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Team-by-team look at who would/could/should be tagged

Clady AP

On Monday, the two-week window for using the franchise tag opens.  Every team can use the franchise tag (or the rarely-used transition tag) on one player.

Last year, 21 teams took advantage of the franchise tag, which no longer is based on the five highest-paid players at the position but on a far more convoluted (and club friendly) formula.

It’s not a coincidence.  The new formula makes it much cheaper to keep a player off the open market than it would to pay him a multi-year market contract.

Here’s a look at the team-by-team candidates for the 2013 tag, in alphabetical order.

Arizona Cardinals:  The Cardinals need to keep hard-nosed cover corner Greg Toler, but not at anything close to the eight-figure franchise number.  No other pending free agents have the talent or potential to justify franchise money.  Last year, the Cardinals used the tag on defensive end Calais Campbell; they eventually signed him to a long-term deal.

Atlanta Falcons:  Left tackle Sam Baker, drafted in round one the same year as the man whose blind side he protects, has had good years and bad years.  After starting 16 games in 2012, Baker hits the market on a high note.  Still, the glut of tackles in free agency and the draft will make it hard to justify tagging Baker; if he leaves, the Falcons can find a capable replacement after the market softens.  In 2012, the Falcons used the tag on cornerback Brent Grimes, who tore an Achilles tendon in Week One.  Tagging him would cost $12.48 million for 2013.  It would cost nearly half that amount to tag safety William Moore.

Baltimore Ravens:  It’s not a question of if the Ravens will tag quarterback Joe Flacco.  The only remaining unknown is the level of the tag.  And while a lazy look at the situation would lead to conclusively presuming that there’s no way Flacco leaves Baltimore, there’s a chance (slim, but a chance) that the player and the team could be destined for a game of chicken that would result in both cars flying off the cliff.  The Ravens could opt to go non-exclusive, daring Flacco to sign an offer sheet with another team — and assuming that he never would.  Another team with plenty of cap space could easily craft a front-loaded offer sheet that the Ravens wouldn’t be able to match.  It’s not likely, but anyone who thinks there’s no way Flacco leaves the Ravens hasn’t been paying close enough attention to the far crazier things the NFL has seen in recent years.

Buffalo BillsJairus Byrd has become one on the best free safeties in the league.  With George Wilson gone in a cap move, the Bills need to keep Byrd.  Absent a long-term deal, the tag is the only way to make it happen.  If a long-term deal can be negotiated, guard Andy Levitre becomes a candidate for the tag.  The only impediment would be the fact that interior offensive linemen get the same franchise tender as tackles.

Carolina Panthers:  Their list of potential free agents contains no names that cry out for use of the tag, especially since the Panthers are still dealing with the sins of salary caps past.

Chicago Bears:  The Bears need to keep defensive tackle Henry Melton, but they’ve already got plenty of cap space tied up with defensive players like sackmaster Julius Peppers, cornerback Charles Tillman, and linebacker Lance Briggs.  With Melton regarding himself as the best defensive tackle in the league, a long-term deal could be hard to come by.  Despite his name recognition, linebacker Brian Urlacher isn’t a serious candidate for the tag.

Cincinnati Bengals:  The Bengals are extremely careful with money.  On defense, lineman Michael Johnson is the most obvious candidate to be tagged.  It’s just as likely that the Bengals will be content to go bargain shopping (again) for defensive players to replace their bevy of free agents on that side of the ball, and then hope that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer can whip up another batch of chicken salad.  On offense, the tag could be used to keep Andre Smith, who quietly has overcome his notorious Jello run to develop into an elite right tackle.  Last year, the tag was used on kicker Mike Nugent; tagging him again would cost only $3.48 million.  Which could make him the most likely candidate.

Cleveland Browns:  Kicker Phil Dawson was tagged in 2011 and 2012.  Using it a third time would entitle him to quarterback money.  So if it’s used, it won’t be used on him.  Punter Reggie Hodges is hitting the market after three years with the team.  Though his performance doesn’t cry out “franchise tag,” it could be cheaper to squat on him for a year than to sign a replacement on the open market; that’s why so many punters and kickers have been tagged in recent years.

