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Bidwill says Cardinals will interview Andy Reid

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Current defensive coordinator Ray Horton was established as a candidate for the Cardinals head coaching job already.

But team president Michael Bidwill just said during a press conference that he was also going to interview former Eagles coach Andy Reid and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy as well, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

One of these things is not like the others.

The Cardinals have never been known for their free-spending habits, and Reid represents a significant step up in price-range from Horton or McCoy.

Bidwill also said he was “not ready to give up on Kevin Kolb yet,” and that the Kolb issue would be one he brought up with potential candidates.

Reid has already fleeced the Cardinals on Kolb once, so perhaps this would be a chance to make it up to them. The Cardinals gave Reid’s Eagles a second-round pick and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for the right to give Kolb a $63 million contract.

Or it might be Reid’s realization that his market might not be as strong as he’d hoped, and that he might need to take the first chair offered.

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Ronald Leary prepared to move on from Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 13:  Ronald Leary #65 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ronald Leary wanted to leave the Cowboys before the start of the 2016 season as his run in the starting lineup came to an end with the arrival of La’El Collins in 2015, but the Cowboys held onto him as insurance against an injury.

That proved wise as Collins suffered a toe injury early in the season and Leary stepped in at left guard for an offensive line that didn’t miss a beat with the change in personnel. Leary is set to be a free agent this offseason, and the combination of Collins’ return and the heavy investment the Cowboys have already made on the offensive line leave him pretty sure about how things will play out.

“I thought about it a lot after the game,” Leary said, via ESPN.com. “I kind of stayed on the field a little bit because I’ve been here the last five years of my life. That’s just as long as you’re in college, so I’ve grown close to a lot of players here, a lot of staff. It’s tough to think about, because you don’t know the future when you hit the market like that. It’s tough, but it’s part of the game.”

The Jets signed guard Brian Winters to a four-year deal with $15 million in guaranteed money earlier this week and Leary has started six more games over the last four years. That may be a sign of what Leary can expect on the market and an offer in that neighborhood will likely result in him moving on from Dallas.

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How much credit should Paul Tagliabue get for the Rooney Rule?

3100746-commissioner-paul-tagliabue-at-the-press-gettyimages Getty Images

As the annual Hall of Fame vote approaches, it’s time for plenty of the media members who will (or, in my case, won’t) be casting ballots to begin to push their agendas, either directly or more subtly.

A new item from Alex Marvez of SportingNews.com does little to hide the point of view in its self-explanatory headline: “Paul Tagliabue’s Hall of Fame case much stronger with Rooney Rule getting results.”

The article, the product of a radio interview Marvez and Bill Polian conducted with Tagliabue, contends that the “positive results” from the rule that requires at least one minority candidate to be interviewed for every head-coaching vacancy “will be a cornerstone of Tagliabue’s case for the Hall of Fame.” But are the results really all that positive?

Consider this observation, from December 2016: “I don’t think the Rooney Rule has done as much as anyone hoped it would.”

Who said that? Paul Tagliabue, of course.

All that’s changed since then is the addition of two minority head coaches out of five who have been hired in the current cycle. (Six, assuming the 49ers hire Kyle Shanahan.)

While Tagliabue deserves credit for putting the rule in place, it happened not as an act of altruism but in response to a clear warning from Cyrus Mehri and the late Johnnie Cochran regarding the very real potential for litigation if things didn’t improve. Tagliabue, a lawyer before becoming Commissioner, opted not to hunker down and gird for a fight but to offer a half-measure that would force teams to tap the brakes before ultimately hiring whoever they wanted to hire.

That process has indeed helped minority candidates enter the pipeline of candidates who get attention when owners are figuring out who they want to hire before deciding to fire the guy they currently have (e.g., the current posture of the Colts). Coaches like Mike Tomlin and Vance Joseph may have never gotten serious consideration to become head coaches without the rule mandating their interviews.

Still, it’s not clear how much of that becomes a feather in Tagliabue’s Hall of Fame cap, given that only little more than a month ago Tagliabue expressed concern that the rule hasn’t worked as hoped.

