James Starks set to re-sign with Packers


James Starks was set to visit the Pittsburgh Steelers this week. Instead, he’s decided he’s perfectly happy in the Midwest.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Starks is set to re-sign with the Green Bay Packers on a two-year deal. While the deal is not yet completed, it is considered “imminent.

Starks was Green Bay’s second-leading rusher last season behind rookie Eddie Lacy. Starks had 89 carries for 493 yards and three touchdowns for the Packers while Lacy was named to the Pro Bowl with 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Starks elected to return to a crowded backfield in Green Bay. In addition to Lacy, Jonathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris also remain on the roster. Franklin had 19 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown in his rookie season. Harris missed last season due to injury but proved an effective option in 2012 with 157 yards and two touchdowns in four games for the Packers.

The Steelers, meanwhile, have been in search of help in their backfield. In addition to the scheduled visit with Starks, Pittsburgh has visits with Felix Jones and LaRod Stevens-Howling set up this week.

NFL could allow Blandino to assist with replay review

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At the Scouting Combine, the prevailing view on potential revisions to the replay system consisted of:  (1) no change to centralized replay review; and (2) the possible involvement of V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino during the replay review conducted on the field by the referee.

Peter King of TheMMQB.com reports that he’s hearing the NFL will “discuss and consider” allowing Blandino to consult with referees during the replay review.

Last month, the chatter at the Combine indicated that the league already had been trying, in certain circumstances, to give Blandino a chance in real time to prevent an erroneous replay ruling.

If that’s what ultimately is adopted, it’s better than nothing.  Better still would be the use of an on-site official who constantly monitors the available TV angles and intervenes not during the formal replay process but as the rulings on the field are made.

The tactic initially should be utilized for a fairly narrow band of blunders that can be quickly spotted and corrected.  If successful, it’s use should be expanded.

Regardless of scope, the potentially season-deciding failure of the officiating crew at the NFC title game to realize that 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman had the ball in his possession and was down by contact should be enough to get the league to ensure that, when the millions watching at home know more than the seven game officials combined, a quick fix can be made via an off-field official telling the referee through an ear piece that a big mistake is about to be made.

Agent says Jared Allen is talking to “several teams”


The top remaining player on the PFT Free Agent Hot 100 is former Vikings defensive end Jared Allen.  And Allen continues to draw plenty of interest.

Agent Ken Harris told PFT on Monday night that he spoke on Allen’s behalf with “several teams” during the three-day pre-free agency negotiating period, and that conversations with “several teams” continue.  While Allen has asked Harris not to comment on specific discussions or visits with other teams, multiple reports have indicated that Allen visited the Seahawks on Sunday, and that he’ll visit the Cowboys on Tuesday.

Allen nevertheless authorized Harris to explain that they “have been amazed” by the fact that “many people apparently believe” Allen rejected a $30 million offer during the negotiating period.

“While we feel that a player with his consistent production deserves a fair contract, that offer was not made to him,” Harris said.

Harris points out that Allen’s 11.5 sacks in 2013 topped the production of all other free-agent defensive ends, with the exception of Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (who currently is under contract after signing the franchise tender).

Allen averages 12.8 sacks per year, and he has averaged 15.1 in the last three.

“Jared loves the game of football, so if he finds the proper fit we will act on it,” Harris said.

From a charitable standpoint, Allen found the right fit with his Home for Wounded Warriors Foundation.  He was back in Minnesota on Monday, giving another home to an injured solder.  You can support the effort with a donation, if you’d like.

From a football standpoint, the fit depends on Allen’s priorities.   Some teams (like the Seahawks) will offer a better chance to win.  Others (like the Cowboys) could offer more money.  For Allen, who continues to play at a high level and be a positive force on the field and in the locker room, his decision will be shaped in large part whether the goal is to maximize his chances of winning a Super Bowl or maximizing his earning potential.

While it’s easy to say the priority should be winning, there’s only so much only one player can control in that regard.  Given the physical risks that players take, there’s nothing wrong with maximizing the number of zeroes that will show up on the W-2.

The PFT on NBCSN whiparound for Monday

The signature segment, even though we (i.e., I) routinely screw something up while delivering it, of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN is the league whiparound, a rapid-fire look at some of the various nuggets of NFL news.

Always informative and periodically humorous (sometimes intentionally), it’s a quick way to get up to speed on some of the developments of the day.

You can see it live at 5:30 p.m. ET.  And you can see it later if you DVR it.  And you can see today’s version right now if you click the box below.

It was one of the rare occasions during which I didn’t screw up very badly.

Griffin likely to shed brace in 2014


Last year, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III spent the season after ACL replacement surgery wearing a bulky brace.  This year, the brace apparently will be disappearing.

“I think it’s safe to say I won’t be wearing the brace,” Griffin told Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington.com on Monday night.

Griffin pointed out that he shed the brace the year after his ACL was repaired while at Baylor.  But he added that a conversation eventually will occur between the team’s trainer and his doctors.

Griffin struggled to recapture the explosiveness of his rookie season, possibly due to the large, clunky apparatus aimed at protecting and stabilizing the knee.  Without it, he’ll be at risk of further injury.

Raiders reel in Kevin Boothe

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The Raiders had millions to spend in free agency and plenty of needs to fill.  It adds up to an active week in Oakland.

The last new addition comes on the offensive line.  The Raiders have announced that Kevin Boothe has signed a free-agent deal.

For Boothe, it’s a return to the team that drafted him in 2006.  After appearing in 16 games (with 14 starts) as a rookie, the Raiders waived Boothe.

He then landed with the Giants, winning a pair of Super Bowl rings and starting 16 games in 2013.

