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Deshaun Watson to Cowboys: Trade Dak and Romo, draft me

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers reacts after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Myles Garrett isn’t the only top draft prospect who wishes the Cowboys would take him.

Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson said at the Davey O’Brien Award reception in Forth Worth, Texas, that he wants to be a Cowboy. Watson said that when he won the Davey O’Brien Award last year, he told Cowboys coach Jason Garrett that if he won the award again, the Cowboys would have to draft him. Watson did win the award again, so Watson wants the Cowboys to follow through.

“I like being in Fort Worth, Texas, and I promise you I’ll be back here,” Watson said. “And I told coach Garrett, ‘If I’m back here, you have to draft me.’ I know a lot of Cowboys fans, Tony Romo is healthy, Dak, I’m a huge fan, love that man, he’s been successful, but hey, I did my part, you have to do your part. I’ll see you at the Combine so we’ll talk more about that.”

There is, of course, exactly zero chance of the Cowboys trading Dak Prescott to draft Watson, and Watson surely knows that — he was laughing as he said it. But in Watson’s perfect world, the Cowboys would acquire the first overall pick from Cleveland, and Watson would go to Dallas.

“The Browns do need a quarterback. You can trade both of them. They need two.”

Watson was joking, as was Myles Garrett when he called for the Cowboys to draft him. But Browns fans may not find it so funny that top prospects keep talking about how they’d prefer to go elsewhere.

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No groin surgery scheduled for Le’Veon Bell

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tosses the ball forward after gaining a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Steelers were knocked out of the playoffs by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, running back Le’Veon Bell said he was consulting with doctors about whether he needed to have surgery to address the groin injury that knocked him out of that contest.

It looks like Bell is going to avoid an operation. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Bell has not scheduled any surgery at this time. Rapoport adds that Bell “would’ve had it by now if necessary.”

Bell’s contract expired at the end of the season, but the surgery question isn’t likely to impact how things play out for him in the next few weeks.

Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said last week that the team wants to have Bell “be a member of the Steelers for life.” March 1 is the deadline to use the franchise tag in the event they don’t reach agreement on a long-term deal before that point.

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Joe Mixon’s draft chances hinge on an owner’s approval

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners is tackled by Joshua Holsey #15 of the Auburn Tigers during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

The team that drafts former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon will be getting a very talented player. That team will also be getting a public relations nightmare, as the local TV news in Mixon’s new NFL city will surely feature plenty of footage of Mixon punching a woman, breaking bones in her face.

There’s no doubt that NFL personnel people will like what they’ve seen of Mixon, but will an NFL owner sign off on the possibility that Mixon will tarnish the team’s reputation? That’s the question that will determine where Mixon is drafted — or if he’s drafted at all.

That’s the word from Mike Mayock, who said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that he has talked to “a bunch” of NFL teams and they’ve all told him the same thing: Evaluating Mixon isn’t so much about the football people determining how good he is as about the owner deciding whether he wants to take a PR hit. Mayock said every team he’s talked to about Mixon has told him it will be an “ownership decision.”

The Mixon video is similar to that of Ray Rice, whose career was ended by the video of him punching his wife. So it’s conceivable that all 32 teams will take a pass on Mixon, just as all 32 teams have taken a pass on Rice.

However, Rice was already on the downside of his career when that video surfaced. Mixon is a very promising player who’s just 20 years old. It’s likely that some team will take a shot on Mixon. Just as long as the owner is OK with it.

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After Cooley questioned McCloughan’s drinking, team’s silence speaks volumes

Chris Cooley AP

Last week, former Washington tight end Chris Cooley, who works for the team and for a Dan Snyder-owned radio station, questioned on the air whether General Manager Scot McCloughan has been drinking. The team declined to comment.

But declining to comment doesn’t make a story go away, and a column today in the Washington Post suggests that the team’s silence speaks volumes. Columnist Jerry Brewer suggests that Cooley’s speculation about McCloughan’s drinking may have been planted by the team in an effort to reduce McCloughan’s popularity.

