Seven franchise tags used before deadline passes


The deadline for teams to use franchise tags passed on Wednesday afternoon and seven of them were handed out before the curtain dropped.

Of the seven, two of the tags were of the exclusive variety. Neither Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins nor Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will be eligible to negotiate with other clubs, who would have to add two first-round picks as compensation to any offer to sign the players away. Either one could be traded by their current teams, something that’s been bandied about as a possibility, an unlikely one for what it’s worth, for Cousins.

There can be a difference in the value of the exclusive tag compared to the non-exclusive one, but Cousins’ salary is dictated by being franchise tagged two years in a row while the formulas for figuring out running back tenders left Bell with the same number in either case.

Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones, Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson are the players who received the non-exclusive tag. All are eligible to entertain offers from other clubs and all seven of the tagged players have until July 15 to negotiate multi-year deals with their teams.

Tuesday morning one-liners


CB Corey White is one of the Bills heading for free agency.

Would the Dolphins make a play for LB Dont’a Hightower in free agency?

The Patriots found their new tight ends coach.

Does Nick Mangold’s departure from the Jets set the stage for further veteran cuts?

S Matt Elam was a busted first-round pick, but probably not the one that hurt the Ravens the most on the field.

Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons likes the idea of sticking with K Randy Bullock.

Browns T Joe Thomas doesn’t have the most pleasant memories of the Scouting Combine.

The Steelers invested in a pair of offensive stars on Monday.

Texans DT D.J. Reader is easing into his first NFL offseason.

Which free agents will the Colts retain this offseason?

Mike Mayock of NFL Media thinks the Jaguars will get a difference-maker with the fourth pick.

Will the Titans draft more offensive line help?

Some caution about the Broncos drafting an offensive lineman in the first round.

A look at how the draft shapes up for the Chiefs.

Reviewing the work of the Raiders’ 2016 rookie class.

The Chargers didn’t want to go to Los Angeles without LB Melvin Ingram.

Any move for a backup quarterback will have to wait until the Cowboys deal with Tony Romo.

Former Giants RB Rashad Jennings may be wearing dancing shoes in the near future.

Considering the possibility of an Eagles run at WR Alshon Jeffery.

Will the Redskins find themselves without an option other than trading QB Kirk Cousins?

The way they use the third overall pick will reveal what kind of team the Bears want to be.

Is Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey a potential Lions draft pick?

It’s not easy to predict the free agent market for Packers DB Micah Hyde.

Vikings WR Adam Thielen is a frequent visitor to the gym as well as a part-owner.

A call for the Falcons to draft for help on the offensive and defensive lines.

There’s no expectation that the Panthers will be rescinding DT Kawann Short’s franchise tag.

Will S Jairus Byrd remain with the Saints?

Buccaneers CB Brent Grimes hit playing time incentives.

David Johnson could have new company in the Cardinals backfield.

Getting to know a bit about Rams tight ends coach Shane Waldron.

The 49ers will be looking for plenty of help at the Scouting Combine.

Offensive tackle remains a position of need for the Seahawks.

Report: Chargers to add LaDainian Tomlinson to front office

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New Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson is getting a new job.

Tomlinson will be taking a position in the Los Angeles’ Chargers front office, Fred Roggin of NBC Los Angeles reports.

There’s no word on whether this job will be ceremonial in nature and focused mostly on public relations, or whether he’ll have some say in the football operation. The latter would seem unlikely as Tomlinson hasn’t always been on the same page as the Chargers, including saying last year that he thought they should trade Philip Rivers.

Tomlinson also has a job on NFL Network, where he’s already based in Los Angeles.

Chargers place franchise tag on Melvin Ingram

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The Chargers have placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, per multiple reports.

With the deadline for franchise tags coming Wednesday, the Chargers moving to keep Ingram off the market comes as no surprise. He would have been one of the top players and pass rushers on the free agent market had he made it that far, and the Chargers hope to keep him and Joey Bosa as building blocks of their defense going forward.

Ingram, 27, had eight sacks last season and has 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

Ingram joins pass-rushers Chandler Jones of the Cardinals and Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants in getting the franchise tag, which buys their teams time to work on a long-term deal with the new league year set to open March 9.

PFT’s Free Agent Hot 100

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The following are PFT’s top 100 free agents for the start of the 2017 league year. The rankings include prospective unrestricted and restricted free agents, as well as released players. Players expected to be released won’t be added until the transaction is official, and the list will be updated as events warrant, with signings, tags and re-signings denoted when announced and/or reported.

1. Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (got the franchise tag from the Steelers on Feb. 27).

2. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins (got the exclusive franchise tag).

3. Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram (got the franchise tag from the Chargers on Feb. 27).

4. Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short (got the franchise tag from the Panthers on Feb. 27).

5. Chiefs safety Eric Berry (signed a six-year deal to stay with Chiefs).

6. Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (initially got the franchise tag, then later agreeed to an extension with the Cardinals).

7. Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (got the franchise tag).

8. Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye (agreed to a rich contract with the Jaguars).

9. Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower (signed a new deal to stay with the Patriots).

10. Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (will reportedly sign a rich contract with the Jaguars).

11. Bengals guard Kevin Zeitler (reportedly agreed to a deal with the Browns to become the league’s highest-paid guard).

12. Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (agreed to terms with the Eagles).

13. Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson (will reportedly sign a rich contract with the Buccaneers).

14. Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson (reportedly plans to sign with the Ravens).

15. Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams (signed a long-term deal to stay with the Ravens).

16. Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore (will reportedly sign a rich contract with the Patriots).

17. Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (got the franchise tag).

18. Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (signed a one-year deal with Washington).

19. Packers guard T.J. Lang (signed with the Lions, his hometown team).

20. Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (signed with the Rams).

21. Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons (agreed to a two-year deal with the Dolphins).

22. Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe (signed a one-year deal with the Falcons).

23. Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry (signed a deal to stay with Green Bay).

24. Ravens offensive tackle Rick Wagner (reportedly has agreed to terms with the Lions).

25. Cowboys guard Ronald Leary (reportedly agreed to terms with the Broncos).

26. Lions guard Larry Warford (reportedly agreed to a deal with the Saints).

27. Patriots safety Duron Harmon (agreed to a deal to stay with the Patriots).

28. Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (restricted, got the first-round tender)

29. Washington defensive end Chris Baker (agreed to a deal with the Buccaneers).

30. Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett (signed with the Packers).

31. Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara (signed a one-year deal with the Bears).

32. Lions offensive tackle Riley Reiff (reportedly agreed to a deal with the Vikings).

33. Packers safety Micah Hyde (signed with the Bills).

34. Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (signed a new deal to stay with the Dolphins).

35. Patriots outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard (signed with the Colts).

36. Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan (signed with the Titans).

37. Packers offensive lineman JC Tretter (reportedly will sign with the Browns.

38. Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon (signed with the Bears).

39. Cardinals safety D.J. Swearinger (agreed to a three-year deal with Washington).

40. Cowboys safety Barry Church (signed with the Jaguars).

41. Broncos offensive tackle Russell Okung (signed with the Chargers).

42. Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (agreed to terms with the Jets).

43. Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (agreed to a deal to stay with the Bengals).

44. Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter (signed with Bengals).

45. Texans outside linebacker John Simon (signed a three-year deal with the Colts).

46. Eagles defensive tackle Bennie Logan (signed with the Chiefs).

47. Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley (signed a long-term deal to stay with the Saints).

48. Bills linebacker Zach Brown. (signed with Washington.)

49. Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. (signed with Colts.)

50. Washington wide receiver Pierre Garcon (signed with the 49ers).

51. Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso (restricted, got the first-round tender).

52. Jets offensive tackle Ryan Clady.

53. Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (announced his retirement).

54. Jaguars safety Jonathan Cyprien (signed with the Titans)

55. Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer (signed with the 49ers).

56. Bills outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (signed a new deal to stay with the Bills).

57. Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (signed a four-year deal with the Panthers).

58. Raiders running back Latavius Murray (signed a three-year deal with the Vikings).

59. Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson (signed a deal to stay with Carolina).

60. Ex-Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (announced his retirement).

61. 49ers linebacker Gerald Hodges (signed with the Bills).

62. Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch (agreed to a deal to stay with the Patriots).

63. Jaguars offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum (signed with the Jets).

64. Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (restricted, got the second-round tender from the Browns).

65. Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (signed with Eagles).

66. Packers running back Eddie Lacy (signed with the Seahawks).

67. Rams safety T.J. McDonald (signed with the Dolphins).

68. Colts tight end Jack Doyle (reportedly agreed to a new deal with the Colts).

69. Eagles offensive lineman Stefen Wisnieswki (signed a new deal to stay with the Eagles).

70. Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (signed a two-year deal to stay with the Steelers).

71. Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk (signed with the 49ers).

72. Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (signed with the Cardinals).

73. Ex-Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (signed with the 49ers).

74. Packers tight end Jared Cook (signed with the Raiders).

75. Buccaneers safety Bradley McDougald (signed with the Seahawks).

76. Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (restricted, got the second-round tender).

77. Ex-Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (agreed to a deal with the Giants).

78. Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt (agreed to a four-year deal with the Browns).

79. Ex-Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner.

80. Rams defensive tackle Dominique Easley (Signed restricted free agent tender with Rams).

81. Cowboys defensive end Jack Crawford (agreed to a three-year deal with the Falcons).

82. Titans tight end Anthony Fasano (reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Dolphins).

83. Ex-Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (signed with Saints).

84. Ex-49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith (plans to sign with the Eagles)

85. Washington center John Sullivan. (Signed with the Rams.)

86. Colts outside linebacker Erik Walden.

87. Ex-Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (signed with Broncos).

88. Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (plans to sign with the Raiders).

89. Dolphins tight end Dion Sims (reportedly agreed to a deal with the Giants).

90. Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers (signed with the Panthers).

91. Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox (agreed to terms with the Buccaneers).

92. Texans tight end Ryan Griffin (agreed to a new deal to stay in Houston).

93. Bills wide receiver Robert Woods (signed with the Rams)

94. Seahawks linebacker Michael Morgan.

95. Ex-Jets center Nick Mangold.

96. Ex-Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy

97. Vikings offensive tackle Andre Smith (signed with the Bengals).

98. Browns offensive lineman Austin Pasztor.

99. Chargers safety Jahleel Addae (agreed to a deal to remain with the Chargers).

100. Ravens defensive end Lawrence Guy (signed with the Patriots).

101. Chargers running back Danny Woodhead (signed with the Ravens)

102. Raiders outside linebacker Perry Riley.

103. Ex-Jaguars defensive tackle Jared Odrick.

104. Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr (signed with the Ravens).

105. Buccaneers center Joe Hawley (signed a new to stay in Tampa Bay).

106. Packers outside linebacker Datone Jones (signed with the Vikings).

107. Seahawks tight end Luke Willson (signed a one-year deal to stay in Seattle).

108. Colts safety Mike Adams (signed a two-year deal with Carolina).

109. Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken (signed with the Colts).

110. Ravens running back Terrance West (restricted, signed tender).

111. Packers outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott (restricted, signed a one-year deal to stay in Green Bay).

Team-by-team look at potential tag candidates

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With only a few days left and no tags applied, it’s time to take a look at where the franchise and transition tags could land between now and Wednesday, March 1.

So let’s take our annual team-by-team look at the tag candidates. Better never than late.

Dolphins: No tags are likely in Miami. Receiver Kenny Stills will likely get No. 1 money elsewhere, and the Dolphins can’t justify tagging him with Jarvis Landry on the roster and now eligible for a second contract.

Bills: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore wants big money on a long-term deal. He’ll get a chance to get it elsewhere; the franchise tag is unlikely for the man who has finished a five-year rookie contract in Buffalo.

Jets: A season after tagging Muhammad Wilkerson, they’ve got no impending free agents worthy of the tag this year.

Patriots: Linebacker Dont’a Hightower has surmised that the trade of Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins makes it more likely that Hightower remains in the long-term plans. Absent a long-term deal before March 9, only the franchise tag will ensure another year with the guy who made one of the key plays in Super Bowl LI. For now, whether it’s used remains up in the air.

Steelers: Running back Le’Veon Bell is the prime candidate, but the expected investment of $12 million could be too much for the Steelers. The transition tag is a possibility as well, if no other team would be willing to offer huge money for a guy with a history of injuries and suspensions.

Bengals: Tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler are the two top candidates. Because all offensive lineman are lumped into the same bucket for the franchise tag, however, guards and centers rarely if ever get tagged. Given Whitworth’s age and the team’s frugality, a tag for him isn’t likely, either.

Browns: Has receiver Terrelle Pryor done enough to merit the tag? It would be an amazing development if it happens, but the Browns need to find a way to retain a player who has yet to reach his ceiling at his new position — and who has the kind of zeal and passion for his team and his city that more Browns players need.

