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Ken Whisenhunt will be the head coach of the Titans

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If Ken Whisenhunt convinced any Chargers assistants to accompany him in his 2014 head coaching gig, they may want to beef up their knowledge of George Jones’ catalog rather than dip back into the history of Motown.

Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN and Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reported that Whisenhunt will be the next head coach of the Titans on Monday and PFT has confirmed that Whisenhunt has been hired. The news comes on the same day as reports that the Lions were set to bring Whisenhunt to Detroit and lands Whisenhunt back in the NFL a year after he was fired by the Cardinals.

His work with the Chargers this year likely helped his cause, especially with Philip Rivers rebounding in a resounding fashion, but Whisenhunt had success in Arizona early in his head coaching tenure. It’s not a coincidence that that’s when he had Kurt Warner playing quarterback and his biggest task in Tennessee will be getting a quarterback — Jake Locker or otherwise — playing a similarly high level.

Schefter and Mortensen report that the Lions have moved on to Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and spent the day in talks with him for their vacancy with Whisenhunt’s predecessor in Tennessee Mike Munchak “still alive” in both Detroit and Cleveland.

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Michael Bennett, columnist, appear to bury hatchet after apology

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Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett threatened to boycott the Seattle Times after a column critical of Bennett appeared in the paper on Sunday.

While the column from writer Matt Calkins largely praised Bennett for his on-field performance, numerous charity endeavors and engaging personality, the piece primarily took issue with an incident that occurred in the locker room following Seattle’s playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons in January.

Bennett lashed out at a local TV reporter for asking a question about the team’s pass rush in the game and questioned what adversity had the reporter faced. What Bennett didn’t know at the time was that the reporter – Bill Wixey – had survived cancer. That incident, and Calkins’ belief that no apology had been given from Bennett to Wixey, was the prime point of contention for Calkins’ criticism.

But in a follow-up column on Monday, Calkins notes that he found out that Bennett had apologized to Wixey privately and he didn’t do the legwork on that before writing the story. Since the linchpin of the argument was incorrect, the rest of the premise the criticism was predicated upon wasn’t supported any longer. He apologized to Bennett for getting it wrong.

Part of my duty is to hold people accountable. That includes myself,” Calkins wrote.

Bennett appears to have accepted the apology from Calkins as well.

Although I was offended by your attacks on my character, I admire and respect your willingness to admit you were wrong about me,” Bennett wrote in a Twitter message directed at Calkins and the Times’ twitter accounts Monday night. “I care deeply for social causes, for our fans and I’m not afraid to make a stand even if it makes me unpopular at time I will continue to lead organically n staying true to what I feel is right I love this city n I love the people.”

While Bennett didn’t expressly say his plan to boycott the paper is off, it seems as though he’s willing to move beyond the issue.

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Turner considers trying to get back into the NFL business

The NFL television landscape could change in plenty of ways come 2023. At at time when the ability of ESPN to continue to pay more than $2 billion per year to keep Monday Night Football, one of the league’s former broadcast partners could be trying to get back in.

Via Michael McCarthy of SportingNews.com, Turner Sports currently is exploring the possibility of making a bid on a piece of the TV rights. Of course, there’s a big difference between thinking about it and scraping together the cash necessary to make it happen.

Turner’s status as a cable channel limits its options, as a practical matter. The NFL realizes the value of placing prime-time games on broadcast TV, given that the three-letter networks still draw the maximum audience. Even with the proliferation of cable and Internet, millions still rely on the free signals broadcast through the public airwaves by NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX.

The Monday Night Football package would make the most sense for Turner, and the NFL may need to find a deep-pocketed partner to bid on the games, if ESPN ultimately won’t have the cash to continue to pay such a premium for the premier American sporting content.

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OBJ is a no-show for Day One of OTAs

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Uh-oh, OBJ.

