Antonio Brown finally hires a new agent

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Antonio Brown’s slow-motion self-destruction was highlighted by agent Drew Rosenhaus’s decision to fire Brown in January.

Brown finally has a new agent.

Brown has hired Ed Wasielewski of EMG Sports, the agent told ESPN on Monday. The transaction has not officially appeared on the NFLPA website.

Brown, a free agent, is the subject of multiple NFL investigations, either or both of which could result in a significant suspension. Even if he’s cleared to return, the disruptions he created throughout 2019 could make teams shy away from him.

It will now be Waslielewski’s job to convince teams otherwise.

Ohio governor on NFL football by September: “I just don’t know”

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the only thing we know is that the coronavirus controls the timeline.

And so with the President recently predicting that the NFL season will commence as scheduled, the governor of a state that hosts two of the NFL’s franchises (and that also happens to be the cradle of pro football) isn’t quite as optimistic.

It might be,” Ohio governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, told Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer of 850 ESPN Cleveland on Monday. “I just don’t know. I don’t know where we’re going to be and I don’t think anybody really knows. . . . Theoretically, it’s certainly possible that with some significant testing, you could put players on the field long before you could put people in the stands.”

That will be the key: Regular testing that creates quick and reliable results, in order to spot a potentially contagious player, coach, trainer, etc. before the virus spreads like wildfire through a locker room. Even then, games will lack the noise, the optics, the overall ambience that comes from playing in front of fans.

But football without the big-time feel that comes from a full stadium is better than no football at all. Given the billions that will be on the line, bank on the NFL doing everything it can to come up with a way to plays its games in 2020.

Ron Leary donates 100,000 meals to Memphis families

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Free agent offensive guard Ron Leary has made a donation to help families in Memphis, Tennessee, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of Memphis, where Leary attended college, announced the commitment.

Leary’s donation will feed 100,000 families including 50,000 in West Memphis, his wife’s hometown.

He is the latest NFL player to step up and help others with a financial donation.

Denver declined the option on Leary’s contract, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Leary spent three seasons in Denver after five in Dallas.

Marty Hurney: Teddy Bridgewater has “won everywhere he’s been”

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Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney won’t get into specifics about why the team released Cam Newton. Hurney, though, was effusive when asked about Newton’s replacement.

The Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater a day after releasing Newton last month.

“He’s a very talented quarterback,” Hurney said of Bridgewater, via Bill Voth of the team website. “I’ve always liked him. He’s got great feet in the pocket. I think he’s got good vision, a quick release. He’s got good accuracy.

“I think everybody you talk to, they talked about his leadership skills, and he’s got familiarity with [offensive coordinator] Joe Brady’s system since Joe was down there in New Orleans with him. He’s certainly a guy who’s overcome adversity and has, really if you look at it, he’s won everywhere he’s been, so we thought he’d be a good fit for us.”

Bridgewater, 27, signed a three-year, $63 million deal, with $30 million guaranteed after two seasons as Drew Brees‘ backup. Bridgewater went 5-0 as the starter in 2019 while filling in for the injured Brees.

Bridgewater finished last season with 1,384 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating was 99.1.

Bridgewater earned Pro Bowl honors in 2015 while starting for the Vikings, going 11-5.

Jameis Winston sets up free nationwide COVID-19 hotline

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Quarterback Jameis Winston continues to wait for his next NFL opportunity. While he waits, he’s doing some good.

Winston, along with Dr. David Kelley, has set up a national hotline to answer questions regarding people who fear they may have COVID-19.

“I believe it’s important to come together and support one another in time of need,” Winston explains. “We want to give every family rapid responses to give them peace of mind from the safety of their own home.”

Callers to 844-TEST-COVID will get a free assessment and guidance regarding next steps based on the information provided.

Cam Newton on free agency: I’m a fish out of water

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The Panthers released Cam Newton on March 24. He remains without a new team and that could last awhile with teams unable to have their own doctors examine the quarterback.

Newton joined Chris Paul on Instagram Live on Monday, making his most extensive public comments since the Panthers parted ways in favor of Teddy Bridgewater.

