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Sanchez says nothing changed for him with Garrard leaving

Mark Sanchez AP

David Garrard’s decision to throw in the towel on his bid to make the Jets because of a knee injury is the latest curveball in a quarterback competition that’s had plenty of them with months to go before the Jets ever play a game.

With Garrard out, it would seem that Mark Sanchez’s chances of sticking with the team into the 2013 season would improve since the team’s other quarterbacks all have little to no experience at the professional level. Sanchez addressed his role in what he called a “fierce” competition on Thursday — yes, he was wearing a headband at the time — and said it doesn’t feel any different to him than it did before Garrard’s announcement.

“Nothing’s changed. My mindset is the same,” Sanchez said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

While his chances of making the team might have improved, Sanchez’s answer makes plenty of sense. He was competing for the starting job against Garrard and company before, so Garrard’s departure just means that it is a slightly different cast of competitors as opposed to a completely different situation. Geno Smith, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms are still in camp and Sanchez still has to beat them out to get the nod for a fifth straight season.

Sanchez was also asked about Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith’s comment that he wouldn’t catch “a paper bag sandwich” thrown by Sanchez. Sanchez wished Smith and the Panthers well, which should pretty much end that storyline while the quarterback competition rages on.

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Arthur Blank expects Falcons to be a playoff team this year

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 03:  Team owner Arthur Blank walks on the field prior to the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome on January 3, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons squandered a 6-1 start last season, and not even being the only team to beat the Panthers in the regular season was enough to keep an 8-8 season from being disappointing.

But owner Arthur Blank definitely sees improvement, and expects it from his team this year.

“Yes, I do — because of the added talent and knowing the existing roster’s players, and them knowing the schemes better,” Blank said when asked if he thought they were a playoff team, via Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think that will be evidenced on both sides of the ball. So my view is, yes – we will have a better team next year and we definitely should have a competitive team in the playoffs.”

Blank stopped short of suggesting that the season would be a mandate on the futures of General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn, however.

“I wouldn’t use that word,” he said. “I’m optimistic and hopeful that would be the case, but I wouldn’t say there’s a mandate. The flip side of that answer has connotations to it that I’m not comfortable with.

“We expect to see progression in every way. We expect progression from our coaches and our players, and as a result of progression we expect to see a better result. I feel like the roster is better. I feel like the players on both sides of the ball understand more specifically what coach Quinn wants and they’ll have a better understanding of the concepts and the execution.”

Of course, the Falcons have gone three straight years without a playoff appearance, so there’s pressure there whether the owner acknowledges it or not. But after another aggressive offseason, the Falcons have given themselves a chance to compete, if not catch the Panthers for more than one game.

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Broncos add 21 undrafted free agents

MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 17:  Mose Frazier #5 of the Memphis Tigers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Ole Miss Rebels at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Memphis, Tennessee.  The Tigers defeated the Rebels 37-24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos released a pair of players on Monday, but their roster spots weren’t vacant for long.

The Broncos announced the signing of 21 undrafted rookie free agents who will begin vying for spots on the team’s 53-man roster or 10-man practice squad at the team’s rookie minicamp.

Memphis wide receiver Mose Frazier is part of the group and he should be able to get a few looks from quarterback Paxton Lynch during those workouts after catching passes from Lynch in their college days.

Louisiana Tech defensive end Vontarrius Dora, Georgia Southern safety Antonio Glover, Sacramento State tackle Lars Hanson, Miami defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou, Shepherd defensive end Shaneil Jenkins, Iowa tight end Henry Krieger Coble, Utah State defensive lineman David Moala, Oklahoma wide receiver Durron Neal, Eastern Washington guard Aaron Neary, Duke linebacker Dwayne Norman, Southern Utah tight end Anthony Norris, Oregon State nose tackle Kyle Peko, Holy Cross wide receiver Kalif Raymond, Oklahoma linebacker Frank Shannon, Portland State linebacker Sadat Sulleyan, Georgia long snapper Nathan Theus, Sioux Falls cornerback John Tidwell, Wyoming defensive end Eddie Yarbrough, Oregon wide receiver Bralon Addison and Cincinnati tackle Justin Murray are the other new faces on the Broncos.

