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PFT Live: Is Locker’s potential limited?

Jake Locker has a world of potential under center for the Titans, but Mike Florio says it can be limited if he doesn’t consistently stay healthy. Florio runs down Tennessee’s off-season to-do list that includes turning embattled coach Gregg Williams loose, and letting Chris Johnson carry the team until he’s physically unable to do so.

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Report: Teams calling the Jets about Muhammad Wilkerson

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It’s almost time to start throwing cannonballs into the deep end of the draft pool.

And the Jets might be going for the Triple Lindy right off the bat.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, at least two teams have called the Jets to see if defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was available.

While that’s not nearly the same as the Jets making their star lineman available, it is worth noting a few things here.

First, Wilkerson is staying away from offseason workouts because he wants a new contract.

Secondly, the Jets brought Southern Cal defensive lineman Leonard Williams for a pre-draft visit, and that would be a rich set of 3-4 ends if they added him to Sheldon Richardson and they were thinking about keeping Wilkerson around.

It’s the time in the week where we get a bit of noise that never comes to anything, but given Wilkerson’s contract situation, it’s hard to rule this one out at the moment, depending on how the top five picks fall.

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Speculation starts that Jaguars could be taking Amari Cooper

Cooper AP

Last year, PFT first caught wind of the Jaguars as a potential suitor at No. 3 for quarterback Blake Bortles only a couple of days before the draft.  This year, it’s two days before the draft — and PFT has caught wind of another potential surprise for the Jaguars at No. 3.

At a time when many believe the Jaguars will take linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. with the third pick, chatter has commenced that the Jags instead will select Alabama receiver Amari Cooper.

Cooper has emerged as the top prospect, separating more and more from West Virginia’s Kevin White as the draft approaches.  Which makes sense; Cooper is more NFL ready than White, which means that, as coaches get more involved in the process, teams will be more likely to gravitate toward the guy who will be more likely to help the team win now.

There’s still a chance that Cooper won’t be available at No. 3; Tennessee may go wideout at No. 2 if they don’t take quarterback Marcus Mariota and if they don’t trade down.  But if Cooper and Fowler are both on the board when the Jaguars are on the clock, Cooper could indeed be the pick.

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Cowboys extend punter Chris Jones another two years

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The Cowboys had already secured punter Chris Jones for the coming season, signing the restricted free agent to his tender offer.

Now, they’ve given him another two years, and a little extra cap space.

Via Field Yates of ESPN, the Cowboys have extended their punter through 2017, signing him to a deal worth $4.2 million, with $750,000 guaranteed the next three years.

Jones has been a perfectly fine punter for the Cowboys the last two seasons, and extending the deal puts some money in his pocket now, and allows the Cowboys to lower his cap hit from the $1.542 million he’d have counted on his RFA tender alone.

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Rookies at draft will undergo domestic violence education

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For the 28 players who opted to accept the invitation to attend the draft in Chicago, they won’t have an option when it comes to submitting to an domestic violence education session.  According to Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today, the NFL will provide the mandatory training to all of the incoming rookies who show up for the draft.  It’s the same 45-minute video presentation that all NFL employees were required to watch last year.

“I think there are expectations for being part of the National Football League.  And I think just like the prospects that come to the draft — they do community service and have media interaction — this was another situation that we thought was important enough to make a requirement,” NFL vice president of social responsibility Anna Isaacson told Jones.

Players not attending the draft will receive the training at the rookie symposium.  Which raises an obvious question:  Why not provide the training to all draft picks at the rookie symposium?  Only 28 are at the draft; more than 250 will be present for the symposium.

The answer is obvious.  Providing the training to the players at the draft creates an opportunity for a little more positive P.R. as the league tries to continue its recovery from last year’s debacle that forced positive changes like, for example, the creation of a 45-minute presentation to be shown to all incoming rookies, starting with the guys who chose to attend the draft.

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As Shane Ray’s stock plummets, talk that he could fall to Round 4

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Just a few weeks ago, stories about Missouri pass rusher Shane Ray routinely called him a potential Top 5 pick. That now feels like a long time ago.

