Bills reunite with former CB Gaines on 1-year deal

Bills reunite with former CB Gaines on 1-year deal

The Buffalo Bills bolstered their cornerback depth with a familiar face by signing E.J. Gaines to a one-year contract, the team announced Monday.

Per the Houston Chronicle, the deal will pay Gaines $3.6 million for the 2019 season.

Gaines, 27, spent the 2017 season in Buffalo after being dealt that summer from the Los Angeles Rams in a trade involving wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Gaines was a full-time starter at cornerback, although he missed five games because of injury that season.

The four-year veteran signed with the Browns in March 2018, but only played six games (two starts) with one interception — eventually being placed on injured reserve after having a pair of concussions in a three-week span.

Gaines has been a starter for most of his NFL career (43 games, 38 starts, four interceptions), but health has been an issue. He has missed games in every year since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2014 draft by the Rams, and was forced to sit out the entire 2015 season because of a Lisfranc injury suffered during training camp that year.

The Bills are coming off a strong season by their defense, which finished second in the league in total defense (294.1 total yards allowed per game) and best in the NFL against the pass (179.2 pass ypg allowed).

Gaines joins new free-agent addition Kevin Johnson, formerly of the Houston Texans, in the secondary in a Buffalo offseason dominated by signings on offense — with the team adding four offensive linemen (center Mitch Morse, guard Spencer Long, tackles Ty Nsekhe and LaAdrian Waddle) and a quartet of skill position players (running back Frank Gore, plus wide receivers Cole Beasley, John Brown and Andre Roberts).

–Field Level Media

Steelers place LB Shazier on PUP list

Steelers place LB Shazier on PUP list

The Pittsburgh Steelers placed linebacker Ryan Shazier on

Steelers place LB Shazier on PUP list

The Pittsburgh Steelers placed linebacker Ryan Shazier on the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday.

It will mark the second straight campaign in which Shazier will spend the season on the PUP list. He hasn’t played since suffering a spinal injury in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 4, 2017.

Shazier is slated to make $473,000 this season.

The 26-year-old Shazier has remained motivated toward playing in the NFL again. He reiterated that a few months ago when speaking to reporters shortly before the Super Bowl.

“I definitely want to play,” Shazier said during a media tour. “I try to tell people at the end of the day, just because I got hurt, doesn’t mean I lost the love of the game of football. I love football so much. I just care about the game. I really feel like the game has taken me places I never expected to go.

“I am putting everything into it. I feel like I was the best linebacker in the league. I don’t want to leave that as my legacy. I feel like I have so much to show.”

Shazier was a Pro Bowl selection in each of his last two playing seasons. Overall, he has 303 tackles, seven forced fumbles and seven interceptions in 46 career games (41 starts).

The first-round pick in 2014 also understands that he is now an inspirational figure to others who have faced similar challenges.

“Every day I am constantly trying to get better,” Shazier said. “One milestone after the next. I try to make goals for myself constantly, so I always have something to reach for. I have been knocking them off one step at a time.

“I have been working my tail off. Every day I am grinding.”

The Steelers selected Michigan linebacker Devin Bush with the 10th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft in hopes that he could be a possible replacement for Shazier.

Pittsburgh also signed undrafted free agent P.J. Locke on Monday. He played at Texas.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Browns plan to sign Scottish punter

Report: Browns plan to sign Scottish punter

The Cleveland Browns are bringing in some competition for punter Britton Colquitt.

The team worked out undrafted Scottish free agent punter Jamie Gillan before the NFL draft and they are on the verge of signing him. Gillan, nicknamed "The Scottish Hammer," averaged 42.9

Report: Browns plan to sign Scottish punter

The Cleveland Browns are bringing in some competition for punter Britton Colquitt.

The team worked out undrafted Scottish free agent punter Jamie Gillan before the NFL draft and they are on the verge of signing him. Gillan, nicknamed “The Scottish Hammer,” averaged 42.9 yards per punt last season at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Born in England, Gillan played rugby growing up in Scotland but began playing football after his father, a member of the Royal Armed Forces, was transferred to the United States. He attended high school in Leonardtown, Md.

Colquitt was a Pro Bowl alternate last season when he established a team record with 32 punts inside the 20 and averaged 45.4 yards per kick.

–Field Level Media

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Notebook: Eagles pick up Wentz’s fifth-year option

Notebook: Eagles pick up Wentz's fifth-year option

The Philadelphia Eagles said Monday that they have

Notebook: Eagles pick up Wentz’s fifth-year option

The Philadelphia Eagles said Monday that they have exercised the fifth-year option on quarterback Carson Wentz for the 2020 campaign.

Wentz will make more than $20 million in 2020 though exact figures for fifth-year options won’t be firmed up until a later date.

