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Clowney questionable for Monday night

Clowney Getty Images

The Texans have listed linebacker Jadeveon Clowney as out for every game since Week One, when he tore a meniscus while landing awkwardly on the much-maligned turf in Houston.  For Monday night’s game at Pittsburgh, Clowney is listed as questionable, via Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.

The injury, which required surgery, initially was believed to entail a 4-6 week absence.  Sunday is the six-week anniversary.  So it makes sense that he’ll be ready to go on Monday night.

Whenever Clowney plays, he could add an intriguing dynamic to a defense that boasts an MVP candidate in J.J. Watt.  Whether they’re on opposite sides or stacked, the Texans’ defense could get a lot better, quickly.

Cornerback Darryl Morris (ankle) is out, linebacker Mike Mohamed (calf) is questionable.  A dozen Texans are probable.

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Will Percy Harvin be any different with the Jets?

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The Vikings unloaded receiver Percy Harvin onto the Seahawks, despite a thoroughly documented history of misbehavior.  In Seattle, Harvin behaved consistently with his prior actions.

So why do the Jets think Harvin will be any different?

Every coach believes he’s the guy to get the best out of a player with a history of being a bad guy.  Pete Carroll thought he’d get through to Harvin in Seattle.  Rex Ryan surely believes he’ll find a way to connect with Harvin in New York.  And maybe Rex will; if he does, however, it’ll be a surprise.

Aiding Ryan’s cause will be the presence of Mike Vick, who has become a respected elder statesman for young players who grew up idolizing him.  Harvin and Vick are both represented by Joe Segal, who is based in New York.  With Segal serving as the conduit, Vick could be the right guy to get Harvin to do the things he’s supposed to do — and to not do the things he has done in Seattle, Minnesota, and Gainesville.

Again, it won’t be easy.  At Florida, Harvin allegedly stopped during a 2007 conditioning run and, when pressed to continue, said, “This [expletive] ends now.”  The next day, he opted for playing basketball over the prescribed football training.

Harvin also reportedly once grabbed receivers coach Billy Gonzales by the neck and threw him to the ground.  Harvin reportedly was never disciplined.

At Minnesota, Harvin clashed with former coach Brad Childress.  The disputes included a heated argument that arose when Childress suggested Harvin was embellishing an ankle injury to avoid practicing.  Harvin and Childress nearly came to blows; their toxic relationship reportedly contributed to the decision to dump Randy Moss after a three-week reunion, because the Vikings feared Moss was influencing Harvin in a negative way.

Another “heated exchange” happened in 2012 with former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, an ordinarily calm presence who spent a lot of time when Childress was the coach keeping Harvin from making good on threats to not show up for games.  It’s not easy to get Frazier upset.  Harvin found a way.

In Seattle, it was just as bad.  Said one source regarding the situation, “Believe everything you hear about Harvin and the Seahawks.”  The reported fracas with former Seahawks receiver Golden Tate happened, we’re told, the night before Super Bowl XLVIII.  The source said Harvin body slammed Tate at the team hotel, and that players initially feared Harvin broke Tate’s neck.

While there’s a theory making the rounds that the Seahawks feared Harvin would launch a mutiny against quarterback Russell Wilson, there’s a separate theory that Harvin was in danger of being on the wrong end of a Code Red from teammates who had enough of his angry, moody, erratic ways.

Whatever the specific details, it had to be very, very bad for the Seahawks to cut the cord.  There are plenty of temperamental, antisocial players in the NFL.  Few get abruptly shipped out of town for a third-day draft pick with more than $19 million earned for only eight games and a first-round, third-round, and seventh-round pick squandered.

As one source told PFT, the Seahawks would have cut Harvin but for the fact that the balance of his $11 million base salary is fully guaranteed.  There are no guarantees for Harvin beyond 2014, and the initial thinking in league circles is that the Jets won’t keep him around at $10 million for 2015 — especially if there’s a new head coach who is willing to admit that not even Vince Lombardi could have gotten through to Harvin on a consistent basis.

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Week Seven “Three and Out”

Peyton Getty Images

Well, I guess I’ve got no choice but to keep doing it.  More of you are reading this new feature (which is nice), and hardly anyone is complaining (which is even nicer — and incredibly rare).

And so here’s the Week Seven “Three and Out,” a contrived set of three questions and answers for each of the Sunday games.

“Where’s the Monday game?” someone invariably will ask in the comments.  It’s not there; this covers Sunday games only.

This week features another 13 Sunday games.  Which means 39 questions and answers for me to write and you to read.  I’ve taken care of my end of the bargain.  You’re up.

Falcons at Ravens

1.  How are the Falcons getting ready to face Gary Kubiak’s offense?

Glad you asked.  Kubiak coached the Texans, and Falcons backup T.J. Yates led Houston to its first ever postseason win as a rookie.  So Yates has served as the scout-team quarterback, helping the Atlanta defense prepare for an offense heavy on zone blocking, one-cut runs, and roll out passes.

Given the recent struggles of the Atlanta defense, any extra edge helps.

2.  How often are the Falcons running the ball?

Not often enough.  At 36.4 percent, only the Jaguars and Raiders have run the ball less often.

