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PFT’s Week Five picks

Washington Redskins v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

Last week was a very good week.  But for a late field goal by the Redskins, misplaced faith in the Chiefs, and a failure to realize that, as Joe Theismann says, Tony Romo “isn’t that good,” I would have generated the first perfect week of picks in the however-many-year history of doing this.

Instead, I finished 12-3.  Which gave me the win in Week Four over MDS, who was 11-4.

For the year, I’ve won three weeks, he’s won one, and I lead the overall contest by two games.  I’m at 39-24; MDS is 37-26.

We’re gradually becoming less pathetic.  Read on to see whether we’ll end up more pathetic this week.

Cardinals at Rams

MDS’s take: The Cardinals keep winning close games, and eventually the breaks have to go against them late in a close one, right? Probably, but not this week. The Cardinals win yet another close one.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 21, Rams 20.

Florio’s take:  It’s “correction week” in the NFL.  And if I’m correct (which I rarely am), it begins on Thursday night in St. Louis, when the Cardinals’ ability to find a way to win will be temporarily suspended.  Greg the Leg a/k/a Young G.Z. a/k/a Legatron a/k/a Greg Zuerlein saves the day, again.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 16, Cardinals 13.

Dolphins at Bengals

MDS’s take: I love the way the Bengals’ offense is running under coordinator Jay Gruden, who keeps finding ways to get the ball in his playmakers’ hands. I see A.J. Green getting open in the Dolphins’ secondary all day. This should be a big win for Cincinnati.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 35, Dolphins 14.

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins could be shorthanded at cornerback, which will make it even harder to stop receiver A.J. Green.  The good news is that through five weeks the Dolphins will be only two games out of first place in the AFC East.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 31, Dolphins 16.

Packers at Colts

MDS’s take: Clay Matthews will make Andrew Luck’s life miserable, while Aaron Rodgers will have his best statistical game of the season. The Packers win in a mismatch.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Colts 10.

Florio’s take:  Though the Colts have become the most sympathetic team in the NFL this week, the Packers desperately need to find their groove on offense.  If they don’t, it could be a long year.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 34, Colts 20.

Ravens at Chiefs

MDS’s take: Florio did me a favor and picked the Chiefs last week, and I’m hoping he does it again. The calls to bench Matt Cassel will only grow louder as the Ravens’ defense has its way with him.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, Chiefs 14.

Florio’s take:  When the Chiefs were a playoff team, they couldn’t handle the Ravens at home.  Rested and ready after four games that kicked off 17 days apart, the Ravens are ready to put the Texans on notice that Baltimore won’t step aside for them.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 35, Chiefs 24.

Titans at Vikings

MDS’s take: Other than their miraculous win over the Lions — which they did their best to blow despite scoring an improbable five 60-plus-yard touchdowns — the Titans have looked lousy all season. The Vikings, on the other hand, have been one of the NFL’s pleasant surprises this season. Adrian Peterson will have 100 yards, Chris Johnson will have 10 yards, and the Vikings will win this one handily to improve to 4-1 and exceed their 2011 win total.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Titans 13.

Florio’s take:  To do justice to their wins over the 49ers and Lions, the Vikings can’t stumble against the Titans.  Though Matthew Hasselbeck’s savvy and skill could keep it close, Adrian Peterson seems poised to finally have a big day.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 27, Titans 17.

Browns at Giants

MDS’s take: It’s been largely overlooked because the team around him is so bad, but Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has bounced back from his disastrous Week One performance and given Cleveland three straight solid starts. Unfortunately, the team around him is really bad. The Giants should take this one easily in a week that’s shaping up to have a lot of blowouts.

MDS’s pick: Giants 35, Browns 21.

Florio’s take:  This one has “upset” written all over it.  Last year, in three consecutive home games, the Giants were less than impressive against the Seahawks, Bills, and Dolphins.  With a crippling slate of games on the horizon, the Giants can’t afford to fall to 2-3.  Eli Manning finds a way.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 35, Browns 27.

