Lions: Bisciotti’s comment on Ngata a “non-issue”

AP

Earlier this offseason, the Patriots filed tampering charges against the Jets concerning comments that Jets owner Woody Johnson made about being open to the return of cornerback Darrelle Revis if the Patriots didn’t pick up their option on Revis’s contract.

On Wednesday, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said something similar about defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. The Ravens traded Ngata to the Lions last month and Bisciotti said that there was a chance Ngata could return to the team next year.

“I respect Haloti. I had a wonderful conversation with him after he was traded,” Bisciotti said, via the Baltimore Sun. “We are going to miss him, but I haven’t heard anything about him getting an extension from Detroit. As far as I know, he could be a free agent a year from now, and we may be watching the second coming of Haloti Ngata.”

It was pretty similar to what the league looked into regarding Johnson, but it doesn’t look like there will be a cause for further investigation. The Lions released a statement Thursday saying that they weren’t concerned with what the Ravens owner said about a member of their roster.

“The Ravens have reached out to us concerning the comments made yesterday by Steve Bisciotti regarding Haloti Ngata,” the statement reads. “We appreciate both the Ravens’ professionalism and the context in which Mr. Bisciotti’s statements were made. We consider the matter to be a non-issue.”

If the Ravens and Lions shared the contentious relationship that the Patriots and Jets have had for the recent past, they may have had a more overheated response to Bisciotti’s comments. Since they don’t, the NFL can concern themselves with the Revis matter, Greg Hardy’s potential discipline, Deflategate and any other pending investigations still on their plate.

Gino Gradkowski passes physical, making trade to Broncos official

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The Broncos and Ravens agreed to a trade involving center Gino Gradkowski on Wednesday, but Gradkowski needed to pass his physical in Denver before the deal could become official.

Broncos vice president of public relations Patrick Smyth announced on Thursday afternoon that Gradkowski, who has had knee issues, passed that physical on Thursday. That means he’s now a member of the Broncos, who also acquired Baltimore’s fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft in exchange for a fourth-round selection.

The Broncos have been in the market for help at center since free agency opened. Will Montgomery, who closed last season by starting Denver’s final nine games, signed with the Bears on Thursday.

Gradkowski started for the Ravens in 2013, but his work failed to impress and the team acquired Jeremy Zuttah to man the position last season. Gradkowski barely played as a result, but it seems he showed Broncos coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, both of whom were in Baltimore last season, enough to bring him to Denver.

Dolphins sign former Giants linebacker Spencer Paysinger

AP

After an offseason spent watching linebackers leave, the Dolphins have finally brought one in.

The team announced they had signed former Giants linebacker Spencer Paysinger, who visited today.

Ostensibly, Paysinger replaces the depth/special teams role vacated by Jason Trusnik, who signed with the Panthers this week.

But after peeling away Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler this offseason, the Dolphins clearly needed all the depth they can get at the position.

Paysinger was a 10-game starter in 2013 for the Giants, but didn’t get much time on defense last year, and now has the chance at more of a role.

Bears release Anthony Walters

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Safety Anthony Walters returned for a second stint with the Bears late in the 2014 season, but it came to an end on Thursday.

The Bears announced that they have released Walters, who signed with the team in November after failing to make the Cardinals out of training camp.

Walters made the team as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and played in 33 games with the team over the next three seasons. He made one start and made 21 tackles while playing primarily on special teams. He played four more games for Chicago after returning to the team last year, but didn’t record a tackle.

Walters’s departure leaves the Bears with Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy and Brock Vereen at safety. Chris Conte left for Tampa as a free agent and unrestricted free agent Danny McCray has yet to find a job for the 2015 season.

NFL announces offseason workout/minicamp dates for all 32 teams

AP

It’s just about time for NFL players to get back to work with their teams.

Next Monday will bring the first days of offseason workout programs for several teams and the NFL has released the full schedule for all 32 teams. The first phase kicks off with strength and conditioning work on April 6 when many of the teams that made head coaching changes will welcome their players into the team’s facility to begin working toward the 2015 season.

The second phase of workouts includes on-field work, but no live contact or team drills are allowed. The final phase, which includes OTAs and mandatory minicamps, allows for team work with contact still barred until teams get to training camp.

Teams that hired new coaches this offseason are also granted an extra, voluntary minicamp for veteran players that must take place before the draft. This year, the teams that will get that extra minicamp are the Falcons, Bills, Bears, Broncos, Jets, Raiders and 49ers.

You can find the dates for every team by clicking right here.

NFL offseason workout dates for all 32 teams

AP

The draft is quickly approaching, but that’s not the next major milestone on the offseason schedules of the 32 NFL teams.

Offseason workout programs will be kicking off as soon as next Monday, marking the first point since the end of last season that players can work with their coaches on the field or in the weight room. Most of the sessions are voluntary, including up to 10 days of organized team activities or OTAs, although each team is permitted one mandatory minicamp that all players under contract must attend or risk fines from their teams.