Wentz, the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, has passed for 10,152 yards, 70 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in 40 career games. He finished third in MVP balloting in 2017 and passed for a franchise-record 33 touchdowns in 13 games before tearing the ACL in his left knee.

Wentz returned from the injury to play in 11 games last season and passed for 3,074 yards and 21 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Wentz, 26, is the Eagles’ undisputed starter after Super Bowl-winning Nick Foles departed for the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason.

–The Detroit Lions exercised the fifth-year option of offensive tackle Taylor Decker.

Decker has started all 40 games in which he has played since being the No. 16 overall pick of the 2016 draft.

–Tight end Jacob Hollister is on the move, traded from the New England Patriots to the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional 2020 draft pick, per reports.

Hollister made the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie in 2017 out of Wyoming and played in 23 games over two seasons with the team.

–Field Level Media

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Take 5: Murray installed as OROY favorite

Take 5: Murray installed as OROY favorite

Take 5: Murray installed as OROY favorite

Gone are the days of treating marquee rookies with kid gloves and having young quarterbacks hold clipboards for a few seasons.

NFL teams expect instant returns from most first-round draft picks, and here are sportsbetting.ag’s top five players most likely to take home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

–Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals (5/2)

Arizona general manager Steve Keim answered with a resounding “yes” when asked Monday if he expects Murray to start Week 1. Opportunity is the first step toward racking up numbers as a rookie and while the Giants might take an Aaron Rodgers approach with No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones, the Cardinals shipped Josh Rosen out of town, clearing the decks for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

Murray’s height and slight frame are the biggest questions about his ability to stay on the field in the NFL. And he might have had a better offensive line in front of him at Oklahoma than he’ll see out of the gates in Arizona. But the heavy odds are that he’ll start right away and he has enough weapons in the passing game — including security blanket David Johnson out of the backfield — to be productive early on.

–Dwayne Haskins, QB, Redskins (7/1)

Haskins was a one-year starter for the Buckeyes, but it was an insanely productive one. There are questions about how he fared against elite defenses in 2018, but there isn’t much standing in his way of starting early on for the Redskins — if not in Week 1.

Alex Smith is recovering from a career-threatening leg injury and the other viable quarterbacks on the roster are veterans Case Keenum and Colt McCoy. One could keep the seat warm for a few weeks, but expect Haskins to get the nod if he shows the ability to pick up the playbook during OTAs and training camp.

–Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders (9/1)

New Raiders GM Mike Mayock targeted Jacobs as his Marshawn Lynch replacement shortly after taking the job. He believes the former Alabama star has the makings of a bruising and productive lead back. The Raiders do have veteran depth in Isaiah Crowell, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.

None of them possess Jacobs’ explosiveness, and he should emerge as the go-to back immediately — at least on first and second downs. What remains to be seen is what Jacobs can contribute to the passing game, and whether he can block well enough to stay on the field on third down.

–Marquise Brown, WR, Ravens (10/1)

The Ravens didn’t mess around securing more weaponry for second-year QB Lamar Jackson, using the 25th overall pick on Brown and a third-rounder on Miles Boykin. Brown didn’t run the 40-yard dash leading up to the draft while recovering from a Lisfranc injury, but he is arguably the most explosive rookie receiving threat.

If the undersized (5-9, 166-pound) Brown can beat NFL corners off the line, he has the acceleration and open-field running ability to be a serious home-run threat. And while Jackson may struggle to throw 10-yard out patterns, he is very adept at dropping vertical passes in the bread basket.

–Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs (10/1)

Hardman is a promising athlete whom the Chiefs picked up out of Georgia in the second round. But make no mistake, these odds are a direct result of the expectation that the Chiefs will be forced to part ways with Tyreek Hill.

Like Hill, Hardman is an undersized (5-10, 187-pound) speed burner who runs a 4.3 40. He turned a lateral into a 30-yard sprint down the sideline last season. Sound like another versatile Chiefs threat you know? He has special acceleration and can also contribute in the return game. While Hardman is far from a polished prospect, coach Andy Reid has a playbook filled with gadget plays to get the ball in Hardman’s hands if Hill is out of the picture.

LONG SHOT PICK: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seahawks (20/1)

The Seahawks were widely applauded for using the final pick of the second round on Metcalf, a physical freak of nature who many thought was a first-round talent. The bet here is he will either be a Pro Bowl regular or out of the league in three years — he has that type of boom-or-bust quality.

Metcalf is also entering a situation where he will be given every opportunity to prove he’s the former. Doug Baldwin reportedly might be forced to retire and the Seahawks lack imposing downfield weapons outside of Tyler Lockett. Quarterback Russell Wilson loves to throw it vertically, and he’ll find it enticing to take shots to a 6-3 target who sports an 82 7/8-inch wingspan to go with his 4.33-second speed.

