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NFL seems set with current overtime format

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NFL owners voted down a proposal to change overtime this week, and from all indications the league does not want to tinker with the overtime format.

This week’s proposal, which would have guaranteed each team a possession, was the latest idea to change overtime that got to the discussion phase but didn’t have enough support to come to fruition. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said before the league meeting that he sees no reason to change overtime, and most owners seem to agree with him.

Still, the overtime format will continue to be debated. Some want every team to be guaranteed a possession, so that the team receiving the opening kickoff can’t march down the field and win without the team that kicks off ever getting the ball. Others want to adopt the college football format of alternating possessions. Still others want more radical changes, like doing away with field goals in overtime so that only a touchdown (or safety) can win the game. Or replacing the coin toss with an “auction” format so the two teams can “bid” on which yard line overtime will start from.

At the moment, that’s all talk. PFT Planet, let us know if you’d rather see the NFL take some action to change overtime.

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Steelers bring back Darrius Heyward-Bey for another year

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Darrius Heyward-Bey finally has a new niche.

But for a former seventh overall pick, it’s not the one you’d think.

The Steelers announced they signed Heyward-Bey to another one-year contract, keeping him around.

After he failed to convert his raw speed into consistent production with the Raiders, he settled in with the Steelers as a special teamer last year, catching just three passes.

“I wanted to come back here,” he said, in a statement from the team. “They have been honest with me from Day 1. In this business of the NFL, for them to be very honest with me, what they expect from me and me telling them what I expect. It’s an honest partnership.”

When he came to the Steelers, they had Antonio Brown and Marcus Wheaton, and brought in rookie Martavis Bryant and Lance Moore. But he became a regular on special teams, and with his speed, was a natural fit.

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Chip Kelly says he tried to trade for Bradford without losing Foles

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Rams coach Jeff Fisher has said that his team only agreed to trade Sam Bradford because Nick Foles was the player the Eagles’ offered, and that the Rams thought Foles could be their franchise quarterback. That meshes with what Chip Kelly revealed at this week’s league meeting: He tried to get the Rams to trade Bradford for draft picks, and agreed to give up Foles only when Foles was what the Rams demanded.

“It went on for a couple weeks,” Kelly said, via the News Journal. “We were trying to keep Nick if we could. It was just at the last second, they wanted players. We were trying to get it done with draft picks, but it didn’t work out that way.”

Presumably, if the Rams had agreed to give up Bradford for draft picks, the Eagles would have kept Foles and let Mark Sanchez walk in free agency. Instead, the Eagles re-signed Sanchez and will have him compete with Bradford for the starting quarterback job.

Despite speculation that Bradford could be turned into a bargaining chip for a trade up in the draft to select Marcus Mariota, everything Kelly says indicates that he thinks highly of Bradford and believes Bradford can run his offense effectively. Bradford is a player Kelly wanted badly — so badly that he gave up Foles and draft picks to acquire him.

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Everybody wants somebody else to give Ray Rice a chance

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Two things seem apparent in regards to former Ravens running back Ray Rice.

Plenty of people want to see him get a second chance in theory.

No one, however, seems interested in putting that theory into practice.

A number of coaches at the league meetings mentioned that they think Rice could or should get another opportunity after being cut by the Ravens following his brutal domestic assault of his now-wife.

But it’s almost April, and 16 running backs have been signed in free agency, and Rice hasn’t even had a reported visit.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell has a need at the position after cutting Reggie Bush, and expressed hope for another opportunity for Rice. But when asked if he would be interested, Caldwell backed away.

I don’t foresee that, to be plain and simple,” Caldwell said, via Jamison Hensley of “There has to be a need and a fit in all areas. At this point in time, he’s not a fit for us.”

Like Caldwell, Colts coach Chuck Pagano has first-hand knowledge of Rice, but his team just signed Frank Gore.

“I hope and pray that Ray gets an opportunity, because I know there’s still gas left in the tank, so to speak,” Pagano said. “And if somebody gives him that opportunity, I know he’ll make them proud, and I know he’ll make good on that opportunity.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was more careful in his words, saying he hoped for the best for the entire family, stopping short of a full blown endorsement.

“Like anybody you’ve been close to, you want things to work out well for the,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the way we feel about Janay and Ray.”

At the moment, it doesn’t appear that’s going to be playing in the NFL.

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With so much tampering, NFL will struggle to police it all

Roger Goodell AP

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the obvious on Wednesday when he said at the league meeting that multiple teams had dealings before the start of free agency that may have violated the letter of the law.

