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Riley Cooper wants to re-sign with Eagles

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For a time this summer, it looked like wide receiver Riley Cooper might not be a member of the Eagles for the 2013 season.

In the immediate aftermath of the release of a video of Cooper using a racial slur at a concert, there were team meetings with angry teammates and Cooper spent a few days away from the team before returning to work. There were flareups after that, but things have been publicly calm during the season and Cooper has proven to be an important member of the offense.

He’s caught 37 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns and has played particularly well with Nick Foles, two things that have been vital to the Eagles with Jeremy Maclin out of the lineup. Cooper is set to become a free agent after the season, but said Thursday that he’d like to stay in Philly.

“I want to be back here,” Cooper said, via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Everyone around here knows that I love the scheme. I think I fit in it well with the bubble screens and the stuff that we do with blocking and being a bigger guy and a bigger target.”

McLane quoted an executive from another team saying that he thought Cooper’s use of the racial slur could impact the market for him in free agency, although he added that his feelings didn’t mean his team wouldn’t pursue Cooper on the open market. The Eagles have a decision to make about Maclin as well this offseason, but Cooper’s play this year has certainly made a strong case for keeping him in town far longer than it appeared he’d stay in early August.

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Cardell Hayes indicted for second-degree murder of Will Smith

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 17:   Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints  during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 17, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The man who shot former Saints defensive end Will Smith has been indicted on murder and attempted murder charges by a grand jury in New Orleans.

Cardell Hayes was indicted on Thursday while a probable cause hearing was going on in a separate courtroom. That hearing was being held to determine if there was reason to charge Hayes, so the news of the indictment obviously interrupted those proceedings.

Hayes was indicted on second-degree murder for shooting Smith and on second-degree attempted murder for shooting Smith’s widow Racquel, who was hospitalized and attended Smith’s funeral in a wheelchair as a result of her injuries.

Hayes has been jailed since the April 9 shooting, which took place after Hayes’ car allegedly rear-ended Smith’s car. An argument ensued, followed by gunshots that the Orleans Parish coroner said left Smith shot once in the chest and seven times in the back. Hayes’ lawyers don’t dispute Hayes fired those shots, but have argued that their client is “legally not guilty” of murder.

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Seahawks make moves in case they trade out of first again

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 17:  Phillip Gaines #23 of the Kansas City Chiefs tackles Brandon Williams #86 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on August 17, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Carolina won 28-16.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks actually have a first-round pick this year, at least for the moment.

But they’ve covered themselves with some transactions, just in case they end up not using it again.

The team announced they had signed former Panthers tight end Brandon Williams and former Saints defensive end Tavaris Barnes.

Williams is the accomplished one of the pair, having caught four passes in parts of three seasons with the Panthers, but he finished the year with the Dolphins.

The Seahawks pick 26th overall, but they’ve traded down the last four seasons and out of the first round altogether the last three years, so these might be the only guys they end up adding today.

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Chargers say they’ve been locked in on one player all along

Tom Telesco AP

With the Rams and Eagles set to take Jared Goff and Carson Wentz with the first two picks in the draft, the real intrigue starts at No. 3. But for all the talk that the Chargers have plenty of options with the third pick, they say they’ve always known which prospect they like best.

Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco told Brit McHenry of ESPN that he has been locked in on one player all along.

What we don’t know is who that player is. The hot name is Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, but various mock drafts have the Chargers taking Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey or Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner.

Telesco also said there’s a real possibility the Chargers could trade down, but he doesn’t want to move down too far. So if another team with a Top 10 pick is willing to give up a lot to move up to No. 3, Telesco will take that call. If not, the Chargers will take the player they identified as their pick long ago.

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Report: Reggie Ragland flagged for enlarged aorta

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 31:  Linebacker Reggie Ragland #19 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after stopping the Michigan State Spartans on third down in the first quarter during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland pops up in the first round of most mock drafts, but a medical issue may cause some teams to think twice about picking him.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Ragland has been “flagged” by some teams because he has an enlarged aorta. The condition requires yearly monitoring and can put one at risk of developing aneurysms and could require surgical intervention to help avoid that outcome.

