J.J. Watt offers to pay for funerals for Texas school shooting victims

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Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has offered to pay for the funerals of the 10 people who were killed in a Texas high school on Friday.

Nine students and one teacher were killed at Santa Fe High School, about 30 miles from downtown Houston, when a student opened fire. Another 10 people were injured.

The Texans have confirmed that Watt said he will pay for the funerals of the deceased.

Watt was named the recipient of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award after his fundraising campaign raised more than $37 million for people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

AAF will welcome “best available players,” without regard to social stances

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The NFL allegedly has shunned Colin Kaepernick for his non-football activities. The Alliance for American Football says it won’t.

Best available players,” AAF co-founder Charlie Ebersol told azcentralsports.com on Friday after the fledgling league announced Rick Neuheisel as the coach of a Tempe-based team. “You show up and you can play and you want to play in our league, then we want to talk to you.”

As a developmental league, the AAF won’t be picky about where it finds talent. It can’t afford to be.

“I would say this is a league of opportunity,” Ebersol said. “And I would welcome the opportunity to coach those kinds of guys.”

The AAF plans to start with eight teams playing a 10-game regular season. Franchises will be located in Orlando, Atlanta, Memphis, Salt Lake City, and Arizona. Three more teams will be announced.

It’s unlikely that the AAF will be able to pay a guy like Kaepernick enough money to persuade him to play. But if he doesn’t play there, it apparently won’t have anything to do with his protests during the national anthem.

Reuben Foster goes to court June 20 for marijuana charge

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Reuben Foster is due in court June 20 to face a marijuana possession charge, Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports.

The 49ers linebacker was arrested on the second-degree misdemeanor charge January 12 and released after posting $2,500 bond. He is subject to league discipline under the NFL’s substances of abuse policy.

On Wednesday, Foster will find out whether he will stand trial on domestic violence charges after his former girlfriend recanted accusations against him. Ex-girlfriend Elissa Ennis said she made up allegations that Foster struck her because Foster broke up with her and she “wanted him to go down” as a result. Ennis also described her actions as a “money scheme.”

Foster has not participated in the team’s offseason program since being charged with domestic violence in April.

Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham have become fast friends

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Saquon Barkley became friends with Odell Beckham before the Giants made the Penn State running back the No. 2 overall pick. Now, they’re teammates and hoping to became the next great running back/receiver tandem in the NFL.

“We talked the Giants drafting me into existence,” Barkley told Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media. “When I used to hang out with Odell, I’d tell him, ‘I’m going to be a Giant; I want to be a Giant; I want to be a part of that team.’

“. . . I do believe that we can have an impact on this league. But, when I say ‘we,’ it’s never just Odell and me. It’s not just the Saquon and Odell duo. It’s not the Saquon show. That wide receiving corps around Odell is extremely talented. You have a great quarterback. You have a great stable of running backs.”

Beckham has become a mentor to Barkley, with the veteran receiver offering tips on how to handle the spotlight.

“The best advice Odell gave me, and the best advice that I’ve gotten from a lot of the veteran players and people in general, is to just continue being me,” Barkley said. “I got here for a reason. Obviously, you have to improve on your work ethic and your game. Obviously, you have a lot more time to focus on the game of football. Just be you. Stay true to who you are, be humble, be hungry, and the rest will take care of itself.”

End your week with a little #PFTPM

PFT PM

During the slow(er) time, it feels like there won’t be much to talk about during #PFTPM until it’s time to talk. And then there’s plenty.

Today, precisely one hour’s worth of afternoon podcast for your listening pleasure on Friday night or over the weekend.

You know the drill. Several topics, followed by answers to some excellent, PFT-blurb-inspiring questions from the @PFTPMPosse.

How do you join the @PFTPMPosse, you ask? (Even if you didn’t.) Follow the Twitter account, subscribe to the podcast, and you’re in.

Unless you’re Stats. Stats isn’t welcome.

More information emerges regarding the new helmet rule

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Nearly two months after the NFL surprisingly passed a rule that, as written, broadly prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact, the eventual impact of the rule on the game remains to be seen. In part because the precise contours of the rule remain undefined.

Bit by bit, more information regarding the new rule is emerging. On Friday, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent answered questions on Twitter regarding the new helmet rule, and his first few answers confirmed that the new rule will have two clear tiers of enforcement: a 15-yard penalty and an ejection.

According to Vincent, a player “may be ejected” if he “lowers his head to establish a linear body posture prior to making contact with the head, has an unobstructed path to his opponent, and could have avoided contact.” The video attached to the tweet contains two examples of players making ejection-worthy hits: the 2017 helmet impact by Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan on Packers receiver Davante Adams and a helmet-first hit from a 2015 Monday night game by Falcons safety William Moore on Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews.

