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It’s Falcons Mt. Rushmore nomination time

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The nominations for the various teams’ Mt. Rushmores are driving more interest in the process than we ever thought they would.

Hopefully, when we start the voting for each team’s final four sculpted stone heads and when we unveil the lists on Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network, the interest will be even higher

Here’s a chance to show high interest in the nominees for a franchise that, before 2008, had plenty of low points.  Before 2009, the Falcons never had consecutive winning seasons.  They’ve now had five in a row, which means that some of the folks responsible for the team’s recent success could make it onto the short list of their all-time best.

Nominate below the folks you think should be on the Falcons’ giant mountain of immortality.  (That takes on an entirely different meaning if you forget to add one of the t’s.)

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Report: Texans pick up J.J. Watt’s 2015 contract option

J.J. Watt AP

Teams have until May 3 to declare whether they will extend the contracts of 2011 first-round picks through 2015.

However, the Texans didn’t wait until the first Saturday in May to pick up the 2015 option on one of the shining stars of the Class of 2011.

Via ESPN’s Field Yates, Houston has exercised the option to keep defensive lineman J.J. Watt under contract for a fifth season.

The Texans’ decision is hardly a surprise. The 25-year-old Watt is one of the game’s top defensive players, notching 217 tackles and 36.5 sacks in his first three NFL seasons.

However, the timing of the Texans’ move is a little curious, given that the club has begun its offseason training. According to PFT’s Mike Florio, the fifth-year option has an injury-only guarantee. By officially extending Watt before the deadline, the Texans are perhaps taking on a risk of a freak injury in the first phase of workouts.

Nevertheless, the Texans have moved now to secure Watt under contract for at least two more seasons. The next logical step would be signing Watt long-term — a pact that seems likely to make him one of the game’s highest paid defenders at the very least.

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New stadium deal gives Bengals the green light to host games in London

San Diego Chargers v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

For some NFL teams, a practical impediment exists to hosting games in London:  The stadium lease.

Some leases require all “home” games to be played in the home stadium, with no “home” games played elsewhere.  The Bengals’ lease at Paul Brown Stadium previously contained such a provision.  Now it doesn’t.

The Bengals announced a new agreement with Hamilton County that, among other things, “allows the Bengals to participate in the NFL’s International Series games.”

The team will contribute $6 million to stadium upgrades, and the venue will have new wireless Internet service, a high-definition scoreboard, a new weight room, new furniture in he Club Lounges, and an expanded locker room.  The Bengals also waived height restrictions aimed at ensuring views of the Ohio River and the Cincinnati skyline from the stadium.

The agreement flows from the county’s desire to upgrade a riverfront development known as “The Banks,” which could bring up to 2,000 General Electric jobs to the area.  It marks a shift in a hostile relationship between the team and Hamilton County executives.

“We wanted to demonstrate our interest in working together to ensure that The Banks is a viable location for this project,” Bengals president Mike Brown said in a release.  “We all know that the Cincinnati area is a great place to live and work.  Landing this project will let the nation know it as well.”

The release from the team refers to games being played abroad on a “periodic” basis, which implies that only seven regular-season games will be played in Cincinnati at least twice in the coming years.

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PFT’s 2014 NFL Draft visit / workout report is up and running

KHALIL MACK AP

As the 2014 NFL Draft approaches, we’re keeping tabs on prospect visits, workouts and meetings conducted by all 32 NFL teams. And to that end, we’ve compiled a working list of prospects linked to clubs that we’ll update until the draft begins on Thursday, May 8.

With every team talking to scores of draft-eligible players, it’s likely some workouts and/or visits haven’t made our original list. Moreover, a team won’t select many of the prospects with which it has contact before the draft.

Nevertheless, with the great interest in the draft, we offer the workout list as a resource for fans interested in how clubs are proceeding in the weeks leading up to the NFL’s annual selection meeting.

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Sheriff confirms McNabb served one day for misdemeanor DUI

Donovan McNabb AP

Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb spent a day in jail this week as a sentence for driving under the influence.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio confirmed in a statement that McNabb was booked in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Detention facility on and was released from county jail after serving one day for a misdemeanor DUI charge.

