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PFT’s Week 15 picks

Dolphins AP

Last week was a good week.  But not as good as it could have been.

With a 14-1 mark through Sunday’s games and a 3-0 record in the disagreements with MDS, a Cowboys win would mean a 15-1 week, a four-game sweep of MDS, and a six-game deficit with three weeks to go.

But the team that once went 15-1 for a full season thumped the Cowboys, and the gap was only narrowed by two games.

Through 14 weeks, MDS now has an eight-game lead.

For the week, I was 14-2 and he was 12-4.  For the year, he’s 138-70.  I’m 130-78.

This week, we differ once again on four games.  All of our prognostications appear below.

Chargers at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Chargers can put a lot of points on the board, but Peyton Manning will carve up a weak San Diego defense, and the Chargers won’t be able to keep up. Denver takes another step toward home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 38, Chargers 28.

Florio’s take:  The sun won’t be shining on a night when critics will have another chance to stick the narrative that Peyton Manning struggles in the cold where the sun doesn’t shine.  A week after thrashing Eli Manning’s team, Philip Rivers and company will be reminded that Peyton’s squad currently is a lot better.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 42, Chargers 24.

Redskins at Falcons

MDS’s take: This terrible game is interesting to draft watchers and to friends and family of Kirk Cousins, but not to anyone else. Atlanta is bad, but they haven’t totally quit on their season like Washington has, so I’ll go with the Falcons.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 27, Redskins 17.

Florio’s take:  A pair of 2012 playoff teams currently are jockeying for the first pick in the draft.  The Rams, who hold Washington’s first-round selection, are rooting for their old NFC West rivals to wake up and take down Kirk Cousins and company.  If anyone actually shows up at the Georgia Dome, they may be pleased with the results.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Redskins 13.

Bears at Browns

MDS’s take: Jason Campbell and Josh Gordon can put up some points against this Bears defense, but I expect Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery, and Brandon Marshall to put up more points against Cleveland’s defense.

MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Browns 21.

Florio’s take:  Two of the best young wideouts in the NFL meet in Cleveland.  Josh Gordon will once again have a big game in a loss.  Alshon Jeffery will once again have a big game in a win.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 24, Browns 20.

Texans at Colts

MDS’s take: Injuries are killing the Colts, and I think they’re going to be one-and-done in the playoffs. But they’re still better than the Texans, who are marching toward the first overall pick in the draft.

MDS’s pick: Colts 27, Texans 20.

Florio’s take:  If it wasn’t for teams that currently are in Houston or that used to be in Houston, the Colts would be winless since beating the quarterback who used to be in Indy.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 28, Texans 17.

Bills at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Credit the Jaguars for the way they’re continuing to play hard after a lot of teams would have quit, but I think it comes to an end on Sunday, when EJ Manuel will thrive on the scaled-back offense that the Bills’ coaches are giving him.

MDS’s pick: Bills 27, Jaguars 24.

Florio’s take:  For the second straight week, the Bills visit a team that started the season 0-8.  For the second straight week, the Bills will fall victim to that team’s stunning turnaround.

Florio’s pick:  Jaguars 24, Bills 10.

Patriots at Dolphins

MDS’s take: In one of this week’s few games matching up two teams with realistic playoff hopes, the Patriots will remind the Dolphins who owns the AFC East.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Dolphins 20.

Florio’s take:  A couple of teams in the AFC East get together in a game that profoundly impacts a couple of teams in the AFC North.  The Dolphins will continue an unlikely run to January, which is bad news for the Ravens — but good news for the Bengals, who are trying to catch New England for the No. 2 seed in the conference.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 28, Patriots 27.

Eagles at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Eagles are rolling right now, and although the Vikings have been playing competitive football, they don’t have the personnel on defense to stop Philadelphia’s offense. This should be an easy win for the Eagles.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 27, Vikings 14.

