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Teams intrigued by, concerned about Talib

Talib AP

Yes, Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner is getting all the calls.  But Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib is generating the buzz.

Talib, who hit the open market in 2013 after being traded from Tampa to New England during the 2012 season, signed a one-year, $5 million contract to stay with the Patriots last year.  After a solid season and an extended stretch of staying out of trouble, Talib figures to cash in significantly.

And for good reason.  The cornerback market has recovered significantly, thanks in large part to the spike in the salary cap and the return of a defense-wins-championships mentality to the NFL.  With 30-something cornerback Brent Grimes getting $32 million over four years and Packers cornerback Sam Shields getting $39 million over four from the extremely-careful-with-money Ted Thompson, the top shelf could spring past $10 million per year, this year.

With Talib, the concern for some is whether a significant payday will provoke a return of the off-field concerns that helped run him out of Tampa.  Thanks to the Aaron Hernandez debacle, the Patriots can’t make a huge investment of guaranteed money in Talib without risking an I-told-you-so moment if/when Talib finds trouble away from the field, again.

Washington, by multiple accounts, has emerged as a potential player for Talib’s services, given the connect-the-dots presence of former Bucs coach Raheem Morris as the defensive backs coach there.  Morris, who once described Talib as a “wild child,” would have to believe Talib can be trusted to stay on the right path while millions are raining down.  More importantly, G.M. Bruce Allen would have to be willing to make the investment of cash and cap dollars necessary to lure Talib.

Some think Allen intends to wait and shop for bargains, and to resist signing anyone to a big-money contract right out of the gates.  If that’s the case, Talib becomes a player they won’t be pursuing — unless no one else signs him and he becomes a de facto bargain.

For now, it’s hard to know which teams are interested, because Talib’s camp isn’t leaking the phone logs to the media.  Even without that info, it’s safe to say that plenty of interest exists.  The question is whether a team will be willing to take the leap of faith that the Talib of recent months has trumped the “wild child” that wore out his welcome in Tampa.

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Boom Herron signs tender, stays with Colts

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Free agent running back Daniel “Boom” Herron will remain in Indianapolis.

The Colts have announced that Herron signed his restricted free agent tender, keeping him with the team another year.

Herron emerged as the Colts’ top running back late last season, replacing Trent Richardson as the starter and playing well down the stretch. Herron ran 45 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns and also added 128 receiving yards in the Colts’ three playoff games.

This year Herron will likely back up Frank Gore in the Colts’ backfield.

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PFT Live: Bucs talk with Rick Stroud, Cowboys talk with Clarence Hill

Jameis Winston AP

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston had his pro day workout on Tuesday and there’s no sign that it has led the Buccaneers to reconsider drafting Winston with the first overall pick.

General Manager Jason Licht gave Winston a rave review and Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times will join Mike Florio on Wednesday’s PFT Live to discuss how things went for Winston. They’ll touch on other Tampa matters as well during Stroud’s visit before attention shifts to Dallas.

Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram will also be on the show. Hill and Florio will discuss Greg Hardy’s role with the Cowboys, the return of linebacker Rolando McClain and wide receiver Dez Bryant’s hopes for a long-term contract among other topics.

We also want to hear from PFT Planet. Email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour of the show by clicking right here.

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Malcolm Jenkins: LeSean McCoy trade wasn’t surprising

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There were plenty of people surprised when the Eagles traded running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso, but Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins wasn’t one of them.

Jenkins said that “everybody who is in the locker room and really knows Chip [Kelly]” understood why Kelly decided to ship the team’s leading rusher to Buffalo. Jenkins said that people in that position thought the deal made sense from the standpoint of “looking to acquire more talent” as well as finding talent that fit what Kelly wants to do on offense.

“You look at the style of runner that Chip wants in his offense and even though Shady is one of the best backs in the league, he’s not necessarily what Chip is looking for all the time,” Jenkins said during an appearance on NFL Network. “Chip thinks he’s a great running back, he knows his talent is there, but our [system] is really predicated on downhill, somebody who is going to hit the hole every time. It’s about getting up in the defenders face as fast as you can and that’s not necessarily Shady’s running style.”

Jenkins did say that there was some surprise about the Eagles only getting Alonso in return for McCoy because he thought it would have been bigger than a player-for-player deal, but the fact that Kelly is shaping the team to his desires in his first year running the personnel shop isn’t raising any other eyebrows.

