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David Caldwell: Gabbert still has upside

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The big story out of Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell’s introduction to the media was his firm statement that Donald Duck has as much chance of being a member of the Jaguars this season as Tim Tebow.

Tebow wasn’t the only quarterback who came up for discussion, though. Blaine Gabbert, who finished his second season with the Jaguars on injured reserve and didn’t do much to encourage confidence that he was the man for the future before that, was also on Caldwell’s list of talking points. Caldwell plans to have four quarterbacks on the roster in camp and said there would be an open competition for the quarterback job, but said that wasn’t something to interpret as writing off Gabbert altogether.

“He is still young. He’s had two different offensive coordinators in his first two years. Get a coach in here and get some sustainability for him. I think it’s important to see what he can do. Look at some quarterbacks. It takes maybe more than two years, three or four years. He came out as a junior and he’s a very young quarterback and he still has a lot of upside,” Caldwell said, via the Florida Times-Union. “I always thought Blaine was going to be a long-term project when he came out anyway. I studied him when he came out and he came out from the spread offense. I felt like it was going to be a longer process for him. Look at the quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning, they spent a full five years in college. Blaine should be a rookie coming out this year. Let’s work with him.”

There’s a long time between now and camp, to say nothing of the start of the season, so any plans are in their infancy at this point. Gabbert may yet wind up being passed over, but it sounds like he’ll get another chance or two to prove himself before the new Jaguars regime is convinced they have to pull the plug.

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Centralized replay review proposal approved

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The days of going under the hood are over.

According to Kimberly Jones of the NFL Network, owners unanimously approved the centralized replay review proposal.

The rule will put the replay process in the hands of NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino and his crew in New York, taking the referee on the field out of the business of reviews.

If nothing else, it could help with the league’s attempt to streamline portions of the game for broadcast purposes, but it also gives them a shot at a greater degree of consistency, which no one’s going to complain about.

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NFL owners vote down five-yard bonus for kickoff through uprights

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The NFL wants more touchbacks, but has voted down a rule that would incentivize them.

The league today voted against a proposal that would give the kickoff team a five-yard bonus on touchbacks that go through the uprights, putting those touchbacks at the receiving team’s 20-yard line instead of the 25.

According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the proposal got 11 votes. It needed 24 votes, or support from three-fourths of the teams, to pass.

The NFL has made clear that it’s concerned about injuries on kickoff returns and wants to cut down on them. The five-yard bonus rule would do just that, as it would incentivize teams to kick deep into the end zone for a touchback, rather than kick short and try to pin opponents inside the 20. So it’s logically inconsistent for the owners to vote the rule down.

But logical inconsistencies haven’t stopped the NFL before, and it hasn’t this time, either. There will be no benefits to touchbacks through the uprights, much to the disappointment of teams that have kickers with a big leg.

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NFL tables proposed shrinkage of overtime

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The Competition Committee recommended to ownership a reduction of preseason and regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. The ownership has not yet embraced the recommendation.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the proposal was tabled during Tuesday’s meetings in Arizona. The source added that nine teams were opposed to the change.

By rule, 24 votes are needed to implement a rule change. Which means that nine “no” votes can block and proposed change.

It’s unclear when the matter will be revisited. Or whether another possibility (cough . . . two-point conversion shootout . . . cough) will emerge in its place.

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Leaping on field goals and extra points banned

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Field goals and extra points may have gotten a little easier today, or at least less contested.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the rule banning leaping over the line of scrimmage to block kicks has passed.

Viewed as a player-safety measure by the NFLPA, the decision cuts down on the possibility of offensive linemen being landed on, or the leapers themselves being cut for a flip when trying to hurdle the line.

A number of players voiced their displeasure with the rule when it was proposed, notably Seahawks Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor. But that wasn’t enough to compel owners.

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Todd Bowles declares “heavy competition” for Jets quarterback job

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Even though the Jets brought in veteran Josh McCown, they’re not counting anyone out of their quarterback derby yet.

Coach Todd Bowles told reporters this morning that both Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty would get a chance at the starting job as well.

There will be heavy competition for the job,” Bowles said, via Rich Cimini of “Nobody has been promised the starting quarterback job. They’ll all get a chance to play and we’ll make that decision, going forward, when training camp starts as we see production from certain people.”

Of course, Hackenberg didn’t take a snap as a rookie last year, and Petty is coming off surgery to his non-throwing shoulder. But Bowles wasn’t ruling anything out, including the possibility of using the sixth overall pick on a quarterback.

“We’ll see how it falls and we’ll look at the pros and cons of it and we’ll make that decision, but there is a scenario, yes,” Bowles said.

Bowles has been quick to declare a starter in the past, in order to give that guy more time to prepare with the other starters. But at the moment, there’s no reason to push it, as McCown has enough experience to be able to come in on the fly.

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Source: “Completely false” to say Kaepernick has asked for $9-10 million per year

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To claim that quarterback Colin Kaepernick wants a chance to compete for a starting job and a salary of $9 million or $10 million per year would be to assume that conversations with one or more teams have progressed to that point. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, they haven’t.

