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In open letter to fans, Dan Snyder changes his tone

Washington Redskins team owner Dan Snyder is pictured before the Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys NFL football game in Landover Reuters

Redskins owner Dan Snyder hasn’t changed his feelings about the calls for him to change his team’s nickname. But he has changed his tone in responding to those calls.

In a letter to season ticket holders, Snyder softened his approach from the blunt “NEVER” he has previously exclaimed when asked whether he might change the name. Now Snyder says he understands and respects the people who view “Redskins” as a racial slur, even as Snyder believes that they’re wrong.

“I’ve listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides, and I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name,” Snyder wrote. “But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too.”

Snyder is continuing to rely on public opinion polling to support his view that the Redskins shouldn’t change their name, including one poll that showed a majority of Native Americans are not offended by the team’s name, and another poll that showed the vast majority of Americans as a whole believe the team should continue to be called the Redskins.

That, however, may be a precarious position for Snyder to stake out. After all, public opinion can change. If another poll comes out finding that 51 percent of Native Americans want the Redskins to change their name, will Snyder make the change?

Ultimately, there may not be anything that can persuade Snyder to change. Snyder says the term “Redskins” is a source of pride, both for himself and for millions of fans.

“After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins’ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come,” Snyder wrote.

So despite his softer tone, Snyder’s fundamental stance hasn’t changed: He has no intention of changing the team’s name.

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Steelers release offensive tackle Mike Adams

Mike Adams, David DeCastro AP

The Steelers have been willing to invest draft currency into offensive linemen, but cut bait on one of those investments Thursday.

The team announced they had released tackle Mike Adams with a failed physical designation, and also cut kicker Ty Long and running back Abou Toure.

Adams missed all of last season with a back problem, and never came off the physically unable to perform list. He apparently didn’t respond well to surgery, and that problem is likely what led to today’s release.

He was their second-round pick in 2012, but never lived up to his draft status, with 20 starts scattered over three seasons. His career also included a bizarre stabbing, for which his accusers were ultimately acquitted (after his blood alcohol level was measured at 0.185).

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Jerry Jones: We hope Jaylon Smith will be back for the playoffs

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New Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith will need a full year to recover from the knee injury he suffered in the Fiesta Bowl. But perhaps no more than a year.

That’s the word from Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones, who believes that Smith could be ready to go in January of 2017, in time to help the Cowboys in the playoffs. Jones said on 105.3 The Fan that he doesn’t expect Smith to go on injured reserve during his rookie season because the Cowboys will be counting on him in January.

“We will not IR him,” Jones said. “We’ll take a chance he’ll be back for the playoffs.”

That assumes the Cowboys make the playoffs.

Jones said people who have already said Smith has no shot of playing as a rookie simply don’t understand how unpredictable the healing of nerve damage is. Smith might heal faster than most people think.

“That’s BS,” Jones said. “There’s no guarantees . . . don’t put a lot in these estimates.”

The Cowboys’ head team physician also happens to be the surgeon who repaired Smith’s knee. So if any team has good information on Smith, it’s Dallas. And Jones sounds very confident that a very good linebacker will be playing in Dallas sooner than you think.

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Washington extends Jordan Reed for five more years

Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed AP

Jordan Reed is slated to remain Washington’s top tight end for years to come.

Reed, who was heading into the final year of his rookie contract, has signed a five-year contract extension that keeps him under contract through 2021.

A league source tells PFT that the base value of the deal is just under $50 million, with $22 million guaranteed, although we don’t know how much of that is fully guaranteed at signing.

The 25-year-old Reed was the team’s third-round pick out of Florida in 2013. He had his best season last year, with career highs in catches (87), yards (952) and touchdowns (11). He also had a big game in Washington’s postseason loss to Green Bay, catching nine passes for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Washington’s top two wide receivers, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, are aging veterans heading into the last seasons on their contracts. And quarterback Kirk Cousins is only under contract through this year as well. But in Reed, the player who may be their leading receiver for years to come is locked up beyond the end of the decade.

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Kelvin Beachum: I’m ready to do what I do best and that’s play left tackle

New Orleans Saints v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The Jaguars opted not to pick up the 2017 option on tackle Luke Joeckel’s contract this week, something that didn’t come as much of a surprise after they added Kelvin Beachum to the roster earlier this year.

Had Joeckel lived up to expectations as the second overall pick of the 2013 draft, the Jaguars would have had no need to sign a left tackle recovering from a torn ACL to compete with him for the job this summer. They did, though, and Beachum says that he’s getting ready to start cutting as he continues a rehab process that has him feeling very confident about what’s coming down the road.