Dallas Cowboys:  Tagged last year at $10.5 million, linebacker Anthony Spencer still hasn’t had the kind of impact that he should, given that he plays across from DeMarcus Ware.  Spencer isn’t worth $12.4 million for one more year.

Denver Broncos:  V.P. of football operations John Elway has said that the tag will be used on left tackle Ryan Clady, and for good reason.  Last year, Clady turned down a five-year, $50 million deal.

Detroit Lions:  It’ll take $12.4 million to use the tag for a second straight year on defensive end Cliff Avril, and it won’t be easy for the Lions to round up the kind of cap space necessary to keep him around.  Safety Louis Delmas doesn’t like being labeled as injury prone, but he is.  And the Lions will have to decide whether they want to make a long-term or short-term (via the tag) investment in the guy who could be this decade’s Bob Sanders.  Tackle Gosder Cherilus also could be tagged, but in a buyer’s market for tackles it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to do it.

Green Bay Packers:  Receiver Greg Jennings turns 30 in September.  In other words, the Packers won’t be using the tag on Greg Jennings.  The Packers learned while he was injured in 2012 that they can live without him, and they won’t be inclined to invest $10 million in cap space to a guy who plays a position that, with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, is virtually interchangeable.  If the Packers wanted to keep Jennings, they’d be trying to sign him.  They’re not, which likely means he won’t be tagged.

Houston Texans:  Last year, the Texans passed on tagging linebacker Mario Williams because of the exorbitant tender that the final year of his first-overall rookie contract would have generated.  With linebacker Connor Barwin, much less cap space would be consumed.  After seeing former Texans receiver Jacoby Jones deliver an MVP-caliber performance in the Super Bowl, G.M. Rick Smith may be a little less willing to let quality players walk away in 2013.  Another possible (and cheaper) candidate for the tag is punter Donnie Jones.

Indianapolis Colts:  The man with the self-styled boomstick can be kept off the market for the low, low price of the punter/kicker franchise tag ($2.9 million).  Absent a long-term deal, it’s hard to envision the Colts moving forward without punter Pat McAfee.

Jacksonville Jaguars:  A roster thin on star power naturally doesn’t create many franchise-tag candidates, especially with a new G.M. and (another) new coaching staff.  If linebacker Daryl Smith didn’t miss most of the season, he’d be a potential candidate.  Fullback Greg Jones would be a candidate, if fullbacks weren’t lumped in with running backs for franchise tag purposes.

Kansas City Chiefs:  The Chiefs are trying to work out a long-term deal with receiver Dwayne Bowe; if they don’t, it would cost $11.4 million to keep him around for a second season via the tag.  But receivers are more plentiful than competent offensive linemen, and new Chiefs coach Andy Reid witnessed the hard way in 2012 the consequences of not having competent blockers.  This reality makes tackle Branden Albert a more likely candidate to be tagged.  Then there’s punter Dustin Colquitt, who like most punters and kickers could be cheaper to keep via the one-year franchise tag.

Miami Dolphins:  Tackle Jake Long’s rookie deal makes the cap number for tagging him way too high to justify, especially in light of the gradual decline in his play.  With cornerback Sean Smith looking for big money, the best move could be to tag him instead of Long.

Minnesota Vikings:  G.M. Rick Spielman wants to keep road-grading right tackle Phil Loadholt.  With left tackle Matt Kalil tied up via an affordable rookie deal, the Vikings can afford to pay Loadholt a large chunk of money for at least the next two seasons, before Kalil will be looking for his second contract.  Whether that large chunk of money equates to the franchise tag for Loadholt is a decision the Vikings have to make in light of the realities of the tackle market — and within the context of the impact of the use of the tag on the expectations of receiver Percy Harvin.  They’d also like to keep fullback Jerome Felton, but there’s no fullback franchise tag; they’d have to tender him at the running back level.

