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Goodell wants Tebow in the NFL

Tebow Getty Images

It’s been at least a day, maybe longer, since the T-word has appeared in this space.

For those of you with zero interest in Tim Tebow, scroll on by.  For those who continue to be intrigued by the future of a man who led the Broncos in 2011 to the final eight of the NFL’s annual postseason tournament but now can’t find a job in football, read on.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would be among those reading on, based on his comments to Steve Wyche of NFL Network regarding whether it’s good to have Tebow in the league.

Well, he’s a great young man,” Goodell said of Tebow.  “And I try to stay out of the decisions about who should be playing in the NFL and on what team.  But as a young man, he’s just a super young guy, and I sure hope he’s part of the NFL going forward.  He’s just a terrific young man and represents all of the values that I think all of our players do.  I’m very proud of our players.  I think, as a group, they’re extraordinary young men, and I love to see the things they’re doing in the community.  They’re obviously great athletes on the field, but these are great young men, and Tim’s a good example of that.”

While Goodell has no ability to compel teams to sign certain players, he surely can make recommendations or pose innocuous questions that reveal his preferences.

He doesn’t have to do that.  Via his comments to the league-owned media conglomerate, the 32 teams know where the boss stands:  Tebow is good for the broader business interests of the league.

So is there’s anyone looking to score points with the Commish (or, in the case of the Saints, to continue to work their way out of the doghouse), giving Tebow a chance could help in that regard.

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Oregon coach declares “Chip Kelly is not insane”

Homer

Good news, Eagles fans.  The man who succeeded Philly coach Chip Kelly at Oregon has proclaimed that Kelly possesses all necessary mental faculties.

When news of Kelly signing Tim Tebow made it to Eugene on Monday, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich was asked about the situation.

“I think it’s unfortunate I’ve had to answer this question more than once:  Chip Kelly is not insane,” Helfrich said, via CSNPhilly.com.  “He’s got a plan.  He’s got a method.”

At times, it seems that plan is there is no plan.  But even that is a plan, technically.

As to Tebow, it’s unclear what the plan really is.  Some think he’ll be the specialty quarterback if/when the two-point conversion attempt moves to the one.  Which frankly makes no sense; teams routinely face short-yardage situations, and they typically don’t remove their starting quarterback for those plays.

Regardless, Kelly knows what he’s doing.  Even if no one else does.

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Dorial Green-Beckham visiting the Chiefs today

green-beckham AP

While many pre-draft visits are for the sake of smokescreen, or to firm up medical information, many of them are for teams to look a player in the eye.

Likely along those lines, the Chiefs are bringing in one of the most talented players in the 2015 NFL Draft today, who comes with considerable baggage.

Via Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Chiefs are hosting former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham today.

Green-Beckham has also visited the Bengals and 49ers, and the Vikings and Ravens have also met with him. Plenty of other teams probably have as well, to see if they are willing to gamble on a player with explosive ability and a checkered past.

Green-Beckham was kicked off the team at Missouri after a pair of drug arrests, and a domestic violence accusation (though no charges were filed). He transferred to Oklahoma, but never played a down there.

If you trust him, he’s the kind of game-breaking talent which any team can use, and getting him with the 18th pick might be a steal. Weighing whether they can take such a chance is the kind of thing most evaluators can’t decide before meeting someone face-to-face, which the Chiefs will do today.

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Nate Solder played last year after testicular cancer diagnosis

Nate Solder AP

The Patriots have made keeping injuries secret a point of institutional pride.

But Nate Solder’s willing to talk now about a problem he dealt with last season that could have been much bigger than fudging an injury report submitted to the league.

Via Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, Solder was diagnosed with testicular cancer a year ago, was treated, and went on to play a key role for the Super Bowl champions.

He was initially diagnosed after his standard physical at the beginning of offseason conditioning work. He mentioned feeling some pain, Patriots doctors ordered up an ultrasound, and three days later, he had surgery to remove the testicle. He only missed a few days of OTAs while recovering, and started every game last year, so there was no suggestion that anything was wrong with him at all.