“I think any time you can be a more balanced offense [it can] get us out of a rut and put us where we feel we don’t have our backs against the wall and we are not one-dimensional,” running back Steven Jackson said this week. “Any time you can be more balanced it helps everyone out from Matt [Ryan] all the way down offensively.”

With 56 more yards, Jackson becomes the 19th player in NFL history to rush for 11,000 in his career.  With the Falcons throwing so frequently, that may take a while.

3.  Is Arthur Blank getting upset?

Yes, which could be bad news for everyone currently working for the Falcons’ coaching staff and front office.

The coaches should be more concerned, since Blank believes the Falcons have the talent to be better than 2-4.  Which likely means that he believes the coaches aren’t getting enough out of the players.  Which could result in Mike Smith getting out of Atlanta.

Bills at Vikings

1.  Are the Bills getting ready to trade C.J. Spiller?

Apparently.  The Bills aren’t using the former top-10 pick, who’s in a contract year.  Which has generated speculation that he’ll be dealt to a new team on or before the October 28 trading deadline.

The Bills perhaps would want someone in return who could help Buffalo become a postseason contender, but that could make it harder to find a suitor.  Making it easier would be the typical compensation for current players — one or more draft picks.  For G.M. Doug Whaley, it makes more sense to get a 2015 pick by trading Spiller than waiting for a potential compensatory pick in 2016, if he signs elsewhere in March.  There’s no guarantee the new owners will keep Whaley into 2016.  (Then again, there’s no guarantee they’ll keep Whaley into 2015.)

Potential destinations (speculation alert) include the Ravens, Browns, Colts, Chargers, Broncos, Giants, Eagles, Panthers, Cardinals, and maybe even the Harvin-free Seahawks, who once acquired a running back from Buffalo who has had a pretty big impact in Seattle.

2.  What’s going on with Mike Williams?

No one really knows.  Williams, who once quit on a Syracuse team coached by Bills coach Doug Marrone, was a healthy scratch on Sunday against the Patriots.  Then, G.M. Doug Whaley said Williams has asked to be traded.  The, Marrone said Williams hasn’t asked for a trade.  Then, Williams said his agent has pushed for a trade.

Then, reported that Williams got no practice reps on Wednesday.  Then, Marrone disputed that, sort of.

So add Williams to the list of guys who are potentially available before October 28.

3.  Who’s emerging as the top running back in Minnesota?

For now, it’s rookie Jerick McKinnon, who carried 11 times against the Lions.  Matt Asiata, the prior top option in the wake of the Adrian Peterson rabbit-out-of-the-rump paid suspension, had only one rushing attempt vs. Detroit.

Coach Mike Zimmer wants to increase Asiata’s numbers and decrease McKinnon’s on Sunday against the Bills.  Regardless, neither guy will be confused with Adrian Peterson, whose absence has in many ways derailed what could have been a promising season in Minnesota.

Dolphins at Bears

1.  How will the Dolphins replace Knowshon Moreno for the rest of the year?

They’ll largely do what they did when Moreno, who has a torn ACL, was out with a dislocated elbow.  Lamar Miller will become the starter, with Daniel Thomas and Damien Williams pitching in.

The Dolphins also have LaMichael James and Orleans Dawka on the practice squad.  Either or both eventually could be bounced up to the active roster, depending on the ability of Miller, Thomas, and Williams to stay healthy.

2.  How long until Ryan Tannehill isn’t the quarterback of the Dolphins?

Possibly not very.  The eighth overall pick has struggled more often than not.  Next May, the Dolphins have to decide whether to pick up the fifth-year option on Tannehill’s contract, pushing his 2016 salary into the $15 million range, guaranteed for injury.

Look for the Dolphins to keep him around for 2015, since his salary for next year fully guaranteed.  Then again, because Miami held firm to get offset language in his contract, they’d make some of that money back if he’s cut and ends up playing elsewhere.


3.  Will the Bears demote their top linebackers?

Probably not, but they’re likely tempted.  In a 27-13 win over the Falcons, Khaseem Greene played well in place of Lance Briggs. Darryl Sharpton was more than competent while subbing for D.J. Williams.   Christian Jones got the job done while replacing Shea McClellin.  For now, these backups will remain backups.  But the Bears now have six proven commodities at linebacker — seven if we include Jon Bostic, who also was injured last week.

Saints at Lions

1.  Will Jimmy Graham play?

It’s not as clear that he won’t as previously believed.  Over the weekend of the team’s bye week, reports emerged that Graham, who suffered a sprained shoulder in Week Five, could miss a couple of games.  But the Saints have held out hope for Graham to play this weekend against the Lions, listing him as limited in practice on Thursday and Friday, and as questionable for Sunday’s game.

It could be a ruse aimed at making the Lions think they’ll see Graham, forcing them to spend time planning for his presence.  Which could make the Lions’ defense less prepared to face the offensive players not named Jimmy Graham.

2.  When will Calvin Johnson play?

Coach Jim Caldwell has said it will take a miracle for Johnson to play this week.  And that’s not a surprise; Johnson has made it clear that he will rest his sprained ankle until he can perform like he always has when healthy.

It’s smart for Johnson to resist playing at less than 100 percent.  If Megatron never makes an appearance this season, the Lions will be less inclined to carry a $20 million-plus cap number into 2015, and other teams would be reluctant to pay him anything close to it.