“We want to make sure no teams are gaining an advantage as it relates to free agency and the opportunity to get free agents,” Goodell said. “There are several teams and several issues that we’re looking at.”

The most-discussed case has been the Jets’ signing of Darrelle Revis after owner Woody Johnson publicly talked about Revis while he was still under contract to the Patriots. But some of the biggest deals signed in free agency — including Ndamukong Suh to Miami and Julius Thomas to Jacksonville — were widely believed to be done deals even before it was legal for NFL teams to get deals done with free agents from other teams.

And that points to why it’s going to be so difficult for the NFL to police tampering: It has become widely acknowledged around the league that it’s commonplace, and although “everyone else is doing it too” might not be an air-tight legal defense, it does raise the question of whether it’s really fair for the NFL to punish some teams for doing things that other teams were surely doing as well.

Maybe Goodell will decide to send a message, make an example of one team, and impose harsh discipline for tampering. Or maybe Goodell will decide that in the grand scheme of things, tampering really isn’t that big a problem, and the league would be better off letting it go.

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Jim Tomsula: Reggie Bush is an every-down running back

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San Francisco coach Jim Tomsula says the 49ers think their new running back, Reggie Bush, can carry the load as the featured back in their offense.

“Reggie can be an every down back. He’s done that in the NFL,” Tomsula said. “He’s a running back. He’s not a gadget guy in my opinion. I think Reggie Bush is a running back. I’m really excited about Reggie joining the crew.”

It’s unclear at the moment whether Bush, Carlos Hyde or Kendall Hunter will be the primary running back in the 49ers’ offense, but Tomsula said the 49ers have plans for all three of them.

“Right now we’ve got three guys in the backfield that we feel great about, they’re all just a little different from each other,” Tomsula said. “So as we get rolling here and we throw that ball out on the field, let’s take a look at what each guy does and build off that.”

It seems highly unlikely that the 30-year-old Bush, who had just 76 carries for 297 yards in Detroit last year, will get anything close to the workload that Frank Gore got in San Francisco last year, when he had 255 carries for 1,106 yards. But the 49ers think Bush can play a significant role in 2015.

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Charles Haley endorses Greg Hardy move because of course he does

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The Cowboys needed pass-rush help to get themselves to the next level, so they ignored the red flags, and took a chance to acquire one of the most productive players in the league.

And Charles Haley helped them win three Super Bowls in four years. Oh wait, you thought we were talking about Greg Hardy again?

Actually, the two players present many of the same considerations for the Cowboys, and like when they traded for Haley in 1992, they took a chance on talent trumping trouble.

“Bags?” Haley told Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. “I had suitcases. Full suitcases.”

So does Hardy, who missed last year because of domestic violence charges (which were dropped after he reached a civil settlement), but had 15.0 sacks the year before.

Haley said he plans to reach out to Hardy, after missing him when he was in town on his free agent visit last week. And as you might expect, Haley endorsed the move.

Everybody deserves a second chance,” Haley said. “He wants to show everybody what he has and what he can do. He wants to be judged by what he does on the field. But the only way you can be judged by the things you do on the field is you can’t be doing dumb [expletive] off the field.

“That’s what I tell all these guys. If you want to make money and be successful, you need to dedicate yourself on the field and avoid those situations off the field. Everyone has a phone or a camera that can record or take pictures of whatever you do. You always have to act like you’re in a little fish bowl with everyone looking at you. And you must act accordingly. . . .

“He’s going to be fine. I can’t wait to meet him and I can’t wait to see him play. I hope and pray the Cowboys make the next step in this journey for a Super Bowl. Sometimes bad boys have to come in here and kick some tail.”

Of course, Haley took action to deal with his problems, including anger management counseling, which he admits might have helped him avoid some of the problems he had with the 49ers.

Hardy’s going to have to prove he’s willing to make amends as well, since it appears the NFL is looking to lay the hammer down in terms of a suspension.

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Victor Cruz making progress, but no promises about opener

Victor Cruz AP

Even though Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is making progress in his recovery from last year’s torn patellar tendon, his timeline for a return is uncertain.

Via Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, Giants coach Tom Coughlin expressed some cautious optimism about Cruz, saying he started running at the team facility last week.

“I think he’ll be the player that he was, and hopefully better,” Coughlin said. “But as far as when, I would be careful. Hopefully, it’s the first [regular-season] game. But if it isn’t, we’ve done that before. We just went through it.”

While Odell Beckham’s persistent hamstring problems last year caused him to miss the first four games, this is a different rehab.

