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Chris Long signs with Eagles

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After winning the Super Bowl with the Patriots, defensive end Chris Long said that he wouldn’t be returning to New England for a second season.

Long cited a desire to play a more prominent role on defense than he did down the stretch for the Patriots as the reason for moving on and we now know where he’ll be vying for that kind of playing time. Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that Long has agreed to a contract with the Eagles.

Long will likely take on a fair number of the snaps that Connor Barwin played at defensive end last season. Barwin was released earlier this offseason and wound up signing with the Rams, who once employed Long although their defensive scheme has changed and will allow Barwin to move back to outside linebacker.

Long had 35 tackles and four sacks for the Patriots in the regular season last year.

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Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota out of boot, expects to be ready for camp

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Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is out of the walking boot, and planning on being 100 percent by the time training camp starts.

Mariota told KHON2 in Hawaii that going home to work on his rehab (as well as doing part of the work in Oregon) has been beneficial to him as he recovers from last year’s broken leg.

“The opportunity to come home, to relax, to see family, to hang out with friends, to enjoy some of the sun and the beach, it really rejuvenates me,” Mariota said, via the Tennessean. “It gives me an opportunity to get healthy mentally along with getting healthy physically. With all the eyes and ears that I’ve kind of had around me, this process has been really good and I’m in a good spot.”

Mariota said his recovery from the Dec. 24 injury was a bit ahead of schedule, and that he’s been running on the beach.

He said he planned to return to Tennessee in late May, at which point he’ll decide if he’ll be able to take part in any of the OTAs.

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NFL says Raiders vote not a message to Buffalo about stadium

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Last June, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the Bills “have to stay up with” other teams in the league in terms of their stadium in what seemed like a suggestion that it was time for the team to move forward with a push for a stadium to replace New Era Field.

Giants co-owner John Mara sent similar vibes earlier in 2016 when he said the Bills would need a new stadium to keep pace financially with others in the league. It didn’t take much to remember both sets of comments as 31 of the league’s owners (including Terry and Kim Pegula) voted to approve the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas. That adds up to three teams moving in a relatively short span of time after failing to secure new stadiums, but NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said there was no message for Buffalo to take away from the vote, however.

“This certainly is not intended to send any message and I don’t believe anyone should take any message in it,” Grubman said. “Buffalo’s fans are legendary and ranked right up there with the greatest fans in the NFL. Ownership there is evaluating their options and those options are very long-term in nature. I don’t want to speak for them, but I think you can see, by virtue of the fact that they’re not waiting and have done work on the stadium already, that they care about their fans and they care about Buffalo.”

Direct message or not, the stadium issue has been on the table in Buffalo for several years now and the team is going to step up the push for a new building sooner or later. Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News quotes a league source that says the Pegulas “want the team to have some success” before putting out their palms for public money, but the team’s current lease is up in 2022 so the conversation is coming.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

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Making a case for the Bills drafting Pittsburgh QB Nathan Peterman.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has been a big donor to the University of Michigan and would love to see the team draft some players from Ann Arbor.

The addition of WR Brandin Cooks and CB Stephon Gilmore excites Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of UCLA basketball star Lonzo Ball, went to camp trying to make the Jets a couple of times in the 1990s.

The Ravens may be done adding free agents until after the draft.

Would the Bengals take a wide receiver with the ninth pick in the draft?

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam termed the team’s offer to WR Terrelle Pryor before he left an “extremely fair” one.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin identified the team’s defensive needs as cornerback and outside linebacker.

It seemed obvious, but Texans owner Bob McNair confirmed the team will look to add a quarterback to the roster.

The Colts’ work to upgrade their pass rush got some positive recognition.

Will this year’s free agency haul work out better for the Jaguars on the field than past ones?

The path of Titans QB Marcus Mariota’s recovery from a broken leg continues to be a positive one.

Broncos S Justin Simmons made a huge play last year by jumping the line on an extra point attempt and isn’t in favor of losing the option to do it again.

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said it was a sad day when the team released RB Jamaal Charles.

A range of reactions to the news that the Raiders are going to Las Vegas.

The Chargers announced the dates for their offseason work.

LB Jaylon Smith’s return to the field is something the Cowboys still hope to see.

Giants WR Brandon Marshall will join QB Eli Manning at Duke for workouts in early April.

