Adam Gase: We’ll keep an eye on Le’Veon Bell’s workload

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Jets head coach Adam Gase’s eyes drew a lot of attention in his introductory press conference in January, but he’s going to have another use for them come September.

The Jets signed running back Le'Veon Bell as a free agent this month and he joined the team after sitting out the entire 2018 season because he didn’t sign the Steelers slapped on him last year. Bell said that he feels fresh after the long layoff, but he was used heavily by the Steelers in past seasons and there will surely be some rust to knock off once the regular season rolls around.

Gase said the Jets will be mindful of both things when it comes to Bell’s workload.

“You can wear a guy out with too many rushes, too many touches, too many snaps and too many practice snaps,” Gase said, via ESPN.com. “We’ll keep an eye on that. This is not going to be where we burn him out in the first six months. We’re aware of that.”

Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon return as backups in the Jets backfield with Bilal Powell still an unsigned free agent.

Report: Review of DPI non-calls in last two minutes has good chance to pass

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The ongoing discussions about possible changes to the replay system may result in a significant change.

Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that there’s a “very good chance” that an amended proposal to allow review of non-calls for defensive pass interference to be initiated by the booth in the final two minutes. All reviews in the final two minutes of each half have to be initiated from upstairs and not from coach’s challenges.

This comes a day after a coaches meeting about rules changes at the league meetings in Arizona reportedly ran long because the group was upset that the league was not moving faster to amend the replay system. Tuesday also brought word of a proposal to allow a separate coach’s challenge for penalties not covered under the current system.

It’s not clear if adopting the amended rule for the final two minutes would mean the other proposal will be put on ice.

Cowboys at an “impasse” with DeMarcus Lawrence

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Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, like his father, Jerry, is confident of getting a long-term deal done with DeMarcus Lawrence. But Stephen Jones admits the sides remain far apart in negotiations.

“Historically, we’ve been able to sign our players,” Stephen Jones said, via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. “We’ll see. It’s a negotiation. Those things can take time. At the same time, we’re motivated to get something done and hopefully at some point we’ll get some momentum going.

“Right now, the best way to describe it is we’re at an impasse. We’re apart but certainly optimistic.”

Khalil Mack averages $23.5 million a season to lead all pass rushers, with Von Miller coming in second at $19.1 million per season. Defensive end Trey Flowers left New England to sign a five-year, $90 million deal with Detroit, ranking him third in annual average.

“The top two guys, I’m sure that is why we’re struggling a little bit,” Jones said. “There is a delta between the top two guys and where the rest of the edge rushers and pressure players have been paid up to this point.

“We’re motivated to do it right now. We were motivated to do it before we put the tag on him. At the same time, we have some conviction of the range he should be in in terms of his compensation, and I’m sure they have some conviction of what they’re asking for. I’m not being critical, but therein lies the root of the negotiations.”

The Cowboys used the franchise tag on Lawrence for a second consecutive season. But Lawrence has no plans to sign the $20.5 million tag for 2019 and has postponed shoulder surgery until a deal is done.

It sounds as if a deal might not happen anytime soon.

NFL seeking information stemming from theft of Jabrill Peppers’ property

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The NFL is looking into an odd incident that took place surrounding Giants safety Jabrill Peppers in January, when his car was burglarized and a suspect in the burglary was later beaten to death.

Peppers, who was traded from the Browns to the Giants this month, had items including a Glock semi-automatic handgun stolen from his SUV in January, according to WKYC.

Marsha Carroll, a 57-year-old homeless woman who was named as a suspect, was found beaten on February 6 and later died from her injuries.

Today reports surfaced that the NFL was investigating the matter. According to News 5 in Cleveland, one of the requests the NFL made of the Cleveland Police Department was “any documentation indicating Jabrill Peppers is not a suspect in (Carroll’s) homicide.”

The Cleveland Police quickly released a statement noting that Peppers is not a suspect, and the Giants released a statement echoing that.

“We are aware of the situation in Cleveland. The NFL has been aware of this situation for some time. Jabrill is not the subject of an investigation by the Cleveland Police Department,” the Giants’ statement said.