Ravens: Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is the team’s top candidate, but the Ravens haven’t been bashful about letting big-money players go and reloading from below. If they believe in Michael Pierce, the Ravens could be willing to let Williams walk — and to reel in a third-round compensatory draft pick in 2018 in return for him.

Texans: They seem to be willing to let cornerback A.J. Bouye hit the market and walk away.

Colts: To use the franchise tag, it’s important to have quality players beyond a franchise quarterback.

Titans: The biggest name to hit free agency belongs to guard Chance Warmack. Since guards get lumped in with tackles, it will be too expensive to tag a guy who didn’t do enough to prompt the Titans to pick up the fifth-year option.

Jaguars: One of the benefits of having a roster with talent that skews young is that none of the impending free agents cry out “tag me.”

Broncos: A year after a protracted and at times nasty fight with linebacker Von Miller, the Broncos have no tag-worthy free agents.

Chiefs: They’ll have to decide between $12.96 million for safety Eric Berry or roughly the same for defensive tackle Dontari Poe, if neither signs a long-term deal by Wednesday. Berry has said he won’t play under the franchise tag, even though his one-year haul would exceed the top of the market at the safety position.

Chargers: Quarterbacks and men who hit quarterbacks are the two most valuable types of player in today’s NFL. With Joey Bosa on one side and Melvin Ingram on the other, the Chargers need to keep both around. With Bosa in the second-year of a wage-scale contract, they can afford to tag Ingram.

Raiders: They reportedly expect running back Latavius Murray to leave. Which means they don’t expect to tag him. Which makes sense, since few running backs are worth $12 million or more for one year.

Cowboys: The Cowboys have a few free agents (like cornerback Morris Claiborne) but none that deserve to be tagged.

Washington: Quarterback Kirk Cousins will, by all indications, be tagged. Even though it will cost the team $23.94 million for 2017. On top of the $19.95 million paid last year.

Giants: Two years ago, they tagged Jason Pierre-Paul. And then he had a serious fireworks injury. Last year, he signed a team-friendly one-year deal. This year, they may be tagging him again. They should, given the way he performed in 2016.

Eagles: The Eagles have plenty of needs to address, and their cap space won’t be strapped by tagging one of their looming free agents.

Vikings: Their best free agents (Matt Kalil, Cordarrelle Patterson) aren’t good enough to justify the tag.

Packers: Not long ago, it appeared running back Eddie Lacy wouldn’t be tagged in 2017 because he’d have a long-term deal. He won’t be tagged for very different reasons.

Lions: Next year, Matthew Stafford (absent a new deal). This year, no one.

Bears: It doesn’t make sense to devote more than $17 million to receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has now had two consecutive subpar contract years. However, if coach John Fox and G.M. Ryan Pace are truly on the hot seat, it could be money well spent if it saves their jobs.

Panthers: Defensive tackle Kawann Short likely will be tagged. The only open question is whether, and when, he’ll sign it. And, if he doesn’t, whether the team will yank it.

Buccaneers: The best news for a team on the rise is that none of the free agents merit a tag

Falcons: The best news for a team in its prime is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

Saints: The best news for a team still stuck in neutral is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

Seahawks:  The best news for a team potentially on the decline is that none of the free agents merit a tag.

49ers: The best news for a team with nowhere to go but up . . . you get the idea.

Cardinals: Owner Michael Bidwill has said that defensive end Chandler Jones will be franchise-tagged absent a new deal.

Rams: They’re considering applying the franchise tag for the second straight year to cornerback Trumaine Johnson.

Sunday morning one-liners

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Will S Robert Blanton be back with the Bills?

A couple of guards that could interest the Dolphins in the draft.

Any NFL prospect with a lacrosse background is going to hear about Patriots WR Chris Hogan.

C Nick Mangold’s time with the Jets has come to an end.

Ravens FB Kyle Juszczyk is headed for free agency.

CB Dre Kirkpatrick may be leaving the Bengals next month.

Browns DT Danny Shelton would love to see more defensive linemen arrive in the draft.

Pass rushing remains an area the Steelers would like to improve.

A review of the Texans wide receivers.

One player can’t fix the Colts, but nailing their first-round pick would still help.

Will the Jaguars consider a running back in the first round?

Assessing the need for a new backup for Titans QB Marcus Mariota.

Setting the stage for the Broncos ahead of the combine.

Running through some mock draft predictions for the Chiefs.

Raiders G Kelechi Osemele is having an adventurous offseason.

