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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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Goodell urges Tampa to keep bidding for Super Bowls, too

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Five cities competed this week for a trio of Super Bowls. The two losing cities got the NFL’s equivalent of a participation ribbon: A personal letter from Commissioner Roger Goodell urging them to keep bidding for future Super Bowl.

In addition to New Orleans, Tampa also has received a “good job/nice try/get ’em next time” missive from the Commish, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.

“It is clear the Tampa Bay region will be in excellent position to contend for Super Bowls in the years to come,” Goodell wrote. “Thank you for your leadership and many contributions to the success of the league. Our office and the Super Bowl Advisory Committee will continue to support your efforts.”

Of course it will; the NFL needs to constantly have more cities bidding on Super Bowls than it has Super Bowls to award. Otherwise, the NFL won’t get the kind of competitive offers that include free presidential suites for owners and $50,000 in per-team “credits” for expenses teams inevitably will incur. Once the supply of viable candidates to host the games matches the demand, the jig will be up for the NFL.

Which is why the NFL needs to constantly encourage the losing cities to keep trying — and why the owners of every team need to cajole the local politicians and business leaders into aspiring to host the game. The more cities at the table, the more free stuff for the people in each city who already can afford to buy their own stuff, over and over again.

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Winston eating better, estimates he’s lost 18 pounds

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 01:  Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws a pass outside the pocket during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome on November 1, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Four weeks after teammate Johnathan Banks said he went from “fat” to “looking like a defensive back,” Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston shared some details of how he’s dropped an estimated 18 pounds over the last three months.

Winston told ESPN.com he’s focused on portion control in his diet, has avoided late-night snacks and has tried to make the most of high-intensity workouts with renowned trainer Tim Grover, to whom Winston reached out early in the offseason.

“I heard from around the league that most rookies that come in, if they have a great year, they don’t have a plan for the offseason,” Winston said. “I had never handled an actual offseason before.”

Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, played baseball in the spring during his college career at Florida State. He first had to convince Grover he would be committed to getting in better shape, then had to make some adjustments to follow Grover’s diet plan.

“He’s a special individual from a knowledge standpoint,” Grover said. “He just didn’t know it. He’s gone so long on natural talent, he didn’t know how to take care of his body, what to eat, what to drink or how to get his rest.”

Winston said he started in the “upper 240s” and that Grover developed a exercise and diet plan with an ideal weight range of 225-229 in mind. The Bucs list Winston at 231 pounds.

“My body feels much better,” Winston said. “When you’re working out consistently and staying in shape, you never have to get in shape. That’s the biggest thing.”

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Teammates seeing more leadership from Geno Smith

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22: Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets warms up before playing against the Houston Texans on November 22, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets are expected to agree eventually on a contract that will make Fitzpatrick the starting quarterback. But until that gets done, Geno Smith is running the first-string offense. And teammates think he’s showing the kind of leadership qualities they need to see.

Jets receiver Brandon Marshall has previously said Smith is acting like more of a professional recently, and safety Calvin Pryor has seen the same thing.

“I definitely agree,” Pryor told NJ.com. “He’s always on time. He’s always doing the right things. At first [in previous years], I saw that Geno really didn’t talk to too many people. But now he speaks and he goes about things the right way. That’s what you have to do when you want guys to believe in you. You have to make sure you talk with everyone. You have to have everybody’s trust, everybody believing in you. Because we’re only going to go as far as you’re going to take us, along with this defense. Every great team, you have to see great quarterback play.”

That Smith is getting praise for being on time isn’t exactly a huge endorsement, but Smith seems to have more faith in the locker room than he did last year, when he lost the starting job when teammate IK Enemkpali punched him and broke his jaw. Pryor says the Jets now believe they can win with Smith.

“I do,” Pryor said. “He has to believe that as well. I think he’s very confident. Before the [Enemkpali] incident happened last year, I think he was having a great camp. I think he was buying guys in. In this locker room, guys were believing in him. I’m pretty sure everything happens for a reason. He learned from that moment. And I think he’s better. Guys are confident that he can get the job done. He just has to be confident in himself, and I think he is. So far, I’m happy with the results.”

