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Aldon Smith will enter in-patient facility to undergo rehab

AP

As expected, 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith will undergo rehab for substance abuse.

Peter King of TheMMQB.com and Football Night in America reports that Smith will enter an in-patient facility early this week.

Which explains why his locker is empty.  Which also explains why the team has announced he won’t be playing on Thursday night against the Rams.

Many in-patient rehab programs last 28 days.  It’s unclear how long Smith will be away from the team.

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Bills bring in former ESPN exec to work on public image

AP

After the Bills fired Rex Ryan and benched quarterback Tyrod Taylor late last season, General Manager Doug Whaley held a press conference that left many feeling the franchise was being run in a dysfunctional manner.

Owner Terry Pegula took issue with that characterization at the time and it appears that the team is taking further steps to make sure that future dealings with the public don’t leave that impression.

Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports that the team has hired Gerry Matalon as a consultant to work with members of the organization. Matalon was a longtime talent executive at ESPN who worked on developing on-air personalities and will be meeting with Bills executives at the league meetings in Arizona this week.

He will work with coach Sean McDermott and his role “might also expand” to advising Whaley, although recent reports have pegged Whaley’s job security as tenuous. The team has also hired a new head of communications this offseason, so they seem equipped to put up a better front should those reports foreshadow Whaley’s departure in the near future.

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Texans will talk to Bill O’Brien about an extension next offseason

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Bill O’Brien has kept the Texans competitive without what you’d call a stable quarterback situation, or a quarterback, for the last three years.

But if he wants a new contract, he’s going to have to wait.

According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Texans owner Bob McNair said he’d talk to O’Brien about an extension after this season, which will be the fourth of the five-year deal he signed when he took over the team.

“We’ll talk to him about it at the end of this year,” McNair said. “That’s typically when we do that sort of thing. . . .

“We’ll sit down and see what he’s [O’Brien] happy with and if he wants to be extended and see how we feel.”

Whether he wants to is a reasonable question, after reports that he might have been on his way out last year. But O’Brien did the best he could to quell the speculation then.

The reality is, if he’s not in Houston, he’d be somewhere else soon. He’s 27-21, posted winning records each of his three seasons, and done so with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, and Brock Osweiler as his quarterbacks.

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John Mara on Odell Beckham: He’s the last guy I’m worried about

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In the aftermath of the final game of the Giants’ season, wide receiver Odell Beckham punched a hole in a Lambeau Field wall in an expression of the emotions he was feeling after his team was blown out by the Packers.

That led a variety of people from the team, including General Manager Jerry Reese, to say that it was time for Beckham to grow up after a couple of years filled with emotional outbursts that sometimes detracted from Beckham’s production on the field. On Monday, co-owner John Mara took a different track.

He joked that he offered the Packers $100 to fix the hole in the wall and said that Beckham is “the last guy on our team that I’m worried about.”

“He’s an emotional player,” Mara said, via NJ.com. “I think he’s going to mature over time, but I’m not losing any sleep worrying about him. He’s a prideful, motivated young man who competes at 100 percent all the time. I think he’ll mature over time.”

Beckham is entering the final year of his rookie contract, which means he’s eligible for both an extension and a fifth-year team option. Picking up the latter seems inevitable, but Mara said no talks have taken place about a longer deal.

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NFL stadiums have received an estimated $6.7 billion from taxpayers

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With Nevada kicking in $750 million to build the Raiders a new stadium, NFL teams have now received nearly $7 billion in tax money to build stadiums over the last two decades.

According to an analysis from ESPN, the total price tag to taxpayers for building new stadiums and renovating old ones has been $6.7 billion since 1997. That includes 19 new stadiums and three major renovation projects.

Not every team has received public money. The stadium the Jets and Giants share in New Jersey was financed privately, and the stadium the Rams and Chargers will share in Los Angeles is being financed privately as well.

The NFL still makes most of its money from its television contracts. But there may not be enough attention paid to how much money the NFL makes from state and local leaders who are eager to attract teams or keep teams in place, and willing to pay a lot of taxpayer money on stadiums.

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Lions G.M. on Matthew Stafford extension: We’re working on it

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Lions G.M. Bob Quinn says he has his franchise quarterback in place, and now wants to keep him in place for years to come.

Quinn said on PFT Live that Matthew Stafford, who has one year and a $16.5 million salary left on his current contract, is due for an extension.

“We’ve begun a few discussions with his representatives. These things take time. These things don’t usually happen early in April or May, but we’re working towards that,” Quinn said.

