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PFT’s Week 11 picks

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That five-game lead over MDS has grown to seven, with seven weeks left.

If anyone is capable of blowing this lead, I am.

This week, we disagree on three games.  Last week, we were 10-3-1 and 8-5-1, respectively.  (I would have predicted the Rams-49ers would end in a tie, if I’d known games could end in ties.)

For the year, I’m now 93-52-1.  MDS is 86-59-1.

Dolphins at Bills

MDS’s take: NFL Network gets the week started with a pretty lousy game, with the Dolphins reeling and falling out of AFC wild-card contention, and the Bills even further behind in the AFC East. I’m expecting the difference in this one to be Bills running back C.J. Spiller, who will do to the Dolphins’ defense the same thing that Titans running back Chris Johnson did to the Dolphins’ defense last week. Spiller will have a big game and lead the way as the Bills win.

MDS’s pick: Bills 28, Dolphins 20.

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins have cooled off.  The Bills were never hot.  It’ll be cold on Thursday night in Buffalo.  More importantly, it’s hard to imagine the Dolphins recovering  from Sunday’s debacle against the Titans in only four days.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 28, Dolphins 20.

Cardinals at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons are no longer undefeated and no longer viewed by many people as the best team in the league, but a home game against the Cardinals should be a nice way for Atlanta to get back in the W column. The Cardinals’ defense might be able to keep this game close, but Arizona’s offense won’t be able to do anything.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 16, Cardinals 9.

Florio’s take:  This is precisely the kind of game the Cardinals could steal.  The Falcons, fresh from their first loss, view Arizona as a show-up-and-win opponent — the puff-pastry appetizer to a two-pack of tough steaks in the form of the Bucs and Saints on a short week.  And the Cardinals have had two weeks to get ready for this one.  If I didn’t have a seven-game lead over MDS entering the week, I’d consider calling for the upset.  Instead, I’ll play a little prevent defense.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 35, Cardinals 21.

Buccaneers at Panthers

MDS’s take: Both of these teams have talented young quarterbacks, but it’s Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman who has taken a big step forward recently, while Carolina’s Cam Newton is looking shaky. The Bucs are entering the NFC playoff conversation with a win in Carolina.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 28, Panthers 14.

Florio’s take:  When the Bucs beat the Panthers 10 weeks ago, it was regarded as a surprise.  When the Bucs beat the Panthers this time, it won’t be.  Tampa has gradually improved, and Greg Schiano could soon be getting some coach of the year buzz.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 24, Panthers 16.

Browns at Cowboys

MDS’s take: This is the first of three straight home games, all against teams with losing records, for the Cowboys. So their schedule is setting up for them to go on a nice little run. After saving their season against the Eagles, the Cowboys won’t blow their season against the Browns.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 23, Browns 16.

Florio’s take:  The Cowboys get ready for their Thanksgiving date with the Redskins by feasting on the team that is the color of sweet potatoes, both fresh and digested.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Browns 17.

Packers at Lions

MDS’s take: When the Lions get their passing game going, they’re as dangerous an offense as there is in the NFL.  The Vikings were doing all they could to stop Calvin Johnson on Sunday, and he still went over 200 receiving yards. Unfortunately for Detroit, the Lions usually don’t get their passing game going until their defense and special teams have already given up an early lead. And the Packers are not the kind of team the Lions want to be playing catchup against.

MDS’s pick: Packers 23, Lions 20.

Florio’s take:  The Packers are ready to make their move to the top of the division.  The Lions already have made their move to the bottom.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 27, Lions 14.

Jaguars at Texans

MDS’s take: Given that Florio is way ahead of me in our season picks contest, I’m tempted to take the Jaguars here because I’m going to need to hit on some big upsets if I’m going to have any chance of catching up. But even though I think the Texans might be due for a letdown after their big win in Chicago, the Jaguars are so bad that the Texans should beat them even if they turn in their worst effort of the season.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Jaguars 13.

Florio’s take:  Didn’t this used to be an actual rivalry?  It’s not anymore, thanks to the fact that one team has an 8-1 record, and the other is 1-8.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 41, Jaguars 17.

