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Malik McDowell signs with Seahawks

AP

The Seahawks have agreed to a contract with their top pick from this year’s draft.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team has signed defensive lineman Malik McDowell to a four-year deal. The Seahawks traded down three times before eventually selecting McDowell with the 35th overall pick.

McDowell had 24.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks at Michigan State and disrupted offenses on plenty of occasions during his time in East Lansing. There were also periods where McDowell was a non-factor, leading to critiques of his work ethic during the pre-draft process.

The best of McDowell would make him a good fit in the rotation up front for the Seahawks, who also added Nazair Jones to the mix in the third round.

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Jets sign Corey White

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The Jets continued retooling their secondary on Thursday.

The team announced that they have signed defensive back Corey White to their 90-man roster. They waived/injured wide receiver Brisly Estime in a corresponding move.

White has mainly played corner since entering the league as a fifth-round pick of the Saints in 2012. He spent last season with the Bills and had 30 tackles and two interceptions in 15 games with the Jets’ divisional mates. He’s also played with the Cowboys and Cardinals, although his time in Arizona came after Todd Bowles left to become the Jets’ head coach.

The Jets also used four draft picks on defensive backs and signed cornerback Morris Claiborne this offseason while cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Marcus Gilchrist were released.

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Buccaneers sign second-rounder Justin Evans

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The Buccaneers waited a while before signing their draft picks, but they have made quick work of it since getting the ball rolling.

First-round pick O.J. Howard signed his deal on Monday, three more picks agreed to terms on Tuesday and the team announced on Thursday that second-round safety Justin Evans has signed his contract as well. That leaves third-round wide receiver Chris Godwin as the only remaining unsigned pick in Tampa.

Evans started for Texas A&M the last two years and made an impression as a big hitter in the secondary for the Aggies. He also had four interceptions, so could wind up filling different roles for the Bucs depending on who else is on the field with him.

The Bucs also signed J.J. Wilcox as a free agent this offseason and the two newcomers will join Chris Conte and Keith Tandy in the mix for playing time at the back end of the defense.

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NFL declines comment on federal law that would allow sports wagering

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An effort to end the federal ban on expanded gambling has begun. The NFL, which consistently has fought against the expansion of gambling, has nothing to say about that.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT that the NFL will decline comment on the fledgling effort to end 25 years of federal prohibition against expanded sports betting at the state level. If successful, each and every state would be able to decide on its own whether to embrace sports wagering.

Some believe the league’s decision to let the Raiders move to Las Vegas represents the first step toward an eventual embrace of gambling, along with an effort to find a way to siphon some of the cash that the league traditionally hasn’t been able to directly touch. It’s a long-term play, but it can’t begin until the federal government changes the law.

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Budda Baker signs with Cardinals

AP

The Cardinals opened the day with two unsigned members of their 2017 draft class.

They’ll end it with just first-round pick Haason Reddick in need of a contract. Safety Budda Baker signed his four-year deal with the team on Thursday.

Baker is not taking part in the team’s offseason program right now because NFL rules bar him from practicing until the University of Washington ends the school year on June 9. He did get to travel to Arizona to sign his contract, however.

“It’s definitely been difficult being away from the veteran type of guys,” Baker said, via the team’s website. “I feel like I knew this coming into it, and I’m just trying to stay focused and stay with the task at hand. You can just control what you can control and when I am here, just be ready.”

When Baker is able to fully throw himself into life with the Cardinals, he should compete for a role in a secondary that frequently uses three safeties at the same time.

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C.J. Mosley recovering from shoulder surgery

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The Ravens picked up their option on linebacker C.J. Mosley’s contract for the 2018 season, but that wasn’t the only offseason development of note for their 2014 first-round pick.

Coach John Harbaugh revealed on Thursday, via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, that Mosley had shoulder surgery. He has been in the building and taking part in meetings during the offseason program with Harbaugh adding that the team doesn’t have any long-term concerns about his status for the 2017 season.

