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Report: Eagles trade Bryce Brown to Bills

Bryce Brown, Perry Riley AP

The Eagles kicked off the fourth round by taking defensive back Jaylen Watkins and they reportedly moved to add more picks for the future a bit later on Saturday.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Eagles have traded running back Bryce Brown to the Bills. Philly will get a conditional fourth-round pick in 2015 that could upgrade to a third-round pick in 2016.

Brown’s departure from the Eagles has been rumored since the team acquired Darren Sproles to go with LeSean McCoy and Chris Polk, who had shoulder surgery this offseason. Brown has run for 878 yards and six touchdowns on 190 carries over two years with the Eagles, who picked Brown in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. Wherever they wind up picking as a result of this deal, the Eagles did a good job in terms of the return they got for Brown.

The Bills have C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, but they were believed to be interested in adding depth to the position during the draft as both vets can be free agents after the season. They’ve done that, but they’ve left themselves potentially short in next year’s draft with their first-round pick in 2015 already gone in the Sammy Watkins deal.

UPDATE 1:04 p.m. ET: Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the pick is the conditional 2015 fourth-rounder the Bills got in exchange for Stevie Johnson which could turn into a 2016 third-rounder or a 2016 fourth-rounder. Berman adds that the teams also swapped seventh-round picks this year.

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Bears reach deals with QB Shane Carden, 14 other undrafted rookies

Shane Carden AP

If you can’t beat him, sign his doppleganger.

East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden, who has been said to look like former Packers star Brett Favre, is one of 15 undrafted rookie free agents to agree to deals with the Bears, the club said on its website on Sunday evening.

Carden (6-2, 218) threw for more than 4,000 yards in each of his final two seasons with the Pirates. In this span, he threw 66 TDs and just 20 picks in 1,166 passes. Carden will vie to stick on a depth chart that includes Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen and David Fales.

The Bears also reached deals with these undrafted rookies: TCU LB Jonathan Anderson, Rice CB Bryce Callahan, East Central CB Qumain Black, Toledo PK Jeremiah Detmer, Central Florida CB Jacoby Glenn, Coastal Carolina OG Chad Hamilton, UCLA S Anthony Jefferson, Arkansas OT Cameron Jefferson, Old Dominion LS Rick Lovato, Illinois State WR Cameron Meredith, Baylor WR Levi Norwood, Miami (Fla.) DE Olsen Pierre, Washington LB John Timu, Alabama TE Brian Vogler.

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Jason Garrett: Cowboys have the right support for Randy Gregory

randygregory AP

Randy Gregory was a top 10 talent who slipped to the Cowboys at No. 60 in the draft primarily because of off-field concerns. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says those concerns are alleviated by the support system the team will have in place for Gregory.

“We believe we have the right kind of environment here with the Cowboys,” Garrett said on NFL Network. “We have an excellent coaching staff who believes in coaching the man first, and we also have an excellent support staff who can help our players in every way possible. . . . Some of the off-the-field concerns that we have with Randy, we feel like we can help address.”

The details of Gregory’s off-field concerns remain unclear, although he reportedly has mental health issues. Football locker rooms haven’t always been the most supportive places for people who need to work out such issues, but Garrett is vowing that the Cowboys will take good care of Gregory.

And, of course, on the field the Cowboys think they got themselves a great player.

“Randy Gregory is a very natural pass rusher,” Garrett said. “He seems to have a knack for getting to the quarterback.”

Gregory’s job in Dallas is simple: Get to the quarterback. The Cowboys’ job of supporting Gregory will be more complex, and may determine just how successful he is in the NFL.

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49ers pick up a pair of 2016 draft picks

San Diego Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

The 49ers will have a little added picking power in the 2016 NFL Draft.

In trades this week, San Francisco snagged a pair of extra selections in next year’s draft, getting a fifth-round pick from San Diego when trading down on Thursday and a sixth-round pick from Dallas for a 2015 seventh-round pick on Saturday.

The Eagles came away with the highest future pick, snagging a 2016 third-rounder from Detroit for a 2015 fourth-round pick. However, the Lions are likely to get a 2016 third-rounder as a compensatory pick after losing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in free agency.

Here is the full list of future selections acquired during the 2015 NFL Draft:

Philadelphia: 2016 third-round selection (from Detroit).

San Francisco: 2016 fifth-round selection (from San Diego), 2016 sixth-round selection (from Dallas).