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Trent Dilfer has “no intention” to join 49ers

77584347-trent-dilfer-meets-with-frank-cignetti-of-the-gettyimages Getty Images

Trent Dilfer is likely to leave ESPN. If/when he does, he won’t be heading to the 49ers.

More accurately, he has no current plan to join the 49ers.

I have no intention of joining the 49ers,” Dilfer told Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News. “I have never been talking with the 49ers about this and I’m focused on continuing my broadcasting opportunities.”

The phrase “no intention” often provides cover for a change of intentions later. And with Dilfer counting 49ers G.M. Trent Baalke as one of Dilfer’s closest friends, whenever Dilfer changes his intentions, the door could swing open.

For now, Dilfer remains employed by ESPN. By saying that he is “focused on continuing my broadcasting opportunities,” Dilfer has essentially confirmed that his eight-year run in Bristol will indeed be ending.

And if those other “broadcasting opportunities” don’t materialize, Dilfer’s intentions could quickly change.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 31:  William Jackson III #3 of the Houston Cougars returns an interception for a 55 yard touchdown against the Vanderbilt Commodores at TDECU Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Shaquille O’Neal has followed the career of Bills rookie DE Shaq Lawson and other athletes who share his first name.

LB Kiko Alonso has gotten off to a good start with the Dolphins.

Charlie Weis is a big fan of Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett.

CB Dee Milliner’s injury history is why the Jets declined his 2017 option.

The fourth round of the draft had Ravens coach John Harbaugh thinking about Star Trek.

Bengals CB William Jackson’s new teammates took him out for dinner after he was drafted in the first round.

The Browns appear to be going with the status quo at running back.

The Steelers have moved into the second phase of their offseason workouts.

Texans rookie WR Will Fuller first met coach Bill O’Brien at a football camp in Pennsylvania several years ago.

Running through the draft additions on offense for the Colts.

The draft has raised the expectations for the Jaguars.

A look at the impact the Titans draft will have on five positions.

They’re getting ready for a quarterback competition with the Broncos.

Sifting through the backup quarterback options for the Chiefs.

Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie said second-round DL Jihad Ward is raw, but the team expects him to play as a rookie.

Corey Liuget is looking forward to sharing the Chargers defensive line with Joey Bosa.

QB Dak Prescott is excited to be a member of the Cowboys.

A negative take on the possibility of S Antrel Rolle returning to the Giants.

The Eagles parted ways with S Jerome Couplin and WR Freddie Martino.

The Redskins aren’t sure when CB Kendall Fuller will be ready to get back on the field.

What roster battles will highlight the Bears offseason?

The Lions are getting bigger under General Manager Bob Quinn.

Pac-12 players were on the Packers’ draft radar this year.

Said Vikings WR Moritz Boehringer, “My ultimate goal is to be the Dirk Nowitzki of the NFL, but it’s a process. I’ve got to make the team.”

Rookie Deion Jones is headed to middle linebacker for the Falcons.

The Panthers signed an intriguing undrafted rookie in LB Jeremy Cash.

Rookie DT Sheldon Rankins will wear No. 99 with the Saints.

Drafting DE Noah Spence opens up different possibilities for the Buccaneers defensive line.

One Cardinals fan found out the team’s first round pick before it went public.

An assault arrest wasn’t enough to sour the Rams on TE Tyler Higbee.

The Seahawks plan to start Germain Ifedi out as a guard.

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Telvin Smith wants Jaguars to refuse to be losers

at EverBank Field on November 29, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. Getty Images

The Jaguars emerged from the draft with positive reviews about the work they did to continue strengthening their defense after focusing on the unit during free agency as well.

Those moves have generated some hope that this might be the year that the Jaguars find their way back to a winning record for the first time since 2007. Linebacker Telvin Smith thinks that kind of change of fortune requires more than just a few new players on defense.