Ray’s draft stock began to fall when teams showed increasing concern about a foot injury he suffered in the final game of his college career, and now his stock has plummeted so severely that there’s talk that Ray not only won’t go in the first round, but might not even go in the second or third rounds. According to former Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik, Ray’s recent marijuana citation makes it possible that Ray won’t be drafted until the fourth round.

“This changes Shane Ray dramatically because it’s, to me, such a poor decision this close to the draft. It’s the decision making. What is this guy going to do on Friday or Saturday night before a big game? Is he going to make another poor choice like this? The timing is so bad, and the foot issue, tells me that this guy isn’t just dropping out of the first round, he’s dropping to the third or fourth round now,” Dominik said on Mike & Mike. “I know he’s dropping out of the first round. I don’t see any way he’s going in the first round.”

Ray has likely lost many millions of dollars in the last few weeks.

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Mariota gets a deal with Beats

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Marcus Mariota may not have a lot to say, but he has something to listen with.  And he’ll get paid to do it.

Mariota has become the latest NFL endorser of the Beats by Dre headphones.  The company officially welcomed Mariota to the family via Twitter on Monday.

The league probably isn’t thrilled with the arrangement, given that the NFL receives millions per year from Bose — and has fined players for wearing Beats products when they’re otherwise carrying the NFL’s flag.

It’s unknown how much Mariota will receive and unclear whether other incoming players will be getting a similar deal.  Mariota adds Beats to a list of endorsers that includes Nike and Subway.

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Roger Goodell expects Ted Wells’s Deflategate report soon

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It has been more than a month since Roger Goodell said that Ted Wells’s investigation into allegations that the Patriots used underinflated footballs while throttling the Colts in the AFC Championship game was nearing its end.

The time that’s passed since he last publicly commented on the end date of the investigation hasn’t done anything to shake Goodell’s belief that answers are around the corner. During an appearance with Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, Goodell said that he thinks the results of the investigation will be released soon.

“What we’re trying to do is just make sure we’re thorough,” Goodell said. “The most important thing here is: Was there a violation of the rules? And if so, how did that occur? We have a responsibility to the 32 teams — not just to one team, to 32 teams — and our fans, and the general public here to make sure that things were done fairly. I think it’s hard because you want to make sure you have all the information. One of the things that he would be asked to look for: Was it just one game?”

Goodell wouldn’t say whether there was suspicion that the Patriots were using deflated balls in multiple games and there wasn’t comment on other issues that have been raised during the extended wait for Wells’s report, including questions about who from the league leaked information that incriminated the Patriots in the days after the issue first came to light. Should those answers take much longer to surface, Goodell might want to refrain from further predictions about how close Wells is to going public with his findings.

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Draft trades still follow the chart

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The old draft trade chart popularized by Jimmy Johnson’s Dallas Cowboys has been around so long that it feels like it must have grown obsolete. Surprisingly, it hasn’t.

A look at the trades from last year’s draft shows that teams still more or less follow the chart to determine what constitutes a fair trade. The trade chart assigns point values for every pick, and gives teams a general idea about whether they’re getting a good deal if they make a particular trade. For instance, the 16th pick is worth 1,000 points, the 26th pick is worth 700 points and the 60th pick is worth 300 points. So if a trade swapped No. 16 for No. 26 and No. 60, that would be a fair deal for both sides. If you believe the chart.

And teams do believe the chart. On the first day of the 2014 NFL draft, there were four trades involving only 2014 picks, and all four of them more or less followed the chart:

Minnesota sent No. 8 (1,400 points) to Cleveland for No. 9 (1,350 points) and No. 145 (33.5 points).

Arizona sent No. 20 (850 points) to New Orleans for No. 27 (680 points) and No. 91 (136 points).

Philadelphia sent No. 22 (780 points) to Cleveland for No. 26 (700 points) and No. 83 (175 points).

Seattle sent No. 32 (590 points) to Minnesota for No. 40 (500 points) and No. 108 (78 points).

Draft trades rarely result in exactly equal swaps of points because two teams looking to trade rarely have the picks that would add up to an exactly equal trade. But they’re usually pretty close.

