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Kolb deal “screams backup”

Kevin_Kolb_2012_Rumors_Cardinals_Salary Getty Images

Kevin Kolb may indeed win a Super Bowl in Buffalo.  If that happens, he’ll likely be carrying a clipboard and not a football.

When news broke more than a week ago of quarterback Kevin Kolb’s deal with the Bills, it was reported that Kolb, who made $20 million in 20 months with the Cardinals, could make a “maximum” of $13 million over two years in Buffalo.  Sounds like starter money, right?

The truth, as a league source with knowledge of the deal tells PFT, is that the contract “screams backup.”

Specifically, Kolb is guaranteed to make only $1 million, and the contract has a base value of $6.1 million.  This means that $6.9 million is tied up in escalators and incentives and other factors that likely require Kolb to actually play — and play well — to get the money.

Of course, the real details of a contract often gets lost in the shuffle of the intervening news cycles.  The initial reports declared the deal to be worth a “maximum” of $13 million and the Bills curiously waited more than a week to finalize the deal.  Though the reason for the delay isn’t specifically know, it means that the real value for most media outlets will become a footnote to the “maximum” of $13 million nonsense that was trumpeted at the time the agreement was struck.

And so, as we explained last week, Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson likely are competing for the same roster spot.  If Jackson goes, the Bills will be out $500,000.  If Kolb goes, they’ll be out $1 million.  It’s a small price to pay for having a fallback plan in place before the draft-day dominoes start to fall.

UPDATE 11:57 a.m. ET:  It’s unclear whether the base value is even $6.1 million.  Apart from a $1 million signing bonus, workout bonuses of $100,000 per year, and base salaries of $1.65 million on 2013 and $2 million in 2014, Kolb has a $250,000 roster bonus in 2013 and a $1 million roster bonus in 2014.  That $1.25 million could be tied to Kolb being on the active game-day roster or other factors that may not occur, even if he’s on the team.

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Suh says his contract won’t be a distraction

Suh AP

With the Lions tabling Ndamukong Suh’s contract talks until after the 2014, his future with the team instantly becomes one of the top stories surrounding the franchise.

Suh would like other employees of the franchise to not be asked about his future with the team.

“I would ask you guys to not bother my teammates about something that they have nothing involved in,” Suh told reporters on Monday.  “So, for sure, I definitely don’t want them to have to answer any questions about it.  It’s really a tough situation, more so for them.  They have no clue, they’re blindsided or whatever it maybe is, as most people are blindsided about things that come out in the media, and that’s the way it is.  So I’d ask you all not to ask them questions about it and let it be a distraction to our team.  As I don’t think it will.  It won’t be a distraction to me.”

Of course, they won’t be “blindsided” by questions about Suh’s contract because everyone knows that the talks are being tabled until after the season, which in turn increases significantly the possibility that Suh won’t be a Lion come 2015.

It could be that Suh doesn’t want his teammates to be asked about the situation because he doesn’t want them talking about it, on or off the record. By not doing a new contract, Suh accounts for more than 16 percent of the team’s total cap space. That’s money that could have been spent on other guys at other positions of need, like cornerback. In a room full of players having the ability to talk to a reporter under the condition of anonymity, it’s inevitable that someone would say Suh is being greedy.

The high cap number increases the possibility that Suh will leave in 2015 because the Lions could force him to stay only via the franchise tag, which under the rules would entitle him to a 20-percent raise on his 2014 cap number. Which would give him more than $26 million for one more year.

He’s not worth that much, and the Lions won’t pay him that much. But every offer the Lions make necessarily will be compared to the $26 million he’d get under a franchise tag the team will never use. Which means that the only way to determine his actual value will be to let Suh negotiate with other teams. Which increases the probability that someone else will offer more than the Lions, or that Suh will choose to go to a team that offers as much or less.

That’s the bottom-line in this one. With the Lions as a practical matter unable to use the tag on Suh and unwilling to negotiate further until the 2014 season ends, why should Suh do a deal with Detroit until he knows what someone else will pay?

Along the way, Suh hopes that his teammates: (1) don’t realize it’s likely his last year in Detroit; and (2) won’t say negative things about him when asked about his contract or anything else about Suh, such as the report from earlier this year that Suh has been uncontrollable, a contention that his teammates previously denied because that’s what good teammates do.  If/when Suh’s teammates realize he won’t be a teammate beyond 2014, he may no longer get the benefit of that specific provision in the unwritten rules of team sports.

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Report: Odell Beckham out at least another week

Odell Beckham Jr. AP

Giants coach Tom Coughlin is going to have to deal with being beyond disappointed about first-round wide receiver Odell Beckham’s absence from the practice field a little bit longer.

