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Charles Woodson lands in Keyshawn’s seat at ESPN

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When word emerged that ESPN would part ways with Keyshawn Johnson after nine years with Sunday NFL Countdown, it was believed they already knew who would take his place. And Charles Woodson was believed to be on the short list.

He was. And he’s now on the even shorter list. Woodson has the job, according to Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead.com.

The 1997 Heisman winner (beating out the likes of Peyton Manning and Randy Moss), Woodson retired last month after 18 NFL seasons with the Raiders, Packers, and Raiders again.

Per McIntyre, Woodson will join the current cast of Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Mike Ditka, and Cris Carter. However, many in the industry expect the lineup to last only one year, with even more changes coming in 2017 as the network tries to unload bloated salaries and simultaneously skew younger.

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NFL fines Aqib Talib $26,044 for Super Bowl personal fouls

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after defeating the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 24-10.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib got two personal fouls in Super Bowl 50, and the NFL has fined him for both of them.

Talib was fined a total of $26,044 for facemasking and taunting against the Panthers.

The NFL suspended Talib during the regular season for an eye poke, and he’s lucky he wasn’t suspended again for his Super Bowl actions. The facemasking foul was especially egregious, and Talib admitted after the game that he did it on purpose, figuring that since the penalty was at the 3-yard line, the half the distance to the goal line penalty wouldn’t be a big deal.

When it comes to on-field misconduct, Talib is a repeat offender. The NFL will be watching him closely in 2016, and further offenses may result in another suspension.

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Sean Payton: Jahri Evans was an integral part of our success

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 13:  Guard Jahri Evans #73 of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field following the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the Saints 31-19.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

We’ve known for a few days that guard Jahri Evans won’t be back with the Saints in 2016, but the team didn’t officially announce his departure until Friday.

The statement about the release is headed with a message of thanks on the Saints website along with a list of Evans’ accomplishments while he was a member of the team. It also includes praise from General Manager Mickey Loomis, who said Evans was “one of the best guards” in the league over his time with the team, and coach Sean Payton.

“Jahri has been a fantastic player for our team and an integral part of our success over the last 10 years,” Payton said in the statement. “He’s one of the toughest and smartest players I have ever been around in coaching and that coupled with his unselfishness and dependability made him one of the most respected players in our locker room. When we arrived in 2006, he was a part of our first draft class, which became the foundation for our 2009 championship team.”

Evans’ agent says his client wouldn’t take a pay cut to remain with the team and is “healthy and hungry” to move on to another team for the 2016 season.

In addition to formalizing the Evans move, the Saints announced the previously reported departures of linebacker David Hawthorne, linebacker Ramon Humber and wide receiver Seantavius Jones. They also announced that they have re-signed cornerback Tony Carter and fullback Austin Johnson. Both ended the season with the team, although Carter didn’t play after signing in December.

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Jay Bromley won’t face charges after attempted rape accusation

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 07:  Jay Bromley #96 watches from the sideline during the second half of a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 7, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

Giants defensive tackle Jay Bromley became the subject of a police investigation late last month after he was accused of attempting to rape a woman in a New York City hotel.

The investigation began when a woman allegedly performed a sex act in the hotel room before things went south when she claimed Bromley tried to do more than he had agreed to pay for before they met. Bromley denied the charges and said that he was the subject of an attempted shakedown by the woman, who he met on social media. The incident ended with the woman reportedly jumping on the hood of Bromley’s car after being denied a ride and getting thrown off when Bromley drove away.

Bromley won’t end up facing any charges. A New York City police official told the New York Daily News there was “no criminality.”

“As we stated from the outset, the allegations against Mr. Bromley were completely false,” Bromley’s lawyer Alex Spiro said. “Today, Mr. Bromley has been officially cleared of all wrongdoing. We are thankful to law enforcement for their efforts, and are hopeful that the focus can now return to Jay Bromley’s remarkable story.”

Bromley, a 2014 third-round pick, is heading into his third season with the Giants.

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Philly mayor wants to put LeSean McCoy in the slammer

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After former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress put a bullet through his own leg in a Manhattan club, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg publicly declared a desire to put Plaxico in the “slammer.” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney now wants to do the same thing to former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, absent such colorful language.