As the Jets leak details of their contract order to Fitzpatrick in an attempt to gain leverage in the ongoing negotiations, these comments could also help the Jets on that front. Everyone wants Fitzpatrick to return as the Jets’ starter, but some are saying that if Fitzpatrick doesn’t return, Smith is up to the task.

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Haloti Ngata ready to be a veteran leader in Year 2 in Detroit

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 25: Devin Taylor #98 and Haloti Ngata #92 of the Detroit Lions celebrate a tackle agist the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at Ford Field on October 25, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Haloti Ngata was traded from the Ravens to the Lions last offseason, he stayed in Baltimore for much of the summer, his family still lived there, and it took him a few months before he was really a fit in the Lions’ defense.

This year, however, Ngata signed a new contract, moved his family to Detroit, and he is a full participant in voluntary offseason work.

This is totally different,” Ngata told the Detroit Free Press at Organized Team Activities. “I’m here, family’s here so I don’t really have to worry about trying to find a house or where we’re going to stay, traveling back and forth. I’ve been here all off-season and it’s just been great.”

The 32-year-old Ngata said he “definitely” views himself as a team leader, to a greater extent than he was last year.

“I’m really the oldest guy now,” Ngata said.

A five-time Pro Bowler with the Ravens, Ngata is out to show he still has something left — and to show the younger players in Detroit how its done.

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Saturday one-liners

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They’re already calling 5-6 Dolphins WR Jakeem GrantMighty Mouse.” (Don’t tell UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.)

Here’s a closer look at the Bills’ nepotism-free coaching staff.

Patriots CB Darryl Roberts hopes to rekindle those Malcolm Butler comparisons.

It’s another click-harvest from NJ.com; this one somehow turns the Geno Smith or Bryce Petty roster-spot question into 10 of them.

Former Ravens LB Brandon Copeland now plays for Detroit, but relishes the chance to give back to Baltimore.

Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth is willing to play guard again, if that’s what the team eventually wants.

QB Bruce Gradkowski calls it a “blessing” to be back with the Steelers.

Can the new Browns regime get anything out of CB Justin Gilbert.

Texans QB Tom Savage says he’s “healthy and ready to roll.” (Right out of town?)

Ryan Davis is now a “Lotto” in the Jaguars defense, which means parts Leo (weak-side DE), part Otto (strong-side LB). (He’d probably rather be a Liger, since they are bred for their skills and magic.)

Colts QB Andrew Luck and WR T.Y. Hilton will attend the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Titans TE Delanie Walker says he doesn’t get to know any rookies until they make the team.

Is WR Emmanuel Sanders ready to become the offensive leader the Broncos need?

Criticized after drafting WR Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs met this week with representatives from six Kansas City-area domestic violence groups.

Chargers RB Chris Swain missed OTAs this week to graduate from the Naval Academy.

Here’s a look at the sound from the first weeks of Raiders OTAs.

How much longer can Cowboys TE Jason Witten continue to perform at a high level?

Giants RB Andre Williams, on the team’s plan to use a quartet of tailbacks in 2015: “I don’t think the four-headed monster was very scary.”

Washington TE Vernon Davis says that TE Jordan Reed “runs routes better than the best wide receiver in the league.”

Chip Kelly is gone from Eagles practices — and so is the non-stop music.

Bears WR Kieran Duncan hopes to show there’s more to him than 4.32 speed.

Lions WR Marvin Jones has a little Marvin Gaye in him.

Get to know Packers third-round LB Kyle Fackrell.

Vikings Hall of Fame DE Carl Eller spoke to the team’s rookies this week.

Falcons special-team coordinator Keith Armstrong said the team’s unit was average last year.

Panthers WR Ted Ginn said he doesn’t know what “lose a step” means. (Father Time eventually will explain it to him.)

Some aren’t surprised that Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan eventually sounded off about his time in New Orleans.

Here’s a recap of the first week of OTAs with the Buccaneers.

LB Ray-Ray Armstrong is competing for a starting job with the 49ers.

Here’s a list of five players to watch during Seahawks OTAs.

Cardinals K Chandler Catanzaro is working with special-teams coordinator Amos Jones to determine whether to kick off short in light of the new touchback rule.

