Eagles announce changes to scouting department

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The Eagles passed out a few new titles, and added some new faces to their scouting department.

The team announced the moves Monday, mostly for staff already on hand.

Andy Weidl was named director of player personnel and Alan Wolking assistant director of college scouting. They also hired former Patriots scout Patrick Stewart as national scout, and hired area scouts Shawn Heinlen (Southwest), Ryan Myers (West Coast), Jim Ward (Northeast). Also, Casey Weidl was named player personnel coordinator and Lee DiValerio scouting assistant.

Andy Weidel joined the team last year, after working with vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas in Baltimore.

Heinlen spent the last 15 years with the Bills.

Ereck Flowers “has kind of fit right in with” everybody for Giants

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The Giants’ decision to sign Nate Solder and install him as their starting left tackle wasn’t taken all that well by Ereck Flowers, but you wouldn’t have known that by what went on after the team’s first OTA of the offseason.

Solder and Flowers, who started at left tackle the last three years, worked together with a blocking pad after practice wrapped up. Flowers spent the session at right tackle, where he began competing upon reporting to work for the first time last week, and got some nice words from head coach Pat Shurmur.

“He did a nice job today,” Shurmur said, via NJ.com. “We’ve had him in for a week. He has kind of fit right in there with everybody. I wasn’t all that pressured up about [his absence]. I’m glad he is here. I’m getting to know him. It’s a clean slate. He’s out here competing, and I think that’s what’s most important.”

Solder said he’s excited to play with Flowers and everyone with the Giants will be excited if the changes at tackle lead to a more competent offensive line this time out.

Lions claim rookie receiver Chris Lacy off waivers

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The Lions claimed rookie receiver Chris Lacy off waivers from the Patriots, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Lacy, 22, signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State on May 11.

He caught 63 passes for 920 yards and five touchdowns in 32 college games. Lacy also returned six kickoffs for 97 return yards.

New England waived him last week to make room for guard Jason King.

Cardinals cut Marcus Williams to make room for Jamar Taylor

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The Cardinals cut cornerback Marcus Williams on Monday, the team announced. They needed a spot after trading for Jamar Taylor, who is the favorite to start opposite Patrick Peterson.

Arizona also has seven other cornerbacks on its roster — Brandon Williams, Bené Benwikere, Jonathan Moxey, Lou Young III, sixth-round pick Chris Campbell and undrafted free agents Tavierre Thomas and Deatrick Nichols.

Williams expected to be in the mix for a roster spot after signing with the Cardinals on April 19.

He spent time with the Jets and the Texans last season, making one interception in the 15 games he played.

Williams originally singed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He joined the Jets after the Texans waived him from the practice squad.

He has played 49 career games with 15 starts, making 10 interceptions and 27 pass breakups.

Bills release Richie Incognito

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It took a little more than a month, but Richie Incognito got what he wanted from the Bills.

A few days after announcing his intention to retire in April, Incognito was placed on the reserve/retired list in Buffalo. Incognito then reversed course and asked the Bills to release him so that he would be free to continue his career with another team.

The Bills didn’t act on it at the time, but they announced on Monday that Incognito has been released. He immediately becomes a free agent and is eligible to sign with any team that might want to employ him.

Incognito said last month that issues with his liver and kidneys were behind his decision to retire, although the later twists and turns suggest that it may have been more about a lack of desire to play on the reduced salary he agreed to take earlier in the year. We’ll see if he finds a bigger offer somewhere else or if his willingness to play for less increases outside of Buffalo.

Packers place Filipo Mokofisi on retired list

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The Packers placed defensive tackle Filipo Mokofisi on the reserve/retired list, the team announced Monday.

Mokofisi signed with the Packers as a rookie free agent out of the University of Utah on May 4.

Mokofisi, 23, started for three seasons at Utah, appearing in 48 games with 35 starts. He also spent some time at defensive end.

He started all 26 games over his final two seasons and was named honorable mention All-Pac-12 both years.

In 2016, Mokofisi set career highs in tackles (45), tackles for a loss (eight) and sacks (five).

