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Bruce Allen believes July 15 will be “driving point” in Kirk Cousins contract talks

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When he was asked about his desire for a long-term contract recently, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said that he’s in a “good place” right now and noted that many players are on one-year contracts without anyone making a major fuss.

It was team president Bruce Allen’s turn to talk about Cousins’ contract status on Monday and cited Cousins’ comments when saying the team was comfortable going into the season with Cousins playing on the franchise tag. Allen also said that the team remains interested in extending Cousins’ deal because the quarterback has gotten “better and better” and that he’s “always an optimist” about things working out.

If a deal is going to be struck, it sounds like it might not come until we draw closer to the July 15 deadline for tagged players to sign multi-year deals.

“It’s ongoing,” Allen said, via Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post. “There’s been constant dialogue, I don’t want to say it’s been every day. I really believe July 15, the league deadline, is really going to be the driving point to it. It’s ongoing.”

There hasn’t seemed to be much momentum toward a deal, but we’ve seen the deadline lead to action in other cases where an agreement seemed like a longshot. In a little less than two months, we’ll know which side of the fence the Cousins talk wind up.

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Giants bringing Devin Taylor in for a visit

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The Giants have written big checks lately for pass-rushing defensive ends, but they still need some depth.

A league source confirms to PFT the Giants are bringing former Lions defensive end Devin Taylor for a visit.

Taylor had 7.0 sacks as a reserve two years ago, but only 4.5 last year as a starter in Detroit.

After signing Olivier Vernon a year ago and extending Jason Pierre-Paul this offseason, the Giants are covered with starters but could use more depth.

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Gerald Hodges visiting Bills, Giants

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The Gerald Hodges job tour continues.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the free-agent linebacker will visit the Bills today and the Giants on Tuesday.

Hodges recently met with the Jets. Before that, he visited with the Chiefs and Seahawks.

Hodges, No. 61 on the PFT Free Agent Hot 100 list, previously played for the 49ers. Because the window has closed on the compensatory draft-pick formula, any team that signs him won’t have that count against their net free agency gains/losses for the purposes of dishing out extra third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-, and/or seventh-round picks.

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Orlando Franklin visiting Jags, Sam Barrington visited last week

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The Jaguars are slated to have wide receiver Victor Cruz in for a visit this week, but he’s not the only veteran free agent on their radar.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports and PFT has confirmed that guard Orlando Franklin is visiting the team on Monday. Franklin was released by the Chargers last week.

Franklin started 26 games for the Chargers over the last two seasons and has been a regular in the starting lineup since joining the Broncos as a second-round pick in 2011. The Jaguars are in need of a left guard, although there’s been some speculation that the loser of the left tackle competition between Branden Albert and Cam Robinson could slide inside.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Jaguars also had linebacker Sam Barrington in for a workout last week. He split last season between the Chiefs and Saints and would be a depth pickup for Jacksonville.

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Michael Bennett says he will “boycott” local newspaper

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Near the end of last season, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman took some time off from speaking to reporters following a press conference argument that saw Sherman threaten to ruin a reporter’s career.

Sherman eventually apologized for that and resumed speaking to the media, but now one of his teammates has elicited memories of that stretch by vowing not to speak to one of Seattle’s newspapers. Defensive end Michael Bennett responded to a tweet from the Seattle Times about a column by Matt Calkins by saying he would “boycott” the paper and encourage his teammates to join him in refusing to speak to reporters from that outlet.

Calkins wrote a column calling Bennett “as direct and as fearless as they come” in regards to both his play on the field his commitment to issues and causes he believes in off of it. Calkins also criticized Bennett for bouts of “immaturity” when dealing with the media and closes the column by writing that he loves Bennett’s message but “sometimes, I wonder about the messenger.”

There’s nothing too unusual about players taking an issue with something written or said about them in the media. These things often blow over in time, so we’ll have to see if this proves to be an exception.

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Vinny Curry said he played through knee injury last year

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Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry responded to a big contract with a lackluster season, but he’s explaining now there was a reason for that.

Via Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, Curry said during an interview on 94 WIP that he tried playing through a knee injury which bothered him all season.

I messed my MCL up,” Curry said. “I tried to play through it, and in the long run it ended up hurting me. It is going to be a better year, everything has been perfect so far.”

Curry said he suffered the injury prior to the opener against the Browns. He was on the injury report with a knee problem the first three weeks of the season, but then wasn’t listed.

Curry played well in stretches, but had just 2.5 sacks last season, far from what many expected after the Eagles gave him a five-year, $46 million contract extension.

His kind of cap figure ($9 million next season) will keep the attention on him, and with the Eagles using their first-round pick on defensive end Derek Barnett, Curry will need to get back to producing soon.

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Bears considering moving Kyle Long again

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The Bears have been fortunate that Pro Bowl offensive lineman Kyle Long is versatile, and they’re thinking about tapping into that again.

According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears are considering moving Long to left guard this year and flipping free agent pickup Josh Sitton to right guard.

Long has played tackle in the past, but the Bears obviously prefer him inside. The only complication to this move is that Long’s still rehabbing last year’s ankle injury, so it’s unclear when the adjustment will begin.