“The knee is great,” Beachum said, via the team’s website. “It’s amazing. The staff here has done a phenomenal job of assessing where we’re at, putting a solid plan together and allowing me to do what I do best – and that’s execute and do the performance aspect to push myself. I’m feeling good about it. I’m feeling great. I’m ready to do what I do best and that’s play left tackle. … I’m looking to play 19 games this year, and that comes with a first-round bye, so whatever is needed to get that done, that’s what I’m here to do.”

The Jaguars have a four-year team option on Beachum beyond this season, something they’re unlikely to pick up should Joeckel beat out Beachum for the job. If Beachum is healthy, though, past performances would suggest he’s the better bet to wind up at left tackle when the season gets underway in September.

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Signs emerge that Dion Jordan may be nearing a comeback

Dion Jordan AP

Former Dolphins draft bust Dion Jordan hasn’t really gotten his NFL career off the ground.

But there are at least signs he’s getting closer to coming back for another shot.

Via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, the suspended defensive end was shown in some workout photos posted by his trainer, and his agent declared him the “comeback player of the year.”

The photo posted by San Francisco-based trainer Tareq Azim, included the message “Happy to announce my man @dionj95 [Jordan] will solidify his presence to the world.”

Last April, Jordan was suspended for a year for multiple failed drug tests. He hasn’t been reinstated by the league, so there are some significant hurdles for him to clear. Then, he’d need to prove he belonged in the NFL, which he didn’t do with 3.0 sacks in his first two seasons.

The Dolphins would likely welcome the former No. 3 overall pick, though they wanted to see some degree of commitment from him. The photos suggest he’s in some degree of shape, so that’s at least a start.

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Bengals tryout player held in custody in Cleveland murder investigation

during the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Huskies 27-17. Getty Images

Arizona State linebacker Antonio Longino was supposed to be in camp with the Bengals this weekend for a tryout.

Instead, he’s in jail.

Via NewsNet5 in Cleveland, Langino has been arrested for tampering with evidence in a homicide investigation.

Police found a vehicle with two bullet holes at Longino’s aunt’s house, and a search warrant was served and several bags of evidence were taken from the scene. Police sources told them it was related to an investigation of a murder that happened at the Sunny Spot Lounge. A 24-year-old man was found shot in a vehicle nearby, and died later at the hospital.

Longino is being held on $100,000 bond, pending a first appearance in court. The logistical issues aside (players were reporting for the rookie minicamp today), it’s easy to guess that his first appearance in an NFL camp might be delayed as well.

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Nelson Agholor: I need to prove I can help this team win

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:   Nelson Agholor #17 of the Philadelphia Eagles carries the ball in the third quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on January 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants 35-30.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles took wide receiver Nelson Agholor in the first round of the 2015 draft and gave him plenty of snaps over the course of the season, but, much like everything else Eagles-related last year, Agholor’s season was a disappointment.

Agholor caught 23 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown and missed three games in the middle of the season with an ankle injury that teammate Jordan Matthews says robbed Agholor of his explosiveness. The combination of injury and the overall shortcomings of the Eagles offense could explain Agholor’s ho-hum production, but Agholor knows that whatever went wrong last year has to change this time around.

“We need to win football games, and I need to prove that I can help this team win football games. So that’s what I have to prove,” Agholor said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Only people I have something to prove to are the guys in this locker room, this organization, and this team.”

The Eagles added Chris Givens and Rueben Randle as free agents this offseason, which means competition for snaps but Agholor should still be in line for plenty of time with Riley Cooper out of the picture. How long that remains the case with a regime that didn’t make him a first-round pick will come down to Agholor’s ability to make a leap in his second season.

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Seahawks add former college basketball player George Fant

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Aaron Brown #2 of the Saint Joseph's Hawks drives past George Fant #44 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Madison Square Garden on November 27, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks have a fondness for undrafted players as they had 24 of them on their 53-man roster at one point last season.

They also showed a fondness for former college basketball players who decided to make the switch to football when they traded for tight end Jimmy Graham before the start of the 2015 season. In George Fant, they’re getting one of both.

Fant finished his basketball career at Western Kentucky ranked 13th all-time in scoring and eighth in rebounding and then chose to continue his athletic career with a year on the football team. The 6’5″ Fant bulked up from 250 pounds, played 12 game and did well enough at his pro day that the Seahawks have signed him to their 90-man roster.

“We’re not sure if he’s going to play tackle or tight end, but that’s a 285-pound man that ran like 4.82 and is working out,” General Manager John Schneider said during an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle. “He has really good hands.”