–Field Level Media

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Giants’ pick still hospitalized, pays tribute to teammate

Giants' pick still hospitalized, pays tribute to teammate

New York Giants sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine remains

Giants’ pick still hospitalized, pays tribute to teammate

New York Giants sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine remains in the hospital after Sunday’s early morning shooting that also took the life of former Washburn University teammate Dwane Simmons.

The two were shot outside an off-campus party as they celebrated Ballentine’s future with the Giants. Ballentine, a cornerback who was drafted 180th overall on Saturday, sustained a single gunshot wound to his glutes but he is expected to make a full recovery and make it to rookie minicamp on Thursday.

“He’s a really bright kid and he’s a great kid,” Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said on SiriusXM NFL radio, via NJ.com. “What happened is tragic and unfortunate. That’s his best friend he was with. We spoke to him on Sunday. He’s coming along fine. He’ll be here Thursday for the minicamp this weekend.”

On Monday, the 23-year-old Ballentine paid touching tribute, below four photos, to his fallen friend and college roommate on Twitter.

“God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Thank you for being a true friend who uplifted me, corrected me when i was in the wrong, and accepted my flaws. Thank you for being a brother to me. Thank you for letting me experience your life,” Ballentine wrote, finishing with a yellow heart emoji.

Washburn will hold a candlelight vigil Tuesday night for Simmons.

After the shooting Sunday, the Giants released a statement.

“We are aware of the tragic situation and continue to gather information. We have spoken to Corey, and he is recovering in the hospital. Our thoughts are with Dwane Simmons’ family, friends and teammates and the rest of the Washburn community.”

Topeka police are still investigating the incident.

–Field Level Media

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Raiders’ Mayock: ‘We’re ready to ride’ with Carr

Raiders' Mayock: 'We're ready to ride' with Carr

Oakland Raiders

Raiders’ Mayock: ‘We’re ready to ride’ with Carr

Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock doubled down on Derek Carr as the team’s franchise quarterback after not selecting a signal-caller during the 2019 NFL Draft.

“We’re always going to do our homework at every position. That’s my job, that’s our job,” the former NFL Network analyst told The Rich Eisen Show on Monday. “And I have a head coach who loves quarterbacks, so we’re always going to evaluate and analyze quarterbacks.

“But, you kidding me? Derek Carr is our guy. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We’re ready to ride with him.”

Mayock was widely panned by the media following his first draft as a GM. The second-guessing began with his first selection, using the No. 4 overall pick on Clemson Tigers defensive end Clelin Ferrell.

Mayock said he and coach Jon Gruden identified Ferrell as the player they wanted entering the first round, and they were comfortable taking him at No. 4 after an opportunity to trade down did not materialize.

“The bottom line is that we knew going in that he was going to be our guy,” Mayock said. “Whether that was at (No.) 4 … 7, 8, 10, whatever, he was going to be our guy.”

Mayock said Ferrell fits the mold of “foundational” players he is trying to get in the building to establish the team’s identity.

“That first pick, for me as a new GM, I felt like it was important to set a tone,” he said. “Jon Gruden and I talked a lot about this — foundation players. And to me, foundation is defined as talent and character. And underneath character has to be high football passion, a love of the game.

“That’s where Ferrell stood out on top of Clelin Ferrell the football player. He’s a leader.”

The Raiders’ 2019 draft haul included three players from Clemson and another polarizing choice with the selection of Alabama running back Josh Jacobs with the No. 24 overall pick.

Following an offseason that already includes the acquisition of enigmatic star wide receiver Antonio Brown and the expected retirement of running back Marshawn Lynch, Mayock has shown little fear as an analyst-turned-GM.

“It was all I kind of thought and hoped (for), and even more,” Mayock said of his first draft as a decision-maker. “I think having ownership, having skin in the game, takes it to a different level.

“I think every general manager, every pick, is open to inspection. It’s the world’s biggest reality show, right? And now that I’ve gone over to the ‘dark side,’ it’s open season on GMs, man.”

Mayock used to head out for vacation following months of intense lead-up to the draft as an analyst. But there’s no rest for the weary for an NFL GM, not with a rookie minicamp and offseason program on tap.

“It’s been a blast,” he said. “I’ve never been more energized. Jon Gruden brings more energy to a room than anyone I’ve ever met in my life. It’s all about football every day.”

–Field Level Media

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Judge bars release of Kraft’s spa-visit videos

Judge bars release of Kraft's spa-visit videos

A Florida judge on Monday again blocked release of surveillance

Judge bars release of Kraft’s spa-visit videos

A Florida judge on Monday again blocked release of surveillance videos related to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s visits to a spa in Jupiter, Fla.

