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Browns QB decision speaks to lack of security there

Cleveland Browns v Denver Broncos Getty Images

The Browns are one day closer to a depth chart of Thaddeus Lewis and Josh Johnson at quarterback, after Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy were held out of another day of practice Thursday with shoulder injuries.

And that may get them one day closer to a new regime, such that they weren’t already.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Browns coach Pat Shurmur declined to answer which of his first two quarterbacks had the worse injury, but he didn’t rule either out for Sunday’s finale at Pittsburgh.

He also said they thought about bringing back Seneca Wallace for the final week, before opting for Johnson.

That’s another subtle sign that things are changing, and about to change even more. If they wanted a guy who was more familiar with Shurmur’s system and could get them through the week, they’d have just brought back Wallace, who was released this year in the preseason. Johnson isn’t going to be the quarterback of the future or anything, but he at least has some potential, when all the Browns really need is someone who can get the team in and out of the huddle one more time.

Shurmur said the signing of Johnson instead was a collaborative effort by new CEO Joe Banner and just-as-secure-as-Shurmur-is GM Tom Heckert.

Sure it was.

When asked about his own future, Shurmur adopted what, in print, appeared to be a dead-man-walking tone.

“I’ll think about my future after Pittsburgh,” Shurmur said. “I’m not worried about it. We have not won enough football games, and I know that’s the way this thing works.”

He also added: “we came into a less-than-ideal situation when we got here,” which is the exact thing people say right before they’re fired.

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Derrick Brooks to Jameis Winston: “That’s the fishbowl you live in”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers  linebacker Derrick Brooks warmsup against the Buffalo Bills September 18, 2005 in Tampa.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Much was said this week about the boys-are-strong-girls-are-silent comments from Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. Hall of Fame Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks had a few things to say directly to Winston, primarily to help him avoid similar problems in the future.

That’s the fishbowl you live in,” Brooks told Jameis, according to a Sunday interview with Brooks on 102.5 FM in Tampa, via JoeBucsFan.com.

Instead of criticizing Winston or criticizing the media for criticizing Winston, Brooks focused on looking ahead. He told Winston that he shouldn’t “go into a turtle shell,” and that he should consider techniques other than long speeches when speaking to kids.

On one hand, Winston could be doing far worse things than trying to inspire and guide youth; he should be praised for that effort and encouraged to continue it. On the other hand, his seat-of-the-pants attempt to deal with one boy who didn’t seem to be enthused by Winston’s speech resulted in comments that revealed a laughably outdated mindset regarding gender-based stereotypes that mainstream society ditched in the 1960s.

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Panthers keep Mario Addison with new three-year deal

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) works in the backfield as Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison (97) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt) AP

The Panthers have signed defensive end Mario Addison to a new contract, keeping the pass rusher in their rotation and off of the free agent market.

Addison, 29, had a career high 9.5 sacks last season. He has 21 of his 25.5 career sacks over the last three seasons with the Panthers.

Per NFL Network, the new deal is for three years and a total of $22.5 million.

Addison would have been a free agent at the start of the new league year on March 9 had he not signed the new contract. He’s been with the Panthers since 2012 after being signed off of Washington’s practice squad. He’s been mostly used as a pass-rush specialist and has only started one game in the last three seasons.

A former undrafted free agent, Addison broke into the league with the Bears and spent time with the Colts before signing with Washington’s practice squad and first landing with Carolina in Dec. 2012. The Panthers also signed him a two-year extension prior to the 2014 season.

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Team-by-team look at potential tag candidates

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 29: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins looks on in the third quarter of a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Matt Hazlett/ Getty Images) Getty Images

With only a few days left and no tags applied, it’s time to take a look at where the franchise and transition tags could land between now and Wednesday, March 1.

So let’s take our annual team-by-team look at the tag candidates. Better never than late.

Dolphins: No tags are likely in Miami. Receiver Kenny Stills will likely get No. 1 money elsewhere, and the Dolphins can’t justify tagging him with Jarvis Landry on the roster and now eligible for a second contract.