Jordan Raanan and Conor Orr of NJ.com report that Beckham will miss at least another week as a result of the hamstring injury that troubled him in the spring and then flared up again during one of the opening practices of camp. That news won’t make Coughlin any happier, but there was some good news on Monday as an MRI came back negative for a more serious injury.

With the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday and another preseason game a week from Saturday, it would seem that Beckham will miss at least two preseason games. That won’t do him any favors as he tries to earn playing time ahead of Jerrel Jernigan and other receivers once the regular season gets underway.

Given the plans to utilize Beckham’s speed in the passing game, it doesn’t do the Giants’ offense any favors either.

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Jairus Byrd up and moving for the Saints

JairusByrd Getty Images

The Saints appear close to realizing some of their investment in Jairus Byrd.

The free agent safety, who was sidelined by offseason back surgery, is on the field this morning in pads, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.

Byrd also tweeted out he was “thankful for this day,” which seems like a more grateful version of #riseandgrind.

After giving him a six-year, $54 million contract this offseason, the Saints need him healthy. If he is, he should join with Kenny Vaccaro to give them a dynamic pair of safeties, which they’ll need to continue to make strides as a defense.

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Julius Peppers is having a good time in Green Bay

Julius Peppers, Mike Neal AP

Julius Peppers has always been good at sports in general, rushing the passer in particular.

So if anything stands out about his arrival in Green Bay, it’s how much fun the 34-year-old Peppers is having.

“You look at my last year. Was it one of my better years? Probably not, you know, statistically,” Peppers said. “But if you compare it to a lot of the guys who played last year, it was better than a lot of guys. So, I don’t really think I need to revitalize anything.

I’m actually having a lot of fun. I’m enjoying it. It’s a little different than what I’ve been used to in the past. I actually think it fits my skill set better than just being down every play. I’m having fun doing it. I’m just enjoying it.”

Peppers has always played with his hand down, though he mentioned wanting to play in a 3-4 when he was trying to bluff his way out of Carolina. But now, he’s playing a hybrid role in the Packers’ 3-4 system, opposite Clay Matthews, where he will get plenty of chances to rush the quarterback instinctively.

“That was one of the things that attracted me to coming, along with all of the other things they having going for themselves – a chance to stand up, move around, drop, rush, play in different positions,” Peppers said. “I think the scheme is set up to create some confusion and get the perfect mismatches on the edge, so be able to stand up and bluff a little bit is going to help the defense.

“It is a new challenge and I’m looking forward to not only proving to myself that I can do it but proving to the outsiders who don’t think I can do it.”

And he’s apparently enjoying himself quite a bit in the process.

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Dolphins sign QB Seth Lobato, two others

Seth Lobato AP

The Dolphins announced a series of transactions Tuesday morning, including the signing of one rookie quarterback and the release of another.

The Dolphins added three players, including Seth Lobato, an undrafted free agent quarterback from Northern Colorado. The 23-year-old Lobato completed 56.6 percent of his passes in his collegiate career (637-of-1126), throwing 53 touchdowns. The Colts waived Lobato (6-6, 223) in June.

The Dolphins also signed tight end Brett Brackett (6-5, 246) and defensive end D’Aundre Reed (6-4, 260). Brackett, 26, was with the Cardinals earlier in the offseason, while the 26-year-old Reed was let go by the Jaguars in April. Reed was active for six games with Minnesota in 2012.

To make room for the three additions, the Dolphins waived three undrafted rookies: quarterback Brock Jensen (North Dakota State), linebacker Derrell Johnson (East Carolina) and offensive guard Davonte Wallace (New Mexico State). Wallace was waived-injured.

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Kelly elaborates on his disdain for draft hype

Kelly AP

Unlike most of his peers, Eagles coach Chip Kelly is willing to pull the curtain back on the draft process and admit that it’s more blind luck than science.

“You don’t know how it’s going to pan out,” Kelly said the morning after round one of the 2014 draft.  “Just going through the analytics of it, 50 percent of first-round picks don’t make it.  That’s through the history of time.”

More recently, Kelly bemoaned the hype around the draft, which is driven in large part by the ever-growing draft-expert machine.  Apart from the fact that the draft experts never acknowledge that half the prospects bust and that we don’t know and won’t know who they are until they’re in the NFL, Kelly believes that, for some guys, the hype makes it harder to not be a bust.

“I think a lot of times the hype turns into really, really hard times for the individual who got picked, because there’s so many expectations of everyone building them up to be Superman because they had three months to write about them and talk about them,” Kelly told Peter King.