New England Patriots:  The Patriots have a trio of players who are potential candidates for the tag.  Whether it’s receiver Wes Welker, tackle Sebastian Vollmer, cornerback Aqib Talib, or no one, it won’t be an easy decision.  Welker would command $11.4 million, given that he was tagged in 2012.  It would be a shock if they tag him.  Vollmer has Marcus Cannon behind him on the depth chart, plus plenty of other tackles available in free agency.  The Pats could be inclined to let Vollmer leave if someone else is willing to overpay him.  Talib presents the biggest conundrum, given his positive impact on the team’s so-so defense.  They need him, but he present plenty of risk given his history of off-field incidents.

New Orleans Saints:  Left tackle Jermon Bushrod is the most obvious candidate for the tag.  But the Saints don’t have the cap space to spare.  They easily replaced guard Carl Nicks with Ben Grubbs last year, and the tackle market is far more plentiful in 2013 than the market was for guards last season.  Defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis doesn’t project to nose tackle in the team’s new 3-4 defense, but he could be a candidate to play defensive end in Rob Ryan’s defense, if the Saints want to fork over the money necessary to keep him around.  Things would get interesting if the Saints tag Ellis as a tackle despite a desire to move him to end, since there’s a $2.6 million gap between the two tenders.

New York Giants:  But for the likely existence of collusion in the restricted free agency market, the Giants should be thinking about tagging receiver Victor Cruz.  Since teams have abandoned in recent years the pursuit of RFAs, there’s no reason for the Giants to double the compensation they’d get if someone else swipes Cruz.  Left tackle Will Beatty becomes a candidate for the tag, along with safety Kenny Phillips.  The cheapest of all would be tight end Martellus Bennett, who didn’t get the long-term deal he wanted a year ago in free agency, opting instead for a one-year stay in New York and another shot at the market.

New York Jets:  Safety LaRon Landry is the only guy who merits the tag, but his one-year deal from last year expressly prevents the team from using it.  No one else who is due to become a free agent deserves it.

Oakland Raiders:  There’s a major problem with using the franchise tag on punter Shane Lechler, apart from the fact that the Raiders have landed in a salary cap black hole.  While the franchise tag for punters and kickers will be an affordable $2.9 million in 2013, Lechler’s cap number last year was $4.9 million.  Under the CBA, he’s entitled to a 120 percent raise over that number, which translates to a cap number of $5.88 million.  It could be time for the much cheaper Marquette King, a converted receiver who has drawn comparisons to the monster-legged Reggie Roby.  Either way, it’s hard to imagine that the cap-strapped Raiders would pay a punter twice the amount of the base franchise tag for punters.

Philadelphia Eagles:  The Eagles don’t have many looming free agents, which means that they don’t have many candidates for the franchise tag.  Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would be one, if he was, you know, better.

Pittsburgh Steelers:  The Steelers have said they won’t use the franchise tag.  Which means that receiver Mike Wallace will hit the open market.  Which means that someone will overpay him on the first day of free agency.

San Diego ChargersLook at their free agents.  Though cornerback Quentin Jammer has been a mainstay in San Diego since 2002, he’s not worth what it would cost to keep him via the franchise tag.  No one else with an expiring contract justifies the tag, which is one of the reasons why there’s a new G.M. and head coach.

San Francisco 49ers:  Safety Dashon Goldson doesn’t want to be tagged again, but what he wants and what he gets could be two different things.  Absent a long-term deal, the Niners have to keep Goldson around — even if using the tag for a second time virtually guarantees he’ll hit the market in 2014.  If Goldson gets a new deal, it’ll be interesting to see whether the Niners would use the tag on their second-string but highly versatile tight end, Delanie Walker.

Seattle Seahawks:  The ultra-low kicker tag of $2.9 million could be used to keep the strong-legged Steven Hauschka.

