Eagles strike new deal with Nick Foles

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One of the questions heading into the offseason was whether the Eagles would consider trading quarterback Nick Foles, but no one hit the “high price tag” the team said it would take to move the reigning Super Bowl MVP.

While a trade didn’t materialize, a revised contract with the Eagles has come to fruition. Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that the team has reached a new deal with Foles that includes a mutual option for the 2019 season.

Garafolo’s colleague Ian Rapoport reports that the revised contract includes a $2 million signing bonus and millions more in incentives that Foles could reach if he finds himself back in the starting job this year. Garafolo adds that the Eagles don’t foresee that happening and believe Carson Wentz will be good to go for the regular season, but Foles now gets more money off of last year’s work and a better chance to cash in come 2019 as a starter somewhere in the league.

Foles’ original contract with the Eagles called for him to make $11 million over two years with three voidable years tacked on for salary cap purposes. Those years were set to void as long as Foles was on the roster in February 2019.

Jaguars don’t see any glaring needs with draft approaching

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The Jaguars hold the 29th overall pick in this year’s draft and it might take them a moment or too to get used to those surroundings.

It’s the first time that the team has been drafting outside of the Top 10 since the 2007 season, which represents the major change in circumstances that took place in 2017. The Jaguars went 10-6, won the AFC South and advanced to the conference title game to break a long run as one of the league’s worst teams.

General Manager Dave Caldwell said at a Friday press conference that the team’s “process stays the same” despite their new neighborhood, but he did identify one big difference from past years when rookies were expected to step right into the lineup.

“[The media has] been around us where we didn’t have guys to line up with at this point of the year,” Caldwell said, via the Florida Times-Union. “Our first year here, we had to draft rookies and start them. Now we can take the best player available. We have needs, don’t get me wrong, but we don’t have a glaring need.”

The lack of a glaring need creates several paths that the Jaguars could take next week in terms of both positions to target and trades to entertain while they’re on the board. Making the right decisions about which ones to take should help the Jaguars improve their chances of staying at the bottom end of the first round a while longer.

Vikings LB Kentrell Brothers suspended four games for PED violation

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The Vikings won’t have linebacker Kentrell Brothers in the lineup for the first four games of the 2018 season.

The NFL announced on Friday that Brothers has been suspended four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He will be able to practice with the team and play in the preseason before starting his suspension the week before the season opener.

Brothers was a fifth-round pick in 2016. He’s played in 26 games over the last two seasons and picked up 22 tackles while serving as a staple of the special teams units.

Brothers will be eligible to return to the Vikings after they play the Rams on Thursday, September 27.

Tyler Gaffney returns to baseball after injury-filled NFL run

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Tyler Gaffney tried his hand at making several NFL teams after being drafted by the Panthers in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, but injuries stopped him from getting any regular season action.

Gaffney was placed on injured reserve by the Panthers in 2014, the Patriots the next two years and the Jaguars last year. He won’t be trying to make a team this year, but will be continuing to pursue a career as a professional athlete.

Gaffney was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012 and played a summer of minor league ball with them before returning to Stanford and the football field. He’s now back in the Pirates organization and playing for the Bradenton Pirates of the Florida State League.

“My dream has been the big leagues my whole life,” Gaffney said, via MLB.com. “I think I’ve been tasting that every time I was hurt. You have time to think about things like that. So now I’m here, putting in my work. Now I’m here, five years later. I think the last couple years took their toll on my body. The heart wanted it. The body didn’t. I’m finally able to come back to baseball, the sport I love.”

Gaffney said he was considering a move back to the diamond when the Jaguars offered him a contract last year. One last injury sealed the deal and Gaffney’s athletic pursuits will now take place far away from the gridiron.

Texans “optimistic” about signing Jadeveon Clowney to extension

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There was a report in late March that the Texans and linebacker Jadeveon Clowney were making progress on talks about a contract extension, but they haven’t reached the finish line yet.

General Manager Brian Gaine was asked about the status of those discussions during a Friday press conference.

