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Bills, Donald Jones working on extension

AP

The Bills aren’t at great risk of losing wide receiver Donald Jones as a restricted free agent, but that isn’t stopping them from trying to lock him up before the start of free agency anyway.

Sal Capaccio of WGR 550 in Buffalo is reporting that the team and Jones are working on an extension. Jones is coming off the most productive season of his career, finishing with 41 catches for 443 yards and four touchdowns. Jones, who signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010, had 41 catches over his first two seasons in the league.

Jones’ season ended early because of an undisclosed illness, although it is obviously not an issue that is getting in the way of the Bills’ desire to lock Jones up for more than the one year they’d guarantee themselves with a tender offer. If they do wind up going the tender route, another team would need to hand over a draft pick to sign Jones away from Buffalo.

This doesn’t figure to be the end of their work on the receiving corps this offseason. Jones looks a lot better as a third or fourth receiver than he does as one of the team’s top targets and the Bills need to do more to support whoever their quarterback winds up being next season if their offense is going to take a step forward.

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PFT preseason power rankings No. 8: Kansas City Chiefs

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While the Chiefs may not be knocking on the door of the Super Bowl, they’ve been loitering on the porch. For 2017, the question is whether they’re deliberately taking a few steps down toward the sidewalk in order to getting a running start that will knock it down.

In three of coach Andy Reid’s four seasons with the team, the Chiefs have made it to the postseason. But a bye in 2016, their first first-round bye since 2003, led to the same outcome as each of the other three times they skipped wild card weekend and hosted a game in the round of eight: The Chiefs lost.

They last made it to the AFC title game in 1993, and most perceive a gap between Kansas City and Oakland even though Kansas City, not Oakland, most recently won the AFC West. Contributing to the confusion regarding the Chiefs was the curious decision to invest two first-round pick in a work-in-progress quarterback when Alex Smith still has gas in the tank. The move became an obvious admission that they believe Alex Smith is a guy who can keep them on the porch, but not much more than that.

Biggest positive change: In an offseason that didn’t feature much in the way of veteran player acquisition or departure, the effort by the franchise to get a franchise quarterback stands out — if they’re right about Patrick Mahomes. For now, it’s a coin-flip proposition at best, especially with Mahomes making the difficult transition from the college spread to Reid’s version of the West Coast offense. Given that the league has three types of teams — teams with franchise quarterbacks, teams trying to find franchise quarterbacks, and teams who aren’t quite sure whether their quarterback is a franchise quarterback — the Chiefs have decided after four years with Alex Smith that he isn’t. While the move may not bear much fruit in 2016, it sets the stage for filling the void that will emerge in the conference if Tom Brady is in the final year or two of his career.

Biggest negative change: The sudden, abrupt decision to dump receiver Jeremy Maclin surprised many and reinforced the idea that the Chiefs are focused more on developing for the future than pushing their chips to the middle of the table right now. And while Reid knows Maclin well enough to know when to get out from under an eight-figure salary, the fact that the Chiefs didn’t try to get him to take less and stick around means that they simply wanted to clear him off the roster so that younger guys can get the reps. If the younger guys can’t get it done, however, that won’t help the Chiefs get to the divisional round again, and it definitely won’t help them get past it.

Coaching thermometer: By getting an extension on the same day G.M. John Dorsey got a pink slip, Reid has as much security as any coach in football. And with Brett Veach replacing Dorsey, many believe Reid will now have even more influence over the roster. So if the Chiefs are indeed taking a step or two back in an effort to eventually take a step up, chances are that Reid will be there every step of the way.

We’d like to crack a beer with . . . Eric Berry. He overcame cancer and has returned as good as ever, becoming the heart and soul of the team and finally getting a contract that reflects it. What does he really think about undermining Smith and eventually replacing him with Mahomes? What does the think about the way Maclin’s exit was handled? Does he truly believe that the team is moving in the right direction, and that the team can put together a championship-caliber offense before the window closes on a quality defense?

How they can prove us wrong: If they decide to throw Mahomes into the fray as a rookie in the hopes of having the game slow down for him sooner than later, the Chiefs could quickly become not a top-10 team. Likewise, the apparent plan to thrust 2016 rookie phenom Tyreek Hill (who averaged only 5.3 touches from scrimmage per game last year) into a bigger role will mean more opportunities to take more of the hits that are more likely to lead to an injury.