Kraft is one of 25 men charged with paying for sexual acts at Orchids of Asia Day Spa.

Palm Beach County judge Joseph Marx ruled that video and audio recordings that are part of evidence in the case against Kraft and the others are to remain sealed.

A temporary order barring the release of the videos occurred earlier this month.

Kraft, 77, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of soliciting.

Jupiter police said Kraft was caught on surveillance video receiving sexual acts in exchange for money on both Jan. 19 and Jan. 20.

–Field Level Media

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Rosen embraces fresh start with Dolphins

Rosen embraces fresh start with Dolphins

Josh Rosen

Rosen embraces fresh start with Dolphins

Josh Rosen always has carried a chip on his shoulder.

Imagine the 22-year-old quarterback’s desire to prove critics wrong after the Arizona Cardinals traded him to the Miami Dolphins after one season.

“I don’t think my chip has got to grow anymore. I might tip over,” Rosen said with a laugh Monday.

Rosen spoke during an introductory news conference less than a week after the Dolphins acquired him for a pair of draft picks. The Cardinals shopped Rosen after selecting Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall draft pick.

Only a year ago, Rosen was the Cardinals’ first-round pick, selected No. 10 overall out of UCLA.

“Very rarely do you get a second chance to make a first impression,” Rosen said. “It felt like I got drafted twice.”

Rosen will look to build upon a rookie season during which he passed for 2,278 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He is expected to compete with veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick for playing time in Miami.

A fresh start offered plenty of reason for optimism, Rosen said. He was aware of critics who claimed he was a poor teammate and leader.

“I think I’m a really good teammate,” Rosen said. “What I’ve tried to do is not say or do anything extra, just kind of be me and keep my head down, and eventually the story will straighten out. I think it has for the most part. Time and consistency are the best medicine to cure the narrative.”

Here’s another narrative: A Dolphins quarterback has not been named to the Pro Bowl since Dan Marino in 1995.

“I’m aware of the situation,” Rosen said. “Hopefully I can follow in some semblance of his massive footsteps.”

–Field Level Media

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Colts sign RB Ware

Colts sign RB Ware

Free agent running back Spencer Ware agreed

Colts sign RB Ware

Free agent running back Spencer Ware agreed to a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard was with the Kansas City Chiefs when the team utilized Ware as its No. 1 running back.

Ware posted a career-high 1,368 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns in 2016 but suffered a season-ending knee injury in August 2017. Rookie Kareem Hunt took over for Ware in 2017.

The 27-year-old Ware gained 470 yards from scrimmage in 13 games last season.

Also Tuesday, the Colts waived safety Isaiah Johnson and defensive tackle DeShawn Williams and released wide receiver James Wright.

–Field Level Media

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RB Charles to join Chiefs, retire

RB Charles to join Chiefs, retire

Jamaal

RB Charles to join Chiefs, retire

Jamaal Charles plans to sign a ceremonial contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, then formally announce his retirement from the NFL.

Charles spent 11 seasons in the NFL after the Chiefs drafted him 73rd overall out of Texas in 2008. Charles rushed for 7,563 yards and had 2,593 receiving yards on 310 career catches.

He’s fourth all-time among players with at least 750 carries with a 5.4 yards-per-carry average.

Charles is the Chiefs’ all-time leading rusher with 7,260 yards in a Kansas City uniform.

A four-time Pro Bowl selection in nine seasons in Kansas City, he played sparingly for the Denver Broncos in 2017 and briefly was a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.

Now 32, Charles and the Chiefs are expected to announce plans for a formal retirement ceremony this week.

–Field Level Media

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Theismann open to Haskins use of Redskins’ No. 7

Theismann open to Haskins use of Redskins' No. 7

No one has worn No.

Theismann open to Haskins use of Redskins’ No. 7

No one has worn No. 7 for the Washington Redskins since Joe Theismann retired in 1985, but that could change this season.

Theismann told NBC Sports Washington he might just share it with Dwayne Haskins, the team’s first-round draft pick, who wore No. 7 while playing quarterback at Ohio State.

“I’m anxious to sit down and talk to Dwayne about that,” Theismann said. “I’m not opposed to it. I’m not saying yes yet, but I really want to sit down and talk to the young man and get a chance to meet him. I know he’s reached out and said he wants to ask me.”

Theismann said the two will meet when both are in the Washington area.

The Redskins have retired just one number – Sammy Baugh’s No. 33 – but keep some numbers on the bench, as they have with Theismann’s. Safety Landon Collins, signed as a free agent, wanted to wear No. 21, last worn by the late Sean Taylor. The team declined the request.

An OK from Theismann could help Haskins’ case, however.

“It’s what’s inside the jersey that makes a big difference,” Theismann said. “I’ve been very honored to have the Washington Redskins not have it issued to anyone over 30-plus years, and this is the first 7 that we’ve had come along, I think.

