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Geno Smith selects Select Sports Group

Geno AP

Even in a draft class that is currently believed to lack high-end quarterbacks, the best quarterbacks in the class will attract plenty of attention and competition.

West Virginia’s Geno Smith has made his choice, hiring Erik Burkhardt and Jeff Nalley of Select Sports Group to handle his rookie deal, according to source with knowledge of the situation.

Smith emerged in September as the early favorite for the Heisman Trophy, with off-the-charts performances as the Mountaineers moved to 5-0.  But a five-game losing streak caused him to slide off the map, and the guy who once was presumed to be the top pick in the draft could now slide on draft day.

On Wednesday, word emerged that USC quarterback Matt Barkley has signed with CAA.  And those two firms will spend the next four months trying to position their respective clients to be taken higher in the draft than the other one.

Of course, getting the guy drafted as high as possible isn’t as important as it used to be, given the rookie wage scale.  Factors like marketing opportunities in a given city, the coaching staff, and the supporting cast become more important.

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Hue Jackson plans to open Pandora’s box this season

Wild Card Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Indianapolis Colts AP

Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said last month that he’s tired of the team being the brunt of jokes for their failure to win games in the playoffs and he took some time on Tuesday to explain how he plans to put a halt to the laughter.

Jackson said he felt he did his best coaching job last season as the Bengals finished 15th in total offense while dealing with injuries to wide receiver A.J. Green, tight end Tyler Eifert and others. He feels that being at full health offers the team a chance to be “very dynamic” on offense this season and that he’ll be doing more to take advantage of that.

“We’re going to open Pandora’s box more,” Jackson said, via the team’s website. “We tickled it a little bit last year. We’re going to open it up a little bit more this year and be who I think we can be…But I tell you what, the defenses are so good, the defensive players are so good and they disguise all the time, why can’t we? It’s a chess match, and whoever is not afraid to pull the trigger, pull the trigger. And I’m not afraid, so let’s go.”

Those familiar with Greek mythology will likely point out that opening Pandora’s box unleashed evil onto the world, which probably wouldn’t turn out all that well for the Bengals or anyone else.

It’s safe to assume that Jackson didn’t mean that was his plan since it probably constitutes a personal conduct policy violation in the current NFL to unleash demons on an unwitting public. He’s talking about a more versatile and creative approach on offense as he tries to prove that “some of those hardened times can turn into some good times.”

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Jake Long visiting Giants again on Wednesday

St. Louis Rams v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

Tackle Jake Long’s visit with the Falcons didn’t result in a contract, but he didn’t have to wait long for another chance to talk to a team looking for offensive line help.

Long is visiting with the Giants again on Wednesday. Jordan Raanan of reports that Long is believed to have checked out physically after suffering a pair of torn ACLs in the last two years and that he’s expected to go through offensive line drills for the team as well.

The Giants lost left tackle Will Beatty to a torn pectoral muscle during the offseason, leaving them with first-round pick Ereck Flowers pencilled in as the starter on Eli Manning’s blind side. Flowers drew a lot of positive reviews heading into the draft, although many of those giving them offered caveats that they thought he might be best suited to right tackle and/or that he’d need some time before he’d be ready for NFL work.

Long would give the Giants another option while also opening up the possibility that Flowers can move to the other side in place of Marshall Newhouse. If they feel comfortable with what they see from Long on Wednesday, Long may not need to make any more visits to find a job for the 2015 season.

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Report: Kam Chancellor wants more money, threatens holdout

Kam Chancellor Getty Images

Seattle safety Kam Chancellor may not be there when the Seahawks report to training camp.

Chancellor wants more money and has told the Seahawks he is strongly considering a holdout, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

The 27-year-old Chancellor still has three seasons remaining on the contract he signed in 2013 and is scheduled to make $5.65 million this year, so he wouldn’t appear at first blush to have a lot of leverage.

But he’s an important part of the league’s best defense, and he becomes even more important with the Seahawks’ secondary depleted by the shoulder injury suffered by Earl Thomas in the Super Bowl, an injury that may keep Thomas out at the start of the regular season. And the Seahawks showed last year with Marshawn Lynch that they’re willing to re-do a player’s deal if that’s what they need to do to get that player in camp.

So Chancellor might have a shot at a raise if he plays his cards right. And if he holds out for a significant period of time, the Seahawks will be scrambling at safety.