Kelly was asked to elaborate on his point during a Monday press conference, specifically as it relates to the hype surrounding second-round receiver Jordan Matthews.  While Kelly said he’s not concerned about the talk regarding Matthews, who already has been compared to Terrell Owens, Kelly explained his position on draft hype generally.

“I think the draft is integral obviously with putting together your team but literally from the day the Super Bowl ends until the draft, at the ending of May, or the beginning of June or maybe push it to July at some point in time; that’s all everybody talks about,” Kelly said.  “I felt the same way in college.  You devote everything to the signing day.  Well, how many of those guys on the signing day are actually going to contribute?  You may have one or two of your rookies that have an impact on your team but the rest of them it’s a part of having them develop. . . .

“The fact that people would watch the Combine; there’s times at the Combine where I fall asleep,” Kelly added.  “So I don’t know why people watch it on television.  They are running 40‑yard dashes.”

Kelly then reiterated his comparison of the draft-hype dynamic to other industries.

“[Y]ou guys are in the newspaper business,” Kelly said.  “If someone is a rookie coming into the newspaper thing, I don’t think you all just start applauding and saying, ‘Oh my God, the savior is here and our paper is safe because we just signed a kid out of Northwestern because the kid has really good prose.’  But in football it seems to be the biggest deal in the world and if a guy is not an All‑Pro in his first year but he was drafted in the first five picks, obviously he’s a bust.”

Kelly is right.  But what he didn’t say is that the NFL ultimately stirs the draft-hype drink via a TV and online media machine that no one will pay attention to if it’s not generating content.

I’m not complaining.  We cover the draft and the hype and everything that goes along with it.   But we’re always honest about the fact that there’s a disconnect between the impression that the draft experts have it all figured out and the reality that no one does.

Still, if the NFL or the rest of the draft-expert industry would use slogans like “Tune in for the crapshoot” in the ads and promos, fans eventually would ask, “Why am I watching?”

“Because it’s on TV” would only work for so long.

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Joe Thomas says Brian Hoyer is “a lot like Tom Brady”

Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer AP

The Browns are pretty clearly trying to send a message to Johnny Manziel to settle down and get to work.

But sometimes in sending that message, they might be going overboard the other direction.

Browns left tackle Joe Thomas was praising Manziel’s competition for the starting job, saying Brian Hoyer was “a lot like Tom Brady.”

Well, they both play football, they both wear silly hats, and they both have three Super Bowl rings. OK, so they both play football.

We’ll let Thomas explain himself.

“When you look at the way he competes and the way he demands the most out of everybody around him, it’s no coincidence that those guys played together,” Thomas said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “[Hoyer] has a lot of those same mental attributes and that’s a great thing for a quarterback to have.

“He’s the ultimate competitor, and no matter if we drafted a quarterback No. 1 overall, I knew that in his mind he expects to win the job because that’s the type of competitor he is and the type of quarterback.”

OK then, so just like Tom Brady.

Hoyer’s in a tough spot, because it’s practically assumed that Manziel will take over sooner rather than later. But at the moment, he’s going to have to be the guy.

Which, if he plays like Tom Brady, I suppose, is fine.

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Steelers won’t rule out return from Brett Keisel, James Harrison

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The Steelers have parted ways with several veteran players in the last couple of years as they’ve tried to get younger and more athletic, but they aren’t totally closing the door on the return of a couple of elder statesmen.

Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert was asked Monday about bringing defensive end Brett Keisel and linebacker James Harrison back to Pittsburgh for another season. Both players have expressed interest in another spin on the carousel and Colbert said nothing is imminent or impossible on that front.

“We haven’t eliminated anybody from consideration because we don’t know what’s going to happen before the season. Even into the season there’s been times when we’ve brought back veteran players due to injury,” Colbert said, via ESPN.com. “If we have eliminated a player we always tell [him] don’t keep us in your thought process, if you have an opportunity don’t wait for us, something along those lines.”

While having veteran mentors for young players can be a helpful thing, the best case scenario for the Steelers defense is probably one that doesn’t include the return of Keisel, Harrison or anyone else who can remember a time when the Houston Texans weren’t in the NFL. The Steelers will be better off if young players like Stephon Tuitt and Jarvis Jones can handle roles in the rotation and they should give them a real chance to do so before turning back the clock.

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Panthers G.M. on losing Gaffney: “It’s business”

Dave Gettleman AP

Four times in recent memory, a team tried to stash a player on IR, only to have another team claim him off waivers before they could.

