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Franchise numbers are expected to go up, a little

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With the salary cap increasing by only a little in 2013, it’s safe to say that the franchise tags will increase by only a little, too.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the NFL distributed at the league meetings in December the tentative franchise tenders for 2013.

For quarterbacks, the 2012 tender will be $14.6 million.  It was $14.4 million in 2012.

For running backs, the 2012 tender will be $8.0 million.  It was $7.7 million in 2011.

For receivers, it will be $10.3 million, up from $9.6 million.

For tight ends, the number climbs from $5.4 million to $5.9 million.

For offensive linemen (yes, they’re all jumbled together regardless of whether they play center, guard, or tackle), the franchise tender climbs to $9.6 million from $9.4 million.

For defensive ends, the $10.6 million tender in 2012 becomes $10.9 million in 2013.

For defensive tackles, the franchise tender will be $8.3 million, up from $7.9 million the prior year.

For linebackers, the number moves to $9.4 million in 2013 from $8.8 million in 2012.

For cornerbacks, the tender remains roughly the same, at $10.6 million.

For safeties, the new number is $6.7 million; last year it was $6.2 million.

For kickers and punters, the franchise number of $2.5 million from 2012 increases to $2.9 million.

Last year, the first under the new CBA, the franchise numbers dropped dramatically, even though the cap went up slightly.  The reduction comes from a new formula that takes the value of franchise tags for the last five years, adds them up, divides them by the total value of the salary cap for the last five years, and multiplies the resulting percentage by the salary cap for the current year.  So the number is ultimately driven by a percentage of the cap, not by what the highest-paid players at each position make.  Eventually, the franchise tags will settle in as a fixed percentage of the salary cap, remaining the same each year and only rising based on how much the cap rises.

For some players, the tag becomes higher because the franchise tag rules guarantee the greater of the standard tag or 120 percent of the player’s cap number from the prior year.

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Ravens announce five cuts

Tom Nelson AP

The Ravens have announced the first of the moves they’ll have to make over the next two days in order to reach the 53-man limit.

Among the players dropped from the roster was wide receiver Tom Nelson, who was known as safety Tom Nelson during the early days of his NFL career. Nelson played for the Bengals in 2009 and 2010 after making the team as an undrafted free agent and saw action in four games for the Eagles in 2011. That was the last time Nelson played in the league, so making the move to receiver was a big leap to take in order to continue his professional career.

Nelson caught five passes for 57 yards in the preseason. The Ravens also waived wide receiver Daniel Brown, leaving them with seven wideouts on the roster at the moment.

Linebacker Andrew Bose, tackle Blaine Clausell and cornerback Quinton Pointer were also waived as the Ravens dropped to 70 players.

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Keep up with NFL cuts with our PFT 53-man roster trackers

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NFL teams are going to remove 704 players from the payroll in the next 24 hours or so, as teams have until 4 p.m. Saturday to get to the 53-man roster limit.

It’s a lot to follow. But fortunately for you, we’re here to help.

We’ll be keeping up with the action as it happens, and will continue to until teams are down to the regular season limit.

You can click the link for a list of AFC cuts, and here for the NFC.

Hit refresh often, because this stuff happens fast. And, because we’re nice enough to compile them for you.

Thanks.

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Falcons trading for Andy Levitre

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Guard Andy Levitre fell out of favor with the Titans this offseason and was thought to be on the roster bubble with Tennessee dropping to 53 players by Saturday afternoon’s deadline.

The bubble has burst for Levitre with the Titans, but, as someone may well have said at some point, when one bubble bursts another opens.

On Twitter Friday, Levitre tweeted “#RiseUp,” which is a slogan used by the Falcons and PFT has learned, via a league source, that Levitre’s post was in fact a reference to a trade that will send him to Atlanta. The compensation going back to Tennessee is unknown at this time.

Levitre came to Tennessee on a six-year, $46.8 million contract before the 2013 season and played all 32 games for the Titans over the last two seasons, but his performance wasn’t up to the expectations that accompanied Levitre from his successful stint with the Bills. Byron Bell replaced him at left guard this summer, which would have made him an expensive backup for the Titans.

He’ll move into a zone blocking system with Kyle Shanahan running the Falcons offense and should be able to mount at least a challenge for a starting job given the underwhelming current crop of interior linemen in Atlanta.

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Jay Ajayi suffered a cracked rib Thursday night

Jay Ajayi AP

Running back Jay Ajayi dropped a bit lower than expected in the draft because of concerns about his knee and now a rib injury may limit his chances of making an impact in his rookie season with the Dolphins.

Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports that Ajayi, who wound up going in the fifth round, cracked a rib during Thursday night’s preseason finale. The injury came during a good game for Ajayi, who ran nine times for 66 yards and caught two passes for 37 yards against the Buccaneers. It was a step in the right direction for Ajayi, who missed the first two preseason games while dealing with hamstring issues in August.

“I thought he ran hard,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “He made a guy or two miss, showed toughness inside, and caught the balls that were thrown to him, which is always a good place to start.”

