DeMarco Murray scheduled to visit Dolphins

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Free agent running back DeMarco Murray continues to make the rounds, looking for a new home.

Murray will visit the Dolphins on Sunday, Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post reports. The Dolphins are in search of a running back to pair with Kenyan Drake.

Murray visited the Lions, but they signed veteran running back LeGarrette Blount on Friday. He also had a trip to Seattle last week.

The Titans released Murray to save $6.5 million in cap space. He led the league in rushing with 1,845 yards in 2014 with the Cowboys, but Murray has only one 1,000-yard season since.

He rushed for 659 yards and six touchdowns last season, his second with the Titans.

Matthew Slater visits Steelers

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The Great New England Exodus of 2018 may not yet be over.

Field Yates of ESPN reports that receiver and special-teams ace Matthew Slater is visiting the Steelers on Saturday.

Slater, 32, arrived in New England via the fifth round of the 2008 draft, winning a pair of Super Bowls and playing in two others. He has earned a spot in the Pro Bowl for seven straight seasons as a special teamer.

The Steelers presumably are eyeing Slater for a similar role, given that the Steelers currently don’t need receivers. If they do, Slater definitely isn’t the answer; in 10 NFL seasons, Slater has one career catch — a 46-yarder back in 2011.

Vinny Curry quickly lands in Tampa

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The Eagles decided that $9 million in 2018 would be too much for defensive end Vinny Curry. The Buccaneers quickly gobbled him up.

Curry has agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Buccaneers, according to Jenna Laine of Curry reportedly will make up to $27 million (key words “up to”), with $11.5 million guaranteed for injury.

A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that $6.5 million is fully guaranteed at signing.

A second-round pick out of Marshall in 2012, Curry didn’t start a game from 2012 through 2016, and he started every game in 2017 — including all three postseason games. But the Eagles couldn’t justify keeping him for cap reasons.

Daniel Kilgore isn’t upset about trade to Miami

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Last month, center Daniel Kilgore signed an extension with the 49ers. Last week, the 49ers abruptly traded him to the Dolphins, a day after signing former Giants center Weston Richburg.

Kilgore, for his part, isn’t upset about the move.

I don’t regret anything,” Kilgore told reporters on Friday, via the Miami Herald. “I did want to stay there. I had the goal of starting my career there and finishing my career there. That obviously is not going to happen. . . . I’ve been there for seven seasons. This happening, I don’t regret it, it’s a new chapter for my family and I.”

Kilgore appreciated the fact that the 49ers traded him to a place where he’ll play right away, given Miami’s decision to cut former first-rounder Mike Pouncey.

“As far as how they handled it, I appreciate how [coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and [G.M.] John Lynch got me in a position where I can be successful,” Kilgore said. “They could have traded me anywhere but I think they did the right thing by putting me in a position that they know I can be successful, and putting me with a staff that loves the game and that are good people.”

Kilgore, who saved more than $300,000 in state income taxes by being traded from a California team to a Florida team one day before earning a $2.3 million roster bonus, joins the likes of Josh Sitton, Albert Wilson, and Danny Amendola as new members of the Dolphins. Pouncey exited along with Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh, Lawrence Timmons, and Julius Thomas.

Jets explored moving to No. 1

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It’s still unclear who the Jets are targeting with the third overall pick in the draft. The latest tidbit regarding the move from No. 6 suggests that they’re definitely leaning quarterback.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that the Jets talked to the Browns about a move all the way to No. 1. Which means that, potentially, the jump to No. 3 is merely a pit stop on the way to the top of the draft.

If the goal is to get a quarterback, the move to No. 3 means that the Jets feel sufficiently strongly about at least three quarterbacks to justify giving up three second-round picks for the privilege of moving up three spots in the pecking order.

The apparent interest in a quarterback makes the decision to re-sign Josh McCown at $10 million and to sign Teddy Bridgewater in the range of $5 million even more curious, and it suggests that, eventually, 2016 second-rounder Christian Hackenberg (who has never played in a regular-season game) will be gone.

It also cuts against the win-now vibe that G.M. Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles otherwise have been exuding. A high pick spent on a player who won’t play could have been a high pick spent on a player who will play.

