaneers 10.

Florio’s take:  This is the kind of game that Giants could have lost, if they’d beaten the Cowboys in Week One.  But since the Giants lost to the Cowboys in Week One, they’ll be guarding against another letdown — and quarterback Eli Manning will do what he has to do to propel the team in an early must-win situation.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 27, Buccaneers 17.

Ravens at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Eagles won ugly in Week One, while the Ravens won big. Much like they did last year, the Eagles look like a team that’s less than the sum of its parts, and I like the Ravens to go to Philadelphia and win.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, Eagles 17.

Florio’s take:  A week after barely beating the toothless new Browns, the Eagles get a taste of the old Browns.  By the time it’s over, Mike Vick may need Jeffrey Lurie to push the wheelchair.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 30, Eagles 21.

Redskins at Rams

MDS’s take: I liked the way the Rams’ defense looked in the first game of the Jeff Fisher era: Yes, they gave up 355 passing yards to Matthew Stafford in a loss to the Lions, but they also mixed up their coverages and picked Stafford off three times. The Rams will do a better job of containing Robert Griffin III than the Saints did, but the problem for St. Louis is that the offensive line is a mess, and they’re not going to be able to put many points on the board.

MDS’s pick: Redskins 20, Rams 13.

Florio’s take:  If the Rams had known how RG3 would make his NFL debut, the price for the pick that was sent to the Redskins would have been a lot higher than three ones and a two.  And the Rams may regret sooner rather than later the decision to not simply pick Griffin themselves.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 28, Rams 20.

Cowboys at Seahawks

MDS’s take: Russell Wilson struggled against the Cardinals’ defense, and he’s going to struggle again against an athletic Cowboys defense that can limit Wilson’s mobility. The fans in Seattle may be calling for Matt Flynn soon.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 21, Seahawks 6.

Florio’s takeTony Romo returns to Seattle for the first time since he fumbled the snap on a field goal that would have secured a win in his first career playoff game.  This time around, the defense will be the difference, especially since the Seahawks’ receivers are banged up.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Seahawks 13.

Jets at Steelers

MDS’s take: No one saw the Jets’ offensive explosion coming last week, so maybe I’m underestimating them here, but I just don’t like Mark Sanchez’s chances of moving the ball effectively against the Steelers’ defense.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 17, Jets 10.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers saw some Tebowing late in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos.  The Steelers will be hoping to see none of it on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 20, Jets 10.

Titans at Chargers

MDS’s take: Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips had an excellent game against the Raiders, and he’s going to make Titans quarterback Jake Locker’s life very difficult on Sunday. The Chargers will be off to their first 2-0 start since 2006.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 24, Titans 17.

Florio’s take:  The Chargers begin what could be one of their final seasons in San Diego  in style.  Except for all the empty seats at the stadium.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 21, Titans 17.

Lions at 49ers

MDS’s take: The Lions survived with an unimpressive win over the Rams at home, while the 49ers had an extremely impressive win over the Packers on the road. San Francisco may just have the best team in the NFL.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 27, Lions 17.

Florio’s take:  The 49ers have gotten better since the last time these two teams met in Detroit.  The Lions haven’t.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 31, Lions 17.

Broncos at Falcons

MDS’s take: The loss of starting cornerback Brent Grimes is a huge blow to the Falcons, and Peyton Manning is the worst quarterback to face for a team trying to adjust to an injury in the secondary: Manning will find places to pick apart the Falcons’ secondary and get a big road win against a good team.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Falcons 28.

Florio’s take:  Last year, Denver’s defense kept games close long enough for the quarterback to do something heroic.  This week, they’ll do the same thing — without having to give up so few points.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 38, Falcons 35.

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NFL study says Texans-Raiders Mexico City game generated $45 million

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 21:   A general view of the field prior to the game between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders at Estadio Azteca on November 21, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images) Getty Images

A study commissioned by the NFL on last year’s game between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders played in Mexico City has determined the event generated $45 million.

