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Restricted free agency draws to a close on Friday

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Getty Images

Restricted free agency is usually to excitement as the library is to partying and Mobile, Alabama is to unsweetened iced tea.

Nevertheless, the 2015 RFA signing period, which ends Friday, has had a couple bursts of action.

Most notably, the Bills signed away tight end Charles Clay from Miami, giving him a five-year, $38 million contract. The deal was technically an RFA signing, per NFL rules, after the Dolphins gave Clay the transition tag, thus securing the right to match an offer sheet. But in the end, Miami let him walk.

Later in the signing period, the Buccaneers struck a three-year, $9 million deal with Lions RFA defensive end George Johnson. Detroit disputed the terms of the deal, but the clubs agreed to swap 2015 draft picks to settle the matter, with the Lions getting a fifth-rounder and the Buccaneers getting Johnson and a seventh-rounder.

While the Buccaneers and Bills got the players they sought, the Raiders struck out in their bid for Packers RFA safety Sean Richardson, with Green Bay matching the one-year, $2.55 million offer from Oakland.

As of Friday, here were the 10 remaining restricted free agents who had yet to sign their tender offers or receive an offer sheet from another club, per NFL records. (An 11th RFA, Ravens safety Will Hill, reportedly re-signed on Thursday, but it wasn’t reflected in the NFL’s daily transactions.)

The compensation due to the player’s original club if an offer sheet is unmatched is in parentheses:

— Broncos cornerback Tony Carter (right of first refusal).

— Browns safety Tashaun Gipson (second round).

— Browns nose tackle Ishmaa’illy Kitchen (right of first refusal).

— Buccaneers tailback Bobby Rainey (right of first refusal).

— Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (second round).

— Eagles running back Chris Polk (right of first refusal).

— Jets nose tackle Damon Harrison (second round).

— Jets safety Jaiquawn Jarrett (third round).

— Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (second round).

— Steelers safety Robert Golden (right of first refusal).

In short, if there’s any more signing drama to occur in restricted free agency, it will center on one of these 10 players, and it will come on Friday.

No matter what happens, though, it’s been a fairly interesting RFA period nonetheless. There has been a little more chatter in the library this year.

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Steve Gleason documentary is coming

Gleason Getty Images

As Hollywood types go, the headline is that IMG has entered the original content space.  As football types go, the real headline is that a Steve Gleason documentary is coming.

Via the Hollywood Reporter, IMG will produce a full-length film titled The Gleason Project.

“Very few individuals are brave and tenacious enough to accomplish all that Steve has in their entire lifetime,” IMG executive Mark Shapiro (yes, the former ESPN and Six Flags executive Mark Shapiro) said in a statement.  “The fact that he has become a one-man catalyst for a global movement in just four years is absolutely incredible, and we are extremely proud to help bring The Gleason Project to audiences around the world.  Steve’s universal message of resilience and hope, told through the lens of a sports hero, is directly in line with our mission of supporting sports and entertainment content that has the ability to create meaningful change.”

“Part of my purpose is to inspire others to live life to its fullest, to overcome adversity, and to explore what is truly possible,” Gleason said in a statement.  “This film, and the story it tells, is the product of my purpose.”

Diagnosed with ALS in 2011, Gleason has fought a brave and public battle, pushing aggressively for technological advancement to improve the quality of life for ALS patients and, ultimately, searching for a cure.

Beloved by Saints fans, Gleason sparked the return of football in New Orleans after a season lost to Hurricane Katrina by blocking a punt against the Falcons to end the first drive of the first regular-season game back in the Superdome in September 2006.

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Mike Maccagnan on draft trades: Philosophically, I like the idea of adding picks

New York Jets Introduce General Manager Mike Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles Getty Images

The Jets are currently slated to pick sixth in the first round of the draft, but General Manager Mike Maccagnan said Friday that teams are about to start having serious talks about moves up and down the board.

Maccagnan said at a Friday press conference that he anticipates speaking to all five teams drafting ahead of the Jets in the coming days in order to gauge the trade market leading into the first round, but was careful to say that didn’t mean the Jets were necessarily looking to make a move into the top five. He also said that he expects to hear from teams below the Jets in the draft order and that his general preference is to have more tickets in the lottery.

