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Flacco could give Ravens a break with structure, not amount

Flacco Getty Images

As the Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco attempt to work out a long-term deal before the March 4 deadline for applying the franchise tag to the Super Bowl MVP, it sounds like Flacco won’t be willing to give his team a hometown discount.

Instead, any breaks given to the Ravens will be accomplished via the structure of the deal.  That’s what agent Joe Linta said during a recent appearance on PFT Live.

“I would say to you, of the other 52 players on the roster, how many of the other 52 [took less money]?” said Linta, who has argued Flacco should be the highest-paid quarterback in the league.  “Do you work with [the Ravens] in terms of structure to help them out?  Absolutely.  But like I said, we all took risks.  And I don’t think anybody was gonna feel sorry for Joe if he turned down a contract in July and didn’t have a great year and now was faced with less than what we’re talking about.  Look, there’s risk on both sides, and somebody could be saying to the Ravens, ‘Hey, don’t you think it’s worth sacrificing some areas of your team to keep your franchise quarterback?’  There’s arguments on both sides, believe me.”

So the goal, as Linta explained it, is to “be creative with the contract to get what you want and structure so that it helps the Ravens and doesn’t put them in a bad place cap-wise.”

Last year, for example, a long-term deal for Saints quarterback Drew Brees dropped his cap number from $16.37 million to $10.4 million, and it delayed any dramatic jump in Brees’ cap number until 2015, when the new TV money to be paid in 2014 affects the cap.  With the Ravens facing a cap number of more than $20 million for Flacco as of the start of the new league year on March 12, a long-term deal that cuts more than $6 million from Flacco’s cap number could be the difference between keep or losing one or more key players.

Of course, the cap number the Ravens are actually facing for Flacco will depend on the level of the franchise tag they plan to use.  The Ravens could try to bluff Flacco and Linta by suggesting that they’ll use the non-exclusive tag ($14.6 million) and match whatever offer another team may make.  But if another team crafts a contract with a gigantic 2013 cap number and a willingness to give up two first-round draft picks, the Super Bowl MVP could be changing addresses.

Stranger things have happened.  And it’ll be up to the Ravens to prevent Flacco from playing for, say, the Chiefs.  Or the Cardinals.

Or the Browns.  That’s a development which would have more than a few Ravens fans wanting to be sedated, something Flacco’s new pal Marky Ramone could possibly arrange.

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Broncos expect Justin Forsett to contribute this week

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Justin Forsett #30 of the Detroit Lions looks for yards during a run against the Washington Redskins at Ford Field on October 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan Detroit won the game 20-17. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos just claimed running back Justin Forsett off waivers on Tuesday, but they’re not wasting any time getting him involved in the offense.

Forsett practiced today and coach Gary Kubiak says he will play on Sunday against the Titans. Kubiak said he sees Forsett splitting carries with starting running back Devontae Booker. Kubiak said Forsett, who previously played for him in Baltimore, showed at his first practice that he still remembers the offense.

“Picking up guys who can come in, get in the huddle today, run plays and pick up blitzes and all that, that usually doesn’t happen. So that’s a good thing for us,” Kubiak said.

Forsett, who is now on his seventh NFL team, said he doesn’t think he’ll have any problem being ready right away because he has always approached his career that way.

“I’m here to play and contribute so when my number’s called I’ll be ready,” Forsett said. “You never know when your opportunity’s going to come but you can control how prepared you are when you get that opportunity.”

The Broncos think Forsett is already prepared and will make a difference for the remainder of the season.

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Kiko Alonso at practice after Monday thumb surgery

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:   Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers drops a pass as  Kiko Alonso #47 of the Miami Dolphins defends during the first half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso broke his thumb on Sunday and had surgery on it Monday, but that’s not keeping him from joining his teammates at practice this week.

Alonso suited up for practice with a cast on his right hand to protect the thumb and went through the stretching period with the rest of the team. He did not appear to be doing much else during what Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald called a “light practice” and coach Adam Gase said that the team will be “taking it slow” with Alonso.

Gase also said that the thumb may not be the main stumbling block to Alonso’s presence in the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. He’s also dealing with a hamstring injury that the coach indicated is a bigger concern in regard to his status at the moment.

