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Larry Fitzgerald on hamstring: You just go out and play ball

Larry Fitzgerald AP

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians revealed that he’s not a fan of Thursday night games because he thinks they put too much of a burden on the bodies of veteran players.

One key Cardinals veteran would probably be happy with a few more days to prepare for the Seahawks. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was bothered by a hamstring injury all of last week before playing against the 49ers and now he’s got a quick turnaround before a date with Seattle cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.

Fitzgerald felt well enough to pick up 117 yards and a touchdown on six catches against the 49ers, although he also had a key fumble in the second half that helped sink Arizona’s shot at a victory. Fitzgerald has been limited in practice on Monday and Tuesday and will likely be limited on Wednesday as well, but said that there’s no concern about coming back to play on the injury so soon after Sunday’s game.

“I’m fine,” Fitzgerald said, via the team’s website. “It’s a division game against the division leaders. You don’t make excuses. You just go out and play ball.”

Defensive end Calais Campbell, tight end Rob Housler and linebackers Karlos Dansby and John Abraham were also limited in practice for the Cardinals.

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Broncos tender three exclusive-rights free agents

Brandon Marshall AP

The Broncos have extended contract offers to three exclusive-rights free agents: linebacker Brandon Marshall, offensive tackle Paul Cornick and offensive guard Ben Garland. The club announced the tenders on Friday.

Marshall, 25, had a breakout season in 2014, notching 113 tackles in 14 games (13 starts). He projects to inside linebacker in Denver’s 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

Cornick, 25, made six starts in 2014 — three at right tackle and three as an extra tight end. Overall, he played in 12 games.

Garland, 26, appeared in eight games as a reserve.

Teams have until Tuesday to tender contract offers to exclusive-rights free agents, players who have less than three years of service time.

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Dolphins “confident” they’ll land Suh

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With the 2015 free agency period looming, the biggest defensive fish since Reggie White could soon be playing for the team named after an aquatic mammal.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins are “confident” they’ll land Suh.  Per Salguero, the Dolphins don’t believe it’s a certainty because they believe that they’ll have competition from teams like the Raiders, Jaguars, Colts, and perhaps the Titans.  As we hear it, however, the only real competition will be the Lions, and the Lions won’t provide much competition.

Per Salguero, Suh’s target falls in the range of $102 million over six years.  Whether he gets that depends on how many other teams truly pursue Suh.  Some may kick the tires aggressively once the three-day window opens, but for now the team most likely to pony up the most cash for Suh resides in Miami.

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Bears trade Brandon Marshall to the Jets

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The Bears made good on their promise to “explore trade options” for Brandon Marshall, by trading him.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, they’ve dealt the mercurial wideout to the Jets.

The Colts and Browns had also shown interest, but the Jets make sense on a number of levels.

First, they need players. And his going to New York to tape a weekly television appearance won’t be as much of an issue when he’s already there.

The Bears were intent on getting out from under the $7.5 million guaranteed if he’d have been on the roster March 12, but at that salary and $7.9 million and $8.3 million for the following two years, he’s reasonable compared to what the top wideouts will get in free agency.

For the Jets, it gives them an established playmaker to put alongside Eric Decker, giving Geno Smith (or whoever’s playing quarterback) a better chance to succeed.

His numbers were down last year with injuries and an ineffective Jay Cutler, but he had 218 catches for 2,803 yards and 23 touchdowns the two previous years.

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PFT Live: King Dunlap, Dolphins talk with Armando Salguero

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Free agency is almost upon us and teams can begin talking to players from other teams on Saturday and it sounds like the Dolphins will be making some calls to defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald will join Mike Florio on Friday’s PFT Live to discuss the Dolphins’ expected pursuit of the top free agent in this year’s class. Salguero reported Friday that the Dolphins are confident they will land the disruptive lineman and he’ll tell us why during his visit.

Chargers tackle King Dunlap will also be on the show and he’ll explain why he chose to re-sign with San Diego rather than explore what the rest of the league might have paid him as a free agent. Former NFL safety Robert Griffith will also drop by to talk about his candidacy for executive director of the NFLPA.

We also want to hear from PFT Planet. Email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour of the show by clicking right here.

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Reggie Wayne won’t be back with Colts

Reggie Wayne AP

No one has ever played more games for the Colts than wide receiver Reggie Wayne, but he won’t be adding to his lead in that category.