“I won’t discuss our negotiations publicly, but I’m optimistic that something can be done. …The guy’s a disruptive player. He plays the run well. So we’re doing our best to fortify our nucleus of players, and we’d like him to be a part of it.” Gaine said, via ESPN.com.

Clowney is set to make just over $12.3 million in the option year of his rookie contract. His next deal figures to be a sizable one and Gaine said that he’d prefer not to conduct negotiations on a deal with anyone once the regular season gets underway.

Chris Ballard: Trade with Jets shows our confidence in Andrew Luck

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Colts General Manager Chris Ballard held his pre-draft press conference on Friday, but one of the leading topics of conversation had to do with the team’s top pick in the 2012 draft.

It’s hard to avoid talking about quarterback Andrew Luck‘s right shoulder injury under any circumstances because so much of the Colts’ fortunes are tied to Luck’s health. Ballard said that Luck still has not progressed to throwing a regulation football, but that the exercises he is doing are similar to what he’d be doing if he had gotten to that point.

Ballard also stressed that Luck is not pressing to get back in the same way he did before missing all of last season and that the team is confident in his return to action. He further illustrated that by pointing to the trade with the Jets that moved the Colts from No. 3 to No. 6 in the first round and saying he thinks that shows they are “very confident” about the quarterback’s progress.

Ballard said he’s also open to moving further down the draft board. After initially feeling like he wouldn’t want to fall out of the Top 10, Ballard said that he’s more willing to do so because the team has identified eight non-quarterbacks they believe are “premium” players at the top of the draft.

A trade down that nets one of them and more picks to fill out a thin roster would work well, but the benefits may be harder to see on the field if the Colts’ bet on Luck goes the other way again this year.

Luke McCown announces retirement

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The NFL is down to one McCown brother.

In a letter posted to agent Mike McCartney’s Twitter account on Friday, Luke McCown announced his retirement as an active player. McCown thanked family, friends, coaches and teammates and called it “bittersweet” to step away from a sport he’s played since the second grade.

McCown was out of the NFL last year after being released by the Cowboys in September, but spent time with five other clubs during a career that dates back to 2004. He was a fourth-round pick by the Browns that year and made four starts as a rookie before being traded to the Buccaneers the next year. He spent four years in Tampa, three in Jacksonville, a year in Atlanta and four years in New Orleans.

McCown only made 10 starts over that extended run and ends his career 216-of-356 for 2,370 passing yards, nine touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also became the rare backup quarterback to appear in a commercial when Verizon tabbed him for an ad campaign.

His older brother Josh is currently with the Jets and also made starts for the Browns and Buccaneers during his own long run as an NFL journeyman.

Browns release Corey White, Reggie Porter

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The Browns will be adding rookies to their roster in next week’s draft and they made some room for new arrivals on Friday.

The team announced that they have released defensive back Corey White and waived defensive back Reggie Porter. Porter’s departure comes with a failed physical designation.

White signed with the Browns in January and has spent time with six other teams since entering the league as a 2012 fifth-round pick of the Saints. He’s played in 66 games over the course of his career — none since 2016 with the Bills — and has compiled 161 tackles and six interceptions.

The Browns signed Porter off of the Ravens practice squad last year and he appeared in three games before going on injured reserve in November.

Cowboys put James Hanna on reserve/retired list

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Jason Witten will be back with the Cowboys in 2018, but another one of the team’s tight ends is retiring.

The Cowboys confirmed that they are placing James Hanna on the reserve/retired list shortly after Todd Archer of ESPN reported that Hanna, who dealt with knee problems for the last two years, was walking away from the game.

“The dream was to play for the Cowboys,” Hanna said. “I don’t know how many people actually do what they say they’re going to do as like a 13-year-old, but I consider myself to be extremely lucky in that sense. Also the college I went to [Oklahoma], I feel like I met my goals. It would’ve been nice to have more stats and obviously I could’ve done more things, but I’m proud of what I accomplished.”

Hanna joined the Cowboys as a sixth-round pick in 2012 and played in 78 games for the team. He missed the entire 2016 season before returning to play every game last season and ends his career with 37 catches for 374 yards and a touchdown.