In an interview with CBS Philly, Kenney criticized McCoy, who now plays for the Bills, for the alleged beating of a pair of off-duty police officer.

“In addition to punches being thrown, there were some kicks that looked as if they were being leveled and that’s unconscionable and it’s cowardly,” Kenney said. “If [McCoy] wants to stomp our officers and pound our officers, then he needs to pay the price and answer for his actions.”

With all due respect to Mayor Kenney, he should butt out of this one. The case could be headed for a jury that is supposed to be fair and impartial. His comments will make it harder to ensure that a juror will not disregard McCoy’s presumption of innocence.

Also, Kenney’s comments assume (perhaps incorrectly) that McCoy knew he was fighting police officers. While it makes no difference if the victim is or isn’t a member of the police force, Kenney’s comments create the impression that McCoy decided to bully a guy who was whistling while he walked a beat on Broad St.

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Packers extend Letroy Guion

Letroy Guion AP

The Packers’ priority in free agency is always signing their own free agents before looking at players from other teams, and they’ve taken that approach again.

Green Bay and defensive tackle Letroy Guion have agreed in principle to a three-year, $11.25 million deal, Adam Caplan of ESPN reports.

Guion is actually rare on the Packers’ roster in that he wasn’t drafted by the team: He was drafted by the Vikings in 2008 and signed with the Packers only in 2014. But he has played well enough in his two years in Green Bay that the team wants to keep him around.

The Packers’ devotion to Guion comes despite his off-field problems. Guion copped a plea after facing drug and weapons charges, and he also reportedly had a domestic violence charge. He missed the first three games of last season while serving an NFL suspension.

But Guion is back now, and both sides hope he’ll be with the Packers for at least three more years.

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Burfict’s suspension is second-longest ever for on-field actions

A. Haynesworth J. Fisher Getty Images

The news that Vontaze Burfict has lost his appeal of his three-game suspension means that Burfict will serve the second-longest suspension in NFL history for an on-field action.

All of the NFL’s most lengthy suspensions have been for misconduct away from the field, like failing a drug test or gambling on games. The longest suspension ever for an on-field incident came when Albert Haynesworth was suspended Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was suspended five games for stomping on the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode in 2006. That suspension came only a month after Roger Goodell was named commissioner, and it announced that Goodell would have a different approach to league discipline.

Since then, only two players have received a suspension longer than one game for an on-field infraction: Ndamukong Suh for stomping on Evan Dietrich-Smith, and Brandon Meriweather for multiple helmet-to-helmet hits.

The length of Burfict’s suspension comes as a result of his status as a repeat offender, as well as (though the league wouldn’t admit this) the fact that his violations came during a high-profile playoff game. Burfict is now the second player in NFL history to be suspended more than two games for an on-field action.

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Joe Thomas says it’s a “sad end” for Johnny Manziel in Cleveland

Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas celebrates after a 24-6 win over the Detroit Lions in a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) AP

Johnny Manziel will no longer be a part of the Cleveland Browns organization. At this point it’s just a matter of time.

Even teammates understand the end is near for Manziel.

It’s a sad end to the story in Cleveland for Johnny,” Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “He’s a guy that personally I like. I believe he has a lot of talent. He’s got the talent to be an NFL quarterback, but it obviously hasn’t worked out so far.”

Manziel’s tenure with the Browns has been a near total disaster. Uneven play on the field and numerous incidents off of it have expedited his end in Cleveland. Manziel showed the occasional flash that would bring renewed promise over what he potentially could become. But it became clear he was incapable of getting out of his own way.

The official end is the only thing left between the Browns and Manziel.

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Hasselbeck is “strongly leaning” toward playing again

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A quarterback who’ll turn 40 next month apparently is leaning toward retiring. A quarterback who’ll turn 41 later this year is leaning toward not retiring.

Colts quarterback Matthew Hasselbeck, who started eight games in 2015, could be back again in 2016.