Mike Hull would get the start in place of Alonso in a game that the Dolphins need to win if they’re going to avoid following up a six-game winning streak with a second straight loss.

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Browns rookie safety injured on bye week, out for season

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 20:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers avoids a tackle by Derrick Kindred #30 of the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns rookie safety Derrick Kindred broke his ankle while away from the team last week and is out for the season.

A fourth-round pick last April, Kindred made five starts and had played in all 12 games. Browns Coach Hue Jackson said Kindred suffered the injury while working out.

Jackson told reporters that Kindred would be placed on the non-football injury list. Later Wednesday, the Browns signed safety Trae Elson.

Kindred had been starting at safety alongside Ed Reynolds. Second-year player Ibraheim Campbell is listed behind Kindred on the team’s unofficial depth chart.

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Luke Kuechly practicing on Wednesday

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 30:  Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers takes the field before their game against the Arizona Cardinals at Bank of America Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The word on Tuesday was that Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was scheduled for an evaluation on Wednesday to see if his recovery from a concussion had progressed far enough for him to return to the practice field.

It seems that the evaluation went well. Kuechly is in uniform with a helmet at Panthers practice for the first time since he sustained the head injury on November 17.

Kuechly likely still has other steps in the concussion protocol ahead of him before he’ll be given the green light for a full practice or a return to game action, but it will be a big step in that direction as long as Kuechly doesn’t have further symptoms after stepping up his activity level.

Kuechly’s concussion was his second in the last two seasons, but there was never a sign from the team that they were considering shutting him down for the rest of this season due to that history or their 4-8 season. That suggests he’ll play again this season as long as he gets fully cleared.

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Jordan Reed does some work at practice

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:   Jordan Reed #86 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

If the Redskins are going to make the playoffs this season, they’ll need to finish strong in the final four weeks and having tight end Jordan Reed on the field would make that a likelier outcome.

Reed suffered a separated shoulder on Thanksgiving and didn’t play in last Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals, but he took a step toward returning to the lineup on Wednesday. Reed did individual work as the team had their first day of on-field work ahead of this weekend’s trip to Philadelphia.

John Keim of reports that Reed caught passes and showed no obvious signs of discomfort.

The Redskins also got left tackle Trent Williams back in the mix after the end of his four-game suspension and the offensive line may be bolstered even more by center Kory Lichtensteiger. He’s been on injured reserve since late September, but practiced on Wednesday to start the clock on a 21-day window to bring him back to the active roster.

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Marvin Lewis says he talks to Bengals owner daily

Marvin Lewis, Mike Brown AP

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he’s not worried about anything anyone says about his job security.

Because he speaks with the guy who decides it on a daily basis — Bengals owner Mike Brown.

I have one stop shopping,” Lewis said, via Katherine Terrell of “I talk to Mike every day. And I don’t have to hear from someone else what they think, . . . . because it’s what he thinks.”

“I report to Mike and that’s all that really matters that way. We have the candid conversations we have all the time. It’s just the way it is.”

Of course, this year those conversations haven’t been as fun, since the team has fallen well short of expectations, on the verge of ending a five-year streak of playoff appearances. They sit at 4-7-1 entering the final four games, and only winning out will help them avoid their first losing record since 2010.

Brown doesn’t have the same kind of day-to-day control over the team he once did, delegating much of that power to his family. But he’s still the boss, and Lewis said that the one-year extension he got last year (which covered 2017) is all he needs to hear.

“We reassured it last January the day after we lost in the playoffs,” Lewis said.

One more year is far from a mandate, but Lewis said he’s not fretting about the future.

“I think the thing with Mike is that he’s been in this business a long time. And he takes every loss as hard as I do or anybody else does here. And it affects him,” Lewis said. “But on the other hand, he trusts me to move the football team in the right direction. . . . that’s the commitment that he’s made to me . . . and that’s the commitment I’ve made to him, to get his football team in the playoffs and through the playoffs all the time and be world champions. . . .

“As long as I’m going to do this here, that’s what my goal is. Anything short of that, I’d be wasting time worrying about it other than spending time worrying about how to beat the next team.”

And if he needs to know any more than that, he can just ask tomorrow.

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Jameis Winston campaigns for Mike Evans, Cameron Brate

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Cameron Brate #84 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers in the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on December 4, 2016 in San Diego, California. The Buccaneers defeated the Chargers 28-21. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Getty Images

The election happened nearly a month ago, but the effort to harvest votes hasn’t.

Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has opted to lobby for a pair of his teammates in the Pro Bowl voting process.

“[I]f Cam Brate and Mike Evans don’t be on your Pro Bowl ballots, you got something wrong,” Winston said, via “Is Cam still leading the NFL in touchdowns [among tight ends]? Cam Brate has to be on your Pro Bowl ballot. I think that would be good for him. I think would be big for him. He would really enjoy that.”

While Brate may enjoy making it to the Pro Bowl team, he probably wouldn’t enjoy playing in the game — apart from the risk of an unnecessary injury (see Eifert, Tyler). The Super Bowl teams don’t play in the Pro Bowl, and that’s the best excuse for any player to have when it comes to ditching the All-Star game.

Jameis also made a general pitch for his offensive line. But he didn’t make a pitch for himself, which is admirable.

I’ll do it for him: Vote for Jameis. Who, like Cameron Brate, should hope that he’s not available to play in the Pro Bowl because he’ll be on his way to Houston.

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Jets bring back Khiry Robinson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 25: Khiry Robinson #29 of the New Orleans Saints spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets waived veteran running back C.J. Spiller on Tuesday and they made a move to bring in another former Saints back on Wednesday.

The team announced that they have signed Khiry Robinson to their 53-man roster while also promoting Brandon Wilds from their practice squad. Kick returner Jeremy Ross was also waived on Tuesday.

It’s Robinson’s second time signing with the Jets. He signed as a free agent in the offseason while he was still rehabbing from a broken leg suffered while with the Saints last season. He played in one preseason game, but was waived/injured after hurting his leg again in that game.

Robinson had 186 carries for 766 yards and eight touchdowns over three years in New Orleans. Wilds, who spent the summer with the Falcons before making his way to the Jets’ practice squad, has not played in a regular season game.

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A.J. Green not participating in Wednesday’s practice

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 12:  A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the football upfield during the game against Minnesota Vikings at Paul Brown Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green was not suited up Wednesday as his teammates started practice, a sign that Green figures to miss at least another game with a hamstring injury.

Last week, Green said he’s dealing with a Grade 2 tear that wouldn’t require surgery and said he was still hopeful he could return this season. Green was working on a side field with trainers as the Bengals began practice Wednesday afternoon.

Green said he did mostly light work last week. He’s been out since suffering the injury early in a Nov. 20 loss to the Bills.

The Bengals are 4-7-1 and 2.5 games behind the Ravens and Steelers in the AFC North. If the Bengals can win this week in Cleveland and get a little help in terms of the Ravens and/or Steelers losing, things could get interesting with the Steelers coming to Cincinnati next week.

Green is 36 receiving yards short of going over 1,000 for the sixth consecutive year to start his career.

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Adrian Peterson: No return if we are out of playoff contention

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 6: Adrian Peterson shakes hands after the game on November 6, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Getty Images

If the Vikings want to get running back Adrian Peterson back on the field this season, they’re going to need to win their next couple of games.

Peterson spoke to reporters at the team’s facility on Wednesday and said that he expects his surgically repaired knee will feel well enough for him to return to action for the final games of the regular season. He appears to be targeting the December 24 game against the Packers as a possible return date, but added that it would be “pointless” to play in that game or their Week 17 matchup with the Bears if the Vikings are already out of playoff contention.

“Obviously, if we lose two games, we’re out,” Peterson said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “So we’ll just play it by ear. … I’m thinking that we’re going to make the playoffs so that’s what I’m keeping my mind set on.”

The Vikings are in Jacksonville this weekend, so they stand a pretty good chance of winning their second game since October 9. They’ll play the Colts at home in Week 15 and winning both won’t give them a playoff spot, but it seems it would make it a lot likelier that they’ll have Peterson’s help for a final push.

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Bills give Sammy Watkins Wednesday off, but get Robert Woods on field

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 20:  Robert Woods #10 of the Buffalo Bills carries the ball during the first quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Injuries have led the Bills to employ a variety of different wide receiver groups over the course of the season and few of them have included both Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins, but there may be a chance to get another look at that tandem that before the year is out.

