Kellen Winslow II agrees to 14 years in jail for sex crimes

AP

Kellen Winslow II has agreed to a new plea deal that will keep him in jail for 14 years for sex crimes against five women, Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today reports.

An agreement submitted Friday in San Diego Superior Court replaces a previous plea agreement from November 2019 when the former NFL tight end pleaded guilty to rape and sexual battery charges rather than face the possibility of life in prison. That deal stipulated Winslow spend between 12 and 18 years behind bars, with a judge determining the length of the sentence after a hearing.

Winslow, 37, raped two women, assaulted another and committed misdemeanor sex crimes against two others, according to the agreement.

The deal includes a new guilty plea by Winslow for assaulting a hitchhiker with the intent to commit rape in March 2018, replacing a guilty plea he made in November 2019 for sexual battery against the same woman.

The jury in Winslow’s first trial in the spring of 2019 wasn’t able to reach a unanimous verdict on all the charges he faced. San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Dan Owens told USA Today that Winslow could have gotten an even lighter sentence if he had gone to trial again on the unresolved charges.

“Ultimately, we think this was the most appropriate sentence for Mr. Winslow’s conduct, taking those other things into account,” Owens said.

Winslow, a first-round pick of the Browns in 2004, played 10 NFL seasons for four teams.

Audio of Chad Wheeler arrest emerges

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Last month’s incident involving former Seahawks offensive lineman Chad Wheeler resulted in an arrest. The arrest came after an intense physical struggle with police, as illustrated by the audio produced by the body cameras worn by police.

The audio, obtained by TMZ.com, begins with police kicking down Wheeler’s down. Then comes a chaotic struggle with Wheeler.

He can be heard on apologizing to his victim, Alleah Taylor, and saying to her repeatedly, “I love you.”

Police say on multiple occasions that he is resisting arrest and “tensing up.” They threaten to use a Taser on him, and at one point it sounds like they did.

“If you don’t comply with us, you’re gonna get hurt,” an officer says at one point.

Wheeler can be heard saying to the police on one occasion, “Don’t shoot me.”

The audio provides a very raw and real glimpse into the manner in which authorities apprehend people who obviously don’t want to be apprehended. It’s not easy to listen to, and it shows that the job requires significant courage and resolve and determination.

None of that even begins to excuse the various types of police misconduct that we have witnessed over the years. Instead, it underscores the importance of ensuring that police officers have more than enough training and experience before having the authority to utilize lethal and non-lethal means for ensuring compliance by suspects.

Carson Wentz: As one chapter closes, another one begins

Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles
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Carson Wentz said goodbye to Philadelphia and hello to Indianapolis on Friday night. The quarterback posted a long message on Instagram only a few hours after arriving in the city of his new team.

What a journey,” Wentz wrote in his first public comments since report of the trade Thursday. “More than anything, I will miss my teammates. Thank you. I appreciate every one of you and will never forget the relationships and memories made over the years. So many lifelong relationships have been formed in that locker room. Thank you for the fellowship, the camaraderie in the locker room, and the daily battles out on the practice field!

“To the City of Philadelphia: Thank you. You have been my home for the past five years. It has been everything a kid from Bismarck, North Dakota, could have dreamed of. My family grew here, had a lot of fun, ate a lot of great food, got to be a part of an incredible church, and so many more memories off the field. On the field, we brought the Lombardi trophy home to Philly and hopefully brought a lot of joy to the city over the years. Thank you to the amazing Eagles fans across the world that have supported my family, our foundation, and our football team through all of the wins and losses. It was an honor to play in a city whose passion and love for their football team is unrivaled. Thank you for supporting my family and our AO1 foundation. We hope we have made a positive impact in the communities in Philly and look forward to continuing our efforts to impact the area!

“Thank you to the Eagles organization for drafting me and making my NFL dream come true. Thank you, Mr. [Jeffrey] Lurie, Howie Roseman and the Eagles front office, coach [Doug] Pederson and all of my coaches, our training staff, our equipment staff and all of the support staff at the Nova Care Complex. It has been an amazing journey, and I wish you all the best.