Bengals at Chiefs

MDS’s take: Cincinnati’s big win over the Giants could be the first step toward a surprise late-season run back to the playoffs, and there’s no way the Bengals will stumble against a terrible Chiefs team.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 34, Chiefs 10.

Florio’s take:  Logic tells us that the winless-at-home Chiefs should fall to a Bengals team that found a way to knock off the defending NFL champions.  But the Chiefs are due to finally get that second pickle.  It won’t do much to make things better in Kansas City, but things won’t get worse — at least not this week.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 23, Bengals 20.

Colts at Patriots

MDS’s take: I’m a believer in the Colts, in the sense that I believe they are going to make the playoffs this season. But that’s largely because the Colts have an easy schedule the rest of the way, with four games remaining against teams that currently have losing records. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, this is one of the toughest games the Colts still have to play, and I just don’t think the Colts’ defense is good enough to keep Tom Brady and company in check. This game may be a first-round playoff preview, but it’s not a close game.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Colts 10.

Florio’s take:  A year after the annual Colts-Patriots game lost its luster with the absence of Peyton Manning, the arrival of Andrew Luck could help restore the sizzle.  With the Colts better than folks realize and the Pats not quite as good as believed, the Colts could steal this one.  They likely won’t, but they could.

Florio’s pick:    Patriots 28, Colts 24.

Jets at Rams

MDS’s take: Neither one of these teams is very good, but the Rams have a lot of young guys who look like they’re hungry and playing as hard as they can in every game, while the Jets have a bunch of veterans who look like they give up when they fall behind and anonymously snipe at each other in the media. Advantage Rams.

MDS’s pick: Rams 21, Jets 17.

Florio’s take:  Last week, Pete Carroll got a little revenge against the team that once fired him as its head coach.  This week, Brian Schottenheimer gets a shot at revenge against the team that fired him without really firing him as its offensive coordinator.  The fact that the Rams currently are good and the Jets aren’t will make it easier.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 20, Jets 10.

Eagles at Redskins

MDS’s take: Stick a fork in the Eagles. They’re already on the first five-game losing streak of Andy Reid’s career, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that losing streak extend all the way to the end of the season.

MDS’s pick: Redskins 28, Eagles 13.

Florio’s take:  The struggling Philly offense finally finds an equally struggling defense.  And the struggling Philly defense finally finds digs deep and finds a way to avoid getting torched.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 24, Redskins 21.

Saints at Raiders

MDS’s take: There’s not much doubt after the Saints beat the Falcons that New Orleans has turned this thing around. It should be easy to keep things going against a Raiders team that looks like it has given up on the season.

MDS’s pick: Saints 38, Raiders 17.

Florio’s take:  Dennis Allen knows the Saints offense well, given the time he spent there as a defensive backs coach.  Unfortunately, he lacks the personnel to slow it down.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 34, Raider 20.

Chargers at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Broncos may be playing the best football in the league right now. Peyton Manning has the offense humming, of course, but Von Miller is a defensive player of the year candidate, and Trindon Holliday is one of the most dynamic special-teams players in the NFL — at least as long as he remembers that you’re supposed to cross the goal line before you start celebrating your touchdown. This is a complete football team, and the Broncos will all but wrap up the AFC West with an easy win over the Chargers.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Chargers 13.

Florio’s take:  This one will look a lot more like the second half of their last meeting, not the first half.  And it could be the final two halves of football for Norv Turner in San Diego.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 31, Chargers 17.

Ravens at Steelers

MDS’s take: Ben Roethlisberger’s injury came at the worst possible time for the Steelers.  Before Big Ben got hurt, I was expecting the Steelers to beat the Ravens both this week in Pittsburgh and two weeks from now in Baltimore, and to take the lead in the AFC North. But with Byron Leftwich in for Roethlisberger, I like the Ravens.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Steelers 13.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers have played the Ravens close without Ben Roethlisberger.  And that’s when the Ravens actually had a great defense.  If the Steelers can run the ball effectively and if Byron Leftwich can start his elongated throwing motion quickly enough to get the ball out before Terrell Suggs plants him into the ground, the Steelers can hold serve at home.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 17, Ravens 13.