There’s not much chance that the Dolphins are going to cut Ajayi, but his absences early in camp didn’t help him in the competition for playing time with other backup options to Lamar Miller. If the Dolphins want to go with Damien Williams, LaMichael James and/or Mike Gillislee, they could place Ajayi on injured reserve and let this year serve as a redshirt season.

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Bills to release linebacker/puncher of people IK Enemkpali

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Tyrod Taylor doesn’t have to worry about getting punched in the face, or at least as much as he did previously.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, the Bills have released linebacker IK Enemkpali, who they had in for a few weeks after he broke former Jets teammate Geno Smith’s jaw.

The Bills had some interest since coach Rex Ryan drafted him during his last year with the Bills, but they apparently decided he wasn’t worth keeping around.

While Enemkpali has some pass-rush potential, he also has problems keeping his hands to himself off the field.

In addition to his former teammate who owed him $600, Enemkpali has also punched an off-duty cop and a man who was posing as a woman named “Missy Lee” whom he met on the internet and arranged to have sex with.

And now, he has punched his ticket out of Buffalo.

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Report: Eagles trying to trade Najee Goode

Jimmy Garoppolo, Najee Goode AP

There were points this offseason when people wondered whether the Eagles were interested in trading linebacker Mychal Kendricks, but those thoughts went out the window when the Eagles signed Kendricks to a contract extension.

That guaranteed a crowded group at inside linebacker since the Eagles also have DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso and 2015 third-round pick Jordan Hicks on track to make the roster with former Packer Brad Jones and Najee Goode also in the mix. The Eagles are reportedly trying to thin that herd through a trade.

Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Eagles are trying to trade Goode before the Saturday afternoon deadline to cut the roster to 53 players. There’s no word on what they might be looking for in return, but anything more than a pick in the final rounds would be a stretch.

Goode was a fifth-round pick in 2012 and has played 18 games in three years with the team. He missed 15 games last season after tearing his pectoral muscle in the season opener.

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Report: Steelers trade punter Wing to Giants

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The news of the Giants releasing punter Steve Weatherford Friday morning came as a surprise. Now, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports the Giants have added his replacement, Brad Wing, in a trade with the Steelers.

That means the Steelers are likely going with Jordan Berry as their punter. Wing punted for the Steelers as a rookie last season.

Berry averaged 49.8 yards per punt in the preseason, about a yard better than Wing. Berry was working an overnight shift at McDonald’s a year ago in his native Australia before getting an office job in hopes of saving enough money to return to the United States and give the NFL one more try, and it appears now he’s landed an NFL gig.

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PFT Live: Jeffrey Kessler, Eagles talk with Tim McManus

Jeffrey L. Kessler AP

The NFLPA and Tom Brady scored a big win in federal court over the NFL on Thursday and we’ll have one of the key people involved on the winning side as a guest on PFT Live Friday.

Attorney Jeffrey Kessler fielded the questions from Judge Richard Berman for the NFLPA during oral arguments leading up to Berman’s decision to overturn Brady’s four-game suspension and he’ll join Mike Florio on Friday’s program to discuss the case. They’ll talk about the ruling, the NFL’s appeal and what impact the whole saga may have on future disciplinary actions coming from the league office.

Tim McManus of 97.5 The Fanatic will be on the program to talk about the Eagles with the cut to 53 players looming. They’ll talk about who will make the roster and whether Tim Tebow will be the No. 3 quarterback in Philly this year.

As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour by clicking right here.

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Snoop Dogg isn’t a fan of the Tom Brady decision

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A well-established bandwagon-hopper who seems to gravitate to the Steelers isn’t happy with the court decision that makes Patriots quarterback Tom Brady available for the Week One game against Pittsburgh.

Rapper Snoop Dogg posted a video online complaining about the reversal of the suspension by Judge Richard Berman.

“Yeah, the NFL overturned Brady’s sh-t,” Snoop Dogg said. “I can’t do nothing but smoke. That’s bullsh-t. You might as well overturn all the homies that got weed cases in the league, too. If you all are gonna do that. Keep it real.”

On one hand, he has a point. The NFL shouldn’t care about players smoking marijuana on their own time — especially in Colorado and Washington, where it’s now legal. On the other hand, the substance-abuse policy is separate from the policies that applied to Brady.

Brady was never told he could be suspended for his actions. Players know they can be suspended for smoking marijuana. And that’s ultimately why Brady will be playing against Snoop’s Steelers in six days.

It’s also why Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and receiver Martavis Bryant won’t be.

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Bucs going with Kyle Brindza as their kicker

Lovie Smith AP

The third kicker the Bucs tried during the preseason is the one who will be on the roster for the start of the regular season.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Bucs will go with Kyle Brindza as their kicker. The team traded to acquire Brindza from the Lions earlier this week, and he made field goals of 55 and 57 yards in Thursday night’s preseason finale.

Last year’s kicker Patrick Murray will be gone because he missed both field goals and extra points during the preseason. Before the third preseason game the Bucs signed Connor Barth, who’d lost a 2014 camp competition to Murray, and Barth missed his first field goal try in a preseason game last weekend.