The Colts announced Friday that they will not re-sign Wayne, who is set to become a free agent on Tuesday. Outside of his outsize role in the history of the franchise, there isn’t much reason for surprise at the announcement.

Wayne looked like a much lesser version of his former self on his way to 64 catches for 779 yards and two touchdowns in 2014 and became an afterthought on offense as the season wound down. Wayne ends his run with the Colts with 1,070 catches (7th in NFL history) for 14,345 yards (8th in NFL history) and 82 touchdowns and the team celebrated his career in an announcement about their decision.

“Reggie is one of the greatest men to ever wear the horseshoe, and we have been blessed to watch him play for the past 14 years,” owner Jim Irsay said. “When he first took the field with us in 2001, we knew this day would eventually arrive.  That reality is one of the things that makes pro football such a tough business.  We feel this decision is in the best interests of the team and for Reggie as it will allow him to seek a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere if he so chooses. Reggie is beloved by the Colts organization and our fans and he will always be a part of the Colts family.  I look forward to the day in the near future when our great number 87 enters the Colts Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

Wayne recently had surgery to repair a torn triceps and is reportedly unsure about continuing to play in 2015. If he doesn’t want to suit up for a team other than the Colts for the first time since college, we’ll have seen the last of Wayne after a brilliant NFL career.

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Report: Marques Colston restructures, will remain with Saints

Marques Colston, Leonard Johnson AP

The Saints released running back Pierre Thomas this week and there have been reports that they’re shopping linebacker Curtis Lofton in a trade, but they can also clear the money they need off their cap by getting players to rework their current deals.

Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reports that wide receiver Marques Colston has done just that. Colston has reportedly restructured his contract and will remain with the Saints for the 2015 season.

There are no details about the changes to the deal, which called for Colston to make $6.9 million and count $9.7 million against the cap in the 2015 season. Coming off a year that saw him catch 59 passes for 902 yards and with some foot problems in the not-too-distant past, a straight pay cut seems like a reasonable guess.

With Colston sticking around, the Saints will have him, Brandin Cooks and Kenny Stills back at wideout to go with tight end Jimmy Graham. That should leave other areas as bigger priorities once they’re under the cap and ready to add bodies to their 2015 roster.

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Three-day legal tampering period starts tomorrow

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In recognition of the rampant illegal tampering that occurs in the weeks preceding free agency, the NFL has created a three-day window for legal tampering, prior to the start of free agency.  This year, that window opens on Saturday, March 7.

Given the rampant reports of agreements in principle that emerged during a similar time span following the lockout but before deals could be signed, it was believed when the NFL launched the legal tampering process that a similar dynamic would occur.  That hasn’t happened, in large part because the NFL annually has reminded teams to refrain from announcing agreements in principle.  The NFL has even instructed teams to refrain from making actual offers during the three-day period.

Last year, the NFL tried to harmonize the concept of negotiating with the ban on actually making offers during negotiation, since the making of offers is necessarily part of the negotiating.

The version of the memo sent last year permits a team to “[s]ubmit a written summary of the club’s negotiating position,” to “[e]xpress its position as to signing bonus, length of contract, amounts of signing bonus and yearly compensation, and other items,” to “[a]djust its negotiating position in response to a certified agent’s position,” and “[e]ngage in an oral exchange of positions.”

However, the team must say that it is simply articulating a “negotiating position,” not “making an offer.”  Under the 2014 memo, no offers can be made, and no express or implied agreements can be reached.

Despite the unnecessary complexities the NFL has added to the process, the three-day window benefits looming free agents.  As one G.M. told PFT on Friday morning, the legal tampering period has helped plenty of players get paid plenty of money.

Last year, for example, news that the Vikings had re-signed defensive end Everson Griffen to a monster deal during the three-day window shocked many fans.  For the Vikings, the move was justified by the information Griffen’s agents was able to obtain during the three-day window.

This year, there’s a good chance that multiple impending free agents will do deals to stay with their current teams based on the “negotiation positions” that emerge during the three-day window.  There’s an even better chance that the “negotiation positions” in many cases will transform into an unofficial agreement in principle with a new team, to be finalized at 4:01 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

The best chance is that teams and agents will continue to keep the cards close to the vest in deference to the league’s very strong desire that the news of new players in new cities stays under wraps until the market officially opens.  Some league insiders insist it’s part of the NFL’s vision for an eventual college-style “signing day.”