Which needs will the Chargers address in the draft?

Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson celebrated the 25th anniversary of a Cowboys Super Bowl title together.

Alabama TE O.J. Howard pops up on a list of draft prospects for the Giants to ponder.

A look at what the Eagles may do at safety this offseason.

Linebackers for the Redskins to watch at the combine.

Bears RB Jordan Howard donated $10,000 to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation in honor of his late father.

The Lions have cap space to make moves in free agency.

The Packers got a fifth-round compensatory pick after losing CB Casey Hayward in free agency last year.

The oversight board for the Vikings stadium is at full strength after new additions.

Extensions will keep a couple of potential Falcons free agents off the market.

Darrel Young could be the Panthers’ fullback in 2017.

Will the Saints pay up for a pass rusher in free agency?

The Buccaneers need to find some new playmakers.

A special teams primer for the Cardinals.

The Rams may not have a first-round pick, but they still have plenty to do at the combine.

Free agency hasn’t opened, but the 49ers have already been busier than they were in last year’s session.

Offensive line isn’t the only area the Seahawks need to address this offseason.

Friday morning one-liners

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Bills WR Robert Woods has free agency on his mind.

If LB Dont’a Hightower hits free agency, will the Dolphins make a run at signing him?

Patriots QB Tom Brady shared video of a blunder on the slopes.

Running through some candidates to replace Nick Folk as the Jets’ kicker.

Breaking down Ravens WR Kamar Aiken ahead of free agency.

A look at how the Bengals evaluate prospects during the Scouting Combine.

The Browns expect to add secondary help in free agency.

Former Steelers S Carnell Lake recounted watching Deion Sanders run the 40 when both players were at the Scouting Combine.

T Duane Brown believes the Texans will benefit from C Nick Martin’s return to health.

Colts G Jack Mewhort is feeling healthier.

LB Paul Posluszny is happy Todd Wash is back as Jaguars defensive coordinator.

Tight end options for the Titans to consider in the draft.

As expected, free agent DT Earl Mitchell paid the Broncos a visit.

The top special teams plays of the Chiefs season.

T Donald Penn says he and his Raiders teammates believe G.M. Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves this offseason.

Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley promises to make the most of Joey Bosa’s versatility.

Five questions the Cowboys will try to answer in Indianapolis.

The Giants could be saying goodbye to DT Johnathan Hankins in free agency.

A look at some wide receivers that could interest the Eagles in the draft.

LB Mason Foster’s game has been rejuvenated with the Redskins.

George Halas, Red Grange and Dick Butkus will represent the Bears in the Illinois Sports Hall of Fame.

Will the Lions bring in a free agent wide receiver?

The neck injury that ended S Nick Collins’ career with the Packers didn’t take away his love for football.

Said Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman of WR Laquon Treadwell, “He is so determined to be a good player, and he has the skill set to do it. But we were never able to get him on track. He is going to be a good player with us. I do believe that in my heart.”

The Falcons name five breakout candidates for 2017.

A trade is among the mock draft predictions for the Panthers.

DT Nick Fairley’s future is a big question in Saints free agency.

CB Alterraun Verner was one of several recent free agent signings that didn’t work out for the Buccaneers.

The Cardinals have a couple of safeties headed for free agency.

Rams defensive line coach Bill Johnson is excited about the players making up his unit.

Could the 49ers take another defensive lineman in the first round?

Should the Seahawks consider a reunion with T Breno Giacomini?

Philip Rivers gets emotional in return to San Diego

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Even if he hasn’t been gone long, Philip Rivers was back home for a night, so you’ll have to pardon him if that hit him.

The quarterback of the Los Angeles Chargers was back in San Diego Tuesday night, to see teammate Nick Hardwick honored at the San Diego Hall of Champions dinner. And though he has a new professional address, it’s clear the bonds he created at the old one run deep with him, as he got emotional as he spoke.

“I hope you’ll always see me as a [San Diego Charger],” Rivers said, via Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “My time here and my love for San Diego will always be great. I’ll be forever grateful for my time there.”

“But,” he went on, “at the same time, I hope the people understand here, too, that I do have to move forward and get excited about where we’re headed.”

Rivers told the crowd how grateful he was for his 13 years there, about how people would come up to him in grocery stores to thank him.

“I certainly appreciated San Diego’s passion for us on the field and just in general the people in the community, and their support,” he said. “And, I’d like to think that they appreciated the passion I played with.

