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Mark Dominik: Teddy Bridgewater’s problems go beyond Pro Day

Teddy Bridgewater AP

Former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s draft stock has appeared to decline dramatically in recent weeks, as a disappointing Pro Day has led to talk that he’s not the potential No. 1 overall pick that he was proclaimed to be during the 2013 season. But one NFL personnel man says that in reality, Bridgewater’s stock was never that high to begin with.

Mark Dominik, the former Buccaneers general manager who now serves as an analyst for ESPN, said on NFL Live that he doesn’t believe Bridgewater’s Pro Day is a problem so much as his skinny frame, as well as the fact that Bridgewater didn’t always look like an elite passer on tape.

“There were things you saw on tape when you watched him,” Dominik said. “Something that scouts internally, we talked about it in Tampa with Teddy Bridgewater last year. Is he really the premiere quarterback? I like the young man, I think he’s a quality individual, he’s got character and leadership and those things. But this is a quarterback, and you’re judged by what quarterback you draft, and I think Teddy Bridgewater might not have all the pieces you’re looking for.

Dominik indicated that if teams with Top 5 picks like the Texans, Jaguars and Browns are interested in Bridgewater, their interest is in hoping Bridgewater falls all the way out of the first round and is still available early in the second round. That’s a long fall from where most people thought Bridgewater would be drafted.

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Source: 49ers haven’t made decision on Aldon Smith’s option

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

On Sunday, we reported that the 49ers haven’t decided whether to pick up the 2015 option on linebacker Aldon Smith’s contract.  Since then, more pessimistic accounts have emerged.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News reported that it’s “very unlikely” the option will be exercised.  Earlier on Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN explained that the 49ers are “not expected” to extend the contract from a four-year deal to a five-year deal.

Per a league source with knowledge of the team’s thinking, however, the 49ers still haven’t made a decision.  And they don’t have to make a decision until May 3, the deadline for picking up the option.

The option-year salary of $9.75 million for Smith would be guaranteed for injury only until the first day of the 2015 league year.  At that point, it would become fully guaranteed for 2015.

Until then, the 49ers would owe Smith the money only if he suffers an injury that would render him unable to play not only this year but next year.  And if they decide to trade him at some point, the 49ers would be able to send to Smith’s new team a contract that covers more than one year.

Other than avoiding the small risk of a two-year injury, the only potential benefit of not exercising the option would be motivational.  The Lions, for instance, aren’t using it for defensive tackle Nick Fairley, in order to prompt him to play hard as he chases a long-term deal.  For Smith, who has 42 sacks in 43 career regular-season games, it’s not about on-field motivation; it’s about staying out of trouble.  The opportunity to earn $9.75 million in 2015 should provide all the motivation he needs in that regard.

Regardless, no decision has been made.  Yet.  The 49ers have roughly two weeks to deliberate.

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Manning, Gase “visit” to Saban may have violated offseason rules

Manning AP

The meeting between former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning and current Alabama coach Nick Saban will raise plenty of eyebrows among Volunteers fans who voluntarily wear on Saturdays in the fall an objectively unattractive shade of orange.

The session also should raise some eyebrows at 345 Park Avenue, for entirely different reasons.

As Saban explained it, Manning was accompanied by offensive coordinator Adam Gase.  Saban also said that Manning and Gase were “making some visits.”

“To be honest with you, [Manning] was just trying to learn so he could be a better player,” Saban said.  “I think a lot of people would say, ‘Wow, the guy is one of the best, if not the best, and certainly from a career standpoint probably about as good as anybody’s been in the history of the league.  After all the experience and knowledge that he has, he’s going out and trying to seek more knowledge and understanding of the game of football so he can play better.”

That’s admirable.  It’s also a potential CBA violation.

The new labor deal, struck in 2011, places clear limits on offseason activities.  Under Article 21, Section 2(a)(ii), players “are not permitted to participate in . . . group or individual meetings with coaches” prior to the start of the team’s official offseason workout program.

The Broncos have yet to start their official offseason program.  Gase and Manning aren’t allowed to meet.  Either Saban is lying (because “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach“), it looks like they met.

Per a league source, Saban’s characterization of Manning and Gase making arm-in-arm visits to college coaches could be incorrect.  The Manning-Gase-Saban meeting at Alabama may have happened by chance, with Manning coming in to meet Saban and Gase, who once worked for Saban, happening to be in the area at the same time.

Regardless, it appears there was a meeting between player and coach before the start of Denver’s offseason program.

The Broncos declined comment on the issue.  The NFL has not yet responded to an email message seeking confirmation that the rules prohibit meetings between players and coaches prior to the start of the team’s offseason program.