I knew nothing about it. It was a complete surprise,” Solder said. “You Google something like that and it kind of scares you, so I was like, ‘I’m not going to freak out about this.’ Had I not had a routine physical, I probably wouldn’t have checked it, saying, ‘Oh, it’s just in my head, I’m going to be fine.'”

April is National Testicular Cancer Awareness month, so the 27-year-old Solder was moved to reveal the disease now for the sake of awareness. According to the American Cancer Society, almost half of all cases of testicular cancer are in men between the ages of 20 and 34.

He had a quick and uncomplicated recovery, so he was hesitant to be portrayed as overcoming cancer and going on to be a football hero, knowing his story’s not always typical.

“I was completely healthy, I’m a professional athlete. It can happen to anybody,” he said. “Make sure you get yourself checked out, especially young men, because that’s who it’s really targeted toward. . . .

“The biggest thing is letting people know and giving them the information. And maybe giving people some courage that if they are in a situation like I was, maybe they would go and say something, and that could make a difference. It’s more common than people realize. A lot of people are either afraid to do it, or they don’t think it’s important enough to get it checked. It’s a simple check. Six months, a year, and then it starts spreading and then you start to feel symptoms and it’s a more serious situation. So that’s a big thing; you can save lives with early detection.”

If his story gets one person to get a check-up, then telling it was worthwhile.

 

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No Michael Bennett at Seahawks workouts

New Orleans Saints v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Earlier this month, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett denied reports that he requested a trade away from Seattle this offseason because he was unhappy about the contract he signed before last season.

Bennett didn’t go on to throw cold water on the idea that he’s feeling less than thrilled about his contract, however.

“I can’t really say that. But I mean I don’t know anybody that is happy with the amount of money that they’re making. But at this point, I’m just trying to be a good Seahawk,” Bennett said on KIRO.

Should Bennett sit for another interview, his feelings about his contract are likely to be revisited after he didn’t show up for the first day of the team’s voluntary offseason work on Monday. Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reports that the desire to renegotiate his deal was behind the absence.

Seahawks General Manager John Schneider has espoused a policy of not extending deals with more than a year left and Bennett’s heading into the second year of the four-year pact he signed in 2014. The team did move some money around to placate running back Marshawn Lynch and bring his holdout to an end last year, however, and Bennett may be angling for the same consideration this time around.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Wild Card Playoffs - Arizona Cardinals v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

So far, so good for Rex Ryan and Bills fans.

Minnesota S Curtis Thompson is slated for a visit with the Dolphins.

A look ahead to the Patriots’ road schedule.

This just in: The Jets need a quarterback.

WR Kamar Aiken is optimistic about his chances of landing playing time with the Ravens.

The Bengals have several players heading into their contract years.

Will S Tashaun Gipson join the Browns for workouts if Friday’s deadline passes without an offer from another team?

The Steelers continued meeting with cornerback prospects on Monday.

Texans T Duane Brown plans to step into a bigger leadership role.

Said Colts WR T.Y. Hilton of Reggie Wayne’s absence, “It’s very different. It still hurts me right now. I was still waiting for him to just walk in the meeting room. It’s different. It’s going to take me some time to get used to it, but I don’t think I will.”

What will the Jaguars do at running back in the draft?

The Titans struck a one-year deal with LB Kaelin Burnett, who played five games for them last season.

Broncos RB C.J. Anderson is trying to avoid a step back after last year’s rapid rise.

DE Mike DeVito and LB Derrick Johnson were back at work as the Chiefs opened workouts.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio is ready to get to work on the field during the team’s voluntary minicamp.

Assessing the Chargers’ draft needs on the defensive line.

Jimmy Johnson once went from the Miami Hurricanes to the Dallas Cowboys and RB Duke Johnson wouldn’t mind making the same move.

Giants RB Shane Vereen will join his former Patriots teammates at the White House.

Criticism of the criticism that followed the Eagles’ decision to sign QB Tim Tebow.

The Redskins were happy with the attendance for Monday’s start of offseason workouts.

Doug Buffone’s teammates with the Bears remembered him fondly after his death on Monday.

