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Seahawks GM says he’d “listen” to Matt Flynn offers

Matt Flynn AP

If you have a spare, too-expensive backup quarterback, today’s the day to tell the world you may or may not be interested in moving him.

Even though the world already knows you would.

After 49ers general manager Trent Baalke made sufficiently clear he was willing to move Alex Smith, his Seahawks counterpart John Schneider admitted he’d be willing to listen to what you might offer for Matt Flynn.

After signing Flynn to a three-year, $19.5 million contract last offseason, third-round rookie Russell Wilson exceeded every expectation and made the job his own.

“I think we have a great setup,” Schneider said when asked his plans for Flynn. “I feel very blessed that we have two quarterbacks, two starting-caliber guys. What happened last year didn’t really have a reflection on what Matt did, or Tarvaris [Jackson] for that matter. It was really what Russell did in terms of just kind of stepping forward and taking charge. . . .

“It’s so early. Everybody is in the middle of the draft process. So it’s not like I’ve had a chance to sit down with other general managers and some of the people I know around the league to talk about what their situation is. As you guys well know, we’re always going to listen to everything and if we’re not doing that, we think we’re not doing our job. That doesn’t necessarily mean we will do something with Matt.”

Unless, of course, somebody happens to call and offer him a chance to get out from under a contract he wishes now he hadn’t written.

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Texans give Whitney Mercilus four-year, $26 million extension

Nick Foles, Whitney Mercilus AP

The Texans didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of 2012 first-round pick Whitney Mercilus, but now that’s moot. Mercilus and the Texans have agreed on a four-year contract extension.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that Mercilus will get a $5.25 million signing bonus, $10.8 million guaranteed and $26 million over the life of the contract, which keeps him tied to Houston through the 2019 season.

In three seasons with the Texans, Mercilus has played in every game but one and recorded 18 sacks. He’s part of a front sevent that Houston has spent a lot of resources building, with players including J.J. Watt, Vince Wilfork, Jadeveon Clowney, Brian Cushing and this year’s second-round pick, Benardrick McKinney.

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Mariota: Goodell called to apologize for mispronouncing name

Mariota AP

Quarterback Marcus Mariota’s name routinely is mispronounced, with the first syllable of his last name being spoken like the “A” in Mary and not the “A” in, well, Marcus. On Thursday night, Commissioner Roger Goodell got the first syllable right — but he got the last one wrong.

“Marioto” is what Goodell said. Not long after that, Goodell called Mariota to say, “Sorry.”

Via Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com, Mariota told 104.5 The Zone in Nashville on Monday that Goodell phoned the No. 2 overall pick later that night to acknowledge the error.

“Everyone was cheering so loud that I wasn’t able to actually hear it,” Mariota said. “He gave me a call probably half an hour later. He apologized, and I’m like, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’ But he was really apologetic and I truly respect that for sure.”

It’s good that Goodell apologized. It would have been better if he hadn’t gotten it wrong. While we all make mistakes when speaking (and I make plenty of them during three hours of extemporaneous radio every day), the practice of delivering one name at a time roughly 10 minutes apart should entail a success rate much closer to 100 percent — especially when any tricky pronunciations are pre-printed on the cards containing the players’ names.

Which leads to another point.  Now that the first round of the NFL draft has become a prime-time TV spectacle, why is the Commissioner still the one who announces the picks?  Whether they hire James Earl Jones or Michael Buffer or Jeremy Irons or Sam Elliott or Morgan Freeman, the draft has become big enough that the NFL should consider getting a professional speaker with a memorable voice to call out the names — especially if the Commissioner isn’t going to nail each and every name, each and every year.

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Buccaneers claim Reid Fragel off waivers, sign 13 rookie free agents

Cleveland Browns v Washington Redskins 8-18-2014 Getty Images

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter moved from the Falcons to the Buccaneers to the offseason and now one of his former charges in Atlanta will be making the same trip.

The Buccaneers announced that they have claimed tackle Reid Fragel off of waivers. Fragel was one of five Falcons players cut loose during the draft as they cleared roster space for new arrivals.