“As one chapter closes, another one begins. And I’m excited to join the Indianapolis Colts and look forward to the work ahead! God’s plan! Hebrews 12:1-2 #AO1”

Will someone make Jaguars an offer they can’t refuse?

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Last year, the Dolphins tried to move from No. 5 to No. 1, in order to draft quarterback Joe Burrow. Whatever the Dolphins offered (the specifics still aren’t known), the Bengals said no.

This year, someone likely will make the Jaguars an offer for the first pick in the draft, in order to take Trevor Lawrence. The first question becomes whether it will be an offer the Jaguars can’t refuse. The next question becomes whether the Jaguars actually will refuse it.

The situation raises an intriguing philosophical question regarding the lottery tickets that are NFL draft picks. With few sure things in the draft, will the Jaguars dig in with Lawrence (as the Bengals did with Burrow), or will they swap one lottery ticket for several?

The most intriguing potential suitor for 2021 is the Panthers. Carolina holds the eighth overall pick. If they package that pick with several other selections in an effort to keep Lawrence in close to Clemson, will that be enough to get the Jaguars to pull the trigger?

Other teams could make a similar effort. Ultimately, the Jaguars need to decide whether it makes more sense to take Lawrence or to take the ability to select multiple other players.

Rewind to 2020. The Bengals made it clear that they would, and did, reject all offers for the Burrow pick. But what if they’d done a deal with the Dolphins and selected Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick? Even without Burrow’s ACL tear, it easily could be argued that the Bengals would have been better off with Herbert plus whatever else the Dolphins had offered.

This year, only the Jaguars will know whether they’ve gotten an offer they can’t refuse. And only the Jaguars will know whether they should refuse it.

Zach Strief returning to Saints as assistant offensive line coach

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Zach Strief is returning to the Saints as assistant offensive line coach.

After Strief’s playing career ended, he spent three years calling play-by-play on WWL and the Saints Radio Network.

“The opportunity to help the Saints bring another world championship is just too great for me to pass up,” Strief told WWL. “It’s time for me to go home.”

Strief, 37, played for the Saints for 12 seasons after they made him a seventh-round choice in 2006. He appeared in 158 games, starting 94.

Strief will miss doing radio work but said he is ready to return to the other side.

“It was my deep love of the Saints organization that pushed me into this job, and it’s that same love that is sending me back,” Strief said.

Steelers place Vance McDonald on retired reserve list

NFL: DEC 21 Steelers at Bengals
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The Steelers made Vance McDonald‘s retirement official Friday, placing him on the retired reserve list.

McDonald, who spent the past four seasons with the Steelers, announced his retirement last month.

“My family and I are so grateful for everything NFL football has provided us in our life — all the memories both good and the difficult, the relationships and friends we’ve made along the way, the life lessons the game provided both me and my loved ones,” McDonald said in a statement released through the team. “It’s always been our dream and mission to leverage the platform given us through the NFL to help serve and uplift others along the way, and we will continue to find ways to serve others as we begin this next chapter of our lives. I am proud to retire a Steeler.”

He played college football at Rice and opened his NFL career as a second-round pick of the 49ers. He spent four seasons with the 49ers before they traded him to Pittsburgh just before the start of the 2017 season.

McDonald had 15 catches for 99 yards in 14 games in 2020 and finished his career with 181 catches for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Eric Ebron and Zach Gentry are the other tight ends on the Steelers roster.

Eagles announce DeSean Jackson’s release

NFL: OCT 22 Giants at Eagles
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Wide receiver DeSean Jackson is officially a free agent.

The Eagles announced Jackson’s release on Friday afternoon after reports earlier in the day indicated that he’d be dropped from the roster. Jackson also weighed in on the move before it became official.

Jackson made a series of posts to his Instagram stories that said he is “looking forward to the next chapter” and that he appreciates everything about Philadelphia after his second tour of duty with the Eagles. Jackson also referred to himself as the best deep threat in NFL history and said he’ll be “coming to a city near you!”