Eagles at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers are getting healthier, with running back Rashard Mendenhall, linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu all ready to play Sunday. Look for Harrison and Polamalu to force Mike Vick into a couple of turnovers and the Steelers to win a close and low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 13, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  I’ve lived within 100 miles of Pittsburgh long enough to know that the Steelers, with a 1-2 record and two weeks to prepare, don’t lose this game.  Not at home.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 20, Eagles 10.

Falcons at Redskins

MDS’s take: The Falcons have been playing very well in all three phases of the game, and they’re just too complete a team for the Redskins to handle. Washington’s defense will emphasize shutting down Roddy White, and Julio Jones will step up with a big game.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Redskins 20.

Florio’s take:  It wouldn’t be “correction week” if the undefeated teams don’t lose.  A week after the Falcons struggled to contain Cam Newton, they’ll likewise have a hard time with RG3, who is overdue for his first home win.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 41, Falcons 38.

Seahawks at Panthers

MDS’s take: Marshawn Lynch will have a big game against the Panthers’ porous run defense, but I think this is the week when Cam Newton finally reminds us all why we were so excited about him last year. Newton will put points on the board with his arm and with his legs and lead the Panthers to an impressive win that quiets Newton’s critics, at least for one week.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 31, Seahawks 21.

Florio’s take:  With the bye week looming, the Panthers need to pull together and get a win via methodical use of the running game and patient defense that forces rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to sustain drives.  There’s a huge difference between 1-4 and 2-3, especially with two weeks to stew about the outcome of this one.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 20, Seahawks 14.

Bears at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert has been careful with the ball this season, throwing just one interception in four games. But the opportunistic Chicago defense that took advantage of Tony Romo on Monday night will force Gabbert into his first multiple-interception game of the year, and the Bears will cruise to 4-1.

MDS’s pick: Bears 21, Jaguars 6.

Florio’s take:  The Jaguars have played twice at home this year.  And they’ve looked horrible in both.  Against the Bears, they won’t look much better.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 28, Jaguars 6.

Broncos at Patriots

MDS’s take: I’m sold on Peyton Manning being all the way back to his pre-neck surgery form, but I’m less sold on the Broncos’ defense being able to stop Tom Brady.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 30, Broncos 28.

Florio’s take:  Normalcy returns for Peyton Manning, sort of.  He has played in New England nine times during his career.  And it could be the moment that finally makes him feel like everything is back to normal.  In this case, of course, “normal” includes losing to the Patriots, again.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 28, Broncos 24.

Bills at 49ers

MDS’s take: San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith will have his first 300-yard game of the season against a shaky Bills secondary. Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick probably won’t be quite as bad as Mark Sanchez was against the 49ers’ defense, but that’s not saying much.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Bills 3.

Florio’s take:  The perennial Chris Berman Super Bowl prediction that never happened will finish the same way it would have if the team that never loses Super Bowls played the team that never wins them.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 34, Bills 14.

Chargers at Saints

MDS’s take: Drew Brees will break Johnny Unitas’s NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass — and he’ll do it in style, as the Saints finally win their first game of the season.

MDS’s pick: Saints 30, Chargers 20.

Florio’s take:  The Chiefs beat the Saints and the Chargers beat the Chiefs so it makes sense for the Saints to beat the Chargers.  Sunday night will be one of those rare nights when everything falls together for the Saints.  If it doesn’t, it may not again.  Ever.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 34, Chargers 24.

Texans at Jets

MDS’s take: For the second straight week, it’s going to get ugly for the Jets. They look like a team whose season could spiral out of control in a hurry, while the Texans look like a team that will clinch its division by Thanksgiving.

MDS’s pick: Texans 45, Jets 10.

Florio’s takeTim Tebow should be starting this week, but the Jets know not to throw a Christian to the Texans.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 41, Jets 10.

