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Brian Schottenheimer unfazed by head coaching speculation

Sam Bradford, Brian Schottenheimer AP

As holiday traditions go, it’s among the most traditional.

The NFL head coaching rumor cycle starts, and Brian Schottenheimer’s name floats to the top.

The Rams offensive coordinator was mentioned during last week’s Rams-Vikings broadcast as a potential candidate for head coaching jobs, but he said he’s happy in St. Louis.

“At the end of the day I think I have a great job,” Schottenheimer said, via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I work for a great organization. I know I work with the best head coach in the National Football League in Coach [Jeff] Fisher. Got a really young football team that’s building something special, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it, . . . and hope to be here for a long time.”

His name has been a fixture in recent offseasons, and he interviewed for the Jaguars job this offseason. He said he’s allowed himself to get excited before, but wants to keep things in perspective.

“Well, first off I know Brian’s ready,” Fisher said. “He’s ready to handle the job and he’s capable. I think he’d do a great job at it. Certainly, he’s been around the game for a long time. He’s got a great pedigree, and this is the time of the year when people start throwing names out there.”

And until he gets a chance to follow in his father’s footsteps, the constant speculation will continue.

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Cowboys reach long-term deal with Tyron Smith

Tyron Smith AP

Now that the seal was broken by Patrick Peterson, maybe we’re about to see many more deals for 2011 first-rounders.

The Cowboys have announced they’ve reached a long-term extension with left tackle Tyron Smith.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is calling it an eight-year, $98 million deal, which qualifies it as a mega-deal. With what he had left on his rookie deal, he’ll make nearly $110 million through 2023, per Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com.

Of course, the details of this one will be telling, as always.

What’s clear is the Cowboys have made a priority in recent years of drafting to bolster their offensive line, and now that they have a quality one, they’re going to hang onto it.

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Bills’ linebacker Nigel Bradham suspended for opening game

Bradham Getty Images

With linebacker Kiko Alonso lost for the 2014 season due to a torn ACL, Nigel Bradham has elevated to the top of the depth chart.  But someone other than Bradham will be playing weakside linebacker for the Bills against the Bears on September 7.

The NFL has announced that Bradham has been suspended for the first game of the 2014 regular season for violating the substance-abuse policy.

The suspension most likely arises from Bradham’s August 2013 arrest for marijuana possession, since a one-game suspension is the standard punishment for that offense.

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Ted Thompson signs extension with Packers

LKK AP

The Packers made a contract extension for General Manager Ted Thompson a top priority for their offseason and their work paid off on Wednesday.

Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy announced that the team has agreed on a multiyear extension that will keep Thompson in charge of the front office operations. There were no details about the compensation or the length, but it’s a good bet that it will wind up being the final contract the 61-year-old signs in the role of architect of the Packers roster.

“I’m pleased that we were able to enter into this contract extension with Ted,” Murphy said. “His outstanding work has been the key factor in the success that we’ve enjoyed in recent years. I have tremendous respect for Ted, and am confident that we will continue to contend for championships under his leadership.”

Thompson became the Packers general manager in 2005 and the team has won one Super Bowl and advanced to the playoffs six times, including the last five seasons, under his stewardship. Mike McCarthy has been coach for eight of those seasons and an extension for him is likely to be on the to-do list for the Packers now that Thompson’s deal is done.

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The full Patrick Peterson contract details

Peterson Getty Images

It took a little while, but we’ve gotten our hands on the full details and financial terms of the Patrick Peterson contract.

As Peterson first reported last night (Pulitzer!), it’s a five-year extension worth $70 million.  (Actually, $70.05 million, and the $0.05 million is important.)  The signing bonus is $15.361 million.  Coupled with a fully-guaranteed base salary of slightly more than $888,000, Peterson is guaranteed to receive $16.25 million at signing — all of which will be earned in 2014.

For 2015, he gets a $100,000 workout bonus and a base salary of $11.619 million.  Guaranteed for injury only at signing, the 2015 base salary converts to a full guarantee on the fifth day of the 2015 waiver period.

In 2016, Peterson is eligible for a $250,000 workout bonus.  His base salary of $9.75 million is fully guaranteed for injury only.  It converts to a full guarantee on the fifth day of the 2016 waiver period.

The same base terms apply in 2017, with the base salary fully guaranteed by the fifth day of the 2017 waiver period.  (Apparently, a sizable chunk of the 2017 base salary becomes fully guaranteed in 2016.)

In 2018, Peterson can earn a $250,000 workout bonus and an $11 million non-guaranteed base salary.  Ditto for 2019.

