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Big return nets Micheal Spurlock special teams honors

Tanner Purdum, Micheal Spurlock AP

There hasn’t been much to celebrate during this Chargers season, but punt returner Micheal Spurlock provided them with a highlight last Sunday.

Spurlock took a punt back 63 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, giving them their first punt return for a score since 2009 and sending them on their way to a 27-17 victory over the Jets. Spurlock has been named the AFC special teams player of the week as a result of his score, joining linebacker Donald Butler as the only weekly individual award winners for San Diego this year.

It’s the third time Spurlock has won special teams player of the week. Each of his previous honors came as a member of the Buccaneers with the last one coming after Week 16 of the 2009 season. It’s Spurlock’s second career punt return and he has also taken two kickoffs back the distance over the course of his career.

The league also singled out Bengals punter Kevin Huber and Ravens kicker Justin Tucker as other nominees for this week’s award.

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Should Steelers use exclusive or non-exclusive tag on Le’Veon Bell?

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts prior to the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last night’s erroneous analysis of the running back franchise tag calculation from NFL Network, which pushed the idea that the release of Adrian Peterson will reduce the tender even though it won’t, provided one valuable service, albeit indirectly and unintentionally.

The #fakenews brought to light the fact that the exclusive franchise tender for running backs in 2017 will be dramatically lower than the non-exclusive tender. Which means that the Steelers can use either one on running back Le’Veon Bell, at the exact same cost. So which one would they/should they use?

The difference matters only if another team would be inclined to sign Bell to an offer sheet and surrender a pair of first-round draft picks if the Steelers don’t match. Given the position he plays, his injury history (three weeks ago, Bell said he still doesn’t know if he’ll need surgery to repair a groin muscle injured during the playoffs), and multiple substance-abuse policy suspensions, it’s highly unlikely that anyone (even one of the teams at the bottom of the first round) would cough up that kind of compensation for Bell.

Still, with the non-exclusive tag, Bell would be allowed to visit other teams and negotiate with them. With the exclusive tag, he’d be blocked from talking to anyone except the Steelers.

If the Steelers choose to use the non-exclusive tag, the message to other teams could be that Pittsburgh would be willing to trade Bell for something less than two first-round picks — and Bell would have the ability to shop himself via negotiation with interested parties. The decision that Pittsburgh makes in this regard therefore could say plenty about whether the Steelers are willing to move on from Bell, at the right price.

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John Lynch called Matt Millen to see what not to do

MattMillenGettyImages Getty Images

When the 49ers hired former NFL safety and broadcaster John Lynch to become their General Manager, the easy punch line was that it sounded a lot like the Lions hiring Matt Millen.

But Lynch touched base with Millen as he embarked on his new gig, to make sure his team didn’t turn into the same kind of joke.

Via Matt Maiocco of, Lynch said he had a conversation with Millen about what not to do.

“Matt Millen and I had a great conversation the other day,” Lynch said during an interview on 95.7 The Game. “I found it was very interesting to talk to him. He shared with me some of the things that he would’ve done differently. I think you can learn a little bit from everything and everyone, but ultimately you go to put your head down and go to work.

“We’ve put together a really, really quality team that I’m excited about. We’re in full stride and working every day to knock down things on our list. It’s a big list, and we’re ambitious on how aggressive we want to attack that. But it’s going very well.”

Among Lynch’s moves was hiring the guy who replaced Millen in Detroit as a senior personnel executive. And while Martin Mayhew’s 47-81 record as G.M. wasn’t sterling, it was better than Millen’s 31-61.

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Colin Kaepernick needs an agent fairly soon

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 24:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently parted ways with his agents. Per NFLPA records, he has yet to hire a replacement.

He’ll need to move fairly soon. As Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group recently pointed out, the window for opting out of his contract in San Francisco opens on March 2 and closes on March 7.

Apart from needing an agent to file the right paperwork to opt out on time (then again, former 49ers receiver Terrell Owens had an agent to file the proper paperwork and there still was a snafu), Kaepernick needs an agent to talk to other teams during the two-day window before free agency opens on March 9, because teams can’t talk directly to players during that window — even if the players are self-represented.

Of course, it may not matter for Kaepernick; there’s no indication that a land rush for his services will unfold when free agency opens, in part because some owners will view the potential fallout from embracing a player who engaged in a season-long National Anthem protest as making him radioactive, from a business standpoint.

Regardless of politics, the fact remains that NFL teams need to persuade fans to part ways with their money and time. With a certain percentage of the fan base automatically alienated by Kaepernick’s arrival, some teams will look elsewhere when the time comes to add a quarterback, regardless of his past accomplishments, his current/future potential, and the ongoing effort by plenty of teams to upgrade at the position.