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Jon Beason announces his retirement after nine seasons

Taye Diggs, Jon Beason AP

Jon Beason was caught up in the Giants’ house-cleaning today, and he has chosen to not pursue work elsewhere.

The Giants announced that the veteran linebacker was announcing his retirement, ending a career that was brilliant when he was well.

“I was able to have some success and set the pace and break records – things I never even really paid attention to until after the fact,” Beason said. “I couldn’t have scripted a better story, coming in as a first-round pick and starting in my first NFL game and setting the club high in tackles, and then breaking it every other year that I played, the Pro Bowls, the All-Pro’s, pinching myself, getting the big contract based on what I had already done; being rewarded for all that was a great feeling. I know that I’m very, very fortunate to have that moment, to have those memories of a certain period of time where I was a big deal.

“The only thing I wish I could have done — I dreamt often of being on the first team to win a championship for the Carolina Panthers. To date, it hasn’t happened. To do something first, I thought was really special and for me to play for the last expansion team, instead of following a legacy of greatness with some of the storied franchises, to do it first was something that was always on my mind. I would say that with everything, even the injuries, the ups and downs of an NFL career, that’s my biggest regret. That’s the thing that looms darkest for me moving forward, knowing that the opportunity has passed me by. It’s something that I’ll have to live with.”

Chosen in the first round of the 2007 draft, Beason helped the Panthers bridge the gap between the injury-shortened career of Dan Morgan and the drafting of Luke Kuechly.

Beason started every game his first four seasons, but since then, has had a hard time staying on the field. He played in more than five games just once since 2010. He thought about continuing, but a knee injury which landed him on IR this season was deemed too much to come back from again.

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Browns OLB Bryant indicted on felony drug charges

Cleveland Browns v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Browns outside linebacker Armonty Bryant has been indicted on felony drug charges stemming from his Christmas morning arrest after a traffic stop near Cleveland.

Bryant and then-practice squad defensive back De’Ante Saunders were arrested early on Christmas morning. Per court documents, Bryant was found in possession of adderall and oxycodone during the traffic stop. Saunders was indicted for improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle.

The Browns cut Saunders and made Bryant inactive for the season’s final two games.

Bryant’s indictment on two counts of felony drug possession came Wednesday. Bryant was previously arrested on a DUI charge the week after he was drafted in 2013. He had a career-best 5.5 sacks in 2015 after missing most of 2014 due to a knee injury.

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Aaron Rodgers appears to be recovering well from knee scope

NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 05:  NFL player Aaron Rodgers hits a tee shot during Aria Resort & Casino's 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational at Shadow Creek on April 5, 2014 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational) Getty Images

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had arthroscopic knee surgery shortly after the team’s season-ending loss to the Cardinals in the playoffs.

The operation was described as a minor clean-up procedure that isn’t expected to have much, if any, impact on Rodgers’ preparation for the 2016 season. Rodgers’ schedule for this week suggests that’s an accurate assessment.

Rodgers looked fine while making the rounds at Super Bowl 50 and is scheduled to take part in the PGA Tour’s ATT Pro-Am event in Pebble Beach, California starting on Thursday. While there’s obviously a big difference between hitting balls in a golf tournament and playing quarterback in the NFL, you’d imagine that Rodgers would find another way to spend the weekend if there was a risk of damaging the knee.

Rodgers will pair with PGA Tour pro Jerry Kelly in the tournament and his foursome will have further football flavor with Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and partner Kevin Streelman joining them for 18 holes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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Exclusive tag for Von Miller may be no more than the non-exclusive tag


As the Broncos close in on the possibility of applying the franchise tag to linebacker Von Miller, the question becomes whether they should use the non-exclusive version or the exclusive version. The non-exclusive version, which permits another team to potentially swipe the player in exchange for two first-round picks, typically costs less than the exclusive version, which prevents another team from signing the franchise player.