Witten is now joined by Geoff Swaim, Rico Gathers and Blake Jarwin on the depth chart at tight end.

Texans prefer trading down to trading up

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The Texans traded up in the first round of the draft last year in order to select quarterback Deshaun Watson, but General Manager Brian Gaine said he was more open to moving the other way this year.

Gaine held a press conference on Friday and fielded the evergreen pre-draft question about the possibility of making trades over the three-day event next week. Gaine said the team isn’t ruling out a move up the draft board, but that he’d prefer getting “more at-bats” by moving down the board.

It might be easier to make plans to do that if they still owned the fourth overall pick. They sent the rights to their first-round selection to Cleveland to Watson last year and sent their second-round pick to the Browns along with Brock Osweiler in a different deal, which means they don’t have a selection until No. 68 this year. They have two other third-round picks and a fourth-rounder, which Gaine believes will still give them a chance to add good players to the roster.

“It’s a challenge, but we’re positive we can get contributing players in the first 103,” Gaine said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Some of those picks could turn into trade bait as teams identify players they really want come the second day of the draft, but a lot will play out before the Texans get an idea about how much other teams want any of those third- and fourth-round picks.

Philip Rivers: We have to embrace six-week stretch without L.A. game

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The Chargers are not considered one of the handful of teams who will play three straight road games during the 2018 season, but only because of a technicality.

They play at home against the Raiders in Week Five and won’t be back at StubHub Center until a Week 11 game against the Broncos, but they are listed as the home team for a London game against the Titans in Week Seven. They will play in Cleveland in Week Six, have a bye in Week Eight and road dates in Seattle and Oakland in between their Los Angeles dates.

Quarterback Philip Rivers noted that stretch when he looked at the 2018 schedule and said that there’s “no denying the challenge” while adding it is one the Chargers have to meet head on.

“I think we have to embrace that,” Rivers said, via the team’s website. “It’s, ‘Hey, shoot, we’re going on the road for a month. Let’s go!’ I think it’s OK this time of year to acknowledge that, golly, we have this many road games in this stretch and all the east coast games are at 10:00am. All right, let’s go play. When they kick it off we’ve got to be prepared and up for the challenge.”

Given the lack of home field advantage that the Chargers had in their first season in their new home, playing away from their stadium for four straight games might not be as daunting as it would be under other circumstances. Given the role their 0-4 start to last season played in missing the playoffs, it’s also clear that it isn’t the only significant stretch in their schedule.

Mitchell Trubisky getting coached more than ever this offseason

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Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said that he felt like the team’s new offensive scheme was built for him even before the team started doing on-field work and the move to the field during this week’s minicamp left him feeling just as good.

Trubisky said it has been “exciting” to get to work on an offense that has “so many layers” to it and he’s getting plenty of help peeling back those layers so that everything becomes old hat by the regular season. Head coach Matt Nagy is playing a leading role, but offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone and backup quarterbacks Tyler Bray and Chase Daniel are also there to help the second-year player digest the offense.

“I feel like these last three days, I’ve been coached more than I ever have because I have Coach Helfrich, Coach Ragone — who was here last year with me — Coach Nagy and then I come off when it’s not my reps and I talk to Tyler and I talk to Chase,” Trubisky said, via ESPN.com. “Just having a bunch of brilliant offensive minds around me, I’m just getting a lot of information. I’m trying to be a sponge, and it’s been a lot of fun working with those guys and learning as much as I can these last three days.”

When Trubisky was coming into the league last year, much was made of the fact that he only made 13 starts during his time at the University of North Carolina. He had less offseason time with the Bears last year and wasn’t asked to do much in a stripped-down offense, so an offseason with an overdose of coaching might have be just the thing for the quarterback even without a whole new scheme in place.

Pete Carroll: Colin Kaepernick discussion is still open

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The Seahawks were set to meet with free agent Colin Kaepernick last week, but the meeting never wound up happening.

