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Rex Ryan doesn’t think his future is tied to Mark Sanchez’s

Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan AP

Jets coach Rex Ryan stuck his neck out for quarterback Mark Sanchez by sticking with Sanchez as the starter. But Ryan says he doesn’t think his own future is necessarily tied to Sanchez’s.

At his press conference today, when a reporter suggested that getting the quarterback decision right could be the key to Ryan’s own future, Ryan disagreed with that.

“This is a big decision. [A big factor] in determining wins and losses is the play of your quarterback a lot of times,” Ryan said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “But no, I don’t feel that my future’s tied in with how we do things [with the quarterback].”

Ryan has always remained loyal to Sanchez, but he said his decision to stick with Sanchez wasn’t about loyalty, it was about winning at Jacksonville on Sunday.

“I think I’m loyal to all of our players,” Ryan said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. I also have a responsibility to this football team. And that’s to put the best guys out there that give us a chance to win. I think the decision here to go with Mark [is] something that I believe in.”

Ultimately, Ryan’s future is tied not to any particular player but to whether he wins enough games. But as long as Sanchez is Ryan’s starting quarterback, Sanchez will be the player who has the most to do with whether Ryan is winning enough games to keep his job.

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Dannell Ellerbe restructures with Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 15:  Jacob Tamme #83 of the Atlanta Falcons is pushed out of bounds by Dannell Ellerbe #59 of the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 15, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Saints said goodbye to a couple of veteran linebackers earlier this week when they released David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber, but another one has adjusted his contract to remain on the roster.

According to multiple reports, Dannell Ellerbe has agreed to restructure his deal a year after the Saints acquired him in a trade with the Dolphins. Details about the change aren’t known. Ellerbe was set to make $4.1 million in salary that was set to become guaranteed on Wednesday if he remained on the roster and also had a $1 million roster bonus coming his way.

Ellerbe, who also took a pay cut after the trade, only played six games for the Saints in his first year in New Orleans as a variety of injuries kept him off the field for much of the season. He was also limited to one game for the Dolphins in 2014 and hasn’t played all 16 games in a season at any point during his career.

The Saints likely will do more in the coming days and weeks to create cap space. Quarterback Drew Brees is a candidate to have his contract extended in order to lessen the $30 million cap burden he carries in 2016.

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T.O. externalizes blame, again

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For the past few years, receiver Terrell Owens has attributed negative stories and attitude about him to a bias against him in the media. When confronted with concrete examples of misbehavior that helped shape his reputation, Owens always has an excuse unrelated to the notion that he engaged in misbehavior.

That attitude has been on display during a Wednesday ESPN car wash with fellow former receiver Chad Johnson. The appearance comes days after Owens was snubbed by the Hall of Fame, with signs pointing to Owens being overlooked due to his interpersonal skills, or lack thereof.

Before going any farther, I firmly believe that Owens should have made it in on the first ballot, and that he deserved the spot over Marvin Harrison. I also believe that, for a guy who claims to not care about not getting in, he seems to be a lot more bothered about the situation than someone who couldn’t care less should be.

Referring to the voters as “pencil pushers,” Owens expressed disdain for a process that eventually will get him in the Hall of Fame after knocking on the door once or twice or three times. (If he keeps openly complaining about the process and the voters, bet the over.)

Regardless, he should have gotten in. Yes, he was a pain in the butt. Yes, there was an element at times of malice and chronic discontent. But, yes, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Rice, Owens, Moss or Rice, Moss, Owens are the top three wideouts in NFL history.

Whatever the stated reason for letting Harrison get in before Owens, the notion of disruption becomes a convenient excuse for the de facto waiting list. And whatever Owens says about whatever it is that he did or didn’t do, it’s clear that he’s getting in — it’s just a question of when.

Meanwhile, both Owens and Johnson repeatedly lamented the absence of social media during their careers, explaining that if they had access to Twitter while playing they could have shaped the narrative and explained themselves without the filter of the media.

But here’s the thing. Owens and Johnson presume that they would have used social media in a way that would have resulted in the fans automatically seeing their side of things and in turn viewing them more favorably. The truth more likely is that they would have used social media in a way that would have made a pair of polarizing players even more polarizing, simultaneously preaching to the choir while further alienating their enemies.