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At age 40, Tom Brady may do what only Warren Moon has done before

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On August 3 Tom Brady will turn 40, an age at which NFL quarterbacks have rarely been able to keep playing. But if Brady plays in 2017 at anywhere close to the same level he played in 2016, he’ll be the best 40-year-old quarterback the league has ever seen.

So far, the list of quarterbacks who have entered a season at age 40 or older and played well that year consists of just one name: Warren Moon, who entered the 1997 season at age 40 (and turned 41 during the season), and that year he led the NFL with 245.2 passing yards per game and was chosen to the Pro Bowl.

Other than Moon, the list of quarterbacks entering a season at age 40 and older is a list of players who were past their primes. Brett Favre entered the 2009 season at age 39 and played well after his 40th birthday, but by 2010, the season he entered at age 40, he had fallen off a cliff. Doug Flutie and Vinny Testaverde were still in the league after turning 40, but they didn’t play particularly well. Hall of Famers Len Dawson and Sonny Jurgensen played at age 40, but they were backups.

If Brady can do anything close to what he did last year, when he threw 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions, it will be by far the best season of any quarterback who entered a season age 40 or older. And even if Brady takes a significant step backward, he’d almost certainly be the second-best 40-year-old quarterback behind Moon.

Brady is going to get old eventually, because everyone does. But he’s poised to be the best old quarterback ever.

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Robert Mathis regrets winning only one ring in Indianapolis

AP

Robert Mathis retired this year after a 14-year NFL career, all with the Colts. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and won a Super Bowl ring. But only one.

As Mathis looks back on his career, he sees a lot of accomplishment, but also regret, for the fact that a Colts team that came close many times only won one Super Bowl.

“Looking back on that team, I feel a mix of pride, and I’ll admit, the slightest bit of disappointment,” Mathis wrote at the Players’ Tribune. “I’m so proud of what we accomplished during our era of Colts football, but I think every person, down to the last man, would tell you that he expected to win more than one ring in Indy. If there’s any regret I have from my career, it’s that.”

The Colts made the playoffs in each of Mathis’s first eight seasons, then missed the playoffs in the year of Peyton Manning’s neck injury and returned to the playoffs for three more consecutive years with Andrew Luck at quarterback. They were consistently among the best teams in the league, and yet they only ended the year on top once. It’s hard not to look at those Colts teams and think that as good as they were, they could have done even more in the postseason.

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Al Saunders: I’ll be shocked if Terrelle Pryor isn’t in the Pro Bowl

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Browns receivers coach Al Saunders thinks his team let a Pro Bowl wide receiver get away this offseason.

Saunders told ESPN that he believes Terrelle Pryor, who left Cleveland for Washington in free agency, is going to be a Pro Bowler at the end of the season.

“I will be shocked if he isn’t in the Pro Bowl,” Saunders said. “He’s going to have that kind of year.”

That raises an obvious question: Why didn’t the Browns keep Pryor, who left for a one-year, $6 million contract that Cleveland easily could have afforded under its salary cap? If Saunders seriously believes Pryor is a Pro Bowler, and the Browns’ front office let him walk anyway, that would suggest that the coaches and the personnel department aren’t on the same page.

Despite playing in a bad offense last season in his first year as a wide receiver after switching from quarterback, Pryor caught 77 passes for 1,007 yards. In a better offense in Washington, it won’t be surprising at all to see Saunders proven right. In which case Pryor was a bargain for Washington, and letting him leave was a mistake for Cleveland.

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Eric Dickerson: Sean Mannion should start over Jared Goff

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Eric Dickerson isn’t done offering his opinions about the Rams.

Dickerson, the Hall of Fame former Rams running back who routinely ripped Jeff Fisher before he was fired as the Rams’ coach last year, is now weighing in on the Rams’ quarterback situation. And in Dickerson’s view, last year’s first overall pick Jared Goff showed last year that he’s not as good a passer as 2015 third-round pick Sean Mannion.

“The offense was terrible. The offense looked like a high school offense,” Dickerson said on FS1. “My guy that I would start the season with would be Sean Mannion. I’ve been saying that since last year. Give him a shot.”

Dickerson said he attended a Rams practice last year where someone whose name he did not divulge told him that Mannion was good enough to start, but that Goff got the nod because of the money invested in him as a first overall pick.

“I was at practice early last year, before I got kicked off the sidelines, and I was standing next to some of the guys. I said, ‘Man, he can throw,'” Dickerson recalled. “He said, ‘He can throw it. He can really throw it.’ I said, ‘Why won’t they play him?’ He said, ‘You know. The money. We’ve got a No. 1 draft pick. We’ve got all this money to him.'”

