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Dustin Keller doesn’t want the franchise tag

New York Jets v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

The circus may not be leaving town, but the some of the guys who work for it may want out.

Tight end Dustin Keller, a first-round pick whose rookie contract expires in March, doesn’t want to be held in place by the franchise tag.

I don’t want to be franchised,” Keller told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.  “You want to make sure that you’re going somewhere and you’re signing something that was your decision.  You don’t want to be told that you’re doing something for whatever price.  You want to make that decision for yourself.  You don’t want somebody else making it for you.  I would love to come back here, but when I came here, I signed a five-year deal and this is the fifth year on it.

“You want to be able to make that decision for yourself,” Keller said.  “That’d be illegal in another job.”

Maybe it would be, but the NFLPA agreed to allow one player per year to have his ability to leave restricted by the franchise tag.  And if it happens, Keller will be fairly compensated, making $5.962 million guaranteed in 2013.

“My thinking always was that if they want me to, I will play out this deal and sign a new contract [after the season],” Keller said. “That’s my word.  The whole franchise tag deal is crazy.  Somebody played out their contract, but now you can make them come back for another year even if it’s not something they want to do?  That’s not the situation that I’m in right now, but I just think it’s crazy.”

Keller arguably should be thrilled with $5.962 million in 2013.  Injuries coupled with overall offensive anemia likely have made it hard for him to command that kind of cash on the open market.

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Eagles fill staff, hire Mike Groh to coach receivers

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 14: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears talks with wide receivers coach Mike Groh during warmups prior to a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Soldier Field on August 14, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles filled their coaching staff Monday, adding Mike Groh as their new receivers coach.

Groh was the passing game coordinator for the Rams last year, though that seems like a title you’d scrub from your resume as quickly as possible.

“We are excited to add Mike Groh to our coaching staff,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said in a statement. “Mike brings with him a vast array of experience coaching wide receivers in the NFL and college. Over his career, he has demonstrated a great ability as a teacher and as a motivator and we look forward to him getting started in Philadelphia.”

Groh replaces the fired Greg Lewis.

Groh previously coached receivers for the Bears, and free agent to be Alshon Jeffery might be someone the Eagles could be interested in, as they need to upgrade the talent around quarterback Carson Wentz.

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Jets offensive coordinator search includes 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

While teams are in Mobile this week to watch players at Senior Bowl practice, it’s also a de facto job fair for coaches. And for teams with vacancies, it’s time to get moving.

According to Rich Cimini of, the Jets have a few possibilities for their vacant offensive coordinator job.

They apparently have some interest in former Texans offensive coordinator George Godsey, and he could interview today.

The Texans and Godsey “mutually parted” after the season, allowing head coach Bill O’Brien to formally take over play-calling duties. Godsey came to Houston with O’Brien after working in New England with him.

Another option appears to be Saints wide receivers coach John Morton, who has also worked with the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh.

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Falcons’ Grady Jarrett: Packers get away with holding, struggle when game is fair

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 22:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers attempts a pass as he is tackled by Grady Jarrett #97 of the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on January 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett says the officials did their jobs on Sunday, and that was a problem for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Jarrett said the Packers usually get help from the officials, but on Sunday the game was called fairly, and that was to the Falcons’ advantage.

“They’re a team that gets away with a lot of stuff as far as holding calls and everything. So, when the thing isn’t going his way, when the game’s played fairly, it tends to be a problem,” Jarrett said, via USA Today.

The Packers averaged six penalties for 52 yards a game in the regular season and were called for six penalties for 63 yards against the Falcons, so it’s not like the officials were unusually hard on Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. But the Falcons liked how the officials did their job. The winning team usually does.

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Should Deshaun Watson try to avoid the Browns?

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 hugs head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Thirteen years ago, quarterback Eli Manning successfully avoided playing in San Diego, thanks to a campaign launched and sustained by his father, Archie. Three months from now, could quarterback Deshaun Watson do the same when it comes to Cleveland?

Maybe, at a time when the Media Draft Machine is shaming Watson for choosing to rest on his performance against Alabama over spending a week in Alabama potentially making this worse instead of better, Watson simply doesn’t want to play for the Browns. If that’s how he feels, who could blame him?