Depending on which reports you read, that was because Kaepernick wouldn’t pledge to stand during the national anthem or because the Seahawks wanted to know more about Kaepernick’s overall plans including his pursuit of a collusion grievance against the NFL. The Seahawks subsquently signed two quarterbacks, but coach Pete Carroll said Thursday that adding Stephen Morris and Austin Davis didn’t shut the door.

“The discussion and the opportunity is still open,” Carroll said on KJR, via Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune.

Carroll added that he hasn’t spoken to Kaepernick and that he’s “not going there” when asked how Kaepernick’s plans for the national anthem figure into the team’s thoughts. General Manager John Schneider has spoken to Kaepernick’s camp, but said “that’s what I can’t get into” when asked if the meeting was cancelled because Kaepernick refused to assure the team he wouldn’t take a knee during the anthem.

Friday morning one-liners

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The Bills are only scheduled for one prime-time game.

The Dolphins unveiled slight changes to their uniforms.

Patriots TE Troy Niklas had to race home after a free agent meeting with the team so that he could be at the birth of his daughter.

The Jets open the season on a big stage.

The Ravens have a lot of road games early in the year.

What’s the draft strategy at tackle for the Bengals?

Browns G.M. John Dorsey left all options on the table for the first overall pick.

Drafting safeties hasn’t gone so well for the Steelers since they selected Troy Polamalu.

The Texans open with two straight road games.

With former Colts DE Dwight Freeney retiring, it’s time to look at his Hall of Fame case.

Sifting through the Jaguars schedule.

Said Titans coach Mike Vrabel of his relationship with QB Marcus Mariota, “It takes time. You don’t want to rush anything. We don’t have to jerk the wheel to try to get to where we want to get to just today.”

Spitballing some potential draft trades that would impact the Broncos.

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes remains a favorite of Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The Chargers seem likely to draft a running back at some point next week.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden will be on the road for four of the team’s first six games.

The Cowboys open the season on the road for the first time since 2012.

Victor Cruz surfaced after the Giants released WR Brandon Marshall.

The Eagles gave Sylvester Stallone his chance to pose with the Lombardi Trophy.

It’s two Thanksgiving games in a row for the Redskins.

LB Leonard Floyd wasn’t on the field at Bears minicamp.

Lions G T.J. Lang is feeling healthier than he did last year.

What offensive linemen in the draft might fit with the Packers?

The Vikings have been scheduled for four nationally televised games.

Analyzing the Falcons schedule.

Will the Panthers move to add Wake Forest S Jessie Bates in the draft?

The Saints will be making frequent national TV appearances in 2018.

Buccaneers LB Kwon Alexander said he’s been opening his mouth more in the locker room.

The Cardinals continue to chart a cautious path with QB Sam Bradford.

Will the Rams add a backup to RB Todd Gurley in the draft?

The 49ers will spend most of the second half in California.

The Seahawks missed with DT Malik McDowell, but their 2017 draft can still be a success.

Three teams will play three straight road games in 2018

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The NFL released the schedule for the 2018 regular season on Thursday night and three teams found out that they’ll have three straight road games on tap this season.

The Rams, Saints and Ravens drew the extended time away from their home stadiums this year. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy notes that is down from seven such road swings last season.

The Rams’ hit the road in Week Five for a divisional matchup with the Seahawks and then go on to face the Broncos and 49ers before returning home for a Week Eight date with the Packers. The good news for the Rams is that they’ll have three straight home games before setting off on their tour and they’ll have 10 days to prepare for Seattle after facing the Vikings in a Thursday night game.

New Orleans has its road swing later in the season, but they’ll have extra rest before two of the three games. After facing the Cowboys on a Thursday night in Week 13, the Saints face the Buccaneers on a Sunday and then head to Carolina for a Monday night game in Week 15. They close the regular season by hosting the Steelers and Panthers.

The Ravens renew their rivalry with the Steelers on Sunday night in Week Four and then move on for Sunday afternoon games against the Browns and Titans. They host the Saints upon returning to Baltimore in Week Seven.

Ten other teams join the Rams with three-game homestands this season.