Mannion has never started a game and has thrown just 13 passes in his two years as a Ram, but Dickerson thinks Mannion should be the man.

“It’s all about winning football games,” Dickerson said. “You have a better chance of winning with Sean Mannion.”

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O.J. Simpson will be welcome at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame invites every Hall of Famer to its annual enshrinement ceremony every year, and that will include O.J. Simpson in 2018.

Asked whether Simpson will be welcome once he’s paroled, the Hall of Fame told ESPN, “All Hall of Famers are invited to attend the annual enshrinement.”

Simpson has been a pariah in NFL circles since he was accused of double murder in 1994. But he was granted parole this week for a 2008 armed robbery conviction and is expected to be released in October, so he could attend next year’s enshrinement ceremony.

The Hall of Fame has kept Simpson’s bust in place despite his off-field issues. Simpson has not attended a Hall of Fame ceremony since his own enshrinement in 1985.

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Dolphins center Mike Pouncey to have hip examined next week

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Dolphins center Mike Pouncey will have his left hip examined next week with hopes of being cleared to join his teammates for the start of training camp July 27, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. But the Dolphins won’t make a decision on whether to place Pouncey on the physically unable to perform list until after the exam.

Pouncey has not practiced since last November, playing only five games last season.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase has joked this offseason about placing Pouncey in “bubble wrap” to protect the offensive lineman from injury. To that end, according to Salguero, Pouncey will not practice much in training camp or even the regular season as the Dolphins protect him against injury.

Pouncey has not played a full, 16-game season since 2012, his second season. He has required surgery on both hips.

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Is Simeon Rice a Hall of Famer?

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Warren Sapp long has campaigned for Hall of Fame selectors to recognize his former teammate Simeon Rice, whom Sapp has said is better than Michael Strahan. Now, the Buccaneers’ website has made a case for Rice to join Sapp and Strahan in Canton.

There is no doubt Simeon Rice should be a Hall-of-Famer,” former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks, a 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, told Scott Smith. “Anyone that puts up 122 sacks and has eight double-digit sack seasons during a 12-year career deserves to be in the conversation. And he did this while going against the best offensive linemen—the left tackles. Sim is one of the best pass rushers of his time, and he played a big part in making us the dominant defense that we were in the early 2000s. Go talk to some of the great Hall-of-Fame left tackles that had to go up against Sim on a regular basis, and all you’ll hear is how hard he was to get in front of and slow down. For a left tackle out there on an island, he was their worst nightmare.”

Of the defensive linemen voted into the Hall since 1981, only five played all or most of their careers at right end as Rice did.

Selectors have never voted Rice — now in his fifth year of eligibility — a finalist. The top-11 all-time sack leaders have made the Hall of Fame. Leslie O’Neal, who ranks 12th with 132.5 career sacks, and Rice, who ranks 13th with 122, have the most career sacks without a bust in Canton. (Sacks became an official statistic in 1982.)

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who was Rice’s position coach in Tampa, long has pushed to get Rice in Canton.

“Simeon was always big in the big games from the Super Bowl to all the playoff games,” Marinelli told Smith. “He was the missing piece for our defense because he was a guy that could take the game over. Some of the biggest games he had were against the very best players. He helped drive us to our Super Bowl championship. To me, that is what the Hall of Fame is all about. It’s not just the numbers. It’s about the guys that can get you to a world championship and that’s what Simeon did.”

The problem for Rice is that he played on a defense that already has two Hall of Famers in Sapp and Brooks. Safety John Lynch has been a finalist. Cornerback Ronde Barber becomes eligible in the Class of 2018. As great as the Bucs defense was, they won one Super Bowl. (Yes, I realize who the Bucs quarterbacks were as I covered the team then.) With Lynch, Barber and Rice likely among nominees this year, the question for selectors becomes: Who was the next most important part of that defense?

Rice can take solace in Charles Haley’s journey to Canton. It took Haley, who had 100.5 sacks and five Super Bowl rings, six years to become a finalist and 11 to earn election.

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David Irving a no-show as Cowboys report

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Defensive lineman David Irving was a no-show as the Cowboys reported to training camp Friday, sources confirmed. ESPN’s Todd Archer first reported Irving’s unexcused absence.

The Cowboys held a conditioning run and physicals at their training complex in Frisco, a day before leaving for Oxnard, Calif.

