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Rex Ryan says Jets will stick with Sanchez

Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez AP

You can set your clock to the beats of the 2012 Jets season.

The Jets go out and lose a game, usually with an offensive performance fit for a snuff film, and then Rex Ryan gets up in front of the media and tells them that Mark Sanchez remains the team’s starting quarterback. The Jets took care of the first half with a 28-7 loss in Seattle and Ryan took care of the second a few minutes later.

During his postgame press conference, Ryan said that he felt Sanchez gives the team their best chance to win. As such, Sanchez will remain the team’s starting quarterback after a 9-of-22, 124-yard performance that included a pair of turnovers. You wouldn’t expect Ryan to say something much different in the postgame scrum, certainly not after hearing him say it after most of the first eight games this season, but it’s harder to understand why Ryan feels that way.

At some point someone has to be accountable for how awful the Jets offense looks pretty much every week of the season. Sanchez isn’t the only problem, but he is the only player on the team who can be replaced by a player who started for a playoff team last season. Going to Tim Tebow probably wouldn’t save this Jets season, but how many times can you really watch the same results without at least trying something different?

If Ryan sticks to his word, the answer is at least 10 times for the Jets.

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Joe Mixon: I made a bad decision, I can’t take it back

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

Former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon won’t be at the Scouting Combine this week. The NFL didn’t invite him because of the infamous incident in which he punched a woman, seriously injuring her. But Mixon is hoping to get a chance to tell NFL teams he has learned from the ugly assault.

Mixon said this morning on PFT Live that he has grown as a person and hopes NFL teams will believe that.

“I made a bad decision,” Mixon said. “Ever since that night I have to live with it. I’ve got to re-live it every day. You can never forget something like that. It still haunts me to this day, but it’s what you do from that point on. You can’t take it back. I can replay it in my head a thousand times, and if I could take it back I would, but I can’t.”

Mixon said he still believes he can be a good role model and wants to earn the privilege of playing in the NFL.

“I’m trying to educate youth throughout the community and having them learn from my mistakes,” Mixon said.

No one doubts that Mixon is good enough to play in the NFL, but there are some doubts about whether any owners will want the video of Mixon knocking a woman to the ground playing on the local news, which will happen in any city where the team drafts Mixon. He’s hoping that by speaking publicly now, he can convince a team that drafting him won’t be a public relations nightmare.

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Mario Addison: Only thing I needed was the opportunity

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Addison #97 of the Carolina Panthers sacks quarterback Case Keenum #17 of the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter of the game at the Los Angeles Coliseum on November 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

Defensive end Mario Addison won’t be hitting free agency when the new league year opens next week.

Addison has a new three-year contract with the Panthers worth a reported $22.5 million, which means a player who entered the league as an undrafted free agent has found a home after bouncing through three other teams in his first two NFL seasons. Addison didn’t get many chances with the Bears, Redskins or Colts, but has seen his playing time with the Panthers go up steadily while recording 22 sacks over the last three seasons.

“If you bounce around here and there, it kind of makes you discouraged,” Addison said, via the Charlotte Observer. “And I will be the first to admit that I got a little discouraged in the beginning of my career. I never gave up, because I know the things I could do. The craziest thing about it was, I was playing on teams that had young guys like me that were just drafted. And I kept thinking to myself, ‘You are better than those guys. Only thing you need is the opportunity.'”

Addison has remained a situational player for the Panthers, but may be called on to do more over the life of his new contract. It’s something he said he believes he can do, because “the sky is the limit” for a player who has already exceeded many expectations.

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Monday morning one-liners

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:   Nick Mangold #74 of the New York Jets takes the field for their game against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Which free agent wide receivers will be on the Bills’ radar?

The Dolphins are running short on time to keep WR Kenny Stills from hitting the open market.

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski appeared to be enjoying himself at the Daytona 500.

Will going young put Jets coach Todd Bowles in a tough spot?

S Matt Elam’s arrest guarantees he’ll rank among the Ravens’ worst draft picks.

Would the Bengals consider a receiver in the first round?

The Browns have a lot of scouting work to do this week.

Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert wants the combine to be a scouting event first and entertainment second.

The promise of J.J. Watt’s return makes the Texans defensive line an imposing unit.

Is a taller wideout in the cards for the Colts?

Toughness was a big theme of Jaguars executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin’s press conference last week.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey is keeping his eye on the rest of the AFC South.

LB Steve Russ is the only player from Air Force who has been drafted by the Broncos.

The Chiefs inducted WR Carlos Carson into their team Hall of Fame.