“So I really wanna sit down and have a visit with him and talk to him about it and then we’ll sort of decide going forward.”

Theismann, now 69, played his entire 12-year NFL career in Washington, following three seasons in the Canadian Football League. He led the Redskins to a victory in Super Bowl XVII in 1983.

–Field Level Media

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Former Pro Football Hall of Famer Marchetti dies

Former Pro Football Hall of Famer Marchetti dies

Former Pro Football Hall of Famer Marchetti dies

Former Baltimore Colts defensive end and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti died Monday night. Conflicting media reports listed his age as 92 or 93.

The Hall of Fame confirmed the news, which was met by an outpouring of support for the family in Indianapolis and Baltimore.

A veteran of the Battle of the Bulge against Nazi Germany, Marchetti was a nine-time All-Pro and 11-time Pro Bowl selection. The Colts won back-to-back championships with Marchetti anchoring the defensive line.

“You’ll never know the sleepless nights I had when Green Bay was getting ready to play Baltimore,” the late Forrest Gregg, the Packers’ Hall of Fame offensive tackle, once said of Marchetti in an interview.

Marchetti was one of three defensive ends named to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1994. The others were Deacon Jones and Reggie White.

Marchetti played for the Colts from 1953-66 after one season with the Dallas Texans in 1952; he was a second-round pick of the New York Yanks, but that franchise moved to Dallas before the 1952 season. The Texans folded after a 1-11 season and moved to Baltimore.

A three-year starter after his tour in the U.S. Army, Marchetti was a two-way tackle and part of the undefeated University of San Francisco team in 1951.

–Field Level Media

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Former Colts Hall of Famer Marchetti dies at 93

Former Colts Hall of Famer Marchetti dies at 93

Former Colts Hall of Famer Marchetti dies at 93

Former Baltimore Colts defensive end and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti died Monday night. He was 92.

The Hall of Fame confirmed the news, which was met by an outpouring of support for the family in Indianapolis and Baltimore.

A veteran of the Battle of the Bulge against Nazi Germany, Marchetti was a nine-time All-Pro and 11-time Pro Bowl selection. The Colts won back-to-back championships with Marchetti anchoring the defensive line.

“You’ll never know the sleepless nights I had when Green Bay was getting ready to play Baltimore,” the late Forrest Gregg, the Packers’ Hall of Fame offensive tackle, once said of Marchetti in an interview.

Marchetti was one of three defensive ends named to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1994. The others were Deacon Jones and Reggie White.

Marchetti played for the Colts from 1953-66 after one season with the Dallas Texans in 1952; he was a second-round pick of the New York Yanks, but that franchise moved to Dallas before the 1952 season. The Texans folded after a 1-11 season and moved to Baltimore.

A three-year starter after his tour in the U.S. Army, Marchetti was a two-way tackle and part of the undefeated University of San Francisco team in 1951.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Kraft ordered to appear at next court date

NFL notebook: Kraft ordered to appear at next court date

NFL notebook: Kraft ordered to appear at next court date

Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, was ordered to appear in West Palm Beach, Fla., for a hearing on the admissibility of video evidence in his prostitution and solicitation case.

Kraft, 77, asked through his attorneys for Judge Leonard Hanser to block the release of video evidence related to his visits to Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla. The visits on Jan. 19 and 20 resulted in what prosecutors claim is Kraft paying for and receiving sex acts at the spa.

Hanser called on Kraft, who lives in Palm Beach part-time, to appear May 21. Kraft has not yet appeared in person.

Kraft’s attorney, William Burck, challenged the collection of evidence on the basis of what he argued is precedent in Martin County. Judge Kathleen Roberts ruled against video evidence obtained at two spas because officers also obtained footage of patrons attending the spa for legitimate — and fully legal — reasons.

–Tom Brady has made a habit of collecting Lombardi trophies and consistently rates as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL into his 40s, but he is not paid at market value by today’s standard.

Brady is the 18th highest-paid player at the position in annual average contract value at $15 million — less than half of what Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks), Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) and Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) can take home on deals they’ve signed in the past 18 months.

Still, the Patriots quarterback said in an interview Thursday on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that he’s comfortable being the No. 2 earner in his own household, saying “… I think the thing I’ve always felt for me in my life, winning has been a priority. And my wife [model Gisele Bundchen] makes a lot of money.”

–New York Jets linebacker Darron Lee will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2019 season after the team declined to exercise the fifth-year option on his contract, a league source told ESPN.

Lee, the Jets’ first-round pick (20th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft, reportedly has lost his starting job to C.J. Mosley, who played five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens before signing a five-year, $85 million deal with New York.