3.  How fired up is Reggie Bush to face the Saints?

Far more fired up than he’d admit.  Sure, the Saints made Bush the second overall pick in the 2006 draft, paid him a ton of money, and eventually got him a Super Bowl ring.  But the Saints never really let Bush develop the way he wanted as a running back, using a platoon that limited Bush’s touches and created the perception that he’s not able to carry the load on a regular basis.

Eventually, the Saints traded a 2012 first-round pick to select Mark Ingram in the bottom of round one, Bush tweeted out a farewell, and he later was traded to the Dolphins.

Bush will be a captain on Sunday, an external sign of the strong feelings he’ll surely keep to himself but that will nevertheless motivate all he does.  And he won’t be alone when it comes for former Saints now with the Lions.  As listed by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, running backs Joique Bell and Jed Collins, defensive backs Danny Gorrer and Isa Abdul-Quddus, special-teams coordinator John Bonamego, and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi also have spent time with the Saints.

Lombardi was there the longest, and Lombardi has been warned not to be too cozy with his former players.

“The quarterbacks told me that I get fined for every hug, so I’m going to try to keep those to a minimum,” Lombardi said this week.  “Just try to wave and shake hands.”

Panthers at Packers

1.  Will Cam Newton keep running as much as he did?

No one knows.  Including offensive coordinator Mike Shula.

“I feel like I ran him too much, and yet I didn’t run him enough,” Shula said in the aftermath of Sunday’s game at Cincinnati, in which Newton ran 17 times for 107 yards.

The good news for the Panthers (and bad news for their opponents) is that Newton may only get better.

“He’s talented and he’s still not 100 percent,” Shula said. “I think he made it through OK so I hopefully he’ll keep getting better.”

2.  Can Clay Matthews improve his sluggish sack total?

Perhaps not this week.  Matthews’ one-sack performance to date possibly results from the number of zone-read offenses the Packers have faced.

“You’re playing so much into this zone-read offense that you’re always reading the quarterback and the running back and seeing what they’re throwing,” Matthews said this week.

He’ll be doing that again against Newton and the Panthers on Sunday.  Which could mean that his season-to-date sack total will remain at 1.0.

3.  Will Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams ever play at the same time again?

Possibly not.  But with Williams still nursing a high ankle sprain, Stewart is ready to return after missing three games.

For the season, Stewart has only 88 yards rushing in three games.  Williams has 106 in two games.  Their quarterback got more than either of them in the team’s most recent game.

Bengals at Colts

1. When will A.J. Green play again?

No one seems to know. Questionable for Week Six with a sprained toe, Green is doubtful for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis — a downgrade in status even though he hasn’t practiced or played.

On Friday, coach Marvin Lewis said that the “time is up in the air” regarding a potential return from the injury.

Maybe it’s just me, but these toes injuries seem to linger longer than they used to. It’s probably the media.

2. Should Vontaze Burfict have his head on a swivel?

Probably. As NFLPA president Eric Winston said on Friday’s PFT Live, opponents will be keeping their eyes on the Bengals linebacker after he decided to treat pro football like pro wrestling twice against the Panthers.  Winston was candid regarding his reaction to Burfict trying to twist the ankles of his teammates; Winston said he would have gone after Burfict.

Players from other teams could try to do it preemptively, hoping to put Burfict on the sidelines before Burfict can do it to a player from the other team.

3. Will Colts keep trying onside kicks?

After successfully recovering three of them this year, yes they will.

Coach Chuck Pagano said in the wake of the most recent recovery — a soccer dribble onto which the man who kicked it fell after 10 yards — that the Colts won’t stop taking advantage of opportunities to keep possession.

“Based on how they lineup and how they adjust, it’s kind of just we’re going to take whatever they give us,” Pagano said. “They’ve got to make a decision on how they adjust. We’ll keep playing with it and try to find a way to steal a play here and there.”

Browns at Jaguars

1. What will the Browns do without Alex Mack?

It’s a question they’d never had to ask until Sunday. Mack had participated in every offensive snap of his career until breaking a leg against the Steelers.

With Mack now on injured reserve, the job falls to John Greco, a former third-round pick of the Rams. He was traded to Cleveland after three seasons.

“I don’t think we ended on bad terms,” Greco said this week of his time in St. Louis.  “It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, this guy was a freaking bust.’ Maybe I was. I don’t know. Obviously, I was or I’d still be playing there.”

If he plays center well for the balance of the season in Cleveland, it won’t matter.

2. Are Jacksonville’s receivers finally healthy?

Amazingly, yes. Actually, the Jags had a full complement of healthy receivers last Sunday in Nashville, with Cecil Shorts, Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Ace Sanders available together for the first time.

Robins saw the most action, with 70 of 77 snaps. Shorts had 61, Hurns had 49. Lee was on the field for 16, and Sanders had only five.

For now, it’s unclear how much those numbers will change in Week Seven against Cleveland.

3. Can the Browns avoid a letdown?

It’s impossible to know, because the Browns haven’t been in this position in years.  A win would put them at 4-2 for the first time since 2001.

