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Mario Williams says Texans forced him into free agency

Mario Williams AP

As the Bills prepare to play the Texans, defensive end Mario Williams will get his first shot at the team that made him the first pick in the 2006 draft, shots are being fired.

“I didn’t want to enter free agency in the first place, but it was a one-way door given to me by the G.M. to leave Houston,” Williams tells FOX 26 Sports. “I want the fans there to know entering free agency was not my decision.”

The fans will surely let him know what they think of the situation when he returns on Sunday.

“The way things ended, I definitely feel like it was kind of a rough and all-of-the-sudden goodbye,” Williams said. “There’s some things that I’m definitely uneasy about, the final decision making that happened there. It was just the way it was handled.”

The Texans could have prevented Williams from becoming a free agent by using the franchise tag, but that would have cost more than $20 million for one season, both in cash and cap dollars. And that’s far more than the Texans could have justified giving to a 3-4 outside linebacker who was good but not great.

Actually, Texans fans should have no hard feelings toward Williams. He got a far better deal in Buffalo than he ever would’ve gotten in Houston, and the Texans aren’t exactly struggling without him.

Still, Williams knows things could get interesting, and he welcomes that.  Especially from former teammate Antonio Smith.

“Antonio is always picking and prodding,” Williams said. “He’s definitely trying to add fuel to the fire, but nothing is going to add more fuel to the fire than myself and the help of, I’ll guess I’ll say, a select few people who run their mouth and talk crap.

“The one thing that I enjoy and that I look forward to is people adding fuel to the fire. So I welcome all the newcomers as far as jumping on the bandwagon.”

Given the performance of the Bills, it’s likely the only Mario-related bandwagon on which anyone will be jumping this year.

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Joey Porter to plead guilty to disorderly conduct today

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 14: Joey Porter, a former Pittsburgh Steelers player, walks on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Joey Porter is going to take a knee.

According to the Associated Press, the Steelers assistant coach is going to plead guilty to a disorderly conduct citation this afternoon, ending the flap about his dispute with a bouncer and a police officer in January.

Charges had been reduced from the original aggravated assault, following a dust-up outside a South Side bar. The Steelers placed him on an indefinite leave, which turned out to be less than a week.

The citation is the least serious charge possible, and the league was still reviewing the case the last time anyone asked.

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DeShaun Watson plans to do everything for teams at the Combine

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 02:  Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson visits the SiriusXM set at Super Bowl 51 Radio Row at the George R. Brown Convention Center on February 2, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM) Getty Images

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was criticized in some corners for not participating in the Senior Bowl, but those people won’t have anything to complain about at the Scouting Combine.

Via the Associated Press, Watson said he planned on doing everything in Indianapolis, which should keep the “entertain us” crowd happy.

“That’s the plan,” Watson said of the Combine. “Run, throw, meetings, everything.”

Watson has completed his degree and won a national championship, so the second Davey O’Brien award he picked up Monday night was icing on a pretty good cake of a year. He threw for 41 touchdowns and ran for nine more to lead the Tigers to the title, and figures to be a first round pick.

“I’m hearing that. First round, anywhere in that range, top 10, top five, just depends on what the teams say,” Watson said. “It’s something I can’t control. I just make sure I can control what I can control. Stay positive.

“The height is the height. This is how God made me. My hands are this size. I can’t really control that. I can put on weight and be able to go out there and throw and run and talk in the interviews and my knowledge.”

There may be flaws teams can find, but they won’t be able to knock Watson for not participating.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 18: Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox #91 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts after recovering a fumble in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Does LB Brandon Spikes have a future with the Bills?

Looking at the Dolphins defensive tackle picture now that Earl Mitchell is out of it.

The Patriots should have stability on the offensive line.

An argument that CB Darrelle Revis‘ fight shouldn’t change how the Jets handle things this offseason.

Which Ravens are set for a step forward in 2017?

Exploring the idea of T Andre Smith returning to the Bengals.

Five things to know about the Browns’ pursuit of QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

The Steelers may bring in a kicker to complement Chris Boswell this offseason.

Running back depth could be a priority for the Texans this offseason.