Smith called a meeting with his teammates after one of their recent offseason workouts to discuss refusing “to settle for what’s been happening” in Jacksonville in recent years.

“I’ve always said I’m not a loser and I refuse to be a loser,” Smith said, via ESPN.com. “So you cannot do this on your own and you have to make sure everybody’s on the same mindset. And that’s the biggest thing, making sure everybody’s on the same mindset. … Let everybody voice their opinion and know that I want the same thing that you want so that when I say something it’s out of love. But words are only something. Actions are the biggest thing and that’s what we want to get from that meeting. Keep building from the meeting: actions.”

Actions, it’s said, speak louder than words and the Jaguars could say a lot by getting wins to open the season. They are 1-10 in September and 2-10 in October over the last three years, digging holes that reinforce the idea that the team can’t win just as the season is getting underway. Avoiding that would be a sign that the same old Jaguars won’t be on the field in 2016.

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Report: Peyton Manning told TV networks he’s not interested

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 03:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos stands at midfield after a game against the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Denver Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers 27-20.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Despite reports that Peyton Manning would go from the field to the broadcast booth, he has reportedly said “no thanks” to offers to work in television.

The New York Daily News reports that Manning’s representatives have told the NFL’s TV partners that he will not take a broadcasting job this season.

There’s been much speculation that Manning would look for a job in television, and he reportedly talked to John Madden about getting started in the business. CBS was thought to be particularly interested, perhaps interested enough to put Manning in the booth with Jim Nantz as the network’s top broadcasting team.

Others have speculated that Manning’s competitive juices would make him more suited to working for an NFL team, perhaps in a front office role. At the moment, Manning is simply retired.

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Jerry Jones hoping Johnny Manziel can get back on track

Jerry Jones AP

At least now that Denver quarterback Paxton Lynch is the one that got away, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has a new story to tell.

But the way he’s lamented not getting his latest quarterback crush does harken back to his infatuation with one Johnny Manziel.

Jones wanted to draft Manziel in 2014, but was overruled by his son, who wanted to draft some guard named Zack Martin instead. Of course, Martin’s been to two Pro Bowls and Manziel’s out of the league at the moment, but Jones still has a soft spot for the former Browns quarterback.

“I don’t have any sense of how I feel right now other than I just really like him and know him and like him,” Jones said, via Todd Archer of ESPN.com. “I really appreciate all the positive things he’s done while at A&M, what he did as a Heisman Trophy winner and what he is about [in] football. We have that in common.

“Consequently it really makes me dwell on him getting things in better shape for him so he can do not just football but anything. That’s because I have an appreciation for what he did do. You can’t take that away from him. He really did something special for A&M, football and for all of us. We’ll worry about the future later.”

Of course, the question of acquiring Manziel for his football team has largely gone away, thanks to Manziel. But at least he knows Jones will always have a soft spot for him, and probably a job if he ever decides football is important to him again.

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Pats assistant Steve Belichick wants to grow up just like dad

New England Patriots coaching assistant Steve Belichick holds footballs during practice Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. The Patriots play the Seattle Seahawks in NFL football Super Bowl XLIX Sunday, Feb. 1. Belichick is the son of head coach Bill Belichick. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) AP

Steve Belichick admitted he wanted to be just like his dad. So when he sat down with reporters Monday, the Patriots safeties coach even dug in his father’s closet for a Rutgers lacrosse pullover, as well as some interview inspiration.

Via Phil Perry of CSNNE.com, the younger Belichick even talked like his dad at times, such as when asked about his promotion from coaching assistant this offseason. “Leave that to us,” he replied.

He’s 29 and just promoted from an entry level coaching position, but Steve said he’d be his own man wherever he was working. But make no mistake, the imprint of his father is strong on him, for good reason.