Despite Owens’ effort (intentionally or not) to alienate the voters, Owens eventually will get in to the Hall of Fame. And despite his incessant, tiring “it’s not me, it’s you” routine, I still think he already should be on track for a bronze bust, a gold jacket, and a Ring of Excellence.

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Will Beatty out for Giants too

during the first quarter in a game at LP Field on December 7, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. Getty Images

The Giants are parting ways with several veterans who suffered season-ending injuries in 2015.

Guard Geoff Schwartz and linebacker Jon Beason were informed that they won’t be back with the team next season. Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports was the first to report that left tackle Will Beatty has been added to the list as well.

Beatty tore his pectoral while lifting weights in May and was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return at the start of the season. He never made it back, however, and had shoulder surgery near the end of the year to compound his injury issues.

Beatty, who spent four years as the team’s starter on the left side of the offensive line, was set to make $6.625 million in 2016 with a cap hit of over $9.1 million. The Giants will get over $4.1 million of that back if Beatty is deemed a pre-June 1 cut and Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports that neither he nor Schwartz was approached about taking a pay cut.

Last year’s first-round pick Ereck Flowers took over for Beatty in 2015 and will likely remain there while the Giants address the right side of the offensive line this offseason.

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Giants releasing Schwartz, Beason

Odell Beckham Jr. AP

The Giants plan to release veteran offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz and linebacker Jon Beason, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported Wednesday.

Beason and Schwartz both signed big contracts with the Giants before the 2014 season. The Giants had acquired Beason in an Oct. 2013 trade with the Panthers.

Injuries limited Beason to four games in 2014 and five in 2015. Beason, 31, hasn’t played a full season since 2010.

Schwartz was limited to two games in 2014 at right tackle due to injury. He started 11 games at guard last season.

The Giants save about $6 million in cap space by releasing Beason and about $3 million with Schwartz’s release.

Schwartz will be 30 this summer. His younger brother, Mitchell Schwartz, will also be a free agent if he doesn’t strike a deal with the Browns over the next four weeks.

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Bruce Irvin prepares to cash in on open market

Zz04YTAzZGQ2MzZlNmU2MTUwNWIzM2E3OTU3ZjI0MjQ3Yw== AP

Last year, the Seahawks could have exercised the fifth-year option on Bruce Irvin’s rookie contract. They didn’t.

With Super Bowl 50 placing an even greater premium on pass rushers, it means that Irvin will soon be leaving Seattle.

Barring a new contract or the use of the franchise tag (both of which are believed to be highly unlikely at this point), Irvin will sign elsewhere — on a deal that easily will surpass $10 million annually.

Irvin’s ability to get after the pass comes during a free-agency cycle with not many quality pass rushers even available. Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon is the other big name to watch.

A first-round pick in 2012, Irvin had eight sacks as a rookie. Last year, in a contract year, he had 5.5.

Still, the 2016 free-agent pickings are slim. And Irvin is in the right place at the right time. And it’s safe to say at this point that someone will pay him, possibly more than he deserves.

Regardless of whether Irvin deserves it, he’s going to get it. Because teams are going to make getting after the quarterback a huge priority.

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Watching Michael Oher slide underscores Levi’s turf woes

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There have been varying reports on the quality of the turf at Levi’s Stadium for Super Bowl 50.

But it’s obvious that there were times it affected the quality of play.

In a video clip posted by Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Panthers left tackle Michael Oher appears to be on skates, unable to do anything but slide backward under pass rush.

To his credit, Oher kept the play blocked, allowing Cam Newton plenty of time to get a pass off.

But the extreme lack of traction he showed can only be explained by a few things. One of them — that Oher was wearing curling shoes — seems unlikely. The other — a surface not conducive to football — seems more likely.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera was playing nice in the aftermath, saying the surface was “outstanding.”

But Rivera is gracious like that, and saying that his team didn’t have any problems with the turf isn’t backed up by the image of Oher gliding gracefully backward like Dorothy Hamill.

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wasn’t afraid to call it “terrible,” and it’s likely that Oher would probably agree. The 49ers have had plenty of problems growing grass, and it appears the NFL isn’t faring any better there.