Ravens guard Marshal Yanda is also recovering from shoulder surgery and has been held out of practices along with linebacker Terrell Suggs, who had biceps surgery. Joining them on the sideline Wednesday was tight end Maxx Williams, who ended last year on injured reserve and had a knee surgery that Harbaugh said no other football player has had before.

Williams, like all the others, is expected to be ready to go in time for training camp.

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Jets down to one unsigned pick after signing ArDarius Stewart

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First-round pick Jamal Adams will be the final member of the 2017 Jets draft class to sign a contract with the team.

That became unavoidable on Thursday when the team announced that third-round pick ArDarius Stewart has agreed to a four-year deal. Stewart was drafted with the 79th overall pick after the Jets traded down with the Vikings in the third round.

Stewart was one of two wide receivers drafted by the Jets this year and comes to the team after earning a spot on the All-SEC first-team at Alabama last year. Stewart had 54 catches for 864 yards and eight touchdowns for the Crimson Tide with 30 of the catches resulting in a first down.

Stewart joins fourth-round pick Chad Hansen in a receiving corps fronted by Eric Decker, Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa in the wake of Brandon Marshall’s release following the 2016 season. They’ll be waiting along with the rest of the Jets to find out who will be throwing them passes as the team conducts a three-way competition for the starting quarterback job.

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Dirk Koetter apologizes for his team’s sense of humor

AP

The Buccaneers social media department did the kind of thing that social media departments do.

Then Bucs coach Dirk Koetter offered an apology he probably didn’t need to offer, so it didn’t blow back on the football department.

Yesterday, the Bucs poked fun of the Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl by posting a photo of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and quarterback Jameis Winston to underscore the numerical message.

But Koetter has to play the Falcons later, and used to work there, so he pre-emptively apologized before anyone made a big deal of it.

“I want to make sure, on behalf of the Bucs organization, that I apologize to the Falcons,” Koetter said, via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. “Whatever it was supposed to be that went out on social media, that’s not what our organization is all about. That was totally unprofessional and not smart on our part, whoever was responsible for that. Heck, we want to be playing in the Super Bowl, and we were home sitting on our butt while they were playing. We have no room to be making fun of anybody that was in the Super Bowl, whether they won or not.”

For what it’s worth, the Bucs haven’t deleted the tweet, and they shouldn’t. Even if they did, it has been screenshotted and will live forever on the internet.

But Koetter (who was the Falcons offensive coordinator for three years) felt obligated to be nice to the Falcons, even if the NFL feels a little less fun because of it.

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Vikings start signing draft picks

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Some NFL teams have already signed all of their 2017 draft picks while there are others who have taken a more leisurely approach to getting their rookies under contract.

The Vikings fall into the latter group, but they got the ball rolling on signings on Thursday. The team announced that fifth-round wide receiver Rodney Adams has agreed to a four-year deal with the team.

Adams holds the South Florida record for receptions and receiving yards in a single season and ranks second in school history for career catches, receiving yards and touchdowns. He’s also fourth in all-purpose yards thanks to handling 46 kickoff returns over his time in school. Adams returned one of those kickoffs for a touchdown.

With Cordarrelle Patterson gone, Adams could be in the mix for the kickoff return job in Minnesota while also vying for offensive snaps with Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Michael Floyd, Jarius Wright and seventh-round pick Stacy Coley.

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Bears agree to terms with Victor Cruz

AP

Victor Cruz will be doing his salsa dancing in Chicago this year.

Cruz, the veteran wide receiver who has spent his entire career with the Giants, has agreed to terms with the Bears, according to multiple reports.

The 30-year-old Cruz was once among the NFL’s elite receivers, but he was plagued by injuries in 2014 and 2015, and although he made it through 2016 healthy, his production slipped significantly. The Bears, however, apparently think he has something left.

In Chicago, Cruz joins a receiver depth chart that also includes Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Cameron Meredith, Kendall Wright and Rueben Randle.

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Vikings “really pleased” with Laquon Treadwell’s progress

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In February, Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said that the team expected wide receiver Laquon Treadwell to make a big jump after a quiet rookie season.