The answer for the Broncos could be made easier if the exclusive tag ends up being lower than the non-exclusive number.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the exclusive tender for linebackers — determined by the average of the five highest-paid players at the position in 2016 as determined after the restricted free agent signing period — is currently on track to be $14.04 million.

Last year, the non-exclusivefranchise tender cost $13.195 million. At least one estimate has the linebacker tender increasing to $14.1 million.

So how can the non-exclusive number be higher? The non-exclusive number comes from a five-year rolling average based on the cap numbers for the five highest paid players at the position and the percentage of the cap consumed by that amount. And the CBA ensures that a player given the exclusive tag will get the non-exclusive tender, if the non-exclusive tender is greater.

While the calculation of the exclusive tender won’t be finalized until April, the likelihood that it won’t be significantly more than the non-exclusive number points to the Broncos taking no chances with Miller and applying the exclusive version of the tag.

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If you see Andy Dalton’s luggage, please let us know

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 09:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals reacts prior to the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

We’re going to have to get a ruling on this one since it’s the week after the Super Bowl, but it appears Andy Dalton just committed another postseason turnover.

The Bengals quarterback tweeted out a plea for help earlier today, explaining his luggage fell out the back of his truck on his way to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The two black suitcases may or may not be somewhere alongside the highway, and he appreciates the people of Twitter spreading the word about his plight.

The poor guy has suffered enough lately, with a thumb injury keeping him out of what might have been his best chance to break his personal playoff schneid. And now, he’s headed someplace without a change of clothes.

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QBs should protect themselves, but Cam picked the wrong time

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers stands on the field during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton may have cost his team a chance at the Super Bowl by getting too aggressive on a turnover. After Dalton threw an interception in Week 14 against the Steelers, he injured his throwing hand trying to make the tackle and was lost for the season. The Bengals were 10-2 at the time of Dalton’s injury, but they went 2-3 without Dalton the rest of the way, including a loss to the Steelers in the wild card round of the playoffs. Some quarterbacks don’t try to make the tackle after an interception, and in hindsight, the Bengals surely wish Dalton hadn’t made an effort after that Week 14 interception.

It was that kind of play Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was thinking about when he explained why he didn’t jump on his fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

“I’ve seen numerous quarterbacks throw interceptions and their effort afterwards, they don’t go,” Newton said. “I don’t dive on one fumble and because the way my leg was, it could’ve been contorted in a way. OK, you say my effort, I didn’t dive down. I fumbled, that’s fine, but . . . we didn’t lose that game ’cause of that fumble, I’ll tell you that. You can condemn and say, ‘Well, he gave up’ and this that and the third. But hey, as long as my teammates know, as long as my coaches know. It’s easy for a person to nitpick and say, ‘Aw man, Cam this, he gave up.’ That’s cool, that’s fine. I’m a grown man, I can understand that. But to say some things along the lines of that, and to say it to my face, that’s extremely different.”

Newton’s explanation makes sense. Every quarterback in football is told to protect himself. Run out of bounds. Slide feet first. Throw the ball away instead of taking a sack. Avoid contact. Save your body. Coaches tell quarterbacks that. Fans and members of the media criticize quarterbacks who fail to do that. Even the oldest of the old-school football people, the guys who pine for the days when men were men, players played both ways and you shook it off when you got your bell rung, will admit that a starting quarterback sometimes has to shy away from taking a hit.

Except for one thing: This was the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, with four minutes left and the Panthers down by one score. There are certain times when we expect our great athletes to lay it all on the line, and four minutes left in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl is one of those times.

Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said on today’s PFT Live that he used to instruct Peyton Manning to avoid contact after a turnover. But not in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

“My first thought was, ‘What are you doing?’ And you don’t know what’s going through his mind,” Dungy said of watching Newton’s fumble live. “Did he think it was gonna bounce and didn’t? But when I heard his explanation about not wanting to get hurt. . . . I’ve had Peyton Manning throw interceptions in the regular season and even in the playoffs, the first series of the game. Get out of the way, don’t get hurt, we’ve all seen quarterbacks get hurt. You can’t help your team if you’re injured. But the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, when if they pick that ball up the game’s over? You can’t worry about getting hurt at that point. You’re trying to win the Super Bowl.”

Newton has been ripped by some fans as a wimp or a coward for failing to fall on the football, and that’s unfair. Newton is probably the most physical quarterback in the NFL, a guy who doesn’t hesitate to lower his shoulders and run through a defender to pick up an extra yard. Last season, Newton broke two vertebra in a car accident on December 9, and on December 21 he was back on the field, running the ball 12 times for 63 yards and a touchdown while leading the Panthers to a victory that helped them reach the playoffs. Does that sound like a wimp or a coward to you?

But while Newton’s toughness shouldn’t be questioned, his decision-making on that one play should be. Newton screwed up. With four minutes left in the Super Bowl, he should have fought for the ball.

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Eagles re-sign Najee Goode

at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images

The Eagles have been busy extending the contracts of several players since the end of the regular season and that effort has now extended to re-signing one of their impending free agents.

Linebacker Najee Goode was set to become a restricted free agent next month, but the Eagles avoided the whole tender offer exercise and signed Goode to a one-year deal on Wednesday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“It feels great just to have another opportunity to come for the Eagles,” Goode said, via the team. “I’ve been here for three years going on four, and there’s been a lot of new changes and it’s a fresh start for everybody, and after signing the new deal, it’s definitely a fresh start [for me].”

Goode was released by the Eagles at final cuts last September, but returned a couple of weeks later and played 14 games for the team. Most of his work came on special teams, including recovering a blocked punt for a touchdown in the team’s victory over the Patriots in December.

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Dannell Ellerbe restructures with Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 15:  Jacob Tamme #83 of the Atlanta Falcons is pushed out of bounds by Dannell Ellerbe #59 of the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 15, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Saints said goodbye to a couple of veteran linebackers earlier this week when they released David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber, but another one has adjusted his contract to remain on the roster.

According to multiple reports, Dannell Ellerbe has agreed to restructure his deal a year after the Saints acquired him in a trade with the Dolphins. Details about the change aren’t known. Ellerbe was set to make $4.1 million in salary that was set to become guaranteed on Wednesday if he remained on the roster and also had a $1 million roster bonus coming his way.

Ellerbe, who also took a pay cut after the trade, only played six games for the Saints in his first year in New Orleans as a variety of injuries kept him off the field for much of the season. He was also limited to one game for the Dolphins in 2014 and hasn’t played all 16 games in a season at any point during his career.

The Saints likely will do more in the coming days and weeks to create cap space. Quarterback Drew Brees is a candidate to have his contract extended in order to lessen the $30 million cap burden he carries in 2016.

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T.O. externalizes blame, again

Unknown Getty Images

For the past few years, receiver Terrell Owens has attributed negative stories and attitude about him to a bias against him in the media. When confronted with concrete examples of misbehavior that helped shape his reputation, Owens always has an excuse unrelated to the notion that he engaged in misbehavior.

That attitude has been on display during a Wednesday ESPN car wash with fellow former receiver Chad Johnson. The appearance comes days after Owens was snubbed by the Hall of Fame, with signs pointing to Owens being overlooked due to his interpersonal skills, or lack thereof.

Before going any farther, I firmly believe that Owens should have made it in on the first ballot, and that he deserved the spot over Marvin Harrison. I also believe that, for a guy who claims to not care about not getting in, he seems to be a lot more bothered about the situation than someone who couldn’t care less should be.

Referring to the voters as “pencil pushers,” Owens expressed disdain for a process that eventually will get him in the Hall of Fame after knocking on the door once or twice or three times. (If he keeps openly complaining about the process and the voters, bet the over.)