Then again, confirmation likely isn’t necessary.  The rule is clear.  In the three years since the rule was created, it’s the first time evidence has arisen of a potential violation.

UPDATE 11:27 a.m. ET:  NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy tells PFT that the league is looking into the situation.

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Colts haven’t retired No. 88, but they won’t let Nicks wear it

Marvin Harrison AP

Technically, the Colts have not retired the 88 jersey which the team’s all-time leading receiver, Marvin Harrison, wore during his 13 seasons in Indianapolis, and which Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey wore for nine seasons in Baltimore. But the Colts aren’t giving No. 88 out anymore.

That became clear when the Colts’ website announced that Hakeem Nicks, the newly arrived free agent who wore No. 88 with the Giants, will instead wear No. 14 with the Colts.

Nicks had previously said he wanted to keep wearing No. 88 but that he didn’t know if he could in Indianapolis.

“Everybody knows I love those eights on my chest, but we’ll have to see how that pans out,” Nicks said when he signed with the Colts.

The Colts are running out of numbers in the 80s, with Raymond Berry’s 82 and Gino Marchetti’s 89 both retired, and Reggie Wayne’s 87 likely to be retired some day as well. But they should also retire 88, and when they do they should honor both Harrison and Mackey.

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Arizona judge denies bail for Darren Sharper

Sharper AP

Former NFL player Darren Sharper currently has so many legal problems that even former NFL player Aaron Hernandez would say, “That guy’s got a lot of legal problems.”

Sharper’s problems became more complicated on Thursday.

Via Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today, a judge in Arizona determined on Thursday that Sharper should not be released on bail for the rape charges he’s facing in that state.  Sharper also has been accused of rape in California and Louisiana, with potential charges also in Nevada and Florida.

In Arizona, Sharper’s conduct resulted in three alleged victims, labeled as A, B, and C.

“The court finds proof evident and the presumption great that Victim B was the victim of a sexual assault committed by Mr. Sharper,” Granville said. “The court will therefore affirm the no-bond finding with respect to [sexual assault].”

The evidence consists of DNA material matching Sharper.

He currently remains in jail in California while the wheels of justice churn in three different jurisdictions.  He is expected to be tried initially in California.

Sharper played for the Packers, Vikings, and Saints.  He was a key member of the 2009 New Orleans team that won Super Bowl XLIV.  Most recently, Sharper worked as an analyst for NFL Media.  Initially suspended after the California case came to light, the league fired Sharper after an arrest warrant was issued in Louisiana.

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Report: Kaepernick, Niners contract talks on hold

Colin Kaepernick, Thomas Davis AP

The 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick have been talking about a contract extension this offseason, but those discussions have reportedly been tabled for the time being.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the reason why things have come to a halt is the incident in Miami involving Kaepernick, two other NFL players and a woman who filed a report with police saying she woke up in the hospital with no memory of how she got there. Neither Kaepernick nor anyone else has been accused of any wrongdoing and has strongly denied doing anything wrong, but things will apparently remain on hold until the police wrap up their investigation.

Rapoport also reports that the two sides were far apart in talks on a contract that Kaepernick surely wants to be among the top in the league after his first two seasons as a starting quarterback. As of now, it doesn’t look like the Miami “incident report” is going to do anything to lower his asking price so the resumption of talks may not lead to a quick resolution of Kaepernick’s contract.

Quick or not, talks should pick up once police finish their work in Miami and a Kaepernick extension is likely to remain a top order of business as long as that investigation clears him.

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Marqise Lee visits Detroit, says he’d be happy there, or anywhere

Marqise Lee AP

Former USC receiver Marqise Lee visited Detroit this week and said he had a great time getting to know the Lions’ coaching staff, saying afterward that he’d be thrilled to go there — or anywhere else.

“Think I did pretty well, left a good impression, so hopefully, at the end of the day, I end up going there. If not, wherever I end up,” Lee said. “Honestly, to tell you the truth, I’m going to be happy wherever I go down. If it’s 10, it’s 10. If it’s 29, it’s 29. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as I get the opportunity to actually go out there and play.”

Lee had a brilliant sophomore season in 2012, catching 118 catches for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns and winning the Biletnikoff Award as the best receiver in college football. If not for the NFL’s rule requiring players to be three years out of high school before they can be drafted, he probably would have been a Top 10 pick in last year’s draft.

But he struggled in 2013 after suffering an early-season knee injury, catching 57 passes for 791 yards and four touchdowns. As a result, his stock has dropped, and now he’d be seen as something of a reach if the Lions took him with their first-round pick, No. 10 overall. Lee says he’s now fully healthy, and teams should expect him to look more like he did in 2012 than in 2013.

