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3-4 or 4-3 for Bills under Pettine? “Yes”

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With 3-4 guru Mike Pettine taking over a defense that has been constructed to operate as a 4-3, the big question for the Bills has become whether Mario Williams will for the second time in three seasons be asked to play outside linebacker.

The easy answer is yes.  And no.

Pettine talked about his new job with the Bills’ official website, and he was asked whether he’ll be using a 3-4 or a 4-3.

The answer is really yes to both,” Pettine said.  “We’ll be a multiple front, multiple coverage defense.  The trademark of our defense is we’re going to be smart, tough and relentless.  How we configure it is more player-driven.  I’ve always believed that you don’t fit your players to your scheme, but you fit your scheme to your players.  What I see here is a group of explosive athletes and playmakers and we’re going to put them in a position to do just that.  We’re going to be in the configuration that gives us the best opportunity to win football games.”

And the effort to win football games will include an ongoing competition with his former team, the Jets, and his former boss, Rex Ryan.

“Rex and I are like brothers, brothers that fight a lot,” Pettine said.

We look forward to seeing their respective teams fight in 2013.  And if they choose to get in on the action, too, we won’t complain.

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Leonard Fournette says football saved his life

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NFL teams look for players with a passion for the game of football, and worry about players who don’t consider the game their top priority. On that score, teams should like LSU running back Leonard Fournette.

Fournette said today on PFT Live that he loves football so much he considers it a literal life-saver. Fournette said that it wasn’t until he got to ninth grade and was good enough to start on the varsity that he started to realize he had a future that many others in his New Orleans neighborhood didn’t have.

“I could have been like any knucklehead out here selling drugs, a criminal or doing whatever. But no, I was on the football field 24/7,” Fournette said.

Fournette certainly sounds like the kind of player NFL teams will love. Asked what it is he wants to do in the NFL, Fournette didn’t hesitate to answer, “Win a Super Bowl.”

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Mike Maccagnan has “no problem” taking players off board due to violence

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It won’t be long before we know which team is willing to look past the video of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon punching a woman in the face to draft him to their roster, but we’re getting some idea about where he won’t be winding up.

Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff suggested Atlanta was not a landing spot and his Jets counterpart Mike Maccagnan did the same during a Monday press conference. Maccagnan wouldn’t reveal whether Mixon is off the board, but said the Jets don’t take domestic violence lightly and referenced his “personal experience” from Houston when a friend was killed by her husband.

That incident led Maccagnan and his wife to begin working with the One Love foundation to combat domestic violence and Maccagnan explained some of his process for dealing with players with a history of violence.

“We vet this stuff as thoroughly as we can,” Maccagnan said, via the New York Daily News. “We try to make sure we’re accurate in terms of passing our verdict on if we think they’re guilty or bad or whatever. We take that very seriously. In the end, I have no problem whatsoever taking players off the board from that standpoint. I’d rather make sure we focus on players that are good players and ideally good people and good members of our society.”

Some have opined that the Jets would be a good landing spot for Leonard Fournette with the No. 6 overall pick. They may not go that way, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to be because they are waiting to take Mixon later in the process.

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How much does Adrian Peterson help the Saints?

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From Adrian Peterson’s perspective, signing with the Saints doesn’t make a lot of sense. From the team’s perspecitve, adding a future Hall of Famer makes a lot of sense — if he has gas in the tank and a chip on his shoulder.

But how much will adding Peterson truly help the Saints in 2017? The oddsmakers previously had them at 75-1 underdogs to win the Super Bowl. (Quarterback Drew Brees feels very differently about that; last month, Brees told PFT Live that he believes the Saints are “very close” to winning another championship.)

So here’s an impromptu, seat-of-the-pants, PFT Live question of the day: Are the odds now lower, higher, or the same?

Answer below, and then tune to NBCSN for more Peterson talk, along with visits from Leonard Fournette, Deshaun Watson, and Ryan Leaf.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

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Mike Gillislee’s departure opens up a bigger role for RB Jonathan Williams with the Bills.

A look at all the players who visited with the Dolphins in the pre-draft process.

The Patriots’ offseason moves de-emphasized the draft.

The Jets aren’t saying if they will pick up S Calvin Pryor’s option for the 2018 season.

What’s on the line for the Ravens in this year’s draft?

Assessing whether Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon will land with Bengals.

