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PFT’s Week Ten picks

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The lead is back to five.

Last week, we disagreed on one game:  Eagles at Saints.  I took the home team, MDS took the road team.  And I ended up 10-4 for the week to MDS’s 9-5.

This week, we disagree on twice as many games as last week.  Which sounds better than two.

For the year, I’m 83-49, and MDS is 78-54.  Yep, that’s a five-game lead.  Which definitely sounds better than two.

Colts at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The 5-3 Colts have an easy enough schedule the rest of the way that if they just win the games they should win, they’ll finish the season with a winning record. One of the games they should win is this one, and I think they will.

MDS’s pick: Colts 20, Jaguars 17.

Florio’s take:  The last time the Colts visited Jacksonville, a win by the home team ensured that Andrew Luck would head to Indy.  The Colts return as a playoff contender, intent on avenging a September home loss to the Jaguars.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 27, Jaguar 20.

Raiders at Ravens

MDS’s take: For a 6-2 team, the Ravens have a lot of question marks, especially on their aged and injured defense. But the Raiders have even more problems on defense, and I like Baltimore to win a high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 35, Raiders 31.

Florio’s take:  The Raiders aren’t as bad as you’d think, and the Ravens aren’t as good.  Look for Baltimore’s decimated run defense to thrive against Oakland’s decimated running game, and for the Ravens to do enough to fend off the Steelers as a pair of games against Pittsburgh loom on the schedule.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 31, Raiders 14.

Broncos at Panthers

MDS’s take: Broncos coach John Fox will win back at his old stomping grounds in Carolina, where Peyton Manning will pick apart the Panthers’ defense while Von Miller will make Cam Newton’s life miserable.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 28, Panthers 14.

Florio’s take:  John Fox returns to Charlotte with a quarterback far better than any he ever had when he coached the Panthers.  Against a team with plenty of guys Fox knows very well.  The Carolina winning streak ends at one.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 30, Panthers 20.

Giants at Bengals

MDS’s take: I could pick this game with confidence if I knew which Giants team was going to show up. Will it be the team that showed up for 60 minutes and pounded the 49ers, or the team that sleepwalked through long stretches of close wins against the Redskins and Cowboys, and a close loss to the Steelers? Given the way the Giants have played the last three weeks I’m tempted to go with the upset, but the Bengals’ defense has been so bad this season that Eli Manning simply has to have a good game.

MDS’s pick: Giants 29, Bengals 25.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals are in a free fall, and the Giants are caught in the early stages of their annual midseason swoon.  I’ve got more faith in the Giants getting it done, especially since Eli Manning will surely have the benefit of some insights from his big brother, who won four days ago in Cincinnati.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 31, Bengals 20.

Titans at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Dolphins missed a golden opportunity to establish themselves as the AFC wild-card frontrunners on Sunday against the Colts, but I still like the way this team is playing, especially on defense. The Titans got a tongue-lashing from their owner after another bad loss on Sunday against the Bears, but that won’t be enough to shake them out of their doldrums.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 35, Titans 17.

Florio’s takeJake Locker returns, his left shoulder coincidentally healing at the time Matt Hasselbeck lost his hot hand.  Locker will learn what everyone else has learned this year.  The Miami defense is pretty good.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 17, Titans 13.

Lions at Vikings

MDS’s take: When these teams met in Week Four in Detroit, the Vikings were bolstered by two kick return touchdowns and won 20-13. But the Lions have shored up their special teams problems, Vikings kickoff returner Percy Harvin is hurt, and the Lions should earn their first NFC North victory of the season in the rematch in Minnesota.

MDS’s pick: Lions 23, Vikings 10.

Florio’s take:  With a brutal post-bye schedule, this game could determine whether the Vikings will finish 6-10 or 5-11.  I’ll pick the Vikings now, primarily because it’s the last time I’ll pick them all season.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 23, Lions 20.

Bills at Patriots

MDS’s take: In another rematch of a Week Four meeting, the Bills’ defense is in big trouble.  It probably won’t get quite as ugly for Buffalo as it did in the Patriots’ 52-28 win in September, but the Patriots will put plenty of points on the board.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 38, Bills 20.

Florio’s take:  The Pats scored 45 points against the Rams in 60 minutes, and 45 against the Bills in 25.  New England needs to keep its foot on the gas in order to get ready for some tough challenges that are waiting in the postseason.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 38, Bills 21.