Brindza, 22, is a rookie out of Notre Dame. He punted and kicked at Notre Dame and had to go the undrafted route after struggling last season, but at least for now he’s landed a job in the NFL.

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T.J. Ward on why he was suspended: My last name’s not Brady

T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib AP

In a statement released after the announcement of a one-game suspension on Thursday, Broncos safety T.J. Ward said that he takes “full responsibility” for the 2014 incident at a Denver strip club that led to the suspension and that he’s “willing to accept the consequences” of his actions.

That doesn’t mean Ward is thrilled about the league’s decision. Through a plea arrangement that called for him to do community service, the misdemeanor assault and disturbing the peace charges against Ward for allegedly throwing a mug at a bartender were dropped and that doesn’t sit right with the safety.

“I feel it’s really unfair,” Ward said, via the Denver Post. “I’m getting punished for being accused of doing something. Not doing something, but being accused. And I’ve got to pay the consequences.”

When Ward was asked why he thinks he was suspended, he invoked the name of the Patriots quarterback whose suspension was thrown out by Judge Richard Berman earlier on Thursday.

“My last name’s not Brady,” Ward said.

There are myriad differences between the two cases and Ward’s not the first player to be suspended without being convicted of a crime, but dropping Tom Brady’s name into the conversation is an easy way to build on the stiff rebuke of the way NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wields his power that Berman issued earlier in the day.

It doesn’t look like this case is headed to federal court, so the Broncos will probably just have to play without Ward for the opening week of the season. It probably won’t be the last time we’re reminded of the eroded confidence in Goodell and the NFL’s disciplinary policies as a result of their handling of the Brady suspension, though.

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Eagles to end John Moffitt’s comeback from retirement attempt

John Moffitt AP

The Eagles were willing to give John Moffitt a chance to come back to the NFL, but he didn’t show them enough to warrant extending that chance to the regular season.

According to John Lombardo of NJ.com, the Eagles have released the former Seahawks and short-time Broncos guard.

Moffitt un-retired this summer after a two-year sabbatical from the league. When he was playing, he faced a number of drug and public urination charges, but he reportedly went to rehab to get himself back on track.

Whether he gets back to playing football remains to be seen, but it won’t be in Philadelphia.

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49ers release Darnell Dockett

Darnell Dockett AP

In the offseason, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett chose the 49ers over the Cardinals. Now, the 49ers have chosen someone else over Dockett.

Per a league source, the 49ers have released Dockett, one day ahead of the mandatory trimming of rosters from 75 to 53.

Dockett signed a two-year, $7.25 million deal with the 49ers. He earned a $500,000 workout bonus, and he has $2 million in guaranteed base salary, with offset language.

The move makes Dockett a free agent. He can now sign with any other team. And the 49ers will get a dollar-for-dollar credit, up to $2 million, on whatever he earns elsewhere.

Dockett had been dealing with a rib issue; he called it a cracked rib, and the team called it a cartilage issue. If he doesn’t quickly land with a new team, an injury grievance is possible, since players can’t be cut when they are hurt.

Either way, there’s a chance team will wait until after Week One to sign Dockett. As a vested veteran, his full base salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster for the opening weekend.

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Bucs moving on from Da’Quan Bowers

Da'Quan Bowers, Adrian Clayborn AP

Da’Quan Bowers signed a one-year deal with the Bucs just before training camp in hopes of rejuvenating his career and moving past his disappointing first four seasons.

Instead, it’s the team that’s moving on. Per Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, the Bucs plan to waive Bowers as part of their roster cuts that will be made Friday and Saturday.

Bowers tweeted a thank you to the Bucs on Friday morning.

A second-round pick in 2011, Bowers had seven sacks in four years for the Bucs. He’s played both defensive end and defensive tackle.

“Da’Quan did some good things for us last year,” Bucs coach Love Smith said early in camp. “And I know right now, he came in, in-shape and ready to go.

“He can be a good football player.”

He just wasn’t good enough for the Bucs this summer.

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Doug Whaley: I didn’t go rogue on decision to cut Fred Jackson

Fred Jackson, Sealver Siliga AP

After the Bills cut running back Fred Jackson this week, Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reported that General Manager Doug Whaley “went rogue” on the decision to part ways with the longtime member of the team and never entertained the idea of a pay cut that would have made Jackson a more affordable piece for the team to hold onto going into the season.

On Thursday, Whaley answered questions about that report. He said the decision to release Jackson “wasn’t an easy one” and that it wasn’t one that he made by breaking off from the rest of the organization.

“Let’s put it this way,” Whaley said, via the Buffalo News. “I gather information from everybody, from the running backs coach to the offensive coordinator to the head coach and the owners. I wouldn’t be in this position — especially with new ownership — I’m going to include them. That’s my boss. We wouldn’t make a decision without them.”

Whaley said coach Rex Ryan was with him when they informed Jackson of his release, but declined to delve into the reasons behind the decision other than saying it was one the team felt it “had to make.”

Jackson, who accused Whaley of being dishonest with him about his status on the team, visited with the Seahawks this week, but hasn’t signed a contract in Seattle or anywhere else.

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