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Adrian Peterson takes home league MVP award

Vikings running back Peterson celebrates touchdown during NFL football game against Packers in Minneapolis Reuters

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been named as the NFL’s most valuable player.

Peterson earned the MVP award over Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning after receiving 30.5 of the 50 votes by an Associated Press panel of NFL writers. Manning was the only other player to receive votes with 19.5.

Peterson had one of the more remarkable seasons in NFL history. Just eight months after tearing his ACL in a game last December, Peterson managed to put together one of the best seasons ever by a running back. Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns and came just eight yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record.

Peterson started all 16 games for the Vikings and helped carry them to a postseason berth. Minnesota finished the season 10-6 after winning just three games in 2011. Peterson ran for 150 yards or more in a game seven times this season. Peterson also caught 40 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown.

Peterson also earned the offensive player of the year award Saturday night. Peterson is the third Vikings player to win the MVP award joining quarterback defensive tackle Alan Page (1971) and quarterback Fran Tarkenton (1975).

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City, county uniting in effort to keep Chargers

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In the Bay Area, the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda have come together in an effort to keep the Raiders in town.  In the southern end of the state, the city and county of San Diego likewise are joining forces to try to retain the Chargers.

Via Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Thursday that the two governmental entities will work together in an effort to device a solution to the stadium situation.

“This partnership helps make it official, that the entire San Diego region is united,” Faulconer said.  “We are coming together, and there is real progress that is being made.”

But making progress and reaching the goal are two different things.  With Faulconer determined to put any proposal to a public vote (a simple majority is necessary if the project requires no public money; if taxpayer funds are involved, two thirds of the voters must approve the measure), the project necessarily will take time — perhaps more time than the Chargers currently have to make a decision on whether they’ll leave San Diego.

And the buzz at the league meetings was clear and unmistakable.  The Chargers believe San Diego has had more than enough time to fix this problem, and that any effort now is simply too little and too late.

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More countries could be hosting regular-season games

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The NFL’s international series has focused in recent years on building a presence in London.  But that’s not the only foreign country in which the league is willing to ignore that “N” is for “National.”

Via Albert Breer of NFL Media, the league is considering the staging of regular-season games in Mexico and Germany, in addition to the recent suggestion that the 2017 Pro Bowl could be played in Brazil and ongoing efforts to play in Canada and China.

“The work we’re doing now is to ask, ‘How do we accelerate the agenda in Mexico, Canada and China?'” NFL executive V.P. of international Mark Waller told Breer.  “Those would be our next stage, and we have offices in those three countries.  And then, after those, where should be our focus?  I think we’ve concluded that Brazil and Germany are the next two frontier markets, which is where the Pro Bowl idea comes from.”

Ten years ago, more than 103,000 fans showed up for a Cardinals-49ers game in Mexico City, but the league has not yet played another game there.  Security concerns often have been cited as one of the reasons for no sequel, yet.

If the league decides to play games that count while playing three games per year (and possibly more) in London, the league will need more teams to give up home games.  Apart from the fairly new rule that teams hosting a Super Bowl must give up a home game, Breer points out that teams relocating to a new market must sacrifice one home game per year while playing in a temporary venue pending the construction of their new stadium.

This could give the NFL up to two extra exportable games per year for several seasons, if two teams move to L.A. in 2016.

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Jerry Jones believes Darren McFadden can be a difference maker

Raiders running back McFadden is tackled behind the line of scrimmage by Texans linebacker Reed during NFL game in Houston Reuters

The Cowboys let running back DeMarco Murray, a third-round pick in 2011, walk away via free agency.  They replaced him with running back Darren McFadden, the fourth overall selection in 2008.  Murray led the NFL in rushing last season, with a franchise-record 1,845 yards.  McFadden, in contrast, sputtered to a mere 534 yards in 2014.

So why do the Cowboys regard McFadden as a competent replacement?

“[Y]ou’ve got a good chance to not live up to expectations,” Cowboys owner and G.M. Jerry Jones told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio regarding the lackluster career of McFadden, who has only one 1,000-yard campaign in seven seasons.  “Because when you are drafted that high, people think that you are going to be the next Jimmy Brown.  So, yes he would have liked to have had a more productive career.  But the kinds of skills that got him drafted with the fourth pick in the draft, he still has.

“You worry about injury, but we were worried about injury with Murray.  In eight seasons, four in Oklahoma and four with the Cowboys, Murray only had two injury free seasons.  And so the position is one you have to take into consideration no matter what the skill level is, they take a lot of hits, lot of punishment, and you got a good chance to have an injury issue.  And that’s why we couldn’t make that kind of commitment of dollars to that position.”

The team’s position on not investing a lot of cash in an injury-prone position would also suggest that the Cowboys won’t make a play for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.  But Jones wouldn’t confirm that Peterson won’t be a Cowboy.

“I get in enough trouble in a lot of areas anyway with this mouth but I’m not going to talk about that,” Jones said.

He doesn’t need to say it.  There’s no way the Cowboys will make a major financial investment in the tailback position with Adrian Peterson or anyone, hoping instead to get the most out of underpriced talent running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league.