Fragel was a seventh-round pick of the Bengals in 2013 and spent time with the Browns later in his rookie season, so he’s already done quite a bit of traveling in his short NFL career. He should have some familiarity with what Koetter wants to do on offense after spending time with Atlanta last year, which could help him compete for a roster spot in the coming months.

Tampa signed 13 other players that will be competing for roster spots along with Fragel after going undrafted. They are Iowa linebacker Quinton Alston, Louisville running back Dominique Brown, Idaho defensive tackle Quayshawne Buckley, Brown long snapper Courtland Clavette, Towson defensive end Ryan Delaire, Texas A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett, TCU safety Chris Hackett, UCF wide receiver Rannell Hall, Boston College linebacker Josh Keyes, Tusculum defensive tackle Caushaud Lyons, UCF wide receiver Josh Reese, Kansas linebacker Michael Reynolds and Jones County Junior College defensive end Jamal Young

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Fifth-year options picked up for 20 of 32 first-round picks

Trent Richardson AP

Of the 32 players chosen in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, 20 got their fifth-year options picked up.

Today was the deadline for NFL teams to decide whether to pick up those fifth-year options, and for the second consecutive year most teams decided to pick the option up. Last year (the first time teams were faced with fifth-year options under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement) 21 fifth-year options were picked up.

Seven players had their fifth-year options declined: Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne, Rams safety Mark Barron, Seahawks pass rusher Bruce Irvin, Bears linebacker Shea McClellin, Texans pass rusher Whitney Mercilus, Packers linebacker Nick Perry and Buccaneers running back Doug Martin.

Three first-round draft picks from 2012 have no fifth-year options to pick up because they’ve already been cut: Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden and A.J. Jenkins.

And two other first-round draft picks from 2012 have no fifth-year options: Giants running back David Wilson retired after suffering a neck injury, while Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon’s contract has been placed on hold while he’s suspended for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

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Snead explains Rams’ attraction to, hopes for Todd Gurley

Gurley

The Rams provided arguably the biggest surprise of a relatively surprise-free draft by pouncing on running back Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick.  On Monday, G.M. Les Snead appeared on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio to discuss the decision to take Gurley.

Snead explained that Gurley had a high degree of success running the ball in the SEC.  Snead said that, in recent years, tailbacks who have thrived in that conference have done well at the next level.  The Rams believe that’s precisely what will happen with Gurley.

Snead also said that the Rams feel good about Gurley’s surgically-repaired ACL and the various tissues around it.  Asked if the Rams may be trying to copy Seattle’s formula of great defense, great running back, and competent passing game, Snead acknowledged that wouldn’t be a bad approach.

It also wouldn’t be a bad approach for you to give a listen to the interview with Snead.

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Raiders parting ways with veteran blocker Kevin Boothe

Oakland Raiders v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The Raiders drafted a pair of offensive lineman on the draft’s third day, and that was apparently enough to convince them to let a veteran backup go.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, the Raiders are cutting veteran offensive lineman Kevin Boothe.

Boothe appeared in just nine games last year, with no starts. Prior to that, he was a viable part for the Giants, starting 16 games for them in each of the previous two seasons. He could still find work, as he’s not that far removed from playing good football.

The Raiders took Miami guard Jon Feliciano in the fourth round, and Tennessee State’s Anthony Morris in the seventh.

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Saints release three while adding 13 undrafted rookies

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The days after the draft are spent signing undrafted rookies with dreams of playing in the NFL.

That optimism is often accompanied by the news that few members of the roster have seen their own dreams take a shot. That’s the case in New Orleans, where three players have been released to make room for the incoming signees.

The Saints announced Monday that they have released safety Marcus Ball, safety Ty Zimmerman and linebacker Kyle Knox. Ball and Knox each played 12 games for the Saints last season with most of the action coming on special teams.

Among the 13 players signed is New Hampshire wide receiver R.J. Harris, who drew visits from a few NFL teams before the draft after catching 100 passes and making the FCS All-American team. The team also signed tight end Harold Spears, who played with Harris in college.