Bears at 49ers

MDS’s take: In a battle of teams that may be playing without their concussed starting quarterbacks, I have more faith in the 49ers’ ability to win by running the ball and playing good defense.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Bears 16.

Florio’s take:  Though the Bears likely won’t have another five-game free fall like they did last season, the losing streak will extend at least to two — regardless of who ends up playing quarterback for either team.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 20, Bears 13.

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Haloti Ngata ready to be a veteran leader in Year 2 in Detroit

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 25: Devin Taylor #98 and Haloti Ngata #92 of the Detroit Lions celebrate a tackle agist the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at Ford Field on October 25, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Haloti Ngata was traded from the Ravens to the Lions last offseason, he stayed in Baltimore for much of the summer, his family still lived there, and it took him a few months before he was really a fit in the Lions’ defense.

This year, however, Ngata signed a new contract, moved his family to Detroit, and he is a full participant in voluntary offseason work.

This is totally different,” Ngata told the Detroit Free Press at Organized Team Activities. “I’m here, family’s here so I don’t really have to worry about trying to find a house or where we’re going to stay, traveling back and forth. I’ve been here all off-season and it’s just been great.”

The 32-year-old Ngata said he “definitely” views himself as a team leader, to a greater extent than he was last year.

“I’m really the oldest guy now,” Ngata said.

A five-time Pro Bowler with the Ravens, Ngata is out to show he still has something left — and to show the younger players in Detroit how its done.

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Saturday one-liners

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They’re already calling 5-6 Dolphins WR Jakeem GrantMighty Mouse.” (Don’t tell UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.)

Here’s a closer look at the Bills’ nepotism-free coaching staff.

Patriots CB Darryl Roberts hopes to rekindle those Malcolm Butler comparisons.

It’s another click-harvest from NJ.com; this one somehow turns the Geno Smith or Bryce Petty roster-spot question into 10 of them.

Former Ravens LB Brandon Copeland now plays for Detroit, but relishes the chance to give back to Baltimore.

Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth is willing to play guard again, if that’s what the team eventually wants.

QB Bruce Gradkowski calls it a “blessing” to be back with the Steelers.

Can the new Browns regime get anything out of CB Justin Gilbert.

Texans QB Tom Savage says he’s “healthy and ready to roll.” (Right out of town?)

Ryan Davis is now a “Lotto” in the Jaguars defense, which means parts Leo (weak-side DE), part Otto (strong-side LB). (He’d probably rather be a Liger, since they are bred for their skills and magic.)

Colts QB Andrew Luck and WR T.Y. Hilton will attend the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Titans TE Delanie Walker says he doesn’t get to know any rookies until they make the team.

Is WR Emmanuel Sanders ready to become the offensive leader the Broncos need?

Criticized after drafting WR Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs met this week with representatives from six Kansas City-area domestic violence groups.

Chargers RB Chris Swain missed OTAs this week to graduate from the Naval Academy.

Here’s a look at the sound from the first weeks of Raiders OTAs.

How much longer can Cowboys TE Jason Witten continue to perform at a high level?

Giants RB Andre Williams, on the team’s plan to use a quartet of tailbacks in 2015: “I don’t think the four-headed monster was very scary.”

Washington TE Vernon Davis says that TE Jordan Reed “runs routes better than the best wide receiver in the league.”

Chip Kelly is gone from Eagles practices — and so is the non-stop music.

Bears WR Kieran Duncan hopes to show there’s more to him than 4.32 speed.

Lions WR Marvin Jones has a little Marvin Gaye in him.

Get to know Packers third-round LB Kyle Fackrell.

Vikings Hall of Fame DE Carl Eller spoke to the team’s rookies this week.

Falcons special-team coordinator Keith Armstrong said the team’s unit was average last year.

Panthers WR Ted Ginn said he doesn’t know what “lose a step” means. (Father Time eventually will explain it to him.)

Some aren’t surprised that Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan eventually sounded off about his time in New Orleans.

Here’s a recap of the first week of OTAs with the Buccaneers.

LB Ray-Ray Armstrong is competing for a starting job with the 49ers.

Here’s a list of five players to watch during Seahawks OTAs.

Cardinals K Chandler Catanzaro is working with special-teams coordinator Amos Jones to determine whether to kick off short in light of the new touchback rule.

