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Aldon Smith could end up in rehab this week

AP

As the 49ers, the NFL, and linebacker Aldon Smith try to figure out how to proceed after Smith’s recent DUI arrest, the outcome could be something other than a suspension.

But it could have the same result.

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that Smith could enter a rehab facility as soon as this week.  Glazer says people close to Smith are pushing him to do it.

We’re told that rehab is a possibility, but that a final decision hasn’t been made.  Having the news leak could nudge the needle toward rehab, whether that’s something Smith would have otherwise chosen to do or not.

If it happens, Smith presumably would be placed on the non-football injury/illness list during his absence.  The 49ers would then have to decide whether to continue to pay his salary of $98,800 per week during his absence.

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Davis Webb says “double-digit” teams told him he’s a first-rounder

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When discussing the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, attention has largely been focused on North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes’ former backup in Lubbock says that he’s hearing there’s room for one more in that group. Davis Webb transferred to California for the 2016 season and put together a performance he says has impressed NFL scouts.

Webb held his pro day workout on Friday and said after it was over that he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback during his conversations with teams.

“I’ve talked to a lot of NFL people,” Webb said, via ESPN.com. “And double-digit teams have told me I’m a first-round guy. Every meeting I’ve had, they’ve said I’m one of the best quarterbacks on the board.”

That’s not where most members of the draft industry have pegged Webb coming off the board, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a projected second day pick wound up landing in the first round. Webb said he has 12-15 meetings and/or workouts scheduled with teams heading into the draft and the results of those will likely be a big factor in where he winds up coming off the board.

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Isaac Rochell drawing interest from Cowboys, Panthers

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A day after the Notre Dame Pro Day workout, former Irish defensive lineman Isaac Rochell paid a visit to PFT Live to discuss his pre-draft experiences.

As to the issue that always slides to the top of the stack in the weeks before the selection process, Rochell said he has attracted the most interest so far from the Cowboys and Panthers.

Dallas definitely needs defensive players, after a mass defection in free agency. A team captain as a senior, Rochell said he’s working on his pass rush as he gets ready for the next level. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com suggests that the best fit for Rochell could be defensive end in a 3-4 system — and that he could become a starter in the NFL if he can develop the right pass-rushing skills.

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All quiet on the Marshawn front

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Eight days ago, it seemed inevitable that running back Marshawn Lynch would emerge from retirement and land with the Raiders. At one point, there was a belief that things could come to a head before the conclusion of the weekend.

Since then, nothing has happened — but for a radio interview from his agent that left the door wide open for either possibility.

It’s unclear whether Marshawn decided to press pause on the situation, or whether complications have arisen regarding the manner in which Lynch and the Seahawks will disengage. Since he remains on the team’s reserve/retired list, the Seahawks can say to Lynch “play for us or play for no one.” They also can seek trade compensation from the Raiders, or the Seahawks can just release him.

While Seahawks management may be resisting the idea of Lynch waltzing to Oakland, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, apparently speaking on behalf of the locker room, has no objection to it.

“Well, [Marshawn’s] been talking about Oakland. He’s from the town, so that’s like going home for him,” Sherman said on ESPN. “It’d be like a basketball player growing up in L.A. and saying, ‘I’m going to play for the Lakers one day.’ It’s probably something he’s always wanted to do since he was a kid, so we’ve got no problem with that.”

The Raiders surely have no problem with that, for multiple reasons. Beyond needing a running back who can move the chains and/or the needle on the seismograph, they’ll need someone who can resonate locally through what could be one or two years of lame-duck status in Lynch’s hometown.

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With trial against NFL looming, Romo schedules fantasy football convention (again)

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Tony Romo may not be doing business in Dallas come September, but he plans to be making a little money there in July. And maybe in November.

Rumor’s National Fantasy Football Convention, scrapped in 2015 and 2016, will happen in Dallas from July 14 to 16. If, you know, it actually happens this time.

“Our main goal has always been to give the fans a chance to interact with the players during a truly unforgettable experience, and after 3 years of hard-work were unbelievably excited to see it all come together this summer in Dallas,” NFFC CEO Andy Alberth said in a statement. “We’re also excited about the impact the convention is going to have on local businesses and the overall economic benefit it will have on the city of Dallas.”

Originally scheduled for 2015 in Las Vegas, the NFL allegedly pressured players not to attend, based on the fact that it was due to happen at a facility owned by a casino (but not at a casino). The event moved to Los Angeles for 2016, but it ultimately was canceled, with Romo citing “blatant and continued interference” of the NFL.

Meanwhile, although litigation arising from the 2015 cancellation failed, the 2016 plug-pulling seems to be on track for a day in court. Public records show that a trial has been set for November 6 regarding claims filed by the NFFC against the NFL and Electronic Arts.