Here’s a look at some old Rams billboards. (Which confirms that today’s PFT billboard would declare, “Slow news day.”)

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Broncos’ Brandon Marshall at OTAs without a contract

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 22:   Brandon Marshall #54 of the Denver Broncos waits on the field before the start of their game against the Houston Texans at  NRG Stadium on August 22, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Brandon Marshall who plays for the Jets is skipping Organized Team Activities even though he’s under contract, but the Brandon Marshall who plays for the Broncos is at OTAs even though he doesn’t have a contract.

Marshall, a starting inside linebacker in Denver, is a restricted free agent who has not signed his one-year, $2.533 million tender offer. But he says he’s comfortable enough in Denver that he feels OK about practicing now and worrying about his contract later.

“I love it here. I love it here, man,” Marshall told ESPN. “Ever since I got here, in 2013, they’ve treated me like family, even when I was on the practice squad. It just shows, I’m really all about ball, getting better and being with the team. . . . To stay away, that’s not me. I feel comfortable being here.”

Broncos G.M. John Elway has said he wants to get a long-term deal done with Marshall, and Marshall wants one as well. In the mean time, Marshall isn’t letting the lack of a contract hold him back.

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The Jets are finding willing media participants for their Fitzpatrick P.R. push

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22: D'Brickashaw Ferguson #60 of the New York Jets helps up Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets after Fitzpatrick scored a touchdown against the Houston Texans in the second half on November 22, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Texans won 24 to 17. (Photo by Thomas Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Friday, reports began to surface that the Jets offered weeks ago to free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick a three-year contract that would pay out $12 million in the first year. Curiously omitted from those reports were the rest of the details regarding the offer — details that would say plenty about its overall quality.

Let’s set aside for now the question whether Fitzpatrick deserves more than $12 million per year in light of: (1) the market for starting quarterbacks; (2) recent increases in the salary cap that haven’t sparked a similar spike in the starting quarterback market; and (3) the franchise-record 31 touchdown passes from Fitzpatrick’s first and only season with the franchise. The far more intriguing aspect of the latest Fitz-related developments is that some in the media have flat-out whiffed in their assessment of the information leaked by the team. (And of course it was leaked by the team.)

The biggest offender, from the perspective of the size and reach of the organization, has been the Associated Press. Consider this key portion of the AP article: “A person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press on Friday night that the Jets made a three-year offer to the quarterback in March that includes $12 million guaranteed in the first year. . . . The New York Post first reported the terms of the offer, which is higher than the previously reported amounts that were closer to $7 million per year. However, total guarantees and contract structure of the Jets’ standing offer are uncertain.”

That tail-on-the-donkey “however” doesn’t alter the characterization appearing immediately before it. Instead, it makes the overall message even more confounding.

Without knowing the structure of the full deal, it’s impossible to say that a $12 million payout in 2016 results in a three-year average that exceeds $7 million per year. If, for example, the offer pays out $9 million in 2017 and 2018, the three-year average is still $7 million.

For weeks, PFT  has heard that the problem isn’t the Year One payout but the rest of the deal. Without specific information about the rest of the deal, it’s impossible to characterize it in comparison to prior reports that the deal is worth $7 million annually.

Whether inadvertent or deliberate (the fact that the article later claims that Fitzpatrick “apparently” wants $18 million per year suggests the latter), the AP has helped the Jets’ not-so-subtle effort to overstate the value of the offer that Fitzpatrick has yet to accept as part of a P.R. push aimed at persuading unsettled Jets fans that the team is being reasonable and/or that Fitzpatrick isn’t. The better approach continues to be trying to find a middle ground, but the Jets apparently aren’t willing to yield in their position.

The John Elway take-it-or-leave-it approach works best when there’s a freshly-minted Lombardi in the lobby. Four years ago, before the team went to a pair of Super Bowls, Elway didn’t lowball an aging and rickety Peyton Manning. With neither Peyton Manning in his prime nor any other franchise quarterbacks walking through the door for the Jets, the best play would be to find a fair middle ground between whatever the Jets want to pay and whatever Fitzpatrick wants.

