Texans claim Sammie Coates off waivers

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The Texans claimed receiver Sammie Coates off waivers from the Browns, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports.

Coates, 24, has played 33 games with six starts since entering the league as a third-round pick of the Steelers in 2015. Pittsburgh traded him to the Browns on September 2.

Coates made only six catches for 70 yards in 12 games with the Browns.

Cleveland is loaded at the position after acquiring Jarvis Landry in a trade with the Dolphins, leading the Browns to waive Coates on Thursday.

Vikings work out revised deal with Latavius Murray

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The Vikings have tied up plenty of cash and cap space this week on a new quarterback and a new defensive tackle. Along the way, they freed up cap space via one of the free-agent contracts signed a year ago.

Via Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com, the Vikings restructured the contract of running back Latavius Murray. Although the report lacks specifics as to how the contract was tweaked, it’s likely given the structure of Murray’s deal that the Vikings didn’t simply move money around but persuaded him to take less cash this season.

Murray’s three-year deal originally had a $5.15 million salary and a $6.35 million cap number. With the salary due to become fully guaranteed on Friday, the Vikings needed to get something done — or cut Murray loose — by today.

New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo used multiple tailbacks in Philadelphia, so Murray may end up being something more than simply a change-of-pace option behind Dalvin Cook. Either way, Murray’s stay in Minnesota won’t end at one year.

Whatever the pay cut he took, it’s safe to say that whatever the Vikings offered was as good or better than what he would have earned somewhere else.

UPDATE 4:48 p.m. ET: Murray has agreed to reduce his salary. In return, the third year of his contract has been voided.

Bashaud Breeland needs skin graft to repair cut on foot

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Cornerback Bashaud Breeland‘s deal with the Panthers fell through on Friday when Breeland failed a physical with the team for a non-football injury.

The injury took place earlier this month while Breeland was in the Dominican Republic. Breeland told David Newton of ESPN.com that he cut the back left foot on his trip and will need to have skin grafted to repair it, which was also the case when he suffered the same injury in the fourth grade. Breeland did not initially believe the injury to be serious as he can still walk on it because the previous one has never impacted him before.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Breeland is believed to be months away from being able to pass a physical.

The deal he agreed to with the Panthers was for three years and $24 million. He’ll likely be signing a very different deal once he reaches that point.

Paxton Lynch is the No. 2, but Broncos continue to scout QB prospects

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Broncos head coach Vance Joseph proclaimed Paxton Lynch the backup to Case Keenum, but the team continues to look at the top quarterback prospects in the draft.

General Manager John Elway was among the team personnel to attend Pro Days for Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen the past two days. Elway won’t attend Josh Allen‘s Pro Day at Wyoming, but team scouts will, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports, and the Broncos have a private workout scheduled with Sam Darnold.

With Keenum in the fold, the Broncos aren’t forced to take a quarterback. But the option is there if they like one of the top prospects.

“We have a lot of opportunities at No. 5 now,” Elway said, via quotes distributed by the team. “We’re in good spots there. We’re high in a lot of rounds, so it’s going to be important to find guys who are going to help our football team.”

The Broncos used the 26th overall choice in 2016 on Lynch, but he has only four starts. He is 1-3 with four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Joseph said he has talked to Lynch since the acquisition of Keenum, and Elway said the Broncos haven’t given up on the 24-year-old quarterback.

“Paxton is still young,” Elway said. “We still have high hopes for Paxton. He’s a young guy that is talented. He’s been here for two years and had a tough year last year with the injuries and everything, but we still have high hopes for Paxton to come in here and compete and continue to grow as a quarterback. That is the expectation for Paxton.”

Sheldon Richardson to Vikings on a one-year deal

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The Vikings just made another big purchase.

This time, literally.

The Vikings have announced that they have agreed to a one-year deal with former Jets and Seahawks defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson.

The one-year deal’s an interesting one, as Richardson may not have found the kind of long-term love he was seeking. But with a short-term deal with what is expected to be a talented team, he’s in good position to cash in a year from now.

Matt Tobin visiting Patriots

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Offensive lineman Matt Tobin is in New England today visiting with the Patriots, Field Yates of ESPN reports.

Tobin, 27, spent four seasons in Philadelphia after signing as an undrafted free agent. He spent last season in Seattle after the Eagles traded him.

