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Seahawks, Lynch have been talking new deal for four months

Lynch AP

Running back Marshawn Lynch wants a new deal from the Seahawks.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, there’s a “zero percent chance” he’ll show up for the start of training camp without a contract that replaces the final two seasons of his four-year, $30 million contract.

Talks have been occurring on and off, according to the source, for four months.  The Seahawks have resisted due to concerns that giving a player a new contract with two years left on his current agreement would set a bad precedent.

If that’s the case, it’s hard to see how rewarding the offensive player most critical to the team’s success in the last two years would set a bad precedent.  If, moving forward, other players with two years left on a contract want new deals because Marshawn Lynch got one, the easy answer is, “You’re not Marshawn Lynch.”

Besides, if Lynch waits until he has one year left on his contract, he may have far less value to the team than he does right now.  Indeed, the Seahawks may decide by next year to move on to someone else at tailback.

And so Lynch won’t be moving in to camp until he gets a new deal.  Given his personality and temperament, there’s a chance he’ll stay away as long as it takes, even if it never happens.

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Ezekiel Elliott disputes claim that he was “detained” by police

At a time when Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott remains under investigation by the NFL for a claim of domestic violence, Elliott apparently won’t be under investigation for a new incident.

In response to a report by TMZ that Elliott was “detained” by police at a nightclub on Friday night in Columbus, Ohio, Elliott posted a message on social media sharply opposing the claim.

I was never ‘detained’ by the police,” Elliott said, via Vince Langford of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Nor was I ever questioned or in any type of trouble.”

Elliott apparently is right, given that TMZ changed its tune to remove any reference to detention. The updated story claims that Elliott’s representatives say he “spoke with cops” about an incident in the nightclub, and that the matter did not involve Elliott.

The current version of the post still notes that an eyewitness told TMZ that Elliott “had been detained,” but TMZ admits that others have said “that was not the case.”

The bigger issue for Elliott continues to be the absence of a decision from the NFL exonerating him for the allegation that he assaulted a female acquaintance last July. Both Elliott and his lawyer have agitated for closure, but the league still has said and done nothing to resolve the situation. Last month, owner Jerry Jones reiterated his own belief that the issue is over — even if it isn’t.

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Sunday morning one-liners

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 30:  Dalvin Cook #4 of the Florida State Seminoles carries the ball in the second half against the Michigan Wolverines during the Capitol One Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on December 30, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) Getty Images

A look at what free agency will bring for Bills WR Brandon Tate.

Assessing the cost of the Dolphins bringing back WR Kenny Stills.

What will the Patriots do at tight end this offseason?

Former Jets G Damien Woody was “shocked” by CB Darrelle Revis‘ arrest.

The case for the Ravens drafting a cornerback in the first round.

An update on Bengals RB Giovani Bernard’s recovery from a torn ACL.

When should the Browns address the quarterback position?

The Steelers still aren’t sure what they have in CB Senquez Golson.

Texans DE J.J. Watt donated $10,000 to a Wisconsin family dealing with the aftereffects of a fatal car accident.

Some praise for a pair of Colts rookies.

Alabama DL Jonathan Allen could fit with the Jaguars.

Will the Titans draft players with local ties this year?

Four free agent options for the Broncos at wide receiver.

A look at which positions are popular picks for the Chiefs in mock drafts.

A breakdown of the Raiders defensive line.

The Chargers like what they got from rookie LB Jatavis Brown.

An attempt at figuring out a way the Cowboys could make a run at signing DE Jason Pierre-Paul.

Will the Giants trade for a left tackle?

An optimistic take on the Eagles defense for 2017.

How much roster turnover will the Redskins have this year?

The film will help the Bears make a quarterback decision.

Lions RB Ameer Abdullah appears to be on track in his injury rehab.

Remembering when former Packers DE Willie Davis stood with Muhammad Ali.

WR Adam Thielen’s contract is a hot topic around the Vikings.

A breakdown of the Falcons defensive backs.

The Panthers have started working on their offensive line.

The Saints have decisions to make at safety.

Will the Buccaneers have a shot at drafting Florida State RB Dalvin Cook?

General Manager Steve Keim said the Cardinals’ contract talks with LB Chandler Jones have gone well.

Fixing the Rams offensive line isn’t a quick job.

The 49ers have a youthful coaching staff at the top.

There are several tackle options available for the Seahawks.