The Seahawks have gone the non-traditional route to find offensive linemen in recent years with varying degrees of success. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Fant join that group if he shows well in the coming weeks.

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Russell Wilson advocates for return of NBA to Seattle

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Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, whose carefully-manicured public persona steers him away from saying controversial things (except when hawking magic water), has taken a public stance against City Hall.

Earlier this week, the Seattle City Council denied a request by entrepreneur Chris Hansen to build an arena in the vicinity of the venues that house the Seahawks and baseball’s Mariners. Via NBCSports.com, the move means that the attempt to bring an NBA franchise back to town nearly a decade after the Sonics moved to Oklahoma is dead at worst, seriously delayed at best.

Wilson pushed back with a pair of tweets. He said it’s “baffling” that this “amazing city” doesn’t have the Sonics.

“Bring them back! Seattle Loves Basketball!” Wilson said.

Wilson, who loved baseball enough in past years to participate in spring training with the Texas Rangers and openly muse about playing baseball (it’s funny how a $20 million-per-year contract can bring that stuff to an abrupt end), then agitated for a showdown.

“Let’s stand up & fight to get our team back!” Wilson said.

Strong words from a guy whose public comments typically land in the milquetoast category. So what kind of battle is he advocating?

“Let’s start a petition Seattle!” Wilson declared.

While that’s hardly a fire-and-brimstone attack, the mere fact that Wilson has waded into what has become a hot-button political issue in Seattle is definitely out of character for him.

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Thursday morning one-liners

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 04:  (L-R) Carolina Panther player Luke Kuechly caddies for teammate Greg Olsen in the pro-am ahead of the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club on May 11, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills RB Jonathan Williams thinks they can have the best backfield in the NFL.

Former Dolphins coach Don Shula’s hospitalization became a time to reflect on a legendary era.

The Patriots have a number of big contract issues to deal with this offseason.

Odell Beckham Jr.’s cousin hopes to impress in his Jets tryout.

Sports books apparently liked the Ravens’ draft class, improving their odds.

Grading the Bengals’ 2013 draft, because that’s something you can do.

Browns QB Robert Griffin III, looking a little stiff.

A Pitt DL is among the Steelers rookie camp invitees.

Local P Cory Carter is excited for the chance to try out for the Texans.

The Colts are moving DE Earl Okine to OLB.

The Jaguars will bring in 25 players for rookie orientation.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota said the team has to “keep finding ways to get better.”

The Broncos’ rookies selected their jersey numbers (why hasn’t this become a three-hour special yet?).

The Chiefs released WR Fred Williams again.

The Raiders showed some confidence in existing LBs with their year’s draft.

The Chargers are first on the G Matt Slauson tour.

The Cowboys have a guy ready to volunteer to be their veteran backup QB — Roger Staubach.

Giants first-rounder Eli Apple’s mom wouldn’t let him wear a Rolex to the draft because he was “an unemployed college dropout.”

Eagles QB Carson Wentz: Already jinxed.

Washington third-round CB Kendall Fuller will get a chance to win the nickel job.

There might be more Bears made expendable after the draft.

The Lions made some quick moves to fill out their scouting staff.

Drafting LB Blake Martinez could allow the Packers to put Clay Matthews where he fits best.

Former Vikings coach Bud Grant must have one hell of a garage, to keep having all these garage sales.

The Falcons got some Navy SEAL training and inspiration.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen: Good at football, less so at golf.

Taking a look at the Saints defense, post-draft.

Not everybody hated the Buccaneers trading up to take a kicker in the second round.

The Cardinals put first-rounder Robert Nkemdiche in a room with Tyrann Mathieu before the draft.

The Rams think they’ve strengthened their TE position.

The 49ers have been impressed with QB Colin Kaepernick’s arm.

The Seahawks signed a former college basketball star.

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Hue Jackson: Browns’ running backs are “as good as I’ve seen”

Duke Johnson, Tyrann Mathieu AP

Browns coach Hue Jackson loves what he inherited at running back.

Jackson said on 92.3 The Fan that last year’s 1-2 punch of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson are good enough that the Browns didn’t need to sign or draft another running back.

“Those two guys are as good as I’ve seen in a while,” Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “Their talent is extreme.”

So far they haven’t shown that extreme talent: Crowell carried 185 times for 706 yards and four touchdowns last season, while Johnson added 104 carries for 379 yards, with no touchdowns. That’s why Jackson is getting a lot of questions about why the Browns didn’t upgrade at the position.