The source said it’s “completely false” to suggest that Kaepernick has requested $9 million to $10 million per year.

Which makes the report that Kaepernick wants a chance to start and compensation in that range rooted in supposition or speculation or assumption that has morphed, perhaps via repetition, into perceived fact. And it’s in the interests of the teams that have ignored him individually and the league collectively to embrace that narrative, in order to push back against the perception that Kaepernick has been shunned for non-football reasons.

Whether he has or hasn’t been shunned for non-football reasons, embracing the idea that he has made demands that would price him out of potential spots presumes that teams would be interested in him at a lower price. Absent evidence that teams that already have signed quarterbacks actually explored what Kaepernick wants, the report seems to be nothing more than an effort to get people to quit suggesting that Kaepernick has been blackballed.

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Report: Tony Romo “distancing himself” from Cowboys teammates

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Tony Romo gave an emotional statement to the media when he returned to the active roster last season and said that he realized it was Dak Prescott’s time in Dallas.

He reportedly has some other feelings about the way things have gone down in Big D. Jane Slater of NFL Media reports that Romo has “distanced himself” from teammates and coaches who he feels were pro-Prescott and has taken the team’s turn away from him as the quarterback of the present and future “very personally.” Per Slater, Romo feels “his team was taken from him.”

It’s understandable that Romo wouldn’t feel as rosy about the change in quarterbacks in Dallas as he suggested last season, especially if he feels he can still play well and should have had a chance to compete to get the job back this offseason. The notion that the Cowboys are “his team” is a tougher one to wrap your head around as Romo’s been around the NFL long enough to know that the team belongs to the guys writing the checks and that their decisions aren’t always going to be in line with the wishes of the guys in the uniforms.

That said, the report provides more reason to think that it would be better for everyone involved in Dallas to finally complete the drawn out breakup with Romo. Outside of Prescott suffering a catastrophic injury in the offseason, there’s no upside to the Cowboys waiting to let Romo pursue other opportunities outside of Dallas because they’ve made it clear they’ve moved on at quarterback.

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Nevada businessman plans a Raiders-themed brothel

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Just sin, baby.

The Raiders’ upcoming move to Las Vegas is being greeted with open arms — or something — by one enterprising Nevada businessman.

According to Mick Akers of the Las Vegas Sun, Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof announced plans to open a Raiders-themed establishment called “Pirate’s Booty.”

“I’ve had a license for a seventh brothel near Las Vegas for some time now, but I was waiting for the right time to launch another house of debauchery,” Hof said. “The Raiders coming to Vegas will mean big business for me, so my next sex den will honor the ‘Men in Black’ and their ‘Raider Nation.’”

(In a related note, Hall of Famer and former Raider Warren Sapp is plotting a comeback as we speak.)

The house of ill repute will be 90 miles outside of Las Vegas in Crystal.  Hof said Raiders players and staff will get 50 percent off at his establishments, and there will be a VIP section at staffed with “over 20 cheerleader-garbed working girls.”

So now, at least someone other than fans in Oakland will be getting, … oh, never mind.

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Oakland councilman wants Raiders out now

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The Raiders are headed to Las Vegas after Monday’s 31-1 vote by NFL owners to approve their relocation for the 2020 season.

That leaves three seasons for the Raiders to play elsewhere and team owner Mark Davis suggested after the vote that the Raiders could stay at the Oakland Coliseum for all of that time. The team has options on their lease for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, but Oakland Councilman Larry Reid hopes to take those options away.

Reid said Monday that he’s started talking to attorneys for the city to see if there’s a way to ship the Raiders out of town ahead of schedule.

“I don’t want them here,” Reid said, via the East Bay Times. “They can go down to Santa Clara and play.”

Davis said Monday that the team would issue refunds to any fans who have put down deposits on 2017 season tickets. If Reid has his way, they’ll be issuing them to everyone.

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Hue Jackson: Browns haven’t discussed Colin Kaepernick

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The Brows are searching for their franchise quarterback, but that search has not included Colin Kaepernick.

Browns coach Hue Jackson said today that the Browns haven’t discussed signing Kaepernick, although he didn’t rule it out in the future.

“We haven’t really discussed Colin,” Jackson said. “There’s other players at this point that we’ve had a lot of conversations about to see if we can put them on our team. Not saying it won’t come up later on. You have to exhaust everything. But at this point he hasn’t come up.”

Jackson said that in 2011, when he was head coach of the Raiders, he would have liked to have drafted Kaepernick, who went to the 49ers in the second round that year.

“Yes, I did. When I was in Oakland I did, no question,” Jackson said when asked if he liked Kaepernick coming out of college. “And I’m not saying I don’t now. I just think the situation we’re in right now, the players we’ve evaluated thus far to this point, those are the guys we’re going to spend our time with first. If that doesn’t fall right, there’s still other players.”

That’s not exactly shutting the door on Kaepernick, but it sure doesn’t sound like the Browns are particularly interested, either.