Quinn indicated that he has no doubts that Stafford is the right man to lead the Lions for years to come.

“I have a great deal of respect for Matt,” Quinn said. “I think he’s a very good quarterback that has all the leadership and off the field traits that we look for in the quarterback position, and his on-field ability I think is well-documented. His arm strength, his mobility, which he used more of this year. I think he has all those things and we need to do a better job and I need to do a better of putting more pieces around him so we have a better team around him so he doesn’t have to carry the entire load.”

The 29-year-old Stafford probably has several more good years left in him. Quinn wants those years to be in Detroit.

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Thomas Dimitroff would like both teams to get a chance in overtime

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Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff lost the Super Bowl in overtime last month, so it’s understandable if he’s a little sore about sudden death.

Dimitroff said on PFT Live that he’d like to see the NFL explore an overtime format that guarantees each team a possession, as opposed to the current format, which allows a team to win the coin toss, receive the opening kickoff and win the game with a touchdown without the other team ever possessing the ball.

“I would like to have a chance, of course, but that’s not where we are right now and I’m a big league guy so I’m supportive of where we are right now,” Dimitroff said. “Personally I’d like us to continue to discuss that. I understand coin flips. I understand when Tom Brady flipped the coin — when it flipped in his favor in the middle of the field, there’s a guy who’s incredibly special when the game’s on the line, so that’s a difficult situation. . . . We would like to have an opportunity.”

The only overtime proposal the NFL is considering at this week’s league meeting is one that would shorten overtime in the preseason and regular season to 10 minutes. But the league is constantly talking about ways to improve overtime, and it wouldn’t be surprising if another change comes at some point, one that would get rid of the sudden death format. Too late for the Falcons.

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Report: Kaepernick wants a chance to start, and $9-10 million

AP

Is Colin Kaepernick still unemployed because his asking price is too high?

That’s the suggestion in a report from Dan Graziano of ESPN, who cites multiple sources as saying that Kaepernick won’t settle for just any job.

According to the report, Kaepernick wants to go to a place that will give him a chance to start, and pay him a salary in the range of $9 million to $10 million a year. That would mean he expects a better deal than the ones free agent quarterbacks Josh McCown and Brian Hoyer got this month.

That would also mean some teams that could make sense for Kaepernick as a backup, like the Seahawks and Panthers, wouldn’t be attractive to Kaepernick because he wouldn’t have a chance to start.

Realistically, there aren’t many places where Kaepernick would get a chance to start. So if he’s limiting himself to those places, there are few options available to him.

One person we haven’t heard from is Kaepernick himself. Although he is active on social media, he rarely tweets about football and has not said anything about how much money he wants or what kind of opportunity he’s seeking. If he’s willing to be a backup and play for backup money, saying so publicly might help him get such an offer. If he’s not willing to be a backup and play for backup money, he may remain unemployed for a while.

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Dolphins, Dion Jordan seem overdue to split

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It remains likely a matter of when, not if, the Dolphins will part with former No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan.

After Monday, a move seems that much more imminent.

According to Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post, Dolphins executive Mike Tannnebaum was asked three questions related to Jordan, including his likelihood of being on the roster when the team starts voluntary workouts in April. His responses read like writing on a wall.

Jordan, 27, has not played the past two seasons.

The defensive end’s career is marred mostly by suspensions for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Injuries and sub-par performance haven’t helped stymie buyer’s regret from an aggressive trade up to draft him in 2013.

“Obviously from where he was selected to today, it’s not a move that’s worked out,” said Tannenbaum, the Dolphins’ executive vice president of football operations. “It’s pretty obvious. We’ll keep evaluating our roster and make moves when we feel it’s appropriate.”

Per Schad, on the topic of Jordan participating in the team’s April workouts, Tannenbaum said “our roster is always up for discussion.”

Jordan has played 26 career games, starting one. He’s logged 32 tackles with three sacks. Miami traded Oakland a second-round pick to move up nine spots for Jordan.

The Raiders used the second-round pick to draft now-Broncos offensive tackle Menelik Watson.

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Jed York not expecting Raiders fans to jump ship to 49ers

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Just because the Raiders will be leaving Oakland in the next few years, San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York isn’t expecting a massive rush of Bay Area fans suddenly to shed their silver and black for 49ers’ red and gold.