While it’s inevitable that certain nuggets and/or tidbits will emerge in the coming days, the trend suggests that the only hard news will come if/when players re-up with their current teams.

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Byron Maxwell: Eagles scheme “definitely fits me”

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Cornerback Byron Maxwell is expected to be a popular man when teams are allowed to start talking to impending free agents this weekend and plenty of speculation about which team will be hottest on his trail has centered on the Eagles.

Philadelphia is in serious need of help at corner and their recent moves to clear out a lot of cap space hasn’t done anything to stop people from connecting the dots with Maxwell. Maxwell’s comments during an appearance on CSN Philly won’t slow things down either.

“Their stye of defense is very similar to what we play in Seattle,” Maxwell said. “Lot of man-press, cover 3. They allow their corners to play and get physical. Their scheme definitely fits me.”

Maxwell said he’s only heard good things about Philadelphia from the fans to the cheesesteaks. If he hears more good things from the Eagles over the weekend, he might be heading there for a heavy dose of both.

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Jermaine Kearse gets second-round tender from Seahawks

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Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse caught the pass that put the Seahawks in the Super Bowl and the team will either have him or a second-round pick to help them in an effort to make it back to the big game.

Field Yates of ESPN.com reports that Kearse has received a second-round tender from the Seahawks before becoming a restricted free agent. That sets him up to make $2.356 million next season unless another team makes him an offer that Seattle isn’t willing to match while also sending a second-round pick to the defending NFC champs.

Kearse’s overtime heroics in the NFC Championship game don’t make that a particularly likely development. The draft is thought to be a good one for wide receivers, which makes the draft pick compensation a lot to give up on top of a contract for a player with 63 catches in the last three seasons.

Even if Kearse is back, receiver is expected to be a spot where the Seahawks look to add help this offseason. There were too many moments last season when the team struggled to get receivers open and Paul Richardson is looking at an extended absence after tearing his ACL in January.

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Bengals use higher tender to hang onto Emmanuel Lamur

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A year ago, a desire to save less than a million bucks cost the Bengals a player they had developed.

They learned that lesson the hard way, but at least they learned.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Bengals have used the second-round level of restricted free agent tender on linebacker Emmanuel Lamur.

That’s worth $2.356 million, and virtually guarantees he’ll stay with them another year, as no one’s likely to give up a two for him.

If they’d have used the low tender of $1.542 million, he could have been poached without compensation, as he entered the league as an undrafted rookie.

That’s what happened to them last year, when they used the low tender on wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, whom the Browns were able to sign without giving up anything (other than a four-year, $13.6 million contract).

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Saints not expected to tender Tyrunn Walker as restricted free agent

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Defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker didn’t see a ton of playing time for the Saints last season, but he did well with what he got by recording 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 306 snaps up front for New Orleans.

It looks like he’ll have a chance to parley that into a deal with a new team. Mike Triplett of ESPN.com reports that the Saints aren’t planning to make a tender offer to the impending restricted free agent, although they would be open to a return at a price below the $1.54 million minimum tender.

That’s not particularly surprising, given the Saints’ cap situation calls for them to cut money rather than add it at the moment, but it also wouldn’t be terribly surprising if they don’t get that chance with a 25-year-old who could fit into a rotation for either a 3-4 or 4-3 team and showed improvement in his third season with the Saints.

Running back Travaris Cadet and offensive tackle Bryce Harris are the other two impending restricted free agents in New Orleans and Triplett suggests they’ll wind up in the same boat as Walker.

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Colts bringing offensive lineman Todd Herremans in for visit

Minnesota Vikings v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson is going back to his Philadelphia roots to try to fix one of his biggest problems in Indianapolis.

According to Tim McManus of PhillyMag.com, the Colts are bringing in former Eagles guard Todd Herremans for a visit today.

The 32-year-old Herremans has a few good years left in him, and the Colts need all the stability they can find up front. He said on PFT Live earlier this week he wanted to play for a contender, and the Colts certainly fit that requirement as long as Andrew Luck’s upright.

Grigson was a regional scout when the Eagles drafted Herremans in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, and both rose to bigger jobs there.

