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Short list of defensive coordinator candidates in Philly possibly sends bad message

Todd Grantham AP

Typically, an NFL team hires a head coach who then hires his staff.  Sometimes (like in Oakland, when Al Davis owned the team), the team hires members of the staff before hiring the head coach.

Rarely does that approach work.

And so there’s another possible red flag when it comes to the Eagles’ ongoing search for a coach.  An item posted on the team’s official website points to reports regarding the leading candidates to become the team’s next defensive coordinator:  Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham (pictured) and Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

This creates the obvious impression that folks other than the next coach will be deciding who may be on the staff.  Really, at a time when it’s unclear who the next coach will be, why should there by any favorites to become the next defensive coordinator?

It’s possible that the leading candidates for defensive coordinator are tied to specific candidates for the head-coaching job.  Quinn, for example, has worked for Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.  Grantham has no obvious ties to any known candidates for the job, but it’s possible that, for example, Brian Billick or Ken Whisenhunt would want him.

Still, the idea that there’s an even narrower field of leading candidates for defensive coordinator than there is for the head-coaching job contributes to the unintended but palpable sense of confusion surrounding the Eagles’ head-coaching job, a sense that began with a trio of failed flirtations with current college coaches.

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Jameis Winston to work out for Titans after pro day

Jameis Winston, Al-Quadin Muhammad AP

The Buccaneers are expected to make Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston the first pick of the 2015 draft, but nothing has been set in stone at this point.

As a result, the Titans, who own the second overall selection, will be doing their due diligence when it comes to evaluating the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner.

General Manager Ruston Webster said during an appearance on The Midday 180 on 104.5 The Zone Monday that the team will put through Winston through his paces in a private workout after he goes through drills as part of his pro day on Tuesday. Webster, coach Ken Whisenhunt and other members of the offensive staff are expected to make the trip to see Winston.

Even if the chances of Winston being available with the second pick are infinitesimal, it is in the team’s best interests to know everything about him ahead of the draft. They’ve already worked out Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota as they potentially move toward picking a rookie quarterback to join Zach Mettenberger and Charlie Whitehurst on the team’s depth chart.

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Mike McCarthy: Packers’ approach to free agency is like Groundhog Day

Mike McCarthy AP

Much like Bill Murray in Punxsutawney, Packers coach Mike McCarthy feels like he keeps having the same conversations at the annual NFL meetings, over and over again.

McCarthy said that every year at the league meeting he gets asked why the Packers aren’t more active in free agency, and every year he says the same thing.

“We obviously have a philosophy,” McCarthy said, via TheMMQB.com. “It’s kind of like Groundhog Day. I feel like I answer this every year, so I’ll try to be creative and answer it differently this year. But it’s just the way we operate. We do the evaluations. We just stick to our plan. Our number one priority always has been to sign our own free agents. We go into every offseason—if we have 10 conversations, nine-and-a-half of them are about our own guys.”

All the Packers have done this year is sign their own guys: Green Bay is the only team in the NFL that hasn’t signed away a free agent from another team this offseason.

But that approach works well for the Packers, who have made the playoffs five years in a row. If you draft well, you can focus on re-signing your own players and not worry about breaking the bank to attract free agents from other teams. That’s what the Packers do, over and over again.

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Not only is there interest in Matt Schaub, he has a visit lined up

Houston Texans v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

Much like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expected the Matt Schaub market to heat up quite as it has.

Now, there may even be a leader in the clubhouse.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, Schaub is expected to visit the Ravens early this week.

The Jets and Falcons have also shown some interest in the 33-year-old quarterback, along with the Cowboys and Titans.

There was once a time when Schaub was actually a good quarterback, but after losing his mojo in Houston, he floundered through a stint in Oakland, but was cut after the Raiders signed Christian Ponder (roll that around in your head for a moment).

The Ravens could use a veteran backup, as Keith Wenning’s their only other option at the moment, after losing Tyrod Taylor to the Bills.

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Eagles extend DeMeco Ryans through 2016 season

Philadelphia Eagles v Houston Texans Getty Images

There may be questions about how effective linebacker DeMeco Ryans will be upon his return from the torn Achilles that ruined his 2014 season, but there’s no doubt that the Eagles want to keep him around.