Clemson defensive lineman Tavaris Barnes, Syracust tackle Sean Hickey, Texas A&M wide receiver Malcome Kennedy, Mississippi State defensive lineman Kaleb Eulls, Indiana defensive lineman Bobby Richardson, Notre Dame College guard Doniel Gambrell, Texas-San Antonio defensive lineman Ashaad Mabry, North Texas guard Cyril Lemon, West Texas A&M linebacker Marcus Pierce-Brewster, SMU linebacker Stephon Sanders and North Carolina tight end Jack Tabb round out the group.

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Bills add 13 undrafted free agents

BYU v Texas Getty Images

The Bills didn’t draft any defensive linemen this year, but they added five players to the group on Monday.

Defensive end Alex Carrington returned to the team as a free agent after spending last season with the Rams and the team added five other defensive linemen as undrafted free agents.

Defensive end Cedric Reed played for the biggest program, but never really established himself at Texas before turning in a good final season that was followed by knee surgery. He’ll need to build on that to earn a spot with the Bills. They also signed Louisiana-Lafayette defensive tackle Justin Hamilton, Utah State defensive end B.J. Larsen and Bethune Cookman defensive end Erik Williams.

The rest of the undrafted aspirants are South Florida wide receiver Andre Davis, Washington linebacker Andrew Hudson, Florida tight end Clay Burton, Illinois State tackle Jermaine Barton, N.C. State tackle Tyson Chandler, Western Kentucky cornerback Cam Thomas, Wake Forest cornerback Merrill Noel, Baylor punter Spencer Roth and Stanford A.J. Tarpley.

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Justin Smith: You’ll know in three weeks or so if I’m playing in 2015

Justin Smith AP

After making defensive lineman Arik Armstead their first-round pick on Thursday, 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke said that the selection wasn’t made because of the uncertainty about Justin Smith’s status for 2015.

It was made because the 49ers know they are going to need to replace Smith’s production in the near future whatever he decides about this season. They should have an idea just how soon that need will arise in about a month.

Smith told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee that “you’ll know in about three weeks or so” whether he’s going to return for a 15th and likely final NFL season. Barrows reports that Smith is working out regularly and looks good, although Smith cautioned not to read into that because he’d work out regularly even if he wasn’t returning.

Smith also said that he feels good physically, but added that “everybody feels good at this time of the year” so there’s probably not much to read into that as a hint either.

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Tyler Eifert expects to be ready for camp

Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Bengals drafted a pair of tight ends over the weekend, but it doesn’t look like concerns about Tyler Eifert’s recovery from shoulder and elbow surgeries was the impetus to double down on the position.

Eifert said Monday that he’s waiting to get full clearance to return from his shoulder injury, a torn labrum that he had repaired after dislocating his elbow in the first game of last season. He expects to get that clearance before the start of training camp and is working to rebuild his strength until then.

“It’s just hard when you’re starting over physically,” Eifert said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I lost a lot of weight, a lot of muscle. I couldn’t really do anything there for three or four months. So just getting that back, getting back in the groove of lifting and getting strong, that’s probably been the hardest part. As far as the plays and being in here with the guys, it feels like I never missed a beat. Being out here on the field today, it’s kind of like riding a bike. Once you get back out there its all the same.”

With Eifert on the way back, third-round pick Tyler Kroft and fifth-rounder C.J. Uzomah will likely be part of the competition for the snaps left behind by Jermaine Gresham’s departure. If that approach pans out, the Bengals should be well stocked at tight end in 2015.

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Florida State line coach wishes all his guys would become Patriots

Jackson Getty Images

Florida State has had 29 players drafted in the last three years, a record in the era of the seven-round selection process. Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett wishes more of his unit’s players would be Patriots.

“I wish they would take all my guys, because they’re about the only damn team that knows what the hell to do with them,” Trickett told Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.

Last year, the Patriots got former Florida State center Bryan Stork in round four. This year, they got former FSU guard Tre’ Jackson in round four.

Stork became a starter as a rookie. Jackson now has a chance to do the same thing.

“He’ll do whatever he’s got to do to help them win, and that’s the main thing,” Trickett said of Jackson.  “That’s why New England wins. Guys do what the team needs. That’s what I try to raise them on. Don’t worry about the vertical jump, the broad jump, all that stuff.