Here’s a look at some old Rams billboards. (Which confirms that today’s PFT billboard would declare, “Slow news day.”)

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Broncos’ Brandon Marshall at OTAs without a contract

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 22:   Brandon Marshall #54 of the Denver Broncos waits on the field before the start of their game against the Houston Texans at  NRG Stadium on August 22, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Brandon Marshall who plays for the Jets is skipping Organized Team Activities even though he’s under contract, but the Brandon Marshall who plays for the Broncos is at OTAs even though he doesn’t have a contract.

Marshall, a starting inside linebacker in Denver, is a restricted free agent who has not signed his one-year, $2.533 million tender offer. But he says he’s comfortable enough in Denver that he feels OK about practicing now and worrying about his contract later.

“I love it here. I love it here, man,” Marshall told ESPN. “Ever since I got here, in 2013, they’ve treated me like family, even when I was on the practice squad. It just shows, I’m really all about ball, getting better and being with the team. . . . To stay away, that’s not me. I feel comfortable being here.”

Broncos G.M. John Elway has said he wants to get a long-term deal done with Marshall, and Marshall wants one as well. In the mean time, Marshall isn’t letting the lack of a contract hold him back.

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The Jets are finding willing media participants for their Fitzpatrick P.R. push

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22: D'Brickashaw Ferguson #60 of the New York Jets helps up Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets after Fitzpatrick scored a touchdown against the Houston Texans in the second half on November 22, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Texans won 24 to 17. (Photo by Thomas Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Friday, reports began to surface that the Jets offered weeks ago to free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick a three-year contract that would pay out $12 million in the first year. Curiously omitted from those reports were the rest of the details regarding the offer — details that would say plenty about its overall quality.

Let’s set aside for now the question whether Fitzpatrick deserves more than $12 million per year in light of: (1) the market for starting quarterbacks; (2) recent increases in the salary cap that haven’t sparked a similar spike in the starting quarterback market; and (3) the franchise-record 31 touchdown passes from Fitzpatrick’s first and only season with the franchise. The far more intriguing aspect of the latest Fitz-related developments is that some in the media have flat-out whiffed in their assessment of the information leaked by the team. (And of course it was leaked by the team.)

The biggest offender, from the perspective of the size and reach of the organization, has been the Associated Press. Consider this key portion of the AP article: “A person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press on Friday night that the Jets made a three-year offer to the quarterback in March that includes $12 million guaranteed in the first year. . . . The New York Post first reported the terms of the offer, which is higher than the previously reported amounts that were closer to $7 million per year. However, total guarantees and contract structure of the Jets’ standing offer are uncertain.”

That tail-on-the-donkey “however” doesn’t alter the characterization appearing immediately before it. Instead, it makes the overall message even more confounding.

Without knowing the structure of the full deal, it’s impossible to say that a $12 million payout in 2016 results in a three-year average that exceeds $7 million per year. If, for example, the offer pays out $9 million in 2017 and 2018, the three-year average is still $7 million.

For weeks, PFT  has heard that the problem isn’t the Year One payout but the rest of the deal. Without specific information about the rest of the deal, it’s impossible to characterize it in comparison to prior reports that the deal is worth $7 million annually.

Whether inadvertent or deliberate (the fact that the article later claims that Fitzpatrick “apparently” wants $18 million per year suggests the latter), the AP has helped the Jets’ not-so-subtle effort to overstate the value of the offer that Fitzpatrick has yet to accept as part of a P.R. push aimed at persuading unsettled Jets fans that the team is being reasonable and/or that Fitzpatrick isn’t. The better approach continues to be trying to find a middle ground, but the Jets apparently aren’t willing to yield in their position.

The John Elway take-it-or-leave-it approach works best when there’s a freshly-minted Lombardi in the lobby. Four years ago, before the team went to a pair of Super Bowls, Elway didn’t lowball an aging and rickety Peyton Manning. With neither Peyton Manning in his prime nor any other franchise quarterbacks walking through the door for the Jets, the best play would be to find a fair middle ground between whatever the Jets want to pay and whatever Fitzpatrick wants.