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Lions hire former Texans coordinator George Godsey

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30:  Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans talks with offensive coordinator George Godsey on the sideline in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at NRG Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

Sometimes when you’re looking for a job, you have to look on the other side of the ball.

According to Albert Breer of, former Texans offensive coordinator George Godsey has been hired by the Lions for a job that sounds kind of made up on the fly.

His new title is defensive assistant/special projects. That has a certain air of mystery about it, like he’s a football spy or something.

Godsey worked with Lions General Manager Bob Quinn in New England, providing the hook. But he’s always been on offense, going back to his days as a quarterback at Georgia Tech to his first coaching gig at Central Florida with George O’Leary.

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Report: Cardinals have no interest in Jay Cutler

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 24:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears walks off of the field after losing to the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on December 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Washington Redskins defeated the Chicago Bears 41-21.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) Getty Images

In this week’s installment of his Monday column for, Peter King spent some time discussing quarterbacks who will be or are expected to be on the move this offseason.

Jay Cutler was on that list as the general feeling heading into the new league year is that the Bears will part ways with the veteran. King floated the Cardinals as a destination for Cutler to serve as a backup, citing coach Bruce Arians being the league’s “biggest proponent of the deep ball” and the possibility of Carson Palmer departing after the 2017 season.

It doesn’t look like that thought balloon has much air in it, though. Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports that the Cardinals have “zero interest” in bringing Cutler to the desert this offseason.

The Cardinals haven’t been shy about talking about the need to set themselves up for when Palmer moves on, but that talk has seemed to focus more on quarterbacks younger than Cutler. For his part, Cutler may be able to find a situation where he’s able to at least compete for the starting job and that may be a more appealing option than resigning himself to a backup role with the Cardinals or anyone else.

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Jimmy Garoppolo on his future: Your guess is as good as mine

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 07: Jimmy Garoppolo of the New England Patriots holds the Vince Lombardi trophy during the Super Bowl victory parade on February 7, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t know whether he’ll remain with the Patriots or get traded this offseason, and he doesn’t sound like he has a strong preference either way.

Garoppolo appeared on Adam Schefter’s podcast and made a point of saying that he’ll accept whatever his future holds, whether that’s another year as Tom Brady’s backup in New England, or a new home in some other NFL city.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Garoppolo said.

Garoppolo can’t stop the Patriots from trading him, nor can he force the Patriots to trade him. He could, however, exert pressure one way or the other: He could make noise about not wanting to be a backup for another year and say publicly that he wants to start, which might spur the Patriots to trade him because they don’t want an unhappy camper. Or if he wants to stay put for another year, he could announce that he won’t sign a contract extension with any team that trades for him and will test free agency in 2018, which would make teams hesitate to acquire him.

But it appears that Garoppolo isn’t trying either of those tactics. Instead, he’ll just wait and see where he ends up.

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Could Darrelle Revis come home to Pittsburgh?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 27:  Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets looks on before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on September 27, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

Regardless of the outcome of his criminal case in Pittsburgh, the Jets still have a decision to make about cornerback Darrelle Revis. They already owe him $6 million fully guaranteed for 2017; if he’s on the roster on March 10, they’ll owe him another $2 million in the form of a roster bonus.

As Brian Costello of the New York Post explains it, the Jets ultimately need to make a football decision about Revis — especially since the criminal case seems to be a bit on the flimsy side. If they cut him, he’ll become a free agent.

So how about returning home to Pittsburgh, for reasons other than a court date? The Steelers were one of the teams reportedly interested in Revis two years ago, along with the Browns, Packers, Chiefs, and Ravens.

Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Steelers shouldn’t want Revis. Based on how he played last year, that’s easy to understand. But what if a change of scenery, a return home, a new position (safety), and a desire to prove the doubters wrong (you know, those who had the audacity to notice that he didn’t play well last year) gives him the kick in the pants he needs as he enters the twilight of his career?

There’s another potential benefit for joining the Steelers. With a criminal case pending in Pittsburgh and with the local legal system apparently inclined to throw a bone to the locals who play with pigskins, becoming a Steeler could help Revis get the same kind of discretion exercised in his favor that Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter recently enjoyed.

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DeSean Jackson: Going to Eagles would be a great story

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 19: Wide receiver DeSean Jackson #11 of the Washington Redskins reacts after making a catch against the Carolina Panthers in the fourth quarter at FedExField on December 19, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s been plenty of discussion about the possibility of wide receiver DeSean Jackson returning to the Eagles as a free agent next month, something that few people considered a realistic turn of events when Jackson was released by Philadelphia in 2014.

