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Manuel doesn’t shrink from responsibility

AP

All the draft picks at this week’s NFL Rookie Symposium are learning about the pitfalls that can come with their new opportunities.

But as the first quarterback taken, and the guy expected to lead the Bills out of a generation of mediocrity-at-best, there’s an extra burden on E.J. Manuel.

Manuel said that the Symposium was an introduction into what he can expect as the guy the Bills expect to become the face of the franchise.

It’s a great responsibility,” Manuel said, via Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. “You’re always going to be watched, always going to be evaluated each and every day. You’ve got to take that responsibility and respect it. . . .

“I had high expectations no matter where I went in the draft. I’m a natural competitor. I mean, that’s something I was going to work toward anyway. So I don’t feel any added pressure.”

Of course, the first thing Manuel has to do to reach his goal is to prove more able than Kevin Kolb. While that shouldn’t be the most difficult thing in the world, being in a setting where setting up their future is the main topic of discussion had Manuel thinking about what his legacy as a player would be.

“I’ve always been taught that a good name is more important than great treasure,” Manuel said. “So just keeping that respect for yourself and keeping your name clean, I think that’s what adds to your legacy.

“Obviously, when you play well you have a football legacy. But at the end of the day, I still want to be known as more than a football player. I want to be remembered as a great man.”

If he can deliver the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since 1999, he’ll have the first half of that taken care of.

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Chargers announce 2017 season tickets are sold out

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The Chargers were on their way to a sellout of their season tickets for the 2017 season last week and they finished the job in the last few days.

The team announced on Monday that “all season tickets currently available” for their first season in Los Angeles have been sold. The Chargers began offering seats to existing season ticket holders in late February and opened sales to the general public on March 9.

The team will be playing at the StubHub Center, which will have the NFL’s smallest capacity at 30,000 seats.

In their announcement, the Chargers said that some tickets are being held back for players’ families, visiting teams and “promotional purposes.” They added that they could put more seats up for sale in the future if some of those seats are freed up as well as “from additional improvements at StubHub Center.”

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Oakland mayor asks for last-minute delay on vote

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NFL owners just walked into another round of meetings, and their decision on the Raiders’ proposed move to Las Vegas seems imminent.

But Oakland mayor Libby Schaff is asking for a last-minute reprieve.

According to the Associated Press, Schaaf is asking the league for more time to negotiate for a stadium deal which would keep the Raiders in Oakland.

“Never that we know of has the NFL voted to displace a team from its established market when there is a fully financed option before them with all the issues addressed,” Schaaf said in a statement. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t do everything in my power to make the case for Oakland up until the very end.”

Unless she can make her way to the Arizona Biltmore Resort in the next few minutes, she might be too late. The league is expected to vote on the measure this morning, and everyone anticipates having well more than the 24 votes needed to approve the move.

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Browns to have Mitchell Trubisky in for workout on Friday

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The Browns didn’t send coach Hue Jackson or executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown to North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s pro day workout earlier this month because they planned to hold a private workout with him at another time.

They won’t be traveling to North Carolina for that workout either. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports that Trubisky will work out for the Browns at their facility on Friday.

Players typically aren’t allowed to work out during their visits to teams leading up to the draft, but there’s an exception for prospects who went to college or grew up nearby. Teams have a day set aside for those players to visit each year and Trubisky, who grew up in Ohio, will be part of the contingent in Berea on Friday.

The exception for local prospects also means that Trubisky’s visit doesn’t count against the limit of 30 that the team is allowed before the draft.

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Panthers say Jerry Richardson isn’t selling team

AP

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson isn’t attending the league meetings in Arizona this week and a six-person group will be representing the team in his place.

Per the team, they won’t be there to discuss the possible sale of the team. A report from Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports suggested that the future of the franchise “could become more of a front-burner issue” this year with “many other owners” anticipating that the team will be sold before Richardson dies.

Richardson is 80 and has dealt with health issues in the past, but the plan has been that the team won’t be sold until after he passes away.

“Mr. Richardson is healthy, vigorous, happy and fully engaged in the business of the Carolina Panthers. The team is absolutely not for sale,” team spokesman Steven Drummond said, via the Charlotte Observer. “These reports are based on the misinterpretation of an agenda item. No owner is more committed to his team than Mr. Richardson.”

The agenda item Drummond refers to is the team’s move to buy back a four percent interest in the team that was held by the late Donald Keough. That move requires the approval of other owners.