It is unclear why the NFL is investigating the matter.

Chargers in “wait-and-see mode” with Antonio Gates

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It took a season-ending ACL tear for Hunter Henry to open the door for Antonio Gates‘ return to the Chargers in 2018 and it’s not clear what it will take for Gates to play a 17th season for the team.

After the Chargers were ousted from the playoffs, Gates said he would like to play another year with the team but there’s been no word about conversations between the two sides this offseason. Head coach Anthony Lynn said the door isn’t closed, but indicated the question of Gates’ return might remain on the back burner for a while.

“It’s absolutely a possibility,” Lynn said from the league meetings on Tuesday. “We have to look and see where we are at free-agent wise and money-wise, and just see how some of these things work out. We kind of explained that to him, so we’re just in kind of wait-and-see mode right now.”

Lynn said he has no doubt that Henry will be ready to go for the offseason program, which isn’t a great surprise given the fact that he returned to action in the playoffs. Virgil Green and Sean Culkin are also on hand at tight end in Los Angeles.

Rams “absolutely” want to extend Marcus Peters’ contract

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Cornerback Marcus Peters didn’t have the best season in his first year with the Rams, but that hasn’t dimmed the team’s feelings about his future with the organization.

Head coach Sean McVay said on Tuesday that the Rams “absolutely” want to extend Peters’ contract beyond this year. Peters is in the fifth year of his rookie deal and will make just over $9 million.

“We are excited about building into year two, and we’ve been really pleased with Marcus — especially pleased with what you can find out with all the experiences that we went through in one year,” McVay said, via the team’s website. “The talent is there, love the person, and he is passionate about the game. That was the one thing that — we talked about it a lot last year — but when you got guys that love football and that are good people, at the end of the day you can work with that. The passion and the different things — you love that — and I’ve loved working with Marcus so far.”

McVay acknowledged Peters’ ups and downs while complimenting his accountability and adding that he thought Peters played his best game of the year in the Super Bowl.

The Rams’ other starting cornerback Aqib Talib is also in the final year of his contract, which may make getting a deal done with Peters that much more of a priority.

Freddie Kitchens isn’t afraid of expectations

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Freddie Kitchens has never been a head coach before. Heck, he wasn’t an offensive coordinator for long.

And yes, he knows he was just gifted a talented roster, and high expectations, and will probably play a load of prime-time games for a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since 2007. And he has to manage some big personalities, without

“I am scared to death of all those,” the Browns new coach said. “I mean, I really am. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it. I really don’t know if I’m ready for this job. I really don’t, man.”

He was kidding.

“At least they think enough of you to [have] the expectations. But their expectations of us don’t change our expectations. So I don’t care if they thought we were going to be the last team in the league. Our expectations wouldn’t change. I don’t mind expectations. I’ve never seen a team end up in the Super Bowl that didn’t have those expectations. So if that’s your goal is to go to the Super Bowl, you better have those expectations.”

Kitchens has a down-home demeanor which disarms, and he is perfectly willing to embrace that as he sells his vision of the future for a team that hasn’t known success lately. But there’s still the small fact that he hasn’t done this job, much less done it well. But he denied that created added pressure for him.

“Pressure?” he said. “To me, pressure is waking up without a job, having a baby at home to feed, your wife just left, and you have no money in your pocket. So that’s pressure. I don’t think what we do is pressure.”

It was mentioned that sounded like a country-song lyric, and he grinned and replied: “Yeah, I listen to country music for a reason. Most of all those songs it seems like was written for me.”

And for the moment, at least, it’s still a song people can’t get enough of.

Vikings extend Rick Spielman’s contract

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The Vikings have extended the contract of General Manager Rick Spielman through the 2020 season, Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune reports.

The one-year extension through the 2020 season keeps him “synched up” with coach Mike Zimmer, Vikings president and co-owner Mark Wilf told Goessling.

The Vikings picked up the option on Zimmer’s contract last month, extending him through 2020.