–Former Washington Redskins linebacker Zach Brown signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, and according to NFL Network, the contract can be worth $3 million and Brown is guaranteed $1.5 million.

Brown, 29, was drafted by the Tennessee Titans and has also played for the Buffalo Bills. He spent the last two seasons in Washington. Brown was named to the Pro Bowl in 2016, when he had 149 tackles with the Bills.

–The Packers had two first-round picks in last week’s NFL draft and both have agreed to their rookie contracts.

Defensive end Rashan Gary, taken 12th overall, and safety Darnell Savage, taken 21st, are also the first two players taken in the first round to sign. Both players received the customary four-year deals allotted first-round picks, with a fifth-year team option that must be exercised before the start of the players’ fourth seasons.

–Nearly three years after he retired from the NFL over concussion concerns, San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Anthony Davis has requested reinstatement to the league in a letter to commissioner Roger Goodell, Pro Football Talk reported.

Davis, 29, played 72 games with the 49ers from 2010-16, but saw action in just one contest in his final season. The former first-round draft pick (11th overall) out of Rutgers missed the entire 2015 season after sustaining a concussion in 2014. Davis’ rights are still owned by the 49ers.

–New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur made it clear that rookie cornerback Corey Ballentine was a victim after not being at the club’s rookie minicamp due to a gunshot wound.

Ballentine was shot in the buttocks and close friend and Washburn (Kan.) University teammate Dwane Simmons was shot and killed during the early morning hours last Sunday in Topeka, Kan. Ballentine was instructed to stay away from the minicamp by the Giants to heal physically and emotionally.

–Daniel Jones, selected sixth overall in the draft, was on the field with the Giants eight days after the Duke quarterback was put in a precarious position.

Jones, 22, will be the backup to Super Bowl-winning franchise quarterback Eli Manning.

“This is a huge opportunity for someone like me. This was the place I wanted to be,” Jones said as the Giants began rookie minicamp. “To get the call, it was thrilling and I am happy to be here.”

–Field Level Media

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Option notebook: Lee, Nkemdiche, Ifedi to free agency after 2019

Option notebook: Lee, Nkemdiche, Ifedi to free agency after 2019

Option notebook: Lee, Nkemdiche, Ifedi to free agency after 2019

The New York Jets will not pick up linebacker Darron Lee’s fifth-year option before Friday’s deadline, according to multiple reports Thursday.

Lee, 24, has reportedly been shopped in trade talks for much of the offseason, but he remained on the team’s roster through last weekend’s draft.

His fifth-year option would have been worth about $9.5 million in 2020 and guaranteed only for injury. Instead, he is set to become a free agent after the 2019 season, unless the Jets release him before then.

Lee was drafted 20th overall in 2016. He had 74 tackles, three interceptions and five passes defensed last season while starting 12 games.

–NFL Network reported that the Arizona Cardinals will decline defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche’s fifth-year option, which would have been worth $7.7 million.

Nkemdiche, 24, had 4.5 sacks, seven quarterback hits and nine tackles for loss last season while missing six games due to injury. He had no sacks, three QB hits and one tackle for loss across 17 games in his first two seasons, missing time in each to injury.

Once pegged as a potential top-10 prospect, Nkemdiche slid to 29th overall in 2016 due to concerns about his work ethic and personality.

–The Seattle Seahawks will decline right tackle Germain Ifedi’s fifth-year option, according to multiple reports. The option would have been worth $10.4 million.

Ifedi, who turns 25 on June 2, has allowed 19 sacks — according to STATS LLC. — and committed 32 penalties through 44 games (all starts) across three seasons. He drew praise for improved play in 2018 but was still credited with a career-high seven sacks surrendered in 15 games.

The Seahawks took Ifedi 31st overall in 2016 after trading down five spots.

–The Carolina Panthers declined defensive tackle Vernon Butler’s fifth-year option, which would have been worth $7.7 million.

Butler, who turns 25 on June 14, has yet to start a game through three seasons, playing in 38 as a reserve. He has 45 career tackles (three for loss), two sacks and 10 QB hits.

The Panthers took Butler 30th overall in 2016.

–The San Francisco 49ers will decline the $10.4 million fifth-year option for guard Joshua Garnett, according to multiple reports.

Garnett, 25, played just 59 offensive snaps in seven games as a reserve last season after missing the whole 2017 campaign after knee surgery. He started 11 of 15 games as a rookie, giving up three sacks and committing four penalties.

The 49ers traded up nine spots to take Garnett 28th overall in 2016.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Chiefs’ Hill denies accusations in attorney’s letter

NFL notebook: Chiefs' Hill denies accusations in attorney's letter

NFL notebook: Chiefs’ Hill denies accusations in attorney’s letter

The attorney for Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill sent the NFL a four-page letter Thursday, a detailed denial of child abuse allegations made against his client.

