Jay Gruden: Hopefully we’ll add another running back

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Michael Hill re-signed with Washington this week, but that may not be the last addition they make to the backfield this offseason.

If coach Jay Gruden has anything to say about it, it definitely won’t be the last addition. The Redskins saw Roy Helu leave for Oakland as a free agent, leaving them with Hill, Chris Thompson and Silas Redd as complements to Alfred Morris on the roster. Gruden said he’d like to see that pool grow before the team fills out their final depth chart for the season.

“It’s a very deep running back draft in my opinion, and we’re excited to add another piece at some point, hopefully,” Gruden said, via John Keim of ESPN.com. “We have seven picks. Hopefully one of them will be a running back, or a free agent to compete. There are some good free agents that haven’t been signed yet.”

With Morris on hand, the team’s biggest need would be for a back with strong skills in the passing game. Keim reports that the team has expressed interest in former Saint Pierre Thomas, who would seem to fit the bill based on his role in New Orleans. Per Keim, though, they’ll likely wait to see what happens with the draft before taking any action with the veteran free agent.

Prosecution rests in Aaron Hernandez trial


It’s over.  Well, part of it is over.

The prosecution has rested its case in the first Aaron Hernandez murder trial, arising from the shooting death of Odin Lloyd in June 2013.

Judge E. Susan Garsh has told the jurors that the trial will resume Monday, with the defense presenting its case.  Of course, the defense isn’t required to present a case at all, because the prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Judge Garsh also said that the jury will be getting the case next week, which means that the defense case, the rebuttal case, and the closing arguments will all happen next week.  And it also could mean that there will be a verdict next week.

Conviction or acquittal, Hernandez will remain behind bars, because he faces an allegation that he killed two other men in July 2012.

Off-field issues aren’t the only question for Jameis Winston


It’s easy to see why there are significant concerns about former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston off the field. But there are questions about Winston on the field as well.

Although Winston was a great quarterback as a Heisman Trophy-winning redshirt freshman in 2013, he wasn’t as great in 2014. And NFL Network’s Mike Mayock noted after watching Winston’s Pro Day that there are serious questions about whether Winston takes good enough care of the football after throwing 18 interceptions last season.

“I keep going back to the point that he throws too many interceptions, and ball security is the most important thing to me for a quarterback. Off the field, do you trust him or not? There’s still some homework to do on that,” Mayock said.

Mayock considers Winston the top quarterback in the draft, but he also thinks there could be valid reasons to take Marcus Mariota ahead of him.

“If Marcus Mariota is in the same ballpark, if you’re an NFL franchise, then you take Marcus Mariota because you don’t have any issues off the field,” Mayock said. “If there’s a bigger disparity, then it’s a different answer.”

It appears that the Buccaneers are sold on Winston, on and off the field. Not everyone is so sure. Luckily for Winston, the Buccaneers’ opinion is the only one that matters.

Vikings release quarterback Pat Devlin to make room for Mike Kafka

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The Vikings continue to churn the bottom two-thirds of their quarterback depth chart, guys they hope they never have to use.

Along with announcing the previously reported signings of veteran combine products Mike Kafka and Caesar Rayford, the Vikings announced they had released quarterback Pat Devlin.

The Vikings are carrying three quarterbacks at the moment, after signing Shaun Hill to come in as Teddy Bridgewater’s backup.

Devlin was brought in last year as a practice-squader, and kept on this offseason until they found someone they preferred.

But the Vikings have also traded off veteran backup Matt Cassel, and let former first-rounder Christian Ponder walk in free agency, where he found a new home in Oakland.

Rams bring in Alabama wideout Amari Cooper for a look


The Rams have never been strangers to making bold moves on draft day, but they’d probably have to make one in the other direction if they wanted a shot at their most recent visitor.

Via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Rams had Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper in for a pre-draft visit Wednesday.

Cooper, generally considered on the top two wideouts in this year’s class, isn’t terribly likely to be there when the Rams pick 10th overall. But the fact they’re taking a look’s at least some degree of sign they’re intrigued by the possibility he could be in range (or just that you want to make sure you have background in case a guy falls).

The Rams re-signed free agent Kenny Britt this offseason, and they’ve used some premium picks on the position the last few years (2013 first-rounder Tavon Austin, 2012 second-rounder Brian Quick and 2013 third-rounder Stedman Bailey).