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Bill Belichick on Brady suspension: It’s already been addressed

Bill Belichick AP

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to uphold Tom Brady’s four-game suspension has led to angry statements in response from Brady, his agent, the NFLPA and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, but coach Bill Belichick didn’t offer any additional thoughts during his training camp press conference on Wednesday morning.

Belichick opened the presser by referencing the other statements and saying that there’s “nothing really to talk about there” from his perspective. That didn’t stop questions from being asked, however, and Belichick showed he hasn’t lost his knack for sticking with the same answer.

“Q: Is there something flawed about the system here in the organization that you keep ending up in these cheating controversies? Can you explain why?

BB: It’s already been addressed.

Q: Could you elaborate a little?

BB: No.

Q: Why not?

BB: Because it’s already been addressed.

Q: Well, people have a lot of questions – the public, fans.

BB: You heard what Robert just said. It’s already been addressed. Maybe you ought to go back and look at your notes.

Q: I want your opinion.

BB: It’s already been addressed.”

Questions about conversations with Brady, the challenges of preparing the team when they might not have Brady for the first four games of the season and why the team suspended Pat McNally and John Jastremski were waved away just as easily with Belichick repeating that the team is focused only on the 2015 season. No one who’s familiar with the Patriots coach would have expected anything too different from Belichick and we wouldn’t expect anything to change from the coach even as fireworks continue to be lobbed back and forth by everyone else involved.

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PFT Live: Albert Breer, Tom Curran

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptqwymy1m2e1ztdkothjntixnzjmzgq3otjjnjy4m2jh AP

The biggest story in the NFL right now is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to uphold the four-game suspension given to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and that will be our focus on Wednesday’s edition of PFT Live.

Mike Florio will talk with Tom Curran of CSN New England and Albert Breer of NFL Media about all aspects of the ruling, the responses from Brady and Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the next steps that Brady and the NFL will be taking now that we appear to be headed to federal court over an issue involving the amount of air in footballs.

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

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app.

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Former Colts tackle Gosder Cherilus visiting Bills today

Gosder Cherilus AP

The Colts obviously were unsure if Gosder Cherilus was going to hold up, cutting the veteran tackle just before the start of camp.

The Bills want to make their own decision.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Cherilus is visiting the Bills today.

There’s a positional need in Buffalo, but the question will be whether Cherilus is well enough to help. He had his knee worked on this offseason, and dealt with groin and shoulder problems last year.

While he’s been a serviceable-to-good tackle when well, the health questions make him no sure thing for anyone. And the fact the Colts parted ways after investing so heavily in him as a free agent may be a sign.

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Panthers wideout Stephen Hill cited for drug paraphernalia

Carolina Panthers Getty Images

Oh, coaches around the NFL can’t get their players into training camp fast enough.

According to WSOC in Charlotte, Panthers wide receiver Stephen Hill has been cited for a drug paraphernalia charge during a traffic stop in nearby Concord. The Panthers report to camp tomorrow.

Hill, a former Jets second-rounder, was on the fringes of the Panthers depth chart anyway, and this can’t help. Even in a landscape barren of downfield threats last year, he never made much of an impact.

They’ve said nice things about him through the preseason, but with Kelvin Benjamin’s breakout rookie season and their own second-rounder in Devin Funchess, Hill was going to to struggle to be a factor anyway.

Stuff like this does not help.

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Robert Kraft tees off on Brady ruling

Robert Kraft AP

[Editor’s note: On Wednesday morning, Patriots owner Robert Kraft unexpectedly provided a statement to the media before a previously-scheduled press conference from coach Bill Belichick. The full text of Robert Kraft’s statement appears below.]

I felt it was important to make a statement today, prior to the start of training camp. After this, I will not be talking about this matter until after the legal process plays itself out, and I would advise everyone in the organization to do the same and just concentrate on preparation for the 2015 season.

The decision handed down by the league yesterday is unfathomable to me. It is routine for discipline in the NFL to be reduced upon appeal. In the vast majority of these cases, there is tangible and hard evidence of the infraction for which the discipline is being imposed, and still the initial penalty gets reduced. Six months removed from the AFC championship game, the league still has no hard evidence of anybody doing anything to tamper with the PSI levels of footballs.

I continue to believe and unequivocally support Tom Brady. I first and foremost need to apologize to our fans, because I truly believe what I did in May, given the actual evidence of the situation and the league’s history on discipline matters, would make it much easier for the league to exonerate Tom Brady.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

The league’s handling of this entire process has been extremely frustrating and disconcerting. I will never understand why an initial erroneous report regarding the PSI level of footballs was leaked by a source from the NFL a few days after the AFC championship game, [and] was never corrected by those who had the correct information. For four months, that report cast aspersions and shaped public opinion.