In the letter obtained by ESPN, attorney N. Trey Pettlon accused Hill’s fiancee, Crystal Espinal, of abusing the couple’s 3-year-old son. Espinal secretly recorded a conversation she had with Hill that was broadcast last week by Kansas City station KCTV.

Pettlon wrote in the letter, “He (Hill) categorically denies he has ever ‘punched’ his son in the chest or anywhere on his body, or otherwise touched him in the chest in a mean-spirited manner or as a form of discipline.”

The attorney does not deny the audio in question is of Hill and Espinal, but does challenge Espinal’s assertion on the recording that the child in question is “terrified” of Hill. Pettlon also called a comment Hill made on the recording, “You need to be terrified of me, too, b–,” inexcusable.

–All-Pro linebacker Derrick Johnson will sign a one-day contract with the Chiefs next week, then retire, 610 Sports Radio reported.

Now 36, Johnson was the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick, No. 15 overall, in 2005. He played 13 seasons for Kansas City, and in 182 games (169 starts), he had 1,151 tackles, 14 interceptions, 27.5 sacks and 40 quarterback hits.

He played in six games for the Oakland Raiders last season, after the Chiefs released him, and started in one. He had 17 tackles with the Raiders.

–The Raiders released veteran tight end Lee Smith and officially re-signed running back Doug Martin.

Smith, 31, had two years remaining on a three-year, $9 million extension signed last March. Considered one of the league’s best blocking tight ends, he spent the last four years with the Raiders, catching 36 passes for 248 yards and four touchdowns, including three TDs in 2018.

Martin’s re-signing was reported Wednesday. He led the Raiders with 172 carries for 723 yards and four scores last season.

–Free agent edge rusher Shane Ray will visit the Seattle Seahawks on Friday, NFL Network reported.

Ray, who turns 26 on May 18, remains unsigned after playing out his rookie contract with the Denver Broncos, who last spring declined the former first-rounder’s fifth-year option for 2019.

Ray had eight sacks and 21 quarterback hits as a rotational rusher in 2016, but he has just two sacks and five QB hits since while battling injuries and missing 13 games.

–Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage became the first of the 2019 first-round draft picks to sign his rookie contract.

Like all first-round picks, Savage received a four-year deal with a fifth-year option for 2023, his agent announced.

The Packers traded up from No. 30 to No. 21 to take Savage last Thursday, swapping first-round picks and giving Seattle two fourth-round picks in the deal. The Maryland product was Green Bay’s second first-round pick, after Rashan Gary at No. 12.

–The Los Angeles Rams waived safety Blake Countess, though they have interest in potentially bringing him back, according to the team’s website.

NFL Network reports Countess declined to take a pay cut from his $2 million restricted free agent tender, leading to his release. Los Angeles drafted safeties Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott this weekend.

Countess, 25, has 44 tackles, two interceptions and three pass breakups across 37 games (four starts) in three seasons with the Rams, playing primarily special teams.

–The Minnesota Vikings signed eight of their 12 draft picks, including second-round tight end Irv Smith, to four-year rookie contracts.

Others signed are running back Alexander Mattison (third round), offensive linemen Dru Samia (fourth) and Oli Udoh (sixth), linebacker Cameron Smith (fifth), safety Marcus Epps (sixth), and wide receivers Dillon Mitchell (seventh) and Olabisi Johnson (seventh).

–Free agent tight end Maxx Williams will join the Arizona Cardinals, he announced on Twitter.

Williams, 25, was a second-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2015 but never emerged as much of a receiving threat, finishing his tenure with 63 catches for 497 yards and three touchdowns.

–The New York Jets claimed quarterback Luke Falk off waivers from the Miami Dolphins, according to multiple reports.

Considered a likely mid-round pick in 2018, Falk slipped to the Tennessee Titans in Round 6 and was waived during final cuts. The Dolphins claimed him and kept him through 2018 before waiving him Wednesday.

–The New England Patriots signed linebacker Shilique Calhoun and defensive lineman Nick Thurman, in addition to 10 undrafted rookies.

Calhoun, 27, was a third-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2016 but has just a half-sack and seven QB hits through 26 career games.

–Field Level Media

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Bucs’ Pierre-Paul out of hospital after car accident

Bucs' Pierre-Paul out of hospital after car accident

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive

Bucs’ Pierre-Paul out of hospital after car accident

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was released from a hospital stay on Thursday after a car crash, the team announced Thursday evening.

“We have been informed that Jason was involved in a one-car accident early this morning in South Florida in which he was not cited,” general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “We know that he was evaluated at a local hospital and has since been released.

“Our immediate concern is for the safety and well-being of Jason and his passenger. We have been in contact with Jason and will be getting him further evaluated by our medical staff in the near future.”