But Cooper is a different kind of cat, and would make it much easier for quarterback Nick Foles to transition to a new environment.

The Rams also had Stanford tackle Andrus Peat and Louisville tackle Jamon Brown, in town, and they could certainly use upgrades up front as well.

Bills G.M. hints at drafting a second-day quarterback

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The Bills have a need at quarterback, and do not have a first-round draft pick. That’s a bad combination for a team.

But Bills General Manager Doug Whaley indicated that the Bills could take a quarterback in the second or third round of this month’s draft. And Whaley said he doesn’t think the drop-off at quarterback after the top two — Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota — is as great as people are making it out to be.

“I think there will be a run on some guys maybe in the second and third round that are a little lower. But, again, I don’t think the drop-off is as big as a lot of people are saying,” Whaley said, via ESPN.

Last year the Bills made a big splash in the draft by trading this year’s first-round and fourth-round picks to move up and select Sammy Watkins. It’s great to add a receiver with the talent of Watkins, but it’s not so great to lose that much ammunition, especially for a team like the Bills, that still has to address the quarterback position.

But if Whaley is to be believed, a player like UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Baylor’s Bryce Petty or Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson could be a franchise quarterback. And could be available to the Bills on Day 2 of the draft.

PFT Live: PFT Planet calls and tweets


March and the frenzy of free agency is in the rear-view mirror, leaving us to look ahead to the draft and the start of workout programs around the league as the next stages of the offseason.

On Thursday’s edition of PFT Live, Mike Florio will continue to bring you everything you need to know concerning the draft. We’ll talk about which prospects are visiting which teams and much more from around the league.

We also want to hear from PFT Planet. Email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour of the show by clicking right here.

Bears will release Roberto Garza, sign Will Montgomery

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Center Roberto Garza had a long run as a starter for the Bears, but it looks like it has come to an end after 10 years.

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that the team has informed Garza that he’ll be released. The wait to find out who his replacement will be probably won’t be a long one. Biggs’s colleague Rich Campbell reports that the team plans to sign Will Montgomery in a swap of centers.

Montgomery played for Bears coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase in Denver last season and started the final nine games, including their playoff loss to the Colts, for the Broncos last year. Montgomery also started every game that the Redskins played between 2011 and 2013, so he brings plenty of experience with him to Chicago.

Garza will take plenty of it with him wherever he winds up once the transaction is processed. Garza has missed just 18 games since the Falcons made him a fourth-round pick of the 2001 draft, which is quite a durable record of service. His play hasn’t been as strong in recent years, however, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the 36-year-old’s next act happens off the playing field.

Schaub says Ravens will have an elite quarterback room

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Before Tuesday, the Ravens had Joe Flacco and a couple of anonymous youngsters at quarterback.  Now, they have Flacco, Matt Schaub, and a couple of anonymous youngsters at quarterback.

And Schaub marked his arrival in Baltimore with some extreme confidence about the quality of the quarterback position, given his addition to it.

“I feel like we’re going to have one of the best [quarterback] rooms in football,” Schaub told reporters on Wednesday, via the team’s official website. “We’re going to grow, we’re going to compete, we’re going to help each other to get better.”

Setting aside for now the lingering question of whether Joe Flacco is truly elite, signing Schaub doesn’t exactly give the Ravens a murderer’s row at the position.  Sure, Schaub has had his moments.  But ever since he became the master of the pick six in 2013, his career has gone off the rails.

Last year, Schaub couldn’t beat out a second-round draft pick, ultimately throwing 10 passes on the season with two interceptions, one of which came after the Raiders shifted out of field goal formation and Schaub threw a deep pass that was picked off by Browns safety Tashaun Gipson.

So while Flacco may still be an elite starter, Schaub is hardly an elite backup.  But for the dearth of NFL quarterback talent, Schaub likely wouldn’t even have a job.

As it is, he’s getting a base package of $2 million.  That’s great money for non-NFL quarterbacks, but it’s less than 10 percent of the top of the current pro football market.

Even then, plenty of Texans and Raiders fans would claim that Schaub has been grossly overpaid.

Spencer Paysinger visiting Dolphins on Thursday


Plenty of people have moved from New Jersey to South Florida to live out their retirement in a sunny and warm climate.

One formerly Jersey-based linebacker is seeing if he can make the same move while continuing his playing career. Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports that Spencer Paysinger is visiting with the Dolphins on Thursday.