“I feel like the people here see the real me.”

It will probably be harder for him to create the same kind of bond in Los Angeles, as the Chargers try to establish themselves as the second football team while playing in a half-scale soccer stadium. But they will at least have the benefit of a guy who appears to put his entire personality into wherever he is.

Sean Payton: We’ve got to add a pass rusher

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The Saints are coming off their third straight 7-9 season and a third straight season with a defense that ranked at the bottom of the league, which doesn’t make for much suspense when it comes to discussing areas of focus for the offseason.

New Orleans needs to get better on defense and coach Sean Payton knows where he wants to start that process. Payton wants more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

“It’s a must. We’ve got to find a pass rusher,” Payton said, via the team’s website. “Now, whether that comes from free agency or that comes from the draft, we have to be better at affecting the quarterback. Last year if you took hurries, sacks, pressures — a study of all three things that can happen with a rush — we were in the bottom third of the league and that has to get better.”

With Chandler Jones and Melvin Ingram looking like strong candidates for the franchise tag, defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Mario Addison could be the top free agent options coming off the edge. The draft will likely offer several possibilities for New Orleans to consider with the 11th overall pick and using both routes might be the best approach for a team in serious need of a defensive upgrade.

Sunday morning one-liners

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A look at what free agency will bring for Bills WR Brandon Tate.

Assessing the cost of the Dolphins bringing back WR Kenny Stills.

What will the Patriots do at tight end this offseason?

Former Jets G Damien Woody was “shocked” by CB Darrelle Revis’ arrest.

The case for the Ravens drafting a cornerback in the first round.

An update on Bengals RB Giovani Bernard’s recovery from a torn ACL.

When should the Browns address the quarterback position?

The Steelers still aren’t sure what they have in CB Senquez Golson.

Texans DE J.J. Watt donated $10,000 to a Wisconsin family dealing with the aftereffects of a fatal car accident.

Some praise for a pair of Colts rookies.

Alabama DL Jonathan Allen could fit with the Jaguars.

Will the Titans draft players with local ties this year?

Four free agent options for the Broncos at wide receiver.

A look at which positions are popular picks for the Chiefs in mock drafts.

A breakdown of the Raiders defensive line.

The Chargers like what they got from rookie LB Jatavis Brown.

An attempt at figuring out a way the Cowboys could make a run at signing DE Jason Pierre-Paul.

Will the Giants trade for a left tackle?

An optimistic take on the Eagles defense for 2017.

How much roster turnover will the Redskins have this year?

The film will help the Bears make a quarterback decision.

Lions RB Ameer Abdullah appears to be on track in his injury rehab.

Remembering when former Packers DE Willie Davis stood with Muhammad Ali.

WR Adam Thielen’s contract is a hot topic around the Vikings.

A breakdown of the Falcons defensive backs.

The Panthers have started working on their offensive line.

The Saints have decisions to make at safety.

Will the Buccaneers have a shot at drafting Florida State RB Dalvin Cook?

General Manager Steve Keim said the Cardinals’ contract talks with LB Chandler Jones have gone well.

Fixing the Rams offensive line isn’t a quick job.

The 49ers have a youthful coaching staff at the top.

There are several tackle options available for the Seahawks.

Anthony Lynn: We can take Melvin Gordon to another level

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When Anthony Lynn was hired as the Chargers’ head coach, running back Melvin Gordon said that he thought Lynn was the perfect coach to bring out the best in him.

The feeling appears to be mutual. Gordon had more success in his second NFL season than he did as a rookie, something Lynn noticed while watching tape of the running back. He also told Gordon “that we can take this to another level” once they start working together.

“He’s not there yet,” Lynn said, via “But that’s what is encouraging to me. When I look at the tape, I say, ‘Oh my goodness, we can help him get better here and here.’ And he’s already good. But there’s more yards [to be gained].”

Lynn was a running backs coach before rising to interim offensive coordinator and interim head coach with the Bills last season, something he feels gives him an insight into the “little things” that backs can do to maximize their production. If those little things translate to a big jump for Gordon, Lynn’s chances of success in his first year will look good.

Chargers left tackle King Dunlap arrested for violating protective order

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Chargers left tackle King Dunlap was arrested last night in Nashville, for violating an order of protection filed by his girlfriend.

He has posted bond and was released from jail, and his lawyer told WKRN the issue was a “misunderstanding,” after he went to the girlfriend’s house to get some clothes.