In a story by the Associated Press on the study – produced by Ernst and Young – the activity around the game generated $43 million in tourist spending, of which $32 million was incremental to the Mexico City economy.

The 27-20 victory by the Raiders was attended by 76,473 at Estadio Azteca. It was the first NFL game to be played in Mexico since the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals played in the same stadium in 2005.

The Raiders will return to Mexico City next season and host the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Just like the NFL’s increasing schedule in London, if their games abroad continue to generate significant returns in profit the league will undoubtedly continue to expand its reach into new locales.

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Bill Belichick on witness list for second Aaron Hernandez murder trial

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on prior to Super Bowl 51 against the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriot owner Robert Kraft testified in the first Aaron Hernandez trial. Patriots coach Bill Belichick could testify in the second Aaron Hernandez trial.

Via the Associated Press, Hernandez’s lawyers have added Belichick to the list of possible witnesses. The head coach joins offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as persons who may take the oath and answer questions.

The potential purpose of Belichick’s testimony isn’t known. Typically, lawyers pump up the list with an overly broad list of names in order to conceal the actual case strategy that would arise if the lawyers listed only the witnesses who actually will testify.

Putting it another way, it’s like listing 20 players as “questionable” so that the other team won’t know who’s actually injured.

Already convicted and serving life without parole for the June 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd, Hernandez now stands trial for the July 2012 murders of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. Jury selection has begun, and opening statements are scheduled for March 1.

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Trubisky will do everything in Indy except the bench press

TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 01: Mitch Trubisky #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks to make a pass during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Former North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky will participate in everything except the bench press at next week’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Trubusky’s father told the News-Herald in Willoughby, Ohio.

Though that’s subject to change, it’s noteworthy because some top prospects skip their group’s workout session and instead choose only to throw or fully work out on their own campuses.

Earlier this week, former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson said he plans to fully participate in the NFL Scouting Combine. Trubisky, Watson and DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame — all early entries in the 2017 NFL Draft — are generally considered the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, while some would put Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech among the top group.

There doesn’t seem to be a consensus No. 1 quarterback at this point of the process, so the hand-shaking, medical-checking and interview portions of next week’s event figure to be just as important as what goes on in the formal throwing session, which ends the three days the quarterbacks will spend in Indianapolis.

Workout groups in Indianapolis are generally divided alphabetically and by position, so Trubisky and Watson will likely be throwing together in the second group during the on-field quarterback workout.

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Personnel exec Tom Gamble leaving the 49ers

Tom-Gamble

The 49ers announced Wednesday that longtime personnel executive Tom Gamble is leaving the team.

Gamble has spent 10 of his 29 NFL seasons with the 49ers. He returned to the team for the past two years after serving as vice president of player personnel with the Eagles in 2013-14.

“The 49ers organization has tremendous respect and appreciation for Tom Gamble and his many years of service,” new 49ers General Manager John Lynch said in the team’s release on Gamble’s departure. “He is a class act who has helped a great deal in this transition, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him.

“After working together over the last month, Tom and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests for him to pursue other opportunities. Tom is a true professional and we wish him and his family great success in the future.”

Gamble was director of pro personnel with the 49ers from 2005-10 and director of player personnel in 2011-12 before going to Philadelphia. He was the team’s assistant G.M. last season, putting him in position to help Lynch transition into his first front office job.

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49ers’ evaluation of Colin Kaepernick is still fluid

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 27:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers watches from the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Carindals defeated the 49ers 47-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick can bail on the balance of his contract between March 2 and March 7. The 49ers can do so at any time. For now, both sides are still weighing their options. The process included a recent meeting between the player and his new coach and G.M., Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, respectively.

“We had a great discussion and Colin left excited, we left excited and I think as Kyle and I really believe, the evaluation is still very much fluid,” Lynch told KNBR, via Chris Biderman of USA Today.

“And we’ve only been on the job a couple weeks. I can tell you, we both really very much being around Colin and he seems like he’s in a real good place.”