Lions TE Joseph Fauria avoided surgery on his ankle.

Mike Daniels is happy to continue the Packers defensive line with B.J. Raji and Letroy Guion.

A list of the draft prospects the Vikings have spoken with this offseason.

The Falcons made stops at Missouri, UCLA and Washington as they continued pre-draft evaluations last week.

Panthers LB Luke Kuechly isn’t focused on contract issues at the moment.

Eliminating bad football tops the list of Saints goals for the 2015 season.

LB Bruce Carter is excited about getting to work with the Buccaneers.

CB Patrick Peterson was one of the Cardinals players reacting to S Adrian Wilson’s retirement on Monday.

Said Rams TE Jared Cook of the first day of offseason workouts, “You come in with a fresh new outfit, fresh new shoes, a new backpack. You got a Spiderman lunchbox. You’re showing off your new stuff. No, it’s just guys being acclimated again.”

49ers newcomer Jarryd Hayne explains why he settled on No. 38.

Seahawks General Manager John Schneider and his family are hosting a fourth annual fundraiser to help children with autism.

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Michael Oher seems to prefer Carolina to Tennessee

Michael Oher AP

The Titans didn’t like what they saw from Michael Oher, cutting him one year into a four-year contract.

But from Oher’s perspective, that’s fine, since he didn’t seem crazy about what he saw there either.

The now-Panthers tackle tried to be nice about it, but it was obvious he wasn’t a fan of his time in Tennessee.

I like things to be run the right way,” Oher said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “Doing things right. Just being on top of things. I’m just glad I’m in a good organization with guys that do it the right way.

“I’m trying to put that behind me and move forward.”

He also talked about the feeling of being wanted by the Panthers, with former left tackle Jordan Gross among the people who reached out to him this offseason.

“I talked to so many guys that were here before I even signed, so that was another exciting thing for me,” he said. “I knew they wanted me here. I felt like I was coming out of college, . . . It means a lot just to know they really wanted me here in Charlotte.”

Whatever his problems with the Titans organization, he said he’s at least better able to compete for a job this year after dealing with toe problems which limited him to 11 games, and helped make him ineffective in the ones he played.

“During the game in my stance, I’d be thinking about that rather than thinking about the guy that I’m going against,” he said. “Last season it just flared up worse than it ever has, and I just needed to have it worked on. I got it done, and I feel a sense of relief already. It’s definitely improving. . . .

“I’m still chasing greatness and want to be great. I still have time, (and) I feel like I have the ability, the attitude and just want to be great and not let these guys down.”

The Panthers would love to get greatness out of him, as stability at the left tackle position would be something they haven’t had since Gross retired. But Oher even being acceptable would be an upgrade for them, as the try to rebuild a line that can protect a quarterback they’re trying to invest in.

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Lions offensive line looking to “whoop somebody’s ass” in 2015

Warford Getty Images

The Detroit Lions enter the offseason program with multiple spots on the starting offensive line unknown.  Their mission isn’t.

We have to be more aggressive,” guard Larry Warford said Monday, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.  “We can’t be as technical as we [tried to be last year].  The biggest thing is we tried to break everything down, we tried to focus on a bunch of stuff at once, down to the smallest detail.  With offensive line play, that’s cool but at the end of the day you have to whoop somebody’s ass and we weren’t necessarily being the players that we were trained to be from the start.”

Warford added that the offensive line was “somewhat robotic” in 2014.  Two of the five starters from that “somewhat robotic” line, Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims, won’t be around in 2015.  But it sounds as if Raiola and Sims weren’t the “somewhat robotic” ones.

“It sucks that they’re gone. They’re huge, huge, huge personalities in the room,” Warford said. “That’s 14 years with Dom and what is it like [nine] for Sims? It sucks that they’re gone ’cause they come from a different era in football and that era was, mentally they were stupid tough. It sucks that we don’t have that type of leadership with us, but the biggest thing is carrying on what they taught us and the mentality that they brought in, take it upon ourselves to instill that mentality in the room.”

So how will they do that?