Yesterday’s decision by Commissioner was released in a similar manner, under an erroneous headline that read, “Tom Brady destroyed his cellphone.” This headline was designed to capture headlines across the country and obscure evidence regarding the tampering of air pressure in footballs. It intentionally implied nefarious behavior and minimized the acknowledgement that Tom provided the history of every number he texted during that relevant time frame. And we had already provided the league with every cellphone of every non-NFLPA that they requested, including head coach Bill Belichick.

Tom Brady is a person of great integrity, and is a great ambassador of the game, both on and off the field. Yet for reasons that I cannot comprehend, there are those in the league office who are more determined to prove that they were right rather than admit any culpability of their own or take any responsibility for the initiation of a process and ensuing investigation that was flawed.

I have come to the conclusion that this was never about doing what was fair and just. Back in May, I had to make a difficult decision that I now regret. I tried to do what I thought was right. I chose not to take legal action. I wanted to return the focus to football.

I have been negotiating agreements on a global basis my entire life. I know there are times when you have to give up important points of principle to achieve a greater good. I acted in good faith and was optimistic that by taking the actions I took the league would have what they wanted. I was willing to accept the harshest penalty in the history of the NFL for an alleged ball violation because I believed it would help exonerate Tom.

I have often said, ‘If you want to get a deal done, sometimes you have to get the lawyers out of the room.’ I had hoped that Tom Brady’s appeal to the league would provide Roger Goodell the necessary explanation to overturn his suspension. Now, the league has taken the matter to court, which is a tactic that only a lawyer would recommend.

Once again, I want to apologize to the fans of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. I was wrong to put my faith in the league. Given the facts, evidence, and laws of science that underscore this entire situation, it is completely incomprehensible to me that the league continues to take steps to disparage one of its all-time great players, and a man for whom I have the utmost respect.

Personally, this is very sad and disappointing to me.

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Good news for Dolphins: No PUP list for Branden Albert

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Dolphins got some good news on the eve of camp, as left tackle Branden Albert appears to be on track for a healthy return.

According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, the left tackle is going to open training camp on the active roster, 10 months after he tore his ACL and MCL.

While they could have easily placed him on the active/physically unable to perform list (and activated him from it at any time), the fact they don’t feel the need to is a good sign in his recovery.

While he might not be ready to for full participation from day one, it’s still good news for a player at a key position, who was playing well at the time of his injury.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

toddgurley AP

Bills OT Cyrus Kouandjio worked on building his core strength in offseason workouts with former NFL offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley.

Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller, two of the Dolphins’ better recent draft picks, are both heading into contract years.

Even in Boston, they acknowledge that destroying his phone is a bad look for Tom Brady.

Here’s a Q&A with Jets GM Mike Maccagnan.

Ravens FB Kyle Juszczyk hopes to catch more passes this season.

Marvin Lewis doesn’t plan to leave Cincinnati without a Super Bowl ring.

Browns WR Terrelle Pryor believes he’s going to be the best.

The Steelers think WR Markus Wheaton can make a difference in the slot.

Brian Hoyer appears to be ahead of Ryan Mallett in the Texans’ quarterback competition.

Trading for CB Vontae Davis turned out to be one of the best moves the Colts have made.

Jaguars G A.J. Cann is eager to show other teams screwed up when they let him fall to the third round.

Perrish Cox should help the Titans improve in the secondary.

The Broncos are relying on Malik Jackson and Vance Walker to step up on the defensive line.

The Chiefs added CB Kenneth Penny to the training camp roster.

The Raiders, Oakland and the NFL are still discussing stadium issues.

The Chargers have a new team doctor.

The Cowboys are heading to camp with high expectations.

Jason Pierre Paul’s status is still a mystery to the Giants.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly is a big believer in Navy SEAL philosophies.

What can Washington expect from Robert Griffin III?

The Bears think Kyle Long can add some versatility to their offensive line.

The Lions aren’t afraid to say they’re thinking Super Bowl.

Green Bay’s defensive line has suffered from disappointing draft picks.

Vikings owner Mark Wilf is the most excited he’s been in a decade of ownership.

A famous Florida State ball boy is serving an internship with the Falcons.

The Panthers have depth on the offensive line, but they still have questions.