After years of being the trap in a trap game, the Browns now try to avoid a trap in Jacksonville.  Losing to the winless Jags would reverse the perception of the Browns, dramatically.  With the Raiders and Bucs coming to Cleveland for the next two games, now isn’t the time for the team to play down to the level of competition with a combined record of 1-16.

Seahawks at Rams

1. How do the Seahawks replace Percy Harvin?

It’s not a big problem because they never really saw much of him.  He played eight games since arriving in March 2013, and he contributed only 225 yards from scrimmage this year.

Against the Cowboys, Harvin had three catches and three rushing attempts for a total of minus-one yard.

Last year, the Seahawks thrived without Harvin.  While he had a major impact on the offense in the Super Bowl, most of the success came from the defense and other aspects of the offense.

Whether it’s addition by subtraction or simply a non-issue, the Seahawks must not be concerned about life without Harvin, since they embraced the opportunity to get rid of him.

2. Didn’t you used to be Chris Givens?

For years, the Rams have been trying to find a solid stable of receivers.  While they were trying to improve, Chris Givens was putting in the work, leading the team in receiving in 2012 and finishing second in 2013.  But with Brian Quick emerging and Kenny Britt in the fold and Stedman Bailey stepping up and Tavon Austin healthy, Givens has been a healthy scratch for two straight games.

“Yeah, I was surprised,” Givens recently said. “It’s a business — these things happen. It was tough to deal with. Definitely it was a humbling experience.  At the same time, it’s bigger than me.”

But not much bigger.  With Givens doing less, the Rams are still worse.

3. Is Jeff Fisher on the hot seat?

Only one person truly knows, and he never says anything. Owner Stan Kroenke keeps his cards close, doing things when he chooses to do them without much advance warning.

The Rams were respectable in Fisher’s first two years, going 7-8-1 and 7-9 in the NFL’s toughest division.  This year has been a free fall, however, with the Rams at 1-4.

Still, Fisher likely will stay, for a couple of reasons. First, he’s only in the third season of a five-year, $35 million contract.  That makes for a pricey buyout.  Second, with the team potentially moving to L.A. as soon as 2015 (another topic on which Kroenke will say nothing), who better to preside over the transition than the man who coached the Houston Oilers through their move to Tennessee a generation ago?

Titans at Washington

1.  Could there be a Colt McCoy sighting this weekend?

Defenses quickly figured out Kirk Cousins, and he hasn’t been able to adjust.  He also hasn’t been able to stop making huge mistakes.  And it eventually could result in Cousins taking a seat before starter Robert Griffin III is ready to return.

Coach Jay Gruden hasn’t ruled out benching Cousins, if the blunders continue.

“Obviously if things continue in this downward spiral, there is always a chance to see Colt,” Gruden said this week.

That’s not enough to add Colt McCoy to your fantasy team.  Apart from the fact that it’s still Colt McCoy.

2.  Did Washington blow it by using the franchise tag on Brian Orakpo?

Yes they did.  Orakpo earns $11.455 million in guaranteed money this season.  So far, he has generated 0.5 sacks, no interceptions, and no forced fumbles.

Jason Reid of the Washington Post recently argued that the blame for this mistake should land on the desk of team president/G.M. Bruce Allen.  It’s hard not to wonder, given the overall state of the franchise, how much more time Allen’s link to the late George Allen will keep him on the job.

3.  Good guys — and bad teams — wear white?

The Titans are so blah and boring that the only question I could come up with relates to their choice in uniform color.  They’ve donned white every game this season, and they’ll presumably do so again on Sunday at Washington, where a home team that once always wore white at home has gone with burgundy in recent years.

“It’s an ownership decision, and those things are put in way ahead of time,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said this week. “I know if you can catch a team in a dark jersey when it’s 90 degrees, it’s an advantage. But to be honest with you, that is one of the things that really doesn’t matter to me. Whatever we wear, we wear.”

Chiefs at Chargers

1.  Should the Chargers be concerned about facing the Chiefs after a bye?

Absolutely.  Coach Andy Reid has a record of 13-2 after a bye week, which means he knows how to make the most out of that extra time.  Jon Ritchie, who played for Reid in Philly, said this week on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk that Reid devotes the extra time to self-scouting, spotting his own trends and tendencies and shaking things up.

A win at San Diego would definitely shake things up in the AFC West.

2.  Should the Chargers exhale at 5-1?

No way.  While the schedule to date hasn’t been crammed with cupcakes, the combined record of their last three opponents is 1-17.

Moving forward, it won’t be that easy.

It picks up,” quarterback Philip Rivers recently said.

Still looming are two games against the Broncos, a visit from the Patriots, and a Harbaugh Brothers Road Trip, with visits to Baltimore and San Francisco.  If the Chargers are going to make a run at the top of the conference this year, they definitely will have earned it.

3.  How close is Jamaal Charles to history?

Surprisingly close.  Charles need only 53 yards on the ground to become the Chiefs’ all-time rushing leader.  (Priest Holmes holds the mark currently, with 6,070 yards.)

“I don’t want to jinx myself,” Charles recently said, pointing out that linebacker Derrick Johnson blew out an Achilles tendon only 15 tackles from 1,000.  “I just want to go out and play football, and let it happen itself.”