The Raiders fans are a unique group,” York said,” via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. “I don’t know that they’ve necessarily been loyal to L.A. or to Oakland, I think they have always been loyal to the Raiders. I think you’ll see the Raiders following them wherever they may go, and going to Las Vegas in a few years, I think you’ll see that really take place.

“So for us, I don’t think it’s a big win for the 49ers, but I think it’s a good thing for the National Football League. The Raiders have tried to get a deal done in Oakland for a decade-plus, and they were unfortunately unable to do anything, and I think Las Vegas put together a good opportunity for the Raiders to continue to have a good experience for their overall fan base wherever their fans come from.”

York cited past experience of being the lone football entity in the Bay Area while the Raiders played in Los Angeles from 1982-94. He said the 49ers didn’t see any substantial change in revenue from the departure, or return, of the Raiders to Oakland.

“Raiders fans, they’re loyal to the Raiders,” York said. “They’re very different than 49ers fans, and there’s not a ton of overlap where you would see different teams kind of go from one to another. You just haven’t seen that, and I wouldn’t expect it going forward.”

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John Elway on quarterbacks: Same old thing

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At some point, there will be some kind of definitive end to musing about where Tony Romo will spend the 2017 football season and everyone will move on to other topics of conversation when Broncos General Manager John Elway steps in front of a microphone.

That point wasn’t Monday. Elway met the media in Arizona at the owners meetings and was asked about quarterbacks, which led him to say the “same old thing” he’s been saying all offseason. He won’t talk about Romo because Romo is under contract to the Cowboys and he will talk about how much confidence the team has in Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.

“Like we’ve said, we really feel good about the two young ones that we have,” Elway said, via ESPN.com. “Trevor did a good job for us last year. Paxton was young. So the plan is to stay the course there and see what’s available in the draft. So we’ll go from there. But we like both, and Paxton was a first-rounder last year for a reason. And then Trevor came in and played very well. So it’ll be a great competition between them in the spring.”

With neither the Broncos nor the Texans showing any sign that they’re willing to make a trade for Romo, networks reportedly interested in him unable to make such a trade and no financial upside to the Cowboys releasing him, there’s nothing to suggest a change to the status quo in the near future. That may mean Elway gets to play the hits a few more times before retiring the act for good.

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Reggie McKenzie says Derek Carr to be full-go for offseason work

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Raiders tackle Donald Penn said last month that quarterback Derek Carr was already closing in on being back to full strength after a broken leg ended his 2016 season in December.

General Manager Reggie McKenzie reaffirmed that notion on Monday at the NFL owner’s meetings in Phoenix. McKenzie said that Carr will be a full-go for the team’s offseason workout program, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com.

The Raiders can begin their offseason programs on April 17. OTAs take place in May before a final veteran mini-camp in June.

Carr sustained the broken leg on Dec. 24 in a 33-25 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

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Robert Kraft would love Malcolm Butler and/or Darrelle Revis on Patriots

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When cornerback Darrelle Revis was last a member of the Patriots, comments from Jets owner Woody Johnson about bringing him back to his first NFL team led to a $100,000 fine from the league for tampering.

Revis wound up returning to the Jets ahead of the 2015 season, but he was released this offseason so Patriots owner Robert Kraft doesn’t have to worry about anyone pulling a Vladimir Putin to his bank account for commenting about the cornerback returning to New England. That may explain why Kraft was happy to do so at the league meetings in Arizona on Monday.

“I would love it,” Kraft said, via Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. “Speaking for myself, if he wanted to come back, he’s a great competitor, I’d welcome him if he wanted to come.”

There’s been other chatter about a possible reunion, but none of the people chattering nor Kraft are in control of making a deal that would bring Revis back to New England. That’s Bill Belichick’s department and it seems safe to say that he won’t be sharing any of his thoughts on that front.

The same is true of the team’s plans regarding cornerback Malcolm Butler, who has not signed his restricted free agent tender or an offer sheet with the Saints after a visit with New Orleans. There’s been plenty of discussion about how things will play out with Butler. Kraft said he has “great affection” for the corner and that his wish would be for another year in New England.

“I hope he’s with us and signs his [tender] and plays for us. … I don’t want to, in any way, take away from his rights, I want to be clear. I hope he’s with us,” Kraft said, via the Boston Globe.

The possibility of a Revis encore may be linked to how things play out with Butler as the Patriots already have Stephon Gilmore under contract. The deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets with other teams is April 21.

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Colts plan to go slow with Andrew Luck’s shoulder

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Third- or fourth-string quarterbacks usually get lost in the shuffle during an NFL off-season, their low number of practice reps dwindling as the regular season nears.