Detroit: 2016 fifth-round selection (from Denver).

Washington: 2016 sixth-round selection (from New Orleans).

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Maccagnan: Zac Stacy trade not related to concerns about Stevan Ridley’s knee

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Instead of taking a shot on a rookie running back with a seventh-round pick on Saturday, the Jets opted to trade it to the Rams in exchange for Zac Stacy.

Stacy, a 2013 fifth-round pick, became an odd man out in St. Louis when the team drafted Todd Gurley in the first round on Thursday. Reports that he wanted a trade came a short time later and the Jets decided to take the plunge.

Stacy joins a depth chart that also features Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and Stevan Ridley, who the Jets signed as a free agent this offseason as he recovers from a torn ACL. Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan said Saturday that concerns about Ridley’s return weren’t the reason why the team made the deal for Stacy.

“We thought the idea of bringing Zac in for that kind of investment would be very beneficial and increase the competition at that position,” Maccagnan said, via ESPN.com. “He’s had success in the league. Two years ago, he was close to a 1,000-yard back. This past season, his production wasn’t quite as high, but we do think he’s a good-caliber running back.”

It may not be the knee that made Maccagnan pull the trigger on the trade, but the Jets would seem to have some concern about Ivory and/or Ridley being right for the job to add another back with a similar style to the mix.

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24 early entries went undrafted

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The first two days of the NFL draft were big for underclassmen, with 43 of them selected. But the third day of the NFL draft wasn’t as kind to players who turned pro early.

Only 17 underclassmen were selected in Rounds 4-7, which brought the total of underclassmen drafted to 60. With 84 underclassmen declaring for this year’s draft, that means there were 24 players who gave up their remaining NCAA eligibility and weren’t chosen at all.

That doesn’t mean those players made the wrong call — some of them will make NFL rosters as undrafted free agents — but it does serve as a reminder that players need to think long and hard about whether they’re doing the right thing if they decide to give up their college scholarships for a shot at the pros.

Some of those players who turned pro early in January now may be coming to the realization that they’re unlikely ever to make money playing football. Here’s hoping they learned something while they were in college.

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Jaguars sign nine undrafteds, including Auburn’s Nick Marshall

Auburn Pro Day Football AP

One of perhaps the 10 best quarterbacks eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft has a new home.

Of course, there were only seven quarterbacks drafted, and this one is changing positions, which says as much about the class as him in particular.

The Jaguars announced the addition of nine undrafted rookies, including cornerback Nick Marshall.

Marshall was a quarterback at Auburn, and his college coach thinks he could play the position at the next level. He might be right, given the supply/demand issues the league is having there.

But for now, he’s a corner, where he participated during the Senior Bowl.

The Jaguars did sign another quarterback, Kansas State’s Jake Walters, along with linebacker Thurston Armbrister (Miami), defensive tackle Eric Crume (Syracuse), running back Corey Grant (Auburn) tight end Connor Hamlett (Oregon State), guard Chris Reed (Minnestoa-Mankato) and linebackers Matt Robinson (Maryland) and Todd Thomas (Pittsburgh).

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Chip Kelly: Tim Tebow isn’t here just to be a camp arm

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When Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez was asked last month about Tim Tebow’s role with the team last month, he effectively said Tebow was a spare arm to help them through practice until Sam Bradford was well.

Well, coach Chip Kelly disagrees with that assessment, saying Tebow had as much of a shot as anybody.

During an appearance on the NFL Network, Kelly dispelled that notion, such that such a notion can be dispelled before players set foot on the field.

“No. I think everybody here that we bring to our organization is here to compete for a job. That’s what Timmy is going to do,” Kelly said, via NJ.com. “He’s an unbelievable competitor. . . .

“If we were just going to have guys throw drills, we’d take [Mike] Mayock in the offseason and bring him down here and let him throw to them.”

While joking with the league-owned network’s talent might have gotten Kelly out of a potentially uncomfortable line of questioning, it doesn’t make the issue go away.

And while he clearly didn’t get the quarterback he was hoping for this weekend, Kelly’s going to spend plenty of time on the position moving forward, massaging egos and managing expectations.

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Lions “don’t know” if Travis Swanson will start at center

Jacksonville Jaguars v Detroit Lions Getty Images

Coming into the draft, the interior of the offensive line was often mentioned as an area the Lions needed to address and the evaluation was spot on based on what the team did over the last three days.