It still remains a pivotal year for Spielman and Zimmer, per Goessling, with changes possible after the season if the Vikings don’t win.

Minnesota missed the postseason with an 8-7-1 record last season.

Spielman has served as the team’s General Manager for seven seasons after five as the vice president of player personnel.

Jay Gruden: We’re looking for more from Josh Norman

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Cornerback Josh Norman earned the ire of Washington head coach Jay Gruden during an October game for wearing headphones when the coach addressed the team at halftime of a loss to the Saints.

Norman wound up being benched for the start of the second half of that game and his play didn’t earn rave reviews from Gruden at the league meetings in Arizona on Tuesday. Norman was signed to be a star cornerback and Gruden said he needs to see more from the veteran during the 2019 season if he’s going to be at that level.

“But as far as his play for the whole season is concerned, it’s a solid starting cornerback play,” Gruden said, via NBC Sports Washington. “Now we’re looking for more from Josh and he’s going to give us more because we’re going to demand more. We’re looking for superstar status from Josh.”

Norman signed a five-year, $75 million contract with Washington in 2016. With the ability to clear $12.5 million in cap space heading into the 2020 season, anything short of that superstar status could spell the end of his time with the team.

Patriots officially place Rob Gronkowski on reserve/retired

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If Rob Gronkowski ever wants to return, the Patriots will hold his rights.

New England officially placed the tight end on the reserve/retired list Tuesday.

Gronkowski, 29, announced his retirement Sunday night after nine seasons. Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told Peter King for Football Morning in America that it wouldn’t shock him if Gronkowski decided to return at some point in 2019.

If Gronkowski has played his last game, he leaves with 521 catches for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick wouldn’t talk about Gronkowski during the coaches’ breakfast Tuesday morning, but opposing coaches did, celebrating not having to face him anymore.

“It surprised me when he walked away, but he has that right,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “He had a heck of a career. He went out on top. I think he was one of the best tight ends the league has ever seen.

“This guy was a dominant blocker and a dominant receiver. He was a nightmare matchup.”

NFL could add a coach’s challenge for certain fouls

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When the owners reconvene later today in Arizona, they will be considering one specific proposal that originated with the league’s coaches.

Per a league source, the owners will take up the possibility of adding a coach’s challenge for defensive pass interference, offensive pass interference, roughing the passer, or illegal hits on defenseless players. This would be a separate challenge, in addition to the current challenge system.

Presumably, this extra challenge would trigger a review of fouls that are called and a review of fouls that aren’t called. It’s unclear whether review would be automatic or whether the red flag would still be required to be thrown in the final two minutes or either half or during overtime.

The coaches came up with this proposal during a coaches-only meeting on Monday. The source predicted that it has a 65-70 percent chance of passing when owners get together late Tuesday afternoon, Arizona time.

Falcons owner says Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett are “Falcons for life”

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Falcons owner Arthur Blank must be pretty confident in his negotiators. Because he just offered two of his players something few players enjoy.

Via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Blank said that wide receiver Julio Jones and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett weren’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

“They are both great players, both Grady and Julio,” Blank said. “They both will be Falcons for life. I feel pretty good, comfortable and confident in saying that.”

Jarrett’s currently sitting on the franchise tag, which would pay him $15.2 million for a year, and Blank said they’re currently working on a longer-term answer. Keeping Jones paid on par with his production is difficult anyway, and the recent Antonio Brown deal didn’t help.

“With Julio, we’ve been in touch with both Julio and his agent,” Blank said. “We are working on that. . . .

“These deals, the size of these deals today are becoming big. They’ve always been big, but are becoming bigger, now and you have to work them into a pattern that makes sense in terms of other players that you have coming up.

“So, there is a salary cap. It’s a hard salary cap. We don’t get the chance to spend whatever we want on these players. We have to balance not only what we need for today, but what are our needs for the next couple of years as well.”

Of course, the salary cap keeps going up $10 million a year or more, which means revenues are going up as well. That means Blank can well afford the monetary part (at least until he decides they’re overpaid and decides to break the contract).