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Native American activists criticize Washington Post poll

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The Washington Post poll that supporters of the local NFL team’s name believed would end the debate has potentially reinvigorated it — along with sparking a new debate over whether there should even be a debate about the propriety of the name.

On Friday, a group of Native American leaders and activists (i.e., not “white liberal journalists”) held a conference call aimed at further criticizing the poll.

Via the Associated Press, California State San Bernardino sociology professor James Fenelon called the poll “immoral.” He also echoed concerns that the poll was not representative of Native American communities. Likewise, Amanda Blackhorse, who serves as the lead plaintiff in the case attacking the team’s federal trademark protection, called the poll “misguided,” adding that it won’t diminish attacks against the name.

“This issue is not about polling,” National Congress of American Indians executive director Jackie Pata added. “This issue is about human rights.”

Some would say that these voices carry much more weight that 450 unverified self-identifying Native American adults who said in response to a series of questions about the name that the name doesn’t bother them. Moving forward, those voices need to find ways to get their message across in an effective and meaningful way.

As worthy as the cause may be, the opposition to the name has been at times disorganized, ebbing and flowing and all too often operating on a reactive instead of proactive basis. The movement would benefit greatly from a skilled and experienced P.R. professional who would launch a sustained assault on the name featuring, for example, conference calls occurring at a time other than the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. No matter how compelling the quotes, the messages sent Friday will rarely register on the national radar screen.

To launch the kind of P.R. push needed to impose pressure not on the team or the league but their sponsors, the movement first needs money. Stockpile enough of it through donations from those who believe that the name should go, and the Native American groups opposed to the name will have the foundation for devising ways to persuade Native Americans who oppose the name and non-Natives who agree with them to take the case to those truly in a position to compel a change.

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Sean Payton explains that loss of a week of OTAs isn’t a big deal

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints looks up at the clock while coaching against the Houston Texans in the third quarter on November 29, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Friday’s appearance on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio from Saints coach Sean Payton focused initially on the then-fresh claims from former Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan that he wasn’t running the unit when he was, you know, running the unit. (Payton called that notion “silly.”)

It also would have been silly not to take advantage of the time with Payton to address other topics of interest. With the interview happening during Organized Teams Activities and on the heels of the Ravens losing a week of OTAs after putting rookies in pads earlier this month, I asked Payton to explain the impact of the forfeited practices.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Payton said. “The reason I say that is, look, it doesn’t keep the players from lifting and running and so a week of OTAs would be three on-the-field sessions. You don’t want to lose those opportunities and, shoot, one of those opportunities you might have some type of team building experience set up. I think each team does similar things during the OTAs. There’s a lot of offense versus defense. There’s some restrictions regarding one-on-ones but the players are out there in their element, and they’re going though a little bit of a practice format for two hours. So really that equates to about six hours on the field.”

He makes a good point about the team-building day. Plenty of teams cancel the final OTA session for some sort of excursion away from football. So instead of losing three practices, the Ravens as a practical matter could say they lost only two. Which would be only four hours of lost practice time.

While it may not be a huge deal to lose a few OTAs, there’s still plenty of value in having them.

“I think it’s an important part of the process from a mental standpoint,” Payton said. “When it gets to Phase 3, the focus is on some of the nuances of what you’re trying to do defensively, offensively, or the kicking game. To get out on the field and work at the installation. I think it’s important for the coaching staffs as well. Many times you had change and you are getting on the same page and getting out there and coaching and things come up that you want to discuss. The idea being that when training camp comes this installation we’ve had before, and we’re gonna repeat it. We know that obviously a big ally to learning is just being able to go back through it again.

“The most important part though is the early phases [of the offseason program],” Payton added. “These guys come in the complex lifting weights, getting in shape, and really not feeling like they’re coming to practice. I think that’s important, the players are able to come into the facility and feel like in those early first two phases that they’re coming to really work out, condition and build that camaraderie, build the things you look for in a good football team.”

Payton’s perspective could come as a surprise to many, since most would assume that football coaches regard football practice as being more important than working out and otherwise not engaging in football practice. For the Ravens, the reality is that, even without three (or two) days of football practice, the players will be able to continue working out, just like they were in the earlier phases of the offseason program.