Three times, the Patriots did the claiming. Twice now, they’ve done it to Dave Gettleman’s employer.

The Panthers General Manager was philosophical about losing sixth-round pick Tyler Gaffney to the Patriots.

“This is a very competitive business, and people are going to try to improve their team within the rules,” Gettleman said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “And this is within the rules.”

Asked if he was upset the Patriots claimed Gaffney, Gettleman replied: “It’s business.”

It was also business when the Patriots claimed tight end Jake Ballard off waivers from the Giants in 2012 when Gettleman worked there.

And it was business when the Patriots claimed safety Josh Barrett off Broncos waivers in 2010, and when the Jaguars claimed Don Carey off waivers from the Browns in 2009, when both players were injured.

Ultimately, none of those players proved to be difference-makers, and Gaffney might not either.

The Panthers drafted him with the future in mind, but their present depth is the reason they needed a body.

With Jonathan Stewart out a few weeks with a hamstring strain and veterans DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert getting days off in practice, the Panthers felt they needed to bring in Fozzy Whittaker rather than carry an injured Gaffney on the roster for four weeks until they could safely put him on IR.

It was a bit of a risk, a pick and $96,600 in signing bonus that everyone would play nice.

Everyone did not.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Tiquan Underwood AP

Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett says that QB E.J. Manuel has “gotten so much more comfortable.”

Dolphins rookie WR Jarvis Landry is picking things up quickly.

Said Patriots WR Danny Amendola of working with Tom Brady, “The more experience you get with each other, the more you’re on the same page, the more you just feel each other out there. We’re just trying to maximize that and go from there.”

RB Chris Ivory is likely to handle short yardage duties for the Jets.

Starbucks gift cards are helping build chemistry in the Ravens passing game.

The Bengals hope that dealing with aches and pains now lead to better health in the future.

Browns T Joe Thomas compared QB Brian Hoyer to Tom Brady.

Rookie LB Ryan Shazier continues to impress the Steelers.

The Texans like what they’ve seen from WR Keshawn Martin.

Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star doubts that the NFL will issue much discipline to Colts owner Jim Irsay.

TE Clay Harbor is battling a calf injury at Jaguars camp.

Titans QB Jake Locker thought the offense had its best day of camp on Monday.

RB Montee Ball is working on being a tougher runner for the Broncos.

Chiefs LB Nico Johnson has lost weight in hopes of having a better season than he had last year.

Raiders T Menelik Watson is healthy and aiming for a starting job.

Rookie G Chris Watt continues to work with the Chargers first team.

How are things shaping up at receiver for the Cowboys?

The Giants keep trying to find ways to get the light to turn on for TE Adrien Robinson.

Eagles CB Cary Williams has set a goal of making the Pro Bowl.

LB Trent Murphy is angling for a role on the Redskins defense as a rookie.

Bears LB Lance Briggs wants to retire without playing for another team.

Lions LB Kyle Van Noy is recovering from a minor thumb injury.

Rookie TE Richard Rodgers has done well in Packers camp.

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph says he won’t lose his hunger after signing an extension.

Tempers boiled over at Falcons practice on Monday.

Said Panthers WR Tiquan Underwood of his hair, “After having a helmet on for so long I do have to adjust it a little bit. But it stays up there pretty good.”

Holding Saints camp in West Virginia is making stars out of beat writers.

CB Anthony Gaitor is back with the Buccaneers.

The Cardinals aren’t worried about DT Dan Williams‘ knee.

Rams P Johnny Hekker hopes to build on last year’s success.

The 49ers won’t do as much flying this year as they did last year.

Will this year’s emphasis on defensive holding and illegal contact hurt the Seahawks?

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Bruce Allen: RG3 was asked to do the impossible last year

Redskins' Griffin III is tackled by Eagles' Ryans during second half action of their NFL football game in Landover Reuters

Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was rushed into starting Week One last season after an offseason of rehabbing his surgically repaired knee left him unprepared to run the offense.

That’s the word from team President Bruce Allen, who said on ESPN 950 that Griffin was unprepared last year through no fault of his own.

“What you saw last year was almost a little disrespectful to the game of football,” Allen said, via the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “It’s impossible to ask a player to perform well during the regular season if you haven’t practiced. Last year at this time, he was still rehabbing his knee, and he wasn’t allowed to practice or work in team drills. We put him on the spot by trying to do that. And this year he’s had a full offseason, his knee is 100 percent, knock on wood, and he’s had all [the practices], and that’s how you get ready to play a football season.”

