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Lovie Smith will reduce Doug Martin’s workload to keep him healthy

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

Doug Martin got the ball 495 times in his first 21 NFL games. And in his 22nd game, Martin suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

Now the new Bucs coaching staff is saying that in order to preserve Martin’s health, he’ll get a smaller workload than the old coaching staff gave him. Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford has previously said that the Bucs will have a division of labor in the backfield, and head coach Lovie Smith said Tuesday that he wants to keep Martin from overdoing it.

“What I’ve said is I like Doug a lot. Doug’s a good football player,” Smith said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “Everywhere I’ve ever been, if you look at my history, our history, we’ve played more than one running back. We had a great running back in Thomas Jones, and we drafted Cedric Benson and played them both. One running back just can’t make it through the season.”

The backup running backs in Tampa include Bobby Rainey, who led the team in rushing after Martin went down last year; Mike James, who showed some promise averaging 4.9 yards a carry as a rookie in 2013; and Charles Sims, this year’s third-round pick. Smith will give all of them a chance to earn carries, but he made clear that Martin knows the coaching staff is committed to him.

“Don’t pay any attention to that. Doug’s a good football player. He knows that. You don’t see Doug complaining. He knows what our plans are for him,” Smith said.

Smith’s primary plan is to keep Martin healthy.

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Matt Moore may make sense for the Jets

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From the moment the Jets traded for receiver Brandon Marshall, speculation commenced about the identity of his quarterback.  With the new regime of G.M. Mike MacCagnan and coach Todd Bowles having no loyalty to Geno Smith (and with Smith not exactly showing a consistently high degree of ability), the Jets will likely at least explore other options.

The most obvious candidate, for speculation’s sake, becomes Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.  After all, Cutler and Marshall have twice played together, in Denver and in Chicago.  But the Jets reportedly aren’t interested in Cutler.

Marshall has played in another town, with a quarterback who was voted the team’s MVP in 2011.  That’s the same year Todd Bowles was promoted from defensive coordinator to interim head coach in Miami, after the firing of Tony Sparano.

The quarterback was Matt Moore, who is due to become a free agent on Tuesday.  In 12 starts four years ago, he completed 2,497 yards, averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, threw 16 touchdown passes and nine interceptions, and generated a passer rating of 87.2.

Moore wouldn’t bring much cachet to New York, but what are the other options?  Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has played for offensive coordinator Chan Gailey?  Sticking with Geno Smith?  Brian Hoyer?  Matt Schaub?

In 2013, the Dolphins gave Moore a two-year, $8 million contract to remain the backup to Ryan Tannehill.  A reunion with Bowles and Marshall could give Moore a chance to start again, for the first time since the final game of the 2011 season — which was a 19-17 win over the Jets.

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Reports: Rams right tackle Joe Barksdale to test free agency

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One of the Rams’ more marketable prospective free agents reportedly appears set to be unsigned when the new league year begins Tuesday.

Rams right tackle Joe Barksdale, PFT’s 74th-ranked free agent, is expected to test the market, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday. ESPN’s Nick Wagoner also reported there was a likelihood Barksdale shopped around.

The Rams and Barksdale’s representation have not been able to find a middle ground on a contract, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The 26-year-old Barksdale has started 29 of the last 30 games for St. Louis, including all 16 this season. A 2011 third-round pick of the Raiders, Barksdale (6-5, 326) joined St. Louis in September 2012 after Oakland waived him early in his second season.

Since then, he’s developed into an NFL starter, and he looks ready to entertain other league suitors.

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Pats, Revis talks haven’t happened yet, but will soon

Revis Getty Images

One of the biggest names in free agency belongs to someone who isn’t a free agent.  Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis is signed through 2015, under a contract that pays out a fully-guaranteed $20 million if Revis is on the roster as of March 10.

Before the Patriots have to decide whether to keep Revis at what would be a cap number of $25 million, the Patriots and Revis will try to negotiate a long-term deal.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, talks have not yet commenced.

They’ll necessarily begin soon.  But there’s a chance they won’t begin Monday.  Here’s our best guess (not report, but guess) on how they’ll unfold.

The Revis camp likely will know what other teams would pay Revis, if he becomes a free agent.  Technically tampering, it’s become common for agents to “gauge the market” when faced with a Door No. 1/Door No. 2 dilemma.

Though Revis has a reputation for chasing the biggest offer, he could decide to take less than what he could get elsewhere to stay with the Patriots.  The question becomes how much less would he take?

Another key factor likely will be the amount of money that is fully and completely guaranteed at signing.  At a time when the Seahawks may be considering a higher full guarantee as part of a deal with a lower annual average for Russell Wilson, a device like that could be a major factor for Revis.

However it works out, there are three options:  (1) Revis signs a new deal with the Patriots; (2) Revis is cut and signs a new deal with another team; or (3) the Patriots keep Revis at $20 million for 2015.