Tobin has played 57 games with 21 starts. He played 15 games last season.

The Patriots, who have lost several players in free agency, have had several players scheduled to visit the past couple of days. Jeremy Hill, Adrian Clayborn and Delvin Breaux all had trips scheduled to New England.

Chiefs sign Chad Henne

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Patrick Mahomes has his veteran backup.

Longtime backup quarterback Chad Henne has signed with the Chiefs, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports.

Mahomes, last year’s first-round draft pick, is the unquestioned starter in Kansas City. But they need someone to back him up, and until Henne signed Mahomes was the only quarterback on the roster. The Chiefs will presumably add another quarterback or two before training camp, but Mahomes and Henne should be 1-2 on the depth chart.

The 32-year-old Henne is heading into his 11th NFL season. He spent the last three seasons in Jacksonville but threw only two passes, so it’s anyone’s guess whether he still has anything left. But the Chiefs wanted a veteran to share the quarterback room with Mahomes, and now they have that veteran.

Giants restructure Alec Ogletree’s contract

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The Giants have restructured linebacker Alec Ogletree‘s contract, prorating the $7 million roster bonus he was due today, Dan Duggan of The Athletic reports.

The move reduces Ogletree’s cap hit from $10 million to $4.75 million for 2018, Jordan Raanan of ESPN added.

The Giants gave up a fourth-round and a sixth-round pick to the Rams to get Ogletree, who played in 15 games last season and made 95 tackles, two sacks and an interception.

Ogletree signed a five-year, $42.29 million deal with the Rams in October.

Eagles release Vinny Curry

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The Eagles weren’t able to hustle up a trade for Vinny Curry, or come to an agreement on a contract, so he’s now free.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Eagles released the veteran pass-rusher.

He was surplus to requirements after they acquired Michael Bennett, but they were hoping to either get him to take a pay cut or find a new home for him.

He was scheduled to make $9 million this year, which was too much for a a guy who had 2.5 sacks last year. But the fact Curry was playing through a knee problem last year and the thin market for pass-rushers means he’ll likely draw interest from others.

Giants add cornerback Curtis Riley

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The Giants continued a brisk pace, adding a cornerback to their early haul.

The team announced the signing of Titans cornerback Curtis Riley.

He played in 11 games the last two seasons in Tennessee, and picked off Blake Bortles in a win over Jacksonville last season. He wasn’t tendered by the Titans.

He played for DeShea Townsend the last two seasons, and Townsend was hired as New York’s assistant defensive backs coach this offseason.

Jaguars re-sign Lerentee McCray

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The Jaguars will bring back one of their core special teams players from last season.

Linebacker Lerentee McCray‘s agent announced that McCray has agreed to a new deal with Jacksonville. It’s a one-year deal with an option for 2019.

McCray joined the Jaguars as a free agent last March after spending the 2016 season with the Bills. He had 12 tackles for the year while playing on 267 special teams snaps and 21 defensive plays. He made the most of those defensive snaps as he recorded 1.5 sacks.

The Jaguars have also signed defensive backs Don Carey and Cody Davis in moves that will likely also help stock their special teams units in 2018.

Bashaud Breeland failed physical, will not sign with Panthers

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Free agent cornerback Bashaud Breeland agreed to terms on a contract with the Panthers before free agency officially opened. But he won’t be a Panther after all.

The Panthers announced today that Breeland failed his physical and will not sign with the team.

There’s no word on the reason for the failed physical. Breeland played for Washington in Week 17 last season and had not been reported to have any issues that would prevent him from signing, but his failed physical was reportedly for a non-football injury.

It’s the second time this offseason that a player from Washington failed a physical with a new team, following Ryan Grant‘s failed physical with the Ravens.

The 26-year-old Breeland now goes back into free agency and will hope to sign with a team that will give him medical clearance.

Vontaze Burfict’s defense likely doesn’t hold water

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Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who previously has been suspended for pretty much everything but violating the PED policy, now faces a PED violation. And his camp has leaked a self-serving excuse to ESPN that, as articulated, holds less water than a hula hoop.

Adam Schefter of ESPN passes along the notion that Burfict will argue that the positive test came from medication prescribed for him after a December 4 concussion and/or medication prescribed for him after a December 24 shoulder injury.