Vincent explained that the league looked at more than 40,000 plays from the 2017 season, and that only three ejections were identified.

Separately, Vincent confirmed that, under the new helmet rule, a foul occurs “if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.” Vincent demonstrates the point with video of a 2017 hit from Chiefs safety Ron Parker on Patriots receiver Danny Amendola.

It’s far closer to a bang-bang play, but Parker definitely had a chance to not plow helmet first into Amendola. And even if that play triggers a foul but not an ejection, it’s situation in which 15 yards will adjust based on a maneuver that, as of last year, was legal.

Which means that, as of 2018, the new helmet rule creates two levels of infraction. For something closer to bang-bang, a foul will be called, akin to the penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver in the head/neck area. For something that entails more time for the player to line up and attack with his helmet, it will be both a penalty and an ejection.

It won’t be a penalty, as Vincent has confirmed, if the player lowers his helmet not to initiate impact but to brace for it. That could make the rule even harder to officiate, with players colliding their helmets and a real-time decision being made regarding whether one was initiating it and whether the other was bracing for it.

Which brings into question, once again, the question of whether the new helmet rule will change the between-the-tackles running game, where plenty of players routinely dip their helmets as they try to create holes, collapse blocking plans, gain yardage, and make tackles. The league has still yet to explain that specific wrinkle.

So, basically, there’s still a long way to go before this new rule and its implications can be fully and properly understood. The sooner everyone knows precisely what is and isn’t allowed, the better.

Vincent Jackson makes his retirement official

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Vincent Jackson hasn’t played in the NFL since October 2016, but he hadn’t officially retired. Until now.

Jackson has now officially decided to retire, and the Chargers have congratulated him on a great career.

The 35-year-old Jackson retires with impressive career numbers of 540 catches for 9,080 yards and 57 touchdowns. He had three 1,000-yard seasons with the Chargers and three more 1,000-yard seasons with the Buccaneers.

Jackson was a two-sport athlete at Northern Colorado, playing both football and basketball, and the Chargers liked his athletic makeup enough to take him in the second round of the 2005 NFL draft, even though he hadn’t played against top competition in college. Jackson didn’t do much as a rookie, catching just three passes in his first year, but he eventually developed into a Pro Bowler in San Diego.

After a protracted contract dispute with the Chargers, Jackson eventually left for Tampa Bay and was a Pro Bowler again in his first year there, in 2012. A knee injury ended Jackson’s season in 2016, and he didn’t find a team in 2017. Now he’s deciding to call it a career. It’s been a good one.

Former NFL fullback Don Testerman dies at 65

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Don Testerman, the first fullback in the Seahawks’ history, died on May 8 in Greenville, South Carolina, from complications of dementia, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reports. Testerman was 65.

Testerman played for four college teams, four NFL teams and even gave the USFL a shot.

He served in the Navy and played at Virginia Tech, Ferrum, Lenoir-Rhyne and Clemson before the Dolphins selected Testerman in the 10th round in 1976.

Testerman was waived by the Dolphins and the Eagles before joining the Seahawks just before the start of his rookie season. He started 13 games for the Seahawks in 1977 and was the team’s second-leading rusher with 459 yards and second-leading receiver with 219 yards.

Seattle traded Testerman to Washington in 1979 for draft picks, and he played five games for Miami in 1980. He attempted a comeback with the USFL two years later before retiring.

Testerman saw action in 49 games with 27 starts in his career, gaining 1,459 yards from scrimmage and scoring seven touchdowns.

Report: Julio Jones not expected at OTAs

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Odell Beckham is expected to be in attendance at Giants organized team activities, but another one of the league’s top wideouts is reportedly planning to continue working out on his own.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is not expected to be with the Falcons when they start the OTA portion of their offseason schedule next week. Jones has been working out in Alabama. Quarterback Matt Ryan said earlier this offseason that it is “huge” that Jones would be healthy for offseason work, but his absence is not expected to be an issue for the Falcons.

They said they were in a “great spot” with Jones last month and Rapoport reports the Falcons “love [Jones] as much as you could love a player.” Rapoport adds that the team is amenable to finding a way to provide the “correction or update” to Jones’ contract that Jones would like.

Jones, who missed the offseason last year while recovering from foot surgery, is set to make a base salary of $10.5 million in 2018 as part of the contract extension he signed with the team in 2015. That five-year deal pays Jones an average of $14.25 million per year, which is currently eighth among wideouts.

Patriots bring back Jason King

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The Patriots have brought back Jason King, re-signing the offensive lineman Friday, Mike Reiss of ESPN reports. New England waived rookie receiver Chris Lacy.

King has had multiple stints with the Patriots. The team most recently cut him May 10 after he had signed a futures contract with New England on February 6.

