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PFT’s Week 13 picks

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All I wanted was a chance to catch MDS.  And I suddenly have it.

After going 3-1 in our head-to-head disagreements last week, I’m now five games back.  And we disagree on five games this week.  If I can pull off the unlikely-but-not-unpossible five-game sweep, we’ll be tied with four weeks left.

For all our picks for Thanksgiving weekend, scroll baby, scroll.

I was 8-6 last week, MDS was 6-8, and for the year he still leads at 113-63.  I’m 108-68.

Packers at Lions

MDS’s take: Does anyone want to win the NFC North? None of the contenders are playing like it. Two weeks ago, the Lions were in great shape to run away with the division, and now they’ve lost back-to-back games to teams with losing records. Still, I don’t trust the Packers’ defense to rein in a Lions offense with Calvin Johnson (who missed the previous Lions-Packers game with a knee injury) and I don’t trust the Packers’ offense to score much without Aaron Rodgers.

MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Packers 14.

Florio’s take:  Detroit needs to end its recent free fall.  So do the Packers.  With Aaron Rodgers most likely out, the Lions have more talent and more incentive to win.  They’ll still have four games after that to screw things up and miss the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 27, Packers 20.

Raiders at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Dallas is neck-and-neck in an NFC East race that seems destined to be determined in Week 17. The Cowboys know they can’t afford any slip-ups, and they’ll avoid one against an overmatched Raiders team.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 27, Raiders 13.

Florio’s take:  A letdown is entirely possible for the home team, with the erratic and underachieving Raiders coming to town only four days after the Cowboys scored an emotional and physical win over the Giants.  And I’m tempted to pick the upset, because losing in this spot would be the ultimate Cowboys maneuver.  But this could be the year that chances perceptions in Dallas — at least until the Panthers or Cardinals roll into town for the wild-card round of the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 34, Raiders 21.

Steelers at Ravens

MDS’s take: It says something about how bad the AFC is that the winner of this game will (for at least three days) take the lead for the sixth and final playoff spot. If one of these teams has a playoff run in them, I think it’s Baltimore.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Steelers 14.

Florio’s takeBen Roethlisberger has a 7-2 record against Joe Flacco, and a 3-1 mark in Baltimore since Flacco and John Harbaugh arrived.  More importantly, the Steelers have become the Steelers again.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 13, Ravens 10.

Buccaneers at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Bucs are playing surprisingly good football on their current three-game winning streak (and in an overtime loss at Seattle before that). But Tampa Bay isn’t on the same level as Carolina, which is playing far too well to get tripped up at home.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 28, Buccaneers 21.

Florio’s take:  It’s another potential letdown for a Panthers team poised to challenge the Saints for the division title.  The Bucs will give Carolina a tough fight and possibly win the game — but these Panthers know how to overcome adversity with a potent defense and a maturing quarterback who soon will be in the MVP discussion.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 27, Buccaneers 23.

Jaguars at Browns

MDS’s take: This is a tough one. Can I pick a Brandon Weeden-led Browns team to win a game? I don’t feel like I can. But can I pick the Jaguars to win their third consecutive road game? I don’t feel like I can. I suppose I could pick this game to end in a tie, but I’ll say the Browns find a way to win.

MDS’s pick: Browns 12, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:   The Factory of Sadness hosts a perpetually sad team that has been a little less sad lately.  I feel sad for anyone who bought tickets for this one.

Florio’s pick:  Browns 24, Jaguars 13.

Titans at Colts

MDS’s take: If the Titans win this one, they can make the AFC South race interesting. But I have a feeling Andrew Luck is going to put the Colts on his back over the final month of the season and drag them to the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Colts 33, Titans 21.

Florio’s take:  Outscored 93-12 in the first halves of the last four games, the Colts can essentially nail down the AFC South with a win over Tennessee.  It won’t be easy — and they may not go far in the playoffs — but the Colts reclaim the division, even if by default.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 30, Titans 24.