For who, who will be drafted by the Jets — and who will play quarterback this year and beyond — remains to be seen.

Kyle Wilber signs with Raiders

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The Cowboys, who have yet to sign a player in free agency, lost another linebacker. Kyle Wilber has agreed to terms with the Raiders, Todd Archer of ESPN reports.

Wilber joins former Cowboys fullback Keith Smith and former Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia in Oakland. Smith followed Bisaccia to Oakland earlier this week.

Wilber, a fourth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2012, played 89 games with 16 starts in his six seasons in Dallas. He made 99 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He doubled as a core special teams player.

The Cowboys also lost linebacker Anthony Hitchens this week, as Hitchens got $14 million in guaranteed money from the Chiefs.

Terrelle Pryor will visit Seattle on Sunday

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Seattle continues to look for weapons to help Russell Wilson, with Terrelle Pryor the latest receiver the Seahawks are recruiting.

Pryor will visit the Seahawks on Sunday, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Pryor is in Cleveland today but to support Ohio State in the NCAA wrestling championships and not to visit with the Browns.

The Browns, though, still want Pryor, and Pryor has expressed interest on social media in returning to Cleveland. The Browns and Pryor have talked but remain apart on money, via Cabot.

Cleveland already has Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry and Corey Coleman at the position, with Coleman possibly the odd man out if Pryor returns to town. Pryor had a 1,000-yard season in Cleveland in 2016 before leaving for Washington, where he caught only 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Browns coach Hue Jackson drafted Pryor as a quarterback in Oakland and then gave him a chance as a receiver in Cleveland.

The Rams also have interest in Pryor.

Vontaze Burfict’s defense may rely in part on Adderall exception

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The planned defense of linebacker Vontaze Burfict to an alleged PED violation, as leaked to and explained by Adam Schefter of ESPN, doesn’t hold water. We’ve since tracked down some more details about the apparent effort to avoid the suspension (and to prevent the voiding of all remaining guarantees in Burfict’s deal). While he still has serious problems with his case, there’s at least a little possible merit to his position, even if it was previously not leaked and/or not fully explained by the recipient of the leak.

However, it’s likely not enough to beat the suspension.

Burfict, as multiple league sources have explained it, apparently hopes to take advantage of the rule that shifts certain banned substances from the PED policy to the substance-abuse policy in the offseason. Generally, the exception encompasses a broad range of stimulants; specially, the issue typically involves Adderall.

The exception is codified at page 10, footnote 5, of the PED policy: “If a test administered to a Player outside of the Playing Season generates a positive result for a stimulant listed on Appendix A, the Player will not be subject to discipline under this Policy, but will instead be treated as a behavioral referral to the Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse. The Playing Season shall be defined as the period beginning with the Player’s first preseason game of the season and ending the week following his final regular or postseason game. For free agents, the Playing Season shall run from the League’s first preseason game and end upon the conclusion of the Super Bowl.”

This is hardly a silver bullet for Burfict (assuming he tested positive for a stimulant like Adderall), since he reportedly took two different prescription medications, one for a concussion and one for a shoulder injury. Stimulants like Adderall typically aren’t used in the treatment of a shoulder injury.

Then there’s the question of whether the positive test for a stimulant like Adderall falls beyond the playing season. Although Burfict ultimately didn’t play in Week 17, he tested positive during the week preceding the game and, more importantly, during the week after the last game he played, in Week 16. As defined in the policy, “The Playing Season shall be defined as the period beginning with the Player’s first preseason game of the season and ending the week following his final regular or post-season game.” (Emphasis added.)

So even if he didn’t play in Week 17, his Playing Season as defined by the policy extended one week beyond the last game he played, on the Sunday of Week 16, against the Lions.

As to Burfict’s apparent intent to rely on the fact that he was prescribed certain medications, the PED policy contains a very clear Therapeutic Use Exemption. To obtain a pass for using banned substances at the direction of a doctor, all i’s must be dotted and t’s must be crossed. And, most importantly, the approval from the league must come before the player tests positive. No mention of a Therapeutic Use Exemption was made by Schefter, which strongly implies that no mention of a Therapeutic Use Exemption was made to him.