Regardless, he should have gotten in. Yes, he was a pain in the butt. Yes, there was an element at times of malice and chronic discontent. But, yes, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Rice, Owens, Moss or Rice, Moss, Owens are the top three wideouts in NFL history.

Whatever the stated reason for letting Harrison get in before Owens, the notion of disruption becomes a convenient excuse for the de facto waiting list. And whatever Owens says about whatever it is that he did or didn’t do, it’s clear that he’s getting in — it’s just a question of when.

Meanwhile, both Owens and Johnson repeatedly lamented the absence of social media during their careers, explaining that if they had access to Twitter while playing they could have shaped the narrative and explained themselves without the filter of the media.

But here’s the thing. Owens and Johnson presume that they would have used social media in a way that would have resulted in the fans automatically seeing their side of things and in turn viewing them more favorably. The truth more likely is that they would have used social media in a way that would have made a pair of polarizing players even more polarizing, simultaneously preaching to the choir while further alienating their enemies.

Despite Owens’ effort (intentionally or not) to alienate the voters, Owens eventually will get in to the Hall of Fame. And despite his incessant, tiring “it’s not me, it’s you” routine, I still think he already should be on track for a bronze bust, a gold jacket, and a Ring of Excellence.

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Will Beatty out for Giants too

during the first quarter in a game at LP Field on December 7, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. Getty Images

The Giants are parting ways with several veterans who suffered season-ending injuries in 2015.

Guard Geoff Schwartz and linebacker Jon Beason were informed that they won’t be back with the team next season. Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports was the first to report that left tackle Will Beatty has been added to the list as well.

Beatty tore his pectoral while lifting weights in May and was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return at the start of the season. He never made it back, however, and had shoulder surgery near the end of the year to compound his injury issues.

Beatty, who spent four years as the team’s starter on the left side of the offensive line, was set to make $6.625 million in 2016 with a cap hit of over $9.1 million. The Giants will get over $4.1 million of that back if Beatty is deemed a pre-June 1 cut and Dan Graziano of reports that neither he nor Schwartz was approached about taking a pay cut.

Last year’s first-round pick Ereck Flowers took over for Beatty in 2015 and will likely remain there while the Giants address the right side of the offensive line this offseason.

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Giants releasing Schwartz, Beason

Odell Beckham Jr. AP

The Giants plan to release veteran offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz and linebacker Jon Beason, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported Wednesday.

Beason and Schwartz both signed big contracts with the Giants before the 2014 season. The Giants had acquired Beason in an Oct. 2013 trade with the Panthers.

Injuries limited Beason to four games in 2014 and five in 2015. Beason, 31, hasn’t played a full season since 2010.

Schwartz was limited to two games in 2014 at right tackle due to injury. He started 11 games at guard last season.

The Giants save about $6 million in cap space by releasing Beason and about $3 million with Schwartz’s release.

Schwartz will be 30 this summer. His younger brother, Mitchell Schwartz, will also be a free agent if he doesn’t strike a deal with the Browns over the next four weeks.

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Bruce Irvin prepares to cash in on open market


Last year, the Seahawks could have exercised the fifth-year option on Bruce Irvin’s rookie contract. They didn’t.

With Super Bowl 50 placing an even greater premium on pass rushers, it means that Irvin will soon be leaving Seattle.

Barring a new contract or the use of the franchise tag (both of which are believed to be highly unlikely at this point), Irvin will sign elsewhere — on a deal that easily will surpass $10 million annually.

Irvin’s ability to get after the pass comes during a free-agency cycle with not many quality pass rushers even available. Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon is the other big name to watch.

A first-round pick in 2012, Irvin had eight sacks as a rookie. Last year, in a contract year, he had 5.5.

Still, the 2016 free-agent pickings are slim. And Irvin is in the right place at the right time. And it’s safe to say at this point that someone will pay him, possibly more than he deserves.