Broncos at Chiefs

MDS’s take: After giving up a 24-0 halftime lead in New England, the pressure is on the Broncos. Lose in Kansas City, and there’s a good chance that they’ll be on the road throughout the playoffs. But I think Peyton Manning will turn things around and win a big one against the Chiefs.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 28, Chiefs 20.

Florio’s take:  The stakes are high for this one, with the winner on track to secure the top seed and the loser relegated at best to No. 5.  Lost in Kansas City’s defensive collapse is that the Chiefs had their best offensive output of the year against the Chargers.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 30, Broncos 27.

Bears at Vikings

MDS’s take: Minnesota is a bad matchup for Chicago.  The thing the Bears do worst is stop the run, and the thing the Vikings do best is hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson. The Bears will hurt their own playoff hopes and drop a game in the division.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Bears 23.

Florio’s takeJosh McCown gets another crack at the Vikings, nearly a decade after he knocked Minnesota out of the playoffs in a Week 17 thriller at Arizona.  At least McCown can’t impact the Vikings’ playoff position this time around.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 24, Vikings 21.

Dolphins at Jets

MDS’s take: The Jets had a nice run, but they look like they’re on the verge of collapse. Miami is still playing competitive football.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jets 10.

Florio’s take:  It’s an elimination game, as a practical matter, between a pair of AFC East teams that seem to be trying to get eliminated.  The Dolphins get eliminated on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 24, Dolphins 16.

Cardinals at Eagles

MDS’s take: This is a surprisingly great game.  The Cardinals’ defense is playing tough, physical football, while Nick Foles and Chip Kelly have the Eagles’ offense rolling. In a close game with playoff implications for both teams, I’ll take the Eagles at home.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 28, Cardinals 24.

Florio’s take:  Former Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles comes home with a much better defense, and one of the hottest teams in the league.  Chip Kelly never saw an Arizona team like this when he was at Oregon.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 27, Eagles 20.

Falcons at Bills

MDS’s take: The CFL season is over, and now the Canadian fans get to see two of the NFL’s worst teams square off in Toronto. I’m not sure if I’d pick the Falcons to beat anyone right now.

MDS’s pick: Bills 17, Falcons 14.

Florio’s take:  It’s fitting that the Falcons will be playing in Toronto.  They’ve imploded almost as quickly and completely as the mayor.  The implosion continues.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 20, Falcons 17.

Rams at 49ers

MDS’s take: I love the way the Rams are playing tough, physical football, and I also love the way they’re finally making use of Tavon Austin’s game-changing speed. Unfortunately, they’re catching a 49ers team that looks like it’s getting all the pieces in place for a late-season run.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 31, Rams 17.

Florio’s take:   Before Niners fans get too giddy about Monday night, keep in mind that the victory came against the Redskins.  This next one will be a lot harder.  Throw in the short week and the cross-country flight, and it could be time for an upset.  And I was going to take the upset  And then I remembered that Kellen Clemens is the St. Louis quarterback, and that the 49ers can actually defend against the run.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 20, Rams 10.

Patriots at Texans

MDS’s take: New England beat Houston easily last year, when the Texans were good. The Patriots will surely beat the Texans easily now that they’re bad.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 38, Texans 14.

Florio’s take:   It was nearly a year ago that the Patriots brought the 11-1 Texans back to reality with a 42-14 drubbing in New England.  Since then, the Texans are 4-13.  The letterman jackets are in mothballs, and the coaching staff is about to get exterminated.

Florio’s pick:   Patriots 42, Texans 13.

Bengals at Chargers

MDS’s take: With Geno Atkins and Leon Hall out for the seaosn, I think the Bengals’ defense is going to be a major liability down the stretch. Look for the Chargers’ offense to put a lot of points on the board as San Diego keeps up its run toward the final AFC wild-card berth.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 34, Bengals 28.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals aren’t the same team on the road as they are at home.  The Chargers weren’t the same team at Kansas City that they’ve been most of the year.  Give the advantage to the home team.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 30, Bengals 21.