Regardless of how it works, it will be one of the great experiments of the 2015 season.

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Buccaneers LB Danny Lansanah signs ERFA tender

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

The Buccaneers’ second-leading tackler in 2014 has signed his contract offer from the club.

Linebacker Danny Lansanah, an exclusive-rights free agent, has officially signed his one-year tender from Tampa Bay. The transaction was listed in the NFL’s Thursday personnel notice.

The 29-year-old Lansanah comes off the best season of his career. The fourth-year pro from Connecticut notched 82 tackles (61 solo), starting 11-of-16 games. He could compete for a starting role at strong-side linebacker next season, with Orie Lemon potentially also in the mix.

Lansanah was one of the success stories of the United Football League, playing a three-year UFL stint (2010-2012) after five regular season games with the Green Bay Packers in 2008. He has been with the Buccaneers since December 2013.

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Reports: Vikings reach deal with Terence Newman, who’s likely to sign Friday

Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Vikings will reportedly soon finalize a contract with a cornerback whom head coach Mike Zimmer knows well.

According to Darren Wolfson of KSTP-TV in St. Paul, Minnesota is likely to sign Bengals corner Terence Newman on Friday.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports Newman has agreed to a deal worth $2.5 million ($750,000 guaranteed).

Newman, 36, played in Zimmer-led defenses in Dallas (2002-2006) and Cincinnati (2012-2013). He notched 72 tackles, 14 passes defensed and one interception in 2014 for the Bengals. The Cowboys’ No. 1 pick in 2003, Newman has started at least 10 games in all 12 of his NFL seasons.

Xavier Rhodes, Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson are the primary holdover options at cornerback in Minnesota, and Newman’s experience in Zimmer’s scheme would figure to give him a solid shot at a contributing role.

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Derrick Shelby signs restricted free agent tender with Dolphins

Derrick Shelby AP

Defensive lineman Derrick Shelby has signed his restricted free agent tender with the Miami Dolphins.

The team announced the signing on Thursday.

Miami placed a second round tender on Shelby prior to the start of free agency that is worth $2.4 million. The tender is non-guaranteed. Shelby can no longer negotiate with other teams.

Shelby has missed just one game in three seasons with the Dolphins. For his career, he’s appeared in 47 games with 68 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.

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Vikings waive Justin Anderson, Jordan McCray

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The Vikings have parted ways with two second-year pros signed to reserve-future contracts after the 2014 season, waiving linebacker Justin Anderson and offensive guard Jordan McCray on Thursday.

The roster moves were disclosed in the NFL’s Thursday personnel notice.

Anderson and McCray were originally signed to Minnesota’s practice squad in December. Anderson (6-2, 232) played colleglately at Louisiana-Lafayette, while McCray (6-3, 322) is a Central Florida product. Both entered the NFL as an undrafted free agents in 2014. Anderson also played for the Giants last year, with McCray seeing time with the Packers in 2014.

The Vikings currently have 71 players on the roster. This does not include tailback Adrian Peterson, who is on the commissioner’s exempt list.

Also on Thursday, the Vikings signed offensive tackle Babatunde Aiyegbusi, who has quite the unique back story.

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Hernandez’s fiancée due to testify on Friday

Jenkins AP

Apart from Thursday’s bomb threat, the first Aaron Hernandez murder trial hasn’t generated much news in recent weeks.  The circumstantial evidence points to Hernandez as the killer (or at least present during the killing) of Odin Lloyd, but there’s still no clear motive apart from Hernandez being generally reckless, completely unpredictable, and randomly violent.

Things could get far more interesting soon, when Hernandez’s fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, shows up to testify.  Per multiple reports, Jenkins is due to take the stand on Friday.

Jenkins has received immunity, which gives the prosecution the power to compel her to testify — or to put her behind bars for contempt of court.  The question becomes whether she goes out of her way to be helpful, or whether she has truly flipped on the father of her child.

One factor that could make Jenkins flip?  A babysitter testified earlier this month that Hernandez once hit on her.

If Jenkins has indeed flipped, she could testify that she disposed of a box that contained the murder weapon that still has not been found.  Prosecutors believe that’s exactly what she did.

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Brandon Magee still committed to football despite trip to spring training

Brandon Magee Getty Images

While Brandon Magee is joining the Boston Red Sox for the next few weeks to participate in spring training, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker is still fully committed to pursuing his football career.

Magee was waived by the Buccaneers this week and once again elected to join the Red Sox in spring training. Magee did the same a year ago while he was a member of the Cleveland Browns.

Blake Baratz, Magee’s agent, says Magee is healthy and ready to sign with another NFL team as soon as possible with his commitment being to his NFL career.

“There have been rumors circulating that Brandon Magee, who was recently released by Tampa Bay, has given up football with the intention of playing professional baseball. This could not be further from the truth,” Baratz wrote in an email to PFT. “While he does attend spring training for a few weeks up until the beginning of the NFL off-season program, he is 100% fully committed to playing in the NFL.”