The Colts feel TE Erik Swoope made strides in 2016.

What will T Branden Albert’s arrival mean for the Jaguars offensive line?

SEC linebackers could fit with the Titans in the draft.

Former Broncos RB Terrell Davis is in limited company as a Hall of Famer selected in the sixth round.

The Chiefs have to consider who will follow LB Derrick Johnson in the starting lineup.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio wants his players to stay safe on their New Zealand vacation.

The Chargers are gone, but former C Nick Hardwick remains part of San Diego.

Don’t count former Cowboys WR Drew Pearson among those that feel bad about Terrell Owens missing the Hall of Fame.

Will Tom Coughlin’s moves with the Jaguars wind up impacting the Giants?

Eagles DT Fletcher Cox has invested in the drag racing world.

Running through some under the radar issues for the Redskins this offseason.

Remembering the historic achievement and perfect name of former Bears QB Willie Thrower.

A Lions-centric free agency preview of wide receivers and tight ends.

LS Brett Goode will compete for another year on the Packers roster.

Will the Vikings retain T Matt Kalil?

The top plays of the Falcons season.

How would WR Victor Cruz fit in the Panthers offense?

Tight end doesn’t look like a focus for the Saints this offseason.

Former Buccaneers QB Parnell Dickerson will be inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame this weekend.

Jen Welter is going from Cardinals coaching intern to coaching Australia’s entry in in the IFAF Women’s World Championship.

The Rams could be a fit for impending free agent WR Alshon Jeffery.

The 49ers are expected to host DT Earl Mitchell on a Tuesday visit.

Seahawks C Justin Britt was a wrestler in high school and shared his love for the sport with kids last weekend.

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K’Waun Williams has four contract offers, including Jets

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 11:  Defensive back K'Waun Williams #36 of the Cleveland Browns looks on against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

There have been visits, and some other suggestions of interest in former Browns cornerback K’Waun Williams. But some teams have finally made tangible expressions of their desire.

According to Darryl Slater of, the Jets have offered the free agent corner a contract, one of four teams to do so.

He also visited the Lions, and the Vikings, Dolphins and 49ers were reported to have some degree of interest. That leaves the door open for Mystery Team, the most active of free agent shoppers every season.

The slot corner is expected to make a decision later this week.

Williams didn’t play last season because of an ankle injury, and a disagreement over the treatment of it led to an end of his time with the Browns.

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Report: Reuniting with Adam Gase drew Julius Thomas to Miami

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 23:   Julius Thomas #80 of the Jacksonville Jaguars scores a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during the game at EverBank Field on October 23, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Raides won 33-16.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tight end Julius Thomas is set for a physical in Miami on Tuesday, a day after the Jaguars and Dolphins agreed to a trade that would send Thomas to South Florida when trades are officially allowed to be processed on March 9.

Thomas agreed to rework his contract as part of the deal, something that could have turned into a sticking point if Thomas preferred to force the Jaguars to cut him so he could pick his own destination. Miami offered something no other team could offer, however.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Thomas’ desire to reunite with Dolphins coach Adam Gase, who ran the offense for the Broncos in 2013 and 2014, was the impetus to agreeing to a new deal with a new team. Thomas’ 108 catches for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns during those two seasons landed him the big free agent contract with the Jaguars that he’s now reworking and his failure to replicate that production has him on the move, so it’s not hard to see the appeal.

Thomas was catching passes from Peyton Manning in those two seasons, something that won’t be the case in Miami. Ryan Tannehill turned in a strong first season under Gase, however, and adding Thomas to Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and company sets him up with weapons to do the same in 2017.

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Cedric Benson busted for drunk driving again, says doesn’t know ABCs

Cleveland Browns v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Cedric Benson played nearly a decade in the NFL, and now says it has impaired his ability to drive. Or spell. Or something.

The longtime Bears and Bengals running back was charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas Saturday morning, and had a novel excuse for not undergoing a field sobriety test.

According to Rachel Rice of the Austin American-Statesman,  police affidavit said that when the Austin police officer asked him to recite the alphabet, Benson “stated he couldn’t do that because he played 8 years in the NFL.” He also claimed he was unable to count higher than 3, and refused a balance test.