“I’m 100 percent,” Lee said. “One of the issues I ran into, a lot of people didn’t think I was healthy, my knee issue. But before I even got started to train for the combine, I went to go see doctors, and they let me know I was going to be 100 percent and I would have no more problems with it.”

When healthy, Lee was a great player at USC. Maybe great enough that the Lions would consider him at No. 10.

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Teddy Bridgewater falls to second round in Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft

Teddy Bridgewater, Corey Jones AP

For most of the fall, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was talked about as being almost a lock to be the first quarterback selected in the NFL Draft and perhaps the first overall selection by the Houston Texans.

As the draft has drawn closer, that sentiment no longer seems to be the case. However, Bridgewater still seems likely to be one of the first few quarterbacks when the draft finally gets here on May 8. That hasn’t stopped a somewhat unexpected projected from Mel Kiper in his latest mock draft for ESPN.com on Thursday.

Kiper has Bridgewater falling out of the first round with the Houston Texans selecting him with the first pick of the second round.

Kiper’s reasoning is as follows:

“Let me be clear: This is the top-rated quarterback on my Big Board, a player I have rated higher than Bortles, Manziel or Carr,” Kiper wrote. “But my reading of the tea leaves in speaking with many evaluators around the league is that Bridgewater could drop if he slides past a couple of points early on. If I could project trades, I’d have someone taking him later in Round 1 having moved up. Obviously, he’s a steal at this point.”

Perhaps this is the tangible result of the draft being pushed back an extra two weeks. More time is available for front offices to out-think themselves or for teams to disparage a prospect in the hope he falls farther down on the draft board. It seems somewhat crazy that a quarterback some people still rank as the best in this draft could fall out of the first round based on a non-stellar pro day or workout instead of the performances at Louisville that grabbed the attention of scouts in the first place.

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Bengals, A.J. Green not talking about a new contract yet

Green Getty Images

By May 3, the Bengals inevitably will exercise the fifth-year option on receiver A.J. Green’s contract.  The bigger question is whether the Bengals will be extending Green’s contract by more than a year.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, talks on an extension for Green have not yet begun.  The fourth overall pick in 2011, Green has a strong argument that he deserves the contract now that he didn’t get three years ago under a rookie wage scale aimed at preventing busts from sucking millions out of the system.

But the Bengals hold his rights for two more years, giving them no reason to break the bank prematurely.  Even in 2016, they can use the franchise tag to hold him in place while working out a long-term deal.

Before that happens, Green could boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp.  The former isn’t very expensive; the latter would cost $30,000 per day.  For that reason, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.

Lewis said so during an interview at the recent league meetings in Orlando.  The clip that was televised Thursday on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk appears below.

Still, a holdout hasn’t been ruled out.  The source tells PFT that it’s too early to tell whether that will happen, and that the topic hasn’t been discussed yet.

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Which 2011 first-round picks won’t have the option exercised?

Jake+Locker+Tennessee+Titans+v+Houston+Texans+4hOYVTZ1882l Getty Images

With NFL teams commencing the process of exercising fifth-year options on 2011 first-round picks, the real question becomes which players won’t have the option exercised.

So here’s a look at the candidates for getting the Spalding Smails treatment.

Broncos linebacker Von Miller:  With a six-game suspension last year and a late-season torn ACL, the Broncos possibly would at least consider the possibility of not picking up the option for the second overall pick in 2011.  It nevertheless would be a major surprise if they don’t trigger the option.

49ers linebacker Aldon Smith:  The 49ers reportedly are “very unlikely” to exercise the option on the seventh overall pick, due to multiple off-field issues.  There’s still no downside to using it, since it doesn’t become fully guaranteed until March 2015.  If they’re thinking about trading him, Smith could fetch more in return if his new team controls his rights for two years.

Titans quarterback Jake Locker:  How’s this for an inconsistency?  Locker, the eighth overall pick in 2011, remains on track to be the starter in 2014.  But the Titans aren’t expected to pick up the option.  For the oft-injured Locker, it makes plenty of sense.  Why give an injury-only guarantee to a guy who seemingly has been only injured since he entered the league?  The option for a quarterback taken in the top 10 would by $13 million; that’s more than Locker will make in his first four years, combined.

49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert:  The right to exercise the option was traded to San Francisco along with Gabbert’s rookie deal as the 10th overall pick.  While they could use a little leverage in their looming negotiations with Colin Kaepernick, the notion of paying Gabbert $13 million in 2015 isn’t leverage.  It’s lunacy.

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder:  While much cheaper than Locker or Gabbert since Ponder wasn’t taken in the top 10, he’s still on the team only because his salary is low, as veteran quarterbacks go.

Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley:  The Lions already have said that the option won’t be exercised on Fairley, in order to give him incentive to play hard in 2014.  And if Fairley needs the promise of a long-term contract to play hard, why would the Lions want to give him the security of a long-term contract?

Danny Watkins:  The 23rd overall pick in the 2011 draft was waived by the Eagles last year, and his contract went unclaimed.  With that, the ability to exercise the fifth-year option died.  He currently is a free agent.

49ers receiver Jonathan Baldwin:  Amazingly, the 49ers have three players with fifth-year options, and they’ll quite possibly exercise none of them.  Baldwin arrived via trade last year in exchange for 2012 first-round bust A.J. Jenkins.  Baldwin did nothing last year to merit consideration for a fifth year on his rookie deal.

Falcons offensive lineman Gabe Carimi:  His option evaporated after Carimi’s contract went unclaimed via waivers.  He’d been cut by the Buccaneers after being traded to Tampa by Chicago.  The Falcons signed Carimi as a free agent.

Packers tackle Derek Sherrod:  The last pick in round one from 2011 has appeared in 12 games over three seasons, with zero starts.

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Sheriff confirms McNabb served one day for misdemeanor DUI

Donovan McNabb AP

Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb spent a day in jail this week as a sentence for driving under the influence.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio confirmed in a statement that McNabb was booked in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Detention facility on and was released from county jail after serving one day for a misdemeanor DUI charge.

“I have had other high profile athletes who have been incarcerated with no problems and this latest athlete follows that same pattern,” Arpaio said.

Still unexplained is how McNabb managed to be arrested in December, arraigned in January, go through pre-trial conferences in February, have change-of-plea hearings in March and spend a day in jail in April without anyone in the media hearing a thing about it until today.

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Report: Donovan McNabb was arrested for DUI, spent one day in jail

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb was arrested for driving under the influence in January, agreed to a plea deal and has already served his sentence of one day in jail, according to TMZ.

Although the arrest is months old, it went unreported until McNabb’s mug shot was released today.

There are still no details about exactly what McNabb’s plea was, and no explanation about why the arrest took so long to become public.

McNabb did not address the matter on his NBC Sports Radio show today.

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Jaguars release four, including starter Russell Allen

Buffalo Bills v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

The Jaguars were among the league’s most prolific transaction-makers a year ago, and they’re doing some more business before they start adding players again before the draft.

The team announced they had released veteran linebacker Russell Allen, and waived three other players — defensive ends Will Pericak and D’Aundre Reed and wide receiver Jabin Sambrano.

Allen had started 29 games for the Jaguars the last two seasons, and 44 total in five years with the team. The former undrafted rookie from San Diego State was scheduled to make $1.975 million this year, the final year of his contract.

He was a solid enough player for them, and they don’t exactly need the cap room, so the reason for his release is a bit unclear.

UPDATE 4:24 P.M. ET: Via Mark Long of the Associated Press, the Jaguars said Allen failed his physical. He ended last season on injured reserve because of a concussion.

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Chris Johnson disputes report of arthritis in knee

Knee Getty Images

Jets running back Chris Johnson had knee surgery earlier this year, but he nevertheless passed a physical on his way out the door in Tennessee and on his way in the door in New York.

Despite being healthy enough to play professional football, that could change in time.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Jets have “some concerns” about Johnson’s knee.  Schefter specifically reports that the knee has arthritis.  Which means that cartilage is either gone or disappearing.  Which means that Johnson could have chronic issues with the knee as his career continues.

Johnson disputed the report during his introductory conference call with the Jets.  Johnson said there’s no arthritis in his knee.

Either way, it hasn’t stopped the Jets from reportedly paying Johnson $3 million to sign.  Or from paying him another $1 million in salary this year.  But it could put a cap on the number of years that Johnson will be able to play, for the Jets or anyone.

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LaMichael James hints that he sees a trade coming

LaMichael James AP

When news broke that the 49ers are shopping running back LaMichael James, it may have come as a surprise to some. But not to James.

Shortly after the reports surfaced of the 49ers trying to trade him, James hinted in a series of messages on Twitter that he saw it coming. His first tweet after the news broke was, “When old news become new news.” He then retweeted a series of tweets from fans saying that James would benefit from a fresh start.

So it sure sounds like James will spend 2014 somewhere other than San Francisco. That’s not a big surprise, as the 49ers gave James just 12 carries last year behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, and this year they’re adding Marcus Lattimore to the mix.

The only question is where James will end up. Philadelphia is an obvious connection because Chip Kelly was James’s college coach at Oregon, but the Eagles don’t much need James, considering that they already have LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles and Bryce Brown at running back.

Perhaps some team will like James enough as a return man to give up a late-round pick for him, but it’s also possible that the 49ers won’t be able to find anyone willing to give up anything for James.

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