Giants at Cowboys

1.  Can DeMarco Murray stay healthy?

That’s perhaps the biggest question facing the Cowboys.  He missed three games as a rookie, six in 2012, and two last year.  In 2014, he’s averaging 30 total touches per game.  For his career before this season, he averaged 17.7.

So he’s touching the ball nearly twice as often as he ever has.  If he stays healthy, it’ll be an upset far bigger than the victory in Seattle that rattled the Seahawks badly enough to dump Percy Harvin.

2.  How important is the offensive line to the Cowboys’ success?

Far more important than the offensive line gets credit for.  Then again, they’re finally getting some credit; left tackle Tyron Smith became the first lineman to win an offensive player of the week award in a decade.

They could get even more credit if/when injuries start to erode the unit.  Right tackle Doug Free will miss some time with a foot injury.  Smith has an ankle problem that won’t keep him out of action, for now.  If/when the offensive line begins to crumble, it’ll be just a matter of time before Murray and quarterback Tony Romo end up getting crushed.

3.  How will the Giants replace Victor Cruz?

Maybe Kevin Ogletree, if they can get him up to speed quickly.  Playing for the Cowboys in Week One of the 2012 season, Ogletree had a career night at MetLife Stadium, catching eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns in an upset win on the night the Giants raised their most recent title banner.  With Cruz done for the year, Ogletree joined the Giants this week.

His ability to make an impact hinges on his ability to learn the offense.  Until then, look for Preston Parker to play the slot position that Cruz had mastered.

Cardinals at Raiders

1. What happened to the Super Bowl jinx?

So far, it has yet to kick in for the Cardinals.  Oh, the jinx has tried to activate, with injuries and suspensions and a dead nerve in Carson Palmer’s shoulder threatening to scuttle the season.  But the Cardinals have recovered — and they’re keenly aware that they have an opportunity to become the first team to host a Super Bowl in its home stadium.

“That’s something that was spoke upon early in the season,” Rashad told PFT Live this week.  “The goal was to be at home, sitting in our home locker room, right here at our home facility, warming up, just making like a normal week.  So we definitely talked about it early in the year and we definitely know the Super Bowl is here and that’s definitely a goal of ours.  To be able to play in it, you know, as the home team and go out and compete and win the thing.”

For now, they’re in pretty good position, with a single loss and sole possession of first place in the NFC West.

2.  How’s Patrick Peterson doing now that he has been paid?

Unlike Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, a 2011 first-round pick who seemed to get even better after cashing in, Peterson has taken a step back.  And he knows it.

“I do believe I’m not playing to the best of my ability right now,” Peterson said this week, “but that’s definitely going to change.”

That lack of ability included getting burned by receiver DeSean Jackson.

3.  Are there any bright spots for the Raiders?

There’s at least one.  Running back Darren McFadden, who signed a bargain-basement deal after his bloated rookie contract expired, has emerged as the leading rusher.  More importantly, he has remained healthy.

“It may not show in the stats, but this is the best I’ve felt five games into the season,” McFadden said this week. “I don’t have any nagging injuries, nicks or anything slowing me down. I feel like I can go out there and let it loose 100 percent.”

That may not be enough to salvage a lost season for the Raiders, but it could help McFadden get slightly more money from someone in 2015.

49ers at Broncos

1.  How close did Peyton Manning come to playing for the 49ers?

Closer than anyone ever would admit.  Including coach Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh insisted he was merely “evaluating” Manning, obviously in order to keep Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick from realizing how close they’d come to stop being the object of Harbaugh’s affection.

It’s probably good that Manning didn’t pick the 49ers.  He and Harbaugh are too much alike; Manning needed a defensive head coach who’d let Peyton run the offense.  In San Francisco, Harbaugh and Manning would have banged heads even worse than Harbaugh and G.M. Trent Baalke do.

2.  How much will it cost for the Broncos to keep their free agents?

Plenty.  Receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas are both having great contract years, and the Broncos have only one franchise tag to use.

Throw in cornerback Chris Harris, who also is playing well as he moves toward the open market, and the Broncos won’t have the cash to spend on new additions.  It’ll be all they can do to keep their current guys.

3.  Where’s the San Fran running attack?

With a mobile quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, some yards will always be gained on the ground even if every play called was intended initially to be a pass.  Beyond Kaepernick and his 242 yards in six games, the 49ers haven’t gotten much production on the ground.

Frank Gore leads the way, as he always does.  But he’s got only 403 yards, an average of 67.6 per game.  Rookie Carlos Hyde, who was supposed to commence the process of supplanting Gore, has 146 yards and an average of 3.2 yards per carry.

Committing to the run and realizing some success from it could help the 49ers tremendously this week.  The more they control the ball, the less time Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will have to generate yards, points, and the three touchdown passes he needs to surpass Brett Favre’s career mark of 508.  Surely, Harbaugh (the quarterback in Indy before Peyton became the first overall pick in the draft) doesn’t want to be the coach against whom Manning threw No. 509.

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Reports: Seahawks can get a fourth-round pick at best for Harvin

Percy Harvin, Pete Carroll AP

The Seahawks were so eager to get rid of Percy Harvin that they’ve given him up for next to nothing.