Chip Kelly was the coach of the Eagles when Jackson left and he’s since been replaced by Doug Pederson in a move that’s helped fuel the chatter about a second stint with the Eagles. Jackson isn’t tipping his hand about his plans for what could be a robust market for his services, but acknowledges the narrative appeal of a return engagement.

“It definitely is a great story or ending, I guess you could say,” Jackson said on Adam Schefter of ESPN’s podcast. “Starting your career somewhere then going to a division rival team [and] having the possibility of maybe going back. You just kind of think about all of that when you start somewhere maybe you could finish it. There is just a lot of speculation of a lot of thoughts. It all sounds good, but you really never know until the final decision is made. I’m just a firm believer that if you work hard, you put in the work, continuously go out there and show everybody what you’re capable of [then] the sky’s the limit.”

Jackson said that he’d love to play with a “great quarterback” and used that adjective to describe Redskins teammate Kirk Cousins. He also said Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was “lights out” as a rookie and “he has all the intangibles” to be at that level as well.

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Joey Porter still faces league discipline

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 16:  Assistant coach Joey Porter of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field on August 16, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Attorney Robert Del Greco Jr. worked his magic for Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter in a court of law. Porter will have a much harder time pulling a rabbit from the hat in the Football People’s Court.

Porter still faces scrutiny under the Personal Conduct Policy, where non-players (who don’t have union protection) are held to a higher standard — and where the NFL now disregards the outcome of the criminal justice process. A suspension remains possible, and not just for pleading guilty to a “disorderly conduct citation,” which sounds like “glorified parking ticket.”

The league will look at everything, including the video that the Pittsburgh Police Citizens Police Review Board concluded should have resulted in the pursuit of aggravated assault charges. The league won’t give a Steelers employee the same pass that the powers-that-be in Pittsburgh did.

Unless of course the league wants to. That seems to be how discipline is ultimately meted out at 345 Park Avenue, with the outcome chosen in advance and the process engineered to get there.

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Joey Porter to plead guilty to disorderly conduct today

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 14: Joey Porter, a former Pittsburgh Steelers player, walks on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Joey Porter is going to take a knee.

According to the Associated Press, the Steelers assistant coach is going to plead guilty to a disorderly conduct citation this afternoon, ending the flap about his dispute with a bouncer and a police officer in January.

Charges had been reduced from the original aggravated assault, following a dust-up outside a South Side bar. The Steelers placed him on an indefinite leave, which turned out to be less than a week.

The citation is the least serious charge possible, and the league was still reviewing the case the last time anyone asked.

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DeShaun Watson plans to do everything for teams at the Combine

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 02:  Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson visits the SiriusXM set at Super Bowl 51 Radio Row at the George R. Brown Convention Center on February 2, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM) Getty Images

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was criticized in some corners for not participating in the Senior Bowl, but those people won’t have anything to complain about at the Scouting Combine.

Via the Associated Press, Watson said he planned on doing everything in Indianapolis, which should keep the “entertain us” crowd happy.

“That’s the plan,” Watson said of the Combine. “Run, throw, meetings, everything.”

Watson has completed his degree and won a national championship, so the second Davey O’Brien award he picked up Monday night was icing on a pretty good cake of a year. He threw for 41 touchdowns and ran for nine more to lead the Tigers to the title, and figures to be a first round pick.

“I’m hearing that. First round, anywhere in that range, top 10, top five, just depends on what the teams say,” Watson said. “It’s something I can’t control. I just make sure I can control what I can control. Stay positive.

“The height is the height. This is how God made me. My hands are this size. I can’t really control that. I can put on weight and be able to go out there and throw and run and talk in the interviews and my knowledge.”

There may be flaws teams can find, but they won’t be able to knock Watson for not participating.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 18: Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox #91 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts after recovering a fumble in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Does LB Brandon Spikes have a future with the Bills?

Looking at the Dolphins defensive tackle picture now that Earl Mitchell is out of it.

The Patriots should have stability on the offensive line.

An argument that CB Darrelle Revis‘ fight shouldn’t change how the Jets handle things this offseason.

Which Ravens are set for a step forward in 2017?

Exploring the idea of T Andre Smith returning to the Bengals.

Five things to know about the Browns’ pursuit of QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

The Steelers may bring in a kicker to complement Chris Boswell this offseason.

Running back depth could be a priority for the Texans this offseason.

The Colts feel TE Erik Swoope made strides in 2016.

What will T Branden Albert’s arrival mean for the Jaguars offensive line?

SEC linebackers could fit with the Titans in the draft.