Should the Eagles trade WR Jordan Matthews?

Will coach Jay Gruden have a bigger role in Redskins personnel decisions?

Bears G.M. Ryan Pace meets the media on Tuesday.

The Lions expect to have contract talks with DE Ziggy Ansah.

Said Packers G.M. Ted Thompson of TE Martellus Bennett, “We like what he brings to the equation. He seems to be excited about being there, so we’re happy to have him.”

A list of prospects who have met with the Vikings leading up to the draft.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn is still working on getting past the Super Bowl loss.

Have the Panthers improved the most in the NFC South this offseason?

Former Saints RB Deuce McAllister is consulting with a high school athletic department.

Buccaneers G.M. Jason Licht said he doesn’t think he’ll ever be risk averse in the draft.

Will the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas impact the Cardinals?

Rams COO Kevin Demoff is full of optimism about the team’s second year in Los Angeles.

RB DuJuan Harris became the second player to re-sign with the 49ers after hitting free agency.

Trevone Boykin’s arrest could lead to a change at backup quarterback for the Seahawks.

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Bills bring in former ESPN exec to work on public image

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After the Bills fired Rex Ryan and benched quarterback Tyrod Taylor late last season, General Manager Doug Whaley held a press conference that left many feeling the franchise was being run in a dysfunctional manner.

Owner Terry Pegula took issue with that characterization at the time and it appears that the team is taking further steps to make sure that future dealings with the public don’t leave that impression.

Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports that the team has hired Gerry Matalon as a consultant to work with members of the organization. Matalon was a longtime talent executive at ESPN who worked on developing on-air personalities and will be meeting with Bills executives at the league meetings in Arizona this week.

He will work with coach Sean McDermott and his role “might also expand” to advising Whaley, although recent reports have pegged Whaley’s job security as tenuous. The team has also hired a new head of communications this offseason, so they seem equipped to put up a better front should those reports foreshadow Whaley’s departure in the near future.

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Texans will talk to Bill O’Brien about an extension next offseason

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Bill O’Brien has kept the Texans competitive without what you’d call a stable quarterback situation, or a quarterback, for the last three years.

But if he wants a new contract, he’s going to have to wait.

According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Texans owner Bob McNair said he’d talk to O’Brien about an extension after this season, which will be the fourth of the five-year deal he signed when he took over the team.

“We’ll talk to him about it at the end of this year,” McNair said. “That’s typically when we do that sort of thing. . . .

“We’ll sit down and see what he’s [O’Brien] happy with and if he wants to be extended and see how we feel.”

Whether he wants to is a reasonable question, after reports that he might have been on his way out last year. But O’Brien did the best he could to quell the speculation then.

The reality is, if he’s not in Houston, he’d be somewhere else soon. He’s 27-21, posted winning records each of his three seasons, and done so with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, and Brock Osweiler as his quarterbacks.

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John Mara on Odell Beckham: He’s the last guy I’m worried about

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In the aftermath of the final game of the Giants’ season, wide receiver Odell Beckham punched a hole in a Lambeau Field wall in an expression of the emotions he was feeling after his team was blown out by the Packers.

That led a variety of people from the team, including General Manager Jerry Reese, to say that it was time for Beckham to grow up after a couple of years filled with emotional outbursts that sometimes detracted from Beckham’s production on the field. On Monday, co-owner John Mara took a different track.

He joked that he offered the Packers $100 to fix the hole in the wall and said that Beckham is “the last guy on our team that I’m worried about.”

“He’s an emotional player,” Mara said, via NJ.com. “I think he’s going to mature over time, but I’m not losing any sleep worrying about him. He’s a prideful, motivated young man who competes at 100 percent all the time. I think he’ll mature over time.”

Beckham is entering the final year of his rookie contract, which means he’s eligible for both an extension and a fifth-year team option. Picking up the latter seems inevitable, but Mara said no talks have taken place about a longer deal.

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NFL stadiums have received an estimated $6.7 billion from taxpayers

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With Nevada kicking in $750 million to build the Raiders a new stadium, NFL teams have now received nearly $7 billion in tax money to build stadiums over the last two decades.

According to an analysis from ESPN, the total price tag to taxpayers for building new stadiums and renovating old ones has been $6.7 billion since 1997. That includes 19 new stadiums and three major renovation projects.

