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Broncos waive Quanterus Smith

Frank Gore, Quanterus Smith AP

The Broncos kick off a three-day voluntary minicamp on Tuesday and they will reportedly be getting to work without defensive end Quanterus Smith.

It’s not because Smith is opting to work out on his own, as is often the case when players choose not to take part in voluntary work with their teams. Troy Renck of the Denver Post reported that the team waived Smith, who was a fifth-round pick in 2013, on Tuesday and the Broncos announced it a short time later.

Smith played in 15 games as a backup to DeMarcus Ware last season, recording 11 tackles and two passes defensed before winding up on injured reserve with a knee injury that kept him from playing in Denver’s playoff loss to the Colts. He also spent 2013 on injured reserve while recovering from an ACL injury suffered during his final collegiate season.

The shift in defenses that accompanied Wade Phillips’s arrival as defensive coordinator may have left Smith without a good fit on the Denver defense in 2015, but it’s never a great sign for your immediate NFL future when a team decides to move on at a moment when they have 90 roster spots to fill.

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Cowboys extend punter Chris Jones another two years

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The Cowboys had already secured punter Chris Jones for the coming season, signing the restricted free agent to his tender offer.

Now, they’ve given him another two years, and a little extra cap space.

Via Field Yates of ESPN, the Cowboys have extended their punter through 2017, signing him to a deal worth $4.2 million, with $750,000 guaranteed the next three years.

Jones has been a perfectly fine punter for the Cowboys the last two seasons, and extending the deal puts some money in his pocket now, and allows the Cowboys to lower his cap hit from the $1.542 million he’d have counted on his RFA tender alone.

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Rookies at draft will undergo domestic violence education

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For the 28 players who opted to accept the invitation to attend the draft in Chicago, they won’t have an option when it comes to submitting to an domestic violence education session.  According to Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today, the NFL will provide the mandatory training to all of the incoming rookies who show up for the draft.  It’s the same 45-minute video presentation that all NFL employees were required to watch last year.

“I think there are expectations for being part of the National Football League.  And I think just like the prospects that come to the draft — they do community service and have media interaction — this was another situation that we thought was important enough to make a requirement,” NFL vice president of social responsibility Anna Isaacson told Jones.

Players not attending the draft will receive the training at the rookie symposium.  Which raises an obvious question:  Why not provide the training to all draft picks at the rookie symposium?  Only 28 are at the draft; more than 250 will be present for the symposium.

The answer is obvious.  Providing the training to the players at the draft creates an opportunity for a little more positive P.R. as the league tries to continue its recovery from last year’s debacle that forced positive changes like, for example, the creation of a 45-minute presentation to be shown to all incoming rookies, starting with the guys who chose to attend the draft.

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Mariota gets a deal with Beats

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Marcus Mariota may not have a lot to say, but he has something to listen with.  And he’ll get paid to do it.

Mariota has become the latest NFL endorser of the Beats by Dre headphones.  The company officially welcomed Mariota to the family via Twitter on Monday.

The league probably isn’t thrilled with the arrangement, given that the NFL receives millions per year from Bose — and has fined players for wearing Beats products when they’re otherwise carrying the NFL’s flag.

It’s unknown how much Mariota will receive and unclear whether other incoming players will be getting a similar deal.  Mariota adds Beats to a list of endorsers that includes Nike and Subway.

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Joseph Randle’s domestic violence investigation nearing end

Joseph Randle AP

The Cowboys were willing to put themselves out there this offseason, offering a chance to free agent defensive end Greg Hardy despite the domestic violence incident which led to a 10-game suspension.

They might get another chance, with a player not nearly as prone to get extra opportunities because he’s less talented.

According to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Wichita police spokesman James Espinoza said the police investigation into a domestic violence incident involving Cowboys running back Joseph Randle is wrapping up this week, at which point local prosecutors will decide whether to pursue charges.

Randle was involved in an incident in February in Wichita, in which he was accused of brandishing a gun and threatening the mother of his child.

If he’s charged, he’s more likely to be suspended, though the league has made a point with the Hardy suspension that they were not going to be bound by the criminal justice system. Under the new personal conduct policy, first-offenders of domestic abuse could face a six-game ban, though the Hardy punishment shows Roger Goodell still considers himself having significant latitude.