“I have had other high profile athletes who have been incarcerated with no problems and this latest athlete follows that same pattern,” Arpaio said.

Still unexplained is how McNabb managed to be arrested in December, arraigned in January, go through pre-trial conferences in February, have change-of-plea hearings in March and spend a day in jail in April without anyone in the media hearing a thing about it until today.

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Rolando McClain reinstated from reserve/retired list

Rolando McClain, Matt Shaughnessy

Linebacker Rolando McClain, who last played in 2012 with Oakland, has been reinstated from the reserve/retired list, the NFL disclosed in its Thursday transactions.

The Ravens hold McClain’s rights. He recently had a workout with Baltimore, but he did not perform especially well, according to multiple published reports.

It remains to be seen how the Ravens will proceed with the 24-year-old McClain. The Ravens commence offseason workouts on Monday, and were McClain on the roster, he could take part in the activities.

According to a 2008 Washington Post report on Brett Favre’s reinstatement from retirement, a player, once reinstated, has 24 hours to be added to the roster, given his release or traded to another club.

McClain recorded 246 tackles in three seasons with the Raiders, who took him eighth overall in the 2010 draft. The club released him last April.

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Jaguars’ Tandon Doss arrested for disorderly conduct, not charged

Jarrad Page, Tandon Doss, Brian Rolle AP

Jaguars receiver Tandon Doss was arrested on Wednesday in Indianapolis for disorderly conduct, but he will not be charged.

An Indianapolis police report describes Doss as “out of control” during a disturbance with another man. But the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office decided not to file charges.

The Jaguars have acknowledged they are aware of the matter but made no other comment.

Doss, who grew up in Indianapolis, was a 2011 fourth-round draft pick of the Ravens and spent his first three years in the NFL in Baltimore before signing this offseason with the Jaguars.

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Report: Donovan McNabb was arrested for DUI, spent one day in jail

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb was arrested for driving under the influence in January, agreed to a plea deal and has already served his sentence of one day in jail, according to TMZ.

Although the arrest is months old, it went unreported until McNabb’s mug shot was released today.

There are still no details about exactly what McNabb’s plea was, and no explanation about why the arrest took so long to become public.

McNabb did not address the matter on his NBC Sports Radio show today.

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Report: Pitt quarterback Tom Savage invited to Draft

Tom Savage, Ufomba Kamalu AP

As the NFL Draft creeps ever so slowly closer, you’ll hear lots of talk about “late-risers.”

Usually, they’re more cases of the media catching up with what teams have thought all along. Regardless, one of this year’s hot names of the last few weeks is quarterback Tom Savage.

According to Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the former Pitt passer has been invited to New York for the draft, but hasn’t decided whether he’ll attend.

That goes along with reports that there are more teams wanting to talk to him than he has time to talk to, and it’s becoming clear that Savage’s stock is higher than many anticipated.

He has the size and the arm strength teams covet, which could lead him into the late-first, early-second round neighborhood.

Which side of that line he’s on, and how much he likes sitting around a green room, could ultimately influence his choice to attend the proceedings.

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Ravens visited with C.J. Mosley, Jimmie Ward recently

CJ Mosley AP

Rolando McClain wasn’t the only former Alabama linebacker to pay the Ravens a visit this week.

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Ravens had C.J. Mosley in for a pre-draft visit. For Mosley’s sake, let’s hope it went better than McClain’s attempt to restart his NFL career.

Mosley is considered the top inside linebacker prospect in this year’s draft and is expected to be a first-round pick next month. Mosley suffered a handful of injuries during his time with the Crimson Tide, but said recently that he got a clean bill of health at the combine.

The Ravens re-signed Daryl Smith this offseason and also bring back Arthur Brown, Albert McClellan and Josh Bynes at inside linebacker, but saw Jameel McClain sign with the Giants. That doesn’t make it the most pressing of needs, especially with a hole at safety next to Matt Elam.

On that front, Wilson reports that the Ravens have also met with Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward recently. Ward is coming off a foot injury, but has been able to work out this spring and is projected to be selected in the first two rounds.

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Another jam-packed PFT on NBCSN today

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Thursday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN expands back to an hour.  And we’ll be covering plenty of ground during that time.