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Earl Mitchell lining up visits with teams

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 29:   Chris Ivory #33 of the New York Jets runs against  Earl Mitchell #90 of the Miami Dolphins during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 29, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell was released by the Dolphins last Thursday in a move that saves Miami some money under the cap and gives Mitchell a jump on free agents when it comes to landing a new job.

It looks like he should be in good position to do that. Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that Mitchell has lined up visits with the Seahawks, Falcons, 49ers and Broncos since being released.

The Seahawks and Falcons run similar 4-3 schemes on defense and would be looking to plug Mitchell into their rotations on the interior of the line. The 49ers hired Robert Saleh as their defensive coordinator this week and head coach Kyle Shanahan cited the Seahawks and Falcons as models for the defense they plan to run.

Denver, meanwhile, is now coached by Vance Joseph. Joseph was the defensive coordinator in Miami last season and is therefore very familiar with what Mitchell can bring to a defense.

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Cardinals want to win now, will be aggressive in free agency

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 11:  Carson Palmer #3 and Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals look on during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 11, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals took a big step backward from 13-3 in 2015 to 7-8-1 in 2016, and they’re eager to change things in a hurry.

Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim said the Cardinals’ priority in free agency will be players who can make an immediate impact.

“We’ll certainly be aggressive and keep our foot on the gas pedal, try to keep pushing this thing in the right direction,” Keim said. “There’s no doubt we took a step back last year. We’ve got to pick up the pieces and make some good decisions this offseason.”

Keim acknowledged wanting to win while the 37-year-old Carson Palmer and the soon-to-be 34-year-old Larry Fitzgerald are still around, although he said he considers himself an aggressive G.M. all the time.

“There are guys like Carson and Larry where you know the end is sooner rather than later. So you have to try and build around them and, so to speak, go for it now,” he said. “But that’s our mindset every year. We’re never in a rebuilding phase. To me, you owe it to your fanbase to go for it every year, to be aggressive either in free agency or the draft. But you also have to keep in mind that you are going to do the right thing for the organization for the long-term. That’s the biggest challenge.”

If the Cardinals don’t improve this year, it may be rebuilding time, even if Keim never wants to think of the team in those terms.

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Patriots will ask Danny Amendola to take a pay cut

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 07:  New England Patriots wide reciever Danny Amendola celebrates during the New England Patriots victory parade on February 7, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime in Super Bowl 51. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images) Getty Images

New England receiver Danny Amendola has agreed to restructure his contract in each of the last two offseasons, and now the Patriots hope to make it three in a row.

Amendola will not be back on his current contract, Mike Reiss of ESPN reports.

Under the restructured deal Amendola agreed to last offseason, Amendola gets a base salary of $6 million and a roster bonus of $375,000. That’s way more than the Patriots are going to pay a receiver who had 23 catches for 243 yards last year.

Still, the Patriots like what Amendola can contribute, both on offense and on special teams. So they’d like him to come back, if they can convince him to take a pay cut. Given how agreeable Amendola has been the last two years, it seems reasonable that they can come to terms again, as long as Amendola can accept that he’s going to get a lot less than $6.375 million for 2017.

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Cardinals may have a hard time keeping Tony Jefferson

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 20: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball in the second half of the game against the Arizona Cardinals on November 20, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Getty Images

Yes, the Cardinals would like to re-sign safety Tony Jefferson. They may have a hard time doing it, however.

The Cardinals have plenty of cap space already devoted to the secondary, with big contracts previously given to cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu. They need to smooth out the cap burden among all positions, and they can’t afford to get top heavy on the last line of defense.

The franchise tag hasn’t been mentioned as to Jefferson; with the team intending to apply it to pass rusher Chandler Jones (and Jones should decline to do a long-term deal until the tag is applied), they won’t be able to tag Jefferson.

And so Jefferson, who quietly became one of the best safeties in the NFL last season, could be headed for  a major payday in a place other than Arizona. Last month, Jefferson admitted that he has put himself in different uniforms in the Madden game to see how it all looks.

It looks like Jefferson will be moving on, unless the Cardinals are willing to over-invest in their secondary at the expense of the rest of the team.

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Dolphins sign Cameron Wake through 2018

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 03:  Cameron Wake #91 of the Miami Dolphins looks on during a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Sun Life Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins are strengthening their commitment to defensive end Cameron Wake.

Wake has signed a new contract that keeps him with the team through 2018, the Dolphins announced today.