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Casey Hayward “probably” hitting open market

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The Packers drafted a pair of cornerbacks early in the 2015 draft, which may contribute to Casey Hayward playing elsewhere in 2016.

Hayward is set to become a free agent next month and the 2012 second-round pick thinks that chances are good that he won’t resign with Green Bay before the new league year starts on March 9.

“They normally wait til closer to the deadline,” Hayward told Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com in a text message. “But we shall see. I’ll probably hit the market.”

Hayward started 11 regular season games and both playoff games for the Packers while spending most of his time in the slot. Damarious Randall, the first-round pick last year, and Sam Shields profile as the starting outside corners with Quinten Rollins, 2015’s second-rounder, an option to move into the inside role should Hayward move on to another club.

Hayward didn’t have an interception in 2015, but helped the Packers hold opposing offenses to the league’s lowest completion percentage when throwing to slot receivers. That should make for a good market if he and the Packers can’t agree on a contract before the start of free agency.

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Lynn Swann should tread lightly when talking about Hall of Fame qualifications

Zz04Y2ZjODE2NDFhMDBiNDBjMDA2Y2M1MGIyMTU2OTRjZg== AP

Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann makes a good point about the Hall of Fame credentials of Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Megatron simply may not have done enough in nine NFL seasons to earn a spot in Canton. By making the case against Johnson, however, Swann opens himself up for questions about his own spot in the Hall of Fame.

There’s no way the bronze bust will disintegrate, but that doesn’t mean folks can’t ask how Swann made it and argue that he shouldn’t have. Ultimately, he made it for two reasons: team accomplishments and his performance in Super Bowl X. So when Swann says Johnson doesn’t have the team accomplishments to get in, Swann is boosting his own presence by pointing out that it’s more about team achievements than individuals ones.

Indeed, if it’s about individual achievements, Swann has no business being there. He’s 222nd on the all-time receiving yardage list, via Pro Football Reference.

Not 22nd. Two hundred and 22nd.

The knee-jerk response will be this: The game has changed dramatically since then, allowing plenty of more modern players to pass him by. It’s a fair point, until considering the list.

The guy at 221, Jerry Smith with 5,496 yards, played from 1965-77. Chris Burford at 219 played from 1960-67. Ray Renfro at 218 played from 1952-63.

How about Max Speedie at 209? He generated 5,602 yards from 1946-52. Danny Abramowicz at 201 played from 1967-74. Gail Cogdill at 198 played from 1960-70.

Calvin Johnson is at 27, with 11,619 yards. That’s well over twice the amount that Swann generated for his career. And if Calvin Johnson had played for the Steelers of the ’70s, he’d easily be in the Hall of Fame.

Johnson may not make it as a Lion. But Swann probably shouldn’t have made it as a Steeler.

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Rams sign former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter

Colter AP

Kain Colter wasn’t able to unionize college football players at Northwestern, but at least he gets to be the answer to a trivia question.

Via Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register, Colter became the first player signed by the Rams since relocating to Los Angeles.

Colter went to camp with the Vikings in 2014 as a wide receiver, and spent the year on the practice squad there, but was released in May.

Colter was out of the league last year.

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Chargers complete overhaul of coaching staff

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 30:  Tommy Rees #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish drops back to pass against the Stanford Cardinal during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chargers didn’t make a change at head coach this offseason, but Mike McCoy’s staff did get a serious renovation at the end of a 4-12 campaign.

There will be 11 coaches in positions they weren’t in last season, nine of whom are new to the organization. The last two of those new arrivals were announced on Tuesday with the team naming Tommy Rees as offensive assistant and Marquice Williams as special teams assistant.

Rees will be familiar to Notre Dame fans after starting 30 games at quarterback for the Fighting Irish between 2010 and 2013. He played with several Chargers, including college roommate and current center Chris Watt.

“It is definitely a different type of situation,” Watt said, via the team’s website.  “I don’t even know how to go about describing it!  But when we are on the field, it will be all business and very professional.  I think it will be fine, but it is definitely strange and a little different.”

Rees was a graduate assistant at Northwestern last season. Williams has interned with the Bears and Lions and spent the last four seasons at the University of South Dakota.

