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Raiders move to Las Vegas not a certainty, yet

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Next week in Arizona, the NFL’s owners may vote on whether the Raiders can move from a state to the west to a state to the north. West.

Via Mark Maske of the Washington Post, an unnamed official with one team expressed an equivocal belief that the relocation petition from California to Nevada will succeed.

“I think it will be approved,” the unnamed source told Maske. “But I’m not certain yet.”

A total of 24 votes will be needed to approve the move. While no owners have spoken out against the proposal, the question becomes whether owners believe that the stadium in project in Las Vegas will be not just viable but successful. (Having a site selected and a stadium lease in place would help, too.)

Gambling hasn’t become a potential impediment, with the league apparently glossing over the challenges presented by having a group of young men living in and among an extensive network of professional gambling establishments and professional gamblers who will be tempted to try to secure inside information from players who may develop a gambling habit — and the inevitable debts that go along with it.

Still, a deal won’t be done until it’s done, and concerns arising from the prevalence of gambling could take on a life of their own once the owners are hashing out the issues in a meeting room. Hovering over the process is the possibility that Raiders owner Mark Davis will move the team with or without approval of his partners, daring the league into a repeat of the antitrust litigation arising from the relocation of the team from Oakland to Los Angeles more than three decades ago.

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Joe Mixon visits the Chargers

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The most controversial prospect in this year’s NFL draft is visiting Los Angeles.

Former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon will visit the Chargers, according to Jim Trotter of ESPN.

While at Oklahoma, Mixon brutally assaulted a woman, breaking bones in her face with a punch. When the video of that incident was released late last year, some predicted it would end Mixon’s NFL career before it started, just as the video of Ray Rice punching his wife ended his NFL career.

But NFL teams are showing interest in Mixon, with the Chargers now joining the Raiders, Broncos and Bengals as teams that have recently visited with him. More teams set up meetings with him when they visited Oklahoma to see him work out at the school’s Pro Day.

There’s significant interest from NFL teams in getting to know Mixon, who has undeniable talent. The question now isn’t whether a team will draft Mixon despite his checkered past, but just how high in the draft he could go.

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NFL is developing a player training video for celebrations

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I’m not a fan of the move to give officials discretion to determine when a celebration should be penalized for being excessive. Discretion can be exercised in inconsistent ways, resulting in 15 yards of field position being surrendered in some situations and not in others despite similar conduct.

The NFL will be attempting to minimize that outcome by ensuring that the players understand what is and isn’t allowed. As noted by NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent on Twitter, the league is developing an educational training video, with the goal of giving the players “clear examples of appropriate and inappropriate celebrations.”

That’s fine, as long as the line between what is and isn’t acceptable is clear — and as long as the game officials will know the difference and properly respect it.

Given that penalties for excessive celebrations arise from conduct happening after the play, and in light of the potential importance of a 15-yard penalty to the outcome of a game, this would be an ideal situation for the NFL to provide active, real-time video assistance in calling for a flag to be thrown or instructing the referee to pick it up. It’s not replay review per se, because it would amount to the consideration of something occurring after a play has ended.

Given that the officials are destined to make mistakes when it comes to interpreting and applying a supposedly clear standard, it’s important for the NFL to ensure that calls having nothing to do with anything that happens between the snap and the whistle are at all times accurate, especially when 15 percent of the length of the field can shift based on whether a flag is thrown.

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Kaepernick donates $50,000 to Meals on Wheels

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Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick has responded to Monday night’s verbal attack from the President not with words but with action.

Via the New York Daily News, Kaepernick has donated $50,000 to Meals on Wheels America.

Meals on Wheels has been characterized in media reports (which may not be accurate) as a potential target of the spending cuts made in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. Regardless of whether the budget will adversely affect Meals on Wheels, the perception that it will has taken root — and Kaepernick’s decision to support the program with a five-figure donation can be regarded as a direct response to Trump’s comments regarding the report that he’ll direct a “nasty tweet” at whichever team signs Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, who became a free agent 12 days ago, has remained publicly silent regarding his employment status. He nevertheless continues to be ignored during the free agency process, with no visits and no apparent interest in his services.