The Giants receiver, entering his fourth NFL season, skipped the first day of the team’s Organized Team Activities, according to Dan Duggan of NJ.com. Duggan says the reason for the absence isn’t known, and that it’s likewise unknown whether he’ll show up for any of the other nine OTA sessions.

The practices are voluntary, but as the on-field culmination of the offseason program they take on greater importance than other April-to-June workouts. With Beckham eligible for a new contract following the completion of his third season, it’s possible that he’s choosing to stay away in order to get paid.

The Giants have another OTA on Tuesday, and then again on Thursday. Thursday’s practice will be open to the media. Coach Ben McAdoo technically can’t say or do anything to suggest that presence is required; however, some coaches have a way of making their frustration known, private or publicly.

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O.J. Simpson will have July parole hearing

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The Juice could be loose, again.

Via Andrew Blankstein and Daniella Silva of NBC News, Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson will have a parole hearing in July. He has served nine years of a 33-year sentence on charges arising from a bungled effort to reclaim memorabilia that he believed was stolen from him.

Some contend the Nevada justice system threw the book at Simpson due to the perception that he got away with a double murder in California, with the alleged killing of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and Ronald Goldman.

The key question regarding Simpson’s potential freedom will be whether and to what extent discretion may be exercised by the parole board. That discretion will allow anyone who thinks he should be serving life without parole for the 1994 killings to justify keeping him behind bars for more of that 33-year term.

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Ameer Abdullah could be headed for a featured role in Detroit

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The running back the Cardinals wanted to draft before drafting David Johnson may soon get a chance to have an impact similar to Arizona’s 2015 Plan B option.

Lions running back Ameer Abdullah recently said he’d be better than any other option the team may bring in. They didn’t bring anyone in via free agency or the draft, which per the team’s official website has created the impression that Abdullah will have a featured role in 2017, his third NFL season.

The question is whether he can stay healthy. Abdullah finished his rookie season (with 16 appearances and 597 rushing yards) needing shoulder surgery. Last year, a Week Two foot injury knocked him out for the rest of the season.

Other options are Theo Riddick (who had 357 yards rushing in 2016), Zach Zenner (334 yards), and Dwayne Washington (265 yards). Collectively, the Lions generated 1,310 rushing yards (30th in the league), with an average of 3.7 yards per carry.

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Nevada, NFL may be at odds over mobile betting at Raiders games

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It won’t be easy for the NFL to keep gambling at arm’s length when the Raiders are playing in Las Vegas.

The latest example of that comes from the Nevada Gaming Commission, which plans to allow fans to place bets inside the Raiders’ new stadium, using mobile apps that are legal within Nevada state lines.

The NFL, of course, isn’t keen on that, and the Raiders’ lease in the stadium specifically prohibits “any Gaming or Gambling, the maintaining or operating of a Gaming Establishment and/or sports wagering or any wagering on racing or other non-sports events.” But Nevada Gaming Commission chairman Tony Alamo told ESPN that his commission, not the league’s lease with the stadium authority, would make the rules about where mobile betting is allowed.

“The NFL has not approached me for any policy decisions,” Alamo said. “The Nevada Gaming Commission is the policy maker for the state of Nevada and gaming, and they have not approached us in any shape, way or form.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN in the Raiders “are required to abide by League rules on the matter.” But do the Raiders have the authority to prevent people from betting on mobile apps if the Gaming Commission allows it? That’s one of many questions that is sure to come up as the anti-gambling NFL navigates the uncharted territory of playing in America’s gambling capital.

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Chiefs sign Tourek Williams

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The Chiefs got a look at linebacker Tourek Williams when he played for the Chargers and now they’ll be getting a closer view.

The NFL’s transaction wire brought word on Monday that the Chiefs have signed Williams to their 90-man roster. Linebacker Victor Ochi was waived in a corresponding move.

Williams was a sixth-round pick of the Chargers in 2013 and saw action in 44 games over the last three seasons, although a broken foot kept him off the field for the entire 2015 season. He played in every game last year and had 14 tackles and a sack while seeing more time on special teams than on defense.