Florio’s take:  The three-win Vikings have three opportunities to play spoiler.  Spoiling the next-to-last game at the Metrodome will be an Eagles team that has won five in a row and is 5-1 on the road.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 27, Vikings 20.

Seahawks at Giants

MDS’s take: The Giants’ defense couldn’t stop the Chargers last week and they won’t be able to stop the Seahawks this week. Throw in a couple of Eli Manning interceptions against a great Seahawks defense, and this game won’t be close.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 35, Giants 14.

Florio’s take:  The Seahawks make their first of two visits to MetLife Stadium.  Next time, they’ll be playing an AFC team there.  And it won’t be the Jets.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 40, Giants 21.

Saints at Rams

MDS’s take: The Saints bounced back nicely from their blowout loss to the Seahawks by blowing out the Panthers. New Orleans will win another blowout on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Saints 34, Rams 16.

Florio’s take:  Taking the Saints out of the Superdome increases the chances of beating them.  Putting them in a different dome against a so-so team decreases the chances of beating them.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, Rams 20.

49ers at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: Give Greg Schiano a lot of credit for the way he got his team to turn things around late in the season, but Mike Glennon is going to struggle against a tough 49ers defense, and San Francisco will win.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Buccaneers 10.

Florio’s take:  What once appeared to be a cakewalk for the Niners becomes a tougher task.  Tough enough for the Niners to stumble.  If Jim Harbaugh thought last week’s win over the Seahawks was a three-and-a-half-hour root canal, he’ll think this week’s game is a three-and-a-half-hour encounter at the bottom of the pile with Steelers center Cody Wallace.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 17, 49ers 16.

Cardinals at Titans

MDS’s take: Arizona’s defense will miss injured cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, but the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Titans offense still won’t be able to do much of anything. The Cardinals will win and keep their playoff hopes alive, although they look like they’re going to be the best team to miss the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 20, Titans 10.

Florio’s take:  The Cardinals make only their second trip ever to Tennessee, where they lost in 2009.  This time, they get the job done.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 24, Titans 21.

Jets at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Jets’ offense had a surprisingly effective game last week against the Raiders, but the Panthers are not the Raiders. This will be a blowout.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 34, Jets 10.

Florio’s take:  The advice given by Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to his twin brother Rex  regarding beating the Panthers consisted of this:  Get a time machine, go back to 2006, and sign Drew Brees.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 27, Jets 17.

Chiefs at Raiders

MDS’s take: Give Kansas City credit for consistency.  The Chiefs have been destroying bad teams all season long. They’ll do it again on on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 36, Raiders 17.

Florio’s take:  The Chiefs are locked in to the No. 5 seed.  The Raiders are locked in to irrelevance.  Advantage playoff team.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 27, Raiders 20.

Packers at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Packers are pessimistic about Aaron Rodgers‘ chances, and that makes me pessimistic about the Packers’ chances. Although the Cowboys’ defense is bad enough that a Matt Flynn-led Packers offense can score some points on them, the Packers’ defense is every bit as bad, and a Tony Romo-led Cowboys offense will score more.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 31, Packers 28.

Florio’s take:  Jerry Jones said there’s no one he’d rather have running his defense than Monte Kiffin.  Maybe Jones meant to say he’d rather have no one running his defense than Kiffin.  Anyone could coordinate the Cowboys defense to hold down the Packers, if they again don’t have Aaron Rodgers.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Packers 14.

Bengals at Steelers

MDS’s take: If Antonio Brown had kept his foot inbounds on the Steelers’ wild last play on Sunday, Pittsburgh would be right in the thick of the playoff race and this would be a very big game. Instead, the Steelers are all but eliminated, and the Bengals should cruise toward the AFC North title.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Steelers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals roll back into Pittsburgh with the better team and better prospects for the balance of the season and beyond.  The bigger question is whether Cincy can finally win in the postseason.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 17, Steelers 14.

