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Eagles, Asomugha inch toward decision time

Asomugha AP

The Eagles have the cap space to carry cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha’s $15 million base salary beyond March 12, when every team must be in compliance with the 2013 spending limit.  But if they expect Asomugha to consider a reduced contract, Asomugha will want the final decision to be made before the free-agency market opens.

The money flows more freely in the first few days after the checkered flag is waved.  After that, it’s harder to get paid in large amounts.

Of course, the Eagles aren’t compelled to do Asomugha any favors.  If the player opts to refuse the offer the team makes, the alternative could be not to cut him but to carry him on the roster until it’s too late to get more elsewhere than the Eagles are offering.

Complicating matters for the Eagles is that $4 million of Asomugha’s pay is fully guaranteed, without offset language.  Thus, even if the Eagles cut him, he’ll make $4 million this year.  And so, if Asomugha ultimately is motivated by money (and he may not be), the Eagles will have to offer at least $4 million more than any other team may be offering on a behind-the-scenes, hypothetical basis.

“We’ve done film evaluation, and our staff and [G.M.] Howie [Roseman] will sit down together and see where we’ll move forward,” coach Chip Kelly told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday night regarding Asomugha.  “But as a person, I think he’s outstanding.”

Asomugha may not feel the same way if the Eagles opt to squat on his contract until after the point at which potentially interested teams have addressed their needs elsewhere.

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Saints expect Andrus Peat to start, but aren’t sure where

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 13:  Offensive tackle Andrus Peat #75 of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field following the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the Saints 31-19. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Saints have been remaking their offensive line over the last couple of years and one of the new arrivals came with the 13th pick of the 2015 draft when they selected Andrus Peat.

Peat didn’t move straight into the starting lineup as a rookie, but saw time at both guard and tackle over the course of the season. Saints coach Sean Payton said last week that he expects Peat to be a starter this time around. The team is still trying to figure out which position he’s going to play, however.

“Whether it’s at right guard or right tackle, we’ve got some time and some flexibility with regards to that,” Payton said, via “I think he’s doing real well. He finished strong last season. Obviously he played at a few different spots a year ago. He’s in great shape, and I think that’s gonna serve him well as we’re in these practices and as we move into training camp. … I’m encouraged with how he’s been progressing.”

With right tackle Zach Strief back for an 11th season, guard might be the clearer path to the first team for Peat. Wherever he winds up, though, Peat is in line for a bigger role in his second year in New Orleans.

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Report: Wentz is ahead of Bradford in learning Eagles’ new offense

Quarterback Carson Wentz throws a pass during the Philadelphia Eagles' rookie minicamp at the team's NFL football training facility, Friday, May 13, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) AP

Eagles coach Doug Pederson has said repeatedly that Sam Bradford is his starting quarterback. But coaches change their minds about such things, and rookie Carson Wentz is giving Pederson plenty to think about.

According to Matt Lombardo of, at the start of Eagles’ Organized Team Activities, Wentz appeared to be ahead of Bradford in learning Pederson’s offense. That’s surprising given that Wentz is a rookie and Bradford is a seven-year veteran, but neither Bradford nor Wentz has played for Pederson before.

The Eagles are in an unusual position: You don’t pay a quarterback $18 million to sit on the bench, but you don’t draft a quarterback second overall to sit on the bench, either. Bradford is officially the No. 1 quarterback right now, but if Wentz still looks like he has a better grasp of Pederson’s offense in three months, can Pederson justify keeping Wentz on the sideline?

The third quarterback on the roster, Chase Daniel, obviously knows the offense the best of the group, as Daniel previously played in Pederson’s offense with the Chiefs. That could give Daniel a boost in the quarterback competition.

The bottom line is that, for all the Eagles’ insistence that Bradford is their starter, it’s a three-way quarterback battle. And there’s no guarantee that Bradford will win it.

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Andrew Whitworth open to move to guard in future

Carolina Panthers v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

There were some moments of discord between the Bengals and tackle Andrew Whitworth last offseason, particularly when he suggested the Bengals not draft a tackle in an early round and then watched as the team drafted tackles in both the first and second round.

All wound up being fine once the season started, however. Whitworth continued to play at a high level and the Bengals signed him to a one-year extension through the 2016 season. While that leaves his future beyond this season up in the air, Whitworth is convinced “all that stuff is going to take care of itself” because “the offers are always going to be there” if one plays well and plays a leadership role.