“Philosophically, I like the idea of getting more picks, because more picks are more opportunities to find players,” Maccagnan said.

That doesn’t mean the Jets are trading down, of course. In addition to this being a period when teams are taking the temperature of the market, it’s also a period where finding the truth in public comments about the draft is akin to finding a needle in the biggest haystack in history. Thankfully we’re almost at the point where the obfuscation ends with 32 teams welcoming new players to their roster.

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PFT Live: Greg Jennings, Chance Warmack, Thomas Dimitroff

Greg Jennings AP

Wide receiver Greg Jennings landed a new job with the Dolphins this week and we’ll talk to him about it on Friday’s edition of PFT Live.

Jennings signed a two-year deal with Miami after visiting a few teams following his release from the Vikings and he’ll join Mike Florio to talk about the things that brought him to Florida. They’ll also discuss the role that he expects to play in the team’s offense as well as any other early impressions he has of his new team.

Titans guard Chance Warmack will also be on the program and we’ll find out what he thinks the team should do with the second overall pick in next week’s draft. Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff will stop by to fill us in on what he’s thinking about the draft as well.

We also want to hear from PFT Planet. Email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour of the show by clicking right here.

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Maurice Jones-Drew to retire with the Jaguars next week

Maurice Jones-Drew AP

Very few NFL players are able to finish a career with one team.

But the ones who hang on for a year too long and end up elsewhere often want to go back home.

That’s going to be the case for running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who is going to sign a one-day contract and retire as a member of the Jaguars next week, according to the Florida Times-Union.

Jones-Drew will hold a press conference next Tuesday along with his family at EverBank Field.

The steady running back played his first eight years with the Jaguars, going to three Pro Bowls and gaining 8,071 yards. But he left last year and signed with the Raiders and managed just 96 yards for the season, a coda which doesn’t do his career justice.

He announced his retirement earlier this offseason, and this will give him a chance to put a bow on it, and be remembered as his franchise’s all-time touchdown leader (81) and second all-time leading rusher, behind Fred Taylor.

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NFLPA plans lawsuit over Hardy suspension

Hardy AP

Immediately after news emerged of the Greg Hardy suspension emerged, PFT reported that Hardy will appeal the 10-game banishment.  The NFLPA has another plan in mind, too.

According to Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the union is considering filing a lawsuit on Hardy’s behalf.  Given the preliminary success of the lawsuit filed last year by Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after his suspension, it’s no surprise.

Peterson’s victory arose from the league’s effort to apply the new personal conduct policy to behavior that occurred before the rule changed.  In Hardy’s case, the NFL has tried to avoid that argument by claiming Hardy’s suspension arises under the prior policy and procedure.

Commissioner Roger Goodell could take plenty of steam out of a Hardy lawsuit by appointing a neutral arbitrator to handle the in-house appeal.  While he’s usually disinclined to surrender the power to designate a hearing officer, Goodell could be tempted to consider stepping aside, given the decision issued by a neutral arbitrator in the Ray Rice appeal last November.  Despite overturning Rice’s indefinite suspension because it amounted to a second punishment, Judge Barbara Jones concluded that an indefinite suspension would have been justified as an initial punishment under the league’s prior approach to domestic violence cases.

With the NFL carefully pointing out in Hardy’s case that the new standard for domestic violence cases isn’t being applied retroactively to Hardy (even if it is), there’s a chance an arbitrator will endorse the 10-game suspension as something that would have been imposed absent the seismic shift that occurred after the Rice video emerged the day after the first Sunday of the 2014 regular season.

As noted by Hill, the NFLPA also could argue that the league improperly divided one incident into four specific actions, with discipline imposed separately for the various portions of one overall violation.

Regardless of how and where and when it plays out, the NFLPA is confident that a string of legal victories in the bounty scandal, the Rice case, and the Peterson case will extend to Hardy.  Not that the NFL cares; as noted Thursday, the league seems to be much more concerned about avoiding the P.R. fallout of not going far enough than the courthouse consequences of going too far.