Sitton has plenty of experience at right guard, having started the first four years in Green Bay on the right side. Long hasn’t played left guard since college, but it shouldn’t be that much of a problem for a player of his experience.

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Ben Roethlisberger still “proud” of self-reporting concussion

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With the attention brought to concussions and the diagnosis of them by Tom Brady’s wife, many are talking about the fine line between getting one and talking about it.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees has admitted that he would try to hide the injury from his wife.

But one guy who has self-reported during a game said that he’s glad he did.

In November 2015, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took himself out at Seattle complaining of peripheral vision issues, and was taken to the locker room for testing.

I’m proud of it,” Roethlisberger told TheMMQB’s Peter King on his podcast. “I have been just like Drew [Brees] where I haven’t reported things before either. Probably everybody who has ever played the game of football hasn’t reported an injury. For me it wasn’t about an injury—I’ve played through many injuries—but when you talk about your head, that is a different ball game.

“You can replace a lot of body parts, but you can’t replace a brain. You see the effects of it from past players, players who have taken their lives, the CTE, all that stuff and, you know, I’m thinking about my family and long term. I love this game and I love my brothers that I play football with, and I would encourage any player who has an issue with their brain to just report it properly . . . We are blessed to play this game but we also have a life to live.”

Of course, not everyone has the same kind of financial and starting job security as Roethlisberger, who can know with great certainty that he’s going back on the field for the Steelers as soon as he’s well.

So it’s worth wondering that if Brady was struggling in any way, if the presence of potential heir Jimmy Garoppolo on the Patriots sideline would influence him to keep it to himself. Brady knows all too well about backup quarterbacks getting on the field because of injury and never leaving it, so it’s reasonable to think that could motivate a guy who wants to play for many more years.

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Marshawn Lynch leads hundreds of fans on Oakland bike tour

Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement to join his hometown team, and he’s having some fun with his hometown fans.

The Raiders running back tweeted a picture of himself sitting on a bike on Friday, with the words, “2morrow at Oakland Tech, 1 o’clock.” That was all it took to get hundreds of fans to show up on their bikes at the appointed time and place.

The huge group then rode through Oakland, to Berkeley and then back to their starting point. Videos posted on social media showed a huge group of bikers, young and old, male and female, black and white, all having a good time on the impromptu Tour de Oakland.

Lynch hasn’t even suited up in the Silver and Black yet, but he may already be the Raiders’ most popular player. He loves Oakland, and Oakland loves him.

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Calvin Johnson: “Of course” I had concussions I hid from the doctors

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Calvin Johnson was a quiet guy during his playing career, but he has plenty to say in retirement.

Johnson, the former Lions receiver who said yesterday that he didn’t like how the team treated him when he retired, also had some interesting things to say about concussions.

Asked if he ever concealed a concussion from team doctors, Johnson answered, “Of course.”

They’re going to dispute that, but anytime you black out, anytime you hit the ground and everything is stars and stuff, any time your brain hits your skull, that’s a concussion,” Johnson said, via the Detroit Free Press. “No matter how severe it is, it’s a concussion. Now granted, some people get nausea. That’s a severe concussion when you get hit like that and you get nausea and stuff like that. But if you play football long enough [you’re going to have concussions].”

Tom Brady’s wife said last week that he had a concussion last season, which the NFL says was never diagnosed. Johnson said players frequently don’t get diagnosed by team doctors because they don’t want to miss any playing time.

“Guys get concussions, they don’t tell the coaches,” Johnson said. “It happens. I don’t tell the coach sometimes cause I know I got a job to do. The team needs me out there on the field. And sometimes you allow that to jeopardize yourself, but that’s just the nature of the world.”

As the NFL has mandated removing players from games when they suffer concussions, an unintended consequence is that players who don’t want to leave a game won’t seek medical help if they feel concussion symptoms. Johnson knows that first hand.

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Report: Alterraun Verner out of shape in workout for Jaguars

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Former Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner is one of the few remaining available players in our Free Agent Hot 100. So why is he still available?

It may be that he’s out of shape. The Florida Times-Union reports that Verner worked out for the Jaguars but didn’t look good.

He was a little out of shape. Word is they will do a do-over,” the paper quoted an unnamed source as saying.

The 28-year-old Verner was a Pro Bowler for the Titans in 2013 and signed a four-year, $26.5 million contract with the Buccaneers in 2014. He was released this offseason after three years in Tampa.

The Jaguars’ top three cornerbacks are Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and Aaron Colvin. Verner could provide some veteran depth, if he can get into good enough shape that the Jaguars want to sign him.

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Justin Pugh sees himself in the “driver’s seat”

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Justin Pugh is sniff ‘n’ the cash.

I’m sitting in the driver’s seat,’’ Pugh recently said regarding his contract situation, via Mark Canizzaro of the New York Post.

Pugh enters the fifth year of his rookie deal, with free agency a year away.

“I’ve played good football,’’ Pugh said. “I know how important this year is for me. I think this is the best Giants team I’ve been on, so I think the sky’s the limit for the team and myself.’’

