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Mike Pettine says all options still on the table for starting QB job

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The starting quarterback job for the Cleveland Browns was fully up for grabs for either Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel Monday night against the Washington Redskins.

Instead, both quarterbacks fumbled away a chance to seize the job.

Head coach Mike Pettine had wanted to name a starting quarterback by Tuesday. Now that decision may have to be delayed.

“All the options are still on the table,” Pettine said. “It’s still something we would like to do but we will see.”

Hoyer and Manziel were wholly uninspiring against Washington. Hoyer completed just 2-of-6 passes for 16 yards while Manziel was 7-for-16 for 65 yards and a touchdown with an obscene gesture thrown in as well.

Pettine said it’s possible the team waits through another preseason game before determining who will start against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 despite their initial hope to choose early this week. Neither quarterback has produced any truly stellar play to prove they are the best option for the job in the Browns two preseason games. It may take some more time before Pettine will feel comfortable finally making a decision.

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What’s the NFL’s end game with gambling?

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As the NFL tries to balance a love of Las Vegas with a loathing of the primary activity that goes on there, what if the league also secretly lusts after gambling?

Sure, Commissioner Roger Goodell is saying all the rights about gambling being the wrong thing for the NFL. Just like he previously was saying all the right things about Vegas being the wrong place. In addition for being paid to be the pin cushion for owners who prefer rich and famous to rich and notorious, Goodell’s compensation package includes taking positions that he knows he eventually may have to abandon as gracefully as possible. Or not gracefully at all.

Really, what has been the cost of Goodell’s about-face on Las Vegas? Has anyone said anything critical about Goodell for saying one thing and doing another? Hell, inconsistency or word and deed practically become the way of the world.

So Goodell can continue to say gambling is bad until the owners decide that gambling is good. And then Goodell can start saying gambling is good, without ever acknowledging that he regarded gambling as bad.

When the owners (and in turn Goodell) decide that gambling is good, what happens next? Behind the scenes, efforts will be made to eliminate the federal law that prohibits the expansion of sports betting beyond the states where it currently happens. (The NFL has used that law to block the expansion of sports betting in states like Delaware and New Jersey.) When that push becomes public, we’ll hear a lot about states’ rights and other situationally convenient philosophies that will justify America telling the United States that they can set up sports books if they want.

Then, the various states will begin to adopt betting on sporting events, one at a time until as many that will ever do it have done it. Then, as many NFL teams as possible will begin to find a way to make money from sports betting.

The process could culminate at some point (maybe years from now, maybe decades) in the ability of a fan/bettor to access a team or league website or app and quickly and cleanly (and legally) place a bet.

For a successful business that constantly wants to find ways to make more and more (and more) money, there’s a revenue stream that has been flowing to people other than NFL owners since the day the sport was born. Every year, billions are changing hands via wagering on NFL games, without the NFL getting a cut.

The move to Las Vegas represents a clear statement that, eventually, it will.

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Anthony Lynn: Joe Mixon is still on the Chargers’ draft board

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Former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is reportedly off the draft boards of at least two NFL teams, the Dolphins and Patriots, over concerns about the incident in which he punched a woman, seriously injuring her. But Mixon only needs one team to take a chance on him.

Perhaps that one team will be the Los Angeles Chargers, who brought in Mixon for a visit and say he’s still a player they’re considering.

“We just wanted to pick his brain and see where he was at football-wise because he wasn’t at the combine. He did a good job with that,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said, adding, “He’s still on the draft board. It didn’t change much. . . . We know he can play football. He’s one of the best backs in the draft. We just wanted to do our homework, that’s all.”

Mixon is a talented enough player that he’d likely be a first-round pick if not for the ugly off-field incident. The Chargers or some other team will look at the talent, and overlook the assault.

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Myles Garrett will have a visit with the 49ers

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The Browns insist they’re not trading the top pick for a quarterback. The world assumes that Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett will be the top pick, even though he’s not a quarterback.

But in case he’s not off the board, the 49ers are going to be ready.

Via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Garrett said he will visit with the 49ers, the owners of the No. 2 overall pick.

General manager John Lynch was on hand  for Garrett’s pro day workout in College Station, Texas, and seemed dutifully impressed that Garrett participated.

I thought it was impressive,” Lynch said. “Here’s this kid who really doesn’t need to show everyone much more, but yet he shows up and runs a 40. I think it just speaks to the kind of kid he is. It was impressive. It’s well-documented – I’m not saying anything ground-breaking – he’s a special athlete.