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Native American activists criticize Washington Post poll

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The Washington Post poll that supporters of the local NFL team’s name believed would end the debate has potentially reinvigorated it — along with sparking a new debate over whether there should even be a debate about the propriety of the name.

On Friday, a group of Native American leaders and activists (i.e., not “white liberal journalists”) held a conference call aimed at further criticizing the poll.

Via the Associated Press, California State San Bernardino sociology professor James Fenelon called the poll “immoral.” He also echoed concerns that the poll was not representative of Native American communities. Likewise, Amanda Blackhorse, who serves as the lead plaintiff in the case attacking the team’s federal trademark protection, called the poll “misguided,” adding that it won’t diminish attacks against the name.

“This issue is not about polling,” National Congress of American Indians executive director Jackie Pata added. “This issue is about human rights.”

Some would say that these voices carry much more weight that 450 unverified self-identifying Native American adults who said in response to a series of questions about the name that the name doesn’t bother them. Moving forward, those voices need to find ways to get their message across in an effective and meaningful way.

As worthy as the cause may be, the opposition to the name has been at times disorganized, ebbing and flowing and all too often operating on a reactive instead of proactive basis. The movement would benefit greatly from a skilled and experienced P.R. professional who would launch a sustained assault on the name featuring, for example, conference calls occurring at a time other than the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. No matter how compelling the quotes, the messages sent Friday will rarely register on the national radar screen.

To launch the kind of P.R. push needed to impose pressure not on the team or the league but their sponsors, the movement first needs money. Stockpile enough of it through donations from those who believe that the name should go, and the Native American groups opposed to the name will have the foundation for devising ways to persuade Native Americans who oppose the name and non-Natives who agree with them to take the case to those truly in a position to compel a change.

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Sean Payton explains that loss of a week of OTAs isn’t a big deal

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints looks up at the clock while coaching against the Houston Texans in the third quarter on November 29, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Friday’s appearance on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio from Saints coach Sean Payton focused initially on the then-fresh claims from former Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan that he wasn’t running the unit when he was, you know, running the unit. (Payton called that notion “silly.”)

It also would have been silly not to take advantage of the time with Payton to address other topics of interest. With the interview happening during Organized Teams Activities and on the heels of the Ravens losing a week of OTAs after putting rookies in pads earlier this month, I asked Payton to explain the impact of the forfeited practices.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Payton said. “The reason I say that is, look, it doesn’t keep the players from lifting and running and so a week of OTAs would be three on-the-field sessions. You don’t want to lose those opportunities and, shoot, one of those opportunities you might have some type of team building experience set up. I think each team does similar things during the OTAs. There’s a lot of offense versus defense. There’s some restrictions regarding one-on-ones but the players are out there in their element, and they’re going though a little bit of a practice format for two hours. So really that equates to about six hours on the field.”

He makes a good point about the team-building day. Plenty of teams cancel the final OTA session for some sort of excursion away from football. So instead of losing three practices, the Ravens as a practical matter could say they lost only two. Which would be only four hours of lost practice time.

While it may not be a huge deal to lose a few OTAs, there’s still plenty of value in having them.

“I think it’s an important part of the process from a mental standpoint,” Payton said. “When it gets to Phase 3, the focus is on some of the nuances of what you’re trying to do defensively, offensively, or the kicking game. To get out on the field and work at the installation. I think it’s important for the coaching staffs as well. Many times you had change and you are getting on the same page and getting out there and coaching and things come up that you want to discuss. The idea being that when training camp comes this installation we’ve had before, and we’re gonna repeat it. We know that obviously a big ally to learning is just being able to go back through it again.

“The most important part though is the early phases [of the offseason program],” Payton added. “These guys come in the complex lifting weights, getting in shape, and really not feeling like they’re coming to practice. I think that’s important, the players are able to come into the facility and feel like in those early first two phases that they’re coming to really work out, condition and build that camaraderie, build the things you look for in a good football team.”

Payton’s perspective could come as a surprise to many, since most would assume that football coaches regard football practice as being more important than working out and otherwise not engaging in football practice. For the Ravens, the reality is that, even without three (or two) days of football practice, the players will be able to continue working out, just like they were in the earlier phases of the offseason program.