Of course, this happened at 2:47 a.m., so there are many possible explanations for his sudden weakness in math and written skills. Police said his eyes were glassy, he was swaying and mumbling, and that he smelled of alcohol and was: “talkative, uncooperative [and] cocky.”

Benson has a long history of trouble with the law in Texas, and with alcohol-related problems. He was cut by the Bears in 2008 after being busted for both drinking and boating under the influence in a short amount of time. He was charged with public intoxication in 2014 after an argument with a woman in a cab. In 2010 he was charged with assault for punching a bar employee and was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

Any of those alone might have been enough to signal a problem that needed to be addressed, but apparently it hasn’t for Benson.

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Report: Jared Odrick’s non-football interests caused “minor friction”

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 19:  Jared Odrick #75 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates after a sack during the fourth quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field on November 19, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars cut defensive lineman Jared Odrick this week, just two years into what was billed as a five-year, $42.5 million deal. An injury that limited him to just six games last year was one reason, but Odrick’s off-field interests may have been another.

Odrick is his own man, as detailed last offseason by He says he’s not “blinded by the religion of football.” He spends his time off in Canada, which he says he prefers because America is a “gun culture” that was “built on the backs of slaves.” He has his own methods of training and nutrition, and they aren’t like those of most NFL players. He hopes to go into acting and writing after his football career is over.

According to, all those off-field interests sometimes caused some minor friction in the building.

There are some organizations that would be fine with all of that. But the Jaguars are now an organization run by Tom Coughlin who is very much an old-school football guy. And he wants to surround himself with old-school football guys.

If Odrick had played 16 games and recorded 10 sacks last season, the Jaguars would probably not have much of a problem with his off-field interests. But Odrick played six games and had one sack. That’s not the kind of production that can withstand “minor friction.”

For his part, Odrick doesn’t seem too broken up about it. He posted on Instagram a picture of himself at what he says was the moment he found out the Jaguars cut him. He’s at the beach, with a grin on his face.

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Pat Shurmur focusing on new approach for Vikings offense

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 7: Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur of the Philadelphia Eagles watches his team warm up prior to the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 7, 2014 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings offense floundered in 2016 for a myriad of reasons. Adrian Peterson missed most of the season to injury, Norv Turner resigned as offensive coordinator midseason, Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the year in the preseason and an offensive line that only resembled blockers far too often were among the biggest issues the Vikings had to deal with it.

Now with Pat Shurmur able to rebuild the team’s offense over the course of an entire offseason, the Vikings are hopeful they’ll be in a better position to move the football and score points next season.

There will be things we do where we’ll be able to operate differently. Some of the plays will look different maybe in special situations,” Shurmur said of the team’s offense, via the Vikings official website. “But the key thing is that we have to do a better job of running the football in all situations, and I think that will be a focal point.

“From an offensive standpoint, you have to be able to score points so we need to be more efficient running the ball, hopefully more explosive, and then when we get in there close we have to score points.”

The Vikings finished last season ranked 28th in the league in total offense, averaging just 315.1 yards per game. They ranked 23rd in points per game with 20.4 points per game as well. Shurmur has some new coaches on the offensive staff as well. Kevin Stefanski is the new quarterbacks coach and Darrell Hazell has taken over as receivers coach. Now the Vikings will look to retool their approach this offseason and get their offense moving forward.

“I was excited about being able to be here,” Shurmur said. “I enjoyed my (first) year, and it’s just a matter now of getting to work and trying to put together an offense and a staff that we feel good about for next season.

“It’s more than just plays, it’s a mindset and how you operate. I think as we move forward, we’ve added some new coaches that have some new ideas, so what you try to do is incorporate the best of everyone that’s in the room and then move forward so it becomes the 2017 Vikings offense.”

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Real Sports profiles Robert Kraft

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05:  New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft walks on the sideline before Super Bowl 51 between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Patriots bask in the afterglow of a fifth Super Bowl win, their owner will step into the spotlight of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

A profile of Robert Kraft will be included in Tuesday’s episode of the show (10:00 p.m. ET/PT), with Andrea Kremer having exclusive access to him. Coincidentally (or not), Kremer will join Tuesday’s PFT Live to discuss the project.