This is the second time in the last 10 months that Wake has signed a two-year extension; he also signed one in May. This time Wake is getting $19 million over two years, including $11 million guaranteed.

The 35-year-old Wake got some comeback player of the year consideration for the way he bounced back from a ruptured Achilles tendon to record 11.5 sacks in 2016. The Dolphins obviously believe he has a couple more good years left in him.

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Will the Rams tag Trumaine Johnson again?

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 27:  Cornerback Trumaine Johnson #22 of the St. Louis Rams intercepts a pass against wide receiver Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 27, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

At a time when the football-following world is considering whether Washington will apply the franchise tag a second time to quarterback Kirk Cousins and whether the Chiefs will apply the franchise tag a second time to safety Eric Berry, the Rams have a player who was tagged a year ago, who could be tagged again.

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson received the tag a year ago. To do it again, Johnson would be entitled to a 20-percent raise over hi $13.952 million salary from a year ago. That’s $16.74 million for one more year with Johnson.

The Rams have to decide whether to make that investment or to let Johnson hit the open market. If he goes, it will be the second straight year for the Rams to lose a top-shelf cornerback to free agency.

Assessing Johnson for a potential return will be a new coaching staff, with a defensive coordinator who comes from a Broncos team that was loaded with quality corners. So what will Sean McVay want? What will Wade Phillips want? And what are the options for replacing him, both on the roster and elsewhere?

There will be plenty of much cheaper choices for the Rams, but can they do as well or better than Johnson? It’s a decision the Rams will have to make by March 1, one way or the other.

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Stefon Diggs: Brilliant troll or flat-earth truther?

ad_194387053 Getty Images

As a football player, I’ve been a fan of Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs from the moment he made his first impact on the NFL as a rookie in 2015. As a potential social-media troll, he may have even better chops. Unless he’s really not deliberately riling up his followers when he suggests that he agrees with NBA player Kyrie Irving’s view that the Earth is flat.

Yes, whether the Earth is flat has recently become a thing in the sports world. Irving may be trolling, too, and the ultimately genius of the approach (if it’s all an act) is that it points out the nature of the age in which we currently reside. Given the ridiculous factual claims that people are willing to blindly embrace as true, maybe it’s not ludicrous to think someone genuinely rejects the long-settled notion that the Earth is round.

The Big Lead has items on both Irving’s comments and the tweets from Diggs. My own assessment is that Diggs is having fun with the issue, but that Irving actually may believe what he’s saying.

Irving would hardly be alone regarding the lingering notion that the planet is pancake-shaped; a few minutes with Google unlocked plenty of evidence of others who reject the evidence that the world is round. The argument hinges on the notion that the spherical theory emerged as a way to supplant religion with science, since the Bible suggests that the world is flat.

The claim is less stunning given that the flat-or-round world generally has morphed into a place where the line between fact and opinion has been obliterated, and all that matters is what you believe.

I believe I now need a nap.

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Saturday one-liners


The son of Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim plays for a flag football team coached by Frank Caliendo.

Former NFL head coach Gary Kubiak talked up 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan as a coach, but not as a babysitter.

Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur confirms that the new staff will adapt its system to the players on the roster.

Former Seahawks running backs coach Sherman Smith was considering returning until he learned that the team wanted to make a change.

Former NFL DE Jared Allen has an idea for stopping Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott that would put Allen’s hog-tying skills to good use.

Former Eagles S Quintin Mikell is leaving the team’s front office. (Maybe he’ll eventually be very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very still with me? good very very very very very very close to becoming the San Francisco G.M., like another former Eagles front-office employee.)

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is cooking up a new catch phrase that will do little to change the perception that he’s kind of a dork.

Here’s a look at the difficulty of the Giants’ 2017 schedule, which includes six games against playoff teams.

The Bears have four likely paths for finding a new quarterback.

Would stadium enhancements help the Lions attract free agents?

For how much longer will Packers QB Aaron Rodgers play at a high level?

Does moving on from RB Adrian Peterson give the Vikings a path for moving toward a better team?

Falcons QB Matt Ryan is providing a recruiting assist at a college other than the one he attended.

Should the Saints avoid receivers in free agency?

Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston gave advice to Yankees prospects last week.

The Panthers made an organized effort to acknowledge Random Acts of Kindness Week.

For $20, you can tour the stadium where the Raiders play. (For $50, you don’t have to go on the tour.)