For 2020, there’s a $250,000 workout bonus, a $250,000 reporting bonus, and a non-guaranteed base salary of $12.05 million.

It add ups to $14.01 million per year over the five new years on a new-money analysis.  For the full seven years, Peterson will earn $83.019 million.  That’s an average of $11.859 million per year, with the two existing contract years included in the calculation.

So how does Peterson’s deal compare to other big cornerback deals?  We’ll put some together that breaks the deals down from a variety of angles later this afternoon.

And the over/under on the number of you actually anxious to see that is 2.75 percent.

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NFL makes Cris Carter, Michael Irvin Pro Bowl captains

Former Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Irvin unveils Madden 13 during the Electronic Arts news conference as part of E3 in Los Angeles, California Reuters

For the second year in a row, the NFL will eschew the traditional AFC-NFC Pro Bowl format and instead use Hall of Famers as team captains. The league announced today that Cris Carter and Michael Irvin will pick Pro Bowl squads this year.

The Pro Bowl will take place on Sunday, January 25 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, which will also host the Super Bowl a week later. The Pro Bowlers will be selected using votes of players, coaches and fans, but the teams will be divided not by conference but by Carter and Irvin conducting a “draft” and choosing their own rosters.

Carter was an eight-time Pro Bowler who was enshrined in Canton last year. Irvin was a five-time Pro Bowler who was selected to the Hall of Fame in 2007.

Although the Pro Bowl is often derided for its low quality of play, the NFL likes to boast that it has been America’s most-watched All-Star game for four years in a row. The gimmick of using retired stars as team captains is an effort to make the game feel less stale, and help keep those TV ratings high.

Let’s just hope Carter and Irvin can get through the draft without Carter saying anything to Irvin’s wife.

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Texans running back Arian Foster “talks” to reporters, sort of

Arian Foster AP

I tell my kids at least a dozen times a day “It doesn’t have to be that hard.”

If someone in Houston could share that wisdom with Arian Foster, we’d appreciate it.

The Texans running back came back after missing two practices with an undisclosed injury, and “talked” to reporters.

Sort of.

I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be,” he said in response to every question, via Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle, who didn’t have much tape to transcribe.

Foster had declined all interview requests from the local media since the end of last season, and refused to talk during the opening days of training camp.

Maybe he’s just trying to adapt to new coach Bill O’Brien’s Belichickian ways, or maybe he saw Marshawn Lynch play peek-a-boo with his media responsibilities during the Super Bowl and thought it was cute.

Whatever it was, it was pointless.

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Pete Carroll urges rugby-style tackling in instructional video

petecarroll AP

The NFL’s emphasis on tackling with the shoulders, instead of the head, isn’t just about player safety. According to the coach of the best defense in football, it’s also the most effective way to bring a ball carrier down.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has released an instructional video showing the way his coaching staff teaches tackling.

“Our tackling system features shoulder tackling and a renewed emphasis on taking the head out of tackling. We’ve found our style to be successful in the NFL and in college, and we believe it can be employed at all levels,” Carroll said.

Carroll pointed to rugby — in which players don’t wear helmets — as the sport with the best tackling techniques.

“We have found that we can practice and drill our tackling without pads or a helmet,” Carroll said. “This system of tackling was recently inspired by those who play rugby around the world. Rugby players have truly taken the head out of the game and truly exemplify shoulder tackling.”

If the techniques used in rugby are safer than the techniques in football, that raises a question: Did all of the additional equipment given to football players through the years, supposedly for player safety, actually make the American style of football less safe than it would be if, like rugby, it had eschewed protective equipment through the years?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell probably isn’t going to propose doing away with the helmet any time soon, but he does like what Carroll is preaching.

“Coach Carroll sent me the video and I thought it was terrific,” Goodell said. “It’s a great thing for our game to have the head coach of the Super Bowl champs teaching tackling techniques that protect the head and making it available to everyone. I hope players, coaches and parents at all levels of the game take the time to watch it.”

Carroll says in the video that “We are a shoulder-tackling team.” Goodell wants the NFL to have 32 shoulder-tackling teams.

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Charles Woodson finally feels like he’s playing safety

Charles Woodson AP

Charles Woodson was one of the best cornerbacks in the league for so long, shifting inside to safety as he aged seemed like a smooth transition.

But Woodson admitted it was largely winging it when he first moved.