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Tony Romo: We’re going to win a Super Bowl next year

Tony Romo AP

Giants running back Rashad Jennings isn’t the only NFC East player talking Super Bowl in April.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was this year’s recipient of the Nancy Lieberman Lifetime Achievement Award given by the basketball Hall of Famer’s foundation and accepted the award at an event in Dallas last week. Romo’s speech was mostly about giving the same kind of help he’s received over the years to the kids supported by the foundation’s work, but he closed with a prediction that he’d be winning another prize early in 2016.

“This award is very meaningful to me, mostly because I get to be associated with this and to be associated with Nancy,” Romo said, via the Dallas Morning News. “It’s incredible and I really appreciate you, and we’re going to win a Super Bowl next year. Thank you.”

Predictions about the Super Bowl at this point are worth about as much as stock in a VCR manufacturer, but Romo and the Cowboys have plenty of reasons to feel good about themselves coming off of a 12-win season. Their passing game remains potent and they’re likely to add another back in the draft to run behind an offensive line that might be the best in football, which should lead to points on the scoreboard.

If the draft can also turn up some defensive contributors, this year’s unit should look better equipped than the group that outperformed expectations in 2014. Saying that all adds up to Dallas’ sixth Super Bowl title is a stretch at this point, but it’s hard to blame Romo for feeling good about his chances.

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Rashad Jennings: “No question” Giants are Super Bowl contenders

Rashad Jennings AP

The Giants spent the offseason getting healthy and making themselves more stable.

But the additions to the roster aren’t the kind to make you think they’re immediately a championship contender again.

But don’t tell running back Rashad Jennings, who thinks they’re ready to make a run at a Super Bowl.

No question,” Jenning’s told Bob Glauber of Newsday. “We’ve got the skill set to do that. We showed flashes last year, but they were obviously being overshadowed by what we didn’t do so well. We eliminate self-inflicted wounds, the before-the-snap [and] after-the-snap errors, this is a different team.”

Being in the second year of coordinator Ben McAdoo’s offense should iron out some of the kinks, but the biggest benefit might simply be getting well. From wide receiver Victor Cruz and guard Geoff Schwartz, to the career-ending neck problem of David Wilson, last year was defined by injuries for the Giants.

With those guys back and a free agency period which bolstered the middle-third of their roster, the Giants will have a different look.

“You look around the locker room, we’ve got great players,” Jennings said. “Everybody’s coming back healthy, flying around, going into Year Two of the same system. That makes a tremendous difference. McAdoo explained it to us. Last year, we installed a system. This year, we get to run our offense.

“There’s a difference. Different attitude, different command in the huddle, different understanding of what’s going on. It’s not about lining up in the right place now. It’s about making plays. That’s what we expect. We’ve got explosive players. Great offensive linemen, we got the capability at every single position to make sure we’re in this playoff push.”

And maybe then some. If you believe Jennings.

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Larry Foote “50-50″ on playing in 2015

Arizona Cardinals v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

Earlier this offseason, the Cardinals released linebacker Larry Foote from their roster so that he could rejoin the team as a member of their coaching staff.

The door was left open for a potential return to the field and it hasn’t closed in the last two months. Foote said Thursday that he’s been getting used to life as a coach, including telling players not to point out his mistakes when they’re watching film of last season, but that he still considered the chances of playing another season remain “50-50″ at this point in the offseason.

“Draft, what happens with Daryl Washington, stuff like that, how my knee feels [after offseason surgery],” Foote said, via the team’s website. “I’ll sit down with [head coach Bruce Arians] and the next couple of months are really going to be the deciding factor.”

Washington is expected to apply for reinstatement from the suspension that sidelined him all of last season, but is likely to face further league discipline after a guilty plea on assault charges last year. The Cardinals have already signed Sean Weatherspoon to go with Kevin Minter, though, and another addition in the draft might leave them with enough depth for Foote to remain on the sideline all year.

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Gurley hype hitting overdrive

Gurley AP

Last weekend, the surgically-repaired knee of former Georgia running back Todd Gurley finally was examined by doctors in Indianapolis, as part of the Scouting Combine’s medical re-check.  The knee reportedly checked out fine.

And then instantly rumors and reports emerged of Gurley shooting into the top 10 of the draft.