Get to know Chiefs CB Steven Nelson.

At least one Denver columnist believes the Broncos should take a serious look at Tony Romo.

Appreciating former Chargers assistant coach Dave Adolph, who recently died at 79.

What should the Bills do with QB EJ Manuel?

The Dolphins will use some of LT Branden Albert’s $8.87 million salary to pay a guard.

Patriots CB Cyrus Jonesdidn’t feel a part of” the Super Bowl win. (Patriots fans are surely happy he wasn’t given a chance to feel a live ball graze his leg as he inexplicably ran toward it during a punt return.)

Here’s a look at the Jets’ cap situation, and more.

The Bengals have 12 pending unrestricted free agents.

If Ravens DT Brandon Williams goes, Michael Pierce will be counted on to fill the void.

Browns LT Joe Thomas will appear on Celebrity Family Feud. (“Show me ‘Scurried off the stage like a rat!‘”)

Steelers WR Antonio Brown has brought back Ronald Ocean. (At least he didn’t go with Ronald Mexico.)

Texans S Quintin Demps on CB A.J. Bouye: “Pay the man.”

Should the Jaguars roll the dice on LT Branden Albert?

The Titans hold the fifth overall pick due to last year’s trade with L.A.; will they trade down again?

Catching up with 90-year-old George Taliaferro, a former Colts player who also was the first African-American player ever drafted by an NFL team.

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If tagged by the Panthers, will Kawann Short sign it?

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 15:  Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets braces for impact as he is hit by Kawann Short #99 of the Carolina Panthers during play at Bank of America Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 30-20.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the franchise tag window open and an apple pie still slowly cooling on the ledge, the question becomes whether any of the players who ultimately receive the one-year payday that goes along with being blocked from the open market will view it as a turd sandwich.

Guys like Kirk Cousins won’t; at $23.94 million for 2017, he’ll gladly pounce on the tender, signing it and adding the dollars to his $19.95 million from 2016. For others, it’s still not clear what they will do.

Last month, Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short suggested he’d quickly accept a one-year franchise tender from the Panthers. While that comment quickly was clarified to suggest Short won’t sign it quickly, there’s still a chance that Short will decide to take the one-year payday, attempt to negotiate a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline, and if necessary do it again in 2018.

In 2016, the Panthers shocked the NFL by rescinding the tender from cornerback Josh Norman in April, making him a free agent after the big money had flowed. Norman still got a great deal, and there’s a chance that, if the Panthers become exasperated with Short and yank the tag, he’ll reel in a big deal, too.

Signing the tender would lock the team in to more than $13 million in cash and cap dollars. If the Panthers need cap space to do other business, one way to get it would be to sign Short to a long-term deal. After the tender is signed, they can’t grab cap space by revoking the tender.

All of this assumes that the tag will indeed be applied to Short. During Super Bowl week, coach Ron Rivera suggested that the tag probably will be applied to Short.

For now, it’s too early to know whether he probably would or probably wouldn’t sign it. We’ll all definitely know at some point after the tag is applied.

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Hall of Fame voter: Michael Irvin was better than T.O.

5 Jan 1997:  Appropriately-dressed Michael Irvin "fans" look on during a playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers at Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The Panthers won the game, 26-17. Mandatory Credit: Craig Jones Getty Images

With at least one Hall of Fame voter who resents being questioned or criticized has decided to whine about “the Mike Florios of the world,” my official response consists of two words: Thank you. (My unofficial response contains several of the same letters and one of the same words, but it can’t be repeated on a family-friendly-sometimes website.)

The criticism of the failure to induct receiver Terrell Owens in his second year of eligibility (more specifically, the failure to even put him in the final 10 in 2017) has begun to smoke out some of the voters who resent the throwing of rocks at their ivory tower, forcing them to make public their case against T.O.

MDS crafted a masterful deconstruction of the Ron Borges get-off-my-lawn essay that exposed not only his illogical drop-based argument but also the same kind of lazy arrogance (copying and pasting quotes obtained and transcribed by others without credit) that quite possibly influences every other aspect of his work, including his work on behalf of the Hall of Fame. Indeed, it’s not the first time Borges has been caught copying and pasting without attribution. (My first and only direct communication with Borges occurred more than a decade ago, when I complained to him that multiple different PFT blurbs ended up without attribution in one of this Sunday notes columns above the vague and goofy “material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report” disclaimer.) For most journalists, getting caught in what is the ultimate evidence of lazy arrogance and a hollow work ethic would be a career killer. Somehow, Borges is both still gainfully employed and a member of the Hall of Fame selection committee.

