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Lions rookie kicker puts on a helmet for the first time in his life

Detroit Lions Rookie Camp Getty Images

Not many people sign an NFL contract before they’ve ever worn a football helmet. But Havard Rugland’s path to the NFL was not like most.

Rugland, the Norwegian kicker who parlayed a trick shot YouTube video into a spot on the Lions’ offseason roster, had the first football practice of his life at the Lions’ rookie minicamp on Friday. Lions coach Jim Schwartz was asked afterward where the coaches had to start with Rugland.

Putting a helmet on,” Schwartz answered. “Didn’t really get that whole thing. I actually asked him out there, ‘Is this the first time you’ve had a helmet on,’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’ So, you’ve got to start there.”

Rugland is not expected to make the regular-season roster, and Schwartz detailed how much work Rugland has to do.

“You know, he’s kicked the ball his whole life but it’s different,” Schwartz said. “There’s a snapper, there’s a holder, and there are 10 other guys on the field. It’s not an individual sport. As much as the technique and everything else is individual, you’re relying on a lot of different guys. So, this was his first taste of that. We didn’t really do any kicking today, but as we go that will be. But he’s never put a pair of football pants on. When we make thigh pads and knee pads mandatory, he’s not going to know which one’s which and where they go without some direction.”

That’s the kind of teaching most NFL coaches don’t have to worry about. But Rugland has to start somewhere.

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Le’Veon Bell gets franchise tag

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off of the field after the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers weren’t expected to let running back Le’Veon Bell hit the open market when the new league year gets underway next month so it comes as no surprise that he’s the latest player to receive a franchise tag.

The Steelers have placed a franchise tag on Bell and, per multiple reports, it is the exclusive variety. That gives them until July 15 to work out a long-term contract before Bell would be left with the choice of playing out the year on the franchise tender, working out a different one-year deal or sitting out.

The franchise tender for Bell should come in at somewhere over $12.3 million. Because the Steelers went the exclusive route, Bell cannot be signed by another team even if they were willing to pony up the required two first-round picks as compensation.

Bell’s always been productive when he’s been on the field for the Steelers since they made him the 48th pick of the 2013 draft. Injuries and suspensions have kept him off the field at times over that span and those absences could create some concern on the team’s end about an extended deal.

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Report: Dwight Freeney wants to play in 2017

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 02:  Dwight Freeney #93 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts to a question during the Super Bowl LI press conference on February 2, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Getty Images

Before Super Bowl LI, defensive end Dwight Freeney said that he would take some time after the Falcons played the Patriots before deciding if he wanted to play another NFL season.

Freeney said he wanted “to take all that emotion out and make that decision when it comes” rather than doing something fueled by the result of the game. It’s been a few weeks since that game ended with the Patriots storming back for the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history and it seems that’s been enough time for Freeney to make up his mind.

Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports that Freeney has decided that he wants to play a 16th season. His contract with the Falcons came to an end after the Super Bowl, so Freeney is set to become a free agent on March 9.

Freeney had three sacks in 15 games for the Falcons in the regular season and had another one in the Super Bowl.

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Chiefs owner backs Alex Smith as his starting quarterback

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:  Head Coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 9, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs have come up as a possible destination for quarterback Tony Romo, once he’s a former Cowboy.

But Chiefs owner Clark Hunt seems to be just fine sticking with Alex Smith under center.

According to Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, Hunt said he was on board with coach Andy Reid, and that they were comfortable moving forward with Smith.

“I would just reiterate what Andy has said several times throughout the offseason, which is he’s very happy with Alex and Alex is going to be our starter going into 2017,” Hunt said.

There’s a growing perception that the Chiefs have gone as far as Smith can take them, much in the way the 49ers had when they replaced him with Colin Kaepernick (which seems like forever ago).

At the same time, plenty can go wrong with any plan at quarterback if it centers on Romo, as the Cowboys found out two years ago before Dak Prescott bailed them out last season.

Smith has some clear faults, but he’s also efficient and smart and the Chiefs have gone 41-20 with him as the starter the last four years. While it’s tempting to dream of an upgrade, someone who is more of a threat downfield, the Chiefs apparently aren’t prepared to do anything rash to replace him.

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Browns still don’t plan to tag Terrelle Pryor

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 24:  Terrelle Pryor #11 of the Cleveland Browns warms up before the game against the San Diego Chargers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The cap-rich, talent-starved Browns apparently will assume the risk that receiver Terrelle Pryor will leave via free agency.

