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Romo will play on Saturday


He may be 100 percent.  He may not be 100 percent.  Either way, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will play on Saturday night against the Ravens.

“You’re not guaranteed anything, so it’s special just to play football,” Romo said Tuesday, via Todd Archer of  “It’s special to play for the team I get to play for, and it’s special to get out there and put the helmet on.  For me, I don’t take that for granted.  I know that it’s a great feeling when you do get out there.”

Romo needs experience in an offense that features a new play caller, Scott Linehan.

“I think you have to play in the preseason,” Romo said.  “Obviously, some people can’t, but I do know from my perspective, this game is not just something where you can show up and think that you can do it.  I think it’s been proven far too many times that if you take too long of a break or don’t get reps under you that you will be exposed in certain areas.  I’m a firm believer that you have to play football to get better at football.  Football’s a way of life.  It’s not just [a] sometimes thing.  It’s an all-the-time thing if you’re going to be a great player, and I think if you have the opportunity to play, you’ve got to play.”

Romo didn’t play last week against the Chargers, and questions remain regarding the consistency of his deep passes following a second back surgery in two years.  He’ll begin to answer some of those questions against Baltimore on Saturday.

Including whether he can avoid further back problems.

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2013 quarterback draft class was a disaster


Four years ago, only one quarterback was drafted in the first round, and only two were taken through the first 72 selections. Most teams knew what they were doing in passing on available passers.

In hindsight, the 2013 draft class was a disaster.

Former Bills quarterback EJ Manuel, the 16th overall pick in the draft that year, started 10 games as a rookie and a total of seven since then. He has 19 career touchdown passes, 20 turnovers, and a passer rating of 77.5.

Geno Smith (pictured), picked 39th overall by the Jets, started all 16 games as a rookie and 13 in 2014. A broken jaw resulting from a locker-room punch in August 2015 ended his time with the Jets as a starter; he has 28 touchdown passes, 36 interceptions, seven lost fumbles, and a passer rating of 72.4.

The next guy off the board was Mike Glennon, in round three. He played well enough in two seasons to position the Buccaneers to earn the first overall pick in the draft, which they used to pick Glennon’s replacement, Jameis Winston. Glennon started 18 total games before taking a seat behind Winston.

With 30 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions, and a passer rating of 84.6, he’s clearly the best of a bad bunch. Which partially explains his $15 million per year deal in Chicago. (It’s still not clear who the Bears were bidding against.)

Also drafted that year were a flurry of fourth-rounders: Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson, and Landry Jones. Of them, Barkley (six starts) and Jones (four starts) have played the most. Somewhat surprisingly, both ended up with better second contracts than Manuel or Smith.

Barkley signed a two-year, $4 million deal with a $500,000 signing bonus in San Francisco. Jones has a two-year, $4.4 million contract in Pittsburgh, with $600,000 to sign. In contrast, Manuel has a one-year, $800,000 contract in Oakland and Smith has a one-year deal with a base value of $775,000 and a maximum value of $2 million.

Also drafted that year were a quartet of seventh rounders: Brad Sorensen, Zac Dysert, B.J. Daniels, and Sean Renfree.

So it was a very bad year for quarterbacks in the draft. Kudos to (most) of the teams for realizing this and not over-drafting signal-callers. And condolences to Manuel and Smith for somehow sliding behind Barkley and Jones when the time came to sign a second deal.

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Colts cut Arthur Jones

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The Arthur Jones era in Indianapolis has come to an end.

The Colts announced this morning that they have released Jones, a defensive tackle who has spent the last three seasons with the team.

When the Colts signed Jones to a five-year, $33 million contract in 2014, they thought he’d make a huge impact in the defense run by coach Chuck Pagano, who had previously coached Jones in Baltimore. But Jones played in just 17 games in three seasons, missing time with injuries in all three years and also serving a four-game PED suspension.

The 30-year-old Jones probably still has some football left in him. But he’s going to have to sign with a team that’s offering him a lot less money than he made in Indianapolis.

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Four tech giants bidding for online streaming of Thursday games


When owners meet in Phoenix next week, they’re expected to get an update on the bidding for the online streaming package for Thursday Night Football, and it’s apparently a competitive process.