“It’s been cool,” he said. “Obviously, I love my dad. He’s my role model. He’s my idol. I want to be just like him. I have since I knew what an idol was. It’s rewarding for me to, I guess, see him more and learn from him more, because I’ve been away from him in high school and college on a day-to-day basis.”

Of course, he has a nearly as close relationship with one of the guys he’s coaching now, as he and veteran safety Devin McCourty were classmates at Rutgers, and McCourty’s only a year younger.

Steve gave a Belichickian answer when asked about his long-term goals, and if they included being a head coach: “I just hope to be here at the end of the day.”

“I just had my head down,” he said of his formative years in the coaching business. “I was just trying to work and get better. You never know when stuff like this is coming. There’s tons of changes in the NFL, but you just got to be ready for whatever they ask you to do and work your hardest and do the best you can. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

There’s no doubt having a famous last name helped him get in the door, and now he has a better opportunity to prove his hire was something other than nepotism.

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Sashi Brown, Scot McCloughan join PFT Live

PFTLive

The 2016 draft continues to loom fairly large in the rear-view mirror, and PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio continues to digest the selection process and its aftermath.

On Tuesday, we’ll take a closer look at the Cleveland and Washington drafts with the assistance of Sashi Brown and Scot McCloughan, respectively. They’ll both join the show in hour three.

We’ll also be discussing everything else happening in the NFL. And plenty is happening in the NFL, even though the draft is over.

Tune in at Sirius 213, XM 202, NBCSportsRadio.com, the NBC Sports Radio app, and any of our various terrestrial affiliates. It all gets started at 6:00 a.m. ET. Which is in like 10 minutes.

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Broncos cut safety Ryan Murphy, whom they sent home from Super Bowl

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Free safety Ryan Murphy #36 of the Seattle Seahawks in action against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field on September 3, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Denver Broncos waived safety Ryan Murphy on Monday.

Murphy was sent back to Denver prior to Super Bowl 50 after police questioned him in regards to a prostitution sting in San Jose. A Bay Area native, Murphy was not cited by police in the investigation. However, head coach Gary Kubiak elected to send him back to limit any distractions in the lead up to the game.

Murphy was re-signed to a futures contract in February. He was a seventh-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks last year.

Denver also released punter Will Johnson after drafting Syracuse punter Riley Dixon in the seventh round of the NFL Draft on Saturday.

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Von Miller gets the boot from Dancing with the Stars

Zz1mYmE5NDUzZjQ5MDk1MGYyOTEwZGM0N2ViZmZlZGIyMg== AP

Broncos linebacker Von Miller won’t be expanding his trophy case before next February.

Miller, who chased his Super Bowl 50 MVP award with an appearance on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, has been eliminated from the contest, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.

As a practical matter, Miller is now available to participate in the Broncos’ offseason program, which launched Phase Two on Monday. Though unsigned, he can participate by signing a letter of protection, which will guarantee his $14.1 million franchise tender if he suffers a season-ending injury on team property.

Miller presumably will continue to withhold services as leverage toward a long-term deal. But if he suffers a season-ending injury while working out on his own, Miller will get nothing from the Broncos this year.

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Maccagnan says Hackenberg could play this year

Zz0wZGFmYWFmNTdlM2FhOWM3NjdkZjkzMzZjOTM5YjVkOQ== AP

The Jets possibly didn’t devote a second-round pick to quarterback Christian Hackenberg to have him hold a clipboard in 2016.

G.M. Mike Maccagnan told WEPN-FM in New York on Monday that Hackenberg could play as a rookie.

“I think, with any player coming into the league, there’s definitely a maturation process, and it doesn’t matter, again, what position you play,” Maccagnan said, via Dom Cosentino of NJ.com. “I think quarterbacks are probably one of the harder positions to transition into the NFL. I know there’s always a desire and feel to have them go out there and play right away. The reality of it is, though, it’s going to be determined by how he does. And I think my personal opinion is we’ll see where he’s at and how he is in terms of assimilating to our offense and our system. But like I said, I think it’s a natural maturation process.”