Via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the team hasn’t changed its position that the franchise tag won’t be applied to Pryor. This year, the receiver version of the tag will consume 9.39 percent of the total salary cap. At the low end of the currently-expected range of $166 million, that’s $15.58 million.

Pryor, drafted six years ago as a quarterback, converted to receiver after all of his options at his initial position dried up. He caught 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns in his first full season as a receiver.

The Browns have until 4:00 p.m. ET to decide whether to tag Pryor. The transition tag also is available, at 7.939 percent of the cap ($13.1 million); it would give the Browns a right to match but no compensation if he leaves.

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Colts add a 2016 49ers draft pick to offensive line mix

OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 4: Fahn Cooper #77 of the Ole Miss Rebels blocks against Ryan Anderson #7 of the Alabama Crimson Tide on October 4, 2014 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts are expected to continue looking for ways to improve their offensive line play this offseason and they’ve added another player to the mix ahead of the start of free agency.

The team announced Monday that they have signed tackle Fahn Cooper to their 90-man roster.

Cooper was a fifth-round pick by the 49ers last season and failed to make the team out of the summer. He was re-signed to the practice squad and remained there all season, but did not sign on again with the 49ers following the end of the regular season.

Cooper started 26 games at Ole Miss. Most of his time was at right tackle, but he saw time on the left side when Dolphins first-round pick Laremy Tunsil was serving a suspension.

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Panthers put franchise tag on defensive tackle Kawann Short

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 25:  Kawann Short #99 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates a sack against the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1st half during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers continued the sudden trend of #asexpected applications of the franchise tag, putting it on defensive tackle Kawann Short.

They have until July 15 to do a long-term deal with Short, but they’ve been working on that for over a year.

The difference in opinion on his value could make it an interesting negotiation.

Short had 6.0 sacks last season, still good but well off the 11.0 he had in 2015, when it became apparent he was going to get very rich.

Now we just have to see if things proceed amicably, unlike last year when they yanked the tag from cornerback Josh Norman, allowing him to go to Washington.

It also helps keep their line together, after they’ve re-signed defensive ends Mario Addison and Wes Horton to new deals.

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The annual Hot 100 Free Agents list has been posted

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tosses the ball forward after gaining a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

Before the spending begins, let the arguing begin.

The annual PFT Hot 100 Free Agents list has been posted. We know most of the top players — starting with No. 1 Le’Veon Bell — won’t be allowed to come near the open market, but we still ranked them among players at all positions who stand to get paid, handsomely, sometime in the next couple of weeks.

The list includes all sorts of players, young and old, who figure to make a bunch of money if they actually hit the open market next week. Because a lot can and will change between now and then and then certainly throughout March when the market actually opens, we’ll update the list as teams pass on contract options and roster bonuses and release other players to make way for their new and expensive acquisitions.

The status of each player will be noted as he receives a tag, signs an offer sheet or signs a contract, and the ranking order can change as more players become free when the movement begins. It wouldn’t be a terrible idea to bookmark the list for reference or even for argument’s sake.

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Tim Tebow shows up for Mets training camp

PEORIA, AZ - OCTOBER 13:  Tim Tebow #15 (New York Mets) of the Scottsdale Scorpions watches from the dugout during the Arizona Fall League game against the Peoria Javelinas at Peoria Stadium on October 13, 2016 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Tim Tebow One-Man Fantasy Camp continues.

Via HardBallTalk.com, the former NFL quarterback and would-be baseball player has arrived at New York Mets training camp. He received a non-roster invitation, and he’ll be around long enough to move merchandise and otherwise demonstrate that he’ll only play in the Majors if they expand the National League and American League dramatically.

The development comes nearly five years after the New York Jets traded for Tebow, after the Peyton Manning acquisition made Tebow expendable in Denver. He barely played in 2012 for the Jets, and he never made it to another team’s regular-season roster after that.

And while we’ve got no issue with a guy pursuing a dream, Tebow’s baseball ability and age demonstrate that it’s not a realistic dream. But if he can make a little money and the Mets can too, what’s the harm in it?

So meet the Mets. Meet the Mets. Step right up, and greet the Mets. Bring your kiddies. Bring your wife. Guaranteed to have the time of your life. Because the Mets are really sockin’ the ball, and running smack dab into a wall. Or something.