It’s part of an offseason priorities series that focuses coincidentally (or not) on the AFC East on Tuesday. Other guests include Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald and Tom Curran of CSN New England.

Tune in at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio. The show then slides to NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET for the final two hours.

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Kirk Cousins won’t sign new deal before application of franchise tag

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 24:  Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins looks to pass the football in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington has nine days to apply the franchise tag to quarterback Kirk Cousins. One way to avoid using it would be to sign Cousins to a long-term deal before then.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Cousins won’t be doing that.

As explained last week in reference to all players facing the tag, there’s no reason to do it before the player is tagged. The formula for doing a long-term deal doesn’t change after the tag is applied, and the deadline for turning the tag into a long-term contract continues to be July 15.

Absent a significant premium, Cousins has every reason to sit tight and draw a second franchise tag. By rule, he’d be essentially insulated from ever being franchise-tagged again, since he’d be entitled to a 44-percent raise over his franchise tag or a similar markup upon application of the franchise tag for the third time in his career.

And so the flow chart for Washington is simple through March 1: Tag him or don’t tag him. If he’s tagged, Cousins will rush to sign it, adding $23.94 million to the $19.95 million he earned last year. Then, talks on a long-term deal likely will consist of Cousins receiving $23.94 million fully guaranteed in 2017, plus a 20-percent raise (reflecting the increase arising from use of the transition tag) fully guaranteed for 2018. It’s a total of $52.67 million over two years; for anything less than that, Cousins should again take it year to year.

Before anyone accuses Cousins of being greedy, unreasonable, or not “worth” a contract that would make him the highest paid player in the NFL history, he’s simply playing the cards he has been dealt under the CBA and the salary cap. Washington could have signed him to a very reasonable long-term deal after his third season or during his fourth season. Once he completed his rookie contract healthy and effective, the leverage swung to Cousins — and he has taken full advantage of it.

If fans are inclined to blame Cousins for that, the blame is better directed at the team, for not giving Cousins a reasonable degree of financial security until he was in position to finagle nearly $44 million over two years.

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Scott Turner will join Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 3: View of a Michigan Wolverines football helmet before their game against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

After being fired by the Vikings last month, Scott Turner will land on Jim Harbaugh’s staff at the University of Michigan, reported Monday.

Turner was the Vikings’ quarterbacks coach the last three seasons. Per the report, he’ll be an offensive analyst at Michigan under Harbaugh and Pep Hamilton, who left his job as quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach with the Browns last month to join Harbaugh’s staff as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.

Turner is the son of former Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who resigned during the 2016 season. Prior to that, Turner was the wide receivers coach with the Browns in 2013 when his father was the offensive coordinator. He had coached in high school and in the college ranks before getting his first NFL job as quality control coach with the Panthers in 2011.

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Running back franchise tender won’t drop if Adrian Peterson is released

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 08:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers hands off to Le'Veon Bell #26 during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the franchise tag deadline approaches, the Steelers haven’t ruled out using it on running back Le’Veon Bell. If they do, the price of it will have nothing to do with the future of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Under the 2011 CBA, the non-exclusive franchise tenders are determined based not on what any one player made in 2016 or will make in 2017, but on the five-year average of the percentage that the tenders for each position consume under the total cap. For running backs, the 2017 franchise tender will equate to 7.257 percent of the overall cap. At a salary cap of $165 million, that’s a tender of $11.9 million.

NFL Network has suggested that a decision by the Vikings to cut Adrian Peterson will cause that number to drop to $8 million. It won’t. Peterson’s $18 million cap number for 2017 is relevant only to the exclusive tag, which is based on the average of the five highest cap numbers at the position the coming year.

Via, the five highest running back cap numbers for 2017 belong to Peterson, Bills running back LeSean McCoy ($8.875 million), Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart ($8.25 million), Texans running back Lamar Miller ($6.5 million), and Titans running back DeMarco Murray ($6.25 million). Even with Peterson’s $18 million, the next four drag the average down to $9.5 million If Peterson is cut, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles replaced Peterson at No. 5, with a cap number of $6.187 million. That reduces the average to $7.2 million.

