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Tom Brady: It’s been such an enjoyable offseason

Tom Brady AP

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has not spoken much publicly since the release of the Ted Wells report in May, making a paid appearance at Salem State University just after the report was released and otherwise keeping his thoughts to himself.

Brady was back in front of a microphone on Tuesday night when the Patriots gathered for a gala supporting the team’s charitable foundation at Gillette Stadium. Brady took part in a panel discussion moderated by former Patriot and current radio voice Scott Zolak with a few teammates. There wasn’t any detailed discussion of the report or of Judge Richard Berman’s pending decision in the court case challenging Brady’s four-game suspension, although Brady’s reference was clear when he responded to Zolak’s question about something fun he did this offseason.

“Yeah, it’s been such an enjoyable offseason,” Brady said, via the Boston Herald.

It wasn’t Brady’s only quip of the night. He also compared talking to young teammates to talking to his kids because you have to repeat things over and over again until the information sinks in. That left owner Robert Kraft to directly address Deflategate as the most “overblown” story in recent history as we draw closer to finding out what Berman rules regarding Brady’s punishment almost eight months after the AFC Championship game.

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Barkley, Tebow competing in final preseason game

Matt Barkley, Tim Tebow AP

The final week of the preseason is mostly garbage, as teams rest their starters and give ample playing time to scrubs who are going to get cut the next day. But in Philadelphia, plenty of people will be watching the final preseason game to see the battle for the third-string quarterback job.

Matt Barkley will start for the Eagles on Thursday night and play the first half, and Tim Tebow will play the second half. The plan is that one of them will be the third-string quarterback behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez, while the other will get cut.

Neither player has been particularly impressive in the first three preseason games. Barkley’s passer rating is 66.6; Tebow’s is 67.2. Barkley, however, said he thinks he can show something off as a starter.

I’ll be excited – first start,” Barkley said. “Excited to get in a rhythm early on, get my feet going, get the ball moving. . . . I don’t feel any pressure at all. I don’t think it’s anything but just an exciting opportunity. I’ve been in this place to impress.”

Tebow, who has run for 50 yards on 10 carries in the preseason, is not much of a passer but may be able to use his mobility to make the Eagles’ roster. He says he’s striving to be a good teammate to Barkley even as the two of them realize that they’re trying to beat each other out.

“You’re competing for something, but at the same time, you want to do it the right way,” Tebow said. “You want to treat others the way you want to be treated the entire time – no matter what’s on the line, no matter what’s it stake. Because opportunities and positions are never more important than character.”

It’s entirely possible that neither Barkley nor Tebow will get any playing time for the Eagles this season. But one of them will likely make the roster, and that makes their Thursday night game interesting. At least by the standards of a Week Four preseason game.

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Hard Knocks goes inside Mallett’s rough week

San Francisco 49ers v Houston Texans Getty Images

It’s safe to assume Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett won’t be utilizing the ‘save forever’ function on his DVR when it comes to the fourth episode of the HBO series Hard Knocks: Houston Texans, which aired Tuesday night.

Eight days after Mallett was informed he’d lost the training camp battle for the Texans’ starting job and five days after he overslept and missed a practice, Mallett’s rough week was featured by Hard Knocks producers.

A longer version of the previous episode’s scene featuring Texans coach Bill O’Brien informing Mallett and Brian Hoyer of his decision to name Hoyer the starter aired this week. After O’Brien left the room, cameras showed Texans offensive coordinator George Godsey addressing both quarterbacks about the need to stay ready and do whatever is asked to help the team.

When Godsey finished talking, Mallett left the room without acknowledging Hoyer or Godsey.

Fast forward 20 or so minutes in another strong Hard Knocks episode and the reports that Mallett overslept last Thursday are confirmed. In one scene O’Brien is shown on the practice field telling a team security official not to check on Mallet and to call back a team official who’d been dispatched to check on him.

“I wouldn’t even try to call him,” cameras caught O’Brien saying. “Just let it go. He’s 27 years old. Tell Khalil (Reed, listed on the Texans’ website as a security and player engagement manager) to stop. He doesn’t need to do that s–t. Turn around and come back. F–k that.”

In the next scene Mallett is shown entering the office of general manager Rick Smith and discussing his missed practice.