To hear the full Payton interview, download the podcast at iTunes or audioBoom. Or, if you’re in one of the markets that carries weekly “best of” show (like D.C, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Seattle, New Orleans, and many more), check your local listings for the two-hour slice of what was the best stuff of the week that was.

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Reported Fitzpatrick offer pales in comparison to most starting QBs

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets passes against the Buffalo Bills during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 12, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Jets leaked word that they’re offering free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick a contract that would pay him $12 million this year, the clear implication was that it’s a good offer. The reality is that, for a starting quarterback in today’s NFL, it’s not a good offer.

According to the salary database Spotrac, there are 16 quarterbacks in the NFL who currently have a contract that pays an average of $18 million a year or more. So half of the league’s starters are making at least 50 percent more than the Jets are offering Fitzpatrick.

Another six quarterbacks are making more than $12 million but less than $18 million. Which means Fitzpatrick, if he took a contract paying $12 million a year, would be paid less than 22 NFL quarterbacks. And among the starters making less than Fitzpatrick are several who are still on their rookie contracts but would surely make more on the open market, including Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Andrew Luck and Blake Bortles. This year’s first two picks, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, are also in the group of quarterbacks who will make less than $12 million a year only because of the rookie salary structure, not because the market has decided that they’re actually worth less than $12 million a year.

Also bear in mind that the Jets specifically leaked only what they were offering to pay Fitzpatrick this year, not what they’re offering to pay him in future years of a multi-year contract. That suggests that the deal the Jets are offering Fitzpatrick is actually worse than $12 million a year.

Bottom line, despite some reporters portraying the Jets’ offer as “more in line with the marketplace,” the reality is that the Jets are not offering Fitzpatrick the kind of money that you’d expect a quarterback who threw for 3,905 yards, 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while leading his team to a 10-6 record to make.

Unfortunately for Fitzpatrick, he doesn’t have a lot of leverage. The offseason game of quarterback musical chairs is over, and he’s the only one standing, while the Jets are the only team with a seat open. He’s probably going to end up taking less money than his 2015 performance says he’s worth. But no one should portray the Jets’ offer as a good deal. By NFL starting quarterback standards, it’s not.

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Cowboys say they turned down trade offers for McFadden, Morris

Dallas Cowboys OTA Getty Images

After spending the fourth overall pick in the draft on running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys fielded calls about whether they wanted to trade one of their veteran backs. But they said no.

That’s the word from Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones, who says teams called asking about trading for Darren McFadden or Alfred Morris, but the Cowboys wanted to keep them.

“We got calls during the draft asking to trade for a couple of our running backs, and we just don’t have that interest,” Jones said, via the Star-Telegram.

McFadden, who is coming off a 1,089-yard season, is heading into the final year of his contract and has a $2.15 million cap hit. The Cowboys just signed Morris to a two-year, $3.5 million contract in March. Both players are affordable and have been productive, which could make them worth something in a trade.

So it wouldn’t be surprising to hear McFadden and Morris mentioned in trade talks again. Even if, for now, the Cowboys aren’t interested.

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Rex-Rob Ryan scoffs at suggestion of nepotism

19212171-mmmain AP

That rollocking interview in which it became clear that Rex-Rob Ryan has taken charge in Buffalo included an effort by Rob Ryan to address the notion that he got a job with the Bills due to the fact that he’s the twin brother of the head coach.

“I heard this one the other day: Well, it’s nepotism. Nepotism?” Ryan told Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com. “I’ve been in this league 20 years. I have coordinated the last 12 years in a row.”

Yes, and Ryan has been fired multiple times over the last 12 years, most recently after presiding over historically bad defenses in Dallas. So of course it’s nepotism; does anyone think Rex would have hired Rob for a position that didn’t previously exist in Buffalo (assistant head coach/defense) but for the fact that their once shared a womb?

It was Rob’s effort to dismiss the notion of nepotism that caused him to launch into the questionable rant that someone else was running the defense and that Rob Ryan went entirely against his nature and kept his mouth shut while it was happening. Why not just admit that the brotherly relationship helped create the level of trust that Rex craves as he goes “all in” to try to save his job with a playoff berth?