Teams that hired new coaches are also permitted one voluntary minicamp for veteran players before the draft and they will also kick off their offseason conditioning program earlier than teams with incumbent coaches. There will also be rookie minicamps for each team after the draft, but those dates have not been announced yet. The rest of the dates appear below.

Arizona Cardinals – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 19-21, May 26-28, June 1-4; Mandatory Minicamp: June 9-11

Atlanta Falcons – First day of workouts: April 6; Voluntary Minicamp: April 27-30; OTAs: May 26-29, June 2-3, June 5, June 9-12; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Baltimore Ravens – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 1-3, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Buffalo Bills – First day of workouts: April 6; Voluntary Minicamp: April 28-30; OTAs: May 26-27,May 29, June 1, June 3-4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Carolina Panthers – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 2-4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Chicago Bears – First day of workouts: April 13; Voluntary Minicamp: April 28-30; OTAs: May 27-29, June 1-3, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Cincinnati Bengals – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 2-4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Cleveland Browns – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-27, May 29, June 1-2, June 4, June 8-9, June 11-12; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Dallas Cowboys – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 2-4, June 8-10; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Denver Broncos – First day of workouts: April 13; Voluntary Minicamp: April 28-30; OTAs: May 27-29, June 1-2, June 4, June 15-18; Mandatory Minicamp: June 9-11

Detroit Lions – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 2-4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Green Bay Packers – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 27-29, June 2-4, June 9-12, Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Houston Texans – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 1-2, June 4, June 8-9, June 11-12; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Indianapolis Colts – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 18-20, May 26-28, June 1-4; Mandatory Minicamp: June 9-11

Jacksonville Jaguars – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 1-2, June 4, June 8-9, June 11-12; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Kansas City Chiefs – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 2-4, June 9-12; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Miami Dolphins – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-27, May 29 June 1-2, June 4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Minnesota Vikings – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 2-4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

New England Patriots – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26, May 28-29, June 1, June 3-4, June 8-9, June 11-12; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

New Orleans Saints – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 2-4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

New York Giants – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 27-29, June 1-2, June 4, June 8-9, June 11-12; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

New York Jets – First day of workouts: April 6; Voluntary Minicamp: April 28-30; OTAs: May 19-21, May 26-28, June 2-5; Mandatory Minicamp: June 9-11

Oakland Raiders – First day of workouts: April 7; Voluntary Minicamp: April 21-23; OTAs: May 19-21, May 26-28, June 1-4; Mandatory Minicamp: June 9-11

Philadelphia Eagles – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 1-2, June 4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Pittsburgh Steelers – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 2-4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

St. Louis Rams – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: June 2, June 4-5, June 8-9, June 11, June 15-16, June 18-19; Mandatory Minicamp: None

San Diego Chargers – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 1-3, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

San Francisco 49ers – First day of workouts: April 7; Voluntary Minicamp: April 28-30; OTAs: May 19-21, May 27-29, June 1-2, June 4-5; Mandatory Minicamp: June 9-11

Seattle Seahawks – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-27, May 29, June 1-2, June 4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 2-4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Tennessee Titans – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs: May 26-28, June 1-2, June 4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

Washington Redskins – First day of workouts: April 20; OTAs:  May 26-28, June 2-4, June 8-11; Mandatory Minicamp: June 16-18

PFT on NBCSN takes closer look at Browns, Vikings draft plans

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Today’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN focuses on the draft plans of the teams with the 11th, 12th, and 19th picks in the first round of the draft.  Thanks to the Bills and the trade that allowed them to land Sammy Watkins last year, only two teams hold those three picks — the Vikings (11) and the Browns (12 and 19).

Some believe the Browns will consider moving up to get quarterback Marcus Mariota, despite moving up last year from No. 26 (the Trent Richardson pick) to No. 22 to get Johnny Manziel.  With Manziel dealing with off-field issues that caused him to voluntary enter rehab, it’s unclear whether he can become the guy the Browns envisioned him to be a year ago.

Which brings us to Thursday’s PFT Planet poll question.  Given his performance last year and the off-field challenges (which he deserves credit for confronting), will Manziel start a game in 2015?

Join us at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN for the results, and for draft discussions about running backs and quarterbacks and the Washington Pro Day workout and the news of the day and plenty of other stuff.

Paul Burmeister, Kevin Gilbride, and Takeo Spikes will be in the Connecticut studio.  I’ll be in my basement.  Possibly wearing pants.

Antonio Smith lands with Broncos

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The Broncos haven’t done much in free agency.  But they’ve done something now.

According to agent Drew Rosenhaus, defensive lineman Antonio Smith has signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Broncos.

Smith was recently cut by the Raiders, which means that the addition of Smith by the Broncos won’t count in the compensatory draft pick formula.

Antonio Smith started 16 games last year, in his only season with the Raiders.  He previously spent five years with the Texans and, before that, five years with the Cardinals.

In Denver, Smith will be reunited with former Texans coach Gary Kubiak and former Texans defensive line coach Bill Kollar.

