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Meddling owner puts Jets in an awkward spot

Rex Ryan, Woody Johnson AP

The man who claims he had no role in the decision to trade for quarterback Tim Tebow is now reportedly pulling the strings on a trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Jets owner Woody Johnson, who apparently doesn’t want to be perceived a meddler, definitely isn’t afraid to meddle.

Otherwise, Johnson wouldn’t want anything when it comes to Tebow, Revis, or any other player other than what the employees he has hired to handle football matters want.  If new G.M. John Idzik decides it makes sense to move Revis as he enters the final year of a contract that will void if Revis is on the roster the day after next year’s Super Bowl, then that’s what Woody should want.  If Idzik decides otherwise, that’s what Woody should want.

Are we still surprised they couldn’t give the job away?

A trade during the offseason won’t be easy.  Revis is recovering from a torn ACL.  There’s no way to know whether he’ll be the same guy that he was until he’s back on the field.  While Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was better than ever after an ACL tear, Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth never was the same again — and ultimately retired.

If the goal is maximizing the return, the Jets should keep working Revis back to 100 percent, hope he comes back as good (or better) than ever, then dangle him before the trade deadline during the 2013 season to a contending team.  Of course, that approach could create an unwanted in-season distraction, especially if the Jets end up being better than expected next year.

The problem is that, now that the cat is reportedly out of the bag, Revis and his agents will look for clarity from the Jets.  And anyone who trades for him won’t want to give what the Jets will want without protection against Revis walking away next February.

Then there’s the cap hit.  While the Jets would avoid $6 million that is owed to Revis in 2013 ($3 million base salary, $1 million reporting bonus, $1 million roster bonus, $1 million workout bonus), they’ll carry a $3 million charge for his 2011 option bonus and absorb a $6 million cap acceleration if he is traded before June 1.

In other words, for a pre-June 1 trade, he’ll cost $9 million against the cap whether he’s on the team or not.

After June 1, the cap hit would drop to $3 million in 2013, with another $6 million applying to the cap in 2014.

There’s no easy solution to this one, especially now that the plans are supposedly known.  At least it will add some spice to Idzik’s introductory press conference, which has been scheduled for Thursday morning.

Maybe he’ll make like Rex and hop a plane to the Bahamas instead.  With an owner who seems to want to be the G.M., it would be hard to blame Idzik.

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NFL V.P. of security Jeffrey Miller resigns

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The man who has been charge of NFL Security for nearly a decade is moving on.

Per multiple sources, NFL V.P. of security Jeffrey Miller has resigned. The NFL has confirmed that Miller is leaving.

“He informed the league last month that he was going to take a job on the West Coast with a private security firm,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “He worked the draft, will work at the league meeting and subsequent training session. He will leave the NFL next month.”

As one source put it, the move has nothing to do with performance, and it wasn’t initiated by the league. “This guy is awesome, really competent,” the source said.

Miller has taken a position that will allow him to move to the West Coast. He joined the league in 2008, after serving as Pennsylvania’s state police commissioner.

Plenty of scrutiny came Miller’s way in 2014, after the Ray Rice elevator video surfaced the day after the regular-season opener. The Associated Press reported in September 2014 that the video had been sent to Miller before it surfaced at An independent investigation found no evidence that Miller or anyone else had received the video.

The NFL has not decided on a replacement, according to one source with knowledge of the situation.

For clarity, the Jeffrey Miller who is leaving the NFL runs security. The Jeff Miller who serves as executive V.P. of player health and safety remains on the job.

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Falcons, first-rounder Keanu Neal agree to terms


Four 2016 draft picks are now under contract. Only one was a first-round pick.

Falcons safety Keanu Neal, the 17th overall selection in the draft, has agreed to terms on the standard four-year deal, with a fifth year option to be exercised by May 3, 2019. The contract will be signed Thursday.

Per a league source, Neal told the Falcons he wanted to focus on getting ready to play football and not on negotiating a contract. So the two sides got the deal done quickly, and Neal is now under contract for all offseason activities.

The move proves that all draft picks can — and should — be signed before they report for offseason workouts. Otherwise, they’re working out for free.

Neal played college football at Florida, entered the draft after three seasons of college football. At age 20, he’s one of the youngest players in the entire draft class.

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Vikings get Mackensie Alexander under contract

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 28:  Mackensie Alexander #2 of the Clemson Tigers reacts after breaking up a pass against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Vikings were the first team to sign its entire draft class in 2015 and they are pushing to finish first in 2016 as well.

The latest pick to agree to terms is cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who, per multiple reports, will formally sign his contract with the Vikings on Thursday. Seventh-round defensive end Stephen Weatherly is also expected to sign Thursday and the team has already agreed to deals with their other seventh-rounder and both of their sixth-round picks.