The league has also beefed up its investigative efforts and is conducting its own review of these situations, lest another video of a guy punching his wife in the face ends up on TMZ.

Of course, Randle has been in trouble before, busted last October for stealing underwear and cologne, an incident he called “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life.”

The Cowboys fined him for that one, but the next one will be out of their hands.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

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A negative review of the Bills’ decision to trade their 2015 first-round pick to move up for WR Sammy Watkins.

The Dolphins want to evaluate draft prospects in a variety of settings.

The interior of the offensive line is an area the Patriots could address in the draft.

The Jets open a voluntary minicamp on Tuesday.

Cornerbacks have caught the eye of the Ravens leading up to the draft.

Bengals LB A.J. Hawk is opting for the Kentucky Derby over paying attention to the NFL draft this weekend.

The Browns’ meetings with draft prospects are going down to the wire.

A call for the Steelers to go after cornerbacks in the draft.

Texans DE J.J. Watt tried to help one of his fans get excused from work to attend a charity event he’s hosting.

The Colts may make a trade during the draft.

Jaguars G.M. Dave Caldwell could use a string of good picks this year.

Looking back at some of the biggest hits and misses in Titans draft history.

The return of CB Tony Carter bolsters the Broncos’ depth in the secondary.

What does Chiefs P Dustin Colquitt look for in a long snapper?

The Raiders will have a chance to add to their defensive front with the fourth pick.

A Chargers move would add to San Diego’s sad sports history.

Nebraska DE/LB Randy Gregory could be a fit for the Cowboys.

The Giants cleared some room on the running back depth chart.

The Eagles may not find the safety help they want in the draft.

Redskins G.M. Scot McCloughan wouldn’t mind a few more draft picks.

Five things to watch during the Bears’ minicamp this week.

S Glover Quin thinks some younger Lions defensive backs are in line for strong seasons.

Which cornerbacks might interest the Packers in the first round?

Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn is working to improve before his second year in Minnesota.

A review of Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff’s draft day trades.

The Panthers have generally done a good job with their first-round picks.

Will Shane Ray’s arrest change the Saints’ draft plans?

Assessing the Buccaneers’ need for wide receiver or tight end help.

Is a running back in the cards when the Cardinals pick in the first round?

A spin through Rams mock drafts.

Former 49ers pass rusher Charles Haley likes what he’s seen from current 49ers pass rusher Aldon Smith.

There are plenty of wide receivers for the Seahawks to consider in the draft.

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Andrew Whitworth dares the Bengals to draft his replacement

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The Bengals have the oldest starting left tackle in the NFL, so it only makes sense that they might look for a replacement this week.

But Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth has a message for any tackle they might draft — bring it on.

The 33-year-old Whitworth said he’s playing his best football as he enters his 10th season, and doesn’t see that changing soon.

Mess up and draft somebody at my position because you are going to sit around and watch him sit the bench,” Whitworth said, via Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s always been my mentality. I see it as a challenge.”

The former second-rounder has grown into one of the league’s top tackles, even after knee surgery two years ago, and has continued to play at a high level.

“Right now, this is the strongest I’ve been in my life, most conditioned I’ve been in my life,” Whitworth said. “I don’t see the door that’s closing. This is the strongest I’ve ever lifted in my career. I feel like I’m as fast or faster than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m in the best shape ever.

“I stop listening to what people thought about what year you are in or when they thought you should be done and started to just listen to what my body says. My body says I can still go get it. I’m still excited to take on anybody any day.”

It’s not that Whitworth would be a bad teammate if a young tackle came in, as he’s become the leader in their locker room. But the way he’s playing, the Bengals have to know any such pick is an investment in the future and not the present.

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Kevin Colbert: You want to find out entire story behind character concerns

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On Monday, Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert held his pre-draft press conference and spent some time talking about how much he liked this year’s group of outside linebacker prospects.

That meshes well with the team’s need to upgrade their defensive punch heading into next season, but the talent is only part of the package that teams have to evaluate. There’s also the issue of character, something that Colbert says the team takes seriously while evaluating prospects they’re considering adding to the roster.

It doesn’t eliminate a player from consideration by the team — the Steelers drafted tackle Mike Adams in the second round after a failed drug test at the combine — and it is something that will be of particular interest with edge rushers after Shane Ray’s arrest for marijuana possession and Randy Gregory’s positive drug test at the combine.