Although neither the Seahawks nor the Jets has disclosed exactly what the compensation was in the Harvin trade, multiple reports now say that the pick can be no better than a fourth-rounder. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that it’s a conditional sixth-round pick, while Ian Rapoport of NFL Network adds that the pick can improve to up to a fourth-round pick.

That’s shockingly little compensation, considering that the Seahawks gave up a first-round pick, a third-round pick and a seventh-round pick to acquire Harvin a year and a half ago.

But Harvin was reportedly such a locker-room cancer that the Seahawks didn’t want to delay in getting rid of him, and as soon as they got an offer from the Jets, the Seahawks were willing to pull the trigger on the trade. Now Harvin is the Jets’ problem.

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Jets announce trade, call Percy Harvin “dynamic playmaker”

Harvin AP

Percy Harvin is officially a Jet.

The Jets announced today that they have completed a trade with the Seahawks that brings Harvin, the runner/receiver/return who has spent a year and a half in Seattle, to New York.

“Percy is a versatile, dynamic player who has been productive on offense and special teams,” said Jets GM John Idzik. “We’re excited about adding him to the Jets.”

The Jets described the compensation as an “undisclosed” draft pick. It is believed that the pick will be in the second, third or fourth round of next year’s NFL draft, depending on Harvin’s playing time and statistics for the rest of this season.

Harvin is described as a wide receiver and kick returner in the Jets’ announcement, and the team figures to use him in both roles. The Jets’ offense and special teams both need playmakers, and now they’ve got one.

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Trading problem player Percy may create a problem with Marshawn

harvinlynch AP

The Seahawks apparently traded Percy Harvin in large part because he became a problem in the locker room. But trading him may cause problems in the locker room.

Seahawks running back Marshawyn Lynch, a friend of Harvin’s, indicated on Twitter that he wasn’t happy about it, and according to one report, Lynch’s feelings go beyond just “unhappy.” Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that Lynch almost didn’t get on the team bus for the trip to the airport for Sunday’s game at St. Louis because he was so upset about Harvin getting traded.

That’s a bit surprising considering that if anything, Lynch should be a beneficiary of Harvin leaving: Losing Harvin makes Lynch a more integral part of the Seahawks’ offense. But Lynch isn’t an easy person to keep happy, and his personal friendship with Harvin apparently trumps any benefit of getting the ball more. The Seahawks don’t want Lynch to be unhappy (and in fact just a couple months ago they restructured his contract to make him happy), but Lynch’s unhappiness could become the result of Harvin leaving.

And Lynch isn’t the only player who seems upset about it. Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin both also indicated on Twitter that they weren’t happy about Harvin leaving.

Although no one associated with the Seahawks has explained exactly what was going on with Harvin, there seems to be a growing sense that the Seahawks wanted to get rid of him because they sensed he was part of a schism within the locker room, and the front office thought they could nip it in the bud by sending Harvin packing. The problem, however, comes up if trading Harvin further divides the team between those who wanted him to remain a teammate, and those who are happy to see him go.

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Jets cut David Nelson to make room for Percy Harvin

Cleveland Browns v New York Jets Getty Images

For the Jets, receiver Percy Harvin is on the way in and receiver David Nelson is on the way out.

Nelson is the player who will be released to make room on the 53-man roster for Harvin, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. The Seahawks and Jets haven’t made the Harvin trade official yet, but as soon as the deal is officially done, Nelson will be released.

Nelson is in his second season with the Jets. He started five games this year but has only eight catches for 65 yards and has fumbled twice. Obviously, on the field Harvin is an enormous upgrade over Nelson.

But Nelson has long had a reputation as a good locker room presence, hard worker and good teammate. If the stories about Harvin out of Minnesota and Seattle are true, the Jets’ locker room dynamics may change for the worse with Harvin replacing Nelson.

Harvin and Nelson were teammates at Florida, winning national championships together in 2006 and 2008.

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The financial side of the Percy Harvin trade

Harvin AP

After completely processing the shock of the Second Annual Percy Harvin Trade and while still sniffing around the reasons for it, let’s take a look at the financial ramifications of the move, for both teams.

Based on a breakdown of the contract obtained by PFT, the Seahawks paid Harvin $19.03 million for what amounted to eight games played (three last year, five this year). The money came from a $12 million signing bonus, a $2.5 million salary in 2013, and 7/17ths of an $11 million salary in 2014 ($4.53 million).

By trading Harvin after June 1, the Seahawks will carry $1.412 million in cap space this year from his $2.4 million annual signing bonus proration. Next year, they’ll have $7.2 million in dead money attributed to Harvin.

The Jets pick up the balance of his guaranteed base salary — 10/17ths of $11 million ($6.47 million) and the non-guaranteed four additional years of his deal, at $10.5 million in 2015, $9.9 million in 2016, $9.95 million in 2017, and $11.15 million in 2018. The $47.97 million deal actually is a year-to-year arrangement, with no triggers or other devices aimed at forcing the Jets to decide what to do with Harvin before Week One of the regular season.

The Jets inherit the ability to recover bonus money paid by the Seahawks from Harvin. If he decides to not show up or to go AWOL or to retire with that $19 million he had gotten from the Seahawks for nine games, they can get back some of the $12 million the Seahawks paid upon acquiring him from the Vikings. Which could be a useful piece of leverage for the Jets.