Even if he doesn’t reach the sky, Pugh believes the Giants will be reaching for the checkbook — especially with the big-money deals doled out to guards in 2017.

“Trust me, I noticed,’’ Pugh said. “Some of the guards are really good players who have not made Pro Bowls, guys that have missed significant time and have gotten paid a lot of money. I know where I sit in that hierarchy. I also know the Giants need to do right by me, too.

“I’ve gone out there and done everything they’ve ever asked me to do. So I know my worth. I’m going to go out there and play my best season of football and hopefully the Giants say, ‘Let’s pay him what he deserves.'”

The franchise tag also is possibility. But since all offensive linemen are in the same bucket for tag purposes, left tackle salaries have driven the formula. In 2017, the franchise tag for Pugh would have been north of $14 million. By next year, it’ll be even higher.

So Pugh will get a long-term deal from the Giants (which they could give him now), a deal with a new team on the open market, or the tag. The only thing that could derail those options is a serious injury; for that reason, Pugh should consider clamoring for a long-term deal and the financial security that comes from it before his fifth career year begins.

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Juju Smith-Schuster went from fan to teammate of Antonio Brown

AP

A year and a half ago, JuJu Smith-Schuster was a big Antonio Brown fan. He still is, and he’s now also a teammate.

Smith-Schuster, the Steelers’ second-round draft pick, posted on Twitter today a screenshot of a message he sent to Brown in November of 2015, asking Brown if he could have any tips to improve his game.

“What’s up AB? I’m a receiver at the University of Southern California,” Smith-Schuster wrote. “I appreciate all your work. You’re a great man on and off the field. Do you have any tips that can help take my game to the next level? Thanks man.”

Smith-Schuster then posted a picture of himself and Brown working together recently at the Steelers’ practice facility. Smith-Schuster did not say whether Brown responded to the message a year and a half ago, but they’ll have plenty of time to work together now.

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Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo says he’s ready to compete for his job

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Ordinarily, when a team trades up in the second round to draft a player, that player’s roster spot is safe for at least a couple years. But Roberto Aguayo is no ordinary second-year player.

Aguayo, the kicker the Buccaneers drafted last season, had a terrible rookie year and will have to compete with veteran Nick Folk for the kicking job. He says he embraces that.

It is motivation,” Aguayo told PewterReport.com. “When I was in college there would be walk-on kids come in and I didn’t know who they were or if they were good or whatever. But whoever they were, it was always a competition for me. Just seeing someone else out there trying to compete. I like it.”

Aguayo said he thinks both he and Folk will benefit from the pressure of a camp competition.

“I look at it like playing golf,” Aguayo said. “When you go out there playing by yourself you are playing to shoot par or shoot your best, but when you have someone else out there it’s like, ‘Well he hit a good shot so I want to hit a good shot.’ So it is good motivation for both of us and it is just going to make both of us better. And the better one will come out on top.”

The Bucs’ decision to draft Aguayo was widely criticized at the time and will be criticized even more if he can’t beat out Folk this summer. He sounds confident that he can vindicate the team’s faith in him.

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Leonard Fournette only rookie to avoid offsets, so far

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The numbers are trickling in regarding the contracts signed by the players selected three weeks ago in the draft. In the top 10, half have signed their deals. Only one has avoided the oft-contentious offset language.

The Jaguars gave running back Leonard Fournette, the fourth pick in round one, a fully-guaranteed contract with no offset language. At this point, it’s no longer about the selection slot; whether offset language will appear in the contract depends on the team. The Jaguars, even with new-boss-old-boss Tom Coughlin running the show, are one of the few to not worry about how the worst-case scenario of a top-10 picking being cut within the first four years will be cleaned up financially. If it all goes to hell in a handwarmer, the player gets his money from the Jaguars, along with whatever someone else will pay him.

The Browns do worry about the worst case; the deal signed by defensive end Myles Garrett, the first overall pick, includes offset language. Ditto for the other top-10 picks who have signed: Chargers receiver Mike Williams (No. 7); Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (No. 8); and Bengals receiver John Ross (No. 9).

For Williams, who is represented by the same firm (CAA) that held out Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa last year in part due to the offset issue, the compromise came from guaranteed roster bonuses due on the fifth day of training camp in 2018, 2019, and 2020. (The Texans applied the same approach to quarterback Deshaun Watson, the twelfth overall pick, paying fifth-day-of-camp roster bonuses in lieu of removing offset language.)

This approach gives the player a sliver of protection by paying out a significant chunk of cash roughly a month before final roster cuts. Offsets aren’t an issue as to money that already has been paid; by pushing compensation from base salary into an early-camp roster bonus, the player can essentially double dip.

The only risk from this technique arises from the potential voiding of the guarantee by a suspension coupled with the possible placement of the player on the Non-Football Injury/Illness list to start training camp. While in theory a rare combination of events, it happened last year to former Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan, wiping out $1.7 million.

UPDATE 12:05 p.m. ET: Per a source with knowledge of the various contracts, the Bosa and Williams deals include language guaranteeing payment of the training-camp roster bonuses even if the players are on active/NFI. Watson’s deal does not contain that same language.

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