If the Browns don’t draft Myles Garrett with the No. 1 pick, what defensive players could they get at No. 12?

The Steelers could add competition at inside linebacker in the draft.

Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins won’t be watching the draft.

Will the Colts roll the dice on players with character risks?

Five things the Jaguars need for a successful 2017 season.

Said Titans RB DeMarco Murray to the incoming rookie class, “Nothing is going to be given to you, no matter what you did in college, no matter how many yards, records you’ve broken, what kind of guy you were, all of that.”

Broncos G.M. John Elway said it is a deep tight end class in this year’s draft.

A look at the Chiefs’ draft-day trades under G.M. John Dorsey.

Some inside linebacker possibilities for the Raiders.

Said Chargers G.M. Tom Telesco of drafting a quarterback, “We’ve done that same amount of work this year.  Whether it lines up in this draft or not, I don’t really know.  Whether it lines up in next year’s draft in 2018 or 2019, I don’t really know.  But I know we’ll be prepared with the work we’ve done in case that arises.”

Not everyone is buying what the Cowboys are selling regarding LB Jaylon Smith.

Giants WR Odell Beckham responded to the team picking up his 2018 option.

S Malcolm Jenkins would like to see the Eagles add another Ohio State player.

Will the Redskins improve their defense in this year’s draft?

Making 13 cases for the Bears drafting a quarterback at No. 3.

This year’s running back class looks like a good one for the Lions.

The Packers may be adding to the defensive line again.

Running through the biggest draft steals in Vikings history.

Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu got a nice note after a recent flight.

Edge rusher prospects for the Panthers to consider.

A vote for the Saints taking Tennessee DE Derek Barnett in the first round.

Linebacker isn’t a big draft need for the Buccaneers.

With compensatory picks expected in 2018, the Cardinals could use some of next year’s picks to move up this year.

Jackie Slater and Jack Youngblood will be involved with the Rams’ draft festivities.

49ers G.M. John Lynch finds value in mock drafts.

Germain Ifedi is happy to be back at right tackle for the Seahawks.

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Adrian Peterson: Saints “just felt right within my spirit”

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There are several reasons to wonder why veteran running back Adrian Peterson would choose the Saints, and it’s clear that this one came down to a gut feeling for him.

Peterson told ESPN’s Josina Anderson upon agreeing to a two-year deal that he felt at home in New Orleans, for a number of reasons.

“Most importantly, I chose this team because it just felt right within my spirit,” he said. “Additionally, my wife and family added their confirmation with the same feelings. On offense, it goes without saying that the Saints are really solid behind Drew Brees. I feel like my skill set can make them even more dominant as a unit. They have a great offensive line, which is something that stood out to me as well. I could tell from talking to head coach Sean Payton over the last two weeks that he did his due diligence in evaluating how I could contribute.

“I also did a lot of homework on the defense as well. While I know that injuries have played a role in performance, I also see areas of potential with a lot of younger guys having the ability to step up. Lastly, it goes without saying that the Saints have an amazing fan base and I look forward to making them proud and creating everlasting memories.”

After being shown the door in Minnesota after a long and productive career, and flirting unsuccessfully with other teams earlier this offseason, it sure seems like Peterson just wanted to be wanted. And it’s apparent that Payton was able to do just that, to bring in a former MVP as a backup running back on the kind of deal that would have been unimaginable for Peterson not that long ago.

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Seahawks G.M. on Richard Sherman trade talk: “Neither side is super urgent”

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As casually as they came up, the Seahawks sort of dismissed the Richard Sherman trade rumors yesterday.

All of which makes it an extraordinary piece of non-business in the NFL, with both sides openly acknowledging a potential divorce, while vowing to stay together for the kids if that’s what it takes. They seem to shrug as if either outcome is fine, even though it’s unlike just about anything we’ve ever seen.

“Richard may see it as a fresh start for him and we may see it as a way to clear some cap room and get younger, but neither side is super urgent about it,” Seahawks General Manager John Schneider said, via Stephen Cohen of SeattlePI.com.

Schneider said that once the rumors got out there in March, there was no point denying the obvious — that they’d part ways with the veteran corner for the right price.

“We didn’t really feel like there was anything to hide,” Schneider said. “People say, ‘Well, why do you have your business out the open?’ It was basically out there. People had been talking about it, and there were rumors about it. . . .