The move comes a day after the Eagles agreed to trade quarterback Carson Wentz to the Colts and further roster changes are expected in Philly after they finished 4-11-1 during the 2020 season. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and defensive tackle Malik Jackson are others believed to be on the chopping block as the team puts together its 2021 squad.

Jarran Reed: I’ve been a Seahawk my whole career and that’s how I want it to stay

Seattle Seahawks v Washington Football Team
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Teams around the league have started cutting veterans from their roster to create cap room. Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed is hoping he won’t be one such player.

In an interview on the “Talkin’ Seahawks” podcast, Reed acknowledged the possibility that he could be one of the many players released from their clubs this time of year. Reed has just one year remaining on the two-year deal he signed with Seattle last March.

“Who knows? I want to be here long-term for sure,” Reed said, via Joe Fann of NBC Sports Northwest. “I just control what I can control, and everything will work itself out. I’ve been a Seahawk my whole career, and that’s how I want it to stay.”

Reed was a key contributor down the stretch for Seattle, recording 3.0 sacks and three tackles for loss in the team’s last four regular-season games. He then recorded another 2.0 sacks and three TFLs in the Seahawks’ wild-card round loss to the Rams.

The veteran defensive tackle’s performances in those games makes it seems more unlikely that Seattle will elect to release him. He’s slated to make $13.96 million in 2021 and would carry a $5 million dead cap charge if he’s cut. But in a year where most teams will be up against the salary cap, anything is possible.

Packers cut Christian Kirksey, Rick Wagner

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The Packers are currently projected to be over the 2021 salary cap, so they’re making a couple moves to trim some veteran salaries.

Green Bay released linebacker Christian Kirksey and offensive tackle Rick Wagner, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Kirksey, who signed a two-year, $13 million contract last year, was a starter when healthy but missed five games last season. Cutting him saves almost $6 million in cap space.

Wagner played in all 16 games last year and was on the field for 59 percent of the Packers’ offensive snaps. He signed a two-year, $11 million contract last year and cutting him will save more than $4 million in cap space.

Jaguars hire Karim Kassam to oversee analytics, football technology

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The Jaguars announced Friday they have hired Karim Kassam as senior vice president of football operations strategy.

Kassam will oversee the team’s football technology and analytics departments in addition to salary cap administration in consultation with coach Urban Meyer and General Manager Trent Baalke.

Kassam will report to Tony Khan, who the team announced is now chief football strategy officer. Tony Khan will report to owner Shad Khan, who presented his plan to implement a new football staffing structure to all head coach and General Manager candidates interviewed in January.

“I’m ready to get started in Jacksonville, and am grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact and contribute to a franchise that is forward-thinking, ambitious and has so much promise,” Kassam said in a statement. “I look forward to collaborating with Tony and doing whatever it takes to assist and support the Jaguars as we work to build something special in Jacksonville.”

Kassam most recently served as director of baseball research with Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins. He led the club’s baseball research department and oversaw analytics in the areas of scouting, player development and biomechanics.

Kassam previously spent five years with the Steelers as analytics and football research coordinator. While in Pittsburgh, he led development of advanced statistics for football operations, analyzing opponent tendencies and college prospects while working closely with personnel and coaching.

Hunter Henry sets money, good QB as free agency priorities

New York Jets v Los Angeles Chargers
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Chargers tight end Hunter Henry never hit the open market last year because the team slapped a franchise tag on him, but he may get there this offseason.

Henry is set for unrestricted free agency once as long as the Chargers don’t tag him again or lock him up before the start of the new league year. During an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Henry said he’d never rule out a return to the Chargers before adding that he feels he has to be open to any development.

He also touched on what he’s looking for. He said that he’d be lying if he didn’t say the financial side of things was a priority, but he has one other thing he’s also looking for in his 2021 team.

“I want to play somewhere there’s a good quarterback,” Henry said. “That’s huge for our position. It makes things a lot easier . . . Playing with a good quarterback always makes things better. You gotta look at both. You gotta look at some of the financial stuff, but not dive too deep into it that you go chasing it because I also want to play with a good quarterback.”

The Chargers would seem to qualify on the quarterback front and Henry said he formed a good relationship with Justin Herbert last season, but a return engagement sounds like it is far from guaranteed.

