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Shaun Phillips strikes two-year deal with Titans

Denver Broncos v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

A busy free agency afternoon for late March continues.

The Titans have struck a two-year, $6 million agreement with Broncos defensive end/outside linebacker Shaun Phillips, Mike Garafolo of Fox reports.

Phillips (6-3, 255) notched 10 sacks for Denver in 2013. He will likely play outside linebacker in Ray Horton’s defense, which employs a base 3-4 front.

Phillips has recorded 508 tackles and 79.5 sacks in 10 NFL campaigns. He played for San Diego for nine seasons (2004-2012) before joining Denver last April. Phillips turns 33 in May.

Phillips’ agreement with the Titans leaves no unsigned or untagged members among PFT’s top 50 free agents. Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer (No. 65) is the top unsigned player in PFT’s rankings.

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Tom Brady is an Aaron Rodgers fanboy

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 30:  Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots shake hands following the NFL game at Lambeau Field on November 30, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Patriots 26-21.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tom Brady is like a lot of NFL fans: He loves watching Aaron Rodgers play football.

Brady’s Patriots and Rodgers’ Packers are one win away from meeting in the Super Bowl, and Brady said that for him, a Rodgers game is appointment television.

“I think he does things that no one in the league has ever done, or can do, just because of his physical ability,” Brady said on WEEI. “Some of the plays he makes are just phenomenal.”

Brady said he makes a point of watching the Packers, even if they’re on late and he has an early practice the next day.

“Everything really looks effortless with him, which is the amazing part. He’s definitely working hard, but he’s making hard look easy; it’s a very effortless style he plays with. The velocity of the ball, the placement of the ball, I mean, he’s just an incredible player. He works very hard at it, he’s a very talented player, and he’s just having an incredible season. I always love watching his tape, admiring the things he can do, because I can’t do many of those things. . . . Whenever he’s on, I usually stay up and watch.”

Brady may get to see Rodgers from the sideline in three weeks. A Brady vs. Rodgers Super Bowl would surely be a great game to stay up and watch.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Outside linebacker Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs enters the field during pre game introductions before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

Blocking for RB LeSean McCoy led to some handsome rewards for Bills blockers.

A look at where Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill stands after the 2016 season.

The Patriots defense will be working to come up with a plan to slow Le’Veon Bell.

Re-signing G Brian Winters is the first of many decisions the Jets have to make on the offensive line.

The Ravens may be in the quarterback market this offseason.

Said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, “It doesn’t matter how close we are. Next year is different than this year. The only way we can take care of it is take care of it on the field. We can’t talk about it. Too many people around here talk too much. Everybody talks.”

The Browns have two father-son tandems on their coaching staff.

Steelers G Ramon Foster doesn’t think there’s a reason to make a big deal about last Sunday night’s video from the locker room.

The Texans signed eight players to future contracts.

S Mike Adams could leave the Colts as a free agent.

What would hiring Chip Kelly say about where the Jaguars are going under Tom Coughlin’s leadership?

Titans coach Mike Mularkey proved some people wrong in 2016.

What changes will the Broncos make on their offensive line?

Chiefs LB Tamba Hali isn’t thinking about retirement.

Reminiscing about Tom Cable’s days as the Raiders head coach.

The Chargers may remain on the airwaves in San Diego.

Cowboys G Ron Leary could be on his way to another team.

What options do the Giants have if they want to replace Ereck Flowers at left tackle?

Musing about the potential of Eagles QB Carson Wentz.

Looking ahead to first round possibilities for the Redskins in the draft.

What are the chances the Bears take a quarterback in the first round?

The right side of the Lions offensive line may need to be rebuilt.

The Packers have some injuries to manage heading into Sunday’s game.

LB Anthony Barr had a quiet season for the Vikings.

DE Adrian Clayborn’s injury will stretch the Falcons’ depth.

A look at the Panthers’ defensive ends heading into the offseason.

Charles L. Brown Jr., the Saints’ first team doctor, died at the age of 87.

Some of the top defensive plays of the Buccaneers’ season.

Four former Cardinals players remain alive in the playoffs.

Sean McVay got the Hollywood treatment during his interview with the Rams.

The 49ers coaching search now appears to be focused on Kyle Shanahan.

Three spots where the Seahawks would like to see improvement.