Kaepernick is due to earn $14.5 million in 2017, and the 49ers surely won’t be paying him that kind of money for one more year. Given that Shanahan and Lynch are newcomers, Kaepernick is no different to them than any other free agent quarterback would be. Because he’s still under contract with the 49ers, however, the team has the ability to talk to him and to negotiate with him before he voids the contract and becomes a free agent.

There’s a chance that, in the end, both sides will decide that its in their mutual best interests to give it another try. The final decision will depend on the other options for the team and the other options for the player. Given that multiple other teams will not be inclined to alienate a large swath of the fan base by signing the player at the heart of the 2016 anthem protests, staying in San Francisco could be his best option.

In weighing his options, Kaepernick would benefit from some third-part advice. For now, though, he still doesn’t have an agent.

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Martellus Bennett to fans: Stop telling me to take less money

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots looks on before the game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Patriots traded for tight end Martellus Bennett, they knew that: (1) he had one more year left on his contract; and (2) if he and/or the team had a big year, Bennett would try to parlay the experience into a contract potentially worth more than what the Patriots would be willing to pay. Indeed, the Patriots have a habit of trading for players in the final years of their contracts because if/when the players leave via free agency, the departure counts toward the team’s eventual haul of compensatory draft picks.

Of course, that reality isn’t keeping some fans from lobbying Bennett to take less to stay in New England. To that, Bennett had this to say: “Stop @’ing me about taking less money. You take less money [at] your job? All of you take a pay cut hahaha.”

Later, he said this: “All I’m saying is cut your own grass don’t be all in my garden f–king with my fruit while weeds are growing all over yours.”

Bennett is right. Football players have a limited number of years to play, and they have every right to try to get as much as they can while they can. Owners chase every dollar they can without criticism; players should do the same.

Actually, players have even more reason to pursue as much money as possible because they don’t own anything other than their own bodies. At a time when management and labor are roughly splitting the revenues, the players get half the revenue and the owners get all the revenue and all the equity.

So go for it, Marty and every other free agent. Get paid. Use your leverage. And don’t apologize to any of the people who aren’t putting their short-term and long-term health interests on the line to engage in a profession that too many trivialize by calling it a “game.”

It’s not a game. It’s a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that keeps growing and growing and the men who have careers that last for a blink of an eye in relation to the overall life of the business should do anything and everything to get what they can while they can.

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Jameis Winston: “You better believe we want” DeSean Jackson

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 26: DeSean Jackson #11of the Washington Redskins antagonizes fans of the Philadelphia Eagles in the second quarter of a football game at Lincoln Financial Field on December 26, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston isn’t shy about much, and the same goes for what’s now an open recruitment of wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

You better believe we want DeSean here,” Winston told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday. “I think he would be a great asset to our team. Me growing up an Eagles fan, seeing what he did for the Eagles and back in his Cal days and even with the Redskins, I would love to have DeSean.”

The new league year begins March 9, and Jackson will be a free agent unless he signs a new deal with Washington before then.

Winston was asked about Jackson during an appearance at a school because of an ESPN report from earlier in the week that listed Tampa Bay as a possible destination for Jackson, who’s talked openly about free agency. The ESPN report said Jackson and Winston have an existing relationship and listed the Bucs as a possible suitor.

Winston said now that he has two seasons under his belt, he “can be one of our best recruiters. My main focus is to win.”

Jackson, 30, has long been one of the NFL’s best deep threats. A potential pairing of Mike Evans and Jackson would allow Winston the opportunity to throw the ball vertically on both sides of the field and dare safeties to devote extra attention to one side or another.

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James Harrison would like a two-year deal

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off the field after the New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 to win the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Linebacker James Harrison didn’t spend much time after the end of the Steelers’ season weighing whether he wanted to return for another NFL season.

Harrison, who turns 39 in May, said after the team’s playoff loss that he wasn’t done playing. It appears he’s already thinking about his plans for after his 40th birthday as well.