The Saints hope to see a lot from RBs C.J. Spiller and Mark Ingram in training camp.

Here’s a look at the Bucs’ backfield.

Cardinals assistant Jen Welter’s first paycheck for playing a professional football season was $12.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher has indicated that RB Todd Gurley will be playing sooner than people think.

It’s the start of a new era for the 49ers.

Is Russell Wilson happy and content enough in Seattle that he’d be willing to take less money to stay there?

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Tom Brady says NFL made no counteroffer


With the Tom Brady appeal resolved but the case far from over, a question remains regarding whether the controversy can be settled. In his Wednesday morning silence-breaking Facebook post, Brady makes it clear that the ball is still in the NFL’s court.

“I authorized the NFLPA to make a settlement offer to the NFL so that we could avoid going to court and put this inconsequential issue behind us as we move forward into this season,” Brady said. “The discipline was upheld without any counter offer.”

While no formal, written counter offer may have been made, PFT reported last night that the NFL was willing to drop the suspension by “at least 50 percent” if Brady: (1) admitted to having knowledge of whatever John Jastremski and Jim McNally were doing to the footballs; (2) admitted to failing to cooperate with the Ted Wells investigation; and (3) apologized.

Because Brady wasn’t willing to admit to anything, and given his position that no counter offer was made, it’s likely that the league’s lawyers simply articulated to the NFLPA’s lawyers the general terms the NFL would need in order to settle the case. This happens all the time in litigation, with loose offers floated in a way that isn’t official or binding.

It happens for a variety of reasons. In some cases, a party to litigation doesn’t want to be squeezed away from a position through further negotiations. If, for example, someone wants $100,000 to settle a personal injury lawsuit, an official offer to settle for $100,000 guarantees that the back-and-forth ritual will force the number lower. So the lawyer says something like, “If your client would offer $100,000, my client would accept that. But my client is not officially demanding $100,000.”

The triple-dog-dare-style etiquette of offer-and-counteroffer routinely results in disputes over what was and wasn’t offered. In this case, the NFL may have never officially and formally offered to cut the punishment at least in half in exchange for Brady crying “uncle.” But we stand fully by the notion that the NFL communicated to Brady and company a willingness to resolve the case under those terms.

Moving forward, more settlement talks are inevitable — especially since most federal judges require them to happen. Some federal judges get personally involved in the settlement efforts, which can be very effective when a hard-headed litigant hears from the person wearing the black robe what will happen next if the case isn’t resolved voluntarily.

Still, if Brady refuses to admit blame of any kind, it becomes very difficult for any deal to ever be done.

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Jason Licht: It’s going to take more than Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston AP

The Buccaneers were convinced that quarterback Jameis Winston was the best choice with the first pick in the 2015 draft and they’ve been happy with what they’ve seen from Winston in his brief stint with the team, but General Manager Jason Licht isn’t losing sight of the fact that Winston is a rookie.

Licht said Tuesday that the team is doing all it can to minimize Winston’s struggles in his first NFL season, but knows that history says rookie quarterbacks throw a lot of interceptions and make other mistakes born of inexperience. As a result, Licht said the rest of the team is going to have to pick up their game around Winston in order for Tampa to succeed.

“We’re going to do our best and the coaching staff to make sure the weight of the world is not on [Winston],” Licht said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s going to take great defense, it’s going to take a lot of other things in the offense, not just him. He’s going to be a pivotal part of that when he’s playing. But it’s going to take more than that. Let’s be honest, there is a lot of pressure on the guy … but to me, he’s proven that he can handle pressure. I think he’s done a phenomenal job. He never came in and said, “Hey, look at me, I’m the leader.’ Until he’s the starter, he’s not the starter. He’s actually been a little quieter than I thought he was going to be.”

Every quarterback needs the help of his teammates in order to win games, but the weight of the results still tend to fall more heavily on their shoulders than on any other players. That’s especially true of quarterbacks taken with the first overall pick, which makes it important for the Bucs that Licht is right about Winston being cool under pressure.

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Charles Tillman is safe — and clean — after emergency landing

Charles Tillman AP

Charles Tillman is heading to his first training camp with the Carolina Panthers with a pure spirit.

And clean shorts.

According to WCNC, the veteran cornerback was on an American Airlines flight from Chicago to Charlotte that had to make an emergency landing in Indianapolis Tuesday night.

The plane was sent to Indy for what an airline spokesperson called an “indication of a mechanical issue.” But after it was checked out there, it was cleared to fly and continued to Charlotte.