It won’t hurt that Whitworth is also open to being flexible about where he plays. Whitworth kicked inside to guard in the past when the Bengals needed help on the interior and says he’s open to doing so again in the future if it means extending his time in the league.

“I still see myself as having value in that,” Whitworth said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I feel with my kind of strength that’s something that’s definitely a positive for me, so I think that you can move inside when you’re a big powerful guy. Not all tackles can do that, but I’m really comfortable in there, have played really well in there and know that I could still do that. Yeah, if the body is still feeling good, for sure. If I sat there and said hey, as a tackle, how much longer can I go? I feel like at tackle I still have some years and at guard I for sure have years. I feel like it’s one of those things that you have to stay open if you want to keep playing.”

If Whitworth remains healthy, he will likely remain an effective blocker and that’s going to lead to interest in his services at either position should he and the Bengals decide on a parting of the ways.

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Monday morning one-liners

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 22: Paul Posluszny #51 of the Jacksonville Jaguars leaves the field during the second half of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 22, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Jaguars 13-12.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

Defensive backs aren’t the only players listening to Ed Reed during Bills practices.

Video games are bringing the Dolphins linebackers together.

DT Malcom Brown is taking on more of a leadership role with the Patriots.

Is Jace Amaro the right man to get the Jets going at tight end?

Ravens rookie CB Tavon Young shares the worst parts of being 5’9″.

Rookie CB William Jackson is getting used to life as a member of the Bengals.

The Browns are helping to build new athletic fields for students in Cleveland.

This could be LB Lawrence Timmonsfinal year with the Steelers.

Michigan State has produced more current Texans than any other school.

When will the Colts leave for their game in London?

LB Paul Posluszny is optimistic about his role with the Jaguars.

RB David Cobb moved in the wrong direction on the Titans depth chart this offseason.

Who are the best tight ends in Broncos history?

Yoga has been part of the offseason plan for Chiefs DT Dontari Poe.

What did the Raiders learn in the first OTAs of the year?

The Chargers are already preparing for the sounds of Week One in Kansas City.

What areas does Cowboys G La’El Collins need to improve?

Remembering Jack Lummus, who played for the Giants before losing his life in World War II.

The Eagles want to do a better job of stopping opposing tight ends.

Trent Murphy is working to make the most of a move from linebacker to defensive end at Redskins practices.

WR Daniel Braverman is trying to make a positive impression on the Bears.

Depth doesn’t look like a problem at defensive tackle for the Lions.

DL Datone Jones faces an uncertain future with the Packers.

QB Joel Stave is trying to continue his football career as a member of the Vikings.

Raheem Morris has proven to be a hit with Falcons wide receivers.

The Panthers might miss CB Josh Norman, but know they need to move on without him.

CB P.J. Williams is eager to show what he can do in the Saints defense.

The Buccaneers look better at cornerback this season.

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer and the pressures of charity golf tournaments.

The Rams got around to holding a rookie orientation.

Five 49ers who could rise from under the radar this season.

Seahawks S Kam Chancellor had a gift for Allen Iverson at a charity basketball game.

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Ron Rivera going back to fundamentals to escape Super Bowl hangover

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 04:  Carolina Panthers head coach, Ron Rivera in the pro-am ahead of the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club on May 11, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Even when Ron Rivera gets misinterpreted, he’s using it as a teaching moment for his team.

And the lesson is the Panthers have to begin their work over again, rather than thinking they’re starting halfway down the path after losing Super Bowl 50.

Rivera told Jenny Vrentas of that planning how to avoid the Super Bowl hangover has been his biggest challenge of the offseason, leading him to study how other coaches have handled the loss.

“It is really important we don’t lose sight of what we accomplished, but the truth of the matter is, we didn’t complete it,” Rivera says. “That will continue to be the emphasis: We want to get it done.”

Sometimes in teaching that lesson, things get a little sideways. After Rivera made reference recently to quarterback Cam Newton needing to improve, he then felt compelled to clarify that he wasn’t putting his quarterback “on blast.”

But he admitted that part of what he’s trying to teach his team this offseason is that all of them can get better at their craft.

“Someone said, ‘You put Cam on blast.’ I did that to everybody,” Rivera said. “I talked about Luke [Kuechly]; Luke knows he can become a much better pass-cover guy. It is a challenge to everybody that, hey, we were pretty good, but honestly, I think we can be better. I did it right after practice [last week], and I just wanted to make sure they understood that there is a sense of urgency, even though there are 107 days left.”

