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Darren Sproles: Dashon Goldson tried to hurt me

AP

Saints running back Darren Sproles says Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson was clearly intending to injure him when he delivered a helmet-to-helmet blow in Sunday’s game.

He tried to hurt me on the play, but he didn’t,” Sproles said.

Sproles said that when he watched replays of the hit, he could see that Goldson was aiming to drill him in the head. Sproles added that Goldson has a history of delivering “dirty” hits.

Goldson got a 15-yard penalty for the hit on Sproles and was initially suspended for a game, although on appeal his punishment was reduced from a one-game suspension to a $100,000 fine. That’s a hefty fine and it comes on the heels of a $30,000 fine Goldson incurred in Week One, but at some point, if fines and 15-yard penalties aren’t stopping Goldson’s dirty play, a suspension is going to have to be the next step.

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Report: Vikings unlikely to exercise Teddy Bridgewater’s 2018 option

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Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman met the media on Tuesday and one of the topics of conversation was quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s attempt to come back from last season’s severe knee injury.

Spielman said that there is still no timeline for Bridgewater to resume a full workload of football activities after last August’s injury. That injury was serious enough that it has created doubt about Bridgewater’s ability to return at all and that uncertainty will play into the team’s decision about their option on Bridgewater’s contract for the 2018 season.

That decision needs to be made by the middle of next week and Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Vikings are unlikely to pick up the option. The option is guaranteed against injury and, as you’d likely imagine, that’s a sticking point for the Vikings as they’d prefer not to be on the hook for more than $11 million in salary for a player who isn’t able to play.

Sam Bradford is in the final year of his contract as well, which may lead the Vikings to consider a quarterback addition in the draft this week as they plan for all eventualities at the most important position on offense.

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Longtime NFL reporter Ed Werder laid off by ESPN

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One of ESPN’s most experienced NFL reporters is out, effective immediately.

Ed Werder, who has a strong reputation for covering football and particularly the Cowboys, has been let go, he said on Twitter this morning.

“After 17 years reporting on NFL, I’ve been informed that I’m being laid off by ESPN effective immediately. I have no plans to retire,” Werder wrote.

ESPN is expected to lay off around 100 employees this week, as the network tries to reduce costs as it deals with declining revenues thanks to cord cutting. At least one other NFL reporter, longtime Titans beat writer Paul Kuharsky, has also been let go, and it’s likely that several notable names in the NFL media world will be without jobs soon.

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No update yet on Marshawn Lynch from Marshawn Lynch

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The last time NFL Media told us a deal was in place between the Raiders and Marshawn Lynch, it wasn’t. And Lynch himself made things clear with this tweet: “If u kno me you kno my business is my business and if u don’t kno me that’s a fun fact for ya… when sh-t get REAL I’ll let you kno!!!!

While it’s highly unlikely that NFL Media would allow itself to go 0-for-2 on this specific story, Lynch still has yet to let anyone know whether “sh-t” has gotten real. Besides, NFL Media wisely has applied this caveat to its report: “As is nearly always the case with Lynch, nothing is done until it’s done. All parties involved were wary of celebrating a deal until Lynch sets foot on the mainland and meets with those necessary to complete a deal. But at this point, sources directly involved in the situation are confident it’ll get done.”

Lynch is scheduled to return to the Bay Area on Wednesday from a trip to Haiti. Some have pointed to his travels as the reason for his failure to let us know whether “sh-t” has gotten real. That said, it is indeed possible to tweet from the road (and from the air). The fact that, as of this posting, he has said nothing means there’s still a chance that he will say pretty much anything.

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Report: Buccaneers talking about trading back

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There was a report early this week that many of the teams drafting at the top of the first round are open to trading down and that feeling apparently extends to the later sections of the round as well.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Buccaneers have spoken to “at least three teams” about trading back from the No. 19 overall pick. Schefter adds that the Buccaneers could trade out of the first round altogether, which suggests that at least one of those teams is looking to trade back into the first round or doesn’t currently have a first-round selection.

The Rams, Vikings and Patriots are currently without a first-round pick and the Patriots are without a second-round pick as well.

One team that could be a potential trade partner for the Bucs is the Giants. Their General Manager Jerry Reese said the team would do that if the opportunity presents itself, although they and any other teams will almost certainly be waiting to see how the first 18 picks fall before making a move into Tampa’s spot.

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Mark Ingram says he’s fine with addition of Adrian Peterson

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Mark Ingram got some high-profile company in the backfield Tuesday, but the Saints starting running back said he’s fine with the addition of Adrian Peterson.

I’m all about winning, man,” Ingram said, via Herbie Teope of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “If this will help us win, I’m all about winning. I’m all for it.”