“My phone turned off, man,” Mallett said. “I’m not about to (lie) or bulls–t you like that. I made a mistake. The timing f—–g looks so great. I went and got a battery alarm clock so it won’t happen again. I can’t even explain…when I woke up I was like, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me.'”

Mallett told Smith multiple times he wasn’t mad about being named the backup and that he just picked the wrong day to have his phone go dead.

After Smith told Mallett he needed to “take ownership,” Mallett responded by saying, “No question. I am not blaming technology. I didn’t get up. I’m not trying to make excuses to you, to Bill, to anybody. You don’t gotta worry about that s–t no more.”

Said Smith: “That’s a strong statement there. We need that consistency. We have to know we can count on you. If you need something, come holler at me. You can come here (any time).”

As the scene ends, Mallett tells Smith he’s been “feeling awkward just walking around the building.”

Maybe the HBO cameras made it worse.

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Fred Jackson says Doug Whaley wasn’t honest

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Getty Images

A couple of unnamed sources have claimed Bills G.M. Doug Whaley “went rogue” in cutting running back Fred Jackson. Jackson has an even stronger assessment of Whaley.

“There’s only one person in that organization that I haven’t gotten honesty from, and that was [Whaley],” Jackson told the Buffalo News, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com.

“It was a tough pill to swallow, especially because I felt like I can still contribute,” Jackson said. “They gave me a shot. I’ll always be happy about that, but . . . they closed the door on me playing there, too.”

Jackson leaves as the third leading rushing in team history, behind Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson.

Whaley explained the decision to reporters on Monday, but Whaley’s comments had little meat. PFT reported that Jackson would have “done anything” to remain with the team, including taking less money. The Bills didn’t give Jackson that option.

If the Bills get back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999, the incident likely will be forgotten by January. If, however, the Bills make it 16 straight years without a postseason berth, more than a few fans may be thinking of Jackson’s release when developing opinions on whether a new G.M. is needed.

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Report: Bills G.M. “went rogue” in cutting Fred Jackson

Terry Pegula, Doug Whaley, Rex Ryan, AP

As the Bills move on from running back Fred Jackson, it’s possible that the move resulted from the actions of one specific person in the organization.

Citing two unnamed sources, Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reports that Bills G.M. Doug Whaley “went rogue” in cutting the veteran tailback.

As a source with knowledge of the situation explained it to PFT on Monday, it’s believed Whaley had wanted to cut Jackson since March, and that Whaley preferred Bryce Brown to Jackson. As PFT reported on Wednesday, Jackson would have “done anything” to stay with the team, but he never got the chance to take a pay cut or to make other concessions.

Graham says that the team will remain unified in any public comments on the situation. Privately, however, it’s hard not to wonder whether Whaley may have put even more pressure on himself by taking matters with Jackson into his own hands.

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Feely did indeed tell Judge Berman about the Jets K ball incident

Feely Getty Images

Last night, PFT surmised that free-agent kicker Jay Feely may have told Judge Richard M. Berman about the 2009 incident involving a Jets kicking ball during Feely’s unexpected trip to court in his capacity as a member of the NFL Players Association’s Executive Committee.

As it turns out, Feely did.

Appearing on The Doug Gottlieb Show, Feely said that he explained to Judge Berman the situation arising from a Jets-Patriots game.

“We talked about the similarities in that case and the differences in the way the NFL responded,” Feely said. “I didn’t get in trouble. I had no culpability in that case.”

As the kicker, Feely presumably would have been at least “generally aware” of the use of an unapproved piece of equipment by a Jets equipment employee, who was suspended as a result of the incident. But Feely was neither questioned nor disciplined.

It’s an important point, because the failure to investigate or to discipline Feely under similar circumstances shows that the NFL may have been acting arbitrarily in Brady’s case.

By Friday, we’ll find out whether Judge Berman agrees.

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Rex Ryan promises Buffalo is his last coaching job

Buffalo Bills v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

Football coaches usually don’t stay in one place for long, but Rex Ryan is hoping he has several good years ahead of him in Buffalo. Because after he’s done coaching the Bills, that’s it.

Ryan told USA Today that he’s all done in coaching after he’s done with the Bills, so whatever goals he still has as a coach, he needs to accomplish them in Buffalo.

This is definitely going to be it,” Ryan said. “This is my last stop in coaching, and then when my days are up, I’ll turn it over to the younger generation. I’m not going anywhere else.”