“It’s so much possibility for me right now, but the fact that this corona situation has hit, I’m not a person to blame or do any of that things, man, it’s business,” Newton told Paul, via video from Sheena Paul of 1340AM Fox Sports. “But at the same time, I think I have been affected in a lot of ways, and it’s just [unfortunate], but yeah, at the end of the day, man, I’m going to let the ball play how it play, man, and go from there.”

The Panthers drafted Newton with the first overall pick in 2011. He has never known anything else.

“I’m in unchartered waters for the first time in my career. You know what I’m saying?” Newton said.

Newton, who turns 31 next month, said the chip he always carries on his shoulder has “about turned into family size real quick.”

Newton said he has taken time to improve himself since being released. He has taken up meditation, among other things, as the three-time Pro Bowler seeks guidance on his future.

“I really have taken this time to become stronger mentally, physically and spiritually,” Newton said. “I think that’s more important than anything, man. I’ve gained this interest in mediating every morning, and it’s time for me.

“I’m a fish out of water. I’ve never not known anything other than the Carolina Panthers, and now it’s like I want God to direct my path and put me in a position where I can thrive and be myself. But on top of that, it’s still [about] becoming better.”

Newton won league MVP honors in 2015 when he led the Panthers to the Super Bowl. He is a three-time Pro Bowler.

A source was emphatic that Newton “can still play,” though Newton has had shoulder and foot injuries that have limited him the past two seasons. In 16 games over the past two years, Newton has thrown for 3,967 yards with 24 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a passer rating of 90.5.

Newton ranks first on PFT’s list of top 25 remaining free agents.

Mark Murphy on virtual offseason: It’s certainly going to be very different

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The NFL already has announced a virtual draft. Virtual offseason programs seem a certainty, too.

As offseason programs were set to begin Monday for the five teams with new head coaches, the NFL and NFLPA still are trying to figure out how to proceed with team facilities closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A virtual offseason program would allow strength-and-conditioning coaches to build and oversee workouts, head coaches to hold team meetings and assistants to conduct classroom instruction remotely.

“It’s something that we’ve talked a lot about at the league level,” Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy, a member of the Competition Committee, told Larry MCCarren of “Times like this, you’ve got to be very flexible. Obviously, you want to have some semblance of an offseason. What a virtual program might look like would be starting off, strength coaches putting up [information] on Zoom and talking and making presentations to players on what the workouts should look like and having one-on-one meetings with players.

“[Also] position coaches sitting down, maybe going through video and talking about some of the plays. It’s certainly going to be very different.”

Murphy acknowledged questions remain, including a timeline of when the offseason workout programs might begin. Players, though, can begin studying on their own.

According to the Associated Press, “teams may provide players with playbooks and video on iPads, Microsoft Surface tablets, or other similar type units for voluntary use by the player away from the team facility. The video may include coaching or instructional voice-overs or audio content; superimposed diagrams; schematics; or written commentary.”

Sean McVay: A lot of things went into decision to release Todd Gurley

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The Falcons announced the addition of running back Todd Gurley on Monday, even though a physical is pending.

The certainty is Gurley’s time with the Rams is done.

Rams coach Sean McVay wouldn’t go into detail Monday about why the team decided to move on from Gurley, saying only that it was more than one thing.

“The first thing I would say is it’s really just unbelievable what he’s done over the five years that he was a Ram,” McVay said on the Rich Eisen Show. “I couldn’t be more appreciative of our time together, and I do think that eventually we will be able to look back and really be able to cherish a lot of the great memories that we’ve shared. He has been so important in the success we’ve had as a team, and I owe a lot of that to him and I’m forever grateful for having worked with him.

“Sometimes tough decisions have to be made. I think he will do a very nice job with the Falcons. For us, the only way I can put it is these decisions are never easy, but more than anything, I think it’s important to just represent the type of player, the person and the appreciation for the time that we did have together. That’s what I would want to emphasize just because of what he’s meant to me and what he’s meant to us in the three years we’ve spent together.”