Falcons at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints have won three out of four, and a win here would signal that New Orleans really has turned its season around. Unfortunately, there are just too many holes on the Saints’ defense for New Orleans to stop a Falcons team that can attack with Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. This Falcons team just has too many weapons.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 27, Saints 21.

Florio’s take:  Halfway to an unblemished regular season, the Falcons simply don’t have the feel of a 16-0 team.  With four games against the Saints and Bucs over the balance of the year, the Falcons most likely won’t be.  It starts now, with the Saints staking their claim for a wild-card berth by hanging loss No. 1 on Atlanta.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 28, Falcons 27.

Chargers at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: With running back Doug Martin and a solid front seven on defense, the Bucs are becoming exactly the kind of team Greg Schiano wanted to build: A team that wins by running and stopping the run. Tampa Bay will do it again against a Chargers team that has yet to beat a good opponent all season.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 16, Chargers 14.

Florio’s take:  By playing last Thursday, the Chargers had some extra time to figure out how to stop the Muscle Hamster.  It won’t be enough.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 27, Chargers 21.

Jets at Seahawks

MDS’s take: Seattle is a tough team to play for anyone, but I see Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and his receiving corps having a particularly tough game against a good Seahawks secondary. Rex Ryan will have a good game plan to contain Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, but the Seahawks’ defense will lead the way to a low-scoring win.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 12, Jets 7.

Florio’s take:  The Pete Carroll-Mark Sanchez reunion provides a great story line.  But the bottom line is that it’s foolish to pick against the Seahawks at home.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 21, Jets 13.

Cowboys at Eagles

MDS’s take: Until Monday night, I was still a believer in the Eagles’ ability to turn their season around. But Philly’s offensive line looked terrible, the defense looked like it has taken a step backward with the departure of coordinator Juan Castillo, and the Eagles look like they’re ready to pack it in for the season. The Cowboys may still make a run at the playoffs, but the Eagles are done.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 24, Eagles 14.

Florio’s take:  It’s a early playoff game between two teams that are destined to miss the playoffs.  In the past two weeks, the Cowboys gave the Falcons a much better game in Atlanta than the Eagles gave the Falcons at home.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Eagles 21.

Rams at 49ers

MDS’s take: The 49ers’ defense has had a few letdowns, but when they’re on their game it’s just about impossible to score on them. And they’ll be on their game against a mediocre Rams offense.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 20, Rams 3.

Florio’s take:  Lost in the success of the Falcons and the Bears, the resurgence of the Packers, and the collapse of the Eagles, the Niners are ready to remind everyone that they may be the best team in the conference.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 27, Rams 9.

Texans at Bears

MDS’s take: In the best game of the week, the Bears’ opportunistic defense will try to force turnovers against a Texans offense whose quarterback, Matt Schaub, has only four turnovers all season. I like the Bears to get the best of it.

MDS’s pick: Bears 17, Texans 10.

Florio’s take:  The Texans haven’t been stepping up in high-profile games, which doesn’t bode well for the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 19, Texans 13.

Chiefs at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers are on a three-game winning streak and the Chiefs are in a tailspin. The Monday night game will be over by halftime, and millions of Americans will go to bed early.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 34, Chiefs 9.

Florio’s take:  Todd Haley gets a crack at the Chiefs.  But the Chiefs also get a crack at Todd Haley.  If this one were being played in Kansas City, I’d take the upset.  But it’s hard to imagine a one-win team toppling the Steelers in their own building.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 24, Chiefs 16.

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Trailblazing quarterback Bernie Custis dies at 88

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Decades before the NFL embraced African-American quarterbacks, Bernie Custis became the first in pro football in 1951 as the starter for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL. On Thursday, Custis died at the age of 88.

“Trailblazers are rightly remembered for being the first,” CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said, via the Associated Press. “Bernie Custis, the first black professional quarterback in the modern era starting with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951, should be revered as well for being one of our best. A world-class athlete, he excelled both as a quarterback and a running back. A tremendous leader, he was a successful coach who had a positive impact on countless young lives. A true gentleman, he brought honor to our game and our league, and provided us with a role model to emulate.”

The Browns made Custis the sixth overall pick of the 1951 draft. But Cleveland wanted to make him a safety, and Custis wanted to play quarterback. So he went to Canada.