McCloughan has been open about his problems with alcohol in the past. For his employer to use that in an attempt to discredit him would be disturbing.

That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, however, and the Washington Post column features that possibility in a broader picture of a power struggle in Washington in which President Bruce Allen is really calling the shots, and McCloughan is being put in his place. It can’t be a comfortable position for McCloughan to be in, but he’s been muzzled by the team, and we apparently won’t hear his side of it any time soon.

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Bills say Tyrod Taylor is medically cleared

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 20:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills is tackled by Vontaze Burfict #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills say quarterback Tyrod Taylor is healthy enough to play — and potentially healthy enough to get cut.

A team source told Adam Schefter that Taylor has been medically cleared from his January groin surgery.

It’s significant that this is coming from a team source, rather than directly from Taylor. The Bills can cut Taylor by March 11 and not have to pay his $27.5 million guarantee, but only if he can pass a physical. If the Bills choose not to pick up Taylor’s guarantee, it’s still possible that Taylor could file a grievance and claim he isn’t yet healthy.

If the Bills cut Taylor, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If he’s still on the team after March 11, that means the Bills are committed to him as their quarterback.

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Martellus Bennett not expected to re-sign before free agency

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots attempts to catch the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the second quarter during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Patriots won the Super Bowl, tight end Martellus Bennett noted that free agents from championship teams often receive a premium on the open market.

It appears Bennett will get the chance to see if he gets that treatment next month. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Bennett will not sign a new deal with the Patriots ahead of the start of the new league year. That doesn’t preclude a return to the Patriots and Bennett fit well with the team, but the chances that someone on the open market will bowl him over are great enough that Rapoport believes it will be hard to keep him in New England.

Bennett isn’t giving any sign of what path he may be taking on social media. He took a break from recounting meetings with celebrities ranging from Sinbad to Magic Johnson to say that he’ll “figure it out when it’s time to figure it out.”

That time will be here fairly soon and Bennett’s market should come into clearer sight pretty quickly in the free agency process.

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Report: Bears seeking trade partner for Cutler

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 20:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears warms up in the pregame against the Minnesota Vikings on December 20, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears are “actively seeking” a trade partner for quarterback Jay Cutler, ESPN reported Tuesday.

With the NFL Scouting Combine next week and the new league year set to open March 9, the time has arrived for teams to start driving conversations and potential interest in players that no longer fit their plans.

Cutler’s 2016 season ended after just five games due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. Bears General Manager Ryan Pace met with Cutler in January and gave the usual answer about nothing being decided and the team taking its time to make the best decision about Cutler’s future.

Most of the guaranteed money on Cutler’s contract has already been paid, so the Bears could move him without sustaining a major salary cap hit if they can find a suitable deal. Cutler threw a career-high 28 touchdown passes in 2014 but also led the NFL with 18 interceptions that season. He had four touchdowns and five interceptions before the injury last season.

Cutler, 33, has already been linked via the rumor mill to the 49ers. New 49ers General Manager John Lynch is a former teammate of Cutler’s, while new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s father, Mike, was the head coach of the Broncos when Cutler was drafted.

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Darrelle Revis’ preliminary hearing pushed back to March 15

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 27:   Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets walks off the field after the Jets 24-17 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on September 27, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis was arraigned on five criminal charges last Friday and scheduled to be in the courtroom this Thursday for a preliminary hearing.

That hearing has been pushed back, however. According to multiple reports, Revis’ first hearing in the matter won’t take place until March 15. Revis was charged with four felonies after being involved in a physical altercation in Pittsburgh last week.

That’s about a week after the start of the new league year and four days after Revis is due to receive a $2 million roster bonus. He’s also due $6 million in guaranteed money that would be paid if he’s released, but would be voided in the event of a league suspension. That suspension wouldn’t come quickly, but Revis could be put on paid leave pending the resolution of the case.

That would give the Jets time to wait on making a decision about how to proceed with Revis, but the change in hearing date could also push back a ruling on that front.