“You try to find out what the exact circumstance was,” Colbert said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Why a guy was suspended. Why a guy tested positive. Why a guy got thrown off a team. I think you always look into it. You just can’t take the public part of it and think this is it. There’s a story behind everything that goes on — right, wrong or indifferent. It’s our job to get to the root of the matter and figure out whether we want to take the chance or not.”

Ray and Gregory both visited the Steelers during the pre-draft process, although Ray’s arrest just happened on Monday so the Steelers wouldn’t have had a chance to dig into it at that time.

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Brooks will let time answer questions on Winston

Brooks Getty Images

The questions regarding quarterback Jameis Winston aren’t going away.  And former Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks realizes there’s only one way they will:  Through the passage of time.

“It’s fair enough to have questions,” Brooks said Monday, via Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune.  “It’s fair enough to have doubt.  I wouldn’t expect anything different.  I have certain questions that are going to have to be answered, whether this young man comes to the Bucs or goes elsewhere.  But I’m still going to have a relationship with him.  There are questions that I will let time answer.”

On one hand, Brooks is right — whether the off-field concerns regarding Winston become actual problems at the next level depends on whether he has additional off-field problems in the NFL.  But the challenge is to project the future based on the past.  And the questions that have emerged in the past put all teams on notice that there could be problems in the future.

“History has allowed for certain opinions about him,” Brooks said of Winston.  “Now, again, he has had a lot of say in it.  But we can’t get away from the four-letter word:  Time.  As much as we want the answers about what he’s going to do, what he’s going to be, let’s for once give in to the proper but unpopular thing:  time.”

Again, Brooks is right.  But if time reveals problems in the future, whoever drafts Winston will have to answer tough questions about that, internally and externally.

That’s why the Buccaneers have done so much homework on Winston to explore the various off-field issues and to ascertain whether they provide actual hints of future issues.  As part of that analysis, however, the Bucs need to ask themselves whether there’s a limit to the number of questions they’re willing to tolerate before opting for a player with fewer (or no) off-field issues and relatively comparable talent.

In the end, that question could be answered by the magnitude of the offers, if any, that the Buccaneers receive for the privilege to slide into the No. 1 spot and take Winston.

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Giants personnel VP hoping more than one longshot comes in

2015 Kentucky Derby - Previews Getty Images

Giants senior vice president of player personnel Chris Mara will be on the clock Saturday, hoping to find a few longshots to come through.

And then he’s going to go to a horse race and hope for the same thing.

Mara, the second-oldest son of Giants patriarch Wellington Mara, said as soon as the NFL Draft wraps up, he’s going to watch his horse, Itsaknockout try to pull an upset at the Kentucky Derby.

“My dad’s two favorite days of the year, ironically, were draft day and Kentucky Derby day and think he’d be pretty happy right now with the Derby being on the same day of the draft?’’ Mara told Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “I don’t think so.”

Chris Mara recalled trips to Belmont with his father, learning his love of racing as a young boy. But it wasn’t until after the Giants won the Super Bowl following the 2011 season that he poured his money into the project, buying into a Kentucky syndicate called Starlight Racing.

Another of Mara’s horses, Intense Holiday, finished 12th in the Derby last year, and he thinks Itsaknockout will go off at 25-1 or 30-1 Saturday.

Of course, Mara will he busy Saturday looking for some late-round help for his football team, forcing him to take a private plane to get to Churchill Downs for the start of the race.

“I’m working on it,’’ he said of his itinerary. “Everyone’s aware of the situation so we’re trying to figure it out. I plan right now on being [at the Giants facility] on Saturday, I just don’t know for how long. By the time I leave, the hay will be in the barn, okay?”

The Giants have five picks Saturday, including a pair of seventh-rounders. So if you’re a team who needs a few late choices, call the Giants, Mara might be looking to move them so he has time for a mint julep.

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Teddy Bridgewater expects to play with Adrian Peterson this year

Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson AP

Teddy Bridgewater didn’t take over as the Vikings’ quarterback until after running back Adrian Peterson landed on the commissioner’s exempt list last season, but their lack of playing time together didn’t get in the way of a little socializing this offseason.

Bridgewater went to Peterson’s 30th birthday, though he said Monday that he wasn’t one of the lucky guests to ride a camel during the festivities. If things go the way he expects, he should have a chance to be there for next year’s birthday party because Bridgewater thinks that he and Peterson will get a chance to continue their relationship this year.