It’s not a knock on the Browns. It’s a knock on a system that prevents players from deciding where they will live, who they will work with, and which organization they will provide services to. Incoming college football players get to pick their schools. Incoming pro football players should get to pick their teams.

They don’t, but some have a lot more leverage than others. If a quarterback isn’t all in, an NFL team shouldn’t want him. Maybe Watson hopes that the Browns will get the message — without him having to deliberately send it.

Peter King of addressed the issue on Monday based on the assumption that Watson wants (and should want) to play for the Browns. With the difference in the money not nearly as significant as it used to be at the various spots at the top of the draft, maybe he’d prefer to play for Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers or some other team in the top 10 that needs a quarterback.

Rarely does an incoming quarterback make his desire to avoid a given team obviously known. Five years ago, Robert Griffin III had no desire to be drafted by the Colts. While the Colts may never have changed their minds about Andrew Luck, the lack of any effort by Griffin to get the Colts to think twice made it a no-brainer.

Maybe Watson would rather not play for the Browns. And maybe the best play for both sides is to be subtle and discreet about it. The last thing the Browns need is Watson launching an Eli-style anti-Browns campaign, and the last thing Watson needs is the Browns and others publicly or privately wagging a finger at him and possibly causing him to go a lot lower than No. 2.

That’s a long way to get to the point of this post. Do you think Watson should try to avoid the Browns? Cast a vote below in Tuesday’s PFT Live question of the day.

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Doug Baldwin named to Pro Bowl in place of Larry Fitzgerald

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 07:  Wide receiver Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks runs with the ball against the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wild Card game at CenturyLink Field on January 7, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin has been named to the NFC Pro Bowl roster as an injury replacement for Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald is not taking part due to an injury.

Baldwin is the first Seattle wide receiver to play in the Pro Bowl since Brian Blades in 1989. He tied Bobby Engram’s franchise record with 94 receptions and set a career-high with 1,128 yards this season. He’s just the fifth receiver in Seahawks’ history to record consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

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Demaryius Thomas replaces Antonio Brown in Pro Bowl

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 1:  Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos is tackled by cornerback Sean Smith #21 and outside linebacker Malcolm Smith #53 of the Oakland Raiders after catching a pass in the third quarter of the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown won’t be doing any Facebook Live broadcasts from the locker room or practice sessions or elsewhere at the Pro Bowl.

Brown is out and Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas is in. For Thomas, it’s his fifth straight Pro Bowl appearance. He joins tight end Shannon Sharpe and safety Steve Atwater as the only players in team history to make it to the Pro Bowl at least five times in a row. (Sharpe and Atwater made it seven times each.)

The Broncos now have six Pro Bowlers. The game will be played Sunday in Orlando.

And, yes, people will watch it. Because it’s on TV.

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Wade Phillips’ departure from Denver was amicable

HOUSTON, TX- NOVEMBER 03: Wade Phillips of the Houston Texans coaches against the Indianapolis Colts on November 03, 2013 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Colts won 27 to 24. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

A draft analyst looking to pass along some of the scuttlebutt from the Senior Bowl got more than he bargained for on Monday, when Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips decided to fire back on Twitter at a report suggesting that Phillips was responsible for the rift between the Denver offense and defense in 2016.

“Your sources about me and dividing the team are an out and out lie,” Phillips said in response to the report. “I resent [you] saying that — ask any off coach or player.”

The forceful nature of Phillips’ reaction invited further digging. A source with knowledge of the situation said that there’s no truth to the notion that Phillips caused division within the team. He was, and still is, loved by the players.

While the source also said the split between the two sides was amicable, with Phillips wanting to move to L.A., where his daughter lives, there were other factors at play. Defensive backs coach Joe Woods was starting to become a hot name for potential defensive coordinator jobs; the Broncos didn’t want to lose him to another team. (Because Woods was still under contract, the Broncos could have blocked him. They believed the better course was to ensure he got his promotion without leaving.)

Also, money was an issue. Not this year, but a year ago. Phillips, per multiple sources, wanted to be the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the NFL after the Broncos won Super Bowl 50. The Broncos resisted, and Phillips entered his contract year with the intent of becoming a coaching free agent.

He did, and now he’s a member of the Rams. The Broncos in turn kept Woods, and both sides are pleased with the outcome.