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Geno Smith says he’ll study everything Eli Manning does

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Geno Smith knows his place with his new team, and he’s going to make the most of it.

Smith, the backup to Eli Manning with the Giants, says he’ll use his position as Manning’s backup to make himself a better quarterback, studying everything about the way Manning approaches his job.

“I think the opportunity to learn from [quarterbacks] coach [Frank] Cignetti, coach [Ben] McAdoo, and to be alongside Eli and learn from him, a two-time Super Bowl champion and, in my opinion, a Hall of Fame quarterback,” Smith said. “I think it will work out tremendously for me. And it’s also an opportunity to be on a real good team, a winning team, get healthy – it’s just a perfect scenario for me. I couldn’t have written it up any better myself.”

Smith thinks he can be a good student and Manning can be a good teacher.

“This is definitely an opportunity for me to learn and to get better,” Smith said. “I want to carry my notepad around and whatever I see Eli doing, whether it’s in the classroom, on the field or off the field, I want to write it down. Because he’s a guy you can model yourself after. If you learn from a guy like that, we can all do a lot better.”

Smith started all 16 games as a rookie for the Jets in 2013, but things ultimately didn’t turn out well for him there, and that’s why he’s now a backup. But he’s only 26 years old and may be a starter again some day. He hopes that when that day comes, he can play like Manning.

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Dolphins sign Kiko Alonso to contract extension

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Before the Dolphins tendered linebacker Kiko Alonso as a restricted free agent, word was that the team was working to sign him to a long-term extension that would eliminate any possibility of Alonso’s departure this offseason.

They’ve accomplished that mission. According to multiple reports, the Dolphins and Alonso have agreed on an extension running through the 2020 season. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports the total value at $28.8 million and Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post reports that there is $18.5 million in guaranteed money.

Alonso arrived in Miami in a trade with the Eagles last year and started 15 games while helping the Dolphins make the playoffs. He had 115 tackles, a forced fumble and returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown over the course of the regular season and added six tackles in the team’s playoff loss to the Steelers.

The Dolphins have added Lawrence Timmons to the linebacker mix this offseason, so they may alter how they use Alonso after he played in the middle of the defense last year. Wherever he goes on the field, it should be a while before he’s wearing a different uniform.

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Lingering pain led to Cam Newton decision to have surgery

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The Panthers were hoping to avoid surgery on their MVP quarterback.

But as weeks of rehab passed and Cam Newton was still having pain after his Week 14 shoulder injury, they decided they couldn’t wait any longer.

Panthers head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion told the team’s official website that as they started ramping up Newton’s throwing in recent weeks, he started to have more pain in his right (throwing) shoulder.

“We developed a plan for Cam to take a period of rest, a period of rehabilitation and treatment, and then start a gradual throwing program the first part of March,” Vermillion said. “Cam started his program, and the early parts of his rehab had been going well. However, as we worked to advance him into the next stage – the strengthening stage, the throwing stage – he started to have an increase in his pain level and started having pain while throwing.

“As a result, Dr. Pat Connor (head team physician) felt the most prudent procedure would be to arthroscopically repair the shoulder.”

Newton continued to play after the injury which came against the Chargers, though the Panthers were well out of playoff contention and other players such as linebacker Luke Kuechly were held out after being cleared.

Vermillion said Newton will begin throwing 12 weeks after surgery, and could start throwing with the team at 16 weeks. That makes the beginning of training camp a possibility if everything goes according to schedule, but also leaves a major unaswered question for a team in some state of offensive flux.

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Cam Newton will be held out of OTAs after shoulder surgery

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Panthers coach Ron Rivera said at the Scouting Combine that quarterback Cam Newton didn’t need offseason surgery after taking a horrible beating last year, and playing through a shoulder problem.

But they’re going to give him some more time to recover just to be careful.

Via Max Henson of the team’s official website, head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion said Newton would be among the players who would be held out of OTAs.

Newton was limited by a shoulder problem late last season, but Rivera said the issue would resolve itself with rehab and strengthening. He also said Newton was playing a little heavier last year (though the knee and ankle injuries he played through might have played into that).