Giants at Redskins

MDS’s take: In the race for last place in the NFC East, I think Washington will get to the bottom with another poor showing from Robert Griffin III, who turns the ball over far too often and will do so a couple times against the Giants.

MDS’s pick: Giants 21, Redskins 10.

Florio’s take:  The spotlight of the national stage remains in D.C., and things are getting more and more dysfunctional.  From winning their final seven after starting 3-6 last year, these Redskins could do the opposite, starting at 3-6 and ending at 3-13.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 24, Redsins 13.

Saints at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The best game of the week, between the two best teams in the NFC, will come down to home-field advantage and will all but clinch home field throughout the playoffs for the Seahawks. Seattle is such a tough place to play that it’s hard for me to see the Saints winning there — and hard for me to see the Seahawks losing at home in the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 27, Saints 20.

Florio’s take:  The race for the No. 1 seed ends Monday night, if the Seahawks win.  It becomes a bigger “if” without Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.  But the 12th Man can fill the avoid, and the 13th Man (i.e., the weatherman) could be the difference, with freezing temperatures and the possibility of rain/snow in the extended forecast.

Florio’s pick:   Seahawks 24, Saints 17.

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Randy Gregory: “I don’t think it’s a weed problem”

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Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory admits he has problems.

He just doesn’t think marijuana is one of them.

That’s what Gregory said during an ESPN Radio interview, adding that it was his immaturity and stubbornness that were the bigger issues.

“That’s something I’ve definitely been working on and something I can definitely fix,” Gregory said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “I’m 22 years old but I think I carry myself real well and I think I need to carry myself a little bit better as far as decision making goes. I think a lot of people are getting tied up in the weed and think it’s just a weed problem. I don’t think it’s a weed problem. I think it’s decision-making. I think I’m immature. I’m definitely working on that. I want to prove everyone wrong and I want to do it with this team. I think this is the best team I can do that with.”

Gregory failed a test for marijuana at the Scouting Combine, but said he hasn’t smoked since then.

“I haven’t touched it,” he said. “I’m feeling real good, too. This is a high in itself, to be honest. I’m high on life right now, and I don’t want to lose this high.”

What he lost was several million dollars, the difference between being a first-round pick (perhaps top 10) and a late second-rounder. And he lost it not necessarily because of marijuana, but because of his inability to recognize the fact he was about to take a marijuana test at a time when he had plenty of people around him who knew it was coming if he didn’t.

So maybe it wasn’t marijuana itself, it was his inability to recognize the priority he was placing on marijuana in relation to a job interview.

And that’s not immaturity, that’s irresponsibility. If not stupidity.

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Report: Bears part ways with college scouting director Marty Barrett

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When Ryan Pace took over as the Bears General Manager, the team made a couple of changes in their personnel department but Pace said they would be reviewing the rest of the holdovers from the Phil Emery regime and beyond after the draft.

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that their review has led to a change at college scouting director. Biggs reports that Marty Barrett will not be back in that job for the 2015 season.

2014 was Barrett’s third year in that job and he’d been with the Bears organization since 1997 as a scout. Teams often hold onto members of their scouting staff through the draft when they make a change at the top of the hierarchy and then make changes after their work on the year’s rookie class is complete. The Jets and Eagles made similar changes this week and there could be more to come as organizations set their rolls for the coming year.

The Bears previously parted ways with pro personnel director Kevin Turks and released Rex Hogan from his contract to become the college scouting director for the Jets. That could be a landing spot for Barrett now that they’ve opened some spots in Jersey.

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PFT Live: Landon Collins, Kevin Colbert

Landon Collins AP

Safety Landon Collins was projected to be a first-round pick by many people heading into the draft, but he wound up lasting until the Giants traded up to take him at the start of the second round.

Collins will join Mike Florio on Tuesday’s PFT Live to talk about the experience of waiting to hear his name called. We’ll also get his early thoughts on his new team during his visit.

Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert will also be on the show to discuss his team’s draft, which slanted heavily toward the defense. Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union will be on hand to review the new additions in Jacksonville as well.

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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PFT Planet hits 3-of-5 draft props, beats the house

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The results are in, and PFT Planet was dialed in when it came to the 2015 NFL Draft.

Of the five draft proposition “bets” set by PFT, the readers were correct on three of them. Here were the winners:

Over-Under on first-round RBs: 2.5. Ultimately, 92 percent of the more than 5,500 voters selected UNDER 2.5. And indeed, only two backs — Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon — were taken in Round One.

Over-Under on draft spot of first cornerback taken: 12.5. About 61 percent of the nearly 2,700 voters sided with UNDER 12.5, which cashed when Minnesota took Michigan State’s Trae Waynes at No. 11.

Over-Under on Marcus Mariota’s draft position: 2.5. Winner, winner. Out of about 6,300 votes, 55 percent projected Mariota to be chosen first or second. And indeed, he was the No. 2 overall pick of Tennessee.

While PFT Planet correctly handicapped those props, they struggled on two of the gambles:

— A majority of readers believed the first, second or third pick of the draft would be traded. Alas, no trades came until the Chargers moved up for the No. 15 pick.

— About 60 percent of voters projected Alabama wideout Amari Cooper to be selected no earlier than No. 5 in Round One. However, he was Oakland’s pick at No. 4.

Despite those losses, PFT Planet ended up a collective winner on the five draft props. Assuming the normal house edge, where bettors have to bet $11 to win $10, PFT Planet ended up $2,732 in mythical commenter dollars.

So congratulations, readers. You beat the house this time. Here, have some buffet passes. How about some show tickets? Can we freshen your drinks?

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Cowboys give undrafted George Farmer a $55,000 guarantee

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Former USC wide receiver George Farmer went undrafted last week, but he made out OK anyway.

Farmer is signing with the Cowboys and will get $55,000 guaranteed, according to Field Yates of ESPN. That’s a very rare, and very hefty, guarantee for an undrafted rookie.

Presumably, the Cowboys had to guarantee Farmer that much money because he had several suitors as an undrafted free agent. Although the Collective Bargaining Agreement limits how much money undrafted rookies can make, teams do have some leeway in offering signing bonuses and guaranteed money to the most coveted undrafted free agents, and Farmer may turn out to do the best of any of them, other than La’El Collins, who will surely generate the best contract of any undrafted free agent if he’s exonerated in the death of his ex-girlfriend.

Farmer was considered one of the best recruits in the country coming out of high school but had a largely disappointing career at USC. Still, there’s no doubting that he’s a talented player, and the Cowboys think he’s got the potential to be worth the money, and then some.

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Rolando McClain has charges from 2013 arrest dismissed

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Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain was convicted on misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct in Decatur, Alabama last year, but appealed to have another trial in state court.

That trial was set for a May 18 start, but it won’t take place. The Associated Press reports that court records showed that prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss the charges on Monday.

There was no specific reason given for the dismissal request. McClain was accused of cursing at police officers while they were trying to clear a crowd away from a softball game in April 2013 and McClain’s lawyer argued that it isn’t clearly McClain using the offending language in a tape of the incident that has been used as evidence.

McClain signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Cowboys this offseason after turning in a strong first year in Dallas that rescued his career from the scrap heap that his 2013 arrest helped to create.

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Jimmy Clausen’s excited about reunion with John Fox

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The last time John Fox and Jimmy Clausen worked together, it didn’t work out well for either of them.

Both are hoping their reunion goes better.

Clausen said he was encouraged about coming back to the Bears this offseason, even though the coach and General Manager who resurrected his career are gone. He sat down with new G.M. Ryan Pace, Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase, and felt good about re-signing with the Bears after Phil Emery and Marc Trestman were fired.

“Obviously, if I didn’t like what they envisioned for me and the offense, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Clausen said, via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I like what they have planned for us moving forward, and I’m really excited about this upcoming season.