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Bengals, Adam Jones’ lawyers release statements on arrest video

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals walks on the field before the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Getty Images

Attorneys for Bengals cornerback Adam Jones released a statement Monday night after video was released of Jones threatening and using profane language toward police officers who arrested him earlier this month.

Video showed Jones telling an officer he hoped he died and that he would lose his job as Jones was arrested on charges of obstructing official business, disorderly conduct, and assault three weeks ago.

The statement from Fessler, Scheinder and Grimme, LLP, said Jones is “deeply embarrassed and remorseful” and has the utmost respect for police officers. Jones also apologized to the team and its fans.

The Bengals also put out a statement in which the team said it’s extremely disappointed and offered an apology of its own. The team had previously not made any comment on the matter.

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Irsay will personally make G.M. hire

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 07:  Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay attends a press conference announcing Manning's release from the Colts at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on March 7, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 49ers have received some flak for conducting a coach and G.M. search without the involvement of senior football executives and/or high-level football consultants. The Colts may be getting more of the same.

Per a league source, owner Jim Irsay will be making the G.M. hire on his own.

As a result, the current thinking is that Irsay will lean toward promoting Jimmy Raye III in lieu of finding someone from outside the building, for several reasons. First, Irsay already knows Raye and is comfortable with him. Second, Raye likely would be more inclined to try to make it work with coach Chuck Pagano than an outsider would be.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, it will be easier for Irsay to put Raye and Pagano on equal footing from an accountability standpoint. If they fail, Irsay presses the reset button and starts over. If, in contrast, Irsay made a big splash by hiring someone from the outside, then that G.M. would surely survive the firing of Pagano — making it harder right from the get go to get the two men on the same page.

So why is Irsay engaging in a seemingly traditional search if Raye is the guy? Think back to the 49ers in 2011, who interviewed multiple outsiders before giving the job to Trent Baalke. The process of screening external candidates legitimizes the internal candidate who gets the job, creating the impression that we won some sort of a contest.

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Raiders hire ex-Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 14:  San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano gives instructions while playing the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium on December 14, 2014 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders have announced the hiring of John Pagano as assistant head coach-defense.

Pagano has 21 years of NFL coaching experience and spent the last 15 seasons with the Chargers. He was defensive coordinator the last five seasons, and in two of those seasons the Chargers ranked in the top 10 in total defense.

Raiders Coach Jack Del Rio retained defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., but the addition of Pagano is still considered a significant move for a defense that ranked in the bottom third of the league in total yards, rush defense and pass defense.

Pagano is the brother of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. John Pagano previously worked with Del Rio in New Orleans in 1997.

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Is NFL regretting the Chargers’ move to L.A.?

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01:  A San Diego Chargers fan reacts to a Kansas City Chiefs interception during the first half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 1, 2017 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The early days of the Chargers’ return to L.A. haven’t gone well. There’s now a question as to whether they’ve gone so poorly as to spark a full-fledged case of mover’s regret.

Adam Schefter of recently wrote that the move “angered NFL owners and executives just as much” as it angered folks in San Diego, if not more.

Per the report, the NFL has been “beside itself” regarding the move.

“There are a ton of owners very upset that [the Chargers] moved,” an unnamed source told Schefter, adding that the NFL actually wants the Chargers to move back to San Diego.

While there may be some who believe that the Chargers shouldn’t have moved and who may be pushing that agenda now, the prevailing view in league circles is that it’s a done deal. Indeed, it was a done deal a year ago, when the owners specifically gave the Chargers a 12-month window to move to L.A.

There was no equivocation or hesitation. The die was cast in January 2016, there was never a peep about it being a mistake for the ensuing 12 months, and then the Chargers opted to utilize the right to relocate.

As one source who is very well connected regarding franchise dynamics told PFT in response to the report, “I have heard nothing about it.”

There simply aren’t “a ton of owners” upset about the move. The more likely reality here is that some in the league office are sensing that the Chargers’ move to L.A. is going to be a debacle, and that they want to be able to say “I told you so” if/when the Chargers fail in L.A.