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Chris Long signs with Eagles

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After winning the Super Bowl with the Patriots, defensive end Chris Long said that he wouldn’t be returning to New England for a second season.

Long cited a desire to play a more prominent role on defense than he did down the stretch for the Patriots as the reason for moving on and we now know where he’ll be vying for that kind of playing time. Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that Long has agreed to a contract with the Eagles.

Long will likely take on a fair number of the snaps that Connor Barwin played at defensive end last season. Barwin was released earlier this offseason and wound up signing with the Rams, who once employed Long although their defensive scheme has changed and will allow Barwin to move back to outside linebacker.

Long had 35 tackles and four sacks for the Patriots in the regular season last year.

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Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota out of boot, expects to be ready for camp

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Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is out of the walking boot, and planning on being 100 percent by the time training camp starts.

Mariota told KHON2 in Hawaii that going home to work on his rehab (as well as doing part of the work in Oregon) has been beneficial to him as he recovers from last year’s broken leg.

“The opportunity to come home, to relax, to see family, to hang out with friends, to enjoy some of the sun and the beach, it really rejuvenates me,” Mariota said, via the Tennessean. “It gives me an opportunity to get healthy mentally along with getting healthy physically. With all the eyes and ears that I’ve kind of had around me, this process has been really good and I’m in a good spot.”

Mariota said his recovery from the Dec. 24 injury was a bit ahead of schedule, and that he’s been running on the beach.

He said he planned to return to Tennessee in late May, at which point he’ll decide if he’ll be able to take part in any of the OTAs.

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It’s time to fix the overtime rule (and not by chopping it to 10 minutes)

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As the league’s owners gather in Arizona to consider potential rule changes, one proposal that will soon be on the table would reduce overtime in the regular season for 15 minutes to 10.

Here’s some free advice for the owners (money-back guarantee): Don’t do it.

It definitely will result in more ties, and that’s the last thing fans want. Yes, it’s important to reduce the total number of snaps, and a 10-minute overtime would do that. But an uptick in ties will be good for no one.

Fans (and coaches and players) want resolution. Investing more than 3.5 hours and ending up with an 0-0-1 on the regular-season record of two teams won’t provide it.

So here’s the proposal that the owners should adopt, in a nutshell: A two-point conversion contest.

One offense and defense goes to one end of the field, and the other offense and defense go to the other end of the field. A two-point conversion attempt occurs at each end of the field, three times per team, with either two points or zero points being scored. To keep things moving along, the snaps occur 25 seconds apart. (The officiating crew would be split, with four on one end of the field and four on the other end.)

If the game is tied after each team has three chances to score, the teams go back and forth, one chance each, until there’s no tie after both teams have had their chance to score.

It would be exciting, frenetic, compelling, and it would involve as few as six extra snaps. And we’ve yet to hear a good argument against it.

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Report: Jason Witten agrees to four-year extension with Cowboys

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In February, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said he wasn’t sure how much longer he wanted to continue playing and that he thought the best approach was to “just go into it and look at it one year at a time.”

Witten’s view appears to have changed pretty dramatically over the last few weeks. Todd Archer of reports that Witten has agreed to a four-year extension with the Cowboys that will keep him under contract through the 2021 season.

The desire for the Cowboys to have Witten on hand beyond 2017 comes as little surprise given how much he’s meant to the team’s offense. The length of the deal for a player who turns 35 in May does more to raise the eyebrows, although the details of the pact will be enlightening as to its impact on the team’s overall salary cap picture.

In the short term, it will likely lower Witten’s 2017 cap hit from the current $12.262 million, giving them a bit more to spend elsewhere as they build for the coming season.

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NFL says Raiders vote not a message to Buffalo about stadium

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Last June, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the Bills “have to stay up with” other teams in the league in terms of their stadium in what seemed like a suggestion that it was time for the team to move forward with a push for a stadium to replace New Era Field.

Giants co-owner John Mara sent similar vibes earlier in 2016 when he said the Bills would need a new stadium to keep pace financially with others in the league. It didn’t take much to remember both sets of comments as 31 of the league’s owners (including Terry and Kim Pegula) voted to approve the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas. That adds up to three teams moving in a relatively short span of time after failing to secure new stadiums, but NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said there was no message for Buffalo to take away from the vote, however.

“This certainly is not intended to send any message and I don’t believe anyone should take any message in it,” Grubman said. “Buffalo’s fans are legendary and ranked right up there with the greatest fans in the NFL. Ownership there is evaluating their options and those options are very long-term in nature. I don’t want to speak for them, but I think you can see, by virtue of the fact that they’re not waiting and have done work on the stadium already, that they care about their fans and they care about Buffalo.”

Direct message or not, the stadium issue has been on the table in Buffalo for several years now and the team is going to step up the push for a new building sooner or later. Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News quotes a league source that says the Pegulas “want the team to have some success” before putting out their palms for public money, but the team’s current lease is up in 2022 so the conversation is coming.

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