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Panthers release Mike Tolbert

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 22:  Perry Riley #56 of the Washington Redskins wraps up Mike Tolbert #35 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers have released veteran fullback Mike Tolbert.

Tolbert, 31, was named to his third Pro Bowl last season. He spent the last five seasons with the Panthers.

“I feel very fortunate to have coached Mike for nearly his entire career,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said in the team’s announcement of the move. “He was someone we targeted in 2012 because we felt he would be a good addition to our offense and he was very productive for us. He brought great energy and leadership to our locker room and I wish him the best.”

The Panthers signed Tolbert to a two-year deal last March, just before the start of free agency. In his five seasons with the Panthers he had 13 rushing touchdowns and six receiving touchdowns, but his role in the offense shrunk significantly last season as he had just 35 carries and caught 10 passes.

Tolbert played his first four seasons with the Chargers, where Rivera had been the defensive coordinator before becoming head coach of the Panthers in 2011. He’s scored 45 total touchdowns in his nine-year career.

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Jimmy Garoppolo on his future: Your guess is as good as mine

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 07: Jimmy Garoppolo of the New England Patriots holds the Vince Lombardi trophy during the Super Bowl victory parade on February 7, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t know whether he’ll remain with the Patriots or get traded this offseason, and he doesn’t sound like he has a strong preference either way.

Garoppolo appeared on Adam Schefter’s podcast and made a point of saying that he’ll accept whatever his future holds, whether that’s another year as Tom Brady’s backup in New England, or a new home in some other NFL city.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Garoppolo said.

Garoppolo can’t stop the Patriots from trading him, nor can he force the Patriots to trade him. He could, however, exert pressure one way or the other: He could make noise about not wanting to be a backup for another year and say publicly that he wants to start, which might spur the Patriots to trade him because they don’t want an unhappy camper. Or if he wants to stay put for another year, he could announce that he won’t sign a contract extension with any team that trades for him and will test free agency in 2018, which would make teams hesitate to acquire him.

But it appears that Garoppolo isn’t trying either of those tactics. Instead, he’ll just wait and see where he ends up.

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DeSean Jackson: Going to Eagles would be a great story

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 19: Wide receiver DeSean Jackson #11 of the Washington Redskins reacts after making a catch against the Carolina Panthers in the fourth quarter at FedExField on December 19, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s been plenty of discussion about the possibility of wide receiver DeSean Jackson returning to the Eagles as a free agent next month, something that few people considered a realistic turn of events when Jackson was released by Philadelphia in 2014.

Chip Kelly was the coach of the Eagles when Jackson left and he’s since been replaced by Doug Pederson in a move that’s helped fuel the chatter about a second stint with the Eagles. Jackson isn’t tipping his hand about his plans for what could be a robust market for his services, but acknowledges the narrative appeal of a return engagement.

“It definitely is a great story or ending, I guess you could say,” Jackson said on Adam Schefter of ESPN’s podcast. “Starting your career somewhere then going to a division rival team [and] having the possibility of maybe going back. You just kind of think about all of that when you start somewhere maybe you could finish it. There is just a lot of speculation of a lot of thoughts. It all sounds good, but you really never know until the final decision is made. I’m just a firm believer that if you work hard, you put in the work, continuously go out there and show everybody what you’re capable of [then] the sky’s the limit.”

Jackson said that he’d love to play with a “great quarterback” and used that adjective to describe Redskins teammate Kirk Cousins. He also said Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was “lights out” as a rookie and “he has all the intangibles” to be at that level as well.

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Joey Porter to plead guilty to disorderly conduct today

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 14: Joey Porter, a former Pittsburgh Steelers player, walks on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Joey Porter is going to take a knee.

According to the Associated Press, the Steelers assistant coach is going to plead guilty to a disorderly conduct citation this afternoon, ending the flap about his dispute with a bouncer and a police officer in January.

Charges had been reduced from the original aggravated assault, following a dust-up outside a South Side bar. The Steelers placed him on an indefinite leave, which turned out to be less than a week.

The citation is the least serious charge possible, and the league was still reviewing the case the last time anyone asked.