Eisen pressed McVay about whether Gurley’s knee injury was the reason the Rams decided to part ways. Gurley was the 2017 offensive player of the year. He developed a knee problem late in the 2018 season.

In Gurley’s final 20 games in a Rams uniform, including the postseason, he had one 100-yard game. In those 20 games, he had 276 carries for 1,093 yards and 16 touchdowns, with 48 catches for 318 yards and two touchdowns.

McVay, though, said it is “inaccurate” to say the Rams released Gurley solely because of his knee. (It seems accurate to say it was a combination of Gurley’s knee and his contract.)

The Rams would have had to guarantee Gurley another $10.5 million if he had remained on the roster past 4 p.m. on March 19. So the Rams cut their losses.

“Yeah, I would just say this — you said it right — when you look at the amount of the touchdowns he’s been able to score, you talk about the feel he has in the red zone, it is electric. It is dynamic,” McVay said. “He’s a superstar. He’s earned that status just based on the charisma, the production on the field. I think one of the things I’ll always appreciate that says as much about him as anything is you talk about how guys handle some tough situations are different than what you would anticipate. I think one of the coolest reflections of Todd is I think about that NFC Championship Game and the way he handled himself after that, where he’s been a first-team All-Pro back. Things didn’t go that way necessarily for him personally in that game, but when you hear how he speaks about his teammates and those kinds of things, that’s what’s been right about the Rams the last couple of years are guys that have been instrumental in the culture.

“There’s a lot of things that go into tough decisions. What I would say is I just wish him the best in Atlanta. I think they got a good football player. But we’re also excited about seeing is there an opportunity to maybe add somebody in the draft. We ended up taking Darrell Henderson in the third round last year that we think has a lot of upside, and when Malcolm Brown has gotten his opportunities, he’s delivered in a big way in the last few years.”

The Rams do not have a first-round choice, having traded it to the Jaguars for Jalen Ramsey. Their first of six choices is in the second round, No. 52 overall.

Texans linebacker Dylan Cole signs tender

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Texans linebacker Dylan Cole is coming back from another injury, but he’s doing it for the Texans.

Via the league’s transaction wire, the restricted free agent linebacker has signed his tender offer of $2.144 million.

Cole tore his ACL in Week 12, so he’s still got some rehabbing to do. He missed the first half of the 2018 season with a dislocated wrist.

He’s a reserve inside linebacker and special teamer, who has played 31 games in three years.

Kendrick Bourne will be back with 49ers

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The 49ers tendered wide receiver Kendrick Bourne as a restricted free agent last month and Bourne won’t be looking for a deal with another team.

Field Yates of ESPN reports that Bourne has signed his tender with the team. Bourne was tendered at the second-round level, which sets him up to make $3.27 million this year.

Bourne appeared in 11 games as an undrafted rookie and has not missed a game over the last two seasons. He had 30 catches for 358 yards and five touchdowns in the regular season and six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs. The touchdown came in the team’s 27-10 win over the Vikings.

Bourne joins Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd, Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor and Richie James as holdovers at receiver from last season. Travis Benjamin signed with the team as a free agent.

Multiple networks chase Drew Brees, even though he’s still playing

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The network wars are taking more and more aggressive steps to recruit soldiers.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that three networks are chasing Saints quarterback Drew Brees, even though he will be playing at least one more season.

ESPN, FOX, and NBC all want Brees, Marchand writes. Brees reportedly has told network executives that he wants to work games.

Marchand pegs the magnitude of a Brees offer at $6.5 million annually, far less than the Tony Romo package of $18 million per year. But Romo started with a three-year, $10 million deal; Brees apparently would be on a similar path, where he’d establish himself and then cash in.

That rule, of course, doesn’t apply to Peyton Manning, who remains in position to get top dollar whenever he chooses to enter a booth — if he ever chooses to enter a broadcast booth.

Several years ago, Brees told PFT Live that he envisions a post-football life that has him trying multiple different things. Broadcasting makes the most sense as a starting point.