Custis, who played college football at Syracuse and roomed with Al Davis, became a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

After his playing career ended, Custis spent 31 years in coaching at various levels.

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Earl Mitchell signs with 49ers

New York Jets v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

The 49ers have signed defensive tackle Earl Mitchell to a four-year deal, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported.

Per the report, Mitchell will sign a contract worth $16 million over the four years and will get $5.5 million in 2017.

Mitchell was released last week by the Dolphins, who cut him instead of paying him $4 million next season. He had taken visits with the Falcons, Broncos, Seahawks and 49ers before deciding to sign with the 49ers.

Mitchell, 29, spent the last three seasons with the Dolphins. He played in nine games and started five last season. Mitchell has 5.5 career sacks and two fumble recoveries.

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Will the Steelers use the transition tag on Le’Veon Bell?

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 30:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his touchdown during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Heinz Field on November 30, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Although the question of whether the Vikings cut running back Adrian Peterson won’t affect the amount of the franchise tag applicable to Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, there’s another development that will: Not using the franchise tag at all.

The Steelers could opt to use the transition tag instead of the franchise tag on Bell. The transition tag would give the Steelers a right to match any offer sheet that Bell signs elsewhere; the franchise tag would provide a right to match and two first-round picks as compensation if he leaves (breaking: no one will be giving up two first-round picks for Bell).

If no one is willing to give Bell the kind of contract he wants even without losing draft picks, he’d be eligible to stay in Pittsburgh on a one-year deal that equates to, per a league source, 5.892 percent of the 2017 salary cap. That’s considerably less than the 7.257-percent rate that applies under the franchise tag for running backs.

Based on a $165 million salary cap, those percentages equate to a franchise tender of $11.97 million and a transition tender of $9.72 million. For the Steelers, the question becomes whether it’s worth the extra $2.25 million to prevent another team from trying to pilfer Bell.

If the Steelers believe that no other team would break the bank for a guy who a significant injury history, a groin injury that was bad enough to at least make surgery an option, and a pair of substance-abuse policy violations, it makes plenty of sense to save the money and retain the rights to a running back who has been great when healthy and available, but who isn’t healthy and available often enough (he has missed 20 total games in four seasons) to justify that kind of investment.

In an era when the transition tag isn’t used on a regular basis, the Steelers have applied it twice in the last decade. In 2014, linebacker Jason Worilds received the transition tag. Ditto for tackle Max Starks six years earlier.

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Tom Coughlin tiptoes around commitment to Blake Bortles

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 12:  Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars calls a play during the first quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on October 12, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

For the most part, the Friday Tom Coughlin process was quintessential Tom Coughlin. Direct. Candid but guarded, and candid about being guarded. On one of the first questions, however, Coughlin was asked a direct question and evaded it.

Asked whether he is committed to Blake Bortles as the team’s starting quarterback, Coughlin opted not to say “yes” or “no.” The end result was a convoluted way of saying, “Maybe.”

“There’s plenty of work for everybody to do, Blake included,” Coughlin told reporters. “To raise the game to a higher level, it takes all components as well. That’s why I mentioned the protection first of all. Being at the right place at the right time, the timing, taking care of the football, which is paramount to that position. There can be no way the ball is turned over to that extent. I think he’d be the first one to say that he has a lot of work to do, but we all have a lot of work to do; I’m going to put it that way.”

That’s a way of saying that if Bortles doesn’t do the work, Coughlin and company will find someone who will. Long before the Jaguars know whether Bortles can do the work, they’ll have to decide whether to exercise the option for the fifth year of his rookie deal, which will equate to the transition tag for quarterbacks in 2017 (i.e., 11.409 percent of the 2017 salary cap).

At a 2017 cap of $165 million, that’s $18.82 million guaranteed for injury for a fifth season with Bortles. Based on Coughlin’s convoluted answer to a straightforward question, it’s hardly a slam dunk that they’ll pick up the option on or before May 3.

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Browns have 11 picks, will be busy again in April

Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, right, laughs as he answers questions during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Berea, Ohio. Jackson has experience as a head coach, knows the AFC North and has fixed quarterbacks. Jackson, who waited four years for his second crack at leading an NFL team, has been hired as Cleveland's next coach, the struggling franchise's eighth since 1999 and sixth since 2008. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is on the left. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) AP

Friday’s official announcement of compensatory picks for the 2017 NFL Draft allowed the Browns and other teams around the league to close the books on some previous business, specifically in finalizing trades and in knowing the exact spot in the order of certain picks they hold in this year’s draft.

