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Texans acknowledge DeAndre Hopkins holdout

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 13:  Houston Texan player DeAndre Hopkins watches the play during the 2016 Copa America Centenario Group match between Mexico and Venezuela at NRG Stadium on June 13, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins wants a new contract. He hasn’t gotten one, so he has held out.

The Texans, in response, have placed him on the reserve/did not report list. They also have issued a statement regarding the situation.

“We are disappointed DeAndre has elected not to report to training camp with the rest of his teammates,” said G.M. Rick Smith, who received an extension of his own on Friday. “He has expressed his position regarding his contract status, and we have been clear with both he and his representatives of ours. Our focus is on the 2016 season and all of our collective efforts and attention will be centered on that endeavor.”

It’s unclear what the respective positions are. Some have suggested that the Texans have flatly refused to negotiate a new deal for Hopkins, a first-round pick in 2013 who is eligible to have the final two years of his rookie deal torn up and replaced with a new contract.

Hopkins will be subject to $40,000 per day in fines, partial forfeiture of his signing bonus, loss of a $445,000 roster bonus, and eventually the loss of a year of credit to free agency.

The problem isn’t the fourth year toward free agency but the two years left on his contract. He wants the Texans to do for him what they did for J.J. Watt two years ago, tearing up the final two years of the rookie contract and giving him a new one.

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Michael Bennett officially reports to Seahawks camp

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 20:  Defensive end Michael Bennett #72 (R) of the Seattle Seahawks sports a Darth Vader mask as he is greeted by linebacker Bruce Irvin #51 during introductions prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns at CenturyLink Field on December 20, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Browns 30-13.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett still dislikes his contract. But he likes his team and his teammates enough to set that aside, again.

Last year, he showed up for training camp after skipping the offseason program. This year, he did the same thing.

“I just want to be here and be a good teammate,” Bennett told reporters after practice, via Aaron Levine of Q13 FOX Sports. “Just want to be a Seahawk for the rest of my life.”

It’s unclear whether he’ll spend the current season under the third year of a four-year, $28.5 million deal or a new contract. His agent was due to meet with the Seahawks this week.

Now that Bennett has reported, it’s likely that he’ll stay. As explained earlier in connection with Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins (who contrary to initial reports from ESPN did not “walk out of camp”), the team has much more leverage over a player who shows up and then leaves — including the nuclear option of sending a “five-day letter” that allows the team to shut him down for the entire year if he doesn’t return within (obviously based on the description of the letter) five days.

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Anthony Davis returns to 49ers active roster

San Francisco 49ers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

Offensive tackle Anthony Davis has officially been reinstated and placed on the 49ers’ active roster, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.

Davis sat out last season and had been on the team’s reserve-retired list. Last week, Davis said he’d submitted his letter of reinstatement to the NFL.

A first-round pick in 2010, Davis started all 71 games he played at right tackle before walking away last season. Though there had been speculation that Davis wanted the 49ers to trade or release him, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said this week that the 49ers and Davis had patched things up and that Davis was anxious to return.

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Eric Fisher gets $28.5 million fully guaranteed by March

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 28:  Julius Peppers #56 of the Green Bay Packers rushes against Eric Fisher #72 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field on September 28, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Chiefs 38-28.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Three years ago, the Chiefs thought enough of tackle Eric Fisher to make him the first pick in the draft. Now, they think enough of him to give him a four-year, $48 million extension.

Per a source with knowledge of the contract, $22 million is fully guaranteed at signing. By March 2017, $28.5 million will be fully guaranteed. There are another $11.5 million in injury-only guarantees.

The contract compares favorably to the market, which is a positive sign for Fisher given that he has yet to fully become the guy the Chiefs thought he would be. (Apparently, they think he’s close to becoming that guy.)

By way of comparison on a “new money” basis, Saints tackle Terron Amstead and Eagles tackle Lane Johnson got $20.8 million fully guaranteed at signing, and less than $28.5 million by the following March. Their total guarantees were $38 million and $35 million, respectively; Fisher’s is at $40 million.

Currently, the deal makes Fisher the fourth highest-paid tackle in the league. Washington tackle Trent Williams gets $13 million per year, Amstead gets $13 million per year, Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith gets $12.2 million per year.