“This event was a misunderstanding between the parties as to what was allowed under the order,” attorney Worrick Robinson said. “They had been discussing a joint resolution. This was not an egregious event, but two parties trying to come to a mutual understanding.

“Unfortunately a literal reading of the order meant absolutely no contact, and we trust the facts will resolve all issues in a favorable way for Mr. Dunlap.”

Neighbors apparently called police when they saw Dunlap’s car in the woman’s driveway.

Friday morning one-liners

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A look at the Bills’ history using the franchise tag.

Will the Dolphins make another trade for a cornerback?

The dulcet tones of Patriots coach Bill Belichick will be featured as the narration on a World War II film.

A call for the Jets to release CB Darrelle Revis right now.

A review of the Ravens’ special teams work in 2016.

Banging the drum for former Bengals T Willie Anderson’s Hall of Fame cause.

Debating DE Myles Garrett’s fit as the top pick for the Browns.

The Steelers don’t have to sign T Alejandro Villanueva to a long-term deal, but that may be their hope.

Texans CB Johnathan Joseph is looking forward to training camp in West Virginia.

The Colts secondary should look different next season.

The Jaguars are focused on being better on the line of scrimmage.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota’s peers share their thoughts of his first two seasons.

The Broncos have some defensive needs this offseason.

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles is helping to raise money for Special Olympics athletes.

A tweet by Raiders QB Derek Carr received a fairly negative response.

The Chargers may be losing LB Melvin Ingram this offseason.

The skies weren’t overly friendly for Cowboys DT Tyrone Crawford recently.

Giants WR Odell Beckham got an autograph request from Drake.

A preview of offseason machinations on the Eagles offensive line.

Is WR Pierre Garcon going to leave the Redskins?

Former Bears DT Tommie Harris wrote about the death of his wife.

The Lions think their new uniforms will get a positive response.

Two undrafted Packers running backs had very different experiences in 2016.

The Vikings have several ways to create cap space.

Running through all of Falcons LB Vic Beasley’s 15.5 sacks in 2016.

Panthers DE Charles Johnson has been making the rounds this offseason.

An argument in favor of the Saints re-signing RB Tim Hightower.

Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston spoke to Yankee prospects at their spring training facility in Tampa.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians doesn’t expect Ben Roethlisberger to retire this year.

Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur discussed some of his plans for his first season with the team.

Five 49ers needs and players who could fill them.

Will the Seahawks make a play for a veteran offensive tackle?

Thursday morning one-liners

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With the tag window open, the Bills have a decision to make on CB Stephon Gilmore.

The transition tag could come into play for the Dolphins.

The first offseason job for the Patriots is getting TE Rob Gronkowski well again.

Is Rex still screwing things up for Jets owner Woody Johnson?

Another speedy WR could be a fit with the Ravens in round one.

The Bengals aren’t really into the whole franchise tag scene.

One analyst thinks there’s no QB worth the Browns taking No. 1 overall.

Determining the market for Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell is tricky.

Count the Texans among the teams unlikely to use the franchise tag.

The Colts secondary should look dramatically different.

The Jaguars worked on their depth yesterday.

The Titans don’t want to be reality TV stars.

Broncos C Matt Paradis had successful surgery on his other hip.

The Chiefs must trust Tyler Bray, or have a Plan B in mind.

Chargers OT Chris Hairston still wants to thank San Diego.

The Raiders don’t really have anyone to play tag with.

Another day, another workout video for Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith.

RB Adrian Peterson keeps making eyes at the Giants.

Basically, you can ask if the Eagles are interested in every WR in the world.

Is Washington paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice on QB Kirk Cousins.

The Jay Cutler era should change the way the Bears view QBs.

The Lions are thinking Super Bowl, sort of.

A look at the legacies of a few recent former Packers.

A look at the Vikings’ 19 free agents.

The Falcons’ trade history has been mixed.

A Q and A with outgoing Panthers president Danny Morrison.

The Saints have a rare year of offseason peace with QB Drew Brees.

The Buccaneers are in position to add to speedy WR help.

It’s just a matter of time before the Cardinals tag Chandler Jones.

New Rams coordinator Wade Phillips is the master of quick turnarounds.

49ers RB Carlos Hyde is still a “work in progress,” according to his old coach.

A glut of starting LTs in free agency is good news for the Seahawks.