“I just felt comfortable with them and just wanted to come back.”

Comfort was something neither Clausen nor Fox had last time through.

Clausen was drafted prior to Fox’s lame-duck season with the Panthers, a kid the coach didn’t have a vested interest in developing since he wasn’t going to be there for the finished product. The rookie-averse Fox only played Clausen because of an injury to Matt Moore, and Clausen was pounded into the ground during a 2-14 season, a record which he wasn’t responsible for or able to prevent.

That led to the Panthers drafting Cam Newton and Clausen not throwing another pass until last season.

“I’ve seen him develop,” Fox said. “You know I’ve seen him grow, even personally and, you know, that’s what we do. Hopefully as we age we grow up some.

“So I’ve seen him grow as a football player and as a man — and I’m excited to work with him.”

Clausen’s role is important, given the way the Bears tried to get out from under Jay Cutler’s contract this offseason, including attempts to trade him on draft day. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are second-year David Fales and undrafted rookie Shane Carden, so there’s a burden on Clausen to be stable and trustworthy.

He wasn’t ready for that in 2010 with Fox, but for both their sakes, he better be now.

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Report: Patriots to release Alfonzo Dennard

Alfonzo Dennard AP

The Patriots didn’t draft a cornerback until the seventh round of the draft, which seemed to indicate they were content with the group of corners they already had on hand to compete for roles this season.

That may be the case in general, but that group is reportedly about to get a little bit smaller. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the team will release cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.

Dennard joined the team as a seventh-round pick in 2012 — he was projected to go earlier before a pre-draft arrest –and played in six games for the team last season. Four of those games were starts, but his playing time was infrequent over the second half of the season and he ended the year on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

With Dennard sliding out of the depth chart, the Patriots have Malcolm Butler, Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan back from last year with rookie Darryl Roberts joining Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain and Chimdi Chekwa as new arrivals.

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Winston’s no-baseball clause isn’t rare

Winston AP

Yes, the Buccaneers have added a no-baseball clause to quarterback Jameis Winston’s contract.  No, the presence of a no-baseball clause in NFL contracts isn’t rare.

Per a league source, the contract signed last year by Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has similar language. And it’s believed that more than 100 current contracts have a term specifically restricting a football player’s ability to play baseball.

According to another source, the contract signed in 2012 by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson does not include such language.  Whether his next deal will have that language remains to be seen.

The Standard Player Contract already contains language that prohibits a player from engaging “in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury.” Baseball isn’t specifically listed, and a straight-faced argument could be made that baseball doesn’t entail a “significant” risk of personal injury.

More importantly, the Standard Player Contract merely allows a player’s team to block such activities via legal action.  Winston’s expressly links baseball to his guaranteed money, nullifying any remaining guarantees if he violates the term.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the term can be violated in a wide range of ways, from playing in a game to attending training-camp practices to working out with players to doing anything baseball related short of throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game.

This doesn’t mean he can never play baseball. He just can’t play both. He can give up football, pay back any unearned signing bonus money, and then take up baseball.

For now, that’s extremely unlikely. But if Winston somehow ends up being the Ryan Leaf of 2015’s one-two quarterback draft class, Winston could decide in a couple of years that he really misses baseball now that he’s been away from it, that he realizes it’s his true passion, and that he’s going back.

This assumes he’s good enough to play baseball at the Major League level. If he were, that would have been the better career choice from an earnings, longevity, and long-term health and well-being standpoint.

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Seahawks scrutinized for drafting Frank Clark despite domestic violence accusation


The Seahawks used their first pick in this year’s draft on Frank Clark, a defensive end who was kicked off the team at Michigan after he was accused of domestic violence. Now they’re facing some scrutiny in Seattle.

The Seattle Times has a report out today noting that while the Seahawks claim they conducted a thorough investigation before deciding to pick Clark, the two witnesses who called police to report the incident say they never heard from the Seahawks.