To hear the full Payton interview, download the podcast at iTunes or audioBoom. Or, if you’re in one of the markets that carries weekly “best of” show (like D.C, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Seattle, New Orleans, and many more), check your local listings for the two-hour slice of what was the best stuff of the week that was.

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Reported Fitzpatrick offer pales in comparison to most starting QBs

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets passes against the Buffalo Bills during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 12, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Jets leaked word that they’re offering free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick a contract that would pay him $12 million this year, the clear implication was that it’s a good offer. The reality is that, for a starting quarterback in today’s NFL, it’s not a good offer.

According to the salary database Spotrac, there are 16 quarterbacks in the NFL who currently have a contract that pays an average of $18 million a year or more. So half of the league’s starters are making at least 50 percent more than the Jets are offering Fitzpatrick.

Another six quarterbacks are making more than $12 million but less than $18 million. Which means Fitzpatrick, if he took a contract paying $12 million a year, would be paid less than 22 NFL quarterbacks. And among the starters making less than Fitzpatrick are several who are still on their rookie contracts but would surely make more on the open market, including Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Andrew Luck and Blake Bortles. This year’s first two picks, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, are also in the group of quarterbacks who will make less than $12 million a year only because of the rookie salary structure, not because the market has decided that they’re actually worth less than $12 million a year.

Also bear in mind that the Jets specifically leaked only what they were offering to pay Fitzpatrick this year, not what they’re offering to pay him in future years of a multi-year contract. That suggests that the deal the Jets are offering Fitzpatrick is actually worse than $12 million a year.

Bottom line, despite some reporters portraying the Jets’ offer as “more in line with the marketplace,” the reality is that the Jets are not offering Fitzpatrick the kind of money that you’d expect a quarterback who threw for 3,905 yards, 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while leading his team to a 10-6 record to make.

Unfortunately for Fitzpatrick, he doesn’t have a lot of leverage. The offseason game of quarterback musical chairs is over, and he’s the only one standing, while the Jets are the only team with a seat open. He’s probably going to end up taking less money than his 2015 performance says he’s worth. But no one should portray the Jets’ offer as a good deal. By NFL starting quarterback standards, it’s not.

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Cowboys say they turned down trade offers for McFadden, Morris

Dallas Cowboys OTA Getty Images

After spending the fourth overall pick in the draft on running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys fielded calls about whether they wanted to trade one of their veteran backs. But they said no.

That’s the word from Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones, who says teams called asking about trading for Darren McFadden or Alfred Morris, but the Cowboys wanted to keep them.

“We got calls during the draft asking to trade for a couple of our running backs, and we just don’t have that interest,” Jones said, via the Star-Telegram.

McFadden, who is coming off a 1,089-yard season, is heading into the final year of his contract and has a $2.15 million cap hit. The Cowboys just signed Morris to a two-year, $3.5 million contract in March. Both players are affordable and have been productive, which could make them worth something in a trade.

So it wouldn’t be surprising to hear McFadden and Morris mentioned in trade talks again. Even if, for now, the Cowboys aren’t interested.

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Rex-Rob Ryan scoffs at suggestion of nepotism

19212171-mmmain AP

That rollocking interview in which it became clear that Rex-Rob Ryan has taken charge in Buffalo included an effort by Rob Ryan to address the notion that he got a job with the Bills due to the fact that he’s the twin brother of the head coach.

“I heard this one the other day: Well, it’s nepotism. Nepotism?” Ryan told Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com. “I’ve been in this league 20 years. I have coordinated the last 12 years in a row.”

Yes, and Ryan has been fired multiple times over the last 12 years, most recently after presiding over historically bad defenses in Dallas. So of course it’s nepotism; does anyone think Rex would have hired Rob for a position that didn’t previously exist in Buffalo (assistant head coach/defense) but for the fact that their once shared a womb?

It was Rob’s effort to dismiss the notion of nepotism that caused him to launch into the questionable rant that someone else was running the defense and that Rob Ryan went entirely against his nature and kept his mouth shut while it was happening. Why not just admit that the brotherly relationship helped create the level of trust that Rex craves as he goes “all in” to try to save his job with a playoff berth?