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Texans will pick 25th as 2017 NFL Draft order fills in

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  A Dallas Cowboys fan displays a sign prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

They can start planning the offseason in Houston and Kansas City and Seattle and Dallas today, and those teams know where they’ll be picking in the upcoming draft.

Four more slots in the order of the annual selection meeting were filled in with this week’s losers.

The Texans will pick 25th, followed by the Seahawks, Chiefs and Cowboys.

The 29th and 30th slots will be filled in by the losers of the conference championship games.

The 2017 NFL Draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia, with the order for the first round as follows:

1. Cleveland 1-15
2. San Francisco 2-14
3 .Chicago 3-13
4. Jacksonville 3-13
5. Tennessee (from Los Angeles) 4-12
6. New York Jets 5-11
7. San Diego 5-11
8. Carolina 6-10
9. Cincinnati 6-9-1
10. Buffalo 7-9
11. New Orleans 7-9
12. Cleveland (from Philadelphia) 7-9
13.  Arizona 7-8-1
t14. Indianapolis 8-8
t14. Philadelphia (from Minnesota) 8-8
16. Baltimore 8-8
17. Washington 8-7-1
18. Tennessee 9-7
19. Tampa Bay 9-7
20. Denver 9-7
21. Detroit 9-7
22. Dolphins 10-6
23. Giants 11-5
24. Raiders 12-4
25. Texans 9-7
26. Seahawks 10-5-1
27. Chiefs 12-4
28. Cowboys 13-3

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Dak Prescott: This season was a building block

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after losing to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Given the gloomy outlooks shared when Tony Romo got injured in the preseason and the Cowboys had to turn to a fourth-round pick as their starting quarterback, it’s hard to imagine that anyone in Dallas would have been upset about a 13-win year and an NFC East title.

It only takes one playoff loss to make those things feel insignificant, however, and a playoff loss as painful as the 34-31 one that the Cowboys suffered against the Packers last Sunday only makes it harder to think about what came before. Dak Prescott, who has come a long way since the fourth round last April, knows that it “sucks” that the Cowboys couldn’t build on their regular season success but believes that the year can still serve as a foundation for better things.

“It was a missed opportunity,” Prescott said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s obviously one because this team won’t be back together, not the same team, not the same exact men and players won’t be back together. But for the people that will for this organization, the youth in this team, it’s a building block. We’re going to get better from it. It’s going to make us better. We’ll make plenty more runs.”

Prescott’s performance in the NFC title game — 24-of-38 for 308 yards, three touchdowns and an interception along with a two-point run — is the kind of thing that fuels confidence about big runs to come, especially when he’s sharing the field with Ezekiel Elliott and a great offensive line. The team will change and they hope it will be for the better on defense, but the foundation remains strong in Dallas.

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Falcons coach calls for even more noise in Georgia Dome

An Atlanta Falcons fan cheers as the team runs onto the field before the first half of an NFL football NFC divisional playoff game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) AP

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he had never heard the Georgia Dome louder than it was Saturday night.

He wants it even louder this week when the Packers roll into town for the NFC Championship Game.

Via Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Quinn said he was impressed by his fanbase after challenging them prior to the Seahawks game to be “early and loud” against the Seahawks.

“When you have a crowd like ours, for sure it’s an edge,” Quinn said. “I think anyone who was in that environment last Saturday night [knows]. I asked people, and they said ‘That’s the loudest I’ve ever heard the Dome.’ That fired me up to know we are going to bring the same energy as they are.

“That pumped me up beyond belief to hear that was as loud as they’ve ever heard it. I said, ‘All right, if that is as loud as it can get there is only one challenge out there, then.’ We hope that same comment is happening next week. Can we turn it up again?”

Of course, the Falcons have been willing to turn up the sound before, with or without fans.

They were once fined $350,000 and lost a fifth-round pick for piping fake noise into the Georgia Dome, but that was at a time when fans didn’t have all that much to cheer for.

Now that they’re playing the last game in the (I started to type venerable here as I ordinarily would for a closing building but it’s not really all that venerable) Georgia Dome, there’s not as much need.

And even if they did, they’re going to destroy the evidence and move next door soon anyway, so the world may never know.

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Jason Garrett wants what’s best for Tony Romo

Tony Romo, Jason Garrett AP

When asked about quarterback Tony Romo after Sunday’s loss to the Packers, owner Jerry Jones stalled.