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Raiders vote coming soon

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With plenty of momentum building toward a vote that would allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas, the league apparently plans to cram the proposal through quickly. Before anyone realizes that dropping a franchise into a city synonymous with gambling: (1) could create real temptations, problems, and consequences for players who find themselves living in and around casinos; (2) is inconsitent with the league’s opposition to sports betting; and (3) could — will — invite speculation about corruption when officiating and/or player and/or coaching errors occur.

Via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Daily, the ballots are expected to be cast by 3:00 p.m. ET on Monday. The approval would be conditioned upon the Raiders getting a lease and finding a developer for the new stadium in Nevada.

Following the vote, Commissioner Roger Goodell, Raiders owner Mark Davis, Texans owner Bob McNair, the chairman of the league’s finance commitee, and Steelers President Art Rooney II, the chairman of the league’s stadium committee, will speak to the media. Which underscores the widespread expectation that there won’t be nine “no” votes in the room.

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Carson Palmer: “I’m pretty good” at mentoring a young QB

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If the Cardinals weren’t already thinking about life after Carson Palmer, the brief uncertainty about whether he’d return for the 2017 season likely forced the issue squarely onto their radar heading into the offseason.

They’re looking at the top prospects in this year’s draft and General Manager Steve Keim told us on PFT Live recently that Palmer is down with serving as a mentor to a rookie that they bring into the fold. Over the weekend, Palmer said that Jon Kitna played that role for him when he arrived in the NFL with the Bengals and that he feels he’ll be able to play it as well as Kitna did.

“Not to float my own boat, but I think I’m pretty good at it,” Palmer said, via ArizonaSports.com. “I know I’ve had many great mentors and role models and guys to look up to; guys I’ve learned a lot from so I know how to approach being that guy and I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

It’s easier to be a mentor when you’re not wondering if the younger player will be supplanting you in the lineup. Kitna didn’t have to worry about that with Palmer because he knew the first overall pick in the draft would be starting when ready and Palmer knows that whoever he mentors will be succeeding him rather than forcing him out of the lineup in Arizona.

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Trevone Boykin arrested after car he was riding in backs into a bar

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Seahawks backup quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested this morning in Dallas, after a car crash which injured five people.

According to FOX 4 in Dallas, Boykin was the passenger in a car that backed into a bar, injuring a group of four bystanders who were outside. A bartender was also injured. Three of them were taken to the hospital with injuries including a broken ankle and dislocated arm, but none of the injuries were life threatening.

The woman driving the car was allegedly the drunk one and arrested for suspicion of DWI, but Boykin was arrested on two counts of marijuana possession and public intoxication. He remains in the Dallas County jail at the moment.

Boykin served as Russell Wilson’s backup last year as a rookie, after an ignominious end to his college career at TCU. He was suspended for the Alamo Bowl after he was arrested for hitting a cop.

Despite the fact he wasn’t driving, the arrest sets him up for possible punishment from the league. He appeared in six games last year, throwing 18 passes.

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Bill O’Brien “real excited” about working with Tom Savage

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The Texans were able to excise Brock Osweiler from their roster, leaving them with a pair of quarterbacks under contract and a spot on the depth chart that most believe they’d be happy to fill with Tony Romo.

Romo remains a member of the Cowboys, however, and there’s a chance his next stop might be in a broadcast booth, so the Texans may be moving forward with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden. During an appearance on NFL Network, Texans coach Bill O’Brien didn’t talk about Romo, but did discuss Savage’s ability to be a capable starting quarterback.

Savage showed some of that late in the 2016 regular season before suffering a concussion led to Osweiler’s return to the lineup. That was the latest in a run of injuries for the 2014 fourth-round pick and his play last season didn’t set the world on fire outside of being a clear step up from Osweiler, but O’Brien remains a believer in what Savage brings to the table.

“Absolutely,” O’Brien said. “He came into some tough games, the Jacksonville game last year that we had to win. We were down in the game, he helped us come back. He helped us beat Cincinnati on Christmas Eve, which was a big game that we had to win to clinch the South. We knew we had to win because of what happened earlier in the day in our division. And he helped us win that game. He got injured, and that’s been kind of one of the things that’s happened to him. He’s been injured over the last three years of his career. But if you look at the history of the league, there’s a number of guys who have played that were injured early in their career. Tom is a smart guy, he can throw the ball really well, he knows our system and he’s a guy that we’re real excited about working with.”