Electronic Arts, maker of the popular Madden video game series, allegedly withdrew as a sponsor of the event at the behest of the league.

Registration for the 2017 event opens on April 15 at GoNFFC.com.

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Adrian Peterson: I will play this year, it’s about the right fit

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Free agent running back Adrian Peterson says he remains unemployed not because he’s asking for too much money, and not because teams aren’t interested, but because he wants to find the right team for him, and that can take time.

Apparently annoyed by an ESPN report that he had turned teams off with an $8 million salary request, Peterson took to Twitter and said it’s not a financial issue.

“You can’t believe everything you read or hear people,” Peterson wrote. “The last thing I’m worried about is playing ball this coming season. That will happen! It’s not all about the money as everyone is speculating here lately. You’d think these analysts spoke to me directly. When you don’t know what’s going on people will say anything to create or make a story!”

Peterson said he’s eager to go to a Super Bowl contender.

“Finding the best fit and helping a team in a major way win a championship is my main objective! I’m in no rush,” Peterson wrote.

When that will happen remains to be seen, but Peterson’s comments suggest that he’d be fine with waiting until training camps open before he finds the right team. He’s committed to playing, but he’s not committed to finding his team right away.

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After losing two in one game, Eagles seek protection for long snappers

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Long snapping is a unique skill, and few NFL teams have more than one player who can do it well. So after the Eagles lost both their starting long snapper and their emergency backup long snapper in the same game last year, they’re seeking to expand protections for long snappers in 2017.

The Eagles have proposed a rule that would prevent the defensive team from hitting the long snapper until a full second after the snap. That would allow the long snapper to snap the ball and then put his head and hands up to protect himself before anyone can touch him.

The precise wording of the Eagles’ rule proposal is, “When a team is in scrimmage kick formation, a defensive player may not initiate contact with the snapper until one second has elapsed after the snap.” Breaking that rule would be considered unnecessary roughness, a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down.

During a December game, Philadelphia starting long snapper Jon Dorenbos suffered a season-ending wrist injury. That left Brent Celek as the emergency long snapper, but Celek got hurt during the game, too. Trey Burton then entered the game as the third-string long snapper and successfully snapped a ball to the holder on a field goal.

It was impressive that Burton could do that, but the Eagles would prefer not to have to rely on him again.

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Richard Sherman: Kaepernick’s unemployment not about football

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Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman thinks Colin Kaepernick’s inability to find a team is entirely about his national anthem protest.

“There was a year Matt Schaub had a pretty rough year and got signed the next year. So it has nothing to do with football,” Sherman said on ESPN. “You can see that. They signed guys who have had off years before.”

The idea that football has “nothing” to do with Kaepernick’s inability to find a job just doesn’t carry any water. If Sherman thinks Kaepernick’s unemployment is solely about the anthem protest, then how does Sherman explain the tepid interest in Kaepernick when the 49ers made him available for trade last year, before the anthem protest? Kaepernick has undeniably declined significantly as a player since he burst onto the scene as the 49ers’ starter in 2012. Over the last two seasons, Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert have shared time in San Francisco and played approximately equally well, and Gabbert hasn’t been able to find a job, either.

But it’s also undeniable that a lot of NFL owners, general managers and coaches are conservative people who disagree with Kaepernick’s protest. It’s certainly possible that some of those people would be willing to look past Kaepernick’s on-field struggles but aren’t willing to look past his anthem protest, or his off-field political advocacy.

Sherman thinks Kaepernick is still better than most starting quarterbacks in the league.

“You don’t have 32 starting-level quarterbacks in this league,” Sherman said. “You have about eight elites, and then you have the rest of the league. You have about eight, nine elite quarterbacks. You have two or three who have the potential to be elite. And then you have the rest of the teams. So he could play and start on a ton of teams in this league. He would be a starter on probably 20 of the teams in this league. But you’re telling me that you’re going to let other guys, you’re going to pick up some of these other guys and tell me that they’re starters?”

If Kaepernick were really better than 20 teams’ starting quarterbacks, it’s hard to believe not a single one of those teams would be willing to sign him. But Kaepernick is surely at least one of the 64 best quarterbacks in the NFL, which means he should at least be able to get a job as a backup. Yet he remains unemployed.

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Eagles owner speaks out against polarized political system

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At a time when most NFL figures steer clear of anything remotely political, one owner has spoken out against the current political system in general.

In a column posted at Time.com, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie urges an end to the intense polarization that currently infects all things political, with people clinging to positions and refusing to consider the possibility that their views should be softened, revised, or flat-out abandoned.