Harrison’s agent Bill Parise told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that his client would like to sign a two-year contract this offseason. This week also brought word of “mutual interest” between Harrison and the Steelers in yet another year in Pittsburgh and Parise confirmed their side of it.

“Of course James wants to be in Pittsburgh,” Parise said.

It remains to be seen if the Steelers share that interest, but there are a lot of ways to structure a contract so that parting won’t be too onerous if the Steelers decide that Harrison has reached the end of the line by the end of the 2017 season.

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Looking at the teams that could be/should be interested in Jay Cutler

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 31:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears gestures before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on October 31, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Getty Images

If you watched or listened to Wednesday’s PFT Live, you saw or heard (or both) a discussion about the teams that could be or should be interested in Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. And while Cutler has the power to essentially scare away any potential suitor, it doesn’t get to that point unless and until potential suitors emerge.

So which teams could be or should be interested in adding Cutler via trade or, if he’s released, as a free agent? Here’s the list that Stats and I discussed on Wednesday’s show.

49ers: This one makes a lot of sense, for various reasons. First, the cupboard is largely bare. Second, new G.M. John Lynch called Cutler a “once-in-every-15-year-type talent” after the Broncos traded Cutler to the Bears eight years ago. Third, the father of new coach Kyle Shanahan drafted Cutler 11 years ago in Denver. And while Shanahan has said he’s not interested in a short-term fix at quarterback, Cutler at the age of 33 could, in theory, have five or more years left.

Jets: Last year, the Jets reluctantly paid Ryan Fitzpatrick $12 million to be the starter. This year, they could trade for Cutler at $12.5 million (plus up to $2.5 million in per-game roster bonuses). That comparison, along with the presence of Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg on the roster, makes Cutler a potential arrival in New York — even though ESPN.com reported in the aftermath of the hiring of Jeremy Bates, a twice-former Cutler tutor, as quarterbacks coach that the Jets won’t be pursuing Cutler.

Bills: If they decide not to guarantee $27.5 million to Tyrod Taylor, the Bills need a quarterback. Enter Cutler, who arguably would walk through the door as the best signal-caller since the days of the Doug Flutie/Rob Johnson rigmarole. But a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since Johnson and Flutie were on the roster should think twice about embracing a quarterback who hasn’t been there since 2010 — especially since Cutler may have no interest in spending his final years playing second fiddle in the AFC East to Tom Brady.

Chiefs: Adding Tony Romo makes sense because it can be argued that Alex Smith has taken the Chiefs as far as he can. That’s still farther than Cutler would possibly take them. Given Cutler’s personal playoff drought and his own durability questions, Cutler wouldn’t be the potential upgrade that Romo could be.

Texans: It makes no sense to add Jay Cutler at his current salary or anything close to it, especially with Brock Osweiler getting $16 million fully guaranteed in 2017. It makes plenty of sense to consider Cutler as a backup, at backup-quarterback pay, if it gets to the point where no one wants Cutler as a starter and the Texans want a viable break-glass-in-emergency option if/when Osweiler fails during his second season with the team.

Broncos: I love good stories (because clickety-click-click), and a Cutler homecoming to Colorado would be a great story. It also is plausible, given that the football regime has completely changed since he was run out of town by Josh McDaniels and in light of the current in-house options. Last year, an effort to trade for Colin Kaepernick cratered because Denver didn’t want to pay $12 million for one year. How much would John Elway and company be willing to pay Cutler? Ultimately, that could be the key to a potential reunion.

Washington: The case against tagging Kirk Cousins is a simple one. At $23.94 million for 2017 under the franchise tag, Washington could get someone nearly as good as Cousins for a lot less money, with the rest going to other players at other positions. Cutler, at roughly half the amount Cousins would cost, therefore makes sense to consider, if Washington is seriously considering not keeping Cousins.