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Friday morning one-liners

Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v Green Bay Packers AP

What’s ahead for the Bills on the offensive line?

Dolphins T Jason Fox agreed to a new contract while volunteering in Haiti.

Some memories of DT Vince Wilfork’s time with the Patriots.

Should the Jets be vying for WR Andre Johnson’s services?

Making the case for WR Torrey Smith’s departure from the Ravens.

A special teams snapshot as the Bengals head into free agency.

Is WR Dorial Green-Beckham a draft possibility for the Browns?

S Troy Polamalu wouldn’t be the first longtime Steelers star shown the door.

Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins is one of the league’s top players under the age of 25.

A pessimistic view of the Colts’ chances of signing Ndamukong Suh.

A review of Jaguars G.M. Dave Caldwell’s past forays into free agency.

The Titans have some decisions to make about their defense.

The Broncos will likely be in the market for a tight end.

A roundup of Chiefs picks in a variety of mock drafts.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio called Maurice Jones-Drew one of his favorite players after Jones-Drew announced his retirement.

The Chargers kick return game needs a spark.

Who will be back at linebacker for the Cowboys?

Giants LB Jameel McClain is a finalist for the NFLPA’s Byron “Whizzer” White award for community service.

His moves since taking over personnel duties leads to a comparison between Eagles coach Chip Kelly and Bill Belichick.

Previewing the offseason moves at skill positions for the Redskins.

It’s never a bad time to watch some highlights of Walter Payton’s exploits with the Bears.

The Lions had a visit with Indiana RB Tevin Coleman.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com thinks the Packers will lose T Bryan Bulaga in free agency.

LB Chad Greenway hopes he’s playing for the Vikings and with RB Adrian Peterson in 2015.

Will TE Bear Pascoe return to the Falcons?

TE Greg Olsen’s extension could be the first of a few for the Panthers.

The Saints could look to USC for another running back.

Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson will be the grand marshal for an IndyCar race.

Saying farewell to longtime Cardinals DL Darnell Dockett.

A call for QB Sam Bradford to give the Rams the pay cut they want.

CB Perrish Cox thinks WR Michael Crabtree’s time with the 49ers is over.

The Seahawks are preparing for life without CB Byron Maxwell.

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Packers add an inside linebacker

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The Packers have said goodbye to a pair of veteran inside linebackers since the end of the regular season with Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk both getting their walking papers after long runs with the team.

There’s word that Hawk could wind up back in Green Bay at some point this offseason, but the Packers could also lose Jamari Lattimore as a free agent and started adding other options at the position on Thursday. The team announced the signing of Josh Francis, who comes to Green Bay after stops with Winnipeg in the CFL and with Wichita Falls of the Indoor Football League.

Francis finished his collegiate career with West Virginia in 2012, he was teammates with Packers tackle Don Barclay, and led the team with 15 tackles for losses. He was overlooked by the NFL at the time, but will get his chance to impress Green Bay and earn a job this offseason.

He should have more company in the coming weeks as the Packers add to their options other than Sam Barrington, Carl Bradford and moving Clay Matthews inside after giving him some time there last season.

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Victor Cruz wants Odell Beckham Jr. to watch his words

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Victor Cruz knows all about becoming an overnight sensation in New York, and has been able to channel that positively.

And he said he needs to talk to young teammate Odell Beckham Jr. about making sure it stays positive.

After Beckham went on a Twitter tirade this week about people trying to “steal my joy in life,” many were trying to interpret his words for hidden meanings. That kind of microscope is tough to live under.

I just told him to make sure he watches his words and make sure that he’s mindful of the things that he says, because anything that he says can be a headline,” Cruz said during an interview on Sirius XM, via NJ.com. “Anything that he talks about, they can take a snapshot of and it can become a headline so he just has to be very, very careful of that, even when he means well and wants to say the right things.”

“I just want him to keep a level head and make sure he keeps his family first and make sure he gets his mind right because this city and this media can sometimes swallow you whole. He’s done a good job so far, he’s a young kid and he’s gonna make mistakes and do things that he’s emotional about and things like that, but he’s definitely a good kid and he’s done a good job so far.”

Cruz has become a star in New York, and hasn’t really been bitten by the attack-dog media. Now he wants to make sure Beckham can say the same.

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