“What I have learned from football can be applied to society at large,” Lurie writes. “Just as we intensely game-plan against an opponent in sports, we need to game plan for the reality and consequences of polarization. Extreme polarization is the opponent — not each other. A football team is made up of players from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and political viewpoints. What unites them is grit, determination, and the desire to win. They join in a common goal and do what is necessary to transcend their differences for the greater good of their team.”

The American political system currently features those qualities, but only within the confines of the red state/blue state battle that constantly plays out on each and every issue. Lurie advocates unity for one specific cause: Solving the problem of autism.

“Imagine how we would benefit from understanding aspects of the autistic brain that can include rare mathematical, creative and other cognitive abilities that may well enhance our own brain power and human potential,” Lurie writes.

Whatever challenges we face as a society, it would be useful if people with different viewpoints would find a way to compromise and cooperate. The fact that an observation as innocuous and common sensical as that would be met with cries of “stick to sports!” demonstrates just how deeply divided we have become.

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Connor Barwin: Eagles were ‘smart’ to cut me

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Connor Barwin gets it. He understands.

The veteran defensive end carried a lofty salary. On the other side of the ball, a young quarterback in Carson Wentz needed more surrounding pieces to facilitate his development.

What followed was logical.

The former Eagle said Friday that there are no hard feelings for his release. Quite the contrary, in fact. Barwin told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane the Eagles were “smart” for choosing to part ways with him as they did, a March 9 move that sliced $7.75 million off the salary cap.

“Obviously, there was a ton of money invested in the defensive line room with Fletcher (Cox), Vinny (Curry), (Brandon Graham) and myself,” Barwin said to McLane. “Now they have a quarterback that appears to have a chance to be a really, really good player.

“I wish it wasn’t the money I was getting paid, but I think it was smart to use that money and help Carson.”

Barwin, 30, spent four seasons in Philadelphia.

That’s not long enough for a city statue to be built — Paul Walker may have a better chance in San Clemente, Calif. (seriously, just watch) — but it was long enough for Barwin to leave an impression for the class he showed while on the roster and grace exhibited once off it.

And to his point, the Eagles were active this month on offense.

They signed wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith along with offensive linemen Chance Warmack and Stefen Wisniewski. Veteran Nick Foles also joined the quarterbacks room on a two-year deal.

More help for Wentz.

Barwin understands.

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Jaguars sign DE Malliciah Goodman

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Defensive end Malliciah Goodman was a spectator for most of last season.

After the Falcons waived him in early September, he remained a free agent for the season’s first seven weeks. The Seahawks then signed him for a week, waived him, and he went unsigned for another five through November. Goodman had a brief December stint with the Falcons before watching their run to the Super Bowl

This year, he hopes to stick.

Goodman signed Friday with the Jaguars. He will compete for a roster spot, although nothing will be guaranteed to him. The 2013 Falcons fourth-round pick has started 11 of 37 career games.

The bulk of that playing time came at the start of his career.

He’s played 40 defensive snaps combined in the past two years.

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Arians had surgery due to Christmas Eve hug from Fitzgerald

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Near the end of an otherwise lost season for Arizona, the Cardinals pulled off a memorable road win in Seattle on Christmas Eve. The victory triggered an overly enthusiastic reaction from receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

As explained by Kent Somers of azcentral.com, Fitzgerald hugged coach Bruce Arians hard enough to tear a rotator cuff in his shoulder.

“It’s all Fitz’s fault, he caused the whole thing,” Arians said, via Somers. “It’s going to cost him.”

The question came up of Fitzgerald getting Arians a get-well card.

“It’s going to be a get-well convertible,” Arians said. “I’m still deciding what kind.”

Arians remains in a sling. Which probably means that the convertible should be an automatic, not a standard.

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NFLPA opens inquiry of Jaguars after Tom Coughlin email

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The Jaguars hired Tom Coughlin to be their executive vice president of football operations on Jan. 9.

Since then, the NFL Players Association is known to have begun at least two separate inquiries related to the club’s front-office activity, the latest of which reportedly involves an email Coughlin sent to several players.

According to the Florida Times-Union’s Ryan O’Halloran, Coughlin requested via email for certain players under contract to report for a physical earlier this month. The union is looking into the off-season request, specifically in regard to its allowance under the collective bargaining agreement.

A Jaguars and NFL spokesman both declined comment when reached by Pro Football Talk.

This grievance from the NFL Players Association is not a total surprise, having been foreshadowed earlier this month. The NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported on March 2 there was discontent among agents and the union at the NFL Scouting Combine over the Jaguars requiring players without medical clearance to rehab at the facility four days a week.

Coughlin’s email similarly involves a request of injured players.  Per O’Halloran, player agents advised their clients to take the team’s physical as the union continued to explore the matter.