Tillman tweeted out a video from inside a plane, showing emergency vehicles parked around it with the caption: “Hopefully this will be my first and only emergency landing… #changingmyunderwearnow #thankyoujesus”

It’s good to know that Tillman’s prepared, keeping a clean pair in his carry-on bag. And, you know, that he and all aboard were safe.

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Terrelle Pryor: I believe in my heart that I’m going to be the best

Terrelle Pryor AP

As part of his transition to wide receiver, Terrelle Pryor spent time working out this offseason with Randy Moss, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans and Josh Gordon and that training has helped his confidence heading into training camp with the Browns.

Pryor said that watching those players go through the workouts made him realize “there’s some stuff I look very similar with my cuts” and bolstered his belief that he can be a very successful NFL wideout.

“I believe I can do this,” Pryor said, via “When I work out and when I train to do something, I don’t do it just to be OK. I believe in my heart with my God-given ability that I’m going to be the best. That’s not being arrogant or cocky. No one outworks me, so I believe in my heart if I put my mind to anything, I can accomplish it. I believe you have to have that edge.”

Pryor also spent some time catching passes from Browns quarterback Josh McCown and getting a grasp on the team’s offense. Some of that has been made easier by his past relationship with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who coached Pryor in Oakland and is using a playbook that Pryor feels familiar with early in his time with the club.

A familiar scheme and Pryor’s athletic ability should help him acclimate himself into the offense this summer, but there are sure to be rough spots for a player switching to an entirely new position at this level. Pryor’s ability to overcome and learn from those obstacles will determine how high he can climb as a receiver and the Browns’ need for more firepower on offense should provide him ample opportunities to prove he can do it.

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Why didn’t Goodell increase Brady’s suspension?


As noted last night, the NFL has gotten plenty of things wrong in the #DeflateGate saga. But it has mastered the art and science of public relations.

The league delivered what seemed as of Tuesday afternoon to be the death blow to Brady’s case, at least in the court of public opinion, by declaring in Commissioner Roger Goodell’s 20-page ruling released to the media (curiously, the ruling in the Greg Hardy case that knocked the Commissioner’s punishment from 10 games to four was not released to the media) and in the press release accompanying the ruling that “important new information” was discovered during the appeal process.

“On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed,”  the four-paragraph press release states in paragraph three. “He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. ‎During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.”

That paragraph evoked a “wow” from anyone who read it. Multiple members of the media declared that the revelation was “shocking.” It galvanized the opinions of those who believe Brady is guilty, and it left those who believe in him with one less reason to believe.

But here’s the biggest flaw of logic in that arguably trumped-up disclosure. If this really was “new information” that Brady concealed during his meeting with Ted Wells (as noted at the bottom of page 12 of the ruling), why didn’t “The Enforcer” attempt to impose greater discipline on Brady than the four-game suspension levied without knowing that he had “destroyed” his cell phone?

Goodell calls the development “very troubling” at page 13 of the ruling, accusing Brady of a “deliberate effort to ensure that investigators would never have access to information he had been asked to produce,” of “conceal[ing] potentially relevant evidence to undermine the investigation,” and of “conceal[ing] for months that he had destroyed the cellphone requested by the investigators.”

In other words, Goodell determined that this new information meant Brady hadn’t simply failed to cooperate with the investigation but that he had affirmatively obstructed it. Which, if true, should have resulted in new and enhanced penalties.

But the 20-page, single-spaced ruling never addresses the obvious consequence to the conclusion that, only five days before the hearing, Brady shot himself in the foot with a smoking gun that proves an intentional effort to hide evidence.

At a minimum, the case should have been immediately remanded to Troy Vincent (or to whoever actually made the original decision) for proceedings aimed at exploring whether Brady’s previously unknown conduct justifies separate discipline. But that didn’t happen, possibly (probably) because a full-blown examination of the issue would have undermined the very useful P.R. message that Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

Already, Brady has offered an alternative explanation, beyond the one that appeared tucked into footnote 11 on page 12 of the ruling. If the NFL had done what seemed logical and reasonable in light of this brand-new notion that Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone and commissioned a full-blown examination of the issue, the end result may have diluted the P.R. message that rocketed from coast to coast on Tuesday afternoon, on the trail that had been blazed by the seemingly outrageous disclosure from Stephen A. Smith on Tuesday morning that Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

The league wants us all to believe that. But if the league truly believed it, the league should have done more than simply use it to justify the suspension that already had been imposed.

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