What does that mean for this year? Here’s about what it would take for a few different teams to trade up to the No. 2 pick (2,600 points) and get Marcus Mariota:

The Browns have the ammunition if they want to do it. Cleveland could package No. 12 (1,200 points), No. 19 (875 points), No. 43 (470 points) and No. 77 (205 points) for a total of 2,750 points. That’s a deal the Titans would have a very hard time turning down.

The Jets would have to trade their entire draft and it still wouldn’t add up: The Jets’ picks are No. 6 (1,600 points), No. 37 (530 points), No. 70 (240 points) No. 104 (86 points) No. 223 (2.3 points) and No. 224 (2 points). That adds up to 2,460 points, which isn’t enough for the No. 2 pick to be a fair trade for the Titans. The Jets would have to trade not just this year’s first-round pick but also next year’s first-round pick for the Titans to bite.

The Eagles can’t even come close. Philadelphia’s entire draft adds up to about 1,544 points: The Eagles own No. 20 (850 points), No. 52 (380 points), No. 84 (170 points), No. 113 (68 points), No. 145 (33.5 points), No. 156 (29 points) and No. 196 (13 points) and No. 237 (a fraction of a point). If the Eagles are moving up to get Mariota, they’ll have to give up players or future draft picks, because this year’s picks won’t cut it.

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Joseph Randle’s domestic violence investigation nearing end

Joseph Randle AP

The Cowboys were willing to put themselves out there this offseason, offering a chance to free agent defensive end Greg Hardy despite the domestic violence incident which led to a 10-game suspension.

They might get another chance, with a player not nearly as prone to get extra opportunities because he’s less talented.

According to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Wichita police spokesman James Espinoza said the police investigation into a domestic violence incident involving Cowboys running back Joseph Randle is wrapping up this week, at which point local prosecutors will decide whether to pursue charges.

Randle was involved in an incident in February in Wichita, in which he was accused of brandishing a gun and threatening the mother of his child.

If he’s charged, he’s more likely to be suspended, though the league has made a point with the Hardy suspension that they were not going to be bound by the criminal justice system. Under the new personal conduct policy, first-offenders of domestic abuse could face a six-game ban, though the Hardy punishment shows Roger Goodell still considers himself having significant latitude.

The league has also beefed up its investigative efforts and is conducting its own review of these situations, lest another video of a guy punching his wife in the face ends up on TMZ.

Of course, Randle has been in trouble before, busted last October for stealing underwear and cologne, an incident he called “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life.”

The Cowboys fined him for that one, but the next one will be out of their hands.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

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A negative review of the Bills’ decision to trade their 2015 first-round pick to move up for WR Sammy Watkins.

The Dolphins want to evaluate draft prospects in a variety of settings.

The interior of the offensive line is an area the Patriots could address in the draft.

The Jets open a voluntary minicamp on Tuesday.

Cornerbacks have caught the eye of the Ravens leading up to the draft.

Bengals LB A.J. Hawk is opting for the Kentucky Derby over paying attention to the NFL draft this weekend.

The Browns’ meetings with draft prospects are going down to the wire.

A call for the Steelers to go after cornerbacks in the draft.

Texans DE J.J. Watt tried to help one of his fans get excused from work to attend a charity event he’s hosting.

The Colts may make a trade during the draft.

Jaguars G.M. Dave Caldwell could use a string of good picks this year.

Looking back at some of the biggest hits and misses in Titans draft history.

The return of CB Tony Carter bolsters the Broncos’ depth in the secondary.

What does Chiefs P Dustin Colquitt look for in a long snapper?

The Raiders will have a chance to add to their defensive front with the fourth pick.

A Chargers move would add to San Diego’s sad sports history.

Nebraska DE/LB Randy Gregory could be a fit for the Cowboys.

The Giants cleared some room on the running back depth chart.

The Eagles may not find the safety help they want in the draft.

Redskins G.M. Scot McCloughan wouldn’t mind a few more draft picks.

Five things to watch during the Bears’ minicamp this week.

S Glover Quin thinks some younger Lions defensive backs are in line for strong seasons.

Which cornerbacks might interest the Packers in the first round?

Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn is working to improve before his second year in Minnesota.

A review of Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff’s draft day trades.