Bills: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore wants big money on a long-term deal. He’ll get a chance to get it elsewhere; the franchise tag is unlikely for the man who has finished a five-year rookie contract in Buffalo.

Jets: A season after tagging Muhammad Wilkerson, they’ve got no impending free agents worthy of the tag this year.

Patriots: Linebacker Dont’a Hightower has surmised that the trade of Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins makes it more likely that Hightower remains in the long-term plans. Absent a long-term deal before March 9, only the franchise tag will ensure another year with the guy who made one of the key plays in Super Bowl LI. For now, whether it’s used remains up in the air.

Steelers: Running back Le’Veon Bell is the prime candidate, but the expected investment of $12 million could be too much for the Steelers. The transition tag is a possibility as well, if no other team would be willing to offer huge money for a guy with a history of injuries and suspensions.

Bengals: Tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler are the two top candidates. Because all offensive lineman are lumped into the same bucket for the franchise tag, however, guards and centers rarely if ever get tagged. Given Whitworth’s age and the team’s frugality, a tag for him isn’t likely, either.

Browns: Has receiver Terrelle Pryor done enough to merit the tag? It would be an amazing development if it happens, but the Browns need to find a way to retain a player who has yet to reach his ceiling at his new position — and who has the kind of zeal and passion for his team and his city that more Browns players need.

Ravens: Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is the team’s top candidate, but the Ravens haven’t been bashful about letting big-money players go and reloading from below. If they believe in Michael Pierce, the Ravens could be willing to let Williams walk — and to reel in a third-round compensatory draft pick in 2018 in return for him.

Texans: They seem to be willing to let cornerback A.J. Bouye hit the market and walk away.

Colts: To use the franchise tag, it’s important to have quality players beyond a franchise quarterback.

Titans: The biggest name to hit free agency belongs to guard Chance Warmack. Since guards get lumped in with tackles, it will be too expensive to tag a guy who didn’t do enough to prompt the Titans to pick up the fifth-year option.

Jaguars: One of the benefits of having a roster with talent that skews young is that none of the impending free agents cry out “tag me.”

Broncos: A year after a protracted and at times nasty fight with linebacker Von Miller, the Broncos have no tag-worthy free agents.

Chiefs: They’ll have to decide between $12.96 million for safety Eric Berry or roughly the same for defensive tackle Dontari Poe, if neither signs a long-term deal by Wednesday. Berry has said he won’t play under the franchise tag, even though his one-year haul would exceed the top of the market at the safety position.

Chargers: Quarterbacks and men who hit quarterbacks are the two most valuable types of player in today’s NFL. With Joey Bosa on one side and Melvin Ingram on the other, the Chargers need to keep both around. With Bosa in the second-year of a wage-scale contract, they can afford to tag Ingram.

Raiders: They reportedly expect running back Latavius Murray to leave. Which means they don’t expect to tag him. Which makes sense, since few running backs are worth $12 million or more for one year.

Cowboys: The Cowboys have a few free agents (like cornerback Morris Claiborne) but none that deserve to be tagged.

Washington: Quarterback Kirk Cousins will, by all indications, be tagged. Even though it will cost the team $23.94 million for 2017. On top of the $19.95 million paid last year.

Giants: Two years ago, they tagged Jason Pierre-Paul. And then he had a serious fireworks injury. Last year, he signed a team-friendly one-year deal. This year, they may be tagging him again. They should, given the way he performed in 2016.

Eagles: The Eagles have plenty of needs to address, and their cap space won’t be strapped by tagging one of their looming free agents.

Vikings: Their best free agents (Matt Kalil, Cordarrelle Patterson) aren’t good enough to justify the tag.

Packers: Not long ago, it appeared running back Eddie Lacy wouldn’t be tagged in 2017 because he’d have a long-term deal. He won’t be tagged for very different reasons.

Lions: Next year, Matthew Stafford (absent a new deal). This year, no one.

Bears: It doesn’t make sense to devote more than $17 million to receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has now had two consecutive subpar contract years. However, if coach John Fox and G.M. Ryan Pace are truly on the hot seat, it could be money well spent if it saves their jobs.