Still, the early reaction from multiple league insiders is that the Jets made a mistake by acquiring Harvin. One league source with knowledge of and experience with both the player and his new team already has expressed pessimism, explaining that the Jets are “not a stable place.” Another source said that the Jets have “pissed away $7 million of Woody Johnson’s cash and cap space.”

“Do you know how many good players that much space can get you?” the source said. (As some Jets fans would respond, “If you don’t use it, none.”)

We’ll have more throughout the weekend regarding the reaction to and aftermath of the trade. Whatever triggered the move, it was enough to prompt the Seahawks to pay Harvin what amounted to $2.375 million for every meaningful game in which he played.

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Reports: Harvin fought teammates, took himself out on Sunday

Percy Harvin AP

As the shocking trade of Percy Harvin to the Jets continues to dominate the NFL news cycle, reports from Seattle indicate that the Seahawks simply decided they couldn’t tolerate Harvin’s misbehavior, which included multiple fights with teammates and a refusal to play late in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys.

One fight took place the week before the Super Bowl and left then-Seahawks receiver Golden Tate with a black eye, according to Lance Zierlein of Sports Talk 790 in Houston. Another fight took place in the preseason this year and left receiver Doug Baldwin with a cut on his chin, according to the Seattle Times.

Harvin also reportedly took himself out of Sunday’s game and wouldn’t go back in when coaches asked him to play. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked why Harvin didn’t play much late in the game and answered with a vague reference to “readiness,” but it now appears that the real problem was “willingness,” or lack thereof, of Harvin to get on the field.

Combining the reports out of Seattle with the widespread reports from two years ago that Harvin was a cancer in the Vikings’ locker room, it looks like the Jets just landed themselves a malcontent. They’d better have a plan for how to deal with Harvin’s inevitable unhappiness.

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Vikings look wise for trading Harvin when they did

Percy Harvin AP

When the Vikings traded Percy Harvin to the Seahawks a year and a half ago, it was criticized by many as a foolish move by a team trading away one of the NFL’s most talented playmakers. Now it doesn’t look so foolish.

The Seahawks have now traded Harvin to the Jets for a conditional pick believed to be in the second, third or fourth round of next year’s draft, and that makes it look like the Vikings got a steal when they traded Harvin. Minnesota got a first-round pick and a seventh-round pick in the 2013 draft and a third-round pick in the 2014 draft.

With those picks, the Vikings drafted cornerback Xavier Rhodes in the first round last year, offensive lineman Travis Bond in the seventh round last year and running back Jerick McKinnon in the third round this year. Bond didn’t make the 53-man roster and is now out of the NFL, but Rhodes has started every game for the Vikings this year and McKinnon has shown a lot of promise as a rookie this year. That’s good value for the Vikings.

And it’s especially good value compared to what the Seahawks got out of it: A year and a half of Harvin’s services, most of which he missed with injuries, and now just a second-, third- or fourth-round pick from the Jets in a trade. It is true that Harvin played very well for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, but the Seahawks’ defense played so well that they surely would have won that game without him. Harvin didn’t contribute much in Seattle.

Now we’ll see whether Harvin can contribute much in New York. He’s a great athlete with the talent to make plays as a runner, a receiver or a returner, and it’s possible that the Jets will end up with a bargain. But right now, the team that appears to have gained the most was the Vikings, by getting rid of Harvin when they did.

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“Chemistry” concerns caused Seahawks to dump Harvin


Now that the Seahawks shockingly have cut the cord on receiver Percy Harvin, it’s time to figure out why it happened. Multiple versions likely will emerge, but the bottom line is that Harvin’s ongoing presence threatened to disrupt team chemistry.

Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, who works for the Seahawks as color analyst for the team’s radio broadcasts, explained the situation to Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt of SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday night.

“One thing Pete Carroll wants is great chemistry on the field as well as off the field,” Moon said. “And they had a tough time trying to figure out how to fit Percy Harvin and his skill set into what they already do as a philosophy offensively with Marshawn Lynch running the football and their play-action game. And then there was a little bit of a chemistry problem within the locker room at times with Percy, because he’s a different type of guy. So I think the combination of the two made it to where he was expendable. . . .

“One thing . . . Pete is really, really big on is chemistry and everybody feeling comfortable with one another. And I think that’s what this team has been so successful with the last three years. They’ve really had a great camaraderie, and they didn’t want to do anything to disrupt that.”

Of course, if they didn’t want to do anything to disrupt that, they shouldn’t have traded for Harvin in the first place. But Carroll probably assumed — like many coaches do — that he could get through to Harvin. That Carroll could make a connection with Harvin. That Harvin would be different in Seattle than he’d been in Minnesota.

Carroll guessed wrong, and he opted not to compound the error by stubbornly sticking with a guy who simply didn’t fit.

In the coming days, specific details undoubtedly will emerge regarding Harvin’s lack of chemistry in the locker room. As one source explained it to PFT on Friday evening, the Seahawks possibly feared that Harvin had sufficient influence over enough of the locker room to launch a mutiny against quarterback Rusell Wilson, who despite not yet getting a franchise-quarterback contract possibly has become the target of some resentment among players who don’t share his complete devotion to the game, and who regard the third-year quarterback as a player-coach.