Breaking down the Raiders tight ends.

Former Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson was the honorary starter at the Daytona 500.

Former Cowboys running backs would like to see the new one do less hurdling.

A look at what the Giants might do at linebacker this offseason.

A handful of guards that might interest the Eagles in the draft.

Is C Nick Mangold a possibility for the Redskins?

Quarterback and defensive back are both big needs for the Bears.

The Lions should be watching the safeties at the combine.

A call for the Packers to address defensive needs through free agency.

The Vikings want to win more battles inside the 5-yard-line.

A look back at the combine workout that helped Vic Beasley land with the Falcons.

More moves are likely coming on the Panthers defensive line.

The musts, needs and wants of the Saints offseason.

Examining whether C Nick Mangold would be a fit with the Buccaneers.

Nick Folk could factor into the Cardinals’ kicking decisions.

Will the 49ers follow a similar blueprint to the one the Raiders used in recent years?

Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse has been spending time with high school kids this offseason.

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Report: Bears not expected to tag Alshon Jeffery again

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 31:  Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on October 31, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s no doubt Alshon Jeffery has talent, and hasn’t had the best supporting cast around him lately. But it doesn’t appear the Bears are willing to invest more than $17 million for a year to make sure he stays.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Bears are not expected to use the franchise tag again on the wide receiver.

This one is practically #asexpected, mostly because Jeffery hasn’t been very good the last two years. He’s missed 11 games with a combination of injuries and a PED suspension, and he’s barely topped 800 yards in each of them.

After totaling 2,554 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns the two years before, he seemed poised to break the bank. But it appears he’ll get a chance at the market now.

There should still be plenty of interest in the 27-year-old Jeffery, but it appears the Bears aren’t willing to pay a premium price for one more season of him.

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Adrian Peterson’s father lobbying for a way to keep son a Viking

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 1: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Rams on September 1, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Rams 27-25. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

The lobbying effort to keep Adrian Peterson in Minnesota has begun, and it appears the Vikings running back is willing to be flexible in terms of how much he’ll make next year.

Via ESPN, Peterson’s father Nelson Peterson said he hopes his son gets to wrap up his career where it started.

“Finishing your career in one place [has value],” the father said. “I look at how Arizona treated Larry [Fitzgerald], how they are taking care of guys who have been there.”

Fitzgerald may have given the Cardinals a bit of a break in his last extension, and played for $11 million last year. He responded with a league-high 107 receptions.

Peterson’s under contract for $18 million this year, including a $6 million roster bonus due March 11. The degree to which he’s prepared to bend off those obviously inflated numbers may determine how willing they are to keep him, if they don’t want to release him.

Peterson’s 31, and because of injuries and suspension, he’s had one good season and two lost ones in his last three. He led the Vikings to the playoffs in 2015 with 1,485 rushing yards, but was averaging just 1.9 yards a carry last year before he got hurt.

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Rob Gronkowski wants Martellus Bennett to break the bank

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 07: Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett of the New England Patriots celebrate during the Super Bowl victory parade on February 7, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime in Super Bowl 51. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) Getty Images

Rob Gronkowski doesn’t want his fellow Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett to take a team-friendly deal to stay in New England this offseason.

Instead, Gronkowski is urging Bennett to try to strike it rich in free agency.

“I’m hoping that he breaks the bank,” Gronkowski told ESPN. “Whenever you see a tight end break the bank, it’s good for the industry; it’s good for the position. You want to see the position grow.”

Bennett doesn’t like it when people tell him he should take less money to stay in New England, but he may like hearing Gronkowski’s thoughts. Even if Bennett will have to leave New England to break the bank.

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Joe Mixon visits PFT Live on Monday

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 12:   Running back Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners warms up before the game against the Baylor Bears November 12, 2016 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Baylor 45-24. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL won’t let Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon visiting the Scouting Combine. As Scouting Combine week begins, he’ll be visiting PFT Live instead.

The man who was captured on video with a vicious knockout punch to a young woman in 2014 is one of the most controversial draft prospects in recent years. Some say he would be a second-round or maybe even a first-round prospect if his off-field record were clean. Now, it’s far less clear — in part because plenty of teams won’t consider drafting him in any round.

If he is drafted, the team that takes him needs to be prepared for a backlash that could potentially force the team to renounce its rights to Mixon.

Regardless of whether and when he’s drafted, Mixon should be in Indianapolis this week, going from room to room and being grilled in 15-minute increments about the incident and whether he has shown true remorse or whether he’s simply saying what he thinks teams want to hear. I plan to ask him some of the same questions he’d face if he were in Indianapolis, based on information obtained from multiple teams about the questions they would be asking, if Mixon were there.