Patrick Omameh re-learning right guard after Giants drafted Will Hernandez

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Patrick Omameh has played right guard, but it’s been a couple of years.

He spent the past two seasons at left guard with the Jaguars, starting 20 games. But after the Giants drafted Will Hernandez in the second round, with the expectation he will start at left guard, the Giants moved Omameh to right guard.

Omameh started all 16 games at right guard in 2014 for the Buccaneers and spent part of 2015 there while with the Bears.

“The transition is honestly [easy] because I have some background playing on the right side,” Omameh said Monday, via quotes distributed by the team. “It’s not completely starting from scratch. A few things that you need to get back that just comes with repetitions, but yeah, it’s just a situation where the more you can do for the team, whatever I’m able to do, I’ll jump out there and do it.”

Ereck Flowers also is adjusting to the right side, having moved from left tackle to right tackle after the Giants signed Nate Solder in free agency.

“Luckily we’re starting in May, so get the repetitions in that we need and I don’t foresee it being any type of issue moving forward,” Omameh said.

Raiders strike a deal with third-rounder Brandon Parker

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The Raiders opened the day with three unsigned draft picks, but they’ve gotten down to one on Monday afternoon.

Shortly after announcing that fourth-round cornerback Nick Nelson agreed to a four-year deal, the Raiders made the same announcement about third-round tackle Brandon Parker. Defensive end Arden Key, another third-round pick, is the lone Oakland selection without a contract.

Parker became the second of two tackles the Raiders took in the first three rounds when they traded up with the Ravens to secure his services. Parker was named MEAC offensive lineman of the year three times while at North Carolina A&T and did well at the Senior Bowl to bolster his draft stock this year.

Kolton Miller was the first tackle the Raiders selected and is seen as a good bet to wind up as the starter on the right side of the line as a rookie. Parker may not have the same path to early playing time, but it remains to be seen how things play out this summer.

Raiders sign fourth-rounder Nick Nelson

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The Raiders signed fourth-rounder Nick Nelson, leaving them with just two unsigned draft picks.

The team announced Nelson’s four-year deal Monday.

The cornerback from Wisconsin was picked 110th overall. He might have gone higher if not for the knee injury suffered in a pre-draft workout with the Lions. He needed only a partial meniscus repair, so it could have been worse, but he still stands as a cautionary tale against the proliferation of such workouts.

The Raiders have two picks left to sign, third-rounders Brandon Parker and Arden Key.

Steven Jackson ranks himself as the Rams’ greatest running back

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The Rams have a long history of great running backs. Todd Gurley, the 2017 NFL offensive player of the year, is the latest to carry the torch while carrying the ball for the Rams.

I’m a history freak,” former Rams running back Steven Jackson said, via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. “And when it comes to the Rams’ organization, if there’s one thing we do, we pick running backs well.”

Jackson is in the Hall of Very Good after rushing for 10,138 yards and 56 touchdowns while catching 407 passes for 3,324 yards and eight touchdowns in his nine years with the Rams. He finished his career with 11,438 rushing yards, 3,683 receiving yards and 78 touchdowns.

He becomes Hall eligible in 2021 but doesn’t appear a first-ballot guy.

Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk already are in the Hall of Fame after spending parts of their careers with the Rams. Jackson, though, argues that he’s the best running back ever to put on the Rams’ uniform.

“Sometimes, I talk to current fans here [in Los Angeles] and there’s an argument of who’s the greatest running back to be a Ram,” said Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler who never made All-Pro. “I think it’s me.

“Look at the record book. Everybody has their pick.”

Dickerson played less than five seasons with the Rams before they traded him to the Colts, but he gained 7,245 of his 13,259 rushing yards with the franchise that drafted him. He also scored 56 of his 90 career touchdowns with the Rams.

Faulk played seven of his 12 seasons with the Rams, gaining 6,959 of his 12,279 rushing yards and 4,071 of his 6,875 receiving yards with St. Louis. He scored 85 of his 136 touchdowns while with the Rams.