Then there’s the fact that, for the first 13 years of Tagliabue’s tenure, the NFL didn’t have a Rooney Rule and did have a grossly disproportionate underrepresentation of minority coaches. Also, when considered against other issues like the formation on Tagliabue’s watch of the controversial Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, which worked actively (and shamefully) to deny and downplay the risks of head trauma, a 2017 uptick in minority coaching hires may not be enough to get Tagliabue the votes he needs.

Ultimately, he needs 80 percent of the voters to say yes. Having 33 percent of this year’s coaching class filled by minority hires is only one piece of a much larger puzzle that may or may not result in Tagliabue receiving the highest honor the sport can bestow. There’s a good chance that, regardless of any other considerations, at least one out of every five voters will find Tagliabue’s role in the concussion crisis to be a disqualifying factor.

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Deshaun Watson won’t go to Senior Bowl

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers reacts after a touchdown by running back Wayne Gallman #9 (not pictured) during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in 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

The Browns coaching staff will be in Mobile, Alabama to work with the South team, something that will give them extended time with prospects headed into the draft this year.

They won’t get to spend any of that extended time with Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, however. Watson was invited to participate in the event despite leaving school with eligibility remaining because he graduated in December, but his agent and Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage both confirmed on Wednesday that Watson will not take part in the event.

Watson led Clemson to the national title this year and is generally viewed as one of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft along with Mitch Trubisky and DeShone Kizer, neither of whom will be at the Senior Bowl as they are early entrants who have yet to graduate.

Where that places him in the overall draft order isn’t as clear at the moment, which will make Watson’s meetings and/or workouts with individual teams significant as the draft draws closer.

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49ers to have G.M. candidates meet with Kyle Shanahan

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The 49ers coaching search appears to have ended with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as the team’s choice to be their next head coach.

No hiring can be finalized until the Falcons are done playing, something that will happen on Sunday at the earliest. If the Falcons win, the 49ers can still have a second interview with Shanahan next week and it looks like they’ll use that opportunity to have Shanahan speak to some of their General Manager candidates as well to see how everyone gets along.

Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports that Packers director of operations Eliot Wolf will meet with Shanahan and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst and Vikings assistant General Manager George Paton will also be in for another round of interviews.

The 49ers have interviewed several other candidates for General Manager. Seahawks exec Trent Kirchner pulled his name from consideration and it’s not known if any of the others will be included in this round of talks.

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Ben Roethlisberger to Julian Edelman: Our Lombardi Trophies show how we’re run

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks offsides the field after winning the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman derided the Steelers after Antonio Brown turned Pittsburgh’s postgame locker room into a Facebook Live session, saying, “That’s how that team is run.” Ben Roethlisberger disagreed.

Asked today about Edelman’s comments, Roethlisberger said the Steelers’ six Vince Lombardi Trophies show how their franchise is run.

“I don’t think I need to speak much,” Roethlisberger answered when asked what he’d say to Edelman. “We’ve got our trophies out there. I’ve got owners that I think are the best in the business. They’re family to us, and I’m sure if he talked to his owner, he would say the same thing about the Rooneys. Anybody in here in the football world or the regular world that owns the Rooneys knows what they stand for. It’s a blessing to call them a family.”

Although Brown’s postgame antics were foolish, Roethlisberger is right that in general the Steelers are considered one of the league’s better-run organizations. Which made it all the more surprising that a normally buttoned-up team had such a foolish mistake in the locker room.

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Jon Robinson: Draft currency is a powerful thing

Recently hired Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson, right, and head coach Mike Mularkey, left, answer questions at a news conference, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. Mularkey was previously the team's interim head coach and Robinson was the director of player personnel for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) AP

When Jon Robinson was hired as the Titans’ General Manager last year, he had the first overall pick in the draft in his pocket but opted to trade it to the Rams for a bounty of picks in both 2016 and 2017.

Robinson made another trade to move back up in the first round to take Jack Conklin, a move that brought them this season’s choice for the All-Pro first-team at right tackle. He has two first round picks at his disposal this year — No. 5 from the Rams and their own No. 18 — to use for further enhancements to the team.