Ravens at Lions

MDS’s take: The NFC North is wide open for the Lions, and yet the Lions aren’t playing like a team that wants to take it, with losses in three of their last four games even though they had fourth-quarter leads in all three. And yet I believe the Lions are going to show up on Monday night and make a statement against a Ravens team that is also fighting for a playoff spot.

MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Ravens 21.

Florio’s take:  The Ravens know how to get the playoffs.  The Lions know how to not get to the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 30, Lions 27.

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Jon Beason announces his retirement after nine seasons

Taye Diggs, Jon Beason AP

Jon Beason was caught up in the Giants’ house-cleaning today, and he has chosen to not pursue work elsewhere.

The Giants announced that the veteran linebacker was announcing his retirement, ending a career that was brilliant when he was well.

“I was able to have some success and set the pace and break records – things I never even really paid attention to until after the fact,” Beason said. “I couldn’t have scripted a better story, coming in as a first-round pick and starting in my first NFL game and setting the club high in tackles, and then breaking it every other year that I played, the Pro Bowls, the All-Pro’s, pinching myself, getting the big contract based on what I had already done; being rewarded for all that was a great feeling. I know that I’m very, very fortunate to have that moment, to have those memories of a certain period of time where I was a big deal.

“The only thing I wish I could have done — I dreamt often of being on the first team to win a championship for the Carolina Panthers. To date, it hasn’t happened. To do something first, I thought was really special and for me to play for the last expansion team, instead of following a legacy of greatness with some of the storied franchises, to do it first was something that was always on my mind. I would say that with everything, even the injuries, the ups and downs of an NFL career, that’s my biggest regret. That’s the thing that looms darkest for me moving forward, knowing that the opportunity has passed me by. It’s something that I’ll have to live with.”

Chosen in the first round of the 2007 draft, Beason helped the Panthers bridge the gap between the injury-shortened career of Dan Morgan and the drafting of Luke Kuechly.

Beason started every game his first four seasons, but since then, has had a hard time staying on the field. He played in more than five games just once since 2010. He thought about continuing, but a knee injury which landed him on IR this season was deemed too much to come back from again.

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Browns OLB Bryant indicted on felony drug charges

Cleveland Browns v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Browns outside linebacker Armonty Bryant has been indicted on felony drug charges stemming from his Christmas morning arrest after a traffic stop near Cleveland.

Bryant and then-practice squad defensive back De’Ante Saunders were arrested early on Christmas morning. Per court documents, Bryant was found in possession of adderall and oxycodone during the traffic stop. Saunders was indicted for improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle.

The Browns cut Saunders and made Bryant inactive for the season’s final two games.

Bryant’s indictment on two counts of felony drug possession came Wednesday. Bryant was previously arrested on a DUI charge the week after he was drafted in 2013. He had a career-best 5.5 sacks in 2015 after missing most of 2014 due to a knee injury.

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Aaron Rodgers appears to be recovering well from knee scope

NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 05:  NFL player Aaron Rodgers hits a tee shot during Aria Resort & Casino's 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational at Shadow Creek on April 5, 2014 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational) Getty Images

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had arthroscopic knee surgery shortly after the team’s season-ending loss to the Cardinals in the playoffs.

The operation was described as a minor clean-up procedure that isn’t expected to have much, if any, impact on Rodgers’ preparation for the 2016 season. Rodgers’ schedule for this week suggests that’s an accurate assessment.

Rodgers looked fine while making the rounds at Super Bowl 50 and is scheduled to take part in the PGA Tour’s ATT Pro-Am event in Pebble Beach, California starting on Thursday. While there’s obviously a big difference between hitting balls in a golf tournament and playing quarterback in the NFL, you’d imagine that Rodgers would find another way to spend the weekend if there was a risk of damaging the knee.

Rodgers will pair with PGA Tour pro Jerry Kelly in the tournament and his foursome will have further football flavor with Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and partner Kevin Streelman joining them for 18 holes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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Exclusive tag for Von Miller may be no more than the non-exclusive tag


As the Broncos close in on the possibility of applying the franchise tag to linebacker Von Miller, the question becomes whether they should use the non-exclusive version or the exclusive version. The non-exclusive version, which permits another team to potentially swipe the player in exchange for two first-round picks, typically costs less than the exclusive version, which prevents another team from signing the franchise player.