Regardless, the Seahawks spotted a problem, and they quickly solved it. Even if it meant giving up a first-round pick, a third-round pick, a seventh-round pick, and more than $19 million for a guy from who they got seven total games and a mid-round pick in exchange.

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Last-place Jets an odd destination for Percy Harvin

harvin AP

Usually, if a team is going to give up a draft pick for a high-priced star in the middle of the season, that team is a playoff contender hoping that player is the last piece of the championship puzzle.

Which makes the last-place Jets an odd destination for Percy Harvin. So why did the Jets pull off the trade today to acquire Harvin from the Seahawks?

For starters, the Jets were interested, and not many other teams were. PFT has heard that there were a few other teams that expressed some interest in Harvin, but not many. The combination of the $7 million Harvin is still owed this season and the fact that Harvin has a reputation for being difficult means that most teams simply weren’t interested in bringing him on board.

We don’t yet know the identity of any other teams that were interested in Harvin, but it could be that the Seahawks were only willing to trade him to non-contenders. The defending Super Bowl champions decided they’d had enough of Harvin, but they still recognize that he’s a talented playmaker who could make a difference for some other team. They surely weren’t going to trade Harvin to the 49ers or the Cardinals or anyone else they might face in the NFC playoffs, and for that matter the Seahawks may not have been willing to trade Harvin to any AFC team they could have to face in the Super Bowl. By trading Harvin to the 1-6 Jets, the Seahawks are virtually certain they’re not going to have to play against him.

It also helped that Jets G.M. John Idzik previously worked in Seattle and is a former colleague of Seahawks G.M. John Schneider. Idzik may have heard through his contacts in Seattle that Harvin was wearing out his welcome and acted quickly to pull off the trade.

So now Harvin is on his way from the defending champs to a last-place team. That doesn’t fit the normal profile of a blockbuster in-season trade.

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For Jets, Harvin trade feels like an Idzik Hail Mary

Harvin Getty Images

At 1-6, it’s likely too late for Jets coach Rex Ryan to save his job.  But it’s not too late for the team to avoid losing so many that owner Woody Johnson decides to get rid of G.M. John Idzik, too.

The out-of-the-blue decision to trade for receiver Percy Harvin feels like an attempt by Idzik to win enough games to avoid getting fired.  And also to sell enough tickets to keep Johnson from getting antsy about the impact to the bottom line.

But what will Harvin really mean to the Jets offense?  A few years ago, having Harvin, Mike Vick, and Chris Johnson would have prompted Vince Young to call it a “Dream Team.”  For now, the Jets season is teetering on the edge of a nightmare.

The challenge for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will be to figure out how best to use Harvin in both the passing game and the running game.

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Seahawks admit lack of fit with Harvin, move on

Harvin AP

The Vikings knew they couldn’t coexist with the highly talented, but at time high maintenance, Percy Harvin.  They bought high (2009 first-round pick) and somehow sold even higher (2013 first-round pick, plus more), getting real value from a guy they so badly wanted to trade that G.M. Rick Spielman declared publicly and loudly that the Vikings had “no intent” to trade him.

In Seattle, it never got to the point where anyone knew there was even a problem.  Last year, there was a hint of the old Harvin as the deadline approached for moving Harvin, who had surprise hip surgery at the outset of training camp, from the PUP list to the active roster.  Rumors circulated that Harvin would soon be put on injured reserve, which were aimed at getting him to work harder to get himself ready to contribute at some point in the eventual run to the Super Bowl.

Harvin looked pretty good against the Saints in the divisional round before exiting with an injury.  In the Super Bowl, Harvin provided a glimpse of the field-tilting presence he could be in 2014, via a jet sweep that the Broncos couldn’t stop.  But for a dominant performance from the Seattle defense, Harvin easily could have been the Super Bowl MVP.

This year, Harvin had only 225 yards from scrimmage in five games.  Against the Cowboys, he had six total touches for minus-one yards.

While the truth may never fully emerge, initial indications suggest that there was stress between Harvin and quarterback Russell Wilson, with Wilson feeling too much pressure to get the ball to Harvin.  That pressure surely came from only one person — Percy.

And so instead of keeping around a guy who really didn’t contribute much to the run to the Super Bowl and who potentially would undermine the attempt to get back to the Super Bowl and win it again, the Seahawks cut the cord on Harvin.

It’s a lesson to all the other teams that would keep a guy around to justify a mistake.  Instead of making a second mistake, the Seahawks admitted the first mistake and moved on.

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Report: Seahawks trade Percy Harvin to the Jets

Percy Harvin AP

Well, here’s your Friday afternoon news dump, which is actually more of a cannonball into the deep end.

According to Jay Glazer of FOX, the Jets have acquired wide receiver Percy Harvin in trade from the Seahawks in exchange for a draft pick.

Such a huge deal happening midseason is practically unheard of, and comes at a strange time for both teams.

If the Jets were going to do something like this, a better time would have been before they started 1-6.

And for the Seahawks, the defense of their title just got more complicated without a dymanic playmaker.

After giving up first-, third- and seventh-round picks to get him, then paying him, they got 10 games from Harvin.

Obviously, we’ll have more on this throughout the night.

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