Former Broncos RB Terrell Davis is in limited company as a Hall of Famer selected in the sixth round.

The Chiefs have to consider who will follow LB Derrick Johnson in the starting lineup.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio wants his players to stay safe on their New Zealand vacation.

The Chargers are gone, but former C Nick Hardwick remains part of San Diego.

Don’t count former Cowboys WR Drew Pearson among those that feel bad about Terrell Owens missing the Hall of Fame.

Will Tom Coughlin’s moves with the Jaguars wind up impacting the Giants?

Eagles DT Fletcher Cox has invested in the drag racing world.

Running through some under the radar issues for the Redskins this offseason.

Remembering the historic achievement and perfect name of former Bears QB Willie Thrower.

A Lions-centric free agency preview of wide receivers and tight ends.

LS Brett Goode will compete for another year on the Packers roster.

Will the Vikings retain T Matt Kalil?

The top plays of the Falcons season.

How would WR Victor Cruz fit in the Panthers offense?

Tight end doesn’t look like a focus for the Saints this offseason.

Former Buccaneers QB Parnell Dickerson will be inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame this weekend.

Jen Welter is going from Cardinals coaching intern to coaching Australia’s entry in in the IFAF Women’s World Championship.

The Rams could be a fit for impending free agent WR Alshon Jeffery.

The 49ers are expected to host DT Earl Mitchell on a Tuesday visit.

Seahawks C Justin Britt was a wrestler in high school and shared his love for the sport with kids last weekend.

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K’Waun Williams has four contract offers, including Jets

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 11:  Defensive back K'Waun Williams #36 of the Cleveland Browns looks on against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

There have been visits, and some other suggestions of interest in former Browns cornerback K’Waun Williams. But some teams have finally made tangible expressions of their desire.

According to Darryl Slater of, the Jets have offered the free agent corner a contract, one of four teams to do so.

He also visited the Lions, and the Vikings, Dolphins and 49ers were reported to have some degree of interest. That leaves the door open for Mystery Team, the most active of free agent shoppers every season.

The slot corner is expected to make a decision later this week.

Williams didn’t play last season because of an ankle injury, and a disagreement over the treatment of it led to an end of his time with the Browns.

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Report: Reuniting with Adam Gase drew Julius Thomas to Miami

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 23:   Julius Thomas #80 of the Jacksonville Jaguars scores a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during the game at EverBank Field on October 23, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Raides won 33-16.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tight end Julius Thomas is set for a physical in Miami on Tuesday, a day after the Jaguars and Dolphins agreed to a trade that would send Thomas to South Florida when trades are officially allowed to be processed on March 9.

Thomas agreed to rework his contract as part of the deal, something that could have turned into a sticking point if Thomas preferred to force the Jaguars to cut him so he could pick his own destination. Miami offered something no other team could offer, however.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Thomas’ desire to reunite with Dolphins coach Adam Gase, who ran the offense for the Broncos in 2013 and 2014, was the impetus to agreeing to a new deal with a new team. Thomas’ 108 catches for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns during those two seasons landed him the big free agent contract with the Jaguars that he’s now reworking and his failure to replicate that production has him on the move, so it’s not hard to see the appeal.

Thomas was catching passes from Peyton Manning in those two seasons, something that won’t be the case in Miami. Ryan Tannehill turned in a strong first season under Gase, however, and adding Thomas to Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and company sets him up with weapons to do the same in 2017.

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Cedric Benson busted for drunk driving again, says doesn’t know ABCs

Cleveland Browns v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Cedric Benson played nearly a decade in the NFL, and now says it has impaired his ability to drive. Or spell. Or something.

The longtime Bears and Bengals running back was charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas Saturday morning, and had a novel excuse for not undergoing a field sobriety test.

According to Rachel Rice of the Austin American-Statesman,  police affidavit said that when the Austin police officer asked him to recite the alphabet, Benson “stated he couldn’t do that because he played 8 years in the NFL.” He also claimed he was unable to count higher than 3, and refused a balance test.

Of course, this happened at 2:47 a.m., so there are many possible explanations for his sudden weakness in math and written skills. Police said his eyes were glassy, he was swaying and mumbling, and that he smelled of alcohol and was: “talkative, uncooperative [and] cocky.”

Benson has a long history of trouble with the law in Texas, and with alcohol-related problems. He was cut by the Bears in 2008 after being busted for both drinking and boating under the influence in a short amount of time. He was charged with public intoxication in 2014 after an argument with a woman in a cab. In 2010 he was charged with assault for punching a bar employee and was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

Any of those alone might have been enough to signal a problem that needed to be addressed, but apparently it hasn’t for Benson.

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