“When I moved to safety a couple of years ago, I was really playing the position as an athlete,” Woodson told FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I was just going back there and doing it because I can play football and for the most part put myself in the right position. But what [Raiders assistant] Marcus [Robertson] is doing is molding me into a safety and allowing me to see the game from the middle of the field and understanding angles from that position.
“I’m loving it because I’m growing. If you’re not growing in this game, you’re not getting better. I plan on getting better.”

Woodson has been playing safety the last three years, but he said he feels like this is his first season where he feels like a safety.

Robertson said he was a “little apprehensive” about coaching a player of Woodson’s magnitude at first, but likes that the 37-year-old is so fully invested in the transition.

“The one thing about him is the guy wants to learn,” said Robertson, the former Titans safety. “He’s eating it up and working on it. And he’s been extremely coachable.
“It’s a beautiful thing. He’s going to have a big year.”

Having veteran players with something to prove is a common thread among the Raiders this year, but Woodson’s example is something their young players should clearly benefit from.

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PFT Live: Kyle Rudolph, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Minnesota Vikings  v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

What did Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph do after he signed his five-year contract extension with the team this week?

You can find out on Wednesday’s edition of PFT Live. Rudolph will join Mike Florio to discuss why he decided to commit his future to the Vikings. Was it the presence of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner or the promise he’s seen in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater? We’ll ask about that and much more during Rudolph’s visit to the show.

And then it will be Florio’s turn to answer the questions instead of asking them. PFT Planet is invited to send in questions on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 during the show to share what’s on your mind.

It all gets going at noon ET and you can watch it all live at noon ET by clicking right here.

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Commissioner will meet the media this weekend in Canton

Goodell AP

Much has been made about the apparent unwillingness of Commissioner Roger Goodell to answer questions about the controversial decision to suspend Ravens running back Ray Rice only two games for knocking out his then-fiancée (now wife) in an elevator in February.  Earlier this week, the league office dispatched Adolpho Birch to answer questions, and the consensus is that it didn’t go well.

But while Goodell has yet to address the situation with the press, that will end this weekend in Canton.

“The Commissioner meets with the media during the [Hall of Fame] weekend and will do so again this year,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy tells PFT.

It’s safe to say the first question from the assembled media members will relate to Ray Rice.  And perhaps the second.  And perhaps the third.

It’s also safe to say that it will be difficult for Goodell to say or do anything that will change the near-unanimous belief that a league known for getting it right in most situations has gotten this one incredibly wrong.

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Bucs sign Kip Edwards, officially cut Carl Nicks

Carl Nicks AP

The Buccaneers and guard Carl Nicks struck a deal last week to bring Nicks’s time with the Buccaneers to a premature end after a toe injury and subsequent MRSA infection left him unable to play for most of his two years in Tampa.

That parting of the ways became official on Wednesday when the Bucs announced that they have released Nicks, who has indicated that he will not attempt to continue his playing career with another team. The terms of the deal he struck with Tampa before his departure have not been made public.

The Buccaneers signed cornerback Kip Edwards to take Nicks’ place on the roster. Edwards went to camp with the Bills last year and then spent time on practice squads in Minnesota and Cleveland during the regular season.

Tampa needs some depth at corner right now with Alterraun Verner and Rashaan Melvin both nicked up, but Edwards faces an uphill battle to make the team.

 

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Bengals activate Geno Atkins from PUP list

Tom Brady, Geno Atkins AP

The Bengals’ wait for defensive tackle Geno Atkins to be ready to return to practice for the first time since tearing his ACL last season has come to an end.

The team announced Wednesday that they have activated Atkins from the Physically Unable to Perform list, signaling that his recovery from last year’s injury has progressed well enough for Atkins to start taking practice reps with his teammates this week.

While the Bengals’ website says “don’t look for [Atkins] to get right into the heat of the action,” any work he’s doing now will get him closer to full strength for the start of the regular season. Given Atkins’ importance to the Cincinnati defense, that qualifies as a major step in the right direction even if team drills and full contact remain things for future practices.

The Bengals also activated sixth-round pick Marquis Flowers from the PUP list. The linebacker has been bothered by a hamstring injury. Tackle Andrew Whitworth, wide receiver Marvin Jones and tight end Jermaine Gresham are a few of the Bengals still waiting for clearance to practice with the team this summer.

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Texans owner keeping an eye on Raiders’ eyes on Texas

Jerry Jones, Bob McNair AP

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he didn’t “make a lot” of the Raiders’ nosing around the other corner of Texas, but Texans owner Bob McNair is certainly paying attention.

It’s not surprising they would look there cause they’re looking around,” McNair said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “We have a growing fan base there.

