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For Peyton, what does “restructuring” mean?

Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders Getty Images

OK, so the Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning are working on a restructuring.  But what does that really mean?

(I’d be a lot more productive if I simply flagged the questions and didn’t spend time trying to answer them.)

Typically, there are two types of restructurings.  The so-called “simple” restructuring entails taking a large chunk of the player’s salary for the next season and converting it to a signing bonus, which spreads the cap hit over multiple years.  For example, a player with $13 million in salary and four years left on his contract can take $12 million now, dropping the current cap charge to $4 million and pushing $9 million the final three years of the deal.

Another type of restructuring entails reducing the compensation to be earned.  For example, a player with a $13 million salary can create $5 million in cap space by reducing his salary to $8 million.  (#math.)

For the Broncos and Manning, it’s unclear what kind of “restructuring” they’re discussing.  With only two years left on his contract, a “simple” restructuring has limited value.  If, for example, the Broncos were to convert $10 million of Manning’s base salary to a signing bonus, his cap number for 2015 would drop by $5 million — with the other $5 million hitting the books in 2016.  Which would drive up his cap number in 2016 from $21.5 million to $26.5 million.

It makes more sense if 2015 will be his final year with the team.  If a Derek Jeter-style PFM Farewell Tour is coming, pushing $5 million to next year but avoiding Manning’s $19 million salary for 2016 results in a cap charge after 2015 of only $7.5 million.

It’s also possible that the Broncos and Manning would extend the contract to allow for the chunk of salary he receives as a signing bonus to be spread over more years.  That would result in greater cap savings for 2015, but the full remaining amount of prorated bonus money would hit the books next year, if he retires.

Then there’s the restructuring-by-reducing strategy.  At a time when plenty of Broncos fans think Peyton isn’t worth the full $19 million, he could earn some goodwill for his Denver-area munchies-alleviation businesses by simply giving back some salary.  While he’s never been wired to take less (and he has every right to take that approach), any decision to take less from the Broncos could mean that his agent has gauged the market and learned that no one else will pay Peyton $19 million for 2015.

Either way, the fact that the Broncos and Manning are talking about a restructuring doesn’t yet mean Peyton should be praised for doing the team a favor.  But it does mean that the Broncos and Manning are actively looking for a way to continue their relationship for a fourth season.

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New Jersey officials considering bid for college football title game

Super Bowl XLVIII - Preview Getty Images

MetLife Stadium hosts an NFL game every weekend, and dodged a weather bullet when the Super Bowl came to town.

So why not the college football national championship game?

(Other than, you know, Greater New York-New Jersey isn’t really a college football hotbed.)

According to Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel, New Jersey officials are considering a bid to host the championship game.

Of course, the College Football Playoff is trying to draw in big markets for the 2018-20, sending out requests for proposals to multiple cities.

They won’t confirm all the cities who were sent requests for bids, but Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami have confirmed interest. Indianapolis and Minneapolis have previously mentioned interest, offering domed stadiums to offset the cold weather.

Dallas hosted the first title game of the new college system this year, and Arizona (2016) and Tampa (2017) have secured the next two games.

But apparently emboldened by the NFL’s good luck with the weather, they’re willing to try colder climates, in the eternal quest for more money in a sport of unpaid interns.

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Carson Palmer could restructure deal to give Cards more cap space

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The Cardinals have been very active already this offseason when it comes to creating cap space as they’ve given wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald a reworked deal and started working on the same with defensive lineman Darnell Dockett.

Quarterback Carson Palmer could join that list. Palmer signed a four-year extension with the Cardinals last November, which he went out and celebrated by tearing his ACL and missing the remainder of the season.

Now Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix reports that he may alter the deal before even playing a full game under its terms. Palmer is due a $9.5 million roster bonus this year and the team would gain more than $7 million under the salary cap by converting it to a signing bonus to spread the cap hit out over the life of the contract.

Kicking the can down the road like that can lead to future cap squeezes, but the Cardinals have an eye on winning now after 21 wins in the last two seasons and the immediate financial fuel a Palmer restructure offers would be appealing for a team with that mindset.

