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Duron Carter makes Montreal Alouettes’ practice roster

Duron Getty Images

While tryouts with the Vikings and the Saints didn’t land Duron Carter an NFL job, the son of Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter has found a place in the Canadian Football League.

Carter, who went undrafted in April after a collegiate career marked by academic issues and a lack of on-field time, has made the Montreal Alouettes’ nine-player practice roster, the club announced Sunday. A CFL  practice roster is similar to an NFL practice squad.

The 22-year-old Carter caught 13 passes for 176 yards and a TD in 2009 for Ohio State in his lone season of game action on the FBS level. He would later transfer to Alabama and Florida Atlantic but never played for either school.

Another notable name on the Alouettes’ practice roster is running back Tyrell Sutton, who’s had stints with the Packers, Panthers and Seahawks.

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Woody Johnson hints at disconnect between Idzik and Ryan while discussing firings

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Woody Johnson has a few regrets and he was sure to mention several of them during his Black Monday press conference regarding the departures of General Manager John Idzik and coach Rex Ryan.

Near the top of the list was the decision to hire Idzik before the 2013 season while keeping Ryan on board, a move that may have limited interest from some other candidates for the general manager job and one that Johnson says he thinks about differently “in retrospect.” Johnson said that he’s not sure if there was a disconnect between Ryan and Idzik, but intimated that things didn’t work well when he said that the relationship between the men in those jobs has to be “mutual” and that Ryan didn’t get players that fit his scheme.

Johnson also expressed some regret about the team’s offseason work. He said that Idzik had a plan that led to the team having a mountain of cap space, but that the team “probably” should have spent more money. Johnson said there was no directive not to spend money and identified one player that he would have liked to spend that money on, although said he passed because of past experiences with Darrelle Revis’s agents.

“If I thought I could have gotten Darrelle for [what New England paid] I probably would have taken him,” Johnson said. “I’d love for him to come back.”

Revis can be a free agent after the season, which may make that comment one that gets forwarded to the league for tampering. In the meantime, Johnson, Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf will lead the search for a new coach/G.M. combo. Johnson said it was likely the Jets would go for a G.M. with more personnel experience than Idzik had and that he was looking for a coach who could “manage” as well as inspire the team.

The Jets have contacted the top candidates they’ve identified for the general manager job and interviews are expected to start soon. Johnson said the team would prefer to hire the G.M. first and promised transparency about the direction that the search moves in over the coming days and weeks.

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Arthur Blank says search firm leaks weren’t a distraction

arthurblank AP

Arthur Blank is looking for a head coach, but he spent the first part of his press conference defending his own role in the firing of Mike Smith.

Blank emphasized that he had not reached out to any candidates for the job or agents yet, and defended his role amid criticism of the leaks regarding his hiring of a search firm before his team played a win-and-in game.

He said when similar reports popped up the week before and they “beat the crap out of the Saints, ” they weren’t a distraction.

So even though he did have a search firm in place, he insisted it wasn’t a factor in the Falcons falling flat against the Panthers.

“Smitty could not have had stronger support than from me,” Blank said of the weeks prior to his decision.

Blank said that General Manager Thomas Dimitroff would be involved in the search, but quarterback Matt Ryan would not be (which is as it should be).

He also pointed out that more changes might be necessary, which could include more coaching changes.

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PFT Live: Jets talk with Manish Mehta, 49ers talk with Matt Maiocco

Rex Ryan AP

It’s Black Monday in the NFL, although the 49ers got the ball rolling on coaching changes Sunday night when they made the long-awaited announcement that Jim Harbaugh would no longer coach the team.

The Jets were the first team to make their moves on Monday, announcing in the morning that coach Rex Ryan and General Manager John Idzik were both fired. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News will join Mike Florio on Monday’s edition of PFT Live to discuss the departures and where the Jets are going to be looking for their next hires.

Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area will also be a guest on the program to talk with Florio about the coaching change with the 49ers. We’ll see who Maiocco thinks will be candidates to replace Harbaugh after his successful four-year run with the team as well as what other changes may be coming for the team this offseason.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Report: Tony Sparano “squarely in the mix” for Raiders job

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Getty Images

The Raiders reportedly took a shot at hiring Jim Harbaugh, but the former 49ers coach and Raiders assistant will be heading back to Ann Arbor for a hoped resurrection of the faltering football program at the University of Michigan.

That leaves the Raiders looking for a permanent successor to Dennis Allen, who was fired as the team’s head coach after the first four games of the 2014 season. Tony Sparano took over on an interim basis, leading the Raiders to a 3-9 record and earning support for an extended stay on the sideline from players like Charles Woodson and Derek Carr.

Whether because of those recommendations or other reasons, Jeff Darlington of NFL Media reports that Sparano heads into the offseason “squarely in the mix” to hold onto the job. The Raiders will be interviewing other candidates for the job, a process that owner Mark Davis is expected to involve himself with after sitting out the last time.

Handicapping Sparano’s chances is difficult since the scope of the search could still be impacted by a decision to part ways with General Manager Reggie McKenzie, but being in the mix is a lot better than the alternative when you’re trying to land a job.

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Bears part ways with Aaron Kromer

Chicago Bears v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

In addition to looking for a new head coach and General Manager, the Bears will need a new offensive coordinator, too.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, and via ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson, the Bears have parted ways with Aaron Kromer.

Kromer’s job security had been speculated upon after he was revealed to have been a source for an NFL Media report critical of quarterback Jay Cutler. He apologized for his actions and kept his job for the final three games of the season.

However, with head coach Marc Trestman departing after a disastrous 5-11 season, it’s very likely the Bears will have a majority of new assistant coaches in 2015.

Kromer was an offensive assistant for five seasons with New Orleans before joining Chicago in 2013.

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Harbaugh to Michigan all but official

Harbaugh AP

He wanted to stay in the NFL, but with no viable options paying him at or near $8 million and Michigan ready to give him the keys to the financial kingdom, it appears that Jim Harbaugh will indeed become the next coach of the Wolverines.

“Michigan has told its biggest boosters a deal for Jim Harbaugh is done and a press conference is scheduled for Tuesday,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter (a Michigan man) reported Monday morning.

There’s still a sense of “it’s not done until it’s done” when it comes to Harbaugh and Michigan, in part because it has appeared for the past few weeks that Harbaugh is using the Michigan offer as leverage for a comparable NFL package.

Unlike Nick Saban, who seemed to be permanently leaving the NFL in the rear-view mirror when he bolted the Dolphins for Alabama after the 2006 season, many believe Harbaugh will eventually return to the NFL.  His Michigan contract surely will allow him to leave for the NFL whenever he wants, and his four-year maximum shelf life with other positions will create lingering speculation that Harbaugh eventually will come back to the pro game and chase the championship he came tantalizingly close to winning.

But he’ll be welcomed as a hero in Ann Arbor, and his history suggests he’ll turn things around quickly.  At some point, though, the lure of a Lombardi Trophy likely will bring him back to the NFL.

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Kyle Orton announces his retirement

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Getty Images

The Bills brought Kyle Orton on board just before the start of the season and the quarterback wound up playing a major role for the team as they put up their first winning record since 2004.

Orton replaced EJ Manuel as the starter after four games and piloted the Bills to seven wins that kept them in the playoff race for most of the season. That effort wound up falling short, but Orton’s 18 touchdowns and 64.2 completion percentage were a big part of the reason why they lasted as long as they did.

It was hardly everything you want in a quarterback, but he stabilized the position when Manuel seemed unable to do it. Orton won’t be around to help them out again in 2015, though. Orton announced his retirement from the NFL via the Bills on Monday morning.

“I just have been going at it for 10 years and it’s just a family decision and I’ve decided to get home and be a dad and call it a day,” Orton said.

