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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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The full Patrick Peterson contract details

Peterson Getty Images

It took a little while, but we’ve gotten our hands on the full details and financial terms of the Patrick Peterson contract.

As Peterson first reported last night (Pulitzer!), it’s a five-year extension worth $70 million.  (Actually, $70.05 million, and the $0.05 million is important.)  The signing bonus is $15.361 million.  Coupled with a fully-guaranteed base salary of slightly more than $888,000, Peterson is guaranteed to receive $16.25 million at signing — all of which will be earned in 2014.

For 2015, he gets a $100,000 workout bonus and a base salary of $11.619 million.  Guaranteed for injury only at signing, the 2015 base salary converts to a full guarantee on the fifth day of the 2015 waiver period.

In 2016, Peterson is eligible for a $250,000 workout bonus.  His base salary of $9.75 million is fully guaranteed for injury only.  It converts to a full guarantee on the fifth day of the 2016 waiver period.

The same base terms apply in 2017, with the base salary fully guaranteed by the fifth day of the 2017 waiver period.  (Apparently, a sizable chunk of the 2017 base salary becomes fully guaranteed in 2016.)

In 2018, Peterson can earn a $250,000 workout bonus and an $11 million non-guaranteed base salary.  Ditto for 2019.

For 2020, there’s a $250,000 workout bonus, a $250,000 reporting bonus, and a non-guaranteed base salary of $12.05 million.

It add ups to $14.01 million per year over the five new years on a new-money analysis.  For the full seven years, Peterson will earn $83.019 million.  That’s an average of $11.859 million per year, with the two existing contract years included in the calculation.

So how does Peterson’s deal compare to other big cornerback deals?  We’ll put some together that breaks the deals down from a variety of angles later this afternoon.

And the over/under on the number of you actually anxious to see that is 2.75 percent.

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NFL makes Cris Carter, Michael Irvin Pro Bowl captains

Former Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Irvin unveils Madden 13 during the Electronic Arts news conference as part of E3 in Los Angeles, California Reuters

For the second year in a row, the NFL will eschew the traditional AFC-NFC Pro Bowl format and instead use Hall of Famers as team captains. The league announced today that Cris Carter and Michael Irvin will pick Pro Bowl squads this year.

The Pro Bowl will take place on Sunday, January 25 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, which will also host the Super Bowl a week later. The Pro Bowlers will be selected using votes of players, coaches and fans, but the teams will be divided not by conference but by Carter and Irvin conducting a “draft” and choosing their own rosters.

Carter was an eight-time Pro Bowler who was enshrined in Canton last year. Irvin was a five-time Pro Bowler who was selected to the Hall of Fame in 2007.

Although the Pro Bowl is often derided for its low quality of play, the NFL likes to boast that it has been America’s most-watched All-Star game for four years in a row. The gimmick of using retired stars as team captains is an effort to make the game feel less stale, and help keep those TV ratings high.

Let’s just hope Carter and Irvin can get through the draft without Carter saying anything to Irvin’s wife.

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Texans running back Arian Foster “talks” to reporters, sort of

Arian Foster AP

I tell my kids at least a dozen times a day “It doesn’t have to be that hard.”

If someone in Houston could share that wisdom with Arian Foster, we’d appreciate it.

The Texans running back came back after missing two practices with an undisclosed injury, and “talked” to reporters.

Sort of.

I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be,” he said in response to every question, via Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle, who didn’t have much tape to transcribe.

Foster had declined all interview requests from the local media since the end of last season, and refused to talk during the opening days of training camp.

Maybe he’s just trying to adapt to new coach Bill O’Brien’s Belichickian ways, or maybe he saw Marshawn Lynch play peek-a-boo with his media responsibilities during the Super Bowl and thought it was cute.

Whatever it was, it was pointless.

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Pete Carroll urges rugby-style tackling in instructional video

petecarroll AP

The NFL’s emphasis on tackling with the shoulders, instead of the head, isn’t just about player safety. According to the coach of the best defense in football, it’s also the most effective way to bring a ball carrier down.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has released an instructional video showing the way his coaching staff teaches tackling.

“Our tackling system features shoulder tackling and a renewed emphasis on taking the head out of tackling. We’ve found our style to be successful in the NFL and in college, and we believe it can be employed at all levels,” Carroll said.

Carroll pointed to rugby — in which players don’t wear helmets — as the sport with the best tackling techniques.

“We have found that we can practice and drill our tackling without pads or a helmet,” Carroll said. “This system of tackling was recently inspired by those who play rugby around the world. Rugby players have truly taken the head out of the game and truly exemplify shoulder tackling.”