St. Louis Rams:  Receiver Danny Amendola has become one of the best slot receivers in the NFL, but his injury history and the eight-figure franchise tender for wideouts likely will scare the Rams away.  Still, if Amendola hits the market, he won’t be there long.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  The Bucs plans to spend on keeping their own guys.  When it comes to using the tag, it’s a toss-up between tackle Jeremy Trueblood and defensive end Michael Bennett, or neither.

Tennessee Titans:  The Titans reportedly are expected to use the tag on tight end Jared Cook, absent a multi-year deal.  Kicker Rob Bironas also is a possibility, but he had a cap number of $3.675 million in 2012.  Which means that the tag would cost the Titans $4.41 million in 2013, $1.5 million more than the base tag for kickers and punters.

Washington Redskins:  With $18 million in missing cap space, the Redskins can’t afford to use the tag.  Especially since tagging tight end Fred Davis again would bump his 2012 tender by 20 percent — a year after he suffered a torn Achilles tendon.  Punter Sav Rocca is a slim possibility, but even the $2.9 million will be more than the Redskins can justify with their cap situation.

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Gore, others reflect on Zurlon Tipton’s death

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 28:  Zurlon Tipton #37 of the Indianapolis Colts carries the ball during the second half of a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 28, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

The death of ex-Colts running back Zurlon Tipton hit Frank Gore hard.

Teammates for much of last season, Gore and Tipton spent plenty of time together in the running back meeting room and in practices.

“This really messed me up,” Colts running back Frank Gore told the Indy Star. “He was a good dude. He really wanted football to work out. He was always great with the playbook but most of all, he was a great person. He loved to have fun. He was always loud and acting crazy in the locker room. That’s just who he was.”

The Colts retweeted a series of tweets on Tipton from current Colts players on the team’s official Twitter account.

Tipton played in 16 games for the Colts over the last two seasons. He was killed Tuesday when a gun he was carrying in a duffel bag accidentally discharged and Tipton was hit. He died after being transported to a Detroit hospital.

“Rest in peace, Zurlon,” Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted. “My thoughts and prayers go out to the Tipton family.”

Tipton was a four-year contributor at Central Michigan and had 19 rushing touchdowns in 2012, his junior season.

“This is shocking and tragic news, and our condolences go out to Zurlon’s family and friends,” a statement from the Central Michigan athletic department said. “We knew Zurlon as a good guy, a captain and a student who grew as a person and a player on his way to getting his degree at CMU. What he did on the field in his career established him as one of the top running backs in CMU history.”

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Seahawks, Baldwin agree on four-year extension

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17:  Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks and wide receiver Doug Baldwin have agreed to a four-year contract extension, per multiple reports.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the new deal is worth “north of $11 million per year,” and Mike Garafolo of FS1 reported that it averages $11.5 million per season.

Baldwin had been set to make $4 million in 2016, the final year of the contract he was playing under prior to the extension. Baldwin, 27, has been a key part of the Seahawks offense since making the team as an undrafted rookie in 2011.

Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said earlier this month that team intended to get Baldwin signed “for a good while” and that extending him was “a big deal.”

Baldwin’s 78 catches, 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015 were all career highs.

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Cowboys could see Ezekiel Elliott get 300 carries

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott during the team's rookie camp at Happy Valley in Irving, Texas, on Saturday, May 7, 2016. (Brandon Wade/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS) Getty Images

The Cowboys plan to make rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott a workhorse.

That’s the word from David Helman of DallasCowboys.com, who writes that Elliott will have somewhere in the range of 280 to 300 carries, or around 18 a game, in 2016.

That would suggest that the Cowboys plan to use Elliott about as much as any NFL team uses any running back. Last year Adrian Peterson led the NFL with 327 carries, while Doug Martin was second with 288 carries. If Elliott really carries the ball 18 times a game, he could compete for the league lead in carries.

Of course, that’s nothing compared to the way Cowboys coach Jason Garrett used running back DeMarco Murray in 2014, when Murray had 392 carries, the most for anyone in any season in the NFL in the last 10 years. Garrett has proven he won’t hesitate to give a running back a heavy workload.