Quarterback should have been on any Buffalo offseason shopping list before Orton’s announcement and it might get bumped to higher priority now that the team is left with Manuel as the only quarterback on their active roster. Before they get to that, though, the team has to sort out what kind of organizational changes will be made as new owner Terry Pegula embarks on his first offseason since buying the team.

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Cardinals G.M. “hopeful” Drew Stanton can play this week

Arizona Cardinals v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

Meanwhile in Arizona, there’s a playoff team hoping to get its first backup quarterback back for a playoff game.

Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim made his usual appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 Monday morning, and had a positive tome when asked about the possibility of Drew Stanton making Saturday’s playoff game with the Panthers.

At this point it’s day-to-day, but we’re hopeful,” Keim said.

Getting Stanton back would be a huge boost to the Cardinals, who have floundered badly under third-choice Ryan Lindley.

Stanton was recovering well from his previous knee injury when he had to be treated for an infection last week, an infection the team believes was picked up outside its auspices.

The Cardinals would still likely be underdogs on the road Saturday, but would have a more compelling chance against a suddenly hot Panthers Defense.

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Report: Thomas Dimitroff safe, but changes coming to staff

Dimitroff AP

With head coach Mike Smith fired this morning, the only unanswered question was whether he’d be alone.

But according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, General Manager Thomas Dimitroff is safe, with conditions.

Owner Arthur Blank “plans on shaking up the organizational structure, which would naturaly erode some of the stability Dimitroff has built.

Blank wasn’t bringing former Eagles and Browns executive Joe Banner in just to pick out curtains for the new stadium, so some restructuring seemed inevitable.

How that applies to Dimitroff and his staff — or to team president Rich McKay — remains to be seen.

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Bears fire Marc Trestman, too

Trestman Getty Images

Moments after the first shoe dropped, the second shoe has dropped as well.

Just minutes after news first broke that the Bears have fired General Manager Phil Emery, news also broke that head coach Marc Trestman was fired. Jay Glazer of FOX Sports first broke the Trestman news.

Trestman was a surprising, outside-the-box choice as the Bears’ head coach, coming as he did from the Canadian Football League. But in his first season as the head coach of the Bears, he showed a lot of promise as an offensive innovator.

Unfortunately, Trestman’s second season was a disaster, as the Bears appeared to quit on the season. Few teams played worse down the stretch than Chicago.

Now the Bears will attempt to pick up the pieces, with a new coach and a new general manager inheriting the mess that Emery and Trestman have left behind.

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Bears move on from Phil Emery

Emery AP

As the Bears stumbled through the 2014 season, more and more fingers were pointed at the man who decided to hire a CFL head coach and to give a market-value franchise quarterback to a guy who has yet to prove he’s a true franchise quarterback.

Per a league source, the Bears have held G.M. Phil Emery responsible for those decisions with his job.

Emery was fired after three years on the job and only one head-coaching hire.  (At least he got one; former Jets G.M. John Idzik never got to hire a coach at all.)

It seems to be only a matter of time before coach Marc Trestman gets fired.  The real question is whether Jay Cutler remains after a contract that paid him $38 million fully guaranteed on signing, with another $10 million becoming fully guaranteed in March.

Whether Cutler remains depends on who the next coach will be.  If the Bears hire Illinois native Mike Shanahan, who drafted Cutler nearly nine years ago, maybe Cutler sticks around.

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Falcons fire Mike Smith

Smith AP

And then there were four.

With the Raiders, 49ers, and Jets jobs open, add Atlanta to the mix.  The Falcons have announced that coach Mike Smith has been released from his contract.

“Smitty’s contributions to our club, team and city over the last seven years are numerous,” owner Arthur Blank said in a release.  “His accomplishments on the field made him the most successful coach in the 49-year history of the Falcons, and we are grateful for the foundation he has laid for us for the future.”

Before Smith arrived, the Falcons had never had consecutive winning seasons.  Under Smith, they had five in a row.

But postseason failures, including a blowout loss at home while the No. 1 seed in 2010 and an inability to hold leads as the No. 1 seed in 2012, surely made it hard for Blank to remain supportive after two straight losing seasons.