But in the words of coach Jason Garrett yesterday, there were the beginnings of a goodbye.

Via Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, Garrett gave the clearest answer possible when asked about Romo’s future, which is not in Dallas after rookie Dak Prescott took over and led the team to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs this year.

“We certainly want the best for him,” Garrett said, “whether he is here or whether he is somewhere else.”

Garrett also talked at length about his own decision to stick with Prescott once Romo recovered from fractures in his back.

“Well, it was a challenging situation for everybody,” Garrett said. “Tony and I talked about this. He said very eloquently in his press conference [Nov. 15] that it’s a meritocracy and Dak has earned this opportunity. In my visits with Tony after that, I said, ‘I agree with you, but I actually think you’ve misused the word meritocracy,’ because if you look at what he [Romo] has done in his last [21] starts as a Cowboy, won [16] games and lost five of them. So when he had his opportunities based on the merits, there’s a compelling argument to be made that that guy should be your quarterback.

“And the thing that was challenging for him and for everybody was these decisions were independent of each other. What happened when Tony got hurt, Dak stepped in and this team got going. It went on a run, and what we needed to do was somehow, someway stay on that run. Those decisions were kind of independent of each other, because based on the merits there is a compelling argument for Tony Romo. But the team was just at a certain place and they were handling that situation so well that it was just in the best interest for us to continue down that road.”

The fact Prescott only briefly blinked made it easier for them, and Garrett never considered turning to Romo at any point after making the decision.

So now the road will turn for the 36-year-old Romo, and the Cowboys will be left in the position of hoping that their newest savior never gets hurt or struggles.

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Ezekiel Elliott complains about lingering league investigation

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks with Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys before the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

At a time when many wonder whether the NFL had been delaying the ongoing investigation regarding domestic violence claims against Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to help the team, the man at the center of the probe is agitating for a final answer.

I do want closure,” Elliott said following Sunday’s playoff loss to the Packers, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I do. I would rather them not drag it on as long. I think if there was something to find, which there’s not, they would’ve found it by now. The police did a very thorough investigation.

“I will tell you this — it just seems like they’re dragging their feet right now. Who knows, man? I just want it to end.”

Elliott’s lawyer made similar comments in late October; nearly three months later, the matter is still pending.

While his desire for exoneration is understandable, the absence of a decision is better than an adverse decision. And an adverse decision remains entirely possible, especially in light of the news that follow-up questions have been sent by the league to Elliott.

Regardless of whether police did a “very thorough investigation,” the NFL is operating under a much lower standard of proof. Unless/until Elliott’s alleged victim recants her claims, a he said/she said remains regarding whether he assaulted her. By seeking more information from Elliott, the league hopes either to check all boxes in order to prop up the conclusion that he did not violate the personal conduct policy or to get him to lock in to a version of the events that conflicts with something she said that allows the league to resolve the dispute in her favor and, in turn, come to the conclusion that she’s telling the truth.

That’s the core of the analysis here: Do the people at 345 Park Avenue responsible for the investigation believe Elliott, or do they believe the woman accusing him of violence? Complicating the situation is a variety of business factors, including the lingering P.R. concerns arising from the perception that the league is too soft on domestic violence (as exacerbated by the bungling of the Josh Brown case) and the very real possibility that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will react much more strongly to a suspension of Elliott than Patriots owner Robert Kraft did when the league suspended quarterback Tom Brady.

It’s no easy spot for the league, which probably is one of the big reasons for the delay. The good news for Elliott is that, now that the team’s season has ended, the case can move toward a conclusion. The bad news is that he may not like how it concludes.

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Ravens owner would like fewer commercials on NFL broadcasts

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 01: Team owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens looks on before the Baltimore Ravens play the San Diego Chargers during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on November 1, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

At least one NFL owner is willing to reduce the number of commercials on league TV broadcasts.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti says he thinks fans can get inundated with commercials, and that may be hurting the league’s TV ratings.

“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that nobody wants to see two minutes of commercials, come back, kick the ball and then go to a minute-and-a-half of commercials,” Bisciotti said last week. “I’ve thought that was absurd since I was 20 years old.”