As previously outlined, the Browns had agreed to send a third-round compensatory pick to the Patriots, if they got one, before last year’s trade deadline to acquire linebacker Jamie Collins. They did receive a compensatory third-round pick, No. 103 overall, so that goes to the Patriots.

The Browns also got a pair of fourth-round picks and one fifth-round compensatory pick. One of those fourth-round picks, No. 139 overall, will go to the Eagles as part of last year’s pre-draft trade that allowed the Eagles to move up and select Carson Wentz.

So, the Browns currently hold 11 picks in this year’s draft, including Nos. 1 and 12 in the first round and five of the first 65 picks. They tied a record by drafting 14 players last season.

This is the third consecutive year and fourth time since 2012 that the Browns have held 10 or more picks, and it goes without saying that the franchise is a bit overdue in using those picks to spark a turnaround.

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Compensatory picks are a reward for smart teams

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 3: Baltimore Ravens General Manager/Executive Vice President and Hall of Fame tight end, Ozzie Newsome (L), presents former offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden of the Baltimore Ravens with his Hall of Fame bust during the NFL Class of 2013 Enshrinement Ceremony at Fawcett Stadium on Aug. 3, 2013 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the NFL implemented compensatory draft picks in 1994, the idea was that the extra picks would lend a hand to the teams that got out-spent in free agency, which was then new in the league: Compensatory picks go to teams that lose more in free agency than they gain, and so the picks were envisioned as a safeguard against the rich raiding the rosters of the poor.

It hasn’t worked out that way, however. In a league with revenue sharing and a salary cap, there’s not much of a distinction between the rich and the poor.

Instead, compensatory picks have turned out to reward smart teams. The teams that have been wise about not over-spending in free agency and keeping themselves in good salary cap shape are the ones that keep getting lots of compensatory picks, while the teams that overspend in free agency are the ones that don’t receive compensatory picks.

As a result, the consistently good teams tend to be the teams that consistently get a lot of compensatory picks. And the teams that consistently try to spend themselves out of last place are the ones that don’t get a lot of compensatory picks.

The list of teams that have received the most compensatory picks since 1994 is pretty similar to the list of the best teams in football since 1994: The Ravens have received the most compensatory picks, and they’ve won two Super Bowls. The Packers have received the second-most, and they’ve also won two Super Bowls. The Patriots are fourth, and they’ve won five Super Bowls. The 10 teams that have had the most compensatory picks have won most of the Super Bowls since 1994, with a total of 14 titles for those 10 teams.

At the other end of the spectrum, the teams that don’t receive a lot of compensatory picks tend to be bad teams: There are 14 teams that have received fewer than 20 compensatory picks since the system started in 1994, and those 14 teams have won a combined two Super Bowls.

Compensatory picks help teams stock their roster with low-cost depth, which is helpful, but the real reason teams with a lot of compensatory picks do well is that teams with a lot of compensatory picks are good at managing their salary caps. A system that was supposed to reward the poor at the expense of the rich has actually rewarded the smart at the expense of the dumb.

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49ers sign wide receiver DeAndre Carter

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 18: DeAndre Carter #13 of the New England Patriots makes the catch as Taveze Calhoun #33 of the Chicago Bears defends in the second half of a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 49ers have signed wide receiver DeAndre Carter to a two-year contract.

Carter broke into the league with the Ravens following the 2015 draft. He has bounced around since then, spending time on the practice squad with the Raiders and Patriots. He went to camp with the Patriots last year before being waived in September.

The 49ers are expected to remake their receiving corps under new head coach Kyle Shanahan, so Carter will go to camp with a chance to earn a roster spot.

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Placement of chip in football poses another challenge

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Detail of NFL footballs during the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals and Seahawks tied 6-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

As Mike Pereira explains it, putting a chip in the football won’t help with rulings that depend on determining when a player’s knee hits the ground. There’s another issue with embracing ball-chip technology.

A source with extensive knowledge of the efforts to develop improved football technologies tells PFT that the question of where to place the chip also has vexed those trying to come up with a way to determine digitally the question of whether the ball crosses a boundary or breaks a plane.