Elliott won’t have that heavy a workload. But he’s going to get the ball a lot this year.

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Seahawks rookie QB facing one assault charge from bowl game incident

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 29:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs carries the ball against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second half at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 29, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks rookie quarterback Trevone Boykin faces one count of misdemeanor assault for his role in a Dec. 31 fight in San Antonio that resulted in Boykin being sent home before his final college game, TMZ reported Tuesday.

Boykin was initially charged with a felony count of assualting a public servant, public intoxication and resisting arrest. Court documents say Boykin struck an officer trying to take him into custody after he was removed by staff members from a bar. He didn’t play in the Alamo Bowl for TCU after the charges.

The report said Boykin faces up to a year in a jail on the assault charge he’s facing and is due to be arraigned in August.

Boykin signed with the Seahawks after the draft. The Seahawks went through the spring with only Boykin and Jake Heaps in their quarterback room behind Tarvaris Jackson, and with Jackson still unsigned and now facing gun charges after an incident last weekend, Boykin could end up being the team’s No. 2 quarterback.

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Cordarrelle Patterson: Sometimes I didn’t work hard enough

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 03:  Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Minnesota Vikings fumbles the football as he returns a kick during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Vikings didn’t pick up their fifth-year option on wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson’s contract this offseason, leaving the 2013 first-round pick on track for free agency after the season.

If Patterson is going to generate a robust market for his services, he’ll need to be more than the kick return specialist he was in 2015. Patterson returned two kicks for touchdowns, but caught just two passes while playing 64 snaps on offense. One way that Patterson can improve his chances of seeing the field as a wideout is by boosting his work ethic. It’s an area that Patterson admits has been lacking at times.

“Sometimes you can be here and you feel like you’ve got to be on the team,” Patterson said, via the Pioneer Press. “You feel like, ‘Yeah, I’m a first-round pick, I’m on the team.’ Things like that, sometimes they make you not work hard, they make you don’t want to do things, make you be lazy.”

Patterson’s work this offseason drew notice from coach Mike Zimmer for being short on the mental errors that have plagued him in the past, although the addition of Laquon Treadwell in the first round leaves little room at the top of the depth chart. Patterson says he feels thing “will work out well” for him if he shows the coaches that he can “do what I’m supposed to.” Anything less and there won’t be much offensive film for Patterson to show suitors on the open market next year.

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Plain language of PED policy cuts against NFL’s attempt to interview players

al_jazeera_america Getty Images

With the NFL and the NFL Players Association squaring off over whether and to what extent five players implicated by an Al Jazeera documentary featuring since-recanted allegations of PED use, it makes sense to retreat to square one and determine when and how an investigation regarding PED use based on media reports can even happen.

Arguably, it can’t happen at all, in the absence of “credible evidence” that would justify discipline of Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal, and/or James Harrison. (Peyton Manning was implicated, but he has retired and is apparently not subject to discipline.)

Most PED violations occur when a player submits a urine sample that reveals a banned substance. Under the PED policy, discipline also may be imposed for (as the title of Section 5 of the policy states) “violations of law and other documented evidence-based violations.”

With no alleged violation of the law happening in the case of the players implicated by the Al Jazeera report, the question becomes whether the Al Jazeera report and any ensuing investigation by the league permits discipline based on “other documented evidence-based violations.”

Under the policy, that clause specifically is triggered when players “are found through sufficient credible documented evidence (see footnote 4) to have used, possessed or distributed performance-enhancing substances.” At footnote 4, the policy defines “credible documented evidence” as “criminal convictions or plea arrangements; admissions, declarations, affidavits, authenticated witness statements, corroborated law enforcement reports or testimony in legal proceedings; authenticated banking, telephone, medical or pharmacy records; or credible information obtained from Players who provide assistance pursuant to Section 10 of the Policy.”