Eagles releasing DeSean Jackson

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The Eagles are releasing receiver DeSean Jackson, John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports.

The move was expected considering the team’s salary cap situation and Jackson’s lack of production the past two seasons. Jackson, 34, was scheduled to make $8.2 million in base salary, and his release will save the Eagles $8.725 million if they declare him a post-June 1 cut, per overthecap.com.

Since re-joining the Eagles before the 2019 season, Jackson played only eight games the past two seasons and made only 23 catches for 395 yards and three touchdowns.

He had a core muscle injury in 2019 and, after surgery last offseason, played only five games this season because of various injuries.

Jackson is unlikely to find a robust market waiting for him in free agency.

In 2019, the Bucs traded Jackson and a 2020 seventh-round pick to the Eagles for a 2019 sixth-round pick. The Bucs spent that pick — the 208th overall selection — on Bowling Green receiver Scotty Miller. Miller caught 46 passes for 701 yards and four touchdowns in his first two seasons and was instrumental in the team’s Super Bowl LV run this postseason.

Jackson spent his first six seasons in Philadelphia before the Eagles released him in 2014. He joined Washington, where he spent three season before going to Tampa for two seasons.

UPDATE 3:58 P.M. ET: Jackson confirmed his release on social media. He said he is looking forward to his “next chapter.”

Matt Milano will test free agency, likely signaling an end to his time in Buffalo

Wild Card Round - Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills
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The Bills’ salary-cap constraints will prompt starting linebacker Matt Milano to explore free agency next month, John Wawrow of The Associated Press reports.

Milano, 26, will hit the market as one of the top linebackers available. It likely means his time in Buffalo has ended, something General Manager Brandon Beane recently sounded resigned to.

The Bills aren’t alone in being salary-cap strapped, with the cap falling from last season’s $198 million. The Bills are estimated to have about $3 million available if the cap falls to the minimum $180 million and will create space by cutting players and/or restructuring contracts.

Still, they aren’t expected to have room to make a competitive offer to Milano, who has started 38 games in his four seasons.

The Bills made him a fifth-round choice in 2017.

Injuries limited him to 10 games and five starts last season, but Milano still posted career highs with 3.5 sacks and nine quarterback pressures. He also had an interception.

Steve Keim likes seeing DeAndre Hopkins recruiting J.J. Watt

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The Cardinals made a big splash last offseason when they traded for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Hopkins has been trying to help put another splash in motion this year.

Hopkins reached out to his former Texans teammate J.J. Watt on social media to pitch him on the idea of joining forces again in Arizona. During an appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 on Friday, Cardinals General Manager was asked about Hopkins helping recruit players and the prospect of the Cardinals making a strong play for Watt.

Keim avoided a deep answer to the latter question, but sounded happy about having a player like Hopkins around to woo others to the desert.

“I don’t want to get into details, but as you know, if there’s an opportunity that makes sense from both the football side and the business side, we’ll certainly take a swing,” Keim said. “It’s fun to see your players get involved. Obviously Hop’s a guy I got a great deal of respect for, not just as a player but obviously the addition of him has certainly improved our recruiting game.”

The Cardinals have some cap space to work with and could create more by extending Chandler Jones or making other moves, but it’s unclear at this point if Watt shared his old teammate’s feelings.

Carson Wentz arrives in Indianapolis

New York Jets v Philadelphia Eagles
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Carson Wentz began FaceTiming with his new teammates Thursday night. The quarterback was all smiles in a photo posted by Kenny Moore.

Wentz now has arrived in his new city.

John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweeted video of Wentz arriving in Indianapolis. Wentz is seen getting into an SUV after flying in on a private plane.

Wentz is allowed to take a physical at the team facility, even though the trade does not become official until March 17.

The Eagles traded the 2016 No. 2 overall pick to the Colts on Thursday, receiving in return a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick that could turn into a first-round pick.

Wentz reunites with Frank Reich in Indianapolis. The Colts head coach was Wentz’s offensive coordinator for the first two years of his career from 2016-17.