The 52-year-old Ryan is young enough that he could have many years ahead of him: He’s a decade younger than Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick, and a decade and a half younger than Tom Coughlin. But Ryan insists any years he has left in coaching will be with the Bills.

“I got news for you: I’m not changing. I’m going to be myself. I don’t care if you like it, or you dislike it. This is who I am,” Ryan said.

And he’ll keep being who he is in Buffalo, and then end his coaching career.

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Judge Berman “anticipates” Brady ruling by end of the week

Roger Goodell AP

On Monday, Judge Richard Berman said that he fully expected to issue a ruling in the Tom Brady case on Tuesday or Wednesday.

It’s after 5 p.m. on Tuesday in New York and there’s been no ruling issued yet, so it seems unlikely to be delivered on September 1. September 2 may not be the day either based on an order issued by Berman on Tuesday afternoon.

“The Court anticipates issuing its Decision and Order by the end of the week,” Berman wrote, via Bob McGovern of the Boston Herald.

That leaves more time to go over the potential rulings that Berman could make and the responses that the NFL and/or Brady could have to those rulings, although it’s probably safe to say that just about everything that could be said about the case, the suspension, the meaning of the nickname “Deflator,” courtroom sketch artists and the Ideal Gas Law has already been said at this point.

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Texans owner says J.J. Watt wouldn’t destroy his phone like Brady

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Getty Images

Texans owner Bob McNair puts the blame for Deflategate squarely on Tom Brady, saying that if Brady would have cooperated with the NFL’s investigation, the matter could have been resolved much more easily.

McNair said on 610-AM in Houston that a player should be willing to cooperate with the league, and that he’d expect his own best player to cooperate in a league investigation.

“What escalated the whole thing is that Brady and the Patriots were going to cooperate fully, and then when it came down to it, they didn’t,” McNair said, via ESPN. “If it was J.J. Watt, I think he would have been cooperative, and it wouldn’t be a question. . . . I don’t think J.J. would destroy his cell phone.”

McNair is convinced that the Patriots deflated footballs to gain an edge, and that the NFL did the right thing in cracking down.

“In the minds of somebody in that organization, they thought it was important. They thought it would give them a competitive advantage, and that’s why they did it,” McNair said.

As Roger Goodell continues to face criticism over Deflategate, McNairs comments indicate that at least one of Goodell’s 32 bosses think he has done his job well.

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Browns cut former first-rounder Phil Taylor

Phil Taylor, Donte Whitner AP

Another year, another former first-round pick flushed by the Cleveland Browns.

The team has announced that the contract of defensive lineman Phil Taylor has been terminated as part of the effort to get to 75 players.

A first-round pick in 2011, the Browns exercised the fifth-year option on Taylor in 2014. By not cutting him before March 10, his salary of $5.477 million is fully-guaranteed.

With 2015 first-rounder Danny Shelton winning a starting job, the Browns opted to let Taylor walk, hopeful he’ll make at or about that much money elsewhere.

Per a league source, Taylor asked to be released, and teams already are lining up for a shot at the player who made his first game appearance over the weekend after aggravating a knee injury in early November.

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Antonio Brown gets $2 million moved from 2016 to this year

Antonio Brown AP

Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said recently that the team would not break from tradition to revisit wide receiver Antonio Brown’s contract this year.

Brown signed a six-year, $43 million deal with the Steelers before the 2012 season and approached the team this offseason about altering it to get himself more money. Colbert met with Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus, but said that Brown’s contract would remain unchanged.

That wasn’t quite right. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Tuesday that the Steelers restructured Brown’s contract and Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reports that the restructure involved moving $2 million of his 2016 salary into a bonus this year.

It’s a raise for Brown this year and, along with restructures of tight end Heath Miller and kicker Shaun Suisham, helps the Steelers gain $6 million in cap room. Per Schefter, that money will be used to offset the money they’ll be spending on injured players this year.

PFT has confirmed the restructuring and that Brown is happy to be the player that got the Steelers to change their philosophy on reopening a deal for a non-quarterback with more than a year left.

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Would the NFL appeal a two-game Brady suspension?

Richard Berman AP

It’s become a given that Judge Richard M. Berman doesn’t have the option to impose anything less than a four-game suspension on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Technically, that’s accurate.

As a practical matter, Judge Berman can reduce the suspension to two games, explaining that he has decided to deem the four-game suspension as two for “general awareness” (or whatever) of the alleged deflation scheme and two for failure to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation. Sure, he’d be susceptible to a reversal on appeal.