With those five players done, the Vikings only have to wrap up deals with first-round wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, fourth-round offensive lineman Willie Beavers and fifth-round linebacker Kentrell Brothers to have the entire class under contract.

Alexander got some buzz as a potential first-round pick after wrapping up his career at Clemson, where he played with Vikings seventh-round pick Jayron Kearse. He lasted until the 54th overall pick, however, and the Vikings are expected to start him out as a backup to slot corner Captain Munnerlyn. Munnerlyn can be a free agent after the season, which should leave Alexander wit the job if he earns the staff’s trust as a rookie.

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Teammate says Blaine Gabbert is taking control of 49ers’ offense

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 08:  Blaine Gabbert #2 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after being tackled close to the goal line during the first half of their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Levi's Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. The ball was ruled down on the 1-yard line and the 49ers scored on the next play.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick is throwing again in the 49ers’ offseason program, but that doesn’t mean he’s the guy running the show in the offense.

Instead, it’s Blaine Gabbert, who usurped Kaepernick as the 49ers’ starting quarterback last season, who has taken charge.

He’s definitely taking control,” tight end Garrett Celek said of Gabbert, via “Whoever’s at quarterback needs to take control and be our leader out there. And he’s definitely doing that. He’s making good decisions on the field. I think he’s definitely developing more and more as the days go on. But, right now, we’re all in the same boat learning this offense.”

Despite widespread talk of a Kaepernick trade, from all appearances he will remain in San Francisco and compete with Gabbert for the starting job. Last year Gabbert finished the season ahead of Kaepernick on the depth chart, and while Kaepernick eases back into work following multiple offseason surgeries, he may have a hard time moving back ahead of Gabbert and into the starting job.

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Manziel’s college coach sees lack of contact as “a little unnerving”

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Some have suggested that quarterback Johnny Manziel’s best chance of getting back into the NFL would happen only if his former coach at Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin, were to jump to the next level. But Manziel could be burning that bridge, too.

Sumlin recently told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM in Phoenix that he has been unable to contact Manziel.

“I had texted him a couple of times and given him a call but haven’t got a return back,” Sumlin said. “So from that standpoint it’s a little unnerving. But there’s gonna come a time where he’s ready to communicate. . . . Our concern is for his well-being, and has nothing to do with football and has everything to do with life. It’s important that he knows that.”

Sumlin said he last saw Manziel at former Aggies teammate Mike Evans‘ wedding, in February.

Manziel has, by all appearances, changed nothing since being cut by the Browns and then fired by agent Drew Rosenhaus. Last Friday night, Manziel fired off a defiant rant on Twitter, making it clear that he has no intent to make the changes that many close to him believe are necessary.

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Rams draft pick Tyler Higbee scheduled to be arraigned Thursday

BOWLING GREEN, KY - DECEMBER 5:  Tyler Higbee #82 of the WKU Hilltoppers catches a pass while being defended in the first half by Devonta Foster #15 of the Souther Miss Golden Eagle at Houchens-Smith Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Rams will open their rookie minicamp on Friday, but one of their draft picks has a little business to conduct in a Kentucky courtroom on Thursday before getting on the field with his new team.

Tight end Tyler Higbee had his name called in the fourth round last Saturday despite an arrest earlier in April on second-degree assault, second-degree evading police and public intoxication charges. Higbee is set to be arraigned on those charges Thursday and his lawyer Brian Lowder told USA Today that his client will be pleading not guilty.

“He’s in good spirits and is excited about the opportunity to play with the Rams,” Lowder said.

Higbee, who went to Western Kentucky, struck Nawaf Alsaleh outside a Bowling Green club on April 10 and knocked him unconscious. Higbee admitted hitting the man, but, per the police report, said “the victim had been getting close to his girlfriend and getting close to him and stuck his head in Higbee’s face.”

Higbee’s lawyer has said they plan to argue self-defense and also denied that his client used racial taunts before striking the other man, although he told police he said “watch out, Haji” after hitting Alsaleh.

After the team picked Higbee, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said, via, that the team researched the incident and wouldn’t have picked Higbee if “we had some concerns that it was going to be a problem down the line.”

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Linebacker Michael Wilhoite re-ups with 49ers for another year

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Fullback Kyle Juszczyk #44 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite #57 of the San Francisco 49ers after a five-yard catch during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on October 18, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 49ers might have plenty of uncertainty at quarterback, but they’ve quietly put together a very solid defensive front seven, and they got part of that group under contract.

The team announced that restricted free agent linebacker Michael Wilhoite had signed his one-year contract.

The 49ers found him playing for the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL in 2011, and he’s gradually worked his way up from the practice squad to have become a regular part of the rotation, breaking into the lineup because of injuries but performing well once he got the chance.