Shurmur revisited Treadwell’s status during OTAs this week. Treadwell has been working with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in three-receiver sets and Shurmur said that is a sign of how much the team has liked what they’ve seen from the 2016 first-round pick this offseason.

“He’s had a great, in my opinion, five-and-a-half weeks,” Shurmur said, via ESPN.com. “He came back and he was really on point with what he’s supposed to be doing mentally. He’s been out here competing and doing a nice job running routes and catching the ball. Understanding where he fits in the running game and who to block. To this point, we’ve been really pleased with his progress based on a year ago.”

The Vikings aren’t putting all of their eggs in Treadwell’s basket. They signed Michael Floyd this month as another option at receiver and he should get opportunities once he’s had more time in the system. He’s likely to be suspended early in the season for last year’s DUI arrest, however, and continued progress for Treadwell could close the door on further chances come the regular season.

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Bills announce Gerald Hodges signing

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Thursday started with word that linebacker Gerald Hodges was on his way back for a second visit with the Bills that coach Sean McDermott said had a “good chance” of ending with a contract for the former 49er.

McDermott’s prediction turned out to be right on the money. The team announced that he has signed a contract and been added to the 90-man roster.

Hodges, who played for Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier in Minnesota, played inside linebacker while making 12 starts for the 49ers last season and appears to be ticketed for the weak side in the 4-3 alignment that McDermott has installed in Buffalo. Ramon Humber has been working with the first team this offseason.

The Bills released cornerback Charles Gaines to make room for Hodges. Gaines wore No. 40 for the Bills and Hodges will take over that number as well as Gaines’ roster spot.

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Luke Kuechly says he’s done talking about concussions

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Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has missed nine games over the last two seasons because of concussions with the last few of those came after he was cleared to return last year.

The Panthers chose to hold Kuechly out as a precaution with the playoffs out of reach in a decision that didn’t do much to lessen concern about the potential for more serious issues at some point down the line. Kuechly isn’t interested in discussing those concerns or anything else about his concussion history anymore, however.

“Everybody knows I want to play,” Kuechly said, via David Newton of ESPN.com. “Everybody knows the decision was made by the coaches so hopefully we can move on from that and not ask any more questions about concussions because I’m done with that.”

As long as Kuechly remains out of the concussion protocol, he should be able to avoid talking about head injuries. Should he find himself back there at any point this year, though, he’ll be facing more questions about his health and future than he has in the past.

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Bills concerned with Charles Clay’s “knee situation”

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The Bills signed a tight end on Wednesday with Wes Saxton joining the team as part of a series of roster moves and coach Sean McDermott said Thursday that the move was not made because of the team’s concerns about Charles Clay’s knee.

That’s not to say that the team has no concerns about Clay’s knee, however. Clay has dealt with chronic knee problems since joining the team as a restricted free agent in 2015 and McDermott acknowledged that the issue is one the team will be keeping an eye on as the year unfolds.

“We are concerned with Charles’ knee situation,” McDermott said, via the Buffalo News. “It’s something we have to manage moving forward in order to have him on the field for us, which is important moving forward. He’s a weapon for us.”

The knee didn’t keep Clay off the field much last season as he played nearly 82 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. Top backup Nick O’Leary was at 35 percent and they are short on other experienced players at the position, which provides plenty of reason to take it easy with Clay whenever possible.

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Buccaneers, Jaguars to hold joint practices in August

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The Jaguars and Buccaneers will be spending some practice time together for the second straight year.

The teams announced on Thursday that they will spend two days practicing together in Jacksonville this summer. They will practice on August 14 and 15 before facing off in a preseason game at EverBank Field on August 17.

The announcement comes a couple of days after the Jaguars announced that they will be practicing with the Patriots for two days during the previous week.

“We look forward to hosting Coach Koetter and the Buccaneers for two practices during training camp,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “Having the opportunity to practice with the Patriots and the Buccaneers during training camp will allow us to see a lot of different looks, matchups and scenarios and we believe these joint sessions will make us a better football team.”

Both of the sessions will be open to the public and the media.

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