Also working against Smith is a history of bad decisions, especially when it comes to clock management.  This year alone, losses to Detroit and Cleveland were fueled in large part by mismanagement of the clock.  With those two losses converted to wins, the Falcons easily would have won the NFC South.

The next question becomes whether Blank will keep G.M. Thomas Dimitroff.  The hiring of a search firm to help identify a new coach suggests that Dimitroff has been undermined.  But Dimitroff’s ability to find talented players is well documented.  With former Patriots V.P. of player personnel and former Chiefs G.M. Scott Pioli also in the building, the foundation is in place to build around players like quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones.

If Dimitroff is fired, look for other teams to line up to hire him.  Which could be the best argument in favor of keeping him.

As to Smith, his five-year run also merits consideration elsewhere.  At a minimum, teams should be clamoring to hire him as a defensive coordinator.

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Woody Johnson should consider firing himself

Woody AP

One of the best things about owning a business is that the owner can’t be fired.  Sometimes, however, he should be.

When it comes to the Jets, owner Woody Johnson deserves much of the blame for the mess that culminated in Monday’s house cleaning.  By firing G.M. Mike Tannenbaum two years ago but insisting on keeping coach Rex Ryan two weeks ago, Johnson created a mess that was destined to lead to what should have happened two years ago.

The statement from Johnson announcing the termination of G.M. John Idzik and coach Rex Ryan confirms that Johnson will obtain “guidance and support” from Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf.

“We will consider all options to improve the Jets,” Johnson said.   “Getting the Jets back on track is my top priority, and today’s decisions are important steps towards achieving our goals.”

The way for the Jets to achieve their goals includes the owner getting out of the way.  While he’ll never fire himself, he needs to resist the urge to tinker or to make changes.  Find people who know what they are doing and let them do it.

Go to the games.  Have fun.  Sign the checks.  And keep away from the team.

It’s a smart approach for most NFL owners.  For Johnson, it’ll be one of the key ingredients to getting the Jets to where Johnson wants them to be.

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Ravens confident Haloti Ngata will be ready to help them this week

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

When the Ravens were trailing the Browns in the second half on Sunday, it looked like their season might end before defensive tackle Haloti Ngata could return from a four-game suspension for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy.

The Ravens rallied, though, and beat the Browns 20-10 to secure the final playoff spot in the AFC. That means they’ll be in Pittsburgh on Saturday and that Ngata will be in the fold to help them try to defeat their AFC North rivals.

The question now becomes how much Ngata will be able to help them after four weeks away from the team. His physical condition will be of particular interest, but coach John Harbaugh didn’t show much concern about Ngata being ready for action.

“I’m confident Haloti will be ready to go. That’s his job, to be ready to go,” Harbaugh said, via ESPN.com. “I’m confident he’ll do it. He has done it before. He has been there, he knows what’s at stake.”

The Ravens run defense held up well while Ngata was out of the lineup, but a return at full speed would still be a major boost to their defensive efforts against Pittsburgh. Ngata had two sacks and two interceptions in 12 games this season and that work may be in high demand if the Steelers are forced to the air more often as a result of Le’Veon Bell’s knee injury.

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Falcons call press conference for 11 a.m. to fire people

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We know when Falcons owner Arthur Blank is talking, we just have to wait to see how many firings he’s talking about.

According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons have called a press conference at 11 a.m., at the Blank Family Foundation offices, as opposed to Falcons HQ.

It’s expected that coach Mike Smith will officially get the ax at that moment, but the interesting part in Atlanta will be whether General Manager Thomas Dimitroff is able to — or should — hang on.

The two had a remarkable five-year run of winning seasons, after the Falcons had gone nearly 40 years without back-to-back winning seasons. They even pushed through their glass ceiling of a playoff win before falling through the floor the last two years.

The Falcons have impressive skill-position talent and a top quarterback under control. But their lack of playmakers on both lines doomed them, and the guy who built a top-heavy roster might be held accountable as well.

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