The Panthers have generally done a good job with their first-round picks.

Will Shane Ray’s arrest change the Saints’ draft plans?

Assessing the Buccaneers’ need for wide receiver or tight end help.

Is a running back in the cards when the Cardinals pick in the first round?

A spin through Rams mock drafts.

Former 49ers pass rusher Charles Haley likes what he’s seen from current 49ers pass rusher Aldon Smith.

There are plenty of wide receivers for the Seahawks to consider in the draft.

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Silence surrounding possible Peterson trade makes it less likely

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A potential trade of running back Adrian Peterson would have plenty of moving parts.  By all appearances, none of those parts have been moving, yet.  At this point, the fact that nothing is happening in connection with a potential trade makes it less likely that anything will.

Any team interested in trading for Peterson would have to work out a new contract with him.  Likewise, any team would want to give him a full physical in order to determine that the man who has played in one game since December 2013 remains fit and able to do so.

That process would require communications between the Vikings and a suitor for Peterson, communications between the Vikings and Peterson’s agent, and communications between a suitor for Peterson and his agent.  It would be difficult if not impossible to keep those communications away from the media.

So with absolutely nothing currently happening, it appears that a trade won’t be occurring before or during the 2015 NFL draft.  Which makes a trade of Peterson at any point this year less likely.

The Vikings are banking on Peterson eventually accepting the reality that the Vikings own his rights through 2017, and the Vikings hope that the passage of time will allow Peterson to embrace the fact that they are willing to pay him $13 million this season.  The question becomes whether Peterson will buy in — or whether he’ll engage in a T.O.-style effort to get the Vikings to throw up their hands and trade him during or after the 2015 season.

Ten years ago, the Eagles refused to give Terrell Owens more money, so he tried to make the team sufficiently miserable that it traded or cut him.  Peterson doesn’t seem to be wired to do the same thing, but if the determination that fueled his return from ACL surgery three years ago gets pointed toward getting out of Minnesota, it would be unwise to bet against him.

To date, Peterson has yet to say he definitely wants out.  Perhaps he realizes that, regardless of any frustration he may be feeling toward the Vikings for the perception that they failed to fight hard enough to get him back on the field in 2014, the entire ordeal flowed from his own actions.  The Vikings did nothing to cause or to contribute to a situation that left them without their best player for 15 games, and Peterson’s presence for even a handful of games could have boosted a team that finished 7-9 to the postseason.

This year, the playoffs become much more possible with Peterson than without him.  With no contending teams rushing to add Peterson, his chances of playing beyond Week 17 may be no better elsewhere than they are in Minnesota, which could make for an even more compelling story of redemption.

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Andrew Whitworth dares the Bengals to draft his replacement

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The Bengals have the oldest starting left tackle in the NFL, so it only makes sense that they might look for a replacement this week.

But Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth has a message for any tackle they might draft — bring it on.

The 33-year-old Whitworth said he’s playing his best football as he enters his 10th season, and doesn’t see that changing soon.

Mess up and draft somebody at my position because you are going to sit around and watch him sit the bench,” Whitworth said, via Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s always been my mentality. I see it as a challenge.”

The former second-rounder has grown into one of the league’s top tackles, even after knee surgery two years ago, and has continued to play at a high level.

“Right now, this is the strongest I’ve been in my life, most conditioned I’ve been in my life,” Whitworth said. “I don’t see the door that’s closing. This is the strongest I’ve ever lifted in my career. I feel like I’m as fast or faster than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m in the best shape ever.

“I stop listening to what people thought about what year you are in or when they thought you should be done and started to just listen to what my body says. My body says I can still go get it. I’m still excited to take on anybody any day.”

It’s not that Whitworth would be a bad teammate if a young tackle came in, as he’s become the leader in their locker room. But the way he’s playing, the Bengals have to know any such pick is an investment in the future and not the present.

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Kevin Colbert: You want to find out entire story behind character concerns

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On Monday, Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert held his pre-draft press conference and spent some time talking about how much he liked this year’s group of outside linebacker prospects.

That meshes well with the team’s need to upgrade their defensive punch heading into next season, but the talent is only part of the package that teams have to evaluate. There’s also the issue of character, something that Colbert says the team takes seriously while evaluating prospects they’re considering adding to the roster.