Per Rapoport, some teams have pushed Ragland down their draft board as a result of the condition. He also cites seven teams that don’t believe it will impact his football career as long as he is monitored closely over the years.

Ragland took over for Ravens 2014 first-round pick C.J. Mosley as a physical presence in the middle of the Alabama defense and could see a lot of playing time early in his career if he shows he can be the same player at the professional level.

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Prep for the draft with PFT Live podcasts

PFTLive

There’s still plenty of time before the draft starts. Which means there’s plenty of time to catch up on this week’s editions of the PFT Live podcast.

The shows for all four days are posted. Guests include Adam Gase, Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Connor Cook, Matt Forte, DeMaurice Smith.

You can download all episodes at iTunes or audioBoom.

We’ll be back with another three-hour edition of the program on Friday morning, breaking down round one of the draft and getting ready for the next two rounds. Plus talking about whatever else happens between now and then.

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Raiders owner pledges $500 million for Las Vegas stadium

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 09:  Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is seen during warm ups before his team competes against the Denver Broncos at O.co Coliseum on November 9, 2014 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Mark Davis is probably getting comped on this trip to Las Vegas, because he’s willing to drop half a billion dollars there.

Via Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com, the Raiders owner told the Southern Nevada Tourism and Infrastructure Committee meeting that he was ready to commit $500 million toward a stadium there to bring his team to the desert.

Davis also brought some rhetoric with him, saying Las Vegas: “would not just be getting a football team, they would be getting everyone who has worn the silver and black for the last 56 years.”

Of course, shaking the tree and waiting for the money to fall out isn’t the only problem for Davis, who would still need to convince 23 of his fellow owners to approve a move. But the reaction to Las Vegas has been more positive (or at least less negative) than it has been in the past.

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Nine former players file further appeal of concussion settlement

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Retired NFL players who have been waiting since August 2013 for concussion settlement proceeds will be waiting even longer.

Nine former NFL players have filed yet another appeal regarding the settlement, seeking a rehearing before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit regarding the recent decision of a three-judge panel to uphold agreement to provide retired players with certain specific health conditions.

Via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the nine players who have decided to continue the objection to the settlement include Cleo Miller, Judson Flint, Elmer Underwood, Vincent Clark Sr., Ken Jones, Fred Smerlas, Jim Rourke, Lou Piccone, and James David Wilkins II. Their lawyer, John Pentz, now claims that, because the science regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy is in its infancy, the class action lacks an adequate representative plaintiff because it cannot be determined with sufficiency that any of the living plaintiffs have CTE.

But here’s the problem. How could a jury be expected to award damages to any living former player with CTE if there’s no way to prove that the player has CTE? Moreover, with no way to link CTE to specific future conditions or symptoms, it will become even harder to determine a proper award if the case proceeds.

Meanwhile, former players with real, significant conditions continue to have their compensation tied up in court as a small handful of players delay the resolution of the settlement.

“We believe the Third Circuit should deny the request for [a] rehearing, as these objections have now been heard and overruled by both the District Court and a three judge panel from the Third Circuit,” lead plaintiff’s counsel Christopher Seeger said in a statement. “This meritless appeal carries devastating consequences for the thousands of retired NFL players suffering from neurocognitive injuries, and those concerned about their future, as they will be forced to wait even longer for the immediate care and support they need and deserve. This latest appeal is heartbreaking news for the 99 percent of the retired player community that has supported this agreement. We will continue to forcefully defend this important settlement through the appeals process.”

When considering the slim chance of overturning the pending outcome, the slim chance of overcoming each and every legal obstacle the league will place in the plaintiffs’ path if the settlement is scrapped and litigation continues, and the amount of time it would take to resolve the case through litigation, it makes sense for the nine men who continue to impede the settlement to accept the outcome of two levels of the federal court system and move on.

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Report: Giants likely to take tackle at No. 10

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 31:  Offensive tackle Jack Conklin #74 of the Michigan State Spartans looks on before taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

We’re getting close to the point where we’ll know who teams actually take in the first round of the draft, but the hours until things get going in Chicago offer a final chance for reporters to dig up information about what might happen.