Even if Rob Ryan somehow would have been hired but for his relationship with Rex, the Ryan twin reunion already is showing signs of the kind of symbiosis that will accentuate already strong personalities. Putting them together will only make each of them more combustible, prompting both guys to take the kind of risks they wouldn’t take if they were operating on their own.

The mere fact that Rex-Rob opted to react to a bad month in Buffalo by granting a “press record and get out of the way” interview shows that their blended personalities will result in behavior that is more bombastic, more combative, more fraught with risk.

Which will make the 2016 season in Buffalo even more compelling — especially if the situation begins to fall apart and Rex-Rob opt to try to get things under control by being even more bombastic, even more combative, and taking even more risks.

In other words, get your popcorn ready. And keep it out of Rex-Rob’s reach.

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Jets take their Fitzpatrick case to the media

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets walks off the field after throwing his third interception of the day in a 22-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the lingering standoff involving the Jets and free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick now spreading to other key members of the offense currently under contract, the Jets have begun to take their case public.

Specifically, the Jets have made their standing offer to Fitzpatrick known to multiple media outlets: A three-year deal that would pay Fitzpatrick $12 million in 2016.

Curiously (or not), the Jets aren’t leaking the details as to the second and third seasons of the offer. A league source with knowledge of the talks told PFT weeks ago that the problem isn’t the compensation in the first year but the pay to Fitzpatrick in the next two.

Indeed, the fact that the Jets are leaking only the $12 million total compensation for 2016 (which presumably includes a signing bonus spread over all three years) suggests that the last two years of the package don’t mesh with the team’s agenda of coming off as reasonable in the stalled negotiations.

The compensation for the final two years directly impacts the quality of the proposals. If, for example, the Jets are offering three years and $36 million, that’s $12 million per year. But if the $12 million offer for the first year is part of, for example, a three-year, $24 million deal, the pending offer suddenly doesn’t look so good.

Instead of attempting to apply pressure to Fitzpatrick by leaking details that make the Jets seem reasonable, the Jets and Fitzpatrick should get together in a room, shut the door, lock it from the outside, and stay put until they find an acceptable middle ground. Both sides should be willing to yield as to their current positions, since each side needs the other. And both sides need to get this deal done, sooner than later.

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Bears sign Leonard Floyd

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 28: Leonard Floyd #84, Sterling Bailey #58, Jordan Jenkins 59, and Malcolm Mitchell #26 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrate after the game by planting the Georgia Bulldogs flag on the field after the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears signed their first-round pick, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, on Friday.

The Bears traded up two spots to No. 9 — specifically to get ahead of the Giants — to select Floyd last month.

An early entry to this year’s draft, Floyd had 17 sacks in three seasons at Georgia. He played both defensive end and outside linebacker in college. The Bears list Floyd at 6-foot-6, 244 pounds.

Lamarr Houston led the Bears with eight sacks last season, their first in a 3-4 base defense, and Floyd was drafted to immediately boost the pass rush.

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Brett Perriman transferred to Atlanta hospital

2 Nov 1997:  Brett Perriman of the Miami Dolphins in action against the Buffalo Bills during a game at Rich Stadium in  Orchard Park, New York.  The Bills defeated the Dolphins 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport

Former NFL wide receiver Brett Perriman has been transferred to an Atlanta hospital, where he’s continuing to recover from a stroke he suffered earlier this month.

Per a release from the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Perriman, 50, was transferred there from a Miami-area hospital. He was admitted into the intensive care unit, but Perriman will soon transition into the hospital’s acquired brain injury unit for evaluation, care and observation.

Initial reports said he’d been hospitalized due to high blood pressure.

His son, Breshad Perriman, was drafted in the first round in 2015 by the Ravens. Breshad Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury but is progressing well, and he tweeted some encouraging words earlier Friday about his father.

Brett Perriman had a career-best 1,488 receiving yards in 1995 with the Lions. In that season, Perriman and Herman Moore became the first teammates in NFL history to each record more than 100 receptions and more than 1,400 receiving yards in the same season.

Perriman played 10 NFL seasons and played for the Saints, Lions, Chiefs and Dolphins. He was a second-round pick of the Saints in 1988.

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