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Report: Jared Odrick’s non-football interests caused “minor friction”

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 19:  Jared Odrick #75 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates after a sack during the fourth quarter of a game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field on November 19, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars cut defensive lineman Jared Odrick this week, just two years into what was billed as a five-year, $42.5 million deal. An injury that limited him to just six games last year was one reason, but Odrick’s off-field interests may have been another.

Odrick is his own man, as detailed last offseason by TheMMQB.com. He says he’s not “blinded by the religion of football.” He spends his time off in Canada, which he says he prefers because America is a “gun culture” that was “built on the backs of slaves.” He has his own methods of training and nutrition, and they aren’t like those of most NFL players. He hopes to go into acting and writing after his football career is over.

According to ESPN.com, all those off-field interests sometimes caused some minor friction in the building.

There are some organizations that would be fine with all of that. But the Jaguars are now an organization run by Tom Coughlin who is very much an old-school football guy. And he wants to surround himself with old-school football guys.

If Odrick had played 16 games and recorded 10 sacks last season, the Jaguars would probably not have much of a problem with his off-field interests. But Odrick played six games and had one sack. That’s not the kind of production that can withstand “minor friction.”

For his part, Odrick doesn’t seem too broken up about it. He posted on Instagram a picture of himself at what he says was the moment he found out the Jaguars cut him. He’s at the beach, with a grin on his face.

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Kirk Cousins won’t sign new deal before application of franchise tag

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 24:  Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins looks to pass the football in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington has nine days to apply the franchise tag to quarterback Kirk Cousins. One way to avoid using it would be to sign Cousins to a long-term deal before then.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Cousins won’t be doing that.

As explained last week in reference to all players facing the tag, there’s no reason to do it before the player is tagged. The formula for doing a long-term deal doesn’t change after the tag is applied, and the deadline for turning the tag into a long-term contract continues to be July 15.

Absent a significant premium, Cousins has every reason to sit tight and draw a second franchise tag. By rule, he’d be essentially insulated from ever being franchise-tagged again, since he’d be entitled to a 44-percent raise over his franchise tag or a similar markup upon application of the franchise tag for the third time in his career.

And so the flow chart for Washington is simple through March 1: Tag him or don’t tag him. If he’s tagged, Cousins will rush to sign it, adding $23.94 million to the $19.95 million he earned last year. Then, talks on a long-term deal likely will consist of Cousins receiving $23.94 million fully guaranteed in 2017, plus a 20-percent raise (reflecting the increase arising from use of the transition tag) fully guaranteed for 2018. It’s a total of $52.67 million over two years; for anything less than that, Cousins should again take it year to year.

Before anyone accuses Cousins of being greedy, unreasonable, or not “worth” a contract that would make him the highest paid player in the NFL history, he’s simply playing the cards he has been dealt under the CBA and the salary cap. Washington could have signed him to a very reasonable long-term deal after his third season or during his fourth season. Once he completed his rookie contract healthy and effective, the leverage swung to Cousins — and he has taken full advantage of it.

If fans are inclined to blame Cousins for that, the blame is better directed at the team, for not giving Cousins a reasonable degree of financial security until he was in position to finagle nearly $44 million over two years.

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Julius Thomas has meeting, physical set in Miami Tuesday

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The expected trades of tight end Julius Thomas from the Jaguars to the Dolphins and offensive tackle Branden Albert from the Dolphins to the Jaguars are awaiting final details, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday evening.

Thomas will be in Miami Tuesday for a physical, one of the final steps to the trade being finalized. Rapoport tweeted that Thomas has agreed to re-do his contract.

Per the report, the Jaguars will give up a 2018 late-round pick for Albert, who spent Monday in Jacksonville and is expected to discuss his contract with team officials Tuesday. Though it was originally reported that a player-for-player swap could happen, these trades are expected to be processed separately.

The Dolphins will give up a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft for Thomas, who had his best seasons in 2013-14 with the Broncos when Dolphins head coach Adam Gase was the offensive coordinator in Denver.

No trades can be made official until the new league year opens March 9.

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