Gary Myers of the New York Daily News has such a report about the Giants, who select 10th overall after finishing 6-10 last season. Myers reports that the team “will for sure” go with the best offensive tackle left on the board with their selection.

Myers adds that it looks like that will be Jack Conklin of Michigan State with Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss and Ronnie Stanley expected to get drafted before the Giants are on the clock. If it is Conklin, he would be the second straight tackle taken in the first round by the Giants and third in the last four years. The Giants have since moved Justin Pugh (their top pick in 2013) to guard while Ereck Flowers started on the left side last year.

The Giants loaded up on defense in free agency and there have been no shortage of predictions that they’ll continue to go that route in the first round, something that would probably be the case if all three tackles are gone. The consensus is that there will be productive defenders available on the second day, which could help push the Giants to add to their blocking power on Thursday night.

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Joe Thomas says Browns told him they have no plans to trade him

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 3: Tackle Joe Thomas #73 and center Alex Mack #55 of the Cleveland Browns celebrate after defeating the Buffalo Bills during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 3, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Bills 37-24. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Few players have been linked to trade talks more often than Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, a veteran All-Pro whose career has been spent on a rebuilding team that never seems to rebuild. But despite the talk, it appears that Thomas will stay put.

Thomas told Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com that team officials have told him they have “no plans” to trade him.

Of course, plans can change, and just because the Browns have no such plans now, that doesn’t mean they won’t end up trading him if some team offers the right compensation. The 31-year-old Thomas has three seasons left on his contract, with a cap hit of $9.5 million this year and $10 million in both 2017 and 2018.

The Browns are in another rebuilding mode with another regime, and so it might make sense to deal one of the most valuable assets they inherited from the old regime. But for now, it doesn’t appear that such a trade will take place.

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Su’a Cravens continues to be an intriguing prospect

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Two years ago, the Cardinals surprised pretty much everyone by devoting a first-round pick to safety Deone Bucannon. He’s now a linebacker, and a very good one.

This year, some are wondering whether the same thing will happen with Su’a Cravens. The former USC linebacker will enter the NFL preferably as a safety. His eventual employer will make the final decision.

Before that decision is made, the question becomes which team will decide to put his name on a draft card. It won’t be a shock if he sneaks into the bottom of round one.

Cravens is at least good enough to merit negativity from #anonymousscouts. As one of them told the official #anonymousscout scrivener-sans-scrutiny regarding Cravens: “I don’t think he makes enough plays. He’s one of those guys that gets up late so you call his name. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but there was some pretending tough guy to him.”

So, possibly, someone thinks enough of Cravens to hope that he slides far enough to be snatched. Whether that happens late in round one or round two or round three remains to be seen.

Teams to watch include the teams he visited. Last month Cravens told PFT Live that he would be visiting the Saints, Lions, Raiders, Dolphins, Bills, and Colts.

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Ronald Leary signs RFA tender with Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 13:  Ronald Leary #65 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The window for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets with other teams closed last week, leaving their options for the 2016 season limited to signing their tender offers or sitting out.

Cowboys guard Ronald Leary has chosen the first of those options. Rob Phillips of the Cowboys website passes along that Leary signed his tender, which comes with a salary of $2.553 million after he was tendered at the second round level.

Leary was a starter for the Cowboys in 2013 and 2014, but made just four starts and moved into a backup role as La’El Collins climbed the depth chart as a rookie during the 2015 season.

By signing the tender, Leary sets himself up to be a top reserve on the Dallas line again. It also makes a trade possible should another team think Leary would make a good fit on their offensive line, although there’s been no public reports of interest from the Cowboys in dealing him.

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Justin Blackmon pleads guilty to DUI

Justin Blackmon, Chris Harris AP

On the day of the NFL draft, there’s more bad news for one of the biggest draft busts in recent memory.

Justin Blackmon, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, was arrested for DUI in December. According to TMZ, Blackmon pleaded guilty on Wednesday. TMZ reports that Blackmon is facing prison time when he’s sentenced in June.

As a rookie receiver for the Jaguars, Blackmon showed a lot of promise, catching 64 passes for 865 yards. But he played just four games in 2013 and hasn’t played since after he was suspended indefinitely for repeated violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy. At this point it seems extremely unlikely that he’ll ever play in the NFL again.