Bengals bring back speedy quarterback Josh Johnson

AP

Josh Johnson, a quarterback whose athletic talent is great but whose NFL career has been limited by his lack of passing ability, has returned to one of his old NFL homes.

The Bengals announced today that they’ve signed Johnson to a free agent contract. Johnson previously spend the 2013 season as Andy Dalton’s backup in Cincinnati and will now compete with A.J. McCarron for the right to back Dalton up again.

Johnson was a fifth-round draft pick of the Buccaneers in 2008 and spent three years in Tampa Bay. He then signed with the 49ers in 2012, reuniting with his college coach at San Diego, Jim Harbaugh. That was the first of two stints with the 49ers, and Johnson has also spent time with the Browns.

Johnson has started five games in his NFL career, completing 54.2 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also has a 6.2-yard average as a runner.

Raiders sign J’Marcus Webb

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After bouncing around the NFL for the last few years, J’Marcus Webb has found another home in Oakland.

Webb, a huge offensive tackle who last played for the Vikings, signed with the Raiders today.

The 6-foot-7, 333-pound Webb was a seventh-round pick of the Bears in 2010 and earned a starting job as a rookie. He also started all 16 games in 2011 and 2012. But the Bears cut him at the end of the 2013 preseason, and he’s struggled to find work since.

In two stints with the Vikings Webb has started only one game, and he also had a brief stop in Kansas City but never played for the Chiefs.

At the moment the Raiders appear set with Donald Penn and Khalif Barnes as their starting offensive tackles, and 2013 second-round pick Menelik Watson as the top backup. Webb will try to prove he belongs somewhere in that mix.

Denarius Moore visiting with Bengals

AP

The Bengals haven’t stopped looking for wide receiver help now that Brandon Tate is back in the fold.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that Denarius Moore is visiting with the team on Thursday. Moore, who spent the last four years with the Raiders, visited with the Jets last month.

Moore was a regular starter for the Raiders during his first three years in the league, but saw his playing time drop during the 2014 season. He had 12 catches for 115 yards in 10 appearances with Oakland last year.

Speed has been Moore’s calling card at the professional level, which would make him a contender to provide Cincinnati with a deep threat if he winds up agreeing to a deal with the Bengals. That’s a role that Tate has played at times during his four years with the Bengals, which could lead to a competition between the two veterans for a roster spot leading up to next season.

Jets want to add another quarterback to their roster

AP

The Jets traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick last month, adding him to a quarterback depth chart that already featured Geno Smith and Matt Simms.

Fitzpatrick is still rehabbing the broken leg that ended his 2014 season, which will likely keep him limited until training camp. If things work out the way the Jets hope, there will be another quarterback involved in the team’s offseason work leading up to camp. During a conference call with season ticket holders on Thursday, coach Todd Bowles revealed the team’s plan at the position.

“Ryan’s going to compete, as well as Geno’s going to compete,” Bowles said, via NJ.com. “And we hope to add somebody else to help compete with that along with Simms.”

Given the paltry pickings available in free agency, the draft would seem to be the likeliest route to acquire such a player.

The Jets have been doing their homework on top draft prospects Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, but both may be off the board before they are on the clock with the sixth pick of the first round. A trade up remains a possibility or the Jets could opt to use a later round pick on Bryce Petty of Baylor, Brett Hundley of UCLA or another quarterback as they continue their search for a long-term answer at the position.

Jeff Fisher trying to not let relocation talk become a distraction

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Very few people in the NFL know the realities and complications of the relocation process quite like Rams coach Jeff Fisher.

But he’s learned from experience that there’s nothing he can do about it, other than focus on his job.

With the speculation at a fever pitch about the possibility of Rams owner Stan Kroenke taking his ball and going to Los Angeles, Fisher hears plenty of questions, but has some variation of the same answer.

“I’m looking forward to this year in St. Louis and hoping we can get things worked out,” Fisher said, via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It makes no sense for me or the players to spend time concerned about it, worried about it. If it happens, it happens. . . .

“You know, I’ve had some discussion with the players. And they’re actually more excited right now about what we’ve done in free agency, and looking forward to what we’re doing in the draft, and looking forward to coming back to work than they are talking about any potential to relocate.”

Fisher had ringside seats for this process once before, as the coach of the Houston Oilers, who left Texas after the 1996 season. They camped for a year in Memphis (1997) and in Vanderbilt’s stadium (1998) before landing fully in their own stadium as the Tennessee Titans. It worked out well, since they went to the Super Bowl shortly thereafter.

“Having gone through it however, I don’t think it’d be fair to compare both situations,” Fisher said. “But the end result was good [in Tennessee]. . . .But going to ’96 and early ’97, we focused on our job. I remember back then telling them don’t worry about it. It’s out of our control.”

That’ll be easier to sell as long as the Rams are competitive this year. But if things turn south, it’ll be harder and harder to keep his players from letting their thoughts drift to the west, or his fanbase from packing it in.