Both Dickerson and Faulk were highly decorated with multiple All-Pro nods and other awards, including Faulk’s MVP award in 2000. That’s among the reasons they are in the Hall of Fame and Jackson could have a long wait if he ever gets in.

Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis spent three of his 13 seasons with the Rams, rushing for 3,091 yards with them.

Jets sign fourth-rounder Chris Herndon

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Quarterback Sam Darnold was the first of six Jets draft picks this year and he’s now the last one without a contract.

The Jets announced that tight end Chris Herndon has agreed to a four-year deal with the team. Herndon was selected in the fourth round with the 107th overall pick.

Herndon had 40 catches for 477 yards and four touchdowns in 11 games at the University of Miami last season. He hurt his MCL in the final game of the season and the team said after the draft that they expected him to be limited in offseason work, but he was able to do some drills at rookie minicamp.

The Jets did not re-sign Austin Seferian-Jenkins after he hit free agency, leaving them without their top tight end from last season. Herndon, Jordan Leggett, Clive Walford, Eric Tomlinson and Neal Sterling make up the contenders for playing time this year.

Eli Apple embarrassed about 2017, happy for fresh start

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As the 2017 season wound down, there were plenty of people who thought that the team might move on without cornerback Eli Apple after a year marked by poor play on the field and a series of incidents off of it.

General Manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur each said that Apple would get a clean slate, however, and he’s set for a prominent spot in the secondary in his third NFL season. On Monday, Apple spoke to the media at Giants OTAs and said “of course” he is embarrassed about how things went last year while discussing his attempt to make the most of his chance this year.

“It’s about just putting things behind me, trying to continue to move forward, and go out here and have great energy on the field,” Apple said, via NJ.com. “I definitely feel it. The coaches have told me. I’m trying to be a better person, better player, and better teammate this year. Obviously, with the stuff that happened last year, I want to continue to work on myself. I want to communicate better, and not let certain stuff get to me. I want to continue to strive to be better every day.”

Apple said he thought he “got a little too confident” last year and said he’ll be more patient as he works to “fine-tune everything” over the next few months. If that goes well, the Giants’ own patience with their 2016 first-round pick could pay dividends as they try to recover from their own miserable season.

A closer look at the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick P.R. play

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If it was intentional, it was brilliant. If it was inadvertent, it was the equivalent of discovering plutonium by accident.

Regardless, the NFL’s multi-step P.R. play regarding free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick supplied those who don’t like him and/or his anthem protests with an endless stream of talking points that continue to provide a useful basis for quickly shifting the goalposts whenever anyone begins to make progress while arguing the objective unfairness of Kaepernick’s lingering unemployment.

By now, everyone knows the truth: Kaepernick isn’t employed not because of his skills, but because of his politics. More specifically, because he decided to bring attention to police brutality directed at African-Americans and people of color by not standing during the national anthem, the NFL regards him as “bad for business,” regardless of whether the NFL’s current business outlook currently is bad. (Earlier this month, Falcons owner Arthur Blank justified the Matt Ryan contract in part by explaining that “[l]eague revenues are up, club revenues are up.”

But the process didn’t start with the truth. The process began with unnamed sources pushing false narratives to the media aimed at justifying his unemployment for football reasons. And the anti-Kaepernick crowd still continues to indiscriminately rattle off one of more of these long-debunked reasons even now, months after the NFL finally conceded that the all-about-football decision was only about non-football considerations.

It started with the attack against Kaepernick for “opting out” of his contract, a red herring that was quickly debunked by 49ers G.M. John Lynch, who said on PFT Live that Kaepernick would have been cut if he hadn’t chosen to rip up his deal and become a free agent in March 2017. It continued with someone pushing to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com the notion that Kaepernick wanted a salary in the range of $9 million to $10 million per year and a chance to compete for a starting job. But no one actually knew what Kaepernick wanted at the time, because the conversation hadn’t progressed to the point where anyone had asked Kaepernick or his agents what he wanted at the time.

And there they were, the first two football-related knocks on Kaepernick — he “opted out” of a sure thing with the 49ers, and he wants too much from everyone else.