The third option is unlikely, because the parties contemplated that the contract signed in 2014 would be a one-year deal.  While Revis wouldn’t like it if the Patriots don’t cut Revis loose absent a new contract, he’d show up for work, earn the $20 million, and inevitably head toward the open market in 2017, since it would cost the Patriots a whopping $30 million to apply the franchise tag.

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Marshawn Lynch agrees to three-year, $31 million deal

Marshawn Lynch AP

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has agreed to terms on a new contract that covers the next three years.  And he’ll be paid at the high end of the running back market.

Per a source with knowledge of the terms, Lynch gets $12 million this year, in the form $7.5 million signing bonus and a $4.5 million fully-guaranteed base salary.

In 2016, Lynch (if he plays) will get a base salary of $9 million.  In 2017 (if he plays), it’s a base salary of $7 million in 2017 along with a $3 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2017 league year.

If Lynch retires after 2015, he’d be responsible in theory for paying back $5 million of the signing bonus.  But the Seahawks wouldn’t be required to pursue the money.  If they know going in that he may walk after 2015 (and that probably was one of the subjects discussed at Friday’s sit-down regarding the contract), it would be a surprise if they seek repayment of the money.

Lynch was scheduled to make $7 million in 2015, the final year of a four-year contract.  So, basically, he got another $5 million to return for one more year.

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Seahawks release TE Zach Miller

Zach Miller AP

The Seahawks are making a big change at tight end.

Seattle released veteran Zach Miller with a failed physical designation on Friday, the club announced. The 29-year-old Miller underwent two ankle surgeries in 2014.

Earlier Friday, PFT’s Mike Florio reported the Seahawks could have interest in Denver’s Julius Thomas, the top tight end available in free agency.

Miller hauled in 102 passes for 1,092 yards and eight TDs in four seasons with the Seahawks. He played his first four NFL seasons with Oakland (2007-2010).

If healthy, Miller could be attractive to clubs looking to add to their tight end depth. Earlier in his career, he caught 60 passes or more in back-to-back seasons with the Raiders.

In addition to releasing Miller, the Seahawks waived defensive tackle Jesse Williams and offensive tackle Garrett Scott (non-football illness). Williams was a fifth-round pick in 2013, while Scott was a sixth-round selection last year. In the case of Scott, a heart condition detected in a club physical in May ended his career before it started.

The Seahawks also confirmed they had signed defensive tackle Greg Scruggs, news of which emerged Thursday.

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Stephen Gostkowski signs franchise tender

Stephen Gostkowski, Zoltan Mesko AP

The Patriots opened the week by placing a $4.59 million franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

Gostkowski ended the week by signing it.

Field Yates of ESPN.com reports that Gostkowski has signed the tag, which guarantees him that salary absent agreement on a multi-year deal with the team. Signing the tag also eliminates the possibility, however remote, that the Patriots would rescind the tag and leave Gostkowski, who has been in New England since 2006, in search of a new home.

The Patriots and Gostkowski can work on a longer deal thru July 15 and the Patriots said they intended to do just that when they announced their decision to use the tag on Monday.

With that taken care of, whatever attention the Patriots were paying to the status of the tag can now be applied to other matters. Safety Devin McCourty is the biggest free agent-to-be, although the resolution of cornerback Darrelle Revis’s status for 2015 probably stands as the most pressing issue for the Super Bowl champs.

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Report: LaRon Landry suspended 10 games for violating PED policy

laronlandry AP

Free agent safety LaRon Landry is reportedly in line to miss more than half of the upcoming season.

Landry has been suspended for the first 10 games of the 2015 regular season by the NFL, Field Yates of ESPN.com reported Friday.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Landry’s ban is for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Last season, Landry served a four-game PED policy suspension as a member of the Colts, who released him in February.

The 30-year-old Landry has recorded 617 tackles, 41 passes defended and eight interceptions in eight seasons. However, the news of this latest ban puts his NFL career on hold — at best.

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Report: Davon House likely to test free agency

Davon House AP

One of the better unrestricted free agent cornerbacks is reportedly set to shop around come next week.

According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the agent for Packers cornerback Davon House has indicated his client will be testing free agency.

“I think he’s going to hit the market,” House’s representative, Kenny Zuckerman, told ESPN.

The 25-year-old House ranks 39th among PFT’s top free agents. Though House has made just 14 career starts in four NFL seasons, his size (6-0, 195), athleticism and relative youth for a free agent could appeal to clubs.

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Jets aren’t interested in trading for Jay Cutler (dang it)

Jay Cutler AP

The Jets took one of the Bears’ problems off their hands, but one is apparently enough.

According to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com, the Jets aren’t interested in trading for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, after they traded for Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall earlier today.

The speculation is natural, because Geno Smith has underwhelmed in his two years there, and a new coach and General Manager with no ties to him have no reason to stake their jobs on a guy they didn’t pick.

Coupled with Cutler’s availability — after new Bears coach John Fox went out of his way to not endorse him — there was plenty of reason to think it was possible, if not smart.