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Patriots find tight ends coach from a familiar source

New England Patriots v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

The Patriots have filled a vacancy on their coaching staff from within.

The team announced it had promoted Nick Caley to tight ends coach. He had been a coaching assistant the last two years, after working a number of college jobs on the defensive side of the ball.

He has the right pedigree, having graduated from and coached at John Carroll (it’s practically the Rutgers of their coaching staff).

That’s the alma mater of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels,  director of player personnel Nick Caserio (‘99) and others on staff. Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco and Jaguars G.M. Dave Caldwell also graduated from the Division III school in Ohio, along with Bill Polian’s sons Chris and Brian.

He replaces Brian Daboll, who left to become offensive coordinator at Alabama.

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PFT’s Free Agent Hot 100

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 27:  Lamar Miller #26 of the Houston Texans holds off Melvin Ingram #54 of the San Diego Chargers as he rushes with the ball in the second half at NRG Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The following are PFT’s top 100 free agents for the start of the 2017 league year. The rankings include prospective unrestricted and restricted free agents, as well as released players. Players expected to be released won’t be added until the transaction is official, and the list will be updated as events warrant, with signings, tags and re-signings denoted when announced and/or reported.

1. Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (got the franchise tag from the Steelers on Feb. 27)

2. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins

3. Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram

4. Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short (got the franchise tag from the Panthers on Feb. 27)

5. Chiefs safety Eric Berry

6. Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (got the franchise tag from the Cardinals on Feb. 27)

7. Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul

8. Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye

9. Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower

10. Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell

11. Bengals guard Kevin Zeitler

12. Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery

13. Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson

14. Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson

15. Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams

16. Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore

17. Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson

18. Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor

19. Packers guard T.J. Lang

20. Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth

21. Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons

22. Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe

23. Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry

24. Ravens offensive tackle Rick Wagner

25. Cowboys guard Ronald Leary

26. Lions guard Larry Warford

27. Patriots safety Duron Harmon

28. Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan

29. Washington defensive end Chris Baker

30. Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett

31. Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara

32. Lions offensive tackle Riley Reiff

33. Packers safety Micah Hyde

34. Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills

35. Patriots outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard

36. Packers offensive lineman J.C. Tretter

37. Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon

38. Cardinals safety D.J. Swearinger

39. Cowboys safety Barry Church

40. Broncos offensive tackle Russell Okung

41. Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne

42. Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick

43. Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter

44. Texans outside linebacker John Simon

45. Eagles defensive tackle Bennie Logan

46. Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley

47. Bills linebacker Zach Brown

48. Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins

49. Washington wide receiver Pierre Garcon

50. Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso (restricted)

51. Jets offensive tackle Ryan Clady

52. Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware

53. Jaguars safety Jonathan Cyprien

54. Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer

55. Bills outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander

56. Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn

57. Raiders running back Latavius Murray

58. Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson

59. 49ers linebacker Gerald Hodges

60. Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch

61. Jaguars offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum

62. Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (restricted)

63. Packers running back Eddie Lacy

64. Rams safety T.J. McDonald

65. Colts tight end Jack Doyle

66. Eagles offensive lineman Stefen Wisnieswki

67. Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison

68. Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk

69. Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones

70. Packers tight end Jared Cook

71. Buccaneers safety Bradley McDougald

72. Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (restricted)

73. Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt

74. Ex-Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner

75. Rams defensive tackle Dominique Easley (restricted)

76. Cowboys defensive end Jack Crawford

77. Titans tight end Anthony Fasano

78. Washington center John Sullivan

79. Colts outside linebacker Erik Walden

80. Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson

81. Dolphins tight end Dion Sims

82. Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers

83. Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox

84. Texans tight end Ryan Griffin

85. Seahawks linebacker Michael Morgan

86. Ex-Jets center Nick Mangold

87. Vikings offensive tackle Andre Smith

88. Browns offensive lineman Austin Pasztor

89. Ravens defensive end Lawrence Guy

90. Raiders outside linebacker Perry Riley

91. Ex-Jaguars defensive tackle Jared Odrick

92. Chargers safety Jahleel Addae

93. Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr

94. Buccaneers center Joe Hawley

95. Packers outside linebacker Datone Jones

96. Seahawks tight end Luke Willson

97. Packers outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott (restricted)

98. Ravens running back Terrance West (restricted)

99. Colts safety Mike Adams

100. Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken

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Marc Trestman heads back to the CFL

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

Marc Trestman is going back to Canada.