TMZ reported Pierre-Paul’s SUV crashed around 5 a.m. in Broward County, and he was rushed to the hospital. The report added Pierre-Paul was not speeding or accused of any wrongdoing, and he was “doing fine” after being released from the hospital.

Pierre-Paul, 30, is from Deerfield Beach, Fla., in Broward County. He missed time due to an off-field injury in 2015, after losing a finger and part of a second finger in a fireworks accident in Miami on July 4.

Pierre-Paul was traded from the New York Giants to the Buccaneers in March 2018, a year after signing a four-year, $62 million extension. He had 12.5 sacks, 20 quarterback hits and 16 tackles for loss in 16 games in 2018, his highest marks since 2014.

Last April, Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith injured his ankle as the passenger in a single-car accident, requiring surgery that ended his 2018 season. Licht said earlier this month that Beckwith is still seeing specialists about the ankle, and his status for the 2019 season is in doubt.

–Field Level Media

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Judge orders Kraft to appear at next court date

Judge orders Kraft to appear at next court date

Judge orders Kraft to appear at next court date

Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, was ordered to appear in West Palm Beach, Fla., for a hearing on the admissibility of video evidence in his prostitution and solicitation case.

Kraft, 77, asked through his attorneys for Judge Leonard Hanser to block the release of video evidence related to his visits to Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla. The visits on Jan. 19 and 20 resulted in what prosecutors claim is Kraft paying for and receiving sex acts at the spa.

Hanser called on Kraft, who lives in Palm Beach part-time, to appear May 21. Kraft has not yet appeared in person.

Kraft’s attorney, William Burck, challenged the collection of evidence on the basis of what he argued is precedent in Martin County. Judge Kathleen Roberts ruled against video evidence obtained at two spas because officers also obtained footage of patrons attending the spa for legitimate — and fully legal — reasons.

Burck introduced the ruling Wednesday, noting law enforcement did not follow minimization requirements to avoid collecting material unrelated to crimes.

–Field Level Media

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McIlroy, Dahmen share lead at Wells Fargo

McIlroy, Dahmen share lead at Wells Fargo

McIlroy, Dahmen share lead at Wells Fargo

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy shot a 5-under-par round of 66 on Thursday to share the first-round lead with Joel Dahmen at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C.

After shooting even par on the front nine, McIlroy blistered the back side of the Quail Hollow Club in 5-under 31 thanks to five birdies over a seven-hole stretch. He was the first to get into the clubhouse at 5 under, with Dahmen birdieing the 18th hole several groups later to match McIlroy.

McIlroy earned his first career PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow in 2010, and is the only two-time winner of the event. However, there is still a stacked leaderboard behind him.

Five players only one shot off the pace include 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, Adam Schenk, Scotland’s Marin Laird, Canada’s Nick Taylor and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli. Another shot back at 3 under is Australia’s Jason Day, who is attempting to defend a title on the PGA Tour for the first time. He had five birdies against two bogeys in posting 68.

“It was good today,” Day told reporters after the round. “You had to be careful with that wind today, because it is moving around a little bit, but overall very pleased with the opening.”

Day was paired with Phil Mickelson, who is tied for 47th after an even-par round of 71, same as previous event champion Rickie Fowler. After carding a pair of birdies and bogeys through the first eight holes while starting on the back nine, Mickelson reeled off 10 consecutive pars to close his round.

“My game feels a lot better than my score today,” Mickelson said. “It was kind of a lethargic, lazy, unexciting round. Hit a lot of greens and didn’t make any putts. I came in here fresh, and I think the next three days it’s going to get better.”

Webb Simpson, whose home is located on the course, is within striking distance at 2 under and said being at his home course no longer presents distractions in trying to compete.

“This week has been pretty laid back. We did all of our busy stuff already,” he told the Golf Channel. “Saw a lot of people early in the week, but now it’s time to focus on golf. I feel like I’ve learned how to just enjoy it and use it to my advantage.”

NOTES: Tiger Woods, the 2008 event winner, is not in the field and is not expected to play until the PGA Championship in two weeks. … McIlroy will turn 30 on Saturday and has seven top-10 finishes in nine starts this year. … The Wells Fargo Championship is one of seven Tour events Mickelson has played at least 15 times without posting a victory.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles sign LB Brown

Eagles sign LB Brown

Former Redskins linebacker

Eagles sign LB Brown

Former Redskins linebacker Zach Brown signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

According to NFL Network, the contract can be worth $3 million and Brown is guaranteed $1.5 million.

Brown, 29, was drafted by the Tennessee Titans and has also played for the Buffalo Bills. He spent the last two seasons in Washington.

Brown was named to the Pro Bowl in 2016 when he had 149 tackles with the Bills.

–Field Level Media

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