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NFL censors Eisen’s Thanksgiving special

MV5BMTQ0NTUzNTg2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTQwMzM3OA@@._V1._SX640_SY824_ Getty Images

The NFL’s effort to maintain an independent media presence constantly will be undermined by suspicions that the league expressly and/or implicitly shapes the content and the message in a way that makes the effort anything but independent.

Folks who work for the conglomerate known as NFL Media understandably are sensitive about that perception.  How do they feel, we wonder, when that perception becomes reality?

It happened most recently last week, when the league office completely removed from Rich Eisen’s Thanksgiving special an interview with Bradley Cooper, who stars in the new film Silver Linings Playbook.

“The segment was pulled because the movie included content related to gambling on NFL games,” the statement from NFL Network said, via Peter King of SI.com.
The segment didn’t include content related to gambling on NFL games.  The movie includes that content.  Specifically, the character played by Robert DeNiro is a small-time bookie.

King believes the move makes the league “look small and paranoid.”  It also makes the league look stupid.

Surely, someone at 345 Park Avenue knew in advance that Cooper had been booked for the show.  Surely, someone at 345 Park Avenue knew in advance that Cooper starred in a movie that “included content related to gambling on NFL games.”  Surely, someone at 345 Park Avenue knew the film also includes Eagles colors and jerseys and logos, something that the league would have had to approve at some point.  Surely, someone at 345 Park Avenue approved — or failed to block — the production of the special and the ensuing promotion of it.

As part of the promotional push, the league sent out on November 19 a mass email touting Cooper as a guest, and pointing out that he stars in Silver Linings Playbook.  When the show debuted, however, Bradley Cooper was as visible as his distant cousin D.B.

So with the league willing to engage in such an obvious and clumsy effort to censor Eisen’s show on such petty and irrational grounds, an important question arises.

How else is the NFL directing, in less obvious and clumsy fashion, the content and the message disseminated by NFL Media?

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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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Marvin Lewis: Contract extension not “critical or crucial”

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 1:  Head Coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals watches a replay as his team takes on the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Getty Images

In late January, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said that he’d “like to agree” to a contract extension with the team because he thinks it would put “everybody’s mind at ease going forward for their futures.”

It’s now late February and the two sides haven’t agreed on a deal that would keep Lewis under contract beyond the 2017 season. Lewis still thinks a fourth extension in as many years would add a sense of security, but downplayed its importance coming off a year that saw the Bengals miss the playoffs for the first time in six years.

“I don’t think it’s critical or crucial,” Lewis said, via the team’s website. “If things work out we would look to do that. I think some people are sometimes more at ease with that. Maybe that’s not where we need to be. Maybe that’s not the right place for us to be right now … everybody is year-to-year, right?”

Going into next season with an expiring contract would certainly create a sense of urgency in Cincinnati, although one imagines that sense would exist under any circumstance as the Bengals close in on 30 years since their last postseason victory.

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After arrest, Ravens say they’re done with Matt Elam

Matt Elam AP

Technically, Matt Elam is still a Baltimore Raven. But in 11 days, he won’t be.

Elam, who was arrested on drug charges early this morning in Miami, becomes a free agent on March 9. And the Ravens issued a statement following his arrest making clear that they will not re-sign him.

“We are aware of the arrest of Matt Elam. Matt is not in our plans for the 2017 Ravens,” the statement says.

This morning’s arrest may be the reason the Ravens released that statement, but it’s far from the only reason the Ravens are finished with Elam. Their 2013 first-round draft pick, Elam has been a major disappointment. The team didn’t pick up his fifth-year option and probably wouldn’t have re-signed him at any price even if he had no off-field issues.

Elam might be able to sign on with some team if he’s willing to take a minimum-salary deal. But it’s possible that he has played his last game, thanks to problems both on the field and off.

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PFT Live heads to the Scouting Combine this week

PFTLive

Three weeks ago today, the 2016 NFL season ended. In just three days, one of the three major offseason tentpole events arrives.

It’s the Scouting Combine, and PFT Live will be broadcasting from Indianapolis on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. As usual, we’ll be on from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 ET on NBC Sports Radio, with a re-air from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET. The final two hours of the live show, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. ET, will be simulcast on NBCSN.

Every hour of every show also becomes a podcast, which can be downloaded at iTunes or audioBoom. (Subscribe now. Subscribe now. Subscribe now.) Also, most if not all of the face-to-face interviews eventually will be posted at PFT.

The guest list is still being negotiated and finalized; the confirmed roster includes Falcons coach Dan Quinn, Panthers coach Ron Rivera, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, Rams coach Sean McVay, Broncos coach Vance Joseph, Bills coach Sean McDermott, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, Broncos G.M. John Elway, Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff, Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman, Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman, and Jaguars G.M. Dave Caldwell.

That’s 14 for now, and others will be added once the arrangements are nailed down. It’s a fluid process that often has coaches and General Managers pop in; chances are that we’ll end up with between 25 and 30 by the time the dust settles.

Thanks in advance to those teams who choose to make their coaches and General Managers available for conversations with PFT Live. For those who have declined this time around, we hope to persuade you to join us at the league meetings next month in Arizona or at some other point in the future.

For those who always decline, we’ll keep on asking. Because you miss 100 percent of the shots where the puck is going to be. Or something.

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2017 49ers already have outspent 2016 49ers in free agency

JAMESTOWN, CA - APRIL 29:   "How To Find Gold" booklets on display at Gold Prospecting Adventures on April 29, 2011 in Jamestown, California. As the dollar continues to fall gold continues to rise settling at a record high $ 1,556.40 an ounce at the close of the market on Friday April 29, 2011. Gold is considered the ultimate storer of wealth bringing out more part time prospectors to strike their claims. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images) Getty Images

Free agency hasn’t even begun yet, but the 2017 49ers are making their mark. How much of a mark have they made? Already, more than they did in all of 2016.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com points out that the 49ers under new G.M. John Lynch already have spent more in free agency than G.M. Trent Baalke did a year ago. Just this week, the 49ers signed defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (formerly of the Dolphins) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (formerly of the Browns).

In 2016, the 49ers added one veteran free agent: Offensive lineman Zane Beadles.

Because both Mitchell and Williams were released by their respective teams, their arrivals won’t count toward the formula that will determine the 2018 compensatory draft picks. (Beadles had been released a year ago, too; the 49ers ended up with an extra fourth-round pick in 2017 due to the departure of guard Alex Boone.)

With $38.7 million in cap space carried over from 2016, the 49ers will have plenty more money to spend as they try to improve on a 2-14 debacle of a year ago. But spending money on newcomers is just one piece of a team-building puzzle that for most successful franchises continues to be based on drafting and developing their own young players.

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