Magee appeared in nine games for the Buccaneers last year while primarily serving on special teams duty. Magee recorded seven tackles before landing on injured reserve in December. Magee also appeared in eight games for the Cleveland Browns in 2013, recording five tackles.

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49ers cut Jonathan Martin

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

Jonathan Martin, the offensive lineman best known for leaving the Dolphins after he was bullied by teammate Richie Incognito, has been released by the 49ers.

The 49ers announced the move today. Martin will be placed on waivers, which means all 31 other teams have the right to put in a claim for him. If he does not get claimed, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

San Francisco gave up this year’s seventh-round draft pick to acquire Martin last year. He started nine games for the 49ers last season and had a strong supporter in former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who also coached Martin at Stanford. Now that Harbaugh is gone, it’s no surprise that Martin is gone, too.

The Dolphins took Martin in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft. He started his first 23 games in Miami before leaving the team in his second season.

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Vikings sign a gigantic Polish offensive tackle named Babatunde

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The Vikings signed a big man who helped the Giants win a championship.

OK, so it was the Wroclaw Giants of the Polish American Football League, but this guy is already an early favorite here at PFT.

According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, the Vikings signed Babatunde Aiyegbusi, a 6-foot-9, 351-pound offensive tackle, who also played for the Dresden Monarchs of the German league.

The native of Olesnica would be just the fifth Polish-born player in the NFL if he made it, along with defensive tackle Jason Maniecki and kickers Chester Marcol, Rich Szaro and Sebastian Janikowski.

He’d also be only the second guy in league history named Babatunde, after former Browns sixth-rounder Babatunde Oshinowo, a defensive tackle from Stanford.

For that reason alone, we hope the big fella makes it.

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Rex Ryan is surprised the Bears didn’t want to hire him

rexryan AP

After Rex Ryan was fired by the Jets, and before he was hired by the Bills, he was expecting the Bears to call him and ask him to interview for their head-coaching vacancy. But that call never came.

Ryan said at the league meeting that he expected the Bears to interview him and was surprised they didn’t.

“I actually did, but they got a great coach there with John Fox,” Ryan said. “I did. I thought, It made sense to me. But apparently it never made sense to them. So that’s the way it is.”

Ryan, who worked as a ball boy for the Bears when his father Buddy was Chicago’s defensive coordinator from 1978 to 1986, said he isn’t sure why the Bears wouldn’t want him.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I must have done a bad job as a ball boy there or something.”

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Vinny Testaverde working as quarterback tutor for ECU prospect

Testaverde Getty Images

When Chris Weinke left IMG to take a job as the Rams quarterback coach, he was replaced by another old guy who once played for the Panthers.

According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden is under the tutelage of former Bucs, Browns, Ravens, Jets, Cowboys, Patriots and Panthers quarterback Vinny Testaverde.

Testaverde thinks he’s smoothed out the delivery of Carden, a mid- to late-round prospect.

The longtime NFL quarterback said Carden had an “awkward-looking delivery, if you will.”

But the use of a quarterback tutor isn’t the only thing that has changed about the pre-draft process when Testaverde was chosen first overall in 1987.

“When I ran my 40, two days before I had our strength coach show me how to do a 40 start,” Testaverde said. “So I worked on it for a day. Went to the combine, ran the 40, so we didn’t have all that specific training.”

Testaverde said he ran his 40 in 4.72 seconds, which is a lot faster than most of us might have thought.

But the thing he should teach Carden is longevity, after 21 seasons in the NFL.

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League didn’t want owners to face Browns, Falcons discipline questions

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At the recently-concluded NFL meetings, the league advised the Browns and the Falcons of the punishments they’ll be facing for their recent violations of the rules.  Browns G.M. Ray Farmer sent text messages to the sideline during games, and the Falcons piped fake crowd noise into the stadium during 2013 and 2014.

The punishments reportedly are “severe,” and the punishments obviously have been determined.  So why haven’t the punishments already been announced?

As one league source explained it to PFT, the NFL delayed the announcement until after the league meetings because the NFL didn’t want the owners to face questions regarding the discipline or the conduct that precipitated it.

It’s hardly a surprise.  With more and more media swarming around the annual meetings, plenty of opportunities would have arisen for owners to be asked questions on and off the record — with answers that could have been perceived as defending wrongdoing by NFL teams or as attacking competitors who also happen to be business partners.

The best way to avoid any problems was to avoid any questions at all.  By holding the decision until after the meetings, the mission was easily accomplished.

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Bengals bring back defensive tackle Pat Sims from Oakland

Pat Sims AP

The Bengals obviously have no qualms with bringing back known commodities.

The team announced they had re-signed defensive tackle Pat Sims, who spent the last two years with the Raiders.

The veteran spent his previous five seasons with the Bengals, and started 23 games for them. He started all 16 games for the Raiders in 2013, but was reduced to a rotational role last year, starting two games.

He joins comeback kids such as Michael Johnson and Brandon Ghee as returning to the Bengals after going elsewhere in free agency.

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