Behind Fisher are Bills tackle Cordy Glenn at $11.5 million per year, Browns tackle Joe Fisher at $11.5 million per year, Johnson at $11.25 million per year, and Colts tackle Anthony Castonzo at $10.9 million per year.

The extension, added with the balance of his rookie contract, puts Fisher under contract for six years at $63.33 million.

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Chiefs extend Eric Fisher

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

When the Chiefs took Eric Fisher as the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, they envisioned him as their franchise left tackle for years to come. They still feel that way.

That’s why the Chiefs have reached an agreement on a four-year contract extension with Fisher, a league source tells PFT.

Before agreeing to this extension, Fisher was slated to earn $3.4 million this year and $11.9 million on his fifth-year option in 2017.

Although it took Fisher some time to make the transition from Central Michigan to the NFL, the Chiefs like the way he has developed. Now, at age 25, he’s slated to play his prime years in Kansas City.

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DeAndre Hopkins didn’t leave camp; he never reported

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 29:  DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans warms up before playing against the New Orleans Saints on November 29, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

The image created by the ESPN report that Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkinswalked out of camp” is jarring on the surface, inviting the visualization of Hopkins making a one-handed catch in the end zone, spiking the ball, and heading out the tunnel, Bo Jackson-style.

The truth, per a source with knowledge of the situation, is that Hopkins did not report for camp. While the result is the same (he’s not there), the procedures are much different.

For a player under contract who does not report, he is subject to fines in the amount of $40,000 per day and possible signing bonus forfeiture. For a player who shows up and then leaves, things can quickly escalate into the ultimate lose-lose outcome.

When a player reports for camp and then later leaves, the team has the ability to send a letter warning him that, in five days, the club has the right to place him on the reserve/left squad list. The standard “five-day letter” explains to the player that, if they do place him in that category, he can’t play again this season. After sending the letter and the expiration of the five-day period, the club does not have to place the player on the reserve/left squad list, but it may.

With a player like Hopkins, the idea that the Texans would shut him down for the full season is a little ridiculous. Still, if Hopkins didn’t report the “five-day letter” can’t be sent, giving the Texans significantly less leverage in the looming standoff.

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DeAndre Hopkins walks out of Texans camp

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 28:   DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans reacts to a call during the second half of their game against the Buffalo Bills at NRG Stadium on September 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins wants more money, and he’s holding out to get it.

Hopkins left training camp and began a holdout this morning, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Last week, Hopkins said he wants the Texans to pay him “what I’m worth,” but he did not elaborate on his feelings. By walking out of camp, he has made his feelings clear.

As the 27th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, Hopkins is heading into the fourth year of his rookie contract, and he’s due a base salary of $1 million this year. That’s a bargain for a player of Hopkins’ quality, but it’s what the Collective Bargaining Agreement dictates.

Next year, the Texans can keep Hopkins by picking up his fifth-year option and paying him $7.915 million. Hopkins is obviously looking for a deal that would pay him considerably more than $8.915 million over the next two years, and more for a few years after that as well.

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Report: Michael Bennett “in town” as Seahawks open camp

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 20: Defensive lineman Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks takes the field wearing a Darth Vader mask during player introductions before a football game against the Cleveland Browns at CenturyLink Field on December 20, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks won the game 30-13. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) Getty Images

Recent quotes from Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett created the impression that he possibly would stay away from training camp, due to lingering unhappiness with his contract.

NFL Media reports that, with the Seahawks opening camp on Saturday, Bennett is “in town.”

Whether he’s “in town” and whether he shows up for camp could be two different propositions. Agent Doug Hendrickson was expected to meet with the Seahawks at some point this week about Bennett’s contract. It’s unclear whether the meeting already has happened.

Bennett’s presence could be a sign that a new deal has been reached, or it could mean that Hendrickson wants Bennett to be “in town” and ready to go in order to dangle to the team the ability to get Bennett to camp right away, if a holdout happens while talks continue.

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Brett Favre describes his battle with painkiller addiction

FAVRE AP

A week from today, Brett Favre will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But while we’ll be hearing a lot about his career highlights in the coming days, Favre spoke recently about his lowest moment as a football player.

Favre told Graham Bensinger that the prescription painkiller addiction he beat 20 years ago nearly took control of his life.