So even though Coughlin said Cruz might work from the start of training camp, they’re clearly going to play it cautious with his schedule.

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Jim Caldwell claims Matthew Stafford is “improving steadily”

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A common refrain from those who watch the Lions is that if they’re going to improve in 2015, Matthew Stafford needs to improve. Coach Jim Caldwell doesn’t see it that way.

“Someone said something about, ‘Hey, well Coach, you really need your quarterback to take off,'” Caldwell said, via the Detroit Free Press. “And I looked at him and I said, ‘No, we don’t really need him to really take off.’ He’s been doing well. He’s improving steadily. Things in this league don’t happen that way. No one makes a meteoric jump. It’s gradual, it’s too competitive. There are too many good players. And it’s a tough league, and I do think he’s making really good progress.”

If Stafford is improving steadily, it sure isn’t showing up in his statistics. Stafford has been a full-time starter for the last four seasons, after injuries limited him to just 13 games in his first two seasons. During those four seasons, Stafford’s passing yardage has gone from 5,038 to 4,967 to 4,650 to 4,257. Does that sound like he’s improving steadily? His completion percentage has gone from 63.5 to 59.8 to 58.5 to 60.3. Does that sound like he’s improving steadily? His yards per pass has gone from 7.6 to 6.8 to 7.3 to 7.1. Does that sound like he’s improving steadily? His touchdowns have gone from 41 to 20 to 29 to 22. Does that sound like he’s improving steadily? His sacks have gone from 36 to 29 to 23 to 45. Does that sound like he’s improving steadily? His interceptions have gone from 16 to 17 to 19 to 12. Does that sound like he’s improving steadily? His fumbles have gone from 5 to 6 to 12 to 8. Does that sound like he’s improving steadily? His passer rating has gone from 97.2 to 79.8 to 84.2 to 85.7. Does that sound like he’s improving steadily?

Overall, Stafford’s stats have been all over the map, up and down, and after a breakout season in 2011 he has yet to play as well since. And that’s despite the fact that no team has devoted more resources to giving its quarterback weapons than the Lions: Detroit is spending more than $28 million on the wide receiver position this season, by far the most in the NFL, and the Lions are also in the Top 10 in spending on tight ends.

Throw in the fact that Stafford’s own cap hit of $17.7 million is the sixth-highest of any quarterback in the NFL this year, and it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the Lions need Stafford to do more than just “improve steadily.”

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Ron Rivera not worried about contract distraction for Cam Newton

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The Panthers aren’t saying much about their timeline for trying to reach a deal with quarterback Cam Newton.

But they’re not worried about his mindset if a deal doesn’t get done this offseason.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he was confident Newton would be focused this season, regardless the status of contract talks.

I think our quarterback is a smart, savvy young man, understands the dynamics of the game,” Rivera said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “I think he’s the kind of guy who’s able to focus on certain aspects of the game and put things aside. Obviously, that’s a work in progress right now.”

Rivera still hopes they can reach a long-term deal with Newton before the start of the season. He’s currently working under the $14.7 million fifth-year option from his rookie deal.

“Personally, yes I would,” Rivera said, when asked if he’d prefer getting a deal done before the season. “But they have a timetable, both sides do I imagine. Both sides have a plan and hopefully we can all get everything worked out together.”

The Colts have already said they weren’t planning on doing a new deal for Andrew Luck this offseason, which means Newton and Russell Wilson could be playing chicken to see which quarterback blinks first.

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Thursday morning one-liners

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Looking back at the year the Bills have had since the death of former owner Ralph Wilson.

Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill is entering a critical season in many respects.

Everything the Patriots have done this offseason has been scrutinized heavily.

The Jets helped a high school student land a prom date.

The Ravens are confident they have replacements for their key defensive losses.

The good news continue to roll in for Bengals DT Devon Still.

The Browns need to find some pass-rush help in the draft.

A planned Kraft-Heinz merger won’t change the name of the Steelers’ home field.

Former Texans QB Case Keenum impressed the Rams with his late-season work.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano knows he’s responsible for getting their defense fixed.

The Jaguars’ draft hats featured a city not Jacksonville’s skyline.

The Titans nearly landed LB James Harrison before he returned to Pittsburgh.

Broncos boss John Elway wants to make sure they get a long-term deal for WR Demaryius Thomas.

The Chiefs were the beneficiaries of the Saints’ cap issues.

Bears coach John Fox thinks the Raiders got it right hiring Jack Del Rio.

The Chargers know they need help at the RB position.

The Cowboys are looking at the top RBs in this year’s draft class.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin was having some problems with Siri.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly acknowledged they have three key holes to fill.