Panthers: Defensive tackle Kawann Short likely will be tagged. The only open question is whether, and when, he’ll sign it. And, if he doesn’t, whether the team will yank it.

Buccaneers: The best news for a team on the rise is that none of the free agents merit a tag

Falcons: The best news for a team in its prime is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

Saints: The best news for a team still stuck in neutral is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

Seahawks:  The best news for a team potentially on the decline is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

49ers: The best news for a team with nowhere to go but up . . . you get the idea.

Cardinals: Owner Michael Bidwill has said that defensive end Chandler Jones will be franchise-tagged absent a new deal.

Rams: They’re considering applying the franchise tag for the second straight year to cornerback Trumaine Johnson.

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Broncos set to hire second assistant offensive line coach of offseason

Broncos practice at Dove Valley Getty Images

The Broncos hired John Benton as their assistant offensive line coach shortly after hiring Vance Joseph as their new head coach, but Benton’s tenure turned out to be a brief one.

The Broncos granted a 49ers request to interview Benton for their offensive line coach opening and Benton got the job, leaving Denver again in need of someone to work with offensive line coach Jeff Davidson. Mike Klis of KUSA reports that they’ve settled on someone for that spot.

Klis reports that Chris Strausser will leave his job as the University of Washington’s offensive line coach in order to come to Denver. Strausser worked with Washington coach Chris Petersen at Boise State, which means his arrival in Denver will allow him to reunite with one of his former players.

Broncos center Matt Paradis played for Strausser in Boise and will be back in the middle of the line for the Broncos once he’s recovered from a pair of offseason hip surgeries.

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LeSean McCoy’s “Buffalo was so special” tweet isn’t a farewell

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills running back LeSean McCoy created a stir on social media with a tweet that “Buffalo was so special . . . thanks for everything.” Many are saying (sad!) that this is a farewell from McCoy, which in turn means that McCoy has been cut.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, McCoy hasn’t been cut. The message relates to an appearance (specifically, an autograph signing) that occurred in Buffalo on Saturday.

McCoy has a salary of $6 million and a cap number of $8.875 million in 2017. Those numbers have sparked speculation that the next coaching staff may decide to move on from him. Cutting him would result in a cap charge of $7.875 million; that amount could be spread over two years with a post-June 1 release.

Two years ago, the Eagles decided to move on from McCoy, ostensibly because his east-west style didn’t mesh with Chip Kelly’s one-cut zone running scheme. New offensive coordinator Rick Dennison uses a system that employs one-cut zone running. (Last year, McCoy thrived once Anthony Lynn became the offensive coordinator, installing running plays that gave McCoy options to hit an inside hole or bounce outside.)

So while Sunday’s tweet isn’t a goodbye, there’s still a chance that farewell is coming. If it happens, plenty of other teams will be line up to give McCoy an enthusiastic hello.

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Report: Raiders expect Latavius Murray to sign elsewhere

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Latavius Murray #28 of the Oakland Raiders carries the ball during the second quarter of the AFC Wild Card game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on January 7, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders returned to the playoffs in 2016 with the help of 12 touchdowns from running back Latavius Murray, but they reportedly aren’t planning on having him be part of the effort for a repeat trip to the postseason.

Murray is set to become a free agent next month and Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that the team expects he will sign with another team. Per Anderson, the team’s main focus on the contract front is on reaching extensions with quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Khalil Mack as they head into their fourth seasons.

Murray picked up 1,066 yards on 266 carries in 2015 and ran 195 times for 788 yards and those 12 touchdowns last season.

Anderson reports the Raiders will leave the door open for a return after Murray sees what’s available to him on the open market. Rookie Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington had success out of the backfield in complementary roles last year and the Raiders could look to this year’s draft for a bigger back to take Murray’s place in the mix.

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NFLPA shrugs at possibility of enforcement of federal marijuana laws

BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 09:  A participant smokes a marijuana joint while marching in the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Supporters of cannabis legalization are hoping legalized sale in parts of the USA will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany. The city of Berlin is considering allowing the sale of cannabis in one city district.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the Trump administration strongly hinting that federal law banning marijuana use will be enforced in states where recreational use has been legalized, the NFL Players Association sees no issue regarding its current effort to loosen the league’s current marijuana prohibition.