Savage and Romo share a recent history of injuries, so the fourth-year player could still play a role for the Texans even if Romo shows up in the starting lineup. The draft could also bring another wrinkle to a quarterback room that’s been the biggest obstacle to major success during O’Brien’s run as Houston’s coach.

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Giants want to re-sign Johnathan Hankins, but won’t be “irresponsible”

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Linebacker Zach Brown and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins are the only two players left unsigned or untagged in the top 50 on PFT’s list of 2017’s top free agents, but it appears one of those players could end his stay on the list pretty quickly.

Kim Jones of NFL Media reports that Hankins has a multi-year offer on the table to return to the Giants that “stacks up well” with the market that has developed for his services. That market obviously hasn’t been what Hankins was hoping to find and Giants co-owner John Mara suggested on Sunday that the team isn’t going to move much in order to get Hankins on board.

“There’s still one more piece out there that we’d like to keep, but we wanted to try to do that if possible without being irresponsible,” Mara said, via the New York Post. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. We certainly want him back, but it’s got to make sense for us. He’s an important part of our team, he’s a great kid, he’s young and he fits in very well with us.”

A Hankins return would allow the Giants to bring back all 11 of their starters from last season. That would seem to bode well for further improvement for a defense that took a big leap in 2016, but Hankins has to agree to the deal to make it happen.

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Monday morning one-liners

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Seven questions regarding the Bills as the league meetings get underway.

Was the Dolphins’ playoff berth a result of smoke and mirrors?

The Patriots expect to be playing their game in Mexico City in mid-November.

Running through the pros and cons of the Jets drafting LSU RB Leonard Fournette.

S Eric Weddle has high hopes for the Ravens secondary.

A look at the Bengals’ decision to part ways with LB Rey Maualuga.

Comparing possible Browns No. 1 pick Myles Garrett with previous defensive ends who went at the top of the draft.

Should the Steelers draft a running back?

Ohio pass rusher Tarell Basham is expected to work out for the Texans.

New Colts P Jeff Locke is looking forward to working with K Adam Vinatieri.

The Jaguars have some possible contract extensions to think about in the coming months.

Struggling for the Titans didn’t stop cornerbacks Perrish Cox and Valentino Blake from finding new jobs.

Broncos T Michael Schofield is working to raise awareness of the dangers of opiod addiction.

Quarterback, cornerback and defensive line could be areas the Chiefs address in the draft.

Monday is shaping up to be a big day for the Raiders and Las Vegas.

LSU S Jamal Adams could be a fit with the Chargers.

T Byron Bell will be in the mix as the Cowboys look to replace Doug Free on the right side of their offensive line.

Miami TE David Njoku was born in New Jersey before being mentored by Jeremy Shockey and would love to play for the Giants.

Will C Jason Kelce and the Eagles part ways this offseason?

Quick notes on the projected members of the Redskins’ starting offense.

Sustainable success for the Bears is a myth until they find a quarterback.

Running through the Lions’ biggest cap numbers for 2017.

Kyle Murphy could be part of the Packers’ plans at guard.

Said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer of players leaving this offseason, “We’re going to miss those players. You get attached to all those guys. But I do think in order to improve at some point, you have to move on and try to kind of change things a little bit.”

Given the option, would the Falcons opt out of wearing “Color Rush” uniforms?

Musing about the possible Panthers selection with the eighth pick of the draft.

The Saints have to think about life after QB Drew Brees.

LB Lavonte David believes the Buccaneers are on the cusp of big things.

Cardinals president Michael Bidwill is helping out high school players in St. Louis.

This offseason’s free agent additions should help Rams QB Jared Goff in his second season.

The secondary is a vital part of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s plans on defense.

What areas might the Seahawks address in the late stages of free agency?

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“Zero percent chance” Dolphins are interested in Joe Mixon

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Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is making the pre-draft rounds, but those trips are more about convincing teams he can be trusted rather than whether he’s good at playing football.

And it sounds like he won’t be taking that road show to Miami.

According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins will not draft the running back who has provided plenty of electrifying game tape, but also video of him punching a woman in the face.

One person with knowledge of the team’s thinking described it as a “Zero percent chance.”