Knowing the number of days left until the start of the season is symbolic for Rivera, as he knows how difficult the task in front of him is. No Super Bowl loser has returned to the final game since the 1991-93 Bills, and even though the Panthers plowed through the NFC with a 15-1 record last year, he’s taking nothing for granted.

That’s why he’s working so much on fundamentals in OTA, trying to get his team working the way last year’s did, rather than trying to pick up where they left off.

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Broncos’ quarterback competition described as wide open

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez attends the 142nd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 07, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Churchill Downs) Getty Images

Most people think Mark Sanchez has more or less won the Broncos’ quarterback competition before the competition even started, as neither of the other two quarterbacks on the roster — rookie Paxton Lynch and second-year player Trevor Siemian — is viewed as ready to play this season.

But that assumption may be wrong.

According to Andrew Mason of, the Broncos are having a “a wide-open competition.” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak says he hasn’t made a decision yet.

“When he says it’s going to be an open competition, he means it,” Mason said of Kubiak. “Don’t assume anything.”

Lynch and Siemian are getting some work with the first-string offense at Organized Team Activities, and although Sanchez is clearly the favorite, all three quarterbacks are going to get the opportunity to show who deserves to be the starter.

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Fitzpatrick offer: Three years, $24 million

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 18:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets looks to throw a pass to Brandon Marshall (not shown) which resulted in a touchdown during the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on October 18, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

The suddenly public (sort of) back-and-forth continues between the Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Two days after the Jets (and, yes, it was the Jets) leaked to anyone who was listening that their longstanding offer to Fitzpatrick pays out $12 million in the first year of a three-year deal, multiple reports (undoubtedly instigated by Camp Fitz) indicate that the deal has a total base value of $24 million over three years.

The $8 million annually average would put Fitzpatrick below all starting quarterbacks not named Tyrod Taylor or not otherwise operating under a wage-scale rookie deal.

The bigger takeaway is that the nothing-personal situation between team and player is quickly getting personal, starting with sympathy OTA absences by receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, continuing with the team’s obvious effort to make Fitzpatrick look greedy, and culminating in Fitzpatrick’s effort to expose the Jets as cheap.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to say what we’ve been saying for most of the last week: These two sides need to go into a room, lock the door from the outside, and work this thing out. If they can’t, they should shake hands and go their separate ways.

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Phil Loadholt “moving pretty well” in return from torn Achilles

Phil Loadholt AP

Tackle Phil Loadholt took care of one obstacle in the way of his return to the Vikings when he took a pay cut earlier this offseason.

He’s working his way through another one during OTAs. Loadholt is back on the field after tearing his Achilles in the preseason last year and says his return to the field has gone smoothly.

“I feel like I’m moving pretty well,” Loadholt said, via the Pioneer Press. “I got some things I’ve got to get better at obviously, but I’m working hard to get better and those things and be ready to roll.”

Loadholt’s pay cut leaves him set to make a non-guaranteed salary of $2.25 million after agreeing to a reduction with another $1.25 million available in incentives. If he’s going to see all of that money, he’ll have to take care of a third obstacle in the form of Andre Smith. The former Bengal signed as a free agent this offseason and will be Loadholt’s competition for the right tackle job.

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Pats unlikely to owe NFL legal fees for Brady case, but . . .

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 3:   A fan shows support Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during a pre-season game with the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the Patriots getting involved in quarterback Tom Brady’s effort to overturn the four-game suspension imposed against him by filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Patriots possibly could end up picking up a portion of Park Avenue’s legal tab.

The folks at have uncovered a 1997 NFL resolution that arguably makes the Patriots responsible to reimburse the NFL for its attorney’s fees based on the team’s decision to become involved in the case.

Here’s the relevant language: “If any member club . . . initiates, joins, has a direct, football-related financial interest in, or offers substantial assistance to any lawsuit or other legal, regulatory, or administrative proceeding (‘Claim’) against the League . . . each Claiming Party shall be obligated jointly and severally to reimburse the League . . . for all of such party’s legal fees, litigation expenses, and costs incurred in such Claim if the Claiming Party (or the third party that received substantial assistance from the Claiming Party, or in whose Claim the Claiming Party has a direct, football-related financial Interest) does not obtain a judgment on the merits which substantially achieves, in substance and amount, the remedy sought.”