“He checks all the boxes. That’s why people are talking about him in the way they are.”

It would be a major surprise if Garrett was available when the 49ers were on the clock, but it would also be a mistake if they weren’t prepared, just in case.

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When will a coach bet on himself?

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Jim Caldwell’s it-is-what-it-is approach to his current employment situation in Detroit serves as a reminder of a periodic hot take that often bubbles up for me whenever a good coach closes in on the completion of his contract: When will a coach treat the looming expiration of his deal as a shot at free agency?

Rarely if ever does an NFL head coach: (1) finish every game of his contract; and (2) inform the NFL, “I’m available to the highest bidder.”

When Jason Garrett’s contract expired in Dallas after a Final Eight season in 2014, he could have made the Vince-McMahon-strutting-GIF move to another city, but he truly didn’t want to leave the Cowboys. Last summer, with both coach Pete Carroll and G.M. John Schneider entering contract years, they could have individually or collectively said, “Hey, Rams! Interested?” after the 2016 season ended.

They opted instead to re-up.

For whatever reason, coaches (and General Managers) never bet on themselves in that way, choosing the sure thing over the shot in the dark. Maybe they’re conservative by nature when it comes to the knowledge that large amounts of money will continue to flow to the bank account beyond the current year. Maybe they have a hard time assessing their own potential value objectively. Maybe they fear that the jobs that become available are available not because the current coach stinks, but because the organization does.

Regardless, there’s never been a head coach who says, “I don’t want a new contract for now. I want to hit the open market next year.” Maybe Caldwell, if he takes the Lions to the playoffs again without an extension before the season ends, will hit the open market without making the declaration in advance.

And maybe the boss of the Lions will become the first NFL head coach to walk into free agency like the boss of the WWE.

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Report: Vikings signing Arena League tight end Nick Truesdell

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The Minnesota Vikings are bringing in a former Arena League player that made a significant impression during pro combine testing last weekend.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the Vikings are signing tight end Nick Truesdell after an impressive showing that saw him post a 4.6-second 40-yard dash time while measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds.

Truesdell has played for six different teams in the Arena Football League and Indoor Football League with just one previous opportunity on an NFL roster. He spent a brief three-day stint with the Indianapolis Colts in 2016 before being released early in training camp. He’s also been invited in as a tryout player for rookie mini-camps with the Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers in past years.

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Panthers declare themselves “pleased” with Cam Newton’s surgery

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At least they picked some new words.

Instead of relying on the traditional “successful surgery,” the Panthers threw a new twist on their description of the procedure on quarterback Cam Newton’s throwing shoulder this morning.

“Head team physician Dr. Pat Connor performed surgery this morning at Carolinas Medical Center to repair Cam Newton’s partially torn rotator cuff,” head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion said, via the team’s website. “Dr. Connor was pleased with the results of the surgery and Cam is at home resting. He will begin his rehab program Monday.”

So it’s still #asexpected, but with a twist.

Panthers officials and coach Rion Rivera have said throughout the hope is to have Newton back by the start of training camp, and that he’ll be involved in the “mental reps” portion of OTAs and minicamp as they try to “evolve” their offense after Newton’s worst season as a pro.

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Chip Kelly on Colin Kaepernick: I don’t know why he’s not signed

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Colin Kaepernick’s last coach isn’t sure why he hasn’t yet found his next coach.

Chip Kelly said that he can’t explain whether Kaepernick’s unemployment is related to his struggles on the field, his national anthem protest or anything else.

“There are 32 individual groups that make decisions on what is best. If you’re not part of those 32 teams, it’s very difficult to know what is going on,” Kelly told SI.com.

But Kelly did say it would be crazy if all 32 teams decline to at least give Kaepernick a backup job.

“Do I think he is one of the top 64 quarterbacks in the world? There is no question. Does he have the ability to play quarterback on a winning team in the NFL? There is no question,” Kelly said.

The question now is whether some team listens to Kelly’s advice, and signs Kaepernick.

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Coaches want to talk about future changes to offseason program

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Ever since the last collective bargaining agreement cut deeply into the amount of time coaches have with players in the offseason, coaches have been grumbling.

But now, a few of them are doing something they hope will be more productive that just yelling about kids these days and how it used to be better back in their day.

According to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com, a group of four coaches (Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, Saints coach Sean Payton and Panthers coach Ron Rivera) met with a group of league officials to discuss possible future adjustment to the work rules.