The answer for the Broncos could be made easier if the exclusive tag ends up being lower than the non-exclusive number.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the exclusive tender for linebackers — determined by the average of the five highest-paid players at the position in 2016 as determined after the restricted free agent signing period — is currently on track to be $14.04 million.

Last year, the non-exclusivefranchise tender cost $13.195 million. At least one estimate has the linebacker tender increasing to $14.1 million.

So how can the non-exclusive number be higher? The non-exclusive number comes from a five-year rolling average based on the cap numbers for the five highest paid players at the position and the percentage of the cap consumed by that amount. And the CBA ensures that a player given the exclusive tag will get the non-exclusive tender, if the non-exclusive tender is greater.

While the calculation of the exclusive tender won’t be finalized until April, the likelihood that it won’t be significantly more than the non-exclusive number points to the Broncos taking no chances with Miller and applying the exclusive version of the tag.

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If you see Andy Dalton’s luggage, please let us know

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 09:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals reacts prior to the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

We’re going to have to get a ruling on this one since it’s the week after the Super Bowl, but it appears Andy Dalton just committed another postseason turnover.

The Bengals quarterback tweeted out a plea for help earlier today, explaining his luggage fell out the back of his truck on his way to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The two black suitcases may or may not be somewhere alongside the highway, and he appreciates the people of Twitter spreading the word about his plight.

The poor guy has suffered enough lately, with a thumb injury keeping him out of what might have been his best chance to break his personal playoff schneid. And now, he’s headed someplace without a change of clothes.

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QBs should protect themselves, but Cam picked the wrong time

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers stands on the field during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton may have cost his team a chance at the Super Bowl by getting too aggressive on a turnover. After Dalton threw an interception in Week 14 against the Steelers, he injured his throwing hand trying to make the tackle and was lost for the season. The Bengals were 10-2 at the time of Dalton’s injury, but they went 2-3 without Dalton the rest of the way, including a loss to the Steelers in the wild card round of the playoffs. Some quarterbacks don’t try to make the tackle after an interception, and in hindsight, the Bengals surely wish Dalton hadn’t made an effort after that Week 14 interception.

It was that kind of play Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was thinking about when he explained why he didn’t jump on his fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

“I’ve seen numerous quarterbacks throw interceptions and their effort afterwards, they don’t go,” Newton said. “I don’t dive on one fumble and because the way my leg was, it could’ve been contorted in a way. OK, you say my effort, I didn’t dive down. I fumbled, that’s fine, but . . . we didn’t lose that game ’cause of that fumble, I’ll tell you that. You can condemn and say, ‘Well, he gave up’ and this that and the third. But hey, as long as my teammates know, as long as my coaches know. It’s easy for a person to nitpick and say, ‘Aw man, Cam this, he gave up.’ That’s cool, that’s fine. I’m a grown man, I can understand that. But to say some things along the lines of that, and to say it to my face, that’s extremely different.”

Newton’s explanation makes sense. Every quarterback in football is told to protect himself. Run out of bounds. Slide feet first. Throw the ball away instead of taking a sack. Avoid contact. Save your body. Coaches tell quarterbacks that. Fans and members of the media criticize quarterbacks who fail to do that. Even the oldest of the old-school football people, the guys who pine for the days when men were men, players played both ways and you shook it off when you got your bell rung, will admit that a starting quarterback sometimes has to shy away from taking a hit.

Except for one thing: This was the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, with four minutes left and the Panthers down by one score. There are certain times when we expect our great athletes to lay it all on the line, and four minutes left in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl is one of those times.

Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said on today’s PFT Live that he used to instruct Peyton Manning to avoid contact after a turnover. But not in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

“My first thought was, ‘What are you doing?’ And you don’t know what’s going through his mind,” Dungy said of watching Newton’s fumble live. “Did he think it was gonna bounce and didn’t? But when I heard his explanation about not wanting to get hurt. . . . I’ve had Peyton Manning throw interceptions in the regular season and even in the playoffs, the first series of the game. Get out of the way, don’t get hurt, we’ve all seen quarterbacks get hurt. You can’t help your team if you’re injured. But the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, when if they pick that ball up the game’s over? You can’t worry about getting hurt at that point. You’re trying to win the Super Bowl.”

Newton has been ripped by some fans as a wimp or a coward for failing to fall on the football, and that’s unfair. Newton is probably the most physical quarterback in the NFL, a guy who doesn’t hesitate to lower his shoulders and run through a defender to pick up an extra yard. Last season, Newton broke two vertebra in a car accident on December 9, and on December 21 he was back on the field, running the ball 12 times for 63 yards and a touchdown while leading the Panthers to a victory that helped them reach the playoffs. Does that sound like a wimp or a coward to you?

But while Newton’s toughness shouldn’t be questioned, his decision-making on that one play should be. Newton screwed up. With four minutes left in the Super Bowl, he should have fought for the ball.

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Eagles re-sign Najee Goode

at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images

The Eagles have been busy extending the contracts of several players since the end of the regular season and that effort has now extended to re-signing one of their impending free agents.

Linebacker Najee Goode was set to become a restricted free agent next month, but the Eagles avoided the whole tender offer exercise and signed Goode to a one-year deal on Wednesday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“It feels great just to have another opportunity to come for the Eagles,” Goode said, via the team. “I’ve been here for three years going on four, and there’s been a lot of new changes and it’s a fresh start for everybody, and after signing the new deal, it’s definitely a fresh start [for me].”

Goode was released by the Eagles at final cuts last September, but returned a couple of weeks later and played 14 games for the team. Most of his work came on special teams, including recovering a blocked punt for a touchdown in the team’s victory over the Patriots in December.

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Dannell Ellerbe restructures with Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 15:  Jacob Tamme #83 of the Atlanta Falcons is pushed out of bounds by Dannell Ellerbe #59 of the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 15, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Saints said goodbye to a couple of veteran linebackers earlier this week when they released David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber, but another one has adjusted his contract to remain on the roster.

According to multiple reports, Dannell Ellerbe has agreed to restructure his deal a year after the Saints acquired him in a trade with the Dolphins. Details about the change aren’t known. Ellerbe was set to make $4.1 million in salary that was set to become guaranteed on Wednesday if he remained on the roster and also had a $1 million roster bonus coming his way.

Ellerbe, who also took a pay cut after the trade, only played six games for the Saints in his first year in New Orleans as a variety of injuries kept him off the field for much of the season. He was also limited to one game for the Dolphins in 2014 and hasn’t played all 16 games in a season at any point during his career.

The Saints likely will do more in the coming days and weeks to create cap space. Quarterback Drew Brees is a candidate to have his contract extended in order to lessen the $30 million cap burden he carries in 2016.

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T.O. externalizes blame, again

Unknown Getty Images

For the past few years, receiver Terrell Owens has attributed negative stories and attitude about him to a bias against him in the media. When confronted with concrete examples of misbehavior that helped shape his reputation, Owens always has an excuse unrelated to the notion that he engaged in misbehavior.

That attitude has been on display during a Wednesday ESPN car wash with fellow former receiver Chad Johnson. The appearance comes days after Owens was snubbed by the Hall of Fame, with signs pointing to Owens being overlooked due to his interpersonal skills, or lack thereof.

Before going any farther, I firmly believe that Owens should have made it in on the first ballot, and that he deserved the spot over Marvin Harrison. I also believe that, for a guy who claims to not care about not getting in, he seems to be a lot more bothered about the situation than someone who couldn’t care less should be.

