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Goodell again doesn’t rule out 18-game season

Goodell AP

Plenty of skeptics believe that the league’s intent to alter its calendar, moving the draft from April to May and the Scouting Combine from February to March, arises not from a desire to expand the league’s footprint during the offseason but to lay the foundation for an expansion of the season.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell gave credence to those concerns by once again pointing out that the 18-game regular season remains a possibility.

“[The options] are all on the table,” Goodell said at a press conference that concluded the quarterly ownership meetings in Boston.  “As I have said before, I think the structure of the season is something that we consistently reevaluate.  I have been quite open about [indicating that] we have to address the quality of the preseason.  I hear from fans consistently that they want to make every NFL event more valuable.  They see the preseason as being less valuable to them because they don’t see the best players and the games do not count.  We have to address that, whether we are looking at 18 [regular-season games] and two [preseason games] or 16-and-two and expanded playoffs.  They are all on the table and things we are going to evaluate.”

Nudging the draft and the Scouting Combine deeper into the calendar would help accommodate a Super Bowl played two weeks later, which would in most years put it on President’s Day weekend.  But the shift of the start of free agency from the middle of March to early March would arguably put too much of a pinch on the Super Bowl teams, which will have less time to negotiate with their looming free agents before they hit the market — or before the deadline for using the franchise tag.

Of course, the crowding of the Super Bowl and the start of free agency could be aimed at persuading the NFLPA eventually to say, “You know, we should move the start of free agency to April,” which the NFL reportedly wanted when talk of adjusting the calendar first emerged.

The bigger challenge for the league remains getting the NFLPA eventually to say, “You know, we should just play 18 regular-season games.”  Two years ago, the thinking was that, if/when the league exercised its unilateral ability under the new CBA to shrink the preseason from four to two games, the union would calculate the impact of the lost revenue on the salary cap, compare it to the influx of revenue with the addition of two regular-season games, and not just agree to but insist on a move from 16 to 18.  Since then, it has become harder to reconcile player health and safety with adding two games that count, and it’s hard to imagine the NFLPA accepting 18 games unless the league adopts the idea that every player would be limited to 16 appearances.

For those (like us) who think 18 games would be overkill, it’s encouraging that Goodell mentioned the possibility of 16-and-2 plus expanded playoffs as an alternative.  Expanding the postseason would potentially replace the revenue lost by scrapping half of the preseason.  Sure, it would mean one more game — but only for either four (if the field expands to 14) or eight (if the field grows to 16).

The league may be years away from resolving the issue.  With each passing season, however, it’s harder to tolerate a four-game preseason — especially since Goodell has made it clear in recent years that the quality of those games is unacceptable.

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Jarran Reed agrees to contract with Seahawks

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Jarran Reed #90 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates a play against the Clemson Tigers during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks have started signing members of their 2016 draft class.

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed’s agents announced that their client has agreed to his four-year rookie deal with Seattle. Reed was the 49th overall pick in this year’s draft.

Reed excelled as a run stopper at Alabama in his two seasons at the school after spending time in junior college. He was less effective as a pass rusher, but the Seahawks are looking for someone to help fill in for the departed Brandon Mebane and Reed’s skills against the ground game should help his chances of being part of that solution.

The Seahawks drafted nine other players, some or all of whom will likely join Reed under contract before this week’s rookie minicamp comes to a conclusion.

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Stephen Jones on Greg Hardy: We gave it a year, it didn’t work

05-greg-hardy.w529.h352 Getty Images

There was some initial hedging on their part, and they still haven’t filled the vacancy, but enough time has apparently passed that they’re comfortable saying it out loud.

The Cowboys are done with Greg Hardy, and have been since the end of the regular season. Owner Jerry Jones said as much after the draft, but his son said the decision was made long ago.

“I think one of the most important things is when you take a chance with a player, if you see it’s not working, it’s time to move on,” vice president Stephen Jones said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We gave it its due in terms of a year here, and we just felt like at the end of the day, it wasn’t the right fit.”

The Cowboys paid Hardy nearly $9 million to be an impact pass-rusher, he wasn’t one, and created more distractions for them than he was worth. So when coach Jason Garrett mic-dropped a question about Hardy at the Scouting Combine by saying “he’s a free agent,” you could tell there was little interest in extending the experiment.