The question is whether fewer commercials would mean less money. Bisciotti believes it would be the players, not the owners, who would have the biggest problem with that, as a reduction in revenue would result in a lowered salary cap.

“We’ve got to figure that out,” Bisciotti said. “Again, if you change that, it could mean a reduction in income, but that’s going to hit the players more significantly than it’s going to hit the owners.”

Realistically, neither the players nor the owners are going to agree to reducing commercials if it would cost them money. But perhaps reducing commercials wouldn’t actually reduce revenues because it would lead to more people watching the game, and therefore the commercials that remain would become more valuable. Or perhaps there are other ways to increase revenues during game broadcasts through sponsorships that don’t bring the game to a halt like commercial breaks do. Bisciotti’s idea deserves more thought.

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49ers interview Seahawks exec Scott Fitterer for G.M. job

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  A view of San Francisco 49ers helmets on the bench during their NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on November 29, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers completed a pair of interviews with members of the Seattle Seahawks front office for their general manager job on Monday.

After speaking with Trent Kirchner in the morning, the 49ers announced they interview Scott Fitterer for the opening Monday afternoon.

Kirchner and Fitterer share the title of co-director of player personnel with the Seahawks under general manager John Schneider. The pair oversees both the college and pro scouting departments of the Seahawks.

The 49ers have interviewed or scheduled interviews with 10 different executives in their search for a replacement for Trent Baalke.

The 49ers also interview Seattle assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable for their head coaching job.

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Which Super Bowl matchup would be the most interesting?

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: A sign outside the stadium promotes Super Bowl LI before the game between the Houston Texans and the Cincinnati Bengals at NRG Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Getty Images

With four teams left, there are four possible Super Bowl matchups. So which one would be the best?

That’s, coincidentally, the PFT Live question of the day for Tuesday.

Answer below, drop a comment, etc., etc., etc.

Guests include Tom Curran of CSN New England and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Join us at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the simulcast starting at 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN. See you then.

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A.J. Bouye hopes the Texans want him back

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  A.J. Bouye #21 of the Houston Texans intercepts a pass in the second quarter against the New England Patriots during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

After a breakout season, Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye is headed for free agency.

The former undrafted free agent had two interceptions in the playoffs and stands to make significant money from some team for 2017 and beyond, but as the Texans officially closed the book on their 2016 season he said he hopes to return.

“[Returning to the Texans would] mean a lot because it [would] show that they wanted me and saw what I did this year and there are better things that are going to happen in the future from an individual and team standpoint,” Bouye said, per the Houston Chronicle. “I’ve been through a lot here with the organization, a lot of ups and downs, and they never gave up on me. I’m appreciative of that. I’d like to be back, but we’ll see what happens.”

Bouye played in 15 games in 2016, starting 11. He posted an interception and a career-high six pass breakups.

Plenty of teams need cornerbacks, and when those teams watched Bouye in 2016 they saw an ascending player who, at a listed height of 6-foot, matches up better with big wide receivers than plenty of smaller cornerbacks do.

Before 2016 Bouye had been a part-time player who had five career starts. Now he is a player who knows he is going to be in demand — unless the Texans sign him before free agency opens in March.

“[I think I proved] that I can play, that’s the main thing,” Bouye said. “That I’m also a team player and a hard worker. I just wanted to prove to everybody that I can play. My past here, I always looked at everything from an individual standpoint. I was always playing the victim. One of the things I had to do was take a step back and realize it’s more than just me. I was doing more for the team: special teams, playing safety, dime [linebacker]. At the end of the day, the more you focus on the team, it makes you play that much harder.”

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When will Jim Irsay break his silence?

Jim Irsay after Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida on February 4, 2007.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts owner Jim Irsay has said nothing publicly about his coach and General Manger in the 15 days since the 2016 regular season ended. That could change soon.

Appearing on Monday’s PFT Live, Bob Kravitz of WTHR, who accurately speculated that Irsay was pursuing Peyton Manning and Jon Gruden to replace Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, speculated that something could happen this week.

Kravitz didn’t report anything per se, but he shared his gut feeling that changes could be coming. He also said that he believes the pursuit of Manning likely had ended, with the ball in Manning’s court if he decides he’s ready to take on the task of running a team. Further, Kravitz added one name to the mix who had previously not been mentioned in connection with the Colts: Former Broncos and Washington coach Mike Shanahan.