The Eagles haven’t wavered from their public statements that they want to hold onto the veteran inside linebacker and they went a bit further on Monday by announcing a contract extension that extends Ryans’s pact with the team through the 2016 season. No financial terms were part of the announcement, but Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the deal is designed to give the team more cap space this season by lowering Ryans’s salary from the $6.9 million he was set to receive.

Ryans joins Kiko Alonso as inside linebackers in Philly recovering from season-ending injuries. If both are healthy in time for the season, the team will have a bit of a logjam at the position with Mychal Kendricks, Emmanuel Acho, Najee Goode and new addition Brad Jones also on hand. Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com suggested recently that Kendricks could be a trade chip with the draft approaching, although there’s been no sign that a deal is something the team is actively pursuing.

Ryans had 45 tackles and an interception in eight starts for the Eagles in 2014 and had started every game of the previous three seasons for Philadelphia and Houston.

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Chiefs meeting with free agent center Tim Barnes

Baltimore Ravens v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

The Chiefs are in need of some help at center with Rodney Hudson making the move to Oakland as a free agent and they’re meeting with a candidate on Monday.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Tim Barnes is visiting with the team after playing in 45 games for Missouri’s other NFL outfit over the last three years.

Barnes didn’t see much action on offense for the Rams in 2014 as he played just a handful of snaps with Scott Wells remaining healthy. The Rams didn’t tender him as a restricted free agent despite parting ways with Wells in the offseason, which suggests they didn’t see much they liked in the four starts he made during the 2013 season.

That’s not really the pedigree of a surefire starting option, which would likely leave Barnes to compete with Eric Kush and/or others if he does sign with the Chiefs. Florida State product Cameron Erving could be a consideration for the Chiefs if they opt to add a center with the 18th pick in the first round.

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Ray Farmer’s suspension doesn’t really mean much

Ray Framer AP

Browns G.M. Ray Farmer will be suspended four weeks.  Not starting now, starting in Week One.

Which, apart from the financial penalty to Farmer (which may or may not be erased on the back end by owner Jimmy Haslam), makes the gesture meaningless.

By Week One, the roster is set and there’s not a whole lot of important decision-making for the chief football decision-maker to do.  Sure, the bottom of the roster constantly gets churned and, yes, a team like the the Colts may want to trade during the first four weeks of the regular season another first-round pick for a failed first-round pick on the Browns roster.  But there’s really not much for a G.M. to do in September that he can’t do from home.

Which is precisely what Farmer will do.  He’ll watch college football and conduct research on impending free agents and monitor the waiver wire and watch film that he carries out of the building before the suspension starts.  Absent round-the-clock monitoring aimed at ensuring Farmer spends the month sitting in a chair and staring off into space David Puddy-style, Farmer will still find a way to be productive.  He’ll just be required to keep his work product to himself until the suspension ends and he returns to the office.

Conversely, suspending him now would keep him out of the building in the key days and weeks prior to the draft, cutting him off from key preparatory efforts.

It’s ultimately the league’s call on when to start the suspension, but the timing results in a gigantic difference for Farmer and for the Browns.  Apart from suspending him from the end of the offseason program through the start of training camp, September is the best month on the calendar for a G.M. to be kept away from work.

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Demaryius Thomas won’t work out at Duke with Peyton Manning

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Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has worked out at Duke University with other members of the team in recent offseasons and plans are in place for him to do so again this year, but wide receiver Demaryius Thomas won’t be joining the group.

On Monday, Thomas, who has not signed the franchise tender the Broncos gave him before the start of free agency, told Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com that he won’t be part of the Duke trip this year. He also will not take part in the Broncos’ offseason program, which is usually the case for players who have received, but not signed, the franchise tag.

Thomas said that he has been working out in Atlanta while waiting for the contract situation to resolve itself.

“I’m getting getting my body right, still working through a little soreness in my Achilles, but I could run routes,” Thomas said.

Thomas will likely hold off on signing the tag until much closer to the July 15 deadline to reach agreement on a multi-year deal with Denver, something he told Legwold he remains hopeful about at this point in the offseason.