“We would consider it because it’s been a mutual thing. It’s OK, and we feel like it would clear cap room and we would be able to get younger, but that’s the only reason we’d do it. The guy’s one of the top cornerbacks of the league. You don’t just like give him away, you know?”

Though things with Sherman haven’t always been peaceful, Schneider said “time heals all wounds” when asked about the relationship with the star cornerback.

Of course, by talking so openly about it, Schneider also keeps Sherman’s name in the news. And with that kind of top-of-mind awareness, someone might make a late call, which they’ve already admitted they’d listen to.

And the honesty continues to amaze us, which probably says more about the NFL in general than the Seahawks in particular.

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Report: Adrian Peterson agrees to two-year, $7 million deal with Saints

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Adrian Peterson will be playing in the Minnesota Vikings season opener this September. He’ll just be doing so for the team on the opposite sidelines.

Peterson reportedly told Josina Anderson of ESPN.com that he has agreed to a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints worth a total of $7 million.

Peterson also gave the full details of the contract as well. The deal is a one-year contract to start with an option for a second year for New Orleans. Peterson will earn $3.5 million in fully guaranteed money this season with a $2.5 million signing bonus and $1 million in guaranteed base salary.

His 2018 option would carry $3.5 million in non-guaranteed money with $2.4 million in roster bonuses. The $3.5 million comes from $1.05 million in base salary, $1.65 million in per game roster bonuses, a $750,000 roster bonus that triggers on the third day of the league year and a $50,000 workout bonus.

Incentives also exist that could raise the total value of the contract.

With those parameters in place, Peterson would carry a salary cap charge of $2.25 million this year for the Saints and a $4.75 million total charge in 2018.

The Saints currently have $8.5 million in salary cap space according to the NFLPA database.

New Orleans is set to host Peterson’s former team on Monday Night Football to open the 2017 season.

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Jameis Winston still musing about playing baseball

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Two years ago, as the Buccaneers were preparing to make quarterback Jameis Winston the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, concerns lingered regarding the possibility that Winston eventually could do what Bo Jackson, Tampa’s No. 1 overall pick from 1986, did: Play baseball.

The team addressed the possibility of Winston trying to be a two-sport player (like Jackson eventually did, but not for the Bucs) by adding language in Winston’s contract that bars him from moonlighting in America’s one-time pastime. Two years later, it seems like the window is still open for the sport that used to result in kids breaking windows (back when they used to, you know, go outside).

Appearing recently on the Talk of Fame Network (via JoeBucsFan.com), Winston admitted that he’s still considering playing baseball at some point.

I was really serious about baseball,” Winston said. “As a matter of fact, my agency is a baseball agency. They really thought I was going to be a baseball player. But this football thing ended up working out for me. It was a dream of mine to be an NFL quarterback and be a pro baseball player. But the way time has changed that isn’t really allowed any more. Being from Bessemer, Alabama, seeing Bo Jackson and hearing that name around a lot, that was a dream of mine. You never know. Football, the lifespan of this sport is not really guaranteed, so baseball might be there one day.”

He added that he doesn’t aspire to be a two-sport player. Which means that, if he’d ever play baseball, he’d first walk away from football.

Whether he intended it or not, the remark gives him a little extra leverage as he enters the third year of his rookie contract. After 2017, he’ll be eligible for a second deal — and if the Bucs want to slam the door on Jameis dumping football for baseball over the next seven years or so, they can give him the kind of mega-extension that will make him continue to choose football over baseball indefinitely. Especially if the signing bonus is sufficiently large that it would trigger a major repayment obligation if he retires prematurely.

Of course, while a football player playing baseball wouldn’t be unprecedented, the Bucs signing a quarterback they drafted to a second deal would be. In more than 40 years of existence, the Buccaneers have never done that once.

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A.J. McCarron “at peace with” being in Cincinnati another year

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Bengals backup quarterback A.J. McCarron heard the same chatter everyone else did, and thought there was a decent chance he’d be dealt this offseason.

But upon reporting to offseason conditioning, he’s now accepting the fact that he’s likely to sit behind Andy Dalton for another year and wait for his chance.

“Like I said, as a competitor you want to play. It’s just in you,” he said, via Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I’m a huge competitor, no matter what I’m playing. I’ve always been that way. I want to play. But, like I said, these are the circumstances and it’s something I can’t control. So there’s no reason to really worry about it, think about it, because then it spills over into life outside of football and it could affect your marriage or relationships with people. I don’t want that. I try to keep it; my mindset is football and everything else and just enjoy it. A lot of people wish they could be in my, in any of our shoes, my shoes talking from my point of view, to get paid the amount of money we get paid to play a game. So I love it.