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Lions bring Breshad Perriman in for a pre-draft visit

Breshad Perriman AP

The Lions have perhaps the game’s best big target at wide receiver.

Now they’re taking a look at a guy who could knock the top out of any defense to make even more room for him.

According to Tim Twentyman of the team’s official website, the Lions have Central Florida wideout Breshad Perriman in for a pre-draft visit today.

Perriman would be intriguing to Lions fans anyway, since his father Brett played for them from 1991-96.

But the younger version caught everyone’s eye at his pro day, when he ran his 40-yard dashes in blazing times, with the slowest a 4.27.

“I kind of expected to run that fast,” Perriman said.

His speed is even more tantalizing considering he’s 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. And the Lions have bigger needs than another wideout with the 23rd pick in the draft.

But the idea of putting another big-time weapon alongside Calvin Johnson’s an intriguing notion, especially considering the raw ability Perriman has shown.

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Dez not saying how soon he expects to be with the Cowboys

Indianapolis Colts v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant is not saying if he will be with the Cowboys soon enough to participate in the team’s offseason program or not.

The NFL’s other franchised wide receiver, Denver’s Demaryius Thomas, has said he’s going to work out on his own until his contract situation is resolved. Bryant, however, is keeping a low profile. It’s possible that he’ll agree to sign the franchise tag in time to report to the team’s offseason program, possible that he’ll work out a long-term deal by then, or possible that he’ll remain unsigned into training camp and the preseason. (It’s even possible that Bryant will remain unsigned into the regular season, although it’s unlikely he’d pass up the weekly game checks of more than $750,000 each that he could get by signing the franchise tender.)

Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones has said he’s not worried about Bryant’s contract situation because he’s confident that Bryant, a consummate competitor, will want to be there with his teammates.

The only question is whether Bryant will be there with his teammates at Organized Team Activities, minicamp, training camp or the preseason.

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Colts unveil “all-white” uniforms for April Fool’s Day

Zoolander Getty Images

We have an early winner on April Fool’s Day.

Rather than teasing an announcement about nothing or joking that a key employee has been arrested for drunk driving, the Colts have come up with a creative concept for the annual April 1 non-holiday holiday.

They’ve produced a video introducing all-white uniforms.  As in everything is white.  Including the jerseys and the numbers and the trim.

The video features tight end Dwayne Allen in the fake uniform, explaining why the Colts have done it.

“From a strategic, football standpoint, how can they scout us?” Allen said.  “They can’t see our numbers.”

Bravo, Colts.  The bar is now set for every other team and player.

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Urban Meyer: Browns are “fantastic” at pre-draft due diligence

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Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has dealt with a lot of NFL scouts over the course of his career with the Buckeyes and other teams and he knows that they aren’t all created equal.

Meyer said Tuesday that some of the teams “do a phenomenal job” when it comes to asking questions and finding out everything there is to know about a prospect. He’s also had teams pick his players without ever speaking to him and says that those teams that don’t do the legwork also fail to “win a bunch of games.”

Based on 2014 experiences, you might think Meyer would put the Browns in the latter category. First-round picks Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert both struggled in their first NFL seasons with Manziel winding up in rehab and Gilbert dealing with a “very personal” issue that the Browns first became aware of once he was already on the team. Meyer says that’s not the case, however.

“Not good, fantastic,” Meyer said, via Cleveland.com. “I really like their head coach. He’s knee deep in it.”

The Browns did hit on later picks with guard Joel Bitonio, linebacker Christian Kirksey and running back Terrance West contributing to the team and Isaiah Crowell joined West in the backfield after signing as an undrafted free agent. As anyone familiar with recent Browns history will tell you though, missing on big pieces like quarterbacks often sets you back more than those kinds of hits spring you forward and the Browns need one of those big hits to become a team that wins a bunch of their future games.

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Teryl Austin predicts a better Lions defense, post-Suh

Austin AP

The Lions have lost defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, replacing them with Haloti Ngata.  Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin sees that as an upgrade.  And it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day gag.

We plan to be better this year,” Austin told a gathering of season-ticket holders at Ford Field on Tuesday, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

“We tell our guys all the time, you go in, the No. 1 thing you want to do is stop the run, and Haloti’s a premier run-stuffer,” Austin said.  “I don’t know if there’s any better in the league.  He’s that good.  And from the people that aren’t familiar with him, I had an opportunity to be in there with him for three years and just know the difference he makes up front.”