Robinson obviously isn’t locking himself into staying put and using both picks at this point in the calendar, saying they’ll “evaluate all options” and noting that he’d like to add a second-round pick to the team’s arsenal. Whatever they wind up doing, Robinson knows that the more options you have in the draft the better.

“Draft currency is a powerful thing in this league because it gives you a chance to acquire young talent,'” Robinson said, via the team’s website. “They are less expensive players than guys who have played in the league six, seven or eight, nine or 10 years. So to be able to get two of those guys, or one of those guys if we trade, or three of those guys if we trade. … Whatever it is, draft picks are valuable currency as it relates to team building.”

Robinson notes that the most important thing is to get the picks right whenever you do use them. Conklin, running back Derrick Henry, safety Kevin Byard, cornerback LeShaun Sims and wide receiver Tajae Sharpe all paid dividends as rookies in 2016 and a similar haul should help position the Titans to improve on this year’s 9-7 mark.

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Happy #DeflateGate Day

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Two years ago today, the Colts and Patriots squared off for the AFC’s berth in Super Bowl XLIX. The game would come to be known for much more than that.

The purpose of this post isn’t to relitigate a case that I’ve already declared to be a sham, born of a failure to understand how air pressure works in the cold and a desire to assume the worst about the Patriots and to nail them again. The purpose is to commemorate the fact that it’s been two years exactly since the scandal emerged — and that the Patriots are only two wins away from securing the ultimate revenge.

Yes, Commissioner Roger Goodell once again will avoid Gillette Stadium this weekend. He can’t, however, avoid the Patriots. If they win on Sunday and then win in Houston two Sundays later, Goodell will be handing the Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots.

And while the tradition is for the Commissioner to hand the trophy to the owner of the team, wouldn’t it be something if owner Robert Kraft (who still gets some flak locally for not fighting the league tooth and nail at every turn) declares in the moment that he’s going to defer the honor to Tom Brady? Goodell’s face would instantly turn 50 shades of ginger, and Patriots fans would have an image that would be forever emblazoned on T-shirts, hats, posters, mugs, and body parts.

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Report: Texans making Mike Vrabel DC and keeping Romeo Crennel

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 03:  Assistant coach, Mike Vrabel of the Houston Texans during a preseason game on September 3, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel seems to be a rising star in the coaching ranks, but the Texans already a strong defensive coordinator.

They seem to have found a way to keep both sides happy.

According to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com, the Texans are promoting the 41-year-old Vrabel to defensive coordinator, while keeping 69-year-old coordinator Romeo Crennel on staff.

That likely means kicking Crennel upstairs to an assistant head-coach position, which might help head coach Bill O’Brien spend more time on the offense after firing coordinator George Godsey.

Vrabel turned down a chance to be defensive coordinator for the 49ers last offseason, and interviewed for the Rams head coaching job this year. With a rising profile, the Texans probably had to offer him something nice to keep him around.

But Crennel has done such good work for so long that keeping him around is also wise, as the defense is the one thing the Texans can count on over the last three seasons. His contract expired this year, and O’Brien made it clear he wanted Crennel back.

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Vance Joseph: I knew I’d take Denver job over other opportunities

ENGLEWOOD, CO - JANUARY 12:  Vance Josepf addresses the media after being introduced as the Denver Broncos new head coach during  a press conference at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre on January 12, 2017 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) Getty Images

New Broncos head coach Vance Joseph was a candidate for four of the six head-coaching vacancies in the NFL this offseason, but the job he got was always his top choice.

Joseph said this morning on PFT Live that after interviewing with the Broncos, he had planned to interview with the Chargers, Rams and 49ers for their head-coaching vacancies. But John Elway offered Joseph the Broncos job, and with that, Joseph ended his search.

“I was close,” Joseph said of potentially leaving Denver to go to another job interview. “I wasn’t offered the job here in Denver so Wednesday morning when I got dressed to go to the airport, John stopped me, brought me back in the office and offered me the job. I was heading to the airport, heading to San Diego and then after that heading to L.A. and San Fran. So I had some things rolling, but I knew that if John offered me the job I would take it, because in my opinion it was the job that was most ready to win now.”