“I’m not concerned bout it. We’ll see what the options are. If that’s the best option we’ll see how it plays out.”

Of course, McNair is just one vote of the 32, and the Raiders would need 23 others to get approval to move. But McNair sounded like a guy reminding people about his turf, while trying to sound open-minded.

“The finance committee would have to approve it and I’m chairman of finance committee,” he said. “You’d have to do market research.”

“They need a new stadium. If San Antonio turns out to be the best option I wouldn’t oppose it just cause it’s San Antonio.”

Considering the still vacant hole in the country’s second-largest market, all this talk about the 36th-largest market seems unusual.

But then again, these are the Raiders we’re talking about.

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Seahawks G.M. on Lynch holdout: “Next man up”

Lynch AP

The Marshawn Lynch holdout continues.  And the team continues to create the impression that it’s not worried by his absence.

Even if it is.

Asked on Tuesday by ESPN’s John Clayton whether the team is concerned about the situation, G.M. John Schneider reiterated the team’s philosophy when answering whether the team is concerned.

You know, no,” Schneider said, via the Seattle Times.  “Everybody loves Beast Mode.  We love him and respect the guy. I think what he’s done in this community, for this franchise, is outstanding.  It’s one of those deals where you can never get inside somebody’s head.  We’re just going with our plan, and I know it’s cliché-ish but next man up.  We’ve had a plan in place here for a number of years, and we can’t veer from that plan for one person because it’s the ultimate team sport.”

The plan, as Schneider explained it, is premised on making “tough decisions.”

“You make models two and three years out, and you have to stick to that and know that there’s going to be tough decisions along the way,” Schneider told Clayton.  “We had to let guys like Red Bryant go, Chris Clemons, we weren’t able to sign Breno [Giacomini], Golden Tate.  You have to be able to make those decisions along the way knowing you’ll be able to re-sign Michael Bennett and maybe there’s a free agent that comes in and fits in your bracket. It’s just one of those deals where you have to keep going about your business, and you can’t veer off of that.

“Around here we talk about what’s next, and the next person is up. That being said, last year we went through this with Brandon Browner. He had his [injury], and [Byron Maxwell] got his opportunity. Hey, Marshawn Lynch is phenomenal. Phenomenal player and just a unique part of what we’ve had going on here.  Two years ago we were able to redo his deal, and he was a big part of that foundation that we started here.”

Schneider’s explanation hints at the point of Lynch’s holdout.  A year from now, he may be one of those “tough decisions” the team has to make, when he’s closing in on 30 and he’s due to count $9 million against the cap and Christine Michael or Robert Turbin are ready to take over.  Currently, Lynch continues to be the bell cow.  Which means it’s his last, best chance to extract more money from the franchise.

None of it really matters for now.  Sure, Lynch is racking up $30,000 per day in fines, and his $1.5 million signing bonus allocation is now partially at risk.  But the Seahawks would surely waive all fines and penalties immediately if it gets Lynch back before Week One, especially since he otherwise would be used sparingly in practice and in preseason games before Week One.

That’s why the holdout really isn’t a holdout yet, because Lynch isn’t missing much.  Last year, he had five carries in the entire preseason.  The year before, also five.  In 2011, a whopping six.

This one won’t really register until Labor Day, when the Seahawks are roughly 72 hours away from raising their first-ever championship banner and launching the effort to win a second one.  If Lynch isn’t in the fold come Tuesday morning September 2, it could take more than a bad call on a last-play Hail Mary to emerge from Opening Night with a 1-0 record.

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David Wilson out this week, will see his surgeon on Monday

David Wilson AP

Giants running back David Wilson went to the hospital for a battery of tests after suffering a burner during Tuesday’s practice, but that won’t be the end of the medical evaluations for a player who had spinal fusion surgery last year.

The Giants said Wednesday, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, that Wilson will visit Dr. Frank Cammisa on Monday. Cammisa performed the surgery on Wilson and will presumably checking to make sure that Tuesday’s injury didn’t adversely impact the structural repairs made during the operation.

Wilson will be out of action until at least that appointment, which means he won’t be practicing this week or facing the Bills in the Hall of Fame game on Sunday. That game is one of five that the Giants will play this preseason, so there will still be a lot of time for Wilson to shake off any rust during the preseason as long as the doctors feel that playing won’t create further problems.

It also gives the Giants time to be cautious in bringing Wilson back, something that will almost certainly be their preferred course of action given the nature of Wilson’s injury in 2013 and his quick return to the medical report this year.

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