Even if Rob Ryan somehow would have been hired but for his relationship with Rex, the Ryan twin reunion already is showing signs of the kind of symbiosis that will accentuate already strong personalities. Putting them together will only make each of them more combustible, prompting both guys to take the kind of risks they wouldn’t take if they were operating on their own.

The mere fact that Rex-Rob opted to react to a bad month in Buffalo by granting a “press record and get out of the way” interview shows that their blended personalities will result in behavior that is more bombastic, more combative, more fraught with risk.

Which will make the 2016 season in Buffalo even more compelling — especially if the situation begins to fall apart and Rex-Rob opt to try to get things under control by being even more bombastic, even more combative, and taking even more risks.

In other words, get your popcorn ready. And keep it out of Rex-Rob’s reach.

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Jets take their Fitzpatrick case to the media

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets walks off the field after throwing his third interception of the day in a 22-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the lingering standoff involving the Jets and free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick now spreading to other key members of the offense currently under contract, the Jets have begun to take their case public.

Specifically, the Jets have made their standing offer to Fitzpatrick known to multiple media outlets: A three-year deal that would pay Fitzpatrick $12 million in 2016.

Curiously (or not), the Jets aren’t leaking the details as to the second and third seasons of the offer. A league source with knowledge of the talks told PFT weeks ago that the problem isn’t the compensation in the first year but the pay to Fitzpatrick in the next two.

Indeed, the fact that the Jets are leaking only the $12 million total compensation for 2016 (which presumably includes a signing bonus spread over all three years) suggests that the last two years of the package don’t mesh with the team’s agenda of coming off as reasonable in the stalled negotiations.

The compensation for the final two years directly impacts the quality of the proposals. If, for example, the Jets are offering three years and $36 million, that’s $12 million per year. But if the $12 million offer for the first year is part of, for example, a three-year, $24 million deal, the pending offer suddenly doesn’t look so good.

Instead of attempting to apply pressure to Fitzpatrick by leaking details that make the Jets seem reasonable, the Jets and Fitzpatrick should get together in a room, shut the door, lock it from the outside, and stay put until they find an acceptable middle ground. Both sides should be willing to yield as to their current positions, since each side needs the other. And both sides need to get this deal done, sooner than later.

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Bears sign Leonard Floyd

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 28: Leonard Floyd #84, Sterling Bailey #58, Jordan Jenkins 59, and Malcolm Mitchell #26 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrate after the game by planting the Georgia Bulldogs flag on the field after the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears signed their first-round pick, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, on Friday.

The Bears traded up two spots to No. 9 — specifically to get ahead of the Giants — to select Floyd last month.

An early entry to this year’s draft, Floyd had 17 sacks in three seasons at Georgia. He played both defensive end and outside linebacker in college. The Bears list Floyd at 6-foot-6, 244 pounds.

Lamarr Houston led the Bears with eight sacks last season, their first in a 3-4 base defense, and Floyd was drafted to immediately boost the pass rush.

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Brett Perriman transferred to Atlanta hospital

2 Nov 1997:  Brett Perriman of the Miami Dolphins in action against the Buffalo Bills during a game at Rich Stadium in  Orchard Park, New York.  The Bills defeated the Dolphins 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport

Former NFL wide receiver Brett Perriman has been transferred to an Atlanta hospital, where he’s continuing to recover from a stroke he suffered earlier this month.

Per a release from the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Perriman, 50, was transferred there from a Miami-area hospital. He was admitted into the intensive care unit, but Perriman will soon transition into the hospital’s acquired brain injury unit for evaluation, care and observation.

Initial reports said he’d been hospitalized due to high blood pressure.

His son, Breshad Perriman, was drafted in the first round in 2015 by the Ravens. Breshad Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury but is progressing well, and he tweeted some encouraging words earlier Friday about his father.

Brett Perriman had a career-best 1,488 receiving yards in 1995 with the Lions. In that season, Perriman and Herman Moore became the first teammates in NFL history to each record more than 100 receptions and more than 1,400 receiving yards in the same season.

Perriman played 10 NFL seasons and played for the Saints, Lions, Chiefs and Dolphins. He was a second-round pick of the Saints in 1988.