If the techniques used in rugby are safer than the techniques in football, that raises a question: Did all of the additional equipment given to football players through the years, supposedly for player safety, actually make the American style of football less safe than it would be if, like rugby, it had eschewed protective equipment through the years?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell probably isn’t going to propose doing away with the helmet any time soon, but he does like what Carroll is preaching.

“Coach Carroll sent me the video and I thought it was terrific,” Goodell said. “It’s a great thing for our game to have the head coach of the Super Bowl champs teaching tackling techniques that protect the head and making it available to everyone. I hope players, coaches and parents at all levels of the game take the time to watch it.”

Carroll says in the video that “We are a shoulder-tackling team.” Goodell wants the NFL to have 32 shoulder-tackling teams.

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Charles Woodson finally feels like he’s playing safety

Charles Woodson AP

Charles Woodson was one of the best cornerbacks in the league for so long, shifting inside to safety as he aged seemed like a smooth transition.

But Woodson admitted it was largely winging it when he first moved.

“When I moved to safety a couple of years ago, I was really playing the position as an athlete,” Woodson told FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I was just going back there and doing it because I can play football and for the most part put myself in the right position. But what [Raiders assistant] Marcus [Robertson] is doing is molding me into a safety and allowing me to see the game from the middle of the field and understanding angles from that position.
“I’m loving it because I’m growing. If you’re not growing in this game, you’re not getting better. I plan on getting better.”

Woodson has been playing safety the last three years, but he said he feels like this is his first season where he feels like a safety.

Robertson said he was a “little apprehensive” about coaching a player of Woodson’s magnitude at first, but likes that the 37-year-old is so fully invested in the transition.

“The one thing about him is the guy wants to learn,” said Robertson, the former Titans safety. “He’s eating it up and working on it. And he’s been extremely coachable.
“It’s a beautiful thing. He’s going to have a big year.”

Having veteran players with something to prove is a common thread among the Raiders this year, but Woodson’s example is something their young players should clearly benefit from.

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PFT Live: Kyle Rudolph, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Minnesota Vikings  v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

What did Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph do after he signed his five-year contract extension with the team this week?

You can find out on Wednesday’s edition of PFT Live. Rudolph will join Mike Florio to discuss why he decided to commit his future to the Vikings. Was it the presence of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner or the promise he’s seen in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater? We’ll ask about that and much more during Rudolph’s visit to the show.

And then it will be Florio’s turn to answer the questions instead of asking them. PFT Planet is invited to send in questions on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 during the show to share what’s on your mind.

It all gets going at noon ET and you can watch it all live at noon ET by clicking right here.

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Commissioner will meet the media this weekend in Canton

Goodell AP

Much has been made about the apparent unwillingness of Commissioner Roger Goodell to answer questions about the controversial decision to suspend Ravens running back Ray Rice only two games for knocking out his then-fiancée (now wife) in an elevator in February.  Earlier this week, the league office dispatched Adolpho Birch to answer questions, and the consensus is that it didn’t go well.

But while Goodell has yet to address the situation with the press, that will end this weekend in Canton.

“The Commissioner meets with the media during the [Hall of Fame] weekend and will do so again this year,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy tells PFT.

It’s safe to say the first question from the assembled media members will relate to Ray Rice.  And perhaps the second.  And perhaps the third.

It’s also safe to say that it will be difficult for Goodell to say or do anything that will change the near-unanimous belief that a league known for getting it right in most situations has gotten this one incredibly wrong.

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Bucs sign Kip Edwards, officially cut Carl Nicks

Carl Nicks AP

The Buccaneers and guard Carl Nicks struck a deal last week to bring Nicks’s time with the Buccaneers to a premature end after a toe injury and subsequent MRSA infection left him unable to play for most of his two years in Tampa.

That parting of the ways became official on Wednesday when the Bucs announced that they have released Nicks, who has indicated that he will not attempt to continue his playing career with another team. The terms of the deal he struck with Tampa before his departure have not been made public.

The Buccaneers signed cornerback Kip Edwards to take Nicks’ place on the roster. Edwards went to camp with the Bills last year and then spent time on practice squads in Minnesota and Cleveland during the regular season.

Tampa needs some depth at corner right now with Alterraun Verner and Rashaan Melvin both nicked up, but Edwards faces an uphill battle to make the team.

 

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Bengals activate Geno Atkins from PUP list

Tom Brady, Geno Atkins AP

The Bengals’ wait for defensive tackle Geno Atkins to be ready to return to practice for the first time since tearing his ACL last season has come to an end.

The team announced Wednesday that they have activated Atkins from the Physically Unable to Perform list, signaling that his recovery from last year’s injury has progressed well enough for Atkins to start taking practice reps with his teammates this week.