But this blurb isn’t supposed to be about Borges (even though it is). It’s supposed to be about specific arguments made to me via email by Hall of Fame voter Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. In fairness to Gary, I’ve separately published the full, approved content of an email summarizing multiple prior messages. For now, I want to focus on the primary argument Gary made: Michael Irvin is more worthy of Canton than Terrell Owens.

“Michael Irvin didn’t get in the HOF until his third year and I could easily make a case he was a better player than T.O.,” Myers wrote. “For sure, if I had a choice of having one of them on my team, I would take Irvin. Not even close in my mind. . . . [J]ust as far as their playing ability, Irvin played on three Super Bowl championship teams. He was a leader and a winner. He had much better hands. Owens dropped an awful lot of passes. Irvin imposed his will on games while Owens was carrying a Sharpie in his sock and eating popcorn with the cheerleaders.

“I was not on the committee when Irvin was a candidate, but my guess is his off the field problems are why it took him three years to get in, although the mandate from the HOF is not to consider issues away from the field like arrests and drug use. In the case of Owens and others who were considered distractions, the locker room is considered an extension of the field.”

Irvin created at least one unprecedented distraction, at least as far as anyone in the media or general public knows. He stabbed a teammate in the neck with scissors on team property. As “horrible teammates” go, that would seem to set the bar.

As great receivers go, Owens set the bar a hell of a lot higher than Irvin. He currently sits at No. 8 on the all-time list, with 1,078 receptions. Irvin is tied for 38th, with 750.

Owens is No. 2 in receiving yards, with 15,934. Irvin sits at No. 26, behind the likes of Derrick Mason.

As to total touchdowns, T.O. is No. 5, with 156. Irvin ranks 120 spots lower, tied at 65 touchdowns with Sonny Randle, Joe Morrison, Charlie Joiner, Elroy Hirsch, Calvin Hill, Terrell Davis, Gary Clark, Billy Cannon, and Emerson Boozer.

When it comes to production over the course of a career, it’s not even a close case. It’s not even close to being a close case. And while Irvin has three Super Bowl titles, does anyone think Owens wouldn’t have at least one if he’d been the third leg of the Triplets tripod, especially with an offensive line that consistently dominated its foes?

Of course, Owens still had an opportunity to win a championship, and he did everything in his power to return from a broken leg to catch nine passes for 122 yards against the Patriots in a three-point Super Bowl XXIX loss. But Myers shrugged at that achievement.

“The Eagles won two playoff games without him to get to the Super Bowl that year and then lost the Super Bowl with him,” Myers said.

Technically, that’s correct. The Eagles did get to Jacksonville without him and they did lose there with him. But does anyone really think the Eagles lost because of him?

The more accurate view is that Owens did his job more than well enough on that day to deliver an NFL title to Philadelphia for the first time since 1960, and that not enough of those around Owens did. By nonchalantly dismissing one of the brightest moments of T.O.’s career, Myers says plenty about what the panel thinks of Owens, plenty about whether it’s inclined to induct him any time soon, and plenty about whether the whole thing needs to be dismantled and rebuilt from scratch.

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Gary Myers explains the Terrell Owens snub

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 07:  Terrell Owens #81 of the Dallas Cowboys antagonizes the crowd during a stop in play while playing the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 7, 2008 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won the game 20-13.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

[Editor’s note: Earlier this week, Gary Myers of the New York Daily News contacted me via email to explain his case against putting Terrell Owens in the Hall of Fame. We exchanged several messages on the topic, and I eventually asked Myers whether his views are “on the record.” He said that they were not, but he offered to summarize his position with an express invitation to use any, some, or all of it. In fairness to Gary, I have decided to post his entire approved message below. Subsequent PFT posts may use portions of his message.]

I’ve been reading your posts on the Hall of Fame and the controversy over Terrell Owens not getting elected again this year. Just want you to know I would have absolutely no problem revealing my ballot. I believe in full transparency. Nothing to hide. I usually publish my vote in the Daily News.

I know you don’t agree with the statement I made a year ago on Dan Patrick’s radio show (Ross Tucker was hosting that day) that teams could not wait to get rid of T.O. Once he became a problem or cancer in the locker room, I think it’s clear they could not wait to dump him. It just took longer in S.F. than Philly or Dallas.