But what if no one appeals?

Tom Brady, if suspended two games for failure to cooperate at a time when he’s reportedly willing to accept at least one game for that infraction and exonerated on the question of whether he should be suspended for the deflation-related activities, could be inclined to accept the two games and move on. Which means that the case would be over — unless the NFL appeals.

At that point, would the NFL appeal? More specifically, would the NFL allow itself to be responsible for prolonging a case that the fans want to see end, when the NFL can legitimately claim partial victory and retreat?

From a legal perspective, the NFL would have a strong argument on appeal, arguing that Judge Berman has no right to chop the suspension in half and that it’s an all-or-nothing decision. From a P.R. perspective, the NFL possibly would be criticized heavily for not accepting a middle ground and moving on.

So maybe, just maybe, Judge Berman will technically get it wrong, but ultimately get to the right solution.

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James Harrison says old pal Goodell will win fight vs. Brady

James Harrison, Art Rooney II AP

James Harrison has never been afraid to speak out against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, but when Harrison was asked by reporters about DeflateGate and Goodell’s court battle vs. Tom Brady and the Patriots, Harrison said he believes Brady’s four-game suspension will be upheld.

Because the Steelers play the Patriots Sept. 10 in the season opener, the result of the proceedings are of particular interest to Harrison. But the 37-year old linebacker had no personal feelings involved when he shared his viewpoint.

“I don’t see what a federal judge can do with something the players signed in the collective bargaining agreement, which gives Roger Goodell (power) to do what he wants to,” Harrison said. “And if that’s the case and he’s going by the letter of what he says, there’s nothing (a judge) can do.”

Monday, federal judge Richard Berman pledged to rule by Friday on Brady’s challenge of his four-game suspension after talks between Brady’s representatives and the NFL failed to reach a settlement.

Harrison and Goodell have quite a history, both of face to face meetings regarding fines that have totaled $150,000 and of Harrison publicly criticizing Goodell. Harrison called Goodell a “crook” and “devil” in a 2011 magazine interview and last year took to Twitter and needled Goodell for his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.

“If (Goodell) was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn’t do it,” Harrison told Men’s Journal in 2011. “I hate him and will never respect him.”

Harrison tweeted last September, when he considered himself retired, that Steelers players voted against the new CBA in 2011.

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Dennis Pitta starting year on PUP list

Keith Wenning, Dennis Pitta AP

The Ravens are down to a 75-man roster and tight end Dennis Pitta isn’t one of them.

Pitta has been placed on the regular season physically unable to perform list Tuesday as he continues to try for a comeback from last year’s dislocated and fractured hip. It’s the second time that Pitta has suffered the injury and may not play again, but the Ravens have no reason to move on at this point with $4 million in guaranteed money coming Pitta’s way this year.

The Ravens also placed safety Matt Elam, linebacker Steven Means, cornerback Chris Greenwood, offensive lineman Darryl Baldwin and tight end Allen Reisner on injured reserve.

They completed their roster cutdown by releasing wide receiver Aldrick Robinson, offensive lineman Marcel Jones, wide receiver Trent Steelman, guard Leon Brown, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, offensive lineman De’Ondre Wesley, tackle Darryl Baldwin, cornerback Tramain Jacobs, punter Justin Manton, and long snapper Patrick Scales.

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Relationship with Marshawn Lynch drives Fred Jackson to Seattle visit

nfl_a_jackson_lynch1x_300 AP

Yes, free-agent running back Fred Jackson is on his way to Seattle for a visit with the Seahawks. Although a league source tells PFT that there have been no contract discussions yet, both sides are indeed motivated to get something done.

As the source explained it to PFT, the primary factor in the mutual interest between the Seahawks and Jackson is the pre-existing relationship between Jackson and starting tailback Marshawn Lynch, based on their time together with the Bills.

Per the source, having Jackson in the locker room will provide the private, reclusive Lynch with another confidant, along with the comfort of knowing Jackson has Lynch’s back. Also, unlike Christine Michael and Robert Turbin, Jackson isn’t someone who would be viewed as a potential successor to Lynch.

So while the potential to get a ring is a factor, the more important factor is the chance for Jackson to finish the career the way his relationship with Lynch started, when they both were in Buffalo.

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