Coach Rex Ryan announced that Woods is practicing in a limited capacity for the Bills on Wednesday. It’s his first time on the field since injuring his knee in Week 11, which could leave him in play for a spot in the lineup against the Steelers this weekend.

Watkins is expected to be in the lineup, although he isn’t joining Woods in Wednesday’s practice. Watkins returned to action in Week 12 after a stint on injured reserve and also sat out practice last Wednesday to rest his foot. Ryan said that Watkins feels better this week than he did after his initial return to action.

The Bills need to win out to have any chance at making the playoffs, which is a long shot but they can still try to play spoiler by beating the Steelers this Sunday. Having Woods and Watkins in the lineup at the same time would help on that front.

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New PA and Florio podcast is ready for you to not listen to

jeffrey-dean-morgan-as-negan-704042 Getty Images

For eight straight weeks, Paul Allen (not the really rich one, the other one) and yours truly have recorded a podcast for your consideration and/or consternation.

The latest episode is available now.

In it, we address a variety of vitally important topics, including whether the “Negan Lean” should be a touchdown dance or a sack celebration. Along the way, I threaten to take a barb-encrusted baseball bat to Paul’s unibrow.

So, basically, we get along as well as always. To hear it for yourself, you can download the podcast at iTunes or audioBoom.

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Report: Coroner to perform another autopsy on Joe McKnight

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 27:  Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets in action against the Buffalo Bills during their game on November 27, 2011 at  MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Nearly a week after former NFL running back Joe McKnight was shot and killed, a third autopsy will be performed on his body.

According to David Hammer of WWL-TV, the Jefferson Parish coroner will retrieve McKnight’s body from a funeral home for further testing.

Per the report, the family had a second autopsy performed due to concerns about the initial conclusions of the coroner.

McKnight’s family also is concerned, according to the report, about Sheriff Newell Normand’s stated support for them but also his suggestion that Ronald Gasser, who shot and killed McKnight, may be able to make the “stand your ground” defense stick.

The placement and positioning of McKnight will be critical to determining whether and to what extent Gasser had a legitimate fear for his well-being in connection with the encounter that ended with Gasser firing three shots at McKnight.

For more on the “stand your ground” defense, check out the first hour of the podcast of Wednesday’s PFT Live, which can be downloaded at iTunes or audioBoom.

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Christian McCaffrey declares for 2017 NFL Draft

BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 19:  Christian McCaffrey #5 of the Stanford Cardinal runs with the ball against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Brace yourselves for a spring full of Danny Woodhead comparisons, even if they’re only accurate at a skin-deep level.

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey just announced on Twitter that he’s leaving the Cardinal after three seasons and entering the 2017 NFL Draft.

He joins a deep group of early entry running backs including LSU’s Leonard Fournette, but has a unique combination of talents which will intrigue some coaches and should enable him to contribute immediately.

He set the FBS single-season record for all-purpose yardage last year, rushing for 2,019 yards, adding 645 receiving yards and 1,200 yards worth of kick and punt returns. That earned him a runner-up finish for the Heisman Trophy (losing to Derrick Henry).

While his numbers weren’t bad this year (1,603 rushing, 310 receiving, 414 returns), his team didn’t have the same kind of success and he was less of an object of fascination.

He’s the son of former Broncos, 49ers and Giants wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, who played 13 seasons in the league.

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Colts promote linebacker after D’Qwell Jackson suspension

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 04:  Indianapolis Colts helmets rest on the sidelines during the pregame warmup before the AFC Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts won’t have linebacker D’Qwell Jackson in the lineup for the final four games of the regular season, leaving them with a hole on their defense and on their roster as they try to outlast Houston and Tennessee in the AFC South.

They filled the hole on the roster on Wednesday by promoting linebacker Luke Rhodes from the practice squad. Rhodes has been on the practice squad since October and spent the summer with the Buccaneers before being waived in early September. The undrafted rookie started 45 games at William & Mary during his time in college.

While he will be filling the roster spot, Rhodes’ lack of experience in the NFL would seem to make him an unlikely choice to step into Jackson’s spot in the lineup. Antonio Morrison and Josh McNary appear to be likelier choices to take over alongside Edwin Jackson.

The Colts will have to hope that whoever steps in is able to help the defense keep the Texans under wraps this weekend so the team can get a leg up in the final push for a playoff spot.

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