Frankly, Brees seems to be destined to eventually find his way into public service, a fancy, aspirational term for partisan politics.

Eric DeCosta hopes to build offense to the point that it’s undefendable

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The Ravens used a pair of early round picks on wide receivers in last year’s draft, but it doesn’t sound like the additions of Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin are going to keep them from addressing that spot early in this year’s draft.

Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta said he likes the makeup of the group, which also includes Willie Snead and Chris Moore, but that he’d wade into a deep pool of prospects at the position in order to build an offense that’s even harder to stop than last year’s edition.

“Do we feel the urgency? We probably feel that with every position,” DeCosta said, via the team’s website. “We want to be the best we can be at every position. This happens to be a wide receiver class with a lot of really good players. If we’re on the clock and we think that guy is the best player, we’ll probably pick him. Hopefully we can build our offense to the point where we can say, ‘Hey, we’re undefendable.'”

The team’s website mentions links to Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, Denzel Mims and Laviska Shenault as players that have been linked with the Ravens in mock drafts and the high volume of prospects this year may man DeCosta can wait to get his man after the first round.

Vince Biegel signs RFA tender with Dolphins

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Linebacker Vince Biegel won’t be leaving the Dolphins as a restricted free agent.

The Dolphins announced on Monday that Biegel has signed the tender they gave him earlier this year. It’s an original-round tender, which means Biegel will make $2.132 million during the 2020 season.

Biegel was a Packers fourth-round pick in 2017 and played nine games for them as a rookie. He didn’t make the team in 2018 and wound up with the Saints, who used him in 14 games before trading him to Miami for linebacker Kiko Alonso last year.

Biegel largely played special teams in his first two spots and he remained a regular on those units with the Dolphins while also making 10 starts on defense. He had 59 tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception last year.

Brandon Beane: Stefon Diggs more of a “proven thing” than the draft

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General Manager Brandon Beane said last week the Bills would watch Stefon Diggs‘ highlights when the Vikings went on the clock with the first-round choice Buffalo traded for the receiver. On Monday, Beane said Diggs is more of a sure thing than anybody in the draft.

Even though the 2020 draft appears stocked with talented receivers, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to get a full picture of prospects in the absence of visits, pro days and private workouts.

“It’s just a more proven thing right now and what we’re dealing with did weigh into that,” Beane said on a video conference, via NFL Media. “I know this guy [Diggs] knows ball and will be able to understand the verbiage once he learns our system.”

In five seasons in Minnesota, Diggs averaged 73 catches, 925 yards and six touchdowns.

The Bills pursued Diggs at the trade deadline in October, but the Vikings rebuffed trade talks. Beane tried again in March.

“It didn’t seem like a definitive 100 percent no, they just were not shopping him,” Beane said.

The Bills outbid several teams with their offer of four draft choices, but Beane believes the price paid will prove more than worth it.

“The key in this league is you’ve got to be able to throw when the other team knows you’re going to throw it,” Beane said.

“Stay at home” draft undoubtedly means Goodell will be at home, too

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On Monday, the NFL made the right decision to require all teams to conduct the 2020 draft from home. Implicit in the memo from Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the decision is, necessarily, a decision from Goodell that he’ll be staying at home, too.

Although Goodell doesn’t come out and say it, the memo necessarily eliminates the notion of Goodell making the trip from his home to ESPN’s studio for the first round of the draft.

“[W]e want all NFL personnel to comply with government directives and to model safe and appropriate health practices,” Goodell writes in the memo, a copy of which PFT has obtained. “Our staff will carry out its responsibilities in the same way, operating in separate locations outside of our offices. And after consulting with medical advisors, we cannot identify an alternative that is preferable from a medical or public health perspective, given the varying needs of clubs, the need properly to screen participants, and the unique risk factors that individual club employees may face.”

Goodell can’t expect the teams to comply with those principles if he won’t be doing the same. So get ready for Goodell to be appearing from his house — and perhaps for his family members to boo when he declares the draft to be open, in order to best simulate the usual experience for him, and for those watching.