The bottom line for Burfict is that he still will have a very tough time beating the suspension, based on the facts as leaked by his camp and the circumstances as interpreted by others who know the policies and procedures. But hopefully now there’s a better understanding of what Burfict will be claiming, how it relates to the PED policy, and the challenges he’ll face in putting forth this defense.

Colts release Johnathan Hankins

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The Colts not only are avoiding free agents in 2018 but also are dumping free agents from 2017.

The team has announced that defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins has been released. The timing is no accident; $4.5 million of his $8 million salary for 2018 was due to become fully guaranteed as of Sunday.

He ultimately earned $10 million in salary and roster bonus last year, along with $468,750 in per-game roster bonuses.

The move results in no cap charge for the Colts, and it serves as a reminder that players signed to multi-year deals in free agency this year could be gone by next year.

Colts-Jets trade proves the value of tanking

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There’s no evidence that either the Colts or Jets deliberately tried to lose games last year, but there’s plenty of evidence of the value of the Colts having lost more games than the Jets did.

Indianapolis finished the year at 4-12. The Jets ended the season at 5-11. The one-game difference resulted in a three-spot gap at the top of the draft, which resulted in the Jets giving up three second-round picks for the privilege for trading places with the Colts.

Three second-r0und picks to the Colts, for simply being one game worse than the Jets. Would you have even known the Colts’ final record last year without looking it up? (I didn’t.) 3-13, 4-12, 5-11, 6-10, who cares? A non-playoff year is a non-playoff year, and no one hangs a banner after almost qualifying for the postseason. (Well, maybe the Colts would.)

So, again, once it’s clear that a team isn’t going to make it to the playoffs, the smart business move is to lose, lose, and lose some more. It’s also smart to never admit it — and to strenuously object to any suggestion that, for example, a decision to bench a franchise quarterback who won two Super Bowl for an underachieving backup is aimed in whole or in part at losing as many games as possible and, in turn, getting the highest possible spot in all seven rounds of the draft.

For as long as there’s a draft with a final order based solely on how poorly a team did the prior year, there’s an incentive to do as poorly as possible, once the playoffs aren’t a possibility. The added haul that the Colts will receive over the next two years makes that clear, and they got there simply by being 4-12 as opposed to 5-11 or 6-10 or whatever their best record could have been without qualifying for the postseason.

Colts wanted to add picks, but stay in position for a premium player

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The Jets’ plan after moving from the sixth overall pick to the third overall pick still isn’t clear. The Colts’ plan is much more obvious. They’re trying to add good, young players to a roster that doesn’t have nearly enough of them.

“It gives us a chance to really replenish our young talent, and start building a core of young talent that we need to do,” Ballard told the team’s official website in a video posted to social media. “I’ve said this since I walked in the door, you want to build with your own players. You want to draft and develop your own guys. That’s how you build a lasting organization and team that builds and grows together, and that’s important to us.”

The move down three spots came with a pair of second-round picks this year, and a second-round pick next year.

“We feel like at six, we’ll still be able to acquire a premium player,” Ballard explained. “Plus, being able to pick up the two twos this year and the two next year, that gives us four picks this year in the top 50 of the draft, and then three picks next year, one in the first, two in the second.”

The Colts could still get more picks, if they move down from No. 6. Which Ballard hasn’t ruled out.

“We feel really good about our options at six at this time,” Ballard said. “We’re still open, you know, we’ll still be open if the right opportunity presents itself at six to move down. But right now, we feel pretty good. It would have to be a pretty attractive offer for us to move away from six because of the player we think we’re gonna get.”

Ballard acknowledged that the Colts talked to “a couple other teams,” strongly hinting that any other teams to which the Colts talked were not already picking in the top 10; Ballard emphasized the importance “to stay in position in that top 10 where we could still get a premium player.”

The deal with the Jets was several days in the making, according to Ballard, with talks beginning on Monday or Tuesday. It’s the second trade in less than a week that resulted in teams moving up, with the Bills moving from No. 21 to No. 12 in a deal with the Bengals.

Chances are more deals will be happening before the picks start to be made on April 26.

Orlando Scandrick gets his wish, will be released by Cowboys

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Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has been asking for his release, and now he’ll get it.

Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that the Cowboys have informed Scandrick he will be released.