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Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain visiting the Patriots

Rolando McClain AP

The Cowboys took a flier on Rolando McClain last year when nobody wanted him.

And after a solid season as an injury replacement, the twice-retired linebacker has found some interest.

According to Todd Archer and Field Yates of ESPN, McClain is visiting the Patriots today.

The Cowboys had expressed some degree of interest in bringing him back, but as with most matters this offseason, weren’t eager to overspend to keep him.

McClain’s facing a four-game fine for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, but no suspension. But with that hanging over his head and his off-field adventures throughout his career, it’s natural that the market for him has been slow, regardless his play last year.

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Report: Jets, Falcons, Ravens among teams interested in Matt Schaub

mattschaub AP

Quarterback Matt Schaub has been out of work since being released by the Raiders and may find work with one of the teams he played with before heading to Oakland.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Falcons are among the teams interested in signing the veteran signal caller. Atlanta drafted Schaub in the third round of the 2004 draft and he spent three years with the team before being traded to the Texans. T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree currently make up the team’s depth chart behind Matt Ryan.

Schaub has also reportedly drawn interest from the Jets and Ravens. The Jets traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick to go with Geno Smith, which doesn’t leave a clear spot for Schaub on the roster while the Ravens are without a backup to Joe Flacco after parting ways with Tyrod Taylor this offseason.

Schaub threw 10 passes as a backup in Oakland last season and saw his time as a starter come to an end after a dismal 2013 season with the Texans.

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Chris Myers visiting Seahawks

Houston Texans v Denver Broncos Getty Images

The Seahawks traded last year’s starting center Max Unger to the Saints in the deal for tight end Jimmy Graham and they’re visiting with a potential replacement on Monday.

PFT has learned, via a league source, that Chris Myers is in Seattle for a visit. Myers was released by the Texans earlier this month.

Myers started every game for the Texans over the last seven seasons and has drawn reports of interest from other teams looking for a center without landing a new deal. The Seahawks have also been linked with former Raiders center Stefan Wisniewski, although Wisniewski’s offseason shoulder surgery makes him somewhat riskier as a plan for the starting job in 2015.

Signing Myers would give them a veteran option to use in the event that they can’t find a better one in the draft, which is something Seattle would still need to explore with Myers’s age making him a short-term solution at best.

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Panthers add running back/return man Jordan Todman

Jordan Todman AP

The Panthers continue to sift through the discard pile, and found another guy who can help them in an area of need.

The team announced they signed former Jacksonville running back Jordan Todman to a one-year deal.

Todman has had his moments as a back, but his value to the Panthers lies in his return ability, averaging 25.6 yards per attempt on kickoffs last year (the Panthers averaged 21.8 as a team last year).

“Jordan is a veteran running back who has had some success in this league,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said in the team released. “We think he has some return skills and we are always looking to be good in that area. At running back, he brings versatility. He is stout and physical enough to run the ball up inside, but he’s got the quickness and speed to get outside to the corner.”

The Jaguars didn’t tender him an offer this offseason, setting him free into the market. As a result, he won’t cost the Panthers anything in terms of next year’s comp pick formula, making it a risk-free add. They’ve made a number of those this offseason, including Friday’s waiver-claim of former Dolphins and 49ers tackle Jonathan Martin.

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Jimbo doesn’t understand why there is a question about Jameis

jimbojameis AP

Former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is widely expected to be the first overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, and there are few questions that he has the talent to be an NFL quarterback. But there are major questions about whether he has the character to be the face of a franchise.

At least, there are questions for many people. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher says that not only does he not think there are any questions about Winston, but he doesn’t even understand why anyone else has any questions.

“Why is there a question?” Fisher said on WDAE. “Because of the character assassination that he’s lived through in the media, and the misinformation that has been printed and half-truths that have been printed. What amazes me about this whole process is the unprofessionalism of a lot of major newspapers, a lot of major outlets that did not report the whole truth of the situation and only slanted it for their own opinion. And when you go through that you have to answer those questions. Jameis has great characte Did he make mistakes? Yes. Did he make silly mistakes? Yes. I mean, he’s still a 20-year-old kid.”

Does Fisher really not understand why there is a question about Winston’s character? I suspect he does, but just in case he doesn’t, I’m going to explain it to him: There’s a question about Winston’s character because a woman says he raped her.

