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First meeting on Flacco contract coming Friday night or Saturday

Ravens assistant G.M. Eric DeCosta said Thursday that the team has “no intentions” of letting quarterback Joe Flacco leave as a free agent and they’ll start the work of keeping him pretty soon.

Mike Florio has learned that the team will have their first face-to-face meeting of the offseason with Flacco’s agent Joe Linta sometime Friday night or Saturday. The two sides will be trying to hammer out a long-term contract ahead of the start of free agency in hopes of avoiding a franchise tag that would eat up cap space the Ravens might like to use to keep other players.

Should the Ravens have to use the tag, they’ll be deciding between the exclusive and non-exclusive tags. The former would cost them more cap space while the latter would leave open the possibility that a team willing to spend two first-round picks could come up with an offer that steals Flacco away.

That possibility was called “negligible” by DeCosta on Thursday. He and the rest of the Ravens brass will start finding out just how negligible in this weekend’s meeting.

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Bills, Dolphins courting La’el Collins

Louisiana Monroe v LSU Getty Images

The always-intriguing AFC East currently has gotten even more interesting.

With former LSU offensive lineman La’El Collins undrafted in the wake of a double-murder investigation for which he isn’t a suspect but hasn’t been fully exonerated, two teams in the AFC East are actively pursuing Collins.

Via Ben Wallace of the New Orleans Advocate, the Bills and Dolphins have scheduled meetings with Collins.  A league source tells PFT that Bills coach Rex Ryan has traveled to Baton Rouge to visit Collins.  Ryan is particularly interested in converting Collins to guard.

Other teams remain on the fence about Collins, erring on the side of shying away from him until he receives unequivocal clearance.  But as with any other player, 31 teams can shout “no”; it only takes one to whisper “yes.”  With two teams in the AFC East interested, that “yes” could be a lot louder than that.

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Kam Chancellor’s half-brother Keenan Lambert among Seahawks undrafted free agents

Keenan Lambert AP

In addition to reaching an agreement with 34-year-old long snapper and former Green Beret Nate Boyer, the Seattle Seahawks have brought in Kam Chancellor’s half-brother as a part of their undrafted free agent class.

Keenan Lambert, a safety from Norfolk State, is among the 12 undrafted free agents to reach deals with the Seahawks following the conclusion of the draft on Saturday. Lambert and Chancellor share the same mother, Karen Lambert.

Lambert recently joined many members of the Seahawks for their unofficial offseason workouts in Hawaii in April.

In addition to Boyer and Lambert, the Seahawks agreed to terms with Idaho tackle Jesse Davis, Arizona wide receiver Austin Hill, LSU safety Ronald Martin, Georgia Tech linebacker Quayshawn Nealy, Central Michigan running back Thomas Rawls, Auburn cornerback Trovon Reed, West Georgia defensive end Tory Slater, dismissed former Ohio State running back Rod Smith and UT-San Antonio safety Triston Wade.

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Spielman won’t say whether “commitment” will be made to Peterson

Adrian Getty Images

Contrary to whatever it was that Cris Carter was hinting about last week, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson wasn’t traded. And Peterson’s agent has acknowledged that a trade won’t happen — but that the Vikings should extend “a commitment to make him retire as a Viking.”

Appearing recently on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman declined to comment on whether that commitment will be made.

“He is a player under contract,” Spielman said. “We never discuss with any of our players any financial consequences or anything financial with players’ contracts. We never discuss them publicly. That is kept internally, hopefully between the agent, the player, and ourselves, regardless of what the player is. There’s nothing I can tell you. All I can tell you at this point he is under contract with the Vikings. We intend to honor his contract in the ’15 season as we look forward to having him rejoin our team.”

Apart from whether a “commitment” will be made to Peterson, Spielman made it clear that he wants Peterson to remain with the team indefinitely.

“I think Adrian has done a lot for this organization,” Spielman said. “He made a mistake. He’s done a lot for this community. If we didn’t believe in Adrian Peterson, he wouldn’t be here. . . . He paid his consequences for that mistake and I think it’s time for everybody to just move on.”

The only remaining question is whether Peterson will show up for any portion of the offseason program, and whether he’ll appear for training camp. If he chooses not to play in 2015, he’ll owe the Vikings $2.4 million in previously-paid bonus money. If he plays, he’ll get $12.75 million.

If he shows up for the upcoming Organized Team Activities, he’ll get another $250,000 — making it an even $13 million for 2015.

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Pettine confirms McCown is the favorite to start over Manziel

Mike Pettine, Johnny Manziel AP

Browns coach Mike Pettine says Josh McCown looks like he’ll open training camp as the starting quarterback, ahead of Johnny Manziel.

Asked on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland if McCown is the favorite to be the starting quarterback going into training camp, Pettine said, “I think it’s fair to say that.”

According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, a Browns spokesman said Pettine’s answer referred to McCown being the favorite to begin camp as the starter, but not necessarily to begin the season as the starter. Still, the quarterback who enters training camp as the starter is usually the quarterback who enters the season as the starter.

And in Cleveland, that’s McCown. Manziel did nothing as a rookie to make Pettine think he deserves to be the starting quarterback, and will have to do something in training camp to unseat McCown for the job.

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NFL explains “Los Angeles Rams” web page

St. Louis Rams v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

As a trio of NFL franchises slowly circle Los Angeles, a now-removed quirk in the league’s official website suggested that at least one of them will eventually land there. The NFL claims there’s nothing to it.

Via Joe Holleman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the NFL says that a “Los Angeles Rams” page arises from a glitch in the website that assigns teams to cities that used to have teams.

“It’s a bug in the system that, when you manipulate the URL, will pull up a legacy team from that city if no current one exists,” NFL spokesman Alex Riethmiller told Holleman.

So by putting in “LA” as the search term, a page emerged for the Los Angeles Rams. That page has since been removed.

“The same error occurs if you change the URL to ‘BOS.’ In that case, a Boston Patriots page will show up with New England Patriots content,” Riethmiller said.

The St. Louis task force charged with solving the team’s stadium problem locally accepts the NFL’s version of the events.

‘We’re perfectly satisfied with the explanation and appreciate that they reached out to us,” said a statement from the task force.

The explanation appears to be legitimate. Using the code “PHO” returns a page for the Phoenix Cardinals.

But the glitch has its limits. Inserting “POT” unfortunately does not return a page for the Pottsville Maroons.

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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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