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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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Ravens announce five cuts

Tom Nelson AP

The Ravens have announced the first of the moves they’ll have to make over the next two days in order to reach the 53-man limit.

Among the players dropped from the roster was wide receiver Tom Nelson, who was known as safety Tom Nelson during the early days of his NFL career. Nelson played for the Bengals in 2009 and 2010 after making the team as an undrafted free agent and saw action in four games for the Eagles in 2011. That was the last time Nelson played in the league, so making the move to receiver was a big leap to take in order to continue his professional career.

Nelson caught five passes for 57 yards in the preseason. The Ravens also waived wide receiver Daniel Brown, leaving them with seven wideouts on the roster at the moment.

Linebacker Andrew Bose, tackle Blaine Clausell and cornerback Quinton Pointer were also waived as the Ravens dropped to 70 players.

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Keep up with NFL cuts with our PFT 53-man roster trackers

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NFL teams are going to remove 704 players from the payroll in the next 24 hours or so, as teams have until 4 p.m. Saturday to get to the 53-man roster limit.

It’s a lot to follow. But fortunately for you, we’re here to help.

We’ll be keeping up with the action as it happens, and will continue to until teams are down to the regular season limit.

You can click the link for a list of AFC cuts, and here for the NFC.

Hit refresh often, because this stuff happens fast. And, because we’re nice enough to compile them for you.

Thanks.

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Falcons trading for Andy Levitre

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Guard Andy Levitre fell out of favor with the Titans this offseason and was thought to be on the roster bubble with Tennessee dropping to 53 players by Saturday afternoon’s deadline.

The bubble has burst for Levitre with the Titans, but, as someone may well have said at some point, when one bubble bursts another opens.

On Twitter Friday, Levitre tweeted “#RiseUp,” which is a slogan used by the Falcons and PFT has learned, via a league source, that Levitre’s post was in fact a reference to a trade that will send him to Atlanta. The compensation going back to Tennessee is unknown at this time.

Levitre came to Tennessee on a six-year, $46.8 million contract before the 2013 season and played all 32 games for the Titans over the last two seasons, but his performance wasn’t up to the expectations that accompanied Levitre from his successful stint with the Bills. Byron Bell replaced him at left guard this summer, which would have made him an expensive backup for the Titans.

He’ll move into a zone blocking system with Kyle Shanahan running the Falcons offense and should be able to mount at least a challenge for a starting job given the underwhelming current crop of interior linemen in Atlanta.

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Jay Ajayi suffered a cracked rib Thursday night

Jay Ajayi AP

Running back Jay Ajayi dropped a bit lower than expected in the draft because of concerns about his knee and now a rib injury may limit his chances of making an impact in his rookie season with the Dolphins.

Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports that Ajayi, who wound up going in the fifth round, cracked a rib during Thursday night’s preseason finale. The injury came during a good game for Ajayi, who ran nine times for 66 yards and caught two passes for 37 yards against the Buccaneers. It was a step in the right direction for Ajayi, who missed the first two preseason games while dealing with hamstring issues in August.

“I thought he ran hard,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “He made a guy or two miss, showed toughness inside, and caught the balls that were thrown to him, which is always a good place to start.”

There’s not much chance that the Dolphins are going to cut Ajayi, but his absences early in camp didn’t help him in the competition for playing time with other backup options to Lamar Miller. If the Dolphins want to go with Damien Williams, LaMichael James and/or Mike Gillislee, they could place Ajayi on injured reserve and let this year serve as a redshirt season.

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Bills to release linebacker/puncher of people IK Enemkpali

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Tyrod Taylor doesn’t have to worry about getting punched in the face, or at least as much as he did previously.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, the Bills have released linebacker IK Enemkpali, who they had in for a few weeks after he broke former Jets teammate Geno Smith’s jaw.

The Bills had some interest since coach Rex Ryan drafted him during his last year with the Bills, but they apparently decided he wasn’t worth keeping around.

While Enemkpali has some pass-rush potential, he also has problems keeping his hands to himself off the field.

In addition to his former teammate who owed him $600, Enemkpali has also punched an off-duty cop and a man who was posing as a woman named “Missy Lee” whom he met on the internet and arranged to have sex with.

And now, he has punched his ticket out of Buffalo.

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Report: Eagles trying to trade Najee Goode

Jimmy Garoppolo, Najee Goode AP

There were points this offseason when people wondered whether the Eagles were interested in trading linebacker Mychal Kendricks, but those thoughts went out the window when the Eagles signed Kendricks to a contract extension.