“Greg had a great start here and then he went through a lot, I do know that,” Stephen Jones said. “He’s been through a lot and you just never know how that is going to affect somebody. We wish him nothing but the best, getting his hands around everything in his life and hopefully getting in a place where he can be successful in whatever he chooses to do.”

Hardy’s “exclusive” interview with ESPN a month ago failed to create any interest in the 27-year-old defensive end, and now that teams have filled out their rosters with draft picks and undrafted rookies, it’s hard to imagine who might be interested in taking on the headache.

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Secretary of the Navy confident Keenan Reynolds can play and serve

ANNAPOLIS, MD - DECEMBER 28:  Keenan Reynolds #19 of the Navy Midshipmen rushes the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the third quarter of their 44-28 win during the Military Bowl at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on December 28, 2015 in Annapolis, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Patriots drafted long snapper Joe Cardona from the Naval Academy in the fifth round last year, he was able to work out an arrangement that allowed him to both play for New England and satisfy his commitment to serve in the Navy.

That may provide a framework for the Ravens to have Keenan Reynolds on the field this season. The Ravens drafted Reynolds in the sixth round last week and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said on The Dan Patrick Show Thursday said he would do whatever he can to make sure Reynolds can both play football and serve the United States.

“I’m confident we can work something out for Keenan to do both … play football and serve our country,” Mabus, who also said that a sequel to Top Gun is in the works, said.

Reynolds played quarterback in Navy’s triple option offense and set the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns and touchdowns from scrimmage in a career. The Ravens are listing him as a wide receiver and may also be in the mix to return kicks.

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Giants waive Jerome Cunningham, G.J. Kinne

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 29: Tight end Jerome Cunningham #86 of the New York Giants carries the ball against strong safety Kyshoen Jarrett #30 of the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedExField on November 29, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants made space on their roster for incoming rookies on Thursday by waiving a pair of players from their 90-man roster.

Tight end Jerome Cunningham was let go after playing nine games and making three starts for the Giants last season. Cunningham had eight catches for 59 yards in those appearances.

He saw playing time in the second half of the year with Larry Donnell was out of the lineup with a neck injury, but Donnell has been cleared to return to action this year. The Giants also drafted Jerell Adams in the sixth round to go with Donnell and Will Tye.

The Giants also parted ways with G.J. Kinne. Kinne was listed as a safety by the Giants, but has also spent time as a quarterback and wide receiver while spending time with the Jets and Eagles.

Safety Darian Thompson was drafted in the third round by the Giants, who will be holding a competition for Landon Collins‘ partner that includes the rookie.

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Cowboys expect Kellen Moore to be Tony Romo’s backup

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 03: Kellen Moore #17 of the Dallas Cowboys throws against the Washington Redskins during the first half at AT&T Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

This offseason has featured a lot of talk about the Cowboys trying to find a quarterback who would give them better play behind Tony Romo in the event Romo has to miss time again during the 2016 season, but it looks like they’ll head into the season with a No. 2 who was on the roster all along.

Dallas took Dak Prescott in the fourth round of the draft, but owner Jerry Jones said on 105.3 The Fan Thursday that the team sees Kellen Moore as the backup for Romo when the season gets underway. Moore joined the Cowboys last season, played three times and started the final two games of the season, finishing the year 61-of-104 for 779 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions.

“Yes,” Jones said when asked if Moore is the backup, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I think Kellen Moore has shown the ‘it.’ He has the instincts. He has the anticipation. He knows what’s going on. He gives me and us a great feeling about basically improving. Obviously those interceptions were not something you can live with, but some of the stuff he was doing was pretty obvious that the team was responding. He was able to move the team.”

Romo didn’t rule out Prescott getting snaps, although the best case scenario for the Cowboys would obviously be one that sees any snaps taken by backup quarterbacks coming late in games that they lead by a wide margin.

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Manziel follows smirking mugshot with deleted tweet


On Wednesday afternoon, unemployed quarterback Johnny Manziel turned himself in on charges of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. He posed for a mugshot. With a smirk.

And if the smirk didn’t say enough about Manziel’s current mindset, Manziel said more.

Via the Dallas Morning News, Manziel took to Twitter after his mugshot was posted and said, “Just thankful I had a shirt this time.”

Tha’s a reference to a 2012 arrest of Manziel for carrying fake ID and fighting. In his mugshot, Manziel had no shirt. And no smirk.

Hopefully, his next mugshot will have a shirt and no smirk.