“I haven’t really I guess made up my mind completely on it,” Hasselbeck told Brock & Salk of ESPN 710 in Seattle. “You’ve kind of got to count the cost of what it would mean, what you’re saying ‘yes’ to and what you’re saying ‘no’ to. My kids are getting older. But all in all I would say I’m strongly leaning toward playing again, and we’ll see.”

By thinking about playing past his 41st birthday, Hasselbeck may be creating the impression that he plans to play as long as possible. But he said that’s not the case.

“I’m not trying to play as long as I can,” Hasselbeck said. “I decided [that] I’m gonna play for five surgeries. That was like my mindset. Like five years or five surgeries. And I’ve only had one surgery in my entire life. I think it was a bad way to set a goal. I’m not sure.”

It’s not sure that the Colts want Hasselbeck, even if he chooses to play. Hasselbeck is due to become a free agent in March. Still, without enough competent quarterbacks to go around, someone will want him, if the Colts don’t.

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Raiders announce one-year lease to remain in Oakland

Mark Davis Getty Images

For at least one more year, the Raiders will remain in Oakland.

The Raiders announced today that they have agreed to a one-year lease extension to play at O.co Coliseum for the 2016 season. The agreement includes an additional two years of team options, giving the Raiders the choice to play at the Coliseum in 2017 and 2018 as well.

Raiders owner Mark Davis called the deal a “win-win situation” and said he’s optimistic that a deal can get worked out that will keep the Raiders in Oakland. The Raiders have hired real estate executive Larry MacNeil, who helped the 49ers with their move into Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, to help the Raiders negotiate a deal for a new stadium in Oakland.

“It gives us an opportunity to work on a permanent facility here in Oakland,” Davis said. “It gives us some certainty for this season as well as flexibility for the next two seasons. . . . My heart is here in Oakland.”

As they attempt to encourage more Bay Area fans to support them in Oakland, the Raiders have also announced that they will not raise season ticket prices.

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Announcement of new Raiders lease expected at 6:00 p.m. ET

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 12:  A general view during the Oakland Raiders game against the San Diego Chargers at O.co Coliseum on October 12, 2014 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders didn’t have a lease to play in Oakland or anywhere else for 2016. They apparently have one now.

It’s believed the Raiders and the Joint Powers Authority will announce at a press conference to be held at 6:00 p.m. ET that the Raiders have reached a deal to remain at the O.Co Coliseum for 2016.

The Raiders had no other options for the coming season. The broader question is whether the Raiders and the powers-that-be within the Joint Powers Authority will strike a deal to build a new stadium, or whether the Raiders will move elsewhere. Last week, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf explained that her goal was to first get a lease in place with the Raiders and then to come up with a long-term stadium solution.

Potential options for the Raiders, if not in Oakland, include Los Angeles, San Antonio, San Diego (if the Chargers leave for L.A.), and Las Vegas. The possibility of the Raiders playing in Sacramento or sharing a stadium with the San Francisco Giants (not the 49ers, the Giants) also has been floated.

The most obvious solution — sharing a venue with the 49ers — continues to be at the bottom of the list.

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Bob McNair: No reason Texans wouldn’t be able to draft a quarterback

MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 17:  Paxton Lynch #12 of the Memphis Tigers throws a pass during a game against the Ole Miss Rebels at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Memphis, Tennessee.  The Tigers defeated the Rebels 37-24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last month, Texans owner Bob McNair said that the team was working on ways to improve at quarterback this offseason and the topic was on his mind again on Thursday.

McNair was at an event for the Houston Super Bowl committee to discuss the road to Super Bowl LI next year and the discussion turned at one point to what the Texans would have to do to play the game in their home stadium. McNair pointed out that the Broncos “did it with defense” and said that he thought his team needed a reliable quarterback who “won’t take anything away from us” in order to have a shot at following in Denver’s footsteps.

That quarterback could come to town via the draft. McNair sounded like he expects to see the team use a draft pick on a signal caller later this year.