Paysinger played in 62 games for the Giants over the last four years after initially making the team as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon. He started 10 games on defense during the 2013 season, making 74 tackles and a sack while playing outside in the Giants’ alignment. He played just a handful of snaps on defense last year, however, and the Giants made other moves at linebacker early in free agency to signal a new approach at the position.

The Dolphins need to round out their depth at linebacker after parting ways with Dannell Ellerbe, Jason Trusnik, Jonathan Freeny and Philip Wheeler this offseason. Paysinger would provide that and special teams experience should he join the other snowbirds in the Sunshine State.

Aaron Rodgers will test his mind on Celebrity Jeopardy


Whether he’s tweaking a division rival (or not) or photobombing his teammates, we’ve established that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a sharp sense of humor.

Now we’ll get a chance to see how he fares at America’s favorite game of trivia, luck and skill.

Via Awful Announcing, Rodgers has taped an episode of Celebrity Jeopardy, which will air May 12.

He’ll appear alongside Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary and retired astronaut Mark Kelly.

While it will be interesting to see how he fares with the real Alex Trebek, we’d still rather see him up against Sean Connery and Turd Ferguson on Saturday Night Live.

Cowboys dip into British talent pool to sign Efe Obada


The NFL has made frequent trips to London for regular season games in recent years, including the Cowboys’ trip last year for a victory over the Jaguars.

It turns out that the Cowboys picked up more than a victory during that visit. We’re not talking about souvenirs from Harrod’s or replica double decker buses for the kids, either.

The Cowboys announced that they have signed Londoner Efe Obada, who worked out for the team last year and who played five games for former Cowboys coaching intern Aden Durde as a member of the London Warriors of the British American Football Association. Durde was that team’s defensive coordinator.

“This is a dream,” Obada said, via NFLUK.com. “It’s amazing and life-changing. It’s a major turning point in my life and feels like a movie. This could be it — I can change my life. This is unreal — this doesn’t happen to people like me. I’ve never even been outside of London since I arrived in the UK.”

Obada has been working in a warehouse in addition to pursuing his football goals and will obviously be a long-range developmental prospect given  his limited time playing the sport. He played defensive end and tight end in London and expects to focus on the defensive side of the ball with the Cowboys.

Key witness in Hernandez case can’t give key testimony


As the prosecution closes in on resting its case against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, a man whom Hernandez allegedly shot in the face testified on Wednesday.   But Alexander Bradley wasn’t allowed to explain that he’d been shot in the face.

That’s because the legal system has concluded that evidence of other bad acts by Hernandez can’t be introduced into evidence in the case regarding the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, since neither the alleged shooting of Bradley nor the alleged double murder of two men in Boston in July 2012 have an appropriate connection to the Lloyd murder.  The prosecution tried earlier in the trial to argue that Bradley should be able to talk about the time Hernandez allegedly shot him, because the defense had been suggesting that Lloyd and Hernandez were friends and Hernandez doesn’t shoot his friends.  Bradley and Hernandez also were friends, but that didn’t stop Hernandez from shooting Bradley, allegedly.

And so Bradley, whose face is disfigured as a result of the shooting, testified without the jury knowing that Bradley got that way thanks to a bullet from a gun fired by Hernandez, allegedly.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the jurors don’t know about the Bradley shooting.  The jury isn’t sequestered, which means that the jurors can Google “Aaron Hernandez” all night and all weekend long from their own homes.

What’s that, you say?  The judge has ordered the jurors not to conduct any Internet research about the case?  The judge also has ordered them not to come to any conclusions about Hernandez’s guilt or innocence, but they each surely violated that one a long time ago.

Even without testimony about being shot by Hernandez, Bradley had some relevant information to offer, as explained by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports.  For example, Bradley said he saw Hernandez with a Glock semi-automatic pistol a few months before the Lloyd murder; Lloyd allegedly was shot by a Glock semi-automatic pistol.  Also, Bradley testified that Hernandez had a “lock box, a safe” in his basement, in which Hernandez kept a gun, cash, and marijuana blunts.  Police didn’t find the item when searching Hernandez’s home, which sets the stage for an argument that this is the item Hernandez’s fiancée disposed of at his direction.

It’s not the last time Hernandez will have to hear testimony from Bradley.  Per Wetzel, Bradley is expected to provide eyewitness testimony regarding the shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in July 2012.