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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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Panthers sign Wes Horton to two-year deal

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 11:  Wes Horton #96 of the Carolina Panthers looks on after a play against the San Diego Chargers in the 1st quarter during the game at Bank of America Stadium on December 11, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers are keeping another defensive end from hitting the open market.

They announced a new contract for Mario Addison on Sunday and Monday brings word of a new deal for Wes Horton as well. The Panthers announced that they have signed Horton to a two-year extension that will keep him under contract through the end of the 2018 season.

Horton was cut by the Panthers in September, but returned to the team in October and wound up making 10 starts in his 11 appearances with the club. He recorded 11 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles and has 8.5 sacks over his 45 games with the team since arriving in Carolina as an undrafted rookie in 2013.

The Panthers have one more defensive end set for unrestricted free agency in Charles Johnson. Defensive tackle Kawann Short is also on track to become a free agent, although the expectation around the Panthers has been that the team will use the franchise tag to ensure a longer stay for Short.

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Cowboys legends want Ezekiel Elliott to stop with the hurdling

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys hurdles Chris Prosinski #31 of the Chicago Bears while carrying the ball in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott rookie season stood out — even for a franchise which has produced a number of big-time backs.

But those Cowboys legends also had a word of advice for the eager young back — stop trying to hurdle people.

He better stop that. He better stop that. He better stop that,” Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett said, via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “That’s one thing that I don’t like. When you get airborne, you’re at the mercy of the hit, and sometimes you can’t protect yourself. I think as he gets older he may take that out of his repertoire. He needs to stop that. That scares me every time he gets airborne. I’m like oh….”

Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time rushing leader, echoed that sentiment, saying he cringes when he sees Elliott up in the air.

“Get on the ground as quickly as possible,” Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith said. “Every time I watch somebody run, I’m looking very closely, very tentatively, seeing how they fall because a lot of things happen when you fall.”

Elliott was a high school hurdler, and it became a bit of a signature move last season. And while the old guys might get a little nervous, they might also worrying about some of their franchise rushing records.

Elliott led the league in rushing (1,631 yards) and scored 15 touchdowns last year, eclipsing the rookie numbers set by Smith (937) and Dorsett (1,007) when they were rookies.

They also never used their leaping ability to jump into a giant Salvation Army kettle at the end of a touchdown run. No matter what any old guy says, Elliott should never stop doing that, because it was awesome, that’s why.

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Report: Mutual interest between Cowboys, Josh McCown

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 30:  Josh McCown #13 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass during the second quarter against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Veteran quarterback Josh McCown said last week that he’s had “good conversations” with several teams since being released by the Browns earlier this month and it appears one of those teams is the Cowboys.

Ed Werder of ESPN reports that there is “mutual interest” between McCown and Dallas about striking a deal for the 2017 season. McCown would be the backup to Dak Prescott under that scenario, but Werder adds any deal would have to wait for the Cowboys to sort things out with the guy who closed out last season as Prescott’s backup.

That’s Tony Romo, of course, and owner Jerry Jones said over the weekend that there’s no decision at this point about what will happen with the longtime Cowboy. Romo could be traded or released with Werder reporting earlier this month that Romo expecting the latter outcome.

McCown is able to sign with a team ahead of the start of free agency, but said last week that he is “gonna take my time” before settling on a home for next season.

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Dolphins bracing for Kenny Stills departure

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 27: Kenny Stills #10 of the Miami Dolphins scores a touchdown in the 3rd quarter against the San Francisco 49ers  at Hard Rock Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins know that receiver Kenny Stills will get more money from another team than what the Dolphin can or will pay him. The amount of money Stills will get is beginning to come into focus.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that the market for Still already is in the range of $12 million per year. This hasn’t kept the Dolphins from officially bowing out, but unless Stills is willing to take less than he could get elsewhere, he’s likely to leave.

As Salguero explained last week on PFT Live, the situation boils down to one simple proposition: Other teams will pay Stills like a No. 1 receiver, and the Dolphins won’t — because their No. 1 receiver is Jarvis Landry.

Salguero now points out that the Eagles are considered to be the favorite to land Stills, which is the latest evidence that tampering is rampant this time of year. Indeed, there should be no information about what the market for Stills would be or could be until next Tuesday, when the legal tampering window opens. But there is, and there always will be.