Hopefully, he won’t have another mugshot.

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Judge orders Manziel not to have contact with ex-girlfriend

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 30:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 30, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has been ordered not to have contact with the ex-girlfriend who accused him of assault.

Appearing in front of Judge Roberto Canas in a Dallas courtroom this morning, Manziel was told there will be no exceptions to the no-contact order.

“You can’t call her, you can’t text her, you can’t email her, you can’t send her any letters or go to where she’s at,” Canas told Manziel.

Canas also told Manziel he must not possess firearms. Manziel said he does not own firearms and there are no firearms in his home, and he agreed that he has no reason to contact his ex-girlfriend.

Manziel was indicted by a grand jury for misdemeanor assault family violence. If convicted he could face up to a year in jail.

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Steelers release offensive tackle Mike Adams

Mike Adams, David DeCastro AP

The Steelers have been willing to invest draft currency into offensive linemen, but cut bait on one of those investments Thursday.

The team announced they had released tackle Mike Adams with a failed physical designation, and also cut kicker Ty Long and running back Abou Toure.

Adams missed all of last season with a back problem, and never came off the physically unable to perform list. He apparently didn’t respond well to surgery, and that problem is likely what led to today’s release.

He was their second-round pick in 2012, but never lived up to his draft status, with 20 starts scattered over three seasons. His career also included a bizarre stabbing, for which his accusers were ultimately acquitted (after his blood alcohol level was measured at 0.185).

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Jerry Jones: We hope Jaylon Smith will be back for the playoffs

50th Academy Of Country Music Awards - Roaming Show Getty Images

New Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith will need a full year to recover from the knee injury he suffered in the Fiesta Bowl. But perhaps no more than a year.

That’s the word from Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones, who believes that Smith could be ready to go in January of 2017, in time to help the Cowboys in the playoffs. Jones said on 105.3 The Fan that he doesn’t expect Smith to go on injured reserve during his rookie season because the Cowboys will be counting on him in January.

“We will not IR him,” Jones said. “We’ll take a chance he’ll be back for the playoffs.”

That assumes the Cowboys make the playoffs.

Jones said people who have already said Smith has no shot of playing as a rookie simply don’t understand how unpredictable the healing of nerve damage is. Smith might heal faster than most people think.

“That’s BS,” Jones said. “There’s no guarantees . . . don’t put a lot in these estimates.”

The Cowboys’ head team physician also happens to be the surgeon who repaired Smith’s knee. So if any team has good information on Smith, it’s Dallas. And Jones sounds very confident that a very good linebacker will be playing in Dallas sooner than you think.

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Washington extends Jordan Reed for five more years

Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed AP

Jordan Reed is slated to remain Washington’s top tight end for years to come.

Reed, who was heading into the final year of his rookie contract, has signed a five-year contract extension that keeps him under contract through 2021.

A league source tells PFT that the base value of the deal is just under $50 million, with $22 million guaranteed, although we don’t know how much of that is fully guaranteed at signing.

The 25-year-old Reed was the team’s third-round pick out of Florida in 2013. He had his best season last year, with career highs in catches (87), yards (952) and touchdowns (11). He also had a big game in Washington’s postseason loss to Green Bay, catching nine passes for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Washington’s top two wide receivers, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, are aging veterans heading into the last seasons on their contracts. And quarterback Kirk Cousins is only under contract through this year as well. But in Reed, the player who may be their leading receiver for years to come is locked up beyond the end of the decade.

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Kelvin Beachum: I’m ready to do what I do best and that’s play left tackle

New Orleans Saints v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The Jaguars opted not to pick up the 2017 option on tackle Luke Joeckel’s contract this week, something that didn’t come as much of a surprise after they added Kelvin Beachum to the roster earlier this year.

Had Joeckel lived up to expectations as the second overall pick of the 2013 draft, the Jaguars would have had no need to sign a left tackle recovering from a torn ACL to compete with him for the job this summer. They did, though, and Beachum says that he’s getting ready to start cutting as he continues a rehab process that has him feeling very confident about what’s coming down the road.

“The knee is great,” Beachum said, via the team’s website. “It’s amazing. The staff here has done a phenomenal job of assessing where we’re at, putting a solid plan together and allowing me to do what I do best – and that’s execute and do the performance aspect to push myself. I’m feeling good about it. I’m feeling great. I’m ready to do what I do best and that’s play left tackle. … I’m looking to play 19 games this year, and that comes with a first-round bye, so whatever is needed to get that done, that’s what I’m here to do.”