Regardless, the owners had a clear opportunity a year ago to tell Chargers owner Dean Spanos “no” to a move. The owners overwhelmingly allowed the Rams to move right away, and to give the Chargers the ability to do the same more than a year ago.

In the ensuing 12 months, there was never a public or private sense of remorse or regret. Yes, there was a periodic impression that owner Roger Goodell wanted to keep the team in San Diego, but there was never any report with the kind of specificity that has now emerged, far too late for it to matter.

Even if the Chargers would turn tail and return to San Diego, what would they do about a stadium? That’s the problem; the money isn’t available to build a stadium — unless Rams owner Stan Kroenke would be willing to write a very, very large check for exclusive rights to the L.A. market.

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Bills linebacker Zach Brown headed to Pro Bowl

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 4:  Linebacker Zach Brown #53 of the Buffalo Bills keeps tight end Mychal Rivera #81 of the Oakland Raiders out of the endzone on a 9-yard catch in the third quarter on December 4, 2016 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Raiders won 38-24.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills linebacker Zach Brown has been named to the Pro Bowl. He replaces Dont’a Hightower of the Patriots, who is instead playing in the Super Bowl.

Brown led the Bills and set a career high with 149 tackles in 2016. He also had four sacks, two forced fumbles, eight quarterback hits, one interception and 11 tackles for a loss.

He is making his first trip to the Pro Bowl. The Bills now have six players headed to the Jan. 29 Pro Bowl, the most the Bills have had in a single season since 1998.

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Melvin Gordon added to Pro Bowl

San Diego Chargers' Melvin Gordon (28) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts' Clayton Geathers (26) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) AP

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has been added to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.

Gordon missed the final three games of the 2016 season due to hip and knee injuries. His addition to the Pro Bowl indicates he’s been fully cleared and was held out in late December because the Chargers had been eliminated from playoff contention.

Gordon ran for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns in his second season after being kept out of the end zone as a rookie. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry and also had two receiving touchdowns.

Cornerback Casey Hayward is the only other Chargers player headed to the Pro Bowl, which will be played Sunday Jan. 29.

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Browns finalize four-year deal for Jamie Collins

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10: Wide receiver Steve Smith #89 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by outside linebacker Jamie Collins #51 of the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns announced on Monday that they have signed linebacker Jamie Collins to a new four-year contract.

A CBS Sports report last week said the sides were close on a four-year deal. NFL Network reported Monday that the deal is worth $50 million, $26 million guaranteed.

The Browns acquired Collins in a trade before the trade deadline last season. The Patriots traded him figuring they wouldn’t be able to meet his salary demands, and Collins started all eight games he played with the Browns. He had two sacks and a forced fumble in those eight games.

The Browns knew they were going to have pay a steep price to retain Collins, and they hope this new deal that makes him one of the highest-paid linebackers in football will be an important step in their rebuilding process.

“We are going to be aggressive about acquiring talent, and when we had the opportunity to trade for Jamie back in October, it was done with the intent of him becoming a long-term part of our defense,” Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said in a team statement. “Jamie has shown throughout his NFL career that he is a very talented player with a rare skill set that allows him to impact games in a number of ways.”

Had Collins hit the open market in March, he likely would have been one of the most coveted free agents at any position. A second-round pick in 2013, Collins had been a starter since his second year with the Patriots before the trade. He has 12.5 sacks and five interceptions over his four-year career.

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Drew Brees’ Pro Bowl snub is rectified

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints runs out on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on January 1, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Saints quarterback Drew Brees should have made it to the Pro Bowl as part of the original roster. He didn’t. He now has.

The team has announced that Brees will replace Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in the Pro Bowl. Ryan has a date with a slightly bigger game in Houston one week later.

It will be the 10th trip to the Pro Bowl for Brees and his ninth with the Saints. He generated more than 5,200 passing yards in 2017, the fifth time in his career he has broken that barrier. (There have been only four other 5,000-yard seasons in league history.) Brees also set an NFL record with 471 completions.

Brees has been performing at a high level for so long that his talents often get taken for granted. In a league that doesn’t have nearly enough great quarterbacks, the quarterback who recently turned 38 definitely will be missed when he’s gone.

The other NFC Pro Bowl quarterbacks are Kirk Cousins (who has replaced Aaron Rodgers) and Dak Prescott.

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