Rosenhaus, Brown thought Eagles or Patriots would make trade with Steelers

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The last time Antonio Brown posted a behind-the-scenes recording, it was from the Steelers’ locker room and Mike Tomlin was not amused. Now Brown had done it again, and given fans an interesting look into his conversations with agent Drew Rosenhaus before he was traded to the Raiders.

The audio, which Brown provided to the Boomin Experience podcast, reveals that Rosenhaus believed the Raiders’ interest was declining before the trade actually happened.

“Oakland, I think, is fading. I kind of get the sense that they’re fading a little bit,” Rosenhaus told Brown.

Rosenhaus thought instead that the Eagles or Patriots might be the teams to acquire Brown. The audio also confirms that Brown had no interest in playing in Buffalo, despite reports that the Bills and Steelers came close on a trade.

“When the Bills called me today they said, ‘If we make the trade, what are you guys looking for?’ I wouldn’t even give them a number because I know you don’t want to go there,” Rosenhaus told Brown.

Rosenhaus said there were six teams showing interest in a trade, and that he was pushing the Steelers to trade Brown to a good team with a good quarterback.

“The teams that want you right now are New England, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Washington and Buffalo, with Oakland still in the picture,” Rosenhaus said.

Both Rosenhaus and Brown seemed to think the trade compensation to the Steelers was going to be higher than it was, as they discussed the possibility of teams trading two first-round picks to the Steelers for Brown. In the end, the Raiders gave up only a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick.

Rosenhaus said he put Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert in touch with Bill Belichick but thought the Steelers might be hesitant to trade him to the Patriots. Rosenhaus also said the Steelers had shown an eagerness to get a deal done.

“The Steelers have been good communicators with me. We’ve talked a couple times every day,” Rosenhaus said.

The audio is a fascinating look at how Brown and Rosenhaus went through the process of orchestrating the trade, and Brown’s lucrative contract extension.

Clark Hunt: OT change could apply to postseason only

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The owners have tabled Kansas City’s overtime proposal until the next league meetings in May. When they reconvene, the change to OT could be made — with one key caveat.

In an appearance on PFT Live, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt suggested that the rule, if adopted, will apply to the postseason only.

That’s the better approach. Guaranteeing a possession for the team that kicks off to start overtime even after a first-drive touchdown would result in longer games and more ties in the regular season. Moreover, the regular season lacks the same finality as the postseason, making the unfairness of a one-possession overtime less glaring in the 256 games that make up the 17 weeks of normal football action.

For more from Clark Hunt, including some observations on the eventual extension of Patrick Mahomes‘ rookie deal, check out the video attached to this blurb.

Kliff Kingsbury on Kyler Murray: It’s more what don’t you like

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Kliff Kingsbury continues to speak highly of current starting quarterback Josh Rosen. The new Cardinals coach continues to say the team hasn’t made up its mind on what to do with the No. 1 overall pick.

The one thing that’s obvious is how high Kingsbury is on Kyler Murray.

Kingsbury, who coached at Texas Tech last season when Murray won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma, is effusive in his praise of Murray.

At the Tuesday morning coaches’ breakfast Tuesday, a reporter asked Kingsbury what he liked about Murray.

“It’s more what don’t you like,” Kingsbury said. “When you watch him play, he can run it; he can throw it; he’s a competitor. I was one of the better Texas high school players to ever come through our state. I don’t know if there is one thing you can pinpoint. He is one of the better dual-threat players to ever play.”

The Cardinals still are weighing their options for the top pick, Kingsbury reiterated, and why wouldn’t they be? Arizona might get a trade offer it can refuse, and if the Cardinals use the choice, they need to feel comfortable it’s the right choice.

“You just want to make sure you are thorough when you have that No. 1 pick,” Kingsbury said. “That’s a pick that can change your organization for many years to come. If you’re not doing all your due diligence possible, then I think it’s a mistake. Steve [Keim] and Michael [Bidwill] feel the same way. It’s been an extensive process, from the Combine and going out and seeing all these people, and I feel like we’re doing a good job gathering information.”