According to Kurt Wagner of Recode, four tech giants are bidding for the package, with Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and YouTube expressing interest.

Twitter paid $10 million for the rights to 10 games last year, chosen from offers from the other three. This year, others could join the mix, and the added interest could drive that higher, which will be sweeter music to the ears of owners than any birds chirping.

The deal is more interesting for its potential for growth and worldwide reach than current value, because $10 million is bar tab money compared to what the league is getting from broadcast networks.

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All halftimes will be 13 minutes, 30 seconds

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As the NFL looks to tighten the belt regarding the amount of time it takes to play a game, the league will be adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to halftime.

The duration of intermission will expand from 12 minutes to 13 minutes and 30 seconds. While on the surface that could make some games longer, the 12-minute intermission currently has some play in the joints. Moving forward, all halftimes will last precisely 13 minutes and 30 seconds.

“Halftime currently is 12 minutes, but there is built-in delay time that involves teams getting to the locker room and the infrastructure of our stadiums and how they’re configured,” Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said during a Thursday conference call. “So we’re going to eliminate all of those discretionary periods of time and just have a clock, 13 minutes and 30 seconds, and at the end of that period, the ball will be made ready for play for the second half kickoff.”

The change doesn’t appear on a lengthy list of proposed rule changes for 2017. Apparently, this is the type of administrative matter that the league office can handle without a vote of the owners.

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Brian Quick goes to Washington

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Sean McVay made the move from the Redskins to the Rams this offseason and wide receiver Brian Quick will be making the opposite jump.

Quick’s agents announced on Friday that their client has signed a deal with the Redskins. Quick joins Terrelle Pryor as new additions to a receiving corps that lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon as free agents this month.

Quick was the 33rd pick of the 2012 draft and is coming off his most productive NFL season. Quick caught 41 passes for 564 yards and three touchdowns last season while playing with Case Keenum and Jared Goff.

A move to playing with Kirk Cousins would seem to bode well for Quick’s chances of building on those numbers, although Quick’s playing time may be dependent on how ready 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson is after missing almost all of his rookie season with an Achilles injury.

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Brian Robison takes 2017 pay cut, adds year to contract

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Vikings defensive end Brian Robison has agreed to an extension through the 2018 season that comes with a pay cut for this season.

Field Yates of reports that the veteran will cut his base salary from $5.3 million to a fully-guaranteed $3.9 million for the coming year while also giving up $300,000 in workout and per-game roster bonuses. He will have those bonuses in his contract for the 2018 season along with a $3.2 million base salary that includes $1.25 million in guaranteed money.

Robison is heading into his 11th season with the Vikings and has started all but one of the regular season games the team has played over the last six seasons. He had 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles last season, but saw Danielle Hunter, who finished the year with 12.5 sacks, eat into his playing time as the year progressed.

With linebacker Chad Greenway retiring and running back Adrian Peterson released, Robison has now spent more time with the Vikings than any other player on the current roster.

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Philip Rivers: Any rookie QB will have to sit for a while

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The Chargers have talked about the possibility of adding a quarterback in the draft and they’re doing their due diligence on this year’s prospects.

They had workouts with Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs and are set to work out Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer on Friday. If they do draft a quarterback, they’ll be playing behind Philip Rivers and Rivers said during an interview with Nick Hardwick and Judson Richards on KLSD that he’d be willing to act as a mentor. He also said that the learning process would be an extended one for any new arrival.

“You expect at some point they’re going to get a younger guy in the room to try to start to develop him and groom him,” Rivers said. “It doesn’t by any means really affect me. I think it’s healthy for me to know this thing doesn’t last forever. I have to get to playing better and keep this thing going as long as you can. I think as long as I do that, then whoever it is they bring in here, they’re going to sit for a while.”

Rivers is signed through 2019, so any rookie addition would be sitting for at least three years if he plays out his current pact with the team that didn’t let Drew Brees‘ presence stop them from adding a quarterback in the first round of the 2004 draft.

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NFL has no specific proposal for automatic ejections/suspensions, yet

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The long list of proposed rule changes does not include a proposal regarding ejections or immediate suspensions based on certain types of hits. Apparently, that’s because the league has yet to formulate an actual proposal.