He’ll be calling the show at 8:35 a.m. ET. Before that, we’ll talk to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as we take a look at the offseason priorities for the teams of the AFC North. The show begins at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the NBCSN simulcast commencing at 7:00 a.m. ET.

Listen at Sirius 213, XM 202, NBCSportsRadio.com, the NBC Sports Radio app, and on any of the many terrestrial stations that carry the show.

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Eric Berry: “Not getting my hopes up” about long-term deal

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 13:  Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after a play against the Carolina Panthers in the 1st quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The deadline for teams to use the franchise tag comes this Wednesday and one player who would like to see the day pass without the tag being used is Chiefs safety Eric Berry.

Berry played out the 2016 season under the terms of the tag and is a candidate to get it again unless he and the team can agree to a deal before the March 1 deadline. There have been talks and Berry said Sunday, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com, that his choice would be to sign a multi-year contract in the next few days, but he didn’t sound terribly optimistic that they’ll strike a deal.

“I’m just being patient because you never know…I’m not getting my hopes up,” Berry said.

Tagging Berry would set his salary at around $13 million, although he reiterated that his vow not to play out another year on the tag. A second tag for the safety would also leave them a little less than a week to talk about a contract with defensive tackle Dontari Poe before other teams can open up dialogue with the impending free agent as well.

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Derrick Brooks to Jameis Winston: “That’s the fishbowl you live in”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers  linebacker Derrick Brooks warmsup against the Buffalo Bills September 18, 2005 in Tampa.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Much was said this week about the boys-are-strong-girls-are-silent comments from Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. Hall of Fame Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks had a few things to say directly to Winston, primarily to help him avoid similar problems in the future.

That’s the fishbowl you live in,” Brooks told Jameis, according to a Sunday interview with Brooks on 102.5 FM in Tampa, via JoeBucsFan.com.

Instead of criticizing Winston or criticizing the media for criticizing Winston, Brooks focused on looking ahead. He told Winston that he shouldn’t “go into a turtle shell,” and that he should consider techniques other than long speeches when speaking to kids.

On one hand, Winston could be doing far worse things than trying to inspire and guide youth; he should be praised for that effort and encouraged to continue it. On the other hand, his seat-of-the-pants attempt to deal with one boy who didn’t seem to be enthused by Winston’s speech resulted in comments that revealed a laughably outdated mindset regarding gender-based stereotypes that mainstream society ditched in the 1960s.

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Panthers keep Mario Addison with new three-year deal

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) works in the backfield as Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison (97) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt) AP

The Panthers have signed defensive end Mario Addison to a new contract, keeping the pass rusher in their rotation and off of the free agent market.

Addison, 29, had a career high 9.5 sacks last season. He has 21 of his 25.5 career sacks over the last three seasons with the Panthers.

Per NFL Network, the new deal is for three years and a total of $22.5 million.

Addison would have been a free agent at the start of the new league year on March 9 had he not signed the new contract. He’s been with the Panthers since 2012 after being signed off of Washington’s practice squad. He’s been mostly used as a pass-rush specialist and has only started one game in the last three seasons.

A former undrafted free agent, Addison broke into the league with the Bears and spent time with the Colts before signing with Washington’s practice squad and first landing with Carolina in Dec. 2012. The Panthers also signed him a two-year extension prior to the 2014 season.

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Team-by-team look at potential tag candidates

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 29: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins looks on in the third quarter of a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Matt Hazlett/ Getty Images) Getty Images

With only a few days left and no tags applied, it’s time to take a look at where the franchise and transition tags could land between now and Wednesday, March 1.

So let’s take our annual team-by-team look at the tag candidates. Better never than late.

Dolphins: No tags are likely in Miami. Receiver Kenny Stills will likely get No. 1 money elsewhere, and the Dolphins can’t justify tagging him with Jarvis Landry on the roster and now eligible for a second contract.

Bills: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore wants big money on a long-term deal. He’ll get a chance to get it elsewhere; the franchise tag is unlikely for the man who has finished a five-year rookie contract in Buffalo.

Jets: A season after tagging Muhammad Wilkerson, they’ve got no impending free agents worthy of the tag this year.

Patriots: Linebacker Dont’a Hightower has surmised that the trade of Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins makes it more likely that Hightower remains in the long-term plans. Absent a long-term deal before March 9, only the franchise tag will ensure another year with the guy who made one of the key plays in Super Bowl LI. For now, whether it’s used remains up in the air.