Earlier this off-season, former Jaguars defensive end Jared Odrick filed a $5.5 million grievance against the club, seeking to recoup guaranteed money. Per USA Today’s Tom Pelissero, the Jaguars contend Odrick “voided (the) guarantees by refusing checkups during injury rehab.” Odrick’s grievance has yet to be resolved, a source said Friday.

Any fallout related to Odrick’s situation is expected to be contained within the two parties.

If the Jaguars’ activity related to injured players is deemed a CBA violation, however, possible punishment could involve the forfeiture of a designated number of practices this spring.

 

 

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Oakland touts last-ditch effort as better than Vegas offer

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Yep, Oakland is making one last play to keep the Raiders. Whether it’s political cover or a viable Hail Mary pass remains to be seen.

For now, here’s what we know: Via ESPN.com, Oakland and its partners have submitted a “revised” plan to finance a $1.3 billion stadium at the site where the team’s current facility sits.

“At the end of the day this is the decision of the Raiders and the NFL,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told ESPN. “What I am confident about is, if the Raiders want to stay in Oakland we have a viable plan to build them a stadium with no upfront money from them, in financial terms that I believe are more favorable to them than the terms in Las Vegas — what we know of them.

“And then, of course, we have something that Vegas can never offer, and that’s legacy and loyalty. This team was born in Oakland. This team enjoys some of the most passionate and dedicated fans of any NFL franchise. Those things belong uniquely to Oakland.”

Those things have been a non-issue when it comes to the team’s desire to get a new stadium, which over the past year or so has centered on Las Vegas. The question now becomes whether those qualities will prompt the Raiders to slam the brakes on the momentum building toward Las Vegas and explore an offer that could, in theory, get worse once it accomplishes its objective to pulling the emergency cord in the train car.

According to the last-second offer, the Raiders and the NFL would kick in the same $500 million that they’d contribute in Las Vegas. Fortress Investment Group would loan $650 million to the project, similar to the loan Bank of America would be making to the project in Las Vegas. Also, Oakland would contribute $200 million in infrastructure improvements, with Fortress paying $150 million of that amount up front and making it back later.

“I recognize that this could be our final chance, but we have worked so hard these last two years,” Schaaf said. “We’ve put together a viable deal that satisfies many requirements that we believe is the best deal for the Raiders and the NFL. We hope that they give it full consideration on Monday.”

Getting full consideration may be the primary objective of the latest offer. That way, Schaaf and other Oakland politicians can argue after the Raiders leave that they did everything they could to keep the team, but that it was the league and the Raiders that opted to leave.

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Broncos “not pursuing” Tony Romo

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With the annual meetings beginning this weekend and the Cowboys presumably hoping someone/anyone will make them a trade offer for quarterback Tony Romo, the Broncos are doing what they can to make sure the Cowboys know that there won’t be a spontaneous offer for Romo in Arizona.

Jeff Darlington of ESPN reports that the Broncos are “not pursuing” Romo, but that they haven’t closed the door on him.

The Broncos have consistently made it clear that they won’t trade for Romo, presumably because the momentum for weeks has been pointing toward the Cowboys cutting him. One day after telling Romo he’d be released, the Cowboys changed course, opting to wait for a possible trade.

The Cowboys likely have opted to wait for the league meetings in the hopes of getting an offer. If they don’t, they’ll have to decide whether to release him before the launch of the offseason program next month. At that point, they risk Romo suffering a fluke injury while on a treadmill or in the weight room that would put them on the hook for his full $14 million salary in 2017.

The Broncos were willing to trade for quarterback Colin Kaepernick last year. The talks broke down on the question of whether Kaepernick would reduce his $12 million base salary for 2016.

The Cowboys apparently believe that Romo has some value in trade, even if it’s a 2018 draft pick based on how many games he plays and how well his new team performs in 2017.

Given the possibility that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn’t want Romo to play for the Texans, the best outcome for everyone could be a decision by Romo to walk away from the game and to become a broadcaster with FOX or CBS — perhaps with the door open on a Roger Clemens-style return during the season, if a contender loses its quarterback to injury.

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Richard Sherman says he laughs at talk he could be traded

AP

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is aware that there’s been some talk that he could be traded, but he finds it more amusing than anything else.

Sherman said on ESPN that he doesn’t buy into talk that he could be traded, although he believes the Seahawks would miss him if he were gone.

I just laugh it off, man,” Sherman said. “It’s funny to me. But sometimes people need to see you gone to realize what you had. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. But I don’t let things like that bother me. The chips will fall how they’re supposed to.”

The talk of trading Sherman started with former Browns and Patriots executive Michael Lombardi saying Sherman could be available in a trade for the right offer. Of course, every player in the league is available for the right offer, but there’s been no word on what the Seahawks would consider “the right offer” for a player like Sherman.

Sherman doesn’t sound too concerned about the possibility that he’ll be anywhere other than Seattle this season.

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