King, 24, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent on May 5, 2017, signing with the Patriots. King went through training camp with the team, but the Patriots released him before the start of the regular season.

King joined New England’s practice squad on September 20, but it released him October 9. The Ravens signed him to their practice squad on October 31, and he spent two weeks there.

The Patriots re-signed him to their active roster on November 28, released him December 2 and re-signed him to the practice squad December 5.

Browns claim Marcell Frazier off waivers

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The Browns are trading cornerback Jamar Taylor to the Cardinals in a move that opens up a spot on their roster.

They’ll be filling it with a player recently let go by the Seahawks. Field Yates of ESPN reports that the Browns have claimed defensive end Marcell Frazier off of waivers.

Frazier started 13 games at the University of Missouri last year and was named second-team All-SEC. He recorded 40 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in his final college season.

The Browns have Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah at the top of the depth chart at defensive end. Chris Smith, Carl Nassib and 2018 third-rounder Chad Thomas round out the group in Cleveland.

UPDATE 4:38 p.m. ET: The Browns announced Frazier’s acquisition. They also waived linebacker Austin Calitro.

Saints sign Josh LeRibeus

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The Saints added some depth to their offensive line.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Saints have signed veteran interior lineman Josh LeRibeus.

Originally a third-round pick by Washington in 2012, he signed with the Saints last May and played in all 16 games.

The Saints lost Senio Kelemete this offseason in free agency, but brought back Jermon Bushrod, as they look for depth on what was an improved line last year.

Jay Ajayi denies L.A. mansion owner’s accusations

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Eagles running back Jay Ajayi is denying accusations that he trashed a Los Angeles mansion. His publicist told Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald that “no parties were thrown and the group did not cause any damage to the property.”

The owner of the 6,000-square-foot home is suing Ajayi for $25,000 in damages, TMZ Sports reported earlier this week. The owner also accuses Ajayi of pushing him in the chest during a February 18 confrontation about the damage.

“Jay was not involved in any physical altercations,” Melanie Wadden, Ajayi’s publicst, told Beasley in an email.

Further, Wadden said Ajayi was a guest, not the renter, and the owner attempted to get the group to pay cash outside of Airbnb. She added that the owner was on-site during the group’s entire stay.

“The entire group voluntarily left the property several days early — no security or police were ever involved or on-site,” Wadden said. “They filed a complaint against the owner through Airbnb back in February that included screenshots of the owner asking for cash and trying to communicate outside of their platform [against Airbnb policy].”

AAF announces Rick Neuheisel as head coach of Phoenix team

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The Alliance of American Football has announced the name of another head coach for its inaugural season in 2019.

Rick Neuheisel will coach the Phoenix entry in the league, which plans to launch in February 2019. Neuheisel’s involvement has been expected for some time, although initial reports indicated that he would be coaching a team based in Southern California.

Neuheisel will instead take over the Phoenix entry and he will coach home games at Sun Devil Stadium. Neuheisel is familiar with the stadium as he coached against Arizona State when he was the head coach at the University of Washington and when he coached UCLA.

“The Alliance’s emphasis on building a dynamic relationship between players, fans and the game is what immediately grabbed my attention. There is nothing like experiencing the thrill of victory and agony of defeat together. We all invest so much into the game, and that’s something I’ve missed over the years away from the sidelines,” Neuheisel said in a statement. “The combination of a passionate fan base and motivated, talented players looking to make a name for themselves on the professional level will result in exciting football at Sun Devil Stadium in the spring, with the ultimate goal being to bring home the first ever Alliance Championship.”

Neuheisel also coached at the University of Colorado and spent time on the Ravens staff from 2005 to 2007. He joins Steve Spurrier, Brad Childress, Mike Singletary and Dennis Erickson as head coaches in the upstart league.

Seahawks promote Nolan Teasley to director of pro personnel

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The Seahawks promoted Nolan Teasley to director of pro personnel, General Manager John Schneider announced Friday.

Teasley most recently held the title of assistant director of pro personnel. He takes over for Dan Morgan, who earlier this month joined the Bills as their director of player personnel.

“We are extremely excited to be able to promote Nolan Teasley into his new role as director of pro personnel,” Schneider said in a statement released by the team. “Nolan started as an intern with us and has continually impressed with his football knowledge and work ethic. We will all miss Dan Morgan but we are very pleased to be able to have Nolan step forward into his new role.”

Teasley is a 2007 graduate of Central Washington University, where he played running back for the Wildcats. After working in corporate marketing after college, Teasley got his start in scouting with the help of fellow Central alum and Seahawks scout Aaron Hineline.

Teasley landed a job as a scouting intern with the Seahawks in 2013. The team then hired as a pro personnel scout in 2014 before promoting him to assistant director of pro personnel last year.