Steelers: Running back Le’Veon Bell is the prime candidate, but the expected investment of $12 million could be too much for the Steelers. The transition tag is a possibility as well, if no other team would be willing to offer huge money for a guy with a history of injuries and suspensions.

Bengals: Tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler are the two top candidates. Because all offensive lineman are lumped into the same bucket for the franchise tag, however, guards and centers rarely if ever get tagged. Given Whitworth’s age and the team’s frugality, a tag for him isn’t likely, either.

Browns: Has receiver Terrelle Pryor done enough to merit the tag? It would be an amazing development if it happens, but the Browns need to find a way to retain a player who has yet to reach his ceiling at his new position — and who has the kind of zeal and passion for his team and his city that more Browns players need.

Ravens: Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is the team’s top candidate, but the Ravens haven’t been bashful about letting big-money players go and reloading from below. If they believe in Michael Pierce, the Ravens could be willing to let Williams walk — and to reel in a third-round compensatory draft pick in 2018 in return for him.

Texans: They seem to be willing to let cornerback A.J. Bouye hit the market and walk away.

Colts: To use the franchise tag, it’s important to have quality players beyond a franchise quarterback.

Titans: The biggest name to hit free agency belongs to guard Chance Warmack. Since guards get lumped in with tackles, it will be too expensive to tag a guy who didn’t do enough to prompt the Titans to pick up the fifth-year option.

Jaguars: One of the benefits of having a roster with talent that skews young is that none of the impending free agents cry out “tag me.”

Broncos: A year after a protracted and at times nasty fight with linebacker Von Miller, the Broncos have no tag-worthy free agents.

Chiefs: They’ll have to decide between $12.96 million for safety Eric Berry or roughly the same for defensive tackle Dontari Poe, if neither signs a long-term deal by Wednesday. Berry has said he won’t play under the franchise tag, even though his one-year haul would exceed the top of the market at the safety position.

Chargers: Quarterbacks and men who hit quarterbacks are the two most valuable types of player in today’s NFL. With Joey Bosa on one side and Melvin Ingram on the other, the Chargers need to keep both around. With Bosa in the second-year of a wage-scale contract, they can afford to tag Ingram.

Raiders: They reportedly expect running back Latavius Murray to leave. Which means they don’t expect to tag him. Which makes sense, since few running backs are worth $12 million or more for one year.

Cowboys: The Cowboys have a few free agents (like cornerback Morris Claiborne) but none that deserve to be tagged.

Washington: Quarterback Kirk Cousins will, by all indications, be tagged. Even though it will cost the team $23.94 million for 2017. On top of the $19.95 million paid last year.

Giants: Two years ago, they tagged Jason Pierre-Paul. And then he had a serious fireworks injury. Last year, he signed a team-friendly one-year deal. This year, they may be tagging him again. They should, given the way he performed in 2016.

Eagles: The Eagles have plenty of needs to address, and their cap space won’t be strapped by tagging one of their looming free agents.

Vikings: Their best free agents (Matt Kalil, Cordarrelle Patterson) aren’t good enough to justify the tag.

Packers: Not long ago, it appeared running back Eddie Lacy wouldn’t be tagged in 2017 because he’d have a long-term deal. He won’t be tagged for very different reasons.

Lions: Next year, Matthew Stafford (absent a new deal). This year, no one.

Bears: It doesn’t make sense to devote more than $17 million to receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has now had two consecutive subpar contract years. However, if coach John Fox and G.M. Ryan Pace are truly on the hot seat, it could be money well spent if it saves their jobs.

Panthers: Defensive tackle Kawann Short likely will be tagged. The only open question is whether, and when, he’ll sign it. And, if he doesn’t, whether the team will yank it.

Buccaneers: The best news for a team on the rise is that none of the free agents merit a tag

Falcons: The best news for a team in its prime is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

Saints: The best news for a team still stuck in neutral is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

Seahawks:  The best news for a team potentially on the decline is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

49ers: The best news for a team with nowhere to go but up . . . you get the idea.

Cardinals: Owner Michael Bidwill has said that defensive end Chandler Jones will be franchise-tagged absent a new deal.

Rams: They’re considering applying the franchise tag for the second straight year to cornerback Trumaine Johnson.

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Broncos set to hire second assistant offensive line coach of offseason

Broncos practice at Dove Valley Getty Images

The Broncos hired John Benton as their assistant offensive line coach shortly after hiring Vance Joseph as their new head coach, but Benton’s tenure turned out to be a brief one.