Not every team has received public money. The stadium the Jets and Giants share in New Jersey was financed privately, and the stadium the Rams and Chargers will share in Los Angeles is being financed privately as well.

The NFL still makes most of its money from its television contracts. But there may not be enough attention paid to how much money the NFL makes from state and local leaders who are eager to attract teams or keep teams in place, and willing to pay a lot of taxpayer money on stadiums.

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Jed York not expecting Raiders fans to jump ship to 49ers

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Just because the Raiders will be leaving Oakland in the next few years, San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York isn’t expecting a massive rush of Bay Area fans suddenly to shed their silver and black for 49ers’ red and gold.

The Raiders fans are a unique group,” York said,” via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. “I don’t know that they’ve necessarily been loyal to L.A. or to Oakland, I think they have always been loyal to the Raiders. I think you’ll see the Raiders following them wherever they may go, and going to Las Vegas in a few years, I think you’ll see that really take place.

“So for us, I don’t think it’s a big win for the 49ers, but I think it’s a good thing for the National Football League. The Raiders have tried to get a deal done in Oakland for a decade-plus, and they were unfortunately unable to do anything, and I think Las Vegas put together a good opportunity for the Raiders to continue to have a good experience for their overall fan base wherever their fans come from.”

York cited past experience of being the lone football entity in the Bay Area while the Raiders played in Los Angeles from 1982-94. He said the 49ers didn’t see any substantial change in revenue from the departure, or return, of the Raiders to Oakland.

“Raiders fans, they’re loyal to the Raiders,” York said. “They’re very different than 49ers fans, and there’s not a ton of overlap where you would see different teams kind of go from one to another. You just haven’t seen that, and I wouldn’t expect it going forward.”

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John Elway on quarterbacks: Same old thing

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At some point, there will be some kind of definitive end to musing about where Tony Romo will spend the 2017 football season and everyone will move on to other topics of conversation when Broncos General Manager John Elway steps in front of a microphone.

That point wasn’t Monday. Elway met the media in Arizona at the owners meetings and was asked about quarterbacks, which led him to say the “same old thing” he’s been saying all offseason. He won’t talk about Romo because Romo is under contract to the Cowboys and he will talk about how much confidence the team has in Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.

“Like we’ve said, we really feel good about the two young ones that we have,” Elway said, via ESPN.com. “Trevor did a good job for us last year. Paxton was young. So the plan is to stay the course there and see what’s available in the draft. So we’ll go from there. But we like both, and Paxton was a first-rounder last year for a reason. And then Trevor came in and played very well. So it’ll be a great competition between them in the spring.”

With neither the Broncos nor the Texans showing any sign that they’re willing to make a trade for Romo, networks reportedly interested in him unable to make such a trade and no financial upside to the Cowboys releasing him, there’s nothing to suggest a change to the status quo in the near future. That may mean Elway gets to play the hits a few more times before retiring the act for good.

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Reggie McKenzie says Derek Carr to be full-go for offseason work

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Raiders tackle Donald Penn said last month that quarterback Derek Carr was already closing in on being back to full strength after a broken leg ended his 2016 season in December.

General Manager Reggie McKenzie reaffirmed that notion on Monday at the NFL owner’s meetings in Phoenix. McKenzie said that Carr will be a full-go for the team’s offseason workout program, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com.

The Raiders can begin their offseason programs on April 17. OTAs take place in May before a final veteran mini-camp in June.

Carr sustained the broken leg on Dec. 24 in a 33-25 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

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Colts plan to go slow with Andrew Luck’s shoulder

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Third- or fourth-string quarterbacks usually get lost in the shuffle during an NFL off-season, their low number of practice reps dwindling as the regular season nears.

This year’s backups in Indianapolis will be busier than most.

Colts owner Jim Irsay said Monday the team plans to go slow with quarterback Andrew Luck, who is recovering from January right shoulder surgery. Luck is expected to begin throwing in the spring, but it is clear the club won’t ask of him too much, too soon.

Luck remains on schedule for a full recovery before the season begins, Irsay said.

“We are not going to be rushing him,” Irsay told his team’s website. “We are going to make sure, obviously, that the shoulder has to be ready and the doctors are going to give full approval before he starts putting real reps on it and that sort of thing.