Especially as the Scouting Combine approaches, where every team and every agent can get together to negotiation in advance of when they are allowed to negotiate.

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Report: Chiefs expected to tag Eric Berry, let Dontari Poe hit free agency

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18:  Strong safety Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs is introduced prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chiefs safety Eric Berry said Sunday that he doesn’t have high hopes that he and the team would agree to terms on a multi-year contract before the March 1 deadline to use the franchise tag.

A report from Ed Werder of ESPN makes it sound like Berry has good reason for pessimism on that front. Unless there’s a change in the next 48 hours, Werder reports that the expectation in Kansas City is that the team will use the tag on Berry for the second straight season.

Berry said in the past and again on Sunday that he will not play out the year under the tag, which would leave him in position to make around $13 million barring a long-term deal. The two sides would have until July 15 to work on such a contract.

Using the tag on Berry would mean the Chiefs couldn’t use it on defensive tackle Dontari Poe. Per Werder, the expectation is that the Chiefs would then let Poe hit free agency next month. Poe would likely find a good market for his services under that scenario and that could push his price out of range for the Chiefs to hold onto both of their free agent defensive stars.

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Joe Mixon interview re-airs at 11:35 a.m. ET

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 01:  Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners in the first half at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Running back Joe Mixon won’t be available for 15-minute interviews with teams at the Scouting Combine. He was available for 15 minutes on PFT Live earlier today.

MDS has summarized some of the key comments from Mixon. The full interview will re-air on NBC Sports Radio at 11:35 a.m. ET (Sirius 213, XM 202,, NBC Sports Radio app). We’re also preparing a full transcript of the session, and the interview will eventually be posted at PFT and available for download via podcast.

It will be up to the listener to assess whether Mixon’s explanation of the events seems accurate and honest, and whether his remorse seems genuine. Ultimately, it will be up to the 32 teams to evaluate Mixon for draft purposes. Today’s interview will be one piece (albeit small) of the broader puzzle that will likely result in someone drafting him in April.

After having a chance to digest what he said in further detail, I’ll offer up some of my own opinion about what Mixon said and how he said it.

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Joe Mixon: I made a bad decision, I can’t take it back

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

Former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon won’t be at the Scouting Combine this week. The NFL didn’t invite him because of the infamous incident in which he punched a woman, seriously injuring her. But Mixon is hoping to get a chance to tell NFL teams he has learned from the ugly assault.

Mixon said this morning on PFT Live that he has grown as a person and hopes NFL teams will believe that.

“I made a bad decision,” Mixon said. “Ever since that night I have to live with it. I’ve got to re-live it every day. You can never forget something like that. It still haunts me to this day, but it’s what you do from that point on. You can’t take it back. I can replay it in my head a thousand times, and if I could take it back I would, but I can’t.”

Mixon said he still believes he can be a good role model and wants to earn the privilege of playing in the NFL.

“I’m trying to educate youth throughout the community and having them learn from my mistakes,” Mixon said.

No one doubts that Mixon is good enough to play in the NFL, but there are some doubts about whether any owners will want the video of Mixon knocking a woman to the ground playing on the local news, which will happen in any city where the team drafts Mixon. He’s hoping that by speaking publicly now, he can convince a team that drafting him won’t be a public relations nightmare.

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Mario Addison: Only thing I needed was the opportunity

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Addison #97 of the Carolina Panthers sacks quarterback Case Keenum #17 of the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter of the game at the Los Angeles Coliseum on November 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

Defensive end Mario Addison won’t be hitting free agency when the new league year opens next week.

Addison has a new three-year contract with the Panthers worth a reported $22.5 million, which means a player who entered the league as an undrafted free agent has found a home after bouncing through three other teams in his first two NFL seasons. Addison didn’t get many chances with the Bears, Redskins or Colts, but has seen his playing time with the Panthers go up steadily while recording 22 sacks over the last three seasons.

“If you bounce around here and there, it kind of makes you discouraged,” Addison said, via the Charlotte Observer. “And I will be the first to admit that I got a little discouraged in the beginning of my career. I never gave up, because I know the things I could do. The craziest thing about it was, I was playing on teams that had young guys like me that were just drafted. And I kept thinking to myself, ‘You are better than those guys. Only thing you need is the opportunity.'”