Footnote 4 at no point includes “media reports” or anything remotely close to it, making the Al Jazeera report an insufficient basis for imposing discipline. At most, it can be the starting point for an investigation.

But what is the ending point? According to the policy, a violation can be based only on “criminal convictions or plea arrangements; admissions, declarations, affidavits, authenticated witness statements, corroborated law enforcement reports or testimony in legal proceedings; authenticated banking, telephone, medical or pharmacy records; or credible information obtained from Players who provide assistance pursuant to Section 10 of the Policy.”

Setting aside for now the question of what that laundry list of potential pieces of evidence does and doesn’t include, the structure of the policy indicates that the league must determine that a violation has occurred based on “credible evidence,” impose discipline, and allow the appeal process to unfold.

As crafted, the policy doesn’t contemplate a “probable cause”-type determination of a potential violation that then justifies interrogating players under a proverbial or actual hot light. Instead, the policy requires the league to first find “credible evidence” of a violation, impose discipline for the violation, share the “credible evidence” with the players, and then hear from the players as part of the appeal process.

In other words, there’s no language in the policy requiring the players to provide any information before the NFL concludes based on the information it already has developed that a violation occurred.

The league is blurring the lines in this case, possibly for fear of creating the impression that it regards the Al Jazeera report to be “credible evidence” without having a chance to directly assess the credibility of the players who were implicated. Still, the policy as negotiated by the NFL and the NFLPA requires the league to make an assessment based on “credible evidence,” impose discipline, and then allow the players to defend themselves against the allegedly “credible evidence.”

If the NFL is sufficiently concerned that the players in this case would be able to successfully defend themselves in front of a neutral arbitrator, then maybe the “credible evidence” isn’t.

Critics of the NFLPA routinely blame the union for not doing enough at the bargaining table to, for example, compel the Commissioner to surrender final say over matters like the Personal Conduct Policy or threats to the integrity of the game. In this case, it’s fair to point out that the league signed off on a procedure that requires it to develop and identify “credible evidence” of a violation before the player must potentially implicate himself by answering questions at a hearing.

That seems to be the crux of the problem. Given the relevant language of the policy, the NFLPA’s best approach could be to say, “Impose discipline if you believe you have ‘credible evidence’ of a violation. Until that happens, the players have no obligation to do anything.”

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Johnny Manziel turns up in Mexico, taunts his dad

PALM SPRINGS, CA - APRIL 17:  Johnny Manziel attends REVOLVE Desert House on April 17, 2016  at  on April 17, 2016 in Palm Springs, California.  (Photo by Thaddaeus McAdams/FilmMagic) Getty Images

In case Johnny Manziel’s father is wondering if his tough love message last week got through, the answer seems to be a resounding “No.”

The former Browns quarterback just posted a photo on Instagram of himself at a resort in Mexico, wearing a Josh Gordon jersey and celebrating how good he thinks he has it.

The message includes the oh-so-rebellious hashtag #hiDad, which doesn’t suggest that the son was very receptive to his father calling him a “druggie” and saying he hoped he went to jail.

Of course, Manziel also made it clear Gordon wasn’t with him. Though the two are friends, Gordon’s probably relieved he pointed that out.

After all, Gordon’s trying to get reinstated, and apparently taking the steps needed to achieve that goal.

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Seahawks add another long snapper

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 8: Khairi Fortt #54 of the New Orleans Saints warms up prior to a pre-season game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on August 8, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks signed rookie long snapper Nolan Frese Tuesday and released linebacker Khairi Fortt.

Frese tried out for the Seahawks Monday and becomes the third long snapper the team has signed this offseason. Andrew East was signed and later released and is now with the Raiders, and now the signing of Frese means he’ll compete with Drew Ferris for the team’s long snapping job when training camp opens in late July.

The Seahawks released Clint Gresham earlier this offseason. Gresham had been the team’s long snapper for the last six seasons.

Ferris signed with the Seahawks in March. He was briefly with the Jets last season.

Fortt has bounced around the league the last two seasons. He had signed with the Seahawks last month.