Dolphins: I’m throwing this one in here primarily to troll Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Cutler had a strong season in 2015, when Dolphins coach Adam Gase ran the offense in Chicago. But as became clear during the 2016 season and the trade deadline approached, the Dolphins are all in with Ryan Tannehill, and they won’t be adding Cutler.

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Deshaun Watson to Cowboys: Trade Dak and Romo, draft me

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers reacts after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Myles Garrett isn’t the only top draft prospect who wishes the Cowboys would take him.

Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson said at the Davey O’Brien Award reception in Forth Worth, Texas, that he wants to be a Cowboy. Watson said that when he won the Davey O’Brien Award last year, he told Cowboys coach Jason Garrett that if he won the award again, the Cowboys would have to draft him. Watson did win the award again, so Watson wants the Cowboys to follow through.

“I like being in Fort Worth, Texas, and I promise you I’ll be back here,” Watson said. “And I told coach Garrett, ‘If I’m back here, you have to draft me.’ I know a lot of Cowboys fans, Tony Romo is healthy, Dak, I’m a huge fan, love that man, he’s been successful, but hey, I did my part, you have to do your part. I’ll see you at the Combine so we’ll talk more about that.”

There is, of course, exactly zero chance of the Cowboys trading Dak Prescott to draft Watson, and Watson surely knows that — he was laughing as he said it. But in Watson’s perfect world, the Cowboys would acquire the first overall pick from Cleveland, and Watson would go to Dallas.

“The Browns do need a quarterback. You can trade both of them. They need two.”

Watson was joking, as was Myles Garrett when he called for the Cowboys to draft him. But Browns fans may not find it so funny that top prospects keep talking about how they’d prefer to go elsewhere.

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Voice of the Crimson Tide thinks Saban is staying put, permanently

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 15:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during pregame warmups prior to facing the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 15, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wednesday’s PFT Live included a visit from Eli Gold, the long-time voice of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Gold addressed, among other things, the incoming NFL class of Alabama players and the hiring of former Alabama assistant Steve Sarkisian by the Falcons. Along the way, I asked Gold about the possibility that the man who once declared he won’t be the Alabama coach will be anything but the Alabama coach.

Eli Gold firmly believes that Saban is staying put — and specifically that he won’t return to the National Football League.

“He loves what he does and this is what he is,” Gold said. “He is a football coach. He is a teacher who is also a football coach. He teaches these young men how to be better players, how to be better people and that was the thing he didn’t like about the National Football League.

“Once he got the players in the NFL, they were who they were. You’re not gonna to be a coach and I just pick this name out of a hat so don’t take anything from it. But you’re not gonna be a coach in the NFL and change a Flozell Adams, he is who he is. Vince Wilfork, he is who he is. You’re not gonna come in and start changing guys, as wonderful a player as those two gentlemen are and were.

“But in college you can change people. You can make them into men. You can make them into better people and get them to the level of where a Flozell Adams was in his heyday and where Vince Wilfork is and that’s what Nick Saban missed in the pros. He didn’t have that molding-of-people element to the job, so he loves doing that.”

Gold added that Saban genuinely loves the recruiting element of the college coach’s job, and that he doesn’t view the travel demands and the uncertainty of landing the desire players as drudgery or a source of frustration.

“I don’t care who you are if you enjoy getting up in the morning and go to work you’re gonna do better than the guy who’s going because he has to and he’s just putting in his time,” Gold said. “Nick Saban loves recruiting, loves coaching, he thrives on this stuff he really does.”

For everything Gold had to say about Alabama players, Sarkisian, and one of the best football coaches college football ever has had, given the full video a listen.

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No groin surgery scheduled for Le’Veon Bell

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tosses the ball forward after gaining a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Steelers were knocked out of the playoffs by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, running back Le’Veon Bell said he was consulting with doctors about whether he needed to have surgery to address the groin injury that knocked him out of that contest.

It looks like Bell is going to avoid an operation. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Bell has not scheduled any surgery at this time. Rapoport adds that Bell “would’ve had it by now if necessary.”