Referring to the voters as “pencil pushers,” Owens expressed disdain for a process that eventually will get him in the Hall of Fame after knocking on the door once or twice or three times. (If he keeps openly complaining about the process and the voters, bet the over.)

Regardless, he should have gotten in. Yes, he was a pain in the butt. Yes, there was an element at times of malice and chronic discontent. But, yes, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Rice, Owens, Moss or Rice, Moss, Owens are the top three wideouts in NFL history.

Whatever the stated reason for letting Harrison get in before Owens, the notion of disruption becomes a convenient excuse for the de facto waiting list. And whatever Owens says about whatever it is that he did or didn’t do, it’s clear that he’s getting in — it’s just a question of when.

Meanwhile, both Owens and Johnson repeatedly lamented the absence of social media during their careers, explaining that if they had access to Twitter while playing they could have shaped the narrative and explained themselves without the filter of the media.

But here’s the thing. Owens and Johnson presume that they would have used social media in a way that would have resulted in the fans automatically seeing their side of things and in turn viewing them more favorably. The truth more likely is that they would have used social media in a way that would have made a pair of polarizing players even more polarizing, simultaneously preaching to the choir while further alienating their enemies.

Despite Owens’ effort (intentionally or not) to alienate the voters, Owens eventually will get in to the Hall of Fame. And despite his incessant, tiring “it’s not me, it’s you” routine, I still think he already should be on track for a bronze bust, a gold jacket, and a Ring of Excellence.

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Will Beatty out for Giants too

during the first quarter in a game at LP Field on December 7, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. Getty Images

The Giants are parting ways with several veterans who suffered season-ending injuries in 2015.

Guard Geoff Schwartz and linebacker Jon Beason were informed that they won’t be back with the team next season. Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports was the first to report that left tackle Will Beatty has been added to the list as well.

Beatty tore his pectoral while lifting weights in May and was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return at the start of the season. He never made it back, however, and had shoulder surgery near the end of the year to compound his injury issues.

Beatty, who spent four years as the team’s starter on the left side of the offensive line, was set to make $6.625 million in 2016 with a cap hit of over $9.1 million. The Giants will get over $4.1 million of that back if Beatty is deemed a pre-June 1 cut and Dan Graziano of reports that neither he nor Schwartz was approached about taking a pay cut.

Last year’s first-round pick Ereck Flowers took over for Beatty in 2015 and will likely remain there while the Giants address the right side of the offensive line this offseason.

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Giants releasing Schwartz, Beason

Odell Beckham Jr. AP

The Giants plan to release veteran offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz and linebacker Jon Beason, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported Wednesday.

Beason and Schwartz both signed big contracts with the Giants before the 2014 season. The Giants had acquired Beason in an Oct. 2013 trade with the Panthers.

Injuries limited Beason to four games in 2014 and five in 2015. Beason, 31, hasn’t played a full season since 2010.

Schwartz was limited to two games in 2014 at right tackle due to injury. He started 11 games at guard last season.

The Giants save about $6 million in cap space by releasing Beason and about $3 million with Schwartz’s release.

Schwartz will be 30 this summer. His younger brother, Mitchell Schwartz, will also be a free agent if he doesn’t strike a deal with the Browns over the next four weeks.

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Bruce Irvin prepares to cash in on open market


Last year, the Seahawks could have exercised the fifth-year option on Bruce Irvin’s rookie contract. They didn’t.

With Super Bowl 50 placing an even greater premium on pass rushers, it means that Irvin will soon be leaving Seattle.

Barring a new contract or the use of the franchise tag (both of which are believed to be highly unlikely at this point), Irvin will sign elsewhere — on a deal that easily will surpass $10 million annually.

Irvin’s ability to get after the pass comes during a free-agency cycle with not many quality pass rushers even available. Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon is the other big name to watch.

A first-round pick in 2012, Irvin had eight sacks as a rookie. Last year, in a contract year, he had 5.5.