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah described the situation as “a CBA issue, not a law-enforcement issue” in a comment to the Denver Post.

“We are talking about how players get treatment under our jointly agreed upon drug policies, not any advocacy for federal vs. state statutes,” Atallah said.

Technically, he’s right. But the proliferation of state laws allowing marijuana use for medical or recreational reasons has created the perception that the NFL is out of touch and drifting from the mainstream on the issue. If, for example, the federal government were to remove marijuana from the list of banned substances, the NFL instantly would be under immense pressure to ditch the outdated Big Shield banishment of conduct that almost always happens away from work, often during the various months when players are left to their own devices.

If the White House stops the current legalization trend and whacks the seven states where recreational use is now legal, the NFL will remain justified to fold its arms tightly and insist on significant concessions to change the current rules. Which will make it harder for the NFLPA to nudge the league to change.

As a practical matter, no change at all is needed for the vast majority of NFL players. The smart ones who smoke marijuana know that they should stop smoking roughly a month before the opening of the annual window for the once-per-year drug test (PED testing can occur at any time) and quit until that one test happens. After that, the players can smoke at will until the following March — as long as they don’t get arrested or have a bag of weed fall out of their jackets and land on the shoes of the Commissioner.

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Marvin Lewis: Contract extension not “critical or crucial”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Elam AP

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

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

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

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

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

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PFT Live heads to the Scouting Combine this week

PFTLive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jets decline Erin Henderson’s option

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 19:  Linebacker Erin Henderson #58 of the New York Jets walks off the field after being injured during the game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on August 19, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins defeated the Jets 22-18.  (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets made headlines by releasing center Nick Mangold on Saturday, but that wasn’t only decision they made regarding a veteran’s future with the franchise.

According to multiple reports, the Jets have decided not to pick up the option on linebacker Erin Henderson’s contract for the 2017 season. That will make Henderson an unrestricted free agent next month.

Henderson only played in five games last season before being placed on the non-football injury list for reasons that weren’t publicly disclosed. He played all 16 games for the team in 2015 and spent six years with the Vikings before missing the entire 2014 season following his release in the wake of a DUI arrest.

The move creates $2.57 in salary cap space for the Jets, who have been in cost-control mode of late with the departures of Henderson, Mangold, Breno Giacomini, Ryan Clady and Nick Folk.

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Sunday morning one-liners

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 1:  Vincent Rey #57 of the Cincinnati Bengals tackles Kyle Juszczyk #44 of the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

Will S Robert Blanton be back with the Bills?

A couple of guards that could interest the Dolphins in the draft.

Any NFL prospect with a lacrosse background is going to hear about Patriots WR Chris Hogan.

C Nick Mangold’s time with the Jets has come to an end.

Ravens FB Kyle Juszczyk is headed for free agency.

CB Dre Kirkpatrick may be leaving the Bengals next month.

Browns DT Danny Shelton would love to see more defensive linemen arrive in the draft.

Pass rushing remains an area the Steelers would like to improve.

A review of the Texans wide receivers.

One player can’t fix the Colts, but nailing their first-round pick would still help.

Will the Jaguars consider a running back in the first round?

Assessing the need for a new backup for Titans QB Marcus Mariota.

Setting the stage for the Broncos ahead of the combine.

Running through some mock draft predictions for the Chiefs.

Raiders G Kelechi Osemele is having an adventurous offseason.

Which needs will the Chargers address in the draft?

Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson celebrated the 25th anniversary of a Cowboys Super Bowl title together.

Alabama TE O.J. Howard pops up on a list of draft prospects for the Giants to ponder.

A look at what the Eagles may do at safety this offseason.

Linebackers for the Redskins to watch at the combine.

Bears RB Jordan Howard donated $10,000 to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation in honor of his late father.

The Lions have cap space to make moves in free agency.

The Packers got a fifth-round compensatory pick after losing CB Casey Hayward in free agency last year.