Although Allen didn’t name former head coach Mike Shanahan by name, that sure sounds like Allen is saying Shanahan botched the Griffin situation by starting him in Week One, rather than letting Griffin come along slowly. Just about everyone in Washington seems to agree that Griffin will be better off this year, with Jay Gruden as his coach.

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Ravens fans cheer Ray Rice at open practice

rayrice AP

Ravens running back Ray Rice may be loathed in most of America after an offseason that saw him face an assault charge for hitting his wife. But Rice is still beloved in Baltimore.

The Ravens had an open practice at their home stadium on Monday night, and Rice heard loud cheers from the fans in attendance. Rice was twice shown on the big screen, and both times he got enthusiastic ovations, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Rice tapped his chest to show his appreciation as he soaked in the applause.

Many fans wore Rice jerseys, and several Rice jerseys were spotted on women and children.

Rice’s actions this offseason have not been worthy of people cheering him, and when the NFL let Rice off with only a two-game suspension, it provoked nationwide outrage. That doesn’t seem to matter to the adoring public in Baltimore, however. What matters there is that Rice remains an important part of the Ravens’ offense.

It happens often, in every sport and every city. No matter how heinous an athlete’s actions, if he can help the home team win, he’s going to hear the cheers.

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Richard Sherman: Seahawks have “tremendous leadership”

Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman AP

As with any Super Bowl winning team, it’s impossible to return every player the year after winning the championship. The Seattle Seahawks had to make a few salary cap related cuts and saw other players depart in free agency this offseason.

Defensive end Red Bryant, fullback Michael Robinson and receiver Sidney Rice were some of the most respected voices in the Seahawks locker room over the past few seasons. Now all three players are no longer on the roster.

Bryant was released and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Rice retired last week and Robinson is a free agent currently pursuing a media career.

Robinson wondered whether there would be a strong enough presence in Seattle’s locker room to keep the team focused following some of the veteran departures. However, cornerback Richard Sherman believes the young core of the Seahawks will be over to take over the burden as team leaders.

“I think we lead by example. And that’s how our team plays. Guys follow guys who make plays, and who show up on game days and make big plays in big games. We have all those things so we have tremendous leadership,” Sherman said.

Sherman, safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, defensive end Michael Bennett and quarterback Russell Wilson will likely assume most of the leadership duties for Seattle this season. Sherman and Thomas are more vocal leaders while Chancellor and Wilson are more prone to lead by example.

Sherman says they are up for the job.

“We lead by example and the example will be what it has been. Earl Thomas is going to say a lot, Kam Chancellor is not going to say a lot, guys know who the leaders are guys know who to follow and when you are following those guys then we will be fine,” Sherman said.

“We have guys who show up in big games. They don’t have to talk they don’t have to say what they are going to do, they don’t have to give a rah-rah speech but when you need them they will be there for you. That’s the kind of guys we got and those are the kind of guys we need.”

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Another day, another fight at Eagles training camp

Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp AP

After a fight involving running back LeSean McCoy and defensive end Trent Cole on Sunday, another fight broke out in training camp for the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday.

According to Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com, a scuffle took place between receiver Jeremy Maclin and cornerback Bradley Fletcher during the team’s first full-padded practice of camp. The two players hooked up and exchanged blows after a physical play toward the end of practice.

One thing led to another,” Fletcher said. “It’s football. Emotions get going and things happen, but we’re all just working to get better.”

Head coach Chip Kelly didn’t seem to be overly concerned about the fight between McCoy and Cole on Sunday either.

“Yeah, their emotions got the better part of them. Those things happen. It’s no different than sometimes little kids don’t get along very well and throw Tonka trucks at each other,” Kelly said. “…That two kids push each other in practice somewhere. It’s not a real big deal.”

The Eagles had just two fights in all of training camp a season ago. Now they’ve had two fights in as many days.

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Andre Johnson strains right hamstring on Monday

Andre Johnson AP

Some would say that a player missing the offseason program exposes him to a greater injury risk when training camp opens.  Those who would say that would point to Texans receiver Andre Johnson.

Johnson, who skipped all of the 2014 offseason workout program due to concerns regarding the direction of the team and his future role in it, tweaked his right hamstring muscle in practice on Monday.

After practice, both Johnson and coach Bill O’Brien downplayed the situation.

“I just got a little tight, it was just a precaution,” Johnson said.  “We’re going to go in and see what’s what. Just from the feeling of it, it’s not anything bad.”

O’Brien called the injury “minor.”

Still, it makes sense to pay attention to Johnson’s health or lack thereof as he tries to make up for lost time.  While having him back is better than not having him, an injury that knocks him out of action for an extended stretch will put the team in the same position as if he’d never shown up.

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