Blackmon serves as a cautionary tale to all 32 teams today: No matter how great a player’s talent, off-field issues can wreck his career. Blackmon will surely be discussed in many draft rooms today.

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Sashi Brown thinks Joey Bosa fits in 3-4 defense

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Defensive lineman Joey Bosa #97 of the Ohio State Buckeyes walks off the field after being ejected for targeting during the first quarter of the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Buckeyes defeated the Fighting Irish 44-28.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Most draft observers agree that Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa will be among the players to hear their names called by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the early part of the first round.

Pegging exactly where he’ll wind up is a bit more difficult. There are several teams who could use a player who produced like Bosa did in Columbus, but there are some questions about whether he’d be a fit for teams running a 3-4 defense. Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown told Josina Anderson of ESPN that he thinks Bosa would be able to handle what Cleveland would ask of him in their version of that defense.

“When you are that special, you find ways to put them in the right position. Both [defensive coordinator] Ray [Horton] and [coach] Hue [Jackson] are of that mindset … I do think Bosa can play outside and slide inside in rush situations to maximize his opportunity to affect the pocket,” Brown said. “I think most people see him like a 4-3 end with his hand in the ground, but there are different things you can do schematically to position him the right way.” If he has to drop, there are some questions about that but we do think he shows enough flexibility and athleticism to be able to do that. There are some big guys who have played that position whether it is [Terrell] Suggs or [Calvin] Pace and others who have done it really successfully for a long time. So we are confident that [Bosa] will be able to do that.”

Brown’s previously said that the Browns know who they want to take with the eighth pick and there’s a pretty good chance that player isn’t Bosa if he’s talking him up ahead of the draft. Those complimentary words could help move Bosa off the board and keep their player of choice available, however.

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Late word emerges of a Paxton Lynch free fall

Zz0zMTRkZWZkM2NiOTA2ZjE4MjkyNjBkMjE5YjQ2OTNjMQ== AP

Some have quarterback Paxton Lynch going in the top 10 of the draft. As the draft approaches, some have him not going in round one at all. (Maybe Lynch wasn’t able to whip up a sufficiently impressive soufflé.)

Adam Schefter of ESPN says this: “Someone may be laying in ambush, but unless Dallas trades back into first round, hard to find a landing spot for [Lynch].”

Some have suggested that the Saints could target Lynch. (That’s not happening.) Others have linked Lynch to the Jets. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says that’s not happening, either.

“Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch is the player most commonly linked to the Jets in mock drafts (including by me in the televised NFL Nation mock draft on Tuesday night), but I no longer believe that will happen,” Cimini writes. “I received late information on Lynch, and the sense I get is the organization has concerns about his maturity and ability to adjust to a pro-style offense. There’s a lot of smoke leading up to the draft, and sometimes it takes a while to see through it.”

Then again, this may still be part of the smoke. As the process approaches, it become more, not less, important to keep people guessing. And there’s nothing like floating fake information to help a team keep its true intentions concealed.

Besides, who ever goes back and dissects what was and wasn’t true in the days and weeks before the draft? Fans want to look ahead to the next thing; after the draft, the next thing to which to look forward is training camp, where all the rookies get thrown into a blender with all the veterans and we thereafter only pay attention to the rookies who get a chance to play — and who play well.

For now, the objective of every team is doing anything they can to keep their real plans hidden.

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Dolphins dump several based on minicamp performance

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: A Miami Dolphins helmet sits on the grass before the start of their game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 13, 2015 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Voluntary veteran minicamps are, on the surface, a small part of a team’s offseason preparation. But the process can have a major influence on who will and won’t be in position to compete for a roster spot moving forward.

The Dolphins have decided based on their first 2016 minicamp to move on from five players. Gone are defensive back Damarr Aultman, receiver Tyler Davis, receiver Robert Herron, defensive tackle Robert Thomas III, and linebacker Terrell Manning.

Herron was a sixth-round pick of the Bucs in 2014, and Manning arrived to the NFL in 2012 as a fifth-round pick of the Packers.

All teams may have up to 90 players in the offseason. Most teams will be adding 20 or more rookies in the next few days, between the draft and unrestricted free agency.

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