The 31-year-old Scandrick is still capable of starting when healthy, but he’s coming off a season in which he missed five games with back and hand injuries. He hasn’t played all 16 games in a season since 2013.

Now Scandrick will be a free agent, and he’ll hope to convince some team he can stay healthy and get one more contract worthy of a starting cornerback.

Seahawks continue bargain shopping, add safety Maurice Alexander

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The Seahawks truly are creating the Legion of Whom.

While they may not be finished taking apart the defense which made them a consistent contender, they continue to shop in the lower reaches of free agency to backfill that side.

According to Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune, they signed Rams safety Maurice Alexander. While he was a starter at the beginning of the year for the Rams, he was released in October after some struggles.

So along with bringing back their own backup safety Bradley McDougald, it’s hardly the kind of move to make people forget Kam Chancellor (who may not play again, at least there) or Earl Thomas (who could be available in trade). Oh and by the way, they released Richard Sherman, traded Michael Bennett, and defensive end Cliff Avril‘s likely done because of a neck injury.

They did sign pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo, so there’s that. And they also countered the loss of Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson on offense by bringing in Ed Dickson and Jaron Brown.

So who do the Jets want at No. 3?

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The Jets have moved to No. 3 not to be at No. 3 but to get player No. 1 on their board. So who is it?

The prevailing reaction in response to the news of the three-spot jump seems to be that the Jets want a quarterback, and that they’re fine with any of three that would be there when they pick. It may not be quite that simple.

The Jets could be hoping to get running back Saquon Barkley at No. 3, with defensive end Nick Chubb being viewed as an acceptable fallback. If just one quarterback is taken in the first two picks, they’re guaranteed to get one of the two top non-quarterbacks. If it’s bang-bang one-two quarterbacks (and don’t be shocked if the Bills now move up to No. 2 with the Giants to get a quarterback), the Jets will get Barkley.

Also, the Browns may now feel more compelled to take a quarterback at No. 1 instead of No. 4, if they think the Jets will take a quarterback. Which sets the stage for two quarterbacks being gone by the time the Jets pick.

Other factors support this possible strategy. First, the Jets signed Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater becomes, potentially, the young quarterback who is evaluated this year with the possibility of becoming the starter in 2019. Second, G.M. Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles may feel compelled to win now. Drafting and stashing a quarterback with the third overall pick won’t help that cause; drafting an impact player who’ll start Week One at another position will.

Consider the team’s recent experiences. Last year, the Jets took safety Jamal Adams at No. 6, and he became an instant contributor. The year before, they used a second-round pick on quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who has yet to play in a regular-season game.

The idea that the Jets definitely will take a quarterback at No. 3 means that they definitely have decided that there are three of five potential first-round quarterbacks who will become franchise quarterbacks. Given the Hackenberg misadventure, it’s hard to imagine the Jets being that confident about their ability to evaluate incoming quarterbacks.

Bills may have to make another deal now, with an old friend


The Bills have already made one trade to get higher in the first round.

They may have to make another one, and renew and old acquaintance to execute the next one.

With the Jets making a bold move Saturday to trade to the third overall pick, the Bills are faced with the prospect of falling too far down the pecking order for the quarterback they need so badly (despite their claims of affection of A.J. McCarron).

Bills General Manager Brandon Beane now has to realize that there’s a chance at least two if not three quarterbacks will be off the board in the top five (the Browns at first and fourth, the Jets third and the Broncos fifth), so sitting tight with his first pick 12th overall (acquired from the Bengals for left tackle Cordy Glenn and the 21st pick) might leave him picking through the leftovers, the same way he did in free agency.

That’s where a call to an old friend might be in the offing.

Giants G.M. Dave Gettleman, Beane’s old boss in Carolina, is sitting in the second overall spot, and has given no indication he’s ready to move on from Eli Manning by using that pick on a quarterback. And with a number of issues of his own to address (he can’t be finished adding linemen), he might be enticed to move down — unless 12th is too far for him to fall.

But the Bills have six picks in the first three rounds (12th, 22nd, 53rd, 56th, 65th and 96th), the kind of bulk that can be packaged into something that might tempt him. Their good relation is a subplot, but if the Bills are going to get the quarterback they need, moving in front of their AFC East rivals might be what they have to do to get him.