While the Bengals’ website says “don’t look for [Atkins] to get right into the heat of the action,” any work he’s doing now will get him closer to full strength for the start of the regular season. Given Atkins’ importance to the Cincinnati defense, that qualifies as a major step in the right direction even if team drills and full contact remain things for future practices.

The Bengals also activated sixth-round pick Marquis Flowers from the PUP list. The linebacker has been bothered by a hamstring injury. Tackle Andrew Whitworth, wide receiver Marvin Jones and tight end Jermaine Gresham are a few of the Bengals still waiting for clearance to practice with the team this summer.

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Texans owner keeping an eye on Raiders’ eyes on Texas

Jerry Jones, Bob McNair AP

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he didn’t “make a lot” of the Raiders’ nosing around the other corner of Texas, but Texans owner Bob McNair is certainly paying attention.

It’s not surprising they would look there cause they’re looking around,” McNair said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “We have a growing fan base there.

“I’m not concerned bout it. We’ll see what the options are. If that’s the best option we’ll see how it plays out.”

Of course, McNair is just one vote of the 32, and the Raiders would need 23 others to get approval to move. But McNair sounded like a guy reminding people about his turf, while trying to sound open-minded.

“The finance committee would have to approve it and I’m chairman of finance committee,” he said. “You’d have to do market research.”

“They need a new stadium. If San Antonio turns out to be the best option I wouldn’t oppose it just cause it’s San Antonio.”

Considering the still vacant hole in the country’s second-largest market, all this talk about the 36th-largest market seems unusual.

But then again, these are the Raiders we’re talking about.

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Seahawks G.M. on Lynch holdout: “Next man up”

Lynch AP

The Marshawn Lynch holdout continues.  And the team continues to create the impression that it’s not worried by his absence.

Even if it is.

Asked on Tuesday by ESPN’s John Clayton whether the team is concerned about the situation, G.M. John Schneider reiterated the team’s philosophy when answering whether the team is concerned.

You know, no,” Schneider said, via the Seattle Times.  “Everybody loves Beast Mode.  We love him and respect the guy. I think what he’s done in this community, for this franchise, is outstanding.  It’s one of those deals where you can never get inside somebody’s head.  We’re just going with our plan, and I know it’s cliché-ish but next man up.  We’ve had a plan in place here for a number of years, and we can’t veer from that plan for one person because it’s the ultimate team sport.”

The plan, as Schneider explained it, is premised on making “tough decisions.”

“You make models two and three years out, and you have to stick to that and know that there’s going to be tough decisions along the way,” Schneider told Clayton.  “We had to let guys like Red Bryant go, Chris Clemons, we weren’t able to sign Breno [Giacomini], Golden Tate.  You have to be able to make those decisions along the way knowing you’ll be able to re-sign Michael Bennett and maybe there’s a free agent that comes in and fits in your bracket. It’s just one of those deals where you have to keep going about your business, and you can’t veer off of that.

“Around here we talk about what’s next, and the next person is up. That being said, last year we went through this with Brandon Browner. He had his [injury], and [Byron Maxwell] got his opportunity. Hey, Marshawn Lynch is phenomenal. Phenomenal player and just a unique part of what we’ve had going on here.  Two years ago we were able to redo his deal, and he was a big part of that foundation that we started here.”

Schneider’s explanation hints at the point of Lynch’s holdout.  A year from now, he may be one of those “tough decisions” the team has to make, when he’s closing in on 30 and he’s due to count $9 million against the cap and Christine Michael or Robert Turbin are ready to take over.  Currently, Lynch continues to be the bell cow.  Which means it’s his last, best chance to extract more money from the franchise.

None of it really matters for now.  Sure, Lynch is racking up $30,000 per day in fines, and his $1.5 million signing bonus allocation is now partially at risk.  But the Seahawks would surely waive all fines and penalties immediately if it gets Lynch back before Week One, especially since he otherwise would be used sparingly in practice and in preseason games before Week One.

That’s why the holdout really isn’t a holdout yet, because Lynch isn’t missing much.  Last year, he had five carries in the entire preseason.  The year before, also five.  In 2011, a whopping six.

This one won’t really register until Labor Day, when the Seahawks are roughly 72 hours away from raising their first-ever championship banner and launching the effort to win a second one.  If Lynch isn’t in the fold come Tuesday morning September 2, it could take more than a bad call on a last-play Hail Mary to emerge from Opening Night with a 1-0 record.

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David Wilson out this week, will see his surgeon on Monday

David Wilson AP

Giants running back David Wilson went to the hospital for a battery of tests after suffering a burner during Tuesday’s practice, but that won’t be the end of the medical evaluations for a player who had spinal fusion surgery last year.