Irsay’s ongoing silence coupled with reports of efforts to upgrade does little to allow Grigson and Pagano to proceed with the kind of clear mandate that they need. Then again, an 8-8 season that placed the Colts at third place in the division will tend to create uncertainty, especially when the owner has made it clear that he expects multiple championships during Andrew Luck’s career. Five years in, they’re going the wrong way.

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Jaguars hire Tyrone Wheatley as running backs coach

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 22:  Tyrone Wheatley #47 of the Oakland Raiders runs to the outside as defensive end Trevor Pryce #93 of the Denver Broncos pursues him on September 22, 2003 at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 31-10. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars have announced the hiring on Tyrone Wheatley as their new running backs coach.

Wheatley previously coached under new Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone in the college ranks and with the Bills.

Wheatley, 44, had a 10-year career as an NFL running back with the Giants and Raiders. He’s spent the last two seasons as running backs coach at his alma mater, Michigan.

“I am excited to have Tyrone join our staff and work with our running backs,” Marrone said in a statement. “I have worked with him for five years and know the type of leader and teacher that he is. He is an exceptional coach and will bring out the best in his players. He brings a charisma, attitude and Super Bowl-playing experience to the staff that will be vital.”

The Jaguars reportedly interviewed Chip Kelly for their offensive coordinator job on Monday.

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Pete Carroll admits to injury-reporting violation

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 07:  National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell (L) talks with head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks before the NFC Wild Card game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions at CenturyLink Field on January 7, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll accidentally wandered into quicksand on Monday during a radio appearance, admitting that cornerback Richard Sherman played for much of the year with an MCL injury to his knee that never was disclosed. At his end-of-season press conference conducted later in the day, Carroll admitted to the violation.

“I didn’t realize that we hadn’t even revealed it,” Carroll told reporters, via the transcript generated by the team. “I don’t even remember what game it was, it was somewhere in the middle, he was fine about it, he didn’t miss anything. Same with Russell [Wilson], he was fine about it. I don’t know how they do that, but they did.”

Carroll seems to believe that, because Sherman never missed practice or game time due to the injury, the injury didn’t need to be disclosed.

“He never missed anything, just like Russell [Wilson], Russell never missed anything and Tyler [Lockett], they all had it during the course of the season and they just made it through it,” Carroll said, overlooking the fact that Russell’s MCL injury was properly disclosed. “They never complained, they didn’t want to miss a practice and they basically didn’t miss anything but they were legit, it was legit injury, it showed up and the whole thing. That’s a challenge for anyone. Guys over the league are going through the same thing, our guys just happen to be doing it as well.”

None of this changes the fact that the Seahawks failed to disclose the injury.

“I’m feeling like I screwed that up with not telling you that,” Carroll eventually conceded. “He was OK, so I don’t know, he never missed anything I guess is probably why.”

Still, that’s not the standard. Plenty of players who never miss practice or games nevertheless are disclosed on the injury report. While the league rarely slaps a team for violating the rules, the league rarely has such clear evidence of a violation fall into its lap.

Coupled with a pair of offseason workout violations from the past three offseason, the NFL could be inclined to take potentially significant action against a team that has developed a pattern of breaking the rules. Or, perhaps more accurately given the prevalence of cheating in the NFL, that the Seahawks have developed a pattern of getting caught.

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Jets sign Brian Winters to four-year extension

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23:   Brian Winters #67 of the New York Jets in action against  James Hurst #74 of the Baltimore Ravens during their game at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets won’t let right guard Brian Winters hit the open market as a free agent this offseason.

The team announced on Monday evening that Winters has signed a four-year extension with the team. No financial terms were included in the announcement, but multiple reports peg the value at around $8 million per year.

Winters was a third-round pick in 2013 and has started 41 games over his four seasons with the team. Thirteen of those starts came in 2016, although he ended the season on injured reserve thanks to a torn rotator cuff.

Winters turned in good work when he was healthy and his return gives the Jets some certainty at an uncertain spot for the group. Four players ended the year on injured reserve and veteran tackles Breno Giacomini and Ryan Clady could be moving on. Brandon Shell, a 2015 fifth-round pick, likely fits in somewhere, but center Nick Mangold’s $9 million cap number has led to discussion about his future with the team.

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