In the last CBA, offseason programs went from 14 weeks to nine, and only five of those weeks can include on-field work. Two-a-days during training camp went away, and contact during OTAs was limited. Coaches see a direct correlation to the lack of chances to develop players and declining play (while the league keeps telling us games have never been closer or better). And players are now forced to hire outside trainers to get themselves ready for seasons.

“We’ve had guys ask, How come we can’t work out with you guys?” Rivera said. “Those are the rules. We have guys that have to hire people to work them out. We can’t. So they’re spending their money on people working with them, as opposed to working with us. That’s just the way it is.”

Of course, it’s one thing for coaches and the league to talk about ways to add back to offseason programs. Getting players to go along with it will have to be collectively bargained in 2020, and that’s going to require more than just them thinking it’s a good idea.

It’s going to take trust, and after the last round of negotiations between the league and the NFLPA, that’s hardly a given.

“I understand all the politics behind it. There’s more than meets the eye, but it’s not American, it’s not common sense, it’s not right,” Harbaugh said. “The league has been great so far, the PA has been great, and I think in the next CBA it’ll get adjusted, I hope in a good way. If we can get past the bickering and the taking of sides—it’s not a poker game here, we’re not hoarding chips.

“Why don’t we just sit down and say, what’s good for everyone involved here? It’d probably take about an hour to figure the whole thing out, if everybody put agendas aside.”

It sounds so simple when he says it like that. But it’s rarely that simple, and that’s why they’re starting years in advance.

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Malik Hooker declined invitation to attend the draft

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One of the most intriguing prospects in the upcoming draft is Ohio State safety Malik Hooker. But you won’t be seeing him at the upcoming draft.

Appearing on Thursday’s PFT Live, Hooker said he’s been invited to attend the draft in Philadelphia, but that he has decided to instead watch the draft with family and friends.

A slightly more important decision for Hooker came several years ago, when he opted for football over basketball, which he could have played at a Division I level. For more from Hooker, who has been unable to work out for scouts due to a pair of offseason surgeries but who nevertheless remains a possible top-10 prospect, check out the video.

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Donnie Henderson, Terry Shea among Spring League coaches

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The Spring League, a six-game (not six weeks, six games) experiment will be launched next week in West Virginia, with a cradle-to-grave campaign that will be done in a matter of weeks, with the last game happening the day before the draft begins. The fledgling league previously has released a list of players; some of the coaches are now known.

According to the Spring League, the coaching staffs will include Donnie Henderson, Terry Shea, Steve Fairchild, and Denny Creehan. It’s unclear whether they will be the four head coaches for the teams that will be playing in the league, or whether they will simply be members of the coaching staffs that are being compiled.

Henderson, former Jets and Lions defensive coordinator who once was on the short list of potential head coaches, spent 2013 through 2016 with the Bills, as the defensive backs coach.

Shea, a former offensive coordinator of the Bears (in 2004) and quarterbacks coach with the Chiefs, Dolphins, and Rams, has not coached at the NFL or major-college level since 2008.

Fairchild, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Rams for 2003 through 2005 and offensive coordinator of the Bills in 2006-07, was out of football in 2016 after three years at Virginia.

Training camp opens next week at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs. The games start on April 15.

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Marvin Lewis: Bengals haven’t talked about trading AJ McCarron

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Any talk of the Bengals trading backup quarterback AJ McCarron is happening only among fans and the media, and not between the Bengals and other teams.

That’s the word from Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who said the Bengals haven’t tried to trade McCarron and no other teams have contacted the Bengals about McCarron.

“AJ McCarron is a valuable member of our football team,” Lewis said. “No one has asked to trade him. We’re not going to go out and seek a trade for AJ McCarron. He’s a valuable member of the team. We’ve said that how many times?”

Browns coach Hue Jackson said this week that he wouldn’t hesitate to make a trade within the division, and some saw that as a hint that he’s interested in McCarron. Jackson was an assistant in Cincinnati for McCarron’s first two seasons, so the two already have a rapport.

But when Lewis was asked what the Browns would need to give up to get McCarron, he suggested it would take the first overall pick. Lewis was laughing as he said that, but he seems to be serious that he values having McCarron as a backup to Andy Dalton, and won’t make a trade unless it’s for the right offer.

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Chase Daniel will get paid plenty by the Eagles to play for the Saints

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Chase Daniel has returned to the Saints, after stints in Kansas City and Philadelphia. Thanks to his contract with the Eagles, the vast majority of his compensation for 2017 won’t come from the team that now employs him.