That guaranteed a crowded group at inside linebacker since the Eagles also have DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso and 2015 third-round pick Jordan Hicks on track to make the roster with former Packer Brad Jones and Najee Goode also in the mix. The Eagles are reportedly trying to thin that herd through a trade.

Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Eagles are trying to trade Goode before the Saturday afternoon deadline to cut the roster to 53 players. There’s no word on what they might be looking for in return, but anything more than a pick in the final rounds would be a stretch.

Goode was a fifth-round pick in 2012 and has played 18 games in three years with the team. He missed 15 games last season after tearing his pectoral muscle in the season opener.

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Report: Steelers trade punter Wing to Giants

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The news of the Giants releasing punter Steve Weatherford Friday morning came as a surprise. Now, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports the Giants have added his replacement, Brad Wing, in a trade with the Steelers.

That means the Steelers are likely going with Jordan Berry as their punter. Wing punted for the Steelers as a rookie last season.

Berry averaged 49.8 yards per punt in the preseason, about a yard better than Wing. Berry was working an overnight shift at McDonald’s a year ago in his native Australia before getting an office job in hopes of saving enough money to return to the United States and give the NFL one more try, and it appears now he’s landed an NFL gig.

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PFT Live: Jeffrey Kessler, Eagles talk with Tim McManus

Jeffrey L. Kessler AP

The NFLPA and Tom Brady scored a big win in federal court over the NFL on Thursday and we’ll have one of the key people involved on the winning side as a guest on PFT Live Friday.

Attorney Jeffrey Kessler fielded the questions from Judge Richard Berman for the NFLPA during oral arguments leading up to Berman’s decision to overturn Brady’s four-game suspension and he’ll join Mike Florio on Friday’s program to discuss the case. They’ll talk about the ruling, the NFL’s appeal and what impact the whole saga may have on future disciplinary actions coming from the league office.

Tim McManus of 97.5 The Fanatic will be on the program to talk about the Eagles with the cut to 53 players looming. They’ll talk about who will make the roster and whether Tim Tebow will be the No. 3 quarterback in Philly this year.

As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time 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 by clicking right here.

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Snoop Dogg isn’t a fan of the Tom Brady decision

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A well-established bandwagon-hopper who seems to gravitate to the Steelers isn’t happy with the court decision that makes Patriots quarterback Tom Brady available for the Week One game against Pittsburgh.

Rapper Snoop Dogg posted a video online complaining about the reversal of the suspension by Judge Richard Berman.

“Yeah, the NFL overturned Brady’s sh-t,” Snoop Dogg said. “I can’t do nothing but smoke. That’s bullsh-t. You might as well overturn all the homies that got weed cases in the league, too. If you all are gonna do that. Keep it real.”

On one hand, he has a point. The NFL shouldn’t care about players smoking marijuana on their own time — especially in Colorado and Washington, where it’s now legal. On the other hand, the substance-abuse policy is separate from the policies that applied to Brady.

Brady was never told he could be suspended for his actions. Players know they can be suspended for smoking marijuana. And that’s ultimately why Brady will be playing against Snoop’s Steelers in six days.

It’s also why Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and receiver Martavis Bryant won’t be.

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Bucs going with Kyle Brindza as their kicker

Lovie Smith AP

The third kicker the Bucs tried during the preseason is the one who will be on the roster for the start of the regular season.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Bucs will go with Kyle Brindza as their kicker. The team traded to acquire Brindza from the Lions earlier this week, and he made field goals of 55 and 57 yards in Thursday night’s preseason finale.

Last year’s kicker Patrick Murray will be gone because he missed both field goals and extra points during the preseason. Before the third preseason game the Bucs signed Connor Barth, who’d lost a 2014 camp competition to Murray, and Barth missed his first field goal try in a preseason game last weekend.

Brindza, 22, is a rookie out of Notre Dame. He punted and kicked at Notre Dame and had to go the undrafted route after struggling last season, but at least for now he’s landed a job in the NFL.

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T.J. Ward on why he was suspended: My last name’s not Brady

T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib AP

In a statement released after the announcement of a one-game suspension on Thursday, Broncos safety T.J. Ward said that he takes “full responsibility” for the 2014 incident at a Denver strip club that led to the suspension and that he’s “willing to accept the consequences” of his actions.

That doesn’t mean Ward is thrilled about the league’s decision. Through a plea arrangement that called for him to do community service, the misdemeanor assault and disturbing the peace charges against Ward for allegedly throwing a mug at a bartender were dropped and that doesn’t sit right with the safety.