“It’s more about finding a damn football player. Tre’ is a football player.”

And he’s more than that.

“He is a great guy,” Trickett said of Jackson. “He is a Patriots kind of kid. He is everything they want. He has never missed a meeting, a practice or a game here in four years. He is that kind of guy. He is a great person, has got a great family, and he’ll be a great football player. He’s got an edge on him now. He’s wanting to show people who slipped him down to the fourth round. I think they got a second-round player in the fourth round.”

Based on what Stork did last year, there’s no reason to doubt Trickett when it comes to Jackson.

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Baton Rouge police: La’el Collins is still not a suspect

2015 NFL Scouting Combine Getty Images

LSU offensive lineman La’El Collins would have been a first-round pick last week, but for his connection to a double-murder investigation.

But his current status goes far beyond anything involving his freefall through the entire 2015 NFL Draft.

Collins met with investigators this morning, and apparently it went well.

According to Jerit Roser of the New Orleans Times Picayune, the Baton Rouge Police Department said Collins “fully cooperated with investigators and is still not considered a suspect.”

While that’s not exactly the same as “cleared,” his attorney has expressed confidence that would be the case.

While an NFL team could sign him at any point, it’s reasonable to expect that they’ll wait until there’s a clearer reading of the situation, before anyone proceeds.

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Bills sign Alex Carrington

Carolina Panthers v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Bills are back in the Alex Carrington business.

The defensive tackle was a third-round pick of the team in 2010 and spent four years on their defensive line before making the move to the Rams as a free agent last year. The Bills changed coaching staffs during the offseason and Carrington came in for a visit with Rex Ryan’s crew that led to the reunion.

Carrington played defensive end in a three-man front during his last stint with the Bills and could be in the mix for a similar role given Ryan’s past preference for that front. With Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes all back in Buffalo, there are a lot of ways for Buffalo to go on the defensive line. Carrington will also figure into special teams with six blocked kicks highlighting his first tour with the Bills.

Signing Carrington, who was an unrestricted free agent after playing out his contract in St. Louis, before May 12 will work against the Bills in the compensatory pick formula for next year’s draft.

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What was the biggest surprise of the draft?

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This year’s draft was, in some respects, unpredictably predictable.  But there were still surprises, even if one of the biggest surprises came from the lack of surprises.

Not surprisingly, we need a poll question for Monday’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN.  So today’s question focuses on which surprise was the biggest surprise of the draft.

For that and all other reactions to the 2015 NFL draft, tune in at 6:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN, with Paul Burmeister, Jason Taylor, and Ross Tucker in Connecticut and yours truly in West Virginia.

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Scot McCloughan: Brandon Scherff “too good of a bang for the buck” to pass up

NFL Draft AP

Few people expected defensive lineman Leonard Williams to be on the board for the fifth pick of the first round last Thursday night and those that did likely thought thought that the Redskins would be happy to add him to their defense.

Washington went a different way, however, and selected offensive lineman Brandon Scherff. Scherff was among those surprised to hear his name called by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and General Manager Scot McCloughan explained Monday what went into the choice to leave Williams for the Jets with the sixth pick by taking Scherff.

“The thing about Leonard — very good football player,” McCloughan said. “I was hoping to be able to move back there and it didn’t happen. Everyone was talking about trading up, trading up to our spot but it was all for [third overall pick Dante] Fowler. Once Fowler went, then all the talks went off the board. Leonard is a good football player. If for some reason Brandon would have been gone, he probably would have been 1B, 1C right there. We were lucky enough in free agency to do some things on the defensive side. Going into this thing I knew we needed some help up front on the offensive side and it was too good of a bang for the buck to not get Brandon there.”

McCloughan said that he wanted his first pick with the team to be an “impressive person” that the team can build around and said he felt that Scherff qualified as that kind of player. His evaluation of which player best fit that goal may have differed from the popular opinion of what he should have done and it will take a few years to know if that was a sound call, just as it would have been if the Redskins had taken Williams last week.

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