This year’s backups in Indianapolis will be busier than most.

Colts owner Jim Irsay said Monday the team plans to go slow with quarterback Andrew Luck, who is recovering from January right shoulder surgery. Luck is expected to begin throwing in the spring, but it is clear the club won’t ask of him too much, too soon.

Luck remains on schedule for a full recovery before the season begins, Irsay said.

“We are not going to be rushing him,” Irsay told his team’s website. “We are going to make sure, obviously, that the shoulder has to be ready and the doctors are going to give full approval before he starts putting real reps on it and that sort of thing.

“This is going to be a huge benefit in the long run. We really feel that he’s going to be completely healed for the season and he’s going to have a great season. Chris (Ballard) and Chuck (Pagano) have talked and we are going to make sure, if we need an extra arm in camp, as we start doing our work, we will be prepared for that.”

In 2016, Luck threw for 4,240 yards with 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 15 games. He also set career highs with a 63.5 completion percentage and 7.8 average yards per attempt.

That is despite some apparent teeth-gritting behind the scenes.

“I don’t think people realized how much he had to work to get ready to play each week,” Irsay said to Colts.com. “He really had to work hard last year, and it was very mentally draining to get ready.”

 

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Relocation profitable for owners, but it cheapens their fans

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On the evening it was reported the Chargers were relocating to Los Angeles, a San Diego police officer and his partner were dispatched to the team facility. There had been an act of vandalism; a man streamed live video on social media as he pelted the city-owned building’s doors with eggs while cursing the team.

It was quiet now.

The officer stood outside a patrol car, there to deter further disruption. He is a San Diego native, he said. Some of his family members have Chargers tattoos. He grew up attending games with his dad. Now, while working his beat, the father of two toddlers absorbed the evening’s personal consequence.

He can never attend a San Diego Chargers game with his kids.

Franchise relocation, in many respects, is good for business in the NFL. Certainly, its 32 owners profit. But the real gamble Monday wasn’t the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. It was that, with a third relocation in 15 months, the league continued to cheapen the very foundation of its business: fans.

When the Rams and Chargers moved, the other 31 owners pocketed nearly $21 million in relocation fees off each franchise. On Monday, Raiders owner Mark Davis became indebted about $11 million to each owner to swap Oakland for Las Vegas. Local revenue projections from new stadiums make such payments worthwhile.

These numbers are tangible.

In exchange, the cost of weakening the facade of fandom is far more difficult to quantify.

Teams cut players. Teams trade players. That’s part of business in the NFL. But the relationship between a club and city is packaged as something beyond that. It’s portrayed, at times, as a fabric resembling family. Home markets aren’t supposed to be cut or traded. It should be a rare last resort.

Having three relocations in 15 months doesn’t merely send the wrong message.

It screams it.

It screams that NFL owners run their franchise as a business. It screams they operate in their own interests. It screams the long-term viability of a club comes first and foremost, far more valuable than how the franchise is ingrained in its followers’ lives and traditions of their families.

This is the way it always has been in many NFL cities.

In a 15-month span, the league’s gamble was being so brazen about it.

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Jimmy Haslam: “We could trade” Brock Osweiler

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Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s the guy who had to sign off on buying a second-round pick for $16 million, so he knows what’s going on.

But like everyone else, he’s not sure if that means the throw-in to that deal — quarterback Brock Osweiler — is going to be hanging around the Browns for very long.

“We picked up a second-round pick” Haslam said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Brock could be on our team or we could trade him. There’s lots of options out there and like I said you guys should cover it with [executive] Sashi [Brown] tomorrow.”

While that might seem a startling slap in the face to the former Texans starter, the Browns have never created any illusion about their interest in acquiring Osweiler (along with a second-round pick and a sixth-round pick in exchange for a fourth-round pick), from the moment he was barely mentioned in the press release announce the trade.

But as long as he’s there, I guess they’ll be nice to him and talk like he’s actually a player and not just the guy carrying the luggage (the pick) to the room.

“We’re excited about getting the second-round pick and we’re excited to add a guy to our roster who has won games in the NFL,” Haslam said. “We now have eight first- or second-round picks in the next two years. We’re excited about that.”

What that means is so far no one’s really offered anything for Osweiler, or they’d have almost certainly taken it, even though he’s done more on the field than any of their quarterbacks of recent vintage and certainly the ones on the roster at the moment.

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