“This is going to be a huge benefit in the long run. We really feel that he’s going to be completely healed for the season and he’s going to have a great season. Chris (Ballard) and Chuck (Pagano) have talked and we are going to make sure, if we need an extra arm in camp, as we start doing our work, we will be prepared for that.”

In 2016, Luck threw for 4,240 yards with 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 15 games. He also set career highs with a 63.5 completion percentage and 7.8 average yards per attempt.

That is despite some apparent teeth-gritting behind the scenes.

“I don’t think people realized how much he had to work to get ready to play each week,” Irsay said to Colts.com. “He really had to work hard last year, and it was very mentally draining to get ready.”

 

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Relocation profitable for owners, but it cheapens their fans

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On the evening it was reported the Chargers were relocating to Los Angeles, a San Diego police officer and his partner were dispatched to the team facility. There had been an act of vandalism; a man streamed live video on social media as he pelted the city-owned building’s doors with eggs while cursing the team.

It was quiet now.

The officer stood outside a patrol car, there to deter further disruption. He is a San Diego native, he said. Some of his family members have Chargers tattoos. He grew up attending games with his dad. Now, while working his beat, the father of two toddlers absorbed the evening’s personal consequence.

He can never attend a San Diego Chargers game with his kids.

Franchise relocation, in many respects, is good for business in the NFL. Certainly, its 32 owners profit. But the real gamble Monday wasn’t the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. It was that, with a third relocation in 15 months, the league continued to cheapen the very foundation of its business: fans.

When the Rams and Chargers moved, the other 31 owners pocketed nearly $21 million in relocation fees off each franchise. On Monday, Raiders owner Mark Davis became indebted about $11 million to each owner to swap Oakland for Las Vegas. Local revenue projections from new stadiums make such payments worthwhile.

These numbers are tangible.

In exchange, the cost of weakening the facade of fandom is far more difficult to quantify.

Teams cut players. Teams trade players. That’s part of business in the NFL. But the relationship between a club and city is packaged as something beyond that. It’s portrayed, at times, as a fabric resembling family. Home markets aren’t supposed to be cut or traded. It should be a rare last resort.

Having three relocations in 15 months doesn’t merely send the wrong message.

It screams it.

It screams that NFL owners run their franchise as a business. It screams they operate in their own interests. It screams the long-term viability of a club comes first and foremost, far more valuable than how the franchise is ingrained in its followers’ lives and traditions of their families.

This is the way it always has been in many NFL cities.

In a 15-month span, the league’s gamble was being so brazen about it.

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Jimmy Haslam: “We could trade” Brock Osweiler

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Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s the guy who had to sign off on buying a second-round pick for $16 million, so he knows what’s going on.

But like everyone else, he’s not sure if that means the throw-in to that deal — quarterback Brock Osweiler — is going to be hanging around the Browns for very long.

“We picked up a second-round pick” Haslam said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Brock could be on our team or we could trade him. There’s lots of options out there and like I said you guys should cover it with [executive] Sashi [Brown] tomorrow.”

While that might seem a startling slap in the face to the former Texans starter, the Browns have never created any illusion about their interest in acquiring Osweiler (along with a second-round pick and a sixth-round pick in exchange for a fourth-round pick), from the moment he was barely mentioned in the press release announce the trade.

But as long as he’s there, I guess they’ll be nice to him and talk like he’s actually a player and not just the guy carrying the luggage (the pick) to the room.

“We’re excited about getting the second-round pick and we’re excited to add a guy to our roster who has won games in the NFL,” Haslam said. “We now have eight first- or second-round picks in the next two years. We’re excited about that.”

What that means is so far no one’s really offered anything for Osweiler, or they’d have almost certainly taken it, even though he’s done more on the field than any of their quarterbacks of recent vintage and certainly the ones on the roster at the moment.

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49ers re-sign DuJuan Harris

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After bouncing around the league for years, DuJuan Harris may be finding some stability in San Francisco.

Harris, a running back who got a career-high 38 carries last year, re-signed with the 49ers today, his agent announced.

The 28-year-old Harris entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Jaguars in 2011 and has spent time with the Steelers, Packers, Vikings, Saints, Seahawks and Ravens before signing with the 49ers late in the 2015 season.

Harris will again serve as a backup to Carlos Hyde this season.

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