Ingram’s coming off his first 1,000-yard rushing season, and he’s always had some degree of help in the backfield, rather than being the kind of bell cow back he was at Alabama. Last year it was Tim Hightower, but it has been several others in his time in New Orleans.

Saints coach Sean Payton said Peterson would have a “very clear and defined” role on the team, but Ingram didn’t seem worried about it cutting into his carries.

“Listen, man, it’s nothing new,” Ingram said. “I’ve been sharing the ball with one or two, maybe three guys since I got here.

“I figured we were going to draft somebody or get somebody in free agency, still might, I figured that was going to happen, so it’s not surprising to me. I don’t care who comes in, where I’m at, who I’m playing with. I’m always going to compete, I’m always going to do the best I can do and that’s just me, that’s how I’m built.”

Of course, none of the backs Ingram’s been sharing time with have an MVP trophy, or 11,747 rushing yards, but that’s an adjustment he’s willing to make.

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Marshawn Lynch deal to Oakland is done, pending physical

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The Raiders had a deadline, and Marshawn Lynch has apparently met it.

According to the NFL Network, the deal between the veteran running back, the Raiders and the Seahawks will be finished by the end of the day.

Lynch has agreed to a new one-year deal with Oakland, and the teams have already agreed on the details of a trade, which will involve a swap of late-round draft picks in 2018.

The deal will pay Lynch a base of $3 million, with the chance to make $2 million more if he gains 1,000 yards, with a maxed-out value of $8.5 million.

That sends Lynch out of retirement and back to his hometown team, in time to do some PR work and perhaps run the ball from time to time for a team that needed a back after Latavius Murray left in free agency. General Manager Reggie McKenzie said he needed to know what Lynch was going to do before the draft, so he could make other plans this week if he wasn’t coming home.

Lynch will still need to pass a physical, and he’s heading to the Bay Area to do that after returning from a trip to Haiti.

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Cowboys think they’re OK “staying put” at 28

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The dearth of quarterbacks may make other teams desperate to trade up. But for one guy who loves a good deal, the depth at cornerback makes him more likely to sit tight.

According to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he was willing to to sit tight at No. 28 overall and see what comes to them.

This is a real good year for staying put,” Jones said. “I don’t know if it’s because we need so many good football players or because there are some good football players there, especially in those early rounds. But in my experience, it’s wasting your time to talk about what you might do trading in the later rounds.

“As far as value, what opportunities we might have there, you don’t ever want to predetermine what you’re going to do. But certainly if you stay there we will have an opportunity to really help our team, in my view.”

The Cowboys have been willing, if not downright eager, to make deals in either direction in the past. From trading up for Morris Claiborne and Demarcus Lawrence to moving back for players such as Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams, to failed bids for quarterbacks Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook last year (before they settled for Dak Prescott), he’s always up for some action.

But this draft is perceived as being deep at one of the positions the Cowboys need most. After losing cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Claiborne in free agency (along with safety Barry Church and others), they need to infuse some young talent into the secondary. They also need pass rushers, but it appears they think they’ll be able to find what they need later.

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Chad Kelly says NFL teams know he’s moved past “dumb mistakes”

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Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly wasn’t at the Scouting Combine as a result of the NFL’s new policy banning players who have been involved in acts of violence off the field. But Kelly said he believes NFL teams know what kind of person he is.

Kelly pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct two years ago as part of a case in which he was initially accused of punching two people, threatening to shoot up a bar with an AK-47 and resisting arrest. He said this morning on PFT Live that he has told NFL teams that he’s grown up since then, and he thinks those teams believe him.

“I’ve made it clear that I just had my 23rd birthday, if I don’t get it now I’ll never get it. I think they understand my sincere apologies for making those dumb mistakes,” Kelly said.

A bigger problem for Kelly right now may be that he’s rehabbing both knee and wrist injuries, and he hasn’t been able to work out for teams the way he would have liked. So there are some significant questions about him, but he’s hoping he has answered those questions as well as possible, and will hear his name called this week by some team that’s satisfied with the kind of player and person he is.

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Latavius Murray plans on being ready for training camp

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Adrian Peterson earned a prominent spot in the headlines on Tuesday by signing with the Saints in a move that sets him up for an early return to Minnesota because the two teams will square off in Week One.

The plan for the Vikings is for Latavius Murray to be in Peterson’s old spot as the team’s starting running back, although the Vikings will have to wait a little while before they have a chance to see exactly how Murray fits into their offense. He had ankle surgery shortly after signing with the team as a free agent and said Tuesday that he’s still going through the rehab process with designs on being ready to go when training camp starts.