While he could indeed be one of the best 10 players available this year, the ACL injury entails real risk for whoever takes him.  Gurley won’t know whether he can be the guy was before the injury until he’s back on the football field, going full speed against a defense, starting and stopping and cutting and hitting top gear.  Any team that scribbles his name on a card will be taking the chance that Gurley ultimately won’t be the same guy.

Then there’s the fairly recent trend against using high picks on running backs, fueled by the revolving-door approach used by most teams at the running back position.  Apart from the fact that relatively equivalent players can be found in later rounds is the reality that the investment of a top-10 pick on a running back can be justified only by making him into a workhorse.  How many teams in the NFL are currently willing to do that?

Then there’s the reality that, over the last decade, only one tailback taken in the top 10 has provided full return on the investment:  Adrian Peterson in 2007.  None of the seven others — Trent Richardson (No. 3) in 2012, C.J. Spiller (No. 9) in 2010, Darren McFadden (No. 4) in 2008, Reggie Bush (No. 2) in 2006, and Ronnie Brown (No. 2), Cedric Benson (No. 4), and Cadillac Williams (No. 5) in 2005 — ever performed consistently at the level their draft position suggested they would.

So unless Gurley is going to be another Adrian Peterson (the man who ruined the ACL rehab process for pretty much everyone who ever tears an ACL), Gurley shouldn’t be taken in the top 10.  And he definitely shouldn’t be taken in the top 10 by a team that isn’t prepared to test that new knee ligament by giving him the ball 25-30 times per game.

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Friday morning one-liners

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

Should the Bills draft a quarterback?

Assessing the pros and cons of the Dolphins making a trade in the first round.

Said Patriots DE Chandler Jones of seeing former teammates at the White House, “Seeing those guys again, seeing Darrelle Revis, seeing Stevan Ridley, seeing Shane Vereen, that was great to see those guys again. We took a few pictures, and it was a great moment to remember.”

A look at the Jets’ draft needs on the offensive line.

The Ravens will be celebrating 20 years in Baltimore in 2015.

Making sense of the Bengals’ decision to extend coach Marvin Lewis’s contract.

CB Joe Haden is emerging as a leader for the Browns.

Bob Labriola of the Steelers website thinks WR Antonio Brown missing workouts is a non-story.

Texans WR Cecil Shorts is trying to make the most of practice reps with his new teammates.

Veterans coming off of injury will impact the Colts’ draft decisions.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew will formally retire as a member of the Jaguars next week.

A positive take on the Titans’ decision to exercise WR Kendall Wright’s fifth-year option.

The uniform Broncos QB Peyton Manning wore while throwing his 509th touchdown pass now resides at the University of Tennessee.

Chiefs tickets are going on sale on Friday.

DE Justin Tuck called the team’s new coaching staff “intense” as their three-day minicamp wrapped up.

How much of what Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco says about the draft can be trusted?

Will Greg Hardy’s suspension alter the Cowboys’ draft board?

Giants WR Odell Beckham said it was “surreal” to meet soccer icon David Beckham.

A look at the Eagles’ need at outside linebacker.

The Redskins have drafted 20 members of their current roster.

A wide receiver could be on tap for the Bears in the first round.

Are the Lions moving toward more of a running offense?

The Packers could add a developmental quarterback late in the draft.

Herschel Walker may have called on his own history to suggest the Vikings should trade Adrian Peterson.

Should the Falcons keep Georgia RB Todd Gurley close to his college stomping grounds?

Panthers LB Thomas Davis will announce the team’s first-round pick.

The Saints will square off with some familiar faces in 2015.

Linebacker doesn’t look like a pressing draft need for the Buccaneers.

Cardinals WR John Brown is working on his conditioning after running out of gas as last year progressed.

The Rams Offense is missing the stability enjoyed by the team’s defense.

G Brandon Thomas hopes to land a spot on the 49ers offensive line after a redshirt rookie year.

A snapshot of the Seahawks offensive line heading into the draft.

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Tottenham hopes to share London stadium with NFL team

Tottenham Getty Images

With all the talk about the inevitable relocation of one or two NFL teams to Los Angeles, it’s easy to forget that the NFL still intends (or so it periodically says) to uproot another franchise and re-plant it in London.

Some think it’s idle chatter aimed at getting fans in England feeling more warm and fuzzy about the growing slate of games played at Wembley Stadium every year.  Others believe it’s a very real possibility — including a soccer club that doesn’t play at Wembley Stadium.