“On the suspensions, for certain types of hits we will cover it with the NFLPA, we’ll cover it with the membership this next week,” Competition Committee chairperson Rich McKay said during a Thursday conference call. “We just want to show some plays that we think have no place in our game and therefore should result in suspension and/or ejection if it’s seen on the field and can be called. As opposed to I think sometimes people get caught up in the idea that a player should be warned and then there should be progressive enforcement. In this case these are plays we just don’t want in our game and our feeling is if suspension is an option and you show those plays to players, we’ve seen them really conform to rule changes and we think this will help us even more conform to not having these types of plays in our game. So, that’s the purpose of that.”

There’s apparently no proposal yet because a fundamental change to the procedures for suspending players would require agreement with the union. Also, because game officials already are reluctant to eject players for fear of impacting competitive balance, any new rule would require clarity, specificity, and a procedure (possibly supervised in real time by the league office) that would ensure consistency.

In other words, don’t expect anything to happen next week. In the absence of a written proposal and an agreement with the union, this one is going to take more time — especially if the NFLPA insists on a significant concession to expand the league’s ability to suspend players.

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Dean Blandino: Officials can issue warning before penalty for 12 men in huddle

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During the Cowboys’ playoff loss to the Packers in January, Dallas was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct when wide receiver Brice Butler was judged to have entered the huddle and then left without participating in a play.

The penalty wiped out a 15-yard gain that put the Cowboys on the edge of the red zone and was followed by a punt a couple of plays later in a turn of events that loomed large in a three-point loss. If the same thing were to happen in the playoffs next season, the Cowboys might not find themselves penalized.

During a conference call on Thursday, NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said that the league will give officials the right to issue a warning before heading straight to a 15-yard penalty.

“We did discuss it,” Blandino said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Obviously that’s a penalty you don’t see very frequently. We looked at some of the language in the book, and we’re going to give our officials more latitude to warn the team if they feel it is a potential issue and then penalize after a warning.”

Given how rarely the call is made — referee Tony Corrente made both the January call and the previous one in 2014 — it’s not likely to come up all that often, but the shift laid out by Blandino seems like a more appropriate response when and if it does.

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Friday morning one-liners

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The Bills announced their offseason workout schedule.

Will Dolphins DT Jordan Phillipspotential meet his production this season?

It doesn’t look like WR Michael Floyd will be staying with the Patriots.

A look at the newest member of the Jets’ receiving corps.

Can the Ravens find LB Terrell Suggssuccessor in the draft?

The Bengals special teams should benefit from RB Cedric Peerman’s return.

The Browns were all over Ohio State’s pro day workout.

Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt is in line for a contract extension.

Texans DE J.J. Watt was on the wrong side of a snowball fight.

How do the Colts stack up at cornerback behind Vontae Davis?

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles thinks he’s making progress toward cutting down turnovers.

DT Sylvester Williams hopes to make his late father proud with his play for the Titans.

Is Michigan WR Amara Darboh a good fit for the Broncos?

Could the Chiefs offer QB Colin Kaepernick a landing spot?

Raiders offensive coordninator Todd Downing likes the new additions to his unit.

RB Branden Oliver is predicting a breakout season with the Chargers.

CB Orlando Scandrick stuck up for Cowboys fans.

Will DT Jonathan Hankins re-sign with the Giants?

The draft should offer the Eagles a chance to address their remaining needs.

A trio of free agents who might interest the Redskins.

A few things to consider with QB Mark Sanchez joining the Bears.

The Lions took a look at a few prospects from the University of Missouri.

Explosiveness has been a focus for the Packers this offseason.

Who will back up Vikings QB Sam Bradford this season?

Falcons S Keanu Neal returned to Florida for his alma mater’s pro day.

Greg Olsen has worked out well for the Panthers and they’re taking a look at another tight end from the University of Miami.

LB Manti Te’o is thankful for a chance to play for the Saints.

The Buccaneers have built up their young talent.

The Cardinals think an exodus of free agents is a sign of how well they’ve built their team.

It didn’t take a long journey for Rams personnel to check out USC’s pro day.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is doing his research on this year’s quarterback prospects.