The Jaguars have a four-year team option on Beachum beyond this season, something they’re unlikely to pick up should Joeckel beat out Beachum for the job. If Beachum is healthy, though, past performances would suggest he’s the better bet to wind up at left tackle when the season gets underway in September.

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Signs emerge that Dion Jordan may be nearing a comeback

Dion Jordan AP

Former Dolphins draft bust Dion Jordan hasn’t really gotten his NFL career off the ground.

But there are at least signs he’s getting closer to coming back for another shot.

Via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, the suspended defensive end was shown in some workout photos posted by his trainer, and his agent declared him the “comeback player of the year.”

The photo posted by San Francisco-based trainer Tareq Azim, included the message “Happy to announce my man @dionj95 [Jordan] will solidify his presence to the world.”

Last April, Jordan was suspended for a year for multiple failed drug tests. He hasn’t been reinstated by the league, so there are some significant hurdles for him to clear. Then, he’d need to prove he belonged in the NFL, which he didn’t do with 3.0 sacks in his first two seasons.

The Dolphins would likely welcome the former No. 3 overall pick, though they wanted to see some degree of commitment from him. The photos suggest he’s in some degree of shape, so that’s at least a start.

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Bengals tryout player held in custody in Cleveland murder investigation

during the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Huskies 27-17. Getty Images

Arizona State linebacker Antonio Longino was supposed to be in camp with the Bengals this weekend for a tryout.

Instead, he’s in jail.

Via NewsNet5 in Cleveland, Langino has been arrested for tampering with evidence in a homicide investigation.

Police found a vehicle with two bullet holes at Longino’s aunt’s house, and a search warrant was served and several bags of evidence were taken from the scene. Police sources told them it was related to an investigation of a murder that happened at the Sunny Spot Lounge. A 24-year-old man was found shot in a vehicle nearby, and died later at the hospital.

Longino is being held on $100,000 bond, pending a first appearance in court. The logistical issues aside (players were reporting for the rookie minicamp today), it’s easy to guess that his first appearance in an NFL camp might be delayed as well.

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Nelson Agholor: I need to prove I can help this team win

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:   Nelson Agholor #17 of the Philadelphia Eagles carries the ball in the third quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on January 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants 35-30.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles took wide receiver Nelson Agholor in the first round of the 2015 draft and gave him plenty of snaps over the course of the season, but, much like everything else Eagles-related last year, Agholor’s season was a disappointment.

Agholor caught 23 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown and missed three games in the middle of the season with an ankle injury that teammate Jordan Matthews says robbed Agholor of his explosiveness. The combination of injury and the overall shortcomings of the Eagles offense could explain Agholor’s ho-hum production, but Agholor knows that whatever went wrong last year has to change this time around.

“We need to win football games, and I need to prove that I can help this team win football games. So that’s what I have to prove,” Agholor said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Only people I have something to prove to are the guys in this locker room, this organization, and this team.”

The Eagles added Chris Givens and Rueben Randle as free agents this offseason, which means competition for snaps but Agholor should still be in line for plenty of time with Riley Cooper out of the picture. How long that remains the case with a regime that didn’t make him a first-round pick will come down to Agholor’s ability to make a leap in his second season.

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Seahawks add former college basketball player George Fant

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Aaron Brown #2 of the Saint Joseph's Hawks drives past George Fant #44 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Madison Square Garden on November 27, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks have a fondness for undrafted players as they had 24 of them on their 53-man roster at one point last season.

They also showed a fondness for former college basketball players who decided to make the switch to football when they traded for tight end Jimmy Graham before the start of the 2015 season. In George Fant, they’re getting one of both.

Fant finished his basketball career at Western Kentucky ranked 13th all-time in scoring and eighth in rebounding and then chose to continue his athletic career with a year on the football team. The 6’5″ Fant bulked up from 250 pounds, played 12 game and did well enough at his pro day that the Seahawks have signed him to their 90-man roster.

“We’re not sure if he’s going to play tackle or tight end, but that’s a 285-pound man that ran like 4.82 and is working out,” General Manager John Schneider said during an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle. “He has really good hands.”

The Seahawks have gone the non-traditional route to find offensive linemen in recent years with varying degrees of success. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Fant join that group if he shows well in the coming weeks.

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