For a variety of reasons, this language probably doesn’t apply to the Patriots in this specific case.

First, it was the NFL and not Brady who initiated the lawsuit. Thus, there is no claim “against the League.” The league filed a lawsuit in an effort to uphold Brady’s suspension.

Second, the Patriots arguably don’t have a “direct, football-related financial interest” in the case. The Patriots won’t lose any money at the box office if Brady serves his suspension. While the suspension could make it harder for the Patriots to get to the playoffs (and thus host playoff games and make even more money), this would seem to be more of an indirect football-related financial interest, a byproduct of the suspension itself.

Third, the NFL will incur only minimal additional expenses as a result of the brief filed by the Patriots, apart from the 0.5 hours that one or two (or more) lawyers will bill to the league for reading the eight-page document. Parties to a lawsuit don’t respond directly to friends-of-the-court briefs, and the arguments made by the Patriots track the arguments made by Brady and the NFL Players Association.

As evidenced by the title to this item, there’s a but. It comes from this provision from the 1997 resolution: “The Commissioner . . . shall determine the amount of said legal fees, litigation expenses, and costs, and such determination shall be final and binding.”

While the resolution doesn’t expressly state that the Commissioner also will determine the threshold question of whether fees are even owed, it’s a safe bet that both questions fall within the unassailable, do-what-I-want discretion of the Commissioner. So even if the arguments favor the Patriots, the Commissioner could choose to pick the team’s pockets for any, some, or all of the legal fees incurred by the NFL from this point forward, and there really won’t be anything the Patriots can do about it.

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Kirk Cousins sees “a great weapon in the red zone” in Josh Doctson

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Josh Doctson of TCU  holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #22 overall by the Washington Redskins during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington’s first-round draft pick, Josh Doctson, has received quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ seal of approval.

Cousins said he has been studying up on Doctson to find out what kind of target he’ll be, and Cousins is already excited about the possibilities for finding Doctson in the end zone.

“I went back and watched some of his highlights from TCU, and he is a special player,” Cousins said, via “Looks like he can make the contested catch. It’s very natural for him to go up and catch that type of pass. He can run well. He has got great size. I almost thought he was a tight end when he showed up because if his size. . . . Having a guy like Josh could also be a great weapon in the red zone.”

Cousins believes the addition of Doctson gives Washington a very good receiving corps.

“We’ll try to build that chemistry as he’s here and as we can work together and just learn what he does well and what fits him, what he is natural at and try to get him the football,” Cousins said. “We certainly can spread it around with all the talent at the outside positions.”

With Doctson joining receivers DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder, plus tight end Jordan Reed, Cousins sounds like a happy man. For reasons beyond the $20 million he’s making this season.

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Kenjon Barner thriving in Philly, despite absence of Chip Kelly

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06:  Kenjon Barner #34 of the Philadelphia Eagles carries the ball during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Former Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, a sixth-round pick of the Panthers in 2013 who inevitably landed in Philadelphia via a trade with his former college head coach, is still in Philly even after Chip Kelly has gone. Last year, a strong preseason won Barner a spot on the 53-man roster. This year, a strong offseason could be helping Barner even more.

As explained by Eliot Shorr-Parks of, Barner’s performance coupled with the absences of DeMarco Murray (also gone), Ryan Mathews (recovering from surgery), and Darren Sproles (absent from OTAs and likely gone, eventually) has put Barner in line to potentially become the team’s starting tailback.

Barner’s receiving talents serve him well in coach Doug Pederson’s offense. It also doesn’t hurt that Barner has high-end return skills, which helped him stick with the team in 2015.

Eventually, it could be Barner and rookie Wendell Smallwood vying for playing time and touches in 2016. At a time when the Eagles seem to be intent on shedding as many former Kelly players as possible from the roster, maybe they relish the chance to get the most out of a Kelly’s former Oregon protégé.

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Browns offensive attitude “starts with the run game”

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 07:  Isaiah Crowell #34 of the Cleveland Browns scores a touchdown in front of Darius Butler #20 of the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 7, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Earlier this offseason, Browns coach Hue Jackson called running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnsonas good as I’ve seen” during his time in the NFL.

Crowell and Johnson said that Jackson’s complimentary words gave them a confidence boost heading into the final phase of offseason work and they may get another from running backs coach Kirby Wilson. Wilson says that while Jackson is working on building a passing attack from the ground up, Crowell and Johnson will be responsible for setting the tone offensively in Cleveland.