Ochi played two games for the Jets last year and had two tackles.

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Aaron Donald not at OTAs as contract talks go on

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The Rams exercised their option on defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s contract for the 2018 season, but General Manager Les Snead said that a lucrative, long-term contract extension was “definitely coming.”

Snead also said that “whether he gets a raise or not,” Donald would show up and “do the things he does.” That wasn’t the case on Monday, the first day of the team’s Organized Team Activities.

Donald was not at the team’s practice, which is voluntary, and coach Sean McVay declined to discuss the reason for his absence beyond saying it was not related to an injury. Steve Wyche of NFL Media reports that “all indications” are that Donald is staying away for contract reasons and General Manager Les Snead seemed to confirm that while also saying that a deal may not be far off.

“We’re at the serious stages of renegotiating,” Snead said, via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. “I’m very hopeful this will get done.”

If a deal does get done, Donald will move way up the list of best-paid defensive players in the game and could nudge Broncos linebacker Von Miller out of the top spot once pen is put to paper.

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Patriots add another receiver

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The New England Patriots have cornered the market on skill-position players in 2017. They’ve now added another. Sort of.

The team has announced signing of receiver DeAndrew White. But White isn’t a new arrival. After being cut by the 49ers last September, White spent most of the year on the New England practice squad.

White appeared in four game as an updraft rookie in 2015, catching two passes for 18 yards. White also returned six kicks for 142 yards and returned one punt for four yards.

He’s one of 11 receivers currently on the roster, with Brandin Cooks being the highest profile arrival in 2017, by far.

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Doug Whaley claims credit for “parting gift” of two first-round picks

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Former Bills G.M. Doug Whaley broke his silence after being fired three weeks ago. Some would say he shouldn’t have.

Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com), Whaley made this claim regarding the trade that saw the Bills drop from No. 10 in round one to No. 27: “As a parting gift, we left them with two [first-round picks] next year.”

This implies that Whaley, who would be fired less than three days after the trade was made, actually had any say over the decision to swap the top-10 pick that the team’s subpar performance earned for the selection belonging to one of the final-eight franchises. That’s how the Bills picked up a second first-rounder in 2018.

Even if Whaley was involved, it wasn’t a “gift”; it was the result of a deliberate decision-making process fueled by a very strong desire on the part of the Chiefs to land quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Whaley likely was trying to be loose or funny or whatever. After his disastrous January press conference, however, his words will now be as scrutinized as his personnel decisions if/when he’s ever considered for other G.M. positions. On that point, Whaley said that if he ever gets another job of that kind in the future, he’ll have a clear objective from the get-go. “I would make sure I secured a franchise QB, quickly.”

If it were only that easy. As more than a few teams have proven more than a few times each, it’s not like ordering a new sweatshirt on Amazon.

Whaley surely thought he had found a franchise quarterback in 2013, when the team made EJ Manuel the first quarterback drafted. Whaley got it wrong, which could make it a lot harder for him to ever get another chance to find a franchise quarterback.

That doesn’t mean Whaley shouldn’t be gainfully employed in the NFL. He did very well in the Pittsburgh front office, well enough to become a G.M. He has a place in the league, just not one that requires speaking extemporaneously in public or securing franchise quarterbacks.

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Jets waive Devin Smith after torn ACL

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The Jets haven’t gotten much return on the second-round pick they used on wide receiver Devin Smith in the 2015 draft and that wasn’t going to change this season.

Smith tore his ACL in April and the team waived him with an injury designation on Monday. Should Smith pass through waivers unclaimed, he will revert to injured reserve. The Jets could also reach an injury settlement with Smith and cut him loose altogether, although that decision could wait until they see how his recovery progresses.

It’s the second time Smith has torn his ACL since joining the Jets. He suffered the first injury late in the 2015 season and missed 12 games last year while he was rehabbing. He caught one pass for 20 yards to go with nine catches for 115 yards and a touchdown during his rookie season.