“[Offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn], first thing he said was, ‘We’re coming off the ball,'” Warford explained regarding the opening meeting of the year with his position coach.  “‘We’re running off the ball.’  There’s nothing else to that.  We’re going to set the pocket and run off the ball.  He said that today.  That’s what it has to be.  We’re not going to focus every little step.  You have to work that framework into what you can do personally.  Everybody has as different skill set and they have to make it work for them.  That’s the biggest thing.  It’s not going to be too chaotic or whatever, but we’re going to play.”

Travis Swanson takes over for Raiola at center and Warford plays right guard.  The other 60 percent of the starting offensive line spots are up in the air.  The guys most likely to win those jobs could be the guys who demonstrate the greatest ability to whoop some ass.

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Brian Orakpo looking forward to playing for Dick LeBeau

Washington Redskins v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

Linebacker Brian Orakpo had his first day of work for a team other than the Redskins on Monday, although not everything about life with the Titans will prove to be a new experience.

One of the biggest parts of any transition to a new team is learning their scheme, but Orakpo said he’s got a head start on that front because of how much time he spent studying Dick LeBeau’s defenses while playing for coaches who learned at LeBeau’s knee while working in Washington’s 3-4 scheme. LeBeau made the move from Pittsburgh to Tennessee this offseason and Orakpo said that helped lead him to Nashville as well.

“When I knew [LeBeau] was on board, it made the transition a lot easier because I knew what he was all about,” Orakpo said, via the Tennessean. “When I was in Washington, all I did was study Pittsburgh’s stuff and what [LeBeau] brought to the table and how they ran their defense. I knew what James Harrison would do before James Harrison knew what he was going to do. That’s how much I studied it. Earlier this day when we were going over defenses, I knew it like the back of my hand. Obviously the terminology is a little different. But it’s very, very similar as far as the way the 3-4 should be run.”

Orakpo’s familiarity with the defense won’t matter much if he’s not healthy enough to stay on the field this season, something that torn pectoral muscles have kept him from doing in two of the last three seasons. Orakpo said he’s altered his workouts to increase flexibility and mobility in his upper body in hopes of avoiding an injury that keeps him from making the most of life under LeBeau.

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Willie Colon backs up claim Jets had lateness “issue”

New York Jets v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

It seems easy for Rex Ryan to take shots at former Jets tight end Jace Amaro for his raising of accountability questions.

The Bills coach has painted Amaro as young and perhaps immature, but now a veteran teammate has chimed in, saying there were issues last year.

Via the Seth Walder of the New York Daily News, guard Willie Colon acknowledged that lateness was an “issue” for the team.

“It’s the little things like that, the little things you just don’t talk about,” Colon told Alex Marvez and Ross Tucker on SiriusXM NFL Radio, in an interview on April 10. “You be on time; you be accountable for your actions. . . .

“It’s one of those things where as a pro ballplayer it’s not hard to be there on time.”

Ryan has taken numerous shots at Amaro since the original remarks, far more attention than Amaro has gotten for much of anything else. But having a longtime pro like Colon backing his story helps establish some credibility, especially after Geno Smith missed a meeting the night before a game and still played, while Calvin Pryor missed a meeting and was benched for a week.

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A.J. Green on extension: I’m not hurting for money

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

One of the AFC North’s top wideouts was a no-show at the start of offseason workouts on Monday because Antonio Brown wants a new deal from the Steelers three years after signing an extension.

Things are playing out differently elsewhere in the division. Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has never signed an extension since being drafted and is in the fifth and final year of his rookie deal, but he reported for voluntary work on Monday. Green, who will play for just over $10 million this year, said his agent has spoken to the Bengals about a new contract and that he’ll let negotiations work themselves out while he’s working out with the team.

“I handle the part of playing. I’m not hurting for money,” Green said, via the team’s website. “I got my option. That’s enough for now. I’m just focused on football. Next year will take care of itself.”

With Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas both looking for long-term deals while under the franchise tag this offseason, the top of the market for wideouts could look quite different in a couple of months. That could help Green and the Bengals find common ground, although a tag next year will also remain a possibility.