Regardless of whether Irvin deserves it, he’s going to get it. Because teams are going to make getting after the quarterback a huge priority.

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Watching Michael Oher slide underscores Levi’s turf woes

HockeyRinkGetty Getty Images

There have been varying reports on the quality of the turf at Levi’s Stadium for Super Bowl 50.

But it’s obvious that there were times it affected the quality of play.

In a video clip posted by Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Panthers left tackle Michael Oher appears to be on skates, unable to do anything but slide backward under pass rush.

To his credit, Oher kept the play blocked, allowing Cam Newton plenty of time to get a pass off.

But the extreme lack of traction he showed can only be explained by a few things. One of them — that Oher was wearing curling shoes — seems unlikely. The other — a surface not conducive to football — seems more likely.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera was playing nice in the aftermath, saying the surface was “outstanding.”

But Rivera is gracious like that, and saying that his team didn’t have any problems with the turf isn’t backed up by the image of Oher gliding gracefully backward like Dorothy Hamill.

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wasn’t afraid to call it “terrible,” and it’s likely that Oher would probably agree. The 49ers have had plenty of problems growing grass, and it appears the NFL isn’t faring any better there.

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Casey Hayward “probably” hitting open market

505348432 Getty Images

The Packers drafted a pair of cornerbacks early in the 2015 draft, which may contribute to Casey Hayward playing elsewhere in 2016.

Hayward is set to become a free agent next month and the 2012 second-round pick thinks that chances are good that he won’t resign with Green Bay before the new league year starts on March 9.

“They normally wait til closer to the deadline,” Hayward told Rob Demovsky of in a text message. “But we shall see. I’ll probably hit the market.”

Hayward started 11 regular season games and both playoff games for the Packers while spending most of his time in the slot. Damarious Randall, the first-round pick last year, and Sam Shields profile as the starting outside corners with Quinten Rollins, 2015’s second-rounder, an option to move into the inside role should Hayward move on to another club.

Hayward didn’t have an interception in 2015, but helped the Packers hold opposing offenses to the league’s lowest completion percentage when throwing to slot receivers. That should make for a good market if he and the Packers can’t agree on a contract before the start of free agency.

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Lynn Swann should tread lightly when talking about Hall of Fame qualifications


Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann makes a good point about the Hall of Fame credentials of Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Megatron simply may not have done enough in nine NFL seasons to earn a spot in Canton. By making the case against Johnson, however, Swann opens himself up for questions about his own spot in the Hall of Fame.

There’s no way the bronze bust will disintegrate, but that doesn’t mean folks can’t ask how Swann made it and argue that he shouldn’t have. Ultimately, he made it for two reasons: team accomplishments and his performance in Super Bowl X. So when Swann says Johnson doesn’t have the team accomplishments to get in, Swann is boosting his own presence by pointing out that it’s more about team achievements than individuals ones.

Indeed, if it’s about individual achievements, Swann has no business being there. He’s 222nd on the all-time receiving yardage list, via Pro Football Reference.

Not 22nd. Two hundred and 22nd.

The knee-jerk response will be this: The game has changed dramatically since then, allowing plenty of more modern players to pass him by. It’s a fair point, until considering the list.

The guy at 221, Jerry Smith with 5,496 yards, played from 1965-77. Chris Burford at 219 played from 1960-67. Ray Renfro at 218 played from 1952-63.

How about Max Speedie at 209? He generated 5,602 yards from 1946-52. Danny Abramowicz at 201 played from 1967-74. Gail Cogdill at 198 played from 1960-70.

Calvin Johnson is at 27, with 11,619 yards. That’s well over twice the amount that Swann generated for his career. And if Calvin Johnson had played for the Steelers of the ’70s, he’d easily be in the Hall of Fame.

Johnson may not make it as a Lion. But Swann probably shouldn’t have made it as a Steeler.

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