“We are going to be a run-oriented football team,” Wilson said, via the team’s website. “Everything starts with the run game, our offensive line and our backs. As coach told us, we are going to be a physically dominant, running football team. … We call it ‘big boy football.’ It is all about attitudes and it starts with the run game. You have got to be able to run it, and you have got to be able to stop the run on defense. We are going to take pride in that, being physically superior than our opponent.”

A run-first approach doesn’t come as a surprise based on the situation at quarterback and wide receiver in Cleveland, but it also fits with what Jackson did in Cincinnati over the last few years. The Bengals ranked in the top eight in rushing attempts in each of the last three seasons, which suggests Crowell and Johnson won’t be lacking for chances to confirm Jackson’s assessment of their abilities.

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Payton agrees with Brees’ decision not to talk contract during season

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 24:  Head coach Sean Payton and Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints watch the replay screen during the first quarter of a game against the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 24, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Saints quarterback Drew Brees recently applied a deadline for extending his contract, which currently is entering its final year. Once the regular season starts, Brees won’t be interested in talking.

His head coach agrees with that approach.

“Just having seen the interview and his comments, they totally make sense,” Sean Payton said on Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “It was the case [five] years back. You don’t want to be, A, as team or, B, as a player focusing on player contracts right during the middle of the season. . . . I wouldn’t say that there hasn’t been a sense of urgency with [G.M.] Mickey [Loomis] and [agent] Tom [Condon]. Those guys are the ones that are in contact and are the ones that are doing it. . . . I just know how Drew is and his focus and his ability to work and concentrate on the task at hand that won’t be altered, and that’s a strength of his.”

The strength of the final year of Brees’ contract becomes a potential weakness for the team, if the deal isn’t done before Week One. Come 2017, his $30 million cap number for 2016 becomes a $43.2 million franchise tender. Which makes it very unlikely that the franchise tag would be used again on Brees, like it was in 2012.

Many will say it’s far more likely that the two sides will work something out long before it’s time to use the tag. Of course, many also thought the deal would be done before Brees’ $30 million cap figure hit the books on March 9.

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Ronald Leary sends unmistakable message to Cowboys

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 14: Ronald Leary #65 of the Dallas Cowboys gets pulled out of the pile during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 14, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys guard Ronald Leary, who has lost his starting job to La’El Collins, wants out of Dallas. The Cowboys have made it clear they want fair value in return for Leary, which means (duh) they won’t be inclined to trade him unless they get fair value.

Leary meanwhile has made it clear that he doesn’t care about what the Cowboys get; he just wants out. The latest tangible piece of evidence comes from Leary stripping all references to the Cowboys from his Twitter page, via the Dallas Morning News.

But here’s the problem for Leary. He chose to sign his one-year restricted free agency tender last month, which puts him under contract for 2016 at a salary of $2.553 million. So while he can boycott voluntary workouts without consequence, he faces significant fines if he stays away from mandatory minicamp or training camp.

Leary had options. He could have, for example, refused to sign the tender and then skipped the offseason program, mandatory minicamp, training camp, etc., hopeful that Dallas would withdraw the tender.

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Doug Baldwin is “most certain” Marshawn Lynch isn’t coming back

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:  Doug Baldwin #89 and  Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrate after Lynch scored a fourth quarter touchdown against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 29, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

Now that running back Marshawn Lynch is retired, plenty of speculation has emerged as to whether he will unretire. Only days after Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said he won’t predict what the always-unpredictable Lynch will do, Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin is willing to go out on a limb, at least as it relates to Lynch’s most recent team.

I’m most certain that he’s not coming back,” Baldwin said regarding Lynch during a Friday appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

If Baldwin is talking about Lynch not coming back to the Seahawks, Baldwin should bet the farm on it. Even if Lynch unretires, there’s no way the Seahawks will want to carry his $9 million salary, especially after taking a $5 million cap hit due to the pre-June 1 processing of his retirement.

That doesn’t mean Lynch won’t decide to return and play for another team, and most speculation has centered on Lynch joining forces with his on-the-upswing hometown Raiders. If the team is indeed leaving Oakland, Lynch could help give the fans something to really remember.

The safest course with Lynch is to expect anything, because no one ever really knows what he’s going to do. There’s a good chance that, at this point on the calendar, even he doesn’t know.

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