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Peppers expected back with Packers, at $9.5 million

Oakland Raiders v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The Packers decided to remove an aging, expensive player from their defense when they cut A.J. Hawk yesterday. So might they remove an even older, even more expensive player and cut Julius Peppers?

Not according to coach Mike McCarthy, who said at the Scouting Combine that Peppers will be back.

“I definitely believe Julius Peppers is going to be here,” McCarthy said. “He had a great year. He made an impact both on the field, and in the locker room.”

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that Peppers is due to make $8.5 million in base salary, $500,000 in a workout bonus, and $500,000 in per game roster bonuses. Add in the prorated portion of his signing bonus, and he’ll cost $12 million against Green Bay’s salary cap in 2015.

That’s a lot of money for a 35-year-old. But the Packers think Peppers is worth that money.

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Report: Panthers interested in Ted Ginn return

Kansas City Chiefs v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

Wide receiver/returner Ted Ginn may be able to go back to his hometown of Cleveland to continue his playing career, but that probably won’t be his only option for 2015 employment after being released by the Cardinals.

Ginn spent the 2013 season playing for the Panthers and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports that the team plans to reach out to Ginn about a second engagement with the club. If those plans come to fruition, they’ll reportedly be battling at least the Browns for a chance to add Ginn to their roster.

Ginn had a comeback year as a receiver with Carolina after three seasons of little use in that area with the 49ers. He caught 36 passes for 556 yards and five touchdowns while also posting strong numbers as a kickoff and punt returner. He couldn’t replicate that success with the Cardinals, which explains why he’s looking for work right now.

The Panthers return game didn’t do well without Ginn and the team could also give a look to former Raven Jacoby Jones as they attempt to improve it in 2015.

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Roger Goodell thinks Jimmy Haslam is doing a heck of a job

Goodell Canton Football AP

Since Jimmy Haslam took over the Cleveland Browns, they’ve gone 16-25, drafted a party-hard quarterback upon the advice of a homeless guy, and gotten themselves in trouble for illegal texting during games.

They’ve changed strategies, coaches, General Managers and team presidents, saw their best player repeatedly suspended for substance abuse, and unveiled a new logo which involved moving one block over on the Pantone chart.

Oh, and Haslam’s been investigated on federal fraud charges resulting in paying a $92 million settlement to the government.

But you know who thinks Haslam’s doing a swell job? NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Via Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal, Goodell praised the work Haslam’s doing to turn around (?) the Browns.

I’m a big fan of Jimmy Haslam,” Goodell said. “There are few quick fixes in this business and the league is so competitive. You really have to build a foundation. If it was easy, anybody could do it. There are 32 competitive teams.

“He’s learned a great deal. He’s making very smart decisions for the long term. I think this community ­— and I know this is Browns country — I think they’re fortunate to have Jimmy Haslam as an owner and we’re fortunate to have him.”

As endorsements go, that ranks right up there with “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

Goodell made the comments during an appearance at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce dinner, taking questions in a relaxed setting from Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf, and not reporters, who would have certainly leaned in on the assertion that there’s nothing to see here.

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Raiders, Panthers among 10 teams in need of increasing cash spending

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Ten NFL teams are currently falling shy of minimum cash spending requirements agreed upon in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement.

The CBA calls for teams to spend 89 percent of the salary cap in cash over the span of four seasons. The current four-year period spans from 2013-16 with another four-year span from 2017-2020 spanning the remainder of the CBA.

According to Tom Pelissero of the USA Today, nearly a third of the league is currently falling short of that 89 percent minimum threshold through the first two years of the current four-year span. Per numbers calculated by the NFL Players Association earlier this month, the Oakland Raiders are the most flagrant team in terms of underspending. They have spent just 80.2 percent of the salary cap over the last two years.

Also falling short are the Carolina Panthers (80.8 percent), New York Jets (81.16), Jacksonville Jaguars (82.2), Dallas Cowboys (82.6), New England Patriots (82.7), New Orleans Saints (86.2), Washington Redskins (87), New York Giants (87.9) and Pittsburgh Steelers (88.3).

The five lowest spending teams (Raiders, Panthers, Jets, Jaguars and Patriots) will have to ramp up their spending significantly over the next two years to meet the minimum requirements. With the salary cap expected to jump approximately $8-10 million in each of the next two years, the teams will have a ton of flexibility from a cash standpoint to spend over that span.