They drafted guard Laken Tomlinson in the first round after they acquired Manny Ramirez from the Broncos as part of a trade that moved them down to the 28th overall pick. Tomlinson appears ticketed for left guard while 2014 third-rounder Travis Swanson is in line to take over for Dominic Raiola at center, although offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn said he’s not ready to name him the starter at this point in the offseason.

“I don’t know,” Washburn said, via the Detroit Free Press. “And I’m not trying to be evasive, I just don’t know. What is it, May 2, 3rd? The depth kind of develops itself, which is a nice thing. Going through OTAs, mini-camp, training camp, it always takes care of itself.”

The best outcome for the Lions would be for Tomlinson and Swanson to establish themselves as the best options with the first team while Ramirez provides them with an experienced reserve at both guard and center. Should second-round running back Ameer Abdullah do the same, the Lions will likely be able to do a better job of moving the ball on the ground this season.

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Jay Gruden: Alfred Morris “won’t be affected” by Matt Jones’s arrival

Alfred Morris, Malcolm Jenkins AP

Bolstering the run game appears to have been on Redskins General Manager Scot McCloughan’s mind when the team went into the draft this year.

He selected Brandon Scherff in the first round to provide some needed talent to the team’s offensive line and then added two more offensive linemen as the draft wrapped up on Saturday. They also drafted former Florida running back Matt Jones to the roster in a move that coach Jay Gruden said would have no impact on incumbent starter Alfred Morris’s role in Washington.

“No, no, Alfred won’t be affected,” Gruden said, via the team’s website. “Alfred’s still the running back here. He’s had three great seasons and that won’t change, but to add another guy that can come in here and pound the rock a little bit doesn’t hurt anything. It’ll help Alfred in that regard taking some carries off of him, but for the most part, Alfred will be getting the bulk of the carries and Matt will get some too, obviously.”

At 6-foot-2 and 231 pounds, pounding the rock should be Jones’s speciality as a ball carrier at the professional level. He also earned good marks for his pass blocking, which should set him up well as a complementary piece for Gruden to use behind Morris. If he proves capable of doing more than that it’s all the better for the Redskins, but a capable reserve is really what they need as Morris accounted for all but 19 of last year’s carries by tailbacks currently on the roster.

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Broncos add four undrafted offensive linemen

Auburn v Mississippi State Getty Images

The Broncos drafted a pair of offensive linemen over the last two days of the draft and they continued addressing the area after the draft came to an end.

Denver announced nine undrafted free agent signings and the group includes four more blocking prospects for a team that’s moving in a different direction up front with head coach Gary Kubiak installing his offensive scheme. They signed Mississippi State center Dillon Day, who was a four-year starter, to go with fourth-round pick Max Garcia and former Clemson Tiger Kalon Davis on the interior of the line.

The Broncos drafted tackle Ty Sambrailo in the second round and they filled out the depth chart at the position with Wyoming’s Connor Rains and Nevada’s Kyle Roberts.

Nebraska linebacker Zaire Anderson, Boise State wide receiver Matt Miller, Oklahoma defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue, Rice WR Jordan Taylor and Clemson defensive lineman Josh Watson round out the group of undrafted additions to the Denver roster.

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Seven quarterbacks drafted, fewest since 1955

mariota AP

Although quarterbacks went 1-2 in this year’s NFL draft, from top to bottom NFL teams viewed this as one of the weakest years for quarterback prospects ever.

As a result, only seven quarterbacks were drafted — the fewest in any NFL draft since six quarterbacks were taken in 1955.

After Jameis Winston went first to the Buccaneers and Marcus Mariota went second to the Titans, the rest of the quarterback picks were sparse: The Saints took Garrett Grayson and the Rams took Sean Mannion in the third round, the Jets took Bryce Petty in the fourth round, the Packers took Brett Hundley in the fifth round and the Broncos took Trevor Siemian in the seventh round.

In that 1955 draft, with only six quarterbacks drafted, George Shaw went first overall to the Baltimore Colts. That didn’t work out very well; Shaw had a mediocre career. But in the ninth round that year, the Steelers took quarterback Johnny Unitas. That worked out pretty well for the Colts, as Unitas got cut without ever playing a game for the Steelers, and then headed to Baltimore where he became one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

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Bryce Petty wants to prove the other 31 teams wrong

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic- Michigan State v Baylor Getty Images

If Tom Petty was drafted by the Jets in the fourth round on Saturday, he might have opened his conference call with the media by saying that the waiting was the hardest part.