Burfict also will claim, according to Schefter, that the positive test occurred on December 27, after he had been ruled out for the season. Thus, he’ll argue that he couldn’t have gained any advantage because he wasn’t playing in any more games.

However, Schefter fails to mention that, as of December 27, Burfict hadn’t been ruled out for the season. Two days later, Burfict appeared on they injury report as doubtful, which indicates a 25-percent chance of playing. On December 30, Burfict was downgraded to out.

Perhaps more importantly, a player’s playing status has no relevance to the requirement that, 365 days per year, players cannot have banned substances in their system. Likewise, the league has specific procedures for obtaining permission to take prescription medications that are otherwise banned by the PED policy. There’s no indication that Burfict successfully complied with any and all requirements to obtain permission to take something that team doctors should have known are prohibited.

It’s possible Burfict got the medication from his own doctor, who may have been oblivious to the fact that the NFL will automatically suspend a player for four games if the substances are in his system.

Thus, on its surface, the planned defense looks like a losing proposition. Maybe there are more facts that would bolster the case. If there were, they presumably would have been provided to Schefter and included in his story.

Jonathan Freeny visiting Lions

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The Lions have signed two linebackers since free agency opened and they may be adding a third.

Herbie Teope of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Freeny is visiting the Lions on Friday. Freeny joined the Saints last December after stints with the Ravens and Patriots. Teope reports the Saints have interest in bringing him back.

Freeny also spent time with the Patriots in 2015 and 2016, so he’s a familiar face to Lions head coach Matt Patricia. Freeny played one game with the Patriots after seeing action in three Ravens games and went on to play the final four games of the year for the Saints. Freeny had a sack in their playoff victory over the Panthers and seven tackles overall.

The Lions signed Devon Kennard and Christian Jones to a linebacking group that will say goodbye to new Raiders acquisition Tahir Whitehead.

Report: Bob McNair questioned in Colin Kaepernick collusion case

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The inmates may not be running the prison, but one of the wardens got interrogated on Friday.

According to TMZ, Colin Kaepernick‘s lawyers questioned Texans owner Bob McNair in Houston as part of Kaepernick’s claim that the league colluded to keep him unemployed.

Kaepernick was photographed leaving the proceedings, wearing a black T-shirt with “Kunta Kinte” in white letters.

The interest in questioning McNair came from his team’s lack of interest in Kaepernick after Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL last season and, more importantly, McNair’s controversial remark during an October ownership meeting that the league “can’t have the inmates running the prison,” in reference to efforts to resolve the controversy regarding player protests during the national anthem in order to bring attention to issues of police brutality directed against African-Americans and people of color.

Kaepernick, in 2016, was the first player to protest during the anthem. He became a free agent in early 2017, but no one offered him a contract.

Last year, former Texans tackle Duane Brown said that, when participated in anthem protests during the 2016 season, “there was no backing of my character as a man as a leader or a player . . . [and] [t]here was nothing said by [McNair] or the organization to back me at all.”

Lawyer Mark Geragos claimed in November, after the Texans failed to consider Kaepernick, that McNair had made Kaepernick’s case stronger.

I just don’t understand the Texans,” Geragos said at the time. “If I’m Bob McNair, and maybe I’m addled and maybe I’m sick, I just don’t know. I mean, I’ll find out when I do his deposition. But if I’m Bob McNair and I’ve already misspoke and my players want to come and beat the crap out of me, I think that somebody should be whispering in my ear, ‘Sign Kap, sign Kap.’ Because that can redeem you, I would think, just from a public relations standpoint.”

Geragos also has described McNair’s “inmates running the prison” remark as critical proof of collusion.

“That’s about as good a smoking gun for collusion as you can get,” Geragos said. “‘We’re not going to let the inmates run the prison.'”

Many have argued that collusion will be impossible to prove, apparently under the belief that the case will require evidence of a secret agreement among all teams to avoid Kaepernick at all costs. His lawyers believe that collusion can be shown much more easily than that, with the league office (as controlled by a small handful of owners( being the conduit for spreading the word to the various teams, with the message not being a blatant “don’t sign Kaepernick,” but a far more subtle explanation that, for example, signing Kaepernick would generally be bad for business.

Other owners likely will be questioned soon, and it could end up being a hot topic as they prepare to gather in Orlando for the annual meetings, starting next weekend.