Either way, Green, who said he feels 100 percent after a variety of injuries slowed him last year, is in line to make a lot of money in 2016 as long as his fifth year resembles the first four.

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Rams talking to Cowboys about a joint practice in Oxnard

Jerry Jones AP

The Rams may end up in Southern California sooner than expected.

For practice, anyway.

Via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, the Rams are discussing a joint practice session with the Cowboys this summer in Oxnard, Calif.

Of course, that’s about 65 yards from Los Angeles, where the Rams could be doing more than practicing soon, if owner Stan Kroenke gets his way.

In the practice scenario, logistics make it possible, as the Rams play the Raiders in the preseason opener, so will be on the West Coast already, allowing a few days to work with the Cowboys.

The Cowboys have lined up such workouts with the Chargers and Raiders in recent years, so it’s nothing new for them. For the Rams, it might be a sneak preview of a coming attraction.

The Rams have also talked to the Colts about a joint session back in the Midwest. Maybe if that happens, Kroenke can get some moving van advice from Colts owner Jim Irsay.

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ESPN says Tebow will be welcome back after playing career ends

Tim Tebow AP

Tim Tebow raised some eyebrows at ESPN by leaving his job as a commentator and signing with the Eagles — and not telling anyone until after a competitor had broken the news.

But ESPN has released a statement saying there are only warm feelings toward Tebow, and he will be welcome to resume his broadcasting career after his football career is over.

“We appreciate Tim’s contributions to the launch of SEC Network and wish him all the best as he pursues his NFL dream. Tim quickly established a tremendous rapport with everyone he worked with in front of and behind the camera. He has a tireless work ethic and a unique passion for football. Tim developed quickly into an excellent analyst. He has a home at ESPN when his playing career is done,” ESPN said in a statement from V.P. of Programming and Production John Wildhack.

It’s easy to see why ESPN would want to maintain a good relationship with Tebow, who still has a large fan base and can draw viewers with his presence. If you don’t see him in an Eagles uniform this season, you’ll see him in an ESPN studio.

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Bucs are keeping door open for a trade down

Winston Getty Images

The Buccaneers opened their offseason program on Monday.  General Manager Jason Licht met with the media in conjunction with the launch of the offseason program.  And he understandably was asked plenty of questions about the team’s plans for the first overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Licht’s comments continue to point to Jameis Winston being the first overall pick.

“Going back all the way to [the Scouting Combine], we said we had a leader in the clubhouse, we still do,” Licht said, via a transcript prepared by the team.   “If we had to pick today, we would feel very comfortable making the pick.  With that said, we’ll wait.  We’ll use the majority of our allotted time.  There is always something that could pop up that you wish you would’ve waited, talking about a scenario where somebody offers you something you can’t refuse.  We’ll use the allotted time, but everyone in the organization feels very comfortable right now with where we are at.”

What would it take to get the top pick?

“It’s fair to assume someone is going to have to make a really good offer, yeah,” Licht said. “And this time of year you get a lot of calls every day.  Not making offers, but just throwing, gauging your interest of if you would be open to it or not.  And that will continue.  But it would have to be an offer that makes this franchise, that sets this franchise even further ahead than what you thought you were going to with the decision you made.”

So the Buccaneers are keeping the door open for a possible trade down, and if no one makes them an offer they can’t refuse, they’ll take the guy they’ve been planning to take all along.  And the widespread belief continues to be that Winston will be the pick.

Not surprisingly, Licht also was asked about the research the team has done regarding Winston’s off-field issued, specifically relating to the sexual-assault lawsuit filed against him last week by Erica Kinsman.

“It didn’t surprise us,” Licht said regarding the civil complaint.  “The information that came out with it was not a surprise to us.  We’re very confident in the amount of work we have done.  Maybe 25 years from now I’ll write a book, but we feel very confident in the amount of work we’ve done internally.  We have had work done externally, third parties, on and on and on.  So there have been no surprises.”

Licht sidestepped the question of whether he has spoken to prosecutors or to Kinsman’s lawyers.