The Giants said Wednesday, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, that Wilson will visit Dr. Frank Cammisa on Monday. Cammisa performed the surgery on Wilson and will presumably checking to make sure that Tuesday’s injury didn’t adversely impact the structural repairs made during the operation.

Wilson will be out of action until at least that appointment, which means he won’t be practicing this week or facing the Bills in the Hall of Fame game on Sunday. That game is one of five that the Giants will play this preseason, so there will still be a lot of time for Wilson to shake off any rust during the preseason as long as the doctors feel that playing won’t create further problems.

It also gives the Giants time to be cautious in bringing Wilson back, something that will almost certainly be their preferred course of action given the nature of Wilson’s injury in 2013 and his quick return to the medical report this year.

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Arian Foster back at practice, Andre Johnson still out

Arian Foster AP

The Texans have had two of their veteran offensive stars on the sideline this week because of hamstring issues, but one of them made it back to the field on Wednesday.

Running back Arian Foster missed a pair of practices because of his hamstring, but Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle reports that Foster has returned to work. There’s no word on whether Foster will be a full participant in this session, although the quick return is a good sign that the tweak was as minor as Texans coach Bill O’Brien said it was.

While the Texans have also downplayed the seriousness of wide receiver Andre Johnson’s hamstring injury, Johnson was not able to join Foster and the rest of the team on the practice field Wednesday. That makes two missed practices in a row for Johnson as he tries to catch up for time missed when he was staying away from offseason workouts because of dissatisfaction with the overall direction of the franchise.

If the team’s assessment of Johnson’s hamstring was as on point as their assessment of Foster’s, the receiver shouldn’t be out too much longer.

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Chip Kelly: DeSean Jackson didn’t open things up for others last year

Chip Kelly AP

When the Eagles released wide receiver DeSean Jackson, there was a school of thought that believed their offense would suffer in 2014 because Jackson wasn’t there.

The two main reasons cited were that Jackson’s speed is difficult to replace and that his presence opened things up for other members of the offense. The Eagles didn’t have such worries and coach Chip Kelly explained why the team is confident that everything can continue to run smoothly with Jackson in Washington.

“I think most people played us in single high [safety] coverage and they played man across the board on anybody and no one was getting any help,” Kelly said, via ESPN.com. “Riley [Cooper] was getting man [coverage] on his side. DeSean was getting man on his side. Jason Avant was getting man in the slot. Zach Ertz, whoever our tight end was, was getting manned. Running back was getting manned. No one is going to play us in two [safeties] deep because if you play us in two deep, we can run the heck out of the ball. We had everybody as close to the line of scrimmage as possible and nobody was helping anybody. They were trying to stop the run game.”

With LeSean McCoy still in the offense, that figures to be the case again this season. As a result, finding receivers that can beat the press coverage that comes with defenses playing close to the line of scrimmage will be the biggest thing for the Eagles this offseason. Rookie Jordan Matthews has the build to be that kind of receiver and has been getting rave reviews, perhaps to Kelly’s consternation, for his ability to make an impact this fall.

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Report: Initial Bills bid tops $1 billion

Pegula Getty Images

On Tuesday, the deadline came and went for making a non-binding indication of interest in buying the Bills.  And one of the potential buyers who expressed interest reportedly is willing to pay a lot of money for the privilege of doing so.

According to Josh Kosman and Lois Weiss of the New York Post, Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula already has offered more than $1 billion for the franchise.  If that’s the opener from just one of the interested buyers, the sale is destined to eclipse the record $1.1 billion paid by Stephen Ross to purchase the Dolphins.

In June, Pegula raised $1.75 billion in cash via the sale of 75,000 acres of natural gas leases in West Virginia and Ohio.

Via WGRZ-TV, other initial bids were submitted by Donald Trump and Jon Bon Jovi’s Toronto-based group.  Via the Buffalo News, Business First reporter James Fink said on WBEN radio that former Sabres owner Tom Golisano reportedly did not make an offer.

Trump, who has talked about buying the Bills in the same way he has talked about running for President, recently told FOX News that he doesn’t expect to actually win the bidding.

“I would say the chances are very, very unlikely,” Trump said.  “Because I’m not going to do something totally stupid — maybe just a little bit stupid, but not totally stupid.”

The making of a 10-figure bid by Pegula should help ensure that the team will go to someone who would keep the franchise in Buffalo.  Unless, of course, Bon Jovi and company make a Steve Ballmer-style bid, putting $2 billion or more on the table for the team.

If that’s the case, Andre Reed’s “F–k Bon Jovi!” message could be revised by the folks selling the team to say, “F–k!  Bon Jovi!”

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