“That’s the plan,” Murray said. “That’s my goal, obviously. I don’t want to miss any more time than I have to, but, at the same time, I have to continue to trust the plan [the medical staff] has in place for me. I want to be out there when it’s time to lock and load.”

When that time arrives, Murray says that he knows the Vikings want him on the field as much as possible as an every-down back and said he’s confident that his receiving skills will allow that to happen. It will be a spell before there’s on-field evidence to support those feelings, but little doubt that the Vikings will need Murray to hit the ground running upon his return to action.

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Mixed signals from Rams on Trumaine Johnson

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The Rams opted to apply the franchise tag to cornerback Trumaine Johnson for a second time, despite the 20-percent raise over last year’s eight-figure salary. Since then, mixed signals have emerged as to whether the Rams will keep him under the one-year, $16.74 million tender (which he has signed), trade him, or sign him to a long-term deal.

As the first minicamp of the Sean McVay era began on Tuesday, the mixed signals continued.

“Today he’s a Ram,” G.M. Les Snead told reporters regarding Johnson. “First walk-through [practice on Tuesday], and then we’ll get this minicamp going and it’ll go through OTAs, and the plan I mentioned is still the same. It’s not necessarily going to affect the draft at all. We’ll try to rank the corners from top to bottom. You can always use more than one or two or three good corners. His situation won’t affect it, but right now he’s a Ram, and we plan to go from there.”

The “today he’s a Ram” line prompted an obvious follow-up — is there a chance he’s traded from the Rams tomorrow or one of the next days?

“No, right now, I think we’re more into OTAs and let’s see if we can get something done by the end of this thing,” Snead said. “That’s where we’re at right now.”

Johnson separately spoke to reporters about his situation.

“I’m glad to be a Ram, point blank,” Johnson said. “Coming out here, it’s a privilege to play football. I’m glad I’m on the team, and I’m with the Rams.”

Does he wants a long-term deal?

“Of course,” Johnson said. “We’ve got time right now. That’s not my main focus, I’m going to let my agent handle that. In the meantime, get to know the new guys, be back with the old guys and get all of these new defenses in with the coaches.”

Either way, Johnson is saying he’d like to stay.

“Of course, I love these guys,” Johnson said. “I’m here because I love my teammates. I don’t want to leave and hopefully we get a long-term deal.”

It still seems as if all options are on the table, especially since Johnson has plenty of leverage when it comes to long-term talks. With $16.74 million already guaranteed for 2017 and quarterback money looming if he’s tagged again in 2018, Johnson can (and should) ask for a huge deal in order to commit beyond this season. The Rams also have options; they can draft a replacement, and/or they can use Johnson as bait to replenish draft picks after sending their 2017 first-rounder (No. 5 overall) to Tennessee as part of the Jared Goff trade.

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Sean Payton: Adrian Peterson’s role will be “very clear and defined”

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There was a point in his career when it would have seemed laughable to suggest that Adrian Peterson would be playing a complementary role to another back, but we’re no longer at that point.

Peterson is coming off an ineffective and injury-filled final season with the Vikings and lingered on the market for a couple of months before signing with the Saints on Tuesday. That sets him up as an alternative to Mark Ingram in the New Orleans backfield, which is a role that led to 155 touches for Tim Hightower last season.

The Saints aren’t likely to use Peterson in precisely the same way that they used Hightower and they aren’t detailing their plans for public consumption, but coach Sean Payton did suggest there’s already a vision in place for how Peterson will be used.

“I think the role will be very clear and defined,” Payton said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “It’s a tough, long 16-week season. I think that he’s someone that certainly will be able to complement Mark. Those guys are different in some ways, and yet we feel like we’ve added another quality player. It goes without saying, [Peterson is] a guy that eventually is going to be in the Hall of Fame. But I think — we think — that he’s got more years in his career, so we’re excited for that to happen.”

One possible difference between how the two backs will be used could come in the passing game. Ingram has 96 catches over the last two seasons and it has never been a strong suit of Peterson’s game, so that should factor into that clear definition once the Saints are in position to share it with the league at large.

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Titans have offers on table for No. 5, considering moving down again

AP

Titans General Manager Jon Robinson isn’t afraid of making bold moves with draft picks, in either direction.

But this time, it appears he wants to recoup a few from last year.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Titans have trade offers (plural) for the No. 5 overall pick, and are considering moving down.

The Titans made a pair of moves last year before and during the draft, trading the top overall pick to the Rams so they could acquire quarterback Jared Goff. They then traded back up with the Browns so they could draft tackle Jack Conklin.