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Tony Horton hopes to do more work with Eddie Lacy

i Getty Images

When Packers coach Mike McCarthy fat-shamed running back Eddie Lacy after the 2015 season, the tailback with the bulging midsection eventually landed under the supervision of Tony Horton, the man behind the P90X series of workout videos. Horton has whipped Lacy into shape, and Horton hopes to continue his work with Lacy after the offseason program ends in Green Bay and before training camp commences.

“Ideally, what I’d like to do — he’d have to be in L.A. for it to work — but I’d like to see him play [basketball] one day, [go to] boxing class one day and I could work with him for three as opposed to six or seven like before,” Horton told Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “It would give him more freedom, and the beautiful thing is he wouldn’t have to relearn everything again. I would really love the plyometric day and the cardio was essential for him.”

Anyone who has ever done P90X knows all about plyometrics and the advice to bring “your little bucket” and the annoyingly compelling “get ready, ’cause it’s coming” warning during the warmup phase. While its value to professional football players is still undetermined, P90X (and the 30-minute sibling P90X3) definitely helps get and keep middle-aged dudes who sit around and type and talk all day long in shape. Or at least in the shape of something other than a pear.

Horton preached more than exercise to Lacy. To get the most out of the program, nutrition is critical.

“We didn’t talk weight. We didn’t talk inches. We didn’t get on a scale,” Horton told Demovsky. “It was about lifestyle and performance and being healthy. He’s genetically gifted. He just had a misstep the last season and a half. So I just redirected him into a lifestyle that’s going to help him be productive and give him more energy and more stamina, and I know how to do those things. And I did them in a way he’s never done them before.”

For running backs who routinely take a pounding during games, it’s important to have some bulk. Lacy clearly had too much last year, and he should be better off for it when the season starts.

And if the changes stick, Lacy will be in position to avoid the thing that happens to plenty of football players when their careers end — the gradual growth of their bodies in the horizontal direction.

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Blake Bortles working to “grow together” with Julius Thomas

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 13:  Julius Thomas #80 of the Jacksonville Jaguars rushes against  Dwight Lowery #33 of the Indianapolis Colts during the game at EverBank Field on December 13, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

For the second straight season, the Jaguars made a splash in free agency by signing a player away from the Broncos.

They’ll be hoping for a smoother start from defensive tackle Malik Jackson than they got from tight end Julius Thomas. Thomas broke a bone in his hand in the preseason, missed the first four games of the regular season and went on to average under 10 yards a reception while catching five touchdown passes.

Thomas averaged 11.8 yards per catch and scored 24 touchdowns in his final two seasons with the Broncos and the Jags would like to see something more in that arena in Thomas’ second season in Jacksonville. Quarterback Blake Bortles said that he and Thomas have been working to develop the kind of chemistry that leads to a spike in production.

“We had a chance this offseason to sit down multiple times, watch film and talk about things,” Bortles said, via ESPN.com. “Talk about what he wanted from me and what I wanted from him and how we can quickly get on the same page to grow together. He’s been unbelievable. He’s obviously a freak athlete and he’s continued to prove that and make plays.”

A major statistical leap may not be in Thomas’ future. With Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns at receiver, the Jaguars don’t need to force the ball in anyone’s direction to move it in the air. There’s also a hope that the ground game and defense will improve enough to keep the team from throwing the ball quite as often as they did in 2015.

If he can be more productive around the end zone, though, that will likely be enough to make his second year with the team a more successful one.

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Lions giving Taylor Decker a shot at left tackle

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Taylor Decker of Ohio State holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #16 overall by the Detroit Lions during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Lions are likely to leave Riley Reiff at left tackle, where he has started every game but one the last three years. But when Organized Team Activities opened this week, Reiff wasn’t playing left tackle with the first-string offense.

Instead, first-round draft pick Taylor Decker was playing left tackle with the first string. Reiff was at right tackle with the first-string offense.

Decker started 28 games at left tackle at Ohio State, and by putting him there at the start of OTAs, the Lions are showing that they believe he has the potential to start there in the NFL.

When the season starts, however, Reiff is likely to be back in his familiar spot as the starting left tackle, while Decker is likely to line up on the right side.

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