“There are a number of quarterbacks out there, college quarterbacks coming out and I think we have a good chance at getting one of them,” McNair said, via the Houston Chronicle. “There are four or five of them who look like they have enough talent and size and athletic ability. I don’t know any reason why we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

While drafting a quarterback won’t guarantee the Texans reliable play or the improvement they’d need to make it to the Super Bowl, it’s hard to argue with Houston going that route if there’s a player they think can be a starter in Bill O’Brien’s offense. Brian Hoyer isn’t going to be a long-term answer at the position and Tom Savage, a fourth-round pick in 2014, hasn’t played enough for the Texans to know what they have with him.

That leaves them without the solution they need at quarterback and, as McNair mentioned, no reason not to extend their search into this year’s draft class.

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C.J. Anderson knows he can be a bell cow back

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At no point during the 2015 regular season did Broncos running back C.J. Anderson carry the ball more than 15 times. In the Super Bowl, he had 23 carries and four receptions for a total of 100 yards from scrimmage.

Did that make him think he can do that job more frequently?

“Oh, I know that’s something I can do,” Anderson said during a visit to Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “You know, we chose to go the two-back route and we chose to split time with me and Ronnie [Hillman] and just try to get a change of pace. You know, keep defenses off balance. But I mean if they want me to touch the ball 25 times, 27 times, 28 times, either way whether it’s all carries or carries and catches I believe I can handle it always, whether it’s being a third-down back catching the ball out of the backfield or picking up the blitz and also being first- and second-down just every-down back.”

Anderson, the unsung hero of Super Bowl 50, had 90 yards rushing, including a 34-yard burst punctuated by his ability to shake off Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. Anderson also scored Denver’s only offensive touchdown. Unlike defensive lineman Malik Jackson, who scored the other touchdown for the Broncos, Anderson didn’t through the ball into the stands.

He could have more footballs to add to the collection, if Sunday’s performance is a sign of things to come.

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Report: No decision on LeSean McCoy charges expected Thursday

LeSean McCoy AP

Bills running back LeSean McCoy is waiting to find out what, if any, criminal charges he’ll be facing as a result of a fight at a Philadelphia nightclub over the weekend.

According to a report from Mark Schwartz of ESPN, those charges aren’t likely to come on Thursday. Schwartz, quoting a “high-ranking Philadelphia police official,” reports that prosecutors want to be thorough in their evaluation of the police report and other evidence before making a decision about how to proceed.

Reports on Wednesday indicated that police recommended to prosecutors that McCoy be charged with aggravated assault when they handed the case over. Two off-duty police officers went to the hospital after a fight over a bottle of champagne with four other men, one of whom is believed to be McCoy.

ESPN also reports that attorney Jack McMahon told them that he is no longer representing McCoy. McMahon said that McCoy will now be represented by Larry Krasner, another Philadelphia attorney, in matters related to the incident.

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Blandino, Blakeman inconsistent on Cotchery catch ruling

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Referee Clete Blakeman stands on the field in the first quarter between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The most controversial call of Super Bowl 50 happened in the first quarter, when Panthers receiver Jericho Cotchery bobbled a ball on the way to the ground. The officials on the field ruled it incomplete, and referee Clete Blakeman, with the assistance of NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino, ruled on instant replay that the call on the field would stand.

Blakeman made it clear in announcing the ruling that the replay did not confirm the call on the field, only that the call stands. That meant there was no conclusive view of the play that could show definitively that Cotchery always had his hands between the ball and the ground, and so the Panthers would lose their challenge.

NFL Films has now shown the footage of Blakeman’s review and his subsequent discussion with Panthers coach Ron Rivera, and the discussion makes clear that Blakeman did not feel there was a definitive replay angle.

“We’re gonna go stands,” Blakeman said. “There was not enough confirmation. We couldn’t overturn it.”

Rivera asked Blakeman, “If you’d called it complete, it would have stayed complete, right?” Blakeman answered, “Yes.”

But that doesn’t quite align with Blandino’s explanation. Blandino wrote on Twitter that “the ball touched the ground and slid up his body. Not enough evidence to change the call on the field.”

If Blandino is sure that the ball touched the ground, then Blakeman should have explained to Rivera that the ball touched the ground. Instead, Blakeman just said that there was no definitive replay angle. At the end of a season in which officials, players, coaches, fans and reporters all struggled to figure out what constitutes a catch, the NFL struggled to explain why Cotchery’s catch was not a catch.

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