I’m at peace with it. It is what it is.”

Of course, he’ll probably be far less peaceful if he’s a restricted free agent after next season. Because he spent most of his rookie year on the reserve/non-football injury list with a shoulder problem (not activated until December), he wasn’t credited with an accrued season for free agency. If that stands, he’d be a restricted free agent instead of unrestricted next offseason, giving the Bengals control over his future for an extra year.

He’s filed a motion to have his rookie year count toward the four years you need to be unrestricted, but he said he didn’t expect to hear anything until 2018.

“It’s just something they’re going to fight on their side and I’m going to fight on my side to prove why I shouldn’t have to have another year,” he said. “It is what it is. It’s what the lawyers and all that will fix out. We’ll see what happens.”

Of course, there’s been trade speculation about him already, and some thought he’d be dealt by now. But he’s still in Cincinnati, which may be the case for a year longer than he had planned.

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D’Onta Foreman reveals he lost infant son during last season at Texas

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One of several running backs expected to be selected in this week’s NFL Draft, D’Onta Foreman’s final season at Texas was marred by a personal tragedy.

In an interview with Andrea Kremer for NFL.com, Foreman revealed his young son, D’Onta Jr., died last season after being born prematurely.

D’Onta Jr. was born last September and weighed less than a pound at his birth. He lived less than two months before developing an infection in his intestines while Foreman was in Lubbock the day before Texas’ game with Texas Tech.

“Biggest game of my life,” Foreman said. “Biggest game of my life. There was just something about that game. It was like ‘I’m doing it for my son. I’m leaving it all out here.'”

Foreman rushed for 341 yards and three touchdowns as Texas Tech that day. It’s the third highest rushing total in a game in Texas history.

Afterward, Foreman received the word that his son had passed away.

“I really didn’t know how to feel,” Foreman said. “I was like, ‘no…’ I was driving and I was crying while I was driving. I was crushed, I was so hurt. I felt like something was taken away from me before I even had the chance to experience it.”

Amidst the tragedy, Foreman posted one of the best rushing seasons in Texas history. He became just the second Longhorn running back to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. His 2,028 yards trails only the 2,124 of Ricky Williams set during his Heisman Trophy winning season in 1998. He ranks ninth all-time on Texas’ rushing list despite not becoming a full-time starter until his final season in Austin.

Foreman is likely a second or third day draft pick this week. On a positive note, Foreman and his girlfriend are once again expecting. The new arrival is due on Sept. 16, the same day D’Onta Jr. was born last year.

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Steelers have no information on Martavis Bryant reinstatement

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Despite several reports that Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant would soon be reinstated from his league-imposed suspension, the team knows nothing about it.

Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said the team hasn’t heard anything from the league about Bryant’s status.

We have not gotten word on Martavis Bryant,” Colbert said. “We have no information. We have no idea if we’ll get information [before the draft] or not. We have to operate under the assumption that, until he is here, he is not here.”

Bryant has shown a lot of promise as a big-play threat, but he was suspended for the entire 2016 season because of multiple failed drug tests. If the Steelers aren’t going to find out until after the draft whether they’ll get Bryant back this year, they may feel they need to draft a receiver, just in case they don’t get Bryant back.

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Still using a crutch, Mike Pouncey had stem-cell procedure

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Dolphins center Mike Pouncey continues to have trouble with his hip, as evidenced by one obvious fact: He attended the funeral of former college teammate Aaron Hernandez on Monday while using a crutch.

According to multiple reports, Pouncey had a stem-cell procedure on the injured hip in an effort to accelerate its healing. Pouncey reportedly has had no setbacks.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the procedure was a normal part of the rehab process.

The Dolphins have said Pouncey will be ready by Week One of the 2017 regular season. How far in advance of that he’ll be ready to go remains to be seen.

Pouncey missed 11 regular-season games and a postseason context in 2016. He last appeared in every game of the season in 2016.

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John Lynch admits he’ll consider a quarterback at No. 2

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49ers G.M. John Lynch threw water on the report that the team is strongly considering taking a quarterback with the second overall pick in the draft during a Monday pre-draft press conference. And then Lynch essentially confirmed the report.