Receiver Dez Bryant arrived late, and the Cowboys are expected to fine him. Irving, though, is subject to a $40,000 fine for missing the reporting date, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.

Last month, the NFL suspended Irving for the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He had four sacks and four forced fumbles last season and was expected to play a big role as a pass-rusher this season.

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Agent: Adam Jones considering options after receiving one-game suspension

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The agent for Adam Jones said they are considering “all options” after the league suspended the Bengals cornerback for one game for violating the personal conduct penalty. Jones has three days to appeal.

“We are reviewing the ruling and assessing all options,” agent Peter Schaffer said, via Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal. “Any decision we make will be in the best interest of Adam, the Bengals and the NFL.”

Jones pleaded guilty to obstructing official business after a January incident in which he spat on a jailhouse nurse.

In the league’s letter to Jones, they said the “extensive video documentation of the tone, tenor and nature of your interactions with law enforcement at the site of your arrest, during transportation to the jail, and during the booking process. As you acknowledged, your post-arrest words and actions reflected poorly on you and your family, the Cincinnati Bengals football club, and the NFL. While it is our understanding that appropriate apologies have been publicly extended, they do not completely negate your behavior and admission of culpability for the underlying conduct.”

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Deone Bucannon only Cardinals player on PUP

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Cardinals linebacker Deone Bucannon will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Coach Bruce Arians said Friday, after the team’s conditioning run, that Bucannon is the only player on PUP.

Bucannon had surgery on his right ankle in May after a lingering problem caused him to miss the final three games of last season.

The Cardinals hope Bucannon can return in time for the season opener.

Deone is close,” Arians said, via Darren Urban of the team website. “He’s getting there. I think he’s a little bit ahead of schedule. We have our fingers crossed. The first game is his due date, so to speak. Hopefully we’ll have him ready to play.”

Haason Reddick, the team’s first-round pick, has taken first-team reps in Bucannon’s spot next to veteran Karlos Dansby.

Linebacker Jarvis Jones tweaked a quadriceps muscle during the conditioning run Friday, Arians said, and could miss a few days of work.

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Dez Bryant arrives late to conditioning test, physicals

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Dez Bryant threw a free barbeque for his hometown of Lufkin on Thursday, but he likely earned a fine from the Cowboys after showing up late to the team facility Friday.

Bryant told Jane Slater of the NFL Network that he had a sinus infection and headache, so he spent the night in Lufkin, which is 175 miles from Frisco. Per Slater, Bryant said he should have informed the coaching staff earlier, but that he has talked to coaches, takes full responsibility and is prepared for the consequences.

Bryant arrived three hours late for physicals and the team’s conditioning test. Bryant told Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan that he wasn’t scheduled to run because of the sinus infection.

Although Bryant has a history of tardiness, he reminded Slater that he has “laid low” this offseason.

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Falcons still hoping to sell out their PSLs

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As the Falcons prepare to open their swanky new stadium in Atlanta, the bad news is that they still have nearly 6,000 PSLs to sell. The good news is that they’ve sold more than 55,000.

Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons have sold 55,113 Personal Seat Licenses. The PSLs have generated $256.3 million.

Roughly 10,000 seats are excluded from the PSL process. The PSLs range from $500 to $45,000 per seat.

So, basically, the food at the stadium will be cheap. But not much else will be.

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Dolphins place two undrafted rookies on PUP

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The Dolphins placed running back De’Veon Smith and tackle Eric Smith on the physically unable to perform list.

Miami signed De’Veon Smith as an undrafted college free agent on May 5. A two-year starter at Michigan, he played 49 career games with 26 starts. Smith had 495 carries for 2,235 yards and 22 touchdowns, while catching 38 passes for 251 yards and one touchdown.

The Dolphins signed Eric Smith as an undrafted college free agent on May 5. He started all four years at Virginia, playing in 45 career games. He was the team’s starting right tackle for every game from 2014-16.

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Michael Oher sued by Uber driver for assault

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Michael Oher’s bad week keeps getting worse.

According to the Associated Press, the former Panthers left tackle — who was released Thursday — has now been sued in connection with the Nashville incident in which he was accused of assaulting an Uber driver.

Oher faces misdemeanor charges from the April incident. The lawsuit, filed by driver Girma Berkessa said that Oher was “extremely intoxicated.” The suit also contends Oher pushed the driver to the ground, kicked him and called him a homophobic slur several times.

Oher was released with a failed physical designation. He’s been in the league’s concussion protocol since Week Three of last season, and visited a concussion specialist earlier this week.

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