With first-rounders spent on linemen Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner the last two years, they’re building a solid group up front on defense.

Of course, now that they’re playing for Chip Kelly, they’re going to have to be deep, as they’re going to play a lot more snaps than they have in the past.

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McCloughan: Vernon Davis is still an “explosive,” “genetic freak”


One of the more overlooked moves of free agency came when one of the more overlooked veteran players reunited with the guy who was involved in drafting him a decade ago.

Former 49ers (and Broncos) tight end Vernon Davis signed with Washington, where former 49ers V.P. of player personnel Scot McCloughan now serves as General Manager. Appearing earlier this week on PFT Live, McCloughan explained the thought process behind adding Davis to the team’s offense.

“I brought him in to sit down and just talk with him,” McCloughan said. “Make sure he still had the passion and the energy to play. I wish you could see him on the practice field because Phase Two [of the offseason program] started [Monday]. He’s the same guy, he’s explosive as all get out, he’s smiling, he’s gonna be all right and he’s back home. He’s from here he’s very excited. He’s a genetic freak. He’s one of those guys that’s never been hurt, he’s 32 and he looks like when I drafted him, the same guy. I mean, he’s ripped. It’s amazing. He’s got his speed and quickness still. People downplay it, but he’s a good blocker, too.”

With ascending young tight end Jordan Reed on the roster (who seems to be open on almost every play) Davis will give the Washington offense a powerful extra piece if he plays like he did during his best days with the 49ers.

Still, McCloughan’s assessment of Davis makes his disappearing act in Denver even more confusing. He had one catch on December 20 against the Steelers and, thereafter, not a single reception through the final gun of Super Bowl 50.

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Cardinals coach Bruce Arians: “This will be my last job”

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 09:  NFL coach Bruce Arians (L) and NFL player Larry Firzgerald attend Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XXII at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa on April 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Celebrity Fight Night) Getty Images

Part of the reason Bruce Arians seems to be enjoying himself so much is that he’s been liberated from worrying about the future.

Having been through so many moves and coaching changes in his career, the 63-year-old Arians has a rare sense of self-awareness about his current situation, which allows him to appreciate the moment he’s in.

“You never know how long this will last,” Arians told Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. “There’s the old saying, there’s two kinds of coaches, ones that are fired and others who are going to get fired. You just enjoy every day. Right now, it’s the highlight of it.

“There will be lowlights, we know that. But I’m enjoying every single day. This will be my last job.”

Arians could probably retire to Vegas and do two shows a night whenever he feels the urge, but for now, he’s enjoying the work that got him to this point, which cranks back up with a rookie minicamp this weekend.

“I love this weekend because there’s going to be two or three surprises of undrafted rookies or guys we invited for a tryout,” Arians said. “Last year, we signed three guys who were tryout guys. [Quarterback] Phillip Sims made it all the way to almost our football team. That part’s really fun. Then slide them in with the vets next week.

“It seems like we just stepped off the practice field. But, man, there is a different sense of purpose in watching our players come to work every day. We’ve always had great participation. We’ve always had fun doing it, but there’s a sense of purpose, in the weight room, the meeting room. Even Buddy Morris, our strength coach, said, “something’s different.” You can feel it.”

Arians’ own “cool uncle” style is doubtless part of the reason they’ve been able to create that feeling, but the wins on the field have helped turn around a franchise that’s now among the most stable in the league.

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Vikings sign two more draft picks

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 10: Jayron Kearse #1 of the Clemson Tigers reacts after making a tackle during the game against the Georgia tech Yellow Jackets at Memorial Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Moritz Boehringer became the first member of the 2016 draft class to sign a contract when he agreed to his four-year rookie deal with the Vikings this week, but the first player drafted directly from Europe will not be alone for long.

The Vikings have also agreed to deals with two of his teammates less than a week after they were drafted. According to multiple reports, sixth-round tight end David Morgan has agreed to his deal and Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press reports that seventh-round safety Jayron Kearse’s contract is also done.

Morgan had 85 catches for 1,104 yards and eight touchdowns during his career at Texas-San Antonio, but his likeliest path to playing time in the short term will come as a blocker. Kearse, who is the nephew of former Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse, was a starter for two years at Clemson and, like most seventh-round picks, will have to do well on special teams to stick on the roster.

The Vikings have five other draft picks to sign and the current CBA is structured so that they shouldn’t have much difficulty getting any of the deals done.

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Reggie McKenzie: DeAndre Washington more than just a third-down back

Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington (21) steps out of a tackle by Texas defensive back Duke Thomas (21) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas) AP

Running back Latavius Murray ran for 1,066 yards last season and went to the Pro Bowl, so it’s fair to say that his first full year as the lead back in Oakland was a successful one.