“I feel it’s really unfair,” Ward said, via the Denver Post. “I’m getting punished for being accused of doing something. Not doing something, but being accused. And I’ve got to pay the consequences.”

When Ward was asked why he thinks he was suspended, he invoked the name of the Patriots quarterback whose suspension was thrown out by Judge Richard Berman earlier on Thursday.

“My last name’s not Brady,” Ward said.

There are myriad differences between the two cases and Ward’s not the first player to be suspended without being convicted of a crime, but dropping Tom Brady’s name into the conversation is an easy way to build on the stiff rebuke of the way NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wields his power that Berman issued earlier in the day.

It doesn’t look like this case is headed to federal court, so the Broncos will probably just have to play without Ward for the opening week of the season. It probably won’t be the last time we’re reminded of the eroded confidence in Goodell and the NFL’s disciplinary policies as a result of their handling of the Brady suspension, though.

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Eagles to end John Moffitt’s comeback from retirement attempt

John Moffitt AP

The Eagles were willing to give John Moffitt a chance to come back to the NFL, but he didn’t show them enough to warrant extending that chance to the regular season.

According to John Lombardo of NJ.com, the Eagles have released the former Seahawks and short-time Broncos guard.

Moffitt un-retired this summer after a two-year sabbatical from the league. When he was playing, he faced a number of drug and public urination charges, but he reportedly went to rehab to get himself back on track.

Whether he gets back to playing football remains to be seen, but it won’t be in Philadelphia.

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49ers release Darnell Dockett

Darnell Dockett AP

In the offseason, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett chose the 49ers over the Cardinals. Now, the 49ers have chosen someone else over Dockett.

Per a league source, the 49ers have released Dockett, one day ahead of the mandatory trimming of rosters from 75 to 53.

Dockett signed a two-year, $7.25 million deal with the 49ers. He earned a $500,000 workout bonus, and he has $2 million in guaranteed base salary, with offset language.

The move makes Dockett a free agent. He can now sign with any other team. And the 49ers will get a dollar-for-dollar credit, up to $2 million, on whatever he earns elsewhere.

Dockett had been dealing with a rib issue; he called it a cracked rib, and the team called it a cartilage issue. If he doesn’t quickly land with a new team, an injury grievance is possible, since players can’t be cut when they are hurt.

Either way, there’s a chance team will wait until after Week One to sign Dockett. As a vested veteran, his full base salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster for the opening weekend.

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Bucs moving on from Da’Quan Bowers

Da'Quan Bowers, Adrian Clayborn AP

Da’Quan Bowers signed a one-year deal with the Bucs just before training camp in hopes of rejuvenating his career and moving past his disappointing first four seasons.

Instead, it’s the team that’s moving on. Per Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, the Bucs plan to waive Bowers as part of their roster cuts that will be made Friday and Saturday.

Bowers tweeted a thank you to the Bucs on Friday morning.

A second-round pick in 2011, Bowers had seven sacks in four years for the Bucs. He’s played both defensive end and defensive tackle.

“Da’Quan did some good things for us last year,” Bucs coach Love Smith said early in camp. “And I know right now, he came in, in-shape and ready to go.

“He can be a good football player.”

He just wasn’t good enough for the Bucs this summer.

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Doug Whaley: I didn’t go rogue on decision to cut Fred Jackson

Fred Jackson, Sealver Siliga AP

After the Bills cut running back Fred Jackson this week, Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reported that General Manager Doug Whaley “went rogue” on the decision to part ways with the longtime member of the team and never entertained the idea of a pay cut that would have made Jackson a more affordable piece for the team to hold onto going into the season.

On Thursday, Whaley answered questions about that report. He said the decision to release Jackson “wasn’t an easy one” and that it wasn’t one that he made by breaking off from the rest of the organization.

“Let’s put it this way,” Whaley said, via the Buffalo News. “I gather information from everybody, from the running backs coach to the offensive coordinator to the head coach and the owners. I wouldn’t be in this position — especially with new ownership — I’m going to include them. That’s my boss. We wouldn’t make a decision without them.”

Whaley said coach Rex Ryan was with him when they informed Jackson of his release, but declined to delve into the reasons behind the decision other than saying it was one the team felt it “had to make.”

Jackson, who accused Whaley of being dishonest with him about his status on the team, visited with the Seahawks this week, but hasn’t signed a contract in Seattle or anywhere else.

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