Colts coach Chuck Pagano was with Ngata, too.  Which makes Indy’s failure to pounce on Ngata even more confusing, especially given their struggles against the run.  Then again, the Colts may have tried to get Ngata, but the Lions struck too quickly.

“We literally finalized the trade with Baltimore, and Martin Mayhew and I are on the phone in my office, we hadn’t even told Jim [Caldwell] yet, and we’re on the phone to Bill Ford letting him know that the trade had finalized and it pops up on Twitter as we’re telling the owner that we had just finalized it,” team CEO Tom Lewand said, via Birkett.  “So Twitter was finding out before our head coach, and we had to go down the hall and I had the privilege of interrupting a staff meeting and stuck my head in and said, ‘Hey we got Haloti Ngata,’ and the looks on the face of these guys was like it was Christmas morning and Santa Claus had just come down the chimney.”

It’s a neat story, but let’s be realistic about this.  The Lions wanted to keep Suh.  The Lions tried to keep Suh.  The Lions reportedly hoped Suh would “come to his senses” after reports emerged of a looming deal with the Dolphins.

Austin now sees Ngata as an upgrade over Suh.  Less than two months ago, Austin said he planned on Suh returning, and that a possible departure hadn’t even crossed Austin’s mind.

The truth is that the Lions are seeing the glass as half full because they have no other choice, especially when talking up the upcoming season to a room full of season-ticket holders.  The offseason requires teams to sell hope to the fans, plausible or otherwise.  Which likewise requires teams to create the impression that any losses via free agency ultimately weren’t losses at all.

Besides, if Austin’s assessment eventually is proven to be wrong, it’s unlikely that anyone will throw his words back at him.  Even if they do, Austin will come up with a new reason for thinking that the glass is half full, no matter how empty is actually may be.

That’s not a knock on Austin.  It’s a recognition of the reality that only one team wins the Super Bowl every year.  For all 32, the challenge is to make the fans think they have a chance to be that one team.

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Joe Lombardi: Matthew Stafford will take more chances this year

Pro Bowl Getty Images

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw 12 interceptions in 16 games during the 2014 regular season, the lowest full-season total during his NFL career.

Stafford also set a new career low in net yards per pass attempt during Joe Lombardi’s first year as the offensive coordinator in Detroit. The team’s offense also saw sharp drops in points and yards, which may be why Lombardi suggested Stafford was too risk-averse during their first season working together.

“Our biggest thing is in order to win football games, you got to first not lose them,” Lombardi said, via MLive.com “And I thought he played smart football — almost to a fault. We’ll look for him to take a few more chances this year with the football. He’s got the arm to do it, and the receivers to throw it to.”

Having a healthy Calvin Johnson would offer Stafford more opportunities to show off the arm that once threw for 5,000 yards in a season and more shots down the field could return some of those missing points. That said, avoiding risk on offense paid off for the team last season and it would be surprising to see them alter things too dramatically after winning 11 games for the first time since 1991 and the third time since the franchise has been in Detroit.

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Bruce Irvin’s April Fool’s gag is a false DUI confession

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

Well, that escalated quickly.

Earlier in the morning, we pointed out that free-agent receiver Greg Jennings teased that he’d be announcing his next time on social media at 1:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday.  He ultimately announced nothing, making the entire exercise a not-so-funny April Fool’s Day joke.

Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin has gone next level, using the scourge of drunk driving as the basis for an April Fool’s Day joke of his own.

‘Before this hits the media I just wanna apologize to my fans and the @Seahawks organization once again,” Irvin said on Twitter.  “I made a terrible decision [by] driving after I had a few drinks.  I will do everything to get ur trust back and will become a better person after this.”

And then, 25 minutes later, Irvin added this:  “How many of yall thought I was serious ?! Haha April fools!!!

I thought he was serious, because I seriously wouldn’t expect anyone to admit to a specific type of criminal activity that has claimed many lives over the years as part of an April Fool’s Day prank.  Really, how is this any different than Irvin joking that he’d committed domestic violence?  While a run-of-the-mill DUI has no specific victim, the behavior of drunk driving has generated thousands of victims over the years.

So, congrats, Bruce.  You fooled us into thinking that you are among the many irresponsible adult males who get behind the wheel of a 4,000-pound steel missile after consuming too much alcohol, even though you have the resources as a result of your employment in the NFL to quickly and easily obtain another form of transportation.  Hooray?