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Philly Brown: Talib “immature,” but hope he isn’t suspended

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Corey Brown #10 of the Carolina Panthers runs after a catch as  Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos grabs his facemask during the tackle in the second quarter during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

In the first half of Super Bowl 50, Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib picked up a personal foul for throwing Panthers wide receiver Philly Brown to the ground by his facemask.

After the game, Talib said that he did it on purpose because he “just had to show [Brown]” after exchanging words with him earlier in the game and that he didn’t think it was a big deal since the Panthers gained just over a yard as a result of the foul occurring on the Broncos’ three-yard-line. The NFL may not agree as they’re considering suspending Talib, who was also suspended one game during the 2015 season for poking Colts tight end Dwayne Allen in the eye.

Brown said on Twitter Tuesday that he doesn’t want Talib to be suspended, especially if it would keep him out of the Panthers’ trip to Denver next season.

“I don’t think Talib should be suspended. I hope he plays when we travel to Denver next year. He was frustrated that’s what immature pros do!!” Brown wrote.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera didn’t offer an opinion about whether Talib should be suspended, but said, via the Charlotte Observer, he wished Talib wouldn’t have done it and said the cornerback’s admission “adds credence to the argument” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made last week about ejecting players who commit two personal fouls in a game.

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Mike Tolbert hopes he gets a chance to return to Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03:  Mike Tolbert #35 of the Carolina Panthers is introduced during their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Mike Tolbert did something in the Super Bowl he hadn’t done with the Panthers — lost a fumble.

And he hopes he gets a chance to make up for it.

The veteran fullback, who is about to become an unrestricted free agent, said he wanted a chance to return to the Panthers next season.

“Do I want to be? Yeah. Do they want me is the question,” Tolbert said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “I can’t sign a contract by myself. It remains to be seen.”

Tolbert has done plenty of good things for the Panthers since arriving in 2012. And he had always taken good care of the ball, with his last fumble in 2011 when he was with the Chargers. But he bobbled it twice in the Super Bowl, recovering one of them.

The 30-year-old Tolbert said he thinks he still has four or five seasons left “at a high All-Pro level.”

And while his are the kind of contributions that are hard to quantify, he’s been a big part of the Panthers offense since arriving. He can run in short yardage, block, and is a good receiver out of the backfield in addition to playing special teams. He’s made two Pro Bowls in his four seasons with the Panthers, and had four touchdowns this year.

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Lynn Swann doesn’t see Megatron as a Hall of Famer

Calvin Johnson AP

Former Steelers receiver Lynn Swann retired at age 30 with 336 catches for 5,462 yads and 51 touchdowns. But Swann says that Calvin Johnson, who’s expected to retire at the age of 30 with 731 catches for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns, shouldn’t join him in the Hall of Fame.

“I would think that it would be difficult for Calvin Johnson at this point to be considered a Hall of Famer,” Swann told the Detroit News. “Calvin Johnson has an extreme amount of talent and ability, but when you start to look at his team, the success of his team and did he lift that team; he made them a little bit better, but at the end of the day, I’m not quite sure.”

That argument is, frankly, ridiculous. Swann is essentially saying that because he won four Super Bowl rings on a 1970s Steelers team that was among the most talented ever, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. But because Johnson suffered the fate of being drafted onto a team built by Matt Millen, he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.

Super Bowl rings are a team accomplishment, and no one would dispute that Swann was on much, much better teams than Johnson. But the Hall of Fame is about individual accomplishment, and on that score Megatron easily beats Swann. Megatron owns the all-time NFL record for receiving yards in a season, led the league in receiving yards twice and led the league in catches and touchdowns once each. Swann never led the league in catches or yards and was only in the Top 5 in either category once, in 1977, when he was fourth in the league in receiving yards. Johnson was a first-team All-Pro three times; Swann was a first-team All-Pro once. Johnson was a six-time Pro Bowler; Swann was a three-time Pro Bowler.

But Swann harps on team accomplishments.