“If we are counting on the chip to provide exact ball placement at the time the runner is ruled down that placement will oftentimes be inaccurate depending on how the ball is being carried,” the source explained. “Assume the chip is in the left tip of the ball and the runner has that end tucked in his elbow. When he’s ruled down it’s the opposite end that accurately places the ball.”

It’s a great point, and it means that, as a practical matter, a football would need to have sufficient chips to create a digital map of its location in relation to yard markers, sidelines, goal lines, etc.

Which means that it would make a lot more sense to suspend efforts to digitize the football and instead put cameras in as many places as possible to give a full and complete universe of angles and looks to ensure that officials will be able to quickly and efficiently determine whether the ruling on the field was right or wrong.

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Giants go from No. 130 to No. 140 in draft due to walkie-talkie penalty

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 18:  head coach Ben McAdoo of the New York Giantslooks on 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

The NFL’s announcement of compensatory picks on Friday included handing the Browns with the 139th overall pick and the Rams with the 141st overall pick, but No. 140 was not included in the additional picks distributed around the league.

That pick near the end of the fourth round belongs to the Giants, who wound up in that spot as a result of league discipline.

After the Giants were found to be using walkie-talkies on the sideline in violation of league rules during a game last December, the league ruled that the Giants would see their fourth-round pick drop down the draft order. The team will also pay a $150,000 fine while head coach Ben McAdoo, who used the device when his regular connection to quarterback Eli Manning went out, will pay a $50,000 fine.

The Giants did not receive any compensatory picks in this year’s draft after going on a defensive free agent buying spree last offseason that got them back to the postseason for the first time in five years.

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Past trades net Patriots, Titans third-round compensatory picks

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10: Wide receiver Steve Smith #89 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by outside linebacker Jamie Collins #51 of the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Browns and Patriots agreed on a trade sending linebacker Jamie Collins from New England to Cleveland, the pick going back to the Patriots was unknown.

If the Browns got a third-round compensatory pick, they would convey it to the Patriots. The Browns found out that they did get a compensatory pick on Friday, so the 103rd overall pick will be in play for Bill Belichick to use in April. The Patriots now have two third-round picks and two fifth-round picks to go with selections in the first, second, fourth (they acquired one in a trade during last year’s draft to offset the one stripped by the NFL in Deflategate) and seventh rounds.

This is the first year that teams have been allowed to deal compensatory picks in trades and the Patriots weren’t the only ones adding a third-round selection to their collection. The Titans will pick at No. 100 with the Rams sending their compensatory pick to Nashville in last year’s trade for the first overall pick.

The Browns were rewarded with four compensatory picks, but they will only have two come the draft. They also agreed to send a fourth-round compensatory pick to the Eagles as part of Philly’s deal for the No. 2 overall pick last year. They received two of them and it is believed the higher of the picks — No. 139 overall — will go to the Eagles.

Cleveland also received a compensatory selection in the fifth round to go with the nine other picks under their control.

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Eleven teams get compensatory third-round picks

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 12: Olivier Vernon #54 of the New York Giants of the New York Giants during warm ups before an NFL preseason game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on August 12, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Half the teams in the league ended up with extra draft picks Friday, with 11 teams getting an extra third-rounder.

The league announced compensatory choices, which are awarded to teams for net free agent losses the year before.

The highest pick, the 97th overall, went to the Dolphins, who were picked over last March, with defensive end Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller among their losses.

The Panthers, who pulled the franchise tag from cornerback Josh Norman and watched him go to Washington, were given the 98th pick. The Ravens (annually among the league leaders in comp picks) were 99th, followed by the Rams. The Broncos, Seahawks, Browns, Chiefs, Steelers, Seahawks again and the Jets also added third-round comp picks.

The Bengals, Browns, Broncos, and Chiefs each got four extra picks.