Addison has remained a situational player for the Panthers, but may be called on to do more over the life of his new contract. It’s something he said he believes he can do, because “the sky is the limit” for a player who has already exceeded many expectations.

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Monday morning one-liners

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:   Nick Mangold #74 of the New York Jets takes the field for their game against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Which free agent wide receivers will be on the Bills’ radar?

The Dolphins are running short on time to keep WR Kenny Stills from hitting the open market.

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski appeared to be enjoying himself at the Daytona 500.

Will going young put Jets coach Todd Bowles in a tough spot?

S Matt Elam’s arrest guarantees he’ll rank among the Ravens’ worst draft picks.

Would the Bengals consider a receiver in the first round?

The Browns have a lot of scouting work to do this week.

Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert wants the combine to be a scouting event first and entertainment second.

The promise of J.J. Watt’s return makes the Texans defensive line an imposing unit.

Is a taller wideout in the cards for the Colts?

Toughness was a big theme of Jaguars executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin’s press conference last week.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey is keeping his eye on the rest of the AFC South.

LB Steve Russ is the only player from Air Force who has been drafted by the Broncos.

The Chiefs inducted WR Carlos Carson into their team Hall of Fame.

Breaking down the Raiders tight ends.

Former Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson was the honorary starter at the Daytona 500.

Former Cowboys running backs would like to see the new one do less hurdling.

A look at what the Giants might do at linebacker this offseason.

A handful of guards that might interest the Eagles in the draft.

Is C Nick Mangold a possibility for the Redskins?

Quarterback and defensive back are both big needs for the Bears.

The Lions should be watching the safeties at the combine.

A call for the Packers to address defensive needs through free agency.

The Vikings want to win more battles inside the 5-yard-line.

A look back at the combine workout that helped Vic Beasley land with the Falcons.

More moves are likely coming on the Panthers defensive line.

The musts, needs and wants of the Saints offseason.

Examining whether C Nick Mangold would be a fit with the Buccaneers.

Nick Folk could factor into the Cardinals’ kicking decisions.

Some suggested areas for the Rams to focus on in their draft evaluations.

Will the 49ers follow a similar blueprint to the one the Raiders used in recent years?

Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse has been spending time with high school kids this offseason.

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Report: Bears not expected to tag Alshon Jeffery again

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 31:  Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on October 31, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s no doubt Alshon Jeffery has talent, and hasn’t had the best supporting cast around him lately. But it doesn’t appear the Bears are willing to invest more than $17 million for a year to make sure he stays.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Bears are not expected to use the franchise tag again on the wide receiver.

This one is practically #asexpected, mostly because Jeffery hasn’t been very good the last two years. He’s missed 11 games with a combination of injuries and a PED suspension, and he’s barely topped 800 yards in each of them.

After totaling 2,554 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns the two years before, he seemed poised to break the bank. But it appears he’ll get a chance at the market now.

There should still be plenty of interest in the 27-year-old Jeffery, but it appears the Bears aren’t willing to pay a premium price for one more season of him.

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Adrian Peterson’s father lobbying for a way to keep son a Viking

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 1: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Rams on September 1, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Rams 27-25. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

The lobbying effort to keep Adrian Peterson in Minnesota has begun, and it appears the Vikings running back is willing to be flexible in terms of how much he’ll make next year.

Via ESPN, Peterson’s father Nelson Peterson said he hopes his son gets to wrap up his career where it started.

“Finishing your career in one place [has value],” the father said. “I look at how Arizona treated Larry [Fitzgerald], how they are taking care of guys who have been there.”

Fitzgerald may have given the Cardinals a bit of a break in his last extension, and played for $11 million last year. He responded with a league-high 107 receptions.

Peterson’s under contract for $18 million this year, including a $6 million roster bonus due March 11. The degree to which he’s prepared to bend off those obviously inflated numbers may determine how willing they are to keep him, if they don’t want to release him.

Peterson’s 31, and because of injuries and suspension, he’s had one good season and two lost ones in his last three. He led the Vikings to the playoffs in 2015 with 1,485 rushing yards, but was averaging just 1.9 yards a carry last year before he got hurt.