The Saints situation is somewhat troublesome. New Orleans currently sits more than $20 million over the expected salary cap for the 2015 season. Not only do they have to cut their cap commitments to get under the line by the start of the league year on March 10, they also have to find a way to increase their cash spending as well over the next two years to meet the threshold.

If teams don’t meet the 89 percent threshold in salaries over the four-year period, the difference must be paid to the NFLPA, which can dispense the money as they see fit.

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Shell casing from Hernandez rental car connected to crime scene

Walsh AP

It’s not getting much better for the defense at the first Aaron Hernandez murder trial.

Via the Associated Press, Sgt. Stephen Walsh testified Wednesday that a shell casing found in the rental car used by Hernandez matched the shell casings found at the scene of Odin Lloyd’s shooting.

An employee at the rental-car company found the shell casing under the driver’s seat in the Nissan Altima Hernandez had rented.  He returned the car the day after the shooting.  The casing was put in a dumpster, and police later found it there.

Walsh told jurors that that all six .45 caliber casings had been fired by the same gun.

So while the murder weapon hasn’t been found, the presence of a matching shell casing in the car that Hernandez was driving — and in which Lloyd was a passenger — becomes very strong circumstantial evidence of guilt.

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Mike Adams was too excited to notice anything wrong with Patriots footballs

Adams Getty Images

With Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson admitting last week that he alerted the NFL to the team’s concerns about the inflation (or lack thereof) of Patriots football before the AFC title game, it’s reasonable to conclude that the Colts became concerned in whole or in part by the inflation (or lack thereof) of the two Patriots footballs safety Mike Adams brought to the sideline after interception Tom Brady passes on November 16 in Indianapolis.

Appearing on Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Adams explained that he didn’t notice anything unusual about the footballs, because he was too excited and full of adrenaline after making the interceptions to pay attention.

Due to become a free agent, Adams said plenty of other things about his 11th NFL season, which culminated in his first Pro Bowl berth.  Regarding the divisional-round playoff game between the Colts and his most recent former team, the Broncos, Adams acknowledged that it seemed the Broncos were taking the Colts lightly.  (Last month, Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. separately made that observation on PFT Live.)

We know we’ve already pasted the code for the full video into the Rumor Mill, but I’m going to do it again because:  (1) Adams was a really good interview; and (2) it doesn’t require much effort for me to do it.  It requires even less effort for you to listen to it.

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Report: Steelers to let Jason Worilds test market

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The Steelers’ top prospective unrestricted free agent looks likely to be able to shop around when the market opens on Tuesday, March 10.

The Steelers are willing to let outside linebacker Jason Worilds get a sense of his value in free agency before determining whether they can re-sign him, ESPN.com’s Scott Brown reported Wednesday.

The Steelers used the transition tag on Worilds last year but will not do so in 2015, ESPN.com reported.

The 27-year-old Worilds has recorded 122 tackles and 15.5 sacks in the last two seasons for Pittsburgh. He ranks 10th among PFT’s top 100 free agents.

The market for edge rushers bears monitoring. The Chiefs do not seem likely to let Justin Houston hit the market, and his removal from the mix would not hurt the bargaining power of rushers like Worilds, the Bills’ Jerry Hughes and the Eagles’ Brandon Graham.

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Money the most overlooked factor in Adrian Peterson drama

Minnesota Vikings v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

Much has been said in recent days and weeks regarding whether running back Adrian Peterson will continue to play for the Vikings if/when he’s reinstated.  Fueling the speculation that Peterson may not be back are comments from Peterson suggesting hesitation to return, quotes from his father regarding a perceived lack of support from the organization when Peterson tried to return to football after resolving his legal case, and an altercation between Peterson’s agent and a Vikings executive (which may have been overblown).

Lost in the what-will-Adrian-do drama is the one factor that routinely is the biggest factor in matters of this nature:  Money.

The Vikings owe Peterson $12.75 million in 2015, with his 30th birthday looming.  What other team would pay him that much, especially after giving up whatever the Vikings will want in picks or players?  The more he’s worth financially, the more he’s worth in trade.