“I’ve been getting so much mail or phones calls with people saying, ‘Well wait a minute, why don’t you guys have a running back?”’ he said. “I really think Isaiah Crowell is a really good running back. I think he’s going to have a sensational season, I really do.”

Crowell is 23 years old and Johnson is 22, so both players have plenty of time to improve. Jackson sounds confident that they will.

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Rams taking a look at former Auburn wideout Duke Williams

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 04:  D'haquille Williams #1 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates with fans after their 41-7 win over the LSU Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium on October 4, 2014 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Rams are going to take a look this weekend at one of the year’s more talented wide receiver prospects, who didn’t play much after getting kicked off his team in October.

According to Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register, the Rams will try out wideout D’haquille “Duke” Williams, who was kicked off the team at Auburn’s team last year.

Williams was a talented and productive player his junior year at Auburn, in which he caught 45 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns. But he caught just 12 passes last season, after being busted for a bar fight which was the final straw after other suspensions and rules violations.

He admitted at the Scouting Combine he was risky because of those off-field issues.

“If I didn’t get in any trouble, I know I’m a legit first-round pick,” he said. “But God got other plans. I’m a first-round pick no matter what, but off the field I’m a seventh-round pick. My character is a seventh-round pick. I mean, I’m just happy to be here. It’s a blessing to be here.

“Whatever team picks me, first through seventh round, it doesn’t really matter. Undrafted. Whenever I get my opportunity, I’m going to just prove to them that I belong.”

No one drafted him, but it appears the Rams are willing to give him a quick look, to see if he’s actually learned his lesson.

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Mike Maccagnan, Jason Licht join Thursday’s PFT Live

PFTLive

Our series of post-draft conversations with the guys who made draft picks last week continues on Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio.

Jets G.M. Mike Maccagnan and Buccaneers G.M. Jason Licht join the program, which gets rolling at 6:00 a.m. ET. The full three-hour show replays at 9:00 a.m. ET.

So dial us up on Sirius 213, XM 202, NBCSportsRadio.com, the NBC Sports Radio app, and/or any of our fine-to-very-fine affiliates throughout the country for one hour, two hours, three hours, or all six.

You also can (should) download the podcast at iTunes or audioBoom.

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Von Miller declares he’s “going to be a Denver Bronco for life”

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 25:  Honoree Von Miller attends the Cedars-Sinai Sports Spectacular at W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills on March 25, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Sports Spectacular) Getty Images

Having a Super Bowl MVP award in your back pocket apparently makes you confident.

But while it didn’t necessarily help Von Miller on “Dancing with the Stars,” it does extend to his looming contract situation.

Via Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post, Miller told an appreciative crowd at a promotional appearance yesterday that he didn’t envision any drama in terms of his contract.

“I’m going to be here in Denver no matter what,” Miller said. “The contract is going to take care of itself. I’m going to be a Denver Bronco for life.”

Of course, he’s not showing up for workouts, and there’s been no reported movement of a long-term deal since the Broncos used the franchise tag on their star outside linebacker. Miller did say last week he expected a deal “any day,” but that might be more of his bubbly enthusiasm than a reflection of a negotiation.

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Schneider: Seahawks will place Marshawn Lynch on retired list by June 1

Marshawn Lynch AP

Marshawn Lynch cryptically announced his retirement during Super Bowl 50 with a tweet showing a pair of sneakers hanging from a telephone wire. However, he still hasn’t officially filed the paperwork and the Seahawks haven’t placed him on the retired list.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said following the conclusion of the draft on Saturday that Lynch remains “committed to being retired.”

“He’s riding camels and stuff, man,” general manager John Schneider joked when asked if he saw a scenario where Lynch would play for Seattle in 2016.

Schneider expanded on the Lynch topic in an interview with Mitch Levy on Sports Radio 950 KJR in Seattle. The Seahawks could spread out the cap hit from Lynch’s retirement by waiting to place him on the reserve/retired list until after June 1. The $5 million cap charge could be split into equal $2.5 million shares in 2016 and 2017. However, Schneider said they aren’t looking to do that.

“If we place him on reserve/retired, then we accept that cap hit this year and we’d rather do that than do it after June 1,” Schneider said. “That’s the situation for us. We’d rather pay as we go, so we’d rather do it right now.”

Seattle prepared for life after Lynch through last weekend’s draft. They selected three running backs and three offensive linemen among their 10 selections. Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise, Arkansas’ Alex Collins and Clemson’s Zac Brooks will join Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael as the group to take over the rushing attack for Seattle in the post-Lynch era.

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