Washington’s going to look at internal options to fill their current vacancies.

The Bears are going to take a look at Shea McClellin at ILB.

The Lions are sticking with the 4-3 as their base defense.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy wants to bring back DT Letroy Guion.

The Vikings are close to a deal with CB Terence Newman.

The Falcons denied they had anything to do with the rumors DE Michael Bennett wanted to come there.

The Panthers think this could be the year WR Stephen Hill helps (cut, paste, repeat).

The son of former Saints WR Brett Perriman opened some eyes with blazing 40 times yesterday.

The Bucs are seeing if anyone wants QB Mike Glennon.

Former Cardinals S Pat Tillman is still their most popular throwback jersey.

The league is pleased with stadium plans in St. Louis.

The 49ers are putting in air conditioning, sort of.

Trying to make sense of the contract rumors for Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.

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Saints working on extension for Cameron Jordan

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Most of the Saints’ player movement this offseason has been outgoing, as they tried to get themselves into position to fix their defense.

But they do want to keep one of their key defensive players.

According to Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints have been in discussions to extend defensive end Cameron Jordan’s contract.

The Saints picked up his fifth-year option worth nearly $7 million, but would like to get him locked up long-term.

Jordan struggled a bit last year, with just 7.5 sacks after 12.5 the season before, when he made the Pro Bowl.

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Chargers seem destined to leave San Diego

Chargers Getty Images

Apart from the bright-line rules that were (and weren’t) adopted at the now-concluded annual league meetings, one thing became clear via the chatter among those in attendance:  The Chargers are determined to leave San Diego for Los Angeles.

They haven’t said so publicly, and they likely won’t for months to come.  But enough is being said privately to lead to the inescapable conclusion that the Chargers are destined to escape from the city they’ve called home since 1961.

With public money no longer a viable option in California (or pretty much anywhere) to construct an NFL stadium, the money necessary to build a new building in San Diego won’t be offset by the kind of revenue that justifies the investment.  Instead, it now seems to be far more likely than not that the Chargers will partner with the Raiders in Carson, or that the Chargers will become the second team in the Inglewood stadium that will house the Rams.

It means that the Rams or Raiders will be shut out of the market.  The most common theory making the rounds in Arizona this week had the Rams joining the Chargers and the Raiders possibly filling the void in St. Louis created by the departure of the Rams.

Regardless, 20 years of talk about a team moving to L.A. will soon be ending.  In 2016, it now seems inevitable that the Chargers and another NFL team will be back in Los Angeles.

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Revis says Patriots simply had to pick up his option

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Amid allegations and counterallegations of tampering between his former team and his current/former team, cornerback Darrelle Revis has broken his silence with a mini media tour in his new/old home market of New York City.

Appearing on SNY’s Loudmouths, Revis made the matter-of-fact observation that, if the Patriots had wanted to keep him, the Patriots could have done so easily — by picking up his option for 2015 at $20 million guaranteed.

He’s right, technically.  But Revis failed to point out that he wouldn’t have been happy with that outcome, because the contract he negotiated with the Patriots in 2014 was intended by both sides to be a one-year deal, with a second season added only for salary-cap purposes.  Sure, he would have sucked it up and accepted New England’s $20 million for a second season with the Patriots, but it was well known before the Patriots didn’t pick up the option that Revis didn’t want them to do it.

Other teams that wanted Revis, according to Revis, included the Browns, Packers, Steelers, Chiefs, and Ravens.  Ultimately, it came down to the Jets and the Patriots.  In the end, it wasn’t close, particularly on the issue of fully-guaranteed money.

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Jay Gruden: RG3 has the starting job “right now”

Jay Gruden AP

Jay Gruden says Robert Griffin III is currently the starting quarterback in Washington. But he’s not making any promises about Griffin remaining the starting quarterback when the season starts.

At the league meeting, Gruden said only that Griffin is the starter today, not that he’d still be the starter when the season starts.

He’s got the starting job right now,” Gruden said of Griffin, via “Hopefully he takes it and runs with it.”

In other words, Griffin is going to take the first snap with the first-string offense on the first day of offseason practice, and Gruden wants to see Griffin play like the franchise quarterback Washington throught it was getting when it drafted him. But Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins have the opportunity to take the job if they look better than Griffin does.

Washington hasn’t decided yet whether to pick up the fifth-year option on Griffin’s rookie contract, so the team isn’t totally sold on Griffin as its quarterback of the future. All the team will say now is that Griffin is the quarterback right now.

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