Still, the 2016 free-agent pickings are slim. And Irvin is in the right place at the right time. And it’s safe to say at this point that someone will pay him, possibly more than he deserves.

Regardless of whether Irvin deserves it, he’s going to get it. Because teams are going to make getting after the quarterback a huge priority.

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Watching Michael Oher slide underscores Levi’s turf woes

HockeyRinkGetty Getty Images

There have been varying reports on the quality of the turf at Levi’s Stadium for Super Bowl 50.

But it’s obvious that there were times it affected the quality of play.

In a video clip posted by Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Panthers left tackle Michael Oher appears to be on skates, unable to do anything but slide backward under pass rush.

To his credit, Oher kept the play blocked, allowing Cam Newton plenty of time to get a pass off.

But the extreme lack of traction he showed can only be explained by a few things. One of them — that Oher was wearing curling shoes — seems unlikely. The other — a surface not conducive to football — seems more likely.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera was playing nice in the aftermath, saying the surface was “outstanding.”

But Rivera is gracious like that, and saying that his team didn’t have any problems with the turf isn’t backed up by the image of Oher gliding gracefully backward like Dorothy Hamill.

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wasn’t afraid to call it “terrible,” and it’s likely that Oher would probably agree. The 49ers have had plenty of problems growing grass, and it appears the NFL isn’t faring any better there.

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Casey Hayward “probably” hitting open market

505348432 Getty Images

The Packers drafted a pair of cornerbacks early in the 2015 draft, which may contribute to Casey Hayward playing elsewhere in 2016.

Hayward is set to become a free agent next month and the 2012 second-round pick thinks that chances are good that he won’t resign with Green Bay before the new league year starts on March 9.

“They normally wait til closer to the deadline,” Hayward told Rob Demovsky of in a text message. “But we shall see. I’ll probably hit the market.”

Hayward started 11 regular season games and both playoff games for the Packers while spending most of his time in the slot. Damarious Randall, the first-round pick last year, and Sam Shields profile as the starting outside corners with Quinten Rollins, 2015’s second-rounder, an option to move into the inside role should Hayward move on to another club.

Hayward didn’t have an interception in 2015, but helped the Packers hold opposing offenses to the league’s lowest completion percentage when throwing to slot receivers. That should make for a good market if he and the Packers can’t agree on a contract before the start of free agency.

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Lynn Swann should tread lightly when talking about Hall of Fame qualifications


Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann makes a good point about the Hall of Fame credentials of Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Megatron simply may not have done enough in nine NFL seasons to earn a spot in Canton. By making the case against Johnson, however, Swann opens himself up for questions about his own spot in the Hall of Fame.

There’s no way the bronze bust will disintegrate, but that doesn’t mean folks can’t ask how Swann made it and argue that he shouldn’t have. Ultimately, he made it for two reasons: team accomplishments and his performance in Super Bowl X. So when Swann says Johnson doesn’t have the team accomplishments to get in, Swann is boosting his own presence by pointing out that it’s more about team achievements than individuals ones.

Indeed, if it’s about individual achievements, Swann has no business being there. He’s 222nd on the all-time receiving yardage list, via Pro Football Reference.

Not 22nd. Two hundred and 22nd.

The knee-jerk response will be this: The game has changed dramatically since then, allowing plenty of more modern players to pass him by. It’s a fair point, until considering the list.

The guy at 221, Jerry Smith with 5,496 yards, played from 1965-77. Chris Burford at 219 played from 1960-67. Ray Renfro at 218 played from 1952-63.

How about Max Speedie at 209? He generated 5,602 yards from 1946-52. Danny Abramowicz at 201 played from 1967-74. Gail Cogdill at 198 played from 1960-70.

Calvin Johnson is at 27, with 11,619 yards. That’s well over twice the amount that Swann generated for his career. And if Calvin Johnson had played for the Steelers of the ’70s, he’d easily be in the Hall of Fame.

Johnson may not make it as a Lion. But Swann probably shouldn’t have made it as a Steeler.

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