Kristie Colie, who was staying in the hotel room next to one being used by Clark and his then-girlfriend, says she saw a woman who “was definitely beat up.”

“She looked unconscious,’’ Colie said. “She looked like she was knocked out, and then she started to move slowly.’’

The police report describes the victim as saying Clark punched her in the face. It also quotes the victim’s brothers as saying they witnessed Clark punch her. According to the brothers, when the victim tried to defend herself, Clark “grabbed her by the throat, picked her up off the ground and slammed her to the ground while also landing on top of her.’’

The domestic violence incident wasn’t Clark’s first run-in with the law. In 2012 he was convicted of a felony charge of second-degree home invasion. On the domestic violence charge, prosecutors allowed Clark to plead guilty to a reduced charge of persistent disorderly conduct and get off with a $250 fine.

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Texans and Saints will work out together this offseason

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The Texans and Saints are scheduled to play a preseason game at the Superdome on August 30, but the two teams will have plenty of time to get familiar with one another before it kicks off.

According to multiple reports, there will be two days of joint practices between the teams before they face off in their third exhibition contest of the year. It’s the first time the Saints have practiced with another team since 2012, but it looks like it is going to be a tradition for the Texans under Bill O’Brien.

They practiced with both the Broncos and Falcons before preseason games last summer in O’Brien’s first year as the team’s head coach. O’Brien worked for Bill Belichick with the Patriots and Belichick has also been fond of the summer work with other teams over the course of his tenure.

The two teams have held joint practices several times in the past and had a memorable session in 2009 that featured a fight between former Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey and former Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

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Caldwell hints that Jaguars are done with Blackmon

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Before the 2015 draft, the Jaguars didn’t close the door on receiver Justin Blackmon, the fifth overall pick three years ago.  After the 2015 draft, G.M. Dave Caldwell provided a more definitive assessment of Blackmon’s future with the franchise.

Via Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union, Caldwell told Sirius XM NFL Radio on Monday that the team’s decision to draft two more receivers should provide an indication of the situation.

The Jaguars added Florida State receiver Rashad Greene in the fifth round, and Monmouth receiver Neal Sterling in the seventh.  There’s a chance that one, or both, won’t make the 53-man roster.  Regardless, the message via the selection of two receivers is that the Jaguars are no longer holding a spot for Blackmon.

And for good reason.  He last played in October 2013, and there’s no indication that he has remained clean long enough to get reinstated.  There’s no indication, as recently noted by Big Cat Country, that Blackmon even wants to be reinstated.

It’s another reminder that plenty of those 32 guys about whom draft experts have been raving for the past few months will end up washing out of the league, for one or more of many possible reasons.

Making Blackmon’s situation even more unfortunate is the fact that he doesn’t lack the talent.  His brief NFL tenure includes a 236-yard game in November 2012 and 326 total yards in his first two games from his most recent — and quite possibly final — NFL season.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Alabama Spring Game Getty Images

LB Preston Brown wants to step up as a leader for the Bills.

Breaking down the Dolphins’ offensive depth chart after the draft.

Said DE Geneo Grissom of getting drafted by the Patriots near the end of the third round, “I had family members that were calling it a night and everybody was about to go to bed, and I get a phone call and I saw that it was from Foxboro. I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to cry, I wasn’t going to cry and I ended up crying like a baby.”

What will the Jets work out with DE Muhammad Wilkerson?

The Ravens are hosting an event for local youth football coaches.

Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard wasn’t surprised to see the team draft a cornerback.

A critique of the Browns’ approach to skill position players in the draft.

There will be 51 players taking part in the Steelers’ rookie minicamp.

Texans DT Vince Wilfork gave the commencement address at the New England Institute of Technology.

Plenty of competition is expected at wide receiver for the Colts.

Interest in the Jaguars draft appeared to be high for local television viewers.

S Da’Norris Searcy is settling into the Titans Defense.

Breaking down the Tulane twosome that the Broncos added at cornerback.

Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey said the team’s draft “peeled off” like they hoped.