Maccagnan apparently hopes that Hackenberg, who played his best college football as a true freshman at Penn State, will have an extended maturation process.

“I think in a perfect world, especially with quarterbacks — some quarterbacks come in and play right away, and some do well, and some struggle, and they go through growing pains,” Maccagnan said. “But I think at the end of the day, in a perfect world, you like to give those guys a chance to sort of grow, develop before you have to throw them into the fire.”

Maccagnan also addresses a broader question that many Jets fans have asked since the Hackenberg pick was made: Why him?

“I can’t really have insight into how everybody views him and sees him,” Maccagnan said. “I just know that we liked him and we thought he was a good prospect. Again, there’s risk. We know that. But we also think that there’s also a lot of potential there to develop into a very good player, too.”

By rolling the dice on Hackenberg, Jets management now has a vested interest in him, which means at some point they’ll get him onto the field to see what he can do. If Ryan Fitzpatrick returns, that likely won’t happen at least until the Jets are eliminated from postseason contention in 2016.

If Fitzpatrick doesn’t re-sign, who knows? The Hackenberg Show could be debuting just down the road from Hackensack.

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Seahawks sign quarterback Jake Heaps

Jake Heaps AP

The Seattle Seahawks signed another free agent quarterback to add to their depth following the NFL Draft.

Seattle signed former New York Jets quarterback Jake Heaps on Monday after adding TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin as an undrafted free agent. Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams will also attend the team’s rookie mini-camp this weekend as a tryout player.

Heaps grew up outside Seattle in Issaquah and was the No. 1 prep quarterback in the country at Skyline High School. His college career didn’t live up to that lofty expectation as he bounced from BYU to Kansas to Miami during his career. He signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent last May. He spent training camp with the team before being released in August.

Heaps took part in Pro Day workouts at the University of Washington in March to get back in front of pro scouts.

The Seahawks said they have still been in discussions with Tarvaris Jackson about returning in a backup role. However, Heaps, Boykin and potentially Adams give Seattle some passers for offseason practices at the very least.

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Final count: 12 first-round picks from ’13 have fifth-year options declined

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

The decisions are in, and 12 first-round picks from 2013 did not have their fifth-year contract options picked up by the teams that drafted them.

The deadline for such decisions was Monday. Some were of the last-minute variety, though it’s possible some teams just held off on announcements until Monday.

PFT tracked them all here.

There were slam-dunk option decisions — those for Tyler Eifert, Kyle Long and DeAndre Hopkins come to mind — and some close calls. We didn’t find out until Monday that the Chiefs picked up 2013 No. 1 pick Eric Fisher’s option, or that the Jaguars declined to pick up the option on the No. 2 pick from 2013, Luke Joeckel.

Those players whose options were picked up now have their 2017 salaries guaranteed. Those whose options weren’t exercised can be free agents following the 2016 season.

Among the decisions either not made until Monday or only released by various sources and reports, the Ravens declining the option on safety Matt Elam, the Raiders declining the option on cornerback D.J. Hayden and the Packers declining the option on outside linebacker Datone Jones were among the easiest.

Some of the players whose options were declined could still end up signing new deals with their current teams, as 2012 first-rounder Doug Martin did in March following a big season with the Buccaneers. Among this group, Lane Johnson had previously signed a long-term deal with the Eagles, while a Dion Jordan decision is still a year away for the Dolphins due to his suspension.

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Steelers decline fifth-year option on Jarvis Jones

New York Giants v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The Steelers have declined to pick up the fifth-year option on outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, per multiple reports.

The deadline for picking up the options on 2013 first-round picks is midnight Monday. If the Steelers were debating the option or potentially negotiating a long-term deal with Jones is unclear.

The option would have paid Jones $8.4 million in 2017, so the Steelers declining it makes financial sense.

The two sides can still negotiate a long-term deal. His rookie contract will now expire following the 2016 season.

Jones started 15 games in 2015 and had his best season, recording two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. He has started 26 of 36 career games and has just five sacks in three seasons.

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