“I use the word ‘assumptions,'” Lynch said regarding the NFL Network report regarding the very real possibility that the 49ers will go for a quarterback at No. 2. “It’s what people do. They try to gather, but I know that, I don’t know obviously, but like I said I think the discipline out of this building’s been excellent. And so, I think that’s what they are, they’re assumptions rather than, I think in each situation it says ‘sources.’ I don’t know who those sources are because there’s only a few people that know and so we feel real good about that.”

But then the ultimate source in San Francisco acknowledged that, yes, a quarterback could be taken in that spot.

“I think we’ve stated from the beginning that a franchise quarterback is something we believe is essential to winning in this league,” Lynch said. “We hope that [Brian] Hoyer and [Matt] Barkley come in, and they were both brought in for a reason, but we feel like we’ll continue, always continue, to try to improve ourselves at that position. And so I think the answer is yes.”

Regardless of which guy the 49ers take, Lynch said they’re narrowed their selection down to two or three guys, and that he and coach Kyle Shanahan will make the final decision. One potential decision remains a trade out of the No. 2 spot to a lower position.

“What we’ve said, and the truth of the matter is, we’re willing to listen,” Lynch said. “But we’re very comfortable that we can get to the point where there’s a direction we can go where we’ll be ecstatic and we’ll be passionate about that player.”

They’ll be even more passionate if they can get the player they’d take at No. 2 and also land another pick or two for sliding down. Despite more than 20 new additions to a team that went 2-14 a year ago, the 49ers have plenty of needs — and they could use as many draft picks as they can get.

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First college games at new Falcons stadium will have roof closed

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Atlanta’s new stadium has a roof that is supposed to open and close with the flip of a switch. Until further notice, the switch will be in the “off” position.

Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the college football games due to be played on Labor Day weekend at the new venue will proceed with the roof closed. The stated reason for the decision is to “eliminate the variable of weather.”

Of course, the main purpose for having a roof that opens and closes on demand is to allow it to open when the weather is going to be favorable and to close when the weather will be inclement. The advance decision to go with a closed roof underscores the lingering challenges arising from the complex roof of the futuristic structure.

Gary Stokan, president and CEO of the company responsible for the Chik-fil-A Kickoff claimed that the Alabama-Florida State and Georgia Tech-Tennessee games will have a closed roof for reasons unrelated to construction delays that are currently pushing the stadium’s opening right up against the preseason games the Falcons will be hosting in late August. Stokan says he didn’t even ask whether the roof could have been open.

“I had concluded we were going to keep it closed, anyway, so I never even asked if we would be able to open it,” Stokan said. “I know when it’s closed everything is going to go well. The air conditioning will be fine. . . . I think whenever you put on an event the less things you need to be concerned about, the better. And I know with the roof closed it’ll be a great atmosphere and experience.”

It would be an even better atmosphere if the roof were open, and having the flexibility to make that decision as close to kickoff as possible is one of the benefits of having a roof that opens and closes. With plenty of rumors swirling that the roof isn’t working the way it should (and there are some concerns it may not work the way it should during the 2017 season, or ever), this development justifies curiosity that the new stadium will be like that convertible with the top that won’t swing open, no matter how warm or sunny it may be.

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Report: NFL teams holding missed bowl game against Jabrill Peppers

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Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers was one of a handful of draft prospects who didn’t play in his team’s bowl game. And now that may be costing him in the eyes of NFL teams.

Adam Schefter reported today on ESPN that there are teams with concerns that Peppers didn’t play in his bowl game. Those teams apparently worry that by sitting out Michigan’s Orange Bowl contest against Florida State, he showed a lack of commitment to his team.

Why should that affect Peppers’ draft stock when it hasn’t seemed to affect the stock of LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, both of whom also sat out their teams’ bowl games? Apparently because Peppers didn’t reveal he wasn’t playing until the day of the Orange Bowl, whereas both Fournette and McCaffrey addressed their decisions with their coaches and teammates well in advance of their bowl games.

However, it’s a little odd that this report is coming from Schefter today, because on the day of the bowl game, Schefter reported that Peppers had legitimately suffered a hamstring injury and wanted to play but physically couldn’t.

A few NFL decision-makers, including Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, have said they would be concerned about a player who sat out his bowl game. But this is the first report we’ve heard a report that a specific player is actually dropping on draft boards for that decision.

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