Then came concerns about his diet. “He’s not eating meat!” the pearl-clutching personnel execs privately said, while also admiring Tom Brady‘s avocado ice cream habit.

Next, it was the notion that some within the 49ers organization believe Kaepernick is more committed to social justice work than playing football. That was quickly refuted, but that didn’t matter. The anti-Kaepernick crowd had another talking point that would endure.

Eventually, as more and more quarterbacks were getting jobs — and as more and more fans and media members were saying, “Yo, what the f–k?” — media members started pushing overt baloney regarding the actual football evaluations of Kaepernick’s abilities.

“The No. 1 reason Colin Kaepernick is unsigned: He’s not considered a starting-caliber player by any NFL evaluator anymore. Work from there,” Albert Breer of SI.com tweeted on May 9, 2017.

It was a specious claim from the get go. How does anyone know what every NFL evaluator thinks?

But truth doesn’t matter. What matters is loading up those who oppose Kaepernick with ammunition for countering arguments rooted in facts. Facts like Monday morning’s PFT item regarding the evidence being harvested in Kaepernick’s collusion grievance. Evidence which shows that multiple teams viewed Kaepernick as a starter in 2017 and still regard him that way today.

By late July, when the Ravens needed a quarterback and considered (for a moment) the possibility of signing Kaepernick, the truth finally surfaced. It’s not all about football. In fact, it’s about anything but football.

That’s what the story should have been from the start. The decision to shell-game the truth, however, has resonated for more than 14 months, allowing fans and media who simply don’t like Kaepernick for what he did and/or what he believes to continue to cite the various football reasons that have uniformly and consistently been exposed as false.

None of this means that the NFL colluded when keeping Kaepernick unemployed. But what better way to throw dirt on the collusion trail than to try to twist and distort the real reasons for the universal (and potentially coordinated) decision to distance the league from a player whom multiple evaluators did indeed regard as a starting-caliber player?

Regardless of whether collusion is proven, and despite the reality that Kaepernick would be employed right now but for his protests, alternative facts have become a very real and viable basis for shouting down anyone who looks at the situation, considers the facts, and says, “Yeah, he’s getting screwed.” However that strategy came to be, the NFL should bottle it and sell it to Washington, D.C.

Bobby Wagner “wishing for the best” in Earl Thomas situation

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Linebacker Bobby Wagner has remained on the Seattle roster during an offseason of changes to the Seahawks defense.

So has safety Earl Thomas, although you wouldn’t know it by dropping by the team’s offseason practices. Thomas has stayed away amid talks about possible trades and/or a new contract that haven’t materialized into anything and Wagner said on 710 ESPN that he’s hopeful that things can work themselves out in a way that keeps Thomas on the team.

“I think he’s an amazing player, he’s an amazing person, he’s a Hall of Famer,” Wagner said. “And just let him know that we’re over here and we’re wishing for the best in that situation and we’re thinking about him. And I just want him to know that. Just because he needs to know. He needs to know that we appreciate him over here. Because he’s a talent that — you’re not going to ever see another person like him ever again play the football field.”

Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that there have been no negotiations about a new contract with OTAs starting this week. Thomas is in the final year of his current contract and has a base salary of $8.5 million.

No punishment for Lions or Matt Patricia

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As far as the NFL is concerned, the matter of Matt Patricia’s past is closed.

The league has announced that it will not discipline either the Lions or Patricia, after a 1996 incident in which the head coach was accused of sexual assault.

Patricia denied any wrongdoing — at the time and recently when a public records search yielded the paperwork. And since the incident was well before he was involved in any NFL business, the league can’t punish him under the personal conduct policy.

Patricia didn’t reveal the information to the Lions (and he shouldn’t have), though there is a troubling aspect to a newspaper finding more things out with a public records search than a team does when hiring one of its highest-profile employees.

The league met with the Lions and Patricia last week to discuss the matter.

The case never went to trial, as the woman who made the accusation didn’t cooperate with prosecutors and testify against him.