Per a league source, it’s a two-year deal for Boothe, who played left guard and center for the Giants last year.

Britt emerges as an option for the Panthers


The early years of free-agent receiver Kenny Britt’s career were plagued by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Suddenly, he’s in the right place at the right time.

With the Panthers losing their top three wide receivers from 2013 and other viable options (Hakeem Nicks, James Jones) landing elsewhere, Carolina suddenly has interest in the eventually-to-be-former Titan.  And Britt has leverage.

A source familiar with Britt’s plan explains to PFT that he could be making other visits after completing his trip to Washington (currently, he’s en route), which follows visits to the Rams and Patriots.  One of those visits could be to Carolina.

The safest course of action would be to sign with the Rams, where he’d be reunited with former Titans coach Jeff Fisher.  But Britt, who has stayed out of trouble since July 2012, has opted to expand the net in search of other possibilities.

While Britt won’t be rushing to make a decision, there’s a chance he’ll select his next team within the week.  If it’s not the Panthers, Carolina will have cause to be even more concerned.  The buyer’s market at receiver has seen a lot of buying, with a shrinking supply remaining.

Options include Jerricho Cotchery, Santonio Holmes (who may not be healthy enough to pass a physical), Miles Auston, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Mario Manningham, Robert Meachem, and Josh Morgan.

PFT Whiparound: Irsay arrested for DUI

Mike Florio and Erik Kuselias bring us the top news and notes from all around the NFL, including Jim Irsay’s arrest, Dominic Rogers-Cromartie’s signing with the Giants and Teddy Bridgewater’s rather lackluster pro day.

PFT One-on-one: Bridgewater does not get nervous

Teddy Bridgewater talks with Shaun King during his pro day at Louisville. Bridgewater discusses his preparation for pro day, not getting nervous and which pro QBs he has received advice from.

Giants enjoy a little Holliday

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Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie wasn’t the only Bronco signed by the Giants on Monday.

They’ve also signed receiver/kick returner Trindon Holliday.  Per a league source, it’s a one-year deal.

Holliday, who has four combined return touchdowns in his regular-season career and scored two (one punt, one kickoff) in a January 2013 playoff loss to the Ravens, was a restricted free agent but the Broncos didn’t make a tender offer.  He visited the Falcons before agreeing to terms with the Giants.

He’s a Giant while anything but, standing a mere five feet and five inches tall.  Still, he’s shown that he can be a difference maker.  Holliday will get a chance to continue an impressive career in New York.

Lack of a cornerback a major issue for Rex Ryan


Jets coach Rex Ryan has always been upfront about the fact that he wants a shutdown cornerback on his defense. Ryan loved coaching Darrelle Revis, and Ryan was at his best as a coach when he had both Revis and Antonio Cromartie.

Now Ryan has neither Revis nor Cromartie. Nor any other top-flight cornerback. And he can’t be happy about that.

Ryan was believed to badly want the Jets to bring Revis back after the Buccaneers cut him, but he didn’t get his wish. Ryan’s Jets were also out-bid for the services of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who signed with the Giants today.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, a friend of Ryan said “Rex is pissed” about the team’s failure to land Rodgers-Cromartie or any other top cornerback in free agency.

Ryan is stuck with the defense that Jets G.M. John Idzik gives him. That defense won’t have a cornerback nearly as good as Revis this season, and barring something unforeseen happening it won’t have a cornerback as good as Cromartie, either. It’s easy to see why Ryan wouldn’t be happy about that.

PFT: New free agent signings

Erik Kuselias, Mike Florio, and Ross Tucker break down the recent signings of Dominic Rogers-Cromartie to the Giants and Julius Peppers to the Packers. Plus, what what is the likelihood of Jared Allen signing with the Cowboys?

Mathias Kiwanuka gets a pay cut from Giants

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As the Giants continue to add players, they keep going back to the well with veterans already on the team to create cap room.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the Giants restructured defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka’s deal to create just over $2 million worth of cap room.

His base salary dropped from $4.375 million to $1.5 million, and he picked up a new $700,000 roster bonus, with another $125,000 available in incentives.

It’s not as big of a pay cut as Chris Snee took to stay, but it beats being a cap casualty and looking for work a week into the free agent market.

Raiders reach three-year agreement with James Jones


The Raiders, who had no lack of money to spend in free agency, have made another addition, this time on offense.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Oakland has struck a three-year deal with Packers wide receiver James Jones, the fourth-best free agent left on the market, per PFT’s rankings.

A San Jose, California native, the 29-year-old Jones caught 59 passes for 817 yards and three touchdowns for the Packers in 2013. He joins a Raiders receiving corps that has shown some potential, with Rod Streater, Denarius Moore and Andre Holmes all intriguing.

Jones, who turns 30 at the end of March, will be the most experienced member of the Raiders’ receiving corps. He will also work again with Raiders G.M. Reggie McKenzie, who worked in the Packers’ personnel department for the first five seasons of Jones’ career (2007-2011) before departing for Oakland.

Numbers differ, for now, on DRC deal

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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was the odd man out in the game of cornerback musical chairs that got Aqib Talib and Darrelle Revis paid a lot of money.

DRC managed a decent consolation prize, by pitting the Jets against the Giants.  For now, though, it’s impossible to know just how much Rodgers-Cromartie will get.

Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News pegged the amount at $35 million over five years.  Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that it’s $39 million over five years.

Whatever it is (and we’ll break it all down when the contract is filed), it’s much less than what Rodgers-Cromartie could have gotten if he’d gotten a deal done with the Broncos last week.

For the Jets, it could mean that they’ll have to bring a non-hyphenated Cromartie — Antonio — back to the team.