Ordinarily, a veteran quarterback and former MVP missing time in May wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But at a time when the Panthers want to “evolve” their offense (or not, depending on who you ask), having their offensive leader off the field is at least a bit of an issue.

The Panthers have Derek Anderson and Joe Webb on hand to handle the offseason work in Newton’s absence.

UPDATE 2:58 p.m. ET: Newton will actually have surgery on his throwing shoulder next week, which is a good reason for the absence.

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Marshawn Lynch’s agent: He misses football, but no idea what he’ll do

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The prospect of running back Marshawn Lynch returning to the NFL has been a hot topic for the last few days as a result of reports indicating that the Raiders might want to add him to their roster.

There are plenty of steps that have to be taken before that can happen with Lynch making it clear that he wants to return after a one-year absence from the league at the top of the list. Analyzing social media posts won’t get that done and Lynch’s agent Doug Hendrickson said during an interview on KNBR Tuesday that he’s not sure what Lynch is thinking about a comeback despite the running back’s love for the game.

“Well in all sincerity, Marshawn’s been in Canada,” Hendrickson said. “I’m due to see him this week. So he and I have not spoken about this at all. So it was the media who took the ball and kind ran with it. He’s one of the most unique guys I’ve ever been with in my life. Marshawn, it wouldn’t shock me in three days if he says, ‘Hey, I want to play.’ It wouldn’t shock me if he says, ‘Nah, I don’t know where this came from. I don’t want to play.’ He doesn’t spend any of the money he’s made. He’s got a lot of money. He does miss football, no question. He loves the game of football. He’s 30. But until I meet with him this week, you know, I don’t know what his mindset is. He’s the kind of guy that can shift by the hour.”

If Lynch does want to return to play for the Raiders, he’ll need the Seahawks to either trade his rights or release him so he can sign with Oakland as a free agent.

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Steelers agree to deal with Tyson Alualu

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The Steelers weren’t a major buyer in the early days of free agency and opened business on Monday with only one player signed from outside the organization.

They’ve made up for lost time in the last 24 hours or so. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports that the team has agreed to terms on a two-year deal with defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, who becomes the third player they’ve signed in the last two days.

Alualu visited with the team on Monday and will likely play behind starters Cameron Heyward, Javon Hargrave and Stephon Tuitt on the defensive line in Pittsburgh. The 10th overall pick of the 2010 draft started 87 games for the Jaguars over his first seven NFL seasons.

The Steelers signed running back Knile Davis and cornerback Coty Sensabaugh to kick off their buying spree on Monday. Wide receiver Justin Hunter is the other free agent brought in from outside this month.

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Jim Harbaugh tells NFL teams Colin Kaepernick can be great

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The coach who went to a Super Bowl with Colin Kaepernick thinks another team could get to the Super Bowl with Kaepernick, if he gets the chance.

Jim Harbaugh said on PFT Live that Kaepernick, whom he coached in San Francisco, still has all the tools he displayed when he took the league by storm in his first year as a starter. Harbaugh said NFL teams have reached out to ask his opinion of Kaepernick, and Harbaugh tells them they should sign him.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh said he thinks NFL teams aren’t as patient as they need to be in developing quarterbacks, and he thinks a smart team will take the time to work with Kaepernick to make the most of his physical tools. That team, Harbaugh believes, will win multiple Super Bowls.

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships,” Harbaugh said.

Now the question is whether any team will give Kaepernick that chance.

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Brandon Carr says he never seriously considered retiring

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In the moments after losing to the Packers in the playoffs, former Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr wondered aloud how long he intended to play.

But after joining the Ravens, Carr said it was nothing more than momentary frustration, and that he’s excited to begin his new chapter.

“I just basically said, nine years [of playing in the NFL], and my question to [the media] was: How long is a career?” Carr said, via Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun. “And they run with it whichever way they want to run with it, but it probably lasted about 17 seconds, and then you get it out of your system. It was a tough loss.”

The manner and timing of the loss was particularly difficult for the top-seeded Cowboys, whose season of surprising good fortune unraveled with an Aaron Rodgers drive and a game-winning Mason Crosby field goal as time expired. Carr admitted that took a toll on him, but said he looked forward to joining a group that added safety Tony Jefferson to an already talented core of cornerback Jimmy Smith and safety Eric Weddle.