And so in the same way Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch may be leveraging uncertainty to shake plenty of money from owner Paul Allen, the guy whose exploits are verbally chronicled by a different Paul Allen could parlay these odd circumstances into an assurance that he’ll get every penny he’s scheduled to earn, this year and maybe next year, when he’s due to make $14.75 million.

It’s easy for Peterson to muse about getting a fresh start.  It’s harder to seize on that fresh start if the fresh start entails a lot less cash.

What about Peterson’s perception that the Vikings, through recently-promoted COO Kevin Warren, worked with the league to keep him from playing in November or December?  It’s easy to understand Peterson’s frustration; in lieu of fighting the charges pending against him in court, he accepted a plea deal in the hopes that it would get him back on the field last season.  It’s entirely possible that someone in the league office decided in September that Peterson wouldn’t suit up again in 2014.  If that’s the case, the Vikings weren’t participating in the making of decisions about Peterson; they were simply (and wisely) going along with the wishes of the league.

Peterson eventually may see it that way.  Making it easier for him to do so could be the raw dollars-and-cents differences between what the Vikings would pay him to return, and what another team would pay him to leave.

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Report: Broncos and Peyton Manning working on restructuring

Broncos Chargers Football AP

We’ve known the Broncos want Peyton Manning back. And we know Manning wants to play some more.

Now, they’re working on the numbers to make that happen.

According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, the Broncos and Manning are working on revising his contract, to move around some of the $19 million he’s scheduled to make this year.

With the two sides agreeing on the basics, the structure of the deal will be the key — the how and when Manning gets his money, while maximizing the Broncos’ cap room.

He also has to pass the team’s physical by next Thursday, but he said before the Super Bowl he didn’t think passing it would be an issue.

Creating cap space is key for the Broncos, especially considering the cost of using the franchise tag on wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (around $13 million).

There is some degree of deadline pressure, as Manning’s $19 million becomes guaranteed on March 9. So between now and then, the work to figure out how to do the accounting tricks will help shape the Broncos’ offseason plan.

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Bears sign CB Demontre Hurst through 2016

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The Bears have inked one of their defensive backs to a contract extension.

Chicago has signed cornerback Demontre Hurst to a two-year deal, the club said this evening. Hurst is now under contract through 2016.

The 23-year-old Hurst played 15 games for Chicago in 2014, recording his first career interception in the season finale at Minnesota. The Bears credited him with 35 tackles on defense and eight on special teams. Per Pro Football Focus, Hurst played 373 defensive snaps in the regular season.

An Oklahoma product, Hurst (5-10, 183) was on the Bears’ practice squad in 2013. He was slated to be an exclusive-rights free agent.

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Brian Hoyer, Ray Farmer due to meet

Cleveland Browns v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

The Browns have spent the last two days meeting with veteran quarterback Josh McCown.  Eventually, they’ll meet with the quarterback who has had plenty of success for the franchise the past two years.

Per a league source, Brian Hoyer eventually will be meeting with G.M. Ray Farmer regarding Hoyer’s potential future with the team.  Thereafter, negotiations between Hoyer’s agent and the Browns will resume.

It’s unclear whether the Browns have genuine interest in bringing back Hoyer, or whether Hoyer has genuine interest in returning.  A Cleveland native, he was one of the best things about the team in 2014, but he was marginalized by the decision to take Johnny Manziel in the first round.

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On this day in 1933, the NFL’s passing rules underwent a key change

Don Majkowski Getty Images

Imagine an NFL where passers had to release the ball at least five yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Well, as late as 1932, that was the rule. However, on February 25, 1933, the NFL moved to allow passers to throw the ball anywhere behind the line.

The modified gives offenses some added flexibility, and it allows quarterbacks the ability to improvise when needed. One memorable example came in 1989, when Green Bay’s Don Majkowski connected with Sterling Sharpe on a game-winning 14-yard TD pass vs. Chicago (see 2:45 mark). Majkowski was originally ruled to have crossed the line, but the play was overturned on review, and the Packers secured the win.

Coincidentally, today is Majkowski’s 51st birthday. The rule that helped him author perhaps his most famous play, meanwhile, turns 82, and it’s hard to fathom an NFL without it.

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