Former Raiders fullback Marv Hubbard died at 68.

RB Melvin Gordon and LB Melvin Ingram are popular guys in Chargers camp.

The Cowboys’ faith in their offensive line informed their draft decisions.

Nick Saban dismissed any critiques of Giants S Landon Collins’s play.

Wondering if their offseason maneuvering has left the Eagles with a better team.

The results of the Brandon Scherff pick will provide the ultimate judgment on the Redskins draft.

QB Jimmy Clausen explained why he wanted to return to the Bears.

Having a bowl game at Ford Field helped FB Michael Burton land with the Lions.

The Packers hope they landed a pair of playmaking cornerbacks in the draft.

Which Vikings draft picks are good bets to play early?

The Falcons signed fullback Colin Mooney to their 90-man roster.

Panthers RB Cameron Artis-Payne is looking forward to being known as Cam, although that didn’t work out for him at Auburn because of the shadow cast by his Carolina teammate Cam Newton.

Defense was the focus for the Saints during the draft.

The Buccaneers have decided to let RB Doug Martin play out his contract this year.

Former Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly will try out for the Cardinals.

A wish for more additions to the Rams offensive line.

The 49ers officially put LB Chris Borland on the reserve/retired list.

Which undrafted rookies might pan out for the Seahawks?

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Philip Rivers says trade talk didn’t come from his side

Philip Rivers AP

With the 2015 NFL Draft come and gone, any window that ever existed for the Chargers to move Philip Rivers has closed. And now that they’re talking about a contract extension again, Rivers insists he’s not the one who suggested the idea of a trade.

Of course, there are multiple sides to every story, but looking back at this saga, it does appear more and more like an elaborate way to spark contract talks with the Chargers.

Rivers texted back and forth with an apparently skeptical Jim Trotter of ESPN, and insisted he wasn’t the originator of reports that he wanted a trade, to Tennessee or anywhere else.

“I not once, nor did Jimmy [Sexton, his agent], ever say anything about [wanting to be] traded,” Rivers said. “I don’t know what the story is. I’m here. And glad that I am. … I’m willing to listen to an extension. I am willing to play it out. What’s so wrong about that approach? . . .

“I didn’t start anything. I’m under contract for 2015. How can I comment on my future beyond that?”

Of course, Rivers did comment about his future, fairly clearly. And he did start it.

He got the ball rolling on this saga by saying he didn’t plan to sign an extension with the Chargers, and that he was comfortable going into 2015 as the final year of his deal. The suggestion was clear that a possible move to Los Angeles was a factor, and that Rivers wasn’t wild about the idea of taking his family there.

But he told Trotter over the weekend that talk about his next contract was premature.

“It’s May 2nd,” Rivers texted. “It’s not the day before free agency starts next year. It’s business as usual for me around here. Not trying to be difficult. Just feel that it’s a dead story.”


Until Rivers either gets a new long-term contract or doesn’t, and until the Chargers move to L.A. or don’t, and until they sit on Rivers with the franchise tag or don’t, there are plenty of more stories to be written about this one.

Whether Rivers thinks it’s a story or not, or contributes further to them.

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Patriots converting another quarterback to wide receiver

Devin Gardner AP

The Patriots have had pretty good luck with converting college quarterbacks, as Julian Edelman has proven to be a valuable part for them.

So why not try it again, with someone bigger and stronger.

According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, the Patriots have signed undrafted Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, with plans to make him a wide receiver.

Unlike Edelman, Gardner has legitimate NFL size, at 6-foot-4, 216 pounds. Of course, he’s also slow-ish, running a 4.65 40, which will make it harder.

But Gardner also has that leadership/work ethic vibe the Patriots dig on, so they might be able to find a role for him.

Michigan used Gardner as a receiver in 2012, but he settled in at quarterback for the Wolverines, the last two seasons.

Now he’ll get to catch passes from another Michigan man, while learning to convert from a Kent State quarterback who did pretty well with it.

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