I did vote for Owens in the cut from 15 to 10 two years in a row but honestly had not made up my mind if I would vote for him either year if he had made the cut to five. Unfortunately for him, he was eliminated each year in the cut to 10.

There are some very smart journalists in that meeting room. I can only speak for myself: I have opinions. I don’t have an agenda. I’ve been covering the NFL since 1978, longer than just about anybody in the room except maybe four or five people out of the 46 media members. This year, HOFers Dan Fouts and James Lofton were added, increasing the number of voters to 48.

I think I know what a Hall of Famer looks like. T.O. will be in the Hall of Fame. Just because he didn’t get into the HOF the first or second year doesn’t mean the process needs to be overhauled. Michael Irvin didn’t get in the HOF until his third year and I could easily make a case he was a better player than T.O. For sure, if I had a choice of having one of them on my team, I would take Irvin. Not even close in my mind.

Owens signed a seven-year deal with the Eagles after he was acquired from the 49ers. In his second training camp with the Eagles, he wanted a new contract and became a tremendous pain and blew up the defending NFC champs. He had played one year of a seven-year contract. I know contracts are one-way in the NFL,  but even for Owens, that was a bit much, complaining just 14% of the way through the deal for a team he wanted to play for and in a city that embraced him.

First, he was such a problem he got thrown out of camp by Andy Reid and later in the season, he was thrown off the team. The Eagles finished in last place with a 6-10 record. I know a lot is made of his courageous Super Bowl game and it was pretty amazing. But the Eagles won two playoff games without him to get to the Super Bowl that year and then lost the Super Bowl with him.

As far as the comparison to Irvin, just as far as their playing ability, Irvin played on three Super Bowl championship teams. He was a leader and a winner. He had much better hands. Owens dropped an awful lot of passes. Irvin imposed his will on games while Owens was carrying a Sharpie in his sock and eating popcorn with the cheerleaders.

I was not on the committee when Irvin was a candidate, but my guess is his off the field problems are why it took him three years to get in, although the mandate from the HOF is not to consider issues away from the field like arrests and drug use. In the case of Owens and others who were considered distractions, the locker room is considered an extension of the field.

All that being said, I think Owens is a HOFer. There’s some great players who had to exhibit patience before they were elected. In my opinion, the case for Owens being a first or second ballot HOFer would have been strengthened if he played on a Super Bowl championship team.

I know the voting process has become an issue you are passionate about. I would really suggest you contact Joe Horrigan at the HOF and ask to be added to the committee when there is an opening. You would be a valuable voice in the room.

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Terrell Owens dropped passes, as great receivers do

MIAMI - OCTOBER 04:  Wide receiver Terrell Owens #81 of the Buffalo Bills can't make a catch in the end-zone over the defense of cornerback Vontae Davis #21 of the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Bills 38-10.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) Getty Images

We noted earlier that one Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ron Borges, has finally made an on-field case for why Owens should be excluded, that he dropped too many passes. We’ve now taken some time to examine that claim, and we find it to be weak.

Although drops are not an official NFL statistic, Borges appeared to be relying on Stats, LLC, which has tracked drops since the 1990s, for his claim that “Owens not only led the NFL in drops once, he finished in the top four in drops seven other seasons during his 15-year career.” That is true, but missing the important context that league leaders in drops are often among the NFL’s best wide receivers.

After going through all the Stats, LLC, drops data for Owens’ career, I’ve compiled these notes on Owens’ dropped passes in each of his 15 NFL seasons:

1996: Owens dropped just one pass while making 35 catches as a rookie.

1997: Owens dropped five passes and wasn’t even in the Top 50 in drops. Hall of Famer Michael Irvin was second in the NFL with 11 drops, while Hall of Famer Tim Brown was tied for fourth with nine drops.

1998: Owens dropped five passes and wasn’t even in the Top 50 in drops while catching 64.4 percent of the passes thrown to him. His teammate Jerry Rice dropped eight passes and was tied for 12th in drops while catching 54.3 percent of the passes thrown to him.

1999: Owens again dropped five passes, again wasn’t even in the Top 50 in drops, and again had better marks than Rice while playing in the same offense: Owens caught 61.2 percent of the passes thrown to him while Rice dropped nine passes and caught 54.0 percent of the passes thrown to him.