Once Joseph got the job, he immediately went to work on hiring Mike McCoy as his offensive coordinator.

“The first thing I did was call Mike McCoy, that was the first thing I did,” Joseph said. “I called Mike McCoy because I knew that as a first-time head coach and defensive guy, my offensive coordinator was going to be a big hire. And I wanted Mike. I didn’t want to lose Mike.”

So Joseph got the job he wanted, got the top assistant he wanted, and now gets to work in a place where he thinks he can win and win big right away.

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Panthers kick the tires on quarterback Aaron Murray

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 01:  Quarterback Aaron Murray #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs is sacked by Kyler Fackrell #51 of the Green Bay Packers during the preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium on September 1, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Quarterback Aaron Murray was on three teams during an 11-day stretch of September, and is continuing his efforts to turn up with as many teams as possible.

Via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, the former fifth-round pick from Georgia is working out for the Panthers today.

They don’t particularly need anything other than a fourth arm for the offseason, as Cam Newton, Derek Anderson and Joe Webb are all under contract. But quarterbacks are a scarce commodity thus tend to get plenty of chances to prove whether they can or cannot play.

Murray spent most of last year on the Eagles’ practice squad, but was the only one of their practice squaders who didn’t sign a future contract with them.

He started last season with the Chiefs, was offered in trade and no one bit. So he signed with the Cardinals practice squad and lasted eight days there before he was released, when the Eagles offered a soft place to land.

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Julian Edelman on Antonio Brown incident: “That’s how that team is run”

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots reacts in the second half against the Houston Texans during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

In the aftermath of Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live misadventures, most of the attention has centered on why Brown would do it and what the Steelers plan to do about something that conflicts so sharply with the behaviors from other teams, including the typically buttoned-up New England Patriots.

While addressing the situation earlier this week, one Patriots player was perhaps not as buttoned up as his own coach would want him to be.

“Hey, people have different rules,” receiver Julian Edelman said on WEEI in Boston. “That’s how that team is run. I personally don’t think that would be something that would happen in our locker room. But, hey, whatever. Some people like red and some people like blue. Some people like tulips and some people like roses, whatever.”

The full context of Edelman’s quote takes some of the sting out of the “that’s how that team is run” line. But the overriding message is clear: Players on some teams would do something like this, and players on other teams would not.

Patriots players wouldn’t. Because Patriots players know, either instinctively or through hearing it repeatedly from coaches and teammates, that the consequences would be swift and severe. Bolstering that message are examples that arise when, for example, a guy shows up late for work in a blizzard. And promptly is sent home.

In plenty of other cities, things are much looser. And through that looseness comes the opportunity for a guy to decide, due to exuberance or otherwise, to do something really, really stupid. The challenge for every coach is to be smart enough to spot the guys who would do something really, really stupid and come up with a way to keep that from happening.

In New England’s case, the fact that Edelman actually said something neither boring nor robotic about the Pittsburgh situation probably is enough to get him in trouble with Bill Belichick. Which proves the broader point that none of the Patriots players would do what Antonio Brown did.

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Agent: Martavis Bryant “clean” and “on a mission”

Wild Card Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The agent for suspended Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant disputed a report yesterday that his client had applied for reinstatement (though that’s a technicality since he’s about to).

More importantly, he said Bryant has himself on a better track after a year off following multiple failed drug tests.

Via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, agent Thomas Santanello said they were still in the process of submitting the paperwork to the league, but that’s largely a moot point since any comeback wouldn’t be until the 2017 season anyway, and they hope by March so he can participate in the offseason program.

“He’s doing great, phenomenal,” Santanello said. “I talk to him every single day and he’s great. He’s on a mission to come back too.

“He’s clean. He’s working out four days a week, watches film. He’s in the best shape he’s ever been in. He’s added 10 pounds of solid muscle. He’s a new person.”