But let’s be honest — it would have been a hoot.

Putting a quarterback who may or may not care — and may or may not be liked by anyone he works with — in New York would have created a tabloid back page gold mine, which the entire country could have enjoyed, the way we enjoy watching spattering, out-of-control grease fire that burns down somebody else’s kitchen.

It might not have been productive for the Jets, but it sure would have been a lot of fun for the rest of us.

Killjoys.

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Jed York punts on decision to sign Jerome Simpson

Jed York AP

After the 49ers mutually parted ways (unless they didn’t) with coach Jim Harbaugh, owner Jed York said that the organization wants to win with class.

Some are having a hard time reconciling their decision to sign receiver Jerome Simpson with that objective.

Simpson, who was out of the league in 2014, has had three off-field incidents since 2012, one of which included the alleged delivery of 2.5 pounds of marijuana to his home.  So hows Simpson mesh with the whole “win with class” thing?  Owner Jed York has been asked that question.  He didn’t answer it.

“You have to ask [G.M.] Trent Baalke,” York told Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle.  “I don’t know what the thinking was.”

When it comes to the nature of the split with the team’s most recent head coach, York has a different position:  Don’t ask Harbaugh, who claims the parting wasn’t mutual.

“I feel sorry that’s how he feels,” York said. “I have a signed agreement that says otherwise.”

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Source: No deal yet between Marshawn, Seahawks

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It’s currently expected that the Seahawks and running back Marshawn Lynch will strike a new deal pursuant to which Lynch will return to the team for at least one more year.  But that hasn’t officially happened yet.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the meeting between Lynch and the Seahawks is due to start at 2:00 p.m. PT.  It’s believed that an agreement will be finalized at that time.

It’s also believed that the contract will commit Lynch to the Seahawks for at least one more year, at a significant increase over the $7 million he was due to earn in 2015.

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Report: Marshawn Lynch will return for another year in Seattle

Marshawn Lynch AP

Beast Mode is back for another run.

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has agreed to a new contract and will return for another season in Seattle, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Lynch has been noncommittal over the last month about whether he wants to keep playing football, and there had been talk that he might decide to retire. But the Seahawks have apparently enticed him to stay by offering him more money. Seattle also agreed to re-do Lynch’s contract last year to get him to show up to training camp.

Most players can’t get away with threatening to quit if they don’t get more money year after year, but Lynch is not most players. He’s one of the best players in the league, and one of the most important players to the Seahawks. And now they have him back.

UPDATE 5:00 p.m. ET:  PFT has learned that the deal is not yet done.  But it’s expected to be, soon.

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Bengals plan visit with A.J. Hawk for next week

A.J. Hawk AP

The Bengals re-signed Rey Maualuga on Friday, but they may not be done making moves at linebacker.

Geoff Hobson of the team’s website reports that the Bengals plan to bring A.J. Hawk in for a visit next week “as they rate veteran linebacker depth” in free agency. Hawk was released by the Packers last week, although Green Bay is reportedly open to a return at the right price.

With Emmanuel Lamur tendered at the second-round level, the interest in Hawk could be a hedge against anything less than a full return from Vontaze Burfict next season. Burfict had an injury-riddled 2014 season with a pair of concussions followed by a pair of knee surgeries, including a microfracture procedure that could delay his return to the practice field if not the lineup for the regular season.

Given the way Hobson framed the visit, Hawk likely won’t be the only linebacker under consideration for a job in Cincinnati once the market is flooded with free agents.

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Colts want to bring Trent Cole in if he leaves Tampa

Trent Cole AP

The Buccaneers were quick to show interest in former Eagles pass-rusher Trent Cole.

But they’re far from his only suitor.

Via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, the Colts want to bring Cole in for a visit if he leaves Tampa today without a deal.

The Colts have cap room to make moves, and need to add pass-rushers in the worst way, though Cole has been better as a 4-3 end than as a stand-up outside linebacker in a 3-4.

Of course, the Bucs also have the opportunity to keep him from making that trip, if they throw enough money his way.

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Raiders staying in Oakland . . . for a year

New York Jets v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

Good news, Raiders fans in Oakland and the Bay Area. The team isn’t leaving.

Bad news, Raiders fans in Oakland and the Bay Area. They still might.

The Joint Powers Authority in Oakland has approved a one-year lease that will allow the Raiders to play at O.Co Coliseum, via NBCBayArea.com. The move was expected because the window for submitting a relocation application has come and gone. It was a given that the Raiders would remain in Oakland for one more year.

The question becomes what they’ll do in 2016. The Chargers and Raiders are collaborating on a stadium they would share in Carson, California.

The powers-that-be in Carson and Inglewood currently are racing for the ability to build an NFL stadium in the L.A. area. The Chargers, Raiders, and Rams hope to be the two teams that end up there.

At least one of those teams will be the odd man out. If it’s the Raiders, they may be stuck in Oakland for a lot longer than 2015.

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