“I think we have a special group here,” Carr said. “The secondary and the moves they made before me committing was really another deciding factor in me coming. Just seeing the thought process and just seeing what was coming to fruition with the guys they were bringing on the back end and the emphasis they put on skilled play on the back end. I just hope I can come in and still be consistent, durable, make a lot of plays, and we can have incredible chemistry and do some great things this year.”

And while the story of the veteran cornerback possibly walking away created a bit of a stir in Dallas, it’s yet another reminder (cough, Ben Roethlisberger, cough) to not attach too much importance to the things tired, frustrated players say immediately after a long season ends.

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Jim Harbaugh visits PFT Live on Tuesday

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At a time when the lingering free agency of quarterback Colin Kaepernick has become one of the hottest topics in the NFL, the man who got the most out of Kaepernick will be chiming in on Kaepernick’s abilities.

Former 49ers coach and current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh joins PFT Live on Tuesday morning at 8:35 a.m. ET.

Harbaugh was able to do with Kaepernick what none of the 49ers coaches since Harbaugh’s departure were able to replicate — devising plays and game plans that maximized Kaepernick’s strengths and minimized his limitations. In an industry where the coaches have confidence levels that border on (and sometimes cross into) delusion, it’s amazing that no other coach thinks he could do with Kaepernick what Harbaugh did.

Of course, it’s possible that one or more coaches want to try, and that they’re being kept from doing so by owners who are concerned about the impact of Kaepernick’s politics on the bottom line — or who simply don’t what Kaepernick around due to his politics.

So is it more football than politics, or more about politics than football, keeping Kaepernick unemployed? Cast a vote below, drop a comment if you choose, and tune in to PFT Live, which gets rolling at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with a simulcast beginning at 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

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Mexican media company apologizes for theft of Tom Brady jersey

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OEM, the largest newspaper company in Mexico, has apologized after one of its former employees was identified as the suspect in the theft of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl LI jersey.

In a statement written in Spanish, OEM said the employee, Martin Mauricio Ortega Camberos, resigned from the newspaper La Prensa on March 14 for personal reasons. At the time, the company says, it had no knowledge of Ortega being a suspect in the jersey theft.

“We are surprised and disappointed to receive today the allegations of the behavior of Martin Mauricio Ortega Camberos on February 5 inside the NRG stadium in Houston, where Super Bowl LI was played,” said the statement, which PFT has translated. “La Prensa, if the accusation is true, fully condemns the behavior of Martin Mauricio Ortega Camberos, who took advantage of his position and used La Prensa to access the field, press conferences and other areas of NRG Stadium.”

Although Ortega has not been formally charged, the company issued an apology.

“Without commenting on the truth of the allegations,” the statement said, “La Prensa offers a public apology to our readers and the Mexican society.”

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Donald Trump calls out Colin Kaepernick, again

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As free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick continues to wait for the phone to ring, his ears may have been burning.

Speaking at a rally in Louisville on Monday night, President Donald Trump took a shot at Kaepernick, who became a polarizing figure last year for not standing for the National Anthem.

“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback,” Trump said, via TMZ. “I’m sure nobody ever heard of him. I’m just reporting the news. There was an article today — I love to report the news and then they said I made a mistake, right? I said, ‘No, the people reporting the news made a mistake if it’s wrong.’ But there was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of the Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

The report President Trump refers to emerged Friday, via Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report. Quoting an unnamed AFC General Manager, Freeman explained Kaepernick’s ongoing unemployment by pointing out that “some teams . . . think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team.”

These concerns overlook the fact that Kaepernick will no longer sit or kneel for the National Anthem. But that doesn’t matter; Kaepernick already is notorious among folks like those who attended Monday night’s rally and elsewhere as grossly unpatriotic.

And while President Trump seemed to be laughing off the report that he’d direct a “nasty tweet” to the owner of the team that signs Kaepernick, President Trump said nothing to suggest that he wouldn’t. If anything, the derisive reference to Kaepernick not standing for the Anthem proves that, if/when someone signs him, President Trump will have something to say about it.

In 140 characters or less.

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