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Former Colts RB Zurlon Tipton dead after accidental shooting

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 07: Running back Zurlon Tipton #37 of the Indianapolis Colts carries the ball against the New York Jets during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office has announced that former Colts running back Zurlon Tipton died in Michigan on Tuesday after accidentally shooting himself at the age of 26.

FOX2 in Detroit reports, via Roseville police, that Tipton pulled into a car dealership on Tuesday morning and removed a duffel bag from his trunk. The bag had two guns inside of it and police say that one of them went off with the bullet striking Tipton in the stomach.

Tipton was reportedly speaking to people on the scene before being transported to the hospital. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

Tipton, who was arrested on a gun charge last December, played 16 games for the Colts over the last two years after making the team as an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan in 2014. Tipton was waived near the end of last season and was not on any NFL roster this offseason.

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Jaelen Strong not threatened by new arrivals at receiver

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 30:   Jaelen Strong #11 of the Houston Texans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 30, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Just as receiver Jaelen Strong, a third-round pick in 2015, was ready to emerge as the primary complement to star Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans added two more in the draft — first-rounder Will Fuller and third-rounder Braxton Miller. So how did Strong react to the development?

“I felt like it was a great addition,” Strong told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “I feel like we’re going have some fun out there this year and I’m very excited for Braxton and Will. Two young guys ready to come to work every day. Every day they’re excited, they ask questions and that’s the stuff we need.”

How do you keep everyone happy when there’s that many talented receivers and only one football?

“Well, we all just want to win,” Strong said. “That’s all there is to it. We stay on top of each other. When the opportunities come you have to make the best of your opportunities. With those guys around us, around everybody and the teammates that we got, Brock [Osweiler] and Coach [Bill] O’Brien it’s all business, all fun. We’re just ready to go out there and do whatever we can to help our team win.”

Having four quality wideouts will help the team win plenty of games this year, assuming Osweiler and O’Brien can figure out hot to get the ball into their hands as often as possible.

The full interview with Jaelen Strong appears below. Or you can get the podcast for the full show at iTunes or audioBoom

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EA to pay Jim Brown $600K for unauthorized use of his likeness in Madden game

Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 1 Getty Images

The long legal battle between Hall of Famer Jim Brown and video game maker Electronic Arts over the use of Brown’s likeness in an edition of Madden NFL has come to an end.

Brown’s law firm Hagens Berman announced that their client has accepted $600,000 from the company to settle Brown’s claim that his likeness was used without his authorization. Brown claimed EA approached him about using his likeness as part of the roster of old Browns teams in the game and then used an avatar with the height, weight, skin color, experience, team, position and ability level after Brown, who originally filed suit in 2008, refused their request.

“I took a stand for all athletes and laid a framework for future plaintiffs with my great legal team,” Brown said in a statement. “Hopefully, this is a step forward in getting companies like Electronic Arts to recognize the value that athletes have in selling their products.”

Brown’s attorney Robert Carey said companies like EA “should think twice before it turns players’ hard-won identities and achievements into merchandise without permission or compensation.” EA had argued that the use of the likeness was “incidental,” which did not sway a Los Angeles court to grant their motion to dismiss the case in 2015.

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Eugene Monroe: I don’t feel I have to jump on first opportunities that come up

Baltimore Ravens v Chicago Bears Getty Images

It’s been a couple of weeks since tackle Eugene Monroe was released by the Ravens and it doesn’t sound like an announcement of his next team is imminent.

Monroe had conversations with the Giants right after being dispatched by Baltimore that were reportedly centered around Monroe making the move to right tackle after playing on the left side throughout his time with the Jaguars and Ravens. During an appearance on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn, Monroe said he’s “very respectful” of the early interest but that he doesn’t feel pressure to sign with a team right away.

“After the Ravens released me, some interest sprung up,” Monroe said. “We’ve been in discussions with a few teams, but this is very new. I’ve been released and it’s been just a short amount of time since that happened. I’m weighing my options right now. I don’t feel like I have to jump on one of the first opportunities that come up.”