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McClain received offer from Pats, opted to stay put

McClain Getty Images

Linebacker Rolando McClain, a former top-10 pick who retired twice before turning his career around in Dallas, will continue his career there.  As previously noted, it’s a one-year deal for McClain to remain with the Cowboys, with a value of up to $4 million.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, McClain’s visit with the Patriots resulted in an offer.  Which made the decision a very difficult one for McClain.  In the end, familiarity with teammates and coaches made the difference, along with the reality that Stephen and Jerry Jones gave McClain a chance to resurrect his career in 2014.

The short-term nature of the contract may have been influenced by a pair of off-field issues with which McClain is currently dealing.  He’s reportedly one failed drug test away from a four-game suspension, and authorities have determined that a fire that destroyed his Alabama mansion was the result of arson.  McClain has not been accused of having any involvement in or knowledge of the fire.

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Cowboys keep linebacker Rolando McClain after Pats interest

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The Cowboys brought Rolando McClain in as an injury replacement.

And he showed them enough to make them pony up to keep him when the other guy got well.

PFT has confirmed that the Cowboys have agreed to a new one-year deal with McClain which has a base value of $3 million, with another $1 million in playing time incentives.  The news was first reported by Ed Werder of ESPN.

Now, they can use McClain in the middle again, giving them some flexibility to bring Sean Lee back to play on the weakside (which may keep him out of some traffic, and help his durability).

The Cowboys signed the twice-retired McClain last year after Lee tore his ACL in OTAs, and he played well for them. The Patriots had also showed interest, but the former top 10 overall pick decided to stay in Dallas.

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Navy long snapper to visit the Eagles

joecardona AP

Long snappers don’t make a lot of pre-draft visits because long snappers are rarely drafted. And players from service academies don’t make a lot of pre-draft visits because players from service academies have military commitments that often keep them from starting their NFL careers right away.

But Chip Kelly’s team does things differently.

Navy long snapper Joe Cardona will visit the Eagles next week, the Baltimore Sun reports. Cardona was the only long snapper at the Combine and performed well there, with 30 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a 33-inch vertical and a 4.91-second 40-yard dash.

That athleticism may appeal to Kelly, who has long been fascinated by Navy training methods. One of Kelly’s first moves after becoming the Eagles’ head coach was to hire a Navy SEALs trainer and give him the title of sports science coordinator.

If the Eagles draft Cardona, he’ll be the first player from Navy drafted in two decades, and one of only a handful of players in NFL history drafted specifically to be a long snapper.

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Greg Jennings teases team announcement, ultimately announces nothing

Jennings_Greg

April Fool’s Day got rolling with a foolish exercise from free-agent receiver Greg Jennings.

Jennings launched the ruse Tuesday on Twitter, explaining that he’s “Really glad to be wrapping this #FreeAgency process up! Glad it’s coming to an end.”  Three hours later he added, “Done deal!”

He then said the announcement of his new team would be made at 10:00 p.m. PT, which is 1:00 a.m. ET.  Which meant I wasn’t going to stay up and wait to hear where a 31-year-old receiver who’d been cut by the Vikings will be playing in 2015.

Apparently, I didn’t miss anything.  While it’s still unclear what Jennings announced at 1:00 a.m. ET because the link provided by Jennings on Twitter is dead, it’s clear he hasn’t signed a contract with a new team.

His exercise wasn’t entirely useless.  It provided an important reminder to be on the lookout for April Fool’s Day jokes, even if they’re not particularly funny.

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Report: Ravens, Rob Housler talking about deal

Houston Texans v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The Ravens are short on tight ends at the moment and they may try to remedy that by signing a former member of the Cardinals.

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Ravens and Rob Housler have mutual interest in working together during the 2015 season. That mutual interest hasn’t led to mutual agreement on a price for Housler’s services, though Wilson reports that the two sides continue to talk in hopes of finding a common ground.

Housler caught 84 passes for the Cardinals across the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but saw his role in the offense drop significantly last season. Housler caught just nine balls for 129 yards as Arizona’s passing game looked in other directions.

Signing with Baltimore could offer Housler a chance to rebound as the Ravens need to replace Owen Daniels’s 48 catches from last season with the veteran following Gary Kubiak to Denver. Crockett Gilmore returns from last year’s team, although he’s been more of a blocker thus far in his career.

Housler visited Atlanta earlier in the offseason before the Falcons signed Jacob Tamme and Tony Moeaki.

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