It was Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty that the Jets traded up to take, however, and that means there were fewer song lyrics when he talked about being drafted a little later than he hoped. Petty was touted as a potential first-round pick or second day selection, but he had to wait a bit longer to run down his dream of being drafted. Petty said that waiting until the fourth round didn’t hurt his confidence or his desire to make the rest of the league regret letting him linger.

“You have people that question you and that was their decision, so my job now is to prove to the other 31 teams what they’re missing out on,” Petty said, via the New York Post. “I’m so excited to be a Jet right now and get to further my playing career in New York, and that’s all I’m worried about now. I’m still very confident in my abilities. I think you have to, as any competitor, especially at quarterback and especially at quarterback in the NFL. You’re graded on two things and that is wins and losses.”

General Manager Mike Maccagnan said he thinks Petty has “all the physical attributes and parts” to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, but he and coach Todd Bowles stressed that they feel he needs time to put those tools to use in an NFL offense. The presence of Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick should give him that time in 2015, although 2016 might be a different story if those two can’t lead an improved supporting cast to better results.

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No University of Tennessee players drafted for first time since 1963

Justin Coleman AP

The SEC might have had the most players picked from any collegiate conference for the ninth year in a row, but it wasn’t a banner day for all of the schools from that neck of the woods.

The University of Tennessee ranks among the most prolific producers of NFL talent, but none of the members of last year’s squad were able to get an NFL team to volunteer interest in a Volunteer. For the first time since 1963, no members of the Tennessee team were drafted into the NFL.

Tennessee was 7-6 under coach Butch Jones last season and had two players invited to the combine. Linebacker A.J. Johnson was one of them, but he’s facing rape charges that chilled his draft hopes. Cornerback Justin Coleman was the other invitee and the school announced that he’s heading to the Vikings as an undrafted free agent.

They also announced that punter Matt Darr is signing with the Dolphins while defensive lineman Jordan Williams will try to earn a job on the talented Jets front.

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Brett Hundley: Getting drafted by Packers “a blessing in disguise”

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It’s fair to say that remaining on the board until the fifth round and going after five other quarterbacks wasn’t the way that quarterback Brett Hundley saw his draft experience playing out, but he found a positive spin to put on his Day Three selection by the Packers.

Hundley said that he thought he’d be drafted in the second or third round and said your “expectations are hurt” when things don’t play out the way you have them in your mind. Now he’s going to Green Bay where he can learn from Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy while working to show the rest of the league that they were wrong to leave him hanging for so long.

“It’s a blessing in disguise and you know I have a chip on my shoulder, and I’m coming in to work, and that’s what I’ve come down to,” Hundley said, via the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I’m just coming in, I’ve got my opportunity. That’s the way I look at it. It’s a blessing in disguise. You always have expectations of going No. 1 or high in the draft, but everything happens for a reason, and that’s how I look at it. If I’m supposed to be here, this is where I’m supposed to be, and I’m going to make the most of it.”

Packers director of player personnel Eliot Wolf said he was “shocked” Hundley was available with the 147th pick and that unexpected drop is why General Manager Ted Thompson sent a seventh-round pick to New England to move up for a quarterback he didn’t have designs on taking. Coach Mike McCarthy said Hundley had “a lot to work with” and he’ll try to use those skills to land the backup job this summer.

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Steelers planning reduced role for James Harrison

Wild Card Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The Steelers opened their draft by taking outside linebacker Bud Dupree and they added another one in Miami’s Anthony Chickillo in the sixth round, which fits with their plans for James Harrison for the coming season.

Harrison returned to the Steelers after last season began and was playing a full-time role in the defense by the time the year came to an end. Harrison is back with the team again this year, but linebackers coach Joey Porter said he’s already told Harrison not to expect the same kind of playing time in 2015.

“He knows where he is,” Porter said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I told him already, the James Harrison [of before] is over. … Harrison is going to be a better player for us if I keep his snap count down to 25. I’ll get the best James Harrison I can out of him instead of trying to make him play like he was — 25-60 snaps a game.”

Plans can change, though, and the Steelers know that well. When they drafted Jarvis Jones two years ago, they planned on playing him across from Jason Worilds and not having Harrison on the roster at all. Should Dupree take a while to transition to the pro game, the Steelers may find themselves with a different plan for Harrison come the regular season.

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