Bell’s contract expired at the end of the season, but the surgery question isn’t likely to impact how things play out for him in the next few weeks.

Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said last week that the team wants to have Bell “be a member of the Steelers for life.” March 1 is the deadline to use the franchise tag in the event they don’t reach agreement on a long-term deal before that point.

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Former NFLPA executive director Ed Garvey dies at 76

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 30:  Lonnie Bunch, Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, speaks during an NFLPA press conference prior to Super Bowl XLVIII on January 30, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images) Getty Images

One of the leading figures of the National Football League Players Association in the 1970s has died.

Ed Garvey, who was the union’s first executive director, died on Wednesday morning in Verona, Wisconsin. His death was first reported by Dave Zweifel of the Capital Times.

Garvey was a labor lawyer for a Minneapolis firm representing the NFLPA in the late 1960s and was named the group’s first executive director in 1970 after working alongside union president John Mackey. Garvey remained in the role through 1982 when he was succeeded by Gene Upshaw.

There were a pair of strikes during Garvey’s tenure in 1974 and 1982, although only the latter strike cost the league any regular season games. His stint as executive director also saw the union win a lawsuit invalidating the Rozelle Rule, which limited players’ ability to move by giving then-commissioner Pete Rozelle the right to assign compensation to any team losing a free agent. The court ruling did not eliminate the compensatory element, but wrote the formula for determining it into the CBA rather than a ruling by the commissioner.

Garvey later worked in the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office and made a pair of unsuccessful runs for Senate twice.

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Eddie Lacy posts workout video with free agency approaching

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 25:  Eddie Lacy #27 of the Green Bay Packers runs against the Detroit Lions
at Lambeau Field on September 25, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 34-27.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Social media has played a role in the football world in a variety of ways in recent years with one of the most frequent being the posting of videos by players rehabbing from injuries.

Players who are headed toward free agency are often among those sharing such glimpses into what’s going on in their lives and Packers running back Eddie Lacy joined the fun this week. Lacy posted a video of himself working out in a pool as he continues his recovery from a season-ending ankle injury and surgery.

There’s not much to glean from the video about where Lacy stands in the rehab process nor is there much of a hint about what kind of shape he’s in outside of the ankle. Lacy’s weight has been an issue for the Packers over the last couple of years and will likely be one for any suitors in free agency next month as well.

Due to the injury and a lackluster 2015 campaign, Lacy may be looking at signing a one-year deal in hopes of proving he’s worthy of a bigger investment at this point in 2018. That opportunity could come with the Packers, who currently have only converted wideout Ty Montgomery under contract at running back for next season.

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Joe Mixon’s draft chances hinge on an owner’s approval

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners is tackled by Joshua Holsey #15 of the Auburn Tigers during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

The team that drafts former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon will be getting a very talented player. That team will also be getting a public relations nightmare, as the local TV news in Mixon’s new NFL city will surely feature plenty of footage of Mixon punching a woman, breaking bones in her face.

There’s no doubt that NFL personnel people will like what they’ve seen of Mixon, but will an NFL owner sign off on the possibility that Mixon will tarnish the team’s reputation? That’s the question that will determine where Mixon is drafted — or if he’s drafted at all.

That’s the word from Mike Mayock, who said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that he has talked to “a bunch” of NFL teams and they’ve all told him the same thing: Evaluating Mixon isn’t so much about the football people determining how good he is as about the owner deciding whether he wants to take a PR hit. Mayock said every team he’s talked to about Mixon has told him it will be an “ownership decision.”

The Mixon video is similar to that of Ray Rice, whose career was ended by the video of him punching his wife. So it’s conceivable that all 32 teams will take a pass on Mixon, just as all 32 teams have taken a pass on Rice.

However, Rice was already on the downside of his career when that video surfaced. Mixon is a very promising player who’s just 20 years old. It’s likely that some team will take a shot on Mixon. Just as long as the owner is OK with it.

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