It only takes one team to overlook and forgive and hope for the football, the way the Chiefs did last year with Tyreek Hill. But whether the dictate is coming from owner Stephen Ross or within the football operation, it appears their decision has been made.

 

 

 

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No timeline on Le’Veon Bell return, contract negotiations

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Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell had surgery this month to repair the core muscle injury that knocked him out of the AFC title game and ginned up questions about why the team didn’t disclose the injury heading into the game after Bell said it had been an issue.

The injury didn’t stop the Steelers from using the franchise tag on Bell, which suggests they don’t think it will be an issue for him when the 2017 season gets underway. General Manager Kevin Colbert said on Sunday that it isn’t clear when Bell is going to be ready to resume football work, however.

“At what point does he return? The doctors, trainers and Le’Veon determine that,” Colbert said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Our goal is to have him 100 percent for the 2017 season. Whatever path the experts tell us to take with that, we will follow.”

Colbert had a similar answer when it came to the question of a long-term deal for Bell. Beyond saying the team was interested, Colbert gave no hint about when there might be an agreement.

“At what point it gets done, I can’t say,” Colbert said. “It will be a very complicated type of deal. But it always has been our goal.”

Bell is set to make $12.1 million under the terms of the franchise tag.

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Ron Rivera thinks time off will help Cam Newton

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The Panthers announced that quarterback Cam Newton is going to be out of action for a few months after making the decision to have shoulder surgery to address lingering pain from the 2016 season.

The timing of the decision has drawn some scrutiny as Newton played out the string last season despite the shoulder issue. General Manager Dave Gettleman said Newton wanted to play and the medical staff said he could to explain the team’s decision. Coach Ron Rivera noted that there’s a general aversion to having your quarterback undergo surgery unless it’s absolutely necessary while adding that he thinks the offseason sets up to be a positive for Newton.

“I think the rest will be good for him. I think it’ll help to clear his mind and refocus. I think part of it also is rebuilding that confidence,” Rivera said to Judy Battista of NFL Media. “I think his confidence was shook. I think there were a lot of things that went on last year that did create that situation for him to feel that way, starting with the offensive line.”

How much the 2017 offensive line will inspire confidence remains to be seen as its strength is somewhat contingent on new left tackle Matt Kalil, last year’s original left tackle Michael Oher and center Ryan Kalil returning to both health and form. If they don’t, peace and mind will be in short supply in Carolina’s pocket once again.

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More talk in Cleveland of the Browns trading for Jimmy Garoppolo

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Around the NFL, there’s a widespread belief that the Patriots have no plans to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and see him as not just the backup to Tom Brady in 2017 but the successor to Brady some day down the road. But in Cleveland, there’s a different view.

Talk of the Browns trading for Garoppolo continues, with two of the most clued-in Browns reporters, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland, both having new stories today indicating that the Browns will talk to the Patriots about trading for Garoppolo. Grossi even goes so far as to say Garoppolo is the top contender to start the season as the Browns’ starting quarterback, ahead of holdover Cody Kessler.

So is Garoppolo available in a trade? Sure he is, at the right price. Every player in the league is available for the right price. If the Browns offered the first overall pick, the 12th overall pick and the 33rd overall pick in this year’s draft, plus left tackle Joe Thomas, the rights to suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon and Kessler to take Garoppolo’s place on the Patriots’ roster, does anyone seriously think the Patriots would turn all of that down, just to keep a player who might not play for years if Brady stays healthy?

But the Browns aren’t going to make that offer. The question is whether there’s any realistic trade package that the Browns would be willing to give up, and the Patriots would be willing to accept. And most indications out of New England are that the Patriots aren’t willing to give up Garoppolo for anything but an over-the-top offer.

Still, in Cleveland, there’s a belief that Garoppolo could be coming to town. The Patriots may say no, but the Browns will ask.

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Halas grandchildren want to sell shares of team to McCaskeys

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As ownership families age, they naturally disperse the business to younger generations.

In Chicago, there appears to be some movement to consolidate some of the shares of ownership in the Bear to avoid potential future problems.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, owners are expected to vote this week on the potential sale of a small percentage of shares from one of George Halas’ grandchildren to the McCaskey family which controls the team, headed by chairman George McCaskey.

Issues of family succession and control might seem arcane, but the league has had numerous problems with the heirs of Bud Adams and how they’ve divided the team after his passing, since they want a clear managing partner.

While the report is short on specifics, it appears the Bears want to address them in advance.

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