2000: Owens dropped 13 passes and was fourth in the NFL in drops. Leading the NFL in drops that year with 16 was Rod Smith, who has been discussed as a Hall of Fame candidate.

2001: Owens dropped 10 passes and was tied for fourth in the NFL. (Owens also led the league in touchdown catches.)

2002: Owens dropped 10 passes, tied for ninth in the NFL. Tied with, among others, Jerry Rice, who dropped the same number of passes while having fewer catches, fewer yards and fewer touchdowns than Owens. Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison led the NFL with 16 drops.

2003: Owens dropped 11 passes and was tied for third in the NFL. He also caught 80 passes for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns and went to the Pro Bowl.

2004: Owens dropped seven passes. There were 17 NFL players who dropped as many or more passes than Owens while catching fewer passes that season.

2005: Owens dropped five passes, tied for 36th in the NFL.

2006: Owens led the NFL with 17 drops. This is Owens’ first year in Dallas and the one and only year when it’s legitimate to argue that he dropped an inordinate amount of passes. It’s also worth noting that he led the NFL in touchdown catches.

2007: Owens dropped 10 passes, tied for third in the NFL. He also caught 81 passes for 1,355 yards and 15 touchdowns and was chosen as a first-team All-Pro.

2008: Owens dropped 10 passes, fourth in the NFL. He also caught 69 passes for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns.

2009: Owens dropped nine passes and was tied for fourth in the NFL. He also led an otherwise terrible Bills passing offense with 55 catches for 829 yards.

2010: Owens was tied with Brandon Marshall for third in drops. Wes Welker was first and Reggie Wayne was second.

So did Owens drop a lot of passes? Sure, especially as his career was winding down in Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati. But a lot of great receivers drop a lot of passes. Is Borges going to argue that Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Tim Brown and Marvin Harrison should be removed from the Hall of Fame because they were all on the drops leaderboards with Owens? Is Borges going to argue that Rod Smith, Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker and Reggie Wayne don’t have good career résumés because they were all on the drops leaderboards with Owens?

When you’re knocking a player because he did a lot of bad things — dropped a lot of passes or threw a lot of interceptions or fumbled a lot — it’s important to remember that you can only be in a position to do a lot of bad things if your team is relying on you a lot, and your team is only going to rely on you a lot if you’re a good player. Brett Favre is the NFL’s all-time leader in both interceptions and fumbles, but no one disputes that he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Owens dropped a lot of passes, which tells us that his quarterbacks threw to him a lot, and he got his hands on the ball a lot. A mediocre NFL receiver doesn’t get the opportunity to drop a lot of passes because he doesn’t get open often enough for his quarterback to throw to him, he doesn’t adjust to the ball well enough to get his hands on it, and he doesn’t last long enough to stay on the field if he keeps dropping the ball.

Great receivers like Owens, Rice, Irvin, Brown and Harrison dropped the ball a lot because they got the ball thrown to them a lot. And they got the ball thrown to them a lot because they’re Hall of Famers. At least, all of them but Owens are Hall of Famers. Owens’ absence from Canton says more about voters like Borges than it says about Owens himself.

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Matt Schaub, Brian Hoyer could be among 49ers’ targets

HOUSTON - JULY 31:  Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans and  Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Kyle Shanahan talk before the start of practice during Texans training camp on July 31, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan wants to find a long-term solution at the quarterback position. But if that long-term solution turns out to be a rookie who’s not ready to start in 2017, Matt Schaub and Brian Hoyer are among the possibilities for a stopgap starter.

Schaub and Hoyer both have connections to Shanahan, and Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee writes that he expects either Schaub or Hoyer or both to be added to the 49ers’ roster.

Schaub was with Shanahan in Atlanta last season, was previously with Shanahan in Houston and has been linked to Shanahan as a possible 49ers quarterback in 2017. Schaub becomes a free agent on March 9.

Hoyer started 13 games for the Browns in 2014 when Shanahan was their offensive coordinator, and the two made for a pretty good combination, with the Browns going 7-6 in the games Hoyer started. Hoyer has heaped praise on Shanahan recently, and he also becomes a free agent on March 9.

Both Schaub and Hoyer are in their 30s and neither has ever been a great NFL starter, so they wouldn’t exactly bring a ton of excitement to San Francisco. But as available veterans go, you could do worse than Schaub and Hoyer. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if that’s the direction the 49ers decide to go in for now, while drafting a rookie quarterback for the future.

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