The Broncos granted a 49ers request to interview Benton for their offensive line coach opening and Benton got the job, leaving Denver again in need of someone to work with offensive line coach Jeff Davidson. Mike Klis of KUSA reports that they’ve settled on someone for that spot.

Klis reports that Chris Strausser will leave his job as the University of Washington’s offensive line coach in order to come to Denver. Strausser worked with Washington coach Chris Petersen at Boise State, which means his arrival in Denver will allow him to reunite with one of his former players.

Broncos center Matt Paradis played for Strausser in Boise and will be back in the middle of the line for the Broncos once he’s recovered from a pair of offseason hip surgeries.

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LeSean McCoy’s “Buffalo was so special” tweet isn’t a farewell

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills running back LeSean McCoy created a stir on social media with a tweet that “Buffalo was so special . . . thanks for everything.” Many are saying (sad!) that this is a farewell from McCoy, which in turn means that McCoy has been cut.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, McCoy hasn’t been cut. The message relates to an appearance (specifically, an autograph signing) that occurred in Buffalo on Saturday.

McCoy has a salary of $6 million and a cap number of $8.875 million in 2017. Those numbers have sparked speculation that the next coaching staff may decide to move on from him. Cutting him would result in a cap charge of $7.875 million; that amount could be spread over two years with a post-June 1 release.

Two years ago, the Eagles decided to move on from McCoy, ostensibly because his east-west style didn’t mesh with Chip Kelly’s one-cut zone running scheme. New offensive coordinator Rick Dennison uses a system that employs one-cut zone running. (Last year, McCoy thrived once Anthony Lynn became the offensive coordinator, installing running plays that gave McCoy options to hit an inside hole or bounce outside.)

So while Sunday’s tweet isn’t a goodbye, there’s still a chance that farewell is coming. If it happens, plenty of other teams will be line up to give McCoy an enthusiastic hello.

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Report: Raiders expect Latavius Murray to sign elsewhere

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Latavius Murray #28 of the Oakland Raiders carries the ball during the second quarter of the AFC Wild Card game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on January 7, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders returned to the playoffs in 2016 with the help of 12 touchdowns from running back Latavius Murray, but they reportedly aren’t planning on having him be part of the effort for a repeat trip to the postseason.

Murray is set to become a free agent next month and Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that the team expects he will sign with another team. Per Anderson, the team’s main focus on the contract front is on reaching extensions with quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Khalil Mack as they head into their fourth seasons.

Murray picked up 1,066 yards on 266 carries in 2015 and ran 195 times for 788 yards and those 12 touchdowns last season.

Anderson reports the Raiders will leave the door open for a return after Murray sees what’s available to him on the open market. Rookie Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington had success out of the backfield in complementary roles last year and the Raiders could look to this year’s draft for a bigger back to take Murray’s place in the mix.

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NFLPA shrugs at possibility of enforcement of federal marijuana laws

BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 09:  A participant smokes a marijuana joint while marching in the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Supporters of cannabis legalization are hoping legalized sale in parts of the USA will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany. The city of Berlin is considering allowing the sale of cannabis in one city district.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the Trump administration strongly hinting that federal law banning marijuana use will be enforced in states where recreational use has been legalized, the NFL Players Association sees no issue regarding its current effort to loosen the league’s current marijuana prohibition.

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah described the situation as “a CBA issue, not a law-enforcement issue” in a comment to the Denver Post.

“We are talking about how players get treatment under our jointly agreed upon drug policies, not any advocacy for federal vs. state statutes,” Atallah said.

Technically, he’s right. But the proliferation of state laws allowing marijuana use for medical or recreational reasons has created the perception that the NFL is out of touch and drifting from the mainstream on the issue. If, for example, the federal government were to remove marijuana from the list of banned substances, the NFL instantly would be under immense pressure to ditch the outdated Big Shield banishment of conduct that almost always happens away from work, often during the various months when players are left to their own devices.

If the White House stops the current legalization trend and whacks the seven states where recreational use is now legal, the NFL will remain justified to fold its arms tightly and insist on significant concessions to change the current rules. Which will make it harder for the NFLPA to nudge the league to change.

As a practical matter, no change at all is needed for the vast majority of NFL players. The smart ones who smoke marijuana know that they should stop smoking roughly a month before the opening of the annual window for the once-per-year drug test (PED testing can occur at any time) and quit until that one test happens. After that, the players can smoke at will until the following March — as long as they don’t get arrested or have a bag of weed fall out of their jackets and land on the shoes of the Commissioner.

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