“I took 15 Vicodin at one time,” Favre said. “Two gave me an effect I liked. After a month, two didn’t do anything, so I’d take three . . . and then four and so on. . . . I knew that 15 was hard to come by. A month’s prescription is 30 pills or something, depending on what they prescribe for you, and I was going through that in two days. I would ask this guy for pills and that guy for pills, after a while I was going back around pretty quickly.”

Favre makes no excuses for his behavior at that time.

“I knew what I was doing — I knew that I didn’t necessarily need it but I sure liked the way it felt, and I knew it was wrong,” Favre said.

Eventually, Favre made the decision that he had to stop.

“I’d hit rock bottom and I said, I’m going to flush these down the toilet. I remember when I poured them in the toilet and it started to flush, I almost crawled into the toilet to go after them because I thought, ‘What in the world did you do?’ I was so dependent on them,” he said.

Favre says that he actually should have worked with a doctor to wean himself off the painkillers, and he probably harmed himself by how suddenly he stopped.

“I just went cold turkey,” he said. “That was the worst month. I shook every night, cold sweats, it was a constant battle.”

Favre believes his love of football is what pulled him through.

“The one constant through all that was football, and for me, it was a good place to escape,” he said. “It gave me a way to escape but also feel like I was actually doing something good.”

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Coach fired for Dolphins bullying scandal now in trouble at Texas A&M

San Diego Chargers v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

Jim Turner, the Dolphins offensive line coach who was fired for his role in a bullying scandal that embroiled the team, spent two years out of football after losing his job in Miami. This offseason he was hired at Texas A&M, where it didn’t take him long to get in trouble again.

Texas A&M has suspended Turner and tight ends coach Jeff Banks for two weeks without pay, and ordered them to complete 20 hours of community service, for inappropriate comments they made at an event for female fans.

Among the issues that surfaced at the event were changes to the school’s fight song, which presented lyrics including “We are Aggie women/We are filled with estrogen” and “We are putting down our dish towels/And taking off our gloves.”

The coaches also gave the women tips on playing football that were filled with sexual double entendres like “No penetration,” “Never bend over,” and “Don’t end up on your back.”

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin quickly moved to suspend Turner and Banks after reports of the sexist comments surfaced.

“There is absolutely no place in our program or in our University community for inappropriate conduct or degrading comments towards women, or anyone, regardless of intent,” Sumlin said in a statement.

Turner was fired after an NFL-commissioned investigation found that he fostered an atmosphere in which Dolphins offensive linemen Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey regularly bullied teammate Jonathan Martin. Among the inappropriate actions Turner is alleged to have taken during his tenure as Dolphins offensive line coach was buying inflatable sex dolls for players as Christmas presents. Turner filed a defamation lawsuit against Ted Wells, the lawyer who led the NFL’s investigation.

Turner and Banks issued a joint statement in which they said, “We clearly understand now that our comments and slides were not appropriate or consistent with the values of our football program.”

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Jets’ GM says Geno Smith remains in team’s plans

Geno Smith AP

Jets quarterback Geno Smith was essentially demoted when the team re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier this week, and Smith hasn’t hidden the fact that he’s not happy about it.

Still, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan told reporters Friday that Smith remains in the team’s plans.

Asked if he expected Smith to be on the opening day roster, Maccagnan said he “assumes” that answer is yes and said the team likes Smith.

The team will almost certainly end up either moving on from Smith or second-year quarterback Bryce Petty after drafting Christian Hackenberg last spring. That’s a decision Maccagnan doesn’t have to make now, but Smith knows he might also be auditioning for other teams.

Jets Coach Todd Bowles praised Smith in the offseason. Whether that was about trade value or whether the team still thinks Smith could end up being in its long-term plans might is unclear, and a lot could depend on what happens over the next four or five weeks with all of the team’s quarterbacks.

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Texans extend G.M. Rick Smith’s contract through 2020

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22: Houston Texans General manager Rick Smith watches the New York Jets and Houston Texans warm up on November 22, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the signing of quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller, the Texans were one of the busier teams in the early days of free agency.

They aren’t going to wait to see how those moves or any of the others they made this offseason work out before deciding on General Manager Rick Smith’s future with the team. The Texans have extended Smith’s contract, which was due to expire after this season, through the 2020 campaign.