A total of 32 choices were handed out, with 16 teams receiving at least one. Unlike previous years, comp picks can be traded this year, which should spice up the second and third days of the draft. Here’s a look at the picks awarded:

3-97, Miami

3-98, Carolina

3-99, Baltimore

3-100, Los Angeles Rams

3-101, Denver

3-102, Seattle

3-103, Cleveland

3-104, Kansas City

3-105, Pittsburgh

3-106, Seattle

3-107, New York Jets

4-138, Cincinnati

4-139, Cleveland

4-141, Los Angeles Rams

4-142, Cleveland

4-143, San Francisco

4-144, Indianapolis

5-178, Cincinnati

5-179, Denver

5-180, Miami

5-181, Arizona

5-182, Kansas City

5-183, Cleveland

5-184, Green Bay

5-185, New England

5-186, Miami

6-218, Kansas City

6-219, Cincinnati

6-220, Kansas City

7-253, Cincinnati

7-254, Denver

7-255, Denver

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Adrian Peterson is perplexed that people doubt him

Adrian Peterson AP

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson knows a lot of people doubt he can ever return to his past greatness, but he doesn’t understand why.

Peterson told Josina Anderson of ESPN he’s perplexed by that talk. Peterson notes that he has previously recovered from a serious knee injury to have an MVP season, and he notes that in 2015 he led the league with 1,485 rushing yards. He sees no reason he can’t come back again and have another big year in 2017.

What Peterson may not want to admit, however, is what athletes often can’t admit to themselves: He’s getting old. Yes, he led the league in rushing in 2015, but even that year he was beginning to slow down toward the end of the season: Over the last eight games of 2015, counting the playoffs, Peterson averaged just 3.67 yards per carry. And at the start of 2016, before he suffered the torn meniscus that would allow him to play in just one more game all year, he was even worse: Peterson totaled 31 carries for 50 yards before suffering that meniscus tear in Week Two.

And the reality is, while Peterson still led the league in rushing at age 30 in 2015, for an NFL running back the difference between 30 and 32 is huge. There have been 25 running backs in NFL history who gained at least 1,000 yards at age 30. Only two of them, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith, also gained at least 1,000 yards at age 32. And neither Payton nor Smith suffered a serious knee injury at age 31, as Peterson did.

So while Peterson may have no doubt that he can return to form, it’s easy to understand why others doubt him. Every athlete gets old eventually, and for Peterson, that time has come.

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Mike Pettine Sr. passes away

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: A Cleveland Browns helmet rests on the field prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Browns 29-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

Mike Pettine Sr., a legendary high school football coach in Pennsylvania and father of former Browns head coach Mike Pettine Jr., passed away on Friday.

Per the Bucks County Times, Pettine Sr. was at his winter home in Florida when he passed.

Pettine Sr. was the coach at Central Bucks West High School in Eastern Pennsylvania for 33 seasons and won 326 games. He also won four state championships and won three consecutive state championships before retiring in 1999. His final year as coach was documented by ESPN cameras for a series called The Season.

Pettine Sr. was 5-0 against his son before Mike Pettine Jr. went to the NFL, first with the Ravens, then as defensive coordinator with the Bills before becoming head coach of the Browns in 2014-15. Pettine Sr. was often seen at Browns training camp and other offseason activities when his son was in Cleveland.

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Cardinals bringing back return man Jeremy Ross

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 01:   Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates his touchdown pass to Jeremy Ross #16 with Larry Fitzgerald #11 to take a 13-0 lead over the Los Angeles Rams during the second quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals brought Jeremy Ross in for a late look last year, and apparently want to take a longer one.

According to Adam Caplan of ESPN, the Cardinals have re-signed Ross to a one-year deal.

The journeyman special teamer was brought in last year after the Cards cut Michael Floyd following his DUI arrest, and appeared in two games.

He’s also spent time with the Jets, Ravens, Raiders, Lions, and Packers.

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Director of college scouting Matt Malaspina leaves 49ers, takes job with Packers

Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

When teams hire new General Managers, the move is usually followed by other departures from the personnel department and the 49ers are proving to be no exception.

They announced that assistant G.M. Tom Gamble is leaving the team and he’ll be followed out the door by director of college scouting Matt Malaspina. According to multiple reports on Friday, Malaspina is joining them as a college scout.

Malaspina spent the last 12 years with the 49ers and spent the last four years at the top of their college scouting hierarchy. He worked for the Seahawks and Panthers before joining the Niners.

The 49ers will likely be making further moves in their personnel department as new General Manager John Lynch puts his stamp on the front office. He’s already hired Adam Peters as vice president of player personnel and former Lions G.M. Martin Mayhew as a senior personnel executive.

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