“Well, I’ll answer that this way:  We’ve talked to a lot of people,” Licht said. “‘A lot’ is probably not a big enough word.  But, we’re not going to publicly talk about who we talked to.  That’s just what we decided internally.  We are not going to talk about the process.  All I’ll tell you is that the Glazer family, the head coach, the General Manager, our staffs, we all couldn’t feel more confident about the process we have gone through so far.”

There’s no reason to think the Buccaneers haven’t done everything they need to do, given the stakes of the decision they’ll be making.  It’s the fifth time in franchise history that they’ve been in this spot, and the goal will be to get another Lee Roy Selmon, who made it to the Hall of Fame — and not another Bo Jackson, who never played for the team.

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Mychal Kendricks absent from start of Eagles offseason program

Mychal Kendricks Getty Images

Offensive lineman Evan Mathis wasn’t the only player absent from the start of the Philadelphia Eagles offseason program on Monday.

According to CSNPhilly.com, linebacker Mychal Kendricks was also a no-show at the Eagles facility.

Per Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News, Kendricks had a scheduled trip planned and will join the offseason program soon. Kendricks’ instagram account appears to show him on vacation in Costa Rica.

The offseason workouts are voluntary and there is no penalty for missing the start of conditioning season.

With the addition of Kiko Alonso this offseason, just how the Eagles will work their linebackers onto the field remains to be seen. Alonso, Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans all are capable inside linebackers. Kendricks appeared in 12 games with 11 starts last year for Philadelphia. He recorded 83 tackles with four sacks and three forced fumbles.

 

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Tomlinson thinks Rivers wants out of San Diego

Rivers Getty Images

The star running back who once had to leave San Diego believes the star quarterback that used to be his teammate wants to move on, too.

Via Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego, former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson said on NFL Network that he thinks current Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers won’t be back with the team in 2015.

I personally don’t think so,” Tomlinson said.  “I really think this is a situation where Philip Rivers wants to move on.  The reason why I think that and the reason why I feel like that is the Chargers have already approached Philip about doing another contract and he declined it.  He doesn’t want anything to do with it; he didn’t even want to talk about another contract with the San Diego Chargers.  That tells me that he’s thinking about moving on.”

Tomlinson didn’t say that Rivers actually told Tomlinson that; instead, Tomlinson surmises Rivers is thinking about moving on because he rebuffed the team’s desire to extend his deal.

So should the Chargers trade Rivers, if he doesn’t want to be there?

“You never want to trade your franchise quarterback,” Tomlinson said, “that’s never the case.  However, in this situation they might have no choice but to do so because I don’t know if Philip [Rivers] wants to be there anymore.  I think he’s lost confidence in the organization.   He’s seeing a lot of changes going on and the L.A. thing is valid; him not wanting to go to L.A., that is very valid, I can see that.  So no, it doesn’t make sense to move on from Philip because he’s a franchise quarterback and he still has three to four very good years left.”

Why he has lost confidence in the team?

“The receiving corps keeps on changing; Eddie Royal is now gone,” Tomlinson said.  “We talked about this before with Vincent Jackson leaving years ago.  There are so many parts that are leaving where Philip is looking around that locker room and he doesn’t see anyone he’s familiar with other than Antonio Gates.  Now to that point, Antonio Gates next year is a free agent.  Eric Weddle is going to be up.  Next year the Chargers have a lot of decisions to make with a lot of key guys, so Philip could be looking at the situation and thinking we’re not close to winning a championship anytime soon.”

Rivers hasn’t addressed his situation since going on the record about his reluctance to extend a contract that runs through the coming season, comments which coincidentally emerged only four days after the Steelers gave quarterback Roethlisberger a gigantic new deal.

As Krasovic notes, Rivers and coach Mike McCoy were shielded from the media on Monday, the first day of offseason workouts.  At some point Rivers needs to say whether he wants to stay or whether he wants to go.  Unless and until he does, the perception will linger that he wants to move on.

Tennessee continues to be the most likely destination, primarily because only the Titans are in position to give the Chargers a potential franchise quarterback to replace Rivers, via the second overall pick in the draft.  If it’s going to happen, it’ll happen in less than 10 days or not at all.

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