Per the London Times (via SportsBusiness Daily), Tottenham hopes to share a new venue with the NFL.  The structure would have an artificial field on which the NFL team would play, with a grass field that slides in and out for use by the soccer club.

The stadium also would have larger locker rooms and other features making it more conducive to hosting football games.

Even if a team doesn’t move to London, the NFL seems intent on expanding the annual slate of neutral-site contests, which at some point could match the eight games that one team would play at home in London, without the scheduling quirks that putting one team there would entail, such as two- and three-game home stands, two- and three-week road trips, and playoff games staged in England.  Those games could be moved from Wembley to the Tottenham stadium that would be built in north London.

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Jets brought Marcus Mariota in for a pre-draft visit

SUBWAY Introduces Marcus Mariota as New Famous Fan AP

Barring a surprising move in the next six days, the sixth-picking Jets won’t have much of a shot at either of the top two quarterbacks in the 2015 NFL Draft.

But they’re doing their research, just in case.

Via Brian Costello of the New York Post, the Jets had Oregon’s Marcus Mariota in for a pre-draft visit on April 2, shortly after they sent a large contingent to his pro day workout.

The Jets bought themselves some Geno Smith insurance this offseason by signing veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is familiar enough with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey from previous stints together that he could reasonably handle things.

But they’re still the Jets, and having gone so long without a quarterback to hang their headband on (other than the brief-but-glorious Mark Sanchez era), it’s hard to imagine them not itching to do something there.

And despite the attached photo of the Mariota sandwich which will haunt your dreams forever (I can’t unsee it, so I figured I’d share with you, gentle readers), the Jets have been having visions of a quarterback of his caliber for some time.

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Justin Pugh wants Giants to draft guy who could replace him at tackle

New York Giants v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

One of the players that has been linked with the Giants during the pre-draft process is Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, who is expected to be the first blocker to come off the board when the first round gets underway next Thursday.

Part of the reason that Scherff makes sense is that Justin Pugh, who was drafted in the first round two years ago, has failed to impress at right tackle. Scherff could take over that spot and kick Pugh inside to guard, something that isn’t worrying Pugh. He said Thursday that he hopes the Giants draft Scherff and that he’d happily move inside if that’s what the team wants him to do.

“Not at all,” Pugh said, via ESPN.com. “I think, if you look at every single Giant offensive lineman that’s been here when we’ve won Super Bowls — the David Diehls of this world, who moved from guard to tackle to left tackle, won a Super Bowl playing left tackle, no one thought he could do that. If you don’t have that mentality in that offensive line room, you’re not going to be successful. You have to have that versatility.”

The Diehl example is actually the opposite of what Pugh would be doing as the fifth-round pick’s play moved him into a more prominent position on the line before then going back down the ladder later in his career, not that those facts make Pugh’s attitude about things any less helpful to the Giants. If they draft Scherff, they would be able to have flexibility about how they deploy their offensive line while improving their chances of improving last year’s woeful run blocking.

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Bill Belichick uses White House trip to make larger points

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It’s easy to view Patriots coach Bill Belichick as a football automaton, a man so focused on his job that saying “We’re on to Cincinnati” isn’t a tactic, it’s a way of life.

But in a pair of acts yesterday, Belichick established himself as a man with an emotional side as well.

Via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Belichick made his own subtle personal statement yesterday, wearing an Armenian flag pin on his label.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, when 1.5 million of their people were killed by the Ottoman Turks during World War I.

Belichick has a number of Armenian friends, and the pin was described as a personal statement rather than political.

He also took a busload of players to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before their visit to the White House. The team began doing that after winning Super Bowl XXXVI.

“The first year we did this, we went over to Walter Reed and started a tradition that we’ve continued and we had a chance to do it this year,” owner Robert Kraft said. “We’ve realized what a great country this is and how thankful we are to be here. We celebrate sports today, but we also celebrate what’s great about America, being at that hospital and seeing those men.”

Belichick has made similar trips before, taking his team to Naval Medical Center in San Diego in December to see wounded veterans.

So as good as they are at football, it’s a solid reminder for all of them and all of us that there are actual heroes out there as well.

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