That’s what all those questions about Winston’s character are about. The other stuff — the shoplifting of crab legs, the screaming of an inappropriate phrase on campus, an incident with a BB gun — that stuff doesn’t help. But that stuff is so trivial compared to a rape accusation that it’s hardly even worth mentioning.

The rape accusation is a real red flag, and it’s wrong for Fisher to pretend it’s not. The Tallahassee Police Department botched the investigation so thoroughly that prosecutors decided not to charge Winston because they said they couldn’t prove his guilt. But prosecutors found no reason to believe Winston’s accuser lied, either. The Winston case is not like the Duke Lacrosse case, in which the accused were eventually declared innocent. The Winston case is one in which we will probably never know for certain what happened. If Fisher really thinks Winston is innocent, the people he should be criticizing are the Tallahassee Police, whose sub-par investigation leaves very valid questions about Winston’s innocence or guilt.

If Fisher chooses to believe his player’s side of the story, he’s free to do so. But to claim that those who take seriously the accuser’s side of the story are engaged in “character assassination” is absurd.

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Arthur Blank says Falcons won’t appeal noise ruling

arthurblank AP

Not only did the Falcons identify the culprit in their noise violation and fire him, they’ve also apologized for his actions.

In a statement released by the team, Falcons owner Arthur Blank was contrite (or as contrite as you can be in a statement released by the team).

“What took place was wrong and nowhere near the standards by which we run our business,” Blank said. “Anytime there are actions that compromise the integrity of the NFL or threaten the culture of our franchise, as this issue did, they will be dealt with swiftly and strongly.”

“The league conducted a thorough investigation of this matter, and we cooperated fully. We understand the penalties imposed and their impact on our team, and we will not appeal the league’s decisions. Further, we have addressed the matter internally and taken actions to ensure that something like this does not happen again.

“The Falcons and all of our other businesses are built upon a foundation of values that drive our decision making. This issue was a clear failure in that regard. I apologize for any embarrassment this situation has caused the NFL, our fans, and our Falcons players and associates.”

While losing a 2016 fifth-round penalty and $350,000 hurts the team at certain levels, it’s also convenient to have a lone wolf to pin it on.

Former director of event marketing Roddy White, who lost his job two weeks ago as a result of the incident, took the hit.

Team president Rich McKay won’t get to take part in any of the competition committee fun for a few months, but the team can now move forward, a little lighter in the wallet and short the ability to draft a backup guard next year.

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NFL identifies former Falcons marketing exec as noise villain

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Well, now we know who the real asswhole in Atlanta is.

In the statement released by NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent on the Falcons losing a 2016 fifth-rounder and being fined $350,000, the league has pointed a finger at former Falcons director of event marketing Roddy White (not their wide receiver of the same name, a longtime friend of PFT).

Vincent’s statement says White “was directly responsible for the violation,” and “would have been suspended without pay for the first eight weeks of the 2015 regular season had he still been with the club.” It adds that if White gets another job in the league, he “may be required to serve some or all of this suspension.”

White was fired by the Falcons two weeks ago, and a league source says it was because of this incident, which seemed apparent.

The statement also points out that Falcons president Rich McKay was not aware of the violation, but should have been (since he’s the guy in charge). That’s why he was suspended from the league’s competition committee beginning April 1, and may apply for reinstatement to that post no sooner than June 30.

That takes McKay out of the mix for the May meeting, at which point there may be a proposal about extra points, among other things.

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Falcons lose a 2016 fifth-rounder, fined $350,000

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

A lot of the chatter around the Scouting Combine was that the Falcons were going to be hit hard for piping in artificial crowd noise.

Either the league successfully scared a bunch of people by their piping in of saber-rattling noises, or a lot of people define “hard” differently.

According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, the Falcons will lose a fifth-round pick in 2016 and be fined $350,000 for their admitted infraction.

I mean, that’s a lot of money to you and me. (I wonder how many fixed cameras $350,000 will buy?)

And to be certain, no team likes losing a pick.

But that’s hardly harsh justice, and hardly commensurate with the kind of hand-wringing folks were doing about it previously.

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