Trestman, the former Bears head coach who most recently was offensive coordinator of the Ravens, is slated to become the next head coach of the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts. Gary Lawless of TSN reports that the Argonauts have agreed to hire Trestman as coach and Jim Popp as G.M. and both deals are expected to be announced tomorrow.

Before the Bears hired him, Trestman spent five seasons as head coach of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. He had a winning record in all five of his seasons in Montreal and won the Grey Cup twice. Trestman’s success in Canada, however didn’t translate to success in the NFL, as he lasted just two seasons in Chicago and was fired during his second season in Baltimore.

Former Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich resigned last month to become quarterbacks coach of the Jaguars.

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Packers wrap up coaching staff for 2017

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers calls a play in the first half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

We’re a little more than a week away from the start of free agency and the combine will take place this week.

The Packers have taken care of a little other business before those two milestones came up on the calendar. The team announced three additions to head coach Mike McCarthy’s staff on Monday and added that those moves leave them with their full staff in place for next season.

Jeff Blasko will be the team’s assistant offensive line coach after spending last year as a coaching administrator. Tim McGarigle left his post as the linebackers coach at the University of Illinois to take a job as defensive quality control coach and David Raih has been named the offensive perimeter coach after spending last year as the assistant offensive line coach.

The Packers parted ways with associate head coach/offense Tom Clements, but otherwise have all their key assistants returning for the 2017 season.

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Report: “Significant progress” on new Antonio Brown contract

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 28:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stiff arms Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter at Heinz Field on December 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Antonio Brown may have had some uncomfortable moments with the Steelers during and immediately after their postseason stay, but that didn’t stop the team from making a new deal for their top wideout a top offseason priority.

Talks got going earlier this month and it sounds like things are moving along at a good clip. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the two sides have made “significant progress” toward a deal that promises to be a very lucrative one for the wideout.

Rapoport adds that the goal is to have the deal wrapped up by the start of the new league year on March 9. There’s no fear of losing Brown as a free agent as he has another year left on his deal, but locking him in would allow the Steelers to take care of the rest of their business with certainty about where things stand for Brown.

That’s not the only date looming large for the Steelers right now. Wednesday’s deadline to use franchise or transition tags is also one they’re up against when it comes to their plans for running back Le’Veon Bell.

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Cardinals franchise Chandler Jones

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers is chased by outside linebacker Chandler Jones #55 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter of the NFL football game at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals aren’t letting Chandler Jones get away after only one year.

As expected, the Cardinals have placed the franchise tag on Jones, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reports.

Jones, the defensive end who arrived last year in a trade with the Patriots, is now guaranteed $15 million for the 2017 season if he wants to sign the one-year franchise tender. He can also negotiate a long-term deal with the Cardinals. To leave, he’d have to find a team willing not only to sign him to a long-term contract but also a team willing to give the Cardinals two first-round draft picks. that’s not going to happen.

The Cardinals had already announced that they would franchise Jones, a move that has been anticipated since they traded for him last year, as the trade wouldn’t have made any sense if the Cardinals weren’t committed to Jones for the long run. Now the move is official, and Jones is the first 2017 free agent to get the franchise tag.

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Report: Jets expected to try to trade Sheldon Richardson

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 14:  Defensive end Sheldon Richardson #91 of the New York Jets on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 14, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Jets 31-24.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets have spent plenty of draft and actual currency on defensive linemen lately, and they may be ready to divest.

According to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, the Jets may be looking to trade Sheldon Richardson to clear up some of the financial and positional logjam.

With Muhammad Wilkerson early in his big deal, and Richardson working the fifth-year option of his rookie deal, and 2015 first-rounder Leonard Williams still cost-effective, the Jets have nearly 20 percent of their salary cap tied up in three linemen in a 3-4 front.

Richardson has also created some off-field distractions during his time with the Jets, which might make it easier for them to make a move.

So clearing out Richardson’s 8.1 million might be the solution, since it’s unlikely they’d commit to him long-term after this season, and would risk losing him for just a 2019 compensatory pick. While they’d certainly like a first-rounder (and some ice cream, I guess), they might take less before his salary is guaranteed on March 9.

He gets it too, admitting during last season he’s the “odd man out,” as it pertains to the future.

With Wilkerson and Williams and a cast of serviceable guys in the middle, it might make the most sense to move him now.

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