“Hard to say he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame when his team hasn’t gotten to a Super Bowl, and they don’t get a chance to get into the playoffs,” Swann said. “And that’s for a lot of guys across the board. If he had broken every passing record, like Danny Fouts, who didn’t win the Super Bowl, then yeah, I think there’s going to be consideration.”

Fouts didn’t actually break every passing record, but he and Swann are friends and former broadcasting colleagues, so apparently Swann is willing to bend the facts for a buddy. For Megatron, Swann would prefer to keep the Hall of Fame doors shut.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

Marshawn Lynch AP

Should the Bills cut LeSean McCoy?

Dolphins quarterback Earl Morrall, who died last year at age 79, was diagnosed with CTE.

Dante Scarnecchia could be just what the Patriots’ offensive line needs.

Jets G Brian Winters is getting a $1 million raise.

In Baltimore, they say the Broncos’ defense doesn’t compare to the 2000 Ravens.

Can the Bengals win their first Super Bowl a year from now?

The Browns could be interested in QB Brock Osweiler.

The Steelers signed a guard to a future contract.

A former Texans linebacker is heading to the CFL.

Although Colts K Adam Vinatieri is about to become a free agent, he doesn’t appear interested in signing elsewhere.

The Jaguars get 1.8 times as much revenue from a game in London as a game in Jacksonville.

Michael Griffin said he had a feeling the Titans were going to cut him yesterday: “As soon as that phone call came in, I told my fiancée, `Hey, I think I’m about to get released.’ You never get a phone call like that, especially early in the morning of the offseason from the head coach. So I just knew.”

Broncos GM John Elway commended Gary Kubiak for the way he handled the quarterback position all season.

Tony Gonzalez is hoping to be added to the Chiefs’ ring of honor.

The Raiders are long shots in the Super Bowl LI odds.

Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is looking forward to coaching Melvin Gordon.

Here’s a look at some defensive backs the Cowboys could target in the draft.

The Giants are in good enough cap shape that they’re not likely to cut anyone any time soon.

Should the Eagles draft a quarterback?

Are oddsmakers underestimating Washington’s chances in 2016?

Bears Hall of Famer Mike Singletary wonders if Cam Newton can take the heat.

Lions President Rod Wood is feeling optimistic about the 2016 season.

As usual under Ted Thompson, the Packers are in good cap shape.

The Vikings have plenty of offseason work to do.

Former Falcon Asante Samuel recently sold his house for $5.4 million.

Panthers QB Cam Newton will still be a hot commodity in the endorsement market, despite his disappointing Super Bowl.

The Saints are looking for a long-term answer at kicker.

Hall of Famer Donnie Shell will present Tony Dungy at the Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals need a better pass rush.

Kain Colter is the first signing for the Rams in Los Angeles.

The 49ers’ playing surface held up pretty well in the Super Bowl.

Marshawn Lynch’s retirement announcement was fitting for a guy who hated talking to the media.

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Stedman Bailey still hopes for NFL return

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 07: Strong safety Phillip Thomas #41 of the Washington Redskins is stiff armed by wide receiver Stedman Bailey #12 of the St. Louis Rams in the third quarter of a game at FedExField on December 7, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Stedman Bailey was shot in the head twice on November 24, leading to surgery and a lengthy hospital stay that ended with Bailey headed home just before the start of 2016.

Along the way, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said that Bailey was probably done playing football as a result of the injuries he suffered in the shooting but Bailey’s not quite ready to write himself off. In a YouTube video shot by Geoff Coyle of West Virginia Illustrated and titled “Steddy Ambition,” Bailey admits his doctors are doubtful about his chances of returning and outlines one potential fear that’s been expressed to him.

“My neurosurgeon was also extremely concerned about me making a return to the NFL, because when I did get shot in the head, it was pretty much like the worst kind of concussions that you can have,” Bailey said. “Just being that football is such a physical sport, guys have concussions all the time. I would say that’s probably the scariest part about it, because at the end of the day, I just want to have my mind functioning where I can be a good family man, be a good dad, just be myself. That’s one thing I think is scary.”

Bailey is running and lifting weights, although the amount of weight he’s working with is down significantly from where he was before the shooting. That’s not stopping him from trying to “continue to live out my dream,” although it seems there’s still a fair distance to go before Bailey can realistically hope to return to the field.

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