As it relates to the exclusive version of the tag, none of that matters; under the CBA, the exclusive tender can be no less than the non-exclusive tender. (The same dynamic applied a year ago to Broncos linebacker Von Miller.)

The broader lesson from this quick excursion is that the Steelers should consider applying the exclusive version of the tender to Le’Veon Bell, sealing off his opportunity to negotiate with other teams and potentially signing an offer sheet elsewhere. Then again, if the Steelers could get two first-round picks for Bell, they should consider pouncing on the opportunity, since a pair of first-rounders (theirs and someone else’s) could be needed to trade up to get their next franchise quarterback, in 2017 or 2018.

Either way, it will cost them 7.257 percent of the salary cap to squat on Bell’s rights for one more year. No specific player’s cap number for 2016 or 2017 will make it any less than that.

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Victor Cruz says Panthers visit “went well,” but nothing is imminent

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 18:  Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants celebrates a catch against the Detroit Lions  during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Former Giants receiver Victor Cruz is looking for a job, and his first stop happened with former Giants executive Dave Gettleman.

Cruz told Art Stapleton of that the visit to the Panthers “went well.” Stapleton adds that no deal is imminent, even though interest is mutual. Other visits could occur; currently, none are scheduled.

The Panthers need a slot receiver, and Cruz could fit the bill. With a head start on the open market, however, it makes sense for him to consider his options.

Undrafted out of the University of Massachusetts in 2010, Cruz became a star in 2011 with 1,536 receiving yards and nine touchdowns during the team’s most recent Super Bowl season. In 2012, he generated 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns. The following year, Cruz got within two yards of 1,000 despite missing two games.

Injuries wiped out most of the next two seasons. Last year, Cruz managed only 586 yards as the third fiddle behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard.

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Texas governor retreats from law that would force NFL players to stand for anthem

DALLAS, TX - JULY 08: Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at Dallas's City Hall near the area that is still an active crime scene in downtown Dallas following the deaths of five police officers last night on July 8, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. Five police officers were killed and seven others were injured in the evening ambush during a march against recent police involved shootings. Investigators are saying the suspect is 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson of Mesquite, Texas. This is the deadliest incident for U.S. law enforcement since September 11. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The governor of Texas recently attacked the NFL for trying to squeeze the Lone Star State into not passing a bathroom bill. Part of the response included a threat to push for a law that would apply to a certain kind of stand-or-sit decision that some NFL players have begun to make.

“The NFL has coddled its players who refused to stand for the national anthem,” Greg Abbott said on FOX News, via “Imagine this, if the NFL decides to come down on the state of Texas, I might just pass a bill here in the state of Texas mandating that all NFL players have to stand and put their hand on the heart when the national anthem is played.”

After some pointed out that such a law would be grossly unconstitutional, a spokesman said that Abbott was engaging in “intentional hyperbole” aimed at “demonstrating the NFL’s own shortcoming of how they are disconnecting with their fan base by allowing players to disrespect the U.S. flag.”

So, basically, Abbott can’t pass a law forcing players to stand for the anthem, but he apparently would if he could, since the NFL’s fan base apparently believes players should be forced to stand for the anthem. Constitution notwithstanding.

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Julius Thomas has meeting, physical set in Miami Tuesday

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The expected trades of tight end Julius Thomas from the Jaguars to the Dolphins and offensive tackle Branden Albert from the Dolphins to the Jaguars are awaiting final details, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday evening.

Thomas will be in Miami Tuesday for a physical, one of the final steps to the trade being finalized. Rapoport tweeted that Thomas has agreed to re-do his contract.

Per the report, the Jaguars will give up a 2018 late-round pick for Albert, who spent Monday in Jacksonville and is expected to discuss his contract with team officials Tuesday. Though it was originally reported that a player-for-player swap could happen, these trades are expected to be processed separately.

The Dolphins will give up a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft for Thomas, who had his best seasons in 2013-14 with the Broncos when Dolphins head coach Adam Gase was the offensive coordinator in Denver.

No trades can be made official until the new league year opens March 9.

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