Per a source with knowledge of the contract, the Saints will pay Daniel a guaranteed base salary of $900,000. Since he had $5 million in fully-guaranteed salary from the Eagles in 2017, he’ll get the remaining $4.1 million from them.

Daniel also can earn up to $3 million in incentives. Because the Eagles agreed to reduce the offset to $2 million, they would get the first $1.1 million of any incentive payments, with Daniel keeping the rest. If my math is correct (and it rarely is), this means that Daniel can make up to $6.9 million in 2017.

Other teams offered better deals than the Saints did, but Daniel chose to return to New Orleans. Although Drew Brees has shown no signs of slowing down at 38, Daniel surely realizes that he possibly will be replacing Brees at some point — especially with Brees entering the last year of his current contract and having no desire to extend it.

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Chargers hire LaDainian Tomlinson as special assistant to owner

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It’s a pretty good step up from assistant to the traveling secretary, though it’s still hard to tell exactly what LaDainian Tomlinson will be doing.

The Chargers announced that the former running back has joined the team as special assistant to the owner.

The team release said Tomlinson “will support the organization and expand its community outreach as the franchise continues the transition to Los Angeles.”

“L.T. is one of the most beloved and iconic Chargers of all time,” Chargers owner Dean Spanos said in a release. “His active involvement in our fight for Los Angeles is vital, and he represents the very best of what it means to be a Charger on the field and in the community.”

The retired running back and future Hall of Famer is expected to remain in his current role with the NFL Network, according to co-worker Ian Rapoport.

But with his new ceremonial post, he continues to add to a pretty aggressive PR effort as the Chargers try to carve out their niche in L.A.

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Bills owner says Whaley and McDermott are on the same page

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With increased speculation that new Bills coach Sean McDermott and General Manager Doug Whaley aren’t on the same page, owner Terry Pegula tried to quiet that talk.

Via Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Pegula dismissed those reports during an interview at the owners meeting.

“We just spent [Tuesday] afternoon working together, the three of us,” Pegula said. “Those guys get along great. They’ve been making some key decisions and they work well together.”

Pegula cited as evidence the way they worked through restructuring Tyrod Taylor’s contract, keeping the incumbent quarterback around and taking away what some thought might be an issue between the coach and the G.M.

“That was Doug and Sean working very diligently, digging up everything, directions we could go and what not and the decision was unanimous that we bring Tyrod back with the new contract and we’re all happy with that,” Pegula said.

Asked about reports that Whaley could be let go after the draft and that McDermott has some possible replacements in mind, Pegula replied: “I don’t know where that report came from; it’s erroneous.”

The Bills are working hard to present an appearance of competence, beefing up their efforts at image and public relations.

But the biggest thing they could do is win some games. If that’s going to happen, it’s crucial that Whaley and McDermott have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations, so Pegula better be right about their compatibility.

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Jim Caldwell’s not worried about his contract status

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Most coaches never get to a lame duck season, either ending up fired or extended before getting to the final year of a contract.

But Lions coach Jim Caldwell is handling it the way he seemingly handles everything — evenly.

“We’re not going to discuss anything dealing with the contracts,” Caldwell said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I mean, that doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t.”

To many, it would.

Caldwell’s entering he final year of the four-year deal he signed in 2014, and he’s gone to the playoffs two of his three seasons. But he’s also been joined by a new General Manager who didn’t hire him, and the 27-21 record is balanced by the lack of a playoff win.

G.M. Bob Quinn would only say he had “nothing to announce,” and Caldwell remained unfazed about the lack of security that most coaches see as a necessity, especially considered the relatively successful run he’s enjoyed.

“It’s like I said before, I’m not concerned with anything other than how we get our team better, plain and simple,” Caldwell said. “Contract talks and all these kind of things get only about two or three people excited, the two or three [reporters] sitting at this table. But other than that, it doesn’t matter to people. We’re focusing on our team and how we can get it better. . . .

“I’m not going to confirm or deny anything in that regard, but I can just tell you this, that, when I was in college, it was every year, because that’s all you had was a one-year contract, so it’s normal for me, in that regard. But I’m not saying either way. But you asked me have I worked on a one-year deal before, numerous times.”

Caldwell’s unflappable manner isn’t for everyone, but he’s also created something approaching stability there. Which in Detroit, can’t be taken for granted.

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