That’s good news, because the old person was a bit of a headache for the Steelers, whose frustration with him was clear.

But his talent is likely enough to convince them to give him another chance, after he averaged 21.1 yards per catch as a rookie and caught 50 passes for 765 yards and six touchdowns last year despite a four-game suspension.

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Julius Peppers: You have to realize the opportunity

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Julius Peppers #56 of the Green Bay Packers warms up on the field prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Packers linebacker Julius Peppers is no stranger to NFC Championship Games.

He played in two of them with the Panthers, one with the Bears and is on his way to his second with the Packers in his three years with the team. Peppers has only been on the winning side of those games once and his Panthers team went on to lose to the Patriots in the Super Bowl in Peppers’ second season.

Peppers is in his 15th season and the time between that Super Bowl trip and now has made it clear to him that you have to grab the chances when they come.

“I was a young player,” Peppers said, via the Chicago Tribune. “You go to the Super Bowl in your second year and you’re like, ‘OK, cool. I’ll be back next year or the year after that.’ We went to the championship game the year after that. But you have to live in these moments. You’ve got to realize the opportunity, and you have to take advantage of it because it doesn’t come very often. I’m a standing testament to that.”

Peppers said before the game against the Cowboys that he didn’t want his teammates to think about winning the title for him, but such rallying cries are always in the air when teams make it this far into the postseason. A win in Atlanta will likely make the Peppers one a bit louder in Houston.

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Bill Vinovich, Terry McAulay to referee conference title games

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 13:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys talks with referee, Bill Vinovich #52 during play against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bill Vinovich was the referee for last year’s NFC Championship Game between the Panthers and the Cardinals, neither of whom will be in the game this year after failing to make it back to the playoffs.

Vinovich will be back, however. FootballZebras.com reports that Vinovich will be the official in charge in Atlanta when the Packers and Falcons square off for the NFC crown and that Terry McAulay will handle the proceedings for the Steelers and Patriots in New England.

Vinovich also worked Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, which makes this three years in a row that he has ranked as one of the top referees in the league. Both Vinovich and McAulay will be working with different crews than they worked with in the regular season as the league puts together “all-star” crews for the postseason.

The Super Bowl referee will be one of the four officials that worked in the divisional round. Carl Cheffers, Gene Steratore, Pete Morelli and Tony Corrente handled those duties.

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Ricky Proehl urges Steve Smith to come home to be honored

ST. LOUIS - JANUARY 10:  Receiver Ricky Proehl #81 of the Carolina Panthers congratulates receiver Steve Smith #89 after Smith scored the winning touchdown in overtime against the St. Louis Rams in the NFC Divisional Playoffs on January 10, 2004 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. The Panthers defeated the Rams 29-23 to advance to the NFC Championship Game.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steve Smith was proud to be a Raven, and to attach himself to Baltimore for his final three seasons in the NFL.

But one of his closest friends is lobbying him to return to Charlotte, and hopes time heals the wounds that came during his messy 2014 release.

Retiring Panthers receivers coach and former teammate Ricky Proehl said he’s talked to Smith, and hopes Smith will allow himself to be honored at Bank of America Stadium someday.

“For me personally I hope it happens because I think he’s the greatest Panther to put on the uniform,” Proehl said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “He owes it to the fans and he owes it to himself,” Proehl said Tuesday. “There’s a love affair between him and the fans of the Panthers. They deserve it. That’s my opinion.”

Whether Smith shares it remains to be seen. Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman has wisely recused himself from the conversation, since his (bad) relationship with Smith is one of the few perceived hang-ups to honoring a man who broke all their records in his 13 seasons there.

But Smith’s ability to create and carry a grudge are legendary, so there’s no guarantee when or if he’d have a ceremonial retirement in the city in which he’s established his offseason home.

“I have talked to Steve. I think eventually it’ll happen,” Proehl said. “I think he wants it. I think he should do it, to be honest with you.”

Proehl stepped aside from his coaching job yesterday to spend more time watching his own sons play, and the bonds of family between the Panthers and Smith may win out — someday, when Smith himself decides it’s time.

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