It’s Bengals and Chargers draft preview day, and we’ve interviewed Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis and San Diego coach Mike McCoy.

Also joining the program will be Washington running back Bishop Sankey, who would be a first-round pick based on name alone.

Then there’s the poll question.  As posted below.  Please answer below.

And please tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN for a full hour of the latest NFL news and analysis.

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Jaguars release four, including starter Russell Allen

Buffalo Bills v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

The Jaguars were among the league’s most prolific transaction-makers a year ago, and they’re doing some more business before they start adding players again before the draft.

The team announced they had released veteran linebacker Russell Allen, and waived three other players — defensive ends Will Pericak and D’Aundre Reed and wide receiver Jabin Sambrano.

Allen had started 29 games for the Jaguars the last two seasons, and 44 total in five years with the team. The former undrafted rookie from San Diego State was scheduled to make $1.975 million this year, the final year of his contract.

He was a solid enough player for them, and they don’t exactly need the cap room, so the reason for his release is a bit unclear.

UPDATE 4:24 P.M. ET: Via Mark Long of the Associated Press, the Jaguars said Allen failed his physical. He ended last season on injured reserve because of a concussion.

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Khalil Mack to visit with Falcons next week as well

Khalil Mack AP

The Falcons went into this offseason hoping to put together a defense that makes more impactful plays than the 2013 version and they’re devoting a good chunk of next week to meetings with players that might help them do that.

We’ve already seen reports that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr are headed for visits with Atlanta next week and Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports that the Falcons are also expected to meet with Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. That gives them a clean sweep of the top three defensive edge players in this year’s class.

The Falcons aren’t locked into going that route, however. They’ve also shown interest in the top two offensive tackles — Auburn’s Greg Robinson and Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews — and they can use the help in either area.

Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff made a big trade up to get wide receiver Julio Jones a few years ago and the Falcons could make another move this year if they don’t think the player they want will make it to the sixth pick. Next week’s meetings will likely help inform that decision.

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Oakland hopes to work something out with Raiders before A’s

Oakland Coliseum Getty Images

Raiders owner Mark Davis has repeatedly said that he wants Oakland to address the team’s stadium situation sooner rather than later, especially since the Raiders signed a one-year Band-Aid stadium lease through 2014.

Davis apparently has gotten the city’s attention.

Via SportsBusiness Daily, the Oakland A’s hope to sign a 10-year lease to remain at the outdated, sewage-ridden (at times) Coliseum.  Oakland, however, hopes to work something out with the Raiders first.

The A’s would pay little rent and would make $10 million to $12 million in improvements, including a new scoreboard and a ribbon scoreboard between the two decks.

The Raiders presumably want their own place.  Davis has called the presence of a dirt infield in the only venue shared with the local baseball team “a travesty.”

Some Raiders fans would say it’s fitting, given the franchise’s performance over the last decade.

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Joe Reitz signs RFA tender with Colts

Joe Reitz AP

The Colts start their offseason workouts on Monday, which may explain why guard Joe Reitz decided to bring his time as a restricted free agent to an end on Thursday.

The team announced that Reitz has signed the tender offer extended to him earlier this offseason. Reitz will make $1.431 million as a result.

Reitz was claimed off waivers from the Dolphins in 2010 and has played in 34 games over the last three seasons. He’s started 20 of those games, including three in 2013, but is slated for a reserve role next season with Donald Thomas expected back to full strength after last year’s injury-marred season.

With Reitz back in the fold, the Colts return most of last year’s offensive line. Center Samson Satele was cut and sometime-starter Jeff Linkenbach signed with Kansas City while Phil Costa and Lance Louis were signed to join Reitz in the mix for depth roles.

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McNabb’s arrest relates to traffic citation

McNabb Getty Images

Yes, former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb has been arrested in Arizona.  The details of the arrest remain largely vague.

Via KTAR.com, the arrest relates to a “criminal traffic” situation.  The incident apparently occurred on January 6, with an arraignment on January 15.

The list of court dates shows three different “change of plea” entries.  It’s possible there was only one change of plea, and that the hearing relating to the change of plea was postponed twice.

Trial is set for May 16, 2014.  It remains unclear what McNabb allegedly did.

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