A defense of Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

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Chargers working out quarterback DeShone Kizer today

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The Bears aren’t the only ones who want to take a closer look at Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Chargers are working out Kizer today, adding them to a list that already includes the Browns and Jets.

While a number of teams with glaring needs for immediate starters will be kicking the tires on Kizer, the Chargers aren’t that needy.

Philip Rivers is still playing at a high level at 35, and has three more years on his current contract.

But General Manager Tom Telesco refused to rule out the possibility of using the No. 7 overall pick on a quarterback, to set the Chargers up for the future in Los Angeles.

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Jonathan Stewart signs one-year extension with Panthers

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Running back Jonathan Stewart has been with the Panthers since they made him a first-round pick in the 2008 draft and the relationship hasn’t hit its expiration date yet.

The team announced on Friday morning that they have agreed to a one-year extension with the veteran running back. No terms were announced, but the deal will likely result in a lower cap number than the $8.25 million that Stewart was set to count against the cap this year.

Stewart has started 13 games for the Panthers in each of the last two seasons and posted 824 yards and nine touchdowns on 218 carries last season. There’s been some talk about the Panthers adding a running back to the mix in the draft this year, something that the extension likely wouldn’t impact as there will still be a need to spell Stewart and plan for a future backfield that doesn’t include him.

Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne are the other running backs currently on the 90-man roster in Carolina.

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Aaron Rodgers: Packers fans should be excited

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has turned R-E-L-A-X into a catchphrase of sorts over the years, but that’s not the message he’s sending to the team’s fans ahead of the 2017 season.

Rodgers noted how the team played offensively down the stretch last season and the additions of tight end Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks while sharing his optimism about his side of the ball. He thinks the team still has a little tweaking to do on the defensive side, but that there’s plenty of reason for excitement in Green Bay.

“We probably need a couple more pieces on defense before the season starts, but we’re going to be really tough to stop on offense,” Rodgers said on a podcast with Evan Daniels of FOX Sports. “Mike [McCarthy] has a great system there that’s ever evolving and changing. I put my stamp on it once we get it down on paper. It’s exciting, man. Green Bay Packers fans should be really excited about this season and the possibilities.”

The Packers have made the playoffs in each of the last eight seasons and they’ve won at least one playoff game in each of the last three, which is a run that Rodgers called “phenomenal” while noting that the team has to find a way to push through for his second Super Bowl of the year. Rodgers said that this would be as good a year as any to break the drought as it would mean the Packers were celebrating their title on the Vikings’ home field.

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Under proposed overtime rule, Bucs would have been a playoff team

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When the proposal to shorten regular season overtimes to 10 minutes comes up for a vote at the owner’s meetings next week, there’s a good chance the Buccaneers will support the measure.

Primarily, because they’d have ended a nine-year playoff drought if it had been in place last year.

As noted by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Buccaneers would have qualified for the playoffs at 9-6-1 under the proposed timing, since they lost with a minute and 45 seconds left in overtime to the Raiders on Oct. 30.

And you can argue that one was a double loss, since they had to play the Falcons four days later on Thursday Night Football, and dropped a 43-28 decision.

The Bucs defense was on the field for 94 plays against the Raiders, making it no wonder they had little left in the tank the following Thursday when the Falcons pulled away in the second half.

The Buccaneers haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, and would have slid into the final Wild Card spot over the 9-7 Lions had that loss been a tie.

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Bears announce signing of Mark Sanchez


Mark Sanchez has found his fifth NFL team.

Sanchez has signed with the Bears, the team announced today, making him the backup to starting quarterback Mike Glennon.

The Bears may still draft a quarterback, and if they do Sanchez could have value as a veteran mentor. Last year in Dallas, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott credited Sanchez for helping him learn how to be a professional.

Sanchez started his career as the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft with the Jets. He started in the AFC Championship Game in each of his first two seasons, but those Jets teams were led by their defense, and Sanchez never developed into the kind of quarterback who could lead a team. After five years in New York, Sanchez spent two seasons with the Eagles, then was briefly with the Broncos before getting cut after the preseason last year before finally ending up backing up Prescott in Dallas.

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