The Jets signed wide receiver Deshon Foxx, who they signed in January and waived earlier this month to make room for undrafted free agent signings.

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Matt Elam arrested for grand theft, battery

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Former Ravens first-round pick and current free agent Matt Elam has landed in legal trouble for the second time this year.

Elam was arrested and booked in Delray Beach, Florida on charges of grand theft and battery. TMZ Sports first reported news of the arrest and details beyond the $4,500 bond for Elam’s release aren’t known at the moment.

Elam was also arrested on charges of marijuana possession with the intent to sell or deliver and possession of hydrocodone in February.

Elam became a free agent a short time later as his rookie deal was up and the Ravens opted not to exercise their option on his contract for the 2017 season. The 2013 first-round pick had four tackles in nine games last year and there haven’t been any reports of interest in his services as a football player this offseason. That seems unlikely to change given Monday’s developments.

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Rams sign two ahead of OTAs

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The Rams will kick off their organized team activities this week with a couple of new players on the roster.

The team announced the moves on Monday along with a pair of deletions from the roster. They have signed defensive tackles Omarius Bryant and A.J. Jefferson while waiving offensive lineman Kwayde Miller. They also announced that defensive back Dravious Wright has left the team.

This will be Bryant’s second stint with an NFL team since going undrafted out of Western Kentucky. He was initially signed by the Ravens earlier this month, but was waived a few days later when the Ravens needed roster space for others.

Jefferson had 35 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks during his four years at Mississippi State.

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Reggie Bush still wants to play

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Reggie Bush had one of the worst seasons in NFL history last year, becoming the first running back ever to carry the ball more than 10 times and finish with negative rushing yardage. But he still thinks he has something to offer.

Bush, the free agent running back, told NFL Media he’s eager to sign with an NFL team and expects to be in the league in 2017.

“That’s my plan,” Bush said. “Going into year 12, I still feel like I have a lot left to prove, a lot left to give this game before I’m done. I don’t want to put a number on how many years I have left. I think once you get past year 10, you just gotta take it one year at a time and go from there. I’m still excited, still looking forward to playing football again this season, still staying in shape, still working out. I plan to be somewhere in September.”

Bush, who played in 13 games for the Bills last year and finished with 12 carries for negative three yards, said some teams are interested.

“I’ve spoken to a few teams, yes,” Bush said. “But I’m gonna be patient and make sure I make the right decision for me and for my family.”

The 32-year-old Bush was one of the most exciting players in college football history at USC and has had a solid if somewhat disappointing NFL career. It’s hard to believe he has much left, but he doesn’t want anyone else telling him he’s done.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick “excited” to join Buccaneers

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While it wasn’t quite the same 44-shot uzi-spray that a Jets quarterback once used on the way through the door, a former Jets quarterback has repeatedly uttered the E-word when talking about his new team.

New Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, in comments to the team’s official website (EXCLUSIVE!) used the term “excited” five times.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for me to come to a team that’s really on the rise, with a great young quarterback in Jameis [Winston], just to come and try to provide some of my experiences,” Fitzpatrick said. “I just met him for the first time today. He seems like a great kid, though, lots of energy. I’m very excited to work with him and I think he’s excited to have me here. We’ll get to work pretty soon. . . .

“I think both sides were excited because there are a lot of good pieces here. I just wanted to be a part of it and I’m happy they have me here. . . . I’m excited to be here, I’m excited to get to work.”

The Bucs will be excited if Fitzpatrick doesn’t actually have to play. He’s there to mentor Winston and to be ready to go if/when Winston’s physical style of play gets him injured. (Fitzpatrick also may be expected to coax Winston to play with a little less physicality.)

The fans will be excited if the Buccaneers, regardless of who the quarterback is, can get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. That would definitely have Fitzpatrick feeling excited, given that Fitzpatrick has yet to be on a playoff roster despite 12 prior NFL seasons and now seven different teams.

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