Monroe didn’t say anything concrete about whether he’s willing to move to the right side when asked on Tuesday, saying only that “time will tell” what’s best for him. He did say that he hoped that his outspoken support for the NFL to OK the use of medical marijuana would not impact his playing future. Giants coach Ben McAdoo said that the team isn’t put off by that advocacy, which may leave his willingness to take on a new position as the biggest thing standing in the way of a new job.

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Rex Ryan: We take comfort knowing Buddy lives through us

RexandBuddy Getty Images

Hours after the death of Buddy Ryan, Bills coach Rex Ryan has released a statement remembering his legendary father.

“On behalf of the entire Ryan family, we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their sympathies, prayers and warm thoughts with the passing of my dad,” Rex Ryan said. “He was many things to many people–outstanding coach, mentor, fierce competitor, father figure, faithful friend and the list goes on. But to me and my brothers Rob and Jim, he was so much more. He was everything you want in a dad–tough when he had to be, compassionate when you didn’t necessarily expect it, and a loving teacher and confidant who cherished his family. He truly was our hero.”

Rex, who hired his twin brother Rob as an assistant this year, said he takes pride in following in his father’s footsteps in the coaching profession.

“For Rob and me, we’ve had the great fortune of sharing the coaching profession that he was so proud of and cherished so much. There is no way we can possibly begin to measure how much football we have learned from him over the years and we are forever thankful to him for instilling within us his unwavering love for the game of football,” Rex said. “While today is a tough day for all of us in the Ryan family, we are consoled in knowing how much dad was loved by so many and the love he gave back in return. Though we will miss him dearly, we take comfort in knowing that his memory will live on through all of us.”

Rex and Rob got their first NFL job coaching on Buddy’s staff in his final stint as a head coach, with the Cardinals in 1994 and 1995.

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Danny Amendola feeling “really good” after surgeries

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots reacts after a play in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s a quiet time around the league right now, which leaves players coming off of injuries with little to do other than make sure that they’re feeling well when it comes time for training camp.

Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is in that group. Amendola had knee and ankle surgeries earlier this offseason that kept him off the field during OTAs and minicamp, but he didn’t sound like he expects the procedures to have much impact on the regular season during an appearance on ESPN Tuesday.

“I feel really good,” Amendola said. “I had a couple minor procedures done after the season. Everybody knows how long the season can be. I wanted to go into next season feeling as fresh and ready as I can.”

Amendola will likely be eased back into work once camp gets underway and he’ll join Chris Hogan, Nate Washington, Keshawn Martin, rookie Marvin Mitchell and others in a competition for snaps along with Julian Edelman at receiver. Taking a pay cut for the second straight year probably doesn’t hurt a healthy Amendola’s chances of emerging with a similar role to the one he played while catching 65 passes for 648 yards.

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Raiders survey sent to Las Vegas residents

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 23:  The famous neon "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign located at the south entrance to town is viewed on December 23, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Las Vegas, the popular Southwest desert tourist getaway, appears to be making a slow economic recovery following a tough global recession.  (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Raiders and Las Vegas continue a money-fueled mating dance, the team that may move to Nevada has officially commenced the process of getting to know more about its potential new neighbors.

Via Richard N. Velotta of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, an 83-question survey has been sent to more than 10,000 addresses in the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce’s database.

The Chamber of Commerce sent the survey as a community service, at no cost to the Raiders.

The survey addresses issues like potential interest in a move and seating preferences at a new stadium. It steers clear of the potentially controversial question of public vs. private financing.

And for good reason. Lawyers shouldn’t ask questions to which they don’t already know the answer, and pollsters shouldn’t ask questions that could lead to answers they don’t want to know.

A potential tug-of-war looms regarding the existing plan to use roughly $750 million in taxpayer dollars and a recent suggestion from a top economic consultant to the governor that the amount should be reduced by $200 million.

 

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