“Rick’s doing a good job for us, and I think stability in the organization is important,” owner Bob McNair said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “He works hard. He’s very diligent. He communicates well. He knows what our objectives are. Rick has put together a good scouting staff, and he works well with the coaching staff. I thought this was a good time to get this done.”

Smith is the second G.M. in the history of the franchise. He succeeded Charley Casserley in 2006 and built the first Texans teams to advance to the postseason. They took a step back in 2013 and 2014 and had a rough draft in 2013 outside of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but returned to the postseason as AFC South champs last year and McNair clearly believes Smith will continue to be successful in the years to come.

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Kubiak admits the obvious: 2015 Broncos offense “did not play well at all”

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Denver Broncos  reacts against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the retirement of Peyton Manning and the departure via free agency of Brock Osweiler, the Broncos official website referred to the quality of the team’s quarterback play in 2015 as “sub-optimal” and “near-replacement-level.”

On Friday, coach Gary Kubiak didn’t use such specificity in connection with the quarterback position. But he used a broad brush to paint a not-so-flattering picture regarding the team’s offensive performance in 2015.

“We’re talking about a group,” Kubiak told reporters. “We’re not talking about a position. You go back to last year and you look at us, we finished in the middle of the pack. I think we finished 16th. Out of 12 playoff teams, I think we we’re like sixth offensively, but we feel like we did not play well at all. That tells you the standard that we have, the standard that I have and [offensive coordinator Rick Dennison] has, and what we want to do. We’ve got to improve as a team. We can’t turn the ball over as much as we did last year and we’ve got to play better up front. If we do those things with the players we’ve got, we’re going to be a better offense. That’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about a group, not a player.”

Fine, but it’s hard not to throw stones at an entire offense without hitting the former leader of it in the red splotch on his forehead. Quarterbacks get the credit when offenses thrive and the blame when they sputter. The Broncos sputtered on offense last year, and the play of Peyton Manning was a big factor in that.

This year, if the Broncos can get more out of the quarterback position, they can be better on offense and, if they perform as well as they did defensively in 2015, hoist another Lombardi Trophy.

On Friday, Mark Sanchez had the first crack at leading the first-team offense. After he threw an interception to cornerback Chris Harris Jr., however, Trevor Siemian entered and, according to Mike Klis of 9news.com, remained the No. 1 quarterback for the rest of the day.

With multiple options and no clear-cut leader at the position, that’s likely how it’s going to go. With Kubiak wanting to protect the ball, the one that does will play. Until he doesn’t, at which point someone else will play.

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Dennis Pitta: I don’t feel like I’ve lost a step

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 07: Tight end Dennis Pitta #88 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by linebacker Emmanuel Lamur #59 of the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half at M&T Bank Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Cincinnati Bengals won, 23-16. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tight end Dennis Pitta avoided a spot on the physically unable to perform list this week, leaving him eligible to take part in practices with the Ravens as they opened training camp.

Pitta didn’t practice at all last year as his twice-broken and dislocated hip was never well enough for him to get on the field. Pitta contemplated retirement in the offseason, but restructured his contract with the team in order to give it another go.

After the first two practices, Pitta told reporters that he’s not thinking about his hip unless he’s being asked about it and that he feels his chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco hasn’t suffered as a result of his long layoff.

“I don’t feel like I’ve lost a step,” Pitta said, via ESPN.com. “I don’t feel like I’m any slower or do anything different than I did a couple of years ago, in my opinion. That’s my goal. I want to be the lead guy.”

Whether he’s the lead guy at tight end or part of a group with Benjamin Watson and Maxx Williams, getting Pitta back in a form close to where he was in the past would be a big win for the Ravens offense. So far, it looks like there’s good reason for optimism about his chances of doing that.

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Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

Aldon Smith, Gatorade AP

Suspeded Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith has checked himself into an undisclosed treatment center, TMZ reported Friday.

The report comes a few days after Smith denied he had posted a video of himself and another person smoking a hand-rolled substance.

Though the video showed no faces, a voice in the video said people watching wouldn’t know it was Aldon Smith.

Smith, who was in court last month on a probation violation, also went to a rehab center in 2013 after he was twice charged with DUI.

The NFL suspended Smith for at least a year last November for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Recent reinstatements of Josh Gordon and Dion Jordan should be encouraging signs for Smith potentially getting back into the NFL, but the NFL will want to review the video and Smith’s other matters before any decision is made.

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