The oversight board for the Vikings stadium is at full strength after new additions.

Extensions will keep a couple of potential Falcons free agents off the market.

Darrel Young could be the Panthers’ fullback in 2017.

Will the Saints pay up for a pass rusher in free agency?

The Buccaneers need to find some new playmakers.

A special teams primer for the Cardinals.

The Rams may not have a first-round pick, but they still have plenty to do at the combine.

Free agency hasn’t opened, but the 49ers have already been busier than they were in last year’s session.

Offensive line isn’t the only area the Seahawks need to address this offseason.

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Bleacher Report caves in to Mark Cuban, a bad sign for sports media

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 17: Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the NFL banned Barstool Sports from covering Super Bowl week events, PFT made an issue of it because we think independent media should be able to cover the sport without constraints from the league. Now the NBA has provided an example of what can happen when a sports league gets too heavy-handed with the media, and the media lacks the will to push back.

Bleacher Report has deleted a tweet joking about Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks shooting an airball, not because there was anything wrong with the tweet, but because Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told them to, and they didn’t have the guts to stand up to Cuban’s bullying.

It started on Friday night, when Bleacher Report tweeted a short video clip of Nowitzki’s airball with the caption, “DIRK FOREVER.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We frequently laugh about players making mistakes. Bloopers are some of the most popular sports highlights.

Cuban, for some reason, took offense. And instead of shooting back at Bleacher Report with a tweet of his own and being done with it, Cuban decided to flex his muscles, perhaps knowing that Bleacher Report wouldn’t have the stomach for a fight with him. Cuban sent a profane email to Turner President David Levy (Turner is Bleacher Report’s parent company) and copied NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, ordering Bleacher Report to take the tweet down. Cuban made a vague threat that he would “communicate with the millenials [sic]” if Bleacher Report didn’t comply.

If Bleacher Report had any integrity, Levy would have told Cuban that independent media outlets don’t take orders from the people they cover, and that would have been the end of it. Amazingly, Bleacher Report followed Cuban’s orders, deleted the tweet and put up a fawning tweet about what a legend Nowitzki is.

That is a shocking capitulation and raises some ugly questions about Bleacher Report. We know about this time that Bleacher Report backed down to a powerful owner because this particular powerful owner chose to publicize it. What we don’t know is this: How many other times has Bleacher Report quietly backed down to owners or leagues? How many critical stories have Bleacher Report writers worked on, only to have the higher-ups put the kibosh on them when an owner or commissioner caught wind of it? If Bleacher Report is too spineless to stand up for itself on something as innocuous as a tweet about an airball, how quickly does Bleacher Report fold when there’s a complaint about something really serious?

And it relates to the NFL because, we’re happy to say, we’ve never encountered anything like this in the football world. We hear from NFL owners, teams, league executives, players and coaches who are unhappy with something we publish from time to time, but a demand from an owner to delete a tweet, coupled with a veiled threat, is something we haven’t experienced.

If we did, we’d stand up for ourselves. If we get something wrong we of course correct the record, but we don’t change what we publish simply because a thin-skinned owner doesn’t like it.

It’s important to have independent media outlets that aren’t afraid to step on a few toes, and won’t kowtow to the establishment. That’s why we thought the NFL stepped wrong when it banned Barstool Sports: Once a league starts picking and choosing which outlets can cover it, it begins to go down a dangerous path toward the league is dictating the coverage.

That’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. With the NBA and Bleacher Report, it’s a line that has already been crossed.

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Ravens’ Matt Elam arrested on drug charges

Antonio Brown, Matt Elam AP

Ravens safety Matt Elam has been arrested on drug charges in Miami.

According to Miami-Dade police records, Elam was booked at 3:45 a.m. today on charges of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis, possession of cannabis with the intent to sell or deliver, and possession of a controlled substance.

Police say they initially pulled Elam over for reckless driving and found 126 grams of marijuana and three grams of oxycodone in his vehicle.

The 25-year-old Elam was the Ravens’ first-round draft pick in 2013. The Ravens did not pick up Elam’s fifth-year option, so he becomes a free agent next month.

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