One thing that the Raiders would like to improve is keeping Murray’s production at a high level across the entire season. After rushing for 4.8 yards per carry in the first half, Murray dropped to 3.3 yards per carry in the second half of the year. They boosted the offensive line by signing guard Kelechi Osemele, which should help the entire offense, and General Manager Reggie McKenzie believes the team got a back in the fifth round who can help keep Murray fresh.

DeAndre Washington is built similarly to Darren Sproles and was used frequently as a receiver at Texas Tech, which seemed to put him on track for a role on third downs in the NFL. McKenzie thinks Washington can do more, however.

“We think he’s a complete back, and when he gets out in space, he can make you look silly.” McKenzie said on 95.7 The Game, via the team’s website. “He can catch the ball, but he can run between the tackles as well as well as bouncing it outside. We think he’s the total package as a runner. We really like him.”

Taiwan Jones, Roy Helu and George Atkinson are the other backs on the roster and none of them proved to be a complement for Murray last season, so the team may need to look outside should Washington fall short of McKenzie’s expectations in the coming months.

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Bills say they’re “very comfortable” with Manuel as their backup

EJ Manuel

It’s been a rough year for Bills quarterback EJ Manuel: He came in third in the training camp battle with Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassel last year, the Bills went 0-2 in the games Manuel started, the team declined to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract, and he got more competition when Cardale Jones was drafted.

But the team still says it’s confident in Manuel if he has to play this season.

Bills General Manager Doug Whaley says he’s “very comfortable” with Manuel, adding that Manuel is one of the league’s top backup quarterbacks, according to the Buffalo News.

By waiting until the end of the fourth round to draft a quarterback and taking a project like Jones rather than a quarterback viewed as ready to play right away, Whaley has shown that the Bills appear comfortable going with Manuel as No. 2 behind Taylor on the depth chart. Last year, the games when they had to turn to Manuel didn’t work out too well. Perhaps this year will be different, but the Bills have to be hoping right now that Taylor will start 16 games.

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Former Tunsil business manager/financial adviser becomes main suspect in hacking case


The true villain in the Laremy Tunsil draft-night free fall continues to be the person who accessed his social media accounts and posted damaging information with the obvious intent to spark a slide. Tunsil’s camp eventually could figure out who did it.

Via ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Tunsil’s attorney and agent are investigating a former business manager/financial adviser to determine the role, if any, that he had in the smear campaign.

Per the report, Tunsil hired the business manager/financial adviser in October 2015. Among other things, the person scheduled agent meetings with Tunsil and potential agents.

Tunsil later fired the person after learning that he wasn’t registered with the NFL Players Association as a financial adviser. The man, who was not named by ESPN, reportedly gave Tunsil a new phone in October. Persons close to Tunsil think the former business manager/financial adviser may have accessed Tunsil’s account by using Tunsil’s old phone.

Criminal charges and/or a civil lawsuit haven’t been ruled out. An FBI spokesman in Mississippi told ESPN that his office has not yet been contacted to investigate.

Under the Stored Communications Act, the person who accessed Tunsil’s social media accounts could face up to 10 years in prison, along with more than $7 million in liability arising from the slide that occurred after the Ravens reportedly decided not to select Tunsil due to the video.

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Justin Tuck to sign one-day deal so he can retire a Giant

Justin Tuck AP

The Giants are going to sign another impact pass-rusher, but this one isn’t going to get a giant signing bonus.

According to Dan Graziano of, longtime NFL defensive end Justin Tuck will sign a one-day contract with the Giants and retire as a member of his original team.

Tuck spent the last two seasons in Oakland after a cash-grab there, but announced his retirement in February.

The ceremonial deal will bring his career full-circle. He had 60.5 sacks in nine seasons with the Giants. His two years in Oakland were less productive, and a torn pectoral muscle contributed to his decision to step away.

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Matt Slauson lines up visits with Chargers, Bills

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 20:  Matt Slauson #68 of the Chicago Bears on the sidelines during the first quarter of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field on September 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  The Arizona Cardinals won 48-23.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears released guard Matt Slauson last Sunday and it hasn’t taken long for the first report about visits with other teams to surface.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that Slauson is scheduled to visit with the Chargers and Bills. Slauson will find familiar faces in each stop.

The Chargers hired Dave DeGuglielmo as an assistant offensive line coach this offseason and Slauson worked with DeGuglielmo when he was the Jets’ offensive line coach in 2012. The Chargers have D.J. Fluker and Orlando Franklin at guard and added Donavon Clark in the seventh round of the draft.

DeGuglielmo was on Rex Ryan’s staff with the Jets and, as most are certainly aware, Ryan is now the head coach of the Bills. Mike Rodak of reports that the Bills are looking at Slauson as an option at right tackle, where Jordan Mills, Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson could also be in the mix.

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