They also have the 18th overall pick and an extra third-rounder this year, but no second-rounders after last year’s deals. Moving down would likely address that shortfall.

If they’re moving out, it’s likely somebody wants to get in front of the Jets at No. 6 in search of a quarterback. That could well be the Browns again (assuming they do the sensible thing and take defensive end Myles Garrett first overall) but there are plenty of other teams in the market as well.

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Vince Young back on the field for CFL team minicamp in Florida

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Former No. 3 overall pick and Texas hero Vince Young was back on a football field yesterday. In Florida. For a Canadian team.

According to the Canadian Press (via the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and we say that just because it sounds so awesome), Young took part in his first workout with the Saskatchewan Roughriders Tuesday, as he attempts some degree of a comeback.

“I’m just happy to be here, hanging out and laughing with the guys,” Young said after the workout in Vero Beach, Fla. “A lot of guys gave me a lot of respect and the [defensive backs] were talking noise: ‘We’re going to pick you off, V.Y.’

“We’re having a good time. I love that and I did miss that.”

Roughriders coach Chris Jones said it was a positive day for the 33-year-old who hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2011 or been employed by a a professional football team (unless you count the University of Texas) since the Browns cut him in 2014.

“I thought he did a real nice job,” Jones said. “For the first time being on a CFL field, and we threw a lot at him . . . I thought Vince had a good day.”

There are technical changes to playing on the longer, wider field with fewer downs and more players on the field, but Young said he was just trying to learn and work his way through as he tries to make the roster.

“Oh yeah, I’ve got to work,” Young said. “And me, I don’t mind doing that. My energy was good. The things I was doing at home, training and taking notes from coach, things he wanted me to work on actually paid off. Thank God I did them and paid attention.”

Regardless the level of competition, Young could still be a long shot to make a roster, but give him credit for pursuing his dream, even if this is far from the dream team he declared himself a part of long ago.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

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Does Bills G.M. Doug Whaley need to look good coming out of this draft to save his job?

The Dolphins have two defensive ends they covet in the first round.

Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett had a moving Instagram post about his White House visit.

Don’t expect the Jets to draft RB Joe Mixon.

The father of the late former Raven Konrad Reuland threw out a first pitch while Rod Carew, who received Reuland’s heart and kidney, looked on.

The Bengals would like to bolster their offensive line this week.

The Browns are willing to be aggressive in moving up from No. 12 to draft a quarterback.

Pittsburgh is looking to improve its secondary in the draft.

Air Force OLB Ryan Watson is a player the Texans would love to draft.

Here’s a look at how much the Colts’ roster has changed in the last year.

Jaguars G.M. Tom Coughlin has a history of missing in the second round.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey doesn’t know why RB Derrick Henry is missing workouts.

The months-long quarterback competition in Denver has started.

Don’t be surprised if the Chiefs draft a quarterback.

Will the Raiders spend their first-round pick on an inside linebacker?

The Chargers are looking at a couple of safeties in the first round.

The Cowboys would love to come out of the draft with a game-changing pass rusher.

What kind of linebacker do the Giants want to draft?

The Eagles may be looking at a late-round sleeper at tight end.

Former Washington QB Joe Theismann doesn’t think there’s a single quarterback in this year’s draft worthy of a first-round pick.

The Bears may be looking to trade down.

Could Miami TE David Njoku end up with the Lions?

Could the Packers pick T.J. Watt?

Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman says he might still draft an offensive tackle, despite signing two in free agency.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan has a longtime bond with Clemson QB Deshaun Watson.

The Panthers hope a quarterback or two are drafted in front of them.

Could the Saints trade the first-round pick they got from the Patriots?

The Bucs may draft a backup quarterback.

Darryl Washington has been reinstated, but that doesn’t mean he’s in the Cardinals’ plans.

Rams coach Sean McVay was finally on the field with his team.

Could the 49ers take Mitch Trubisky second overall?

Seahawks G.M. John Schneider thinks he has an offensive line with potential.

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Dontrelle Inman signs tender with Chargers

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Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Dontrelle Inman signed his restricted free agent tender with the team on Tuesday.

Inman was given a second round tender by the Chargers prior to the start of free agency. The tender carries a value of $2.746 million for the 2018 season.

Inman was free to seek contract offers from other teams but elected to re-sign with the Chargers. His tender would have entitled the Chargers to a second round draft pick in compensation should Inman left for another team by signing an offer sheet and the Chargers had declined to match.

Inman emerged as a full-time starter for the Chargers last season and caught 58 passes for 810 yards and four touchdowns. In three seasons, Inman has appeared in 37 games with 23 starts and has caught 105 passes for 1,454 yards and seven touchdowns.

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