It doesn’t eliminate a player from consideration by the team — the Steelers drafted tackle Mike Adams in the second round after a failed drug test at the combine — and it is something that will be of particular interest with edge rushers after Shane Ray’s arrest for marijuana possession and Randy Gregory’s positive drug test at the combine.

“You try to find out what the exact circumstance was,” Colbert said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Why a guy was suspended. Why a guy tested positive. Why a guy got thrown off a team. I think you always look into it. You just can’t take the public part of it and think this is it. There’s a story behind everything that goes on — right, wrong or indifferent. It’s our job to get to the root of the matter and figure out whether we want to take the chance or not.”

Ray and Gregory both visited the Steelers during the pre-draft process, although Ray’s arrest just happened on Monday so the Steelers wouldn’t have had a chance to dig into it at that time.

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Brooks will let time answer questions on Winston

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The questions regarding quarterback Jameis Winston aren’t going away.  And former Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks realizes there’s only one way they will:  Through the passage of time.

“It’s fair enough to have questions,” Brooks said Monday, via Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune.  “It’s fair enough to have doubt.  I wouldn’t expect anything different.  I have certain questions that are going to have to be answered, whether this young man comes to the Bucs or goes elsewhere.  But I’m still going to have a relationship with him.  There are questions that I will let time answer.”

On one hand, Brooks is right — whether the off-field concerns regarding Winston become actual problems at the next level depends on whether he has additional off-field problems in the NFL.  But the challenge is to project the future based on the past.  And the questions that have emerged in the past put all teams on notice that there could be problems in the future.

“History has allowed for certain opinions about him,” Brooks said of Winston.  “Now, again, he has had a lot of say in it.  But we can’t get away from the four-letter word:  Time.  As much as we want the answers about what he’s going to do, what he’s going to be, let’s for once give in to the proper but unpopular thing:  time.”

Again, Brooks is right.  But if time reveals problems in the future, whoever drafts Winston will have to answer tough questions about that, internally and externally.

That’s why the Buccaneers have done so much homework on Winston to explore the various off-field issues and to ascertain whether they provide actual hints of future issues.  As part of that analysis, however, the Bucs need to ask themselves whether there’s a limit to the number of questions they’re willing to tolerate before opting for a player with fewer (or no) off-field issues and relatively comparable talent.

In the end, that question could be answered by the magnitude of the offers, if any, that the Buccaneers receive for the privilege to slide into the No. 1 spot and take Winston.

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Giants personnel VP hoping more than one longshot comes in

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Giants senior vice president of player personnel Chris Mara will be on the clock Saturday, hoping to find a few longshots to come through.

And then he’s going to go to a horse race and hope for the same thing.

Mara, the second-oldest son of Giants patriarch Wellington Mara, said as soon as the NFL Draft wraps up, he’s going to watch his horse, Itsaknockout try to pull an upset at the Kentucky Derby.

“My dad’s two favorite days of the year, ironically, were draft day and Kentucky Derby day and think he’d be pretty happy right now with the Derby being on the same day of the draft?’’ Mara told Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “I don’t think so.”

Chris Mara recalled trips to Belmont with his father, learning his love of racing as a young boy. But it wasn’t until after the Giants won the Super Bowl following the 2011 season that he poured his money into the project, buying into a Kentucky syndicate called Starlight Racing.

Another of Mara’s horses, Intense Holiday, finished 12th in the Derby last year, and he thinks Itsaknockout will go off at 25-1 or 30-1 Saturday.

Of course, Mara will he busy Saturday looking for some late-round help for his football team, forcing him to take a private plane to get to Churchill Downs for the start of the race.

“I’m working on it,’’ he said of his itinerary. “Everyone’s aware of the situation so we’re trying to figure it out. I plan right now on being [at the Giants facility] on Saturday, I just don’t know for how long. By the time I leave, the hay will be in the barn, okay?”

The Giants have five picks Saturday, including a pair of seventh-rounders. So if you’re a team who needs a few late choices, call the Giants, Mara might be looking to move them so he has time for a mint julep.

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