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Rob Gronkowski wants Martellus Bennett to break the bank

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 07: Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett of the New England Patriots celebrate during the Super Bowl victory parade on February 7, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime in Super Bowl 51. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) Getty Images

Rob Gronkowski doesn’t want his fellow Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett to take a team-friendly deal to stay in New England this offseason.

Instead, Gronkowski is urging Bennett to try to strike it rich in free agency.

“I’m hoping that he breaks the bank,” Gronkowski told ESPN. “Whenever you see a tight end break the bank, it’s good for the industry; it’s good for the position. You want to see the position grow.”

Bennett doesn’t like it when people tell him he should take less money to stay in New England, but he may like hearing Gronkowski’s thoughts. Even if Bennett will have to leave New England to break the bank.

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Joe Mixon visits PFT Live on Monday

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 12:   Running back Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners warms up before the game against the Baylor Bears November 12, 2016 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Baylor 45-24. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL won’t let Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon visiting the Scouting Combine. As Scouting Combine week begins, he’ll be visiting PFT Live instead.

The man who was captured on video with a vicious knockout punch to a young woman in 2014 is one of the most controversial draft prospects in recent years. Some say he would be a second-round or maybe even a first-round prospect if his off-field record were clean. Now, it’s far less clear — in part because plenty of teams won’t consider drafting him in any round.

If he is drafted, the team that takes him needs to be prepared for a backlash that could potentially force the team to renounce its rights to Mixon.

Regardless of whether and when he’s drafted, Mixon should be in Indianapolis this week, going from room to room and being grilled in 15-minute increments about the incident and whether he has shown true remorse or whether he’s simply saying what he thinks teams want to hear. I plan to ask him some of the same questions he’d face if he were in Indianapolis, based on information obtained from multiple teams about the questions they would be asking, if Mixon were there.

He’ll be calling the show at 8:35 a.m. ET. Before that, we’ll talk to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as we take a look at the offseason priorities for the teams of the AFC North. The show begins at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the NBCSN simulcast commencing at 7:00 a.m. ET.

Listen at Sirius 213, XM 202,, the NBC Sports Radio app, and on any of the many terrestrial stations that carry the show.

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Eric Berry: “Not getting my hopes up” about long-term deal

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 13:  Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after a play against the Carolina Panthers in the 1st quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The deadline for teams to use the franchise tag comes this Wednesday and one player who would like to see the day pass without the tag being used is Chiefs safety Eric Berry.

Berry played out the 2016 season under the terms of the tag and is a candidate to get it again unless he and the team can agree to a deal before the March 1 deadline. There have been talks and Berry said Sunday, via Adam Teicher of, that his choice would be to sign a multi-year contract in the next few days, but he didn’t sound terribly optimistic that they’ll strike a deal.

“I’m just being patient because you never know…I’m not getting my hopes up,” Berry said.

Tagging Berry would set his salary at around $13 million, although he reiterated that his vow not to play out another year on the tag. A second tag for the safety would also leave them a little less than a week to talk about a contract with defensive tackle Dontari Poe before other teams can open up dialogue with the impending free agent as well.

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Derrick Brooks to Jameis Winston: “That’s the fishbowl you live in”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers  linebacker Derrick Brooks warmsup against the Buffalo Bills September 18, 2005 in Tampa.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Much was said this week about the boys-are-strong-girls-are-silent comments from Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. Hall of Fame Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks had a few things to say directly to Winston, primarily to help him avoid similar problems in the future.

That’s the fishbowl you live in,” Brooks told Jameis, according to a Sunday interview with Brooks on 102.5 FM in Tampa, via

Instead of criticizing Winston or criticizing the media for criticizing Winston, Brooks focused on looking ahead. He told Winston that he shouldn’t “go into a turtle shell,” and that he should consider techniques other than long speeches when speaking to kids.

On one hand, Winston could be doing far worse things than trying to inspire and guide youth; he should be praised for that effort and encouraged to continue it. On the other hand, his seat-of-the-pants attempt to deal with one boy who didn’t seem to be enthused by Winston’s speech resulted in comments that revealed a laughably outdated mindset regarding gender-based stereotypes that mainstream society ditched in the 1960s.

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