“I stay away from talking about the guys’ contracts and everything, because that’s none of my personal business,” Bridgewater said, via the Associated Press. ”But like I said, ‘We expect him to be here this year.'”

Bridgewater’s not alone with that feeling. We have seen and heard a lot of discussion about a possible Peterson trade over the last few months, but nothing has materialized and the Vikings brass has consistently said they don’t want to trade him to another club.

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Shane Ray issues apology, says “no excuses” for drug charge

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Missouri defensive end Shane Ray has issued an apology following a citation for marijuana possession on Monday morning.

According to Corporal Scott White of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Ray was pulled over for speeding on Monday morning in Cooper County, Missouri. Upon the traffic stop, a highway trooper smelled what was believed to be fresh, unsmoked marijuana. The vehicle was searched, and marijuana was found, White said. Ray was cited for possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana, a misdemeanor, and released on his recognizance, White said. He was also cited for a lane violation.

I’d like to apologize to my Mother, Fans and prospective NFL teams for my poor judgement Monday morning,” Ray said in a statement, via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. “I am embarrassed and realize there are consequences for my actions. I was not under the influence nor impaired, therefore I was not detained. Fortunately, Mondays incident only resulted in a citation.

“I will make better choices in the future. It is imperative that I continue to strive to better myself. My future NFL career has been something I have always dreamed about and is very important to me. I commit that my actions will represent that. There are no excuses here and I will take the necessary steps to ensure this will not happen again. I will not jeopardize my ability to have a positive impact on and off the field moving forward.”

Ray joins Nebraska’s Randy Gregory as possible first-round pass rushers to have issues with marijuana in the lead up to the draft. The timing is less than ideal with the draft just three days from getting underway.

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Broncos re-sign cornerback Tony Carter

Tony Carter AP

Broncos restricted free agent cornerback Tony Carter has re-signed with the club, according to the NFL’s Monday transactions.

A reserve in Denver’s secondary for the last several seasons, the 28-year-old Carter notched five tackles in eight regular season games in 2014. A seventh-year pro from Florida State, Carter has recorded 49 tackles, defended 20 passes and hauled in three interceptions in regular season play.

The Broncos are strong at cornerback, with Chris Harris and Aqib Talib a very good top tandem and 2014 first-round pick Bradley Roby a solid third option. Carter and 2013 third-round pick Kayvon Webster add to the depth.

Clubs had until last Friday to sign restricted agents to offer sheets. With the deadline having passed, the remaining RFAs figure to sign their one-year tender offers with their clubs as Carter did Monday.

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Licht says multiple teams called Sunday about the top pick

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The Buccaneers have done their best to create the impression that they want quarterback Jameis Winston with the first pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

And now they’re possibly trying to create the impression that they may be willing to trade the pick.

Buccaneers G.M. Jason Licht told Steve Wyche of NFL Media that the team received calls from more than one team on Sunday regarding the No. 1 pick.  Licht declined to name the teams, and he said no offers were made or parameters discussed.  But the message is clear.

“Everything is for sale,” Licht said.

If the top pick isn’t sold, the Buccaneers know who the pick will be; Licht said he and Smith are in “complete alignment” on that.

The question remains whether they’ll be in complete alignment regarding whether to make the pick or trade it, based on any offers they ultimately receive.  Smith once took a team to the Super Bowl without a franchise quarterback, and the Buccaneers won the only Super Bowl in franchise history without one.  The coach could eventually decide to swap the prospect of putting all eggs in one basket with spreading them out into several.

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Report: Falcons have looked into moving up in round one

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A published report pegs the Falcons as a club that could have designs on moving up in the first round.

According to Albert Breer of NFL Media, Atlanta has explored trading up from the No. 8 overall pick, with other clubs suspecting the Falcons are looking for defensive help.

Earlier Monday, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggested the Falcons could be interested in Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., with a trade-up possible. According to the Journal-Constitution, Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff indicated Atlanta has had “a lot of discussions already about moving both ways” in the draft.

The Falcons have eight draft picks, one each in rounds one through six and two in round seven. All eight picks can be traded. And to move up from No. 8, the club might have to contemplate surrendering a second- or third-round selection, depending how far it wanted to leap.

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